Watch for the Recycle logo to find gems from the back issues!
Geologist radically reinterprets the geological layers. In Geology, he argues they are not a
Lyellian time sequence, but rather a fractal hierarchy. See the 03/05/2004 entry.
Seeing Vision in a New Light 03/31/2008
March 31, 2008 The eye is like a camera, right? That picture is way too
simplistic. The eye-brain visual system does image processing and gleans information from photons in
diverse and remarkable ways. Here are some recent findings by scientists:
To avoid human chauvinism, lets look into the eyes of some animals living
underwater that can, in certain ways, outperform our own visual tricks. The
winner in both cases is among the humblest creatures you would ever suspect to find
such abilities: the mantis shrimp.
- Upward mobility: A team of Harvard scientists found some retinal
ganglion cells that sense upward motion. Writing in Nature,1
The retina contains complex circuits of neurons that extract salient information from visual inputs. Signals from photoreceptors are processed by retinal interneurons, integrated by retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and sent to the brain by RGC axons. Distinct types of RGC respond to different visual features, such as increases or decreases in light intensity (ON and OFF cells, respectively), colour or moving objects. Thus, RGCs comprise a set of parallel pathways from the eye to the brain....
....Here we show, by means of a transgenic marking method, that junctional adhesion molecule B (JAM-B) marks a previously unrecognized class of OFF RGCs.... These cells have asymmetric dendritic arbors aligned in a dorsal-to-ventral direction across the retina. Their receptive fields are also asymmetric and respond selectively to stimuli moving in a soma-to-dendrite direction; because the lens reverses the image of the world on the retina, these cells detect upward motion in the visual field. Thus, JAM-B identifies a unique population of RGCs in which structure corresponds remarkably to function.
- Got your number: The retina can also respond to a quality called numerosity
a nonverbal, visual sense of number. David Burr and John Ross, writing in
Current Biology,2 summarized this unusual ability of the eye:
Evidence exists for a nonverbal capacity for the apprehension of number, in humans (including infants) and in other primates. Here, we show that perceived numerosity is susceptible to adaptation, like primary visual properties of a scene, such as color, contrast, size, and speed. Apparent numerosity was decreased by adaptation to large numbers of dots and increased by adaptation to small numbers, the effect depending entirely on the numerosity of the adaptor, not on contrast, size, orientation, or pixel density, and occurring with very low adaptor contrasts. We suggest that the visual system has the capacity to estimate numerosity and that it is an independent primary visual property, not reducible to others like spatial frequency or density of texture.
- Go with the flow: Many photographs and videos are taken with the camera fixed
on a tripod. What happens to the visual scene in a movie when the camera is mounted on
a galloping horse, train engine or race car? It certainly becomes more dynamic and much
more difficult to process the information.
We saw that dragonflies are masters of optic flow, and that scientists are
keen to imitate their special visual organ that processes the information from rapid forward
direction (08/13/2004). Frank Bremmer summarized some new findings
in Current Biology that says human eyes also have some of this ability.3 This gives us
processing powers beyond the simple interpretation of an image coming through a lens.
Optic flow is a key signal for heading perception. A new study has shown that the human brain can dissociate between consistent (natural) and inconsistent flow, revealing what is likely a new hierarchy in visual motion processing.
He reported on recent surprising findings that showed certain areas of the visual cortex, labeled MST, VIP and CSv,
appear to be processing stations for optic flow information.
Taken together, these new results suggest that area MST may be a preprocessing stage acting like a tuned filter for visual self-motion signals. Areas VIP and CSv, on the other hand, could be seen as downstream processing stages judging the ecological validity of the self-motion signals. This interpretation would indicate a previously unknown hierarchy within the human visual cortical motion system.
- Color me blue: Brian Wandell, Stanford psychologist, wrote in
Current Biology about another stimulating fact: the colors activated by the
cones that react to red, green or blue when those colors come through the
lens (or are transmitted from video pixels) also see the corresponding colors
when the neurons themselves are stimulated.4 Commenting on a study of a patient
that had electrodes implanted into the visual cortex, he said:
Directly stimulating certain cortical neurons can produce a color sensation; a case is reported in which the color perceived by stimulation is the same as the color that most effectively excites the cortical circuitry....
These results teach us that even the simplest stimulation is capable of stirring up a perceptually meaningful response from the cortical circuitry. One possibility is that the complex molecular and neural circuitry that serves this portion of the brain is tolerant of a wide range of potential inputs, and that nearly any stimulation of this circuitry evokes a characteristic (resonant) response. The resonant response of these specific circuits is the experience of color.
None of the above articles mentioned evolution once.
- Polar opposites: For the first time, scientists found an animal with
the ability to discern circularly polarized light: the mantis shrimp. An international team of
scientists reported this in Current Biology5 with some
obvious pride at being #1 to discover this feat:
We describe the addition of a fourth visual modality in the animal kingdom, the perception of circular polarized light. Animals are sensitive to various characteristics of light, such as intensity, color, and linear polarization. This latter capability can be used for object identification, contrast enhancement, navigation, and communication through polarizing reflections. Circularly polarized reflections from a few animal species have also been known for some time. Although optically interesting, their signal function or use (if any) was obscure because no visual system was known to detect circularly polarized light. Here, in stomatopod crustaceans, we describe for the first time a visual system capable of detecting and analyzing circularly polarized light. Four lines of evidencebehavior, electrophysiology, optical anatomy, and details of signal designare presented to describe this new visual function. We suggest that this remarkable ability mediates sexual signaling and mate choice, although other potential functions of circular polarization vision, such as enhanced contrast in turbid environments, are also possible. The ability to differentiate the handedness of circularly polarized light, a visual feat never expected in the animal kingdom, is demonstrated behaviorally here for the first time.
- Super sight: In the latest issue of Creation magazine (March-May, 2008),6
Jonathan Sarfati described one amazing feature of the mantis shrimp, its Guinness-level
power punch: it can flick its snapper at 51 mph, generating an acceleration of 10,600 g.
But thats not all. In a sidebar, he talked about another Guinness-level ability:
the shrimps super sight. Would you believe this little crustacean
has one of the worlds most complex color vision systems?
While humans have three different types of colour receptor (red, green and blue), the
shrimp has 12. Four of these can see in the ultraviolet, which we cant.
Furthermore, they can tune their vision with special transparent colour filters
to compensate for the way water absorbs different colours differently.
1. Kim, Zhang, Yagamata, Meister and Sanes, Molecular identification of a retinal cell type that responds to upward motion,
452, 478-482 (27 March 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06739.
2. David Burr and John Ross, A Visual Sense of Number,
Vol 18, 425-428, 25 March 2008, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2008.02.052.
3. Frank Benner, Visual Neuroscience: The Brains Interest in Natural Flow,
Volume 18, Issue 6, 25 March 2008, Pages R263-R265, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2008.01.023.
4. Brian Wandell, Colour Vision: Cortical Circuitry for Appearance,
Volume 18, Issue 6, 25 March 2008, Pages R250-R251, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.01.045.
5. Chou, Kleinlogel, Cronin, Caldwell, Loeffler, Siddiqi, Goldizen and Marshall,
Circular Polarization Vision in a Stomatopod Crustacean,
Volume 18, Issue 6, 25 March 2008, Pages 429-434, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.02.066.
6. Jonathan Sarfati, Shrimpy superboxer,
Volume 30, Issue 2, Published March 2008, pp. 12-13.
Isnt this terrific? What amazing things
are found in nature. The eye gave Darwin cold shudders, but now we know that
it is far more complex than he knew. And some of the most remarkable capabilities
reside in the humblest of creatures. Shrimp are crustaceans a subphylum of arthropods,
whose members extend all the way back to the Cambrian. This means that the lowest
fossil layers containing multicellular animals already display these technologies
Squid Beak: A Truly Fascinating Design 03/30/2008
This circuitry and the complex processing software did not emerge by chance.
Each of these capabilities are systems involving hardware and software.
They require programmed analysis and response to sensory inputs. Eyes are
able to extract all kinds of interesting information from light, much more than
you would think from the simple diagram in most textbooks of an inverted camera-like
image on a retina.
The research done to find these abilities was done in intelligently-designed
labs by intelligent scientists using reverse-engineering principles. Intelligent
design is present de facto from beginning to end. Evolution is blind,
they say; well, evolutionary theory is also blind. Take off the blinders and see the
creation through created eyes.
Next headline on:
March 30, 2008 A new class of flexible yet tough materials may be in our future,
thanks to a study of squid beaks. Scientists at University of Santa Barbara,
Geographic News and Science
Daily, were curious how the squid anchors its tough, hard beak in soft tissue.
Try anchoring a knife in Jell-o and you get a picture of the problem.
The squids secret is a progressive stiffening from the soft tissue
where it is anchored to the beak itself. This allows the force from the beak
to be gradually attenuated down the structure. The tip is extremely stiff,
yet the base is 100 times more compliant, allowing it to blend with surrounding tissue,
the article states.
If engineers could imitate this graduated stiffness technique, This could
really revolutionize the way engineers think about attaching materials together.
Ali Miserez, the lead author, noted another benefit. Biological materials are made
by animals at the temperature of oceans and using naturally occurring chemicals, he said.
If we can fully understand the chemistry and copy it, then that could lead to a generation
of synthetic materials that are less harsh to the environment and made at a lower energetic cost.
Frank Zok, a materials scientist at UCSB and co-author of the study, was fascinated with the squid solution to an
engineering problem. You can imagine the problems youd encounter if
you attached a knife blade to a block of Jell-o and tried to use that blade for cutting.
The blade would cut through the Jell-o at least as much as the targeted object, he
said. In the case of the squid beak, nature takes care of the problem
by changing the beak composition progressively, rather than abruptly, so that its tip
can pierce prey without harming the squid in the process.
Its a truly fascinating design!
The original paper in Science also used the word design.1
The abstract stated: These findings may serve as a foundation for identifying design principles
for attaching mechanically mismatched materials in engineering and biological applications.
Further down, another sentence said, We found that the squids task is facilitated by a beak design
that incorporates large gradients in mechanical properties, intricately linked with local
macromolecular composition, from the hard, stiff tip to the soft, compliant base.
In a commentary on the paper in the same issue,2 Phillip Messersmith,
a biomedical engineer at Northwestern U, compared human engineering to animal design:
Current synthetic biomimetic materials remain primitive in comparison to their
natural counterparts. Our ability to incorporate elements of biological inspiration
into the design of synthetic materials will be further enhanced through studies
such as that by Miserez et al. that advance our understanding of the composition,
structure, and processing of complex biological tissues.
1. Miserez, Schneberk, Sun, Zok and Waite, The Transition from Stiff to Compliant Materials in Squid Beaks,
28 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5871, pp. 1816-1819, DOI: 10.1126/science.1154117.
2. Phillip B. Messersmith, Materials Science: Multitasking in Tissues and Materials,
28 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5871, pp. 1767-1768, DOI: 10.1126/science.1155122.
Thank you, reporters and scientists, for sparing us any evolution
talk in these reports. Fability (01/16/2007 commentary)
is not a requirement for understanding or for science-advancing inspiration.
Expelled Surges in the Blogosphere 03/29/2008
Next headline on:
March 29, 2008 There are probably few people who havent heard about
Ben Steins upcoming documentary,
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.
The film documents persecution of intelligent-design advocates by Darwinists.
Unusual for a non-fiction documentary, it seems to be the talk of the blogs.
On March 24 it was #1 on BlogPulse, a Nielsen meter of the hottest topics in internet blogs
(see report on Evolution
The producers made the unusual move of announcing the film early last August.
It was first scheduled for release on Darwins birthday, February 12, but got delayed till
April 18. Whether interest has peaked prematurely remains to be seen.
One factor skyrocketing the blog talk was the unsuccessful attempt by anti-creationist blogger P.Z. Myers to storm a private
screening on March 20 in Minneapolis though prominent atheist Richard Dawkins got in
News). Aside from the attempted gate-crashing by the two atheists who appear
in the film making strident anti-religious statements, interest in the film seems high
A wide spectrum of Darwin critics, from Biblical
CMI) to big-tent ID advocates
(Discovery Institute; see
Access Research Network for links to
reviews), to conservative radio talk show hosts
Limbaugh), Catholics, Jews (Michael Medved, Daniel Lapin),
Protestants (R.C. Sproul,
Lee Strobel) and many bloggers just interested in the debate have been praising the film.
Darwinists, on the other hand, are either laying low or expressing outrage. Some merely
repeat Darwinist talking points about science and religion, but some of them
are expressing their views in color commentary of the red kind. Spots on TV and
radio news programs will probably increase throughout April.
Time will tell if Expelled proves to be a box office flop
or a blockbuster. It appears some Darwinians are scheming to subvert Ben Steins
revolution before the premiere; others are ignoring it, hoping it will blow over.
Supporters of Darwinism have been thrown a curve ball since Ben Stein is a pretty
likeable celebrity to most people, and is certainly not a Christian
fundamentalist. They seem to be trying to undermine the film by
calling Stein a comedian or focusing on the fact that he is not
a scientist. In response, Stein argues this is not a scientific question,
but an issue of academic freedom and honest debate (read his essay on
official Expelled website contains
news, the blog, resources, stories, paraphernalia, resource kits and even a
merciless satires on Darwin and his defenders. Dont do a Google search
on Expelled and Ben Stein unless you want to read 192,000 hits.
Lest advocates on either side think that tossing scientific evidences at the other side will be
sufficient to win the debate, it would be worthwhile to review something about the philosophy
of science. Most people (and most science reporters, and many scientists) are oblivious
to the upheavals in philosophy of science that have occurred over the last two centuries.
They assume the simplistic, positivistic notion that dresses up evolutionary theory in the
same robes as the science of
and Maxwell. Science is
imagined as a uniform tradition of smart people who follow a tried-and-true method
that is guaranteed to produce knowledge of reality if not
right away, then eventually, because the scientific method drives inquiry down the road to Truth.
Is that picture defensible?
A leading evolutionary theorist, J. D. Hamilton, left a disturbing legacy
of thoughts about eugenics, genocide, racism and other ugly ideas,
says a reviewer of his last opus, from 03/07/2002.
One of the most outspoken gadflies against the simplistic picture
of science in recent memory was Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994). While not endorsing
all his ideas some of them radical we would like to review
some of his criticisms of science as worth thinking about. Here is the
way philosophy of science professor Jeffrey Kasser (North Carolina State U) summarized some
of his views in the
Teaching Company lecture series, Philosophy of Science
Now, with his mischievous manner and his emphasis on
unbridled creativity, Feyerabend is often taken to be anti-science. And this,
I think, is quite unfair. Feyerabends great heroes are scientists like
Galileo, and he thinks that back in Galileos day, science opposed dogmatism,
and stood with creativity and humaneness.
Does the shoe fit the Darwiniacs? Is not Ben Stein making the same accusations?
The point here, again, is not to hold up Feyerabend as The Sage of Science, but to reveal
that other notable philosophers like him have criticized the very same things portrayed
in Expelled: the dogmatism and close-mindedness of a certain sector of scientists
who behave like an intolerant priesthood.
But Feyerabend believes that this
is actually no longer the case. He thinks that science these days resembles
the Catholic church of Galileos day, not Galileo. He thinks that it
stifles the spirit and the imagination of those who are involved in it, especially
Kuhnian normal science, and it bullies those who dont understand
We have a scientific monopoly on legitimate intellectual authority in our
culture, he thinks, and he calls science a threat to democracy because you and
I dont have a clear understanding of what research our society performs or
encourages, and we shouldnt trust the sort of Orwellian guardians of normal
science who want funding for whatever they tell us is important. We dont
understand their claims, and were being pushed around by these people.
So normal science, he thinks, supports its own continuation, not
Not all sciences are created equal. Economics and psychology
should not share the prestige of physics, but even the hard sciences have
serious struggles justifying their claims. Something is unique about Darwinism.
When it comes to the science of evolution, all the major
scientific institutions tend to go far, far beyond its evidential support
Darwinists make outrageous claims (05/09/2006), and then bully
anyone who doesnt kowtow to the consensus (recent example on
World Magazine). Feyerabend was one of the most vocal about
this tendency, but there were certainly others who have said similar things.
Thomas Kuhn, ironically, called it normal science to work within
a paradigm without questioning it. Other philosophers have noted the social and
historical character of science. Even the most respected 20th-century philosophers
who have defended the epistemic authority of
science have struggled to argue that it relates to reality, even when it appears to work.
Science should be, if anything, a search for
the truth about the world. It should follow the evidence where it leads.
An honest solo scientist who is right is worth a thousand who follow a consensus.
Science, further, is restricted in its domain. It can only hope to establish certain things
with a degree of confidence that are observable, testable and repeatable.
Even those things are hard to establish, to say nothing of grand theories of everything.
One should not think for a moment, therefore,
that what Ben Stein and the advocates of intelligent design are complaining about
is some new, fringe problem that can be ignored. It really is a major conflict
that has been building a head of steam for a long time. It is a matter of
justice. It really is time
for a scientific revolution.
A film can only do so much. For years we have been advocating
opening the doors and windows and letting fresh air into the halls of science
Indeed, we have said, it is time to storm the Darwin Party castle and kick the rascals out
02/01/2007). It will be
up to you and me to harness the momentum of this film and keep it going, to build on it,
and make the revolution happen. Students, teachers, preachers, citizens, parents
are you content with the status quo? Do you want to let the persecutors and
dogmatists remain in power, shutting down debate, ridiculing critics, preventing
honest teaching of evolution, ruining careers,
and taking over all aspects of life, including
the law, politics, economics, the arts, all the sciences, and even morals and religion?
Then here is a golden opportunity to do something.
This film needs to succeed at the box office. Documentaries
rarely get huge turnouts, so this one needs grass-roots support. Buy a ticket.
Take your friends. Take your classmates, your church, your coworkers.
Contact your local theater and make sure they show it (example:
Carmike.com). Dont just wait for
the DVD; lets set a record at the box office. It will send a powerful
statement to the Darwin Party that their days of dogmatic control are over.
But realize, too, that this
film will fade from memory in a few months, as even the best films do.
Follow it up with discussions,
letters to the editor, involvement at school board meetings, and action.
Talk about it. Write about it.
Dont go off half-cocked, speaking with braggadocio about more than you
know. Become informed about evidence and skilled in tactics.
Let Creation-Evolution Headlines be a key
resource for news and information specifics that can provide a wealth of support
for your arguments.
Next headline on:
Explaining Two Billion Years Without Evolution 03/28/2008
March 28, 2008 How does an evolutionist explain the perception that (within
their timeline), no multicellular animals emerged for two billion years after the
origin of life? Jonathan Wells has compared this to walking down a football
field and encountering nothing but single cells till the 60 yard line, then boom!
all the animal phyla with their complex body plans suddenly appear in one step.
A new plot was discovered by researchers at
UC Riverside: the microbes were waiting for shipments of oxygen and molybdenum to arrive.
Daily reported how Tim Lyons and his research buddies measured oxygen and molybdenum
traces in black shales thought to correspond to the time before the Cambrian explosion.
The idea is that Molybdenum is a key micronutrient for life and serves as a
proxy for oceanic and atmospheric oxygen amounts.
Measuring elements in rocks is one thing, but the authors assumed that
the mere presence of these two elements in greater amounts was sufficient to supercharge
evolution. Here are some examples from the press release, titled
Reason For Almost Two Billion Year Delay In Animal Evolution On Earth Discovered.
Suspecting that deficiencies in oxygen and molybdenum might explain this evolutionary lag...
These molybdenum depletions may have retarded the development of complex life such as animals
for almost two billion years of Earth history, Lyons said. The amount of molybdenum
in the ocean probably played a major role in the development of early life. As in the
case of iron today, molybdenum can be thought of as a life-affirming micronutrient that regulates
the biological cycling of nitrogen in the ocean.
These steps in oxygenation are what gave rise ultimately to the first animals almost 600
million years ago -- just the last tenth or so of Earth history.
For animal life to commence, survive and eventually expand on Earth, a threshold
amount of oxygen -- estimated to be on the order of 1 to 10 percent of present atmospheric
levels of oxygen -- was needed.
By tracking molybdenum in shales rich in organic matter, we found the deep ocean
remained oxygen- and molybdenum-deficient after the first step. This condition
may have had a negative impact on the evolution of early eukaryotes, our single-celled ancestors.
[Clinton Scott, grad student]
So one question is: Did this global glaciation [Snowball Earth] play a role in the increasing
abundance of oxygen which, in turn, enabled the evolution of animals? [Scott]
One gets the distinct impression that they believe evolution was poised like a chained racehorse,
held back by a deficiency of two elements;
otherwise, it surely would have exploded into complex forms much earlier. Is this what
the original paper in Nature claimed?1 Yes, but with a
lot less fanfare and confidence:
The oxidation state of the Proterozoic ocean between these two steps and the timing
of deep-ocean oxygenation have important implications for the evolutionary course of life
on Earth but remain poorly known.
Subsequent expansion of sulphidic conditions after about 1,800 Myr ago maintained
a mid-Proterozoic molybdenum reservoir below 20 per cent of the modern inventory,
which in turn may have acted as a nutrient feedback limiting the spatiotemporal
distribution of euxinic (sulphidic) bottom waters and perhaps the evolutionary and
ecological expansion of eukaryotic organisms.
These results and our estimates for the size of the oceanic reservoir
are consistent with the hypothesis that the drawdown of Mo into sulphidic
environments may have worked to restrict the occurrence and the evolutionary path of
eukaryotes through the bioinorganic bridge linking Mo to N bioavailability.
Our interpretation of Mo cycling in the Late Neoproterozoic suggests
that modern redox and nutrient cycles were well established by 551 Myr, shortly after
the initial oxidation of the deep ocean, and that the appearance of the first large animals
followed not only the oxidation of the deep ocean but also the establishment of
modern biogeochemical cycles.
1. Scott, Lyons et al, Tracing the stepwise oxygenation of the Proterozoic ocean,
452, 456-459 (27 March 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06811.
Well, what do you know? (always a good question for a scientist).
They just found another building block of lie (03/19/2008).
Better check and see if Enceladus received its molybdenum shipment yet (03/26/2008 commentary).
Scientist Harnesses ATP Synthase 03/27/2008
You will understand science reporting about evolution these days when you memorize
the Darwin Party M.O. (and thats not the chemical symbol for molybdenum here, but
modus operandi). A review.
Step 1: Assume evolution.
Step 2: Observe a fact.
Step 3: Make up a story to show how the fact might fit in with the assumption of evolution.
Tomorrows entry will describe another part of the process:Next headline on:
Darwin and Evolutionary Theory
Step 4: Attack, ridicule, hate, persecute and destroy anyone who questions the Darwin Party orthodoxy.
March 27, 2008 How would you like shorter waits at airports? fast screening
for disease? the ability to detect biological warfare agents quickly?
That may be possible soon thanks to an amazing man-and-nature cooperative
technology reported by Science
Daily. A team led by Wayne Frasch at Arizona State is on the verge of an
invention that can do these things, because he was fascinated by the worlds
tiniest molecular motor, ATP synthase, and found a way to harness its rotational energy.
You can read all about it in the article. Whats most
interesting, though, is what the press release said about ATP synthase (also called F0-F1 ATPase, with two functional domains,
F0 and F1), and what it did not say about evolution:
Even more incredible than the device itself, is that it is based on the worlds
tiniest rotary motor: a biological engine measured on the order of molecules.
The device is sure to find additional applications. This article said nothing
about how the three-cylinder Mazda rotary motor analogue, essential for
energy control in all living things, might have evolved.
Frasch works with the enzyme F1-adenosine triphosphatase, better known as F1-ATPase.
This enzyme, only 10 to 12 nanometers in diameter, has an axle that spins and
produces torque. This tiny wonder is part of a complex of proteins key to
creating energy in all living things, including photosynthesis in plants.
F1-ATPase breaks down adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to adenosine diphospahte [sic] (ADP), releasing
energy. Previous studies of its structure and characteristics have been
the source of two Nobel Prizes awarded in 1979 and 1997.
It was through his own detailed study of the rotational mechanism of the F1-ATPase,
which operates like a three-cylinder Mazda rotary motor, that Frasch conceived of
a way to take this tiny biological powerhouse and couple it with science
applications outside of the human body.
ATP synthase has become a favorite molecular machine for the Intelligent
Design movement as evidence of irreducibly complex structures. For earlier
articles here, see the first entry on the April 2002 page
and follow the links, or enter "ATP Synthase" in the search bar. See also
and 02/23/2005 entries.
The line between natural technology and human
technology is seamless. Where does blind nature end and intelligent design
begin? How would an independent observer happening upon the nanostructure
know where the natural ended and the artificial began? If he
were rightly to infer design for the nanoprobe and its blinking light, on what
basis would he infer chance and mindless natural forces had built the Mazda-like
rotary engine? The design inference is appropriate in both cases.
Enceladus: Hotter Chemical Plume Found 03/26/2008
Was evolutionary theory helpful at all for this wondrous invention
that may revolutionize biomedical testing and enhance national security?
The scientist was intrigued by a natural nanotech motor and found a way to use it
for human good. Would it have added anything to spin an imaginary
story set in some mythical prehistory about how ATP synthase evolved?
Come now. Early scientists were
motivated by the design and orderliness of nature that they viewed as the handiwork
of an all-wise, omnipotent Creator. Todays story is a classic case
of intelligent-design-guided science and technology, just like the old days.
Darwinism is a parasite on the process of discovering and advancing the
knowledge that really matters to us.
Next headline on:
March 26, 2008 Initial results of Cassinis March 12 flyby of Enceladus
have been published. You can watch a replay of todays
read the blog,
and read illustrated bulletins about the organic
signatures, hot spot
locations, the stellar
occultation (see also the Quicktime
animation). Another article shows the plume
locations. An astrobiologist (Chris McKay) added his
speculations about life.
The encounter preview page
contains links to more information, including the flyby
details (PDF), and the video page contains an eye-grabbing animation
of the flyby sequence as it was programmed with each instruments activities. Here is the rundown on the major findings:
Though this brief press flurry did not mention it, Cassini also took a gorgeous mosaic
of the north pole of Enceladus including areas not previously imaged at high
resolution. The mosaic can be seen at the
Imaging Team catalog page
for March 13.
- The hot spots align predominantly right along the tiger stripe fractures at the south pole.
- The highest temperatures lie at certain points along the tiger stripes where plumes have been seen.
- Temperatures are hotter than earlier measurements: -135° F. (compared
to a background temperature of less than -300° F.). This indicates a great deal
of energy is being transferred from the interior.
- Some transverse warm areas were detected, oriented perpendicular to the stripes.
- The material jets out at over 1000 mph and was strong enough to produce a measurable torque on Cassini, 120 miles away.
- Though most of the jets consist of ice grains 1/10,000 of an inch in diameter,
simple organics were detected (methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde)
and some complex organics (propane, propyne, acetylene).
- No ammonia was found.
Scientists had hoped that ammonia might depress the melting point of water and make
the plumes easier to explain.
- The plumes appear to emerge from localized regions about half a tennis court in
area, but extended along narrow strips within the tiger stripes.
Leader of the INMS (Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer) instrument Hunter Waite (Southwest
Research Institute, San Antonio) was most surprised that the chemical brew emerging from
the plumes resembles that of a comet. Enceladus is obviously not a comet.
He described the cocktail as being like carbonated water with an essence of natural gas.
At this time, no one speculated about the origin of the plumes or how they
could be maintained for billions of years. John Spencer of the CIRS team (Composite
Infrared Spectrometer) did say that the temperatures could be hotter further down enough
to allow for liquid water.
Water that was the magic word. The astrobiologists kicked
into gear. Enceladus has got warmth, water and organic chemicals, some of
the essential building blocks needed for life, said Dennis Matson, project scientist
We have quite a recipe for life on our hands, but we have yet to find the final ingredient,
liquid water, but Enceladus is only whetting our appetites for more. These thoughts
were also echoed on the NASA TV press briefing as if scripted. Matson and astrobiologist Chris McKay
in a related feature
talked about the feasibility of exotic life and contrasted the primordial soup theory
with the deep sea vent theory. Either theory would work on Enceladus, they
claimed. The confidence that life is nearly inevitable contrasted starkly
against an admitted background of ignorance and controversy: We dont know how long it takes for life to start when
the ingredients are there and the environment is suitable, but it appears to have
happened quickly on Earth, the article said. Then, with a bow to a Darwin metaphor,
it continued, So maybe it was possible that on
Enceladus, life started in a warm little pond below the icy surface occurring
over the last few tens of millions of years. More observations will be
needed, of course.
And indeed, more observations are on the way. A series of close
encounters with Enceladus has been planned during Cassinis extended mission, which begins
(pending final approval) on July 1. The next is in August. The cameras, which were
not the prime instruments for the recent flyby, will have a chance to
take extreme high-resolution photos of the tiger stripes, and the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA),
which failed to operate, will get one more optimal chance to collect geyser particles.
Seven more close flybys are planned through 2009. The March 12 encounter dipped
30 miles from the surface at closest approach; some of the daring flybys to come
will be even closer fast, low, and maybe even more thrilling. The little
300-mile-wide moon Enceladus seems to be a strong contender for Best Actor of the Saturn awards.
Good grief, Enceladus has nothing to do with life.
This is the distracting emotional appeal like the scantily-clad woman beside the
truck at the used car lot. NASA throws in the distraction at every mention of
the word water in a vain belief that it will garner public support for the space program.
As could be expected, right on cue,
Geographic News picked up on this theme as the major aspect of the story. Dave Mosher at
even said seeds of life found near Saturn. Incredible. All they found
was poison gas like methane and acetylene, folks! Go experiment with your barbecue. Write us
if anything crawls out except the spider that took up residence there over the winter.
Rather than help science make progress toward truth, scientific papers can actually perpetuate
false ideas. So said researchers from Columbia and Yale; see
The scientists totally avoided the age issue today. John Spencer
has frankly admitted being completely baffled and embarrassed that the science community has no answer
for where this little moon got its energy, or for how it could maintain it over billions of years.
Their plight has only gotten worse since the discovery of the plumes in 2005. Recall that yesterday
(03/25/2008, footnote to main entry) we highlighted
a new paper in next months Icarus that struck down both tidal heating and radioactivity
the leading theoretical possibilities
as plausible sources of the heat. That makes the scientists focus on exotic life even more
distracting, as if the emperor, once exposed, quickly points to the sky and waxes eloquent
about how the cloud shapes appear so very lifelike. Lets watch instead
how his minions are going to robe their little embarrassment now that King Billions-of-Years
has mooned the crowd.
Next headline on:
Origin of Life
Peacocks Dont Dress for Success 03/26/2008
March 26, 2008 The male peacocks fancy feather show: an icon of Darwins
theory of sexual selection, right? Then why did Japanese scientists tell
News that the females pay them little attention?
The article claims that the males appearance fails to interest,
much less excite, the females, who seem to pay more attention to his singing.
The determination throws a wrench in
the long-held belief that male peacock feathers evolved in response to female mate choice,
the article says. It could also indicate that certain other elaborate
features in galliformes, a group that includes turkeys, chickens, grouse, quails
and pheasants, as well as peacocks, are not necessarily linked to fitness and
Whats more, the scientists, who observed peacock mating displays
for six years, could not find a correlation between the attractive males and their
fitness. Females were seen to run around males they preferred and get them
to shiver their feathers. These were not the ones with the most elaborate
displays. They speculated that maybe the fancy feathers are obsolete mating
signals, and that vocalizations are now more important.
They realize this is controversial and more testing will need to be
done. A UK scientist added that the feathering display, which is a function of
hormone levels, is a poor indicator of fitness, both at the gene level and
in the mature bird.
How, then, can a scientist say female dinosaurs were attracted
to a males frill? MSNBC
News quoted Terry Gates at the University of Utah Museum saying this:
That whole section of the head was for sexual display, it was all ornamentation.
The females liked it. The article proclaimed the line:
Ladies lured by dinosaurs giant horns. But if we cannot be sure living birds are attracted to
one of the most elaborate and beautiful examples of sexual dimorphism, how could
anyone understand what an extinct dinosaur found attractive?
Its impossible to get into the mind of a
peahen or dinosaur and see what is affecting her choice of mate. Still, this is a big
blow to a major speculation that made Darwin famous. Charlie has had orders
of magnitude more fame than the usual fifteen minutes, and most of his ideas have
been defrocked like a plucked turkey. Can we move on?
Crater Dater Deflator: Impactors Can Be Recycled 03/25/2008
Next headline on:
March 25, 2008 They came from outer space that was the
old paradigm about impactors that made craters on planetary bodies. Then, we learned how secondary
craters can confuse a surfaces history (06/08/2006,
09/25/2007). Now, two papers in Icarus
show that moons can do a lateral pass.
Alvarellos et al,1 showed that Jupiters moon
Io can send high-speed impactors to Europa and beyond. Material erupted or blasted off
Io by a comet can drift in orbit for a median time of 56 years (quickest 179 days, average 146 years).
Then, it can either return to Io again, find a new target
on Europa, or (to a lesser extent) hit the further-out moons. Most of this occurs within
just tens or hundreds of years.
Each impact, in turn, can generate secondary craters, reported Zahnle et al.2
Presumably, some sufficiently accelerated material could escape Jupiter
or Saturn altogether and hit the inner planets.
Apparently few scientists had seriously considered this source of crater creators. Some
wrote about it but considered the amount of mass transfer to be trivial. However,
said Alvarellos et al., our work has shown that
far from being uninteresting, a non-negligible amount of matter can be transferred
between these moons in the form of impact ejecta,
The Zahnle et al paper agreed: the model predicts that a significant fraction of the
200-500 m diameter craters on Europa are not traditional secondary craters but
are instead sesquinary craters3 caused by impact ejecta from Io that had gone into
orbit about Jupiter. The amount of mass delivered appears to exceed the
1. Alvarellos et al, Transfer of mass from Io to Europa and beyond due to cometary impacts,
Volume 194, Issue 2, April 2008, pages 636-646, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.09.025.
2. Zahnle et al, Secondary and sesquinary craters on Europa,
Volume 194, Issue 2, April 2008, pages 660-674, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.10.024.
3. They defined the term, quote: Sesquinary stems from the Latin root sesqui- meaning one-and-a-half; its most familiar use in English is in sesquicentennial. We use sesquinary to describe craters by impact ejecta that went into orbit about the central planet.... Sesquinary craters have a character intermediate between primary craters and conventional secondary craters. [end quote]
Since this new special-delivery mechanism can, in principle, apply to Uranus, Mars
and other bodies, the crater-count dating conundrum just got worse. How many of
the thousands of craters on pockmarked moons resulted from planetocentric material within the system?
If ejected material can be recycled, what is the potential crater count from one sufficiently
large impact? How long would it take for an average moon to become saturated with craters?
They may look old, but crater-covered moons might have gotten their scarred faces in far less time than
March Moon Madness 03/25/2008
Next headline on:
March 25, 2008 Moons of our planetary system are supposed to behave themselves.
They were expected to just quietly orbit their host planets like nice, cold, frozen,
inactive chunks of rock and ice. It seems like whenever we get a close look at
them, they are madly at work destroying theories just like their planets have been wont to do.
Back on earth, scientists are also scrambling to explain the origin of the home planet.
Geographic News all reported that a new study is challenging the long-standing
notion that the whole solar system formed from the same raw materials.
Isotopes in meteorites dont match those on earth. To get around this problem,
scientists are having to imagine that materials in the solar disk that supposedly gave
birth to the planets got sorted somehow.
- Io, Io, Its Off to Work I Go: The results are surprising
because no theory predicted upstream spots. Belgian researcher Bertrand Bonford
was commenting on a press release from American
Geophysical Union (AGU) about the volcanic moon Io, and how its eruptions create auroral
spots on Jupiter. The finding of the leading spot puts all the previous models
of the Io footprint into question, the article said.
- Tethys Ocean: The surprisingly ordinary moon Tethys at Saturn
may have, or may have had, an underground ocean, according to
Geographic News. The energy required to create the monstrous rift called
Ithaca Chasma must have melted the ice below. Where did the heat come from?
Since Tethys is largely ice, there would not have been radioactive elements sufficient
to produce internal heat. This leaves tidal flexing to create the rift but
only if there was liquid underneath.
The thought of water quickly led to thoughts of life. A Cassini
scientist told NGN, This makes the exploration of icy satellites and their
interiors even more important to understanding possible habitats for life
in our solar system and for how common life is in the universe.
- Do you want your Mars with salt? Sodium chloride good old
table salt may be common on Mars, said the
BBC News and
Because the salt may have become deposited in channels and lakes,
some scientists immediately visualized the salt as a preservative for life.
Salt is a double-edged sword, however: Water is the first sign that an environment might have
been habitable, but waters that precipitate table salt on Mars would have been
much saltier than any waters known to support microbial populations on Earth,
said Andrew Knoll of Harvard. Salt is also a poison to organic soup
- Titan clash: Titan isnt rotating like scientists expected.
When they went to focus on a spot identified from a previous orbit, it was 19 miles off.
The only way they can explain it is by modeling an ocean under the ice, according to
a paper in Science.1 If the crust is decoupled
from the interior by floating on an ocean, it also means that Titans zonal winds
can alter the rotation of the whole moon. See explanation by
Society and press release from JPL.
The ocean-and-wind hypothesis is only a partial answer. Christophe
Sotin and Gabriel Tobie, writing in the same issue of Science,2
said, However, the observations and model predictions do not correlate very well.
Some are proposing a periodic wobble in the spin, or a large impact that might have sped
up the rotation. No impact basin large enough to record such an event has been found.
Theres a fundamental difficulty with Titan global circulation models right now -- all of them,
said lead author Ralph Lorenz, --which is that they predict that the predominant
winds at low latitudes near the surface would be easterly, from east to west.
Yet all the sand dunes point in exactly the opposite direction.
Theres something we do not understand about Titans circulation.
In addition, a news item in Nature News
about the Genesis solar-wind collection experiment raises more questions.
The finding that the Sun is relatively richer than Earth in oxygen-16, the most
common oxygen isotope, contradicts the conventional wisdom that Earth has
the same oxygen isotope composition as the Sun the article said.
Everybody would have
bet that the Sun had the same composition as Earth and the meteorites, a
French cosmochemist remarked. In fact, Earth is not like the Sun.
Scientists are scrambling to model what process might have sucked out oxygen-16
while the gas of the proto-Solar System condensed into solid grains that coalesced
into the planets. If so, the article said, it would have had to happen early on.
Footnote: Were still waiting for word about the Enceladus flyby
results from March 12. Expect more surprises. Whatever is found will have
to comport with findings of Roberts and Nimmo in the April Icarus.3
Their calculations show that neither radioactive decay or tidal forcing are adequate
to maintain a liquid ocean under the crust for more than 30 million years (6% of
the assumed age). Heat is removed from the surface faster than it can be
generated in the core, and tidal heating is far too low at the present orbit.
The only way they could rescue a long-lived ocean was to propose an ad-hoc scenario:
perhaps the obliquity of Enceladus is pumped up from time to time. A
transient ocean could exist beneath the ice shell today as a remnant of an earlier
epoch of higher heating, they said. Such a phenomenon is beyond observation.
1. Lorenz et al, Titans Rotation Reveals an Internal Ocean and Changing Zonal Winds,
21 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5870, pp. 1649-1651, DOI: 10.1126/science.1151639.
2. Sotin and Tobie, Titan's Hidden Ocean,
21 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5870, pp. 1629-1630, DOI: 10.1126/science.1155964.
3. James H. Roberts and Francis Nimmo, Tidal heating and the long-term
stability of a subsurface ocean on Enceladus,
Volume 194, Issue 2, April 2008, Pages 675-689, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.11.010.
Science marches on sometimes in disciplined
ranks, sometimes in scatter formation. The latter occurs when observation bombs
drop in on theory playgrounds.
Charity begins at Homo sapiens? Our 03/16/2005
entry exposes Darwinists evolutionizing charity and religion, and the previous day
(03/15/2005), evolutionizing the law.
Notice J. Gresham Machens sober warning in the commentary about the deadly fallout of bad ideas.
Remember, the consensus theories that have been blown away by new
discoveries were textbook orthodoxy a few years ago. Only a devout logical positivist
would think this could not happen to todays accepted ideas. Just wait.
Evidence does not exist in isolation. To make sense, it must
be incorporated into ones web of belief by a number of auxiliary hypotheses and assumptions.
Planetary scientists interpret what Ithaca Chasma, Titans rotation and Earths
oxygen-16 ratios mean through the filter of assumptions and auxiliary hypotheses that are
rarely considered or questioned independently.
One of their most sacred assumptions
is the A.S.S. (age of the solar system). The accepted value of 4.5 billion
years is written in their genes. All evidence
is viewed within this major structural component of their
web of belief. The web itself stretches and distorts as
new evidence bombards it, but it would take a mighty big impact to break it.
Too much is at stake for secular planetologists, bent on finding life and evolution
at every water hole, to allow that to happen. Like predatory spiders, they
snag the evidence, wrap it in theories spun out of their own selves, and suck the
juice out of it to feed themselves and their young. The dried up hulk that
once contained structure, organs and connective tissue is discarded to blow away
in the wind.
If you love and respect science, make like a bee instead. Get busy and
gather natures nectar far and wide. Digest it carefully.
Transform it into something sweet to benefit others something that will nourish
the heart and bring delight to the eyes. (Thanks to
Francis Bacon for the
Next headline on:
Tuatara Genes Are Running in Place 03/24/2008
March 24, 2008 One would expect a living fossil to show extreme stasis at
the genetic level. Not so for the tuatara, a New Zealand reptile, reported
researchers found that although tuatara have remained largely physically
unchanged over very long periods of evolution, they are evolving at a DNA level
faster than any other animal yet examined.
The tuatara is said to be the lone survivor of a class of beak-headed
reptiles that co-existed with the dinosaurs 200 million years ago (see
for picture). The
rate of molecular evolution of this lizard-like animal, the researchers said, is
much faster than that of cave bears, lions, oxen and horses, which supposedly
evolved from primitive mammals in far less time.
Based on this study, the authors are claiming
that molecular evolution and morphological evolution have nothing to do with each
other: Many scientists have thought that molecular evolution would be fastest
in animals whose physical form, or morphology, also evolved swiftly, the
article says. The tuatara finding suggests otherwise, that there is
no relationship between the two rates. But if evolution does not
cause fitness changes at the genetic level that translate into body changes,
where did elephants and giraffes come from?
See also the discussion of this paper by David Tyler on
Research Network, and the 03/31/2002 entry
about tuatara resilience to climate change.
Molecular changes is not evolution in the sense
of creating new organs and functions. That is clear from the fact that the
tuatara is unchanged from its fossil counterparts. The tuatara was already
a complete embarrassment for the Darwinists as are all living fossils.
This counter-intuitive result should
make them consider the possibility that something is completely
wrong with their assumptions. The first one that should go on the
chopping block is the assumption of millions of years.
Psychology Without Darwin 03/21/2008
Next headline on:
March 21, 2008 Can psychology kick the Darwin habit? For years it has
been conventional to express all human actions in Darwinian terms. We struggle
with city life, for instance, because we evolved to hunt prey in the savannah
not the Georgia kind, but the African plains where we first climbed down from the
trees to walk upright. War, altruism, music, language, culture, and many other
human behavioral traits both good and bad (including murder and rape) have been
explained as adaptations due to group selection, individual selection, or both.
Two papers this week, however, break this trend. One struggles to find an
evolutionary explanation and fails. The other has no need of the Darwin hypothesis.
- Punishing Darwin with faint praise: Winners dont punish is the title
of an unusual paper in Nature.1 An interdisciplinary
team from Harvard and Stockholm School of Economics, composed of specialists in evolutionary
dynamics, economics, mathematics and systems biology studied the phenomenon of costly
punishment, looking for its evolutionary origin. Costly punishment means
paying a costly punishment to incur a cost e.g., revenge.
How is this human behavior to be explained?
The team could not find adequate explanations in group selection or
individual selection. It seems maladaptive in all cases. Kin selection,
direct and indirect reciprocity, and all the other Darwinian buzz-phrases seemed
inadequate. They ran game experiments giving subjects opportunities to cooperate,
defect, or impose punishment on others (something like Survivor?). The control
group was denied the option of costly punishment. What happened?
Here we show that the option of costly punishment increases the amount of cooperation
but not the average payoff of the group. Furthermore, there is a strong
negative correlation between total payoff and use of costly punishment. Those
people who gain the highest total payoff tend not to use costly punishment: winners
dont punish. This suggests that costly punishment behaviour is
maladaptive in cooperation games and might have evolved for other reasons.
That last line shows they left the door open for some unknown evolutionary explanation, but they could
only suggest options. Maybe it gives a way for an individual to enforce submission
or rise to dominance. Even so, their conclusion sounded distinctly un-Darwinian:
People engage in conflicts and know that conflicts can carry costs. Costly
punishment serves to escalate conflicts, not to moderate them. Costly punishment
might force people to submit, but not to cooperate. It could be that costly
punishment is beneficial in these other games, but the use of costly punishment in
games of cooperation seems to be maladaptive. We have shown that in
the framework of direct reciprocity, winners do not use costly
punishment, whereas losers punish and perish.
In the same issue of Nature,2 two German reviewers
almost seemed forlorn that no evolutionary explanation was found. Milinski
and Rockenbach said, The tendency of humans to punish perceived free-loaders,
even at a cost to themselves, is an evolutionary puzzle: punishers perish, and
those who benefit the most are those who have never punished at all.
Costly punishment can enforce cooperation, they said, but it cant have
evolved for inducing cooperation. The reason? Punishment is
fundamentally counterproductive, because it pays off neither for the
punisher nor for the group. It is intuitively obvious that natural selection
would not retain a counterproductive or maladaptive trait.
Ethical questions aside about their methodology and conclusions,
the significant aspect of this paper is that they could not find a Darwinian explanation
for the trait. The team and the reviewers six evolutionary specialists
had to leave this conundrum unanswered: costly punishment remains one of the most thorny puzzles
in human social dilemmas. Dreber and colleagues results make it plain that
we are still a long way from understanding the dark side of human sociality.
- Give, and you shall receive: The next day, a paper in Science
did not even attempt to find Darwin in the data.3
Three researchers from University of British Columbia and Harvard reported,
Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness. (We need scientific
papers to explain the obvious sometimes.) They did experiments cross-sectionally
and longitudinally on subjects. They even checked anonymous giving: participants
who were randomly assigned to spend money on others experienced greater happiness
than those assigned to spend money on themselves.
They didnt exactly quote Jesus, it is more blessed to give
than to receive, but they did rhetorically pose Mom and Dads truism,
Money cant buy happiness as a question expecting a negative answer:
Can money buy happiness? A large body of cross-sectional survey research has demonstrated that income has a reliable, but surprisingly weak, effect on happiness within nations, particularly once basic needs are met. Indeed, although real incomes have surged dramatically in recent decades, happiness levels have remained largely flat within developed countries across time. One of the most intriguing explanations for this counterintuitive finding is that people often pour their increased wealth into pursuits that provide little in the way of lasting happiness, such as purchasing costly consumer goods. An emerging challenge, then, is to identify whether and how disposable income might be used to increase happiness.
Again, its not that they quoted the Bible, the love of money is the root
of all evil, but that this paper lacked any reference to evolutionary theory.
Ironically, the potential for money to increase happiness may be subverted by the kinds of choices that thinking about money promotes; the mere thought of having money makes people less likely to help acquaintances, to donate to charity, or to choose to spend time with others, precisely the kinds of behaviors that are strongly associated with happiness. At the same time, although thinking about money may drive people away from prosocial behavior, money can also provide a powerful vehicle for accomplishing such prosocial goals. We suggest that using money in this fashioninvesting income in others rather than oneselfmay have measurable benefits for ones own happiness.
Incidentally, how does a scientist devise a happy-meter? They didnt.
They asked the survey respondents to rate their happiness under various situations,
such as after receiving a windfall profit-sharing bonus, and they categorized and did
mathematical analysis on the results.
They found it alarming that so few invest money in prosocial spending
when happiness seems clearly to be an outcome.
By the end of the paper, their advice sounded almost moral:
Given that people appear to overlook the benefits of prosocial spending, policy
interventions that promote prosocial spendingencouraging people
to invest income in others rather than in themselvesmay be worthwhile
in the service of translating increased national wealth into increased national
The paper was summarized in a Science Now
article. Elsa Youngstedt remarked about the counter-intuitive result that shows
giving the lottery might be more fun than getting it. Overturning classic
economic wisdom, she said, new research shows that its not how
much you have that matters, its how you spend it. People who donate
their dollars to charities or splurge on gifts for others are more content than
those who squander all the dough on themselves. Her write-up also said
nothing about evolution, nor did the report by Brendan Borrell on
1. Dreber, Rand, Fudenberg, and Nowak, Winners dont punish,
452, 348-351 (20 March 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06723.
2. Manfred Milinski and Bettina Rockenbach, Human behaviour: Punisher pays,
452, 297-298 (20 March 2008) | doi:10.1038/452297a.
3. Dunn, Aknin and Norton, Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness,
21 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5870, pp. 1687-1688, DOI: 10.1126/science.1150952.
Evolutionary theory is without form and void, but
lacking an intelligent spirit to hover over its dark waters, it will never emerge
into a garden of scientific understanding. When they try to find Darwins
tree in their mindless void, they fail; when they dont, they do just as well
and, like the proverbial broken clock, are occasionally right. Being right
by chance is no reason to follow their advice.
Evolution Rules 03/20/2008
We dont need Science to tell us how to behave.
We dont need their mythical edens in the savannah to explain our dark side.
Their explanations leave puzzles, conundrums, and emptiness. While policies
that promote prosocial spending (e.g., tax breaks for charitable donations) make
sense, who believes for a minute that a government or oligarchy of scientists
will change peoples hearts?
Science encroaches here on foreign territory. There is an
institution with a much better track record on helping people avoid costly punishment
and enjoy the happiness of giving: a church that teaches the operating manual
of the Manufacturer without adding or taking away from it.
Why does the USA have the best success rate in the pursuit
of happiness? Because its founders believed that humans were not just evolved
animals. They held them as truths that people are endowed by their Creator
with life and liberty and self-determination. In light of the two papers
above, it seems obvious now. You might almost say it is self-evident.
Next headline on:
Politics and Ethics
Bible and Theology
March 20, 2008 It would be convenient if all a scientist had to do to prove
his theory was declare it to be a law of nature. Is that what scientists from
UC Berkeley and Imperial College have done with evolution? First rule
of evolution suggests that life is destined to become more complex, announced a
press release on EurekAlert
and PhysOrg. Whats going on?
The statement is based on a paper in PNAS about the fossil record
of crustaceans.1 Notice the first sentence of the abstract:
The prospect of finding macroevolutionary trends and rules in the history of life is tremendously appealing, but very few pervasive trends have been found. Here, we demonstrate a parallel increase in the morphological complexity of most of the deep lineages within a major clade. We focus on the Crustacea, measuring the morphological differentiation of limbs. First, we show a clear trend of increasing complexity among 66 free-living, ordinal-level taxa from the Phanerozoic fossil record. We next demonstrate that this trend is pervasive, occurring in 10 or 11 of 12 matched-pair comparisons (across five morphological diversity indices) between extinct Paleozoic and related Recent taxa. This clearly differentiates the pattern from the effects of lineage sorting. Furthermore, newly appearing taxa tend to have had more types of limbs and a higher degree of limb differentiation than the contemporaneous average, whereas those going extinct showed higher-than-average limb redundancy. Patterns of contemporary species diversity partially reflect the paleontological trend. These results provide a rare demonstration of a large-scale and probably driven trend occurring across multiple independent lineages and influencing both the form and number of species through deep time and in the present day.
This sounds much more restrained than the press release title. For one thing,
they admitted that few macroevolutionary trends have been found. Then they
studied a very limited aspect of one group: limb differentiation in crustaceans,
and among crustaceans, only 66 fossil representatives.
Furthermore, their definition of complexity is limited to limb number and diversification,
as measured by half a dozen parameters.
Once segmented limbs have appeared on earth, it is arguably less an evolutionary problem to multiply and
specialize them than to originate them from scratch.
The paper opened, surprisingly, with the authors questioning the
status of evolution as a scientific theory:
Most of the natural sciences operate by documenting patterns
and trends and thereby formulating general rules.
Evolution, however, is an essentially contingent process, meaning
that evolutionary trajectories can rarely be predicted. Proposed
evolutionary trends, such as Copes rule for evolutionary
size increase within lineages, have generally turned out to be only
weakly predictive, either resulting from passive diffusion away
from some barrier or applying only at local temporal and
taxonomic scales. Here, we demonstrate a remarkable and
pervasive trend for increasing morphological complexity in
multiple parallel lineages of the Crustacea [the major arthropod
group with the longest and most disparate fossil record
throughout the Phanerozoic.]
Their new rule of evolution, therefore, stands alone on a heap of discarded attempts
to find an evolutionary law of nature, after a century of trying. Hopefully
this paper will give more than it just took away.
They attempted to discern trends in limb complexity over time.
Since the dating of the geological column is inextricably tied to evolutionary theory,
however, this could be criticized as a circular approach.
Also, the data points on their graphs were widely scattered. A critic might argue
that the straight lines they weaved through the dots are underdetermined by the data, or else influenced
by the criteria of diversity they chose to focus on. Extrapolating a
trend from one clade into a rule for all of life seems optimistic, to say the least.
Even granting all their assumptions (age, criteria of diversity,
trend line analysis) it appears the claim of finding a new rule for evolution
goes far beyond the data especially in light of the predictive failure of past attempts like
Copes Rule. Additionally, neither Copes Rule nor their First
Rule of Evolution describe a mechanism for change. Both are mere passive
descriptions of what evolution does not why or how it does it.
Reality, however, did not inhibit the media from
spinning this as a great victory for evolution. This was exacerbated by the fact
that the researchers lowered their inhibitions when talking to the press. For
instance, Matthew Wills asserted, If you start with the simplest possible animal body,
then theres only one direction to evolve in you have to become
more complex. He said after a point, animals could evolve back to
simplicity, but they usually dont. This is the nearest thing
to a pervasive evolutionary rule thats been found.
took that to mean, researchers have found evidence which suggests that
evolution drives animals to become increasingly more complex.
Doesnt this portray evolution as some kind of mystical force that pushes
animals upward to higher levels of complexity? Wills explained,
it seems that competition may be the driving force behind the trend.
Competition alone, however, often leaves one winner by himself and everyone else eliminated
from the ring. From whence does the complexity arise? They didnt say.
It was hard to find a place where the assumption of evolution stopped
and the demonstration of evolution began.
Our study uses information about the inter-relatedness of different
animal groups the Tree of Life to demonstrate that
complexity has evolved numerous times independently. Isnt that
what evolutionary theory is supposed to prove instead of assume? Again,
All organisms have a common ancestor, so that every living species
is part of a giant family tree of life. This was stated not as a
discovery from their research, but a starting assumption. They did not claim
to discover an evolutionary trend; they claimed that the evolutionary trend that
must exist (because of the assumption of common ancestry) was parallel, not haphazard. The press
was even treated to an analogy: Whats new about our results is
that they show us how this increase in complexity has occurred,
Mills said; Strikingly, it looks far more like a disciplined march than a milling crowd.
Marching bands are purposeful, intelligently-designed organizations,
so the analogy breaks down. Band members practice and follow printed scores for the music.
They follow predetermined diagrams while performing their formations.
They have a driving force: intelligence, emotions, and will power. The wish to be
applauded by the crowd and to generate enthusiasm for their team drives them to watch
and think and discipline their actions to form parallel rows and columns.
In scrutinizing the original paper, no such driving force
can be found. If there was any analogous driving force
that could have pushed non-rational creatures like barnacles and shrimp to invent new complex structures,
the authors did not mention one.
(Note: natural selection is not a force, nor is random mutation.)
The press release ended with Wills unraveling all the optimistic claims he had just made:
Our results apply to a group of animals with bodies made of
repeated units. We must not forget that bacteria very simple organisms
are among the most successful living things. Therefore, the trend towards complexity
is compelling but does not describe the history of all life.
Yet if the most numerous, successful, widespread and longest-surviving inhabitants
of the biosphere did not obey the first rule of evolution, is there a rule at all?
Can there be a rule without a ruler or subjects?
1. Adamowicz, Purvis, and Wills, Increasing morphological complexity in multiple
parallel lineages of the Crustacea,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
USA, published online on March 17, 2008, 10.1073/pnas.0709378105
Do you understand how evolutionary dogma perpetuates
itself? Here is the formula: assume evolution, assume the evolutionary timeline,
juggle a few data points to look like a scientist, then announce that evolution is
a law of nature. This whole charade is humbug.
Animals are overengineered for navigation,
Look at this cheap magic trick buried in the paper: Unfortunately, the fossil
record is rarely complete enough to identify ancestors with any
confidence. However, our phylogenetically independent comparisons
of early fossils with their closest extant relatives are
useful proxies. Hold your horses! Useful to whom?
Are you telling us you can only get to the evolutionary conclusions you want by
assuming evolution (phylogenetic comparisons) in the absence of fossil
evidence? Try that trick in a courtroom. Your honor,
we dont have any blood or fingerprints or weapons, but since we know the
defendant is guilty, we have put together a timeline based on that knowledge
showing how he committed the crime. Where is the defense attorney
screaming Objection! Why is the judge silent? You know
why he is in on the scam.
Heres another glaring flaw the scientists (we shudder to
use the term) waltzed right by, hoping nobody would notice: they started after
the Cambrian. Do you remember
that a modern-looking crustacean was found fully-formed in Cambrian strata last fall?
(10/04/2007; see also
07/20/2001) Suppose we took a
pair of living dogs from different breeds, bred several generations, and cataloged a
variety of dog descendants possessing different
patterns, hair styles, leg lengths, and dispositions. Then suppose we triumphantly
announced we had discovered a new law of nature The First Rule of Dog Evolution
Dogs evolve from simple to complex. The little boy in the
audience with the quizzical look is the hero again: Where did the first dogs
How convenient for all the jointed appendages, complex eyes
and organs, segments, Hox genes and molecular machinery
to be already present before they began their analysis.
If they got a slap for every time they assumed evolution instead of proving it,
it would be a useful proxy for the blushing they should have been doing. Maybe
it would generate some tears, too, for sins like this: Perhaps greater intraindividual
limb diversity could contribute to the further evolvability
or versatility of a lineage, allowing new and different
functions to arise more readily and promoting niche diversification.
What? This is circularity
wrapped in circumlocution. They just said, in
plain English, Maybe evolution evolves into more evolvability. Good grief.
After a few more paragraphs of hand-waving, these three scientists vanished in a
smokescreen of maybes, vaporware and futureware.
Halt in the name of the law! This is supposed to be a science paper, not a magic show.
The charlatans pulled a complete snow job on the reporters. In
their original paper (which nobody reads) they included all the disclaimers, caveats,
limitations, and obligatory scientific restraint, hidden in incomprehensible and
irrelevant jargon and decorated with a few distracting
equations and conjured-up
visuals, tables and graphs that (for whatever
they are worth) do nothing to establish their main claim. Afterwards, they ran to the
gullible press with its gutless reporters (all of them incapable of asking a logical
question) and spouted their vainglorious glittering
their highly restricted data domain to the whole history
of biological life except when they deflated the whole circus tent at the end.
They got away with it. Bold print, up front (which everybody reads): First rule
of evolution suggests that life is destined to become more complex.
Scientists have revealed what may well be the first pervasive rule of
evolution. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences researchers have found evidence which suggests that evolution drives
animals to become increasingly more complex.
They dont have
to get away with it. We just exposed them right here.
Today is the first day of spring. The time is long overdue
to melt the snow jobs in this land where it is always winter and never Christmas.
Do your part to bring in a rebirth and flowering of responsible science.
Next headline on:
Adulterers: Evolution Made Us That Way 03/19/2008
March 19, 2008 Two articles that appeared the same day on Live Science are a study in contrasts.
One was titled, Surviving
Infidelity: What Wives Do When Men Cheat. The other was titled,
Meant to Be Monogamous? The thread that tied them together was evolution.
The first article admitted the distress, shame, and sense of betrayal
wives feel when their husbands cheat, and the sense of anger and dishonor husbands
feel at a wifes unfaithfulness. Many spouses never fully recover
from their feelings of betrayal and anger, even if they stay together, one
marriage counselor said. Women and men differ in their general reactions, but
Typical reactions from both sexes include becoming enraged, sad, humiliated, and depressed.
The article could not offer any explanation or counsel more than stoic methods of
coping, because it suggested that evolution made people this way.
These differences may have deep evolutionary roots. From a mans perspective,
sexual infidelity historically jeopardized his paternity certainty -- mamas baby,
papas maybe, Buss said [David Buss is a professor of psychology
at the University of Texas at Austin.] Male sexual jealousy is, among other
things, an adaptation designed to solve the problem of genetic cuckoldry.
He means designed by evolution, in the context of his statement. Nowhere
did the article suggest a non-evolutionary explanation for this problem of unfaithfulness
nor did it explain why if evolution caused it, why it did not select away the pain.
article went further. It openly proposed the idea that humans shouldnt get
hung up about marital fidelity (monogamy) because other animals are promiscuous, even
happily so (see their sidelight, Animal
Sex: No Stinking Rules). The article claims that Only 3 percent to 5 percent of the roughly 5,000 species of mammals
(including humans) are known to form lifelong, monogamous bonds, with the loyal
superstars including beavers, wolves and some bats. The implication is
that faithful spouses should go with the flow, or at least get rid of their hangups
So what is the answer to their question? Are humans meant to be monogamous?
Dont look for any universal moral compass here. Faithfulness, if it is
worth anything, is also just an evolutionary strategy:
Evolutionary psychologists have suggested that men are more likely
to have extramarital sex, partially due to the male urge to spread genes
by broadcasting sperm. Both males and females, these scientists say, try
to up their evolutionary progress by seeking out high-quality mates, albeit in different ways.
Whatever works. The article ended by claiming that monogamy is an unnatural
thing it is a societal, not biological, norm: I dont think we are
a monogamous animal, said Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the
University of Washington in Seattle.... She added, Monogamy is invented for
order and investment – but not necessarily because its natural.
This entry was part of an ongoing series on Live Science called, Lifes
The committed partnership between a man and a woman evolved,
some say, for the well-being of children.
The human species has evolved to make commitments
between males and females in regards to raising their offspring, so this is a bond,
said Jane Lancaster, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of New Mexico.
However that bond can fit into all kinds of marriage patterns
polygyny, single parenthood, monogamy.
According to the view propounded by these two articles, human adults are locked into a living hell:
controlled by primitive urges from some unseen animal past that are destined to cause heartbreak,
anger, pain, sadness, grief, distrust, indignation, humiliation and even rage.
You dont counsel someone who has an evolutionary
adaptation. You counsel those whose sense of moral rectitude, integrity,
faithfulness, honesty, and trust has been violated. Live Science
cannot have it both ways.
Simple Molecules: The Building Blocks of Lie 03/19/2008
We have already seen what happened when the Darwinists
rationalized genocide (11/30/2005,
Just wait till you see what kind of world we inherit now that they have
rationalized infidelity. Can you imagine that some day they might
even justify rape or murder?
My, my, you poor fool. Where have you been?
Next headline on:
Politics and Ethics
March 19, 2008 At a physical level, everything in the universe is made of atoms and molecules.
Life, being a subset of everything in the universe, is composed of a subset of all
molecules that exist. It could be said that any atom or molecule present in a living
thing is a building block of life, but how informative is that? Carbon, for
instance, is essential to life, but is also a building block of cyanide, tailpipe
soot, graphite, diamond and a host of deadly poisons.
Its not just the
presence of the simplest parts that conveys information about the whole
its the way that the building blocks are assembled into the complex structure.
A childs alphabet building blocks, for instance, form gibberish when assembled
by an infant who cannot read. Life has been compared, by contrast, to an
encyclopedia of highly specific information. This information then directs
a symphony of coordinated, dynamic processes using molecular machines.
Evolutionists are fond of pointing to carbon, water and other atoms
and simple molecules as building blocks of life. Embedded in the phrase
is a subtext of progress. If the building blocks are present, the statement suggests that they will build
or assemble into life, given the right circumstances. No one would say, though, that since
silicon is a building block of computers, finding silicon on extrasolar planets is
a sure bet computers will eventually be found. In a similar vein, life uses a
subset of organic compounds (carbon-based chemicals), but sometimes the
word organic is used in an equivocal way
to suggest the presence of life, even though many organic compounds (cyanide,
gasoline, and carbon tetrachloride, for example) are poisonous or useless to biology.
At what point does the use of prebiotic compounds or
organic soup or building blocks of life invoke the power of
suggestion to support an
evolutionary, naturalistic view of lifes origin? Look at
these recent examples to see if the inference to life is warranted by the observations.
Countless press releases rush to include the L-word whenever a discovery is made
of building blocks of life in space. Presumably, the
claim could be made about hydrogen. Humans have plenty of hydrogen atoms bound
to carbon and oxygen. By extension, then, the whole universe is a building block
- Oxygen: The oxygen atom, though necessary for most living things,
can also be a deadly poison thats why we take antioxidants. In the
cell, it is handled very delicately by complex enzymes that combine it with byproducts of
respiration to form water and carbon dioxide, which can be safely removed.
Oxygens mere presence, however, suggested to
that life was ready to explode in a plethora of wondrous complexity. The title reads,
2 oxygenation events in ancient oceans sparked spread of complex life.
Would the same thing be said of silicon sparking the spread of computers?
- Carbon: Carbon is essential to most living molecules. It is
basic to fats, sugars, proteins and nucleic acids. Raw carbon, or simple
hydrocarbons, however, are useless to life unless incorporated by enzymes into
structural molecules according to coded instructions.
Why, then, are the news media all using the L-word Life in their reports
about the discovery of methane around a nearby star? Methane is the simplest
organic (carbon-based) molecule: one carbon joined to four hydrogens.
Because of its fourfold valence, carbon easily joins with other atoms especially
the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen. Methane is abundant on
Titan, the gas giants, some comets and probably Mars, though not associated with life there.
Humans use methane for their cooking but not for their biology; it is emitted as a
waste product by the bacteria in cow stomachs and by the decay of biomass, but is
not a nutrient for life.
Nevertheless, most reports from a paper in Nature1
emphasized the L-word when methane was detected around a star, even though the authors said nothing about life.
Under certain circumstances, methane can play a
key role in prebiotic chemistry the chemical reactions considered necessary to
form life, said the BBC
News. Ditto for Science
Daily. A NASA scientist called this a dress rehearsal for future searches
for life on more hospitable planets, according to
Geographic was slightly more tentative, but ended with a focus on methanes
potential as a biomarker for life on other planets.
- Amino acids: Proteins are composed of long chains of one-handed amino
acids. These carbon-based molecules have two simple parts, an amino group and a
carboxyl group, and a side chain (R-group) that can be as simple as one hydrogen (glycine)
or much more complex with cyclic domains and other things. Of the almost endless
varieties of possible amino acids, life as we know it is restricted primarily to 20
kinds. It is not just the amino acids alone that make them lively
but their specific combinations into long chains, held together by peptide bonds.
Finding a few amino acids, however, got EurekAlert all excited with
two pronouncements on the same day:
Meteorites are rich
in the building blocks of life and
a rich source for primordial soup. Both articles insinuated that a steady
rain of amino acids on the primitive earth would have been sufficient to kickstart
life in the ocean even though amino acids avoid joining into polypeptides
in the presence of water. Notice the confidence mixed with suggestion in a
statement by a scientist from Imperial College, London: We know that
approximately 3.8 to 4.5 billion years ago the Earth underwent heavy bombardment
from meteorites which brought molecules to our planet, just before life emerged on Earth.
- Water: It goes without saying that water is another simple molecule often associated with
the L-word. A press release from Jet
Propulsion Lab referred to life twice in the story about dust disks around stars
(see the other 03/19/2008 entry today). The article
said that the discovery of water vapor molecules in the disk may help shed light
on the origins of our own solar system and the potential for life to develop in others.
They also quoted Carr using the building blocks angle, Now that we can identify these molecules and inventory them,
we will have a better understanding of the origins and evolution of the
basic building blocks of life--where they come from and how they evolve.
1. Swain, Vashist and Tinneti, The presence of methane in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet,
452, 329-331 (20 March 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06823.
Your imagination is being taken for a ride when
you fall for the building blocks line.
Assumptions, unwarranted inferences and misdirection: these are the
building blocks of lie.
Electronic Nose Cant Outsniff Yours 03/19/2008
Next headline on:
Origin of Life
March 19, 2008 Electronic nose makers are smelling your dust, said
Daily. Despite 25 years of research, development of an electronic
nose even approaching the capabilities of the human sniffer remains a dream,
the article said.
Biological noses are great at discriminating between volatile
compounds. We can immediately sense things that are fruity, grassy, and
earthy, for instance. Electronic noses are good for detecting particular
compounds like carbon monoxide, but have a hard time doing what the human nose
does easily: picking out the signatures of thousands of odors.
The future doesnt look any brighter for nose engineers:
Keeping its limitations in mind and adapted for a special purpose, this
will be the future for the electronic nose for as long as the ability to smell
odors rather than detect volatiles is still far away over the rainbow.
Maybe they need a code in their nose
11/07/2001). Think of it: your lowly
schnotz, the mountain on your map, is a peak that geeks cannot conquer.
Take time to smell the flowers as spring approaches. Theres one
thing your iPhone cant do. How do I know? iNose. I just nose.
National Geographic calms distressed Darwinists to sleep, from
Next headline on:
Planet Formation: Just Add Water? 03/19/2008
March 19, 2008 The Spitzer Space Telescope found evidence of water in a
dust disk around a star. Does this mean we understand how the earth, with
all its water, formed?
Using the Spitzer infrared instrumentation, John Carr (Naval Research
Laboratory) and Joan Najita (National Optical Astronomy Observatory) found spectra of organic molecules
and water in the planet-forming region of star AA Tauri. Reporting in
Science,1 they said this extends the water-bearing region out
to 3 AU (astronomical units), previously observed only one-tenth that range (0.3 AU). Earth,
by definition, is 1 AU from our sun. The presence of water is important not
only for oceans but for the oxidizing state of the gas and minerals that might
make up a rocky planet.
Commenting on this paper in the same issue of Science,2
Fred Ciesla of the Carnegie Institution of Washington was excited. His excitement
centered not so much on finding answers as much as sorting out possibilities.
Chondrites (meteoritic material) support a wide range of isotopic ratios.
This means they are not much help defining the conditions in planet-forming regions.
Although agreements of this type between the models and the chondrites
hint that we are beginning to understand how our solar system formed,
they are far from definitive, he said. Alternate models have
been proposed and have equal success in explaining the properties of chondritic materials.
The debate remains unsettled, even though it is important: Identifying which of
these models is correct is critical to furthering our understanding of
how planetary systems form because it has implications on other issues,
ranging from the origin of cometary grains to the manner by which giant planets form.
So does the news about water at AA Tauri settle the question?
Not exactly. Dust disks around other stars show a wide range of available
water vapor, from wet to dry: Interestingly, water appears to be depleted in
SVS 13 relative to what is predicted in stagnant disk models, he said.
Does the degree of observed variation confuse models of planetary evolution
or constrain them? It depends on ones optimism, imagination, and
To date, these observations do not distinguish which of the models developed for
our solar nebula is correct but rather lend support to recent models
for the dynamic evolution of water and other volatiles in protoplanetary disks.
However, as the techniques used by Carr et al. are applied to
other disks, correlations between their chemical compositions and their physical
properties can be identified. Models for water evolution
predict that the enhancement of water in inner disks should be followed by
periods of depletions, so systematic variations with age are expected. Also,
larger disks would provide more water ice to drift inward and thus
would produce greater enhancements in the inner disk. Searching for
such correlations will thus allow us to test models developed for
our own solar nebula and determine whether it evolved in a similar way
as other disks in our galaxy or if, instead, our planetary system is
the result of one or multiple unique circumstances. Right now,
these new results, combined with the discovery of high temperature grains in
comets and in the outer regions of protoplanetary disks, suggest that
the manner by which our solar system formed may have been the rule.
The presence of high-temperature grains in comets, he didnt mention, was a
complete surprise (01/25/2008, bullet 1, and
1. John S. Carr and John R. Najita, Organic Molecules and Water in the Planet Formation Region of Young Circumstellar Disks,
14 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5869, pp. 1504-1506, DOI: 10.1126/science.1153807.
2. Fred Ciesla, Planetary Science: Observing Our Origins,
4 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5869, pp. 1488-1489, DOI: 10.1126/science.1155858.
May, might, would, could, should perhaps
water content goes up and down; maybe planets form by core accretion and then
again, maybe they dont; maybe earth formed by one (or more) unique circumstances
or maybe planet formation is common, maybe there is a rule here and maybe not
but we are getting warmer! Observing our origins, Ciesla calls
this. Any number of models can be developed that
fit the same observations or any new ones that come along. There are enough
holes in this line of reasoning to drive a starship freight transport fleet through.
Ciesla has a case of ingrown eyeballs. The only thing he is observing is his imagination,
projected on the back of his skull.
Neanderthals: Random Drift, Not Natural Selection 03/18/2008
Next headline on:
March 18, 2008 The differences between Neanderthals and modern humans were
not due to evolution for bigger brains or anything of the sort. They were due
to genetic drift, says an article on
A team of anthropologists has compared measurements of Neanderthal
skulls to modern human skulls, and argues that most variations among them are the
result of random changes that occur over time, and not of adaptations driven by
natural selection, the article states up front.
Dont chalk up
the differences in modern humans to bigger brains, better eyesight, better noses,
or better ability to survive and reproduce. Thats the assertion of
Tim Weaver and a team from University of California, Davis. The article
says, This finding may contradict a common belief that humans won out over
Neanderthals because they acquired helpful physical changes in their skulls.
Erik Trinkaus, anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, agrees.
When we look at the archaeology, theres essentially no difference
in their implied social sophistication, he said. They use the
same kinds of tools, theyre all burying their dead, theyre all using
body decorations of some form or another. They were equally effective at
hunting animals. In anything that we can measure, theres very little
difference between Neanderthal and modern humans 50,000 to 100,000 years ago.
Trinkaus explained that its like football. One team wins one year,
another team the next. Why, in more recent time periods, do you have
some groups of humans with certain cultural advances who displace others?
Its happened many times. Theres nothing biologically superior
about one group versus the other.
Trinkaus said the reason modern humans flourished and Neanderthals
didnt may have just been luck.
If modern humans and Neanderthals diverged from a common ancestor 370,000 years
ago, as the article claims, this would have to mean that two independent lines of
humans converged on the same intelligence, culture and physical capabilities
without natural selection only by random genetic changes.
We need to keep repeating that the Neanderthal
myth is dead. Neanderthals were Homo sapiens, wise, intelligent,
capable hunters who made art, buried their dead, survived and flourished.
Their traits overlap with those of other humans. There is no reason to believe
they were not fully human, capable of interbreeding with other Homo sapiens
and talking and communicating with them. They were members of the ONE
The Gecko in the Flight Simulator 03/17/2008
The article dubs this a counterintuitive
hypothesis. Its not counterintuitive at all. It makes
perfect sense to those not drunk on Dar-wine. Neanderthals and modern
humans were brethren; they were both descendants of the original created
The new evolutionary myth, that Neanderthals and modern humans (note the
embedded evolutionary assumption) diverged from some mythical common ancestor
370,000 years ago, but never learned how to ride a horse in all that time, is
no better than the old one. Evolutionary myths are tales told
about bones that have been sacrificed in homage to Charlie. Theres no
meat on them.
Next headline on:
March 17, 2008 Its a lizard! Its a plane! Its Supergecko!
Researchers at UC Berkeley (where else) put a gecko into a wind tunnel to watch it fly.
News about geckos magic feet that allow it to run vertically up glass is almost old
hat now (08/27/2002,
Even a gecko can lose its footing, though, and thereon hangs a tail.
Publishing in PNAS,1 (the cover story
of the March 18 issue), the team had some
superlatives to share about these critters that skitter:
In a single second of vertical running, geckos travel 15 body
lengths and take 30 steps. During rapid climbing, their toes
attach in 5 ms [milliseconds, or thousandths of a second] and detach in only 15 ms.... During our
initial explorations of climbing on realistic surfaces and upsidedown
locomotion, we noticed that a geckos agility involved far
more than just secure footholds. Here, we pursue our observations
by testing the hypothesis that the geckos tail enhances its
scansorial and arboreal performance.
The speed translates into 3 feet per second. Taking advantage of atomic
van der Waals forces (01/30/2008), they attach
and detach their feet 30 times per second while running straight up. Amazing as the feet
are (12/06/2006), the tail is the key to this tale.
The active tails of the gecko function as
stabilizers and gliders. When the gecko finds itself in a rapid free-fall,
unlike Wiley E. Coyote, it can flip right over. The tail twists and puts
him right-side-up in mere milliseconds. Then, the tail provides pitch control
as the gecko assumes Superman position, allowing him to land on all fours almost every time.
Unlike cats, which can right themselves during a drop by twisting the spine, geckos keep their spine
rigid. They flip upright by doing the twist with their active tails.
Why the flight simulator? The wind tunnel experiments showed that the broad area of the tail
helps slow and control the descent, like a glider. During the glide, they
control pitch and yaw and can actually steer themselves a bit toward safety.
In addition, the tail acts as a stabilizer when climbing on a vertical surface.
The tail adds pressure and balance if the gecko finds itself leaning backward even as much as 60 degrees.
If a foot falters on a slippery patch, the gecko shifts its tail to the side like a bicycle kickstand.
The tail, then, serves both as a fifth leg and a glider. The authors did not
say whether a gecko can grab a branch with its tail on the way down.
Daily, Live Science, the
BBC News and
the paper with a picture of a gecko in free-fall. (The researchers, incidentally, abided by
all the rules of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act.) After watching these tricks,
the light bulb went on: The discovery is already helping engineers design
better climbing robots and may aid in the design of unmanned gliding vehicles or spacecraft,
the press release said. Perhaps, the researchers say, an active
tail could help astronauts maneuver in space.
1. Jusufi, Goldman, Revzen and Full, Active tails enhance arboreal acrobatics in geckos,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
USA, published online on March 17, 2008, 10.1073/pnas.0711944105.
The article did not mention evolution. The paper was listed under the category Evolution,
but has design written all over it.
Fresh-looking fossil redwoods in the Arctic Circle? Really? See
Next headline on:
How to Address an Alien 03/17/2008
March 17, 2008 How would you like this job: your assignment is to be the
speechwriter for planet earth. You are to figure out what our first message
is to the aliens to give them a good first impression as we introduce the
human species to the galactic community. No kidding? What does it pay?
Believe it or not, there is someone who has the title of Director of Interstellar Message Composition.
His name is Douglas Vakoch, and he is with the SETI Institute (his day job is Chair of the Faculty, California Institute of Integral Studies).
You can read what he thinks about making a good first impression in his
article at Space.com,
How we present ourselves to aliens.
Vakoch seems convinced that if contact is ever made, we will find the aliens to
be much more intelligent than ourselves. Thats because they would have sent
their signal long ago, and would have had time to evolve far beyond us.
That being the case, we would have to approach them with humility instead of hubris.
But even sharing tidbits of what little we know might be a good approach. To
support this, he used an analogy from the Bible:
What might surprise ET is how well humans get by, even when we are a bit inaccurate. Though we now know that the value of p[i] is 3.14159 ... (and on it goes into infinity), earlier mathematicians used much cruder estimates of p [sic, pi]. For example, when wise King Solomon was planning a bathing area in the great temple he was constructing, its specifications indicated that the pool would have a radius of 5 units and a circumference of 30 units. If you plug these numbers into the equation for calculating the circumference of a circle, youll see that the value of p[i] was estimated to be 3. While this number underestimates p[i] by about 5%, by all accounts, the temple turned out to be quite spectacular. Perhaps the most important message that ET could gain from this example is that in spite of our imperfections and miscalculations, we humans are capable of moving forward, sometimes with a fair amount of style.
It was not a bathing area, like a swimming pool, as Vakoch intimated.
It was the bronze laver for the priests to use when offering sacrifices.
Bible scholars have answered this apparent inaccuracy of pi in several ways (see
on the Web and article by Russell
Grigg). Incidentally, speaking of the period of Solomons Temple,
Antiquities Authority announced discovery of seals and pottery from the First Temple
Period in digs nearby the Temple Mount. At least there is some hard evidence
for it, unlike for SETI.
Regardless of the mathematical acumen of Solomons engineers, the point Vakoch is making is that humans need
to embrace their imperfections and not let our galactic adolescence deter us from
trying to make a good impression. Who knows? They might be surprised,
perhaps even pleasantly so, to discover a young civilization that would initiate a
conversation in which each exchange could take hundreds or thousands of years,
he ended. Wise old extraterrestrials might even admire our audacity
for believing that, in spite of our shortcomings, humans may continue
to exist in the coming centuries perhaps even long enough to receive a reply from ET.
If anyone needs proof that SETI believers are just
as nutty as any cultist, look no further. We havent seen a blip on our
antennas for 40 years, and this guy is already wanting to grovel in front of the
feet of the Wise Old Extraterrestrials. W.O.E.
Astrobiology Justifying Itself 03/16/2008
Look; all you have to tell them is, Kiss me; Im Irish.
Thats no blarney. Happy St. Patricks Day.
Next headline on:
Bible and Theology
March 16, 2008 Is astrobiology a legitimate science? Seth Shostak,
director of the SETI Institute, tried to answer that question in the weekly SETI
Thursday column on Space.com.
He estimates there are approximately a thousand scientists who would be proud to
print astrobiologist on their business cards. Astrobiology still
gets a cool reception in some quarters. Shostak likened this reaction to the initial
response to other new programs, such as womens studies and quantum mechanics. He
recalled how a paper by Grote Reber on radio emissions from space (see
02/06/2003) an epochal paper that
opened up the field of radio astronomy was uniformly rejected
by the reviewers at the Astrophysical Journal. (Thankfully, the editor published it
anyway. See also the quote at top right of this page.)
Astrobiology, though, gets respect and funding without too much trouble, so why the need
to justify it? The field is young enough to still have vocal critics,
Shostak replied, in particular, those who think that astrobiology is
nothing more than a hope that life will someday be discovered beyond Earth.
To calm the critics, Shostak produced a short list of achievements to show
that astrobiology is producing scientific fruit in the process
of looking for life. In short, they are: (1) finding extrasolar planets,
(2) refining the conditions for life, (3) and generating research on the origin of
life and intelligence. Furthermore, astrobiology is
the most powerful incentive for our explorations of the solar system,
he added as an encore. Why do we pay so much more attention to Mars,
Europa and Titan than we do to Venus, Io, or Rhea? Its because the
former worlds have the conditions that might foster and nurture the most
compelling activity in the universe: life.
Shostak did not address whether the achievements in his list might
have occurred without astrobiology, other than to suggest that astrobiology gives
impetus to those research fields:
Its true that incontrovertible proof of extraterrestrial life is still
lacking. But there are just two paths to the future: either we
will eventually find biology elsewhere, or we wont. If
you are among those who think that only Earth has spawned life, then
astrobiology is, indeed, only useful in proving your hypothesis by
enduring endless failure to reach its ultimate goal. But if it seems
plausible that, among the 10 thousand billion billion other star systems of
the visible universe, there are some places where the remarkable chemical
interplay we call life also occurs, than [sic] astrobiology research can
only speed its discovery.
Shostak assumed that life and intelligence would have evolved by unintelligent
causes. He did not consider what a creationist explanation for extraterrestrial life
might include, nor whether non-evolutionary assumptions might also speed the discovery
of extraterrestrial life.
Shostaks writings are usually stimulating and
entertaining, but you wont find much of substance here to prove his case that
astrobiology is a valid science. Consider the fundamental fact that it hasnt
found any life yet. If you founded a branch of science to look for gnomes,
and went for years without finding any, would it justify your funding to consider
the spinoff discoveries along the way?
How to Avoid Dark Energy 03/15/2008
Suppose you discovered that the undersides
of certain rocks have the conditions for gnomes. Then, you found, serendipitously,
a new species of toadstools growing in habitats thought inhospitable for fungi.
Gnomes love toadstools, you say, so this certainly shows you are making progress.
To top it off, your efforts spawned a number of other research projects, such as
clarifying the conditions for gnomes and speculating about the evolution of gnomic intelligence.
Would these selling points qualify for respect in the research community?
Some of the marks on Shostaks astrobiology scorecard are disqualified because
they assume evolution to research on evolution a circular and incestuous line of reasoning.
As for the remaining valid scores, is astrobiology the only contestant?
A creationist worldview could just as easily have achieved the practical spinoffs Shostak
claimed for astrobiology: discovering extrasolar planets, discovering extremophiles,
exploring the limits of habitability, and promoting the space program. Why?
Some creationists admit the possibility that God created life elsewhere than earth.
Wouldnt that belief motivate efforts to find them and communicate with them?
Other creationists who feel life (especially intelligent life) is restricted to earth might still
be fascinated to understand just what are the life-giving features of our planet by comparing
it with others. Finally, creationists are arguably more motivated to do pure
research into all aspects of creation because they love and honor any handwork of the Creator.
Unfortunately, we will never know how well creationists would have
scored on these research programs, because they have been systematically
expelled from the academic community and
funding sources. A hint at what might have been, however, can be seen by
a look at their track record in history.
Next headline on:
Origin of Life
March 15, 2008 Who needs dark energy? Copernicus? George Ellis
(U. of Cape Town) said we could get rid of dark energy by throwing the Copernican
Principle overboard. Writing in Nature,1
he said that dark energy may simply be an artifact of the geometry of space-time.
Copernicus did not invent the Copernican Principle. He was just
trying to simplify calendar-making and astronomical prediction with a new sun-centered
geometry. The revolution begun by On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
in 1543 (see Scientist of the Month) took natural philosophy captive
and dragged it into realms far beyond the wildest dreams of Nicolas Copernicus himself.
Removing earth from the center of the scheme of the universe began a series of corollaries.
The solar system was not the center, neither nor the galaxy, nor anything.
The Copernican Principle slowly became a dogma. For nearly a century, it has been nearly
a catechism to recite that there is nothing special about the earth or any other point in space or time.
Now, in an astonishing statement of cosmic scope, Ellis gently proposed questioning
the cherished assumption that has been a cornerstone of 20th-century cosmology.
He says it is untested and unnecessary. The troublesome problem of dark energy
might be solved, he said, by jettisoning the Copernican principle.
The fundamental dynamics of the Universe are embodied in Albert Einsteins general-relativistic field equations, which describe how gravity arises through the distortion of space-time by mass and energy. The simplest class of solution to those equations, that on which the concordance model is based, assumes that matter is distributed both homogeneously (everything is similar in all regions of space) and isotropically (everything looks the same in all directions). That assumption is consistent with observations, but it is not a direct consequence of them. It is the favoured solution both because it is the simplest and because it rests on a cherished cosmological assumption. This is the copernican principle: that the characteristics of the Universe in our neighbourhood are not special in any way, but are typical of the whole.
Whoa; thats radical. What would a universe mean that is not homogeneous
or isotropic? He examined whether inhomogeneities might be local or global.
Its clear that space-time is not homogeneous and isotropic in our neighborhood.
We live in a galaxy. Theres a lot of empty space between our galaxy and the next one.
Nothing uniform about that. Moreover, we live in a cluster of galaxies another
level of clumpiness. Cosmologists presume, however, that they can average out the local clumpiness
by looking at large enough scales. Is that certain? What if there are sizeable
voids and clumps on higher scales that prevent averaging? Weve heard reports
of gigantic walls of superclusters of galaxies that are a non-trivial part of the visible
In addition, there are vast regions with almost no galaxies at all.
Further, we know from gravitational lensing that dense areas can distort the light of
quasars behind them (07/23/2006).
A cherished assumption this might be, but it is also fundamentally untested. It is consistent with the supernova observations, but only provided that some form of dark energy is present. The central plank of the new research is the claim that, by jettisoning the copernican principle and our assumptions about the distribution of matter in the Universe, we can also abandon the troublesome chimaera of dark energy.
These local inhomogeneities can already skew our supernova measurements
and, with them, our interpretations of cosmic acceleration, of which dark energy is
the troublesome chimera. And then what if there are clumps and voids at
the Hubble scale? All bets are off.2
Ellis cant be serious, can he? He recognizes that much testing
would have to back up any decision to alter the Copernican Principle.
Spatial homogeneity is one of the foundations of standard cosmology,
he said, winding up his thoughts, so any chance to check those foundations observationally
should be welcomed with open arms.
He applauded the work of Clarkson et al last year who show that a simple
observation of the copernican principle that is independent of any theory of gravity
or model for dark energy is possible through redshift and area–distance
observations of distant galaxies. This and other papers Ellis referenced were published
on ArXiv, an open-access journal where non-traditional proposals are more likely to get a hearing.
That Nature would publish this is an indication Ellis is not crazy.
Ellis ended by casting doubt on any dark-energy solution that implies the existence of
negative kinetic energy terms, like some adventurous workers propose in
violation of energy conditions. Instead, It may be that such observations
are trying to tell us that there is something fundamentally wrong in our assumptions;
and that the acceleration conundrum could have a geometric, rather than a dynamic, solution.
1. George Ellis, Cosmology: Patchy solutions,
452, 158-161 (13 March 2008) | doi:10.1038/452158a.
2. Ellis is not the first to propose geometric inhomogeneities as a solution to
the dark-matter problem. See, for instance, New
Scientist a year ago (03/30/2007), and Simon D. M. Whites paper Why Dark Energy is Bad for Astronomy
on ArXiv. Another article on
Scientist (13 July 2007) suggested dark energy lurks in hidden spatial dimensions,
and another New
Scientist article a month later (31 August 2007) suggested that if the universe resembled
swiss cheese on large scales (i.e., numerous large voids and dense regions), it could
partially mimic the effects of dark energy.
The dark energy problem has caused a lot of head-scratching
among cosmologists. While the popular science writers have confidently stated the
consensus idea that 73% or so of the universe is made of dark energy, as if this is a
matter of undisputed fact (e.g., 11/02/2002),
this article reveals that many cosmologists are still uncomfortable
with it. Its been embarrassing to not know anything about a substance that
allegedly makes up the bulk of the universe (07/23/2007,
Vintage 2002 molecular machines, from
Philosophers and historians of science should take note. Here is a case where one
of the most fundamental, indeed, one of the most cherished assumptions in cosmology is on the
auction block. This is not the first time. Quantum physicists were just
about ready to jettison the Law of Conservation of Energy once when observations didnt
square with theory. There have been other times when radical overhauls of cherished
assumptions were considered in order to save the phenomena (i.e., match
theory to the observations). So many things have gone wrong with modern cosmology,
the crisis in confidence prevails (05/11/2006).
This suggests several paradigm changes are possible in the next few years.
The Copernican Principle may survive this debate. If it
goes overboard, though, a lot of metaphysical baggage of the Carl Sagan type may just
go overboard with it maybe even the mantra of atheistic evolutionary naturalism,
We are nothing special.
Next headline on:
Animal Feats Inspire Imitation 03/14/2008
March 14, 2008 Imagine carrying 850 times your own weight. Step aside, Hercules, and meet the
Hercules beetle: the strongest creature in the world.
said that researchers in Belgium are not just impressed with its show of strength. They
are finding inspiration for intelligent materials.
The Hercules beetle has a shell that is able to change colors when
the humidity changes. The normally green shell turns black as water enters
microscopic pores that interfere with light. Scientists are not sure why
the beetle has this feature, but they want to imitate it. The sort of
structural behaviour displayed by the Hercules Beetle could be an important
property for intelligent materials, one researcher said.
These materials could work as passive humidity detectors without the need for
electronics useful, for instance, in
food processing plants to monitor moisture conditions.
Switch your attention from feats to feet.
In a story on Science
Daily last month, MIT wizards have learned from mighty lizards.
They have produced a dissolving bandage, inspired by gecko feet. Drawing
on some of the principles that make gecko paws unique, the surface of the
bandage has the same kind of nanoscale hills and valleys that allow the lizards to
cling to walls and ceilings the article explains. Layered over this
landscape is a thin coating of glue that helps the bandage stick in wet environments,
such as to heart, bladder or lung tissue
Finding materials that can stick in a wet environment would be very useful for
surgeons working on blood vessels, heart tissue, ulcers and intestines.
The MIT inventors took inspiration from tissues of other creatures besides the
gecko. They invented a kind of bio-rubber that is flexible, adhesive to wet
surfaces, and biocompatible (non-inflammatory).
Because the bandage is also biodegradable, the
doctor can put it on, and let it dissolve away when its work is done.
The bandages work is done, of course, because
of a highly sophisticated repair mechanism in the body that can re-grow damaged
tissue if the rupture is sealed for a period of time.
Falling Rocks Leave Holes in Science 03/13/2008
This is the way
science should be done. No metaphysical incursions, no ethical excursions
not even storytelling diversions or anticreationist aspersions.
Just look at nature to understand it, with the goal of helping mankind.
Next headline on:
March 13, 2008 Hard data in astronomy is hard to come by, except when it
comes by special delivery as with meteorites. If there is any class of phenomena that
should be well understood, it should be space debris and the craters they form, because
the processes involved can be watched in real time. Meteorites adorn
many institutions and private collections. In addition to thousands of craters
that can be studied on the moon and other bodies, we have plenty of examples right
here on the home planet. The physics of crater formation is subject to
modeling on computers. For good measure, experiments on crater formation can be performed
in the lab by shooting materials into rock and ice. A few recent science
reports illustrate, however, that a great deal remains puzzling and mysterious.
Space enthusiasts will surely want to peruse the craters that became visible yesterday during
Cassinis close flyby of
Enceladus. Some of the craters in the north polar
region (across the world from the geyser eruptions) appear semi-melted, while others
are half-erased by subsequent geological activity. Others, with irregular edges,
have large mounds in their centers criss-crossed by fractures. The lack of new
impacts in the flows would suggest that these regions are very young.
- What is it?
Geographic News reported that A pair of mysterious meteorites discovered in
Antarctica is baffling scientists who are struggling to determine the origin of the space rocks.
The rocks were oddly rusted and salty and smelled like rotten eggs.
Its not that they worry these were left by the Space Chicken; they just
dont know what laid them on the Antarctic ice. Unusual for meteorites,
these two are partially melted and contain anomalous amounts of feldspar.
Thus there are two mysteries, one of the discoverers said.
What is the parent planet for the rock, and what type of geologic activity
on that planet produced the unusual mineral assemblage? That seems to cover
the most important points to know, other than that they exist.
- Low and behold: In Peru, eyewitnesses watched a crater form last
September 15 when a large bolide hit the ground. The panic it caused among
locals is of interest to psychologists, but the impact crater itself, now filled
with water, is also filled with puzzles.
BBC News and
told how this crater is impacting ideas about meteorite fall and crater formation.
Scientists were so baffled by it, some thought it was a fake: It just didnt
make sense with what we understand of collisions with this type of fragile rock.
The object should have shattered and dispersed before hitting the ground. Bad news to
humans dodging space rocks: this one appears to have hit with full force at 15,000
miles per hour.
The crater it formed (49 feet across) is leading some
scientists to suspect other water-filled circular depressions around the earth might have formed
the same way. One planetary scientist remarked, Perhaps they also will
defy our understanding.
- Mercury falling: The MESSENGER
team reported this week at the Lunar and Planetary Science conference in Boulder, Colorado
that they cant explain some mysterious craters. Space.com
said that there are two new classes of craters in pictures from the January 14 flyby
(see 01/17/2008) that scientists are puzzling over how to explain.
Two craters have dark rims and another has an unusual shiny bottom. Of the latter, Clark Chapman
remarked, I havent heard any really convincing explanations from our science team.
We dont yet know what the material is, why it is so bright, or why it is localized in this particular crater.
- Crater upheaval: Was it a salt dome? a circular monocline? a volcano, or something else?
Long suspected to be an impact crater, Upheaval Dome in Utah is looking more like, indeed, it was hit by a space rock.
Two Berliners reported in Geology this month that they have confirmed the impact hypothesis by
detecting shocked quartz grains in the periphery of the central uplift. Calling this feature
the sphinx of geology, they said, The very controversial debate about Upheaval Domes
origin has lasted nearly a century, over the course of which extremely different hypotheses (gradualism
versus catastrophism) have been proposed. Chalk one up for the catastrophists.
Adding these stories to the upsets about crater count dating
12/27/2002) should convince onlookers that
planetary scientists, like mountain drivers, also need to watch for falling rocks.
1. Buchner and Kenkmann, Upheaval Dome, Utah, USA: Impact origin confirmed,
Volume 36, Issue 3 (March 2008), pp. 227-230.
The lesson of this entry is not that scientists
are incapable of someday understanding this subject better. It is that here
is a subject right under our noses that is poorly understood. If there are
this many anomalies, upsets and mysteries about something easily amenable to
scientific investigation, how reliable are their pronouncements about far distant
and unobservable phenomena like dark matter, black holes and the birth of the
News from the Enceladus flyby (March 12):
Puzzles are good for science. Thank goodness there are plenty
of mysteries for future scientists to solve. Let the reader of science news
reports beware, however. Science reporters
are among the most dogmatic in the world about accepted theories and consensus
explanations. A little experience with puzzles and anomalies in science is an effective
antidote for dupidity.*
* Dupidity, n. A tendency to become a dupe of the press. (A new CEH
word coined for this occasion.)
Next headline on:
The raw images are in! Click
here to browse them. Keep in mind that most of the attention was focused on the other
instruments, not the cameras. See the flyby
animation to glimpse at all the instrument commands, rolls and turns the spacecraft had to execute for the complex flyby sequence.
Mission Description states,
The major question that has emerged is why geologic
activity exists at all on this small world. Other active satellites Io (R=1810 km)
and Triton (R=1350 km) are far larger. Even with a bulk density of 1.6 gm/cm2,
heat produced in Enceladuss core from radioactive decay would have long since peaked and dissipated.
Well report overall results when they are available perhaps early next week. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the
Enceladus blog. Another
source of information is the planetary science forum at Unmanned
Spaceflight. The Imaging Team has released a detailed
mosaic of the north polar region, including areas never seen in detail before.
Notice how some craters have been half-erased by some kind of geological activity, and some craters
appear to have relaxed or melted into the surface.
Unfortunately, the Cosmic
Dust Analyzer (CDA) had a technical failure, so information on plume composition will have to be gained from the other instruments
(they will get one more chance in a future flyby).
Everything else seems to have worked well. The science teams are busy analyzing the treasure trove of data.
Humans as Lab Rats, or, Can an Evolved Brain Reason? 03/12/2008
March 12, 2008 Evolutionary biologists and neurologists use their fellow
humans as guinea pigs, performing experiments and drawing conclusions about their
evolutionary past. One question rarely asked is how reliable are conclusions
drawn from the biologists brain that is presumably just as evolved as that of
its lab subject.
Everyone does philosophy, but some do it better than others.
Philosophers both professional and amateur may wish to cogitate on the reasoning
process used in a couple of recent studies, particularly as it relates to inductive
reasoning, assumptions, and explanatory inference.
But if human reasoning be waspish, best beware its sting. The first article
undermined morality and called human behavior an innate, evolved predisposition
toward certain kinds of behavior. Does that not apply just as much to scientific reasoning?
The second article drew parallels between wasp brain power and human brain power.
But if brains are mere artifacts of social evolution, to what
standard would the biologist appeal for drawing rational conclusions?
- The evolution of punishment: Science published results of economic game
experiments by European researchers using human subjects.1
They wanted to explore the incidence of antisocial punishment,
in which non-cooperators retaliate against cooperators. They devised games
that college students played and measured the behaviors of cooperators and non-cooperators.
How does a researcher select human subjects to be able to draw conclusions
about human society in general? They realized their choice of question presented
methodological challenges. To minimize sociodemographic variability,
they said, we conducted all experiments with university undergraduates (n = 1120)
who were similar in age, shared an (upper) middle class background, and
usually did not know each other. Their goal, however, was to explain
universal human behavior even animal behavior.
In support of their choice of guinea pigs, they said,
Because both indicators [metrics used in the experiment] reflect the views of
the average citizen in a given society, it is likely that our participants,
through various forms of cultural transmission, have been exposed to the prevalent social norms and
have perceptions of the quality of the rule of law in their respective societies.
From their results, they drew broad conclusions that could impact legal and economic policy:
The detrimental effects of antisocial punishment on cooperation (and efficiency) also
provide a further rationale why modern societies shun revenge and centralize punishment
in the hands of the state.
In the same issue of Science,2 Herbert Gintis did not question the
validity of the experiments. He also asserted that this and other studies shed light
on the evolution of the human condition: This reservoir of moral predispositions is
based on an innate prosociality that is a product of our evolution as a species,
as well as the uniquely human capacity to internalize norms of social behavior.
Both forces predispose individuals to behave morally even when this conflicts
with their material interests. The explanatory inference was thus extended into
the realm of moral philosophy.
Gintis appeared satisfied with the use of games to shed light on human moral behavior.
He did not question the choice of experimental subjects, or if they could be trusted to
act during a contrived game the same way they would in other social contexts. He did not consider
the roles of human language, abstract reasoning and moral judgments on the decisions made
by people before considering whether they are applicable to animals. And
he did not ask if morality is really moral if it is an inherited predisposition
toward certain behaviors from an animal past.
- Bee logical: We are interested in how brains evolve in concert
with social evolution, said Sean ODonnell at University of Washington,
Thats why he is studying wasps.
There is the intriguing possibility that there are
similar patterns across wide spans of evolutionary time,
he said. Apparently, to ODonnell at least, if shrew Katherine is capable of
waspish behavior, that implies a kind of convergent evolution across millions of years.
ODonnells thesis was stated succinctly in paragraph one:
brainpower required to be dominant drives brain capacity.
Can this hypothesis, even if demonstrable for insects, be applicable to human beings? He realizes that humans and
wasps are super-distant animals in evolutionary terms. Nevertheless,
he feels, random evolutionary forces can be trusted to generate discernible patterns.
Heres how he put it:
Increased brainpower may be part of being social, no matter who you are,
What makes this exciting is we see some common patterns in
how brains change as societies evolve. As we see changes in
social complexity, there are changes in brain structure. If it
is good for people it should be good for wolves, dolphins and paper wasps.
Science Daily ended with this quote, apparently satisfied with its logic. There
was no mention of whether any attempt was made to demonstrate the pattern elsewhere in
the animal kingdom. No one seemed to question the explanatory inference involved,
nor the consequences: for instance, could the idea lead to discrimination against
small-brained people? Another possibility not considered was whether the drive to dominance
might be expressed in other ways: speed, agility, defense, coloration, body size, or
any number of other phenotypic manifestations, brain size being held constant. Also, might
not quality of a brain be more important than size? Crows are said to be
smarter than chimpanzees (02/23/2007).
Even though ODonnell acknowledged unanswered questions and the
need for more work, the article begged many questions about the approach and the
explanation that a philosopher of science might interject.
It just assumed: if evolution gave wasps bigger brains because they somehow were on
a path to dominance, the big brains of humans must have emerged by the same process.
What is meant by dominance? Does a big brain
necessarily correlate with dominance? Exceptions could probably be multiplied:
could mosquitoes be said to dominate the caribou they drive into the mountains? Did not small-brained
dinosaurs dominate larger-brained mammals for millions of years, according to widely-held
evolutionary beliefs? Evolution was used simultaneously as an assumption and an explanation,
and that at a gross morphological level.
The title stated in stark either-or terms:
Which Came First, Social Dominance Or Big Brains? Wasps May Tell.
1. Hermann et al, Antisocial Punishment Across Societies,
7 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5868, pp. 1362-1367, DOI: 10.1126/science.1153808.
2. Herbert Gintis, Behavior: Punishment and Cooperation,
7 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5868, pp. 1345-1346, DOI: 10.1126/science.1155333.
Does anyone think for a minute that college undergrads playing games are going to
provide some universal principle that will apply to all human societies for all
time? Or that the behavior of wasps tells us anything about human rationality?
These ideas are checkmated by the fact that they undermine the scientists
own reasoning thus, they are self-refuting.
Wacko evolutionists invent theory of beard chromodynamics to describe
how charity evolved from the green beard effect, from 03/31/2006.
Evolutionists do this all the time and get away with it. Their reasoning
stings itself dead. They undermine their own arguments and end up spouting
nonsense. Where, O where, are the logic cops? Philosophers are supposed
to criticize bad reasoning and draw distinctions. They are supposed to eliminate
the weeds and pests in the garden of reasoning so that knowledge can flourish.
Why are they scared to death to cross the Darwin Party caretakers who have let the
weeds strangle the fruit?
Next headline on:
Were Hobbits Pygmies? 03/11/2008
March 11, 2008 More miniature human skeletons have been discovered in Micronesia.
These ones, found at Palau and reported in PLoS One,1 are unquestionably
modern human, but small in stature less than four feet tall. They are also
recent. Radiocarbon dates on the bones yielded dates between 1400 and 3000 years old.
The find was reported by Science
Geographic News, PhysOrg and the
The discovery is casting doubt on the primitive designation for the
famous hobbit fossils (dubbed Homo floresiensis found on the island of Flores
in 2004 that caused a big stir (10/27/2004,
10/11/2006). The Palau skeletons have
human proportions and share features with the Flores skeletons, but have larger brains.
The discoverers, who call the specimens Homo sapiens,
think the individuals were products of dwarfism a population that becomes
diminished in size, as occurs with some species on islands with restricted
resources, and sometimes (as with pygmies in Africa) on mainland continents.
News was not ready to relate these specimens to the so-called Hobbits. They could
be skeletons of normal human children buried together, their report said. The authors
considered that hypothesis but gave anatomical reasons for rejecting it.
The work is still preliminary and will require additional samples.
Under any circumstances, they drew as a conclusion,
the Palauan sample supports at least the possibility that the Flores hominins
are simply an island adapted population of H. sapiens, perhaps with some
individuals expressing congenital abnormalities.
1. Berger, Churchill, de Klerk and Quinn, Small-Bodied Humans from Palau, Micronesia,
3(3): e1780 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001780.
The plot thickens in middle earth. Were these
children of Gondor? More hobbitses evolving into Gollum-like creatures?
The bones are real but the stories about them often become imaginative.
Tolkien developed fiction out of real-world experiences in his life. Some
scientists do the same.
Saturn Moons Continue to Surprise Scientists 03/10/2008
Next headline on:
March 10, 2008 Just days before a long-awaited dive into the plume of Enceladus
(see PhysOrg and
release, flyby stats
and news release),
Cassini found another surprise in the Saturn system: a moon with rings.
Propulsion Lab press release on March 6 reported that the large moon Rhea may have
rings the first ring system detected around a satellite of a planet.
The rings, composed of particles up to a meter in size, were not detected visually, but are inferred from
electromagnetic effects detected by Cassinis instruments. Dips in electron density were
seen on both sides of the moon, suggesting the presence of rings. They apparently extend out eight moon diameters from Rhea.
See also the National
Geographic story. More detail is available at the
Society blog, where Emily said the discovery was unexpected.
The debris orbiting Rhea could have resulted from a comet impact in
the moons past. It appears to be organized into three ringlets and is
composed of pebble to boulder-sized particles, based on inference of what material
could cause the dips in electron density. No small dust has yet been detected.
What is most mysterious is how the debris could remain
there for millions or billions of years. The original paper in Science1
said that boulders could remain in orbit for 70 million years, but that would only amount
to 1/64 the assumed age of the solar system. Richard Kerr commented on the discovery
in the same issue of Science.2
He brought up some reasons why the rings shouldnt exist:
But ring specialists still have their reservations. Such rings, they say, are possible
but improbable. First, just the right sort of impact would probably have
been required to blast material off the icy moon and into orbit. Then the ring particles
would have had to survive millions if not billions of years being torn apart by
the tidal pull of Saturn and worn down to dust by eroding small impacts. Most
constraining, perhaps, is the incredibly low limit on dust around Rhea set by
Cassinis camera, says Joseph Burns of Cornell University, who is on the imaging team.
Ring boulders must shed some dust, and even tiny amounts of dust show up when backlit by the sun.
If the rings survive further observational scrutiny, Cassini scientists will have
another age problem on their hands. In addition to the geysers on Enceladus,
the Rhea rings look like young phenomena that are supposed to
be billions of years old, according to the scientific consensus.
To prepare for the historic close encounter with Enceladus,
watch the Enceladus
Virtual Tour. A map
of the encounter is available, and a graph
of the plume trajectory. For more about the moon Enceladus, see the
Enceladus main page
and our reports from 02/17/2007,
11/28/2005. Geeks will drool over the
Description (PDF). For latest news, see the new
begun on March 10 by the Cassini team.
1. Jones et al, The Dust Halo of Saturn's Largest Icy Moon, Rhea,
7 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5868, pp. 1380-1384, DOI: 10.1126/science.1151524.
2. Richard A. Kerr, Electron Shadow Hints at Invisible Rings Around a Moon,
7 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5868, p. 1325, DOI: 10.1126/science.319.5868.1325.
Lets all sing together:
Mr. Clean Is Sick 03/09/2008
My Rhea lies over at Saturn,
My Rhea has rings that cant be;
Their real lies tell us its old stuff,
O bring back some Rheality.
You Rhealize whats going on, dont you? All observations
must be forced into the old-age assumption, whether they fit or not. This is known as science.
Enceladus is the moon to watch for a reality check. Come back Wednesday and Thursday this week for
late breaking news about the dramatic flyby as soon as it is made public.
If you downloaded CASSIE
3D tour imager, you can zoom in on the encounter to visualize the history about to be made.
Keep up on the
Next headline on:
March 09, 2008 Do you get sick too easily? Did you grow up with allergies?
One reason might be your home environment is too clean, says a story on
hypothesis asserts that our immune system over-reacts to lack of stimulation
by turning on itself producing autoimmune diseases and allergies. It
blames increased allergies on cleaner homes, increased air pollution and changes
in diet. Obesity and lack of exercise may also play a role.
One researcher at University of Iowa is treating patients with
multiple sclerosis and colitis with parasitic worms. He claims incidents of
these autoimmune diseases increased when parasitic worms were eliminated from our
environment. He thinks they have a profound symbiotic effect on
developing and maintaining the immune system.
Not sure we are ready to go that far and add
parasitic worms to the diet that idea needs much more proof! The principle
in this article could, however, help us think differently about some organisms with bad
reputations. Remember the milk maidens in Robert Jenners day who
developed immunity to smallpox by working around cows? Humans apparently need
exposure to certain organisms to develop and maintain the immune system.
Certain tribes in Africa seem to get along quite well living in harmony with
their livestock outdoors in environments that would freak out an American city dweller.
Cellular linemen in action, from 03/31/2005.
Maybe we should stop thinking of parasites as good vs evil, and
view them instead as accelerators and brakes. Everything in the living world
is in motion. There are constant pushes and pulls. This is true in the genetic
world, where promoters and repressors steer the expression of genes in a complex
dance. Our immune systems are not going to sit idly by when everything is
sterile. Needing stimulation and direction, they will practice on the bodys
own cells, like bored firefighters setting the fire station on fire.
Whats needed in this view is balance, not isolation.
Our bodies are already covered inside and out with bacteria and other
organisms, so encounters with more of them is only a matter of degree. The microorganisms, fungi and worms in
a new environment may act as alarms to keep our bodies ready. Perhaps they
even inject information needed for the body to adapt to the new
environment. They only become problematic when they swamp the bodys
ability to react perhaps because the immune response was not adequately
exercised during development. Allergies, in this view, are an over-reaction
to things that should have been encountered in childhood.
These are mere suggestions that need more rigorous investigation.
The hygiene hypothesis cannot explain everything. Plagues often ravage tribes close
to nature as much as they do city dwellers. Some parasites are nasty in any
environment. Maybe some of them had a useful function once but mutated into
pathogens. Whatever the balance point, cleanliness is still virtuous.
Didnt we learn that from Joseph Lister? (See last months Scientist of the
Month). All good suggestions need moderation. Continue to shower and wash your hands.
The idea humans need exposure to organisms in natural environments makes sense, though.
Would some hospital patients recover faster in gardens open to fresh air?
Would incidence of allergies drop with more exposure to nature in childhood?
Is working the earth in gardening and farming good for health? These seem like
proper subjects for controlled experimentation and long-term population studies.
Meanwhile, its a good bet to increase your outdoor exposure.
Jog outdoors when you can instead of going to the gym.
Take your kids camping; go on hikes and visit a variety of outdoor environments.
This is unquestionably a better strategy for long-term health than parking them in front
of the TV or video games with a bag of junk food. This is a one principle
both creationists and evolutionists should be able to agree on.
Next headline on:
Revolt in the Darwin Camp 03/07/2008
March 7, 2008 With minor skirmishes, the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis (natural selection acting on
random genetic mutations) has held sway in evolutionary theory since the 1930s.
Now, discontent with the pre-eminence of natural selection is leading to a major skirmish
between evolutionists to be fought at a conference this summer. Susan Mazur
calls this the Woodstock of Evolution
in The Scoop Independent
Its not Yasgurs Farm, but what happens at the Konrad Lorenz Institute
in Altenberg, Austria this July promises to be far more transforming for the world
than Woodstock. What it amounts to is a gathering of 16 biologists and
philosophers of rock star stature lets call them the Altenberg 16
who recognize that the theory of evolution which most practicing biologists
accept and which is taught in classrooms today, is inadequate in
explaining our existence. Its pre the discovery of DNA,
lacks a theory for body form and does not accomodate [sic] other new phenomena.
So the theory Charles Darwin gave us, which was dusted off and repackaged
70 years ago [the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis], seems about to be reborn as
the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.
Mazur personally interviewed many of the combatants and posted
their pictures in her article.
Some of them are determined to hang on to the old theory, convinced this is much
ado about nothing. Others, to varying degrees, have risked their
careers to challenge the orthodoxy. Few are willing to state their challenges
publicly, and some fear excommunication. Stanley Salthe, for instance, said
he cant get published in the mainstream media for his views, e.g.:
Oh sure natural selections been demonstrated... the interesting point,
however, is that it has rarely if ever been demonstrated to have anything to do
with evolution in the sense of long-term changes in populations....
Summing up we can see that the import of the Darwinian theory of evolution
is just unexplainable caprice from top to bottom. What evolves is just
what happened to happen.
Jerry Fodor, another critic of natural selection (see 01/21/2008),
argues biologists increasingly see the central story of Darwin
as wrong in a way that cant be repaired.
His article Why Pigs Dont Have Wings in the
London Review of Books,
in which he laid out his criticisms of natural selection, caused such a stormy
aftermath that he joked to Mazur that he has taken refuge in the Witness Protection Program.
He was apparently reluctant to talk to Mazur after being so besieged.
You cant put this stuff in the press because its an attack on the
theory of natural selection, he told Mazur, even though he is convinced
99.99% of the population have no idea what the theory of natural selection is.
Hes not giving up on the grand evolutionary story he is just convinced
that whatever new mechanism emerges to explain evolution, it will not be selectionist.
Statements like this make traditional Darwinian selectionists like
Richard Lewontin and Kevin Padian furious. Padian hung up on Mazurs call,
harrumphing that On some things there is not a debate. Others, like Stuart Kauffman,
see a need to expand and extend Darwins ideas. He recognizes, for instance, that
Darwinism begins with life already in place and does not explain the origin of life.
What could possibly replace natural selection? Stuart Pivar is
toying with the idea that body form is an outgrowth of the egg cell membrane structure.
His critics deny that this is a complete or fruitful hypothesis; it is devoid of
empirical evidence, they complain. Pivar is another maverick having trouble getting his
Radicalism in the evolution camp is not new. Mazur quoted
Richard Milner describing the late Stephen Jay Gould, who along Niles Eldredge
had criticized selectionism (or adaptationism) in the 1990s. Milner described Gould as
a popular articulator of Darwinian evolution to a new generation, while privately,
his creative and rebellious mind sought to move beyond it. Their hypothesis of
punctuated equilibria never quite gained traction the idea
that most of evolutionary history involves stasis, with rapid evolutionary jumps in
between. Milner continued, Gould took issue with those who used natural
selection carelessly as a mantra, as in the evidence-free just-so stories
concocted out of thin air by mentally lazy adaptationists. Goulds
critics, on the other hand, viewed punctuated equilibria as deficient in mechanisms that
could generate functional innovation.
Traditionalists like Richard Lewontin think that no new extended synthesis
is necessary, and that the mavericks are just trying to garner prestige for themselves.
To him, all that is necessary to prove natural selection is to ask yourself, do you survive?
Whether or not the mavericks will gain traction at Altenberg, it seems clear that there
is war in the Darwin Camp. About the only thing they agree on is
that intelligent design and creationism are bad, bad, bad. ID ideas are off the table.
Looking in from the outside at this skirmish,
the pro-ID Discovery Institute blog Evolution
News and Views had some fun. This article gives the lie to the
NCSEs claim that there is no controversy about evolution, wrote Robert Crowther.
It also demonstrates the risk any critics of Darwinism have for getting
The papers for the July conference have already been submitted and
will be published, ironically, for Darwin Day in 2009. If Neo-Darwinism is in so much trouble,
is an emerging new consensus in the offing? It appears that all Mazur could
find were a dirty-laundry list of problems, and a preliminary airing of ethereal suggestions.
Regardless of what transpires at the conference, Crowther observed, a paradigm shift is on the way.
This is called giving your opponents enough rope
to hang themselves. We didnt have to say any of the following:
How to Translate Darwinese 03/06/2008
All we needed to do was hold up the microphone to them after announcing to the crowds, Hear ye,
hear ye! Come on over and listen to the secrets of the universe! Hear
the worlds experts tell where you came from! Find out why this theory
must be taught in public schools to the exclusion of anything else! Learn why
Darwin Day should become an international holiday!
- The central story of Darwin [is] wrong in a way that cant be repaired. (Mazur summarizing Fodor)
- 99.99% of the population have no idea what the theory of natural selection is. (Fodor)
- The import of the Darwinian theory of evolution is just unexplainable caprice from top to bottom. (Salthe)
- [There is] reluctance to scientists being discouraged about taking a chance on ideas originating
outside their peer group plus their dependence on government grants which are tied-in to support for natural selection. (Pivar)
- Self-organization mingles with natural selection in barely understood ways to yield the magnificence of our teeming biosphere. (Kauffman)
- Astrobiology doesnt exist. What are the laws? (Fodor)
- Natural selection [is used] carelessly as a mantra, as in the evidence-free just-so stories
concocted out of thin air by mentally lazy adaptationists. (Gould)
Now can we say, Teach the controversy?
Next headline on:
Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory
March 6, 2008 A unique culture has sprung up around evolutionary biology. Since evolutionary
theory encompasses far more than just change in living species (touching on, for instance,
ultimate origins, the nature of humanity and the destiny of the universe), its supporters
sometimes get a little carried away in their language. The tendency in science
reporting to embellish tidbits of observation with wide-reaching conclusions and to
incorporate questionable tidbits into support for macroevolution is a habit we will
Translating Darwinese into unbiased science requires skill and training.
The interpreter must brush past the embellishments and search out the kernel of observation
that was the basis for the report. It is also important to look at the observations
separately from the millions-of-years claims, which are tied into the assumption of evolution.
Speculative stories and loaded words like primitive and modern must
be bypassed in search of the brute facts. Finally, the interpreter must look for
signs that the observations were surprising. The surprise effect is often a clue
that the evolutionary biologist or reporter is about to do some spin doctoring to keep
the evolutionary story intact. Here are some recent examples.
This last entry exhibits
another characteristic of Darwinese: the frequent use of future tense.
No matter how surprising or confusing an observation appears at first glance, it
always contains a promise it may shed light on evolution.
- Batter up: National
Geographic News reported that six species of fossil bats were discovered in Egypt.
- Darwinese: The paleontologists say the diversity of species discovered
in El Faiyum is the strong evidence that bat species evolved in Africa.
The bats were pretty primitive members of modern groups, the leader of the study said.
In a sense, Africa is sort of a crucible for the evolution of the modern bats.
The fossils were said to be 35 million years old. The team leader said he thinks
a primitive bat species made its way to Africa some 50 million years ago,
then differentiated into these more modern forms.
- Translation: The fossils are essentially identical to modern bats.
The experts were also surprised to find that the new species were similar to
some modern-day microbats, a group of bats that uses sonar waves to navigate and
hunt in a process called echolocation. According to the article, they were all members of living
families. One was even a giant, which makes it perhaps the largest of the echolocating
species yet found. This could support a theory that bats are devolving from what they
The fossilized bats apparently had all the advanced adaptations
for flight and sonar, so labeling them primitive seems unsupportable except in
the view that, being allegedly tens of millions of years old, they must have been
less evolved than living bats.
- Rearranging the tree: Science
Daily reported that Brown University biologists have conducted the most comprehensive
animal phylogenomic research project to date, involving 40 million base pairs of new DNA data
taken from 29 animal species.
- Darwinese: The study, which appears in Nature, settles some long-standing
debates about the relationships between major groups of animals, the
article said. One paragraph recounted how Charles Darwin invented the tree of life concept
in The Origin of Species. The article described how the new method improves on
earlier ones, and demanded the power of more than 120 processors housed in computer
clusters located in laboratories around the globe. an irrelevant detail since
computer analysis could be used in any number of interpretations.
The study unambiguously
confirmed certain animal relationships and convincingly resolved conflicting evidence
surrounding other relationships. The team lead announced cheerfully, this new information
changes our basic understanding about the natural world because the tree of life is
now clearer than before. The new approach will be able to resolve at
least some problems that have been previously intractable.
- Translation: The study produced an implausible solution with many surprises.
The big shocker: Comb jellyfish -- common and extremely fragile jellies with
well-developed tissues -- appear to have diverged from other animals even
before the lowly sponge, which has no tissue to speak of. This finding calls into
question the very root of the animal tree of life, which traditionally placed sponges at the base.
Clearly a big shocker that puts more complex animals before simpler ones was not predicted.
What explanation was offered?
This finding suggests either that comb jellies evolved their complexity
independently from other animals, or that sponges have become greatly simplified
through the course of evolution, the team lead suggested. If corroborated
by other types of evidence, this would significantly change the way we think about
the earliest multicellular animals.
What this seems to say, after translation from Darwinese, is that comb
jellies, which have complex chemical light arrays, feeding organs and behaviors (see
12/19/2005) appeared abruptly without an evolutionary
history. Also, if something complex evolved into something simpler
thats the opposite of what evolutionary biology usually tries to explain.
- Lemur murmurs: Science
Daily reported about a study of lemurs in Madagascar by the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy.
- Darwinese: After swabbing the cheeks of more than 200 lemurs
and related primates to collect their DNA, researchers... now have a much clearer
picture of their evolutionary family tree. The researchers triumphantly
announced that we have absolutely confirmed, beyond any statistical doubt,
that the spectacular array of lemurs all descended from a single ancestral species.
According to the report, the study also has important
ramifications for human evolution, too. The title announced, Lemurs Evolutionary
History May Shed Light On Our Own.
- Translation: All the lemurs were from the island of Madagascar.
Since even young-earth creationists allow for the diversification of species within
created kinds (one of their common examples is the spectacular array of
dogs), this study could not differentiate between the views of creationists
The researchers studied only lemurs but made unwarranted assertions
about other primate groups, including humans. The researchers
admitted that many of the relationships among other apes, monkeys and pre-monkeys
called prosimians have remained somewhat murky but then they contrasted the murkiness
with humans close evolutionary ties to chimpanzees
even though geneticists have recently admitted the similarities have been exaggerated
Weve been looking for Darwins light
for a long time. All we have seen is dark matter, dark energy, dark morality
and darkened understanding. Follow Diogenes, the guy with the lantern
looking for an honest man.
Grand Canyon: How Do You Get a River Over a Mountain? 03/05/2008
Exercise: Try your hand at translating Darwinese; its fun once
you get the hang of it.
Science Daily on butterfly mimicry.
Science Daily on antibiotic resistance.
Live Science on the Burgess Shale.
BBC News on a fossil rabbit.
National Geographic on a fossil primate.
Teachers: Inspire your students to become interpreters of Darwinese.
Theres a world-wide shortage, judging from the hubris with which the science
news media speak it.
Next headline on:
March 5, 2008 One would think that the Grand Canyon, one of earths most prominent geological
features, studied by geologists for 140 years, would be well understood. Wrong.
The Colorado Rivers integration off the Colorado Plateau remains a
classic mystery in geology, despite its pivotal role in the cutting of
Grand Canyon and the regions landscape evolution. Thats how
Joel Pederson (Utah State) began the cover article in GSA Today this month,1
a bimonthly journal of the Geological Society of America.
The mystery he investigated is how the Colorado River ran over a mountain: the
The Kaibab uplift is the broad southern end of the Colorado Plateau
through which the Grand Canyon has been carved. Rivers do not normally flow
uphill. The upper Colorado River, roaring from Rocky Mountain snow melt, faces
this obstacle; yet here the Grand Canyon cuts right into the plateau at a steep
monocline that extends north-south through Utah, and manages to run westward
through the high province till emerging from the Grand Wash Cliffs at the west edge
of the plateau. There, at modern
Lake Mead, the river suddenly enters the Basin and Range province of Nevada.
It flows onward to the southwest, emerging at the Gulf of California (a nice tour to take in
Of the many theories to explain this phenomenon since John Wesley Powell
ran the river for the first time in the 1870s, three have survived. (Powells
own idea that the river cut downward as the plateau raised upward did not last long,
because of dating discrepancies: the plateau was thought to rise much earlier than
the river.) If there had been an antecedent river, where is the huge delta
that should have formed at its terminus? His own study showed that the Muddy
Creek Formation (Google Earth, 36°42'45" N, 114°19'40" W) looks more like
drainage from the ancestral Virgin River, not the Colorado. If the early river had exited through
the Little Colorado, why is there no evidence at that location? The least-likely
explanation had been the precocious gully theory of Charlie Hunt. Beginning in 1956,
Hunt imagined a southwestern river cutting headward into the plateau and joining up with the ancestral Colorado river.
Hunts hypothesis (b), that the river arrived in the central-western
Grand Canyon area and simply infiltrated and terminated, never gained tractionand was not well loved even by Hunt himself,
Surprisingly, that is exactly the theory Pederson tries to resurrect in
this paper. Its not so much that it is a good hypothesis; it is just the
best of the worst. His last sentence makes that clear: For now,
Hunts dissipation and infiltration hypothesis is the last one left standing
against the geologic evidence in the region. Pederson knows the problems
with Hunts theory: How could the head of a single drainage along a desert
escarpment have the necessary stream power or mass-movement activity to erode
headward and shift its divide hundreds of kilometers, when none of its neighbors
could lengthen measurably at all? He tried to dress it up by suggesting
that karst topography in the plateau (underground rivers and springs) made it easier
for the precocious gully to work its way uphill, but his conclusion did not make it
sound like he felt confident about it.
Much of Pedersons predicament seems to come from two factors:
(1) dates for formations based on the standard geological column, and (2) processes
assumed to be slow and gradual. He did not reference Karlstroms paper in
the November issue that came to a surprising conclusion (11/30/2007):
the Grand Canyon is much younger than previously thought. He also completely
ignored the work of creationist geologists who have proposed catastrophic formation
models for the canyon.
Update 03/07/2008: No sooner had this article gone to press when
Science published a paper claiming the Grand Canyon is old again.2
Radiometric dates of cave formations in the Redwall limestone led a team to propose a new
date of 16-20 million years, rather than 5-6 million as lately believed. They also
held to the precocious gully theory, a fully integrated Colorado River that accelerated
the headward erosion of the eastern Grand Canyon. They admitted, though, that
our interpretation assumes no structural or hydrologic complexities just
a framework for dating the canyon.
Tim Atkinson and Mike Leeder, in the same issue of Science,3
triumphantly announced that since Huttons first conception of the immensity of
geologic time in 1788, we now understand Earths sedimentary history in remarkable detail.
They claim this new paper demonstrates the older age firmly for the first time.
It required, however, juggling incision rates with plateau erosion rates and tectonic uplift rates.
The authors noted a number of inconsistencies in their data. They appealed to ad-hoc
processes to explain them and hoped for answers in the future: e.g., Structure, hydrology,
or headward erosion history ... might resolve these differences when additional data are available.
Their method only offered potential for a reconstruction of the canyons history
with all its complexities.
It seems presumptuous, therefore, for Atkinson and Leeder to say older age has
been firmly demonstrated.
Whether incision rates can be extrapolated backward in time depends on ones assumptions
At Mt. St. Helens, for instance, a remnant stream flows through
the bottom of a canyon system resembling Grand Canyon on a 1/40 scale. A casual
observer in 2008 might think the stream carved the canyon. We know in this case, however, that the stream
neither cut the canyon nor deposited the sediments. Observers in 1980-81 watched
the layers deposited catastrophically during three explosive episodes. Later, the entire
canyon system was carved in one day through the layers when a mudflow spilled out of the crater.
1. Joel L. Pederson, The mystery of the pre-Grand Canyon Colorado RiverResults
from the Muddy Creek Formation,
Vol 18, Issue 3 (March 2008), pp. 4-10.
2. Polyak, Hill and Asmerom, Age and Evolution of the Grand Canyon Revealed by U-Pb Dating of Water Table-Type Speleothems,
7 March 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5868, pp. 1377-1380, DOI: 10.1126/science.1151248.
3. Tim Atkinson and Mike Leeder, Canyon Cutting on a Grand Time Scale,
Science, 7 March 2008:
Vol. 319. no. 5868, pp. 1343-1344, DOI: 10.1126/science.1155286.
The lesson of J Harlen Bretz has not been learned
by the secular anti-creationist, uniformitarian geological community represented by
the GSA. Bretz was ridiculed and ignored for nearly 50 years when he proposed
a catastrophic origin for the Channeled Scablands of east Washington (see quote,
top right of this page). Fortunately for him, he was eventually vindicated.
Much ado about nothing, from 03/12/2004.
The secular geologists are trapped in their old-age, uniformitarian box and cannot
think outside it. What if that is where the solutions are? Creationist
geologists and scientists like Walt Brown and Steve Austin have done extensive
work, both hands-on field work and mathematical modeling, showing how the Grand Canyon
can be explained by a catastrophic dam-breach event from impounded lakes northeast
of the canyon that remained after the Flood. These models explain why the
river cut through the Colorado Plateau but left no delta in Nevada (most of the
erosional load went all the way to California and the ocean). They explain
many details of the canyons structure, such as the vast sheet erosion of
sediments above the canyon with its remnants at Cedar Mountain and Red Butte
(for an excellent short article on this topic,
see Bill Hoeschs March entry in ICRs s Acts
and Facts newsletter). Brown first suggested the dam breach theory and has
traveled throughout Arizona and Utah, finding
firsthand evidence for a vast upstream lake system that could have cut the entire canyon
(just like the Scablands flood), in a matter of days. Austin found a 1/40th scale
model canyon system that formed at Mt. St. Helens when a mudflow breached a dam.
There is both a large-scale, real-time exemplar for the catastrophist model and a good
deal of on-site fieldwork throughout the Colorado Plateau to support it.
(Incidentally, Austin, PhD in geology from Penn State,
discusses the precocious gully theory and the other
gradualist theories in his richly-informed book, Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe.)
The secular geologists completely ignore all this. Its not that Pederson and the GSA crowd are smarter or more
knowledgeable about geology and science in general than the creationists.
They are a clique. When the science of geology was young, the majority of influential
persons, who were theologically liberal and philosophically progressivist in outlook, made a decision: they would not
consider the Bible as a historical source. They would go the route of Comte du Buffon
and James Hutton and would trust their own opinions within a paradigm of vast ages of time.
This decision was cemented in the 1830s. Prior to any examination
of evidence, and in spite of evidence for youth and catastrophism, this was
the paradigm into which all evidence would be molded.
The trend was strongly denounced by a vocal minority of scriptural geologists
some of whom were highly learned and knowledgeable (documented in Terry Mortensons
book, The Great Turning Point), but the progressivists won the day.
Their views fed perfectly into Charles Darwins gradualist, progressivist views.
The secular geological crowd has clung to their paradigm with a vengeance
ever since. And we mean vengeance. J Harlen Bretz got a taste of it, but
he didnt propose a young earth or suggest that the Bible might contain some
trustworthy historical records that could inform geology. Try that point of view
and you will not believe the denunciations and ostracism you will get even
though the father of geology, Nicolas Steno, was a creationist.
So we are left with a steep divide in geology a grand canyon between
two paradigms. The majority secularists, possessing most of the prestige and money,
are scratching their heads over the most prominent geological feature on earth with only
a best-of-the-worst explanation for it (see
instance). On the other hand,
the creationist geologists feel very confident they have a reasonable catastrophic model
for the Grand Canyon that fits the evidence from all angles. The secular crowd
completely ignores them. If Pederson had referenced Steve Austins Grand
Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe or Walt Browns In the Beginning, or
even mentioned these with intent to refute them, it
would have been a one-way ticket to GSA Purgatory. Before the evidence and arguments
would have even been considered on their merits, Pederson would have been condemned, ostracized,
marginalized and disfellowshiped for life for even bringing heretics into the discussion.
One could imagine the same reaction occurring even if Pederson had independently
proposed a Bretz-like dam-breach theory, without any theological baggage at all.
This would certainly be possible. The dam-breach theory stands entirely on well-known
physical processes. It contains no necessary links to the Biblical Flood (other than
that the Flood is the most reasonable explanation for the vast inland lakes and for the
strata themselves). No matter. Sounding too much like a creationist is
reason enough for condemnation. The creation geologists, by contrast,
freely examine and reference the GSA literature in addition to their own field work
and have no hesitation going to GSA meetings (when they can) and discussing their views.
If you think modern geology is done by an unbiased, neutral, open-minded
community that will cheerfully follow the evidence wherever it leads, get over it. If you
think geological theories distil the best thinking from all quarters, get a life.
(Check out this list of examples of suppression
of new ideas and innovation by scientists and self-proclaimed experts.)
Many individual geologists are honest
people doing the best work they can within their paradigm. By honest, we
mean that they are not intentionally lying, but they are so brainwashed to think only
in terms of the Standard Geological Column and all of its reified evolution-based dating schemes that
alternative points of view never enter their thinking. With few exceptions, they have been
trained like Pavlovs dogs to bark religious fundamentalist alert! when a
creationist appears on the scene. Some GSA types are brave enough to be mavericks, within limits;
but this is like moving away from the crowd inside a corner of the box never thinking outside of it.
How about an outside-the-box look at the evidence with your own eyes?
Creation Safaris leads 3-day rafting trips down the Grand
Canyon in conjunction with Canyon Ministries.
On these fun and educational adventures, you can witness huge features that make perfect sense
in terms of a global flood and catastrophic formation of the canyon features that present major
problems for slow, gradualistic theories. This years trip is sold out,
unfortunately, but you can send a message to the Feedback
line to tell us you are interested in a future opportunity.
Next headline on:
Darwin for the Birds 03/04/2008
March 4, 2008 Heres a flock of bird stories that have Charles Darwin on stage or in the wings,
so to speak.
Another quick bird factoid comes from PNAS: a Hungarian team found that falcons
and humans (using paragliders) employ the same soaring strategies.2
We find that there are relevant common features in the ways birds and humans use thermals,
they said. In particular, falcons seem to reproduce the MacCready formula widely
used by gliders to calculate the best slope to take before an upcoming thermal.
- Was Darwin wrong? Yes! Contra National Geographic
(10/24/2004), the science news outlets are all
saying today that Darwin was wrong but only about the origin of chickens
(see EurekAlert #1,
EurekAlert #2 and
The point of contention is so trivial, creationists lured by the headline might be chagrined
to find the science media making such
a big flap about a misdemeanor by the father of evolutionary theory, but not making a
peep about what they perceive as his much bigger flights of fancy.
- Why pigeons sleep: Pigeons take power naps, reported
In fact, their sleep patterns seem similar to those of humans. This can only mean
one thing: the independent evolution of similar sleep states in birds and mammals
might be related to the fact that each group also independently evolved large brains
capable of performing complex cognitive processes. Darwin was not mentioned
but we all know he was a pigeon fancier. He most likely took power naps himself, presumably
not when writing books.
- Dino-age cormorants: National
Geographic News reported a discovery of large amounts of seabird fossils in Cretaceous
strata on an island off New Zealand. The spectacular deposit also
included bones that are too large to belong to birds, including what could be the
big toe from a two-legged carnivorous dinosaur known as a theropod.
The identification of the big one as a dinosaur, however, is tentative. The
bird fossils seem to resemble modern seabirds known as cormorants (see
- Darwins finches redux: Peter and Rosemary Grant, the Darwin-finch
experts, have distilled their 30+ years of research into a new book, How and Why
Species Multiply (Princeton, 2008). From the title, the book generalizes far beyond a few species
on the Galapagos Islands. Hanna Kokko reviewed the book in Science.1
Kokko did not add much new beyond the obligatory retelling of the Galapagos voyage and
the inspiration it gave the young naturalist. She hurriedly listed a few of the
conclusions from the Grants painstaking research: stories of hybridization,
founder populations, genetic bottlenecks, heterozygous genes, competition for resources,
and the effects of drought on beak size. None of this led to definitive
conclusions. Rather, That context is where we start to understand what all the details mean.
She ended quoting the Grants takeoff on Dobzhansky:
Nothing in evolutionary biology makes sense except in the light of ecology.
1. Hanna Kokko, Evolution: Happening Now, Outdoors,
29 February 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1187-1188, DOI: 10.1126/science.1154815.
2. Akos, Nagy and Vicsek, Comparing bird and human soaring strategies,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
published online on March 3, 2008, 10.1073/pnas.0707711105.
Look carefully in each of these stories for clear,
unambiguous evidence for Darwins primary contention that all living things from bacteria to birds and humans
emerged from a single primordial cell through an unguided process of natural selection
acting on random mutations. Youll see a lot of fluttering and clucking,
but nothing of substance. What has Darwin laid but a DODO egg? (i.e., a biology that
chirps Darwin only, Darwin only.)
The Root Route 03/04/2008
Flight engineering technology in birds, imitated
by humans, leads to the conclusion birds were designed. Was Darwin wrong?
Dont be a chicken; answer the question with logic and evidence.
Next headline on:
Darwin and Evolutionary Theory
March 4, 2008 Why dont roots push a plant right out of the ground? Its a
question only a scientist or an 8-year-old kid would ask. The answer is more
amazing than either would have realized. Root hairs feel their way around
obstacles and find the openings, in the dark, by means of a complex interplay of
proteins and signaling molecules. The story is told in
Production of a protein called RHD2 at the tips of root hairs is
controlled by a self-reinforcing cycle. Obstacles break the cycle and allow
growth in another direction. This remarkable system gives plants the
flexibility to explore a complex environment and to colonise even the most
unpromising soils, said Professor Liam Dolan at the John Innes Centre in Norwich.
It also explains how seedlings are able to grow so quickly once they have established.
From the humblest weed to the most magnificent tree,
plants are improbable wonders. Their roots can conquer soils hard as rock and their
stems can crack granite. Roots pump nutrients and water from deep underground
to the top needles of a redwood nearly 350 feet in the sky. How can such things
be? We are only beginning to understand.
Wallace for Darwin Running Mate 03/03/2008
To view a plant at the macroscopic level is to
miss most of its wondrous operations. Adolescent students do science projects
with bean seeds. They watch the roots go down and the stems go up.
It seems perfectly natural. Why should it look natural? Rocks and
pebbles and other lifeless things dont typically push against gravity or grow
downward through a junkyard of obstacles. Life goes against the natural grain of
the laws of physics (e.g., gravity) only by capturing energy and harnessing it with
programmed controls that build and operate molecular machines and perfectly-adapted
Students observe root hairs through their cheap microscopes.
They seem like nothing particularly special or interesting. Adding the temporal
dimension with time-lapse cameras creates a little more interest. But without modern biologys
improved techniques for observing things at the microscopic and nanoscopic levels,
who would have imagined what really goes on in those tiny root hairs?
There is more designed complexity in the weed growing through a sidewalk crack
than in the textbook that catalogs it. Try not to feel guilty when pulling,
poisoning or hacking the weeds in your garden today.
Next headline on:
March 3, 2008 Shouldnt Darwin Day be named Darwin-Wallace Day? After all, Alfred Russell
Wallace is by most accounts the co-discoverer of natural selection. Papers by
Wallace and Darwin were read together at the Linnean Society meeting of 1858, over a year
before Origin of Species was published. Some groups are seeking to
give Wallace his due in the limelight or, in the language of presidential
politics, at least let him be Darwins running mate.
In a letter to Nature,1
George W. Beccaloni and Vincent S. Smith complained that celebrations for Darwin Day are
downplaying Wallaces role. This was not to disparage the great Darwin,
for they agreed with Kevin Padian (02/11/2008)
that next years 200th birthday
should be celebrated enthusiastically. But 2009 is also the 150th
anniversary of the discovery of natural selection.
There has been a long-standing attempt to marginalize
the great Wallace, they argued. It almost seems intentional:
This lack of interest in the 2008 anniversary is indicative of how Wallaces
achievements have been overshadowed by Darwins since Wallaces death
in 1913, a process certainly not helped by the Darwin industry of
recent decades. During his lifetime, Wallace received plenty of recognition
from his contemporaries for his part in the discovery, as indicated by the many
honours bestowed on him. These include the Darwin-Wallace and Linnean Gold
Medals (Linnean Society); the Copley, Darwin and Royal Medals (Royal Society);
and the Order of Merit. Isnt it perhaps time for the current
darwinocentric view of the history of biology to be revised?
A website has been erected called The
Alfred Russell Wallace Memorial Fund. The sponsors seek to correct
the darwinocentric view of the history of biology and give Wallace more recognition.
1. George W. Beccaloni and Vincent S. Smith, Correspondence,
Celebrations for Darwin downplay Wallace's role,
451, 1050 (28 February 2008) | doi:10.1038/4511050d.
Yes, it is time for the darwinocentric view of the
history of biology to be revised. But adding one more misguided racist apostate
storyteller is a process certainly not helped by the Darwin-Wallace industry of recent decades.
Ready-mix patch kit is ready to repair your cells, from 03/19/2003.
Reasons why Wallace doesnt get the press Darwin gets: (1) he
was from a lower social class, (2) he delved into spiritualism and held some other
weird beliefs, and (3) he did not
believe that natural selection could explain mans soul, rationality and morals.
For this Darwin could only barely tolerate him. Since Wallace did not go all the way to
complete naturalism, he could not share the glory of the Grand Tale that allowed
Dawkins to become an intellectually fool-filled atheist.
Darwin was devastated when Wallace had sent him that 1858 letter outlining the
same theory of natural selection that he had been working on for years.
Didnt Darwin do the right thing, though, to share the stage at the
Linnean Society with Wallace by having both their papers read together?
Janet Browne in her excellent biography Charles Darwin: The Power
of Place (Princeton, 2002) told how it was a scheme to protect Darwin from criticism
while guaranteeing him the limelight.
Darwins X-Men friends gave Wallace just enough press to keep him from
complaining about priority, but afterwards did little to share the honor with
him, and worked to ensconce Charlie as the real hero of the Law of
Natural Selection. It was audacious skulduggery as Browne termed the
plan Charlie & Charlie (Darwin and Lyell) cooked up. No pair of
practised fixers could, if they wished, have cooked up a better scheme for
promoting Darwins interests (p. 35). Read all about it in
The Wallace Fund site contains a quote from old man Wallace in 1913:
Truth is born into this world only with pangs and tribulations, and every
fresh truth is received unwillingly. To expect the world to receive a new
truth, or even an old truth, without challenging it, is to look for one of those
miracles which do not occur. Great. Lets challenge
Wallace and Darwin both. Question number one: How does Truth evolve?
Next headline on:
Polls Produce Politically-Incorrect Results 03/02/2008
March 2, 2008 Polls are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get.
In a survey conducted by the Channel One
Network, a broadcast service for public schools, students were asked if they thought schools should
teach only intelligent design, teach only evolution, or teach both. A majority (52%) responded for teaching both ID and evolution;
another 31% voted for teaching ID only. Only 17% thought evolution alone should be taught, yet
that is the position of all the major science institutions and science teacher
organizations. ChannelOne.com has apparently taken the results page offline,
but Answers in Genesis
commented on it. Though not conducted scientifically, the poll is in keeping
with other national surveys on the subject.
In another poll sure to provide grist for the talk radio mill,
only 38% of Democrats described their mental health as excellent, compared to 58% of
Net Daily talked about this Gallup poll to Dr. Lyle H. Rossiter, a psychiatrist
who thinks liberalism is a mental illness. The author of a
book The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness was
not surprised by the results: Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against
the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government
meet their needs from cradle to grave, he said.
The overwhelming majority of pro-evolution college professors describe
themselves as liberals or Democrats (08/05/2004,
A reader noticed that the Channel One poll designers
put Evolution only as the default answer.
Cool Bat Tricks 03/01/2008
Polls are thermometers, not yardsticks. Any
conclusions from these polls should be balanced by readings from other instruments
before making a diagnosis. But if pro-evolution liberals are suffering
depression from the Channel One poll on top of their mental illness from the Gallup
poll, the most effective treatment for all concerned might be quarantine.
Next headline on:
Politics and Ethics
March 1, 2008 Bats put on a dazzling air show.
revealed that the acrobatic mammals have magnetic instruments. Somehow, they
are able to use the magnetite in their cells as navigational aids. Scientists
from Leeds University and Princeton conducted experiments on
large brown bats. They were able to steer the bats off course by issuing
magnetic pulses. They surmised that the magnetite gives the animals not
only animal magnetism but an internal compass to help them navigate.
Interestingly, humans possess magnetite but still manage to get lost.
Meanwhile, in Sweden, scientists put bats in a wind tunnel to figure
out how they hover. Live
Science reported that bats employ the same, swirling bubbles of
air called vortexes that many insects use to stay afloat in mid-air.
This allows the heavier-than-air animals to nearly float as they negotiate in hard-to-get
places, such as when sipping nectar from a flower. The vortices seem
glued to the underside of the wing, adapting the wing shape in complex ways.
Even so, bats flap their wings nearly 15 times per second in these situations.
Neither article mentioned evolution. Design science can take credit for
these science projects typical of most real research about observable
things. The author of the second paper is working on developing a bat model
he can incorporate into robots. Designers like to imitate sleek design,
not fat chance.
Next headline on:
Scientist of the Month
Click on Apollos, the trusty|
|Guide to Evolution
This website redefines debunking. Thanks for wading through the obfuscation
that passes for evolution science to expose the sartorial deficiencies of
Emperor Charles and his minions. Simply the best site of its kind, an
amazing resource. Keep up the great work!
(an engineer in Michigan)
I have been a fan of your daily news items for about two years, when a friend pointed
me to it. I now visit every day (or almost every day)... A quick kudo: You are
amazing, incredible, thorough, indispensable, and I could list another ten
superlatives. Again, I just dont know how you manage to comb so widely, in so many
technical journals, to come up with all this great news from science info.
(a PhD professor of scientific rhetoric in Florida and author of two books, who added that he was
awe-struck by this site)
I was researching something and found your website; it came up first on my browser.
Its confusing. Im not sure what the point of your website might be.
Its a little like listening to two groups of old women debate: one group thinks a
crocheted blanket is a better made blanket, and the other group thinks a quilted blanket
is a better made blanket. I think they are just arguing over nothing, dont you?
(a retired teacher in Arizona)
Comment: When writing to our Feedback column, if you have a point, make it.
Resorting to ad hominem attacks based on silly
analogies only reflects badly on your intelligence. We take
valid criticisms seriously and correct errors of fact and typos quickly. This reader
was given a chance to restate his point but just got mad and reiterated the same silliness
with greater intensity. Such behavior is unlikely to be effective among our
predominantly well-educated and perspicacious readers (see next Feedback, above).
Like your site especially the style of your comments.... Keep up the good work.
(a retired engineer and amateur astronomer in Maryland)
I really enjoy your website, the first I visit every day. I have a quote by Mark Twain which seems to me to describe the Darwinian philosophy of science perfectly.
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
Working as I do in the Environmental field (I am a geologist doing groundwater contamination project management for a state agency) I see that kind of science a lot.
Keep up the good work!!
(a hydrogeologist in Alabama)
I visit your website regularly and I commend you on your work. I applaud your effort to pull actual science from the mass of propaganda for Evolution you report on (at least on those rare occasions when there actually is any science in the propaganda). I also must say that I'm amazed at your capacity to continually plow through the propaganda day after day and provide cutting and amusing commentary.... I can only hope that youthful surfers will stop by your website for a fair and interesting critique of the dogma they have to imbibe in school.
(a technical writer living in Jerusalem)
I have enjoyed your site for several years now. Thanks for all the hard work you obviously put into this. I appreciate your insights, especially the biological oriented ones in which I'm far behind the nomenclature curve. It would be impossible for me to understand what's going on without some interpretation. Thanks again.
(a manufacturing engineer in Vermont)
Love your site and your enormous amount of intellectualism and candor
regarding the evolution debate. Yours is one site I look forward to on
a daily basis. Thank you for being a voice for the rest of us.
(a graphic designer in Wisconsin)
For sound, thoughtful commentary on creation-evolution hot topics go to
(Access Research Network
Your website is simply the best (and Id dare say one of the most important) web sites on the entire WWW.
(an IT specialist at an Alabama university)
Ive been reading the articles on this website for over a year, and
Im guilty of not showing any appreciation. You provide a great service.
Its one of the most informative and up-to-date resources on creation available
anywhere. Thank you so much. Please keep up the great work.
(a senior research scientist in Georgia)
Just a note to thank you for your site. I am a regular visitor and I use your site
to rebut evolutionary "just so" stories often seen in our local media.
I know what you do is a lot of work but you make a difference and are appreciated.
(a veterinarian in Minnesota)
This is one of the best sites I have ever visited. Thanks.
I have passed it on to several others... I am a retired grandmother.
I have been studying the creation/evolution question for about 50 yrs....
Thanks for the info and enjoyable site.
(a retiree in Florida)
It is refreshing to know that there are valuable resources such as Creation-Evolution
Headlines that can keep us updated on the latest scientific news that affect our view of
the world, and more importantly to help us decipher through the rhetoric so carelessly
disseminated by evolutionary scientists. I find it Intellectually Satisfying
to know that I dont have to park my brain at the door to be a believer
or at the very least, to not believe in Macroevolution.
(a loan specialist in California)
I have greatly benefitted from your efforts. I very much look forward
to your latest posts.
(an attorney in California)
I must say your website provides an invaluable arsenal in this war for souls
that is being fought. Your commentaries move me to laughter or sadness.
I have been viewing your information for about 6 months and find it one of the best
on the web. It is certainly effective against the nonsense published on
Talkorigins.org. It great to see work that glorifies God and His creation.
(a commercial manager in Australia)
Visiting daily your site and really do love it.
(a retiree from Finland who studied math and computer science)
I am agnostic but I can never deny that organic life (except human) is doing a wonderful
job at functioning at optimum capacity. Thank you for this ... site!
(an evolutionary theorist from Australia)
During the year I have looked at your site, I have gone through your archives and
found them to be very helpful and informative. I am so impressed that I forward link
to members of my congregation who I believe are interested in a higher level discussion
of creationist issues than they will find at [a leading origins website].
(a minister in Virginia)
I attended a public school in KS where evolution was taught. I have
rejected evolution but have not always known the answers to some of the
questions.... A friend told me about your site
and I like it, I have it on my favorites, and I check it every day.
(an auto technician in Missouri)
Thanks for a great site! It has brilliant insights into the world of
science and of the evolutionary dogma. One of the best sites I know of on
(a programmer in Iceland)
The site you run creation-evolution headlines is
extremely useful to me. I get so tired of what passes
for science Darwinism in particular and I find your
site a refreshing antidote to the usual junk.... it is clear that your thinking and logic
and willingness to look at the evidence for what the
evidence says is much greater than what I read in what
are now called science journals.
Please keep up the good work. I appreciate what you
are doing more than I can communicate in this e-mail.
(a teacher in California)
Although we are often in disagreement, I have the greatest respect and admiration for your writing.
(an octogenarian agnostic in Palm Springs)
your website is absolutely superb and unique. No other site out
there provides an informed & insightful running critique of the current
goings-on in the scientific establishment. Thanks for keeping us informed.
(a mechanical designer in Indiana)
I have been a fan of your site for some time now. I enjoy reading the No Spin of what
is being discussed.... keep up the good work, the world needs to be shown just how little the scientist
[sic] do know in regards to origins.
(a network engineer in South Carolina)
I am a young man and it is encouraging to find a scientific journal on the side of creationism and intelligent design....
Thank you for your very encouraging website.
(a web designer and author in Maryland)
GREAT site. Your ability to expose the clothesless emperor in clear language is indispensable to
us non-science types who have a hard time seeing through the jargon and the hype. Your tireless efforts
result in encouragement and are a great service to the faith community. Please keep it up!
(a medical writer in Connecticut)
I really love your site and check it everyday. I also recommend it to everyone I can, because there is
no better website for current information about ID.
(a product designer in Utah)
Your site is a fantastic resource. By far, it is the most current, relevant and most frequently
updated site keeping track of science news from a creationist perspective. One by one, articles
challenging currently-held aspects of evolution do not amount to much. But when browsing the archives,
its apparent youve caught bucketfulls of science articles and news items that devastate
evolution. The links and references are wonderful tools for storming the gates of evolutionary paradise
and ripping down their strongholds. The commentary is the icing on the cake. Thanks for all your
hard work, and by all means, keep it up!
(a business student in Kentucky)
Thanks for your awesome work; it stimulates my mind and encourages my faith.
(a family physician in Texas)
I wanted to personally thank you for your outstanding website. I am intensely interested in any
science news having to do with creation, especially regarding astronomy. Thanks again for your GREAT
(an amateur astronomer in San Diego)
What an absolutely brilliant website you have. Its hard to express how uplifting it is for me
to stumble across something of such high quality.
(a pharmacologist in Michigan)
I want to make a brief commendation in passing of the outstanding job you did in rebutting the
thinking on the article: Evolution of Electrical Engineering
... What a rebuttal to end all rebuttals, unanswerable,
inspiring, and so noteworthy that was. Thanks for the effort and research you put into it.
I wish this answer could be posted in every church, synagogue, secondary school, and college/university...,
and needless to say scientific laboratories.
(a reader in Florida)
You provide a great service with your thorough coverage of news stories relating to the creation-evolution controversy.
(an elder of a Christian church in Salt Lake City)
I really enjoy your website and have made it my home page so I can check on your latest articles.
I am amazed at the diversity of topics you address. I tell everyone I can about your site and encourage them to
check it frequently.
(a business owner in Salt Lake City)
Ive been a regular reader of CEH for about nine month now, and I look forward to each new posting.... I enjoy the information CEH gleans from current events in science and hope you keep the service going.
(a mechanical engineer in Utah)
It took six years of constant study of evolution to overcome the indoctrination found in public schools of my youth. I now rely on your site; it helps me to see the work of God where I could not see it before and to find miracles where there was only mystery. Your site is a daily devotional that I go to once a day and recommend to everyone. I am still susceptible to the wiles of fake science and I need the fellowship of your site; such information is rarely found in a church.
Now my eyes see the stars God made and the life He designed and I feel the rumblings of joy as promised. When I feel down or worried my solution is to praise God the Creator Of All That Is, and my concerns drain away while peace and joy fill the void. This is something I could not do when I did not know (know: a clear and accurate perception of truth) God as Creator. I could go on and on about the difference knowing our Creator has made, but I believe you understand.
I tell everyone that gives me an opening about your site. God is working through you. Please dont stop telling us how to see the lies or leading us in celebrating the truth. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
(a renowned artist in Wyoming)
I discovered your site a few months ago and it has become essential reading via RSS to
(a cartographer and GIS analyst in New Zealand)
I love your site, and frequently visit to read both explanations of news reports,
and your humor about Bonny Saint Charlie.
(a nuclear safety engineer in Washington)
Your site is wonderful.
(a senior staff scientist, retired, from Arizona)
Ive told many people about your site. Its a tremendous service to
science news junkies not to mention students of both Christianity and
(a meteorology research scientist in Alabama)
...let me thank you for your Creation-Evolution Headlines. Ive been an avid reader of it since I first discovered your website about five years ago. May I also express my admiration for the speed with which your articles appearoften within 24 hours of a particular news announcement or journal article being published.
(a plant physiologist and prominent creation writer in Australia)
How do you guys do it--reviewing so much relevant material every day and writing incisive,
(a retired high school biology teacher in New Jersey)
Your site is one of the best out there! I really love reading your articles on creation evolution
headlines and visit this section almost daily.
(a webmaster in the Netherlands)
Keep it up! Ive been hitting your site daily (or more...).
I sure hope you get a mountain of encouraging email, you deserve it.
(a small business owner in Oregon)
Great work! May your tribe increase!!!
(a former Marxist, now ID speaker in Brazil)
You are the best. Thank you....
The work you do is very important.
Please dont ever give up. God bless the whole team.
(an engineer and computer consultant in Virginia)
I really appreciate your work in this topic, so you should never stop doing what you do,
cause you have a lot of readers out there, even in small countries in Europe, like Slovenia
is... I use crev.info for all my signatures on Internet forums etc., it really is fantastic site,
the best site! You see, we(your pleased readers) exist all over the world, so you must be
doing great work! Well i hope you have understand my bad english.
(a biology student in Slovenia)
Thanks for your time, effort, expertise, and humor. As a public school biology teacher I
peruse your site constantly for new information that will challenge evolutionary belief and share much
of what I learn with my students. Your site is pounding a huge dent in evolutions supposed
solid exterior. Keep it up.
(a biology teacher in the eastern USA)
Several years ago, I became aware of your Creation-Evolution Headlines web site.
For several years now, it has been one of my favorite internet sites. I many times check your
website first, before going on to check the secular news and other creation web sites.
I continue to be impressed with your writing and research skills, your humor,
and your technical and scientific knowledge and understanding. Your ability to cut through
the inconsequentials and zero in on the principle issues is one of the characteristics that
is a valuable asset....
I commend you for the completeness and thoroughness with which you provide
coverage of the issues. You obviously spend a great deal of time on this work.
It is apparent in ever so many ways.
Also, your background topics of logic and propaganda techniques have been useful
as classroom aides, helping others to learn to use their baloney detectors.
Through the years, I have directed many to your site. For their sake and mine,
I hope you will be able to continue providing this very important, very much needed, educational,
humorous, thought provoking work.
(an engineer in Missouri)
I am so glad I found your site. I love reading short blurbs about recent discoveries, etc,
and your commentary often highlights that the discovery can be interpreted in two differing ways,
and usually with the pro-God/Design viewpoint making more sense. Its such a refreshing difference
from the usual media spin. Often youll have a story up along with comment before the masses
even know about the story yet.
(a system administrator in Texas, who calls CEH the UnSpin Zone)
You are indeed the Rush Limbaugh Truth Detector of science falsely so-called.
Keep up the excellent work.
(a safety director in Michigan)
I know of no better way to stay
informed with current scientific research than to read your site everyday, which in turn has helped me understand
many of the concepts not in my area (particle physics) and which I hear about in school or in the media.
Also, I just love the commentaries and the baloney detecting!!
(a grad student in particle physics)
I thank you for your ministry. May God bless you! You are doing great job effectively
exposing pagan lie of evolution. Among all known to me creation ministries [well-known organizations listed]
Creationsafaris stands unique thanks to qualitative survey and analysis of scientific publications and news.
I became permanent reader ever since discovered your site half a year ago. Moreover your ministry is
effective tool for intensive and deep education for cristians.
(a webmaster in Ukraine, seeking permission to translate CEH articles into Russian to reach
countries across the former Soviet Union)
The scholarship of the editors is unquestionable. The objectivity of the editors is
admirable in face of all the unfounded claims of evolutionists and Darwinists. The amount
of new data available each day on the site is phenomenal (I cant wait to see the next new
article each time I log on). Most importantly, the TRUTH is always and forever the primary
goal of the people who run this website. Thank you so very much for 6 years of consistent
dedication to the TRUTH.
(11 months earlier): I just completed reading each entry from each month. I found your site about
6 months ago and as soon as I understood the format, I just started at the very first entry
and started reading.... Your work has blessed my education and determination to bold in
showing the unscientific nature of evolution in general and Darwinism in particular.
(a medical doctor in Oklahoma)
Thanks for the showing courage in marching against a popular unproven unscientific belief system.
I dont think I missed 1 article in the past couple of years.
(a manufacturing engineer in Australia)
I do not know and cannot imagine how much time you must spend to read, research and
compile your analysis of current findings in almost every area of science. But I do know
I thank you for it.
(a practice administrator in Maryland)
Since finding your insightful comments some 18 or more months ago, Ive
visited your site daily.... You
so very adeptly and adroitly undress the emperor daily; so much so one
wonders if he might not soon catch cold and fall ill off his throne! ....
To you I wish much continued success and many more years of fun and
frolicking undoing the damage taxpayers are forced to fund through
unending story spinning by ideologically biased scientists.
(an investment advisor in Missouri)
I really like your articles. You do a fabulous job of cutting through
the double-talk and exposing the real issues. Thank you for your hard
work and diligence.
(an engineer in Texas)
I love your site. Found it about maybe
two years ago and I read it every day. I love the closing comments in
green. You have a real knack for exposing the toothless claims of the
evolutionists. Your comments are very helpful for many us who dont know
enough to respond to their claims. Thanks for your good work and keep it
(a missionary in Japan)
I just thought Id write and
tell you how much I appreciate your headline list and commentary. Its
inspired a lot of thought and consideration. I check your listings every day!
(a computer programmer in Tulsa)
Just wanted to thank you for your creation/evolution news ... an outstanding educational
(director of a consulting company in Australia)
Your insights ... been some of the most helpful not surprising considering the caliber of
your most-excellent website! Im serious, ..., your website has to be the
best creation website out there....
(a biologist and science writer in southern California)
I first learned of your web site on March 29.... Your site has far exceeded my expectations and is
consulted daily for the latest. I join with other readers in praising your time and energy spent to educate,
illuminate, expose errors.... The links are a great help in understanding the news items.
The archival structure is marvelous.... Your site brings back dignity to Science conducted as it
should be. Best regards for your continuing work and influence. Lives are being changed and
sustained every day.
(a manufacturing quality engineer in Mississippi)
I wrote you over three years ago letting you know how much I enjoyed your Creation-Evolution headlines,
as well as your Creation Safaris site. I stated then that I read your headlines and commentary every day,
and that is still true! My interest in many sites has come and gone over the years, but your site is
still at the top of my list! I am so thankful that you take the time to read and analyze some of the
scientific journals out there; which I dont have the time to read myself. Your commentary is very,
very much appreciated.
(a hike leader and nature-lover in Ontario, Canada)
...just wanted to say how much I admire your site and your writing.
Youre very insightful and have quite a broad range of knowledge.
Anyway, just wanted to say that I am a big fan!
(a PhD biochemist at a major university)
I love your site and syndicate your content on my church website....
The stories you highlight show the irrelevancy
of evolutionary theory and that evolutionists have perpetual foot and
mouth disease; doing a great job of discrediting themselves. Keep up
the good work.
(a database administrator and CEH junkie in California)
I cant tell you how much I enjoy your article reviews on your
websiteits a HUGE asset!
(a lawyer in Washington)
Really, really, really a fantastic site. Your wit makes a razor appear dull!...
A million thanks for your site.
(a small business owner in Oregon and father of children who love your site too.)
Thank God for ... Creation
Evolution Headlines. This site is right at the cutting edge in the debate
over bio-origins and is crucial in working to undermine the
deceived mindset of naturalism. The arguments presented are unassailable
(all articles having first been thoroughly baloney detected) and the
narrative always lands just on the right side of the laymans comprehension
limits... Very highly recommended to all, especially, of course, to those who
have never thought to question the fact of evolution.
(a business owner in Somerset, UK)
I continue to note the difference between the dismal derogations of the
darwinite devotees, opposed to the openness and humor of rigorous, follow-the-evidence
scientists on the Truth side. Keep up the great work.
(a math/science teacher with M.A. in anthropology)
Your material is clearly among the best I have ever read on evolution problems!
I hope a book is in the works!
(a biology prof in Ohio)
I have enjoyed reading the sardonic apologetics on the Creation/Evolution Headlines section
of your web site. Keep up the good work!
(an IT business owner in California)
Your commentaries ... are always delightful.
(president of a Canadian creation group)
Im pleased to see... your amazing work on the Headlines.
(secretary of a creation society in the UK)
We appreciate all you do at crev.info.
(a publisher of creation and ID materials)
I was grateful for creationsafaris.com for help with baloney detecting. I had read about
the fish-o-pod and wanted to see what you thought. Your comments were helpful and encouraged me
that my own baloney detecting skill are improving. I also enjoyed reading your reaction
to the article on evolution teachers doing battle with students.... I will ask my girls to read your
comments on the proper way to question their teachers.
(a home-schooling mom)
I just want to express how dissapointed [sic] I am in your website. Instead of being objective, the
website is entirely one sided, favoring creationism over evolution, as if the two are contradictory....
Did man and simien [sic] evovlve [sic] at random from a common ancestor? Or did God guide this evolution?
I dont know. But all things, including the laws of nature, originate from God....
To deny evolution is to deny Gods creation. To embrace evolution is to not only embrace his creation,
but to better appreciate it.
(a student in Saginaw, Michigan)
I immensely enjoy reading the Creation-Evolution Headlines. The way you use words
exposes the bankruptcy of the evolutionary worldview.
(a student at Northern Michigan U)
...standing O for crev.info.
(a database programmer in California)
Just wanted to say that I am thrilled to have found your website! Although I
regularly visit numerous creation/evolution sites, Ive found that many of them do
not stay current with relative information. I love the almost daily updates to
your headlines section. Ive since made it my browser home page, and have
recommended it to several of my friends. Absolutely great site!
(a network engineer in Florida)
After I heard about Creation-Evolution Headlines,
it soon became my favorite Evolution resource site on the web. I visit several times a
day cause I cant wait for the next update. Thats pathetic, I know ...
but not nearly as pathetic as Evolution, something you make completely obvious with your snappy,
intelligent commentary on scientific current events. It should be a textbook for science
classrooms around the country. You rock!
(an editor in Tennessee)
One of the highlights of my day is checking your latest CreationSafaris creation-evolution news listing!
Thanks so much for your great work -- and your wonderful humor.
(a pastor in Virginia)
Thanks!!! Your material is absolutely awesome. Ill be using it in our Adult Sunday School class.
(a pastor in Wisconsin)
Love your site & read it daily.
(a family physician in Texas)
I set it [crev.info] up as my homepage. That way I am less likely to miss some really interesting events....
I really appreciate what you are doing with Creation-Evolution Headlines. I
tell everybody I think might be interested, to check it out.
(a systems analyst in Tennessee)
I would like to thank you for your service from which I stand to benefit a lot.
(a Swiss astrophysicist)
I enjoy very much reading your materials.
(a law professor in Portugal)
Thanks for your time and thanks for all the work on the site.
It has been a valuable resource for me.
(a medical student in Kansas)
Creation-Evolution Headlines is a terrific resource. The articles are
always current and the commentary is right on the mark.
(a molecular biologist in Illinois)
Creation-Evolution Headlines is my favorite
anti-evolution website. With almost giddy anticipation, I check
it several times a week for the latest postings. May God bless you and
empower you to keep up this FANTASTIC work!
(a financial analyst in New York)
I read your pages on a daily basis and I would like to let you know
that your hard work has been a great help in increasing my knowledge
and growing in my faith. Besides the huge variety of scientific
disciplines covered, I also enormously enjoy your great sense of humor
and your creativity in wording your thoughts, which make reading your
website even more enjoyable.
(a software developer in Illinois)
THANK YOU for all the work you do to make this wonderful resource! After
being regular readers for a long time, this year weve incorporated your
site into our home education for our four teenagers. The Baloney Detector
is part of their Logic and Reasoning Skills course, and the Daily Headlines
and Scientists of the Month features are a big part of our curriculum for an
elective called Science Discovery Past and Present. What a wonderful
goldmine for equipping future leaders and researchers with the tools of
(a home school teacher in California)
What can I say I LOVE YOU!
I READ YOU ALMOST EVERY DAY I copy and send out to various folks.
I love your sense of humor, including your politics and of course your faith.
I appreciate and use your knowledge What can I say THANK YOU
THANK YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH.
(a biology major, former evolutionist, now father of college students)
I came across your site while browsing through creation & science links. I love the work you do!
(an attorney in Florida)
Love your commentary and up to date reporting. Best site for evolution/design info.
(a graphic designer in Oregon)
I am an ardent reader of your site. I applaud your efforts and pass on
your website to all I talk to. I have recently given your web site info
to all my grandchildren to have them present it to their science
teachers.... Your Supporter and fan..God bless you all...
(a health services manager in Florida)
Why your readership keeps doubling: I came across your website at a time when I was just getting to know what creation science is all about. A friend of mine was telling me about what he had been finding out. I was highly skeptical and sought to read as many pro/con articles as I could find and vowed to be open-minded toward his seemingly crazy claims. At first I had no idea of the magnitude of research and information thats been going on. Now, Im simply overwhelmed by the sophistication and availability of scientific research and information on what I now know to be the truth about creation.
Your website was one of dozens that I found in my search. Now, there are only a handful of sites I check every day. Yours is at the top of my list... I find your news page to be the most insightful and well-written of the creation news blogs out there. The quick wit, baloney detector, in-depth scientific knowledge you bring to the table and the superb writing style on your site has kept me interested in the day-to-day happenings of what is clearly a growing movement. Your site ... has given me a place to point them toward to find out more and realize that theyve been missing a huge volume of information when it comes to the creation-evolution issue.
Another thing I really like about this site is the links to articles in science journals and news references. That helps me get a better picture of what youre talking about.... Keep it up and I promise to send as many people as will listen to this website and others.
(an Air Force Academy graduate stationed in New Mexico)
Im a small town newspaper editor in southwest Wyoming. Were pretty
isolated, and finding your site was a great as finding a gold mine. I read
it daily, and if theres nothing new, I re-read everything. I follow links.
I read the Scientist of the Month. Its the best site Ive run across. Our
local school board is all Darwinist and determined to remain that way.
(a newspaper editor in Wyoming)
have been reading your page for about 2 years or so....
I read it every day. I ...am well educated, with a BA in Applied Physics
from Harvard and an MBA in Finance from Wharton.
(a reader in Delaware)
I came across your website by accident about 4 months ago and look at it every day....
About 8 months ago I was reading a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times that was written
by a staunch anti-Creationist and it sparked my interest enough to research the
topic and within a week I was yelling, my whole lifes education has been a lie!!!
Ive put more study into Biblical Creation in the last 8 months than any other topic in my life.
Past that, through resources like your website...Ive been able to convince my father (professional mathematician and amateur geologist), my best friend (mechanical engineer and fellow USAF Academy Grad/Creation Science nutcase), my pastor (he was the hardest to crack), and many others to realize the Truth of Creation.... Resources like your website help the rest of us at the grassroots level drum up interest in the subject. And regardless of what the major media says: Creationism is spreading like wildfire, so please keep your website going to help fan the flames.
(an Air Force Academy graduate and officer)
I love your site! I **really** enjoy reading it for several specific reasons: 1.It uses the latest (as in this month!) research as a launch pad for opinion; for years I have searched for this from a creation science viewpoint, and now, Ive found it. 2. You have balanced fun with this topic. This is hugely valuable! Smug Christianity is ugly, and I dont perceive that attitude in your comments. 3. I enjoy the expansive breadth of scientific news that you cover. 4. I am not a trained scientist but I know evolutionary bologna/(boloney) when I see it; you help me to see it. I really appreciate this.
(a computer technology salesman in Virginia)
I love your site. Thats why I was more than happy to
mention it in the local paper.... I mentioned your site as the place
where..... Every Darwin-cheering news article is
reviewed on that site from an ID perspective. Then
the huge holes of the evolution theory are exposed,
and the bad science is shredded to bits, using real
(a project manager in New Jersey)
Ive been reading your site almost daily for about three years. I have
never been more convinced of the truthfulness of Scripture and the faithfulness of God.
(a system administrator and homeschooling father in Colorado)
I use the internet a lot to catch up on news back
home and also to read up on the creation-evolution controversy, one of my favourite topics.
Your site is always my first port of call for the latest news and views and I really appreciate
the work you put into keeping it up to date and all the helpful links you provide. You are a
beacon of light for anyone who wants to hear frank, honest conclusions instead of the usual diluted
garbage we are spoon-fed by the media.... Keep up the good work and know that youre changing lives.
(a teacher in Spain)
I am grateful to you for your site and look forward to reading new
stories.... I particularly value it for being up to date with what is going on.
(from the Isle of Wight, UK)
[Creation-Evolution Headlines] is the place to go for late-breaking
news [on origins]; it has the most information and the quickest turnaround.
Its incredible I dont know how you do it.
I cant believe all the articles you find. God bless you!
(a radio producer in Riverside, CA)
Just thought I let you know how much I enjoy
reading your Headlines section. I really appreciate
how you are keeping your ear to the ground in so
many different areas. It seems that there is almost
no scientific discipline that has been unaffected
by Darwins Folly.
(a programmer in aerospace from Gardena, CA)
I enjoy reading the comments on news articles on your site very much. It is incredible
how much refuse is being published in several scientific fields regarding evolution.
It is good to notice that the efforts of true scientists have an increasing influence at schools,
but also in the media.... May God bless your efforts and open the eyes of the blinded evolutionists
and the general public that are being deceived by pseudo-scientists.... I enjoy the site very much
and I highly respect the work you and the team are doing to spread the truth.
(an ebusiness manager in the Netherlands)
I discovered your site through a link at certain website...
It has greatly helped me being updated with the latest development in science and with
critical comments from you. I also love your baloney detector
and in fact have translated some part of the baloney detector into our language (Indonesian).
I plan to translate them all for my friends so as to empower them.
(a staff member of a bilateral agency in West Timor, Indonesia)
...absolutely brilliant and inspiring.
(a documentary film producer, remarking on the
I found your site several months ago and within weeks
had gone through your entire archives.... I check in several times a day for further
information and am always excited to read the new
articles. Your insight into the difference between
what is actually known versus what is reported has
given me the confidence to stand up for what I
believe. I always felt there was more to the story,
and your articles have given me the tools to read
through the hype....
You are an invaluable help and I commend your efforts.
Keep up the great work.
(a sound technician in Alberta)
I discovered your site (through a link from a blog) a few weeks ago and I cant stop reading it....
I also enjoy your insightful and humorous commentary at the end of each story. If the evolutionists
blindness wasnt so sad, I would laugh harder.
I have a masters degree in mechanical engineering from a leading University. When I read the descriptions, see the pictures, and watch the movies of the inner workings of the cell, Im absolutely amazed.... Thanks for bringing these amazing stories daily. Keep up the good work.
(an engineer in Virginia)
I stumbled across your site several months ago and have
been reading it practically daily. I enjoy the inter-links
to previous material as well as the links to the quoted
research. Ive been in head-to-head debate with a
materialist for over a year now. Evolution is just one of
those debates. Your site is among others that have been a
real help in expanding my understanding.
(a software engineer in Pennsylvania)
I was in the April 28, 2005 issue of Nature [see 04/27/2005
story] regarding the rise of intelligent design in the universities. It was through your website
that I began my journey out of the crisis of faith which was mentioned in that article. It was an honor to see you all highlighting the article in Nature. Thank you for all you have done!
(Salvador Cordova, George Mason University)
I shudder to think of the many ways in which you mislead readers, encouraging them to build a faith based on misunderstanding and ignorance. Why dont you allow people to have a faith that is grounded in a fuller understanding of the world?...
Your website is a sham.
(a co-author of the paper reviewed in the 12/03/2003
entry who did not appreciate the unflattering commentary. This led to a cordial
interchange, but he could not divorce his reasoning from the science vs. faith dichotomy,
and resulted in an impasse over definitions but, at least, a more mutually respectful dialogue.
He never did explain how his paper supported Darwinian macroevolution. He just claimed
evolution is a fact.)
I absolutely love creation-evolution news. As a Finnish university student very
interested in science, I frequent your site to find out about all the new science
stuff thats been happening you have such a knack for finding all this
information! I have been able to stump evolutionists with knowledge gleaned from
your site many times.
(a student in Finland)
I love your site and read it almost every day. I use it for my science class and
5th grade Sunday School class. I also challenge Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to
get on the site to check out articles against the baloney they are taught in school.
(a teacher in Los Gatos, CA)
I have spent quite a few hours at Creation Evolution Headlines in the past week
or so going over every article in the archives. I thank you for such an informative
and enjoyable site. I will be visiting often and will share this link with others.
[Later] I am back to May 2004 in the archives. I figured I should be farther
back, but there is a ton of information to digest.
(a computer game designer in Colorado)
The IDEA Center also highly recommends visiting Creation-Evolution Headlines...
the most expansive and clearly written origins news website on the internet!
(endorsement on Intelligent Design and Evolution
Check out this site: www.creationsafaris.com.
This is a fantastic resource for the whole family.... a fantastic reference library with summaries,
commentaries and great links that are added to
dailyarchives go back five years.
(a reader who found us in Georgia)
I just wanted to drop you a note telling you that at www.BornAgainRadio.com,
Ive added a link to your excellent Creation-Evolution news site.
(a radio announcer)
I cannot understand
why anyone would invest so much time and effort to a website of sophistry and casuistry.
Why twist Christian apology into an illogic pretzel to placate your intellect?
Isnt it easier to admit that your faith has no basis -- hence, faith.
It would be extricate [sic] yourself from intellectual dishonesty -- and
from bearing false witness.
Sincerely, Rev. [name withheld] (an ex-Catholic, apostate Christian Natural/Scientific pantheist)
Just wanted to let you folks know that we are consistent readers and truly appreciate
the job you are doing. God bless you all this coming New Year.
(from two prominent creation researchers/writers in Oregon)
Thanks so much for your site! It is brain candy!
(a reader in North Carolina)
I Love your site probably a little too much. I enjoy the commentary
and the links to the original articles.
(a civil engineer in New York)
Ive had your Creation/Evolution Headlines site on my favourites list for
18 months now, and I can truthfully say that its one of the best on the Internet,
and I check in several times a week. The constant stream of new information on
such a variety of science issues should impress anyone, but the rigorous and
humourous way that every thought is taken captive is inspiring. Im pleased
that some Christians, and indeed, some webmasters, are devoting themselves to
producing real content that leaves the reader in a better state than when they found him.
(a community safety manager in England)
I really appreciate the effort that you are making to provide the public with
information about the problems with the General Theory of Evolution. It gives me
ammunition when I discuss evolution in my classroom. I am tired of the evolutionary
dogma. I wish that more people would stand up against such ridiculous beliefs.
(a science teacher in Alabama)
If you choose to hold an opinion that flies in the face of every piece of evidence
collected so far, you cannot be suprised [sic] when people dismiss your views.
(a former Christian software distributor, location not disclosed)
...the Creation Headlines is the best. Visiting your site...
is a standard part of my startup procedures every morning.
(a retired Air Force Chaplain)
I LOVE your site and respect the time and work you put into it. I read
the latest just about EVERY night before bed and send selection[s] out to others and
tell others about it. I thank you very much and keep up the good work (and
(a USF grad in biology)
Answering your invitation for thoughts on your site is not difficult because
of the excellent commentary I find. Because of the breadth and depth of erudition
apparent in the commentaries, I hope Im not being presumptuous in suspecting
the existence of contributions from a Truth Underground comprised of
dissident college faculty, teachers, scientists, and engineers. If thats
not the case, then it is surely a potential only waiting to be realized. Regardless,
I remain in awe of the care taken in decomposing the evolutionary cant that bombards
us from the specialist as well as popular press.
(a mathematician/physicist in Arizona)
Im from Quebec, Canada. I have studied in pure sciences and after in actuarial mathematics.
Im visiting this site 3-4 times in a week. Im learning a lot and this site gives me the opportunity to realize that this is a good time to be a creationist!
(a French Canadian reader)
I LOVE your Creation Safari site, and the Baloney Detector material.
(a reader in the Air Force)
You have a unique position in the Origins community.
Congratulations on the best current affairs news source on the origins net.
You may be able to write fast but your logic is fun to work through.
(a pediatrician in California)
Visit your site almost daily and find it very informative, educational and inspiring.
(a reader in western Canada)
I wish to thank you for the information you extend every day on your site.
It is truly a blessing!
(a reader in North Carolina)
I really appreciate your efforts in posting to this website. I find
it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science
news daily) and also to research particular topics.
(an IT consultant from Brisbane, Australia)
I would just like to say very good job with the work done here,
very comprehensive. I check your site every day. Its great
to see real science directly on the front lines, toe to toe with the
pseudoscience that's mindlessly spewed from the prestigious
(a biology student in Illinois)
Ive been checking in for a long time but thought Id leave you a
note, this time. Your writing on these complex topics is insightful,
informative with just the right amount of humor. I appreciate the hard
work that goes into monitoring the research from so many sources and then
writing intelligently about them.
(an investment banker in California)
Keep up the great work. You are giving a whole army of Christians
plenty of ammunition to come out of the closet (everyone else has).
Most of us are not scientists, but most of the people we talk to are not
scientists either, just ordinary people who have been fed baloney
for years and years.
(a reader in Arizona)
Keep up the outstanding work!
You guys really ARE making a difference!
(a reader in Texas)
I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that science is not
hostile towards religion. It is the dogmatically religious that are
unwaveringly hostile towards any kind of science which threatens their
dearly-held precepts. Science (real, open-minded science) is not
interested in theological navel-gazing.
Note: Please supply your name and location when writing in. Anonymous attacks
only make one look foolish and cowardly, and will not normally be printed.
This one was shown to display a bad example.
I appreciate reading your site every day. It is a great way to keep
up on not just the new research being done, but to also keep abreast of the
evolving debate about evolution (Pun intended).... I find it an incredibly useful
way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also
to research particular topics.
(an IT consultant in Brisbane, Australia)
I love your website.
(a student at a state university who used CEH when
writing for the campus newsletter)
....when you claim great uncertainty for issues that are fairly
well resolved you damage your already questionable credibility.
Im sure your audience loves your ranting, but if you know as much
about biochemistry, geology, astronomy, and the other fields you
skewer, as you do about ornithology, you are spreading heat, not
(a professor of ornithology at a state university, responding to
the 09/10/2002 headline)
I wanted to let you know I appreciate your headline news style of
exposing the follies of evolutionism.... Your style gives us constant,
up-to-date reminders that over and over again, the Bible creation account
is vindicated and the evolutionary fables are refuted.
(a reader, location unknown)
You have a knack of extracting the gist of a technical paper,
and digesting it into understandable terms.
(a nuclear physicist from Lawrence Livermore Labs who worked
on the Manhattan Project)
After spending MORE time than I really had available going thru
your MANY references I want to let you know how much I appreciate
the effort you have put forth.
The information is properly documented, and coming from
recognized scientific sources is doubly valuable. Your
explanatory comments and sidebar quotations also add GREATLY
to your overall effectiveness as they 1) provide an immediate
interpretive starting point and 2) maintaining the readers
(a reader in Michigan)
I am a huge fan of the site, and check daily for updates.
(reader location and occupation unknown)
I just wanted to take a minute to personally thank-you and let
you know that you guys are providing an invaluable service!
We check your Web site weekly (if not daily) to make sure we have
the latest information in the creation/evolution controversy.
Please know that your diligence and perseverance to teach the
Truth have not gone unnoticed. Keep up the great work!
(a PhD scientist involved in origins research)
You've got a very useful and informative Web site going.
The many readers who visit your site regularly realize that it
requires considerable effort to maintain the quality level and
to keep the reviews current.... I hope you can continue your
excellent Web pages. I have recommended them highly to others.
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)
As an apprentice apologist, I can always find an article
that will spark a spirited debate. Keep em
coming! The Truth will prevail.
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)
Thanks for your web page and work. I try to drop by
at least once a week and read what you have. Im a
Christian that is interested in science (Im a mechanical
engineer) and I find you topics interesting and helpful.
I enjoy your lessons and insights on Baloney Detection.
(a year later):
I read your site 2 to 3 times a week; which Ive probably done for a couple
of years. I enjoy it for the interesting content, the logical arguments, what I can
learn about biology/science, and your pointed commentary.
(a production designer in Kentucky)
I look up CREV headlines every day. It is a wonderful
source of information and encouragement to me.... Your gift of
discerning the fallacies in evolutionists interpretation of
scientific evidence is very helpful and educational for me.
Please keep it up. Your website is the best I know of.
(a Presbyterian minister in New South Wales, Australia)
Ive written to you before, but just wanted to say again
how much I appreciate your site and all the work you put into it.
I check it almost every day and often share the contents
(and web address) with lists on which I participate.
I dont know how you do all that you do, but I am grateful
for your energy and knowledge.
(a prominent creationist author)
I am new to your site, but I love it! Thanks for updating
it with such cool information.
(a home schooler)
I love your site.... Visit every day hoping for another of your
brilliant demolitions of the foolish just-so stories of those
who think themselves wise.
(a reader from Southern California)
I visit your site daily for the latest news from science journals and other media,
and enjoy your commentary immensely. I consider your web site to be the
most valuable, timely and relevant creation-oriented site on the internet.
(a reader from Ontario, Canada)
Keep up the good work! I thoroughly enjoy your site.
(a reader in Texas)
Thanks for keeping this fantastic web site going. It is very
informative and up-to-date with current news including incisive
(a reader in North Carolina)
Great site! For all the Baloney Detector is impressive and a
great tool in debunking wishful thinking theories.
(a reader in the Netherlands)
Just wanted to let you know, your work is having quite an impact.
For example, major postings on your site are being circulated among the
Intelligent Design members....
(a PhD organic chemist)
opening a can of worms ... I love to click all the related links and
read your comments and the links to other websites, but this usually makes me late
for something else. But its ALWAYS well worth it!!
(a leader of a creation group)
I am a regular visitor to your website ... I am impressed
by the range of scientific disciplines your articles address.
I appreciate your insightful dissection of the often unwarranted conclusions
evolutionists infer from the data... Being a medical
doctor, I particularly relish the technical detail you frequently include in
the discussion living systems and processes. Your website continually
reinforces my conviction that if an unbiased observer seeks a reason for the
existence of life then Intelligent Design will be the unavoidable
(a medical doctor)
A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.
I told him CreationSafaris.com.
(a PhD geologist)
I love your site... I check it every day for interesting
information. It was hard at first to believe in Genesis fully, but
now I feel more confident about the mistakes of humankind and that all
their reasoning amounts to nothing in light of a living God.
(a college grad)
Thank you so much for the interesting science links and comments
on your creation evolution headlines page ... it is very
(a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)
visit your site almost every day, and really enjoy it. Great job!!!
(I also recommend it to many, many students.)
(an educational consultant)
I like what I seevery
much. I really appreciate a decent, calm and scholarly approach to the
whole issue... Thanks ... for this fabulous
It is refreshing to read your comments. You have a knack to get to the heart of
(a reader in the Air Force).
Love your website. It has well thought out structure and will help many
through these complex issues. I especially love the
I believe this is one of the best sites on the Internet.
I really like your side-bar of truisms.
Yogi [Berra] is absolutely correct. If I were a man of wealth, I would
support you financially.
(a registered nurse in Alabama, who found
us on TruthCast.com.)
WOW. Unbelievable.... My question is, do you sleep? ... Im utterly
impressed by your page which represents untold amounts of time and energy
as well as your faith.
(a mountain man in Alaska).
wanted to say that I recently ran across your web site featuring science
headlines and your commentary and find it to be A++++, superb, a 10, a homerun
I run out of superlatives to describe it! ... You can be sure I will
visit your site often daily when possible to gain the latest information
to use in my speaking engagements. Ill also do my part to help publicize
your site among college students. Keep up the good work. Your
material is appreciated and used.
(a college campus minister)
Featured Creation Scientist for March
1473 - 1543
Perhaps no revolution in science has been more far-reaching than the Copernican
Revolution. It led to the modern Copernican Principle, the idea that the
earth occupies no preferred place in the cosmos (though the cosmos of Copernicus
was very different from that revealed since the invention of the telescope).
Revisionist history has portrayed Copernicus as a secretive scientist hiding his views
from the church for fear of being condemned as a heretic. We are told also
that Protestants of the Reformation scorned his views. In recent years,
however, that revisionism itself is being revised, thanks largely to the research
of historian and astronomer Owen Gingerich of the Harvard- Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
What did Gingerich find about Copernicus the man, his views, his
readers and the churchs reaction? And what new discoveries are calling
into question the central claim of the Copernican Principle, that Earth occupies
no special status in the grand scheme of the cosmos?
Its time for myths about Copernicus to be corrected. He did
not set out to revolutionize all of astronomy and science. He did not seek
to cast doubt on the Scriptures, or attack the church. He was not fearful
of being persecuted as a heretic. And his writings were not uniformly
condemned by Catholics or Protestants; in fact, many embraced the new idea that
the earth moved around the sun, and it was Lutherans especially who enabled the
publication of On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. Finally,
Copernicus is not responsible for what has become known as The Copernican
Copernicus was born into a wealthy family, and studied astronomy,
mathematics and philosophy at the University of Krakow in Poland. He was
appointed a canon, but never took orders to become a priest, preferring instead to
continue his studies in Italy, where he learned literature and medicine.
On return to Poland, he became personal physician to his uncle, a bishop, a comfortable job
that left him time to pursue astronomy as a hobby. Later, he worked for the
church in an official capacity in matters regarding war and reform of the
Astronomy was never one of his official duties, but Copernicus
became renowned as an astronomer. One of the chief duties of an astronomer
in those days was to devise and improve calendars. As a calendar-maker and
mathematician, Copernicus noted the complexity of
the Ptolemaic (earth-centered) system and its numerous epicycles (circles on
circles to save the appearances of the planetary motions).
In 1506 he began privately developing a heliocentric (sun-centered) model of the
solar system, primarily as a tool to make the calculations easier, although he
still kept the epicycles and circular orbits. It is
probable he grew to believe that the earth really did move. The view was not
entirely original. Aristarchus of Samos had suggested it in the third century
B.C., and several medieval philosophers considered it, but no one had worked out
the mathematics of such a system in detail.
Copernicus did not reveal his model in writing until 1530, and then only in outline form.
It immediately attracted great attention, says the biographical
note to the Britannica Great Books edition. At Rome, Johann
Albrecht Widmanstadt lectured upon the new doctrine; Pope Clement VII gave his
approval; Cardinal Schonberg entreated the author to make public his full thought
on the subject.
The Protestant Reformation began in 1517, but Copernicus never
became directly involved. In fact, Protestants became his greatest allies.
Georg Joachim Rheticus, a Protestant mathematician
at Luthers Wittenberg University, was so intrigued by the new model that he took
a leave of absence and traveled to meet Copernicus. He spent two years with
the Polish astronomer, and published his own general account of the heliocentric
model with Copernicus approval. Another Lutheran, Andreas Osiander,
joined Rheticus in urging publication of the complete book, and a Lutheran prince,
Duke Albrecht, subsidized the printing in 1543. Copernicus became ill and lived
only long enough to see a copy of the first edition. He never had occasion
to suffer any persecution for his ideas; it was not till many years later during
Galileos time (see bio) that the
Catholic Church put it on the list of forbidden books, and that was largely over
issues of politics, academics and personality.
It is true that Copernicus hesitated to publish, but probably less
from fear of heresy than from fear of ridicule by his peers. Aristotles
world view was so entrenched in the sixteenth century that to question it was asking
for trouble. It cannot be claimed that Copernicus feared censure by the church,
since he dedicated his book to the pope. Nor can it be claimed he sought to
cast doubt on the Scriptures, since medieval theologians had already taught that
statements in the Bible about natural phenomena, such as those about the earth
moving, could be interpreted in the language of appearance to the observer.
It was only later, as conflicts between Catholics and Protestants raised tensions
over interpretation of Scripture, that some church leaders insisted that passages
about the sun moving and the earth standing still were taken to mean that the Copernican
model must be heretical. Certainly that was never the view of Galileo, the
Catholic, nor Kepler, the Protestant, both who eagerly embraced the heliocentric
Gingerich searched the world for every extant copy of Copernicus
book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (1543), and found that it
was widely read. There were supporters and naysayers on both sides of the
Reformation divide. It must be remembered that Copernicus had supplied no observational
proof for his view, and at the time, it seemed counterintuitive; by all appearances,
the Earth is terra firma, and it is the sun that rises and sets. Before
Kepler refined the model to correct for
errors made by Copernicus (the orbits are ellipses, not circles), the heliocentric model was primarily
a thought experiment lacking empirical evidence. We cannot misjudge some contemporaries
who considered it a speculative scientific hypothesis, whether or not they felt it
agreed with Scripture; they had good reasons for doubting the earths motion.
It certainly did not comport with experience. Furthermore, they predicted that the
stars would shift back and forth during the year if the earth moved around the sun,
and no shift was seen. It was not till 1838 that stellar parallax was detected.
This not only provided the needed evidence for heliocentricity, it demonstrated that
the stars were much farther away than the contemporaries of Copernicus had thought.
In the Cosmos TV series in the 1980s, Carl Sagan took glee in
pointing out that Luther apparently called Copernicus a fool. That is an
urban myth that was propagated by Andrew Dickson White, first president of Cornell
University (where Sagan later was astronomy professor), in an 1896 book History
of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. Whites motive
was to describe Christianity as always antagonistic to science. Once again, Owen
Gingerich has examined the evidence to set the record straight. In Issue 73
of Christian History magazine (November, 2002), Gingerich said that the
statement attributed to Luther, That fool would upset the whole art of
astronomy is generally believed by scholars to be apocryphal. It was
published as hearsay in 1566, twenty years after Luther had died. It is hard to say
what both Luther and Calvin thought of the Copernican model; we must be fair to
history to remember that it was a radical idea to most people of the day, and took
time to gain acceptance. The record does show, however, that Protestants
like Rheticus, Melanchthon and Kepler were the most eager to embrace it.
Alvin J. Schmidt, in his book Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization
(Zondervan, 2001, pp. 226-227), gives six reasons why the Luther quote is unhistorical.
Agreeing that the statement was late-recollection hearsay and ambiguous, he
quotes Melanchthon as early as 1549 (six years after publication of Copernicus
book), saying We have begun to admire and love Copernicus more.
And Luther himself had taught that certain passages of Scripture could be understood
in the language of appearance. It can hardly be claimed that Biblical
Christianity is inimical to science when the greatest explosion in scientific knowledge occurred in
Protestant countries after the Reformation.
Historians also generally agree that Copernicus was a faithful son of
the Catholic church and never felt his model was contrary to Scripture. The new book and film
The Privileged Planet
makes two things clear about Copernicus. First,
the so-called Copernican Principle, the idea that earth occupies no privileged
position in the cosmos, was the invention of later naturalistic scientists, not
the view of Nicolas Copernicus himself. The insinuation that Copernicus had
somehow demoted mankind from the center of the universe is another
myth that Dennis Danielson, editor of The Book of the Cosmos, explodes in
the question-and-answer section of the film. Sagan treats the Copernican
Revolution as a series of demotions of man from being the center of the
universe. But in medieval cosmology, Danielson points out, the
center of the cosmos was the sump, where the dregs and filth descended; the
celestial sphere, the abode of God, was far exalted above the world of fallen man.
So for Copernicus to raise earth to the status of a planet orbiting the sun
was a promotion, not a demotion.
Second, Copernicus felt that his study of the heavens glorified God,
and he viewed God as a supreme and wise Creator of the elegant system of the heavens.
Dava Sobel, in her book Galileos Daughter, quotes Copernicus from the
introduction to his book referring to the system of the heavens as being derived
from the best and most systematic Artist of all. From the Great
Books edition, Copernicus says:
For who, after applying himself to things which he sees established
in the best order and directed by divine ruling, would not through diligent contemplation
of them and through a certain habituation be awakened to that which is best and would
not wonder at the Artificer of all things, in Whom is all happiness and every good?
For the divine Psalmist surely did not say gratuitously that he took pleasure in the
workings of God and rejoiced in the works of His hands, unless by means of these things
as by some sort of vehicle we are transported to the contemplation of the highest Good.
So we see that Psalm 111:1-4 has reflected a common experience of believers of all ages,
that the pursuit of understanding of Gods works is an act of worship in which
we draw nearer to God.
Later in his introduction, after Copernicus has deduced from his model that the
fixed stars are at an immense height away, his praise rises to a
crescendo and erupts into a doxology: How exceedingly fine is the godlike
work of the Best and Greatest Artist!
A reader in Maryland wrote:
Thanks so much for the detailed overview of Copernicus and the many modern
inaccuracies that are common knowledge about him.
Im usually pretty well versed in the false religion vs. science
dichotomy, but Im pleased to tell you that more than 80% of your article
about Copernicus was news to me--and as a result, destroyed much of my concepts
of who this man was, what he stood for, and what he went through.
Again, a great service -- and a great eye-opener.
Please never abandon this wonderful work!
If you are enjoying this series, you can
learn more about great Christians in science by reading
our online book-in-progress:
The Worlds Greatest
Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.
A Concise Guide|
You can observe a lot by just watching.
First Law of Scientific Progress
The advance of science can be measured by the rate at which exceptions to previously held laws accumulate.
1. Exceptions always outnumber rules.
2. There are always exceptions to established exceptions.
3. By the time one masters the exceptions, no one recalls the rules to which they apply.
Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.
So will Darwinists.
Science is true. Dont be misled by facts.
Finagles 2nd Law
No matter what the anticipated result, there
will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c)
believe it happened according to his own pet theory.
3. Draw your curves, then plot your data.
4. In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.
6. Do not believe in miracles rely on them.
Murphys Law of Research
Enough research will tend to support your theory.
If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
1. The bigger the theory, the better.
2. The experiments may be considered a success if no more than 50%
of the observed measurements must be discarded to obtain a correspondence
with the theory.
The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon
is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.
The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.
Peters Law of Evolution
Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.
An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.
Repetition does not establish validity.
What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts not the facts themselves.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
Thumbs Second Postulate
An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.
There is nothing so small that it cant be blown out of proportion
Hawkins Theory of Progress
Progress does not consist in replacing a theory that is
wrong with one that is right. It consists in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is
more subtly wrong.
The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory.
Error is often more earnest than truth.
Advice from Paul|
Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle
babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge by
professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.
I Timothy 6:20-21
Song of the True Scientist
O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made
them all. The earth is full of Your possessions . . . . May the glory of the Lord endure forever. May the
Lord rejoice in His works . . . . I will sing to the Lord s long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my
being. May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord. May sinners be
consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!
from Psalm 104
Through the creatures Thou hast made
Show the brightness of Thy glory.
Be eternal truth displayed
In their substance transitory.
Till green earth and ocean hoary,
Massy rock and tender blade,
Tell the same unending story:
We are truth in form arrayed.
Teach me thus Thy works to read,
That my faith, new strength accruing
May from world to world proceed,
Wisdoms fruitful search pursuing
Till, thy truth my mind imbuing,
I proclaim the eternal Creed
Oft the glorious theme renewing,
God our Lord is God indeed.
James Clerk Maxwell
One of the greatest physicists
of all time (a creationist).
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