Creation-Evolution Headlines
January 2009
photo strip

“I believe that the next half century will determine if we will advance the cause of Christian civilization or revert to the horrors of brutal paganism....  The thought of industry in the hands of paganism is a nightmare beyond imagining....
“There is only true Christian ethics over against which stands the whole of paganism.  If we are to fulfill our great destiny as a people, then we must return to the old morality, the sole morality.”
—Theodore Roosevelt (before World Wars I and II, communism and the atom bomb), quoted in The Courage and Character of Theodore Roosevelt by George Grant (Cumberland House, 2005).
AstronomyBiomimeticsBirdsBotanyCell BiologyCosmologyDating MethodsDinosaursEarly ManEducationEvolutionFossilsGenetics and DNAGeologyHealthHuman BodyIntelligent DesignMammalsMarine LifeMediaOrigin of LifePhysicsPolitics and EthicsSETISolar SystemTheologyZoology     Awards:  AmazingDumb       Note: bold emphasis added in all quotations unless otherwise indicated.
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
  Watch for the Recycle logo to find gems from the back issues!

Obama and Stem Cells: Hope Chest or Pandora’s Box?   01/31/2009    
Jan 31, 2009 — Any day now, as he promised, President Obama will likely lift funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research imposed by former President Bush.  Bush had sought the council of leading scientists and ethicists before making his decision.  Obama, by contrast, will be yielding to the opinions of the scientific societies who have clamored for years that they need and want access to these morally-questionable cells.  It’s a good time to ask if the research to date has been promising.
    Science Magazine expressed “Celebration and Concern Over U.S. Trial of Embryonic Stem Cells.”1  The report concerns FDA approval of a study allowing injection of ES cells into humans afflicted with spinal cord injuries.   The work will be conducted on 8 to 10 patients by Geron, a company in Menlo Park, California.  The lead researcher offered only small hope: “I don’t expect this treatment to allow patients to jump out of wheelchairs and play soccer,” he said, but “a meaningful and incremental advance” in mobility is possible.  Despite the champagne celebrations at the prospect of an actual clinical trial, some researchers, according to Science reporter Jennifer Couzin, are concerned that this may not be the best test case.  They are also concerned that the trials may produce harmful tumors (teratomas) in human subjects as they have in ES cell experiments on animals.
    A bad result could set back research enormously.  One said, “we’re still – a long way from really understanding a good deal about these cells and how to use them safely.”  Nevertheless, Geron CEO Thomas Okarma is confident the tests are ready for humans.  Other companies are getting ready for trials.  One said, “we were always told, ‘Cure a patient and then all of this [controversy] will go away.’”  This underscores the fact that no treatment with ES cells has yet produced a cure.  Adult stem cell research, without the ethical problems associated with creating and destroying human embryos, has had many successes.  ES cell research, so far, has only offered promises.
    Live Science reported that “Stem Cells Reverse Paralysis in Rats.”  One might assume from the title that embryonic stem cells were involved.  The body of the article, though, makes it clear this is another success from adult stem cells.  “The rat study involved adult stem cells, which are found in adult tissues,” the article clarified in paragraph 6.  “It is the other type of stem cells, embryonic stem cells, that some activists find objectionable, partly because these cells are derived from embryos through a process that currently destroys them.”  Then the article discussed the upcoming clinical trial with ES cells.
    Rats given the adult stem cells recovered significant motor activity one week after injury, Live Science reported.  But ES cell therapies have long been in future tense.  Why the new President and the scientific communities have been so adamant that ES cell research is critically important is a question awaiting demonstration.

1.  Jennifer Couzin, “Celebration and Concern Over U.S. Trial of Embryonic Stem Cells,” Science, 30 January 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5914, p. 568, DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5914.568.
Even if ES cell therapy produces a cure, would that eliminate the moral and ethical issues?  Will a cure make the controversy go away?  Only if one is a pragmatist (“the end justifies the means”).  Reread our 12/17/2008 and 10/15/2008 entries to think through the issues.  Never make a moral decision on hype.  Many awful movements started with the best of intentions.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsCell BiologyHealth
Since its release 7 years ago, Unlocking the Mystery of Life by Illustra Media remains one of the most powerful, convincing, captivating presentations of Intelligent Design ever made.  Ideal for Darwin Day, it is an absolute must-see.  If you’ve watched it, you know the production quality, stunning graphics, animation and original music for which Illustra is famous, but did you know the film has been translated into Spanish, Russian, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Cambodian, and Thai?  (See Illustra’s translations page if you would like to get involved in a translation project for another language.)  This film belongs in every CEH reader’s library; order it from RPI and browse their other ID resources.  Now, you can order “quicksleeve” editions in quantity (not for resale) to get this vital message out.
Update 02/25/2009: Now you can view selections from this and other Illustra Films on YouTube.  Check it out!  Go there and rate the films.  Then order the originals at full resolution.

SETI Has a Long History   01/30/2009    
Jan 30, 2009 — Astrobiology Magazine provided a historical look at attempts to communicate with aliens.  Like the weather, people talked about life in outer space, but nobody did anything about it – at least till technology made such talk a little less crazy.  Michael Schirber’s survey includes some interesting characters – Kepler, Gauss, Tesla and Einstein – along with quite a few other lesser-known thinkers and experimenters.
    Mars and Venus, Earth’s nearest neighbors, were long the focus of attention.  Scientists pondering communication with aliens tended to think in terms of the technology available.  They considered possibilities like lighting fires, building huge patterns out of farms, or putting reflectors on the Eiffel Tower – things that could be seen.  Once the telegraph had been invented, some thought of sending coded messages with some kind of “sky telegraph.”  It wasn’t till the radio age that they began thinking seriously about beaming radio messages – or receiving them.  Around that time it became obvious there was no life on Mars or Venus, and the stars were considered too far away for communication to be practical.
    Since 1959 some began thinking that the vast distances between the stars could be bridged by radio, and SETI was born.  “And then in 1974 – a century and half after Gauss – [Frank] Drake transmitted the first actual SETI message using the Arecibo radio telescope,” Schirber ended.  “Scientists are still waiting for a response.”

Speculations about life in outer space have not been limited to materialists.  It’s a basic human curiosity.  Two lessons from Schirber’s historical survey are worth noting.  One is the effect of worldview on speculation.  As long as scholars believed the Aristotelian view that the stars circled the earth on crystalline spheres, and abode in celestial realms unlike our planet, it was not a question people would ask.  After the Copernican revolution, it was not uncommon for religious people, deists and skeptics to ponder the question.
    Another lesson is that everyone wanted to find intelligent life.  They understood that communication required a mind with intelligence, purpose, and motivation.  The concept of mind arising from particles in motion is a new and bizarre idea.  It took hold among Darwinists and has become in our time a matter of dogma.  Even more bizarre is that the SETI Institute would use intelligent-design assumptions in their efforts, while criticizing intelligent design as unscientific (revisit the 12/03/2005 entry).
Next headline on:  SETIIntelligent Design
Plant Lignin Found in Red Algae   01/29/2009    
Jan 29, 2009 — Time to rewrite the textbooks again.  The story of plant evolution is wrong.  Lignin, a chemical that gives wood its stiffness, was thought to be unique to land plants.  Now it has been found in red algae, reported Science Daily, with the title, “Billion-year Revision Of Plant Evolution Timeline May Stem From Discovery Of Lignin In Seaweed.”  This story illustrates that anything is possible in evolutionary biology these days.
    According to evolutionists, red algae emerged much earlier than land plants.  How are they going to explain a complex molecule, which is manufactured by a complex process, being found in a more “primitive” life form?  “Because red and green algae likely diverged more than a billion years ago, the discovery of lignin in red algae suggests that the basic machinery for producing lignin may have existed long before algae moved to land.”  But that just seems to restate the problem.  The alternative, though, is even harder to swallow: “Alternatively, algae and land plants may have evolved the identical compound independently, after they diverged.”
    The independent evolution of an identical compound in unrelated lines is tantamount to a miracle.  Look what Mark Denny of Stanford said about this:
“The pathways, enzymes and genes that go into making this stuff are pretty complicated, so to come up with all those separately would be really, really amazing,”says Denny.  “Anything is possible, but that would be one hell of a coincidence.”
Paper View: Denny’s statement warranted a further look at the original paper in Current Biology.1  Sure enough, the only two options were evolutionary, and neither was unproblematic.  “The discovery of polymerized hydroxycinnamyl alcohols (lignin) within the cell walls of a red alga has major evolutionary implications,” they said in a tone of understatement.  Either the ability to synthesize lignin emerged in a single-celled ancestor (with no need for the sturdiness of plant stems), or it emerged by convergent evolution in unrelated lineages.  “Because monolignol synthesis is exceptionally complex, it seems unlikely that Calliarthron [the red alga] and terrestrial plants evolved monolignol biosynthesis and polymerization completely independently,” they confessed (see 05/30/2008, bullet 2).  Why, then, did the title of their paper say this “reveals convergent evolution of cell-wall architecture”?  Perhaps there is a way to get the best of both explanations.  “It seems more likely that relevant pathways, such as phenylpropanoid biosynthesis and polymerization by peroxidase-catalyzed oxidation, may be deeply conserved, having evolved prior to the divergence of red and green algae more than 1 billion years ago.”  If so, “we may expect to find conserved enzymatic pathways and, potentially, evidence of lignification among the multitude of evolutionary intermediates.”  The search is on.
    Nevertheless, they did entertain the possibility that red algae and land plants converged on the highly-complex lignin pathways independently.  For support, they pointed to one other case of convergent evolution in lignin synthesis: “For example, angiosperms and the lycopod Selaginella synthesize S lignin via distinct and independently evolved cytochrome-P450-dependent monooxygenases, and production of S lignin in Calliarthron may reflect a third convergent pathway.”  This seems to beg the question that they evolved.  Perhaps two improbabilities are better than one, and three better than two.  Since nothing but evolution is allowed in the explanation, though, those are the choices.  Maybe imagining other uses for lignin in microbes will help:
Lignins are thought to have evolved in the green algal lineage as adaptations to terrestrial habitats, facilitating hydraulic transport and contributing to the mechanical stability of upright stems.  However, contrary to the current paradigm, our data indicate that H, G, and S lignins exist within a red alga’s calcified cells that lack hydraulic vasculature and have little need for additional support.  We speculate that lignin biosynthetic pathways may have functioned in the common unicellular ancestor of red and green algae, protecting cells from microbial infection or UV radiation, and in Calliarthron, lignins may orient the fibrillar scaffolding that guides CaCO3 deposition.
While we’re speculating, let’s imagine more with the long leash of evolutionary thinking.  There may have been other needs within brainless microbes that provided opportunities for evolutionary invention via “selective pressure.”
The presence of G lignin within the secondary walls of peripheral genicular cells may represent convergent evolution of cellular architecture in response to mechanical stress, given that G lignins also concentrate within secondary walls of terrestrial plant fibers.  Selective pressures in the marine environment differ from those on land, but the wind-induced drag forces that presumably contributed to the evolution of wood in terrestrial plants are mirrored by flow-induced drag forces on aquatic algae.  On land, xylem lends mechanical support to erect stems, and in water, genicula provide mechanical support to Calliarthron fronds.  As articulated fronds bend back and forth under breaking waves, bending stresses are amplified within peripheral genicular tissue, which develops thick secondary walls, apparently to resist breakage.... We hypothesize that this putative 3- to 5-fold upregulation of lignin biosynthesis in peripheral genicular cells may be mechanically stimulated by bending stresses imposed by breaking waves.  Similar mechanical on/off switches for lignin accumulation have been noted in terrestrial systems: plants grown in microgravity synthesize less lignin, whereas plants grown in hypergravity synthesize more lignin.  The mechanical consequences of such minute quantities of lignin on genicular material properties may be negligible.  Nevertheless, that genicular tissue contains lignin and is also stronger, stiffer, and yet more extensible than other algal tissues is an intriguing coincidence, and lignin’s potential role in these properties is an area of active research.
Their reasoning leaves out a key question.  Their evidence refers only to spots where lignin accumulates in response to mechanical stress.  How did it get there in the first place?  What does accumulation have to do with the origin of the lignin synthesis machinery?  They didn’t say.  The argument merely hints that an applied stress will somehow produce the goods.  Necessity is the mother of invention.
    Having earlier admitted that lignin synthesis is “exceptionally complex,” it is perhaps surprising to hear them land on the side of convergent evolution in their concluding paragraph.  Their last sentence included overt teleological language:
Convergent evolution of cell structure and development in Calliarthron genicula and terrestrial xylem may clarify lignin biosynthesis and lend insight into the early evolution of land plants.  It is striking that Calliarthron contains lignified cell walls but evolved from calcified ancestors that lacked water-conducting tracheids or vessels.  Vascular plants may have realized hydraulic transport by tapping into ancient biosynthetic pathways that initially evolved to fortify unicellular walls and were later adapted to provide biomechanical support.
With funding from the National Science Foundation, Patrick Martone (co-author with Denny) is continuing work on this surprising discovery.  Science Daily ended, “Martone says the research team has started looking for billion-year-old lignin genes that might be shared among land plants and red algae, and has started exploring whether lignin exists in other aquatic algae and what role it plays in the evolution and function of aquatic plants.”
1.  Martone, Estevez, Lu, Ruel, Denny, Somerville and Ralph, “Discovery of Lignin in Seaweed Reveals Convergent Evolution of Cell-Wall Architecture,” Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 2, 27 January 2009, Pages 169-175, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.12.031.
Darwinism is supposed to be this law-governed, enlightened, mechanistic, scientific theory that gives rational explanations for observed phenomena in nature.  Pray tell, what is the difference between their evolutionary explanation and that of a shaman?  We have just seen these scientists invoke spirits.  They called on the spirit of convergent evolution, the spirit of Tinker Bell, and the spirit of vascular plants tapping into ancient biosynthetic pathways that “initially evolved to fortify” cell walls of microbes.  These purpose-driven spirits produced lignin biosynthesis machinery on demand, just because of environmental stress.  Miraculous (see 03/25/2003).  “Anything is possible,” Denny said.  At least Christians have a sufficient Cause when they say, “With God, all things are possible.”
    When you learn to look past the big words and identify the key passages in a scientific paper, it’s like taking your gaze off the Wizard of Oz act and pulling up the curtain where the charlatan is hiding.  A theory that says “anything can happen,” even coincidences that are “really, really amazing” can explain anything.  Is this enlightened?  Is this progressive?  Is this rational?  No matter what the observations, the Darwin Party has carte blanche to say “It evolved, because stuff happens” (09/15/2008).  To get really disgusted, read how the Astrobiology Magazine spun this finding in to a positive for evolution!  “The team’s finding provides a new perspective on the early evolution of lignified support tissues – such as wood – on land, since the seaweed tissues that are most stressed by waves crashing on shore appear to contain the most lignin, possibly contributing to mechanical support, says Martone.”  This is why we really need to end the one-party rule in science.  The Darwinists have done nothing to stop the rampant, blatant, out-of-control identity theft (05/02/2003) and credit fraud (08/24/2007) that is damaging the public trust (12/18/2002).
Next headline on:  PlantsEvolutionDumb Ideas
  Scientist says “commonly used methods of historical inference are positively and significantly misleading.”  But was his hypothesis any better?  He claimed compound eyes evolved multiple times!  See the 01/29/2002 entry.

Is Natural Selection Losing its Appeal?   01/28/2009    
Jan 28, 2009 — Some recent science reports sound like they are ready to cast Darwin’s key phrase natural selection overboard, or at least demote it from its leading role in evolution.  These articles each hint that long-held beliefs are being challenged.

  1. Make roomScience Daily asked, “Natural Selection Not The Only Process That Drives Evolution?”  Scientists at Uppsala University are finding a bigger role for neutral genetic drift.  They examined “fast-evolving” human genes by comparing them with those of other primates, and claim that many did not show signals of natural selection.  “The research not only increases our understanding of human evolution, but also suggests that many techniques used by evolutionary biologists to detect selection may be flawed,” the article said.  They may have trouble selling this idea: “many of the genetic changes leading to human-specific characters may be the result of the fixation of harmful mutations.”  It’s not clear how a degrading process led to human language, civilization and fast-food restaurants, but “This contrasts the traditional Darwinistic view that they are the result of natural selection in favour of adaptive mutations.”
  2. Tree pruning:  A “dramatic” rearrangement of Darwin’s tree of life reported by Science Daily claims that “evolutionary relationships among animals are not as simple as previously thought.”  The new tree developed by researchers at the American Museum of Natural History appears to have two trunks near the base.  All the sponges, comb jellies, jellyfish and placozoans are on one branch, and all other animals on another.  Placozoans look like slimy multicellular amoebas that glide along the surfaces of household aquariums.  Nature News titled this, “Humans and sponges may share a slimy ancestor.”
        What are the implications of this approach?  For one, it means the “genetic tool kit” for complex organs appeared before the split, and for another, convergent evolution was widespread after the split.  “Some people might initially be shocked to see that nerve cells in cnidarians and higher animals (Bilateria), the group of animals that includes humans, evolved independently,” a researcher commented, claiming that the nervous systems are not that similar.  “It is the underlying genetic tool kit that is similar amongst these basal animals,” another said.  “Placozoa have all of the tools in their genome to make a nervous system, but they just don’t do it.”  On the face of it, this would seem to raise questions about natural selection.  Why would selection invent tools that are not used?
        Nature News understood the difficulties the new tree presents.  One “difficult implication” means that nervous systems evolved independently in the two branches.  “This is hard to swallow,” one biologist remarked.  The supporters of the new tree just brushed it off.  “The placula already had all the genes necessary to make all the building blocks [of a nervous system], but it didn’t have to make it because ecology didn’t force it to do so,” said Bernd Schierwater [University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover in Germany].  For him, this problem is “not too complicated at all.”  His answer begs the question, though, of why natural selection would produce a genetic tool kit in the first place, if “ecology” did not “force” it to use it.
        Nature News quoted others who remain wary of the way these trees are calculated.  “Small alterations in the settings of some of these analysis tools can make major differences to the outcomes,” one said.  Another worried about adequate taxon sampling.  “I am tired of these molecular papers that don’t make sufficient controls to check the reliability of the phylogenetic inferences.  The other critic remarked, “This certainly isn’t the last word on the scheme of animal evolution.”
  3. White eyes:  If the environment forces evolutionary change, as Darwin insisted, why would some white-eyed birds diversify quickly across multiple habitats while others stay the same?  PhysOrg reported on this biological puzzle.  It claims that bird members of the family Zosteropidae are among the fastest diversifying species ever found, even faster than the cichlid fishes in African lakes.  What’s more, the diversification does not appear to be related to geographical features, because other species in those areas do not diversify so quickly.  “As we started to compile the data, we were shocked,” one researcher said about how similar the genetics of these diverse white-eyed birds were across a wide range.  To her, this represented “a recent origin and incredibly rapid diversification.”
        The article claims this confirms a hypothesis by Ernst Mayr 80 years ago that certain species are intrinsically better at diversifying than others.  Mayr’s “Great Speciator” hypothesis proposed that internal factors like sociability, the ability to survive in a variety of habitats, and a short time between generations relative to other animals can be more important than geography in generating changes.  Although the article did not mention natural selection, it seems to relegate it to a lesser role.  Darwin had emphasized environmental factors as drivers for natural selection.  Researcher Christopher Filardi recognized the debate: “This leaves the question: are the white eyes really special, or have we simply caught them at a special time in their evolution?  That we don’t know, but our results indicate that high rates of diversification may have as much to do with a species’ ‘personality’ as they have to do with more classical geographic or geological drivers of speciation.”  Filardi did not characterize what “personality” might mean in biochemical or genetic terms, or why this bird family would have such a different “personality” than other families that would cause rapid diversification.  The word is foreign to evolutionary nomenclature.  He seemed to use it as a place-holder for ignorance of the cause of diversification.
The ability of some species to diversify can be dramatic.  Science Daily reported on a catfish found in Venezuela that can climb trees.  Its modified pelvic fins (see picture on National Geographic News) allow it to inch up tree trunks.  Furthermore, this ability is seen in three separate species, suggesting the common ancestor lived upstream.  Nevertheless, they are all catfish, and not members of any groups that evolutionary charts show as ancestors of land animals.  The fins are modified fins, not bony limbs.
Natural selection has long been the fulcrum of controversy in evolutionary thinking.  Historians agree that Darwin succeeded best in making the general idea of evolution acceptable – but he failed to win the case for natural selection as the mechanism of evolution.  Natural-selection theory was almost moribund by 1900.  It was revived by the neo-Darwinian synthesis in the 1940s, but that was more by peace treaty between disagreeing groups of scientists (fossil hunters, field naturalists and geneticists) than by demonstration – and the peace treaty signers knew nothing of the revolution in molecular biology just around the corner.
    Since the last major Darwin drum-beating celebrations in 1959 (the centennial of Darwin’s black book), natural selection has been treated like a truism, rarely questioned.  Some are still objecting to it, though.  One reason is that the phrase portrays nature operating with a purposeful hand, choosing traits it wants for a purpose.  As Darwin envisioned it (aware of the inherent personification in the phrase), it could only operate on small variations in the immediate present.  No foresight or planning was involved.  Another problem recognized later was that it conveys no information.  If fitness is measured by what survives, and survivors are assumed to be the fit ones, then it is a tautology: survivors survive.  Evolutionists have squirmed around this problem with lots of bellowing and bluff, but their answers merely shield the tautology with synonyms (example: 10/29/2002).
    The most serious and enduring objection to natural selection theory has been its insistence on randomness.  Natural selection is supposed to produce endless forms most beautiful from an unguided, purposeless mechanical process.  But chance is not a process!  Oh, but the randomness in variation is selected by the environment, the Darwinist says.  Well, guess what: the environment is random, too, so this reduces to chance acting on chance.  Folks, chance is not a law of nature.  Chance is not a mechanism.  Chance is not an explanation.  Chance is nothing.  Darwin is celebrated because he liberated biology from theology and supposedly brought it under the reign of “laws of nature.”  Big deal.  What kind of law is it to say that Stuff Happens? (09/15/2008).  It’s like calling Brownian motion a force.  There is no vector.  Moreover, natural selection has never been shown to be creative.  One major impetus for the intelligent design movement has been the lack of evidence that natural selection is capable of originating the complex, interacting organs that permeate biology.  Nobody questions the reality of mutations, and not even young-earth creationists disagree with the ability of selection to conserve and adapt existing genetic information to changing conditions, but how could a blind process that can only respond to immediate circumstances build a wing, eye, kidney or brain?  Imagining it, or making up stories, is not evidence.
    If Darwinism is true, abandon all hope of purpose, meaning and values.  Darwin could not endure the theistic evolutionary views of his friend and supporter Asa Gray, who promulgated Darwin’s ideas in America but tried desperately to cling to a role for God in the process.  Darwin understood that any designing intelligence would contradict his central tenet.  Stuff Happens.  Take it or leave it.  Darwin wanted pure, unadulterated chance in his biology, not “God makes stuff happen.”  He could allow for God creating the dice in the foggy past, perhaps, but every roll from then on was hands off.  William Provine has been among the few Darwinists willing to go all the way to the bitter consequences of the Stuff Happens law: there is no purpose, no meaning, and no free will, and when you die, you are dead, dead, dead.  (It never seems to enter his attention that he shoots his view in the foot when he says this.)
    Darwin Day would be a good time to point out to the world that “Stuff Happens” is no law at all, and believing in this anti-law has bitter consequences.  As a kicker, point out to them that the scientific evidence contradicts it.  Above you have three examples.
Exercise:  Assuming philosophical naturalism for the sake of argument, is natural selection as arbitrary and vacuous a scientific explanation as its nemesis, vitalism, the idea of a “life force” in living things?  Defend your answer.
Discussion Question:  Are laws about chance different than calling chance itself a law?  For instance, there are well-known Laws of Probability that can predict the outcomes of probabilistic events to high degrees of certainty in some cases.  Is natural selection like one of these laws, or would that be confusing subject and object?  In light of the commentary above, see if probability theory can rescue natural selection from the charge that it reduces to Stuff Happens.
Next headline on:  BirdsMarine BiologyEvolutionary Theory
New Genetics Revolution Underway   01/27/2009    
Jan 27, 2009 — The genetics of the 1950s was that DNA is the seat of all inheritance, and that genetic information traveled one way: from DNA to protein.  That “central dogma” has been changing after decades of further researchers.  Theories of epigenetics (inheritance not limited to DNA) have been gaining attention with increasing frequency.
    Science Daily reported on work by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health that “Heritability May Not Be Limited To DNA.”  The European Molecular Biology Laboratory issued a press release shouting, “Rewrite the Textbooks: Transcription is Bidirectional.”  And Nature last week (22 Jan 2009 issue) had a special section on RNA interference.  Small RNAs play a major role in how genes are expressed, and may play roles in inheritance.  One of the papers discussed the interplay of histones and small interfering RNAs (siRNA) in epigenetic inheritance.1  Histone methylation patterns can pass from parent to daughter cell, and “siRNAs act only on those daughter DNA strands that have inherited old parental histone H3 molecules containing H3K9 methylation,” wrote author Danesh Moazed.  “Such cooperativity-based mechanisms involving the dual recognition of histone marks and other specificity factors (siRNAs or DNA-binding proteins) are likely to underlie all epigenetic cis-inheritance mechanisms.”
    Much remains to be discovered in this “Pandora’s Box” of new insights into inheritance, as Angela Eggleston described it in the introductory article.  Moazed ended, “Future studies are likely to provide new and surprising insights about the way in which small and large non-coding RNAs regulate chromatin structure and how this ability is, in turn, regulated.”  See also the 01/23/2009 entry, bullet 9.
1.  Danesh Moazed, “Small RNAs in transcriptional gene silencing and genome defence,” Nature 457, 413-420 (22 January 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature07756.
These studies had nothing of substance to say about evolution.  Moazed wrote, for instance, that “With the notable exception of budding yeast, small-RNA-mediated silencing mechanisms and their role in chromatin regulation are conserved throughout eukaryotes, indicating an ancient evolutionary origin.”  It indicates no such thing.  It indicates the absence of evolution.  What is the absence of evolution?  Creation!
    Another paper in the set said this: “These findings have raised many questions about how and why this widespread RNA-mediated regulation of genes evolved...”  Maybe it didn’t evolve – why not consider that option?  We’ve already seen from the 01/23/2009 entry, bullet 9, that evolutionists are clueless trying to explain these things.  Genetics was complex enough to justify the intelligent design movement when the structure of DNA was discovered in 1953, and shown to be a code translated into another code.  How much more so today with the mechanisms of inheritance seen to be increasingly complex on entirely new levels.
Next headline on:  GeneticsIntelligent Design

New Baloney
cartoon      Subject: HALF TRUTH
by Brett Miller!
Click the icon.

Darwinists Frustrated at Public   01/26/2009    
Jan 26, 2009 — “The creationists got what they wanted,” moaned Barbara Forrest in Science News of the Week (23 January 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5913, p. 451, DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5913.451b).  All they got was the right for teachers to use supplementary materials in Louisiana schools.  This followed a “wave of so-called academic freedom bills,” complained Yudhijit Bhattacharjee in his news item, “Educators Decry New Louisiana Policy.”  The article was reprinted for the Science blog Origins.  The Editors showed their bias by saying this about the decision: “the news wasn’t all positive for science this week.”  They called it a “loophole” to teach intelligent design in the classroom (see loaded words).
    Meanwhile, in Seattle, the public is not tuning in to the city’s I Love Lucy show.  The Lucy exhibit (of the Johanson skeleton, not the TV reruns) is a bust.  The Seattle Times reported that the $2.25 million exhibit at the Pacific Science Center is losing money fast due to lack of public attendance.  Other museums are reconsidering whether to host the exhibit.  PSC president Bryce Seidl blamed the economy and the weather.  Chagrined at the low turnout, he said, “It’s a powerful story of evolution and culture and history ... but we’re not getting the attendance we need for an exhibit of this scale.”

You can’t gauge the value of something by the turnout, else everyone would go to classical music concerts.  It is kind of funny, though.  The Darwinists assumed the public would swoon over their idol like they do.  If it were that special to them, they would brave the snow and pay the dough for it.  Maybe they don’t because they like to keep their assets (click icon, right).
    As to whether Louisiana teachers should have academic freedom, or whether students should be able to see a copy of Explore Evolution in the classroom, just imagine what a horrible thing that would be.  When observing a heated controversy, one heuristic approach for deciding who has more credibility is to see which party wants both sides to be heard.  Another is to see which side is capable of accurately articulating the position of the other side.
Next headline on:  EducationEvolutionIntelligent DesignEarly ManMedia
  Can circular reasoning make it past peer review?  Check the 01/31/2006 entry and decide.

The Moon Has Core Values   01/25/2009    
Jan 25, 2009 — Did the moon have a molten core?  There has been “a long-held consensus that objects in the solar system smaller than than [sic] Mars, can’t sustain magnetic fields,” said National Geographic News based on a paper in Science January 16.1  Apollo rock samples seem to indicate the presence of long-lived magnetism.  It suggests a molten core able to sustain a magnetic dynamo for long period – not heat-shocked magnetism from impacts, which would have dissipated within days.  The original paper explains the unexpected finding:

Before the Apollo missions, the Moon was often thought to be a primordial un-differentiated relic of the early solar system that had never formed a core or generated a magnetic dynamo.  Because it was well known that the Moon presently has no global magnetic field, it was a surprise when the Apollo subsatellites and surface magnetometers detected magnetic fields originating from the lunar crust, and paleomagnetic analyses of returned samples identified natural remanent magnetization (NRM).  The magnetization of many samples must have been produced by ancient magnetic fields, but the association of crustal magnetization with impact structures and the identification of NRM in <200-million-year-old impact glasses suggest that the field sources could have been impact-generated plasmas rather than a core dynamo.  Determining the source of lunar paleofields is critical for understanding the thermal evolution of the Moon, the limits of dynamo generation in small bodies, and, by implication, the magnetization of asteroids and meteorites.
The authors argued that the NRM was not due to impacts, but probably to a molten core.  They spoke in terms of billions of years, but admitted in the second paragraph that “A further complication is that the precise thermal histories of most lunar rocks are unknown.  Their magnetization ages have often been assumed to be equal to their radiometric ages, even though thermal events that can remagnetize rocks may have no effect on most geochronometers.”
    What are the implications of positing a liquid core for a small body like the Moon?  “The plausibility of a lunar dynamo has been questioned because of the unconfirmed existence of a fluid metallic core, the difficulty of sustaining a dynamo at least 600 million years after accretion, and large paleointensities of ~100 microteslas that are difficult to reconcile with theoretical predictions.”  They said that there is growing evidence that a small, partially molten core persists today.  National Geographic quoted a French geoscience professor who commented on the consensus-breaking idea that the Moon differentiated and retains an internal melt: “With more studies pointing to the moon’s core, in addition to signs that Mercury and satellites of Jupiter and Saturn have cores, experts are being forced to ‘go backward in that direction,’ [Pierre] Rochette said.”
1.  Ian Garrick-Bethell, Benjamin P. Weiss, David L. Shuster and Jennifer Buz, “Reports: Early Lunar Magnetism,” Science, 16 January 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5912, pp. 356-359, DOI: 10.1126/science.1166804.
If findings are undermining a long-held consensus, if observations are difficult to reconcile with theoretical predictions, and if studies are forcing geoscientists to go backward from their assumptions, then it seems only fair that informed observers of the reasoning of the scientific community have a right to question their confidence about the thermal history and evolution of small bodies in the solar system.  Remember, this is not an isolated instance.  The entire history of planetary science is a record of surprise after surprise.  Very little that was assumed to be true about planetary objects before we got “ground truth” from them still holds today.  What other consensi are up for reversal?  (Yes, the plural is consensuses, but consensi sounds better.)
    Many people just cower in awe before the wizards of planetary science, as if they are onto something wonderful when they weave their imaginative scenarios of the history of the solar system, like the new one that claims Mercury and Mars are just leftover scraps from the formation of Earth and Venus (see this latest weird-science story on National Geographic News).  How could they possibly know such things?  It may be fun for a PhD to spin a “radical new theory” about what happened when he can’t go back in time and watch it, but please don’t call it science.  Science is supposed to mean “knowledge.”  Plausibility and knowledge do not necessary track one another.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyPhysicsDating Methods

Just in time for Darwin Day: a new website called Darwin’s Predictions lets you see if the promise of Darwin to provide understanding of biology has panned out.  Dr. Cornelius Hunter is uniquely qualified to analyze Darwinism.  Author of three books, he is a PhD biochemist also well versed in history and philosophy of science.  Share this website with your professor, biology teacher or science reporter.

Immune System Has a Code, Language and Memory   01/24/2009    
Jan 24, 2009 — “Decoding the language of memory cells” is the title of an article in Science Daily.  A researcher at the University of the School of Medicine is using the concepts of codes, language and memory to understand the way T-cells “remember” a pathogen to prevent later infections.  “We are currently figuring out which signals are important for memory generation and protection,” said Emma Texeiro.  “This is important for improving vaccines and tumor immunotherapies.”

Two frequent criticisms of intelligent design are (1) that it necessarily requires belief in a supernatural God, and (2) that it brings science to a halt.  Think about that in relation to this story.  Dr. Texeiro is probably an evolutionist (we will assume that in the absence of information to the contrary).  The question, though, is whether metaphysical naturalism or evolutionary theory was any help in her research.  Words like code, language, signal and memory refer to information.  They are design words, intelligence words, function words, purpose words.  They have nothing to do with chance and random motion of atoms.  One can do science with the presumption that programmed function is present and discernible.  Does that stop science?  Of course not.  Her team is actively working to understand this coded system to improve medicine.  For all practical purposes, she is pursuing her research as if intelligent design is scientific.  It’s not necessary for her to debate whether the assumed background intelligence that coded this information is natural or supernatural.  The assumption of design is not a science-stopper; she is going full speed ahead, and we may all benefit.  What’s the problem?  Why are the anti-ID folk so adamant against ID?  Why do they suppose that acknowledging the obvious, that design is apparent and can be understood, will put America in the Dark Ages?  Has the commitment to evolutionary storytelling done something for you lately?  Has it given you understanding?  Has it benefitted your health?  (See next entry, 01/23/2009.)  The only thing evolutionary theory is good for is a belly laugh once in awhile.  In a perverse sort of way, that can be good medicine.
Next headline on:  HealthIntelligent Design
Exploring the Malleability of Evolutionary Explanation   01/23/2009    
Jan 23, 2009 — Metal bars can be rated on how much they are malleable (able to be hammered) or ductile (able to be stretched) without breaking.  Is evolutionary theory just a very malleable and ductile idea, able to adapt to changing observations, or should it be described as a strong theory, powerful in its explanatory breadth?  Maybe some recent examples can illuminate the issue.
  1. Gargle singing:  Surprise: Pavarotti evolved from fish gargling.  MSNBC News announced this nonchalantly with a pretty picture of a swamp sparrow singing away.  Yes, it all began long ago: “The pattern started to evolve when lungfishes started to gulp and swallow air,” an evolutionary biologist “explained”.  “Heads up, 'American Idol',” reporter Jennifer Viegas chirped.  “Findings may lead to better human singing.”  Thank your inner fish.
  2. Hardwired metaphysics:  Why do some people tend to see religion and science at conflict?  Obviously, we must have evolved that tendency.  Robin Lloyd for MSNBC News explained that we can only handle one deep thought at a time.  She spoke more about the Galileo affair and the “ongoing effort of U.S. creationists to inject doubt about evolution into science classrooms in public schools,” but the tenor of the article is that humans are hardwired to act that way.  “Experiments headed up by psychologist Jesse Preston of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her colleague Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago provide some data to support the argument that the conflict is inherent, or hard-wired,” she said.  “They found that subjects apparently cannot easily give positive evaluations to both God and science as explanations for big questions, such as the origin of life and the universe, at the same time.”  Apparently the hard wiring can be short-circuited by conscious choice.  Presumably science is a shunt around the hardwiring.  She did not say whether conscious choice evolved, or why scientists should combat a group of people (like creationists) who only do what they are hardwired to do.  If they are products of evolution, could they not be considered more fit?
  3. Scorpius:  The “book lungs” of scorpions (so called because they look superficially like the leaves of a book) have been imaged by scientists at high detail at the American Museum of Natural History.  Science Daily shows a photo and claims it “gives insight into the evolutionary relationships among scorpions.”  How does it do that?  Apparently this is the first time since 1926 that someone examined book lungs for clues to where scorpions fit on Darwin’s tree of life.  “Scorpions were traditionally placed at the base of the phylogenetic tree, as a sister group to all other arachnids, but molecular data has complicated this picture by suggesting that scorpions move higher on the tree, closer to sun spiders and daddy long legs,” the article said.  “Consequently, the question of whether the book lung evolved once, at the base of the arachnid phylogenetic tree, or more than once, as arachnids adapted to life out of water, is unresolved.”  Did the new pictures of 200 specimens help, then?  For one thing, they found a “tremendous diversity” of structures.  They did claim a match to progressive tree-like variation: “The finding suggests that a significant change in the structure of the respiratory apparatus must have occurred early in the evolution of modern scorpions.”  The book lungs, however, all have the same basic parts, just in varied forms of sculpting of the lamellae.  The differences seem as trivial as those between human hairstyles.
  4. Extended construction:  An old idea by Richard Dawkins didn’t fare so well for awhile, but is now enjoying a resurgence.  Science Daily said the Extended Phenotype model which Dawkins developed in 1982 is gaining acceptance among the European Science Foundation.  The attendees at a recent ESF workshop worked out a compromise with proponents of niche construction, often considered a rival hypothesis.  “However there was lively debate between Dawkins and proponents of niche construction over the role of evolution within closely coupled ecosystems,” the article said, leading into an unfinished discussion of how the rival ideas interact and what questions remain.
  5. Pair o' sites:  Which genes are involved in the evolution of parasitism?  Science Daily reported on discussions of competing signal pathways that, though “evolutionarily conserved” (i.e., unevolved, “unchanged during the course of evolution”), might have played roles in the development of parasitism.  The word “conserved” appears four times in the short article.  First line said: “Today, 150 years after Darwin’s epochal ‘On the Origin of Species,’ many questions about the molecular basis of evolution are still waiting for answers.
  6. Swimmin’ lizards:  New Zealand paleontologists have a conundrum on their hands.  Remnants of a group of lizards that went extinct in the Age of Dinosaurs abide as “living fossils” in New Zealand (03/10/2006).  Problem: the islands were supposed to be almost submerged in between the time of the dinosaurs and now.  Science Daily has a humorous picture of a lone tuatara trying to survive on a tiny rock out in the ocean.  Unless these relatively delicate reptiles (03/31/2002) swam from South America after New Zealand rose above the waves, some of its land mass must have remained above the surface.  Even so, they would have had to survive major climate upheavals.  An entry last year 03/24/2008 claimed that tuatara genes seem to be running in place.
  7. Twists and turns:  A triumphant-sounding article on EurekAlert claims that the evolutionary process has been explored in greater detail than ever before – in yeast.  Describing how “Mother Nature sorts things out,” a team at Texas A&M claimed they could watch beneficial mutations take hold in succeeding generations, just like Darwin said.  “We’re gaining a comprehensive understanding of the way a microorganism adapts to its environment as it fights to survive,” Katy Kao announced in good Malthusian form.  “We’re demonstrating that the evolutionary journey has many more ‘twists and turns’ than we once thought.”  She did not elaborate on how the twisty path might make it difficult to discern an evolutionary track millions of years later.  After all, she was watching just a few generations of yeast in the present – and at the end of the experiment, they were still yeast.
  8. Darwin in has a lively discussion on whether human spaceflight is driving evolution, or evolution is driving human spaceflight.  “It’s about culture and the human desire to evolve and expand,” said one German spokesperson, apparently oblivious to the usual Darwinian principle that organisms do not normally exercise free will in the matter.  Darwinist professor Will Provine, for instance, has long preached dogmatically that there is no free will in a Darwinist world.  Evolution must have programmed him to say that.  The statement implies progress – a no-no in evolutionary theory, according to Michael Ruse and other leading Darwinists.
  9. It’s hard to be purposeless:  Two Japanese scientists reported their findings about RNA interference in Nature1  Although their work concerned “mechanisms” that involve “fine-tuning and networking of complex suites of gene activity, thereby specifying cellular physiology and development,” they took advantage of opportunities to speculate about how these complex systems came to be.  Teleological language is supposed to be verboten in Darwinian explanations, but it’s hard to avoid: “the core PIWI and piRNA machinery might have evolved to produce small RNAs and silence targets by different strategies,” they said.  They also speculated on how silencing RNAs might have originated in plants.  Phrases might evolve and could be evolutionary intermediates seasoned their speculation.  In one sentence, “It is possible that such an adaptive switch could also occur,” the word occur substituted for an unspecified lucky outcome of mindless chance.  They also stated flatly that “Argonaute proteins have diversified over evolutionary timescales, evolving a range of functions.”  As an encore, they claimed, “Such changes might have contributed to many processes, including human evolution” – even though they were the only humans in the room.
  10. Freak show:  A new book is out, Freaks of Nature: What Anomalies Tell Us About Development and Evolution by Mark Blumberg (Oxford, 2009).  Jerry Coyne was quick to jump on it and assure readers of Nature that orthodox Darwinism is safe.2    Blumberg, an advocate of evo-devo, argues that genetics only plays a minor role in evolution.  Coyne enjoyed some things about the book, but stood religiously with the old guard: “In his anxiety to boost the status of evo-devo in the pantheon of evolutionary subdisciplines, Blumberg has short-changed orthodoxy,” he said.  “Not only does the traditional view of evolution explain far more than he allows, but Blumberg shapes his own vision of development to inflate its challenge to neo-Darwinism.
  11. Braining the mind:  Which came first, the brain or language?  If language, it would be too shifty a platform for natural selection to work on, argued three psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists in PNAS.3  Darwin to the rescue: “The genetic basis of human language acquisition and processing did not coevolve with language, but primarily predates the emergence of language.  As suggested by Darwin, the fit between language and its underlying mechanisms arose because language has evolved to fit the human brain, rather than the reverse.”  Note: they did not claim this was the origin of the proverb, “use it or lose it.”
  12. Gunning the governor:  How can you overcome the anti-evolutionary force of “stabilizing selection,” a force that tries to keep genomes stable?  Harvard evolutionary biologists Bedford and Hartl tackled that conundrum in PNAS.  “It is generally assumed that stabilizing selection promoting a phenotypic optimum acts to shape variation in quantitative traits across individuals and species,” they began.  “Although gene expression represents an intensively studied molecular phenotype, the extent to which stabilizing selection limits divergence in gene expression remains contentious.”  To provide relief from contention, they invented a “theoretical framework for the study of stabilizing and directional selection using data from between-species divergence of continuous traits.”  They used Brownian motion as an analogue – that continuous random jiggling of particles visible under a microscope.  Their model first showed that “gene-expression divergence is substantially curtailed by stabilizing selection.”  That could be bad for Darwin.  So they tweaked some parameters and got better results: These findings highlight the power of natural selection to shape phenotype, even when the fitness effects of mutations are in the nearly neutral range.”
  13. Darwinian altruism?  No problemo:  Human altruism has been one of the most challenging phenomena to explain by evolution.  Why would natural selection favor a soldier jumping on a grenade to save his friends, or an elderly woman giving money for the relief of poor Africans she will never see?  It seems these and a thousand other actions could not possibly help spread the genes of the altruists.  Not a problem, claim Fletcher and Doebeli, writing “A simple and general explanation for the evolution of altruism” for the Royal Society.4  Kin selection is no longer a requirement, they claimed.  In their model, “even suicidal aid can theoretically evolve without help ever being exchanged among genetically similar individuals.”  Wow; how is that?  Deploying some mathematics and game theory, they rigged a “theoretical framework” and then proposed a thought experiment using bacteria (not humans) whose genes produce some “common good” (presumably, preservation of the group).  They assumed this common good could be produced by gene regulation pathways.  If the altruism gene gets assorted among members of the group, individuals possessing it can be preserved even if some commit suicide.  The whole problem reduces, therefore, to how genes that favor altruism get sorted in a population.  Their model, and others, depend on certain assumptions: that genes determine altruistic behavior, and that they know what fitness is.  It’s all theoretical: “Put bluntly,” they said in conclusion, “based on the concept of assortment, we would be able to fully understand the evolution of cooperation in a world in which the concepts of kin and group selection are absent.”  They did not explain how concepts evolve, but they must have cooperated on the paper – maybe taking their cues from bacteriaq.  They also did not test their ideas with experiments – e.g., throwing themselves on the railroad tracks to protect a fallen comrade, or giving money to help North Korean refugees.  Undoubtedly it would be difficult to link such actions to the particular genes when some humans do it and others don’t.
As a footnote, Darwin is even being invoked by astronomers.  Martin Rees wrote in Nature last week,5
Darwin closes On the Origin of Species with these famous words: ‘whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning, forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.’  This ‘simple’ beginning--the young Earth, orbiting a rather ordinary star--is itself very complicated, geologically and chemically.  Astronomers aim to probe further back and set our entire solar system in a broader expanse of space and time.
Whether we are really approaching an understanding, or just fooling ourselves by limiting our explanatory resources to natural causes, is a lively debate among philosophers and theologians – but not scientists, who presume by default that they do understand.  They are scientists, aren’t they?
1.  Siomi and Siomi, “Insight: On the road to reading the RNA-interference code,” Nature 457, 396-404 (22 January 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature07754.
2.  Jerry Coyne, “Evolution’s Challenge to Genetics,” Nature 457, 382-383 (22 January 2009) | doi:10.1038/457382a.
3.  Chater, Riali and Christiansen, “Restrictions on biological adaptation in language evolution,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print January 21, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807191106.
4.  Fletcher and Doebeli, “A simple and general explanation for the evolution of altruism,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Volume 276, Number 1654 / 07 January 2009, pp 0962-8452, 10.1098/rspb.2008.0829.
Sometimes the Darwinian silliness comes in so fast we have no choice but to provide snippets of it.  Darwinians really, really need to take some classes in philosophy of science.  Maybe they would understand the deeper issues and controversies about scientific explanation.  If you think scientific explanation must relate to truth about the world, it is highly doubtful that is even attainable through science.  Van Fraasen does not even believe that explanation is even a part of science – this after decades of debates between empiricists and theoreticians over what constitutes an explanation.  Consider the strong possibility that the “scientific explanations” in these articles have no more validity than a bedtime story dressed up in highfalutin jargon.  Scientific realists, who believe their explanations provide valid knowledge about reality, have a very difficult task defending that position in this post-Kuhn intellectual climate.  Without the connection, though, they have no claim to epistemic privilege.
    Somehow, the art of storytelling has become honored practice in our scientific institutions.  Look at these waffly, wobbly, insipid excuses for scientific explanations.  The one about altruism is as evil as it is stupid.  Can you imagine the reaction of fellow soldiers in Iraq to the sacrifice of their friend Ross McGinnis (see L.A. Times), if they were told that Ross did what he did only because he got the altruism gene in his genome by chance, just like it had “emerged” in some bacterium by chance in a senseless, godless, material world?  Yet that is exactly what these armchair storytellers said.  If it makes the Darwinists comfortable to invent such fantasies, and then pat themselves on the back that they somehow “understand the world” better thanks to “Darwinian thinking,” you have found no better candidates for the label CLUELESS.  It never enters their thought processes that their explanation cannot possibly be right.  Why?  Because it undermines their own credibility.  Reason disappears.  They were hardwired to publish that paper because they inherited the CLUELESS gene.  It forced them to become Darwinian storytellers.  They could not discern this because CLUELESS produces a mental illness (the Yoda Complex).
    We’ve given you a Baker’s dozen of examples to illustrate that evolution is as malleable and ductile as Gumby.  It can fit any possible combination of observations or theoretical conflicts.  Darwinists like to call this explanatory power.  We call it busy work for storytellers.  Storytelling is highly prized in Darwinian circles – within limits.  As long as you never stray outside the boundaries of purposeless, undirected causes, you will have a blossoming sinecure career as A Scientist.  Weep for Francis.  He brought home the Bacon only to have it rot while his heirs gorged on junk food in front of the boob tube.
Next headline on:  Evolutionary TheoryDumb Ideas
  Squid eye beats Zeiss, from 01/29/2007.  Some good cell stories that month, too.

For His Birthday, Darwin Loses His Tree   01/22/2009    
Jan 22, 2009 — The “tree of life” is the central icon of Darwinism.  Charles Darwin’s only illustration in the Origin of Species was a drawing of organisms descending from a common ancestor in a branching tree pattern.  It has been reproduced, expanded, embellished and decorated into a primal symbol of what science believes about biology.  Why, then, are The Telegraph and New Scientist cutting it down?  “Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life” is the title of the latter, and the former says, “Charles Darwin’s tree of life is ‘wrong and misleading’, claim scientists.”
    These articles are notable not just for their timing (just three weeks before the international celebrations of Darwin’s 200th birthday), but for undermining three claims about evolutionary biology: one, that Darwin is just a small part of an evolutionary theory that has progressed far beyond Darwin’s own beliefs, and two, that evolutionary theory has no weaknesses that deserve to be taught to students.  Right now in Texas, evolutionists are seeking to strike down the “strengths and weaknesses” line in the state’s science framework on the basis that evolution is a fact (see Texans for Better Science Education and “All Eyes on Texas” in Evolution News).  A third idea undermined by these articles is that only creationists think there are weaknesses with Darwin’s theory.
    The scientists complaining about the tree of life are not creationists.  We’ve heard from them before: Bapteste and Doolittle wrote two years ago in PNAS that the tree of life is a myth (02/01/2007).  In addition, The Telegraph quoted Dr. John Dupre, philosopher of biology at Exeter University, saying “If there is a tree of life it’s a small irregular structure growing out of the web of life.”  The article claims that other scientists have axe in hand: “Having uprooted the tree of unicellular life biologists are now taking their axes to the remaining branches.”  Bapteste acknowledges it sounds scary at first, but sees the conceptual revolution as a chance for biologists to free their minds.
    Doolittle downplayed the revolution a little: “We should relax a bit on this,” he said.  “We understand evolution pretty well it’s just it is more complex than Darwin imagined.  The tree isn’t the only pattern.”  Maybe he is not wanting to play the role of revolutionary.  Dupre, however, is wielding his axe with gusto: “It’s part of a revolutionary change in biology.  Our standard model of evolution is under enormous pressure.”  He envisions an evolutionary model full of mergers and collaborations, not a branching tree.  The article then quotes Michael Rose, an evolutionary biologist at UC Irvine, saying, “The tree of life is being politely buried – we all know that.”  The public apparently doesn’t know that.  He went on with a more dramatic statement: “What’s less accepted is our whole fundamental view of biology needs to change.
    Like bombshells increasing in intensity, the article went on to admit that Darwin’s theory has been “no stranger to controversy.”  Pro-Darwin scientists must gag on this last line: “It has played a key role in the much larger debate with creationists who are convinced life on Earth is so complex it could only have come about from intelligent design – in other words, the hand of God.”  This after Bapteste said, “The tree of life was useful.  It helped us to understand evolution was real.  But now we know more about evolution it’s time to move on.”  This implies that useful things can be false.  One must also ask, “useful to whom” and “to what extent are conclusions drawn from false premises reliable?”
    The New Scientist piece is lengthier.  The cover shouts, “Darwin Was Wrong: Cutting Down the Tree of Life” displayed against a picture of a tree.  This is quite a turnabout for this usually staunchly pro-Darwin magazine, which had just published last month a list of the best evidences for evolution from 2008.  To be sure, it does not question the idea of evolution or common ancestry, but it did give Bapteste and Doolittle favorable coverage.  Quoting Bapteste that “We have no evidence that the tree of life is a reality,” Graham Lawton (features editor of New Scientist) agreed this is revolutionary stuff: “That bombshell has even persuaded some that our fundamental view of biology needs to change.
    The article discussed the history of this major controversy.  It came to a head in 2006, Lawton reported, with the discovery of pervasive horizontal gene transfer (HGT) between organisms – “everything from E. coli to elephants.”  Not all scientists agree: “The debate remains polarised today.”  Some scientists believe a tree signal can still be discerned in the genes.  But the fact that there is a controversy supports the claim of Texans for Better Science Education that there are strengths and weaknesses in evolutionary theory that should not be shielded from students.
    “Meanwhile, those who would chop down the tree of life continue to make progress,” Lawton continued.  Would he end with a victory for the traditional Darwinian consensus?  Not by page 2 of 4: “Surprisingly, HGT also turns out to be the rule rather than the exception in the third great domain of life, the eukaryotes.”  He investigated the tree-scrambling theory of endosymbiosis – the engulfing of one organism by another, a kind of Hegelian dialectic in biology.  By page 3, Lawton was offering rebuttals and counter-rebuttals.  At the end of the page it appeared to be a standoff with Darwin still the winner by the slightest of half-time leads:

Nobody is arguing – yet – that the tree concept has outlived its usefulness in animals and plants.  While vertical descent is no longer the only game in town, it is still the best way of explaining how multicellular organisms are related to one another – a tree of 51 per cent, maybe.  In that respect, Darwin’s vision has triumphed: he knew nothing of micro-organisms and built his theory on the plants and animals he could see around him.
    Even so, it is clear that the Darwinian tree is no longer an adequate description of how evolution in general works.  “If you don’t have a tree of life, what does it mean for evolutionary biology?” asks Bapteste.
It means evolution is still true but the tree metaphor has problems – that’s all, Lawton intimated.  Relax; “Both he [Bapteste] and Doolittle are at pains to stress that downgrading the tree of life doesn’t mean that the theory of evolution is wrong – just that evolution is not as tidy as we would like to believe. Some evolutionary relationships are tree-like; many others are not.”
    But that was just the lull before the next battering ram.  Page 4 ends on the side of the revolution.  He quotes Dupre and Rose arguing that our fundamental view of biology needs to change.  If this is a bad time to demote Darwin, so be it: “Biology is vastly more complex than we thought, he [Rose] says, and facing up to this complexity will be as scary as the conceptual upheavals physicists had to take on board in the early 20th century.  If he is right, the tree concept could become biology’s equivalent of Newtonian mechanics: revolutionary and hugely successful in its time, but ultimately too simplistic to deal with the messy real world.
    Two sidebars illustrate empirical problems with the tree.  Hybridization and “natural chimeras” found in living examples show that genetic information can cross lineages.  This scrambles any attempt to find a common ancestry.  The last word goes to a Graham Syvanen, whose experiments showed that sea squirts appear to have unrelated branches of ancestral genes.  “We’ve just annihilated the tree of life,” he exclaimed.  “It’s not a tree any more, it’s a different topology entirely.  What would Darwin have made of that?
Insult to Injury:  In an unrelated piece in Newsweek, Sharon Begley attempted a “renaissance of heresy” – supplying evidence that Lamarckism might be right after all.  What would Darwin have made of that?  “Alas, poor Darwin,” her article began.  The birthday party is not going well.  Whether or not Lamarckism is justifiable to explain the evidence she presented, “the last word on inheritance and evolution has not been written,” she concluded.
Talk about a gift in time.  Texans for Better Science Education should mass-produce reprints of these articles and give them to everyone on the school board, everyone in the audience, and put posters with quotes on the wall.  No weakness in Darwin’s theory?  No debate over evolution?  No controversy?  Just a bunch of disguised creationists with religious motivations trying to throw rotten tomatoes at our beloved statue of Darwin?
    Don’t underestimate the significance of this revolution.  Without a tree of life, Darwin’s central doctrine is undermined.  The tree of life metaphor represented Darwin’s attempt to unify all of biology into an explanatory framework.  If we don’t know who is related to whom, and what came from what, all hope of unifying biology in a law-driven, naturalistic framework is called into doubt.  Doolittle and Bapteste talk about a web of life, but that’s creationism.  A web has no root.  The information is all there; it is just shared.  Where did the information come from?  Darwin said it all had a common origin in a warm little pond, took root, and branched progressively outward into a glorious tree.  If that metaphor is being replaced by a web, where is the designing spider?
    There are other problems.  They pulled a coup but provided no new administration.  They cut down the tree but still want to use the lumber.  Sorry; it’s too rotten for anything but firewood.  There is no Einstein on the horizon to rescue biology from its empirical catastrophe.  The comparison to physics in the early 20th century is apt, but analogies are always imperfect.  It is doubtful Darwin could retain the honor of a Newton if his core belief has been falsified.  No fig Newtons on this tree.  Notice also that neither Darwin nor the revolutionary brigade of evolutionary biologists has a clue where complexity comes from (re-read the 10/29/2004 entry).  Phillip Johnson hammered the Darwinists for years for failing to provide evidence that natural selection had the creative power to build eyes, wings, and complex organs.  An explanation for that is just as lacking in the words of these revolutionaries.  Where are they going to get the genetic information to build eyes and wings?  From horizontal gene transfer?  From hybridization?  From symbiosis?  Come on; you cannot get blood out of a turnip.  Information can only be shared and modified if it is already present.  Intelligent causation still stands as the best explanation for the origin of specified complexity in nature.
    Meanwhile, the tree goes on among those who don’t know a revolution has occurred.  Origins Blog, Science Magazine’s running tribute to Darwin, reported how Cambridge University projected Darwinian images on the facade of the building.  Amid church bells and lights, did anyone catch the irony of their caption: ‘Above, a graying Darwin ponders the tree of life....”  He looked very sad.
    It’s amusing to read the comments to the New Scientist article.  One reader worried that the article would invite creationists to lampoon evolution said, “You know that wall of Science articles (mostly NS) at the Creationist Museum NewScientist published an article about?  This cover [with “Darwin Was Wrong” over a tree] will probably be the A1 sized, gilt and framed centerpiece before the week is out.”  And your point is?  Why not?  Gnashing of teeth does not change the facts.  We think it would look especially nice to the right of an A1-size poster of National Geographic’s Nov 2004 cover, “Was Darwin Wrong?”

Update 01/23/2009: The vote on the Texas proposal to retain the “strengths and weaknesses” provision in the state science standards was a tie (7-7) yesterday.  This means it was defeated.  This vote therefore falls within a trend of many votes and court decisions about academic freedom on the teaching of origins that were defeated by the narrowest of margins, like 4-3 in the Louisiana balanced-treatment case, or by one lone judge (as with Judge Jones in Dover, Pennsylvania).  Reporters ran to their offices declaring this a “big victory” for evolution and a defeat for “creationists” (actually, a motley group of Darwin doubters and supporters of academic freedom).  Robert Roy Britt in Live Science, for instance, announced that “A decision Thursday by the Texas State Board of Education is a big defeat for proponents of creationism and others who would like to see evolution presented in school as a weak theory that has viable competing alternatives.”  He continued, “The tie means the measure was defeated, so evolution can continue to be taught as the very strong scientific theory that it is.”  He crowed that “evolution is about as solid a theory as there is.  The idea that all creatures have evolved, and that humans are descended from other primates, is supported by evidence from various fields.”  Advocates of the “strengths and weakness” language, he said, “are people with religious and political agendas” (implying no such motivations or agendas on the other side, a common way the pro-evolutionists spin the issue as science vs. religion, though very involved politically themselves).
    It would seem that scientific evidence of weaknesses in evolution, even from secular sources as presented by Bapteste and Doolittle, will henceforth be disallowed in Texas schools after two decades of the successful “strengths and weaknesses” policy.  However, after most of the reporters left the room, the board continued to discuss policies related to the teaching of evolution.  Two other votes by the school board, passed by large margins, affirmed that students should learn to analyze and evaluate scientific evidence for evolution (see Evolution News #1, #2, and #3).  Dr. John West of the Discovery Institute called this “one step back, two steps forward” for those wanting to keep the controversies over evolution open to scrutiny.  “The new evolution standards are a huge advance over the previous language, and are a great victory for parents, teachers, and students who want good science education in the state of Texas,” he said, chiding the reporters who rushed to judgment.
Look how close these votes can get: seven to seven!  If you don’t get involved, and speak out, the liars in the Darwin Party, with the power of the media and their political action committees, will continue to spin this issue their way and push their agenda.  Read the commentary from 12/16/2008 again to realize again just how lopsided the reporting is, and how intolerant the Darwinists are.  It is literally shocking.  It is past time for righteous indignation.  Take that indignation to the point of driving the lying rascals out of the castle they usurped from the citizens (02/01/2007 commentary).  The Darwiniacs worship their idol but don’t listen to him.  He said, “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question”—Charles Darwin.  Who are the real followers of that intuitively-obvious, scientifically-sound principle?  You would think the scientific institutions would immortalize those words in stone and embed them in their P&P Manuals, but no!  It takes morally upright citizens to hold their feet to the fire of what should be their own core values.  Incredible.
Exercise:  Which logical fallacy is committed in the following statement: “You oppose the scientific institutions on this issue.  You are obviously anti-science.”
Next headline on:  DarwinEducationIntelligent Design
Reader’s Digress:  The February National Geographic is hitting homes with its cover story on Darwin.  Irony of ironies, the two-article Darwin celebration is followed by “Escape from North Korea,” a chilling account of the indescribable horror refugees face trying to flee Kim Jong Il’s hideous dystopia, which lies in the phylogeny of Stalin’s hideous dystopia, whose founder was converted to atheism by Darwin’s little book (which Marx so admired).

Minerals Can Fool Astrobiologists   01/21/2009    
Jan 21, 2009 — Look at this picture on National Geographic News.  Looks alive, doesn’t it?  It’s only a mineral.  The article contains a gallery of five micrographs of minerals that form curvy crystals.  They’re called biomorphs (a word simply meaning life-like shapes).
    “Until now scientists had thought rounded crystals, such as those found in seashells and bones, could only be made by living organisms,” the caption for picture one says.  “In such a case, fossilized curves in rocks from early Earth or even other planets would seem to be sure signs of life.”  The new crystals generated from carbonates by scientists in Spain, however, curve and twist like DNA and other biological forms.  They bring to mind the tantalizing forms in the Martian meteorite that launched the science of Astrobiology (01/07/2005, 01/28/2005).  The caption for picture five says, “by creating biomorphs such as the one above, the University of Granada’s Garcma-Ruiz and colleagues have put a serious dent in theories that rounded crystals are definitive signs of life.”
    Nature mentioned the work with a little more cautious language: “The work opens the way for new approaches to the synthesis of biological and biomimetic materials, and to the exclusion of false positives when looking for life-like forms in poorly characterized environments.”

1.  Research Highlights: “Crystal growth: getting their morph on,” Nature 457, 360 (22 January 2009) | doi:10.1038/457360a.
The shapes have no more relation to life than a statue of Robert E. Lee to the actual general.  It goes to show how people can see what they wish to see if not careful.  This year there is an epidemic of delusional people looking into their crystal balls and seeing the prophet Darwin.  Help them face reality.  It just might lower your taxes.
Next headline on:  BiomimeticsOrigin of Life
Feather Evolution Proved?   01/21/2009    
Jan 21, 2009 — Another claim of feather evolution was reported in PNAS.1  Creationists have long claimed that the evolution of feathers from reptilian scales is an intractable problem for Darwinists (example: 1994 article from Creation magazine).  Does the paper provide incontrovertible proof that feathers had evolved in dinosaurs before birds took flight in the air?
    Beipiaosaurus, a therizinopod theropod, discovered in the Liaoning province of China, was announced in 1999.  The latest paper by the discoverer Xing Xu discusses a new feather type found in a second specimen.  Xing Xu claims that all the intermediate steps in feather evolution predicted in a 1999 model by R. O. Prum (Natural History Museum, University of Kansas)2  have now been filled in: “Although the EBFFs [elongated broad filamentous feathers] in the basal therizinosaur Beipiaosaurus differ from the predicted stage I morphology in some features, such as their somewhat planar form, their discovery nevertheless documents an unbranched feather morphology in nonavian theropods and thus completes the array of fossil evidence for the morphological series predicted by the developmental models.”
    Summaries of the paper can be found on Live Science and the BBC News.  One of the main points Xu et al made was that these “integumentary structures” could never have been used for flight.  Beipiaosaurus was 7 feet long, after all, and some therizionsaurs reached 40 feet.  Also, the feather impressions were found only along the head, neck, torso and tail.  He proposed instead that they were used for mating displays.
    Speculations about the origin of feathers go way back (10/30/2002).  Thomas Huxley in the 1800s speculated about the origin of birds from dinosaurs.  The story has become more complex than a simple line from one to the other.  A bewildering array of specimens defies any neat, uncontroversial classification.
Update 01/22/2009: After this entry was posted, news of another “feathered dinosaur” was found on National Geographic News.  This specimen, Anchiornis huxleyii (named for Thomas Huxley who first suggested a dinosaur-to-bird link), is the smallest of all.  The purported feathers on this specimen, which cover the body and head, are apparently too indistinct to classify.  Its long forearms suggests that it was capable of flying or gliding.  Its estimated age seems close to that of Archaeopteryx.  Xing Xu’s paper calls it a “maniraptoran dinosaur” but whether the maniraptorans should be called “dinosaurs” at all seems open to revision.3   
1.  Xing Xu, Xiaoting Zheng and Hailu You, “A new feather type in a nonavian theropod and the early evolution of feathers,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS January 20, 2009 vol. 106 no. 3 832-834, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0810055106.
2.  Abstract available from PubMed.
3.  The maniraptoran clade, which includes the true birds, was invented in 1986.  Maniraptorans typically have long forearms (like bird wings) and are so classified by the arbitrary rule “all dinosaurs closer to modern birds than to the ornithomimids.”  Since the grouping includes many extinct species known only from skeletal features, some with faint “feather-like impressions,” and scientists disagree on the salient characteristics among mosaics of traits, the placement of this or that fossil in the group, or the status of the group itself, appears subjective.
Here at CEH, we respect empirical evidence and believe in following the evidence where it leads.  There are some strange aspects to this story, however, that should lead any observer to avoid jumping to conclusions. 
  1. The only “feathered” dinosaur specimens come from the Liaoning Province of China.  Therizinopods from North America do not have the integumentary structures.  The rebuttal is that the fossils from Liaoning have exceptional preservation.  But so do other areas in the world, like Germany (see the important 03/15/2006 entry).  Why are none found elsewhere?
  2. The “Feathered dinosaur” fossils all come from the Yixian formation in China and all began surfacing in the 1990s.  Archaeopteryx has been known since the time of Darwin.  And why is the same scientist, Xing Xu, so personally involved in these revelations?  A diversity of independent discoverers would be healthy.
  3. China has strong motivation to find spectacular fossils.  Workers in the fossil quarries know that spectacular finds bring more money.
  4. Western evolutionists have strong motivation to link dinosaurs with birds.  Recall the rush to judgment National Geographic made over Archaeoraptor that embarrassed them when it was found by Xing Xu to be a hoax.
  5. The word feather is being used carelessly.  These are elongated fibers, if anything – nothing like the pennate feathers on birds with closed vanes, linked by a complex interlocking system of barbs and barbules.
  6. The phylogeny of Beipiaosaurus and other therizinopods is controversial.  Every once in awhile the family tree gets rearranged.
  7. The presumed feathers could be artifacts of the fossilization process at Liaoning.  Some have proposed they are flayed fibers of skin collagen.
  8. The earliest-claimed “feathered dinosaur” Sinosauropteryx remains controversial (see the pro-Darwinist Wikipedia entry).  Scientists are not sure if the “feathers” are flayed collagen and where this species fits in the evolutionary tree (05/23/2007, 01/09/2008).
  9. The integumentary structures had nothing to do with flight.  They probably did not provide insulation, either.  It is not clear what “evolutionary advantage” they played, if anything.  The hypothesis that they were used for mating displays is just that – a hypothesis.  How can one test it on an extinct animal?
  10. Original papers on these feathered-dinosaur claims usually describe them as “protofeathers” or “integumentary structures” leaving some doubt about what they really were.  The ones with unambiguous feathers are arguably true birds, not dinosaurs.
  11. The only other part of the world with well-preserved feathers is Germany, where Archaeopteryx was found.  This was a true bird capable of powered flight.  It possessed asymmetrical, pennaceous feathers.  Archaeopteryx, furthermore, is placed earlier than the so-called feathered dinosaurs.
  12. Artist reconstructions tend to get carried away with exaggerating the integumentary structures to look like feathers.  Judge from the fossils, not from the artwork.
  13. Of the 21 “feathered dinosaur” species listed by Wikipedia, all have problems either in classification or in identifying the integumentary structures as feathers.  Their list includes Velociraptor but the only evidence is the putative instance of quill knobs on one specimen (see 09/22/2007).  A careful reading of the article shows only inference based on evolutionary thinking: “The fact that the ancestors of Velociraptor were feathered and possibly capable of flight long suggested to paleontologists that Velociraptor bore feathers as well, since even flightless birds today retain most of their feathers.”  The article also entertains the possibility that they were secondarily flightless.  Their list also includes Juravenator, which had only scales, not feathers (see Mr. Dinofeather Xing Xu himself waffle about this in the 03/15/2006 entry).
  14. Some of the “feathered dinosaurs” on the list may have devolved from birds and become flightless, like the kiwi is believed to have become secondarily flightless.  This has been proposed for Epidexipteryx, for example (see 10/22/2008), and Caudipteryx.
  15. A careful look at the list shows that feathers are inferred among many of them – this, again, based on evolutionary assumptions.  “Inferred” feathers are imaginary feathers (06/13/2007, 07/09/2008).  We must go with the actual feathers found on specimens that are clear of hoax suspicions.  The ones marked with “pennaceous feathers” (not “pennaceous feathers inferred,” as with Velociraptor) are arguably all birds that could fly or, as in the case of Caudipteryx, lost the ability to fly.
  16. Are there really 21 distinct species on the Wikipedia list, or is this a manufactured classification based on evolutionary assumptions?  How much overlap is there?  Sinocalliopteryx, for instance, is described as a larger version of Huaxiagnathus.  Some had no feathers at all but were only inferred to have feathers based on their presumed evolutionary position.  As with human evolution, where fossils could be reclassified as clearly human (Neanderthal) or clearly ape (Lucy), an outside observer could reclassify all the members as either birds or reptiles.  The presence of a consensus among doctrinaire Darwinists does not necessarily correlate with truth.
  17. Placing the known specimens into an evolutionary sequence is a human activity that does not derive objectively from the bones themselves (see 10/06/2004).
  18. Where are the skeptics?  Science thrives on controversy.  Skeptics of dinosaur-to-bird evolution like Alan Feduccia (10/10/2005) and Storrs Olson rarely get a hearing in the Darwin Chorus.  When their views are mentioned at all, it is usually just to drown them out with the chorus.  Remember Storrs Olson said in 2001, “They want to see feathers . . . so they see feathers.  This is simply an exercise in wishful thinking” (03/13/2001).  That doesn’t make for good press in the newspapers.
What is clearly needed is a skeptical outside look at this list and the claims made about them.  Even under the most optimistic scenario from within the evolutionary camp, they still have to account for the origin of flight.  It is a huge leap to assume that fibers of collagen, whether for display or warmth, became flight feathers.  For one thing, the structural differences between integumentary fibers and true flight feathers is very large, both in how they grow and where they grow.  For another, the entire anatomy of a flying reptile would have had to simultaneously evolve: new lung system, new proportions, new organs, new embryological development, and new behaviors.  Do evolutionists have anything but competing just-so stories for how this happened? (10/24/2005).  One group says they practiced jumping out of trees (09/22/2006).  Another group says they ran along slopes with arms outstretched (12/22/2003, 01/25/2008).  This gets comical real fast (click the Tweety bird).
    Without the “evolutionary thinking” that has become the mind-altering drug of choice among today’s paleontologists, we would simply recognize that our present world is impoverished of many complex and interesting animals that once lived on this planet.  There would not be this insatiable lust to link them into trees to honor their idol, Charles Darwin.  However the activity makes them feel good, it is a hallucination, not an observation.
Next headline on:  BirdsDinosaursFossilsEvolution
  Three years ago, radical Darwinists stopped a gentle teacher in a rural town from presenting both sides of the Darwin vs. design debate in an elective philosophy class.  Read the shocking tale in the 01/25/2006 entry.

Scientists Yank Obama’s Chain   01/20/2009    
Jan 20, 2009 — As President Obama takes office today, having said he will restore science to its rightful place, he will have the scientific community anxious to get their agenda on his table.  Nature News said, “Scientific groups are actively pushing their argument that modernizing the nation’s scientific infrastructure could help create the skilled workforce needed to address challenges such as global warming.”  His newly-chosen secretary of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, has promised to make that issue central in her tenure (see US News).  Nature also printed a commentary called, “Your inbox, Mr. President.”  In a swipe at the former administration, the subtitle read, “Rejuvenate the Environmental Protection Agency.  End the stem-cell ban.  Re-engage with the UN on climate change.  Six leading voices tell Nature what the new US president needs to do to move beyond the Bush legacy,” even though in his closing days in office Bush set aside the largest marine preserve in history.  The magazine did, however, include two issues from the Bush presidency that must continue: fighting AIDS, and preventing terrorists from building a nuclear bomb.  Nevertheless, they are clearly tantalized with the promised flow of dough from the left-leaning administration: “Science tipped to score in Obama cash stimulus,” wrote Jeff Tollefson in Nature News.  That’s what the British science journal had to say; the latest issue of the American journal Science said nothing about the new administration – yet.

Keep the redcoats out of the US treasury.  Whose money do they think this is?  No taxation without representation.
Next headline on:  Politics and Ethics
Reader’s Digress: “He [Darwin] changed the world fundamentally.  Along with those now fallen idols Marx and Freud, he accounts for the secularisation of western society.  Darwinism is the foundational theory of all atheistic, scientific and materialist doctrines and of the notion that everything is ultimately explicable and that there is nothing special about it – the self-denigration and self-hatred, the great ‘nothing but’ story.”  Find this quote in context at the Times Online UK.

Fossil Fumbles Damage Darwinism   01/19/2009    
Jan 19, 2009 — Three recent fossil finds are rearranging Darwin’s tree of life.  Pro-Darwinists will interpret this as pruning; Darwin skeptics will interpret it as uprooting. 

  1. Shark heads:  “The earliest known braincase of a shark-like fish has shown some assumptions about the early evolution of vertebrates are ‘completely wrong,’ experts say.  That’s what National Geographic said.  Read all about it: sharks are not more primitive compared to bony fish.  The situation is a lot more complicated.  “This is the first real movement in this part of the evolutionary tree in the last hundred years,” one scientist commented.  The BBC News write-up, however, did not point out the problems.  It merely reported that the fossil is “shedding light on the evolution of jawed vertebrates.”
  2. Archaeopteryx, emu?:  Interpreters of the early bird Archaeopteryx have fallen into the bird camp and the reptile camp.  Score a point for the bird team: Science Daily reported on X-ray scanning of the fossil that shows its hearing bones were more bird-like than reptile-like.  It probably heard like a modern emu, they figure.
  3. Rolling stones:  Precambrian rocks have long been known to possess wiggly lines.  What are these trace fossils?  Without a body, it was hard to know.  Evolutionists eager to soften the Cambrian Explosion interpreted them as worm trails – the earliest examples of bilaterian (two-sided) animals.  That interpretation has come under fire with the discovery of giant living amoebas that can roll around and produce tracks very similar to those seen in the fossil record.  Both Science1 and Current Biology2 commented on the finding reported last month reported in Current Biology.3  None of them were optimistic.  It appeared that, at least in some cases, the hoped-for traces of complex multicellular life that might have lessened the impact of the Cambrian Explosion were in fact made by single-celled organisms.
A footnote on the third item: the original paper by Matz et al actually made things worse for the Darwinians.  The authors suggested that even the Ediacaran biota (08/19/2004, 01/05/2008), the strange plant-like things that preceded the explosion, were not multicellular organisms.  “Our observations also render indirect support to the highly controversial interpretation of the enigmatic Ediacaran biota of the late Precambrian as giant protists,” they said.  If so, it doesn’t suggest the Darwinists hoped the Ediacaran biota would provide transitional forms.  It only sharpens the concussion of the Cambrian explosion: because, except for sponge embryos found in the Precambrian, it means everything prior to the sudden appearance of virtually all the animal phyla consisted of single-celled microbes.
1.  Stefan Bengtson and Birger Rasmussen, “New and Ancient Trace Makers,” Science, 16 January 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5912, pp. 346-347; DOI: 10.1126/science.1168794.
2.  Jan Pawlowski and Andrew J. Gooday, “Precambrian Biota: Protistan Origin of Trace Fossils?,” Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 1, 13 January 2009, pp. R28-R30, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.11.003.
3.  M.V. Matz, T.M. Frank, N.J. Marshall, E.A. Widder and S. Johnsen, “Giant deep-sea protist produces bilaterian-like traces,” Curr. Biol. 18 (9 Dec 2008), pp. 18491854.
Watch for the release this year of a new documentary on the Cambrian Explosion.  The problem that should have falsified Darwinism in 1859 never went away.  Each new finding shouts that Darwinism has been defeated, and should be tossed into the dustbin of history.
    But the pro-Darwinists are unrepentant and stiffnecked.  Listen to what Sid Perkins said in the new Darwin-Birthday Bombast issue of Science News (Jan 31, 2009, 175:3, p. 30).  In an article bluffing that transitional forms are found all over the fossil record (only mentioning Tiktaalik and a particular salamander), he said this about the Cambrian:
And many stretches of the fossil record poorly represented in Darwin’s day – such as the Precambrian, an era before the Cambrian period (which began about 542 million years ago and is when much of life’s diversity apparently evolved) – are now more thoroughly populated.  Fortey notes: “For Darwin, the Precambrian was a complete mystery, whereas now we have a tremendously detailed narrative” for that era, much of it gathered in the past few decades.
The bluffing and misrepresentation in that paragraph is shocking and irresponsible.  “Apparently evolved” is pure question begging built on imagination.  Sure the Precambrian is “more thoroughly populated” – with microbes, but not with the transitional forms Darwin needed.  Science News, you know, has been a Darwin Party mouthpiece since its founding at the Scopes Trial, when it was a propaganda arm of the new ACLU that sued Tennessee (12/28/2005).  Even secular historians now admit that the whole Scopes affair was a sham to shame religious creationists in the media, which is the only thing the lurid sideshow accomplished.  Would you grant any credibility to scoundrels?
Next headline on:  FossilsEvolutionMedia
The Design of Life by William Dembski and Jonathan Wells (Foundation for Thought and Ethics, 2008) is a classy book in both content and delivery.  A solid case for design and a detailed critique of neo-Darwinism is presented from an intelligent design perspective.  The quality of the printing, glossy paper with great illustrations, makes this an attractive textbook (275 pp) suitable for high school or college classroom use.  Fully referenced, with glossary and large index, the book includes a CD of General Notes to amplify the printed material.  Laymen will learn a great deal about biology, genetics, fossils, evolutionary theory, specified complexity and the origin of life in this excellent compilation of design arguments.  Find it at the Design of Life website or at ARN.

Time for Mars Life Again   01/16/2009    
Jan 16, 2009 — Methane detection around Mars is giving new life to claims there is life on Mars. #1 and #2 explain why NASA scientists are looking to see if the methane can be explained geologically or biologically.  Some news sites, like The Sun, go over the top with claims life has been discovered.  Only the readers who look at the ending lines will realize there is skepticism about the claims.  The BBC News presented both biology and geology as possibilities.  See earlier reports on Mars methane from 03/30/2004, 11/14/2004 and 12/14/2004.

This can only mean one thing: it’s funding season again.  NASA helped distract attention from Clinton’s sins in 1996 with the whiz-bang press conference about life in the Martian meteorite.  That provided enough funds to launch the science of Astrobiology (04/17/2006, 08/06/2006).  They probably need a boost from Obama.  The safe money is on the geology (see sample rebuttal on  Earth’s methane is biogenic, but Titan’s is geological.  The question no one is asking is whether a geological origin suggests Mars is not as old as claimed (09/28/2004).  You can ask it, though.  Meanwhile, enjoy Wayne Stayskal’s cartoon.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyOrigin of Life
Monkey See, Darwin Do   01/15/2009    
Jan 15, 2009 — Is monkey imitation a clue to the evolution of human culture?  Science Daily thought so.  In an article adorned by a picture of macaques enjoying a hot spring, the title read, “Primate Culture Is Just A Stone’s Throw Away From Human Evolution, Study Finds.”
    The studious studiers were researchers at the Primate Research Center in Kyoto, Japan.  They discovered what children already know: monkey see, monkey do.  Lo and behold, the macaques learned a new behavior: stone-throwing.  This behavior was learned and passed on to the young.  The researchers looked beyond the stone-handling behavior of macaques and saw great achievements in science and literature just a stone’s throw ahead.  Keep the funding coming, because “Research on such transformation may shed light on the evolution of stone-tool use in early hominids” – our ancestors.
    Cave painting came next on the evolutionary timeline: the transition to a real human consciousness.  EurekAlert reported on a new book by anthropologist David Whitley, Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit.  By common agreement, the earliest cave paintings in France and Spain were already masterpieces.  “To grasp what drove these ancient artists to create these masterpieces, and to understand the origin of myth and religion, as Whitley explains, is to appreciate what makes us human.”  There’s some controversy over whether the first religion was shamanistic or not, but no controversy in the article about whether religion evolved.
    By the time recordkeeping evolved (see PNAS), the human brain had evolved ways to expand its memory indefinitely.  Human civilization came to full fruition.  We had an IRS.
Thought you needed a good belly laugh for the day.  Laugh harder by realizing they really believe this stuff.  You’re a glorified macaque, especially if you like sitting in a hot spring.  Or eating.  It’s obvious – similarities prove we all had monkey ancestors, and they had ancestors all the way bacteria.  Teary, it’s so backward.
    Speaking of cave paintings, here’s a book you should read on the subject that makes a lot more sense: The Cave Painting: A Parable of Science by Roddy Bullock.  It tells a fanciful tale that is all too true: a scientific establishment forcing its naturalistic worldview down the ear canals of students with utter disregard for the obvious.
Next headline on:  EvolutionEarly ManDumb Ideas
  Too little, too late: geologists admit that isochrons don’t always give reliable dates.  The 01/12/2005 entry explains that assumptions behind the technique are not reliable.  Ken Miller used to say in debates with creationists that isochron dates were rock solid because the technique was self-checking.  A team showed that isochrons can line up nicely but give dates that are geologically meaningless.

Darwinists Cannot Deny “Disturbing” Implications   01/15/2009    
Jan 15, 2009 — A common attitude among scientists is that they are not responsible for what people do with their discoveries.  Facts are facts, after all, and nuclear energy can be used to power a city as well as destroy it.  Is this a truism or a half-truth?  Are there cases where a scientist is responsible for what he or she proclaims as a fact about the world?
    In its continuing celebration of Darwin, Science magazine printed an article about “Darwin’s Originality” by Peter J. Bowler.1  This philosopher from Queen’s University of Belfast described how Darwin’s theory of evolution had “disturbing” ramifications.  “In this essay,” he began, “I argue that Darwin was truly original in his thinking, and I support this claim by addressing the related issue of defining just why the theory was so disturbing to his contemporaries.”  He used the word disturbing five more times.
    Bowler elaborated on what was most disturbing.  It’s not that Darwin invented or discovered evolution – evolutionary thinking was already in the air in Victorian Britain.  “Most thinkers—including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and [Robert] Chambers—took it for granted that the development of life on earth represents the unfolding of a coherent plan aimed at a predetermined goal,” he said.  Darwin was different.  Darwin attributed all the “unfolding” (which is what evolution means) to result from the environment.  His critics understood what this implied:

Darwin’s world view was profoundly different because he argued that the adaptation of populations to their local environment was the sole cause of transmutation.  Many people found it hard to see natural selection as the agent of either divine benevolence or of a rationally structured cosmic teleology.  Selection adapted species to an ever-changing environment, and it did so by killing off useless variations in a ruthless “struggle for existence.”  This did not seem the kind of process that would be instituted by a benevolent God, especially because its essentially “selfish” nature meant that a parasitic way of life was a perfectly natural adaptive response in some circumstances.
    More seriously for the idea of cosmic teleology, Darwin’s supposition that the production of the individual variants in a population was essentially undirected ruled out any possibility that evolution could be shaped by a predetermined developmental trend.  There was no obvious goal toward which it was aimed, and it did not produce an orderly pattern of relations between species.  The accusation that the theory depended on “random” variation indicated the concerns of his opponents on this score.  As Darwin himself made clear, variation was certainly caused by something (later identified as genetic mutations), but it was not aimed in any one direction and, thus, left adaptive evolution essentially open-ended.
Bowler delved into the history behind this idea, the responses of Darwin’s contemporaries, the battle over natural theology, the Victorian mindset, motivations and influences in Darwin’s life, the 19th-century debates on teleology vs the undirected character of natural selection, and the reluctance with which Darwinism became accepted in the scientific community.  The reader might be tempted to ask whether the discussion is merely academic.  If, after all, this is the way the world works, all Darwin was doing was lifting a corner of the veil.  This is reality.  Mankind will just to have to learn to deal with it.
    In his final section, “The Struggle for Existence,” Bowler is not so keen to let Darwin and the modern Darwinists off the hook with a “Get out of jail free” card just for being scientists.  In the first place, the Malthusian idea of struggle for existence, which was pervasive in Victorian England, could have been applied in different ways.  Bowler argues that Spencer applied it to individual effort to succeed.  “Much of what later became known as ‘social Darwinism’ was, in fact, Spencerian social Lamarckism expressed in the terminology of struggle popularized by Darwin,” he claimed.  What Darwin did, though, was make this struggle metaphor something ruthless and impersonal:
This point is important in the context of the charge raised by modern opponents of Darwinism that the theory is responsible for the appearance of a whole range of unpleasant social policies based on struggle.  Darwin exploited the idea of the struggle for existence in a way that was unique until paralleled by Wallace nearly 20 years later.  Their theory certainly fed into the movements that led toward various kinds of social Darwinism, but it was not the only vehicle for that transition in the late 19th century.  It did, however, highlight the harsher aspects of the consequences of struggle.  The potential implications were drawn out even more clearly when Galton argued that it would be necessary to apply artificial selection to the human race in order to prevent “unfit” individuals from reproducing and undermining the biological health of the population.  This was the eugenics program, and in its most extreme manifestation at the hands of the Nazis, it led not just to the sterilization but also to the actual elimination of those unfortunates deemed unfit by the state.  Did Darwin’s emphasis on the natural elimination of maladaptive variants help to create a climate of opinion in which such atrocities became possible?
    It has to be admitted that, by making death itself a creative force in nature, Darwin introduced a new and profoundly disturbing insight into the world, an insight that seems to have resonated with the thinking of many who did not understand or accept the details of his theory.
Darwin himself, of course, could not have known what was coming.  Lest anyone misunderstand, Bowler states clearly that “Darwinism was not ‘responsible’ for social Darwinism or eugenics in any simple way.”  In fact, some eugenicists and social Darwinists denied the mechanism of natural selection.  The Nazis did not want to believe that Aryans had evolved from apes.  There were a variety of views about evolution and the struggle for existence.  Nevertheless, Bowler is not ready to let Darwin off the hook so easily:
But by proposing that evolution worked primarily through the elimination of useless variants, Darwin created an image that could all too easily be exploited by those who wanted the human race to conform to their own pre-existing ideals.  In the same way, his popularization of the struggle metaphor focused attention onto the individualistic aspects of Spencer’s philosophy.
This brings us back to the original question: can scientists distance themselves from their findings?  Keep in mind that Darwinism goes beyond a discovery of facts about the living world.  The Origin did not really catalog any new facts of biology that were not already known.  What he did was put them together into “one long argument” that presented an entire history of life, a world view, that generated all the variety of living organisms via selfishness and struggle.  When any scientist proposes to change the way we think about the world, Bowler argues that he or she must be willing to take responsibility for the consequences.  Let’s listen to his closing paragraph, where he generalizes the Darwin saga to all of science.
Modern science recognizes the importance of Darwin’s key insights when used as a way of explaining countless otherwise mysterious aspects of the natural world.  But some of those insights came from sources with profoundly disturbing implications, and many historians now recognize that the theory, in turn, played into the way those implications were developed by later generations.  This is not a simple matter of science being “misused” by social commentators, because Darwin’s theorizing would almost certainly have been different had he not drawn inspiration from social, as well as scientific, influences.  We may well feel uncomfortable with those aspects of his theory today, especially in light of their subsequent applications to human affairs.  But if we accept science’s power to upset the traditional foundations of how we think about the world, we should also accept its potential to interact with moral values.
Let’s apply what Bowler just said to another current issue.  Robert Roy Britt wrote on January 6 in Live Science that man may be causing “Reverse evolution” by culling the biggest trophy animals out of populations.  Forward and reverse, however, only makes sense within a concept of progress.  “Survival of the smallest is not exactly what Darwin had in mind, but in some animals species, humans may be forcing a smaller-is-better scenario, and the ultimate outcome may be species demise.”  It’s a macho thing to go for the big trophy.  Britt seemed to dodge the question though, whether in evolutionary terms this is good or bad, though he spoke of elephant poaching as a “dastardly” form of selection.  His article relates to a paper in PNAS that shows “Human predators outpace other agents of trait change in the wild.”2  The authors warned that human trophy hunting eliminates the big animals, and “might imperil populations, industries, and ecosystems.”  National Geographic news chimed in, asking if hunters are speeding up the evolution of trophy prey.  It seems they can’t decide if evolution is going in forward or reverse.  Either way, there seemed to be an implicit call to do something moral about it.  One natural history museum curator said that sustainable management “requires that people stop preferentially removing the larger and most [fertile] animals from populations, and focus more on a strategy that preserves the historic size-structure of the species.”  He left it unexplained why a theory of undirected change over time in a struggle for existence and the pursuit of fitness would require one species to care about another species on which it does not depend; see the 11/21/2008 entry.
1.  Peter J. Bowler, “Darwin’s Originality,” Science, 9 January 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5911, pp. 223-226, DOI: 10.1126/science.1160332.
2.  Darimont et al, “Human predators outpace other agents of trait change in the wild,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Published online before print January 12, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0809235106.
First, regarding the hunting article, care for the ecology makes perfect sense to Christians, who believe humans are God’s stewards to care for the animals and plants, because they display God’s creativity and sovereignty.  It makes no sense in a Darwinian world view.  Trophy hunting just shows that humans are more fit.  Lots of animals get smaller through evolution.  So what?  If you believe in an undirected process, with no morals and values, who cares if the big bucks are on the decline?  Must be consistent.  No fair borrowing Christian ideals.  Remember what Fern Wickson told Nature? (11/09/2008) “If nature is somewhere that humans are not, we lose sight of the fact that we are just another species intimately intertwined in the complex web of biological systems on this planet.  However, if we place ourselves within a definition of nature, the definition then becomes essentially meaningless by extending to everything on Earth.”
    Now, regarding Bowler’s essay, wow.  Did you get that?  The Darwin Party officials usually turn beet red when anyone tries to link their beliefs to the Holocaust.  They became unglued when Expelled drew a connection.  Now, this philosopher, writing in Science, said the same thing.  Understand that Richard Weikart and the other commentators in the film did not make any kind of simplistic linkage.  They did not blame Darwin for the Holocaust, or say that Hitler’s primary motivation came from Darwin’s book, or any such thing.  They said that Darwin’s world view in which nature ruthlessly destroys the “unfit” in an unending struggle for existence was used by later political leaders to justify their atrocities as a rational outworking of the laws of nature.  That’s what Bowler is admitting here.  Come on, Eugenie and Ken and Barbara and all you other Darwin attack dogs: unleash your venom on this guy, too.  He doesn’t understand what a sweet, gentle, loving theory Darwinism is.
    Notice that Bowler called Darwinism a world view, not a scientific theory.  He spoke of Darwin’s supposition that the world operated in an undirected manner.  He depicted Darwin applying a metaphor of struggle in a particular way.  These are instances of the use of scientific rhetoric, not empiricism.  The rhetorical character of Darwin’s presentation of natural selection in The Origin has been described in an excellent interview by John Angus Campbell, PhD in Rhetoric, one of the founders of a post-Kuhnian discipline called the Rhetoric of Science.  The recorded interview is available from Access Research Network and is well worth watching and thinking about.  It will give you a whole new understanding of the Darwinian revolution.
    The slogan ideas have consequences is so commonplace, we won’t harp on it.  Instead, we’ll offer the hard core Darwinists a proposition.  We know you are never going to change your world view, but like it or not, you know that Darwinism was used by some of the worst despots in the 20th century to wipe out millions of people.  We know you don’t want that to happen again.  To save the world from the next Pol Pot, Mao or Stalin, how about joining with us in promoting Christianity as an antidote to the selfish tendencies of humans?  You don’t have to believe it, but certainly you can see in retrospect that mankind needs such a world view to provide a moral foundation for the life, liberty and happiness that you enjoy so much.  After all, even Richard Dawkins admitted he would rather live in a Christian society than a Darwinian one.  You guys are obligated to think Christianity provides fitness, because you believe religion evolved (05/27/2008, 10/26/2008).  So here’s our proposition: join a Christian missions team and help spread the gospel.  Save the world from Darwinism!
Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionPolitics and EthicsBible and Theology

New Baloney
cartoon      Subject: BIG LIE
by Brett Miller!
Click the icon.

Darwin Blogs on Origin of Life   01/14/2009    
Jan 14, 2009 — He may not blog himself, but Darwin has disciples who blog for him.  There’s bound to be a lot of blogging this year with Darwin’s 200th birthday next month and the 150th anniversary of the Origin of Species this November.  Science began a blog called Origins with some entries from their Jan 8 issue.  Two of them deal with a subject about which Darwin had very little to say: the origin of life.
    Carl Zimmer’s piece on the origin of life was made publicly available online from the January 8 issue of Science.1  He spent a few paragraphs reviewing Darwin’s rare comments about the origin of life (warm little pond and all), then dove into the pond to look around.
    Zimmer treated the origin of life optimistically with very little mention of intractable problems like homochirality, salt, competing cross-reactions, concentration of essential parts, and the origin of genetic information.  To Zimmer, life from chemistry comes in two easily-bridged steps, each demonstrated in the lab.  Of course, everything happens completely naturally via unguided processes – a requirement to get the Darwin imprimatur.
    First step: acquire lots of amino acids in a Miller-type lightning storm.  We know that Miller used the wrong atmosphere, and nothing happens in the presence of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, but there’s a workaround, he claimed.  The harmful nitrogen compounds that, unfortunately, form when the atmosphere is made more credible, can be soaked up by “buffering chemicals.”  Or, the necessary building blocks could have come special delivery by meteorites or around hydrothermal vents.  Whatever; “Raw materials were not an issue,” he reassured his readers.
    Then, you make RNA.  The old simple way (building the bases and sugars separately, joining them and adding phosphate), was too hard.  He found John Sutherland [U of Manchester] willing to suggest a more circuitous reaction pathway.  Sutherland hasn’t succeeded yet, but promised Zimmer “We’ve got the molecules in our sights.”  They might have even formed in warm little ponds, just like Darwin imagined.
    From there, it’s not a big conceptual leap to Step Two in Zimmer’s scenario: “The cell.”  Here he went to Harvard Medical School where Jack Szostak has cooked up a primitive cell membrane that is not a death trap (see the 04/11/2006 entry and the 01/17/2002 commentary).  Szostak claims his membrane lets the food in but keeps the RNA from leaking out (see 09/03/2004 for his earlier work).  All that’s needed are some hot and cold cycles, and presto – a living cell is within sight.  “Now Szostak is running experiments to bring his protocells closer to life,” Zimmer wrote.  “He is developing new forms of RNA that may be able to replicate longer molecules faster.  For him, the true test of his experiments will be whether his protocells not only grow and reproduce, but evolve.”  Once that happens, Darwin will take over from there.
    Zimmer pointed to another paper in Science last week that reported manufacture of a replicating RNA enzyme.2  Origins blogged on this, too, and it soon hit the news media.  The writeup by Robert Roy Britt (see Fox News) even claimed “Life As We Know It Nearly Created in Lab.”  The triumphant article began, “Some chemical reactions occurred about 4 billion years agoperhaps in a primordial tidal soup or maybe with help of volcanoes or possibly at the bottom of the sea or between the mica sheets – to create biology.”  That’s a lot of maybes.  In fact, Zimmer’s brief article used the word might nine times, could 15 times, may three times and emerged five times.

1.  Carl Zimmer, “On the Origin of Life on the Earth,” Science, 9 January 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5911, pp. 198-199, DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5911.198.
2.  Tracey Lincoln and Gerald Joyce, “Self-Sustained Replication of an RNA Enzyme,” Science, Published Online January 8, 2009, Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1167856.
Let’s first dispense with the latest fluff by Gerald Joyce.  His intelligently-designed RNA system has nothing to do with the origin of life.  A scientist wrote in and said that all he achieved was a joining (ligation) reaction, not a replication reaction.  Ligation is very common and normal for RNA chemistry.  Joyce just joined two short RNA molecules together; he did not replicate them.  To achieve anything relevant for life, Joyce would need to form (by chance) an RNA molecule 100 bases long or longer that could act as a template for its “antisense” copy, which in turn could be a template for its antisense copy that would replicate the original molecule.  Ligation is “mere chemistry,” our observer wrote.  Joyce’s experiment required intelligent input with a contrived environment (a beaker).  He interfered in ways a natural environment could not and would not, inserting his own “Goal-directed behavior, which includes the urge to have offspring – in short, a kind of awareness,” he said.  It is clear such things “are not related to the atomic world and its laws.”
    Joyce’s new RNA molecule also contributes nothing to explaining the origin of the genetic code.  It is useless and fragile without an intelligently-guided, artificial environment, and a role in a complex system like a living cell.  It performs no function.  It can’t do “any totally new tricks,” Joyce admitted.  Now read that Fox News article and stand aghast at the hubris of the reporter – “The ‘creatures’ – wait, we can’t call them that! – evolved, with some ‘species’ winning out.”  Wow, now we even evolved a little Malthus.  The molecules are battling it out for scarce resources.  Where did self-awareness sneak in?
    Speaking of winning out, you can’t win an intellectual game with a cheater.  How does Carl Zimmer and Science cheat?  Let us count the ways.  First, they withhold essential information.  They gloss over the falsifying difficulties and show-stoppers (see 07/11/2002 for 21 of them) that render their tall tales worthless.  A comparison of the 01/26/2008 and 02/15/2007 entries (to say nothing of our online book) reveals something of the magnitude of the problems.
    Second, they insulate themselves from critics.  Put them in the ring with a knowledgeable critic of origin-of-life studies and they would drop dead from fear before the first blow.  Instead, with their muscly critics safely tied up and gagged in the trailer, the wimps sweep the audience off their feet with a very artificial, one-sided circus act showing off their strength.  They call this the “scientific consensus.”
    Third, they associate their nonsense with Darwin to give it some kind of credibility.  Of course, they have to keep blowing hot air into the Darwin balloon to keep it from sagging, otherwise the public might laugh.  Darwin had nothing to contribute about the origin of life other than bald speculation.  Zimmer resurrects his corpse: “And if Darwin was alive today, he might well be willing to write a lot more about how life began.”  Big deal.  Words are cheap.  Facts of nature are recalcitrant.
    Fourth, and worst of all, they changed the rules of scientific engagement.  Now, speculation is the “in” thing – the wilder the better.  Historian of science Frederick Gregory (U of Florida) once investigated late 18th-century science contests and noted the insistence on verifiable evidence.  Typically, these contests would say something like, “Do not offer hypotheses; support your answer with FACTS.”  The early evolutionary speculations by Lamarck, Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus, and Robert Chambers were harshly criticized by the scientists of the day because of the speculative nature of their proposals.  What few seem to realize is that the Darwinian Revolution was largely a coup by those who wanted more freedom to speculate and still remain in the science club.  Darwin elevated the status of hypothesis in science, facts and evidence be hanged.
    Some leading philosophers of the day saw what Darwin was doing to science yet welcomed it (01/15/2004 commentary).  Others, like Adam Sedgwick (Darwin’s geology teacher), saw it and were outraged: “You have deserted the true method of induction!” he exclaimed in a scathing review of The Origin.  Scientists were for the most part not impressed with Darwin’s “science.”  Natural selection was largely dismissed for decades.  Where Darwin succeeded the most was in persuading his contemporaries, with his rhetoric and charm, to accept the general idea of evolution.  His scientific argument was like a Texas longhorn; a point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between.  He made the concept of evolution, though, seem scientific – a fallacy of glittering generalities.
    As a result, Darwin invited the Starving Storytellers into the Science Lab and became their patron saint (12/22/2003 commentary).  Out went the harsh requirements for facts and induction; in came the imaginative tales.  You cannot carry on a scientific discussion with someone who makes up a story to bandage every falsifying wound (05/30/2008).
    Oh, but you say, they have all kinds of lab evidence for their leaky fatbubbles (09/03/2004) and RNA worlds (07/11/2002).  No, they don’t.  Facts are just props for the story.  The story always comes first.  This is just another manifestation of their cheating.  They take their intelligently-designed apparati at multimillion-dollar academic institutions and presume to tell us that it says something about what time and chance did in an unobservable past.  They say, “it might have happened this way.”  Look how many times Zimmer resorted to the phrase “might have.”  No respectable scientist should stand for this coulda-woulda-shoulda form of science.  Science is supposed to stand for empirically-verifiable, observable, repeatable evidence, if anything.  Once you open the door to speculation, pigs can fly (1/26/2008) while you wish upon a star (12/05/2008).  So what if it keeps scientists busy?  Think alchemy.
    Did it grab your attention that such claims are self-refuting anyway?  If I design an experiment with my mind that attempts to prove that chance and necessity were responsible for my origin, then I have abandoned science and envisioned a world of meaningless contingency just like that of the pagans.  What did I just do to my “scientific explanation”?  I have attributed scientific explanation to chance!  Talk about shooting oneself in the foot.
    What a crazy, mixed-up world we live in.  The smart people we elevate as the knowledgeable ones (“scientists”) have let their hero Charlie undermine the whole basis for science, and yet they exalt him as the greatest scientist of all time.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, riding on the wave of Newton’s triumph of the discovery of natural laws (a very complex and controversial issue in philosophy of science), scientists felt compelled to find natural laws everywhere.  The new science of biology (formerly called natural history), was long thought to be too complex.  Natural historians felt resigned to stamp collecting and description.  Biology resisted all attempts to explain with reference to laws of nature.  Well Darwin found one.  John Herschel called it the “Law of Higgledy-Piggledy.”  It’s essentially the negation of law.  Darwin published his natural law, and it was – chance!  Great.  Now we can explain anything with reference to this simple principle Richard Dawkins ecstatically described in Expelled as the most “magnificently elegant, stunningly elegant” law in all of science: Stuff Happens (09/15/2008).
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeDarwin
Biology Now Includes Fluid Dynamic Construction   01/13/2009    
Jan 13, 2009 — There’s an old legend that Tibetan monks built a wall by levitating heavy stones with sound by beating their drums and gongs.  Something not quite so fantastic but still amazing is done by cells in the embryo.  Scientists have filmed zebrafish embryos using beating cilia to build little stone structures that they use for balance.
    Animals need to know which way is up.  All vertebrates have pieces of rock in their heads for this purpose (see 10/10/2003).  These rocks made of calcium carbonate, called otoliths in fish and otoconia in humans, are tied to sensory organs that measure their inertia to determine balance, direction and motion.  They are interesting examples of biomineralization – the use of mineral construction materials instead of proteins, sugars, fats and nucleic acids.  Because minerals are hard things, they need to be guided into place like building blocks.  How does a little fish embryo place the building blocks for otoliths that will work?  “Otolith number, size and placement are under strict developmental control,” wrote a team of UCLA and Caltech scientists in Nature.1
    Until now it was unknown how the embryo guided the building blocks into place.  The team used high-speed digital video cameras on a microscope to film the growth of otic vesicles, the organs where otoliths form.  At 100 to 330 frames per second, they observed that cilia attracted precursor particles by beating back and forth, creating little vortices in the fluid.  At polar ends of the otic vesicles, longer cilia called “tether cilia” beat this way and attracted particles to their tips.  The beating not only set up a fluid dynamic system that pulled the particles in, it also kept the growing structure rotating for even construction.  They called this a “cilium-dependent hydrodynamic system.”
    The cilium uses dynein for motion and is dependent on a gene called Gas8 for regulation.  Here’s the jargon:
Our results demonstrate that Gas8 is required for normal motility of cilia in the otic vesicle and that ciliary motility is essential for normal ear development.  The otic vesicle is a closed epithelial organ and fluid flow within this vesicle has been suggested to contribute to otolith formation.  Our study provides direct experimental evidence in support of this hypothesis.  On the basis of high-speed video microscopy of cilia motility and quantitative analysis of precursor particle movements in wild-type and gas8 morphant embryos, we propose a new, cilium-dependent hydrodynamic mechanism for otolith biogenesis (Fig. 4).  In this model, motility of tether cilia at the poles of the otic vesicle establishes a vortex that attracts otolith precursors (Fig. 4i, l), thereby biasing an otherwise random distribution of precursor particles and concentrating them near the two patches of tether cilia.  This ensures preferential otolith seeding at the poles of the otic vesicle.  At the otic vesicle poles, tether cilia motility further serves to disperse precursor particles locally and oscillation of the otolith increases effective contact area with precursors (Fig. 4j). Together, this prevents particles from sedimenting to form ectopic aggregates and promotes efficient uniform otolith growth.
Cool.  The little fish embryo uses this organ to keep itself right-side up as it swims away.  Although the scientists observed this phenomenon in fish, they believe the mechanism may have more general application.  “Our findings add to a growing list of developmental processes requiring fluid dynamic inputs for proper growth and patterning, further showing that epigenetic cues are part of the embryonic developmental program.”  They encouraged other biologists to look for answers to hearing loss and balance problems in humans in “ciliopathies” – diseases of the cilia.
    The Supplementary Information page contains Quicktime movies where you can see the beating tether cilia with otoliths growing at their tips.2 
1.  Colantonio et al, “The dynein regulatory complex is required for ciliary motility and otolith biogenesis in the inner ear,” Nature 457, 205-209 (8 January 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature07520.
2.  Supplementary Information page for Colantonio et al, Nature.
Think how many systems must interact in this amazing process.  Cilia are among the “irreducibly complex” organelles Michael Behe described in detail in Darwin’s Black Box and The Edge of Evolution.  All the parts of the cilia must be coded in the DNA – along with the assembly instructions for the cilia and the molecular trucks that build them (visit 06/14/2004 to be blown away by that fact).  The cilia have to find their ways to the poles of the otic vesicle.  They have to know how fast to beat to set up the proper vortex that will attract precursor particles.  They have to start and stop beating at the right time and somehow “know” when the otoliths are the right size and shape.  The sensory apparatus has to know what to do with the information provided by the inertia of the otoliths.  The brain has to process this information and send course corrections to the muscles.  A multitude of ancillary proteins, hormones and regulatory factors are involved.  This is just for one sense organ in a tiny fish embryo.  Did the fish figure this all out by trial and error?  Remember – vertebrate fish have been found near the base of the Cambrian (01/30/2003), with all their systems appearing fully formed.
    OK, time for the quiz: did this paper mention evolution?  For a change, YES!  But you’ll get a bang out of their one lonely reference: “Cilia are evolutionarily conserved organelles that perform motility, sensory and transport functions and are required for normal vertebrate development and physiology.”  Ha!  You may now laugh your way to the Bank of I.D. and deposit this paper in a C.D. (Certificate of Design), where it will yield high interest, guaranteed.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyMarine BiologyHuman BodyIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  Can you add up microevolution to get major evolutionary changes?  Read the 01/15/2004 entry and commentary; it gets into an important topic – what Darwin did to science.  Even John Stuart Mill gets involved.

Dating Stars as Models   01/12/2009    
Jan 12, 2009 — Many have dreamed of dating a star, but the way astronomers do it is less glamorous.  For one thing, they need to know how old she is first, and how good a model she makes.  In a Perspectives piece for Science,1 David R. Soderblom of the Space Telescope Science Institute explained the requirements for stellar dating in an article entitled, “How Old Is That Star?”
    It’s not that simple lining up a date.  Many agents tend to get in the way:

Determining how long it has been since a star formed is a lot harder than it seems like it ought to be, and many very basic questions hinge on stellar ages.  For instance, we’d like to know the ages of stars that have planets.  We hope to detect signs of life on planets around other stars, but if we do, knowing the star’s age is central to interpreting what is observed.  Among the youngest stars, we’d like to know how long it takes for planetary systems to form and evolve.  On a grander scale, the ages of stars and clusters of stars are needed to infer the history of our Milky Way galaxy and the pieces from which it was built.  Did the halo of our galaxy form on its own or from fragments of captured satellite galaxies?  Did the thick disk form after the halo or contemporaneously?  Has the thin disk (of which the Sun is a member) formed stars continuously, or in episodes?  Many very basic questions can only be addressed if we can establish reliable ages.
The parameters we measure are in the present (with regard to the time of light travel from source to observer): mass, chemical composition, magnetic field, and other characteristics teased from the spectrum.  Soderblom claims “we can measure a precise and exact age for just one star--the Sun--and that’s because we can analyze solar system material in the laboratory, something we can do for no other star.”  Even that age, however, is highly model dependent.  That makes estimates of other stars’ ages derived from it even further model dependent:
By calibrating models against the Sun, we can comprehend stars that are both more and less massive.  Our understanding of the evolution of stars is closely tied to studying star clusters, groups of hundreds to thousands of stars that were formed together and so share the same composition and age.  Or do they?  Some of the most exciting astrophysics from the Hubble Space Telescope has been the discovery of multiple populations within single globular clusters, which are some of the oldest components of the Milky Way.  Given what we now know about stellar physics, the available explanations include multiple ages (i.e., several epochs of star formation spread well apart in time), very different compositions of the cluster’s members, or both.  Neither alternative satisfactorily explains the observations, and a very basic conundrum has been exposed.
The model uncertainties are on the order of 10-20%, he claimed, but one should also keep in mind that these uncertainties have “poorly understood systematic effects.”  Relative ages are more believable, he said.  Even when using radiometric ages, the derived dates must be interpreted from when the isotopes formed without knowing the initial abundances.  These do not necessarily reflect the age of the star.
    Soderblom examines some of the “empirical” measurements for dating stars: loss of angular momentum over time, and asteroseismology (oscillations).  Both these methods are also model dependent: “We can see a consistent relation between a physical quantity and age, but we do not understand the underlying physical relation, even though we may have at least a reasonable scenario.”  What is considered reasonable becomes subjective.  Some techniques seem more “promising” – language indicative that the key component of the spectrum may be the human element.
    “Overall, the situation for determining stellar ages is still sobering, and progress has been slow,” he ended.  It has reached the point where cosmologists claim better precision for their measurements than we can for the ages of the nearest and brightest stars.”  He did not distinguish between claims and realities, however, since cosmological claims are also highly model dependent.  Within his own subject matter, “The challenge of determining an accurate age for a star therefore remains outstanding.”
1.  David R. Soderblom, “Astronomy: How Old Is That Star?”, Science, 2 January 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5910, pp. 45-46, DOI: 10.1126/science.1168230.
People need to know the hand-waving and speculation that belies the confidence expressed on TV science specials.  One can detect enough wiggle room to permit major paradigm shifts.  Notice that model dependence is not observation dependence.  We can observe emanations from objects that hit our eyeballs in the present; what does that mean about their origins and histories?  One cannot know that without making assumptions.  The reasonableness of assumptions is a matter of opinion.  It may seem reasonable to you, but if a member of the Space Telescope Science Institute says that “The challenge of determining an accurate age for a star therefore remains outstanding,” that should at least be noted in the minutes.
Next headline on:  AstronomyDating Methods
Darwin in the Air   01/11/2009    
Jan 11, 2009 — Darwin Day euphoria must be in the air.  There have been several news stories with Darwin or Evolution in the title, but little to his credit in the substance of the article.
  1. Evolution inaction:  The human immune system is, by any account, a highly complex and ordered system.  Science Daily, however not only called it a case of “Evolution in Action,” but claimed the immune system makes “evolutionary leaps” to fight microbes.  Gerald Weissmann, editor of the journal FASEB, ended with this line: “Nowadays, mosquitoes, parasites and viruses cause diseases in the United States that were once isolated to warmer parts of the world.  They evolve, and – a la Darwin – so does our immune system each time we meet a new microbial invader.”  Would you like your immune system with Darwin or without?
  2. Facile fossils:  The Cambrian Explosion has been called “Darwin’s Dilemma” in that all the major animal body plans show up in the Cambrian layers without precursors.  Science Daily announced that a solution has been found.  One reads the article eagerly only to find fossil microbes in the Precambrian, something that was already known, and has little or no bearing on the origin of animal body plans.
  3. Cool OOLPhysOrg and other news sites announced that scientists have created an RNA molecule with enzymatic capabilities that replicates itself indefinitely.  The folks at Scripps Research Institute are using their creation to speculate on the origin of life and the genetic code.  “This is the only case outside biology where molecular information has been immortalized,” said Gerald Joyce, leaving aside the question of what constitutes information.  One other little problem is getting RNA in the first place (see 08/23/2005).  For more problems with the “RNA World” scenario, as revealed by Gerald Joyce earlier, see the 07/11/2002 entry.
        Nevertheless, the Scripps team found it “extremely interesting” that their creations could also mutate and yet some would breed true.  “The research shows that the system can sustain molecular information, a form of heritability, and give rise to variations of itself in a way akin to Darwinian evolution.”  This is “knocking on the door of life,” Joyce teased.  He did admit that the molecule lacks the ability to do anything.  That makes it doubtful it could be compared to life.  What’s more, Science Daily said that the subunits in their manufactured molecule “each contain many nucleotides, so they are relatively complex and not something that would have been found floating in the primordial ooze.”  It appears the information in their molecules was intelligently designed.
  4. Darwin’s reverse gear:  “Reverse evolution” was the tag line in another story on Science Daily.  “Scientists have turned back the clock on the evolution in the fruit fly to provide key insights into the basic mechanisms of evolution,” it says.  In a strange twist of terms invoking design and creation in an evolutionary story, the article claims that researchers “recreated natural selection in real-time” and showed that contingency matters.  What is reverse evolution, you ask?  The team put fruit flies that had passed through several generations in the lab back into the wild.  Then they looked for changes in one chromosome and found about 50% of the changes in the lab reverted to wild type.  Even though they started with fruit flies and ended with fruit flies, this supposedly proved that “evolution is contingent upon history at the genetic level” as well as the phenotypic level.  This made the team feel they had gained “further insights into the basic understanding of how evolution and diversity are generated and maintained.”
  5. Evolutionary leaps:  Darwin had claimed that natural selection could never make a great leap, but must always proceed by slow but sure steps.  Maybe if the leaps are stretched out over millions of years they are not really leaps.  Science Daily last month claimed that “Life On Earth Got Bigger In 2-million-fold Leaps.”  Assuming common ancestry as fact, the article began, “Earth’s creatures come in all sizes, yet they (and we) all sprang from the same single-celled organisms that first populated the planet.  So how on Earth did life go from bacteria to the blue whale?”  Good question.  The answer, according to Jonathan Payne at Stanford, is that “It happened primarily in two great leaps, and each time, the maximum size of life jumped up by a factor of about a million.”  How did they find that out?  Combing through databases of genomes and fossils, they noticed explosions of size.  “The first jump in maximum size happens when the first eukaryotic organisms show up as fossils,” they said.  Payne explained, “The fossil record indicates pretty clearly that you need a eukaryotic cell to make that first size jump.”  He left invention to that necessity; apparently evolution provided whatever was needed.
        Once you have eukaryotes, potential for evolutionary creativity is awakened.  But millions of years passed with not much change in organismal size.  “Then about 600 million years ago, at the same time as another major boost in the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, life leaped in size again” by a million fold (referring to the Cambrian Explosion).  What happened to cause this?  “the real explosion of size increase didn’t happen until the oxygen level bumped up.”  True, oxygen is necessary for explosions, but those are usually destructive.  “So why do the size leaps seem to hinge on the amount of oxygen in the air?”  Another good question.  “There are a few things that could be going on,” Payne rambled, but his scenario called for complex mechanisms to use the oxygen for metabolism.  Microbes, in the story, did this for millions of years without leaping in size a million-fold.  “The possible causes of the second jump in oxygen are less clear, Payne said, but regardless of the puzzles that remain to be sorted out, the timing and magnitude of the jumps up in maximum size are clear,” that is, if one accepts the evolutionary timeline.  Whatever it was, it affected a lot of things simultaneously – i.e., all the animal phyla in a geological instant.
What Darwin had to do with any of this other than lending his name and reputation was also less clear.  One thing his name did provide was an opportunity for storytelling.  The last article had Payne speculating on this question: “Can we look forward to another great leap in size?  Will we see housecats larger than our houses?”  Tune in next time, when we see if the size of the earth and the presence of humans makes tyranno-cats unlikely.
Darwine is a potent psychedelic potion that lubricates the imagination.  It simultaneously works as a strong laxative, but what comes out is hard to call science.
Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionOrigin of LifeFossilsDumb Ideas
The Case for Faith is an outstanding film adaptation of Lee Strobel’s best-selling book of the same title.  It is available on Apologetics DVDs, where you can also find the two prior releases, The Case for a Creator and The Case for Christ.  Released last September, The Case for Faith completes the trilogy by answering two hard questions: Why do Christians say that Christ is the only way to God? and If God is good, why is there evil and suffering in the world?  Go2RPI offers bulk sets of these outstanding films (not for resale) as ministry handouts.

Watch for Flying Giraffes (and Convergent Evolutionists)   01/09/2009    
Jan 9, 2009 — Imagine giraffe-sized animals that could fly.  They lived.  National Geographic News has an illustration of an extinct pterosaur, tall as a giraffe, that was able to leap into the air and flap its wings for sustained powered flight.
    Live Science discussed work by Michael Habib [Johns Hopkins U School of Medicine] on the flying ability of Quetzalcoatlus, the largest of the pterosaurs with a wingspan of 35 feet.  There’s no way, he figured, it could get off the ground with a two-legged take-off.  “The researcher says his new study reveals the first line of evidence that pterosaurs launched into the air using four limbs: two were ultra-strong wings which, when folded and balanced on a knuckle, served as front ‘legs’ that helped the creature to walk and leap sky-high.”  If so, the animal could leap into the air in less than a second and start flapping its wings.
    Scientists used to think these large animals could have only soared by leaping from cliffs into thermals.  That opinion is still around (PhysOrg 10/01/2008), but this new article says they “likely were capable of powered flight.”  Science Daily added, “Assumption and conventionrather than reason or data – held sway for centuries, ever since the classical bipedal model of pterosaur take-off was first championed, he [Habib] notes.”  [Note: the first pterosaur fossil was discovered in 1784].
    Pterosaurs came in a huge range of sizes.  The smallest known is Nemicolopterus, the size of a small bird, with a wingspan of just 10 inches.  Quetzalcoatlus stood as tall as a giraffe and had a wingspan of 35 to 40 feet.  If the illustration is correct, a grown man could walk underneath one without bending over while carrying a Nemicolopterus in the palm of his hand.
    Habib feels the giant pterosaur would have had to be very strong to launch its 500-pound bulk into the air.  It wasn’t just a “hang-glider with teeth,” he told National Geographic News; instead, it was built like Arnold Schwarzenegger.  “The finding is also consistent with the idea that bigger animals require more overall brawn to power their movement, Habib added.”  Using a car engine analogy, it could have had a V8.
    Even though Habib works in the Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he had nothing to say about evolution in any of the articles cited.  Other websites talk about how pterosaurs, birds, bats and insects evolved flight by “convergent evolution.”  Maybe “Assumption and convention – rather than reason or data” is still holding sway ever since the classical evolutionary model was first championed.

Can you imagine the awesomeness of watching one of these creatures take off?  The rush of wind might have knocked you flat.  What sounds did they make as they sprang up into the air?  This world has seen some marvelous creatures.  Today’s biosphere, diverse and wondrous as it is, is impoverished of many animals that once roamed the land and decorated the skies.
    Did pterosaurs evolve?  A quick check shows that they were an extraordinarily diverse group with no trace of transitional forms emerging from non-flying animals.  Wikipedia is not recommended as a source, because many subjects it covers are heavily biased.  But since it usually takes a strong pro-Darwin, anti-ID stance, we can use it as a hostile witness.  Behold the best they can do to combat creationism: “Because pterosaur anatomy has been so heavily modified for flight, and immediate ‘missing link’ predecessors have not so far been described,” the page says, “the ancestry of pterosaurs is not well understood.”  Ha!  A few suggestions are put forth, followed by a note from the editor: “Please help improve this section by expanding it.”  Good luck.  Go forth and find the transitional forms Darwin needs.
    The evolutionists use another of their favorite tricks: inventing a term to cover the nakedness of ignorance.  The Wikipedia article invokes “convergent evolution” to explain the presence of hair on some pterosaurs which, they say, was not homologous to mammalian hair (which had not evolved yet).  A UC Berkeley page concurs with this dodge: “The appearance of flight in pterosaurs was separate from the evolution of flight in birds and bats; pterosaurs are not closely related to either birds or bats, and thus provide a classic example of convergent evolution.”  A better phrase would be “congruent miracles.”  Notice this fantasy: “Their ability to fly probably allowed them to evolve into many niches, taking advantage of many different food sources, which would explain the range of skull morphology seen.”  This is the “necessity is the mother of invention” theory of evolution.  That’s all the page by academics has to say about the origin of these large, diverse, complex animals that could fly.  For fun, read the UC Berkeley museum exhibit pages on the origin of flight.  Look for any instances in which they do not assume evolution to prove evolution.  For example, from Vertebrate Flight, “The evolution of flight, (a.k.a.) how to wing it,” the explanation is incestuous with evolutionary assumptions, i.e., “it evolved because it evolved” (see 05/25/2005 commentary).  Would the following cause a Darwin doubter to do anything but snicker?
In summation, to understand the evolution of a flying lineage, we must follow these steps in this order: (1) Understand the phylogeny of that group; what its origins were.  (2) Understand the functional morphology relevant to flight, and how that changed from the nonflying ancestor to the earliest flyer.  (3) Accumulate empirical evidence explaining how flight evolved, using such tools as aerodynamic analyses, ichnology (the study of fossilized tracks), and paleoenvironmental assessments.  And finally (4) formulate an evolutionary hypothesis proposing why flight evolved in that lineage, supported by and consistent with all of the evidence from the previous three steps.
Clearly, “empirical evidence” is just a prop for the obligatory Darwinian story.  No wonder they titled the next page “The origins of flight (a.k.a. two wings and a prayer).”  They even told a whopping big lie on page 3: “You might be surprised, but the evolution of flight is, for the most part, well documented with transitional forms.”  Indeed, we were very surprised to learn this.  So we looked.  The page on pterosaur flight mentioned none, and the page on bat flight contained none.  Imagination and “convergent evolution” served as stand-ins for transitional forms.  Get this: “Phylogenetic [evolutionary] and functional data [data?] suggest the inference that the hypothetical ancestor would have been nocturnal, insectivorous, arboreal, and a glider.”  This is rich.  This is evolutionary science at work goofing off.
    The bird page makes the only reference to the promised transitional forms, and here they have Archaeopteryx and two other birds that could already fly.  So much for the origin of flight – the topic that was supposed to be explained.  Should these ignorant hucksters be allowed to teach such nonsense in our schools?  You’ve heard of tax evasion.  This is facts evasion.
    To clear your head, go read Brett Miller’s lively and informative cartoon-decorated page, The Convergence Concoction.  It exposes the extent of the deception behind the evolutionary miracle-phrase, convergent evolution – “When the impossible happens over and over and again and again.”
Next headline on:  Dinosaurs and Extinct ReptilesAmazing FactsBirdsEvolution
  Fair and balanced: A thoughtful and respectful critique of intelligent design was reported in the 08/21/2006.  Read the article and rebuttal in the commentary and decide who won.

2009 Is Looking Up   01/08/2009    
Jan 8, 2009 — Astronomy is looking up this year; in fact, it’s looking heavenly.  The United Nations and the International Astronomical Union have designated 2009 the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009).  The IYA2009 website explains,

The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, highlighted by the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei.  The aim of the Year is to stimulate worldwide interest, especially among young people, in astronomy and science under the central theme “The Universe, Yours to Discover”.  IYA2009 events and activities will promote a greater appreciation of the inspirational aspects of astronomy that embody an invaluable shared resource for all nations.
Surprises in recent astronomical news stories reveal that much remains to be discovered:
  1. Flash video:  The Hubble Space Telescope watched a bright burst in 2006 that has no explanation.  The source is unknown.  It just flashed on, brightened for 100 days, then faded into oblivion.  The article title reads, “Star light, star bright, its explanation is out of sight.”
  2. Slow SNR:  The supernova remnant (SNR) Cassiopeia A has now been observed by the Chandra X-ray Space Telescope long enough to make a movie of it.  Chandra X-Ray Center announced the movie and a 3-D hologram made from the observations show that the cloud is moving outward slower than expected.  They think the unaccounted-for energy went into accelerating cosmic rays.  “The implication of this work is that astronomers who build models of supernova explosions must now consider that the outer layers of the star come off spherically, but the inner layers come out more disk like with high-velocity jets in multiple directions.”
  3. Bullet stars:  Some stars are careening through space faster than a speeding bullet – some 112,000 miles an hour.  That’s from a press release from Jet Propulsion Laboratory about Hubble images of 14 stars with V-shaped bow shocks, indicating motion relative to the interstellar gas and dust.  These form a new class of stars: high-velocity stellar interlopers.  The observer said, “Finding these stars is a complete surprise because we were not looking for them.”  He thinks they are young: “just millions of years old.”
        How they got accelerated is a bit of a mystery.  Maybe they were kicked out by binary companions that exploded.  Or maybe they got ejected from a pas-de-troix inside a star cluster. 
  4. Bigger home:  No need to feel your home galaxy is just a mid-size model.  It just got 50% bigger without remodeling.  The measurers had its square footage wrong, reported  “The Milky Way is now on par with the nearby Andromeda Galaxy in terms of heft,” the article says.  “The Milky Way spins a lot faster than was thought, too.”  Science Daily has a slightly longer article on this.
  5. Danger zone:  Astronomers were surprised to find stars apparently forming right outside a black hole.  Science Daily explains the conundrum:
    The center of the Milky Way presents astronomers with a paradox: it holds young stars, but no one is sure how those stars got there.  The galactic center is wracked with powerful gravitational tides stirred by a 4 million solar-mass black hole.  Those tides should rip apart molecular clouds that act as stellar nurseries, preventing stars from forming in place.  Yet the alternative – stars falling inward after forming elsewhere – should be a rare occurrence.
    A Smithsonian astronomer said “We literally caught these stars in the act of forming,” but later said, “We don’t understand the environment at the galactic center very well yet.”
  6. Growth spurt:  Old theory: gas giants accrete very slowly over hundreds of millions of years.  New theory: Blazing Jupiters!  “Even though astronomers have detected hundreds of Jupiter-mass planets around other stars, our results suggest that such planets must form extremely fast,” reported a press release from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  “Whatever process is responsible for forming Jupiters has to be incredibly efficient.”  Why is this?  The “protoplanetary disk” around sunlike stars apparently dissipates quickly.  “Therefore, gas giants have to form in less than 5 million years or they probably won’t form at all.”  The old constraint was 10 million years.
        That didn’t stop another astronomer from speculating that gas giants might form around double stars, reported Science Daily.  “It’s theoretically possible,” Joel Kastner said, “but I’m not aware of a single observation yet of a planet orbiting a double star.”
Despite these puzzles, the progress made by astronomers over the last 400 years has indeed been stunning as telescopes went from simple hand-held tubes to orbiting platforms scanning the entire electromagnetic spectrum (not even known in Galileo’s day).  Nature News surveyed the suite of new instruments being planned over the next few decades.  And as part of Nature’s feature on IYA2009 in the January 1 issue, Owen Gingerich provided an essay on “Man’s Place in the Universe” for Nature News.  Gingerich, professor emeritus of astronomy and the history of science at Harvard, retold the story of man’s first look at the skies through a telescope in December 1609 and January 1610 by Galileo, bringing in the characters of Copernicus, Kepler, William Herschel and others.  “The International Year of Astronomy might well launch the next intellectual revolution in our understanding of our place in the Universe,” he ended.  “Could this have as much of an impact on society as Galileo and Kepler’s entrenchment of the heliocentric view?  Only time will tell.”
    For a view Galileo could never have imagined when he first discerned that the Milky Way was made up of stars, look at Astronomy Picture of the Day for January 7.  It’s a mosaic of 2,000 images taken by the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes of the galactic center.  The panorama (click on the photo for high resolution) covers 300 by 115 light-years with unprecedented resolution, revealing a sparkling menagerie of stars, star clusters, and wispy bands of dust and gas.
Too bad Gingerich perpetuated the misrepresentation that Copernicus demoted man’s importance in the universe:
This vast increase in the size and age of the perceived cosmos set the stage for an angst as deep as that caused by the displacement of the ancient human-centred cosmology: what significance do rational, observing mortals have in the wilderness of a near-infinite space-time continuum?  This existential question has been simmering for decades and undoubtedly drives our willingness to invest taxpayers’ money in further cosmic explorations.
Gingerich, a theist, could have corrected this false notion as did the film The Privileged Planet.  It’s possible Nature left further elaboration by him on the cutting room floor.  If anyone should be reconsidering shaky conceptions about man’s insignificance, it should be the materialists (see 11/17/2008 and 01/15/2008).
    Creationists should embrace improved observations.  Gingerich quoted Kepler: “Perhaps there is someone whose faith is too weak to believe Copernicus without offending his piety.  Let him stay at home and mind his own business.  Let him assure himself that he is serving God no less than the astronomer to whom God has granted the privilege of seeing more clearly with the eyes of the mind.”  More recently, Wernher von Braun said, “Our space ventures have been only the smallest of steps in the vast reaches of the universe and have introduced more mysteries than they have solved.  Speaking for myself, I can only say that the grandeur of the cosmos serves to confirm my belief in the certainty of a Creator.”
    Consider a couple of supporting facts.  Despite our apparent smallness compared to galaxy clusters, human beings lie near the middle in size between subatomic particles and the universe.  Consider also that dozens of physical constants are finely-tuned to make life possible.  And lastly, if you think our position in the universe is accidental, it just so “happens” that we live on a platform in space that makes possible all the incredible astronomical discoveries of the last 400 years.
    Incidentally, one of the new missions of discovery being prepared right now at the Cape for launch this year – a spacecraft searching for habitable planets – is named for a born-again, Bible-believing, creationist astronomer.  Click here to read his story.
Next headline on:  AstronomyCosmologyPhysicsDating Methods
Should Darwinists Play Games with Government?   01/07/2009    
Jan 7, 2009 — For years now, evolutionary biologists have been employing “game theory” to try to understand human social behavior.  Presumably, game theory applies just as well to robots and ants as it does to humans – any population in which the whole benefits from collective behavior of individuals.
    The latest example of evolutionary game theory was published in Nature last week.1  Two Japanese scientists with Martin Nowak of Harvard tried to prove that “costly punishment” is inefficient:
Indirect reciprocity is a key mechanism for the evolution of human cooperation.  Our behaviour towards other people depends not only on what they have done to us but also on what they have done to others.  Indirect reciprocity works through reputation.  The standard model of indirect reciprocity offers a binary choice: people can either cooperate or defect.  Cooperation implies a cost for the donor and a benefit for the recipient.  Defection has no cost and yields no benefit.  Currently there is considerable interest in studying the effect of costly (or altruistic) punishment on human behaviour.  Punishment implies a cost for the punished person.  Costly punishment means that the punisher also pays a cost.  It has been suggested that costly punishment between individuals can promote cooperation.  Here we study the role of costly punishment in an explicit model of indirect reciprocity.  We analyse all social norms, which depend on the action of the donor and the reputation of the recipient.  We allow errors in assigning reputation and study gossip as a mechanism for establishing coherence.  We characterize all strategies that allow the evolutionary stability of cooperation.  Some of those strategies use costly punishment; others do not.  We find that punishment strategies typically reduce the average payoff of the population.  Consequently, there is only a small parameter region where costly punishment leads to an efficient equilibrium.  In most cases the population does better by not using costly punishment.  The efficient strategy for indirect reciprocity is to withhold help for defectors rather than punishing them.
They noted first off that “Human societies are organized around cooperative interactions.”  Then they wondered, “But why would natural selection equip selfish individuals with altruistic tendencies?”, adding, “This question has fascinated evolutionary biologists for decades.”  Other evolutionists have employed game theory to study the evolution of religion (09/25/2006, 05/27/2008), the evolution of responsibility (11/22/2008), the evolution of patriotism (11/20/2005) and the evolution of altruism (03/16/2005); even weird things like the evolution of spite (01/21/2006).  This paper did not address altruism.  Instead, they focused on whether costly punishment is effective.  They reviewed earlier research with games like Prisoner’s Dilemma that illustrate the outcomes of cooperation and punishment between individuals.  After pages of sterile equations and diagrams, they decided punishment is a poor strategy: “The evolution of improved mechanisms of indirect reciprocity therefore leads to societies in which costly punishment between individuals is not an efficient behaviour for promoting cooperation.”  This has direct bearing on whether governments should impose costly punishment (e.g., imprisonment) for lawbreakers instead of just withholding help from them.
    What do their colleagues think of their analysis?  An economist and an evolutionary ecologist from Germany weighed in on the paper with a review called, “Game theory: How to treat those of ill repute.2  They explained the roles of players in the game (think of the parable of the Good Samaritan):
When you meet someone needing help, you can help (cooperate), refuse to help (defect) or not only refuse to help but, in addition, decrease the needy person’s wealth (punish).  Both cooperation and punishment are costly for you, but respectively create a larger benefit or larger loss for the person needing help.  Defection is cost neutral.
This makes the Good Samaritan the cooperator, the thieves the punishers, and the priest and Levite who passed by the defectors.  But the roles could be redistributed differently in government, a football game, people fighting over parking, or any other situation in which individuals interact.  The eight “action rules” of the game also take into account the reputations of the participants and whether the players know those reputations or not.  Presumably this includes knowledge of whether others are honest and trustworthy.
    The reviewers’ own experiments showed a slightly different outcome: people prefer to live in societies that mostly cooperate and defect (i.e., ignore the slight infractions), but that also punish the worst offenders.  Other than that, they liked the paper.  “Ultimately, study of the joint evolution of social norms and action rules under natural constraints is the goal for the future,” they ended.  “Ohtsuki et al. have prepared the ground for that endeavour.
1.  Ohtsuki, Iwasa and Nowak, “Indirect reciprocity provides only a narrow margin of efficiency for costly punishment,” Nature 457, 79-82 (1 January 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature07601; Received 11 June 2008; Accepted 3 November 2008.
2.  Bettina Rockenbach and Manfred Milinski, “Game theory: How to treat those of ill repute,” Nature 457, 39-40 (1 January 2009) | doi:10.1038/457039a; Published online 31 December 2008.
Beware the day when the Darwinists set the rules of the Justice Department.  If you thought Social Darwinism went out of fashion in the 1940s, after millions perished from that awful legacy (11/30/2005), guess what: it’s back in new dress.  Its practitioners seem less racist and activist but they are just as dangerous.  Why?  Because their views are completely amoral.  There is not the slightest hint of rightness or wrongness in their approach.  They speak only of “outcomes” as they play games with human souls.  Their vocabulary is morally sterile: preference, equilibrium, strategy, reciprocity, interaction, cooperation, defection, punishment, cost.  Human beings are pawns on their chessboard.  In their imaginations, this is the “scientific” way to evaluate the evolution of human social behavior.
    But is it really morally neutral?  Is it scientific?  No way.  Notice the paper’s concluding sentence: “The evolution of improved mechanisms of indirect reciprocity therefore leads to societies in which costly punishment between individuals is not an efficient behaviour for promoting cooperation.”  Did you catch the judgment calls?  If this were scientifically objective and morally neutral, they would have to reject concepts of improving and promoting certain outcomes.  In evolution, whatever happens, happens.  There is no light side and dark side.  If the human society collapses in a bloody heap, so be it.  Jot it down in the lab notebook and move on to the ant farm.
    Their whole approach tries to be a covering law for any and all outcomes of social behavior.  It would not make any difference to them whether the laboratory is Hamas or the Mayflower Compact.  Gaza, for that matter, has cooperators (the Hamas terrorists and suicide bombers), punishers (the Hamas leadership) and defectors (the Gaza Baptist Church).  The reviewers would have to judge that their ideal society would be to reward the best terrorists and punish the Baptists.  Would this not meet their stated goal? – the “study of the joint evolution of social norms and action rules under natural constraints,” they said, where natural is whatever happens, morality be hanged.  Then let the reviewers move to Gaza.  That is the ideal society to them.  They said people preferred to live where cooperation was rewarded and the worst offenders were punished.
    Don’t be deceived into thinking that this amoral approach to human society is somehow scientific.  In the first place, the scientists disagreed with each other.  Their standoff required another promissory note: “study of the joint evolution of social norms and action rules under natural constraints is the goal for the future” (as is everything in evolutionary theory).  Secondly, it commits the Ratomorphic Fallacy – treating complex human beings as lab rats.  Thirdly, it exposes their mental illness known as the Yoda Complex – a delusion of thinking of oneself on a higher plane than the rest of mortals.  And fourthly, they plagiarize but deny the existence of the most important word in human government and social relationships: JUSTICE.
    America’s founding fathers were not just playing games.  They knew we all have a “human nature,” but that nature is not naturalistic: it is moral.  We have a fallen nature, a selfish nature, a desire to exercise personal freedom at the expense of others.  Justice provides rewards and punishments not because it is the best strategy, but because it is a necessity for morally selfish individuals who nevertheless are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (eudaimonia, the responsible satisfaction of worthy goals).  One may occasionally find overlap in the Darwinist study with the Protestant work ethic, as stated in II Thessalonians 3:10, “if a man will not work, he shall not eat” (i.e., withhold help from the defector), but for entirely different reasons.  The Christian wants the defector to be ashamed of his lack of moral responsibility, while the Darwinist plagiarizes Christian morality by assuming the outcome is “better” for the society when help is withheld from the defector.
    That difference in motivation makes all the difference in the world.  Despite occasional overlap in outcomes, the Christian pursues the strategy because he believes in moral absolutes: good exists and should be rewarded; evil exists and must be punished whether or not the strategy is costly.  The Darwinist strategy leads to moral equivalence, because morality is merely a social construction in their world view.  Evolutionary game theory, for instance, cannot employ moral judgments in the current conflict between Hamas and Israel, but only determine what is “better” by the outcome.  That use of better, however, is loaded with moral overtones.  Presumably an outcome is “better” if it is less costly.  Says who?  Notice how they are assuming that costliness is bad and improved strategies are good.  They end up deciding what is better only by plagiarizing and twisting Christian values.  In practice, Darwinists usually end up as leftist liberals making moral judgments (e.g., condemning Israel for retaliating against Hamas rocket launches) but on the basis of a morality that cannot be derived from their world view.
    Bad ideas are precursors to bad policy.  Since the Darwinists are defectors from righteousness, they are dangerous and need to be punished.  So we offer a win-win situation.  Since they love to play games, and need empirical evidence to lend an air of science to their game-playing, give them a lab to work in: prison.  The best lab for playing Prisoner’s Dilemma is, after all, a real prison.  To get out, they have to “cooperate” with the “punishers” who have the power to set the rules (the rules, remember, are completely amoral according to the Darwin Party’s own definitions, so they cannot complain if they happen to wind up on the losing side).  The “action rule” of this game is to state the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with LIBERTY and JUSTICE for all.”  Guard, don’t let them out unless they shout JUSTICE with appropriate emphasis.  The outcome?  They get out, they write up their results in Nature, everybody wins.  Defect, punish, repeat as necessary.
Next headline on:  Evolutionary TheoryPolitics and Ethics
  Gene duplication is often said to provide raw material for evolution, but is there another explanation from a design perspective?  See the 01/02/2003 entry.  The next two entries below it are also interesting.

Darwin Missed the Pink Iguanas   01/06/2009    
Jan 6, 2009 — The news media are excited about pink iguanas found in the Galapagos Islands.  The rare type was discovered accidentally in 1986 but received almost no attention till now.  Reports with pictures can be found on Live Science, PhysOrg, New Scientist and the BBC News, based on the paper by Gentile et al in PNAS.1
    The “rosada” (pink) land iguana is similar in size and shape to a more common yellow variety on Isabela island, the largest island in the Galapagos archipelago.  Darwin did not see any of these during his five-week tour.  It is surprising no other scientist saw this population, either, for 150 years after Darwin’s stopover.  They live isolated on an extinct volcano named Volcan Wolf on the north end of Isabela island.
    The scientists performed phylogenetic analysis of individuals and declared them to be the most basal land iguanas on the islands.  They estimate they diverged 5.7 million years ago and went their own way genetically.  This raises a conundrum, however; the island of Isabela, their sole habitat, did not form till half a million years ago, they believe.  How did the pink form remain genetically isolated for so long when the populations were free to mix with others?  Actually, they were found not to be completely isolated.  One yellow iguana appeared to have a rosada grandparent, so hybridization, though rare, does occur (as it does with the finches).  “In any case, incomplete reproductive isolation between the rosada and syntopic yellow land forms is not surprising,” they said, “considering that hybridization can still occur between marine and land iguanas, 2 genera morphologically, ecologically, behaviorally, and genetically very distant.

1.  Gentile et al, “An overlooked pink species of land iguana in the Galapagos,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print January 5, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806339106.
Is this evolution?  They look nearly identical to the other land iguanas except for skin color and slight differences in head-bobbing behavior.  There are more differences between people than between these iguanas.  To be told that they have been genetically isolated ten times longer than the island they live on was separated from the others is a stretch; it’s also not very helpful to evolutionary theory, because they believe humans came down from the trees and evolved philosophy in less time than that.
    Phylogenetic analysis is fraught with dubious assumptions.  Differences this small can take a lot less time to develop.  Live Science quoted the lead author saying, “The Darwin finches are thought to have differentiated later than the split between the pink and yellow iguana lineages.”  And just like the finches, the differences are minor variations.  No new genetic information, tissues or organs “emerged” by Darwin’s mechanism.
    The news write-ups, nevertheless, are filled with references to Charlie.  King Charles had nothing to do with this.  He didn’t even see them.  He came up with a tall tale after his voyage about how humans might have had bacteria ancestors.  Why?  Because he saw microevolutionary changes in finches, turtles, mockingbirds and cacti in an isolated, desolate environment, and could not fit these observations into preconceived theological notions about how God would have done things.  For this Charlie should be scorned, not praised.
    Darwin’s name would not be remembered except for his visit here, his 200th birthday coming up, and the pressure of his disciples to associate his name with these islands that are full of amazingly hardy, well-adapted, created creatures (redundant, since creature refers to a created living thing).  All creatures of our God and King was not written in praise of King Charlie, despite the devotion of his subjects.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyDarwin
Quote:  “Nobody would have predicted this theoretically.  It takes observations.  The more we observe, the more we discover things that nobody had even thought of.” —Howard Bond, Space Telescope Science Institute, discussing unexpected stellar explosions, Astronomy Feb 2009, p. 53.

Send the Brat Outside   01/05/2009    
Jan 5, 2009 — Problem teens get dramatically cured by wilderness adventures, researchers at the University of Essex found.  Science Daily reported that young offenders came back from their hikes and sailing trips with increased self-confidence, teamwork, trust, a sense of belonging, and a desire to cooperate and take responsibility for their future.
    Youths described initially as “disruptive, disrespectful and undisciplined” came back from their wilderness adventures with improved attitudes and less antisocial behavior.  A key element, the article said, was getting the young people in touch with nature and away from negative influences typical of urban environments.  “The difference in behaviour was amazing!” one researcher said after the trips.
    Additional studies have found similar positive effects of natural outings on people; “a link between nature and health seems to be emerging,” the article concluded.  “Wilderness therapy” should be considered part of programs for youth at risk.  They can benefit from ancillary parts of outdoor activity, including “healthy exercise and diet, individual and group therapy, educational curricula, primitive skills, group-living with peers, opportunities for solo time and reflection leadership training and challenges resulting from ‘back-to basics’ living.”

This was like a free ad for Creation Safaris.  Everyone stands to benefit from connectedness to nature.  The artificial, manipulative world most urbanites live in has bad health consequences.  Concentrating young people in urban centers is unnatural.  But selfishness-based adventures, as seen on reality TV programs, does little to build lasting character.  For that, young people need connectedness to their Creator – the one who made the healing environment.
    One mission to inner-city youth in Los Angeles, named World Impact, has a retreat center called The Oaks in a beautiful, natural setting far from the urban jungle.  The change in environment is so radical for some inner-city visitors, it is almost shock therapy for them to see trees, birds, and wide open spaces.  Kids given a chance at team-building activities, outdoor education and recreation centered on the life-giving message of God’s love are healed from the inside out.  There are hundreds of Christian ministries like this that use wilderness for therapy and enrichment.  Send in the website of your favorite – after taking a brisk walk in the woods yourself.
Next headline on:  Health
Your Brain Decides Best Unconsciously   01/04/2009    
Jan 4, 2009 — A report on Science Daily claims your subconscious brain makes the best decisions possible.  This is based on work by cognitive neuroscientists at the University of Rochester.  Alex Pouget believes the brain is hard-wired to make optimal decisions – when we are not consciously thinking about them.
Pouget has been demonstrating for years that certain aspects of human cognition are carried out with surprising accuracy.  He has employed what he describes as a very simple unconscious-decision test.  A series of dots appears on a computer screen, most of which are moving in random directions.  A controlled number of these dots are purposely moving uniformly in the same direction, and the test subject simply has to say whether he believes those dots are moving to the left or right.  The longer the subject watches the dots, the more evidence he accumulates and the more sure he becomes of the dots’ motion.
    Subjects in this test performed exactly as if their brains were subconsciously gathering information before reaching a confidence threshold, which was then reported to the conscious mind as a definite, sure answer.  The subjects, however, were never aware of the complex computations going on, instead they simply “realized” suddenly that the dots were moving in one direction or another.  The characteristics of the underlying computation fit with Pouget’s extensive earlier work that suggested the human brain is wired naturally to perform calculations of this kind.
Pouget believes that there are advantages to the brain’s ability to sort through data and make decisions probabilistically.  It allows a reasonable decision to be reached in a reasonable amount of time.  The brain apparently has a different threshold of certainty for each situation.  How it sets those thresholds is the subject of his ongoing research.
    The article states that this study contradicts earlier research that assumed humans rarely make rational decisions.  “Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that the human brain—once thought to be a seriously flawed decision maker—is actually hard-wired to allow us to make the best decisions possible with the information we are given,” the article began.  In fact, “Neuroscientists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky received a 2002 Nobel Prize for their 1979 research that argued humans rarely make rational decisions.”  That “conventional wisdom” appears to be overturned by Pouget’s work.  The article did not mention evolution.
The study supports simple decision-making optimality, like which way dots are moving, but rational decisions about truth and morality are not best left to the subconscious mind.  Pouget most likely did not decide what constitutes an optimal decision by sleeping on it.  We assume he wrote his paper while concentrating.
    Nevertheless, there is a lot more going on in the brain than we realize.  Have you noticed how you can often recall a fact better by thinking about something else?  It seems as if a subdomain of your brain takes on a kind of Google-search operation when your conscious mind focuses elsewhere, and delivers the answer later.  Maybe you got the answer in your sleep and remembered it on awakening.  Have you ever played a piece of your favorite music in your head, then recalled it later after changing attention to something else, and found your brain playing a later section of the work?  It’s as if it had been playing all along in the background, like a record player you left going in one room as you walked about and came back.
    Yet your mind is not slavishly bound to reproduce the original music, either; with your imagination, you can speed it up, slow it down, change key, or add new parts.  The wonders of the brain and how it interacts with the soul are only partially understood by experimentation.  We have tools, but tools are not the mind.  To see that, ask “who” in Pouget’s brain was running the experiments on his subjects and deciding they were making rational decisions.  Think rationally about intellectual and moral questions.  Your autopilot tools can assist with the computer-like background operations and responses to stimuli – under the control of your mind.
Next headline on:  Human BodyAmazing Facts
  Wouldn’t evolution have predicted the best proofreading enzymes would be in the most complex life forms?  A study reported in the 01/08/2002 entry found the opposite.

Nature Struts Darwin Gems   01/02/2009    
Jan 2, 2009 — Like a showcase of pearl-handled revolvers, an armory of evidences Nature calls “Darwin’s Gems” have been exhibited to warn creationists that Darwin Day will be defended next month with a show of force.  The authors, Henry Gee (former editor of Nature), Rory Howlett and Philip Campbell have made their 15 Evolutionary Gems freely available “and encourage its free dissemination.”  Why?  “Given that the concepts and realities of Darwinian evolution are still challenged, albeit rarely by biologists, a succinct briefing on why evolution by natural selection is an empirically validated principle is useful for people to have to hand.”  This collected ammunition, they feel, demonstrates the “breadth, depth and power of evolutionary thinking.
    Their list includes 5 evidences from paleontology, 6 from ecology, and 4 from genetics and molecular biology (see Commentary for items on the list).  The outline is followed by summary arguments for each “gem” of evidence for Darwinian evolution.

What matters on a pistol is not how pretty the handle looks but what it’s loaded with, and whether it will work without backfiring.  To shoot down the creationist challengers riding into town, this trio of self-appointed sheriffs needs to stop polishing the handles and demonstrate their marksmanship.  Better a slingshot that can hit its mark than a pearl-handled hunk of dead iron.
    The trio, unfortunately, loaded their chambers with blanks.  Nobody cares about microevolution.  That is accepted by even young-earth creationists.  They’ve got to demonstrate that Charlie’s silver bullet, natural selection, can get out of the chamber with sufficient wallop to do more than tickle the creationists and make them laugh.  His takeover of the town rested on the ability of his newfangled ideas to create new genetic information, structure and function.  Charlie’s imagined ancestor of all life had no wings, teeth, legs, or brains.  Can his mechanism of random mutation and natural selection, with no purpose or designing intelligence, get from slimy sea to Henry Gee?  Let’s see.
    The bad sheriffs best beware of backfires, or circular reasoning (i.e., using “evolutionary thinking” to argue for evolution as fact).  They wanted to demonstrate the “breadth, depth and power of evolutionary thinking,” they said.  Well, guess what.  There’s something with even more breadth, depth and power than that: imagination.  Take that up in the saloon, guys; it doesn’t belong in a scientific showdown.  Show us your firepower.
  1. Whale evolution:  See our entries from 12/20/2007 and 05/28/2002 as an antidote to their bluffing and exaggeration about Thewissen’s alleged “great transformation.”  Even they admitted at the end that his study “demonstrates the existence of potential transition forms in the fossil record,” not actual transitional forms, like the 50,000 David Berlinski estimated would be required to turn a cow into a whale.  Then they bluffed that “many other examples could have been highlighted,” and distracted the reader’s attention to futureware: “there is every reason to think that many others await discovery,” they said.  This was a major problem in Darwin’s time.  How many more centuries do we have to wait?
  2. Tetrapod evolution:  They rehashed Tiktaalik as if it is problem-free.  Find a dozen refutations by searching on the word Tiktaalik in the search bar above.  How convinced should we be when they say that it represents “the stage before tetrapods evolved, and shows how the fossil record throws up surprises, albeit ones that are entirely compatible with evolutionary thinking”?  This only makes sense if you already believe in evolution.  If you are wowed by circular reasoning, wave your tetrapods.
  3. Evolution of feathers:  They argue from Archaeopteryx (with a historical plaudit to Thomas Huxley for his speculation about bird evolution), Sinosauropteryx (search on this word for 5 entries), and Epidexipteryx (10/22/2008) that feathers preceded flight.  Again, this only makes sense if you already worship Darwin.  Their closing statement is so bizarre, it wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week and a new cartoon by Brett Miller (click on the Tweety Bird).  Watch for the glorification of Darwinian speculation, the big lie about feathered dinosaurs being “discovered,” and the miracle-working power of evolution personified:
    Palaeontologists are now beginning to think that their speculations weren’t nearly wild enough, and that feathers were indeed quite common in dinosaurs.
        The discovery of feathered dinosaurs not only vindicated the idea of transitional forms, but also showed that evolution has a way of coming up with a dazzling variety of solutions when we had no idea that there were even problems.  Flight could have been no more than an additional opportunity that presented itself to creatures already clothed in feathers.
    The leap of faith in that sentence is breathtaking.  There are so many adaptations required for flight, to glibly say that an opportunity presents itself and it happens exceeds the faith of a creationist by orders of magnitude.  Want to try out their explanation?  Stand at the top of a skyscraper.  Put on a Big Bird costume.  An opportunity for flight presents itself....
  4. Teeth:  Microevolution; irrelevant.  This gem is only a short, sweet anecdote about a lady scientist inspired by Darwin.  It ends with a plaudit for evo-devo.
  5. Vertebrate skeleton:  This is a bizarre concoction of recapitulation theory, speculation, circular reasoning and imposing Darwin on the data in the absence of evidence.  They pretend this helps doctors understand “several developmental disorders in humans,” as if evolution had anything to do with it.  Creationists believe that we have skeletal similarities to our fellow vertebrates; so what?  Circular argument; irrelevant.
  6. Speciation:  More stickleback fish propaganda (search on stickleback in the search bar above).  Microevolution; irrelevant.
  7. Lizards:  Microevolution; irrelevant.
  8. Co-evolution:  A so-called evolutionary arms race between water fleas and parasites that infect them.  Both species remain what they were; no new organs or new genetic information.  Microevolution; irrelevant.
  9. Bird dispersal:  This is about gene flow in one species of bird.  Microevolution; irrelevant.
  10. Guppies:  An argument for “frequency-dependent survival” in genetic polymorphisms of one species of guppy.  Microevolution; irrelevant.
  11. Evolutionary history matters:  This entry assumes evolution to prove evolution.  Circular reasoning; irrelevant.  The authors talk about “evolution’s breathtaking solution” to a feeding problem in moray eels.  No transitional forms mentioned, nor any mechanism for producing this “innovation” – just the assumption that Darwin did it somehow.  They opened, “Evolution is often thought to be about finding optimal solutions to the problems that life throws up.  But natural selection can only work with the materials at hand – materials that are themselves the results of many millions of years of evolutionary history.”  Is restating their belief with sufficient chutzpah supposed to convince a doubter?
  12. Galapagos Finches:  Good grief.  For them to keep tossing up this discredited story and thinking that an admitted case of microevolution that oscillates beak size with climate by a few millimeters is going to convince the rest of us that humans have bacteria ancestors, it’s no showdown at all.  “The study shows how biologists are going beyond the mere documentation of evolutionary change to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms,” they said.  Well, fine.  The history of alchemy motivated many new techniques that later helped chemists.
  13. Microevolution meets macroevolution:  All right, folks, here it is: the rubber meets the road.  This must be a good one.  Ready?  “We can infer from the fossil record that larger species-to-species changes, or macroevolution, also occur,” they said, ignoring the Cambrian explosion, “but they are naturally harder to observe in action.”  Enter Sean Carroll (the one at Howard Hughes Medical Institute) demonstrating spots on the wings of one species of fruit fly.  Whoa, that’s rich.  It gets worse.  The story revolves around considering some genes and transcription factors evolutionarily “ancient” and “ancestral.”  They just can’t quit their drunken-sailor walk of circular reasoning.  “This shows that a gene involved in one process can be co-opted for another, in principle driving macroevolutionary change.” 
  14. Toxin resistance:  A mutation breaks the gate that would otherwise allow a toxin to enter, in two different kinds of animals.  So evolution breaks things.  And your point is?
  15. Variation vs stability:  Let’s see if they saved their best for last.  Nope; foul.  They have just inserted teleology back into evolution, committing the very infraction Darwin declared a mortal sin. 
    Species can remain mostly unchanged for millions of years, long enough for us to pick up their traces in the fossil record.  But they change, too, and often very suddenly.  This has led some to wonder whether species – usually those developing along specific tracks – store the potential for sudden change under the hood, unleashing a flood of otherwise hidden variation at times of environmental stress – variation on which selection can act.
    They call this phenomenon of stored variation “evolutionary capacitance.”  Giving something a name is not an argument.  Need we remind the gunslinger trio that capacitors are built by intelligent engineers?  This argument does not rule out a Creator planning in some adaptability and robustness to his intelligently-designed creations – organisms that must survive a dynamic environment.  The creationists demand their gems back.
        Notice the reliance of this argument on punctuated equilibria, Stephen Jay Gould’s pet theory on why the evidence for evolution is missing.  You would think they would not entertain such anti-gradualist heresies for Darwin Day (read what one Darwinist thinks about Gould in the 12/19/2008 entry, bullet 2).  You would think also that this trio would not be handing their ammunition to the creationists to use against them.
Creationists really don’t mind the arsenal.  They will let the Darwinists shoot a thousand pearl-handled hunks of dead iron loaded with blanks all they want.  They’re still comin’ to save the town from the crooked sheriffs holding the citizens hostage.
Exercise:  Is “evolutionary thinking” an oxymoron?  Defend your answer.
Next headline on:  Evolutionary TheoryFossilsBirdsDinosaursMammalsTerrestrial ZoologyGenetics
The 8th edition of Walt Brown’s fact-filled encyclopedia of creation, In the Beginning, has just been published.  Not only is the latest edition loaded with updates and additions – the entire book is available on the web.  Dr. Brown’s material is carefully researched and convincingly argued.  Filled with color photos, charts and graphs, the book brims with interesting facts that contradict evolution and establish creation as the best explanation in all areas of science: geology, biology, and astronomy.  If you want a one-volume, all-around resource on creation vs. evolution, it’s hard to find a better choice.

Religion: The Evolution of Self-Control   01/01/2009    
Jan 1, 2009 — A psychologist came up with a new theory of how religion evolved.  It evolved to give people more self-control.
    Science Daily reported the ideas of Miami psychologist Michael McCullough.  Basically, “Religion May Have Evolved Because Of Its Ability To Help People Exercise Self-control,” the article states, with a picture of a rural church to boot.  Self-control is a nice thing to have.  Apparently, it produces fitness.  “This, in turn, might help explain why religious people tend to have lower rates of substance abuse, better school achievement, less delinquency, better health behaviors, less depression, and longer lives.
    McCullough was non-sectarian with his view.  The article “explained” how “the same social force that motivates acts of charity and generosity can also motivate people to strap bomb belts around their waists and then blow themselves up in crowded city buses.”  It’s a little more challenging to see why that would improve fitness, but to him, evolution teaches that “religion can motivate people to do just about anything.” 
    Maybe one thing evolution could do to help scientists is help them get their origin of species doctrine right.  Another article on Science Daily announced, “Longstanding Theory Of Origin Of Species In Oceans Challenged.”  According to our 01/15/2003 entry, this has been a religious war of sorts within the Darwinist camp.  Sympatric speciation is struggling against allopatric speciation for survival of the fittest theory.  In the oceans, the heretics are winning.  Maybe they have a better navy.

Let’s get this straight.  Religious people have self-control, therefore religious people are more fit.  The question becomes, is it a lack of self-control that is causing Darwinists to say stupid things?
    Brace yourself; we’re going to hear a lot more nonsense in the month leading up the King Charles’ 200th Birthday Re-Coronation Ceremony.  You see what they do, don’t you?  They gloss over the real issues by asking how religion evolved, not whether religion evolved.
    This tactic is just the bully asserting his turf.  The way to stand down a bully is to face him without flinching and turn his energy against him.  Don’t accept his premise; fling it right back at him.  Ask him if he is just saying that because he is a sinner looking to rationalize his evil ways.  “What evil ways?” he will sputter.  “Why, the evil of contradicting yourself.”  “What?” he will say, looking flabbergasted.  “Right,” you continue nonchalantly, pointing out that he said religious people tend to have longer lives.  “How does a young boy blowing up a school bus have a longer life?  How could that evolve?” you ask, diverging temporarily into a discussion of why a theory that explains opposite things explains nothing at all.  “And come to think of it,” you continue gently but relentlessly, “if religion is a positive thing, what religion are you?”  He mumbles that he is an atheist.  “Then according to your own theory, you are less fit.  In fact, you look kind of depressed and delinquent today.  Better get on a fitness program.  Why not make a New Year’s resolution to get some self-control and righteousness in your life, and quit the habit of making up stories out of your own imagination?  Come on, I’ll take you to church where we can learn about Truth that doesn’t evolve.”
    The evolution-of-everything crowd can’t even get their basic core ideas on the origin of species right 150 years after Darwin supposedly figured it out, and they want us to think they can explain religion.  Well if religion evolved, it evolved downward from a true knowledge of God to all kinds of deceptions and lies, including evolution.  Time for an update of Darwin’s title: On the origin of specious ideas by natural man’s rejection of evident creation in the struggle for existentialism.  But then he would be plagiarizing Paul.
Next headline on:  EvolutionTheologyDumb Ideas

Scientist of the Month

Find our articles in:
Dutch  Spanish  Russian
Guide to Evolution
Write Us!

“I just wanted to write in to express my personal view that everyone at Creation Evolution Headlines is doing an excellent job!  I have confidences that in the future, Creation Evolution Headline will continue in doing such a great job!
    Anyone who has interest at where science, as a whole, is at in our current times, does not have to look very hard to see that science is on the verge of a new awakening....
    It’s not uncommon to find articles that are supplemented with assumptions and vagueness.  A view point the would rather keep knowledge in the dark ages.  But when I read over the postings on CEH, I find a view point that looks past the grayness.  The whole team at CEH helps cut through the assumptions of weary influences.
    CEH helps illuminate the true picture that is shining in today’s science.  A bright clear picture, full of intriguing details, independence and fascinating complexities.
    I know that Creation Evolution Headlines has a growing and informative future before them.  I’m so glad to be along for the ride!!”
(a title insurance employee in Illinois, who called CEH “The Best Web Site EVER !!”)

“Thank you very much for your well presented and highly instructive blog” [news service].
(a French IT migration analyst working in London)

“Please keep up the great work -- your website is simply amazing!  Don’t know how you do it.  But it justs eviscerates every evolutionary argument they weakly lob up there -- kind of like serving up a juicy fastball to Hank Aaron in his prime!”
(a creation group leader in California)

“I just want to thank you for your outstanding job.  I am a regular reader of yours and even though language barrier and lack of deeper scientific insight play its role I still draw much from your articles and always look forward to them.”
(a financial manager and apologetics student in Prague, Czech Republic)

“You guys are doing a great job! ... I really appreciate the breadth of coverage and depth of analysis that you provide on this site.”
(a pathologist in Missouri)

“I have read many of your creation articles and have enjoyed and appreciated your website.  I feel you are an outstanding witness for the Lord.... you are making a big difference, and you have a wonderful grasp of the issues.”
(a PhD geneticist, author and inventor)

“Thank you for your great creation section on your website.  I come visit it every day, and I enjoy reading those news bits with your funny (but oh so true) commentaries.”
(a computer worker in France)

“I have been reading Creation Evolution Headlines for many years now with ever increasing astonishment.... I pray that God will bless your work for it has been a tremendous blessing for me and I thank you.”
(a retired surveyor in N.S.W. Australia)

“I totally enjoy the polemic and passionate style of CEH... simply refreshes the heart which its wonderful venting of righteous anger against all the BS we’re flooded with on a daily basis.  The baloney detector is just unbelievably great.  Thank you so much for your continued effort, keep up the good work.”
(an “embedded Linux hacker” in Switzerland)

“I love to read about science and intelligent design, I love your articles.... I will be reading your articles for the rest of my life.”
(an IT engineer and 3D animator in South Africa)

“I discovered your site about a year ago and found it to be very informative, but about two months back I decided to go back to the 2001 entries and read through the headlines of each month.... What a treasure house of information! have been very balanced and thoughtful in your analysis, with no embarrassing predictions, or pronouncements or unwarranted statements, but a very straightforward and sometimes humorous analysis of the news relating to origins.”
(a database engineer in New York)

“I discovered your site several months ago.... I found your articles very informative and well written, so I subscribed to the RSS feed.  I just want to thank you for making these articles available and to encourage you to keep up the good work!”
(a software engineer in Texas)

“Your piece on ‘Turing Test Stands’ (09/14/2008) was so enlightening.  Thanks so much.  And your piece on ‘Cosmology at the Outer Limits” (06/30/2008) was another marvel of revelation.  But most of all your ‘footnotes’ at the end are the most awe-inspiring.  I refer to ‘Come to the light’ and Psalm 139 and many others.  Thanks so much for keeping us grounded in the TRUTH amidst the sea of scientific discoveries and controversy.  It’s so heartwarming and soul saving to read the accounts of the inspired writers testifying to the Master of the Universe.  Thanks again.”
(a retired electrical engineer in Mississippi)

“I teach a college level course on the issue of evolution and creation.  I am very grateful for your well-reasoned reports and analyses of the issues that confront us each day.  In light of all the animosity that evolutionists express toward Intelligent Design or Creationism, it is good to see that we on the other side can maintain our civility even while correcting and informing a hostile audience.  Keep up the good work and do not compromise your high standards.  I rely on you for alerting me to whatever happens to be the news of the day.”
(a faculty member at a Bible college in Missouri)

“Congratulations on reaching 8 years of absolute success with Your knowledge and grasp of the issues are indeed matched by your character and desire for truth, and it shows on every web page you write.... I hope your work extends to the ends of the world, and is appreciated by all who read it.”
(a computer programmer from Southern California)

“Your website is one of the best, especially for news.... Keep up the great work.”
(a science writer in Texas)

“I appreciate the work you’ve been doing with the Creation-Evolution Headlines website.”
(an aerospace engineer for NASA)

“I appreciate your site tremendously.... I refer many people to your content frequently, both personally and via my little blog.... Thanks again for one of the most valuable websites anywhere.”
(a retired biology teacher in New Jersey, whose blog features beautiful plant and insect photographs)

“I don’t remember exactly when I started reading your site but it was probably in the last year.  It’s now a staple for me.  I appreciate the depth of background you bring to a wide variety of subject areas.”
(a software development team leader in Texas)

“I want to express my appreciation for what you are doing.  I came across your website almost a year ago.... your blog [sic; news service] is one that I regularly read.  When it comes to beneficial anti-evolutionist material, your blog has been the most helpful for me.”
(a Bible scholar and professor in Michigan)

“I enjoyed reading your site.  I completely disagree with you on just about every point, but you do an excellent job of organizing information.”
(a software engineer in Virginia.  His criticisms led to an engaging dialogue.  He left off at one point, saying, “You have given me much to think about.”)

“I have learned so much since discovering your site about 3 years ago.  I am a homeschooling mother of five and my children and I are just in wonder over some the discoveries in science that have been explored on creation-evolution headlines.  The baloney detector will become a part of my curriculum during the next school year.  EVERYONE I know needs to be well versed on the types of deceptive practices used by those opposed to truth, whether it be in science, politics, or whatever the subject.”
(a homeschooling mom in Mississippi)

“Just wanted to say how much I love your website.  You present the truth in a very direct, comprehensive manner, while peeling away the layers of propaganda disguised as 'evidence' for the theory of evolution.”
(a health care worker in Canada)

“I’ve been reading you daily for about a year now.  I’m extremely impressed with how many sources you keep tabs on and I rely on you to keep my finger on the pulse of the controversy now.”
(a web application programmer in Maryland)

“I would like to express my appreciation for your work exposing the Darwinist assumptions and speculation masquerading as science.... When I discovered your site through a link... I knew that I had struck gold! ....Your site has helped me to understand how the Darwinists use propaganda techniques to confuse the public.  I never would have had so much insight otherwise... I check your site almost daily to keep informed of new developments.”
(a lumber mill employee in Florida)

“I have been reading your website for about the past year or so.  You are [an] excellent resource.  Your information and analysis is spot on, up to date and accurate.  Keep up the good work.”
(an accountant in Illinois)

“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 don’t 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)

More feedback

Featured Creation Scientist for January

Mortimer Adler
1902 - 2001

Mortimer Adler was one of the great intellectual giants of the 20th century.  Among his credits were Chairman of the Board of the Encyclopedia Britannica and compiler of the Great Books of the Western World.  This set of 54 volumes of intellectual literature ranging from the Greeks to the early 20th century has sold half a million copies; it graces many a scholarly home’s library and university philosophy department.  In addition, Adler wrote 45 successful books of his own, like How to Read a Book and The Difference in Man and the Difference it Makes (see bibliography at The Great Ideas website).  Adler was a lifelong opponent of Darwinism.

Dr. Adler received a PhD in Psychology from Columbia University, but was primarily a scholar in intellectual history and philosophy and an advocate for liberal arts education, which should include familiarity with the long intellectual tradition of the Western world.  It’s important for observers of the creation-evolution controversy to recognize that great thinkers like Dr. Adler, not just religious fundamentalists, have stood against Darwin’s views.  Adler was familiar as few others with the range of philosophical and scientific ideas about man and his place in the cosmos; he himself recast the cosmological argument for the existence of God in 20th-century dress.  That a man of his erudition and eminence would oppose the scientific consensus regarding evolution is telling.

Adler argued against Darwin’s views on both scientific and rational grounds – not religious dogma (he did not become a Christian himself till age 82, long after most of his books were written).  He observed that Darwin’s theory was nothing more than historical mythmaking, and the evidence opposes it.  With debaters the likes of Mortimer Adler standing in their way, Darwinists cannot charge that their opponents are ignorant or religiously motivated.  Dr. Adler further argued that Darwin’s theory is intellectually bankrupt because it dehumanizes man and makes his intellectual faculties no different from those of the animals.  The Darwinian view of man, he argued, undermines all claims to rationality.

Mortimer Adler could certainly hold his own against the Darwinists, and he did so in dialogues in some of his books.  He could call forth on demand quotations from Anselm, Aquinas, Averroes, Aristotle, Adam Smith, or whomever was needed to support a point.  He could speak to fine points of philosophy, psychology, ethics, aesthetics, and theology.  This was no lightweight standing in opposition to the Darwinists and positivists.  He was, after all, the compiler of the Great Books.

Dr. Adler understood the criticality of the debate over Darwin’s views.  He marked history as BD and AD: before Darwin and after Darwin.  No serious intellectual, he said, even Hobbes and Hume, had suggested that the human mind was continuous with that of the animals.  Calling Darwin’s theory a wild speculation, a grand myth, he engaged in a decades-long crusade against Darwinism in his books and conferences, yet with the armor of a respected scholar.

An excellent article on Mortimer Adler’s views on evolution was written by Dr. Jerry Bergman, available in PDF form at CMI.  We defer to this article for more information and recommend going there now.  Bergman also included a section on Adler in his new book Slaughter of the Dissidents.  Bergman uses Adler, Von Braun and Ernst Chain as three examples of scientists who were not ruthlessly attacked for doubting Darwin.

As Darwin’s 200th birthday approaches next month, the hype is bound to get hysterical.  Darwinists will attempt to lump all doubters with religious fundamentalists and ignoramuses who want to set back American progress to the dark ages.  Would that Dr. Mortimer Adler were still with us to set the record straight.

Some of Mortimer Adler’s books can be read online.  The Radical Academy Philosophy website includes links to some of Adler’s 200 articles and many of his books.  A search on Google Books can locate titles like How to Think About the Great Ideas and How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th Century Pagan.  A Google search will turn up a great deal more material on the man and his writings.

If you are enjoying this series, you can learn more about great Christians in science by reading our online book-in-progress:
The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.

A Concise Guide
to Understanding
Evolutionary Theory

You can observe a lot by just watching.
– Yogi Berra

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.

Darwin’s Law
Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.
Bloch’s Extension
So will Darwinists.

Finagle’s Creed
Science is true.  Don’t be misled by facts.

Finagle’s 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.

Finagle’s Rules
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.

Murphy’s Law of Research
Enough research will tend to support your theory.

Maier’s Law
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.

Eddington’s Theory
The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.

Young’s Law
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.

Peer’s Law
The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.

Peter’s Law of Evolution
Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.

Weinberg’s Corollary
An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.

Souder’s Law
Repetition does not establish validity.

Cohen’s Law
What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts – not the facts themselves.

Harrison’s Postulate
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

Thumb’s Second Postulate
An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.

Ruckert’s Law
There is nothing so small that it can’t 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.

Macbeth’s Law
The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory.

Disraeli’s Dictum
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

Maxwell’s Motivation

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,
Wisdom’s 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).

More Feedback
Write Us!

“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 Creation-Evolution Headlines.
(Access Research Network 12/28/2007).

”Your website is simply the best (and I’d dare say one of the most important) web sites on the entire WWW.”
(an IT specialist at an Alabama university)

“I’ve been reading the articles on this website for over a year, and I’m guilty of not showing any appreciation.  You provide a great service.  It’s 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 don’t 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  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 the internet!”
(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, it’s apparent you’ve 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 website!”
(an amateur astronomer in San Diego)

“What an absolutely brilliant website you have.  It’s 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)

“I’ve 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 don’t 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 Bloglines.”
(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)

“I’ve told many people about your site.  It’s a tremendous service to science news junkies – not to mention students of both Christianity and Science.  Kudos!”
(a meteorology research scientist in Alabama)

“...let me thank you for your Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I’ve 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 appear—often 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, thoughtful analyses?!”
(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!  I’ve 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 don’t 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 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 evolution’s 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.  It’s such a refreshing difference from the usual media spin.  Often you’ll 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 can’t 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 don’t 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, I’ve 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 don’t know enough to respond to their claims.  Thanks for your good work and keep it up.”
(a missionary in Japan)

“I just thought I’d write and tell you how much I appreciate your headline list and commentary.  It’s 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 resource.“
(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!  I’m 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 don’t 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.  You’re 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 can’t tell you how much I enjoy your article reviews on your website—it’s 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 layman’s 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)

“I’m pleased to see... your amazing work on the ‘Headlines’.”
(secretary of a creation society in the UK)

“We appreciate all you do at”
(a publisher of creation and ID materials)

“I was grateful for 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 don’t know.  But all things, including the laws of nature, originate from God.... To deny evolution is to deny God’s 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”
(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, I’ve found that many of them do not stay current with relative information.  I love the almost daily updates to your ‘headlines’ section.  I’ve 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 can’t wait for the next update.  That’s 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.  I’ll 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 [] 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 we’ve 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 clear thinking!
(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 that’s been going on. Now, I’m 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 they’ve 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 you’re 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)

“I’m a small town newspaper editor in southwest Wyoming.  We’re pretty isolated, and finding your site was a great as finding a gold mine.  I read it daily, and if there’s nothing new, I re-read everything.  I follow links.  I read the Scientist of the Month.  It’s the best site I’ve 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 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 life’s education has been a lie!!!’  I’ve 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...I’ve 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, I’ve found it.  2. You have balanced fun with this topic.  This is hugely valuable!  Smug Christianity is ugly, and I don’t 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.  That’s 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 science.’”
(a project manager in New Jersey)

“I’ve 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 you’re 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.  It’s incredible – I don’t know how you do it.  I can’t 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 Darwin’s 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 07/10/2005 commentary)

“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 can’t stop reading it....  I also enjoy your insightful and humorous commentary at the end of each story.  If the evolutionists’ blindness wasn’t 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, I’m 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.  I’ve 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 don’t 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 that’s 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 Awareness Center)

“Hey Friends, Check out this site: Creation-Evolution Headlines.  This is a fantastic resource for the whole family.... a fantastic reference library with summaries, commentaries and great links that are added to daily—archives go back five years.”
(a reader who found us in Georgia)

“I just wanted to drop you a note telling you that at, I’ve 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?  Isn’t 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)

“I’ve had your Creation/Evolution Headlines site on my favourites list for 18 months now, and I can truthfully say that it’s 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.  I’m 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 humor).”
(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 I’m not being presumptuous in suspecting the existence of contributions from a ‘Truth Underground’ comprised of dissident college faculty, teachers, scientists, and engineers.  If that’s 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)

“I’m from Quebec, Canada.  I have studied in ‘pure sciences’ and after in actuarial mathematics.  I’m visiting this site 3-4 times in a week.  I’m 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.  OUTSTANDING JOB!!!!”
(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.  It’s great to see real science directly on the front lines, toe to toe with the pseudoscience that's mindlessly spewed from the ‘prestigious’ science journals.”
(a biology student in Illinois)

“I’ve been checking in for a long time but thought I’d 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.  I’m 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 light.”
(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 reader’s interest.”
(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.  I’m a Christian that is interested in science (I’m 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 I’ve 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)

“I’ve 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 don’t 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 insight.”
(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)

“It’s like ‘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 it’s 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 conclusion.”
(a medical doctor)

“A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.  I told him”
(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 informative.”
(a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)

“I still 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 see–very much.  I really appreciate a decent, calm and scholarly approach to the whole issue... Thanks ... for this fabulous endeavor–it’s superb!”

“It is refreshing to read your comments.  You have a knack to get to the heart of the matter.”
(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 Baloney Detector.”
(a scientist).

“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

“WOW.  Unbelievable.... My question is, do you sleep? ... I’m utterly impressed by your page which represents untold amounts of time and energy as well as your faith.”
(a mountain man in Alaska).

“Just 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.  I’ll 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)

Disclaimer: Creation-Evolution Headlines includes links to many external sites, but takes no responsibility for the accuracy or legitimacy of their content.  Inclusion of an external link is strictly for the reader’s convenience, and does not necessarily constitute endorsement of the material or its authors, owners, or sponsors.