Creation-Evolution Headlines
December 2009
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“The success of Darwinism was accomplished by a decline in scientific integrity.”
“The general tendency to eliminate, by means of unverifiable speculations, the limits of the categories nature presents to us, is the inheritance of biology from the Origin of Species.  To establish the continuity required by theory, historical arguments are invoked, even though historical evidence is lacking.  Thus are engendered those fragile towers of hypotheses based on hypotheses, where fact and fiction intermingle in an inextricable confusion.”

—W.R. Thompson, Introduction to Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (Dutton: Everyman’s Library, 1956).  Thompson was Director of the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control, Ottawa.

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What was your favorite story of 2009?
As we close out the Year of Darwin, what article in Creation-Evolution Headlines did you find the most interesting or influential in 2009?  Send in your nomination to our Feedback address with the permalink of the article (the address attached to the push-pin icon).  Let your top story be pointed out to our readers.  Your name and email address will be kept private.  Grow our list!

  • Microscopy’s Golden Age Is At Hand: Dec 06  (a reader in Australia)
  • For His Birthday, Darwin Loses His Tree: Jan 22  (a reader in Alabama)
  • Paper View: Darwin, of All the Nerve: July 4  (a reader in California)
  • All of them! especially, World’s Smallest Rotary Engine: May 25  (a reader in Illinois)
  • Everything You Know About Natural Selection Is Wrong: Oct 16  (a reader in Japan)
  • Who Needs Embryonic Stem Cells? 05/03/2009  (a reader in Texas)
  • Birds Did Not Evolve From Dinosaurs: June 9 and Ardi Party Is Over: Nov 25  (a reader in Texas)

Top Nominees for
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Darwin Bicentennial

Write our Feedback line and vote for your three biggest groaners of the year!  Help us tally up the baloneys.  While you’re at it, vote also for the most interesting or influential entry of the year (see above).

  • January
    [1a] “They evolve, a la Darwin” 01/11/2009).
    [1b] The gargle singing American Idol fish (01/29/2009).
  • February
    [2a] “Modern Darwins don’t have to guess.  They consult genetic scripture” (02/01/2009).
    [2b] “Evolution... a master efficiency expert for living factories” (02/06/2009).
    [2c] Star children for Darwin (02/28/2009).
  • March
    [3a] Inner ape misses his salty inner fish (03/11/2009).
    [3b] Makes sense: “As you become more complex, you would want to fine-tune things” (03/13/2009).
    [3c] “What happy accident of nature led to the first tiny glimmer of life?... the sparkle of a crystal” (03/20/2009).
  • April
    [4a]“Aliens didn’t engineer our species.  The evolution of DNA did” (04/22/2009)
    [4b] “Assuming natural selection evolves the best possible solution” (04/18/2009).
  • May
    [5a] Evolution of language from snakebite (05/01/2009).
    [5b] “When thinking of evolution and Darwin, most people think of animals or trees.  That’s too bad, because design features are everywhere in nature” (05/07/02009).
    [5c] “When evolution has lucked into efficient solutions for life’s most fundamental problems, it adopts them as invaluable family heirlooms, passing them down as one species evolves into another” (05/18/2009).
  • June
    [6a] “Could my own thinking be working by trapping useful ideas from a pool of noise?” (06/02/2009).
    [6b] Using intelligent design of automobiles to explain Darwinism: “biological life, and capitalist economies, have been shaped over generations” (06/03/2009).
    [6c] Tickle me Darwin (06/08/2009).
    [6d] Plants and animals discover “convergent aerodynamic solution in the evolution of flight performance” (06/16/2009);
  • July
    [7a] A “strong evolutionary advantage to a mathematical mind” (07/06/2009).
    [7b] “Early microbes may have relied on lightning to cook their dinner” (07/13/2009).
    [7c] Aliens have already “made the transition from biological to engineered intelligence, and left behind the quaint paradigm of spongy brains sloshing in salt water” (07/16/2009.
    [7d] Give evolution a helping hand (07/21/2009).
    [7e] We need to “prevent ourselves from quenching the very forces that fuel the continuous creation of new life forms on earth” (07/26/2009).
  • August
    [8a] “Darwinian variation and selection kick in only once a technology exists” (08/19/2009).
    [8b] “Why these evolutionary losers are still around is a very hard thing to explain” (08/25/2009).
    [8c] Makes evolutionary sense: “An aversion to spiders may help women avoid dangerous animals, but in men evolution seems to have favoured more risk-taking behaviour for successful hunting” (08/29/2009).
  • September
    [9a] “Modern human cognition, including language and other complex symbolic behavior, needed the additional kick-start of a genetic mutation about 50,000 years ago” (09/02/2009).
    [9b] “We are all mutants... this provides insights into our evolution” (09/02/2009).
  • October
    [10a] “Dark is the new black: Almost nothing is understood about either dark matter or dark energy – but both ... will shape the fate of the entire cosmos” (10/08/2009).
    [10b] The Monkees rhythm band: “When monkeys drum, they activate brain networks linked with communication, new findings that suggest a common origin of primate vocal and nonvocal communication systems and shed light on the origins of language and music” (10/17/2009).
    [10c] After the Cambrian Explosion did its design work, “Fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians, plants, mammals and human beings were finally on their way” (10/28/2009).
    [10d] “Any planet that’s like Earth is going to produce it.  There are so many pathways to the origin of life that it’s going to happen. ... If you knew a system had planets with bodies of water on them, that would be a habitability index of 1” (10/31/2009);
  • November
    [11a] “Providing children with an understanding of it [evolution] at the earliest possible age will surely help lay the foundations for a surer scientific understanding later on” (11/10/2009).
    [11b] “Altruism is possible among plants” (11/11/2009).
  • December
    [12a] “Male and female shopping styles are in our genes – and we can look to evolution for the reason” (12/04/2009).
    [12b] Watch music evolve right before your eyes (12/13/2009, bullet 1).
    [12c] “Early birds may have dropped teeth to get airborne” and this loss was “No evolutionary fluke” because “natural selection may have put pressure on weaker fliers to lose their teeth in a bid to improve their skills by losing excess weight” (12/13/2009, bullet 3).

So Long Darwin Bicentennial   12/31/2009    
Dec 31, 2009 — Even some Darwinians are growing weary of Darwin hoopla.  The Darwin Bicentennial and Origin of Species 150th Anniversary celebrations have come and gone, but Darwin is just as contentious and controversial as ever.  Historians may remember not just the pro-Darwin celebrations of 2009, but the strong internet and media presence of Darwin skeptics.
    On the pro-Darwin side, Science magazine wrapped up its year-long blog Origins announcing its last post.  “Of course, Science’s interest in origins and all things evolutionary continues,” wrote bloggers Elisabeth Pennisi, Elisabeth Culotta and John Travis.  “For although 2009’s evolutionary parties are ending, the science behind them continues to serve as the firm foundation of modern biology as well as a rich source of new research.”  Nature’s feature Darwin 200 appears to be winding down, too.  Other December entries by Science Origins included reports of a Darwin Festival on Cambridge and a Darwin-themed string quartet.   All the posts were pulled into the page www.sciencemag.org/darwin, where the only mention of skepticism of Darwinism included scare headlines about creationists influencing school boards.  “Eugenie Scott Toils in Defense of Evolution,” encouraged one headline.  The complete works of Darwin were posted online by the Cambridge University Library.  Corresponding with the Darwin hype were strident anti-religious attacks by the “new atheists” like Richard Dawkins, who not only portrays all religion as silly if not evil, but in the same breath proclaims Darwinian evolution as the “greatest show on earth.”
    The anti-Darwin side capitalized on the Darwin Bicentennial with strong initiatives of their own.  Three films were released: The Voyage that Shook the World by CMI, God of Wonders by Eternal Films, and Darwin’s Dilemma by Illustra Media.  The latter was scheduled to be shown in the California Science Center on Oct. 25 but the sponsor’s contract was dropped unexpectedly and they sued (see 12/30/2009).  Calvary Chapel hosted a Darwin Was Wrong conference.  ICR held several “Demand the Evidence” conferences.  The Discovery Institute’s blog Evolution News & Views was very active all year, as was I.D. leader William Dembski’s blog, Uncommon Descent.  Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell was among many new books highlighting flaws in evolutionary theory and making a case for intelligent design.  Here at Creation-Evolution Headlines, we reported 170 news stories with commentary related to Darwin and his theory of evolution – an average of 14 per month.
    Around America and Europe debates were held, panel discussions presented various views, and a great deal of ink was spilt about the hirsute guru of biology.  It would be hard to think of any other scientist or thinker who gets the attention Darwin gets.  The 50-year interval celebrations of 1909, 1959, and 2009 have become increasingly boisterous and vociferous.  Like it or not, the ghost of Charles Darwin is not leaving the culture any time soon.  And whether the pro-Darwinists like it or not, his skeptics are advancing and increasing their influence – especially with alternative media and world-wide internet access giving them platforms they lacked to counter the mainstream media 50 and 100 years ago.
This has actually been a great year for the Darwin skeptics.  Sure, the Darwin Party hacks stride about as pompous as ever, but they seem to be making more furtive glances from side to side.  Eugenie Scott and Michael Shermer try unsuccessfully to shush the radical atheists from their harsh rhetoric, knowing it is politically expedient to present a gentle Darwin who can be piteous to religious people.  After all, they just don’t understand “science” (the Darwin Thought Collective, that is).
    Their targets, however, are marching about with confidence, scholarship, charm, and scientific ammunition, increasing in numbers.  People are seeing through the ridicule and fear mongering by the Darwinists and realizing that most of the skeptics are sharp, smart people who are making good scientific and philosophical points.  Then just when E. Scott and her propagandists were poised to repeat their talking points about the Rules of Science, Climategate threw another curve ball into the game late in the year, showing that the Consensus of the Academic Community can be just as doggedly perverse as politicians (11/26/2009).  What a story – one of the biggest hyped consensuses of modern times was shown to be underlain by shenanigans, secret dealing, evidence-tampering and marginalization of opponents, while their big Copenhagen political gala was slowed down by one of the biggest snows in their history, casting doubt on the claims about global warming.    The parallels to the Darwin Consensus were not lost by the critics.
    So it’s done.  The Darwinists have had their silly party (09/30/2009).  They’ve gorged on their booze and croissants, sung their silly songs, worn their silly T-shirts, chanted their silly mantras (and hate speeches against their critics), watched their silly dancers and worshipped their bearded buddha.  Our readers have chuckled at all the Stupid Evolution Quotes.  Party’s over.  Now it’s time to get serious and shout, The buddha is naked.
    By the way, don’t forget: 2009 was also the International Year of Astronomy (400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of the telescope), and the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln.
Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolutionary TheoryIntelligent DesignMedia
SETI Will Turn 50 in 2010   12/31/2009    
Dec 31, 2009 — There hasn’t been much news about SETI lately, but expect more in the coming year.  In April 1960, 50 years ago, Frank Drake began the first SETI search with radio telescopes called Project Ozma (see SETI Institute description).  No undeniable signal of intelligent origin was found that year or in the 50 years since, despite increases in search sensitivity and scope by many orders of magnitude.  Drake, now 50 years older and wiser, is still considered a founding father of SETI and is featured prominently on the SETI Institute website.  The SETI Institute fired up its most powerful search tool ever this year: the Allen Telescope Array (financed prominently by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen; see 10/12/2007).
    There will probably be an increase in reporting and hoopla about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in 2010.  New Scientist mentioned this on December 23.  Actually, 2009 was a 50th anniversary for SETI, too.  Last September, Nature printed an editorial supporting SETI on the 50th anniversary of the first scientific paper that presented, in 1959, the possibility of a search using radio frequencies (09/20/2009).  The Editorial said, “Regardless of how exhaustively the Galaxy is searched, the null result of radio silence doesn’t rule out the existence of alien civilizations.  It means only that those civilizations might not be using radio to communicate.”  Nature didn’t mention the other possibility – that there are no aliens.
If any business were celebrating 50 years of good intentions but absolute failure, the press would have a field day mocking them.  SETI, however, is forgiven, because its occult practitioners are materialists and pro-Darwin.  They get a free pass into the scientific community, otherwise known as the Darwin Thought Collective.
    Project Ozma was inspired by the Wizard of Oz tale.  And they thought Darwin skeptics were not in Kansas any more (04/21/2005).
Next headline on:  SETI
  Human evolution was falsified five years ago (12/30/2004), paleoanthropologists had a brawl over their disagreements (12/21/2004), but Ardipithecus still made Science magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year for 2009.  Isn’t falsification working?

L.A. Museum Sued Over I.D.   12/30/2009    
Dec 30, 2009 — They had a contract.  The American Freedom Alliance (AFA), which takes no official position on Darwinism vs Intelligent Design but wanted to present both sides of what they considered an important public issue, was scheduled to show two films at the California Science Center’s IMAX Theater – one which assumes evolution, and one which argues against Darwin.  A press release from the Discovery Institute (which was sending some of its representatives for a follow-up panel discussion) somehow prompted the Center to cancel the contract, leaving the AFA scrambling to find another venue.  The event was held Oct. 25 to a smaller audience at USC with poorer projection facilities.  The AFA is suing the California Science Center for breach of contract.  They issued a press release on their AFA website (PDF format).  AFA President Avi Davis explained their case: “The Center is a public institution and our event was planned as a debate with both sides of the controversy represented.  It is Orwellian when a public institution tries to suppress particular ideas it deems unsavory.  It can be likened to a public library removing certain books from its shelves because the librarian disagrees with the viewpoints expressed in them.”  The lawsuit alleges that the Center “conspired to drop the event because they did not want the museum to be viewed as legitimizing intelligent design as a scientific theory,” and claims that pressure was brought to bear on the Center from the Smithsonian and other institutions to drop the event.
    The AFA also held “The Darwin Debates,” a debate on the origin and evolution of life, at a theater in Beverly Hills on November 30, featuring Michael Shermer and Donald Prothero defending Darwin and Stephen Meyer and Richard Sternberg opposing.  A recording of this debate is available on the AFA website.
    Mike Boehm at the Los Angeles Times reported on the lawsuit and what occasioned it, but presented a biased definition of intelligent design that its proponents would not accept:

Intelligent design is the theory that an intelligent being, rather than impersonal forces such as Darwinian natural selection, is responsible for shaping life on Earth.  An overwhelming majority of scientists and science and natural history museums consider the theory of evolution to have been proved beyond a doubt by genetic and fossil evidence.  Critics of intelligent design have dismissed it as a superficially scientific cloak for the straightforwardly religious belief known as Creationism that’s anchored in a literal reading of the biblical Book of Genesis.
The official definition of intelligent design seen on the Discovery Institute’s IntelligentDesign.org site states simply, “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”
    John West at the Discovery Institute published a rebuttal to the LA Times article at Evolution News and Views explaining the Institute’s view of what transpired and why the California Science Center’s censorship of intelligent design was a big deal.  The previous day, Robert Crowther on Evolution News and Views explained the connection with the Smithsonian.
OK, you have links to both sides of this dispute.  Are you going to trust one of the most left-wing newspapers in the country to give a fair report, when they can’t get the definition of I.D. right, and insist on misrepresenting the views of the plaintiffs?  As news develops about this lawsuit, we will report it, or you can go to the sites above for information.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignPolitics and EthicsBible and TheologyMedia
Robot Designers Strive to Match Animals   12/30/2009    
Dec 30, 2009 — Engineers feel great satisfaction when their robots can match just some of the feats of animals.  What does that say about the design of the animals?
  1. It’s a bird, it’s a plane:  The first “hummingbird robot” was unveiled by Japanese researcher Hiroshi Liu (Chiba University) in a press release published by PhysOrg.  The hand-sized device flaps its wings 30 times per second and can turn up, down, right or left, and fly a figure eight.  Its researchers, who spent the equivalent of $2.1 million dollars developing it, hope to use it to locate victims in trapped buildings or find criminals.  It’s clear they found nature inspiring: “First, we need to learn about effective mechanism from natural life forms, but we want to develop something to go beyond nature eventually,” Liu said.  See also our report about efforts to mimic hummingbird flight at the University of Buffalo (12/16/2009, bullet 2).
        The real bird still has some superior capabilities.  It can hover in place and see.  The robot designers hope to mimic hovering ability and add a camera in the next 15 months.  If they can get it to lay eggs and hatch baby robots, they’ll really be onto something.
  2. It’s a roach, it’s a rescuer:  Disgust is the reaction of most people to cockroaches.  Robot designers, though, stand in awe of them.  According to Science Daily, researchers at Oregon State are taking “bioinspiration” from the despised bugs in an effort to mimic their abilities.  “Cockroaches are incredible,” said John Schmitt, a professor of mechanical engineering at OSU.  “They can run fast, turn on a dime, move easily over rough terrain, and react to perturbations faster than a nerve impulse can travel.”
        This raises a question of how their movements are controlled.  According to Schmitt, “cockroaches don’t even have to think about running – they just do it, with muscle action that is instinctive and doesn’t require reflex control.”  Something, though, must be coordinating the motions of its six legs.  Whatever happens, the robot designers would like to imitate that trick.  The technology might find application in “military operations, law enforcement or space exploration” (but hopefully not in restaurant kitchens). 
        Schmitt had more to say about the wonder of cockroach scurrying.  “A cockroach doesn’t think much about running, it just runs.  And it only slows down about 20 percent when going over blocks that are three times higher than its hipsThat’s just remarkable, and an indication that their stability has to do with how they are built, rather than how they react.”
  3. Guinea henny penny.  The previous article on Science Daily jumped from cockroaches to chickens.  The article had this to say about guinea hens:
    The OSU researchers are trying to identify some of the basic biological and mechanical principles that allow certain animals to run so well and effortlessly.  A guinea hen, for instance, can change the length and angle of its spring-like legs to almost automatically adjust to an unexpected change in a ground surface as much as 40 percent of its hip height.  That would be like a human running at full speed, stepping into a 16-inch-deep hole and never missing a beat.
Robots built on these principles could be used to venture into dangerous places, rove the planet Mars, perform aerial reconnaissance and many other things.  The resulting control technologies might also find their way into improved prosthetic devices and materials.
    By funding efforts to imitate the feats of animals to the tune of millions of dollars, and by setting up research departments based on “bioinspiration,” scientists and engineers are tacitly admitting that the design specs in the living world are of such high quality they deserve to be imitated.
In all the biomimetics stories we have reported over the years, the researchers generally express awe and amazement at what animals and plants can do.  They don’t say, “what a sloppy design; we human designers can do much better.”  Instead, the attitude is usually a humble spirit of wonder at how easy “nature” conquers difficult tasks.  References to evolution in such articles are typically very short and stupid, like “clever solutions that emerged in the course of evolution” (12/16/2009).
    There’s nothing like imitation to teach a person the difficulty in a task.  A music critic can disdain a performance until he or she tries to compose or perform a piece.  A baseball fan can lambaste a pitcher from the stands till he tries to pitch a 90mph fastball against a skilled batter.  It’s easier to complain about the food than to cook it.  Biomimetics has opened up a whole new crowd of potential intelligent design advocates, by having them go to the lab and try to duplicate the feats nature performs so effortlessly.  This might be good therapy for atheists.  Have them go into the lab and try to build a living cell from scratch with their own dirt.
Next headline on:  BirdsTerrestrial ZoologyPhysicsBiomimeticsIntelligent Design
Simplest Microbes More Complex than Thought   12/29/2009    
Dec 29, 2009 — The smallest, simplest cells are prokaryotes.  These are the bacteria and archaea that lack a nucleus and are usually considered primitive.  Scientists are finding, though, that they know many of the same tricks as the more complex nucleus-bearing eukaryotes.
    PhysOrg reported that a species of Mycoplasma, among the smallest independent-living bacteria, is more complex than thought:
Even the simplest cell appears to be far more complex than researchers had imagined.  In a series of three articles in the journal Science, researchers including Vera van Noort at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, have provided a complete picture of a single cell for the first time.  The study has provided important new insights for bacterial biology.  For instance, prokaryotes – cellular organisms without a cell nucleus – seem to be more similar to eukaryotes than was previously thought.
Among the discoveries is that “The bacteria appeared to be assembled in a far more complex way than had been thought.”  Many molecules were found to have multiple functions: for instance, some enzymes could catalyze unrelated reactions, and some proteins were involved in multiple protein complexes.  Another surprise: “What is remarkable is that the regulation of the transcriptome – the collection of RNA that deals with copying genetic information stored in the DNA – appeared to be far more similar to that of eukaryotes than had previously been thought.”  Additionally, “Another surprising result of the research is that, despite its very small genome, the bacterium is extremely flexible: it adapts its metabolism to major changes in its environment,” the article said.  “It can therefore rapidly adapt to the available food sources and stress factors, just like the more complex eukaryotes.”
    One of the papers in Science to which PhysOrg referred said that some 200 molecular machines are found in this little microbe.1  At least 90% of the proteins in the proteome are involved in at least one protein complex.  “The study allows estimation of unanticipated proteome complexity for an apparently minimal organism that could not be directly inferred from its genome composition and organization or from extensive transcriptional analysis,” the authors said.  The microbe has one of the smallest genomes for any free-living cell, “making it an ideal model organism for the investigation of absolute essentiality.”  How many genes is that?  Answer: 689.  But many of the protein products are multifunctional.  They act like modular players in larger hierarchical complexes.  “Our analysis captured distinct mechanisms for multifunctionality that imply the combinatorial use of gene products in different contexts, for different functions,” they said.
    The other two papers in the series echoed these responses.  One studying the impact on genome reduction said,2 “Despite its apparent simplicity, we have shown that M. pneumoniae shows metabolic responses and adaptation similar to more complex bacteria, providing hints that other, unknown regulatory mechanisms might exist.”  The third paper said,3 “The surprisingly frequent expression heterogeneity within operons, the change of operon structures leading to alternative transcripts in response to environmental perturbations, and the frequency of antisense RNA, which might explain some of these expression changes, suggest that transcriptional regulation in bacteria resemble that of eukaryotes more than previously thought.
    An article in Science Daily focused on one functional particular trick in a bacterium.  A molecular chaperone named HdeA, which helps protect E. coli from stomach acid, invokes a “unique timed-release mechanism” to keep its proteins from clumping together.  It works, furthermore, by extracting energy from its environment, like a windmill or waterwheel. 
1.  Kuhner, van Noort et al, “Proteome Organization in a Genome-Reduced Bacterium,” Science, 27 November 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5957, pp. 1235-1240, DOI: 10.1126/science.1176343.
2.  Yus, Maier et al, “Impact of Genome Reduction on Bacterial Metabolism and Its Regulation,” Science, 27 November 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5957, pp. 1263-1268, DOI: 10.1126/science.1177263.
3.  Guell, van Noort et al, “Transcriptome Complexity in a Genome-Reduced Bacterium,” Science, 27 November 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5957, pp. 1268-1271, DOI: 10.1126/science.1176951.
Remember – all this complexity exists in one of the simplest organisms known.  It retains only what is essential for life and yet has 200 molecular machines, 689 genes, and a number of strategies for combining its gene products into numerous protein complexes that have multiple functions and are able to operate in sequence.  Most likely this organism has a stripped-down proteome for its parasitic lifestyle.  It probably began, therefore, as an even more complex organism – it is not evolving upward from a simpler form of life.
    Notice how often the researchers were surprised.  They found more complexity “than previously thought.”  Why?  Because they were thinking like Darwin.  They expected primitive simplicity, but they found higher levels of order and regulation than they expected.  689 genes is a lot of genes – even if each one were to produce only one protein.  But now we see that many of these genes produce multiple alternate transcripts, some of the transcripts act as regulators, and the protein products carry on multiple functions – many of them associating in diverse ways with other proteins in multiple complexes.  The words multifunction and multifunctional appeared numerous times in the papers.
    Our online book shows that it is inconceivably improbable for even one functional protein to form by chance.  Getting a second one to match the first is even harder.  Imagine getting all 689 by chance!  It militates so hard against evolution, it makes the word overkill sound wimpy.  This improbability calculated in 1972 has been reinforced strongly in the more recent book by Stephen Meyer, Signature in the Cell (06/27/2009 Resource of the Week).  We have known this fact for a long time.  There were calculations like this in the 1960s.  We are now approaching the year 2010.  It’s high time we jettison the useless Darwinian baggage that assumes these things will emerge by unguided processes, and return to looking at life as designed.  That’s the only way the observed complexity makes sense.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsAmazing Facts
  Cellular wonders from December 2003: proton waterwheels (12/22/2003), quality control in the protein-folding center (12/20/2003), the intracellular railroad complete with park-and-ride system (12/04/2003).

Inadequacies of Darwin’s Theory Exposed   12/28/2009    
Dec 28, 2009 — For a scientist who has been celebrated all year by many as the greatest thinker in history, Darwin left behind a lot of gaps.  If his theory of common ancestry by descent with modification is so well substantiated, as the scientific community claims, why are there continual attempts to fill gaps with other notions?
    One such attempt was reported by Science Daily.  A team at Johns Hopkins University looked for other mechanisms to explain both variation of phenotypes in populations and the persistence of diseases.  Why?  They argued that Darwin’s theory does not explain them:

For more than 100 years, mainstream science has embraced the basic tenets of Darwin’s view that characteristics that increase an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce will be passed from generation to generation.  Scientists later demonstrated that stable, significant traits are indeed inherited in the DNA carried in parental genes on chromosomes and randomly distributed to offspring.
    Characteristics that affect an organism’s ability to adapt and survive in times of environmental change have been thought to arise by chance through random mutations in an organism’s DNA.  However, this view could not explain how such mutations, which arise only rarely, help organisms of every size and variety adapt quickly enough through time.  Nor could it explain how diseases that lead to a dramatic loss of survival – such as diabetes, heart disease, autism, and schizophrenia – persist in populations.  Indeed, genes that directly contribute to these conditions have been difficult to find.
Looking for mechanisms in epigenetics (the regulation of genes) has also proved inadequate, say Andrew Feinberg and Rafael Irizarry.  They are trying to see if there are genes that contribute to trait variability, which in turn are selected for by the environment.  Whether or not this notion improves evolutionary thinking, it is apparent that they believe Darwin’s theory, even as augmented and refined to the present day, does not explain the observations.
    Judith Monk opened an article in Science1 with a statement that deflates a year of celebrations about Darwin and his Origin of Species:
Darwin referred to the origin of species as “that mystery of mysteries”, and despite decades of study, evolutionary biologists still cannot agree on the underlying processes that have produced the great diversity of life around us.
Notice she said that it is evolutionary biologists – not creationists or intelligent design advocates – who cannot agree on how speciation occurs.  She was writing to add comments to another paper in the same issue of Science by van Doorn,2 Edelaar and Weissing on the possibility of sympatric speciation (that is, speciation within a population lacking genetic or geographical barriers).  Sympatric speciation was deemed heretical not long ago by most Darwinians (01/15/2003).  It was dismissed by leading evolutionists of the 20th century, like Ernst Mayr and Theodosius Dobzhansky.
    The paper by van Doorn et al has a title that seems to challenge or supplant Darwin: “On the Origin of Species by Natural and Sexual Selection.”  Aren’t those the very ideas Darwin championed?  Look how they began their paper:
Even as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, discussion continues on whether speciation is adaptive (that is, driven by selection) and to what extent it is inhibited by gene flow.  Ecological conditions can induce natural selection for local adaptation, but disruptive or diversifying selection is usually not sufficient for speciation if individuals can migrate between habitats.  In such cases, a mating structure has to emerge that strongly reduces hybridization between ecologically specialized populations
They came up with a model (not fieldwork) that shows how natural and sexual selection in concert might lead to sympatric speciation.  “Natural and sexual selection are often depicted as opposing forces, but they can work in concert, ”they claimed.  “Our model highlights how natural and sexual selection reinforce each other’s actions in the context of adaptive speciation.”
    Though this sounds supportive of Darwin’s theory, it is different enough that they themselves distinguished it.  Even so, it is not clear how valuable it is to invoke model forces that at times compete and at other times reinforce each other.  At best, it is a model whose plausibility is subjective: “Sexual selection acting on indicators of local adaptation could provide such a general explanation,” they said.
    Other evolutionary biologists, though, have discounted the role of sexual selection (02/28/2006, bullet 4, 02/26/2003).  PhysOrg, which published a brief description of the paper, noted that the model “may soon be tested in the field” – indicating it has not been tested at all.  Monk’s ending comment indicates the provisional nature of the model: “This model may be used to test the prevalence of local adaptation and condition-dependent sexual selection in generating diversity, and provides a means to bring sympatric speciation in from the cold.”
    Meanwhile, a vocal minority of evolutionary biologists are scuttling Darwin’s mechanism almost entirely (see “Can Evolution Survive Without Darwin?”, 08/29/2008).  They found a mouthpiece in reporter Susan Mazur 12/19/2008 bullet 4, 09/10/2008, 08/29/2008, 03/07/2008).  Her new book, The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry portrays the Darwin establishment as a closed community of pretentious bigots.  Mazur and the outsiders are definitely not supporters of intelligent design or creationism, but find Darwinian and neo-Darwinian mechanisms wholly inadequate to explain the diversity of life.  A taste of Mazur’s poison pen was shared by Jonathan Wells recently on Uncommon Descent:
Evolutionary science is as much about the posturing, salesmanship, stonewalling and bullying that goes on as it is about actual scientific theory.... Perhaps the most egregious display of commercial dishonesty is this year’s celebration of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species—the so-called theory of evolution by natural selection, i.e., survival of the fittest, a brand foisted on us 150 years ago.

1.  Judith Monk, “Evolution: Sexual Selection and Darwin’s ‘Mystery of Mysteries,’” Science, 18 December 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5960, pp. 1639-1640, DOI: 10.1126/science.1184680.
2.  van Doorn, Edelaar and Weissing, “On the Origin of Species by Natural and Sexual Selection,” Science, 18 December 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5960, pp. 1704-1707, DOI: 10.1126/science.1181661.
150 years of Darwin and they are still trying to figure out the mechanism he supposedly proved?  They are still coming up with new untested models and selling us promissory notes?  Look at their right hands shaking Darwin’s hand, while their left hands are picking his pockets.  If you are noticing the shady tactics and the voodoo accounting of Darwin supporters, and suspecting there is something else than science going on here, join the ranks of the ex-clueless.
Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolutionary Theory
Evidence for Evolution, or for Uncontroversial Variation?   12/24/2009    
Dec 24, 2009 — Science papers and articles often announce promising new evidence for evolution.  To distinguish Darwinian evolution from creation, though, requires evidence of a certain magnitude.  The staunchest Biblical creationist allows for a great deal of variation within kinds.  When evidences for evolution are announced, do they rise to the level of change Darwin theorized – like the change of one animal or plant into another, with new tissues, organs, and functions?  Do they support a grand story of the common ancestry of all living things from simple microbes?
  1. Mammals:  “Fossil shelved for a century reworks carnivore family tree,” announced PhysOrg.  A fossil from the American Museum of Natural History shelved since 1896 has been looked at anew.  The phrase family tree immediately connotes an image of Darwinian common ancestry.  One would expect the fossil would show progress in understanding evolutionary relationships.  The body of the article, however, shows problems instead of clarification:
    This analysis is the fifth time that early carnivore postcrania have been carefully described in detail.  Adding the information from this long-neglected fossil to the previously known data, though, does point researchers into new directions.  An analysis of 99 traits among 29 fossils and 15 living taxa resulted in a new evolutionary tree that shows that 'M.' uintensis is distantly related to the type specimens from the Miacis genus, suggesting that an extensive revision of the current understanding of the evolutionary relationships among early carnivore fossils may be needed.  But more significantly, the structure of the evolutionary tree suggests that adaptations to terrestrial or semi-terrestrial locomotion were more common than previously suspected in early fossil carnivores, preceding the split between the two major groups of living Carnivora, the Caniformia (a group that includes dogs, weasels, bears, seals and their relatives) and Feliformia (cats, hyenas, mongooses and civets).
    It appears that what was found was not the expected primitive carnivore, but a specimen that indicates just as much diversity of lifestyles as seen in modern carnivores.  The creature apparently was able to climb trees and walk on the ground.  But then again, so do raccoons today.  Curator John Flynn tried to explain: “It is typically thought that the miacoids of the Eocene—the basal fossil relatives of modern Carnivora that root the family tree—were arboreal.  But we now are beginning to see that there was a greater diversity of locomotor styles in early carnivores.”  The only thing that seems to have evolved here is the thinking of the evolutionists.
  2. Fish:  Over in Africa, evolutionists are still trying to figure out how the cichlid fish trapped in inland lakes evolved.  Cichlid fish have diversified in Lake Malawi and Lake Victoria in “a classic example of adaptive radiation and rapid speciation,” the authors of a paper in PLoS Biology said.1  (See also summary on Science Daily).  But the details of evolution they studied are mere shifts in the expression of existing genes and slight changes in existing proteins that affect sensitivity to wavelengths of light that differ, at most, by 100 nm, at the ends of the spectrum of sensitivity.  The words novel and innovation are missing from the paper.  There are no indications that something genetically new has arisen, even though the authors say, “Hundreds of new species have evolved in Lake Malawi within the past 1-2 million years and within a mere 15,000-120,000 years in Lake Victoria.  These two haplochromine radiations provide a large number of closely related, yet ecologically and morphologically divergent, species.”  The fish are still cichlids; they could be classified as variations rather than species.  Furthermore, the rates of variation differ widely between the two lakes.  It would seem that no natural law has been found that could illuminate Darwinian evolution in general: “The rapid changes in opsin gene expression that we observed among these closely related cichlid species are unprecedented in vertebrates.”
  3. Whales:  In five million years, just 2.5 times the interval in which the fish mentioned above changed little, whales are thought to have evolved from a cow- or dog-like land animal.  A pompous-sounding headline on PhysOrg would lead a casual reader to expect a breakthrough discovery: “Australian fossil unlocks secrets to the origin of whales.”  It touted “groundbreaking discoveries” to follow – but then disappointed with a mere re-interpretation of a fossil that had been sitting in a museum since 1939.  Dr Erich Fitzgerald decided to “hypothesize it was a bottom-feeding mud-sucker that may have used its tongue and short, blunt snout to suck small prey from sand and mud on the seafloor.”  According to Dr. Fitzgerald, “This indicates early and varied experimentation in the evolution of baleen whales.”  While the reader is left wondering who the experimenter is, the article was quick to announce that Darwin would be proud. “The research conducted by Dr Fitzgerald supports Charles Darwin’s speculation in The Origin of Species, that some of the earliest baleen whales may have been suction feeders, and that their mud grubbing served as a precursor to the filter feeding of today’s giants of the deep.”
        A little closer reading, though, shows that Mammalodon colliveri was already considered a “primitive toothed baleen whale, one of a group of whales that includes the largest animal ever to have lived, the blue whale.”  An artist reconstruction in the BBC News shows the creature to look whale-like in most respects: flippers, tail, sleek body and all.  (It should be kept in mind that soft part reconstruction is highly subjective.)   Moreover, “Mammalodon is a dwarf, having evolved into a relatively tiny form from larger ancestors.”  That would seem a regression, not an evolution, if the blue whales were on the same branch of the tree.  How did the advanced baleen whales evolve their baleen if a dwarf experimenter was off over in Australia grubbing in the mud, doomed to become a dead-end line?  Dr Fitzgerald was unable, nonetheless, to contain his excitement over his old bones.  Because another family member of Mammalodon was found nearby, “Clearly the seas off southern Australia were a cradle for the evolution of a variety of tiny, weird whales that seem to have lived nowhere else.” 
  4. Dinosaurs etc.National Geographic displayed the “Top Ten Dinosaur and Fossil Finds: Most Viewed of 2009.”  Most of the ten show extinction, not evolution.  The first eight show no progression from simple to advanced.  If anything, they show that the past had more diversity and larger sizes than today – giant snakes, giant crocodiles, giant arthropods, and, of course, giant dinosaurs.  Even so, NG acknowledged that “a third of dinosaurs” may never have existed due to human classification errors.  The last two entries are the controversial Ardi and Ida.  These alleged missing links arguably shed more controversy than light on the story of human evolution.  Regarding Ida, NG said, “The publicity frenzy made National Geographic News’s brief coverage our most viewed page of the year—and inspired a backlash as some experts, including one here at Nat Geo HQ, suggested Ida was more media event than milestone.”  Sure enough, the link to Brian Cooley’s blog on NGM Blog Central is quite critical of the media hype over Ida.
Interesting as the varieties of extinct fossils are, the perceptive reader may be left wondering what they have to do with evidence for the evolution of carnivores, fish and whales from non-carnivores, non-fish, and non-whales. 
1.  Hofmann et al, “The Eyes Have It: Regulatory and Structural Changes Both Underlie Cichlid Visual Pigment Diversity,” Public Library of Science: Biology, 7(12): e1000266. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000266, December 2009.
We really tried to have a good time at the Darwin Party, but the event didn’t live up to the hype.  The place was filled with boors overcome with their own perceived self-importance.  Everywhere we turned, people were trying to sell us a bill of goods.  So we left and went to the other celebration instead.  MC2U&HNY2!
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Looking for OOL in a Shallow Pool   12/23/2009    
Dec 23, 2009 — Origin-of-life (OOL) studies entertained a new hypothesis this week: life started in shallow waters near hydrothermal vents.  “Life’s Origin May Have Been a Shallow Affair,” claimed Anuradha K. Herath in Astrobiology Magazine, echoed by Live Science and PhysOrg.  Leslie Mullen’s report on Live Science employed the ubiquitous “shedding light” phrase again: “In finding answers to the mystery of the origin of life, scientists may not have to dig too deep,” she said.  “New research is shedding light on shallower waters as a possible location for where life on Earth began.”
    By this, Mullen certainly was not thinking of the Spirit of God hovering over the surface of the waters (Genesis 1:2).  Instead, the article promoted a metabolism-first scenario for the origin of life proposed by Marcello Guzman of Harvard.  He envisions life starting with a spontaneous chemical cycle, with heat provided by shallow hydrothermal vents.  He needs the water to be shallow to allow sunlight to reach the reactions, but needs the vents to raise the temperature.  In contrived conditions, with zinc sulfide as a catalyst, he reproduced about 70% of the Krebs cycle – an essential energy cycle in life – the article claims.  It said nothing about the remaining 30%, though – how difficult those steps would be to reproduce, or whether 70% of a chemical cycle deserves the term cycle at all.  It also failed to identify the plausibility of the ingredients being found together in sufficient concentrations, and how competing cross-reactions could be inhibited.
    George Cody (Carnegie Institute of Washington) called this “an interesting bit of chemistry” that “highlights how much work needs to be done.”  One thing that needs to be done: “One has to link reliable chemistry with geochemical reality.”
It’s not the origin of life that is a shallow affair.  It’s the thinking of these astrobiologists and reporters.  To understand why, read Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell (06/27/2009 Resource of the Week).  Check this out, too: a recent peer-reviewed paper described by Casey Luskin at Evolution News calls for scuttling worthless hypotheses – including ones like the above.  David L. Abel said, “Millions of dollars in astrobiology grant money have been wasted on scenarios that are possible, but plausibly bankrupt....science needs a foundational principle by which to falsify a myriad of theoretical possibilities that are not worthy of serious scientific consideration and modeling.”  For problems with the metabolism-first scenarios, see 06/12/2006, 02/15/2007, and 01/26/2008.
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Come Again?
Dec 23 – “Not all paleoanthropologists are convinced that Ar. ramidus was our ancestor or even a hominin.  But no one disputes the importance of the new evidence.”  This quizzical statement was made by Ann Gibbons, who was discussing why Science Magazine chose Ardipithecus as “Breakthrough of the Year.”  Later, she said, “As researchers ponder the definition of a hominin, they also wonder exactly where Ardi fits in our family tree.”  This, in Science, is known as a “breakthrough.”  Major discoveries in planetary science, astronomy, physics and biology were only “runners-up” in the voting.  Science, 18 December 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5960, pp. 1598-1599, DOI: 10.1126/science.326.5960.1598-a.

In Brains, Size Is Not All that Matters   12/22/2009    
Dec 22, 2009 — Two recent science articles indicate that scientists should be careful before inferring intelligence from brain size (picture).  PhysOrg reported on work to uncover the genetic basis of microcephaly – reduced brain size in humans.  “The cerebral cortex in particular has undergone a dramatic increase in surface area during the course of primate evolution,” the article claimed, yet acknowledged uncertainty about the causes and effects involved.  “One particularly interesting feature of this new discovery is that the strongest links with cortical area were found in regulatory regions, rather than coding regions of the genes,” one researcher said.  No causal links were drawn between more regulation and intelligence, nor brain size and intelligence.  If the presence of mutations produces the disability of microcephaly, it does not follow that the absence of mutations will produce higher intelligence.
    In the animal kingdom, consider the capabilities of a creature with one of the smallest brains on earth: the honeybee.  The “amazing bee brain” was discussed in another article on PhysOrg.  “Their brains are tiny – about the size of sesame seeds – and yet the behaviour of the humble honey bee is so advanced it has scientists scratching their heads in disbelief.”  Packed into that tiny space is the ability to calculate distance and foraging efficiency independently, and communicate that information accurately to other members of the hive through an elaborate dance.  This also presumes processing the input of visual, olfactory, auditory, taste and touch senses.  Another article the next day on Science Daily discussed the complex maneuvers they perform on landing.  A researcher is “optimistic that he will eventually be able to use his discoveries in the design of novel flight control systems.”
    The first honeybee article discussed the “complex processing” that occurs in the bee brain.  “Through their dance behaviour we get a window into bee psychology and perception,” said Dr Andrew Barron of Macquarie University.  “Bees are beautiful little animals with great personalities – and we’re only just getting a sense of how smart they really are.”
Update Dec 24: an article on PhysOrg announced, “Ladder-walking locusts show big brains aren’t always best.”  Here’s another insect with a tiny brain that can perform complex tasks, such as using visual cues for limb placement.  “The study sheds new light on insects’ ability to perform complex tasks, such as visually-guided limb control, usually associated with mammals.”  Dr. Jeremy Niven of Cambridge said, “This is another example of insects performing a behaviour we previously thought was restricted to relatively big-brained animals with sophisticated motor control such as humans, monkeys or octopuses.”  Later, he said, “Big-brained mammals have more neurons in their visual systems than a locust has in its entire nervous system, so our results show that small brains can perform complex tasks.  Insects show us how different animals have evolved totally different strategies for doing similar tasks.”  If controlling four legs in a mammal is complex, imagine coordinating six legs in an insect, eight in a spider, or dozens in a millipede.  The article ended by saying that “insects are often the inspiration for limb control in robotics.”

Human engineers pride themselves on packing more power into less space: music players, cell phones, computer chips and memory have shrunk dramatically in size since the 1960s.  Why should the size of the human brain figure so prominently in human evolution stories?  There has been a dark history of racist ranking by early Darwinists based on brain size.  Even though that is taboo today, there is a kind of prehistorical racism that persists: Lucy, Ardi, Homo erectus, Neanderthals and other alleged human ancestors are often ranked in intelligence by skull capacity.  How do they know that Homo erectus didn’t have a superior CPU packed into less space?  There have been cases of humans doing just fine with small brains.  Whales are not necessarily more intelligent for having brains much larger than ours.  It’s not the size, the container or the materials; it’s the programming.
Amazing factoid:  Packed into your cerebrum are more connections than all the electrical appliances on earth.
Stupid mythoid:  It all just happened by evolution.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyHuman Body
  How can scientists keep the public trust?  Be honest.  That was said in 12/18/2002.  Think of all the trust-busting shenanigans that have happened since then.  Do you trust scientists more than you did seven years ago?

When Is Design Just Natural?   12/22/2009    
Dec 22, 2009 — Some recent stories provide exercises in differentiating intelligently-caused designs from complex patterns that can arise from natural law.  Here are some examples of designs in science reports; the commentary will discuss criteria for deciding which arise spontaneously without purpose and intent.

  1. Saturn hexagon:  The north pole of Saturn shows an odd hexagon-shaped pattern in the clouds that has persisted since at least the Voyager flybys.  Jet Propulsion Lab issued a press release with a new picture of it emerging from the winter darkness.  It was posted as the Dec. 14 Astronomy Picture of the Day.  There’s no good explanation for it yet.  “Scientists are still trying to figure out what causes the hexagon, where it gets and expels its energy and how it has stayed so organized for so long.”
  2. Cell cyberneticsScience reported on Dec. 11 that “A Simple Cipher Governs DNA Recognition by TAL Effectors.”  We normally think of ciphers as a human-based technology.  Moscou and Bogdanove wrote, “Our finding represents a previously unknown mechanism for protein-DNA recognition that explains TAL effector specificity, enables target site prediction, and opens prospects for use of TAL effectors in research and biotechnology.”
  3. Genes in 3-DScience Daily reported that a “3-D View of Genes-at-Work Is Paradigm Shift in Genetics.”  Scientists from the Babraham Institute are getting glimpses of the 3-D organization of chromosomes in the nucleus.  It’s causing a “paradigm shift in our understanding of how the genome is spatially organised in relation to gene expression.”  There were 14 references to “transcription factories” in the short article.  For example:
    Highly coordinated chromosomal choreography leads genes and the sequences controlling them, which are often positioned huge distances apart on chromosomes, to these ‘hot spots’.  Once close together within the same transcription factory, genes get switched on (a process called transcription) at an appropriate level at the right time in a specific cell type.  This is the first demonstration that genes encoding proteins with related physiological role visit the same factory.
    In fact, the article continued, DNA itself is proving to be the most mobile thing in the nucleus, moving the genes to the hot spots where transcription occurs.  The genes almost seem to do a purpose-driven dance: “Having a common goal, such as producing all the components needed to make haemoglobin, could be a factor behind genes gravitating to a particular factory.”
  4. Golden Ratio:  The irrational number 1.61803... seems to pop up everywhere in nature: in animal proportions, the pyramids, artichoke heads, conch shells, spiral galaxies, the Mona Lisa and the Parthenon, to name a few.  Science Daily claimed that Adrian Bejan of Duke University knows why.  The ratio “describes a rectangle with a length roughly one and a half times its width.”  Bejan in his “constructal law” claims that “the eyes scan an image the fastest when it is shaped as a golden-ratio rectangle.”
        The article continued: “For Bejan, vision and cognition evolved together and are one and the same design as locomotion.  The increased efficiency of information flowing from the world through the eyes to the brain corresponds with the transmission of this information through the branching architecture of nerves and the brain.”  Bejan, who believes that “vision and cognition evolved together and are one and the same design as locomotion,” said something that almost sounds new-age:
    It is the oneness of vision, cognition and locomotion as the design of the movement of all animals on earth.... The phenomenon of the golden ratio contributes to this understanding the idea that pattern and diversity coexist as integral and necessary features of the evolutionary design of nature.
    This explanation seems to beg the question of why galaxies and conch shells, which lack vision and cognition, follow this ratio, or why cognitive beings would have converged on the Golden Ratio, and what makes it golden, or satisfying, to the human spirit.  It also fails to explain from a naturalistic or evolutionary perspective what initial conditions in a big-bang explosion would have led to the ubiquity of the Golden Ratio.
    Update 01/07/2010: Does the Golden Ratio extend to the quantum scale?  PhysOrg reported that resonant modes of scattering neutrons display the same Golden Ratio “famous from art and architecture.”  The article added, “Such discoveries are leading physicists to speculate that the quantum, atomic scale world may have its own underlying order.”
  5. Histone code:  “Scientists Take a Step Towards Uncovering the Histone Code,” reported Science Daily.  This refers to protein tags on DNA that affect transcription and are apparently heritable and provide instructions apart from genes.  “Many biologists believe the modifications on histones are a code, analogous to the genetic code,” the article said (see also 07/26/2006, 02/17/2004).
  6. Urchin crystal power:  Sea urchins have a remarkable ability to build crystal teeth with perfectly aligned crystals.  PhysOrg explored this tantalizing phenomenon, opening with the teaser, “It’s as if grains of salt were spilled on a rug, yet instead of landing randomly, all wound up with exactly the same angle and rotation.”  The sea urchin begins with an amorphous mass of calcium carbonate like a ball of mud, and ends up with a perfect structure that is the envy of nanotechnologists.  This is achieved through crosslinks that Pupa Gilbert (U of Wisconsin-Madison) said “look exactly like Roman bridges, with long decks, and arched piers.”
        What caused this remarkable order?  The article offered its explanation: “Evolution has crafted a clever means of forming hard, complicated crystals, yet the control mechanism remains to be explored.” Gilbert “still expresses wonderment at the biological solution she has observed,” the article noted.  She said, “Maybe one day we will have solar panels inspired by the lowly sea urchin.”

1.  Moscou and Bogdanove, “A Simple Cipher Governs DNA Recognition by TAL Effectors,” Science, 11 December 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5959, p. 1501, DOI: 10.1126/science.1178817.
How does one distinguish intentional design from accidental or natural design?  Your answer probably depends on your worldview.  The above examples find patterns in everything from molecules to galaxies.  An animist or ancient Roman might explain them with references to spirits or the gods.  A materialist will only find intentional design in the Parthenon, the Mona Lisa, and other artificial creations, and ascribe everything else to chance and natural law.  But we are often confronted with puzzles.  Is this rock an arrowhead or an accident of nature?  Is that odd-shaped cloud skywriting?  Non-atheists have additional questions about which phenomena involve God’s intervention.  The fever that afflicted Peter’s mother might have worn off over time; we would consider that a natural healing process.  But when Jesus healed her instantly, that’s a miracle.  Atheists, of course, have no patience with any of this.  Yet their explanations based on chance border on the miraculous sometimes (see article on ICR).  They can go so far as to give a rational person cause to accuse them of holding to their world view in spite of the evidence (12/13/2009).
    Intelligent design theory seeks to elucidate the scientific basis for inferring intelligent causes.  It recognizes that many complex patterns can arise in nature without intentionality.  Probably no one except devotees of late-night talk shows about alien conspiracies believes the Saturn hexagon was intelligently designed, even though scientists cannot explain it yet.  Most trust that science will explain it in due time.  But why do they trust science in that case, and not in the case of Parthenon?  Is it only a question of whether humans are involved?  And what is human design, anyway, if humans alone are capable of intelligent design, but arose from non-intelligent causes of chance and natural law?  What do we mean by “natural”?
    The core of the intelligent design approach is to look for complex specified information, using the explanatory filter described by Dembski in his books (for synopsis, see article at the IDEA Center).  Only when chance and natural law have been excluded via a rational criterion of plausibility is intelligent design considered.  This presumes, of course, that we can agree on the meanings of chance and natural law.  Sometimes a “natural law” is floated around too loosely.  Is it fair to apply a term like “constructal law” to the ubiquity of the Golden Ratio in nature, or is that a post-hoc fallacy?  That might be like watching a chess game and ascribing the movements of the chess pieces to a natural law we might arbitrarily name the “Checkmate Law” which states that chess pieces converge toward the elimination of the King from the board.  Inventing a law after the fact and calling it “natural” explains nothing.  It’s an anti-explanation.  In the case of the chess game, it ignores the primary cause of the phenomenon – intelligence.  Laws like “natural selection” can be similarly critiqued.  Subjective verbal phrases like “survival of the fittest” lack the mathematical precision of laws in physics.
    How, then, do we explain non-artificial patterns like the histone code, and perfectly-aligned crystals in an urchin tooth, and the Golden Ratio spiral in a conch shell?  Each of the words in the phrase complex specified information is significant.  It has to be complex enough to exceed the threshold of chance.  It has to be specified to match an independent pattern.  And it has to be information – perhaps the trickiest word.  Information in one context can be gibberish in another.  Even apparent randomness can be intentional – as in a white-noise generator or some abstract art.  Do we call the DNA code information in the same sense as text in a novel?  Do we call the choreography of the chromosomes information in the same sense as ballet?  Are these just figures of speech?  When are the differences more significant than the similarities?  What is being communicated – and to whom or what?  The Saturn hexagon has no semantics, for instance; it conveys no message, performs no function.  Forces in the atmosphere – perhaps resonances or standing waves – will undoubtedly be found sufficient to explain the pattern once all the factors are known.  The hexagons in a beehive, though, perform a function – they create breeding cells with the maximum volume per packing space, using minimum materials.  Thus we see that information can be semantic or functional.  In either case, it requires foresight and intent to bring component parts together.
    We know that intelligence acts with a goal in mind, and organizes parts to fit the goal.  Evolution and “blind nature” lack the ability to foresee ends, or to organize parts toward a goal.  Can we say this consistently?  Does gas and dust conspire to build a star?  Does water and rock and heat conspire to build Old Faithful geyser, in the same sense that calcium carbonate crystals and bridges conspire to build an urchin tooth?  Stars and geysers are improbable natural phenomena, too.  But in those cases, we see a clear continuum of simpler phenomena.  With stars, we see dust clouds of various levels of density, Herbig-Haro objects, and bodies of every size from brown dwarfs to supergiants.  With geysers, we find fumaroles, mudpots, and active hot springs of all sizes up to the great regular spouters.  Each of these falls within the range of chance and known physical laws of thermodynamics.  They also don’t “say” anything; there is no communication between parts, no information shared, no long-range goal that pulls together disparate parts to share a message.  They are like clouds, not skywriting; like ripples, not hieroglyphics.  Even the most elegant natural phenomena, like snowflakes, display the repetitive outcomes of natural laws applied to matter without conveying any meaning.  In a living cell, though, we find aperiodic coded information that is stored and retrieved, and then translated into a separate molecular coding convention (proteins), all with clear observable function as a result.  The coded information has no necessary connection to its medium.  The same information could conceivably be stored in other molecules – in the same sense that a human message could be sent via paper or email (computer geeks will appreciate George Gilder’s explanation of this point on ID the Future).  This means that information is not material.  It is independent from the medium that conveys it.  Moreover, the DNA translation system includes numerous component parts that must all work, or else function stops.  Even though the parts themselves are not intelligent, they show the hallmark of intelligent design – just like we might watch a robot made of metal and plastic using electricity on a factory assembly line and rightly infer it was intelligently designed for the purpose of assembling automobiles.
    In Signature in the Cell (06/27/2009 Resource of the Week), Stephen Meyer delved deeply into the problem of how complex specified information – functional information – could have arisen in the molecules of life.  Only after the most rigorous elimination of all possible non-intelligent causes did intelligent design emerge as the best explanation.  But once chance and natural law (or combinations of the two) have been eliminated, and intelligent design accepted as the best (or only) explanation, new questions emerge.  If the apparent intention, foresight and purpose in life points to intelligent design, should we not look at the rest of nature with new eyes?  Why is the Golden Ratio so ubiquitous in nature?  Why do the constants of physics conspire to work together, out of a seemingly infinite range of contingent possibilities, to allow stars, planets, and life to exist?  Why is the Earth so well suited for life?  The Creator that Darwin, Huxley, Tyndall, Haeckel and all the others sought to exclude from scientific explanation has been there all the time.  Secular scientists only chose to look the other way.
Exercise:  Look for complex specified information in the 6 examples above.  If intelligent design was involved, when and where was it involved?  Which of these operate robotically without God’s intervention?  Which emerged according to natural laws – and what are the laws?  Which might have started out by intelligent design but become modified naturally over time?  Which imply intelligently-designed initial conditions only?  Try your reasoning on these other patterns in nature: sand dunes, flying seeds (12/03/2009, 10/21/2009), iron filings on a paper over a magnet, a virus packing motor (10/18/2001), planetary rings, binary stars, toxins, river meanders, cilia in the windpipe, wind waves on a field of grass, honeycomb, parallel rock strata (are they fractal? 03/05/2004), meteor showers, the solar cycle, glaciers, volcanoes, dust devils on Mars, Cepheid variables, barred spiral galaxies, a perfect solar eclipse, stalactites, streaks in a cloud chamber, crater chains, ant mounds, woodpecker holes, a packrat midden, an Indian midden, a Venus flytrap, a beaver trap, the musical pattern in wind chimes, bird song, phyllotaxis.  Think of more on your own.
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Senator Rick Santorum compares Darwinism to Climategate in the PhiladelphiaInquirer opinion page.  In both cases, he shows, the scientific community’s policies are at polar odds with public opinion.  He reminds readers of the berserk reaction by the High Priests of Darwin to his 2001 proposal that students understand the controversy surrounding evolution.  (The berserk reaction in some of the comments to Santorum’s editorial illustrates his point; have your Baloney Detector handy for the fast-flying ridicule, bluffing, ad hominems, red herrings, associations and generalities.)

Hometown of Jesus Was Real   12/21/2009    
Dec 21, 2009 — A first-century house has been excavated in Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up.  The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced the discovery today; see also Associated Press for information and pictures.  This is the first dwelling established from the early Roman period that encompasses the life of Christ.
    Professor Todd Bolen at Bible Places says this discovery “should put to rest the theory of at least [one] person who has claimed that since Nazareth is mentioned in the first century only in the New Testament, the city did not exist at that time.  It is true that Nazareth is not mentioned in Josephus and other contemporary sources, but that is only an indication of how insignificant the town was.”

Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46)  Come and see (Galatians 3-4).
    In the debate with Christopher Hitchens (see Resource of the Week for 12/12/2009), William Lane Craig noted that Jesus came at a point on the timeline of human history when only 2% of all human beings had lived.  This helps explain Paul’s statement in Galatians 4:4 that “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” – it was not late in history for all the people who lived before the good news, as Hitchens implied.  It was also a time when the Pax Romana with its network of roads made possible the rapid dissemination of the gospel through an empire that encompassed most of civilization at that time.
    People living before Christ (BC, not BCE) had the promises of God of a coming Redeemer as far back as the time of Adam (see Genesis 3:15 and commentary on Grace to You).  As Paul explained, Abraham believed God’s promise and was justified by faith.  He was the father of all people who trust God, whether looking forward or back to his promised Messiah.  Evolutionists, by contrast, populate the world with millions of years of pre-humans (see next entry).  You can believe that if you want to, provided you recognize it to be an unscientific, self-contradicting, evidence-contradicting, foolish myth.  Either way, you are going to put your faith in something.  Make it something worth your trust.
Next headline on:  Bible, Theology, History
Notable Notes and Quotable Quotes
“The general theory of evolution purports to explain the causal origin of life.  But it does so ironically, as it denies both the external ordering essential to the concept of causality and the inward causality essential to the concept of life.  The very idea of evolution implies arrangement toward a goal.  Why, then, do evolutionists insist that in order to be scientific, one must deny that, as such, the goal exists?  It exists, they might respond, but only as a convenient matter of perception.  But if this convenient perception is the essential feature of scientific knowing, what is science but a convenient delusion, distinguished from other useful delusions mainly by the warrant it denies to Divine power?” – Alan Keyes, commenting on Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell.  Read the whole op-ed piece “Evolution’s Comical Dogma” at World Net Daily.

Cooking Up Human Evolution, Or a Crock?   12/20/2009    
Dec 20, 2009 — What’s cooking in human evolution stories?  “Cooking is what made us human,” announced zoologist Richard Wrangham on New Scientist.  “Cooking food allowed our ancestors to evolve our big brains, the zoologist argues, and created the gender roles still observed by most people.”  The reporter apparently did not catch the embedded Lamarckism in that sentence.  Clara Moskowitz on Live Science echoed the new story line with “Human Ancestors Were Homemakers.
    The discovery behind the headlines is shocking: an alleged Homo erectus dwelling site in Israel said to be 800,000 years old that shows evidence of subdivided areas for cooking and sleeping.  “Yet this advanced organizational skill was thought to be a marker of modern human intelligence,” Moskowitz remarked.  “Before now, the only concrete proof for divided living spaces dated back to only 100,000 years ago.”  The site is in the Jordan valley north of the Sea of Galilee, near Lake Huleh, where waterlogged remains with excellent preservation have been known.
    Incidentally, another study reported by PhysOrg claimed that our ancestors were eating cereal 100,000 years ago.  A researcher from University of Calgary said, “The inclusion of cereals in our diet is considered an important step in human evolution because of the technical complexity and the culinary manipulation that are required to turn grains into staples.”  And Ann Gibbons in Science, writing about hominid diet,2 placed the “origin of our genus Homo about 2 million years ago” – over two thousand times the length of all written human history.  The reported Homo erectus find in Israel shows complex social organization at nearly 800,000 years – about eight times as far back as previously assumed.  And where will they put the report on PhysOrg that says, “French find puts humans in Europe 200,000 years earlier” at a claimed date of 1.57 million years ago?  Did the tool-making residents of Europe, who had been smart enough to migrate out of Africa, never figure out where the kitchen was for 730,000 years?
    The researchers who reported the Israel site in Science said,1 “The designation of different areas for different activities indicates a formalized conceptualization of living space, often considered to reflect sophisticated cognition and thought to be unique to Homo sapiens.”  The paper said this “implies advanced organizational skills” of the beings that lived there.
    Rather than dwell on the problems this discovery causes for the human-evolution saga, reporters chose instead to dream up clever headlines.  And the announcement was swamped by the cover story of Science that announced Ardipithecus as “Breakthrough of the Year” for 2009,3 complete with new artist rendition of a furry upright walking creature.  (See 11/25/2009 and 10/02/2009 for earlier reports on Ardi).  PhysOrg celebrated this “breakthrough” without question.  It won out over nine other contenders dealing with physics, astronomy, genetics, cell biology and medicine.


1.  Alperson-Afil, Sharon et al, “Spatial Organization of Hominin Activities at Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, Israel,” Science, 18 December 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5960, pp. 1677-1680, DOI: 10.1126/science.1180695.
2.  Ann Gibbons, “What’s for Dinner? Researchers Seek Our Ancestors’ Answers,” Science, 11 December 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5959, pp. 1478-1479, DOI: 10.1126/science.326.5959.1478.
3.  Editors, “Breakthrough of the Year: Ardipithecus ramidus,” Science, 18 December 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5960, pp. 1598-1599, DOI: 10.1126/science.326.5960.1598-a.
We’re going to keep pounding this drum till the rhythm sinks in: human evolution tales are dumb, dumb, dumb.  Look at the brain sacrifice you have to offer to accept this tale: our ancestors were smart enough to organize their homes 800,000 years ago, but didn’t learn to ride a horse, invent a wheel, or build a town till a few thousand years ago.  Actually, the Science paper claimed 790,000 years, but what’s a measly 10,000 years among storytellers?  Of course, you can fit all of recorded history into that little rounding error.  The evolutionists spend millennia like a thief spends dollars on a stolen credit card, or a Congressman buys pork without regard to the national debt.
    Instead of feeling shock and remorse for the problems this claim makes within their own set of lies, the scientists are out parading Ardi (that 15-year-old news) as 2009 Breakthrough of the Year!  Unbelievable.  This mirrors the trumpeting of Copenhagen in the news at the same time the Climategate scandal has damaged the credibility of its whole reason for being (see Science Daily).  Instead of laughing out loud (LOL), not one of the reporters of these human-evolution tales had the guts to ask hard questions or the presence of an independent-reasoning mind to doubt what the researchers were claiming.  What has happened to science?
    Just when you thought you heard it all, Live Science says “Chimps Master First Step in Controlling Fire.”  What?  Charles Q. Choi claims that because they don’t run away from it screeching, they must have lost their fear of it.  It follows that the next step is learning to control it or extinguish it, and then the final step is learning how to start a campfire.  Well, they’ve had six million years to work on this skill without much to show for it.  Lots of luck (LOL).  “These findings provide insight into how the earliest human ancestors first developed the ability to control fire, the thinking goes....”  If this is called thinking, don’t ask what constitutes nonsense; LOL, LOL.
Next headline on:  Early ManDumb Ideas
  Your cells have built-in GPS systems made of junk – at least, that’s what evolutionary biologists called these cellular antennas before their function was understood.  See last year’s 12/27/2008 entry for the scoop.

Cave Dates and Climate Estimates May Be Off   12/19/2009    
Dec 19, 2009 — The steady drip, drip, drip of water from stalactites should provide a way to calculate the age of cave formations, right?  Don’t be too sure.  A scientist at Florida State found that calcite deposition is a function of how the cave “breathes,” reported New Scientist.  This finding “pours doubt on ancient climate records derived from these structures.”
    Climate researchers have no way of directly recording temperature for dates before about 1850.  They use “proxy measurements” from tree rings, ice cores, cave formations and written descriptions.  Tree ring measurements have come under fire lately with the Climategate scandal.  It appears the use of cave formations for estimating prehistoric climate records is now subject to question.  “Some records of ancient rainfall may be skewed, as estimates based on stalactite formation assume year-round mineral deposition,” the article said.

The point to remember here, without getting into details about the extent of possible misinterpretation, is that all dating methods make assumptions.  A geologist sees the steady dripping from a stalactite, measures the calcite deposition on the stalagmite below, calculates the deposition as a function of drip rate, and then extrapolates the measurements hundreds of thousands of years back in time.  Can any geologist possibly know all the factors that could affect the deposition rate?  This article pointed out one, but there could be many others.
    The estimation of ancient climate is just as fraught with assumptions.  If the geologist establishes a plausibly reliable deposition rate under current conditions, he or she might infer from slight differences in composition in a cross-section of a stalactite how the climate cooled or warmed over time.  But some factors might not correlate together.  They could counteract one another in all kinds of ways.  To show this story is not an isolated case in Florida, recall the 01/19/2006 finding in Texas about kinetic factors including the angle of the glass plate a scientist might use to collect data, or the presence of a warm human body in the cave.  South African scientists, frustrated with anomalous measurements, concluded that “the constant speleothem growth rate we assume is simplistic” (10/12/2004, bullet 4).
    The unknown factors are the most worrisome.  This story points out that theory-destroying factors no one ever thought about, like cave bears, could be lurking in dark passages.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating Methods
Dec 19, 2009 – What is the object of science – to explain reality, or to make practical sense of our experience?  That question is more profound than you may think.  It has occupied philosophers and scientists since the Greeks.  A course offered by The Teaching Company, Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It provides an in-depth analysis of this fundamental, unresolved issue.  Professor Steven L. Goldman (Lehigh University) spends 24 half-hour lectures demonstrating the tension between those who strongly wish to defend scientific realism against the anti-realists who deny that science is able to “lift the veil” and discover parts of “reality” – the Truth of Nature behind our experience of it.  Along the way, you’ll meet a large number of famous scientists and philosophers.  You’ll also gain fascinating insights into the big scientific discoveries of the 20th century and explore many mind-expanding philosophical questions.  Despite the triumphalist bravado of today’s establishment scientists who assume scientific realism, Goldman shows, the old logical positivism is in shambles.  The challenges of the anti-realist empiricists against the rationalists have never been refuted.
    Dr. Steven L. Goldman is a scholar in the recently-overhauled field called “history of science.”  Historians of science are no longer out to report science as a progressive knowledge-generation project, but to explicate and understand the historical nature of scientific claims.  The importance of this distinction is well illustrated throughout the lectures.  Goldman is an entertaining and enthusiastic communicator with an impressive grasp of history and scientific concepts.  The first lecture will make you hungry for more.
    We recommend this series with two reservations.  First, Goldman (a colleague of Michael Behe at Lehigh, but opponent of intelligent design) attempts a valiant but flawed refutation of intelligent design in lecture 23.  Actually, hearing it and learning how to answer it makes for a stimulating intellectual exercise.  You can even draw from Goldman’s own lectures for ammunition (or, if you need help, consult our review from 08/21/2006).  Second, his ending resolution of the realist-antirealist conflict in lecture 24 seems little more than a play on terms.  Nevertheless, if you like science, you will enjoy this series and learn a lot.  Grasping the issues in Science Wars is deeply pertinent to understanding the debate between creation and evolution; Goldman makes the underlying questions engaging and illuminating.
    Buyer’s tip: the series goes on sale regularly and is available in DVD or audio format.  The downloadable MP3 files are the least expensive and allow for flexible listening on an iPod or car CD player if you know how to rip them to CD.
Next resource of the week:  12/12/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

Evolution News From Down Unda   12/18/2009    
Dec 18, 2009 — Australia and New Zealand contain some of the most unique and distinctive flora and fauna in the world.  Evolutionary explanations for some of these animals and plants have come to light in the press recently.

  1. Koala:  Did you know there are extinct koalas?  Science Daily reported about work by Aussie biologists to understand the evolution of the koala, based on recently discovered skulls of extinct varieties.  They infer that the continent was wetter when those species lived.  “The team led by Dr. Louys found that the chewing apparatus of the living koala is much more specialized than its fossil forebears, including adaptations for more powerful bite forces and the ability to shred the tough leaves of the eucalypts [sic] that are the mainstay of its diet.”  The middle ear bones, though, have changed very little.  The scientists interpreted this, “This indicates that the specialized loud and complex vocalizations of living koalas – a trait unusual among marsupials – likely have an ancient origin.
        The article ended with a description of how evolution works: “The study therefore shows that the chewing apparatus and hearing adaptations in living koalas evolved at different times and under different environmental circumstances, an indication that adaptations, even in the most specialized animals, may have disparate origins and evolve in mosaic fashion.”  Another article on Science Daily inferred from the fossil teeth that “ancient koalas may have been loud and lazy, but they didn’t chew gum.”
  2. Platypus:  Talk about a mosaic animal: as mentioned briefly last month (11/16/2009, bullet 10), researchers at the University of Adelaide have been studying the genes of the duck-billed platypus.  28 papers on monotremes (platypus and echidna) were published recently in the Australian Journal of Zoology and Reproduction Fertility and Development, five of which promised to “shed new light on the extraordinary complex platypus sex chromosome system.”  This was not a case of shedding light on evolution itself, though: “We discovered that a remarkably organised mechanism must exist in platypus, where sex chromosomes from one end pair first and then they go down the sex chromosome chain, just like a zipper,” said the lead author.  “There is nothing random about it.
        As for platypus evolution, he said that their findings “have given us valuable clues about the evolution of Y chromosomes in all mammals, including humans,” but the article failed to mention what those clues were, or if they suggested an increase in genetic information.  He also said he expected “these results to make a major impact in the field of monotreme research and mammal evolution.”
  3. Wollemi Pine:  The discovery of Wollemi pines alive in a remote canyon of Australia 150 km northwest of Sydney was one of the big stories of 1994, because they represent a “living fossil” species from the age of dinosaurs, thought to have been extinct for millions of years.  PhysOrg reported that the genome of the Wollemi pine has been sequenced by students at the University of New South Wales.  Not much was revealed about what the genome shows yet.  “The students’ preliminary findings show that the Wollemi chloroplast DNA is unique but shares some features with other pines such as the Kauri and Norfolk Island Pine,” throwing doubt on the meaning of unique.  “Further analysis of the data,” the article promised, “will provide clues to the evolution of the Wollemi and other pines.”  Nothing was said about how these living trees, possessing low genetic diversity, “survived 200 million years of shifting continents and changing climates.”  If they were so hardy for so long, why are humans fighting to protect them from extinction now?  “The Wollemi is being protected from extinction by secrecy surrounding the locations of the wild populations, and by widespread cultivation of the pine in Australia and around the world,” the article said.
  4. Marsupial evolution:  An article on Science Daily said that researchers from the University of Florida traced marsupials back to the death of the dinosaurs and found “evidence to support North America as the center of origin for all living marsupials.”  So did kangaroos hop over the sea?  Their answer would be that they weren’t kangaroos then, but primitive opossum-like creatures that were the ancestors of all marsupials.  South America and Australia were connected at the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, they would also point out.
        Their evolution story, however, rests on very fragmentary evidence.  The researchers examined one opossum skull from Wyoming, claimed to be 55 million years old, and “two 30-million-year-old skeletons of Herpetotheriidae, the sister group of all living marsupials.”  Those data points apparently were deemed sufficient for the team to draw evolutionary conclusions: “Based on fossil evidence from the skull and two skeletons, the study’s authors concluded the evolutionary split between the ancestor of opossums and the ancestor of all other living marsupials occurred at least 65 million years ago,” they said.  Somehow, all the North American marsupials went extinct, but when a land bridge opened back up at Panama, opossums came back to the north and became one of the most commonly observed mammals in North America.
If the above story is to be believed, North American marsupials never got much past the look of the 55 million year ancestor of the opossums: “You would probably recognize it as an opossum, but it wouldn’t look quite right,” the lead author said.  In that same time, however, the marsupials that made it to Australia evolved into kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, wombats, koalas, marsupial lions, marsupial moles, marsupial squirrels, and (of course) opossums – some 200 species of the world’s 334 marsupials.  Put beside one another, they would look like a fair representation of many animals in the zoo – except the females would have pouches instead of a placenta.
It is clear that evolution as an explanatory device serves only as a storytelling framework.  Toss in millions of years here, tens of millions of years there, hundreds of millions over yonder.  Evolution can produce rapid change (from opossum to kangaroo) or incredible stasis (12/26/2006).  Opossums will wander into one continent and evolve into kangaroos and marsupial lions, but on another continent, in the same amount of time, will stay looking pretty much like opossums (read The Convergence Concoction to see how incredible this evolutionary explanation is).  Conifers will give rise to the vast array of flowering plants in 200 million years, but some of them will stay completely unchanged, leaving no trace in the fossil record for millions of years, till they are discovered alive and well today.
    The framework is only limited by the imagination and faith of the evolutionary biologists.  They are convinced they are doing science when weaving these fantastic, incredible tales based on a fragments of bone and teeth.  The framework is reinforced by the sheer number on the Darwin Party roster.  All the Know-Nothings (02/22/2008 commentary) who have bought into the framework provide one another with comaradarie, fellowship and emotional support.  Their millions of years are like Monopoly money that can be traded and exchanged according to the internal rules of the game they have set up for themselves.  That description is apt; the quote after this entry described today’s science as the perpetuation of knowledge monopolies.  These factors permit self-fulfilling prophecies and self-reinforcing commitments that allow evolutionary biologists to feel comfortable with Groupthink, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and recognize their folly, and repent of following the imagination of their own hearts (01/17/2007 commentary), while pretending to “shed light” on reality.
    G'day anyway, and Merry Christmas to all our loyal readers down unda (picture).  Try not to overdo the suntan while the New Yorkers freeze up yonda.
Next headline on:  FossilsMammalsEvolutionary Theory
Notable Notes and Quotable Quotes
Dec 17, 2009 – “For several centuries, modern science was pretty much a free intellectual market populated by independent entrepreneurs who shared the goal of understanding how the world works.  Nowadays it’s a corporate enterprise where patents, pay-offs, prestige, and power take priority over getting at the scientific truth, and the powers-that-be have established knowledge monopolies.” —Henry Bauer, Dean Emeritus of Arts & Sciences and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry & Science Studies at Virginia Tech, at LewRockwell.com, 12/17/2009.  (Note: CEH does not necessarily endorse the views of the host site that posted this essay.)

Debunker Busters   12/17/2009    
Dec 17, 2009 — Often in science reports, new findings debunk previously held beliefs.  But then, a thoughtful reader might ask, didn’t the previously held belief debunk a belief prior to that?  Sometimes it gets difficult to believe the current belief has any credibility, when the debunkers turn on each other.

  1. A dilemma about dilemmas:  Psychologists and philosophers have used moral dilemmas to probe the principles of individuals and groups.  Now, however, Science Daily says that the results may be biased by the way the questions are posed.  A new study indicated, “Small changes in wording can affect judgments in ways that have nothing to do with differences in moral principles.  Psychologists that analyze judgment and decision making in consumer behavior are aware of this fact.  We applied these same methods to this scenario to illustrate that subjects’ responses could not possibly be attributed to any known moral principles.”
  2. Educational folly:  Are you a visual learner or a verbal learner?  For some three decades, it has been popular among educators to believe that students vary in their learning styles.  The idea is appealing: teachers need to tailor their pedagogy to the student.  “The long-standing popularity of the learning styles movement has in turn created a thriving commercial market amongst researchers, educators, and the general public,” reported Science Daily.  “But does scientific research really support the existence of different learning styles, or the hypothesis that people learn better when taught in a way that matches their own unique style?” the article asked.  “Unfortunately, the answer is no, according to a major new report published this month in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.”
        The team investigating the movement found “those studies have not used the type of randomized research designs that would make their findings credible.”  There are certain criteria in research design to guard against erroneous correlations and conclusions.  “The authors found that of the very large number of studies claiming to support the learning-styles hypothesis, very few used this type of research design.”  There was also little support to show that students did better with learning-style-based education.
        Undoubtedly many of the “71 different models of learning styles that have been proposed over the years” were developed with good intentions, but is it possible that “the currently widespread use of learning-style tests and teaching tools is a wasteful use of limited educational resources”?
  3. What are you seeing?  In the retina, rods are rods and cones are cones, and never the twain shall meet.  Not so, reported a new study reported in PNAS.1  “Direct rod input to cone BCs [bipolar cells] and direct cone input to rod BCs challenge the traditional view of mammalian BC circuitry,” the title reads.  “This is grounds for revising the mammalian rod/cone bipolar cell dogma.”  Earlier eye researchers must have been dogmatic without scientific grounds for it.  The team’s findings open up the possibility that the retina performs complex crosstalk analysis between rod neurons and cone neurons to enhance vision.  “They provide clear physiological evidence for functional tertiary rod/cone pathways as well as grounds for revising the rod/cone bipolar-cell dogma in the mammalian retina.”
  4. Mammoth discovery:  Woolly mammoths were alive not that long ago, reported Live Science.  Based on ancient DNA in Alaskan permafrost soil samples, a team estimates that they survived till 7,600 years ago – nearly half the old 12,000-year figure for the date of their extinction. 
  5. Oil without dinosaursScience Daily wrote last month, “Scientists in Washington, D.C. are reporting laboratory evidence supporting the possibility that some of Earth’s oil and natural gas may have formed in a way much different than the traditional process described in science textbooks” – that is, the familiar tale that “Prehistoric plants died and changed into oil and gas while sandwiched between layers of rock in the hot, high-pressure environment deep below Earth’s surface.”  The debunking in this Nov. 6 article actually “un-debunks” an old idea from the 19th century that methane and other hydrocarbons might be produced abiotically, without fossil fuels.
If long-held beliefs such as these are being overturned, after being held as “scientific truth” for decades or centuries, how do we know that today’s current dogmas are invulnerable to turnarounds?  A future discovery might even debunk the debunkers in these stories – some of whom debunked earlier debunkers.  To paraphrase an old hamburger commercial, where’s the bunk?
1.  Pang, Gao et al, “Direct rod input to cone BCs [bipolar cells] and direct cone input to rod BCs challenge the traditional view of mammalian BC circuitry,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, December 14, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0907178107.
OK, these are interesting anomalies, but we know that science produces truth, that man is causing the earth to heat up, and that evolution is a fact.  Got it?  A FACT.  Facts do not change.  Facts are real.  Faith is not.  Science generates knowledge by a scientific method that filters out bias.  Peer review ensures that bad science is weeded out.  Science has no room for dogma!  If a strongly-held belief is challenged by science, then out it must go!  (Like evolution?)  Don’t try to get logical with me!  Evolution is a fact!  Got it?  A FACT.
Time to revisit the 10/28/2009 entry.
Next headline on:  EducationMammalsHuman BodyGeology
  Two years ago, a paradigm was overturned.  The 12/14/2007 reported on flume experiments that showed how mudstones – the most prevalent sedimentary strata – do not require placid seas, but can form in currents.  A subsequent experiment reported last June (06/08/2009) elaborated on the first paper and called for an overhaul: “published interpretations of ancient mudstone successions and derived paleoceanographic conditions are in need of reevaluation.

Clever Animals Inspire Lookers – And Engineers   12/16/2009    
Dec 16, 2009 — Incredible animals provide endless delights with their antics.  Even microorganisms are capable of amazing feats.  Sometimes these living things inspire inventors, too.

  1. Coconut octopus:  Tool use was supposed to be a late marker of primate intelligence as chimpanzees were evolving upward to manhood.  That’s so 1890.  Now that we know crows can use tools (05/26/2009), why not octopi?  Sure enough, PhysOrg, Science Daily and Live Science all reported on a “lucky accident” of finding “tool use in an invertebrate.”  Based on the paper in Current Biology,1 Live Science explained, “The veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) apparently can stack discarded coconut shell halves just as one might pile bowls, sits atop them, makes its eight arms rigid like stilts, and then moves the entire heap across the seafloor.  These soft-bodied creatures perform this ungainly ‘stilt walking’ to use the hard shells for shelter later when needed.”
        Marine biologist Julian Finn “never laughed so hard underwater” upon observing the trick.  New Scientist included a video; so did National Geographic, which said the discoverers were “blown away” when they saw it.  “Tool use, once thought to be a uniquely human behavior, is seen as a sign of considerable mental sophistication among nonhuman animals, ”NG said.  The article quoted a chimpanzee expert commenting, “Even chimps do not use natural materials to create shelters over their heads.”  This octopus is making good use of its sophisticated robotic arms (02/09/2005, brain (10/25/2009) and complex eyes (10/16/2006, bullet 2).  Live Science followed up with a list of 10 animals that use tools.  Only half of them are primates; two are non-mammals.
  2. Hummingbird robots:  Who isn’t fascinated with hummingbirds hovering around the backyard feeder?  Scientists at University of Buffalo are studying “hummingbirds flight to develop self-propelled surveillance devices,” reported PhysOrg.  Hummingbird wings develop 3-D vortices that provide optimal lift.  Scientists interested in designing small robotic flyers that can negotiate caves, tunnels and tight places are taking their cues from the world’s smallest birds.  “One solution being explored is the design of tiny, flying surveillance devices called micro-air vehicles that are bio-inspired, based on lessons drawn from the behavior of insects and birds.
  3. Batty feet:  Scientists thought some bats used suction to cling to wet leaves.  Nope; Science Daily reported that the sucker-footed bats don’t use suction.  “Instead, they use wet adhesion, secreting a fluid, possibly sweat, that enables the pads on the bats’ wrists and ankles to attach to surfaces.”  The report on PhysOrg includes a video of the bat clinging to glass.
  4. Microfuel and micro-art:  Even single-celled organisms have their own tricks of technology.  Energy is, of course, a matter of great concern these days.  Space.com reported on the latest attempts to use algae for biofuel.  And New Scientist posted a gallery of artistic patterns produced by microbes (some with human help).  Image No. 7 is sure to give you a double-take.  And say: if bacteria are so clever, why not just use them instead of imitating them?  PhysOrg reported about scientists at Argonne National Laboratory who are harnessing microbes to turn nanoscopic gears.  This is easier than building nanomachines from scratch:
    There exists a wide gap between man-made hard materials and living tissues; biological materials, unlike steel or plastics, are “alive.”  Biomaterials, such as live skin or tissue, consume energy of the nutrients to self-repair and adapt to their environment,” [Igor] Aronson said.  “Our discovery demonstrates how microscopic swimming agents, such as bacteria or man-made nanorobots, in combination with hard materials can constitute a ‘smart material’ which can dynamically alter its microstructures, repair damage, or power microdevices.”
    Hopefully PETA will not complain about making them into galley slaves.  See also Live Science.
  5. All that glitters:  Photonic crystals, the geometric arrangements of nanoscopic surfaces that play tricks with light, are still a hot topic in physics and biomimetics.  PhysOrg reported about work at the Weizmann Institute of Science who are studying “Sparkly Spiders and Photonic Fish.”  A variety of unrelated creatures use guanine molecules to create the tiny patterns that amplify some wavelengths and cancel out others.  The result is a reflective surface brighter than what pigments could produce: “These fish and spiders are able to make guanine crystals of very specific size and orientation to achieve the reflectivity they require.”

        How did these optical secrets emerge in such different species as arthropods, fish and birds?  The leader of the Israeli group remarked, “It is astonishing how through evolution, fish and silver-colored spiders have independently succeeded in achieving light-reflecting structures with similar efficiencies, although differences in mechanism is apparent.”  Another team member who spoke of the “clever solutions that emerged in the course of evolution” said, “It is very surprising that fish and spiders, pertaining to completely different taxonomic groups, independently acquired through evolution the ability to generate mirror-like reflections on their skin by depositing guanine crystals.  This suggests that the solution must be quite efficient and it is, therefore, extremely promising for the materials scientists to try and understand the structural principles of these photonic crystals working as (colored) mirrors.”

1.  Finn, Tregenza and Norman, “Defensive tool use in a coconut-carrying octopus,” Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 23, R1069-R1070, 15 December 2009, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.10.052.
Ahem, you Israeli idolaters: Darwinism has just been falsified, not confirmed.  What’s astonishing is that you would trade in a solid foundation for an idol with feet of clay.  Look to the Rock from which you were hewn.
    How often do the evolutionists start chanting their worship rituals into otherwise stimulating discussions about biological wonders?  It will be so good when we can get science back to observation.  Meanwhile, all of us can look forward to cool gadgets and inventions coming from the intelligent-design science of biomimetics.

In the tank, fish are glistenin’
In the lab, folks are whistlin’;
A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight,
Copyin’ a living wonderland.

Gone away’s Mr. Charlie,
Here to stay – not so gnarly –
Intelli-design, the trend of '09,
Copyin’ a living wonderland.

In the hangar we can build a robot,
And pretend that it’s a hummingbird;
They’ll say “Follow Darwin!” we’ll say “No, not!
Design by evolution is absurd.”

Later on, we’ll conspire
As we dream, zoo-inspired,
To build unafraid, with plans that God made,
Copyin’ a living wonderland.

Next headline on:  BiomimeticsPhysicsMarine BiologyTerrestrial ZoologyBirdsAmazing Facts

“Messy” Genomes: Did They Evolve?    12/14/2009    
Dec 14, 2009 — The genomes of most eukaryotes are riddled with introns – intragenic regions – that have to be cut out by sophisticated DNA-transcribing machinery so that the true gene sections (called exons) can be spliced together.  Introns can vary from 20 base pairs to over 500,000 – significantly impacting the energy required to duplicate the genome.  This mysterious phenomenon provides a test case for the explanatory power of design vs evolution.
    Two recent articles can inform the discussion of this mystery.  The first from Science Daily called introns “meaningless junk.”  Titled “DNA Needs a Good Editor: Researchers Unravel the Mysteries of DNA Packaging,” the article mentioned work going on at Tel Aviv University.  “How cells differentiate between what’s useful and what’s garbage in our complicated and messy genetic code is a fundamental biology question – one with extremely important implications,” the article stated.  One finding is that exons (the gene sequences) are packaged differently than introns.  Understanding this may help to target improperly spliced transcripts that cause cancer and genetic disease.  The article did not delve into the question of how introns evolved, but assumed they are meaningless, functionless pieces of genetic garbage.
    Another article in Science Daily (see also PhysOrg) reported that “Introns Nonsense DNA May Be More Important to Evolution of Genomes Than Thought.”  Is there any sense in the apparent nonsense of introns?  A team of scientists from University of New Hampshire and Indiana University Bloomington are not sure, but they did find something surprising.  There seem to be hot spots for intron insertion.  Different organisms with different genotypes can end up with the same introns at the same places.  They call this “parallel intron gain”.  Michael Lynch at Indiana U said, “This strongly argues against the common assumption that when two species share introns at the same site, it is always due to inheritance from a common ancestor.”  If they did not evolve from common ancestry, how did they come about?  The team is testing a hypothesis: “Our molecular analyses have enabled us to reject a number of hypotheses for the mechanism of intron origins, while clearly indicating an entirely unexpected pathway — emergence as accidents arising during the repair of double-strand breaks.”
    A somewhat related story in PhysOrg reported an “inverse relationship between gene duplication and alternative splicing.”  Scientists at the University of Georgia, working with the lab plant Arabidopsis and with poplar trees, noted the difference in their degrees of duplication.  They believe they reflect “distinct defense strategies” due to different environmental threats.  “Alternative splicing is the molecular process that allows a single gene to produce many gene products or proteins with potentially different functions,” the article explained.  The fact that the large poplar tree has only 7,000 more genes than a tiny weed indicated to the team that it’s not the number of genes that matters in a genome, but how they are regulated.
    Gene regulation – including the regulation of introns and duplicates and alternative ways to splice exons together – is at the cutting edge of genome research.  Are these aspects of the evolutionary history of the organisms, or do they reflect underlying design strategies we do not yet understand?
The design hypothesis already has a superior track record in debunking much of the “junk DNA” notion (12/05/2009, 05/18/2009).  Here is a clear opportunity for design scientists to approach these puzzles with a different orientation than evolutionary biologists.  Rather than assuming these are all leftover relics of common ancestry, why not assume there is a method to the madness?  Already, “gene regulation” implies higher-order design that is not readily derivable from DNA itself.  And developmental biology is beginning to see levels of hierarchical design that are orders of magnitude more intricate than anything man has ever designed.
    Introns appear as nonsense to us right now.  Maybe that is because we just don’t understand the language yet.  Even if they turn out to be the accumulations of scars from repair of double-stranded breaks, that fact would presuppose repair systems that were robust enough to prevent genetic catastrophes.  Humans routinely discard much of the packaging of their inventions (crates, cardboard boxes, bubble wrap) without losing confidence that the goods were designed.  The hypothesis that introns leave a trace of common ancestry has just been challenged by the discovery of parallel intron gain.  Each new revelation in genomics, by contrast, underscores the elegance of the machinery that reads, transcribes and translates the genetic code.  And to think that elaborate proofreading and repair systems exist to protect the genome is mind boggling (see Science Daily 10/22/2009, for example).  With essential molecular machines like this required for reproduction, it seems impossible for evolution to even get started without the machinery already present and working – by design.
    Yet the mystery of introns remains unsolved (09/02/2003).  There are tantalizing clues of design to be discovered.  Already a functional intron has been reported (02/06/2008), or they may provide “handles” for transcription machinery (09/12/2003).  The sophistication of the spliceosome that cuts out introns and splices together the exons gives us cause to wonder why Darwinian natural selection would go to such trouble to keep them around.  Why isn’t evolution eliminating them from the genome?  Given Darwinism’s dismal record on vestigial organs, glial cells and junk DNA, will you trust them with this question?  It will be interesting to follow which approach – design or evolution – emerges as the fittest in explaining the puzzle of introns.
Next headline on:  GeneticsEvolutionIntelligent Design
A Word from the Wise
Dec 14, 2009 – The WISE infrared mapping telescope launched successfully this morning.  See Aviation Week for a description of what we can expect to learn from this new tool in space.  Compare this with what the BBC News shows the ground-based Vista telescope is beginning to reveal in the infrared from a mountaintop in Chile.

Iapetus Mystery Moon Solved   12/14/2009    
Dec 14, 2009 — Iapetus, that black-and-white moon orbiting Saturn that has mystified astronomers for 338 years, may finally be understood.  The dark material did come from outside – not inside.  The exogenic theory has won.  It’s been coated with dust from outer moons, but that’s not all: uneven heating has moved the ice around on the surface, accentuating the contrast between light and dark areas.  This combination of processes explains the yin-yang appearance of this moon, with its ten-fold brightness dichotomy that was noticed by Jean-Dominique Cassini, its discoverer, in 1671.
    Two papers published ahead of print on Science Express explain the latest theory.1,2  Jet Propulsion Laboratory issued a short press release about the models based on data from the Cassini orbiter.  A more detailed press release was posted by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).  PhysOrg presented a summary with graphs.  See 10/16/2007 bullet 3, 05/05/2008, and 10/07/2009 for previous CEH entries about the mysteries of this moon’s surface.  (Note: the current papers do not address or explain the mystery of the equatorial mountain ridge; see 03/01/2006 and 02/06/2006.)
    Iapetus is a victim of a “runaway feedback loop, operating on a global scale,” the SwRI press release states.  Infalling material, probably from the Phoebe ring (see 10/07/2009), accumulates on the leading side of the moon.  Like many moons, Iapetus always keeps one hemisphere facing the planet.  By analogy, if you saw dust on your windshield but not on your rear window, you would assume you were moving forward through a field of dust without spinning the car.  Iapetus thus has a “leading hemisphere” and a “trailing hemisphere.”  The leading hemisphere is the dark one.  But simple infalling dust is not enough to explain the extreme differences in brightness.  All existing spacecraft images of Iapetus from Voyager and Cassini can be found at JPL’s Planetary Photojournal.  Images PIA08375 and PIA08374 are especially striking.
    Because Iapetus has a slow orbit around Saturn (29 years), the dark portions are exposed to sunlight longer than on inner Saturnian moons.  This creates just enough temperature difference in the dark areas to cause the water ice to sublimate.  Then, the low gravity on Iapetus makes the water molecules bounce toward the poles and the cooler trailing hemisphere, leading to a pile-up of bright ice on one face.  The dark material on the “windshield” get darker over time.  A similar process may explain subtle brightness dichotomies on other moons, such as Oberon and Titania at Uranus.  The situation at Iapetus, though, is extreme.
    Critical observations by Cassini that led to these conclusions included the shallow depth of the dark material, the segregation of material on crater walls and extremely sharp boundaries of dark and light material in places, temperature measurements, spectra of the dark material, and observations of infalling material from the outer moons, especially Phoebe (06/14/2004, 02/28/2005, 10/07/2009).  The scientists then modeled the behavior of ice under those conditions.
    The papers gave some clues about the age of the surface.  Bright floors of some craters show that the dark material is only meters thick at most – probably quite a bit less than one meter, according to radar measurements.  Because of the absorbent dark dust, the bright ice heats up and moves around quickly.  Spencer and Denk said, “Because of the extreme temperature dependence of sublimation rates, mean sublimation is determined largely by maximum diurnal temperature rather than mean temperature, so ice on Iapetus with the low albedo of the leading side has by far the highest sublimation rate of ice on any Saturn satellite, equivalent to over 100 meters of sublimation in a billion years if unimpeded by the formation of a lag deposit.”  In their computer model, they assumed deposition rates of 3 and 0.3 cm per billion years.  Their resulting maps matched the actual surface dark-light boundaries pretty well.  The rate of sublimation, however, is very short:

A strong prediction of this model is that the dark material of Iapetus’ Cassini Regio [the dark hemisphere] should be essentially ice-free.  On Iapetus’ dark terrain, with 129 K peak daytime temperatures, 1 mm of ice should sublime in only 8,000 years.  Cassini Regio shows both a weak H2O absorption edge at 160 nm, and a strong 3 [micrometer) H2O band, but these features may be due to bound water rather than H2O ice.  The weaker 1.5 and 2.0 [micrometer] H2O bands typically seen in planetary water ice are not seen in Cassini Regio, so if ice is present it must be in micron-sized grains.  However micron-sized ice grains should sublime away in decades at these temperatures.
The fact that Cassini still sees a faint signature of water ice in the dark material seems to argue that the surface has not been undergoing this runaway segregation for billions of years.  In addition, the second paper by Denk et al noted that bright young craters should darken quickly: “If a new crater has excavated icy material that is ~10X brighter than the dark Cassini Regio coating (and thus about as bright as icy parts of the trailing side), it is only about half as bright ~10,000 years later.”  Yet Cassini Regio (the dark area) is punctuated by bright areas, as the latest high-resolution map indicates.  One of the largest impact basins, a crater named Malun 75 miles across, is completely dark.  “Despite its relative youthfulness,” the authors commented, “its surface is completely dark, arguing for a darkening process that continued after Malun formed.”  Spencer and Denk pointed out also that impacts will excavate and mix ice into the upper layers, exposing it to sublimation.  This process, called “impact gardening,” should accelerate the darkening of the leading hemisphere.
    If thermal segregation has been going on for billions of years, why are any bright features left on the dark side?  By making certain assumptions about impact rate, they produced a graph (Figure 3C in the Denk et al paper) that shows some bright craters as old as 400 million years (less than 1/10 the assumed age of Iapetus); the majority are far younger.  All these, however, should have been darkened completely in the rapid thermal segregation process.  Crater Escremiz in particular is extremely bright and still has prominent bright rays extending from the impact.  Unless they can believe most of these bright young craters were produced in the last 90% to 99% of the assumed age of the solar system, thinking about the age of this moon’s surface seems poised for fresh excavation.
1.  John R. Spencer and Tillman Denk, “Formation of Iapetus' Extreme Albedo Dichotomy by Exogenically Triggered Thermal Ice Migration,” Science, Published Online December 10, 2009, Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1177132.
2.  Denk et al, “Iapetus: Unique Surface Properties and a Global Color Dichotomy from Cassini Imaging,” Science Express, Published Online December 10, 2009, Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1177088.
For those of us who have followed this mystery since the Voyagers in 1981 failed to resolve it, there is a mix of satisfaction and wonder at the solution.  Who would have thought of this answer before we had the high-resolution images that forced it?  It’s an illustration of how observations – data – are vital for constraining theories, models and speculations (like those of Arthur C. Clarke in 2001: A Space Odyssey, who made Iapetus the Stargate of the advanced aliens; Wikipedia explains).
    Yet there is also a strange sense of schizophrenia in the scientific papers.  On the one hand, the authors cannot avoid the evidence that many of these features look young.  On the other, though, they cannot and will not ever admit that they are too young to fit into the billions-of-years paradigm.  The papers go strangely silent on that point.  It’s bizarre.  The assumed Age of the Solar System (A.S.S.) is, in planetary science, a Law of the Misdeeds and Perversions that cannot be altered.  The solution is to either ignore the problem, or to change the subject: i.e., H2O on Iapetus?  Maybe there could be liquid water under the crust – maybe there could be life! (Examples: 03/26/2008, 07/12/2007, bullet 1, PhysOrg.)
    Remember that it’s more reasonable to set an upper limit on age than a lower limit.  Why?  Because the observation-to-assumption ratio is lower.  We only have a few centuries of observation of Iapetus – only a few decades of spacecraft observations, the best observations within the last 4 years from Cassini.  Extrapolating what we know or can reasonably infer back in time by a few decades or centuries or millennia may be acceptable, but not billions of years.  These papers indicate that impact gardening, sublimation and thermal segregation will darken a crater within a few thousand years.  With very liberal assumptions they can stretch some of the bright craters into a few tens or hundreds of millions of years – but not billions.  It’s probably far less, due to the fact that the ice is lost to space each orbit (see 05/05/2008).  But even the most generous upper limit is far less than the time needed to keep Iapetus 4.5 billion years old.
    Lower limits, on the other hand, constrain the upper limits and pull them back closer to young ages.  (The absolute lower limit is Voyager’s arrival year of 1981, when observations of the surface began.)  Suppose a meteor swarm caused a larger number of impacts within the last 10,000 years.  Suppose further that impacts on Phoebe sent extraordinary amounts of dust hurtling toward Iapetus within that time period.  Phoebe, the reputed source of the dark material on Iapetus, is, after all, riddled with large craters showing exposed ice; one is 62 miles across (see Photojournal).  We don’t know how much material from Phoebe and the other retrograde outer moons of Saturn landed on Iapetus, or when it did, or whether it arrived episodically or in steady state.  The large Phoebe craters suggest episodes of heavy deposition occurred.  The presence of the huge Phoebe Ring (10/07/2009), furthermore, suggests that material could pile up quickly on Iapetus – yet only a meter or less is seen today.  Other observations militate against slow-and-gradual accumulation over billions of years: the rapid loss of carbon dioxide ice, the amount and extent of bright material in Cassini Regio, the quick darkening of young crater Malun, and the incomplete segregation in the bright areas.  They certainly make it hard to believe in billions of years.  But if we rule out billions of years, it raises a whole new set of questions the evolutionists dare not entertain.
    What they do, therefore, is tweak their models to preserve the A.S.S.  Spencer and Denk, for instance, assumed dark material deposition rates of 0.3cm and 3.0 cm per billion years.  Why?  Because those rates produce the Iapetus-like pattern in billions of years.  How convenient.  It locks the A.S.S. right into the model (this is known as circular reasoning).  This way, their resulting graphs match the observed pattern in 2.4 billion years (whoops; that’s only half the assumed age of the moon; oh well, close enough?)
    A quick look at their model parameters chart in the Supplementary Material shows they considered a faster deposition rate of 25 cm per billion years, with the comment, “Faster dark material accumulation rate.”  Since that setting produced the pattern in just 300 million years, it was quietly dismissed with this comment: “Model E shows the effects of increasing dark material accumulation rates.  For this model, darkening of mid-latitudes on the trailing hemisphere happens more quickly than sublimation can brighten them, resulting in much greater darkening of the entire leading hemisphere than is seen on Iapetus, in just a few hundred million years.”  Well, then, maybe it could produce the observed pattern in a lot less than a few hundred million years.  They left themselves some leeway due to the “crudeness of our model.”
    Models by definition are only simulations of reality.  Other plausible models with variable deposition rates and impact rates might produce the observed pattern in orders of magnitude less time.  A rigorous examination of the assumptions used in these papers, constrained by observations, might rule out the billions of years evolution requires.  Here’s an opportunity for creation scientists to tighten the upper-limit belt for the processes on Iapetus, and cause some impact on the evolutionary A.S.S.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating MethodsPhysics
  Why mutations cannot act as raw material for evolutionary progress: the 12/14/2006 entry explained that mutations conspire to accelerate each other’s damage to the host.  This is an important principle to understand.  An analogy in the commentary helps to illustrate the problem.

Contenders Vie for Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week   12/13/2009    
Dec 13, 2009 — Creation-Evolution Headlines needs reader feedback to rank this week’s winners.  Some of these articles are so over the top, giving Darwin credit for anything and everything, it’s a wonder the Darwinists themselves don’t censor them – just to avoid public embarrassment.

  1. Evolve!  Sing AlongNew Scientist is letting you take part in the evolutionary process with music.  The headline “You have the power to make music... evolve,” is accompanied by a picture of Darwin wearing headphones.  So what’s this about?  “At DarwinTunes.org, bioinformaticist Bob MacCallum and evolutionary biologist Armand Leroi of Imperial College London have devised a way to watch music evolve right before their eyes – and in doing so study the cultural analogue of biological evolution, also known as memetics.”  So how are they going about this?  “MacCullum’s computer program creates a randomly generated pair of ‘Adam and Eve’ ‘songs’--brief loops of sound.  They mutate, recombine and reproduce to form a base population of 100 descendants.”  OK, then what? 
    Participants act as the force of natural selection by listening to the songs and rating them, from “I love it!” through “It’s OK...” to “I can’t stand it ”.  For every 20 songs, the 10 worst rated die off, while the 10 best rated go on to reproduce at random, with each “mating” producing two new songs.  Each daughter song inherits a mixture of the parents’ computer codes, just as a biological organism inherits a mixture of its parents’ genetic codes.
    Their idea compares “DarwinTunes” to chromosomes, altered notes to genetic mutations, and the junction of two random tunes to mating.  It appears this entire experiment is based on analogy – similar to how Darwin used artificial selection as an analogy to natural selection.  So have some fun and sing along.  Just don’t use any intelligent design.  Maybe the results will improve on John Cage.
  2. Bombs away to photosynthesis:  Did Jeffrey Touchman (Arizona State) really mean to imply that meteorites gave rise to oxygenic photosynthesis?  If so, that sounds almost miraculous.  Photosynthesis is one of the most complex mechanisms in the living world.  Here’s how the write-up on PhysOrg liberally employed the word evolution.  Watch for the miraculous meteorites:
    1. Oxygen, one of the by-products of photosynthesis by microbes such as cyanobacteria and their descendants (including algae and higher plants), transformed the Precambrian Earth and made possible the evolution of more complex organisms.
    2. His research is focused on genome sequencing and molecular analyses of heliobacteria, proteobacteria and a cyanobacterium with the ability to shift into anoxygenic (oxygen-free) photosynthesis in the presence of sulfide, a possible evolutionary ‘missing link’ between anoxygenic and oxygenic photosynthetic organisms.
    3. Knowing how photosynthesis originated and evolved is essential to obtaining the deep understanding required to yield improvements in bioenergy, agriculture and the environment,” Touchman says.
    4. Hidden in these organisms’ various genetic codes may be hallmarks: traces of early evolutionary innovations pointing to the origin of oxygen-evolving high-energy photosynthesis.”
    5. The arrival of oxygenic photosynthesis via transport of materials by external means, such as meteorites, could profoundly change the direction of biological evolution on a planet’s surface.
    The article twice employed one of science writer’s favorite stock evolutionary phrases: “‘Extreme’ genes shed light on origins of photosynthesis.... One of those actively shedding light on the origins and evolution of photosynthesis is Jeffrey Touchman, assistant professor in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences.”  He got $867,000 from the National Science Foundation for his light shedding.
  3. Talk to your monkey:  Scientists have uncovered the “potential existence of precursors to human language in animal vocal communication.”  A reader might wonder what “potential existence” entails – especially if it is only a precursor to a real cursor (or curser).  Does it mean something like a possible pre-possibility?  Anyhow, Science Daily trumpeted “Syntax in Our Primate Cousins.”  Certain monkeys appear to be able to combine six alert calls into sequences that provide different warnings.  “This ability to combine calls may have appeared during the monkeys’ evolution to compensate for limited vocal flexibility (monkeys have less vocal flexibility than birds and cetaceans) and provide a way to encode new messages.”  Conundrum: If there’s a way, is there a will?  If evolution provided them with a way to encode messages, did the monkeys do the encoding by intelligent design?  Or did natural selection they pay their syntax for them?
  4. No dentures allowed in carry-on baggage:  Here’s an intriguing hypothesis: “Early birds may have dropped teeth to get airborne.”  Colin Barras at New Scientist gave free rein to the speculations of Chinese scientists with a new idea of why modern birds have no teeth.  “Archaeopteryx, at 150 million years old still the oldest known bird, had an imposing set of teeth,” he said.  “But within 20 million years, at least some birds were toothless.  Now a team led by Zhonghe Zhou at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing believe they know why.”  Presumably someone can believe they know something without knowing they believe something.
        Maybe a new toothless bird fossil from China can shed some light here, too: “Their analysis shows that Z. yangi belonged to one of four bird groups that independently lost their teeth, implying that this loss was no evolutionary fluke.”  The parasites known as flukes (blood flukes, liver flukes, etc.) are not what they are talking about here.  The statement seems to imply that while there might be an occasional fluke (or happenstance) of evolution, there are also events that are purposeful or intentional – an idea which, or course, runs contrary to the whole Darwinian paradigm.
        Z. yangi’s group is the most primitive among them,” the article continued, “suggesting it could provide clues as to why tooth loss occurred.”  A suggestion that a clue might be forthcoming implies that there are no clues yet.  Yet without clues, it seems, there can be no answer to a “why” question based on evidence.  Enter Darwin’s mechanism to the rescue: “They think natural selection may have put pressure on weaker fliers to lose their teeth in a bid to improve their skills by losing excess weight.”  A curious reader might wonder if birds bid on auctions or go to self-improvement classes.  An ornithology-astute reader also might wonder if the presence of gizzard stones makes this a zero-sum game for the bird, which must have compensated for the lack of teeth with additional digestive system modifications.
        Reporter Colin Barras did redeem himself somewhat by quoting a lone skeptical voice: “That theory is ‘as good as any other’, says Mike Benton at the University of Bristol, UK, though he remains sceptical.  ‘Losing teeth wouldn’t make a huge difference to balance in the air.’” 
If one theory is as good as any other, is it also as bad as any other?  That would seem the only logical possibility in a set of theories lacking any ranking of good or bad.
The emptiness of evolutionary speculation approaches a vacuum.  We should abhor this vacuum.  With no evidence at all, their belief in evolution is allowed to substitute for evidence.  A gushy media with no guts to challenge fact-free speculation plays into the hands of belief masquerading as science, imagination masquerading as knowledge.  They’re shedding light on evolution, all right (shed., verb: to discard, abandon, cast off).  They walk in darkness, the blind leading the blind into the ditch, bragging about all the light Darwin gave them.
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryMammalsBirdsFossilsDumb Ideas
Dec. 12, 2009 – Our Resource of the Week feature has neglected to mention last year’s movie hit with Ben Stein, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed by Premise Media.  Till now – better late than never.  The film is primarily about free speech, particularly, the freedom of scientists to question the Darwin paradigm.  Droll actor, writer and TV commentator Ben Stein was the perfect gentleman to narrate this film.  He lent a non-threatening face to the task of simply asking why the Darwinians are so adamant about preventing supporters of intelligent design from getting a seat at the scientific discussion about origins.  Stein had no fear about approaching the biggest names in his quest.  As a result, the film contains a Who’s Who of I.D. scientists and Darwin defenders. 
    The Darwinians trashed this movie with a passion – probably because Stein made them look so bad.  Richard Dawkins’ performance was so embarrassing it was almost painful to watch.  He admitted on film that space aliens might have seeded life on earth – a kind of intelligent design – but that they themselves must have been produced by a Darwinian process.  Michael Ruse said that crystals might have been responsible for the origin of life.  PZ Myers compared religion to knitting.  William Provine used his free will to explain that humans have no free will.  All the Darwin defenders in Expelled looked nasty, arrogant and intolerant – something pro-Darwin scientist-filmmaker Randy Olson has basically admitted in film and print himself, admonishing his Darwin brethren to try to act a little nicer, because it’s hurting their cause.
    The Darwinists hated this film, too, because of its presentation that Darwinian beliefs contributed to the Holocaust.  But it’s hard to deny the connection when the tour guide at Hadamar told Stein herself on camera that Darwin was the primary influence behind the murders of the “unfit” that took place there.  A careful watching, noting historian Richard Weikart’s clear statements and the evidence of the Eugenics movement, shows that the connection drawn was not simplistic but historically justifiable.  The repeated imagery of the Berlin Wall is also apt.  The film depicts multiple “checkpoints” the Darwin elitists use to prevent the public from hearing valid scientific criticisms of Darwin: the schools, the courts, and the media.
    Short cartoons, antique clips and clever editing make Expelled entertaining to watch.  The true stories of how Darwinists destroyed careers of I.D. scientists are sobering.  And a highlight of the film is a beautiful, original animation of molecular machines in the cell.  The DVD is available on Amazon.com in regular and Blu-Ray formats.  Watch the super trailer on YouTube.  The whole 1 hour 40 minute film can be watched online at TopDocumentaries.com (Expelled ranked #14 in documentary movies since 2000 and was #1 for 2008).
The Rest of the Story: for exposing Darwinist intolerance, Ben Stein got expelled himself (02/19/2009, bullet 5).
Next resource of the week:  12/05/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

Darwin vs. the Fossils   12/11/2009    
Dec 11, 2009 — What could be more iconic to evolution than dinosaurs and the horse series?  Museums often display skeletons of these animals as proof of evolution.  The real story told in scientific papers is often very different.  Two recent studies present major, serious challenges to Darwin’s theory.

  1. Horse series:  The old straight-line chart of horse evolution from a small dog-like animal to the modern thoroughbred is out.  Othniel Charles Marsh and Thomas Henry Huxley in the 1870s were possessed of a vision of straight-line evolution known as orthogenesis.  The iconic series presented in museums and textbooks has long been known to be erroneous.  Most evolutionists today realize that Darwin’s theory does not call for a single progressive line of descent, but rather a branching tree or bush.  Still, if Darwin’s theory is true, gradualism should prevail, with numerous intermediate forms progressing from ancestors to descendents.  Darwin himself taught that “Natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a great and sudden leap.”  Then came a paper in PNAS this week.1
        A team of 22 international researchers led by Ludovic Orlando of the University of Lyon in France did one of the first-ever comprehensive comparisons of ancient DNA (aDNA) from fossil equids (including horses, donkeys and zebras).  These specimens came from 4 continents.  The results were so shocking, they call for an almost complete overhaul of the horse series.  For one thing, they concluded that many specimens relegated to separate species are actually variations on the same species.  For another, they found that for evolution to be true there had to be sudden bursts of diversification – Cambrian-like explosions within the horse family – contrary to Darwin’s prohibition of great and sudden leaps.  Here’s how they began:
    The rich fossil record of the family Equidae (Mammalia: Perissodactyla) over the past 55 MY has made it an icon for the patterns and processes of macroevolution.  Despite this, many aspects of equid phylogenetic relationships and taxonomy remain unresolved.  Recent genetic analyses of extinct equids have revealed unexpected evolutionary patterns and a need for major revisions at the generic, subgeneric, and species levels.  To investigate this issue we examine 35 ancient equid specimens from four geographic regions (South America, Europe, Southwest Asia, and South Africa), of which 22 delivered 87–688 bp of reproducible aDNA mitochondrial sequence.  Phylogenetic analyses support a major revision of the recent evolutionary history of equids and reveal two new species, a South American hippidion and a descendant of a basal lineage potentially related to Middle Pleistocene equids.  Sequences from specimens assigned to the giant extinct Cape zebra, Equus capensis, formed a separate clade within the modern plain zebra species, a phenotypicically [sic] plastic group that also included the extinct quagga.  In addition, we revise the currently recognized extinction times for two hemione-related equid groups.  However, it is apparent that the current dataset cannot solve all of the taxonomic and phylogenetic questions relevant to the evolution of Equus.  In light of these findings, we propose a rapid DNA barcoding approach to evaluate the taxonomic status of the many Late Pleistocene fossil Equidae species that have been described from purely morphological analyses.
    What they are saying is that the horse series had been built on morphological analyses – comparing the outward features of skeletons.  The molecular data they studied (ancient DNA) doesn’t match up.  They spoke of “explosive diversification” twice in the introduction, and then “rapid radiation” once for horses and another time for elephants and bears.  The only time they mentioned “gradual” was to debunk it: “The original linear model of gradual modification of fox-sized animals (Hyracothere horses) to the modern forms has been replaced by a more complex tree, showing periods of explosive diversification and branch extinctions over 55 MY” [million years].  Similarly, the only instance of the word “transition” connotes another bang: “The end of the Early Miocene (15–20 MYA) marks a particularly important transition, separating an initial phase of small leafy browsers from a second phase of more diverse animals, exhibiting tremendous body-size plasticity and modifications in tooth morphology.  This explosive diversification has been accompanied by several stages of geographic extension from North America to the rest of the New and Old Worlds.”  What this means is that these animals appeared in the fossil record suddenly without the gradual transitions Darwin expected, then appeared quickly all over the world.
        They tried nonetheless to put the data into an evolutionary tree.  What resulted was confusion, disjunction, and irresolution.  Sample quote: “The lack of resolution is complicated by the short divergence time among caballines and New World horses (circa 0.5 MY; nodes A and B/B1/B2; Table S4) and the lack of a close outgroup, as has been noted with mammoths (30, 31).  When the rhino was used as an outgroup, the data were RY coded to reduce possible mutation saturation artifacts resulting from this the deep divergence (55 MYA), but this removed support for most nodes.”  Not only that, their best fit was at odds with previous theories.  This quote gives the feel of their frustration:
    According to our molecular dating estimates, the different equid lineages (hippidiforms, NWSL, caballines, and noncaballines) originated 3.7–4.3 MYA (95% confidence range: 2.8–6.2 MYA; Table S4).  This directly contrasts with classical palaeontological models of hippidiform origins as descendants of the Pliohippines (divergence time with the Equus lineage ~10 MYA) (19) or as a lineage diverging from a (Dinohippus, Astrohippus, and Equus) clade ~7–8 MYA (32), and considerably reduces the time gap between the supposed divergence of the hippidiform lineages and their first appearance in the fossil record 2.5 MYA (20).
    They had to leave resolution of these and other problems to future research.  Here’s one of their main take-home lessons: paleontologists have been too quick to split specimens into different groups.  The DNA data are showing that equids that appear morphologically different are really just variations of the same kinds.  Their final paragraph showed that their bombshell discovery could have impacts on many other evolutionary trees – including those of human ancestors:
    This pattern of taxonomic oversplitting does not appear to be restricted to equids but is widespread amongst other Quaternary megafauna [e.g., Late Pleistocene bison (49); Holarctic cave lions (50); New World brown bears (51), and ratite moas (52, 53)].  Together, these findings suggest that the morphological plasticity of large terrestrial vertebrates across space and time has generally been underestimated, opening the way to detailed studies of the environmental, ecological, and epigenetic factors involved.  Interestingly, in this regard the human lineage shows a rich fossil record over the last 6 MY, spreading over seven possible genera and 22 species (54).  The exact number of taxonomic groups that should be recognized is still debated, even within our own genus (55), and in this context it is pertinent to consider the degree of taxonomic oversplitting, from species to generic levels, that aDNA has revealed amongst Late Pleistocene equids and other megafauna.  A further important implication of this finding is that the number of megafaunal extinctions and loss of taxonomic diversity from the Pleistocene to modern day may not have been nearly as large as previously thought, at least at the species or subspecies level.  Conversely, at the molecular level, aDNA studies on a wide range of large mammal taxa (49, 50, 56, 57) have revealed that the loss of genetic diversity over this time period has been much larger than previously recognized with major implications for the conservation biology of surviving populations (58).
    Nevertheless, here’s how it came out in the popular media: Science Daily published a happy headline, “DNA Sheds New Light on Horse Evolution.”  Though it mentioned some of the above problems, the article avoided stating that the findings challenge evolutionary theory.  In addition, the press release bounced off the last line of the paper about loss of diversity to suggest this has something to worry humans more about global warming: “This has serious implications for biodiversity and the future impacts of climate change.”  Since no humans were building factories when most of these lines went extinct, it appears a blatant non-sequitur to link this story to current climate debates.  At best, it is a distraction from the point of the article.

  2. Dinosaurs:  Maybe Darwin’s gradualism can be rescued with dinosaur fossils.  Not so; PhysOrg reported, “Fossils shake dinosaur family tree.”  A well-preserved fossil found in New Mexico, named Tawa after a Hopi sun god, is generating a similar song and dance we just saw for the horse series: “...an interesting fact about dinosaur evolution: once they appeared, they very rapidly diversified into the three main dinosaur lineages that persisted for more than 170 million years.
        The operative word is appeared.  This leaves important questions begging: appeared how and from what?  Darwin’s theory of common descent wants answers.  The new fossil is roughly similar to Herrerasaurus, considered by some to be the putative ancestor of the dinosaurs.  But Herrerasaurus is shown by its resemblance to Tawa to be a theropod.  In short, a fully-formed theropod “appeared” followed by an explosive appearance of all three main dinosaur types, which changed little for 170 million years in the evolutionary timeline.  Here’s how Sterling Nesbitt (U of Texas at Austin) explained it: “Tawa pulls Herrerasaurus into the theropod lineage, so that means all three lineages are present in South America pretty much as soon as dinosaurs evolved.”  This has to include the lumbering sauropods with their bird-hips and the carnivorous monster theropods with their lizard-hips; and what about the marine reptiles and pterosaurs?  They, too, “appeared” as from nowhere.
        Another complication about Tawa is what it suggests about the source location of the missing ancestor, and how the descendents migrated.  At the New Mexico site, “Tawa skeletons were found beside two other theropod dinosaurs from around the same period,” the article continued.  “Nesbitt noted that each of the three is more closely related to a known dinosaur from South America than they are to each other.  This suggests these three species each descended from a separate lineage in South America, rather than all evolving from a local ancestor, and then later dispersed to North America and other parts of the supercontinent Pangaea.  It also suggests there were multiple dispersals out of South America.”  Positing three ancestral lines solves little; it multiplies the missing-ancestor problem threefold.
        More on Tawa was reported by Nature News.  Jeanna Bryner at Live Science put a positive spin on the story, claiming, “Geographic Origin of Dinosaurs Pinned Down.”  She even put imaginary feathers (06/13/2007) on the critter: “Like Velociraptor, the dinosaur was likely covered with feather-like structures and sported claws and serrated teeth for snagging prey.”  If the ancestor if this creature crawled like a crocodile or amphibian, that’s a pretty dramatic overhaul in the body shop.  And what happened to the lumbering sauropods, if this is close to the ancestor of all dinosaurs?  It already looks like an advanced theropod.  Bryner did not explain how these dramatic changes in morphology occurred by an evolutionary process.  She only suggested that climate was a factor: “They think the answer is climate.  For some reason, only the carnivorous dinosaurs found temperatures in North America to be hospitable, the researchers suggest.”  (Note that her venue is Live Science, not Live Speculation.)
        This month in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, the multiple-PhD creationist Dr. Jerry Bergman examined the issue of dinosaur evolution.2  He showed that the ancestry of dinosaurs is a hodgepodge of speculation without evidence.  He demonstrated this for the whole dinosaur clade, then specifically for the ceratopsids (like Triceratops) and the tyrannosaurids (like T. rex).  The picture, he said, is one of abrupt appearance, stasis, and extinction.  “Over 30 million dinosaur bones and parts, some in excellent states of preservation, have been identified, and although much speculation exists, not a single documented plausible direct ancestor has yet been located,” he said.  “All known dinosaurs appear fully formed in the fossil record.”  The news appears to confirm that picture.
        Science Daily’s write-up contained this illustration of how evolutionary speculation operates: “Based on an analysis of the relationships among Tawa and other early dinosaurs, the researchers hypothesize that dinosaurs originated in a part of Pangea that is now South America, diverging into theropods (like Tyrannosaurus rex), sauropodomorphs (like Apatosaurus) and ornithischians (like Triceratops); and then dispersed more than 220 million years ago across parts of Pangea that later became separate continents.”  No basis for the analysis was given – other than a prior belief in evolution.  The artist reconstruction of Tawa looks nothing like an Apatosaurus or Triceratops.  The article did not mention any physical evidence of an ancestor or a location for it.  It did not mention any plausible way for a putative ancestor to “originate” or “diverge” into three very different body types.  Yet, somehow, this fossil “provides fantastic insight into the evolution of the skeleton of the first carnivorous dinosaurs” the article claimed.  As for causes for these changes, the study attributed all the evolution to climate and the missing ancestor’s ability to move around.  No evolutionary or genetic theory was defended, and no fossils were presented to support the “hypothesizing”  Dittos for the short write-up in National Geographic, which partly funded the research.  It claims the new fossil “boosts the theory” that dinosaurs “arose” then “diversified into three lineages and migrated out to the rest of the world, scientists say.”  If anyone in any other field, or a dad telling his children a bedtime story, invoked such evidence-free speculation, would it be called science?  The BBC News even allowed a scientist to state, without confrontation, that this fossil “filled a gap in the fossil record”.

As icons for Darwinian evolution, it appears that horses and dinosaurs are not pulling their weight.  To show this is not an isolated problem, two other articles this week proclaim the same anti-gradualistic theme of abrupt appearance.  A press release from Howard Hughes Medical Institute Dec. 10 talked about experiments on stickleback fish.  “Biologists have been debating since Darwin’s time about whether evolution can proceed in a single large step or if numerous, individually minor changes are necessary.” the press release said.  “The new study, reported in the December 10, 2009, issue of Science Express and led by HHMI investigator David Kingsley of Stanford University, provides evidence that evolution can leap rather than shuffle.”  Even so, the article is primarily about gene loss and alterations in the regulation of existing genes – not the increases in genetic information that molecules-to-man evolution would require.  The best they could characterize the study was, “we are getting the first tantalizing glimpses of how new variants arise.”  Call back when you can see clearly.
    Finally, Ken Smith reported for Nature News that “New species evolve in bursts.”  PhysOrg waxed even more dramatic, saying “Evolution may take giant leaps.”  What’s this about?  Mark Pagel compared four models of speciation, using “more than 100 species groups from the animal and plant kingdoms, including bumblebees, turtles, foxes and roses.”  His analysis refutes the “Red Queen” hypothesis of gradual, steady evolution, instead suggesting that “New species might arise as a result of single rare events, rather than through the gradual accumulation of many small changes over time, according to a study of thousands of species and their evolutionary family trees.”  Though a staunch evolutionist himself, Pagel realized how anti-Darwinian his feather-ruffling conclusion is: “It really goes against the grain because most of us have this Darwinian view of speciation,” he said.  “What we’re saying is that to think about natural selection as the cause of speciation is perhaps wrong.”
    Maybe the new motto of the evolutionists should be, “One small step for a model; one giant leap for evolution.”  Or is that a leap of faith?


1.  Orlando et al, “Revising the recent evolutionary history of equids using ancient DNA,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published December 9, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0903672106.
2.  Available to the public in PDF at CRS.  Bergman, Jerry, “The Evolution of Dinosaurs: Much Conjecture, Little Evidence,” Creation Research Society Quarterly (Vol. 46, No. 2), Fall 2009.
Single rare events – could that include something like six days of creation?  After all, the Darwinians are asking us to believe in miracles, anyway (sudden “giant leaps”, and animals that “arise” out of nowhere).  While Darwin is mumbling pathetically, with tears in his beard, let’s think about what the fossil evidence is telling us.
Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolutionary TheoryFossilsMammalsDinosaurs
  Four years ago, leading cosmologists were trying to hide the clear evidence of intelligent design in our universe in a mythical multiverse.  Read about their angst in the 12/18/2005 entry.  That was the same month the SETI Institute was trying also the escape allegations of using intelligent design methods (12/03/2005).

Comparative Legacies of Two Rocket Pioneers   12/10/2009    
Dec 10, 2009 — Wernher von Braun developed rockets in Germany that were used by the Nazis, then came to America, became an American citizen, and pioneered the American space program, including landing man on the moon.  Qian Xuesen developed rockets in America then moved to China, where he joined the Communist Party and pioneered the Chinese space program for Mao Zedong.  Which one do you think gets more favorable treatment by the press?
    Von Braun (see bio here) still enjoys strong admiration among the rocket teams at Huntsville and Cape Canaveral, but was subjected to repeated allegations of Nazi collaboration during his life and after his death.  The most recent example is Wayne Biddle’s book The Dark Side of the Moon, reviewed favorably by Mike O'Hare, editor of New Scientist.  O'Hare “deconstructed” von Braun by accepting without question O'Hare’s claims that von Braun was a willing participant in Nazi atrocities.  (A very different view was presented in far more detail by long-time von Braun colleague Frank Ordway in Von Braun: Crusader for Space.)  Most historians view the American capture of the German rocket team as a strategic coup that had profound benefits for America, giving her a strong head start in the space race.  Von Braun received numerous honorary degrees and awards during his lifetime, was made an honorary member of the British Interplanetary Society (by a country victimized by Nazi rockets), developed the Apollo rockets, had the highest American security clearances, was trusted by Congress and American presidents, and even became a Christian, popularized space travel with Disney, and promoted the peaceful exploration of space till his death.  No amount of penance or display of personal integrity, though, seems able to shake continued allegations that he was secretly a Nazi at least when in Germany, or at best an opportunist who supported the highest bidder.  Those allegations most often come from those on the political left who subscribe to secular humanism.
    In Nature this week,1 Jane Qiu wrote an obituary for Qian Xuesen, who died Oct 31 in China.  The obituary is notable for its multiple attempts to exonerate Xuesen from any allegations of cooperation in communist ideology.  There is no question that Xuesen was instrumental in helping the American space program in its very early days, at Caltech and at the formation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he was appointed director.  By all accounts he was well liked and trusted in those days.  But Qiu paints a repeated pattern of victimhood: Xuesen became a victim of the “McCarthyism hysteria on dubious charges of being a communist” spy, which she says “have never been substantiated”.  Then he was a victim of “partial house arrest, enduring constant humiliation and harassment,” until he finally felt unwelcome in America and returned to China.  There he received a hero’s welcome.  “He joined the Communist Party in 1958 and became a trusted, high-ranking party official,” Qiu writes.  “With access to the top Chinese leaders, including Chairman Mao Zedong, he was able to persuade officials to support whatever measures he felt China needed to progress.”  Even while millions fell victim to the the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, Xuesen maintained his status. 

Despite the grave injustice Qian suffered in the United States, it is clear that his time at Caltech was one of the most enjoyable periods of his life.  He revelled in the great relationship he had with von Kármán, enjoying his mentor’s jokes and their often heated arguments.  He also reminisced, with great affection, about the intellectual ethos and creative spirit fostered at Caltech.  He contrasted these with China’s academic culture and science infrastructure, which he thought had not, and would not, lead to any real scientific innovation.
Qiu did not accuse Xuesen of any willing participation or collaboration with the goals of the communists, including the development of long-range thermonuclear weapons that out-threaten by orders of magnitude anything launched by Hitler.  Instead, she portrayed him as a simple scientist wishing he could have brought peaceful scientific blessings to his native country.  “Qian felt that the intellectual legacy he had brought from Caltech had largely failed to take root in the academic soil of his own country, and this saddened him deeply,” she ended.  “Despite his reservations, there is no doubt that he sowed the seeds of change for Chinese science.”  What kind of change, exactly?

1.  Jane Qiu, “Obituary: Qian Xuesen (1911–2009),” Nature, 462, 735 (10 December 2009) | doi:10.1038/462735a.
Nature takes openly leftist positions when discussing American politics (totally pro-Obama, pro-Copenhagen, pro-Darwin, pro-abortion, pro-embryo harvesting, pro-UN, pro-socialism, etc.), so it is not surprising they would publish a sanitized, sensitive portrait of a man who gave Mao Zedong the capacity to threaten the world with a communist takeover by means of weapons of mass destruction.  When was the last time they gave untainted honors to the father of the American space program, whose astronauts left a plaque on the moon saying, “We came in peace for all mankind”?  Did Mao ever do such a thing?
    We’re not here to argue the situation von Braun faced in the 1930s and 1940s before he willingly surrendered his whole team to America, nor are we going to defend the treatment Xuesen received in the McCarthy era.  But the end of a person’s life should provide some framework for evaluation.  Von Braun was accused of collaboration with the Nazis (though read our biography), but once on American soil, completely embraced American ideals and promoted the peaceful exploration of space.  Most to the chagrin of the liberal elitists, he became a Christian and spoke out for the freedom of students to hear evidence for creation.  Let’s remember what Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins said about von Braun’s achievement record in the Saturn rocket program:
Thirty-three Saturn flights, all successful, all without loss of life, all without weapons ... Saturns sent twenty-seven Americans to the Moon, twelve of them to walk on it.  Saturns sent nine astronauts up to Skylab, which itself was a converted Saturn upper stage.  And, finally, the last Saturn sent an American crew up to join a Russian spacecraft in earth orbit.
Xuesen, by contrast, victimized or not, willingly embraced the Chinese Communist Party.  Why them?  If he felt he had been wronged by America, could he not have gone to one of the western democracies, and helped them?  Why did he go straight to Mao?  Why was he welcomed as a hero?  Did he already have a good relationship with him as a spy?  Maybe McCarthy and the CIA found out some things that were not made public.  Whatever unfair treatment he might have received in America, his true colors were shown when he went straight to work for the most evil dictator in history, the man in the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest mass murderer in history because he slaughtered upwards of 77 million people (11/30/2005).  Not only that, Xuesen stayed in good standing with Mao and with the subsequent communist dictators till Halloween of this year.  Xuesen must have known of all the American secrets that spies brought to China.  He must have used them.  He should have known that the rockets he was developing would be aimed at the country he used to call his home.  How can such a story be whitewashed?  Where are the exposes of this turncoat?
    For a moment, take the worst possible interpretation of von Braun.  Assert that despite his explanations and the research to the contrary, he was somehow a secret Nazi that did not do all he could to stop Hitler (though he would have been shot trying).  Even then, is there any room for redemption?  Look at his subsequent enthusiastic embrace of all the American ideals and his undying support for this country.  Look at his words and his impeccable record as an American citizen, and the awards showered on him by scientists and engineers (not just politicians).  Consider, too, all the things he did in Germany for peaceful rocketry before Hitler, and how he tried to negotiate his intolerable circumstances without being shot (read the list of 13 mitigating factors in our biography).  By contrast, look at Xuesen’s post-American life.  There is no redemption there.  He ran to Mao immediately, and stayed on good terms with him throughout the most horrific purges and famines the world has ever seen.  He remained a Communist Party member in good standing to the day of his death.  No opportunism there?  No willing collaboration with communist beliefs?  Just a pure love for science among his native people?
    The reporting these men receive is all consistent with the way liberals think about everything: blame America first, and make excuses for her enemies (e.g., by claiming America made them do it); worship Darwin and love those who love him (11/12/2009), but destroy the reputation of anyone who favors the freedom to hear evidence for creation.  This would be a good time to read Von Braun: In his own words.  See for yourself if his words sound duplicitous or ring true.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsSolar SystemMedia
Science Flipflops   12/09/2009    
Dec 9, 2009 — Science says... on second thought, science says the opposite.  Or, we’re not sure what science says.  The following recent stories show that things you thought science had proven may not be true at all.  What’s next?
  1. Take testosterone for fairness:  The image of the testosterone-crazed, egotistical, reckless, raging road warrior is all wrong.  At least, that’s British and Swiss researchers found with a controlled experiment on 120 subjects that showed people given testosterone pills were more likely to make fair-minded judgments than those with a placebo – unless they knew they took the testosterone.
        The headlines tell all: “Testosterone does not induce aggression, study shows,” from Science Daily and PhysOrg; “Women on testosterone only think they’re macho,” from New Scientist, which added, “Long blamed for aggression, promiscuity and even greed, some of testosterone’s alleged effects may be all in the mind.”  One of the researchers explained the reason for the experiment: “we were interested in the question: what is truth, and what is myth?”
  2. Germs do a body good:  Here’s a headline to raise eyebrows from Live Science: “Germs may be good for you.”  Those raised on the image of nasty germs may be surprised at what science is saying now: “Exposing kids to nasty germs might actually toughen them up to diseases as grown-ups, mounting research suggests.”
  3. Survival of the... what?:  Oh my goodness, what would Charles Darwin say about this headline from Science Daily and PhysOrg: “Social Scientists Build Case for ‘Survival of the Kindest’.”  Was all that talk about Malthus and nature red in tooth and claw for nothing?  “Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are challenging long-held beliefs that human beings are wired to be selfish,” the article begins.  “In a wide range of studies, social scientists are amassing a growing body of evidence to show we are evolving to become more compassionate and collaborative in our quest to survive and thrive.”  If only Hitler and Stalin had known.
        The authors attempted to give Darwin a reprieve by quoting him as the father of compassion theory: “This new science of altruism and the physiological underpinnings of compassion is finally catching up with Darwin’s observations nearly 130 years ago, that sympathy is our strongest instinct.”  There’s a research project for someone: what did Darwin mean, in context, and in the larger context of his view of how evolution operates?
We were going to share the story about the Professor who is receiving messages from space, but that’s just a teaser line on PhysOrg about ground-space communications with the International Space Station.
If scientists cannot be sure about things that are testable right in the lab, how can they possibly be so cocky about things that supposedly happened millions of years ago?  Nice sentiment: “what is truth, and what is myth?”
Next headline on:  HealthDarwin and Evolutionary Theory
Galaxy-Spangled Banner Unfurled   12/08/2009    
Dec 8, 2009 — The Hubble team has unveiled a new deep field image of distant galaxies, the “Hubble Ultra Deep Field Infrared WFC3/IR.”  The image, available at the HubbleSite, was taken with the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) installed during the latest servicing mission.
    It’s been 5 years since the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (03/09/2004; see APOD) and almost 14 years since the initial Hubble Deep Field (1996; see APOD) that awed the world with revelations of the wonders to be found in a tiny patch of blank sky.  The new image, which took 4 days and 173,000 seconds of exposure time to produce, hones in on a portion of the 2004 Ultra field at infrared wavelengths.  The press release explains what is seen:
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has made the deepest image of the universe ever taken in near-infrared light.  The faintest and reddest objects in the image are galaxies that formed 600 million years after the Big BangNo galaxies have been seen before at such early times.  The new deep view also provides insights into how galaxies grew in their formative years early in the universe’s history.
Space.com and PhysOrg posted information on the image, with a video on the latter zooming into the field of view.
    The fact that we can see galaxies so far back presents another problem.  New Scientist reported that “The universe is far more transparent at high energies than we thought.”  Astronomers are perplexed that distant blazars are brighter than they should be if theories of how high-energy photons interact with infrared photons is correct.  It seems to suggest that the infrared background left over from star formation in early galaxies is at the lower limit of expectations.  “The amount of infrared is really right at the minimum you would expect from what we know about star formation and evolution,” says Rene Ong (UCLA).  “It’s becoming a problem.”
We are blessed to live in a privileged time, when high-technology telescopes are bringing sights like this home (compare with this stunning naked-eye view on APOD).  If the heavens declared the glory of God to the shepherd boy David, how much more do they today?
    Notice that the astronomers seemed surprised to see whole galaxies existing just 600 million years after the Big Bang.  It’s another confirmation of the “lumpiness problem” in cosmology, in which structure appears abruptly as far back as we see.  And the amount of infrared light expected from “what we know about star formation and evolution” (where know means thought we knew) is out of sync.  What’s at fault: theory, or observation?  Astronomers tend to get cocky about what they think they know about star formation (example at PhysOrg).  Science should favor observation.
    What about all this talk of billions of years, though?  What do Biblical creationists do about the light-distance and time problem?  First, recognize that it’s a problem for the Big Bang theory as well (see CMI article).  Second, a Biblical solution may be simpler than you think.  Consider one example: an explanation by Dr. Jason Lisle posted by 4th Day Alliance.
Next headline on:  AstronomyCosmologyPhysics
  The December 2004 page contained 3 cosmology articles: living fossil galaxies (12/21/2004), a WMAP alternate explanation (12/06/2004), and a portrait of redshift mavericks (12/06/2004).  There was also an article about how interpretations can be fudged to fit observations of a “late bloomer” galaxy (12/15/2004).

The Evolution of the Future   12/07/2009    
Dec 7, 2009 — Evolution, being an unguided process, would seem the last thing one could predict.  That hasn’t stopped some evolutionists from speculating what an evolutionary future will bring to our planet and our species.  Carl Zimmer, a blogger for a Discover Magazine blog, is one such speculator.  He also wrote the final essay in the Origins series celebrating the Darwin Bicentennial for Science magazine,1 which he entitled Darwinesquely, “On the Origin of Tomorrow.”  He made this article publicly available at CarlZimmer.com.

Darwin recognized that as long as the ingredients for the evolutionary process still exist, life has the potential to change.  He didn’t believe it was possible to forecast evolution’s course, but he did expect humans would have a big effect.  In his day, they had already demonstrated their power with the triumphs of domestication, such as breeding dogs from wolves.  Darwin recognized that we humans can also wipe out entire species.  He knew the dodo’s fate, and in 1874 he signed a petition to save the last surviving Aldabra giant tortoises on the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.
Three questions spring up immediately from this paragraph: (1) What possible forecasts could be made for an unforecastable course?  (2) is it “wrong” for humans to affect the course of evolution, if they are products of evolution themselves? – or, should we feel any pity for outcomes we may find distasteful, and what is pity anyway?  (3) How does human evolutionary influence differ from human designed influence?  In other words, can the possible influences of humans on the future of nature and ourselves be just as validly discussed from a creationary perspective?  What differentiates the Darwinian dialogue about the future from any given non-Darwinian speculation, and makes it better?  If Zimmer preaches any advice to his fellow humans about how they should direct the directionless, what is the moral foundation for it?  Let’s see if Zimmer addresses these questions.
    Zimmer first recognizes that evolution is unpredictable.  The article quotes Yogi Berra, “Prediction is very difficult.  Especially about the future.”  No qualms so far.  Just pack up and go home, then?  Not yet –
Yet evolutionary biologists also feel a new sense of urgency about understanding what lies ahead.  Since Darwin’s day, humans have gained an unprecedented influence over our own evolution.  At the same time, our actions, be it causing climate change, modifying the genomes of other organisms, or introducing invasive species, are creating new sources of natural selection on the flora and fauna around us.  “The decisions we and our children make are going to have much more influence over the shape of evolution in the foreseeable future than physical events,” says Andrew Knoll, a paleontologist at Harvard University.
So far, this is just an observation: humans influence change in plants and animals.  He has not made any value judgments.  He did say that evolutionary biologists feel a new sense of urgency to understand what lies ahead.  But then, can one understand something that is unpredictable?  It would seem foolish to rush to understand what has one characteristic: unpredictability.  That would be like rushing off in all directions.  And is it possible to influence the “shape of evolution” when evolution by nature is shapeless?  If humans were to shape it with intelligent design, would it still be evolution?  We seem lost in conundrums so far.
    “Evolution is unstoppable.”  That’s Lawrence Moran (U of Toronto) speaking.  Zimmer explains, “All it means is that the human genome will continue to change from generation to generation.”  This is equivalent to “Stuff happens.”  It would seem even Zulus and Twitterers know that.  Has evolutionary biology improved on this obvious truism?  Even creationist John Sanford believes the human genome is changing – he thinks it’s degenerating (see Uncommon Descent).
    Zimmer next delves into mutations, natural selection, antibiotic resistance and other cards from the Darwin deck.  “Natural selection has not stopped,” he announced.  Most young-earth creationists would say, “Amen.”  Anyone looking at the palette of skin colors and faces in humans would say, “What else is new?”  We’re all still interfertile people.  Can Zimmer put some science behind his predictions?
Stearns and his colleagues now know which traits are selected in the women of Framingham, but they have yet to determine exactly what advantage each trait confers—a situation that evolutionary biologists often face when documenting natural selection.  Nevertheless, based on the strength of the natural selection they have measured, the scientists predict that after 10 generations, the women of Framingham will give birth, on average, a few months younger than today, have 3.6% lower cholesterol, and will be 1.3% shorter.
Impressive as that may sound, there are already populations of humans with varying ages of puberty, height, and cholesterol.  Yet they are still all interfertile people.  Unless these variations are yielding some new species, Homo novo, it seems Darwin has little to celebrate.  Zimmer hedged his prediction: “Of course, even this prediction is subject to change,” he admitted.  A prediction subject to change is no prediction at all.  If he predicts that “Stuff will happen,” and some other stuff happens, it’s all just stuff.
    Next, Zimmer discussed intelligently-designed evolution: genetic engineering: “eventually scientists will be able to alter the genes of future generations.”  Unfortunately, he said, it has little to do with Darwin: “But even if a child was born with engineered genes in our lifetime, that milestone wouldn’t mean much for the evolution of our species.”  “Those engineered genes would be swamped by the billions of mutations that emerge naturally in the babies born every year.”  The reader is still wondering why this is an essay on Darwin.  That is, unless Darwin can improve on the Stuff Happens Law (SHL), which can be taken as a null hypothesis, this is an essay with no direction, no natural law, no predictability, no understanding, and no counsel; it’s a point, not a vector – a particle wobbling under Brownian motion.
    Ah, but humans are altering the genetics of crops and microbes, he points out.  And we might even create organisms from scratch, like Craig Venter is attempting to do.  Sadly, that doesn’t give Darwin anything to crow about, either.  “If Venter succeeds, his artificial [sic] would be a triumph of human ingenuity, but it would probably be a minor blip on the biosphere’s radar.”  (Note: It can be safely assumed Zimmer was not intending to write an essay on intelligent design.)
    With his prediction score still at zero (i.e., indistinguishable from “stuff will happen,”) one wonders where Zimmer will turn next.  He points out other changes attributable to humans – species altered by fishing, hunting, smokestacks and chainsaws (influences creationists would acknowledge).  He points out the impact of invasive species (nothing distinctively Darwinian about that, either; Malthusian, maybe, but not Darwinian – the origin of species).
    Maybe Stephen Palumbi (Stanford) can help: “In the last century, we were having a big impact, but it wasn’t everywhere,” Palumbi said.  “But global climate change is an ‘everywhere’ impact, and that’s different.”  Yet even if global climate change is accepted as a human impact, what happens is the SHL, not a law of science with any predictive power or moral imperative.
    Zimmer discusses how species are shifting due to global warming.  Palumbi steps in again: “We know that things can evolve quickly, but can they evolve fast enough?”  The perceptive reader asks, “fast enough for what?  For this stuff to happen instead of that stuff?”  Zimmer adds, “Unless we can ease up on the biosphere, they warn that the biggest feature of evolution in the near future will be extinctions.”  Notice that he did not say humans should ease up on the biosphere, but it seems implied.  This hints at some angst in his soul: some desire for species to be preserved – even if they have to evolve into some other species – so that life can continue a little while longer before the sun bloats and fries our planet, and before the universe ultimately chills it out of existence:
A drop in biodiversity may bring with it a collapse of many ecosystems.  Coupled with a rapid increase in global temperatures, ocean acidification, and other changes, we may be pushing the environment into a state we’ve never experienced as a civilization.  Such a stress could put our species under intense natural selection as well.
Stuff happens, for sure.  Stated dispassionately as an observation, this paragraph doesn’t make any value judgments.  Indeed, for Zimmer to be consistent, he must stand behind the one-way mirror, clipboard in hand, taking notes.  And so he does, continuing onward to the inevitable:
One way or another, life will survive this current crisis.  But where is life headed in the very distant future?  To find out, planetary scientist King-Fai Li of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and his colleagues built a model of Earth and the sun and watched it evolve for billions of years.  In their simulation, the sun gets brighter, as it has since it first formed.  The extra energy speeds up the rate at which carbon dioxide is drawn out of Earth’s atmosphere, cooling it off.  But after about 2 billion years, this cooling mechanism breaks down, and Earth heats up, ending up like its lifeless neighbor, Venus.
    But Li’s model does not include a clever species like our own, which can use its brain to influence the planet.  Would it be possible to extend the life span of Earth’s biosphere?  “I am not going to rule out any talented civilizations that will be able to do that,” says Li.
Surprise!  It was an essay on intelligent design after all!
1.  Carl Zimmer, “On the Origin of Tomorrow,” Science, 4 December 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5958, pp. 1334-1336, DOI: 10.1126/science.326.5958.1334.
We hope you enjoyed this funny episode.  Elizabeth Pennisi didn’t get the joke, either.  She wrote for the Science blog “Origins” about what a nifty essay Zimmer wrote to honor Darwin.  He believes in I.D. in spite of himself!  He’s wearing a Darwin costume, fake beard and all, over his intelligently designed body.  His essay goes to show that evolutionists are incapable of living consistently with their theory.  They cannot speak, write, or live treating humans as just another pawn in the evolutionary process.
    Zimmer has proven himself clueless.  Let’s score him on the three questions raised above: (1) Prediction: he gave various versions of “stuff will happen.”  Earth becoming like Venus may have some natural-law punch to it, but that’s only if one assumes materialism and no God with a purpose for mankind – for a Darwinist, a circular argument.   (2) Morals: he avoided making moral judgments.  OK, then, why write this essay at all?  Stuff may happen, we don’t know what, and whatever happens, happens.  This makes the Grand Finale for the Darwin Essay Series?  (3) Distinctions: nothing Zimmer said is happening or might happen distinguishes evolutionary expectations from creationary expectations.  There was nothing worth any Darwin celebration here.  A dirge, maybe, because it is so hopeless, but no cause for exalting Charlie on a pedestal.
    Most of all, the whole essay is futile.  Face it; what is there to say about the future of evolution if you believe in it?  Stuff happens.  What’s the point of rambling about that?  That’s not understanding; it is un-understanding.  It recalls Stephen Weinberg’s brief flash of insight, when he momentarily faced the implications of his world view: “the more the universe becomes comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”
    Zimmer carefully avoided the word should in his essay – as he must.  But between the lines you could see his fingers flipping through the Darwin dictionary looking for that word, and not finding it, fidgeting for another Book he dare not consult.  He held back the quivering voice and tears about all those creatures going extinct because of man’s actions.  And when considering that the earth is destined to become another Venus (the ultimate in global warming without man’s help), and realizing that space travel to a nicer spot would only buy time before the heat death of the universe, he almost sighed.  He thought we were not watching.
Exercise:  Identify the character behind the one-way mirror: animal? vegetable? mineral? something else?
Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionIntelligent DesignPolitics and EthicsDumb Ideas
Microscopy’s Golden Age Is At Hand   12/06/2009    
Dec 6, 2009 — Like test pilots breaking the sound barrier, microscope makers are breaking a light barrier some said was physically impossible: the diffraction limit.  Within the next 5 to 10 years, we may see more and more images of phenomena at the molecular scale – not with electron microscopes, but with light microscopes in real time.  What amazing vistas will come into focus?
    Nature posted a short Technology Feature on microscopy.  The lead article1 describes how the diffraction limit was believed for well over a century to be unbreakable.  Ernst Abbe, a German physicist, had said in 1873 that the wavelength of light posed a fundamental limit on the resolution of optical instruments.  “For many years it was a source of frustration for biologists that the internal components of a cell were practically invisible to them.” wrote Kelly Rae Chi in her article, “Microscopy: Ever-increasing resolution.”2  “Researchers believed that the wavelength of light determined a fundamental limit to the resolution of optical microscopes.”
    Never say “never” to inventors.  Chi described several “diffraction-busting technologies” that are breaking the barrier without killing any test pilots.  We have Hell to pay for breaching the limit: Stefan Hell, that is, a German physicist who first suggested that the diffraction limit could be beaten. 
Hell, while a postdoc at the University of Turku in Finland in the 1990s, thought that, with the right lasers, he could activate a fluorescent spot and then shrink it by superimposing a larger, hollow beam of light to deplete all the light emission except for that at the centre of the spot.  He called the technique stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy.  Although many physicists were initially sceptical of Hell’s ideas, by 2000 he had used STED to produce the first nanoscale fluorescence images.
    Super-resolution microscopy has blossomed since, allowing researchers to see cellular processes unfolding at nanometre scales.  “This is something that the field has desired since people first started looking through light microscopes,” says Jan Liphardt, a biophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.
Other methods include compiling images of billions of fluorescent proteins, photo-activated localization microscopy (PALM), and “stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM), which uses photoswitchable probes to temporally separate the overlapping images of individual molecules and so boost resolution to ten times better than the diffraction limit,” and fluorescence PALM (fPALM), which “involves looking at thousands of fluorophores at once, and localizing on small numbers at a time.”  Then there’s iPALM (interferometry PALM) that creates its images in 3-D.  Another method, 3-D SIM, creates images by bar-coding samples with light patterns and creates images of the underlying structure by analyzing the Moire fringes produced.  Chi writes that “the field is just warming up.”
    In her second article, Chi quoted W. E. Moerner (Stanford) sharing his excitement: “There’s a huge explosion of interest and progress.  That makes it very exciting to watch and to participate in.”  These technologies are just beginning to produce products from leading manufacturers like Carl Zeiss, Leica, and Nikon.  “Super-resolution technology allows researchers to see details that are difficult or impossible to image with conventional light microscopes – at resolutions of 100 nanometres or better.
    What can the public expect to see over the shoulders of these pioneers?  Already these techniques have been used to watch proteins in action.  3D STORM has been used to image microtubules in kidney cells as well as whole cells.  And “Hell’s group, early in 2008, used the STED method to show the movement of synaptic vesicles inside living neurons at video rate.” 
“To people like me who were trained in physics or optics in the 1990s, it’s just unbelievable that one can image below the resolution of light,” says Bernardo Sabatini, a neurobiologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.  “The major revolution for the next 5 or 10 years is getting these advances to answer biological questions.”
The sky’s the limit as these new test pilots are on a roll maneuver.  Using combination strategies, “The pioneers of super-resolution microscopy are continuing to improve their methods with better sample preparation, a few strategically placed pieces of hardware and more sophisticated algorithms.”  And these techniques are now being applied to live imaging of cells.  That was always a drawback of electron microscopes – the samples had to be killed and coated before turning on the electron beam.  Already a SIM test has allowed scientists to “see proteins moving along individual microtubules within living cells...at 100 nm resolution.”  And it’s going to get faster – cameras shooting 1000 frames per second are already available.  Add additional colors to the probes, and real-time 3-D visualization of the molecular machines in living cells is a distinct possibility.
    Chi quoted a biologist who compared this revolution to another optical triumph: “We’re starting to get pictures out of the mouse brain that rival anything from the Hubble Space Telescope, and we’re just getting started,” Stephen Smith (Stanford) said.  Chi ended,
The promise of super-resolution microscopy – thought for so long to be little more than a dream – is starting to become a reality.  Researchers have taken different approaches and are using tools and techniques borrowed from physics, chemistry and computing technology to bring the nanoscopic world to our macroscopic eyes.  Although commercialization is progressing, there is still plenty of room for the do-it-yourself biologist to modify and improve their systems, and produce images of stunning complexity that will rival anything else in science.
Leeuwenhoek’s best microscope had a top resolution of 1.4 microns (micrometers).3  These new instruments are exceeding 100 nanometers – 100 times more detail.  Some of the systems are already succeeding in getting images down in the 10-20 nm range.  A bacterial flagellum motor is about 60nm in diameter and its tail is 500nm long.  ATP synthase is about 10x20 nm.  Till now, micro-imaging techniques have seen these structures “through a glass, darkly.”4  The super-resolution microscope revolution is approaching the frontier of bringing these molecular machines into clear focus.
1.  Technology Feature, “Microscopy: Breaking the light barrier,” Nature 462, 676 (3 December 2009) | doi:10.1038/462676a.
2.  Kelly Rae Chi, “Microscopy: Ever-increasing resolution,” Nature 462, 675-678 (3 December 2009) | doi:10.1038/462675a.
3.  See our biography of Leeuwenhoek in full at this site.  It was published in Christian History & Biography (Issue 76, 2002).
4.  I Corinthians 13:12, King James Version.
Wow; this is a wonderful application of scientific knowledge producing more scientific knowledge – not the Darwinian storytelling kind, mind you, but real observational knowledge.  You know, this could do to the Darwin Party what high-resolution ultrasound is doing to the abortion industry – showing real-time evidence that challenges its assumptions.  Abortionists have long treated the human fetus as a lump of tissue.  3-D live ultrasound is showing more and more moms and dads that there is a real, live baby there in the womb – a human being with emotions, feelings and a personality all its own.  A picture is worth a thousand claims by Planned Parenthood that abortion is just a “medical procedure” for “women’s health”.  World Magazine echoed this idea in its article on “Daniel of the Year” Stephen Meyer: “As ultrasound machines have undercut abortion, so information revolutions have led more scientists to embrace ID” (intelligent design).
    Terrific animations of cellular machines exist (as in Unlocking the Mystery of Life and the movie Expelled), but they tend to be highly stylized models.  The impact of the real thing could be as great as a Hubble image compared to a painting.  So what will the Darwinists do when real-time, 3-D images of actual cellular machines hit the big screen?  Oh, they will continue to claim this is all the product of chance mutation and natural selection.  Facts have never gotten in the way of their ideology.  But people will trust their eyes, not the Darwinian spin doctors.  The Darwin Party hacks will have to face reality, or will be cast in the role of the academics who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope.  Bring it on.
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Dec 5, 2009 – Have you stopped being a non-subscriber to World Magazine yet?  It’s time to repent.  World Magazine is the best-written, most well-rounded, informative, dependable Christian magazine around.  Each issue is packed with national and international news, great political cartoons, human interest stories, movie reviews and music reviews, thoughtful editorials, interviews, inspirational stories, and much more.  A brainchild of compassionate conservatism leader Marvin Olasky, World has cut a big swath.  Its team of reporters and commentators is top notch.
    What’s a news magazine got to do with creation and evolution resources?  Glad you asked.  World Magazine gets it.  The editors do not compromise with Darwin, but support a consistently Christian world view in all things, including science and creation.  Stephen Meyer was just awarded Daniel of the Year in the current issue (12/19/2009; see also Evolution News and Views), as was Phillip Johnson a few years ago.  That says what you need to know.  Subscribe today.
Next resource of the week:  11/28/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

How One Bright Young Scientist Challenged the Junk-DNA Paradigm   12/05/2009    
Dec 5, 2009 — A young snowboarder turned to science and turned the consensus on its head.  PhysOrg, in “Turning trash to treasure,” told the story of John Rinn (Harvard Medical School), who challenged the paradigm of “junk DNA” and discovered a new class of functional molecules: lincRNAs (large intervening non-coding RNA).  He found important functional molecules “in a part of the genome that science had previously thought to be filled with nonfunctional genetic junk.
    A snowboarding accident 13 years ago prompted Rinn to give up the sport.  Pondering his next path, he chose science.  He quickly excelled and is now among the top bright young biochemists (03/12/2009).  Coming at the junk-DNA paradigm with a youthful freshness and enthusiasm, he made his discovery that was at first “met with scientific skepticism.”  Now, many classes of functional RNAs are well known (e.g., 01/27/2009), and the junk-in-the-genome notion is steadily going out of fashion (05/18/2009).
    “Perhaps it was his anti-establishment youth that led Rinn to push on when some critics told him that his early lab results recorded just noise in the genome,” the article ends.  “Rinn admits to having something of a chip on his shoulder, to always feeling like he has to prove himself.  “‘A lot of people thought it was an artifact,’ Rinn said.  ‘We figured we’d give it a chance, give it a fair trial.’”

This goes to show that design-theoretic approaches in science have nothing to do with religious motivation.  Rinn has probably not challenged the Darwin paradigm; we don’t know, but it would be unlikely he could succeed in today’s academia without pledging allegiance to Father Charlie.  That’s beside the point.  Something in John Rinn did not accept the conclusion that the genome is full of junk.  He may have reasoned that if something is there, there must be a reason for it.  No theology was involved.  He merely applied himself to figuring out what the so-called junk was doing.  Challenging the assumption of his mentors led to a major discovery.  Do you hear that, Eugenie Scott, Michael Shermer and all the rest of you Darwin dobermans?
    Maybe you picture scientists as the anti-establishment free-thinkers.  Not any more.  These days the establishment is the Darwin Party.  How often does the Darwin-drunk storytelling establishment get it wrong?  Let CMI count the ways.  Calling all young snowboarders and surfers: the real anti-establishment revolution is on!  It’s called intelligent design science.  Join the rebellion!  Or at least give it a fair trial.
Next headline on:  GeneticsIntelligent Design
  Reasons to thank God for that hamburger: consider what your body does with it.  The 12/20/2003 article about protein quality control is mind-boggling.

Evolutionary Explanations Assume Evolution Explains   12/04/2009    
Dec 4, 2009 — The facility with which some evolutionary biologists appeal to almost magical powers of evolution to explain anything and everything is revealed in some recent science articles.  Whatever needs explaining is due to evolution – evidence or not.  These four examples can be considered representative of the genre.

  1. The evolution of shopping:  Both PhysOrg and Science Daily reported that shopping strategies of men and women show “evolution at work in the mall.”  After describing that men are better at orienteering but women at fine distinctions, the University of Michigan’s press release explained, “From an evolutionary perspective, it all harkens back to the skills that women used for gathering plant foods and the skills that men used for hunting meat.  The contrast emerges because of the different foraging strategies for hunting and gathering used throughout human evolution.”  No mention of which gene was mutated at what time, or why chimpanzees don’t shop like humans do.  Oblivious to those explanatory details, both news sources announced, “Male and female shopping styles are in our genes – and we can look to evolution for the reason.
  2. The secret of long ape lifePhysOrg and Science Daily again offered “the” scientific explanation for why we outlive chimpanzees: evolution.  “The difference, explains USC Davis School of Gerontology Professor Caleb Finch, is that as humans evolved genes that enabled them to better adjust to levels of infection and inflammation and to the high cholesterol levels of their meat rich diets” [sic; the sentence fragment is in both articles].  Evolution was stated in active verbs: “humans evolved” this or that.
  3. On the origin of human-caused species:  Don’t feed the birds if you don’t want to change their evolution.  New Scientist joined Science Daily and PhysOrg in warning us we may be altering our feathered friends’ evolution by feeding them.  “Our study documents the profound impact of human activities on the evolutionary trajectories of species,” said Martin Schaefer of the University of Freiburg.  “It shows that we are influencing the fate not only of rare and endangered species, but also of the common ones that surround our daily lives.”
        Strangely, the articles did not say whether this is a good thing or not.  The tone of alarm suggests we humans are to blame for it.  But if humans are part of the evolutionary saga, as assumed above, why would this be of any concern at all?  Maybe Schaefer is being dispassionate about it.  One thing did make him excited, though: “This is a nice example of the speed of evolution,” he added.  “It is something that we can see with our own eyes if we only look closely enough.  It doesn’t have to take millions of years.
        The birds being studied, though, are both blackcaps, with all the same organs and capabilities.  Any classification of them as separate species will depend on one’s definition of species.  It is evident no new genetic information was produced by an evolutionary process.
  4. Abominable mystery, chapter 150:  Every once in awhile, science reporters like to give a progress report on Darwin’s “abominable mystery,” the origin of flowering plants (angiosperms).  Science Daily and PhysOrg continued the tradition, announcing triumphantly, “Today a study in Ecology Letters reveals the evolutionary trigger which led to early flowering plants gaining a major competitive advantage over rival species, leading to their subsequent boom and abundance.”  A careful look for the trigger, however, only turned up a model.  The model shows that increasing the density of leaf veins would have increased the efficiency of hydraulics, and presumably, allowed more photosynthesis.  “Their results revealed that an evolutionary transformation in the plumbing of angiosperm leaves pushed photosynthetic capacity to new heights,” the article claimed ecstatically.
        But why didn’t that just make gymnosperms survive better?  Where did the distinctive seeds, flowers and leaves of angiosperms come from?  The assumption is that once a gymnosperm got a lucky mutation to increase vein density, evolution would take care of all the rest.  Meanwhile, gymnosperms seem to be doing just fine, growing taller than any angiosperm despite (by insinuation) having inferior hydraulics, outliving their better-veined descendants by thousands of years (sequoias, bristlecones), even surviving blizzard conditions at timberline that would quickly destroy garden tomato plants.
The fact that no alternative explanations were presented for any of these phenomena gives the impression that the evolutionary explanation is the only scientific one. 
The only abominable mystery here is why people are still gullible to accept this explanatory drivel from the Darwinists.  This is what happens when storytelling is baptized into science, and alternative paradigms are outlawed.  It’s time to clean house.
    The Climategate scandal is fascinating to witness just for its lessons about the history of science.  Here was another reigning consensus, protected from criticism, its skeptics ridiculed and marginalized for years.  Now, as some embarrassing facts have emerged from its protected enclave (little things like destroying evidence, altering computer code, keeping critics from being heard), spin doctors are madly at work to protect the consensus – the broadcast media by ignoring the scandal, the journals by attacking critics as morons and saying the “unfortunate incident” does nothing to change the fact of human-caused global warming.  Nature was dripping with indignation in its Editorial this week.  It called the skeptics “denialists” and angrily called them members of a fringe who will not change the “fact” of human-caused global warming (even though they said the human-caused part only exists in models, which, by definition, can be tweaked to produce desired outcomes).  On Saturday, the BBC News said the UN (the same UN that institutionalized one of the biggest scandals in history; see 05/12/2008 commentary) is defending the scandalized science, and UK Prime Minister is calling skeptics flat earthers.  Most of the Big-Science-Big-Government conglomerates are pushing even harder for their planned political decisions at Copenhagen as if the scandal is a mere kerfuffle that will soon blow over and can be safely ignored.
    Almost all the criticisms – and they are loud and widespread – are coming from outside the establishment.  The Climategate story is unfolding as we write.  Whatever happens is sure to be instructive.  This could be the biggest scientific scandal of a lifetime (outside of Darwinism), and the biggest contest between the public and Big Science in decades.  If you see how this all works, you understand how the Darwin consensus maintains its grip on institutional science and the media – and what will be required to dislodge it.  Remember how the Darwinists acted when their career-destroying antics were exposed in the movie Expelled?  Not only did they show no shame, they blamed the whistleblowers!  They continued expelling with even more intensity.  The truthless are the ruthless.
    Nothing will change unless citizens rise up and demand it.  The crooks are like deadbeat defendants who lost in court but refuse to pay damages, requiring the plaintiff to work overtime trying to collect – only much worse.  The perpetrators are going off to Copenhagen to try to make decisions that will negatively affect the livelihoods of billions of people on the basis that man-caused global warming is science – when the perpetrators should have resigned in shame already and the paradigm should have collapsed by now.  Can you believe it?  A myth resulting in the imposition of world government and the loss of your freedoms?  It sounds unthinkable, but it is a very real possibility.  At the very least, leaders should halt the summit and call for an extensive independent review of the situation in the wake of the Climategate revelations.
    Don’t think for a minute this is about science.  It’s about power, and who has the right to “manufacture” knowledge – to produce the world view that determines how we will live our lives, who will be Keeper of the Myths of the culture, and who is allowed to hold the reins.
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Photo Op
Watch this realistic experiment with mutations and environmental selection: go to TodayandTomorrow.net

Taking Inspiration from Nature   12/03/2009    
Dec 3, 2009 — In the previous entry, Darwin inspired some geologists, even though he was wrong.  Here are some news stories showing nature inspiring engineers with wonders right under their noses.

  1. Aerodynamic seed:  A plant in Java has seeds that are perfect gliders.  The BBC News said of the Alsomitra vine: “The seeds, which are produced by a football-sized pod, can glide hundreds of metres across the forest.”  The seeds, among the largest for any winged seed, weigh 300 grams but are supported by wings just 1mm thick.  “The aerodynamics of the giant Alsomitra seeds were studied by two Japanese engineers, Akira Azuma and Yoshinori Okuno more than 20 years ago,” the report said.  “They found that design of the seed is so good that it achieves a descent angle of just 12 degrees, a property that has led to the seed’s shape inspiring the design of aircraft.”  The article includes a video of the seeds emerging from their pod and flying like a squadron of gliders around the forest.
  2. Digging clam:  Inspired by how clams dig into the sand, MIT engineers built “RoboClam,” a device that imitates its living counterpart.  Live Science reported that the device could be used to detonate underwater mines.  The razor clam “can burrow into the bottom of its native mudflats at a remarkable rate of roughly a centimeter per second” because “The clam digs with two motions – a push upwards with its foot, which mixes the mud grains with the liquid above, and a synchronized push down.  This motion creates a liquid-like quicksand layer around its body, reducing the drag from burrowing and dramatically reducing the overall energy used.”  So “Inspired by this principle,” the engineers built RoboClam.  It works.  It’s small, lightweight, and uses low energy.  “The thing that surprised me most is how robust the digging mechanism is,” one team member said.  Devices using this principle might also help underwater installations, like cables, secure themselves once hitting bottom, and easily detach themselves when the equipment needs to be recovered.
  3. Solar lotus:  The “lotus effect” (reported earlier, see 09/23/2009) might improve the efficiency of solar cells by as much as 25%, New Scientist reported.  More light could get into the detectors by installing miniature domes at the nano scale, scientists at Stanford are finding.  This reduces stray reflections and ensures more photons reach the detector.  Another benefit will be the ability to repel water and dirt, just like on the lotus leaf.  “Water droplets landing on the leaf cannot achieve a contact angle that breaks their surface tension, so they form beads on the leaves rather than wetting them,” the article said.  In the same way water drops will roll off the surface of the nanodome solar panel taking any light-blocking dust with them.”  A related story was reported by PhysOrg about researchers using peptides to produce a water-repellant surface.  Your future may include self-cleaning windows.
These and many other promising technologies are emerging from biomimetics – the imitation of biology.  Sometimes the technologies are not seen beforehand.  Scientists in Germany, for instance, are studying how diatoms build their glass shells.  PhysOrg reported that they discovered the single-celled organisms use a network of chitin as a scaffolding.  No human application was mentioned, but one can envision nanoengineering taking advantage of a similar principle to build durable materials at the molecular scale just like the diatom does so well.
Update 12/04/2009: “Stealing from nature” is the theme of a lengthy article on biomimetics on PhysOrg, “Nature’s fine designs: Scientists find modern lessons in ancient creations.”  Aside from frequent personification of nature and unnecessary references to billions of years, the article contains some stunning information about natural biotechnology.  Example: “From a substrate of single crystals, the brittle star can grow lenslike spherical arrays that are on the micron-scale, pass light without distortion, focus light exceptionally, and as a bonus are terrifically strong mechanically.  (Because of the brittle star, we now have bio-inspired arrays of tunable micro-lenses.)”  For more on brittle star lenses, see 08/23/2001.
Won’t you be glad when the Year of Darwin is over and we can focus once again on the good stuff that is inspiring and useful.
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Your objective, rational, open-minded scientists at work
“Given the overwhelming scientific evidence for climate change, we should deal less and less with climate sceptics.  Otherwise we should also deal with folks who think Elvis Presley is still alive, that Earth is less than 6,000 years old and that we cannot possibly have descended from monkeys.” –Eric Rignot, UC Irvine, responding to the Climategate scandal (see 11/26/2009).  Sound familiar?  See ridicule and association in the Baloney Detector.  The IPCC Director said, “I doubt that negotiations in Copenhagen will be influenced by this unfortunate incident.”  Source: Nature 12/03/2009, whose editors deplored how the “climate-change-denialist fringe” is harping on the scandal.  For a more thoughtful response, see this BBC Viewpoint.  One Wall Street Journal commentator says this incident shows science is on a credibility bubble; “If it pops, centuries of what we understand to be the role of science go with it.”  Keep up on the reactions outside the ivory tower at ClimateDepot.

Darwin Was Wrong About Geology   12/02/2009    
Dec 2, 2009 — Field geologists have revisited a site Darwin visited on the voyage of the Beagle, and found that he incorrectly interpreted what he found.  A large field of erratic boulders in Tierra del Fuego that have become known as “Darwin’s Boulders” were deposited by a completely different process than he thought.  The modern team, publishing in the Geological Society of America’s December issue of the GSA Today,1 noted that “Darwin’s thinking was profoundly influenced by Lyell’s obsession with large-scale, slow, vertical movements of the crust, especially as manifested in his theory of submergence and ice rafting to explain drift.”  Lyell, in turn, felt vindicated: “Lyell celebrated these observations because they supported his idea of uniformitarianism—that continued small changes, as witnessed in the field, could account for dramatic changes of Earth’s surface over geologic time.”  In this case, though, a more rapid phenomenon provides a better explanation for the observations.
    The observations consist of large granite boulders, up to 16m in diameter, scattered on the whole eastern coast of Tierra del Fuego.  Here’s Darwin’s story: as the land rose slowly over millions of years, icebergs carrying boulders from far away became stranded in the shallow water.  When they melted, the boulders were left behind.  The new story is much different: avalanches up in the Andes dropped the boulders onto glaciers, which ferried them many miles toward the coast.  When the glaciers melted, the boulders remained.  Notice the differences.  Darwin had the rocks underwater (subaqueous) and embedded in ice; the new account has them on top of the ice, exposed to the air (subaerial).  Avalanches occur suddenly, but Darwin envisioned land rising and subsiding slowly and gradually.  Rafted rocks in icebergs would come from some unknown distance; but now, the source of these boulders can be traced back to the Andes, a far “distance from any then-known glaciated region” in his thinking.  Today, geologists appreciate the potential of massive avalanches and long-distance glaciation.  Based on cosmogenic nuclide dating methods, the authors estimated the boulder deposits to be in the 22-74 thousand year range – not millions of years old.  Even so, they had their own problems: “our Bahía San Sebastian dates reveal anomalously young ages (74.4 to 38.1 k.y.) for moraines previously interpreted to be ~1 m.y., thus requiring significant reworking.
    By saying Darwin got it wrong, the team certainly meant no disrespect toward the old naturalist.  In all fairness, Darwin lacked the detailed maps of the Andes first made in 1932 and substantially improved 60 years later and beyond.  Glacial theory was new in Darwin’s day.  There were no ways to estimate the dates of the rocks and the deposits.  The authors ended with a compliment to the old man for his good intentions: “‘Darwin’s Boulders’ are not ice-rafted blocks, but rather glacially transported detritus of alpine avalanches; yet, his accounts of them beckoned us to reexamine the deposits, thus reinforcing his intent to explain landscapes within the constraints of physical evidence.”  In another place they found space to praise Darwin despite his error:

Here we report another example of Darwin’s predilection for interpreting landscape anomalies with inductive reasoning.  One-hundred-seventy years later, we share his fascination with the gigantic granitic boulders on the Atlantic coast of Tierra del Fuego.  Under Lyell’s influence, Darwin invoked the submergence–ice-rafting hypothesis to explain them, which was further supported by reports of icebergs transporting boulders.  His ice-rafting hypothesis is herein superseded by one involving supraglacial transport of rock avalanche debris from one coast of Tierra del Fuego to the other, where they were abandoned upon a coastal till plain.  Nevertheless, Darwin’s request to delay the voyage of the HMS Beagle in order to document the unusual boulders has led to a clearer understanding of Cordillera Darwin glaciodynamics and should serve to encourage geologists to explore unexpected encounters that fall beyond the defined tasks at hand.
Modern readers may be surprised to learn that Darwin was first a geologist, thought of himself as a geologist, concentrated on geology on the voyage of the Beagle, and portrayed himself as a geologist for many years afterward.  “Influenced by Adam Sedgwick and Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology (v. 1, 1830), Charles Darwin became established as a geologist as a result of his voyage on the HMS Beagle,” they said.  Over his career he published 20 geological articles.  Incidentally, he was awarded the Wollaston Medal, the highest honor of the Geological Society of London, in 1859 – the same year as the publication of the Origin of Species.  The authors noted that his push to publish his geological work delayed the publication of the Origin for years.
    The authors also noted the influences on Darwin’s geological thinking.  Four times they said Darwin was “influenced by Lyell” – in one statement, they said he was “profoundly influenced by Lyell’s obsession with large-scale, slow, vertical movements....”  Yet they had to conclude that “Darwin incorrectly interpreted” Darwin’s Boulders.
    Another Darwin geological interpretation has been debunked – this time by a creationist geologist, Dr. Steve Austin.  In his Darwin birthday present video that has been watched over 13,000 times on YouTube, Austin described another case where a catastrophic process produced an effect Darwin (influenced by Lyell) thought took millions of years – the production of the vast canyon of the Rio Santa Cruz in Argentina (02/12/2009).  This and other mistaken geological interpretations by Darwin are shown in the film The Voyage that Shook the World (Resource of the Week for 09/19/2009).
1.  Evenson et al, “Enigmatic boulder trains, supraglacial rock avalanches, and the origin of ‘Darwin’s boulders,’ Tierra del Fuego,” GSA Today, 19:12 (December, 2009), pp. 4-10.
So, Darwin was influenced by Lyell and got it wrong, but these guys were influenced by Darwin and got it right.  Bad examples can provide inspiration, presumably.  Notice that the authors did not have anything particularly nice to say about Lyell and uniformitarianism.  They were only mentioned once in the paper as “his idea of uniformitarianism—that continued small changes, as witnessed in the field, could account for dramatic changes of Earth’s surface over geologic time.”  There was nothing uniformitarian in their re-interpretation.  Avalanches occur in minutes.  Glaciers can transport rocks for miles in years, centuries or millennia.  It doesn’t take reckless drafts on the bank of time (07/02/2007) to explain them.  Before expecting us to accept their dates for the rocks at face value, let them explain their own anomalies.
    The GSA would never have published this paper if it made Darwin look bad.  So the authors in effect said Darwin may have gotten his observations wrong, his facts wrong, his influences wrong and his conclusion wrong, but his intentions were pure inspiration.  That intent was: “to explain landscapes within the constraints of physical evidence.”  A very unfair insinuation is being made here.  Darwin is, of course, mostly known these days for his biological theory of evolution.  The GSA is dead-set against creationism and intelligent design.  It actively campaigns to keep critics of Darwin from being heard (10/17/2005).  The insinuation is that only followers of Darwin seek to explain landscapes within the constraints of physical evidence.  By implication, non-Darwinians must be invoking miracles left and right.  Anyone who believes that doesn’t know science history.  Nicholas Steno, the father of stratigraphy, was a creationist.  Many early geologists had a Biblical framework.  Even as Lyell was working surreptitiously to get geology divorced from Christianity (07/18/2009), most scientists in Darwin’s day maintained a profound reverence for the Bible (like Sedgwick) and were shocked by the agenda of the new secularists.  Sedgwick wrote a scathing review of the Origin, for instance, in which he castigated Darwin for abandoning the very thing these modern geologists praised him for – inductive reasoning (01/04/2009 commentary).
    In addition, anyone who thinks Darwin skeptics explain natural phenomena without regard to the constraints of physical evidence hasn’t kept up with the creationist technical journals.  The Creation Research Society and the Institute for Creation Research have been publishing geological articles for decades.  Go ahead and count the miracles you find (cf. this ICR article).  Creation scientific papers, mostly by PhD geologists with extensive field experience, seek, as well, to explain landscapes within the constraints of physical evidence – just not filtered by the Lyellian uniformitarian world view – and they often do a superior job without the slow-and-gradual blinders on (cf. the GSA’s abysmal record on explaining the Grand Canyon, 11/30/2007).  Even the creation papers that describe a universal flood do so within the constraints of the geological processes involved.  CMI’s Journal of Creation has also printed geology papers for 25 years.  Answers in Genesis recently started up a technical journal, too.  If it weren’t for the Darwin Party’s totalitarian regime and thought police in control, these alternative publications would be enjoying hearty disputations among geologists.  Lyell was wrong; Darwin was wrong; nobody is free of the bias of their world view; so let’s let the modern Stenos have a chance back at the table.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating MethodsDarwin
  What you probably didn’t hear the Darwin Propaganda Bandwagon reveal about gene duplication and evolution: 12/16/2002.

What’s Natural for Humans?   12/01/2009    
Dec 1, 2009 — Should humans do what comes naturally?  What comes naturally?  And what do we mean by natural?
    Nicholas Wade in the New York Times said, “We May Be Born With an Urge to Help.”  He began with the same question: “What is the essence of human nature?”  Then he discussed evidence that infants have an inborn tendency to help.  Who sees this?  biologists.  After dismissing the views of theologians, Thomas Hobbes and parents, he announced, “But biologists are beginning to form a generally sunnier view of humankind.  Their conclusions are derived in part from testing very young children, and partly from comparing human children with those of chimpanzees, hoping that the differences will point to what is distinctively human.”  We know he is talking ape ancestry because the picture caption says, “The evolutionary roots of altruism are complex,” and the experiments compared young children with chimpanzees.  He also quoted Hilard Kaplan (U of New Mexico) giving a kin-selection opinion of evolution: “Modern humans have lived for most of their existence as hunter gatherers, so much of human nature has presumably been shaped for survival in such conditions.”  A more radical view expressed is the opinion of primatologist Frans de Waal.  He believes “it is in our biological nature, not our political institutions, that we should put our trust.”  Do what comes naturally.  Others quoted say, “Humans clearly evolved the ability to detect inequities, control immediate desires, foresee the virtues of norm following and gain the personal, emotional rewards that come from seeing another punished.”  But did they also evolve the ability to weave stories about what we evolved to do?  In the end, Wade decided to tell us what he thinks we are by nature: “We are selfish by nature, yet also follow rules requiring us to be nice to others.”
    A similar subject was raised by PhysOrg: “Empathy distinguishes modern humans from their primate ancestors.”  This is the opinion of Sarah Hrdy, a staunch evolutionist: “The line leading to the genus Homo split maybe 7 million years ago from other apes, and this helps explain why 99 percent of the DNA overlaps,” she said, repeating a common misconception (see 06/29/2007).  After this emphasis on our similarity with apes, Hrdy pointed to the “deciding factor” that describes human nature compared to chimpanzee nature: empathy.  “Understanding what someone else might be thinking or just being interested in attributing a mental state to someone else is something humans do naturally, right from an early age.”  In other words, “our aptitude for imagining the emotions of other individuals is a powerful indicator of our humanity.”  Where that came from, she speculated, was in the shared care of infants.  The article ended with a pun: “So the nursery was the cradle of our humanity.”  Hrdy did not explain why this did not arise in all the other primate groups if it is such a good thing – nor if it was caused by a genetic mutation and natural selection.
    We may be kind by nature, but self-control has to be forced upon us.  PhysOrg reported the views of psychologists at University of Pennsylvania.  “Psychologists suggest parents should wait to teach toddlers self-control,” the article announced.  They suggest it may be harmful to the developing brain for an infant to hear too soon the parental “No.”  “Toddlers are mastering all sorts of social conventions that simply must be learned.  They’re the rules of the world.  In this sense, trying to hasten the brain’s development may be not only difficult by [sic] unwise,” the article said.  Questions about preventing the hand from touching the hot stove or running out into the street come to mind.
    Painful memories may be evoked by the words to the junior-age version of the birthday song, Happy Birthday to you; you live in a zoo.  You look like a monkey, and you smell like one, too.  Now look at this article in KOMO News.  A zoo in Warsaw has put people on display as cavemen in a cage previously used for monkeys.  This may not be as morally objectionable as the racist act of putting Ota Benga in a zoo (see CMI), since these cavemen are volunteers, but it raises questions about human nature.  Presumably the zookeepers want to make a statement about human kinship with other primates.  If so, how far should the display go to be realistic?  Other primates don’t wear clothes.  They engage in sexual activity and elimination in the open.  Those are natural functions, aren’t they?  The cavemen in the photo look hostile.  They seem unnaturally angry at being imprisoned behind bars.  Maybe it is natural for them to have liberty and justice for all.  Should they pray, play music, and talk to the visitors?  Should they engage in philosophy and science, or would that be unnatural – maybe even “super”-natural?  Which side of the cage is the natural side?

Whenever a person has two natures, there are going to be difficulties in philosophy, theology and science understanding how they come together.  Humans have an animal nature and a spiritual nature.  Theologians wrestle with how to integrate our understanding of the divine and human natures in Jesus Christ.
    Evolutionists think they can solve it by erasing the spiritual nature and rendering humans as purely “natural.”  That is no solution at all.  It creates more problems than it solves.  For one thing, “natural” is a very slippery word.  It has multiple meanings depending on the context.  Usually, being materialists, they want to explain everything within the domain of “natural law” (whatever that means; it’s a trickier problem than you think), so as to give a “natural” explanation instead of a supernatural explanation.  So they wind up trying to explain all our behaviors in terms of deterministic influences and genetic predispositions from some mythical “prehistory” (a one-word oxymoron).
    The natural/supernatural distinction cannot be maintained under scrutiny.  Are they saying that scientific reasoning is within the domain of natural law as well?  Then on what basis should we trust such reasoning?  Usually, they commit the Yoda Fallacy of stepping outside their skin and looking down on humans from some exalted plane that has access to truth, justice and honesty.  If those things were emergent properties of molecules, there would be no way to independently validate them.
    In a debate Nov 30, skeptic Michael Shermer was asked about that and shrugged it off.  He appealed to pragmatism: we use reason because it works.  This is a prime example of begging the questionHow does he know it works?  If all his metrics are emergent properties of molecules, he is back to the same conundrum.  His listeners certainly have no basis to trust his appeals to reason.  Within the materialistic box, epistemology itself must emerge.  To what trustworthy, unchanging, reliable standard can his reasoning refer?  His answer merely states his faith in the validity of reason while plagiarizing the presuppositions of Christianity.
    The end result of evolutionary reasoning, inconsistent as it is, is to put man in the zoo.  It may be funny for awhile, but sooner or later, if people act like animals, society will reduce to a Hobbesian war of all against all, till someone cries out, “Thou shalt not....!”  Game over.
    A personal, holy Creator is the only standard by which our actions can be measured with coherence and consistency.  We may not be able to sort out all the conundrums, but we can have hope in the existence of a resolution beyond our limited understanding of it that does not short-circuit itself at the outset.  Since God has a divine nature by definition, it’s perfectly natural to start with Him.
Next headline on:  Early ManHuman BodyPolitics and EthicsPhilosophy and Theology
Notable Notes and Quotable Quotes
Former school teacher and school inspector Alastair Noble argued that “Intelligent design should not excluded from the study of origins” in The Guardian (UK) Dec. 1: “If you insist that intelligent causation is to be excluded in the study of origins then you are teaching materialist philosophy, not science.”

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“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 December

Nicolas of Oresme
1320 - 1382

Nicholas of Oresme (or Nicole Oresme) is a little-appreciated precursor of the scientific revolution.  A medieval scholar at the University of Paris, he strongly opposed astrology and superstition, took issue with Aristotle on key points, and argued for mathematical and observational proof.  Called one of the most original thinkers of the middle ages, he developed methods later borrowed and developed by Descartes, Galileo and others.

Dan Graves said, “Modern science did not spring full blown from the minds of Zeuslike creators; it was God-fearing scientists, such as Oresme who set the table for them.”  The Nicole Oresme website states that “In medieval thought, everything was anticipated,” then lists numerous “modern” ideas, from information theory to music to psychology, that have roots in medieval scholarship.  The site also calls Oresme the “Einstein of the 14th century” and describes his findings as “spectacular” that would appear “incredible” to the layman – presumably those laymen envisioning medieval scholars debating the number of angels that could stand on the head of a pin or how far one would have to travel to fall of the edge of the flat earth.

In his excellent article on Oresme (to which we direct the reader for further information), Dan Graves lists some of the original ideas that were to bear fruit in the scientific revolution:
• The universe resembles a clock wound up by God.
• All matter, even from other planets, is similar.
• An object falling inside the earth would oscillate around the center.
• The speed of a falling body is proportional to time, not to distance.
• Astrology is scientifically flawed.
• A sun-centered system would be simpler than an earth-centered one.
• Algebraic and geometric ideas can be graphed.

Oresme held to some ideas now considered absurd by today’s standards, but for someone in the 14th century, these ideas are remarkable.  Graves says that Galileo borrowed Oresme without attribution, and that Descartes may have gotten some of his ideas for analytic geometry from Oresme.

Could such original, practical, scientific, knowledge-based thinking spring from the mind of a creationist?  Oresme did not question the truth of the Scriptures.  He had more of a humility and distrust of human knowledge more than many secular scientists today.  Dan Graves ends by saying, except for the knowledge of faith, Oresme said, “I indeed know nothing except that I know nothing.”


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.
Corollaries:
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.
Corollaries:
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.
Corollary
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).

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(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)

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(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)

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(a family physician in Texas)

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(an amateur astronomer in San Diego)

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(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)

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(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)

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(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.”
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(an engineer and computer consultant in Virginia)

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(a biology student in Slovenia)

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(a biology teacher in the eastern USA)

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    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)

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(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.”
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(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.”
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(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.”
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(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 crev.info.”
(a publisher of creation and ID materials)

“I was grateful for creationsafaris.com for help with baloney detecting.  I had read about the fish-o-pod and wanted to see what you thought.  Your comments were helpful and encouraged me that my own ‘baloney detecting’ skill are improving.  I also enjoyed reading your reaction to the article on evolution teachers doing battle with students.... I will ask my girls to read your comments on the proper way to question their teachers.”
(a home-schooling mom)

“I just want to express how dissapointed [sic] I am in your website.  Instead of being objective, the website is entirely one sided, favoring creationism over evolution, as if the two are contradictory.... Did man and simien [sic] evovlve [sic] at random from a common ancestor?  Or did God guide this evolution?  I 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 crev.info.”
(a database programmer in California)

“Just wanted to say that I am thrilled to have found your website!  Although I regularly visit numerous creation/evolution sites, 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 [crev.info] up as my homepage.  That way I am less likely to miss some really interesting events.... I really appreciate what you are doing with Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I tell everybody I think might be interested, to check it out.”
(a systems analyst in Tennessee)

“I would like to thank you for your service from which I stand to benefit a lot.”
(a Swiss astrophysicist)

“I enjoy very much reading your materials.”
(a law professor in Portugal)

“Thanks for your time and thanks for all the work on the site.  It has been a valuable resource for me.”
(a medical student in Kansas)

“Creation-Evolution Headlines is a terrific resource.  The articles are always current and the commentary is right on the mark.”
(a molecular biologist in Illinois)

Creation-Evolution Headlines is my favorite ‘anti-evolution’ website.  With almost giddy anticipation, I check it several times a week for the latest postings.  May God bless you and empower you to keep up this FANTASTIC work!”
(a financial analyst in New York)

“I read your pages on a daily basis and I would like to let you know that your hard work has been a great help in increasing my knowledge and growing in my faith.  Besides the huge variety of scientific disciplines covered, I also enormously enjoy your great sense of humor and your creativity in wording your thoughts, which make reading your website even more enjoyable.”
(a software developer in Illinois)

“THANK YOU for all the work you do to make this wonderful resource!  After being regular readers for a long time, this year 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 ...am well educated, with a BA in Applied Physics from Harvard and an MBA in Finance from Wharton.”
(a reader in Delaware)

“ I came across your website by accident about 4 months ago and look at it every day.... About 8 months ago I was reading a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times that was written by a staunch ‘anti-Creationist’ and it sparked my interest enough to research the topic and within a week I was yelling, ‘my whole 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 www.BornAgainRadio.com, 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.”
(anonymous)
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 CreationSafaris.com.”
(a PhD geologist)

“I love your site... I check it every day for interesting information.  It was hard at first to believe in Genesis fully, but now I feel more confident about the mistakes of humankind and that all their reasoning amounts to nothing in light of a living God.”
(a college grad)

“Thank you so much for the interesting science links and comments on your creation evolution headlines page ... it is very 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 TruthCast.com.)

“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.