Creation-Evolution Headlines
May 2010
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“To a physicist like me, life looks to be a little short of magic: all those dumb molecules conspiring to achieve such clever things!  How do they do it?  There is no orchestrator, no choreographer directing the performance, no esprit de corps, no collective will, no life force – just mindless atoms pushing and pulling on each other, kicked about by random thermal fluctuations.  Yet the end product is an exquisite and highly distinctive form of order.  Even chemists, who are familiar with the amazing transformative powers of molecules, find it breathtaking.  George Whitesides, Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University, writes, ‘How remarkable is life?  The answer is: very.  Those of us who deal in networks of chemical reactions know of nothing like it.’ ”
—Paul Davies, from The Eerie Silence quoted by Leslie Mullin in Astrobiology Magazine last month (04/15/2010).
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Fooling Around with OOL     05/31/2010    
May 31, 2010 — Origin of Life (OOL) research is one of those areas in science where one doesn’t have to make any real progress, as long as he or she looks busy.  Anything the scientist says, no matter how speculative, or even foolish, is likely to be taken seriously, because the alternative – creation – has already been ruled out as “pseudoscience” by the ruling scientific elite.  Here are some recent examples.

  1. Cook up that DNA:  You can get DNA to copy itself without life.  How?  Inside a deep sea vent, says Dieter Braun of the University of Munich.  New Scientist gave his idea publicity, complete with a photograph of a black smoker with the caption, “Providing a perfect setting for life to replicate.”  That idea, of course, runs contrary to the view of other theorists who consider the deep sea to be the last place one would think life would begin (e.g., Jeffrey Bada, 06/14/2002; see also problems with salt in the ocean, 09/17/2002).  Braun provided a semblance of empirical evidence for his view by putting DNA, nucleotides, and the polymerase enzyme that knows how to assemble them into tiny test tubes and heating them with a laser to set up convection currents.  He and his assistant found copies of DNA accumulating in pockets at the top.  Asked how different configurations might form, he speculated that “Fatty acids in the water may have provided a shuttle service,” and even form membranes to keep them together – the beginning of cells.  It’s all so simple, Nick Lane commented: “The work shows that DNA can be both concentrated and replicated under a very simple set of conditions.”  Of course, by providing DNA, DNA polymerase and nucleotides, he gave his experiment a whopping head start.  But wasn’t RNA supposed to come first?  He didn’t say.  DNA lacks enzymatic activity.  Without enzymes, DNA by itself would be a dead end.  That’s why “RNA World” theory at least tried to cover those two functions in one molecule.  The RNA World hypothesis has its own set of problems (07/11/2002, 02/15/2007).
  2. Top Down: Is it ID?  On Live Science, Stuart Fox speculated that Craig Venter’s latest experiment with “synthetic life” (see 05/22/2010) “May Reveal Origins of Natural Life.”  By that he means that further experiments that reduce a cell to its minimal components may show how simple a cell can be to qualify as living.  That, in turn, may reveal possible pathways that primitive cells may have taken in their path from nonlife to life: “Venter addressed this issue on Thursday, noting that he and researchers at his institute had themselves debated how this technology would allow scientists to test the minimum level of biological material needed to spark life,” Fox said.  In Venter’s words, “I think it’ll be interesting as the people working on origins of life, people trying to understand these minimal early possible precursors to life as those programs proceed in one direction, and we proceed from the other, building on top of the evolution of an information system, we might be able to meet somewhere in the middle and have some exciting new tools.”  The only thing clear from the articles that the ones doing the debating, experimenting, researching, working, evaluating, testing, building, meeting and understanding (if that) were human beings – not primitive lifeforms.
  3. Chirality and shattered mirrors:  Marcus Chown published a three-page article in New Scientist on the mystery of homochirality – why all living things have left-handed amino acids in their proteins (see online book).  He gave most prominence to a theory that supernovas or black holes gave a slight quantum excess to one form, and that these were enhanced in the waters of the early earth.  This suggestion, however, turned out to be quite weak by page 3, and Chown could only hope for findings to come forth from spacecraft in the future when all was said and done. 
  4. Phosphorus for us:  There’s phosphorus in DNA.  There’s phosphorus in ATP.  That can only mean one thing: earth needed phosphorus to have life.  It’s not clear how phosphorus got into our atmosphere.  Maybe it came special delivery.  PhysOrg reported that Dr Terry Kee of the University of Leeds thinks it came from meteorites.  “Phosphorus is present within several meteoritic minerals and it is possible that this reacted to form pyrophosphite under the acidic, volcanic conditions of early Earth.”
        Now, once Earth had pyrophosphite, it had an energetic molecule that, while not as useful as ATP, was at least somewhat similar.  “The team found that a compound known as pyrophosphite may have been an important energy source for primitive lifeforms.”  Did he have any evidence for this?  No; it’s just a requirement.  “It’s a chicken and egg question,” he said.  “Scientists are in disagreement over what came first – replication, or metabolism.  But there is a third part to the equation – and that is energy.”  So while scientists are disagreeing about two things, why not add a third?  That’s progress: “You need enzymes to make ATP and you need ATP to make enzymes,” explained Dr Kee, as if adding questions qualifies as explaining something: “The question is: where did energy come from before either of these two things existed?”  We may not know the answers, but at least our ignorance is getting more sophisticated thanks to OOL research.
That last press release did enlighten readers with some little-known facts about ATP in the real world of actual lifeforms.  “At any one time, the human body contains just 250g of ATP – this provides roughly the same amount of energy as a single AA battery.  This ATP store is being constantly used and regenerated in cells via a process known as respiration, which is driven by natural catalysts called enzymes.”  That enzyme, ATP synthase, is a two-part rotary motor with multiple interacting parts that is absolutely essential to all life.  It has been discussed many times in these pages (e.g., 03/27/2008).  If what the article said is true, it’s hard to imagine a world-class sprinter at the Olympics running on an AA battery.  To be sure, your body cycles through the equivalent of your body weight in ATP in an active day of work, so there is a dynamic interplay of food energy going into ATP production and out into work throughout the day, but to have only 250g of ATP in store at a time surely qualifies for one of the most “Amazing Facts” ever encountered in these pages – something worth sharing around the water cooler.
Here’s another case where “Amazing Facts” and “Dumb Ideas” got awarded together.  That statement about ATP is a gem plucked out of garbage.  Think of the efficiency of the energy system your Maker provided the human body, such that those quadrillions of exquisitely crafted ATP synthase motors can extract out of phosphorus, using proton motive force, enough energy to send an athlete hurtling down a track, or pole-vaulting over a bar, or high jumping, power lifting, and all the other amazing feats of speed and strength we enjoy watching in sports, out of just 250 grams of ATP – the equivalent of a single AA battery!  Incredible.  Did that superbly crafted design evolve by chemical evolution?  Not on your life.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeDumb IdeasHuman BodyAmazing Facts
Stem Cells: Hope, Politics, Charity, and Clarity     05/30/2010    
May 30, 2010 — Those promising little cells that can differentiate into almost any tissue continue to make news – but they also continue to generate controversy.  Actually, only some of them generate controversy: the embryonic stem cells.  Not all of the articles about stem cells make that clear. 
  1. Defining life:  With the stroke of a pen, South Korea decided that frozen human embryos are not life forms.  PhysOrg reported that “The ruling means that human embryos that are in their early stage and are not implanted into a mother’s womb cannot be seen as human life forms,” even though they have a full complement of human DNA from a father and a mother.  Well, if that is the decision, fertility clinics are free to toss out any ethical concerns about them.  The embryos become non-persons.  The clinics can dispose of them, or turn them over to the Science Lab.  “Following the ruling, shares related to stem-cell research surged on the local market.
  2. Your embryonic brain stem cells:  When you were a mere embryo in the womb, your developing pin-sized brain had special stem cells that were busy building the center of higher learning – the neocortex.  PhysOrg reported that neurologists at UC San Francisco discovered a stem cell in the human embryo “illuminates human brain evolution, points to therapies.”  It “likely accounts for the dramatic expansion of the region in the lineages that lead to man, the researchers say.”  Is this because mice and monkeys lack these stem cells in their brains?  Not exactly; it’s just that in primates and especially in humans, the complexity of the layers and types of stem cells is dramatic.  The scientists equivocated about the e-word, saying that their work follows the “molecular steps that the cell goes through as it evolves into the nerve cell, or neuron, it produces.”  So what’s politics got to do with it?  “This information could then be used to prompt embryonic stem cells to differentiate in the culture dish into neurons for potential use in cell-replacement therapy.”  But what would somebody else’s stem cells, with their DNA, do inside your head?  Is that ethical or desirable?
  3. No controversy in this heart:  The phrase “non-controversial” has a calming effect on a heart.  Science Daily began an article, “A new and non-controversial source of stem cells can form heart muscle cells and help repair heart damage, according to results of preliminary lab tests reported in Circulation Research: Journal of the American Heart Association.”  The source is amniotic membrane, a sac in which the embryo develops, which is a form of medical waste normally discarded after a baby’s delivery.  Now, it can be kept to derive stem cells to heal damaged hearts.  The press release from the American Heart Association said that the cells are not rejected, and transform into heart muscle cells that start beating spontaneously.  In experiments on rats, a significant percent of them survived for weeks and decreased scarring after a heart attack.  If clinical trials show this works on humans, saving up this previously discarded tissue for heart therapy would be a very loving thing to do.
  4. Spanish love:  Spanish scientists have turned fat into a lovely thing.  Science Daily reported that scientists at the University of Granada took stem cells from adipose tissue (fat cells) and reprogrammed them into cardiac myocytes – heart muscle.  “This technique could be used in the future for regeneration of cardiac muscles through the use of cells directly extracted from the patient.”  Wouldn’t that be cool?  Some day, your doctor might extract your fat and use it to repair your heart.
        A somewhat similar study at the University of Texas was reported by PhysOrg.  Your own adult stem cells could be re-injected into your heart and start the repair process, scientists have found.  “Injection of a patient’s own adult stem cells into the heart has shown some efficacy in assisting recovery after a heart attack in early human clinical trials,” the article said.
  5. Hope for MS patients in bone:  Stem cells in bone marrow appear to offer hope for those with multiple sclerosis.  Science Daily reported that “A groundbreaking trial to test bone marrow stem cell therapy with a small group of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) has been shown to have possible benefits for the treatment of the disease.”  This was a human trial with encouraging results: “The procedure was well tolerated and the participants were followed up for a yearNo serious adverse effects were encountered.”  Bone marrow stem cells are a form of adult stem cell, with no ethical or controversial issues; they can be taken from the patient and re-injected the same day.
  6. Seeing the way for an embryonic stem cell therapy?  A first step toward a possible use of embryonic stem cells was announced by Science Daily.  Researchers at UC Irvine have succeeded in coaxing human embryonic stem cells to differentiate into an “an eight-layer, early stage retina” in the lab.  This was in isolation from an actual eye.  “We made a complex structure consisting of many cell types,” the study leader said; “This is a major advance in our quest to treat retinal disease.”  It is hoped that creating retinal tissue might lead to treatments for macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and other blinding diseases, but such actual therapies are a long way off.  The article did not say whether embryonic stem cells were required for this feat, or whether adult stem cells, such as induced pluripotent stem cells, could work just as well.
An article on both embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells in Science Daily this month was strangely silent about the controversy.  The focus was on understanding how these cells become pluripotent (i.e., able to differentiate into numerous cell types) – certainly an important issue.  But there was only this brief mention of the ethical controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells: “Because ethical and legal issues have hampered human ES cell research, mouse cells have provided a more viable platform for ES cell studies.”  On those ethical and legal issues, however, rides a great debate, millions of dollars, and fundamental questions about the value of human life.
Is it right to do wrong to have a chance to do right?  Do the ends justify the means?  If there are two ways to get something done, and one is not controversial, why choose the controversial way?  Have we not learned that declaring someone a non-person is the first step to unspeakable abuses of human rights?
    The proponents of embryonic stem cell research know how to play on your emotions with tear-jerking commercials of suffering people.  Californians saw that with their $3 billion stem cell initiative they couldn’t afford (02/08/2005).  What the pleading scientists don’t tell you is that (1) they stand to make a lot of money from tax-funded ES research, (2) embryonic stem cell research is getting stampeded by actual successes in the adult stem cell arena, and (3) ES research is tainted by desires to tinker with human cloning and chimeras (mixing human and animal cells).  Stay away from it.  They have nothing to show for it after years of hype and millions of dollars and one of the biggest scandals in the history of science.  Its advocates are primarily Darwinian leftist progressives.  They have mixed motives.  The practice of harvesting embryos opens up a potential shop of horrors, with markets for women selling their eggs, and catalogs of human body parts.  And with non-controversial iPS and adult stem cells available, we don’t need anything they’re selling.
Next headline on:  HealthCell BiologyHuman BodyPolitics and Ethics
  Is our universe natural?  That’s not as simple a question as it sounds.  Read the 05/11/2006 entry, then ask if it bears on the question of what “naturalism” means.

Science Explains Why the Universe Exists     05/29/2010    
May 29, 2010 — They’ve done it again – those clever scientists have figured out why the universe exists.  What would we ever do without them?  Michael Bolen at Yahoo News had to share the good news, “Scientists discover explanation for why the Universe exists.”  Space.com explained it as a victory in an ancient contest: “Why We Exist: Matter Wins Battle Over Antimatter.”  We should be tickled at the news, like one scientist Bolen quoted: “‘Many of us felt goose bumps when we saw the result,’ said Stefan Soldner-Rembold, a physicist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.”  Never say scientists are a dull lot.
    Theory predicts that equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been produced in the big bang.  Trouble is, they annihilate each other.  Mix them up, and poof – nothing remains but energy racing out in all directions, with no hope for planets and people.  Cosmologists have long hoped to find some mechanism for asymmetry – a little leftover of one or the other to make up a universe of matter (or antimatter; whichever you decide to call it, it doesn’t matter).  The latest attempts looked for asymmetry in collisions at the Tevatron and Large Hadron Colliders in Illinois and CERN, respectively.  They think they found it.  Thus the goose bumps.  But to explain it, they had to deviate from the Standard Model a little.  That might make the Standard Model a bit non-standard, if that matters. 
    Adrian Cho in Science was not prepared to diagnose goose bumps.1  They might just be zits, he suggested: “the marginal result could be a fluke, and theorists say it’s difficult to explain why the effect is so big in this study and so small in earlier work on related particles.”  A look into the Cho’s article reveals a good deal of interpretation of statistical data that is so theory-laden it is hard to know where observation ends and theory begins.  Not only that, the results will need further testing.  Only if one accepts the theory that “a B meson can decay into an easily spotted particle called a muon, whereas an anti–B meson decays into an antimuon,” can one call this a success.  In the experiment, two-muon events outnumbered two-antimuon events by only 1%.  The experimenters claimed that this bias is 40 times larger than what the Standard Model predicts.  That seems an extremely flimsy occasion for goose bumps, or for headlines that scientists have discovered an explanation for why the universe exists.
    Like David Berlinski wrote in his 2009 essay, “The State of the Matter” (The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays, Discovery Institute, 2009, p. 525), “Although a very great achievement, the Standard Model proved in some respects unsatisfying.  No physicist has ever suggested otherwise.... If there were questions that the Standard Model did not answer, physicists assumed, this indicated only that the Standard Model was a work in process and so a work in progress.”  A moving standard is not really a standard, is it?


1.  Adrian Cho, “Hints of Greater Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry Challenge Theorists,” Science, 28 May 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5982, p. 1087, DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5982.1087-a.
What the physicists should be saying is that the asymmetry of matter over antimatter is another of many finely-tuned parameters of our universe that makes life possible.  It is one of dozens of cosmological factors that shouts intelligent design.  Instead of getting goose bumps over that, they deny it, and prefer to get goose bumps over their own pride at every suggestion, no matter how trivial and feeble, that they might be making some progress in their own bottom-up explanation programme.  The Standard Model, this godless mind game with a bit of expensive atom-smashing thrown in, needs 24 elementary particles, 4 forces (some of which they have managed to combine since the 1970s), an unknown number of quantum fields, various symmetries, some of them broken, and various numbers of unobservable dimensions, depending on whose Kaluza-Klein theory one prefers.  But none of them know what to do with gravity.  It shouldn’t be called the Standard Model; it should be called the Standard Ignorance.  It has spawned various non-standard ignorances since, such as String Theory and the Landscape (multiverse theory), which are all united under the over-arching materialist Paradigm of Ignorance (Pig) known as the Stuff Happens Law.  In a perverse sort of way, therefore, materialists can claim their world view is law-governed (09/15/2008 commentary), and therefore scientific – even Baconian.
    David Berlinski’s essay The State of the Matter is a suitable climax to his devilishly delightful set of essays mentioned above.  He is no creationist, Christian, or intelligent design proponent, for that matter; we do not endorse him for those reasons.  But all the more, those reasons demonstrate that criticism of Darwinism and secular materialism is not exclusively the domain of Christians and creationists.  Furthermore, Berlinski is both a well-read, worldly scholar (particularly in mathematical physics) and a wordsmith of the first order, making it a delight to read his tactful demolitions of the secular empire.  He is particularly adept at exposing the scientific pretensions of fools.  To whet your appetite, we end with his conclusion to The State of the Matter, an excellent survey of the rise and fall of 20th century material physics:
What implications in all this for the grand narrative of our times?  Where do the arrows of explanation in the end point?
    The plain truth—no trivial thing, of course—is that no one knows. It is odd and remarkable that in the face of theories that have proven inconclusive such as string theory, physicists that they must at once change the standards by which their theories are judged.  When it is not possible to argue the facts, lawyers quite understand, then it is necessary to argue the law.  In this the physicists have unwittingly drawn close to doctrines that previously they had rejected as frivolous.  But neither physicists disposed radically to change the law, nor physicists disposed radically to reject the change, have made arguments that have persuaded the other side.  And if they cannot persuade one another, surely it is unreasonable for either side to expect that they have persuaded us.
The full force of those lines, to be appreciated, needs to have the momentum of all that preceded it—the bizarre ruminations that led up to the Standard Model, string theory, and the multiverse hypothesis.  The godless have been forced into absurdity by the realities of the universe as it is.  “If we are not disposed to escape the Landscape, Leonard Susskind has warned, we shall be ‘hard pressed’ to answer critics prepared to welcome theories of intelligent design.”
Next headline on:  PhysicsCosmologyIntelligent Design
The Factor Economists Neglected in their Models: Integrity     05/28/2010    
May 28, 2010 — Is economics a science?  It’s on that borderland that has many things in common with the sciences; it is highly law-governed (law of supply and demand, for instance); it uses mathematical models; it uses experimental methods; it develops theories.  Granted for the time being that it is a kind of science (albeit a “soft science” or “social science”), some economists are recognizing that they have been failing to include an important factor in their models – morality.  PhysOrg mentioned that factor in a surprising headline today: “Researcher considers the role of morality in modern economic theory.”  The first paragraph elaborated with an even stronger word –
The worldwide financial crisis in 2008, which led to what many in the United States now call the “Great Recession,” has caused researchers to rethink traditional economic theories of financial markets and the corporate world.  Even renowned financial theorist Michael Jensen, whose widely cited work has laid the foundation for the broad use of stock options as an executive compensation tool, has called on his fellow researchers to incorporate “integrity” into their economic models.
The economists are not just taking a moralizing stance here, as if they need to preach to stockholders and traders, telling them they had better play fair.  No – they are realizing that partakers of contracts and financial arrangements really do have moral sensibilities that affect their behaviors.
    The article highlights the theories of Douglas Stevens, an associate professor of accounting at Florida State University, who has for years incorporated morality into his models.  Now, inspired by Jensen’s call, he has co-authored a peer-reviewed paper in Accounting, Organizations and Society called “A Moral Solution to the Moral Hazard Problem.”  When did you ever hear the phrase “Moral Solution” in a peer-reviewed paper?
    Stevens has incorporated a radical new idea in his thesis.  It’s not enough, he says, to attract a principal (like an employee or contract partner) with financial incentives.  Previous models have neglected moral content.  They focused on more and riskier incentives – some of which led to the financial collapse of 2008.  Instead, Stevens broke with the traditional “principal-agent” model of incentives, which assumed a moral sensitivity of zero, and factored in the moral sensitivities of the agents.  “Thus, their model answers Jensen’s call to incorporate integrity into economic theory,” the article said; “This is significant because principal-agent theory, the most mathematically formal economic theory of the firm, has previously been closed to moral content.”
    The new model explains things that the old model found baffling – like why people often do more than incentives provide:
“We know from simple observation that the traditional principal-agent model is not fully descriptive of real-world behavior,” Stevens said.  “A majority of people are paid a fixed salary in their jobs and yet provide sufficient effort for their pay.  This is particularly true in professions and nonprofit firms where the financial incentives required by the traditional model are difficult if not impossible to arrange.  The traditional principal-agent model can’t explain this behavior.  Our model, however, demonstrates that a principal can pay a morally sensitive agent a fixed salary that is increasing in the productivity of the agent’s effort.”
    Their model also demonstrates the value of moral sensitivity to the firm and society.
    “Our model suggests that moral sensitivity increases the efficiency of principal-agent relationships within the firm – which makes more of these relationships possible – and allows the agent to receive a fixed salary that is increasing in his or her productivity or skill,” Stevens said.  “Thus, moral sensitivity increases the general welfare of society by decreasing unemployment and increasing the productivity and pay of those who are employed.  This explains the emphasis placed on moral training within the firm and society at large.  This also provides a warning against letting moral sensitivity diminish.
Who would have thought that morality is a factor in reducing unemployment, as well as increasing productivity – regardless of incentives?  That is actually a principle taught in the Bible – that work should be done “as unto the Lord,” not with “eye-service” just to please men (Colossians 3:23, Ephesians 6:5-6).  The renowned “Protestant work ethic” taught individuals to believe that a job well done has intrinsic value, regardless of incentives or compensation.
    In closing, the article (actually a press release from Florida State University), emphasized the importance of professional ethics training as, if you will, a “moral” of the story.  “Every financial crisis and scandal is a wake-up call – for both practitioners and academics,” Stevens said.  “Hopefully, we won’t waste yet another financial crisis.”
Where does ethics come from?  To find the source, don’t walk across campus to the science lab, where the Dawk is telling impressionable frosh that they are evolved slimeballs.  Don’t go to the auditorium where Shermer is telling them intelligent design is a myth and a pseudoscience, and we must use Reason, but he can’t for the life of him tell us a reason why.  Don’t walk over to the Humanities, where the profs want to divide everybody into groups of the aggrieved who want to hold placards with upraised fists dripping in blood and chant, with foaming mouths, “End the Hate!”  Don’t go to the Astronomy department, where they say universes just happen from time to time, and ours is just one of an infinity that popped into existence out of a quantum fluctuation, and is on the way to a heat death.  Don’t go to the music department where they tell you hip-hop is the equivalent of Bach.  Don’t go to the History department, where the profs have no idea why functionally modern humans spent 800,000 years grunting in caves, then decided in the blink of an eye to build cities, ships, trade, agriculture, writing, economics, warfare, manufacturing, mathematics, law, religion, morality and philosophy.
    No, to find morality, use your head.  You have a conscience.  Where did that come from?  It didn’t evolve.  You know innately that certain things are good and certain things are evil.  Good and evil refer to eternal standards.  Conscience, in a sense, is a law of nature.  Paul, a “scientist” of that inner law, explained, “For when the Gentiles [i.e., non-Jews] who do not have the law [the Jewish Scriptures], by nature do what the law requires [i.e., knowing that murder, theft and adultery are wrong], they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.  They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them....” (Romans 2:14-15).  We all know that is true by experience.  Steal something, and even if you get away with it and nobody knows about it but you, the proverbial devil and angel on your shoulders start having their argument in your ears.  People have moral sensibilities, and economic theorists have been amiss to ignore those factors in their models.  By treating people as mere Pavlovian dogs responding only to incentives, they have been missing out on how the real world operates.  Could that have led to bad forecasts that blindsided the world to one of the worst financial collapses in modern times?  Well, it’s about time to add the words morality and integrity back into economics theory – for practical reasons if for nothing else.
    To find integrity, leave the campus, cross the street, and go into that building with the steeple.  There you will get to the source.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1).  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. ((Matthew 22:34-40).
    It’s nice to see that some economists are finding out that integrity matters.  The other sciences could use some integrity training.  There was a short-lived call for integrity in Science and Nature after the Hwang scandal in 2006 (02/05/2006).  Not much happened.  It was followed by shameless arrogance in Darwinist response to the movie Expelled in 2008, and then a half-hearted admission of fallibility after Climategate in late 2009.
    This month there was a rare mention of the I-word in Science Daily that showed that the IQ (Integrity Quotient) in science needs improvement: “Ethics Experts Call for Refocus of Scientific Review to Ensure Integrity of Research Process.”  The article began, “In a paper published this week in the journal Science, experts caution that important ethical issues in the testing of new therapies like stem cells may not be receiving the attention they deserve.”  So here we are, four years after the Hwang scandal; has no improvement been made?  McGill University ethicist Jonathan Kimmerman, co-author of a study on how clinical trials are designed, said, “What is often overlooked is that allowing studies of poor scientific quality to proceed potentially undermines the entire scientific enterprise, because they undermine trust, consume scarce research resources, and weaken incentives for medical scientists to perform the best research they can.”
    Scientists apparently don’t have the innate incentives to make progress on their own, so we may have to provide incentives for them.  Do your duty; take a scientist to church.  Tell him it’s an experience that’s out of this world, or it will bring true riches, or tell them it’s a science project – whatever incentive appeals to his or her maturity level.  Take someone who needs it, like the Dawk.  He’s already admitted that he prefers living in a Christian society instead of one that acts out Darwinian principles, so he is already inconsistent and needs to learn integrity.  If he kicks and screams, give him a pacifier so he doesn’t disrupt the hymn.  You may have to use childish incentives on him until he gains the maturity to exercise his conscience, but real progress will only be possible when he can explain and defend the source and ultimate reference of integrity.  That, of course, will only be the beginning of knowledge, but getting on the right path is a victory.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsBible and Theology
Darwinism as All-Purpose Flexible Caulk     05/27/2010    
May 27, 2010 — Fossils continue to turn up surprises.  Some of them appear in the wrong place, in the wrong time, or in the wrong order.  Darwinian theory never seems to have a problem, though.  Evolutionary paleontologists always find a way to stretch or shrink their phylogenetic trees to accommodate the new discoveries, or make up new imaginary tales, to fit the new findings into the all-encompassing story of universal common descent by natural selection.
  1. Proto-squid:  What was Nectocaris?  The strange fossil in the Burgess Shale, one of many strange fossils in the Burgess Shale, defied classification since its discovery 100 years ago.  Was it a mollusc?  Was it an arthropod?  After looking at dozens of them, scientists publishing in Nature decided this week,1 based on one trait, that it must have been the ancestor of squids and octopi.  That trait appears to have been an organ of jet propulsion that modern squid, cuttlefish and octopi use to scoot through the water.  This organ on Nectocaris doesn’t look quite the same; it’s at right angles to the creature, for one thing, as if it would have spun the poor animal in circles.  Perhaps it had a pivot so it could be aimed in various directions.  The creature has eyes and tentacles but lacks some other characteristic cephalopod traits.  Nevertheless, Smith and Caron put their theory out there anyway, and Stefan Bengtson liked the theory enough to title his commentary, “A little Kraken wakes.”2  The news media immediately jumped on the bandwagon with headlines like the one on PhysOrg, “Palaeontologists solve mystery of 500 million-year-old squid-like carnivore.”
        Even if Smith and Caron are right, it doesn’t help Darwin’s story.  Smith wrote in the press release printed by PhysOrg, “This is significant because it means that primitive cephalopods were around much earlier than we thought, and offers a reinterpretation of the long-held origins of this important group of marine animals.”  Like the other Cambrian body plans, a complex cephalopod emerged out of nowhere.  Smith continued, “We know very little about the relationships between the major groups of molluscs, and the early history of the group,” yet somehow, he said, “Fossils like Nectocaris help us to map out how the groups alive today might be related, and how they evolved.”  If this is indeed a cephalopod in Cambrian strata, it exacerbates the problem of complex life appearing early in the fossil record.  “Far from being mindless filterers or grazers, they [cephalopods] are active predators possessing the most advanced nervous system known among invertebrates.  Their brain-to-body ratio exceeds that of most vertebrates,” Bengtson said.  “They are masters of camouflage, changing shape, surface pattern, texture and colour in the blink of an eye – and they do have good eyes.”
  2. Swimming tank:  Imagine a triceratops swimming across the ocean.  That’s almost what a story in Live Science is asking us to believe: “Newfound Horned Dinosaur Probably Island-Hopped to Europe.”  Horned dinosaurs of a type normally known from the Gobi Desert have been identified in Europe.  How did they get there?  Based on another paper published in Nature this week,3 Charles Q. Choi reported that the ancestors of this kind of dinosaur were only known from the far east.  Based on what the scientists said, he imagined this scenario: “Their ancestors might have swum westward from island to island, or they might have walked to these areas when the islands were landlocked, only to get separated later when sea levels rose,” he said.  Perhaps you can think of other mental pictures.  Xing Xu of feathered dinosaur fame commented on this find in Nature.4  He began by mentioning the large gaps in the record: “Reconstructing the historical distribution of Earth’s fauna and flora is a challenging task, not least because of the incomplete, often poorly dated, nature of the fossil record,” he said.  “Such problems are particularly severe with respect to European biogeography in the Late Cretaceous period (about 100 million to 65 million years ago), when Europe was an archipelago.”  A shipload of Darwin caulk is necessary for such situations; maybe even an Ark load.
  3. Reset buttonScience Daily told a mystery tale of catastrophe: something hit the reset button, and killed almost everything, but fortunately we survived.  “A mass extinction of fish 360 million years ago hit the reset button on Earth’s life, setting the stage for modern vertebrate biodiversity, a new study reports.”  What was it?  Nobody knows, but “Those few species that survived the bottleneck were the evolutionary starting point for all vertebrates -- including humans -- that exist today,” we are told.  It was a global extinction.  It left a completely different world.  Maybe the world got drunk, because the article said the 15-million-year gap “was the hangover after the traumatic Hangenberg event.”  Somewhere out of the hangover, our grandpappy emerged.  “When tetrapods finally recovered, those survivors were likely the great-great-grandfathers to the vast majority of land vertebrates present today.”
        It would be nice to know what happened, but: “What remains mysterious is exactly what happened 360 million years ago to trigger this mass extinction, the authors said.”  If you thought trees were our friends, “The first appearance of forest-like environments in some regions might also have produced atmospheric changes catastrophic to animal life.”  What did the forest trees evolve from?  They didn’t say.  Perhaps they just “appeared.”  Maybe this study helped the scientists learn some things about evolution: “The research also raises questions about the pattern of evolution after the extinction event.  It remains unclear why groups that were abundant before the event did not recover, while other groups spread and diversified in radical new ways.”  Your tax dollars at work: “Funding for the research was provided by the National Science Foundation, the University of Chicago Hinds Fund, the Paleontological Society, the Palaeontological Association, the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and the Evolving Earth Foundation.”
  4. The cannibal in the family treeNational Geographic, always one to overdo the shock and awe (how do they fit so many “Annual Shark Week” events in a year?) decided to introduce the cannibal in our ancestry, Homo gautengensis.  If you hadn’t heard of this particular Uncle Harry, or how they knew someone 800,000 years ago liked the taste of human flesh, the story gets a little sketchy the more you get into the fine print.  First, you find there’s not enough bone to make a valid reconstruction.  There’s not enough bone to know whether it spent time in the trees, to know what it ate, to know whether it talked, or to know how it lived.  Then you find there’s dispute among experts whether it was Homo at all, or rather Australopithecus.  Then you learn that it doesn’t really matter, because it and Australopithecus sediba, another contender for human ancestor, were contemporaries – casting the evolutionary status of both fossils into doubt.  Then you learn that the dating of both of these fossils is also very questionable; no one is certain when they lived.
        Finally, you learn that the author of the paper about this dude isn’t even sure what he is holding in his hand: “It is up to my colleagues to decide whether they are convinced that a new species is warranted and whether they will use [the designation] in their research.”  As for its evolutionary value, he said, “The real significance of the new species is that it shows just how complicated, how bushy, our evolutionary tree was.”  So by this time, the reader can judge the scientific value of the caulk holding together a picture of a tree-swinging human ancestor that scraped the brains out of other Homo things for food, as the National Geographic shock-and-awe article opened, into the grand scheme of human evolution.  Let’s return to the opening: “There’s a good chance it was a tiny little cannibalistic tree swinger, but the newly identified Homo gautengensis is family, according to a new studyThought to have used tools—and possibly fire—the creature is the oldest named species in the human genus, Homo, study author Darren Curnoe says.”  Wanna bet on it?
National Geographic went on to speculate that the Homo gautengensis creature even had rudimentary language.  Strangely, the article did not consider how it would be possible for a creature intelligent enough to build fire, use tools, and speak to walk the planet for 795,000 years before ever thinking about inventing a wheel, planting a farm, building a city, riding a horse, or writing his thoughts down – or why in about 3500 B.C. all those things exploded into existence suddenly in the Fertile Crescent, with long-distance trade, mining, manufacturing, and shipping, too.  But Darwin didn’t live till the 19th century A.D., and by then, humans had steam locomotives to transport all the caulk anyone could ever need.
1.  Martin R. Smith & Jean-Bernard Caron, “Primitive soft-bodied cephalopods from the Cambrian,” Nature 465, 469-472 (27 May 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature09068.
2.  Stefan Bengtson, “Palaeontology: A little Kraken wakes,” Nature 465, 427-428 (27 May 2010) | doi:10.1038/465427a.
3.  Osi, Butler and Weishampel, “A Late Cretaceous ceratopsian dinosaur from Europe with Asian affinities,” Nature 465, 466-468 (27 May 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature09019.
4.  Xing Xu, “Biogeography: Horned dinosaurs venture abroad,” Nature 465, 431-432 (27 May 2010) | doi:10.1038/465431a.
Do you see how we’ve been scammed?  This isn’t science.  This is a racket.  This is the biggest con job ever pulled off in the name of science.  You should see the phylogenetic tree in the squid paper.  It’s all dots, with a few tiny dashes representing actual data.  The dots are imagination!  The chart tries to connect Kimberella, one of the Ediacaran creatures that went extinct, with Nectocaris, and those with squids!  Kimberella looks nothing like Nectocaris.  It’s all a convoluted story, because Darwin needs connections between things to form a continuous lineage.  What if they (in actual fact) had nothing to do with each other?  His disciples are playing dot-to-dot games with dots that are far apart and not obviously connected.  The connections are in their minds, not in the data.  Ditto for the dots in the horned dinosaur chart – it’s mostly dots, not dashes, and the dashes are almost all in contemporary groupings.  If anything, the dots, representing ancestral links, are getting farther and farther apart.  They exist only in the imagination of Darwinists.
    The Burgess Shale is an ecological zone of extinct creatures found in the Canadian Rockies, not an evolutionary time period.  The data exist in the present, not in the past (pause and think about that).  The Burgess Shale fossils were forced into an evolutionary story by evolutionary-minded human beings.  What the Darwinists should be reading from the fossil record, as the film Darwin’s Dilemma so powerfully shows, is the abrupt appearance of all the animal phyla without evolutionary precursors.  In spite of this strong evidence, the Darwinian story is like a big stage show, with painted sets, fogma machines (05/14/2007) and special effects that trained stage hands operate on cue.  Scientists are the actors.  They speak their memorized lines with gusto.  Data are the props that give the audience the illusion of reality, just like props on a stage.  And just like theater, it’s all about a story, not reality.  If you want entertainment, you can stay and watch the Darwin Theater of the Absurd, and laugh at how their miracles emerge on cue thanks to the rigging and special effects and industrial light and magic.  But if you want reality, you have to step outside,* where design is clearly seen, such that men are without excuse. 
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*Be sure to step all the way outside.  The Darwin Imagineers have built a whole amusement park around their theater – Fantasyland (02/22/2008, 06/09/2003, 12/05/2008, 10/08/2008, etc.), featuring Tinker Bell flitting about Charlie’s Magic Kingdom, zapping animals at random with her mutation wand, and Goofy, trying to turn mistakes into innovations, a-hyulk!  Remember, they’re only actors being paid to make it look like wishing upon a star makes your dreams come true.  They bleed when they’re cut, like other mortals— but they also have intelligently designed blood clotting mechanisms at the rescue.  And they go to the hospital outside Fantasyland, where altruistic people with real souls give them love and care.
  In our 05/27/2005 commentary, we offered the ACLU some suggestions on how they could be consistent in keeping intelligent design out of the Dover school district.  They and the students and parents would not have enjoyed the medicine of consistency, so they instead took the candy of hypocrisy a few months later in Judge Jones’s ruling (12/30/2005).

Darwin in Space without a Helmet     05/26/2010    
May 26, 2010 — “Space agencies may one day have Charles Darwin to thank for the longevity of their spacecraft,” began an article in New Scientist.  This seems a strange thing to write about a biologist who knew nothing of space travel.  “The life expectancy of a popular type of ion engine has been almost doubled using software that mimics the way natural selection evolves ever fitter designs.”  This seems a strange thing to write about a biologist who knew nothing of software, engines or ions.
    Cody Farnell, a space flight engineer at Colorado State University, was inspired by the father of evolutionary theory to design “evolution-mimicking software” called a genetic algorithm (GA), the article explained.  It randomly varied the grid geometry and the voltages applied to it for a new ion-drive spacecraft engine design.  Farnell considered these values as roughly analogous to genes in biology.  “If the performance was promising, the ‘genetic material’ was subjected to further random changes, or mutation, and this process was repeated until no more improvements were forthcoming,’ the article said – survival of the fittest.
    Farnell did not say if his engine had to fight with other engines for mates, or whether females of the species had to lay eggs or raise their young.  It’s also not clear whether the engines would be able to fend for themselves in the wild without Farnell’s intelligently guiding hands.

Darwin needs the oxygen of intelligent design to breathe, just like other mortals.
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Who’s Denying the Evidence?     05/25/2010    
May 25, 2010 — An interesting phenomenon is going on among science news reporters: accusations that “denialists” are lurking about.  We are told that deniers or denialists are refusing to accept scientific evidence and are clinging to belief systems in spite of the facts.  That would certainly be a serious charge, but it can also be a mask for a denialist to hide behind.  How is a bystander to decide who is the real denier?
    Controversy has a long tradition in science.  As we saw in the 05/21/2010 entry, some science educators believe vigorous argumentation should be encouraged.  That means that claims should be denied, and counter-claims should be offered in their stead.  Most issues of leading journals have sections where scientists take issue with each other’s positions on recent claims.  In last week’s issue of Science (05/21/2010), for example, there were five letters to the editor, signed by 71 scientists – some of them very well known – arguing about the meteor impact hypothesis for the Cretaceous extinctions.  Undoubtedly the pro-impact scientists feel their evidence is compelling, but what if they resorted to calling their opponents “denialists” for refusing to agree?  Only an emotional divide would result – maybe even a name-calling war.  In the same way, the use of loaded words like denier and denialist must be examined in context to see if it is warranted, or is rather a means of propaganda.
    New Scientist initiated the subject with a special report, “Living in denial.”  The caption lumped together various subjects of questionable affinity in an image of warfare: “From climate change to vaccines, evolution to flu, denialists are on the march.  Why are so many people refusing to accept what the evidence is telling them?”  Right away, readers got a taste of the message New Scientist wanted to convey, and right away, Darwin-loving ex-Christian apostate professional skeptic Michael Shermer was there to preach the opening sermon.  In his message for New Scientist, “Living in Denial: When a skeptic isn’t a skeptic,” Shermer was careful to cloak science in non-ideological terms: “What sometimes happens is that people confuse these two types of questionsscientific and ideological.”  This is the either-or fallacy, failing to recognize that scientism is itself an ideology.  Shermer also set his stage to ensure that he was skeptical of everything except his own skepticism.  “Thus, one practical way to distinguish between a sceptic and a denier is the extent to which they are willing to update their positions in response to new information,” Shermer explained.  “Sceptics change their minds.  Deniers just keep on denying.”  Yet when Shermer was given new information by Stephen Meyer in a debate about Signature in the Cell a few months ago, he did not update his beliefs about intelligent design; he just kept on denying it.
    Next in the series, Deborah MacKenzie continued the theme in New Scientist with her contribution, “Living in denial: Why sensible people reject the truth.”  Her entry was a shameless concoction of association (mixing global warming with evolution with fear of vaccination), fear-mongering (evil corporations, death by HIV, suffering children), and glittering generalities “the systematic rejection of a body of science in favour of make-believe.”  It was hardly worthy of scholarly analysis.
    Richard Panzer’s entry in the New Scientist series, “Living in Denial: How Corporations Manufacture Doubt,” is a short but interesting study about corporate disinformation campaigns.  It does not bear on origins, so is not of direct concern to this news service.  Similarly, Jim Giles’ entry in New Scientist, “Living in Denial: Unleashing a lie,” tells how the Big Lie is hard to stop in the Internet age.  As always, let the buyer beware.  And don’t forward messages without checking them out.
    Michael Fitzpatrick’s entry in the New Scientist series was a blast of cool air in the heat: “Living in denial: Questioning science isn’t blasphemy.”  Contrary to the others, Fitzpatrick encouraged dissent and criticized labeling people as “deniers.”  He said, “The epithet ‘denier’ is increasingly used to bash anyone who dares to question orthodoxy.  Among other things, deniers are accused of subordinating science to ideology.”  It’s a form of ad hominem attack, he argued: “How ironic.  The concept of denialism is itself inflexible, ideological and intrinsically anti-scientific.  It is used to close down legitimate debate by insinuating moral deficiency in those expressing dissident views,” he continued.  It serves not to refute your opponent so much as to question his motives.  Fitzpatrick did not claim that pseudoscience is not a problem, but insists that name-calling is not the solution.  “Such attempts to combat pseudoscience by branding it a secular form of blasphemy are illiberal and intolerant,” he said.  “They are also ineffective, tending not only to reinforce cynicism about science but also to promote a distrust for scientific and medical authority that provides a rallying point for pseudoscience.
    New Scientist gave Michael Shermer the last word.  In “Living in denial: The Truth is our only weapon,” Shermer implied that truth exists.  So if deniers of truth exist, how should we respond to them?  At least he still believes in the open marketplace of ideas: “My answer is this: let them be heard.  Examine their evidence.  Consider their interpretation.  If they have anything of substance to say, then the truth will out.”  Shermer associated Holocaust deniers with evolution deniers: “Holocaust denial has always been on the fringe, but other forms – notably creationism and climate denial – wield considerable influence and show no signs of going away.  In such cases, eternal vigilance is the price we must pay for both freedom and truth,” he said.  But at least he was thoughtful enough to consider the possibility he could be wrong, or even if not, that his views could someday become the minority – and would not want his views suppressed by the majority.  So Shermer believes in the Golden Rule.  He seems to be reaching into his Christian childhood for concepts of truth and fairness, because it is questionable where he would find such concepts in Darwinism.  Casey Luskin on Evolution News & Views called this a conflicted message.
    Speaking of minorities, Roger Harrabin found himself in a bit of a minority recently at a Climate skeptics rally in Chicago.  As a reporter for the BBC News, he did his best to present the majority in that venue as a bunch of right-wing fanatics, though he did have to acknowledge that among the group was noted geologist and Apollo astronaut Harrison Schmidt, who believes that the current climate change is part of a natural cycle, and some other notable scientists.
    New Scientist has had another series called Culture Lab.  An entry by Amanda Gefter on May 24 bears on the issue of denialism.  Accompanied by a photo of atheist protestors at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, her article, “Tracing the fuzzy boundaries of science,” dealt with the demarcation problem – how does one separate science from pseudoscience?  Gefter acknowledges that the problem is harder than it might seem.  Speaking of the Dover case, she said “It was obvious that the proponents of ID were trying to push a religious agenda into government-funded schools, violating the separation of church and state,” but “Nonetheless, Judge Jones’s task was not simple. He had to rule on whether or not ID is science, and distinguishing science from pseudoscience is harder than it might seem.”  Philosophers have long realized that Karl Popper’s falsification criterion is too simplistic, for instance.
    Instead, Gefter found solace in Nonsense on Stilts: How to tell science from bunk by Massimi Pigliucci (University of Chicago Press), a “brilliant book, which ought to be required reading for, well, everyone.”  How did Pigliucci attempt to solve the demarcation problem?  The “construction and testing of hypotheses with systematic observations or experiments” is not enough.  A science needs “some kind of explanatory framework,” too.  Applying that test to astrology, Gefter explains, shows that there is no explanatory framework for why the constellations, which are mere optical illusions based on our position, could influence our behavior.  General relativity, by contrast, not only makes predictions that have been confirmed but explains what gravity is.  Next, she attempted to apply Pigliucci’s demarcation criteria to intelligent design:
When Judge Jones issued his ruling, he declared that ID is not science because it invokes supernatural causation and because it “employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s”.  A contrived dualism is a false dichotomy – if evolution is wrong then ID must be right – and it highlights ID’s lack of explanatory power.  ID is nothing more than an attack on evolution; in and of itself it is nothing more than a belief in God.  To see what I mean, try this experiment if you ever find yourself talking to a proponent of ID.  Say, “OK, for the sake of argument let’s say evolution is wrong and let’s forget about it.  Now tell me how intelligent design works.”  Having tried this a few times myself, I am confident that you will be met with nothing but an awkward silence.
Gefter thus ruled ID as pseudoscience, because it is “rooted in religion”.  She and Pigliucci ruled three other things as “almost science– – evolutionary psychology, string theory and SETI, because they are potentially scientific, but not yet grounded in scientific evidence.
    Gefter ended by taking potshots at the extremes: the postmodernism of Foucault, the outlandish claims of Feyerabend, and the relativists.  She positioned herself as a solid progressivist, believing that Bayesian inference and good philosophy of science can nudge us closer and closer to the truth:
The idea that science can’t tell us anything about the objective world just because it is a human activity fraught with human flaws and biases is easily refuted the minute that planes fly or atomic bombs explode.  Scientists, meanwhile, do us a disservice when they promote scientism – the idea that science can answer every meaningful question we might ask about the world.
    Between postmodernism and scientism lies a middle way by which objective knowledge of the world can emerge.  We ought to think about science as a Bayesian algorithm, Pigliucci argues, echoing the sentiment of many contemporary philosophers of science.  Bayesian algorithms calculate probabilities of future events or observations based on prior knowledge.  As we gain new knowledge, we feed that back into the equation, “updating our priors” and leading to increasingly accurate predictions.  In this way, little by little, science nudges us closer to understanding the way the world really is.
Gefter likes philosophy of science – some philosophy of science.  She likes logic – some logic.  “Philosophers of science were some of Judge Jones’s best resources in the Dover trial and they are some of our best resources as a society dealing with the consequences of science in our everyday lives,” she concluded.  “Pigliucci is a perfect example.”  For more on Bayesian induction, see “Bayesian Epistemology” at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, particularly section 6, “Potential Problems.”
There are many names, issues and fallacies in these articles, too many to discuss in detail, but hopefully you latched onto some of them already.
    To whet your appetite, let’s return to a rhetorical projection theme we’ve used before (02/01/2007 commentary) that is not that unbelievable historically.  The Darwinians are usurpers, who have overtaken the castle of science and driven the rightful owners out.  They have taken over walls and monuments they did not build, leaving the founders and builders camped outside.  The Darwin Party also took ownership of the army and propaganda machinery.  Every time the rightful owners demand entry, the usurpers lob stinkbombs over the walls and laugh.  Meanwhile, the Darwin Party propaganda machine keeps the peasants inside persuaded that they are the true owners.  They set up a Sacred Tree in the temple shrine dedicated to King Charles, whom they parade regularly in his New Clothes at regular intervals with pomp and bombast.  Anyone who steps out of line is quickly expelled and sent outside the walls.  To maintain the illusion of scientific fairness, occasional parleys with the enemy are arranged, but these are carefully controlled such that the enemy is never given any real power or opportunity for rebuttal in the Party-controlled media, which carefully filter what the peasants are allowed to hear.  But lately, the peasants have been seeing increasing anxiety on the part of their handlers.  Whispers are going around that the New Clothes are not what they seem; messages from outside the wall are getting through that maybe they can trust their eyes after all.
    Simplistic?  Perhaps.  New Scientist has offered more nuanced material than this, but it is still very one-sided and filtered.  Here’s Shermer: “We KNOW that evolution is a fact fact fact and the creationists are a bunch of narrow-minded, bigoted pseudoscientific simpletons who won’t go away no matter how much I wish they would, but for a moment, I’ll grant the slightest, remote possibility that they might have a grain of truth in some of the things they are saying, and if we stomp on them too hard, and they win the masses and turn on us, they might take revenge, which could hurt my retirement, so we’d better play nice and endure them and just try to listen to them and convince them, because the TRUTH is our only weapon.”  Isn’t he just charming.  Dr. Shermer, you loving little skeptic, you, tell us: where did truth come from?  Did it evolve?  If truth evolves, is it really the truth?  Where did the Golden Rule come from?  Did you find it in Origin of Species?  If a rule evolves, is it really a rule?  If a different rule can take its place tomorrow, was it ever golden?  Suppose we do become the majority someday, and decide your kind are a danger to society, and should all be locked up.  Explain on what moral grounds you should stop us other than survival of the fittest.
    Here’s Amanda Gefter, a materialist charismatic (04/11/2009): “Philosophy of science is wonderful – as long as I get to pick the philosophers that allow me to punch a creationist.  Finding demarcation criteria between science and pseudoscience is hard – but Pigliucci is such a genius, he made it easy.  He’s almost as great a philosopher of science as Judge John E. Jones.  I never realized how easy it is.  Give me a bag and let me write ‘explanatory framework’ on it, and give me another bag and let me write ‘Empty’ on it, and I get to decide which systems to put in one bag or the other.  I don’t like intelligent design’s explanatory filter, so I’m going to put it into the Empty bag.  I don’t like having to explain how chance works in Darwinism, so I’m going to dodge that and ask an I.D. person how God works.  I don’t like having to explain Darwinist miracles of emergence, so I’m going to tease I.D. people by forcing them to tell how intelligent agents work.  Of course, I don’t ask that of SETI people, so we’ll put them in the halfway house and call them ‘almost scientists’.  But I digress.  Back to our mission: let’s all follow the Yellow Bayes Road and we will someday reach the Wizard of Understanding!”  Isn’t she just charming, Pigliucci tales and all.  Thank goodness Fitzpatrick was there to bring us back to Kansas (12/05/2008).
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Could This Protein Delay Aging?     05/24/2010    
May 24, 2010 — It’s called Heat Shock Protein 10.  It responds to stress, and might just slow the aging process, scientists are finding.  Science Daily reported, “Scientists in the UK and the U.S. have discovered that a protein which responds to stress can halt the degeneration of muscle mass caused during the body’s aging process.”
    Why do humans lose 25-30% of their muscle strength between the ages of 50 to 70?  Why do they become more susceptible to falls?  Could increased levels of heat shock protein 10 (HSP10) lead to preservation of muscle strength and better quality of life for seniors?  A professor involved in the study said, “Our research is the first to demonstrate that age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass is not inevitable and this could have considerable implications for the future health care of the elderly.”
The book of Genesis says people lived for hundreds of years before and after the Flood.  Methuselah lived for 969 years.  People bore children well into centuries.  There is nothing theoretically impossible about it, if physiological repair mechanisms were working properly.  After the Flood, longevity began plummeting substantially, but even at the time of the patriarchs it was common to be healthy to the age of 150 years.  Factors such as UV radiation from a changing atmosphere, new virulent diseases, or mutational load from a genetic bottleneck on the Ark, could have been responsible.
    Since sin entered the world, God has put a time limit on each individual’s sojourn on this planet; “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  Thank goodness evildoers no longer have centuries to work their wickedness.  These days, politicians would certainly have to reconsider Social Security laws if we had Methuselahs retiring at 65.  It’s interesting to consider, though, that there are no inevitabilities to aging as we know it.  Through molecular biology and genetics we can discover the cellular mechanisms responsible for the aging process and perhaps adjust some of them to extend the quality of life of our senior years before the cosmic ray with your name on it hits you.  Death can be delayed but not denied.  Even Methuselah probably thought it came too soon.  But now that the Lord Jesus Christ has taken our judgment for us, death can be the doorway to eternal life with our Maker, by faith (Hebrews 10-13).  “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” ().  Will you be at your welcome home party?
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Butterfly Wing Veins Are Not in Vain     05/23/2010    
May 23, 2010 — Inventors made an artificial butterfly modeled on the tiger swallowtail.  First they made the wing without veins.  It didn’t fly as well as when they added veins like the real butterfly, according to a short video clip in an article on New Scientist.  The veined wing provided more lift.
    The inventors at Harvard’s microrobotics lab power their “butterfly-type ornithopter” or BTO with just a rubber band.  It’s the first flying insect replica that matches the real thing in size and weight, they said.  The article says their project has been published in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, DOI: 10.1088/1748-3182/5/2/026003.
It matches in weight with a rubber band.  Now try keeping the weight constant while providing constant flapping power from an energy source, and providing the ability to extract energy from the environment, remote sensing with compound eyes and elaborate coded olfactory senses, rapid-firing muscles, photonic crystals, articulating limbs, and the ability to reproduce with four-stage metamorphosis via a complex genetic coded transcription and translation system using thousands of molecular machines.  That will be the day Harvard can brag a little.  “Just like the real thing” the photo caption says next to a photo of a tiger swallowtail.  They’ve got to be kidding.  It’s nothing more than a cheap dime-store toy painted like a butterfly on the outside.  We’ll give them partial credit for learning something about wing veins having a purpose, and for avoiding mention of evolution.
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  An important paper on the worldwide fossil record and whether or not is shows evolution was analyzed in the 05/21/2004 entry.  Learn what the phrase “tweak space” means.

Venter Group Plagiarizes Genetic Code     05/22/2010    
May 22, 2010 — Is plagiarism a form of intelligent design?  We think of intelligent design in terms of God and creation, but in generic terms, I.D. only refers to purposeful, designed action by an agent – any agent, large or small, good or evil.  A planned murder, for instance, can be an evil form of intelligent design.  A forensic team can use design detection techniques to ferret out the evidence between death by murder over death by natural causes.  In the same way, an attorney general can determine, using design detection techniques, whether an ad campaign broke copyright laws, and a professor can discern whether a student borrowed someone else’s material to write a term paper.  The news is filled with dramatic announcements that Craig Venter’s lab has created an organism with the first “synthetic genome.”  How should this achievement, dramatic and groundbreaking though it is, be understood?
    Live Science headlined the story, “First Live Organism with Synthetic Genome Created.”  The word “created” was emphatic in the article; “the J. Craig Venter Institute says they have succeeded in creating the first living organism with a completely synthetic genome.”  It almost sounds like the lab created something entirely new from scratch – “artificial life.”  New Scientist even used religious overtones, dubbing it an “Immaculate Creation.”  A closer look, though, shows that the “synthetic genome” still used the 4-letter code of a living bacterium, and used its own transcription and translation machinery.  It would be a little like a programmer inserting a USB drive with a program into an existing computer; the computer has to have the operating system and software to recognize the code.  This is a far cry from making a computer with its own code and operating system, like the terms “artificial life” and “completely synthetic genome” imply.  Science Daily’s headline was a little more accurate, saying, “Scientists ‘Boot Up’ a Bacterial Cell With a Synthetic Genome,” but even then, Venter’s team relied on an operating system and coding system that was already defined.
    The Venter Institute found out some things about genomes by experience.  Notably, they are not very forgiving.  “Even a tiny inaccuracy could prevent the inert DNA from activating into a live bacterium, making accuracy paramount,” the Live Science article recounted.  “At one point, a single base pair mistake set the entire program back three months.”  The team also added panic code that would kill the organism if it left the lab, and took part in a bioethical review before the project.  “It’s part of an ongoing process that we’ve been driving, trying to make sure that the science proceeds in an ethical fashion, that we’re being thoughtful about what we do and looking forward to the implications to the future,” Venter said.
    Unlike surreptitious plagiarizers, the Venter Institute proudly planted watermarks in their genome.  “The researchers deliberately inserted four sequences of DNA that serve as watermarks so they could distinguish between the naturally occurring and synthetic bacteria,”  Live Science reported.  “The watermarks contain a code that translates DNA into English letters with punctuation, allowing the scientists to literally write messages with the genes.”  So what did they write?  The 46 researchers included their names, and the names of some famous scientists, “and a URL that anyone who deciphers the code can e-mail.”

Geneticists keep walking right into the I.D. trap.  Why don’t they acknowledge it?  If an alien civilization discovered Venter’s genome, and read the names, would they be justified in making an inference to design?  Of course.  Then why would they be forced, according to the rules of the NCSE and the Darwin Party, to say that the explanation for the genetic code itself is blind chance and necessity?  A message is a message.  A function is a function.  If the function of a URL is to allow a human to send an email, and the function of a signal transduction system is to send a hormone to a chromosome to stop or start transcription of a gene, what’s the difference?  These are both examples of messages that carry out functions.  Are we to assume that Venter’s lab found it worthwhile to plagiarize chaos?  That would be like a professor giving a student an F for turning in a term paper that plagiarized gibberish.
    Another lesson from this story is to avoid news media hype.  This is an incremental step, not a breakthrough.  Geneticists have been doing genetic engineering for years, including genetic watermarking.  Scientists have inserted genes for insulin in bacteria, and genes for spider silk in goats.  Venter’s lab has taken existing genes from bacteria and performed some reverse engineering on it, then inserted it back into the hardware of a living cell.  Any way you look at it, it’s intelligent design.  Venter, your work owes nothing to the Darwin Party and its ideology.  Get on board with the I.D. Movement and give credit where credit is due.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsBiomimeticsIntelligent DesignPolitics and Ethics
May 22, 2010 – Science has become the de facto authority in our culture, but it has feet of clay.  Despite its obvious successes in technology, science has left us with fundamental questions in every area it tries to explain – physics, cosmology, biology, evolution – that cast serious doubt on science’s grasp on external reality.  These can be seen in leaps in the dark like the multiverse hypothesis and the anthropic principle that bring scientists kicking and screaming back to the need for a supreme being as an alternative to chaos.  But who is the intelligent designer?  Has he not communicated to us?  For Christians and Jews, the Bible is that communication, and it opens with the book of Genesis.  Despised and rejected by science of our day, Genesis stands unequaled in literature, awaiting serious, scholarly and respectful evaluation.
    That evaluation has been provided in a book by 14 Bible scholars who take Genesis seriously.  Coming to Grips with Genesis (Master Books, 2008) counters the rationalist and old-earth compromise positions with a fresh defense of the conservative interpretation of Genesis 1-11 from literary, theological, internal and historical evidence.  Edited by Dr. Terry Mortenson (PhD in the history of geology), and Dr. Thane Hutcherson Ury (PhD, systematic theology), with a foreword by Dr. John MacArthur, this book contains chapters analyzing the verbs of Genesis 1, the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, the theology of death and natural evil before Adam’s sin, the teachings of Jesus regarding Adam and a young earth, and other topics defending the historical view of creation and the global Flood accepted by Jesus, the apostles and the church since ancient times.  See table of contents on Old Testament Studies.  The book makes a good complement to Earth’s Catastrophic Past (Resource of the Week for 01/16/2010) on the scientific evidence.  Available from Answers in Genesis or Amazon.com.
Next resource of the week:  05/15/2010.  All resources: Catalog.

Should Darwin Get a Pass in Science Class?     05/21/2010    
May 21, 2010 — In many public school science classrooms today, Darwinism is taught uncritically as a scientific fact.  Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) defends that practice, and Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute (DI) contests it.  This month the two in their own venues argued their points of view, and another educator weighed in on a larger issue about science education.
    In Nature,1 Scott wrote a book review of How Science Works: Evolution. A Student Primer by R. John Ellis (Springer, 2010).  The phrase “How science works” is often one of her own catch-phrases, so it would seem she would warm up to this pro-Darwin book, but she had some criticisms.  “The public misunderstands and mistrusts the scientific explanation of evolution more than any other branch of research, particularly in the United States,” she began.  She thought Ellis did a pretty good job explaining how science works: “Students learn about testing multiple hypotheses, reliance on natural causes, the open-endedness of science, its lack of dogmatism and the function of peer review and replicating results.”  But she got a little nervous when he went overboard on his naturalism: “

He contrasts naturalism – the ideology that only the physical universe exists, operating “according to inbuilt, unvarying regularities” – with supernaturalism, the view that non-physical “active agents” interact with the physical world.  Religion, “the belief in some superhuman controlling power or powers”, is a subset of the latter, he writes.  Ellis distinguishes between the methodological and philosophical aspects of naturalism, but regularly conflates it with science, which is not an ideology.
Scott also had problems with his “uneven” definitions of evolution.  She thinks he gave short shrift to common ancestry.  He defined evolution as “change in genetic composition of populations with time,” hardly a phrase pregnant with images of bacteria to man.  She thought his definition of homology also left the reader with the “wrong impression that homology is merely anatomical similarity.”  This book review, therefore, shows Scott’s views remain the same as when she debated Phillip Johnson in the 1980s: Science is not an ideology, the rules of science require methodological naturalism, the only methodologically naturalistic view of biology available is Darwinian evolution, because it does not involve supernaturalism, therefore we must teach Darwin in the schools and keep out creationism and intelligent design.  Scott’s last paragraph says all the reader needs to know about her views, by the company she prefers.  “It is welcome when scientists explain evolution to the public.  But for a better introduction to the topic I would recommend Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True (Viking, 2009), Richard Dawkins’s The Greatest Show on Earth (Free Press, 2009), Donald Prothero’s Evolution (Columbia University Press, 2007) and Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish (Pantheon, 2008).”
    Casey Luskin begs to differ.  Students benefit from hearing Darwinism taught scientifically, he said (i.e., with critical thinking), and he wrote a new paper to support it.  The paper, based on a presentation he gave last fall at the University of St. Thomas, has been published in the university’s Journal of Law & Public Policy,2  The paper made three points summarized by Luskin on Evolution News & Views:
  1. The inquiry method of teaching science stresses process over content.
  2. There are no legal obstacles to teaching scientific critiques of prevailing theories.
  3. There is ample evidence of controversy in evolutionary literature.
The full paper can be downloaded as a PDF file from the Discovery Institute website.
    Luskin got support for his thesis from an unexpected source – Science magazine, usually a staunchly pro-Darwin, pro-NCSE source.  Last month, Jonathan Osborne (School of Education, Stanford University) wrote a review article entitled, “Arguing to Learn in Science: The Role of Collaborative, Critical Discourse,”3 in which he said basically the same thing: students benefit by learning the process of debate about controversial subjects – including evolution.
Argument and debate are common in science, yet they are virtually absent from science education.  Recent research shows, however, that opportunities for students to engage in collaborative discourse and argumentation offer a means of enhancing student conceptual understanding and students’ skills and capabilities with scientific reasoning.  As one of the hallmarks of the scientist is critical, rational skepticism, the lack of opportunities to develop the ability to reason and argue scientifically would appear to be a significant weakness in contemporary educational practice.  In short, knowing what is wrong matters as much as knowing what is right.  This paper presents a summary of the main features of this body of research and discusses its implications for the teaching and learning of science.
Osborne goes on to say that argumentation is not peripheral to the practice of science, but “core to its practice, and without argument and evaluation, the construction of reliable knowledge would be impossible.”  In education, however, scientific explanations are given with the presumption that they are true.  Students are not being given the opportunity to experience how claims are supported by evidence, warrants, and qualifiers, and subjected to counter-claims, rebuttals and counter-arguments.  “Consequently, science can appear to its students as a monolith of facts, an authoritative discourse where the discursive exploration of ideas, their implications, and their importance is absent,” Osborne lamented.  “Students then emerge with naïve ideas or misconceptions about the nature of science itself,” even though the AAAS and National Research Council endorse the value of argumentation in learning science.
    This is all fine and good, but surely Osborne is not referring to evolution, is he?  Aren’t all educators and scientists insistent that evolution is a scientific fact, about which there is no reason to argue?
The study of reasoning also offers an opportunity to explore the types of arguments used in science, which may be abductive (inferences to the best possible explanation), such as Darwin’s arguments for the theory of evolution; hypothetico-deductive, such as Pasteur’s predictions about the outcome of the first test of his anthrax vaccine; or simply inductive generalizations archetypal represented by “laws.”
Osborne pointed out that students find classroom teaching that emphasizes argumentation skills much more engaging, too.  He ended by arguing that science education cannot be separated from matters of epistemology: “research has demonstrated that teaching students to reason, argue, and think critically will enhance students’ conceptual learning.  This will only happen, however, if students are provided structured opportunities to engage in deliberative exploration of ideas, evidence, and argument—in short, how we know what we know, why it matters, and how it came to be.
1.  Eugenie Scott, “Back to basics by way of evolution,” Nature Volume: 465, 164, 13 May 2010, doi:10.1038/465164a.
2.  Casey Luskin, “The Constitutional and Pedagogical Benefits of Teaching Evolution Scientifically,” University of St.  Thomas Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. IV(1):204-277 (Fall, 2009).
3.  Jonathan Osborne, “Arguing to Learn in Science: The Role of Collaborative, Critical Discourse,” Science23 April 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5977, pp. 463 - 466, DOI: 10.1126/science.1183944.
The problem with Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education is that she never received a good science education.  She got a defective education from the triumphalist Julian Huxley era when logical positivism was in swing and Darwinism was presented as a done deal.  That was before Quine and Kuhn and Feyerabend upset all the applecarts; Lakatos, Laudan, van Fraasen and many others undermined everything we thought we understood about “how science works.”  Even Osborne’s short list begs many questions about scientific reasoning – i.e., what is meant by a law of nature?  Scott is living in the 1940s and needs a refresher course in how science works.  She needs to learn about abductive reasoning (used extensively by Stephen Meyer in Signature in the Cell).  She also needs a refresher course in logic so that she does not make self-refuting statements, like stating the ideology that methodological naturalism is not an ideology, or claiming that science cannot refer to the supernatural, but then employing reason to make that claim, when reason is not made of particles or forces, and refers to logical truths that are universal, timeless, necessary and certain.
    Eugenie Scott needs to go take classes in Philosophy of Science and Elementary Logic, particularly in how not to be inconsistent.  Her definition of science includes testing multiple hypotheses, as long as the hypothesis selection process can exclude ones she doesn’t like.  Her science is fine with natural causes, as long as she can dip into the supernatural causes she needs, like logic and reason.  Her science is open-ended, as long as she can close off the ends she doesn’t like.  Her science lacks dogmatism, as long as she can be dogmatic about the parts she wants to be dogmatic about.  Her science is fine with peer review, as long as the pool of peers is protected against the peers she doesn’t like.  Her science is fine with replicating results, as long as she doesn’t have to replicate the parts she can’t, like universal common descent.  Her science believes in following the rules of “how science works,” as long as she and her totalitarian Darwin Party hacks get to make the rules.  Is this the kind of shallow, uninformed, naïve, partisan, illogical thinking that should be representing science education at school boards?  Do a good deed for your country: send the NCSE back to school.
Next headline on:  EducationDarwin and Evolution
A Hairy Evolution Story     05/20/2010    
May 20, 2010 — A mammal hair was found in amber.  It is claimed to be 100 million years old, but it is identical to modern mammal hair.  What is the meaning of this find?  How should it be interpreted?  It may say more about the modern evolutionist than about evolution itself.
    New Scientist told the story.  The title read like a crime scene: “CSI 100 million years BC: oldest mammalian hair found.”  Romain Vullo at the University of Rennes I in France discovered the hair in a piece of amber (petrified tree sap) in southern France.  This is the oldest sample of mammal hair ever found, the article said.
    Reporter Shanta Barley explained right off the bat that the evidence is plain and simple: “The scales on the hair – which provide its protective waterproof cover – are identical to those found on the hairs of mammals walking the Earth today.”  She reinforced the point later: “It turns out that the pattern is identical to that found on modern mammalian hair: rows of overlapping scales stacked on top of each other in an orderly fashion, with each row roughly 2 to 8 micrometres high.”
    The scientists examining the hair had a little fun imagining what the animal was and how it died.  It might have been a small opossum-like animal, and it might have been running up a tree when it got stuck in the tree sap.  “Interpreting the ancient ‘crime scene’ where the hair’s owner died is fraught with difficulties,” Barley noted.  What’s really noteworthy is how to explain the hair being identical to modern hair after 100 million years of evolutionary time.  That’s where Vullo should have closed his mouth, because he just won Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: “Perhaps mammalian hair does its job so well that it does not need to evolve.
Once upon a time, children, Hairy and Skinny were clinging to Mr. Opossum in the mystic forest.  Skinny looked at the fantastic array of dinosaurs, birds, mammals and reptiles around him, and thought, “I’m so plain and skinny.  I really need to reach my potential.  I need to stretch and learn new things.  Someday I’ll become covering for a whale or an elephant.  I’ll be a fat hippopotamus and develop my own sunscreen (05/25/2004).  I’ll cover fantastic creatures large and small.  My sensors will become so fine, they will rapidly move along the strings of musical instruments, and cover the scalps of philosophers!”  Hairy just laughed at all this.  “You dreamers and visionaries,” he said, “you always have your head in the clouds.  Don’t you realize how many mutations you are going to have to suffer through to wait for those things to emerge?”  Skinny sighed, deflated at the prospect.  “You should be like me,” Hairy said.  “I don’t worry.  I do my job so well, I don’t need to evolve!”
    Cut, print, publish.  That’s genius.  That’s the thinking of a real scientist.  Children, aren’t you glad we have scientists to entertain us with stories of how we got here?
Next headline on:  FossilsMammalsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
  If explaining wings once is a challenge for Darwinists, how can they explain insect wings re-evolving multiple times?  Feel their pain in the 05/28/2003 entry.

How Science Is Done: Upsetting Applecarts     05/19/2010    
May 19, 2010 — Hardly a week goes by without some scientific finding upsetting an applecart – a long-held belief.  Often, those beliefs are scientific theories taught in textbooks by science professors.  Defenders of science say that this is the way science works.  It’s a self-correcting process, they argue; it’s to be expected that new data will lead to adjustments to theories.  Is that true, or a marketing spin?  How would anyone tell?  Some examples might help.  Here are some recent scientific applecarts that have been upset, according to the news and science journals.

  1. Standard candles – Not:  Supernovas are the standard candles astronomers use for measuring vast distances in space.  At first there was one type, then two.  Then astronomers found sub-types within those.  Now, according to Space.com, “Two faint supernovas unlike any star explosions ever seen before may have exploded in the same way, or they may differ, but in either case are breaking down categories that distinguish one type of stellar death from another.”
  2. Water from the rock:  Numerous TV documentaries about the history of Planet Earth have shown the oceans coming special delivery from comets.  Now, Science Daily is claiming that a new study using silver isotopes “indicates that water and other key volatiles may have been present in at least some of Earth’s original building blocks, rather than acquired later from comets, as some scientists have suggested.”  But then, that explanation conflicts with dating of Earth’s crust from hafnium and tungsten.  To solve the puzzle, the scientists appealed to a model of planet formation called “heterogeneous accretion,” the article said.  This solution ads whatever hoc is necessary to get the two results together.
  3. Insights into speciation, or outsights?  Science Daily reported on work by Jeffrey Feder at U of Notre Dame that contradicts a “prevailing assumption” about speciation.  His work “conflicts with current thinking” and he claims that “past work on the genomics of speciation lacked experimental data” despite being the main subject of Charles Darwin’s book 150 years ago.
  4. Back to the Easter Island drawing board:  You know those roads on Easter Island?  They weren’t for transporting the large statues (moai).  They were built for ceremonial purposes, reported PhysOrg.  “The find will create controversy among the many archaeologists who have dedicated years to finding out exactly how the moai were moved, ever since Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl first published his theory in 1958.”  This team accused Heyerdahl of being “so swayed by his cast iron belief that the roads were for transportation – he completely ignored them.”  But then, are we sure about today’s claims?  Dr. Colin Richards said, “The truth of the matter is, we will never know how the statues were moved.”
  5. Dinosaur demotion:  A dinosaur got demoted to primitive pre-dinosaur reptile.  According to Science Daily, Azendohsaurus madagaskarensis is not a dinosaur, and never was a dinosaur.  It’s now “a member of Archosauromorpha, a group that includes birds and crocodilians but not lizards, snakes, or turtles.”  They figured this out by analyzing the whole skull, not just the jaws and teeth.
        John J. Flynn, curator in the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, commented on the reclassification and reinterpretation of this specimen.  “This is the way science works,” he said.  But in the next breath, he revealed that the new interpretation drew on a theory-rescuing device called convergent evolution – explaining similar features in unrelated lineages by saying they both hit on the same solution independently.  “As we found and analyzed more material, it made us realize that this was a much more primitive animal and the dinosaur-like features were really the product of convergent evolution,” he said.  As if to take the edge off that line, his colleague Andre Wyss added a cheerful note: “In many ways Azendohsaurus ends up being a much more fantastic animal than if it simply represented a generic early dinosaur.
        Behind him, though, was a can of worms the reclassification opened.  Archosaurs were thought to be primarily carnivorous before now.  “Now there are many more cases of herbivorous archosaurs.” Wynn said.  “We are rethinking the evolution of diet and feeding strategies, as well as the broader evolution of the group.”  See also the Science Daily article.
  6. Two inflations are better than one:  Inflation theory was invented in the early 1980s to solve some conundrums in cosmology.  Since the idea caught on, it has undergone several transmogrifications.  Now, there is apparently a need for a “second inflation” reported Rachel Courtland in New Scientist.  Some scientists at the University of Heidelberg have brought in a “little inflation” to cover up additional conundrums caused by the first inflation.  The idea has the sound of epic myth, or at least of a whoosh of hand-waving.  Last sentence: “It just shows that the story might not be as simple as we think.”
  7. Google lab:  Citizen scientists can perform their own experiment by doing a search on science news sites for the phrases, “than thought” and “than previously thought”.  For instance, PhysOrg reported this week that scientists now believe “The Earth’s mantle flows far more rapidly around a sinking tectonic plate than previously thought, according to new computer modeling by UC Davis geologists.”  (Ditto on Live Science.)  A quick search on the CEH search bar turned up 130 hits on these phrases used over the years.  Variations of the phrase can add to the collection, like this one on Science Daily about genetic secrets that are coming to light and changing views about “genomic dark matter” that “were once thought of as nothing more than ’junk DNA.’”  The phrases suggest the sound of applecarts turning over.
Upsetting applecarts is the way science is done, we are told.  Hopefully quite a few of them are getting upset from upside-down or sideways into the right-side-up position.  If the total number of applecarts in the right-side-up position is increasing over time, defenders of scientific progress have a case.  They are clearly right for the instances where practical payoffs are visible to everyone: either a rocket gets to a planet, or it does not; either a signal makes it across the ocean, or it doesn’t.  But for scientific theories with no clear payoff, like theories about stellar life cycles, planet formation, black holes and evolutionary common ancestry, how can anyone tell if scientists are fixing more applecarts than they are turning upside down?  What is the metric to show they are faring better than a randomly-selected population of clever storytellers could do, given each had a fairly good understanding of the data and physical parameters involved?
In the early days of the scientific revolution, science was not a profession – it was an avocation.  Many early scientists earned degrees, and some taught in universities, but many did their experimental work as a hobby because they loved nature, they loved truth, and wanted to figure things out (browse our online biographies and see).  Undoubtedly many in the scientific community maintain that idealism, but there are good reasons to doubt it is universal.  The professionalization and institutionalization of science has led to some distasteful consequences: tenure, political groveling for funding, good-old-boys clubs, networking, going along to get along, and more (see lists in the 05/13/2010 and 04/02/2010 commentaries).  What motivation do some career scientists have to “get the world right”?  They’ve got tenure; they’ve got a grant; they’ve got grad students they have to keep busy doing something; they have the respect of their peers.  Like Pilate, they can sneer, “What is truth?”.  That’s of little concern in the humdrum of keeping the status quo going, looking busy, dealing with each year’s batch of students, and pumping out an occasional paper with grad students doing the hard work.  They know the news media will pick up whatever they say as the latest manna from heaven, a breakthrough that sheds light on whatever and brings us Understanding.  You might enjoy browsing through PhD Comics for a humorous inside look at academia.  It’s to the idealism of science what Dilbert is to free enterprise.
    Happily, many scientists are noble-minded, motivated, serious-minded people of integrity.  But they are that way in spite of the many distractions that pull them toward mediocrity or business as usual.  Announcing each finding as a revelation that overturns previously-held beliefs plays on the short memories of people.  In the short term, it sounds like scientists are making progress.  It keeps hope alive that science is converging on the truth about the world.  We must not be so naïve as to think that is necessarily true.  Like our commentaries have said, not all motion is progress; sometimes it is just commotion – in this case, turning applecarts upside down, only to turn other ones right-side up, with no net gain in upright carts, but a lot of spilled apples.
    One area where science can contribute to progress is in the collection and refinement of raw data.  Speculation thrives in the absence of data.  Space missions like Cassini, Herschel and MESSENGER, orbiters like Aviris and MLS that refine our measurements of climate, the Human Genome Project and mapping genomes of other organisms, deep sea submarine robot explorations, ever-increasing resolution in microscopy – these at least provide the detail that can constrain speculation.  We sometimes confuse progress in data collection with progress in scientific understanding.  They are not one and the same.  In the recent Titan story (05/16/2010), we saw that Cassini has mapped 22% of Titan’s surface with radar – a fantastic scientific achievement.  It does not necessarily follow that scientists understand how Titan formed or how old it is.  What the data collection does is put some welcome shackles on the imaginations of storytellers.  With fewer applecarts to upset, and more apples in the bag, hopefully there will be less moldy applesauce on the ground.
Next headline on:  Stars and AstronomyPhysicsSolar SystemDarwin and EvolutionFossilsDinosaurs
Mt. St. Helens Recalls Overturned Paradigms     05/18/2010    
May 18, 2010 — Thirty years ago this day, May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens blew up.  The catastrophic eruption not only shocked the area around the mountain, it shocked scientists into a new realization of the power of catastrophist geology.  The excitement of that eruption prompted a surge of young new geologists to enter the profession.  One thing that is instructive on this anniversary is the difference in focus between creationists and evolutionists on the lessons of Mt. St. Helens.
    Live Science provided the most coverage of the anniversary.  For starters, Live Science posted a series of satellite images showing the vicinity of the mountain before and after the eruption, and how it looks now, 30 years later.  The amount of vegetation that has recolonized the ground is striking.  Live Science also provided an image gallery of pictures before and after the eruption.  The first image shows the picturesque symmetrical cone of the mountain from Spirit Lake before the event; all that changed suddenly the morning of May 18, as the remaining pictures show.  National Geographic soon followed with its own gallery; the first two photos are worth the price of admission.  Karen Rowan answered the question “Why was Mt. St. Helens so destructive?” in another Live Science post.
    Considering the ecological effects of the event, Andrea Thompson on Live Science provided a fairly lengthy inventory of the plants and animals in the blast zone with a record of how they have fared since the eruption.  Jeremy Hsu wrote for Live Science that Mt. St. Helens remains a mystery still today.  Finally, Remy Melina listed for Live Science the most dangerous U.S. volcanoes today.
    Those acquainted with creation geology literature are undoubtedly familiar with the fact that Mt. St. Helens has become almost iconic of catastrophism as a support for rapid change during creation and the Flood.  The work of geologist Dr. Stephen A. Austin in particular has had a large influence in creationist circles.  Dr. Austin visited the mountain numerous times after the eruption, and even took a team scuba-diving in Spirit Lake to study the effects of waterlogged trees sinking in the peat sediments at the bottom.  Some of the lessons from Mt. St. Helens for catastrophic flood geology were summarized in his 1986 monograph, “Mt. St. Helens and Catastrophism,” published by ICR.  He also produced a video (see short clip on YouTube) and additional writings in creation journals.  His findings include:
  1. A mudflow produced a 1/40th scale model of the Grand Canyon in one day.
  2. This canyon included a relict river that obviously had not formed the canyon.
  3. The canyon included side canyons and other features similar to those of the Grand Canyon.
  4. Pyroclastic flows produced laminated sedimentary deposits in hours, not centuries or millennia.
  5. The sedimentary deposits showed sudden shifts in bedforms caused by flow rates and source materials, not by long ages.
  6. Badlands topography along the Toutle River was formed in days, not thousands of years.
  7. Logs uprooted by the blast were being planted in upright positions at the bottom of Spirit Lake, giving the appearance they had grown in that position.  This was reminiscent of the Yellowstone fossil forests.
  8. A layer of peat buried in Spirit Lake has the texture and appearance of a coal deposit forming.
Discoveries of this magnitude would seem to be paradigm-shifting to the whole field of geology – and indeed they may have been even in some secular circles.  It’s not that his work can be dismissed outright, either, just because Austin is a creationist.  He has a PhD in geology from a reputable institution, and his field work at the mountain was of the first order.  But strangely, Nature News mentioned none of these things.  Janet Fang wrote in her article, “Hot science from a volcanic crisis,” that “The eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980 left an indelible mark on the field of volcanology.”  Indeed it did, but her focus was entirely on other lessons.  She noted that volcanologists around the world stood up and took notice on May 18, 1980, and after the blast, there was an explosion in funding and a surge in research.  Fang mentioned findings about predicting eruptions.  She mentioned a new kind of hummocky deposit that was observed after the blast that shed light on similar deposits in Japan.  She mentioned new theories about how magma rises to the surface through conduits, and new realizations of the power of landslides and lateral blasts during eruptions.  But she said nothing about any of the points that Steve Austin found so interesting about Mt. St. Helens.  Neither did the writers for Live Science or National Geographic.  Were they even looking at the same mountain?
    For Austin’s latest views on the lessons from the blast, see his article this month on ICR, “Supervolcanoes and the Mount St. Helens Eruption.”  Creation Wiki has a response to criticisms of his claim about the “mini-Grand Canyon” at the volcano, with additional images of the canyon.
The complete silence about Steven Austin’s research at Mt. St. Helens by the secular media is stunning.  Is it because his credentials are lacking?  No; he has a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.  Is it because his field work was unexceptional?  No; he was the only one to don scuba gear and dive to the bottom of Spirit Lake, and use sonar to map the lake bottom.  Is it because his findings with the canyons and stratification lacked significance?  No; they were revolutionary and explanatorily rich.  They have been well received in creationist audiences around the world, but completely passed over by the secular journals, although Austin has a number of colleagues in the Geological Society of America that have taken interest in his work and spoken well of it.  So much of this phenomenon is political.  If you are an overt creationist, as Austin is, it doesn’t matter how good your credentials and field work are.  You will be shunned by The Guild, but welcomed by millions of people who appreciate honest science that is willing to criticize Darwin and Lyell.
    Your commentator remembers visiting Yellowstone in the 1970s and early 1980s and seeing the interpretive signs at the Lamar River fossil forests.  They spoke of 27 layers of forests that grew on top of one another over at least 20 thousand years.  According to some estimates, it took 50 thousand years, maybe 100 thousand for each layer to develop: a soil to form, small plants to invade, trees to grow, a mature forest to develop, then a volcanic eruption to bury the forest and the cycle to repeat again.  Large sequoia stumps are visible in some of the layers.  The standard scientific interpretation was that here was clear evidence of a long passage of a time--much longer than the book of Genesis could allow.  You recall that it was this evidence that caused young Ronald Numbers in college to stumble and lose his creationist beliefs (01/12/2007).  Theistic evolutionists also used the Yellowstone fossil forests to mock the young-earth creationists and insist there was no way to fit earth history into a six-day creation.  Look: the evidence was right there – tens of thousands of years to form those 27 layers of forests.
    Your commentator also remembers re-visiting Yellowstone in 1994 and finding those interpretive signs gone.  Puzzled, he asked three different park rangers about them.  “Oh, we don’t believe that any more,” was the typical response.  “Ever since Mt. St. Helens, we”ve come to believe that lava flows rafted the trees in from some distance away.”  Then, your commentator picked up a book in the visitor center, Roadside Geology of the Yellowstone Country by William J. Fritz (Mountain Press, 1985).  Sure enough, he said the same thing:
When I visited the Mount St. Helens area shortly after the eruption, it was just like Yellowstone!  I found many horizontal logs all lined up by the streams and mudflows and some upright stumps that had been moved by the flows propped upon the stubs of their roots.  I found that about 10 percent of the transported trees remain as upright stumps, the rest as horizontal logs.  The mudflows also buried many standing trees where they grew along the edges of stream channels.  Thus, in Yellowstone when you find concentrations of over 10 percent upright stumps, some were preserved where they grew alongside stream channels.  A few million years from now when the Mount St. Helens sediments have hardened into rock and the trees have petrified they will be almost like those in the Yellowstone Country.  Both the mudflows and the appearance of the trees is identical.
Aside from the fact that Dr. Fritz just made some reckless drafts on the bank of time, and that petrification does not require millions of years (01/24/2005), he recognized that a paradigm shift occurred – the Yellowstone fossil forests did not require successive ages.  A catastrophic event is a better explanation.  Now we have eyewitness observations to show how.  You can hike the trails up into the Lamar forests and find both upright and horizontal logs that are analogous to what were seen at Mt. St. Helens.  The stumps have their roots sheared off, and no evidence that they grew in soils.  A good analysis of the evidence can be found in geologist Harold Coffin’s book Origin by Design (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1983), ch. 11.  The theistic evolutionists were wrong; you can fit the evidence at Yellowstone in to a lot less time than the secular geologists claimed.  Does it prove a Biblical time frame?  No, but it doesn’t rule it out, either.  Ron Numbers lost his faith over bad science, and 30 years after Mt. St. Helens, the secular geological community have turned a blind eye to some of the most exciting lessons from the famous eruption.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating Methods
Like Magic: Spiders Convert Fluid to Steel-Strong Silk     05/17/2010    
May 17, 2010 — How do they do it?  Spiders spin their webs with such ease, but scientists know they are working a kind of material magic.  Inside the storage sac, the proteins act like a fluid.  Outside the spinnerets, that fluid turns into a structural rope that is stronger than steel, but elastic enough to absorb the energy of an insect.  They would sure like to imitate that feat.  Some steps toward understanding the transformation from liquid to strong fiber were announced in Nature this week, and summarized on Science Daily.
    The trick goes all the way down to the molecular level.  The proteins line up in the liquid state in such a way that their cross-bridges are unable to form the strong, taut chains that will characterize the silks in the spider web.  Once the liquid goo enters the reaction chamber, the salinity changes, the pH changes and the pressure changes.  Strong shear forces are set up.  This breaks salt bridges and allows the molecules to realign.  “The long protein chains are aligned in parallel, thus placing the areas responsible for interlinking side by side,” Science Daily reported.  Presto: “The stable spider silk fiber is formed.”  Like magic, this all happens in split seconds.  The spinneret is quicker than the eye.  In one of the papers in Nature,1 the scientists said, “Our study provides an important stepping-stone for further understanding of the remarkably fine-tuned process of spider silk formation.”  The other paper discussed the “controlled switching between the storage and assembly forms of silk proteins” that prevent premature aggregation and denaturation, such that they can be “transformed into extremely stable fibres on demand.”2
    Scientists can hardly wait to learn how the trick is done.  “The potential applications are countless, from resorbable surgical suture material to technical fibers for the automotive industry.”  Most people probably never dreamed that the spiders in their garden held such secrets to a bright future.
1.  Askarieh et al, “Self-assembly of spider silk proteins is controlled by a pH-sensitive relay,” Nature 465, 236-238 (13 May 2010), doi:10.1038/nature08962.
2.  Hagn et al, “A conserved spider silk domain acts as a molecular switch that controls fibre assembly,” Nature 465, 239-242 (13 May 2010), doi:10.1038/nature08936.
This is just another in a long-running series about spider silk.  It highlights a common theme: the wonders of nature – things all around us – are more amazing than we imagine.  Understanding their design (not their presumed evolution, a useless distraction*) is the key to scientific advancement and progress – measured in ways that can enrich our lives.
*Only one of the papers in Nature even mentioned evolution – and that was to say, “The overall dimeric structure and observed charge distribution of NT is expected to be conserved through spider evolution and in all types of spidroins.”  Conserved means un-evolved.  The paper had a lot to say about structure and function, though.  Evolutionary theory contributed absolutely nothing to the research.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
  Cool bird tricks from last year: 05/19/2009.

Titan Continues to Surprise Saturn Scientists     05/16/2010    
May 16, 2010 — Since reaching Saturn in 2004, the Cassini spacecraft has now made 68 flybys of Titan, the large smog-shrouded moon.  Space.com highlighted a recent picture showing the rings appearing to bisect the moon.  What are some of the latest findings of this alien world – the only moon in the solar system with a substantial atmosphere?
    Space.com reported on work by scientists at the University of Louisiana to determine whether there is lightning in Titan’s atmosphere.  Evidence was tantalizing but not certain from the Huygens probe in 2005.  “So far, the only world where lightning is 100 percent confirmed is Earth,” said Andi Petculescu, professor of physics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
    Now that 22 percent of Titan’s surface has been mapped in radar, scientists at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Tucson in Arizona are trying to get a handle on Titan’s crater count, reported PhysOrg and Space.com.  So far they have only identified 5 certain impact craters, and 44 probable candidate craters.  That is surprising for such a large world.  By end of mission (2017) scientists should have 50% of the surface mapped in radar.
    Another story on Space.com reported that the interior of Titan appears to be slushy inside.  Scientists infer from gravitational tugs on the spacecraft that Titan lacks a hard core.  Inferring the nature of the interior required measuring changes in spacecraft speed on the order of five thousandths of a millimeter per second, the article said.  Assuming the interior is as they believe, they think Titan must have built up “rather slowly for a moon, in perhaps around a million years or so, back soon after the formation of the solar system.”  National Geographic also reported this story in March and printed a larger picture of the cutaway artwork of Titan’s interior.  The finding was “really quite a surprise” according to one team member because it suggests that Titan had a very different history than Ganymede, a similar-size moon of Jupiter.
    Some Utah scientists found similarities to their home state in Titan’s landscape.  PhysOrg said last March that Cassini scientists found karst-like landscape in the radar images that “suggests there is a lot happening right now under the surface that we can’t see.”  Liquid methane may take the place of water flowing under the surface.  The article includes a short video flyover of some of Titan’s “canyon country” compared with similar terrain in Utah.
    One of the most unusual findings announced recently is that Titan’s river channels may be studded with gems.  JPL’s Cassini page announced a rock-n-roll feature this month: Titan may act as a “gem tumbler”  Large ice boulders like the ones seen by the Huygens Probe may tumble down channels of liquid methane for hundreds of miles.  Like pebbles on earth, which get rounded by the friction of a streambed, these ice boulders may end up as sparkling spheres of ice 1 to 8 inches in diameter.  “The effect would be similar to bejeweling an area with light-catching rhinestones.”  This may be the explanation for the brightness of the land of Xanadu on Titan – a mysterious region brighter than the rest of the moon.
    Each month a Cassini scientist makes a detailed presentation on some aspect of the science returns of the mission in a series called CHARM: “Cassini-Huygens Analysis and Results of the Mission.”  The April presentation by Christophe Sotin, Titan: the Moon that Would Be a Planet (PDF) included comparisons of Titan to Earth and Mars.  Sotin reiterated the problem of maintaining Titan’s atmosphere for billions of years.  Slide 9 says, “Without the greenhouse effect caused by methane, the surface temperature would be around 70 K.”  Slide 13 states that the methane irreversibly transforms into ethane.  “If there is no replenishment (from the interior or from meteorites), the methane would disappear, the greenhouse effect would vanish, the surface temperature would drop, and nitrogen would freeze,” Sotin said.  “All this would happen in less than 100 Myrs (likely 30 Myrs).”  What is the source of the methane?  Can it be replenished from the interior?  Slide 25 says that “No convincing evidence of active cryo-volcanoes has been found so far.”  It also notes, “The number of impact craters is small.  It suggests that Titan’s surface is young.”  Young could mean anything from 100 Myr to 3 billion years, he quickly stated, but even the upper estimate falls far short of the estimated time of Titan’s formation according to standard theory.  His last slide said the “Carbon cycle implies replenishment in methane,” but then said there’s no evidence for it: “Still lacking convincing evidence for cryovolcanic features.”
    It’s hard to find a news article on Titan without mention of life.  There is no life there, of course, but scientists often presume that the presence of carbon building blocks says something about the possibility of life emerging, even though the temperature is 290 degrees below zero, and there is no liquid water – usually considered a prerequisite.  This time there was some variety.  In the lightning article on Space.com Petculescu said, “Since Titan’s environment is not unlike that of pre-biotic Earth, further studies of lightning can shed light on life emergence not only on early Earth but also, possibly, on Titan itself.”  PhysOrg subtitled its article on crater counts with this line: “Impact craters found on Titan could help scientists determine the age of this Earth-like moon and its potential for life.”  But in the body of the story, it said, “But it’s no secret that Saturn’s largest moon is a very unfriendly place for life” primarily because of its temperature, which makes liquid water impossible.  The article later quoted the opinion of Charles Wood at LPL who said, “If it were warmer, you’d definitely think life existed there.”  Even without life on Titan, “Understanding the chemical processes on Titan may help scientists understand how life began on Earth billions of years ago,” the article said, even though the evidence so far is inconclusive about the geological prospects for life.
    William Bains of the Royal Astronomical Society didn’t need evidence to tell UK astronomers what he thinks of life on Titan.  It stinks.  Science Daily shared his opinions: “Hollywood would have problems with these aliens,” he said.  “Beam one onto the Starship Enterprise and it would boil and then burst into flames, and the fumes would kill everyone in range.  Even a tiny whiff of its breath would smell unbelievably horrible.  But I think it is all the more interesting for that reason.  Wouldn’t it be sad if the most alien things we found in the galaxy were just like us, but blue and with tails?” 

Yes, it would be sad.  Very sad.  Very sad that scientists get their science from Star Trek and Avatar instead of empirical lab work, like they should.
    The life angle is a distraction.  Nobody really believes there is life on Titan.  The L-word is the sexy girl standing next to the pickup truck that draws the public eye to an otherwise ugly, smoggy thing you would not give a second look.  Titan is fascinating in its own way, from a distance, but you wouldn’t want to live there.  Titan’s environment not unlike that of pre-biotic Earth?  Who are they kidding?  It’s vastly different.  We have water here.
    It’s also illogical to talk about “life emergence” from chemical constituents.  Life is more than its parts.  Why not talk about life on the sun?  After all, the sun has protons and electrons – look: the building blocks of life!  Oh yes, it’s a little hot there, but “understanding the chemical process on” the sun “may help scientists understand how life began on Earth billions of years ago.”  Pick any planet, moon, or location in the universe and you can play their silly game.
    The real story they have not addressed is the age question.  Once again we have seen them admit that Titan’s atmosphere is undergoing irreversible processes.  The methane keeps the nitrogen from freezing, but it is being depleted.  It should have rained down as ethane and formed oceans on the surface, but the surface is largely dry.  Try as they might, they cannot find clear evidence of outgassing to replenish the methane – and where are they going to dispose of the ethane, which should be a half mile thick over the whole moon?  There are also few craters.  None of this says Titan is very, very young, but it sure says Titan is likely not 4.5 billion years old.  If not that old, then many questions spring up, if not a whole new paradigm.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyOrigin of LifeDating Methods
May 15, 2010 – The blog Uncommon Descent is the “White Horse Inn” of the intelligent design movement.  Named in opposition to Darwin’s notion of universal common descent, UD brings together breaking news and comments by a variety of authors and writers on all aspects of intelligent design.  Founded by ID leader William Dembski, Uncommon Descent has become a hotspot for ID people, a refreshing counterpart to the liberal Darwinist blogs that the journals adore.
    You may or may not agree with everything you find on UD, but many of the opinions are informed with PhD-level academic clout.  You’ll find tips, links, humor, serious analysis, inside scoops and gossip that sometimes leads to long debates in the comments.  A fun read – after you’ve had your daily CEH fix.  This White Horse Inn on the internet might just contribute to another English reformation.
Next resource of the week:  05/01/2010.  All resources: Catalog.

If Humans Build DNA Machines, Is It Intelligent Design?     05/15/2010    
May 15, 2010 — Two teams have succeeded in building little robots that work on DNA tracks.  These resemble in many respects the machines that cells use to perform its functions on DNA.  No one denies that humans engineered their nanobots on purpose, but Darwinist scientists claim natural cellular machines evolved without purpose or design.  What’s the difference?
    Nature reported on work by two teams that built such DNA robots.  Lloyd Smith commented on these in the same issue as a kind of science fiction come true.1  He made it clear that these are information-rich systems:

There are several interesting concepts lurking in these papers. Lund et al. point out that macroscopic robots generally have to store a fair amount of information to provide “internal representations of their goals and environment and to coordinate sensing and any actuating of [their] components”.  Molecular robots, however, have limited ability to store such complex information.  In both devices, the motion of the walkers is thus programmed into the DNA surface, rather than into the walkers themselves.  Similarly, by setting the cargo-donating machines into predetermined loading or non-loading states, Gu et al. also use information stored in the walker’s environment to control the outcome of their system....
    Although both papers integrate DNA walkers with origami landscapes, they differ in one important respect.  Lund and colleagues’ device is autonomous – no external intervention is required for it to execute the program built into the system.  By contrast, Gu and colleagues’ device relies heavily on external interventions, most importantly the addition of new DNA strands to drive the movements of the walkers and the operation of the cargo-carrying DNA machines.  The reward for this lack of autonomy is greater complexity of behaviour: whereas Lund and colleagues’ robot is currently limited to walks along a path, Gu and colleagues’ robot can pick up cargo while walking, and can adopt eight states that correspond to different manufacturing possibilities.  Future work will seek to maintain autonomy while ramping up the attainable complexity of behaviour programmed into molecular systems.
    Although we remain far away from the possibilities imagined for nanotechnology by science fiction, it is inspiring nonetheless to see such creativity and rapid progress in the development of autonomous molecular systems that can execute complex actions.  This is undoubtedly a field to watch.

1.  Lloyd M. Smith, “Nanotechnology: Molecular robots on the move,” Nature 465, 167–168, 13 May 2010, doi:10.1038/465167a.
So if we do it, it’s intelligent design, but if nature does it, it’s blind evolution?  You realize, of course, that the natural machines in cells are far ahead of us: they are not only autonomous, but attain very complex behaviors that are programmed into their molecular systems.  Not only that, they belong to complexes of molecular machines, which belong to networks of signal processing systems, that boggle the mind – and they belong to entire systems that have a coded library, and can reproduce all their parts!  Why should not scientists find it “inspiring to see such creativity” of “autonomous molecular systems that can execute complex actions” and ascribe it to design?  Molecular biology should be filled with God-fearing, worshiping, praise-singing scientists shouting Hallelujah!  What we get instead are man-fearing, fault-finding, hate-mongering ingrates shouting Pal-Ayala (next entry).
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyBiomimeticsIntelligent Design
Media Continues to Denounce ID, Crown Darwin     05/14/2010    
May 14, 2010 — The news media and journals continue to publish one-sided statements against intelligent design (ID) – even though scientific evidence continues to support design on many fronts (see 05/11/2010, 05/07/2010, 05/06/2010 from just this past week).  Sometimes, in other venues, the kind of rhetoric employed would be characterized as hate speech.  These statements are usually printed without any opportunity for rebuttal.  Often the perpetrators make religious arguments rather than presenting scientific evidence for their claims.  Some of them even say ID is bad theology, and that religious institutions should ally with Darwinism against ID.  At the same time, they typically will never say anything critical of Darwinian evolution.  ID proponents are stuck with having to respond to these charges in their own websites and publications.  Here are some recent examples.
  1. John Avise in PNAS1 wrote a paper labeling ID as “religious creationism” but then used religious arguments in a science journal to attack it: i.e., “God wouldn’t make the world this way” –
    Intelligent design (ID)—the latest incarnation of religious creationism—posits that complex biological features did not accrue gradually via natural evolutionary forces but, instead, were crafted ex nihilo by a cognitive agent.  Yet, many complex biological traits are gratuitously complicated, function poorly, and debilitate their bearers.  Furthermore, such dysfunctional traits abound not only in the phenotypes but inside the genomes of eukaryotic species.  Here, I highlight several outlandish features of the human genome that defy notions of ID by a caring cognitive agent.  These range from de novo mutational glitches that collectively kill or maim countless individuals (including embryos and fetuses) to pervasive architectural flaws (including pseudogenes, parasitic mobile elements, and needlessly baroque regulatory pathways) that are endogenous in every human genome.  Gross imperfection at the molecular level presents a conundrum for the traditional paradigms of natural theology as well as for recent assertions of ID, but it is consistent with the notion of nonsentient contrivance by evolutionary forces.  In this important philosophical sense, the science of evolutionary genetics should rightly be viewed as an ally (not an adversary) of mainstream religions because it helps the latter to escape the profound theological enigmas posed by notions of ID.
    This paper was part of a lengthy series called the Sackler Colloquium, “In the Light of Evolution IV,” that was completely one-sided for Darwinism.  Not a single pro-ID position was invited, even though there is a long tradition of theological, philosophical and scientific positions answering the types of arguments Avise presented.  David Tyler presented a rebuttal to Avise’s position on the ID blog Access Research Network.
  2. Michael Zimmerman leapt for joy at Avise’s paper in the Huffington Post, saying, “In case you had any doubt, the last nail was just placed in the coffin of intelligent design (ID).  And, in case you had any doubt, that last nail joins many others that have been in place for quite some time.”  His article was entitled, “Intelligent Design: Scientifically and Religiously Bankrupt.”  Zimmerman is the activist behind the Clergy Letter Project, trying to get religious leaders to sign a statement in support of Darwinian evolution.  Robert Crowther compared his arguments to the Hindenberg on Evolution News & Views.
  3. Michael Ruse called ID an “oxymoron” and a “mountain of waffle resting on analogy” in The Guardian.  “Neither scientists nor believers should touch it,” he said.  Responding to Steve Fuller in The Guardian (a philosopher who has given ID a fair shake; see Uncommon Descent), Ruse called ID “very bad theology.”  Jay Richards wondered on Evolution News & Views why Ruse, a science philosopher and historian, thinks he is an expert on theology.  Casey Luskin also responded on Evolution News & Views, joking, “I love watching atheists try to tell religious people what they should believe about God.”
  4. Joshua Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) wrote for Science Blogs that ID and creationism is kind of like – believe it or not – postmodernism and Marxism.  This is a strange charge, considering that most proponents of ID or creationism would be adamantly opposed to both of those ideologies.  Robert Crowther on Evolution News & Views tried to straighten the picture right side up again.
  5. Francisco Ayala is a former Dominican priest turned evolutionary biologist.  One might think a person with religious roots would have a soft spot in his heart for thoughts of design in the world, but Ayala has been among the most harsh in his rhetoric against ID, calling ID an “atrocity” that is “disastrous to religion” among other things.  He even accused supporters of ID in the Discovery Institute of not really believing what they are saying.  He made these remarks recently in Spain (see Uncommon Descent for translation).  This set off a series of responses by ID supporters (see idnet.com.au response on Uncommon Descent and Barry Arrington on Uncommon Descent).
        Back in March, Ayala wrote a book review critical of Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell for BioLogos, the website of theistic evolutionist Francis Collins.  Ayala used the argument for dysteleology and suffering to call ID a form of “blasphemy” for attributing the human genome to the design of God.  David Klinghoffer complained on Evolution News & Views that Ayala apparently didn’t even bother to read Meyer’s book.  Klinghoffer later in March took Ayala again to task on ENV, and with him, Darrell Falk for allowing a slipshod review by a staunch evolutionist on the BioLogos website.
        Meanwhile, Francisco Ayala was welcomed by the National Academy of Sciences’ Sackler Colloquium, “In the Light of Evolution IV,” to present his opinions on the evolution of morality by Darwinian natural selection.  In his paper in PNAS,2 Ayala’s first sentence paid homage to Darwin’s Descent of Man (1871).  After dismissing theological explanations for morality, including those of Aquinas and Paley, he gave Darwin the pride of place.  He explained morality in purely mechanistic terms: as an “exaptation,” or unplanned consequence of natural selection for intelligence, that turned out to be advantageous.  In other words, morality is an impersonal, unplanned accident.  He gave the same explanation for human rationality.  It appears that Ayala repudiates any role for divine involvement for any of the unique features of the human psyche in any way, shape, or form; yet this is the man that BioLogos welcomed as a “a moderating influence in the science/religion dialog.”  Ayala also received this year’s Templeton Prize for progress in “affirming life’s spiritual dimension” – an honor once awarded to Billy Graham, Alexander Solzhenitzen, Chuck Colson, Bill Bright and Mother Theresa (see comment on CMI).
At the same time that supporters of intelligent design are struggling to get a fair hearing in the media against an onslaught of what they consider misrepresentation, ridicule and repudiation of their views without opportunity for rebuttal, Darwinists get free rein to pronounce evolution as simply obvious.  Claims of evidence for evolution are often exaggerated and presented uncritically, without opposing viewpoints, often accompanied by triumphal headlines that proclaim Darwinism has been overwhelmingly confirmed.  A good example of this occurred this week when Douglas Theobald, author of a pro-Darwin book, announced in Nature that a formal test confirmed Darwin’s theory of universal common ancestry.3  Mike Steel and David Penny quickly praised this “strong quantitative support” for Darwin’s theory in the same issue of Nature,4  “Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Theobald’s work,” they said, “is not the conclusion – common ancestry is the default view in science.  But a formal test of evolution itself requires considerable ingenuity.”  So Theobald got praise for his ingenuity in devising a test of evolution, because ingenuity is required to test a default view – a very strange situation in science, one might think.
    But since Charles Darwin’s name was prominent and paramount in both papers, the popular press was soon on board, too.  PhysOrg announced “First large-scale test confirms Darwin’s theory of universal common ancestry,” without so much stopping to wonder why it took 150 years for the first such test.  National Geographic went overboard, though.  It’s headline, “All Species Evolved From Single Cell, Study Finds,” was accompanied by a large photo of a herpetologist looking face-to-face at a snake, as if to evoke an Adamic curse on anyone who would deny this knowledge of good and evil.  Then the subtitle quoted Theobald’s opinion about his opponents, the creationists, who, naturally, were given no opportunity to respond: “Creationism called ‘absolutely horrible hypothesis’—statistically speaking.”
1.  John Avise, “Footprints of nonsentient design inside the human genome,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, print May 5, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0914609107.
2.  Francisco Ayala, “The difference of being human: Morality,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print May 5, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0914616107.
3.  Douglas Theobald, “A formal test of the theory of universal common ancestry,” Nature 465, pp 219–222, 13 May 2010, doi:10.1038/nature09014.
4.  Mike Steel and David Penny, “Origins of life: Common ancestry put to the test,” Nature 465, pp 168–169, 13 May 2010, doi:10.1038/465168a.
No comments are really necessary here; the articles speak for themselves.  If anyone thinks this situation is fair, or desirable in scientific or intellectual circles, or represents the way an enlightened free marketplace of ideas is supposed to operate, that person needs a serious deprogramming session.  This is Malice in Blunderland, where up is down, in is out, the mobsters are running the city, and the inmates are running the asylum.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignDarwin and EvolutionMedia
  Two mutations turned a docile bacterium into the agent of bubonic plague.  Read about it in the 05/08/2008 entry.

Should Scientists Take Sides as Political Activists?     05/13/2010    
May 13, 2010 — “Scientists’ turn to win votes” announced a Nature editorial today.  The science journal argued it’s no time to bemoan the loss of “science-savvy politicians,” but rather time to “make new friends” in the political arena.  “Other scientific societies should rally their memberships to get the word out to new parliamentarians about the value of science.”  Nature was not cryptic about which side it is on.  It mentioned a Liberal party member as “the most articulate voice during the election for science and its importance in policy-making,” but repeatedly chided members of the Conservative party: “Since the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher imposed savage cuts to research in the 1980s, most academic scientists have shied away from the Conservative Party,” the article said, only to follow it up with this patronizing statement: “Unlike Thatcher’s party, the Conservatives of today have made supportive noises about science – even if most members lack a strong understanding of scientific issues.”
    That editorial was primarily about UK politics.  The next editorial, however, dabbled in the American political scene.  “The University of Virginia should fight a witch-hunt by the state’s attorney general,” demanded the editors of Nature.  They are upset that Kenneth Cuccinelli, a “firebrand conservative” elected attorney general of Virginia, is investigating grant money going to Michael Mann, whose “hockey-stick” graph was the centerpiece of the Climategate controversy last year.  The journal’s editors are demanding that the university fight a subpoena issued by the attorney general on the grounds of “academic freedom” – without stopping to ask if academic freedom means use of tax dollars without accountability.  Regardless, the editors thought they would paint the attorney general in the worst possible light by associating him with people whom they assumed their readers would regard as distasteful: “Certainly Cuccinelli has lost no time in burnishing his credentials with far-right ‘Tea Party’ activists, many of whom hail him as a hero.”
    In New Scientist, Michael Brooks argued that it is “time for scientists to go into politics.”  He is running for election in the UK in the Science Party, a political party he founded last month “to highlight the importance of science to the UK economy and science’s lack of representation in Parliament.”  The Science Party wants members of Parliament “to understand scientific issues such as climate change, genetic engineering, finding ways to meet our energy needs and improve our nation’s health,” according to their website.  “We also believe that the UK cannot afford to cut funding for scientific research.”
    Brooks takes issue with Martin Rees (05/02/2010), head of the Royal Society, who believes the role of science is merely to advise and inform government, not make policy.  Brooks, who is angry that politicians often ditch scientific advice when they feel it is inconvenient, feels government needs to feel the authority of science.  This includes issues such as climate change, he pointed out.  “Sometimes scientists have to be willing to stand up to those who would seek to subjugate or sideline science,” he said.  “Often the only people well enough informed to understand the consequences of not taking scientific advice seriously are the scientists themselves.”
    Speaking of climate change, a huge number of climate scientists wrote a letter to the editor of Science last week, disturbed about the bad rap they have gotten in the media since the Climategate scandal.  Rather than express any remorse, however, they stood their ground that global warming is a fact requiring humans to take political action to avert catastrophe.  They compared it to other scientific “facts” including Darwinian evolution:

Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modeling.  Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them.  This process is inherently adversarial—scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation.  That’s what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did.  But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of “well-established theories” and are often spoken of as “facts.”
    For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5 billion years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14 billion years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today’s organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution).  Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong.  Climate change now falls into this category: There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.
The implication is that if you can trust scientists on evolution, you should trust them on global warming.  While the scientists were careful to avoid claiming science can provide certainty, they implied that science can provide adequate knowledge to assure public trust and demand political action.
    Sheila Jasanoff of Harvard, however, writing in the same issue of Science last week,1 had a more nuanced view of the complexities of the science, the politics, and the communication of data from scientists to government and the public.  Here are just some of the issues that make scientific confidence much more complex than in the 17th century scientific revolution:
In earlier times, it was enough to build trust within a researcher’s community of scientific peers.  Disciplines were small and methodologically coherent.  Research neither drew heavily on public funds nor profoundly affected public decisions.  Today, the circle of stakeholders in science has grown incomparably larger.  Much public money is invested in science and, as science becomes more enmeshed with policy, significant economic and social consequences hang on getting the science right.  Correspondingly, interest in the validity of scientific claims has expanded to substantially wider audiences.  It is not only the technical integrity of science that matters today but also its public accountability.
Issues of scientific ethics, integrity and accountability have also risen to the forefront.  These were accentuated by the Climategate scandal.  “It is no longer enough to establish what counts as good science,” she said; “it is equally important to address what science is good for and whom it benefits.
    The complexity of the scientific relationship with government can be seen as a three-body problem, she said: the individual scientist, the body of scientific knowledge, and committees that transmit that knowledge.  Just as with three-body problems in physics, outcomes of the interactions of these entities are not always predictable:
Standards of individual good behavior are especially difficult to identify and enforce in evolving scientific domains with under-developed histories of accounting to external audiences.  Divergent national traditions of openness and confidentiality present additional hurdles for climate scientists, who are involved in international, as well as interdisciplinary, consensus-building.  As the UK inquiry on the hacked CRU e-mails revealed, some data relied on by climate scientists had been obtained from national governments under nondisclosure agreements.  The parliamentary committee conducted, in effect, a process of post hoc standard-setting when it concluded that the climate science community should have followed more open practices of publication and disclosure.
While scientists may point to a growing consensus of so many scientists after many rounds of assessment as a measure of reliability, other conclusions are possible, she said: “At the same time, the very fact that judgment has been integrated across many fields leaves climate science vulnerable to charges of groupthink and inappropriate concealment of uncertainties.”  Then there was the IPCC setting its own rules, with no governmental oversight or accountability.  Sure, there was peer review, it could be argued.  “These methods are good enough to satisfy many scientists, but they rest on traditions of scientific, rather than public, accountability,” Jasanoff said.  “Yet the IPCC performs a mix of functions—part scientific assessment, part policy advice, and part diplomacy—that demand external, as well as internal, accountability.”  The missing component of accountability is not between scientists, but “relations between science and its publics.”
    The relationship of trust between the science community and the public was shaken by Climategate.  Science cannot simply validate itself with assertions.  “Administrative procedures mostly operate within nation states, and there is no higher court where science can account for itself to the world.”  Presumably that truism would hold even with a world government.
1.  Sheila Jasanoff, “Science and Society: Testing Time for Climate Science,” Science, 7 May 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5979, pp. 695-696, DOI: 10.1126/science.1189420.
Each scientist has a vote, like any other citizen.  Do they want something more?  Each scientist can take part in their political party, and try to influence their neighbors.  What more are they asking for?  Would they be happy with some kind of scientific oligarchy, like a panel of wizards advising the king?  Heaven forbid.  Like Jasanoff said, there is no higher court where science can account for itself to the world.  Science must be accountable to the people.
    Once again we see the fine word “science” being applied to a mixing pot of good, bad, and ugly.  Not all science is created equal.  Not all science deserves public funding, public support, or public respect.  Some of it deserves to be publicly shunned and criticized.  Consider:
  1. Not all sciences are epistemically equal (compare “political science” with particle physics).
  2. Not all sciences are methodologically equal (compare taxonomy with quantum mechanics).
  3. Not all sciences are capable of equal degrees of confirmation (compare origin sciences with electromagnetics).
  4. Not all sciences are practically equal, especially for governments (compare ballistics and space technology, which have potential defensive applications, with elusive searches for cosmic strings, dark matter, SETI, or some “last universal common ancestor”).
  5. Not all pure sciences generate equal national prestige.  Think of an outer planet mission like Cassini, which has generated international cooperation, stimulated millions of students to become interested in science and engineering, made people around the world stand in awe of its amazing pictures, and has given its member nations pride and prestige in science.  Compare that with futile attempts to discover speciation among lizards in the Bahamas (PhysOrg) or endless attempts to explain the evolution of altruism via game theory.
Those are just a few issues that bear on governmental and public support for science; see the 04/02/2010 commentary for 30 more.  We need to decouple “scientific institutions” and “professional scientists” from “science” per se.  If science is a search for truth about nature in an orderly, methodical, rational way, then we can all be scientists, and we all should be, to a certain measure.  Many great discoveries have been made by hobbyists and citizen scientists.  There’s something pure about that.  Of course, individuals cannot build Large Hadron Colliders and 10-meter optical interferometer telescopes on Mauna Kea; those kinds of science projects require huge collaborations and funds.  Much of science, perhaps most of it these days, requires advanced education and a full time commitment.  But like Jasanoff said, once scientists become professionalized and collaborative, they can be subject to groupthink, even if they follow ostensibly reliable methods like peer review and multiple rounds of assessment.  Don’t think scientists are beyond human nature.
    Whose science is it, anyway?  An argument can be made that professional scientists, who are forever banging their crutches on the public trough (as David Berlinski aptly put it), are the last ones who should be influencing public policy.  Governments of the people, by the people, and for the people should have the ultimate say in how their money is spent.  The public must, of course, be informed properly and have a sufficient level of scientific literacy to understand why a science project is worth funding (in representative democracy, this is handled by well-educated advisors of the executive branch).  But scientists have a responsibility of providing visible and tangible benefits to the public – not just demands on the grounds of their authority as scientists.
    That huge group of climate scientists harrumphed about the lack of respect they were getting from the public (and basically demanded they get it, and demanded the government take their policy advice seriously).  They claimed global warming is a fact that cannot be denied, despite the scandals.  Consider for a moment this notion of “global temperature” on which so much of their consensus rests.  There is no such thing!  The globe does not have a temperature.  Individual points on the globe do, at least moment by moment, but temperature is a dynamic and localized quantity.  It’s a hundred below at the poles at the same time it’s a hundred above in the desert.  There is no way to come up with a measure of “global temperature” that is not a function of (1) the instruments used to measure it and (2) the points and times selected where it is to be measured and (3) the statistical methods used to average the data and (4) the theory used to interpret the final number.  The answer is “theory-laden” as philosophers say.  So when climate scientists say that global temperature has increased 0.75 degree over the last century, what could that possibly mean?  It can mean whatever their political agenda wants it to mean.  In fact, in the same issue of Nature, Peter Stott and Peter Thorne basically admitted that temperature data collections are non-standardized, non-uniform, missing large chunks from big parts of the world, “or are otherwise not easily accessible – or for more complex financial or political reasons.”  See?  There are issues beyond just pure, unbiased science involved in something this complex and convoluted.  They said that there are only three institutions monitoring global temperature records, the records are in the hands of just a few people who are trying to get standards recognized.  That means, does it not, that records from early in the 20th century on which the conclusions that temperatures are rising cannot be relied upon.  Moreover, here’s what they said about their recommendations to improve things: “The concept we have outlined above has so far been developed by a few individuals at a single institution.”  Yet the global warming community talks like the science is so solid only an idiot could question it.
    We talked about this at length in the 10/05/2009 commentary, so we won’t belabor the point again here.  Suffice it to say the climate science consensus complainer corporation compared their “fact of global warming” to – guess what?  Darwin’s theory of evolution.  That tells you all you need to know.
Next headline on:  Politics and Ethics
World’s Strongest Animal Discovered     05/12/2010    
May 12, 2010 — Scientists at the Technical University of Denmark announced the world’s strongest animal.  The strength of this animal is 10 to 30 times that of any other species.  Before revealing what it is, here are some additional hints:
  • It is the most abundant multicellular animal on earth.
  • It has the world’s strongest muscles, and outperforms man-made motors.
  • It jumps so quickly, it seems to vanish.
  • It can accelerate to over 100 mph in a few thousandths of a second.
  • It can jump thousands of times its body length per second.
  • If a man could jump as fast as this animal, he would have to go 3,800 mph.
  • It has two separate propulsion mechanisms.
  • It has finely-tuned legs for swimming.
  • It has an optimized hydrodynamic shape.
  • It has an exceptionally rapid nerve transmission system.
Even more amazing, this animal jumps with this amazing strength and speed while blind, and while swimming in what feels to it like heavy syrup.  What is it?  Read Science Daily or PhysOrg or Live Science to find out.  You can also watch the slow-motion video provided on Live Science.  Incidentally, it’s only about 1 millimeter long.
The authors tried to sneak in evolution into this story, but they can’t get away with it without the Baloney Detector going off.  One scientist said, “The copepods’ evolutionary success should be seen in relation to their ability to flee from predators.  Their escape jump is hugely powerful and effective.”  This is a royal non-sequitur.  Suppose I made up a theory called gribbleflix that states that organisms will come up with what they need to survive.  How would you feel if anything you presented, no matter what it was, I could explain by saying the reason it survives was because of its gribbleflixary success?  If it is fast, it’s because of gribbleflix.  If it stays in one place, it’s because of gribbleflix.  Pretty soon you would be pretty frustrated at me.  Why, then, do we let the evolutionists get away with this trick?
    You probably did not expect these tiny, little, shrimpy, insignificant, primitive nothings to win the World’s Strongest Animal Contest.  Sounds like evolution was all downhill from there, and now all we have are weightlifters and sprinters trying to earn a distant honorable mention.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyAmazing Facts
Bacteria: Let’s Harness Those “Perfect Machines”     05/11/2010    
May 11, 2010 — Ten Italian scientists have a novel idea.  They want to hitch up their wagons to bacteria and use them to power nanomachines.  It’s too much work to build such “perfect machines” from scratch, they said.  Why not just take advantage of what nature has already provided?
    Their paper in PNAS1 is downright dreamy about the possibilities of using flagella-equipped bacteria as motors for their machinery:
Self-propelling bacteria are a nanotechnology dream.  These unicellular organisms are not just capable of living and reproducing, but they can swim very efficiently, sense the environment, and look for food, all packaged in a body measuring a few microns.  Before such perfect machines can be artificially assembled, researchers are beginning to explore new ways to harness bacteria as propelling units for microdevices.  Proposed strategies require the careful task of aligning and binding bacterial cells on synthetic surfaces in order to have them work cooperatively.  Here we show that asymmetric environments can produce a spontaneous and unidirectional rotation of nanofabricated objects immersed in an active bacterial bath.  The propulsion mechanism is provided by the self-assembly of motile Escherichia coli cells along the rotor boundaries.  Our results highlight the technological implications of active matter’s ability to overcome the restrictions imposed by the second law of thermodynamics on equilibrium passive fluids.
That’s an interesting term for a living cell – “active matter.”  From an engineer’s viewpoint, a bacterium can be considered a little bit of energetic matter that has figured out how to overcome the second law of thermodynamics, at least locally and temporarily.  They do it by converting biochemical energy into mechanical motion.  All engineers need to figure out is how to apply this active matter in asymmetric ways so that work can be done at the nanometer scale with a kind of “Brownian ratchet” effect (see 04/19/2010).
    The team ran some proof-of-concept experiments with tiny gears immersed in an active bath of motile E. coli cells.  They got their bacterial helpers to turn the gear at 2 rpm.  In contrast to previous attempts that tried to channel the bacteria along guided tracks (09/06/2006), this team relied on a self-organizational method.  “We demonstrate that the underlying off-equilibrium nature of a bacterial bath allows one to rectify the chaotic motions of bacteria by geometry alone,” they said, implying that the pre-imposed design in the setup brings the order out of the chaos.  “Once the microstructures are fabricated with a proper asymmetric shape, no further chemical patterning or externally induced taxis is needed to produce a directional and predictable motion.”  A dream of great physicists may soon become a reality, thanks to our little cellular friends:
The idea that, in nonequilibrium states, a directional motion can arise from the chaotic dynamics of small molecules was first put forward by [Richard] Feynman in his famous “ratchet and pawl” thought experiment [1966].  The combination of asymmetry and nonequilibrium was soon recognized to be at the origin of the “ratchet effect,” opening the way to the stimulating concept of Brownian motors in physical and biological contexts.  Many ways have been considered to drive a system out of thermal equilibrium, such as cycling temperature or applying time-dependent external fields.  Our experiment demonstrates an intriguing realization of a ratchet mechanism, where bacteria can be thought of as intrinsically off-equilibrium “molecules.”  Asymmetric environments can be used to break the remaining spatial symmetries and allow the emergence of an ordered, reproducible motion that could serve as the driving mechanism for completely autonomous, self-propelling microdevices.  Applications at the micrometer scale, such as self-propelling micromachines or pumps and mixers for microfluidics, are the most promising, but it will also be important to answer the question whether bacterial motors are confined to the microworld, or we can think of a macroscopic exploitation of bacteria as mechanical power sources.
Now that’s a dream; imagine bacteria as power sources for our automobiles.  How many flagella would that take?  The paper was edited by Howard Berg of Harvard, one of the pioneer investigators of the bacterial flagellum.  The authors made no mention of evolution.
1.  Di Leonardo et al, “Bacterial ratchet motors,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published online before print May 10, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0910426107.
Evolution?  They had no need of that hypothesis.  We hate to keep rubbing this in, Eugenie, Ken, Richard, Jerry, and Francisco, but the first step in recovery is to admit you have a problem.  We know it will get depressing when nobody calls wanting to hear your rendition of the Theodosius Soliloquy,* and the universities can’t attract bright students fast enough to enter their biomimetics labs.  But you can still have a future in the Design Age.  Find a hobby; plant tomatoes, try art, take a hike.  Life will go on.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyPhysicsBiomimeticsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
*“Nothing in Baal-orgy makes cents except in the lie tough Eve-illusion.”**
**Eve-illusion is the old lie, “You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” through man’s own naturalistic inquiry, including evolutionary theory and the evolution of altruism (good) and war (evil), without reliance on God’s revelation of Truth.
More Pow in the Cambrian Explosion     05/11/2010    
May 11, 2010 — Scientists have found more fossil evidence for sudden emergence of animal body plans in the Cambrian strata.  Two papers in Geology discuss evidence on opposite sides of the world.  One team found bryozoans in Mexico 8 million years older than the record-holders in China,1 and another scientist found diverse echinoderms in Spain dating from the middle Cambrian.2
    The author of the echinoderm paper, Samuel Zamora, said, “Because many of these taxa appear close to the beginning of the middle Cambrian, it seems likely that their origins must be placed in the early Cambrian.”2  He argued that his evidence militates against the slow-and-gradual appearance of echinoderms in the early Cambrian.  “This shows that, even by the earliest middle Cambrian, a variety of novel body plans and ecological strategies already existed among echinoderms, pushing back the timing of important divergences into the lower Cambrian.”  Not only that, the ones he found are among the “most diverse of anywhere.”  He did not use the word evolution nor comment on how these complex body plans could have emerged and diversified in such a short time.
    Bryozoans were thought to make their appearance on earth in the Ordovician.  Landing, English and Keppie reviewed the history of thinking about the Cambrian explosion, “Perhaps the most intensely dissected of these dramatic biotic diversity changes”.  They said that until recently, “One mineralized group, the phylum Bryozoa, seems to have ‘missed’ the Cambrian radiation.”  Their discoveries in Mexico now confirm “that all skeletalized metazoan phyla appeared in the Cambrian.”1  These authors also had little to say about how bryozoans emerged, other than to claim that they did – and now earlier than had been thought.  The discovery of these specimens in the late Cambrian does not preclude the possibility that bryozoans will some day be found in lower Cambrian strata elsewhere.
1.  Landing, English, and Keppie, “Cambrian origin of all skeletalized metazoan phyla—Discovery of Earth’s oldest bryozoans (Upper Cambrian, southern Mexico),” Geology, v. 38, no. 6, pp. 547-550; doi: 10.1130/G30870.1.
2.  Samuel Zamora, “Middle Cambrian echinoderms from north Spain show echinoderms diversified earlier in Gondwana,” Geology, v. 38 no. 6 p. 507-510; doi: 10.1130/G30657.1.
The trend of evidence has been clear for decades now.  Every major animal body plan is found in the Cambrian.  Each one is found earlier and earlier.  (Search on “Cambrian explosion” in our search bar for many other examples.)  The earliest ones are just as complex as later ones.  Where is the evolution?  Abrupt appearance of complex body plans is not evolution.  If you want to believe Darwin’s story of slow and gradual evolution, you believe it not because of the evidence, but in spite of it.
    Darwin’s theory is a fully naturalistic story – except for all the miracles needed to prop it up at every stage.  How did you like this little cryptically-stated miracle in the Landing et al paper: “specialized zooids appeared early in bryozoan phylogeny.”  Appeared.  Wonderful.  Tell us, How did they appear?  Enlightened rationalists want to know.  Did they just “emerge” out of the mud?  Did Tinker Bell zap an Ediacaran frond and a specialized bryozoan zooid popped out?  After watching Darwin’s Dilemma, we are getting a little weary of the mythological dogma repeated by the priests of the church of Darwin who say, “just believe.”
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyFossilsDating Methods
  Instant diamonds: how a catastrophic geologic event could bring diamonds to the surface from 150 miles down in a matter of minutes.  Unbelievable?  Nature said it; read about it in the 05/07/2007 entry.

Archaeopteryx Fossil Retains Original Soft-Tissue Material     05/10/2010    
May 10, 2010 — We are usually told that fossils involve the complete replacement of original living material by rock, except in rare cases (such as amber), because organic material is quickly destroyed.  One of the most famous rock fossils is Archaeopteryx, the bird that has often been claimed to be a missing link from dinosaurs.  An international team used X-rays to probe one of the nine known specimens of Archaeopteryx.  To their surprise, they found original atoms from the feathers and bones of the animal still residing in the rock impressions – this after 150 million years has past since the bird died, according to the evolutionary chronology.
    Science Daily, the BBC News, and New Scientist all reported the paper that appeared in PNAS.1  The team, including scientists from Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory, Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Manchester, UK, used synchrotron rapid scanning X-ray fluorescence (SRS-XRF) to detect atomic species in the rock and the fossil impressions of the Thermopolis Archaeopteryx specimen.  Their color-coded map of the data shows enriched zinc and copper in the bone impressions relative to the rock, and enriched phosphorus and sulfur in the rachis [main stems] of the feather impressions.  They interpret these as remnants of original soft tissue from the specimen rather than leached material from the rock sediments: “Here we present chemical imaging,” they said, “... which shows that portions of the feathers are not impressions but are in fact remnant body fossil structures, maintaining elemental compositions that are completely different from the embedding geological matrix.”  This was the first detailed chemical analysis of this fossil ever performed, they said.  They referred to another study on dinosaur bone that supports “our most striking result: that elevated Zn levels associated with the skull and other bones have persisted over geological time and most likely, along with phosphorous and sulfur, are remnants of the original bone chemistry.”  The authors seemed to like that word “striking.”  They used it 4 times: e.g., “striking and previously unknown details about the chemical preservation of soft tissue, elemental distribution patterns most likely related to the organism’s life processes, insights into the chemistry of the fossilization process, and details of curation history.”
    The paper and the popular articles spoke of evolution in various ways.  The original paper had very little to say about it, other than some opening generalizations.  The abstract began, for instance, with “Evolution of flight in maniraptoran dinosaurs is marked by the acquisition of distinct avian characters, such as feathers, as seen in Archaeopteryx from the Solnhofen limestone.”  They did not elaborate on how the said acquisition of pennate flight feathers might have occurred by the unguided process of natural selection.  The opening sentence of the paper followed, saying, “Archaeopteryx are rare but occupy a pivotal place in the development of Darwinian evolution because of their possession of both reptilian (jaws with teeth and a long bony tail) and avian (feathered wings) characters.”  After that, the E-word did not appear further, except for a brief suggestion, without evidence, that Archaeopteryx appears transitional between dinosaurs and birds.
    Jeff Hecht at New Scientist, however, drew from this the notion that “Copper and zinc are key nutrients for living birds, and their presence in the fossil bones shows the evolutionary link with dinosaurs” – even though the original paper did not state such a thing.  He did quote Roy Wogelius [U of Manchester] of the team, saying, “It’s amazing that that chemistry is preserved after 150 million years,” and “There is soft-tissue chemistry preserved in places that people didn’t expect it.”  The BBC News referred twice to the fossil as a “snapshot of evolution” and called it “a ‘missing link’ that documents a fabulous transition from dinosaur to bird,” even though the paper was really not about evolution or dinosaurs at all.  Science Daily gave the story the misleading headline, “X-Rays Reveal Chemical Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs” when, again, the paper made no such claim.  Moreover, the article called it a “150-million year old ‘dinobird’ fossil” and claimed that “When the first Archaeopteryx specimen was uncovered a century and a half ago, just a year after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, the discovery provided the strongest evidence yet for the theory of evolution.”  None of the popular articles dealt with the question whether preservation of original organic material from an animal as frail as a bird, which usually decays completely within days or weeks, is possible for 150 million years.  None considered whether finding such material should call into question the age of the specimen.


1.  Bergmann et al, “Archaeopteryx feathers and bone chemistry fully revealed via synchrotron imaging,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print May 10, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1001569107.
OK, readers; here’s the science, here’s the data, there’s the spin.  You are smart enough to decide.  Is it plausible that portions of the original bone and feathers of a bird have been sitting in this rock for 150 million years?  What kind of faith does it take to believe that?  Consider how long 150 million years is.  All of recorded human history – all the wars, battles, migrations, conquests, and population explosions – fits within 10,000 years or less.  That includes all the geological catastrophes (post-Flood, for creationists): all the volcanoes, tsunamis, Krakatoa, Mt. St. Helens, Vesuvius, and many more.  All the big floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes that people have written about fit within a thousandth of 1% of the time evolutionists are talking about.  Did that time even exist?
    Instead of asking such questions, instead of doubting their assumptions like good scientists should, instead of realizing that such discoveries are an assault on their core beliefs, evolutionists just waltz on forward proclaiming their myths as if nothing happened.  “Well, what do you know; soft tissue can be preserved for 150 million years, and isn’t it wonderful how Archaeopteryx is such a beautiful icon to hang at the shrine of the Bearded Buddha?  Guard – arrest that man!  He is not bowing deep enough – he might be a creationist!  Expel him lest he commit sacrilege in this sacred place!”
Next headline on:  FossilsBirdsDinosaursDating Methods
Farewell, Once Mighty Jordan River     05/09/2010    
May 09, 2010 — The Jordan River is dying.  PhysOrg said it could be dried up by next year.  Already, much of its flow is sewage.  The source streams from Mt. Hermon are diverted into farming, leaving very little to flow out of the Sea of Galilee down to the Dead Sea.  Christian pilgrims wishing to be baptized in the famed Jordan waters are facing serious health threats from the polluted waters.
    Friends of the Earth and other groups are calling for Israel and Jordan to engage in better water management, and to stop pouring raw sewage into the Jordan valley.  “Improving the flow of the Jordan River would also go a long way towards saving the Dead Sea, which is in turn withering rapidly.”  Needless to say, a rich ecosystem that once thrived along the Jordan’s banks has been adversely affected.  See also the Jerusalem Post story. 
It’s tragic to see a symbol of the Bible being treated badly; perhaps the governments will realize their mismanagement and do something in time.  The Jordan was once a raging torrent in wet seasons.  An old hymn talked about “Jordan’s stormy banks” and as recent as 150 years ago it was a dangerous river to cross at times.  “Crossing that old river Jordan” was often a symbol of leaving the land of sorrows to enter heaven.  Nothing on this planet is permanent, though.  Substance is more important than symbolism.
    If you ever visit Israel, be sure to see the beautiful headwater streams north of the Sea of Galilee, especially near the archaeological site of Tell Dan.  The powerful torrents of clear spring water flowing over waterfalls are a beautiful sight.  They remind one of Psalm 42.
Next headline on:  Bible and Theology
Humans and Neanderthals Are One     05/08/2010    
May 08, 2010 — If Neanderthals bred with modern humans, they are one and the same species.  That must be the case according to the most widely-accepted definition of a species: those who can breed and produce fertile offspring.  The news media are abuzz with Science magazine’s cover story this week, “The Neanderthal Genome.”1  Most anthropologists are now accepting the genetic evidence for human-Neanderthal mixing of DNA, and that there are remnants of the Neanderthal genome walking the earth in living human beings.
    There were some surprises in the findings.  The main finding was that Europeans and Asians share about 1% to 4% of their nuclear DNA with Neanderthals, indicating that there was substantial interbreeding between the two groups in the past (note that your own genome does not have much remaining of your great-great-grandparent’s genes, so there had to be substantial interbreeding for Neandertal markers to become fixed in the human population).  The gene flow appears to be one-way, however, and the researchers did not find those genetic markers among African populations – meaning that there will have to be some revision to the “Out of Africa” theory.
    In short, the evidence has brought humans and Neanderthals together as mere varieties of the same species, while simultaneously increasing the genetic distance between humans and the great apes.  The team is confident of the interbreeding because they took great pains to eliminate contamination; they believe any contamination is below 0.7%.  Only about 60% of the Neanderthal genome has been recovered so far.  Here are the prime-source articles from Science:
  1. “A Draft Sequence of the Neanderthal Genome” is the primary paper by Green et al.1  Some 55 authors are listed on the paper, including Svante Paabo, who has advanced theories about Neanderthal interbreeding for years.
  2. “Targeted Investigation of the Neandertal Genome by Array-Based Sequence Capture” by Burbano et al compared human and Neanderthal genes with the chimpanzee genome.2  They “identified 88 amino acid substitutions that have become fixed in humans since our divergence from the Neandertals.”
  3. Ann Gibbons summarized the papers in a news article in the same issue entitled, “Paleogenetics: Close Encounters of the Prehistoric Kind.”3 
  4. Elisabeth Pennisi investigated the question of whether it might become possible to clone a Neanderthal, in “Paleogenetics: Cloned Neandertals Still in the Realm of Sci-Fi.”4  She called it a pipe dream due to technical and ethical reasons.
  5. Pennisi added a cameo article about Richard “Ed” Green, the postdoctoral fellow in charge of the Neanderthal sequencing project at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.”  He developed barcoding methods for streamlining the effort of wading through the DNA evidence.
The announcement in Science set off a plethora of headlines in the news:
  • New Scientist said “Neanderthal genome reveals interbreeding with humans.”
  • Science Daily announced, “Neandertals ‘Hardly Differed at All’ from Modern Humans.”  Another Science Daily entry featuring Ed Green said, “Neanderthal Genome Yields Insights Into Human Evolution and Evidence of Interbreeding With Modern Humans.”
  • National Geographic wrote, “Neanderthals, Humans Interbred—First Solid DNA Evidence; Most of us have some Neanderthal genes, study finds.”
  • Clara Moskowitz got clever with her headline for Live Science, saying, “Humans and Neanderthals Mated, Making You Part Caveman.
  • The BBC News wrote, “Neanderthal genes ‘survive in us’.”  The article is accompanied by a timeline (not to scale), a video clip, and a picture of Svante Paabo.
  • Time Magazine’s coverage emphasized the opinions of Svante Paabo and Erik Trinkaus.  Webb Miller thought this is was a “way cool paper” representing “great science” because “Some [scientists] will love it, and some of them will hate it.”
  • The New York Times highlighted a large picture of the Croatian cave where Neanderthal bones with DNA were found.  Their coverage entertained some competing views, saying, “the new analysis, which is based solely on genetics and statistical calculations, is more difficult to match with the archaeological record.”  The Times quoted Ian Tattersall [America Museum of Natural History] calling it a “fabulous achievement” but “probably not the authors’ last word, and they are obviously groping to explain what they have found.” 
  • “Probing Question: What can we learn from Neanderthal DNA?” asked PhysOrg on April 22, before the paper was published, adding, “Contrary to their image as knuckle-dragging brutes, the Neanderthals on television play tennis and attend cocktail parties – and sell auto insurance.”  Maybe some Brutus-types you know come to mind.
  • John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist and blogger, welcomed the news.  “Neandertals Live!” he announced on John Hawks Weblog, where a philosophical-looking Neanderthal graces his banner.  His entry summed up what this means for paleoanthropology from an evolutionary perspective.
In his blog, John Hawks asked and answered his own question if it means Neanderthals belong in our species, Homo sapiens.  He gave himself an unequivocal, “Yes.” The New York Times article, however, tried to keep them distinct.  It said Neanderthals were “not fully modern” and did not expand from Africa, because they supposedly split off from the line that led to modern humans 600,000 years ago.  If so, that raises a question of how they could interbreed with modern humans after the passage of such immense periods of time before the two groups met around 100,000 years ago according to the evolutionary timeline.  “So far, the team has identified only about 100 genes – surprisingly few – that have contributed to the evolution of modern humans since the split.” Update 05/15/2010: An editorial in New Scientist said, “Welcome to the family, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.”  The article underscored the commonalities the Neanderthals have with the rest of us; “it is hard to see why Neanderthals should be considered as anything other than Homo sapiens.”  Their range of genetic variation fits within that of living humans, the editors said.  “Moreover, Neanderthals share with us a version of a gene linked to the evolution of speech, and recent archaeological evidence suggests that their minds were capable of the symbolic representations that underlie language and art.  If that’s not human, then what is?”  Ewen Callaway in another article in New Scientist went so far as to predict that Neanderthals were not the only archaic humans our ancestors mated with.  We may find that Homo erectus and Homo floresiensis are part of the family, too.
1.  Green, Paabo et al, “A Draft Sequence of the Neanderthal Genome,” Science, 7 May 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5979, pp. 710-722, DOI: 10.1126/science.1188021.
2.  Burbano et al, “Targeted Investigation of the Neandertal Genome by Array-Based Sequence Capture,” Science, 7 May 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5979, pp. 723 - 725, DOI: 10.1126/science.1188046.
3.  Ann Gibbons, “Paleogenetics: Close Encounters of the Prehistoric Kind,” Science, 7 May 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5979, pp. 680-684, DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5979.680.
4.  Elizabeth Pennisi, “Paleogenetics: Cloned Neandertals Still in the Realm of Sci-Fi,” Science, 7 May 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5979, pp. 682-683, DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5979.682.
5.  Elizabeth Pennisi, “Paleogenetics: Computer Kid Makes Good,”
Science, 7 May 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5979, p. 683, DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5979.683.
Now that we know they are us, and we are them, and that so-called Neanderthals are walking among us playing tennis and selling us insurance, it’s time to assess the damage the Neanderthal myth has done to humanity.  This was never about a pure, unbiased search for the truth of human history.  It was all about looking for props to support a story – a story of Europeans emerging from lower animals over millions of years in a way that guaranteed they would be on top.  It’s a kind of historical racism, only the victims have been unable to sue in court because they were assumed extinct.  Well, maybe 1-4% of the 6 billion people can find a lawyer now.  Got big brows?  Are you big-boned?  Maybe you stand to make a lot of money.
    The first Neanderthal bones were found a few years before Darwin published his Origin.  The Neander valley in Germany, by the way, was named after Joachim Neander, author of “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation.”  Although the skeletons looked a little strange, it would take a few years for evolutionary demagogues to find a way to use them as props for the story.  Evolution was already on the rise in Victorian Britain.  Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus, and Lamarck, and Robert Chambers had written scandalous but delicious tales of humankind arising from the lower animals.  The geologists had already ditched Mosaic chronology for Hutton’s deep time by the 1830s, with Lyell as their champion, so the timescale was set.  The British Empire with its Victorian theme of progress was already displaying European “superiority” over the other races of mankind, and racism was hot.  So when Darwin made his strategic coup by publishing an apparently plausible mechanism for evolutionary common ancestry, evolutionism exploded on the scene.  Acceptance of the controversial theory was tentative at first (many leading scientists were outraged), but within ten years Darwin, his Four Musketeers (Lyell, Gray, Huxley, Hooker) and the X-club bad boys had stolen the high ground.  By the time Darwin wrote The Descent of Man in 1871, hardly anyone had the energy to protest – not even the clergy.  This was not a matter of science; it was a sociological phenomenon of late 19th century Victorian racist culture.
    Now all that was necessary to keep the momentum going was to fill in the blanks of the Darwin Saga with the appearance of scientific progress.  Bones that looked any way different were hot items.  They were immediately placed into the march of progress from monkey to man.  Look at the first artist reconstruction of Neanderthal Man (Wikimedia) made in 1888 when the Darwin hysteria was in full swing.  Clearly the artist was attempting to make it look as brutish, ape-like, and “other” as possible.  That’s the key: these ancient bones had to be other than people.  The Darwinists manipulated the perception of human history by giving them other-sounding names: Neanderthal Man, Java Man, Heidelberg Man, Peking Man, Rhodesia Man, Nebraska Man, Piltdown Man.  They manipulated taxonomy to support their Darwinian, deep-time story: Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis.  The storytelling continued into the 20th century, with more artist reconstructions, an elaborate tale of when and where different groups emerged on the scene, and where they migrated.  Fictional stories were concocted about how different species of human ancestors might have met one another and fought to the death.  Other fictional stories were made up out of whole cloth about the invention of language, culture, and religion.  The Neanderthals, we were told, separated from a common ancestor of modern humans 650,000 years ago.  They were portrayed as brutish, stooped-over, heavy-browed, muscular mammoth-hunting cavemen who knew little more than how to build fire, have sex and eat meat.  But when the intelligent, slender Cro-Magnon arrived (you know, the Europeans), these brutes were no match, and over years were beaten back to extinction.
    Does any of this have any connection to true history?  Of course not.  Yes, there are bones, and flutes, and burial sites, and caves, but the “scenario” is a big, bad myth.  It is 150 years overdue to put this one out of our misery.  Consider how absurd it is.  Evolutionists are asking us to think that Neanderthals went on their own evolutionary journey 650,000 years ago, only to encounter “modern” humans 100,000 to 80,000 years ago, and find they could have fertile offspring!  If Darwin’s theory means anything at all, in that long a time the Neanderthals and other human species should have drifted so far apart that interbreeding would have become impossible..  That’s what most evolutionists believed until very recently.  The evidence for interbreeding in the Neanderthal genome is not just an adjustment to the Darwinian paleoanthropology scenario; it undermines it.  Even more nonsensical is the idea that modern humans, virtually identical in every way to us, walked through Europe for over 100,000 years without ever inventing a wheel, building a city, riding a horse, or planting a farm.  That’s 10 to 12 times the length of all recorded human history.  Anyone who does not see the patent absurdity of the evolutionary claim needs a serious deprogramming session.  Not only that, evolutionists are telling us that human ancestors were capable of fire and cooking and hunting and upright walking, and maybe verbal and symbolic communication, for half a million to a million years.  As Duane Gish rightly asked in 1993, “what in the world were our advanced hominid ancestors doing for almost a million years?  Why was evolution, both physical and cultural, so quiescent for such a vast stretch of time?  If Homo sapiens had evolved perhaps as much as 150,000 years ago or even longer, why was it that he invented agriculture and domestication so recently and so abruptly?” (Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics, p. 354).
    Creationists – you know, those know-nothings who are the brunt of the Darwin Empire’s most vicious ridicule and disgust – have been saying for a long time that the average brain capacity of “Neanderthal Man” exceeded our own.  They are not the only ones who have said that if you gave a Neanderthal a shave and a haircut, dressed him in a business suit, and marched him down Wall Street, nobody would pay any attention.  Now we know they are among us playing tennis and selling insurance.  On top of that, the history of evolutionary hoaxes with early-man fossils (Nebraska Man, Piltdown Man) and the ongoing wars between today’s ape-man hunters vying for the stage with the hottest missing link is a history of shameful intrigue, extrapolation of evidence, mythmaking and reversals.  They cannot understand how civilization emerged from nothing.  They cannot understand why the first cave paintings were already the best.  And they present themselves as making progress toward “understanding our origins”.
    Readers, people, please: does it begin to dawn on you that we have been snookered by the Darwin Party con men?  Why do we listen to these so-called experts?  Why do we think their story is getting better with time?  Is this new paper a sign of progress?  No; it spotlights a 150-year detour away from the truth.  They have vaunted their ignorance, yet vented their arrogance by expecting us to believe that the other parts of their myth are still intact.  I’m sure you will be thrilled to find out in another few decades that everything they are telling you in 2010 was wrong, too.  Chances are good that will happen, because not much remains of what they were telling us a few decades ago, and decades before that, ad nauseum.  If your driver chose the wrong road, don’t be surprised when things don’t look right after hours of driving, even when your confident-sounding cabbie has a good story and keeps telling you he’s getting closer to the destination.  When is it going to dawn on you that that’s his angle – keeping a good story going, not looking for the destination?  The Darwinists stay in power by perpetuating an illusion of legitimacy, as if they are getting warmer.  Each new bone, each new genome, is “shedding light” on our evolution.  Stop believing the lies.  The props have nothing to do with it; the story is the centerpiece, and that is not up for debate.
    The Biblical timeline, by contrast, fits known human history well.  One must understand that dating of artifacts beyond 10,000 years ago is infected with the deep-time mythology, producing a circular system of reinforcement.  Evolutionists need that deep time.  To make it look legitimate, they fill it in with stages in their fictional play, and then they date those stages with infected dating methods to give them an air of scientific objectivity.  Don’t follow the script.  Look at the hard evidence itself.  The best evidence is inscriptions – clay tablets, writing, cities, architecture, pottery.  The birth of civilization in the Fertile Crescent fits what the Bible says about the spread of humanity after the Flood and Babel.  Verifiable records show all artifacts were made by intelligent, skilled, sentient Homo sapiens – every one of them.  And just as people today are quick to migrate to every corner of the globe, migration by true humans was very rapid after the Flood.  Columbus did not discover a New World; people were already there, having migrated from Asia over land bridges centuries before – maybe millennia before.  People were in the South Pacific, on Easter Island, in South America, all over the place when the latecomer Europeans showed up.  Who is really superior, the latecomers?  Jon Saboe’s novel The Days of Peleg (Resource of the Week for 11/07/2009) provides a plausible account of how all this could have happened in a short time.  Another important point is that human population statistics match the Biblical timeframe like a comfortable shoe.  But if upright, intelligent humans inhabited this planet for nearly a million years, we should be climbing over their bones, not finding them here and there in isolated caves.
    So who were the Neanderthals?  For one thing, it’s time to ditch that name with its evolutionary baggage.  They were Homo sapiens with some accentuated features.  No, they didn’t live 650,000 years ago; they lived a few thousand years ago.  They migrated after the Flood, like everyone else.  After Babel, close-knit family groups went their separate ways.  Inbreeding of tribes led to accentuated features.  Some traits could have been aggravated by diet, harsh environment, age, or disease.  But for all we can tell, they were strong, astute, fit, creative, intelligent, capable people.  Today’s pot-bellied scientists with high cholesterol who couldn’t find a steak in a meat market or carve a turkey should aspire to their stature.  Maybe they were the frontiersmen of their day, living out in the harsh extremes of the world, like the Inuit and certain tribal peoples who know a lot more about living off the land than many scientists ever will.  Maybe they preferred the simple life of the hunter-gatherer, as do some people groups in 2010.  Maybe they were the environmentalists; who knows?  They weren’t around for 650,000 years; just a few thousand, like all the other people we KNOW about, where know is the operative word.
    A creationist taxonomical initiative called baraminology accepts the Genesis record that God made things to reproduce after their “kinds” (baramin).  The created kinds were most likely groups larger than a species (although a baramin may represent a species in some cases, such as with Homo sapiens; for introduction see ChristianAnswers.net and CreationWiki).  Baraminology entails significant amounts of genetic variability inherent in the genomes of the original kinds.  The picture of a gradually progressing tree of life Darwin used to propagate his anti-Genesis mythology of human history is rejected in favor of the original Genesis picture: a world of distinct reproductive groups varying within their kinds.  Each baramin is related by common descent, so there is room for some of the same comparative genomics studies within kinds as Darwinists try to make across kinds, but baraminologists deny that all organisms are related by common descent.  They say, instead, that similarities are marks of the single Creator of all things (see Walter ReMine’s thesis in The Biotic Message, Resource of the Week for 10/10/2009).  The built-in variability in each genome would lead to branching of similar species within kinds up to the genus and family level, and perhaps beyond (after all, taxons are man-made groupings), as the original kinds invaded new ecological niches on a dynamic planet.  These branchings would not incorporate new genetic information, but rather express built-in capabilities in new ways and combinations, in some cases with extreme accentuation of existing genetic tools.  In this view, all the human racial groups stem from the original human pair and retain their full humanness.  The slight differences in skin color and other traits are explained as environmentally-enhanced variations or genetic bottlenecks occurring since the migrations after Babel.  Dr. Robert Carter has an interesting DVD on the genetic evidence for human migration in and out of Africa that arguably does a better job of explaining the evidence from a Biblical creationist standpoint than the evolutionist “out of Africa” story; see CMI for video teaser and info on how to order; see also his article on CMI about “Adam, Eve, and Noah vs Modern Genetics.”
    You can reject this view if you want to.  It’s a free country.  You can let the cultural knee-jerk reflex take over: laugh, mock, scorn, ridicule, and write scathing attacks on your blog about how stupid the know-nothing flat-earth Neanderthal-faced less-evolved creationists are.  Go right ahead; Darwin’s bulldogs have been doing that since the X-Club, and creationists are pretty used to it.  (Duane Gish has been vindicated, you realize.)  Such tactics only show one’s lack of ability to discuss evidence rationally with civility.  Among the worst of the mockers are some theistic evolutionists and some progressive creationists who choose to be so entranced by the siren song of the deceivers, they have been willing to twist Biblical history to ridiculous extremes – so far as to make Neanderthals and the other Darwinist early-man cartoon characters out to be unsouled, upright-walking animals, equivalent to us in almost every respect, except lacking the image of God.  We hope this revelation is a lesson to them.  The next time the Darwinists have to backtrack and admit in print that you’ve been snookered, and everything they taught you for 150 years was wrong about Neanderthal Man, or Darwin’s finches, or the human genome, or fill-in-the-blank, don’t say we didn’t warn you.  Don’t say St. Peter didn’t warn you, either (read II Peter 3).  From now on, the only Neanderthal Man you should pay attention to is the original one, Joachim Neander.  He wrote:

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

(See Romans 5 and Hebrews 2 for more on that.  Express your humanness as it was intended to be.  Get back into a relationship with your Maker.)
Next headline on:  Early ManGeneticsFossilsDating Methods

  Four years ago, it was already apparent that Genetics might prove to be Darwin’s downfall.  Read about 11 evidences reported 05/04/2006 that were difficult even then to fit into a neo-Darwinian paradigm.

Can Darwin Be Rescued from a New Eye Discovery?     05/07/2010    
May 07, 2010 — Darwinists have claimed for years that the human eye is an example of bad design, because it is wired backwards – the photoreceptors are located behind a tangle of blood vessels and other material.  But then in 2007, German scientists found that cone-shaped cells called Müller cells act like waveguides that transmit the light through the tangles straight into the photoreceptors (05/02/2007).  Some Darwinists responded that this was only a makeshift correction effected by the “tinkering” of natural selection.  It did not change the argument that the eye was poorly designed, they said.
    Now, more facts have come to light about those Müller cells (also called retinal glial cells).  Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have found out that they do far more than just conduct light to the photoreceptors.  Kate McAlpine reported for New Scientist that Müller cells offer several advantages.  They act as noise filters, tuners and color focusers:

At least two types of light get inside the eye: light carrying image information, which comes directly through the pupil, and “noise” that has already been reflected multiple times within the eye.  The simulations showed that the Müller cells transmit a greater proportion of the former to the rods and cones below, while the latter tends to leak out.  This suggests the cells act as light filters, keeping images clear.
    The researchers also found that light that had leaked out of one Müller cell was unlikely to be taken up by a neighbour, because the surrounding nerve cells help disperse it.  What’s more, the intrinsic optical properties of Müller cells seemed to be tuned to visible light, leaking wavelengths outside and on the edges of the visible spectrum to a greater extent.
    The cells also seem to help keep colours in focus.  Just as light separates in a prism, the lenses in our eyes separate different colours, causing some frequencies to be out of focus at the retina.  The simulations showed that Müller cells’ wide tops allow them to “collect” any separated colours and refocus them onto the same cone cell, ensuring that all the colours from an image are in focus....
These findings were made by Amichai Labin and Erez Ribak at Technion and published in Physical Review Letters.1  In the abstract, they said, “The retina is revealed as an optimal structure designed for improving the sharpness of images.”  Their findings specifically argued against the idea that the retina is poorly wired:
In this study, wave propagation methods allowed us to show that light guiding within the retinal volume is an effective and biologically convenient way to improve the resolution of the eye and reduce chromatic aberration.  We also found that the retinal nuclear layers, until now considered a source of distortion, actually improve the decoupling of nearby photoreceptors and thus enhance vision acuity.  Although this study was performed on data from human retinas and eyes, most of its consequences are valid for eyes with other retinal structure and different optics.  They are also valid for the more common case of eyes without a central fovea.
At the end of the paper, they restated their design theme: “The fundamental features of the array of glial cells are revealed as an optimal structure designed for preserving the acuity of images in the human retina.  It plays a crucial role in vision quality, in humans and in other species.”  One of the authors of the 2007 study, Kristian Franze of Cambridge University, was glad to see this work complement theirs.  “It suggests that light-coupling by Müller cells is a crucial event that contributes to vision as we know it,” he said.
    What will Darwinists do with this new revelation?  After all, reporter McAlpine showed that the backward-wired retina was listed by New Scientist in 2007 as one of “evolution’s greatest mistakes”.  She started out confessing that “It looks wrong,” but then had to admit that “the strange, ‘backwards’ structure of the vertebrate retina actually improves vision,” according to this new study.
    She couldn’t leave Darwin without a prayer, so she brought in Ken Miller, the Brown University prof who is Catholic but a staunch Darwinian evolutionist and a tireless foe of intelligent design.  Never at a loss for words in the defense of Darwin, he got his chance to tell the readers what this finding does and does not mean, evolutionarily speaking:
However, Kenneth Miller, a biologist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island cautions that this doesn’t mean that the backwards retina itself helps us to see.  Rather, it emphasises the extent to which evolution has coped with the flawed layout.  “The shape, orientation and structure of the Müller cells help the retina to overcome one of the principal shortcomings of its inside-out wiring,” says Miller.
But if that is so, why would Ribak and his colleague think humans should imitate a flawed layout?  McAlpine ended, “The new understanding of the role of Müller cells might find applications in more successful eye transplants and better camera designs, says Ribak.”
1.  A. M. Labin and E. N. Ribak, “Retinal Glial Cells Enhance Human Vision Acuity,” Physical Review Letters, Volume 104, Issue 15, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.158102.
It’s Miller time for the SEQOTW award.  The fast-talking Darwin Party ideologue has shown to all that facts and logic are not as important to him as defending the shrine of the Bearded Buddha.  Some Catholic.  Does he not read the Bible?  Ears that hear and eyes that see— the LORD has made them both (Proverbs 20:12).  He would rather say that God’s creations have a flawed layout and principal shortcomings and are done all wrong than to offend his real god, the one whose work is flawless, Charlie baby.  He tries to have it both ways; keeping his Catholic faith and his evolution (Finding Darwin’s God), but when someone has to give on a matter of propositional truth, it is always God, not Darwin.  Cornelius Hunter has made some important points about Miller’s response to this paper in his blog, Darwin’s God.
    Look; let’s understand something about this dysteleology argument.  Flawed is as flawed does.  The vertebrate eye is a marvel of engineering.  Its performance is so good, we cannot come close to imitating it in all its specifications that must be met simultaneously (stereoscopic, motion-picture, miniature, high-def, self-repairing in many cases, self-cleaning, high signal-to-noise ratio, high depth of field, high dynamic range, low chromatic aberration, fast focus, image processing, long life, and much more).  In fact, it may well exhibit the best of all possible optics (see 05/09/2002).  What does Miller want God to do better?  Does God have an obligation to listen to a fallible human’s uninformed opinion about how to design an eye?  The audacity.  There are reasons why the eye is wired the way it is.  The photoreceptors shed parts and require a lot of energy; they need to be near the blood vessels in the back of the eyeball, not facing the inside (for rebuttals to the backward-design argument, see footnote 1 of the 05/02/2007 entry).
    Now we find that it is not just a necessary evil to keep the photoreceptors in back near the blood vessels.  It actually provides optical advantages.  The Müller cells act as waveguides, color focusers and noise reducers.  If the photoreceptors were facing the inside, there is a good chance our vision would be inferior – color focus would be poorer, and stray reflections from inside the eyeball would produce distracting flashes and reduce clarity.  Octopi and squid, which have the photoreceptors in front, live in a completely different environment.  They have to operate in the dim light of a watery medium.  Each animal has the eyes it needs for its habits and habitat.  Don’t you think the Creator knows a few things about optics and wiring that Ken Miller doesn’t?
    One of the stupidest evolution quotes ever made has been memorialized in our Baloney Detector.  Jared Diamond wrote this groaner for Discover magazine 25 years ago (6/1985, p. 91) after parading the old bad-design-of-the-human-eye argument (you see, it’s been around a long time).  It’s doubtful he has ever disowned it, because he still is a staunch evolutionist.  He said, “the eyes of the lowly squid, with the nerves artfully hidden behind the photoreceptors, are an example of design perfection.  If the Creator had indeed lavished his best design on the creature he shaped in his own image, creationists would surely have to conclude that God is indeed a squid.”
    Jared and Ken have been waltzing around this planet for the last 25 years enjoying their eyes, looking at wonders of creation, and telling the rest of us that evolution is a fact because no God would ever do such a bumbling design job.  Take note of three little words (underlined below) in the classic Bible passage of why such people deserve the wrath of God for their unbelief, as stated in Paul’s letter to the Romans: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead [sum total of his divine attributes, including wisdom, omniscience, goodness, and ability to design things], so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools....” (Romans 1:18-22).  Talk about evidence being manifest in them.  It’s right there in their eye sockets.  If you are not thankful with all the evidence in front of you, there’s no hope.
Next headline on:  Human BodyMammalsPhysicsIntelligent DesignAmazing FactsBiomimeticsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
Notable Notes and Quotable Quotes
A fascinating article by Brian J. Ford at New Scientist fits in perfectly with the next entry about the Splicing Code (05/06/2010) and the 05/05/2010 entry about cell computing.  Here’s how Ford ended his essay; go read the whole article to see what led up to this amazing statement:
For me, the brain is not a supercomputer in which the neurons are transistors; rather it is as if each individual neuron is itself a computer, and the brain a vast community of microscopic computers.  But even this model is probably too simplistic since the neuron processes data flexibly and on disparate levels, and is therefore far superior to any digital system.  If I am right, the human brain may be a trillion times more capable than we imagine, and “artificial intelligence” a grandiose misnomer.
    I think it is time to acknowledge fully that living cells make us what we are, and to abandon reductionist thinking in favour of the study of whole cells.  Reductionism has us peering ever closer at the fibres in the paper of a musical score, and analysing the printer's ink.  I want us to experience the symphony.
Breakthrough: Second Genetic Code Revealed     05/06/2010    
May 06, 2010 — It’s sometimes difficult to assess the impact of a scientific paper when it is first published, but one that came out on the cover of Nature today has potential to equal the discovery of the genetic code.  The leading science journal reported the discovery of a second genetic code – the “code within the code” – that has just been cracked by molecular biologists and computer scientists.  Moreover, they used information technology – not evolutionary theory – to figure it out.
    The new code is called the Splicing Code.  It lives embedded within the DNA.  It directs the primary genetic code, in very complex but now predictable ways, how and when to assemble genes and regulatory elements.  Cracking this code-within-a-code is helping elucidate several long-standing mysteries about genetics that emerged from the Human Genome Project: Why are there only 20,000 genes for an organism as complex as a human being? (Scientists had expected far more.)  Why are genes broken up into segments (called exons), separated by non-coding elements (called introns), and then spliced together after transcription?  And why are genes turned on in some cells and tissues, but not in others?  For two decades molecular biologists have been trying to figure out the mechanisms of genetic regulation.  This important paper represents a milestone in understanding what goes on.  It doesn’t answer all the questions, but it shows that an inner code exists – a communication system that can be deciphered so clearly, that the scientists could predict what the genome would do in certain situations with uncanny accuracy.
    Imagine hearing an orchestra in an adjacent room.  You open the door and look inside, and find just three or four musicians producing all that sound.  That’s what co-discoverer Brendan Frey said said the human genome is like.  We could only find 20,000 genes, but we knew that a vast array of protein products and regulatory elements were being produced.  How?  One method is alternative splicing.  Different exons (gene elements) can be assembled together in different ways.  “For example, three neurexin genes can generate over 3,000 genetic messages that help control the wiring of the brain,” Frey said.  The paper explains right off the bat that 95% of our genes are known to have alternative splicing, and in most cases, the transcripts are expressed differently in different cell and tissue types.  Something must control how those thousands of combinations are assembled and expressed.  That’s the job of the Splicing Code.
    Readers wanting a quick overview can read the Science Daily article, “Researchers Crack ‘Splicing Code,’ Solve a Mystery Underlying Biological Complexity.”  It says, “Researchers at the University of Toronto have discovered a fundamentally new view of how living cells use a limited number of genes to generate enormously complex organs such as the brain.”  In Nature itself, Heidi Ledford led off with an article called “The code within the code.1  Tejedor and Valcárcel followed with “Gene regulation: Breaking the second genetic code.2  Then the main dish was the paper by the University of Toronto Team led by Benjamin J. Blencowe and Brendan J. Frey, “Deciphering the splicing code.3
    The paper is a triumph of information science that sounds reminiscent of the days of the World War II codebreakers.  Their methods included algebra, geometry, probability theory, vector calculus, information theory, code optimization, and other advanced methods.  One thing they had no need of was evolutionary theory, which was never mentioned in the paper.4  Their abstract reverberates with the dramatic tension of a rousing overture:
Here we describe the assembly of a ‘splicing code’, which uses combinations of hundreds of RNA features to predict tissue-dependent changes in alternative splicing for thousands of exons.  The code determines new classes of splicing patterns, identifies distinct regulatory programs in different tissues, and identifies mutation-verified regulatory sequencesWidespread regulatory strategies are revealed, including the use of unexpectedly large combinations of features, the establishment of low exon inclusion levels that are overcome by features in specific tissues, the appearance of features deeper into introns than previously appreciated, and the modulation of splice variant levels by transcript structure characteristics.  The code detected a class of exons whose inclusion silences expression in adult tissues by activating nonsense-mediated messenger RNA decay, but whose exclusion promotes expression during embryogenesis.  The code facilitates the discovery and detailed characterization of regulated alternative splicing events on a genome-wide scale.
The interdisciplinary team that cracked the code consists of specialists from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as the Department of Molecular Genetics – and Frey works for Microsoft Research.  Like the codebreakers of old, Frey and Barash developed “a new computer-assisted biological analysis method that finds ‘codewords’ hidden within the genome.”  Taking vast amounts of data generated by the molecular geneticists, the group “reverse-engineered” the splicing code until they could predict how it would act.  Once they got a handle on it, they tested it with mutations, and watched exons get inserted or deleted as they predicted.  They found that the code can even cause tissue-specific changes, or act differently when the mouse is an embryo or an adult.  One gene, Xpo4, is implicated in cancer; they noted that “These findings support the conclusion that Xpo4 expression must be tightly controlled such that it is active during embryogenesis but downregulated in adult tissues, to avoid possible deleterious consequences including oncogenesis” (cancer).  It appears they were quite astonished at the level of control they were witnessing.  Intentionally or not, Frey used the language of intelligent design – not that of random variation and selection – as the key to their approach: “Understanding a complex biological system is like understanding a complex electronic circuit.
    Heidi Ledford said that the apparent simplicity of the Watson-Crick genetic code, with its four bases, triplet codons, 20 amino acids and 64 DNA “words” – conceals a universe of complexity beneath the surface.1  The Splicing Code-within-the-code is much more complex:
But between DNA and proteins comes RNA, and an expanding realm of complexity.  RNA is a shape-shifter, sometimes carrying genetic messages and sometimes regulating them, adopting a multitude of structures that can affect its function.  In a paper published in this issue (see page 53), a team of researchers led by Benjamin Blencowe and Brendan Frey of the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, reports the first attempt to define a second genetic code: one that predicts how segments of messenger RNA transcribed from a given gene can be mixed and matched to yield multiple products in different tissues, a process called alternative splicing.  This time there is no simple table – in its place are algorithms that combine more than 200 different features of DNA with predictions of RNA structure.

The work highlights the rapid progress that computational methods have made in modelling the RNA landscape.  In addition to understanding alternative splicing, informatics is helping researchers to predict RNA structures, and to identify the targets of small regulatory snippets of RNA that do not encode protein.  “It’s an exciting time,” says Christopher Burge, a computational biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.  “There's going to be a lot of progress in the next few years.”

Informatics – computational biology – algorithms and codes – such concepts were never a part of Darwin’s vocabulary as he developed his theory.  Mendel had a vastly oversimplified computational model of how traits could be sorted out during inheritance, but even then, the idea that traits were encoded awaited discovery till 1953.  Now we see that the original genetic code is itself subject to an even more complex embedded code.  These are revolutionary ideas.  And there are indications of even further levels of control.  For instance, RNA and proteins have a three-dimensional structure, Ledford reminds us.  The functions of the molecules can change when the shape changes.  Something must control the folding so that the 3-D structure performs as required for function.  And then the access to genes appears to be regulated by another code, the histone code, that is encoded by molecular markers or “tails” on the histone proteins that serve as nuclei for DNA coiling and supercoiling.  Ledford spoke of an “ongoing renaissance in RNA informatics” characterizing our time.
    Tejedor and Valcárcel agreed with the complexity concealed by the simplicity.2  “At face value, it all sounds simple: DNA makes RNA, which then makes protein,” they began.  “But the reality is much more complex.”  We learned in the 1950s that the basic genetic code is shared by all living organisms from bacteria to humans.  But it soon became apparent that there was a bizarre, counter-intuitive feature in complex organisms (eukaryotes): their genomes were interrupted by introns that had to be snipped out so that the exons could be spliced together.  Why?  Now the fog is lifting: “An advantage of this mechanism is that it allows different cells to choose alternative means of pre-mRNA splicing and thus generates diverse messages from a single gene,” they explained.  “The variant mRNAs can then encode different proteins with distinct functions.”  You get more information out of less code – provided you have a code-within-the-code that knows how to do it.
    What makes cracking the splicing code so difficult is that the factors controlling what exons get assembled is determined by multiple factors: sequences adjacent to the exon boundaries, sequences in the exons, sequences in the introns, and regulatory factors that either assist or inhibit the splicing machinery.  Not only that, “the effects of a particular sequence or factor can vary depending on its location relative to the intron–exon boundaries or other regulatory motifs,” Tejedor and Valcárcel explained.  “ The challenge, therefore, is to compute the algebra of a myriad of sequence motifs, and the mutual relationships between the regulatory factors that recognize them, to predict tissue-specific splicing.”
    To solve the puzzle, the team fed the computer huge amounts of data on RNA sequences and the conditions under which they formed.  “The computer was then asked to identify the combination of features that could best explain the experimentally determined tissue-specific selection of exons.”  In other words, they reverse-engineered the code.  Like WWII codebreakers, once they knew the algorithm, they could make predictions: “It correctly identified alternative exons, and predicted their differential regulation between pairs of tissue types with considerable accuracy.”  And like a good scientific theory, the discovery led to new insights: “This allows reinterpretation of the function of previously defined regulatory motifs and suggests previously unknown properties of known regulators as well as unexpected functional links between them,” they said.  “For instance, the code inferred that the inclusion of exons that lead to truncated proteins is a common mechanism of gene-expression control during the transition between embryonic and adult tissues.
    Tejedor and Valcárcel see the publication of the paper as an important first step: “revealing the first piece of a much larger Rosetta Stone required to interpret the alternative messages of our genomes.”  Future work will undoubtedly improve our knowledge of this new code, they said.  In their ending, they referred to evolution briefly in a curious way: not to say that evolution produced these codes, but that progress will require understanding how codes interact.  Another surprising possibility is that the degree of conservation seen so far raises the possibility of “species-specific codes” –
The code is likely to work in a cell-autonomous manner and, consequently, may need to account for more than 200 cell types in mammals.  It will also have to deal with the extensive diversity of alternative-splicing patterns beyond simple decisions of single exon inclusion or skipping.  The limited evolutionary conservation of alternative-splicing regulation (estimated to be around 20% between humans and mice) opens up the question of species-specific codes.  Moreover, coupling between RNA processing and gene transcription influences alternative splicing, and recent data implicate the packing of DNA with histone proteins and histone covalent modifications – the epigenetic code – in the regulation of splicing.  The interplay between the histone and the splicing codes will therefore need to be accurately formulated in future approaches.  The same applies to the still poorly understood influence of complex RNA structures on alternative splicing.
Codes, codes, and more codes.  The near silence about Darwinism in any of these papers suggests that old-school evolutionary theorists will have a lot to ponder after reading these papers.  Meanwhile, those excited about the biology of codes will be on the cutting edge.  They can play with a cool web tool the codebreakers created to stimulate further research.  It can be found at the University of Toronto site, called WASP – “Website for Alternative Splicing Prediction.”  Visitors will look in vain for anything about evolution here, despite the old maxim that nothing in biology makes sense without it.  A new version for the 2010s might read, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of informatics.”
1.  Heidi Ledford, “The code within the code,” Nature 465, 16-17 (06 May 2010) | doi:10.1038/465016a.
2.  J. Ramón Tejedor and Juan Valcárcel, “Gene regulation: Breaking the second genetic code,” Nature 465, 44-46 (06 May 2010) | doi:10.1038/465045a.
3.  Yoseph Barash, John A. Calarco, Weijun Gao, Qun Pan, Xinchen Wang, Ofer Shai, Benjamin J. Blencowe and Brendan J. Frey, “Deciphering the splicing code,” Nature 465, 53-59 (06 May 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature09000.
4.  “Conservation” information is mentioned several times, but refers only to a measure of sequence similarity between species, e.g., between mice and human genomes.  Conservation does not have evolutionary significance without begging the question of evolution.
We are happy to bring you this story on the day of its release.  It may be one of the really big science papers of the year, or decade.  It could be Nobel Prize material.  (Any great discovery is, of course, surrounded by the work of many other teams, as was the work of Watson and Crick.)  What more can we add as commentary other than, “Wow”?  This is amazing confirmation of design, and a huge challenge to the Darwin Empire.  It will be interesting to see how they try to recast their simplistic 19th-century story of random mutation and natural selection in light of this.  Did you catch what Tejedor and Valcárcel said?  Species may have their own “species-specific” codes.  “The interplay between the histone [epigenetic] and splicing codes will therefore need to be accurately formulated in future approaches,” they said.  Being translated, that means: “Darwinists need not apply.  You don’t have the skills to handle this.”  If the plain-old Watson-Crick genetic code was a challenge to Darwinism, how now with the Splicing Code generating thousands of transcripts out of the same genes?  On top of that, the Epigenetic Code controls the context of gene expression.  It may well be that the arrangement of chromosomes inside the nucleus plays a kind of coding role in the regulation of gene expression, too.  Who knows what other codes are involved in this incredible “interplay” we have only begun to read, like a Rosetta Stone just beginning to poke above the sand?
    Now that we are thinking codes and informatics, all kinds of new research paradigms come to mind.  What if the genome acts partly like a storage area network?  What if there is cryptography going on, or compression algorithms?  We should be thinking advanced information systems and storage technologies.  Maybe we will find some steganography even.  Undoubtedly there are additional robustness mechanisms, like backups and retrieval – perhaps that helps explain pseudogenes.  Whole-genome duplications may be responses to stress; other anomalies may be due to antivirus activity.  Some of these trails may prove useful markers for historical events that have nothing to do with universal common ancestry, but open up comparative genomics in terms of informatics and design for robustness, and the understanding of disease.
    The end of it all is an organism functioning in the world.  Think of a tiger: strong, sleek, unified, with a coat of fur marked with stripes, eyes and ears pointed forward, stalking through the jungle, equipped with all the muscles and bones and senses and behaviors it needs to live through the days and nights of a planet orbiting a star.  Above it are birds flying through the canopy.  Below are snails and small reptiles and ants.  Fish are darting in the river.  Hundreds of species of plants each know how to send their roots down and their leaves up and when to produce their flowers and fruits.  A team of human scientists carries their video cameras into the jungle hoping to remotely trigger them and capture footage of the elusive tiger.  In the soil below and within and without all these other organisms, trillions of microbes are functioning in their microcosmos.  All this is happening because of molecular codes translating and regulating chemistry into directed function.  What philosophers in ancient times could possibly have known that this level of computational, information-based complexity undergirded the stuff of life?  We are the generation blessed to discover these realities.
    Darwinists are in for rough going ahead.  The discoverers tried mutating the Splicing Code and got cancers and mistakes.  How are you going to navigate a fitness landscape now, when it is a minefield of catastrophes waiting to happen when one starts mucking with all these intertwined codes?  We know there is some built-in robustness and tolerance, but the picture emerging is a highly-complex, engineered, optimized informatics system – not a random arrangement of parts that can be endlessly tinkered with.  The whole idea of code is an intelligent design concept.  A. E. Wilder-Smith used to emphasize this.  A code implies a convention between two parties.  Convention – coming together – is an agreement in advance.  It implies planning and purpose.  The symbol SOS, he would say, we use by convention as a sign of distress.  SOS does not look like distress.  It does not smell like distress.  It does not feel like distress.  Nobody would know it means distress unless they understand the convention.  In the same way, the codon for alanine, GCC, does not look, smell or feel like alanine.  It would have nothing to do with alanine unless there were a pre-planned convention between two coding systems – the protein code and the DNA code – that “GCC shall mean alanine.”  To convey that convention, a family of translators, the aminoacyl-tRNA-synthetases, are employed to translate one code into the other.
    That should have nailed the case for design in the 1950s, and many creationists preached it effectively.  But the evolutionists are like fast-talking salesmen.  They wove their just-so stories about Tinker Bell zapping the code and creating new species by mutation and selection and convinced many that miracles can still happen.  OK, well now it’s 2010 and we have the Epigenetic Code and the Splicing Code, two codes much more complex and dynamic than the simple DNA code.  We have codes within codes, codes above and below codes – a hierarchy of codes.  They can’t just stick their finger in the pistol this time and bluff their way out of it with smooth talking now, not with cannons to the left of them and cannons to the right of them, a whole arsenal aimed at their vital parts.  This is a game changer.  The informatics age has grown around them and they are has-beens, like pike-thrusting Greeks facing modern tanks and helicopters.
    Sad to say, they don’t realize it; or if they do, they have no intention of conceding.  In fact, some of the worst and most vicious, intolerant and hateful anti-creationist, anti-design rhetoric in recent memory has been pouring forth from the Darwin-controlled journals and newspapers this week, right when the Splicing Code paper was being published.  Some examples will be forthcoming.  And as long as they have the microphones and control the institutions, many people are going to be misled into thinking they still have the high ground in science.  We bring you this material for you to read, study, understand, and arm yourselves with the information you need to combat bigoted bluffing blather with truth.  Now go do it.
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FYI
The Hong Kong team that claims they found Noah’s Ark at 14,000' on Mt. Ararat (04/28/2010) has responded firmly to critics who say the wood was reconstructed up there as part of an elaborate hoax.  “Impossible,” they say, and they explain why on NoahsArkSearch.net.  They still have yet to provide detailed measurements and scientific data, however, and many questions remain.
Update 12/07/2010: Randall Price was interviewed by CBN and claims he has proof it is a hoax by a disreputable guide who misled the Chinese team.  But he also claims his own team has found a rectangular anomaly under the ice with ground-penetrating radar, and hopes to excavate it next summer.  Video at World of the Bible.

Biomimetics: Design Science Is Flourishing     05/05/2010    
May 05, 2010 — Some research centers appear to be on the verge of a golden age – the age of biomimetics (the imitation of biological design).  Products that will change our lives are springing from designs inspired by studying how plants, animals and cells have solved real-world problems.  Although some of the research mentions evolution, the real power behind the research and development is the word design.  Here are just a few recent examples.

  1. Make a muscle:  Scientists at the University of British Columbia are taking inspiration from muscle proteins.  They want to design materials that mimic their mechanical properties, “which are a unique combination of strength, extensibility and resilience,” they said in their paper in Nature.1  The chief molecule responsible for these desirable properties is a giant protein aptly named titin.  It acts like a “complex molecular spring” thanks to “a series of individually folded immunoglobulin-like domains as well as largely unstructured unique sequences.”
        The scientists have now succeeded in recasting solid biomaterials by making “artificial elastomeric proteins that mimic the molecular architecture of titin” that “behave as rubber-like materials showing high resilience at low strain and as shock-absorber-like materials at high strain by effectively dissipating energy.”  They call it a new “muscle-mimetic biomaterial.”  Even though it is a passive substance, they can tweak it: “The mechanical properties of these biomaterials can be fine-tuned by adjusting the composition of the elastomeric proteins, providing the opportunity to develop biomaterials that are mimetic of different types of muscles,” they said.
        Wow; will this be the new flubber?  “We anticipate that these biomaterials will find applications in tissue engineering as scaffold and matrix for artificial muscles.”  Watch for the biceps on upcoming robots.  Elliot L. Chaikof commented on this paper in the same issue of Nature,2.  He said that biological materials are attractive because they allow for dissipation of energy and damping vibrations that prevent structural failure.  “The elasticity and energy-recovery properties of such structural proteins are therefore fine-tuned for their biological roles, and are crucial determinants of the normal physiological responses of a broad range of tissues, including those that comprise the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.”  The problem with synthetic materials in biomedical devices (microvalves, microactuators, etc.) is that “they cannot facilitate tissue repair, remodelling or regeneration, and they often provoke maladaptive host responses at tissue–material interfaces.”  Creating parts out of protein is therefore a worthy goal.  Chaikof reminds the reader that we are merely at the frontier:
    Lv and colleagues’ material is certainly impressive, but is it a true muscle mimic?  Muscles are complex molecular machines, in which several components are assembled into well-ordered structures capable of converting a stimulus into motion.  Titin is a major constituent of muscle, but a titin mimic alone does not reproduce all the properties of muscle – such as its tensile strength, or force-generating and force-sensing abilities.  In the absence of a self-repair mechanism, protein-based materials are also inherently susceptible to biological degradative processes after implantation, which could release ‘foreign’ protein fragments into the host.  For biomedical applications, such materials therefore need to be carefully assessed to ensure that no fragments cause adverse immune reactions.  Future work will undoubtedly address these issues, leading to creative designs and fabrication techniques for assembling artificial muscle elements that reproducibly and repeatedly respond on command, perform work, and function well after surgical implantation.
    Flubber basketball players may have to wait a while longer.  This job is harder than it looks.  Science Daily reproduced a press release from UBC about the progress so far; see also PhysOrg’s headline, “Designed biomaterials mimicking biology: Potential scaffold for muscle regeneration.”
  2. Moths are the prototype:  A perfectly non-reflecting display would be really cool for your eyeglasses or camera lenses.  “Moths are the prototype” for a new nanocoating being developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany.  Science Daily explained that moths have to avoid predators while flying about at night.  While other insects’ multi-faceted eyes shimmer under light, “the moth’s eyes are perfectly non-reflecting.”  That’s because “Tiny protuberances smaller than the wavelength of light form a periodic structure on the surface.  This nanostructure creates a gentle transition between the refractive indices of the air and the cornea.  As a result, the reflection of light is reduced and the moth remains undetected.
        That trick is being imitated in a new process that applies the anti-reflective surface structure during manufacture of the component, without having to add a second coating process.  This not only saves money but increases durability.  The materials the Fraunhofer team is making are strong, scratch-proof and easy to clean.  Imagine soon having cell phone displays, dashboard display covers, eyeglasses, and any other transparent surface that have all these desirable properties – thanks to the lowly moth.
  3. Purple is the new green:  Purple bacteria, that live in the bottom of lakes and in coral reefs, are among the very best at harvesting energy from sunlight.  According to an article in Science Daily, “Its natural design seems the best structural solution for harvesting solar energy.”  That’s why “Neil Johnson, a physicist and head of the inter-disciplinary research group in complexity in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami, thinks its cellular arrangement could be adapted for use in solar panels and other energy conversion devices to offer a more efficient way to garner energy from the sun.”
        Johnson said (without first-hand observation) that these bacteria have been around for billions of years, and “you would think they are really simple organisms and that everything is understood about them.”  But it was recently discovered that they can “adopt different cell designs depending on light intensity.”  That realization “could help direct design of future photoelectric devices.”
        Purple bacteria have some tricks up their sleeves.  They use a non-intuitive technique to squeeze more energy out of available light.  To optimize, they can’t stay wide open all the time; they have to adjust the input to the ability to process the energy – which they do.  They hit a balance: “purple bacteria create a design that balances the need to maximize the number of photons trapped and converted to chemical energy, and the need to protect the cell from an oversupply of energy that could damage it,” Johnson explained.
        At this point, the scientists are just trying to understand how the bacteria do it.  “Currently, the researchers are using their mathematical model and the help of supercomputers, to try to find a photosynthetic design even better than the one they found in purple bacteria, although outsmarting nature is proving to be a difficult task.”  Maybe its just too hard.  So why not save energy, and harness the bacteria themselves?  “Because these bacteria grow and repair themselves, the researchers hope this discovery can contribute to the work of scientists attempting to coat electronic devices with especially [sic] adapted photosynthetic bacteria, whose energy output could become part of the conventional electrical circuit, and guide the development of solar panels that can adapt to different light intensities.”
  4. Between the fern and the deep blue sea:  “Tiny Hydrophobic Water Ferns Could Help Ships Economize on Fuel,” Science Daily announced.  How is that?  “The hairs on the surface of water ferns could allow ships to have a 10 percent decrease in fuel consumption,” the article explained.  “The plant has the rare ability to put on a gauzy skirt of air under water.”  That translates into reduced friction, which translates into fuel savings.
        The tiny water fern Salvinia molesta is so hydrophobic, it never gets wet – even under water.  You can pull it out of the water and the water just drips right off, leaving it completely dry, even after it has been underwater for weeks.  Imagine having swimsuits and scuba equipment like that.  Previous attempts to create superhydrophobic materials have not been stable enough to last.  Scientists have known about the fine hydrophobic hairs on the water fern, but they recently discovered that the tips of the hairs are hydrophilic – they attract water.  Strange as that seems, it sets up a water layer that holds the air layer close to the plant.  One colleague was excited by this: “After the solving of the self-cleansing of the lotus leaf twenty years ago, the discovery of the salvinia effect is one of the most important new discoveries in bionics.
        Half the energy of moving a cargo ship through the water is caused by friction at the hull-water interface.  A ten percent saving on fuel costs by coating the hull with a salvinia-effect material could have an enormous impact.  “Surfaces modelled on the water fern could revolutionise shipbuilding,” the article concluded.
  5. Synchronized swimming:  The dancing of a school of fish like a single organism moving gracefully through the water is a visual treat.  “Nature shows and Caribbean vacation commercials often depict a school of fish moving as a single entity to avoid obstacles and elude prey,” PhysOrg agreed, adding, “Engineers hope to give unmanned mini-submarines, mini-helicopters and other autonomous vehicles the same coordinated movement.”  To do that, they first need to understand how the fish do it.
        “Fish signal one another via visual cues and hydrodynamics (the movement of water),” the article explains, describing research at the University of Maryland.  “A line of tiny hair cells down each side of a fish helps them to sense the flow of the water around them.”  A short video shows how the researchers are making their first clumsy attempts to get yard-long robotic submarines in a tank to read each other’s visual cues, using cameras, to steer.  Another researcher is working on the hair cell mimics.  All the while, they are monitoring a school of live fish called giant danios to learn from their coordinated movements.  They’ve learned that one fish getting startled can set off a “wave of agitation” that propagates from neighbor to neighbors.  Another video shows computer models built on the observations.  “We’re developing modern engineering tools to quantitatively study this phenomenon,” the lead researcher said, an aerospace engineering professor with the design-friendly name Paley.  “We’re taking methods you learn as an engineering student and applying them to study biology.”  Next stop: synchronized aerial vehicles exploring the eyes of hurricanes, schools of unmanned submarines gathering data in the deep ocean, maybe even synchronized spacecraft.
  6. Autonomous roach robots:  Artificial robots, including drones, unmanned subs, Mars rovers and spacecraft, have to be driven by humans.  Often it takes too long for signals to reach the moving parts to avert danger, and the robot gets stuck.  Roy Ritzmann at Case Western Reserve University is envious of roaches.  They respond to obstacles so nimbly, he decided to wire their neurons to see how fast their brains command their legs.  PhysOrg describes his work in “If only a robot could be more like a cockroach.”
        The way we design robots now is too clumsy for the kind of work we need them to do – to go into the World Trade Center looking for victims, or other rescue situations.  “So, to make a robot that can turn, back up, climb over or burrow under and obstacle without the guidance of a far off rescue worker using computer controls, what could be better than mimicking an insect’s comparatively simple brain?” Ritzmann thought.  “Easier said than done,” found Ritzmann and his assistant Allan Pollack.  If you can imagine doing brain surgery on the head of a pin, that’s about what it took to wire a roach brain to study its neuron firing patterns when it walks.  They found that steps occur about 450 milliseconds after a neuron fires.  The cockroach is controlling the speed of its legs with its brain.  If we can ever get our robots to do that, we’ll really have something – especially if we can get them that small, and able to climb walls and reproduce themselves.  On second thought... restaurants, watch out.
Overlapping with biomimetics is genetic engineering.  Once living designs are understood, they can be tweaked in ways humans desire.  New Scientist reported on ways that plant leaf shape, stomata density and photosynthesis rate might be adjusted genetically.  Linda Geddes began the article on “Designing Leaves” by saying, “From blades of grass to the cup-like fly-catcher of the pitcher plant, the diversity of leaf shapes, sizes and structures is stunning.  It is also incredibly useful, allowing plants to live nearly everywhere on Earth, from the deserts of the US Midwest to the lush shores of the Amazon.  Now the precise molecular switches that control the process are being unpicked.”  Once we understand how leaves grow and prosper, the question becomes, “what does an optimal leaf look like and can we design one?”  If so, we may be on the verge of the next green revolution – producing crops with dramatically increased yields, making food plants more resilient to heat and drought, and taking the guesswork out of selective breeding.

1.  Lv, Dudek, Cao, Balamurali, Gosline and Li, “Designed biomaterials to mimic the mechanical properties of muscles,” Nature 465, 69–73 06 May 2010; doi:10.1038/nature09024.
2.  Elliot L. Chaikof, “Materials science: Muscle mimic,” Nature 465, 44–45 06 May 2010; doi:10.1038/465044a.
All together now: “These articles said nothing about evolution.”  This is all design, design, design.  We are marveling at the design and complexity of living solutions to real engineering problems, and trying to imitate them.  If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, who are we trying to honor?  For any Darwin Party maniacs reading this, worried that the r-word is coming, notice that all this research, though completely compatible with an intelligent-design approach to science, had nothing to do with religion.  It shows that science can approach nature with regard to intelligent design without focusing on the identity of the designer, Designer, or God.
    In the ID Revolution, everyone can join in and get on board without starting a religious war, because the focus is on design detection and design imitation.  Questions about the Designer are, of course, very interesting and important, and very compatible with all this research, but those discussions can be left in the hands of capable theologians and philosophers.  Individual scientists do not have to state their affiliations in their papers.  None of these did; and none of these felt compelled to tell Darwinian tales, either.  If journals will just loosen the reins, and let scientists like these talk about design, even intelligent design, without getting whipped for using the phrase, all they would be doing is validating what is already taking place.
    Simultaneously, journals need to relax the requirement for allegiance to Darwinism.  Just-so stories are becoming so 1940s.  It’s getting harder and harder for observational scientists to maintain belief that blind chance could produce optimized computers (see next entry), synchronized robots, perfectly non-reflecting surfaces, and so many other marvels.  Isn’t it time to jettison the bad habit of force-fitting Information-Age discoveries into a worn-out Victorian mindset?  Intelligent design science is not so much about controversial additions to science.  As you can see in the articles above, design thinking is already being put to great use.  It’s more about some blessed subtractions.
Next headline on:  Human BodyTerrestrial ZoologyCell BiologyPlantsMarine BiologyPhysicsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  Evolutionists have made a big deal out of their ability to weave stories of eye evolution from a light-sensitive patch to the complex eyes of humans and octopi.  Then what are we to make of the visual systems of the box jellyfish?  Read all about the eyes of these amazing creatures in the 05/13/2005 entry.

Darwin’s Linux: Did Evolution Produce a Computer?     05/04/2010    
May 04, 2010 — How is a cell like a computer?  Some Yale scientists asked that question, and embarked on a project to compare the genome of a lowly bacterium to a computer’s operating system.1.  Their work was published in PNAS.2  As with most analogies, some things were found to be similar, and some different – but in the end, these two entities might be more similar overall in important respects.
    The interdisciplinary team, composed of members of the Computer Science department and the Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry department, calls itself the Program in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics.  Recognizing that “The genome has often been called the operating system (OS) for a living organism,” they decided to explore the analogy.  For subjects, they took the E. coli bacterium, one of the best-studied prokaryotic cells, and Linux, a popular Unix-based operating system.  The abstract reveals the basic findings, but there’s more under the hood:

To apply our firsthand knowledge of the architecture of software systems to understand cellular design principles, we present a comparison between the transcriptional regulatory network of a well-studied bacterium (Escherichia coli) and the call graph of a canonical OS (Linux) in terms of topology and evolution.  We show that both networks have a fundamentally hierarchical layout, but there is a key difference: The transcriptional regulatory network possesses a few global regulators at the top and many targets at the bottom; conversely, the call graph has many regulators controlling a small set of generic functions.  This top-heavy organization leads to highly overlapping functional modules in the call graph, in contrast to the relatively independent modules in the regulatory network.  We further develop a way to measure evolutionary rates comparably between the two networks and explain this difference in terms of network evolution.  The process of biological evolution via random mutation and subsequent selection tightly constrains the evolution of regulatory network hubs.  The call graph, however, exhibits rapid evolution of its highly connected generic components, made possible by designers’ continual fine-tuning.  These findings stem from the design principles of the two systems: robustness for biological systems and cost effectiveness (reuse) for software systems.
We see they have already concocted a curious mixture of designer language and evolution language.  The design language continues in the heart of the paper.  Design principles, optimization, constraints, frameworks, interconnections, information processing – these engineering phrases are ubiquitous.  Consider this paragraph that starts with “master control plan.”  They applied it not to Linux but to the cell, which is found to have many similarities to the master control plan of the computer operating system:
The master control plan of a cell is its transcriptional regulatory network.  The transcriptional regulatory network coordinates gene expression in response to environmental and intracellular signals, resulting in the execution of cellular processes such as cell divisions and metabolism.  Understanding how cellular control processes are orchestrated by transcription factors (TFs) is a fundamental objective of systems biology, and therefore a great deal of effort has been focused on understanding the structure and evolution of transcriptional regulatory networks.  Analogous to the transcriptional regulatory network in a cell, a computer OS consists of thousands of functions organized into a so-called call graph, which is a directed network whose nodes are functions with directed edges leading from a function to each other function it calls.  Whereas the genome-wide transcriptional regulatory network and the call graph are static representations of all possible regulatory relationships and calls, both transcription regulation and function activation are dynamic.  Different sets of transcription factors and target genes forming so-called functional modules are activated at different times and in response to different environmental conditions.  In the same way, complex OSs are organized into modules consisting of functions that are executed for various tasks.
And yet, on the other hand, the team felt that both the cell and Linux vary under processes of evolution:
Like biological systems, software systems such as a computer operating system (OS) are adaptive systems undergoing evolution.  Whereas the evolution of biological systems is subject to natural selection, the evolution of software systems is under the constraints of hardware architecture and customer requirements.  Since the pioneering work of Lehman, the evolutionary pressure on software has been studied among engineers.  Interestingly enough, biological and software systems both execute information processing tasks.  Whereas biological information processing is mediated by complex interactions between genes, proteins, and various small molecules, software systems exhibit a comparable level of complexity in the interconnections between functions.  Understanding the structure and evolution of their underlying networks sheds light on the design principles of both natural and man-made information processing systems.
These paragraphs provide a flavor of the basic assumptions of the paper: that cells and OSs are analogous in their design principles and in their evolution.  So what did they find?  Their most eye-catching chart shows that Linux is top-heavy with master regulators and middle management functions, whereas a cell’s transcription network is bottom-heavy with workhorse proteins and few top management functions.  The illustration has been reproduced in an article on PhysOrg with the interesting headline, “Scientists Explain Why Computers Crash But We Don’t.”
    A table in the Discussion section of the paper summarizes the main similarities and differences they found.  Here are some noteworthy examples:
  1. Cells are constrained by the environment; Linux by the hardware and customer needs.
  2. Cells evolve by natural selection; Linux evolves by designers’ fine-tuning.
  3. Cells have a pyramid-shaped hierarchy; Linux is top-heavy.
  4. Cells don’t reuse genes much, but Linux reuses function calls often.
  5. Cells don’t allow much overlap between modules, but Linux does.
  6. Cells have many specialized workhorses; Linux concentrates on generic functions.
  7. Cell evolutionary rates are mostly conservative; in Linux, they are conservative to adaptive.
  8. Cell design principles are bottom up; in Linux, they are top down.
  9. Cells are optimized for robustness; Linux is optimized for cost effectiveness.
The differences seem to be winning.  Cells and Operating Systems have different constraints; therefore, they have different design principles and optimization.  But not so fast; the team only studied a very lowly bacterium.  What would happen if they expanded their study upward into the complex world of eukaryotes?  Here’s how the paper ended:
Reuse is extremely common in designing man-made systems.  For biological systems, to what extent they reuse their repertoires and by what means sustain robustness at the same time are questions of much interest.  It was recently proposed that the repertoire of enzymes could be viewed as the toolbox of an organism As the genome of an organism grows larger, it can reuse its tools more often and thus require fewer and fewer new tools for novel metabolic tasks.  In other words, the number of enzymes grows slower than the number of transcription factors when the size of the genome increases.  Previous studies have made the related finding that as one moves towards more complex organisms, the transcriptional regulatory network has an increasingly top-heavy structure with a relatively narrow base.  Thus, it may be that further analysis will demonstrate the increasing resemblance of more complex eukaryotic regulatory networks to the structure of the Linux call graph.

1.  An operating system is the foundational software on a computer that runs applications.  A useful analogy is the management company for a convention center.  It doesn’t run conventions itself, but it knows the hardware (exhibit halls, restrooms, lights, water, power, catering) and has the personnel to operate the facilities so that a visiting company (application) can run their convention at the center.
2.  Yan, Fang, Bhardwaj, Alexander, and Gerstein, “Comparing genomes to computer operating systems in terms of the topology and evolution of their regulatory control networks,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published online before print May 3, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0914771107.
This is a really interesting paper, because it illustrates the intellectual schizophrenia of the modern Darwinist in the information age.  It might be analogous to a post-Stalin-era communist ideologue trying to recast Marxist-Leninist theory for the late 1980s, when the failures of collectivism have long been painfully apparent to everyone except the party faithful.  With a half-hearted smile, he says, “So we see, that capitalism does appear to work in certain environments under different constraints; in fact, it may well turn out to be the final stage of the proletarian revolution.”  Well, for crying out loud, then, why not save a step, and skip over the gulags to the promised land of freedom!
    You notice that the old Darwin Party natural-selection ideology was everywhere assumed, not demonstrated.  The analogy of natural selection to “customer requirements and designers’ fine-tuning” is strained to put it charitably; to put it realistically, it is hilariously funny.  The authors nowhere demonstrated that robustness is a less worthy design goal than cost-effectiveness.  For a cell cast into a dynamic world, needing to survive, what design goal could be more important than robustness?  Linux lives at predictable temperatures in nice, comfortable office spaces.  Its designers have to design for paying customers.  As a result, “the operating system is more vulnerable to breakdowns because even simple updates to a generic routine can be very disruptive,” PhysOrg admitted.  Bacteria have to live out in nature.  A cost-effective E. coli is a dead E. coli.  The designer did a pretty good job to make those critters survive all kinds of catastrophes on this planet.  The PhysOrg article simply swept this difference into the evolutionary storytelling motor mouth, mumbling of the bacterial design, that “over billions of years of evolution, such an organization has proven robust.”  That would be like our communist spin doctor alleging that the success of capitalism proves the truth of Marxist doctrine.
    A simple bacterial genome shows incredibly successful design for robustness when compared to a computer operating system, albeit at the cost of low reuse of modules.  But then the authors admitted the possibility that eukaryotes might well have achieved both robustness and modular reusability.  That would make the comparison to artificial operating systems too close to call.  If we know that Linux did not evolve by mutations and natural selection, then it is a pretty good bet that giraffes and bats and whales and humans did not, either.  That should be enough to get Phillip Johnson’s stirring speech, “Mr. Darwin, Tear down this wall!” to stimulate a groundswell of discontent with the outmoded regime.  May it lead to a sudden and surprising demise of its icons, and a new birth of academic freedom.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsDarwin and EvolutionIntelligent Design
Archer Fish Sees Clearly Up and Down     05/03/2010    
May 03, 2010 — The archer fish, which lives in mangrove swamps and rivers, is able to spit insects off leaves above the water with remarkable accuracy (09/30/2002, 09/07/2004, 10/10/2006).  Scientists have been fascinated by this ability because in order for the fish to calculate the trajectory of its missiles, it needs to take into account both chromatic aberration and refraction from the air-water interface.  Now, scientists at the University of Queensland have determined that the little fish can see up into the air and down into the water clearly at the same time.  This enables them to aim at the prey while watching for predators, even though the color and refractive characteristics of the two directions are different.
    PhysOrg carried the press release from the University of Queensland, Australia, which said,
“Archerfish spit jets of water with remarkable accuracy at insects as much as a meter or more above the water’s surface, despite the distortion that occurs due to the bending of light as it passes from air to water.  They do all this while being attentive to potential predators approaching from above or below” said lead investigator Dr Shelby Temple.
The press release indicated that most vertebrate taxa are known to have differences in color sensitivity across the retina, but this is the first time a functional role has been discovered for the phenomenon.  Dr. Temple explained, “The correlation we found between the colour sensitivity of the archerfish eye for ‘looking’ in different directions and the background environment in those different directions indicates that the archerfish eye is highly tuned to differences in the spectral quality of light in different directions.”
    The article tried to give an evolutionary explanation for this ability in archerfish and other vertebrates.  “As this story shows, when they have specific necessary tasks, animals often come up with remarkable adaptations to help them survive,” said Justin Marshall, a professor at the University and Temple’s supervisor.  That, of course, begs the question of how animals come up with adaptations, or whether they are even capable of wanting to come up with them, or knowing that they need to, even if they could.  His question-begging only dug in worse when he mixed evolution and design words, and compared evolution to engineering:
“The innovation in design here is called ‘matched filtering’ where the visual system takes into account the environment and, through evolution, adjusts its self [sic] to the outside world.  Under water, this world changes more rapidly from top to bottom than it does in air and archerfish have come up with a neat system of accounting for this change and retaining exquisitely tuned vision in every direction at once.  This design principle is something we can learn from in our own attempts at engineering.
Would this reasoning be invertible?  If human engineers were to copy the design principles in the archerfish, would it be called evolution?
Student to Professor: You have just failed your test on Darwinism.  Bad prof.  As punishment, you must wear this dunce cap and write on the chalkboard fifty times, “Evolution is not engineering, and vice versa.”
    By now long-time readers have honed their ability to spot the tricks evolutionists use to cover their miracles.  Animals “come up with” adaptations.  An “innovation in design” occurs.  The innovation is called “matched filtering”.  The visual system “takes into account the environment, and through evolution, adjusts itself”.  Archerfish have “come up with a neat system” that amounts to a “design principle”.  See?  There’s no such thing as a consistent Darwinist.  Everybody is a supernaturalist.  Evolutionists really do believe in intelligent design.  Force them to admit it.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyBiomimeticsIntelligent Design
Are There Limits to Scientific Speculation?  A Royal Case     05/02/2010    
May 02, 2010 — Question: When does science become like a priesthood?  Answer: When its practitioners engage in speculation on big questions impossible to verify with empirical observations.  Is this what the chief astronomer in Britain is doing?
    Sir Martin Rees certainly would not have thought of himself as a priest as he wrote an article for the BBC News, “Hubble’s Role in the Search for Aliens.”  As the Astronomer Royal of Britain, master of Trinity College and president of the Royal Society, he fancies himself as a scientist.  We think of scientists as dealing in observation, empiricism, data, evidence.  How many of the following statements are amenable to experimental verification, at least within his own lifetime or a reasonable extension of our civilization’s (say, a few decades), such that his statements could be verified within the memory of people hearing him?
  1. We have established, in outline, a consensus picture of how, from a hot dense beginning nearly 14 billion years ago, our expanding universe developed galaxies, stars and planets.
  2. We can set our entire solar system in a grand evolving scenario stretching back to a Big Bang – an era when everything was hotter than the centres of stars, and expanding on a timescale of a few seconds.
  3. If there is life on Mars, it is very primitive.
  4. But could some newly discovered planets orbiting other stars harbour biospheres as complex as our Earth’s, perhaps with intelligent life?
  5. There are on-going searches for transmissions that might be “artificial” in origin.... Despite the heavy odds against success, I certainly support these efforts, because of the philosophical import of any detection of a manifestly artificial signal.
  6. Even if we couldn’t make much sense of it, we’d have learnt that “intelligence” wasn’t unique to the hardware inside human skulls, and had emerged elsewhere.
  7. When we look at Andromeda, we sometimes wonder if there may be other beings looking back at us.
    Maybe there are.
    But on these remote galaxies there surely aren’t.  Their stars haven’t have had time to fuse pristine hydrogen into carbon, oxygen and silicon – the atoms needed for planets and life.
  8. What about the far future?  Six billion years from now, when the sun dies,....
  9. But what might happen still further ahead?.... The best long-range forecast, therefore, is that the cosmos will continue to expand, becoming ever emptier, ever darker and ever colder.
  10. We can’t predict what role life will eventually carve out for itself: it could become extinct; on the other hand, it could achieve such dominance that it can influence the entire cosmos.
    The latter is the province of science fiction, but it can’t be dismissed as absurd.
  11. After all, it’s taken little more than one billion years for natural selection to lead from the first multi-cellular organisms to Earth’s present biosphere (including us).
Rees continued by espousing inflation theory and other consensus ideas in cosmology.  His speculations were all encompassing, from the origin of everything to the eternal future, from the emergence of life in galaxies he will never see, to its evolving to the point of a kind of godhood over the entire cosmos in eons long after his own death.  Even the “mysteries” of the universe were things he felt comfortable discussing as a scientific spokesman.
Other than the elevated language, this sounds like the kind of storytelling a shaman would tell gullible tribespeople around a campfire, or a Chaldean would explain to the Assyrian king and his lords to amaze them with the mysteries of the universe.  We need to think big picture, you know; Year 2010 A.D. is nothing in the big scheme of things, especially when you want to talk billions of years and the births and deaths of galaxies.  Rees is a blip on a screen of no consequence to the scientist in Andromeda who is 100 times his superior intellectually.  For all he knows, the Andromedans are creationists.
    With all due respect to Sir Rees and his education and accomplishments in science, what does he know about these things?  What does he know about life on Mars?  Nothing.  What does he know about the beings in Andromeda looking back at us?  Nothing.  What does he know about the first microseconds of the universe?  Nothing.  What does he know about what came before that?  Nothing.  What does he know about inflation?  Nothing.  What does he know about the universe six billion years from now?  Nothing.  What does he know about the interior of stars, the atmospheres of exoplanets, the hardware inside human skulls that give rise to the mind, the conditions for life, and whether those conditions exist in distant galaxies?  (We use the term “know” advisedly, because having theories about them is not the same as knowing first-hand.)  Nothing to very little.  If he restricted his science to empiricism, his essay would be very short, and very dull.  Speculating like a shaman is a lot more fun.  That does not make it truthful.  Wearing badges of authority, like advanced degrees, knighthood, the consensus, and the respect of one’s peers, does not confer truthfulness either.  Ancient authorities had their badges of honor, too.  Modern scientific authority is supposed to be derived from its rigorous, slavish dependence on experimental methods that are observable, testable, and repeatable.  OK, Dr. Rees, we’d like to see them.
    We have another challenge to Dr. Rees.  Our readers will notice that Darwinism is a linchpin of his argument – “it’s taken little more than one billion years for natural selection to lead from the first multi-cellular organisms to Earth’s present biosphere (including us).”  Yet he turned right around and validated intelligent design, by supporting SETI – “searches for transmissions that might be ‘artificial’ in origin.... ”  Why do you put “artificial” in quotes, Dr. Rees?  Define artificial.  In your world view, there is no such thing.  Everything has to be “natural” because it all came out of the big bang.  Oh, we get it; that’s why you also put “intelligence” in quotes later on – “Even if we couldn’t make much sense of it [i.e., the alien message to us], we’d have learnt that ‘intelligence’ wasn’t unique to the hardware inside human skulls, and had emerged elsewhere.”  So intelligence is not really intelligence; it’s just an artifact of hardware.  It just emerged.  How did that happen?  Was it a miracle?  Once it emerged, how was its power to connect to reality validated?  You talked about the “philosophical import of any detection of a manifestly artificial signal.”  What is philosophy?  Is it something that refers to that which is universal, necessary, timeless and certain – i.e., something prior to, and outside the big bang?  If not, if it “emerged” after the big bang, maybe it will evolve, too.  If it evolves, how do we know that the “truth claims” you allege today might not evolve into their opposites, such that a future Scientific Priest six billion years from now might proclaim as true that the big bang never happened, and Darwinism is a myth?  How do you distinguish a “manifestly artificial signal” from a natural artificial signal, if everything in your world view must be natural by definition?  Is your philosophy ultimately derived from hydrogen?  Then how can you possibly contend that it offers knowledge, whatever that is?  But if you aren’t offering knowledge, we’re not interested in what you have to sell.
    So let’s assess the credibility of Sir Martin Rees, Chief Priest and Knight of the Secular Cross of the Royal Empire of the United Kingdom.  He fancies himself a naturalist, but believes in miracles (emergence).  He fancies himself a Darwinist but believes in intelligent design methods (detection of SETI messages as “manifestly artificial”).  He is a scientist but spent 95% of his time talking about things with no experimental evidence to support them.  As a scientist, he is supposed to be an empiricist but referred to consensus, an argument from group authority.  He pretended to be intelligent, but put “intelligence” in quotes, indicating he does not believe intelligence is real.  So why is he trying to reason with us?  Can we not assume the poor soul is babbling like a madman?  His views are hopelessly muddled and inconsistent; he must be judged, therefore, a false prophet.  In the old days he would be stoned.  These days, they do it painlessly at the Royal Pub; take him away and give him a rocking good time with some adult beverages to put him out of our misery.

Footnote:  In an interview for New Statesman, Dr. Rees said that “creationists are people who are intellectually deprived.”  And why is that?  “They don’t appreciate the wonderful story that science has opened up for us.”  (By that he means molecules to man evolution, with Charles Darwin the Grand Poobah Storyteller.)  Well, Dr. Rees, if you’re talking stories, the Chaldeans, Greeks and Egyptians had a lot more sex and drama in theirs.  Even the interviewer was a little taken aback by his answer: “‘Story’ is an unusual way to describe it,” Sophie Elmhirst said (good for her).  Stick it to him, Sophie; as Stan Freberg remarked, “we’re tired of this Royal jazz.”  The Royal Society, of which you are president, founded largely by creationists, was built on the principle of “nothing on mere authority.”  Certainly you don’t want us to believe your big sweeping story on the basis of your authority or Darwin’s, do you, or because you can ridicule those who disagree with your story?  Stupid is as stupid does.  Sweeping away your critics with a cheap insult is not exactly the way to establish yourself as intellectually advantaged.  Maybe a little wisdom will emerge from your hangover.
Next headline on:  AstronomyCosmologySETIDarwin and EvolutionIntelligent Design

  Homology explained – take the tutorial on a key Darwinian concept in “Homology for Dummies,” 05/05/2004.

Dino-Feather Story Gets Fluffier     05/01/2010    
May 1, 2010 — Xing Xu is at it again, claiming that dinosaur feathers are found everywhere – in China, at least, where the bulk of “feathered dinosaur” claims keep turning up in farmyards.  The latest claim is that “Feather structures in maturing dinosaurs changed as they grew.”  This story is accompanied by artwork showing the critters looking as big and fierce as dinosaur monsters (see PhysOrg and National Geographic); in reality, though, they would have been as small as pigeons.
    Xu’s paper in Nature concerns two specimens of Similicaudipteryx, which is, obviously, similar to Caudipteryx.  Yet Caudipteryx has long been considered by some as not a dinosaur but a member of the class Aves (birds) that became secondarily flightless (see 12/27/2000, 01/25/2008, 01/21/2009).  Since none of the critics of dinosaur-to-bird evolution were allowed to rebut the claims of the paper in Nature, it is hard to have confidence this fossil has anything to say about a transition from dinosaurs to birds.
    Xu claims that the plumage patterns seen in these few fossils “suggests that early feathers were developmentally more diverse than modern ones” and have no counterparts in modern birds.  This is assuming that his team has correctly identified the fossils of extinct animals as members of the same species and can know their ages within acceptable margins of error without having living examples to observe.  Even if that is true, the results do not provide any simple story for the evolution of feathers.  Instead, it appears that modern birds’ moulting habits are simpler now than they were in the past.


1.  Xing Xu, Xiaoting Zheng, Hailu You, Exceptional dinosaur fossils show ontogenetic development of early feathers,” Nature 464, 1338-1341 (29 April 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature08965.
The supplemental materials in Xu’s paper include a phylogenetic tree showing all the dinosaur groups that supposedly have feathers, and the feather types that have been found.  At first glance it looks impressive, but a closer look raises questions.  He has tyrannosaurids mixed in with the oviraptors and velociraptors and all these other animals.  The cladogram supposedly shows ancestral relationships, with feather types at the tips of each group.  You look at the feather types, though, and the clear bird feathers (pennate feathers with quills and barbs and barbules, and asymmetric flight feathers) have question marks by half the groups.  You read the caption and find his disclaimer that the evidence is questionable for these.  The ones that have the bird-like feathers could be said to be extinct bird lineages or secondarily flightless birds. 
    And then think about placing a T. rex anywhere near in the same classification scheme with little pigeon-size birdy things and you have to wonder if something isn’t seriously wrong here.  Classification schemes are, after all, man-made.  They don’t jump out of the data.  Fossils show mosaics of traits in complex ways.  We don’t have the soft tissues, the behaviors, and the environments to flesh out many important details.  Another group of scientists starting with different assumptions (shall we say, without evolutionary assumptions) could conceivably categorize these fossils in completely different ways.  Consider, for instance, that the grouping “maniraptorans” was concocted to include both birds and dinosaurs (01/29/2010), by the same people wishing to show they are evolutionarily related.  That raises charges of circular reasoning.
    Xu tries to answer the argument that some of the feather-like structures might have been flayed collagen, but we need to see the counter-arguments from Feduccia and the guys at University of Oregon (02/09/2010).  Nature, Science and National Geographic are giving way too much press to one side, to the Mr. Feathered Dinosaur guy Xing Xu.  This is not good science.  The whole story is not being heard.
Next headline on:  BirdsDinosaursFossils
May 1, 2010 – Under the Influence needs its subtitle attached to avoid sounding like a book about something else.  The subtitle is: “How Christianity Transformed Civilization.”  Written by Alvin J. Schmidt, PhD, a retired professor of sociology at Illinois College, this book is a springboard for research.  It covers a lot of ground.  Its 15 chapters and 400 pages can only briefly acquaint the reader with hundreds of fascinating characters and interesting subjects, but Schmidt managed to pack many interesting and little-known facts into his volume.  Readers should be aware that the author is not intending to portray every character as an exemplary Christian in every way, but rather to show that the Christian world view has a cumulative positive effect on society.
    Under the Influence (Zondervan, 2001) is a tour de force that proves the case for Christianity being a blessing for civilization from every angle.  Schmidt shows how Christianity elevated the dignity of human life, elevated sexual morality, gave women freedom and dignity, motivated charity and compassion, furthered health care, fostered education, improved labor and economic freedom, promoted liberty and justice for all, abolished slavery, stimulated art and architecture, elevated music and literature and language, and – of interest to CEH readers – was a driving force behind the advance of science.  What has Darwin done for you lately in any one of these areas?
    The book has a foreword by Dr. Paul L. Maier, several dozen black-and-white illustrations, photos, and charts, dozens of references at the end of each chapter, and a thorough index.  Published by Zondervan (2001), you can obtain it from Amazon.com, where all 8 reviewers gave it 5 stars.
Next resource of the week:  04/23/2010.  All resources: Catalog.

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“...this is one of the websites (I have like 4 or 5 on my favorites), and this is there.  It’s a remarkable clearinghouse of information; it’s very well written, it’s to the point... a broad range of topics.  I have been alerted to more interesting pieces of information on [this] website than any other website I can think of.”
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“I would assume that you, or anyone affiliated with your website is simply not qualified to answer any questions regarding that subject [evolution], because I can almost single-handedly refute all of your arguments with solid scientific arguments.... Also, just so you know, the modern theory of evolution does not refute the existence of a god, and it in no way says that humans are not special.  Think about that before you go trying to discredit one of the most important and revolutionary scientific ideas of human history.  It is very disrespectful to the people who have spent their entire lives trying to reveal some kind of truth in this otherwise crazy world.”
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    Anyone who has interest at where science, as a whole, is at in our current times, does not have to look very hard to see that science is on the verge of a new awakening....
    It’s not uncommon to find articles that are supplemented with assumptions and vagueness.  A view point the would rather keep knowledge in the dark ages.  But when I read over the postings on CEH, I find a view point that looks past the grayness.  The whole team at CEH helps cut through the assumptions of weary influences.
    CEH helps illuminate the true picture that is shining in today’s science.  A bright clear picture, full of intriguing details, independence and fascinating complexities.
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(a retired biology teacher in New Jersey, whose blog features beautiful plant and insect photographs)

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(a software development team leader in Texas)

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

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

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

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Featured Creation Scientist for May

James Simpson
1811 - 1870

This month’s biography is a true story of how the Bible helped advance science and alleviate needless suffering.  It’s the story of the man who invented the use of chloroform in surgery – the surgeon and obstetrician, Dr. James Simpson.

James Young Simpson was the 8th child, and 7th son, of a poor baker in Scotland.  His mother died when he was 9; the fifth son also died young.  John Hudson Tiner says in Those Who Dare, pp. 170-171 (Resource of the Week for 04/23/2010) that the family could only afford to send one child to school.  Because James showed the most promise, he was selected.  He entered the University of Edinburgh at age 14 and graduated with a medical degree at age 21.

It’s hard to imagine today that surgery was done without benefit of painkillers or anesthesia till the mid-19th century.  There was alcohol, of course, and some opiates that could make people dopey or sleepy that were known since antiquity.  Recall that in Romeo and Juliet the protagonists feigned death, probably with the use of a soporific sponge with which Shakespeare may have been familiar.  Before actual anesthesia was born in the mid-1840s, surgery was a horrendous affair.  Operating rooms were located far from hospitals where people could not hear the screams.  Patients were strapped down, given liquor or opiates, and cut up and sewn up as quickly as possible.  Imagine being a surgeon and having to put people in agony day after day.  No wonder surgeons had a reputation for being heartless, uncaring individuals.  All that suddenly and dramatically changed in 1846-1847.

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas), discovered by Joseph Priestly, and introduced by Humphrey Davy in 1799, had been found to be effective in dental surgery around 1845.  Ether was introduced in a dramatic surgical demonstration by the American physician William Morton on October 16, 1846; co-priority was claimed by Harvard chemist Charles Jackson a week later.  But early attempts at the use of ether were met with great risk; ether was noxious and flammable, and with gas lamps around, explosions could occur.

James Simpson experimented with other substances using a risky trial and error procedure: he and two friends would sniff various chemicals to see if they had any anesthetic effects.  Since we prefer not to consider Wikipedia a reliable source, the following quote can be considered entertaining if not authoritative:

Dr Simpson and two of his friends, Drs Keith and Duncan used to sit every evening in Dr Simpson’s dining room to try new chemicals to see if they had any anaesthetic effect.  On 4th November, 1847 they decided to try a ponderous material named chloroform that they had previously ignored.  On inhaling the chemical they found that a general mood of cheer and humour had set in.  But suddenly all of them collapsed only to regain consciousness the next morning.  Simpson knew, as soon as he woke up, that he had found something that could be used as an anaesthetic.  They soon had Miss Petrie, Simpson’s niece, try it.  She fell asleep soon after inhaling it while singing the words, “I am an angel!”.  It was very much up to chance that Simpson survived the chloroform dosage he administered to himself.  If he had inhaled too much, subsequently passing away from an overdose, chloroform would have been seen as a dangerous substance.  However, if Simpson had inhaled slightly less it would not have put him to sleep.  It was his willingness to explore the possibilities of the substance that established his career as a pioneer in the field of medicine.

So one way or another, Simpson had found that chloroform (CHCl3), which had been reported by a French chemist in 1831, was effective and reliable.  He experimented with it as a general anesthetic for childbirth, and published a paper on it in 1847: Account of a New Anaesthetic Agent.  Its use thereafter expanded rapidly in Europe – especially after Queen Victoria bore Prince Leopold with its use in 1853.  Simpson’s fame spread; he was knighted, and his coat of arms read, “Victo dolore” – Pain conquered!

Yet some doctors did not jump at the opportunity to use anesthesia, Tiner said.  Some argued that pain served a medical purpose.  A few doctors, for some strange reason, voiced religious objections to the use of anesthetics. They argued it was against nature or against the will of God.  Here’s where Simpson found an argument from Scripture.  He turned to Genesis 2, where God put Adam to sleep while performing surgery on him to create Eve from his side.  If God could use a kind of anesthesia before the fall of man, why could not we use such a technique today?  Tiner explains, “Simpson believed the principle that God did not rejoice in needless pain still applied.”

This was not an isolated application of Scripture for Simpson.  Tiner goes on to explain that Simpson was an avid Christian, a Bible scholar, and soulwinner.  He even wrote a tract explaining the gospel of Jesus Christ to non-Christians.

Chloroform was a major advance in surgery.  Patients think nothing of going into an Adamic sleep while being cut open for operations that before would have caused screams of pain, only to awaken sewn up and unaware of the trauma.  Anesthesia has undergone many advances since 1847.  Chloroform can be toxic in high doses and must be used with care, but it is still used in primitive situations.  “It is inexpensive and easy to transport and store,” Tiner says; “Hot temperatures do not affect it, and an open flame will not cause it to explode” (Tiner, Ibid., p. 171).

In Men of Science, Men of God (1988, p. 52), Henry M. Morris wrote that Simpson could have boasted about his discovery of chloroform, but exclaimed that his greatest discovery was, “That I have a Saviour!”  Morris quoted the end of that gospel tract Simpson wrote.  It said:

But again I looked and saw Jesus, my substitute, scourged in my stead and dying on the cross for me.  I looked and cried and was forgiven.  And it seems to be my duty to tell you of that Saviour, to see if you will not also look and live.  ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, . . . and with His stripes we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5)


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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(an amateur astronomer in San Diego)

“What an absolutely brilliant website you have.  It’s hard to express how uplifting it is for me to stumble across something of such high quality.”
(a pharmacologist in Michigan)

“I want to make a brief commendation in passing of the outstanding job you did in rebutting the ‘thinking’ on the article: “Evolution of Electrical Engineering” ...  What a rebuttal to end all rebuttals, unanswerable, inspiring, and so noteworthy that was.  Thanks for the effort and research you put into it.  I wish this answer could be posted in every church, synagogue, secondary school, and college/university..., and needless to say scientific laboratories.”
(a reader in Florida)

“You provide a great service with your thorough coverage of news stories relating to the creation-evolution controversy.”
(an elder of a Christian church in Salt Lake City)

“I really enjoy your website and have made it my home page so I can check on your latest articles.  I am amazed at the diversity of topics you address.  I tell everyone I can about your site and encourage them to check it frequently.”
(a business owner in Salt Lake City)

“I’ve been a regular reader of CEH for about nine month now, and I look forward to each new posting.... I enjoy the information CEH gleans from current events in science and hope you keep the service going.”
(a mechanical engineer in Utah)

“It took six years of constant study of evolution to overcome the indoctrination found in public schools of my youth.  I now rely on your site; it helps me to see the work of God where I could not see it before and to find miracles where there was only mystery.  Your site is a daily devotional that I go to once a day and recommend to everyone.  I am still susceptible to the wiles of fake science and I need the fellowship of your site; such information is rarely found in a church.
    Now my eyes see the stars God made and the life He designed and I feel the rumblings of joy as promised.  When I feel down or worried my solution is to praise God the Creator Of All That Is, and my concerns drain away while peace and joy fill the void.  This is something I could not do when I did not know (know: a clear and accurate perception of truth) God as Creator.  I could go on and on about the difference knowing our Creator has made, but I believe you understand.
    I tell everyone that gives me an opening about your site.  God is working through you.  Please don’t stop telling us how to see the lies or leading us in celebrating the truth.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.”
(a renowned artist in Wyoming)

“I discovered your site a few months ago and it has become essential reading – via RSS to Bloglines.”
(a cartographer and GIS analyst in New Zealand)

“I love your site, and frequently visit to read both explanations of news reports, and your humor about Bonny Saint Charlie.”
(a nuclear safety engineer in Washington)

“Your site is wonderful.”
(a senior staff scientist, retired, from Arizona)

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

“...let me thank you for your Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I’ve been an avid reader of it since I first ‘discovered’ your website about five years ago.  May I also express my admiration for the speed with which your articles appear—often within 24 hours of a particular news announcement or journal article being published.”
(a plant physiologist and prominent creation writer in Australia)

“How do you guys do it--reviewing so much relevant material every day and writing incisive, thoughtful analyses?!”
(a retired high school biology teacher in New Jersey)

“Your site is one of the best out there!  I really love reading your articles on creation evolution headlines and visit this section almost daily.”
(a webmaster in the Netherlands)

“Keep it up!  I’ve been hitting your site daily (or more...).  I sure hope you get a mountain of encouraging email, you deserve it.”
(a small business owner in Oregon)

“Great work!  May your tribe increase!!!”
(a former Marxist, now ID speaker in Brazil)

“You are the best.  Thank you.... The work you do is very important.  Please don’t ever give up.  God bless the whole team.”
(an engineer and computer consultant in Virginia)

“I really appreciate your work in this topic, so you should never stop doing what you do, ’cause you have a lot of readers out there, even in small countries in Europe, like Slovenia is... I use crev.info for all my signatures on Internet forums etc., it really is fantastic site, the best site!  You see, we(your pleased readers) exist all over the world, so you must be doing great work!  Well i hope you have understand my bad english.”
(a biology student in Slovenia)

“Thanks for your time, effort, expertise, and humor.  As a public school biology teacher I peruse your site constantly for new information that will challenge evolutionary belief and share much of what I learn with my students.  Your site is pounding a huge dent in evolution’s supposed solid exterior.  Keep it up.”
(a biology teacher in the eastern USA)

“Several years ago, I became aware of your Creation-Evolution Headlines web site.  For several years now, it has been one of my favorite internet sites.  I many times check your website first, before going on to check the secular news and other creation web sites.
    I continue to be impressed with your writing and research skills, your humor, and your technical and scientific knowledge and understanding.  Your ability to cut through the inconsequentials and zero in on the principle issues is one of the characteristics that is a valuable asset....
    I commend you for the completeness and thoroughness with which you provide coverage of the issues.  You obviously spend a great deal of time on this work.  It is apparent in ever so many ways.
    Also, your background topics of logic and propaganda techniques have been useful as classroom aides, helping others to learn to use their baloney detectors.
    Through the years, I have directed many to your site.  For their sake and mine, I hope you will be able to continue providing this very important, very much needed, educational, humorous, thought provoking work.”
(an engineer in Missouri)

“I am so glad I found your site.  I love reading short blurbs about recent discoveries, etc, and your commentary often highlights that the discovery can be ‘interpreted’ in two differing ways, and usually with the pro-God/Design viewpoint making more sense.  It’s such a refreshing difference from the usual media spin.  Often you’ll have a story up along with comment before the masses even know about the story yet.”
(a system administrator in Texas, who calls CEH the “UnSpin Zone”)

“You are indeed the ‘Rush Limbaugh’ Truth Detector of science falsely so-called.  Keep up the excellent work.”
(a safety director in Michigan)

“I know of no better way to stay informed with current scientific research than to read your site everyday, which in turn has helped me understand many of the concepts not in my area (particle physics) and which I hear about in school or in the media.  Also, I just love the commentaries and the baloney detecting!!”
(a grad student in particle physics)

“I thank you for your ministry.  May God bless you!  You are doing great job effectively exposing pagan lie of evolution.  Among all known to me creation ministries [well-known organizations listed] Creationsafaris stands unique thanks to qualitative survey and analysis of scientific publications and news.  I became permanent reader ever since discovered your site half a year ago.  Moreover your ministry is effective tool for intensive and deep education for cristians.”
(a webmaster in Ukraine, seeking permission to translate CEH articles into Russian to reach countries across the former Soviet Union)

“The scholarship of the editors is unquestionable.  The objectivity of the editors is admirable in face of all the unfounded claims of evolutionists and Darwinists.  The amount of new data available each day on the site is phenomenal (I can’t wait to see the next new article each time I log on).  Most importantly, the TRUTH is always and forever the primary goal of the people who run this website.  Thank you so very much for 6 years of consistent dedication to the TRUTH.”
(11 months earlier): “I just completed reading each entry from each month.  I found your site about 6 months ago and as soon as I understood the format, I just started at the very first entry and started reading.... Your work has blessed my education and determination to bold in showing the ‘unscientific’ nature of evolution in general and Darwinism in particular.”
(a medical doctor in Oklahoma)

“Thanks for the showing courage in marching against a popular unproven unscientific belief system.  I don’t think I missed 1 article in the past couple of years.”
(a manufacturing engineer in Australia)

“I do not know and cannot imagine how much time you must spend to read, research and compile your analysis of current findings in almost every area of science.  But I do know I thank you for it.”
(a practice administrator in Maryland)

“Since finding your insightful comments some 18 or more months ago, I’ve visited your site daily.... You so very adeptly and adroitly undress the emperor daily; so much so one wonders if he might not soon catch cold and fall ill off his throne! .... To you I wish much continued success and many more years of fun and frolicking undoing the damage taxpayers are forced to fund through unending story spinning by ideologically biased scientists.”
(an investment advisor in Missouri)

“I really like your articles.  You do a fabulous job of cutting through the double-talk and exposing the real issues.  Thank you for your hard work and diligence.”
(an engineer in Texas)

“I love your site.  Found it about maybe two years ago and I read it every day.  I love the closing comments in green.  You have a real knack for exposing the toothless claims of the evolutionists.  Your comments are very helpful for many us who don’t know enough to respond to their claims.  Thanks for your good work and keep it up.”
(a missionary in Japan)

“I just thought I’d write and tell you how much I appreciate your headline list and commentary.  It’s inspired a lot of thought and consideration.  I check your listings every day!”
(a computer programmer in Tulsa)

“Just wanted to thank you for your creation/evolution news ... an outstanding educational resource.“
(director of a consulting company in Australia)

“Your insights ... been some of the most helpful – not surprising considering the caliber of your most-excellent website!  I’m serious, ..., your website has to be the best creation website out there....”
(a biologist and science writer in southern California)

“I first learned of your web site on March 29.... Your site has far exceeded my expectations and is consulted daily for the latest.  I join with other readers in praising your time and energy spent to educate, illuminate, expose errors.... The links are a great help in understanding the news items.  The archival structure is marvelous....  Your site brings back dignity to Science conducted as it should be.  Best regards for your continuing work and influence.  Lives are being changed and sustained every day.”
(a manufacturing quality engineer in Mississippi)

“I wrote you over three years ago letting you know how much I enjoyed your Creation-Evolution headlines, as well as your Creation Safaris site.  I stated then that I read your headlines and commentary every day, and that is still true!  My interest in many sites has come and gone over the years, but your site is still at the top of my list!  I am so thankful that you take the time to read and analyze some of the scientific journals out there; which I don’t have the time to read myself.  Your commentary is very, very much appreciated.”
(a hike leader and nature-lover in Ontario, Canada)

“...just wanted to say how much I admire your site and your writing.  You’re very insightful and have quite a broad range of knowledge.  Anyway, just wanted to say that I am a big fan!”
(a PhD biochemist at a major university)

“I love your site and syndicate your content on my church website.... The stories you highlight show the irrelevancy of evolutionary theory and that evolutionists have perpetual ‘foot and mouth’ disease; doing a great job of discrediting themselves.  Keep up the good work.”
(a database administrator and CEH “junkie” in California)

“I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your article reviews on your website—it’s a HUGE asset!”
(a lawyer in Washington)

“Really, really, really a fantastic site.  Your wit makes a razor appear dull!... A million thanks for your site.”
(a small business owner in Oregon “and father of children who love your site too.”)

“Thank God for ... Creation Evolution Headlines.  This site is right at the cutting edge in the debate over bio-origins and is crucial in working to undermine the deceived mindset of naturalism.  The arguments presented are unassailable (all articles having first been thoroughly ‘baloney detected’) and the narrative always lands just on the right side of the layman’s comprehension limits... Very highly recommended to all, especially, of course, to those who have never thought to question the ‘fact’ of evolution.”
(a business owner in Somerset, UK)

“I continue to note the difference between the dismal derogations of the darwinite devotees, opposed to the openness and humor of rigorous, follow-the-evidence scientists on the Truth side.  Keep up the great work.”
(a math/science teacher with M.A. in anthropology)

“Your material is clearly among the best I have ever read on evolution problems!  I hope a book is in the works!”
(a biology prof in Ohio)

“I have enjoyed reading the sardonic apologetics on the Creation/Evolution Headlines section of your web site.  Keep up the good work!”
(an IT business owner in California)

“Your commentaries ... are always delightful.”
(president of a Canadian creation group)

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

“We appreciate all you do at 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)

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