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July 2010
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“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.”
—Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard), in Science (see 05/13/2010).
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Electricity Forms Your Heart     07/31/2010    
July 31, 2010 — Did you know your heart is an electrical appliance?  That’s right.  Currents of electrical ions are vital to its function as a contractile organ.  Now, researchers at the University of California have found another thing electricity does for your heart: it guides the developing heart into the proper shape.  This is a key study showing how epigenetic factors – factors above and beyond the genetic code – are essential for the formation of body parts.
    The research team, publishing in PNAS,1 explained the purpose of their investigation (Note: morphogenesis refers to the origin of shape, and cardiomyocytes are the specialized muscle cells that make the heart beat):

Cardiac morphogenesis is a complex process that is mediated by a coordinated set of cellular and molecular as well as environmental factors.  Recent studies have shown that epigenetic forces such as cardiomyocyte contractility and intracardiac hemodynamic flow regulate this process.  Furthermore, in vitro studies suggest that cardiomyocytes can realign themselves according to electrical conduction directionality.  However, because electrical cardiac conduction and mechanical contractile forces are intimately coupled in the intact heart, it is difficult to assess the individual contribution of these influences to overall heart organogenesis.  Here, we make use of several zebrafish cardiac mutants to uncouple these two influences, and find that electrical conduction exclusive of contractile influences can directly participate in remodeling and morphogenesis of the vertebrate heart.
In other words, electrical conduction guides the individual heart cells into position during heart development and repair.  They said in the Discussion part of their paper that it is known that “The direction of growth and orientation of various cell types in tissue culture can be influenced by externally applied electric fields.”  They added, “Furthermore, endogenous [inside organism] electric currents exist in a variety of tissues and have been hypothesized to influence cell migration and shape.”  This paper announces confirmation of that hypothesis for heart formation: “Our in vivo results [using living zebrafish] indicate that physiologic electric currents can indeed have an impact on cell morphology and overall cardiac organogenesis.”  The mutant fish without the electrical conduction working properly developed heart disease.
    So how does this work?  They explained, “These electrical effects might be mediated through intracellular calcium fluxes which can affect cell polarization.  Furthermore, a number of cell surface receptors... can also be redistributed in the cell membrane by electric fields.”  Does this finding provide hope for heart patients?  Patients with electrical conduction disorders get better when the beats are re-synchronized.  The researchers explained why that works: “Thus, overall cardiac improvement from the resynchronization of the ventricles in heart failure patients manifesting conduction disorders may be due to beneficial realignment and improved remodeling of the myocardium primarily from proper and synchronized electrical signaling.”  Get the electricity right, and the heart shapes up.  Now those defibrillation devices and electrical heart stimulators start to make more sense.
    This means that stem cell therapy (07/20/2010) may need an electrical jumpstart to work properly: “Given that previous cardiac cell-based therapy has provided only a modest improvement in cardiac function,” they ended, pointing therapy in a new direction, “electrical cell–cell communication and stimulation may be required for optimal integration and alignment of engrafted embryonic cardiomyocytes and skeletal myoblasts in the injured myocardium to improve overall myocardial performance.”  Live better electrically!
1.  Chi, Bussen et al, “Cardiac conduction is required to preserve cardiac chamber morphology,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online July 30, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909432107.
This fascinating discovery is but the tip of an iceberg that will guide biology into the future: epigenetics.  We have learned much about genetics – the DNA code that provides the information for building proteins and the cell’s building blocks.  But genetics does no more than deliver the bricks, pipes and wire to the construction site and drop off a blueprint.  What directs the parts into their correct position at the correct time?  What makes some genes get expressed in cardiac cells, and other genes get expressed in nerve cells?  If all the cells have the same blueprint, why do they become so different in different parts of the body?  Clearly much more is going on than providing each cell with a blueprint.
    Here we see one example of an epigenetic factor, where electrical currents are involved.  Imagine how precise these currents must be positioned to guide cells into the shape of an auricle or ventricle, to say nothing of guiding all the ancillary nerve cells and blood vessels into place.  What switches on the electrical currents, and orients them properly?  Do you get a brief glimpse of mind-boggling complexity going on inside the womb as a baby’s heart forms and begins beating in just 9 or 10 weeks from the time the baby began as a single cell?
    The complexity of development was presented briefly in the second half of the recent film Darwin’s Dilemma from Illustra Media.  Scientists like Richard Sternberg and Jonathan Wells commented that the complexity of development and epigenetic factors is so vast, so poorly understood, so impermeable to an origin by chance, it leaves regular genetics far behind.  Did the PNAS scientists need to ask Darwin for help?  Ha!  They needed him like a hole in the heart.  They never mentioned evolution once in their paper.  Odd, isn’t it, when the Darwiniacs assure us that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
    Science is only beginning to ask the questions about how factors beyond genetics guide molecules into specialized cells, then tissues, then organs, then a complete organism (the computer graphics in Darwin’s Dilemma are excellent for illustrating this).  Morphogenesis cannot be described in a one-dimensional code.  There are hierarchies of codes involved in the development of each cell and organism.  If Darwin could not survive a genetic code arising by chance (see online book), how on earth will he survive hierarchies of codes?  In the condition his theory was already in, it’s enough to cause a massive coronary.
    You have a designed heart; so have a heart for design, because the future looks healthy for intelligent design science.
Next headline on:  Human BodyCell BiologyGeneticsHealthIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  Ponder this amazing coincidence: photosynthesis requires just the right kind of star, of which kind (naturally), our sun is one (see 07/27/2007).  That rules out the most numerous stars as candidates for photosynthetic organisms.  What would the aliens eat?

Getting Animals from Here to There     07/30/2010    
July 30, 2010 — The world is a big place, and most animals are small.  Yet many animals are found far from where their presumed ancestors lived.  Most birds, naturally, can fly long distances, and some sea creatures can cross the oceans with the help of currents.  That cannot explain all the cases, however.  Here are some attempts by evolutionists to explain how animals got from here to there:

  1. Land-locked reptiles:  In the evolutionary saga, the first tetrapods invaded the land close to shore.  According to Live Science, though, scientists at the University of London found “ancient reptile tracks” in the Bay of Fundy at a location thought to be 500 kilometers inland at the time they were formed.  New Scientist said that the first land colonizers, frogs and amphibians, had to stay near the water.  Howard Falcon-Lang gave his speculation on how the reptile track-makers got so far into the dry interior: “Perhaps the coastal swampy forests were becoming overcrowded and the continental interior were empty spaces just waiting to be filled by pioneers.”
  2. Aussie gloss:  One would think that the unique marsupials characteristic of Australia would have evolved down unda.  A new theory by a team at the University of Munster, Germany, believes, instead, that they evolved in South America (see Live Science and PhysOrg, “A hop from South America”).  There’s a big ocean in between those locations – at least today.  The supercontinent Gondwana is thought to have broken apart 80 million years ago.  No wonder that PhysOrg said, “Debates have raged for decades about how to arrange the Australian and South American branches of the marsupial family tree.”
        According to the new theory, a common ancestor of all the Australian marsupials hopped over before the land bridge became inundated (they based this on measures of retrotransposons in the genes of Australian and South American marsupials, not on fossil evidence).  As usual, though, new solutions create new problems.  “It is still a mystery how the two distinct Australian and South American branches of marsupials separated so cleanly, but perhaps future studies can shed light on how this occurred.”  The BBC News coverage complicated the story by invoking a kind of circular migration pattern over unknown epochs.  They envisioned the first marsupial ancestor in China moving across Gondwana South America, then into Australia, and back to Indonesia.  It would seem this would allow for quite of bit of genetic mixing during the long periods of migration.  One of the scientists is not sure when the genetic signature got locked into the Aussie groups.  “It’s now up to other people, maybe from the palaeontology field, to find out when exactly it happened.”
        For a related story on Australian marsupials, see this Science Daily article about a cave near New South Wales that was found loaded with marsupial bones said to be 15 million years old.
  3. One-way birds:  Not all birds are capable of long-distance migration.  It’s long been unclear how certain species of birds arrived in North and South America.  There’s a land bridge now (the Isthmus of Panama), but for a long time before South America bumped into the North American continent, a vast ocean separated the two.  Science Daily reported on the thinking of researchers at the University of Nevada that suggests there was one-way traffic: “Avian lineages from the northern Nearctic regions have repeatedly invaded the tropics and radiated throughout South America,” said Brian Tilston Smith (U of Nevada).  “In contract [sic, contrast] species with South American tropical origins remain largely restricted to the confines of the tropical regions.”  He based his ideas on phylogeny and the “molecular clock” hypothesis, because “the relatively poor fossil record has prevented us from understanding how the land bridge shaped New World bird communities.”  Smith said, “Our study suggests the formation of the Panama land bridge was crucial for allowing cross continental bird migration.”  But it doesn’t explain the one-way traffic, unless for some reason South America had better marketing.  Some 50% of species in the South have Northern origins, the article said, but it’s only 10% the other direction.
  4. Brazilian elephantPhysOrg reported the discovery of a 12 cm tooth shows elephants made it to Brazil.  They were previously known only as far south as Costa Rica.  Maybe it was on vacation.
Charles Darwin spent two chapters in the Origin invoking geographical distribution as evidence for his theory of evolution.  Modern evolutionists continue the tradition, with ample use of special pleading (see 08/07/2001, 01/01/2004, 01/22/2010, and 05/27/2010).
Biogeography – is it incontrovertible evidence for evolution?  Only if one allows plenty of leeway for storytelling.  Creationists have stories for how animals got distributed after the Flood, too.  Any position is going to have questions and problems.  Do a little research on alternative explanations at TrueOrigin.  The reader can decide which story he or she likes better.  One, remember, has eyewitness testimony for at least the general picture.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyMammalsBirdsFossilsDarwin and Evolution
Things in Space that Shouldn’t Be     07/29/2010    
July 29, 2010 — A history of astronomy and a history of surprise discoveries in space would track pretty well.  Recent stories show that the trend continues even today.
  1. Wet moon:  The moon was thought to be depleted of volatiles – until now.  According to PhysOrg, “Researchers discover water on the moon is widespread, similar to Earth’s.”  Shouldn’t all this have been known since the Apollo astronauts brought back rocks from the moon?  Well, researchers at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville have re-analyzed some samples and are “once again turning what scientists thought they knew about the moon on its head,” the article exclaimed.
        They don’t mean they found lakes and oceans there (despite the Latin root for Mare, ocean).  Instead, they detected molecular water elements or “lunar dew” in apatite similar to amounts in Earth basalts.  Their paper, published in Nature,1 said, “Here we report quantitative ion microprobe measurements of late-stage apatite from lunar basalt 14053 that document concentrations of H, Cl and S that are indistinguishable from apatites in common terrestrial igneous rocks.”
        What does this mean?  “One possible implication,” the abstract stated, “is that portions of the lunar mantle or crust are more volatile-rich than previously thought.”  And if volatiles are rich, the leading theory for the moon’s formation becomes poor.  PhysOrg explained:
    The finding of volatiles on the moon has deep implications for how it, and the Earth, formed.  It is generally believed that the moon was created when the early Earth was hit by a Mars-sized proto-planet called Theia, melting and vaporizing itself and a large chunk of the Earth.  The cloud of particles created by the impact later congealed to form the moon, which supposedly was devoid of highly volatile elements such as hydrogen and chlorine.  However, the researchers’ discovery of these volatiles challenges this theory.
        “If water in the Moon was residue water kept during the giant impact, it is surprising that water survived the impact at all because less volatile elements, such as sodium and potassium, are strongly depleted.  The details of the impact theory need to be re-examined,’ [Yang] Liu [U Tennessee] said.
    Theia appears poised to join Nemesis in the arsenal of imaginary terrorists (see 07/21/2010).
  2. Mercurial sleeper awakes:  “Every time we’ve encountered Mercury, we’ve discovered new phenomena.”  That’s PhysOrg quoting says MESSENGER principal investigator Sean Solomon [Carnegie Institution].  “We’re learning that Mercury is an extremely dynamic planet, and it has been so throughout its history.”
        That’s a very different picture than a few years ago, when Mercury was supposed to be a dead world, long ago frozen into silence.  Solomon was remarking about Mercury’s young volcanism, magnetic substorms and ionic emissions from its thin atmosphere, discovered during two previous flybys.  The spacecraft will go into orbit around Mercury next March: “we’ll be in for a terrific show,” remarked Solomon.
        See the pictures on BBC News about the youngest volcano found on Mercury so far.  Science Daily surveyed the most surprising finds, and National Geographic News focused on huge “curious” power surges detected in the planet’s atmosphere.  “There’re some things here we clearly do not understand,” said one scientist.
  3. Quakers in space:  Ever heard of spacequakes?  Those are impacts of plasma blobs from the sun on the Earth’s magnetic field.  Big ones can push the field all the way down to Earth’s surface, Space.com said, then they bounce like a tennis ball with decreasing amplitude.  The THEMIS spacecraft “discovered something new and surprising” in this “long suspected” phenomenon, the article said: “The surprise is plasma vortices, huge whirls of magnetized gas as wide as Earth itself, spinning on the verge of the quaking magnetic field.”
        There are other quakers that have been discovered in space, too.  “Spacequakes aren’t the only unearthly temblors around,” Space.com said.  “Scientists have also discovered starquakes (violent trembling inside stars), moonquakes and asteroid quakes (seismic tremors on the surface of the moon and asteroids, respectively).”  Whole lot of shaking going on out there.
  4. Rings and hexagons:  Scientists from the Cassini mission orbiting Saturn shared a 6th anniversary CHARM teleconference this week (Cassini-Huygens Analysis and Results from the Mission).  Two Powerpoint presentations about the rings and atmosphere are available for download in PDF form (audio files may be posted later on).  An account of the number of surprises and phenomena not understood in the 100+ slides is left as an exercise; as teasers, they admitted that the B-ring edge is more dynamic and complex than can be understood (ditto for the F-ring), the rings may be much younger than Saturn, and the hexagon-shaped cloud pattern at Saturn’s north pole can only partially be modeled in the lab (audio is needed for full discussion).
  5. Super star:  According to theory, stars can only grow to about 150 times the mass of the sun, partly because they would burn out too quickly to be seen, partly because the winds would tear them apart, and partly because there is not enough gas and dust in most locales to gravitationally contract into a star much bigger than 150 solar masses.
        Doubters, behold R136a1: a blue giant almost twice the theoretical size limit.  It is currently 265 times the sun’s mass, but astronomers estimate at birth it was a whopping 320 solar masses.  And talk about sunburn: its luminosity has been estimated at 10 million times brighter than our sun.  The BBC News said its radius is 30 times greater than our sun.  A diagram on National Geographic News illustrates the size difference.
        Science Daily described the puzzle of this star: “Understanding how high mass stars form is puzzling enough, due to their very short lives and powerful winds, so that the identification of such extreme cases as R136a1 raises the challenge to theorists still further.”  Was it born big, or did it collect smaller stars into its household?  Astronomers were “really taken aback” by the discovery, National Geographic said, adding: “The discovery could rewrite the laws of stellar physics, since it’s long been thought that stars beyond a certain mass would be too unstable to survive.”
  6. The big burst:  Gamma ray bursts have been known since 1967, but an “extraordinary” one detected on June 21 was off the charts.  National Geographic News said that “Until now, scientists thought the brightest gamma-ray bursts sent out a maximum of 10,000 x-ray photons a second.”  Here’s the measured flux from this one: “145,000 photons a second... making this gamma-ray burst 10 to 15 times brighter than anything previously seen by Swift’s x-ray telescope.  It was so bright it “blinded” the Swift orbiting space telescope temporarily, saturating its detectors: the “rush of light from a minute-long gamma-ray burst proved so overwhelming that Swift’s data processing software temporarily shut down.”
        Swift normally catches light from about two gamma ray bursts per week.  Space.com said this super-bright one is stirring theories: “Just when we were beginning to think that we had seen everything that gamma-ray bursts could throw at us, this burst came along to challenge our assumptions about how powerful their X-ray emissions can be,” said Neil Gehrels, principal investigator for Swift.
        A new mission named Xenia is being planned to watch for these cosmic beacons.  “The newfound burst, he said, means that Xenia mission designers will have to go back to the drawing board to make sure the probe will be able to handle the brightest flashes the universe can dish out.”  And speaking of explosions, Science Daily reported earlier this month that among the best-understood ones, Type 1a supernovae, the “Origin of Key Cosmic Explosions [Is] Still a Mystery.
There’s no indication that the number of surprising discoveries will decrease over the next few years.  Quite the contrary; an article on PhysOrg about early results from the Herschel Space Observatory with its SPIRE camera quoted Ian Smail of Durham University, who analyzes results from the mission: “It is already clear that we live in a changing Universe and, thanks to Herschel and SPIRE, few things are changing faster than our perception of it.”
    Looking back over 400 years of astronomy since Galileo and Kepler, Joseph Burns of Cornell University surveyed the many surprising discoveries made in space, especially in the last 5 decades of the space program: the Van Allen belts; Venus’s young surface; old, cold moons that proved surprisingly active; old, cold comets that showed evidence of hot formation; asteroids thought to be hard rock that turn out to be rubble piles; remarkable dynamism in Saturn’s rings; chaotic motions of moons; and more.  “Few scientists envisaged that the neighbouring worlds explored by space missions would be so diverse, nor how entrancing many are.”  Publishing his account in Nature,2 (see also summary on Space.com), using the word “surprising” a number of times, he quoted a character from Tom Stoppard’s novel Arcadia in his conclusion talking about scientific revolutions: “It’s the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.
1.  Boyce, Liu et al, “Lunar apatite with terrestrial volatile abundances,” Nature 466, pp 466–469, 2 July 2010, doi:10.1038/nature09274.
2.  Joseph Burns, “The four hundred years of planetary science since Galileo and Kepler,” Nature 466, pp 575–584, 29 July 2010, doi:10.1038/nature09215.
If some scientists want to celebrate their ignorance, some of us will be happy to supply the conical hats and party blowers.  To Joe’s list we can add many more surprises that, within the living memory of many of us, hit the astronomers broadside: quasars, pulsars, blazars, gamma-ray bursts, the cosmic microwave background radiation (partly predicted, but not to the expected values; see 06/12/2008), mature galaxies at the farthest distances (04/02/2009), gravitational lenses (partly predicted), silence from SETI, transient lunar phenomena, Io’s volcanoes, the Enceladus geysers, the inhospitable surfaces of Venus and Mars (civilizations were expected there into the 1960s), Ganymede’s magnetic field, the Kuiper belt, minor planets beyond Pluto, the lack of organics and carbonates (and life) on Mars, the tilted magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune, the rings of Jupiter and Uranus and Neptune, the F-ring of Saturn, the geysers of Triton, binary asteroids... where could we stop?  It’s hard to find any object in space that closely matched what astronomers expected.  While we share the thrill of surprising discoveries with the astronomers, we should not treat them as prophets.  They have a lot of whiz at math (01/08/2010) and access to great equipment (12/08/2009), but are as fallible as the rest of us – though occasionally, the luck of discovery comes to the prepared minds.
    Astronomy proceeds along two tracks: the theory track, and the data track.  Physicists at chalkboards derive equations that predict what might be found or try to explain what is found (03/28/2010, 01/20/2010, 01/13/2010).  Observational astronomers gather the raw data with telescopes.  Sometimes these tracks intersect.  Sometimes one precedes the other.  One might expect that observation would lead theory, trying to make sense of new observations.  Often, though, theory leads to discoveries.  Theory can even determine what observations get made, and what an astronomer “sees” with the senses – as when today’s astronomers pursue their mad quest (08/03/2009) for dark matter (02/28/2008) and dark energy (07/17/2010, 10/08/2009).  If the observations in the past 5 decades have been surprising, the theories have been even more so (06/30/2008): inflation (02/24/2009, 04/18/2008), black holes with universes inside them (04/10/2010), parallel universes, and the multiverse (02/22/2010, 12/05/2008).  While one would hope observations would constrain theory (08/26/2009), some of the latest theoretical speculations seem like acts of desperation to maintain beliefs in spite of the observations (03/19/2010, 10/28/2009, 09/28/2009, 11/17/2008; cf. 10/29/2007).
    We’re all together for the ride on our planetary spaceship.  We have been given a phenomenal platform for scientific discovery (watch The Privileged Planet on YouTube).  Fallible as we all are, it should not be surprising to be surprised by what we find, as we peer farther into the unknown with better instruments.  What is surprising is for any of us to grant prophetic powers (both in terms of prediction and understanding) to a class of fellow mortals (06/23/2009, 10/16/2008), just because they label themselves scientists (03/10/2010, 01/15/2008).  The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.  As new data comes rolling in from Kepler, MESSENGER, Herschel, Planck and future missions, let’s keep the marketplace open and a lively place for debate and critical thinking.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemStars and AstronomyCosmologyPhysicsDating Methods
Notable Notes and Quotable Quotes
07/28/2010 — “Cellular respiration is remarkable.  It is one of the most efficient energy conversion processes known, and nevertheless, does not require high temperatures.  This efficiency has drawn the attention of researchers.” – Blanca Barquera, a Rensselaer associate professor of biology, in an article in PhysOrg.

Evolution of Segmentation Leads to Playing God     07/28/2010    
July 28, 2010 — Most animals come in segments – body plans that are divided into more-or-less similar parts.  Arthropods, worms and vertebrates are examples (including humans, with their vertebral segments and rough division into head, thorax and abdomen).  Where did the idea of segmentation come from?  Some French evolutionists think it just appeared by chance and changed the face of the world.
    The article in Science Daily makes a number of amazing claims:

  • (1) Segmentation appeared by chance: “By chance, evolution may have played a winning card with segmentation, which profoundly marked the history of life on Earth.”
  • (2) Evolution came up with segmentation either once or multiple times by “convergent evolution,” but the French think it happened once, because they found similar retrotransposons in the genes of the different segmented groups: “These similarities led them to conclude that the genes had been inherited from a common ancestor, which was itself segmented.” 
  • (3) Their finding constitutes proof, they think: “This old and controversial idea among zoologists [i.e., that segmented animals had a single common ancestor], had never been proved until now.” 
  • (4) Evolution would go the segmentation route because it’s economical: “Over millions of years, and exposure to changing environmental constraints, it is easier for an animal to specialize a segment into a specific tool in response to a need, than to create a whole new organ from scratch.”  This is the “necessity is the mother of invention” view of evolution.  It leaves unstated how a need turns into a capability.
  • (5) Humans can play God by using the advantages of segmentation: “If one day we could play God and create artificial animals or even biomimetic robots, perhaps we too should think about it.  But this is still within the realm of science fiction.”
        So when did chance come upon this lucky advantage?  They answered this question with a question: “Is it possible that they all inherited this feature from a very distant common ancestor that lived 600 million years ago, before the Cambrian explosion, which produced most of the large animal groups that exist today?”  They had to envision an unknown, unseen common ancestor before the explosion, because the Cambrian strata show fully-segmented worms, arthropods (trilobites) and vertebrates doing just fine.
    Could you find a better example of ignorance masquerading as science?  These French cream puffs know nothing of what they speak.  They don’t have a fossil ancestor.  They don’t know a date when this fossil ancestor appeared; they just made it up.  They don’t have a natural law or observable, repeatable process that could produce the advantage of segmentation (Note: chance is not a process).  The whole story is made up.  It’s not just the speculation about segmented robots and playing God that is science fiction; the whole article is science fiction.
        When they say of their imaginary common ancestor that it is “thought to have lived 600 million years ago,” who thought so?  Any group of n >= 1 people can have a “thought” about anything.  We could find a nut in Timbuktu who thought animals came from the underworld, and make a statement that “animals are thought to have come from the underworld.”  Let’s name names, shall we, and have some clarity instead of hiding weak arguments from authority in passive voice verbs.  Tweety Bird thought he taw a puddy tat; in passive form, that becomes, “it is thought that puddy tats are seen.”
        It’s ironic that one of the institutions responsible for this mess of sloppy reasoning is the Université Paris Diderot, named for the French atheist of the Enlightenment, Denis Diderot (1713-1784).  It’s even more ironic that they, as materialists following in Diderot’s footsteps, could envision humans themselves playing God.  Good luck with that.  In their own world view, they are little more than segmented robots themselves.
        Speaking of the Cambrian Explosion, Amazon.com today listed the Illustra film Darwin’s Dilemma at the #2 spot in Science Bestsellers.  Two other Illustra films, The Privileged Planet and Unlocking the Mystery of Life, also placed in the Top 10.  Evolutionists hearing this must rue the fact that the film exposing the Cambrian Explosion as a falsification of Darwin’s views is a best seller.  If you have not seen it, view the trailer and order it today, because an ounce of fossil facts trumps a truckload of evolutionary fogma.  (For definition of fogma, see the 05/14/2007 commentary.)
    Next headline on:  FossilsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
      If your eyes were electronic devices on a network, what would be the transmission speeds of their signals to the brain?  Geeks will get a charge out of this question that was explored in the 07/27/2006 entry, “Eye Sends Information at Ethernet Rates.”

    Is Our World Natural?     07/27/2010    
    July 27, 2010 — At first glance, the headline sounds absurd: is our world natural?  Of course the world is natural.  Nature is natural, isn’t it?  Often, though, we picture what humans do as unnatural – oil spills, landfills, pollution, nuclear waste, crime, war.  But if humans are a part of nature, then whatever they do is natural.  Some recent articles show that the definition of natural requires some reflection.

    1. Gulf oil spill:  The gulf oil spill, the worst environmental disaster the United States has ever faced, is finally in the cleanup stages.  To consider the impact on wildlife, jobs, and the economy is heart wrenching.  Who could not be moved by those news photos of pelicans drenched in oil, black goo infesting delicate wetlands, tarballs on white beaches?  It seems so unnatural.  Images of man-made machinery, complicated drill rigs and capping devices add to the contrast between natural and unnatural.  Few seem to be commenting on the fact that the oil is coming out of the earth.  If the earth is natural, any substance it exudes must also be natural.  “Natural” oil seeps have leaked crude into the gulf long before man decided to tap into the subsurface reservoirs (see BBC News, “Seepages near the leaking BP oil well ‘may be natural’”).  What’s more, bacteria are expected to break down the oil over time, and bacteria are natural.  Defining unnatural in this instance, therefore, needs to include situations of natural substances undergoing possibly unnatural processes, or concentrating in unnatural amounts where they are not usually found.  But if unnatural includes those situations, it also includes numerous unusual concentrations of natural substances (lava, radioactive elements, smoke, algal blooms) that had nothing to do with man’s intervention.
    2. Forest fires:  Fire season is coming to the western United States again.  One can only hope that the devastation of last year’s record fires will not be repeated.  For many years, the public learned from Smokey Bear that “Only you can prevent forest fires.”  Fire lookout towers were installed in vulnerable areas, and any puff of smoke in a national park or wilderness area set off a monumental effort at fire suppression, even if no structures were threatened– smoke jumpers dropped into the burn zone, water-dropping aircraft dropping water and flame retardant, firebreaks quickly carved through the wilderness.
          A paradigm change occurred in the 1970s, however, as more park superintendents and ecologists considered the role of “natural” wildfires to the health of the forest.  Botanists realized many forest trees and herbaceous plants actually rely on fire for their propagation.  Fires began to be incorporated as a normal, “natural” part of the forest life cycle.  Parks adopted a “let burn” policy for wildfires set by lightning, even if the smoke drifted into Yosemite Valley and set the tourists coughing.  Only fires that threatened buildings were suppressed.
          The 1988 Yellowstone fires, though, set by a backpacker’s campfire, set the ecologists talking about canopy fires – those exceptionally hot fires that burned not only the undergrowth but the tops of the trees, leaving a whole area devastated, unable to sustain wildlife and unable to restrict the damage of erosion.  Now, it seemed a new dividing line was being erected between natural and unnatural.  It’s doubtful, however, that the 1988 catastrophe was the first one.  How many were set in past centuries by lightning in exceptionally dry, hot years?  Perhaps the 1988 fire could be called unnatural because it was human caused.  But again, if humans are part of nature, like any other mammal, anything they do could arguably called natural.
          Maybe a distinction could be drawn between human-caused fires that are intentional instead of accidental.  Arson fires have caused untold grief and loss, especially in Southern California where each year most of the worst brush fires are set by arsonists.  If anything seems unnatural, arson would surely qualify; but then is the firefighters’ response to be considered natural?  Perhaps self-preservation is natural, but self-destruction is unnatural.  PhysOrg says that prevention of human-caused wildfires pays big dividends.  Which action is natural, and which is not?
          According to evolutionists, human ancestors first learned to use fire 800,000 years ago, and some of our ancestors set wildfires for hunting or warfare.  Such wildfires may have caused the extinction of other species.  At what point did hominid activities cross an imaginary line between natural behavior and unnatural behavior?
    3. Global warming:  One would have to be a Rip Van Winkle to miss all the talk about human-caused climate change.  Every week we are hearing about current and future threats to the planet if global warming is not mitigated: for instance, National Geographic warns that 2010 may be the hottest on record; PhysOrg says global warming will cause more smog in Los Angeles; Science Daily says climate change is making marmots fatter; and another National Geographic article claims that global warming will increase Mexican immigration.  The debate centers over what is natural climate change and what is unnatural—i.e., man-caused.  Nature announced on June 4 that not all of a glacier’s wane may be human-caused, but may be due to “natural climate variability.”  But if man is a part of nature, such distinctions are academic.
    4. Natural disasters:  TV programs about natural disasters always grab attention.  Every year the news fills our homes with images of tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, and other tragedies.  PhysOrg discussed ways a scientist at Tel Aviv University is seeking to avoid the train wrecks caused by such events.  “Thousands of people around the world have died in train wrecks caused by natural disasters,” the article began; “In 2004, the tsunami in Southeast Asia derailed a Sri Lankan train, killing 1,700 people.”  That event pales in comparison to the 230,000 people who perished in the Haiti earthquake last January.
          We call them natural disasters, but something in us cries out that things should not be this way; they seem somehow unnatural.  Unnatural in this sense might refer to events falling outside an expected or usual range.  We can’t blame humans for these events, except to the point where they failed to plan ahead, such as building a house on the sand instead of on a rock.  The death toll in Haiti might have been far less if people had not built unreinforced houses on slopes; but it would not have been zero.  And if a large meteor from space were to land on Manhattan, no amount of prevention would avoid monumental loss of life from that kind of “natural” disaster.
          As long as one avoids natural disasters, spending time in “nature” is good for human health, announced PhysOrg.  A doctor in Finland said that most people “feel relaxed and good when they are out in nature.  But not many of us know that there is also scientific evidence about the healing effects of nature.”  But if humans are part of nature, aren’t they out in nature all the time?  He was thinking of forests and green settings, obviously, in contrast to being stuck in a cubicle or traffic jam.  But it might be healthier to be in a high-rise building than a forest when a natural disaster like a wildfire, lightning storm or flash flood strikes.
          We often hear about man’s devastation of the Amazon rain forests.  But “nature” can pack a lot of devastation on its own.  This month, Nature News talked about a “once-in-a century drought” that struck the Amazon in 2005, reducing rainfall by 60-75% in some areas.  But that same year, according to Live Science, a storm ripped through the rain forest, toppling half a billion trees without the help of human chainsaws.  In some hard-hit areas, 80% of the trees were killed by the storm.
    These and other examples show that defining natural is complex and problematic.  Yet the word is important in origins debates.  Evolutionists, whether atheistic or theistic, often demand that science restrict its explanations to natural phenomena subject to natural laws.  Yet by using their human reason and intellect, they are, in a sense, acting “outside” nature by casting judgment on what nature entails and how it is to be understood.  Explanation by its very “nature” is not a natural phenomenon subject to natural laws.  And why is it that human beings are the only intelligent creatures on the planet thinking about these questions?
        It shouldn’t be surprising, therefore, that this article began with a headline, “Is our world natural?”  Sean Carroll, a Caltech cosmologist, asked that question of the whole universe (see 05/11/2006).
    Materialists can’t have it both ways.  They cannot argue that only particles and natural laws exist, then turn around and blame humans for global warming, pollution, war, acid rain, extinction, or anything else.  Nature is what nature does.  If humans are a part of nature, whatever they do is only natural.  It’s doubtful that even Richard Dawkins could stomach calling his worst political nightmare, whatever he would pick (creationism? religion? Margaret Thatcher?) “natural.”  It’s also doubtful he would want the arguments in his books discounted as mere particles responding to natural laws.
        The only perspective that permits natural/unnatural distinctions is the Judeo-Christian world view.  Sin is unnatural, because God is holy.  Death and disasters are unnatural, because God created a perfect world that was cursed because of sin.  Human beings stand between the natural and the supernatural by having the image of God implanted in their nonphysical souls.  These foundations allow for politics, economics, criminal law, and all the institutions that engage us, including science.
        Materialists need to be challenged when they blindly refer to nature, natural, or unnatural.  They also need to be challenged when they disparage the “super”-natural.  “Super” is a prefix that means above.  But it doesn’t matter if something is above (super-), below (sub-), beyond (epi-), around (peri-), opposed (anti-), or not (non-, un-).  If it is outside the natural box, it is unnatural or super-natural by definition.  Naturalism wants to subsume everything in its definition of the universe.  If a naturalist wants to categorize anything as unnatural, whether creationism, pseudoscience, or conservative politics, he unmasks himself as a supernaturalist in spite of himself.
        Christians may want to refer to a document at this site to learn how to unmask pseudo-naturalism, entitled, Naturalism and Supernaturalism: A False Dichotomy.  In addition to exploring the many meanings of natural, it exposes the impossibility of pure materialism.  If no one can avoid being a supernaturalist (and the materialist must be one to engage in argumentation using symbolic language, reason and logic), it changes the nature of the debate on origins.
    Next headline on:  GeologyCosmologyMind and BrainPolitics and EthicsBible and Theology
    Recapitulation Theory Gets Recap     07/26/2010    
    July 26, 2010 — The long-discounted “recapitulation theory” of Ernst Haeckel, the idea that the development of an embryo replays its evolutionary history, pops up every once in awhile in evolutionary explanations.  Evolutionary biologists (most notably the late Stephen Jay Gould) have long since disparaged the idea that evolutionary history would be preserved in embryos.  In addition, photos of real embryos have put the lie to Haeckel’s fudged drawings he made to support his idea.  According to Darwinian theory, only those mutations that survive should be preserved in an organism.  What need would an organism have for embryonic replays of its ancestors?  If something is non-functional in the present, neo-Darwinian theory requires, natural selection will weed it out.
        Not all evolutionists seem to have gotten the news.  The most recent example was presented without question by PhysOrg, which published a press release from Washington University School of Medicine.  It’s right in the headline: “Baby brain growth mirrors changes from apes to humans.”  Live Science did it, too: “Baby Brain Growth Reflects Human Evolution.”  They continued, “Watching human baby brains grow is a little like watching evolution in action.
    If watching anything grow is like watching evolution in action, then evolution has ceased to be a scientific theory and has become a cult of divination and equivocation.  The only way they can claim that “nothing makes sense except in the light of evolution” is to define evolution as sense and sense as evolution.  Then it becomes a truism, a tautology, regardless of the evidence.
        Why resurrect the corpse of Haeckel from the dustbin of discarded ideas?  Under the modern suit and face mask, it stinks.  This is another sad tale of divination.  Evolutionists read the folds of the brain like ancient Chaldeans read the liver, looking for the smiling Darwin face that gives them goose bumps – only this time they got goose bumps from his worshipper, Ernst Haeckel.  Either one works, as long as it produces the euphoria, the vision, the flashback, the hallucinations, the story to sell to the public.
        The Darwinian spin strategy includes ample use of Fairfax’s Law and Thumb’s Second Postulate.  That’s why discarded stories like Haeckel’s can be dusted off and sent back into service temporarily when needed.  “Any facts which, when included in the argument, give the desired result, are fair facts for the argument” (Fairfax’s Law).  “An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth” (Thumb’s Second Postulate). 
    Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionEarly ManMind and BrainDumb Ideas
    Tip Link
    Read John K. Reed’s rebuttal to the old-earth advocacy of Modern Reformation magazine (May-June 2010) at Reasonable Hope.  He included a link to Campbell et al’s presentation so that you can read both sides.  Reed has a PhD in geology and rebuts each argument that Genesis must be re-interpreted in accordance with deep time, considering both textual and geological evidence.  Who makes the stronger case?

    Dating of Impacts and Impacts of Dating     07/25/2010    
    July 25, 2010 — Earth and Neptune were both on stage this week with stories of impacts.  How do scientists know when they occurred?

    1. Neptune:  A comet struck Neptune 200 years ago.  That’s what planetary scientists are claiming, according to National Geographic.  The data only “suggests” this explanation, according to Space.com.  Since nobody witnessed the impact in 1810 (Neptune had not even been discovered yet), how do they know?  The data consists of elevated carbon monoxide levels in the outer atmospheric layers of Neptune compared with the lower layers, as measured by the Herschel spacecraft.  According to one of the authors of a paper on the hypothesis, “The higher concentration of carbon monoxide in the stratosphere can only be explained by an external origin,”  Another author added, “From the distribution of carbon monoxide we can therefore derive the approximate time, when the impact took place.”
          According to the articles, similar techniques were used on Saturn to suspect an impact about 300 years ago.  The only impacts on gas giants witnessed by humans have been on Jupiter.  Scientists estimate the one that hit Neptune was twice as big as the first fragment of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 that struck Jupiter in 1994.
    2. Earth:  A new impact crater was found in the deserts of Egypt, according to Space.com – one of the most pristine ever found.  National Geographic has a good picture of it.  Because of its lack of erosion, they estimated the crater formed within the last 2,000 years.  Called Kamil Crater, it is 147 feet in diameter and 52 feet deep.  This leads astrophysicists to estimate the characteristics of the impactor: “Based on their calculations, the team thinks that a 4.2-foot-wide (1.3-meter-wide) solid iron meteor weighing 11,023 to 22,046 pounds (5,000 to 10,000 kilograms) smashed into the desert—nearly intact—at speeds exceeding 2.1 miles (3.5 kilometers) a second.”
          Based on estimates of the number of impactors orbiting our region of the solar system, the scientists estimate that 1,000 to 10,000 such impactors should strike earth each million years.  Why are more not found?  An Italian scientist explained, “The reason why they are rare, however, is that, on Earth, weathering rates are high—small craters are usually easily eroded or buried.”
    For more on crater count dating methods, see this list of search bar results.
    Which is easier: (1) to make up a story about something in the past that was not observed, or (2) to predict when something will happen?  If planetary scientists can tell us when and where a meteor will strike and form a crater, that would be very impressive.  “Too many variables!” they would rightly complain.  But those same variables are time-independent.  When you see them predicting 1,000 to 10,000 impacts each million years, that would be 4.5 to 45 million craters over the assumed age of the earth.  It smells like a theory-rescuing device to say they were all eroded and weathered away.  Not all portions of the earth erode at the same rate.  Geologists tell us there are some rock outcrops 3.8 billion years old.  Surely some evidence, direct or indirect, of 45 million craters should be detectable beyond the 176 National Geographic said have been discovered.
        It appears there is some potential for testing deep time here.  Take the assumed flux of material, the assumed age of the earth, the compositional content of the impacting material, the geological column, reasonable erosion rates, and research the question: is there evidence for this much meteoritic or cometary material in the rock record of our planet?  Let’s not just take the secular geologists’ word for it.  They are wedded to deep time.  It would never occur to them to doubt their spouse: besides, it would be in bad taste.  It’s up to the untied to ask such questions.
    Next headline on:  GeologySolar SystemDating Methods
      The brain is faster than the blink of an eye: learn how the brain prevents your constant blinking from turning your world into a flicker movie; see the 07/26/2005 entry.

    When Evolutionary Theory Gets It Wrong     07/24/2010    
    July 24, 2010 — Evolutionary theory tends to make certain predictions about cells, tissues and organs.  A long history of evolutionary errors, twists, turns and dead ends would lead to a build-up of junk.  Recent examples show instances where nothing could be further from the truth.  Other reports show complexity being pushed farther down the tree of life.

    1. Primary cilia not evolutionary relics:  An article at PhysOrg said, “It’s safe to say that cilia, the hairlike appendages jutting out from the smooth surfaces of most mammalian cells, have long been misunderstood – underestimated, even.”  The article goes on to say that many believed they served no purpose, being “regarded as merely an evolutionary relic – the cellular equivalent to the human appendix.”  The discovery that many debilitating or life-threatening diseases can be traced to defects in primary cilia were some of the first clues scientists had been wrong.  They are currently viewed as the antennae of the cell.  “Of late, however, it has become increasingly clear that primary cilia serve as powerful communication hubs,” the article pivoted.  “(After all, they do sort of look like antennae.)
    2. Astrocytes are not evolutionary glue:  The star-shaped cells in the brain called astrocytes were long thought to be mere scaffolding or glue for the more-important neurons.  An article on Science Daily said, “Astrocytes are a subtype of a group of brain cells known as glia (which means ‘glue’ in Greek).  Glial cells are the most abundant cells in the human brain – outnumbering neurons by a factor of ten to one.  Until very recently, glial cells have been thought to be the less exciting sisters of neurones [sic], merely providing them with structural and nutritional support.”  New findings show that they can “taste” the blood flowing through the brain, and increase or decrease the breathing response to regulate carbon dioxide levels in the blood. 
    3. Stress hormones and immunity: did they evolve?:  An article on immune reactions in PhysOrg noted that even mild ones impose significant energy costs.  An “evolutionary anthropologist” found this out, but did not present a theory for the origin of immune systems, nor for their evolution over time.  Any understanding in evolutionary theory was put into future tense: “Understanding the costs of immunity and the immunomodulatory actions of hormones are central to understanding the role of immunity in human life history evolution.”  Later, the article admitted that evolution has been assumed, not demonstrated: “The metabolic responses to mild, acute infections and injury in humans have been relatively unexplored, despite the fact that much work in evolutionary anthropology relies on the assumption that immune maintenance and activation impose costs.”
          A stress hormone has been discovered in a lowly lamprey, reported PhysOrg.  The discovery supposedly “sheds light on how stress hormones evolved.”  Yet the only support for evolution is that the sea lamprey has one stress hormone, and humans have more than 30.  Evolution was assumed in this article, too: “Most jawless animals similar to the lamprey didn’t survive into the modern era, so they’re not available for us to use as we strive to learn more about how human systems developed,” the lead researcher said.  “The sea lamprey, a survivor, gives us a snapshot of what happened as vertebrates evolved into the animals we know today.”  He did not say where the lamprey’s hormone came from, or why, if lampreys evolved into the animals we know today, they still are doing fine in the seas today.  A baloney-detecting reader challenged that assumption in the comments.
    4. Junk no moScience Daily printed another study that shows the concept of “junk DNA” is dying or dead.  The headline was, “Redundant Genetic Instructions in ‘Junk DNA’ Support Healthy Development.”  This was another nail in the coffin: “The noncoding region is often surprisingly large; in humans, some 98 percent of the genome merits ‘junk’ status.  But according to David Stern, a Princeton professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, scientists increasingly believe ‘junk DNA’ is crucial for turning the information encoded in genes into useful products.”
    5. Pluripotency goes way back:  “Mexican Salamander Helps Uncover Mysteries of Stem Cells and Evolution,” headlined Science Daily.  Yet the only evidence was pluripotency being found farther back in the evolutionary story than thought.  “We’ve produced evidence that pluripotency – the ability of an embryonic stem cell to become absolutely any kind of cell – is actually very ancient in evolutionary terms,” claimed Dr. Andrew Johnson of the UK National Stem Cell Network.  “Even though received wisdom is that it evolved with mammals, our research suggests that it was there all along, just not in many of the species that people use in the lab.  In fact, pluripotent cells probably exist in the embryos of the simple animals from which amphibians evolved.”  Somehow, he believed that the lack of evolution made evolutionary sense: “since mammals evolved directly from reptiles it makes sense that the genetic mechanisms controlling embryo development remain largely unchanged from axolotls to humans.”  Johnson also had to explain the evolutionary loss of this capability in certain lines of frogs.
          In a breathtaking display of faith in evolution, Johnson called on convergent evolution, backwards evolution, the power of suggestion, and some new declaration of independence known as the “freedom to evolve” –
      Dr Johnson said “Within our new theory of evolution pluripotency came first and so germ plasm would have to have evolved independently several times in species within the branches of the tree, for example in frogs and many fish.  This is a process called convergent evolution – where a common advantage leads to several species developing features that make them appear more similar, rather than less.
          “What is the advantage of germ plasm such that it would have evolved several times?  We had to resolve the argument that germ plasm wasn’t necessary because pluripotency did the job just fine.  We knew that with germ plasm pluripotency is not necessary, because the embryos contain primordial germ cells anyway.  This explains why the Nanog gene became dispensable, and was lost from the DNA but it doesn’t explain what is the advantage to having germ plasm.”
          Dr.  Johnson and his colleagues suggest that the evolution of germ plasm liberates the soma of an organism to evolve more rapidly, simply because the embryo doesn’t need to induce germ cells – they are already there because of germ plasm.  As a result of this, the genetic mechanisms that control the soma are free to evolve, because they are no longer occupied with producing the signals that induce primordial germ cells from pluripotent embryonic cells.
    Sometimes “evolution” itself becomes a vestigial organ or junk-DNA word to a news story.  An article on Science Daily, for instance, was titled “Quantum Entanglement in Photosynthesis and Evolution,” but then had nothing further to say about evolution.  Instead, the article marveled at the efficiency of the structures of photosynthesis.  They employ quantum effects in their handling of electrons.  As a result, they “are so efficient at converting light into energy – doing so at 95 percent or more.”  Some of the most primitive microbes on earth, the cyanobacteria, accomplish this trick.  Nothing was said about how the efficient light-harvesting structures could have evolved.  Instead, the conclusion took a biomimetic turn: “this understanding of quantum energy transfer and charge separation pathways may help the design of solar cells that take their inspiration from nature.”
    There are too many baloney links in here to discuss in detail.  Convergent evolution is not a “process.”  It’s more like a rescue device to save Darwin from the evidence.  “Freedom to evolve” is freedom to go extinct, if one deviates too far from the design inherent in the organism.  Finding complex structures farther back the line than thought does not “shed light” on the evolution of that structure.  And more.
        It is sickening to see evolution take the credit for marvel after design marvel.  Evolutionists are masters of spin, turning falsification into hymns to Darwin, packaging contrary evidence with Darwin wrapping paper, taking each dart thrown at them by nature and offering it as a candle to the bearded Buddha.  Evolutionists are blinded by their assumptions, unfeignable in their faith.  The evidence is exactly opposite what their theory would have predicted, yet they cling to it, mesmerized by the shadows projected on the cave of their darkened eyeballs, presuming that the self-generated visions they imagine are “shedding light” on evolution.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHuman BodyMarine BiologyGeneticsPlantsBiomimeticsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
    The Evolution of Integrity     07/23/2010    
    July 23, 2010 — Scientists are having to deal with a crisis that overlaps with theology: integrity.  What is integrity?  Where did it come from?  How could it evolve?  How is it to be measured?  Questions like these are usually not answered with ammeters and test tubes, but they must be faced.  A crisis of integrity in scientific research is casting serious doubt on the future of science.  In addition, the attempts by scientists to explain spiritual, moral and intellectual matters raises further questions about the limits of science.  This week, Nature had a lot to say about the nature of integrity.
    1. Culture of corruption:  Did you know the Department of Health and Human Services has an Office of Research Integrity?  Its health science administrator, Sandra Titus, along with Xavier Bosch of the University of Barcelona, laid out the problem of research integrity in an opinion piece in Nature:1 
      Despite attention to research misconduct and other issues of research integrity, efforts to promote responsible behaviour remain ineffective.  Misconduct continues, and evidence suggests that increasingly stressful competition for funds and the rush to publish may further erode ethical behaviour.  We believe that real change requires a fundamental shift: to be taken seriously, standards of ethical conduct must be linked to funding.
          Improvement is badly needed.... On the basis of six pooled studies, up to 34% of scientists admitted to one or more questionable research practices such as inappropriate analysis, over-interpretation of findings and changing study design.”
      In addition, few scientists are willing to report misconduct by peers.  Titus and Bosch noted that a whole generation of cheaters is coming up through student ranks, used to the cut-and-paste world of messaging, unable to make independent decisions, woefully untaught about integrity issues, comfortable with sharing everything through electronic social networks.  Smuggling answers to tests is a cinch with hand-held devices.  “Undergraduate cheating is pervasive, with students adopting the behaviour of their peers,” they said.  Their behavior “suggests that this generation may cheat throughout their lives, whether they are scientists, builders or bankers.
    2. Peer pressure:  In the same issue of Nature,2  Gerald P. Koocher and Patricia Keith-Spiegel put positive peer pressure to the test.  They studied reactions of scientists who intervened when they saw unethical practices by peers.  Results were mixed.  “As for the interveners themselves, their chances of a good or bad outcome were about 50/50, ranging from increased respect to a loss of perceived career prospects.”  Yet not intervening sometimes left emotional scars that lasted for years.  Understandably, those in junior positions were found to be less likely to report infractions by their superiors.
          The I-word integrity was prominent in their last paragraph:
      Maintaining scientific integrity by helping to ensure an accurate research record is an obligation shared by all researchers.  If colleagues who are in a position to take action fail to act, poor behaviour might remain uncorrected and could well spread or be repeated.  Our survey highlights that researchers have a commitment to research integrity, and that many are acting on their beliefs by gently attempting to correct bad science.  Such willingness needs to be encouraged and strengthened.
      The authors encouraged ways of promoting a culture that welcomes correction and values integrity.  Getting that requires another character quality highlighted by a subsection heading: “The courage to act.”
    3. Doubt and influence:  It would seem that the scientific journals have an obligation to create that culture of integrity.  Nature let readers in on a dispute between integrity and influence.  Oreskes and Conway authored a book called Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (Bloomsbury, 2010).  Brian Wynne reviewed the book favorably in this week’s issue of Nature,3 concerned more for how scientists position themselves in the media than for matters of integrity and truth:
      The doubters’ success lies in the way that policy questions are framed, with science placed at the centre.  If a policy commitment is reduced only to a question of whether the science is right or wrong, then evidence can easily be made to unravel.  Paradoxically, this happens when science attains its greatest political influence, when it goes beyond supplying the facts to defining the public meaning of problems.  Public-policy issues always have dimensions beyond science, and require more than technical responses.  When framing debates, policy-makers should prioritize discussion of social benefits as well as science: there are many good non-scientific reasons to reduce global environmental footprints and consumption frenzy, and to pursue greater justice, for instance.  If the many factors that go into a policy commitment are recognized, science does not become the sole centre of authority and the sole target for opposition.
      Three scientists wrote a letter to Nature complaining about Oreskes and Conway’s criticisms of William Nierenberg, a nuclear physicist who led the Scripps Institute, who died in 2000, whom the authors in the June 10 issue had lumped in with the “merchants of doubt” about climate science, a group of “doubt-mongers” who need to be defeated by the scientific community.4  On the contrary, Nicholas Nierenberg with Walter and Victoria Tschinkel said; William was an “independent thinker who was always willing to say what he thought, regardless of what was popular or expected.  He knew that building public support for science begins with a constant regard for the truth.”5  Those attributes appear to be essential in any definition of integrity.
    One lesson the promoters of “framing” science for the public seem to underestimate is the doubt their own claims engender.  Consider some recent claims made in the science press:
    • Bellyflop:  An article on BBC News claimed that watching frogs bellyflop “shows how frogs evolved.”
    • Pet Darwin:  According to PhysOrg Pat Shipman of Penn State has a “New hypothesis for human evolution and human nature.”  Our love for pets led him to propose that “the interdependency of ancestral humans with other animal species... played a crucial and beneficial role in human evolution over the last 2.6 million years.”
    • This is your brain on cookingNew Scientist printed again the idea that humans owe their big brains to the invention of cooking (06/17/2009).  Chew on this sentence for evidence: “Now the proponents of the cooked-food hypothesis are presenting fresh evidence in support of the idea – and it all comes down to how you chew.”
    • In the darkNew Scientist gleefully reported the idea that every black hole may harbor another universe.  In fact, “We could be living inside a black hole ourselves,” a singular idea.
    • War strategy:  Again at New Scientist, Metin Bosuglu claimed to give scientific authority to the view that “You can’t fight violence with violence.”
    • Abortion:  An article on PhysOrg announced, “New Zealand women suffer long delays for abortions.”  The article went on to give this advice: “efforts need to be made by clinics and referring doctors to reduce the waiting times.”  Should a science news site be giving that kind of advice?  Those who consider abortion immoral might wish to increase the waiting times indefinitely. 
    • Scientific atheism:  Michael Murray, Jeffrey Schloss and John C. Avise continued their anti-Christian letter writing in PNAS this month, arguing basically that God wouldn’t have created a world like ours, and therefore intelligent design theory is wrong.6 
    Most people thought science deals with chemistry, physics and biology.  When scientists speak far beyond the data, making outlandish claims on matters no one can know using the methods of science, that behavior is perceived as arrogance.  Arrogance creates doubt – especially when it seems to support political ideologies at variance with the beliefs of many (cf. article by Patrick J. Michaels about Climategate on the Wall Street Journal).  A mark of integrity is knowing one’s limitations.
    1.  Sandra Titus and Xavier Bosch, “Tie funding to research integrity,” Nature 466, pp 436–437, 22 July 2010, doi:10.1038/466436a.
    2.  Gerald P. Koocher and Patricia Keith-Spiegel, “Peers nip misconduct in the bud,” Nature 466, pp 438–440, 22 July 2010, doi:10.1038/466438a.
    3.  Brian Wynne, “When doubt becomes a weapon,” Nature 466, pp 441–442, 22 July 2010, doi:10.1038/466441a.
    4.  Oreskes and Conway, “Defeating the merchants of doubt,” Nature 465, pp 686–687, 10 June 2010, doi:10.1038/465686a.
    5.  Nierenberg, Tschinkel and Tschinkel, Letters: “An independent thinker, willing to say what he thought,” Nature 466, page 435, 22 July 2010, doi:10.1038/466435c.
    6.  Michael J. Murray and Jeffrey B. Schloss, “Evolution, design, and genomic suboptimality: Does science ‘save theology’?” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 19, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1007401107; reply by John C. Avise, “Designer genes?”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences July 19, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1008658107.
    Combine the two parts of the entry for a perspective on 21st century institutional science.  On the one hand, they cannot claim any more integrity than politicians.  On the other, they speak beyond their knowledge.  It’s no wonder if the public comes to doubt scientists’ word on things.  They see the same disconnect between the ideals and practices of institutional science as they see between the Constitution and the actual behavior of presidents and Congresspeople.
        They need integrity, but how are they going to get it?  Did it evolve from ape grunts?  Did it emerge from particles?  The only position that can make any sense of integrity is the Judeo-Christian world view that teaches a God of truth who made all things.  To get integrity, therefore, scientists need to reach back to the roots of science – its Christian roots – where science was the endeavor of thinking God’s thoughts after Him, and obeying the Genesis Mandate to subdue (care for, conserve, act as a responsible steward of) creation.  Without that anchor, there will be no tether for integrity.  Integrity exists to what damaged extent it does, only because the innate image of God in humanity, combined with some cultural pressure, keeps a check on the worst violations of integrity.
        Philosopher Steve Fuller, who is not a Christian, argued the same in his book The Art of Living: appealing to the example of Newton and other early Christian scientists, Fuller asserted that religious belief is a good motivation for science, while atheism has done science little good.  Fuller promoted the idea in the book that we need a “Protscience” like a Protestant Reformation to unseat the “imperious priesthood of the scientific establishment.”  Nathan Schneider attacked Fuller’s thesis in an article this week at Religion Dispatches, pointing to all the atheists and non-Christians that have done good scientific work.  At the end of his diatribe against Fuller’s thesis, he made the absurd claim that Sci-Fi or the New Age might motivate scientists just as well or better than belief in God.  However much religion might have motivated Newton or Priestly or other early practitioners, he said, religion these days has nothing to offer science.  “Science, by now, can fend for itself.”
    [Exercise: Stop here and turn your Baloney Detector on Schneider’s claims.]
        Schneider missed the whole point.  Fuller wasn’t talking about individual scientists; he was talking about science itself.  Of course atheists, New Agers and Sci-Fi devotees can do good science these days (whatever we might mean by the slippery word science).  But they cannot justify their science without belief in God.  It’s like Christian philosopher Greg Bahnsen responded when atheist Gordon Stein countered his argument that an atheist can’t even balance his checkbook without assuming Christianity.  Stein, completely misunderstanding his point, said, “But they do balance their checkbooks – every day!”  Bahnsen responded with a statement by Cornelius Van Til, who said that atheists can count, but they cannot account for counting.  That’s essentially the point Fuller, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis and many others have noted.  Christianity contains the rationale for counting, mathematics, reason, and everything else required for doing science – including integrity.
        Science cannot work without integrity.  Integrity must be woven into the warp and woof of science.  A scientist must believe truth exists.  He (or she) must assume he has the ability to acquire truth about nature.  He must approach nature honestly.  He must communicate with peers honestly.  He must publish honestly.  He must be willing to take admonition, and change his position if the evidence demands it.  At each and every step, integrity is as vital to science as blood to the body.  Science breaks down completely if its participants cannot be trusted.  The only real science is an honest scientist, speaking, writing, researching, interacting with nature and one’s peers ethically as if truth matters (cf. the 08/02/2008, 03/12/2009, 11/26/2009, and 05/28/2010 entries).
        If integrity evolved, it can evolve into something else.  But that’s a self-contradiction.  Integrity that evolves is not integrity.  Integrity is rooted in the nature of God, who is immutable.
    [Exercise:  List other Judeo-Christian moral values that are essential for doing science.]
    Next headline on:  MediaPolitics and EthicsBible and Theology
    Tiny Life in Extraordinary Motion     07/22/2010    
    July 22, 2010 — Don’t despise small things.  Miniature plants and animals can pack some amazing punch and technology, as shown in two recent findings.
    1. Plant explosion:  Peat moss.  That’s the filler in our indoor plant soil and the stuff of bogs where archaeologists find finely-preserved human remains.  What you didn’t know is that it packs a wallop—spore guns that are so powerful, they produce a mushroom cloud.  Live Science reported that its pots shoot its spores out at 89 miles per hour, producing accelerations of 36,000 G’s.  Some spore clouds reach 80 times the height of the spore capsule before slowing down from air resistance.
          The tiny plant produces a vortex ring like a smoke ring, an “extremely efficient way for a material to move through space.”  Because of its success at spreading its spores, Sphagnum moss covers about 1% of earth’s land surface – an area more than twice the size of Texas.  Joan Edwards [Williams College], who along with Johan L. van Leeuwen [Pomona College] published their findings in Science, said, “Sphagnum’s body is very simple, and yet it’s doing this very complicated thing.”  Pressure builds up in the tiny capsule like a pressurized super soaker squirt gun, then pop! goes the efficiently-designed cloud of spores.  “It’s really special,” she said.  “Other mosses do exciting things, but not this exciting.”
    2. Animal tractor:  We’ve all seen caterpillars crawl, with waves of motion proceeding from back to front.  Scientists at Tufts University found something else, reported Science Daily: the insides move to a different drummer than the outsides.  “They found that the gut – essentially a tube suspended at the rear and head of the caterpillar and decoupled from the body wall – moved nearly a full step in advance of the surrounding structures,” the article said.  “In contrast, gut movement was ‘in step’ with motion of the head and rear.”
          This “crazy crawl,” Live Science said, is unlike any other motion seen in the animal kingdom: “their guts slide forward before the rest of their body does.”  It took visible and X-ray videos to see the process.  Live Science said the researchers wanted to know if this motion provides an advantage; Science Daily wondered if it provides an evolutionary advantage: “More research is needed to determine if this phenomenon gives caterpillars an evolutionary advantage, in the same way that synchronizing breathing and tissue movements benefits running vertebrates, or arm swinging by walking humans increases stability and reduces metabolic costs.”  That sentence begs the question that advantageous traits evolved.
          Regardless of how the caterpillar came up with its crazy crawl, the scientists are eager to imitate it.  They envision a new kind of soft-bodied robot that might use the same inside-first, outside last propulsion mechanism.  “Understanding this novel motion system may help efforts to design soft-bodied robots,” said Barry Trimmer of Tufts University.  It goes without saying that the tractors brand-named “Caterpillar” have not yet achieved the feat of their namesake.
    For additional small wonders of propulsion, see the entries about water striders (08/07/2003), the froghopper (08/01/2003), plant drill bits (05/11/2007), maple helicopters (10/21/2009) and other “Amazing Facts” chain links.
    We apologize for upsetting your digestion with the evolutionary tale.  Biologists need to understand that all advantages are not evolutionary advantages.  They might be designed advantages.  Unless they are prepared to describe in detail the sequence of inherited mistakes that led to the extraordinary functions, they should not speak in such terms.
        How many wonders remain to be found in the weeds at your feet, the insects flying in your yard, and the tiny animals in plankton at the beach, or unseen in the soil?  Get out and do a little scientific observation.  Anyone can be a citizen scientist – searching to understand the workings of the world all around us.
    Next headline on:  PlantsTerrestrial ZoologyBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
      “In the last days there shall be scoffers,” Peter said.  Find some examples in the 07/28/2004 entry.

    Second-Guessing Aliens     07/21/2010    
    July 21, 2010 — If we haven’t yet communicated with aliens, can we know anything about their character?  Astrophysicist Gregory Benford of UC Irvine thinks we can surmise one thing: they are frugal.  Why?  “Whatever the life form, evolution selects for economy of resources,” he said.  Broadcasting is expensive, and transmitting signals across light-years would require considerable resources.”
        For this reason, Benford and his twin brother James envision the aliens avoiding broadcasts continuously blasted in all directions.  Frugal aliens will use short, targeted blips known as “Benford beacons.”  He calls searching for such signals a “common-sense” approach.     Charles Q. Choi on Space.com also quoted Benford’s line, “This approach is more like Twitter and less like ’War and Peace’.”  They don’t send e-books; they send tweets.  As support for his speculations about alien frugal twittering, he compared it to the cost of METI – Messages to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.  To send twitters to aliens would cost a billionaire a lot of money: $1.3 billion for the installation and $200 million a year in operating costs.
        At New Scientist Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute downplayed the risks of METI.  It’s too late to worry about it, he said, despite the concerns of Stephen Hawking (04/26/2010).
        Hazel Muir in another article on New Scientist got in on the mudslinging at aliens, saying, “Stingy aliens may call us on cheap rates only.”  With fewer signals available to find, it may take the luck of the Irish to find the thrifty Space Scots.

    “Evolution selects for economy of resources.”  That’s why it created supersaurus, microbes, ants, kudzu, and humans at hot dog eating contests.  When the Benfords can correctly second-guess Darwin’s menagerie (12/19/2007), maybe they will then be prepared to start second-guessing creatures that may not exist.  Without data, aliens belong in the class of gnomes, leprechauns, unicorns and other fantasies borne out of human imagination.  Benford recalled his grandfather saying, “Talk is cheap, but whiskey costs money.”  Darwhiskey is a cheap liquor that lubricates the imagination and sets the tongue a-flapping.
    Next headline on:  SETIDarwin and Evolution
    Scratching Heads With Imaginary Stars     07/21/2010    
    July 21, 2010 — It was lurking out there, astronomers said.  Our sun’s evil companion, invisible, dark, like a stealthy general of an enemy force, wandered silently in hiding, waiting for the next opportunity to order its agents of death into combat.  Its name was Nemesis.  Every 27 million years, using its gravity, it sent comets from the Oort Cloud, like special forces, toward the earth, bombarding the doomed planet’s helpless inhabitants into fiery cauldrons of mass death.
        Cut.  Wrong script.  There never was a Nemesis.  This tale now moves from documentary to fiction.  Clara Moskowitz at Space.com reported on a study by Adrian Melott at the University of Kansas that “puts the final nail in the coffin of the Nemesis idea.”  No object at the presumed distance of Nemesis would have a regular orbit, he calculated; there’s no way it could account for regularly-spaced extinctions.
        As for what caused the extinctions, he has no idea.  “For me, it’s a complete head-scratcher,” he said.  Others mentioned in the article added further unknowns.  “Some in the field question whether the fossil record is really accurate enough to establish a cycle going back that far,” Moskowitz reported. 
    If they felt comforted scratching their heads with an imaginary star, they’ll now need to scratch that itch without an imaginary scratcher from an imaginary Oort depot (see 06/20/2010).  The cycles are imaginary, based on scientists’ imaginary ability to perform divination on the fossil record.  That means the cause of the itch, like a phantom limb, was imaginary, too.  For that sooooothing feeling of reality, maybe they should stop reading Nemesis 1:1 and start with another passage that rhymes with it.
    Next headline on:  Stars and AstronomySolar SystemFossilsDating Methods
    Mutating Evolution Into Design     07/20/2010    
    July 20, 2010 — The word evolve gets used in funny ways.  As Paul Nelson has noted, it often becomes a Designer substitute.  Look how an article in New Scientist employed it:
    Could a 3D printer help to create in minutes what nature took millions of years to evolve – the perfect insect wing?

    Tiny robotic insects would make the perfect fly-on-the-wall snooping devices.

    Duncan Graham-Rowe gets the SEQOTW award for failing to distinguish between evolution – a blind, unguided, purposeless process – and the intelligent design used by robotics engineers.  Later in the article he did it again: “Lipson and Richter plan to use their 3D printing approach to cycle through and analyse the performance of a broad range of different wing designs and plug the information into a computer model, which incorporates a genetic algorithm that can then use the data to evolve the perfect set of wings.”
        The rest of the article talked about human designers attempting, with limited success, to reverse-engineer the elegant flapping flight of butterflies.  That’s biomimetics – an application of intelligent design.
        For more on genetic algorithms and “computer evolution,” see the 07/11/2010 entry.
    If you enjoyed the comic relief, you need some respite to get your mind back into the mood of awe and wonder at creation.  Watch this trailer about a new film being produced by Illustra Media.
    Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyIntelligent DesignBiomimeticsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
      Rotating locks and keys: where? in your cells.  See the 07/21/2003 entry.

    Adult Stem Cells Lead Health Progress     07/20/2010    
    July 20, 2010 — Adult stem cells (AS) and induced pluripotent stem cells from adult tissues (iPS) continue to rack up tallies over embryonic stem cells (ESA).  Do we really need the embryonic variety?  Some continue to say yes, even though the practice of harvesting human embryos creates serious ethical questions for many.

    1. Controlling fate:  If you’d rather live a healthy person than diabetic, an article on Science Daily had good news.  Researchers at the University of North Carolina are making progress controlling the pluripotency of adult stem cells.  The article began with a vision of “personalized therapy” this advance helps bring closer: “Take a skin cell from a patient with Type 1 diabetes.  Strip out everything that made it a skin cell, then reprogram it to grow into a colony of pancreatic beta cells.  Implant these into your patient and voila!  She’s producing her own insulin like a pro.”
    2. Blood vessel cleaner:  Combine nanoparticles with adult stem cells, shine a light, and you might get a kind of Dran-O for blood vessels.  PhysOrg told about work by the American Heart Association that shows promise for reducing arterial plaque, the cause of atherosclerosis, with the use of adult stem cells activated with tiny particles and UV light.
    3. Blood iPSPhysOrg reported on progress at the Whitehead Institute for getting adult stem cells from blood.  Why is this encouraging?  “Blood is the easiest, most accessible source of cells, because you’d rather have 20 milliliters of blood drawn than have a punch biopsy taken to get skin cells.”  According to the inventor of the iPS process Shinya Yamanaka, as quoted by Science News, these findings “represent a huge and important progression in the field.”  Induced pluripotent stem cells may not be totipotent, but the gap is closing.  “But induced pluripotent cells are harvested from adults and so don’t face the same ethical mires posed by embryo-derived stem cells,” reporter Laura Sanders wrote.  “And as techniques for manipulating induced pluripotent cells improve, some researchers think they may be just as useful.”
    4. Artificial blood:  Imagine being able to get large quantities of blood to the battlefield without donors.  That life-saving promise is being fulfilled thanks to adult stem cells.  PhysOrg reported that artificial blood with real blood cells is coming down the assembly line thanks to hematopoietic stem cells from discarded umbilical cords.  “The blood cells are said to be functionally indistinguishable from normal blood cells and could end forever the problem of blood donor shortages in war zones and difficulties in transporting blood to remote and inaccessible areas.”
    5. Sepsis tanked:  Another article on PhysOrg announced, “A new study from researchers in Ottawa and Toronto suggests that a commonly used type of bone marrow stem cell may be able to help treat sepsis, a deadly condition that can occur when an infection spreads throughout the body.”  This achievement may triple the survival rate of those afflicted with this autoimmune disorder.
    6. Fat gains for bone:  How would you like to use some of your fat to strengthen your bones?  Fat has stem cells that can do the trick, reported PhysOrg.  Researchers at UC Davis are creating a gel from fat stem cells that helps regenerate bone.
    7. Heart healthScience Daily announced a new finding that will help heart patients.  Instead of having to extract bone marrow, doctors can find stem cells right in the heart tissue itself.  “Using heart-derived stem cells to treat heart attack and cardiomyopathy has some advantages over embryonic and induced pluripotent cells as they are potentially safer,” the article said.  “It’s also notable that of these three cell types, it’s only heart-derived cells that are in current human clinical trials for this sort of treatment.”
    8. Fixed heartsPhysOrg told about a German team that uses a tiny plastic scaffold to grow genetically-engineered stem cells on broken hearts.  This method “reduced organ damage and led to better cardiac function after a heart attack,” the article said. 
    9. Methodical gains:  A young and healthy-looking Stanford team is smiling in an article on Science Daily.  Why?  They figured out a new way to grow adult stem cells in culture.  They have found a “technique they believe will help scientists overcome a major hurdle to the use of adult stem cells for treating muscular dystrophy and other muscle-wasting disorders that accompany aging or disease,” the article said.
    10. ES score?  One of the rare reports of a health success from ES cells was reported by PhysOrg: pancreatic tissues from lab rats afflicted with diabetes started producing insulin with an injection of ES cells – provided adult islet cells were transplanted with them.
    An article on Science Daily claimed that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) retain a memory of their former state, and therefore are not truly totipotent – able to transform into any cell type, as are ES cells.  The article had nothing to say about the ethics of the matter, however, nor did it discount the clear successes taking place with adult stem cells.  It only suggested that the memory is “perhaps limiting their ability to function as a less controversial alternative to embryonic stem cells for basic research and cell replacement therapies....”
        Meanwhile, Nature last week was very concerned about restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.1 The editors acknowledged that “The rift between opponents and supporters of research using human embryonic stem cells seems all but insurmountable, reaching to the core of individual notions of morality.”  But their concern was over a judicial ruling that granted standing to supporters of adult stem cells who felt their work was being shunned in funding decisions because the Obama administration has focused on funding embryonic stem cell research.  “Peer review should be enough to decide which projects merit funding,” the editors said.  The editorial prompted some spirited debate.  Jeff Harvey, who argued that taxpayers have standing as the ones who pay for the research, wrote in,
    This is perhaps the real problem with scientists--we often think we are the only ones capable of judging our actions.  But consider what would happen if every group thought the same about their own group.  Teaching can only be judged by teachers, highway paving can only be judged by pavers, judges can only be judged by judges, presidents by other presidents, despots by other despots, and criminals by other criminals.  What a beautiful world THAT would be!!!
    Meanwhile, an evolutionary biologist tried to make a case before the UK National Stem Cell Network annual conference that “pluripotency could actually be one of the most ancient features of embryos,” reported PhysOrg.  Why? “...since evolution depends on generating advantageous changes, and pluripotency seems to be a good thing,” Dr. Andrew Johnson explained.
    1.  Editorial, “A dangerous precedent,” Nature 466, p. 159, 08 July 2010, doi:10.1038/466159a
    Far be it from Evolution, that clever goddess, to pass up a good thing.  “One more advantageous change, sunny side up!” the waiter calls.  Chef Darwin with his secret sauce always cooks it up and serves it elegantly, right on cue.  Millions of years later, the products of all this elegance, the evolved scientists, emerge and come up with all kinds of wonderful reasons to tell their fellow adults, loaded with pluripotent stem cells, that it’s a good thing to cut up their embryos.  Some day, the scientists might find a use for them.  On the way to the prize money, they might even find a cure for... something.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHealthPolitics and EthicsDarwin and Evolution
    Wishing ET Upon a Star     07/19/2010    
    July 19, 2010 — What are the odds of finding extraterrestrials?  That subject has been discussed ad infinitum, but David Shiga at New Scientist thinks the odds just went up.  “Solitary suns like ours are not as rare as we once thought, boosting the likelihood that there are other life-friendly solar systems in the universe.”  It should be noted that “life-friendly” is not the same thing as “friendly life.”  He pointed to a survey of 454 sun-like stars that showed 56% to be loners like our sun.  Binary star systems had long thought to be the majority.
        Binaries are bad for life, not only because they swing rocky planets into wild orbits, but also because their planets sing How Dry I Am.  “Stellar companions may also interfere with the formation of comets in the outer reaches of a planet-forming disc,” Shiga wrote with help from John Chambers [Carnegie Institution], “thereby eliminating a potential source of water for rocky planets through comet impacts.”
    The number of assumptions in this claim is as breathtaking as the reasoning is specious.  Shiga has just taken one necessary condition out of many, and made it sufficient.  This would be like Robinson Crusoe comforting himself with visions of shopping centers on his island, because there’s more level ground than he originally thought there was.  Shiga has assumed the origin of life, water from comets, evolution, and progress to sentience based on ... what?  The slight decrease of one hurdle – binary companions.
        At least the Drake Equation spelled out the assumptions (though not all of them) with a little more thought: If we knew how many stars there are and how long they lasted, and then if we knew how many stars were sun-like, and if we knew how many of those had planets, and if we knew how many of those were earth-like, and if we knew which ones had life, and if we knew which life-bearing planets had intelligent life, and if we understood the average lifetime of an intelligent civilization, then we might be able to estimate how many intelligent civilizations there are.
        There are numerous other if-statements Drake left out, like the number of stars that are solitary, and the number of planets that have water.  Undoubtedly you can think of others.  It’s all academic, though, because without values to plug into those unknowns, and without knowing how many unknowns he neglected, the equation pretends to represent “educated” guesswork.  Educated guesswork without data is indistinguishable from uneducated guesswork.
    Next headline on:  StarsSolar SystemOrigin of LifeSETI
    Exorcising Nazi Ghosts Continues     07/18/2010    
    July 18, 2010 — With so many books and documentaries on the Nazi era and World War II, one would think the subject has been worked over to death by historians, and nothing else needs to be said.  Surprisingly, new documents keep coming to light.  Some new ones reported by Science magazine are especially disturbing: they show a willing symbiosis between Nazi executions and anatomy colleges who needed cadavers for dissections.  In fact, some of the detailed anatomical drawings in a leading anatomy textbook have been discovered to be from the bodies of executed political prisoners.  Surely science has learned its lessons from the grotesque and gruesome involvement with moral atrocities of the 1930s – hasn’t it?  Isn’t it time to move on? (09/07/2004, bullet 1).
        Heather Pringle opened her article in the News Focus section of Science1 stating that the lessons are still being debated:
    A University of Vienna investigation determined in 1998 that Eduard Pernkopf’s anatomy department used bodies of executed prisoners from the Gestapo and from Vienna’s assize court to produce the illustrations in his Topographical Anatomy of Man.  What should anatomists in 2010 do with an atlas that is both scientifically valuable and morally tainted?  Researchers remain deeply divided.
    Pernkopf worked on his atlas for two decades, Pringle reported.  Its illustrations remain unsurpassed even today, she said.  Moreover, the New England Journal of Medicine in 1990 called the work “an outstanding book of great value to anatomists and surgeons.”  But, she continued, “Pernkopf and several of his artists were avid Nazis.”  Should a researcher’s political associations render his work, produced at “a time when medicine crossed an ethical line,” unfit for use by today’s anatomists?  Like she said, they remain deeply divided.  It must be haunting, though, for anyone who looks at these illustrations, to ponder the circumstances under which they were produced.
        Pringle wrote a second article in the same issue of Science entitled, “Confronting Anatomy’s Nazi Past.”2  What’s new for 2010 in this article are recent revelations about the depth of symbiosis of anatomists with the Nazi regime.  “Although other aspects of Nazi science have been explored previously, such as the role of psychiatrists in selecting mentally ill patients for euthanasia, anatomists’ broad complicity in Nazi injustices has emerged mostly in papers published in the past year or so.”  The picture gets pretty chilling:
    These studies document the grim symbiosis that arose between anatomists who wanted human bodies for teaching and research and a criminal regime that wanted to dispose quietly of the corpses of large numbers of executed prisoners.  Medical schools were assigned particular prisons from which to receive corpses and accepted extra bodies for incineration.  One leading Berlin anatomist manipulated the timing of executions and used the terror that female prisoners experienced as they waited to die as a scientific variable in a study, according to research published in Clinical Anatomy last year.  “The picture is one of a very gradual slippage in moral values among anatomists,” says Christoph Redies, a professor of anatomy at the Jena University Hospital in Germany, “to clear outrages and injustices.”
    Imagine, if you can, a scientist informing a woman the time of her execution, recording her reaction, and then dispassionately taking her eggs after her death to study the affects of mental trauma on reproduction.  Such clinical horrors actually happened.  We’re not talking about Jews at death camps, where incineration by the millions constituted the well-known Holocaust, but civilians within the urban centers, where merely telling a joke could be a death sentence.  Nazis needed to dispose of the bodies of 16,000 executed civilians, and the anatomy centers were only too happy to get the goods.  Pringle writes, “anatomists became an integral part of the system of capital punishment.  Each anatomical institute was assigned to a prison facility that possessed an execution chamber, and anatomists received advance notice of executions.”  The institute would send a van over to pick up the corpses; “it was all very legal,” said Sabine Hildebrandt of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who has been researching documents for a decade.  Some students’ sensibilities must have been traumatized at having to dissect cadavers that were missing a head, but “There was no way that [the students] couldn’t have seen where the bodies came from.” Hildebrandt said.  One anatomist got so grossed out by seeing the cadaver of someone he knew personally, he decided to leave his practice.
        Just last year, the misdeeds of Hermann Stieve, director of the Berlin Institute of Anatomy from 1935 to 1952, were published.  Before the Nazis came to power, he used to study the effects of stress on chickens when exposed to a caged fox.  Then, he had something even better: “Stieve examined the effects of stress on the timing of human ovulation.  He collected data on 200 female prisoners who were stressed by learning the date of their execution, and he dissected them after their deaths.”  Pringle goes into detail showing his complicity with the Nazi executioners.  “Stieve suspended his personal feelings to such a degree, says Winkelmann, that he saw little difference between designing a study on caged chickens and women on death row.”
        What may be most shocking is that some scientists today continue to cite Stieve’s work favorably.  In the analysis by William Seidelman, who studied this for ten years, “What the best and brightest did was see the imprisonment and beheading of human beings as opportunities.”  Only in this decade did the German Medical Council decide to extricate all bones, samples and material of Nazi victims from their collections and give the remains a decent burial.  “But Hildebrandt and other researchers believe that this is only a first step in righting a major historical wrong,” Pringle ended.  “They would like to see researchers identify the Nazi victims used by anatomists so that a modern generation can honor their memory today.”
        Dealing with the Nazi past, therefore, continues today.  This fall the German Anatomical Society will hold a symposium called “Anatomy in the Third Reich” to wrestle with the issues raised by their field’s willing collaboration with one of the most cold-blooded murderous regimes in history.  A Berlin anatomist said, “We hope that this will contribute to a global debate on ethical standards for the use of human cadavers in research and teaching.”
    1.  Heather Pringle: “Anatomy: The Dilemma of Pernkopf’s Atlas,” Science, 16 July 2010: Vol. 329. no. 5989, pp. 274-275, DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5989.274-b.
    2.  Heather Pringle: “Confronting Anatomy’s Nazi Past,” Science 16 July 2010: Vol. 329. no. 5989, pp. 274-275, DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5989.274-a.
    From whence springs the moral outrage at the stories above?  Why the chill at hearing about those who suspended their feelings to such degrees as to treat human beings like lab chickens?  Why should there be concern about the slow, gradual slippage in moral values of German anatomists 70 years ago, and why should there be calls for more stringent ethical standards today?  Animals have no such qualms.  Opportunism is common in nature: hyenas, vultures and many animals rush in to benefit from what they did not kill.  Why shouldn’t humans do any differently?  The prisoners were going to die anyway; shouldn’t the remains be used for something positive, like science?  If those drawings are useful today, who cares how they were obtained?  Isn’t it silly to give a decent burial to dead tissues?  Why all this hand-wringing by scientists today who took no part in what the Germans did?
        The association of Nazism with Darwinism has been explored before (10/18/2004, 04/22/2004; and search on “Weikart” in the search bar).  It’s the Judeo-Christian world view that puts a premium on the sanctity of human life.  Nazism is one of the most atrocious examples of cold-blooded inhumanity (although communism actually exceeded it in body count); does that attitude exist today?  Could it be resurrected?  Never assume that the depth of evil in the human heart was fully plumbed by Nazism and communism.  We live on a precipice of a moral darkness so hideous it can scarcely be imagined.  With genetic engineering and nanotechnology, the capability to use, abuse, and kill human beings with finesse is not difficult to imagine, if it were empowered by the appropriate ideology and totalitarian power.  Darwinian thinking is still very much a driving engine for such a regime.  Communist ideology is alive and well in radical groups reaching into high branches of government.
        Consider the leading edges of abuse being discussed today: use of aborted fetuses for research; collection of human eggs and embryos for research; human cloning; human-animal chimeras; medical rationing.  Even when such morally-tainted practices are justified by the health or economic benefits they might bring to the masses, are they not conceivably the beginnings of a cheapening of human life, that “slow, gradual slippage in moral values” that knows no end?  Who are the Allies that would oppose the next axis of evil, if that axis is a global government?
        Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for collaboration with the persecutors of the prophets.  He pointed to the claims by Pharisees that they never would have stoned and killed the prophets like their fathers did; look – they honored them by building their tombs.  In a remark sometimes difficult for the modern ethic to understand, Jesus said in Matthew 23:29-35 that their actions proved their complicity with the murderers:
    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’  Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.  Serpents, brood of vipers!  How can you escape the condemnation of hell?  Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”
    Jesus was not merely asserting that they were genealogical descendents of the murderers of the prophets, but that they had the same human fallen nature.  Unrepentant, it would cause them to follow in the murderers’ footsteps.  By refusing to believe the prophets and repent and be saved, their hearts were still instruments of Satan, just like the hearts of their fathers.  It would result in them committing the same kinds of atrocities their fathers committed given the opportunity and motivation to do so.  No amount of self-righteous asserting that they would never have done such things could stop that same, murderous tendency, innate in their fallen human nature.  And sure enough, just as Jesus warned, despite numerous prophecies and signs given to them, within months they had crucified Jesus and persecuted the apostles after Christ’s Resurrection with all the zeal of an Ahab or Manasseh, if not more.
        The lesson is clear in our day, too.  As much as it is admirable for scientists to be concerned about ethics and morality as new revelations of Nazi-era lapses come to light, the self-flagellation and affirmations of morality now are shallow and easily swept away by the lure of opportunity.  Like the Pharisees who maintained the same self-righteousness and refusal to listen that their forefathers had, today’s scientists adhere to the same Darwinian ideology that rationalized the atrocities of the 20th century.  They still see salvation in human progress and visions of their own utopias, without regard to the word of God.  Without a change of heart, new and worse holocausts may not just be conceivable; they may be inevitable.  The Spirit of God and the salt and light of the redeemed are the only things that stand in the way.
    Next headline on:  Human BodyPolitics and EthicsBible and Theology
      Enjoy the 2009 Fourth of July “Paper View” entry on the evolution of the nervous system: 07/04/2009.  Stagger with disbelief at a scientific explanation that boils down to: “Nervous systems evolved, because... they evolved multiple times independently!”

    Dark Energy: Can a Theoretical Entity Be Measured?     07/17/2010    
    July 17, 2010 — The redshift of galaxies has been measured for some 90 years, but the existence of “dark energy” was postulated only recently – in the late 1990s.  It was needed to explain unexpected dimness of the most distant galaxies, as measured by Type Ia supernovae.  Some cosmologists claim they are measuring dark energy – others say it is an unnecessary quantity that may not even exist.
        PhysOrg triumphantly announced that dark energy has been measured with more precision than ever before by astronomers using the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.  This measurement “Sheds New Light on Universe's Expansion,” the article states.  Yet it becomes clear reading the article that what they were measuring were X-ray emissions from galaxy clusters, then combining the measurements with theoretical models of dark energy.
        It should be apparent that only light can be measured, not darkness (the absence of light).  For instance, a record-breaking gamma ray burst was announced by Space.com: “A violent cosmic explosion has unleashed the brightest blast of X-rays ever detected from distant space, a signal so bright it temporary blinded the NASA space telescope assigned to spot it.”
        Speaking of the Type Ia supernovae used to measure cosmic expansion, Science Daily said that the origin of these key cosmic explosions is still a mystery.  A spokeswoman for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said, “The question of what causes a Type Ia supernova is one of the great unsolved mysteries in astronomy.”  Scientists have models for them – such as the accretion of matter onto a white dwarf from a binary companion, or the collision of two white dwarfs – but no model explains all the observations.  This would seem to cast doubt on whether there is a single mechanism – and how, if not, astronomers can have confidence in their distance measurements (cf. 03/28/2010, bullet 5).
        Science magazine hosted a written debate this week on the question, “Is dark energy really a mystery?”  Eugenio Bianchi and Carlo Rovelli in France answered “No.”  Dark energy is nothing more than lambda, the cosmological constant Einstein erroneously tossed out of his original field equations.  Since lambda is an integral part of his theory, and the current Cold Dark Matter (CDM) model employs it, there is no mystery.  Dark matter is not a substance, they said.  It is part of the explanatory apparatus.
        Taking the affirmative, Rocky Kolb of Chicago acknowledged that the CDM model is the leader, with no observations against it, but said its success comes at a price: “In the model, only about 5% of the total mass–energy of the Universe is observed and understood, and 95% of the Universe is dark.”  Kolb is not impressed by attempts at alleging that a “new constant of nature” (the cosmological constant) “explains” dark energy.  To him, it fits the description of a mystery in the “non-theological” sense of the word: “Something not understood or beyond understanding.”  Moreover, if lambda is the measure of dark energy, it is “absurdly large” for a constant – on the order of 1028 per square centimeter.  Such a constant “cannot at present be related to any other known or expected length scale in nature, and “Attempts to explain this new length scale fail by many, many orders of magnitude.”  His objections then became philosophical and historical:

    We must demand more of cosmology than just piling on components or constants to a model to reproduce observations.  Otherwise, we would still happily be adding epicycles to the Ptolemaic model of planetary motion.  Cosmological models, along with their constants and components, must be grounded in laws of nature that we understand.  The magnitude of the cosmological constant cannot currently be explained by any physics we know.  Until it is, it is a mystery.
    See also the 09/28/2009, 06/30/2008 and 05/11/2006 entries, or search for “dark energy” in the search bar.
    1.  Bianchi, Rovelli, and Kolb, “Cosmology forum: Is dark energy really a mystery?”, Nature 466, pp 321–322, 15 July 2010, doi:10.1038/466321a.
    What kind of science ascribes 95% of reality to mysterious, unknown stuff (MUST) that must exist to keep a theory going? (see 02/28/2008).  If a religion did that, it would be laughed out of the observatory.  Kolb recalled a personal communication he had with maverick astronomer Tommy Gold: “for every complicated physical phenomenon there is a simple, wrong explanation.”  Scientists only fool themselves by giving names like “cosmological constant” to things they do not understand.  It’s a trick the Murphy’s Law books use for entertainment: (e.g., Skinner’s Constant: that quantity which, when added to, subtracted from, multiplied or divided by the answer you got, gives you the answer you should have gotten).  Make one up and explain the universe.  How about Darwin’s Constant: the tendency to speak beyond experience, defined in units of hubris per square paragraph.  Have some fun and send in your entry to the Feedback line.
  • Dawkins’ Constant: The tendency for evolutionists to think they could have designed a better universe, planet, and life than God did. Next headline on:  CosmologyStars and AstronomyPhysics
  • Spinning Webs of Belief: Accounting for George Price     07/16/2010    
    July 16, 2010 — It’s instructive to take a story and compare how evolutionists and creationists report it.  A recent example can be found in the story of George Price: an ex-atheist scientist who, as a creationist, contributed original ideas to evolutionary theory.  How did reviewers from both sides of the origins aisle characterize his creationist beliefs?
        George Price (1922–1975) was a 20th century polymath who contributed original work in mathematics and game theory.  He began as an atheist, but ended a creationist.  Working with famous evolutionists like William D. Hamilton and John Maynard Smith, George Price impressed his colleagues with his insights.  He employed the Nash Equilibrium and covariance theory in offering explanations how apparent altruistic behavior could arise in populations of animals, using game theory.  Hamilton, Smith and others credited Price with insights for which they became famous: kin selection and the evolution of altruism.
        In Science today,1 Steven Frank (UC Irvine) published a review of Oren Harman’s new book, The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness (Norton, 2010).  Frank and the author no doubt appreciated the considerable contributions of Price, but Frank chose to consider his move away from atheism to creationism as a descent into a destructive mental illness.  “Having scored, by pure reason alone, a triumph on biological altruism and the most abstract theories of natural selection, he loses faith in science and begins to study scripture with a zeal and analytical power that scares his religious mentors.  Then even the scriptural analysis wanes, and he turns to help the downtrodden.  Not just to help but to give all he has of his time, possessions, and love—to the point that he becomes as downtrodden as those he sought to help.  Struggles and depression follow; at last, suicide.
        By contrast, creation scientist Jerry Bergman, writing for the Creation Research Society’s newsletter Creation Matters March/April 2007 (see PDF), portrayed Price’s conversion to creationism as a thoughtful step in his spiritual progress.  He said the question of suicide was never proved, and was doubtful based on his behavior: “Although critics alleged that it was suicide, no suicide note was left, nor was there any evidence that he had talked about suicide with friends, family, or anyone else, as is common in suicide cases.  He had just recently visited the Hamilton family for about a week and was in good spirits when he left.”  Price was distraught about physical ailments from a botched surgery and financial problems, but underwent positive mental changes that reflected his change of heart: “After his conversion he even attempted to remarry his former wife, Julia, and reunite the family, an attempt that was unsuccessful.  He also set out to make amends in his private life, such as apologizing to his eldest daughter for being a poor father when he was a militant atheist.”  As for his work on natural selection theory of altruism, Bergman said Price explained to his evolutionist colleagues that he only ascribed the effects to microevolution, not macroevolution, which he made clear he did not accept.
        Both accounts emphasized Price’s brilliant mind and contributions: “Thirty years after Price’s death, the importance of his work is increasingly being recognized by biologists,“ Bergman wrote.  Frank, however, took, Price’s good scientific work as a phenomenon, like Isaac Newton’s achievement, that could stand alone in spite of his religious beliefs.  He implied that only a madman would believe in a “god” – “One could say that Newton’s mad, lonely pursuit was all about his dreams of the glory of his Christian god.  But how much does that matter?.... It is a fine part of history to reconstruct researchers’ personal dreams of glory or god [sic, small g].  Scientists may need such dreams to keep them going through the long, hard hours.  But after the discovery, it is only the outed secret of nature that matters.”  Frank was not discounting the value of Price’s personal beliefs and history for historians, or for Price himself, but claimed that for science, “Price’s scientific contributions had that purity of complete and rational order.”
    1.  Steven A. Frank, “History of Science: Belief, Reason and Insight,” Science, 16 July 2010: Vol. 329. no. 5989, pp. 279-280, DOI: 10.1126/science.1193026.
    Who is calling whom crazy?  Dr. Frank, presumably a naturalistic evolutionist (see his Interests page), has dismissed Newton’s and Price’s Christian work as a kind of madness, from which the “purity of complete and rational order” of their science can be rescued, rinsed off and sanitized.  Work for the glory of god is living in “dream”land, he intimated.  It stands in contradistinction to “reason alone” that gives rise to “science.”  He portrayed Price’s “god” obsession as a descent from the loss of “faith in science” into frenetic Bible study, irrational altruism, and suicide.  Were that Price were here to judge between Frank’s account and Bergman’s.
        It might bear repeating the madness required to believe in evolutionary theory.  To accept Frank’s work on the origin of complex phenotypes by “genetic, biochemical and cellular mechanisms” (presumably unguided) according to “evolutionary processes,” it presumes accepting the origin of the first life without design.  Leading creationists and non-creationists have analyzed what that belief entails.  The Wistar Institute Symposium of 1966 concluded that randomness was so out of the question for creating life, new physical laws would be needed to explain evolution (see Evolution News & Views).  In 1981, Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe calculated the chance of getting the enzymes for a cell at one in 1040,000, “an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.” (Evolution from Space, p.24).    Michael Denton calculated similar probabilities in 1985 (see ICR summary).  Only 1040 could have ever existed on the earth, Denton wrote, yet the chance of getting the 100 proteins for a theoretical cell are one in 102000, an “infinitely small” possibility (Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, p. 323).  See our online book for additional calculations: even getting one functional protein under wildly favorable conditions is one in 10161 over the whole history of the earth – let alone the chance of getting a complete set of proteins and genes that a minimal theoretical cell requires.  More recent work by intelligent design scientists continues the same story.  No gambler would place a bet if the odds were worse than one in three of winning.  If it would be insane to gamble on one in 100, or one in 1000, how much more to bet on one chance in 1040,000?  Yet the majority of evolutionists continue to believe it after 50 years of proof that it is mathematically impossible.  When those in power get to define what is insane, while rejecting design and ascribing life to chance, watch out.
        For George Price to give up game-playing with game theory on the origin of altruism and become actually altruistic should be considered honorable and magnanimous.  After rejecting atheism in light of the evidence for design, for Price to accept Christianity and study with enthusiasm the Creator’s word in the Scriptures, was the only logical path to take.  For him to understand the limitations of reason (if reason can lead evolutionists to the insanity of believing in a chance origin of life) was the most reasonable thing he could do.  For him to give his all and follow the example of Christ, even to his own hurt, is a noble act that should inspire others.  Such unselfishness is unexplainable by game theory or “genetic, biochemical and cellular mechanisms.”  It not only falsifies human altruism as an evolutionary artifact, it stands as Price’s real-life testament to the insanity of evolution  Those who appreciate his scientific work should take a closer look at what led George Price to reject evolution and live out his life in service to others.
        Price was not irrational to become an altruistic Christian.  He reached for something higher than reason: wisdom.  James, the brother of Jesus who became a believer because of the Resurrection, asked later in his life, “Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” – a wisdom characterized by “mercy and good fruit”  (James 3:13-17).  Imperfect as George Price undoubtedly was, as is the lot of all mortals, his wisdom as evidence in his later life exceeded that of secular evolutionists by 10x, x >> 1.
    Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolutionary TheoryMind and BrainIntelligent DesignBible and Theology
    Tricks to Preserve Deep Time     07/15/2010    
    July 15, 2010 — It’s not always easy to prove that things are very, very old.  After all, no one has ever experienced deep time (millions and billions of years).  The key is to maintain a public “feeling” in the oldness of things.  Once that feeling is in place, some pretty major tweaks can be made by the experts without upsetting the deep-time framework.
    1. Establish then revise:  The age of the earth is usually printed to four significant figures (4.537 billion years), but physicists just decided it’s 70 million years younger than it was.  PhysOrg announced that an international team decided to revise the date.  “The results suggest that the length of time between the date at which the solar system was formed, about 4.567 billion years ago, and the point at which the Earth reached its present size, may have been far longer than traditionally presumed.”  Stretching out the earth’s time in the womb makes the birth come later: “We estimate that makes it about 4.467 billion years old – a mere youngster compared with the 4.537 billion-year-old planet we had previously imagined,” where imagined is the operative word.  3 of the 4 significant figures have been modified by this move.  Significant figures are supposed to represent levels of accuracy beyond the margin of error.
    2. Put the catastrophe in the deep time vault:  The process that brought diamonds to the surface is nearly instantaneous (05/07/2007) – but it isn’t happening today.  Live Science quoted a scientist who said that diamonds appear on the surface of the earth through explosive volcanic eruptions that create kimberlite dikes.  “No one has ever seen a kimberlite erupt – the most recent took place about 40 million years ago, said study author Kevin Burke, a geologist at the University of Houston.” 
    3. Gloss over conundrums:  Cycads ruled the earth since 300 million years ago, claims Science Daily, but all of a sudden in our lifetimes they “are rapidly going extinct because of invasive pests and habitat loss, especially those species endemic to islands.”  Were there none of these threats before in 300 million years?
    4. Just say old:  Asteroid Lutetia was photographed by the Rosetta spacecraft last Saturday.  Right off the bat, Space.com led with the headline, “Battered Asteroid a Survivor From Solar System’s Birth.”  All that could be measured was rock composition, density, and surface topography, but Space.com was sure Lutetia is a “primitive asteroid survivor from the tumultuous birth of the solar system,” with “landscape that hints at the space rock’s ancient, violent past.”  There was no suggestion that tumults or violence occur these days.  Holgier Sierks from the imaging team made what he thinks a statement of fact: “I think this is a very old object,” he said.  “Tonight we have seen a remnant of the solar system’s creation.
    5. Rearrange the deck chairs:  In the old story of human migration out of Africa, our ancestors tended to congregate around the equatorial latitudes to avoid the ice ages.  Well, what do you know: PhysOrg now says that early man conquered the British Isles 800,000 years ago, “far earlier than previously thought.”  This is based on stone tools found in East Anglia, home of the Climategate university.  Such evidence is no threat to the evolutionary timeline; the adjustments to earlier beliefs are made elsewhere, such as in resiliency of the early human physiology.  “This challenges our views that early humans spread only during periods of exceptional warmth,” one archaeologist explained.  “Instead, the new evidence demonstrates that early humans were capable of adapting their behaviour as the world changed around them.”  Agriculture, written language and cities would have to wait 790,000 more years.
    6. Suspend credulityPhysOrg announced that a 10,000 year old weapon just appeared in melting snow.  The discoverer did not explain why the snow didn’t melt for all that time before, but admitted, “Ninety-five percent of the archaeological record that we usually base our interpretations on is comprised of chip stone artifacts, ground stone artifacts, maybe old hearths, which is a fire pit, or rock rings that would have been used to stabilize a house,” Craig Lee [U of Colorado] said.  “So we really have to base our understanding about ancient times on these inorganic materials.”  The article said that once artifacts like the wooden weapon melt out of the ice, they could be lost forever, so he was really lucky to find this after 10,000 years.
    7. Stretch the fast and furious:  Geology can be “fast and furious,” reported PhysOrg, but the results still take deep time.  We can “Witness the birth of Africa’s new ocean” in Ethiopia happening under geologists’ feet, but don’t bring your beach towel just yet.  “Scientists at the University of Leeds are predicting that within 10 million years Africa’s Horn will fall away and a new ocean will form.”  Of course, by then, they will all be dead and unavailable for falsification charges.  See 11/04/2009, 12/09/2005, and 09/19/2007.
    These recent examples reveal that scientists reserve the right to maintain a great deal of flexibility for moving dates around within the framework.  The framework itself, however, is never questioned.
    Thomas Kuhn was right.  The science community works happily within the paradigm.  The paradigm is not open to debate.  In Kuhnian science, anomalies are supposed to pile up to the point where mavericks question the paradigm (e.g., 08/07/2009, 04/17/2009, 04/02/2009, 03/09/2009, 12/02/2008, 11/12/2008 and many more examples under “Dating Methods”).  The intellectual capital invested in the deep-time paradigm, however, is so huge, and the ramifications of a concession to the despised creationists so distasteful, that exceptional efforts are made to maintain the paradigm in spite of anomalies (07/02/2007, 11/26/2007, 07/25/2008).  Much of that effort is devoted to simple declarative statements that things are old, repeated often enough so that the public rests in the aura of deep time.  That way, the unfathomable antiquity of the world is, after sufficient indoctrination, intuitively obvious.
    Next headline on:  GeologyPlantsSolar SystemEarly ManDating Methods
      Why academic freedom is dangerous: 07/10/2008.

    Revising Dinosaurs     07/14/2010    
    July 14, 2010 — Reconstructing a lost world from fossils is an inexact science.  The realization that two species of dinosaur were different growth stages of the same species is just one example of the difficulty of drawing conclusions about past ecological conditions.  It raises additional questions about the mental visions we have of the world of dinosaurs.
        PhysOrg reported that Torosaurus, sporting a larger frill with holes in it, turns out to be an older stage of growth of the familiar Triceratops.  The article explains that “juvenile dinosaurs weren’t just miniature versions of adults.  They looked very different, and their skulls changed radically as they matured.”  Re-examination of familiar species at different stages of growth have revealed “extreme changes in the skulls of pachycephalosaurs, tyrannosaurs and other dinosaurs that died out about 65 million years ago in North America.”
        Speaking of tyrannosaurs, paleontologists still seem unable to decide how fast and fierce our old friend T. rex was.  This month, National Geographic claimed it plodded like an elephant because of a natural speed limit of 180 feet per second in nerve signals.  The picture of T. rex lumbering about looking for dead meat doesn’t make a good movie, but new evidence suggests tyrannosaurs spent some time looking for “Meat that doesn’t fight back.”  New Scientist teased that tyrannosaurs may have been “history’s most fearsome... scavengers?” while Live Science left room for some hunting of fast food between the comfort food.
       John Scannella and Jack Horner studied dozens of triceratops specimens in Montana.  “Even in Triceratops that were previously considered to be adults,” they found, “the skull was still undergoing dramatic changes.” Scannella recognized the perils of interpreting an ecological system from bones.  “Paleontologists are at a disadvantage because we can’t go out into the field and observe a living Triceratops grow up from a baby to an adult,” he said.  “We have to put together the story based on fossils.  In order to get the complete story, you need to have a large sample of fossils from many individuals representing different growth stages.”
        But what is to be made of “Mojoceratops,” a new specimen from Canada that Nicholas Longrich of Yale named after having a few beers? (see Science Daily and Live Science).  Is it really a new species, or does the fame of finding something new play into the classification?  The article claims it’s a more extravagant version of an existing species named Chasmosaurus.  Longrich admitted, “So far, we really have no good explanation for why there are so many dinosaurs in the area and just how they managed to coexist.”  He also just wanted to have fun with the name.  “You can do good science and still have some fun, too.  So why not?”
        Good science and fun are not mutually exclusive, to be sure.  But the public often trusts the depictions of dinosaurs from the experts in their visions of what the ancient world looked like.  Hollywood does, too (more or less).  One hopes that between beers the paleontologists are striving for accuracy.  “Without considering changes in shape throughout ontogeny,” Scannella said, “we overestimate dinosaur diversity and hence produce an unrealistic view of the paleoecology of these animals.”  Horner and Scannella worked with many graduate students and volunteers to try to falsify their hypothesis that Torosaurus was a mature form of Triceratops, but “Every avenue of investigation we took in attempts to falsify the hypothesis only supported the idea further,” Scannella said.  They never found a juvenile Torosaurus; all the skulls were large and few in number compared to Triceratops.
        Admirable as their caution was before lumping Torosaurus with Triceratops, they appeared to leap less carefully into other interpretations about Cretaceous ecology.  They even brought global warming into the tale:

    “A major decline in diversity may have put the dinosaurs in a vulnerable state at the time when the large meteor struck the Earth at the end of the Cretaceous Period,” Scannella said.  “It may have been the combination of the two factors – lower diversity and a major global catastrophe – that resulted in the extinction of all the non-avian dinosaurs.”
        If the apparent decline in diversity wasn’t triggered by a meteor – a relatively uncommon event – Scannella said, “It may have been caused by circumstances which are more likely to affect diversity today, perhaps large-scale sea level fluctuations or climate change.”
    One wonders if Scannella said these things in the “May” season.
        An article on Science Daily claimed that ostriches can provide clues about dinosaur movement.  They noticed that ostriches use their forelimb wings aerodynamically to control their speed and direction.  “The results of this new study could mean that some of the largest and fastest-moving dinosaurs, such as the 8m long Gigantoraptor, also used feathered forelimbs for increased stability and manoeuvrability when moving at speed.”  Here, they not only extrapolated a phenomenon fourfold or more into an unseen world, they put feathers onto a creature on which no feathers were found.
        If it’s data the dinosaur hunters need, a new treasure trove opened up in Alberta.  Live Science reported the world’s largest dinosaur graveyard – thousands of Centrosaurus skeletons covering 568 acres.  The discoverers believe a herd of the cow-sized dinosaurs got trapped in a local flood: “The likely culprit in this scenario was a catastrophic storm, which could quickly have routinely made the waters flood up as high as 12 to 15 feet (3.6 to 4.6 meters), if experiences with modern floodplains are any guide.”  They believe that scavengers came in after the water lowered and fed on the carcasses.  “The researchers now hope to take lessons they have learned in Alberta to compare it to other parts of the world in an effort to pinpoint signs of past catastrophes elsewhere.”
    Scannella talked about putting together a story.  We often criticize the storytelling in Darwinism, but not all storytelling is just-so storytelling.  Obviously there was some kind of story with the dinosaurs.  The bones are brute facts; how did they get there?  Creationists will say they are antediluvian creatures who perished in the Flood.  Evolutionists fit them into their story of deep time, evolution, and extinction.  But here is the issue with stories about the unobservable past: like Scannella said, paleontologists are at a disadvantage.  They cannot go out into the field and observe a living Triceratops and watch how it grows.  Nor can they see its total environment, and how it interacted with other dinosaurs and other creatures.  Each plant and animal fossil in the same strata adds to the puzzle, but we cannot know how many other pieces are missing; as Sagan used to say of SETI, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”  Moreover, one cannot watch a rerun of what happened with the origin and extinction of dinosaurs.
        This is limitation on Biblical creationists, too; they have a framework in the Flood narrative of Genesis 6-9, but that is a condensed account.  It doesn’t provide details of what was living in the future land of Montana or Alberta and how specifically they perished in what order.  They, too, have to take the puzzle pieces and try to make sense of them within their general picture of the Flood.  There’s lively debate and argument in creationist journals about the details.  It’s a built-in limitation of historical sciences; one cannot observe, repeat, and test one-time occurrences.  Even if you can recreate similar occurrences, or find analogies (like current flood-plains), the scientist can only assess and argue the plausibility of the resulting story.
        Every theory about the past is theory-laden.  Even the naming and classification of the dinosaurs is theory-laden.  It took a jolly inebriated human being to name “Mojoceratops” and decide it was a new species.  Deciding what the continent was like when it was buried, and what caused the burial of 568 acres of Centrosaurs, and whether a local flood (or something larger) buried them – none of those answers jump unprocessed out of the data.  This is why skepticism and argument is important in science, especially in the historical sciences.  Creationists admit they have a framework of interpretation (the Bible), but evolutionists pretend they are bias-free.  Creationists routinely look at both sides of the creation-evolution controversy, but evolutionists deny a controversy exists.  Evolutionists argue over some of the details, but they never question their framework: billions of years of evolution.  The potential is real for intellectual inbreeding and stagnation in the evolutionist camp, but they refuse to acknowledge it.  They deny anyone outside their paradigm a seat at the table, so they continue to place uncooperative details into a fixed paradigm (e.g., 04/30/2009).  That’s when storytelling becomes just-so storytelling.  The plot is massaged just so the data fits into the agreed-upon story.
        One way to decide which story is better is to have a sentient eyewitness explain what happened.  That’s exactly what creationists claim to have (at least for their general outline): the Biblical record of a global Flood, not just a series of past catastrophes, which evolutionists agree are needed to interpret the evidence.  Evolutionists, ruling eyewitness testimony out of court, are stuck with just-so storytelling.  They think that’s better.
        How to evaluate interpretations?  It becomes an issue of credibility.  There are no value-free guidelines of credibility, either.  Occam’s Razor is a guideline but not a law of nature.  Avoiding contradictions, special pleading and ad hoc rescue devices are usually valued.  Making stuff up out of thin air (just-so storytelling) to preserve a belief is frowned upon (or should be).  But stories cannot be judged simply by the number of scientists who believe them, the institutions that support them, and the political or financial power behind them.  Better one truth-teller than a thousand know-nothings.  Is there a God who told the truth about the history of the world and the origin of all life and mankind?  That would constitute sufficient evidence to accept His word (see II Peter 3:3-9, written by an eyewitness of Jesus’ transfiguration and resurrection – and Jesus spoke of the Flood as true history; see Luke 17;26-27).  One can choose which storyteller to believe, but one cannot eliminate storytelling altogether.  A story with an Eyewitness would seem preferable to any reasonable judge or jury, if it were not for modern science’s prior commitment to the philosophy of naturalism.
    Next headline on:  DinosaursBirdsFossilsGeology
      Learn about cells and have fun!  Play the new online game CellCraft, already getting rave reviews in its first days since launch last week.

    Darwinists Get Sexy     07/13/2010    
    July 13, 2010 — The origin of sex titillates many evolutionary biologists.  On the one hand, animals and plants have such interesting ways of getting together.  But on the other hand, sex seems too costly to have originated by natural selection.  Some recent articles provide new evolutionary speculations on the origin of sex – but simultaneously undermine previous speculations.

    1. It all starts with multicellularity:  An article in PhysOrg based on work at the Salk Institute and the Joint Genome Institute makes multicellularity a cinch: it’s “all in the family.”  Work on Volvox led them to say, “One of the most pivotal steps in evolution—the transition from unicellular to multicellular organisms—may not have required as much retooling as commonly believed.”  They explained, “multicellular organisms may have been able to build their more complex molecular machinery largely from the same list of parts that was already available to their unicellular ancestors.”  That begs the question of where the unicellular ancestors got their complex molecular machinery, but hey: it’s just a matter of reorganizing the same Lego blocks, they said.  But if “Volvox, the most sophisticated member of the lineage, is believed to have evolved from a Chlamydomonas-like ancestor within the last 200 million years,” and if “In most cases the switch from a solitary existence to a communal one happened so long ago—over 500 million years—that the genetic changes enabling it are very difficult to trace,” how can they claim that with some green algae, “the transition to multicellularity happened in a series of small, potentially adaptive changes, and the progressive increase in morphological and developmental complexity can still be seen in contemporary members of the group”?  If most cases were long ago, why are there any today?  And if so little retooling is required, why is there not more multicellularity evolving right before their eyes?  They didn’t elaborate, but treated the origin of multicellularity as a stepping-stone to sex: “some subtypes evolved into a diffusible hormonal trigger for sexual differentiation,” the article ended, without explaining where the hormones came from.
          Elisabeth Pennisi’s coverage of this story in Science1 produced another conundrum.  She began by saying, “How a single cell made the leap to a complex organism is one of life’s great mysteries.”  Then she quoted David Kirk of Washington University at St. Louis saying, “Even major evolutionary transitions can be accomplished via relatively subtle genetic changes.”  But the very next sentence said, “As a result, solving this mystery ‘is going to take a lot more work.’”  How can it be a lot of work to study a simple, albeit subtle, genetic change?  She said they found “surprisingly few differences” between Volvox, a colonial organism, and Chlamydomonas, a unicellular species.  Although her article did not discuss the origin of sex, the theme was that major changes can accompany simple rearrangements.  Quoting Nicole King of UC Berkeley, “The key transition is not inventing a whole bunch of genes and proteins; you just have to change the way you use what you have.
    2. Onward to sex:  An article in PhysOrg announced, “Researchers Present New Sex Evolution Theory.”  This seems to presuppose that the old one is problematic or untenable.  At the least, it’s inadequate: “The origin of the evolutionary game – the ability of animals (including humans) and plants to reproduce sexually, genetically recombine to repair DNA, and then produce eggs, sperm or pollen – is an unresolved mystery in biology.”  So do Harris Bernstein and Carol Bernstein of the University of Arizona have the solution?  Do they fulfill the teaser that they “provide insights into the early evolution of sexual organisms and the role environmental stressors had on sexual reproduction as a key survival strategy?”  It sounds like their answer lies in the invention of meiosis in eukaryotes: “The UA department of cell biology and anatomy researchers argue that eukaryotes, or cells with a nucleus, adapted their meiotic ability to recombine chromosomes sexually into new genetically distinct entities from their ancestors, called prokaryotic cells.”  Where did meiosis come from?  They didn’t say.  And a reader may wonder if eukaryotes did this on purpose according to some plan: the eukaryotes did the adapting, that sentence said, “to recombine chromosomes sexually” and create “genetically distinct entities from their ancestors”.  Why would they ever do such a thing?  Whatever: that ability “gives rise to eggs and sperm in humans” was the next claim – a rather giant leap down the evolutionary script.  So far, we have this argument: humans reproduce sexually because meiosis arose.
          The UA scientists tried to provide a motive for natural selection to create sex.  “According to the Bernsteins’ theory, meiosis evolved to promote DNA repair, thereby greatly reducing DNA damage in resulting eggs and sperm.”  Again, they have attributed purpose to the emergence of a complex phenomenon: meiosis evolved to do something.  The passive voice verb evolved leaves the question begging of who performed the action.  It doesn’t help that the next paragraphs in the article explain the benefits of DNA repair in living prokaryotes and eukaryotes.  Hints of sex can be found in how prokaryotes repair their DNA, they said: “Transformation is the transfer of a fragment of DNA from a donor cell to a recipient cell, followed by recombination in the recipient chromosome.  The researchers call this bacterial process an early version of sex.”  Why prokaryotes stopped there billions of years ago, and are still around today with their primitive proto-sex, was not explained.
          The Bernsteins dispensed with the old to make way for the new: “The prevailing theory is that eukaryotes developed the ability for meiosis and sexual reproduction from their ability to reproduce through mitosis and not from their early ancestor’s ability to reproduce through transformation.”  In with the new: “Our proposal, that the sexual process of meiosis in eukaryotes arose from the sexual process of transformation in their bacterial ancestors, is a new and fundamentally different perspective that will likely generate controversy,” they predicted.  Their proposal has advantages: “If it is assumed that meiosis arose only after mitosis was established, there would have been an extended period (while mitosis was evolving) when there was no meiosis, and therefore no sex, in eukaryotes,” they explained.  “This assumption appears to be contradicted by evidence that the basic machinery for meiosis was present very early in eukaryote evolution.”  So assuming meiosis “arose” earlier, and was already there, the origin of sex follows.  This is a displacement explanation.  Meiosis did not have to evolve in eukaryotes: it was already there.  Adding a little stress pushed the evolution of sex: “A key argument in their hypothesis is that in both prokaryotes and simple eukaryotes, sexual cycles are induced by stressful conditions,” they continued.  “Thus, the recombinational repair promoted by transformation and meiosis is part of a survival strategy in response to stress.”  Stress is the mother of invention – in this case, sex.
          In passing, they shared some interesting information about DNA repair: “the average human cell incurs about 10,000 DNA damages per day, of which 50 are double-strand breaks.”  It’s a wonder cancer is not more prevalent.  The reactive oxygen molecules produced from food you eat are responsible for many of these breaks.  “Thus, efficient DNA recombinational repair is an adaptation for cell survival and for producing new offspring, in higher organisms, through meiosis,” the article concluded.  Sex is not about love; it’s about avoiding DNA damage.  How the vast majority of organisms (microbes) got by without it from the beginning of life till now is not quite clear.
    3. Ancient seed:  The news media are reporting that “Sperm in All Animals Originated 600 Million Years Ago.”  Live Science said that; Science Daily put it, “Human Sperm Gene Is 600 Million Years Old, Scientists Discover.”  This gene, named Boule, is found in fruit flies and humans, so according to evolutionary theory, it must be so important, that despite the ebb and flow of evolution over the whole span of multicellular life, this one escaped virtually unchanged.  Just as styles in sexy clothes or fashion change from year to year and culture to culture, ‘sexy’ genes, or genes specific to sex, also change rapidly,” Science Daily said.  “But there is one sex-specific gene so vital, its function has remained unaltered throughout evolution and is found in almost all animals, according to new research from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.”  In Live Science, Eugene Xu of Northwestern was stunned: “It’s really surprising because sperm production gets pounded by natural selection,” but this one did not.  “It tends to change due to strong selective pressures for sperm-specific genes to evolve.  There is extra pressure to be a super male to improve reproductive success,” he said.  But even superman cannot evolve against this gene.  “This is the one sex-specific element that didn’t change across species.  This must be so important that it can’t change.”  Evolution is inexorable – except when it’s not.
    4. Sex and necks:  Giraffes have sex.  They also have long necks.  The old, traditional evolutionary explanation for the long necks is that giraffes needed to reach higher up the trees.  That’s so Lamarck.  Bosh; necks are for sex, argues Rob Simmons and Res Altwegg of the University of Cape Town in South Africa.  Michael Marshall on New Scientist gave press to this idea: “The latest theory – and it’s a surprise this hasn’t come up before, given biologists’ fixation with it,” (i.e., sex) “– is that the long necks are the result of sexual selection: that is, they evolved in males as a way of competing for females.”  First, though, he had to dispense with the traditional view: “The evidence supporting the high-feeding theory is surprisingly weak,” he said.  “Giraffes in South Africa do spend a lot of time browsing for food high up in trees, but elsewhere in Africa they don’t seem to bother, even when food is scarce.”
          Male giraffes, though, do go through a ritual of “necking” as a form of conquest.  They stand side by side and ram each other’s ribs and legs with their ossicones (the pointed growths on top of their heads).  “Having a long and powerful neck would be an advantage in these duels, and it’s been found that males with long necks tend to win, and also that females prefer them,” explained Marshall.  It also explains why the necks evolved faster than the legs, he said.  Having a long neck, though, is the question.  A need is not a mechanism for getting something.  The presumption is that some early short-necked male pre-giraffe lost to a rival having a neck slightly longer.  He fathered all the babies, and natural selection continued to magnify that trait.  But did the necking habit evolve before or after the necks got long?  Why didn’t the rival develop ram’s horns to batter the long-necked rival in the side?  Any evolutionary explanation also has to account for the many internal changes that come with a long neck – a powerful heart, special blood vessels, and protection for the brain when the animal leans over to get a drink.  Presumably natural selection took care of all these problems simultaneously.
          Every solution creates new problems.  Why, if males “evolved” long necks to do battle, do the females have long necks?  Not every exaggerated traits in males are echoed in females (think peacocks).  Graham Mitchell of the University of Pretoria in South Africa produced evidence that male and female giraffes in South Africa have necks of identical length.  Simmons and Altwegg, however, countered that the males’ necks are slightly longer, and heavier.  In the end, they opted for a composite evolutionary explanation: “Simmons and Altwegg suggest that giraffes’ necks may have begun growing as a way of eating hard-to-reach food, but that they were then ’hijacked’ for mating purposes,” Marshall explained.  “Once the necks had reached a certain length, males could use them for necking and clubbing – and at that point sexual selection took over, driving the necks to their current extreme lengths.” 

    1.  Elisabeth Pennisi, “Volvox Genome Shows It Doesn’t Take Much to Be Multicellular,” Science, 9 July 2010: Vol. 329. no. 5988, pp. 128-129, DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5988.128-a.
    Didn’t he just say that ”the evidence for the high-feeding theory is surprisingly weak”?  And even if the long necks started stretching for feeding, why didn’t the female necks stop once the males hijacked the necks for mating purposes?  Maybe the females needed to keep stretching their necks to see eye-to-eye with the big boys.  Who knows; once composite explanations are offered, any combination of stories might do.
        To understand science articles these days, you need to learn how to brush past the bluff.  All the happy-happy talk about how such and such a “finding” sheds light on evolution is like advertising at a used car lot.  If it’s a road-worthy car you are after, you must tune out the ribbons and flags and balloons, the billboards of scantily-clad women standing by the cars, the P.T. Barnum salespeople with their Bengal tigers and jugglers, and go for the data.  Kick the tires, open the hood, check the fluid levels, and know ahead of time what the value of the vehicle should be.  Take it for a test drive: what happens when you have to drive it up hill?  Sure, the DarwinMobile rolls downhill with ease, but put it into low gear and see if it can handle the steep grades.  You wouldn’t trust any one of these explanatory vehicles above with your wife and kids.  Unfortunately, the science community, the popular press, and the researchers have a monopoly on DarwinMobiles and that’s all they have to sell.  You need to go to independent dealers to get an explanatory vehicle that is intelligently designed for the real road.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyMammalsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
    Bacteria Too Complex To Be Primitive Eukaryote Ancestors     07/12/2010    
    July 12, 2010 — In the search for the most primitive life forms on earth, bacteria would certainly make the list.  They are tiny, one-celled, and have small genomes.  Why, then, did Patrick Forterre and Simonetta Gribaldo of the Pasteur Institute say in PNAS,1we should definitely stop thinking of bacteria in terms of simple ‘lower’ organisms”?  For the same reason that Science Daily announced about a separate finding, “Lowly bacteria are turning out to be much more complex than previously thought.
        Some bacteria do, of course, have one of the most amazing molecular motors on earth: the flagellum.  Howard Berg’s team at Harvard recently found out that the clockwise and counter-clockwise rotations of flagella are asymmetrical.  Writing in PNAS,1 they said, “We speculate that CCW rotation might be optimized for runs, with higher speeds increasing the ability of cells to sense spatial gradients, whereas CW rotation might be optimized for tumbles, where the object is to change cell trajectories.”  Flagellar motors are just one instance of exquisite complexity found in bacteria.  More instances are now coming to light.
        The Science Daily article reported on work at Loyola University that found a new example of “bacterial complexity” called ”protein acetylation” at work, a process once thought characteristic of the more-complex eukaryotes and rare in bacteria.  Protein acetylation is a molecular process involved in regulating genes and proteins.  “Bacteria have long been considered simple relatives of eukaryotes,” wrote Alan Wolfe for his colleagues at Loyola.  “Obviously, this misperception must be modified.... There is a whole process going on that we have been blind to.”  Has this discovery been exciting?  He said his graduate students are working around the clock, because “We’re riding the front of the wave, and that’s exhilarating.”  The headline announced that the discovery of a complex process in bacteria represents “the dawning of a new age in bacteria research.
        Forterre and Gribaldo, writing in their PNAS Commentary,2 discussed two other recent findings that promote bacteria into the ballpark of complex organisms: (1) the discovery by Fuerst that they are capable of endocytosis, in which extracellular cargo can enter the cell through wrappings of membrane, and (2) the discovery by Devos that their cell membranes contain proteins “structural analogs of eukaryotic membrane coat (MC) proteins.”  Forterre and Gribaldo explain, “In eukaryotes, MC proteins are involved in both vesicle trafficking systems and in the formation of the nuclear pore.”  But bacteria have no nucleus, do they?  Actually, many bacteria have an intracytoplasmic membrane (ICM), another analog to the eukaryotic nucleus, and their MC proteins apparently form a kind of nuclear pore to allow trafficking of RNAs between the genome and the ribosomes – just like in eukaryotes.  “The analogies between the membrane trafficking systems of PVC bacteria and Eukarya, both at the cytological and protein structure levels, are thus strikingly evident,” they exclaimed.  “It now seems impossible to ignore these data when discussing the origin of the eukaryotic nucleus.”  Far be it from an evolutionary biologist to ignore data.
        So what is the new picture of the relationship between “simple” prokaryotes and their more-evolved superiors, the eukaryotes?  For one thing, Forterre and Gribaldo revealed serious shortcomings with the popular “endosymbiosis” model – the idea that a prokaryote engulfed an archaea and gave rise to a symbiotic relationship that produced a eukaryote.  “However, symbiotic hypotheses for the origin of Eukarya remain difficult to understand in terms of known biological mechanisms,” they said.  “For example, they imply a specific association between a bacterium and an archaeon for which there are no examples in nature, and assume a very unlikely process where all of the genes of the bacterial host coding for informational proteins would have been replaced by those of the archaeal symbiont.”  So much for that idea.  Too bad it was the leading plot in many a documentary and popular evolutionary portrayal.
        Forterre and Gribaldo could only think of two approaches, both evolutionary: “A major objective of future research should now be to determine whether bacterial MC proteins are only structural analogs of eukaryotic ones (a case of convergent evolution) or whether instead they are homologous.”  With choices like that, Darwin can’t lose.  “This cannot be tested through sequence similarity (even between eukaryotic MC proteins), because these proteins evolve too rapidly at the sequence level,” they said, again assuming evolution.  “However, MC proteins have retained their core architecture during evolution....”  One wonders how they could know that.  The two unique protein domains that make up the MC proteins of prokaryotes “are strikingly similar in PVC bacteria and Eukarya.”  For this reason, they favor homology instead of convergence, but more research will be required: “Preliminary results have nevertheless already provided important information, suggesting in fact an ancient origin of these proteins in both PVC bacteria and in Eukarya, because several copies of MC proteins were probably already present in their respective last common ancestors.”
        It’s apparent that for Forterre and Gribaldo, the assumption of evolution qualifies as information about how eukaryotes evolved from prokaryotes.  “If we assume that bacterial and eukaryotic MC proteins have a common origin, how can this information be fitted with current theories on the origin of eukaryotes?”  Imagination also supplies information: “Three scenarios can be imagined,” they said.  The endosymbiosis model, as noted above, is no longer credible.  That leaves two “scenarios where modern Eukarya originated from an ancestral protoeukaryotic lineage.”  The first imagines PVC bacteria getting their MC proteins by lateral gene transfer.  They admit there’s no evidence for that.  “In the second one” (the one they favor), “MC proteins would have already been present in the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) and were inherited in Eukarya and PVC bacteria, whereas they were lost in all other bacterial phyla and in Archaea.”  How did LUCA get it?  They didn’t say.  Here’s where their story really gets convoluted, and admittedly “odd” –
    If the LUCA already harbored MC proteins, it was probably compartmentalized.  This idea can appear odd to many biologists who use [sic] to think of the LUCA and all its contemporaries as very primitive entities.  However, the formation of vesicles and membrane manipulation may be very ancient features of life... suggesting, by analogy, that even ancient cells with RNA genomes could have had such capacity and therefore already be compartmentalized.  If MC proteins were already around at the time of the LUCA, the ancient biosphere might have been more diversified than usually suspected, with various lineages of compartmentalized cells, some of them with nuclei (which could be named synkaryotes) and others without (akaryotes), thriving in various environments.  Endocytosis of proteins might well be an ancient trait that was lost in bacteria with rigid cell walls.  Although PVC bacteria are bona fide members of the bacterial domain, they might therefore have conserved some ancestral features in terms of cellular structure and function that open up new avenues of thinking about the nature of our cellular ancestors.  Further exploration of microbial diversity will most likely bring surprises.  Other compartmentalized cells could in fact exist among the vast numbers of still uncultivated archaeal and bacterial lineages.
    One detects a suggestion that the above paragraph might have a lot of could-be’s and may-be’s in it, perhaps.  There’s a lot of complexity to explain.  Now, the reader understands the context for that line with which this entry opened: “In any case, the results of Fuerst and Devos and colleagues remind us that we should definitely stop thinking of bacteria in terms of simple ‘lower’ organisms.
    1.  Yuan, Fahrner, Turner, and Berg, “Asymmetry in the clockwise and counterclockwise rotation of the bacterial flagellar motor,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print July 6, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1007333107.
    2.  Patrick Forterre and Simonetta Gribaldo, “Bacteria with a eukaryotic touch: A glimpse of ancient evolution?”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print July 12, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1007720107.
    Readers must be aghast at this entry: astonished at the complexity of bacteria, and utterly appalled at the shameless, incorrigible tenacity of Darwinian faith in their naturalistic tale.  “If we assume that bacterial and eukaryotic MC proteins have a common origin....”  That sentence reveals the cardinal sin of the Darwin Scientific Method, abbreviated MAD (Multiply Assumptions of Darwin): namely, (1) Assume evolution, (2) Observe a fact, (3) Make up a story to tell how the fact evolved.  These blind leaders of the blind are so blind they cannot see that they just called their assumption “information.”  They said, “how can this information be fitted with current theories on the origin of eukaryotes?”  That’s not information – that’s incantation.  It’s conjuring up images in their own heads.  It’s also reasoning in a circle.  They just said, in short, “Assuming evolution, how would that assumption fit with current theories of assumed evolution?”  It’s the can opener joke: “Assume a can opener.  How would that assumption fit with theories of how having a can opener would help open the tuna can?”  Show us the can opener!  Then we’ll all open the can and have lunch, instead of dreaming up “scenarios” where can openers “originate” in some uncanny common ancestor.
        Assuming on, from amusing leap to leap, they employed the second cardinal sin of the MAD method: imagination.  “It’s not hard to imagine...” they said a couple of times.  It’s not hard when they get a lot of practice every day.  What’s hard is following rigorous science that is observable, testable, and repeatable.
        Despite their posturing, they just disarmed their idol, Charlie, and squeezed him against the wall.  They robbed him of the most popular explanation for the origin of eukaryotes (endosymbiosis), and put all the complexity back into a mythical “last universal common ancestor” (LUCA).  So now, they have to assume LUCA with LUCK will produce LUCY, given time and chance.  No evidence required.  Folks, this is not science.  Assuming one’s own imagination without evidence is the seedplot of mythology.  Got science?  The data show supercomputing in a pinhead processor, complex regulation in software, and fast, accurate image processing.  That’s not MAD, that’s MADE – Multiple Affirmations of Design Excellence.  Yes, gentlemen, it is “impossible to ignore these data when discussing the origin” of things that are MADE (Romans 1:20).
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
      The perfect robotic arm would imitate an elephant’s trunk.  See the 07/09/2007 entry.

    More to a Fly than Meets the Eye     07/12/2010    
    July 12, 2010 — Flies and spiders, members of the arthropod phylum, may seem small and “less evolved” than the larger members of the animal kingdom.  One shouldn’t let size alone be the measure of ability.

    1. Fly supercomputer:  Did you ever think of the brain of a fly as a high-speed computer?  That’s what PhysOrg called it: “the minute brains of these aeronautic acrobats process visual movements in only fractions of a second.”  If soccer players had eyes like that, they would be able to process their moves as if watching the ball in slow motion, the article said.  Picture the tiny size of a fly brain and then think about this factoid: “one sixth of a cubic millimetre of brain matter contains more than 100,000 nerve cellseach of which has multiple connections to its neighbouring cells.”  One subtitle in the article announced, “The brain of the fly beats any computer.”  Take that, Android.  Elaborating, the article continued, “albeit the number of nerve cells in the fly is comparatively small, they are highly specialized and process the image flow with great precision while the fly is in flight.  Flies can therefore process a vast amount of information about proper motion and movement in their environment in real time – a feat that no computer, and certainly none the size of a fly’s brain, can hope to match.”
          It has taken 50 years to be able to “examine the cellular construction of the motion detector in the brain of the fly.”  The team at Max Planck Institute spoke of the fly brain in computer terms: “the neurobiologists discovered that the L2-cell transforms these data and in particular, that it relays information only about the reduction in light intensity to the following nerve cells.  The latter then calculate the direction of motion and pass this information on to the flight control system.”  Readers should note that the researchers were experimenting on fruit flies – among the tiniest of flying insects.  It would seem there’s a lot more miniaturization possible in hand-held devices if humans could ever approach the miniaturized processing power in a fly brain.  The article concluded, “scientists intend to examine – cell by cell – the motion detection circuitry in the fly brain to explain how it computes motion information at the cellular level.  Their colleagues from the joint Robotics project are eagerly awaiting the results.
    2. Firefly sync blink:  A report in Live Science discussed fireflies that synchronize their flashes and concluded it has a sexual attraction function.  While that may be so, it overlooks the processing requirements to synchronize biological light organs over space.  It may be that “By flashing the same pattern simultaneously, male fireflies are sending out a clear, unified declaration of their species to the females,” but how can they do this?  The article only briefly mentioned the “female firefly’s nervous system processes visual signals” and the benefit that synchronized “flash flirting” might provide the female out of an otherwise chaotic field of blinking lights.
          An article in KnoxNews.com (Knoxville News Sentinel) reported on the work by scientists at Georgia Southern University and University of Connecticut on Smoky Mountains fireflies Photinus carolinus.  These can do synchronized flashing “in near-perfect unison, like strings of Christmas lights in the night air.”  This kind of “spectacular show” is rarely seen outside of southeast Asia.  It had been anecdotally observed among American fireflies; now the team found and studied it.
          A mathematician quoted by KnoxNews said that synchrony can arise from a few simple mathematic rules.  Certainly, however, fast data processing is required for thousands of male fireflies to switch their lights on within a tenth of a second of each other – and that’s not even accounting for the wonder of organs that can produce nearly 100% efficient cold light on demand under sophisticated brain control.  Knox News admitted that this is “an incompletely understood mystery”.  Researcher Andrew Moiseff said, “It’s one of those things that just makes you go ’wow.’
          As for how this wonder arose, Moiseff told Live Science “They evolved to flash in synchronizing patterns as a solution to specific behavioral, environmental or physiological conditions.”  His original paper in Science,1 however, only mentioned the “evolution of synchrony” in passing, with no elaboration on how that occurred.
    3. Spider eyes:  If a jumping spider were our size, it would be among the scariest of creatures.  With its three sets of eyes pointing front, side and rear, it looks like something out of a science-fiction thriller.  Those eyes are far more capable than previously thought, reported PhysOrg.
          The smaller front-pointing eyes were thought to be just secondary visual inputs.  Scientists at Macquarie University in Australia found a way to blindfold the spiders (if one can imagine such a delicate experiment) leaving the secondary eyes to do the seeing.  Then they tethered them and produced dots on a screen for them to follow, as well as flies to stalk.  They found that the spiders were just as good at hunting with their secondary pair of eyes as with all six.  Replicating the experiment on 52 individual spiders, they considered it “unexpected” that a “perfect predator,” could perform so well with the handicap.  Even without their primary eyes, they could see things other animals had difficulty seeing.  “We believe this pair of eyes could have been underestimated by scientists in the past, and may be the most versatile element of their visual system, providing both spatial acuity and motion detection,” they said.
          What this implies is that the data processing of the visual inputs is correspondingly intricate.  Daniel Zurek said, “It’s astonishing that these animals, which have a body length of just 12 millimetres and a brain a fraction of the size of a honeybee’s, have developed such a sophisticated visual system covering almost 360 degrees with such high resolution.”  The multiple eyes help “divvy up different visual tasks,” he said: “it is likely that this modular approach helps the spider to handle the computational demands of vision.”  Humans, with just two forward-looking eyeballs, seem visually deprived by comparison.  But they will be glad to learn that the favorite prey of the jumping spider is the housefly.

    1.  Moiseff and Copeland, “Firefly Synchrony: A Behavioral Strategy to Minimize Visual Clutter,” Science, 9 July 2010: Vol. 329. no. 5988, p. 181, DOI: 10.1126/science.1190421.
    The pattern in these amazing stories is always the same: (1) the sophistication is greater than anyone ever thought, and (2) evolution, if mentioned at all, is a pathetic afterthought tacked onto the story.  It provides no explanatory power but is merely assumed.  The evolution-talk is like a political poster pasted onto a building.  It provides no foundation, support or function related to the building; it only distracts attention (i.e., “Long live King Charlie!”) from the intelligently designed architecture behind it. 
    Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
    Darwin Caught Out of Bounds     07/11/2010    
    July 11, 2010 — What business does Darwin have in quantum mechanics or engineering?  Wasn’t his a theory on the origin of species – that is, plants, animals and living things?  Some scientists seem intent on extrapolating his views to all of reality, including areas commonly thought to be in the domain of intelligent design. 
    1. Let’s get physical:  An article on Science Daily claims that Darwinism is a “Bridge to the Quantum World,” in that the “Darwinian Concept of Natural Selection Figures Into Theory About Core of Physical Reality.”  The point of a group of physicists at Arizona State is that Darwinian thinking provides a conceptual bridge between the quantum mechanical world, where everything is unpredictable and counter-intuitive, and the classical physics world that we experience with the senses.  How is that?
      The decoherence concept holds that many quantum states “collapse” into a “broad diaspora,” or dispersion, while interacting with the environment.  Through a selection process, other quantum states arrive at a final stable state, called a pointer state, which is “fit enough” (think “survival of the fittest” in Darwinian terms) to be transmitted through the environment without collapsing.
          These single states with the lowest energy can then make high-energy copies of themselves that can be described by the Darwinian process and observed on the macroscopic scale in the classical world.
      But does this metaphorical use of fitness and selection confuse or illuminate?  In biological Darwinism, fitness must be conveyed to offspring through genetic information.  Whatever “selecting” goes on in a quantum-level event is likely to be different with each process.  There arguably are more differences than similarities between biology and “quantum Darwinism,” whatever the term means.
          Nevertheless, David Ferry of ASU feels that the metaphor offers a “new view in the search for evidence of how the quantum-to-classical world transition actually occurs.”  The article appears to anticipate some incredulity.  “If you can wrap your mind around all this, he [Ferry] says, ‘You open the door to a deeper understanding of what is really going on’ at the core of physical reality.”  That promise has a very Gnostic flavor to it.
    2. Let’s get medical:  The word algorithm makes an awkward pair with Darwinism, the latter referring to an unguided, directionless process – the opposite of a planned sequence of problem-solving steps with a goal.  Yet New Scientist claimed that you may avoid surgery one day thanks to a “Darwinian algorithm.”  The article says, “Software that mimics Darwinian natural selection could help boost the energy efficiency of brain implants and reduce the need for surgery to replace their batteries.”  (Relax: they said brain implants, not brain transplants.)
          How can an algorithm be Darwinian?  Doctors at Duke University wanted to find waveforms in brain implants with the most efficient power consumption, to avoid costly and dangerous surgeries to replace batteries.  Darwin came to their rescue:
      Working like natural selection, the GA [genetic algorithm] takes a population of random waveforms, mutates the “fittest” of them – in this case, those with lowest energy use – and then “interbreeds” the mutated forms to make new “offspring” waveforms.  The process is then repeated through several “generations” until the optimal waveform is found.
      One thing immediately apparent is that this is artificial selection, like cattle breeding or rose breeding.  Artificial selection is a form of intelligent design, because whether or not randomness plays a role in the creation of a population of objects, intelligent agents choose among the population the traits they want for their own purposes and designs.  Natural selection does no such thing.  According to Darwinian principles, nature has no mind or direction or purpose – only the immediate need for survival in the competition for resources.  So the statement “working like natural selection” is blatantly misapplied here.  And like the quantum mechanics case (bullet 1 above), the talk of populations, mutations, fitness, interbreeding and offspring is metaphorical at best, misleading at worst.  Waveforms are not living organisms.  They have no genetic code or innate capacity for reproduction.  Darwin discussed artificial selection, but not waveforms or wave functions.
    If these scientists are merely employing Darwinian terms rhetorically as figures of speech, perhaps their infractions are excusable.  But applications of Darwinian thought to areas far beyond its original domain raise questions about whether the terminology, especially when employed in searches for “the core of physical reality,” is being driven by science, ideology, or cultural mythology.
    One of the main ways Darwinism survives in spite of its poor fitness as a scientific theory is due to its rhetorical plasticity.  Its advocates routinely confuse terms and misapply concepts, allowing it to escape philosophical predators amidst a thicket of smokescreens.  The territory behind Darwinian rhetoric is too often mined with equivocation.  CEH is your minesweeper.
    Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionPhysicsHealthIntelligent Design
    Are Saturn’s Rings Evolving?     07/10/2010    
    July 10, 2010 — The Cassini spacecraft continues to astound scientists and the public with its pictures from the Saturn system.  New discoveries have been made about the rings and small moons embedded within them.  At times, it appears that destructive processes are at work.  Some scientists, though, see them evolving.  Can ring particles grow into moons?  And is that how planets grew from rings around stars?
        Readers might first enjoy this closest-ever look at Daphnis, a small moon that orbits in the Keeler Gap in the rings, published Tuesday.  Hints of a crater can be seen on this little 5-mile object, and the scallops and gouges it creates as it passes the ring edges are obvious (see second photo and Space.com article).
        Other moonlets have been found embedded within the rings.  Though too small to see, they can be detected indirectly by propeller-shaped wakes they leave.  Perturbations closer to Saturn move faster; those outside move slower.  The two oppositely-directed wakes create the propeller shape.  Some of these had been detected in 2006.  There may be millions of these large ring particles that are big enough to create the propeller structures, but too small to clear a gap in the rings.  Now, about a dozen of the largest ones, one estimated half a mile in diameter, have been tracked for as long as four years.  The Cassini team issued a press release about them.  It was picked up by Space.com and Science Daily.  Some of them launch material a half mile out of the ring plane; others have been seen to change orbits over time, perhaps by being bumped around in the rings, or because of the influence of passing large moons.  In a way, these observations fulfill expectations from Voyager days in the 1980s that rings might contain embedded moons that act either as sources or sinks for ring particles (e.g., NASA 1981, Harvard 1980).
        Because these observations represent the first time that embedded objects in a dust disk have been tracked, scientists are getting excited about the possibility of learning whether they can grow or “accrete” into larger objects like moons – and whether the same principles might apply to the growth of planets from dust disks around stars.  Indeed, last month Space.com and PhysOrg joined in JPL's suggestion that some of the small moons outside were born from ring particles.  Their low density and saucer shapes, combined with young ages (estimated less than 10 million years based on freshness of the surface) led scientists to propose that moons are still forming today.  But are moons grinding down, or winding up?  The Cassini press release cautiously made an argument for the latter.  Though the press release headline stated that the propeller objects “reflect solar system origins,” it only suggested that the processes observed at Saturn “gives scientists an opportunity to time-travel back into the history of our solar system to reveal clues about disks around other stars in our universe that are too far away to observe directly.”  Imaging team lead Carolyn Porco was more confident.  She claimed that “Observing the motions of these disk-embedded objects provides a rare opportunity to gauge how the planets grew from, and interacted with, the disk of material surrounding the early sun.
        Not all is well in theories of planet formation, though.  Astrobiology Magazine complained this week that many of the exoplanets discovered around other stars do not fit theories of the origin of the solar system.  “Over the past two hundred years, a standard model emerged to explain how solar systems form,” it began (that model began with the “Nebular Hypothesis” by Laplace in 1796).  “Using our own solar system as a guide, the model explains the existence of a central star (our Sun), an inner system of rocky, ‘terrestrial’ planets, and an outer system of ‘gas giant’ planets, all orbiting in nearly the same plane of rotation as the central star.”  It worked out well when there was only one system to study (ours).  Unfortunately for modelers, “Recent discoveries of planetary systems around other stars have challenged this model.  These exoplanet discoveries have included gas giant planets in close orbit around their stars, some of which are in radically different planes of rotation from their primary stars.”
        Modelers have come up with “Various schemes suggested to explain how a gas giant could form beyond the ice line and then move inward toward the star,” the article continued.  But is giving this necessity a name like “migration” sufficient to qualify as an explanation?  Perhaps transfer of angular momentum from the disk would make a gas giant start spiraling in, but how could it get kicked into a high-inclination orbit?  The ad hoc addition of a passing star might kick a giant planet out of the plane, or even make it revolve backward.  “There are a lot of things going on that we didn’t anticipate,” one modeler remarked.
        A downside of all this chaotic interaction and migration is that it makes life less probable around other stars.  Systems with gas giants moving wildly would easily kick habitable planets out to oblivion.  Aside from that concern, another researcher was dubious about whether adding passing stars and migrations improves our understanding of planet formation.  “I have a hard time believing that improbable events like this could lead to a large percentage of planets in retrograde orbits,” he said.  It seems a little premature, therefore, to think that small-scale processes in Saturn’s rings will shed light on where our “relatively peaceful” solar system came from.
    He would probably be even more incredulous after reading Jonathan Henry’s article in the latest Journal of Creation from CMI (24:2, August 2010, pp. 87-94).  Dr. Henry shows from Laplace to the present that “Solar system formation by accretion has no observational evidence.”  Accretion has never been shown to work in any realistic lab experiment.  Particles do not accrete into planets: they bounce off one another or break into smaller pieces.  Furthermore, there is no evidence of nebula collapse, of stars forming, or of planetary systems forming.  There is much evidence for disruption, destruction, and dissolution, but not the accretion of small objects into bigger ones.
        Henry reminds modern readers that 19th-century modelers found a coincidental spacing of the planets that fit a mathematical formula, and called it “Bode’s Law.”  In the absence of supporting evidence, some thought that this spacing constituted a “law of nature” that other extrasolar systems would have to obey.  Well, they didn’t.  Hot Jupiters and renegade orbits abound, and as Astrobiology Magazine admitted, our solar system “may be something of an exception.”  Over and over, Henry shows that the easy, observation-deprived speculations of Laplace and others have fallen under the merciless onslaughts of observations.  As early as 1859, James Clerk Maxwell showed, based on his model of Saturn’s rings, that larger particles cannot coagulate from revolving small particles – a blow to the Nebular Hypothesis as well.
        Modelers keep trying to escape the empirical evidence by inventing ad-hoc elements to their models – migration, disk instability, and other heuristic suggestions to try to maintain their bottom-up, evolutionary world view.  But alas, “Accretion theory and the nebular hypothesis... require conditions that natural law has not been shown to be capable of providing, such as artificially low collision velocities between accreting particles,” Henry ended.  “Outside of scientific discussion, such physically impossible conditions are called miracles, implying that the origin of the heavenly bodies was a supernatural event, the claim the Bible makes.”
        So if you must believe in miracles anyway, why not choose the ones that were designed for a purpose?  You might find that thought – purpose, design – propelling you to new heights of joy and appreciation for being able to read this article in the calm, pleasant air of a Privileged Planet – one that not only meets our physical needs, but provides us a platform from which to make scientific discoveries about Saturn, stars, and the whole universe.
    Next headline on:  Solar SystemStars and AstronomyPhysicsIntelligent Design
      Why your knuckles pop, and why you should be glad they do, from 07/10/2006.

    Proteins Fold Who Knows How     07/09/2010    
    July 09, 2010 — One of the biggest mysteries remaining in cell biology is how proteins fold.  Proteins start out as chains of amino acids (polypeptides) as they exit the ribosome.  Most of them spontaneously fold into their “native” three-dimensional structures, where they will go to work as enzymes, structural materials or other key players in cell life.  About 10% of them are so complex, they need a little help.  The GroEL+GroES enzymes act like a barrel-shaped dressing room to help these proteins escape the bustle of the cytoplasm so that they can fold in private.  New work published in Cell shows that this “chaperone” device speeds up the proper folding of the polypeptide when it otherwise might get stuck on a “kinetic trap.”1  A German team likened the assistance to narrowing the entropic funnel.  “The capacity to rescue proteins from such folding traps may explain the uniquely essential role of chaperonin cages within the cellular chaperone network,” they said.  GroEL+GroES therefore “rescues” protein that otherwise might misfold and cause damage to the cell.
        The GroEL barrel and its GroES cap spend 7 ATP energy molecules opening and closing.  The process can work in reverse, taking a misfolded protein and unfolding it as well.  It might take several rounds for a complex protein to reach its native fold.  These chaperonins operate in bacteria as well as higher organisms – and they are not the only chaperones.  “Bacterial cells generally contain multiple, partly redundant chaperone systems that function in preventing the aggregation of newly synthesized and stress-denatured proteins,” the authors said.  “In contrast to all other components of this chaperone network, the chaperonin, GroEL, and its cofactor, GroES, are uniquely essential, forming a specialized nano-compartment for single protein molecules to fold in isolation.”  This fact has been known since the 1990s.  Chakraborty et al focused on the ability of GroEL+GroES to rescue proteins from kinetic traps.  Like a stack of six-sided rings, GroEL forms a barrel-shaped container.  “Each subunit of GroEL is composed of an equatorial ATPase domain, an apical domain, and an intermediate hinge domain,” they explained.  “The apical domains form the flexible ring opening and expose hydrophobic amino acid residues toward the central cavity for the binding of non-native substrate proteins.”  GroES forms a cap or lid over this barrel, allowing the polypeptide inside to fold in isolation.  The dressing room is large enough to fold proteins 60,000 atomic mass units in size.
        What is becoming clear is that the barrel is not just a passive container.  It actually accelerates folding: “an active mechanism in promoting folding appears to operate in addition, based on the demonstration that GroEL/ES can substantially enhance the rate of folding for proteins,” increasing the folding rate by as much as 10-fold.  Whether iterative cycles of folding and unfolding in the barrel cause the acceleration, or the isolation alone prevents kinetic traps, was not known.  The team concluded that “protein confinement in the chaperonin cage has the capacity to reduce entropic folding barriers, thereby promoting the formation of native contacts.”  If so, the entropic funnel picture is apt; a narrowing funnel prevents the protein from misfolding and guides it along the way to its correct shape.
        The team also helped confirm that a net negative charge on the interior of the barrel contributes to the accelerated folding.  “These findings are consistent with recent theoretical considerations that the charged surface may induce ordered water structure, with the resulting increase in the density of water facilitating folding by enhancing the hydrophobic effect and thus promoting global protein compaction,” they said.  This interior charge contribution only works when the protein is inside the barrel.  Outside the barrel, they found that artificially induced disulfide bridges could coax their test polypeptide into the native fold.  “In view of the fact that cells contain multiple, partially redundant chaperone systems for aggregation prevention, the ability to actively promote the folding of such intermediates would explain the uniquely essential role of the chaperonin cages,” they said in conclusion.  On the other hand, the conspicuous absence of chaperonins from oxidizing cellular compartments correlates with the role of disulfide bond formation in providing an alternative mechanism to lower entropic folding barriers.”  See also the 12/28/2007 entry, last two paragraphs.     Meanwhile, scientists at Rice University have been trying to model protein folding on computers.  PhysOrg quoted them saying that “Protein folding is regarded as one of the biggest unsolved problems in biophysics.”  How proteins find their native fold through a maze of wrong folds is still not understood.  “Like a river finding the shortest route to the sea, proteins always find their way to their native states in an instant,” the article said.  “How that happens is one of life’s great mysteries.”  Somehow they do it – and quickly.  Many proteins spontaneously collapse into their proper shape in milliseconds or microseconds.  “Though the proteins assemble themselves in nature almost instantly, the Rice team’s algorithm took weeks to run the simulation.” the article said.  “Still, that was far faster than others have achieved.”  Using another analogy to show what the protein (and simulators) are up against, one researcher said that “A polypeptide chain en route to its native state encounters many energy barriers, much like when one navigates through a rugged mountain landscape.”  If you have supercomputers handy and weeks of free time, you might be able to run the Rice team’s new and improved simulation.  The spontaneous folding of proteins vastly exceeds the complexity of human attempts at spontaneous origami (see New Scientist for primitive example).
        Once folded, proteins are workhorses in the cell, performing all kinds of intricate tasks.  A recent article on PhysOrg, for instance, reported that scientists at the University of Dundee discovered an enzyme that acts like a “molecular scissors,” cutting off parts of DNA during damage repair operations.  Some proteins incorporate metals into their structure.  This adds to the difficulty of getting them into their native conformation, because they have to delicately position these highly reactive metal ions at precisely the right locations inside the fold.  An article on PhysOrg did not address the folding problem per se, but marveled at these “hives of industry” in the cell, stating that “Nearly half of all enzymes require metals to function in catalysing biological reactions” such as photosynthesis, metabolism, and respiration.  Kylie Vincent, of Oxford University’s Department of Chemistry, continued: “Both the metal and the surrounding protein are crucial in tuning the reactivity of metal catalytic centres in enzymes.”  Oxford is keen on watching how metallic enzymes work in order to imitate them.  “There is much that we can learn,” Kylie said, “from the way that micro-organisms use readily available metals to carry out these reactions while chemists often require rare and expensive metals for the same chemistry.”  Clean, green fuel cells and other inventions may come from a better understanding of these amazing strings of amino acids that fold ever-so-precisely into the most efficient molecular machines ever witnessed.


    1.  Chakraborty et al, “Chaperonin-Catalyzed Rescue of Kinetically Trapped States in Protein Folding,” Cell Volume 142, Issue 1, 112-122, 9 July 2010, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.05.027.
    None of these articles said anything about evolution.  Why would natural selection produce a multi-part precision folding machine like GroEL+GroES, able to fold multiple different polypeptides, when other chaperone mechanisms exist? (cf. 12/30/2002).  This is not clumsy tinkering; it is elegant extravagance showing the power of goal-directed design, utilizing an irreducibly complex machine (see 11/30/2006, bullet 7).  One can envision Charlie worrying about this and spontaneously folding into a fetal position in his isolation chamber (tomb), never to come out again.
        It’s overkill by this point, but to rub it in, you might read Robert Deyes’ review Uncommon Descent of Doug Axe’s new paper, “The Case Against A Darwinian Origin Of Protein Folds,” available for open access in the new journal, Bio-complexity.  Deyes titled his review, “Proteins Fold as Darwin Crumbles.”
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyBiomimeticsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
    Fantasy Island:  Evolutionary Weirdness Does Not Favor Islands     07/08/2010    
    July 08, 2010 — We need “Reality Island,” an evolutionary biologist claims.  Dr. Shai Meiri of Tel Aviv University accuses fellow evolutionists of engaging in “magical thinking” about island habitats: believing that islands are where large animals grow small, small animals grow large, and weird species proliferate.  It’s an illusion, he said in an article on Science Daily.
        Statistics Dr. Meiri and his colleagues gathered show that large, small and weird animals and plants show up everywhere.  “We concluded that the evolution of body sizes is as random with respect to ‘isolation’ as on the rest of the planet,”  he said.  “This means that you can expect to find the same sort of patterns on islands and on the mainland.”
        Why, then, do theories about island dwarfism and exoticism persist?  People tend to see “dragons and dwarfs,” he explained, because they “tend to notice the extremes more if they are found on islands.”  Such stories tend to get better press, too.  We hear about Komodo dragons and Indonesian hobbits, but we overlook the fact that 2,999 islands in the South Pacific have normal-sized humans.  It’s time to get rid of “magical thinking” about islands, he said.  “Fantasies about island habitats and the animals that live there are best left for movies, TV shows, and fantasy novels, he adds.”  See also 11/15/2007, bullet 1. Update 07/25/2010: The biggest rat fossil ever found has been found on the Indonesian island of Flores, according to Live Science.  This is the same island that supposedly made humans evolve smaller into the so-called “hobbits”.  If a theory predicts that some mammals will grow larger while others grow smaller, it may need refinement – or abandonment.
    No less than Nature and other leading journals have bought into the “island dwarfism” fantasy.  But if lemurs, iguanas, dinosaurs, humans and blind snakes can cross oceans (01/22/2010, 05/27/2010, 04/03/2010), why should any living thing be imprisoned on Fantasy Island?  Another evolutionary assumption has been tested and found wanting.  Keep up the good work.
    Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolution
    Is Psychology Adding Scientific Knowledge?     07/08/2010    
    July 08, 2010 — Psychologists have a knack for proving the obvious.  It leads to a question, though: do we really need their help?
    1. Broken relationships are bad:  A press release on PhysOrg about a study at the University of Queensland reported that “Separation has an enormous impact on both men and women.”
    2. Rudeness at work is bad:  According to Science Daily researchers at University of Aberdeen have demonstrated that rudeness at work leads to mistakes on the job.  Then came the sermon: “People concerned with patient safety should note that civility between workers may have more benefits than just a harmonious atmosphere.”
    3. TV and video game addiction is bad:  We have three Iowa State researchers to thank for informing us that too much TV and gaming leads to attention problems in children.  Science Daily said, “Parents looking to get their kid’s attention -- or keeping them focused at home and in the classroom -- should try to limit their television viewing and video game play.”
    4. Bullies have poor social skills:  Better keep an eye on those kids with poor social skills.  They might become bullies – or victims.  It would seem they would have to be one or the other, but this piece of wisdom was furnished by the American Psychological Association and published by Science Daily.
    5. Healthy mind makes a healthy body:  Researchers at the University of South Florida have proved that “A Healthy Mind Makes a Healthy Body in Teens,” reported Science Daily.  They found this out scientifically by asking 401 teens about their subjective feelings of well-being and physical health.  “Overall, perceived good physical health was strongly linked to life satisfaction and feeling excited, strong and proud,” the psychologists announced as “findings.”
    6. Out-of-wedlock birth leads to crime:  Believe it or not, science has found a link between children born outside families and crime.  Sure enough, Clemson scientists, reported PhysOrg, took the obvious to new levels: “While a number of previous studies have found that unmarried fertility is associated with unfavorable childhood outcomes, our analysis is one of the first to measure the long-run effect on crime when these children reach adulthood.”
    7. Need to psych out jailbirdsPhysOrg wrote about “Revised standards for psychology services in jails, prisons, correctional facilities and agencies.”  Nothing was stated in the document about the thriving counseling services of Prison Fellowship and the many other churches and religious organizations that routinely minister to inmates, often with phenomenal success.
    A related story on PhysOrg asked the question, “Do scientists understand the public?”  One assumption that came out in findings by the American Academy of Arts and Scientists is that “Scientists and technical experts sometimes take for granted that their work will be viewed as ultimately serving the public good.”  In fact, scientists and lay people have “very different perceptions of risk, and very different ways of bestowing their trust and judging the credibility of information sources.”
    You should be grateful to psychologists.  You probably would never have thought to limit your children’s TV exposure before now.  You probably had no idea that separating from your spouse might have bad consequences.  And it’s so reassuring to know that your Mom and Dad’s commands to be nice and not rude has support from the scientific method.  Thanks to science, you will now support policies that encourage healthy families, because you just learned that kids born out of wedlock tend to be poor and attracted to crime, and kids with poor social problem-solving skills might become bullies or victims.  Isn’t it comforting to know that you no longer have to learn these things from church or parents.  Isn’t it relaxing that you no longer have to use common sense; you can just rely on press releases from the Universities.  After all, that’s where the Experts are.  They Know these things by using the Scientific Method.  You can trust them.  If you can’t trust them, whom can you trust?  Keep those grant funds flowing.
    Trust experts’ say, for there’s no other way
    To be happy in clichés, but to trust them and pay.

    You may have noticed we’ve added a new category in the Chain Links: “Mind.”  This will be for entries related to mind and brain, psychology, human intelligence, behavior, the mind-body problem, cognition, emotion, perception, thought, and human mental uniqueness.
    Next headline on:  Mind and BrainPolitics and EthicsBible and Theology

      Does the brain produce the mind?  Read two contrasting views that appeared in science journals in July 2005 in the 07/15/2005 entry.

    Productive Science Imitates Nature     07/07/2010    
    July 07, 2010 — Examples continue to accumulate that some of the most interesting and fruitful science projects involve copying design principles found in nature.  This “biomimetics” approach not only pleases the consumers who can look forward to greener, cheaper, better products, but leads to deeper understandings of nature’s workings.

    1. Gecko adhesivesPhysOrg published a story on the ongoing efforts to imitate the superb adhesive properties of gecko toes.  “The gecko footpad’s unique structure and function make it one of the most efficient adhesion systems found in nature,” said a scientist from Northeastern University.
    2. Genetic computers:  Scientists at the University of Reading got “genetic inspiration” for the storage and processing of digital information, according to another press release on PhysOrg.  By imitating genetics, the researchers think they can “revolutionize” information technology.
    3. Windpipe microbots:  Your windpipe is lined with cilia that keep the lining clean.  A new microbot designed at Stanford and University of Washington has artificial cilia – but that’s only one biomimetic part of the design, according to Science Daily.  By imitating a centipede, the UW microbot can carry seven times its own weight and move in any direction.  The team struggled to get the actuators and power supply small enough to compete with the living thing.
    A related approach to biomimetics is to harness the actual biological material.  Science Daily announced that “Biologically Inspired Technology Produces Sugar from Photosynthetic Bacteria.”  Harvard has a “Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.”  The institute succeeded in producing simple sugars and lactic acid by engineering bacteria to produce what they desired.
    These stories are each worth reading in more detail.  For a little fun, see if you can find any mention of evolution in them, or any indication that evolutionary theory was useful in any way in these science projects.  Then look for how design concepts played a role in guiding the teams toward understanding and productivity.  If you have kids needing to do a science project, why not turn them on to biomimetics?  Send them into the backyard or woods and have them try to copy a natural technology and make something useful from it.  The effort might just give them a head start toward a productive career – in addition to helping them learn not to take biological design for granted.
    Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyGeneticsHuman BodyBiomimeticsEducationIntelligent Design
    Your Inner Locomotive Revealed     07/06/2010    
    July 06, 2010 — Visualize an old locomotive train roaring down the tracks.  One of the characteristic images that surely comes to mind is the oscillating motion of the coupling rods on the wheels.  The long rods that connected the wheels provided a way to convert heat energy from the steam into mechanical energy (example video on YouTube).  It now appears, thanks to a team of German scientists, that your body has trillions of mechanical devices something like those coupling rods.  They serve to transmit the energy in the food you eat into mechanical energy, driving a proton pump inside your inner power plant.  It’s all part of an amazing series of electromechanical machines in the powerhouses of the cell, the mitochondria.
        A team at the Freiburg Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology produced the best-yet look at one of the largest enzymes in the body, NADH dehydrogenase, also called Mitochondrial Complex I.  It is an essential part of the respiration process (also called oxidative phosphorylation) that passes electrons, protons and oxygen through a sophisticated energy transport chain so that energy can be stored in ATP molecules – the universal energy currency of all living things.  Weighing in at nearly a million daltons (atomic mass units), Complex I, composed of four major parts and shaped somewhat like a hockey stick, produces 40% of the proton motive force used by ATP synthase to produce ATP.  Its job is to derive protons from NADH and hand them off to additional cofactors and enzymes in the transport chain that will pump the protons outside the mitochondrial membrane.  The electrical potential thus created across the membrane drives the ATP synthase rotary engine at the end of the chain (see 12/22/2003, 04/30/2005 and top of April 2002 page for informative links).
        In discussing the paper published in Science Express,1 Science Daily contained some amazing facts about the machinery of respiration and how it delicately handles explosive ingredients: 
    In a laboratory experiment, hydrogen and oxygen gas would react in an explosion and the energy contained would be released as heat.  In biological oxidation, the energy will be released by the membrane bound protein complexes of the respiratory chain in a controlled manner in small packages.  Comparable to a fuel cell, this process generates an electrical membrane potential, which is the driving force of ATP synthesis.  The total surface of all mitochondrial membranes in a human body covers about 14.000 square meter.  This accounts for a daily production of about 65 kg of ATP.
    That 65 kg, by the way, is near a typical human body weight.  That’s how much ATP your body synthesizes each day – even during sleep.  At any one time, though, your body only contains the ATP equivalent of a AA battery (05/31/2010).  The electrical potential generated across that 14 square meters of mitochondrial membrane drives the ATP synthesis that keeps you – and every living thing from bacteria to giraffes – alive.
        The paper in Science Express by Hunte, Zickerman and Brandt adds to years of work by numerous teams trying to understand the workings of Complex I.  What’s new and exciting about this paper is its suggestion that a coupling rod is part of the energy transport chain.  Higher up in the enzyme, a series of iron-sulfur clusters works something like an electrical wire, transferring electrons from the first domain into the second domain.  The transport is constructed to prevent the formation of dangerous reactive oxygen species (ROS).  Between the second and third domains, it appears that the electrical energy is converted into mechanical energy via a coupling rod composed of a 6-nanometer alpha coil that is “critical for transducing conformational energy to proton-pumping elements in the distal module of the membrane arm.”  In other words, it has moving parts.  Watch how Science Daily compared its action to a locomotive:
    The now presented structural model provides important and unexpected insights for the function of complex I.  A special type of “transmission element,” which is not known from any other protein, appears to be responsible for the energy transduction within the complex by mechanical nanoscale coupling.  Transferred to the technical world, this could be described as a power transmission by a coupling rod, which connects for instance the wheels of a steam train.  This new nano-mechanical principle will now be analysed by additional functional studies and a refined structural analysis.
    The authors of the paper did not mention evolution.  The only oblique reference is that the working parts are “highly conserved” (unevolved) throughout the entire realm of life:
    Fourteen central subunits are highly conserved among eukaryotes and prokaryotes.  They form the structural core of the two arms of the complex and are essential for its bioenergetic functions.  26 accessory subunits that are not found in prokaryotes are arranged around this core and presumably function in assembly, stabilization, regulation and additional metabolic pathways not directly linked to energy conservation.
    Four other times the paper mentioned that key elements of the enzyme are conserved or highly conserved.  There was no attempt to explain how this “nano-mechanical principle” emerged or evolved.  They did mention, though, that mutations and dysfunctions in Complex I that allow the formation of ROS are implicated in debilitating conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease – and perhaps in the aging process itself.
    1.  Hunte, Zickerman and Brandt, “Functional Modules and Structural Basis of Conformational Coupling in Mitochondrial Complex I,” Science Express, published Online July 1, 2010, Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1191046.
    Isn’t this wonderful information?  Now we see that the respiratory transport chain in mitochondria includes coupling rods that act like little locomotives.  Those rods must be moving incredibly fast.  They are pumping protons like gangbusters, 24x7, all the years of your life.  This mechanical wonder is only one amazing device in the first stage of a respiratory chain that includes some 40 enzymes.  The machinery dazzles and boggles the mind as it continues on its way to the climax of ATP synthase, one of the most elegant and perfect molecular machines ever discovered (05/25/2009).
        Over and over again, we find researchers ignoring Darwinism as they uncover the workings of molecular machines in the cell.  Darwin himself could never have imagined that life at its foundations would be this complex, this mechanical.  It has all the appearance of Paley’s pocket watch – only more elegant, more efficient, and more beautiful at an unimaginably small scale.  And this is just one of thousands of such machines.  Remember the other locomotives, the machines that transport cargo down your molecular railroad? (See 02/25/2005 and 02/13/2003). 
        Darwinism is dying the death of a thousand “nano-mechanical principles.”  The Darwinians who wished to abolish design thinking from biology and conjure up life by undirected chance and time should silently slink away.  Grand mythic scenarios of impersonal emergence are so 19th century.  Biology now needs engineers who appreciate intelligent design.  (Notice how scientists in a recent paper in PNAS employed “engineering models to understand the control principles” of a biological phenomenon.)  Fire the storytellers!  Train engineers! (Catch the pun?)  When science discovers powered locomotives at work in the simplest organisms, it no longer needs storytellers with loco motives.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent DesignPhysicsAmazing Facts
    Do New Fossils Soften the Cambrian Explosion?     07/05/2010    
    July 05, 2010 — Look at the picture of fossils in an article on PhysOrg.  The discoverers claim these fossils from Gabon are 2.1 billion years old, and provide evidence that multicellular organisms began evolving long before the Cambrian explosion.  “Until now, it has been assumed that organized multicellular life appeared around 0.6 billion years ago and that before then the Earth was mainly populated by microbes (viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc.),” the article said.  “This new discovery moves the cursor of the origin of multicellular life back by 1.5 billion years and reveals that cells had begun to cooperate with each other to form more complex and larger structures than single-celled organisms.
        The original paper in Nature shows detailed photos of the structures.1  The largest are 12 centimeters long, but most are smaller.  Many have a radial growth pattern, and the centers of some show a fold, indicating the organisms were composed of flexible sheets of cells.  The fossils, however, show no cellular differentiation, gut, limbs, or other complex structures characteristic of the Cambrian phyla.  The best that El Albini et al could claim is that the structures suggest colonies of organisms that were more organized than mere microbial mats.  To have grown into such shapes, “They require cell-to-cell signalling and coordinated responses, akin to that required for multicellular organization.”  Most of the paper was concerned with how they dated the fossils and ruled out chemical processes for their formation.
        In the “News and Views” section of the same issue of Nature,2 Donoghue and Antcliffe (U of Bristol) commented on the findings.  They said this find “will get palaeobiologists talking” because there is “excitement” any time fossils bigger than microbes are found before the Cambrian explosion.  They began by debunking a myth about Darwin:
    It is a peculiar but widely held view that Charles Darwin used the palaeontological record as one of the principal lines of evidence for biological evolution.  He did not.  To modern eyes, On the Origin of Species presents a shocking account of the fossil record as an archive of evolutionary history.
        For instance, Darwin highlights the idea that the then earliest-known fossil-bearing rocks, from the Cambrian period, beginning about 542 million years ago, contain records of modern groups – implying an extensive prehistory teeming with life.  One-and-a-half centuries of subsequent research have revealed a vast microscopic fossil record of unicellular protists and bacteria extending, some would argue, as far back as there are sedimentary rocks from which they could be recovered.  But although fossils of millimetre- to metre-scale multicellular organisms characterize the 90 million years of the Ediacaran period that precedes the Cambrian, pre-Ediacaran macroscopic fossils are exceedingly rare.
    In their timeline of the fossil record, Donoghue and Antcliffe show that the Ediacaran fossils appeared in a mere blip of time before the Cambrian explosion.  These, however, are significantly earlier.  Darwin knew of no Precambrian fossils.  It really bothered him.  “It was Darwin’s view that absence of organisms in these early intervals of Earth’s history would prove his theory of biological evolution wrong.”  Although they concluded that Darwin would be vindicated now (“The discovery and continuing elucidation of the Precambrian fossil record has met Darwin’s predictions on the extent and structure of evolutionary history”) they also pointed out that “Interpreting truly ancient fossils is an especially tricky business.
        Much of the evolutionary significance of these fossils depends on whether they represent true eukaryotic multicellular life, with division of labor and signalling between the cells.  “The fossils are not much to look at,” though, they admitted, and “Out of their geological context, these structures are unremarkable and would probably have been ignored.”  Dating of the fossils, therefore, is another requirement for assigning them any evolutionary significance.  “The null hypothesis, however, has to be that these remains represent bacterial colonies.”  Are they any more significant than stromatolites dated earlier?  Do they represent anything as remarkable as the later Ediacaran biota?3
        The discoverers ended on a note that stimulates another question.  “Although we cannot determine the precise nature and affinities of the 2.1-Gyr macroorganisms from the Francevillian B Formation of Gabon,” they said, “we interpret these fossils as ancient representatives of multicellular life, which expanded so rapidly 1.5 Gyr later.”  Combined with Donoghue and Antcliffe’s statement that “pre-Ediacaran macroscopic fossils are exceedingly rare,” this makes one wonder what took evolution so long to do anything with its new experiment in multicellularity.  Why did multicellular life expand so rapidly at the Cambrian?  Readers should note that all the spectacular evolution of toucans, platypus, dinosaurs, horses and humans occurred in one third of the timeline after the Gabon fossils, assuming the evolutionary dating.  If after a century and a half of looking, these rare fossils from one tiny place on the globe are all that paleontologists can find, a statement by Donoghue and Antcliffe in their final paragraph seems understated: “This latest discovery raises more questions than it answers.
    1.  El Albani et al, “Large colonial organisms with coordinated growth in oxygenated environments 2.1?Gyr ago,” Nature 466, 100-104 (1 July 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature09166.
    2.  Philip C. J. Donoghue & Jonathan B. Antcliffe, “Early life: Origins of multicellularity,” Nature 466, 41-42 (1 July 2010) | doi:10.1038/466041a.
    3.  For background on the Ediacaran biota in relation to the Cambrian explosion, see 12/23/2002, 08/19/2004, 04/23/2006, and 07/14/2009.
    Under the most generous concessions to the Darwinists, these fossils can only be described as enigmatic.  Under more realistic assumptions, however, they are no help at all.  First, consider their rarity.  Why isn’t the globe teeming with fossils of multicellular experiments and transitional forms in Precambrian strata?  We’re talking about 3.4 billion years of dice-throwing since the first life appeared in their saga.  If (as they believe) microbial fossils appeared “as far back as there are sedimentary rocks from which they could be recovered,” evolution had no trouble doing the grunt work of creating cells and spreading them over the globe.  Those cells, according to the Darwin fundamentalists, had already mastered genetic coding, transcription, translation, regulation, cell division, signaling and networks run by thousands of molecular machines. Are we to believe that evolution could not do the much easier task of stitching cells together into more complex colonies?  Given humans, it’s not hard to envision them forming a club in short order.  Given cells with communication tools and remote sensing, it’s also not hard to envision them coming together in social groups, and profiting from division of labor.  Coming up with the humans and the cells to begin with is the big leap.  Given the explosion of diversity later, why did evolution struggle for most of the habitable history of the planet to cross that threshold?
        Second, these fossils are of dubious interpretation.  They may be nothing more than fairy-ring colonies growing outward like bacteria in a Petri dish.  Perhaps the matlike remains were flexible enough to fold on the inside in some cases.  There is no indication of a coelom or tissue differentiation.  They do not appear transitional to Ediacaran fossils, let alone to Cambrian animals.
        Third, the dating is incestuous to evolutionary geological assumptions.  Donoghue and Antcliffe spoke glibly about “speculative hypotheses on the co-evolution of life and the chemistry of the oceans” that tempt them to think the fossils fit “elegantly” within tales of a Great Oxidation Event and other evolutionary sub-myths (12/10/2006).  If one does not accept the Darwinian premises, all such talk is circular.
        Finally, the structures, even under generous concessions that they represent multicellular experiments far back in the Precambrian, do nothing to mitigate the Cambrian explosion.  These fossils have none of the jointed limbs, digestive systems, reproductive systems, eyes, antennae, fins, and other complex organs seen in the earliest animal fossils.  As the must-see film Darwin’s Dilemma illustrates powerfully, complex body plans bespeak even more complex developmental programs able to direct cells at the right place at the right time into tissues, organs, and functioning organisms.  The only theory that can explain hierarchical organization with goal-directed assembly is intelligent design.
        For these reasons, this discovery represents Darwinian wishful thinking.  They are grasping at straws, trying to fill a Grand Canyon of a gap in their theory with pebbles.  It’s almost humorous watching the tension in their rhetoric between the obligations of scientific restraint and the wish to see a huge embarrassment relieved.  “This latest discovery raises more questions than it answers,” they said.  One question we’d like to add is, “When are you guys going to concede defeat?”
    Next headline on:  FossilsMarine BiologyDarwin and Evolution
      The wonders of diatoms were explored in the 07/21/2004 entry, but you’ll gag over the evolutionary explanation.  Learn also about how cells build hard parts in the 07/26/2004 entry.

    Artifact Found from Biblical Time of Judges     07/04/2010    
    July 04, 2010 — A chariot linchpin has been found in Israel that appears to date from the time of the book of Judges.  The linchpin (a cover over the axle) contains a carved image of a woman, and is being dated at around 1200 BC.  The discoverer believes the location is the site of ancient Harosheth Haggoyim, the home town of Sisera, as mentioned in the story of Deborah and Barak in Judges 4-5.  For picture and background, see PhysOrg; for interpretation and more links, see Bible Places Blog.

    It’s always exciting to see artifacts emerge from the sites where Bible stories took place.  Many of us learned these stories as children.  Artifacts bring details to life and illuminate the setting of the accounts.  Archaeology cannot confirm the stories, but can help validate them by showing that they are consistent with independent physical evidence.  They also illustrate that the Biblical stories are not myths in a historical void, but took place in space and time.  They occurred at named sites that can be visited and checked.  This one chariot linchpin says little on its own, but the sum total of artifacts and inscriptions found that are consistent with the Biblical record is compelling, providing added confidence to the reader of Scripture that the Lord has spoken and acted on behalf of those who trust His word.
    Next headline on:  Bible and Theology
    Tip Link
    July 4, 2010 – Stephen Meyer, author of Signature in the Cell, wrote an editorial for America’s Independence Day (July 4) based on a famous line from the Declaration of Independence.  In his article on Evolution News & Views, Meyer reminded readers that the founding fathers of the USA believed in “truths that are self-evident” – namely, that we are endowed with natural rights by a Creator.  That line provided Meyer the grounds for updating the views of Jefferson and Adams with the findings of modern genetics.

    Tibetans Evolved Altitude Tolerance in 3,000 Years     07/03/2010    
    July 03, 2010 — Tibetans and other peoples who live at high altitudes possess a remarkable tolerance to the thin atmosphere.  Now, scientists at UC Berkeley have identified some 30 genes related to oxygen regulation that differ in Tibetans from Han Chinese.  Since those tribes are thought to have diverged 3,000 years ago, natural selection for these changes must have occurred in that time.
        PhysOrg reported the findings that were published in two papers in Science.1,2    According to Rasmus Nielsen, lead author of one of the studies, “You look for rapid evolution in genes because there must be something important about that gene forcing it to change so fast.”  That’s why they were keen to find genetic differences between the 50 Tibetans and 40 Han Chinese whose genomes they compared.  Surprisingly, Nielsen said that “The new finding is really the first time evolutionary information alone has helped us pinpoint an important function of a gene in humans.”  The way evolutionists talk about their theory as the key to biology, one would think thousands of studies would have preceded this one.
        New Scientist called this a “remarkable” case of adaptation at “a record-breaking rate.”  They quoted Nielsen calling it “the fastest genetic change ever observed in humans.”  Still, it is not clear what evolution was doing.  The genetic differences do not result in a different blood concentration of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen to the tissues, from the values for people living at sea level.  Jay Storz [U of Nebraska], commenting on the papers in the same issue of Science,3 spoke of the mutations as representing possible “candidate” targets of selection, but that the functional significance of the changes has not yet been established:

    In the case of hemoglobin concentration in Tibetans, for example, selection has not favored a trait value outside the ancestral range of variation.  Instead, selection appears to have favored a blunted erythropoietic response such that hemoglobin concentration at high altitude is maintained at the sea-level status quo.  Although the mechanism has yet to be elucidated, it appears that regulatory changes in EPAS1 and other HIF-related genes have recalibrated the set point for hypoxia-induced erythropoiesis in Tibetans.  Andean highlanders have not evolved a similar mechanism for attenuating the erythropoietic response to hypoxia, possibly because of their shorter history of residence at high altitude.
        It remains to be seen whether hemoglobin concentration represents the direct phenotypic target of selection in Tibetans, or whether changes in hemoglobin concentration represent an ancillary effect of selection on some other physiological trait that is altered by regulatory changes in the HIF cascade.  These studies of Tibetan highlanders provide compelling proof of principle that the integration of population genomics and association studies can successfully identify targets of recent positive selection.
    The authors of the two primary papers similarly spoke of “putatively advantageous genes” but did not establish actual functional advantages they confer on Tibetans living in oxygen-poor, high-altitude environments.  Storz thus raised two questions: (1) are the genetic changes related to Tibetans’ altitude tolerance, or just ancillary effects of selection for other traits?  Neutral genetic drift should be ruled out.  (2) If these changes are functional in Tibetans, how do the Andeans tolerate high altitudes without similar genetic changes?
        It should be noted that it’s difficult to identify genes under selection pressure.  Scientists sometimes assume that changes are targets of selection without checking to see if those changes produce functional advantages for the organism in its environment.  Last year, three researchers indicated that many studies for “positive selection” are based on flawed methods and statistics (03/30/2009).
        A previous study did not link Tibetan altitude tolerance to genes for hemoglobin, but rather to nitric oxide levels (see 10/31/2007, bullet 4).  Furthermore, it appears that only regulatory changes to existing genes, not new genetic information, may be involved.  A more thorough study would compare comparable genes for other mammals, birds, and reptiles at high altitude with their sea-level counterparts, and see whether gradations exist for animals at mid-altitudes.  Before one can claim, therefore, that these studies represent “the first time evolutionary information alone has helped us pinpoint an important function of a gene in humans,” the researchers need to get beyond “proof of principle” and show whether natural selection accomplished anything at all.
    1.  Yi, Lyang et al, “Sequencing of 50 Human Exomes Reveals Adaptation to High Altitude,” Science, 2 July 2010: Vol. 329. no. 5987, pp. 75-78, DOI: 10.1126/science.1190371.
    2.  Simonson, Yang et al, “Genetic Evidence for High-Altitude Adaptation in Tibet,” Science, 2 July 2010: Vol. 329. no. 5987, pp. 72-75, DOI: 10.1126/science.1189406.
    3.  Jay F. Storz, “Evolution: Genes for High Altitudes,” Science, 2 July 2010: Vol. 329. no. 5987, pp. 40-41, DOI: 10.1126/science.1192481.
    Natural selection may be responsible for the changes, or it may not be.  Researchers assume that mutations are targets of selection.  Scientific rigor demands that those genetic changes actually be linked to adaptive changes.  Darwinian theory would require that the adaptations allow for survival of the fittest – i.e., that individuals lacking the mutations die out.  The study found that only 87% of the Tibetans had one of the leading candidate mutations.  How do the remaining 13% breathe and live up there?  And why did 9% of the Chinese have the mutation, if they were not under selection pressure by living at high altitude?  Furthermore, if this “fastest genetic change ever observed in humans” represents evolutionary progress, why don’t the people in the Andes have it?  How do they live and breathe at their high altitudes?  Responding that the lack of genetic changes is “possibly because of their shorter history of residence at high altitude” is a cop-out.  Evolution can be as fast as evolutionary biologists need it to be to fit their story.
        Despite the hype in the headlines, there has been no demonstration of a Darwinian evolutionary adaptive change here.  But even if there were, creationists would have no problem accepting it.  Creationists accept natural selection operating within created kinds producing “horizontal” changes (i.e., adaptive changes that do not add any new genetic information).  The Tibetans are still interfertile with the Chinese, after all, and the time frame for the changes fits easily within a Biblical timeframe.
        What evolutionists should be worried about is why some humans did not evolve altitude tolerance hundreds of thousands of years ago.  By now, shouldn’t there be a separate species, Homo everestus, the obligate mountain men?  According to Darwinian expectations of geographical isolation and allopatric speciation, such high-altitude humans should be unable to breed with sea people or even approach sea level without bursting their lungs.  This story looks more and more like a confirmation of the Biblical creation model for human history and origin by design (see the 06/17/2005 entry).
    Next headline on:  Early ManGeneticsDarwin and Evolution
    Humans Got Birdbrains by Convergent Evolution     07/02/2010    
    July 02, 2010 — Scientists are learning that birds have brains remarkably similar to those of mammals.  This is contrary to a century of belief, PhysOrg said.  How did such similarities evolve for groups of animals so widely separated?  To explain it, evolutionists pulled out one of their common explanations: convergent evolution.
        “For more than a century,” the article began, “neuroscientists believed that the brains of humans and other mammals differed from the brains of other animals, such as birds (and so were presumably better).”  Now, scientists at UC San Diego School of Medicine are finding that “a comparable region in the brains of chickens concerned with analyzing auditory inputs is constructed similarly to that of mammals.”  Specifically, “They discovered that the avian cortical region was also composed of laminated layers of cells linked by narrow, radial columns of different types of cells with extensive interconnections that form microcircuits that are virtually identical to those found in the mammalian cortex.”  This “revolutionary” discovery upends “this claim of mammalian uniqueness,” said Harvey Karten, one of the authors of the paper in PNAS.1
        While it may be humiliating to find such similarities with chickens, it is even more of a problem for Darwinists.  “But this kind of thinking presented a serious problem for neurobiologists trying to figure out the evolutionary origins of the mammalian cortex,” the article continued.  “Namely, where did all of that complex circuitry come from and when did it first evolve?”  The researcher could only offer “the beginnings of an answer: From an ancestor common to both mammals and birds that dates back at least 300 million years.”  The laminar and columnar properties of cells in the neocortex “evolved from cells and circuits in much more ancient vertebrates.”  Neither the article and the paper used the term “convergent evolution,” but the implication is inescapable: since, according to the paper, birds are on “a parallel branch to mammals on the evolutionary tree,” their resulting similarities must have come about by convergence.
    1.  Wang, Brzozowska-Prechtl and Karten, “Laminar and columnar auditory cortex in avian brain,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print June 28, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1006645107.
    This “explanation” conveys no information; it merely pushes the required Darwinian miracle farther down the Tree icon.  Now Darwinians have to envision some primitive vertebrate ancestor, a lizard perhaps, getting lucky to receive a mutation pregnant with possibilities.  Some day, that mistake would lead to the song of the nightingale and The Song of the Nightingale (Stravinsky).  This double convergence involved both the cells of brains and their ability to produce musical output.  As long as we’re talking miracles, might as well splurge.
    Next headline on:  BirdsMammalsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
      What is the hammer that planetary scientists use to see every problem as a nail?  Read the 07/03/2003 entry and see how the hammer hits fingers, too.

    Breaking Up an Ice Age Is Hard to Do     07/01/2010    
    July 01, 2010 — “Ice Age 3” the movie is out, and the subject of ice ages deserves some attention.  Atmospheric scientists and geologists seem very confident sometimes about things they know about only indirectly, like ice ages.  At other times, though, the rhetoric turns diffident (opposite of confident).  Take this opening paragraph from PhysOrg:

    Scientists still puzzle over how Earth emerged from its last ice age, an event that ushered in a warmer climate and the birth of human civilization.  In the geological blink of an eye, ice sheets in the northern hemisphere began to collapse and warming spread quickly to the south.  Most scientists say that the trigger, at least initially, was an orbital shift that caused more sunlight to fall across Earth’s northern half.  But how did the south catch up so fast?
    (For more on the orbital shift theory, see the 06/02/2009, 02/05/2008 and 08/08/2006 entries.)  A new theory for how the south caught up is “blowing in the wind,” the article said.  A team put together a model that invokes carbon dioxide release, wind, and Milankovitch cycles to explain how it all happened.
        But all is not so tidy.  Here was global warming on a colossal scale, without man being at fault.  “We’re trying to answer the puzzle: why does the Earth, when it appears so firmly in the grip of an ice age, start to warm?”  It’s counterintuitive.  You need heat to start an ice age, and cold to stop it.  According to the new model, a chain of events led to ice age 20,000 years ago, and by 4,000 years later, the system rebounded.  Glaciers made a “spectacular retreat” while carbon dioxide from the deep ocean provided enough warming to prevent another ice age.
        The article left off on a confident note that the new theory improves on old models that stalled: “Now, with the evidence for shifting southern hemisphere westerlies, the rapid warming is readily explained.”  Of course, this new model needs some more work: a Penn State scientist said, “Testing this hypothesis will be very interesting, to see whether it successfully ‘predicts’ the observed timing of CO2 and temperature changes in the south.”  One might also wonder why this irreversible chain of events occurred in the “geological blink of an eye” and not repeatedly over billions of years, if it was indeed triggered by a regular orbital cycle.  Climate skeptics might also use this theory to point out that not all global warming is man’s fault – especially one called “the great global warming of all time.”
    Scientists like this aren’t interested in the truth.  They are interested in preserving the deep time paradigm.  Part of that is always revising deep time models, but never questioning them.  Their whole system is built on a house of cards, and inside the house, life emerges (a miracle).  Once evolution was done with the deep freeze, it came time to clear out the Ice Age room for the Birth of Human Civilization (another miracle).  Ask yourself: “Self, is a little bit of warmth an explanation for human civilization, and not intelligent design?”
        Secular scientists would never even pause to deign to ponder to think to consider the possibility that a global flood could produce the ice age (singular) and its warming aftereffects in far less time.  That explanation, at least, has an eyewitness account attached to it.  But no; deep time is in their DNA (Darwin Naturalistic Authority), and so the tale goes on.  It doesn’t need to be true.  It just needs to keep the story going and the storytellers employed.  If they can attach a political spin to it (man-made global warming), all the better.  The more ad hoc, the better; this one-time phenomenon occurs 16,000 years ago, but not throughout their beloved 4.5 billion years of Milankovitch cycles.  They will tolerate a cartoon “Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” (advertised along with the PhysOrg article) with its timeline that is completely out of whack with the Darwinian geological column, but that’s OK – it’s not creationist.  Anything but that.  Anything but the Eyewitness.  Considering that would mean (gasp) the loss of human autonomy for endless storytelling.
        Readers not enslaved to the secular guild’s world might like to do a little research on what creation scientists have to say about the ice age.  Search for “ice age” on True Origin, Creation.com, ICR, Answers in Genesis, In the Beginning or the Creation Research Society and you’ll get a lot of hits.  Deep-time geologists and biologists are not the only people who think about these things.  They’re just the only ones who get a free ride in the deep-time media.  They believe in miracles, too, you realize; they just have a handy place to hide them – in the deep freezer of deep time.
    Next headline on:  GeologyPhysicsDating Methods

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    (a former atheist/evolutionist in aerospace engineering, now Biblical creationist)

    “I’m a regular (daily :) reader of your site.  It is amazing the amount of work that you impart in such a project.  Thank you very much.”
    (an IT professional with a degree in mechanical engineering from Portugal)

    “I find your site so helpful and you are so fast in putting up responses to current news.  I have your site RSS feed on my toolbar and can easily see when you have new articles posted.”
    (a geologist in Australia)

    “I have been reading your website for several years now.  Working in an environment where most people believe that there are only two absolutes, evolution and relativism, it has been wonderful to be able to get the facts and the explanations of the bluffs and false logic that blows around.  I have posted your website in many places on my website, because you seem to have the ability to cut through the baloney and get to the truth--a rare quality in this century.  Thank you for all that you do.”
    (a business analyst in Wisconsin)

    “...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.”
    (a senior research scientist)

    “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.”
    (a university senior studying geology and paleontology in Michigan)

    “Hi guys, thanks for all that you do, your website is a great source of information: very comprehensive.”
    (a medical student in California)

    “You are really doing a good job commenting on the weaknesses of science, pointing out various faults.  Please continue.”
    (a priest in the Netherlands)

    “I much enjoy the info AND the sarcasm.  Isaiah was pretty sarcastic at times, too.  I check in at your site nearly every day.  Thanks for all your work.”
    (a carpet layer in California)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “This website redefines debunking.  Thanks for wading through the obfuscation that passes for evolution science to expose the sartorial deficiencies of Emperor Charles and his minions.  Simply the best site of its kind, an amazing resource.  Keep up the great work!”
    (an engineer in Michigan)

    “I have been a fan of your daily news items for about two years, when a friend pointed me to it.  I now visit every day (or almost every day)... A quick kudo: You are amazing, incredible, thorough, indispensable, and I could list another ten superlatives.  Again, I just don’t know how you manage to comb so widely, in so many technical journals, to come up with all this great ‘news from science’ info.”
    (a PhD professor of scientific rhetoric in Florida and author of two books, who added that he was “awe-struck” by this site)

    “Although we are often in disagreement, I have the greatest respect and admiration for your writing.”
    (an octogenarian agnostic in Palm Springs)

    “your website is absolutely superb and unique.  No other site out there provides an informed & insightful ‘running critique’ of the current goings-on in the scientific establishment.  Thanks for keeping us informed.”
    (a mechanical designer in Indiana)

    “I have been a fan of your site for some time now.  I enjoy reading the ‘No Spin’ of what is being discussed.... keep up the good work, the world needs to be shown just how little the ‘scientist’ [sic] do know in regards to origins.”
    (a network engineer in South Carolina)

    “I am a young man and it is encouraging to find a scientific ‘journal’ on the side of creationism and intelligent design.... Thank you for your very encouraging website.”
    (a web designer and author in Maryland)

    “GREAT site.  Your ability to expose the clothesless emperor in clear language is indispensable to us non-science types who have a hard time seeing through the jargon and the hype.  Your tireless efforts result in encouragement and are a great service to the faith community.  Please keep it up!”
    (a medical writer in Connecticut)

    “I really love your site and check it everyday.  I also recommend it to everyone I can, because there is no better website for current information about ID.”
    (a product designer in Utah)

    “Your site is a fantastic resource.  By far, it is the most current, relevant and most frequently updated site keeping track of science news from a creationist perspective.  One by one, articles challenging currently-held aspects of evolution do not amount to much.  But when browsing the archives, it’s apparent you’ve caught bucketfulls of science articles and news items that devastate evolution.  The links and references are wonderful tools for storming the gates of evolutionary paradise and ripping down their strongholds.  The commentary is the icing on the cake.  Thanks for all your hard work, and by all means, keep it up!”
    (a business student in Kentucky)

    “Thanks for your awesome work; it stimulates my mind and encourages my faith.”
    (a family physician in Texas)

    “I wanted to personally thank you for your outstanding website.  I am intensely interested in any science news having to do with creation, especially regarding astronomy.  Thanks again for your GREAT website!”
    (an amateur astronomer in San Diego)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I really appreciate your work in this topic, so you should never stop doing what you do, ’cause you have a lot of readers out there, even in small countries in Europe, like Slovenia is... I use 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)

    “Like your site especially the ‘style’ of your comments.... Keep up the good work.”
    (a retired engineer and amateur astronomer in Maryland)

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    Scientist of the Month
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    Guide to Evolution
     
    Featured Creation Scientist for July
    John Philoponus

    John who?  This creation scientist has a story that needs to be heard.  In fact, we’re making this a research project this month.  John Philoponus is almost unknown in the history of science.  That needs to change, and maybe you could be the one to help.

    Let’s hear some teasers about this very interesting sixth-century Alexandrian professor (who was a scholar, a fervent Christian and creationist), because his place in history is remarkable.  One of the best short summaries of his life is an article by Dan Graves online at RAE.org, adapted from Graves’s excellent book Scientists of Faith.

    If Graves is right, John Philoponus was a man ahead of his time – way ahead.  For instance:

  • He anticipated Galileo’s theory of inertia by a thousand years (and Galileo spoke highly of him).
  • He tried to stop the burning of the Library of Alexandria (often blamed on Christians).
  • He may have influenced early Muslim thinking about science (for which Islam got credit).
  • He was an ardent critic of Aristotle on key points, long before Aristotelianism was rejected.

    From a list of Christians in science on Revolution against Evolution, this statement can be found: One of the giants on whose shoulders Newton stood was the theologian *John Philoponus* (fl. 6th cent AD).  Philoponus suggested (on creationist grounds) that the stars are made of the same essential matter as the earth and emit light because they burn.  The different colors of stars are owing to differences of composition, he said, drawing his analogy from the differences in colors we see when we burn various substances on earth.  He attributed to impetus the movement of celestial bodies (Aristotle said angels moved the planets) and argued for void (vacuum) between the stars.  He was the first to suggest dropping balls of unequal weight from a tower.  Galileo read and praised Philoponus.

    If this sounds intriguing, help us find out if these claims have support in the literature.  Apparently, scholars have only recently revived the writings this early learned Christian professor who lived in the liveliest intellectual center of his day, Alexandria.  They are beginning to recognize his importance in the history of ideas.

    Portions of his writings have been translated on the internet.  They clearly dispute the notion that all post-Roman and medieval scholars were slavish devotees of Aristotle.  More importantly, it appears that the key to John Philoponus’s insight was his Biblical doctrine of creation.

    Read the following links and do some internet searching for more.  Here are some sources to begin your search:

  • Wikipedia.
  • Short bio on ScienceWorld.
  • Original text from a treatise on the astrolabe (also often credited to the Muslims).
  • Original text from a treatise on Aristotle’s physics, criticizing the philosopher’s view of imparted motion.
  • Book review of a biography of Philoponus by John E. McKenna.
  • References to Philoponus by Muslims (who may have called him Yahyah al-Nahwi) on the National Library of Medicine site.
  • Another book review of a book by Lettinck and Urmson (on the Bryn Mawr site) about Philoponus’ critique of Aristotle’s physics.
  • Brief explanation of John Philoponus and his Christian influence on science on a New Zealand Christianity and Science site.
  • A paper by Christopher Kaiser posted by the American Scientific Affiliation mentioning Philoponus.
  • The article by Dan Graves includes a list of nine reference works.

    CEH takes no responsibility for the accuracy of these links, and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed, but offers them as starters for someone to follow up on this exciting lead.

    Was science delayed for a thousand years by ignoring the work of this early Christian thinker?   Could this man have prevented the long dominance of wrong Aristotelian views if more had listened to him?  Did a creationist lay some of the important philosophical foundations for the emergence of a scientific view of the world?  This is too good to pass up.  If you find out something interesting about John Philoponus, write us at the Feedback address.


    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).

    More Feedback
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    “I really enjoy your website, the first I visit every day.  I have a quote by Mark Twain which seems to me to describe the Darwinian philosophy of science perfectly.  ‘There is something fascinating about science.  One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.’  Working as I do in the Environmental field (I am a geologist doing groundwater contamination project management for a state agency) I see that kind of science a lot.  Keep up the good work!!”
    (a hydrogeologist in Alabama)

    “I visit your website regularly and I commend you on your work.  I applaud your effort to pull actual science from the mass of propaganda for Evolution you report on (at least on those rare occasions when there actually is any science in the propaganda).  I also must say that I'm amazed at your capacity to continually plow through the propaganda day after day and provide cutting and amusing commentary....  I can only hope that youthful surfers will stop by your website for a fair and interesting critique of the dogma they have to imbibe in school.”
    (a technical writer living in Jerusalem)

    “I have enjoyed your site for several years now.  Thanks for all the hard work you obviously put into this.  I appreciate your insights, especially the biological oriented ones in which I'm far behind the nomenclature curve.  It would be impossible for me to understand what's going on without some interpretation.  Thanks again.”
    (a manufacturing engineer in Vermont)

    “Love your site and your enormous amount of intellectualism and candor regarding the evolution debate.  Yours is one site I look forward to on a daily basis.  Thank you for being a voice for the rest of us.”
    (a graphic designer in Wisconsin)

    “For sound, thoughtful commentary on creation-evolution hot topics go to Creation-Evolution Headlines.
    (Access Research Network 12/28/2007).

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

    “I’ve been reading the articles on this website for over a year, and I’m guilty of not showing any appreciation.  You provide a great service.  It’s one of the most informative and up-to-date resources on creation available anywhere.  Thank you so much.  Please keep up the great work.”
    (a senior research scientist in Georgia)

    “Just a note to thank you for your site.  I am a regular visitor and I use your site to rebut evolutionary "just so" stories often seen in our local media.  I know what you do is a lot of work but you make a difference and are appreciated.”
    (a veterinarian in Minnesota)

    “This is one of the best sites I have ever visited.  Thanks.  I have passed it on to several others... I am a retired grandmother. I have been studying the creation/evolution question for about 50 yrs.... Thanks for the info and enjoyable site.”
    (a retiree in Florida)

    “It is refreshing to know that there are valuable resources such as Creation-Evolution Headlines that can keep us updated on the latest scientific news that affect our view of the world, and more importantly to help us decipher through the rhetoric so carelessly disseminated by evolutionary scientists.  I find it ‘Intellectually Satisfying’ to know that I don’t have to park my brain at the door to be a ‘believer’ or at the very least, to not believe in Macroevolution.”
    (a loan specialist in California)

    “I have greatly benefitted from your efforts.  I very much look forward to your latest posts.”
    (an attorney in California)

    “I must say your website provides an invaluable arsenal in this war for souls that is being fought.  Your commentaries move me to laughter or sadness.  I have been viewing your information for about 6 months and find it one of the best on the web.  It is certainly effective against the nonsense published on Talkorigins.org.  It great to see work that glorifies God and His creation.”
    (a commercial manager in Australia)

    “Visiting daily your site and really do love it.”
    (a retiree from Finland who studied math and computer science)

    “I am agnostic but I can never deny that organic life (except human) is doing a wonderful job at functioning at optimum capacity.  Thank you for this ... site!”
    (an evolutionary theorist from Australia)

    “During the year I have looked at your site, I have gone through your archives and found them to be very helpful and informative.  I am so impressed that I forward link to members of my congregation who I believe are interested in a higher level discussion of creationist issues than they will find at [a leading origins website].”
    (a minister in Virginia)

    “I attended a public school in KS where evolution was taught.  I have rejected evolution but have not always known the answers to some of the questions.... A friend told me about your site and I like it, I have it on my favorites, and I check it every day.”
    (an auto technician in Missouri)

    “Thanks for a great site!  It has brilliant insights into the world of science and of the evolutionary dogma.  One of the best sites I know of on the internet!”
    (a programmer in Iceland)

    “The site you run – creation-evolution headlines is extremely useful to me.  I get so tired of what passes for science – Darwinism in particular – and I find your site a refreshing antidote to the usual junk.... it is clear that your thinking and logic and willingness to look at the evidence for what the evidence says is much greater than what I read in what are now called science journals.  Please keep up the good work.  I appreciate what you are doing more than I can communicate in this e-mail.”
    (a teacher in California)

    “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)

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    (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)

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    (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):
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    (a production designer in Kentucky)

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    (a Presbyterian minister in New South Wales, Australia)

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    (a prominent creationist author)

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    (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).

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    (a scientist).

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    (a registered nurse in Alabama, who found us on TruthCast.com.)

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    (a mountain man in Alaska).

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    (a college campus minister)

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