Creation-Evolution Headlines
October 2010
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“Paul makes clear that, even though God has revealed Himself in nature—so that no one is with excuse—given the cloudiness of our vision and the corruption of our sight, we can no longer see what is clearly there.  The heavens are telling the glory of God, but human sinfulness refuses to see what is plainly evident.”
—Dr. Albert Mohler, in an article from ICR’s Acts and Facts, October 2010.
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Could 90% of what doctors tell you be wrong?  David H. Freedman explores the work of Dr. John Ioannidis, whose survey of the medical literature shows most of it being poorly tested, unduly influenced, and falsified in short order (The Atlantic).  If science can provide so little confidence about things we can see and feel and test in the present, how can scientists’ confident pronouncements about the unobservable past, with all its untestable unknowns, be trusted?

Cambrian Explosion Solved     10/31/2010    
Oct 31, 2010 — Geologists have come out swinging against the idea the Cambrian Explosion damages Darwinism.  In a lengthy new paper in the Geological Society of America Bulletin,1 they believe they pitch three strikes against creationists and intelligent-design supporters who claim that the sudden appearance of all the animal body plans at the base of the Cambrian falsifies Darwinian claims about gradual evolution.  Their last paragraph sums up their victory announcement that Darwin was right after all:

In his chapter on the imperfection of the geological record, Darwin alludes in passing to a different explanation for the supposed sudden appearance of animals in the lowest fossiliferous strata.  He writes “[w]e should not forget that only a small portion of the world is known with accuracy” (Darwin, 1859, p. 307).  It is this explanation—the incompleteness of our knowledge—that has turned out to be closer to the truth.  The problem of missing fossil ancestors was solved by the discovery of the Precambrian fossil record, the problem that nearly all the animal phyla appear in the Lower Cambrian with no evidence of intermediate taxa was solved by the recognition that most Lower Cambrian fossils represent stem-groups of living phyla, and the problem of the explosive diversification of animals at the start of the Tommotian was solved by improved correlation and radiometric dating of Lower Cambrian sequences—to which we contribute here—showing that this diversification was drawn out over more than 20 m.y.
This paper, with over 500 references, is probably the most extensive defense of Darwin against the Cambrian explosion since Charles Marshall explained in 2006 that, essentially, evolution did the evolution (see 04/23/2006).  These scientists from Princeton, MIT, UC Santa Barbara, and Washington University at St. Louis knew about Marshall’s paper, because they referred to it several times.  They also understood “Darwin’s dilemma” (not the film by that name, but the issue), saying, “The dilemma Darwin faced was that if all life descended via gradual modification from a single common ancestor, then the complexity and diversity of fossils found in Cambrian strata ... demand a long interval of evolution prior to the beginning of the Cambrian.”  This was their challenge, and victory was their goal.
    They used a two-pronged approach of radiometric dating with comparisons of calcium carbonate isotopes in fossil shells to determine “a new absolute time line for first appearances of skeletal animals and for changes in the carbon, strontium, and redox chemistry of the ocean during the Nemakit-Daldynian and Tommotian ages at the beginning of the Cambrian.”  (The Nemakit-Daldynian strata are the first Cambrian after the Ediacaran era, dated from 542-525 million years before the present; the Tommotian follows, where the first trilobites appear).  As a result of their analysis of leading Cambrian outcrops from around the world (primarily Siberia), they claim that both the problem of disparity (morphological distinctness without intermediates) and rapid diversification “have been somewhat exaggerated.”  But can they undo 150 years of hand-wringing so easily?
    The argument for Darwin in this long paper can be summed up in two words: stretch and simplify.  By stretching out the timeline from 5 or 10 to 20 million years, they muffle the explosion.  And by claiming that the first appearances of the phyla were fairly simple stem-group members compared to those that came later, they leave less innovation for Darwinism to have to produce all at once.  The bulk of their paper concerns measurements of calcium carbonate isotopes, by which they argued that changes in ocean chemistry may have been responsible for the so-called explosion: aragonite was favored in the Nemakit-Daldynian, while calcite was favored in the Tommotian.  This pattern “supports the hypothesis that carbonate skeletal mineralogy is determined by the chemistry of seawater at the time carbonate skeletons first evolve in a clade.”
    Their revised timeline was a big part of their argument.  They mapped calcium carbonate isotope traces from Siberia, China and Mongolia onto uranium-lead dates from Morocco, a method that they claimed “avoids the circularity associated with using biostratigraphic correlations and that is presented in the context of coincident changes in the cycling of carbon and trace elements in the ocean.”  So, “Better than ever before, we are now capable of determining the absolute timing of biological and environmental change in the earliest Cambrian.”  Having a new radiometrically-determined timeline, they produced a key figure in the paper: a timeline of first appearances.  At 544 mya, they show anabaritids.  At 540 mya, they show protoconodonts, cap-shaped fossils, hyoliths, hyolithelminths, and caeloscleritophorans.  At 534 mya, they show molluscs, conulariids, cambroclaves, and paracaranichitids.  Coleolids and possible archaeocyaths show up at 532 mya, calcareous brachiopods at 528 mya, phosphatic bracheopods at 526 mya.  At 525 mya, the sea chemistry changes from favoring aragonite to calcite.  Shortly after, at about 523 mya, trilobites appear.  Put together, the pattern of diversification looks more like what Darwin envisioned – a gradual unfolding of new forms spread over 20 million years.
    The researchers also looked closely at patterns of diversity in the small shelly creatures that appear first in the lowest Cambrian layers.  They claim that four major groups in these shelly creatures, including molluscs, were all related, and therefore illustrate a “gradual unfolding of diversity through the Nemakit-Daldynian ... rather than a burst at or just before the Tommotian boundary.”  In addition, they identified four possible bursts of diversity within the explosion.  Other sections on phosphate, strontium, and other ocean-chemistry data were used to envision scenarios of environmental changes that contributed to the rapid diversification of organisms in the Cambrian.  Looking at the big picture, though, they argued that the Cambrian explosion was really not all that special; other parts of the fossil record show similar patterns: “the observation that disparity reaches its peak early in a group’s history seems to reflect a general phenomenon, also observed in plants (Boyce, 2005), the Ediacara biota (Shen et al., 2008), Precambrian microfossils (Huntley et al., 2006), and within many individual animal clades, such as crinoids (Foote, 1997), gastropods (Wagner, 1995), and ungulates (Jernvall et al., 1996).  Although of significant interest, this high disparity soon after a group’s appearance is not unique to the Cambrian,” they said.
    So is the Cambrian explosion explained?  They didn’t claim such a landslide victory.  Instead, they ended (before the final paragraph quoted above), “An explanation for the processes responsible for the radiation of animals, and of whether the radiation was a consequence or a cause of associated geochemical changes, requires a thorough understanding of the pattern of that radiation, to which this paper contributes.”  The research was partly funded by the National Science Foundation.
1.  Maloof, Porter, Bowring et al, “The earliest Cambrian record of animals and ocean geochemical change,” Geological Society of America Bulletin, v.122 no. 11-12 p. 1731-1774 (November 2010), doi: 10.1130/B30346.1.
OK, guys, nice try, but no cigar; valiant effort, but no valium.  This “explanation” (or “contribution” toward an explanation) assumes much and explains little.  Fully half the bulk of this paper is taken up with 500 references from Darwin-Party sources and tedious nitty grit about isotopes of strontium, calcium carbonate and other distractions.  The elephant standing in the room is standing on Darwin.  The poor man needs help!  Don’t pore through your chemistry notebooks while he can’t breathe.
    Does his mechanism of mindless, undirected processes create body plans and genetic codes and complex organs or not?  Saying that miracles happen better if they happen slowly is not an answer!  Look at a trilobite.  It has compound eyes of sophisticated design and optical quality (09/13/2003), a gut, antennae, jointed appendages, and a central nervous system to operate them.  Do eyes just pop into existence?  Who made that happen – Popeye?  The first trilobites are not becoming trilobites; they are trilobites.  Same is true for all the phyla.  They are not microbes becoming cnidarians, or Ediacarans becoming worms; they are what they are when they appear in the record.  Their genetic programs know how to develop into complex body plans out of a single-celled zygote.  Moreover, the trilobite record is opposite evolutionary expectations – there’s more diversity in the lower layers (07/28/2007).
    Another huge, glaring omission in this paper is evidence for intermediate forms, the transitional forms that must have existed between all the phyla.  To talk over and over about the “appearance” of this complex animal, and the “appearance” of that complex animal is only multiplying miracles.  Where are the gradual transitional chains from simple to complex that Charlie is crying out for?
    There was a big lie in the conclusion that their own previous words exposed.  They announced in triumph at the goal line, “The problem of missing fossil ancestors was solved by the discovery of the Precambrian fossil record.”  In the Introduction, however, here is what they admitted, without ever coming back to it and solving the problem:
Despite abundant evidence for a variety of life extending back to at least 3.5 Ga, Precambrian fossils mostly record the evolution of bacteria and microbial eukaryotes.  The earliest evidence for animals predates the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary by only ~100 m.y.  (Xiao et al., 1998; Yin et al., 2007; Love et al., 2009, Maloof et al., 2010b), and the few unquestioned examples of Precambrian Bilateria are <15 m.y. older than the beginning of the Cambrian (Fedonkin and Waggoner, 1997; Martin et al., 2000; Jensen, 2003; Droser et al., 2005).  Significant increases in trace fossil diversity and complexity across the boundary and the absence of soft-bodied animals in upper Precambrian Burgess Shale–type biotas (Xiao et al., 2002) suggest that the general absence of bilaterian animal fossils from upper Precambrian rocks is not a preservational artifact.  Rather, it appears that animals originated and began to diversify relatively close to the base of the Cambrian.  Although early studies using a “molecular clock” suggested that the divergences between major animal groups long predated the Cambrian (Wray et al., 1996; Bromham et al., 1998), some of the more recent work has produced dates that are closer to (if still older than) those supported by the fossil record (Aris-Brosou and Yang, 2003; Peterson et al., 2004, 2008).  Furthermore, Konservat-Lagerstätten such as the Chengjiang biota and the Burgess Shale record a breathtaking array of soft-bodied animals by the late Early and Middle Cambrian (Briggs et al., 1994; Hou et al., 2004), respectively, and, together with more conventional skeletal assemblages, suggest a great radiation of animal life during the Early Cambrian.
You can give these Darwin-worshippers the most generous rope, stretching out the minimum claims of 5 m.y. for the explosion to 20 m.y., and the noose still won’t let their feet come near the ground.  The Cambrian explosion is real.  Appeals to calcium carbonate, carbon dioxide, oxygen, moving continents – none of that has the capacity to code for a complex body plan, developmental programs, and hierarchical designs as explained thoroughly in the documentary film Darwin’s Dilemma.  Watch the film!  It covers so much more than just the timeline – the least of Darwin’s problems, though even 20 million years is the blink of an eye in their evolution-incestuous dating scheme.
    Once again, the evolutionary explanation makes no sense unless you already believe in evolution.  To a creationist, it is question-begging nonsense.  Evolution is the question!  You cannot assume what your critics will not grant.  Did you catch the bad breath in their statement about microbes, ungulates and all?  “Although of significant interest, this high disparity soon after a group’s appearance is not unique to the Cambrian,” they said.  Good grief.  So they expect creationists to be converted to Charlie worship on the argument that “since miracles happened throughout the fossil record, it’s not hard to accept another one in the Cambrian.”  This is science class, remember?
    This long, tedious paper is no improvement on Charles Marshall’s circular paper that says, in a nutty shell, “evolution did the evolution.”  He promised his readers a long trip and dumped them off at the starting line.  The new paper does the same.  It also offers more of the “if you build it, they will come” theory of evolution: somehow, by unknown processes, if you give the ocean calcite, trilobites will pop into existence.  This foolishness appears over and over for those willing to wade through the endless details about chemistry: evolution is assumed when that is the very issue at stake –
  • Precambrian fossils mostly record the evolution of bacteria and microbial eukaryotes....
  • ... many of the basic features that distinguish the major groups of animals had evolved by this time...
  • Lowest Cambrian trace fossils offer a record of the evolution of macroscopic, primarily soft-bodied, animals.
  • an age model ... that we use to elucidate the evolution of small shelly fossils...
  • carbonate skeletal mineralogy is determined by the chemistry of seawater at the time carbonate skeletons first evolve in a clade...
  • ...how many small shelly fossil genera must have evolved by a certain time...
  • ...the skeletal mineralogy of animals that evolved during the Early Cambrian.
  • animals that evolve carbonate biomineralization associated with the youngest pulse of first appearances...
  • ...calcareous plankton had not yet evolved in the Early Cambrian...
This is so old.  Why won’t the Darwinians listen?  Stop talking in an echo chamber.  Stop assuming evolution, and stop assuming that appeals to evolution are going to be taken seriously by your critics.  No amount of scholarly jargon can cover for circular reasoning.  The fossil record is a record of design, not evolution.  To borrow a quip from Ronald Reagan, it’s not that our opponents are ignorant; it’s that they know a lot of things that aren’t so.
Next headline on:  FossilsMarine BiologyDarwin and EvolutionDating Methods
  A 13-year study on natural selection found only differences in color in a wildflower.  This is the process that created humans from bacteria?  See the 10/19/2007 entry for an illustration of what happens when Darwinian theory is taken out of the storytelling department and put to actual empirical tests.

Purpose-Driven Science Ignores Darwin     10/30/2010    
Oct 30, 2010 — While some Darwinists feel that the Intelligent Design (ID) movement is a major threat to science, many scientists unconnected to ID are acting as if it provides for them a more fruitful approach to research.  Several recent examples illustrated what might be called a silent “de facto” intelligent design movement.

  1. Purposeful proteinsPhysOrg reported work at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Japan with the eye-catching title, “Searching for purpose in proteins.”  It’s not that the team is invoking a deity or searching for ultimate meaning in their work; they just want to understand what some enigmatic proteins do.  Going on a kind of “fishing expedition” with fishing tackle known as bioprobes, they have demonstrated the ability to watch how proteins bind, and deduce their role in biological processes.  The case reported in the article concerns tumor progression in cancer, but the methodology assumes that enigmatic proteins have a purpose and are not just cellular junk.
  2. Imitating insects:  Meanwhile, inventors at Penn State, Harvard and the Naval Research Laboratory have their eyes on water striders and butterflies.  They have developed “an engineered thin film that mimics the natural abilities of water striding insects to walk on the surface of water, and for butterflies to shed water from their wings.”  The natural material has what is known as “superhydrophic properties” and is an “active area of research” because producing artificial materials with those properties would have many applications – “The nanofilm produced by this technique, called oblique angle deposition, provides a microscale smooth surface for the transport of small water droplets without pumps or optical waves and with minimal deformation for self-powered microfluidic devices for medicine and for microassembly.”  Inherent in biomimicry is the belief that the thing being imitated is well designed.
  3. Biophysics on birds:  Researchers in Australia were curious why ostriches are such good runners compared to humans, so they compared their leg physics with a computer analysis.  PhysOrg summarized the resulting paper by saying it’s spring in their step.  Ostriches store so much elastic energy in their tendons, they can run as if on pogo sticks.  The BBC News includes a video showing the difference in gait efficiency.
Only the third team even mentioned evolution.  A leader of the team from the University of Western Australia hoped that “the findings could provide insight for biologists looking at the evolution of bipedalism, both in humans and in dinosaurs,” but clearly the focus of the story was on the biophysics, not the phylogeny. 
Notice how many previous entries with the “Intelligent Design” chain link were not about scientists actively promoting ID, but were about subjects that assumed design and had no use for Darwinism (e.g., 10/27/2010, 10/25/2010).  Most of the Biomimetics articles fall in this category (09/24/2010, 09/12/2010, 09/11/2010).  Join the silent ID revolution.  You don’t have to use the maligned phrase, or declare your allegiance to the Discovery Institute.  Just stay focused on the design in your subject, and gradually say less and less about Charlie D.  After enough good design science, fewer people (except for the diehard blowhards) will even miss him.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyTerrestrial ZoologyBirdsPhysicsBiomimeticsIntelligent Design
The Blue and Red States of OOL     10/29/2010    
Oct 29, 2010 — When it comes to the origin of life (OOL), some scientists color it blue; some color it red.  New Scientist votes for the blue state.  “LIFE may really have been created by a spark, one that came as a bolt from the deep blue.”  Inspired by visions sent from Ryuhei Nakamura at the University of Tokyo, reporter Jon Evans looked deep into the deep blue ocean and envisioned electrical currents down in dark, hydrothermal vents.  “The team thinks that the chimney walls catalyse the conversion of sulphides into elemental sulphur as the hot vent fluid travels through them,” Evans wrote.  “The reaction releases electrons which pass through the wall to the salt water outside, where they convert dissolved oxygen into hydrogen peroxide.  Nakamura postulates that this electrical current could provide a source of energy for bacteria.”
    Unfortunately for this notion, even Nick Lane, who makes OOL sound simple, points out that there was hardly any oxygen at the time.  Nakamura quickly substituted carbon dioxide.  “If this was the case, then the CO2 would have been converted directly into carbon-based molecules, making complex organic molecules on the early Earth’s sea floors – perhaps the chemical precursors of life.”
    Others find a red state in the deep of space.  Space.com opined, “Icy Red Objects at Solar System’s Edge May Point to Life’s Building Blocks.”  Indeed, “The reddish hue of many objects in our solar system’s frigid outer reaches may be evidence of complex organic molecules, perhaps even the building blocks of life, new research suggests.”  John Cooper (NASA) quickly backpedaled, “We’re not saying that life is produced in the Kuiper Belt,” just that “the basic chemistry may start there, as could also happen in similar Kuiper Belt environments elsewhere in the universe, and that is a natural path which could lead toward the chemical evolution of life.”  Cooking by radiation could produce delicious morsels like formaldehyde, acetylene and ethane.  Cooper hoped for more: “In some cases you may be able to produce the components of life – not just organic materials, but biological molecules such as amino acids.”  In this, he failed to clarify that amino acids have no meaning without ribosomes and a genetic code.
    The second article tried to be patriotic.  “About 1,000 Kuiper Belt objects have been directly imaged so far, and these bodies appear to be a wide range of colors, from red to blue to white, researchers said.”
OOL fools are like politicians.  They wave the colors and deceive the gullible with the building blocks of lie (03/19/2008).
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeSolar SystemDumb Ideas
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Scientists find a gene for liberal politics (Science Daily).  Question is, will there be a cure for the mutation?

Early Man in Trouble     10/28/2010    
Oct 28, 2010 — New findings (or claims) are throwing long-held beliefs about human ancestors into disarray.  Early people were smarter, and traveled farther, than paleoanthropologists thought.
    One report summarized by PhysOrg says, “A highly skillful and delicate method of sharpening and retouching stone artifacts by prehistoric people appears to have been developed at least 75,000 years ago, more than 50,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.”  The technique is called pressure flaking.  It allows finer control over the sharpness of stone tools.  “Pressure flaking adds to the repertoire of technological advances during the Still Bay (period) and helps define it as a time when novel ideas were rapidly introduced,” wrote researchers studying the stones in a South Africa cave.  “This flexible approach to technology may have conferred an advantage to the groups of Homo sapiens who migrated out of Africa about 60,000 years ago.”
    That story about migrating out of Africa, though, took a falsifying hit.  Science Daily reported, “An international team of researchers, including a physical anthropology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, has discovered well-dated human fossils in southern China that markedly change anthropologists perceptions of the emergence of modern humans in the eastern Old World.”  Maybe it was out of Asia instead of Africa.  The BBC News has a photo of the cave in China where the bones were found.  National Geographic News said that these bones, 60,000 years older than previous finds, “presents a strong challenge” to the out-of-Africa theory and the “traditional early-human time line”.
    Speaking of changing directions in migration, another story in Science Daily claims that fossil evidence is showing anthropoid apes colonized Africa 39 million years ago rather than evolving there.

These claims and the dates are all incestuous with evolutionary assumptions.  Fossils are real, and stone tools are real, but the stories about them are convoluted and contradictory.  Since they have told us “everything you know is wrong” year after year, why do we pay them any attention?  Are they making progress toward understanding human history?  No, they are revealing their Know-Nothing Party affiliation (10/28/2009).  Vote no on Proposition D, the evolutionary storytelling initiative of the Darwin (Know-Nothing) Party.
Next headline on:  FossilsEarly ManDating Methods
  Have evolutionary paleoanthropologists learnt their lessons from Piltdown?  Have they earnt any credibility?  See 10/18/2006.

Cells Know Their Physics     10/27/2010    
Oct 27, 2010 — At the microscopic level of cells, forces come into play that are unfamiliar to us at the macro level: quantum mechanics, Brownian motion, and subtle elastic forces that we might overlook.  Two recent papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explored physical mechanisms cells use to good advantage.  Good thing cells know their physics, or we could not exist.
    In a paper in PNAS by a team at the University of Oregon,1  Harland, Bradley, and Parthasaranthy explored the forces at work in cell membranes, which they called “nature’s most important two-dimensional fluid” composed of lipid bilayers.  What keeps the membrane intact?  “It is generally assumed, for lack of evidence to the contrary, that homogeneous lipid bilayers are simple Newtonian fluids – that is, purely viscous two-dimensional liquids incapable of an in-plane elastic response.  To the contrary, “we find that membranes are not simply viscous but rather exhibit viscoelasticity, with an elastic modulus that dominates the response above a characteristic frequency that diverges at the fluid–gel ... phase-transition temperature,” they said.  This means that the membrane is stretchy and it requires force to pull it apart.  “These findings fundamentally alter our picture of the nature of lipid bilayers and the mechanics of membrane environments.
    As for why this matters, “The fluidity of membranes is crucial to functions such as the assembly of proteins into signaling complexes and the controlled presentation of macromolecules at cell surfaces” – i.e., we could not live without membranes that know how to take advantage of viscoelastic properties.  “At the level of single proteins, rapid conformational changes on the part of transmembrane proteins such as ion channels and pumps must couple to the local lipid environment;” they said at the end of their paper; “whether this environment is viscous or elastic must therefore influence any molecular model of protein function.”  The authors did not mention evolution in their paper.
    Another team at UC Davis explored the quantum mechanics of an important molecular machine – the Complex I macromolecular complex.2  This machine employs a railroad-like piston and coupling-rod mechanism (07/07/2010, 09/22/2010) to create the proton gradient that drives ATP synthesis.  This process is vital to all life: in humans – and in respiring bacteria – it takes the energy from food and stores it as chemical energy in ATP molecules that are used like currency to pay for most of the energetic activities in the cell.  Complex I transfers two electrons from NADH and passes them like hot potatoes down a series of cofactors in the long arm of its L-shaped structure.  One of the electrons is apparently used for control, and the other gets passed 90 angstroms (a fair distance on the scale of proteins) to a ubiquinone molecule for the next stage of energy transfer.  This happens in the cell’s power plants, the mitochondria.  The electron pathway includes a flavin molecule, water molecules, and eight iron-sulfur (Fe/S) clusters in two conformations, each acting alternately as donors and acceptors of the electrons – creating an electrical current.
    Hayashi and Stuchebrukhov found that Complex I takes advantage of electron tunneling – a phenomenon in quantum mechanics – to pass the electrons down the chain.  Tunneling occurs when a particle faces an energy barrier that seems insurmountable, but makes it through somehow, because in the probabilistic world of quantum mechanics, a particle, being wavelike and having a wave function, has a probability distribution of where it might be located, due to the uncertainty principle.  There’s a certain probability the particle will be found on the other side of the barrier.  It’s as if a soldier at a castle could magically appear on the other side of the wall without climbing over it.  “In this paper we use state-of-the-art electronic structure calculations to show that the mechanism of electron transfer is quantum mechanical tunneling, as in the rest of electron transport chain;” they said.  Another surprise was that water molecules in path amplify the efficiency of transfer many-fold: “the water between subunits of complex I plays the critical role in mediating electron transport.”  Here’s how they summarized their findings:

The whole electronic wiring of complex I is obtained by combining tunneling pathways of individual processes, as shown in Fig. 3.  It is clear that specific peptide residues serve as electronic wires connecting neighboring Fe/S clusters; individual electron tunneling paths involve up to three protein residues, including two cysteine ligands and one additional key residue (Table 1).  Notably, the clusters in the protein are oriented in a specific way—corner to corner—with Cys [cysteine, an amino acid] ligands mostly pointing toward each other, which is clearly the most efficient way to transfer electrons from one cluster to another.
In addition, they noted that the “wires” employ thermodynamics to good effect: “the tunneling orbitals in the core regions are constantly changing on the time scale of thermal dynamics of the local protein environment, which is much faster than that of the slowest electron transfer.”  This “mixing” is another efficiency mechanism: “If there were no mixing of the electronic states, the incoming and outgoing electrons would tunnel from the same gateway atom of a cluster, which obviously is very inefficient because of the additional tunneling distance.”
    On top of all those efficiencies, the water molecules help even more: “With water present between the subunits, the tunneling rates are dramatically increased by two to three orders of magnitude,” they said with evident surprise and delight: “The internal water at the subunit boundaries is therefore an essential mediator for the efficient electron transfer along the redox chain of complex I.
    Did these scientists bring evolution into the story?  Only to show it had not happened here: “The key residues identified in this study as mediators of electron transfer (Table 1) are remarkably conserved among different organisms.”  To test that conservation, they watched what happened with mutants.  The electron transfer rate decreased dramatically.  All the elements of the chain appear to be precisely tuned for optimum efficiency.  Even though water can “repair” some tunneling paths if gaps are created by mutations, they were not prepared to say evolution produced this finely-tuned pathway for electrons.  “Yet there is conservation of specific residues along the paths described above, and whether it was evolutionarily determined or not remains to be examined further.”  That was all they had to say about evolution.  In essence, they shuttled off the question to someone else, but left open the possibility that it was not evolutionarily determined.  What is the alternative?
    Their concluding paragraph revealed a bit of emotion about all this: “It is remarkable that the most fundamental energy-generating machinery in cells is based on the wave properties of electrons, which allow for an efficient transport of energy-carrying particles along the chain of redox cofactors toward molecular oxygen via quantum tunneling as demonstrated by this study.”
1.  Harland, Bradley, and Parthasaranthy, “Phospholipid bilayers are viscoelastic,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print October 25, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1010700107.
2.  Hayashi and Stuchebrukhov, “Electron tunneling in respiratory complex I,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print October 25, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1009181107.
Notice the precision of these machines.  The efficiency of electron transfer in Complex I, for instance, depends on precisely-placed amino acids and water molecules down a fairly long chain.  The fact that these amino acids are “conserved” (i.e., unevolved), only means that they cannot be altered without severe consequences (like death).  It does not mean that they evolved into that configuration—that would be a logical fallacy.  Both creationists and evolutionists realize that mutations occur – a cosmic ray could hit the molecule or a gene, or an editing error could result in a different amino acid being inserted.  Many of these will cause death.  The ones that do not may allow the organism to survive and reproduce (genetic drift and stabilizing selection).  Over time, mutations can accumulate (mutational load) at rates that are not well understood (despite the evolutionary “molecular clock” that circularly depends on evolution as an assumption), but genetic drift and stabilizing selection are level or downhill processes.  They are only creative if you believe the Tinker Bell myth already (10/08/2010).  How did the first microbe even get off the starting line without Complex I and ATP Synthase already in place?  Evolutionists imagine stepping stones, but never provide them.  It’s like imagining stepping stones to Hawaii or across the Grand Canyon with no evidence – just the belief that they had to be there for evolution to get across the chasm.  Well, guess what.  Some people have no need of that hypothesis.
    The elegant, functional structures of these molecular marvels should make us stand in awe of their Creator.  Scientists dare not utter such thoughts.  Look again at that circumlocution in the second paper, “whether it was evolutionarily determined or not remains to be examined further.”  The position of the authors about evolution vs design is unknown to us, but that statement is about as close as a scientist can safely get these days to saying, “Darwin was a mush-head” and still get published in PNAS.  Thoughtful readers can look at the evidence and draw their own conclusions.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyPhysicsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
Amazing Insects Defy Evolution     10/26/2010    
Oct 26, 2010 — Two recent articles about insects call for the ring buoy on the H.M.S. Darwin.  The first is about fossil amber from India, reported by the BBC News.  “We have complete, three-dimensionally preserved specimens that are 52 million years old,” one of the discoverers announced with astonishment, “and you can handle them almost like living ones.”  The insects are so perfectly preserved they look like they could crawl out if released from their gooey prison.
    Several things about the discovery challenge conventional evolutionary wisdom.  One is that they contradict the theory of endemism, the notion that organisms living in isolation will tend to become more unique.  The insects found resemble those from other parts of the world.  Gondwana and Laurasia were supposed to have drifted apart slowly for 100 million years, but here in the Indian amber, the diversity of insects resembles specimens from Asia, Africa, and even South America.  “This means that, despite millions of years in isolation in the ocean, the region was a lot more biologically diverse that previously believed.”  To rescue the theory, the team envisioned insects flying long distances or drifting on ocean currents.
    Another challenge from these fossils is that rain forests were not supposed to exist in this region 50 million years ago.  Finding evidence of a tropical environment twice as old as previously thought, the team had to say that they hadn’t found such environments before because “fossil deposits are simply very uncommon in tropical regions.”  A photo with the article shows where the amber samples were found in lignite mines in western India.
    New Scientist also reported the story, underscoring the falsifying evidence that calls for theory revision: “India spent tens of millions of years as an island before colliding with Asia.  Yet the fossil record contains no evidence that unique species evolved on the subcontinent during this time, so India may not have been as isolated as it seemed to be.”
    Living insects defy evolution, too.  The Guardian wrote a fascinating article about honeybees’ computational abilities.  “Bees can solve complex mathematical problems which keep computers busy for days, research has shown.”  One well-known puzzle, the so-called “traveling salesman” or “Chinese postman” problem, tries to solve for the optimal route between a number of points.  If computers had to calculate every route and then try to solve for the shortest one, it could take days.  “Bees,” however, “manage to reach the same solution using a brain the size of a grass seed.”  This is, in fact, their specialty: “Foraging bees solve travelling salesman problems every day.  They visit flowers at multiple locations and, because bees use lots of energy to fly, they find a route which keeps flying to a minimum.”  It’s unclear whether bees use a heuristic algorithm (by which computers could converge on solutions more rapidly, too), but the bee succeeds somehow, and with dramatically smaller hardware.  A team at the University of London thinks humans could learn from honeybees how to solve such problems more efficiently.  “Despite their tiny brains bees are capable of extraordinary feats of behaviour,” a researcher remarked, daring not explain how evolution could have produced a brain the size of a grass seed that can challenge our best computers.
Darwinism is like the patient who has more bandages than skin, or the traveling salesman that lost money on every sale but thought he could make it up in volume.  In either case, the outcome will not be pretty.  Time for a body transplant and a new product.
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Automatic Turnstiles Found in the Cell     10/25/2010    
Oct 25, 2010 — One of the things students learn about in high school biology classes is active transport: the ability to control flow through a semi-permeable membrane.  Contrary to osmosis, in which the flow goes naturally from high concentration to low concentration, cell membranes employ active mechanisms to push or pull the molecules through their membranes according to what they need – even against the concentration gradient.  Students were often presented these concepts as simple facts of life, but only in the last decade or two have researchers developed the tools to see how cells do it.  The results are amazing.  Cells have whole families of transporters that employ a variety of mechanisms to shuttle cargo through their membranes.  The structure of one of the last “transporter” machines has finally been cracked and reported in Nature.1  Although many questions remain, it appears to act as a rocking turnstile activated by a flow of cations (positive ions).
    This transporter, called NorM, a member of the MATE family (multidrug and toxic compound extrusion), exists in all domains of life, from simple bacteria to humans.  “Cellular export of toxins and substrates is a fundamental life process,” the authors said.  Its importance is profound: in plants, it determines crop yields according to its ability to pump toxins out from the soil.  In the liver of animals, as well as in microbes, it pumps toxins out of the body.  It does such a good job that, unfortunately, it confers multi-drug resistance on some germs we would like to destroy by allowing them to pump out the medicine, or prevents targeted medicines from reaching good cells doctors would like to help.  Understanding this transporter gateway enzyme is therefore of crucial importance.
    The team’s findings, using X-ray crystallography, show NorM to be made up of 12 intermembrane helices of amino acids, arranged in two groups of six to form a cup-shaped V pattern facing outward.  When a sodium ion (Na+ enters the cup, it binds to a particular site that has “three evolutionarily conserved amino-acid side chains that can carry a negative charge due to the presence of a carboxylic acid group.”  Somehow, this binding causes the cup to flip into an inward-facing conformation just long enough for the toxin inside the cell to bind to the cup.  When the sodium ion is released, the cup flips back out, tossing the toxin outside the cell.
    Hendrick W. van Veen, commenting on this paper in Nature,1 said that this automated turnstile can pump anywhere from 14 to 1,500 molecules out per minute.  Try to imagine this little cup flipping over up to 25 times per second, each time shuttling out its unwanted cargo.  Even that, though, is slow compared to some other specialized transporter families that can pump 100,000 ions per minute, he said.  The difference is that NorM and other MATE transporters have to shuttle a wide variety of larger molecules.  The sodium ion gradient indicates that this little machine, what’s more, runs on an electrical current.
    A number of questions still remain about how NorM achieves its mechanical effectiveness.  He et al said nothing about evolution – nothing about how this mechanism came to be.  Hendrick van Veen said very little: “Over the past decade, crystallographic evidence has been obtained supporting the general concept of alternating access for a variety of membrane transporters, demonstrating that this mechanism has been evolutionarily conserved” (i.e., unevolved).  Such a statement clearly begs the question of evolution.  It also leaves unanswered the question of how the first primitive microbe could have avoided death by poison without the ability to actively, effectively, pump toxins outside its protective walls.
1.  He, Szewczyk et al, “Structure of a cation-bound multidrug and toxic compound extrusion transporter,” Nature 467, pp. 991–994, 21 October 2010, doi:10.1038/nature09408.
2.  Hendrick W. van Veen, “Structural biology: Last of the multidrug transporters,” Nature 467, pp. 926–927, 21 October 2010, doi:10.1038/467926a.
Cell biology needs evolution like a king needs a jester.  The jester may not win wars or feed the peasants, but provides some comic relief, standing there juggling balls and telling jokes about where the leopard got its spots (10/20/2010).  Bring it on, Chuck: tell us how an unguided, purposeless process arranged twelve precisely-arranged intermembrane helices of amino acids into a cup shape, provided a precise pocket for a sodium ion, figured out how to invert the cup to the inside just long enough to recognize and bind a toxic molecule, and then flip over and shuttle it out, and do this 25 times a second.  Did this all happen in a single chance miracle or a string of chance miracles?  Tell us also how all the other tens of thousands of molecular machines essential for life “emerged,” like the topoisomerases that fold DNA into compact shapes and separate the chromosomes, the winches that pull chromosomes apart, the molecular highways that transport the good cargo all throughout the cell, the DNA repair molecules, and much, much more.
    Neo-Darwinism is utterly incapable of standing up to these findings about precision molecular machines in the cell.  The Old Guard Darwinists are like the old guard communists in the former Soviet Union, who clung to their worn-out Marxist-Leninist talking points when it was clear to everyone that they didn’t work.  The Darwinist talking points, with their ridiculous notions of conservation and convergence, are a ball and chain to molecular biology.  This is the age of systems biology, reverse engineering, nanotechnology, biomimetics, information science, machine language.  Take off the ball and chain.  Run toward the future with intelligent-design gusto.
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  The Darwinists have refuted the intelligent-design “irreducible complexity” argument!  See the 10/31/2005 entry.

Biomimetics: Does It Flatter Darwin?     10/24/2010    
Oct 24, 2010 — The imitation of natural design (biomimetics) is a cutting-edge approach to engineering these days.  Many times, the reports on attempts to mimic the amazing properties of cells, plants, and animals have no time to discuss evolution (e.g., 09/24/2010).  Once in awhile, though, scientists or reporters go out of their way to tell their readers that the exquisite designs they want to imitate are the work of billions of years of evolutionary trial and error.  A press release from MIT News is a recent example – and an occasion to investigate the explanatory power of Darwin vs intelligent design.  It begins:

Nature has one very big advantage over any human research team: plenty of time.  Billions of years, in fact.  And over all that time, it has produced some truly amazing materials – using weak building blocks that human engineers have not yet figured out how to use for high-tech applications, and with many properties that humans have yet to find ways to duplicate.
Presumably the human engineers use intelligent design (ID), but want to mimic the products of an undirected natural process (evolution) acting slowly over billions of years.  That’s the thesis.  The advantage humans have is choice: they can choose their building blocks to make their materials.  That’s ID – purpose, goal, choice.
    Most of the article concerns how organisms, such as diatoms, achieve their feats.  First, they use simple local materials: “Nature ... often has to make do with whatever is readily available locally, and whatever structures have been created through the lengthy trial-and-error of evolution.”  Second, they take these local, simple materials and employ them in complex ways:
It all comes down to assembling complex structures from small, simple building blocks, Buehler explains.  He likes to use a musical analogy: A symphony comprises many different instruments, each of which on its own could never produce something as grand and complex as the combined rich, full musical experience.  In a similar way, he hopes to construct complex materials with previously unavailable properties by using simple building blocks assembled in ways that borrow from those used by nature.
The MIT team wants to follow nature’s lead: pick simple materials and creatively combine them.  A brick is a simple structure that doesn’t vary with scale.  A protein complex, however, depends heavily on how its simple parts are assembled.  Life builds hierarchical structures – patterns built on patterns at different scales.  “This paradigm, the formation of distinct structure at multiple length scales, enables biological materials to overcome the intrinsic weaknesses of the building blocks,” Buehler said.
    Evolution was left by the wayside, as the remainder of the press release focused on biomimetics.  “Buehler suggests that just as biology has done, humans could engineer materials with desired properties such as strength or flexibility by using abundant and cheap materials such as silica, which in bulk form is brittle and weak.”  The question left begging is how a living thing, like the diatom accompanying the article, could build hierarchical structures with “desired properties” by an impersonal, undirected process like natural selection.  Is evolution really an engineer?  If its method is trial-and-error, who or what decides when success has been achieved?
The answer to that last question, you evolutionists are itching to say, is “survival – adaptation.”  Caught you.  Re-read the first part of the 10/19/2010 entry.  Now, realize also, that you must purge your mind of all teleology, all purpose-driven-life concepts, all personification fallacies, to be a consistent evolutionist.  “Evolution” is not a person, nor is “Nature.”  Natural selection, furthermore, is a chance process: both the mutation part and the selection part.  Why?  Because mutations or “variations” (Darwin’s term) are clearly random, and the environment is random.  Earthquakes and landslides and meteors just happen; they have no goal to push life toward survival.  What do you get when you add chance to chance?  Chance!  Stuff happens!  If all you can say is Stuff Happens, even if you call it a law (SHL; see 12/07/2009, 09/22/2009 and 09/30/2008), it is equivalent to saying, “I haven’t the foggiest idea.”  You may now exit the Science Lab and return to your cult.
    The rest of us sensible people are wondering how evolutionists get away with this shallow tripe year after year after year.  It is illogical, absurd, nonsensical, empty, and devious.  It is dumbness taught to the dumb, and if the dumb lead the dumb, both will fall into the dumpster.
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Sunday Funnies
Laugh at this Animal Planet video, titled by Evolution News & Views, “If a Chimp Did This, Darwinists Would Claim They Figured Out How Boating Evolved.”

Weekend Grab Bag     10/23/2010    
Oct 23, 2010 — Here’s another unclassified assortment of news stories readers can follow and evaluate on their own (cf. 10/18/2010).  Take your Baloney Detector along and discern the Amazing from the Dumb.

  1. Fast Lane: Nick Lane explains how life became complex: cells invented mitochondria (Science Daily).  Gem from his paper in Nature:1If evolution works like a tinkerer, evolution with mitochondria works like a corps of engineers.”  For this he gets a royal prize (The Guardian, New Scientist).
  2. The Code Delusion: Steve Talbott tries to wean biology away from the metaphor of codes (The New Atlantis).
  3. Why, chromosome?  Nature News struggles with the apparent rapid evolution of the Y chromosome; or are they overlooking the possibility that humans did not evolve from chimps?
  4. Pick your poisonNature News does some head-scratching about convergent evolution of toxins in animals, but recommends we pick a platypus to find useful ingredients for drug design because that animal is an evolutionary newcomer.  Heart patients might like scorpions better, says PhysOrg.
  5. Dawkins talkin’:  Richard Dawkins is still worried about America becoming a theocracy, likes Obama, and is worried about Islam (Houston News Chronicle.
  6. But is it science?  Why is PhysOrg worried about the perception America is a Christian nation?
  7. Moon water:  Where did the moon get all that water?  Ask the BBC News and National Geographic, who reported on LCROSS crash test results.  Be amazed as Space.com tells us “Moon Crater Has More Water Than Parts of Earth.”
  8. Times Are a-Changing:  Check out the equatorial clouds photographed by Cassini at Titan, reported by PhysOrg and JPL.
  9. Oil remedy:  Forgotten about the Gulf oil spill already?  Maybe because microbes have cleaned up more than expected, reported Science Daily.
  10. Cool imagery:  New microscopic techniques are allowing scientists to culture cells in 3-D (Science Daily).
  11. Archaeolo-gee:  Soon you will be able to view the Dead Sea Scrolls online, reported National Geographic.
  12. Edge of space:  The most distant galaxy ever seen has been announced (BBC News), already bright at just 600,000 years after the big bang, 13 billion light-years away (redshift 8.55).
  13. Stuff Happens:  It’s official: evolutionary theory is equal to the Stuff Happens Law.  “100-million-year-old mistake provides snapshot of evolution,” PhysOrg claims.
  14. The Kipling slothScience Daily tells us “How sloths got their long neck.”
  15. Jaws and Jawless:  “Jawless evolution explained,” announced The Scientist triumphantly.  But was it?
  16. Evolve or perishNew Scientist brings together two leftist favorites: global warming and human evolution.  “Past climate change influenced human evolution,” the article claimed, but then Steve Jones was not sure that’s encouraging.  Arguing like a male chauvinist, he said “We’re not going to evolve our way out of trouble.  The answer lies in our skulls, not our testicles.”
  17. Left face:  David Horowitz described the beautiful world of academia and its open marketplace of ideas on TownHall.com.  And you thought we were serious.
  18. ALH 84001 won’t die:  Mars meteorite supporters are at it again.  PhysOrg is keeping the controversy about life in the Martian rock alive.
We will award one Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week in this entry.  Danita Brandt from Michigan State, according to PhysOrg, wants us to “Get off Chuck’s back!” (that’s Chuck Darwin).  While wanting to clear up a few misconceptions about Darwin and evolution, she may have introduced a few of her own.  Trying to explain why humans are not descended from apes, but rather from a common ancestor, though “Brandt acknowledges that the last common ancestor of humans and apes must have been ape-like,” she blurted out, “Humans are humans and apes are apes; there’s no transmogrifying one into another.  That train left the station 7 million years ago when the last ancestor common to humans and chimps climbed down from the trees and took up knitting.”
1.  Nick Lane and William Martin, “The energetics of genome complexity,” Nature 467, pp. 929–934, 21 October 2010, doi:10.1038/nature09486.
More to report than time permits.  Are you a skilled and knowledgeable reporter who likes this site?  Want to report, or help in some other way?  Write our Feedback line.  Reward: ridicule and hate from the leftist radical bigoted foam-at-the-mouth Darwin dobermans.  It brings a kind of satisfaction.
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Mind Matters     10/22/2010    
Oct 22, 2010 — The conundrum of how reasoning could have emerged by an undirected evolutionary process persists.  Atheists and materialists are convinced that natural selection is up to the task, while theists strongly disagree and use human rationality as evidence for creation by an intelligent source (usually God).  Perhaps a few recent findings can illuminate on the options.
  1. Smarter than your average bearPhysOrg reported on work by psychologists and computer scientists at University of Georgia that concluded: “New research shows people are better at strategic reasoning than was thought.”  Experiments with video games of strategy apparently showed that recursive reasoning – the ability to foresee an opponent’s moves and plan accordingly – is well-established in the human mind.  “This so-called recursive reasoning ability in humans has been thought to be somewhat limited,” the article began, “But now, in just-published research led by a psychologist at the University of Georgia, it appears that people can engage in much higher levels of recursive reasoning than was previously thought.”  In fact “they do it fairly easily and automatically” according to the head of the Georgia Decision Lab at UGA.  No attempt was made to explain how evolution produced this ability.
  2. Smart vegetarians:  Toss out the image of cavemen ripping meat with their teeth over the fire.  “Stone Age humans liked their burgers in a bun,” an article on New Scientist announced.  What this implies is that human ancestors alleged to have lived 30,000 years ago had the smarts to grind flour.  Researchers at the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Early History in Florence examined grindstones in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic, looking for signs of plant material – and found evidence of flour making, “a complex process involving harvesting roots, then drying, grinding and finally cooking them to make them digestible.”  That takes foresight, learning from experience, and well thought out procedures.  “The reason Palaeolithic humans were thought to have lived solely on wild meat, says [Anna] Revedin, is that previous plant evidence was washed away by overzealous archaeologists as they cleaned the tools at dig sites.”  She claimed hers was the “first time anybody has tried to find vegetable material on” the grindstones.
  3. Smart jewelers:  A debate over the chic of Neanderthal jewelry is going on, according to New Scientist.  An Oxford team claims that Neanderthal ornaments were really made by modern humans.  Another researcher at University of Bordeaux, though, disagrees, still thinking that other sites show sophistication in Neanderthal taste.  Reporter Michael Marshall perpetuated a stereotype by concluding whimsically, “I would suggest settling the debate with the enthusiastic use of hefty stone clubs, but that would be positively Neanderthal.”
  4. Smarter than paleoanthropologists:  500,000 years ago, human ancestors like Heidelberg Man were supposed to be emerging from the fog of animal instincts.  New Scientist reported that a fossil specimen found in Spain with a distorted pelvis indicates that the 45-year-old hunter-gatherer would have been too hunchbacked and in pain to support himself.  The researchers at the University of Madrid argue that this shows his compatriots cared for him, even though he had no way to help contribute to the survival of the fittest; “it implies a level of social support, and that he was valued by his contemporaries.”  Were values and charity already well-developed half a million years ago in the evolutionary timeline?
  5. Smarter than the herd:  Are humans just lemmings who will follow the herd over a cliff?  There’s no doubt that crowd behavior has a certain attraction for many people, but that can apparently be switched off by the force of will, according to an article on PhysOrg.  An Oxford team performed a study of Facebook behavior (a good place to look for herd instinct).  How much did users react to social influence about whether online apps became flops or hits?  “Users only appear to be influenced by the choices of other users above a certain level of popularity, and at that point popularity drives future popularity,” the article said, supporting the herd mentality, but it’s not always so simple.  The data for the study contained no information on individuals, for one thing, and as a researcher cautioned, “we simply don’t know whether this marks an important difference between offline and online behavior, or whether more detailed and comprehensive data from offline contexts will identify similar collective behaviour in settings that do not involve online environments.”
  6. Smarter than computers:  Another study on CAPTCHA (see 09/14/2008) has appeared.  The basis of this technology to discern human identity on computers (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) is the human gift of pattern recognition.  We can read cursive handwriting, even when messy – a task that gives a computer headaches.  Researchers at the University of Buffalo are trying to extend CAPTCHA to biometric signals such as hand gestures that could be used to activate devices in smart rooms, elderly living facilities, airports and other transportation venues.
  7. Smarter than philosophers:  Heavy-duty thinkers may want to analyze and critique a new theory of rationality by Philip N. Johnson-Laird published in PNAS, who said in his introduction, “The theory predicts systematic errors in our reasoning, and the evidence corroborates this prediction.  Yet, our ability to use counterexamples to refute invalid inferences provides a foundation for rationality.  On this account, reasoning is a simulation of the world fleshed out with our knowledge, not a formal rearrangement of the logical skeletons of sentences.”  That may leave a number of questions begging in the shadows.
  8. Smart about mental health:  The mind-body problem is aggravated by the recognition of mental illness and mental decline with age.  An article on Live Science may encourage those growing older (who isn’t?) to get off the couch and take a hike.  A study at the University of Pittsburgh suggests that the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease could be delayed, maybe for months or years, by walking about a mile a day.  In the end, though, we all know that gray matter that did so much thinking and reasoning during our lives is destined to turn to dust.  What then?
  9. Thinking about smartness:  What makes humans so special?  Robert Sapolsky, neurobiologist and primatologist at Stanford, shared his thoughts on Live Science.  Is it just quantity of neurons over quality?  After all, “Animals may share characteristics with humans such as politically motivated aggression, empathy and culture, but humans take them to a level without parallel among animals,” reporter Jeremy Hsu said, describing Sapolsky’s views.  Do we just have more of the same?
        It can’t be, if an article at PhysOrg draws the right metaphor: “Neurons cast votes to guide decision-making.”  According to neurobiologists at Vanderbilt University, “our brain accumulates evidence when faced with a choice and triggers an action once that evidence reaches a tipping point.”  Yet the experiments were done with monkeys, which humans would like to believe do not have reasoning minds like our own.  This is one of many experiments trying to draw links between “psychological processes and what neurons are doing.”  But then, if a better analogy is a logic circuit, who programmed the circuitry?
        Sapolsky is not worried about neurobiology reducing our humanness to mechanistic stuff.  For one thing, even if it could, “explaining everything in purely mechanistic terms would not diminish our appreciation of classical music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach or the sight of a leaping gazelle.”  For another, “Every time neuroscience comes up with an answer, it’s attached to 10 new questions, and nine of them are better than the original,” Sapolsky said.  Maybe just thinking about thinking helps answer the question.
Filmmaker Luis Nieto claims that “A well-trained monkey could do my job.”  Interviewed for New Scientist, Nieto explained why he made Capucine, a documentary shot by capuchin monkeys.  His experience led him to believe that creativity is just an illusion; it is free association, an ability innate to primates.  Monkeys have consciousness, they have sophisticated relationships with humans, and even excel at morality: “With Capucine I learned something about animals: they never lie.”  Since his job could be done by a well-trained monkey, he thinks “Maybe film-makers will soon compete for jobs against monkeys.”  That may have to wait till they invent cameras, projectors, editing equipment, sound stages, theaters, agents, directors, critics, award ceremonies and paparazzi.
This food for thought is delivered fresh by Creation-Evolution Headlines, which encourages you to think critically about each claim, evaluate the evidence, use your power of choice, exhibit honesty, and thereby prove that materialism is hopelessly incapable of explaining what you just did.  For if truth and honesty are not illusions, but really exist, which must be true to carry on this discussion, they refer to things that are timeless and universal – things in the conceptual realm that, expressed in language with semantics or meaning (which, according to our uniform experience always have an intelligent cause), can be rationally inferred to have an intelligent cause that is likewise timeless and universal.  Or, more succinctly, in the beginning was the Word (John 1:1-14).
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Creationism Won’t Die     10/21/2010    
Oct 21, 2010 — To ardent evolutionists, creationism should have died a long time ago.  Some of them are confounded, if not dumbfounded, that they cannot get rid of it.  They think (many of them) that the Dover case in Pennsylvania should have settled the issue once for all.  Well, it didn’t.  It keeps coming back like a cat that, according to New Scientist, “lives on in US public schools.”
    Reporter John Farrell puts most of the blame on the Discovery Institute, which has not been idle, he said.  According to Barbara Forrest, philosopher and long-time activist opposing Discovery, “Louisiana is the only state to pass a state education bill based on the Discovery Institute’s template,”  a policy which Farrell says “prevents Louisiana school boards from stopping schools using supplementary creationist texts hostile to evolution, such as books published by the Discovery Institute” (see loaded words).    Both Forrest and Farrell conflated creationism with intelligent design (a common Darwinist tactic), contrary to the Discovery Institute’s stated positions which distinguish intelligent design from religious beliefs that rely on sacred texts.
    Forrest is alarmed that stronger measures are at work in Louisiana to allow students more access to creationist material, “with no outcry from the media or from the scientific community,” she complained.  Farrell ended by quoting the lead attorney for Dover commenting on the impact of the ruling that was limited to Dover county’s school board.  “If we’d lost, intelligent design would be all over the place now,” Eric Rothschild worried.
    Popular and controversial TV commentator Glenn Beck touched on the issue on the campaign speech trail, according to World Net Daily, linking evolution to progressive politics.  “If God didn’t create, if things evolve, then your rights evolve.  You’re not endowed by your Creator,” he said.  “Just like you go from a monkey to a man, you go from simple rights to higher rights and somebody has to take those rights and give them to you and take them away or change them.  This is again the evolutionary thinking of progressivism.”  To him, that’s why “The left must have evolution.” (cf. 10/14/2010.)
    Speaking of a Creator, Barack Obama has famously omitted that word twice now in speeches quoting the Declaration of Independence, a slip duly noted by Beck’s news site, The Blaze.  Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, in damage-control mode (see video at World Net Daily), quickly said that “I can assure you the president believes in the Declaration of Independence.”   Whether that response controlled the damage rests on whether the public realizes that the issue was not belief in the Declaration of Independence, but in a Creator who endows mankind with rights.  And if a third slip removes all doubt, WND just reported this evening that Obama has for the third time omitted the reference to a Creator in a speech quoting the famous Jefferson line two days ago.  He did say all men are “created equal,” but then said they “are endowed ... with certain inalienable [sic] rights” (see US History.org) failing to make it clear the Creator is the source of those rights.
    Meanwhile, over at Evolution News & Views Michael Egnor, M.D., is recovering from a near-choking incident after hearing atheist P.Z. Myers say, “you don’t get to use the influence of government to help promote your cult.”  Catching his breath again, Egnor responded in his blog entry, arguing that the shoe belongs on Myers’ foot.  “The deep irony in Myers’ comment is that atheists have used the First Amendment itself, which they mischaracterize as demanding ‘a wall of separation between church and state,’ to promote their cult in public schools,” he said.  “In the atheist creed, questions about Darwinian weaknesses, let alone inferences to design in biology, comprise a heretic ‘church,’ and any challenges or even critical questions about Darwinism must be expunged from school curricula.”  Atheists have misused the First Amendment, “which was intended to prohibit government enforcement of orthodoxy and to protect free inquiry,” to bludgeon anyone who disagrees with them.  “And so the atheist cult survives, skimming new recruits from a public school system in which children are harnessed to a dozen years of indoctrination in atheism’s creation myth.”
    Neither Dover, Louisiana, or any of the other school board cases in recent years have involved trying to teach religious creationism.  The whole point about Dover was to allow students to hear a short message that other material supporting intelligent design was available in case they were interested.  Darwinism was the only view taught in the curriculum.  The Discovery Institute does not even support that approach – they only want Darwinism to be taught honestly, with critical thinking, as any scientific theory ought to be taught.
    It must also be remembered that some of the most controversial court cases over the years were won or lost by the narrowest of margins, or were overturned on appeal.  Darwinist control on education hangs on for dear life against a strong majority of Americans who feel that if arguments for Darwinism are taught, then the arguments against it should also be taught.
Judge Jones at Dover thought he had his finger safely in the dike, but don’t be so sure.  A tremendous amount of pressure has been building behind it – scientific evidence that Darwinism cannot withstand (e.g., 10/07/2010), and evidence the dike is cracking (10/19/2010, 10/03/2010).  Rothschild said that without that one victory in Dover (which only applied locally), intelligent design would be everywhere now.  That gives hope that one finger in their dike cannot stop all the leaks threatening to burst everywhere.
    When the artificial moat protecting the Darwin Castle goes, and people are free to see the foundation of quicksand and termites everywhere, there will be revulsion and astonishment at how King Charles with his imperial robes was able to put on airs for so long.  Darwinism cannot survive in free and open debate.  That’s why the Darwiniacs and other leftists (10/14/2010) ratchet up the rhetoric as they scream in pain at fingers about to turn blue.
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  Six years ago, the author of Grand Canyon: A Different View was standing up to atheist geologists who had ganged up and pressured the National Park Service not to sell a “creationist” book in the park bookstores.  He eventually won – a story of a brave individual taking on establishment science, and free speech against consensus dogma.  Learn what the ruckus was about in the 10/14/2004 entry.  Better yet, order the book.

Ring Around the Moons     10/20/2010    
Oct 20, 2010 — Saturn is known for its rings, and some small moons have been found inside its rings.  But wouldn’t it be strange if some of its moons had rings of their own?  Such a thing had not been widely considered before 2007, when there was a tentative detection of a ring around Rhea (see 03/10/2008).  That ring has not been confirmed by subsequent observations.  The thinking now, however, is that it used to be there – and not only there, but there might have been one around Iapetus, too.

  • Rhea ring tones:  Paul Schenk, planetologist at Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston and stereo animation wizard, was glad to be able to share his secrets at his blog 3D House of Satellites now that his paper in Icarus was published.1  The paper concerned color patterns on Saturn’s inner moons Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, and Rhea.  All of them show evidence of plasma stains and electron discolorations from the magnetosphere and E-ring, some on the leading hemispheres and some on the trailing hemispheres, or both.  The last section of the paper is the intriguing one: “A ring at Rhea?”  The authors acknowledged that the cameras couldn’t see a ring the plasma and magnetospheric instruments thought they had detected earlier, but Schenk noticed a chain of blue splotches along the equator, only 20 km wide, going almost all the way around the moon.  Could these be the smoking gun of a ring that was there but partly collapsed onto the surface?  “Well,” he said on his blog, “we don’t need the ring to be present today to explain the ultraviolet splotches on the surface.  They could have formed a few thousand or million years ago and still exist on the surface today.  Probably not much longer than that but that's [sic] very young for the Solar System.”
        To see these blue features that might mark impact points of ring boulders driven into the surface, look at the JPL news feature or fly over them on Schenk’s YouTube page.  Schenk’s StereoMoons blog entry from 02/25/2010 has the best close-up photos of the blue streaks.  Strangely, the orientation of the features suggest that the ring rotated in the wrong direction – retrograde to the orbit of the moon and Saturn.  Where did the particles come from?  The authors doubted that it could have been debris from one of Rhea’s largest and youngest impact craters.  Whatever the impactors were, “the strong bluish color indicates that formation occurred recently and these may be among the most recently formed features on the surface,” the paper said.  “On the other hand, the surface features we observe might date from an earlier time, as no bright rays have been observed in association with the equatorial deposits.  This would imply that sufficient time has lapsed for ray erasure to have occurred but not sufficient time to erase the blue crater rims associated with relatively young impact craters elsewhere on Rhea.”  In short, this means they don’t know.  The latter suggestion (of old age) sounds ad hoc; Schenk’s true feelings are probably reflected by his blog statement that they are “very young for the Solar System.”  Interesting how he can thrown “thousand or million” years around without blinking an eye.
  • Iapetus ring bumps:  The detection of possible ring impact debris on one moon opened up a search for others.  (On Saturn, of course, ring debris that falls into the planet disappears into the fluid clouds).  None of the other major moons have an equatorial signature like Rhea’s, but Iapetus, that walnut mimic way out in the suburbs (picture), has its mysterious equatorial mountain range (see 01/07/2005, 09/13/2007).  Schenk thinks that the evidence at Rhea supports the theory that the mountain range is debris from a collapsed ring (see Geophysical Research Letters paper by W.-H Ip).  The idea gains a little support from a couple of small moons, Atlas and Pan, that have a pronounced saucer shape that might indicate deposition of ring material during their histories (see Cassini image).  The alternative, the spin-up theory (see 03/01/2006, bullet 2), got more press from National Geographic this week.  Both the exogenic and endogenic theories require highly special conditions (e.g., 07/18/2007) that are running rings around planetary scientists.
Speaking of moons, Cassini was a “weekend warrior” on a major moon hunt last week.  It observed nine moons in just 62 hours.  A few of the early unprocessed images were posted by the Cassini Imaging Team.  The new images of Dione revealed a major area that is remarkably smooth and devoid of large craters.  “The smooth plains must have been resurfaced at some point in Dione’s past,” the caption said.  Whatever caused that must remain a story to tell.
1.  Schenk, Hamilton, Johnson, McKinnon, Paranicas, Schmidt and Showalter, “Plasma, plumes and rings: Saturn system dynamics as recorded in global color patterns on its midsize icy satellites,” Icarus, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2010.08.016.
Go, Cassini!  What a great collection of fantastic discoveries and surprises have come from this epic mission.  Schenk said, “Its [sic] times like these when I really enjoy my job.”  Keep those images and data flowing, Cassini.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating Methods
The Why and How of Leopard Spots     10/20/2010    
Oct 20, 2010 — A leopard may not be able to change its spots (Jeremiah 13:23), but maybe evolution can – if evolutionists – or Rudyard Kipling – can tell us how or why.  A headline in the BBC News promised to tell us “how the leopard got its spots,” while PhysOrg promised to reveal, “Why the leopard got its spots.”  Neither did either; neither a rule nor a mechanism was found.
    The inspiration for a study of cat fur markings was Rudyard Kipling’s Just-So Story, How the leopard got his spots.  According to the BBC story, researchers at the University of Bristol subtitled their paper in the Royal Society Proceedings B, “Why the leopard got its spots.”  They came up with a mathematical model relating species to habitat for 37 species of wild cats.  Kipling’s story, they concluded, was only half right; cats needed to camouflage themselves in the forest, but the mechanism that he said produced them (an Ethiopian imprinting them with his fingers) was a childish tale.  Unfortunately, their explanation didn’t provide much more insight, because their rule that “cats living in the trees and active at low light levels are the most likely to have complex and irregular patterns” has notable exceptions, leaving them puzzled why tigers have stripes but lions don’t, and why cheetahs have spots but don’t live in the forest.
    William Allen [U of Bristol] attempted to explain the data: “The pattern depends on the habitat and also on how the species uses its habitat – if it uses it at night time or if it lives in the trees rather than on the ground, the pattern is especially irregularly spotted or complexly spotted.”  But the BBC had to admit he only found some rough correlations: “Dr Allen’s study still fails to explain the mechanism of wild cats’ pattern development – but the scientists managed to find a set of numbers to measure the irregularity or complexity of a pattern and correlate this with where the species lives to explain its behaviour.”  Why, though, does patterning emerge and disappear “very frequently” within the cat family?  Allen said, “particular genetic mechanisms can solve very different appearances of cats,” but how?  What are these genetic mechanisms?  Genes can’t see the forest.  If evolution selects out of existence those without lucky patterns that provide camouflage, why are the results inconsistent?
    Other explanations for cat markings have fallen into disfavor.  The patterns don’t seem to be for sexual display or for social signals.  But the new study has its problems: “Although a clear link between environment and patterning was established, the study also highlighted some anomalies,” the PhysOrg article said.  “For example, cheetahs have evolved or retained spotted patterns despite a strong preference for open habitats, while a number of cats, such as the bay cat and the flat-headed cat, have plain coats despite a preference for closed environments.  Why this should be remains unclear,” he said – so unclear, in fact, that the evolutionary explanation seems unable to distinguish whether the cheetah “evolved” the spots or “retained” them.  The former notion would make the explanation circular; the latter, contrary to the expectations of natural selection.  So despite Allen’s claim that “The method we have developed offers insights into cat patterning at many levels of explanation,” it seems that evolution has done little to explain how or why the leopard got its spots.
Cataloguing and describing cat patterns is one part of science, but explaining a phenomenon is another, often harder, exercise.  Scientists don’t want to just do stamp collecting.  They want to offer insight.  (Note that finding correlations is not the same as explaining the relations).  Darwin came along and thought he could shed light on the living world.  Natural selection was a law-like mechanism that could account for all the diverse designs of life.  If he had found a law of nature, we would see consistency in results, but we don’t.  Neo-Darwinism hasn’t provided any more insight.  It just re-packaged the old darkness.  What lucky mutation occurred in what gene?  How did it correlate with the environment?  Was it really adaptive? (see 10/19/2010).  If natural selection can explain opposite results, it explains nothing at all.  What did he improve on, really, more than John Ray and Linnaeus, who saw God’s design in the adaptive patterns in living things?
    Evolutionists like to look busy: doing field work, whipping out their math tools, publishing papers.  Their answers of how and why become as elusive as a stealthy leopard in the jungle.  When all is said and done, evolutionary explanations amount to little more than just-so stories.  What Kipling’s story lacks in insight it makes up for in entertainment.  Given that insight is comparably lacking in Allen’s paper, full as it is of dry math without justification, which would you prefer reading?

Exercise:  Go to a zoo and admire the intricate patterns on animal fur – tigers, zebras, giraffes, pandas, leopards, chipmunks, ringtail cats, and more.  Consider the remarkable adaptation of each animal to its ecological niche.  Don’t ignore the ones with plain fur – the black panthers, prairie dogs, and bears.  Read the evolutionary explanations and ponder whether adaptation implies evolution (see next headline), or whether evolution is merely a narrative gloss applied in retrospect to a dazzling array of diverse phenomena.  In what cases is microevolution (sorting of pre-existing genetic information) adequate to explain adaptation as opposed to macroevolution (common ancestry with increase of genetic information)?  Does the former imply the latter? (see extrapolation).  How do genes without eyes on the environment get translated into precise geometric patterns in fur on the outside?  Look at your dog or cat while you think on these questions.
Next headline on:  MammalsDarwin and EvolutionPhilosophy of Science

Darwinism in Chaos, but Gave Us Morals     10/19/2010    
Oct 19, 2010 — Two papers on evolutionary theory create a strong tension.  One says that there is no law of evolution – just chaos.  The other claims that morality evolved out of the mess.
  1. Evolution is a theory in chaos...:  If you thought Charles Darwin brought biological evolution under natural laws, think again.  Keith Bennett on New Scientist argued, “Forget finding the laws of evolution.  The history of life is just one damn thing after another.”  His surprising article undermines the two pillars of evolution: common descent and natural selection.  Common descent, he says, was not discovered by Charles Darwin; it was stipulated by him.  It has been “accepted as a basic premise of biology since 1859.”  If it is a premise, it is an a priori assumption or axiom; it is not a finding.  Bennett left it at that.
        As for the second pillar, the claim that life “evolves by means of natural selection and adaptation,” a principle he equates with adaptationism, Bennett says it is “more controversial, but has come to be accepted over the past 150 years as the principal mechanism of evolution.”  But is it?  Microevolution is uncontroversial, he said, but “there is still huge debate about the role of natural selection and adaptation in ‘macroevolution’ – big evolutionary events such as changes in biodiversity over time, evolutionary radiations and, of course, the origin of species.”  The impact of that admission can hardly be overestimated.  Many of the bitter disputes at school board meetings across the country have occurred over the presumption that there is no controversy over evolution among scientists.  Darwinians have railed against citizens who have lobbied to “teach the controversy” about evolution.  But Bennett continued to say that a “long-running debate” about it included the famous Stephen Jay Gould, who in 1972 “challenged the assumption that evolutionary change was continuous and gradual.”  His notion of “punctuated equilibria” also challenged the expectations of adaptation to produce continuous change over long periods.
        Bennett argued instead for a “Chaos theory of evolution,” a theory that acknowledges that evolutionary changes are unpredictable, individualistic, highly sensitive to initial conditions, nonlinear, and fractal.  Even the dynamics of evolution are changing all the time, he said, meaning that even the principles of flux are in flux.  Using fossil data from the Quaternary period with its ice ages, he shows that many populations did not adapt to the changes, others adapted in unpredictable ways, and many went extinct.  Here’s how he summed up the implications of his view:
    This view of life leads to certain consequences.  Macroevolution is not the simple accumulation of microevolutionary changes but has its own processes and patterns.  There can be no “laws” of evolution.  We may be able to reconstruct the sequence of events leading to the evolution of any given species or group after the fact, but we will not be able to generalise from these to other sequences of events.  From a practical point of view, this means we will be unable to predict how species will respond to projected climate changes over next century.
    Yet it has been the great goal of Darwin and his followers ever since to bring biology under natural laws.  His ending reinforces the fact that there are none.  “In the last analysis, evolution can be likened to the description of human history as ‘just one damn thing after another,’” he smirked.  If the only law of human history is that we do not learn from history, then his analogy is apt.  What can a biologist learn from a Chaos theory of evolution?  No predictions can be made; there is no way to falsify it, there is no way to understand it.
  2. ....But it creates morality:  It’s doubtful that Franz der Waal read Bennett’s article, because he launched out in the New York Times Opinion Pages to explain how natural selection produced morality.  Taking on all creationists and moralists, he argued that moral motions emerged out of the pleasure response.  These “building blocks of morality” evolved into social instincts, he said, that increased the pleasure and survival of the group.  Drawing on observations of apes, he constructed a “bottom up morality” –
    Such findings have implications for human morality.  According to most philosophers, we reason ourselves towards a moral position.  Even if we do not invoke God, it is still a top-down process of us formulating the principles and then imposing those on human conduct.  But would it be realistic to ask people to be considerate of others if we had not already a natural inclination to be so?  Would it make sense to appeal to fairness and justice in the absence of powerful reactions to their absence?  Imagine the cognitive burden if every decision we took needed to be vetted against handed-down principles.  Instead, I am a firm believer in the Humean position that reason is the slave of the passions.  We started out with moral sentiments and intuitions, which is also where we find the greatest continuity with other primates.  Rather than having developed morality from scratch, we received a huge helping hand from our background as social animals.
    Taking that cue from David Hume, he argued that religion came in as a latecomer and stole the credit for sanctioning these evolved behaviors.  He admitted, though, that no human culture has been studied that was never religious.  “That such cultures do not exist should give us pause.
        Interestingly, however, though he believes science no longer needs God to explain how we got where we are today, he ended by supporting religion’s role in society.  “I doubt that science and the naturalistic worldview could fill the void and become an inspiration for the good,” he concluded.  “Any framework we develop to advocate a certain moral outlook is bound to produce its own list of principles, its own prophets, and attract its own devoted followers, so that it will soon look like any old religion.”
So on the one hand, Bennett claimed that evolution is completely unpredictable and not necessarily adaptive, and on the other hand, der Waal argues that morality was a natural adaptation to social populations.  Can these disparate views be reconciled?  A heated set of comments followed the second article.  Should schools “teach the controversy”?
Bennett has reaffirmed something said often here: Darwinism is the Stuff Happens Law (SHL) in disguise.  If universal common ancestry is a premise, then it is a deduction from a chosen world view, not a science.  And if macroevolutionary changes are not adaptive, natural selection reduces to “stuff happens,” the absence of an explanation (see 10/03/2010).  Thank you, Dr. Bennett, for affirming the demise of evolution as a theory in chaos.
    As for Franz der Waal’s attempt at putting a narrative gloss on his a priori commitment to naturalism, it doesn’t work, and it can’t work.  There is no law inherent in producing moral motions in any population, because natural selection has no direction, no goal, no predetermined outcome.  An impersonal, unguided universe could not care less whether it produces Disneyland or a world of all against all.  What’s more, you can’t believe that morality is good or normative without begging the question.  An anonymous commenter said, “The basic problem with De Waal’s approach (as so many other sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists) is that if altruism is simply an evolved trait, then so is genocide.  If helping the old lady across the street is an evolved trait, then so is raping the young woman in the dorm.... both are simply acting according to the moral character given to them by evolution.”  Q.E.D.  He pointed out also that there is a distinction between viewing God as the source of morality (as stated, for instance, in the Declaration of Independence) and religion as a source of morality.  These separate issues must not be confused.
    Bennett and de Waal illustrate the bankruptcy of evolution as a scientific approach to biology, and the shallow thinking of Darwinians pretending to be philosophers.  You can’t get there from here, and evolution doesn’t even know where here or there is.  Stuff happens?  Science was supposed to do better.  If Hume and de Waal really believed that reason is the slave of the passions, then the rest of us should most passionately reject their views as unreasonable.
Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionPolitics and EthicsBible and TheologyPhilosophy of Science
  How could an undirected process like evolution produce “fast-forward scanning”?  That sounds like a goal-seeking activity with foresight and purpose.  Read about how the ribosome does this in the 10/23/2003 entry.

A Dozen Leftovers     10/18/2010    
Oct 18, 2010 — Here’s a rapid-fire list of links to science stories that looked interesting, but were filling up our backlog.  Thinkers, bloggers and reporters might want to do what they want with them.

  1. Baby born after 20 years as a frozen embryo: PhysOrg.
  2. Where dinosaurs died reveals how they lived: Live Science.
  3. Clues included in diamonds: PhysOrg; but did they look for carbon-14?
  4. Neptune was incapable of sending asteroids out to the edge: Science Daily.
  5. Crystal cave in Mexico: great photo gallery on National Geographic.
  6. NASA has a busy “year of the solar system” on tap: PhysOrg.
  7. Talk about global warming: the universe overheated, according to Science Daily.
  8. Earliest land plant in Argentina? BBC News.
  9. Fish were first to have sex: Discovery Channel.
  10. The case of the cannibal T. rex: Live Science.
  11. Giant pterosaurs might have flown 10,000 miles nonstop: National Geographic.
  12. Monkeys try to make a movie: New Scientist.
These 12 stories would have been classified under more than 12 Chain Links, but the catch-all categories Amazing and Dumb will have to suffice for now; readers can pigeonhole them into one or the other.
The list provides a small taste of the dozens of headlines, stories, papers, and claims that have to be evaluated each day for a chance to be reported on Creation-Evolution Headlines.  Which one(s) would have won Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week?
Next headline on:  Amazing FactsDumb Ideas
Biomimetics Frontier: The Wild Wet     10/18/2010    
Oct 18, 2010 — Some animals have figured out how to turn wetness into an ally instead of a nuisance, and some research teams are hard on their heels trying to learn how to settle that frontier.
  1. Wet feet:  Geckos cling to walls and ceilings even when their feet are wet.  How do they do it?  It would be nice to know, because human adhesives typically get gooey and slippery when wet.  Kellar Autumn, the one who figured out how their feet cling to surfaces using atomic van der Waals forces, has been studying the effects of moisture on gecko feet.  According to Science Daily, he and his team at Lewis and Clark College figured out via experiments on discarded gecko setae that the cling isn’t due to capillary action.  Composed of keratin, the setae become softer when moist.  This makes them deformable and creates more adhesion, giving the animals an even better grip than their remarkable cling on dry surfaces.
  2. Wet silk:  Another “completely counterintuitive” discovery was made about wet silk from silkworms.  Most man-made substances become more diffuse when wet, but silk becomes more concentrated.  Researchers at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Sweden, working with others from Oxford, first found that the silk proteins are hundreds of times more concentrated inside the silkworm than most proteins can be and remain stable.  “Even stranger, as the concentration drops the proteins begin to expand and flow, until they eventually clump together — this is the reverse of what we’d expected,” a team member said, according to Science Daily.
        Silkworms exceed the capabilities of the scientists to control this substance.  The scientists lose control when the proteins get diluted.  “In the lab, the effect is a like a neat ball of string becoming unravelled into a big mess that ties itself in knots,” the article said.  “However, the silkworms are able to control this process so that the proteins are spun into highly ordered silk filaments as they unfold and begin to flow.  This surprising observation is a vital step towards understanding the liquid precursor, which is essential to synthesise silk and develop new materials with silk’s desirable mechanical properties.
  3. Wet backs without sunburn:  Somehow little creatures called water fleas can live under UV radiation in their clear watery habitat without getting sunburn.  PhysOrg described how they manage without extra melanin – the dark protein that provides some UV protection in human skin.  The article did not explain how the water flea Daphnia does this trick in its Olympic Mountain pond environment.  Scientists at the University of Washington would like to know. 
Brooks Miner, who is using National Science Foundation funds to study the water flea, is learning his Darwin storytelling well.  Faced with no explanation for how the bugs shield themselves from ultraviolet light, he said, “It could be that they evolved to use other strategies because the ultraviolet isn’t as intense here.”  According to this notion, melanin slows down their growth, so “the water fleas in the Olympic Mountains apparently evolved less-costly means to deal with UV radiation.”  How they did that, he did not say.
Miner’s little transgression illustrates how Darwinists take irrefutable evidence for design and subvert it into Darwinian storytelling, not because the evidence demands it (quite the contrary), but because the culture of storytelling Darwin created with his “one long argument” tall tale makes it a kind of expected tradition.  For more examples of this besetting sin of the Darwin Party, listen to Casey Luskin on an ID the Future podcast describe how several more of Nature’s list of “Evolutionary Gems” (see 01/02/2009) turn out to say, when the original sources are examined, almost nothing about evolution, but only add a “narrative gloss” to the explanation in spite of the evidence.  Meanwhile, the de-facto I.D. science of biomimetics marches on.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyBiomimeticsPhysicsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
SETI: To the Unknown, Full Speed Ahead     10/16/2010    
Oct 16, 2010 — This year marks the 50th year of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).  Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute and one of its most outspoken spokesmen, made the cover of Sky and Telescope’s November 2010 issue.  He stands proudly over his Allen Telescope Array in his feature story, “Closing in on E.T.” celebrating “SETI: 50 Years and Beyond.”  He also got space on the Sky & Telescope website to discuss “The Future of SETI.”  They’re mostly technology articles, discussing the old and new ways of looking for signals as hardware and software improves.  Did he say anything to scientifically justify the search?  Not much.
    “Despite a half-century of SETI experiments,” he began in the print article, “we still don’t know if there’s anyone out there as clever as we are.”  The web article began, “As far as we know, we’re alone in the universe.”  No sense looking close by, he continued: “But nearby life, if it exists at all, is undoubtedly dumb.  If we want to look for smarter extraterrestrial biology – the kind that could rival or perhaps far surpass us humans for reasoning, inventing, and building – we have to look much farther afield, among the stars.  And we don’t know where.”
    What keeps him going is the fact that even the best current searches are sampling only a paltry amount of space in one galaxy – our Milky Way – out of billions.  Shostak’s articles provide an entertaining way to learn all about radio waves, optics, antennas, statistical search strategies and interferometry.  He assumes that every reader wants to find aliens – indeed, many in the public find it fascinating and think it worthwhile.  But what is really important about this search program are the philosophical and possibly theological implications for a successful detection of alien intelligence.  About this, he said nothing.  Neither did Paul Shuch of the SETI League, a group of radio amateur SETI enthusiasts, who added another article in the November issue about their ham radio approach to detection.  “So far the SETI League’s search has been exactly as successful as every other SETI project!” he beamed whimsically, aware that they are “hearing nothing.”  The fun is in just trying.
    “There’s no denying that SETI is an uncertain enterprise,” Shostak said, hedging his bets a little.  “No one can tell when or if success will ever come.”  He placed his SETI crew in the tradition of great explorers, “akin to that of Christopher Columbus as he sailed past the breakwaters of Palos de la Frontera in August 1492 and headed into the rolling swells of the Atlantic” – i.e, at just the start of the trip.  “It’s still very early days, and the great excitement lies before us.
    Columbus, however, had high confidence in success at landing somewhere.  Columbus knew that China was out there, and it had Chinese intelligences willing to trade their goods.  Shostak and most SETI enthusiasts base their entire hopes on a sample of one – human beings – whom they assume evolved from particles.
    The same positivist confidence was palpable in a NASA Astrobiology symposium this week, featuring panelists and scientists working on various aspects of the origin of life.  It seemed only a matter of time before we find life of some kind, intelligent or not.  One questioner in the audience, however, offered up a question that only got blank stares: what if life is not found?  The panelists had apparently not given much thought to the possibility of failure.
    David Grinspoon, who was on the webcast, also wrote about this in the November Sky & Telescope in the context of discussing a strange ballot initiative in Denver seeking to set up an “Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission” (see campaign website, something Grinspoon, an ardent astrobiologist, opposes because of its alien conspiracy leanings.  But he had this to say about the possibility of not finding life out there:
I do believe in aliens – as much as I can, being a scientist – believe in anything without actual evidence.  A universe teeming with life is consistent with what we have learned about the history of the Earth, the apparent requirements for life, and the materials and environments that exist elsewhere in the universe.  Given all this, to propose that life, and even intelligent life, is unique to Earth seems the scientifically less plausible condition.
Yet anything can seem plausible in the absence of evidence.  His wording did not rule out an intelligent cause for extraterrestrial life, but later he did say, “To think deeply about the possibility of alien intelligence we need to ponder our origin, evolution, and uniqueness.”  He ended by encouraging “critical thinking and teaching people how to evaluate evidence and avoid being taken in by bogus claims.”  Apparently he was thinking of extraterrestrial conspiracies – not his own belief in aliens.
    The editor of Sky & Telescope, Robert Naeye, was less hopeful in his opening editorial to the SETI issue.  He even considered humans as potentially unique: “Given the lack of reproducible evidence for E.T., and that humans have a highly anomalous combination of abilities that makes us unique in our planet’s history, I wouldn’t be surprised if the closest technological civilization lives in another galaxy,” he said.  We need to “keep our minds wide open,” he continued, jesting, “but not so open that our brains fall out.”  His pessimism was a foil for the confidence of Shostak and Shuch.  “The history of astronomical discovery suggests that if we ever detect another civilization, it will probably be serendipitous.  Unfortunately, I don’t expect this to happen in my lifetime.
Secularists and the religious know so little about what is out there, it is foolhardy to be dogmatic.  There is no basis for making rational estimates from either an evolutionary or a theistic position.  Consider the extremes: to an evolutionist, life could be common or unique.  To a theist, life could be common or unique.  The evolutionist would be more surprised if life is unique, and some theists might be surprised if life is common, but no firm prediction can be made either way.  No matter the result, both camps will doubtless find a way to incorporate it into their world view.
    So isn’t it better to do something and search?  Won’t this alleviate our ignorance?  The diagrams in Shostak’s article are not encouraging.  Even with the Allen Telescope Array’s expanded reach, the search space is a relatively small sphere in one spiral arm of the Milky Way.  It has taken years and millions of dollars to search that far.  Would people still be giving money in 2079 if nothing has been detected by then?  What are the criteria for failure?  The public cannot be led along the primrose path forever.  Undoubtedly some spin-off benefits will come in radio and optical technology and in software design, but those could be found through traditional science.  But you can’t have a science without evidence.  Shostak is doing a great job demonstrating the sophistication of his ignorance.
    The history of science can provide illuminating examples.  The classic case is alchemy.  This “science” was highly respected for centuries.  Even the great Isaac Newton dabbled in it with some passion.  Alchemists used the tools of chemistry to search for a hidden reality that existed only in their mind’s eye: the possibility of turning base metals into gold.  They had much of the same intense confidence in their quest seen in today’s SETI folk.  They felt they were getting warmer, and warmer, and their tools and techniques better and better.  It was only a matter of time.  And they knew gold existed!  SETI doesn’t even know that much.  They know humans exist, but humans are not aliens in the way they think of them evolving independently.  Alchemy finally had to be abandoned, as real chemistry began to supplant it.  It was eventually deemed a pseudoscience.  It had never been a science in the first place.
    What if SETI succeeds?  Will it then become a science?  Will the years leading up to detection count as scientific work?  Perhaps.  But what if it fails?  Like alchemy, will it be abandoned or replaced with a new science acknowledging human uniqueness?  Nobody knows.  All we can say for now is that, like alchemy, it is not a science merely for using the tools of science, because no evidence exists for life beyond the earth, let alone intelligent life (08/12/2010).  SETI could be a fool’s errand.  With no criteria for failure, with no end-point in sight, it will look more and more foolish as time goes on, while its proponents can always claim they are getting warmer.  It’s been 50 years so far.  How much time do they get?  A century?  A millennium?  Eventually watchers will complain that SETI has become a perpetual job-security gimmick.
    By assuming that detectable physical signals carrying a message with purposeful intent might exist, and by employing their intelligence to make contact with it, SETI researchers are accomplishing something many of them would resent hearing: they are validating the legitimacy of intelligent design science (12/03/2005), and they are recognizing their own uniqueness as rational, mindful creatures capable of acting with purpose and intent.  This is something that an unguided process like natural selection is incapable of generating.  Intelligence must be viewed as existing in the conceptual realm, not the physical realm.  The conceptual realm presupposes immutability and integrity.  For greatest likelihood of success, therefore, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence should begin looking in places where the purpose that brought sentience into the physical realm has been revealed.
Next headline on:  SETIOrigin of LifeIntelligent DesignMind and Brain
  Last year, right at the peak of hoopla over Darwin’s anniversary, Darwinism unraveled.  A scientist reporting in Science revealed that everything they thought they knew about evolution is wrong.  Re-read the important 10/16/2009 entry.  Does this mean we should take “Evolution” out of “Creation-Evolution Headlines”?

Babbage’s Computer May Be Built     10/15/2010    
Oct 15, 2010 — The “Analytical Engine,” a 19th-century computer conceived by Charles Babbage, may finally be built 140 years after his death.  The remarkable contraption was to be powered by steam and would fill a warehouse, but the eccentric old man could not get the Royal Society to back it.  His idea, 100 years ahead of its time, would be a true general-purpose computer, able to solve any problem expressible in numerical algorithms.  It would take instructions with punched cards, operate a CPU, use memory, and print output, just like early computers in the mid 20th century.  Given the technology and parts available in the mid 19th century, however, it was a dream far in advance of its time.  His son tried but was unable to get the plans off the ground.  Others also attempted the project but failed.
    The BBC News reported that interest is growing in bringing the “inspirational piece of equipment” to reality, for its historical interest if not for its ability to compete with modern computers.  “A hundred years ago, before computers were available, [Babbage] had envisaged this machine,” a leader of the effort said.  A real working model would answer “profound historical questions,” a historian of computer technology remarked; “Could there have been an information age in Victorian times?  That is a very interesting question.”  Now, with distributed planning and world-wide cooperation, Babbage’s historic computer might just become a reality.

Too bad this contemporary of Darwin did not get his project off the ground.  If the information age had begun in Darwin’s day, perhaps it would have taken the steam out of the idea of random variation producing complexity.  Read our online biography of Charles Babbage – a Christian scholar who would have been comfortable with Intelligent Design theory – for a really entertaining look at a fascinating visionary whose ideas would eventually triumph and change the world.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignPhilosophy of ScienceAmazing Facts
Migrating Whales Fertilize the Sea     10/15/2010    
Oct 15, 2010 — Two recent discoveries about whales show them to be not only benign but beneficial.  PhysOrg reported on work at the University of Vermont that indicates whale waste carries nitrogen nutrients to the depths of the ocean, fertilizing the food chain and increasing the production of ocean fisheries.
    In another article on PhysOrg, a humpback whale has broken the distance record for any mammal.  A female photographed off Brazil in 1999 was found at Madagascar two years later – having traveled 6,125 miles.  She probably did a whale of a job fertilizing the sea en route.  And if their theory that she was in search of a mate is true, we can add faithful love to the whale’s growing list of admirable qualities.
The largest animals that have ever lived on this planet are useful as well as ornamental, valuable as well as voluminous, constructive as well as well constructed.  Thank God for whales.  How did the oceans ever survive before that first cow sprouted flippers and took to the sea?  Just kidding.  (They’re not.)
    If humans are mammals, maybe they should be included in the contest.  The Apostle Paul, for instance, is said to have walked and sailed some 13,500 miles on his missionary journeys.  If airplanes count, the average American business executive with Far East connections blows whales out of the water in his annual migrations.  Well, are we part of nature or not?  And why aren’t the whales keeping records on the humans?
Next headline on:  MammalsMarine BiologyAmazing Facts
Institutional Science as a Leftist Cabal     10/14/2010    
Oct 14, 2010 — Something strange happens in scientific journals and reports.  Whenever they talk politics, it is almost always from a leftist point of view.  Why is that?  Did they arrive at that position by the scientific method?  Is there something about the need for government funding that drives institutions to a leftist position?  Whatever the reason, it’s not hard to find evidence that the secular science media have a pronounced blue streak.
    Nature is a prime example.  It’s latest Editorial decries “hyper-partisan fighting” but worries about what a Republican victory in Congress will mean for science.1  The editorial advocates the president’s health-care bill, cap and trade, and embryonic stem cell research – all leftist agenda items unpopular with the majority – and blames Republicans for obstruction of progress: e.g., “The current Congress has failed to pass cap-and-trade legislation designed to limit US greenhouse-gas emissions, thanks chiefly to strong Republican opposition.”  No Democrats were blamed for the political “poison.”  Democrats were not even named, while Republicans were mentioned three times, always in a negative light.
    Nature also publishes letters to the editor designed to make conservatives look bad.  In the latest issue, Richard Kool [Royal Roads U, British Columbia] claimed that science is a “threat to the far-right fringe.”2  He said, “The scorn of the US far-right ‘Tea Party’ fringe for science, particularly relating to sustainability, climate change and biodiversity, stems from a perceived threat to its idealized views of how the world should be.”  By implication, leftists have no idealized views of how the world should be.  He mentioned Climategate only to smear the conservatives who pointed it out, claiming they used the scandal to “discredit science as a method for understanding the world.”  Compare this with a BBC News story about reforms taking place at the IPCC in the wake of the scandal.
    A news story in Nature evaluated the effect the Tea Party movement may have on science funding.  Ivan Semenjuk mentioned “It is difficult to predict how all this will affect scientists and the government agencies that fund them,” and worried about conservative candidates coming to Washington who “are less committed to funding science research and education, and who lack ‘the general science and technology savvy’ to make informed decisions.”  By implication, only leftists and Democrats have scientific savvy and are informed.  Note the contrast: “In the current Democrat-controlled Congress, science was given plenty of attention in spite of the economic crisis.”
    Three other news articles in the same issue of Nature depicted Republicans as obstructionists.  Jeff Tollefson, for instance, ended his article with quotes from Paul Bledsoe, whom he called a centrist: “Climate-science denial is a by-product of extreme partisanship and a kind of reactionary mode among conservatives, and I expect that this will wane," he said.  “But if large parts of the Republican Party begin to deny consensus science, then the climate community will have to confront them about it.”4.  Similarly, Heidi Ledford portrayed Republicans as attackers of health-care research,5 standing in the way of the president’s health-care bill, which was actually strongly opposed by almost two thirds of American voters, and succeeded only with back-room deals and presidential arm-twisting last March even though Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.  And Emily Waltz reported about unhappy scientists who are upset that Barack Obama, ranked the farthest-to-the-left Senator before he was elected President, who “promised a new era of integrity and openness for American science” after the election, has not worked faster to undo former President George W. Bush’s policies.6
    In each of these articles, “science” was presented as a unilateral consensus in favor of policies that many Americans, particularly conservatives, consider leftist, costly, of doubtful scientific credibility, or even immoral (in the case of embryonic stem cell research; see 01/31/2009, 09/26/2010).  But that’s just Nature.  Do other science publications follow this leftist political line?  New Scientist gave unrestrained print space to Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science.  Mooney now claims that the “Tea Party [is] luring US into adventures in irrationality” (cf. 02/27/2010 commentary).  And why is that?  Because many of them doubt the consensus about man-made global warming (cf. 05/25/2010).  This was enough for Mooney to launch into tirades about “patriotic extremism,” disdain for science, anti-intellectualism, paranoia, and “conspiratorial fantasy” among conservatives, even though the Tea Party includes Democrats and independents fed up with big government.  The BBC News reported that scientists are calling for “defence cuts” in order to fund scientific research.
    It would be hard to find any pro-Republican, pro-conservative science article in the secular news media.  Pro-conservative views tend to be aired only on sites that question Darwinian evolution, such as the intelligent design blog Evolution News & Views.  This clear lopsidedness in reporting indicates that there is something fundamental about world views which either embrace or criticize evolution that bleeds over into other subjects, like political philosophy, economics, and morality (07/23/2010).  Another factor may be whether the spokesperson is on the giving or receiving end of the public dole (05/18/2009).
    A prominent fellow of the American Physical Society, Harold Lewis, illustrates something of the tension between the individual scientist and the scientific institutions.  Lewis wrote an indignant letter explaining why he was resigning after 67 years (see IPCC).  He felt that fund-grubbing had corrupted the society and its scientific practice so thoroughly that the APS no longer represented him or its original values.  Describing the society’s response to the Climategate affair, “the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist” Lewis deplored the pompous airs of the leadership, “as if the APS were master of the universe,” he complained.  “It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is.  This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.”  The APS responded denying the allegations; however, Lewis’s long tenure with the APS and impressive list of credentials cannot be easily dismissed.  Long-time TV meteorologist Anthony Watts dissected the APS response and documented contradictions with a number of its claims to openness, integrity, and scientific rigor.
1.  Editorial, “Politics without the poison,” Nature 467, p. 751, 14 October 2010, doi:10.1038/467751a.
2.  Richard Kool, “Science as a threat to far-right fringe,” Letters to the Editor, Nature 467, p. 788, 14 October 2010, doi:10.1038/467788d.
3.  Ivan Semenjuk, “News: US midterm elections: Volatile forces shape US vote,” Nature 467, 759-760 (published online 13 October 2010), doi:10.1038/467759a.
4.  Jeff Tollefson, “News: US midterm elections: A chilly season for climate crusaders,” Nature 467, p. 762 (published online 13 October 2010), doi:10.1038/467762a.
5.  Heidi Ledford, “News: US midterm elections: Opponents battle health-care research,” Nature 467, p. 763, (published online 13 October 2010), doi:10.1038/467763b.
6.  Emily Waltz, “News Feature: Science & politics: Speaking out about science,” Nature 467, pp. 768-770 (published online 13 October 2010), doi:10.1038/467768a.
Readers are encouraged to find examples that contradict the claim that pro-Darwin, secular science writers in the mainstream media and scientific institutions are predominantly leftist.  There are sure to be some, but the leftist slant is, in our experience, so predictable that exceptions prove the rule (see 05/13/2010).
    So is the left really “pro-science” and the right “anti-science”?  Hopefully our graduates of Baloney Detecting University are more skilled than to accept such false dichotomies, and our graduates of the history of science know better.  Define science.  Separate science as a concept from scientific institutions (06/25/2010).  The latter often have soiled hands, being dependent either directly or indirectly on the public dole.  Any institution that must fight for its survival on keeping government money flowing will necessarily promote big government and higher taxes – hallmarks of the left.  Consequently they will try to portray science in terms of consensus, a monolithic entity composed of all those who stand to gain from public funding of their pet projects (cf. 09/15/2010).  We speak here of the leadership, publicity and lobbying arms of such institutions; at any given institution there is undoubtedly a mix of liberals and conservatives at work.
    The arrogance of some of these people is astounding.  They act like they own public money, that they are entitled to it.  How would they like it if other citizens of this country – say Tea Party members – walked into their houses and demanded tribute, claiming it was owed to them?  Public money is a limited commodity.  It needs to be collected and spent wisely by a representative government according to well thought out priorities.  The case needs to be made every year for why certain projects deserve funding, and these projects must have an understandable link to public interest.  Numerous commentators write about wasteful spending on science (example at Wall Street Journal).  Do we want $100,000 of taxpayer money going to UC Irvine scientists to study how US and Chinese students play World of Warcraft? (see Orange County Register).  Some will remember former Senator Proxmire’s “Golden Fleece Awards” for wasteful spending.  SETI was a winner back in the 1980s.  Its proponents have had to survive on private funds ever since, though NASA pulled in millions for Astrobiology with the Martian Meteorite “useful lie” back in the 1990s (see 01/07/2005 commentary).
    Many worthwhile science projects, such as space exploration and cancer research, cannot be done by citizen scientists or private enterprise.  Large research labs and universities will of necessity need foundation grants or government funds (but look how entrepreneurs are making inroads into space flight).  Those paying the bill, whether the US government or foundations, have the right to decide what projects are in their interest.  Oversight and scrutiny over spending should be valued, because hubris leads to fraud and abuse, which ultimately damages the reputations of scientific institutions.  What if whistleblowers had not found the errors in Climategate?  Contrary to what Chris Mooney thinks, he should welcome the input of conservatives as a necessary check on power.  Scientists, after all, are only human (02/17/2010).
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsPhilosophy of ScienceMedia
  Any evolutionary smart aleck told us how not to teach evolution: see the 10/21/2008 entry and commentary.  Teachers and parents beware.

Living Fossils Found in Space     10/13/2010    
Oct 13, 2010 — A type of galaxy that should have only existed long ago is alive and well nearby, astronomers from Swinburne University are claiming.  “The Swinburne researchers have likened the galaxies to the ‘living dinosaurs’ or Wollemi Pines of space – galaxies you just wouldn’t expect to find in today’s world,” said Science Daily.
    Very turbulent galaxies were thought to represent early stages in the evolution of our universe, the article claimed.  Something’s wrong, then.  “Their existence has changed our ideas about how star formation is fuelled and understanding star formation is important,“ Professor Karl Glazeburg said.  “Just look at the Big Bang, which is how we all got here.

Maybe that is how he got here, but the rest of us think we got here by design.  Prof. Glazeburg and the biological Darwinists lose credibility when data that should have falsified their notions get recast in new rhetorical schemes, like “living fossils” – a contradiction in terms.  If they’re alive, maybe they were never dead as long as claimed.  Would you trust an antique dealer who guaranteed that a certain grandfather clock was only made in 1789, but then you find a Sony part number on the back, and he exclaims, “Well, I’ll be darned!  A living fossil!”?  Then why do we grant the time of day to these evolutionary salesmen?  A lot of things have gone terribly wrong with their scenarios, but they never repent, never come clean, never admit they have no idea what they are talking about.  So when you read that the universe “likes to form galaxies similar to the Milky Way” (Science Daily) or that rapid star formation was a teenybopper thing (PhysOrg), have a little skepticism, OK?  Data are one thing; interpretations are something else; cute stories are sales gimmicks.
Next headline on:  CosmologyStars and AstronomyDumb Ideas
Hairy Bacteria Walk and Talk     10/12/2010    
Oct 12, 2010 — Little hair-like projections on some bacteria, nearly invisible with light microscopes, are not just for decoration.  They do amazing things – as a pair of recent discoveries brought to light.  They help bacteria walk and talk.
  1. But can they dance?  Bacteria swim, but they also land on surfaces – and when they do, they put out little legs and walk.  This fascinating discovery, discussed on Science Daily, was made at UCLA.  The legs are called “type IV pili” in Pseudomonas, some of which cause diseases in humans.  “What enables this upright walking are appendages called type IV pili, which function as the analog of legs,” the article said.  “What’s more, walking allows P. aeruginosa to move with trajectories optimized for surface exploration, so that they can forage more effectively.”
  2. Social network:  Some bacteria are “wired” with their own electrical intranet.  This was announced also by Science Daily in an article titled, “Bacteria Grow Electrical Hair: Specialized Bacterial Filaments Shown to Conduct Electricity.”  Tiny microfilaments extend out between bacteria to provide a means of communication and mutual support – a kind of cellular FaceBook system.  These create large “living biological circuits” (see Live Science) made of “biological nanowires” that function just like social networks.  “This is the first measurement of electron transport along biological nanowires produced by bacteria,” a researcher said.
        Science Daily explained, “A bacterial nanowire looks like a long hair sticking out of a microbe’s body.  Like human hair, it consists mostly of protein.”  Imagine if people communicated through their nanowires hair.  For bacteria, these networks are like a lifeline.  They exchange electrons, allowing bacteria to “breathe” and also communicate.
        Microbes were already known to communicate with chemical signals.  The nanowire networks apparently provide a faster channel.  Said one of the researchers of the wired net, in stressful situations or when survival is at stake, “You want the telegraph, you don’t want smoke signals.”  One can only guess at what they are saying.  Do they speak in Morse code?  “The current hypothesis is that bacterial nanowires are in fact widespread in the microbial world,” he added.
Humans tend to fear bacteria because of the few nasty kinds that cause disease, but many of these mechanisms at work in the microbial world may actually be beneficial.  That growing feeling extends to viruses, too.  Science Daily in another article spoke of a burgeoning field of “physical virology” that might allow doctors to employ viruses as “natural nanoparticles” for targeting therapeutic agents to cells, and another article in Science Daily discussed using “friendly bacteria” to treat bone cancer.  Could the germs we fear have had a function for good in the beginning?  Food for thought.  Answers in Genesis presented a lengthy article examining possible pathways how some beneficial E. coli and other bacteria might have degenerated into agents of disease.
Darwin was obsessed with the appearance of natural evil in the world, because his acquaintance with natural theology did not take the Fall and the curse of sin seriously.  William Paley, for all his good reasoning, tried to use induction from the happy things in nature to a benevolent God.  Darwin saw design, but then looked at the suffering and disease everywhere.  Since he could not reconcile parasitism and disease with a benevolent God, he fell away from Paley’s view that originally was a strong influence in his thinking, and decided that design was just an illusion.  So he came up with an even more miracle-working god – chance!
    Without understanding sin and judgment, one cannot correlate the irrefutable evidence of design with the existence of evil.  The world is like a bombed city, with relics of its original goodness clearly evident, but with the marks of judgment just as clear.  The Creator does not plan to make this world a better place.  He is going to destroy it and build a new one (II Peter 3:3-13).  In the meantime, He has left enough marks of good design to put individuals on trial without excuse for denying His existence (Romans 1:16-22), and yet in His grace has provided enough happiness to motivate all people to seek Him (Acts 14:8-18, Acts 17:22-30).  The gospel is a means to escape this present evil world destined for judgment, for a new creation in which righteousness dwells (II Peter 3:11-13).
    Evolutionists mock at this, of course.  OK, take their answer: design is just an illusion.  Machinery emerges.  Weird stuff just happens sometimes (10/03/2010).  Evil doesn’t exist.  Everything came from nothing and is going nowhere.  Morality is a myth because it came from an undirected process of natural selection (10/10/2010).  Be consistent, now, and thank that E. coli when it lays you low, because it is merely showing it is more fit than you.  And no fair taking a stand on any moral issue, including the environment and climate change: the words ought and should are not in the Darwin Dictionary.  Take a random walk in Afghanistan; maybe the mutation-enhancing bullets will do you some good, whatever that word means.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHealthAmazing Facts
Brain Rewires for Lost Senses     10/11/2010    
Oct 11, 2010 — Born without vision or hearing?  The brain can apparently rewire itself to accommodate the loss, reported the BBC News.  Dr Stephen Lomber, who led research published in Nature Neuroscience, said:
The brain is very efficient, and doesn’t let unused space go to waste.
    The brain wants to compensate for the lost sense with enhancements that are beneficial.
    For example, if you’re deaf, you would benefit by seeing a car coming far off in your peripheral vision, because you can’t hear that car approaching from the side – the same with being to [sic] more accurately detect how fast something is moving.
Dr. Lomber’s team studied the peripheral vision of congenitally deaf cats.  The general principle was that the brain does not like to let unused capacity go to waste.  “Both deaf and blind people frequently say their other senses are sharper by way of compensation.
Compensation algorithms?  Rewiring?  Explain that, Darwin – and we don’t mean “explain” by telling us a once-upon-a-time story.
Next headline on:  Human BodyMind and BrainAmazing Facts
  Darwinism was unraveling in 2007 (10/08/2007), but it takes a long time to finish unraveling a tangled web.

DNA Performs the Linking Rings Trick     10/11/2010    
Oct 11, 2010 — Those who love a good magic show should be aware of a world-famous trick going on inside their own bodies.  The “Chinese linking rings” trick is done by a team of protein magicians in the cell – but it’s not for entertainment, it’s to repair damage that could lead to cancer.
    PhysOrg echoed a press release from UC Davis about a team of proteins named Sgs1, Top3 and Rmi1.  This magic team makes DNA strands pass through one another when repairing double-stranded breaks (see 10/07/2010).  The team has to get the information from the matching chromosome, so “a sophisticated repair process is activated that uses the same DNA sequence on the matching chromosome,” the article explained.  “One of the strands is stripped back, leaving an exposed single strand.  The matching chromosome is brought alongside and partly unwound, and acts as a template to repair the broken piece.”
    Aside from the wonder at how protein machines can find a matching strand on another chromosome, when the chromosomes separate at points called Holliday junctions, the real magic happens.  “To finish the process, the chromosomes have to separate – like the magician’s interlocking rings, one has to pass through the other.”  Stephen Kowalczykowski, microbiology professor at UC Davis, remarked, “This protein complex does what magicians do.

Natural selection was Darwin’s little magician that was advertised to create wonders on stage that seemed like natural theology.  The rest of us know that magicians really act with purpose and intent.  When they are really good, magicians make what they do seem miraculous.  But Darwin hyped his magic show without delivering the show.  He not only promised to pull a rabbit out of the hat; he promised to pull the magician out of the rabbit – and the hat out of nothing!  We came to watch this miracle, but the hat, the rabbit, and the magician were already on display.  Darwin came out and said, “The magician exists; therefore, he evolved from the rabbit.  It all happened long ago without anyone watching.  It must be so, because God wouldn’t have made things this way.”  All together, now: booooo.... give us our money back.
Next headline on:  GeneticsCell BiologyAmazing Facts
Altruism Researchers Could Use a Little     10/10/2010    
Oct 10, 2010 — Hidden from public view, there’s a fight going on between evolutionists trying to explain the origin of altruism (unselfish behavior) by natural selection.  This problem that bothered Darwin 150 years ago appears to be heating up.  Last month, 30 evolutionists squared off in Amsterdam and apparently made little progress, because Nature published an article trying to make peace between the rival groups.
    Samir Okasha wrote “Altruism researchers must cooperate” in Nature,1 contending that there’s nothing worth fighting about.  The irony was apparently lost on him.  It appears everyone at Amsterdam was acting a little selfish, yet here was Okasha presenting almost a moral sermon trying to get them to love one another.  Believers in kin selection (inclusive fitness), he said, are just arguing the same point as believers in multi-level selection or group selection, but from another angle.  What’s the fuss?
Rival camps have emerged, each endorsing a different approach to social evolution.  Heated exchanges have occurred at conferences, on blogs and in journals, and have even been reported in The New York Times.  Biologists have accused each other of misunderstanding, of failing to cite previous studies appropriately, of making unwarranted claims to novelty and of perpetuating confusions.  Yet I contend that there is little to argue about.
    Much of the current antagonism stems from the fact that different researchers are focusing on different aspects of the same phenomenon, and are using different methods.  In allowing a plurality of approaches – a healthy thing in science – to descend into tribalism, biologists risk causing serious damage to the field of social evolution, and potentially to evolutionary biology in general.
The bulk of his paper was trying to prove that the competing theories are really different sides of the same coin.  But he also demanded that researchers on both sides stop “flouting basic practice” as citing references, using consistent terminology, and “avoiding unjustified claims of novelty or of the superiority of one perspective over another.”  He used an analogy from quantum mechanics: the wave and matrix formulations are different but equivalent.  So, Okasha contends, are the different explanations for altruism.
    If the last thing in a paper is any clue to the prime motivation for writing it, Okasha may actually be most concerned about money, or what the creationists will do, or both:
Researchers should take stock before another overblown dispute does serious damage to the field.  Up-and-coming researchers are unlikely to be attracted to a discipline plagued by controversy.  Moreover, if the experts cannot agree about what theoretical framework works best, the supply of research funding may eventually be threatened.  Also worrying is the possibility that onlookers perceive the central question of social evolution theory – how altruism can evolve – as unresolved, even though it was answered decades ago.  During the ‘sociobiology wars’ of the 1970s and 1980s, creationists proved adept at seizing on and exaggerating the differences in opinion between biologists for their own ends.  It would be a disaster if the same were to happen again.
Update 10/21/2010: In a letter to Nature,2 Karl Sigmund responded to Okasha, saying, “his concerns that it could threaten research funding and provide ammunition for creationists should not be allowed to mute scientific debate.”  The debate is real, he argued: inclusive fitness theory is “full of pitfalls.  This is not just the view of a handful of rebels.”
1.  Samir Okasha, “Altruism researchers must cooperate,” Nature 467, 653-655 (7 October 2010) | doi:10.1038/467653a.
2.  Karl Sigmund, “Let's keep the debate focused,” Nature 467, p. 920, 21 October 2010, doi:10.1038/467920e.
This is rich.  So creationists have their own ends, but these pure-minded Darwinists have none of their own.  So it would be a disaster if creationists pointed out this controversy and commented on it, but not if evolutionists gave them occasion for it.  Social evolution theory is plagued by controversy, he admits, but we’re not supposed to teach the controversy.  Why?  Because there is none.  It may look like a controversy – evolutionists behaving badly, making accusations, flouting “basic scientific practice,” misunderstanding one another, making unwarranted claims, unable to come to terms, but they all really agree deep down.  Controversy?  I don’t see any controversy, do you?  This was all solved decades ago.  “All this disagreement creates the impression of a field in massive disarray,” he said.  It’s just an impression, not a reality.  Can’t we see that both sides are just looking at the same solution from different angles?  Can’t we just get along?  Maybe the 30 at Amsterdam know more than Okasha does.
    The really funny thing about this article is that Okasha is treating his fellow evolutionists as rational beings capable of moral behavior.  By speaking of altruism as a moral capacity that can be strengthened by reason and appeals to unselfishness and integrity, he has just undermined all views of the evolution of altruism by natural selection, because natural selection by definition is mindless, purposeless, directionless and amoral.  He’s too busy to shoot the creationists, because he just shot his own views on social evolution in the foot.  They’re laughing hysterically, but are willing to come over and explain a thing or two about the origin of altruism, and even share some, if permitted.
Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionPolitics and EthicsEducation
Life: Do Ingredients Imply Emergence?     10/08/2010    
Oct 8, 2010 — Science articles continue to push the idea that if water is found somewhere, life is certain to emerge.  Other articles look for so-called “building blocks of life” or “ingredients for life,” implying or even plainly stating that life simply emerges from its parts.  While many have complained that this kind of thinking is as ridiculous as assuming a building will construct itself from a lumberyard, reports persist without shame or apology.
  1. Asteroid water bombs:  Water ice has been discovered on a second asteroid, reported Science Daily, echoing a press release from University of South Florida.  A professor said, “And it supports the theory that asteroids may have hit Earth and brought our planet its water and the building blocks for life to form and evolve here.”
  2. Primordial hazeSpace.com and other sites are publishing speculations by Sarah Horst [U of Arizona] claiming that Titan may have the “ingredients for life” in its atmosphere.  “We don’t need liquid water, we don’t need a surface,” she said.  “We show that it is possible to make very complex molecules in the outer parts of an atmosphere.”  The toxic sludge pouring through Hungary contains complex molecules, too (BBC News).
        Horst omitted explaining how a genetic code or molecular machinery might arise from her ingredients for life.  She was focused on the ingredients themselves.  She simply assumed they will spontaneously spring into living things: “The results suggest that Titan’s upper atmosphere could be a reservoir of prebiotic molecules that could serve as the springboard to life, according to the scientists,” the press release continued, failing to state who the diver was.  “And the find may offer a new perspective on the emergence of life on Earth as well: Instead of a primordial soup, the first ingredients of life on our planet may have formed from a primordial haze high in Earth’s atmosphere.”  National Geographic interviewed Horst and published her speculations uncritically.  See also the 06/07/2010 entry.
  3. Life signs:  The news reports about Gliese 581g, an exoplanet in its star’s habitable zone (09/29/2010), were spiced with liberal use of the L-word.  Most recently, David Shiga remarked in New Scientist that it might be “be awash with liquid water and perhaps life.”  Maybe we could tell by detecting “possible by-products of life, such as oxygen and methane,” he said, even though Saturn’s lifeless rings have oxygen and Titan has lots of methane without sentient beings peering through telescopes at earth.  Incidentally, the unfunded Terrestrial Planet Finder mission was renamed Darwin.
  4. Hard questions and genetic divination:  How life got started is “one of the biggest questions in evolutionary biology,“ but that didn’t stop PhysOrg from publishing Oxford University’s press release about one of its scientists teasing insights from the genetic tea leaves of archaea, bacteria and eukaryotes about which one “emerged around 3.5 billion years ago.”
  5. Complexity and computer divination:  Computers provide another way to peer into the mysterious origins of life.  PhysOrg reported on supercomputer simulations being done at Oak Ridge National Lab into the mechanics of a ribozyme, an RNA molecule of catalyzing some reactions while being composed of nucleotides that could be considered a rudimentary code.  The article claims these simulations are “helping scientists unravel how nucleic acids could have contributed to the origins of life.”  Admittedly these experiments, that are simply looking at how a magnesium atom keeps an active site open in one ribozyme, are a far cry from life, but the simulation is said to “probe an organic chemical reaction that may have been important in the evolution of ribonucleic acids, or RNA, into early life forms.”
If simple ingredients can be expected to overcome the biggest hurdle – life itself – it follows that simple ingredients will help evolution proceed up the path of complexity.  For instance, PhysOrg called on oxygen as a cause.  When oxygen levels varied as plants and animals “emerged and flourished,” an astrobiology wizard claimed, “the variation had direct consequences for the evolution of complex life.”  The article headline was, “Plants kick-start evolutionary drama of Earth’s oxygenation.”
    Science Daily promoted the idea that “novelty and complexity are [the] result of small evolutionary changes.”  A researcher at University of Oregon may have found differences in a particular nuclear receptor protein “which existed before the last common ancestor of all animals on earth – as much as a billion years ago,” failing to answer how that complex enzyme “emerged” so far back; but then he applied it as a general principle: “evolution tinkers with early forms and leaves the impression that complexity evolved many times.”  The “tinkering” theme was mentioned four times in the press release and eight times in the paper in PLoS Biology,1 including the title, but neither said anything about the evolution of multi-part molecular machines, tissues, organs, and complex structures like wings and eyes.
1.  Bridgham, Thornton et al, Protein Evolution by Molecular Tinkering: Diversification of the Nuclear Receptor Superfamily from a Ligand-Dependent Ancestor,” Public Library of Science Biology, 8(10): e1000497. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000497.
The Cult of Tinker Bell pervades our scientific institutions and schools.  It’s a cult of magic, superstition, and imagination.  Don’t be tricked by the trappings of science; this cult has wizards, divination, and indoctrination.  In this cult, buildings not only “emerge” from the lumberyard in their Magic Kingdom; they evolve into castles and thrill rides every time Tinker Bell comes by with her mutation wand.  When they wish upon a star, like Gliese 581, all their dreams come true (12/05/2008 commentary).
“Evolution was a tinkerer,” he claims, thus personifying the favorite little Darwin Party goddess and proving that not even an evolutionist can be a consistent atheist.  Now we know who their ding-a-ling goddess is.  She gets the gong for her hopelessly inadequate impersonation of an intelligent designer.  It’s Tinker Bell.  (03/08/2005 commentary).
If this were just fun and games, it would be a temporary escapist fantasy.  But this is presented as science (05/27/2010 commentary).  It’s a bag of lies, with all the building blocks of lie (03/19/2008) and ingredients of deception built in (see Baloney Detector).  Deceiving the public by implying that life is a simple matter of stirring ingredients with water is a crime.  But can you blame a perpetrator of a crime when he or she believes the crime is a good thing?  That’s the problem: the deceivers are among the deceived.  This hopeless situation is the fulfillment of a scientifically-testable prediction by someone who came face to face with a lot of their kind: “evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (Paul, in II Timothy 3:13).
Suggested reading: Meyer, Signature in the Cell ch. 3-5; Behe, Darwin’s Black Box ch 3-7; Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis ch. 13-14; and our online book, ch. 6-10.  These books describe the complexity of life (particularly the cell) and dispel the notion that life would ever “emerge” from building blocks.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeStarsSolar SystemDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
  God may not pay dice, but Darwin does.  Four papers exposed internal controversies and appeals to chance within Darwinism in the 10/16/2006 entry, showing its advocates to be hopelessly muddled.  It can only be accepted with “stiff gin and tonic,” one said.

Keeping Saturn Old     10/07/2010    
Oct 7, 2010 — Keeping a planet like Saturn going for billions of years has been a problem lately, especially when evidences show that what we see today of its rings and moons could not have lasted that long.

  1. Ringside gambling:  The rings of Saturn are majestic, colorful, and young-looking.  Their ices are too clean, and the forces acting on them too pervasive, to have lasted 4.5 billion years.  The old idea that they formed along with Saturn has, therefore, fallen into disfavor.  Robin Canup came up with a “new alternative,” according to the BBC News: a body the size of giant moon Titan (larger than Mercury) floated within range of Saturn and dove in.
        “Just how these icy rings came about has always been a mystery,” the BBC said.  Earlier theories envisioned an icy comet, not a minor planet, forming the rings, leading to its 90 to 95% icy composition.  To keep the rock out, Canup proposed that the impacting body’s surface ices got stripped off on the way in and became the rings, then the rocky part smacked into the planet.  Canup’s story requires a body 10 times the size of previously-supposed comets.  She even thinks there was enough material left over to form icy moons like Enceladus, Dione and Tethys.  Whether or not such an explanation is likely, Carl Murray thought it was “a clever way to explain the peculiarly icy nature of the rings.”
  2. Titan’s vanishing oceans:  An article on Science Daily was primarily devoted to allowing Akiva Bar-Nun of Tel Aviv University to say “I told you so” about Titan’s oily lakes and 6,000-foot mountains.  One of the things he had predicted in 1979, though, was that there would be enough hydrocarbons formed on the surface over its age to cover the large moon 43 meters deep.  Later estimates were around ten times that high.  Bodies of liquid the Cassini spacecraft actually found in 2005 are restricted to scattered lakes in the polar regions.
        Bar-Nun agreed that the liquids accumulate from precipitation of compounds formed in the atmosphere by solar radiation.  He disagreed with astrobiologists and researchers like Sarah Horst (see 10/08/2010) who find Titan a tempting target in the search for life.  “The chemical processes on Titan are different than those on Earth because there is no water vapor in Titan’s air, leading to hydrocarbon-based lakes unlike those seen on our planet.  Because of this, the frequent claims that Titan could be a laboratory for the investigation of life’s emergence on Earth are unfounded, he says.”
  3. Enceladus: bubbly or wobbly?  The discovery in 2005 of active geysers at the south pole of little moon Enceladus “jolted many astronomers,” according to a story by Mike Wall on Space.com echoed on Live Science.  How could this “small, frozen and presumably dead moon” be “geologically active” after four and half billion years?  One “new way of thinking” that former Cassini Project Scientist Dennis Matson came up with to account for its “unique properties” is fizz.  A subsurface ocean picks up ions in the rock that bubble upward and explode out the south polar cracks.  According to his computer models, it doesn’t take much fizz to produce the effect.  Mike Wall got excited about this “Perrier ocean” model without asking too many questions, like how the ocean survived for billions of years in a moon just 500 miles across, why they erupt at the south pole, and why other moons don’t do this.  Matson admitted, “Until now, how you got so much heat out was a big, big problem.
        Some of the details of that big, big problem were stated more overtly in an article on PhysOrg, echoing a news feature from Jet Propulsion Laboratory, that took another “new way of thinking” to explain the puzzle.  No one expected little Enceladus to be “one of the most promising places in our solar system to look for extraterrestrial life” (because of its water); “Instead, it should have frozen solid billions of years ago.”  Whereas larger astrobiological targets like Mars (4,200 miles across) and Europa (2,000 miles across) “harbor hints” of subsurface water, Enceladus (500 miles across) “just doesn’t have the bulk needed for its interior to stay warm enough to maintain liquid water underground.”  Internal heating from radioactive decay is woefully inadequate: “in smaller moons like Enceladus, the cache of radioactive elements usually is not massive enough to produce significant heat for long, and the moon should have soon cooled and solidified.  So, unless another process within Enceladus somehow generated heat, any liquid formed by the melting of its interior would have frozen long ago.
        The JPL story calls for friction between the sides of subsurface cracks to keep the interior warm.  As Enceladus wobbles in its orbit due to a tiny bit of libration (non-uniform rotation) from its slightly-out-of-round shape, it may gain the added increment of tidal stress to cause the friction – perhaps up to five times as much, according to computer models.  The hypothesis was made by trying to match the computer model with known hot spots at the south pole.  They didn’t line up without adding libration.  Libration has not been observed, but if it occurs, must be less than 2%.  Terry Hurford, author of the model, believes that’s enough: “the extra heat makes it likely that Enceladus’ ocean could be long-lived, according to Hurford.”  The L-word life was not far behind: “This is significant in the search for life, because life requires a stable environment to develop.”
        Similar questions arise, however, with the wobble model as with the bubble model.  Why does this happen only at Enceladus, and not nearby Mimas or Tethys?  What makes this unique to this one moon?  Don’t other moons librate?  Are all others perfect spheres?  Have they no tidal stresses?  Invoking ad hoc conditions after the fact is generally frowned upon in science.
Another article on PhysOrg shows how Cassini scientist Paul Schenk (see his interesting blog with 3-D flyovers of planets and moons) has detected Enceladus “spray paint” on Mimas, Tethys, Dione and Rhea.  The JPL article contained this amazing factoid: “Scientists estimate from the Cassini data that the south polar heating is equivalent to a continuous release of about 13 billion watts of energy.” The Space.com article added that this energy is “five times more heat per unit area than flows through Earth’s geologic hot spot, Yellowstone National Park”. 
Photos.  A new clear picture of the geysers was posted Oct 6 at JPL.  The PhysOrg article included two Cassini photos; the first one, taken 11/21/2009, also at JPL, shows over 30 individual jets (see large at Planetary Photojournal).
A reader calculated that Enceladus could power 2.3 cities the size of Las Vegas with 13 billion watts.  After all, Las Vegas is at the “south pole” of Nevada, a state about as big across as Enceladus.  Isn’t it wonderful that this little tiny moon has been putting out this power, and this water-ice paint, for four and a half billion years?  Science says so.  You must believe.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating MethodsGeology
More DNA Repair Wonders Found     10/07/2010    
Oct 7, 2010 — One of the most phenomenal discoveries since the structure of DNA was revealed must surely be the discovery of multitudes of protein machines that repair DNA (01/04/2002).  The repair machines are themselves coded by DNA, but DNA would quickly decay into nonsense without them.  Another “fundamentally new” repair mechanism was discovered by researchers at Vanderbilt University recently, and other scientists reporting in Nature uncovered more secrets of a “key player” in DNA double-stranded break repair.
    Science Daily began its echo of the university press release saying, “Tucked within its double-helix structure, DNA contains the chemical blueprint that guides all the processes that take place within the cell and are essential for life.  Therefore, repairing damage and maintaining the integrity of its DNA is one of the cell’s highest priorities.”  The wording brings to mind a well-managed business.  How can a cell have priorities, integrity, and maintenance?
    Explaining that DNA is highly reactive, the article goes on to describe how DNA damage repair is a constant process.  “On a good day about one million bases in the DNA in a human cell are damaged.”  That’s on a good day.  Toxins, reactive oxygen, radiation, and just normal chemical activity in the cell can lead to all kinds of problems.  Untreated, these damages can lead to cell death or cancer.  The newly discovered mechanism acts on DNA bases that become alkylated.  This results in “lesions” on the double helix that can impair translation or replication.  “To make matters worse, there are dozens of different types of alkylated DNA bases, each of which has a different effect on replication.”
    Several known mechanisms can treat the lesions by scanning the DNA chain, something like crewmen on a railroad car, looking for damaged cross-beams, latching onto them and then flipping each one outward and holding it in a special pocket so that other repairmen can attach to the site, fix it, and put it back.  The new mechanism found by the Vanderbilt team operates in bacteria.  It finds the lesion and, unlike most known glycosylases, flips out both the damaged base and the base it is paired with.  Why?  “This appears to work because the enzyme only operates on deformed bases that have picked up an excess positive charge, making these bases very unstable,” the article explained.  If left alone, the deformed base will detach spontaneously.”  This specialized enzyme may attract other repair enzymes to the site, and “speeds up the process by about 100 times.”  The enzyme “uses several rod-like helical structures ... to grab hold of DNA.”
    What’s more, this enzyme is “considerably different from that of other known DNA-binding proteins or enzymes,” though it bears some resemblance to a family of “very large molecules that possess a small active site that plays a role in regulating the cells’ response to DNA damage.”  The article said nothing about evolution.
    On another DNA-repair front, today’s Nature described a “protein giant” named BRCA2 that is critically involved in DNA repair, specifically targeting the dangerous double-stranded breaks that can lead to serious health consequences (double-stranded breaks, as the name implies, involve both rungs of the DNA ladder separating).  The BRCA2 enzyme, more than 400 kilodaltons in size (containing roughly 400,000 atomic mass units), is a “key player” in the repair, said Lee Zou [Harvard] in Nature,1 commenting on a paper by Jensen et al in the same issue that elucidated the structure of this giant fix-it molecule and explained how it works.2  Since it repairs damage that can lead to breast and ovarian cancers and Fanconi anemia, BRCA2 is of great interest to medical researchers and their patients.  Zou described and illustrated four specific functions of this enzyme in the multi-player teamwork process that fixes double-stranded breaks.  In addition, the “histone code” (07/26/2006) appears to play a role in regulating the whole repair team.  Both articles mentioned evolution only in passing, suggesting possible ancestral relationships, but only in a most cursory and ancillary manner.
1.  Lee Zou, “DNA repair: A protein giant in its entirety,” Nature 467, pp. 667–668, 07 October 2010, doi:10.1038/467667a.
2.  Jensen, Carreira and Kowalczykowski, “Purified human BRCA2 stimulates RAD51-mediated recombination,” Nature 467, pp. 678–683, 07 October 2010, doi:10.1038/nature09399.
How Darwinism can survive in today’s environment is a tale of the capacity for humans to cling to dogma far beyond whatever usefulness it may have had.  Darwinism may have made 19th-century Victorian racists in the British empire feel like they had latched onto something.  It may have allowed certain racist totalitarian tyrants to justify their atrocities with a veneer of scientific credibility.  That was all before 1951, when the basis of heredity was found to involve a coded language.  Shortly after, Crick discovered that one code gets translated by a family of interpreters into another code.  Now, in the 21st century, we have whole systems of molecular machines dedicated to preserving the code, and codes upon codes regulating the codes.
    Darwin didn’t write code.  Software was only beginning to be invented by Babbage in those days.  Darwin knew nothing about networks and codes and double-stranded breaks with BRCA2 machinery at the ready, and other complex mechanisms operating even in bacteria, the simplest little blobs of protoplasm he envisioned, that turned out to be more complex than any machinery in Britain.  Why must we cling to an outmoded view of life that spun from minds eager to rid science of intelligent causes?  We need a biology for the Information Age, where intelligent causes are well known.  Intelligence, and only intelligence, explains codes, messages, software, error-correction routines, networks, and hierarchical systems of all the above.  Step aside, Charlie.  You had your day.  You did your damage.  We have a lot of repair work to do.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsHealthIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
Animals Can Skew Archaeological Dates     10/06/2010    
Oct 6, 2010 — Archaeologists date stone age artifacts by the depth of the layer.  They may not have paid sufficient attention to one factor that could have shoved them deeper down: animals trampling over them.  “Animals push human tools into ground—and back in time, study says,” was a subtitle of a report in National Geographic News.  This factor could cause mis-dating of stone tools and other artifacts, “making them seem older than they really are—in some cases, thousands of years older,” experiments have demonstrated.
    The assumption has been, “The deeper the object, the older it is, generally speaking.”  A team from Southern Methodist University tested that assumption by placing artifact replicas on the ground in India, having local herdsmen walk their livestock over them, letting the ground dry out, and then excavating the plot like it was a real archaeological site.  “To our amazement,” lead author Metin Eren said, “the disturbance was much greater than we had anticipated.”
    The misdating is especially pronounced in wet ground.  But it is precisely in wet areas where stone age people most likely settled.  What’s more, archaeologists typically date carbonaceous material next to stone artifacts to corroborate the date, unaware that the two types of material may not have been contemporaneous.
    Eren believes that evidence of trampling can be detected by the random orientations of artifacts.  In some cases, artifacts might even be pushed upward and yield younger ages.  Sorting out what happened could be tricky, though.  “Trampling could even create the illusion of ancient sites where none really existed,” Eren said.  For example, “you could have artifacts washing into a valley from somewhere else and herds walk over them, pushing the artifacts into the ground.
    Is this a minor matter?  Anthropologist Julien Riel-Salvatore of the University of Colorado Denver said, “Pretty much any open-air site located near a water source will potentially be very seriously affected by some of these conclusions.”
Apparently no one ever tested the effects of trampling by animals before, even though some of them were aware of it.  The follow-up question we should be asking is, what other factors are they not considering about the unobservable past?  Don’t be so sure that archaeologists are able to separate trampled sites from non-trampled sites.  A herd of elephants walking over a site might not leave it the same as a herd of wildebeest.  Or a herd of supersaurus, either, but we say that just to irritate the Darwin dogmatists.
    The article said, “Scientists often date artifacts of the Stone Age, which began about two and a half million years ago, based on the depths at which the items are found: The deeper the object, the older it is, generally speaking.”  The 2.5 million number is based on evolutionary reasoning – i.e., how long did it take monkey-men to come out of their trees, develop a taste for meat, reorganize their anatomy for long-distance running (11/18/2004), figure out it was easier to carve the meat with a stone than by hand, and decide cooking was women’s work, and getting impaled and trampled by mammoths was men’s work?  How many times did a site get trampled before it dried up?  Say the site was wet for just a million years – less than half the assumed age.  Say that it got trampled once a month.  That’s 12 million tramplings.  OK, cut that in half, or a tenth – it’s still an outrageous amount of time for the artifacts to just sit there undisturbed by large animals, to say nothing of worms and burrowing creatures.  Does the possibility dawn on you that many of these claimed ages, which no scientist ever experienced, could be flawed?
Next headline on:  Early ManDating Methods
  Five years ago, a busy year for the anti-ID campaign (10/24/2005, 10/13/2005), Michael Behe was called to testify at the Dover trial (10/18/2005).  Myths and legends have already risen in the Darwin blogs about what he said, as Casey Luskin revealed today at Evolution News & Views.  One would think those pretending to be historians would examine the transcript instead of making things up.

Kinder, Gentler Dinosaurs Envisioned     10/06/2010    
Oct 6, 2010 — See if this statement by Tim Rowe [U of Texas at Austin] meets your mental picture of dinosaurs after a lifetime of movies: “We used to think of dinosaurs as fierce creatures that outcompeted everyone else,” he said.  “Now we’re starting to see that’s not really the case.  They were humbler, more opportunistic creatures.  They didn’t invade the neighborhood.  They waited for the residents to leave and when no one was watching, they moved in.”
    This quote from an article in PhysOrg may not make for a very dramatic sequel to Jurassic Park, but it’s based on his team’s analysis of migration patterns of a new species of dinosaur from Arizona gently named Sarahsaurus.  “And so it’s starting to look like some of our ideas about how size and evolution work are probably in need of revision,” Rowe said, “and that some of the features we thought were tied to gigantism and the physics and mechanics of the bones may not be right.”

Does Rowe know that dinosaurs were humbler, more opportunistic creatures?  No, because he wasn’t there.  Neither does Steven Spielberg know that they were terrors.  Who knows; maybe they were like large cows and sheep, and the predators were like large coyotes.  Maybe Alley Oop had to beat off Sue with a stick.  Make up your own scenario.  It’s as good as anyone else’s, because all such opinions about behavior are inferred from indirect evidence and are inherently subjective.  For best chance at fame, come up with a scenario that lends itself to a screenplay and keeps the animators employed.
    The one thing that you can be sure of is that the opinions of evolutionists will continue to change, so that any of their claims today “are probably in need of revision” tomorrow.
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossils
Cosmology Faces More Chaos     10/05/2010    
Oct 5, 2010 — Most of us have experience with orderly things going to chaos: an unkept room, the garden, our list of things to do.  We all work hard to overcome that universal tendency.  Clara Moskowitz reported on two cosmologists who think the universe went the other way.  She wrote in Space.com, “The universe was in chaos after the Big Bang kick-started the cosmos, a new study suggests.”  That means that all the order we see came out of chaos.
    It’s probably not a surprise to think that a colossal explosion like a big bang would be pretty chaotic, but actually, cosmologists have worried about the “entropy problem” for a long time.  Entropy is a measure of the disorder of a system.  For our universe to have the low entropy it has now (organized into stars, galaxies, and planets), it would have had to have incredibly low entropy at the start – where incredibly low means unfathomably low.  Can Adilson Motter (Northwestern U) and Katrin Gelfert (Federal U, Rio de Janeiro) really propose chaos after the big bang?
    The article tries to explain that they are defining chaos differently than lay people do in common experience – “small changes can cause large-scale effects.”  Yet in chaos theory, one cannot predict what will happen – and getting a highly ordered system as a result would seem most improbable.  After all, “our universe is no longer chaotic” according to the article.  But then the article speculates that the universe could return to chaos in a big crunch – a big bang in reverse.  Most cosmologists and astronomers think that the acceleration of the universe rules out such a possibility.  It doesn’t help explain the order we see now, anyway.
    Suffice it to say, that before one can believe their ideas about the origin and fate of the universe, one should take to heart a disclaimer by Moskowitz, “This period of the early universe is not well understood.”
    According to New Scientist in its “Cosmic Accidents” series, the big bang was all a – well, a cosmic accident.  Believe it or not, “most physicists regard the quantum fluctuations that created it as having no cause at all,” Stephen Battersby wrote.  “Of all happy accidents, this one might be the most accidental.”  As to the low-entropy whatever before the bang, he admitted, “What cosmic coincidences preceded our universe’s birth are in the realms of speculation.”
Good grief; Moskowitz titled her display of nonsense, “After Big Bang Came Moment of Pure Chaos, Study Finds.”  It found nothing of the sort.  It found nothing, only sordid hubris pretending to be science.  Be sure to read the 10/03/2010 commentary as a preface to this one.  Since Battersby and Moskowitz, Motter and Gelfert have surrendered all credibility and lowered themselves to shaman status, their speculations can be safely disregarded as no better than anyone else’s, and decidedly worse.  For they present themselves as scientists – you know, those who know.
    If you’re thinking, “Well, the Bible states that things started without form and void, and that sounds like chaos,” consider that chaos can be molded by intelligent design.  The creation account is top-down, like a potter taking a formless mass of clay and designing art or dishware out of it.  Take the secularist, materialist, evolutionary bottom-up approach on clay without a potter, and try getting the palace of Louis XIV out of it, all orderly and furnished to the hilt.  That would be far more credible than getting our universe out of impersonal chaos.
    Not only that, the materialist has to account for the origin of the clay out of hydrogen, and the hydrogen out the chaos, and the chaos out of some undefined, unobservable, fantastically-low entropy nothingness that is “not well understood” and “in the realms of speculation.”  It’s all speculation.  None of it is well understood.  Genesis 1:1 sounds downright scientific by comparison.
Suggested Reading:  For a scholarly introduction to some of the problems with modern cosmological speculations, read “Was there a big bang?” by David Berlinski (1998), posted at the Discovery Institute.  Other apropos essays in his book The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays (Discovery Institute, 2009) include “God, Man, and Physics” (2002) and “The State of the Matter” (2009).  These penetrating essays will not convince someone of God, since Berlinski is a non-practicing Jew, but his deftness at exposing the pretensions of the self-acclaimed wise will surely confront the reader with the deep and enduring problems of trying to bring a universe into existence without Him.
Next headline on:  CosmologyPhysicsBible and TheologyIntelligent Design
Big Gains for Adult Stem Cells Announced     10/04/2010    
Oct 4, 2010 — Ever since Shinya Yamanaka figured out how to coax skin cells to become pluripotent stem cells in 2007 (something for which he is being considered for a Nobel Prize, see PhysOrg), other researchers have been improving on his idea.  Three big gains were announced recently.
    PhysOrg and New Scientist reported work by Derrick Rossi of the Children’s Hospital Boston, who found that programmed messenger RNA (mRNA) can safely insert the cocktail of genetic switches into a cell without modifying the DNA with virus vectors.  PhysOrg said that the resulting induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are “apparently identical to human embryonic stem cells, the initial building blocks of all the organs of the body.”  Science Daily said the new method is “remarkably efficient.”
    Another remarkable finding that could speed up the production of adult stem cells was made in Australia.  PhysOrg reported that researchers at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney has “found a way to increase the number of blood-forming stem cells when growing them outside of the body.”  The secret is to put them on a unique stretchy surface that mimics their own natural environment in the body.  Combining this factor with the previously-used hormone treatments produced two to three times more stem cells in culture.  The more they can be grown in the lab, the less they must be harvested from the body – umbilical cords, bone marrow, and other sites – and the more patients can benefit.
    In another breakthrough, researchers at the University of Buffalo have found a way to keep adult stem cells from aging.  Science Daily said a team has engineered mesenchymal stem cells to “grow continuously in culture, a discovery that could speed development of cost-effective treatments for diseases including heart disease, diabetes, immune disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.”  This will not only help bring down the price of stem cell therapies, but permit the production of individually-tailored cell lines.  Dr. Techung Lee envisions a day when “one can generate a line from each ethnic group for each gender for people to choose from.”
    PhysOrg reported on a presentation at MIT on the progress being made with stem cell therapy.  The ability to reprogram adult stem cells to behave just like embryonic stem cells really “electrified the field,” said biologist Rudolf Jaenisch.  Some of the hurdles he mentioned with iPSCs in his lecture are being overcome by the announcements from Boston and Sydney.  This is great news, because “Using reprogrammed body cells to treat disease would overcome one of the major hurdles to using embryonic stem cells, which is that embryonic cells would likely cause an immune reaction in the patient.”  Adult stem cells also overcome the major ethical hurdle of using human embryos for research.  It’s onward and forward for reattaching teeth (Science Daily), treating stroke (PhysOrg), repairing damaged hearts (PhysOrg), and who knows else might come from these wonder cells.
This is good science as it should be done: pure research that produces understanding, and looks ahead to the possibility of improving our lives.  “Do no harm” states the Hippocratic Oath.  A corollary of that is “Do no Darwin” (example).
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHealthPolitics and Ethics
  Watch a Darwinist explain living fossils: see the 10/13/2004 entry.

Cosmic Accidents Are Not Scientific Explanations     10/03/2010    
Sunday Meditation Oct 3, 2010 — The classic understanding of science is that it explains things with reference to natural laws, makes predictions, is testable, quantifiable, and falsifiable.  Depending on the branch of science, many researchers still attempt to hold to those ideals.  Eugenie Scott put it this way: “modern science operates under a rule of methodological materialism that limits it to attempting to explain the natural world using natural causes.”  Natural causes include natural laws, predictable patterns, probability, or combinations of these.  Pure accidents, by contrast, contain no explanatory power.  How satisfying would it be to hear a scientist explain a phenomenon by saying, “Weird things just happen sometimes”?  That’s tantamount to saying, “We have no idea.”  See if the following two articles from New Scientist’s series “Cosmic Accidents” can do better than that.
    New Scientist has a headline: “Cosmic accidents: Inventing language, the easy way.”  What is this easy way of which reporter David Robson speaks?  Here’s how he explained it.  He picks up the tale as hominids migrate out of Africa to discover new habitats:

Released from many of the selective pressures that had shackled their evolution, they began to change subtly.  Their calls, for example, had once needed to be very specific – one to signal aggression, one to announce feeding time and so on – and were hard-wired in the brain.  Any variation from a small inherited “vocabulary” risked a potentially fatal misunderstanding, so mutations that promoted greater flexibility were quickly weeded out.
    In the new havens, however, mutations emerged that allowed more complex vocalisations, controlled by wider regions of the brain.  Ultimately, these morphed into huge learned vocabularies and flexible grammars that exploded the tight constraints on interpersonal communication.  A change of scene had accidentally created that most human of features: language.
The key to the story is “mutations” that “emerged.”  If an environment itself could create language, every organism in the environment would end up talking.  Selective constraints cannot create anything, either.  They can only hold creative powers back.  In the end, Robson himself attributed the ultimate cause to chance: an accident created language – one time, in Europe but not in Africa, in humans but not in other animals.  Weird things just happen sometimes.
    Attempting to explain how bacteria became humans, Michael Le Page wrote another entry for the “Cosmic Accidents” series: “One giant leap for a single cell.”  How did single cells cross the “chasm” between simple prokaryotes, like bacteria and archaea, and eukaryotes, which include everything from one-celled organisms to giraffes, orchids and humans?  Enquiring scientists want to know.  Le Page set the stage: “while bacteria never form anything more complex than strings of identical cells, eukaryotic cells cooperate to make everything from brains and leaves to bones and wood.”  Here’s his explanation:
The countless simple cells living in many different environments on Earth have had over 3 billion years to evolve complexity.  It could have happened repeatedly - and yet it appears to have happened just once, perhaps 2 billion years ago.  All complex life is descended from a single common ancestor.
    Why is that so?  Because, says Nick Lane of University College London, natural selection normally favours fast replication, keeping simple cells simple.  Then a freak event occurred: an archaeon engulfed a bacterium and the two cells formed a symbiotic relationship.  That transformed the dynamics of evolution, leading to a period of rapid change that produced innovations such as sex.  The incorporated bacterium eventually evolved into mitochondria, the energy generators of complex cells.
Le Page added that “it seems there was nothing inevitable about the rise of the complex cells from which we evolved.”  If it was not inevitable in any way, shape, or form that science can get a handle on, where does science enter the explanation?
    Once again, the heart of the explanation was pure chance: “a freak accident occurred.”  The prokaryotes were trying to evolve complexity for a billion years, but they just couldn’t.  Then a freak accident occurred.  The archeon was not trying to engulf the bacterium.  It had no desire or plan to do such a thing.  A freak accident occurred – something completely unforeseen, something weird.  It transformed the dynamics of evolution.  This freak accident, though, was pregnant with possibilities.  It “produced innovations such as sex” and mitochondria – you know, those little organelles with piston engines and rotary engines (09/22/2010).  Weird things just happen sometimes.
    Other articles in the “Cosmic Accidents” series include Stephen Lawton’s chance explanation for the big bang’s fine tuning (New Scientist), Stephen Battersby’s chance explanation for antimatter imbalance (New Scientist), his chance explanation for the unlikely ingredients of our sun (New Scientist), David Shiga’s lucky impact theory for the origin of our moon (New Scientist), Richard Webb’s lucky fungus theory for our atmosphere’s oxygen balance (New Scientist), Graham Lawton’s lucky asteroid impact for the origin of mammals (New Scientist), Anil Ananthaswamy’s lucky rift theory for the growth of the human brain (New Scientist), and Stephen Battersby’s summary of the “certainty of chance” and the contingency of evolution (New Scientist).  “Our existence is perilously perched on a great pyramid of trivia,” he said.  Maybe that’s why all these freak-accident explanations are published by New Scientist, not by old scientists.
Science is stuck with chance explanations sometimes.  We have no theory at this time for why one radioactive nucleus decays when it does, or why a photon goes through one slit instead of the other.  Usually, though, scientists can assign probability values, given a large sample size.  Watch enough radionuclei, and you can predict to a high degree of accuracy how many will decay within the isotope’s characteristic half-life.  Watch enough photons, and you can predict the pattern that will emerge on the screen.  If there were only one nucleus or photon, though, all bets would be off for predicting what would happen.  Scientists would have to admit, “We have no idea.”  Even in chaos theory, which camps on unpredictability, large sample sizes allow predictable patterns called “strange attractors” to emerge.
    Given enough smokers, medical researchers can predict what percentage will get lung cancer; but all bets would be off for predicting the fate of a particular smoker.  If either outcome – the smoker lives, the smoker dies – could be “explained” by the probability value, then nothing has really been explained at all.  He dies: Just as we predicted, he was part of the 70% group that gets cancer.  He lives: He was lucky and beat the odds.  Opposite outcomes are encompassed by the theory.  The bottom line is, “We have no idea.”
    When a scientist is reduced to saying, “We have no idea,” his or her opinion is essentially no better than anyone else’s.  For all a neutral observer could tell, a New Guinea shaman or the Oracle at Delphi has just as good an explanation for a phenomenon.  A scientist reduced to saying “Weird stuff just happens sometimes” has no claims over a theologian, for sure.  “Sheer dumb luck” as David Berlinski calls it is no explanation at all.  It is the antithesis of explanation.  If science gets reduced to sheer dumb luck, the Stuff Happens Law (SHL), it surrenders all claims to epistemic priority.  Possession of a white lab coat, a PhD, and a university professorship amounts to nothing more than costumery the shaman could put on, by all rights.
    The GSA talking points say, “Science cannot be used, by definition, to study events or phenomena that cannot be perceived by natural or empirical senses and do not follow any natural rules or regularities.”  This statement, though intending to disparage creationism and intelligent design, rules out explanations that ultimately depend on “freak accidents.”  It therefore rules out so-called scientific explanations of the Big Bang, the origin of life, the origin of eukaryotes, the origin of sex, the origin of consciousness, and most of the subject matter evolutionists are interested in.
    Darwinism itself is outside the bounds.  Why?  The root of its explanation is contingency – sheer dumb luck.  Darwinism is the SHL in different words.  Early critics of Darwinism pointed this out.  They were appalled that Darwin was introducing contingency into scientific explanation in an era when natural law was king.  Darwin believed he had found a law – the law of natural selection – but closer examination shows it is chance masquerading as law.  Nothing could be selected without random mutation, obviously, but selection itself is directionless – therefore random.  The environment is random.  “Selection pressure” is unpredictable; it pushes this way, and that: up, down, sideways.  Everything at the fundamental level is explained by freak accidents.  Whatever happens happens.  Darwinists cannot appear after the fact and say, “natural selection” did it.  That’s equivalent to saying, “A freak accident produced this outcome by sheer dumb luck.  Weird things (like eukaryotes, like language) just happen sometimes.”  As we have shown repeatedly, Darwin’s “law” explains opposite outcomes – therefore it explains nothing (12/19/2007 commentary).  Might as well invite the Delphic oracle, the New Guinea shaman and a gambler to give presentations at the Darwin convention.  On what basis could they be denied admission?  Their clothes?  Their taste in cuisine?  That kind of diversity already exists at science conferences.
    Eugenie Scott, in her talking points on the NCSE website, used to say, “Science and religion are different.  Scientific explanations are based on human observations of natural processes,” where processes include laws, patterns, causes and logical deductions other than appeals to chance or so-called supernatural forces taken on faith.  The newer explanation, “What is science?” at NCSE web, emphasizes method and “ways of thinking” more than laws and cause.  “The process of science is creative and flexible.  There is no single scientific method used by all scientists.... All scientific conclusions are tentative.”    This looser description, more nuanced and postmodern, appears to have been adopted to insulate the NCSE from charges that evolution is unscientific.  But do the gains in defense offset the gains in offense?  Scott can keep evolution in science only by widening the tent.  If she looks carefully, though, she lets in the Delphic oracle and the New Guinea shaman.  After all, they have methods; they are creative; they are flexible.  They can even hold their conclusions tentatively.
    To maintain a distinction in the wider tent, Donald Prothero adds the only claim in the article to epistemic priority: the hope of converging on the truth, whatever that is, somehow: “Science is not about finding final truth, only about testing and refining better and better hypotheses so these hypotheses approach what we think is true about the world.”  But in attempting to kick the shamans and oracles out, Prothero has let in a more fearsome group: the logicians and philosophers.  They will ask what he means by truth, what constitutes testing and refining if there is no standard of truth by which one can measure progress, and whether what one thinks is true about the world corresponds to what is really true about the world.  Prothero will need more than sheer dumb luck to get out of that predicament.
    Have we gotten lost in a postmodern fog, where everyone’s opinion is equally valid and deserving of a hearing?  Fortunately, no.  Intelligent design (ID) identifies a measurable quantity, complex specified information (CSI), that can dispel the fog.  Intelligence is a known, testable cause of CSI – the only known cause.  And there is a threshold for separating chance from intelligence as a scientific explanation – the universal probability bound, based on the information content of the phenomenon under study.  Human language and eukaryotic cells are rich in CSI.  While ID cannot yield final truth, either, it provides an inference to the best explanation for measuring the confidence one can have in design as the cause versus chance as the cause.  This can be achieved by running the explanation through the Explanatory Filter (ARN).
    With this background, re-examine the articles above and their explanations.  The “scientists” (if deserving of that honor) attributed the causes to freak accidents – sheer dumb luck.  But the phenomena under question – human language and eukaryotic cells, are rich with CSI that exceed the universal probability bound.  Chance is therefore excluded; design is the best explanation. 
    ID leads to another advantage: a theory of truth.  While ID restricts itself to design detection, additional logical inferences can be made once an inference to design has been made – just like when an inference that a string of bits contains a message, rather than being natural noise, leads to additional inferences about the content of the message and the nature of the sender.  Given that many phenomena (DNA, the human brain, and the universe itself) pass through the Explanatory Filter into the design explanation, it follows that a designer capable of producing a universe must be greater than the universe, therefore transcendent, and outside of spacetime, therefore timeless.  That provides an anchor point for truth to allow it to be timeless, universal, necessary, and certain.  Reflexively, it provides the preconditions for intelligibility that a scientist assumed to draw that conclusion.  It is therefore logically coherent and explanatorily rich. 
    So let’s kick the Know-Nothings (10/28/2009, 02/22/2008) mumbling sheer dumb luck and freak accidents out of the lab and give them new jobs in the caves of Delphi and the jungles of New Guinea.  Let’s welcome back ID scientists (the heirs of Kepler and Newton, Boyle and Maxwell) to clean up the mess and put scientific explanation back on track: chance for single events of low information content, probability for quantifiable events, natural law for predictable patterns, design for high-CSI phenomena with high information content.  Help achieve this if logical coherence is something you value in science.

Suggested Reading:  David Berlinski, “The Deniable Darwin,” (1996) and “What Brings a World Into Being?” (2001), The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays (Center for Science and Culture, Discovery Institute, 2009).
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyEarly ManDarwin and EvolutionDumb IdeasPhilosophy of ScienceIntelligent Design

Humor
Be a science reporter!  Martin Robbins, the Lay Scientist, provides a template for writing a typical science article at The Guardian UK.

Galileo Affair: Plenty of Blame to Go Around     10/02/2010    
Oct 2, 2010 — What is the true account of Galileo Galilei’s troubles with the Catholic church?  We may never know.  Complex historical events are often difficult to interpret, and new details sometimes shed different light on commonly-accepted views.  One thing does seem certain, according to Thomas Mayer, historian at Augustana College, Illinois: “The notion that Galileo’s trial was a conflict between science and religion should be dead.”  He told this to Live Science in a report about new findings showing a new angle on the 17th-century trial of the eminent astronomer and physicist.
    There’s a difference between simple and simplistic.  Many adults grew up with the simple explanation that Galileo was a heroic victim in a classic clash with religion.  It was the theme of 19th-century books intent on exalting science by bashing the church – books now almost universally deplored as simplistic and wrong.  A clash existed, but its causes are multiple and intertwined.  Mayer has been poring over Inquisition documents and finding that many of them are just sloppy.
    While that’s a blot on the church, Galileo made his share of mistakes.  He could have avoided a lot of his troubles with a little research into the rules about negotiating a settlement, but he apparently didn’t.  Mayer says he “didn’t know the rules and deliberately kept himself ignorant of them.”  He contradicted himself, and “he made every imaginable mistake” in the second part of his trial, Mayer believes.
    Mayer is trying to understand the players as “human beings as opposed to cardboard cutouts” as they are often portrayed.  The Galileo Affair was not a simple, good-guy-vs-bad-guys story.  The nuances won’t diminish Galileo as a hero, nor exonerate the church for persecuting him, but it will surely make the story more interesting than a melodrama.

Could your entire life be reduced to a few episodes that would give a true picture of yourself?  That’s what we’ve done to Galileo.  Like the Scopes Trial, the Galileo Affair has been for too long a “cardboard cutout” story that has colored perceptions of the relation of science and religion.  Sometimes knowing more detail won’t change the conclusion, but it will significantly alter the route by which you arrive at it, and make the journey much more interesting.  It also softens hatred of villains into a kind of reluctant empathy when you understand their times and motivations.  Galileo remains a fascinating character, but if you want a better role model, check out Kepler.

Comment on historical interpretation
It’s common for history professors nowadays to emphasize that characters need to be evaluated in the context of their times and cultures.  It is not right, they say, for us to judge them by our cultural values; we need to put ourselves in their shoes and see the world as they saw it.  This is sensible as far as it goes, but taken too far, it can lead to a kind of relativism that is self-refuting.  To see why, picture a history professor, Dr. Smith, 400 years from now evaluating a history professor, Dr. Jones, from 2010.  He says, “To evaluate Dr. Jones, we need to judge him by his context, which was to judge historical characters by their context.”  800 years from now, another history professor, Dr. Bennett, says, “To evaluate Dr. Smith, we need to judge him by his context, which was to judge Dr. Jones by his context, which was to judge his predecessors by their context.”  Infinite regress: no context becomes solid enough to provide a basis for evaluating anything.  Instead, there needs to be a foundation for truth and values that is fixed and eternal, by which all things can be evaluated.  The Bible provides such a foundation for “building on the rock” instead of the shifting sands of human opinion (Matthew 7:24-27, Psalm 119).  Works for science, too.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsBible and TheologyPhilosophy of Science

Super Penguin: Seeing Is Believing, But Is It Understanding?     10/01/2010    
Oct 1, 2010 — Another fossil of a giant penguin in Peru has been found (cf. 06/26/2007).  It apparently had reddish-brown underwings and stood as tall as a man.  It must have been a strong swimmer.  Nicknamed “water king,” the mammoth penguin was placed at the 36 million mark on the evolutionary timeline.  One remarkable feature of this fossil, however, is the variety of statements it has generated by scientists saying, on the one hand, “We just don’t know” much about this amazing bird, and on the other, that it “sheds light on bird evolution” (see article in National Geographic News).
    Writing for NG news, Ker Than began: “They don’t make penguins like they used to.”  The pronoun had no antecedent, but it is doubtful Mr. Than was embracing creation: “The new species, called the water king, sheds light on bird evolution, researchers say.”  This remarkable bird was apparently fully penguin.  It had strong flippers and more tuxedo decor than many modern species.  Even more remarkable, feathers were recovered that still had pigment bodies – melanocytes – with reddish brown coloration remaining in them.  “The finding, detailed this week in the journal Science, marks the first time feathers and preserved scales from an ancient penguin have ever been found.”  It’s hard to understand how this fossil could shed light on bird evolution, given that the melanocytes “had a similar structure and organization as those of living birds that have reddish brown and/or grey feathers, including robins and zebra finches.”
    A succession of maybes and perhapses ensued.  As to why the black tuxedo fashion evolved, Ker Than suggested that “perhaps” it was to help camouflage them against predators, but “Then again, the melanosome evidence suggests the tuxedo look might have been a side effect of the birds’ increasingly aquatic lifestyle.”  The melanocytes differ from those of living penguins.  As to which way evolution was going, the answer appears to be luck of the draw from a grab bag of possibilities: “It’s possible, the team speculates, that the melanosome metamorphosis made penguin feathers stronger—helping transform their wings into stiff, narrow ‘flippers’ for swimming—or conferred some other unknown advantage.”  Two other possibilities followed the catch-all unknown advantage category.  The shape shifts in the melanosomes might not have anything to do with color; “Then again, the black-and-white look may have arisen ‘due to changes in penguin ecology that we haven’t figured out yet,’” one researcher fumbled.  “We just don’t know.
    The paper in Science1 also had little to show about evolution, either by observation or understanding: “The fossil reveals that key feathering features including undifferentiated primary wing feathers and broad body contour feather shafts evolved early in the penguin lineage.  Analyses of fossilized color-imparting melanosomes reveal that their dimensions were similar to those of nonpenguin avian taxa and that the feathering may have been predominantly gray and reddish-brown.”  No explanation was given for the different shapes of the melanosome clusters, whether the modern ones are fitter, or why saying something “evolved early” confers understanding.
    As for the implausible idea that feathers and melanosomes could survive in Peru for 36 million years, the authors admitted that the “Presence of intact lesser covert feather bases and tips (in part and counterpart) represents a dimensionality rare in feather preservation.”  The paper also said little about bird evolution, leaving the inquisitive reader of National Geographic News wondering how it sheds light on it, in spite of the title that promised to reveal “Fossil Evidence for Evolution of the Shape and Color of Penguin Feathers.”
    Somehow, all the bet-hedging and fabrication of composite explanations produced understanding.  “The ability to interpret the color of the water king penguin’s feathers is ‘really quite remarkable and represents a huge breakthrough in the study of vertebrate paleontology,’” a New Zealand zoologist promised.  Mike Benton of the UK University of Bristol crowed, the water king fossil “shows how paleobiologists now can span the boundary between living and fossil and seek to understand important functional systems.”
1.  Clarke et al, “Fossil Evidence for Evolution of the Shape and Color of Penguin Feathers,” Science, Published Online in Science Express September 30, 2010; DOI: 10.1126/science.1193604.
Tell us when you get there.  Tell us when you understand.  Tell us when you can span the boundary between living and fossil so as to tell how penguins got from there to here.  Tell us how melanocytes and feathers survived for 36 mythical million years.  Tell us why changes from bigger to smaller without morphological changes should be called evolution.  Tell us when you get the flashlight to shed some light on evolution.  All we hear so far is confusion and waffling.  We don’t see any evolution to shed light on in the first place.
    This super-bird was bigger, badder and fitter than today’s penguins – exceeding by a foot the four-foot emperor penguins made famous by March of the Penguins, with twice the body mass.  According to the artist’s reconstruction, it was fully equipped with tuxedo wetsuit and outfitted for powerful swimming just as much as today’s penguins.  The melanocyte differences are trivial.  They should have worried about how the delicate structures and the feathers could be preserved at all for so long.
    The Darwin bluffing charade continues: they promise but don’t deliver (cf. 09/22/2010).  Some of us are not convinced that Darwin should get a pass just because he wears a Science badge.  Science badges can be faked.  They don’t make reliable science badges like they used to.
Next headline on:  BirdsFossilsDating MethodsDarwin and Evolution
  Have you been told that mitochondria are remnants of a microbe that became an endosymbiont of another microbe?  Our 10/07/2003 story said, don’t be so sure.

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“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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Guide to Evolution
 
Featured Creation Scientist for October

Douglas Dewar
1875 - 1957

An eminent ornithologist and former evolutionist, Douglas Dewar helped organize a movement against the theory of evolution in Britain in the post-Scopes era.

The following description of his life is taken from Men of Science, Men of God by Henry M. Morris:

Douglas Dewar (1875 - 1957) was a founder of the Evolution Protest Movement in London in 1932 and was a long-time leader of this organization.  He had been a graduate of Cambridge in Natural Science and was an evolutionist in his early career, even authoring books on evolution.  He had a distinguished career in India, both in politics and as a naturalist and ornithologist, authoring more than 20 books on the birds and the history of India.  After he became a Christian and creationist, when he was about 50 years of age, he wrote numerous papers and books expounding the scientific basis of creationism.  He was elected Vice President of the Victoria Institute and participated in a number of both written and oral creation/evolution debates with leading British evolutionists, including H. S. Shelton, J. B. S. Haldane, and Joseph McCabe.”

The Evolution Protest Movement is now called the Creation Science Movement and is still active.  Their website mentions Douglas Dewar as one of the prime movers of the organization.  His title is listed as “barrister and Auditor General of the Indian Civil Service.”  He served as the EPM’s third president from 1946 to 1957, the year he died.

Some may remember a palm-sized booklet distributed by the Evolution Protest Movement that summarized key scientific evidences against Darwin’s ideas.  This booklet was widely circulated in the 1950s and 1960s when few creationist resources were available.

A search on Amazon.com shows that 38 books by Douglas Dewar are still listed.  To have written 20 books on birds of India, the Himalayas and Kashmir suggests years of travel, adventure, and detailed scientific observation in a country far distant from his native land. 

Among the many scientific books on birds and ornithology, the catalog lists half a dozen other books by Dewar on the creation/evolution controversy. Most notably, his anti-evolution book The Transformist Illusion (1957) received three five-star ratings by reviewers.  The reviews are well worth reading.

Another book is a debate against J. B. S. Haldane.  For Dewar to take on this prominent evolutionary theorist is noteworthy.  Remember what evolutionist Steve Jones said about Haldane? (09/02/2004) –

Set against the bearded bigot [R. A. Fisher], the Gandalf-like figure of Haldane is revealed in a rather better light.  A daring and often reckless experimenter, he was known in the trenches as the Rajah of Bomb and was pursued by the whiff of cordite [smokeless powder] throughout his career.  He stuck with the Communist party long after his colleagues had abandoned it, and Kohn provides a telling account of Haldane’s readiness to support Comrade Lysenko even in the face of powerful evidence against his theories.

So if the communist Haldane was fond of Lysenko, who is today roundly denounced as a mad scientist responsible for artificial famines in Russia and China that killed millions, what should we think of Haldane’s adherence to “Chairman Charles” as Jones called Darwin?  This should be an interesting debate to go back and review.

Douglas Dewar gives the lie to the myth that creationists are atavisms from the church indoctrination of their youth and cannot accept evolution for religious reasons.  Here, a man was an esteemed scientist with a long scientific and publishing career, with political leadership experience, before he turned against Darwinism in his mature years.  He was so adamant in his scientific objections to evolution, he devoted himself to the formation of an Evolution Protest Movement and helped lead it for 12 years in his 70s and 80s.  In addition, he debated leading evolutionists, and wrote books that are still highly regarded today.


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.
Copies are also available from our online store.

A Concise Guide
to Understanding
Evolutionary Theory

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

First Law of Scientific Progress
The advance of science can be measured by the rate at which exceptions to previously held laws accumulate.
Corollaries:
1. Exceptions always outnumber rules.
2. There are always exceptions to established exceptions.
3. By the time one masters the exceptions, no one recalls the rules to which they apply.

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

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

Finagle’s 2nd Law
No matter what the anticipated result, there will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c) believe it happened according to his own pet theory.

Finagle’s Rules
3. Draw your curves, then plot your data.
4. In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.
6. Do not believe in miracles – rely on them.

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

Maier’s Law
If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
Corollaries:
1. The bigger the theory, the better.
2. The experiments may be considered a success if no more than 50% of the observed measurements must be discarded to obtain a correspondence with the theory.

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

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

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

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

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

Souder’s Law
Repetition does not establish validity.

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

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

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

Ruckert’s Law
There is nothing so small that it can’t be blown out of proportion

Hawkins’ Theory of Progress
Progress does not consist in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is right.  It consists in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong.

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

Disraeli’s Dictum
Error is often more earnest than truth.

Advice from Paul

Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.

I Timothy 6:20-21

Song of the True Scientist

O Lord, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom You have made them all.  The earth is full of Your possessions . . . . May the glory of the Lord endure forever.  May the Lord rejoice in His works . . . . I will sing to the Lord s long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.  May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more.  Bless the Lord, O my soul!  Praise the Lord! 

from Psalm 104

Maxwell’s Motivation

Through the creatures Thou hast made
Show the brightness of Thy glory.
Be eternal truth displayed
In their substance transitory.
Till green earth and ocean hoary,
Massy rock and tender blade,
Tell the same unending story:
We are truth in form arrayed.

Teach me thus Thy works to read,
That my faith,– new strength accruing–
May from world to world proceed,
Wisdom’s fruitful search pursuing
Till, thy truth my mind imbuing,
I proclaim the eternal Creed –
Oft the glorious theme renewing,
God our Lord is God indeed.

James Clerk Maxwell
One of the greatest physicists
of all time (a creationist).

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(a 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.)

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(a reader who found us in Georgia)

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Sincerely, Rev. [name withheld] (an ex-Catholic, “apostate Christian” Natural/Scientific pantheist)

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(from two prominent creation researchers/writers in Oregon)

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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.”
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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.”
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(a year later):
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(a reader in North Carolina)

“Great site!  For all the Baloney Detector is impressive and a great tool in debunking wishful thinking theories.”
(a reader in the Netherlands)

“Just wanted to let you know, your work is having quite an impact.  For example, major postings on your site are being circulated among the Intelligent Design members....”
(a PhD organic chemist)

“It’s like ‘opening a can of worms’ ... I love to click all the related links and read your comments and the links to other websites, but this usually makes me late for something else.  But it’s ALWAYS well worth it!!”
(a leader of a creation group)

“I am a regular visitor to your website ... I am impressed by the range of scientific disciplines your articles address.  I appreciate your insightful dissection of the often unwarranted conclusions evolutionists infer from the data... Being a medical doctor, I particularly relish the technical detail you frequently include in the discussion living systems and processes.  Your website continually reinforces my conviction that if an unbiased observer seeks a reason for the existence of life then Intelligent Design will be the unavoidable conclusion.”
(a medical doctor)

“A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.  I told him CreationSafaris.com.”
(a PhD geologist)

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

“Thank you so much for the interesting science links and comments on your creation evolution headlines page ... it is very informative.”
(a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)

“I still visit your site almost every day, and really enjoy it.  Great job!!!  (I also recommend it to many, many students.)
(an educational consultant)

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

“It is refreshing to read your comments.  You have a knack to get to the heart of the matter.”
(a reader in the Air Force).

“Love your website.  It has well thought out structure and will help many through these complex issues.  I especially love the Baloney Detector.”
(a scientist).

“I believe this is one of the best sites on the Internet.  I really like your side-bar of ‘truisms.’  Yogi [Berra] is absolutely correct.  If I were a man of wealth, I would support you financially.”
(a registered nurse in Alabama, who found us on TruthCast.com.)

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

“Just wanted to say that I recently ran across your web site featuring science headlines and your commentary and find it to be A++++, superb, a 10, a homerun – I run out of superlatives to describe it! ... You can be sure I will visit your site often – daily when possible – to gain the latest information to use in my speaking engagements.  I’ll also do my part to help publicize your site among college students.  Keep up the good work.  Your material is appreciated and used.”
(a college campus minister)

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