Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Bogey Moment with PZ Myers

It is interesting to see how evolutionists respond to failures of their theory. For all their talk of following the evidence and adjusting to new data, evolutionists find all kinds of ways to resist learning from their failures. Consider one of the major failures of evolution, its view of the very nature of biological change. Twentieth century evolutionary theory held that biological change is a rather simple process that is blind to the needs of the organism. As Julian Huxley, grandson of Darwin confidant T. H. Huxley, put it, mutations "occur without reference to their possible consequences or biological uses."

Observations have long since been made to the contrary, but evolutionists cast it as the Lamarckian heresy. Researchers knew they should not suggest a correlation between environmental pressure and biological response, as the careers of those who did were ruined. An early example was Paul Kammerer, an Austrian biologist who experimented with toads.

Kammerer committed suicide after he was assailed as a fraud and ever since Lamarckian ideas could only be whispered in the hallways. Even today the Wikipedia entry begins:

Lamarckism (or Lamarckian inheritance) is the once popularly accepted, but since mainly discredited, idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring.

Discredited? Only in the minds of evolutionists. Yes, what we now understand is far more intelligent and nuanced than anything Lamarck envisioned. And it won't likely produce large-scale, macro evolutionary change.

But the notion of environmental pressures causing biological change which can be passed on to subsequent generations--what Kammerer argued he had observed--certainly remains intact.

Not only is it not discredited, but since the days of Kammerer evidence has mounted for precisely this type of inheritance. In recent decades the abundant evidence for such inheritance has simply become undeniable--except, that is, to evolutionists. The whole topic has remained a third rail in evolution-dom. As one evolutionist recently admitted:

The really heretical thing to say is that the environment could be pushing the epigenetic information in a direction that is beneficial … that raises the hackles.

Epigenetics is the field of study that investigates the incredibly complex molecular mechanisms responsible for a wide range of responses, including Lamarckian inheritance. You can see a recent review here.

Nonetheless evolutionists continue to resist and deny the long-standing evidence. Sharon Begley's recent piece in Newsweek about Kammerer, for instance, sent evolutionist PZ Myers into a Bogey Moment as he declared:

Aaaargh! Epigenetics is not Lamarckism! ... I don't think academia has been neglecting this field because of dogma, either. Epigenetics is hot right now (and again, it's NOT Lamarckism!), ... We're all the evolution police. It isn't as sinister as Begley seems to imply: we just demand a little more evidence than speculation.

Not Lamarckism? Unbelievable. And I suppose Darwin didn't use any religious arguments either. And of course there is no dogma in any of this, certainly not. The ball bearings are rolling.

And the evolutionist's are merely seeking a little more evidence than speculation? You've got to be kidding me, an evolutionist downplaying speculation? That would be like Bozo downplaying unicycles. Should we laugh or cry at this hypocrisy. If this wasn't ruining science it would be hilarious.

Evolution dramatically failed in its view of biological change. The response of the evolutionists is even more telling.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cellular Polarity

In recent years bacteria have been found to be more complex than evolutionists anticipated. For instance, the cell's protein machines are found at specific locations, such as one end or the other, within the cell rather than randomly strewn about. Given the incredible complexity found across the spectrum in biology's life forms, a high degree of intracellular organization in bacteria hardly seems surprising. But for evolutionists, life is a fluke. As one evolutionist put it, bacteria are typically viewed as unstructured “bags of enzymes.”

It is remarkable that such a view could persist given what has been known for decades. Indeed, even before so many of the molecular and cellular mechanisms were elucidated biology's high complexity could be inferred.

It is a testament to the blinding effect of evolution that even recently bacteria could be viewed as unstructured “bags of enzymes.”

And it is yet another example of evolution's "life is a fluke" blunder that has played out over and over. The history of evolution is full of false leads and surprises. "We once thought it was so simple ..." is the evolutionary refrain, followed by "isn't evolution incredible." As leading evolutionist Bruce Alberts admitted in 1998:

We have always underestimated cells. Undoubtedly we still do today. But at least we are no longer as naive as we were when I was a graduate student in the 1960s. Then, most of us viewed cells as containing a giant set of second-order reactions: molecules A and B were thought to diffuse freely, randomly colliding with each other to produce molecule AB—and likewise for the many other molecules that interact with each other inside a cell. This seemed reasonable because, as we had learned from studying physical chemistry, motions at the scale of molecules are incredibly rapid. … But, as it turns out, we can walk and we can talk because the chemistry that makes life possible is much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we students had ever considered. Proteins make up most of the dry mass of a cell. But instead of a cell dominated by randomly colliding individual protein molecules, we now know that nearly every major process in a cell is carried out by assemblies of 10 or more protein molecules. And, as it carries out its biological functions, each of these protein assemblies interacts with several other large complexes of proteins. Indeed, the entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines. […]

Why do we call the large protein assemblies that underlie cell function protein machines? Precisely because, like the machines invented by humans to deal efficiently with the macroscopic world, these protein assemblies contain highly coordinated moving parts. Within each protein assembly, intermolecular collisions are not only restricted to a small set of possibilities, but reaction C depends on reaction B, which in turn depends on reaction A—just as it would in a machine of our common experience. […]

We have also come to realize that protein assemblies can be enormously complex. … As the example of the spliceosome should make clear, the cartoons thus far used to depict protein machines (e.g., Figure 1) vastly underestimate the sophistication of many of these remarkable devices. [Cell 92:291-294]

Yes, the cell is sophisticated, but evolutionists would continue with their "life is a fluke" assumption. And they would continue to be astounded. As one researcher exclaimed a decade later, “It’s amazing to us. We thought the cell was so simple.” Religion drives science and it matters.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Speed of Thought

Computers are becoming faster and more powerful all the time and those improvements have been mainly due to better hardware. Future improvements, however, may well rely increasingly on better architecture and software. One reason why this seems likely is that the human brain, with its very different architecture, dramatically out performs computers in performing various tasks (such as perceiving an object in a complex visual scene). If computers are to match the brain's performance, they likely will need to exploit features of the brain's design.

In some regards the brain's hardware is far beyond that of a computer. Its "wires," for instance, would go to the moon if stretched out. That's about 10,000 times longer than all the wire in a typical microprocessor chip. Similarly, the brain has about a hundred million million synapses (the connecting junctions between neurons) which is many thousands times more than the number of transistors in the microprocessor.

But perhaps even more amazing is the brain's architecture and software. For instance, whereas computers are based on the Von Neumann architecture which separates computation and memory, the brain combines these elements in ways not well understood.

Also, whereas computer components are highly predictable (deterministic) the brain's synapses are much less predictable (probabilistic). Any given signal may have only a 20% chance of successfully crossing the synapse and this is compensated with substantial redundancy. Aside from tremendous fault tolerance, this allows the brain to rapidly increase signals by modifying the probability of synapse crossing.

Such differences provide a profoundly different, and probably more powerful, computing architecture compared to the microprocessor. As one paper explains:

Because the brain is not bound by the Von Neumann architecture, exactly what a particular neural circuit computes can be modified on the fly without reference to other circuits (as when we shift our focus of attention from one thing to another) and can also remember things for a lifetime (how to ride a bicycle).

Exploiting the brain's architecture, however, will not be easy. For instance, we need to better understand how to use parallel computers:

The problem with emulating the brain’s massive parallelism, however, is that we are not even close to being able to use the increased hardware power efficiently; how to program parallel computers is a very active subject now in computer science.

But even the parallel programming problem is only the beginning. The far more difficult problem is to divine just what information processing and computations are carried out in the brain's neural circuits:

we believe the problem is not computer power and ability to program parallel machines, but rather our nearly total ignorance about what computations are actually carried out by the brain. Our view is that computers will never equal our best abilities until we can understand the brain’s design principles and the mathematical operations employed by neural circuits well enough to build machines that incorporate them.

If you find the brain's design astonishing, consider this even more astonishing fact: evolutionists say it all just evolved. The ability of the brain to develop from scratch, and its design and operation, they say, all arose from mutant forms. Amazing.

Two thousand years ago the Epicureans explained that the organization in nature arose from nothing more than the swerving motions of atoms. How naive. Evolution has moved us far beyond such a silly idea. Religion drives science and it matters.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Richard Dawkins' Bogey Moment

Leading evolutionist Richard Dawkins has a new book out this fall entitled The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Newsweek is running an excerpt from the book which reveals just how flawed are those evidences. Of course it is merely an excerpt and I will be sure to read the entire book in search of the strongest arguments for evolution. But isn't an excerpt supposed to be a highlight? If so, Dawkins' evidences for evolution must be as weak as those already presented by so many evolutionists. The piece is, however, a highlight of evolutionary thinking.

Dawkins spends much of the piece discussing the fossil evidence. It is true that many species appear abruptly in the fossil record but Dawkins argues that such abruptness is an illusion caused by gaps in the fossil record. For instance, perhaps soft-bodied creatures dominated the landscape during the gap periods. This argument goes back to Darwin and is of course a possibility, but it is not falsifiable. There is no way to disprove this evolution-motivated notion that the overwhelming message of rapid appearance is an illusion.

Dawkins makes several attempts to justify this move but predictably retreats to the evolutionary comfort zone of creation bashing. A Bogey Moment emerges as Dawkins suddenly castigates those “history-deniers” and explains that the failure to find fossils of today’s flatworms justifies the pattern of abruptness in the fossil record because “Creationists believe that flatworms were created in the same week as all other creatures.”

I'm well familiar with the evolution genre but I'm still amazed when I read this stuff. Could this be a spoof? No, the Newsweek piece appears genuine--genuine insanity that is. You cannot make this stuff up.

Evolution has always relied on religious arguments about the failure of creation but here Dawkins’ diatribe against creation takes the art form to new heights. The Cambrian Explosion is not a problem for evolution because otherwise creation would be inconsistent. This is the evidence for evolution.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Falling Apple Fulfills Another Gravitational Prediction!

If physicists don't get excited when an apple falls to earth as predicted by gravity, then why do evolutionists get so excited about even lesser successes? After all, we're constantly told that evolution is as much a fact as is gravity. Joseph Le Conte complained 120 years ago that we ought not say "evolutionist" any more than we would say "gravitationalist." Both gravity and evolution are obvious facts, right? So why were evolutionists so excited this week about the pseudo fulfilled prediction about feathered dinosaurs? As Jerry Coyne exclaimed:

Feathered dinos older than Archaeopteryx fulfill an evolutionary prediction!

I call this a pseudo fulfilled prediction because the prediction is soft, not hard. If an apple failed to fall to earth one day it would be a big deal. On the other hand, if no feathered dinosaurs older than Archaeopteryx were found, evolutionists would yawn and generate another just-so story.

Why is a pseudo fulfilled prediction so important? Because evolution has spawned so many false predictions--fundamental false predictions. Evolutionists need every success they can find--even pseudo successes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Is Evolution Irreversible? Straining at a Gnat While Swallowing a Camel

In an example of straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel, evolutionists are now saying that certain designs, which of course they say evolved, cannot retrace their steps. That is, the supposed evolutionary pathway that led to the stunning design is not reversible. The example at hand is glucocorticoid receptor, a protein that binds to the stress hormone, cortisol.

The reason why this protein cannot go home, evolutionarily speaking, is due to five mutations that are supposed to have occurred. While these five mutations refined the protein's ability to find and bind cortisol, they also would destabilize the ancestral structure. In other words, if the protein were to revert to its ancestral structure, it would first need to reverse those five mutations. But, the evolutionists say, reversing those mutations would not help improve the ancestral function. They write:

we demonstrate that five subsequent ‘restrictive’ mutations, which optimized the new specificity of the glucocorticoid receptor, also destabilized elements of the protein structure that were required to support the ancestral conformation. Unless these ratchet-like epistatic substitutions are restored to their ancestral states, reversing the key function-switching mutations yields a non-functional protein. Reversing the restrictive substitutions first, however, does nothing to enhance the ancestral function.

Anyone familiar with the evolution genre knows the extreme heroics they routinely employ to make their theory work. When necessary evolutionists do not hesitate to make a mockery of science to avoid admitting the obvious--that evolution does not explain the evidence very well.

But when the adequacy of evolution is not at stake, when only the more esoteric issue of evolution's reversibility is under consideration, then evolutionists suddenly are free to point to obvious barriers.

They tell us that evolution created everything we have discovered: The DNA code, all of the genomes, the factory that makes glucocorticoid receptor and the other proteins, and a thousand other marvels. They cannot tell us just how this occurred, but they assure us that it is a fact. To deny any of this would be to deny evolution.

And yet when evolution is not at stake, then a mere five mutations halts the magic. Unbelievable.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Roll Over Bernoulli

Sometimes it seems that every evidence for evolution ultimately fails. Take for example what may be the most nuanced, and yet persuasive, evidence for evolution: patterns in nature. The claim is that non random patterns are evidence of a naturalistic origin. Therefore evolutionists use random design as their null hypothesis. This tradition in the evolution genre can be traced at least as far back as 1734 in Daniel Bernoulli's award-winning paper on the origin of the solar system.

Bernoulli's test for non random design

Bernoulli used the fact that the orbits of the planets about the sun fall into striking patterns. They are roughly in the same plane, and they circle the sun in the same direction. It is highly unlikely that this is due to mere coincidence and Bernoulli rightly concluded that the planetary orbits are far from random.

This fact that the orbits are far from random was highly significant for Bernoulli. He argued strenuously that this proved that the solar system was formed by a single cause. One problem with Bernoulli's logic is that a design can be far from random and yet nonetheless highly variable. In other words, the test for non randomness is not very precise.

Indeed, in later years the many variations in the planetary orbits would require a number of causes to be hypothesized. In order to create the various oddities in the planetary orbits, as well as our moon, cosmologists were hypothesizing a cosmic game of billiards with celestial objects careening and crashing into each other. Long gone was Bernoulli's single cause even though the solar system still passed his test of non randomness.

Immanuel Kant makes the metaphysics explicit

Another problem with Bernoulli's proof was the underlying metaphysics of naturalism. This became explicit twenty years later when the great philosopher Immanuel Kant reiterated the argument. The solar system must have evolved via natural laws, concluded Kant, because if God had designed the solar system it would not have the patterns we observe:

It is clear that there is no reason why the celestial bodies must organize their orbits in one single direction. … Thus, God’s choice, not having the slightest motive for tying them to one single arrangement, would reveal itself with a greater freedom in all sorts of deviations and differences.

And after Kant the great French mathematician and scientist, Pierre Laplace repeated the argument. Laplace and Kant are, to this day, credited with elucidating the foundational thesis of the evolution of the solar system. They both were quite certain their reasoning had led to a new truth. This was no mere hypothesis or theory.

Darwin's use of non random design in biology

Like astronomy, biology also reveals many patterns. And like Bernoulli, Kant and Laplace, Darwin proved his theory of evolution to be true using random design as the null hypothesis. Darwin cited patterns that revealed biological designs are not random. Echoing Kant, Darwin rhetorically asked, “Why should not Nature take a sudden leap from structure to structure?” For Darwin biology revealed consistent patterns. “We never find the bones of the arm and forearm, or of the thigh and leg, transposed.” This was his null hypothesis: unconstrained, random design. Its failure and the patterns in biology left non evolutionary explanations “hopeless.”

Following Darwin, evolutionists continued to interpret patterns in biology as proofs of their theory. Everything from blood immunity data to chimp-human DNA comparisons are, for Darwinists, mandates for common descent, regardless of evidential difficulties. The important point here is that evolution is viewed as the only alternative to random design. That is a metaphysical claim.

And as with the theory of the evolution of the solar system, the theory of biological evolution also had to be substantially patched due to the many variations of designs. In other words, yes biological designs reveal patterns that are far from random, but the many variations in those designs defy evolutionary explanations.

Other star systems not so orderly

In recent years planets circling distant stars have been detected. Many of them seemed to defy our understanding of how star systems would form (based on studies of our solar system). Now, new research is showing that the evidence is even more defiant as a substantial fraction of these distant planets are found to have non standard (more random) orbits about their sun. As one astronomer explained, the new findings represent “a spectacular upheaval of the standard view of close-in planet formation … and probably indicate instead catastrophic encounters between several planets.”

So star systems can be chaotic after all. The orderly, non random, solar system of Bernoulli and Kant now appears to be anything but the norm. They argued that such orderliness was proof of evolution, but now we see that evolution accommodates chaotic designs as well. It turns out that such orderliness was not so crucial. It was the motivation for the original argument from non random design, but as usual nature has turned out to be more complicated than evolution expected.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Best of the Worst

If you are sending your child off to college to learn biology and you are concerned about the evolutionary propaganda in which your child will be immersed, then professor Stephen Matheson is about the best you can hope for. Matheson is an evolutionist, but he is a thoughtful one. Matheson is less dogmatic than most evolutionists. But within the evolution spectrum, the best one can hope for is still problematic. Consider this statement from Matheson's blog:

The strength of [common descent] arises not from the evidence that supports it, although one can certainly build an overwhelmingly compelling case on that basis alone. The strength of the theory arises from its vast explanatory power.

Here Matheson radically misrepresents scientific evidence. The claim that the case for common descent is "overwhelmingly compelling" is an incredible over reach. Indeed, the evidence is so mixed that even evolutionists have expressed doubts in recent years. Evolution is having to be patched and repatched to fit the data.

While much evidence does fit the common descent pattern, much evidence does not. And those evidences that do not fit the pattern often are stunning departures. The picture is a muddle and to say that the idea is "overwhelmingly compelling" is simply bad science.

But this is not Matheson's main point. It gets worse from here. Matheson's main point is that common descent has great explanatory power. This claim that evolution or common descent has such great explanatory power is a code phrase amongst evolutionists for the religious belief that god wouldn't have designed it that way. In fact, evolution and common descent have essentially zero explanatory power for what we observe.

Common descent doesn't explain how genes arose, or the DNA code, the fantastic trilobite eye, or a thousand other marvels. Nor does common descent explain striking similarities in distant species or striking differences in otherwise allied species. In fact this so called "explanation" of common descent goes like this: When the data fit the expected pattern then it is due to common descent, and when the data don't fit then they are not due to common descent. Or more succinctly, common descent explains the evidence except when it doesn't.

This lack of explanatory power has never stopped evolutionists from claiming that their theory has great explanatory power. After all, they can always draw upon the contingencies of natural history. A comet hit, a mutation occurred, who knows, somehow what we observe evolved. Their great confidence does not come from their explanations of how evolution is supposed to work, but rather from how creation is supposed not to work. Enter the metaphysics.

Repeatedly in the evolution genre you will see phrases such as "while we can make sense of this under evolution, it makes no sense under creation." The bar is moved ever so low for evolution because it is the only possible answer--the metaphysics makes it the only option. Darwin first used this move at the end of his two chapters on variation where he wrote:

And we can clearly understand these analogies, if species once existed as varieties, and thus originated; whereas, these analogies are utterly inexplicable if species are independent creations.

Clearly understand? Actually there is very little understanding under common descent and evolution. But that's not the point--evolution is the only choice. As Matheson puts it:

The data that make common descent so scientifically compelling are not just the data that “support” the theory. To really understand why common descent is such a powerful theory, one must focus on data that are explained by the theory, findings that just don’t make sense without an explanatory framework of common ancestry.

The "just don’t make sense without ... common ancestry" is a metaphysical claim. It states that of all possible explanations, only common descent makes sense. If that's true then, yes, common descent becomes compelling. It is the fact that evolutionists claim it is. It is the truth that they proclaim.

Evolutionists misrepresent the evidence and smuggle metaphysics into science--even the best of them. Religion drives science and it matters.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Falk Misrepresents the Science of Biology

Evolutionist Darrel Falk, biology professor and co-president of The BioLogos Foundation, this week reports that evolution is both theology and scientifically mandated. Falk's theological arguments are largely motivated by the problem of evil. That argument has been fueling evolutionary thought since before the eighteenth century Enlightenment. Philosopher David Hume claimed it trumped the problem of complexity (the creator would never have caused all this misery so complexity must have arisen naturally), and Charles Darwin followed with examples of predation as one of his many metaphysical mandates for evolution.

Such religious arguments have always been at the foundation of evolutionary thought and Falk, to his credit, does not try to hide the crucial role of theology. What is less commendable, however, is Falk's gross misrepresentation of the science. According to Falk evolution is not merely theologically correct, but scientifically correct as well.

Natural selection, Falk explains to his readers, is "a process that the science of biology shows really does explain how the machinery inside cells is built." It would be hard to imagine a more dastardly misrepresentation of the science of biology. Most readers are not in the position to critically evaluate such a statement. The evidence is somewhat detailed and subtle so many readers are dependent on scientists to explain in plain English what the evidence reveals.

Falk's statement is in plain English. But it is simply false. There is no nice way of putting it--Falk is foisting a gross misrepresentation upon the unsuspecting reader.

Indeed, the notion of evolution's natural selection as the creative agent behind the origin of species has led to an abundance of flawed predictions. Today, not a few evolutionists in the know have backed off from such a claim. We simply cannot be so sure, given the empirical evidence, of natural selection's creative powers. Falk over reaches and it is obvious to anyone familiar with the evidence.

One of the most important duties of scientists is to represent science with fidelity. The rest of society depends on us to provide accurate and impartial reporting on what science is and is not telling us. Evolutionists consistently fail on this score. Religion drives science, and it matters.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Judge Jones at Southern Methodist University

This week federal Judge John Jones will be speaking at Southern Methodist University's special program on the teaching of evolution in our public schools. Four years ago Jones ruled that the Dover, Pennsylvania school district must not question evolution in its science classes. That decision earned the Lutheran a sort of celebrity status. He was featured on the cover of Time magazine, made its list of the 100 Most Influential People, and seems to be on a never ending speaking tour. There is only one problem: the Dover decision is packed with logical fallacies.

Perhaps the most important problem underlying the decision was that Judge Jones deemed himself capable of defining and distinguishing science, and in doing so got it all mixed up. For centuries philosophers have not been able to explain just what it is about science that makes it science. And it is not for lack of trying. The problem even has its own name: The Demarkation Problem.

But Jones, who evidences no significant knowledge of the philosophy of science, was only too happy to lay down the law for the people of Dover. His ruling is rich source material for a course on flawed legal decisions. For example, evolutionary thought is based on religious premises that mandate a strictly naturalistic origins, but according to Jones evolution is just good scientific research. He simply denied the mountain of religious content in evolutionary thought.

Of course this story is not really about Judge Jones. After all he is just the messenger. Jones' denialism is simply a reflection of evolution's denialism. Religion drives science and it matters.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Complex Plant Defense Strategies

Plants can be attacked by fungi, bacteria, viruses and insects and so, not surprisingly, plants have a variety of defense strategies. These strategies are initiated by hormones--chemical signals that are widespread in biology. New research is telling us more about the complex interactions between these signals in the plant Arabidopsis thalania. As one science writer explains:

Various plant hormones work together to specifically fend off attacks. ... By 'consulting' with each other plant hormones determine which defence mechanism they shall set in motion. ... three plant hormones - salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid (JA) and ethylene (ET) - cooperate with each other to initiate the correct defence response. ... JA is under the control of SA but if JA and ET cooperate then JA no longer 'listens' to SA. ... Switching on the defence mechanism requires a lot of energy from the plant and can go to the cost of growth and reproduction. It is therefore vital that the plant only initiates the defence mechanisms required.

The plant defense strategies are complex and finely-tuned. Evolutionists of course hypothesize that all this just happened to arise on its own. But that's not all--evolutionists insist that their hypothesis is a fact. They may not have all the details (that's an understatement), but their general idea must be true. So while they don't know how such marvels evolved, evolutionists are certain that they did evolve. This is a serious misrepresentation of the scientific evidence.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

John Patterson Demonizes Skepticism

For journalist John Patterson skepticism of evolution is all about bad people up to no good. Our latest sin, according to Patterson, is our less than enthusiastic interest in Jon Amiel's new film, Creation, which portrays Darwin as the heroic scientist who struggles to balance the profound new truth of evolution he has discovered with its impact on his wife's religious sentiments.

It is another example of Whiggish history, ignoring the scientific problems with evolution and its religious mandates and casting skepticism as the sole source of religious concern. The film might be brilliantly produced but do we really need another Inherit-the-Wind rewrite of history?

Patterson and the evolutionists of course disagree. They see the film as accurate history and so it is understandable that they hold works such as Creation in high esteem. What is of concern though are their caricatures and demonization of evolution skepticism. For Patterson, questioning evolution equates to "science-hating." Patterson writes:

the American right has taken a giant leap backwards, down to the knuckle-dragging, bulging-forehead stage of the evolutionary table. Just don't try telling these folks that their grandaddy was a chimp: they may have the smallest brains in America, but they also have the biggest guns.

People of this disposition cannot accept that we are somehow related to monkeys. You can say that about the new president, but not about the ape-like thugs shouting down US senators nationwide throughout August.

It is truly a Bogey Moment. Unfortunately Patterson's invective is not unusual. Evolutionists rarely address the skepticism, but rather attack the skeptic. This is the best they can do.

Jerry Coyne and the Problem of Evil

Jerry Coyne continues to demonstrate the sophistry that characterizes evolutionary thought, this time dealing with the problem of evil. Coyne begins his pretzel logic with the caution: "Now I’m no philosopher, but ..." and he ends it with: "But this is amateur philosophizing." Of course between these two ersatz caveats Coyne does not hesitate to pronounce truths. In other words, the evolutionist doesn't know what he is talking about, but talk he will. His ignorance is exceeded only by his certainty.

Coyne begins by failing to state a problem. He introduces the problem of evil as the question: Why does evil exist if god is all powerful and all good? That's a question, not a problem. It becomes a problem only when we acknowledge the unspoken premise that such a god would not allow evil.

This religious premise is implicit in Coyne's problem of evil just as religious premises are implicit in evolution. Pseudogenes, the mosquito, similarities between species and the design of orchids all prove evolution. How could this be so? As always, a crucial unspoken premise lurks--god (or a designer) wouldn't create such things.

Metaphysics are ubiquitous in evolutionary thought. Evolutionists claim evolution is a fact, and all proofs of evolution are metaphysical. There are many arguments proving that evolution is a fact, and all of them entail metaphysical premises.

And yet evolutionists are in denial of their own metaphysics. They hide their crucial premises and claim that the "fact" of evolution is a scientific conclusion.

Coyne's sophmoric treatment of the problem of evil (I won't mention the other problems as they are less relevant to evolution) parallels the arguments for evolution. Religion drives science, and it matters.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Question for Jonathan Weiner

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and professor Jonathan Weiner will be giving the second lecture of the Darwin Celebratory Lectures on the topic of variation. Weiner's award winning book, The Beak of the Finch, documents the adaptive variations observed in the finches on the Galapagos islands. Such adaptive change is both rapid and intelligent. For instance, the beaks of the finches adapted to changes brought about by drought years. It is another piece of evidence that species have incredible adaptive abilities, not that reptiles changed into birds.

The observed changes are brought about by a sophisticated adaptation machine that we are only beginning to figure out. Evolution does not explain the machine, much less why such adaptation should be viewed as evidence for large-scale, macro evolutionary change. Indeed, evolutionists in the know have long since questioned the notion that adaptive change leads to the needed macro evolutionary change.

So why do evolutionists routinely claim that adaptive change is powerful evidence--observable proof of evolution? Weiner's lecture will focus on chapters one and two of Darwin's book and here we find a clue. Darwin discusses biological variation and in the summary of chapter two he states that the evidences he has presented "are utterly inexplicable if species are independent creations." And if the species were not independently created then they must have evolved, one way or another.

Obviously Darwin had a specific idea in mind of what the species should look like if they had been independently created. The idea came from the eighteenth century Swedish mastermind botanist Carl Von Linne, and for evolutionists its falsification proves their theory.

Biological variation and adaptation demonstrate evolution not because they ultimately supply the needed large-scale change, but because they refute the alternative. As explained in Darwin's God:

Linnaeus’ fixity of species concept could accommodate an old earth, with its multiple creation events or successive revolutions. It could even accommodate extinctions. But it could not survive if science were to find that new species were routinely created by unguided natural forces.

Linnaeus was troubled when he discovered hybrids—species that are produced by the crossing of two related species—and he later softened his doctrine of fixity of species. But this was inconsequential: his system with its conception of species became deeply rooted, and the nineteenth century began with the notion of species as immutable still strongly in place.

This notion was increasingly being challenged but it was nonetheless a major obstacle for Darwin to overcome.

It was therefore highly significant when Darwin became persuaded that related populations of birds he saw at the Gallapagoes were actually different species. If there was the slightest foundation for this idea, Darwin had written in a famous notebook entry, it “would undermine the stability of species.

The birds did not suddenly reveal to Darwin how fishes could change to amphibians, or how amphibians could change to reptiles, or how reptiles could change to mammals. Rather, the revelation was that the idea of creation held by the modern mind, was suddenly becoming untenable. The crucible for Darwin was not an abundance of positive evidence for evolution but rather negative evidence against creation.

Evolutionist Ernst Mayr has pointed out that Darwin’s conversion from creationist to materialist was due to three key scientific findings and later reinforced by several additional findings. These scientific findings were all findings against creation. In other words, the key evidence that swayed Darwin was not direct evidence for evolution but rather evidence against creation that indirectly argued for evolution.

And as Mayr further points out, the doctrine of fixity of species was a key barrier to overcome in order if the concept of evolution was to flourish:

"Darwin called his great work On the Origin of Species, for he was fully conscious of the fact that the change from one species into another was the most fundamental problem of evolution. The fixed, essentialistic species was the fortress to be stormed and destroyed; once this had been accomplished, evolutionary thinking rushed through the breach like a flood through a break in a dike."

The pre-Darwinian metaphysic was that species were fixed and essentialistic. Evidence for small-scale change argued against the old view and in so doing became important evidence for evolution.

The question for Weiner is then: Is it proper for scientists to incorporate metaphysical assumptions in their theories? Religion drives science, and it matters.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Elliott Sober to Visit the University of Oklahoma

Next week the University of Oklahoma Department of Philosophy is hosting evolutionist Elliott Sober who will explain that the strong arguments used by Darwin are not from adaptive designs (i.e., designs that increase fitness), but rather useless or even deleterious designs. In what Sober has labeled Darwin's Principle, the evolutionary argument is not that the evidence makes common ancestry probable but that it makes the creation concept of separate ancestry improbable.

Sober will not mention that this means the argument entails religious premises. And the OU evolutionists will avoid asking about such awkwardness. There may be questions about how it is possible that informed people can fail to accept evolution. Or there may be polite questions about just how true is evolution. Is it as certain as gravity, or is heliocentrism a better analogy?

But no questions that matter will be posed, and no inconvenient truths will be considered. They will depart with increased assurances that evolution is our great discovery and wonder about how they can better teach this truth to their students. Religion drives science and it matters.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Evolution and the Thought Police

Evolutionist and psychologist Tania Lombrozo has been researching into what makes people believe in creation versus evolution and, as usual, the results falsify the evolutionary prediction. They also raise the spectre of some rather chilling consequences.

Evolution is driven by a sort of modern version of gnosticism that mandates that the world operate on its own. An obvious motivation for this belief is that it separates god from the evil in the world. We can't believe god created this mess so nature must have done it. David Hume powerfully made this argument in the eighteenth century, helping to lay the groundwork for Darwin and the evolutionists. In addition to providing the evolution theodicy, this gnosticism scratched several other metaphysical itches as well.

Of course there is nothing wrong with people holding to religious beliefs and following them to their logical ends. But evolutionists have always denied any such influence. The result is a bizarre combination of schizophrenia and hypocrisy where evolutionists literally switch from preaching their metaphysics one moment, to insisting they are strictly following the data and castigating others for forcing religion onto science the next moment. The internal contradictions are glaring and the science is absurd.

If the theological claims are true then evolution--somehow, some way--must also be true. So not surprisingly evolutionists have always insisted on the veracity of their theory. It is a fact, though the details have yet to be worked out. In fact, those scientific details are not very cooperative, and they make evolution look rather silly. But evoluionists want it both ways. They insist evolution is true, and they insist that the science must confirm their belief.

The scientific problems must be mere research problems (a sign of good science is that there are research problems, right?). The falsified predictions must simply be signs that we are learning (after all, do you expect science to know everything?). On the whole, the science must support evolution, one way or another.

So evolutionists have constructed the remarkable myth that science proves evolution to be a fact as much as gravity is a fact. It is an incredible over reach, but evolutionists insist that for any informed person even to doubt evolution would be irrational. So evolutionists predict that understanding evolution leads to a better chance of accepting it. Education should lead to concurrence. Enter Tania Lombrozo who has found no such correlation. She explains:

So I think one of the most surprising findings has to do with the relationship between understanding the basics of evolutionary theory and accepting it as our best account of the origins of human life. So most people, I think, [or] in particular scientists, tend to think that if people reject evolution and in particular evolution by natural selection, it's because they don't understand it very well; they don't really understand what the theory is telling us. But in fact, if you look at the data from psychology and education, what you find is either no correlation between accepting evolution and understanding it or very, very small correlation between those two factors, and I think that's surprising to a lot of people and in particular to educators and scientists.

In other words, increasing levels of understanding evolution do not lead to increasing levels of acceptance. This raises an ersatz ethical question for evolutionists: If education alone doesn't do the job, should other means of influencing beliefs be used to straiten people out? Lombrozo explains:

any kind of educational intervention that increases people's understanding of evolutionary theory is not necessarily going to have a consequence to whether or not people accept evolution. I think that's surprising, but it also raises a lot of complicated ethical issues; whether or not it's even appropriate in the classroom for teachers to be trying to deliberately influence students' acceptance of evolution as opposed to whether or not they understand it. We normally think about the role of education as being one to communicate basic concepts, to communicate scientific theories, not to actually change whether or not people accept a particular theory that might conflict with their relative views. So I think it raises some complicated issues there. ...

On the other hand, people's policy making decisions, their medical decisions and a lot of other decisions might depend not only on whether or not they understand evolution, but on whether or not they accept it. So in some sense, I think the public has a lot at stake in whether or not people accept evolution; but I am not sure the best way to proceed given these kinds of findings about the dissociation between acceptance and belief.

I'm glad that Lombrozo is unsure how to proceed, but it is disturbing that she and the evolutionists believe that acceptance, and not mere understanding, of evolution is so important for certain decisions. This certainly has not been the case in science. While Lombrozo may seem appropriately cautious here, the notion that "the public has a lot at stake whether or not people accept evolution" is a chilling thought.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mammalian-Like Clockwork in the Honey Bee

More than forty years ago evolutionists coined the term molecular clock to describe their concept that molecular changes tick away over long time periods and so can be used to measure how long it has been since two species have diverged from their common ancestor. Molecular clock predictions have consistently been falsified and in recent years a different sort of clock--the circadian clock--has also been found to have unexpected genetic patterns.

You may remember from second grade that honey bees perform a dance to guide other bees to food sources. Aristotle observed their intricate movements and Karl von Frisch won a Nobel Prize in 1973 for decoding the language of the bee. In fact bees can return to the same source many miles away and at precise times during the day. One important enabling design is the bee's circadian clock, which plays a role in several complex functions. As one paper put it:

The circadian clock of the honey bee is implicated in ecologically relevant complex behaviors. These include time sensing, time-compensated sun-compass navigation, and social behaviors such as coordination of activity, dance language communication, and division of labor.

Of course evolutionists do not know how such wonders arose by themselves. And recently the story became even more unbelievable when it was discovered that the bee's molecular clockwork contradicts evolutionary expectations. That is, structure and expression patterns of genes associated with the bee's clock are inconsistent with the fly and closer to mammalian clock genes. As one evolutionist admitted:

the discovery raises many additional questions concerning the evolution of biological clocks and the significance of differences in the organization of the clock in different creatures. For example, why is the clock of bees closer to humans than that of flies? Is the similarity between bees and mammals related to the behavioral complexity of bees? How did the clock of ancestral insects work: was it more similar to that of bees or flies?

It is yet another surprise to evolutionists who are really having their clocks cleaned.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Conserved Noncoding Elements: More Contradictory Genetic Data

Thousands of DNA segments have been found to be nearly identical across a wide range of species including human, mouse, rat, dog, chicken and fish. Evolutionary theory expected no such high similarity for species that are supposed to have been evolving independently for hundreds of millions of years. The only explanation could be a super strong functional constraint requiring the very unusual similarities, but none was found. Now new research is adding a twist to the story.

Certain highly similar DNA segments have been found that, while on the one hand are too similar when compared across the different species, on the other hand are limited to only one group of species. These highly similar segments are found in vertebrates, invertebrate chordates, nematodes, and arthropods, but they generally are restricted to those groups. That is, highly similar segments are found in the vertebrates, another set of highly similar segments are found in the invertebrates, and so forth.

These various segments seem to play the same types of regulatory roles across the vertebrates, invertebrate chordates, nematodes, and arthropods. Also, they share certain sequence properties. For instance, the vertebrate segments share striking nucleotide frequency patterns with the invertebrate segments.

So what does all this mean? To make sense out of the data from an evolutionary perspective we must believe that these thousands of sequences had to evolve independently and relatively rapidly in the vertebrates, invertebrate chordates, nematodes, and arthropods. This independent process of evolution produced all these sequences with similar functions across these disparate groups of species, and according to the same striking nucleotide frequency patterns. Amazing.

But that is not all. Then, after all these heroics, the evolution of these DNA segments, within each group, must have come to a mysterious and abrupt stop. These similarities within the groups make little sense on evolution. As one paper put it:

it is difficult to reconcile their extreme conservation with our current understanding of enhancer function.

It is yet another pattern that is the opposite of what evolution expected.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

No Precambrian Rabbits: Evolution Must Be True

Last week's review of Richard Dawkins' new book in the Economist hit all the usual chords. Dawkins' purpose is to demonstrate that evolution is a fact--as incontrovertible a fact as any in science, and the Economist is only too happy to propagate the absurdity. First, there are the usual silly evidential arguments that only work with the uninformed, of which there are apparently many. True, species appear abruptly in the fossil record but, explains the Economist, "That any traces at all remain from so long ago is astounding, and anyway it is not the completeness of the fossil record but its consistency that matters." After all, there are no fossil rabbits in the ancient strata. That's right, no rabbits before the Cambrian era. Astonishing, evolution must be true.

After this extreme example of the fallacy of affirming the consequent, the review next explains that:

The mammalian skeleton is consistently recognisable in creatures as various as bats, monkeys, horses and humans. Vestiges such as the stumpy wings of flightless birds, and the hairs that prickle on human skin just like the rising hackles on furry mammals, are further testimony to our shared origins. ... At the microscopic scale, molecular genetics connects the various parts of the grand family tree with fantastic detail and accuracy.

Testimony to our shared origins? Grand family tree? Evolutionists in the know are abandoning the venerable evolutionary tree, but don't tell the people. Here we have the fallacy of confirmation bias. There are multitudes of examples of similarities amongst the species that do not fit the evolutionary pattern. It is a glaring example of selecting the evidences that fit the theory, and ignoring the plethora of contradictions.

But the best is saved until last. As always, the real proof is the religious evidence. As the review proclaims:

Glitches, like the laryngeal nerves that are so neatly laid out in fish but that must detour in animals with necks—by a crazy 15 feet (4.6m) in the case of giraffes—demonstrate the incremental, undirected business of evolution in touching detail.

... among the many puzzles that evolution explains so well are the futility and suffering that are ubiquitous in the natural world. All trees would benefit from sticking to a pact to stay small, but natural selection drives them ever upward in search of the light that their competitors also seek. Surely an intelligent designer would have put the rainforest canopy somewhat lower, and saved on tree trunks? The cheetah is perfectly honed to hunt gazelles—but the gazelle is equally well equipped to escape cheetahs. So whose side is the designer on?

The ichneumon wasp paralyses its prey without killing it and lays its larva inside this convenient source of fresh meat, to eat it slowly alive. This is just one striking instance of the immensity of pain in the animal kingdom, which defies explanation except via the unyielding calculus of competitive survival.

With religious arguments like these who needs scientific evidence? But wait, evolution is supposed to be a fact of science. This is where the lie enters in.

It is fine for evolutionists to proclaim their silly idea a fact--it must be for anyone holding their religious dogma. Such religion trumps science, no matter how compelling. The science consistently goes against evolution, but it doesn't matter. Evolution must be true.

The point here is not whether the evolutionists' religious beliefs are right or wrong. If right, then evolution is no doubt true. The point, rather, is that evolution is driven by such arcane religious beliefs that cannot adjust to modern science.

These seventeenth century Enlightenment arguments laid the foundation for Darwin's religious tome, and evolutionists have applied those doctrines ever since. The sentiment of Dawkins and the Economist come right out of this Enlightenment piety. The evidences have been updated and the language has changed but what's important--the ideas--is still the same.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cellular Immune System Like a Computer

New research is uncovering the details of how our bodies defend themselves against pathogens. The broad outline of how the immune system recognizes and attacks pathogens has long been understood, but the new research is uncovering new and important details.

Using immune cells taken from mice, the researchers observed the response of thousands of genes after expsure to pathogens. What they found was a sophisticated hierarchy of actions. As one writer put it:

Cells receive and process information much like computers. Information flows in, is read and processed through a complex set of circuits, and an appropriate response is delivered. But instead of tiny transistors, the internal circuitry of mammalian cells is made up of vast networks of genes and their corresponding proteins. A frontier of modern genomic research is to identify these molecular parts and their interconnections, which reflect the normal — and sometimes faulty — "wiring" that underlies human biology and disease. Until recently, research in this area focused on yeast and bacteria because it was nearly impossible to undertake in mammals.

Decoding this cellular computer was not easy. The researchers systematically knocked out genes and recorded the resulting changes. They discovered a vast genetic circuitry, with thousands of connections between components, divided into two major arms for defense against viral and bacterial infections. They also found a hierarchy of control, with some genes controlling a wide array of activities and others more narrowly focused.

This is by no means the first time this sort of molecular circuitry has been found within the cell. Phenomenal DNA repair mechanisms have also been found in recent years. As one researcher put it:

It’s almost as if cells have something akin to a computer program that becomes activated by DNA damage, and that program enables the cells to respond very quickly.

Beyond these findings, what is truly amazing is that these mind-boggling designs arose all by themselves. Evolution, which produced so much junk DNA and so many useless designs, nonetheless performed miracle after miracle. Our best scientists are only scratching the surface of what that warm little pond gave rise to. Fortunately, evolutionists will figure all this out--after all, they're all about science.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jerry Coyne Preaches at University of Alabama

Jerry Coyne visited the University of Alabama last week to explain why evolution is true. Of course the "truth" of evolution comes from religious conviction. With religion one can say that evolution is as much a fact as is gravity. The claim makes no sense from a scientific perspective. It is not that evolutionists have made an error. They did not make a mistake in their calculations or misread a scientific observation. Their claim that evolution is as obvious as gravity is not really a mistake at all. It isn't even wrong--it simply is not scientific. Evolution is as obvious as gravity just like astrology is as obvious as gravity. These people clearly are playing by a different set of rules.

Don't take my word for it--read the evolution literature. Evolutionists agree that their theory is a fact as obvious as gravity, and when they go about proving their claim (usually they just assert the claim) they bring out their religion.

Coyne's recent book Why Evolution is True is a good example of this, and so was his talk at the University of Alabama. Amidst the ambiguous and contradictory evidences, Coyne made the usual metaphysical arguments about bad designs and unnecessary features. These are the powerful arguments that persuade evolutionists.

In fact these arguments seem so compelling and obvious to evolutionists they don't even realize they are metaphysical. Like the proverbial fish that isn't aware it is in water because that is all it has ever known, evolutionists are unaware of the metaphysics they swim in. Those most reliant and committed to metaphysics are those least aware of it.

As Alfred North Whitehead once observed, our most crucial assumptions "appear so obvious that people do not know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them.”

And so we have this bizarre, Emperor's-new-clothes, world of evolutionary denialism. Evolutionists at one moment make their religious pronouncements and the next tell the audience they are the scientists.

As Coyne explained with a straight face, he is all about the science of evolution whereas skeptics are driven by religion. Did you think Alice in Wonderland was make believe?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Evolutionary Theory Rewritten (Again)

Evolutionary theory has been rewritten yet again. We once thought, but now we understand ... you know the drill. Evolutionary theory is contradicted, overturned, reversed, rethought and rebaked at an alarming rate. It is uncanny how a fact could be so wrong. And with each new embarrassment we are told that science is advancing. If this is progress we would hate to see what failure looks like.

The latest rewrite has to do with that grand icon of evolution, the evolution of early man in Africa and migration out of Africa. But the narrative is now confounded by palaeontological findings in Eurasia. As one evolutionist put it:

Before our findings, the prevailing view was that humans came out of Africa almost 1 million years ago, that they already had sophisticated stone tools, and that their body anatomy was quite advanced in terms of brain capacity and limb proportions. But what we are finding is quite different ... The question is whether Homo erectus originated in Africa or Eurasia, and if in Eurasia, did we have vice-versa migration? This idea looked very stupid a few years ago, but today it seems not so stupid.

Evolution is unique in that it is a fact that is consistently wrong.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our Teeth: Another "Extremely Sophisticated" Design

Composite materials, like straw added to mud, have been used for centuries and great advancements have been made in recent decades. The new composites typically use super-strong carbon fibers and are used in jetliners and spacecraft. Of course even today's advanced composites could be improved. Enter yet another one of nature's solutions: our teeth.

New research is answering the age old question of how our teeth are able to perform under such extreme pressure. The jaw is powerful and it is a wonder that our teeth do not fracture more often. But our teeth are not made of simple materials. As one researcher put it:

Teeth are made from an extremely sophisticated composite material which reacts in an extraordinary way under pressure.

In fact our teeth's composition is not only extremely sophisticated, but our teeth also have a built-in ability to heal micro-cracks that develop. This example of a composite material found in nature may lead to advances in manufactured composites for aerospace and automotive applications.

Of course according to evolution life is a fluke. Darwin's theory, and all of its variations, would not have predicted such complexity. We now know the centuries-old idea is not a good explanation of life.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Paul Kammerer: Evolution's Legacy of Shame

As an old proverb has it, first they'll reject the truth and then they'll appropriate it and say they knew it all along. Enter Paul Kammerer, the Austrian biologist who almost a century ago was assailed as a fraud for his anti Darwinian findings. His crime: he found evidence for Lamarckism--the idea that organisms can pass on traits they have acquired to their offspring. Kammerer ended up committing suicide and now, almost a century later, evolutionists are figuring out that he was right. Guess what they're calling him now? That's right, Kammerer has now been crowned an "evolutionist." Today's Orwellian headline reads:

Early 20th Century Evolutionist May Have Discovered Epigenetics

That's one "accolade" Kammerer's name can do without. Alexander Vargas of the University of Chile, who has studied Kammerer's work in detail, reports that Kammerer likely presaged the field of study known today as epigenetics (findings that contradict evolutionary theory). Here is more of Kammerer's story:

"Today Kammerer's scientific legacy is non-existent and he is often cited as an example of scientific fraud," said Vargas. "However, the specific similarities of Kammerer's experiments to epigenetic mechanisms are very unlikely to have been the result of his imagination. These new biological arguments provide a modern context suggesting that Kammerer could be the actual discoverer of epigenetic inheritance."

Vargas has studied Kammerer's evidence, as summarized in his 1920's research notes, and found that Kammerer reported hybrid crosses of treated and untreated toads in which 'parent-of-origin effects' can be observed, a recurrent phenomenon in epigenetics. Kammerer also reported that his toads developed larger bodies than untreated land toads and that their eggs were smaller and contained less egg-yolk than normal. These are traits that are known to be influenced by epigenetic mechanisms. ... Kammerer's consistency with current epigenetic mechanisms provides new and compelling biological arguments in favour of the authenticity of the midwife toad experiments.

Kammerer's story is but one example in evolution's legacy of shame. Evolutionists judge themselves every time they proclaim that theirs is the foundation of true science--that evolution is the foundation of the organic sciences. Evolutionists do not promote true science, they suppress it. Religion drives science, and it matters.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jerry Coyne at University of Alabama Tonight

Jerry Coyne, who is in denial of his own beliefs, will be explaining why evolution is true at the University of Alabama tonight. Associate professor Leslie Rissler has high hopes for the visit because "Evolution is the foundation of biology and many other sciences." This is another one of those curious assertions that evolutionists often make. You might think their point is that the many advances in the life sciences were made possible by our knowledge of evolution. But that would be a lie. What they really mean is that, because evolution is true, it must be the foundation of biology. Rissler also illuminated several relevant issues for UA students to ponder:

The lecture series is only controversial in the sense that some people do not believe in evolution. There’s no belief in science, but evolution is a fact. ... The theory actually combines multiple facts under this over-arching body of knowledge so it is an incredibly important field of study. Our goal is for people to not be afraid of evolution and to think it [sic] something different than what it actually is.

I think being in college and in the university is to understand in a liberal arts sense the vast body of knowledge in the world. When you grow up in a very small isolated area and culture we don’t have an opportunity to see how other people in the world view the world, and this lecture series gives you an opportunity to see some of the brightest minds in the world talk about one of the most fundamental theories in history.

There’s no belief in science, but evolution is a fact? What a wonderful Bogey Moment. This truly is hilarious. The only problem is that I'm afraid I may be losing my appreciation of evolutionary absurdities because I have heard them so many times. If statements like these don't leave you rolling on the floor then check yourself--you may be losing it.

The Origin of the DNA Code: Did Evolution Occur Between Neighbors?

The DNA code is both nearly universal and nearly optimal. With the exception of minor deviations occasionally discovered, the same DNA code is found in all species. And that code is so efficient it is sometimes labeled as “optimal.” This is yet another simple example revealing the absurdity of evolutionary theory. Let’s see why.

The near universality of the code means it was present in evolution’s purported universal common ancestor. It would be too unlikely (even for evolutionists) for the identical unique code to have evolved independently in the different evolutionary branches, so it must have been present from the very beginning. In other words, evolutionists must explain the universality of the code as arising from a common ancestor, not from the repeated evolution of the code.

If that is true, then evolutionists must say that evolution somehow created such an efficient code very early in the history of life. But evolutionists typically refer to these early stages of life as elementary, inefficient, crude and so forth. For instance, in their abiogenesis narrative evolutionists often appeal to “crude” chemical processes to account for the variation in replication they need. But if life was elementary and crude, how did such an optimal code arise—a code that is remarkably suited for the more advanced cells that had not even yet arisen?

Furthermore, the fact that the DNA code is so efficient means that evolution performed a tremendous search operation. Only by creating an abundance of such codes could such a good one be found. Remember, evolution is a blind process.

But while evolution must be very adept at creating new codes, it must paradoxically also be unable to create new codes. The code must be frozen, otherwise it would not be universally shared amongst the species. So evolutionists must say that at one time evolution was adept at evolving the code, but later it became inept at evolving the code.

When did such a dramatic transition occur, and why? If the code is so difficult to evolve these days, why was it so easy to evolve back then? Again, evolutionists often appeal to the mythical chaos of early life to explain why the code was once so malleable. This brings us back to the tension between chaotic life forms and near optimal codes.

One leading team of evolutionists recently concluded that:

an explanation of code universality based on vertical evolution is likely to be problematic.

Their idea is that a different sort of evolution occurred in the early days of life. Rather than the familiar Darwinian idea of evolution occurring across many generations, their idea is that evolution occurred much faster, between neighboring organisms as they traded genetic information. They summarize the idea this way:

The central concept is that a variety of collective, but non-Darwinian, mechanisms likely to be present in early communal life generically lead to refinement and selection of innovation-sharing protocols, such as the genetic code.

Likely to be present? Generically lead to refinement and selection of innovation-sharing protocols? These fact-free assertions are what evolution is all about. In evolutionary thought, science has become a mechanism for story-telling.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Narcissism of Evolution

The National Museum of Natural History has an upcoming exhibit on evolution which will focus on "the significant role that Darwin’s theories have played in explaining and unifying all the biological sciences." That won't be much of an exhibit. The only area of thought in which evolutionary studies has a significant role is evolutionary studies. One could fit into a thimble the important scientific advances made possible by evolution. Evolution is the study of itself--it is, if anything, narcissistic.

The exhibit will also illustrate "how our knowledge of evolution has evolved over the last 150 years." Now that could fill the entire museum and then some. The theory of evolution is constantly evolving because the theory of evolution is constantly upended by what science discovers.

Rarely has evolution provided useful guidance for scientific research, beyond what common sense would provide. That is because important predictions of evolution so often turn out to be false. It is not a good sign that a theory generates so many false predictions. But that's what happens when religion drives science.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Then a Miracle Happens

How can we detect design in nature? One idea, proposed by Michael Behe, is irreducible complexity. Behe explains that a machine is irreducibly complex if it has several different parts which all are necessary. Remove any one of those needed parts, and the machine doesn’t function. An internal combustion engine is irreducibly complexity, for instance. Take away the valve, or the piston, or the spark plug, or the wire, and it does not function.

Such machines are not likely to be created by blind natural laws--they require forward-looking thought. Assembly is required, and there is no payback until the final step. Evolution’s natural selection will not do the job because the machine does not help the organism until the machine is complete. Natural selection lacks the foresight required to construct such machines.

An unlikely way around this barrier is to have the different parts of the machine evolve independently, for their own purposes or perhaps for no purpose at all. Later, the parts come together to form a super machine. In other words, each part of the super machine evolves on its own, in a neutral fashion or to perform its own function. Then, serendipitously, the different machines just happen to fit together and perform a new function. Imagine a fuselage and a pair of wings uniting to form an aircraft.

This rather heroic explanation is called preadaptation, and evolutionists have relied heavily on it to explain biology's complexities. The latest example is a new paper that uses preadaptation to explain a machine that transports proteins across the mitochondria inner membrane. The evolutionists point out that two parts (proteins) have been found that are similar to two of the parts in the protein transporter super machine.

They argue that while these parts did not perform a protein transport function (and perhaps they did not perform any function at all), they indeed could perform the protein transporter job if they joined up along with another common part. The evolutionists triumphantly concluded:

These newly described proteins, TimA and TimB, function in distinct protein complexes in bacteria, yet evolved to serve as modules of a protein transport machine in mitochondria.

Here the evolutionists have over reached. There is no question that the evidence does not support anything close to this level of certainty. In fact their narrative for how this evolutionary move is supposed to have happened is firmly planted in the Darwinian just-add-water view of biology. But this should not detract from their strong points.

The paper does make reasonable arguments that the unrelated parts perhaps could work together, if configured properly and with a few modifications here and there, to perform protein transport. The argument and evidences are by no means conclusive, but they certainly are conceivable.

Scientists can debate the merits of their hypothesis. But even if correct, the hypothesis reveals a major problem with evolutionary theory. In answering the irreducible-complexity challenge, evolutionists have invoked preadaptation as their mechanism of choice, and this brings with it an enormous load of serendipity.

As indicated in the fuselage + wings = airplane analogy, the evolutionary preadaptation mechanism envisions an untold multitude of just-so stories to explain nature's incredible complexity. The protein transporter machine, and a great many others, were just fortunate accidents. Their parts just happened to be formed independently, perhaps for other purposes or perhaps for no purpose, and then happened to come together and, presto, a magnificent machine appeared. Here is how evolutionist Michael Gray credulously described it:

You look at cellular machines and say, why on earth would biology do anything like this? It’s too bizarre. But when you think about it in a neutral evolutionary fashion, in which these machineries emerge before there’s a need for them, then it makes sense.

With evolution, life simply happens. What else could Gray say? He is trying to make evolution seem reasonable at a particularly difficult point in the narrative. Parts arise on their own, ready for the right time and place to work their magic. They are recruited, modified as needed, and configured with other such parts that have arisen via a similar process. To answer the mail on complexity, evolutionists have added unbelievable addendums to their theory. It is astonishing what evolutionists are willing to swallow. This is what happens when religion drives science.