Thursday, May 31, 2012

When I Pointed Out the Evolutionary Tree Has Failed Two Professors Gave Me Pushback

Evolutionists proclaim that evolution is a fact as much as the fact that the Earth is round rather than flat, or that the planets circle the Sun rather than the Earth. Their favorite comparison is with gravity. As Joseph Le Conte explained a hundred and twenty years ago, evolution is not merely as certain as gravity, “Nay, it is far more certain.” Such claims have only escalated and today evolutionists are as certain as ever. But these claims go against everything we know from science. Indeed, evolution has failed every major test. Evolutionists do not have a scientific explanation for how life could have arisen from non life. They cannot even explain how a single protein could have first evolved. And we observe populations adapting to the environment rapidly via directed change, rather than the slow incorporation of random changes via natural selection. Furthermore the fossil record reveals bursts of diversity followed by extinctions. This hardly makes for an evolutionary tree and, indeed, when we compare the species they don’t fall into the expected tree-like pattern. Minor deviations might be expected, but the contradictions we observe are far more significant and are not explained by evolutionary mechanisms. It is precisely in situations like this, when a theory incurs repeated, independent, significant failures that scientists doubt its validity. Perhaps evolution is somehow true, or perhaps parts of the idea are true. And if not true, the theory nonetheless might be a useful model in certain problems. But when a theory incurs so many problems scientists certainly do not hold it to be a fact on par with gravity. And yet this is what evolutionists do. When I pointed this out two professors gave me pushback.

One professor argued that the problems with evolution are not so significant. Most theories have failures here and there, or at least have limited application. So what if evolution has some unanswered questions, should we therefore throw it out? Of course not:

So when Hunter points to the latest understanding of evolution, notes the failure of the tree of life, and then wants to declare that the entire theory of evolution should be declared a failure, he just looks desperate. His audience, which consists mostly of YECs, is willing to believe his nonsense. But face it, Cornelius, you aren't even trying to win any converts, you're just preaching to the choir. If you try to flaunt your stuff at a professional biology conference, people will shrug you off as a crackpot. And they will be right.

Evolutionists often use this argument. They claim evolution is a fact, and when you point out that it has significant problems and comes nowhere close to being a fact, they shift the burden of proof to you. You must demonstrate evolution to be false. Otherwise you are desperate and a crackpot.

The other professor repeated much the same argument, saying that common descent has not been falsified:

Basically, creationists who are desperate to avoid admitting common descent like to point to exceptions to a strict tree. Those exceptions are nevertheless other sorts of genealogy connecting the species. This they are at pains not to mention. Then they say that a (perfect) tree has been invalidated. That leaves their audience thinking that it has been shown that there is no common descent. Which it hasn't been. They are being disingenuous.

The professor then made the fallacious argument that common descent is demonstrated by non random relationships between the proteins species. You can read more about that here.

If you are new to the evolution debate you might wonder why evolutionists do not simply acknowledge the painfully obvious fact that evolution is not a fact. It is not as sure gravity and in fact there are significant questions and problems with evolution. Why don’t evolutionists admit to the truth of how the science bears on their theory?

The answer is that evolution is not about the science. At issue here is not merely the status of another scientific theory. Evolutionists won’t be swayed by the evidence because doing so—and confessing that evolution is not overwhelmingly supported by the evidence—would immediately expose evolutionists to all kinds of possibilities which they simply cannot accept. An evolutionist can no more change his mind than could a cultist. Evolution is underwritten by a religious worldview—it is a metaphysical theory, not at scientific theory. As such it may lose every battle, but it cannot lose the war.

These New Studies Demonstrating Acquired Inheritance Don’t Even Give the Secret Handshake

Another day, another refutation of evolutionary thought, this time in the form of acquired inheritance. Yes, that’s right, the same acquired inheritance spoken of by Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de la Marck (otherwise known as Lamarck) and ridiculed by twentieth century evolutionists. Now, two centuries after Lamarck, acquired inheritance is well established in biology, no thanks to evolutionists. Even the usual, once obligatory, bow to evolution is gone. Traditionally, before presenting the scientific evidence, research papers must begin with submissive nod to evolution. A sentence or two about how evolution created the incredible findings about to be discussed usually suffices. Then, having dispensed with the secret handshake, authors are free to show their completely contradictory results. But now even that is gone. Evolution does not explain the findings. Evolution did not inspire or motivate the research. Evolution’s predictions are falsified by the evidence. And evolution ridiculed and resisted the entire idea. It therefore is only fitting that the fanciful evolutionary just-so stories, and yes even the secret handshake, should be expunged (see here, here and here).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Evolutionary Tree Failed But Evolutionists Still Insist Evolution is a Fact

The fundamental thesis of evolution is that the species evolved according to the evolutionary tree. Students learn about the evolutionary tree in biology class and biologists use the evolutionary tree in their research. But in fact the evolutionary tree is based on a limited, and carefully selected, set of observations. Ever since Darwin, science has continued to document exceptions and anomalies—species that don’t fit neatly into the evolutionary pattern. These biological contradictions come in various forms and are found throughout the tree. For instance, species that in many regards appear to be quite similar, which evolutionists have placed on neighboring twigs of the evolutionary tree, are routinely found to have profound differences. On the other hand, species that are obviously quite different, which evolutionists have placed on distant limbs of the evolutionary tree, are often found to have profound similarities. And these various differences and similarities are found in every imaginable aspect of the species designs, ranging from the visible features of the adult form to the developing embryonic form to the underlying cellular and molecular structures. At this point, such cases are no longer exceptions and anomalies. For years evolutionists attempted to explain this growing list of contradictions using their evolutionary tree model. But it is obvious that this was an exercise in forcing the evidence to fit the theory rather than the other way around. The inexorable march of science has taken its toll and in recent years evolutionists have finally begun to deemphasize their iconic evolutionary tree model. What this does not change, however, is their insistence that evolution is a fact.

While the failure of the evolutionary tree model can be seen in data even as far back as the nineteenth century, such contradictions were generally discussed only in the highly technical scientific journals. Textbooks held to evolutionary orthodoxy and journalists dutifully reported that evolution was a scientific fact. Even today students are taught that the species fall into the expected tree pattern. But some venturesome writers are beginning to mention this unmentionable. A few years ago, for instance, the Telegraph reported that “Charles Darwin's tree of life is ‘wrong and misleading’, claim scientists.” The article reported:

They believe the concept misleads us because his [Darwin’s] theory limits and even obscures the study of organisms and their ancestries. …

Researchers say although for much of the past 150 years biology has largely concerned itself with filling in the details of the tree it is now obsolete and needs to be discarded. …

“For a long time the holy grail was to build a tree of life. We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality.” …

More fundamentally recent research suggests the evolution of animals and plants isn't exactly tree-like either. …

Dr Rose said: "The tree of life is being politely buried – we all know that. What's less accepted is our whole fundamental view of biology needs to change." He says biology is vastly more complex than we thought and facing up to this complexity will be as scary as the conceptual upheavals physicists had to take on board in the early 20th century.

All of this was important not because it was reporting on any new scientific findings, but rather that a fundamental failure of evolutionary theory was being reported, period. Contrary evidence was being openly discussed.

But of course none of this was allowed to cast any doubt on evolutionary theory itself. As the article reported:

"If you don't have a tree of life what does it mean for evolutionary biology. At first it's very scary – but in the past couple of years people have begun to free their minds." Both he and co-researcher Dr Ford Doolittle stressed that downgrading the tree of life doesn't mean the theory of evolution is wrong just that evolution is not as tidy as we would like to believe.

It is yet another example of how well protected evolution is from the scientific evidence. The tree of life is just one of many failures of evolutionary theory. Over and over the theory fails to elucidate the science, but rather must be repeatedly modified and augmented to try to fit the data. At some point the theory becomes little more than a tautology. Whatever we discover in biology, evolution must have created it, no matter how contradictory and unlikely. The real story here is not that another prediction of evolution has failed, the real story is that evolution is protected from such failures.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Evolutionists Are Up in Arms Over Real Time Epigenetics

Epigenetics has gone real-time and evolutionists are insisting it has no impact on the fact of evolution. Recall that epigenetics provided one of the many falsifications of evolution’s claim that biological variation knows nothing of need. According to evolution, if the environment shifts, presenting a new challenge to a population, then the population responds via the selection of random changes, such as mutations, which are not in response to the new challenge. In short, biological variation must not be directed. Any such intelligent response to the environment smacks too much of teleology, which evolutionary thought fundamentally rejects. So under evolution, populations adapt by chance. Mutations that just happen to address the challenge are selected.

But epigenetics falsified all of that. Science tells us that populations rapidly and intelligently adapt to environmental challenges. Such responses, for example, may be accomplished via modifications to the DNA sequence or via modifications to how genes are expressed. For instance small chemicals, such as methyl groups or hydroxyl groups (or one on top of the other!), may be attached to the DNA or to the histone proteins about which the DNA is wrapped. And such modifications can be passed on to subsequent generations.

This makes no sense on evolution. We would have to imagine that evolution’s random mutations and the like created this fantastic directed adaptation machine, ready to respond to a range of future environmental challenges.

And now epigenetics has been found to occur in real-time, providing profound falsifications of evolutionary expectations. These “real-time” epigenetic mechanisms are applied not to DNA, but to its temporary transcript, mRNA, which supplies the information used to synthesize a protein.

So now evolution must not only have created another fantastic directed adaptation machine, ready to respond to a range of future environmental challenges, but this machine must have been capable and ready to operate, immediately at sometime in the future, on the transitory mRNA molecule.

The absurdity of evolution has just become that much more absurd.

Not surprisingly evolutionists are struggling to provide any sort of coherent explanation for all this. Their mandate that evolution must be a fact has been long since known to be little more than dogma, and the continuing onslaught of scientific findings is not helping.

Evolutionists had no scientific explanation for the fantastic mechanisms behind epigenetics. I once debated an evolution professor who simply denied that cells had any such capability. Needless to say, meaningful debate is not possible when evolutionists deny known facts of science.

Such denial is continuing with the new findings of real-time epigenetics. Evolutionists are not seriously reckoning with the science. One evolutionist, for instance, attempted to defend the evolution of real-time epigenetics by conflating it with the general operation of gene regulation:

I'm absolutely astonished by this series of yours on methylation, Cornelius. You seem to think it's new. How on earth do you think that biologists think that cells even differentiate in multicellular organisms, let alone function, without control of gene expression? Do you think that biologists until recently thought that all genes were switched on all the time? Have you never heard of cell signalling? And what do you imagine that "regulatory genes" actually do if not, um, regulate genes? i.e. switch them on and off?

This argument that the evolution of complex mechanisms is obvious because, after all, we’ve known about it all along, may seem bizarre to newcomers. But for evolutionists this sort of argument is typical. Point out that diversity appears abruptly in the fossil record and evolutionists will tell you that they’ve explained all that with “punctuated equilibrium.” Point out that the origin of life is unlikely, and they’ll tell you that they’ve long since synthesized amino acids in a test tube.

Such problems are not really problems, evolutionists will tell you, because they’ve been known for a long time, and about them evolutionists have produced plenty of speculation.

Evolution has no scientific explanation, beyond speculation, for gene regulation in general. And they don’t have one for real-time epigenetics in particular.

Nonetheless, this evolutionist continued with the same sort of argument, this time recruiting the study of development and how it relates to evolution:

And far from being problematic for evolutionary theory, "evo-devo" answers a huge number of problems for evolutionary theory as it stood, namely how very small incremental DNA variation can make considerable, but viable, changes to the phenotype.

Aside from the fact that the so-called “evo-devo” research fell short of expectations and that development has contradicted evolutionary expections, it has nothing to do with the evolution of real-time epigenetics.

Again, newcomers will be surprised by the level of argumentation produced by evolutionists. But such nonsensical logic does provide a teachable moment. It is another sign of the closing of the evolutionary mind.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Evolutionists Are Now Saying Their Thinking is Flawed (But Evolution is Still a Fact)

Morality, as Kant pointed out, hinges neither on success nor on failure. The moral law transcends the material world. The evolutionist’s sophomoric response is that morality evolved and so therefore is not absolute, but rather is relative. That’s like saying water is not wet. And while they’re at it, evolutionists, at least those in the atheist wing, not only deny values, they also deny truth. That’s right, evolutionists—who are constantly making religious truth claims and casting judgments on those who don’t go along with their mandate that evolution is a fact—deny the existence any real morality and truth. You can see the obvious dilemma they have constructed. If there is no morality or truth, then how can evolution be known to be a fact, and how can doubters of this modern mythology be such bad people?

All of this is painfully obvious at the New Scientist which today explains that evolution has bequeathed us with a clouded, flawed thinking process. And just why did we evolve such an apparently flawed instrument? The article explains:

An elegant explanation may have arrived. Hugo Mercier at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and Dan Sperber at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, believe that human reasoning evolved to help us to argue. An ability to argue convincingly would have been in our ancestors' interest as they evolved more advanced forms of communication, the researchers propose.

Yes, we know, evolutionists telling just-so stories are not “researchers.” But the point here is that these “researchers” are making an assertion (human reasoning evolved and is flawed) which undermines their very argument. If human reasoning evolved and is flawed, then how can we know that evolution is a fact, much less any particular details of said evolutionary process that they think they understand via their “research”?

The article continues:

Mercier and Sperber are by no means the first to suggest that the human mind evolved to help us manage a complex social life. It has long been recognised that group living is fraught with mental challenges that could drive the evolution of the brain.

But if these particular mental challenges drove the evolution of the brain, then what guarantee do we have that anything we conclude has any truth value? Why do molecules bouncing around in our head correspond to anything true about the world? How can we be sure that what “has long been recognized” by evolutionists has any useful meaning?

The article also notes how the evolution of language would have been an important influence on how our thinking evolved:

The evolution of language a few hundred thousand years ago would have changed the rules of the game.

But again, why should the force of language on the evolutionary process encourage us that, therefore, our thinking has any ultimate validity?

Indeed, evolutionists conclude that fallacies such as confirmation bias corrupt our conclusions:

Consider the confirmation bias. It is surprisingly pervasive, playing a large part in the way we consider the behaviour of different politicians, for instance, so that we will rack up evidence in favour of our chosen candidate while ignoring their competitor's virtues. Yet people rarely have any awareness that they are not being objective. Such a bias looks like a definite bug if we evolved to solve problems: you are not going to get the best solution by considering evidence in such a partisan way.

If evolutionists believe there is such a “definite bug” in our epistemology, then how can they be so sure evolution is a fact? Is that “definite bug” only a problem for people who don’t insist that everything came from nothing? Our confidence is not helped by the evolutionist’s selective use of evidence and, yes, confirmation bias.

But if we evolved to be argumentative apes, then the confirmation bias takes on a much more functional role. "You won't waste time searching out evidence that doesn't support your case, and you'll home in on evidence that does," says Mercier.

Sound familiar? The article which reveals evolution’s circular logic finally comes around to a precise description of evolutionary thought: “You won’t waste time searching out evidence that doesn't support your case, and you'll home in on evidence that does.”

In their value-laden world where they deny the existence of values, evolutionists insist they know the truth which is that, ultimately, we cannot know the truth.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Of Turtles and the Closing of the Evolutionary Mind

The evolutionary hypothesis that the species arose according to a combination of random events and natural law—chance and necessity—is more than just the dominant paradigm of the life sciences. For about a century now evolution has been nothing less than biology’s over arching dogma—a fact to be accepted by all. Life scientists think in lock-step and no skepticism or doubt is allowed. This narrowing of view is not just an after effect, it is a powerful constraint and influence on the science, for all findings are interpreted according to the dogma. That recent study on the evolutionary origin of turtles is a typical example.

The evolution of turtles has always been a problem. First, there is no scientific explanation for how these fascinating creatures could have arisen via spontaneous events such as random mutations. And second, even if we make the heroic assumption that such an unlikely event occurred, somehow, there remains their rather awkward fit in the supposed evolutionary tree. It’s not an uncommon problem in evolutionary studies, and in the case of the turtle the paleontological, morphological and genetic data make for various contradictory results. As one writer explained:

Paleontological and morphological studies place turtles as either evolving from the ancestor of all reptiles or as evolving from the ancestor of snakes, lizards, and tuataras. Conflictingly, genetic studies place turtles as evolving from the ancestor of crocodilians and birds.

The new study purports to resolve the dilemma (they say the evidence is overwhelming that turtles evolved from a common ancestor of birds and crocodilians). And how did they solve the problem? They used the so-called UCEs (ultra conserved elements) and their flanking regions. But there is one problem: UCEs falsify evolution.

That is, at least, what one evolutionist told me years ago, before UCEs were discovered. Identical or nearly identical functionally unconstrained DNA sequences, conserved broadly across different species, would undoubtedly falsify evolution. That falsifier was discovered in the form of UCEs.

Indeed, another evolutionist exclaimed “I about fell off my chair” when seeing the UCE comparisons. Surely these absurdly conserved sequences must be utterly essential. But hundreds of tests failed to reveal their importance. In fact many of the sequences could be removed altogether with little effect.

But of course, as usual, that was Darwinian Doublespeak as we were told to move along yet again. No one so much as whispered a word of doubt about evolution and the scene returned to normal, just as in the Star Wars bar scene. Evolution is still a fact, UCEs or no UCEs.

So now, years later, UCEs not only are no longer a problem for the evolutionary mind, they may freely be used as evidence for evolution. The fact of evolution is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Evidence, no matter how contradictory, is interpreted according to evolution, and then recruited as yet more proof texts for evolution.

The turtle story is not merely another tale of contradictory data that make little sense on evolution. It is another example of the closing of the evolutionary mind.

Who Was Alfred Russel Wallace?

Go here to find out who Alfred Russel Wallace was. Or better yet, buy the book. For Michael Flannery’s biography is the most important new book I have read in years. The immense attention focused on Charles Darwin by evolution historians has unfortunately overshadowed Wallace, whose life was arguably more fascinating and insightful. Unfortunately views that are offered on Wallace today are often from Darwinist perspectives. Flannery remedies this imbalance with his story of Alfred Wallace that brings an entirely new light to the theory of evolution. In this corrective against the familiar but erroneous casting of Wallace as a miniature Darwin, Flannery artfully brings out the stark contrast—even down to their final works—between the evolution co-founders.

But Flannery’s biography is not merely a look back. Like any good history, Flannery’s tells us something about where we are, and how we got here. From their early years onward, Wallace and Darwin existed in different worlds. Their paths intersected at evolution, but they approached and departed that intersection with many different perspectives. Flannery provides a broader context than is usually found in such histories and in convincing detail demonstrates the influences and connections to today’s discussion. Neither idolizing Wallace nor minimizing Darwin, Flannery provides a much needed balanced view that leaves us with a richer understanding of our ideas on origins.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It Didn’t End With the Sophists: Richard Leakey Explains the Fact of Evolution Will Someday Be Supported By the Evidence and, In Any Case, the World Wasn’t Created

Plato’s destruction of the sophists unfortunately didn’t take and you can almost hear John Lennon’s Imagine as you read today’s AP piece on legendary evolutionist Richard Leakey promoting the usual man-is-the-measure-of-all-things fallacies evolutionists adore, all encapsulated in 900 words. In their value-laden world where they deny the existence of values, Leakey and the evolutionists warn that catastrophes are looming due to man-made climate change (“We may be on the cusp of some very real disasters that have nothing to do with whether the elephant survives, or a cheetah survives, but if we survive”), equate evolution with all that is good (“If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it's solid, that we are all African, that color is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive. Then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges.”), deny the possibility of science without evolution (“how do you combat new pathogens, how do you combat new strains of disease that are evolving in the environment?”) and claim that the fact of evolution will someday actually be a fact (Sometime in the next 15 to 30 years, the Kenyan-born paleoanthropologist expects scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that “even the skeptics can accept it.”). This is all standard evolutionary red-meat that the world embraces (“Earlier this month, Paul Simon performed at a benefit dinner for the Turkana Basin Institute. IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond and his wife, Peggy Bonapace Gelfond, and billionaire hedge fund investor Jim Simons and his wife, Marilyn, were among those attending the exclusive show in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.”). Most importantly though is the religion that underwrites Lennon’s religion-free religious utopia:

You can lay out all the fossils that have been collected and establish lineages that even a fool could work up. So the question is why, how does this happen? It’s not covered by Genesis. There’s no explanation for this change going back 500 million years in any book I’ve read from the lips of any God.

That’s a powerful proof for evolution but it is not from science. Our religion tells us God did not create the world so we supply our own myth that the species and the world arose spontaneously—that something came from nothing. It contradicts what we know from science but no matter, theology remains the queen of the sciences. And that theology, like the creation myth, is man-made:

If you tell me, well, people really need a faith ... I understand that. I see no reason why you shouldn’t go through your life thinking if you’re a good citizen, you’ll get a better future in the afterlife.

A good citizen? Compare Leakey’s man-made theology with God’s Word:

The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
They have all turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.

No not one? Compared with evolutionary theology that sounds rather hopeless and impossible. But as Jesus Christ explained, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” He should know, He did the saving.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Epigenetics in Real Time: Samie Jaffrey "Goes There" and Evolution is Getting Trashed

You won’t believe what Samie Jaffrey’s group at Cornell is confirming and elucidating about epigenetics, the fantastic adaptation capability cells have to adjust to environmental shifts. Epigenetics is a broad term for a range of adaptation capabilities achieved via the regulation of gene expression. Gene expression can be regulated, for example, by attaching small chemical markers such as methyl groups, like bar codes, to DNA or to the histone proteins about which the DNA is wrapped. Such chemical modifications have been known to be used also on the DNA copy—the messenger RNA—used to synthesize proteins. What Jaffrey’s group has found is that mRNA methylation is ubiquitous. Something like 20% of the transitory mRNA molecules are methylated in human cells. This truly is epigenetics in real time as the cell must be detecting the need and transferring the methyl groups to the right mRNA location at astonishing rates. It is evolution’s reductio ad absurdum on steroids.

Here is how Jaffrey summarized the findings:

We know that DNA and proteins are routinely modified by chemical switches that have profound effects on their function in both health and disease. But biologists believed mRNA was simply an intermediate between DNA and protein. Now we know mRNA is much more complex, and defects in RNA methylation can lead to disease.

Whereas the cytosine nucleotide is the common target of methylation in DNA, in mRNA it is adenosine. And whereas with cytosine the methyl group is added to the 5 carbon, with adenosine it is added to the amine group attached to the 6 carbon. And of course the mRNA methylation must be done at lightning fast rates. It is yet another amazing mechanism of genetic regulation and you can read more here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Of course none of this changes anything regarding evolution. The religiously-driven theory has long since been known to be scientifically preposterous. Even something as contrary as real time epigenetics can hardly make matters worse for evolution. At this point such findings are just expected as evolution has become the best contrary indicator in science.

These findings do, however, leave evolutionists even more so without excuse. Nothing in biology makes sense in light of evolution.

Just Because I’m Metaphysical Doesn’t Mean I’m Wrong

The ancient Greeks believed that the planets and stars, like musical notes, were separated by harmonic intervals. This notion suggested that the cosmic cycles produced harmonious music, an idea that persisted into medieval astronomy as well as the early years of modern science. Johannes Kepler held such idealism and found intriguing correspondences between the elliptical orbits of the planets and musical scales. Obviously such idealism goes well with the idea that God designed and created the world. But nature was not always so pleasing. Was not the world full of “errors and bungles,” as the seventeenth century Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth and later the great botanist John Ray pointed out? Cudworth and Ray argued for a “Plastic Nature” which, simply put, was a way to insert natural laws between God and the world. Nicolas Malebranche and Thomas Burnet were other seventeenth century thinkers who produced their own versions of creation by natural law. These various ideas had their differences but the common theme was that God would not have intended for the less pleasing aspects of this world so it must have arisen via some simpler, indirect creation mechanisms. Leibniz, Kant, Hume and Darwin are just a few influential thinkers who followed with their own powerful arguments for why the world must have arisen according to the constraints of simple laws, not divine intent. These metaphysical mandates continue to drive science to this day and are most obvious in the writings of evolutionists. And so in one sense nothing has really changed—theology is still queen of the sciences. But in another sense things have changed dramatically simply because there is so much more scientific knowledge. One of these metaphysical mandates, the so-called greater god theology, has held up rather well and it is worth revisiting its origins and current status. Recent scientific findings have tended to confirm greater god theology, but in new and surprising ways.

Early in the eighteenth century, in the last few years of his life, the great philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz exchanged a series of letters with Isaac Newton supporter Samuel Clarke in which they debated a range of topics. One topic was, for lack of a better term, error correction in the natural world. The brilliant Newton had discovered that the solar system was unstable. Newton trusted his findings and concluded that perhaps the solar system is occasionally adjusted by special divine action. That is, a divine finger intervened to nudge a planet in its orbit and avoid an incipient instability.

For Leibniz this was practically heresy. As with Burnet, the idea that God would not design a world capable of self-sustained, perpetual operation was terrible theology. As Burnet made an analogy with a clockmaker. Clearly, the greater clockmaker is the one who makes a clock that is not in need of adjustment. We don’t admire the clockmaker who must nudge the hands of the clock occasionally to set things right, or otherwise makes a clock that doesn’t work:

We think him a better Artist that makes a Clock that strikes regularly at every hour from the Springs and Wheels which he puts in the work, than he that hath so made his Clock that he must put his finger to it every hour to make it strike; And if one should contrive a piece of clock-work so that it should beat all the hours and make all its motions regularly for such a time, and that time being come, upon a signal given, or a Spring toucht, it should of its own accord fall all to pieces; would not this be look’d upon as a piece of greater Art, than if the Workman came to that time prefixt, and with a great hammer beat it into pieces?

Is it not the same for the Creator? The greater god designs a world that has no need of adjustment. So for evolutionary thinkers such as Burnet and Leibniz, there was a need for a naturalistic explanation for why the solar system had not disintegrated. And just such an explanation was provided. It came later in the eighteenth century from the great French mathematician and scientist Pierre Laplace who solved the stability problem when he figured out that Newton’s bothersome instabilities would iron themselves out over the long run. Leibniz’s prophecy seemed confirmed as the solar system was inherently stable after all, with no need of divine adjustment.

This story is a classic example in the history of science of an apparent success of greater god theology (interestingly today’s science guarantees no such stability but suggests a remote chance that the solar system could become unstable).

In recent years, however, a plethora of new scientific evidence, from the burgeoning field of molecular and cellular biology, has been discovered that bears directly on this issue of error correction in nature and greater god theology. Even this week new papers are continue to elucidate this issue.

Consider, for example, DNA repair. The delicate double helix macromolecule can be compromised for a number of reasons and for this problem the cell has an astonishing built-in repair capability. Worst of all is the so-called double-stranded break where both threads of the DNA double helix are broken. But even here the cell is able to mend the damage. 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.”

One such cause of DNA damage is the accidental insertion of ribonucleotides (RNA) into the DNA molecule. These errant ribonucleotides can accumulate by the millions in a single cell and, as a new paper explains, are edited out in mice, for example, by a crucial enzyme.

The presence of ribonucleotides in DNA can also cause copying errors when the DNA is replicated, as part of the cell division process. And as with DNA damage, DNA replication also has an amazing error correction process. Amazingly, the copied DNA is checked for accuracy and corrected to dramatically reduce the error rate.

Not surprisingly DNA copying is more error prone when there is DNA damage. When such damage is detected the normal copying machines are paused and a special “sloppier copier” is ushered in to do the job. This backup copying machine is able to replicate a damaged section of DNA by not reading it so precisely. This means that there are more copying errors, but a copy with more errors is better than no copy at all.

In fact the cell division process involves various mechanisms that are, as the author of another new paper put it, “very complex.” For instance, in the more advanced eukaryotic cells the DNA is arranged in chromosomes. The chromosomes are replicated in the cell division process, and these chromosome pairs are attached in something like an “X” pattern. The two copies are later separated and destined for the respective daughter cells produced by the cell division.

This process too can incur many problems and again the cell has incredible error correction mechanisms to make things right. Here is how one report explained new findings on this process:

During cell division, the cell's DNA is consolidated into X-shaped chromosome pairs that align along the middle of the cell. Where the arms of the X cross, each chromosome has two kinetochores--protein complexes that facilitate microtubule attachment to the chromosome. As cell division progresses, these microtubules pull the right or left half of each chromosome towards the spindle poles to separate them to opposite ends of the cell.

Problems can frequently arise during this process. As a microtubule extends from a spindle pole, it may attach incorrectly to a kinetochore. When this happens, the cell needs a way to detect the mistake, detach the problematic microtubule, and reattach it correctly. If the issue is not addressed and cell division proceeds, the chromosomes typically fail to divide evenly, resulting in cells with the wrong number of chromosomes. This aberrant distribution of chromosomes can lead to cancer or premature cell death.

To correct attachment problems, cells rely on a system of phosphorylation -- the addition of a phosphate group to certain proteins -- to control whether or not microtubules stay bound to the kinetochore.

According to the Molecular Cell paper, the enzyme Aurora B resides within the inner kinetochore and adds phosphates to a key player in the kinetochore, called the KMN network, that attaches to the microtubule. […]

"This is a very sensitive system that allows the cell to dynamically respond to different attachment problems," says Julie Welburn, first author of the Molecular Cell paper and a postdoctoral researcher in the Cheeseman lab.

DNA repair, DNA replication and chromosome dynamics are just a few examples where we find incredible error correction mechanisms in the cell. These various molecular correction mechanisms are, of course, extremely improbable given evolution. We would have to believe that evolution constructed fundamental cellular processes which were literally disastrous. Stable populations would not have been possible. But then, somehow, evolution rapidly rectified the calamity with astonishing error correction mechanisms. This narrative is simply untenable from a scientific perspective.

Equally unlikely would be the notion that the error correction mechanisms were already available, more or less in place and ready for use when the newly constructed, error-prone, processes originated.

But this is not merely a story of yet another evolutionary failure. What is interesting here is how these new findings reflect on the age-old greater god theology. To be sure, the operations of the cell are fantastic and should please the most idealistic observer. See this animation, as just one example of the splendor. Is it not like harmonious music?

But as we have seen above, clearly the world of molecular biology is error prone. This, it may seem, would present an immediate problem for the traditional idealistic view of creation. It hardly seems aesthetically pleasing for key cellular processes to be regularly producing errors at a high rate. Would the ancient Greeks not have been troubled by such findings?

Perhaps not. Recall that Leibniz’s concern was with an intervening Creator who adjusted and fixed His creation. The clockmaker should not “put his finger to [his clock] every hour to make it strike” as Burnet explained. What if the clock came with fantastic, built-in, devices to perform every correction and adjustment automatically?

It is not that the clock itself works on its own, but it does with these additional devices. Leibniz probably would have been delighted with this narrative. After all, elsewhere the German polymath argued that creation cannot be perfect but rather necessarily must entail evils and inefficiencies, for otherwise it could not be distinguished from the perfect Creator.

And so our new knowledge of nature provides profound insights far beyond the mere materialistic molecular actions. We now know things that wise men and sages from ages past could only have dreamed of. And these things reveal fundamental aspects of the creation. We leave such contemplations to the reader, but two messages are obvious.

First, the evolutionary view, that the world is a byproduct of a combination of chance events and the necessary action of law, is obviously challenged.

Second, the idealistic view, that the world is always a symmetric, harmonious, beautiful arrangement, according to our sentiment, is also challenged.

Yes creation does operate according to natural law, and it is certainly harmonious and incredible in many instances. But these two views do not extrapolate well.

The greater god theology, however, has held up rather well. It seems to derive from the idealistic view, and it motivated the evolutionary view, but taken in isolation from its lineage, the notion that God would not create a world in need of sporadic divine intervention continues to be serviceable.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Here's a New Technique For Mapping DNA Information Which Exposes Yet More Evolutionary Foolishness

A new method has been developed for mapping the precise locations at which DNA has been marked with a hydroxyl group. The hydrogen-oxygen molecule, like the methyl group to which it is attached, influences gene expression and so helps organisms adapt. The adaptation of species to environmental pressures would seem like obvious evidence for evolution. But in recent years we have begun to understand the enormous complexity of adaptation. It is not a story of natural selection acting on undirected biological variations (that is, variations that are blind to environmental pressures). This sort of undirected process has been the evolutionary dogma for the past century. In what was known as the Modern Synthesis, biological adaptation was described as resulting from blind variations resulting, for instance, from genetic rearrangements or unguided mutations. No thanks to evolution we are now beginning to understand the real version of biological adaptation. What we are seeing is an incredibly complex adaptation machine that tweaks the designs of organisms in response to environmental pressures.

It is not a simple story as there are a variety of different ways such adaptations can occur. These mechanisms, broadly labeled as epigenetic inheritance, can regulate the expression of genes as well as redesign the genes. The bottom line is that the adaptations are not unguided, they benefit the organism, and they are extremely complex. The evolutionary story is completely wrong. As one evolutionist admitted, the Modern Synthesis:

states that variations are blind, are genetic (nucleic acid-based), and that saltational events do not significantly contribute to evolutionary change. The epigenetic perspective challenges all these assumptions, and it seems that a new extended theory, informed by developmental studies and epigenetic inheritance, and incorporating Darwinian, Lamarckian, and saltational frameworks, is going to replace the Modern Synthesis version of evolution.

A new extended theory? This should be interesting, for it would have to explain how evolution creates mechanisms which, themselves, cause evolution (in the form of adaptation). In fact, evolutionists are already explaining this without losing a step. For instance (from the same paper):

Epigenetic inheritance should be favored in fluctuating environmental conditions that last for more than one generation (but not for very long) and may be particularly important in the type of environments experienced by many microorganisms. In such fluctuating environments, efficient epigenetic inheritance is likely to evolve (i) if the parental environment carries reliable information about the offspring’s environment, (ii) when the response to induction is lengthy and incurs a very high cost, and (iii) when recall is not an option or incurs too high a cost.

That was easy. Evolution just happens. So long as there is an advantage to a new design, then it will appear. That's how evolution works.

One of the best known epigenetic mechanisms is DNA methylation in which a methyl group is added to cytosine, one of the four DNA chemical letters. The methyl group is a sort of marker that can help to regulate the expression of genes. DNA methylation is accomplished via the action of a complicated molecular machine (DNA methyltransferase) that adds the methyl group at precisely the right location in the DNA strand.

So evolution configured DNA methyltransferase and the associated molecular information that tells it where to add the methyl group, so that later the organism and its offspring could benefit when certain environmental pressures arose. That's good planning.

And to further complicate matters, this molecular marker can, itself, be modified. That is, the mark can be marked, thus adding another layer of information to the epigenetic mechanism. In this case, the methyl group is hydroxylated. And of course a different complicated molecular machine is required for the task, and the information of when and where to go to work is needed.

Evolution must have created all these processes and molecular machines so evolution could occur. But that’s not all. Researchers found differing methylation patterns amongst mice from the same litter, reared in the same environment. As was reported:

[Researchers] found regions in the animal's genetic makeup with strikingly different patterns. Moreover, these regions occurred among genes responsible for determining anatomy during early development.

In other words, variably methylated regions of DNA have been discovered, and such variability could lead to increased trait variability. Evolutionists speculate that this could help the population survive:

We're proposing that certain gene variants contribute to heterogeneity in populations. In a fluctuating environment, this gives generations more opportunity to survive.

And perhaps this new capability could help answer long-standing questions about how it is that evolution could work so well. As the article explains:

For more than 100 years, mainstream science has embraced the basic tenets of Darwin's view that characteristics that increase an organism's ability to survive and reproduce will be passed from generation to generation. … Characteristics that affect an organism's ability to adapt and survive in times of environmental change have been thought to arise by chance through random mutations in an organism's DNA. However, this view could not explain how such mutations, which arise only rarely, help organisms of every size and variety adapt quickly enough through time.

So evolution created genes, chromosomes and alleles, horizontal gene transfer, introns, DNA methylation, and its additional hydroxyl signal just to name a few structures and processes. Of course there is a dizzying array of molecular machines choreographing this drama at just the right moments. All this so more evolution could occur.

And we can add another miracle to the list: variably methylated regions of DNA so future generations could survive when some unforeseen environmental challenge arises. It would be difficult to imagine a more foolish theory. The levels of absurdity to which evolutionists will go is truly remarkable.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Here is Evolution’s Version of the Multiverse

Physicists have come up with the idea that there could be an astronomical number of universes in addition to our own. They call it the multiverse it can explain very improbable events, such as the origin of life, because no matter how improbable an event, it becomes a virtual certainty when you have so many universes in which it might happen. This idea of separated worlds is now emerging in genetics as well, as some evolutionists are contemplating the idea of different DNA worlds. The evolutionary tree model doesn’t work very well, and so evolutionists are experimenting with other models. One is a network model and using it evolutionists have found that DNA sequences in nature tend to separate into different worlds. But unlike the different universes in the multiverse, these DNA worlds can have some limited interaction. This means that, as usual, evolutionary theory has gained a great many new degrees of freedom. Here is how the evolutionists summarize their findings:

although this DNA is preferentially transferred (be it vertically or laterally) within a given genetic world, there is some inter-world transfer of DNA molecules occurring, leading to exchanges among different DNA vehicles (2.5% of the DNA families). This observation indicates that the changes accumulated relatively independently in the molecules of any of these worlds (i.e., the results of molecular evolution for different regimes of selective pressures and for different historical constraints) do regularly cross into another world. In principle, selected (or drifting) DNA molecules with their special adaptations can then invade and impact a new genetic world. Deciphering the rules of transitions of transfer between genetic worlds could then become a central question, prompting an integrated study of genetic evolution. In any case, the picture of the evolution of the natural genetic biodiversity should not be considered complete without the DNA molecules of any of these worlds. It implies that no general model of genetic evolution can be universally valid. Rather, many evolutionary models of the genetic biodiversity should legitimately coexist: DNA molecules change in some phages differently than they do in plasmids, or in populations of prokaryotic chromosomes. Sequencing and making trees out of the molecular data cannot hope to adequately deal with this disconnected network of genetic diversity. In the future, a plurality of evolutionary research fields will be required to understand the evolution of the various genetic worlds.

Don’t worry if you don’t follow all those details, for this is not science but rather story-telling. These conclusions are not motivated by the scientific data but rather by the conviction that evolution must be true, in spite of the data.

The point is this: The evolutionary tree that was predicted has failed, and this new model is tremendously more complex and flexible. It introduces many new variables which are impossible to nail down. DNA tends to stay within its own “world,” but not always. DNA changes tend to accumulate independently in each world according to different, unknown, rules. But these DNA changes can also cross over into other DNA worlds sometimes. And there are certain rules of how such transitions occur, but they also are unknown. Any number of rules can be hypothesized to fit the data, and they may vary depending on which worlds are involved, what DNA is involved, what species are involved, at what point in evolutionary history the event occurred, and so forth and so on. Everything is vague and flexible, available for other evolutionists to use as necessary in their own story-telling.

And so the conclusion is that there needs to be “many evolutionary models of the genetic biodiversity. The tree model “cannot hope to adequately deal with this disconnected network of genetic diversity” and “a plurality of evolutionary research fields will be required to understand the evolution of the various genetic worlds.”

This is yet another so-called do over for evolution. Evolution is constantly upended by the scientific data, and there seems to be a never ending stream of do-overs. Evolution does not explain the data, the data explains evolution. It is a tautology.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This Paper Discusses Problems With the Evolutionary Tree That You Didn’t Learn in Biology Class

If only evolutionists would tell the world what they tell each other. In the popular media, in detailed books about evolution and in textbooks a unified front is presented: Evolution is a fact as much as is gravity or the roundness of the Earth. It would be perverse and irrational to conclude otherwise. The scientific evidence for evolution is overwhelming. There are no scientific problems of substance with evolution, just scientific questions about details. Simply put, we know evolution occurred, just not how it occurred.

But deep in the bowels of academic libraries, the highly technical research journals tell a different story. The scientific evidences which evolutionists often refer to as so strongly confirming evolution, in fact, do not. Yes there are evidences that are consistent with evolution, but there are also many that are not. In fact there are many evidences which argue against evolution. This is evident in the many fundamental predictions made by evolution which have failed. There is a gaping mismatch between the high claims of evolutionists and the actual science.

For example, here is what the introduction of a 2009 journal paper said about the evolutionary tree:

The genome sequence is an icon of early twenty-first century biology. Genomes of nearly 2000 cellular organisms, and from many thousands of organelles and viruses, are now in the public domain. … At the same time, one cannot but be struck by the diversity of genomes, both across the living world and, in many cases, within genera or species. … Perhaps most unexpected of all is the substantial decoupling, now known in most, although not all, branches of organismal life, between the phylogenetic histories of individual gene families and what has generally been accepted to be the history of genomes and/or their cellular or organismal host lineages. The tree of life paradigm consolidated by Darwin's Origin of Species (1859), but itself arising from a much older tradition of natural history, seems likely to emerge, if at all, from the multi-genome era much more restricted in scope, and subject to many more qualifications, than could have been anticipated a dozen years ago.

The decoupling discussed above refers to the many inconsistencies between the traditional evolutionary tree of life, as determined from the visible features of the species, and evolutionary trees determined from the newer genetic data. In fact, not only is there a decoupling between the visible and genetic data, there are substantial inconsistencies within each group.

In fact, it is impossible to construct a realistic evolutionary tree using all the data. Evolutionists routinely construct evolutionary trees using a select, more cooperative, subset of the data. And even then the resulting trees are unrealistic. That is, they require evolutionary change for which there is no known mechanism. This is true even according to evolutionists who are quite liberal in allowing for speculation.

The problem is the species may be similar in some aspects, but not others. So neighboring species on the evolutionary tree may have a great many similarities, but in many cases they have some big differences, which evolutionary theory cannot explain beyond vague speculation.

The paper concludes:

The rapid growth of genome-sequence data since the mid-1990s is now providing unprecedented detail on the genetic basis of life, and not surprisingly is catalysing the most fundamental re-evaluation of origins and evolution since Darwin’s day. Several papers in this theme issue argue that Darwin’s tree of life is now best seen as an approximation—one quite adequate as a description of some parts of the living world (e.g. morphologically complex eukaryotes), but less helpful elsewhere (e.g. viruses and many prokaryotes); indeed, one of our authors goes farther, proclaiming the “demise” of Darwin’s tree as a hypothesis on the diversity and seeming naturalness of hierarchical arrangements of groups of living organisms.

The authors of the paper are evolutionists, and so are sympathetic witnesses. They believe evolution is true, and yet even they must admit that the evolutionary tree has problems. Even they admit that the evolutionary tree may be passé, or at least will be subject to many qualifications, restricted in scope and at best an approximation.

Between the introduction and conclusion there are plenty of interesting details. For example the paper discusses a particular example species where the evolutionary tree “does not appear to be helpful, or even especially meaningful.” And the paper mentions alternate models such as a ring, network or other topology.

To be sure the authors still see much value to the traditional evolutionary tree model. But the paper highlights the fact that this traditional evolutionary tree model is, well, just that—a model. In fact the paper, which is a brief survey, does not discuss several problems with the tree model. For instance, the paper implies that the more complex eukaryotic species fit the evolutionary tree model well. That is not true. There are plenty of contradictions to go around, including in the eukaryotes.

And so if the evolutionary tree model is just a model, with warts and blemishes that are not uncommon with scientific models, then where does this leave the evolutionist’s high claims in the popular media, in detailed books about evolution and in textbooks, that evolution is a fact—overwhelmingly supported by the science?

There is a wide gap between the truth claims evolutionists make, and the science. Here we looked at the evolutionary tree, but the story is the same in the other evidences for evolution. Over and over, there are the high claims of evolutionists, and then there is the science.

Whenever a theory is presented in an inaccurate light, then science loses. Scientists lose the public trust, and students lose the opportunity to learn the real science.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Evolutionists Now Formulating Teaching Standards That States Should Adopt “In Whole, Without Alteration”

Evolutionists are now formulating scientifically archaic teaching standards they want the states to follow “in whole, without alteration.” Our evolution-drenched science education in the U.S. is pathetic, with science literacy scraping the bottom the barrel. And now evolutionists are prescribing more scientific lies mandating evolutionary dogma. For a century evolution has corrupted science and science education alike, teaching a bizarre, upside-down version of the facts and suppressing the true science. Evolutionists have literally filled textbooks with unabashed lies that have left students without a clue about the real biology involved. And now they have just raised the ante, mandating the same old lies for the states to adopt “in whole, without alteration.”

In these new standards, middle schoolers, for example, are supposed to “Construct explanations for the anatomical similarities and differences between fossils of once living organisms and organisms living today.” And how is a twelve year old supposed to expound upon such a profound topic? The fine print explains: “Students should use the record of evolutionary descent between ancient and modern-day organisms.”

This is pure indoctrination. There is no other way to put it. Presenting young students with a problem way over their head, and feeding them a religiously-motivated, anti scientific answer, is pure indoctrination. That is to say nothing about the fact that this is terrible pedagogy. No wonder our students can’t stand science.

Unfortunately that example is typical. Middle schoolers are also to learn that:

Anatomical similarities and differences between various organisms living today, and between them and organisms in the fossil record, enable the reconstruction of evolutionary history and the inference of lines of evolutionary descent.

Again, the young student is confronted with a false dogma that is imposed on the science. Of course the real science enables no such thing. The so-called “lines of evolutionary descent” are contradicted, not supported, by the empirical evidence. Even evolutionists are quietly finally admitting to themselves that the evolution tree doesn’t work. But of course they won’t tell the students.

At the high school level this evolutionary lie is elaborated:

Genetic information, like the fossil record, also provides evidence of evolution. DNA sequences vary among species, but there are many overlaps; in fact, the ongoing branching that produces multiple lines of descent can be inferred by comparing the DNA sequences of different organisms. Such information is also derivable from the similarities and differences in amino acid sequences and from anatomical and embryological evidence.

The embryological evidence reveals profound non homologous development pathways even in sister species which contradicts the expected evolutionary pattern. Such contradictions are literally ubiquitous in the anatomical and genetic data. Just a few examples we have recently looked at are here, here and here.

High schoolers are also to “explain the process by which natural selection leads to adaptations.” This evolutionary myth that adaptations arise by the slow process natural selection acting on random change appears several times in the standards, in spite of the fact that science shows that adaptations arise rapidly and non randomly in direct response to environmental shifts. Again, even some brave evolutionists are admitting these findings to each other.

All of this mythology is brought to us by evolutionists. At one point they write:

The section begins with a discussion of the converging evidence for common ancestry that has emerged from a variety of sources (e.g., comparative anatomy and embryology, molecular biology and genetics).

But the comparative anatomy, embryonic and molecular data do not converge on common ancestry, they contradict the common ancestry pattern. This is an uncontroversial, scientific fact. The dogma could not be more obvious.

Similarly, the evolutionists write:

Finally, the core ideas in the life sciences culminate with the principle that evolution can explain how the diversity that is observed within species has led to the diversity of life across species through a process of descent with adaptive modification. Evolution also accounts for the remarkable similarity of the fundamental characteristics of all species.

Again, this is evolutionary mythology. And again, even brave evolutionists are admitting that they cannot explain how the massive changes evolution requires came about. And those “fundamental characteristics” are not so fundamental. It is pathetic to see evolutionists continue to proclaim evidence that has long since been contradicted by the science.

These standards are yet another example of how evolution is not only corrupting science but doing so at the expense of the taxpayer. If this is the “Next-Generation Science Standards” then we are all in trouble.

[Ed: Edited as per RC's comment]

Evolutionary Blackballing No Longer in the Closet

Evolutionists don’t usually advertise their McCarthyist blackballing, for even they realize that manipulating the message, controlling information, ruining careers and the like doesn’t look good. But in the wake of the uproar over this year’s commencement speaker—neurosurgeon Ben Carson who doubts all of biology arose spontaneously as evolutionists insist—Emory University President Jim Wagner had no choice not only to implement an evolutionary “background checking step” to filter out all future commencement speakers who might say something interesting, but to make it clear to all that such a blackballing procedure would be formally implemented.

This information was triumphantly conveyed in an email from biology professor Jacobus (Jaap) de Roode who issued several misrepresentations of science in a letter to the editor.

Of course McCarthyites always believe they are right, for after all they hold the truth. And so there is always the hypocritical twist that while engaging in their blackballing activities evolutionists tell each other they are upholding truth.

So it is not surprising that, according to Jaap, President Wagner “expressed his hopes that this discussion can be followed up in the fall, with a College-wide discussion on truth and systems of belief.”

Yes, it will be another teachable moment with the evolutionists. In that fact-free ambiance all will be assured that the good doctor is a fine man with good intention, but that the objective, unquestionable scientific truth that everything came from nothing can be a bit too raw and hard-hitting for the sentimental.

How can we better communicate the hard truth of evolution while not offending those not equipped to handle it? That will be the question of the day in that polite, collegiate gathering where evolutionists, having controlled the message, continue to drink their own bathwater.

You can be sure that there will be no more evolution doubters at Emory University, blackballing is now coming out.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Worshipping the Creature Rather Than the Creator

Alan Lightman’s recent piece in Harpers on the multiverse has all the usual goodies: The problem that the universe is finely tuned, science devolving into speculation, scientific explanation devolving from law-driven necessity to contingency-driven chance, and more. As Alan Guth, explains, “the multiple-universe idea severely limits our hopes to understand the world from fundamental principles.” But no story about the multiverse would be complete without the all-important, so-called, anthropic principle and Lightman does not disappoint. The multiverse is the cosomologist’s role in the evolutionary creation story, and just as evolutionists center their myth in the thing that was created, so too the cosmologist’s point of reference is, yes, us.

When you ask an evolutionist how profoundly complex biological designs, that even today confound our best scientists and engineers, evolved, they will explain that the organic wonder increased the fitness of the organism in which it evolved. In other words, the new design fulfilled a need. They will explain this in great detail, as though that suffices as an explanation to the question. The brain evolved because it was needed.

Likewise, when you ask a cosomologist how the universe was finely tuned, they will explain that it must be finely tuned because, as British physicist Brandon Carter explained, we are here to observe it. If it weren’t finely tuned, it wouldn’t be observed because life would be impossible. Simply put, our universe is what it is because we are here.

It would be like hitting a thousand jackpots in a row in Las Vegas and explaining it by referring to the money you collected. True, if you hadn’t hit those jackpots you couldn’t have collected the money, but that doesn’t explain the astronomically unlikely event.

It’s all about worshipping the creature rather than the creator.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bats and Whales Share the Same Bio-Sonar Technology

Once again science contradicts evolution. This time it is the now common-place finding that incredible similarities show up in otherwise distant species. Specifically, whales and bats share some uncanny similarities in how they track prey using, believe it or not, super-sophisticated sonar technology. But if evolution is true, we would have to believe that their common ancestor had none of these capabilities. So in completely different parts of the world, in completely different environments, random mutations in these different species must have independently constructed the same ultra complex designs. As a report this week explains:

Though they evolved separately over millions of years in different worlds of darkness, bats and toothed whales use surprisingly similar acoustic behavior to locate, track, and capture prey using echolocation, the biological equivalent of sonar. Now a team of Danish researchers has shown that the acoustic behavior of these two types of animals while hunting is eerily similar.

If evolution is true then bats and whales would have been evolving independently for millions of years. And yet they both constructed a sonar capability which involves transmitting loud signals while receiving incredibly weak signals, adjusting the signal parameters in real time, processing the received signals, and so forth. They even share the same range of ultrasonic frequencies:

Bats and toothed whales (which include dolphins and porpoises) had many opportunities to evolve echolocation techniques that differ from each other, since their nearest common ancestor was incapable of echolocation. Nevertheless – as scientists have known for years – bats and toothed whales rely on the same range of ultrasonic frequencies, between 15 to 200 kilohertz, to hunt their prey.

And that similarity is in spite of the different environments:

This overlap in frequencies is surprising because sound travels about five times faster in water than in air, giving toothed whales an order of magnitude more time than bats to make a choice about whether to intercept a potential meal.

But that is not all. The bat and whale also use similar strategies for adjusting their signals while homing in on prey:

Bats increase the number of calls per second (what researchers call a “buzz rate”) while in pursuit of prey. Whales were thought to maintain a steady rate of calls or clicks no matter how far they were from a target. But the new research shows that wild whales also increase their rate of calls or clicks during a kill – and that whales’ buzz rates are nearly identical to that of bats, at about 500 calls or clicks per second.

It is another example of a complex design evolution can only speculate about, and once again the evolutionary tree fails to predict its pattern.

Four Biology Professors at Emory University Wrote This Letter Full of Misrepresentations (And More Than a Hundred Other Faculty Signed On)

In an astonishing example of anti intellectualism four biology professors at Emory University, joined by hundreds of faculty, researcher and student signatories, wrote an incredible letter to the editor full of blatant scientific misrepresentations. Here are the more blatant misrepresentations.

If there was any doubt about the professor’s intent it is quickly dispelled in the first paragraph where the reader encounters the bizarre claim that “science rests squarely on the shoulders of evolution.” It would be difficult even to know where to begin with such a claim. To say it is false would be a compliment.

Later the letter makes the false claim that “The evidence for evolution is overwhelming.” If that wasn’t enough, the professors attempt to justify this claim, but they just make matters worse.

First, they make the circular claim that “ape-human transitional fossils are discovered at an ever increasing rate.” That, of course, simply begs the question. Every freshman knows you cannot argue for the truth of a proposition by presupposing the proposition in the first place. Yes fossils are discovered. But if you are arguing that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming, then you cannot begin with the evolutionary assumption that the fossils are “transitional.” Philosophers call this a “theory-laden” observation.

Next, the professors dig another hole by making the erroneous claim that “the processes by which organisms evolve new and more complex body plans are now known to be caused by relatively simple alterations of the expression of small numbers of developmental genes.” No clever fallacy here, that is simply false. There is no such knowledge and, as life scientists, it would be incredible if the professors did not know this.

Next the professors make the false conclusion that evolution is as well supported as gravity. They write: “The theory of evolution is as strongly supported as the theory of gravity and the theory that infectious diseases are caused by micro-organisms.” Again this is false. But it is so blatantly untrue that one hardly knows how to respond. It would be like a physics professor saying perpetual motion is as well supported as breathing. What could they possibly be thinking?

Finally, the professors hypocritically equate evolution with all of science and critical thinking. They write: “Dismissing evolution disregards the importance of science and critical thinking to society.” This sentiment reveals the underlying dogma. For these professors, and the hundreds of signatories, are displaying a lack of critical thinking and an anti intellectualism that is disturbing. If we’re not allowed to dismiss the non scientific dogma that all of biology arose spontaneously, then we’re all in trouble.

Here is How Evolutionists Are Trying To Account For Adaptive Mutations

It has long been known, and even longer been suspected, that organisms not only can adapt rapidly to environmental challenges, but that such adaptations can be passed on to subsequent generations. Evolutionists have resisted such findings, but they now are beyond dispute. Whereas the evolutionary dogma had been that populations undergo change via selection acting on random variation, the science revealed that populations can change quite rapidly and in response to the environmental shift. Indeed there are is a variety of mechanisms that are now at least partially understood that play a role in this environmentally-directed process. Some influence which genes are expressed and others modify the DNA using the so-called adaptive mutations. So now at least some evolutionists are trying to incorporate this once eschewed view into evolutionary theory. Here is a paper that gives a brief overview of the idea that evolution has created a complex set of mechanisms which, in turn, produce these directed adaptations that we observe in biology. It begins by noting that a few leading evolutionists had a sense that random mutations plus natural selection were insufficient to explain the biological world, and how they were correct:

even [August] Weismann, the father of neo-Darwinism, decided late in his career that directed variation must be invoked to understand some phenomena, as random variation and selection alone are not a sufficient explanation. This minireview will describe mechanisms of mutation that are not random and can accelerate the process of evolution in specific directions. The existence of such mechanisms has been predicted by mathematicians who argue that, if every mutation were really random and had to be tested against the environment for selection or rejection, there would not have been enough time to evolve the extremely complex biochemical networks and regulatory mechanisms found in organisms today. Dobzhansky expressed similar views by stating “The most serious objection to the modern theory of evolution is that since mutations occur by ‘chance’ and are undirected, it is difficult to see how mutation and selection can add up to the formation of such beautifully balanced organs as, for example, the human eye.”

The paper next introduces the idea that environmental stress causes directed feedback mechanisms to accelerate adaptation. The idea is that these mechanisms work together to expose DNA segments to mutations.

Many scientists may share Dobzhansky's intuitive conviction that the marvelous intricacies of living organisms could not have arisen by the selection of truly random mutations. This minireview suggests that sensitive, directed feedback mechanisms initiated by different kinds of stress might facilitate and accelerate the adaptation of organisms to new environments. The specificity in the series of events summarized by Fig. 3 resides entirely in the first step, which is meant to suggest a pattern of derepression elicited by a corresponding pattern of adverse conditions. Microorganisms in nature must be confronted simultaneously by a complex set of problems, for example, the threat of oxidative or osmotic damage together with suboptimum concentrations of many essential nutrients. Transcriptional activation of genes derepressed to various degrees would expose the nontranscribed strands to mutations and stimulate localized supercoiling. Vulnerable bases in the complex DNA structures resulting from supercoiled DNA will also contribute to localized hypermutation in the genes activated to cope with the stresses that initiate the above series of events.

So the idea is that that the environment not only creates life, but it continues to direct evolution by fine-tuning the DNA copying process. After all, organisms that can respond more effectively to environmental challenges would have an obvious advantage:

The environment gave rise to life and continues to direct evolution. Environmental conditions are constantly controlling and fine-tuning the transcriptional machinery of the cell. Feedback mechanisms represent the natural interactive link between an organism and its environment. An obvious selective advantage exists for a relationship in which particular environmental changes are metabolically linked through transcription to genetic changes that help an organism cope with new demands of the environment. 

In other words, evolution does not merely occur by random events. It occurs via complex mechanisms which evolution first created. This work demonstrates how robust evolutionary theory is to falsified predictions. It also demonstrates the immense level of serendipity in evolutionary theory.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Here’s Why Homoplasy (And Other Contradictions) Isn’t a Problem For Evolution

Evolution and common descent expect the species to fall into a tree-like pattern. Species on the same branch should be similar, whether one is looking at their visible features or the microscopic cellular and molecular features. On the other hand, species on very distant branches should be different, again whether one is looking at their visible features or the microscopic cellular and molecular features. And while this expected pattern has some flexibility that is allowed, the observed pattern reveals far more significant contradictions. Allied species that look like they belong to the same branch reveal profound differences upon closer inspection. And different species that look like they belong to distant branches reveal profound similarities. One might think evolutionists would go easy on their truth claims about evolution being overwhelmingly supported by the evidence and a compelling fact. But they don’t, not in the light of these contradictions or in the light of the many other contradictions. Here is a recent paper that shows exactly how evolutionists respond to these evolutionary tree contradictions. First for some background:

Understanding the diversification of phenotypes through time—“descent with modification”—has been the focus of evolutionary biology for 150 years.

And next for the statement that reveals how evolutionists handle contradictions. They don’t consider the possibility that evolution may not be a fact. Rather, they search for evolutionary explanations:

If, contrary to expectations, similarity evolves in unrelated taxa, researchers are guided to uncover the genetic and developmental mechanisms responsible. 

And while that might seem reasonable, one problem is that while the search is on there is no acknowledgment that evolutionary theory has problems. Evolution racks up problem after problem, and still no such acknowledgment. For those problems are interpreted as research problems which deal with the theory of evolution and have no influence on the fact of evolution. Such research is taken as a sign of good science at work.

So while there is nothing wrong with doing research, the years pass by with no acknowledgment of the actual state of the science. This brings us to the second problem, which is that evolution is sufficiently malleable that it always seems to have at least some sort of explanation, albeit unlikely, to service the contradictions. To wit, the paper continues:

Similar phenotypes may be retained from common ancestry (homology), but a phylogenetic context may instead reveal that they are independently derived, due to convergence or parallel evolution, or less likely, that they experienced reversal. 

In this case, the contradictions can be explained by various combinations of common ancestry, convergence, parallel evolution and reversal, to name a few. They could have included unique selection scenarios, accelerated evolution, and other mechanisms to account for those profound differences found amongst otherwise allied species.

In any case, one way or the other the contradictions will be explained by some mechanisms, no matter how speculative or unlikely. And the whole exercise will be cast as an investigation of how evolution really works.

Such examples of homoplasy present opportunities to discover the foundations of morphological traits. A common underlying mechanism may exist, and components may have been redeployed in a way that produces the “same” phenotype. New, robust phylogenetic hypotheses and molecular, genomic, and developmental techniques enable integrated exploration of the mechanisms by which similarity arises.

Components may have been redeployed? Evolutionists will try hard to explain the findings, but don’t expect an objective, theory-neutral, scientific evaluation of their idea.