Thursday, January 30, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Religion Not Allowed In Science

Except His Religion

With his upcoming reprisal of Carl Sagan’s acclaimed Cosmos documentary just weeks away, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s interview with Bill Moyers touches on science and religion as well. At the [16:50] mark Moyers wonders about religious people who are trying to find signs of the divine in all those cold, hard scientific findings. Like most journalists Moyers takes the mythical Warfare Thesis (religion fights the inexorable march of science when not in full retreat and must locate its god in the gaps not yet filled by science) for granted and asked unsurprising questions about the feeble-minded faithful for the Director of the Hayden Planetarium to reluctantly set straight. The exchange reaches peak banality at the [20:50] mark where Tyson finally cuts to the heart of the matter. Religion cannot be allowed in science:

Go think whatever you want. Go ahead. Think that there is one god, two gods, ten gods, or no gods. That is what it means to live in a free country. The problem arises, is if you have a religious philosophy, that is not based in objective realities, that you then want to put in the science classroom. Then I’m going to stand there and say “No, I’m not going to allow you into the science classroom.” I’m not telling you what to think, I’m just telling you the science classroom—you’re not doing science, this is not science, keep it out. That’s when I stand up. 

This is, of course, standard evolutionary fare. Blame others for introducing religion into science after, yes, introducing religion into science. It is Tyson who insists the world spontaneously arose (Evolution is “not only an important concept in biology but an important concept in all of science.” [3:50 in this video]) in spite of having precisely, err, no idea of how that happened while, on the other hand, mandating the evolutionary metaphysics that this must be true because we all know this world could not have been designed:

Star formation is completely inefficient. Most places in the universe will kill life instantly—instantly! People say “Oh, the forces of nature are just right for life.” Excuse me. Just look at the volume of the universe where you can’t live. You will die instantly. That is not what I call the Garden of Eden, alright. … We’re on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy—gone is this beautiful spiral that we have. And of course we’re on a one-way, expanding universe as we wind down to oblivion, as the temperature of the universe approaches absolute zero.

And that is only the beginning. You can see and hear Tyson’s religious concerns beginning at around 32:00 in this video. Yes you can find clever designs and beauty, but there is always evil and dysteleology lurking. For every Paley, there is a Hume:

And so, if I came upon a frozen waterfall, and it just struck me for all its beauty, I would then turn over the rock and try to find a millipede, or some kind of deadly newt, and put that in context, and realize, of course, the universe is not here for us.

Not here for us? And from where did Tyson gain this scientia? Which experiment informed him that these things demonstrate that the world “is not here for us”? Of course there is none, for this isn’t science.

This coming from the man who points the finger and says “you’re not doing science, this is not science, keep it out.”

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A New Review of the Evolution of Multicellularity

Same Old—Same Old

Karl Niklas’ new review of the evolution of evolutionist’s understanding of evolution, and in particular the evolution of multicellularity, now admits that multicellularity must have evolved at least, err, a dozen times or more. So much for common descent and its powerful explanatory power. Once again, for evolutionists it’s all about convergence, lineage-specific biology and Aristotelianism:

The "export-of-fitness" stage is the second step necessary to the evolutionary process of multicellularity. This requires that cells work together for a common goal of reproducing more cohesive units, or individuals, like themselves and thereby work in a concerted way toward increasing their fitness. Once this is achieved, a distinct phenotype, or form, of organism exists.

Nothing in biology makes sense in the light of evolution.

[h/t: El sabio]

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Now it is lncRNA That Goes From Junk to Hero

“The brain likes this junk RNA”

Dan Graur’s doubling down on evolution (either our genome is mostly junk or evolution is false) took yet another hit this month with a Harvard group showing that it is now lncRNA’s turn at the “I guess it isn’t junk after all” meme. The Harvard scientists selectively removed different so-called long intergenic noncoding RNA segments in mice and sure enough, problems arose. This vast army of DNA elements is apparently not junk after all. As one of the scientists explained:

There has been a lot of skepticism whether these long noncoding RNAs are important for living organisms. But you can’t say this is junk without testing it.

Of course that skepticism was not motivated by the science, but by the theory—evolutionary theory that is. But for many years now this evolutionary expectation has been repeatedly falsified. Two recent examples are here and here, but there are many more where they came from.

As I explained here, although Graur probably took the wrong side of the bet, it won’t matter. Function will be found for a substantial portion of the genome, it will be cast as Lazarus DNA (junk DNA that has gained some kind of function), and like the Star Wars cantina scene, evolutionists will forget about the disturbance and their world will return to normal.

The Brittlestar’s Distributed and Multifunctional Vision System

“Optimized by Phototropic Chromatophores”

Biology is full of unique and exotic solutions that appear in only one or a few species and a good example of this the brittlestar’s vision system. “System” is a good word for the vision capability in this relative of the starfish, for its arms are covered with precisely aligned microscopic calcite domes—structures that also serve as lenses, focusing light before it reaches photoreceptors. Here is how a 2001 paper described this finding:

The lens array is designed to minimize spherical aberration and birefringence and to detect light from a particular direction. The optical performance is further optimized by phototropic chromatophores that regulate the dose of illumination reaching the receptors. These structures represent an example of a multifunctional biomaterial that fulfills both mechanical and optical functions.

Designed? Optimized? An example of a multifunctional material? As one researcher exclaimed, “It's astonishing that this organic creature can manipulate inorganic matter with such precision - and yet it's got no brain.” Another research explained just how unique this design is:

It's bizarre - there's nothing else that I know of that has lenses built into its general body surface.

Nothing in biology makes sense in the light of evolution.

[h/t uncommondescent]

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Err, Remember That Little Problem About Novelty?

“Life is genomically complex”

The theory of evolution has made many predictions about what we should find in biology. Those predictions have routinely failed and that tells us there is something wrong with the idea. One such prediction is that the genomes and their protein products, from different species, should form a common descent pattern. The graphic above shows an example of this prediction from a high school textbook written by evolutionist George Johnson. In that example Johnson informs his young readers that the hemoglobin protein “reveals the predicted pattern.” That was a misrepresentation of the evidence at the time, and since then the failure of this prediction has only grown worse. Another more recent, but related, prediction is that evolution is largely driven by regulatory proteins which regulate the construction of other proteins. These regulatory proteins control the embryonic development stages and the idea was that species evolve by slight modifications to how these proteins function. This prediction has also failed, and even evolutionist are now admitting the evidence contradicts what they were claiming only a few years ago. Here is how one evolutionist explains the failure of these predictions:

The prevailing theory is that all animals are built from essentially the same set of regulatory genes—a genetic toolkit, and that phenotypic variation within and between species arises simply by using shared genes differently. Scientists are now generating a vast amount of genomic data from an eclectic mix of organisms. These data are telling us to put to bed the idea that all life is underlain by a common toolkit of conserved genes. Instead, we need to turn our attention to the role of genomic novelty in the evolution of phenotypic diversity and innovation.

The idea of a conserved genetic toolkit of life comes from the 'evo-devo' (evolutionary and developmental biology) world. In short, it proposes that evolution uses the same ingredients in all organisms, but tinkers with the recipe.

That, however, is all wrong:

However. We can now sequence de novo the genomes and transcriptomes (the genes expressed at any one time/place) of any organism. We have sequence data for algae, pythons, green sea turtles, puffer fish, pied flycatchers, platypus, koala, bonobos, giant pandas, bottle-nosed dolphins, leafcutter ants, monarch butterfly, pacific oysters, leeches…the list is growing exponentially. And each new genome brings with it a suit of unique genes. Twenty percent of genes in nematodes are unique. Each lineage of ants contains about 4000 novel genes, but only 64 of these are conserved across all seven ant genomes sequenced so far.

Many of these unique ('novel') genes are proving important in the evolution of biological innovations. Morphological differences between closely related fresh water polyps, Hydra, can be attributed to a small group of novel genes. Novel genes are emerging as important in the worker castes of bees, wasps and ants. Newt-specific genes may play a role in their amazing tissue regenerative powers. In humans, novel genes are associated with devastating diseases, such as leukaemia and Alhzeimer's.

So whereas the genome was once just so much junk, evolutionists now must admit that “Life is genomically complex” and that Darwinian evolution, err, doesn’t actually explain how the eye, or anything else for that matter, originated:

Life is genomically complex, and this complexity plays a crucial role in evolving diversity of life. It's easy to see how an innovation can be improved through natural selection, e.g. once the first eye evolved, it was subject to strong selection to increase the fitness (survival) of its owner. It is more challenging to explain how novelty first originates, especially from a conserved genomic toolkit. Darwinian evolution explains how organisms and their traits evolve, but not how they originate. How did the first eye arise? Or more specifically how did that master regulatory gene for eye development in all animals first originate? The capacity to evolve novel phenotypic traits (be they morphological, physiological or behavioural) is crucial for survival and adaptation, especially in changing (or new) environments.

Not a problem however. Biology doesn’t follow evolutions patterns? We merely must reimagine evolution. It’s a whole new theory as “genomes are constantly producing new genes all the time”:

But the presence of unique genes in all evolutionary lineages studied to date now tells us that de novo gene birth, rather than a reordering of old ingredients, is important in phenotypic evolution. The over-abundance of non-coding DNA in genomes is less puzzling, if they are a melting pot for genomes to exploit and create new genes and gene function, and ultimately phenotypic innovation. The current thinking is that genomes are constantly producing new genes all the time, but that only a few become functional.

“Constantly producing new genes”? Evolutionists think nothing of the failure of fundamental predictions—they simply add more epicycles. Whatever is found in biology, evolution produced it, no matter how silly the theory becomes. For decades evolutionists proclaimed that biology revealed evolution’s common descent pattern. That turned out to be wrong and now evolutionists simply turn the story on its head. Once we were told that evolution was proven by its common descent patterns. Now evolutionists euphemistically describe biology’s designs as “taxonomically-restricted,” “lineage-specific,” and “phylogenetically widespread.” The exact opposite of evolutions predictions.

Nothing in biology makes sense in the light of evolution.

[h/t: The Man]

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fantastic Experiment Shows Bird Formations Contradict Evolution

Wingtip Path Coherence Previously Not Thought Possible

When aircraft fly the air pressure on the underside of the wing is greater than on the topside. This pressure difference provides the needed lift force on the wings. It also causes the air at the end of the wing to move upward and then around in a circle, resulting in a strong vortex that trails the wing tips as the aircraft flies (see photo). Birds also have trailing vortices but they are far more complex given the complicated shape of the wing and the bird’s flapping motion. And so while it is tempting to think that the familiar V-formation used by migrating birds is for aerodynamic efficiency, evolutionists have long since been skeptical because of the tremendous precision that would be required for birds to take advantage of the complicated aerodynamic environment. Perhaps, evolutionists thought, the formations were used simply to follow leader, or for protection from predators. But a fantastic new study—using miniature sensor packages consisting of a satellite GPS receiver and accelerometers—has demonstrated that birds do indeed track their aerodynamic environment in real-time and take advantage of it with precise positioning and wing flapping:

Here we show that individuals of northern bald ibises (Geronticus eremita) flying in a V flock position themselves in aerodynamically optimum positions, in that they agree with theoretical aerodynamic predictions. Furthermore, we demonstrate that birds show wingtip path coherence when flying in V positions, flapping spatially in phase and thus enabling upwash capture to be maximized throughout the entire flap cycle. In contrast, when birds fly immediately behind another bird—in a streamwise position—there is no wingtip path coherence; the wing-beats are in spatial anti-phase. This could potentially reduce the adverse effects of downwash for the following bird. These aerodynamic accomplishments were previously not thought possible for birds because of the complex flight dynamics and sensory feedback that would be required to perform such a feat. We conclude that the intricate mechanisms involved in V formation flight indicate awareness of the spatial wake structures of nearby flock-mates, and remarkable ability either to sense or predict it. We suggest that birds in V formation have phasing strategies to cope with the dynamic wakes produced by flapping wings.

Here is how one science writer summarized the study:

To take maximum advantage of the V’s aerodynamics, each bird would have to position its wing in the upward-moving part of the vortex of air swirling off the end of the wingtip of the bird in front. But that vortex moves up and down because the bird in front is flapping. So the bird behind must not only put itself in the right place, but must also flap at just the right time — which changes depending on the distance between the birds — to keep riding the upwash. Faced with this complexity, scientists posited alternative reasons for the formation, suggesting that it might protect the birds against predators or let a flock put better navigators up front.

Not only does this formation flying capability falsify evolutionary expectations, its origin is not explained by evolutionary theory. In fact, without the trailing bird’s ability to track the dynamic wake structures of the leading bird, process that information, and precisely adjust its position and its wing flapping, the formation flying could be worse than simply flying alone. To gain the advantage all these capabilities must be in place and coordinated with each other. So with evolution we must believe that all these capabilities somehow evolved from chance mutations and worked together, so they could then be selected. There are just far too many mutations required before the increased fitness is realized and the probability of evolution creating formation flying capability is tiny.

When Darwin proposed his theory of evolution, a century and a half ago, it seemed unlikely. But ignorance of biology’s details provided cover. Now that cover is gone. Ever since Darwin those details have slowly come to light and one after the other have confirmed the absurdity of evolution.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Evolutionist: Science Doesn’t Lie

The Big Lie

In her wacky video promoting evolution Carin Bondar states that science doesn’t lie. This sentiment is common amongst evolutionists and the problem is that evolution isn’t science, and if it was, then science would be guilty of lying. Over the top criticism? No, these simply are the facts.

The demarcation problem is notoriously difficult. Just what is and isn’t science, and how do we discern the difference? These can be perplexing questions, but evolution is nowhere close to the subtle boundary line between science and non science.

Evolutionists before Darwin, Darwin, and evolutionists since Darwin all make religious claims in their motivation and defense of evolution. These religious claims are not an aside, they are the core theoretic of evolution. Without them there would be no evolution.

And what is evolution? It is the claim that the world spontaneously arose. The biological world here on Earth, including all the species, originated via a process of random events and natural law—chance and necessity.

This claim is at odds with the scientific evidence. So evolution is a religiously motivated idea that contradicts the empirical data. Evolution clearly is not science, by anyone’s definition.

Second, evolution certainly does lie. For while evolutionists quibble over many things, they agree and insist that evolution is a fact, fully supported and made compelling by the science. That simply is not true.

To be sure, scientists can debate over how best to understand and interpret the many observations we have from science. And one can find many observations that appear to support evolutionary theory.

But this is being kind.

There simply is no question that the preponderance of the scientific evidence presents enormous problems for evolutionary theory. Yes we can debate the details, but we are nowhere close to evolution being a scientific fact, beyond all reasonable doubt, fully supported by the evidence, and so forth. Quite the opposite—evolution is astronomically unlikely from a scientific perspective.

One hates to use the word “lie” and we always try to understand differing perspectives. But this high claim that evolution is a scientific no-brainer is so preposterous, so far from any stretch of the truth, it defies the benefit of the doubt. At some point one must call a spade a spade. Perhaps Bondar needs a sequel.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Oops, “Environmental Information May Be Inherited Transgenerationally”

More Incoming

Drug addictions and neuropsychiatric illnesses seem to recur in parents and their children in a cycle that is difficult to break. As neurobiologist Kerry Ressler explains “There are a lot of anecdotes to suggest that there’s intergenerational transfer of risk.” But until recently evolutionists denied—and actively persecuted scientists suggesting—any such thing. For evolutionary theory has traditionally viewed heritable changes as being strictly channeled through DNA and its chance mutations which are selected when they happen to improve fitness. Thus, according to modern evolutionary theory, all inherited change that ever occurs to a species is, ultimately, from a source that is random. Non random heritable change that might be directed or influenced by environmental challenges is not allowed. No teleology, no final causes, no design.

Those are the metaphysical ground rules. But for decades undeniable evidence has once again contradicted evolutionary dogma. There is no question that species respond rapidly to environmental challenges with non random change. One of the mechanisms, referred to as epigenetics, involves small chemical tags, such as methyl groups, attached to DNA or its histone packaging proteins. But as one science writer warned, “For some evolutionary biologists, just hearing the term epigenetics raises hackles.” Or as one evolutionist 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.”

Aside from violating evolution’s ground rules against heritable directed change, otherwise known as the inheritance of acquired characteristics, epigenetics takes the unlikeliness of evolution to an entirely new level. We would have to believe that evolution’s undirected, random change somehow created an astonishingly complex adaptation machine. In short, we would have to believe the mother of all just-so stories, namely that “Not only has life evolved, but life has evolved to evolve.”

Not only do the sheer intricacies and interdependencies of epigenetics, and the lack of an evolutionary fitness pathway, rule out an evolutionary origin, but the violation of Occam’s Razor is colossal. We must believe that evolution created a profoundly complex machine which just happens to facilitate an entirely new form of adaptation. From a scientific perspective epigenetics reveals another absurdity of evolution.

And Ressler’s new study published last month demonstrating transgenerational inheritance of environmental information in mice—at behavioral, neuroanatomical and epigenetic levels—is just making it worse.

Ressler and postdoc Brian Dias exposed the mice simultaneously to electric shocks and a particular odor. Soon the odor alone caused abnormal behavioral responses. Next, they observed such abnormal behavioral responses in subsequent generations which had not been exposed to any electrical shocks. And this transgenerational inheritance occurred both via the mother and via the father.

Of course there is much more to learn, but this important research is yet another example of how evolution has held back scientific. Evolution did not motivate this research—quite the opposite. Consider how a science writer in a leading journal introduced the work:

According to convention, the genetic sequences contained in DNA are the only way to transmit biological information across generations. Random DNA mutations, when beneficial, enable organisms to adapt to changing conditions, but this process typically occurs slowly over many generations. Yet some studies have hinted that environmental factors can influence biology more rapidly through 'epigenetic' modifications, which alter the expression of genes, but not their actual nucleotide sequence.

Hinted? Sorry but evolutionary dogma notwithstanding, the rapid and directed heritable change in populations—the inheritance of acquired characteristics—has not merely been “hinted.” It is well established science no matter how much evolutionists push back.

But evolutionary dogma does push back against science, and this new study was met with the usual skepticism. One evolutionist is incredulous:

The claims they make are so extreme they kind of violate the principle that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

Another evolutionist finds the claims to be unnerving:

It's pretty unnerving to think that our germ cells could be so plastic and dynamic in response to changes in the environment.

Extreme? Extraordinary? Unnerving? I guess so when you insist that the species, and everything else for that matter, must have arisen spontaneously.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Evolution Professor: There is No True Morality

And You’re Disgraceful For Doubting This Truth

In his New Republic piece from this week Paul Bloom makes the point that evolution explains morality. Evolution co-founder Alfred Wallace was wrong about morality and wrong about God. And similar sentiment today, such as from Francis Collins, is equally flawed. The research is in and human morality is not a divine gift but rather is best explained by secular accounts. “It would be big news indeed,” writes the Yale Psychology Professor, “if it turned out that the enactment of the Moral Law didn't involve the brain, but exists in a special spiritual realm. But, of course, this isn't the case.” It is true that humans have an enhanced morality but it is the product of evolution’s natural selection and of culture. And of course culture itself is ultimately a product of evolution. And as Bloom reminds us, evolution is beyond question. For while design makes for a powerful argument, Darwin changed everything with his mechanistic account for complexity:

The theory of natural selection has been supported by abundant evidence from paleontology, genetics, physiology, and other fields of science, and denying it now is as intellectually disgraceful as denying that the Earth orbits the Sun.

It is not too surprising that Bloom finds morality to be explained by evolutionary mechanisms. After all, he finds evolution itself to be beyond any reasonable doubt.

It is also not too surprising that Bloom is oblivious to the pickle he has put himself into. For evolutionists never quite seem to understand that their relativism doesn’t support their judgments. When evolutionists such as Bloom speak of a moral law, they mean that evolution and culture caused certain molecular arrangements in our heads that induce certain feelings we call “right” and “wrong.” But there is no basis for true “right” and “wrong.” It is all just opinions.

But when Bloom castigates anyone who would so much as doubt evolutionary claims, he means it. This is where evolutionists make the value judgments. These are no mere opinions. Doubt evolution and you are bad and, as Bloom puts it, “disgraceful.”

Such contradictions are common in evolutionary thought. Why should anyone listen to Bloom’s value judgments and castigations if, according to Bloom, they are mere opinions.

Someone else could just as well say that skepticism is virtuous. It is not healthy to question scientific theories? Is it not good for at least some people to doubt even well accepted conclusions?

Such questions seem particularly apropos in this case as what Bloom is claiming to be such an obvious no-brainer is nothing less than the spontaneous origin of the world (yes, that is what evolution claims).

Not only is this not supported by the empirical evidence, as Bloom imagines it to be, but Bloom’s very denial of any true moral law inevitably amounts to a denial of knowledge as well. For if all we have is our brains for reasoning power, and if our brains are nothing more than a collection of molecules luckily assembled by evolution, then it is not just our morality that reduces to relativism. Our reasoning and conclusions are also just a reflection of molecular arrangements in our heads. There need not be any correspondence between those cranial arrangements and facts about the outside world. Bloom would be in no position to make hard and fast conclusions about what certain evidences say about our origins.

Indeed, Bloom seems to be modeling his beliefs rather well as his reasoning and conclusions, in fact, have no such correspondence with the outside world. Paleontology, genetics, physiology, and “other fields of science,” as Bloom puts it, do not provide undeniable evidential support for evolution as he thinks, but rather one after the next evidential challenge. Even the evolution of a single protein is astronomically unlikely.

Bloom’s article is an example of where evolutionary thinking leads. Religion drives science, and it matters.

Monday, January 13, 2014

We Have a Backup Sense of Smell to Protect the Lungs

Just Not That Smart

Our noses have specialized cells that give us a sense of the vapors around us by detecting the presence of chemicals and sending signals to the brain. New research is now explaining how our lungs also have such chemosensors. These sensors send signals not to the brain but to the nearby tissues causing a fast response, such as coughing and wheezing, when we inhale irritating or toxic vapors. Our lungs need this protection since they essentially are open to the external environment. As one evolutionist explained, “it makes sense that we evolved mechanisms to protect ourselves.” But such reasoning violates Occam’s Razor and reveals again how Aristotelianism lives on inside of evolution.

In science we must never multiply entities. That is, gratuitous explanations are not allowed. In this example of odor receptors in the lungs, there is no evidence that they evolved. Indeed, it is highly unlikely. We would have to believe that chance mutations caused odor receptors to be constructed at random locations around the body. And since these are chance mutations, we must also believe that other types of receptors would also be constructed. Furthermore, other types of cells (other than receptors) would be constructed. In short, a vast universe of possibilities would constantly be sampled by evolution. Light sensors, otherwise found in our eye, must have appeared on our big toe at some point in evolutionary history.

Evolution must have been sampling an astronomically large hyper-dimensional design space. Otherwise it never would have luckily constructed these odor receptors in our lungs.

But that is not all.

Having luckily constructed these odor receptors in our lungs (and in the right place in our lungs), there would have been precisely zero benefit. It would have made no difference because there would have been no signaling pathways, to the nearby tissues, for those receptors to excite. And those signaling pathways would have to, in turn, excite the correct type of response. It wouldn’t help much if the response, rather than coughing, would have been to breathe deeply.

With evolution we must believe that not only did it luckily construct the right kinds of receptors in the right place, but it also constructed the right kinds of signals and responses, so the entire system would work. Such an outcome is improbable.

So the evolution of these odor response systems in the lungs is not likely to have occurred. In fact, it is astronomically unlikely. It is not a scientifically motivated idea and it violates Occam’s Razor to say that “it makes sense that we evolved mechanisms to protect ourselves.” The correct scientific conclusion would be: “it makes sense that we have mechanisms to protect ourselves.”

And this leads us to another aspect of Aristotelianism within evolutionary thought.  Of course there is evolution’s incessant reliance on Aristotelianism’s teleological language. But there is also the use of explanations which, themselves, are in need of explaining. Saying that it “makes sense” that the lung’s odor response system evolved explains nothing and raises enormous questions about how that possibly could have evolved.

This is no different than Aristotelianism’s notorious “qualities” that Descartes bemoaned. A hot fire dried out a damp cloth because, Aristotelians explained, fire has the quality of dryness and heat. But these were nothing more than descriptive labels. The qualities did not explain how the fire dried the cloth. As Descartes later complained:

If you find it strange that … I do not use the qualities called “heat,” “cold,” “moistness,” and “dryness,” as do the philosophers, I shall say to you that these qualities appear to me to be themselves in need of explanation.

Likewise, if you find it strange that we do not use the mechanism called “evolution,” as do the philosophers, we shall say to you that this mechanism appears to us to be itself in need of explanation.

Nothing in biology makes sense in the light of evolution.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

USAToday: Evolution is Settled Science and Not a Religious Proposition

The Beauty of Evolution

Truth may be, as Paul Dirac suggested, beautiful, but beauty is not always true. From the celestial spheres of the Greeks to Kepler’s heavenly harmonic tones, our dreams of beauty are often just that—dreams and not reality. But we dream on and today the most beautiful dream is evolution.

Evolution resolves every tension and is the foundation for moving forward. It makes God all the more wise, dignified and sovereign. For creating the laws that do the creating is more sublime and exalted than tinkering and creating thousands of species of beetles, for example.

And evolution protects God from being responsible for this ragged, asymmetric and evil world. This world clearly would not have been intended by any being powerful enough to create it. Also evolution protects God from the infinite regress that Hume warned of.

With those tensions resolved evolution provides for the way forward. Being able to explain our origins is the first step to controlling our origins. As Philip Johnson once observed, explanation is mastery. So man, in his clean white lab coat, is the objective source of truth. Without evolution, science would be impossible, for nature would be rent by the interference of supernatural transcendent powers, as Bultmann explained. With evolution, man takes control of the world.

Evolution is beautiful. It services both our theology and our philosophy—God and man.

Evolution also resolves our culture wars, for it provides a via media between the hostile atheists and the fundamentalist creationists. Evolution does not refute God nor prove God. Science and religion are non-overlapping magisteria and any attempt to combine and unite them shall infallibly injure both, as Baden Powell warned while Darwin worked away on his theory.

And so science has, not surprisingly, played its part. Its lines were written and it read them back perfectly. The conclusion is in and there can be no rational doubt. The empirical evidence overwhelmingly and unambiguously supports evolution. Nothing but natural law is needed to explain the origin of the world. The last piece has been added and the puzzle is complete.

There’s only one problem.

All of this incredible beauty is based on a silly and decidedly unscientific idea which is never spoken out loud: The world arose spontaneously. In reality there is no such empirical support. No overwhelming evidence and no unambiguous proof. Evolution is not a scientific fact, quite the opposite. Beauty does not imply truth.

But such realism is not acceptable in the world today. The beauty and necessity of evolution far outweigh any empirical objections. This can be seen in the steady stream of commentators such as Tom Krattenmaker who play off evolution’s beautiful themes. In his USAToday opinion piece this week, Krattenmaker laments the fact that public opinion polls ask if you believe in evolution.

This faith-laden language regarding such a hard science and proven topic as evolution is, for Krattenmaker, indicative of several underlying problems. There is the willful ignorance of the fundamentalists who believe in that outdated notion that humans were created by God in their present form, the failure of science to engage the public, the misconception that we must choose between evolution or God, the general misunderstanding of the objective scientific method that deals with scientific validity and has no leaps of faith, and the general mistrust of science in our country.

It’s all warfare thesis-positivism-scientism as Krattenmaker displays his ignorance of the history and philosophy of science in general and evolution in particular. No, evolution is not settled science (the only thing scientifically settled about evolution is that it is astronomically unlikely), the fact of evolution is based on metaphysical claims not empirical science, there is no guaranteed, objective scientific method, science certainly does take leaps of faith, and the public’s attitude toward science is usually well founded, with trust where science is on solid ground and mistrust where scientists make unfounded truth claims.

Krattenmaker’s commentary is, unfortunately, typical. Evolution is proclaimed to be a fact and then leveraged to arrive at all manner of unfounded conclusions. Evolution is much more than a scientific theory. It is the modern zeitgeist permeating education, media, law, public policy, public health, politics and environmentalism to name a few.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Magnetoreception Ability Discovered in Dogs

It’s Getting Worse

A new study out of Europe has demonstrated for the first time magnetoreception abilities in dogs. We recently discussed these amazing abilities in a range of species including fish, turtles, butterflies and homing pigeons. Even though researchers have not yet figured how these species sense and process the Earth’s magnetic field data, it is clear that these species use much more than merely the compass direction given by the field. In some cases it appears the organism is using the field intensity and inclination (the angle which the magnetic field lines make with the Earth surface) data. This new study on dogs has found yet another measurement. The dogs appear to be sensitive to real-time changes in the field’s declination angle (the difference between the field lines and true north).

So it is not so much the magnetic field, but rather the rate of change of the field, that the dogs were observed to be sensitive to. This not only implies a precise measurement ability as these declination variations are subtle, but it also implies the ability to store past measurements, so the rate of change can be evaluated somehow. This ability to compute the declination rate of change, akin to taking the derivative of a function in calculus class, is yet another monumental problem for evolution. This new magnetoreception finding reveals evolution to be even more foolish, and it’s just going to get worse.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Neuron Development Involves Cell Severing Itself

Neuron Assembly Line

If you thought the brain and central nervous system are complicated, then consider its development. New research shows that the creation of a single nerve cell, or neuron, involves the precursor cell severing itself from the embryo’s neural tube. The neuronal precursors do not merely separate and withdraw. Instead, they are attached to the tube by long tentacles which constrict and then break off. This allows the precursor cell to move to where it needs to be without taking with it the machinery for constructing a new neuron. It is a very detailed and complicated choreography that just got more complicated.

Evolutionists say that random chance mutations just happened to assemble all of this—like a factory to build cars just happening to come together (no, natural selection doesn’t help). They don’t know how this happened, and there is no scientific evidence to support this rather interesting claim, but evolutionists are certain that it did happen.

This is not hyperbolic criticism. Evolutionists really do insist that evolution is a fact, beyond any reasonable doubt. And there really is no scientific explanation for neuron development, or a thousand other wonders of biology. This is not simply a case of a minor detail yet to be worked out by an otherwise rock solid theory. From a strictly scientific perspective, evolution makes no sense. It is, quite literally, an untenable idea, scientifically speaking.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Spot the Multiplied Entity

And the Brand New Euphemism

One thing scientists never, ever do is multiply entities, but not so for evolutionists:

There’s nothing about lineage-specific—a term so at odds with evolutionary expectations that it is now euphemistically referred to as “phylogenetically widespread”—biofluorescence in both cartilaginous and bony fishes, contradicting every possible common descent and evolutionary tree model evolutionists can conjure up, that “highlights” an evolutionary history. To force-fit these findings into evolutionary dogma is yet another example of multiplied entities within evolutionary theory. When all the fancy language is removed what we have is a similar design distributed across a spectrum of species.

No evolutionary lines to trace. No homologies. As one evolutionist admitted, “We were surprised to find it [biofluorescence] in so many [species].” Ya think?

With evolution we must believe in another case of massively repeated independent evolution.

It is not that evolution informs the science, but rather that the science informs evolution. Over and over evolutionists are surprised by the findings and must make yet more awkward adjustments to their theory. The same design just happened to arise by chance, over, and over, and over, and …

Evolution adds nothing to the science. Religion drives science, and it matters.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Evolution’s Influence on the Life Sciences and Inter Cellular Communication

A Finding That “Directly Contradicts the Standard Biological Model”

While evolution is one of the most influential theories in history, in areas outside of science, it also has significant influence within science. One aspect of this influence has been to view life as simple. If all of biology just happened to arise by chance events then organisms and their designs must be pretty straightforward. This expectation has consistently been contradicted by the evidence. As Bruce Alberts explained, for example:

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.

Or as one science writer put it, “the depth and breadth of cellular complexity has turned out to be nearly unbelievable, and difficult to manage”.

Now a new paper out this week on how cells communicate with each other, in house flies, is again revealing a profound level of detailed, intricate workings which are in stark contrast to the traditional view. Specifically, one way cells communicate with each other is with signaling proteins. One cell sends out these proteins and other cells receive them. This was thought to occur by random motion but the new research has found that cells extend long, thin tubes that conduct these proteins to the surface of the target cell. In fact the tubes can stretch to long distances.

All of this greatly contrasts with the traditional view that cells, as one research explained, “basically spit out signaling proteins into extracellular fluid and hope they find the right target.” And that traditional view has been highly influential:

There are 100 years worth of work and thousands of scientific papers in which it has been simply assumed that these proteins move from one cell to another by moving through extracellular fluid. So this is a fundamentally different way of considering how signaling goes on in tissues.

Evolution’s just-add-water view of biology has not served science well. And findings like this one, aside from contradicting evolutionary expectations, reveal yet more problems for the theory. For how could such a signaling system have evolved by chance mutations? As usual, aside from vacuous speculation, evolutionists have no realistic, let alone probable, explanation.

For most theories this would signal a major problem. But not for evolution because evolution is assumed to be a fact from the start. Religion drives science, and it matters.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What Evolutionists Have Vigorously Denied For Decades Is Now “An Exploding Field”

Holding Back Science

A new study has added yet more evidence to the claim that organisms respond to environmental challenges with non DNA, epigenetic, changes that are heritable. That may sound like detailed scientific jargon that has little importance outside of the dry, technical journal papers, but nothing could be further from the truth. Evolutionary theory has traditionally viewed heritable changes as being strictly channeled through DNA. For it is the DNA that can be altered by those chance mutations. The idea is that these chance mutations sometimes just luckily happen to improve the organism, and so it is selected. Thus all change that ever occurs to a species is, ultimately, from a source that is random. Non random change that might be directed, that is that might address the environmental challenge at hand, is not allowed. No teleology, no final causes, no design. Those are the metaphysical ground rules and the new study, far from merely addressing detailed scientific issues, has significant philosophical implications regarding evolutionary dogma. As one science writer put it:

For some evolutionary biologists, just hearing the term epigenetics raises hackles. They balk at suggestions that something other than changes in DNA sequences—such as the chemical addition of methyl groups to DNA or other so-called epigenetic modifications— has a role in evolution.

Or as one researcher explained:

People are really stubborn about accepting that that’s possible.

Aside from violating evolution’s ground rules against heritable directed change, otherwise known as the inheritance of acquired characteristics, epigenetics takes the unlikeliness of evolution to an entirely new level.

We would have to believe that evolution’s undirected, random change somehow created an astonishingly complex adaptation machine. Not only do the sheer intricacies and interdependencies of epigenetics, and the lack of an evolutionary fitness pathway rule out a random origin, but the violation of Occam’s Razor is colossal. We must believe that evolution created a profoundly complex machine which facilitates an entirely new form of evolution.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Chinese Researchers Demolish Evolutionary Pseudo-Science

Science Versus Religion

In recent decades the genomes of several species have been mapped out and evolutionists are using these genome data to refine their theory. They are also making some high claims. The genome data sets, say evolutionists, are adding striking new confirmations for their theory. One piece of evidence evolutionists point to is the high similarity between the human and chimpanzee genomes. The two genomes are about 95% the same and evolutionists say this shows how easily the human could have evolved from a chimp-human common ancestor. Evolution professor Dennis Venema explains:

For example, humans and our closest relatives, chimpanzees, have genomes that are around 95% identical, and most of the DNA differences are not differences that actually affect our forms. So, small changes accruing over time since we last shared a common ancestor was enough to shape our species since we parted ways – there is no evidence that evolution requires radical changes at the DNA level.

No evidence? This is an example of evolutionists seeing what they want to see in the data. Evolutionists are driven by their metaphysics and so want to believe that we are descended from a primitive ape creature. They want to believe that humans and apes “are one” and that the wall between human and animal “has been breached,” as the Smithsonian Institute put it.

But as I pointed out in my book Darwin’s Proof, if the DNA comparisons between human and chimp don’t reveal much significant difference, then we probably need to look elsewhere. Humans are vastly different than chimps and if our DNA comparisons aren’t revealing much difference, then those segments probably aren’t what is driving the difference between the two species.

In fact there are much more significant differences between the human and chimp genomes. Differences that may “actually affect our forms.” A 2011 paper out of China and Canada, for example, found 60 protein-coding genes in humans that are not in the chimp. And that was an extremely conservative estimate. They actually found evidence for far more such genes, but used conservative filters to arrive at 60 unique genes. Not surprisingly, the research also found evidence of function, for these genes, that may be unique to humans.

If the proteins encoded by these genes are anything like most proteins, then this finding would be another major problem for evolutionary theory. Aside from rebuking the evolutionist’s view that the human-chimp genome differences must be minor, 6 million years simply would not be enough time to evolve these genes.

In fact, 6 billion years would not be enough time. The evolution of a single new protein, even by evolutionists’ incredibly optimistic assumptions, is astronomically unlikely, even given the entire age of the universe to work on the problem.

Unfortunately none of this will influence the evolutionist because for evolutionists this never was about science. As Venema explains:

It’s one thing to explain away biogeographical patterns or claim that anatomical similarities reflect a non-evolutionary “design” pattern – but another thing altogether to attempt to explain away why humans (and other placental mammals) have a defective gene for making egg yolk in the exact spot in our genomes where chickens have the functional version of this gene, and that humans and chimpanzees share a large number of mutations in common in our two inactivated copies.

The argument from dysteleology says that these faulty genetics would not have been designed or created and that therefore they must have evolved. This argument is not new. It did not arise when the genomic data became available but has been influential for centuries. Earlier evolutionists found faults with all manner of biological, geological and cosmological aspects of nature.

This reasoning is not new and it is not science. It is based on personal religious beliefs that are not open to debate. Imagine if you believed these things. Imagine that you believed, with Venema, that common mutations, for example, rules out any possibility of the species having been created in any sort of direct sense.

Then of course you would be an evolutionist. Even though evolutionary theory fails every test. With evolution, the religion drives the science.

In the meantime, while the evolutionists make up rules for science to follow and insist the world spontaneously arose in spite of the evidence, these researchers in China and Canada are doing real science.

Evolutionists Trapped in Ice While Rescuing Fellow Evolutionists Trapped in Ice While Searching for Global Warming

More Evolutionists on the Way

In other news, it snowed in Cairo for the first time in 112 years and the Green Bay Packers are preparing for the coldest football game ever played.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Forbes Goes Religious With Dennis Venema

A Defective Gene

Evolution is motivated by strong philosophical and theological premises which overcome the obvious scientific problems and evolutionists never stray too far from their metaphysics. This was demonstrated again this week in John Farrell’s Forbes blog. Farrell interviewed evolution professor Dennis Venema who discussed how the evidence bears on evolution:

Evidence for evolution is everywhere – biogeography, embryology, anatomy, paleontology, and so on …

If you’re an evolutionist, then everything supports evolution. The beauty of evolution is that all of nature supports the theory, regardless of the details. In fact the biogeography evidence is, quite literally as well as figuratively, all over the map. Some evidences from biogeography are, as evolutionist Ernst Mayr once put it in his book What Evolution Is, “almost unbelievable.” He admitted that one example of lizard dispersal is “truly miraculous.”

Yet biogeography has always been a powerful proof text for evolutionists. Why? As usual, it is the religion behind the science that is so powerful. As one textbook explained:

Had all species been created in the places where they now exist, then Amphibian and terrestrial mammals should be as frequent on oceanic islands as on comparable continental areas. Certainly, terrestrial mammals should have been created on these islands as frequently as were bats. [Dodson and Dodson, Evolution: Process and Product, 1976]

After discussing the biogeographical patterns, Jerry Coyne was a bit more blunt when he proclaimed: “Creationism is hard-pressed to explain these patterns.” Coyne has strong religious beliefs, but religious beliefs hardly qualify as science.

Likewise the embryonic evidence has long since been discredited. Non homologous development pathways in similar species make no sense on evolution but once again, it’s all about religion.

As for anatomy, striking differences are found in otherwise similar species and striking similarities are found in otherwise different species—precisely the opposite of evolution’s narrative. But the evidence remains compelling because of the religion.

And again for paleontology. The fossil record reveals rapid explosions of diversity followed by stasis and discontinuities—precisely the opposite of the envisioned evolutionary process. But as evolutionist Ken Miller points out, we all know the fossil species would not have been created.

Over and over, in each category the evidence contradicts evolution from a scientific perspective, but it mandates evolution from a religious perspective. The absurdity is downright laughable. But that is evolution and Venema, true to form, shows that, once again, it’s all about religion:

It’s one thing to explain away biogeographical patterns or claim that anatomical similarities reflect a non-evolutionary “design” pattern – but another thing altogether to attempt to explain away why humans (and other placental mammals) have a defective gene for making egg yolk in the exact spot in our genomes where chickens have the functional version of this gene, and that humans and chimpanzees share a large number of mutations in common in our two inactivated copies.

The argument from dysteleology goes back to antiquity. Darwin refined it showed how it makes evolution true. As Stephen J. Gould put it:

Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution—paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce. No one understood this better than Darwin. Ernst Mayr has shown how Darwin, in defending evolution, consistently turned to organic parts and geographic distributions that make the least sense.

Venema is, first and foremost, a religious fundamentalist. His religion dictates his science. As it was said so long ago, theology is the queen of the sciences. The age-old idea that the world spontaneously arose is of course, from a scientific perspective, absurd. The evolutionist’s insistence that said idea is now a fact beyond any reasonable doubt is beyond absurd—it isn’t even wrong.

But as Paul warned Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Gene Regulation Not Enough in Human Evolution

Getting Even More Circuitous

One of the favorite proof texts for evolution are the genome comparisons between species, in general, and the human-chimpanzee comparison in particular. As the Smithsonian explains:

No matter how the calculation is done, the big point still holds: humans, chimpanzees, and bonobos are more closely related to one another than either is to gorillas or any other primate. From the perspective of this powerful test of biological kinship, humans are not only related to the great apes – we are one. The DNA evidence leaves us with one of the greatest surprises in biology: the wall between human, on the one hand, and ape or animal, on the other, has been breached. The human evolutionary tree is embedded within the great apes.

The evolutionist’s appeal to this genomic evidence is problematic for several reasons. Of course a successful test of a prediction does not mean evolution is true. The claim above that the wall “has been breached” is silly and amounts to the fallacy of affirming the consequent. What is worse, this test has been a failure, not a success, for evolution. There are the identical or near-identical DNA sequences in distant species and the massive genome differences in highly similar species. Both these findings falsified predictions and were shocking to evolutionists.

Beyond these obvious problems which evolutionists, such as at the Smithsonian, ignore, there is the problem that the chimp-human DNA differences do not seem nearly enough to account for the differences between the species. Can a few DNA swaps here and there make a human from an ancient primate? It does not seem likely, so behind this triumphant claim of evolutionists lies a failure to even understand how such evolution could have occurred.

That raises an even more profound problem for evolution. For one idea evolutionists have for how humans may have evolved from an earlier primate is by gene expression. That is, perhaps an important mechanism in evolving humans was not so much modifying the genes, but modifying how much the genes are used, to create proteins.

But this involves a more complicated evolutionary pathway. Instead of DNA mutations that simply modifying genes which create proteins that do a few tasks in the cell, we need DNA mutations that modify how genes are regulated. Such regulation is part of an immense and incredibly complex network, particularly in humans, and it is not at all clear how chance mutations could modify and enhance it.

Recently this story has become even more difficult for evolution as a new study shows that the path from gene expression to protein expression is not as straightforward as was thought. Simply put, the two are not necessarily paired as increasing one, for example, does not necessarily increase the other. As the paper explains:

We found dozens of genes with significant expression differences between species at the mRNA level yet little or no difference in protein expression. Overall, our data suggest that protein expression levels evolve under stronger evolutionary constraint than mRNA levels.

Those genes with significant expression differences between the human and chimp were thought to be important drivers of evolution. Did not the expression level difference between the species occur after they diverged from a common ancestor and was that not part of what created humans (even though we have no idea how)? Now evolutionists are not certain. As one evolutionist explained:

Some of these patterns of mRNA regulation have previously been thought of as evidence of natural selection for important genes in humans, but this can no longer be assumed.

Not only can that no longer be assumed, but the evolutionary mechanisms just became even more complicated. First evolutionists thought humans evolved by mutating genes which create proteins that do a few tasks in the cell. That didn’t work so they added DNA mutations that modify how genes are regulated. Now that is not working so they must add DNA mutations that modify how the expression product (the mRNA transcript) is regulated. So now the evolutionary pathway is even more complicated.