Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Pew Forum Poll Reveals More Ignorance

When Will They Learn?

Following the recent Harris poll we now have a Pew Forum poll out today on who believes what about evolution, and we can expect another round of reports from the elites on the shocking ignorance that continues to persist in fly-over land. Unlike the Harris poll which asks about belief in Darwin’s theory of evolution and usually runs around 50% for and against, the Pew Forum poll presents participants with the vague and less meaningful choice between “humans and other living things have evolved over time” versus “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” Most creationists would have no problem with the first choice and not surprisingly 7% of the people gave up on the false dichotomy. Nonetheless 33% did choose full out stasis, enough to disturb and embarrass science writer Lauren Friedman given the “overwhelming evidence” for evolution. Friedman gets credit, however, for while many writers would not deign to provide any actual reasoning (condescension followed by a quick exit is always safer than trying to explain how it is we know the world arose spontaneously) Friedman at least provides several links to evidence for why “evolution is real.” Let’s have a look at why we are so ignorant.

Friedman begins with this quote from our taxpayer funded Public Broadcasting Service (PBS): “The Darwinian theory of evolution has withstood the test of time and thousands of scientific experiments; nothing has disproved it since Darwin first proposed it more than 150 years ago.”

Thousands of scientific experiments? Actually every major prediction of evolution has turned out to be false. So what does PBS know that has escaped the scientific journals? Nothing actually. The problem is that citing PBS on why evolution is true is a bit like calling the New York Yankees front office to find out if the Yankees are the greatest baseball team.

The PBS site behind Friedman’s link is mainly a grandiose victory lap. And when the site does attempt to show how the science proves evolution it fails badly such as with this discussion of genes:

Genes are the portions of an organism's DNA that carry the code responsible for building that organism in a very specific way. Genes -- and, thus, the traits they code for -- are passed from parent to offspring. From generation to generation, well-understood molecular mechanisms reshuffle, duplicate, and alter genes in a way that produces genetic variation. This variation is the raw material for evolution.

The problem here is that this has not been shown to be true. In fact this is a cartoon version of evolution that even many evolutionists have rejected. And those who have not rejected it have a significant burden of proof. Shuffling, duplicating, mutating and whatever other mechanisms PBS cares to throw into the list simply do not appear capable of providing the needed variation. Even Stephen J. Gould admitted that macroevolution is an unsolved problem. That’s what the science is telling us.

Or again, PBS falters on the question “Is there evidence for evolution?”:

In the 150 years since Darwin proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection, a mountain of evidence has accumulated to support the theory. A greatly expanded fossil record since Darwin's time, the discovery of DNA and the process of genetic replication, an understanding of radioactive decay, observations of natural selection in the wild and in laboratories, and evidence in the genomes of many different organisms, including humans, have all bolstered the validity of the theory of evolution.

This is not a mountain of evidence. It is not even evidence. At least not positive evidence. The fossil record reveals rapid explosions of diversity followed by stasis and discontinuities—precisely the opposite of the envisioned evolutionary process.

DNA is a complex chemical structure that would have been difficult to evolve and the DNA code is not ordinary as evolutionists thought it was, but rather is extremely unique. That presents many problems for evolution, including the conundrum that the DNA code must have evolved rapidly and very early in evolutionary history, long before higher life forms arose which benefit so much from the code’s clever design. How did evolution know to evolve such a special code long before its particulars would be needed?

DNA replication is also a problem for evolution because, while evolutionists had long predicted that such a fundamental process would be conserved across the species, it has been found to have important differences in different species.

Natural selection is also not a very good evidence for evolution, for the simple reason that it is so routinely forfeited by evolutionists. Likewise the “evidence in the genomes” raises several different kinds of problems for evolution. Perhaps most obvious are the identical or near-identical DNA sequences in distant species and the massive differences in highly similar species. Both these findings falsified predictions and were shocking to evolutionists.

Friedman’s other sources for proof of evolution are equally problematic. For instance she cites behavior evidence, but altruistic behavior—such as Mother Teresa helping unrelated people groups in distant lands—is a problem for evolution requiring circuitous explanations. Friedman also cites human genome comparisons where this conclusion is made:

Due to billions of years of evolution, humans share genes with all living organisms. The percentage of genes or DNA that organisms share records their similarities. We share more genes with organisms that are more closely related to us.

Again, this is just plain wrong. For instance, humans are more similar to the orangutan than to the chimpanzee, yet our DNA is closer to the chimpanzee. Or again, we are very distant from the kangaroo, yet the genomes of the two species share profound similarities. As one researcher explained:

There are a few differences, we have a few more of this, a few less of that, but they are the same genes and a lot of them are in the same order. Which really surprised us, we thought they'd be completely scrambled, but they're not, there's great chunks of the human genome which is sitting right there in the kangaroo genome.

The evidence simply does not support evolution—the claim that the most complex things we know of arose spontaneously—unless it is turned upside down and forced to support the theory. And that gets us closer to an understanding of evolution. This becomes more obvious when Friedman cites the leading evolutionist Jerry Coyne who explains that the ostrich must have evolved because its wings are obviously evolutionary leftovers. After all, the ostrich doesn’t fly. True the wings may be used as balancers, but that misses the point:

Wouldn't it be odd if a creator helped an ostrich balance itself by giving it appendages that just happen to look exactly like reduced wings, and which are constructed in exactly the same way as wings used for flying?

Odd? That may or may not be odd, but it certainly is not scientific. There’s no arguing with the evolutionist’s personal religious beliefs, but it is precisely such metaphysical mandates that pervade the evolution literature and prove evolution to be true. From the Epicureans and gnostics to today’s evolutionists, we have always had our own preconceived ideas about origins, regardless of the evidence.

Meanwhile science writers such as Friedman upbraid the ignorant masses:

It's difficult to imagine who could believe such things when faced with the mountain of evidence supporting evolution.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Morphological Discontinuities Trouble Evolutionists

One of the Most Important Questions in Evolutionary Biology

NeoDarwinism expected a fine gradation of form from one species to the next but the distribution of morphologies is clumpy at virtually all scales. Appeals to gaps in the fossil record don’t solve the problem and now evolutionists are considering more complex explanations for how evolution could have produced such morphological discontinuities. They are also suggesting that the expectation of fine gradations between species may have been driven by Charles Lyell’s promotion of uniformitarianism in geology and by the desire to be physics-like. Darwin’s friend Thomas Huxley warned Darwin about his narrow focus on gradualism. As Douglas Erwin explains:

Lyell, however, deeply influenced Darwin, and just as Lyell invoked uniformitarianism as part of his efforts to make geology a science, I believe Darwin followed suit in his development of evolutionary thought. Huxley famously wrote to Darwin immediately before publication of The Origin, suggesting that Darwin had adopted a gradual view of evolution too unreservedly.

But what if Darwin had not cast his evolution as a gradual, law-like process? If he had allowed for saltations to explain the discontinuities, rather than gaps left by an imperfect fossil record, then his theory would have been less compelling. Now, 150 years later, we have yet another false prediction and evolutionists struggling to patch the theory. And if something as fundamental as this remains in question, then certainly evolution is not a scientific fact.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

More Than a Theory: The Role of Darwinism in Nazi Racial Thought

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

There is much disagreement over evolution but it is not controversial that evolution is the most influential theory in the history of modern science. This is particularly true in areas outside of science. Evolutionary thought has permeated, for example, education, media, law, public policy, and environmentalism. And just as evolutionary theory is deeply flawed its various influences have had disastrous results. A prominent example from the twentieth century was evolution’s role in the formation of racial thought in Nazi Germany, as historian Richard Weikart documents in a recent paper. Here is how Weikart summarizes the ways that Nazi racial thought was shaped by Darwinism:

First, almost all Nazi racial theorists believed that humans had evolved from primates. Second, they provided evolutionary explanations for the development of different human races, including the Nordic or Aryan race (these two terms were used synonymously). Specifically, they believed that the Nordic race had become superior because harsh climatic conditions in north-central Europe during the Ice Ages had sharpened the struggle for existence, causing the weak to perish and leaving only the most vigorous. Third, they believed that the differential evolutionary development of the races provided scientific evidence for racial inequality. Fourth, they held that the different and unequal human races were locked in an ineluctable struggle for existence. Fifth, they thought that the way for their own race to triumph in the struggle for existence was to procreate more prolifically than competing races and to gain more “living space” (Lebensraum) into which to expand. Sixth, many argued that Darwinism promoted a collectivist ideal. These six points—derived from the view that humans and human races evolved and are still evolving through the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection—profoundly impacted Nazi policy. They formed the backdrop for eugenics, killing the disabled, the quest for “living space,” and racial extermination.

Of course Nazi racial ideology was not derived exclusively from Darwinism or evolutionary biology, but evolution provided a key part of the foundation. Indeed many German anthropologists and biologists supported Nazi racism as they were already committed to it before the Nazis came to power. And as Weikart explains, evolution was an important theme in Hitler’s ideas:

In his writings and speeches Hitler regularly invoked Darwinian concepts, such as evolution (Entwicklung), higher evolution (Höherentwicklung), struggle for existence (Existenzkampf or Daseinskampf ), struggle for life (Lebenskampf ), and selection (Auslese). In a 1937 speech he not only expressed belief in human evolution, but also endorsed Haeckel’s theory that each organism in its embryological development repeats earlier stages of evolutionary history. … Hitler clearly thought the Nordic race had evolved, as he explained in a 1920 speech, “Why We are Anti-Semites.” The Nordic race, Hitler averred, had developed its key traits, especially its propensity for hard work and its moral fiber, but also its physical prowess, due to the harsh northern climate.

Of course Nazi curriculum and texts also espoused Darwinism:

In 1938 the Ministry of Education published an official curriculum handbook for the schools. This handbook mandated teaching evolution, including the evolution of human races, which evolved through “selection and elimination.” It stipulated, “The student must accept as something self-evident this most essential and most important natural law of elimination [of unfit] together with evolution and reproduction.” In the fifth class, teachers were instructed to teach about the “emergence of the primitive human races (in connection with the evolution of animals).” In the eighth class, students were to be taught evolution even more extensively, including lessons on “Lamarckism and Darwinism and their worldview and political implications,” as well as the “origin and evolution of humanity and its races,” which included segments on “prehistoric humanity and its races” and “contemporary human races in view of evolutionary history.”

This mandate to teach evolution and indoctrinate students reflected the position of the National Socialist Teachers’ League:

The Ministry of Education’s 1938 biology curriculum reflected the biology curriculum developed by the National Socialist Teachers’ League in 1936–37, which likewise heavily emphasized evolution, including the evolution of human races. The Teachers’ League document, authored by H. Linder and R. Lotze, encouraged teachers to stress evolution, because “The individual organism is temporary, the life of the species to which it belongs, is lasting, but is also a member in the great evolution of life in the course of geological times. Humans are also included in this life.” Thus evolution was supposed to support the Nazis’ collectivist ideals—the importance of the species or race over the individual. This biology curriculum called for teaching plant and animal evolution in classes three and four and human evolution in class five. Of the ten topics required for biology instruction in the upper grades, one was evolution and another was human evolution, which included instruction on the origin of human races.

The position of the National Socialist Teachers’ League, as summarized above, illustrates how evolutionary dogma, that the species are the result of blind materialism, has important political implications. This was also evident in later biology textbooks:

Jakob Graf’s 1942 biology textbook has an entire chapter on “Evolution and Its Importance for Worldview.” Therein Graf combated Lamarckism and promoted Darwinian evolution through natural selection. He claimed that knowing about human evolution is important, because it shows that humans are not special among organisms. He also argued that evolution substantiates human inequality. In the following chapter on “Racial Science” Graf spent about fifteen pages discussing human evolution and insisted that humans and apes have common ancestors. Erich Meyer and Karl Zimmermann likewise discuss human evolution in their biology textbook. They state … As seen in these examples, human evolution was standard fare in Nazi biology texts. … A 1942 biology text by Hermann Wiehle and Marie Harm gave extended attention to human evolution. Of the ten main chapters, two were on evolution generally and another one was devoted exclusively to human evolution. One of the recommended activities for classes was a zoo visit to view the primates: “Since in the curriculum we have covered evolution and the origin of humanity, during a visit to the zoo the primates will especially grip us.” As this text and the accompanying activity make clear, German school children during the Third Reich were encouraged to see primates as their evolutionary relatives.

Evolution underwrote human inequality (i.e., racism). But this is only the beginning and there is much more to Weikart’s paper. This chapter in history is another unfortunate example of how ideas have consequences.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Evolutionists Conclude Magnetoreception Evolved

After They Doubted its Very Existence

Many animals use a built-in sixth sense called magnetoreception to sense direction and even location as they travel long distances. These magnetoreception capabilities are highly sophisticated and, after many decades of research, scientists still have not unraveled the full story. But as a recent report explains, a barrage of ingenuous experiments have begun to piece together many important aspects of magnetoreception.

Anyone who has used a compass can imagine how animals might be able to sense direction. A compass uses the Earth’s magnetic field to show north, east, south and west. Perhaps animals have miniature bio-compasses hard-wired to their brains, giving them an innate sense of direction.

But that alone does not account for the incredible feats of navigation and travel animals perform. Loggerhead turtles, for instance, after swimming in the swirling currents of the North Atlantic gyre need to adjust their direction carefully at key locations to return to the American coast. They need to be able to sense the key locations, not just know the compass directions. Simply put, they need map information and the sensory data to determine where they are on the map. One possibility is that they use the angle which the magnetic field lines make with the Earth surface, along with intensity anomalies.

From loggerhead turtles and homing pigeons to monarch butterflies and rainbow trout, scientists are researching not only how magnetic signals are sensed but how they are later processed. By exposing animals to different magnetic field patterns and observing their behavior scientists can infer much about how the signals are processed. Scientists have even observed the specific neurons that respond to different field patterns indicating the specific patterns the animal is perceiving.

What has been more elusive, however, are the actual receptors that detect and report the magnetic field measurements. In birds, scientists had thought that these miniature marvels were in the upper beak. But that hypothesis was found to be false and other possible locations include eyes and the inner ear.

The research can be “maddeningly difficult,” as one writer put it. But that does not mean the scientists are slowing down. As one scientist explained: “[Magnetoreception] is a huge mystery. That’s what makes this such an exciting field. We simply don’t know how they do this, so it’s wide open to discovery.”

It is also another example of the failure of evolutionary theory. Not only is there no scientific explanation for how such magneto reception, processing and decision-making could evolve, but the entire idea runs counter to evolution. Fifty years ago evolutionists ridiculed the idea that animals could detect such weak signals and use them in a sort of geographic information service. Now they claim it is all a result of blind evolution. As one evolutionist explained regarding the loggerhead turtles, “We think different areas along the migratory pathway are marked by unique magnetic signatures, and the turtles have evolved responses that are coupled to these signatures.” They think that not because the turtle’s magnetoreception appears to be a product of evolution, or that they have anything close to a scientific explanation for how it could have evolved. They think that because they believe evolution is true.

That is the extent of evolution’s contribution to this research.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Problems With the Canonical Giant-Impact Model of Moon Evolution

Lunar-Origin Studies Are “In Flux”

The problem with evolutionary theories is not that they are impossible—any theory, no matter how bad it is, if held with sufficient conviction can be adorned with enough epicycles to explain the data and avoid outright impossibility. And evolutionists certainly do have the needed conviction. For evolutionists, their theory simply cannot be false. That option is not on the table and they will do whatever it takes to avoid it, including blackballing scientists, falsely claiming the theory to be a scientific fact, misrepresenting the science in courts and in textbooks, contriving false histories, and so forth. And so while evolutionary theories can never be outright falsified, they are improbable. This can be seen both (i) by comparing the theory with the evidence and (ii) by all those epicycles which evolutionists must use to patch up their theories. The many patches added to evolutionary theories result in high complexity and loss of parsimony. One example that Robin Canup recently discussed is the origin of the Earth-Moon system.

Modern evolutionary theories attempting to explain the Earth-Moon system go back to the late nineteenth century when George Darwin, son of Charles, proposed that the Moon was made of materials ejected from the Earth by tidal instabilities. This fission hypothesis was followed by capture, co-accretion and impact hypotheses as well. Various types of hypotheses have been considered because none of them work very well. For no single hypothesis has been able to account for the various evidences, such as the mass of the Moon, the angular momentum of the system, and the high similarity between the chemical compositions of Moon rocks and the Earth crust.

In recent years the giant-impact hypothesis has been able to explain the size of the Moon and the system’s angular momentum, but not the Moon rock’s composition. Of course explanatory mechanisms can always be contrived. For example, perhaps the impacter just happened to have the same chemical composition as the Earth upper layers. But that would be “extremely improbable” explains Canup, as such similarity is not typical within the solar system.

There are other possible explanatory mechanisms as well, but inevitably, as with biological evolutionary theories, they complicate the theory and rely on serendipity and coincidence. As Canup explains:

It remains troubling that all of the current impact models invoke a process after the impact to effectively erase a primary outcome of the event — either by changing the disk's composition through mixing for the canonical impact, or by changing Earth's spin rate for the high-angular-momentum narratives.

Sequences of events do occur in nature, and yet we strive to avoid such complexity in our models. We seek the simplest possible solution, as a matter of scientific aesthetics and because simple solutions are often more probable. As the number of steps increases, the likelihood of a particular sequence decreases. Current impact models are more complex and seem less probable than the original giant-impact concept.

That, in a nutshell, is the story of evolution. Initially simple theories, which far exceed the scientific knowledge of the day, are constructed from a metaphysical commitment to naturalism. These theories are more mythological than scientific and they inevitably fail badly as science progresses. The commitment to naturalism, however, trumps all else and the theory’s initial parsimony easily gives way to incredible complexities.

The failure of evolution lies not in its falsification—an impossibly high bar evolutionists routinely erect to protect their theory—but in its failed predictions, improbability and resulting complexity and loss of parsimony.

Canup’s acknowledgment of the problem is a rare exception to the rule of declaring evolution to be a scientific fact regardless of the failures.


A Kind of Lie

Thomas Huxley, 1860:

Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest manner the great truth which is embodied in the Christian conception of entire surrender to the will of God. Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.

Thomas Huxley, 1868:

Choose your hypothesis; I have chosen mine. I can find no warranty for believing in the distinct creation of a score of successive species of crocodiles in the course of countless ages of time. Science gives no countenance to such a wild fancy;

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Brain: Most Incredible Information Processing Device Known

One quadrillion Synapses

New research is now indicating that the brain is even more powerful than previously thought. A nerve cell, or neuron (see illustration), can be thought of as having inputs and outputs. The basic output is an electrical signal that travels down the tail of the neuron called the axon. The axon may connect to tissue, such as muscle via a connection called a synapse. The synapse may also connect the axon to another neuron, and this leads us to the input side of the neuron. The input branches, leading from the synapse to the central body of the neuron, are called dendrites. So for a given neuron, there are a number of input signals coming from the dendrites, and a number of output signals at the tail end of the axon. But what happens in between? Aside from merely propagating these electrical signals, somewhere the neuron needs to do some processing of the input signals, which determines the output signals that are generated. How does this processing work, and where does it occur?

The new research indicates that while dendrites have been thought mainly to transmit signals, they also perform substantial processing as well. As one of the researchers explained:

This work shows that dendrites, long thought to simply funnel incoming signals towards the soma, instead play a key role in sorting and interpreting the enormous barrage of inputs received by the neuron. Dendrites thus act as miniature computing devices for detecting and amplifying specific types of input.

Or as another researcher concluded, “Suddenly, it's as if the processing power of the brain is much greater than we had originally thought.” This work, he added, is a little bit like reverse engineering a piece of foreign technology:

Imagine you're reverse engineering a piece of alien technology, and what you thought was simple wiring turns out to be transistors that compute information. That's what this finding is like. The implications are exciting to think about.

That is how science works, and it contradicts the evolutionist’s claim that evolutionary theory is required to perform life science research. Nothing could be further from the truth. Assumptions of evolution not only are unnecessary, they get in the way. Science analyzes nature and figures out how it works.

These findings also contradict the evolutionist’s claim that evolution is a fact, for evolutionists have no explanation, beyond vague and silly story-telling, for how such a marvel as the brain and its neurons could have evolved. The metaphysics makes evolution a fact, but from a strictly scientific perspective, evolution is a bizarre and inane theory.

Religion drives science and it matters.

That Conference On The Evolution of Multicellularity Revealed The Usual Problems

No Way Out

Earlier this year evolutionists gathered in Barcelona to discuss the evolution of multicellularity. It is yet another challenging topic because it contradicts the evolutionary model. The most obvious contradiction is that it requires a series profoundly sophisticated enhancements and changes to occur in a population of unicellular organisms. Such changes are unlikely to occur spontaneously and the evolutionary narrative inevitably relies on moves that are reminiscent of the proverbial “And then a miracle occurs.” As one paper admitted:

The emergence of multicellular animals or metazoans from their single-celled ancestors is one of the most important evolutionary transitions in the history of life. However, little is known about how this transition took place.

Indeed. Little is known about how multicellularity evolved simply because it is not plausible to begin with. The result is vague speculation that sometimes looks more like just-so stories than scientific hypotheses:

We have proposed that the evolution of soma involved the co-option of ancestral life-history genes whose expression was conditioned on environmental cues (as an adaptive strategy to enhance survival at an immediate cost to reproduction), through shifting their expression from a temporal/ environmentally-induced into a spatial/ developmental context.

Of course evolutionists must believe that it occurred—someway, somehow. And in typical fashion, even if evolutionists cannot explain how something evolved, at least they can provide the usual fitness rationale and draw up the usual evolutionary trees depicting when it evolved and how it propagated along the evolutionary tree according to evolution’s pattern of common descent.

Unfortunately for evolutionists this exercise usually frustrates the theory as the various biological wonders inevitably do not follow the pattern of common descent, but instead arise independently more than once.

That is nowhere more true than with the miracle of multicellularity which, if evolution is true, must have independently evolved more than, err, twenty-five times.

Evolution not only is apparently quite good at constructing biological wonders, it does it over, and over, and over again.

The theory is saved, however, because we know it is a fact.

Monday, December 23, 2013

New Poll: No One Is Buying It

The People Have Spoken

After evolutionist James Shapiro claimed he was misquoted by certain members of the Texas state’s school board textbook review committee, even though he wasn’t misquoted; and that those members made a “completely false statement” about novelty being an unsolved problem for evolutionary theory, even though it was Shapiro who misrepresented novelty as well in hand; and that he was “the victim of skillful misquoting for an anti-science purpose,” even though expecting our public schools to teach accurate science is certainly not “anti-science” and it is evolution which consistently makes the anti-science claim that evolution is a fact; and that those members were “trying to confuse and mislead the public” and were “against freedom of speech in scientific research, honesty in public decision-making, and suitable modern education for the students of Texas,” even though it is evolution that consistently misrepresents science in textbooks and classrooms, and misinforms the public; and that the actions of those members is “counter to the ideals of liberty, democracy and opportunity on which this nation was founded,” even though it is evolutionists who blackball anyone who dares question evolutionary theory and keep lists of those people to ensure their careers are derailed and construct false histories of science to hide their McCarthyism; it is perhaps not too surprising that a new poll finds that Americans don’t really trust scientists.

According to the poll, almost three in five Americans trust the information from scientists only a little or not at all, and that skepticism rises to more than four in five Americans when the information comes from science journalists.

Furthermore, almost four in five Americans think that scientific studies are often or sometimes influenced by political ideology. Note that in this question the Huffington Post reveals its own internal bias as the “ideology” is specifically identified as political, not religious. The dominant influence in evolutionary thought is not even listed in the question.

I suppose it is good that most Americans are resolute and appropriately skeptical of the steady stream of distortions forced upon them. But it is unfortunate that such skepticism is needed in the first place.

James Shapiro Cries Foul: “I was outraged”

Evolution’s Crocodile Tears

The latest attack in the never ending Texas textbook battle comes from evolutionist James Shapiro, University of Chicago professor, who states that he was falsely misquoted by certain members of the Texas state’s school board textbook review committee. Shapiro explains that he was outraged by a “completely false statement” and that he was “the victim of skillful misquoting for an anti-science purpose.” Indeed, according to Shapiro these opponents of evolution are “trying to confuse and mislead the public,” and are “against freedom of speech in scientific research, honesty in public decision-making, and suitable modern education for the students of Texas.” Shapiro concludes that all of this “sounds counter to the ideals of liberty, democracy and opportunity on which this nation was founded.” These are very serious charges from a leading evolutionist and, as such, need to be addressed.

The Outrage

Here is the statement that so outraged Shapiro:

THE CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF THE GROWING BODY OF EVIDENCE IS THAT NATURAL SELECTION ONLY PURIFIES BUT SOMETHING ELSE IS REQUIRED TO CREATE SIGNIFICANT VARIANTS TO BE SELECTED. The critical aspect is introduction of novelty. It is gradually being recognized that no mechanism for this has been firmly established. See "Evolution: A view from the 21st century," James A. Shapiro, Prof of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Univ. of Chicago, (2011), page 144, "Selection operates as a selective but not a creative force."

As you can see, Shapiro is cited to support the claim that natural selection appears to be inadequate to explain the evolution of novelty and that science is beginning to recognize that no mechanism for the introduction of novelty has been firmly established.

Shapiro cries foul because, as he explains, he has been studying and publishing the details precisely of mechanisms that create novelty:

I stated on the very first page of the Introduction [of his book]: "Uncovering the molecular mechanisms by which living organisms modify their genomes is a major accomplishment of late 20th Century molecular biology."

Indeed, Shapiro says he discusses such mechanisms, for the introduction of novelty, throughout his book. But what exactly is this “novelty” that Shapiro discusses? It is changes to the genome structure.

The Facts

In other words, Shapiro is referring to genetic changes such as adaptive mutation, horizontal gene transfer, insertion of nucleotide sequences into the genome and movement of sequences within the genome, gene and genome duplication, and so forth.

All fascinating stuff, but it directs our attention away from the problem. Yes such mechanisms are real and important, and yes science increasingly understands how these mechanisms help organisms cope with their environment. But these mechanisms do not explain the major evolutionary advances. They do not explain macroevolution and, yes, they do not explain the introduction of novelty. From individual proteins to new body plans, we have more questions than answers. And these natural genetic engineering mechanisms, as Shapiro calls them, do not suddenly resolve this fundamental problem of evolution.

Indeed, Shapiro’s outrage is rather incredulous given that evolution’s failure to explain the origin of novelty is well known. Stephen J. Gould long ago admitted that macroevolution is an unsolved problem. Since then this sentiment has only increased. As one evolutionist recently agreed, “we know very little about how they [evolutionary innovations] originate.” Or as another paper explained, “Little information exists on the dynamics of processes that lead to functional biological novelties and the intermediate states of evolving forms.” Another evolutionist was a bit more frank: “The problem is that the source of novelty is so dammed elusive.”

Shapiro’s work further confirms that natural selection is not the powerful creative force it has often been portrayed to be and that “something else” is required. Shapiro may think the answer lies in his natural genetic engineering toolkit, but neither he, nor anyone else, has shown this to be true.

To make matters worse, the sentence that so outraged Shapiro is decidedly conservative. It states that “It is gradually being recognized that no mechanism for this has been firmly established.” That is absolutely uncontroversial, as there is no question that no mechanism has been “firmly” established. It would have been entirely safe to say that no such mechanism for this [the creation of novelty] has been established, period.

Shapiro, of course, is well aware of all this. He knows that his natural genetic engineering toolkit has not been shown to solve evolution’s problem of novelty. And he knows that no mechanism for this has been firmly established. The statement is well within its rights and Shapiro’s outrage amounts to little more than false indignation.

The Serendipity

There is another aspect of this issue that is worth mentioning. Imagine for a moment that Shapiro is on to something. Perhaps his natural genetic engineering toolkit can generate biology’s many incredible designs. Even if that is true, it would not solve the problem of novelty, it would just push it back one step.

For if those natural genetic engineering tools could create such complexities, it would raise the question of how evolution created such tools in the first place. You see those natural genetic engineering tools are, themselves, the result of complex structures and information. Adaptive mutations and horizontal gene transfer don’t “just happen.”

Imagine a fully automated factory that builds automobiles. That would be amazing and the discovery of how the factory works wouldn’t explain the origin of cars. Likewise, the discovery of genetic tools that created the species would be a tremendous advance, but it would hardly solve evolution’s problem of novelty. For how did the novel genetic tools evolve?

The Hypocrisy

Evolutionist James Shapiro was outraged, but given the facts how does his criticism fare? He was outraged by the “completely false statement that ‘no mechanism for this [introduction of novelty] has been firmly established.’”

But that statement is not “completely false.” In fact, it is not even just plain false. On the contrary, it is Shapiro who is making false statements about evolution’s problem of novelty.

Shapiro also complained that he was “the victim of skillful misquoting for an anti-science purpose.” But Shapiro was not misquoted, and expecting our public schools to teach accurate science is certainly not “anti-science.” On the contrary, it is Shapiro who is firmly in the evolution camp which consistently makes the anti-science claim that evolution is a fact.

Shapiro also complained that these opponents of evolution are “trying to confuse and mislead the public,” and are “against freedom of speech in scientific research, honesty in public decision-making, and suitable modern education for the students of Texas.” But how is it that wanting to get the science right makes one guilty of all these crimes? As we have seen, it is evolution that consistently misrepresents science in textbooks and classrooms, and misinforms the public.

Finally Shapiro complained that all of this “sounds counter to the ideals of liberty, democracy and opportunity on which this nation was founded.”


How about blackballing anyone who dares question evolutionary theory, Professor Shapiro? How about keeping lists of those people and ensuring their careers are derailed? How about constructing false histories?

Is that sort of McCarthyism your idea of liberty, democracy and opportunity, Professor Shapiro?

Evolutionists are outraged when anyone dares come forward with scientific problems. These opponents are castigated for their nefarious motives. They are bad while evolutionists are good. Evolutionists wear the white hat and wrap themselves in the flag while blackballing and misrepresenting both the science and the history behind the science.

We have, unfortunately, seen this movie before and it no longer surprises. Professor Shapiro’s false outrage and hypocrisy are the rule rather than the exception.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Scientific Illiteracy Growing Worse

5% Increase In 8 Years

A new Harris poll of 2,250 Americans reports that belief in Darwin’s theory of evolution has risen five percentage points since 2005, from 42% to 47%. This number has been steady for decades so it is difficult to know if this uptick is the beginning of a new trend or merely a temporary swing. But the fact that so many Americans believe that the species spontaneously arose, does not reflect well on science education. This pedagogy failure is not buried in a subtle detail of science. It is not as though Americans have failed to grasp a technical aspect of quantum chromodynamics. On the contrary, it would be difficult to find a more wrongheaded, anti scientific view than spontaneous origins. Scientific illiteracy, it seems, is at an all-time high.

Cellular Traffic Control System Research Earns the Nobel Prize

Keeps Activities Inside Cells From Descending Into Chaos

Earlier this year the Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to three scientists for their work on how tiny vesicles shuttle the right chemicals to the right location at the right time within the cell. It is an elaborate traffic control system at the molecular level. Here is how the Associated Press described the work:

This traffic control system ensures that the cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time and keeps activities inside cells from descending into chaos, the committee said. Defects can be harmful, leading to neurological diseases, diabetes and disorders affecting the immune system.

"Imagine hundreds of thousands of people who are traveling around hundreds of miles of streets; how are they going to find the right way? Where will the bus stop and open its doors so that people can get out?" Nobel committee secretary Goran Hansson said. "There are similar problems in the cell."

And here is how the Nobel Prize press release describes the work:

The 2013 Nobel Prize honours three scientists who have solved the mystery of how the cell organizes its transport system. Each cell is a factory that produces and exports molecules. … These molecules are transported around the cell in small packages called vesicles. The three Nobel Laureates have discovered the molecular principles that govern how this cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time in the cell. …

Through their discoveries, Rothman, Schekman and Südhof have revealed the exquisitely precise control system for the transport and delivery of cellular cargo. Disturbances in this system have deleterious effects and contribute to conditions such as neurological diseases, diabetes, and immunological disorders.

In a large and busy port, systems are required to ensure that the correct cargo is shipped to the correct destination at the right time. The cell, with its different compartments called organelles, faces a similar problem: cells produce molecules such as hormones, neurotransmitters, cytokines and enzymes that have to be delivered to other places inside the cell, or exported out of the cell, at exactly the right moment. Timing and location are everything. Miniature bubble-like vesicles, surrounded by membranes, shuttle the cargo between organelles or fuse with the outer membrane of the cell and release their cargo to the outside. This is of major importance, as it triggers nerve activation in the case of transmitter substances, or controls metabolism in the case of hormones. How do these vesicles know where and when to deliver their cargo?

Without this wonderfully precise organization, the cell would lapse into chaos.

The award encompasses research that was done by many teams over several decades. Not surprisingly there is no scientific explanation for how such a traffic control system evolved. All that evolutionists can offer is vague narratives about how evolution constructed primitive versions of the system which later were improved upon. Nonetheless evolutionists argue vigorously that evolution is a fact.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thomas Huxley, Crocodiles and Evolution’s Mandate

Naturalism is the Necessary Alternative

Thomas Huxley would be pleased with new research out of the University of Florida indicating the slender-snouted crocodile actually comprises two different species. After all, it was that “long succession of different species of crocodiles” which, Darwin’s bulldog argued, would not have been created:

How is the existence of this long succession of different species of crocodiles to be accounted for?

Only two suppositions seem to be open to us—Either each species of crocodile has been specially created, or it has arisen out of some pre-existing form by the operation of natural causes.

Choose your hypothesis; I have chosen mine. I can find no warranty for believing in the distinct creation of a score of successive species of crocodiles in the course of countless ages of time. Science gives no countenance to such a wild fancy; nor can even the perverse ingenuity of a commentator pretend to discover this sense, in the simple words in which the writer of Genesis records the proceedings of the fifth and sixth days of the Creation.

On the other hand, I see no good reason for doubting that necessary alternative, that all these varied species have been evolved from pre-existing crocodilian forms, by the operation of causes as completely a part of the common order of nature as those which have effected the changes of the inorganic world.

Few will venture to affirm that the reasoning which applies to crocodiles loses its force among other animals, or among plants. If one series of species has come into existence by the operation of natural causes, it seems folly to deny that all may have arisen in the same way. [Thomas Huxley, “On a Piece of Chalk,” Lectures and Lay Sermons, (London: J. M. Dent & Sons) 20-1]

There you have it. Evolution’s contrastive thinking in a nutshell. The origins question may be difficult, but one thing we do know is the Creator would never have done it this way. Such “wild fancy” can easily be discounted and with that, evolution becomes the “necessary alternative.” Better to have blind natural laws do the creating than a capricious Creator.

And in classic Darwinian slippery-slope fashion, if with crocodiles, then surely with animals in general. And if with animals, then surely with plants as well. And if with animals and plants, then with all life.

In this passage Huxley expresses our religious belief. Special creation simply must be false and therefore evolution must be true. Given our metaphysical position, there is no choice. Evolution is a fact, regardless of the science.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

h/t: The man

This Just In: Universe About to Collapse

More at 11

If you thought global warming was bad consider this: evolutionists have now concluded that the risk of the universe collapsing is even greater than previously thought:

Sooner or later a radical shift in the forces of the universe will cause every little particle in it to become extremely heavy. Everything -- every grain of sand on Earth, every planet in the solar system and every galaxy -- will become millions of billions times heavier than it is now

Oh, and “this will have disastrous consequences.”

It may sound weird but, technically, it’s actually no different than when water turns to steam:

This violent process is called a phase transition and is very similar to what happens when, for example water turns to steam or a magnet heats up and loses its magnetization. The phase transition in the universe will happen if a bubble is created where the Higgs-field associated with the Higgs-particle reaches a different value than the rest of the universe.

In fact, not only is this total collapse more likely than evolutionists previously thought, it may have already begun:

"The phase transition will start somewhere in the universe and spread from there. Maybe the collapse has already started somewhere in the universe and right now it is eating its way into the rest of the universe. Maybe a collapsed is starting right now right here.

I hate it when that happens. Plus it will be another successful prediction for evolution. And if the collapse doesn’t happen, that too will be a successful prediction because, it turns out, the collapse may not happen after all:

Although the new calculations predict that a collapse is now more likely than ever before, it is actually also possible, that it will not happen at all. It is a prerequisite for the phase change that the universe consists of the elementary particles that we know today, including the Higgs particle. If the universe contains undiscovered particles, the whole basis for the prediction of phase change disappears. "Then the collapse will be canceled," says Jens Frederik Colding Krog.

They say more research is needed.

Here’s Another Study Showing Introns Are Not Random

Another Violation of Occam’s Razor

Evolution is, as evolutionists like to say, a fact. But that conclusion comes from philosophical and theological reasoning. From a strictly scientific perspective evolution is problematic. Virtually every area of scientific evidence challenges evolution. Consider for example the introns—segments of DNA within genes in the higher organisms. When introns were discovered evolutionists, in typical fashion, figured that introns were non functional, biological junk. They reasoned that introns had been randomly inserted into genomes for no particular reason, and now they appear throughout the higher organisms in the usual common descent pattern. Even if all that was true (which it isn’t) it wouldn’t help, for introns fundamentally contradict evolutionary theory.

When a gene is first transcribed, the entire gene is copied, including the introns. The introns are then removed by complicated and sophisticated splicing machinery that, among other things read splicing signals in the gene copy.

The problem is that if the first introns just happened to be randomly inserted into genes for no reason, then there would be no splicing machinery to remove them. This is not to say evolutionists cannot contrive explanations for introns, such as introns initially splicing themselves and the splicing machinery somehow evolving later. But such explanations are circuitous, just-so stories adding tremendous complexity and serendipity to the theory.

Beyond this basic problem, research has also been revealing that introns are not functionless, do not insert randomly in the genome, and do not fall into the common descent pattern. These last two findings were recently reinforced in a new study of a gene known as the eukaryotic translation elongation factor-1a gene. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the jargon. The gene codes for a protein that helps to deliver amino acids to the protein synthesis process.

But what’s important is that species usually have two copies of the gene, both copies have several introns, and even though some of the introns are in the same location in both genes, they must have been inserted independently.

In other words, this gene provides a test of some of the basic assumptions of evolution, and those assumptions fail. Specifically this example confirms, even assuming evolution on the whole is true, that introns are not likely inserted randomly but rather are inserted at a few specific locations. Therefore if introns are found at the same genome location in different species, it does not imply those introns come from a common ancestor. Instead they may be at the same location due to a common mechanism.

So introns are not junk, they are not inserted at random, and they do not reveal common descent any more than common mechanism. All this is on top of the fact that their very presence is problematic for evolution.

Introns are another example of how evolution violates Occam’s Razor. Entities are multiplied unnecessarily resulting in an extremely complicated, unparsimonious theory.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More Fossil Failures: New Mammalian Fossils “Change Everything”

Science Versus Dogma

Earlier this year two different mammalian fossils, discovered in China, have revealed yet more problems for evolution. The problem is that, as with the existing evidence, the new findings point to “radically different,” as one evolutionist admitted, models of the origin of mammals. One of the new fossil findings, as with most of the molecular data, points to a much earlier origin of mammals, going back more than 200 million years ago. The other new finding is closer to the traditional, fossil-based, dating, closer to 150 million years ago.

In other words, the data do not fit the theory. In order to reconcile the conflict, and fit the data to the theory, evolutionists have a wide range of explanatory mechanisms they can draw on. They can say that a trait descended from a common ancestor or that it evolved at some later date, in a particular lineage arising from the common ancestor. They also can say that a trait evolved more than once in multiple lineages arising from the common ancestor—the so-called homoplasies. These explanatory mechanisms alone make the theory highly flexible and allow evolutionists to explain just about any pattern.

The gratuitous use of such explanatory mechanisms makes for a circuitous theory. That is, the theory is augmented with various degrees-of-freedom allowing it to adapt to a wide range of data. As one evolutionist explained, mammalian phylogeny is “complex”—a euphemism that evolutionists use to explain empirical contradictions requiring additional epicycles.

But even this sacrifice of parsimony can’t fix all the contradictions. And so evolutionists must defer the problem to the future. As one evolutionist explained, “With sufficient data, ranging from molecular to morphological, we will eventually reach to a working hypothesis that will have the power to explain how mammals originated.”

But as we have seen many times, this repeated claim that more data will solve evolution’s problems has not fared well in the past. Perhaps this time will be different, but at the very least, what we do know for certain is that today, evolution lacks even a working hypothesis to explain how mammals originated. Nonetheless evolutionists are certain evolution is a fact.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hominin Fossils Yield Uncooperative DNA Data

“Now we have to rethink the whole story.”

Scientists continue to improve their amazing ability to recover microscopic DNA molecules from ancient fossils and this new source of old data is causing problems for evolution. The latest finding, published earlier this month, comes from hominin fossils found in caves in northern Spain. In recent decades fossils from a few dozen individuals have been found in these caves. According to evolution these fossils should have been ancestors of the Neanderthals but the recovered DNA have falsified this expectation. Instead the DNA is more closely related to the Denisovans, so named after the Siberian cave where their bones were discovered. This is not a minor problem and, once again, evolutionists struggle to reconcile their theory with the evidence as these quotes reveal:

“Right now, we’ve basically generated a big question mark.”

“Everybody had a hard time believing it at first.”

“Now we have to rethink the whole story.”

“It’s extremely hard to make sense of. We still are a bit lost here.”

As science writer Carl Zimmer put it, “The new finding is hard to reconcile with the picture of human evolution that has been emerging based on fossils and ancient DNA.” In other words, the data do not fit the theory.

Once again evolution must be patched up, and once again it takes on increasing levels of complexity to accommodate the uncooperative data.  As one evolutionist admitted, “The more we learn from the DNA extracted from these fossils, the more complicated the story becomes.”

In fact evolutionists are now considering several new stories. Perhaps the fossil species from the Spanish caves are not true Neanderthals, but belonged to the ancestors of both Denisovans and Neanderthals.

Or perhaps the newly discovered DNA was passed to both Neanderthals and Denisovans, but eventually disappeared from Neanderthals. On the other hand, perhaps the Spanish fossils belong to yet another branch of humans altogether—Homo erectus.

Scientific theories are supposed to be parsimonious. Geocentrism required dozens and dozens of epicycles, but with heliocentrism the data fell neatly into place according to the simple idea that the planets revolve about the Sun.

Evolution is far beyond geocentrism in its level of complexity. As new findings stream in evolutionary theory must be modified with so many of its own epicycles. Rather than explain the natural world, evolution is more often surprised by nature. Its predictions are routinely false and evolution appears to be more of an after-the-fact tautology than an insightful description of reality.

Monday, December 16, 2013

OOL and Science’s Blind Spot

Organic matter forms tar, biochemical bonds are unstable in water, pathways are entropically uphill, RNA enzymes tend to degrade

The problem with science is not that the naturalistic approach might occasionally be inadequate. The problem is that science would never know any better. Science’s blind spot is that it has no way of determining whether a phenomenon is naturalistic. You might think that scientific failures would provide a pretty good hint. If love defies logic then maybe there is something more to it. But for evolutionists failure merely indicates the problem is not yet solved. See the catch? Anything that defies explanation is automatically placed in the “Research Problem” category. So naturalism can never be false. It is untestable. Here is an example of this metaphysical mandate:

What God did is a matter for faith and not for scientific inquiry. The two fields are separate. If our scientific inquiry should lead eventually to God … that will be the time to stop science. [Maitland Edey and Donald Johanson, Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution, p. 291]

But how could their inquiries possibly lead to God if they make the assumption up front that “What God did is … not for scientific inquiry.”? If one is searching only for mechanistic solutions, then that is what one will find. God is ruled out from the beginning.

Evolution makes naturalistic explanations not simply the first choice, it makes them the only choice. And one can always contrive naturalistic explanations if one tries hard enough. The theory of evolution is an outstanding example of this. We are told that life must have arisen spontaneously, even though we don’t have any idea how it happened.

Consider, for example, the origin of life problem. Evolutionists say it is a fact that the most complex thing we know of—life—arose spontaneously. And yet from a scientific perspective this claim makes no sense. It is simply uncontroversial that science does not reveal the spontaneous origin of life to be a fact. Here is Steve Benner’s rundown of some of the basic problems:

We have failed in any continuous way to provide a recipe that gets from the simple molecules that we know were present on early Earth to RNA. There is a discontinuous model which has many pieces, many of which have experimental support, but we're up against these three or four paradoxes, which you and I have talked about in the past. The first paradox is the tendency of organic matter to devolve and to give tar. If you can avoid that, you can start to try to assemble things that are not tarry, but then you encounter the water problem, which is related to the fact that every interesting bond that you want to make is unstable, thermodynamically, with respect to water. If you can solve that problem, you have the problem of entropy, that any of the building blocks are going to be present in a low concentration; therefore, to assemble a large number of those building blocks, you get a gene-like RNA -- 100 nucleotides long -- that fights entropy. And the fourth problem is that even if you can solve the entropy problem, you have a paradox that RNA enzymes, which are may be catalytically active, are more likely to be active in the sense that destroys RNA rather than creates RNA.

Once again the science contradicts the dogma. Evolution is scientifically absurd but then again, it never was about the science in the first place. As Oxford professor and Anglican priest Baden Powell explained a century and a half ago, there are certain ground rules that science must obey:

So strong is the inductive assurance of this, that we may safely allow any such apparent exceptions to await their solution without in the least influencing our opinion of the soundness of the broad principle of the continuity of physical causes: a principle of that truly philosophical character which no exception in detail can subvert, or render, in some form, inapplicable or unfruitful. No inductive inquirer can bring himself to believe in the existence of any real hiatus in the continuity of physical laws in past eras more than in the existing order of things; or to imagine that changes, however seemingly abrupt, can have been brought about except by the gradual agency of some regular causes. On such principles the whole superstructure of rational geology entirely reposes; to deny them in any instance would be to endanger all science.


But however little we know of the laws or causes of these changes, one thing is perfectly clear, the introduction of new species was a regular, not a casual phenomenon; it was not one preceding or transcending the order of nature; it was a case occurring in the midst of ordinary operations going on in accordance with ordinary causes. The introduction of a new species (however marvellous and inexplicable some theorists may choose to imagine it) is not a solitary occurrence. It reappears constantly in the lapse of geological ages. It recurs regularly in connexion with those changes which determined the peculiar characters we now distinguish in different formations. It is part of a series. But a series indicates a principle of regularity and law, as much in organic as in inorganic changes. The event is part of a regularly ordained mechanism of the evolution of the existing world out of former conditions, and as much subject to regular laws as any changes now taking place.

In other words, not only does science lack the tools to test its assumption that all causes are strictly naturalistic, it consciously rejects any such possibility from the beginning. So it doesn’t matter how many scientific paradoxes and absurdities come with evolution, it must be a fact.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

The Public Has Been Paying For Evolution, But …

The Times They Are a-Changin’

After several decades of the quiet misallocation of public funds on evolution research, science writer Suzan Mazur finally explains to evolutionist Steve Benner that “The public has been paying for scientific research but has not had a say in how funds are directed,” and that “the times are asking for more transparency.” Indeed. It is curious that people who don’t believe in evolution are forced to support not only its research but its non scientific influence on everything from education to health care.