Saturday, 28 March 2015

Mudskippers: The Superfast Evolution of a Darwinian Just So Story


Mudskippers are featured in a fresh evolution story. Image courtesy of H. Krisp, Wikipedia.



Joel Kontinen

Evolution stories tend to evolve. At times, the evolution is extra fast, as in the recent case of mudskippers, as reported in Nature.

The latest version states:

Mudskipper fish (Periophthalmus barbarus) use water bubbles as a 'tongue' to feed on land. The finding hints at how other animals might have evolved tongues as they made the transition from aquatic to terrestrial life.

Krijn Michel at the University of Antwerp in Belgium and his colleagues used high-speed video and X-ray imaging to study the feeding behaviour of various animals. They found that when the mudskipper eats on land, a bubble of water held in its mouth protrudes out and touches food before its jaws close.


Last week, a Nature news article also explained the feeding habits of mudskippers and suggested:

Amphibious fish that feed on land use water held in their mouths to help them grab and manipulate their prey. The unusual feeding behaviour of mudskippers (Periophthalmus barbarus) could shed light on the evolution of sea-dwelling animals into terrestrial ones.

Thus, in just one short week, “could shed light on the evolution” becomes “might have evolved tongues.”

While mudskippers eat on land, their feeding behaviour does not lend support to the Darwinian frog-to-prince hypothesis.

It might be advisable to remember what Mark Twain said:

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”


Sources:

Cressey, Daniel. 2015. Fish uses 'water tongue' to grab prey on land. Nature news (18 March).

Fish slurps up prey with watery 'tongue'. Nature 519, 392 (26 March 2015).



Thursday, 26 March 2015

Explaining Away the Unique Earth by Invoking a Roving Jupiter

A new study speculates that Jupiter might have played a major role in the early solar system. Image courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.



Joel Kontinen

Astronomers used to assume that our solar system was by no means special. However, with the discovery of countless exosolar systems, they have to acknowledge that ours is no humdrum system.

There’s no place like home.

For those who rely on solely naturalistic explanations, the uniqueness of the solar system has to be explained away. A recent paper in PNAS attempts to do this:

The Solar System is an unusual member of the galactic planetary census in that it lacks planets that reside in close proximity to the Sun. In this work, we propose that the primordial nebula-driven process responsible for retention of Jupiter and Saturn at large orbital radii and sculpting Mars’ low mass is also responsible for clearing out the Solar System’s innermost region. Cumulatively, our results place the Solar System and the mechanisms that shaped its unique orbital architecture into a broader, extrasolar context.”

In their paper, Konstantin Batygin at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and Greg Laughlin at the University of California, Santa Cruz, propose that Jupiter first wandered near the Sun, driving away the assumed big gaseous planets and thus making room for the inner planets.

It was then rescued by Saturn from drifting away into space.

This sounds more like storytelling than science. There is not the slightest bit of evidence that Jupiter ever came that close to the Sun or that hot gas planets existed in “the Solar System’s innermost region”.

It seems that the main purpose of this paper is to show that Earth and our solar system are not special.

The evidence points to a very different conclusion, however, as Privileged Species, a newly released video from Discovery Institute featuring biologist Michael Denton, shows:





Source:

Batygin, Konstantin & Greg Laughlin. 2015. Jupiter’s decisive role in the inner Solar System’s early evolution. PNAS (March 23).

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Beauty in Tiny Peacock Spiders Speaks of Creation


A male Maratus volans peacock spider. Image courtesy of Jürgen Otto, Flickr.



Joel Kontinen

He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time,” the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes (3:11, ESV) tells us. Many flowers dazzle with their beauty, and when it comes to the animal kingdom, this is certainly also true.

We would probably first think of peacocks and parrots, or perhaps even of penguins.

Or maybe tropical fish or dragonflies. Moreover, even ammonite shells and mantis shrimps and – yes – spiders can sport amazing beauty, especially the peacock spiders of Australia.

It would be difficult to explain why blind and mindless Darwinian processes would produce such beauty. Darwin’s theory of sexual selection does not work, and there are few plausible naturalistic explanations.

But seen from a Biblical perspective, beauty is something we would expect to see, given that the Lord God is the ultimate source of beauty.


Source:

Hooper, Rowan. 2015. Wizards of Oz: World's cutest and most awesome spiders. New Scientist (24 March).



Sunday, 22 March 2015

Water Vapour on Dwarf Planet Ceres Challenges Belief in Billions of Years

A bright spot on Ceres might challenge the assumed age of the solar system. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA).



Joel Kontinen

It takes strong faith to believe in the preservation of liquid water and even of ice for billions of years. At times, it requires creative explanations that are certainly not backed up by the facts.

But there’s little else that the advocates of naturalistic /materialistic processes can invoke.

In recent years, we have seen a remarkable increase of facts that speak for a biblical age (i.e. thousands instead of billions of years) of the solar system. (You can see details here, here, here, here, here and here.)

Now, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft may have discovered water vapour spewing from Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. In any case, analyses show that the dwarf planet is far from being dead.

Source:

Hand, Eric. 2015.Scientists may have solved mystery of dwarf planet’s enigmatic bright spot. Science (17 March).


Friday, 20 March 2015

Origin of Life Dilemma Solved?


Sparks of life from space? Image courtesy of Navicore, Wikipedia.



Joel Kontinen

Every now and then researchers claim that they may have solved a huge dilemma: the naturalistic origin of life.

Theories have come and gone. None of them have withstood scrutiny. A recent article in Science acknowledges:

The origin of life on Earth is a set of paradoxes. In order for life to have gotten started, there must have been a genetic molecule—something like DNA or RNA—capable of passing along blueprints for making proteins, the workhorse molecules of life. But modern cells can’t copy DNA and RNA without the help of proteins themselves. To make matters more vexing, none of these molecules can do their jobs without fatty lipids, which provide the membranes that cells need to hold their contents inside. And in yet another chicken-and-egg complication, protein-based enzymes (encoded by genetic molecules) are needed to synthesize lipids.”

In other words, life is just too complicated to have come about by purely naturalistic means.

However, researchers want to bypass this by speculating a gradual increase in complexity.

The latest suggestion features hydrogen cyanide (HCN), hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and ultraviolet light. John Sutherland at the University of Cambridge and his colleagues assume that there was enough H2S on the early earth. Together with HCN from comets or asteroids and UV light it could have produced some kind of precursor for life.

Once again, there are too many ifs and buts. As life only comes from life and design only from intelligence, even the latest try at getting life from non-life is doomed to fail.

Just like many other hypotheses before it.

The most logical solution is to throw naturalistic /materialistic explanations away. “In the beginning God created…” is still by far the most plausible model.

Source:

Service, Robert F. 2015. Researchers may have solved origin-of-life conundrum. Science (16 March).


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Iraqi Christians and ISIS: Forgiveness Overcomes Hatred

Image courtesy of SAT-7.




Joel Kontinen

Forgiving one’s enemies is not an easy thing to do, especially if they are trying to kill you. However, some Iraqi Christians have done exactly that.

Last July, hundreds of thousands of Christians had to flee from Mosul, leaving their homes and possession behind. Some of them found a safe haven in Irbil in Kurdistan.

One of the refugees is Myriam, who is ten years old. Interviewed on SAT-7, a Christian TV broadcaster, she says of the men who hate her and would want to kill not only her but also her friends and her family: “I will only ask God to forgive them.”

Over a million people have already heard her testimony.

Christianity is much more than a religion. It is a living relationship with the One who prayed for those who crucified Him:

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NIV).



Source:

Casper, Jayson. 2015. Forgiving ISIS: Christian ‘Resistance’ Videos Go Viral in Arab World. Christianity Today (17 March).


Monday, 16 March 2015

Mutation Control in Cells Hampers Darwinian Evolution

They’re probably not so marvellous.




Joel Kontinen

They used to be touted as marvellous mistakes and the raw material for evolution but now mutations are increasingly loosing their ability to aid Darwinian evolution.

A recent paper published in the journal Mutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis suggests that cells have a defence mechanism that prevents genetic mutations from being expressed.

An Elsevier news release provides some details of the study:

The method the authors used to make this discovery is termed Single-Cell Transcriptogenomics (SCTG). It allows DNA and RNA sequencing to be performed concurrently on the same single cells taken from a cell population treated with the powerful mutagen ethylnitrosourea. This method allowed the authors, for the first time, to prove the tendency of the transcriptional machinery in the cell to avoid transcribing DNA strands harboring a newly induced mutation. This is likely to be a novel cellular defense mechanism to prevent genetic mutations from being expressed.”

For the committed Darwinist, this does not sound like good news. If cells are fighting against mutations, how could all the hundreds and thousands of mutations that evolution sorely needs ever have occurred?

It might be best to see this error control as a kind of spell check system, only much more effective than the one in use in word processing programmes.

This amazing feature suggests that it is the brainchild of creative intelligence, and not of blind Darwinian mechanisms.

Source:

Going Beyond the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology: Rather than Being a One-Way Street, DNA-Directed RNA Transcription May Have Profound Adaptability. Elsevier news release 11 March 2015.