Sunday, 14 February 2016

Beauty in Nature Challenges Darwinian Evolution



Smolniy Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. Image courtesy of George Shuklin, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 1.0).



Joel Kontinen

The world around us – or even within us – does not look like it’s the product of Darwinian evolution in which all traits should basically serve the survival of organisms.

What we often see is beauty, redundancy and over-design that does not seem to have any survival value.

One might compare nature with the Baroque, a 17th century artistic style known for its exuberance and grandeur. This is the theme of a new video, The Biology of the Baroque, produced by Discovery Institute, featuring prominent biologist Michael Denton, known for the book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (1985).

Dr Denton has recently written a new book, Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis. The video summarises the gist of his thesis:

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Evidence of Noah’s Flood: Imposing Natural Archway in Sahara Defies Millions of Years

Aloba Arch, Ennedi, Chad. Image courtesy of AmIdRe, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).




Joel Kontinen

Can an enormous natural archway really withstand wind and other kinds of erosion for 65 – 2.5 million years?

That is what we are told.

But the obvious answer is that it cannot. Just remember what happened to some of the 12 Apostles in Australia: They went the way of London Bridge in the children’s song, tumbling down into the ocean.

New Scientist published a series of photographs taken by Stefan Kröpelin (University of Cologne) and his colleagues during their recent trip to the Sahara. The pictures suggest a more watery past for the now arid region.

Some geological formations, such as the Aloba Arch in Chad, look like they were formed by Noah’s Flood some 4,500 years ago.

Here are some other possible Flood monuments:

· Three Sisters near Sydney, Australia
· Heavitree Gap near Alice Springs, Australia
· Megatsunami and giant boulders in Cape Verde
· A Fossilised tropical forest in Norway
· Huge aquifers in Northern Kenya
· Dinosaur graveyards almost everywhere
· The Mother and Child Rock in Zimbabwe

PS. Here’s a picture of a natural bridge assumed to be 500 million years old. The article is in Finnish, but the image will give you a good idea of this dilemma for believers in millions of years.


Source:

Ceurstemont, Sandrine. 2016. Secret Sahara reveals fairytale formations and ancient lakes. New Scientist (12 February).

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Darwin Day Is Coming: And Richard Dawkins Would Call Evolution Fact



The BBC reminds listeners (and readers) that Darwin Day is just around the corner.


Joel Kontinen

Richard Dawkins has recently made more headlines by tweeting and re-tweeting questionable content than by anything even remotely resembling science. However, on the eve of Darwin Day (due to arrive on the 12th), he was featured in a BBC article that discusses whether evolution is merely a theory.

The article tried to explain what scientists mean when they say something is a theory.

By invoking Darwin, we get the impression that by evolution the BBC is referring to the Darwinian microbes to man story. Dawkins was quick to point out that by having to define what they mean by theory, scientists were already losing the battle, so he prefers to use the word fact instead.

“The evidence for evolution is so strong that to withhold assent [i.e. to not call it fact] would be perverse," he says.

There are several problems here. First, evolutionists tend to see minuscule changes, say in the shape of a bird’s peak or a moth’s colour, and then extrapolate these by many orders of magnitude.

But natural selection is not evolution. While it might explain the survival of the fittest, it cannot account for the arrival of the fittest.

Genetic information does not just happen. Neither does it increase through Darwinian mechanisms. In contrast, it tends to decrease with mutations.

Losing a trait can hardly be called progress.

Second, it would be preposterous to call anything perverse in a purely Darwinian world that does not accept a moral Lawgiver.

Dawkins seems to be bluffing.

Source:

BBC. 2016. The Vocabularist: When is a theory 'just a theory'? (9 February).




Closed Minds, Closed Doors: Censorship in the Church


Some doors remain closed.




Joel Kontinen

Soon it will be Darwin Day (12 February). It is also known as Academic Freedom Day, but Darwinians tend to shy away from such things, as they prefer to silence all other views except their own.

Discovery Institute grants the Censor of the Year (COTY) award on individuals or organisations, recognising their “outstanding efforts in silencing debate about Darwinian evolution and alternative theories of life's origins.

This year’s award goes to the Commission on the General Conference of the United Methodist Church. While their motto is Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors, they refused to accept a book table sponsored by Discovery Institute for their General Conference.

Showing their preference for theistic evolution, they were unwilling to let people hear about intelligent design.

In 2015 the COTY award went to Neil deGrasse Tyson, and in 2014 to Jerry Coyne.

It is a big mystery why some churches think that evolution is the way God chose to create living beings. Jesus, the apostle Paul and even John Wesley would certainly have disagreed with them.


Source:

Klinghoffer, David. 2016, Closed Minds, Closed Doors: United Methodist Church Commission Is Censor of the Year. Evolution News and Views (9 February).


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Venus Flytrap Knows How to Count – And It’s Not the Only Plant That Knows Arithmetic



Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). Image courtesy of Noah Elhardt, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5).




Joel Kontinen


Some plants living in very poor soil eat bugs. However, catching them requires a lot of effort and energy. To avoid false alarms – and wasting energy – the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) counts how many times a potential meal touches it.

Research published in the journal Current Biology shows that the hair-like sensors on the Dionaea muscipula’s trap had to be touched twice before the trap shut. Keeping an insect captive and digesting it required the plant to count to five.

This sounds less like Darwinism and a lot more like intelligent design. It seems that this is a strategy given to some plants to cope in a post-Fall world where struggles are often the norm.

The Venus Flytrap is not the only plant that knows how to count. In 2013, eLife published a paper entitled Arabidopsis plants perform arithmetic division to prevent starvation at night. Obviously, dividing is more complicated than merely counting to five.

Plants are amazingly smart. Their very elegant design shows that they’re not accidents.

And there’s no lack of beauty in them, either.

Source:

Brouillette, Monique. 2016. Video: Venus flytrap counts to avoid being tricked. Science (21 January).


Sunday, 7 February 2016

New Nail in the Junk DNA Coffin: “Junk” Prevents Breast Cancer


Even in “simple” organisms, non-coding RNA is anything but simple. Image courtesy of David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

Richard Dawkins and some other ardent evolutionists have used junk DNA as an argument for undirected evolution. They have called it the ultimate parasite and vestigial and some still dislike the idea that it could actually have a function.

However, in 2010, the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project disclosed that most of what was thought to be junk or useless leftovers from Darwinian evolution actually had beneficial consequences for us. In other words, junk DNA or, as it usually defined, “the strand of DNA that does not carry the information necessary to make proteins,” is anything but junk.

We keep on getting to know of more ways of how this assumed evolutionary junk is actually very necessary for us and for other living creatures as well.

The latest instalment comes from cancer research. A study conducted in the Universities of Bath and Cambridge, UK, found that this assumed junk “plays a role in suppressing cancer.”

A press released issued by the University of Bath states:

In recent years it has become apparent that a lot of this non-coding DNA is actually transcribed into non-coding RNA…

Now a team of scientists from Bath, Cambridge and the USA has identified a piece of non-coding RNA – transcribed from a stretch of DNA that doesn’t code for a protein – that stops cells turning cancerous.

The researchers hope their discovery, published in Nature Communications, will help develop new treatments for cancer
.”

Cancer can be caused by switches that determine which cells should replicate and which should die off. Sometimes the switch gets stuck in the on position, leading to a spread of cancer.

Dr Lovorka Stojic, who works at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, discovered that a strand of non-coding RNA known as GNG12-AS1 “prevents the growth switch getting stuck and suppresses metastasis. The specific genomic region where this non-coding RNA is located often gets damaged in breast cancer patients – this control is removed and the cancer cells spread.”

The role of non-coding RNA is more complicated than this. To keep cells healthy, it employs two mechanisms: 1) “regulating the levels of DIRAS3, one of its neighbouring genes that is involved in cell replication” and 2) “suppressing a network of genes that prepare cells to change their shape and prepare for metastasis.”

To sum up: non-coding RNA does not sound at all like junk. It prevents cancer from spreading.

It appears to be a very intelligent solution.

Source:

University of Bath. 2016. 'Junk' DNA plays role in preventing breast cancer. (February).




Friday, 5 February 2016

Where's the Evolution? “120 Million Year Old” Lacewings Were “Surprisingly Similar” to Modern Butterflies



They look a lot like the ones we see today. Images courtesy of Qiang Yang, Yongjie Wang, Conrad C Labandeira, Chungkun Shih and Dong Ren, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).




Joel Kontinen

There is very little new under the sun. We tend to get reminders of the stasis or lack of evolution in the animal kingdom almost weekly. The latest instalment features extremely well preserved fossilised dino-era lacewings that resemble modern butterflies though they are assumed to be at least “50 million years” older.

An article posted on Phys.org highlights the similarities:

Large butterfly-like insects known as Kalligrammatid lacewings, which fluttered through Eurasian fern- and cycad-filled woodland during the Mesozoic Era, have been extinct for more than 120 million years. But with new fossil analyses, scientists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History have discovered that these ancient lacewings were surprisingly similar to modern butterflies, which did not appear on Earth for another 50 million years.”

The choice of some expressions like “strikingly similar” and “closely resemble” is particularly telling, as it calls evolutionary change into question:

“Through taxonomic, anatomical and geochemical studies, scientists led by Smithsonian paleoecologist Conrad Labandeira revealed that Kalligrammatid lacewings likely served as important pollinators during mid-Mesozoic times, using mouthparts that were strikingly similar to the elongated, tubular structures that modern butterflies have to sip nectar-like fluids from flowering plants. What's more, their wings bore eyespot patterns that closely resemble those found on some butterflies today, which may have helped to distract or deter potential predators.”

It is anything but easy to make a fossil, as very special circumstances are needed, such as a global flood with accompanying volcanism. And preserving tiny details for “120 million years” almost defies logic.

Evolutionists often try to invoke convergent evolution as an explanation of why distinct animals would have the same physical traits. In effect, it suggests that evolution does not work.

However, this obviously does not keep them from concocting evolutionary stories regardless of how unconvincing they might sound.

Source:

Phys.org. 2016. Scientists discover butterfly-like fossil insect in the deep Mesozoic (3 February).