Friday, 31 October 2014

Ammonite Shell Shape Displays Signature of Its Maker


It looks designed. Image courtesy of Nobu Tamura, Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

There are basically only two ways of explaining why things (and even living creatures) are built like they are.

The prevailing explanation relies on Darwinian mechanisms and it often does not do a good job of doing what it is supposed to do.

The other explanation has been banned from academia but it explains the facts and details much better.

A recent illustration features ammonite shells. A statement from CNRS, the French National Centre for Scientific Research, issued a press release on research on ammonite shells. It describes ammotines as “a group of extinct cephalopod mollusks with ribbed spiral shells”.

The shape of living organisms evolves over time. The questions raised by this transformation have led to the emergence of theories of evolution. To understand how biological shapes change over a geological time scale, researchers have recently begun to investigate how they are generated during an individual's development and growth: this is known as morphogenesis. Due to the exceptional diversity of their shell shapes and patterns (particularly the ribs), ammonites have been widely studied from the point of view of evolution but the mechanisms underlying the coiled spirals were unknown until now. Researchers therefore attempted to elucidate the evolution of these shapes without knowing how they had emerged.”

They attempted to address this problem. What they failed to see, however, is the inherent beauty and harmony seen in the Fibonacci sequence that the shell makes use of.

There is no credible Darwinian explanation for the beauty seen everywhere in the universe, from tiny seeds, shells, the petals of a flower and compound eyes to the arms of spiral galaxies.


Source:

Physics determined ammonite shell shape National Press Release I 9 October 2014.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Rapid Evolution of Tiny Lizard Is No Darwinian Evolution At All

Image courtesy of Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).




Joel Kontinen

As used by some of its supporters, evolution is a tricky word in that its meaning seems to evolve (i.e. change) in a single story.

A recent illustration is an article published in the journal Science. Its title gives away the sense it is used: Rapid evolution of a native species following invasion by a congener.

The article features Anolis carolinensis, a lizard that moved higher up in a tree to evade predators. According to Science,

“In recent years, biologists have increasingly recognized that evolutionary change can occur rapidly when natural selection is strong; thus, real-time studies of evolution can be used to test classic evolutionary hypotheses directly. One such hypothesis is that negative interactions between closely related species can drive phenotypic divergence. Such divergence is thought to be ubiquitous, though well-documented cases are surprisingly rare. On small islands in Florida, we found that the lizard Anolis carolinensis moved to higher perches following invasion by Anolis sagrei and, in response, adaptively evolved larger toepads after only 20 generations. These results illustrate that interspecific interactions between closely related species can drive evolutionary change on observable time scales.”

While this is change, it is not the kind of change that gave rise to lizards. Anolis carolinensis might be living higher up in a tree, it might have slightly bigger toepads but it has not evolved – and is not evolving – into something else.

What this Darwinian story lacks is a plausible explanation of the origin of Anolis carolinensis.

Source:

Stuart, Y. E. et al. 2014. Rapid evolution of a native species following invasion by a congener. Science 346 (6208):463–466 (24 October).


Monday, 27 October 2014

Peter Singer Wants to Define Chimpanzees as People


Persons or animals? Image courtesy of Delphine Bruyere, Wikipedia.


Joel Kontinen


Peter Singer, Professor of bioethics at Princeton University, wants to do away with the distinction between humans and chimpanzees. In attempting to make his case, he takes up the story of a 26-year old chimp “being held in solitary confinement in a wire cage.”

Tommy, as the chimp is called, “has never been convicted of any crime or even accused of one” but is nevertheless being kept behind bars.

Professor Singer wants to change the destiny of not only Tommy but of every other chimpanzee as well. He wants to re-define them as persons:

“It is time for the courts to recognize that the way we treat chimpanzees is indefensible. They are persons and we should end their wrongful imprisonment.”

He argues that chimps “have close and complex personal relationships with others in their group. They grieve for lost loved ones. They are self-aware beings, capable of thought. Their foresight and anticipation enable them to plan ahead. We can even recognize the rudiments of ethics in the way they respond to other apes who fail to return a favor.”

This is not the first time that animal rights activists have tried to treat animals as persons:

· In January 2008 a chimpanzee named Matthew Hiasl Pan made headlines throughout the world as activists attempted to get the Austrian High Court to grant it the status of a person. The court refused to do so, however.

· In June 2008 the environmental committee of the Spanish parliament approved a resolution that called for the right to life and freedom for great apes.

· In early 2010, Thomas White, a professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, has caused a stir by suggesting that dolphins should be treated as ”non-human persons".

The common denominator in these cases is a naturalistic /materialistic worldview that does not tolerate the view that humans are special. Rejecting Genesis, creation and the image of God, it attempts to elevate apes to personhood status – and make men into monkeys.


Source:

Singer, Peter. 2014. Chimpanzees are people, too. New York Daily News. (October 21).


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Taming Ourselves: Fact-Free Darwinian Storytelling


Image courtesy of Delphine Bruyere, Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

In a typically Darwinian way, gaps are filled with stories that are based on assumptions.

And the assumptions are based on a naturalistic /materialistic worldview.

The journal Science illustrated this recently by publishing an article on how we tamed ourselves. This would assume that humans were originally untamed, wild or savage:

Call a man ‘tame’ or ‘domesticated’ and he's not likely to take it as a compliment. But all of us, male and female, may have to get used to it: At a high-level meeting earlier this month, scientists argued that ‘self-domestication’ was a key process in the evolution of our species.".”

How would they know this?

“They noted that with our reduced jaws, flat faces, and lower male aggression, humans are to chimps as dogs are to wolves, showing many of the physical traits that emerge during animal domestication.”

As apes are wild, our assumed ape-like ancestors would also be untamed. The problem is that there is no objective way of investigating this. They will not allow a Divine Foot in the door, so the only game in town is to resort to naturalistic speculations even though they might be anything but convincing.

And once the ball gets rolling, there’s no stopping. The result is an avalanche of speculations:

“The accompanying changes in behavior, especially among men, might have helped humans evolve more complex language, live atop each other in cities, and work together to create sophisticated cultures. No one set out to domesticate humans, of course. But at the first-ever symposium on self-domestication of humans, held at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, researchers outlined a set of linked behavioral and anatomical changes seen both in animals that humans have tamed and in creatures that have tamed themselves, such as bonobos.”

Language and culture require intelligence, a mind. The Tower of Babel account in the book of Genesis explains human languages much better than the Darwinian version of the origin and development of language.

Source:

Gibbons, Ann. 2014. How we tamed ourselves—and became modern. Science 346 (6208): 405–406 (24 October).


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Evolution’s Icon Taung Child Falls As a Human Ancestor, CT Scans Suggest

The cast of the Australopithecus africanus specimen known as the Taung Child. Image courtesy of Didier Descouens, Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).




Joel Kontinen

Discovered 90 years ago and made famous by Raymond Dart, the Taung Child became an icon of assumed human evolution. Also known by its scientific name Australopithecus africanus, for many decades it was the missing link – especially after the Piltdown Man disaster.

Taung Child was touted as “the first and best example of early hominin brain evolution”.

Now, however, research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) throws a dark shadow on this view. According to Science Daily:

“By subjecting the skull of the famous Taung Child to the latest CT scan technology, researchers are now casting doubt on theories that Australopithecus africanus shows the same cranial adaptations found in modern human infants and toddlers.”

The article goes on to say:

Researchers are now casting doubt on theories that Australopithecus africanus shows the same cranial adaptations [i.e. unfused frontal bone] found in modern human infants and toddlers -- in effect disproving current support for the idea that this early hominin shows infant brain development in the prefrontal region similar to that of modern humans.”

In other words, it seems that A. africanus was just another extinct ape. This is no surprise. After all, ape men only belong to the Darwinian world and not to the real one.

Assumed human evolution has seen the rise and fall of several skulls once thought to be our ancestors, such as Ardipithecus ramidus (Ardi) and Toumai or Sahelanthropus tchadensis and Paranthropus boisei a.k.a. Nutcracker Man, for instance.

What is more, there seems to be a never-ending debate on the status of the Hobbit or Flores Man.

Source:


Taung Child's brain development not human-like? CT scan casts doubt on similarity to that of modern humans. Science Daily. (August 25, 2014).



Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Noah’s Ark Is Not Going Down, Despite Skeptics’ Speculations


Image courtesy of Dan Lietha, Answers in Genesis. (Click on the image for a better view).




Joel Kontinen

As the Apostle John wrote, darkness does not tolerate light. Skeptical bloggers who are trying to discredit the Ark Encounter project in Kentucky have provided ample illustrations of this principle.

The amount of rumours and falsehoods they have come up with is staggering. They used similar tactics prior to the opening of the Creation Museum that despite the claims of skeptics has continued to attract more visitors than expected.

A favourite ploy of some secularists is that The Ark Encounter, scheduled to be opened in 2016, will be build using taxpayers’ money. This is not true at all. While Answers in Genesis will get sales tax refunds – like all other businesses in Kentucky, this will hardly match the skeptics’ claim.

They have got it all wrong. Noah's original Ark did not go down, and neither will its Kentucky version.

Source:

Ham, Ken. 2014. Down Down, or Up Up? Answers in Genesis. (September 29).



Sunday, 19 October 2014

Storytelling Cannot Solve Darwin's Problem, i.e. The Sudden Origin of Language


Our linguistic skills cannot be explained by Darwinian mechanisms.




Joel Kontinen

Since the time of Darwin, the (naturalistic) origin of language has troubled evolutionists. A recent article in PLoS Biology attempts to tackle this problem.

The authors acknowledge that it is indeed an enigma:

“The evolution of the faculty of language largely remains an enigma. In this essay, we ask why. Language's evolutionary analysis is complicated because it has no equivalent in any nonhuman species. There is also no consensus regarding the essential nature of the language ‘phenotype.’ According to the ‘Strong Minimalist Thesis,’ the key distinguishing feature of language (and what evolutionary theory must explain) is hierarchical syntactic structure. The faculty of language is likely to have emerged quite recently in evolutionary terms, some 70,000–100,000 years ago, and does not seem to have undergone modification since then, though individual languages do of course change over time, operating within this basic framework.”

Johan Bolhuis and his colleagues go on to say:

Within a remarkably short space of time, art was invented, cities were born, and people had reached the moon. By this reckoning, the language faculty is an extremely recent acquisition in our lineage, and it was acquired not in the context of slow, gradual modification of preexisting systems under natural selection but in a single, rapid, emergent event that built upon those prior systems but was not predicted by them.... For reasons like these, the relatively sudden origin of language poses difficulties that may be called ‘Darwin's problem.’ ”

Except for the part on reaching the moon, this looks a bit like a description from the early chapters of Genesis that depict humans as being intelligent and innovative from the very beginning.

It was Charles Darwin himself who initially put to words the horrid doubt that the authors refer to. Writing to William Graham on 3rd July 1881, he stated:

But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

While they attempt to address this problem they actually manage make things worse for Darwinism:

Evolution by natural selection is not a causal factor of either cognitive or neural mechanisms. Natural selection can be seen as one causal factor for the historical process of evolutionary change, but that is merely stating the essence of the theory of evolution.”

It seems that evolution is an inadequate explanation for the emergence of language:

"In addition, evolutionary analysis of language is often plagued by popular, naïve, or antiquated conceptions of how evolution proceeds."

Language is an immaterial phenomenon. It cannot be explained by storytelling.

It takes intelligence (and a mind) to invent something as sophisticated as language.

Sources:

Bolhuis, Johan J. 2014. Ian Tattersall, Noam Chomsky, Robert C. Berwick. 2014. How Could Language Have Evolved? PLoS Biology 12(8): e1001934. (26 August).

Darwin correspondence project.