Thursday, 31 December 2009

Super-intelligent molecules or old speculations of the origin of life?



Michelangelo: The Creation of Adam. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. In the Darwinian scenario, there is no need of the Creator since super-intelligent molecules are assumed to be capable of creating life.



Joel Kontinen

Four billion years ago, a number of molecules organised themselves in water, the true cradle of life. Here they formed chemical groups capable of generating true copies of themselves (self-reproduction). As a result of minor errors of assembly, more effective groups appeared and became dominant species (evolution).”

This is how Andre Brack, who is a biophysicist, outlines the origin of life in Unesco’s newsletter A World of Science. The scenario is neither credible nor possible but it is nonetheless a typical example of Darwinian storytelling.

Charles Darwin assumed that life began in a warm little pond. Brack repeats an old tradition that fails to take into account the complexity of the cell.

By using the ”just add water” strategy one might be able to make chicken noodle soup, provided one has all the necessary ingredients but producing a living cell is a much more complicated achievement. Brack’s super-intelligent molecules would easily become honorary members of Mensa.

Michael Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University, has a much more realistic view of the cell as Brack: The cell is full of molecular machines and it could not have come about by Darwinian mechanisms.





Source:

Brack, Andre. 2009. Are we alone? A World of Science 7 (1), 4.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Rejecting Christianity leads to an irrational worldview



James W. Sire, an associate professor of English, discusses worldviews in The Universe Next Door, a textbook used in over a hundred universities and collages. Over 250, 000 copies have been sold.



Joel Kontinen

Rejecting Christianity leads to an irrational worldview. This is the basic message in James W. Sire’s book The Universe Next Door: A Basic World View Catalogue. Sire, an associate professor of English, defines worldview as ”a set of presuppositions (or assumptions) which we hold (consciously or unconsciously) about the basic makeup of our world.”

According to Sire, naturalism, so popular with atheists, is anything but rational: “If Darwin’s naturalism is true, there is no way of even establishing its credibility, let alone proving it.” (p. 84).

Atheism does not lead to rational thinking but to nihilism that leads to meaninglessness. Not all naturalists are nihilists, however, because they are inconsistent. In other words, they do not believe in their own worldview. If they were to believe it, in a meaningless universe suicide would be as acceptable a decision as watching a film produced by Walt Disney (pp. 93-94).

Sire also criticises biblical interpretation based on ”theistic” existentialism. Theologians following in the footsteps of Rudolf Bultmann do not want to hear about new discoveries that support the historical reliability of the Old Testament (pp. 124-125).

Few academic textbooks are as easy to read as The Universe Next Door. A well-documented book, its 1976 edition includes an index and almost 20 pages of endnotes.

Source:

Sire, James W. 1976. The Universe Next Door: A Basic World View Catalogue. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Old speculations re-emerge: The Black Sea Flood as the inspiration behind the description of the Noachian Flood?



Noah’s ark was considerably larger than this model built by Spanish artisans in Gran Canaria. You can see an image of what the ark probably looked like here.



Joel Kontinen

Recently, Ulrike Guérin and Katrin Köller brought up the local Black Sea flood as a potential explanation for the Noachian flood in an article on underwater treasures in UNESCO’s newsletter A World of Science.

According to Guérin and Köller, 7,500 years ago the surface of the Black Sea was a hundred metres lower than that of the Bosphorus. As the climate became warmer, glaciers melted, raising the sea level of the Mediterranean until its waters broke the natural dam at the Bosphorus and water rushed through.

They conclude this from the traces of a submerged coastline lying 17 metres below the surface of the Black Sea.

The hypothesis that Guérin and Köller propose is not new. Roughly ten years ago, National Geographic sponsored research that aimed at establishing the connection between the post-ice age Black Sea flood and the cataclysm of Noah’s day. The expedition was led by Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic.

Dr. Tas Walker assessed these speculations in 2000. He showed that no details of the local flood scenario corresponded with what we know of the global cataclysm of Noah’s time.

The flood of Noah’s day
was an unique global flood that destroyed all people and land animals outside the ark.

The Black Sea flood was a local catastrophe that occurred at the close of the ice age. Scientists who have dated the marks it left behind have failed to take into account the effect of the global flood that would have changed the 14C/12C relationship of the atmosphere as great amounts of vegetation remained submerged. Consequently, the carbon-14 dates for this and other catastrophes are too old.

Sources:

Guérin, Ulrike and Katrin Köller. 2009. Of Shipwrecks, lost worlds and grave robbers. A World of Science 7 (2): 19-23,

Walker, Tas. 2000. The Black Sea flood Definitely not the Flood of Noah. Journal of Creation 14 (1): 40-44. http://creation.com/the-black-sea-flood

Thursday, 24 December 2009

The Real Meaning of Christmas

God gave us first Christmas present.



Joel Kontinen


Although we might not know what month Jesus was born in Bethlehem, we celebrate Christmas because the Creator of the entire universe ” made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil. 2:7).

In addition to Creation and Redemption, the event that marked the beginning of Christ's earthly life, i.e. Christmas, is also an essential part of historical Christianity.

We cannot understand the good news of the New Testament without the tragedy of the third chapter of Genesis that introduced sin and death into the world.

God created a perfect world but man was reluctant to take his Creator at His word and wanted to follow his own path. By breaking God’s explicit commandment, Adam and Eve brought chaos to the world.

However, God did not desert man but promised to send the Saviour who would pay the penalty for mankind’s sin. Thus, some 2000 years ago, Luke wrote the following comforting words: "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”


Have a blessed Christmas!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Echoes of Noah's Days: New Evidence for a Mega-flood and a Super River



Science publications have recently written about cataclysms such as a mega-flood. Image of a miniature Noah’s ark at the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum.




Joel Kontinen

A mega-flood filled the present Mediterranean Sea in a few months. At the height of the flood, the sea level arose by over ten metres a day.

This text is not from the book of Genesis but from a recent article in New Scientist. Its author Kate Ravilious even mentioned Noah and said it was a ”flood of biblical proportions”. She was reporting on research published in Nature that dates the mega-food at over 5 million years before our time.

Daniel Garcia-Castellanos and colleagues came up with the flood hypothesis after interpreting data from boreholes and seismic activity. They assume that at one time the Mediterranean Sea almost dried up due to evaporation and then it was quickly re-filled by the waters of the Atlantic.

Recently, Phil Gibbard, a professor of geography at Cambridge University, and colleagues published research in Quaternary Science Reviews of a ”super river” that they suggest separated the British isles from continental Europe.

They came to this conclusion after studying sedimentary deposits in the Bay of Biscay. The researchers associated this cataclysm with the ice age. They assume that the river existed in three different periods between 30,000 and 450, 000 years ago.

Interestingly, two research teams have harboured the idea that lots of water can bring about dramatic changes. Their view is not new. Written 3,500 years ago, the book of Genesis already describes a year-long global flood that destroyed the entire primeval world except for those on board the ark.

What the researchers still would need is a more global perspective, however, and an update on the reliability of dating methods.

Sources:

D. Garcia-Castellanos, F. Estrada, I. Jiménez-Munt, C. Gorini, M. Fernàndez, J. Vergés and R. De Vicente. 2009. Catastrophic flood of the Mediterranean after the Messinian salinity crisis. Nature 462:778-781 (10 December)

Edwards, Lin. 2009. ‘Super-river’ formed the English Channel. PhysOrg.com (2 December)http://www.physorg.com/news178954083.html

Ravilious, Kate. 2009. Mega-flood filled the Mediterranean in months. New Scientist. (9 December). http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427383.900-megaflood-filled-the-mediterranean-in-months.html?full=true&print=true

Thursday, 10 December 2009

At last: Skeptics are awakening to see what creationists really believe



Skeptic, Michael Shermer’s magazine, is probably one of the best-known skeptic publications. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.



Joel Kontinen

Known for his many books and articles, Michael Shermer, the editor of Skeptic magazine, is not averse to discussing controversial topics. In the new issue of E-Skeptic he recommends Daniel Loxton’s article on creationism.

Loxton equates young earth creationism with Darwinism.

According to an old myth, creationists believe that species have hardly changed since creation.

However, Loxton took a look at the websites of Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International and he was almost as astonished as the shepherds to whom angels announced the good news near the little town of Bethelem.

He noticed that creationists do not deny natural selection. Neither do they claim that species have not changed or do not change.

Many creationists believe that the global flood of Noah’s days was a genetic bottleneck that most probably accelerated speciation.

Loxton even checked what Creationwiki had to say about baraminology. The concept is derived from the Hebrew words bara (’create’) and min (’kind’). In other words, baraminology has to do with the study of created kinds.

Animals change according to their kinds. For instance, the Australian wild dog dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is now considered to be a separate species. It probably developed from the domesticated dog (Canis lupus familiaris) that returned to living in the wild. The domesticated dog developed from the wolf (Canis lupus).

However, a dog could never evolve into a cat. Neither could a unicellular organism develop into a multicellular animal since it would need far too many beneficial mutations. As Haldane’s dilemma suggests, even hundreds of millions of years would be far too short for that.

Darwinian evolution does not work in practice. It cannot explain where the necessary genetic information comes from. Without huge additions of information, a unicellular organism will for ever remain a unicellular creature.


Source:

Loxton, Daniel. 2009. Young Earth Creationism = Darwinism. Skepticblog (8 December)
http://skepticblog.org/2009/12/08/young-earth-creationism-darwinism/

Monday, 7 December 2009

Wired Science: Simple Organisms Do Not Exist



E. coli. Image courtesy of Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH. A fresh study indicates that bacteria are more complex than previous thought.




Joel Kontinen

Unicellular organisms can be astonishingly complex, a new study conducted at the University of Arizona reveals. Although Mycoplasma pneumoniae only has a fifth of the genes of Escherichia coli, it is by no means simple.

Howard Ochman and Rahul Raghavan, biologists at the University of Arizona, recently published a paper on M. pneumoniae in Science. They documented almost all proteins that M. pneumoniae uses, studied the function of each gene and recorded their gene activity.

M. pneumoniae has only eight gene switches (E. coli has 50), but they are able to control its molecular activities. This suggests amazingly sophisticated co-operation.

In other words, stupid bacteria are surprisingly clever.

Charles Darwin assumed that the cell was exceedingly simple. However, recent biochemical discoveries have shown that the cell is more of a conglomeration of well-designed nano factories than a Darwinian black box.

Rather than being noise, the message that these humble bacteria are trying to communicate clearly speaks of extremely intelligent design.

If only we had ears that could hear.



Source:

Keim. Brandon. 2009. There’s No Such Thing as a ‘Simple’ Organism. Wired Science. (30 November). http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/11/basics-of-life/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wired%2Fscience+(Wired%3A+Science)

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Design returns to biology – in spite of Darwin’s anniversary



Design is on its way back to biology in spite of Darwin’s anniversary. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

Although the Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776), who was known for his sceptical views, doubted design in nature, the majority of scientists and thinkers in Charles Darwin’s (1809-1882) days still thought that what looked liked it had been designed was no illusion but had actually been designed.

Scientists and philosophers saw signs of design in nature. In the 1850s they still regarded William Paley’s (1743-1805) analogy of the watch and watchmaker as a credible explanation of intelligent design.

Evolutionists assumed that Charles Darwin put an end to the idea of design in nature. They believed that natural selection and random variation (mutations) could account for everything that looked as though it had been designed.

Now, however, 150 years after the publication of The Origin of Species, design is on its way back to biology although mainstream science journals as well as Richard Dawkins and other hard-line Darwinists are still reluctant to admit it.

For instance, the attention that Dr. Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell has recently attracted, suggests that the wind has gradually begun to change.

Evolutionists used to resort to semantics when they failed to understand the function of an organ or part of a biological system. Thus, we heard of junk this and junk that and that there were vestigial organs everywhere.

Now, there is scant evidence for junk and vestigial organs in biological systems. It seems that design is on its way back to biology.

Source:

Olasky, Marvin. 2009. 2009 Daniel of the Year. World (19 December) http://www.worldmag.com/articles/16170

Friday, 4 December 2009

Climate Scientists Destroyed Data



The discussion on climate change is getting hotter. Image courtesy of NASA.




Joel Kontinen

The discussion on climate change is getting hotter and hotter after either a hacker or a disgruntled worker released a thousand e-mails that Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, GB, and co-workers either sent or received.

For the most part, science publications have been reticent about the incident and its consequences but it seems that the temperature and in some cases also the blood pressure of participants on Internet forums has risen.

It is even possible that historians will remember the word ”climategate”.

The published e-mails suggest that CRU scientists have prevented dissidents from publishing their views in climate journals.

CRU scientists have admitted that in the 1980s they threw away raw climate data. Scientists who take a skeptical approach to man-made climate change cannot check whether the figures CRU has given are reliable.

In a separate incident, climate researchers in New Zealand have doctored climate data in order to get a warming trend.

Scientists and other activists who have raised alarms on the dangers of carbon dioxide have not always sounded very credible. For instance, Al Gore and some climate advocates have had a habit of flying from one climate conference to another in their private jets, spewing tons on carbon dioxide into the air.

This might say something about the credibility of the branch.

We might find it more difficult to believe that science should have to do with a quest of knowledge.

Sources:

Leake, Jonathan. 2009. Climate change data dumped. Timesonline (29 November) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6936328.ece

Watt. Anthony. 2009. Uh, oh – raw data in New Zealand tells a different story than the official one. Whats Up With That. (25 November.) http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/25/uh-oh-raw-data-in-new-zealand-tells-a-different-story-than-the-official-one/#more-13215

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Best Evolution Book of Darwin’s Year Shows That Darwinism Does Not Work




Joel Kontinen



The Times Literary Supplement has chosen Dr. Stephen C. Meyer’s Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperCollins) as one of the best books of the year.

The book was chosen by Thomas Nagel, a philosopher at the University of New York, who says he is an atheist. Dr. Meyer’s book shows that the cell is so sophisticated that Darwinian mechanisms cannot explain its origin. It speaks of intelligent design.

Darwinism cannot explain the origin of genetic information.

The Times Literary Supplement (TSL) is perhaps the most prestigious literary magazine in Europe. Each year, it announces its list of ten best books. Initially, the TLS was published as a supplement of The Times. Since 1914 it has been an independent magazine.

Although we have celebrated Darwin’s double anniversary this year, pro-evolution books have failed to win any awards.

Amazon has also chosen Signature in the Cell as one of the best books of the year.

Source:

Books of the Year 2009. Timesonline (25 November)
http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/article6931364.ece

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

New Book Outlines the Revolutionary Effect of Christianity on Mission Fields



The religion that Jesus Christ established changes both individuals and societal structures. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

Christianity can change both individuals and the structures of society. In her new book Christian Mission: How Christianity Became A World Religion, (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), Dr. Dana L. Robert, an expert on missions history, shows how lady missionaries promoted the welfare of women and brought about societal reforms in Asian and African villages.

Dr. Robert says that these brave pioneers

- established thousands of orphanages and schools
- medicated women in cultures in which male doctors refused to treat female patients
- fought for women’s rights
- resisted prostitution and child marriages
- protested against the killing of widows in India
- campaigned against foot-binding in China
- resisted women’s circumcision in Africa
- tried to prevent honour killings in the Middle East

Such radicalism should not astonish us. According to the New Testament, Christianity is a revolutionary faith. Writing to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul said, ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17).

This radical message is no mere theory; it motivated these missionaries to resist societal ills.

Atheists and freethinkers who are eager to notice the shortcomings of Christians would definitely benefit by discovering how the gospel makes this world into a better place.

Perhaps even the worldview of Richard Dawkins might change a little bit, were he to have the courage to read Dr. Robert’s book.

Source:

Carpenter, Joel. 2009. Bridging the Local and the Global. ChristianHistory.net. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/booksandresources/reviews/bridgingthelocalandtheglobal.html

Saturday, 28 November 2009

New Galapagos Film Challenges Charles Darwin’s Views

Joel Kontinen

A trailer of a new Darwin film:



The Mysterious Islands, a new document filmed on the Galapagos islands, challenges Charles Darwin’s thinking on evolution’s holy ground.

The Mysterious Islands is a 90-minute film produced by Vision Forum that follows in Charles Darwin’s footsteps in the Galagapos islands.

Filmed in gorgeous scenery amid extraordinary fauna, the document also includes the comments of creation-believing scientists about Darwin, balancing the mainstream media's evolution bias.

During Darwin’s 200th anniversary, secular science journals have offered him praise practically every week.

The document shows that Darwin made many wrong conclusions about the animals of Galapagos islands, classified them incorrectly and overestimated the power of natural selection.

In the film, doctor John Morris, the President of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), who has a PhD in geology, contrasts evolution and Christianity. According to the biblical worldview, Jesus Christ, the Creator of everything, who was the fittest of all, died for us, who are much weaker than He.

The Mysterious Islands is not the only critical Darwin film that has been released this year. Creation Ministries International’s Darwin film The Voyage That Shook The World is currently being shown around the world.

Source:

'The Mysterious Islands': New Galapagos Film Challenges Evolution on 'Ground Zero' of Darwinism. http://www.earnedmedia.org/vfm0908.htm

Friday, 27 November 2009

Good Reasons to Doubt Darwin



Image courtesy of Wikipedia.


Joel Kontinen

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published 150 years ago but many if not most people who have heard of him are still skeptical about his views and their ability to explain reality.

In a recent ID The Future podcast, Dr. John West of Discovery Institute discusses some good reasons for doubting Darwin.

They are not primarily religious.

Dr. West says the scientific evidence does not support Darwin, as scientists are increasingly skeptical of the tree of life hypothesis and the ability of natural selection and random variation (mutations) to create new species.

We also have reason to doubt Darwin as his theory led to the devaluation of human life. According to Darwinism, we have no more worth than a pig or a rat.

No wonder, then, that Darwin is not exactly the most popular historical character that we have heard of, except, of course, for those whose very worldview would be practically impossible without his ideas.


Source:

West, John. 2009. Doubting Darwin on His Anniversary. ID The Future podcast. Listen here.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Junk RNA Does Not Exist



The chemical structure of RNA. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

"There is no such thing as junk RNA" is the take home message of a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh. Associate professor Bino John and colleagues published their research in the Journal of Virology.

RNA or ribonucleic acid has an important function in information transfer within the cell.

The researchers noticed that even tiny stretches of RNA of only 15 nucleotides take part in biological processes. Previously, scientists had assumed that they were mere junk.

John and colleagues call these tiny RNA stretches usRNA (unusually small RNA). They found them as they were studying the herpes virus.

According to Science News, the discovery of these very common but hitherto neglected usRNAs ”could lead to new types of biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis, and new therapeutic targets”.

For many decades, Darwinian thinking conditioned scientists to assume that we were full of leftovers from our animal past. This assumption hampered the progress of medical science. Only with the advent of new biochemical discoveries has science begun to escape from its Darwinian straitjacket.

The consequences have been beneficial.


Source:

ScienceDaily Science News. No Such Thing As 'Junk RNA,' Say Researchers. 18 October 2009.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091013105809.htm

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Charles Darwin Inspired Chinese Revolutionists



Charles Darwin’s ideas inspired Chairman Mao. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

Nature continues its celebration of Darwin year by relating how his ideas reached China at the end of the 19th century. A naval engineer called Yan Fu studied in England from 1877 to 1879. After returning to China, he introduced the ideas of Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley to his countrymen.

James Pusey, professor of Chinese studies at the University of Bucknell, surveys the early days of Chinese Darwinism. He points out that Yan Fu misunderstood some of Darwin’s key concepts. Thus, natural selection became natural elimination and evolution became jinhua lun or the theory of progressive change.

The Western powers used Darwin’s ideas to justify imperialism. The writings of this Victorian gentleman inspired them to oppress those who were weaker than them.

China, embroiled in inner turmoil and a prolonged struggle against Japan and the European powers, began to see evolution as change.

Inspired by Darwin, Lenin and Marx, the revolutionaries fought against the Emperor’s forces that had been weakened by war and unrest, believing that the more powerful would eventually overcome their weaker adversaries.

Professor Pusey apologizes that the Chinese adopted the European view that some races are fitter than others.

However, the racist view stems from Darwin’s book Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871) in which he predicted, “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

In other words, racism is part and parcel of Darwinism.

The Chinese felt that the Western powers had let them down at the Treaty of Versailles (1919), by giving Japan the Chinese areas occupied by Germany. Darwin’s ideas, flavoured by Marxism, came to their help. They could now only put their trust in power.

Pusey thinks that China would not have embraced Marxism if Darwin's thoughts had not prepared them for a revolution.

”A tree is known by its fruit”, said Jesus (Matt. 12:33). The Cultural Revolution and other experiments remind us of the sombre fact that even in China the fruits of Darwinism were rotten.


Source:

Pusey, James. 2009. Global Darwin: Revolutionary road. Nature 462:7270, 162-163.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Moneron and Other Fictive Creatures as Evidences for Evolution



Ernst Haeckel invented a fictive creature known as the Moneron. He claimed that it was an intermediate form between the living and the non-living. Image: The Swedish translation of Haeckel’s Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte (1868). The book’s English translation was entitled The History of Creation.



Joel Kontinen

Evolutionists have seldom been satisfied by merely presenting scientific evidence, but every now and then they have used their imagination to promote their views. The most notorious example is the use of Ernst Haeckel’s fraudulent embryo drawings.

Unfortunately, they are still very much alive on the pages of some biology textbooks. Recently, Richard Dawkins used them as evidence for evolution.

At last weekend’s Darwin Was Wrong Conference, Robert Carter, who has a PhD in marine biology, lectured on the incorrect assumptions behind evolution. Following the example set by Charles Darwin, evolutionists have often thought that life is much simpler than it is.

Darwin assumed that life could have originated in a warm little pond. He did not know anything about the sophisticated structure of the cell.

Doctor Carter also mentioned Ernst Haeckel, who repeatedly used fraud to spread the good news of evolution.

Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist and professor of anatomy, invented the Moneron. He claimed it was an intermediate form, bridging the living and the non-living. He called it Protomyxa aurantiaca.

Thomas Huxley, who was known as Darwin’s bulldog, said he had found the creature in the North Atlantic. Huxley gave it the name Bathybius haeckelii. It later turned out to be gypsum.

Fraud did not end with Haeckel, however. After Moneron there was Nebraska man, then Piltdown man. In 1999 National Geographic magazine made headlines with a feathered dinosaur called Archaeoraptor.

Have evolutionists learnt from their old mistakes?

Probably not very much. Last May we heard of Ida whom they initially introduced as our great-great… great grandmother.

Sources:

Carter, Robert. 2009. Darwin Was Wrong about The Complexity of Life. Lecture at the Darwin Was Wrong Conference. (14 November).

Grigg, Russell. 1996. Ernst Haeckel: Evangelist for evolution and apostle of deceit. Creation 18(2):33–36. http://creation.com/ernst-haeckel-evangelist-for-evolution-and-apostle-of-deceit

Monday, 16 November 2009

”Backward Evolution”: Humans Are Becoming Less Fit



Charles Darwin assumed that natural selection would make humans fitter. New research shows he was wrong. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen


Our generation has, on average, 100-200 more mutations than our parents have and they have as much more than their parents. There is a simple yet not altogether welcome explanation for this: Each time DNA is passed from one generation to the next, it accumulates more mutations.

Most mutations are deleterious. Mutations are genetic copying mistakes but according to Darwinian evolution they should increase the fitness of species over millions of years. Evolutionists assume that natural selection chooses the mutations that are to be passed on to the next generation.

However, evolution is going in the wrong direction.

John Sanford, a professor at Cornell University, lectured on the topic recently at the Darwin Was Wrong Conference. Sanford, who is a geneticist, said that Darwinists had underestimated the amount of harmful mutations since they had not included ”junk DNA” in their calculations. They had thus overlooked 90 per cent of all mutations.

Professor Sanford is not the only one who says that humans are becoming less fit. Recently, research reported by Nature News supported his conclusions. As the researchers sequenced the Y chromosome, they were able to measure the human mutation rate and came up with the numbers Sanford gave in his lecture.

Two Finnish creationists, Pekka Reinikainen, a medical doctor, and Pauli Ojala, who is a biochemist, have also suggested that instead of evolution we are actually seeing devolution, i.e. instead of becoming fitter, humans are deteriorating.

In contrast to what some apologists for evolution have been saying, time is not the hero in this story. Given the high mutation rate, millions of years of earth history would have meant certain extinction for humankind.

Sources:

Dolgin, Elie. 2009. Human mutation rate revealed. Nature News (27 August). http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090827/full/news.2009.864.html

Sanford, John. 2009. Darwin Was Wrong about Natural Selection. Lecture at the Darwin Was Wrong Conference in Costa Mesa, California. (14 November)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

When Charles Darwin Took a Wrong Turn

Joel Kontinen


Steven Austin, PhD in geology, explains why Charles Darwin’s view of geology is wrong:




In 1834 H.M.S Beagle arrived at the coast of Argentina. At some stage, Charles Darwin who was on board the ship climbed up a rocky slope and looked down at the Santa Cruz river that meandered in a valley six miles or almost ten kilometres wide. Seeing the valley and the huge boulders, he assumed they were evidences of slow processes that over time had changed the landscape dramatically.

On board the ship Darwin had read Charles Lyell’s book Principles of Geology. Lyell (1797-1875) was a lawyer who was one of the pioneers of uniformitarianism or the view that slow geological processes over a long time explain the features we see today.

Charles Darwin, who was 25 years old at the time, concluded that the river had slowly and gradually carved the huge valley.

Steven Austin, who has a PhD in geology, lectured on Darwin’s erroneous interpretation in the Darwin Was Wrong Conference on November 13.

Dr.Austin, who for instance has done research on the nautiloids in the Grand Canyon, followed in Darwin’s footsteps in Argentina and discovered that he could not possibly have been right.

The Santa Cruz river clearly speaks of a major catastrophe. The river valley is ten times as wide as the river itself. Only massive amounts of water or ice could have formed such a huge valley and brought boulders from tens or hundreds of kilometres away.

Dr. Austin says that there are probably three reasons why Darwin was so wrong about the geology of Patagonia:

1 He was blinded by his presuppositions.
2 He had been reading the wrong book, i.e. Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology.
3 He was developing an incorrect methodology.

Darwin made a grave error. The assumption that present slow processes could over millions of years form the river valley might have prompted him to apply the same approach to biology.


Sources:

Austin, Steven A. 2009. Darwin’s First Wrong Turn. Acts & Facts 38:2, 26-27 (February 2009).

Austin, Steven A. 2009. Darwin Was Wrong about Geology. Lecture in the Darwin Was Wrong Conference (13 November).

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Will the World End on December 21, 2012?



The ancient Mayan calendar is said to predict that the world will end on 21st December, 2012. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.





Joel Kontinen

The world is coming to an end. The planet Nibiru, discovered by the ancient Sumerians, will collide or come very close to Earth on December 21, 2012 and put an end to our civilisation.” This is what we are told on many blogs and websites.

How credible is this scenario?

At least Hollywood has turned it into dollars. The film 2012, directed by Roland Emmerich, released on Friday, November 13, is based on the assumed ending of the ancient Mayan calendar.

The calendar is said to end with the winter solstice, i.e. December 21, in 2012.

Wait a minute. Our calendar ends on the 31st of December but this does not necessarily mean that the world will end.

There is a further problem with this end of the world scenario. In contrast to what some conspiracy theories claim, the planet Niburu does not exist.

Several decades ago, Zecharia Sitchin, a science fiction author, claimed he had found ancient Sumerian manuscripts that describe the discovery of a planet called Niburu. However, no archaeologist has verified the existence of such texts.

Niburu could possibly be associated with the Babylonian god Marduk who is not exactly known to be a planet.

The hype concerning 2012 has been influenced by both new age ideology and evolutionary faith in the existence of intelligent life in outer space. A psychic named Nancy Lieder claims she had been contacted by aliens living on a planet revolving round the star Zeta Reticuli. They warned her of a planet that would collide with Earth in May 2003.

When May 2003 came and went without the predicted collision, the catastrophe was postponed until 2012 and associated with the Mayan calendar and the hypothetical reversal of Earth’s magnetic poles that are supposed to cause great upheavals.

Describing impending catastrophes and the end of the world have proved to be efficient means of making money in the past.

G.K. Chesterton, a famous British author, wrote that people who espouse materialism are credulous and easily believe everything.

When one rejects the Bible’s revelation, one might soon come to believe in UFOs, parapsychology, horoscopes and even the Mayan calendar.

Sources:

Neuhaus, Richard John. 2005. RJN 12.31.05 One more word... First Things (31 December). http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2005/12/rjn-123005-one-more-word.


Nibiru and Doomsday 2012: Questions and Answers. http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/ask-an-astrobiologist/intro/nibiru-and-doomsday-2012-questions-and-answers

2012: Beginning of the End or Why the World Won't End? NASA. http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Soft Tissue Found in an ”18 Million Year” Old Salamander



Soft tissue was found in an ”18 Million Year” old salamander fossil. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

After an animal dies, its soft tissue is destroyed rather quickly. However, researchers at the University College Dublin report that they have found muscle tissue in a salamander fossil estimated to be 18 million years old.

Dr. Maria McNamara, a geologist at UCD, and colleagues reported their discovery in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. They analysed a salamander fossil found in southern Spain carefully to ensure that their sensational discovery was not due to contamination.

In 1997 Mary Schweitzer, a paleontologist at North Carolina State University, found remnants of red blood cells in T. rex bone.

At the time, evolutionists were reluctant to believe that the discovery was genuine but later Schweitzer and her research team found remnants of haemoglobin and collagen in a Tyrannosaur estimated to be 68 million years old.

Earlier this year Dr. Schweitzer and her colleagues found collagen, haemoglobin, elastin and laminin in a Hadrosaur assumed to be 80 million years old.

The newest discovery makes it more difficult to believe in
millions of years of earth history.


Sources:

Ancient muscle tissue extracted from 18 million year old fossil. Physorg. com. (5 November)
http://www.physorg.com/news176660912.html


Wieland, Carl. 2009.
Best ever find of soft tissue (muscle and blood) in a fossil. (11 November) comment at the Creation. com website of Creation Ministries International.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Coming Soon: Darwin Was Wrong Conference



The Darwin Was Wrong Conference brochure. Click on the image for a more detailed view.




Joel Kontinen

Charles Darwin has been in the news several times during his double anniversary and the end is not in sight. During November 13 – 14, 2009 Logos Research Associates and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa are hosting a two-day conference on Charles Darwin from a creationist perspective.

The conference will be held at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Fairfiew, Santa Ana, California.

The following experts are speaking at the free event:

Pastor Chuck Smith (Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa)
Dr John Baumgardner (PhD, Geophysics)
Dr Steve Austin (PhD, Geology)
Dr Marcus Ross (PhD, Paleontology)
Dr E. Thomas McMullen (PhD, History and Philosophy of Science)
Dr Robert Carter (PhD, Marine Biology, research scientist and speaker for CMI–US)
Dr John Sanford (PhD, Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics)
Dr Jerry Bergman (PhD, Human Biology)
Dr Charles Ware (President, Crossroads Bible College).

You can also listen to the conference live via the Internet. For more information, please go to
Darwin Was Wrong Conference
.

Carl Sagan: ”The Cosmos is all that is”



Carl Sagan was born 75 years ago. Image courtesy of NASA.




Joel Kontinen

Next week, skeptics will celebrate Carl Sagan’s 75th birthday. Sagan, an astronomer and author who died in 1996, did not acknowledge the existence of the supernatural. For him, the cosmos was all that there is.

Sagan often pointed out that there was nothing special about Earth, "a pale blue dot". Made up of recycled stardust, man could not rely on anyone else expect himself in a vast, unfriendly universe. There was no room for the spiritual realm in his worldview.

The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be,” was Sagan’s creed.

Humanists might have a veneer of tolerance but they tend to have a rather rigid conception of what they should believe in. They have published three manifestos that might be thought of as creeds. They deny the existence of the supernatural and will only accept naturalistic explanations.
.
Fred Edwords characterised the humanists’ worldview as follows:

Human beings are neither entirely unique from other forms of life nor are they the final product of some planned scheme of development… Humans are the current result of a long series of natural evolutionary changes, but not the only result or the final one. Continuous change can be expected to affect ourselves, other life forms, and the cosmos as a whole. There appears no ultimate beginning or end to this process.”

Carl Sagan was one of the more prominent humanists.

Guillermo Gonzales and Jay W. Richards happened to criticise Sagan. In their book The Privileged Planet (2004), they showed that Earth seems to be designed for life.

Gonzales was an associate professor of astronomy at Iowa State University. Infuriated by the book, some of his colleagues, Hector Avalos in particular, complained of the teaching of intelligent design at Iowa State and he was eventually expelled from his post. Ben Stein’s movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed documented his case.

David Warren, a columnist for The Ottawa Citizen, said: ”Atheist materialism is vastly more sensitive to heresy than any previously known religious orthodoxy.”

It seems that the humanistic inquisition sees to it that no one dares to deviate from the official doctrine (i.e. everything is a result of random processes).

Carl Sagan shared this humanistic dogma that a priori ruled out the possibility of design in the Cosmos.



Sources:

Edwords, Fred. 1984. Humanism in Perspective. American Humanist Association. The Humanist, Jan/Feb 1984.

Nye, Bill. 2006. A Tribute to Carl Sagan: Our Place in the Universe. Skeptic 13:1. http://www.skeptic.com/reading_room/our-place-in-the-universe

Warren, David. 2007. The Limits of Atheism. The Ottawa Citizen. (12 August). http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=c43112b1-d4b9-4a09-ac0f-8517f0b931d5

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

What Was an Ancient Spider Spinning? Answer: A Web, of Course



Spiders have followed their traditional ways for a surprisingly long time. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

Recently, BBC News reported on spider webs encased in amber. Found in East Sussex, GB, they are assumed to be 140 million years old. Professor Martin Brasier, a paleobiologist at the University of Oxford, published a study of the discovery in the Journal of the Geological Society.

According to professor Brasier, the discovery is the oldest known spider web. He says that the creature that spun it is related to modern garden spiders.

Evolution is often defined as change. However, it seems that spiders have hardly changed their habits in 140 million years.

According to the Darwinian story, dinosaurs became birds and the early four-footed mammals became humans in roughly the same time, but squid have remained squid, Coelacanths have remained Coelacanths, horseshoe crabs have remained horseshoe crabs and tuataras have remained tuataras throughout this time.

After its kind seems to be a principle that is still not outdated. We should keep in mind, however, that the Genesis concept ’kind’ (baramin) has a wider meaning than the term ’species’ used in modern biology.


Source:

Spider web confirmed as 'oldest' . BBC News 31 October. 2009.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/sussex/8335719.stm

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

When Neanderthals Were Depicted As Apemen



Recent discoveries have shown that Neanderthals were not ape-like. Reconstruction of a Neanderthal girl. Image courtesy of Christopher P.E. Zollikofer, Anthropological Institute, University of Zurich, via Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

In the 19th century, anthropologists had not yet discovered any fossils of our assumed forefathers in Africa so they used Neanderthal men as their poster boys for Darwinism, depicting them as grunting, stooped cavemen. Evolution needed spectacular evidence and ape-men were well-suited for the task.

Chris Stringer, an anthropologist at the London Natural History Museum, acknowledges that Neanderthal men were not ape-men although they differed from us in some respects. For instance, they had larger brains than H. sapiens.

Dr. Stringer has not become a creationist but he nevertheless pointed out some misconceptions in a recent Scientific American podcast.

Neanderthal men were cleverer than we thought. (You can read more here , here and here.)

Neanderthals have made headlines recently. Svante Pääbo, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute, and his research team are sequencing the Neanderthal genome and hope to publish some preliminary results in the near future.

Pääbo believes that H. sapiens and H. neanderthalis lived near each other for long ages in Europe and the Middle East and they probably came into contact with each other. However, he does not think that there was any genetic mixing between them and us.

According to the creation model, Neanderthal men were the descendants of Adam. They most probably lived after the global flood of Noah’s day so we would not be surprised to see Neanderthal traits in some of our fellow-travellers.

Sources:

Callaway, Ewen. 2009. Genetic evidence for human-Neanderthal hanky panky? New Scientist blog (27 October.) http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2009/10/genetic-evidence-for-human-nea.html

Scientific American podcast, 23 October 2009
http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=human-evolution-lucy-and-neandertha-09-10-23&sc=WR_20091027

Sunday, 1 November 2009

New Discovery: Tropical Plants Have Hardly Changed in 58 million Years



The remains of the Titanoboa. Image courtesy of Ray Carson, Florida Museum of Natural History, via Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

Fossilised tropical plants found in a Colombian coal mine suggest that although climate has changed considerably from the time since they flourished, they can be identified as the same plant families that still grow in warm climates. There were fewer species than there are now but the discovery shows that legumes, palms, avocados and bananas have hardly changed in 58 million years.

According to the Darwinian view, climate change should cause evolution or major changes in species. However, this has not happened in these Colombian plants.

Recently, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published research online, analysing this discovery of over 2000 megafossils. Previously, the fossil of the giant snake called Titanoboa that closely resembles modern boas and anacondas was found in this same Cerrejón Formation in northern Columbia.

They are not the only plants that have resisted change for surprisingly long aeons. In 1994 scientists found a living Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis), a tree that already existed during the time of the dinosaurs. It has remained unchanged for 200 million years. At the time, Professor Carrick Chambers, director of Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, said that finding this living fossil was as significant as discovering a small dinosaur alive.

These new discoveries call into question both plant evolution and the belief in millions of years but they support the Genesis creation model of after its kind. We should remember, though, that the biblical concept of kind (Heb. baramin) is wider than the modern term species used in biology.


Sources:


Thomas, Brian. 2009. New Fossil Cache Shows Plants Haven't Changed. (28 October) http://www.icr.org/article/4998/

University of Florida. 2009. Plant fossils give first real picture of earliest Neotropical rainforests (15 October) http://news.ufl.edu/2009/10/15/neotropical/

Whitehouse, David. 2003. Jurassic pot plants on sale soon. BBC News. (25 September) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3139450.stm

Big Green Men in Great Britain?



Recently, the British press reported on UFOs and crop circles. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

We often assume that green men are little but a British police sergeant who was driving past a field near Silbury Hill in Wiltshire said he saw aliens who were at least 6 ft or 183 cm tall and had blond hair. He thinks they were looking at a fresh crop circle.

He stopped his car to have a closer look. As he approached the aliens, they hurried away. The sergeant said that humans could not possibly have run so fast.

He also reported having seen a UFO. The local police do not want to comment on the incident.

The incident occurred at the beginning of July but it took the press several months to learn about it. The name of the sergeant was not disclosed.

This was not the first time crop circles were associated with UFOs and aliens. Often, however, there is little or no evidence for this kind of connection.

In addition to discussing UFOs, Gary Bates also takes up the issue of crop circles in his book Alien Intrusion. He says that they are hoaxes. In 1991 Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, two British gentlemen in their sixties, acknowledged that they had drawn crop circles for fifteen years. They said that they had made 250 circles, some of which were sophisticated geometric patterns.

Bower and Chorley made advertisements for Weetabix and Mitsubishi, for instance, and they soon got imitators. Some innovators wrote the text We are not alone in a field.

According to Bates, this gave the game away. Little green men would have written, “You are not alone”.

Many people have read about strange encounters with supposed aliens. Is it any wonder, then, that they might interpret crop circles and strangers in the night who are looking at them as evidence for extraterrestrial life?

It seems that for many individuals who are more familiar with the Star Trek series and the Planet of the Apes than the writings of Moses, UFOs have become a surrogate religion.

UFOs also have a significant evolution connection. If we believe that life on Earth is the result of random naturalistic processes, what will keep us from believing that the universe is teeming with little green men who are eager to contact us?

However, if we believe that our planet is unique and that God has especially created life here, we will take a more skeptical approach to UFOs, crop circles and aliens.

Sources:

Bates, Gary. 2004. Alien Intrusion. Green Forest: Master Books.

Jamieson, Alastair. 2009. UFO alert: police officer sees aliens at crop circle. Daily Telegraph. (20 October) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/ufo/6394256/UFO-alert-police-officer-sees-aliens-at-crop-circle.html

Friday, 30 October 2009

New Evolution Survey Suggests More People Say No To Darwin



Darwin Now, a new international evolution survey, suggests that many people no longer welcome the Darwinian monopoly in science education.




Joel Kontinen


To celebrate Charles Darwin’s double anniversary, British Council commissioned a global evolution survey. The researchers interviewed 11, 768 adults in ten countries (Argentina, China, Egypt, Great Britain, USA, Spain, South Africa, India, Mexico and Russia), asking them to state their views on the teaching of evolution in science classes.

Supporters of Darwinian evolution might find the results somewhat disappointing: 43 per cent of all respondents hoped that in addition to evolution, alternatives such as intelligent design (ID) and creationism would also be taught at school.

On Darwin’s home turf in Great Britain, where the researchers interviewed 973 people, 54 per cent wished for alternatives to evolution. It is probably surprising that the percentage is slightly higher than that in the USA, where 51 per cent hoped for “other possible perspectives”. In Russia (1600 interviewees) a mere 10 per cent opted for the evolution only approach and 53 per cent wanted it to be accompanied by either intelligent design or creationism.

Globally, 20 per cent of the respondents thought that only evolution should be taught at school.

The Darwin Now survey also suggests that the more people know about evolution, the more they want alternatives for it. In Egypt, only 19 per cent of the respondents wanted alternatives to the Darwin only approach. It is probably significant that of the 1277 Egyptians interviewed, 36 per cent said that they did not know about the issue.

The results of the study agree with other similar surveys (see, for instance here and here. )

Darwinists are busy searching for reasons for their lack of popularity, as they did in March in Great Britain when they were not exactly pleased with previous survey results.

Source:

British Council Global Education Darwin Survey .

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Atheism 3.0: Religion Is Good for Individuals and Society



Bruce Sheiman is an atheist who defends religion.



Joel Kontinen


In the past few years, militant atheists have vociferously attacked religion in general and Christianity in particular. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris have hardly admitted seeing anything positive in faith.

However, a new generation of atheists does not take an aggressive approach to religion. Bruce Sheiman, for instance, wrote a book entitled An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity Is Better Off with Religion than Without It (2009).

According to Sheiman,

Faith provides meaning and purpose for millions of believers, inspires people to tend to each other and build communities, gives them a sense of union with a transcendent force, and provides numerous health benefits.

More than any other institution, religion deserves our appreciation and respect because it has persistently encouraged people to care deeply — for the self, for neighbors, for humanity, and for the natural world — and to strive for the highest ideals humans are able to envision
.”

Sheiman is by no means the last of the Mohicans among his ideological comrades who reject faith in God but espouse the blessings that religion brings.

There are so many atheists who think religion is beneficial for both individuals and society that USA Today coined the expression atheism 3.0.

Greg M. Epstein, a humanist chaplain at Harvard University, and Austin Dacey , a former UN representative, also belong to this new generation of atheists who feel that religion has an important role in society.

This kind of ”evolution” is welcome, especially as we are celebrating the double anniversary of Charles Darwin.


Source:

Burke, Daniel. 2009. Atheism 3.0 finds a little more room for religion. USA Today. (19 October)
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-10-19-atheism-belief_N.htm

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Ida: From Human Grandmother to Lemur Grandmother



Goodbye, Ida! Image credit: Franzen JL, Gingerich PD, Habersetzer J, Hurum JH, von Koenigswald W & Smith BH (2009). Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5723. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005723.




Joel Kontinen

Fossils found in Egypt that are assumed to be 37 million years old are robbing Ida of her status as a potential human ancestor. Erik Seiffert of Stony Brook University and colleagues analysed over 100 teeth and jawbone pieces and gave their find the name Afradapis longicristatus. They published their research in Nature.

Afradapis longicristatus is said to be Ida’s younger relative.

The new discoveries suggest that the ado caused by Grand Aunt Ida was premature. Published in May in PLoS ONE, the fossil known as Ida or Darwinius masillae graced the covers of myriads of magazines and stared at us from the front pages of countless newspapers. However, many experts already doubted her significance.

Ida, whose remains are assumed to be 47 million years old, was able to enjoy the limelight for a while. Now, however, she has to make do with her less prestigious role as the grandmother of lemurs.

Sic transit gloria mundi, said Thomas à Kempis, the 15th century Dutch monk who authored the classic Imitatio Christi, ’so passes away the glory of the world’.



Sources:

Dalton, Rex. 2009. Fossil primate challenges Ida’s place. Nature 461: 7267, 1040.

Gibbons, Ann. 2009. New Primate Fossil Poses Further Challenge to Ida. ScienceNOW Daily News. (21 October) http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/1021/2?rss=1

Seiffert, Erik R., Jonathan M. G. Perry, Elwyn L. Simons and Doug M. Boyer. 2009. Convergent evolution of anthropoid-like adaptations in Eocene adapiform primates. Nature 461: 7267, 1118-1121.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Famous Monkey Trial Presented in London



A parody of the famous monkey trial of 1925 is being presented at the Old Vic in London. Image from the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum.



Joel Kontinen

Inherit the Wind is a court drama written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee in 1955. It flagrantly misrepresents the 1925 Dayton monkey trial.

At the time John Scopes, a football coach and substitute teacher, was accused of breaking the Butler Act of Tennessee that prohibited the teaching of evolution in the state’s schools. The purpose of the trial (The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes) was to ascertain whether he had claimed that man descended from apes.

The stage version currently playing at the Old Vic in London is based on this 1955 production of Inherit the Wind.

In reporting the play, Celeste Biever of New Scientist fails to mention that Inherit the Wind was an attempt to re-write history. Although John Scopes, who is known as Bertram Cates in the film, was accused of teaching evolution, he later admitted that the entire case was a hoax and that he did not even reach the part of the biology textbook that discussed evolution.

The trial was a ploy. The Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was looking for a teacher who would challenge the Butler Act. They also wanted to propagate evolution. Moreover, local politicians hoped to make Dayton more widely known.

Ms. Biever mostly uses the play as a ruse to attack Intelligent Design in general and Michael Behe in particular.

Defence lawyer Clarence Darrow, who in the film is called Henry Drummond, was anything but an objective defender of the truth. He insulted the judge during the trial and instructed both Scopes and his students to lie that he had taught evolution. Scopes acknowledged this later.

William Jennings Bryan, one of the prosecutors in the case, who is called Matthew Harrison Brady in the film, was not a simple-minded fundamentalist as he is described in Inherit the Wind. Bryan was one of the most popular speakers and politicians of his time. He served as Secretary of State during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency and he had been the Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States three times.

It is perhaps revealing that Ms. Biever is absolutely silent about the evidences that evolutionists at the time (in 1925) used in trying to convince people that they are descended from apes. Their two outstanding fossils were Nebraska man or Hesperopithecus haroldcookii, consisting of one single tooth that was later identified as belonging to an extinct pig, and Piltdown man or Eoanthropus dawson, one of the greatest hoaxes in science of all time.

The book that Scopes used in his classes was Hunter’s Civic Biology (1914). It includes some interesting details about humans:

"At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; The American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America."

It seems that the ”facts” of evolution have changed quite a bit since the days of the Dayton monkey trial.

Sources:

Biever, Celeste. 2009. 'Monkey trial' drama is more than a defence of evolution. New Scientist (19 October) http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17998-monkey-trial-drama-is-more-than-a-defence-of-evolution.html?full=true

Excerpts from Hunter's Civic Biology (1914). http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scopes/hunt196.htm

Menton, David. 2003. Inherently Wind: A Hollywood History of the Scopes Trial. Answers in Genesis DVD.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

National Geographic News: A Third of Dinosaur Species Never Existed



According to a National Geographic documentary there were far fewer dinosaur species than we thought. Image: dinosaurs at the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum in Kentucky.




Joel Kontinen

Dinosaurs Decoded is a new documentary that challenges our views of dinosaurs. The film, produced by the National Geographic Channel, claims that a third of dinosaur species never existed.

Young dinosaurs differed in many ways from their parents. However, researchers have not always taken this into account. Science thus ”knows” species that have never existed.

Mark Goodwin of the University of California, Berkeley, and Jack Horner of Montana State University, are prominent palaeontologists who present their discoveries in the documentary. They suggest, for instance, that the relatives of T. rex were often classified as distinct species although they actually were juveniles that lacked the traits that are characteristic of adult Tyrannosaurs.

Nowadays many researchers regard Nanotyrannus as a young T. rex. They know that dinosaurs changed as they got older just like many present species do. For instance, deer get their antlers when they are full-grown.

Dinosaurs Decoded has important ramifications for the reliability of fossil finds. It suggests that we should perhaps take a more skeptical approach to them – or at least to headlines that advertise a discovery as the fossil of the century.

Later research almost always brings to light features that refute the original claims of the importance of the discovery. Recently, we saw this happen in the case of the Ida fossil.

Finding a new species brings prestige and fame to its discoverer. Is it any wonder, then, that scientists habitually defend the importance of their fossil and discount the significance of rival discoveries? Richard Leakey, whose research team found Turkana Boy, the famous Homo erectus fossil, for instance, moved Lucy or Australopithecus afarensis to a side branch of the hominid tree.

Seen from a creation perspective, Dinosaurs Decoded is a welcome innovation. Noah did not have to take as many dinosaurs on board the ark as evolutionists assumed. In addition, it is good to keep in mind that the average dino was as small as a sheep or a calf.

Sources:

Barras, Colin. 2009. Richard Leakey: Passionate, prickly and principled. New Scientist 2730 (14 October) http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427301.000-richard-leakey-passionate-prickly-and-principled.html?full=true


Handwerk, Brian. 2009. A Third of Dinosaur Species Never Existed? National Geographic News (9 October)
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/10/091009-dinosaur-species-never-existed.html

Monday, 19 October 2009

Thou Shalt Not Criticise Climate Change!



Nature and the mainstream media argue that Earth’s anthropogenetic or man-made global warming is one of the holy issues that should not be criticised. Image courtesy of NASA.





Joel Kontinen

BBC’s climate correspondent Paul Hudson recently wrote an article in which he also let critics of global warming present their views. Hudson did not even say that he doubts long-term global warming but he suggested that the debate on the reasons behind climate change is expected to heat up.

According to Hudson, Earth’s climate has not become any warmer in 11 years and we might face a cooler period that could last 30 years. UN’s climate models did not predict anything like that.

Hudson’s article caused quite a stir. First, Guardian entered the fray. The British daily asked why on earth BBC published such an article. Next, Nature took umbrage at Paul Hudson for quoting Piers Corbyn and Don Easterbrook, who are known to be climate skeptics.

According to Nature, climate skepticism is a fringe phenomenon. As a prestigious science publication it naturally has the heavy responsibility of reminding its readers that the overwhelming consensus view within the scientific community is that the man-made increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is the root of all kinds of evil and that dissidents are heretics who should be avoided at all costs.

The commotion caused by one critical article probably reveals more about the worldview of climate change advocates than about anything else. Has climate change become a holy dogma that cannot be challenged?

Nature’s article would at least suggest this. It reminds me of the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 1:25:

" They … worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator. "


You can read Paul Hudson’s article here.





Sources:

Carmichael, Bill. 2009. Weathering a climate of hate. Yorkshire Post. (15 October). http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/columnists/Bill-Carmichael-Weathering-a-climate.5739475.jp

Cressey, Daniel. 2009. Climate sceptics celebrate BBC story. (12 October) http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2009/10/climate_sceptics_celebrate_bbc.html

The Newest Just-So-Story: Monkeys Invented Music



Before anyone had heard of Mozart, I made music. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen


Music has its origins in monkey drumming, claims a new study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers came up with this not-so-novel idea when they noticed that rhesus monkeys used to bang the doors of their cage and other objects.

Recently, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen scanned the brains of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) while these monkey listened to either drumming or the calls of other monkeys. They noticed that the sounds activated the brain’s temporal lobe that in humans has been associated with speech and vision.

According to Christoph Kayser, a neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute, drumming was invented as a means of communication in the dawn of primate evolution.

Humans often use non-verbal communication. For instance, we clap our hands, knock on doors and drum. We use our limbs to form repetitious sound patterns or beats.

Kayser and colleagues thus conclude that as Darwinian evolution progressed, drumming became that for what we now need earplugs in order to preserve the remnant of our faculty of hearing.

However, the observed behaviour of monkeys does not necessarily say anything definite about the origin of music.

There seems to be nothing new under the sun. Charles Darwin already speculated that music evolved from the calls of ape men.

Monkey tales or Darwinian just-so-stories still flourish in science journals although it is questionable whether they have anything to do with real science.


Source:

Choi, Charles Q. 2009. Monkey Drumming Suggests the Origin of Music. LiveScience (16 October) http://www.livescience.com/animals/091016-monkey-drumming.html

Saturday, 17 October 2009

The Spider That Eats Vegetables


Bagheera kiplingi. Image courtesy of Maximilian Paradiz, Creative Commons(CC BY 2.0).




Joel Kontinen

The diet of the Bagheera kiplingi does not match our assumptions of the culinary habits of spiders. We would expect it to use its web to capture insects. However, its favourite food consists of the tips of acacia leaflets.

The spider has got its name from the panther called Bagheera that Rudyard Kipling wrote about in his Jungle Book.

In 2007 Eric Olson and Christopher Meehan studied the Bagheera kiplingi in Mexico. To their surprise, they noticed that the spiders did not capture ants living in symbiosis with the acacias but they ate the nutritious Beltian bodies found at the tips of acacia leaflets.

For evolutionists, this was weird. However, seen from a creation aspect this is not at all surprising. The Book of Genesis states that in the beginning all animals were herbivorous, i.e., vegetarian, before the Fall brought death and suffering into the world.

Moreover, B. kiplingi is not the only ”weird” animal. At least one cat and two lions are known to have been vegetarians. This suggests that even animals that we would regard as predators do not necessarily need meat to survive.

Olson, Meehan and colleagues recently published their findings in the journal Current Biology. Scientific American, a popular magazine, also reported on the discovery.

Both publications were a bit late. In September, Dr. David Catchpoole, an Australian plant physiologist, already wrote an article in Creation magazine about the eating habits of B. kiplingi.


Sources:

Catchpoole, David. 2009. Vegetarian Spider. Creation 31 (4): 46.

Harmon, Katherine. 2009. Unusual Spider Species Passes Up Live Prey for Plants. Scientific American. (12 October).