Sunday, 28 February 2010

Operational science vs. origins science

Joel Kontinen

Many people fail to understand the difference between operational science and origins science. Operational science is the type that put men on the moon and gave us computers. Origins science, however, relies on indirect evidence (such as fossils) that we see in the present.

The evidence does not speak for itself but we have to interpret it. Our worldview and our assumptions about the past determine how we interpret the evidence we see in the present.

Here’s an excellent video in which Dr. Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International explains the difference between these two forms of science:

PS. The CMI website is now

Scientists take a potshot at Charles Darwin’s pet idea and get nasty feedback

The very name of this book causes indigestion for some Darwin fans.

Joel Kontinen

Having written a book entitled What Darwin Got Wrong, its authors might expect to get rather harsh feedback. After all, the inerrancy of the Father of Evolution has become Darwinian dogma. When New Scientist published its Darwin was Wrong cover story last year, many evolutionists were calling for a boycott of the magazine.

Jerry Fodor, a professor of philosophy and cognitive sciences at Rutgers University, and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, a professor of cognitive science at the University of Arizona, nevertheless decided to break ranks with Darwinian orthodoxy by taking a potshot at one of the basic concepts behind evolution, i.e. the assumed omnipotence of natural selection.

Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini criticised the excessive role of natural selection in Darwinism.

Recently, in an interview for, Fodor said that their book and articles had generated extremely harsh criticism in the blogosphere. It seems that people are not pleased when they are told that what they learnt in biology 101 is not true.

Fodor says, for instance, that the example often found in textbooks of how the giraffe got its long neck is mere storytelling.

This widespread tendency prompted professor Fodor to criticise the Darwinian propensity for making up just-so stories to explain phenomena such as how the spider got its web.

One sees, even without God, how this Darwinian story could turn out to be radically wrong. You could see a massive failure of the evolutionary project, because wrong assumptions were made”, Fodor concludes. He says that he is still an atheist, though.

Richard Dawkins might not be too pleased with Fodor’s statements.


Rogers, Thomas . 2010. "What Darwin Got Wrong": Taking down the father of evolution. (22 February)

Saturday, 27 February 2010

”Stone age” Cretans sailed the Mediterranean

At least one huge ship was built early in human history.

Joel Kontinen

"The idea of finding tools from this very early time period on Crete was about as believable as finding an iPod in King Tut's tomb." This is how Curtis Runnels, an archaeologist at Boston University, characterised a new discovery, a 13-centimetre (5 inch) hand axe.

An American-Greek research team found over 30 hand axes made from quartz as well as many other stone implements near the village of Plakias on the south west coast of Crete.

The archaeologists assume that the tools are at least 130, 000 years old. According to Thomas Strasser, who led the team, the ancient Cretans must have sailed to the island tens of thousands of years earlier than what was previously thought possible.

This is what happens time and again. Although dating methods almost always give too old dates, the search for primitive man goes further back into history with each new discovery.

According to Genesis 4, early men had a sophisticated culture. They were able to build cities, play the harp and flute, and smelt metals. "Primitive" man is an invention needed by the evolution story.


Pringle, Heather. 2010. Primitive Humans Conquered Sea, Surprising Finds Suggest. National Geographic (17 February).

Are dolphins almost human?

Some evolutionists would like to blur the border between humans and animals. Image of a bottlenose dolphin courtesy of NASA.

Joel Kontinen

Bottlenose dolphins have bigger brains than we do. They also know how to use them creatively. Some researchers think that dolphins are almost like people. For them, keeping such prodigious creatures captive amounts to a heinous crime.

One of the hot potatoes discussed at this week’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science was the status of dolphins. First their skills were lauded to the skies. Then philosopher Thomas White characterised them as almost ”nonhuman persons."

Not all participants were willing to subscribe to White’s view, however. Jacopo Annese, a neuroanatomist at the University of California, San Diego, says of the purported superb intelligence of dolphins, "It's a pretty story, but it's very speculative."

Evolutionists have often attempted to blur the border between humans and animals. Two years ago they tried to get human rights for a chimpanzee in Austria and partial rights for great apes in Spain.

Darwinism seems to be lurking in the shadows. It will allow us to trample on human rights but will conspicuously defend the rights of animals.


Grimm, David. 2010. Is a Dolphin a Person? Science NOW (21 February)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Are ETs Chelsea fans?

”I like Chelsea F.C.” Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Recently, the UK Ministry of Defence released files that were previously classified as top-secret. They include over 6,000 pages of reports that describe “hundreds of other-worldly experiences with unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and apparent aliens across Britain.”

UFOs have changed considerably in half a century. According to The Telegraph, “Many reports in this latest file describe aircraft as big, black and triangular in shape with lights along the edges, whereas the predominant form in the 1940s to 1950s was saucer or disc-shaped.”

The documents suggest that an UFO was observed hovering over Stamford Bridge, the home stadium of Chelsea F.C., during a soccer match. It seems that the ETs have been showing a bad example by their refusal to buy tickets.

Chelsea is no doubt a good football team. It has won the English Premier League three times and the FA cup five times, including last year, but there are other top teams in Great Britain also, Manchester United and Liverpool, for instance.

So why would ETs choose to watch a Chelsea game?

The origin of UFOs also raises questions. Proxima Centauri, the nearest star outside our solar system, is 4.3 light years away. In other words, at the speed of light it would take four years and four months for a one-way trip from there to see the Chelsea game in London.

Furthermore, we have no evidence that Proxima Centauri or any other star in our “neighbourhood” has planets that could harbour life.

UFOs seem to have a strong evolution connection. If one believes that life originated and evolved randomly on earth,one would probably also suppose that it could have evolved randomly elsewhere.


UFO files: MoD documents record mystery illnesses and alien, 18 February 2010.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Elephants can distinguish between three human languages

Elephants are surprisingly clever. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Elephants roaming the savannahs in the Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya may be able to distinguish between three languages. This is the take-home message of a recent British study. BBC reports on tests conducted by a research team from the University of Sussex, UK, who drove around the park on the outskirts of Mount Kilimanjaro in a Land Rover, observing elephant behaviour.

The British researchers discovered that old female elephants were able ”to learn the identity of at least 100 other individual elephants by voice”.

The researchers also played recordings in three different languages (Maa, Kamba and English) on a loudspeaker atop their Land Rover. They noticed clear differences in how the elephants reacted to these languages. When the elephants heard someone speaking Maa, the language of the Maasai, they became nervous probably because the Maasai occasionally kill elephants in order to protect their herds. Then, when they heard the Kampa language, they were less nervous. On hearing English, the elephants stayed calm.

The elephants obviously know that English-speaking tourists only take photos. They seem to realise that the era of Ernest Hemingway and other rifle-toting white hunters is past and gone.

BBC also mentioned experiments conducted in Japan that suggest that elephants are good at mathematics.

According to Darwinists, chimpanzees should be much more intelligent than other land animals or birds. However, several recent experiments suggest that both elephants and crows beat chimps in tasks needing innovation.

These and other observations do not support assumptions based on Darwinian evolution.

At least some elephants are clever painters as well. See a video clip of an Asian elephant painting the portrait of – yes, a fellow elephant:


Luck-Baker. Andrew. 2010. Inside the Elephant mind. BBC News (17 February)

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Spiders gather water with their webs

A new study looks at how spiders use their webs to collect moisture from the air. Image courtesy of PD

Joel Kontinen

A bright autumn morning will make spiders’ webs glisten in the sunlight. This has to do with water droplets that cling to them. In other words, spiders do not have to trudge down to a stream to drink some water but they get it from the moisture in the air.

Recently, a team of Chinese researchers published a paper in the journal Nature on how spiders use their webs to collect moisture. Zheng Yongmei and colleagues examined the webs of Uloborus walckenaerius spiders with an electron microscope and reported on their observations.

The researchers noticed that the structure of the web makes water droplets cling to the silk. They hope to copy the technology spiders already make use of and have constructed a man-made web for collecting moisture from the air.

Time and again scientists notice signs of truly amazing design in nature (You can read more here and here ). Three millennia ago, King Solomon wrote: ”He [i.e. God] has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

The water-collecting function of a spider’s web also suggests that in the very good world of Genesis 1 and 2 before the Fall, they could have been used for solely non-predatory purposes.


Helmer, Magdalena. 2010. Dew catchers. Nature 463: 7281, 681.

Zheng, Yongmei & al. 2010. Directional water collection on wetted spider silk. Nature 463: 7281, 640-643.

When old views are discarded

In 1910 Martian canals were not seen as being altogether fictive. They have not made any headlines recently, however. Image courtesy of NASA/ESA.

Joel Kontinen

Our views of reality tend to change with the times. Recently, the journal Nature reported on what Percival Lowell (1855-1916) thought about Mars a century ago.

In 1910 professor Lowell contemplated the melting of the Martian glaciers and the ”canals” on the red planet. According to Lowell, ”Mars is habitable by organisms not essentially different from those with which we are acquainted.” He thought that Martians had solved their water crisis: ”Water is artificially ’engineered’ in such a way that organic existence is rendered possible”.

For a long time, the denizens on the red planet were thought to be real. An imagined Martian invasion of Earth caused widespread panic before the outbreak of World War II.

But scientific (and even popular) views tend to change with the passing of time. We have not heard much about the Martian canals for quite some time.

In 1975 Francis Schaeffer, a well-known Christian philosopher, wrote: ”The history of science, including science in our own day, has often seen great dogmatism about theories which later have been discarded.”

Darwinian evolution and man-made global warming are perhaps two of the hottest potatoes of our time. Both concepts are being defended rather fanatically.

Might it be time to listen to Francis Schaeffer?


100 Years Ago. Nature 463:7281, 617. (4 February 2010).

Schaeffer, Francis A. 1975. No Final Conflict: The Bible Without Error in All That It Affirms. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Jesus and the Old Testament

Carl Heinrich Bloch: The Sermon on the Mount. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Recently, I read John Wenham’s essay Our Lord’s View of the Old Testament. Wenham (1913-1996) was an Anglican clergyman whose theological views were mostly conservative.

According to Wenham, Jesus had a very high regard for the Old Testament. In his essay, he quoted several passages that speak of the authority of Scripture:

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matt. 5:18)

It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.” (Luke 16:17)

Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

(These verses are from the NIV. Wenham used an older translation, but that does not change the message.)

According to Wenham,” To Christ the Old Testament was true, authoritative, inspired. To Him the God of the Old Testament was the living God and the teaching of the Old Testament was the teaching of the living God. To Him, what Scripture said, God said.”

Could anyone say that more explicitly?


Wenham. John W. 1953. Our Lord’s View of the Old Testament.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

New research: Birds did not descend from dinosaurs but dinosaurs might have descended from birds

This poster needs changes.

Joel Kontinen

New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences challenges the old Darwinian dogma about birds being the descendants of dinosaurs. The dino-to-bird link has evaded extinction although evidences against it have increased in the past few years. (Read more here, here, here and here.)

Recently, Sankar Chatterjee and R. Jack Templin analyzed how well the Microraptor gui, which was found in 2003, was able to glide, and published their findings in PNAS. Computer simulations indicated that it could not have been able to take to the air from the ground but it could probably have glided down from a tree.

Several studies conducted in the past few years challenge the view that birds are descended from dinosaurs, says John Ruben, a professor of zoology at Oregon State University, in a comment on the study in PNAS. ”There are just too many inconsistencies with the idea that birds had dinosaur ancestors, and this newest study adds to that”, he says. According to Ruben, ”the weight of the evidence is now suggesting that not only did birds not descend from dinosaurs, but that some species now believed to be dinosaurs may have descended from birds.”

Professor Ruben said that many small animals, for instance, velociraptors, which were thought to be dinosaurs, have been flightless birds.

In other words: dinosaurs were dinosaurs and birds are birds.


Chatterjee, Sankar and R. Jack Templin. 2010. Biplane wing planform and flight performance of the feathered dinosaur Microraptor gui. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104:5, 1576-1580 (30 January 9

Study challenges bird-from-dinosaur theory of evolution - was it the other way around? Physorg 9 February 2010

”165 million”-year-old spider looks just like today’s spiders

The spider recently found in China might have spun a web like this. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Researchers have found a spider fossil assumed to be 165 million years old in northern China. Named Eoplectreurys gertschi, it is “120 million” years older than the oldest known spider.

Paul Selden, a palaeontologist at the University of Kansas, and colleagues published the discovery in the journal Naturwissenschaften on February 6. In addition to the exceptionally well preserved spider fossil, they also found salamanders, small mammals, crustaceans and insects.

Selden was astonished at how little spiders have changed since the days of the Eoplectreurys. “Looking at modern ones, you think, well, it’s just a dead ringer,” he said.

Darwinists often define evolution as change but for instance dragonflies, squid, Coelacanths, horseshoe crabs and tuataras have hardly remembered to change, although they have had more time at their disposal than the early mammals who supposedly turned into men.

Once again, we notice how reluctant animals are to evolve. Not even the assumed millions of years have been able to bring about change from one kind to another.


Ghose, Tia. 2010. Stunningly Preserved 165-Million-Year-Old Spider Fossil Found. Wired Science. (9 February)

Selden, Paul A. and Diying Huang 2010.The oldest haplogyne spider (Araneae: Plectreuridae), from the Middle Jurassic of China. Naturwissenschaften (6 February)

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Marine algae are surprisingly clever

Marine algae are familiar with quantum laws. Image courtesy of Eric Guinther, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

For researchers, the quantum computer is still mostly a dream. Marine algae, however, are surprisingly clever. They already apply quantum technology. ”Our result suggests that the energy of absorbed light resides in two places at once”, says professor Greg Scholes, the lead author of a new study on the photosynthesis of marine algae published in the journal Nature.

Computer memories are made up of bits that can only be in one state (either 0 or 1) at a time. Researchers have dreamt of a more sophisticated solution or a quantum computer in which the bits could be in more than one state simultaneously.

Now, research conducted by Greg Scholes, a chemistry professor at the University of Toronto, and colleagues shows that marine algae already make use of quantum technology.

The solutions seen in nature are often surprisingly clever. No wonder that the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

The technology that marine algae use suggests extremely intelligent design.


Kazan, Casey. 2010. Quantum Laws Discovered at Work in Photosynthesis. The Daily Galaxy. (5 February)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

What Darwin Got Wrong About Natural Selection

Charles Darwin’s views are facing strong headwinds. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

“Much of the vast neo-Darwinian literature is distressingly uncritical.” This is how Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini characterise the writings of many evolutionists in New Scientist. For instance, Daniel Dennett, Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins praise natural selection to the skies and fail to notice that it is not all-powerful.

Natural selection plays a decisive role in the writings of Charles Darwin. Darwinists regard it as the mechanism of evolution that helps us to understand how phenotypic traits are passed from one generation to the next. Few have stopped to think about the limits of natural selection.

”Each generation contributes an imperfect copy of its genotype - and thereby of its phenotype - to its successor. Neo-Darwinism suggests that such imperfections arise primarily from mutations in the genomes of members of the species in question.”

Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini suggest that this combination of natural selection and random changes cannot explain how phenotypic traits develop, however.

They compare Darwin’s view to that of B. F. Skinner whose behaviourist psychology overestimated the role of one’s environment in behaviour.

Although Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini are not ready to throw evolution overboard, their view speaks of a type of courage that is seldom seen but is necessary in standing up against Darwinian orthodoxy. A year ago, when New Scientist published its Darwin was wrong cover story, many Darwinists were calling for a boycott of the magazine.


Fodor, Jerry ja Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. 2010.
Survival of the fittest theory: Darwinism's limits. New Scientist 2746 (3 February)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Goodbye, Primordial Soup!

New research moves the origin of life deeper into the oceans. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Charles Darwin dreamt of a warm little pond, hoping that it would somehow cause the very first cell to come into being. Although evolutionists were fascinated by the idea, they were unable to find support for it.

When it became obvious that life could not begin in a warm little pond, scientists toyed with the idea of moving its genesis into deeper waters. In 1929, J. B. S. Haldane, the British geneticist known for the dilemma named after him, proposed the now discarded model. He suggested that UV radiation caused methane, ammonium and water to produce the first organic compounds in the oceans of the early earth.

A fresh study published in BioEssays suggests that it’s time to bury this idea. Lead author Nick Lane of University College London says that this old textbook explanation simply does not work.

Primordial soup is unable to produce life since much more than water is needed.

For supporters of evolution, the problem is by no means insignificant. If evolution is unable to begin, how on earth – or even elsewhere – can it proceed? The new study replaces primordial soup with a deep-sea hydrothermal vent.

However, even this hypothesis is as speculative as Darwin’s original dream. Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) already experimentally disproved the idea that life could come from inanimate matter. In other words, there is no such thing as spontaneous generation. While theorists might use the term abiogenesis instead, the same problem is as relevant as ever.


New Research Rejects 80-Year Theory of 'Primordial Soup' as the Origin of Life. ScienceDaily. 3 February 2010.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

ICR: 40 Years of Creation Research

Joel Kontinen

Forty years ago Dr. Henry Morris, then a hydraulics professor at Virginia Tech, established the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). From a humble beginning, ICR has grown into a remarkable apologistic organisation known throughout the world for its creation research and criticism of evolution.

ICR researchers have made some remarkable breakthroughs. Dr. John Baumgardner for instance discovered that both coal and diamonds contain measurable amounts of carbon-14. The half life of C-14 is approximately 5,700 years so diamonds that are assumed to be millions of years old should not contain any radiocarbon.

ICR has also published tens of books and a layman’s magazine called Acts & Facts. Last year it participated in making the documentary The Mysterious Islands. ICR has an educational centre in Dallas, Texas, and for 16 years operated the Museum of Creation and Earth History at Santee, California. The museum is currently run by the Life and Light Foundation.


DeYoung, Don. 2005. Thousands … Not Billions. Green Forest, AZ: Master Books.

The web pages of ICR

Numbers, Ronald L. 2006. The Creationists. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Friday, 5 February 2010

IPCC is meeting strong headwinds

The Himalayan glaciers are not melting as fast as IPCC anticipated. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

It’s not far from a Nobel to a fiasco. Just over two years ago, in late 2007, Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were basking in the limelight.

Their reputation has not fared well recently.

Now, many critics are calling for IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri to step down for publishing incorrect data on the melting of the Himalayan glaciers. Moreover, he has ties to companies that would benefit from new climate policies.

Climate change advocates suffered another setback when the British Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) disclosed that researchers at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia broke the law by refusing to let climate critics have a look at their reports.


Schiermeier, Quirin. 2010. IPCC flooded by criticism. Nature news (2 February)

News briefing: 4 February 2010. Nature News.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

New winds from the fossil world

This is what is left of Lucy. New research cautions palaeontologists not to make too hasty interpretations.

Joel Kontinen

A new study challenges vertebrate evolution. Palaeontologists Mark Purnell, Robert Sansom and Sarah Gabbott at the University of Leicester, UK, published a report on their experiments in Nature. Their research changes our view of fossils.

Purnell and his colleagues killed amphioxus (Branchiostoma lanceolatum) and lampreys (Lampetra fluviatilis) for their experiment and observed how they decayed. They noticed that the traits that were the primary characteristics of these species disappeared rather quickly.

According to Nature, the research throws light on the development of chordates (Chordata), in particular the Cambrian animals. Although the report explains the differences between species in a typical Darwinian way, it suggests that researchers have often jumped to conclusions. In other words, they have seen what they wanted to see.

Scientists will probably have to discard some of their old ”discoveries”. The paper suggests that researchers should refrain from too hasty conclusions to avoid disasters like the one involving the Ida fossil.

Nature also produced a short video on the study:


Cressey, Daniel. 2010. Something rotten in the state of palaeontology. Nature News (31 January)

Sansom, Robert S., Sarah E. Gabbott and Mark A. Purnell. 2010. Non-random decay of chordate characters causes bias in fossil interpretation. Nature (published online 31 January.)