Monday, 30 June 2014

Ant Rafts Inspire Robot Designers

Fire ants. Image courtesy of Stephen Ausmus, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

David Hu, a mechanical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and his colleagues published an interesting study in the Journal of Experimental Biology on how ants build rafts.

According to Nature news,

Hu and his team found that the ants had grabbed hold of one another with adhesive pads on their legs, which they stretched out to create pockets of air. They also tended to orient themselves perpendicularly to one another, distributing their weight and creating a light, buoyant structure. The formation seems to take advantage of the ants’ different sizes, with smaller ants slotting neatly in between larger ones to add more connections. Each ant averaged 14 connections to fellow ants.”

The research also has a biomimicry perspective, as the Nature news article suggests that the ants’ raft-building strategy could inspire robot designers to construct better robots.

In other words, the ants’ social networking solution speaks of intelligent design, or perhaps even of creation.

The Bible characterises ants as intelligent animals, something that lazy people should learn from.


Marris, Emma. 2014. Secrets of ant rafts revealed. Nature News. (11 June).

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Intelligent Design in Butterflies: Magnetic Compass Guides Their Flight

Image courtesy of Kenneth Dwain Harrelson, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Monarch butterflies have a tiny brain but they are by no means stupid. On the contrary, they are astoundingly clever. A news item in Nature shows us how:

On overcast days, monarch butterflies use a magnetic compass to find their way south, making them one of only a few migratory insects known to sense Earth's magnetic field. The eastern North American monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) use the Sun to guide them from southern Canada and the United States towards Mexico, but they still manage to fly in the correct direction on cloudy days.”

Steven Reppert at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and colleagues found this out by using a flight simulator, which was “inside an artificial magnetic field.”

Now, before anyone says evolution did it, one might reasonably conclude that this is an example of an intelligently designed system in nature.


Magnetic compass guides butterflies. Nature 510, 446 (26 June, 2014).

Thursday, 26 June 2014

“Science Is Used as Propaganda to Intimidate People, ” Fermilab Physicist Admits

Propaganda has thrived in many times and cultures. Ours is no exception. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Steve Krstulovich, a particle physicist with Fermilab, had some interesting things to say at a recent faith and science conference at Evangel University in Missouri.

He spoke about particle physics and cosmology, for instance on string theory, gravitational waves, and black holes:

"At Harvard, string theory was called 'postmodern physics.' If there was to be no more reliance on experiment to check theories, and math sufficed to explore laws of nature, we had entered the period of postmodern science."

He went on to say:

Some sociologists and those in the humanities have claimed that the scientific community is no more rational or objective than any other community of human beings. They argue that claims about how science works are mainly propaganda designed to intimidate people into giving them power, and they say that science is driven by the same political and sociological forces that drive people in other fields.”

Quite an admission. When it comes to Darwinian evolution, the use of propaganda is very obvious. Storytelling often trumps facts.

“Postmodern physics” seems to follow the trail that Darwin and his followers have blazed.


Faith and Science Conference: Genesis and Genetics. Evangel University, Springfield, Missouri June 23 – 25, 2014.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Fossil Wars: What Do Fossils Really Tell Us?

Scientists seldom agree on fossils because they have to be interpreted.

Joel Kontinen

Interpreting and dating fossils is an intriguing game. In 1990 J. Shreeve wrote in Discoverer magazine: ”Everybody knows fossils are fickle; bones will sing any song you want to hear.”

Others would agree with this statement. In 1996 science writer Michael Lemonick expressed the same thought in somewhat different words: “Paleontology is much like politics: passions run high, and it’s easy to draw very different conclusions from the same set of facts.”

Paleontology is the science of fossils. When scientists dig up old bones they have to make a number of assumptions. They usually interpret the evidence according to a Darwinian framework.

Now, if they use an incorrect framework, the result will also be incorrect. For instance, so great is the belief in millions of years that only a few will dare to question this “truth”, even though researchers have found soft tissue in tens of fossils.

There is a more logical interpretation: the fossils cannot be that old. Most fossils were probably formed during the great flood described in Genesis.


Michael D. Lemonick. 1996. Parenthood dino-style. Time, January 8, page 48.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

“Is Richard Dawkins the Ultimate Grumpy Old Man?” The Telegraph Asks

Are fairy tales pernicious? Richard Dawkins seems to think so. Paul Friedrich Meyerheim (1889): The Frog Prince. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Richard Dawkins obviously likes being in the limelight regardless of what kind of limelight it happens to be. Recently, he made headlines in the UK press (and elsewhere) by issuing a warning on the dangers of reading fairy tales to children.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival, Dawkins said:

"I think it's rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism – we get enough of that anyway.

Even fairy tales, the ones we all love, with wizards or princesses turning into frogs or whatever it was. There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable

Now, Darwinian evolution is statistically improbable, but obviously that does not prevent him from believing it as truth.

And without Darwinian storytelling there would be no evolution.

Moreover, some Darwinian stories are very fishy.

Dawkins believes that 400 million years ago, our ancestors were fish. And 300 million years ago they were frogs. This, of course, is statistically not only improbable but also impossible, but it does not seem to bother him.

An article in The Telegraph says that Dawkins “has completed his transmutation into a parody of himself… in recent years it has been like watching Michael Jackson gradually become weirder and weirder.”

Dawkins also took on Father Christmas a.k.a. Santa Claus as an example of superstition.

It seems that the only kind of fairy stories that Dawkins approves of are the Darwinian kind even though they are statistically and biologically impossible. But belief in them does not require faith in a transcendent Creator, who sets the rules.

This, I think, is the real issue.

In the Telegraph article, Jake Wallis Simons makes a different conclusion:

But then, perhaps I’m taking Dawkins too seriously. In his early dotage – he is 73 – he has clearly allowed himself to become the country’s foremost grumpy old man, which in itself is a great British tradition. In the final analysis, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

I would think that there is more to it. Dawkins simply abhors anything that might suggest that there is a Creator to whom he is accountable and he tries to deny it at any cost.


Simons, Jake Wallis. 2014. Is Richard Dawkins the ultimate grumpy old man? The Telegraph. (5 June).

Friday, 20 June 2014

Amazing Design: The Human Eye Inspires Better Cameras

Engineers are mimicking the amazing design of the human eye. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).

Joel Kontinen

Richard Dawkins is fond of using the bad design argument for the human eye. He has said that no engineer would come up with such a lousy design with the inverted retina.

Eye specialists disagree with Dawkins. They know what they are saying. Now, engineers at Sony are using the human eye as a model for constructing better cameras.

According to an article in IEEE Spectrum, Sony engineers “have created a set of curved CMOS image sensors using a ‘bending machine’ of their own construction. The result is a simpler lens system and higher sensitivity, Kazuichiro Itonaga, a device manager at Sony’s R &D Platform ...reported.”

“A curved CMOS sensor has a few advantages over a planar sensor, Itonaga said. Because of the geometry, it can be paired with a flatter lens and a larger aperture, which lets in more light. Photodiodes at the periphery of a sensor array will be bent toward the center, which means light rays will hit them straight on instead of obliquely

Sony engineers believe that curved systems are 1.4 times more sensitive at the centre of the sensor and twice as sensitive at the edge.
Obviously, they do not think that the human eye is designed poorly.

This is yet another instance of biomimicry or copying a wonderful solution we see in nature.

Instead of the haphazard products of blind Darwinian processes, engineers see intelligently designed systems in nature.


Courtland, Rachel. 2014. Sony Creates Curved CMOS Sensors That Mimic the Eye. IEEE Spectrum (12 June).

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Our Brains May Be Designed to Help Us Learn Rapidly, Research Suggests

Our internal music might be more pertinent than that we actually hear. “The musical hum of our brainwaves” may help us to analyse information rapidly, new research suggests.

Joel Kontinen

There’s an interesting article in New Scientist on our ability to understand that what we hear and see:

Our brain's ability to rapidly interpret and analyse new information may lie in the musical hum of our brainwaves. We continuously take in information about the world but establishing new neural connections and pathways – the process thought to underlie memory formation – is too slow to account for our ability to learn rapidly.”

The article reported on research conducted by Evan Antzoulatos and Earl Miller at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They investigated the role of brainwaves in learning.

While their research was done on monkeys, it may also be applicable to human learning.

According to Miller, "the research demonstrates that the music the brain produces may actually be central to how it encodes specific thoughts.”

This could help us understand how the very first man Adam could comprehend that what God told him. In addition, Adam was able to name all the land animals that the Creator brought to him.

The human brain is a marvel. As far as we know, there is nothing like it.

The brain is proof positive that we are wonderfully and fearfully made, as the ancient Psalmist put it.


Hitchings, Lauren. 2014. Our humming brains help us learn rapidly. New Scientist (18 June).

Monday, 16 June 2014

Amazing Preservation of Soft Stomach Content for “47 Million Years” in Tiny Bird

A Green Violet-ear is a modern hummingbird. Researchers have found the stomach contents of an 8- centimetre-long ancient bird. Image courtesy of Wikipedia (GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2).

Joel Kontinen

How long can a bird’s stomach content be preserved?

Researchers at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, report that they have discovered the stomach content of a “47-million-year-old” bird that was roughly 8 centimetres long and weighed 5–10 grams.

Gerald Mayr and Volker Wilde write in the journal Biology Letters:

Birds are important pollinators, but the evolutionary history of ornithophily (bird pollination) is poorly known. Here, we report a skeleton of the avian taxon Pumiliornis from the middle Eocene of Messel in Germany with preserved stomach contents containing numerous pollen grains of an eudicotyledonous angiosperm. The skeletal morphology of Pumiliornis is in agreement with this bird having been a, presumably nectarivorous, flower-visitor. It represents the earliest and first direct fossil evidence of flower-visiting by birds and indicates a minimum age of 47 million years for the origin of bird–flower interactions. As Pumiliornis does not belong to any of the modern groups of flower-visiting birds, the origin of ornithophily in some angiosperm lineages may have predated that of their extant avian pollinators.”

It seems that almost every month we hear about a spectacular find hailing from tens if not hundreds of millions of years ago about soft tissue or something else that could hardly be preserved well for so long.

This would call for questioning the evolutionary dogma of millions of years.


Mayr, Gerald and Volker Wilde. 2014. Eocene fossil is earliest evidence of flower-visiting by birds. Biology Letters 10 (5) (May 2014).

Saturday, 14 June 2014

“100-Million-Year” Old Fossil Ichthyosaur Embryos and Other Soft Tissue Challenge Millions of Years Dogma

Stenopterygius quadriscissus was an ichthyosaur that looked like a modern dolphin. Image courtesy of Nobu Tamura, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

How long can soft tissue survive? Since the initial discovery of red blood cells in a T. rex leg bone by Mary Schweitzer in 1997, researchers have found collagen, haemoglobin, elastin and laminin in dinosaur fossils.

Blood cells and collagen should not last tens of millions of years. However, many scientists are reluctant to let go of the idea of millions of years of evolution.

They have also found soft tissue in marine reptiles and in mammoth bone, for instance.

According to Live Science,

Scientists found 46 specimens from four different species of extinct ichthyosaurs. These creatures, whose Greek name means ‘fish lizards,’ were a group of large, fast-swimming marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, about 245 million to 90 million years ago

The largest ichthyosaur skeleton unearthed in Chile measures more than 16 feet (5 meters) long. The skeletons were extremely well preserved — some even retained soft tissues. The researchers also found fossil embryos inside a female specimen. They assigned the fossils to the family Ophthalmosauridae

Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, a palaeontologist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and colleagues published their findings in the journal Geological Society of America Bulletin.

The discovery of soft tissue in so old fossils challenges the evolutionary belief in millions of years.


Lewis, Tanya. 2014. Ancient 'Fish Lizard' Graveyard Discovered Beneath Melting Glacier. Live Science (May 28).

Thursday, 12 June 2014

”Biologists Defend Natural Selection with Near-Religious Fervour,” Science Writer Says

The peppered moth (Biston betularia) is often presented as an example of natural selection. Image courtesy of Cyndy Sims Parr, Flickr.

Joel Kontinen

Many scientists have grave doubts about the power of Darwinian mechanisms (i.e. random mutations and natural selection) to explain the diversity we see in the animal world. Others continue to promote them for want of anything better (that would not hint of design or creation).

Science writer Philip Ball has an interesting article in Aeon magazine on the dogmatism with which some biologists defend natural selection:

Might it even be that the marvellous simplicity and power of natural selection strikes some biologists as so beautiful an idea – an island of order in a field otherwise beset with caveats and contradictions – that it must be defended at any cost? Why else would attempts to expose its limitations, exceptions and compromises still ignite disputes pursued with near-religious fervour?”

Ball, who is an evolutionist, seems to think that it is time to do away with theories that do not explain reality:

Scientists prize elegant theories, but a taste for simplicity is a treacherous guide. And it doesn’t even look good.”

I would agree. Darwinian selection is mostly based on 19th century biology. Its time has definitely passed. In the wi-fi era, design is obvious. In other words, things work because they were designed to work. This also applies to biological systems.


Ball, Philip. 2014. Beauty ≠ truth. Aeon magazine (19 May).

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Denialists, Deniers and Other Examples of Orwellian Newspeak in New Scientist

The "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart." A recent article in New Scientist uses a strategy reminiscent of the one that East German authorities used. Image courtesy of Thierry Noir, via Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

In recent history, totalitarian states mastered the Orwellian art of making words mean the opposite of what we might assume at first glance. In Berlin, the wall separating the two parts of city was called the "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart" (Antifaschistischer Schutzwall). As history would tell us, its main purpose was to keep East Berliners from escaping to the west.

In New Scientist, Chris Mooney laments what he sees as “the science deniers dismissing inconvenient truths,” by which he primarily means Darwinian evolution and human-induced climate change.

Lumping all kind of critical thinking together is hardly very scientific. Most people who accept biblical creation will think that vaccines are necessary.

Mr. Mooney thinks that the TV-series Cosmos will hardly convince the “deniers”. He is probably right as Neil deGrasse Tyson made a number of scientific and historic blunders in the series.

He presents more bizarre claims: “And as for the young-Earth creationists? We all cheered when Bill Nye the Science Guy demolished their arguments in a televised debate, but we know that none of them changed their minds.”

Bill Nye hardly demolished Ken Ham’s arguments. He mostly ignored them. In contrast, Answers in Genesis and other creationist organisations have demolished all of Nye’s arguments.

So, who are the real science denialists? Both Nye and Tyson denied scientific and historical facts. But, then, they obviously denied the “right” facts – as seen from a purely naturalistic perspective in which there is no room for the supernatural but naturalistic miracles run the show as they cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.

This, we might know, is a form of denialism.


Mooney, Chris. 2014. Making science cool won't win over the denialists. New Scientist 2972 (9 June).

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Amazing Design Feature in Bees: They Might Build a Mental Map, Researchers Suggest

Researchers “have long marvelled at the complex navigation abilities of bees”. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Bees have tiny brains but when it comes to finding places, they are amazingly clever. According to Nature news, “Researchers have long marveled at the complex navigation abilities of bees.”

Now, it seems that they have even more cause for marvelling:

Bees, like birds and butterflies, use the Sun as a compass for navigation, whereas mammals typically find their way by remembering familiar landmarks on a continuous mental map. However, the latest research suggests that bees also use this type of map, despite their much smaller brain size. The work adds a new dimension to complex bee-navigation abilities that have long captivated researchers.”

They believe that bees actually build a cognitive map that helps them to navigate:

’The surprise comes for many people that such a tiny little brain is able to form such a rich memory described as a cognitive map,’ says co-author Randolf Menzel, a neurobiologist at the Free University of Berlin."

Menzel and his colleagues published their research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They found out that bees “can find their way back to their hives without relying solely on the Sun. Instead, they seem to use a 'cognitive map' that is made up of memorized landscape snapshots that direct them home.”

The bees’ ability speaks of extremely clever design – something that blind Darwinian processes cannot bring about. However, there is a book called Genesis that describes the creative prowess of the One who made the heaven and earth and everything in them.


Morrison, Jessica. 2014. Bees build mental maps to get home. Nature news (2 June).

Friday, 6 June 2014

New Challenge to Neo-Darwinism: Scientists Launch New Site Critical of Darwinian Mechanisms

Biology is more complicated than proponents of Darwinian evolution assume. Image courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.

Joel Kontinen

An international group of well-known scientists have launched The Third Way, a new website critical of Darwinian mechanisms. While they do not embrace creation or intelligent design, they are dissatisfied with evolutionary explanations that often rely on “sheer luck”.

The majority of the 17 contributors to the site are university professors and researchers. They include James A. Shapiro, Denis Noble, Eva Jablonka and Eugene Koonin.

They state, among other things:

Neo-Darwinism … has elevated Natural Selection into a unique creative force that solves all the difficult evolutionary problems.”

They do not believe that the evidence supports this kind of thinking:

The DNA record does not support the assertion that small random mutations are the main source of new and useful variations. We now know that the many different processes of variation involve well regulated cell action on DNA molecules.”

They go on to say:

Genomes merge, shrink and grow, acquire new DNA components, and modify their structures by well-documented cellular and biochemical processes.”

It seems that the time when Darwinian evolution was the only accepted scientific explanation for all kinds of phenomena is past and gone.


The Third Way

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Koalas Use a Clever Strategy to Keep Cool

Koalas are intelligent animals.

Joel Kontinen

When the day gets hotter, koalas tend to cling tightly to tree trunks. Researchers only recently found out that on hot days, the trunks were much cooler than the air. They discovered this through using infrared cameras.

Koalas had known this all along.

According to New Scientist:

Koalas spend a lot of their time asleep, clinging to tree branches. But far from being lazy, it seems tree-hugging is an efficient way to keep cool. The trick should ensure that koalas lose half as much water through evaporation as they otherwise would.”

From a creation perspective, we would not expect animals to be stupid. We would expect them to be able to flourish even in environments that are challenging. Instead of blind Darwinian processes, koalas bear the hallmarks of intelligent design.

Koalas present a huge problem for Darwinian evolution, as they seem to have been koalas for as long as there is any evidence of them in the fossil record.


Slezak, Michael. 2014. Overheated koalas show tree-hugging is cool, man. New Scientist. (4 June).

Monday, 2 June 2014

Universal Genetic Code – Another Darwinian Icon Falls

When it comes to genetics, stop does not always mean stop. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Evolutionist Karl Giberson lamented that 2013 was a terrible year for evolution. It seems that 2014 is on its way to becoming an even worse year for dogmatic Darwinians.

Richard Dawkins, for instance, has used the universality of the genetic code as an argument for evolution.

A recent paper in Science busted this icon:

The canonical genetic code is assumed to be deeply conserved across all domains of life with very few exceptions. By scanning 5.6 trillion base pairs of metagenomic data for stop codon reassignment events, we detected recoding in a substantial fraction of the >1700 environmental samples examined. We observed extensive opal and amber stop codon reassignments in bacteriophages and of opal in bacteria. Our data indicate that bacteriophages can infect hosts with a different genetic code and demonstrate phage-host antagonism based on code differences.”

Conserved is evo-speak for no change. Stop codons are three-letter words that instruct the ribosome to stop making a particular protein.

The researchers noticed that sometimes stop might actully mean go. Genetic codes turned out to be much more varied than they had assumed.

And Darwinians lost an icon.


Ivanova, Natalia N. et al. 2014. Stop codon reassignments in the wild. Science 344 (6186): 909–913 (23 May).