Tuesday, 31 May 2016
A three-year old boy fell into a moat in the gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio, USA. A huge male gorilla named Harambe caught him by the hand and was about to drag him away.
With people shouting, the gorilla was agitated and could easily have hurt the toddler. Harambe weighted around 200 kilos (450 pounds) and, as male gorillas tend to have six to eight times the strength of an adult man, the boy was in real danger.
The zoo staff reacted quickly and shot the gorilla. The boy was unharmed, but activists were not pleased with the death of the animal. 295,854 people have signed the petition Justice for Harambe, and some would have wanted to imprison the boy’s parents for not watching after him more closely.
Thane Maynard, the zoo director, said shooting the gorilla was the right decision.
The BBC describes what happened:
“Video footage of Saturday's incident shows the gorilla dragging the child through the moat in its enclosure.
Mr Maynard described how Harambe ‘swished him around in the water by the ankle’ then carried him on to land.
The gorilla ‘wasn't trying to eat the child,’ he said, ‘but he was disorientated and wanted to get the child to stay there’.
The screams from the crowd were adding to Harambe's agitation, the zoo director said.”
The BBC also interviewed US wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin, who said that tranquillising the animal could have taken many minutes and required multiple darts.
Harambe would most probably have killed the toddler, if the sharpshooter hadn’t finished him off first.
People brought flowers to a gorilla statue at the zoo. In a world where evolutionary thinking colours the thoughts of many people, it often seems that activists have more concern for animal rights than human wrongs.
For instance, many individuals became more agitated on hearing about the killing of a single lion with a name than of the slaughter of many nameless human babies.
And then there’s the perpetual struggle to get legal rights for chimpanzees and other apes.
BBC news. 2016. Harambe gorilla killing: Zoo defends shooting. (30 May).
Sunday, 29 May 2016
Geological features can be formed – and destroyed – in almost an instant.
Recently, the BBC reported on a massive landslide in the Zion Canyon that brought down “some 286 million cubic metres of debris - enough to cover New York's Central Park to a depth of about 80m.”
It reshaped the canyon.
Dr. Jeff Moore, who wrote a paper on the events with his colleagues at the University of Utah, thinks the catastrophe occurred some 4,800 years ago, which would be the approximate time of Noah’s global Flood.
However, since radiometric dating methods tend to give inflated dates, this massive landslide could well have taken place during the post-Flood ice age.
What is important is that we don’t have to wait for millions of years for landscapes to change. Just think of Surtsey and Mount Saint Helens, for instance.
We see many other challenges for the millions of years dogma in mega tsunamis, precariously balanced rocks and the imposing Natural Archway in the Sahara Desert.
Amos, Jonathan. 2016. Geologists revisit giant Zion landslide. BBC news (27 May).
Friday, 27 May 2016
"Evolution, to me, is the best designer of all time,” says Frances Arnold, Professor of Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), who was recently awarded the Millennium Technology Prize for pioneering an approach Darwinians call directed evolution.
The name of this approach is an oxymoron. Darwin’s watchmaker is supposed to be blind, as Richard Dawkins would say.
The BBC explains what this is all about:
“With her engineering background, Prof Arnold wanted to make new, useful, problem-solving proteins. So she took her cue from the way nature does the same thing.”
It’s a long way from nature to evolution. They’re definitely not the same thing. The amazing features we see in the animal kingdom look as if they are intelligently designed.
The obvious conclusion: they are.
But the BBC article goes on to quote professor Arnold:
"I looked at it and said, well, nature didn't actually design enzymes... How does this happen? You make mutations randomly, you look through a large number of things for the ones that have the properties you're interested in, then you repeat the process.”
This is a bit problematic, as mutations are hardly ever beneficial. And they might not even be random.
Prof. Arnold continues:
“And you iterate, accumulating beneficial changes over multiple generations - pretty much like we've done for cats, dogs, cows, chickens, you name it."
There is a name for this: it’s called artificial selection, also known as animal breeding.
It is neither random nor Darwinian.
What Prof. Arnold does might be very beneficial, but it is definitely not directed evolution.
Evolutionists have tried to squirm away from what is obvious by proposing more or less bizarre solutions, for instance, that natural selection is akin to predestination, evolution is smart, complexity just happens or evolution was experimenting.
None of them address the serious drawbacks of neo-Darwinism.
Webb, Jonathan. 2016. Evolutionary engineer Frances Arnold wins €1m tech prize. BBC News (24 May).
Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Popular science journalism tends to produce eye-catching headlines. Reporting on a recent attempt by Vladimir Airapetian at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland to solve the faint young Sun paradox is no exception.
Cranky young sun could have kickstarted life on Earth, New Scientist informs us.
Belief in a billions of years old solar system is fraught with problems that don’t easily go away.
A major puzzle is the faint young Sun paradox. Let us listen to New Scientist:
“About 4 billion years ago, the sun was only 70 per cent as bright as it is today, which should have made the Earth a frozen snowball. But geological evidence shows that ancient Earth was warm enough for liquid water.”
Some have proposed that a habitable Earth is the result of many lucky turns, but that hardly counts as a scientific view.
Now, Airapetian proposes that giant solar flares might somehow have got passed Earth's magnetic field. Having reached the atmosphere, they could destroy molecular nitrogen:
“Nitrogen is an essential component for life on Earth, but the young Earth probably only had its molecular form, N2, which is useless for life. Solar particles from flares could split these molecules apart, allowing nitrogen to take more biologically useful configurations. Nitrous oxide, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, could have kept the climate cosy, for example.”
Here the worldview of the researcher (and the reporter) runs the show. And more is to come:
“As a bonus, similar reactions would have also made hydrogen cyanide, which can further react to form organic molecules like amino acids.”
However, chemicals don’t turn into life. Every attempt to solve the naturalistic origin of life dilemma has been an utter failure, as life only comes from life.
Sokol, Joshua. 2016. Cranky young sun could have kickstarted life on Earth. New Scientist (23 May).
Monday, 23 May 2016
Evolution in action is a catchphrase that Darwinists use when they think that they can see small changes within one and the same species. It often has to do with finches turning into finches or bacteria turning into bacteria.
But when that species happens to be us (H. sapiens), it is bound to make bold and misleading headlines.
According to an article in Science:
“ ’Being able to look at selection in action is exciting,’ says Molly Przeworski, an evolutionary biologist at Columbia University. The studies show how the human genome quickly responds to new conditions in subtle but meaningful ways, she says. ‘It’s a game-changer in terms of understanding evolution.’ ”
So what happened?
Genomic studies show that there are more blond and blue-eyed Brits now than in Roman times and they tend to be taller than what their ancestors were some 2,000 years ago.
But is this evolution in the orthodox Darwinian sense of the word? While the Brits might have been slightly shorter and more dark-haired in the beginning, they were humans, just as they were at the end of the story.
Most evolution headlines have amounted to mere speculations. Here are some examples:
· Human evolution is over.
· Eating meat made us human.
· The human hand is primitive.
And it is quite a stretch to claim that humans are evolving, when the research merely looked at Anglo-Saxons. I don’t see such changes in me, for instance. While I’m probably a bit taller than the average legionary (ok, maybe some change here), my hair (brown) and eyes (greyish-green with a touch of brown) have obviously forgotten to evolve with the times.
But, then, I’m not British, even though I like my 5 o’clock tea (milk but no sugar, just like the Queen). Or am I digressing?
Pennisi, Elizabeth. 2016. Humans are still evolving—and we can watch it happen. Science. (17 May).
Saturday, 21 May 2016
Complex Beauty in Sunflowers: Fibonacci Numbers and Even More Complicated Patterns Defy Darwinian Explanations
The more we get to know about nature, the more complex it appears to be. Think about sunflowers, for instance. Commenting on a recent paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, an article in Science says:
“Mathematical biologists love sunflowers. The giant flowers are one of the most obvious—as well as the prettiest—demonstrations of a hidden mathematical rule shaping the patterns of life: the Fibonacci sequence, a set in which each number is the sum of the previous two (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, ...), found in everything from pineapples to pine cones.”
This kind of beauty is also seen in us.
The Royal Society paper reports on a citizen science experiment, with data on 657 sunflowers.
The researchers also “found more complex Fibonacci structures not previously reported in sunflowers,” which means that they could not use mechanistic models to explain this beauty.
This suggests that the beauty in the flowers is much more complex than we thought. Darwinists will have a hard time in trying to explain how such fine-tuning could have evolved.
Bohannon, John. 2016. Sunflowers show complex Fibonacci sequences. Science (17 May).
Thursday, 19 May 2016
We knew trees and other plants display signs of intelligence, but we obviously never expected them to sleep.
Now, however, New Scientist has an intriguing article on “sleeping” trees:
“They don’t snore, but might creak during their slumbers. For the first time, trees have been shown to undergo physical changes at night that can be likened to sleep, or at least to day-night cycles that have been observed experimentally in smaller plants.”
While it might be too early to say that trees actually sleep, they obviously do seem to lessen their activity, at least a little:
“Branches of birch trees have now been seen drooping by as much as 10 centimetres at the tips towards the end of the night.”
There might be an obvious explanation for this:
“Photosynthesis stops in the dark, so this in itself may explain why the branches droop,” says András Zlinszky (Centre for Ecological Research in Tihany, Hungary), who recently wrote a paper on the nocturnal life of birches with Eetu Puttonen (Finnish Geospatial Research Institute) and other colleagues.
However, we do know that trees and other plants are not dumb. Smart plants use clever tricks to avoid being eaten, and the Venus Flytrap seems to be able to count.
Professor Richard Karban (University of California, Davis) has said, “‘Plants communicate, signaling within [themselves], eavesdropping on neighboring individuals, and exchanging information with other organisms’. They have adaptive responses that, if they happened at speeds humans understand, would reveal them to be ‘brilliant at solving problems related to their existence.’ ”
This does not sound like a Darwinian world at all. The real world is full of intelligent features. So perhaps trees do sleep. Who knows?
Coghlan, Andy. 2016. Trees seen resting branches while ‘asleep’ for the first time New Scientist (18 May).
Tuesday, 17 May 2016
When an article has a title like Molecular ‘Midwives’ Helped Give Birth to RNA, we might perhaps not expect to read about empirical science, but then the origin of life business never was much about science.
“It is easy to speculate that some other molecule came before RNA, but determining the structure of molecules that might actually have come before RNA is a major challenge for chemists.”
This is how Nicholas Hud, head of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for Chemical Evolution, introduces a paper he recently wrote with his colleagues.
And 'speculate' is no doubt the right word for the job. Naturalistic origin of life research has always been a more or less messy affair.
Hud and colleagues put their hope in proflavine, which according to Astrobiology Magazine is “a small planar molecule that binds between adjacent base pairs of a DNA, can dramatically increase the stability of DNA or RNA in the lab when single strands of the complex molecules are synthetically bound to an unnatural nucleic acid.”
Even then they are light years away from solving the elusive naturalistic conundrum, hence the need for mythological midwives.
Naturalistic theories of the origin and early evolution of life tend to share a common feature: they don’t work.
Honest researchers will admit that there is no solution in sight for a naturalistic origin of life.
From Darwin’s warm little pond to hydrothermal vents and panspermia, they have turned out to be utter failures.
Chemicals just don’t turn into life. DNA is far too complicated to have arisen in the beginning, so some have put their hope on RNA instead.
The problem is that even RNA is too complicated to have come about through Darwinian mechanisms, hence the need for a pre-RNA world, with comets or meteors bringing life’s building blocks to Earth.
But how did they get on board comets or meteors? Merely pushing pre-RNA molecules into outer space does not explain their origin.
Looks like it is time to remind ourselves of the words of Genesis: “In the beginning God created…”
Howell, Elizabeth. 2016. Molecular ‘Midwives’ Helped Give Birth to RNA. Astrobiology Magazine (16 May).
Sunday, 15 May 2016
Evolution would be boring without a never-ending stream of new just so stories that often contradict each other, but they do keep on making headlines across the popular media.
Several Darwinian tales focus on eating, mostly meat.
Some others have to do with our body parts, such as our hands or brains.
A fresh story features our ability to use fat. As usual, the journal Nature sees a Darwinian connection to it. The subheading of its editorial – Humans’ exceptional ability to burn through calories fuels our evolution – already suggests what is to come.
Humans burn more energy than chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas or orangutans. As Nature puts it, we have
“evolved to use more energy. We are the original consumer society: our increased demand for physiological energy is driven by our more efficient way of walking, the energy-dense foods such as meat and tubers we have found, and the methods of cooking we have invented and adopted.”
A fundamental problem with Darwinian stories is that the data do not necessarily support the conclusions that seem to have been added afterwards, just to keep the evolution community happy.
In this case, the conclusion ('humans are evolved apes') does not follow from the data ('humans burn more energy than apes'). It is a worldview-based interpretation, and a rather clumsy one at that.
Contrary to what evolutionists claim, we are very different from chimpanzees and other apes. Even Nature is willing to acknowledge that the Y chromosomes of the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and humans are ”horrendously different from each other.”
Many other details, such as the golden ratio in us, suggest that we are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made, just like the Bible tells us.
Fat lot of good. Nature 533, 8 (5 May 2016).
Friday, 13 May 2016
NASA has announced that its Kepler space observatory has found 1,284 new exoplanets, including roughly 550 Earth-sized ones. Of these, nine may orbit their star in the habitable zone or at a distance at which water is expected to be in liquid form but not too hot to evaporate.
Commenting on the discovery, Andrew Norton, Professor of Astrophysics Education at The Open University, writes:
“The latest announcement is an impressive piece of work, and the discovery of so many new exoplanets is stunning. It is increasingly clear that planets orbit stars as a rule – not an exception. While astronomers still haven’t found an exact twin of the Earth, the rapid pace of discoveries is surely a sign that it is just a matter of time until they do.”
But what if Earth really is unique, as some researchers have suggested, and there’s no place like home elsewhere in the universe?
The wildest speculations have put the number of Earth-like planets at over 100 billion billion, but that is based more on wishful thinking than on facts.
We should keep in mind that Venus and Mars orbit the Sun in the habitable zone, and just look how habitable they are.
Moreover, the goldilocks zone around some stars may be smaller than we assumed, and some habitable planets might not be habitable after all.
Research suggests that even Kepler-438 B, once touted as the most Earth-like exoplanet, might not be habitable.
Norton, Andrew. 2016. More than 1,000 new exoplanets discovered – but still no Earth twin. The Conversation (11 May).
Wednesday, 11 May 2016
Monkeys are not very fond of swimming or even rafting over vast stretches of open seas. But if evolution were true, they had to get from Asia to Africa and back again several times, regardless of their dislike of navigation.
A new study published in the journal Science on tarsier fossils found in China proposes that Asian tarsiers must have crossed the waters separating Asia and Africa, as evolutionists believe that "40 million years ago" Africa was an island continent.
Evolutionists believe that modern monkeys evolved from tarsiers.
Previous research has also suggested that tarsiers had to be excellent mariners.
According to a Darwinian story, African monkeys later crossed the ocean into South America and from there they eventually made it over to Central America, after an ocean adventure of at least 160 kilometres (100 miles).
Science Daily reports that one of the species recently discovered, named Oligotarsius rarus, “was ‘incredibly similar’ to the modern tarsier found today only in the Philippine and Indonesian islands.”
K. Christopher Beard, senior curator at the University of Kansas' Biodiversity Institute, a co-author of the paper, says: "The fossil teeth described in this paper are nearly identical to those of modern tarsiers. Research shows that modern tarsiers are pretty much living fossils -- those things have been doing what they do ever since time immemorial, as far as we can tell."
A tarsier is anything but primitive; it can rotate its head 180 degrees and it communicates with other tarsiers by using ultrasound.
University of Kansas. 2016. Six new fossil species form 'snapshot' of primates stressed by ancient climate change. Science Daily. (5 May).
Monday, 9 May 2016
We see beauty in the most unexpected places, from huge nebulae to tiny spiders. We see it in flowers, and even in ourselves.
And we shouldn’t forget the deep seas. Recently, NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer vessel has been examining the Marianas Trench, using an unmanned submarine for photography.
A few weeks ago researchers were able to see a “stunningly beautiful jellyfish” at a depth of some 3,700 metres (12,000 feet).
While the creature is weird, it is definitively a jellyfish and not an alien. It confirms the after its kind principle introduced in the Book of Genesis.
If it were a Darwinian world, we would hardly expect to see such beauty so deep below the surface, as it does not have any survival value.
Okeanos Explorer. 2016. NOAA.
Saturday, 7 May 2016
Dinosaurs in Alaska. Billions of dead nautiloids in the Grand Canyon. Turtle fossils in the Andes. A whale graveyard in the Atacama Desert in Chile. A fossilised tropical forest in Norway. Huge aquifers in arid Northern Kenya. Mountain gaps in Australia.
The most logical explanation for these phenomena is the global flood of Noah’s day.
The same could be said of natural formations that defy the idea of millions of years, such as the Natural Archway in Sahara.
The latest addition to this list is the discovery of pollen grains of tropical plants, including Araucaria araucana or the monkey puzzle tree, below the ice cover in Antarctica. They suggest that once the climate was a lot warmer.
The researchers found these remains in ice cores. While they interpreted their discovery in terms of millions of years, the Flood that devastated the early Earth some 4,500 years ago is a much more credible explanation.
Coghlan, Andy. 2016. Ice core reveals how lush Antarctica changed to icy desert. New Scientist (6 May).
Wednesday, 4 May 2016
I recently stumbled upon an interesting article in The Conversation by Akshat Rathi on the reliability of scientific research. Written in 2013, it is perhaps more timely now than ever, given the increasing numbers of papers being retracted (some unnecessarily so, due to blatant censorship):
“In the past decade scientists have raised serious doubts about whether science is as self-correcting as is commonly assumed. Many published findings, including those in the most prestigious journals, have been found to be wrong. One of the reasons is that, once a hypothesis becomes widely accepted, it becomes very difficult to refute it, which makes it, as Jeremy Freese of Northwestern University recently put it, ‘vampirical more than empirical – unable to be killed by mere evidence’.”
The issue becomes even more serious through the very nature of Darwinian science that does not tolerate heresy and tries to shut down dissenting views.
As naturalistic/materialistic dogma is infallible in the eyes of some if not most of the beholders, they cannot allow the facts to spoil a good theory.
That should not be the way science is done.
Rathi, Akshat. 2013. Scientists falter as much as bankers in pursuit of answers. The Conversation (4 December).
Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Natural Selection As Predestination: Biologist Warns of the Dangers of Ignoring the Ideological Background of Research
Despite claims that scientists are objective, no one does research in a vacuum. The underlying ideology plays a major role in the choice of direction the study and its conclusions take.
Biologist Aldemaro Romero Jr. (Baruch College) discusses how predestination, a key concept in Calvinism and some non-Christian religions as well, can have an effect on research:
“Since the advent of Modern Synthesis we have a pretty consistent set of evidence that evolution is not linear, that there is not such a thing as direction for evolutionary processes, and that nothing is predetermined since natural selection, the main evolutionary mechanism, is a process that is not moved by any mystical force nor directs beings toward a particular end.”
Using blind cave animals as an illustration, he goes on to say:
“Yet, biospeleologists continue seeing 'preadaptations' and 'regressive evolution' (which implies direction) anywhere when it comes to cave fauna (Romero 1985, Romero and Green 2005).”
Dr. Romero seems to suggest that researchers have – either unwittingly or not – made evolution into a teleological or goal-oriented process, as though it had the picture of the final product in mind from the very beginning:
“Therefore, this paper demonstrates that the imprint of the idea of predestination still casts a shadow in modern evolutionary biology. I am not saying that modern biospeleologists do science under some sort of religious fervor but what many of them seem to neglect is that words matter and that words can hide a lot of the philosophical baggage that sooner or later may influence their ultimate conclusion.
Therefore, I hope this paper serves as a warning to scientists that no matter what reductionist view they have in the way they practice their research, if they do not understand the historical roots and the philosophical framework of their research they are doomed at presenting only a very partial (and many times biased) view of nature.”
What we see in nature is top-down planning in which there is little room for randomness, the hallmark of Darwinian evolution. We see teleology or goal-orientation, which does not match the blind watchmaker view of neo-Darwinism.
Almost everything in the animal kingdom looks designed.
While many evolutionists detest the d-word, it has become increasingly difficult to avoid it.
Even Darwinian just so stories are full of goal-orientation and teleology.
It seems that the problems evolution is facing are not about to disappear anytime soon.
Romero, Aldemaro Jr. 2016. The influence of religion on science: the case of the idea of predestination in biospeleology. Research Ideas and Outcomes 2: e9015 (27 April).
Sunday, 1 May 2016
For Darwinists, free will is a hot potato that obviously should be avoided at all costs.
This also applies to consciousness that happens to be “a ghostly thing” in a naturalistic world. Evolution can’t explain it.
And so we are treated to a Darwinian just so story.
A new version features humans as zombies. Adam Bear and Paul Bloom conducted a series of experiments at Yale University. Volunteers looked at white circles and had to guess which one would turn red.
The test subjects managed to predict the right circle more often than if they had done so by mere chance, giving them a feeling of being in control.
However, the researchers “placed different delays between the white circles’ appearance and one of the circles turning red, ranging from 50 milliseconds to one second. Participants’ reported accuracy was highest – surpassing 30 per cent – when the delays were shortest.”
The researchers suggest that it “is possible that we perceive the order of events correctly – one circle changes colour before we have actually made our prediction – but then we subconsciously swap the sequence in our memories so the prediction seems to come first. Such a switcheroo could be motivated by a desire to feel in control of our lives.”
The results prompted Bear to suggest, “We are essentially zombie agents most of the time under the illusion that we’re always aware of why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
It might do us good to remember what Mark Twain famously wrote: “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”
Hutson, Matthew. 2016. We are zombies rewriting our mental history to feel in control. New Scientist (15 April).