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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Darwin is Dead - Part Two

I admit it, this cold/virus thing is kicking my butt! I take anti-biotics, I begin feeling better, they run out, I get sick again. I am now treating this with the addition of a great deal of cayenne pepper in just about everything in addition to medication. By the time I am done with work it is hard to want to make a post at all. Fortunately for me, this is the blog carnival and so I will post the second group of entries!

First, a double entry of sorts from Jonathan Sarfati. The first of his two essays touches upon the T-Rex (MOR 1125) in a way.

Ostrich eggs break dino-to-bird theory

by Jonathan Sarfati

22 August 2002
Subsequently published in
Creation 25(1):34–35, December 2002 – February 2003.

While it’s widely treated as fact that birds evolved from dinosaurs, Genesis is perfectly clear that dinosaurs—land animals—were created one day after the birds. And a minority of evolutionists still resist the dino-to-bird theory on scientific grounds (see Did birds really evolve from dinosaurs?).

The leader of the evolutionary objections for many years has been Dr Alan Feduccia, professor and former head of biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the author of the encyclopedic The Origin and Evolution of Birds (1999). He has pointed out many anomalies, e.g. the allegedly birdlike dinosaurs are ‘dated’ 25–80 million years after the oldest true bird they are supposed to have evolved into. And the theropods had curved, serrated teeth while the ‘oldest’ birds such as Archaeopteryx had straight, unserrated peg-like teeth. He explains the superficial similarities between birds and dinosaurs as convergent evolution, i.e. where different groups evolve similar structures because of a similar lifestyle, in this case walking upright on two hind legs. Creationists would explain this as evidence of a common designer who designed similar structures for similar purposes.

Feduccia published a significant paper in Science1 showing that ‘birds lack the embryonic thumb that dinosaurs had, suggesting that it is “almost impossible” for the species to be closely related.’2 We reported on this and other current discoveries in Dino-Bird Evolution Falls Flat! (1998).3

Now Feduccia and a new Ph.D. graduate, Julie Nowicki, have refined the embryological study and published their findings in the leading German biological journal Naturwissenschaften.4 They opened a number of ostrich eggs to examine the embryos at various stages of development. Most studies had concentrated on embryos in the second half of development, when most of the structures are fully formed and merely need to grow. But Feduccia and Nowicki found that the main skeletal features in ostriches, supposedly ‘primitive’ birds, develop between days 8 and 15 of the 42 days in the egg.

The research conclusively showed that only digits two, three and four (corresponding to our index, middle and ring fingers) develop in birds. This contrasts with dinosaur hands that developed from digits one, two and three. Feduccia pointed out:

‘This creates a new problem for those who insist that dinosaurs were ancestors of modern birds. How can a bird hand, for example, with digits two, three and four evolve from a dinosaur hand that has only digits one, two and three? That would be almost impossible.’4

If the birds evolved from dinosaurs, then one would expect common genes. These in turn would code for a common development in the embryo. But this is not so here, hence Feduccia is right to argue against the dinosaur-to-bird theory. However, a common designer is a coherent explanation for the fact that similar structures (in this case, three-fingered hands) are programmed to develop in totally different ways.
Frog and human digit development

Diagram showing the difference in developmental patterns of frog and human digits.
Left: In humans, programmed cell death (apoptosis) divides the ridge into five regions that then develop into digits (fingers and toes) [after Sadler, T.W., ed., Langman’s Medical Embryology, 7th Ed., Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, pp. 154–157, 1995].
Right: In frogs, the digits grow outwards from buds as cells divide [after Tyler, M.J., Australian Frogs: a natural history, Reed New Holland, Sydney, Australia, p. 80, 1999].

This is not the only example where superficially homologous structures actually develop in totally different ways. One of the most commonly argued proofs of evolution is the pentadactyl limb pattern, i.e. the five-digit limbs found in amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. However, they develop in a completely different manner in amphibians and the other groups. To illustrate, the human embryo develops a thickening on the limb tip called the AER (apical ectodermal ridge), then programmed cell death (apoptosis) divides the AER into five regions that then develop into digits (fingers and toes). By contrast, in frogs, the digits grow outwards from buds as cells divide (see diagram, right).

This difference is even more striking than that discovered by Feduccia which he published in prestigious journals and which he (correctly) used as evidence against the dino-to-bird theory. So, logically, this huge difference in limb formation should likewise be regarded as evidence against a common ancestor for humans and amphibians. In other words, as evidence against the entire evolutionary ‘big picture’.

Wider application: We have often noted that discoveries that supposedly support evolution are trumpeted throughout the world’s media; but when they are refuted, even by evolutionists, they are rarely given the same prominence. A notorious example was the alleged life in the Martian meteorite, now almost universally discredited as being of non-biological origin. Similarly, there was almost no publicity of this research by a leading paleo-ornithologist undermining the dino-to-bird dogma, in contrast to claims in National Geographic that dino-to-bird evolution was conclusively proven by the new fossil ‘Archaeoraptor’. But this turned out to be a fraudulent ‘Piltdown Bird’.

We hope readers of Creation magazine and this web site will fill this gap by spreading the true information as widely as possible.

Click to read the footnotes and also the second article, Vestigial digits?

The Trouble with Guanine

The second contribution is actually the first entry received for this edition of the Carnival.

Dr. Azo Mazur
Fellow of the reDiscovery Institute

Reprinted from The reDiscovery Institute Proceedings, 2005

Scientists in the Design Movement have no doubt that the original optimal designs of life have been degraded. We believe that degradation of original designs has led to infectious disease, birth defects, cancer, and aging. Disease is not evidence of an unintelligent or malevolent designer. Disease is evidence that the original optimal designs have degenerated over time.

My esteemed colleague Stephen C. Meyer has noted that there is direct genetic evidence (i.e., scientific evidence) that one deadly disease (the plague) arose from evolutionary processes that altered an original design. He has proposed a specific pathway of degradation of an optimal design. He makes a compelling argument that one of the most important goals of current design scientists must be to infer flawless aboriginal designs and to determine the mechanisms and effects of subsequent decay.

Here we take up Mr. Meyer's challenges. We identify the single biggest mistake in all of biology. That mistake is Guanine. And what a mistake it is!

Guanine (G), along with adenine (A), thymine (T) and cytosine (C), are the four bases of DNA, which is used in all biological systems (except some viruses) to encode genetic information. The stability and integrity of genetic information are of critical importance to all living systems.

Incredibly, Guanine is chemically unstable. Guanine, in the oxidizing environment of a cell converts to 8-oxoGuanine. Guanine is so unstable that 100,000 Guanines convert to 8-oxoGuanines in an average mammalian cell each day (1). Cells have elaborate and multilayered systems to repair 8-oxoGuanine (2) in their attempts to maintain genetic integrity. Even so, 8-oxoGuanine causes spontaneous mutation, cancer and aging (3,4).

Guanine is the most glaring and transcendental result of degeneration of the original optimal design. Gaunine has invaded biological systems, and is currently found to have assumed a variety of functions. It is a component of DNA and RNA. It is involved in cell signaling and metabolism. Guanine is everywhere.

Is it conceivable that an intelligent and beneficent designer would use Guanine to encode genetic information in man, made in God's own image? Would you store important tax information in wax imprints? No, because wax is not stable. Duh! When it melts, important information is lost. Darwinists propose that Guanine was incorporated into living systems by a random, heartless and amoral process of evolution. Design Scientists believe Gaunine arose via degeneration of an optimal design. But here there is common ground. All agree that an Intelligent Designer would not use Guanine in the genetic code.

Gaunine leads surely and inexorably to 8-oxoGuanine, which in turn causes cancer and aging. We can say with certainty that there was no Guanine in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had C, A and T, but not G in their DNA. This conclusion is consistent with the expectations of many theologians who think, based on their understanding of Judeo-Christian doctrine and scripture, that the physical world was optimally designed but should show evidence of subsequent decay. Mr. Meyer suggests that we should deduce the noble aboriginal design. We have done so. It is The G-less Genome. We will expand on the concept of the G-less Genome in future publications.

Go here to read the entire article with footnotes included.

The following entry is from someone who, despite the name of his blog, probably does not enjoy living life in a bubble....this is a good thing, knowing some of our commenters, who take great delight in popping such bubbles if possible. Bill, you are on!

The Real "Missing Link": Evolution "Theory" vs. Scientific "Law"

Earlier this month, I saw an article in Time Magazine about how fish crept on land. To qualify my perspective, you should know that I am a Christian and believe that God created the world. You should also know that I have an open mind and will freely admit to evolution when I see irrefutable evidence of one species becoming an entirely new species. With our expertise in genetic engineering, I am SHOCKED that we haven't been able to demonstrate this phenomena with even the smallest organism.

When evaluating new claims about finding a "missing link" in the "Theory" of Evolution, I am reminded of a quote by Abraham Maslow:

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail. [Some] choose to work as best they can with important problems rather than restricting themselves to doing only that which they can do elegantly with the techniques already available." Abraham Maslow, The Psychology of Science (Harper and Row, New York), 1966

Of course, since the people interested in new fossil discoveries are Paleontologists, it's not surprising that every new fossil fits into the "Theory" of Evolution. What's interesting to me is that popular science uses the cafeteria method when pushing forward theories. For example, did you know that Darwin also believed that man was actually the more "evolved" form of the species?

Man's Superiority

In Descent of man Darwin wrote: "The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by man's attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman - whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands" (Chapter 19, 1871 edition Darwin, Descent of Man - Chapter 19 - Secondary Sexual Characters of Man)

Of course, from my limited experience on the planet, life seems to exhibit the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics quite frequently; whereas, I have yet to see evidence that even a single cell organism has evolved (been transformed from one species to another). Of course, I have not been alive for millions of years.

2nd Law of Thermodynamics

I admit that I wasn't paying close attention in my Science classes, but I do remember that "Laws" supersede "Theories". It seems at best illogical that something would naturally go from something simple to something complex. In fact, most things that I see "break down" not build up over time. Think about it, once anything is created, it begins to decay. There is an interesting article that explores how this law might apply to this interesting debate.

I am, of course, fascinated by this discussion and hope that it doesn't "devolve" into name-calling, which it usually does (isn't that interesting). What's amazing to me is the order that God created things in Genesis. Isn't it neat how closely this order lines up with the "order" that Paleontologists are discovering these fossils? This part of the Bible was even written before we had all of these sophisticated measuring devices that tell us how old something is.

Here is the entire post on Bill's blog.

Now I can rest a bit, trying to get over this illness so I can wrestle with commenters again! Cheers!