—Frank J. Tipler, Professor of Mathematical Physics, Tulane University, in Pajamas Media 07/27/2010.
Thanks to Ian Juby~his newsletter is here!
From cre-evo headlines, for instance.
Inserting Evolution into Data 08/13/2010
August 13, 2010 — Evolution takes credit for a lot of things other scientists might think say nothing about evolution. Are the statements in these articles about evolution warranted by the observations?
- Do the RNA: Scientists at Yale University found an RNA complex that helps proteins to infect cells. That’s interesting as far as it goes, but Science Daily embellished the observation with a story about the distant past: “Yale University researchers have discovered an ancient but functioning genetic remnant from a time before DNA existed,” it said. Ron Breaker of Yale elaborated the reasoning behind the claim:
This is the sort of RNA structure would have been needed for life exist [sic] before the evolution of double-stranded DNA, with its instruction book for proteins that carry out almost all of life’s functions today. If proteins are necessary to carry out life’s functions, scientists need to explain how life arise [sic] without DNA’s recipe. The answer to the chicken or egg question is RNA machines such as the one identified in the new study, Breaker said.Incidentally, even though the observation showed this RNA helping a bacterium infect a cell, the RNA probably had a more beneficial function: “They were though [sic] to be molecular parasites, but it is clear they are being harnessed by cells to do some good for the organism.” The article did not attempt to explain how machinery evolves.
A lot of sophisticated RNA gadgetry has gone extinct but this study shows that RNA has more of the power needed to carry out complex biochemistry,” Breaker said. “It makes the spontaneous emergence of life on earth much more palatable.”
- Moses oar: One of the most complete skeletons of the mosasaur Platecarpus, an extinct marine reptile that was a dynamite swimmer as well as a fierce predator, was announced by Science Daily. The article said that earlier beliefs about it swimming like an eel have had to be revised, as analysis shows it probably swam more like a shark. That’s interesting as far as it goes, but it has evolutionary implications, as Luis B. Chiappe of the Los Angeles National History Museum explained:
The findings underscore how these adaptations for fully aquatic existence evolved rapidly and convergently in several groups of Mesozoic marine reptiles, as well as in extant whales. “This fossil shows evolution in action, how a successful design was developed time after time by different groups of organisms adapting to life in similar environments,” said Chiappe. “It highlights once again the potential for new discoveries to challenge well-established interpretations about dinosaurs and other animals that lived with them.”The article praised the curators and workers on the fossil, and remarked that new discoveries can challenge well-established interpretations about dinosaurs and other animals, but was strangely silent about how evolution produced complex adaptations time and time again in different groups of animals. Incidentally, the fossil was exceptionally well preserved: “It retains traces of a partial body outline, putative skin color markings, external scales, a downturned tail, branching bronchial tubes, and stomach contents (fish).” Most sea creatures decay in the ocean. The article did not explain how this specimen was preserved so delicately.
“From this beautifully preserved specimen it seems that advanced, shark like swimming began in mosasaurs millions of years earlier than we previously thought,” said Dr. Kevin Padian, a paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, not involved in the paper.
- Reasoning about irrationality: People say and do dumb things. That’s interesting as far as it goes, but Sharon Begley at Newsweek used her powers of reason to argue “why evolution may favor irrationality.” Putting herself in the mindset of a hunter-gatherer in prehistoric times, Begley explained, “Forms of reasoning that are good for solving logic puzzles but bad for winning arguments lost out, over the course of evolution, to those that help us be persuasive but cause us to struggle with abstract syllogisms.” She said this very persuasively, if not logically; for if evolution favored irrationality, how would she know the difference?
When you read evolutionary science articles with your Baloney Detector on, it all becomes very clear. It’s like seeing with those new scanners at airports. Evolutionary storytelling is an ideology searching for evidential threads to cover Emperor Charlie.Taking the Sci-Fi Out of SETI 08/12/2010
Next headline on: Cell Biology • Genetics • Origin of Life • Fossils • Marine Biology • Dinosaurs • Human Body • Mind • Darwin and Evolution • Dumb Ideas
August 12, 2010 — SETI might well stand for “Sci-Fi of Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence” with its ROI (return on investment) of zero in 50 years of searching (12/31/2009). In his latest piece for Space.com Seth Shostak did the best he could to distinguish SETI as science, not science fiction, though plenty of the latter will be evident at a conference in Santa Clara this weekend called SETIcon (SETI Conference), sponsored by the SETI Institute. Shostak, erstwhile Director, preferred in this article to call himself by his new scientific title, “Senior Astronomer.”
The conference will feature a who’s who of SETI glitterati, including Frank Drake, Jill Tarter, and Seth Shostak himself, who has tried to make the scientific case for SETI for years (01/05/2005, 04/22/2009). They will be accompanied by Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweikart, planet hunter Mike Brown, Alex Filippenko and other astronomers. Mixed in with the “science” category are plenty of “science fiction” people, like Robyn Asimov (the daughter of noted atheist science fiction writer Isaac Asimov), sci-if screenwriters, actors from sci-if movies, and book authors, making this a blend of views “all dealing with the science and science-fiction of extraterrestrial life.”
What did Shostak offer up as the science of SETI? Without a subject (02/20/2004, 07/25/2006), is it really right to call it science (08/13/2004)? Without doubt, there has been plenty of progress in astrophysical theories about the lifetimes of various star types, the conditions for habitable environments, and a growing roster of extrasolar planets. The search tools have become much better, with the Allen Telescope Array coming online (08/17/2007, 10/12/2007). But much of his material is in future tense – what scientists can expect is possible, given the constraints of physics (12/07/2007). Scientists help inform overactive screenwriters’ imaginations with a dose of realism. The dinner in honor of Frank Drake is more a celebrity toast than a science presentation, since Drake never found anything.
Shostak insisted that “there’s never been a time when the search for life beyond Earth – a staple of the [science fiction] genre – was more informed by real science.” But the only scientific achievements he listed deal with stars, planets, radio waves, and the like – the usual astronomy – not matters of sentient beings.
Would it be science if you published many articles on scientific constraints for the survival of gnomes and leprechauns? Shostak knows a lot of astronomy, but his reason for being in his current post is SETI, for which there is no scientific evidence. He loves to mingle with the sci-if crowd (05/31/2005), but when the legitimacy of SETI is at stake, he can easily point to Filippenko and Brown and the other legit astronomers, and say, “I’m with them.” Note: they haven’t found ET, either.Was Homo habilis an ancestor of Homo erectus? No; they were contemporaries. For a look at the arbitrariness of human bone classification, and the “messy kinks” in the evolving evolutionary story, revisit the 08/09/2007 entry.
Next headline on: SETI
People evolve and it is not a natural process. You read this and cannot define the information that is being transmitted to you in material form. Oh, you can count the number of letters. But what is that which is going from the letters on this blog to your mind? What form does it take, does it have mass? Is it a wave, a particle, a force? What is the physical and chemical difference, what is the change in weight and mass at the moment of death? How could a few random chemicals be jarred or shocked or frightened into becoming an incredibly complex well-designed organism?
Background on scientist highlighted
Why I rejected ‘theistic evolution’
Theistic evolution is a significant threat to the Christian church. It undermines the very foundation of the Christian faith and causes people to doubt the truth of Scripture.
I grew up as a theistic evolutionist. I was interested in science, and was an undergraduate biochemistry major. I believed in God and heard that he was the Creator on Sunday, but heard evolution all the other days of the week. I did what seemed the only logical thing that I think so many Christians also do, and that is to try to blend the two together. So I combined them, thinking that evolution was simply the process that God used to create, but that is so wrong. I think people make that compromise because they do not know all of the scientific evidence that calls the theory of evolution into question and they also have not been made aware of the major theological/biblical problems that it generates.
Proverbs 18:17 says: ‘The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward to question him’. Almost all we hear is ‘evolution’—in schools and universities, zoos, museums, television, movies, etc. So if we don't teach the implications of evolution and the problems associated with it in our churches, no-one will know any different. Evolution will seem right because people don't hear the evidence against it and no one questions it.
There were two things that really turned me to biblical creation instead of theistic evolution. The first were the passages that say that the word of the Lord is flawless. I came to realize that I trusted what the Bible says about salvation, that Jesus rose from the dead, that He could cure the lame, blind, mute and deaf. He turned water into wine—all in an instant. He multiplied the fishes and loaves, walked on water. I believed all of those miracles, that they happened just as they said. I trusted the Bible in all of those places, so why not also in Genesis where it says God created all things by His word in six days?
The second and most significant point is where evolution cuts to the heart of the gospel. Evolution absolutely requires death … millions of years of it, struggle for existence, survival of the fittest millions of years before man comes on the scene. In this scenario, death is not the enemy but the very means by which God created everything. But the Bible is very clear about this: the wages of sin is death. Death came into the world through Adam's sin. Therefore there was no death prior to the fall of man and therefore there could be no evolution whatsoever before that time.
If death and evolution are what God used to create (or even if He simply permitted it to reign for billions of years before sin, as ‘progressive creationists’ teach) then death is not the ‘last enemy’ (1 Corinthians 15:26), nor is it the wages of sin. And if this is the case, then what becomes of Jesus Christ, whose very purpose in coming was to break the power of death and pay the penalty for our sins? I believe this may be the most powerful argument against both theistic evolution and progressive creation, i.e. all compromise positions on Genesis.1
The Bible tells us that God cares for his creation. A sparrow doesn't fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father, and yet, although our omnipotent God could call things to exist, instead he chose to use a death-driven process, a struggle for existence where the weak perish and the strong survive? This doesn't make any sense. It is inconsistent with God's character, His holiness and His love.
I see this as a variation on an old question. ‘Did God really say that He created man from the dust of the ground and not through a process of molecules to man evolution?’ is similar to what the serpent asked Eve … ‘Did God really say … ?’ The answer is, ‘Yes, God really said it.’ When we begin to question the truth of the Bible, in any part, then we are really on thin ice. The Bible stands or falls as a whole. We can't pick and choose which passages to believe and which ones to reject because on what basis can we do so? Man's fallible opinion?
I so appreciate the ministry of [biblical creationist] organizations …, because it enables Christians to find out and proclaim the truth. They really can believe their Bible even from the very first verse.
Besides the problem of death before sin, those who believe in billions of years make God far away and distant. Out of 15 billion years that the universe supposedly existed, and the 100’s of millions of light years across it is, man occupies such an insignificant amount of time in an insignificant amount of space—and how could God really care about what I do? Ahh, but if God created only 6 thousand years ago, it makes Him much, much closer and more imminent. The psalmist correctly asked … ‘When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the sun, moon and stars which you have set in place … What is man that thou art mindful of him? The son of man that you care for him?’ (Psalm 8:3–4). But God does care for us! Man occupies a unique position in all of creation because only man is created in the image of God and we reveal God’s glory in a unique way.
The universe is a vast place, but everything was created for man to have a place to live. Have you considered that on judgment day, when it is the end of man it is also the end of the universe? ‘The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare’ (2 Peter 3:10). If the end of man is the end of the universe, and the purpose of the creation is for a place for man to live, why would God have a universe for 15 billion years before man when He could make him from the beginning?
This is exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 19:4: ‘“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female … ?’”’ Jesus emphasizes that Adam and Eve were made ‘at the beginning’. This only makes sense if He is talking about Day 6 and not after 15 billion years.
Clearly, the theory of molecules-to-man evolution is incompatible with the clear teaching of the Word of God. Therefore, theistic evolution (and its stable-mate, ‘progressive creation’) is incompatible with the Christian faith.
Dr David A. DeWitt is the Director of the Center for Creation Studies and an associate professor of biology at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
- Progressive creationists reject the idea of biological evolution, i.e. one kind of creature changing into another but in every other respect accept the evolutionary scenario—i.e. billions of years, death and disease before sin, cosmic evolution, geological evolution, etc. Return to text.
Jonathan Sarfati chats with neuroscientist and cell biologist David DeWitt
Did God use evolution?
“One day, I read Psalm 18:30 and was struck by ‘the word of the Lord is flawless.’ The same is repeated in Psalm 12:6 which I also read the same day. The impact of those verses weighed very heavily on me as I considered the compromise with the Word that I was trying to promote. If the word of the Lord is flawless, then who am I to depart from what it so plainly says? If I claim to believe the Bible and that it is flawless, then I should believe every single word and not pick and choose.”
The other vital issue for Dr DeWitt was the origin of death and suffering, as he explains:
“Evolution requires millions of years of death for natural selection to work its magic for amebas to evolve into college students. But the Bible was clear that death came as a result of Adam’s sin. Therefore, death came after man rather than as a means to make man. I trusted the Bible first and then began to study the scientific evidence more closely.”1
Is there evidence for creation?So I asked David about this scientific evidence, especially in his own specialist field. He replied:
“It has been said that there is probably nothing in the physical universe that is more complicated than the human brain. I think this is probably correct. At Liberty University I teach our cell biology course. It is so exciting because there are so many wonderful examples of integrative complexity which cannot be the result of natural selection.”
Wonderful designsSo what examples are especially compelling? David said:
“One of my favorite examples is the potassium ion channel. This protein allows many potassium atoms to pass through a cell membrane when needed, but it doesn’t let sodium through—even though sodium is smaller. In addition, the protein has a peptide chain attached which is like a ball and chain. The ball can plug the channel and thus shut off the flow of all ions.
“Another one of my favorite examples is the process of apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death. During development and at times of cell stress, the cell can undergo apoptosis. It is an orderly process involving dozens of different proteins allowing the cell to self-destruct in a manner that does not lead to tissue damage. The process must be tightly regulated to be triggered when necessary, but only when necessary. It is rather difficult to account for the production of a cell suicide program via natural selection.”2
What about “evidence” for evolution?
“Junk” DNAMany evolutionists try to dismiss such amazing examples of design by pointing to what they claim is “bad design”. One of the most widespread ideas is that much of our DNA is “junk”. But Dr DeWitt has studied the topic in depth, and firmly rejects this notion. He explains:
“‘Junk’ DNA only received this nickname because of evolution. Scientists expected that mutations and junk would accumulate through time. There was a lot of DNA which had no apparent function. Rather than assuming a function and trying to find it, they just considered it junk. We have since been finding a lot of functions for ‘junk’ DNA. Some of it plays important regulatory roles while other parts have different functions. Some of the repeating DNA helps repair or protect DNA while some of it is important during development.”3
Neandertal Man and his DNAThen what about claims of “ape-men”? One of the most famous is Neandertal Man, but David firmly rejects the idea that this type was any sort of evolutionary ancestor. In fact, he says:
“Neandertals were fully human descendants of Adam and Eve, just as we are; they merely had slightly different morphological features. We have good evidence that Neandertals cared for each other, hunted with weapons, used musical instruments and, most importantly, buried their dead with rituals. The latter is uniquely a human characteristic.”4
The role of assumptionsHowever, although there is very strong evidence for design and against the usual evolutionary “proofs”, Dr DeWitt agrees that there is a deeper issue involved. Indeed, he has just written a book, Unraveling the Origins Controversy. He explained:
“I really focus on presuppositional apologetics rather than evidential.7 This book covers the creation/evolution debate by dealing with the assumptions on both sides. In some ways, this is probably the best approach, because both sides actually have the same data. The difference is not the data but how the data is interpreted. And the reason that both sides interpret the data differently is that they start from different assumptions. While evolutionists often claim to be unbiased, in reality they have an underlying key assumption that only material causes are admissible as an explanation. Creationists, who start from a biblical perspective, are free to propose logical causes, rather than being dogmatically restricted to materialism.”
Alzheimer’s Disease and a God of loveBack to the issue of death and suffering, it’s clear that one of David’s own fields is highly relevant. So I asked, how would he explain Alzheimer’s Disease if there is a God of love? He answered:
“The fact that we live in a fallen world is best evidenced by disease. God is love, but He is also holy and just. Since God had given Adam dominion over creation, when Adam sinned, God cursed the whole creation (Genesis 3:19, Romans 8:19–23). I believe that Alzheimer’s Disease is really caused by a breakdown of cellular systems in the brain; a consequence of living in a fallen world. However, Jesus’ example of healing showed that it’s a blessing to alleviate the effects of the curse, which is a great motivation to seek cures for diseases.”
Why would a Christian university have a compulsory course on creation?
“Liberty University recognizes this issue is foundational to a biblical worldview and we want to make a difference. Origins has always been a hot topic, but it is even more so today. We want our students to be informed about the issues and evidences that are used on both sides of the debate so that they can better defend their faith, as commanded by 1 Peter 3:15.Thanks David, we wish you all the best in this worthy aim.
“In Romans 1:18–25, Paul describes the significance of creation and the result of rejecting God as Creator. We want to help our students understand why the doctrine of creation is foundational to the Christian faith. Some of the students who enter the course have been influenced by others to adopt one of the various compromise positions. We have done studies to document the impact of our course to help students develop a more consistent biblical creation worldview.”8
References and notes
- For more, see DeWitt, D., Why I rejected theistic evolution ,
, 12 January 2004. Return to text.
- See also Bell, P., Apoptosis: Programmed cell death reveals creation, Journal of Creation 16(1):90–102, 2002; The non-evolution of apoptosis, Journal of Creation 18(1):86–96, 2004. Return to text.
- See also the articles under: What about Vestigial ( junk ) DNA that evolutionists claim is a useless leftover of evolution?
. Return to text.
- See also Oard, M., Neandertal Man the changing picture: An overview of how this alleged subhuman is being progressively rehabilitated, despite the evolutionary bias resisting the trend, Creation 25(4):10–14, 2003;
. Return to text.
- Skinner, W. and DeWitt, D., The Neandertal’s place in human history, Virginia Journal of Science 51(2):83, 2000. Return to text.
- DeWitt, D. and Skinner, W., Rate heterogeneity and site by site analysis of mtDNA suggests neanderthals and modern humans share a recent common ancestor, Discontinuity, p. 31, 2001. Return to text.
- See also Presuppositionalism vs evidentialism,
, 6 June 2005. Return to text.
- DeWitt, D., Creation teaching makes a difference, Creation 28(2):41, 2006; Deckard, S., Berndt, C., Filakouridis, M., Iverson, T., and DeWitt, D.A., Role of educational factors in college students creation worldview, Journal of Creation 17(1):70–72, 2003,
; Teaching College Students About Creation, ; Deckard, S., DeWitt, D.A., and Cargo, S. Effects of a YEC Apologetics Class on Student Worldview, 5th International Conference on Creationism, pp. 529–537, 2003. Return to text.