Friday, November 30, 2007

There Aren't ANY Error Free AiG Articles

Hi Everyone!

You guys need to check out this thread over at the Internet Infidels Debate Forum. A challenge was issued to any and all creationists:

Present a single example of an AIG article that makes a claim contrary to mainstream science and which contains no errors of fact or logic.

The thread has been going on for 11 pages, and so far no one has done it. Maybe I should stop refuting Answers in Genesis, and simply let the creationists show me one article which contains no errors.

C'mon Creationists, let's see whatcha got!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Peppered Moths

Does anyone remember the creationist attacks on the great Peppered Moth Experiment? Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution, wrote an article on the Peppered Moth Schenanigan and how it was deeply flawed, and could not be used as evidence of evolution. To be sure, the original experiments were flawed. The mistakes of the original experiment were recognized and criticized by Evolutionists themselves. Creationists were not the original critics of this experiment. Recently, On a BBC radio show, this incident was discussed by two top biologists, Mike Majerus and Jerry Coyne. They talked about how the criticisms of this experiment were greatly blown out of proportion, and how this is NOT the only example of Natural Selection in action, just one of the easiest to understand. It gets even better: Mike Majerus has been doing his own Peppered Moth Experiments, and carefully avoiding the mistakes of the original. Of course, the predictions of Natural Selection unfolded exactly as expected. The example of Peppered Moths can still be used as a real example of evolution in action.

John Baumgardner Makes a Fool of Himself

You may not be familiar with John Baumgardner, so to give you his backround, he is a young earth creationist who invented a catastrophic model of plate tectonics. He joined Theology Web's Forum, and has been responding to one of critics on the site. Fortunately for us, Glenn Morton comes along to put John in his place:

"Ok, John, I have stayed out of it up until now. Such a statement is simply nonsense. there is no evidence of a global flood in the rocks. A 36,500 foot pile of sediment (which is not exceptional) means that 100 feet per day of sediment must have been deposited ON AVERAGE during a one year flood. That means 4 feet per hour. Most burrowers can't burrow that quickly and would quickly be burried.

Ophiomorpha, a burrower in marine sediments lines its burrows with its fecal pellets. Why do we see fecal pellets lining a burrow in Jurassic sediments of the North Sea (see picture below). Why can I regularly find burrows throughout an entire well bore? Burrows in these wellbores occupy thousands of feet of sediment.


But here are a couple of pictures for you. The jurassic ophiomorpha burrow with fecal pellets lining the burrow and one of the core photos with thousands of feet of burrowed sediment. Please explain how this happens in a global flood.

John, there is NO evidence of a global flood in the rocks."

Eventually, John gets tired of debating and resorts to ranting and raving against those who do not accept a literal interpretation of the bible:

"One thing that strikes me in this interaction is how little respect for God and His Word exists in this place. Most seem oblivious that they face a judgment before a terrible Judge who will not look upon their mockings and blasphemies lightly. One of those this Judge carefully mentored wrote "that in the last days, mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts and saying, 'Where is the promise of His [that is, the Judge's] coming?'" This spokesman for the Judge predicted the sort of mocking I have observed on this site. But observe the excuse for their mocking the idea of the Judge's return: "For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." They appeal to a uniformitarian understanding of the earth and its past in which there has been no divine intervensions in the realm of the physical. The spokesman then points out that to make such an appeal these mockers are being willfully ignorant of God's destruction of the world by water in the Flood. This passage in 2 Peter 3:3-6predicts a future time when mockers, by willful ignorance of God's horrendous judgment of the world recorded in Genesis 6-8,instead adopt a materialist interpretation of physical world that excludes divine action past or future. I therefore with trembling appeal to you to turn from this Satanic snare and be saved from the certain loss into which it leads.

The Bible does not equivocate concerning the reality that the Flood was physical judgment of the entire planet. The words mean what they say, regardless of the protests the scoffers may throw up. Christians are also playing with fire when they willfully 'sit in the seat of scoffers' and advocate a hermeneutic that in effect makes God a liar.

So despite all the scoffing and ridicule, based on the confidence I have in who the Judge is and also on my awareness of the Bible's integrity and reliablity, I stand on my conclusion that the Flood was a world-destroying cataclysm responsible for all but the topmost portion of the Phanerozoic rock record. There will be a day when the truth of this matter evident to all. Pascal frequently spoke to his friends in terms of his famous wager. This is a different wager, but you all now know where I have placed my entire lot of chips."

(Emphasis mine)

Well, you heard the man. It doesn't matter what evidence comes to light, he is sticking with his faith and interpretation of the bible. This kind of blind, violently dedicated faith should scare us. Just what kind of person will not change their minds even when their beliefs are bankrupt and all of the evidence is against them? This type of nonsense reaches millions of children, teenagers, and young adults via AiG and ICR's magazines and websites. One thing is for certain: This is not good.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I had to make this post...

I was planning on waiting at least two more days before making a new post, but this really needed to be done. "The Age of the Earth Made Easy" was just posted on youtube, and you guys have got to watch it. It is excellent!

By the way, if you still aren't done reading the Evolution for Creationists series, look over to your right underneath "The Files AiG Doesn't Want You to Read" and there are links to each part.


Evolution for Creationists Part Four

This is the fourth part in my "Evolution for Creationists" series, and I will now answer some common and important questions about evolution.

1. Isn't Evolution Just a Theory?

According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." No amount of validation changes a theory into a law, which is a descriptive generalization about nature. So when scientists talk about the theory of evolution--or the atomic theory or the theory of relativity, for that matter--they are not expressing reservations about its truth. In addition to the theory of evolution, meaning the idea of descent with modification, one may also speak of the fact of evolution. The NAS defines a fact as "an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as 'true.'"

This answer is from 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

2. Can Evolution Increase the Information in the Genome?

Let's back up and define 'information' first. Merriam-Webster defines 'information' as
"a signal or character (as in a communication system or computer) representing data". So to get an increase in information, we would have to add in a signal (DNA) that was useful (data).

Manyuan Long authored a peer reviewed paper entitled,
"THE ORIGIN OF NEW GENES: GLIMPSES FROM THE YOUNG AND OLD". In it, he discusses De Novo (meaning "anew") Gene Origination:

"Although the true de novo origination of new genes from previously non-coding sequences
is rare, there are genes with a portion of coding-region sequence that has originated de novo. For example, in the Drosophila sperm-specific dynein intermediate chain gene Sdic, a previously intronic sequence has been converted into a coding exon22."

Insertion Mutations- This is when one or more nucleotides gets added to the genome of an organism. When an insertion mutation creates a useful new function, it can be considered an increase in information. Here are some examples:

* E. Coli bacteria require 2 mutations in order to utilize salicin. In a lab, these two mutations were observed to occur and produce a strain of E. Coli that utilized Salicin.

* A bacteria gained the ability to digest nylon via an insertion mutation. Answers in Genesis has challenged this, and NMSR has responded.

* Bacteria evolved novel molecular machinery in order to utilize thioredoxin.

* Gene Duplications. While creationists will complain that a duplication is not "new information", they are ignoring the fact that duplicated genes can be used for brand new functions. Examples include the

Evolution of an antifreeze protein in antarctic fish,

A pancreatic enzyme gene was duplicated in the Colobine monkey and helped it cope with a leaf-only diet,

Yeast adapting to glucose via gene duplications,

The Genetic Evidence that this process produced much of our genome,

and vision originating via gene duplication, according to recent research.

3. Has Evolution Ever Been Observed?

Yes. Besides the examples given above, evolution has been observed to the point of new species emerging. Butterflies have evolved resistance to a parasite. New species of cichlid fish have evolved(another article on the cichlids is here). A scientist bred E. Coli in a lab for 40,000 generations. The bacteria are now twice as big and reproduce 70% faster. Cane Toads were brought to Australia, and have since evolved smaller body size. The native fauna has evolved in response: the mouths of some snake species are getting smaller, for instance, because so many of the snakes with big mouths were eating the poisonous cane toads and dying off.

Speciation in Sea Birds:

"Using DNA samples retrieved from birds breeding in the Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde and the Galapagos, the researchers determined that petrels breeding in different seasons but from the same burrows did indeed differ genetically. They also learned that the seasonal species had not bred with each other for periods ranging from around 1,000 to 180,000 years, providing a series of “time shots” of divergence, Dr. Friesen explains."

For More, see the Talk Origins' Observed Instances of Speciation. Also, see University of Texas' page on Speciation, as well as the PBS page on Allopatric Speciation and the Berkeley page on speciation.

Other Examples:

Arizona Fruit Fly Speciation
London Mosquito Speciation
Salamanders and Songbirds

4. Do Evolutionists assume stagnant conditions in order to calculate ages (Uniformitarianism)?

No. Geologists are aware that catastrophes happen, and they look for evidence of them. A recent study found that Britain became an island because of a megaflood 200,000 years ago. You would not find something like that if you assumed only slow, steady processes for shaping geological and geographical features. There is another paper that discusses the evidence of megafloods during the Holocene Epoch. (Click here for the definition and information on the Holocene Epoch).

"Geologists have been quite comfortable with the explanations that some events have been the accumulation of small changes, and others as the result of, at least, local catastrophes."
-Stephen Jay Gould, the Arkansas Creation Trial

Also see Talk.Origins' explanation

5. How did life begin?

No one knows for sure. It is thought that life begin with something that could replicate itself (Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, chapter 2) which then, over many generations, evolved into life. Non-living things that can reproduce include molecules, peptides, clay crystals, and even dust particles!

This video explains one idea about the origin of life very simply and elegantly.

A new hypothesis about the origin of life was recently put forth.

6. Is the Scientific Community Biased Against Creationism?

I am not a scientist, and I do not have the first hand experience to say for sure. However, a creationist by the name of John Baumgardner has published in peer reviewed journals before, although as far as I know his mainstream papers do not discuss creationism, and his ideas about plate tectonics have not gained wide acceptance. Remember, most scientists even through Darwin's time were creationists. Darwin wrote letters, perfected his ideas, and a lot of people worked to get them accepted. I think creationism should go the same route if it is to be accepted science.

7. What falsifiable predictions does evolution make?

* Paleontologists successfully predicted that they would find a "missing link" between fish and tetrapods in upper Devonian Strata (They named it Tiktaalik Roseae) (See this clip from "Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial")

* Evolutionary Theory predicted that Humans would have a fused set of chromosomes, which was later confirmed.

* Evolutionary Theory Predicted that Jawless Fish would be the only vertebrates to lack the alpha/beta divide in hemoglobin.
See Richard Dawkins, "The Information Challenge"

* Evolutionary Theory is frequently used in fighting contagious disease. See Berkeley Evolution

* Biologist P.Z. Meyers discussed numerous verified predictions of evolutionary theory concerning vertebrate eyes.

* Predictions of Evolutionary Theory are discussed in "The Seven Daughters of Eve" and "Evolution for Everyone" though the predictions are too complex to sum up here.

8. How did Irreducibly Complex Structures Evolve?

The notion of "irreducible complexity" is based on two false assumptions:
1) That organisms cannot grow more dependent on parts after they evolve.
2) That parts cannot evolve new functions.

For instance, the bacterial flagellum's motor is highly similar to the type three secretory system. It is theorized that the TTSS evolved into the flagellum.

Michael Behe claimed that the human blood clotting system was irreducibly complex, yet simpler systems have been shown to exist, the lobster's clotting system, as well as the dolphin's, the pufferfish's, and the zebrafish's. This is what we would expect if, like I said, organisms can grow more dependent on these structures once they are in place.

9. What about all the Flood Stories/Dragon Myths?

Flood Stories:
I have a different opinion than most people on this subject, as I believe that flood stories do share a common origin, but the origin of them is not the Bible. (See the end of this post). If you're going to believe that the whole world was covered in water at some point, then you do so on the basis of zero testable evidence, and in spite of a large list of absurdities.

Dragon Tales:
Many people write these stories off as coincidence, but I do not. I think it is possible that a small group of dinosaurs survived the meteor impact, and this may be where we get our dragon stories*. It could also be that ancient people discovered fossils and invented stories about them. This did happen, by the way. Then again, the whole thing could be a coincidence. Out of all the mythological creatures invented by people, maybe it is statistically inevitable that some resemble dinosaurs. There's an an Egyptian carving that looks like a helicopter, but most of us would think that it was a coincidence.

Also see: The First Fossil Hunters

* It would not contradict Evolution for humans and dinosaurs to live side by side, but it would contradict Evolution if a Human skeleton was found that dated to over 40 million years old (around the time the dinosaurs were prominent).

10. Has Macro-Evolution ever been observed?

If we define Macro-Evolution as evolution at or above the species level, then yes, it has been observed. If you define it as something else, like say, "the evolution of a new 'kind' of animal" then No. Here is my philosophy: Any part of the genome can change by mutation. What is to stop it from changing over and over again until it becomes something totally new? (The reason we cannot observe this, by the way, is it would take WAY too long to change the genetic code of an organism into a new 'kind'). Creationists have no evidence that there is any kind of barrier to stop change after a certain point, but Evolutionists do have evidence that 'kinds' change into other 'kinds' via fossils and genetics.

However, over the course of history some dramatic changes have been witnessed from the Artificial Selection of Plants. Artificial Selection is when human beings choose only the best of their crop to reproduce. After generations and generations, this can produce something very different from the wild product. Just take a look at how much our modern day corn differs from its wild ancestor.

This blog article is excellent for reviewing the evolution of corn.

11. I have another question/objection.

I suggest you go here and search for some key words related to question. If you cannot find anything, feel free to leave a comment anywhere on this blog and I will try and get back to you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Evolution for Creationists Part Three

This is the third installment in my series "Evolution for Creationists". I appreciate any and all comments and criticisms that you may have about this.

Evidence #5
Endogenous Retroviruses

I will begin this essay by quoting the intelligent design blog Uncommon Descent:

"Endogenous retroviruses are molecular remnants of a past parasitic viral infection. Occasionally, copies of a retrovirus genome are found in its host’s genome, and these retroviral gene copies are called endogenous retroviral sequences. Retroviruses (like the AIDS virus or HTLV1, which causes a form of leukemia) make a DNA copy of their own viral genome and insert it into their host’s genome. If this happens to a germ
line cell (i.e. the sperm or egg cells) the retroviral DNA will be inherited by descendants of the host. Again, this process is rare and fairly random, so
finding retrogenes in identical chromosomal positions of two different species indicates common ancestry."

So let's review: On a rare occasion a virus will insert itself into it's host's genome at random, and the host's descendants will inherit this and have the
virus in their genome. Our genome is 3 billion base pairs, so it is extremely unlikely that any creature would share the exact same virus in the exact same
place in the genome. But yet humans and primates do have the same viruses in the same places in their genome. This is because they were inherited from a common ancestor.

The above article was written by Douglas Theobald, the assistant professor of biochemistry at Brandis University.

In order to prove this truly is evidence of evolution, let me consider the following questions:

1. Is the viral insertion really random?
Yes. Here are two papers creationists use in support
of the nonrandom viral insertion hypothesis:

The first paper simply states that some retroviruses like to insert in genes, some like to insert near promoters of genes, and some like to insert in the middle of no where. The specific insertion sites, what base pairs on on the left, which ones are on the right, is random. Thats exactly what they looked for in that papers methods.

In the second paper the researchers found two independent Viral insertions in deer mice. They could tell the insertions apart because the virus had infected two different places, because this event happened twice.

So Retroviral insertion is indeed random.

2. Do the Viruses serve any good purpose?
No. When ERV's do become functional, they cause

In closing, you can google "endogenous retrovirus" and pull up plenty of medical, scientific, and educational websites. If you email the website, they will tell you
the exact same thing I am. You could also visit a university and contact a geneticist who will provide you with the same information.

Some of this material was referred by Abbie Smith in her series "Common Creationist Claims About ERV's"

Evidence #6

What is an atavism? It's an evolutionary throwback. It's when an ancestral gene that has been "switched off" gets "switched on" again. It's the most bizarre evidence for evolution you've ever seen. One of the tamer examples would be the horses who are born with three toes, just like their ancestors. Even more bizarre are the humans born with true tails. Stranger still is the whale found with legs, feet, and toes. Here is the story of human tails, and how we know that these are atavisms:

"Less than one third of the well-documented cases are what are medically known as "pseudo-tails" (Dao and Netsky 1984; Dubrow et al. 1988). Pseudo-tails are not true tails; they are simply lesions of various types coincidentally found in the caudal region of newborns, often associated with the spinal column, coccyx, and various malformations.

In contrast, the true atavistic tail of humans results from incomplete regression of the most distal end of the normal embryonic tail found in the developing human fetus The true human tail is characterized by a complex arrangement of adipose and connective tissue, central bundles of longitudinally arranged striated muscle in the core, blood vessels, nerve fibres, nerve ganglion cells, and specialized pressure sensing nerve organs. It is covered by normal skin, replete with hair follicles, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands. True human tails range in length from about one inch to over 5 inches long (on a newborn baby), and they can move via voluntary striped muscle contractions in response to various emotional states."

Talk Origins

The whale with legs
Whales and Dolphins with Legs

Live Science reports that,
"There are many cases where whales have been found with rudimentary hind limbs in the wild, and have been found in baleen whales, humpback whales, and in many specimens of sperm whales. Most of these examples are of whales that had only leg bones, but there were some that included feet with complete digits."

This fits in perfectly with the fossil evidence that whales descended from walking land mammals.

Recently a dolphin was captured which appeared to have hind limbs.

The Bird With Teeth

"Working late in the developmental biology lab one night, Matthew Harris of the University of Wisconsin noticed that the beak of a mutant chicken embryo he was examining had fallen off. Upon closer examination of the snubbed beak, he found tiny bumps and protuberances along its edge that looked like teeth--alligator teeth to be specific. The accidental discovery revealed that chickens retain the ability to grow teeth, even though birds lost this feature long ago."

From a Scientific American Article.

This of course compliments the fossil evidence that birds are descended from reptiles: Archaeopteryx had teeth as well.

In the next part of this series, I intend to answer common and important questions about evolution. I hope you have enjoyed reading this, and if you want more, check out Talk Origins' 29+ Evidences for MacroEvolution.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Evolution for Creationists Part Two

Continuing my series "Evolution for Creationists" I take a look at the nested hierarchy pattern of life and geographic distribution.

Evidence #3
The Nested Hierarchy Pattern of Life

Taxonomy, the classification of living things, supports evolution. This is probably one of the reasons that creationists are trying to construct a new system based on "kinds". EvoWiki explains it thus,

"'Nested hierarchy' refers to the way taxonomic groups fit neatly and completely inside other taxonomic groups. For instance, all bats (order Chiroptera) are mammals. All mammals are vertebrates. Likewise, all whales (order Cetacea) are also mammals, and thus also vertebrates.

While it might seem that this arrangement is obvious and unavoidable, it is not. Taxonomic groups are defined by traits and it should be possible to mix traits from multiple defined groups. An example from classical mythology is the Pegasus, a creature with features defined as both mammal (produces milk like a horse) and bird (has feathers). Mammals and birds are both orders, so, if Pegasus existed, it would be a violation of the nested hierarchy, a creature that belonged to two separate groups."

Now, I have heard creationists scoff at this as evidence of evolution. Isn't it ridiculous to demand a Pegasus or Mermaid to falsify evolution? Well, no, because we would not necessarily need something like that to falsify it. Ken Ham has implied that the Platypus falsifies evolution, because it shares characteristics of birds and mammals, and couldn't have evolved from both. But does it really? No it does not, because a close examination reveals that the similarities are superficial,

"The bill of a duck is a hard keratin structure, while that of the platypus is a soft flexible organ packed with electrical and touch sensors."

The bill of the platypus can be explained by convergent evolution: A similar looking structure evolved, but since genetic and biochemical similarities are not present, we should not assume that it was inherited from a common ancestor with birds.

So to recap: The more similar creatures are, the more recently they shared a common ancestor (we can verify this through fossils). All things can be grouped by similarity to greater and lesser degrees, and we never find any animal that cannot be grouped in this 'nested hierarchy' system, despite creationist claims. This is a falsifiable prediction of common descent.

If you are still having trouble understanding, try looking at this graph.

Evidence #4
Geographic Distribution

"Neither the similarity nor the dissimilarity of the inhabitants of various regions can be accounted for by their climatal and other physical conditions."

-Sir Charles Darwin

What, then, can account for the similarities/dissimilarities of creatures living in different regions? Why are marsupials found only in Australia? If plants and animals were created perfect, then why are they so different in conditions that are basicly the same?

Not suprisingly, we have more in common genetically with African Primates than with South American Primates. Evolution can explain this by telling us that our common ancestor with the South American primates lived longer ago than our common ancestor with African primates. How does creationism explain this?

The Kaibab squirrel became geographically isolated from the common ancestor with its closest relative, the Abert squirrel in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon about 10,000 years ago. Since then, several distinguishing features, such as the black belly and forelimbs have gradually evolved. Click here to see Photos of the Two Species

Frank Zindler, in "The Kiwi Question" explains,
"Despite the fact that most marsupial species seem to be out-gunned when they are forced to compete with placental mammals (hence the extinction of so many marsupial species after the introduction of European mammals), we are to suppose that wombats and wallabies, bandicoots and koalas, kept ahead of lions-'n-tigers-'n-bears all the way to Indonesia, and then - although the superior placental predators couldn't manage it - continued on to Australia. As if this were not mind-boggling enough, after all this implausible world travel, and after all the dust had settled, it turns out that the types of marsupials that made it to Australia just happened to form an ensemble able to fill all the ecological niches available!

Thus, there were marsupial moles, anteaters, mice, grazers, carnivores, frugivores, etc. - not one of which can be found anywhere else in the world. If this highly diversified marsupial population has descended with modification (evolved) from one or a few primitive, generalized marsupials which reached Australia by "sweepstakes dispersal" millions of years ago, this peculiar situation is understandable. But if all these creature had to journey from Turkey to Australia as an ensemble, it is incredible beyond computation."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Evolution for Creationists Part One

In this series, I will do my best to explain evolution in a way that everyone can understand. The first three posts will present the evidence for evolution, while the last post will answer commonly asked questions about evolution (Such as, "Can Evolution Increase the Information in the Genome?")

The First thing that anyone should understand about Evolution is Natural Selection. Berkeley University has set up a page that explains the process very neatly. I also attempted to explain it in a video I created. "How Stuff Works" Author Marshall Brain put it this way,

"As mutations occur, natural selection decides which mutations will live on and which ones will die out. If the mutation is harmful, the mutated organism has a much decreased chance of surviving and reproducing. If the mutation is beneficial, the mutated organism survives to reproduce, and the mutation gets passed on to its offspring. In this way, natural selection guides the evolutionary process to incorporate only the good mutations into the species, and expunge the bad mutations."

The Peppered Moth Story is great for understanding Natural Selection as Well. The Article I linked to defends the story against recent accusations that the story is a fraud or fabrication.

Evidence #1 Fossil Succession
(The Order of the Fossil Record)

Imagine that you were to go on a dig for fossils. Imagine the first thing you uncover is a small, horselike-creature with five toes. Suppose you began digging a little higher in the same rock, and you found a similar creature, except it had four toes. You then go higher still, and find a skeleton that looks very much like a horse, except it has three toes. What would think about this? To understand what I am saying, please look at the infamous horse series. Now, finding fossils which are, say part reptile and part bird, like Archaeopteryx, is a prediction of evolution. But this isn't in itself the best evidence for evolution, the evidence is the fact that we see progression. With every one of the sequences below, the higher up we go in the strata, the more that life looks like it does today.

The Origin of Whales and the Power of Independent Evidence

Early Vertebrate Evolution


Sea Sloth Evolution

Ceratopsian Evolution

Mammal-Reptile Fossil
Another Mammal-Reptile Fossil
Evolution of Mammals

Human Fossils
Over 400 "Missing Links"
The Top Ten Missing Links

Evolution of Birds
Avian Ancestors
National Geographic On Birds And Dinosaurs

Summary of Many Famous Examples
Online Booklet About Fossils

Why is the fossil record littered with sequences that just so happen to be in an order that makes them look like they evolved? I cannot make sense of it without evolution. In fact, I think anyone who saw these sequences would suggest evolution, had it not already been proposed so long ago.

Evidence #2 Embryology

Now, the first thing I want to make perfectly clear is that I am NOT referring to Haeckel’s work nor to his long discarded theory. Ontogeny does not recapitalate Phylogeny, but there are some interesting similarities in development which I believe are best explained by evolution.

Mammal Kidneys

Mammal Embryos develop three sets of kidneys. The first, pronephros, is the same set found in primitive fish like Lampreys. After 3.5 weeks, the mammal embryo replaces it. The second set, the mesonephros, is the same set found in higher fish and amphibians. In human males it gives rise to urogenital structures, while in females the remnants are vestigial. The third set (Metanephros) is the set which develops and becomes the adults set of kidneys, and it is the same set found in mammals and birds.

Other Evidence

Snakes as well as Dolphins are known to develop legs as embryos, only to reabsorb them later.

Whales Develop hair as embryos, only to discard it later (except for the nosehair).

Why do they do this? Why go through these stages? Why not develop their adult forms more quickly? These facts are best interpreted as developmental remains of their past.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Evolution for Creationists Preview

I've been working on a project called "Evolution for Creationists". It will discuss 6 major lines of evidence for evolution, and at the end it will answer commonly asked questions about evolution. I am dividing the project up into 4 posts. I want to know what my readers think about it and how easy it is to understand. On Monday I will post the first part, Tuesday the second, and so on.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ben Stein Expelled

Most of you have heard of Ben Stein. You know, "Bueller, Bueller..." Well, he's making a movie about Intelligent Design, about how those who question "Darwinism" are punished and excommunicated from the Scientific Community. I'm not qualified to comment on whether they are or whether they are not, I have no first hand experience of what goes on in the politics behind science. What I can comment on, however, is the statements Ben Stein is making. For instance, in this interview, he correctly states that Darwin had no idea how complex the cell was, or how life originated. This is 100% true. But what we need to understand is that modern cells have had nearly 4 billion years to evolve, which means that we would expect them to be much more complex than the cells of yore. It is also true that neither Darwin, nor today's scientists, know how life started. We suspect that a replicator must have been involved, but whether the replicator was a molecule, a peptide, a clay crystal, or something else, we do not know. The point is, we know about self forming structures that can replicate, and we can observe variance in their "offspring". The trouble is figuring out which one, and whether it could have formed on the prebiotic Earth. I will return to this subject later.

Ben goes on to say that Darwin never had any clear evidence of a species originating through evolution. I could bring up Darwin's finches, but I suppose that's not clear enough evidence. Well, what about the new species of Mosquito, discovered in London? What about this recent example of speciation in fruit flies? What about this recent example of diatom speciation in the laboratory? What say ye, Ben? The point is, we have an abundance of evidence that Darwin did not.

About 3:28 in the interview, Ben says, "Why not let the other guy talk, and then blow him out of the water, and say, 'You Fool! You didn't know this, this and this!'"

Oh Ben, if you only read this blog. The truth is, lots of scientists are responding to the claims made by Design Proponents. They're more polite than to come out and call them fools, but they do often point out that the design proponents don't know this, this and this. Panda's Thumb gives us an excellent example of this. We've also seen an explanation of how the bacterial flagellum evolved. Ken Miller has written several articles debunking the design proponents' claims. What was that about not letting the other guy talk? What was that about NOT blowing him or her out of the water?

Last, but not least, let's return to the subject of the origin of life. Technically the origin of life is not part of Evolution, as I trust all my readers know. But I don't like to just say, "Sorry, Not My Field, Abiogenesis is Outside of Evolution!" And not give an answer. Here is a new proposal about the Origin of Life, which looks intriguing, to say the least.

'A team led by the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Milan has discovered some unexpected forms of liquid crystals of ultrashort DNA molecules immersed in water, providing a new scenario for a key step in the emergence of life on Earth.

CU-Boulder physics Professor Noel Clark said the team found that surprisingly short segments of DNA, life’s molecular carrier of genetic information, could assemble into several distinct liquid crystal phases that 'self-orient' parallel to one another and stack into columns when placed in a water solution. Life is widely believed to have emerged as segments of DNA- or RNA-like molecules in a prebiotic “soup” solution of ancient organic molecules.

A paper on the subject was published in the Nov. 23 issue of Science. The paper was authored by Clark, Michi Nakata and Christopher Jones from CU-Boulder, Giuliano Zanchetta and Tommaso Bellini of the University of Milan, Brandon Chapman and Ronald Pindak of Brookhaven National Laboratory and Julie Cross of Argonne National Laboratory. Nakata died in September 2006.

Since the formation of molecular chains as uniform as DNA by random chemistry is essentially impossible, Clark said, scientists have been seeking effective ways for simple molecules to spontaneously self-select, 'chain-up' and self-replicate. The new study shows that in a mixture of tiny fragments of DNA, those molecules capable of forming liquid crystals selectively condense into droplets in which conditions are favorable for them to be chemically linked into longer molecules with enhanced liquid crystal-forming tendencies, he said.

'We found that even tiny fragments of double helix DNA can spontaneously self-assemble into columns that contain many molecules,' Clark said. 'Our vision is that from the collection of ancient molecules, short RNA pieces or some structurally related precursor emerged as the molecular fragments most capable of condensing into liquid crystal droplets, selectively developing into long molecules.'

Liquid crystals -- organic materials related to soap that exhibit both solid and liquid properties -- are commonly used for information displays in computers, flat-panel televisions, cell phones, calculators and watches. Most liquid crystal phase molecules are rod-shaped and have the ability to spontaneously form large domains of a common orientation, which makes them particularly sensitive to stimuli like changes in temperature or applied voltage.

RNA and DNA are chain-like polymers with side groups known as nucleotides, or bases, that selectively adhere only to specific bases on a second chain. Matching, or complementary base sequences enable the chains to pair up and form the widely recognized double helix structure. Genetic information is encoded in sequences of thousands to millions of bases along the chains, which can be microns to millimeters in length.

Such DNA polynucleotides had previously been shown to organize into liquid crystal phases in which the chains spontaneously oriented parallel to each other, he said. Researchers understand the liquid crystal organization to be a result of DNA’s elongated molecular shape, making parallel alignment easier, much like spaghetti thrown in a box and shaken would be prone to line up in parallel, Clark said.

The CU-Boulder and University of Milan team began a series of experiments to see how short the DNA segments could be and still show liquid crystal ordering, said Clark. The team found that even a DNA segment as short as six bases, when paired with a complementary segment that together measured just two nanometers long and two nanometers in diameter, could still assemble itself into the liquid crystal phases, in spite of having almost no elongation in shape.

Structural analysis of the liquid crystal phases showed that they appeared because such short DNA duplex pairs were able to stick together 'end-to-end,' forming rod-shaped aggregates that could then behave like much longer segments of DNA. The sticking was a result of small, oily patches found on the ends of the short DNA segments that help them adhere to each other in a reversible way -- much like magnetic buttons -- as they expelled water in between them, Clark said.

A key characterization technique employed was X-ray microbeam diffraction combined with in-situ optical microscopy, carried out with researchers from Argonne and Brookhaven National Laboratories. The team using a machine called the Argonne Advanced Photon Source synchrotron that enabled probing of the “nano DNA” molecular organization in single liquid crystal orientation domains only a few microns in size. The experiments provided direct evidence for the columnar stacking of the nano DNA pieces in a fluid liquid crystal phase.

'The key observation with respect to early life is that this aggregation of nano DNA strands is possible only if they form duplexes,' Clark said. 'In a sample of chains in which the bases don’t match and the chains can’t form helical duplexes, we did not observe liquid crystal ordering.'

Subsequent tests by the team involved mixed solutions of complementary and noncomplementary DNA segments, said Clark. The results indicated that essentially all of the complementary DNA bits condensed out in the form of liquid crystal droplets, physically separating them from the noncomplementary DNA segments.

'We found this to be a remarkable result,' Clark said. 'It means that small molecules with the ability to pair up the right way can seek each other out and collect together into drops that are internally self-organized to facilitate the growth of larger pairable molecules.

'In essence, the liquid crystal phase condensation selects the appropriate molecular components, and with the right chemistry would evolve larger molecules tuned to stabilize the liquid crystal phase. If this is correct, the linear polymer shape of DNA itself is a vestige of formation by liquid crystal order.'"

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Answers in Genesis Parody

I want all of you guys to check out the Uncyclopedia article on Answers in Genesis.

It contains such gems as,

"(Answers in Genesis) often has joke articles which say things like "Darwinism is the central column of laissez-faire economics and Stalinism" (capitalism and communism at the same time - I guess it's easy to hit opposite sides at the same time when you're continually beating a dead horse) and "the secular parts of the world are morally corrupt; I'd much rather live in Saudi Arabia than in France". Sarcastic comments like this are made by world renowned stand up comedian, Oxford nerd and atheist Richard Dawkins."

"Richard's best friend and fellow comedian Homer Simpson, also known as Springfield Man and Homo Simpsian soon joined in with his trademark American style of humor. (This is of course spelled that way) Homer was even more sarcastic than Richard in his sketches."

"If the written bullshit present on the AiG website was transformed into physical bullshit and spread equally around the moon it would increase its mass to the point that it would spiral in toward the earth and would make the landfill site of New Jersey smell like a rose garden. This is central to many forms of British humour."

"Adolf Hitler had an astute understanding of evolution - since he believed Aryan Christians were descended from Adam and Eve. Hitler was a devout atheist and every atrocity in WWII, often driven by the belief that Aryan Christians were superior to Jews, were committed in the name of atheism."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mike the Mad Biologist Weighs in on Antibiotic Resistance.

Many of you will remember my post the other day about Antibiotic Resistance. Well, this argument of theirs has recieved another fatal blow.

Reposted from Mad Mike's Blog.

While the most recent misrepresentation of antibiotic resistance at Answers in Genesis by Georgia Purdom is not of the two usual varieties (either resistance evolves through gene transfer, and therefore mutation does not cause antibiotic resistance, or resistance arises through mutations only, and so mutations can't lead to novel 'kinds'--yes, creationists are that stupid), it's still pretty bad, and it shows a profound ignorance of recent work in the field of antibiotic resistance.

Purdom writes:

The mechanisms of mutation and natural selection aid bacteria populations in becoming resistant to antibiotics. However, mutation and natural selection also result in bacteria with defective proteins that have lost their normal functions.

Evolution requires a gain of functional systems for bacteria to evolve into man--functioning arms, eyeballs, and a brain, to name a few.

Mutation and natural selection, thought to be the driving forces of evolution, only lead to a loss of functional systems. Therefore, antibiotic resistance of bacteria is not an example of evolution in action but rather variation within a bacterial kind. It is also a testimony to the wonderful design God gave bacteria, master adapters and survivors in a sin-cursed world.

Well, I'm not sure how one quantifies "a sin-cursed world"*, but let's deal with the claim that mutation leads to "a loss of functional systems."

The short version: that claim is utter bullshit.

Now the long version. Research by Dan Andersson and colleagues has demonstrated that following mutations that confer resistance, and that lower growth rates in the absence of antibiotics (the supposed "loss of functional system"), compensatory mutations evolve.

What's a compensatory mutation? A compensatory mutation reduces or eliminates the fitness cost of a mutation (often lower growth rate)--in this case, the original mutation that confers resistance. For instance, compensatory mutations in the rpsL gene reduced or eliminate the costs of streptomycin resistance in Salmonella typhimurium. More recent work has demonstrated this in other bacteria, and in mouse models**.

In other words, mutation has expanded function. A ribosomal protein now functions in an environment with antibiotics, where, before the mutation, it did not. This isn't a loss of functional systems, but an increase in the range of function due to point mutation.

I take back what I said earlier: this creationist argument is just as lousy as all of the others.

*And are sins parametrically distributed?

**Interestingly, the types ('spectrum') of mutations observed are different in laboratory culture versus mice.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Some Positive Arguments for Intelligent Design

The D.I. has issued a rather professional, and well written, argument for intelligent design. The arguments are bogus, of course, but it is much more eloquently written B.S. than I have seen from other creationists.

In the article, the author attempts to present the positive evidence for intelligent design, since I.D. is so often accused of being a negative argument against "Darwinism"; whatever that is. I encourage all of my readers to read the article.

Here are their evidences for intelligent design:

1. Natural structures have been found that contain many parts arranged in
intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and
specified information), such as irreducibly complex machines in the cell.
The bacterial flagellum is a prime example. The specified complexity of
protein bonds, or the simplest self-reproducing cell are other examples.

As most of my readers will know, the irreducible complexity argument does not hold water. The reason is that it assumes that evolution cannot change the function of parts (also called co-option or exaption). It also ignores the fact that organisms can become dependent on structures that were once less important (for instance jelly fish have no heart, brain, or liver, yet we need both of them to live.) This video explains the evolution of the flagellum. If you are looking for a more prestigious source, try this peer reviewed article from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For more, click here for NOVA's take on Intelligent Design.

2. Biological novelty appears in the fossil record suddenly and without
similar precursors. The Cambrian explosion is the prime example.

"Some Late Precambrian Ediacaran fossils (~580-560 Mya) bear strong resemblances to colonial coelenterates called pennatulids, or sea pens.

There is also evidence for the presence of arthropods as well as echinoderms before the beginning of the Cambrian."

Another thing to think about is that many of the organisms before the Cambrian did not fossilize well, as they did not have hard parts (And of course many fossils are just bone).

3. Similar parts have been found in organisms that even Darwinists see as
separated by more closely related forms that do not contain the similar
parts in question. Clear examples include genes controlling eye or limb
growth in different organisms whose alleged common ancestors are not
thought to have had such forms of eyes or limbs.

Now, I am just speculating here, but couldn't hox genes have evolved in the common ancestor of all of these organisms, and then later co-opted in all of the lineages to control the development of eyes and limbs? It's just a speculation on my part, but really, why couldn't it have? Also, I consider this a restatement of the "common design" argument, which I have already slaughtered.

4. Genetic research continues to uncover functions for “junk-DNA,” include
functionality for pseudogenes, introns, LINE, and ALU elements.
Examples of unknown DNA functions persist, but design encourages
researchers to investigate functions, whereas Darwinism has caused some
scientists to wrongly assume that non-coding DNA is junk.

I am in agreement with them on this... partially. I think that so-called "junk" DNA should be studied, because who knows? Maybe junk DNA was co-opted for a very important purpose. I would say this is a fulfillment of design prediction, but I would also say that evolution does not predict pseudogenes functionless. It really is not negative prediction for evolution. I also think it is important to point out that this hasn't been ignored, at least not completely. Francis Collins, a theistic evolutionist, and head of the Human Genome Project, led an investigation into this, and found these pseudogenes to serve a purpose.

So, all in all, out of 4 lines of evidence, they got one right, which turns out to not be incompatible with evolution. The Intelligent Design Movement was started about 15 years ago, and this is the best they can do? It is obvious that this is a movement which is big on ideology and not on science.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Antibiotic Resistance

Today, on a forum I am a part of, our Mailboy posted the following:


"Mutation and natural selection, thought to be the driving forces of evolution, only lead to a loss of functional systems. Therefore, antibiotic resistance of bacteria is not an example of evolution in action but rather variation within a bacterial kind. It is also a testimony to the wonderful design God gave bacteria, master adapters and survivors in a sin-cursed world."

Here was my response:

"Michael Behe makes a similar argument in The Edge of Evolution, saying that random mutation often "breaks genes" and just leads to 'quick fixes'.

This is sometimes true, for instance, all of us have "broken" Vitamin C genes. But there are examples of evolution increasing function:

Abbie Smith points out the new HIV gene, called VPU, which Behe finally concedes is new.

The Nylon Bug: A bacteria gained the ability to digest nylon via an insertion mutation (adds DNA to the genome)

The Evolution of An Antifreeze Protein in an Anarctic Fish.

A Double Insertion Mutation gave a Strain of E. Coli the Ability to Utilize Salicin.

Then there's the case of the Origin of Vision:

"'Our paper shows that such claims are simply wrong (speaking about the claim that evolution cannot add new information),' said co-author Todd Oakley, also a UC Santa Barbara biologist. 'We show very clearly that specific mutational changes in a particular duplicated gene (opsin) allowed the new genes to interact with different proteins in new ways. Today, these different interactions underlie the genetic machinery of vision, which is different in various animal groups.'"

I should also add these:

Novel Genes in the Fruit Fly known as Drosophila

Gene Co-Option in Pipefish

Evolution of a New Enzymatic Function in E. Coli

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Discovery Institute Stoops to the Level of Plainclothes Creationists

Hi Readers!

You may remember a post I made a while back about True.Origin misquoting Darwin. A fellow reader named Jere had caught them, and corresponded with T.O.'s site owner, Tim Wallace. Well, now the Discovery Institute is doing the exact same thing. I actually thought the IDists were just a tad more sophisticated than the inbred losers at True.Origin. Apparently not. Click here and scroll past the cover to the first page.

There is the same misquote. Here is the way the quote should be:

"For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question; and this cannot possibly be here done."

If you'll notice, D.I. changed the semicolon to a period and left off the last bit. It's pretty clear from the context that Darwin did not envision folks arguing over the validity of his dangerous theory 150 years later. We must remember that it would take another several hundred page book to defend his interpretation of the evidence against all other ones. This was his advice to his colleagues for the time being, not a permanent declaration. As Pharyngula author PZ Meyers said, "What they neglect to mention is the importance of that word "balancing": we have been balancing the arguments, and the scientific side weighs tons while the creationist side is a puff of air."

That's why 99% of scientists support evolution.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A mistake...

I made a mistake a while back, and didn't catch on until just now. In my article on Living Fossils, I stated that the living Coelacanth was in a completely different family than the fossil coelacanth. I had recieved the information from Talk Origins. I have now found out that the living coelacanth is classified in the same family, but in a different genus and of course a different species than the fossil fish. I plan on not relying on T.O. as much as I have in the past. The mistake was corrected.

Marine Bio's article on the Coelacanth

Judgement Day

Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial is now available to watch online.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Response to Dave

You failed to address most of the substantive arguments

Which are?

Circular reasoning. Why is stasis in the fossil record? Because species don't like change. Why don't they like change? Because we observe stasis in the fossil record, of course.

Dave, Dave, Dave...

"Since evolution is not necessarily gradual but often sudden, dramatic expressions of change that began on the cellular level because of radical environmental stressors--like extreme heat, cold, or crowding--years earlier."


Bacteria mutate more under stress, so evolution is not always moving at the same rate. We also can observe the fact that huge populations tend to stay the same while small ones are more flexible; that is, they change easier. Look up Dobzansky's fruit fly experiments.

you can't deny I don't have a relatively good grasp of scientific journal materials

Oh yes, I can.

* You thought that vestigial structures weren't vestigial if they still served a minor purpose.

* You thought that living fossils somehow helped your case.

* You had no clue how Punctuated Equilibrium worked (and still don't, I suspect)

* You thought that an Endogenous retrovirus found in different places in primate genomes disproved common descent (it doesn't, it just means the infection happened after the two species split. We know retroviral insertion is random because we have observed it that way).

Do I need to go on?

But scientists have never documented an incident where information was added to the genome of animal and causing it to become another animal via natural selection and mutation.

Define information and I will get back to you.

"'It also suggests that the 'molecular clock' may sometimes, and sporadically, tick blindingly fast.'"

This is rare and not common at all.

Like most creationists, you suffer from a bad case of not-knowing-what-uniformitarianism-is syndrome, or thinking that you know when you really don't. I suggest you watch this video before you comment further. References are in the description.

Finally, let's discuss your accusation of circular reasoning. You have no business trying to accuse me of that, not when you do it yourself. You have to assume the bible is literally true to find the "evidence" that it is. In other words, creationism is self referencing (also known as circular logic). It should be the other way around: The evidence should persuade you to believe the bible.

AiG Gets it All Wrong On Genetic Algorithms

This is a great article. Read:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Debate Part 4

This is the fourth part of the debate between myself and Dave Lone Ranger. Many of the things he states in his rebuttal are self refuting(like saying ID is not religious, watch the NOVA episode for the answer to that one!) so I have chosen to just take his best points and destroy them. By the way, here is the forum thread that contains his argument.

Clay has actually proven harmful in origin of life experiments - the amino acids, phosphate and DNA cling to the clay particles and don't assemble properly

These experiments were carried out in small "pools". In an ocean, there would be much more water and much less amino acids (The primordial soup would have been very diluted).

What you're saying here is "of course it's not a problem, because we see it." The fact is, eons-long stasis in species defies evolutionary predictions.

No. In large populations, mutations can be diluted, therefore making it harder for organisms to change. Of course, there are examples of gradualism (S.J. Gould discussed this in his book on Punc Equ, which talked about the gradual dwarfing of Miniochoerus).

Where could you possibly conclude that species "don't like to change" when change is the cornerstone of survival, according to evolutionary theory?

Stasis is in the fossil record, so I have concluded that large populations are somewhat resistant to change (although not completely, it is just that without a high survival advantage of a particular mutation, they are bound to get "drowned out" in the vast population).

Catastrophic change within a short amount of time was a step toward creationism.

Wrong again. Where would you get that idea?

Punc-Eq or gradualism, Ryan, which is it?

Gradualism and Punc Equ are not mutually exclusive. Read "The Blind Watchmaker" and Dawkins will explain it to you perfectly. I really think you should read 3-4 books about evolution from the evolutionist's point of view. If you are going to argue against something, you should be educated about it.

Simply drawing a line between two dots does not make it so, and I illustrated a fraction of the vast numbers of scientific challenges/impossibilities associated with the supposed chains of evidence.

No, you illustrated NOTHING. The only way that new species have ever been observed to come into existance is through evolution. The simplest explanation is most probably correct, therefore, new species evolved from old ones. A better argument against this would be atavisms, which are ancestral traits that show up in modern organisms, indicating that we are descended from more ancient species (Horses today sometimes have 3,4, or 5 toes, indicating that the genes for these were passed down from their five toed ancestors)

(The print in bold is a question I asked Dave): Why doesn’t mitochondrial DNA show that our population dwindled down to a few people several thousand years ago?

Again, you're arguing from what has not been found, which makes it easy for me to be very simple and say "they haven't found it yet.

No, the results are in, and bottlenecks in the human population were found, but many, many thousands of years ago. We haven't seen a recent bottleneck. If you make the claim, you provide the proof.

how come scientists think the genetic father of the human race lived thousands of years after the mitochrondiral eve?

"The more recent age of the Y-mrca compared to the mt-mrca corresponds to a larger statistical dispersion of the probability distribution for a Paleolithic man to have living descendants compared to that of a Paleolithic woman. While fertile women had more or less equally distributed chances of giving birth to a certain number of fertile descendants, chances for fertile men varied more widely, with some fathering no children and others fathering many, with multiple women."

That is from Wikipedia, which is not always the most reliable source, but I think the logic used is self evidently true.

It is hypocritical of you to insist on being allowed to cite Talk.Origins, and various other "reputable" pro-evolution websites, and refuse to accept creationist links in return. I've run up against the same thing when arguing with others. This is a sweeping argumentum ad hominem, attacking of the source, and a circular one at that.

I don't accept creationist sources because they are known to be inaccurate, as I have demonstrated OVER and OVER on this blog!

To request "peer-reviewed" criticism of Talk.Origins is, I'm sorry, ridiculous.

This comment was a gross and highly unintelligent misunderstanding of what I meant. I did not mean for you to search through the journals to find an article debunking T.O.; I meant for you to refute the claims that they make by using information you would find in peer reviewed journals. For instance, if TO claims that there are lots of reptile-mammal transitionals, and you find a peer reviewed article stating that none exist, you could use that article to debunk T.O. I have debunked AiG time and again using University web sites and peer reviewed articles, which is self evident (just take a look at this blog!)

Egyptian Chronology Argument:
Dave tries to refute my argument about the Egyptians, again using AiG. I looked at AiG's ideas about Egyptian Chronology, and I believe the best they had to offer was Josephus' passage about the Jews building the pyramids. Well, sorry, but Jo did not live at the time. He lived between 37-100 A.D. He was also a Jew, and would have most likely been writing down what he had heard about the Jews in Egypt. There is no evidence to my knowledge that ANY of the Bible was written before 300 B.C. (The dead sea scrolls date to around 200 B.C., but obviously these were not the originals, so I tacked on an extra hundred years. Either way, you could refute me by simply finding some Canonical Hebrew Scripture that carbon dates to an older age.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

God killed the Dinosaurs!

You're in for some fun with this post. Here is Answers in Genesis on Dinosaur Extinction:

"Evolutionists use their imagination in a big way in answering this question. Because of their belief that dinosaurs ‘ruled’ the world for millions of years, and then disappeared millions of years before man allegedly evolved, they have had to come up with all sorts of guesses to explain this ‘mysterious’ disappearance.

When reading evolutionist literature, you will be astonished at the range of ideas concerning their supposed extinction. The following is just a small list of theories:

Dinosaurs starved to death; they died from overeating; they were poisoned; they became blind from cataracts and could not reproduce; mammals ate their eggs. Other causes include-volcanic dust, poisonous gases, comets, sunspots, meteorites, mass suicide, constipation, parasites, shrinking brain (and greater stupidity), slipped discs, changes in the composition of air, etc.

It is obvious that evolutionists don’t know what happened and are grasping at straws. In a recent evolutionary book on dinosaurs, ‘A New Look At the Dinosaurs,’ the author made the statement:

‘Now comes the important question. What caused all these extinctions at one particular point in time, approximately 65 million years ago? Dozens of reasons have been suggested, some serious and sensible, others quite crazy, and yet others merely as a joke. Every year people come up with new theories on this thorny problem. The trouble is that if we are to find just one reason to account for them all, it would have to explain the death, all at the same time, of animals living on land and of animals living in the sea; but, in both cases, of only some of those animals, for many of the land dwellers and many of the sea-dwellers went on living quite happily into the following period. Alas, no such one explanation exists’ (Alan Charig, p. 150).

But, one such explanation does exist. If you remove the evolutionary framework, get rid of the millions of years, and then take the Bible seriously, you will find an explanation that fits the facts and makes perfect sense:

At the time of the Flood, many of the sea creatures died, but some survived. In addition, all of the land creatures outside the Ark died, but the representatives of all the kinds that survived on the Ark lived in the new world after the Flood. Those land animals (including dinosaurs) found the new world to be much different than the one before the Flood. Due to (1) competition for food that was no longer in abundance, (2) other catastrophes, (3) man killing for food (and perhaps for fun), and (4) the destruction of habitats, etc., many species of animals eventually died out. The group of animals we now call dinosaurs just happened to die out too. In fact, quite a number of animals become extinct each year. Extinction seems to be the rule in Earth history (not the formation of new types of animals as you would expect from evolution)."

As one member of the Internet Infidels Forum put it:

"Just one among many criticisms that can be made.

Ham's charges:
"Evolutionists use their imagination in a big way in answering this question. They have had to come up with all sorts of guesses to explain this ‘mysterious’ disappearance."
Ham's explanation:
"At the time of the Flood, many of the sea creatures died, but some survived. In addition, all of the land creatures outside the Ark died, but the representatives of all the kinds that survived on the Ark lived in the new world after the Flood. Those land animals (including dinosaurs) found the new world to be much different than the one before the Flood. Due to (1) competition for food that was no longer in abundance, (2) other catastrophes, (3) man killing for food (and perhaps for fun), and (4) the destruction of habitats, etc., many species of animals eventually died out. The group of animals we now call dinosaurs just happened to die out too. In fact, quite a number of animals become extinct each year. Extinction seems to be the rule in Earth history (not the formation of new types of animals as you would expect from evolution)."
Ham's justification:
'Sorry about that kettle, but we pots have an agenda to fulfill, which allows for hypocrisy.'"

I'm sure we will all be happy to learn that Ham no longer gets to twist Dino Extinction into an evidence for creation. Via LiveScience:

Research suggests the mass extinction happened at or just after the biggest phase of the Deccan eruptions, which spewed 80 percent of the lava found at the Deccan Traps.

"Before the mass extinction, most of the foraminifera species were comparatively large, very flamboyant, very specialized, very ornate, with many chambers," Keller explained. These foraminifera were roughly 200 to 350 microns large, or a fifth to a third of a millimeter long.

These showy foraminifera were very specialized for particular ecological niches.

"When the environment changed, as it did around K-T, that prompted their extinction," she added. "The foraminifera that followed were extremely tiny, one-twentieth the size of the species before, with absolutely no ornamentation, just a few chambers." As such, these puny foraminifera serve as very distinct tags of when the K-T extinction event started.

The researchers found these simple foraminifera seem to have popped up right after the main phase of the Deccan volcanism. This in turn hints these eruptions came immediately before the mass extinction, and might have caused it.

Double trouble

Both an impact from space and volcanic eruptions would have injected vast clouds of dust and other emissions into the sky, dramatically altering global climate and triggering die-offs. Keller's collaborator, volcanologist Vincent Courtillot at the Institute of Geophysics in Paris, noted upcoming work from her collaborators suggests the Deccan eruptions could have quickly released 10 times more climate-altering emissions than the nearly simultaneous Chicxulub impact.

Keller stressed these findings do not deny that an impact occurred around the K-T boundary, and noted that one or possibly several impacts may have had a hand in the mass extinction. "The dinosaurs might have faced an unfortunate coincidence of a one-two punch—of Deccan volcanism and then a hit from space," she explained. "We just show the Deccan eruptions might have had a significant impact—no pun intended."

I found this freakin' hilarious as well:
"There are no 25%, 50%, 75%, or even 99% dinosaurs—they are all 100% dinosaur!"

Behold, Archaeopteryx. Half Reptile, Half Bird. A mixture of two different 'kinds'. God is a mad scientist!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Book Sale...

Saturday my local Books-a-million had a book sale. You know I had to go check it out. I got two new books: "God: The Failed Hypothesis" and "The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life".

I may post a full review of each one, leave a comment if you would like me to. Anyway, The Fifth Miracle discusses abiogenesis, from primordial soup theories to semicrackpot stuff like Panspermia. It has it all. It discusses evolution and information theory (which makes it a good read for creationists), and to top it off, the writer (Paul Davies) is a deist, according to Wiki. I think that is a good thing when talking about science and religion. He's not afraid to talk about the wonderful design of the cell, and all the "machines" it contains. On the other hand, he seeks natural explanations first. So he is about as unbiased as it gets when it comes to the God question.

As for "God: The Failed Hypothesis" it's a good one too. It is a very thorough, easy to read look into whether or not any scientific evidence for God exists. It has a very good explanation of a new theory about where our universe came from. (You may have heard of quantum fluctuations giving rise to energy, giving rise to matter, and thus the universe. Quantum Fluctuations have been indirectly detected, and it is also known that the total energy of the universe is zero.)

Well, that's about it. I'll be back in full force debunking creationists in the business week.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Social Darwinism has NOTHING to do with Evolution

Hi Everyone!

A reader, Jere Yost (the author of "The Deception of True.Origin") sent me an AiG article today, along with some of the statistics I will use. I didn't plan on writing a new article this soon, but this made me so damn mad I felt I needed to.

Alright, here goes...

There was a kid on youtube who went by the name of "NaturalSelector89" and called himself a "social Darwinist". Apparently he was very disturbed, and eventually went on a shooting spree. Of course, AiG wasted no time to use this story for propaganda against evolution. This is shameful, especially since no atheist I know of would stoop that low (this would be like using the Virginia Tech shooter, who compared himself to Jesus Christ, to argue against Christianity).

The article says,
"If God is left out... Then each person can determine what is right and wrong in his or her own eyes."

They then proceed to refer us to Judges 17:6
"In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

Why don't we go over to the very next chapter, in which it tells about the Danites (a tribe of Israel) slaying a whole city of "quiet and secure" people? (Judges 18:27)

To my knowledge, Judges never records the Danites being punished by God for slaying these people (thereby condoning their actions).

Everyone should also be aware that Youtube user "TheAmazingAtheist" made a video mocking and condemning NaturalSelector89, as well as the bogus philosophy of Social Darwinism. Maybe atheists have morals after all?

In closing, I would like to include some statistics about how belief in evolution corresponds with murder. Take a look at this graph. Notice how countries like Japan, England, and Norway all have high percentages of people who believe in evolution, and relatively few people who believe in God. Now take a look at this page. This is the Murder per capita rate of countries around the world. We are #24, which is extremely high for a first world country (Most countries that rank highly are second or third world, like Columbia and South Africa). Japan is at #60, with .004 murders per 1000 people, the UK is at #46, and Norway is at #54. All three of these countries are Secular Democracies with murder rates much lower than the United States; All of them have high percentages of Atheists and Agnostics.

Whose belief system is more dangerous, Ham?

I'm not going to make a lot of posts about religion, because that isn't why I started this blog, and I am aware that there are lots of religious people who contribute positively to society (I know many of them) and are tolerant people. This is intended to show that Evolution does not cause the harm that they pretend, and neither does atheism.