Tag Archives: Intelligent Design

Yale U. professor: Darwinian theory of evolution cannot explain the origin of species

In a recent article published in the Spring 2019 issue of the Claremont Review of Books, David Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale University, maintains that the Darwinian theory of evolution is not just accepted as “settled truth,” it is “the basis of a worldview” and a “replacement religion”.

The problem is this: Although called a “theory,” Darwinism is not a scientific theory because it neither predicts nor explains what it means to explain, which is the actual origin of species, because:

  1. Darwinian evolution is “gradual, step by step” as new life forms evolve gradually from old ones “in a constantly branching, spreading tree of life.” However, fossils of those predecessors of new life forms cannot be found. Instead, the fossil record shows the opposite: “In general, most species enter the evolutionary order fully formed and then depart unchanged.” During the Cambrian explosion of around half a billion years ago, for example, the fossil record shows that a striking variety of new organisms — including the first-ever animals — just “popped up suddenly”.
  2. At the molecular biology level, according to Darwinism, evolution is the consequence, over millions of years, of small good-for-survival (“natural selection”) mutations to genetic information within cells which are passed on to the next generation(s), thus changing the future of the species. Inventing a new gene by mutation requires inventing or creating a new protein. But it has been calculated that the mathematical odds of creating a new protein stable enough to be useful are zero, which means that the odds of producing “a single promising mutation in the whole history of life” is also zero. 

Gelernter concludes that “The exceptional intricacy of living things, and their elaborate mechanisms for fitting precisely into their natural surroundings, seemed to cry out for an intelligent designer.” That intelligent designer did not act just once, but “interferes repeatedly,” which suggests (what Thomas Aquinas called) “the first cause” must have a purpose — “some sense of the big picture of life on earth.”

David Gelernter

Below are excerpts from Gelernter’s essay, “Giving Up Darwinism“:

Darwinian evolution is . . . basic to the credo that defines the modern worldview. Accepting the theory as settled truth—no more subject to debate than the earth being round or the sky blue or force being mass times acceleration—certifies that you are devoutly orthodox in your scientific views; which in turn is an essential first step towards being taken seriously in any part of modern intellectual life. But what if Darwin was wrong?

Like so many others, I grew up with Darwin’s theory, and had always believed it was true….

Charles Darwin explained monumental change by making one basic assumption—all life-forms descend from a common ancestor—and adding two simple processes anyone can understand: random, heritable variation and natural selection . . . conceived to be operating blindly over hundreds of millions of years….

Yet there are many reasons to doubt whether he can answer the hard questions and explain the big picture—not the fine-tuning of existing species but the emergence of new ones. The origin of species is exactly what Darwin cannot explain.

Stephen Meyer’s thoughtful and meticulous Darwin’s Doubt (2013) convinced me that Darwin has failed. He cannot answer the big question. Two other books are also essential: The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays (2009), by David Berlinski, and Debating Darwin’s Doubt (2015), an anthology edited by David Klinghoffer…. These three form a fateful battle group that most people would rather ignore. Bringing to bear the work of many dozen scientists over many decades, Meyer, who after a stint as a geophysicist in Dallas earned a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge and now directs the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, disassembles the theory of evolution piece by piece. Darwin’s Doubt is one of the most important books in a generation. Few open-minded people will finish it with their faith in Darwin intact.

Meyer doesn’t only demolish Darwin; he defends a replacement theory, intelligent design (I.D.) … [but]  never uses religious arguments, draws religious conclusions, or refers to religion in any way….

Some I.D.-haters have shown themselves willing to use any argument—fair or not, true or not, ad hominem or not—to keep this dangerous idea locked in a box forever. They remind us of the extent to which Darwinism is no longer just a scientific theory but the basis of a worldview, and an emergency replacement religion for the many troubled souls who need one….

Darwin himself had reservations about his theory, shared by some of the most important biologists of his time. And the problems that worried him have only grown more substantial over the decades. In the famous “Cambrian explosion” of around half a billion years ago, a striking variety of new organisms—including the first-ever animals—pop up suddenly in the fossil record over a mere 70-odd million years. This great outburst followed many hundreds of millions of years of slow growth and scanty fossils, mainly of single-celled organisms, dating back to the origins of life roughly three and half billion years ago.

Darwin’s theory predicts that new life forms evolve gradually from old ones in a constantly branching, spreading tree of life. Those brave new Cambrian creatures must therefore have had Precambrian predecessors, similar but not quite as fancy and sophisticated…. Each must have had a closely related predecessor, which must have had its own predecessors: Darwinian evolution is gradual, step-by-step. All those predecessors must have come together, further back, into a series of branches leading down to the (long ago) trunk.

But those predecessors of the Cambrian creatures are missing. Darwin himself was disturbed by their absence from the fossil record. He believed they would turn up eventually. Some of his contemporaries (such as the eminent Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz) held that the fossil record was clear enough already, and showed that Darwin’s theory was wrong. Perhaps only a few sites had been searched for fossils, but they had been searched straight down. The Cambrian explosion had been unearthed, and beneath those Cambrian creatures their Precambrian predecessors should have been waiting—and weren’t. In fact, the fossil record as a whole lacked the upward-branching structure Darwin predicted.

The trunk was supposed to branch into many different species, each species giving rise to many genera, and towards the top of the tree you would find so much diversity that you could distinguish separate phyla—the large divisions (sponges, mosses, mollusks, chordates, and so on) that comprise the kingdoms of animals, plants, and several others—take your pick. But, as Berlinski points out, the fossil record shows the opposite: “representatives of separate phyla appearing first followed by lower-level diversification on those basic themes.” In general, “most species enter the evolutionary order fully formed and then depart unchanged.” The incremental development of new species is largely not there. Those missing pre-Cambrian organisms have still not turned up.

Some researchers have guessed that those missing Precambrian precursors were too small or too soft-bodied to have made good fossils. Meyer notes that fossil traces of ancient bacteria and single-celled algae have been discovered: smallness per se doesn’t mean that an organism can’t leave fossil traces…. The story is similar for soft-bodied organisms…many fossils of soft-bodied organisms and body parts do exist. Precambrian fossil deposits have been discovered in which tiny, soft-bodied embryo sponges are preserved—but no predecessors to the celebrity organisms of the Cambrian explosion.

This sort of negative evidence can’t ever be conclusive. But the ever-expanding fossil archives don’t look good for Darwin, who made clear and concrete predictions that have (so far) been falsified….

Darwin’s main problem, however, is molecular biology. There was no such thing in his own time. We now see from inside what he could only see from outside….

Darwin’s theory is simple to grasp…variation occurs naturally among individuals of the same type—white or black sheep…. A sheep born with extra-warm wool will presumably do better at surviving a rough Scottish winter than his normal-wooled friends. Such a sheep would be more likely than normal sheep to live long enough to mate, and pass on its superior trait to the next generation. Over millions of years, small good-for-survival variations accumulate, and eventually (says Darwin) you have a brand new species….

[M]olecular biology…explains (it doesn’t merely cite) natural variation, as the consequence of random change or mutation to the genetic information within cells that deal with reproduction. Those cells can pass genetic change onward to the next generation, thus changing—potentially—the future of the species and not just one individual’s career….

But what does generating new forms of life entail? Many biologists agree that generating a new shape of protein is the essence of it. Only if… Darwinian evolution is creative enough to do that is it capable of creating new life-forms and pushing evolution forward….

Inventing a new protein means inventing a new gene…. Genes spell out the links of a protein chain, amino acid by amino acid. Each gene is a segment of DNA….

Your task is to invent a new gene by mutation—by the accidental change of one codon to a different codon…. But if you mutate your way to an actual, valid new gene, your new gene can create a new protein and thereby, potentially, play a role in evolution….

Douglas Axe did a series of experiments to estimate how many 150-long chains are capable of stable folds—of reaching the final step in the protein-creation process (the folding) and of holding their shapes long enough to be useful. (Axe is a distinguished biologist with five-star breeding: he was a graduate student at Caltech, then joined the Centre for Protein Engineering at Cambridge…. He estimated that, of all 150-link amino acid sequences, 1 in 1074 will be capable of folding into a stable protein. To say that your chances are 1 in 1074 is no different, in practice, from saying that they are zero. It’s not surprising that your chances of hitting a stable protein that performs some useful function, and might therefore play a part in evolution, are even smaller. Axe puts them at 1 in 1077.

In other words…The odds bury you. It can’t be done…. The odds against blind Darwinian chance having turned up even one mutation with the potential to push evolution forward are 1040x(1/1077)—1040 tries, where your odds of success each time are 1 in 1077—which equals 1 in 1037. In practical terms, those odds are still zero. Zero odds of producing a single promising mutation in the whole history of life. Darwin loses….

You don’t turn up a useful protein merely by doodling on the back of an envelope, any more than you write a Mozart aria by assembling three sheets of staff paper and scattering notes around. Profound biochemical knowledge is somehow, in some sense, captured in every description of a working protein. Where on earth did it all come from?….

There are many other problems besides proteins. One of the most basic, and the last I’ll mention here, calls into question the whole idea of gene mutations driving macro-evolution—the emergence of new forms of organism, versus mere variation on existing forms.

To help create a brand new form of organism, a mutation must affect a gene that does its job early and controls the expression of other genes that come into play later on as the organism grows. But mutations to these early-acting “strategic” genes, which create the big body-plan changes required by macro-evolution, seem to be invariably fatal. They kill off the organism long before it can reproduce. This is common sense. Severely deformed creatures don’t ever seem fated to lead the way to glorious new forms of life. Instead, they die young….

Meyer explains: “genes that are obviously variable within natural populations seem to affect only minor aspects of form and function—while those genes that govern major changes, the very stuff of macroevolution, apparently do not vary or vary only to the detriment of the organism.”….

Darwin would easily have understood that minor mutations are common but can’t create significant evolutionary change; major mutations are rare and fatal….

The exceptional intricacy of living things, and their elaborate mechanisms for fitting precisely into their natural surroundings, seemed to cry out for an intelligent designer…now that we understand so much cellular biology, and the impossibly long odds facing any attempt to design proteins by chance, or assemble the regulatory mechanisms that control the life cycle of a cell….

If Meyer were invoking a single intervention by an intelligent designer at the invention of life, or of consciousness, or rationality, or self-aware consciousness, the idea might seem more natural. But then we still haven’t explained the Cambrian explosion. An intelligent designer who interferes repeatedly, on the other hand, poses an even harder problem of explaining why he chose to act when he did. Such a cause would necessarily have some sense of the big picture of life on earth. What was his strategy? How did he manage to back himself into so many corners, wasting energy on so many doomed organisms? Granted, they might each have contributed genes to our common stockpile—but could hardly have done so in the most efficient way. What was his purpose? And why did he do such an awfully slipshod job? Why are we so disease prone, heartbreak prone, and so on? An intelligent designer makes perfect sense in the abstract. The real challenge is how to fit this designer into life as we know it. Intelligent design might well be the ultimate answer. But as a theory, it would seem to have a long way to go.

~Eowyn

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Creation: The amazing egg

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flTo4kG7DUQ]
The source of the following is Maxx’s article on My Technology World, Oct. 22, 2014. I’ve rewritten and reformatted the essay.
First, a few fun facts about egg shells:

  • An egg shell is made of calcium carbonate, which is also the main ingredient in some antacids. Each medium sized egg shell has about 750-800 mgs of calcium.
  • The shell makes up 9-12% of an egg’s total weight, and contains pores that allow oxygen in and carbon dioxide and moisture out.
  • The shell color of an egg is representative of the breed of hen that produces the egg. White hens produce white eggs and brown hens produce brown eggs.

13 cool ways to use egg shells

1. As a nourishing face mask:

  • Pulverize dried egg shells with a mortar and pestle.
  • Whisk the powder in with an egg white.
  • Put the solution on your face as a healthful, skin-tightening facial.
  • Allow the face mask to dry before rinsing it off with water.

2. Treat skin irritations:

  • Drop an eggshell into a small container of apple cider vinegar.
  • Let it soak for a couple of days.
  • Dab the mixture on minor skin irritations or on itchy skin.

3. As a powerful cleaner:

  • Ground eggshells make a wonderful (and nontoxic!) abrasive for those tough-to-clean pots and pans.
  • Mix them with a little soapy water for a powerful clean.
  • Hummingbird feeders tend to grow all sorts of nasty stuff. Clean it by first by rinsing with hot water. Then add some crushed egg shells, fill 1/2 way with water, and shake. The shells act as an abrasive, removing mold or other built-up gunk. Rinse well before re-filling with hummingbird food.
  • It’s almost impossible to get a scrub brush down the narrow neck of a thermos. Clean your thermos using the instructions above for hummingbird feeders.

4. As a garden fertilizer:

  • Eggshells are rich in calcium and other minerals that help your garden thrive.
  • Crush eggshells into tiny pieces and sprinkle into each hole before planting.
  • Then, sprinkle additional shells around the base of your plants every two weeks.

5. Containers to start seedlings:

  • Fill an egg carton with empty, rinsed eggshell halves.
  • Poke a hole in each eggshell half for drainage.
  • Add potting soil and one or two seeds to each shell.
  • When the seedlings are big enough for transplanting outside, just crack the shell at the bottom and plant them, shell and all.

6. Pest control:

  • Crush eggshells and scatter them around your vegetables and flowers to fend off slugs, snails, and cutworms.
  • These soft-bodied critters don’t like crawling over sharp pieces of shell.
  • The smell of eggs will also deter deer.

7. House plant booster:

  • Keep a mason jar of eggshells covered with water for watering indoor plants.

8. As a cat deterrent from using your garden as a litter box:

  • Crush egg shells.
  • Scatter shells in the areas that cats frequent.
  • After stepping on those shells a few times, they’ll move on.

9. Better tasting coffee:

  • Add some crushed eggshells to ground coffee before brewing it to make it taste less bitter.
  • When you’re done, toss the grounds and shells on your compost heap; or
  • add the coffee grounds — a rich source of fatty acids, essential oils and nutrients (nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and other minerals) to your garden soil! Some examples of plants that thrive in a nitrogen-rich planting area include leafy vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes, corn; roses, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas.

10. As a powdered calcium supplement:

  • Instead of purchased calcium pills, simply bake your egg shells at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
  • Let them cool.
  • Grind them to a fine powder.
  • Add a teaspoon or less of the powder to your favorite smoothie or juice once a day.

11. Make your own sidewalk chalk:

  • What you’ll need:
    • Approximately five empty egg shells
    • 1 teaspoon flour
    • 1 teaspoon very hot water
    • food coloring (for colored chalk)
  • Wash and dry the egg shells.
  • Crush the egg shell into a bowl and grind it until it is a powder. Make sure all the pieces are ground. Take out any big pieces before going on to the next step.
  • Mix the flour and hot water in another bowl. Then add 1 tablespoon egg shell powder and mix into a thick paste.
  • Add a drop or two of food coloring for colored chalk. If you want white chalk do not add anything.
  • Shape the paste into chalk sticks or press into soap molds for fun shapes. If making chalk sticks roll the sticks up tightly in a paper towel.
  • Let your chalk dry for 3 days.

12. As a laundry whitener:

  • Some say that if you toss some shells in a mesh bag in your laundry, the gray tint to your whites will disappear.

13. Eggshell candles:

  • Carefully crack the shells in half.
  • Fill each half with beeswax.
  • Insert a wick.
  • Let the wax set.
  • Remove the egg shell.

For most eggshell uses, it is better to make sure they are clean and free from bacteria. If you don’t wash the eggs thoroughly before using, bake the shells at 150 degrees Fahrenheit on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes.
~Eowyn

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Creation: "Goldilocks" Earth

We are told by astronomers that the Universe has countless Earth-like planets and, by implication, the possibility of intelligent life abounds.
Dr. Hugh Ross is an astronomer, physicist, Christian, and contrarian who holds a very different view.
According to Ross, our Earth is like the fairy tale Goldilocks: It is not too big nor too small, but somehow has just the right amounts of certain important minerals so as to support not just life, but intelligent life.
Too much water would mean an Earth of all oceans and no continents. Too much carbon would mean an atmosphere so thick as to make lungs inoperable and photosynthesis impossible. Too little phosphorous would mean no assembly of DNA and RNA molecules — the building blocks of life.
Can someone say “Intelligent Design”?
The frightening thing about this is: If our Earth is really unusual, perhaps unique, that means we human beings — we woefully flawed “tinder for sin” (fomes peccati, the Latin for the concupiscence of Original Sin) — are really alone in this infinitesimally vast Universe . . . .
~Eowyn
Earth

Earth’s Unique Element Abundances

December 21, 2009
By Dr. Hugh Ross
Earth is not at all ordinary in its assortment of elements and compounds.

For the planet’s size and distance from its star, it possesses an anomalous (abnormal) amount of every measurable element and compound. Today, the list of such uniquely abundant or scarce substances includes water, carbon, sulfur, phosphorus, uranium, and thorium. Each of these anomalous amounts proves to be a vital requirement for advanced life and a significant piece of evidence that Earth was supernaturally designed for humanity’s benefit.
study performed by two MIT planetary scientists showed that Earth is actually lacking in both water and carbon. They produced the most detailed model to date of degassing during the accretion phase of planetary formation for planets ranging in mass from 1 to 30 times the mass of Earth.1 The team based their models on measurements of the bulk compositions in the most primitive meteorites found in the solar system. These ancient remnants of the solar system’s protoplanetary disk represent the material from which Earth formed. They contain up to 20 percent by mass of water.
Using the range of water and carbon found in such meteorites and modeling how much of that water and carbon would be retained in the formation process by Earths and super-Earths, the MIT scientists determined that degassing during the accretion process alone would result in water and carbon compounds making up to 20 percent and 5 percent of the mass of Earths and super-Earths, respectively. They found, too, that using even modest estimates of water and carbon in the meteorites resulted in Earths and super-Earths ending up with very deep oceans and very thick atmospheres.
The problem posed by deep oceans is that no conceivable amount of plate tectonic activity would ever produce continents. Without continents there would be no possibility for land life, and many important nutrient-recycling mechanisms would be absent. The problem posed by thick atmospheres loaded with carbon compounds is that such atmospheres would trap tremendous amounts of heat, would result in such high atmospheric pressures as to make lungs inoperable, and would block out so much stellar light as to impede photosynthesis.
While water and carbon are essential for life, too little or too much proves deadly, especially in the case of advanced life. Earth possesses the just-right amount of each. The MIT team’s study underscored Earth’s uniqueness. For a planet as large as it is and as far away as it is from its star, Earth is miraculously water- and carbon-poor. Water makes up just 0.02 percent of Earth’s mass; carbon just 0.003 percent.
Measurements on Mars reveal another way in which our life-friendly home is unusual among its planetary peers. Earth is sulfur poor, especially in the sulfur compounds most hazardous to life. Two planetary scientists, Fabrice Gaillard and Bruno Scaillet, determined that the Martian mantle contains at least three to four times as much sulfur as does Earth’s and that volcanic gas emissions during the late stages of Mars’ history are ten to a hundred times richer in sulfur and sulfur compounds than similar emissions on Earth.2
Mars’ atmosphere was tenuous (just one bar or less) during the late stages of its history. Such a thin atmosphere implies that the sulfuric volcanic gases Mars retains are dominated by heavier sulfur dioxide rather than by hydrogen sulfide. This sulfur dioxide can penetrate any existing persistent water layer on Mars, making such water much too acidic for the origin of life or for the maintenance of anything other than the most extreme acidophilic bacterial species.
Too much sulfur on a planet is deadly to life. But Gaillard and Scaillet do not address whether Earth or Mars is the exception among planets.
Sulfur ranks as the tenth most abundant element in the universe. Its abundance by weight is 500 parts per million. This compares with 1,100, 700, and 600 parts per million, respectively, for iron, silicon, and magnesium, which rank seventh, eighth, and ninth. Yet in Earth’s crust, sulfur ranks as only the seventeenth most abundant element. There, its abundance by weight is 0.04 percent. The abundance levels for iron, silicon, and magnesium are 4.10, 27.71, and 2.30 percent, respectively. Thus, relative to iron and magnesium, sulfur is fifty times less abundant in Earth’s crust than it is in the universe.
Phosphorus, an element crucial for the assembly of DNA and RNA molecules, and likewise critical for metabolic reactions in all organisms, is super-abundant in Earth’s crust. Relative to magnesium and iron, phosphorus is four times more abundant in Earth’s crust than it is in the universe or the Sun.
Relative to magnesium and iron, uranium and thorium, which provide most of the energy driving plate tectonics, and thereby making continents possible, are about 10,000 and 1,000 times more abundant in Earth’s crust, respectively, than in the universe or the Sun. They are both much more abundant in the planet’s interior (the necessary location for the energy driving plate tectonics) than in the crust.
The table below summarizes Earth’s anomalous abundances of elements. Every one of our planet’s exceptional abundance characteristics discovered so far has proven to be essential for the support of life and of advanced life in particular. The evidence for the supernatural, super-intelligent design of Earth is mounting.
Earth’s Anomalous Abundances 
carbon 500 times less
water 250 times less
sulfur 50 times less
phosphorus 4 times more
uranium 10,000 times more
thorium 1,000 times more
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