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Corante Blogs examine, through the eyes of leading observers, analysts, thinkers, and doers, critical themes and memes in technology, business, law, science, and culture.

The Press Will Be Outsourced Before Stopped

Vin Crosbie, on the challenges, financial and otherwise, that newspaper publishers are facing: "The real problem, Mr. Newspaperman, isn't that your content isn't online or isn't online with multimedia. It's your content. Specifically, it's what you report, which stories you publish, and how you publish them to people, who, by the way, have very different individual interests. The problem is the content you're giving them, stupid; not the platform its on."
by Vin Crosbie in Rebuilding Media

Travels In Numerica Deserta

There's a problem in the drug industry that people have recognized for some years, but we're not that much closer to dealing with it than we were then. We keep coming up with these technologies and techniques which seem as if they might be able to help us with some of our nastiest problems - I'm talking about genomics in all its guises, and metabolic profiling, and naturally the various high-throughput screening platforms, and others. But whether these are helping or not (and opinions sure do vary), one thing that they all have in common is that they generate enormous heaps of data.
by Derek Lowe in In the Pipeline

Disrobing the Emperor: The online “user experience” isn't much of one

Now that the Web labor market is saturated and Web design a static profession, it's not surprising that 'user experience' designers and researchers who've spent their careers online are looking for new worlds to conquer. Some are returning to the “old media” as directors and producers. More are now doing offline consulting (service experience design, social policy design, exhibition design, and so on) under the 'user experience' aegis. They argue that the lessons they've learned on the Web can be applied to phenomena in the physical and social worlds. But there are enormous differences...
by Bob Jacobson in Total Experience

Second Life: What are the real numbers?

Clay Shirky, in deconstructing Second Life hype: "Second Life is heading towards two million users. Except it isn’t, really... I suspect Second Life is largely a 'Try Me' virus, where reports of a strange and wonderful new thing draw the masses to log in and try it, but whose ability to retain anything but a fraction of those users is limited. The pattern of a Try Me virus is a rapid spread of first time users, most of whom drop out quickly, with most of the dropouts becoming immune to later use."
by Clay Shirky in Many-to-Many

The democratisation of everything

Over the last few years we've seen old barriers to creativity coming down, one after the other. New technologies and services makes it trivial to publish text, whether by blog or by print-on-demand. Digital photography has democratised a previously expensive hobby. And we're seeing the barriers to movie-making crumble, with affordable high-quality cameras and video hosting provided by YouTube or Google Video and their ilk... Music making has long been easy for anyone to engage in, but technology has made high-quality recording possible without specialised equipment, and the internet has revolutionised distribution, drastically disintermediating the music industry... What's left? Software maybe? Or maybe not."
by Suw Charman in Strange Attractor

RNA Interference: Film at Eleven

Derek Lowe on the news that the Nobel Prize for medicine has gone to Craig Mello and Andrew Fire for their breakthrough work: "RNA interference is probably going to have a long climb before it starts curing many diseases, because many of those problems are even tougher than usual in its case. That doesn't take away from the discovery, though, any more than the complications of off-target effects take away from it when you talk about RNAi's research uses in cell culture. The fact that RNA interference is trickier than it first looked, in vivo or in vitro, is only to be expected. What breakthrough isn't?"
by Derek Lowe in In the Pipeline

PVP and the Honorable Enemy

Andrew Phelps: "Recently my WoW guild has been having a bit of a debate on the merits of Player-vs.-Player (PvP) within Azeroth. My personal opinion on this is that PvP has its merits, and can be incredible fun, but the system within WoW is horridly, horribly broken. It takes into account the concept of the battle, but battle without consequence, without emotive context, and most importantly, without honor..."

From later in the piece: "When I talk about this with people (thus far anyway) I typically get one of two responses, either 'yeah, right on!' or 'hey, it’s war, and war isn’t honorable – grow the hell up'. There is a lot to be said for that argument – but the problem is that war in the real historical world has very different constraints that are utterly absent from fantasized worlds..."
by Andrew Phelps in Got Game

Rats Rule, Right?

Derek Lowe: "So, you're developing a drug candidate. You've settled on what looks like a good compound - it has the activity you want in your mouse model of the disease, it's not too hard to make, and it's not toxic. Everything looks fine. Except. . .one slight problem. Although the compound has good blood levels in the mouse and in the dog, in rats it's terrible. For some reason, it just doesn't get up there. Probably some foul metabolic pathway peculiar to rats (whose innards are adapted, after all, for dealing with every kind of garbage that comes along). So, is this a problem?.."
by Derek Lowe in In the Pipeline

Really BAD customer experience at Albertsons Market

Bob Jacobson, on shopping at his local Albertsons supermarket where he had "one of the worst customer experiences" of his life: "Say what you will about the Safeway chain or the Birkenstock billionaires who charge through the roof for Whole Foods' organic fare, they know how to create shopping environments that create a more pleasurable experience, at its best (as at Whole Foods) quite enjoyable. Even the warehouses like Costco and its smaller counterpart, Smart & Final, do just fine: they have no pretentions, but neither do they dump virtual garbage on the consumer merely to create another trivial revenue stream, all for the sake of promotions in the marketing department..."
by Strange Attractor in Total Experience

The Guardian's "Comment is Free"

Kevin Anderson: "First off, I want to say that I really admire the ambition of the Guardian Unlimited’s Comment is Free. It is one of the boldest statements made by any media company that participation needs to be central to a radical revamp of traditional content strategies... It is, therfore, not hugely surprising to find that Comment is Free is having a few teething troubles..."
by Kevin Anderson in strange
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

The Loom

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March 18, 2005

Evolution at Work (and creationism nowhere in sight)

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Posted by Carl Zimmer

hiv-1.gifYou may have heard last month's news about an aggressive form of HIV that had public health officials in New York scared out of their professional gourds. They isolated the virus from a single man, and reported that it was resistant to anti-HIV drugs and drove its victim into full-blown AIDS in a manner of months, rather than the normal period of a few years. Skeptics wondered whether all the hoopla was necessary or useful. The virus might not turn out to be all that unusual, some said; perhaps the man's immune system had some peculiar twist that gave the course of his disease such a devastating arc. But everyone did agree that the final judgment would have to wait until the scientists started publishing their research.

Today the first data came out in the Lancet. One of the figures jumped out at me, and I've reproduced it here. The scientists drew the evolutionary tree of this new strain. Its branch is marked here as "index case." The researchers compared the sequence of one its genes to sequences from other HIV strains, looking to see how closely related it was to them. The length of the branches shows how different the genetic sequences are from one another. The tree shows that this is not a case of contamination from some other well-known strain. Instead, this new strain sticks way out on its own. The researchers say that they're now working their way through a major database of HIV strains maintained at Los Alamost to find a closer relative.

This tree is a road map for future research on this new strain. It will allow scientists to pinpoint the evolutionary changes caused by natural selection or other factors that made this strain so resistant to anti-HIV drugs. Scientists will also be able to rely on evolutionary studies of other viruses. Often drug-resistant pathogens have to pay a reproductive cost for their ability to withstand attack from our medicines. Under normal conditions, they reproduce more slowly than resistant strains. But scientists have also found that pathogens can then undergo new mutations that compensate for this handicap and make them as nasty as their resistant counterparts. It's possible that the new strain has undergone compensatory mutations, which might make it such a threat.

So here we have evolutionary trees and natural selection at the very core of a vitally important area of medical research. Yet we are told again and again by op-ed columnists and certain members of boards of education that evolution is nothing but an evil religion and that creationism of one flavor or another is the future of science. You'd expect then that Intelligent Design or some other form of creationism would help reveal something new about this HIV. But it has not. That should count for something.


Update: 4/12/05 Greetings, visitors from Answers in Genesis. You may be interested in this new post.

Comments (59) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Evolution


COMMENTS

1. Jim Bendewald on March 18, 2005 03:39 PM writes...

As a creationist I would like to clarify a few of Carl Zimmer’s misunderstandings. Zimmer implies that creationists would have a problem with a virus mutating and changing. This is not true. In fact, all of the scientific observations that Zimmer mentions fit well in the concept of “kinds” described in the Bible. The Bible states that God created after their kind; not every breed of cow or elephant were created, rather God simply created elephants and cows. Natural selection, mutations, genetic drift all help to explain the various changes within kinds that make up what we commonly call breeds. Creationists use the same laboratory science as evolutionists do but when the science turns to philosophy then our conclusions are much different.

For evolution to be shown to be true the virus needs to mutate to something beyond a virus. With viruses and bacteria reproducing as often as they do and with millions of studies around the world there ought to be some evidence of organisms going beyond their "kind"!

Creationists have evidence for creation that is logical, realistic and plentiful. While evolutionists insist their theory is beyond dispute, ordinary people are waking up to see the evolutionist emperor really is wearing no clothes. The following are two examples of evidence for creation.

First, the Bible states that God created out of nothing (“ex nilo”) fully formed and fully functional creatures as the fossil record reveals. Design is evident in all of creation. As it can be seen that an arrowhead was designed, compared to a random broken rock; it is evidence that a mountain lion was designed. Evolutionists claim this is an example of “scientists can’t explain it, so God did it”. On the contrary. Just as a designed building implies a designer, the design of life implies the magnificent designer--God.

Second, wherever one observes information, whether in a book, on a sign or from the words “I love you” in the sand, one intuitively knows the information came from an intelligent source. Information is far too complex to come from a natural source like wind or water erosion. DNA is known to be a long string of assembly instructions for building an entire organism, animal or person. The amount of code in DNA for even the simplest life form, bacteria, would fill entire sets of encyclopedias. Since information is always from an author; logically, the code in DNA is from the magnificent author--God.

While evolutionists provide rhetoric that evolution is true they really have very little evidence. Evolutionists misrepresent and distort the creationist view while claiming that any change within a kind is evidence for evolution. In reality, changes within kinds better represent the creationist view. If evolution is true, reveal to us laboratory evidence for upward changes that go beyond a virus, bacteria or any other kind of organism.

Jim Bendewald is a co-author of Evolution Shot Full of Holes and developed the CD-ROM program Evidence the Bible is the True. www.evidencepress.com

Permalink to Comment

2. Carl Zimmer on March 18, 2005 04:03 PM writes...

A few questions for Jim Bendewald:

1. Is there an example of medical findings published in peer-reviewed journals in which the research was explicitly guided by creationism?

2. I gather from your comment that all viruses are a "kind," as are elephants and cows. But why should HIV, which infects certain immune cells be the same kind as viruses that only infect nerve cells or stomach cells? Certainly they would seem just as different as cows are from elephants.

3. If HIV is in fact its own "kind," then how do all branches of HIV branch off within the tree of chmipanzee simian immunodeficiency viruses? Evolutionary biology gives a clear answer: they evolved from chimpanzees SIV ancestors. What answer do you have?

4. Let's say that viruses are all a "kind," because they all share certain similarities. Then how does one explain the recently discovered mimivirus, which shows some features of a virus and some features of a prokaryote?

Permalink to Comment

3. Charles Winder on March 18, 2005 05:02 PM writes...

Jim Bendewald:

Please list all of the "kinds," as revealed to you in the Bible. Surely you must have some criterion for delimiting these entities other than "dogs go 'woof' and cats go 'meow.'"

Permalink to Comment

4. Brian Regal on March 18, 2005 05:15 PM writes...

Mr. Bendewald makes the same spurious argument many creationists make of using engineering analogs to explain how evolution dosen't work. They point to a mousetrap, pocket watch,an airplane or in this case a building. Machines only change thier form if a human agency does it for them. Living organisms do not behave like machines. This approach is an attempt to convince people that if living things do change they must have, like a machine, had help. Also, allowing for natural selection to alter the kinds smacks of backsliding in the face of overwhelming evidence that evolution works just the way biologists say it does. This approach was being used back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Alfred Russel Wallace and St. George Jackson Mivart who wanted to account for the mind by God but the body by evolution.

Brian Regal is the author of Henry Fairfield Osborn: Race and the Search for the Origins of Man (Ashgate, 2002) and Human Evolution: A Guide to the Debates (ABC-CLIO, 2004).

Permalink to Comment

5. Tim F on March 18, 2005 05:28 PM writes...

You could call me a meta-creationist. Rather than evolving naturally from legitimate predecessors, I believe that creationism was created intact by a mediocre intelligence to act as a bulwark against other aspects of social change that it both hates and fears. Proof of my theory can be found in creationism working perfectly as a means of driving people away from rational thought and towards superstition while offering nothing whatsoever in terms of practical benefits. It runs against logic that folks would evolve a worldview that walls them off from progress in science and medicine. Conversely, mediocre intelligences atop gilded thrones have every reason to be threatened by the same sorts of progress.

One thing to learn from recorded history is that trends always follow the money. That's why economists make such mind-boggling bloggers: they're the ones best-equipped to explain complicated things. Even when they're wrong they sound pretty compelling. Anyhow, with regards to creationism following the money points inexorably to my theory (hypothesis? bah!) of meta-creationism.

Permalink to Comment

6. Gary Samaniego on March 18, 2005 05:58 PM writes...

Carl Zimmer seems to be under the misconception that science is the realm of those who deny the existence of God while those who believe in God are anti-science morons (no he didn't say that but he comes across that way). He would do well to study the history of science, and specifically how Christianity contributed to the foundations of science in the Middle Ages. He might also want to note that many scientific theories and discoveries were first proposed (made) by deeply religious people.

For example, an Austrian Monk, Gregor Mendel, first came up with the basic theory of heredity; Louis Pasteur requires no explanation other then to say he was a very devout Catholic; Saint Augustine supported the theory of evolution (as do many Catholics) but not necessarily Darwinism which is now under attack even from many scientists; the Belgian mathematician and Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre first put forth the theory of the Big Bang which was rejected or ignored by most scientists of the time (1930’s); Galileo was also a very devout Catholic as was Copernicus; etc., etc.

Mr. Zimmer also seems to completely misunderstand the general idea of creation. Using the generally accepted modern definition of creationism, i.e. a strict literal interpretation of the bible, seems to be Mr. Zimmer's only point of reference. This is a minority view in the Christian world. However, speaking as a member of the oldest Christian Church (I'm a Catholic) I can say that this way of interpreting the bible has never been required; nor has it even been emphasized most of the time.

Finally, Mr. Zimmer heralds the evolutionary discovery of the HIV mutating as if it proves Darwinism! Darwinism predicts the mutation of one species to another; this is a far cry from what Mr. Zimmer describes in his article. When the HIV virus mutates into an amoeba, or some other completely distinct living thing (i.e. macro-evolution), then Mr. Zimmer will have something to point to as evidence for Darwinism. So far all he has done is show that microevolution is occurring, and that is something even the most fundamentalist Biblical Creationist has always accepted anyway.


Permalink to Comment

7. Jim Bendewald on March 18, 2005 05:59 PM writes...

In regard to Zimmers questions:

1. Thank you for responding to my review so quickly. Concerning your first question (or charge) I wish to remind you of your misunderstanding that creation science in the laboratory is no different than from a secular scientist. The research, study, procedures etc. would be the same. The differences come into play with extrapolations about “evolution” and other philosophy based questions.

Concerning why there are so few articles from creationists in peer reviewed journals I will quote from an article I wrote entitled Time for a Reality Check. “A third reality check is that proponents of evolution claim that creationists are trying to bypass the normal peer review process. In reality, papers in favor of creation submitted to peer-review journals are almost always rejected outright. Those who think that the secular scientific process is objective need to keep reading. To illustrate, do a Web search on ‘Richard Sternberg,’ the previous managing editor of Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a peer-reviewed journal from the Smithsonian Institute. Sternberg, an evolutionist who holds two Ph.D.’s, approved for publication an article by Stephen Meyer in favor of intelligent design. This paper created a huge sensation and the response include articles written by scientists around the world blasting Sternberg. With his career all but shattered, what would other managing editors of peer-reviewed journals do with papers in favor of creation or intelligent design?”

As a return challenge to you: reveal peer-reviewed compelling empirical evidence of vertical evolution, not changes within a kind.

2. In all of my research I have only seen that viruses remain viruses though there are many different viruses. Can you provide evidence for viruses evolving to the point where they no longer need a host or contain both RNA and DNA? That would be vertical evolution.

To learn more about kinds I suggest you research Baraminology.

3. Again your question assumes that creation science is different than other science in the laboratory. Creationists would give the same clear answer. The source of the virus is not the question. Its migration from chimpanzees to humans is another example of change within a kind not vertical evolution!

4. The point remains: a virus remains a virus, bacteria remain bacteria. In fact all creatures share features of other kinds of creatures. Elephants have skin, bones, heart and so do cows.

If the mimivirus was such a slam dunk issue in favor of evolution we would see it in our faces on every pro-evolutionary magazine. The problem is the mimivirus is still a virus.

I appreciate your willingness to ask these questions. I have your Evolution book. You are an excellent writer.

Permalink to Comment

8. Sunil Patel on March 18, 2005 06:05 PM writes...

Wow, that's one hell of an index case. Scary.

Since information is always from an author; logically, the code in DNA is from the magnificent author--God.

That doesn't follow. Information isn't always from an author. The fact that the sun is shining tells me it is day. Who authored the information "The sun is shining"?

DNA is information, sure, but it doesn't have to be authored by an external source.

Permalink to Comment

9. Dave Tran on March 18, 2005 07:51 PM writes...

My biggest problems with intelligent design lie in it's failure to provide frameworks for further experiments and it's foundation on untested and unexamined assumptions. As a scientist I come up with theories all the time, however, the most useful ones provide predictions that can be tested. What are, to use the example of the HIV variant described above, the experiments that ID people would propose to show that the HIV variant was a designed organism?

Furthermore, design proponents alway use, as a basis for their philosophy, the analogy of machines and obvious origin, for example a watch or DNA as Jim mentioned above. Phenomena often have unobvious and unintuitive bases that aren't apparent at first glance. For example, that moving near the speed of light alters the passage of time. Yet the theory of relativity is not under attack.

Permalink to Comment

10. PacRim Jim on March 18, 2005 08:46 PM writes...

If the development of antivirals merely increases viral pathogenicity, would not the wiser course be to refrain from developing new drugs? Why drill holes in the hull of one's boat to let the water out?

Permalink to Comment

11. Jim Bendewald on March 18, 2005 09:04 PM writes...

Sunil Patel wrote: "That doesn't follow. Information isn't always from an author. The fact that the sun is shining tells me it is day. Who authored the information 'The sun is shining'?"

God did.

Besides DNA is a code that fullfills 5 levels: statistics (i.e., the code letters and words can be counted), syntax (the code fits within rules that both the sender and recepient agree to), semantics (the code has meaning), application (the code is to be applied), purpose (the code was written with purpose). You may or may not agree to this definition of information but DNA fits all five levels making it truly a code. DNA points to an author, just as a computer code points to authorship.

Permalink to Comment

12. Mike Hopkins on March 18, 2005 09:16 PM writes...

Re: Richard Sternberg

Jim Bendewald has some serious misconceptions on this affair. I am not sure if he thinks that Sternberg was fired from [i]Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington[/i] as some creationists have falsely claimed. Sternberg published the ID article on the last issue of his tenure which was expiring: he would not be editor anymore regardless on whether or not it was published. The article in question did not pass muster with the established peer-review guidelines of the journal: indeed the people which the guidelines said needed to approve approve any paper for publication only found out the paper was published when subscribers questioned why the article was there. The paper was also completely off-topic and off-format for that journal as can be easily verified by examining abstracts and tables of contents of issues of the journal at its web site. The real problem with the paper is that is was hopelessly flawed with problems that would revealed if it was peer reviewed by a relevant expert. See: [url=http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000430.html]Meyer's Hopeless Monster[/url]. Finally, the journal is contrary to the claim above is not in any way associated with the Smithsonian. That is new one. The creationist story continues to evolve. Many have claimed that Sternberg was fired from the Smithsonian when in reality he was never an employee and had no change in status at the Smithsonian. He is allowed unsupervised access and an office which was his status before this affair.

"To learn more about kinds I suggest you research Baraminology."

I have done that. I read Tood Charles Wood's [i]Understanding the Pattern of Life[/i] which is indeed a very shocking book. The book has been discussed in the talk.origins newsgroup. I say shocking since this is the closest I have seen to a creationist saying the evidence favors evolution. I would actually encourage Mr. Zimmerman to find a copy of this book and read it since it might give him loads of ideas for articles about real science and what is wrong with YECism and creationism in general.

"The point remains: a virus remains a virus, bacteria remain bacteria."

Creationist misconception alert. Bacteria show far more differences with each other than we do with the apes. Stephen Jay Gould once ranted about popular articles referring to "the [fill in the blank]"

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Permalink to Comment

13. Mike Hopkins on March 18, 2005 09:19 PM writes...

Whoops.

Sorry, about getting Mr. Zimmer's name wrong. I realized I screwed up after submitting.

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Permalink to Comment

14. steve on March 18, 2005 09:30 PM writes...

I would think that the main lesson from Panda's Thumb is, argue against creationism, but not with creationists, because that is a huge waste of time.

Permalink to Comment

15. p on March 18, 2005 09:40 PM writes...

Back to new HIV strain ... The tree looks more like a bush. While I am not surprized, it raises a couple of questions about the interaction between the natural selection process and how it is being driven by distribution differences in the population and that which is being contributed by mutation.

Permalink to Comment

16. Randy Crum on March 18, 2005 10:06 PM writes...

Jim Bendewald:

Please provide a scientific definition of "kind". By scientific definition I mean something that can be subjected to an objective test. "Species" has such a definition. Basically if two populations cannot breed and have fertile young, then they are different species. Evolutionists and creationists can run experiments on the same populations and use this definition to agree on whether organisms are different species or not.

I ask for this definition because I believe that such a definition cannot be provided by creationism. Speciation has been demonstrated numerous times so "species" and "kind" cannot be synonymous or evolution has been proven. However as the definition of "kind" is expanded beyond "species" inevitably chimps and humans, because of how similar their DNA is, become the same "kind". Clearly that is anethema for creationists. So creationists take the intellectually cowardly route of not providing a definition.

Hopefully you can prove me wrong.

Permalink to Comment

17. Joe Rugola on March 19, 2005 01:00 AM writes...

Mr. Bendewald:

Your use of the term "kind", as evinced by the statement "bacteria remain bacteria", will likely give you some problems. For example, the genetic distance between E. coli and Thermus aquaticus (both members of the bacterial domain) is greater than the distance between, not only humans and chimpanzees, but also humans and oak trees.

While I hesitate to assume, I'd imagine that you would prefer to say both that E. coli. and Taq are not of the same "kind", and that humans and chimpanzees are of the same "kind". Please explain a way in which the data I provided above suggest this is possible.

Permalink to Comment

18. Jim Bendewald on March 19, 2005 10:26 AM writes...

>>>Duane Smith wrote, “First, it is ‘ex nihilo’ not ‘ex nilo.’”

I stand corrected.

>>>Duane Smith wrote, “Creation ex nihilo is a doctrine of the Christian Church not a doctrine of the Bible.”

Like the doctrine of the Trinity, ex nihilo is not stated in the Bible but it is clear in the Bible that God by His will and words created out of nothing.

Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

Psalms 33:6 “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.”

Psalms 33:9 “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”

Genesis1:3 “Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.”

>>>Duane Smith wrote, “But of course, anyone who has read any ancient literature knows that this is a creation myth . . .”

Are you all knowing? Only those with arrogance and bias have the ability to “know” as you do. How do you know that the biblical account is not the true account and the other accounts are not a corruption of the original?


>>> Concerning the second argument Duane Smith wrote, “I'm never sure what people mean when they use the word "intuition" or its derivatives.”

Possibly if I had used the word “logically” or the phrase “it follows” I would have received less of a rebuke. But Smith admits his main intention in writing is “to have some fun at Mr. Bendewald's expense”. My main intention is to try to provide some clarity to this issue where evolutionists persistently use confusing rhetoric instead of evidence to support their view.

>>>Duane Smith wrote, “On Mr. Bendewald point about the supposed lack of evidence for evolution, we can do little better than quote the aged words of Spencer, ‘Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all.’

I don’t claim to be all knowing as Mr. Smith appears to, so I ask for some logical and reasonable evidence for evolutionary claims. Yet no one on this blog has provided evidence in favor of vertical evolution, while Zimmer has only given us the usual results from natural selection, which only confirms the biblical account.

Aside from the evidence for creation that I have already provided, another concise sampling of available evidence can be found by Russell Humphreys at: http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/4005.asp. If it was true that “their own theory is supported by no facts at all”, this debate would have been over 100 years ago. But as many people, even in the media, are starting to notice this debate is not over!

Permalink to Comment

19. Richard Harris on March 19, 2005 10:36 AM writes...

To Jim Bendewald:

You refer to the fossil record as if it supports the case for 'intelligent design'. This strikes me as absurd. The record clearly indicates increasing complexity with time, as one would expect with Darwinian evolution.

Sure, your 'intelligent designer' might have wanted to work up its designs, gradually, but why did it take it so long to upgrade from single-celled to multi-celled organisms? And anyway, wouldn't this 'intelligent designer', according to your faith position, need its own engineer, and so on, in an infinite regress?

Permalink to Comment

20. Jim Bendewald on March 19, 2005 10:41 AM writes...

Duane Smith wrote the TRACKBACKS article below which is also found at: http://www.telecomtally.com/blog/2005/03/where_is_herber.html

Permalink to Comment

21. Henry on March 19, 2005 11:06 AM writes...

Mr. Bendewald, why do you assume that all information requires an author? The only thing that all information requires to be recognized as such is an interpreter. There is nothing scientific about saying we know god exists because he created everything, that is just a matter of faith, which is the source of your assertions.

Permalink to Comment

22. Jim Bendewald on March 19, 2005 11:06 AM writes...

>>> Richard Harris wrote, “You refer to the fossil record as if it supports the case for 'intelligent design'. This strikes me as absurd. The record clearly indicates increasing complexity with time, as one would expect with Darwinian evolution.”

It is only absurd when one is blinded by their own humanistic philosophy which produced the uniformitarian view.

Derek Ager, an atheist, in his book, The Nature of the Stratagraphical Record, proposes from the geologic record that a catastrophe like a flood is the source.
Some of his comments are: "I have been trying to show how I think the geology got into the hands of the theoreticians who were conditioned by the social and political history of their day more than by observations in the field." . . . "In other words, we have allowed ourselves to be brainwashed into avoiding any interpretation of the past that involves extreme and what might be termed ‘catastrophic’ processes. However, it seems to me that the stratagraphical record is full of examples of processes that are far from normal in usual sense of the word. In particular we must conclude that sedimentation in the past has often been very rapid indeed and very spasmodic."

From the creationist view the geological layers are sorted not primarily by age but mostly by sentiment type and size. There are many evidences for catastrophic flood forming the geology of the Earth.

You just need to take off your a priori adherence to material causes.

Richard Lewontin once wrote http://www.csus.edu/indiv/m/mayesgr/Lewontin1.htm

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Wow, what an admission to the real world of evolution versus creation!

Permalink to Comment

23. Jim Bendewald on March 19, 2005 11:19 AM writes...

>>> Henry wrote: Mr. Bendewald, why do you assume that all information requires an author?

Henry, did you read my response to Sunil Patel? I do not have to assume it. Because I have never seen information come from a natural source, logically it follows as evidence that DNA did not come from a natural source either. This is evidence for a supreme author. It is not proof, it is evidence. What evidence do you have for vertical evolution?

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24. Heida Maria Sigurdardottir on March 19, 2005 11:34 AM writes...

I suggest you read Daniel Dennett's paper "Why the law of effect will not go away". The short answer to that question is that it is a non-questionbegging account of evolusion of life and behavior, while creationism is not. To exlain e.g. intelligence with intelligence does not explain anything, it begs for infinite regression (intelligence created intelligence that created intelligence...).

Heida Maria Sigurdardottir
Psychology student

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25. Heida Maria Sigurdardottir on March 19, 2005 12:06 PM writes...

Jim Bendewald said: "Because I have never seen information come from a natural source, logically it follows as evidence that DNA did not come from a natural source either."

That does not logically follow. You are confusing deduction with induction. Just because I have not seen a white raven, for example, that doesn't have to mean that they don't exist (in fact they do, they are just rare).

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26. Heida Maria Sigurdardottir on March 19, 2005 12:10 PM writes...

(I'm sorry I didn't write all this in one entry)

And, anyway, suppose that it is logically correct to assume that what you have not seen does not exist, what does that say about the existence of God? I have not seen him, have you?

Heida Maria Sigurdardottir
Psychology student

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27. Henry on March 19, 2005 12:11 PM writes...

Yes I read your comment to Sunil Patel which is why I responded.

He asked: Who authored the information "The sun is shining"?

You responded: God did.

Thats the problem, when I see the sun, which I regard as a natural source, I receive information-It is daytime.

You said: "I have never seen information come from a natural source"

Which implies that you either you can't tell day from night or you assume the sun is created by god, which again points to matters of faith rather than science.


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28. Sunil Patel on March 19, 2005 12:32 PM writes...

That does not logically follow. You are confusing deduction with induction. Just because I have not seen a white raven, for example, that doesn't have to mean that they don't exist (in fact they do, they are just rare).

Thank you, Heida. I knew the logic was faulty, but I didn't know how to express it.

Which implies that you either you can't tell day from night or you assume the sun is created by god, which again points to matters of faith rather than science.

I don't even care if he assumes the sun is created by God. What I do care about is the implication that the presence of the sun during the day is an act of God. It's not; it's a result of the earth's rotation. Did God create the earth? Fine. Is God responsible for the earth's rotation?

The problem here is if you ascribe all this to God, there is no "natural source." Why can't the objects themselves be the authors of the information, if you really must have an author?

I would just like to say, Mr. Bendewald, that I am finding this conversation very interesting, and I'm not trying to attack you but rather understand your views. And it seems to me a lot of your arguments here are getting lost in semantics.

What evidence do you have for vertical evolution?

Can you reiterate again how creationism and natural selection can be harmonious, yet vertical evolution cannot? You are saying God created "kinds," basically ancestral creatures that then diversified into what we have today through natural selection? But you do not believe, however, that chimpanzees and human beings derived from a common ancestor, despite the striking amount of genetic similarity?

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29. Mark Fox on March 19, 2005 12:38 PM writes...

Reading Zimmer is a pleasure, but I am bored by anti-creationist rhetoric. Jim Bendewald et al are not going to seriously consider evidence contrary to their beliefs. Religious discussions are a distraction from what makes this blog so interesting.

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30. Henry on March 19, 2005 12:52 PM writes...

Excellent point Sunil Patel and your point is also well received, Mark Fox.

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31. Tim F on March 19, 2005 01:10 PM writes...

Regarding my relatively inane comment above, I've spent enough time with genuine representatives of the creationist community (Eagle Ministries and Dobson's cult compound stand out) to know better than to bother with individual proponents. Creationists are ideological amoebas. They'll push one line of argument until it gets too embarrassing to defend, then they'll change the name of their theory, find another frontman and push it from the new angle. 'Equal time' arguments, which hinged on the idea that rational science was also a religious faith and so should be given equal time with all the rest, metastasized into 'irreducible complexity' and an insatiable demand for intermediate forms.

In the end it always boils down to a conclusion in search of an argument. Certainly a philosopher or political scientist could spend thousands of fruitful hours studying Jim B and his fellow theocratic footsoldiers, since that's basically the field in which they work. For a life scientist, which I am, it's about as rewarding as arguing signaling pathways with Emmanuel Kant.

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32. Heida Maria Sigurdardottir on March 19, 2005 01:56 PM writes...

Tim: This may not me a problem in the traditional life sciences, but it still is in my field, psychology. Psychology is the scientific study of mind, brain and behavior. The views of psychologists in search of mechanistic explanations of these things still clash with the views of those who believe in free will and that the behavior of people is non-deterministic (which is a kind of creationistic exlanation of behavior).

Heida Maria

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33. stephen on March 19, 2005 03:01 PM writes...

There are creationists in sight, as you've already experienced.

The others, a bit out of sight, are now condemning Imax for blasphemy:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/19/national/19imax.html?

the bunyip

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34. skeptic on March 19, 2005 03:13 PM writes...

When you think about it are definition of species should change with are knowledge of genetics. The reason two species cant interbreed can be as simple as a slight variation in the sperm size or blood type. But two animal groups that can interbreed can be very different.
Some humans can have problems interbreeding within their own species becouse of blood type. A women with O-negative blood will have problems delivering a type O-Possitive child. Her body can even reject it in the earlier stages (becouse it sees it as foreign). This is the biggest chink in the arguement. You see just becouse two groups cant interbreed doesn't mean that they didn't evolve from the same species, they just evolved differently enough to make it impossible.After all while we can fix the problem with that womens pregnancy imagine if there where more problems on top of that. The fact that this is never brought up in the political areana explains why they choose to bring it there, instead of peer review. After all if their arguement is to flawed, or lacks evidence then it wont be published. If it manages to be published despite of this, it will be shot full of holes.
The reason that wolves and coyotes can interbreed, is becouse they do at diffent points in history.The red wolve is actualy caused by are killing of grey wolves. Their numbers where so low that they breed with coyotes, making their fur red. They would normaly attack coyotes, not fuck them.According to dna evidence this has happened before, hence Canis lupus lycaon. Check the dna evidence.

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35. Paul K. on March 19, 2005 03:15 PM writes...

To quote Tim F. above: "In the end it always boils down to a conclusion in search of an argument."

Every piece of creation "science" I have ever read begins the same: The Bible is inerrant. Thus, they have the results and now must search for the evidence to prove it. And the work almost always leaves room for a supernatural explanation. This isn't how science and scientific inquiry are done. If the ID bunch and their YEC/OEC cousins want to be taken seriously in the scientific community, they need to do real science and provide testable and verifiable findings. Of course, why go to all that trouble when they can just convince a gullible public that 150 years of solid science is wrong and just one specific faith is correct...

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36. Richard Harris on March 19, 2005 03:24 PM writes...

Jim, you wrote"... From the creationist view the geological layers are sorted not primarily by age but mostly by sentiment (sic) type and size. There are many evidences for catastrophic flood forming the geology of the Earth. ..."

What about the sea shells that Darwin famously found high up in the mountains? Come off it, Jim. If you really believe the guff you quoted, then i don't think that i, or anyone else, will persuade you otherwise. The ways in which we come to form our beliefs are significantly under the control of our sub-conscious, so are not always amenable to modification by rational argument.

Despite attending a religious school, it was obvious to me as a twelve year-old that there aren't any gods, and Darwinian evolution explained the world as i perceived it.

And you didn't address my question to you; what do you think intelligently designed your god?

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37. Skeptic on March 19, 2005 06:36 PM writes...

To answer the old creationist arguement, just becouse we read dna in numerical sequence doesn't mean it was written as such. We break down bird flight in a simular fashion, that does not mean they set out to fly a numerical pattern. We read dna in a fashion that we can understand - by breaking it down. It isn't a "code" any more than the chemicals we test for during a autopsy are. We make markers to mark the reactions of certain chemicals or drugs, to other chemicals. We mark the results numericaly in order to understand what they are. This does not mean that a deus "made" them that way. I have trouble understanding how one with an education in the area of mathmatics can think that way,unless they are only using that arguement to sell a false idea to us. Their reasoning could be as simplea as the old "way of life" arguement. They belive that morals are founded on religion, and that blasphamy causes a breaking down of this religous code. I myself don't belive that, and even If I did I couldn't jusify lying to you. I'm not a means justifies the ends type. You should look out for such well meaning liers. They are more dangerous than Hitler.
Oh and as for the old flood arguement, a single flood can't cause the grand canyons. the water level would have to be low in order to cut the stones, other wise it would just sit on top of them, while the current on top washed away tall trees. The bottom of the ocean is calm during a storm. Its the top that poses a threat.
Oh and what did noah feed the elephants? have you seen how much food it takes to keep them alive for that long?
Its like their not even trying anymore. Its a becouse I say so arguement. Based on biosed arguements that are to faulty to be published. I say we should publish them, just to show they stink more than noahs ark after forty days of elephant shit, and wet wolf. Lets give them some rope, hell i'd even tie it for them, if it would just get them to shut up and let the public be educated.
Oh and dawkins your not helping. Stop mentioning the evils of religion in your books and stick to the science, that way they can't claim evolution is just a religion.

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38. Roland F. Hirsch on March 19, 2005 06:40 PM writes...

Mr Zimmer seems thoroughly confused about both evolutionary theory and its history. The diagram he presents is not a tree of descent as was used by Darwin and is used by those who seek to tell stories about the ancestor species of a present species. Rather, it is a diagram of relationship among variants of a single species, in this case HIV. It does not in any way show that one variant descended from another, but rather diagrams similarities of variants to each other. And as several have pointed out, there is no new species involved.

Further, this type of relationship was well known long before Darwin's time. While they did not construct diagrams of this kind and did not have the tools of molecular biology to guide them, growers of wine grapes knew in the 16th century about the variants of V. vinifera and how they were related. Selection of variants (clones) of a particular type of grape (e.g., Pinot Noir) for suitability to specific vineyard locations was common.

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39. skeptic on March 19, 2005 07:23 PM writes...

Hirsh doesn't seem to want to get it. Zimmer is attempting to demonstrate how the diagram relates to evolution. That they are different variations with a common ancestor. The fact that we haven't found its direct ancestor, is problamatic,but does not make the arguement invalid. After all we know that it evolved from its simion counterpart. We have even Identified a citizen 0 (a bisexual frenchy). Now the reason that they have a diagram instead of a evoulutionary tree, is that they are searching for this current strains direct ancestor. They wish to map its evolution, and find out who the citizen 0 of this strain is. If they are lucky its the guy they discoved it in, and they will contain it. If they are unlucky, then by the time we notify all the people who are infected with it, it will be in its 5th or 6th generation. Thats a lot of aids patiants getting treatment that doesn't work, and paying for it. Meanwhile aids patients who have treatable strains, may not be getting the proper treatment-due to its lack of availibility, or availible funds. If your not rich your relying on kindness of strangers for this treatment. After all its not like insurence will cover them,if they had any.
Now if you can't provide any worth-while anti-evolution arguements for us stop writing.
Oh and Zimmer start shooting these guys down. They are ruining an otherwise valid and intellectual conversation.
It's bad enough that they flood the press and town hall meetings. Now they have to take over the web. If we don't start fighting back, they will have all the children believing christian myth (and not just the christian children).
Come to think of it they are kinda like a virus, I I bet you could mark the evolution of their various strains. Now to isolate and kill this virus!

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40. Paul K. on March 20, 2005 08:02 AM writes...

skeptic wrote: "Oh and Zimmer start shooting these guys down. They are ruining an otherwise valid and intellectual conversation."

I suspect that if Mr. Zimmer took the time to address every anti-evolutionist/creationist/ID-er that wrote him, he would have time for little else in his life.

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41. Tim F on March 20, 2005 04:56 PM writes...

Zimmer should spend his time directing research and leave the creation debate to the philosophers and MDiv grad students. Might as well debate your house wiring with a MBA. Sure he's got credentials, but it's hardly an appropriate field.

Zimmer's diagram is absolutely an illustration of Darwinian evolution. You simply cannot talk about species with viruses. It's scarcely possible to even describe viruses as alive; there's no mating except by replication errors. That might make viruses the perfect model organism for understanding evolution in its simplest form, or totally inappropriate depending on how you look at it, but the question of species is not a problem. IMO Zimmer's chart simply reflects that, unfortunately, the doctors found a great assay for HIV mutation: drug resistance and fast pathogenicity. There certainly exist mutations further out on his cladogram which don't get seen simply because they don't stand out.

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42. Dan S. on March 20, 2005 05:25 PM writes...

"As a creationist I would like to clarify a few of Carl Zimmer’s misunderstandings."

HA HAHAHAHAHAHA HAHA HAHAHA HA!

Ok, that's a little mean.


"For evolution to be shown to be true the virus needs to mutate to something beyond a virus."
Talk about moving the goalposts! Now we have to demonstate, in real time, what? a bacteria evolving into a bird?

"Besides DNA is a code that fullfills 5 levels: statistics (i.e., the code letters and words can be counted), syntax (the code fits within rules that both the sender and recepient agree to), semantics (the code has meaning), application (the code is to be applied), purpose (the code was written with purpose)"

#5 is an assumption, #4 is unclear, #3 is not really meaningful in any except a metaphorical way, #2 uses categories that are hard to apply to this example (sender? recepient?), and #1 is true but not very helpful.

>>>Duane Smith wrote, “But of course, anyone who has read any ancient literature knows that this is a creation myth . . .”
" . . . How do you know that the biblical account is not the true account and the other accounts are not a corruption of the original?"

It doesn't help that the others seem to be older, if I remember correctly, but you can get around that. Nevertheless, it *is* a creation myth. Even (as you believe) it's *true,* it remains a creation myth, showing distinct details of structure, function, etc.

"4. The point remains: a virus remains a virus, bacteria remain bacteria. In fact all creatures share features of other kinds of creatures. Elephants have skin, bones, heart and so do cows."emphasis added.
Wow. Just . . . wow.
Ok, do you at least understand how evolutionary theory would account for elephants sharing skin, bones, and (four-chambered) hearts with cows?

***
See, I would say that HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
(or perhaps (silence)
is the proper response to this sort of thing, but 1) perhaps we can help people to understand actual science better, and 2) if we just laugh at them, it plays into the 'arrogant intellectual elite mocking the God-fearing common man" storyline. Oh well.
Such a contrast, though - the actual interesting questions versus the -well, I wouldn't want to say creationism is completely unproductive, no more than any other pretty self-referential, completely windowless theoretical edifice, but in terms of getting anything done (beyond marking and reinforcing social groupings . . .)

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43. Jim Bendewald on March 20, 2005 06:51 PM writes...

>>> Richard Harris wrote, “What about the sea shells that Darwin famously found high up in the mountains? Come off it, Jim. If you really believe the guff you quoted, then i don't think that i, or anyone else, will persuade you otherwise.”

Yes I do believe “the guff [I] quoted”. Many people think the biblical flood only included rain from the sky but that was only part of what caused the Flood waters to exceed all mountains by 15 cubits (about 22 or more feet). In addition to the 40 days of 24-hour rain the Bible also states in Genesis 7:11-12, “all the fountains of the great deep burst open". This implies great upheaval with the Earth’s crust, causing huge volcanoes and massive shifting of the tectonic plates. Psalm 104:8 in the context of the Flood states, “The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which You established for them.” For scientific and computer modeled evidence of this see the article from John Baumgardner, an engineer and geophysicist from Los Alamos National Laboratory. http://globalflood.org/papers/2003ICCcpt.html

Another factor that many people don’t realize is that though the rain lasted for 40 days, the flood lasted at least a full year before the occupants could get off. It was likely during the first 150 days that the mountains rose in a catastrophic manor.

The Flood is able to account for sea shells and fossil layers on the tops of mountains. In deed, the Flood is able to make sense of the formation of the mountains. A cataclysm, like The Flood, would provide the necessary force to break apart the crust, fracture plates and cause continental sprint. Some of the plates would ride over the top of others and produce mountain ranges. Evolutionists cannot adequately explain the forces needed to generate such processes. Catastrophic force is like two cars crashing head on. Uniformitarianism requires slow and gradual pressure which would be like the cars pushing against each other. Richard Milton in Shattering the Myths of Darwinism wrote,
“Darwinists reject any geological findings that point to catastrophic rather than gradual formation of rocks, for they threatened to reduce dramatically the historical time scale available for evolutionary processes. Yet such rejection is surprising in light of the geological evidence that contradicts the idea of slow, gradual formation.”

There is so much geological evidence for the Flood it is amazing that geologists continue to deny it. How can uniformitarianism account for large dinosaurs or other large creatures being fossilized? Slow and gradual burial would not allow for fossilization to occur. Their answer is a local flood. But dinosaurs are found in mountains and in various places around the globe. How can uniformitarianism account for marine fossils all over the Earth? They say the Earth was at one time covered with water but that is what creationists believe. How can uniformitarianism explain layer upon layer upon layer of fossils which include marine fossils? Their answer more local floods! How can uniformitarianism explain polystrate fossils (logs standing vertical in coal beds in various places around the world)? Their answer is more local floods! The Powder River basin of Montana has pure coal, without impurities, in some places 200 feet thick, hundreds of miles long and 50 miles wide. How can uniformitarianism explain this? They have no answer while the Flood provides the catastrophic movement of material and pressure to create the various geological features seen around the globe.

>>> Richard Harris wrote, “And you didn't address my question to you; what do you think intelligently designed your god?”

I agree this is a faith statement (more on that in the next paragraph), God is eternal and the creator of all things including time, space and matter. He is not bound by these things; He is the creator of them. Prior to God creating time there was no time. God is self existent, eternal and not created. Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Prior to the beginning, there was just God.

One of the arguments often touted against creation as science is that it is “religious” and not scientific. Though it is true that creation science is based on the Bible, evolutionists don’t seem to understand or refuse to admit that all “scientific” inquiry outside of what can be scientifically tested is open for debate--it is not fact! Evolutionary statements are based on the assumption that evolution is true and God does not exist. As Richard Lewontin so eloquently stated, “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes . . . for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” Therefore, aside from natural selection, mutations and genetic drift, all of which amount to changes within a kind, evolution is completely dependant on the philosophy of materialism and the religion of humanism. Therefore, as evolutionists point out that God is not testable and is therefore not science, I come back and say evolution is not testable and is not science either. Lets be honest and consistent!

I know that the answers I gave regarding the flood brings up many more questions I will try to get to them when I can.

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44. John S Bolton on March 20, 2005 08:57 PM writes...

Here you have an instance of something which has mutated while maintaining its genetic resemblance to the parent stock, yet, the functional qualities of it may be as different as a different species. Hopefully, HIV mutates more than a hundred times as fast as TB, since, if there are a hundred times as many infected with TB as HIV, we will get all drug resistant TB that is fast killing also, and not so many years off. The generation of a genetic outlier is clearly not that difficult, when mutation rates are high, for whatever reason. Considering how much mutagenic radiation and other factors are present in the environments, it is scarcely economical to posit that only special unknown causes of mutation can account for what is so common.

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45. William Knight on March 20, 2005 11:00 PM writes...

Jim Bendewald writes:

There is so much geological evidence for the Flood it is amazing that geologists continue to deny it.

Ok, I think after a comment like this, it should be clear to most people that debating the origin of life with creationists like Bendewald is rather pointless. Not only does he just dismiss the huge body of knowledge in the biological sciences, but he does the same thing in the entirely distinct field of geological science!

Geology is much more fundamental than biology in the sense that it applies physical and chemical theory to explain non-living materials and processes, for the most part. And yet, the expert judgement from this field of knowledge is also just waved away!

I'm certain that if the Bible had stated that the sun revolves around the earth, then Bendewald would likewise claim

"There is so much astronomical evidence for Geocentrism it is amazing that astronomers continue to deny it."

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46. manju on March 20, 2005 11:12 PM writes...

If you people are tired of these arguments, you can read me funny thougths about evolution and existence of fate.

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47. Jim Bendewald on March 21, 2005 12:23 AM writes...

>>>Dan S. wrote, “Talk about moving the goalposts! Now we have to demonstate, in real time, what? a bacteria evolving into a bird?”

Theoretically if evolution was true the first reproducing life form would have been a bacteria and would have evolved from a prokaryote to a eukaryote. Since bacteria rapidly reproduce, they are asexual therefore compared to the sexual organisms mutations more frequently get carried on to the next generation. If natural selection and mutations have the evolutionary abilities that evolutionists claim, it should be seen in bacteriology. With bacteriology studies constantly going on around the world, if vertical evolution was true, it should be seen on this level. However, instead of evidence for evolution bacteriology has revealed evidence for deterioration.

Lee Spetner, who holds a Ph.D. in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has studied the issue of new information extensively. In his book, Not By Chance, Spetner wrote,
“But in all the reading I’ve done in the life-sciences literature, I’ve never found a mutation that added information. The NDT [neo-Darwinian Theory] says, not only that such mutations must occur, they must also be probable enough for a long sequence of them to lead to macroevolution . . . All point mutations that have been studied on the molecular level turn out to reduce the genetic information and not to increase it.”

Studies of bacteria have shown that when a strain of bacteria survive a caustic environment the DNA of the surviving bacteria have lost information, not gained it. This is also observed in purebred dogs tending to have more medical problems then crossbred dogs. The crossbred dogs are genetically stronger possibly due to more genetic information.

Therefore, I don't believe that I'm asking for anything too unreasonable; just provide some evidence for prokaryotes evolving into eukaryotes.

>>>Dan S. wrote, “#5 is an assumption, #4 is unclear, #3 is not really meaningful in any except a metaphorical way, #2 uses categories that are hard to apply to this example (sender? recepient?), and #1 is true but not very helpful.”

In the following answer I admit that my answers will be quite simplistic. I ask that you give me some latitude. I am trying to reduce the content of a book into a paragraph. The book is, In The Beginning Was Information, by Werner Gitt. I will concede that #5 the purpose layer assumes that DNA was created. For #4 the application layer means that the information is not only correct and understood it also does something. For example in DNA is the directions for building proteins and proteins are in fact made in the cell. For #3 the semantics layer, information not only provides rules that the recipient agrees to, it also understands what the rules mean. For example, cell walls have gatekeepers that allow the refuse to leave the cell and the nutrients to enter. The gatekeepers somehow understand the rules to allow the garbage to leave while allowing the nutrients to enter. For #2 the syntax layer, (agreed upon rules by sender and recipient) applies to DNA very well. For the English language we have 26 letters in the alphabet. Letters are arranged according to words in the dictionary. Both the sender and recipient agree to the rules that make up the words. If the letters were random, with any arrangement of letters making up words the message would be undecipherable. Likewise in DNA there are four bases arranged as specific “words” that both the recipient and the sender agree to. If the bases were arranged in any random order the code would be undecipherable. The #1 layer statistics, (as already stated) our alphabet has 26 letters while DNA has four. Those four letters get formed into genes which are carried away by the RNA and provide the instructions for the cell to do something. If the number of letters are off in the gene then the information is corrupted.

Therefore, every level of information is crucial for the cell to be properly built and maintained. For a non-intelligent natural cause to provide these levels of information, (DNA for bacteria is at least the size of a set of encyclopedias) would be incredible. You may scoff and scorn but I believe the information argument is pretty close to providing “proof” that there is a magnificent creator whom we call God.

>>>Dan S. wrote, “It doesn't help that the others seem to be older, if I remember correctly, but you can get around that. Nevertheless, it *is* a creation myth. Even (as you believe) it's *true,* it remains a creation myth, showing distinct details of structure, function, etc.”

Yes, in a technical sense it does fit the pattern of a myth. However, myth (unlike the popular understanding) does not necessarily mean the story is untrue.


>>>Dan S. wrote, “4. The point remains: a virus remains a virus, bacteria remain bacteria. In fact all creatures share features of other kinds of creatures. Elephants have skin, bones, heart and so do cows."emphasis added.
Wow. Just . . . wow.
Ok, do you at least understand how evolutionary theory would account for elephants sharing skin, bones, and (four-chambered) hearts with cows?”

I was answering Zimmer's question, "Then how does one explain the recently discovered mimivirus, which shows some features of a virus and some features of a prokaryote?” He was trying to say that the mimivirus has some features of a virus and some of a prokaryote. I was saying, yes, so what, all creatures share some common features.

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48. Jim Bendewald on March 21, 2005 12:46 AM writes...

>>>William Knight wrote, “Ok, I think after a comment like this, it should be clear to most people that debating the origin of life with creationists like Bendewald is rather pointless. Not only does he just dismiss the huge body of knowledge in the biological sciences, but he does the same thing in the entirely distinct field of geological science!”

As I stated earlier, there are evolutionists that are not on the uniformitarian bandwagon (creationists are not the only ones seeing the geologic evidence for catastrophe). One example is Derek Ager, an atheist, in his book, The Nature of the Stratagraphical Record, proposes from the geologic record that a catastrophe like a flood is the source.

Some of Ager's comments are: "I have been trying to show how I think the geology got into the hands of the theoreticians who were conditioned by the social and political history of their day more than by observations in the field." "In other words, we have allowed ourselves to be brainwashed into avoiding any interpretation of the past that involves extreme and what might be termed ‘catastrophic’ processes."

>>>William Knight wrote, “Geology is much more fundamental than biology in the sense that it applies physical and chemical theory to explain non-living materials and processes, for the most part. And yet, the expert judgement from this field of knowledge is also just waved away!

Wrong, I am providing sound, logical and reasonable arguments while you provide insults which only shows the weakness of your evidence.

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49. Wayne Francis on March 21, 2005 01:54 AM writes...

Jim Bendewald aviods defining "Kind" once agian.

Jim do you realise that the writings of the flood account have changed over time?

About ~1000BC
And the rain was upon the land forty days and forty nights,
and the waters surged up and carried the ark,
and the ark rose above the land

This changed to this around 600BC

17And the flood was upon the land for 40 days.
18And the waters became great, and grew very, very much on the earth, and the ark was carried along on the waters.
19And the waters increased very greatly on the land, and the covered all the high mountains which were under all the heavens.
20The waters rose till they were 15 cubits above the mountain tops.

Your valued "15 cubits" was added atleast 400 years after some of the earliest copies of this version of the flood account.

"They say the Earth was at one time covered with water but that is what creationists believe. "

I'm not sure where you get this but where does it say that the Earth was covered by water anywhere but the bible? Many parts of the Earth where covered by water at different times but not all at once. The "sea shells on mountian tops" arguement is a sign of ignorance. Mountain ranges occur on plate boundries. Slow pressure will push one of the plates up as the other other moves under it. Even rock shows traits of liquid in large time scales. Any water action that had to occur in 1 year to cause a mountian would not have been able to mold the rocks but the dramatic stress would have shattered it to pieces.

You are a YECer that denies science of Biology, Geology, Astronomy and just about every science out there because it all points to a 14+ Billion year old universe and 4.5+ billion year old earth.

All because you can't recognise that your religious text has evolved over time and you believe that the way it is now is the way it has always been.

Now Jim define "Kind" so we can either show you an example of a transition of "Kind" or show you that Chimps are the same "Kind" as humans.


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50. Richard Harris on March 21, 2005 06:25 AM writes...

Jim, we arrive at determinations of ‘the truth’ by various processes, acting at the level of our sub-conscious minds.

For example, “Even when we act from cool and calculated self-advantage, our conception of where that advantage lies is shaped and sustained by our 'passion': sometimes passions of vanity, or of fear, or of how we stand in the eyes of others; sometimes deposits from memories of shameful failures or elating successes. This tradition provides a far richer account of motivation than does classical rational choice theory, whose 'economic man' is too often a horrible caricature of actual human agency.” (Simon Blackburn --The New Republic 31/12/01).

We also have a desire for truth as revealed by the word of authority figures; or as ordained by the prevailing social consciousness; or as best fits our pre-existing mental model of the world; or by the fruits of a quest for evidence. Our different genetic inheritances and life experiences mean some of us rely more upon, say, revealed truth, and others rely upon the quest for evidence.

As you probably know, the book that you lovingly quote comes in the category of ‘revealed truth’. Science, through its accumulative process of scientific theory withstanding falsifiability, is in the category of ‘quest for evidence’. Because these activities are both human endeavours, there will be some overlap, but nevertheless, there is a huge gulf separating the two processes.

I was educated in a religious school, and was heavily indoctrinated. But as a small boy, I found a copy of Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”, which I read. After two or three years of gestation, at age twelve, I became an atheist, because, for me, revealed truth didn’t carry much weight, but rigour in seeking out evidence and assessing it did. For you, revealed truth is obviously important.

I am too busy to waste any more time trying to persuade you of the truths to which you are so obviously blind.

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51. Tim F on March 21, 2005 09:10 AM writes...

John Bolton - Drug-resistant TB exists. It has already become epidemic in the east, particularly in Russian prisons and institutions, and it''s only a matter of time before it spreads west.

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52. Steve on March 21, 2005 12:10 PM writes...

Dan S. writes: Talk about moving the goalposts! Now we have to demonstate, in real time, what? a bacteria evolving into a bird?

I wonder if computer simulations are not far off from doing just that. If researchers have the ability to map the genome of bacteria and birds, and computers can simulate complex events such as weather systems, why not a simulation of species transformation?

It brings to mind the expression that if a billion monkeys pounded on a billion typewriters, one would write Hamlet. If billions of bacteria genomes mutated in unpredictable ways over billions of generations, evenutually, there would be a transformation into birdlike genome.

You could than analyze how many generations it takes to render the transformation and see how closely it matches historical records. I don't profess to be a mathematician or computer science expert, just an obsessive thinker.

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53. First Time Blogger on March 21, 2005 12:27 PM writes...

Jim I suggest you read Ager's actual works.

He considers the flood a myth. And catasrophies on a local scale are part of the Geologic Record.

Here is what Ager had to say about creationists claiming he supported them. And about extreme Uniformitists which are quite rare. Modern Uniformitism includes the importance of local castrophies.

"For a century and a half the geological world has been dominated, one might even say brain-washed, by the gradualistic uniformitarianism of Charles Lyell. Any suggestion of 'catastrophic' events has been rejected as old-fashioned, unscientific and even laughable. This is partly due to the extremism of some of Cuvier's followers, though not of Cuvier himself.

On that side too were the obviously untenable views of bible-oriented fanatics, obsessed with myths such as Noah's flood, and of classicists thinking of Nemesis. That is why I think it necessary to include the following 'disclaimer': in view of the misuse that my words have been put to in the past, I wish to say that nothing in this book should be taken out of context and thought in any way to support the views of the 'creationists' (who I refuse to call 'scientific')."
From "The New Catastrophism: The Importance of the Rare Event in Geological History"

Oh and Jim Seashells in mountain peaks were considered evidence against the Noachican Flood before Darwin wrote the Origin of the Speices.

Even Gaileo said they weren't evidence of a global flood but against the flood.

Plate Tectonics explains why mountains can have seashells because those mountain peaks hundreds of millions of years ago were actually thousands of feet below sea level. Plate Tectonics caused the mountains to form lifting up parts of the ocean floor.

And since information has never been clarifed into a testable falsible defination by ID advocates refered to as IDiots it is meaningless to claim a decrease.

The DNA of these bacteria you claim suffer a loss actually are more complex and have genes that never existed before. They have added genes.

You obviosuly have never studied any peer reviewed scientific work because all scientific studies dealing with genetic codes show genes coming about that never existed before due to new conditions. Also several studies show how a few genes removed can cause a species to have new abilities that are quite benefical and actually are a better design.

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54. William Knight on March 21, 2005 02:44 PM writes...

Jim Bendewald wrote:

Wrong, I am providing sound, logical and reasonable arguments while you provide insults which only shows the weakness of your evidence.

Well, it is true that I resorted to insult, and for that I apologize. However, my purpose was to emphasize the larger point of how completely at odds your creationist position is with respect to areas of established science that go far beyond evolutionary theory. The further outside of the mainstream that someone is in their claims, the greater is the burden on their part to demonstrate why others should believe them.

Current scientific theory has had to prove itself to society through hundreds of years of practical demonstration. If you expect reasonable people to be open to questioning the scientific status quo, you are going to need very comprehensive, powerful, and independently-verifiable demonstrations to support your position, not just selective arguments. The burden of proof is on you, and a heavy burden it is.

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55. Ed Darrell on March 21, 2005 05:06 PM writes...

Creationism can easily pass over into something else, but in any case it does not reflect Christian theology.

A flood could indeed account for seashells on mountains. Alas for creationism, the seashells are in the mountains. Some of the layers of ancient sea remains in the Himalayas, for example are thousands of feet thick. They include remains from shallow ocean creatures, and the rocks are laid down lazily, over time, not in a flood. The only way that could happen is if the ocean was fossilized in place, and later raised to the tops of mountains as part of the mountains themselves.

This is why Christians such as Rev. Adam Sedgwick pronounced flood geology dead -- in December 1831. Sedgwick had been in the forefront of the search for geological evidence from the "great flood" -- but it did not exist. No cities of people caught in the flood have ever been found. Gravels across Europe originally thought to have been from the flowing flood waters turned out to be placed the wrong way, and then Agassiz (another Christian creationist) pointed out they were moraines left from ancient ice sheets, not flowing water. The rocks on the mountains turned out to be rocks in the mountains -- no piece of evidence then, or now, supports the notion of a fantastic flood, worldwide.

There is also an allegation from Mr. Bendewald that creationist papers are rejected from science journals. This is false.

The issue was litigated, in fact, in the Arkansas trial in 1981. Creationists made the same allegation there. Judge William Overton invited the creationists to insert into the court's record some of these creationist write-ups which had been rejected -- better if they came with the rejection slips. After some months of fruitless searching, the creationists confessed they had none.

And this is the dirty secret of creationism that Mr. Zimmer so graciously and briefly raised: Creationism does no research. The reason there are no creationism articles is that creationists don't do research.

Oh, there are a few who do research using something other than a creationism paradigm. Michael Behe, for example, has nearly 40 publications to his name. Clearly he knows the path to the mailbox and the words to use to persuade editors to run his stuff, when he writes it up. So why does Behe have nothing in any science journal that either debunks evolution or supports intelligent design creationism? He has nothing to write. His research agenda is not aimed at producing such evidence. A cynic might suggest that creationists have no ideas at all -- but I think it more likely that when they actually test the ideas, they discover evolution is very solid after all. Who wants to hear that?

So, to sum in three points: Christianity is not monolithically opposed to science or evolution; in fact most mainstream Christians make peace with science on those issues. The flood was falsified by Christians, and there has been no new evidence discovered since 1831 to unfalsify the idea. And third, the claim that creationists are denied access to science journals is false. Creationists have full access to this site, for example, and they are held to no different standard than others in publishing. Creationists must have research to publish, and write it up, however, and creationists fail to do that.

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56. Trevor Hill on March 22, 2005 01:15 AM writes...


The real problem with creationism is that there is no need for a 'creator' in order for something to be created. We know that various random forces coming together can create things without an intelligence guiding these processes.

Anyone who studies computer science knows that we can write evolutionary algorithms to evolve all sorts of things with complex functions and behaviors, simply by beginning with random numbers and an environment conducive to evolution. This is proof in my book. It just works.

Using descriptions like 'points to an author' don't get to the heart of the problem, but rather avoid it. They posit God as an answer because they refuse to thoroughly and scientifically analyze the heart of the question.

Creationism is like giving up the scientific inquiry into the nature of things half-way, by ascribing the rest of the solution to a supernatural power. Why not keep investigating? Why not keep attempting to understand how things work at deeper levels? Sure there is a limit to our knowledge, as Godel has shown us, but what would have happened if we simply ascribed all natural events to Gods like our ancestors did? This is different only in degree, not in 'kind'. ;)

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57. Sunil Patel on March 22, 2005 02:25 AM writes...

Studies of bacteria have shown that when a strain of bacteria survive a caustic environment the DNA of the surviving bacteria have lost information, not gained it.

Amount of DNA has nothing to do with species complexity. The field horsetail and crayfish both have over 200 chromosomes, in comparison to our 46. Hell, the domestic dog has 78.

This is also observed in purebred dogs tending to have more medical problems then crossbred dogs. The crossbred dogs are genetically stronger possibly due to more genetic information.

Purebred dogs have more medical problems due to the amplification of deleterious recessive alleles. This is simple genetics. Crossbreeding allows recessive alleles to be masked in heterogeneity. Crossbred dogs' genetic information isn't more; it's better.

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58. G. Tingey on March 22, 2005 04:18 AM writes...

"God" authorised the Sun to shine?
Really?
Erm, can you detect this god anywhere, please?
it is a scientific (falisifiable) principle that "God is not detectable"
Until god is detected, than the way to bet (Occam's Razor) is that he, she or it does not exist.

The Flood.
Erm - has anyone heard of the drowning of the Euxine Lake approx 5650BC to make the Black Sea -a real flood, but not covering the whole world - though it probably seemed like it at the time, if you were living there ...

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59. Tim Chase on April 3, 2005 03:06 PM writes...

I believe it is always good to include some examples of macroevolution when discussing evolution. Here are some particularly striking examples and links to the homepages of the websites where you can learn more. Incidentally, I will try and gather together a little information on prokaryote->eukaryote, since I have found that to be particularly interesting.

Whale Evolution/Cetacean Evolution (Atavistic Hind Limbs on Modern Whales)
http://edwardtbabinski.us/whales/
from
Edward T Babinski
http://edwardtbabinski.us/

Smooth Change in the Fossil Record
http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/creation/fossil_series.html
from
Don Lindsay Archive
http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/

Transitional Fossil Species
http://www.origins.tv/darwin/transitionals.htm
from
Darwinians and Evolution
http://www.origins.tv/darwin/indexpage.htm

Observed Instances of Speciation
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html
from
The Talk.Origins Archive
http://www.talkorigins.org/

Some More Observed Speciation Events
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html
(Homepage given above)

Ring Species: Unusual Demonstrations of Speciation
http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/irwin.html
from
Action Bioscience.Org
http://www.actionbioscience.org/

The Evolution Evidence Page (homepage for website)
http://www.gate.net/~rwms/EvoEvidence.html

The Fossil Record: Evolution or "Scientific Creation"
http://www.gcssepm.org/special/cuffey_05.htm
from
GCSSEPM Special Interests
http://www.gcssepm.org/special/

Incidentally, by all means, not all evolutionists are atheists. A good number are religious, but they do not permit their religious views to interfere with the quest for empirical knowledge. Here is one good example:

"Science and Religion" interview with Kenneth R. Miller
http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/miller.html

I can find others, if anyone is interested.

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