Whale and Human Vestiges (Pelvic Bone | Appendix)

Shun the Non-Believer…

A CLIP FROM CHARLIE THE UNICORN

Before posting what I did on Facebook as part of a response to a conversation regarding the below graphic… I want to say that by showing vestiges…

  • a rudimentary structure in humans corresponding to a functional structureor organ in ancestral animals

…in no way undermines Intelligent Design, or somehow PROVES evolution. Let me explain.

Darwin said he didn’t see an issue with whales evolving from bears, or some bear like creature. In his first edition of Origin of Species, Darwin said this:

  • “I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths,” Darwin concluded, “till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.”

ARCHAEOPTERYX

This does not involve “devolution,” a loss of specificity which the below picture captures… but rather, evolution demands an increase in specificity in gene and DNA specificity in the creation of whole new organs and how they act. Similarly, the Archaeopteryx is proffered as an example of evolution, but evolutionists themselves would say that this is only an example of “devolution,” and not an increase of specificity in a species (a clipping from my post: “Was Archaeopteryx Devolving? Thus Losing It’s Ability to Fly?“):

Since other feathered “birds” have been found around the same time or earlier than Archaeopteryx, causing Alan Feduccia to quip, “You can’t be older than your grandfather” (Creation.com)… NATURE has published an article pointing out that Archaeopteryx is JUST LIKE modern flightless birds. And so it could have been losing its ability for flight (like modern birds have).

“We know Archaeopteryx was living on an archipelago during the Jurassic. And with its feathers and bones looking so much like modern flightless island birds, it just makes me wonder,” says…. Michael Habib, a biologist at the University of Southern California….

[….]

“Just because Archaeopteryx was the first feathered dinosaur found, doesn’t mean it has to play a central role in the actual history of the origins of birds,” says palaeontologist Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland in College Park. “We have to remember it appears 10 million years or so after the oldest known bird-like dinosaurs and so our famous ‘first bird’ may really be a secondarily flightless one.”…

(Nature Journal)

There is just as much [at best] evidence for this proposition as the next. “Devolution” — a loss of specificity/use, may be a more reasonable position to take via observed evidence. We see this all the time (directly below is an example from Lee Spetner’s new book), and EVOLUTION NEWS says that “looks like Archaeopteryx may have to be reclassified as a different sort of icon — symbolizing evolution by loss of function.” Oops.

So these types of examples ACTUALLY COUNT AGAINST the main idea that neo-Darwinism proposed… that I came from a rock.

I find it interesting that people think this whale bone pictured above is a vestigial organ. Very similar to the list of a 180 vestigial structures said to be in the human body in the late 1800’s dwindling to effectively zero, and the damage and laziness such thinking cost lives and sciences advancement (see more here):

TONSILS

In the 1930’s over half of all children had their tonsils and adenoids removed.  In 1969, 19.5 out of every 1,000 children under the age of nine had undergone a tonsillectomy.  By 1971 the frequency had dropped to only 14.8 per 1,000, with the percentage continuing to decrease in subsequent years. Most medical authorities now actively discourage tonsillectomies.[1] Many agree with Wooley, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Wayne State University, who was quoted in Katz: “If there are one million tonsillectomies done in the United States, there are 999,000 that don’t need doing.”

Among the first medical doctors seriously to question the wisdom of tonsillectomies was Albert Kaiser.  For ten years he kept complete records of the illnesses of 5,000 children. They were divided into two groups – those who had tonsils removed and those who did not.  Kaiser found: “…no significant difference between the two groups in the number of colds, sore throats and other upper respiratory infections.”[2]

Tonsils are important to young people in helping to establish the body’s defense mechanism which produces disease-fighting antibodies.  Once these mechanisms are developed, the tonsils shrink to almost nothing in adults, and other organs take over this function.[3]  In the Medical World News,[4] a story stated that although removal of tonsils at a young age obviously eliminates tonsillitis (the inflammation of the tonsils) it may significantly increase the incidence of strep-throat and even Hodgkin’s disease.  In fact, according to the New York Department of Cancer Control: “…people who have had tonsillectomies are nearly three times as likely to develop Hodgkin’s Disease, a form of cancer that attacks the lymphoid tissue.”[5]

THE POINT

My point is this, the Tonsils were once included in a list of 180 vestigial (“useless, or nearly useless”) organs.[6]  And because the assumption was first made that these were organs left over from a previous genetic ancestor (ape, dog, early-man, whatever), that they were deemed useless – ad hoc – because science did not know at that time what their functions were.

So for many years, doctors and scientists that accepted the evolutionary paradigm did not investigate the possible functionality of these organs.  Many people suffered and died needlessly due to this philosophical assumption that evolution is true.  You will see this assumption play out again and again where medical science and the evolutionary issue intersect.  You see, if you come to the table with an understanding that we were created, then these structures serve a purpose, or are a neutral combination of the possible male/female outcome of the fertilized egg (for instance, male nipples[7]).  If the assumption is made that these structures are designed, then the medical world would strive to investigate and understand the organ in question, not simply state that it is useless.

[1] Robert P Bolande, “Ritualistic Surgery – circumcision and tonsillectomy,” New England Journal of Medicine, March 13 (1969) pp. 591-595; Alvin Eden, “When Should Tonsils and Adenoids be Removed?” Family Weekly, September 25 (1977), p. 24; Lawrence Galton, “All Those Tonsil Operations: Useless? Dangerous?” Parade, May 2 (1976), pp. 26ff; Dolras Katz, “Tonsillectomy: Boom or Boondoggle?” The Detroit Free Press, April 13 (1972), p. 1-C; Samuel Lipton, “On the Psychology of Childhood Tonsillectomy,”  found in: The Psychoanalysis Study of the Child (International Universities Press, New York: 1962).
[2] Galton, p. 26.
[3] Martin L. Gross, The Doctors (Random House, New York: 1966); Simpson Hall, Diseases of the Nose, Throat and Ear (E. and S. Livingston, New York: 1941).
[4] N. J. Vianna, Peter Greenwald, and U. N. Davies,  September 10, 1973, p.10
[5] Galton, p. 26-27.
[6] This is an important issue, for instance, during the famous Scopes trial in 1925 – which allowed evolution to be taught alongside creation – zoologist Horatio Hacket Newman, a defense witness, stated: “There are, according to Wiedersheim, no less than 180 vestigial structures in the human body, sufficient to make of a man a veritable walking museum of antiquities.”
[7] Also, if created by a personal God who has created sex to be pleasurable, then the nipples have a purpose other than the neutral canvas of the fertilized egg.

  • Jerry Bergman and George F. Howe, Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional (Creation Research Society Books, Kansas City: MO: 1990). 

WHALE TALES

SIMILARLY, the laziness in neo-Darwinian evolutionary propositions in this “example” of a vestigial organ shows the laziness in thought, and, the stalling of advancing science in understanding nature. Now, we know, and even the secular world acknowledges this fact in “discovering” [yet again] that pronouncements made by the evolutionary community of scientists is woefully wrong. Here is an example via THE DAILY MAIL – take note how I and the researches end the article:

Whale Sex Revealed: ‘Useless’ Hips Bones Are Crucial To Reproduction – And Size Really Matters, Study Finds

  • Whales and dolphins have pelvic bones, which are evolutionary remnants from when their ancestors walked on land more than 40 million years ago
  • Scientists from the University of Southern California and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, analysed pelvic bones for four years
  • Muscles that control a cetacean’s penis attach directly to its pelvic bones
  • They found the bigger the animals’ testis, the bigger their pelvic bone
  • Males from more promiscuous species evolve larger penises, so larger pelvic bones are necessary to attach bigger muscles for penis control, they said
  • Study changes the way we think about vestigial structures

[…..]

They wrote in the journal Evolution, the muscles that control a cetacean’s highly flexible penis, attach directly to its pelvic bones.

The scientist theorised that the pelvic bones could affect the level of control over the penis that an individual cetacean has, perhaps offering an evolutionary advantage.

To test their idea, they examined hundreds of pelvic bones and used a 3D scanner to make digital models of the curved bones in order to gain an unprecedented level of detail about their shape and size, as well as to compare them.

They then gathered data about testis size relative to the mass of whales. In the natural world, more ‘promiscuous’ species where females mate with many males, create a more competitive mating environment and the males develop larger testes as a way of attracting females.

[…..]

The experts compared the size of pelvic bones to the size of an animal’s testes, relative its body size, and found that the bigger the testes, the bigger the cetacean’s pelvic bone.

Males from more promiscuous species also evolve larger penises, so larger pelvic bones appear necessary to attach larger muscles for penis control, they said.

‘Our research really changes the way we think about the evolution of whale pelvic bones in particular, but more generally about structures we call vestigial,’ Professor Dean said.

‘AS A PARALLEL, WE ARE NOW LEARNING THAT OUR APPENDIX IS ACTUALLY QUITE IMPORTANT IN SEVERAL IMMUNE PROCESSES, NOT A FUNCTIONALLY USELESS STRUCTURE,’ he added….

(emphasis added)

AMBULOCETUS NATANS

In conversation about the above, the person I was speaking with posted a series of evolution from creature-to-creature proving the evolution of the whale.

I have already refuted this clean progression, HERE, but I noted something that this person was not aware of. As most people are not. You see, when you bring your kid to the Natural History Museum, you see this picture of the RED OUTLINED creature in the evidence for whales evolving:

The problem with this evidence is that it is based primarily on an artists rendition. Here is the actual bones all this Ambulocetus Natans is based on — see #3:

I merely commented that his believing and passing along graphics showing full skulls by artists, or the above “skeletal” sequence, reminds me of the movie scene from the Matrix:

In similar fashion, this artistic rendition used in the Scopes “Monkey” Trial was used as evidence proving evolution:

However, this was based off a single tooth. NOT ONLY THAT, but the tooth put forward as hominid, ended up being an extinct pig’s tooth.

APPENDIX

In similar form, many people still think the APPENDIX is a vestigial organ. Here is my response (since updated) to one of my son’s teachers in high school dealing with what was being taught as FACT… that is, that the appendix had no known use:


FULL UPDATED PAPER


Context this short paper was written:

This paper evolved over many years.  It was one of the first subjects I debated at a science discussion board on the Internet many years ago prior to the NetZero days.  Then I updated it to respond in writing to a Discover magazine article (a much larger paper, of which this takes up two pages).

Finally, as my son has been studying science in seventh grade, his science textbook states many “facts” wrongly, this being only one of the many I have since written about (peppered moths, embryos going through stages of a fish, homology, and the like).

I like to think that the teacher’s role is to not just teach what the “state” requires – this reminds me of the novels 1984, or Animal Farm – but to allow updated information into the classroom that will best challenge these students to become that medical doctor, chemist, or physicist.  In other words, I want my son to have the best information that may spark the interest to become, say, a medical doctor.  This is all that I argue for.

As it so happened, the teacher merely regurgitated what the “state” wanted her to (even after reading such a cogent and well laid response to her saying “there is no use for the appendix in the human body”).  Much like when the dog cubs were taken and “educated” in the novel Animal Farm.

Much thought – and enjoy the read – SeanG!

THE APPENDIX

Dr. Kawanishi,[1] showed that human lymphoid cells in the appendix are immunologically functional as T helper cells and antibody-producing B cells, making IgA molecules in response to immunological challenges.  He noted that:

“The human appendix, long considered only an accessory rudimentary organ, could posses a similar antigen uptake role prior to replacement by fibrosed tissue after repeated subclinical infections, or at least in early childhood when it is most prominent.”[2]

The appendix is also rich in argentaffin cells, which can be identified with the use of silver salt staining.  The function of these cells has long been obscure, but the evidence suggests that they may be involved with endocrine gland function.[3]  Many sources (encyclopedias, textbooks, etc.) still erroneously state that the appendix is useless.  Interestingly, the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia states in one place: that “In humans the cecum and appendix have no important function,” and in another place that “the appendix is now thought to be one of the sites where immune responses are initiated.”

Dr. Howard R. Bierman… studied several hundred patients with leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the colon and cancer of the ovaries.  He found that 84% [of his sample] had [their] appendix removed….  In a control group without cancer, only 25% had it removed.[4]

Bierman himself had concluded that the appendix may be an immunological organ whose premature removal during its functional period permits leukemia and other related forms of cancer to begin their development.[5]  Bierman and his associates realized that the lymphoid tissue located on the walls of the appendix may secrete antibodies which protect the body against various viral agents.

While high school and college textbooks today will mention the appendix as vestigial, specialists in their field have for many years stated the necessity of the appendix as useful.

  • “There is no longer any justification for regarding the vermiform appendix as a vestigial structure.”[6]
  • For at least 2,000 years, doctors have puzzled over the function of…  the thymus gland…. Modern physicians came to regard it, like the appendix, as a useless vestigial organ which had lost its original purpose, if indeed it ever had one.  In the last few years, however,…  men have proved that, far from being useless, the thymus is really the master gland that regulates the intricate immunity system which protects us against infectious diseases….  Recent experiments have led researchers to believe that the appendix, tonsils, and adenoids may also figure in the antibody responses.[7]
  • The appendix is not generally credited with significant function; however, current evidence tends to involve it in the immunologic mechanism.[8]
  • The mucosa and submucosa of the appendix are dominated by lymphoid nodules, and its primary function is as an organ of the lymphatic system.[9]

The appendix is in fact part of the G.A.L.T. (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue) system.  The lymphoid follicles develop in the appendix at around two weeks after birth, which is the time when the large bowel begins to be colonized with the necessary bacteria.  It is likely that its major function peaks in this neonatal period.  Making it anything other than vestigial!

As Dr. Peter Faletra (Ph.D.), who is Senior Science Advisor Office of Science Department of Energy, says in response to a question on an online question-and-answer service for K-12 teachers run by the Argonne National Laboratories:

“As a histologist I see no reason to consider the v. appendix as having no function since it contains numerous lymphoid follicles that produce functional lymphocytes and a rich blood supply to communicate them. The general idea of vestigial organs is to me a measure of ignorance, arrogance and lack of imagination. Ignorance in that we label it as such because we do not know its function; arrogance in that we declare it of no value since we can see none; and lacking in imagination in so far as when we cannot see its function cannot imagine one. I call your attention to that other ‘vestigial organ’ the thymus without which, in early life, we would produce a severely compromised cell-mediated immune system as the ‘nude’ mouse and numerous thymectomized mammalian studies have shown. Although some general reference books still list the v. appendix as ‘vestigial’ most immunologists (I included) would strongly disagree!”[10] (emphises added)

UPDATE

Since the above was removed, I want to embolden the thinking by excerpting a SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN article:[11]

A study in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology finds that many more animals have appendixes than was thought, and that the appendix is not merely a remnant of a digestive organ called the cecum. All of which means that the appendix might not be so useless. Steve Mirsky reports.

Two years ago, Duke University Medical Center researchers said that the supposedly useless appendix is actually where good gut bacteria safely hide out during some unpleasant intestinal conditions. 

Now the research team has looked at the appendix over evolutionary history. They found that animals have had appendixes for about 80 million years. And the organ has evolved separately at least twice, once among the weird Australian marsupials and another time in the regular old mammal lineage that we belong to. 

Darwin thought that only a few animals have an appendix and that the human version was what was left of a digestive organ called the cecum. But the new study found that 70 percent of rodent and primate groups have species with an appendix….

While Scientific American still tries to relegate it to evolution, they do so by supposition. Almost by metaphysical statements. William Parker, Ph.D., assistant professor of experimental surgery, who conducted the analysis in collaboration with R. Randal Bollinger, M.D., Ph.D., Duke professor emeritus in general surgery – said this:

  • “While there is no smoking gun, the abundance of circumstantial evidence makes a strong case for the role of the appendix as a place where the good bacteria can live safe and undisturbed until they are needed”[12]

WIKIPEDIA has a decent section on the appendix’s function as well.[13]

PS – (from the original letter)
This P.S. was to the teacher after she responded to my e-mail, I corrected her on something that any science teacher who isn’t guided by a presupposed philosophy – namely Naturalism – would have correctly defined.

Oh, I forgot, as I was falling asleep last night and running through the day in my head, something occurred to me.  You mentioned that theories are, quote:

  • “Theories are well tested concepts scientists use to help explain something based on repeated findings.”

Yes, a great quick explanation of a proper theory.  However, when the appendix was placed on the vestigial organ list along with 180 other organs by Ernst Haekel in the late 1800‘s – where it has stayed since – no repeatable tests were ever done to confirm the hypothesis that it was useless.  In fact, every medical test done of the type of tissue found (argentaffin cells, and lymphoid cells) in the appendix shows that it has a use.

So I would say that the theory that it is useful is quite sound, where as the hypothesis that it is useless is waning and ill founded ~ un-scientific in other words.


FOOTNOTES


[1] H. Kawanishi, “Immunocompetence of Normal Appendiceal Lymphoid cells: in vitro studies,” Immunology, 60(1) (1987), 19-28.

[2] Ibid., 19.

[3] Marti-Ibanez (editor), “Tuber of Life,” M. D. Magazine (1970) #14, p. 240; William J. Banks, Applied Veterinary Histology (Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore: 1981), 390.

[4]  Richard G. Culp, Remember thy Creator (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids,; MI: 1975).

[5]  Howard R. Bierman, “Human Appendix and Neoplasia,” Cancer 21 (1) (1968), 109-118.

[6] William Straus, Quarterly Review of Biology (1947), 149.

[7] “The Useless Gland that Guards Our Health,” in Reader’s Digest, November (1966), 229, 235.

[8] Henry L. Bockus, Gastroenterology, 2:1134-1148 [chapter The Appendix, by Gordon McHardy], (W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, Pennslyvania: 1976).

[9] Frederic H. Martini, Ph.D., Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: 1995), 916

[10] (Since removed) From the site Newton, which is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators.  Argonne National Laboratory, Division of Educational Programs, Harold Myron, Ph.D., Division Director.  Quote: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/mole00/mole00225.htm   Home page: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/

[11] “That’s No Vestigial Organ, That’s My Appendix,” Scientific American (8-24-2009), found at: http://tinyurl.com/ycb9dcnv

[12] Duke University Medical Center, “Appendix isn’t useless at all: It’s a safe house for bacteria,” EurekaAlert! (AAAS | 10-08-2008); found at: http://tinyurl.com/yadgop2l

[13] Appendix, Functions – found at: http://tinyurl.com/k245vmb

 

Man With The Golden Arm ~ Eliminating Chance Statistically

REFORMATTED

This is a large excerpt from a book worth reading in total, The Design Inference, by William Dembski. It is a classic in I.D. literature, whether you are a skeptic of Intelligent Design, or not:

1.2 THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM

[p. 9>] 

Even if we can’t ascertain the precise causal story underlying an event, we often have probabilistic information that enables us to rule out ways of explaining the event. This ruling out of explanatory options is what the design inference is all about. The design inference does not by itself deliver an intelligent agent. But as a logical apparatus for sifting our explanatory options, the design inference rules out explanations incompatible with intelligent agency (such as chance). The design inference appears widely, and is memorably illustrated in the following example (New York Times, 23 July 1985, p. B1):

TRENTON, July 22 — The New Jersey Supreme Court today caught up with the “man with the golden arm:’ Nicholas Caputo, the Essex County Clerk and a Democrat who has conducted drawings for decades that have given Democrats the top ballot line in the county 40 out of 41 times.

[p. 10>]

Mary V. Mochary, the Republican Senate candidate, and county Republi­can officials filed a suit after Mr. Caputo pulled the Democrat’s name again last year.

The election is over — Mrs. Mochary lost — and the point is moot. But the court noted that the chances of picking the same name 40 out of 41 times were less than I in 50 billion. It said that “confronted with these odds, few persons of reason will accept the explanation of blind chance.”

And, while the court said it was not accusing Mr. Caputo of anything, it said it believed that election officials have a duty to strengthen public confidence in the election process after such a string of “coincidences.”

The court suggested — but did not order — changes in the way Mr. Caputo conducts the drawings to stem “further loss of public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.”

Justice Robert L. Clifford, while concurring with the 6-to-0 ruling, said the guidelines should have been ordered instead of suggested.

Nicholas Caputo was brought before the New Jersey Supreme Court because the Republican party filed suit against him, claim­ing Caputo had consistently rigged the ballot lines in the New Jersey county where he was county clerk. It is common knowledge that first position on a ballot increases one’s chances of winning an election (other things being equal, voters are more likely to vote for the first person on a ballot than the rest). Since in every instance but one Caputo positioned the Democrats first on the ballot line, the Republicans ar­gued that in selecting the order of ballots Caputo had intentionally favored his own Democratic party. In short, the Republicans claimed Caputo cheated.

The question, then, before the New Jersey Supreme Court was, Did Caputo actually rig the order of ballots, or was it without malice and forethought that Caputo assigned the Democrats first place forty out of forty-one times? Since Caputo denied wrongdoing, and since he conducted the drawing of ballots so that witnesses were unable to observe how he actually did draw the ballots (this was brought out in a portion of the article omitted in the preceding quote), determining whether Caputo did in fact rig the order of ballots becomes a matter of evaluating the circumstantial evidence connected with this case. How, then, is this evidence to be evaluated?

In trying to explain the remarkable coincidence of Nicholas Caputo selecting the Democrats forty out of forty-one times to head the ballot line, the court faced three explanatory options:

[p. 11>]

Regularity: Unknown to Caputo, he was not employing a reliable random process to determine ballot order. Caputo was like some­one who thinks a fair coin is being flipped when in fact it’s a double-headed coin. Just as flipping a double-headed coin is going to yield a long string of heads, so Caputo, using his faulty method for ballot selection, generated a long string of Democrats coming out on top. An unknown regularity controlled Caputo’s ballot line selections.

Chance: In selecting the order of political parties on the state ballot, Caputo employed a reliable random process that did not favor one political party over another. The fact that the Democrats came out on top forty out of forty-one times was simply a fluke. It occurred by chance.

Agency: Caputo, acting as a fully conscious intelligent agent and intending to aid his own political party, purposely rigged the ballot line selections to keep the Democrats coming out on top. In short, Caputo cheated.

The first option — that Caputo chose poorly his procedure for selecting ballot lines, so that instead of genuinely randomizing the ballot order, it just kept putting the Democrats on top — was not taken seriously by the court. The court could dismiss this option outright because Caputo claimed to be using an urn model to select ballot Iines. Thus, in a portion of the New York Times article not quoted, Caputo claimed to have placed capsules designating the various political parties running in New Jersey into a container, and then swished them around. Since urn models are among the most reliable randomization techniques available, there was no reason for the court to suspect that Caputo’s randomization procedure was at fault. The key question, therefore, was whether Caputo actually put this procedure into practice when he made the ballot line selections, or whether he purposely circumvented this procedure to keep the Democrats coming out on top. And since Caputo’s actual drawing of the cap­sules was obscured to witnesses, it was this question the court had to answer.

With the regularity explanation at least for the moment bracketed, the court next decided to dispense with the chance explanation. Hav­ing noted that the chance of picking the same political party 40 out of 41 times was less than 1 in 50 billion, the court concluded that…

[p. 12>]

“confronted with these odds, few persons of reason will accept the explanation of blind chance.” Now this certainly seems right. Nev­ertheless, a bit more needs to be said. As we saw in Section 1.1, exceeding improbability is by itself not enough to preclude an event from happening by chance. Whenever I am dealt a bridge hand, I par­ticipate in an exceedingly improbable event. Whenever I play darts, the precise position where the darts land represents an exceedingly improbable configuration. In fact, just about anything that happens is exceedingly improbable once we factor in all the other ways what actually happened might have happened. The problem, then, does not reside simply in an event being improbable.

All the same, in the absence of a causal story detailing what happened, improbability remains a crucial ingredient in eliminating chance. For suppose that Caputo actually was cheating right from the beginning of his career as Essex County clerk. Suppose further that the one exception in Caputo’s career as “the man with the golden arm” —that is, the one case where Caputo placed the Democrats second on the ballot line — did not occur till after his third time selecting ballot lines. Thus, for the first three ballot line selections of Caputo’s career the Democrats all came out on top, and they came out on top precisely because Caputo intended it that way. Simply on the basis of three bal­lot line selections, and without direct evidence of Caputo’s cheating, an outside observer would be in no position to decide whether Caputo was cheating or selecting the ballots honestly.

With only three ballot line selections, the probabilities are too large to reliably eliminate chance. The probability of randomly selecting the Democrats to come out on top given that their only competi­tion is the Republicans is in this case 1 in 8 (here p equals 0.125; compare this with the p-value computed by the court, which equals 0.00000000002). Because three Democrats in a row could eas­ily happen by chance, we would be acting in bad faith if we did not give Caputo the benefit of the doubt in the face of such large probabilities. Small probabilities are therefore a necessary condi­tion for eliminating chance, even though they are not a sufficient condition.

What, then, besides small probabilities do we need for evidence that Caputo cheated? As we saw in Section 1.1, the event in question needs to conform to a pattern. Not just any pattern will do, however. Some patterns successfully eliminate chance while others do not.

[p. 13>]

Consider the case of an archer. Suppose an archer stands fifty meters from a large wall with bow and arrow in hand. The wall, let us say, is sufficiently large that the archer cannot help but hit it. Now suppose every time the archer shoots an arrow at the wall, she paints a target around the arrow, so that the arrow is positioned squarely in the bull’s-eye. What can be concluded from this scenario? Absolutely nothing about the archer’s ability as an archer. The fact that the archer is in each instance squarely hitting the bull’s-eye is utterly bogus. Yes, she is matching a pattern; but it is a pattern she fixes only after the arrow has been shot and its position located. The pattern is thus purely ad hoc.

But suppose instead that the archer paints a fixed target on the wall and then shoots at it. Suppose she shoots 100 arrows, and each time hits a perfect bull’s-eye. What can be concluded from this second scenario? In the words of the New Jersey Supreme Court, “confronted with these odds, few persons of reason will accept the explanation of blind chance.” Indeed, confronted with this second scenario we infer that here is a world-class archer.

The difference between the first and the second scenario is that the pattern in the first is purely ad hoc, whereas the pattern in the second is not. Thus, only in the second scenario are we warranted eliminat­ing chance. Let me emphasize that for now I am only spotlighting a distinction without explicating it. I shall in due course explicate the distinction between “good” and “bad” patterns — those that respec­tively do and don’t permit us to eliminate chance (see Chapter 5). But for now I am simply trying to make the distinction between good and bad patterns appear plausible. In Section 1.1 we called the good pat­terns specifications and the bad patterns fabrications. Specifications are the non-ad hoc patterns that can legitimately be used to eliminate chance and warrant a design inference. Fabrications are the ad hoc patterns that cannot legitimately be used to eliminate chance.

Thus, when the archer first paints a fixed target and thereafter shoots at it, she specifies hitting a bull’s-eye. When in fact she repeatedly hits the bull’s-eye, we are warranted attributing her success not to beginner’s luck, but to her skill as an archer. On the other hand, when the archer paints a target around the arrow only after each shot, squarely positioning each arrow in the bull’s-eye, she fabri­cates hitting the bull’s-eye. Thus, even though she repeatedly hits the…

[p. 14>]

bull’s-eye, we are not warranted attributing her “success” in hitting the bull’s-eye to anything other than luck. In the latter scenario, her skill as an archer thus remains an open question.2 (jump)

How do these considerations apply to Nicholas Caputo? By se­lecting the Democrats to head the ballot forty out of forty-one times, Caputo appears to have participated in an event of probability less than 1 in 50 billion (p = 0.00000000002). Yet as we have noted, events of exceedingly small probability happen all the time. Hence by itself Caputo’s participation in an event of probability less than 1 in 50 billion is no cause for alarm. The crucial question is whether this event is also specified — does this event follow a non-ad hoc pattern so that we can legitimately eliminate chance?

Now there is a very simple way to avoid ad hoc patterns and gen­erate specifications, and that is by designating an event prior to its occurrence — C. S. Peirce (1883 [1955], pp. 207-10) referred to this type of specification as a predesignation. In the archer example, by painting the bull’s-eye before taking aim, the archer specifies in ad­vance where the arrows are to land. Because the pattern is set prior to the event, the objection of ad-hocness or fabrication is effectively blocked.

In the Caputo case, however, the pattern is discovered after the event: only after we witness an extended series of ballot line selec­tions do we notice a suspicious pattern. Though discovered after the fact, this pattern is not a fabrication. Patterns given prior to an event, or Peirce’s predesignations, constitute but a proper subset of the pat­terns that legitimately eliminate chance. The important thing about a pattern is not when it was identified, but whether in a certain well-defined sense it is independent of an event. We refer to this relation of independence as detachability, and say that a pattern is detachable just in case it satisfies this relation.

[p. 15>]

Detachability distinguishes specifications from fabrications. Al­though a precise account of detachability will have to wait until Chapter 5, the basic intuition underlying detachability is this: Given an event, would we be able to formulate a pattern describing it if we had no knowledge which event occurred? Here is the idea. An event has occurred. A pattern describing the event is given. The event is one from a range of possible events. if all we knew was the range of possible events without any specifics about which event actually occurred, could we still formulate the pattern describing the event? If so, the pattern is detachable from the event.

To illustrate detachability in the Caputo case, consider two pos­sible courses Nicholas Caputo’s career as Essex County clerk might have taken (for simplicity assume no third-party candidates were ever involved, so that all elections were between Democrats and Republi­cans). In the one case — and for the sake of argument let us suppose this is what actually happened — Caputo chose the Democrats over the Republicans forty out of forty-one times in the following order:

(A)  DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDRDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

Thus, the initial twenty-two times Caputo chose the Democrats to head the ballot line, then the twenty-third time he chose the Republi­cans, after which for the remaining times he chose the Democrats.

In the second possible course Caputo’s career as county clerk might have taken, suppose Caputo once again had forty-one occasions on which to select the order of ballots, but this time that he chose both Democrats and Republicans to head the ballot pretty evenly, let us say in the following order

(B)   DRRDRDRRDDDRDRDDRDRRDRRDRRRDRRRDRDDDRDRDD

In this instance the Democrats came out on top only twenty times. and the Republicans twenty-one times.

Sequences (A) and (B) are both patterns and describe possible ways Caputo might have selected ballot orders in his years as Essex County clerk. (A) and (B) are therefore patterns describing possible events. Now the question detachability asks is whether (A) and (B) could have been formulated without our knowing which event occurred. For (A) the answer is yes, but for (B) the answer is no. (A) is therefore detachable whereas (B) is not.

[p. 16>]

How is this distinction justified? To formulate (B) I just one mo­ment ago flipped a coin forty-one times, recording “D” for Democrat whenever I observed heads and “R” for Republican whenever I ob­served tails. On the other hand, to formulate (A) I simply recorded “D” forty times and then interspersed a single “R.” Now consider a human subject S confronted with sequences (A) and (B). S comes to these sequences with considerable background knowledge which, we may suppose, includes the following:

(1) Nicholas Caputo is a Democrat.
(2) Nicholas Caputo would like to see the Democrats appear first on the ballot since having the first place on the ballot line signifi­cantly boosts one’s chances of winning an election.

(3) Nicholas Caputo, as election commissioner of Essex County, has full control over who appears first on the ballots in Essex County.
(4) Election commissioners in the past have been guilty of all manner of fraud, including unfair assignments of ballot lines.
(5) If Caputo were assigning ballot lines fairly, then both Democrats and Republicans should receive priority roughly the same number of times.

Given this background knowledge S is in a position to formulate various “cheating patterns” by which Caputo might attempt to give the Democrats first place on the ballot. The most blatant cheat is of course to assign the Democrats first place all the time. Next most blatant is to assign the Republicans first place just once (as in (A) — there are 41 ways to assign the Republicans first place just once). Slightly less blatant — though still blatant — is to assign the Republicans first place exactly two times (there are 820 ways to assign the Republicans first place exactly two times). This line of reasoning can be extended by throwing the Republicans a few additional sops. The point is, given S’s background knowledge, S is easily able (possibly with the aid of a personal computer) to formulate ways Caputo could cheat, one of which would surely include (A).

Contrast this now with (B). Since (B) was generated by a sequence of coin tosses, (B) represents one of two trillion or so possible ways Caputo might legitimately have chosen ballot orders. True, in this respect probabilities do not distinguish (A) from (B) since all such sequences of Ds and Rs of length 41 have the same small probability of occurring by chance, namely 1 in 241, or approximately 1 in two…

[p. 17>]

trillion. But S is a finite agent whose background knowledge enables S to formulate only a tiny fraction of all the possible sequences of Ds and Rs of length 41. Unlike (A), (B) is not among them. Confronted with (B), S will scrutinize it, try to discover a pattern that isn’t ad hoc, and thus seek to uncover evidence that (B) resulted from something other than chance. But given S’s background knowledge, nothing about (B) suggests an explanation other than chance. Indeed, since the relative frequency of Democrats to Republicans actually favors Republicans (twenty-one Rs versus twenty Ds), the Nicholas Caputo responsible for (B) is hardly “the man with the golden arm.” Thus, while (A) is detachable, (B) is not.

But can one be absolutely certain (B) is not detachable? No, one cannot. There is a fundamental asymmetry between detachability and its negation, call it nondetachability. In practice one can decisively demonstrate that a pattern is detachable from an event, but not that a pattern is incapable of being detached from an event. A failure to establish detachability always leaves open the possibility that detachability might still be demonstrated at some later date.

To illustrate this point, suppose I walk down a dirt road and find some stones lying about. The configuration of stones says nothing to me. Given my background knowledge I can discover no pattern in this configuration that I could have formulated on my own without actually seeing the stones lying about as they do. I cannot detach the pattern of stones from the configuration they assume. I therefore have no reason to attribute the configuration to anything other than chance. But suppose next an astronomer travels this same road and looks at the same stones only to find that the configuration precisely matches some highly complex constellation. Given the astronomer’s background knowledge, this pattern now becomes detachable. The astronomer will therefore have grounds for thinking that the stones were intentionally arranged to match the constellation.

Detachability must always be relativized to a subject and a subject’s background knowledge. Whether one can detach a pattern from an event depends on one’s background knowledge coming to the event. Often one’s background knowledge is insufficient to detach a pattern from an event. Consider, for instance, the case of cryptographers trying to break a cryptosystem. Until they break the cryptosystem, the strings of characters they record from listening to their enemy’s communications will seem random, and for all the cryptographers know…

[p. 18>]

might just be gibberish. Only after the cryptographers have broken the cryptosystem and discovered the key for decrypting their enemy’s communications will they discern the detachable pattern present in the communications they have been monitoring (cf. Section 1.6).

Is it, then, strictly because our background knowledge and abil­ities are limited that some patterns fail to be detachable? Would. for instance, an infinitely powerful computational device be capa­ble of detaching any pattern whatsoever? Regardless whether some super-being possesses an unlimited capacity to detach patterns, as a practical matter we humans find ourselves with plenty of patterns we cannot detach. Whether all patterns are detachable in some grand metaphysical sense, therefore, has no bearing on the practical prob­lem whether a certain pattern is detachable given certain limited back­ground knowledge. Finite rational agents like ourselves can formulate only a very few detachable patterns. For instance, of all the possible ways we might flip a coin a thousand times, we can make explicit only a minuscule proportion. It follows that a human subject will be unable to specify any but a very tiny fraction of these possible coin flips. In general, the patterns we can know to be detachable are quite limited.(jump)

Let us now wrap up the Caputo example. Confronted with Nicholas Caputo assigning the Democrats the top ballot line forty out of forty-one times, the New Jersey Supreme Court first rejected the regularity explanation, and then rejected the chance explanation (“confronted with these odds, few persons of reason will accept the explanation of blind chance”). Left with no other option, the court therefore accepted the agency explanation, inferred Caputo was cheating, and threw him in prison.

Well, not quite. The court did refuse to attribute Caputo’s golden arm to either regularity or chance. Yet when it came to giving a positive explanation of Caputo’s golden arm, the court waffled. To be sure, the court knew something was amiss. For the Democrats to get the top ballot line in Caputo’s county forty out of forty-one times, especially…

[p. 19>]

with Caputo solely responsible for ballot line selections, something had to be fishy. Nevertheless, the New Jersey Supreme Court was unwilling explicitly to charge Caputo with corruption. Of the six judges, Justice Robert L. Clifford was the most suspicious of Caputo, wanting to order Caputo to institute new guidelines for selecting ballot lines. The actual ruling, however, simply suggested that Caputo institute new guidelines in the interest of “public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.” The court therefore stopped short of charging Caputo with dishonesty.

Did Caputo cheat? Certainly this is the best explanation of Caputo’s golden arm. Nonetheless, the court stopped short of convicting Ca­puto. Why? The court had no clear mandate for dealing with highly improbable ballot line selections. Such mandates exist in other legal settings, as with discrimination laws that prevent employers from at­tributing to the luck of the draw their failure to hire sufficiently many women or minorities. But in the absence of such a mandate the court needed an exact causal story of how Caputo cheated if the suit against him was to succeed. And since Caputo managed to obscure how he selected the ballot lines, no such causal story was forthcoming. The court therefore went as far as it could.

Implicit throughout the court’s deliberations was the design infer­ence. The court wanted to determine whether Caputo cheated. Lack­ing a causal story of how Caputo selected the ballot lines, the court was left with circumstantial evidence. Given this evidence, the court immediately ruled out regularity. What’s more, from the specified im­probability of selecting the Democrats forty out of forty-one times, the court also ruled out chance.

These two moves — ruling out regularity, and then ruling out chance — constitute the design inference. The conception of design that emerges from the design inference is therefore eliminative, as­serting of an event what it is not, not what it is. To attribute an event to design is to say that regularity and chance have been ruled out. Refer­ring Caputo’s ballot line selections to design is therefore not identical with referring it to agency. To be sure, design renders agency plau­sible. But as the negation of regularity and chance, design is a mode of explanation logically preliminary to agency. Certainly agency (in this case cheating) best explains Caputo’s ballot line selections. But no one was privy to Caputo’s ballot line selections. In the absence of…

[p. 20>]

an exact causal story, the New Jersey Supreme Court therefore went as far as it could in the Caputo case.(jump)

[….]

[p. 22>]

1.4 FORENSIC SCIENCE AND DETECTION

Forensic scientists, detectives, lawyers, and insurance fraud investiga­tors cannot do without the design inference. Something as common as a forensic scientist placing someone at the scene of a crime by match­ing fingerprints requires a design inference. Indeed, there is no logical or genetic impossibility preventing two individuals from sharing the same fingerprints. Rather, our best understanding of fingerprints and the way they are distributed in the human population is that they are, with very high probability, unique to individuals. And so, whenever the fingerprints of an individual match those found at the scene of a crime, we conclude that the individual was indeed at the scene of the crime.

The forensic scientist’s stock of design inferences is continually increasing. Consider the following headline: “DNA Tests Becoming Elementary in Solving Crimes.” The lead article went on to describe…

[p. 23>]

the type of reasoning employed by forensic scientists in DNA testing. As the following excerpt makes clear, all the key features of the design inference described in Sections 1.1 and 1.2 are present in DNA testing (The Times — Princeton-Metro, N.J., 23 May 1994, p. A 1):

TRENTON — A state police DNA testing program is expected to be ready in the fall, and prosecutors and police are eagerly looking forward to taking full advantage of a technology that has dramatically boosted the success rate of rape prosecutions across the country.

Mercer County Prosecutor Maryann Bielamowicz called the effect of DNA testing on rape cases “definitely a revolution. It’s the most exciting development in my career in our ability to prosecute.”

She remembered a recent case of a young man arrested for a series of three sexual assaults. The suspect had little prior criminal history, but the crimes were brutal knifepoint attacks in which the assailant broke in through a window, then tied up and terrorized his victims.

“Based on a DNA test in one of those assaults he pleaded guilty to all three. He got 60 years. He’ll have to serve 271/2 before parole. That’s pretty good evidence, she said.

All three women identified the young man. But what really intimidated the suspect into agreeing to such a rotten deal were the enormous odds —one in several million — that someone other than he left semen containing the particular genetic markers found in the DNA test. Similar numbers are intimidating many others into foregoing trials, said the prosecutor.6 (jump)

Not just forensic science, but the whole field of detection is in­conceivable without the design inference. Indeed, the mystery genre would be dead without it.7 (jump) When in the movie Double Indemnity Edward G. Robinson (“the insurance claims man”) puts it together that Barbara Stanwyck’s husband did not die an accidental death by falling off a train, but instead was murdered by Stanwyck to…

[p. 24>]

collect on a life insurance policy, the design inference is decisive. Why hadn’t Stanwyck’s husband made use of his life insurance pol­icy earlier to pay off on a previously sustained injury, for the pol­icy did have such a provision? Why should he die just two weeks after taking out the policy? Why did he happen to die on a train, thereby requiring the insurance company to pay double the usual in­demnity (hence the title of the movie)? How could he have broken his neck falling off a train when at the time of the fall, the train could not have been moving faster than 15 m.p.h.? And who would seriously consider committing suicide by jumping off a train mov­ing only 15 m.p.h.? Too many pieces coalescing too neatly made the explanations of accidental death and suicide insupportable. Thus, at one point Edward G. Robinson exclaims, “The pieces all fit together like a watch!” Suffice it to say, in the movie Barbara Stanwyck and her accomplice/lover Fred MacMurray did indeed kill Stanwyck’s husband.

Whenever there is a mystery, it is the design inference that elicits the crucial insight needed to solve the mystery. The dawning recog­nition that a trusted companion has all along been deceiving you (cf. Notorious); the suspicion that someone is alive after all, even though the most obvious indicators point to the person having died (cf. The Third Man); and the realization that a string of seemingly accidental deaths were carefully planned (cf. Coma) all derive from design in­ferences. At the heart of these inferences is a convergence of small probabilities and specifications, a convergence that cannot properly be explained by appealing to chance.


Notes


2) The archer example introduces a tripartite distinction that will be implicit throughout our study of chance elimination arguments: a reference class of possible events (e.g.. the arrow hitting the wall at some unspecified place): a pattern that restricts the reference class of possible events (e.g.. a target on the wall); and the precise event that has occurred (e.g., the arrow hitting the wall at some precise location). In a chance elimination argument, the reference class, the pattern, and the event are always inseparably linked, with the pattern mediating between the event and the reference class, helping to decide whether the event really is due to chance. Throughout this monograph we shall refer to patterns and events as such, but refer to reference classes by way of the chance hypotheses that characterize them (cf. Section 5.2). (back)

3) This conclusion is consistent with algorithmic information theory, which regards a sequence of numbers as nonrandom to the degree that it is compressible. Since compressibility within algorithmic information theory constitutes but a special case of detachability, and since most sequences are incompressible, the detachable sequences are indeed quite limited. See Kolmogorov (1965), Chaitin (1966). and van Lambalgen (1989). See also Section 1.7 (back)

4) Legal scholars continue to debate the proper application of probabilistic reasoning to legal problems. Larry Tribe (1971), for instance, views the application of Bayes’s theorem within the context of a trial as fundamentally unsound. Michael Finkelstein takes the opposite view (see Finkelstein, 1978, p. 288 ff.). Still, there appears no getting rid of the design inference in the law. Cases of bid-rigging (Finkelstein and Levin, 1990, p. 64), price-fixing (Finkelstein and Levenbach, 1986, pp. 79-106), and collusion often cannot be detected save by means of a design inference. (back)

[….]

6) It’s worth mentioning that at the time of this writing, the accuracy and usefulness of DNA testing is still a matter for debate. As a New York Times (23 August 1994, p. A10) article concerned with the currently ongoing 0..1. Simpson case remarks. “there is wide disagree­ment among scientific experts about the accuracy and usefulness of DNA testing and they emphasize that only those tests performed under the best of circumstances are valuable?’ My interest, however, in this matter is not with the ultimate fate of DNA testing, but with the logic that underlies it, a logic that hinges on the design inference. (back)

7) Cf. David Lehman’s (1989, p. 20) notion of “retrospective prophecy” as applied to the detective-fiction genre: “If mind-reading. backward-reasoning investigators of crimes —sleuths like Dupin or Sherlock Holmes — resemble prophets, it’s in the visionary rather than the vatic sense. It’s not that they see into the future; on the contrary. they’re not even looking that way. But reflecting on the clues left behind by the past, they see patterns where the rest of us see only random signs. They reveal and make intelligible what otherwise would be dark.” The design inference is the key that unlocks the patterns that “the rest of us see only Iasi random signs.” (back)

William A. Dembski, The Design Inference: Estimating Chance Through Small Probabilities (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge Press, 1998), 9-20, 22-24.

Are Testicles Proof Against God?

Religio-Political Talk (RPT) is proud to be a part of defending
“manhood” from the wiles of the secular/evolutionary worldview.

Jerry Bergman is one of the most accomplished creationists around. His passion for his Lord and for sharpening his mind are, well, legend in the ID and creationist sub-culture. The few times I have written to him he has responded with humbleness — which is saying a lot considering his learning curve noted below. In the past I have responded to persons and articles based on his book he co-authored with Dr. Howe, “Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional: A History and Evaluation of the Vestigial Organ Origins Concept.” This book could use an update and republishing… which the article does in the micro.

The article in the Journal of Creation, vol. 31(2) 2017,  entitled, “The Not-So-Intelligent Professor,” is a review Abby Hafer’s book, “The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not.” However, BEFORE going to her favorite example, let’s review Jerry Bergman’s academic background, which is useful for the article:

JERRY BERGMAN

  • M.P.H., Northwest Ohio Consortium for Public Health (Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio; University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio; Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio), 2001.
  • M.S. in biomedical science, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio, 1999.
  • Ph.D. in human biology, Columbia Pacific University, San Rafael, California, 1992.
  • M.A. in social psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, 1986.
  • Ph.D. in measurement and evaluation, minor in psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1976.
  • M.Ed. in counseling and psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1971.
  • B.S., Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1970. Major area of study was sociology, biology, and psychology.

Okay, here is the excerpt:

Abigail (Abby’) Hafer has a doctorate in zoology from Oxford University and teaches human anatomy and physiology in the nursing programme at Curry College, a small private college of 2,100 students. Her goal for this book was to document what she argues are the many examples of poor design in the human body. From this evidence, she concludes that the body was not designed, but rather it evolved.

All of her examples have been carefully refuted in both the secular and creationist literature. Having taught anatomy for 30 years, I have reviewed many anatomy textbooks in preparation for my classes and am not aware of a single one that makes the claims she does. Rather, they consistently show most of her claims to be erroneous.

She also shows little evidence of reading the Intelligent Design (ID) or creationist literature, as indicated by her false claim that those “who are likely to be persuaded by ID arguments don’t read scientific journals, or lengthy books about evolution, and they never will [emphasis in original]” (p. 1). The irony here is unmissable.

She speaks widely to colleges, universities, and sadly even churches (although she’s a rabid atheist, listed as an American Humanist Association speaker). Her focus is consistently on mocking creationists and ID supporters, as is obvious from the titles of her talks, such as “Who does the Creator like better—us, or squid?” and “Why do men’s testicles hang outside the body, but elephants have their testes inside the body?” As usual, these are really pseudo-theological arguments rather than scientific ones. She spends much time on the mudskipper, which she claims ID advocates say could not exist. Her major poor design claims are reviewed below.


I wish to take a quick break in the text here and note that the best book I have read on Dr. Berman’s notation that Dr. Hafer’s arguments “are really pseudo-theological arguments rather than scientific ones,” is Cornelius Hunter’s book, “Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil.”


Human Testicles

Her claim for human testicles is that

  • “…if testicles were designed, …why God didn’t protect them better. Couldn’t the Designer have put them inside the body, or encased them in bone, or at least put some bubble wrap around them? Is this the best that the Designer can do?” (p. 5).

Concluding that a structure is poorly designed instead of asking why the existing design exists is a science stopper. The ‘why’ question motivates research into the reasons for the design. When this approach was applied to the human appendix, the tonsils, the backward retina and other examples, good design reasons for the existing design were found in all cases.

She explained that when she was looking for new approaches to refute ID she knew she “had a winner when inspiration hit me in the middle of an Anatomy and Physiology lecture…. The male testicle is a great first argument against ID” (p. 2). She then stated that when she got what she needed for a “political-style argument”, she did “what any sensible woman would do”, email her minister (p. 2). As chance had it, her (Unitarian Universalist) `church’s’ Darwin Day celebration was that Sunday, and her minister used the testicles example to introduce his sermon in honour of Darwin (p. 2). Her main argument is that male testicles are outside of the body, thus are prone to injury, noting that for many animals, including reptiles, the testicles are inside of the body.

If the author were to apply just a modicum of logic, though, she (and her cohort) would realise that male testicles are outside of the body for several important reasons, such as to regulate scrotal temperature for optimal spermatogenesis development.1 When testicle temperature drops, a complex system causes the cremaster muscle to contract, which moves them closer to the warm body. When their temperature rises, the cremaster muscle relaxes, allowing them to move away from the body, insuring that their temperature is kept within a very narrow tolerance. Their temperature is also regulated by increasing or decreasing the surface area of the tissue surrounding the testicles, allowing faster or slower dissipation of their heat.2

A major reason for their close temperature regulation is because humans are fertile year round, and most animals with internal testicles are not. Most animals need to be fertile only for short times, often when outdoor temperature allows maintenance of their proper temperature.

She also ignores the fact that testicles are a secondary sexual trait, similar to female breasts, which are also prone to injury. A parallel argument is the claim that, for this reason, the female breast is poorly designed. Therefore, because its size does not affect either milk production or breast feeding ability, it would be advantageous not to protrude from the body. However, because the baby’s face is quite flat, it’s advantageous that the breast protrude somewhat so the baby can get good suction. Baby mammals with snouts can suckle on flat breasts with teats. That the breast is a major female secondary sexual trait is documented by the fact that mastectomy is a very traumatic operation for most women, and reconstructive surgery is often used to normalize the breasts’ appearance.

[1] Werdelin, J. and Nilsonne, A., The evolution of the scrotum and testicular descent in mammals, J. Theoretical Biology 196(1):61-72, 7 January 1999.

[2] Van Niekerk, E., Vas deferens—refuting `bad design’ arguments, J. Creation 26(3):60-67, 2012; creation.com/vas-deferens.

The article goes on to respond to Abby’s discussion of: the backward retina, the female birth canal, the human pharynx, blood clotting mechanisms, teeth, the appendix, and the like. Here is a good video mentioned on my Facebook by a friend (R. Ingles-Barrett) that deals with some of these supposed “bad designs”

Theistic Evolution ~ Wayne Grudem

What follows is the section of the book Professor Wayne Grudem was touching on in his class:


2. Some Theories About Creation Seem Clearly Inconsistent With the Teachings of Scripture. In this section we will examine three types of explanation of the origin of the universe that seem clearly inconsistent with Scripture.

a. Secular Theories: For the sake of completeness we mention here only briefly that any purely secular theories of the origin of the universe would be unacceptable for those who believe in Scripture. A “secular” theory is any theory of the origin of the universe that does not see an infinite-personal God as responsible for creating the universe by intelligent design. Thus, the “big bang” theory (in a secular form in which God is excluded), or any theories that hold that matter has always existed, would be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture that God created the universe out of nothing, and that he did so for his own glory. (When Darwinian evolution is thought of in a totally materialistic sense, as it most often is, it would belong in this category also.)19

b. Theistic Evolution: Ever since the publication of Charles Darwin’s book Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859), some Christians have proposed that living organisms came about by the process of evolution that Darwin proposed, but that God guided that process so that the result was just what he wanted it to be. This view is called theistic evolution because it advocates belief in God (it is “theistic”) and in evolution too. Many who hold to theistic evolution would propose that God intervened in the process at some crucial points, usually (1) the creation of matter at the beginning, (2) the creation of the simplest life form, and (3) the creation of man. But, with the possible exception of those points of intervention, theistic evolutionists hold that evolution proceeded in the ways now discovered by natural scientists, and that it was the process that God decided to use in allowing all of the other forms of life on earth to develop. They believe that the random mutation of living things led to the evolution of higher life forms through the fact that those that had an “adaptive advantage” (a mutation that allowed them to be better fitted to survive in their environment) lived when others did not.

Theistic evolutionists are quite prepared to change their views of the way evolution came about, because, according to their standpoint, the Bible does not specify how it happened. It is therefore up to us to discover this through ordinary scientific investigation. They would argue that as we learn more and more about the way in which evolution came about, we are simply learning more and more about the process that God used to bring about the development of life forms.

The objections to theistic evolution are as follows:


1. The clear teaching of Scripture that there is purposefulness in God’s work of creation seems incompatible with the randomness demanded by evolutionary theory. When Scripture reports that God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds” (Gen. 1:24), it pictures God as doing things intentionally and with a purpose for each thing he does. But this is the opposite of allowing mutations to proceed entirely randomly, with no purpose for the millions of mutations that would have to come about, under evolutionary theory, before a new species could emerge.

The fundamental difference between a biblical view of creation and theistic evolution lies here: the driving force that brings about change and the development of new species in all evolutionary schemes is randomness. Without the random mutation of organisms you do not have evolution in the modem scientific sense at all. Random mutation is the underlying force that brings about eventual development from the simplest to the most complex life forms. But the driving force in the development of new organisms according to Scripture is God’s intelligent design. God created “the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind” (Gen. 1:21 Niv). “God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and – all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:25 my). These statements seem inconsistent with the idea of God creating or directing or observing millions of random mutations, none of which were “very good” in the way he intended, none of which really were the kinds of plants or animals he wanted to have on the earth. Instead of the straightforward biblical account of God’s creation, the theistic evolution view has to understand events to have occurred something like this:

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds.” And after three hundred eighty-seven million four hundred ninety-two thousand eight hundred seventy-one attempts, God finally made a mouse that worked.

That may seem a strange explanation, but it is precisely what the theistic evolutionist must postulate for each of the hundreds of thousands of different kinds of plants and animals on the earth: they all developed through a process of random mutation over millions of years, gradually increasing in complexity as occasional mutations turned out to be advantageous to the creature.

A theistic evolutionist may object that God intervened in the process and guided it at many points in the direction he wanted it to go. But once this is allowed then there is purpose and intelligent design in the process—we no longer have evolution at all, because there is no longer random mutation (at the points of divine interaction). No secular evolutionist would accept such intervention by an intelligent, purposeful Creator. But once a Christian agrees to some active, purposeful design by God, then there is no longer any need for randomness or any development emerging from random mutation. Thus we may as well have God immediately creating each distinct creature without thousands of attempts that fail.

2. Scripture pictures God’s creative word as bringing immediate response. When the Bible talks about God’s creative word it emphasizes the power of his word and its ability to accomplish his purpose.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood forth. (Ps. 33:6, 9)

This kind of statement seems incompatible with the idea that God spoke and after millions of years and millions of random mutations in living things his power brought about the result that he had called for. Rather, as soon as God says, “Let the earth put forth vegetation,” the very next sentence tells us, “And it was so” (Gen. 1:11).

3. When Scripture tells us that God made plants and animals to reproduce “according to their kinds” (Gen. 1:11, 24), it suggests that God created many different types of plants and animals and that, though there would be some differentiation among them (note many different sizes, races, and personal characteristics among human beings!), nonetheless there would be some narrow limits to the kind of change that could come about through genetic mutations.20

4. God’s present active role in creating or forming every living thing that now comes into being is hard to reconcile with the distant “hands off” kind of oversight of evolution that is proposed by theistic evolution. David is able to confess, “You formed my inward parts, you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13). And God said to Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Ex. 4:11). God makes the grass grow (Ps. 104:14; Matt. 6:30) and feeds the birds (Mau. 6:26) and the other creatures of the forest (Ps. 104:21, 27-30). If God is so involved in causing the growth and development of every step of every living thing even now, does it seem consistent with Scripture to say that these life forms were originally brought about by an evolutionary process directed by random mutation rather than by God’s direct, purposeful creation, and that only after they had been created did he begin his active involvement in directing them each moment?

5. The special creation of Adam, and Eve from him, is a strong reason to break with theistic evolution. Those theistic evolutionists who argue for a special creation of Adam and Eve because of the statements in Genesis 1-2 have really broken with evolutionary theory at the point that is of most concern to human beings anyway. But if, on the basis of Scripture, we insist upon God’s special intervention at the point of the creation of Adam and Eve, then what is to prevent our allowing that God intervened, in a similar way, in the creation of living organisms?

We must realize that the special creation of Adam and Eve as recorded in Scripture shows them to be far different from the nearly animal, just barely human creatures that evolutionists would say were the first humans, creatures who descended from ancestors that were highly developed nonhuman apelike creatures. Scripture pictures the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, as possessing highly developed linguistic, moral, and spiritual abilities from the moment they were created. They can talk with each other. They can even talk with God. They are very different from the nearly animal first humans, descended from nonhuman apelike creatures, of evolutionary theory.

Some may object that Genesis 1-2 does not intend to portray Adam and Eve as literal individuals, but (a) the historical narrative in Genesis continues without a break into the obviously historical material about Abraham (Gen. 12), showing that the author intended the entire section to be historical,21 and (b) in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-49, Paul affirms the existence of the “one man” Adam through whom sin came into the world, and bases his discussion of Christ’s representative work of earning salvation on the previous historical pattern of Adam being a representative for mankind as well. Moreover, the New Testament elsewhere clearly understands Adam and Eve to be historical figures (cf. Luke 3:38; Acts 17:26; 1 Cor. 11:8-9; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13-14). The New Testament also assumes the historicity of the sons of Adam and Eve, Cain (Heb. 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11) and Abel (Matt. 23:35; Luke 11:51; Heb. 11:4; 12:24).

6. There are many scientific problems with evolutionary theory (see the following section). The increasing number of questions about the validity of the theory of evolution being raised even by non-Christians in various scientific disciplines indicates that anyone who claims to be forced to believe in evolution because the “scientific facts” leave no other option has simply not considered all the evidence on the other side. The scientific data do not force one to accept evolution, and if the scriptural record argues convincingly against it as well, it does not seem to be a valid theory for a Christian to adopt.

It seems most appropriate to conclude in the words of geologist Davis A. Young, “The position of theistic evolutionism as expressed by some of its proponents is not a consistently Christian position. It is not a truly biblical position, for it is based in part on principles that are imported into Christianity.”22 According to Louis Berkhof “theistic evolution is really a child of embarrassment, which calls God in at periodic intervals to help nature over the chasms that yawn at her feet. It is neither the biblical doctrine of creation, nor a consistent theory of evolution.”23


Footnotes


[19] See pp. 279-87 below, for a discussion of Darwinian evolution.

[20] “We do not need to insist that the Hebrew word min (“kind”) corresponds exactly with the biological category “species,” for that is simply a modern means of classifying different living things. But the Hebrew word does seem to indicate a narrow specification of various types of living things. It is used, for example, to speak of several very specific types of animals that bear young and are distinguished according to their “kind.” Scripture speaks of “the falcon according to its kind,” “every raven according to its kind,” “the hawk according to its kind,” “the heron according to its kind,” and “the locust according to its kind” (Lev. 11:14, 15, 16, 19, 22). Other animals that exist according to an individual “kind” are the cricket, grasshopper, great lizard, buzzard, kite, sea gull, and stork (Lev. 11:22, 29; Deut. 14:13, 14, 15, 18). These are very specific kinds of animals, and God created them so that they would reproduce only according to their own “kinds.” It seems that this would allow only for diversification within each of these types of animals (larger or smaller hawks, hawks of different color and with different shapes of beaks, etc.), but certainly not any “macroevolutionary” change into entirely different kinds of birds. (Frair and Davis, A Case for Creation, p. 129, think that “kind” may correspond to family or order today, or else to no precise twentieth-century equivalent.)

[21] Note the phrase “These are the generations of” introducing successive sections in the Genesis narrative at Gen. 2:4 (heavens and the earth); 5:1 (Adam); 6:9 (Noah); 10:1 (the sons of Noah); 11:10 (Shem); 11:27 (Terah, the father of Abraham); 25:12 (Ishmael); 25:19 (Isaac); 36:1 (Esau); and 37:2 (Jacob). The translation of the phrase may differ in various English versions, but the Hebrew expression is the same and literally says, “These are the generations of….” By this literary device the author has introduced various sections of his historical narrative, tying it all together in a unified whole, and indicating that it is to be understood as history-writing of the same sort throughout. If the author intends us to understand Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as historical figures, then he also intends us to understand Adam and Eve as historical figures.

[22] Davis A. Young, Creation and the Flood: An Alternative to Flood Geology and Theistic Evolution (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977), p. 38. Young includes a discussion of the views of Richard H. Bube, one of the leading proponents of theistic evolution today (pp. 33-35).

[23] Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pp. 139-40.

 

Information Enigma (Serious Saturday)

Information drives the development of life. But what is the source of that information? Could it have been produced by an unguided Darwinian process? Or did it require intelligent design? The Information Enigma is a fascinating 21-minute documentary that probes the mystery of biological information, the challenge it poses to orthodox Darwinian theory, and the reason it points to intelligent design. The video features molecular biologist Douglas Axe and Stephen Meyer, author of the books Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt. (See more here)

Not Enough Evolutionary Time For Simple Life


OTHER EVIDENCES TO CONSIDER

Not Enough Time


It’s even in the title of Charles Darwin’s most popular book, On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection. But what Darwin didn’t know then was that natural selection can’t create brand-new genetic information. It’s never been observed to do this. In the case of the bacterium we looked at, it either LOST information or gained already existing information. Nothing brand-new was created! So, if natural selection can never create the brand-new information that evolution needs, how can it be considered the driving force of evolution? Just one more scientific reason that you shouldn’t believe in molecules-to-man evolution. It takes a LOT of faith.

Proof that God (a non-random process) exists and random chance evolutionary processes do not explain our origins.

Stephen C. Meyer appearing in Darwin’s Dilemma talks about Richard Dawkins’s “climbing Mt. Improbable.”

Biologist Ann Gauger discusses the challenge posed to Darwinian natural selection by the process of metamorphosis found in butterflies and other creatures. Gauger is featured in the science documentary “Metamorphosis,” which deals with butterflies, evolution, and intelligent design.

Kitzmiller v. Dover ~ Explained!

A must buy documentary is “Revolutionary: Michael Behe & The Mystery of Molecular Machines.” (My first Blu-Ray buy… amazing!) In a recent discussion  the Dover Trial was brought up, then, 3-days later I got the documentary in the mail. Here is the comment that started the convo:

  • They took their best shot in Dover, PA and failed so utterly that ID is locked out of the science classroom.in the USA.. They have managed to make a good bit of money saying what you love to hear–but they are keeping ID from ever ever being taken for science. Find a better approach and you can potentially prevail but not with these guys-they are a dead end as far as ID is concerned.

And this excerpt from it is the best explanation of the all the issues surrounding the trial and the complete slamming of Ken Miller’s un-scientific response to Michael Behe’s clear elucidations:

RNA/DNA = Information | Or, What “IS” Information

✦ “My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.” After chewing on his scientific worldview for more than five decades, Flew concluded, “A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature.” Previously, in his central work, The Presumption of Atheism (1976), Flew argued that the “onus of proof [of God] must lie upon the theist.” However, at the age of 81, Flew shocked the world when he renounced his atheism because “the argument for Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.” | Antony Flew |

What naturalism is is described in the last paragraph. It is also described in a more relational way here, “Love.”

Professor Werner Gitt – Director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology – tells us that:

“The highest information density known to us is that of DNA molecules…. The storage capacity of DNA, the information carriers of living things, is 4.5 x 10 (to the 13th power) times more effective than a megachip!… The sum total of knowledge currently stored in the libraries of the world is estimated at 10(to the 18th power) bits. If this information could be stored in DNA molecules, 1% of the volume of a pinhead would be sufficient for this purpose. If, on the other hand, this information were to be stored with aid of megachips, we would need a pile higher than the distance between the earth and the moon.”

The DNA molecule, of which even the simplest – some would say the most “primitive” – forms of life are composed, is thus 45 million million times more efficient at holding and conveying information than a megachip. This is because the DNA molecule is an incredibly complex three-dimensional information storage system, where the megachip is only two-dimensional. But the DNA molecules ability to store and convey such inconceivably large amounts of information so efficiently does not tell us where the itself comes from. What is the source of that?

Information Theory, of which Professor Gitt is one of the world’s leading exponents, is an important branch of scientific investigation which has shown conclusively and consistently that information cannot and does not arise from any state of non-information, just as life cannot proceed from non-life. Moreover, information has now come to be recognized as the Third Fundamental Quantity of the universe, which hitherto was thought to consist of merely two fundamental quantities, those of matter and energy. The DNA molecule is, of course, matter. Its activities are funded by energy. But the information that it carries is something else entirely. In other words, it is not sufficient to have only matter and energy for DNA to work. What is also required, at least to begin with, is a massive input of information for which matter and energy can give no account, and which neither of them can supply. Again, Professor Gitt:

“According to Norbert Wiener, the founder of cybernetics and information theory, information cannot be of a physical nature, even though it is transmitted by physical means: ‘Information in information, neither matter nor energy. No materialism that fails to take account of this can survive the present day.’”

Because of the increasing disillusionment with the role of chance, a shift took place in the late 60’s and the 70’s to the view that life was somehow the inevitable outcome of nature’s laws at work over vast spans of time. Terms such as “directed chance” and “biochemical predestination” have entered the scientific literature to mean that life was somehow the result of the inherent properties of matter.

But more discomforting still to the materialist, is not just the recent discovery of information to be the Third Fundamental Quantity, but rather the startling realization of its source:

“If a basic code is found in any system, it can be concluded that the system originated from a mental concept, and did not arise by chance…. Meanings always represent mental concepts. They are distinct from matter and energy. They originate from an intelligent source. It is by means of language that information may be stored and transmitted on physical carriers. The information itself is invariant…. The reason for this invariance lies in its non-material nature.”

DNA stores literally coded information || DNA contains codified information || The various codes in the cell

It would seem then that while some materialists have been busy looking in all the wrong places, certain physicists have stumbled upon the Mind of God.

The problem with most of modern science is that the philosophy of reductionism is the ruling paradigm. According to George Williams, a scientist of some stature in the evolutionary community, the crucial object of selection in evolution is inherently non-material:

“Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains: that of information and that of matter…. These two domains can never be brought together in any kind of the sense usually implied by the term ‘reductionism.’ … The gene is a package of information, not an object. The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene. But the DNA molecule is the medium, its not the message…. Just the fact that fifteen years ago I started using a computer may have had something to do with my ideas here. The constant process of transferring information from one physical medium to another and then being able to recover the same information in the original medium brings home the separability of information and matter. In biology, when you’re talking about things like genes and genotypes and gene pools, you’re talking about information, not physical objective reality.”

Perhaps evolutionary biologists have avoided noticing that information and matter are fundamentally different things because that insight is fatal to the whole reductionist project in biology. If the message is truly not reducible to the medium, then trying to explain the creation of the information by a materialistic theory is simply a category mistake. One might as well try to explain the origin of a literary work [say, Hamlet] by invoking the chemical laws that govern the combining of ink and paper, and then proposing speculative hypotheses about how those laws (with boost from chance but without intelligence) might have generated meaningful sentences.

Here is some more wonderful information I updated in another post that came from a conversation at Starbucks:


Preliminary Hearing at Starbucks


I had a wonderful conversation with a very nice fellow at Starbucks (I will simply refer to him at times as John D.). The encounter started because of the book I was reading and an unsolicited question about it. It was only AFTER the conversation that I noted why question about the book was asked. The book was “Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed.” (Watch the author speak about the book HERE.) After the conversation had concluded, I realized what drew John D. into engaging me. During the conversation, as you will see, he intimated that he was a lawyer. Hence, the large title that drew him in is “Undeniable.”

Light conversation took place about the book, mainly because I am just beginning the book and do not know the content well enough yet to discuss it specifically. I did steer the conversation towards DNA just a tad — with Stephen Meyer’s book in mind.

For the reader of this post, keep in mind that while I did not go in-depth into the discussion of DNA that immediately follows, I did reference briefly the aspects of information being separate from the means of transmission [matter]:

Evolutionary biologist George Williams observed: “Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains: that of information and that of matter…. The gene is a package of information, not an object. The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene. But the DNA molecule is the medium, it’s not the message…. These two domains will never be brought together in any kind of the sense usually implied by the term ‘reductionism. Information doesn’t have mass or charge or length in millimeters. Likewise, matter doesn’t have bytes…. This dearth of shared descriptors makes matter and information two separate domains of existence, which have to be discussed separately, in their own terms.”[1]

As the information theorist Hubert Yockey observes, the “genetic code is constructed to confront and solve the problems of communication and recording by the same principles found . . . in modern communication and computer codes.” Yockey notes that “the technology of information theory and coding theory has been in place in biology for at least 3.85 billion years,” or from the time that life first originated on earth. What should we make of this fact? How did the information in life first arise?[2]

Codes are not matter and they’re not energy. Codes don’t come from matter, nor do they come from energy. Codes are information, and information is in a category by itself.[3]information

A great example is a newspaper.[4] If you read an article on a topic that is information being passed on to you by another intelligence. The modern roadblock for today’s naturalist is the problem of looking at the molecules that make up the ink printed page stores information via the 26 letters of the alphabet as somehow related to the origin of the information being passed on. The problem is that the newspaper is merely the medium, for the information. Like a Compact Disc is for music. The CD is merely the medium to carry the information.

The next question is, how much information can the DNA molecule hold?

a) A pinhead made of DNA: Let us imagine we had enough DNA to fill the volume of a pinhead with a diameter of 2 mm. How many paperbacks (each with 189 pages as in [G19]) could be represented by the information held in that amount of DNA? Answer: about 25 trillion. That would be a pile of these paperback books approximately 920 times the distance from the earth to the moon (384,000 km). In 2011, if we were to equally distribute these paperbacks amongst the approximately 6.93 billion people on Earth, every person would receive about 3,600 copies.

b) Drawing a wire: Now let us stretch the material of the 2 mm diameter pinhead into a wire of the same thickness as the DNA molecule (2 x 10-6 mm). How long would this wire be? Unbelievably, it would stretch 33 times around the equator, which has a circumference of 24,860 miles (40,000 km).

c) One thousandth of a gram of DNA: If we were to take a milligram (1 mg = 10-3 g) of a (double helix) strand of DNA material, it would almost stretch from the earth to the moon![5]

(Click to enlarge)

Dr. George Church, a pioneering molecular geneticist at Harvard/MIT, informed us in a Sciencexpress article in August of 2012, that the digital-information storage capacity of DNA is “very dense.” How dense? One gram of DNA can store 455 exabytes of information. For those readers like myself whose eyes glaze over as soon as computer nerds start talking about bytes and RAM’s I will put it in simple layman’s terms. One gram of DNA – the weight of two Tylenol – can store the same amount of digitally encoded information as a hundred billion DVD’s. Yes, you read correctly, I said a hundred billion DVD’s. Every single piece of information that exists on the Earth today; from every single library, from every single data base, from every single computer, could be stored in one beaker of DNA. This is the same DNA/Genetic Information/Self-Replication System that exists in humans and in bacteria (which are the simplest living organisms that exist today and have ever been known to exist). In short, our DNA-based genetic code, the universal system for all life on our planet, is the most efficient and sophisticated digital information storage, retrieval, and translation system known to man.[6]

I will repeat a line from the above graphic description:

  • “This particularly ingenious storage method reaches the limit of physical possibility.”

Let me give you another example of the same sort of reasoning. Imagine that you have just finished reading a fabulous novel. Wanting to read another book like it, you exclaim to a friend, “Wow! That was quite a book. I wonder where I can get a bottle of that ink?” Of course not! You wouldn’t give the ink and paper credit for writing the book. You’d praise the author, and look for another book by the same writer. By some twist of logic, though, many who read the fabulous DNA script want to give credit to the “ink (DNA base code) and paper (proteins)” for composing the code. In a novel, the ink and paper are merely the means the author uses to express his or her thoughts. In the genetic code, the DNA bases and proteins are merely the means God uses to express His thoughts.[7]

Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.[8]

Information is information, neither matter nor energy. No materialism that fails to take account of this can survive the present day. – Norbert Weiner, MIT Mathematician and Father of Cybernetics[9]


[1] This is a fuller quote adapted from two sources: Donald E. Johnson, Probability’s Nature and Nature’s Probability : A Call to Scientific Integrity (Charleston, SC: Booksurge Publishing, 2009), 44; Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York, NY: Harper One, 2009), 17.

[2] Meyer, ibid.

[3] Perry Marshall, Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design (Dallas, TX: Benbella Books, 2016), 187.

[4] The graphic to the right of the footnote is from, Werner Gitt, In the Beginning Was Information (Bielefeld, Germany: Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung, 1997), 86.

[5]  Werner Gitt, Without Excuse (Atlanta, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 2011), 288 (graph from p. 286).

  • BTW, Without Excuse is an updated edition of the book in footnote number four.

[6] Moshe Averick, Atheistic Science is Rapidly Sinking in the Quicksand, algemeiner.

[7] Gary Parker, 1.3 The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein, AiG.

[8] Bill Gates, The Road Ahead (New York, NY: Penguin Group, 1995), 188.

[9] Stan Lennard, So Easy a Caveman Could Do It?, RtB.


Here is a great presentation[s] and a QandA by Stephen Meyer discussing his Signature In The Cell:

ONE MUST INCLUDE THESE OTHER POSTS AS WELL!!!


NANOTECHNOLOGY

NOT ENOUGH TIME

ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE

NATURAL SELECTION D.O.A.

VITAMIN C PSEUDOGENE


A Fortunate Universe

Over the last forty years, scientists have uncovered evidence that if the Universe had been forged with even slightly different properties, life as we know it – and life as we can imagine it – would be impossible. Join us on a journey through how we understand the Universe, from its most basic particles and forces, to planets, stars and galaxies, and back through cosmic history to the birth of the cosmos. Conflicting notions about our place in the Universe are defined, defended and critiqued from scientific, philosophical and religious viewpoints. The authors’ engaging and witty style addresses what fine-tuning might mean for the future of physics and the search for the ultimate laws of nature. Tackling difficult questions and providing thought-provoking answers, this volumes challenges us to consider our place in the cosmos, regardless of our initial convictions.

Book is up for pre-order: A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos

Preliminary Hearing at Starbucks (Conversation Series)

I had a wonderful conversation with a very nice fellow at Starbucks (I will simply refer to him at times as John D.). The encounter started because of the book I was reading and an unsolicited question about it. It was only AFTER the conversation that I noted why question about the book was asked. The book was “Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed.” (Watch the author speak about the book HERE.) After the conversation had concluded, I realized what drew John D. into engaging me. During the conversation, as you will see, he intimated that he was a lawyer. Hence, the large title that drew him in is “Undeniable.”

Light conversation took place about the book, mainly because I am just beginning the book and do not know the content well enough yet to discuss it specifically. I did steer the conversation towards DNA just a tad — with Stephen Meyer’s book in mind.

For the reader of this post, keep in mind that while I did not go in-depth into the discussion of DNA that immediately follows, I did reference briefly the aspects of information being separate from the means of transmission [matter]:

Evolutionary biologist George Williams observed: “Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains: that of information and that of matter…. The gene is a package of information, not an object. The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene. But the DNA molecule is the medium, it’s not the message…. These two domains will never be brought together in any kind of the sense usually implied by the term ‘reductionism. Information doesn’t have mass or charge or length in millimeters. Likewise, matter doesn’t have bytes…. This dearth of shared descriptors makes matter and information two separate domains of existence, which have to be discussed separately, in their own terms.”[1]

As the information theorist Hubert Yockey observes, the “genetic code is constructed to confront and solve the problems of communication and recording by the same principles found . . . in modern communication and computer codes.” Yockey notes that “the technology of information theory and coding theory has been in place in biology for at least 3.85 billion years,” or from the time that life first originated on earth. What should we make of this fact? How did the information in life first arise?[2]

Codes are not matter and they’re not energy. Codes don’t come from matter, nor do they come from energy. Codes are information, and information is in a category by itself.[3]information

A great example is a newspaper.[4] If you read an article on a topic that is information being passed on to you by another intelligence. The modern roadblock for today’s naturalist is the problem of looking at the molecules that make up the ink printed page stores information via the 26 letters of the alphabet as somehow related to the origin of the information being passed on. The problem is that the newspaper is merely the mediu, for the information. Like a Compact Disc is for music. The CD is merely the medium to carry the information. The

The next question is, how much information can the DNA molecule hold?

a) A pinhead made of DNA: Let us imagine we had enough DNA to fill the volume of a pinhead with a diameter of 2 mm. How many paperbacks (each with 189 pages as in [G19]) could be represented by the information held in that amount of DNA? Answer: about 25 trillion. That would be a pile of these paperback books approximately 920 times the distance from the earth to the moon (384,000 km). In 2011, if we were to equally distribute these paperbacks amongst the approximately 6.93 billion people on Earth, every person would receive about 3,600 copies.

b) Drawing a wire: Now let us stretch the material of the 2 mm diameter pinhead into a wire of the same thickness as the DNA molecule (2 x 10-6 mm). How long would this wire be? Unbelievably, it would stretch 33 times around the equator, which has a circumference of 24,860 miles (40,000 km).

c) One thousandth of a gram of DNA: If we were to take a milligram (1 mg = 10-3 g) of a (double helix) strand of DNA material, it would almost stretch from the earth to the moon![5]

(Click to enlarge)

Dr. George Church, a pioneering molecular geneticist at Harvard/MIT, informed us in a Sciencexpress article in August of 2012, that the digital-information storage capacity of DNA is “very dense.” How dense? One gram of DNA can store 455 exabytes of information. For those readers like myself whose eyes glaze over as soon as computer nerds start talking about bytes and RAM’s I will put it in simple layman’s terms. One gram of DNA – the weight of two Tylenol – can store the same amount of digitally encoded information as a hundred billion DVD’s. Yes, you read correctly, I said a hundred billion DVD’s. Every single piece of information that exists on the Earth today; from every single library, from every single data base, from every single computer, could be stored in one beaker of DNA. This is the same DNA/Genetic Information/Self-Replication System that exists in humans and in bacteria (which are the simplest living organisms that exist today and have ever been known to exist). In short, our DNA-based genetic code, the universal system for all life on our planet, is the most efficient and sophisticated digital information storage, retrieval, and translation system known to man.[6]

I will repeat a line from the above graphic description:

  • “This particularly ingenious storage method reaches the limit of physical possibility.”

Let me give you another example of the same sort of reasoning. Imagine that you have just finished reading a fabulous novel. Wanting to read another book like it, you exclaim to a friend, “Wow! That was quite a book. I wonder where I can get a bottle of that ink?” Of course not! You wouldn’t give the ink and paper credit for writing the book. You’d praise the author, and look for another book by the same writer. By some twist of logic, though, many who read the fabulous DNA script want to give credit to the “ink (DNA base code) and paper (proteins)” for composing the code. In a novel, the ink and paper are merely the means the author uses to express his or her thoughts. In the genetic code, the DNA bases and proteins are merely the means God uses to express His thoughts.[7]

Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.[8]

Information is information, neither matter nor energy. No materialism that fails to take account of this can survive the present day. – Norbert Weiner, MIT Mathematician and Father of Cybernetics[9]


[1] This is a fuller quote adapted from two sources: Donald E. Johnson, Probability’s Nature and Nature’s Probability : A Call to Scientific Integrity (Charleston, SC: Booksurge Publishing, 2009), 44; Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York, NY: Harper One, 2009), 17.

[2] Meyer, ibid.

[3] Perry Marshall, Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design (Dallas, TX: Benbella Books, 2016), 187.

[4] The graphic to the right of the footnote is from, Werner Gitt, In the Beginning Was Information (Bielefeld, Germany: Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung, 1997), 86.

[5]  Werner Gitt, Without Excuse (Atlanta, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 2011), 288 (graph from p. 286).

  • BTW, Without Excuse is an updated edition of the book in footnote number four.

[6] Moshe Averick, Atheistic Science is Rapidly Sinking in the Quicksand, algemeiner.

[7] Gary Parker, 1.3 The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein, AiG.

[8] Bill Gates, The Road Ahead (New York, NY: Penguin Group, 1995), 188.

[9] Stan Lennard, So Easy a Caveman Could Do It?, RtB.

…Continuing

After relaying the basics of information and DNA, I then went through what I have memorized quite well — here are the bullet points:

  • Albert Einstein developed his general theory of relativity in 1915;
  • Around the same time evidence of an expanding universe was being presented to the American Astronomical Society by Vesto Slipher;
  • In the 1920s using Einstein’s theory, a Russian mathematician (Alexander Friedman) and the Belgium astronomer (George Lemaitre) predicted the universe was expanding;
  • In 1929, Hubble discovered evidence confirming earlier work on the Red-Light shift showing that galaxies are moving away from us;
  • In the 1940’s, George Gamow predicted a particular temperature to the universe if the Big Bang happened;
  • In 1965, two scientists (Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson) discovered the universe’s background radiation — and it was only about 3.7 degrees above absolute zero.

(see more)

I mentioned that this information from science supports the Hebrew Scripture’s account of creation ex nihilo [from nothing], whereas, all the other writings from the Egyptians, Sumerian, Greeks, as well as all the major religious texts all posit an eternal universe or matter in some form or another. I relayed this quote roughly, noting Dr. Wilson’s participation in the Big-Bang becoming a widely accepted:

  • “Certainly there was something that set it all off. Certainly, if you are religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.” ~ Robert Wilson: is an American astronomer, 1978 Nobel laureate in physics, who with Arno Allan Penzias discovered in 1964 the cosmic microwave background radiation.

John D. then steered the conversation towards other matters, giving me some biographical information about himself. He mentioned he was a lawyer. I gave him my card to my site and explained that if you hover over “Home” with your mouse (at the top of my site), to click on “Recommended Reads.” I pulled this page up on my phone and mentioned these top four books are by lawyers or people specialized in evidence… the parameters of which courts use as acceptable. I pointed to the Simon Greenleaf book, and started to explain his background to him…

Jesus on Trial Christianity on Trial Testimony Evangelist Greeleaf Apologetics Who moved the stone morrison Apologetics

… I noted that Simon Greenleaf wrote what was a first in American history, giving our court system a 3-volume set on what “is” evidence, thus, divorcing us from the British concepts of what courts should and should not accept as evidence. His work, “A Treatise on the Law of Evidence. 3 Vols.,” is considered a classic of American jurisprudence and is still used in law-schools today as part of the history of law. I included a bit more biographical info before getting to the main part of the point. I mentioned Dr. Greenleaf was an atheist (really I should have said agnostic) as well as a Jew who was skeptical of the Resurrection of Jesus. Continuing I said that Simon Greenleaf took his knowledge of what makes good evidence to respond to a challenge by a student in regards to applying the rules of evidence to the Gospels to prove-or-disprove the Resurrection. After about two-years, Dr. Greenleaf became a Christian and wrote his book, “Testimony of the Evangelists.

Simon Greenleaf died October 6, 1853.  Born of Jewish descent on December 5, 1783, Greenleaf was an agnostic, some say atheist, who believed the resurrection of Jesus Christ was either a hoax or a myth.  No stranger to truth, and to the proof of the truth, Greenleaf was a principal founder of the Harvard Law School and a world-renowned expert on evidence. Challenged by one of his students one day to “consider the evidence” for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Greenleaf set out to disprove it, but ended up concluding that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was indeed fact, not fiction.  Being a man of conviction and reason, and in accordance with his conclusions, Greenleaf converted from Agnosticism to Christianity.  His life and works went on to inspire such scholars as John Warwick Montgomery, Josh McDowell, Ross Clifford and Lee Strobel…. (Biographical Info)

It was when I finished that part of our discussion that he mentioned he was Jewish. “Awesome, I am glad I focused in on Simon Greenleaf then,” I thought to myself. John D. then segued by stating that as a lawyer he would never introduce such hearsay/shabby evidence as what the Old Testament affords people, mentioning specifically the old testament not pre-dating the Dead Sea Scrolls in any written form (they date around 200 B.C. or younger. I did not bring up an earlier example (by 400-years) of a partial scroll of Numbers, instead, I wanted to bring into his court room he was apparently running something along the same lines. Or this recent tech advance allowing the reading of a 2,000 year-old scroll:

This comes by way of END TIME blog:

Modern Technology Unlocks Secrets of a Damaged Biblical Scroll

Nearly half a century ago, archaeologists found a charred ancient scroll in the ark of a synagogue on the western shore of the Dead Sea. The lump of carbonized parchment could not be opened or read. Its curators did nothing but conserve it, hoping that new technology might one day emerge to make the scroll legible. Just such a technology has now been perfected by computer scientists at the University of Kentucky. Working with biblical scholars in Jerusalem, they have used a computer to unfurl a digital image of the scroll.

So neat! What does the text say?

It turns out to hold a fragment identical to the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible and, at nearly 2,000 years old, is the earliest instance of the text. … The scroll’s content, the first two chapters of the Book of Leviticus, has consonants — early Hebrew texts didn’t specify vowels — that are identical to those of the Masoretic text, the authoritative version of the Hebrew Bible and the one often used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles.

So the authoritative 1000 year old Masoretic text is identical to this 2000 year old text found and examined by computer? Those tenth century monks who precisely copied and instituted rules for further copying so as to ensure perfection of the texts is proved 100% reliable by computer forensics in this millennial age? Even more neat!

“We have never found something as striking as this,” Dr. Tov said. “This is the earliest evidence of the exact form of the medieval text,” he said, referring to the Masoretic text.

It is striking, that a 2000 year old text from Leviticus is exact as to the Masoretic texts copied in 1000 AD! So thrilling…

I mentioned that in the Dead Sea Scrolls was an intact copy of Isaiah. At the time the oldest manuscript the Church had was dated at A.D. 980. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found we had a copy dated to 125 B.C. — that is just about 1,100 years apart. Only one single word was added to the text that was likewise previously confirmed by the LXX.

The word “light”

He will see it[a] out of His anguish,
and He will be satisfied with His knowledge.
My righteous Servant will justify many,
and He will carry their iniquities.


Footnotes: [a] Isaiah 53:11 DSS [Dead Sea Scrolls],

LXX [Septuagint] read see light

Here we see the ending paragraphs giving an overview of the issue in the excellent book by Dr.’s Geisler and Nix:

With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars have Hebrew manuscripts one thousand years earlier than the great Masoretic Text manuscripts, enabling them to check on the fidelity of the Hebrew text. The result of comparative studies reveals that there is a word-for-word identity in more than 95 percent of the cases, and the 5 percent variation consists mostly of slips of the pen and spelling. To be specific, the Isaiah scroll (1Q Isa) from Qumran led the Revised Standard Version translators to make only thirteen changes from the Masoretic Text; eight of those were known from ancient versions, and few of them were significant. More specifically, of the 166 Hebrew words in Isaiah 53 only seventeen Hebrew letters in 1Q Isb differ from the Masoretic Text. Ten letters are a matter of spelling, four are stylistic changes, and the other three compose the word for “light” (add in v. 11), which does not affect the meaning greatly. Furthermore that word is also found in that verse in the LXX and 1Q Isa.

CONCLUSION

The [many] thousands of Hebrew manuscripts, with their confirmation by the LXX and the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the numerous other crosschecks from outside and inside the text provide overwhelming support for the reliability of the Old Testament text. Hence, it is appropriate to conclude with Sir Frederic Kenyon’s statement, “The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries.”

Norman Geisler and William Nix, A General Interdiction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1986), 382.

I mentioned that in our case the court would not worry about the amount of years between the two documents, rather they would show precedence that very little has changed between the two. So In a court all that would matter to the jury is how these texts are transmitted and if this transmission is done well/accurately. John D. even mentioned the telephone game where one kid whispers into another kids ear… and by the end of circle you are left with something different. I would note as politely as possible that that analogy is a non-sequitur, and leave it at that.

(By the way, introducing Detective Wallace’s work always allows me to give my testimony. While I was one of the early inmates to super-max here in my town, he connected with that in that before it officially opened, he got to tour the facility.)

The odd thing is — at least to me — is that he made a comment about hearsay testimony after I mentioned J. Warner Wallace’s BOOK and discussed some of his biographical background.  John D. mentioned that to bring into to court a person that hadn’t had a police officer immediately (or very close to the event) write down the witness’ description of events that the testimony would be thrown out.

I was shocked.

So I brought up a hypothetical crime done in a neighborhood where people typically keep silent, whether out of fear, culture, whatever. Lets say it was a murder. Some months later [even years] some witnesses start coming forward… four of them, and described the events. Each a little different because of recollection, vantage point, their demeanor, and the like. But the witnesses describe something that fit well with the forensic evidence. I was politely blunt with John when I said of course you could easily get a conviction of this murderer. He agreed, mentioning circumstantial evidence. Which is really what we are talking about.

My friends started showing up for the Bible study I was early for… but John had to tell me a story about Jewish tradition and children. “Seders” was the topic and children were the true scribes of tradition. Which is partially true… that is how the Jewish tradition and culture has lasted for all this time – memorization and habit. I even write that Christians should take their Gospel studies as seriously. He discussed how innocent children are not knowing how to even lie to about 4-years old. I did not interrupt him, even though the Bible (see “A”) and studies of children (see “B”) show this not to be the case, I wanted him to say what he needed to say.

Before I said my final statements… as he wanted to get his coffee and go (we had talked almost half-an-hour). I simply reiterated his statement to me near the beginning of the conversation that he had yet to see evidence that he would make him consider or take the Bible seriously (a rough recap of his statement). I got him to admit that he hasn’t gone out of his way to do so, and that if I got him a single book — if he would take it as a gift and consider reading it when he has the time.

To which he agreed.

I then concluded with my final thoughts to close us out. I mainly went over the conversation in bullet point form; mentioning of the evidences we discussed (scientific evidences as well as manuscript evidences) which I added go a long way to build a case for the Bible and the Judeo-Christian faith. I then pointed him back to what he wanted.  That is, he shared a colloquial story from his family (which is fine), but his lovely “story” about the innocence of children and their faithful transmission of tradition was no part of what a court would accept.

At that he went his way. John is a regular and I look forward to future discussions with him if he wishes. But more than that, even though I am using a pseudo name for him PLEASE PRAY that the Holy Spirit quicken his heart to His truths. As he reads the book I got him pray that he follows some of the references/resources to further look into the claims of this Jesus.

I hope as well me adding to the conversation and linking out to other resources is a help for your future conversations.

…The total depravity of man is seen throughout the Bible. Man’s heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). The Bible also teaches us that man is born dead in transgression and sin (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3, Ephesians 2:1-5). The Bible teaches that because unregenerate man is “dead in transgressions” (Ephesians 2:5), he is held captive by a love for sin (John 3:19; John 8:34) so that he will not seek God (Romans 3:10-11) because he loves the darkness (John 3:19) and does not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). Therefore, men suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) and continue to willfully live in sin. Because they are totally depraved, this sinful lifestyle seems right to men (Proverbs 14:12) so they reject the gospel of Christ as foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18) and their mind is “hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is unable to do so” (Romans 8:7).

The Apostle Paul summarizes the total depravity of man in Romans 3:9-18. He begins this passage by saying that “both Jews and Greeks are all under sin.” Simply put, this means that man is under the control of sin or is controlled by his sin nature (his natural tendency to sin)…

(Got Questions)

Whether lying about raiding the biscuit tin or denying they broke a toy, all children try to mislead their parents at some time. Yet it now appears that babies learn to deceive from a far younger age than anyone previously suspected.

Behavioural experts have found that infants begin to lie from as young as six months. Simple fibs help to train them for more complex deceptions in later life.

Until now, psychologists had thought the developing brains were not capable of the difficult art of lying until four years old.

Following studies of more than 50 children and interviews with parents, Dr Vasudevi Reddy, of the University of Portsmouth’s psychology department, says she has identified seven categories of deception used between six months and three-years-old.

Infants quickly learnt that using tactics such as fake crying and pretend laughing could win them attention. By eight months, more difficult deceptions became apparent, such as concealing forbidden activities or trying to distract parents’ attention.

By the age of two, toddlers could use far more devious techniques, such as bluffing when threatened with a punishment.

Dr Reddy said: “Fake crying is one of the earliest forms of deception to emerge, and infants use it to get attention even though nothing is wrong. You can tell, as they will then pause while they wait to hear if their mother is responding, before crying again.

“It demonstrates they’re clearly able to distinguish that what they are doing will have an effect. This is essentially all adults do when they tell lies, except in adults it becomes more morally loaded.”…

(The Telegraph)


UPDATE — LEVITICUS


Leviticus and Hygiene ~ Burton’s Microbiology

The Book of Leviticus in the Bible was probably the first recording of laws concerning public health. The Hebrew people were told to practice personal hygiene by washing and keeping clean. They were also instructed to bury their waste material away from their campsites, to isolate those who were sick, and to burn soiled dressings. They were prohibited from eating animals that had died of natural causes. The procedure for killing an animal was clearly described, and the edible parts were designated.

Gwendolyn R.W. Burton and Paul G. Engelkirk, Microbiology for the Health Sciences, 6th Edition (New York, NY: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2000), 9.