In InvestigateDaily, a report on intelligently designed DNA. The implication, either "God" or space aliens.
See the interview on Youtube at GivingAnAnswer.
Worth a look?
Dr. John Ashton Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Victoria University, Melbourne, and Adjunct Professor of Applied Sciences at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, the largest Australian tertiary institution. He holds a BSc (Honors) with prize in chemistry and PhD in epistemology (a branch of philosophy dealing with the limits of knowledge), also with prize, from the University of Newcastle and an MSc in chemistry from the University of Tasmania. Dr. Ashton is a Chartered Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, and a former Honorary Associate in the School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences at the University of Sydney. He also served as editor of three books related to science and faith issues
As reported by Willaim Dembski in ENV...Thomas Nagel, with his just published Mind & Cosmos, has now become another defector from Darwinian naturalism. Appearing from Oxford University Press and subtitled Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, this slender volume (it's only 130 pages) represents the most disconcerting defection (disconcerting to Darwinists) from Darwinian naturalism to date.
Access Research Network has just released its annual "Top 10 Darwin and Design Science Stories" for 2011.
Gaining top honors on the list was the publication of the 50th peer-reviewed pro-ID scientific paper. A major criticism of the intelligent design movement over the past decade has been the lack of scientific research and peer-reviewed scientific papers. The establishment of two ID research labs, Biologic Institute and the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, along with a peer-reviewed scientific journal Bio-Complexity, where the scientific merit of intelligent design claims can be examined, have helped accelerated the body of peer-reviewed scientific literature for ID. According to Dennis Wagner, ARN Executive Director "Together, these labs along with individual researchers have published peer-reviewed pro-ID scientific papers in journals such as Protein Science, Journal of Molecular Biology, Theoretical Biology and Medical Modeling, Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Quarterly Review of Biology, Cell Biology International, Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum, Physics of Life Reviews, Annual Review of Genetics, and multiple others. Collectively, this body of research is converging upon a consensus: complex biological features cannot arise by Darwinian mechanisms, but require an intelligent cause."
Biomemetics, the field of science where man tries to mimic designs found in nature, made the top 10 list again this year with inventors from Harvard building a prototype butterfly and researchers in China reverse-engineering the woodpecker in order to build a better shock-absorbing system. "In order to reverse-engineer a system," Wagner pointed out, "it has to be engineered in the first place. The butterfly and the woodpecker are just two examples of biological designs that are so complex, they defy the limited capabilities of Darwinian mutations and natural selection."
An online version of the ARN Top 10 Darwin and Design stories for 2011 with hyperlinks to original news sources can be found at www.arn.org/top10.
Colorado Springs, CO - January 31, 2011
A new journal, BIO-Complexity, and a new computer game CellCraft, were two of the top 10 Darwin and Design resources for 2010 named on the annual list released by Access Research Network this week.
BIO-Complexity is a peer-reviewed scientific journal with the unique goal to become the leading forum for testing the scientific merit of the claim that intelligent design is a credible explanation for life.
Those looking for slightly less cerebral resources might like the new online computer game, CellCraft that is designed to teach about cellular biology. This is a game crafted by people who love games and is enjoyable even if you learn nothing from it. It is a blend of real time strategy, tower defense, and city planning all cast within a cellular setting. But it is hard to play and not be impressed by the complexity and design of the cell.
An online version of the ARN Top 10 Darwin and Design stories for 2010 with hyperlinks to original news sources can be found at www.arn.org/top10.
By Robert Deyes
Three months ago Princeton evolutionary biologist Andrea Graham became the talk of the ecoimmunology town through her summarization of the apparent connection between immunity and fertility (1). From trials carried out on 1476 individuals of wild Soay sheep from the St Kilda island archipelago in northern Scotland, Graham et al painted a complex picture of competing trade-offs the strengths of which were intimately dependent on the prevalence of environmental extremes. They found that higher immunity amongst animals, while promoting better survival, negatively affected reproductive prowess (1,2). More specifically sheep with increased immune readiness against 'parasite infested winters' were less likely to sire offspring, which Graham et al attributed to the concomitantly higher levels of auto-reactive antibodies (1,2).
Low immune-response animals fared better in low 'parasite prevalence' environments perhaps because energy for reproduction was not frivoled away on energy-costly antibody manufacture (1,2). The conclusion drawn was that the selective advantage of low immune-and high-immune response animals in low parasite prevalence and high parasite prevalence environments respectively explains why evolution has in effect "failed to eliminate alleles that confer susceptibility to infection or promote autoimmunity"(2).
So can we pack our bags and head home content with yet another open-and-shut case in which natural selection has been incontrovertibly authenticated? Not quite. The work of Graham et al also brought into view a nagging theoretical belly-ache for evolutionists by demonstrating natural selection to be, as prominent anti-Darwinist Phillip Johnson once quipped "an all-purpose explanation which can account for anything, and which therefore explains nothing" (3). In his book Darwin On Trial Johnson underscored the idea, most commonly attributed to the philosopher Karl Popper, that just about any characteristic can be deemed to be disadvantageous or advantageous depending on the surrounding environmental conditions (3). The above example makes this plain. One cannot make a case for the propagation of detrimental immunity genes without first knowing what climatic and parasitic sways have possibly influenced the eventuality. Johnson's own choice example brought this point home:
"It may seem obvious that it is advantageous for a wild stallion to be able to run faster, but in the Darwinian sense this will be true only to the extent that a faster stallion sires more offspring. If greater speed leads to more frequent falls, or if faster stallions tend to outdistance the mares and miss opportunities for reproduction, then the improvement may be disadvantageous" (3)
Johnson further noted how in such cases "it is impossible to identify the advantage independently of the outcome" (3). Since advantages are not readily identifiable ahead of time, not much is excludable. The goal posts of permissibility are kept wide enough so that just about any outcome is admissible. In the Soay sheep study the author's closing inference- that "a complex and potentially balancing set of associations in a variable environment suggest a mechanism for the maintenance of immunoheterogeneity" proved to be about as uninformative and open-ended a statement as one might find in life science circles. Simply put, heterogeneity begets heterogeneity.
Pennsylvania State University evolutionary biologist Andrew Read remarked that ecoimmunology, which looks at the interplay between ecological factors and immune response "has been a controversial field because it's really hard to decide what to measure without a history [of the population]" (1). For the Soay sheep on St. Kilda, the history was well known: "longitudinal information on both individual life histories and population dynamics" had been available since as long ago as 1985 (2). But truth be told, even if such histories were not readily available Darwinists have freed themselves from the need to predict what natural selection will or will not do in the future by "adjusting the theory as necessary to conform to the observed facts" (3). Writing on the philosophical necessity of Darwinism, Johnson added that "the adjusting devices are so flexible that in combination they make it difficult to conceive of a way to test the claims of Darwinism empirically" (3). In short, Darwinism is immune to disproof.
It would appear that some exobiologists have learnt a lesson or two from their evolutionist brethren. In a NewScientist piece on the telltale chemistry of life last week, NASA's Chris McKay speculated that the relative abundances of life-signature chemicals might be all the indicatory evidence we need to home in on potential life-berthing planets (4). Christoph Adami, who garnered notoriety as co-designer of the evolutionary algorithm AVIDA, has compared amino acid levels from earth's soils and oceans with those of abiotic sources and found that, while terrestrial/biotic samples were rich in more complex amino acids, the simpler Alanine and Glycine residues dominated the abiotic fingerprint (4). Not much of a surprise there. Adami then decided to put his AVIDA brainchild through its paces by 'evolving' populations of Avidians as a way of showing that chemical 'signatures' are a reality of any life-sustaining habitat including those in the digital realm (4,5).
Yet accompanying this 'universal principle' (term chosen by Adami) was a disclaimer that would conveniently allow any budding exobiologist to eschew the clutches of maligning critics lest extra-terrestrial life were never found. Washington State University's Dirk Schulze-Makuch led the disclamatory charge by maintaining that "different minerals, temperatures and pressures could allow for chemical reactions that do not occur on Earth" and might therefore be difficult to pull out from the hubbub of non-biotic reactions (4). The announcement (contentious at that) of arsenic-backboned DNA in one bacterial strain (6) has also been pounced on to fuel speculation that life outside of our fuzzy warm planet may truly be "not as we know it" (7,8). That there is life outside our planet is not in doubt, inevitabilists assure us (9). These same protagonists of the universality of life would have us believe that we simply have not had sufficient time to search alternative exotic life-fostering chemistries (7,8). Immunity from disproof is as present in this sort of reasoning as it is in Darwinist ideology. After all, one can interminably argue for what is not there if one unwaveringly assumes that it is hidden from view.
1. Vanessa Schipani (2011) Strong immunity=low fertility, The Scientist, October 28th.
2. Graham et al (2010) Fitness Correlates of Heritable Variation in Antibody Responsiveness in a Wild Mammal, Science, Volume 330 pp.662-65.
3. Phillip Johnson (1991), Darwin on Trial, 1st Ed, InterVarsity Press Publishers, Madison, Wisconsin, pp. 20-30
4. Michael Marshall (2011) Telltale chemistry could betray ET, NewScientist, 21st January, 2011,
5. Evan D. Dorn, Kenneth H. Nealson and Christoph Adami (2011) Monomer Abundance Distribution Patterns as a Universal Biosignature: Examples from Terrestrial and Digital Life, Journal of Molecular Evolution, DOI: 10.1007/s00239-011-9429-4
6. Felisa Wolfe-Simon et al (2010) A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus, Science, Published online 2 December 2010 [DOI:10.1126/science.1197258]
7. Seth Shostak (2010) Life But Not As We Know It, The Huffington Post, December 5th, 2010
8. Richard Alleyne 'Life as we don't know it' discovery could prove existence of aliens, The Daily Telegraph, 1st December, 2010
9. Inevitabilists believe that the origins of life is truly an inevitable consequence of some fundamental natural tendency in the universe towards great complexity, See Improbabilists, Inevitabilists And The Astonishing Mystery Of Life
Colorado Springs, CO - December 21, 2010
Access Research Network has just released its annual "Top 10 Darwin and Design Science Stories" for 2010.
Gaining top honors on the list was new research that revealed the optimal design of the human eye. Physicists from the Israel Institute of Technology have created a light-guiding model of the retina, which reveals that the glial (or Muller) cells provide low-scattering passage of light from the retinal surface to the photoreceptor cells, thus acting as optical fibers. Researchers concluded "The fundamental features of the array of glial cells are revealed as an optimal structure designed for preserving the acuity of images in the human retina. It plays a crucial role in vision quality, in humans and in other species." These findings open up potentially fruitful areas for biomimetics research and might find applications in more successful eye transplants and better camera designs.
The gold rush toward biomimetics research (human designs mimicking biological designs) was another top story this year. According to Dennis Wagner, ARN Executive Director "Dozens of articles appeared in the 2010 scientific literature reporting how scientists are learning how to 'reverse engineer' living systems." Examples include: 1) Caltech scientists who are studying jellyfish in order to build a better aquatic pump; 2) German engineers who are building a robotic arm inspired by the design of the elephant trunk; 3) a European team that is building a robotic arm with inspiration from a octopus's limb; 4) swim suits and ship hulls that are being patterned after shark skin; 5) students at the University of Texas, Dallas, that are trying to harness the chemical sensing capability of bacteria to build synthetic sensors for toxins; 6) researchers at the University of Queensland who are inventing navigation systems that can perform complex maneuvers by imitating the optical flow of honeybee eyes; and 7) researchers that are pursuing new lightweight and high performance materials based on a new spider species found in Madagascar that spins silk twice as strong and twice as elastic as any previously studied. This "toughest biomaterial ever seen" is 10 times stronger than Kevlar. Wagner observed, "Many of these research articles seem to miss the rather obvious point that in order to reverse engineer a system, it had to be engineered in the first place."
An online version of the ARN Top 10 Darwin and Design stories for 2010 with hyperlinks to original news sources can be found at www.arn.org/top10.
According to reviewer Dora the new online game CellCraft "is one part resource management, one part puzzle, one part strategy, and even one part funny. Oh, and did I mention? It's(*gasp!*)... educational!"
If you are looking for a fun way to teach your kids (or yourself) about the complexity and of the cell give this new online game a try. It can be played at the popular Kongragate website or you can download a copy to your computer from the CellCraft game website.
Jay Richards writes in The American about Stephen Hawkings "nothing". Gravity seems to be a placeholder for a personal, eternal, intelligent designer. But, from whence came gravity? Using equivocal definitions of nothing gets you nowhere.
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