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The following are unclassified quotes posted in my email messages in January-June, 2004.
The date format is dd/mm/yy. See copyright conditions at end.
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July 1/7/2004 "Gould has been at the forefront of the discussion of another fascinating phenomenon: the `Cambrian explosion.' Careful searches show only a smattering of fossils of multicellular creatures in rocks older than about 600 million years. Yet in rocks just a little bit younger is seen a profusion of fossilized animals, with a host of widely differing body plans. Recently the estimated time over which the explosion took place has been revised downward from 50 million years to 10 million years-a blink of the eye in geological terms. The shorter time estimate has forced headline writers to grope for new superlatives, a favorite being the `biological Big Bang.' Gould has argued that the rapid rate of appearance of new life forms demands a mechanism other than natural selection for its explanation. Ironically, we have come full circle from Darwin's day. When Darwin first proposed his theory a big difficulty was the estimated age of the earth. Nineteenth-century physicists thought the earth was only about a hundred million years old, yet Darwin thought natural selection would require much more time to produce life. At first he was proven right; the earth is now known to be much older. With the discovery of the biological Big Bang, however, the window of time for life to go from simple to complex has shrunk to much less than nineteenth- century estimates of the earth's age." (Behe, M.J.*, "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," Free Press: New York NY, 1996, pp.27-28) 8/7/2004 "Time was when Western Christendom's deepest division was between relatively homogeneous Protestant churches and a relatively homogeneous Church of Rome. Today, however, the deepest and most hurtful division is between theological conservatives (or `conservationists,' as I prefer to call them), who honor the Christ of the Bible and of the historic creeds and confessions, and theological liberals and radicals who for whatever reason do not; and this division splits the older Protestant bodies and the Roman communion internally. Convictional renewal within the churches can only come, under God, through sustained exposition, affirmation, and debate, and since it is substantially the same battle that has to be fought across the board, a coalition of evangelical and Catholic resources for the purpose would surely make sense." (Packer, J.I.*, "Why I Signed It," Christianity Today, December 12, 1994, pp.34-37, pp.35-36) 8/7/2004 "But are there any very special occasions when saltations, or macromutations, are incorporated into evolution? Macromutations certainly occur in the laboratory. Our theoretical considerations say only that viable macromutations should be exceedingly rare in comparison with viable micromutations. But even if the occasions when major saltations are viable and incorporated into evolution are exceedingly rare, even if they have occurred only once or twice in the whole history of a lineage from Precambrian to present, that is enough to transform the entire course of evolution. I find it plausible for instance, that the invention of segmentation occurred in a single macromutational leap, once during the history of our own vertebrate ancestors and again once in the ancestry of arthropods and annelids. Once this had happened in either of these two lineages, it changed the entire climate in which ordinary cumulative selection of micromutations went on. It must have resembled indeed, a sudden catastrophic change in the external climate. Just as a lineage can, after appalling loss of life, recover and adapt to a catastrophic change in the external climate, so a lineage might, by subsequent micromutational selection, adapt to the catastrophe of a macromutation as large as the first segmentation. (Dawkins, R., "Darwin Triumphant: Darwinism as a Universal Truth," in Robinson M.H. & Tiger L., eds., "Man & Beast Revisited," Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington DC, 1991, pp.31-32) 9/7/2004 "When light first strikes the retina a photon interacts with a molecule called 11-cis-retinal, which rearranges within picoseconds to trans- retinal. (A picosecond is about the time it takes light to travel the breadth of a single human hair.) The change in the shape of the retinal molecule forces a change in the shape of the protein rhodopsin, to which the retinal is tightly bound. The protein's metamorphosis alters its behavior. Now called metarhodopsin II the protein sticks to another protein, called transducin. Before bumping into metarhodopsin II, transducin had tightly bound a small molecule called GDP. But when transducin interacts with metarhodopsin II, the GDP falls off, and a molecule called GTP binds to transducin. (GTP is closely related to, but critically different from, GDP). GTP-transducin-metarhodopsin II now binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When attached to metarhodopsin II and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the chemical ability to `cut' a molecule called cGMP (a chemical relative of both GDP and GTP). Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the phosphodiesterase lowers its concentration, just as a pulled plug lowers the water level in a bathtub. Another membrane protein that binds cGMP is called an ion channel. It acts as a gateway that regulates the number of sodium ions in the cell. Normally the ion channel allows sodium ions to flow into the cell, while a separate protein actively pumps them out again. The dual action of the ion channel and pump keeps the level of sodium ions in the cell within a narrow range. When the amount of cGMP is reduced because of cleavage by the phosphodiesterase, the ion channel closes, causing the cellular concentration of positively charged sodium ions to be reduced. This causes an imbalance of charge across the cell membrane that, finally, causes a current to be transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain. The result, when interpreted by the brain, is vision. If the reactions mentioned above were the only ones that operated in the cell, the supply of 11-cis-retinal, cGME and sodium ions would quickly be depleted. Something has to turn off the proteins that were turned on and restore the cell to its original state. Several mechanisms do this. First, in the dark the ion channel (in addition to sodium ions) also lets calcium ions into the cell. The calcium is pumped back out by a different protein so that a constant calcium concentration is maintained. When cGMP levels fall, shutting down the ion channel, calcium ion concentration decreases, too. The phosphodiesterase enzyme, which destroys cGMF, slows down at lower calcium concentration. Second, a protein called guanylate cyclase begins to resynthesize cGMP when calcium levels start to fall. Third while all of this is going on, metarhodopsin II is chemically modified by an enzyme called rhodopsin kinase. The modified rhodopsin then binds to a protein known as arrestin, which prevents the rhodopsin from activating more transducin. So the cell contains mechanisms to limit the amplified signal started by a single photon. trans- retinal eventually falls off of rhodopsin and must be reconverted to 11-cis-retinal and again bound by rhodopsin to get back to the starting point for another visual cycle To accomplish this, trans-retinal is first chemically modified by an enzyme to trans-retinol- a form containing two more hydrogen atoms. A second enzyme then converts the molecule to 11-cis-retinol. Finally, a third enzyme removes the previously added hydrogen atoms to form 11-cis-retinal a cycle is complete." (Behe, M.J.*, "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," Free Press: New York NY, 1996, pp.18-21) 10/7/2004 "George Halder, Patrick Callaerts and Walter Gehring discovered an experimental manipulation that led to ey's being expressed in other parts of the body. By doctoring Drosophila larvae in cunning ways, they succeeded in making ey express itself in the antennae, the wings and the legs. Amazingly, the treated adult flies grew up with fully formed compound eyes on their wings, legs, antennae and elsewhere (Inset Figure 5.29). ... That is remarkable fact number one. Fact number two is even more remarkable. There is a gene in mice called small eye and one in humans called aniridia. These, too, are named using the geneticists' negative convention: mutational damage to these genes causes reduction or absence of eyes or parts of eyes. Rebecca Quiring and Uwe Waldorf, working in the same Swiss laboratory, found that these particular mammal genes are almost identical, in their DNA sequences, to the ey gene in Drosophila. This means that the same gene has come down from remote ancestors to modern animals as distant from each other as mammals and insects. Moreover, in both these major branches of the animal kingdom the gene seems to have a lot to do with eyes. Remarkable fact number three is almost too startling. Halder, Callaerts and Gehring succeeded in introducing the mouse gene into Drosophila embryos. Mirabile dictu, the mouse gene induced ectopic eyes in Drosophila. Inset Figure 5.29 (bottom) shows a small compound eye induced on the leg of a fruitfly by the mouse equivalent of ey. Notice, by the way, that it is an insect compound eye that has been induced, not a mouse eye. The mouse gene has simply switched on the eyemaking developmental machinery of Drosophila Genes with pretty much the same DNA sequence as ey have been found also in molluscs, marine worms called nemertines, and sea-squirts. Ey may very well be universal among animals, and it may turn out to be a general rule that a version of the gene taken from a donor in one part of the animal kingdom can induce eyes to develop in recipients in an exceedingly remote part of the animal kingdom. What does this spectacular series of experiments mean for our conclusion in this chapter? Were we wrong to think that eyes have developed forty times independently? I don't think so. At least the spirit of the statement that eyes evolve easily and at the drop of a hat remains unscathed. These experiments probably do mean that the common ancestor of Drosophila, mice, humans, sea-squirts and so on had eyes. The remote common ancestor had vision of some kind, and its eyes, whatever form they may have taken, probably developed under the influence of a sequence of DNA similar to modern ey. But the actual form of the different kinds of eye, the details of retinas and lenses or mirrors, the choice of compound versus simple, and if compound the choice among apposition or various kinds of superposition, all these evolve independently and rapidly. We know this by looking at the sporadic - almost capricious - distribution of these various devices and systems, dotted around the animal kingdom. In brief, animals often have an eye that resembles their remoter cousins more than it resembles their closer cousins. The conclusion remains unshaken by the demonstration that the common ancestor of all these animals probably had eyes of some kind, and that the embryonic development of all eyes seems to have enough in common to be inducible by the same DNA sequence." (Dawkins R., "Climbing Mount Improbable," Penguin: London, 1996, pp.176-177) 10/7/2004 "When we speak of 'the' eye, by the way, we are not doing justice to the problem. It has been authoritatively estimated that eyes have evolved no fewer than forty times, and probably more than sixty times, independently in various parts of the animal kingdom. In some cases these eyes use radically different principles. Nine distinct principles have been recognized among the forty to sixty independently evolved eyes." (Dawkins R., "Climbing Mount Improbable," Penguin: London, 1996, p.127) 11/7/2004 "Then again, during the actual period of the Babylonian captivity there were two other major prophets, Daniel and Ezekiel. They prophesied in the earlier part of the exile. Of these Daniel specified the time when Christ was destined to come and to suffer, by giving the number of years that were to intervene. It would be a tedious business to demonstrate this by computation, and it has been done by others before us." (St. Augustine,* "The City of God," , Bettenson H., transl., Penguin: London, 1984, p.806) 12/7/2004 "Intelligent design may mean that the ultimate explanation for life is beyond scientific explanation. That assessment is premature. But even if it is true, I would not be troubled. I don't want the best scientific explanation for the origins of life; I want the correct explanation." (Behe, M.J., "Darwin Under the Microscope," The New York Times, October 29, 1996, p.A25. Access Research Network, 4 November, 1996. http://www.arn.org/docs/behe/mb_dm11496.htm. My emphasis) 14/7/2004 "There are numerous examples (I counted 35 in one chapter) in a recent book called The Probability of God by the Bishop of Birmingham, Hugh Montefiore. ... The Bishop believes in evolution, but cannot believe that natural selection is an adequate explanation for the course that evolution has taken (partly because, like many others, he sadly misunderstands natural selection to be 'random' and 'meaningless'). He makes heavy use of what may be called the Argument from Personal Incredulity. In the course of one chapter we find the following phrases, in this order: `... there seems no explanation on Darwinian grounds ... It is no easier to explain ... It is hard to understand ... It is not easy to understand ... It is equally difficult to explain ... I do not find it easy to comprehend ... I do not find it easy to see ... I find it hard to understand ... it does not seem feasible to explain ... I cannot see how ... neo- Darwinism seems inadequate to explain many of the complexities of animal behaviour ... it is not easy to comprehend how such behaviour could have evolved solely through natural selection ... It is impossible ... How could an organ so complex evolve? ... It is not easy to see ... It is difficult to see ... ." The Argument from Personal Incredulity is an extremely weak argument, as Darwin himself noted. In some cases it is based upon simple ignorance." (Dawkins R., "The Blind Watchmaker," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, pp.37-38) 14/7/2004 "Let us return to the question, how do we see? Although to Darwin the primary event of vision was a black box, through the efforts of many biochemists an answer to the question of sight is at hand. When light strikes the retina a photon is absorbed by an organic molecule called 11-cis-retinal, causing it to rearrange within picoseconds to trans-retinal. The change in shape of retinal forces a corresponding change in shape of the protein, rhodopsin, to which it is tightly bound. As a consequence of the protein's metamorphosis, the behavior of the protein changes in a very specific way. The altered protein can now interact with another protein called transducin. Before associating with rhodopsin, transducin is tightly bound to a small organic molecule called GDP, but when it binds to rhodopsin the GDP dissociates itself from transducin and a molecule called GTP, which is closely related to, but critically different from, GDP, binds to transducin. The exchange of GTP for GDP in the transducinrhodopsin complex alters its behavior. GTP-transducinrhodopsin binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When bound by rhodopsin and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the ability to chemically cleave a molecule called cGMP. Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the action of the phosphodiesterase lowers the concentration of cGMP. Activating the phosphodiesterase can be likened to pulling the plug in a bathtub, lowering the level of water. A second membrane protein which binds cGMP, called an ion channel, can be thought of as a special gateway regulating the number of sodium ions in the cell. The ion channel normally allows sodium ions to flow into the cell, while a separate protein actively pumps them out again. The dual action of the ion channel and pump proteins keeps the level of sodium ions in the cell within a narrow range. When the concentration of cGMP is reduced from its normal value through cleavage by the phosphodiesterase, many channels close, resulting in a reduced cellular concentration of positively charged sodium ions. This causes an imbalance of charges across the cell membrane which, finally, causes a current to be transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain: the result, when interpreted by the brain, is vision. If the biochemistry of vision were limited to the reactions listed above, the cell would quickly deplete its supply of 11-cis-retinal and cGMP while also becoming depleted of sodium ions. Thus a system is required to limit the signal that is generated and restore the cell to its original state; there are several mechanisms which do this. Normally, in the dark, the ion channel, in addition to sodium ions, also allows calcium ions to enter the cell; calcium is pumped back out by a different protein in order to maintain a constant intracellular calcium concentration. However, when cGMP levels fall, shutting down the ion channel and decreasing the sodium ion concentration, calcium ion concentration is also decreased. The phosphodiesterase enzyme, which destroys cGMP, is greatly slowed down at lower calcium concentration. Additionally, a protein called guanylate cyclase begins to resynthesize cGMP when calcium levels start to fall. Meanwhile, while all of this is going on, metarhodopsin II is chemically modified by an enzyme called rhodopsin kinase, which places a phosphate group on its substrate. The modified rhodopsin is then bound by a protein dubbed arrestin, which prevents the rhodopsin from further activating transducin. Thus the cell contains mechanisms to limit the amplified signal started by a single photon. Trans-retinal eventually falls off of the rhodopsin molecule and must be reconverted to 11-cis-retinal and again bound by opsin to regenerate rhodopsin for another visual cycle. To accomplish this trans-retinal is first chemically modified by an enzyme to transretinol, a form containing two more hydrogen atoms. A second enzyme then isomerizes the molecule to 11-cis-retinol. Finally, a third enzyme removes the previouslyadded hydrogen atoms to form 11-cis-retinal, and the cycle is complete. ... Although many details of the biochemistry of vision have not been cited here, the overview just seen is meant to demonstrate that, ultimately, this is what it means to 'explain' vision. This is the level of explanation that Biological science eventually must aim for. In order to say that some function is understood, every relevant step in the process must be elucidated. The relevant steps in biological processes occur ultimately at the molecular level, so a satisfactory explanation of a biological phenomenon such as sight, or digestion, or immunity, must include a molecular explanation. It is no longer sufficient, now that the black box of vision has been opened, for an 'evolutionary explanation' of that power to invoke only the anatomical structures of whole eyes, as Darwin did in the 19th century and as most popularizers of evolution continue to do today." (Behe, M.J.*, "Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference," C.S. Lewis Society, Cambridge University, Summer 1994. http://www.arn.org/docs/behe/mb_mm92496.htm) 15/7/2004 "Natural selection is demanding, exacting, relentless. It is intolerant of weakness, indifferent to suffering. It favours the hardy, the resilient, the healthy. One might expect organisms shaped by such a force to bear its stamp, to suffer in its own image - expect them to be locked in struggle, pursuing their own interests, uncaring of others. Natural selection would surely see off chivalrous self-sacrifice. Selfishness should win the day. But look carefully at nature and you will find that it doesn't always seem like that. You might well see animals that are apparently strikingly unselfish, particularly with their own species - giving warning of predators, sharing food, grooming others to remove parasites, adopting orphans, fighting without killing or even injuring their adversaries and conducting themselves in numerous other civilised ways. Indeed, in some respects they behave in e like the moral paragons of Aesop - working dutifully for the sake of tie community, noble in spirit and generous in deed - than the hard-bitten, self-seeking individualists that natural selection would seem to favour. Such behaviour poses a problem for the Darwinian view of nature. It has become known as the problem of altruism." (Cronin H., "The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection From Darwin To Today," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, reprint, p.253) 15/7/2004 "However, while Darwinism can and does encompass many elements which do not directly conduce to survival or reproduction, or do so only through the inexplicable influence of female caprice, what it cannot countenance are variations which are harmful. Every edition of The Origin of Species contains the following words, which may be taken as the fundamental axiom of the theory: `If variations which are useful to their possessors in the struggle for life do occur, can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals are born than can possibly survive), that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and reproducing their, kind? On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed.' [Darwin C., "The Origin of Species," 1872, 6th Edition, p.81]. David Stove, who quotes this passage in his article 'So You Think Youare a Darwinian?' [Philosophy, 1994, 267- 278] points out that when we think of human behaviour 'any educated person' can easily think of a hundred characteristics seriously injurious to their possessors, concerning which, as he puts it, there is not the slightest evidence that they are in process of being destroyed.' ... I will mention some widely acclaimed virtues which have little to do with Darwinian success (survival and reproduction) and which are frequently injurious to their possessors in more than the least degree Darwin argued would lead to their being rigidly destroyed: feeding the poor, tending the sick, visiting the imprisoned, modesty, chastity, honesty, promisekeeping, integrity, respect for the rights of others, self-sacrifice, honour, and this is without even mentioning the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity." (O'Hear A., "Beyond Evolution: Human Nature and the Limits of Evolutionary Explanation," Clarendon Press: Oxford UK, 1989, pp.142-143. Emphasis O'Hear) 15/7/2004 "You might think that evolutionary accounts of behavior would kick in only after there is evidence that the behavior in question is actually inherited. Evolutionary theories might then be invoked to explain how and why it came to he inherited. But what happens is a curious inversion, where stories are spun out to explain why the behavior is adaptive, even in cases where there's no independent evidence that it is genetically based. Consider another example. A few years ago, Pinker published an article in the New York Times applying evolutionary psychology to the topic of infanticide. This was shortly after the news media had reported the story of the `Prom Mom,' a teenage girl who gave birth to a baby at a school dance and dumped the newborn in the trash. Around the same time, an unmarried teen couple killed their newborn as well. The public was shocked, and so Pinker reassured them that infanticide has been practiced in most cultures throughout history Its sheer ubiquity suggests that it must have been preserved by natural selection-which in turn means it must have some adaptive function. `The emotional circuitry of mothers has evolved' to commit infanticide in situations where it is advantageous, Pinker wrote. `A capacity for neonaticide is built into the biological design of our parental emotions.' [Pinker S., `Why They Kill Their Newborns,' New York Times, November 2, 1997] There are several problems with this scenario, beginning with the fact that there is no evidence that neonaticide is a genetic trait to begin with, let alone one selected by evolution. `Where are the twin studies, chromosome locations, and DNA sequences supporting such a claim?' Orr demands. `The answer is we don't have any. What we do have is a story-there's an undeniable Darwinian logic underlying the murder of newborns in certain circumstances.' It is this `Darwinian logic' that drives the theory, Orr says, not any set of facts: `And so the inversion occurs: the evolutionary story rings true; but evolution requires genes; therefore, it's genetic. This move is so easy and so seductive that evolutionary psychologists sometimes forget a hard truth: a Darwinian story is not Mendelian evidence. A Darwinian story is a story.' [Orr H.A., `Darwinian Storytelling.' Review of `The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature,' by Steven Pinker, Viking, 2002. New York Review of Books, Vol. 50, No. 3, February 27, 2003]. ... Yet evolutionary psychology proves to be so elastic that it can explain just about anything, On one hand, evolution is said to account for mothers who kill their newborn babies. But, of course, If you were to ask why most mothers do not kill their babies, why, evolution accounts for that too. A theory that explains any phenomenon and Its opposite, too, in reality explains nothing. It is so flexible that it can be twisted to say whatever proponents want it to say." (Pearcey N.R.*, "Darwin Meets the Berenstain Bears," in Dembski W.A., ed., "Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing," ISI Books: Wilmington DE, 2004, pp.57-58. Emphasis in original) 16/7/2004 "If this is the case, a single gene mutation cannot generate a structure of new complexity. But according to neo- Darwinism, genes are distributed within the population. To produce a significantly new structure 3 or 10, or more generally 30-40 genes closely cooperating would have to be brought together in the same individual. To design a new style of dress for women, the designer would have to bring together the suppliers of fabrics with their various colours, suppliers of lace, suppliers of ribbons, etc. Working as a team, the final design would emerge. So it would be with the group of newly modified genes, which together, working in harmony would generate the new complexity. The rate of mutation is 1 in million, out of these non harmful mutations are 1 in 1000. For 2 such to occur would be 1 in 10^3 x 10^3. For 5 to occur 1 in 1000 million million (1 in 10^15)." (Ambrose E.J., "The Mirror of Creation," Theology and Science at the Frontiers of Knowledge, Number 11, Scottish Academic Press: Edinburgh UK, 1990, p.167) 17/7/2004 "A second category might be labeled errors of judgment: political miscalculations really. The savvy Darwin made few mistakes in this mode, but he slipped occasionally by giving free rein to fatuous speculations in a treatise that gained its power by sinking a weighty anchor in sober fact and avoiding the fanciful conjectures of previous writing about evolution. In a passage that he would later rue, and that gave aid, comfort, rhetorical advantage, and belly laughter to the enemy, Darwin wrote: `In North America the black bear was seen by Hearne swimming for hours with widely open mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water.... If the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, 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, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale (Later editions of the Origin kept the first factual sentence and expunged all the rest.) A statement like this need not be false (indeed, as a speculation, we cannot tell); the important thing, as Machiavelli would have said, is to avoid the appearance of silliness." (Gould S.J., "Full of Hot Air," in "Eight Little Piggies", Jonathan Cape: London, 1993, pp.110-111) 18/7/2004 "For other examples of the sudden fossil appearance of taxa, we cannot even reasonably begin to entertain the hypothesis of a long, unrecorded interval of diversification. One of these is the appearance of most orders of Cenozoic mammals early in that era .... Nearly all of the higher mammalian taxa of the Paleocene and Early Eocene evolved from a small number of primitive representatives of the latest Cretaceous .... Among the new mammalian taxa of the early Cenozoic were the order of bats (Chiroptera) and the order of whales (cetacea); the divergent nature of both of these orders underscores the point that rates of large-scale evolution were very rapid." (Stanley S.M., "Macroevolution: Pattern and Process," The Johns Hopkins University Press, , Baltimore, MD, 1998, p.69) 19/7/2004 "The fact that the bone structures of certain large land-dwelling mammals, the mesonychids, ancient freshwaterdrinking whales, ancient saltwater-drinking whales, and modern whales exhibit an apparent progression persuades them that modern whales naturally evolved from land-dwelling mammals. Evolutionists often cite this progression as their best demonstration of Darwinian evolution. Ironically, the evolutionists' "best example" in reality is their worst. No animal is a less efficient evolver than the whales. No animal has a higher probability for extinction than the whales. Many factors severely limit their capacity for natural-process changes and greatly enhance their probability for rapid extinction. The six most significant are: 1. relatively small population levels 2. long generation spans (the time between birth and the ability to give birth) 3. low numbers of progeny produced per adult 4. high complexity of morphology and biochemistry 5. enormous sizes 6. specialized food supplies These factors limit not only whales' capacity to change through natural selection and mutations but even their ability to adapt to change." (Ross H.N.*, "The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis," NavPress: Colorado Springs CO, 1998, pp.51-52) 19/7/2004 "Another classic illusion is when evolutionists claim that evolution predicts that fossil mammals will not be found in Paleozoic rocks. Evolutionists commonly use that argument to show that evolution is scientific. `Our creationist detractors charge that evolution is an unproved and unprovable bit of secular religion masquerading as science. They claim, above all, that evolution generates no predictions, never exposes itself to test, and therefore stands as dogma rather than disprovable science. This is nonsense. We make and test risky predictions all the time; our success is not dogma, but a highly probable indication that evolution is true. As in any historical science, most predictions are about an unknown past (technically called postdictions in the jargon) For example, every time I collect fossils in Paleozoic rocks (225 to 550 million years old), I predict that I will not find fossil mammals-for mammals evolved in the subsequent Triassic period. ... If I start finding fossil mammals, particularly late-evolving creatures, such as cows, cats, elephants, and humans, in Paleozoic strata, our evolutionary goose is cooked.' [Gould S.J., "Magnolias from Moscow," Natural History, September 1992, p.18] First, evolution does not predict mammals ever. Most evolutionists (especially Gould) emphasize that evolutionary theory never predicted any particular organisms. Mammals happen to be here, and evolutionists merely accommodate that fact. ... Quite simply, Gould is using circular reasoning. Mammals are not found earlier than the Triassic, so Gould conveniently claims they will not be found earlier-and he creates the illusion that evolution predicts this. It is merely a claim of evolutionists, not a prediction of evolutionary theory. ... Since there is no clear-cut phylogeny (as tacitly acknowledged by Gould in his theory of punctuated equilibria), any sequence is acceptable to evolutionary theory. ... evolutionary theory is plastic and can accommodate dramatic changes in our knowledge of the fossil sequence. For example, Eldredge (1982, p 65-66) uses Peripatus, (a lobe-legged, wormlike creature that lives in rotting logs in the Southern Hemisphere) as an intermediate between two of the major phyla on earth today-the segmented worms and the arthropods. Evolutionists felt it was so clear that they traditionally used it as evidence for evolution. They used it as evidence where they desperately needed it-as an intermediate form between higher levels of the Linnaean hierarchy. Nonetheless, new fossils from the Cambrian era have now forced evolutionists to change their position. Gould (1992c) removes Peripatus from its status as an intermediate. He argues that Peripatus (and its group, the Onychophora) represents, not an intermediate, but a separate unique group whose closest relatives appeared far earlier, in the Cambrian explosion. Thus evolutionists have dramatically altered their conceptions of ancestry to accommodate new evidence from fossil sequence. This happens often, without anyone even raising an eyebrow. It happens because there is no clear-cut phylogeny, so evolutionary theory can accommodate any new discoveries about fossil sequence. ... contrary to Gould, if mammals were found in Paleozoic strata it would not falsify evolution. It would be astounding ... at least for a while. It would make headlines. But it would not refute evolution. Instead, ... it would open the door to different (and easier) evolutionary stories. Evolutionists would merely change their story." (ReMine W.J.*, "The Biotic Message: Evolution Versus Message Theory," St. Paul Science: Saint Paul MN, 1993, pp.417-418. Emphasis in original) 20/7/2004 "No serious biologist today doubts the fact of evolution ... In this book we are not concerned with enumerating so-called proofs of evolution. The fact of evolution is demonstrated on every side in all fields of biology and indeed forms the basic unifying principle in the study of living systems. We do not need a listing of evidences to demonstrate the fact of evolution any more than we need to demonstrate the existence of mountain ranges." (Savage J.M., "Evolution," Modern Biology Series, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963, p.v) 21/7/2004 "Devastating as the denial of teleology was for many of Darwin's contemporaries such as Sedgwick and von Baer, the denial of design was even more sweeping. To explain all the beautiful adaptations of organisms, their adjustment to each other, their well-organized interdependence, and indeed the whole harmony of nature, as the result of such a capricious process as natural selection, was quite unacceptable to almost all of Darwin's contemporaries." (Mayr E., "Darwin, intellectual revolutionary," in Bendall D.S., ed., "Evolution From Molecules to Men," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1985, reprint, p.36) 22/7/2004 "The case for Darwinism cannot be based on any edification that is supposed to come from its truths. Through eugenics, Darwinism was a bad influence on Nazism, one of the greatest killers in world history. Darwinism probably contributed to the upsurge of racism in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and thus it helped foment twentieth-century racism generally. Darwinism was also used to exacerbate the neglect of the poor in the nineteenth century. All things considered, Darwinism has had many regrettable, and sometimes actually vicious, effects on the social climate of the modern world. Modern Darwinism does not offer any guarantee of unending progress. It is understandable that so many hate Darwin and Darwinism. It is often a bitter burden to live with Darwinism and its implications. Unlike so many doctrines, religions, and ideologies, it certainly isn't intellectual opium. No one can make a case for Darwinism based on moral hygiene." (Rose M.R., "Darwin's Spectre: Evolutionary Biology in the Modern World," , Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 2000, Third printing, p.210) 22/7/2004 "The American eugenics movement was a crusade to improve humanity via science and was based on the work of Francis Galton, a renowned geneticist who was a cousin of Charles Darwin. ... During the 1920s, American eugenicists became more active in the movement to restrict immigration, as they provided a scientific rationale for an emotional issue, culminating in the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924. Many leading eugenicists were brilliant publicists, using such gimmicks as sermon contests and `fitter families' contests to generate attention and funding. ... It was only a short step from being a devout eugenicist to endorsing the philosophy behind Nazi racial politics." (Caudill E., "Darwinian Myths: The Legends and Misuses of a Theory," The University of Tennessee Press: Knoxville TN, 1997, pp.62-63) 22/7/2004 "... that strange bird, the Archeopteryx, with a long lizard-like tail, bearing a pair of feathers on each joint, and with its wings furnished with two free claws, has been discovered in the oolitic slates of Solenhofen. Hardly any recent discovery shows more forcibly than this, how little we as yet know of the former inhabitants of the world." (Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," , Everyman's Library, J.M. Dent & Sons: London, 6th Edition, 1928, reprint, pp.312-313) 22/7/2004 "Even the wide interval between birds and reptiles has been shown by the naturalist just quoted [T.H. Huxley] to be partially bridged over in the most unexpected manner, on the one hand, by the ostrich and extinct Archeopteryx, and on the other hand, by the Compsognathus, one of the Dinosaurians-that group which includes the most gigantic of all terrestrial reptiles." (Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," , Everyman's Library, J.M. Dent & Sons: London, 6th Edition, 1928, reprint, pp.331-332) 22/7/2004 "The miniature motor that drives our cells has been caught in the act. Researchers in Japan have taken stunning new pictures of the cell's power source at work.[Yasuda R., et al., `Resolution of distinct rotational substeps by submillisecond kinetic analysis of F1-ATPase,' Nature, Vol. 410, 19 April 2001, pp.898-904] Animals, plants and bacteria rely on the enzyme ATP synthase to convert food or light into ATP, the energy currency of the cell. ATP synthase is shaped like a lollipop; its 'stick' turns like a crankshaft, driving the 'lolly' to release ATP molecules with each turn. Spinning at several thousands revolutions per minute, the detailed internal workings of the tiny motor are tough to decipher. Kazuhiko Kinosita and colleagues at Tiekyo University Biotechnology Research Center in Kawasaki have used high-speed imaging to snap freeze-frames of the spinning shaft. Their images reveal the jerky turning of the wheel, which ratchets round 30° , 90° or 120° at a time. They also show how the motor sticks to and releases ATP as it spins. `It's in exquisite detail,' says Mark Schnitzer, a biophysicist at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. `Looking at a molecule on a millisecond timescale is a very difficult thing to do.' The group achieved the feat by attaching a gold bead to the driveshaft that was big enough to be seen under a microscope but small enough not to slow the motor down. Understanding how ATP synthase works could also help those trying to build microscopic machines from biological components, suggests Richard Cross, who studies the enzyme at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. `We couldn't ever build a motor that small - but nature has,' he says. The lollipop structure of ATP synthase was first seen under the electron microscope in the 1960s, before anyone even knew what it was. The idea that the enzyme might turn like a motor was proposed some years later. `Initially, people thought the rotary mechanism was a crazy idea,' says John Walker of the MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit in Cambridge. His deduction of part of the enzyme's structure backed up the theory - and finally won him a share of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The sceptics were silenced by earlier work from Kinosita's group, which showed the ATP motor turning for the first time. `It had major impact - seeing is believing,' says Walker. `It turned the field on its head,' agrees Rod Capaldi of the University of Oregon in Eugene. `To see it physically going was amazing." (Pearson H., "Japanese take revolutionary snapshots," Nature Science Updates, 19 April 2001. http://www.nature.com/nsu/010419/010419- 3.html) 22/7/2004 "There are, of course, difficulties in the theory of evolution. You raised a selection of the most serious ones. I agree with you that some processes, such as the evolution of the mammalian ear bones, probably occurred by sudden leaps. In most cases, for example those of hanging nests and aquatic spiders, we can find intermediates. It is never, however, necessary to postulate a leap which would imply prevision by a designer. That is why one finds no example of various mechanisms, such as the wheel and magnet, which would be useless till fairly perfect." (Haldane J.B.S., "Haldane to Dewar," in "Is Evolution A Myth?," C.A. Watts & Co. Ltd/The Paternoster Press: London, 1949, p.90) 22/7/2004 "Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view. Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker, impress us with the illusion of design and planning." (Dawkins R., "The Blind Watchmaker," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.21) 23/7/2004 "Nicolas Copernicus shattered the prevailing notion that Earth was seated at the center of creation. Succeeding generations of astronomers steadily reinforced the Copernican view as they discovered the true nature of stars, the remote location of our home world within our Galaxy, and the existence of galaxies far, far beyond our own. So pervasive is this view that in the world of modern science, it is almost considered heresy to assert any special qualities to our solar system, our planet, or even ourselves. With an estimated 200 billion stars in the Galaxy and interstellar space filled with the molecules necessary for life, many scientists and laymen naturally conclude that we could not be alone-we must share our Galaxy with hundreds, thousands, or perhaps millions of other civilizations. But on closer examination, this simple logic falls apart. Recent studies in a variety of scientific fields suggest that life must pass through a series of bottlenecks on the road to intelligence. On Earth, a long sequence of improbable events transpired in just the right way to bring forth our existence, as if we had won a million-dollar lottery a million times in a row. Contrary to the prevailing belief, maybe we are special. Maybe humanity stands alone on a fertile island in the largely sterile waters of the galactic ocean." (Naeye R., "OK, Where Are They?," Astronomy, July 1996, Vol. 24, No. 7, pp.36-43, p.38) 24/7/2004 "The Earth is the odd planet because nearly all of its carbon dioxide has been removed from the atmosphere and deposited as carbonate minerals or organic carbon in sedimentary rocks. If all of this carbon were in the atmosphere, the ratios of carbon to nitrogen would be similar in the atmospheres of all three planets. Why has the Earth's carbon dioxide been almost completely extracted from the atmosphere? Probably because the Earth has abundant water, which has made possible the weathering reactions that extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the development of a biosphere which leads to the burial of organic carbon in sediments. The atmospheres of Mars and Venus are both very dry. As far as we know, the Earth, Mars, and Venus were assembled out of more or less the same material with more or less the same complements of water and other volatile compounds. Why, then, are these atmospheres so dry? Probably because Mars is too cold, Venus is too hot, and the Earth is just right. That's the Goldilocks problem. Mars is farther from the Sun than is the Earth, and it has a thin atmosphere with a surface pressure 1/160 that of the Earth. Because temperatures on the surface never rise as high as 0°C, most of Mars' water is presumed to be preserved in permanent deposits of subsurface ice; much of Mars' carbon may also be locked in solid form as dry ice. The thin atmosphere is apparently a consequence of the low temperature. Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth is and has a massive atmosphere with a surface pressure 70 times larger than ours. Because of the greenhouse effect of this massive atmosphere, the surface temperature is a searing 480°C, well above the boiling point of water. Perhaps Venus has always been too hot for water to condense. Instead, water in the upper atmosphere seems to have been broken apart into hydrogen and oxygen by ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. The light atoms of hydrogen could have escaped into space, while the heavier oxygen could have reacted with rocks to become incorporated into the rocks of the solid planet. From the study of planetary atmospheres, we have learned that a habitable planet like ours is an improbable object. Small differences in planetary origins led to widely divergent evolutionary paths. A planet a little too close to the Sun becomes hot and dry like Venus; a planet a little too far away grows cold and dry like Mars. Too large a planet captures a massive atmosphere like those of Jupiter and Saturn; too small a planet ends up with no atmosphere at all, like Mercury and the Moon. The requirements for habitability are stringent indeed." (Skinner B.J. & Porter S.C., The Dynamic Earth: An Introduction to Physical Geology," , Wiley: New York, Third Edition, 1995, pp.521-522) 24/7/2004 "The critical question is why, on Earth, the volume of water was sufficiently large to buffer global temperatures, but small enough so that shallow seas could be formed by the uplifting of continents. If Earth's ocean volume had been greater, even the formation of continents would not have produced shallow seas. To show that there can be great relative volumes of oceans planet, we need only look at Jupiter's moon Europa, where the planetcovering ocean (now frozen) is 100 kilometers thick. No Mt. Everest rising from the sea floor would ever poke through an ocean even half that deep. There would be none of the shallows necessary for limestone formation and no continental weathering. What about the situation where the oceans are lower in volume than they were on Earth? If the continents covered two-thirds of Earth's surface (rather than their present day one-third), would we have animal life? The great mass extinction of the late Permian almost ended animal life because of high temperatures. With greater continental area, we might expect temperature swings to have been even greater, and the prospects for continued existence of at land animals far lower, because large land areas create very high and very low seasonal temperatures. Large land areas also reduce CO2 drawdown, because carbonate formation takes place almost exclusively in oceans. On land dominated worlds, opportunities for life to thrive would thus be reduced. It appears that Earth got it just right. Without continents there seems a strong likelihood that a planet will become too hot (especially because main-sequence stars such as the sun increase their energy output through time, and planets cannot move away from this increasing heat source). With too much continental area, the opposite is likely to happen, as continental weathering draws down carbon dioxide so much that glaciations ensue. Earth may have been headed down the path toward a global mean temperature so high as to boil away its oceans, or perhaps still cool enough to retain its oceans but yet too warm for complex metazoans to evolve. Animals are not thermophiles." (Ward P.D. & Brownlee D., "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe," Copernicus: New York NY, 2000, pp.264-265. Emphasis in original) 24/7/2004 "What is still entirely uncertain is how often this has happened where it has happened, and how much evolution might have occurred subsequent to the origin of such life. We who live on the earth do not fully appreciate what an inhospitable place most planets must be. To be able to support life they must be just the right distance from their sun, have the right temperature, a sufficient amount of water, a sufficient density to be able to hold an atmosphere, a protection against damaging ultraviolet radiation, and so forth. Furthermore, every planet changes in the course of its history, and the sequence of changes has to be just right. If, for instance, there were too much free oxygen at an early stage, it would destroy life. The total set of prerequisites for the origin and maintenance of life drastically reduces the number of planets that would have been suitable for the origin of life. There is, indeed, the possibility that the combination and sequence of conditions that permitted the origin of life on earth was not duplicated on a single other planet in the universe." (Mayr E., "Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist," Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1988, p.68 24/7/2004 "From the biological view, the differences between humans and other animals are quantitative. The difficulty is not that we possess physical characteristics lacking in, or radically different from, other animals, but that we possess the same attributes to a greater or lesser degree. To mention only a few: we are larger than most animals, but have less hair; our brain is not the largest in relative or absolute size, but it is very large according to the standards of both these categories. We are not the only animal that is bipedal (birds are, too), but we are the only primates who are so structured-we have a skeleton adapted for standing upright and walking, which leaves the hands free for purposes other than locomotion. All these traits, elaborated and coordinated under the control of a brain capable of abstract thought, give us our remarkable physical uniqueness." (Nelson H. & Jurmain R., "Introduction to Physical Anthropology," West Publishing Co: St. Paul MN, Fifth Edition, 1991, p.11) 24/7/2004 "... there is a general tendency in all primates for erect body posture and some bipedalism. However, of all living primates, efficient bipedalism as the primary form of locomotion is seen only in hominids. Functionally, the human mode of locomotion is most clearly shown in our striding gait, where weight is alternately placed on a single fully extended hindlimb. This specialized form of locomotion has developed to a point where energy levels are used to near peak efficiency. Such is not the case in nonhuman primates, who move bipedally with hips and knees bent and maintain balance in a clumsy and inefficient manner." (Nelson H. & Jurmain R., "Introduction to Physical Anthropology," West Publishing Co.: St. Paul MN, Fifth Edition, 1991, p.428) 24/7/2004 "The bipedal stride is unique in the animal kingdom. It freed the hands and gave the man-apes the potential for carrying weapons and tools." (Wilson E.O., et al., "Life on Earth," Sinauer Associates: Sunderland MA, 1973, pp.972-973) 25/7/2004 "Quadrupedalism characterises the overwhelming majority of ground dwelling mammalian species. It affords stable equilibrium, is efficient in energy terms, lends itself readily to speed, and is easily learned by the young, often within hours of birth. It allows for emergencies: a quadruped with one injured leg walks on the other three while it heals. The gently arched and cantilevered spinal column has been perfected over millions of years to combine maximum strength with flexibility. No animal could afford to sacrifice all these assets without an overridingly powerful selective pressure. The cost of habitual plantigrade bipedalism is high. It is the most unstable method of mammalian progress known to zoology. Growing bipeds only perfect the art after years of practice and innumerable tumbles. Even in their prime, damage to one leg can cripple them; once past it, equilibrium again becomes a problem. The bipedal posture, with viscera and male sex organs exposed to attack, is ill designed for confronting an enemy or predator." (Morgan E., "Why a New Theory is Needed," in Roede M., Wind J., Patrick J.M. & Reynolds V., eds, "The Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction?: The First Scientific Evaluation of a Controversial Theory of Human Evolution," Souvenir Press: London, 1991, pp.9-10) 25/7/2004 "The claim is often made that bipedalism was adaptive because it 'freed the hands'. But an ape's or monkey's hands are perfectly free except when it is moving from one place to another; human beings, likewise, normally engage in skilled manual operations only while sitting or standing, and very rarely while actually walking or running. It could as well be argued that bipedalism reduced our potential for dexterity, since the so-called freeing of the hands was accompanied pro rata by the `enslavement of the feet' (Richards, 1986). This, in the long run, has halved our allowance of serviceable manipulative digits. It was long argued that the hominid first evolved a big brain and the ability to fashion tools and weapons, and that bipedalism became necessary to enable him to carry a weapon to hurl at his quarry. All theories along these lines had to be abandoned after the discovery of the Afar hominids such as Lucy-small-brained creatures, clearly bipedal, with no evidence of tools or weapons. Three separate lines of argument have emerged in an attempt to replace the weapon-carrying hypothesis. Carrier (1984) has argued that man's physiology may be evidence of strong selective pressure in favour of endurance running. He has established that, over long distances, bipedal running is an advantage to a human hunter because his four-footed quarry becomes exhausted sooner than he does. This may well have been a fortunate consequence of bipedalism, but it is very unlikely to have been the cause, firstly because the fossil discoveries suggest that bipedal walking was well established before there was any evidence of hunting, and secondly because animals capable of covering short distances bipedally (for example, apes, bears, vervets, beavers) invariably revert to quadrupedalism when speed is required. To justify the contention that game-hunting led to bipedalism, it is not enough to demonstrate that modern Homo sapiens runs more effectively on two legs: it is necessary to demonstrate than an unadapted pre-Australopithecine anthropoid could have run more effectively on two legs than on four. Experiments with primates (Taylor and Rowntree, 1973) suggest that bipedalism is slower and consumes more energy." (Morgan E., "Why a New Theory is Needed," in Roede M., Wind J., Patrick J.M. & Reynolds V., eds, "The Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction?: The First Scientific Evaluation of a Controversial Theory of Human Evolution," Souvenir Press: London, 1991, pp.10-11) 26/7/2004 "...the Reverend Robert Evans ... is a kindly and now semi-retired minister in the Uniting Church in Australia, who does a bit of locum work and researches the history of nineteenth-century religious movements. But by night he is, in his unassuming way, a titan of the skies. He hunts supernovae. A supernova occurs when a giant star, one much bigger than our own Sun, collapses and then spectacularly explodes, releasing in an instant the energy of a hundred billion suns, burning for a time more brightly than all the stars in its galaxy. ... But the universe is vast and supernovae are normally ... so unimaginably distant that their light reaches us as no more than the faintest twinkle. For the month or so that they are visible, all that distinguishes them from the other a stars in the sky is that they occupy a point of space that wasn't filled before. It is these anomalous, very occasional pricks in the crowded dome of the night sky that the Reverend Evans finds. To understand what a feat this is, imagine a standard dining-room table covered in a black tablecloth and throwing a handful of salt across it. The scattered grains can be thought of as a galaxy. Now imagine fifteen hundred more tables like the first one - enough to make a single line two miles long - each with a random array of salt across it. Now add one grain of salt to any table and let Bob Evans walk among them. At a glance he will spot it. That grain of salt is the supernova. Evans's is a talent so exceptional that Oliver Sacks, in An Anthropologist on Mars, devotes a passage to him in a chapter on autistic savants - quickly adding that 'there is no suggestion that he is autistic.' Evans, who has not met Sacks, laughs at the suggestion that he might be either autistic or a savant, but he is powerless to explain quite where his talent comes from." (Bryson B., "A Short History of Nearly Everything," Doubleday: London, 2003, pp.27-28) 30/7/2004 "Not only had Copernicus concluded by mathematics that the Sun must be at the center of the celestial movements, he also believed that God had designed it that way. The Sun in fact was `enthroned' in its divine glory, according to Copernicus, a pre-Renaissance Catholic mystic and alchemist; it was the physical center for `the movements of the world machine, created for our sake by the best and most systematic Artisan of all.' A few centuries later, however, science's rejection of a universe existing `for our sake' would be called `the Copernican Principle,' since he had begun the displacement of humanity from the physical center. The Copernican Principle would become a central and powerful belief of science as further discoveries of human non-centrality mounted. After the American astronomer Harlow Shapley showed in 1918 that the solar system was not at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, he became the evangelist for the philosophical implications of the human displacement. `The solar system is off center and consequently man is too,' Shapley said. `Man is not such a big chicken. He is incidental.' The astounding facts kept pouring in. Beyond the Milky Way there were other `island universes,' great spiral galaxies just as beautiful as the Milky Way. Because the galaxies are made out of the same chemical elements as the planet Earth, `Copernican modesty has been pushed a stage further,' said Astronomer Royal Martin Rees. `Even particle chauvinism has to go.' With similar chagrin over human arrogance the search for extraterrestrial intelligence began in 1959. ... Finally, as the contemporary hypothesis that the universe may be mostly `dark matter' takes humans down yet another notch, the theory of multiple universes represents `the ultimate Copernican idea,' says cosmologist James Gunn: `Not only are we of no conceivable consequence, but even our universe is of no conceivable consequence.' For religious reasons, this trend in thinking would have troubled even Nicolaus Copernicus. And thus it was ironic that many in science used the Copernican Principle to chasten the hubris and arrogance of religion ... The medieval mind clearly viewed humanity as theologically central, but physically lowly. Even today, physical centrality is not essential to conservative Bible belief, says Bible scholar Robert Newman, who has a doctorate in astrophysics from Cornell University ... Under the influence of astronomers such as Shapley, and the preference in science to see the cosmos as everywhere homogeneous, the Copernican Principle was eventually extrapolated into the Principle of Mediocrity. While mediocre could mean average, in the sense that nothing is special in a homogeneous universe, it has also come to have a moralistic ring when used by scientists: thou shalt not make theological claims of human centrality. THE COPERNICAN YEAR, WHICH MARKED a half-millennium since Copernicus was born, was filled with celebrations, scholarly conferences and dreams of the future. But a quiet revolt was instigated at Symposium No. 63, which was convened by the International Astronomical Union in Cracow under the title `Confrontations of Cosmological Theories with Observational Data.' Symposium No. 63 produced perhaps the only talk in the entire global Copernican celebration that seemed to have any staying power. Given by the Cambridge astrophysicist Brandon Carter, it was designed to rock the scientific boat. The youthful Carter spoke on `Large Number Coincidences and the Anthropic Principle in Cosmology.' He was obviously eager to debunk a bit of tired conventional wisdom in the field of cosmology, namely the Copernican Principle. Ever since, the modest alternative concept of the `anthropic principle' has kept astronomical tongues, and even those of laypeople, wagging. Carter asked why the unique observational role of humans could not again be taken seriously by science. He remonstrated against an `exaggerated subservience to the 'Copernican principle.'' And he called the scientific version of the Principle of Mediocrity `a most questionable dogma.' But his punch line about the human location in the scheme of things was what galvanized his audience. `What we can expect to observe must be restricted by the conditions necessary for our presence as observers,' Carter said. Thus, `although our situation is not necessarily central, it is inevitably privileged." (Witham L., "By Design: Science and the Search for God," Encounter Books: San Francisco CA, 2003, pp.39-41. Emphasis original) 31/7/2004 "But, since there was no decree at all in favor of the Jews before Cyrus B.C. 536, it might be startling enough to one who does not yet believe in prophecy, that, even from Cyrus, the 490 years come within forty-six years of our Lord's Birth; and that, although there were four different edicts, from which the 490 years might begin, these too admit of no vague coincidence. They do but yield four definite dates. There is a distance of 90 years, from the 1st of Cyrus to the 20th of Artaxerxes Longimanus, but the dates within those 90 years, from which the prophecy could seem to be fulfilled, are only four. Those dates are, 1) The first year of Cyrus, B.C. 536; 2) The third year of Darius Hystaspes, B.C. 518, when he removed the hindrances to the rebuilding of the temple, interposed by Pseudo-Smerdis; 3) The commission to Ezra in the 7th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, B.C. 457; 4) That of Nehemiah, in the 20th year of the same Artaxerxes, B.C. 444. These would give, at the close of the 490 years, respectively, the end of 46, B.C. 28, B.C. 83, A.D. 467 A.D. But, further, of these four, two only are principal and leading decrees; that of Cyrus, and that in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus. For that of the 20th year of Artaxerxes is but an enlargement and renewal of his first decree; as the decree of Darius confirmed that of Cyrus. The decrees of Cyrus and Darius relate to the rebuilding of the temple; those of Artaxerxes to the condition of Judah and Jerusalem. But the decree of Darius was no characteristic decree. It did but support them in doing, what they were already doing without it. The decree of Artaxerxes was of a different character. The temple was now built. So the decree contains no grant for its building, like those of Cyrus [Ezr 6:3-5] and Darius [Ezr 6:3-12]. Ezra thanks God that "He had put it into the king's heart, to beautify (not, to build) the house of the Lord in Jerusalem." [Ezr 7:27] On the other hand, the special commission of Ezra, was to `enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God, which is in thy heart, and to set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river.' [Ezr 7:14,25] These magistrates had power of life and death, banishment, confiscation, imprisonment, conferred upon them' [Ezr 7:26]. It looks as if the people were in a state of disorganization. Ezra had full powers to settle it according to the law of his God, having absolute authority in ecclesiastical and civil matters. The little colony which he took with him, of 1683 males (with women and children, some 8400 souls) was itself a considerable addition to those who had before returned, and involved a rebuilding of Jerusalem. This rebuilding of the city, and reorganization of the polity, begun by Ezra and carried on and perfected by Nehemiah, corresponds with the words in Daniel, `From the going forth of a commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.' [Dn 9:25]." (Pusey, E.B.*, "Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford. With Copious Notes." Funk & Wagnalls: New York NY, 1885, pp.186-189. Emphasis original). August [top] 1/8/2004 "The term also corresponds. Unto Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks [v.25], i. e. the first 483 years of the period, the last 7 being parted off. But 483 years from the beginning of B.C. 457 were completed at the beginning of 27 A.D. which (since the Nativity was 4 years earlier than our era) would coincide with His Baptism, `being about 30 years of age,' when the descent of the Holy Ghost upon Him manifested Him to be the Anointed with the Holy Ghost, the Christ." (Pusey, E.B.*, "Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford. With Copious Notes." Funk & Wagnalls: New York NY, 1885, p.189) 2/8/2004 "Further still, the whole period of 70 weeks is divided into three successive periods, 7, 62, 1, and the last week's subdivided into two halves. It is self-evident that, since these parts 7, 62, 1, are equal to the whole, - viz. 70, it was intended that they should be. Every writer wishes to be understood; the vision is announced at the beginning, as one which is, on thought, to be understood. `I am come to give thee skill and understanding; therefore understand the matter and consider the vision.' [v.22] Yet, on this self-evident fact that the sum of the parts is intended to be the same as the whole, every attempt to explain the prophecy, so that it should end in Antiochus Epiphanes, or in any other than our Lord, (as we shall see,) shivers. On the other hand, the subordinate periods, as well as the whole, fit in with the Christian interpretation. It were not of any account, if we could no interpret these minor details. `De minimis non curat lex.' When the whole distance is spanned over, it matters not, whether we can make out some lesser details." (Pusey, E.B.*, "Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford. With Copious Notes." Funk & Wagnalls: New York NY, 1885, pp.189-190) 2/8/2004 "But, in the prophecy of the 70 weeks, the portions also can be traced. The words are; From the going forth of a commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks; street and wall' shall be restored and builded; and in strait of times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off. [vv.25-26] Obviously, unless there had been a meaning in this division, it would have stood, ` shall be threescore and nine weeks,' `not, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks.' For every word in this condensed prophecy has its place and meaning, and the division would be unmeaning, unless something were assigned to this first portion. The text does assign it. It says, the street shall be restored and be builded; and that, in troublous times. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah give the explanation. Ezra came to Jerusalem, B.C. 457; he labored in restoring the Jewish polity, within and without, for 13 years before Nehemiah was sent by Artaxerxes, B.C. 444. [Neh 2:1ff] Nehemiah, as governor, labored together with Ezra for 12 years, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years. [Neh 5:14] Then be returned to the king, and after an undefined time, at the end of days, he says, obtained I leave of the king, and came to Jerusalem. [Neh 13:6] The interval probably was not short; for there had been time for corruptions to creep in, nor is the king likely to have sent him back soon; else why should he have returned at all? The mention of Eliashib's son, Joiada, being high priest then, in place of his deceased father [Neh 13:28; 12:10,22], fixes this second visit probably in the reign of Darius Nothus, in whose 11th year Eliashib is said to have died. [Neh 13:6] The expulsion of one of his sons who had become son-in-law to Sanballat, and regulation of the wards of the priests and Levites, are among the last acts of reform which Nehemiah mentions in his second visit; with them he closes his book. Now from the seventh year of Artaxerxes to the eleventh of Darius Nothus are 45 years. But it was in the period of the high priesthood of Joiada, not precisely in the very first year, that this reform took place. We have any how for the period of the two great restorers of the Jewish polity, Ezra and Nehemiah conjointly, a time somewhat exceeding 45 years; so that we know that the restoration was completed in the latter part of the 7th week of years, and it is probable that it was not closed until the end of it. In regard to the strait of times, amid which this restoration was to take place, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are the commentary. Up to the completion of the walls, there was one succession of vexations on the part of the enemies of the Jews." (Pusey, E.B.*, "Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford. With Copious Notes." Funk & Wagnalls: New York NY, 1885, pp.190-191) 2/8/2004 "Lucretius's great Epicurean poem, with its extended evolutionary passage, ensured that evolution would be in the air from the 1500s forward. Whether or not Darwin himself ever read Lucretius-he developed a dislike of the classics from having Greek and Latin drubbed into him as a youth-many others had, and the idea could not help but circulate widely. 1 quote it again, to drill into the reader how thorough this amazing passage from Lucretius. `Many were the portents also that the earth then tried to make, springing up with wondrous appearance and frame: the hermaphrodite, between man and woman vet neither, different from both; some without feet, others again bereft of hands: some found dumb also without a month, some blind without eyes, some bound fast with all their limbs adhering to their bodies, so that they could do nothing and go nowhere, could neither avoid mischief nor take what they might need. So with the rest of like monsters and portents that she made, it was all in vain; since nature banned their growth, and they could not attain the desired flower of age nor find food nor join by the ways of Venus. For we see that living beings need many things in conjunction, so that they may be able by procreation to forge out the chain of the generations. ... And many species of animals must have perished at that time, unable by procreation to forge out the chain of posterity: for whatever you see feeding on the breath of life, either cunning or courage or at least quickness must have guarded and kept that kind from its earliest existence; many again still exist, entrusted to our protection, which remain, commended to us because of their usefulness. ... But, those to which nature gives no such qualities, so that they could neither live by themselves at their own will, nor give us some usefulness for which we might suffer them to feed under our protection and be safe, these certainly lay at the mercy of others for prey and profit, being all hampered by their own fateful chains, until nature brought that race to destruction. [Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, Loeb Classical Library," Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1975, 5.837.77]. We see in this passage all the fundamentals of Darwin' s account: (1) random material variations that bring about modifications in the structure between generations; (2) the survival of the fittest of these variations as determined by the enhanced abilities of the animals, and by the conditions in which the animals live; and (3) the necessity of passing along the beneficial variations by heredity." (Wiker B.D.*, "Moral Darwinism: How We Became Hedonists," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2002, pp.219-220) 2/8/2004 "I suppose that everyone is familiar in outline with the theory of the origin of species which Darwin promulgated. Through the last fifty years this theme of the Natural Selection of favoured races has been developed and expounded in writings innumerable. Favoured races certainly can replace others. The argument is sound, but we are doubtful of its value. For us that debate stands adjourned. We go to Darwin for his incomparable collection of facts. We would fain emulate his scholarship, his width and his power of exposition, but to us he speaks no more with philosophical authority. We read his scheme of evolution as we would those of Lucretius or of Lamarck, delighting in their simplicity and their courage. ... In face of what we now know of the distribution of variability in nature, the scope claimed for natural selection in determining the fixity of species must be greatly reduced. The doctrine of the survival of the fittest is undeniable so long as it is applied to the organism as a whole, but to attempt by this principle to find value in all definiteness of parts and functions, and in the name of science to see fitness everywhere, is mere eighteenth-century optimism. Yet it was in application to the parts, to the details of specific difference, to the spots on the peacock's tail, to the colouring of an orchid flower, and hosts of such examples, that the potency of natural selection was urged with the strongest emphasis. Shorn of these pretensions the doctrine of the survival of favoured races is a truism, helping scarcely at all to account for the diversity of species." (Bateson W., "The Australian Meeting of the British Association [for the Advancement of Science]: Inaugural Address by Prof. William Bateson, M.A., F.R.S., President Part I. - Melbourne," Nature, August 20, 1914. http://home.inreach.com/cliff_lundberg/bateson.html) 3/8/2004 "The concept of destructive variation brings us to another strange product of Bateson's belief that genetics had closed off most of the traditional explanations of how evolution worked. In his presidential address to the Australian meeting of the British Association in 1914, he hinted at a theory that would reduce all evolution to the unfolding of a predetermined set of characters. Bateson thought that there was no such thing as a positive mutation in the germ plasm, that is, a mutation creating a new character. Changes in the germ plasm were always destructive because they led to the elimination of a previously existing Mendelian factor. To explain why new characters did appear from time to time, he postulated the widespread existence of inhibiting genes, which blocked the expression of other characters. When an inhibitor was destroyed by negative mutation, the character it had once masked would appear in the species. This at least raised the possibility that the whole of evolutionary "progress" might be the effect of a genetic degeneration, which allowed the gradual appearance of characters that had all been present in the original forms of life, along with the appropriate inhibitors. `If then we have to dispense, as seems likely, with any additions from without, we must begin seriously to consider whether the course of Evolution can at all reasonably be represented as an unpacking of an original complex which contained within itself the whole range of diversity which living things present.... At first it may seem rank absurdity to suppose that the primordial form or forms of protoplasm could have contained complexity enough to produce the divers types of life. But is it any easier to imagine that these powers could have been conveyed by external additions?' [Bateson W., "The Australian Meeting of the British Association: Inaugural Address by Prof. William Bateson, M.A., F.R.S., President Part I. - Melbourne, Nature, August 20, 1914 http://home.inreach.com/cliff_lundberg/bateson.html] A little later Bateson suggested that the order of unpacking might be predetermined, which would cause the regular development of characters that Eimer had called orthogenesis. This served only to strengthen the implication that the entire evolutionary process had been nothing but the unfolding of a preexisting pattern (which is, in fact, the original meaning of the term "evolution," now forgotten). However puzzled Bateson's contemporaries might have been about the true nature of the process, they were not about to follow his retreat into this position, which some compared to the old preformation theory of embryology. Bateson's desperation because of the refusal of his own interpretation of genetics to yield anything resembling a mechanism for progressive evolution had led him into a position that resembled little more than a throwback to the old vision of a divine plan built into the very nature of life." (Bowler P.J., "The Eclipse of Darwinism: Anti- Darwinian Evolution Theories in the Decades around 1900," Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore MD, 1983, pp.195-196) 7/8/2004 "Whenever a challenge to the teaching of evolution in the high-schools arises, the scientific establishment and its allies trot out the Scopes Monkey Trial and attempt to cast the challengers as throwbacks to the Christian fundamentalists portrayed in the movie Inherit the Wind. It is their position that if the scientific establishment has ratified a science textbook, such as the book from which Scopes taught evolution, the state should not engage in "censoring" the material in that book. The Scopes Monkey Trial plays such a prominent role in the debate that I decided, as part of my investigation of these issues, to purchase a copy of the Scopes trial transcript; ["The Scopes Trial," Notable Trials Library, Gryphon: Birmingham: AL, 1990, reprint] ... Review of these source materials-very different from the biased picture presented in Inherit the Wind-was a real eye-opener. In the Scopes trial, there was never any judgment or verdict that unintelligent evolution is true. (The prosecution argued and the judge agreed that the Tennessee statute in question barred the teaching of the theory even if it were true, so its truth was not an issue in the case.) Nor, notably, was the truth of the theory of unintelligent evolution and the supposed evidence for it ever subjected to cross-examination. Scopes's lawyers presented extensive written statements from seven scientists stating that evolution is the correct explanation for the diversity of life on earth. The prosecution sought permission to cross-examine the five pro-Darwinian science experts whose statements had been read in open Court, but Clarence Darrow and the Scopes lawyers objected and the court refused to allow it. Nor, ironically, given the popular understanding of the case as a disproof of Christian fundamentalism, was fundamentalism technically an issue in the case. The Tennessee statute did not mandate the teaching of fundamentalism or of any other theory that might explain the origin and subsequent diversification of life on earth. The statute merely barred the teaching of evolution. But Darrow and the entire defense team wished to make fundamentalism the issue, and they succeeded. Prosecution lawyer William Jennings Bryan agreed to be questioned by Darrow on his personal interpretation of the Bible (the famous examination shown in a false light in Inherit the Wind) only if Darrow agreed to be questioned on the evidence for evolution-and the judge agreed that Bryan could question Darrow after Darrow questioned Bryan. The bargain by Bryan, submitting to examination so that he could examine Darrow, was a last-ditch attempt to place some criticism of unintelligent evolution into the Scopes trial record to counteract the one-sided, unchallenged presentation of the pro-evolution side. But after his famous examination of Bryan, Darrow unexpectedly changed Scopes' plea to guilty, which closed the evidence and made it impossible for Bryan to call Darrow to the stand to question him on evolution. Darrow could easily have changed the plea before his examination of Bryan; the fact that Darrow changed the plea only after he conducted his examination indicates that his intention all along was to use Bryan to challenge Christian fundamentalism and then to escape any challenge to the theory of unintelligent evolution. The result was that in the Scopes Monkey Trial, scientists presented their case for evolution without any challenge to the merits of their arguments that the data they offered was evidence for its truth. Unintelligent evolution's escape from proper cross-examination is longstanding. Prof. Hoyle's comments to that effect bear repeating: the scientific challenges to unintelligent evolution have "never had a fair hearing" because "the developing system of popular education [from Darwin's day to the present] provided an ideal opportunity for zealots who were sure of themselves to overcome those who were not, for awkward arguments not to be discussed, and for discrepant facts to be suppressed." [Hoyle F., "Mathematics of Evolution," Acorn Enterprises: Memphis TN, 1999, p.106]" (Sisson E.*, "Teaching the Flaws in Neo-Darwinism," in Dembski W.A., ed., "Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing," ISI Books: Wilmington DE, 2004, pp.93-94. Emphasis in original) 7/8/2004 "Whenever a challenge to the teaching of evolution in the high-schools arises, the scientific establishment and its allies trot out the Scopes Monkey Trial and attempt to cast the challengers as throwbacks to the Christian fundamentalists portrayed in the movie Inherit the Wind. It is their position that if the scientific establishment has ratified a science textbook, such as the book from which Scopes taught evolution, the state should not engage in `censoring' the material in that book. The Scopes Monkey Trial plays such a prominent role in the debate that I decided, as part of my investigation of these issues, to purchase a copy of the Scopes trial transcript; ['The Scopes Trial,' Notable Trials Library, Gryphon: Birmingham: AL, 1990, reprint] a copy of the textbook from which Scopes taught, A Civic Biology, [Hunter G.W., `A Civic Biology,' American Book Company: New York, 1914] and a copy of the companion lab guide to that textbook [Hunter G.W., `Laboratory Problems in Civic Biology,' American Book Company: New York, 1916] Review of these source materials-very different from the biased picture presented in Inherit the Wind-was a real eye-opener. ... According to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz in his 1990 introduction to The Scopes Trial, those who advocated for evolution in 1925 included `racists, militarists, and nationalists' who used evolution `to push some pretty horrible programs,' including the forced `sterilization of 'unfit' and 'inferior'' people; `the anti-immigration movement' that wanted to bar immigration of people of `inferior racial stock;' and `Jim Crow' laws that evolutionists `rationalized on grounds of the racial inferiority of blacks.' ... Examination of Scopes's text book, A Civic Biology, demonstrates another important lesson about whether the scientific establishment should receive the great deference it demands from our school boards concerning what should be taught in our schools. A Civic Biology and its companion lab book both contain sections on eugenics-introduced by the statement that `[t]he science of being well born is called eugenics.' [Hunter G.W., "A Civic Biology," American Book Company: New York, 1914, pp.261-262; Hunter G.W., "Laboratory Problems in Civic Biology," American Book Company: New York, 1916] The scientific establishment of the time fully supported this `science' of eugenics. This endorsement by the scientific establishment meant that eugenics was taught in our schools. Here is what the scientific establishment of that time caused schoolchildren to learn. As Dershowitz notes, Hunter's A Civic Biology divided humanity into five races and ranked them in terms of superiority, concluding with `the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.' In its discussion of the legacies of two families, A Civic Biology taught schoolchildren that the failure to apply eugenics forced the state of New York to bear the cost of `over a hundred feeble-minded, alcoholic, immoral, or criminal persons' and resulted in the births of `33 sexually immoral, 24 confirmed drunkards, 3 epileptics, and 143 feeble minded.... The evidence and the moral speak for themselves! Hundreds of families such as those described above exist today, spreading disease, immorality, and crime to all parts of this country... [T]hese families have become parasitic on society' Hunter's textbook-the one that the science establishment of today says that the state should have given maximum deference in 1925-recommends that society `separat[e] the sexes in asylum ... preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race.' [Hunter, "A Civic Biology," 1914, pp.196,262-263] Such was the position the science establishment promoted to the children of Tennessee at the time of the Scopes Monkey Trial. I think the state should have rejected this position despite the fact that the science establishment supported it. The lab book, at Problem 160, asks students to use inheritance charts `[t]o determine some means of bettering, physically and mentally, the human race,' so that students can answer the concluding question: `Should feebleminded persons be allowed to marry?' A `Note to teachers' says that `[t]he child is at the receptive age and is emotionally open to the serious lessons here involved.' [Hunter, "Laboratory Problems in Civic Biology," 1916, p.182] Ironically, the lab book contains nothing on evolution. Apparently the scientist who wrote the book, and the scientific establishment that applauded it, felt it was more important for the `receptive' young students to learn eugenics than evolution. Of course, the scientific establishment of today would denounce all of this. Thus the very text book from which Scopes taught-the very book that the scientific establishment of today proclaims Scopes ought to have been able to use in 1925 without any interference by the state - includes material that today the scientific establishment rejects." (Sisson E.*, "Teaching the Flaws in Neo- Darwinism," in Dembski W.A., ed., "Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing," ISI Books: Wilmington DE, 2004, pp.92-96. Emphasis in original) 8/8/2004 "Nor, ironically, given the popular understanding of the case as a disproof of Christian fundamentalism, was fundamentalism technically an issue in the case. The Tennessee statute did not mandate the teaching of fundamentalism or of any other theory that might explain the origin and subsequent diversification of life on earth. The statute merely barred the teaching of evolution. But Darrow and the entire defense team wished to make fundamentalism the issue, and they succeeded. Prosecution lawyer William Jennings Bryan agreed to be questioned by Darrow on his personal interpretation of the Bible (the famous examination shown in a false light in Inherit the Wind) only if Darrow agreed to be questioned on the evidence for evolution-and the judge agreed that Bryan could question Darrow after Darrow questioned Bryan. The bargain by Bryan, submitting to examination so that he could examine Darrow, was a last-ditch attempt to place some criticism of unintelligent evolution into the Scopes trial record to counteract the one-sided, unchallenged presentation of the pro-evolution side. But after his famous examination of Bryan, Darrow unexpectedly changed Scopes' plea to guilty, which closed the evidence and made it impossible for Bryan to call Darrow to. the stand to question him on evolution. 31 Darrow could easily have changed the plea before his examination of Bryan; the fact that Darrow changed the plea only after he conducted his examination indicates that his intention all along was to use Bryan to challenge Christian fundamentalism and then to escape any challenge to the theory of unintelligent evolution. The result was that in the Scopes Monkey Trial, scientists presented their case for evolution without any challenge to the merits of their arguments that the data they offered was evidence for its truth. Unintelligent evolution's escape from proper cross-examination is longstanding." (Sisson E.*, "Teaching the Flaws in Neo- Darwinism," in Dembski W.A., ed., "Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing," ISI Books: Wilmington DE, 2004, p.94) 9/8/2004 "Jupiter also played a crucial role in purging the inner solar system of bodies left over from planet formation. Jupiter is 318 times more massive than Earth, and it exerts enormous gravitational influence. Its gravitational interactions very efficiently scatter bodies that approach it, and it has largely cleaned out stray bodies from a large volume of the solar system. In the early solar system, there were tremendous numbers of small bodies that had escaped incorporation into planets, but over half a billion years, most of the larger ones inside the orbit of Saturn disappeared. They were accreted by planets, ejected out of the solar system, or incorporated into the Oort cloud of comets. Jupiter was the major cause of this purging of the middle region of the solar system. The objects that still impact Earth today are planetesimals that managed to survive in three special ecological niches: the Oort comet cloud lie yond Pluto, the Kuiper belt of comets just beyond the outer planets, and the asteroid belt, that special refuge located between Mars and Jupiter. The current impact rate averages one 10-kilometer body every 100 million years The impact of just such a body occurred 65 million years ago, the time of the K/T extinction that ended the age of the dinosaurs. George Wetherill of the Carnegie Institute of Washington has estimated that the, flux of these 10-kilometer bodies hitting Earth might be 10,000 times higher if Jupiter had not come into being and purged many of the leftover bodies of the middle region of the solar system [Wetherill G.W., "Possible consequences of the absence of Jupiters in planetary systems," Astrophysics and Space Science, vol. 212, 1994, pp. 23-32; Wetherill G.W., "How Special Is Jupiter?" Nature, vol. 373, 9 February 1995, p.470]. If Earth had been subject to collisions with extinction -causing projectiles every 10,000 years instead of every 100 million years, and fairly frequently with even larger bodies, it seems unlikely that animal life would have survived." (Ward P.D. & Brownlee D., "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe," Copernicus: New York NY, 2000, pp.238-239) 13/8/2004 "The problems of explanation in physical geography caused by the number of factors involved and their interaction, by the difficulties of scale, by the frequency of change and by the problem of deciphering the role of man as against that of nature are heightened by the fact that different processes can lead to similar end-forms - the problem of equifinality. When seeking an explanation for a particular phenomenon it is important to remember that, although certain phenomena appear to be broadly similar in type, their form may be an inadequate guide to their origin. One should not be dogmatic as to the origins of many natural phenomena. ... When conducting one's own fields investigations, therefore, it is necessary to adopt the principal of multiple working hypotheses, seeking to formulate and test as many explanations as possible." (Goudie, A., "The Nature of the Environment," , Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, Third edition, 1993, p.340. Emphasis original) 13/8/2004 "The contrast between creationism and science is both strong and significant. Creationism rests on a single model, the one revealed by study of the Bible. Thus there is little incentive to generate new information from either field or laboratory study, as reflected in the lack of legitimate geologic research by creationists. Instead, they use the geologic literature as a source of data to support their model of earth history. To scientists, many creationists appear to mislead by divorcing such geologic data from their context and by using them in an unfairly selective way. In contrast, geologists, like scientists in general, are committed to the principle of multiple working hypotheses. [Chamberlin T.C., "The method of multiple working hypotheses," Journal of Geology, Vol. 5, 1897, pp.837-848] Rather than running the risk of becoming too attached to a single hypothesis or model, geologists prefer to consider several alternatives concurrently. Field and laboratory data are then sought to support or refute the competing interpretations. The assumption that continents have always occupied the same relative geographic positions, for example, was abandoned recently in response to overwhelming evidence for the alternative models of continental drift and seafloor spreading. However, certain other hypotheses, such as evolution, have been tested and supported repeatedly so that their rejection may now be accepted as statistically improbable. Science, then, is a dynamic, multiple-hypothesis discipline in which old hypotheses are abandoned in the light of new evidence, whereas creationism represents a static, one-hypothesis approach to earth history." (Glenister B.F. & Witzke, B.J., "Interpreting Earth History," in Wilson D.B. & Dolphin W.D., eds., "Did the Devil Make Darwin Do It?: Modern Perspectives on the Creation-Evolution Controversy," Iowa State University Press: Ames IO, 1983, pp.55-56) 13/8/2004 "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes-one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way." (Gould S.J., "Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, pp.322-323) 14/8/2004 "Second, Darwin again displays the explanatory power of his theory by indicating a further dimension of faisifiability: 'Natural selection will produce nothing in one species for the exclusive good or injury of another; though it may well produce parts, organs, and excretions highly useful or even indispensable, or highly injurious to another species, but in all cases at the same time useful to the owner' (ibid., p. 232). In view especially of the recent brouhaha raised by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, and by others urging the supposedly inescapable selfishness of the whole process of evolution, it becomes worth pointing out at once that Darwin draws too positive an inference. Natural selection does not positively produce anything. It only eliminates, or tends to eliminate, whatever is not competitive. For some variant characteristic not to be thus eliminated, it does not need to bestow upon its possessor any actual competitive advantage. It is both necessary and sufficient that it should not burden that possessor with any competitive disadvantage. Darwin's mistake - a mistake the correction of which leaves us still with a satisfactorily falsifiable implication - is perhaps consequent upon his employment of the expressions 'natural selection' or 'survival of the fittest', rather than his own ultimately preferred alternative 'natural preservation' (Darwin, F., II p. 346). Certainly it cannot be either too early or too often emphasized that natural selection is no more a kind of (conscious and grounded) selection than Bombay duck is a species of duck. Nor, of course, are genes, or plants, or any organisms other than specimens of certain higher animals, ever engaged, whether selfishly or unselfishly, in any conscious or chosen pursuit of anything." (Flew A.G.N., "Darwinian Evolution," Paladin: London, 1984, pp.25-26) 15/8/2004 "The Veritas Forum's emphasis on truth is reinforced by its motto, taken from a quotation attributed to Thomas Jefferson: "We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." To modernists that must seem like a very strange motto for an organization of theists to adopt, especially an organization of theists dedicated to the proposition that the truth claims of Jesus Christ really do make sense in the conditions of the late twentieth century. Doesn't "everybody know" that those truth claims were disposed of long ago by such sages as Hume and Voltaire, and that Nietzsche merely executed a death sentence on God that had been pronounced even before Darwin supplied the essential mechanism of naturalistic creation? One of the most important stereotypes in naturalistic thinking is that "religion" is based on faith rather than reason, and that persons who believe in God are inherently unwilling to follow the truth wherever it may lead because that path leads to naturalism." (Johnson P.E.*, "Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1995, pp.198-199) 15/8/2004 "In short, our scientific leadership is in a philosophical muddle and is only making things worse with its campaign of intimidation, factual misrepresentation, and semantic legerdemain. To put things on a more rational basis, the first thing that has to be done is to get the Bible out of the discussion. Too many people, including journalists, have seen the movie Inherit the Wind and have become convinced that everyone who questions Darwinism must want to remove the microscopes and textbooks from the biology classrooms and just read the book of Genesis to the students. It is vital not to give any encouragement to this prejudice, and to keep the discussion strictly on the scientific evidence and the philosophical assumptions. This is not to say that the biblical issues are unimportant; the point is rather that the time to address them will be after we have separated materialist prejudice from scientific fact." (Johnson P.E.*, "The Wedge: Breaking the Modernist Monopoly on Science," Touchstone, July/August 1999, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp.18-24. http://www.touchstonemag.com/docs/issues/12.4docs/12-4pg18.html. Emphasis in original) 15/8/2004 "Nor was Darwin the first to introduce into a biological context the ideas either of natural selection or of a struggle for existence. Both can be found in the Roman poet Lucretius in the first century B.C., in an account of how in the beginning our mother earth produced both all the kinds of living things which we now know, and many other sorts of ill-starred monstrosity. But with these latter: `... it was all in vain they could not attain the desired flower of age nor find food nor join by the ways of Venus ... And many species of animals must have perished at that time, unable by procreation to forge out the chain of posterity; for whatever you see feeding on the breath of life, either cunning or courage or at least quickness must have kept ... from its earliest existence. ([Lucretius, "de Rerum Natura," Heineman: London,] V. pp. 845-8 & 855-9) Lucretius, too, was a disciple, clothing in Latin verse ideas which he had himself learnt from the fourth-century Greek Epicurus, who was here in his turn drawing on such fifth-century sources as Empedocles of Acragas (Kirk and Raven, ["The Pre-Socratic Philosophers," CUP: Cambridge, 1957], pp. 336-40). (Flew A.G.N., "Darwinian Evolution," Paladin: London, 1984, pp.12-13) 15/8/2004 "What will be the fate of Dembski, Gordon, and their Michael Polanyi Center? It's up to one man only -- President Robert Sloan. He can bow to faculty pressure and dissolve the present Polanyi Center, perhaps restaffing it with scholars more to the faculty's liking; or clip Dembski's wings by taking away his ability to raise money to run programs. Or he can stand behind the man he hired, make the case that science should be about facts, not McCarthyite lynch mobs -- and take the heat that will surely be generated by disgruntled faculty and their sympathetic media. Either way, the ultimate victim or victor won't be Bill Dembski, it will be unbiased science and humanity's quest to discover the truth -- wherever that truth leads us." (Heeren F., "The Lynching of Bill Dembski," The American Spectator, November 2000. http://www.fsf.vu.lt/filk/mps/Being%20Methodologically%20Correct.htm) 17/8/2004 "Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection provides a framework theory for biologists: it encourages them to interpret their observations in a certain kind of way and suggests particular hypotheses to test. The subsidiary hypotheses may or may not be right, but their disproof is not itself evidence that the framework theory is wrong. It merely tells us that the framework theory does not produce its effects in quite the way we supposed. Let me give you a more specific example. The theory of evolution provides us with a framework theory that allows us to make sense of the scattered fossil record. Until the early 1970s, it was widely believed that humans and chimpanzees last shared a common ancestor some 15 million years ago. This suggestion stemmed from similarities between the teeth of modern humans and those of an extinct group of fossil Asian apes called Ramapithecines. However, new techniques in molecular biology allowed Alan Wilson and his colleagues at the University of California to determine from comparisons of human and ape blood proteins that the last common ancestor probably lived as recently as 3-5 million years ago. A great deal of argument ensued, but in the end molecular biology won the day. The anatomists went back to look at their fossils again more closely and concluded that the Ramapithecines were in fact probably ancestral to the orang-utan, the only living Asian great ape. The mistake had come from relying too heavily on a single character, the thickness of tooth enamel, that Ramapithecines and humans happened to share because they occupied similar terrestrial environments. The tree of human evolution had to be redrawn, but the theory of evolution itself remained unaffected. In fact, contrary to common popular belief, the theory of evolution cannot be disproved by any evidence from the fossil record: the fossil record can only tell us how evolution occurred and which particular pathways it took, not whether or not the theory of evolution is true. Disproof of the theory of evolution can only come through studies of the mechanisms of evolution (for example, natural selection), and these can only be done on living species. In trying to make sense of the fossil record, we assume that the theory of evolution is true, relying on other scientists to test the validity of the framework theory. Lakatos also made an important practical point when he observed that there is no point in rejecting a framework theory just because there is evidence against it. Without a framework theory, we cannot ask questions or design experiments. So there is no point in abandoning a framework theory unless we have a better one to replace it with. Abandoning a framework theory in the absence of an alternative is about as useful as making a series of diary engagements when you don't have a calendar. It is much better to carry on using the old discredited theory until such time as an alternative appears." (Dunbar R.I.M., "The Trouble with Science," Faber & Faber: London, 1995, pp.23-24. Emphasis in original 18/8/2004 "Why are there so many robots in fiction, but none in real life? I would pay a lot for a robot that could put away the dishes or run simple errands. But I will not have the opportunity in this century, and probably not in the next one either. There are, of course, robots that weld or spray-paint on assembly lines and that roll through laboratory hallways; my question is about the machines that walk, talk, see, and think, often better than their human masters. ... the gap between robots in imagination and in reality is my starting point, for it shows the first step we must take in knowing ourselves: appreciating the fantastically complex design behind feats of mental life we take for granted. The reason there are no humanlike robots is not that the very idea of a mechanical mind is misguided. It is that the engineering problems that we humans solve as we see and walk and plan and make it through the day are far more challenging than landing on the moon or sequencing the human genome. Nature, once again, has found ingenious solutions that human engineers cannot yet duplicate. When Hamlet says, "What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving bow express and admirable!" we should direct our awe not at Shakespeare ... but at a four-year old carrying out a request to put a toy on a shelf." (Pinker S., "How the Mind Works," , Penguin: London, 1998, reprint, pp.3-4) 21/8/2004 "Let us recap why we think Earth is rare. Our planet coalesced out of the debris from previous cosmic events at a position within a galaxy highly appropriate for the eventual evolution of animal life, around a star also highly appropriate-a star rich in metal, a star found in a safe region of a spiral galaxy, a star moving very slowly on its galactic pinwheel. Not in the center of the galaxy, not in a metal-poor galaxy, not in a globular cluster, not near an active gamma ray source, not in a multiple-star system, not even in a binary, or near a pulsar, or near stars too small, too large, or soon to go supernova. We became a planet where global temperatures have allowed liquid water to exist for more than 4 billion years-and for that, our planet had to have a nearly circular orbit at a distance from a star itself emitting a nearly constant energy output for a long period of time. Our planet received a volume of water sufficient to cover most-but not all-of the planetary surface. Asteroids and comets hit us but not excessively so, thanks to the presence of giant gas planets such as Jupiter beyond us. In the time since animals evolved over 600 million years ago, we have not been punched out, although the means of our destruction by catastrophic impact is certainly there. Earth received the right range of building materials-and had the correct amount of internal heat-to allow plate tectonics to work on the planet, shaping the continents required and keeping global temperatures within a narrow range for several billion years. Even as the Sun grew brighter and atmosphere composition changed, the Earth's remarkable thermostatic regulating process successfully kept the surface temperature within livable range. Alone among terrestrial planets we have a large moon, and this single fact, which sets us apart from Mercury, Venus, and Mars, may have been crucial to the rise and continued existence of animal life on Earth. The continued marginalization of Earth and its place in the Universe perhaps should be reassessed. We are not the center of the Universe, and we never will be. But we are not so ordinary as Western science has made us out to be for two millennia. Our global inferiority complex may be unwarranted. What if Earth is extremely rare because of its animals (or, to put it another way, because of its animal habitability)?" (Ward P.D. & Brownlee D., "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe," Copernicus: New York NY, 2000, pp.282-283) 27/8/2004 "There is no reason why the principles which have acted so efficiently under domestication should not have acted under nature. In the survival of favoured individuals and races, during the constantly recurrent Struggle for Existence, we see a powerful and ever-acting form of Selection. The struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high geometrical ratio of increase which is common to all organic beings. This high rate of increase is proved by calculation,-by the rapid increase of many animals and plants during a succession of peculiar seasons, and when naturalised in new countries. More individuals are born than can possibly survive. A grain in the balance may determine which individuals shall live and which shall die,-which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct. As the individuals of the same species come in all respects into the closest competition with each other, the struggle will generally be most severe between them; it will be almost equally severe between the varieties of the same species, and next in severity between the species of the same genus. On the other hand the struggle will often be severe between beings remote in the scale of nature. The slightest advantage in certain individuals, at any age or during any season, over those with which they come into competition, or better adaptation in however slight a degree to the surrounding physical conditions, will, in the long run, turn the balance." (Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," , Everyman's Library, J.M. Dent & Sons: London, 6th Edition, 1928, reprint, p.444) 27/8/2004 "He [Darwin] formulated a variety of other ingenious and plausible speculations on how and why the relentless culling of natural selection would actually create species boundaries, but they remain speculations to this day. It has taken a century of further work to replace Darwin's brilliant but inconclusive musings on the mechanisms of speciation with accounts that are to some degree demonstrable. Controversy about the mechanisms and principles of speciation still persists, so in one sense neither Darwin nor any subsequent Darwinian has explained the origin of species. As the geneticist Steve Jones (1993) [Jones J.S., "A Slower Kind of Bang." Review of Wilson E.O., "The Diversity of Life," Belknap: Cambridge MA, 1992. London Review of Books, April 1993, p.20] has remarked, had Darwin published his masterpiece under its existing title today, `he would have been in trouble with the Trades Description Act because if there is one thing which Origin of Species is not about, it is the origin of species.'" (Dennett D.C., "Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life," Penguin: London, 1995, p.44. Emphasis in original) 28/8/2004 "There is a third variety of true sentences which logicians frequently speak of, "true by definition." ... Like the other kinds of logical truth, definitional truth is also innocent of any factual substance - the only information it gives is that if you define a term in a certain way, then, the conditions of the definition being met, you can use the term. ... They give no information about the world, but only about the use of language in reasonable discourse. It is this lack of material content that is referred to when it is said that such truth is tautological or trivial." (Fearnside, W.W. & Holther, W.B., "Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument," Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs NJ, 1959, Eleventh printing, pp.136-137) 28/8/2004 "A tautology is a contentless statement; something true by definition and uninformative of the real world. `All bachelors are unmarried men' is a tautology, as is `All triangles have three sides.' Neither statement informs us that the subject exists. They only mean, `If X exists, then it is X.' If there are any bachelors in the universe, they are unmarried. The tautology does not tell us that a bachelor really exists. ... Tautologies are usually contrasted with empirical statements that have content: `The tree outside my window is an oak.' `The car in my yard is black.' While empirical statements have content, they are not logically necessary. That is, they may be false. Tautologies, on the other hand, are logically necessary, since they are true by definition. They do not say a thing, but they are necessarily true." (Geisler N.L.*, "Tautology," in "Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics," Baker Books: Grand Rapids MI, 1999, p.714) 28/8/2004 "Natural selection is the central concept of Darwinian theory-the fittest survive and spread their favored traits through populations. Natural selection is defined by Spencer's phrase `survival of the fittest,' but what does this famous bit of jargon really mean? Who are the fittest? And how is `fitness' defined? We often read that fitness involves no more than `differential reproductive success'-the production of more surviving offspring than other competing members of the population. ... This formulation defines fitness in terms of survival only. The crucial phrase of natural selection means no more than `the survival of those who survive'-a vacuous tautology. (A tautology is a phrase-like `my father is a man' - containing no information in the predicate ('a man') not inherent in the subject ('my father'). Tautologies are fine as definitions, but not as testable scientific statements-there can be nothing to test in a statement true by definition.) But how could Darwin have made such a monumental, two-bit mistake? Even his severest critics have never accused him of crass stupidity. Obviously, Darwin must have tried to define fitness differently-to find a criterion for fitness independent of mere survival. Darwin did propose an independent criterion, but Bethell argues quite correctly that he relied upon analogy to establish it, a dangerous and slippery strategy." (Gould S.J., "Darwin's Untimely Burial," in "Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, pp.40-41) 28/8/2004 "The famous philosopher of science Karl Popper at one time wrote ... `some of the greatest contemporary Darwinists themselves formulate the theory in such a way that it amounts to the tautology that those organisms that leave most offspring leave most offspring,' citing Fisher, Haldane, Simpson, `and others.' One of the others was C.H. Waddington ... `Natural selection, which was at first considered as though it were a hypothesis that was in need of experimental or observational confirmation, turns out on closer inspection to be a tautology, a statement of an inevitable but previously unrecognized relation. It states that the fittest individuals in a population (defined as those which leave most offspring) will leave most offspring. This fact in no way reduces the magnitude of Darwin's achievement; only after it was clearly formulated, could biologists realize the enormous power of the principle as a weapon of explanation.' [Waddington C.H., in `The Evolution of Life,' in Tax S., ed., `Evolution After Darwin', University of Chicago Press: Chicago IL., Vol. 1, 1960, p.385]. That was not an offhand statement, but a considered judgment published in a paper presented at the great convocation at the University of Chicago in 1959 celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. Apparently, none of the distinguished authorities present told Waddington that a tautology does not explain anything. ... It is not difficult to understand how leading Darwinists were led to formulate natural selection as a tautology. The contemporary neo-Darwinian synthesis grew out of population genetics, a field anchored in mathematics and concerned with demonstrating how rapidly very small mutational advantages could spread in a population. The advantages in question were assumptions in a theorem, not qualities observed in nature, and the mathematicians naturally tended to think of them as `whatever it was that caused the organism and its descendants to produce more offspring than other members of the species.' This way of thinking spread to the zoologists and paleontologists, who found it convenient to assume that their guiding theory was simply true by definition." (Johnson P.E.*, "Darwin on Trial," , InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, Second Edition, 1993, pp.21-22) 30/8/2004 "Also vitally important is a planet's mass. A planet's habitability depends on its mass in many ways; terrestrial planets significantly smaller or larger than Earth are probably less habitable. Because Its surface gravity is weaker, a less massive Earth twin would lose its atmosphere more quickly, and because of its larger surface-area- to-volume ratio, its interior might cool too much to generate a strong magnetic field. And as we will show in Chapter Five, smaller planets also tend to have more dangerously erratic orbits. In contrast, without getting more habitable, a more massive Earth-twin would have a larger initial inventory of water 14 and other volatiles, such as methane and carbon dioxide, and would lose less of them over time. Such a planet might resemble the gas giant Jupiter rather than our terrestrial Earth. In fact, Earth may be almost as big as a terrestrial planet can get. While life needs an atmosphere, too much atmosphere can be bad. For example, high surface pressure would slow the evaporation of water and dry the interiors of continents. It would also increase the viscosity of the air at the surface, making it more difficult for big-brained, mobile creatures like us to breathe. In addition, more surface gravity would create less surface relief, with smaller mountains and shallower seas. Even with more vigorous tectonic churning, rocks could not support mountains as high as those we enjoy. The planet probably would be covered by oceans and too mineral-starved at the surface (and too salty throughout) to support life. Even a gilled Kevin Costner, cast as a lone mariner, would find such a waterworld unappealing. To add insult to injury, the surface gravity of a terrestrial planet increases with mass more rapidly than you might guess. Intense pressures compress the material deep inside, so that a planet just twice the size of Earth would have about fourteen times its mass and 3.5 times its surface gravity. This higher compression would probably result in a more differentiated planet; gases like water vapor, methane, and carbon dioxide would tend to end up in the atmosphere. Earth has kept dry land throughout its long history, in part, because some of its water has been sequestered in the mantle; in contrast, a more massive planet would probably have degassed more than Earth. Maybe you're still pining away for some adventure on a sci-fi-inspired giant terrestrial planet, but there's another problem with larger planets impact threats. To put it simply, they're bigger targets. Asteroids and comets have a really hard time avoiding larger planets, so these planets suffer more frequent, high-speed collisions. While their bigger surfaces distribute the greater impact energy over more area, this doesn't compensate for the larger destructive energy, since surface area increases slowly with mass for terrestrial planets more massive than Earth." (Gonzalez G. & Richards J.W.*, "The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed For Discovery," Regnery: Washington DC, 2004, pp.59-60) . September [top] 2/9/2004 "Perhaps the foremost believer is Professor Cyril Ponnamperuma, who heads the Laboratory of Chemical Evolution at the University of Maryland. According to Ponnamperuma: `Nobody doubts now that the components of nucleic acids can be made by a path that can be called natural.' Perhaps a bit more organic chemistry should be done to smooth out some difficulties, but this will surely take place. The pathways did not operate at random: `There are inherent properties in the atoms and molecules which seem to direct the synthesis in the direction most favorable" for the molecules of life. He made these remarks when I interviewed him in his laboratory, actually a series of laboratories brightly decorated with posters from the space program, a display of a meteorite fragment, photographs of the Miller- Urey type of apparatus, as well as the apparatus itself, and a can marked `primordial soup.' ... Ponnamperuma is perhaps the best known of living scientists who devote their full time to the study of the origin of life. He was the first recipient of the recently created Oparin Medal of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, and is the president of the society at the time of this writing. .... As we have noted, his approach to the area is pervaded by an optimism and a sense of cosmic purpose that seems to come from some inner faith. This purpose begins in outer space. He stated his feelings eloquently in a recent comment: `You look at the interstellar molecules and you see cyanide and formaldehyde. These two can provide the pathway for everything else. There is a simplicity in the whole scheme so much so that you practically feel that the whole universe if trying to make life.' Because of the operation of these favorable factors leading to our own chemistry, `we are the brothers and sisters of the stars.' ... `I wouldn't be surprised if you landed on some planet like earth and somebody about five feet two with two eyes came up to you and said hello.'" (Shapiro, R., "Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth," Summit Books: New York NY, 1986, pp.186-187) 2/9/2004 "The new discovery of a crustacean-like fossil (Phophatocope) in the early Cambrian pushes the branching events leading up to it and its relatives further back in time-into the Precambrian. This squares with previous critiques, which noted that in the early Cambrian, some arthropods-especially the ubiquitous trilobites-had already differentiated into different kinds with separate geographical distributions. This differential evolution and dispersal, too, must have required a previous history of the group for which there is no fossil record . Furthermore, cladistic analyses of arthropod phylogeny revealed that trilobites, like eucrustaceans, are fairly advanced `twigs' on the arthropod tree (see the figure). Trilobite-like trace fossils extend to the base of the Cambrian in Newfoundland, and it would be easy to conclude that appropriate trace makers must have appeared still earlier, in the late Precambrian. But fossils of these alleged ancestral arthropods are lacking. Another, independent test of the divergence times is provided by molecular `clocks.' ... The divergence estimates vary widely, however, reflecting both methodological assumptions and choice of genes. They agree only in being Precambrian. Critics of this method point to the possibility that there may be a systematic bias in evolutionary rates (a speeding up) at times of `explosion.' Divergence times made under the assumption of standard, clocklike behavior would then be greatly overestimated. ... Even if evidence for an earlier origin is discovered, it remains a challenge to explain why so many animals should have increased in size and acquired shells within so short a time at the base of the Cambrian. At the moment, there are almost as many explanations as there are animals caught in this belated `explosion.'" (Fortey R., "The Cambrian explosion exploded?" Science, Vol. 293, No. 5529, July 20, 2001, pp.438-439) 3/9/2004 "In what may well go down in history as the greatest paleontological discovery of the late twentieth century, Shuhai Xiao ... and ... Andrew H. Knoll, have just reported their discovery of the oldest triploblastic animals, preserved as phosphatized embryos in rocks from southern China estimated at 570 million years of age (and thus even older than the richest Ediacaran faunas found in strata about 10 million years younger [see Xiao, Zhang, and Knoll, `Threedimensional preservation of algae and animal embryos in a Neoproterozoic phosphorite,' 1998, Nature, vol. 391, pp. 553-58]). These phosphatized fossils include a rich variety of multicellular algae, showing, according to the authors, that `by the time large animals enter the fossil record, the three principal groups of multicellular algae had not only diverged from other protistan [unicellular] stocks but had evolved a surprising degree of the morphological complexity exhibited by living algae.' Given our understandably greater interest in our own animal kingdom, however, most of the attention will be riveted upon some smaller and rarer globular fossils, averaging half a millimeter in diameter and found phosphatized in the same strata: an exquisite series of earliest embryonic stages, beginning with a single fertilized egg and proceeding through twocell, four-cell, eightcell, and sixteen-cell stages to small balls of cells representing slightly later phases of early development. These embryos cannot be assigned to any particular group (more distinctive, later stages have not yet been found) but their identification as earliest stages of triploblastic animals seems secure, both from characteristic features (especially the overall size of the embryo during these earliest stages, which remains unchanged as average cell size decreases to pack more cells into a constant space) and from their uncanny resemblance to particular traits of living groups (several embryologists have told Knoll and colleagues that they would have identified these specimens as embryos of living crustaceans had they not been informed of their truly ancient age)." (Gould S.J.,"On embryos and ancestors," Natural History, Vol. 107, No. 6, July/August 1998, pp.20ff) 6/9/2004 "In one respect I plead to distance myself from professional advocates. A lawyer or a politician is paid to exercise his passion and his persuasion on behalf of a client or a cause in which he may not privately believe. I have never done this and I never shall. I may not always be right, but I care passionately about what is true and I never say anything that I do not believe to be right. I remember being shocked when visiting a university debating society to debate with creationists. At dinner after the debate, I was placed next to a young woman who had made a relatively powerful speech in favour of creationism. She clearly couldn't be a creationist, so I asked her to tell me honestly why she had done it. She freely admitted that she was simply practising her debating skills, and found it more challenging to advocate a position in which she did not believe. Apparently it is common practice in university debating societies for speakers simply to be told on which side they are to speak. Their own beliefs don't come into it. I had come a long way to perform the disagreeable task of public speaking, because I believed in the truth of the motion that I had been asked to propose. When I discovered that members of the society were using the motion as a vehicle for playing arguing games, I resolved to decline future invitations from debating societies that encourage insincere advocacy on issues where scientific truth is at stake."(Dawkins R., "The Blind Watchmaker," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.xiv) 6/9/2004 "pantheism, n. (from Greek pan everything, theos God) is a theory that regards GOD as residing in everything, rather than being set above or alongside the world. A modern example of this is SPINOZA's equating God with the world as a whole. On such a view there can be no creation of the world, since that would mean God creating himself." (Vesey G. & Foulkes P., "Collins Dictionary of Philosophy," HarperCollins: Glasgow UK, 1990, p.214) 6/9/2004 "pantheism ... (Gr. pan- all + theos god) n. the doctrine that the world as a whole, nature in the widest sense, is identical with God. This identity thesis can be read in two ways. in one way, it can be understood as a religious doctrine to the effect that the world is divine. Many great religious mystics have been pantheists in this sense. In another way, it says that there is no God over and above the world as a whole, and it can be understood as an atheistic doctrine. Spinoza and Hegel have been so interpreted." (Mautner T., "pantheism," in "The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy," , Penguin: London, Revised, 2000, p.407) 7/9/2004 Mt 7:21-23  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'  Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" 7/9/2004 "The concept of habitable regions can be applied to our Milky Way galaxy as well. We (and a few other astrobiologists) suspect there are geographic regions that can be plotted from the center of our galaxy that are habitable regions in a way analogous to the habitable zones around stars. Our galaxy is a spiral galaxy (the other types are elliptical and irregular galaxies). In most galaxies the concentration of stars is highest in the center and diminishes away from the center. Spiral galaxies are dish-shaped (round, but flat if viewed from the side), with branching arms when viewed from the top. But viewed from the side they are quite flat. Our galaxy has an estimated diameter of about 85,000 light-years. Our sun is about 25,000 light-years from the center, in a region between spiral arms where star density is quite low compared to the more crowded interior. In this position we slowly orbit the central axis of the galaxy. Like a planet revolving around a star, we maintain roughly the same distance from the galactic center, and this is fortunate. Our star-by chance-is located in the "habitable zone" of the galaxy. We suspect that the inner margins of this galactic habitable zone (GHZ) are defined by the high density of stars, the dangerous supernovae, and the energy sources found in the central region of our galaxy, whereas the outer regions of habitability are dictated by something quite different: not the flux of energy, but the type of matter to found. At the present time, we cannot do more than crudely designate the limits of this habitable region. Its inner boundary is surely defined by celestial catastrophes occurring closer to the center, but we cannot yet estimate how close to the center of the galaxy that boundary is. Perhaps it extends 10,000 light- years from the center, perhaps more. However, we do have at least a vague idea of the forces that impose this inner limit. Life is a very complex and delicate phenomenon that is easily destroyed by too much heat or cold and by too many gamma rays, X-rays, or other types of ionizing radiation. The center of any galaxy produces all of these. Among the lethal stellar members of any galaxy are the neutron stars called magnetars. These collapsed stars are small but astonishingly dense, and they emit X-rays, gamma rays, and other charged particles into space. Because energy dissipates as the square of distance, these objects are no threat to our planet. Closer to the center of the galaxy, however, their frequency increases. Any galactic center is a mass of stars, some the lethal neutron stars, and it seems most unlikely that any form of life as we know it could exist nearby. An even greater threat comes from exploding stars known as supernovae. As stars grow old, they burn up their hydrogen and eventually collapse on themselves. Some of them then explode outward with terrific force. Any star going supernova would probably sterilize life within a radius of 1 light-year of the explosion and affect life on planets as far as 30 light-years away. The very number of stars in galactic centers increases the chances of a nearby supernova. Our sun and planet are protected simply by the scarcity of stars around us. The outer region of the galactic habitable zone is defined by the elemental composition of the galaxy. In the outermost reaches of the galaxy, the concentration of heavy elements is lower because the rate of star formation-thus of element formation-is lower. Outward from the centers of galaxies, the relative abundance of elements heavier than helium declines. The abundance of heavy elements is probably too low to form terrestrial planets as large as Earth, As we shall see in the next chapter our planet has a solid/liquid core that includes some radioactive material giving off heat. Both attributes seem to be necessary to the development of animal life; The metal core produces a magnetic field that protects the surface of the planet from radiation from space, and the radioactive heat from the core, mantle and crust fuels plate tectonics, which in our view is also necessary for maintaining animal life on planet. No planet such as Earth can exist in the outer regions of the galaxy. Not only is Earth in a rare position in its galaxy; it may also be fortunate (at least as far as having life is concerned) in being in a spiral rather than an elliptical galaxy. Elliptical galaxies are regions with little dust which apparently exhibit little new star formation. The majority of stars in elliptical galaxies are nearly as old as the universe. The abundance of heavy elements is low, and although asteroids and comets may occur, it is doubtful that there full-size planets." (Ward P.D. & Brownlee D., "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe," Copernicus: New York NY, 2000, pp.26-28) 7/9/2004 "In its affirmative form, the Law of Biogenesis states that all living organisms are the progeny of living organisms that went be fore them. The familiar Latin tag is Omne vivum ex vivo-All that is alive came from something living; in other words, every organism has an unbroken genealogical pedigree extending back to the first living things. In its negative form, the law can be taken to deny the occurrence (or even the possibility) of spontaneous generation. Moreover, the progeny of mice are mice and of men, men'homogenesis,' or like begetting like. The Law of Biogenesis is arguably the most fundamental in biology, for evolution may be construed as a form of biogenesis that provides for the occasional begetting of a variant form. Not only whole organisms but some of their parts such as the mitochondria are biogenetic too-that is, they are not synthesized de novo in the course of development but are formed from the existing mitochondria, of necessity transferred in sperm or egg." (Medawar P.B. & Medawar J.S., "Aristotle to Zoos: A Philosophical Dictionary of Biology," Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, 1983, p.39) 8/9/2004 "Further, it is remarkable that in the creation of the animals even as in that of the plants these were indeed called into being by a particular act of Divine power, but that in this act nature also performed a mediate service. Let the earth bring forth grass, we read in Genesis 1:11, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit, and it was so (verse 12). The report is the same in Gen. 1:20: Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth, and it was so (verse 21). Again in verse 24: Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping, thing, and beast of the earth after his kind, and it was so. Thus in each instance, nature is used by God as an instrument. It is the earth which although naturally conditioned and equipped for it by God, brings forth all those creatures in their bountiful differentiation of kind." (Bavinck H., "Our Reasonable Faith: A Survey of Christian Doctrine," , Transl. Zylstra H., Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1984, reprint, p,.200) 8/9/2004 "Stage by stage the work of God proceeds until man is reached as the crown of all. ... Bring forth (11). Here is mediate creation: but it must be observed that it is by the divine word." (Kevan E.F., "Genesis," in Davidson F., ed., "The New Bible Commentary," The Inter-Varsity Fellowship: London, Second Edition, 1968, reprint, pp.77-78) 8/9/2004 "Yet there are indications that the very language of Genesis is pliant enough to allow of not a little scientific discovery being inserted. Thus there are two words used for creation. One, Bara, is used three times only in the chapter-(1) at the beginning (ver. 1); (2) at the commencement of life (ver. 21); (3) at the creation of man (ver. 27). `Bara is thus reserved for marking the first introduction of each of the three great spheres of creation-the world of matter, the world of life, and the spiritual world represented by man' (Green). The other word, Asah, is found throughout the rest of the chapter, and is used of God making or moulding from already created materials. Surely in this we have at least a hint of the modern scientific ideas of primal creation and mediate creation." (Griffith Thomas W.H., "Genesis: A Devotional Commentary," , Wm. B. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1979, Eleventh Printing, pp.30-31) 8/9/2004 "Elements of the Biblical Teaching on Creation. Creation out of Nothing. We begin our examination of the doctrine of creation by noting that it is creation out of nothing, or without the use of preexisting materials. This does not mean that all of God's creative work was direct and immediate, occurring at the very beginning of time. (Certainly there was immediate or direct creation, the bringing into being of all reality; but there has also been mediate or derivative creation, God's subsequent work of developing and fashioning what he had originally brought into existence.)" (Erickson M.J., "Christian Theology," , Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1988, Fifth printing, pp.367-368) 8/9/2004 "The earliest mammals are recognized in the Upper Triassic and Lower Jurassic. They are distinguished from advanced therapsids by their smaller body size (as little as 20 grams), the relatively larger size of the cranial cavity, and the nature of the dentition. The incisors, canines, and premolars were replaced only once, and there is only a single generation of molar teeth. In most groups, there is a specific pattern of tooth occlusion in which the lower jaw moves medially as well as dorsally. Occlusion occurs on only one side of the skull at a time. The dentary and squamosal form the primary jaw joint, but the articular and quadrate remain part of the jaw apparatus. .... The skeleton of the best-known early Mesozoic mammals, the morganucodontids, is sufficiently similar to those of the most primitive living marsupials and placentals to suggest that they were physiologically similar as well. ... Several other lineages of primitive mammals accompany the morganucodontids in the late Triassic and early Jurassic." (Carroll R.L., "Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution," W.H. Freeman & Co: New York NY, 1988, p.422) 8/9/2004 "Our Milky Way Galaxy is unusual in that it is one of the most massive galaxies in the nearby universe. Our Solar System also seems to have qualities that make it rather unique. According to Guillermo Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Astronomy at the University of Washington, these qualities make the Sun one of the few stars in the Galaxy capable of supporting complex life. A Spiral Galaxy. The sun keeps out of the way of the galaxies spiral arms which contain disruptive gravitational forces and radiation. For one thing, the Sun is composed of the right amount of `metals.' (Astronomers refer to all elements heavier than hydrogen and helium as `metals.') Moreover, the Sun's circular orbit about the galactic center is just right; through a combination of factors it manages to keep out of the way of the Galaxy's dangerous spiral arms. Our Solar System is also far enough away from the galactic center to not have to worry about disruptive gravitational forces or too much radiation. When all of these factors occur together, they create a region of space that Gonzalez calls a `Galactic Habitable Zone.' Gonzalez believes every form of life on our planet - from the simplest bacteria to the most complex animal - owes its existence to the balance of these unique conditions. Because of this, states Gonzalez, `I believe both simple life and complex life are very rare, but complex life, like us, is probably unique in the observable Universe.' `I think this is a very, very interesting idea,' says Dr. William Borucki, a research scientist in the Planetary Studies Branch of the NASA- Ames Research Center. `I'm delighted to see this theory. I like how Gonzalez has imagined the consequences of planets existing at different parts of the Galaxy. Now scientists need to check the math to make sure it all adds up.' The Theory in Detail Life is possible on Earth because it lies in what is called a habitable zone. Our Milky Way Galaxy is structured much like billions of other spiral galaxies. The galactic disk contains a lot of interstellar matter (like dust and gas), as well as young and intermediate-age stars. While young stars can be found scattered throughout the Galaxy, the stellar population tends to be older in the bulge around the galactic center. Many of these older stars are gathered together into globular clusters, which orbit the nucleus of the Galaxy in a region known as the galactic `halo.' Strong emissions of infrared radiation and X-rays from the galactic center indicate clouds of ionized gas rapidly moving around some sort of supermassive object, quite possibly a black hole. There are billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, and some are more metal-rich than others. Part of this is a condition of age: The older a star, the more metal- poor it tends to be. That's because the most ancient stars formed from just hydrogen, helium, and lithium. When the most massive of these stars exploded, nuclear reactions fused these light elements into heavier ones. These heavier `metals' became part of the raw material from which a second generation of stars formed. Each stellar explosion led to a greater abundance of available metals. A metal-rich star, therefore, has material that came from many previous generations of stars. Our Sun is unusually metal-rich for a star of its age and type. Scientists aren't sure why. It could be that the Sun formed in a part of the Galaxy that had an abundance of metals, and then migrated to its present position. Based on studies of extrasolar planets, metal-rich stars are more likely to have planets orbiting around them. One reason for this may be that a certain minimum amount of metals is needed to form rocky bodies (including the cores of the gas giant planets). A metal-rich interstellar cloud that collapses to form a star would therefore be more likely to form planets than would a metal-poor cloud. Besides requiring a metal-rich star, a Galactic Habitable Zone excludes stars too close to the galactic center. Our Sun is a nice distance away from the galactic center, about 28,000 light years. Being in the outer region of the Galaxy protects our Solar System from the huge gravitational tug of stars clustered near the galactic center. If we were closer in, the combined gravity of all those stars would perturb the orbit of comets in the Oort cloud. The Oort cloud, which circles the outer perimeter of our Solar System, contains trillions of comets. The gravitational disturbances caused by other stars would send many of those comets in our direction - increasing the rate of comet impacts and endangering - if not eventually wiping out - life on Earth. According to Gonzalez, over 95 percent of stars in the galaxy wouldn't be able to support habitable planets simply because their rotation is not synchronized with the rotation of the galaxy's spiral arms. Staying away from the galactic center has an additional advantage. The center of the Galaxy is awash in harmful radiation. Solar systems near the center would experience increased exposure to gamma rays, X-rays, and cosmic rays, which would destroy any life trying to evolve on a planet. `Large, complex organisms are much more sensitive to environmental perturbations than simple life,' says Gonzalez. `Our hypothesis deals exclusively with complex life, more specifically, aerobic macroscopic metazoan life. The effects of radiation would damage the ozone layer, as well as increase radiation levels at the surface of a planet from secondary particle cascades in the atmosphere.' Keeping out of the way of the Galaxy's spiral arms is another requirement of the Galactic Habitable Zone. The density of gases and interstellar matter in the spiral arms leads to the formation of new stars. Although these spiral arms are the birthplaces of stars, it would be dangerous for our solar system to cross through one of them. The intense radiation and gravitation of a spiral arm would cause disruptions in our Solar System just as surely as if we were closer to the center of the Galaxy. Luckily, our Sun revolves at the same rate as the Galaxy's spiral- arm rotation. This synchronization prevents our Solar System from crossing a spiral arm too often. `At our location, our orbital period is very similar to that of the pattern speed of the spiral arms,' says Gonzalez. `This means that the time interval between spiral arm crossings will be a maximum, which is a good thing, since spiral arms are dangerous places. Massive star supernovae are concentrated there, and giant molecular clouds can perturb the Oort cloud comets leading to more comets showers in the inner solar system.' The unusually circular orbit of our Sun around the galactic center also tends to keep it clear of the spiral arms. Most stars the same age as our Sun have more elliptical orbits. `If the Sun's orbit about the galactic center were less circular,' says Gonzalez, `the Sun would be more likely to cross spiral arms.' Thus, thanks to a lot of unusual characteristics of our Sun, our Solar System is lucky enough to lie in a Galactic Habitable Zone. Gonzalez argues that these characteristics made it possible for complex life to emerge on Earth. More than 95 percent of stars in the Galaxy, says Gonzalez, wouldn't be able to support habitable planets simply because their rotation is not synchronized with the rotation of the galaxy's spiral arms. Add all the other factors involved in keeping a solar system habitable, and it seems that the odds of finding another solar system in a Galactic Habitable Zone are close to impossible. `This is a good theory,' says Borucki. `I think this idea is a spark that will initiate similar research. Like a spark plug, it can't drive the car, but it provides the necessary impetus to get the car moving.' What's Next? Gonzalez says he plans to continue his studies on the limitations of life in the Universe. He and his colleagues are working on a paper that discusses such dangers from space as transient radiation sources and large comet or asteroid impacts." (Mullen L., "Galactic Habitable Zones," Astrobiology News, July 10, 2001. http://nai.arc.nasa.gov/news_stories/news_print.cfm?ID=157) 8/9/2004 "If there is life on other planets, an Australian team of astronomers has just found the region in our Milky Way galaxy where it is most likely to exist.. Unfortunately, technology does not yet exist to get man within reach of his nearest possible neighbours. According to Charles Lineweaver, writing in Science, there are four ingredients needed to create complex life: the presence of a host star (such as the Sun), enough heavy elements (carbon, oxygen and nitrogen) to form a planet, sufficient time for biological evolution (at least four billion years in the case of Earth) and the absence of life-destroying supernovae (the explosive deaths of massive stars). Using a computer program developed by Yeshe Fenner, an astrophysics PhD student at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, the pair, with colleague Brad Gibson, threw these ingredients into the mix and came up with the `Galactic Habitable Zone'. Earth's solar system falls within the habitable zone, but is younger and further from the galactic centre than the average complex-life-bearing planet. Dr Lineweaver, a research astronomer at the University of NSW, compared their findings with the search for signs of life on Mars. `Ten years ago, the people who knew the surface of Mars the best said where water was most likely to be - Mars missions are now following their maps,' he said. `We are publishing the same thing here for the entire galaxy.' Swinburne's Professor Gibson said no one had observed any of the Earthlike stars pinpointed in the study. But two, billion-dollar-plus satellite missions planned for 2015 - by NASA and the European Space Agency - will target Earth-like planets." (Cooper D., "Aussie guide to another Earth," The Australian, January 03, 2004. http://www.independent-media.tv/item.cfm?fmedia_id=4755&fcategory_desc=Science) 9/9/2004 "Like the Circumstellar Habitable Zone in our Solar System, there is also a Galactic Habitable Zone (GHZ). ... And its first requirement is to maintain liquid water on the surface of an Earth-like planet. But it's also about forming Earth-like planets and the long-term survival of animal-like aerobic life. The boundaries of the Galactic Habitable Zone are set by the needed planetary building blocks and threats to complex life in the galactic setting. ... The story of how the elements came to be assembled at the place we call Earth is told by modern cosmology, galactic chemical evolution, stellar astrophysics, and planetary science. The Big Bang produced hydrogen and helium and little else. Over the next 13 billion years, this mix was cooked within many generations of stars and recycled. Beginning with the fusion of hydrogen atoms, massive stars make ever-heavier nuclei deep in their hot interiors, building on the ashes of the previous stage and forming an onion shell-like structure. Exploding as supernovae, the massive stars eventually return atoms to the galaxy. But they return them with interest, by producing heavy elements that didn't exist before. As a result, our galaxy's metal content-that is, its `metallicity,' the abundance of heavy elements, or `metals,' relative to hydrogen -has gradually increased to its present value, which is close to the Sun's. Today, metals make up nearly 2 percent of the mass of the Milky Way's gas and dust in the disk. Star dust literally courses through our veins. Cloud collapse is one of the least-understood steps of star and planet formation. An interstellar cloud must contract by many orders of magnitude to form stars with planets. When contracting, a cloud will heat up as part of the gravitational energy is converted into the thermal energy of the motions of its atoms and molecules. The rising temperature increases the cloud's pressure support. It will stop contracting if it cannot cool by radiating heat in the far infrared parts of the spectrum, since infrared photons can escape the dense cloud. How well a contracting cloud can cool by radiation depends on its makeup. Hydrogen and helium lack very strong emissions in the infrared, so a cloud without metals must be fairly massive for its self-gravity to overcome the internal pressure. When metals are present, carbon and oxygen are the main coolants (via ionized carbon, carbon monoxide, and neutral oxygen). Thus, a metal-rich cloud is more likely to fragment into smaller cloudlets to form more low-mass stars. Since massive stars make inhospitable hosts for life, to put it mildly, it follows that metal richness may be an important ingredient in a system's future habitability. Specifically, it is our old friends carbon and oxygen that play a key role in forming stars, while serving as the best probes of the spiralarm structure of the galaxy. Gas giant planets like Jupiter, for all their visual interest, are mostly hydrogen and helium. At present, the most popular model for the formation of a gas giant is called core instability accretion. According to this model, the future gas giant must first form a rocky core of at least ten to fifteen Earth masses. Then the growing planet's gravity can attract and retain the plentiful hydrogen and helium in the protoplanetary disk. This can lead to a runaway growth of the planet. Thus, a minimum amount of metals is required so that the rocky core forms quickly before most of the gas is lost from the system (on a timescale near ten million years). Though we still have much to learn, the recent discoveries of planets outside our Solar System are helping us to get a handle on the value of this threshold metallicity. Astronomers aren't finding giant planets around stars with less than about 40 percent the metal content of the Sun. Conversely, too much metal in the mixture can pose a different set of problems. The higher the initial allotment of metals in its birth cloud, the more planetesimals -early asteroid-sized planetary building blocks-and planets will form in a system, greatly complicating the orbits. In a planetary version of pinball, the giant planets might migrate inward by scattering the many tiny bodies. And if being metal-rich increases the chances that more giant planets will form, then they will also be more likely to perturb each other and destabilize the system, even dumping terrestrial planets into the host star or flinging them out of the system entirely. Even if the giant planets don't migrate much, frequent bombardment from the many remaining asteroids and comets-which will be more abundant in a metal-rich system -will threaten planetary life. Unlike gas giants, terrestrial planets contain very little hydrogen and helium, so they do not have to reach a critical mass to grow to their final state. Terrestrial planets in our Solar System apparently formed in the inner, hot regions where hydrogen, helium, and other abundant gases could not condense. Earth- size terrestrial planets have less chance of forming in a system condensing out of a more metal-poor cloud, such as a globular cluster. Indeed, in the extreme case of a cloud without metals, where not even fist-sized rocks will form, making the right size terrestrial planets becomes impossible. On the other hand, with a high initial inventory of metals you're likely to end up with a busy, chaotic system with a bevy of large planets constantly irritating one another into a very inhospitable state. Because different processes produced gas giants and terrestrial planets, differences in the initial metal content probably led to different ends. And since it now looks as if you need both gas giants and terrestrial planets to form a habitable system, the optimum metal content for building a habitable planetary system might be quite narrow. Recall that relatively few stars more metal-poor than the Sun have giant planets. Suppose that the amount of heavy elements required to form a minimum-mass habitable terrestrial planet is only a little less than that for giant planets that don't disturb their orbits. Then few systems will have enough metals to form an Earth-size terrestrial planet and at least one gas giant planet of the right mass and in the right orbit to do its important habitability-boosting work for the terrestrial planet. The formation of asteroids and comets will also probably depend on the initial metal content differently. These need to be neither too common nor too uncommon, further narrowing the range for habitability in a system." (Gonzalez G.* & Richards J.W.*, "The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed For Discovery," Regnery: Washington DC, 2004, pp.151-156) 11/9/2004 "Humans are in many ways more adapted to the vicissitudes of their environment than are other primates. As Darwin pointed out, evolutionary progress in humans has, just as in other creatures, taken place through selection. Some of our ancestors carried genes that increased their ability to survive and reproduce. These genes became more common in subsequent generations. Our rapid evolution reflects the action of strong natural selection. Nowadays, we think of ourselves as in control of our own biological future, it does seem as if some of the forces that drive genetic change - such as inherited differences in the ability to avoid predators, disease or starvation - have been held at bay. What sorts of selection have acted on humans? Is there still any opportunity for it to do so? (Jones J.S., "Natural Selection in Humans," in Jones J.S., Martin R. & Pilbeam D., eds., "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1992, p.284) 11/9/2004 Rev. 20:1-8 NIV  "And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.  I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.  When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison  and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth--Gog and Magog--to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore." 12/9/2004 "A parking lot is filled with cars, all in rapid, frantic motion. Their drivers are acting without the slightest regard for safety, turning the steering wheels this way and that, stepping on the gas and slamming on the brakes, and all completely at random. Not only that, but every last one of them is blindfolded. There are going to be some dented fenders soon. That is the danger facing us. The peaceful scene about me is subject to the most deadly danger. How long do we have? But hold on a moment! Don't concentrate on the future. Concentrate on the past, on all the thousands, even millions of years of history that have led up to this moment. The longer one waits, the greater the chance of collision, and if one had occurred at any point in the past nothing of what I see would have come into being. Had the Sun collided with a passing star in the epoch of the ancient Sumerians, none of us would have been born. The same would be true had the cataclysm occurred in the time of the dinosaurs. Our existence depends not simply on the avoidance of disaster this year or next, but throughout all of previous history. ... In cosmic terms our existence on this planet has been exceedingly brief, a mere flicker of an eyelash; and if a passing star had struck the Sun at any point in the preceding immense interval of time, humanity would never have come into being. ... The passing star need not have actually struck the Sun in order to have wreaked havoc. In a near miss it could have dragged the Earth after it by its gravitational pull, detached us from orbit, and slung us off into the deadly cold of interstellar space ... In a matter of months every living thing would have frozen to death. An even more distant passage would have left us in our orbit but would have distorted the orbit's form into an ellipse: As the Earth alternately approached and receded from the Sun it would have been alternately too hot and too cold to support life .. And finally, surrounding the solar system but at great distances from it is a vast cloud of comets, hundreds of billions of them. Even a far-distant passage of a wandering star would have been sufficient to deflect vast numbers of them toward us. The inner portions of the solar system would have become flooded with comets ... Had one of them struck our planet the energy released would have matched that of 100 million hydrogen bombs all going off at once, and great quantities of methane and ammonia, contained in comets, would have poisoned the air. Furthermore, the impinging comet would merely have been the first among many, and a world subject to such hammer-blows at a steady rate would have been uninhabitable, a wasteland. All these dangers lurk above me in the softly glowing stars. ... In some way these disasters have not come to pass. ... They have not come to pass because there is an element in the actual situation not covered in the analogy of cars speeding about a parking lot. This element is that parking lots are small but space is big. The stars are exceedingly far away, and as a consequence collisions with them are rare. ... Rare enough to keep us safe. The remarkable thing about the arrangement of stars in space is the sparseness of their distribution. ... the universe ... appears to have been designed by an extravagant, spendthrift hand. All that wasted space! On the other hand, in this very waste lies our safety. It is a precondition for our existence. Most remarkable of all is that the overall emptiness of the cosmos seems to lave no other consequence in the astronomical realm. Had the stars been somewhat closer, astrophysics would not have been so very different. ... About the only difference would have been the view of the nighttime sky from the grass on which I lie, which would have been yet richer with stars. And oh, yes-one more small change: There would have been no me to do the viewing. ... Collision with a passing star is only the tip of an iceberg. Our existence, and that of every other life form in the universe, depends on a concatenation of circumstances, a network of interlocking conditions, each one of which must have held true in order for life to have come into being. The potential dangers that threaten us are so vast as to affect not just one person's existence, but that of life as a whole; and they arise not from circumstances such as war, pestilence, or famine, but from the very structure of the universe, from the nature of the laws of physics. .. none of those dangers have come to pass. But why have they not come to pass? The more one ponders this question the more mysterious it becomes. ... we are faced with a mystery-a great and profound mystery, and one of immense significance: the mystery of the habitability of the cosmos, of the fitness of the environment." (Greenstein G., "The Symbiotic Universe: Life and Mind in the Cosmos," William Morrow & Co: New York NY, 1988, pp.17-21) 17/9/2004 "If we cast off our bonds of subjectivity about Earth and the solar system, and try to view them from a truly "universal" perspective, we also begin to see aspects of Earth and its history in a new light. Earth has been orbiting a star with relatively constant energy output for billions of years. Although life may exist even on the harshest of planets and moons, animal life-such as that on Earth-not only needs much more benign conditions but also must have those conditions present and stable for great lengths of time, Animals as we know them require oxygen. Yet it took about 2 billion years for enough oxygen to be produced to allow all animals on Earth. Had our sun's energy output experienced too much variation during that long period of development (or even afterward), there would have been little chance of animal life evolving on this planet. On worlds that orbit stars with less consistent energy output, the rise of animal life would be far chancier. It is difficult to conceive of animal life arising on planets orbiting variable stars, or even on planets orbiting stars in double or triple stellar systems, because of the increased chances of energy fluxes sterilizing the nascent life through sudden heat or cold. And even if complex life did evolve in such planetary systems, it might be difficult for it to survive for Any appreciable time. Our planet was also of suitable size, chemical composition, and distance from the sun to enable life to thrive. An animal -inhabited planet must be a suitable distance from the star it orbits, for this characteristic governs whether the planet can maintain water in a liquid state, surely a prerequisite for animal life as we know it. Most planets are either too close or too far from their respective stars to allow liquid water to exist on the surface, and although many such planets might harbor simple life, complex animal life equivalent to that on Earth cannot long exist without liquid water. Another factor clearly implicated in the emergence and maintenance of higher life on Earth is our relatively low asteroid or comet impact rate. The collision of asteroids and comets with a planet can cause mass extinctions, as we have noted. What controls this impact rate? The amount of material left over in a planetary system after formation of the planets influences it: The more comets and asteroids there are in planet- crossing orbits, the higher the impact rate and the greater the chance of mass extinctions due to impact. Yet this may not be the only factor. The types of planets in a system might also affect the impact rate and thus play a large and unappreciated role in the evolution and maintenance of animals. For Earth, there is evidence that the giant planet Jupiter acted as a "comet and asteroid catcher," a gravity sink sweeping the solar system of cosmic garbage that might otherwise collide with Earth. It thus reduced the rate of mass extinction events and so may be a prime reason why higher life was able to form on this planet and then maintain itself. How common are Jupiter- sized planets? In our solar system, Earth is the only planet (other than Pluto) with a moon of such appreciable size compared to the planet it orbits, and it is the only planet with plate tectonics, which causes continental drift. As we will try to show how, both of these attributes may be crucial in the rise and persistence of animal life. Perhaps even a planet's placement in a particular region of its home galaxy plays a major role. In the star-packed interiors of galaxies, the frequency of supernovae and stellar close encounters may be high enough to preclude the long and stable conditions apparently required for the development of animal life. The outer regions of galaxies may have too low a percentage of the heavy elements necessary to build rocky planets and to fuel the radioactive warmth of planetary interiors. The comet influx rate may even be affected by the nature of the galaxy we inhabit and by our solar system's position in that galaxy. Our sun and its planets move through the Milky Way galaxy, yet our motion is largely within the plane of the galaxy as a whole, and we undergo little movement through the spiral arms. Even the mass of a particular galaxy might affect the odds of complex life evolving, for galactic size correlates with its metal content. Some galaxies, then, might be far more amenable to life's origin and evolution than others. Our star-and our solar system-are anomalous in their high metal content. Perhaps our very galaxy is unusual. Finally, it is likely that a planet's history, as well as its environmental conditions, plays a part in determining which planets will see life advance to animal stages. How many planets, otherwise perfectly positioned for a history replete with animal life, have been robbed of that potential by happenstance? An asteroid impacting the planet's surface with devastating and life-exterminating consequences. Or a nearby star exploding into a cataclysmic supernova. Or an ice age brought about by a random continental configuration that eliminates animal life through a chance mass extinction. Perhaps chance plays a huge role." (Ward P.D. & Brownlee D., "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe," Copernicus: New York NY, 2000, pp.xxi-xxiii) 18/9/2004 "The theory of evolution in biology was already an old, even a discredited one. Darwin, in later editions of The Origin, listed over thirty predecessors and was still accused of lack of generosity. Greek thinkers had held the view that life had developed gradually out of a primeval slime. Diderot, Buffon and Maupertuis in the eighteenth century had held evolutionary views, as had Darwin's own grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, whose evolutionary ideas were expressed partly in verse: `First, forms minute, unseen by spheric glass, Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass. These, as successive generations bloom New powers acquire and larger limbs assume.'" (Burrow J.W., "Editor's Introduction," to Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," , First Edition, Penguin: London, 1985, reprint, p.27) 18/9/2004 "It is common to think of a fact as something that is unchanging and absolute. But in science, a fact is generally a close agreement by competent observers of a series of observations of the same phenomenon. For example, though it was once considered a fact that the universe is unchanging and permanent, today it is a scientific fact that the universe is expanding and evolving. A scientific hypothesis, on the other hand, is an educated guess that is only considered factual after it has been demonstrated by experiments. When a hypothesis has been tested over and over again and has not been contradicted, it may become known as a law or principle. If a scientist finds evidence that contradicts a hypothesis, law, or principle, then, in the scientific spirit it must be changed or abandoned. Revision is called for regardless of the reputation or authority of the persons advocating the belief ... In the scientific spirit, however, a single verifiable experiment to the contrary outweighs any authority, regardless of reputation or the number of followers or advocates. In modern science, argument by appeal to authority has little value. Scientists must accept their experimental findings even when they would like them to be different. They must strive to distinguish between what they see and what they wish to see, for scientists, like most people, have a vast capacity for fooling themselves. ... In your education it is not enough to be aware that other people may try to fool you; it is more important to be aware of your own tendency to fool yourself." (Hewitt P.G., "Conceptual Physics," Addison Wesley Longman: Reading MA, Eighth Edition, 1998, p.9) 18/9/2004 "Scientists give the title law to certain concise but general statements about how nature behaves (that momentum is conserved, for example). Sometimes the statement takes the form of a relationship or equation between quantities (such as Einstein's famous equation, E = mc^2). To be called a law, a statement must be found experimentally valid over a wide range of observed phenomena. In a sense, the law brings a unity to many observations. For less general statements, the term principle is often used (such as Archimedes' principle). Where to draw the line between laws and principles is, of course, arbitrary, and there is not always complete consistency. Scientific laws are different from political laws in that the latter are prescriptive: they tell us how we must behave. Scientific laws are descriptive: they do not say how nature should behave, but rather describe how nature does behave. As with theories, laws cannot be tested in the infinite variety of cases possible. So we cannot be sure that any law is absolutely true, We use the term "law" when its validity has been tested over a wide range of cases, and when any limitations and the range of validity are clearly understood. Even then, as new information comes in, certain laws may have to be modified or discarded. Scientists normally do their work as if the accepted laws and theories were true. But they are obliged to keep an open mind in case new information should alter the validity of any given law or theory." (Giancoli, D.C, "Physics: Principles with Applications," , Prentice Hall: New Jersey NJ, Third Edition, 1991, pp.6-7. Emphasis in original) 18/9/2004 "After earning degrees from Harvard and the University of Chicago, O'Keefe went on to become a renowned astronomer and pioneer in space research. The late Eugene Shoemaker called him "the godfather of astrogeology." He was awarded many honors, including the Goddard Space Flight Center's highest award, and is credited with numerous breakthrough discoveries in his scientific research at NASA. It was the discoveries of astronomy that bolstered O'Keefe's faith in God. He once ran calculations estimating the likelihood of the right conditions for life existing elsewhere. He concluded that if his assumptions were correct, then based on the mathematical probabilities "only one planet in the universe is likely to bear intelligent life. We know of one-the Earth-but it is not certain that there are many others, and perhaps there are no others." [John A. O'Keefe, "The Theological Impact of the New Cosmology" in: Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (New York: W. W. Norton, 1992), 122.] ... it was the sheer improbability of the coincidences that conspired to create life on Earth that led O'Keefe to this conclusion: `We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cossetted, cherished group of creatures; our Darwinian claim to have done it all ourselves is as ridiculous and as charming as a baby's brave efforts to stand on its own feet and refuse his mother's hand. If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.' [John A. OKeefe, "The Theological Impact of the New Cosmology," in Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 118 (emphasis added).]" (Gonzalez G.* & Richards J.W.*, "The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed For Discovery," Regnery: Washington DC, 2004, p.191) 18/9/2004 "Is there any room in this vast Universe of intelligent beings for the belief that God has chosen our planet to be the sole or even the primary object of His concern? The validity of the question depends upon our acceptance of the notion that intelligent life is common in the Universe. For my part, I am not so sure that intelligent life exists on other planets. The basic argument for this view is that each star offers life an opportunity, and there are 10^22 (ten thousand million million million) stars and planets in the observable universe. Even if the chance of life evolving is as small as, say, one in a million, still there must be millions upon millions of inhabited planets in the Universe. Suppose, however, that twenty-two separate conditions must be met for intelligent life: the star must be single, it must produce visible and ultraviolet light; its planet must have an atmosphere that transmits light but not X rays or extreme ultraviolet; there must be liquid water, there must be carbon; the star must live a long time; its output of energy must not vary rapidly; the planet must be in a suitable zone of distances from its star, it must have land as well as water; it must not suffer excessive and prolonged bombardment by meteorites; and so on. These conditions would not be satisfied on every planet in the Universe. If each were satisfied on only 1 planet in 10, which is not an unreasonable estimate, then if the requirement; are really separate, the chance of finding a planet with all 22 conditions satisfied simultaneously would be one tenth multiplied by itself twenty-two times, or 1/10^22. This would mean that only one planet in the Universe is likely to bear intelligent life. We know of one- the earth-but it is not certain that there are many others, and perhaps there are no others." (O'Keefe J.A.*, "The Theological Impact of the New Cosmology," in Jastrow R., "God and the Astronomers," , W.W. Norton: New York NY, Second Edition, 1992, pp.122-23) 19/9/2004 "As to assertions without adequate evidence, the literature of science is filled with them, especially the literature of popular science writing. Carl Sagan's list of the `best contemporary science-popularizers' includes E.O. Wilson, Lewis Thomas, and Richard Dawkins, each of whom has put unsubstantiated assertions or counterfactual claims at the very center of the stories they have retailed in the market. Wilson's Sociobiology and On Human Nature rest on the surface of a quaking marsh of unsupported claims about the genetic determination of everything from altruism to xenophobia. Dawkins's vulgarizations of Darwinism speak of nothing in evolution but an inexorable ascendancy of genes that are selectively superior, while the entire body of technical advance in experimental and theoretical evolutionary genetics of the last fifty years has moved in the direction of emphasizing non-selective forces in evolution." (Lewontin R., "Billions and Billions of Demons", review of "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" by Carl Sagan, New York Review, January 9, 1997, pp.28-32, pp.30-31) 21/9/2004 "Gonzalez's explanation made me wonder about the suitability of other places to harbor intelligent life. I knew that there are three basic types of galaxies in our universe. First, there are spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way. These are dominated by a central spherical bulge and a disk with `spiral arms' extending outward from the nucleus in a spiral pattern, resembling a celestial pinwheel. Second, there are elliptical galaxies, which are sort of egg-shaped. And, third, there are irregular galaxies, which appear disorganized and distorted. I asked Gonzalez to assess the life-bearing potential of each one. `Certainly, our type of galaxy optimizes habitability, because it provides safe zones,' he said, his tone professorial. `And Earth happens to be located in a safe area, which is why life has been able to flourish here. `You see, galaxies have varying degrees of star formation, where interstellar gases coalesce to form stars, star clusters, and massive stars that blow up as supernovae. Places with active star formation are very dangerous, because that's where you have supernovae exploding at a fairly high rate. In our galaxy, those dangerous places are primarily in the spiral arms, where there are also hazardous giant molecular clouds. Fortunately, though, we happen to be situated safely between the Sagittarius and Perseus spiral arms. `Also, we're very far from the nucleus of the galaxy, which is also a dangerous place. We now know that there's a massive black hole at the center of our galaxy. In fact, the Hubble space telescope has found that nearly every large nearby galaxy has a giant black hole at its nucleus. And believe me-these are dangerous things! `Most black holes, at any given time, are inactive. But whenever anything gets near or falls into one, it gets torn up by the strong tidal forces. Lots of high energy is released- gamma rays, X-rays, particle radiation-and anything in the inner region of the galaxy would be subjected to high radiation levels. That's very dangerous for life forms. The center of the galaxy is also dangerous because there are more supernovae exploding in that region. `One more thing: the composition of a spiral galaxy changes as you go out from the center. The abundance of heavy elements is greater towards the center, because that's where star formation has been more vigorous over the history of the galaxy. So it has been able to cook the hydrogen and helium into heavy elements more quickly, whereas in the outer disk of the galaxy, star formation has been going on more slowly over the years and so the abundance of heavy elements isn't quite as high. Consequently, the outer regions of the disk are less likely to have Earth-type planets. `Now, put all of this together-the inner region of the galaxy is much more dangerous from radiation and other threats; the outer part of the galaxy isn't going to be able to form Earth-like planets because the heavy elements are not abundant enough; and I haven't even mentioned how the thin disk of our galaxy helps our sun stay in its desirable circular orbit. A very eccentric orbit could cause it to cross spiral arms and visit the dangerous inner regions of the galaxy, but being circular it remains in the safe zone. `All of this,' he said, his voice sounding a bit triumphant, `works together to create a narrow safe zone where lifesustaining planets are possible.' ... Suddenly, the Earth was sounding pretty special, nestled as it is in i sliver of space that gives it safe haven from the other-wise menacing conditions of the Milky Way- But what about other types of galaxies? Might they also provide threat-free neighborhoods for life- populated planets? `What about elliptical galaxies?' I asked Gonzalez. `Do they have the potential to harbor life?' `Elliptical galaxies look amorphous and are sort of egg-shaped, with stars having very random orbits, like bees swarming a beehive, he explained. `The problem for life in these galaxies is that the stars visit every region, which means they'll occasionally visit the dangerous, dense inner regions, where a black hole may be active. In any event, you're less likely to find Earth-like planets in elliptical galaxies because most of them lack the heavy elements needed to form them.' This was an important point, because I knew that most galaxies fall into the elliptical category. `Most elliptical galaxies are less massive and luminous than our galaxy,' Gonzalez continued. `Our galaxy is on the top one or two percent of the most massive and luminous. The bigger the galaxy, the more heavy elements it can have, because its stronger gravity can attract more hydrogen and helium and cycle them to build heavy elements. In the lowmass galaxies, which make up the vast majority, you can have whole galaxies without a single Earth-like planet. They just don't have enough of the heavy elements to construct Earths. Just like a globular cluster-you can have a whole globular cluster with hundreds of thousands of stars, and yet there won't be a single Earth. `If you look at the deepest pictures ever taken by the Hubble Spice Telescope, they show literally thousands of galaxies when the universe was really young. People have commented, 'Wow, look at all those galaxies! I wonder how many civilizations there are looking back at us?' In that picture, I'd say zero. Thousands and thousands and thousands of galaxies-but zero Earths, because the heavier elements haven't built up enough yet.' Richards interrupted to say, `Of course, we're not looking at these galaxies as they exist now; we're looking back in time, say, nine billion years ago. It's possible that some of those galaxies are now at the state where the Milky Way is. We don't know for sure.' `But,' added Gonzalez, `this was back when it was much more dangerous, because it's the era of quasars, supernovae going off, and black holes. Even if you had a few regions in the galaxy where there were sufficient heavy elements to build Earths, they would have been so irradiated that life wouldn't be possible.' With elliptical galaxies being unlikely sites for budding civilizations, I turned to the last category of galaxy, called irregulars. `What's their potential for life?' I asked. `Like the ellipticals, they also don't provide a safe harbor. In fact, they're worse. They're distorted and ripped apart, with supernovae going off throughout their volume. There are no safe places where there are fewer supernovae exploding, like we have between our spiral arms. `In fact, astronomers keep finding new threats to life. For example, we're learning more about gamma ray bursts, which are more powerful than a supernova. If one of these goes off near you, the lights go out. So the probability for there being civilizations elsewhere actually keeps declining as we learn about the new threats that we didn't know about before.' `What's your opinion, then, about where Earth is located in the universe?' I asked. `In terms of habitability, I think we are in the best possible place,' Gonzalez said. `That's because our location provides enough building blocks to yield an Earth, while providing a low level of threats to life. I really can't come up with an example of another place in the galaxy that is as friendly to life as our location. Sometimes people claim you can be in any part of any galaxy. Well, I've studied other regions-spiral arms, galactic centers, globular clusters, edge of disks-and no matter where it is, it's worse for life. I can't think of any better place than where we are.' `That's ironic,' I said. `It's the reverse of the Copernican Principle.'" (Gonzalez G.* & Richards J.W.*, "The Evidence of Astronomy," in Strobel L.P.*, "The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence that Points Toward God." Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 2004, p, pp.169-171. Emphasis in original) 21/9/2004 "Lastly, you refer repeatedly to my view as a modification of Lamarck's doctrine of development and progression. If this is your deliberate opinion there is nothing to be said, but it does not seem so to me. Plato, Buffon, my grandfather before Lamarck, and others, propounded the obvious views that if species were not created separately they must have descended from other species, and I can see nothing else in common between the 'Origin' and Lamarck." (Darwin C.R., letter to Charles Lyell, 12 March, 1863, in Darwin F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, pp.198-199. Emphasis in original) 23/9/2004 "Intelligent life not only needs to be based on a liquid, it probably needs to be based on liquid water. On Earth, water is literally the molecule of life, comprising 70 percent of a cell's mass. There are good reasons to think this will be true elsewhere. Water is the most abundant molecule in the universe likely to be found in a liquid state and it has a wonderful ability to dissolve inorganic chemicals so living organisms can use them. Other liquids, such as ammonia, don't share water's versatility. It's no coincidence that the only body in the solar system with liquid water on its surface-Earth-is the only known life-bearing world. Some life-forms in the universe might be based on other liquids, but most biologists think the ones most likely to evolve high intelligence will be based on water. This establishes a rather stringent requirement for intelligent life: It needs a stable temperature for billions of years so water can remain in a liquid state." (Naeye R., "OK, Where Are They?," Astronomy, July 1996, Vol. 24, No. 7, pp.36-43, p.39) 24/9/2004 "Thus far we have spoken of the Divine side of Christ's nature, but we should realize that the physical and spiritual, the human and divine, are not in two watertight compartments. The human side is given more fully by Luke and Matthew. Within the Virgin, the ovum to be fertilized would contain the usual 23 chromosomes there in DNA code would be recorded already an inheritance reaching back to David, Abraham and Eve, with cellular instructions shared with the whole of mankind. Luke therefore records the genealogy of Mary back to Adam. There are those who have asked whether the Virgin birth may not have been due to parthenogenesis. This refers to a freak case of an ovum being triggered off into separate development. This suggestion does not meet the requirements either of the Incarnation or of biology. If such a child had been born of the Virgin Mary, it could only have been a girl, for no `Y' chromosome would have been available. Also the child would have genetic material only of Mary's descent, so it would not be a true incarnation - a complete fusion of the two natures into one. Also, the question of parthenogenesis appears to be ruled out by the statement in a number of places that the Virgin did conceive, but it was without any human male union. It was by the Holy Spirit, and that would be why God is referred to as the Father, and Jesus as the Son of God, and why He is stated to be born holy (Luke 1:35; Matt. 1:20, 25; John 1:14). Our knowledge that a foetus receives a complete set of 23 chromosomes from each of its parents gives insight into the oneness of Christ's nature. Those of Divine origin and those of the Virgin would pair and fuse (in the sense of producing gametes), resulting in the one personality, fully divine, fully human, without sin. This insight into the possible mechanics of the Incarnation is a reply to those who contend that the incarnation of the Lord is scientifically impossible. It is also a help in the difficulties which some in the early centuries and the middle ages had in their speculations on how two natures could become one. Modern genetics reveal that the alleles from both parents make one person at conception. The statement `That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit', shows how God was the Father and the Virgin Mary the mother. Also, the fact that DNA is a code demonstrates how the speech, or `Word', of God, recorded upon the nucleic acids, would form the real genetic contribution from the Divine side. We see how that Christ was fully and truly man, and yet not two natures, but God-man, not God and man, thus illustrating physically what had been arrived at theologically by earlier divines. Yet ultimately our only authoritative source for the doctrine of the Incarnation is still the revelation of God in Holy Scripture. We could not discover such things through the medium of science, but having received the revelation of God, we can note that increasing discoveries in science do show how it could come about, and justify the terms of reference, hitherto not fully understood by us, which God's revelation uses." (Pearce E.K.V.*, "Who Was Adam?" Paternoster: Exeter UK, 1969, pp.139-140) 25/9/2004 "Virgin Birth of Christ. The virgin birth of Christ is the perennial target of naturalistic Bible critics.... One reason for the vehemence of these pronouncements is that, if true, the virgin birth establishes beyond question the life of Jesus as a supernatural intervention of God. If antisupernaturalists concede at this point, they have no case left." (Geisler N.L.*, "Virgin Birth of Christ," in "Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics," Baker Books: Grand Rapids MI, 1999, p.759) 26/9/2004 "non-contradiction, law of in classical logic, the principle that contradictories cannot be true together and cannot be false together. In modern logic, the principle that no statement of the form (p and not-p) can be true." (Mautner T., "The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy," , Penguin: London, Revised, 2000, p.390) 26/9/2004 "non-contradiction, principle (or law) of The law of logic that it is not the case that (p & not-p). *Contradiction is the final logical stopping-point: if we can derive a contradiction from a set of premises, then at least one of them is false (see reductio ad absurdum). If we ask what is so bad about contradiction, one answer is that a contradiction cannot be true (classically, if one conjunct p is true, then the other not-p is false, and vice versa, so they cannot be true together; see also negation)." (Blackburn S., "The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy," , Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1996, p.264) 26/9/2004 "principle of contradiction, also called principle of non- contradiction, the principle that a statement and its negation cannot both be true. It can be distinguished from the principle of bivalence, and given certain controversial assumptions, from the principle of excluded middle; but in truth-functional logic all three are regarded as equivalent. Outside of formal logic the principle of (non-) contradiction is best expressed as Aristotle expresses it: "Nothing can both be and not be at the same time in the same respect." (Purtill R., "principle of contradiction," in Audi R., ed., "The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1996, reprint, p.644) 27/9/2004 Mt 18:23-35  "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.  Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.'  The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.  "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.  "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'  "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.  "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'  In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." 28/9/2004 "If there is no natural selection, therefore, we might expect that there would be no evolution. Conversely, strong 'selection pressure', we could be forgiven for thinking, might be expected to lead to rapid evolution. Instead, what we find is that natural selection exerts a braking effect on evolution. The baseline rate of evolution, in the absence of natural selection, is the maximum possible rate. That is synonymous with the mutation rate. This isn't really paradoxical. When we think about it carefully, we see that it couldn't be otherwise. Evolution by natural selection could not be faster than the mutation rate, for mutation is, ultimately, the only way in which new variation enters the species. All that natural selection can do is accept certain new variations, and reject others. The mutation rate is bound to place an upper limit on the rate at which evolution can proceed. As a matter of fact, most of natural selection is concerned with preventing evolutionary change rather than with driving it." (Dawkins R., "The Blind Watchmaker," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.125) 28/9/2004 "The fossil record (and this has been known to paleontologists ever since Darwin's day) clearly shows that, once they first show up, species usually don't change much at all. Species vary a bit as they go through time, but rarely do they show the kind of protracted change that some evolutionists, from Darwin to the present time, seem to think they ought to show. Natural selection is indeed a strong force. But, for the most part, it is a conservative one: As organisms chase suitable habitats around as the environment changes, they survive just fine pretty much in the state their ancestors were in originally." (Eldredge N., "The Miner's Canary: Unravelling the Mysteries of Extinction," , Virgin Books: London, 1992, reprint, p.11. Emphasis in original) 28/9/2004 "Natural selection ... plays a conservative rather than an innovating role. The mutations which diverge from the wild type or from the privileged genotype are swept away when the environment changes; hence the stability of the species. Panchronic species [living fossils], which like other species are subject to the assaults of mutations remain unchanged. Their variants are eliminated except possibly for neutral mutants. In any event, their stability is an observed fact and not a theoretical concept." (Grasse P.-P., "Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation," , Academic Press: New York NY, 1977, p.87) 28/9/2004 "As pointed out by Haldane ([Haldane J.B.S, "Natural Selection," in Bell P.R., ed., "Darwin's Biological Work," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1959, p.117-124]), elimination of deviants to keep the status quo (in the form of "centripetal selection") is the most common type of natural selection. Also a remarkably conservative nature of natural selection has been brought to light by Ohno ([Ohno S., "Evolution by Gene Duplication," Springer-Verlag: Berlin, 1970]) in his discussion on the role of gene duplication in evolution. What has been revealed by recent studies of molecular evolution is again the prevalence of this type of natural selection." (Kimura M., "Population Genetics and Molecular Evolution," The Johns Hopkins Medical Journal, Vol. 138, No. 6, June 1976, p.260) 28/9/2004 "This is an example of centripetal phenotypic selection, a weeding out cf extremes. ... There are enough similar examples to show that centripetal selection is of very general occurrence. If this fact had been discovered about 1860 we can imagine some of Darwin's opponents writing as follows: `In view of Weldon and Rendel's findings Mr Darwin's absurd speculations may now be relegated to the obscurity from which they should never have emerged. He postulated the existence of natural selection to account for the evolution in whose existence he believed. He doubtless deserved some credit for stimulating others to carry out accurate measurements. Natural selection was in fact found to occur. But so far from causing species to change, it actually prevents such change. Not only does it preserve the type of a species by eliminating deviants. It eliminates hybrids between species, which, if they are not too weak to be capable of development, are sterile." (Haldane J.B.S., "Natural Selection," in Bell P.R., ed., "Darwin's Biological Work: Some Aspects Reconsidered," , John Wiley & Sons: New York NY, 1964, reprint, pp.123-124) 28/9/2004 "One reason why there was so much emphasis upon this teaching which is mentioned only twice in Scripture is that there were shifting conceptions of various other doctrines. One of the tendencies of the liberals was to redefine doctrines without changing the terminology. John Randall, Jr., has referred to the virtual dishonesty of such a practice. As a result of the practice of redefining various doctrines without changing the terminology, subscription to those doctrines was no longer positive proof of orthodoxy. Thus it was no longer possible to assume that what a theologian meant by the `divinity' or `deity' of Christ was a qualitative uniqueness distinguishing him from other humans. We mentioned in chapter 14 the case of W Robertson Smith, who, when accused of denying the divinity of Christ, reportedly said, `How can they accuse me of that? I've never denied the divinity of any man, let alone Jesus! ` In the face of such views, assent to the doctrine of Jesus' deity did not necessarily entail the traditional meaning: that Jesus was divine in the same sense and to the same degree as the Father, and in a way that is not true of any other person who has ever lived. Thus, not surprisingly, the deity of Christ does not appear in some lists of the fundamentals of orthodoxy. Instead, the bodily resurrection and the virgin birth are to be found there. The fundamentalists reasoned that if one could subscribe to the virgin birth, it probably was not necessary to inquire into his position on the other evidences of Jesus' deity, as these are generally less difficult to accept than the virgin birth. That is why one's position on the virgin birth became asked of candidates for ordination, for it was a relatively quick and efficient way of determining whether they held Christ to be supernatural. There was an even larger issue here, however. For the virgin birth became a test of one's position on the miraculous. If one could subscribe to the virgin birth, he probably could accept the other miracles reported in the Bible. Thus, this became a convenient way of determining one's attitude toward the supernatural in general. But even beyond that, it was a test of one's world-view, and specifically of one's view of God's relationship to the world." (Erickson M.J.*, "Christian Theology," , Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1988, Fifth Printing, pp.740-741) 28/9/2004 "Therefore, even though He [Jesus] was nurtured in Mary's womb for nine months and born without her ever knowing a man, it was also necessary for all this to have been preceded by supernatural intervention, to prevent His receiving any actual genetic inheritance through her. The body growing in Mary's womb must have been specially created in full perfection, and placed there by the Holy Spirit, in order for it to be free of inherent sin damage. Christ would still be `made of the seed of David according to the flesh' (Romans 1:3), because His body was nurtured and born of Mary, who was herself of the seed of David. He would still be the Son of Man, sharing all universal human experience from conception to death, except sin. He is truly `the seed of the woman' (Genesis 3:15), His body formed neither of the seed of the man nor the egg of the woman, but grown from a unique Seed planted in the woman's body by God Himself. That is, God directly formed a body for the second Adam just as He had for the first Adam (Genesis 2:7). This was nothing less than a miracle of creation, capable of accomplishment only by the Creator Himself. `That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God' (Luke 1:35). Surely God would devote no more attention to the design and construction of the body of `the first man, of the earth, earthy' than He would to that of `the second man, the Lord from heaven' (I Corinthians 15:47)!." (Morris H.M.*, "Creation and the Virgin Birth," Impact No. 30, Institute for Creation Research: El Cajon CA, 1975. http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-030.htm. Emphasis in orignal) 28/9/2004 "The solar system is particularly rich in clues relating to how the sun and its planets formed. Consider the relative sizes of the planets. Near the sun orbit the rocky worlds Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Farther out lie the gas giants, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Each giant consists of a rocky core wrapped in ice and cold gas. Then, beyond Pluto-a maverick planet whose eccentric orbit carries it both inside that of Neptune (where it is now) and beyond-is the realm of the comets, which are made of ice and snow and rocky debris. So if we place the solar system's constituents side by side, as in a police lineup, we find first a zone of small, rocky planets; then a domain of cold, gas- enshrouded giants; then a still colder sphere of icy comets. ... The answer preferred by astronomers today consists of an updated version of the nebular hypothesis, in which the planets are said to have coagulated from a disk of dust and gas that originally circled the young sun. This account explains why the planets all orbit the sun in the same direction ... this and several other regularities in solar system dynamics suggested that the planets had emerged from a whirling disk or whirlpool. The Kant-Laplace nebular hypothesis ruled nineteenth-century cosmogony (the science of cosmic origins) and formed part of an evolutionary outlook that portrayed the solar system as striving, in Kant's words, `to evolve itself out of the crude state of chaos.' ... But while focusing on regularities in the solar system, the nebular hypothesis in its original form failed to explain several irregularities. Why, for instance, do some planets (and some of their satellites) revolve the wrong way on their axes? Why do some planets have a tilted axis of rotation? These exceptions to the rule loomed larger as astronomers learned more about the planets in detail, and an updated and strenuously revised nebular account resulted." (Ferris T., "The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-niverse(s) Report," Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, 1997, pp.176-80) 28/9/2004 "The modern version retains the original disk of gas and dust, but emphasizes the role of the dust. Here is one of nature's more dramatic examples of great things arising from humble beginnings. As the theory has it (and it is by far the most rigorous account of planetary formation yet devised), every planet, including Earth, began as a microscopic grain of dust in the nebula from which the sun formed. By the time the protosolar disk formed, this grain had been joined by others, stuck together by electrostatic force into a clump the size of a medicine ball. Differences in the orbital speeds of such objects in the disk resulted in gentle collisions that built the ball up to about a mile in diameter. It now ranked as one among millions of planetesimals, objects massive enough to begin attracting one another gravitationally rather than meeting by chance. There ensued an epoch of titanic collisions, during which planetesimals that were struck at high velocities shattered, while those subjected to gentler impacts survived and grew. The rule of thumb is that a planetesimal hit at a speed faster than its escape velocity will be destroyed, the resulting debris flying away too fast for the local gravitational field to halt its escape, while those that happened to be hit at lower velocities will capture their assailants and thus gain mass. This in turn endows them with a higher escape velocity, making them more likely to survive-an instance of the rich getting richer ... This all took place quickly, by astronomical standards. The first three acts-from micron-size dust grains to medicine balls; from there to mile-wide planetesimals; and from planetesimals to protoplanets a few hundred miles in diameter-took only about ten thousand years each. It was, however, efficient, and by the end of Act III the protoplanets' orbits had been swept clean. The fourth act, which would merge these objects into full-fledged planets, required that some be tugged by gravitational interaction into orbits that were more elliptical, promoting collisions. This took longer-more than 10 million years. The results were worth waiting for: The construction of the solar system climaxed in a dramatic epoch when worlds collided, some of them shattering into debris, others combining to form the sun's permanent planets. With lots of leftover scraps of rock and ice around, episodes of bombardment persisted for hundreds of millions of years thereafter, scarring the planets but seldom threatening their existence. The interplanetary hailstorm climaxed with the `late terminal bombardment,' when leftover planetesimals, their orbital velocities braked by the solar wind, came spiraling down to pelt the planets of the inner solar system. On Earth, where the oldest surface rocks date back only 3.8 billion years, the great majority of the resulting craters were erased long ago by erosion, but craters on the airless and geologically inert moon still bear witness to the troubled times of old. ... Much of all the smashing and bashing transpired in a wider context of equally spectacular violence, with the furiously burning sun ejecting white plasma jets from its poles and sending gale-force solar winds screaming across a disk peppered with lightning bolts. This suggests why the outer planets retain lots of ice and light gas while the inner planets do not. Near the young sun, the heat and solar winds melted ice and stripped away hydrogen and other light gases. Out at Jupiter, where the sun casts only one twenty-fifth as much warmth as at the earth, the planets could retain their primordial gas-ice, too, as we see with the ice palaces of the Jovian moons. Jupiter's satellite Callisto is as large as Mercury, yet less than a third as massive; the reason is that while Mercury is made of iron and rock, Callisto is half ice. Ice becomes ever more dominant out to Pluto and into the realm of the comets, where the sun is so distant that it looks like not much more than a particularly brilliant star. Had comets not ferried ice to Earth-our `baked' little planet, as Newton called it-we might have had no oceans. And without organic molecules contributed by the comets, the earth might have remained devoid of life. So comets may well have given Earth life, as subsequently they were to take so much of it away. ...The planetesimal model cracked the puzzle of how the sun's planets rotate. Most, the earth included, spin on their axes in the same direction-counterclockwise as viewed from the north. But Venus spins clockwise. So does Pluto. And Uranus is unique: Its north pole is tilted more than 90 degrees, right through the plane of its orbit. The planetesimal theory accounts for these anomalies by proposing that Venus, Pluto, and Uranus were struck, during the late- bombardment epoch, by objects that knocked them over or reversed their directions of rotation. ..." (Ferris T., "The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report," Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, 1997, pp.176-180) 28/9/2004 "One reason laws play little or no role in many historical explanations is that many particular events come into existence via a series of events that will not regularly reoccur. In such cases laws are not relevant to explaining the contrast between the event that has occurred and what could have or might have ordinarily been expected to occur. For example, a historical geologist seeking to explain the unusual height of the Himalayas will cite particular antecedent factors that were present in the case of the Himalayan orogeny but were absent in other mountain-building episodes. Knowing the laws of geophysics relevant to mountain-building generally will aid the geologist very little in accounting for the contrast between the Himalayan and other orogenies, since such laws would presumably apply to all mountain-building episodes. What the geologist needs in the search for an explanation in this case is not knowledge of a general law but evidence of a unique or distinctive set of past conditions. Thus geologists have typically explained the unique height of the Himalayas by reference to the past position of the Indian and Asian land masses (and plates) and the subsequent collision that occurred between them. ... The law `Oxygen is necessary to combustion' does not explain why a particular building burned down at a particular place and time. To explain such a particular fact requires knowing something about the situation just before the fire occurred. It does little good to know scientific laws; what one requires is information concerning, for example, the presence of an arsonist or the lack of security at the building or the absence of a sprinkler system. Thus Alston concludes that to equate a law with an explanation or cause `is to commit a 'category mistake' of the most flagrant sort.'" (Meyer S.C.*, "The Methodological Equivalence of Design & Descent: Can There be a Scientific `Theory of Creation'?," in Moreland J.P. ed., "The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1994, pp.79-80) 28/9/2004 "The Moon Miracle. The solution to this mystery apparently lies with Earth's moon. Most moons in our solar system are formed from the same solar disk material that generated the planets. As such, they are relatively small compared to their planets. A few moons orbiting the outer planets are foreign bodies that have been captured. Earth's moon, however, is the exception. It orbits a planet that is close to the sun, and it is huge compared to its planet. The moon is younger than Earth. According to the Apollo lunar rock samples, it is only 4.25 billion years old, compared to Earth's 4.59 billion years. The same lunar rocks gathered by Apollo astronauts tell us that the moon's crust is chemically distinct from Earth's. Its distinct chemical makeup and its younger age establish that the moon and Earth did not form together. Astronomers have seen and measured the moon's slow and steady spiraling away from Earth and the slowing of Earth's rotation. Their calculations suggest that the moon was in contact or near contact with Earth about 4.25 billion years ago. This implies some kind of collision or near collision at that time. Only one collision scenario fits all the observed Earth-moon parameters and dynamics: a body at least the size of Mars (nine times the mass of the moon and one-ninth the mass of Earth), possibly twice as large, made a nearly head-on hit and was absorbed, for the most part, into Earth's core. Such a collision would have blasted almost all of Earth's original atmosphere into outer space. The shell, or cloud of debris, arising from the collision would orbit Earth and eventually coalesce to form our moon. This remarkable event, if it occurred as the evidence indicates, delivered Earth from a life-suffocating atmosphere and produced a replacement atmosphere thin enough and of the right chemical composition to permit the passage of light to Earth's surface It increased the mass and density of Earth enough to retain (by gravity a large quantity of water vapor (molecular weight 18) for billions of years, but not so high as to keep life-threatening quantities of ammonia (molecular weight, 17) and methane(molecular weight, 16). It so elevated the iron content of Earth's crust as to permit a huge abundance of ocean life (the quantity of iron, a critical nutrient, determines the abundance and diversity of marine algae, which form the base of the food chain for all ocean life), which in turn permits advanced land life. It played a significant role in salting Earth's crust with a huge abundance of radioisotopes, the heat from which drives most of Earth's exceptionally high rates of tectonics and vulcanism. 19 (Heavy elements from the body colliding with Earth were largely transferred to Earth whereas the light elements were either dissipated to the interplanetary medium or transferred to the cloud that would eventually form the moon.) It gradually slowed Earth's rotation rate so that a wide variety of lower life-forms could survive long enough to sustain the existence of advanced life-forms, which required still slower rotation rates. It stabilized the tilt of Earth's rotation axis, protecting the planet from life-extinguishing climatic extremes. In summary, this amazing collision, for which we have an abundance of circumstantial evidence, appears to have been perfectly timed and designed to transform Earth from a formless and empty" place into a site where life could survive and thrive. In fact, the number of conditions that must be fine-tuned-and the degree of finetuning needed for each of these conditions-for life to possibly survive that is manifested in this single event argues powerfully on its own for a divine Creator. Even if the universe contains as many as 10 billion trillion (10^22) planets, we would not expect even ones by natural processes alone. to end up with the surface gravity, surface temperature, atmospheric composition, atmospheric pressure, crustal iron abundance, tectonics, vulcanism, rotation rate, rate of decline in rotation rate, and stable rotation axis tilt necessary for the support of life. To those who express the desire to see a miracle, we can assure them they are looking at one whenever they gaze up at the moon." (Ross H.N.*, "The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis," NavPress: Colorado Springs CO, 1998, pp.31-33) 29/9/2004 "When above the heavens had not [yet] been named, [And] below the earth had not [yet] existed as such, [When] only Apsu primeval, their begetter, [existed], [And] mother [mummu] Tiamat, who gave birth to them all; [When] their waters [yet] intermingled, And] no dry land had been formed [and] not [Even] a marsh could be seen; When none of the gods had been brought forth, Then were the gods created in the midst of them [Apsu and Tiamat] . Lahmu and Lahamu [deities] they [Apsu and Tiamat] begat. ... Tiamat and Marduk, the wisest of the gods, took their stands opposite each other, They pressed on to the battle, they drew near in combat. The lord spread out his net and enmeshed her, The evil wind, following after, he let loose in her face. When Tiamat opened her mouth to devour him, He drove in the evil wind, so that she could not close her lips. As the raging winds filled her belly, Her belly was distended, and she opened wide her mouth, He shot off an arrow, it tore her belly, It cut through her vitals, it pierced [her] heart. When he had subdued her, he destroyed her life. He cast down her carcass [and] stood upon it. The lord rested, to look at her dead body, to see] How he might divide the colossus [and] create wondrous things [therewith] . He split her open like a mussel into two parts; Half of her he set in place and formed the sky, He fixed the bar and posted guards." (Unger M.F., "Archaeology and the Old Testament," , Pickering & Inglis: London, 1964, pp.28-29). 29/9/2004 "IF WE WERE TO Express in a single word the principal liability of the prescientific philosophies of nature-if, to put it another way, we were to name the one among their shortcomings that science has done the most to repair-I think it would be that they presumed that the universe was static. Many thinkers dismissed change as an illusion. In this view, the manifestations of time-'the moving image of eternity,' as Plato called it-are noise, while what matters, the signal, is the invariant hum of eternal stasis. Others admitted that change occurs, but regarded it as trivial. They held that time moves in cycles, so that events, though they may seem unique and important from our limited point of view, are in the long run destined to repeat themselves, tracing out endless orbits of fatalistic destiny. ... Even the vast timescapes of Hindu belief, often invoked by science writers as foreshadowing today's astronomical figures ... amount to little more than fitting larger cogs to the same old mechanism of eternal return. ... Change occurs in the universe, but in the end amounts to nothing important, and the overall picture remains the same. The gods are said to look pityingly on humans naive enough to imagine that there is such a thing as progress or that anything is really altered by the fall of a city or the composition of a poem. ... The major exceptions to the prevalent denigration of time were found in Judeo-Christian theology. The Jews of old obstinately refused to dismiss time as an illusion. On the contrary, they made much of it. The Hebrew account of Genesis is wholly timebound. It ticks like a clock from the seven-day creation of the world to the unfolding of human generations. ... Christians adopted a similar outlook, depicting history as a story in which historical events such as the birth of Jesus made important and lasting changes in the world. This was so marked a departure from Greek thought that in the year 1215, when the works of Aristotle had risen over Europe like a second sun, the Fourth Lateran Council found it advisable to denounce Aristotle's belief that the universe is infinitely old and to affirm that, for Christians, the universe had a beginning in time and was moving through a series of unique - not eternally recurring-events. Modern scholars miss the point when they poke fun at James Ussher, the seventeenth-century Irish bishop who counted up the `begats' and concluded that `the beginning of time ... fell on the beginning of the night which preceded the 23rd day of October, in the year ... 4004 B.C.' What matters is not that Ussher's figures were wrong -after all, he was off by only a factor of a million, which was not all that bad by cosmological standardsbut that he thought of time as having had a beginning, and of the world as unfolding in unexpected ways, like a play. The influence of Christianity on scientific thought constitutes an embarrassment for scientists who recall that Christians persecuted Galileo and scoffed at Darwin, and who are understandably reluctant to entangle science and religion today. But it deserves to be kept in mind, if only as an antidote to the vulgar and vigorous tendency to paint history in stark monotones of heroism and villainy." (Ferris T., "The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report," Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, 1997, pp.170-172) 30/9/2004 "We modern folk are quite educated about our physical universe. At the mention of the word `heaven' we can picture or imagine planets, comets, black holes, supernovas, dark matter, galaxies, and the like. The Hebrew shepherd of 3,000 years ago saw a bright sun in the daytime and twinkling pinpoints of light, accompanied by a moon at night. His `heaven,' in the natural sense, was merely our `sky.' This globe is decorated with continents, oceans, islands, and ice caps, but these would be as foreign to that Hebrew shepherd for the word he knew as `earth' as it would be if we tried to foist our known universe on him as `heaven.' The `earth' was all the land he could see from horizon to horizon, plus whatever distant lands he may have heard about, nothing more. `Heaven' and `earth' are correct words, there is nothing wrong with them, but the very first sentence of the Bible can set us up for error if we are not cautious. We need to pause and reflect on a context quite ancient. " (Fischer, D.*, "The Origins Solution: An Answer in the Creation-Evolution Debate," Fairway Press: Lima OH, 1996, p.166) 30/9/2004 "The literary interpretation takes the form of the week attributed to the work of creation to be an artistic arrangement, a modest example of anthropomorphism that is not to be taken literally. The author's intention is not to supply us with a chronology of origins. It is possible that the logical order he has chosen coincides broadly with the actual sequence of the facts of cosmogony; but that does not interest him. He wishes to bring out certain themes and provide a theology of the sabbath. The text is composed as the author meditates on the finished work so that we may understand how the creation is related to God and what is its significance for mankind. This hypothesis overcomes a number of problems that plagued the commentators. It recognizes ordinary days but takes them in the context of one large figurative whole; the differences in order between the two 'tablets' no longer cause difficulties neither does the delay in the creation of the stars, nor does the confrontation with the scientific vision of the most distant past. So great is the advantage, and for some the relief, that it could constitute a temptation. We must not espouse the theory on the grounds of its convenience but only if the text leads us in that direction. To put it plainly, both the genre and the style of the Genesis prologue, as our introductory chapter saw them, provide strong grounds for presuming in favour of the literary interpretation. We discerned a composite literary genre, skilfully composed. We admired its author as a wise man, supremely able in the art of arranging material and very fond of manipulating numbers, particularly the number seven. From such a writer the plain, straightforward meaning, as in two-dimensional prose, would be most surprising when he is setting out the pattern of seven days. From such a writer you would expect the sort of method which is discerned by the 'artistic' interpretation. Immediately we pass to the study of the days themselves, we find once again that the author keeps closely to his most careful style. He shows the same geometrical mastery and thus suggests that other thoughts overshadowed in his mind any concern for chronology. Two centuries ago Herder recognized the powerful symmetry between the two triads of days: Day 1 corresponds to Day 4, Day 2 to Day 5, Day 3 to Day 6. Corresponding to the light (1) are the luminaries (4); to the creation of the expanse of the sky and the separation of the waters (2) correspond the birds and the fish (5); and to the appearance of the dry land and of vegetation (3) correspond the land animals including mankind together with the gift of food (6). Medieval tradition had recognized the broad pattern, since it distinguished the work of separation (Days 1-3) from the work of adornment (Days 4-6)." (Blocher, H.*, "In The Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis," InterVarsity Press: Leicester UK, 1984, pp.50-51) 30/9/2004 "What is the mode of revelation of this inspired word? What is its literary genre? It is better to take the second question first, for the form attained (the genre) must serve as a clue to the 'how' of the formation (the inspiration). Is it prose or poetry? The choice is a gross oversimplification. Even Young who wishes to see in Genesis 1 only 'straightforward history', recognizes without any sense of inconsistency that the chapter 'is written in exalted, semi-poetical language'. It is clear that we do not find here the rhythms of Hebrew poetry, nor its more or less synonymous parallelism. The reader of the original, however, is sensitive to the rhythm of the sentences, he notices a number of alliterations and one phrase which is confined to poetry, 'beast of the field'. Albright saw in the refrain '(God saw) that it was good' a cry of wonder, the sign of an antecedent poetic form. The word 'hymn' comes to many writers. Whether it is a strophic hymn in prose or a hymn which is a unique blend of prose and poetry, Paul Beauchamp, the most sensitive of analysts, wisely concludes: 'By the importance of repetition and of its corollary, silence, our text is indeed close to poetry, but its movement towards a solution places it in the order of prose.' Following his lead we can say that the genre is composite. The narrative becomes at the same time a classification, like the orderly lists of priests and wise men. There are perhaps reminiscences of theophany (1:2) and one may recall the cosmogonies of other peoples, (in the subject-matter rather than the form). The entire passage seems 'akin to the hymn', although the unuttered note of praise in the pure objectivity favoured by the writer remains only implied. In any case, the author has carefully calculated the whole passage. The regular flow of thought conceals a careful construction which uses symbolic numbers: 10, 3 and particularly 7. Ten times we find 'God said', and for Beauchamp that decalogue forms the framework of the text. Of those ten words, three concern mankind (1:26, 28, 29) and seven the rest of the creatures. The creative orders they include use the verbs to be 'let there be', three times for the creatures in the heavens, and seven different verbs for the world below. The verb 'to make' also appears ten times, as does the formula 'according to its/their kind'. There are three benedictions, and the verb 'create' is used at three points in the narrative, the third time thrice. Above all we read seven times the completion formula and it was so', which Monsengwo Pasinya makes the key formula, seven times also the approval 'and God saw that it was good' and seven times a further statement is added (God names or blesses). All these heptads, or groups of seven, are independent of that of the seven days, which we are setting aside for a special study. By counting the words, Cassuto finds several others. Beyond any doubt, here we have no ordinary history, such as might be written in response to a simple request to be told what happened. Here we have the work of a Master whose thought is profound and expansive." (Blocher, H.*, "In The Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis," InterVarsity Press: Leicester UK, 1984, pp.32-33)
* Authors with an asterisk against their name are believed not to be evolutionists. However, lack of
an asterisk does not necessarily mean that an author is an evolutionist.
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Created: 8 July, 2004. Updated: 25 April, 2010.