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The following are quotes added to my Unclassified Quotes database in April 2006. The date format is dd/mm/yy. See copyright conditions at end.
[Index: Jan, Feb, Mar, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec]
7/04/2006 "But what did Concestor 17 look like: the ancestor that amphibians share with reptiles and ourselves? Certainly more like an amphibian than an amniote, and more like a salamander than a frog - but probably not much like either. The best fossils are in Greenland which, during the Devonian Period, was on the equator. These possibly transitional fossils have been much studied, among them Acanthostega, which seems to have been wholly aquatic (showing that `legs' originally evolved for movement in water, not on land), and Ichthyostega." (Dawkins, R., "The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, 2004, p.297) 7/04/2006 "The tetrapods probably evolved from an otherwise extinct group of lobefins called the osteolepiforms. Among osteolepiforms are Eusthenopteron and Panderichthys, both dating from the late Devonian, about the time when the first tetrapods were starting to emerge onto the land. Why did fish first develop the changes that permitted the move out of water onto the land? Lungs, for example? And fins that you could walk on rather than, or as well as, swim with? It wasn't that they were trying to initiate the next big chapter in evolution!" (Dawkins, R., "The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, 2004, p.298) 7/04/2006 "Natural selection cannot possibly produce any modification in a species exclusively for the good of another species; though throughout nature one species incessantly takes advantage of and profits by, the structures of others. But natural selection can and does often produce structures for the direct injury of other animals, as we see in the fang of the adder, and in the ovipositor of the ichneumon, by which its eggs are deposited in the living bodies of other insects. If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection. " (Darwin, C.R., "The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection," , John Murray: London, Sixth Edition, 1872, Reprinted, 1882, p.162) 7/04/2006 "Another difficulty seems to be the first formation of the limbs of the higher animals. The lowest Vertebrata are perfectly limbless ; and if, as most Darwinians would probably assume, the primeval vertebrate creature was also apodal, how are the preservation and development of the first rudiments of limbs to be accounted for-such rudiments being, on the hypothesis in question, minute and functionless? In reply to this it has been suggested ... that a mere roughness of the skin might be useful to a swimming animal by holding. the water better, that thus minute processes might be selected and preserved, and that, in the same way, these might be gradually increased into limbs. But it is, to say the least, very questionable whether a roughness of the skin, or minute processes, would be useful to a swimming animal; the motion of which they would as much impede as aid, unless they were at once capable of' a suitable and appropriate action, which is against the hypothesis. Again, the change from mere indefinite and accidental processes to two regular pairs of symmetrical limbs, as the result of merely fortuitous favouring variations, is a step the feasibility of which hardly commends itself to the reason, seeing the very different positions assumed by the ventral fins in different fishes. If the above suggestion made in opposition to the views here asserted be true, then the general constancy of position of the limbs of the Vertebrata may be considered as due to the position assumed by the primitive rugosities from which those limbs were generated. Clearly only two pairs of rugosities were so preserved and developed, and all limbs (on this view) are descendants of the same two pairs, as all have so similar a fundamental structure. Yet we find in many fishes the pair of fins, which correspond to the hind-limbs of other animals, placed so far forwards as to be either on the same level with, or actually in front of, the normally anterior pair of limbs ; and such fishes are from this circumstance called `thoracic' or `jugular' fishes respectively, as the weaver fishes and the cod. This is a, wonderful contrast to the fixity of position of vertebrate limbs generally. If then such a change can have taken place in the comparatively short time occupied by the evolution of these special fish forms, we must certainly expect that other and far more bizarre structures would (did out some law forbid) have been developed, from other rugosities in the, manifold exigencies of the multitudinous organisms which must (on the Darwinian hypothesis) have been gradually evolved during the enormous period intervening between the first, appearance of vertebrate life and the present day. Yet, with these exceptions, the position of the limbs is constant from the lower fishes up to man, there being always an anterior pectoral pair placed in front of a posterior or pelvic pair when both are present, and in no single instance are there more than these two pairs." (Mivart St.G. J., "On the Genesis of Species," Macmillan & Co: London, Second edition, 1871, pp.43- 45. Emphasis original) 8/04/2006 "Quite often, some of the characters of the embryo of the primitive ancestor can still be seen. An example is the arches and clefts in the head region of the embryos of all vertebrates. These arches and clefts gave rise to the gills in primitive jawless fish. In later vertebrates they became modified to form jaws and other structures. A higher animal, like a mammal, passes through an embryonic stage when there are structures that resemble the gill clefts of fish. But this resemblance is illusory and the structures in the mammalian embryo only resemble the structures in the embryonic fish that will give rise to gills." (Wolpert L., "The Triumph of the Embryo," Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1991, p.185) 8/04/2006 "Ernst Haeckel, who was Darwin's chief supporter in Germany, took a very different view. Haeckel claimed that the embryo passed through the adult stages of its ancestors and thus a study of embryonic development could reveal how animals evolved. He coined the phrase 'ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny' to summarize his famous, or rather infamous, law. Ontogeny merely means embryonic development and phylogeny is the evolutionary history of an animal. Further, he regarded man, Homo sapiens, as the pinnacle of evolution and the successive stages of development that the human embryo passed through therefore corresponded to the adult forms of lower organisms from which humans had evolved. For Haeckel, that stage in human development in which there are a set of arches and slits behind the head represented a primitive fish ancestor, and not, as von Baer made quite clear, structures present in embryonic fish. In retrospect, it is not easy to understand why this theory should have received such wide support. Even Freud was greatly influenced and his ideas on the id and ego and stages in psychic development reflect Haeckel's view. Embryos, however, do not pass through the adult stages of their ancestors; ontogeny does not recapitulate phylogeny. Rather, ontogeny repeats some ontogeny-some embryonic features of ancestors are present in embryonic development." (Wolpert L., "The Triumph of the Embryo," Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1991, p.185) 8/04/2006 "DNA's performance as an archival medium is spectacular. In its capacity to preserve a message it far outdoes tablets of stone. Cows and pea plants (and, indeed, all the rest of us) have an almost identical gene called the histone H4 gene. The DNA text is 306 characters long. We can't say that it occupies the same addresses in all species, because we can't meaningfully compare address labels across species. But what we can say is that there is a length of 306 characters in cows, which is virtually identical to a length of 306 characters in peas. Cows and peas differ from each other in only two characters out of these 306. We don't know exactly how long ago the common ancestor of cows and peas lived, but fossil evidence suggests that it was somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 million years ago. Call it 1.5 billion years ago. Over this unimaginably (for humans) long time, each of the two lineages that branched from that remote ancestor has preserved 305 out of the 306 characters (on average: it could be that one lineage has preserved all 306 of them and the other has preserved 304). Letters carved on gravestones become unreadable in mere hundreds of years." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker,", Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.123) 8/04/2006 "In a way the conservation of the histone-H4 DNA document is even more impressive because, unlike tablets of stone, it is not the same physical structure that lasts and preserves the text. It is repeatedly being copied and recopied as the generations go by, like the Hebrew scriptures which were ritually copied by scribes every 80 years to forestall their wearing-out. It is hard to estimate exactly how many times the histone H4 document has been recopied in the lineage leading to cows from the common ancestor with peas, but it is probably as many as 20 billion times. It is also hard to find a yardstick with which to compare the preservation of more than 99 per cent of information in 20 billion successive copyings. We can try using a version of the game of grandmothers' whispers. Imagine 20 billion typists sitting in a row. The line of typists would reach right round the Earth 500 times. The first typist writes a page of a document and hands it to his neighbour. He copies it and hands his copy to the next one. He copies it again and hands it on to the next, and so on. Eventually, the message reaches the end of the line, and we read it (or rather our 12,000th great grandchildren do, assuming that all the typists have a speed typical of a good secretary). How faithful a rendering of the original message would it be? To answer this we have to make some assumption about the accuracy of the typists. Let's twist the question round the other way. How good would each typist have to be, in order to match the DNA's performance? The answer is almost too ludicrous to express. For what it is worth, every typist would have to have an error rate of about one in a trillion; that is, he would have to be accurate enough to make only a single error in typing the Bible 250,000 times at a stretch. A good secretary in real life has an error rate of about one per page. This is about half a billion times the error rate of the histone H4 gene. A line of real-life secretaries would degrade a text to 99 per cent of its original letters by the 20th member of the line of 20 billion. By the 10,000th member of the line, less than 1 per cent of the original text would survive. This point of near total degradation would be reached before 99.9995 per cent of the typists had even seen it." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker,", Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, pp.123-124) 8/04/2006 "But I have been unfair to the typists. I assumed, in effect, that they are not capable of noticing their miem. I have assumed a complete absence of proofreading. In reality, of course, they do proofread. My line of billions of typists wouldn't, therefore, cause the original message to degenerate in quite the simple way that I portrayed. The DNA-copying mechanism does the same kind of error-correction automatically. If it didn't, it wouldn't achieve anything like the stupendous accuracy that I have described. The DNA copying procedure incorporates various 'proofreading' drills. This is all the more necessary because the letters of the DNA code are by no means static, like hieroglyphs carved in granite. On the contrary, the molecules involved are so small - remember all those New Testaments fitting on a pin's head - that they are under constant assault from the ordinary jostling of molecules that goes on due to heat. There is a constant flux, a turnover of letters in the message. About 5,000 DNA letters degenerate per day in every human cell, and are immediately replaced by repair mechanisms. If the repair mechanisms weren't there and ceaselessly working, the message would steadily dissolve. Proofreading of newly copied text is just a special case of normal repair work. It is mainly proofreading that is responsible for DNA's remarkable accuracy and fidelity of information storage." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker,", Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.126) 8/04/2006 "We have seen that DNA molecules are the centre of a spectacular information technology. They are capable of packing an immense amount of precise, digital information into a very small space, and they are capable of preserving this information - with astonishingly few errors, but still some errors - for a very long time, measured in millions of years." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.126) 8/04/2006 "The story is the same for other classes of animal, the case of insects being particularly well documented. Orders of insects can be traced back over 200 million years for mayflies and dragonflies and about 300 million years for cockroaches, grasshoppers, and locusts. The striking feature of these long records is that they contain little evidence of change; and they too fade away to nothing instead of connecting to other orders of insects. The theoretical presumption of evolution for a common ancestor is not there in the insect record, just as it is not there for mammals, or for any other class of animal or division of plant. Still less is there evidence of evolution connecting different classes and divisions, subkingdoms or kingdoms. In 1860 it could be claimed with some plausibility that the record was seriously incomplete, and it could therefore be hoped that with increasing knowledge the more distant connections postulated by the theory would eventually be found. They have not been, and since geology has expanded enormously in scope over the past century, it now seems unlikely that the postulated connections will ever be found. " (Hoyle F., "Mathematics of Evolution," , Acorn Enterprises: Memphis TN, 1999, p.107) 11/04/2006 "The riddle remains, and in so doing masks the answer to a question of profound interest. Life appeared on earth: what, before the event, were the chances that this would occur? The present structure of the biosphere far from excludes the possibility that the decisive event occurred only once. Which would mean that its a priori probability was virtually zero. This idea is distasteful to most scientists. Science can neither say nor do anything about a unique occurrence. It can only consider occurrences that form a class, whose a priori probability, however faint, is yet definite. Now through the very universality of its structures, starting with the code, the biosphere looks like the product of a unique event." (Monod J., "Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology", , Transl. Wainhouse A., Penguin Books: London, 1997, reprint, pp.144-145. Emphasis original) 11/04/2006 "The first step in determining irreducible complexity is to specify both the function of the system and all system components. An irreducibly complex object will be composed of several parts, all of which contribute to the function. To avoid the problems encountered with extremely complex objects (such as eyes, beetles, or other multicellular biological systems) I will begin with a simple mechanical example: the humble mousetrap. The function of a mousetrap is to immobilize a mouse so that it can't perform such unfriendly acts as chewing through sacks of flour or electrical cords, or leaving little reminders of its presence in unswept comers. The mousetraps that my family uses consist of a number of parts (Figure 2-2): (1) a flat wooden platform to act as a base; (2) a metal hammer, which does the actual job of crushing the little mouse; (3) a spring with extended ends to press against the platform and the hammer when the trap is charged; (4) a sensitive catch that releases when slight pressure is applied, and (5) a metal bar that connects to the catch and holds the hammer back when the trap is charged. (There are also assorted staples to hold the system together.) The second step in determining if a system is irreducibly complex is to ask if all the components are required for the function. In this example, the answer is clearly yes. Suppose that while reading one evening, you hear the patter of little feet in the pantry, and you go to the utility drawer to get a mousetrap. Unfortunately, due to faulty manufacture, the trap is missing one of the parts listed above. Which part could be missing and still allow you to catch a mouse? If the wooden base were gone, there would be no platform for attaching the other components. If the hammer were gone, the mouse could dance all night on the platform without becoming pinned to the wooden base. If there were no spring, the hammer and platform would jangle loosely, and again the rodent would be unimpeded. If there were no catch or metal holding bar, then the spring would snap the hammer shut as soon as you let go of it; in order to use a trap like that you would have to chase the mouse around while holding the trap open." (Behe M.J., "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," Free Press: New York NY, 1996, p.42) 11/04/2006 "Although the belief that an organ so perfect as the eye could have been formed by natural selection is more than enough to stagger anyone; yet in the case of any organ, if we know of a long series of gradations in complexity, each good for its possessor, then, under hanging conditions of life, there is no logical impossibility in the acquirement of any conceivable degree of perfection through natural election." (Jones S., "Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated," Doubleday: London, 1999, p.138) 13/04/2006 "Finally, the evolutionary vision is enabling us to discern, however incompletely, the lineaments of the new religion that we can be sure will arise to serve the needs of the coming era. Just as stomachs are bodily organs concerned with digestion and involving the biochemical activity of special juices, so are religions psychosocial organs of man concerned with the problems of destiny and involving the emotion of sacredness and the sense of right and wrong. Religion of some sort is certainly a normal function of psychosocial existence. It seems to be necessary to man. But it is not necessarily a good thing. ... The emergent religion of the near future could be a good thing. It will believe in knowledge. It should be able to take advantage of the vast amount of new knowledge produced by the knowledge explosion of the last few centuries to construct what we may call its `theology'-the framework of facts and ideas which provide it with intellectual support; it should be able, with our increased knowledge of mind, to define our sense of right and wrong more clearly so as to provide a better moral support; it should be able to focus the feeling of sacredness onto fitter objects, instead of worshiping supernatural rulers, so as to provide truer spiritual support, to sanctify the higher manifestations of human nature in art and love, in intellectual comprehension and aspiring adoration, and to emphasize the fuller realization of life's possibilities as a sacred trust. Thus the evolutionary vision, first opened up to us by Charles Darwin a century back, illuminates our existence in a simple, but almost overwhelming, way. ... Evolutionary truth frees us from subservient fear of the unknown and supernatural and exhorts us to face this new freedom with courage tempered with wisdom and hope tempered with knowledge. It shows us our destiny and our duty. It shows us mind enthroned above matter, quantity subordinate to quality. It gives our anxious minds support by revealing the incredible possibilities that have already been realized in evolution's past and, by pointing to the hidden treasure of fresh possibilities that could be realized in its long future, it gives man a potent incentive for fulfilling his evolutionary role in the universe." (Huxley J.S., "The Evolutionary Vision," in Tax S. & Callender C., eds., "Evolution After Darwin: Issues in Evolution," University of Chicago Press: Chicago IL, Vol. III, 1960, pp.260-261) 14/04/2006 The two-minds hypothesis. This may seem a promising way to understand the incarnation, but Morris knows the real test comes when trying to make sense of how Jesus can exemplify very human qualities at the same time that he has similar divine attributes that contradict those human qualities. In particular, Jesus as divine is omniscient, but as human he has limited knowledge. Hence the properties of omniscience and of limited knowledge are both predicated of one and the same person, and that is a contradiction. Moreover, one wonders whether at any moment of his earthly life the person Jesus knew everything or only some things. If everything, then how can Scripture say (Lk 2:52) that he grew in wisdom and knowledge? Morris answers that in Christ there were two minds (two distinct ranges of consciousness), one divine and one human. Christ possessed the eternal mind of God the Son, which knows all things. But he also possessed a `distinctly earthly consciousness that came into existence and grew and developed as the boy Jesus grew and developed.' [Morris T.V., `The Logic of God Incarnate,' Cornell UP, 1986, p.103] The relation between the two minds was asymmetrical. That is, the divine mind knew and had access to everything the human mind knew, but the human mind had access to the divine only when the divine mind allowed it access. What Jesus knew through his human mind alone and apart from any access it had to his divine mind was only what was available to any other human living at that time. But since he was not merely human, Jesus had access to information that no mere human could know apart from divine revelation. [Ibid]" (Feinberg J.S., "The Incarnation of Jesus Christ," in Geivett R.D. & Habermas G.R., eds., "In Defense of Miracles: A Comprehensive Case for God's Action in History," Apollos: Leicester UK, 1997, p.234. Emphasis original) 14/04/2006 "Again, in Auvergne (France) there are cones of loose scoria and ashes from long-extinct volcanoes. They are many thousands of years older than the flood could possibly be, yet they show no sign of having been washed or disturbed by flood waters. One theory is that the universal flood was so gentle that it lifted these cones up and dropped them back again, and that other heaps of scoriae are not of the loose variety. A universal flood could hardly have been that gentle, especially not if Price's view of tidal waves of a thousand miles an hour is accepted." (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," , Paternoster: London, 1967, reprint, p.166) 14/04/2006 "LIFE AFTER THE FLOOD ... ATHENIAN: Do you think there is any truth in tradition? CLEINIAS: What sort of tradition do you mean? ATHENIAN : This: that the human race has been repeatedly annihilated by floods and plagues and many other causes, so that only a small fraction of it survived. CLEINIAS: Yes, of course, all that sort of thing strikes everyone as entirely credible. ATHENIAN: Now then, let's picture just one of this series of annihilations - I mean the effect of the flood. CLEINIAS : What special point are we to notice about it? ATHENIAN: That those who escaped the disaster must have been pretty nearly all hill- shepherds - a few embers of mankind preserved, I imagine, on the tops of mountains. ... And we can take it, can't. we, that the cities that had been built on the plains and near the sea were destroyed root-and-branch? CLEINIAS: Yes, we can." (Plato, "The Laws," , Saunders T.J., transl., Penguin: London, 1975, reprint, p.119) 14/04/2006 "The ark had a door and three stories. The stories functioned similarly to the cabins in providing a division of animals and a bracing of the structure. The shape of the ark was boxy or angular, and not streamlined nor curved. With this shape it increased its carrying capacity by one-third. It was a vessel designed for floating, not for sailing. A model was made by Peter Jansen of Holland, and Danish barges called Fleuten were modelled after the ark. These models proved that the ark had a greater capacity than curved or shaped vessels. They were very sea-worthy and almost impossible to capsize. ... Suffice it to say, the ark was a reasonable structure. For its specific purpose it was of credible shape, credible size, and credible proportions. It was made from a wood well adapted for such a barge and was divided into stories and state- rooms for proper bracing. It apparently had some system of lighting and ventilation. All in all, the record of the ark bears witness to the credibility of the construction of such a ship, and we believe its features were matters of revelation to Noah who, living in the plains of Babylon, was a `North Dakota' sailor." (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture,"  Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint, pp.157- 158) 14/04/2006 "The problems in connexion with a universal flood are enormous. .... One point must be dearly understood before we commence these criticisms: the flood is recorded as a natural-supernatural occurrence. It does not appear as a pure and stupendous miracle. The natural and the supernatural work side by side and hand in hand. If one wishes to retain a universal flood, it must be understood that a series of stupendous miracles is required. Further, one cannot beg off with pious statements that God can do anything. We concur enthusiastically with Smith when he wrote: `That the Omnipotent could effect such a work [a universal flood], none can doubt; but we are not at liberty thus to invent miracles, and the narrative in the Book of Genesis plainly assigns two natural causes for the production of the diluvial waters.' [Smith J.P., "On the Relation Between the Holy Scriptures and some parts of Geological Science," Appleton: New York, 1840, p.132]... There is the problem of the amount of water required by a universal flood. All the waters of the heavens, poured all over the earth, would amount to a sheath seven inches thick. If the earth were a perfect sphere so that all the waters of the ocean covered it, the depth of the ocean would be two and one- half to three miles. To cover the highest mountains would require eight times more water than we now have. It would have involved a great creation of water to have covered the entire globe, but no such creative act is hinted at in the Scriptures. The mixing of the waters and the pressure of the waters would have been devastating. Many of the salt-water fish and marine life would die in fresh water; and many of the fresh- water fish and marine life would die in salt water. An entire marine creation would have been necessary if the waters of the earth were mixed, yet no such hint is given in the account. Furthermore, the pressure of the water six miles high (to cover the Himalayas) would crush death the vast bulk of marine life. Ninety per cent of marine life is within the first fifty fathoms. The enormous pressure of six miles of water on top of these forms (most of which cannot migrate, or migrate any distance) would have mashed them. The result on plant life would have been equally devastating. Practically the entire world of plants would have perished under enormous pressure, the presence of salt water, and a year's soaking. Innumerable life cycles of plants and insects would have been inter- rupted and would have required a creative work almost as extensive as the original creation to restore the earth. No such destruction and no such re-creation is hinted at in the Scriptures. ... Getting rid of such a vast amount of water wou ld have been as miraculous as providing it. If the entire world were under six miles of water, there would be no place for the water to drain off. Yet the record states that the water drained off with the help of the wind (Gen. 8:1). A local flood would readily account for this, but there is no answer if the entire world were under water." (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," , Paternoster: London, 1967, reprint, pp.165-166. Emphasis original) 14/04/2006 "Arguments for a local flood. Although many Christians still believe in the universal flood, most of the recent conservative scholarship of the church defends a local flood. Those who defend a local flood believe that the time of the flood was some time prior to 4000 B.C. The waters were supplied by the rains from above and the ocean waters beneath. Some sort of geological phenomenon is indicated by the expression `and the fountains of the deep were broken up.' This caused the ocean waters to creep up the Mesopotamian valley. The waters carried the ark up to the Ararat range. The Hebrew text does not mean that the ark was deposited on the 17,000 foot summit of the peak, but that the ark rested somewhere on the Ararat range. It would have taken a special miracle to get Noah and his family down from such dizzy mountain heights where the cold would have been extreme. By the reversal of the geological phenomenon, the water is drained back from the valley. ... The purpose of the flood was to blot out the wicked civilization of Mesopotamia, and being a local flood of a short duration we would not expect to find any specific evidence for it, especially after the minimum of another six thousand years of weathering." (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," , Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint, p.162) 14/04/2006 "[Gen ]8:1 So far the flood narrative has been an account of judgment; from this point on it is a story of redemption. God remembered Noah. Though he had not been mentioned since 7:16 or heard from for 150 days (see 7:24), God had not forgotten Noah and his family. To `remember' in the Bible is not merely to recall to mind; it is to express concern for someone, to act with loving care for him. When God remembers his people, he does so `with favor' (Ne 5:19: 13:31). wind. The Hebrew word translated `Spirit' in 1:2 is here rendered `wind,' and introduces a series of parallels between the events of chs. 8-9 and those of ch. 1 in their literary order: Compare 8:2 with 1:7; 8:5 with 1:9; 8:7 with 1:20; 8:17 with 1:25; 9:1 with 1:28a; 9:2 with 1:28b; 9:3 with 1:30. Ch. 1 describes the original beginning, while chs. 8-9 describe a new beginning after the flood." (Barker K.*, ed., "The NIV Study Bible," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1985, p.16) 15/04/2006 "We will now begin our apologetic for Jesus' Resurrection ... First, naturalistic theories have failed to explain away this event, chiefly because each theory is disproven by the known historical facts, as are combinations of theories. .... One interesting illustration of this failure of the naturalistic theories is that they were disproven by the nineteenth-century older liberals themselves, by whom these theses were popularized. These scholars refuted each other's theories, leaving no viable naturalistic hypotheses. For instance, Albert Schweitzer dismissed Reimarus's fraud theory and listed no proponents of this view since 1768. [Schweitzer A., "The Quest of the Historical Jesus," Macmillan: New York, 1968, pp.21-23] David Strauss delivered the historical death blow to the swoon theory held by Karl Venturini, Heinrich Paulus, and others. [Strauss D., "A New Life of Jesus," Williams & Norgate: London, 1879, Vol. 1, p.412] On the other hand, Friedrich Schleiermacher and Paulus pointed out errors in Strauss's hallucination theory. The major decimation of the hallucination theory, however, came at the hands of Theodor Keim. [Schleiermacher F., "The Christian Faith," Harper & Row: New York, 1963, Vol. 2, p.420; Schweitzer, Ibid, pp.54-55; 211-214] Otto Pfleiderer was critical of the legendary or mythological theory, even admitting that it did not explain Jesus' Resurrection. [Pfleiderer O., "Early Christian Conception of Christ," Williams & Norgate: London, 1905, pp.152-159] By these critiques such scholars pointed out that each of these theories was disproven by the historical facts. Although nineteenth-century liberals decimated each other's views individually, twentieth- century critical scholars have generally rejected naturalistic theories as a whole, judging that they are incapable of explaining the known data. This approach is a usual characteristic of recent schools of thought. For instance, Karl Barth points out that each of these liberal hypotheses is confronted by many inconsistencies and he concludes that "today we rightly turn up our nose at this." [Barth K., "Church Dogmatics," T. & T. Clark: Edinburgh, 1956, Vol. 4, Part I., p.340] Raymond Brown likewise asserts that twentieth-century critical scholars have rejected these theories, holding that they are no longer respectable. He adds that such contemporary thinkers ignore these alternative views and any popularized renditions of them as well. [Brown R., "The Resurrection and Biblical Criticism," Commonweal, 87, November 24, 1967, p.233] In addition to Barth and Brown, rejections come from such diverse critical scholars as Paul Tillich, [Tillich P., "Systematic Theology," University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1971, Vol. 2, p.156] Wolfhart Pannenberg, [Pannenberg W., "Jesus-God and Man," Westminster Press: Philadelphia, 1968, pp.88-97] Gunther Bornkamm, [Bornkamm G., "Jesus of Nazareth," Harper & Row: New York, 1960, pp.181-185] Ulrich Wilckens [Wilckens U., "Resurrection," Saint Andrews Press: Edinburgh, 1977, pp.117-119], John A.T. Robinson [Robinson J.A.T., "Can We Trust the New Testament?," Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1977, pp.123-125] and A.M. Hunter, [Hunter A.M., "Bible and Gospel," Westminster Press: Philadelphia, 1969, p.111] among others. That even such critical scholars have rejected these naturalistic theories is a significant epitaph for the failure of these views." (Habermas G.R., "Affirmative Statement: Gary R. Habermas," in Habermas G.R., Flew A.G.N. & Miethe T.L., ed., "Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?: The Resurrection Debate," Harper & Row: San Francisco CA, 1987, pp.20-21) 16/04/2006 "In Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution I devoted a chapter to the mechanism of blood clotting, arguing that it is irreducibly complex and therefore a big problem for Darwinian evolution. Since my book came out, as far as I am aware there have been no papers published in the scientific literature giving a detailed scenario or experiments to show how natural selection could have built the system. However three scientists publishing outside science journals have attempted to respond. The first is Russell Doolittle, a professor of biochemistry at the University of California at San Diego, member of the National Academy of Sciences, and expert on blood clotting. Second is Kenneth Miller, a professor of cell biology at Brown University and author of Finding Darwin's God (Miller 1999). The third scientist is Keith Robison, who at the time of his writing was a graduate student at Harvard University. ... I would like to pause here for a moment to point out that all three scientists who tried to meet the challenge to Darwinian evolution of blood clotting--Russell Doolittle, Kenneth Miller, and Keith Robison--foundered on exactly the same point, the point of irreducible complexity. Yet they foundered in three different ways. Doolittle mistakenly thought that even the current cascade might not be irreducibly complex, but experimental results showed him to be wrong. Miller either proposed unregulated steps or just waved his hands and shouted `gene duplication', avoiding the problem by obfuscation. Robison directly attacked a piece of the problem, but failed to see he was intelligently guiding events in a distinctly non-Darwinian scenario. Perhaps we may be allowed to conclude that when three scientists, highly intelligent and strongly motivated to discredit it, all come up empty, that irreducible complexity is indeed a big hurdle for Darwinism." (Behe M.J., "In Defense of the Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade: Response to Russell Doolittle, Ken Miller and Keith Robison," Discovery Institute, July 31, 2000) 16/04/2006 "Perhaps, some say, most of the DNA is an organ of small importance, whose presence is not noticed by Darwin's machine. If so, much of life is neutral ground upon which natural selection enacts its few rare struggles. That view is supported by a surprising fact: that the parts of the body that vary most are those that appear to be least important. Blood clots are made when small proteins link together in response to damage. For much of the time each unit floats in the plasma, its ability to bind checked by a short piece that blocks the crucial site. After a cut, the plug is snipped out, the molecules link up and the clot forms. Most of the protein does not vary at all, but the stopper, with its simple job, is filled with diversity. Natural selection surely cannot act to retain differences in the part of the molecule with the least exacting task. Most of the changes in the stopper probably have no effect on how it works and merely accumulate with time. In the same way, in DNA as a whole, the parts that make no protein vary more than those that do, and the more embedded in the machinery of the cell any protein may be, the less variable its gene. Diversity, it seems, builds up where it does no harm, but is excluded from places where it might cause trouble. The champions of Darwinism find it painful to admit that most variation under Nature is a spectator at the evolutionary play. " (Jones J.S., "Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated," Doubleday: London, 1999, pp.142-143) 16/04/2006 "Now whole sections of DNA from normal and haemophiliac families can be compared to show exactly what has happened and, just like the genetic map itself, things have got much more complicated. Haemophilia shows how molecular biology has made geneticists' lives more difficult. First, uncontrollable bleeding is not a single disease, but several. This is because clotting itself is a complicated business. From cut to clot involves several steps. Different proteins are arranged in a cascade which responds to the damage, produces and then mobilises the material which makes up the clot and finally assembles it into a tough protective barrier. A dozen or more different genes scattered all over the DNA co-operate in the production line." (Jones, J.S., "The Language of the Genes: Biology, History and the Evolutionary Future," , Flamingo: London, 1994, reprint, pp.81-82) 16/04/2006 "In a primitive world where some creatures had no eyes at all and others had lensless eyes, the ones with lensless eyes would have all sorts of advantages. And there is a continuous series of Xs, such that each tiny improvement in sharpness of image, from swimming blur to perfect human vision, plausibly increases the organism's chances of surviving. The book [Hitching, F., "The Neck of the Giraffe," Pan: London, 1982, p.103)] goes on to quote Stephen Jay Gould, the noted Harvard palaeontologist, as saying: `We avoid the excellent question, What good is 5 percent of an eye? by arguing that the possessor of such an incipient structure did not use it for sight.' [Gould, S.J., "Ever Since Darwin," Penguin: London, 1978, p.107) An ancient animal with 5 per cent of an eye might indeed have used it for something other than sight, but it seems to me at least as likely that it used it for 5 per cent vision. And actually I don't think it is an excellent question. Vision that is 5 per cent as good as yours or mine is very much worth having in comparison with no vision at all. So is 1 per cent vision better than total blindness. And 6 per cent is better than 5, 7 per cent better than 6, and so on up the gradual, continuous series." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design," W.W Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986, p.81) 17/04/2006 "Can it, then, be thought improbable, seeing that variations useful to man have undoubtedly occurred, that other variations useful in some way to each being in the great and complex battle of life, should occur in the course of many successive generations? If such 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 of procreating their kind? On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed. This preservation of favourable individual differences and variations, and the destruction of those which are injurious, I have called Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest." (Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection," 1872, Sixth edition, Senate: London, 1994, pp.62-63) 17/04/2006 "It may metaphorically be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, the slightest variations; rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life. We see nothing of these slow changes in progress, until the hand of time has marked the lapse of ages, and then so imperfect is our view into long-past geological ages, that we see only that the forms of life are now different from what they formerly were." (Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection," 1872, Sixth edition, Senate: London, 1994, pp.64-65) 17/04/2006 "Coagulation of the blood involves a cascade of events in which many factors normally found in the blood are activated in sequence, leading eventually to the formation of thrombin and activated factor XIII. Thrombin converts fibrinogen to fibrin, which then polymerizes into an insoluble fibrin clot Sticky platelets have exposed fibrin receptors to which fibrin adheres, and the resulting fibrin-platelet mesh traps red blood cells and plasma. The sticky platelets contract, pull on the fibrin, and squeeze out serum (plasma minus fibrinogen), and the clot shrinks. The platelets also release phospholipid PF3, which is involved in activating one of the factors in the clotting cascade. There are two different pathways that may lead to this reaction. Tissue damage, which results in the release of thromboplastin, activates the so-called extrinsic cascade. The exposure of collagen, or exposure to glass or other surfaces, activates the intrinsic pathway. The extrinsic and intrinsic pathways converge on the activation of factor X, which along with a number of other cofactors catalyzes the cleavage of prothrombin to thrombin. Calcium is required for the activation of many factors in both the extrinsic and intrinsic pathways. Removal of Ca2+ prevents clotting. An inappropriate clot that forms in the circulation, called a thrombus, can block blood flow. Animals produce a number of anticoagulants to prevent clotting and remove blood clots once they form. The anticoagulant heparin is found on the surfaces of endothelial cells, especially in the lungs, and inhibits platelet adhesion. Cell surfaces also have a protein, thrombomodulin, that binds thrombin. The complex thus formed activates protein C, which inhibits clotting by degrading factor V and catalyzing the production of plasmin from plasminogen. Plasmin dissolves fibrin and, therefore, blood clots. Thus thrombin has two major actions: first to initiate clot formation and then to promote clot dissolution." (Randall D.J., Burggren W.W. & French K., "Eckert Animal Physiology: Mechanisms and Adaptations," , W. H. Freeman and Company: New York NY, 2001, Fifth edition, 2002, Second printing, pp. 522. Emphasis original)] 17/04/2006 "Organic molecules therefore form a large and formidable array, endless in variety and of the most bewildering complexity. One cannot think of having organisms without them. This is precisely the trouble, for to understand how organisms originated we must first of all explain how such complicated molecules could come into being. And that is only the beginning. To make an organism requires not only a tremendous variety of these substances, in adequate amounts and proper proportions, but also just the right arrangement of them. Structure here is as important as composition-and what a complication of structure! The most complex machine man has devised-say an electronic brain-is child's play compared with the simplest of living organisms. The especially trying thing is that complexity here involves such small dimensions. It is on the molecular level; it consists of a detailed fitting of molecule to molecule such as no chemist can attempt. ... One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are, as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation." (Wald G., "The origin of life," Scientific American, Vol. 191, No. 2, August 1954, pp.45-53, p.46) 18/04/2006 "The clotting or coagulation mechanism has been well studied in mammals, particularly humans, because blood clotting is of great medical importance. To be effective, a clotting mechanism must act rapidly; yet blood must not clot within the vascular system. Blood must therefore have the inherent ability to clot, and the clotting mechanism should be ready to be turned on when needed. On the other hand, this mechanism must not go off inadvertently. In vertebrates the blood clot consists of the protein fibrin, an insoluble fibrous protein formed from fibrinogen, a soluble protein present in normal plasma in an amount of about 0.3%. The transformation of fibrinogen to fibrin is catalyzed by the enzyme thrombin, and the reason blood does not clot in the vascular system is that thrombin is absent from the circulating blood. Thrombin, however, can be formed rapidly because its precursor, prothrombin, is already present in the plasma. What is necessary to initiate coagulation is the formation of thrombin from prothrombin. This is only the final step in a complex sequence of biochemical events that has been slowly unraveled in studies of human patients with various deficiencies in the clotting mechanism (e.g., hemophilia). A total of 12 clotting factors have been identified, numbered I through XIII (factor VI is a term no longer used)." (Schmidt-Nielsen K., "Animal Physiology: Adaptation and Environment," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, Fifth edition, 1997, reprint, 1998, p.121. Emphasis original) 18/04/2006 "The many steps in the clotting mechanism may seem an unnecessary complication, and indeed they have been a severe hindrance in the clarification of what takes place. Biologically, the importance of the many steps seems to be explained by the fact that the clotting mechanism works as a biochemical amplifier (MacFarlane 1964). Clotting is normally initiated when blood contacts "foreign" surfaces or damaged tissues. This initiates a series of enzymatic steps in which the enzyme formed in the first step serves as a catalyst or activator for the next step, and so on. The series of steps thus forms an enzyme cascade, which ends with the final formation of the clot in which the soluble fibrinogen is changed to the insoluble fibrin. The enzymatic amplification allows clotting to take place rapidly, yet provides a considerable safety margin to prevent spontaneous coagulation within the vascular system. The analogy to an electronic amplification system is obvious. If we want an amplification system with a low noise level , we use several steps with low amplification in each step, rather than a single step with a high amplification. This minimizes the chance that random noise in the system may set off the final step and thus ensures an adequate margin of safety." (Schmidt-Nielsen K., "Animal Physiology: Adaptation and Environment," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, Fifth edition, 1997, reprint, 1998, pp.121-122. Emphasis original) 18/04/2006 "A hemostatic mechanism is as essential for most invertebrates as for vertebrates. The fact that many have open circulatory systems makes the situation more difficult, for in such a system the contraction of blood vessels is of no help. However, open systems have lower blood pressures, and this decreases the tendency for loss of large volumes of fluid. The two distinct hemostatic mechanisms of vertebrates - clotting of blood and local vasoconstriction - have their counterparts in invertebrates. The simplest invertebrate mechanism is the agglutination of blood corpuscles without participation of plasma proteins (Gregoire and Tagnon 1962). Agglutination is followed by the formation of a cellular meshwork that shrinks and helps close a wound. This is often helped by the contraction of the muscles of the body wall, thus aiding in wound closure. A true clotting, induced by enzymatic changes of unstable blood proteins, has been described for many arthropods, especially crustaceans. The clotting mechanism of invertebrates, where it occurs, is biochemically distinctly different from the vertebrate mechanism. For example, vertebrate clotting is inhibited by heparin, a mucopolysaccharide that can be isolated from mammalian liver. Heparin has no effect on the clotting system of the horseshoe crab Limulus (an arachnid, not a crab) and virtually no effect on crustacean blood (Needham 1970). Knowledge of the clotting mechanisms of invertebrates is very incomplete, but present information indicates that such mechanisms must have evolved independently many times in the course of evolution. In these first three chapters we have discussed respiratory gases and their transport. We shall now turn to questions concerning the supply of energy and related matters." (Schmidt-Nielsen K., "Animal Physiology: Adaptation and Environment," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, Fifth edition, 1997, reprint, 1998, p.122) 19/04/2006 "Indeed, it is true that some of the leading Darwinians, like Huxley and Lyell, never believed in natural selection; neither Huxley nor, presumably, Lyell endorsed Darwin's complete gradualism; neither Wallace nor Lyell thought that human beings could be dealt with in the same way as animal species. Thus, there were drastic differences among all of these Darwinians. This disparity led Hull to state that it was not sufficient for a person to hold certain Darwinian ideas in order to be called a Darwinian. In fact, he and others implied there was not a single concept subscribed to by all of the so-called Darwinians." (Mayr E., "One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought," Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, 1991, p.99) 19/04/2006 "To be sure, there are still major groups whose origins remain enigmatic. Bats, for example, have the poorest fossil record of all major vertebrate groups despite their numerical abundance in the world today. This is not only because bats are small and lightly built; they are also largely forest and cave dwellers. Forest faunas, in general, are poorly preserved, and cave sites older than several million years are very rare. There are some remarkably well preserved early Tertiary fossil bats, such as Icaronycteris index, but Icaronycteris tells us nothing about the evolution of flight in bats because it was a perfectly good flying bat. " (Godfrey L.R., "Creationism and Gaps in the Fossil Record" in Godfrey L.R., ed., "Scientists Confront Creationism," W.W. Norton: New York NY, 1983, p.199) AM 20/04/2006 "Assuming the Cause: `post hoc reasoning' ... there is a vulgar error in talking about causal relations which comes from a false generalization about causation itself. This error takes the form of supposing that because something follows something else it is caused by it. One feature that all paired constructions of causes and effects have in common is that the effects follow the causes. This is a necessary feature, but it is by no means a sufficient one for constructing the classes of causes. If it were sufficient, everything that preceded anything else could be regarded as a cause of it. Astrology would be science instead of superstition, since there are configurations of the heavenly bodies antecedent to every event in the world. My plucking a red rose yesterday would also be a cause of my nosebleed today. When the classes of events belong to the same realm of phenomena and are closely related in time, their connection seems more plausible. ... The sufficient conditions for a well-constructed class of causes are similar to those for any well- constructed generalization-lots of representative cases and no counter instances. Putting the necessary and sufficient conditions together, we may say that one thing is a cause of another if and only if, in numerous and representative cases, every case of the one is followed by a case of the other. Post hoc means `after this.' The words refer to assuming without proof that a prior event explains a subsequent occurrence. The post hoc error is called `vulgar' since it is not only common but also ignorant. Magic, superstitions, old- wives tales, and political debate abound in instances of post hoc." (Fearnside, W.W. & Holther, W.B., "Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument," Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs NJ, 1959, Eleventh printing, p.21. Emphasis original) 20/04/2006 "Flight requiring greater activity and motor skill than gliding has been far less common among the vertebrates. Forms that could soar or lift themselves against the pull of gravity have evolved only three times: pterosaurs and birds appeared during the Jurassic and bats near the beginning of the Tertiary period. The rarity of vertebrates possessed of true flight is understandable because the necessary modification of the body is extreme and the probability of all the requisite changes taking place is small." (Stahl, B.J., "Vertebrate history: Problems in Evolution," , Dover: New York NY, Revised edition, 1985, p.348) 20/04/2006 "Although the length of their previous history is difficult to determine, it is obvious that, once established, the basic anatomy of the flight structures remained extremely conservative for the remainder of their history in all actively flying vertebrates. .This is strikingly well documented by bats; The skeleton of an early Eocene species is almost indistinguishable from modern forms ... " (Carroll, R.L., "Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1997, p.278) 20/04/2006 "The wings of birds differ significantly from those of pterosaurs and bats in that the flight surface is formed by individual feathers rather than a membranous structure. In contrast with pterosaurs and bats, the bony skeleton of the wing changes significantly between Archaeopteryx and all more advanced birds. On the other hand, the structure of the individual feathers and their arrangement on the wing retain an extremely conservative pattern in all flying birds. The feathers of Archaeopteryx are preserved as impressions in the very finegrained lithographic limestone from the Upper Jurassic of southern Germany. They show details of structure down to the level of the interlocking barbs that unite the elements that make up the vane on either side of the shaft .... Of particular importance is that the feather is asymmetrical, with the shaft nearer the anterior margin. This gives each individual flight feather the characteristic of an airfoil to produce lift. The geometry of the flight feathers of Archaeopteryx is identical with that of modern flying birds, whereas nonflying birds have symmetrical feathers. The way in which the feathers are arranged on the wing also falls within the range of modern birds. In the Berlin specimen of Archaeopteryx there are nine primary feathers, compared with nine to twelve in modern birds, and the first three are progressively reduced in length inward. Archaeopteryx has fourteen secondaries; modern birds have seven to thirty-two. The only feature of modern birds missing from the wing of Archaeopteryx is the midwing slot (Feduccia 1980). According to Van Tyne and Berger (1976), the relative size and shape of the wing of Archaeopteryx are similar to that of birds that move through restricted openings in vegetation, such as gallinaceous birds, doves, woodcocks, woodpeckers, and most passerine birds. As is discussed in Chapter 12, many aspects of the bony skeleton and almost certainly the soft anatomy and physiology change significantly between Archaeopteryx and modern birds of the early Cenozoic, but the basic flight apparatus does not. The flight feathers have been in stasis for at least 150 million years as a result of the unchanging physical constraints of active flight." (Carroll, R.L., "Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1997, pp.279-281) 20/04/2006 "The flight feathers in birds provide an informative example of how a particular factor may be identified as the primary cause of long-term stasis. Changes in both genetic and developmental factors were certainly necessary for the transformation of scales into feathers in the ancestors of birds. On the other hand, one cannot attribute the maintenance of the feather structure to either genetic or developmental constraints because wing feathers have lost the characteristics necessary for flight in a great number of lineages of secondarily flightless birds. In many cases. this must have occurred over relatively short periods of time, as in the case of the numerous flightless rails known from recent populations on islands. As long as selection acted to maintain flight, physical constraints on the flight apparatus would have maintained the most effective feather configuration possible within the limits of its organic constituents. On the other hand, in situations such as isolated islands where flight may be disadvantageous, variations already present in the genes and developmental programs for the formation of flight feathers would be selected to reduce and finally eliminate characteristics necessary for flight. At least in this case, stasis is clearly maintained by physical constraints." (Carroll, R.L., "Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1997, pp.280-281) 20/04/2006 "Happily I was spared the misfortune of a Roman Catholic upbringing (Anglicanism is a significantly less noxious strain of the virus). Being fondled by the Latin master in the squash court was a disagreeable sensation for a nine-year-old, a mixture of embarrassment and skin-crawling revulsion, but it was certainly not in the same league as being led to believe that I, or someone I knew, might go to everlasting fire. As soon as I could wriggle off his knee, I ran to tell my friends and we had a good laugh, our fellowship enhanced by the shared experience of the same sad pedophile. I do not believe that I, or they, suffered lasting or even temporary damage from this disagreeable physical abuse of power. Given the Latin master's eventual suicide, maybe the damage was all on his side." (Dawkins, R., "Religion's Real Child Abuse," Op-Ed, Free Inquiry, Fall, 2002, Vol. 22, No. 4) 20/04/2006 "With the passing of evolutionary time, the arms race progresses. All the features of life that a human engineer would admire as complex and elegant become more complex, more elegant, and more redolent of the illusion of design. In Climbing Mount Improbable I distinguished designed from `designoid' (pronounced design-oid, not dezzig-noid). Spectacular feats of designoid engineering, such as the eye of a buzzard, the ear of a bat, the musculo-skeletal apparatus of a cheetah or a gazelle, are all climactic products of evolutionary arms races between predators and prey. Parasite/host arms races culminate in even more finely meshed, co-adaptive designoid climaxes. And now for an important point. The evolution of any complex designoid organ in an arms race must have come about in a large number of steps of progressive evolution. Such evolution qualifies as progressive by our definition because each change tends to continue the direction of its predecessors. How do we know there are many steps rather than just one or two? By elementary probability theory. The parts of a complex machine, such as a bat's ear, could be rearranged at random in a million ways before you hit another arrangement that could hear as well as the real thing. It is statistically improbable, not just in the boring sense that any particular arrangement of parts is as improbable, with hindsight, as any other. Very few permutations of atoms are precision auditory instruments. A real bat's ear is one in a million. It works. Something so statistically improbable cannot sensibly be explained as the result of a single stroke of luck. It has to be generated by some sort of improbability-generating process, ratcheted up by what the philosopher Daniel Dennett calls a `crane' (as opposed to a `skyhook': the analogy is to the man-made lifting machine, not the bird). The only cranes known to science (and I would bet the only cranes there have ever been, or ever will be, in the universe) are design and selecand selection. Design explains the efficient complexity of microphones. Natural selection explains the efficient complexity of bat ears. Ultimately, selection explains microphones and everything designed too because the designers of microphones are themselves evolved engineers generated by natural selection. Ultimately, design cannot explain anything because there is an inevitable regression to the problem of the origin of the designer." (Dawkins, R., "The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, 2004, pp.601-602) 20/04/2006 "What other messages from the past does the returning host carry back to the present? Well, I must mention the alleged distinction between-macroevolution and microevolution. I say `alleged' because my own view is that macroevolution (evolution on the grand scale of millions of years) is simply what you get when microevolution (evolution on the scale of individual lifetimes) is allowed to go on for millions of years. The contrary view is that macroevolution is something qualitatively different from microevolution. ... If the terms are used to signify differences in how best to study them, I have no quarrel with a working distinction between microevolution and macroevolution. I do have a quarrel with those people who elevate this rather mundane practical distinction into one of almost - or more than almost - mystical import. There are those who think Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection explains microevolution, but is in principle impotent to explain macroevolution, which consequently needs an extra ingredient - in extreme cases a divine extra ingredient! ... I have never seen any good reason to doubt the following proposition: macroevolution is lots of little bits of microevolution joined end to end over geological time, and detected by fossils instead of by genetic sampling." (Dawkins, R., "The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, 2004, pp.603-605) 20/04/2006 "Blood Clotting. Blood must be a free-flowing liquid if it is to circulate easily through blood vessels, but this liquidity can also cause serious problems. Any injury that breaks a large blood vessel can quickly lead to a serious loss of blood. This is countered by a complex clotting (coagulation) mechanism. Clots form temporary barriers to blood loss until a vessel's walls have healed. When a blood vessel is injured, blood platelets begin to congregate near the cut or injury, forming a barrier known as the platelet plug. There are 200 to 400 platelets per mm3 of blood. Platelets are fragments of large bone marrow cells, called megakaryocytes, that disintegrate and discharge them into the bloodstream. When platelets come into contact with an injured vascular wall, they swell up, become sticky, and release certain, chemicals. Some of these chemicals stimulate the blood vessel to constrict; some increase the tendency of platelets to form a plug; and some help initiate the process of blood clotting. Blood clotting requires a complex and precise series of reactions that satisfy the requirement for a delicate balance between quick and efficient clot formation as a response to significant blood vessel damage and prevention of accidental formation of clots that interfere with normal circulation. Since blood clotting is so complex, we will consider only the major events involved ... Prothrombin and fibrinogen are two proteins manufactured by the liver that are always present in the plasma. Injured tissues and platelets release prothrombin activator and this along with calcium ions (Ca++) convert prothrombin into the enzyme thrombin. Thrombin in turn, acts as an enzyme that severs two short amino acid chains from each fibrinogen molecule. These activated fragments then join end to end, forming long threads of fibrin. Fibrin threads wind around the platelet plug in the damaged area of the blood vessel and provide the framework for the clot. " (Mader S.S., "Biology," , Wm. C. Brown Co: Dubuque IA, Third Edition, 1990, pp.524-525. Emphasis original) 20/04/2006 ""Blood clotting ... Normally, the plasma of the circulating blood remains a liquid. Under certain conditions, however, when a blood vessel has been ruptured or otherwise damaged, or when certain kinds of foreign substances have gained entrance into the circulating blood, or when the blood has been removed from the body, one of the plasma proteins, fibrinogen, comes out of solution and converts into fibrin, which forms a hard lump, or clot .... In this way a small hole in a vessel may be plugged, or a weakened place in a vessel wall may be strengthened. Blood clotting is a powerful evolutionary adaptation for emergency repair of the circulatory system and for preventing excessive blood loss ... Clotting occurs in all vertebrates and in some invertebrates. Some invertebrates have an alternative adaptation serving the same basic function: powerful muscles contract and close off any hole or damaged area." (Keeton W.T., Gould J.L. & Gould C.G., "Biological Science," , W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, Fourth Edition, 1986, p.342. Emphasis original) 20/04/2006 "The hypotheses suggested by the various experiments outlined here have been corroborated: both damaged tissues and disintegrating platelets release a complex substance, called thromboplastin, that initiates blood clotting. For reasons not well understood, however, thromboplastin is not effective unless calcium ions are present. ... Two substances essential for normal blood clotting, then, are thromboplastin and calcium ions; a third is the plasma protein fibrinogen. But if we mix these three substances in a dish, no clotting occurs. Clearly, something else must be involved. That something else seems to be one of the globulin proteins of the plasma, known as prothrombin. If prothrombin is added to the mixture of fibrinogen, thromboplastin, and calcium ions, a clot will form. It can be demonstrated, however, that prothrombin itself has no effect on clotting; it must first be converted into thrombin, the substance that converts fibrinogen into its crystalized form, fibrin, of which the clot is made. Now we have identified the main ingredients in the clotting process. Thromboplastin, produced by disintegrating platelets or damaged tissue, converts the plasma protein prothrombin into thrombin; this is the reaction in which the calcium ions participate. The thrombin then converts another plasma protein, fibrinogen, into fibrin. The fibrin fibers form a meshwork, which begins to shrink; finally, the fluid blood serum is squeezed out, and a hardened clot is left in place. ... Actually, numerous other substances-accelerators, inhibitors, and the like-also play roles in the clotting process. A reaction series of this sort in which the first step releases another, which then triggers yet another, and so on, is referred to as a cascade reaction." (Keeton W.T., Gould J.L. & Gould C.G., "Biological Science," , W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, Fourth Edition, 1986, p.343. Emphasis original) 20/04/2006 "Platelets Function in Blood Clotting. In most vertebrates other than mammals, the blood contains small, oval cells called thrombocytes, which have nuclei. In mammals thrombocytes are tiny spherical or disc- shaped bits of cytoplasm that lack a nucleus. They are usually referred to as blood platelets. About 300,000 platelets per microliter are present in human blood. Platelets are formed from bits of cytoplasm that are pinched off from very large cells (megakaryocytes) in the bone marrow. Thus, a platelet is not a whole cell but a fragment of cytoplasm enclosed by a membrane. Platelets play an important role in hemostasis (the control of bleeding). When a blood vessel is cut, it constricts, reducing loss of blood. Platelets stick to the rough, cut edges of the vessel, physically patching the break in the wall. As platelets begin to gather, they release ADP, which attracts other platelets. Within about 5 minutes after injury a complete platelet patch, or temporary clot, has formed. At the same time that the temporary clot forms, a stronger, more permanent clot begins to develop. More than 30 different chemical substances interact in this very complex process. The series of reactions that leads to clotting is triggered when one of the clotting factors in the blood is activated by contact with the injured tissue. ... Prothrombin, a plasma protein manufactured in the liver, requires vitamin K for its production. In the presence of clotting factors, calcium ions, and compounds released from platelets, prothrombin is converted to thrombin. Then thrombin catalyzes the conversion of the soluble plasma protein fibrinogen to an insoluble protein, fibrin. Once formed, fibrin polymerizes, producing long threads that stick to the damaged surface of the blood vessel and form the webbing of the clot. These threads trap blood cells and platelets, which help to strengthen the clot." (Solomon E.P., Berg L.R., Martin D.W. & Villee C.A., "Biology," , Harcourt Brace: Orlando FL, Third Edition, 1993, pp.885- 886. Emphasis original) 20/04/2006 "Blood clotting. When blood is exposed to air, even in a test tube, it forms a clot, thrombus, within a few minutes. The yellowish fluid outside the clot is serum, which is plasma minus some of the protein constituents that help form the clot. The reactions leading to clot formation are extremely complex. They involve a cascade of perhaps 12 sequential enzymatic reactions, with 'failsafe thresholds' at each stage to prevent accidental triggering of clot formation. Each reaction converts an inactive form of an enzyme into an active form, which is capable of catalysing the next reaction of the cascade and producing hundreds of active products. Thus, the number of products is multiplied at each step. The final reaction involves the enzyme thrombin, which converts soluble plasma protein, fibrinogen, into fine strands of insoluble fibrin. These fibres form a meshwork that traps erythrocytes and platelets to form a clot .... When a vessel is broken, the endothelial layer is breached, exposing collagen fibres in the deeper layers. Platelets immediately attach to the collagen and each other. Thrombin, which forms as outlined above, has three effects on platelets. It causes them to: • become sticky and attach to fibrinogen; • become fragile and release ADP, which enhances linking with fibrinogen; • form long pseudopod-like processes, which attach to adjacent platelets. Thrombin converts fibrinogen to fibrin, which further strengthens the clot. The gap in the vessel quickly fills with a mat of fibrin and aggregated platelets. Thrombin apparently stimulates platelets to contract, squeezing serum from the clot and drawing the broken edges of the vessel together. Platelets also release a substance that makes the surrounding blood vessels contract, further reducing the blood flow to the area. " (Knox B., Ladiges P. & Evans B., eds., "Biology," , McGraw-Hill: Sydney, Australia, 1995, reprint, pp.466-467. Emphasis original) 20/04/2006 "How does blood clot? Step 1 A blood clot is initiated by the binding of a membrane receptor by a circulating protein factor. Step 2 The complex of protein receptor and protein factor then binds with factor 10, changing it to the active form, factor 10a. Step 3 Each molecule of 10a binds to another protein factor, and this complex catalyzes the conversion of prothrombin to thrombin. Step 4 Thrombin interacts with fibrinogen, promoting its conversion to fibrin. Finally fibrin traps blood cells that seal the wound. ... Platelets Help Blood to Clot. Certain large cells within the bone marrow, called megakaryocytes, regularly pinch off bits of their cytoplasm. These cell fragments, called platelets, contain no nuclei; they enter the bloodstream, where they play an important role in controlling blood clotting. A blood clot is a seal of a ruptured blood vessel. The ruptured vessel seals itself by generating a matrix of long fibers and trapped cells that fills the gap from components present in the plasma. In a clot the gluey substance is a protein called fibrin (derived from fibrinogen), which sticks platelets together to form a tight, strong seal. Recently scientists have discovered that the fibrin that forms blood clots is generated in a spreading cascade of molecular events .... The clotting process isinitiated by injury to blood vessel cells attracting platelets, which releases a protein factor that starts the cascade. At each stage in the cascade that follows, proteins from cells and blood combine in fast-rising waves, involving many more molecules in the progressive steps of the process. Billions of molecules of fibrin can be formed from a single clot-initiating event." (Raven P.H. & Johnson G.B., "Biology," , Wm. C. Brown: Dubuque IA, Third Edition, 1995, p.1064. Emphasis original) 20/04/2006 "Blood Clotting We all get cuts and scrapes from time to time, yet we do not bleed to death because blood contains a self-sealing material that plugs leaks inour vessels. The sealant is always present in our blood in an inactive form called fibrinogen. A clot forms only when this plasma protein is converted to its active form, fibrin, which aggregates into threads that form the fabric at the clot. The clotting mechanism usually begins with the release of clotting factors from platelets and involves a complex chain of reactions that ultimately transforms fibrinogen to fibrin .... More than a dozen clotting factors, have been discovered, and the mechanism is still not fully understood. ... The clotting process begins when the endothelium of a vessel is damaged and connective tissue in the vessel wall is exposed to blood. Platelets adhere to collagen fibers in the connective tissue and release a substance that makes nearby platelets sticky. (2) The platelets form a plug that provides emergency protection against blood loss. (3) This seal is reinforced by a clot of fibrin when vessel damage is more severe. Fibrin is formed via a multistep process: Clotting factors released from the clumped platelets or damaged cells mix with clotting factors in the plasma, forming an activator that converts a plasma protein called prothrombin to its active form, thrombin. Calcium and vitamin K are among the plasma factors required for this step. Thrombin itself is an enzyme that catalyzes the final step of the clotting process, the conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin. Thus, in a cascade of reactions, injury activates prothrombin to thrombin, which then activates fibrinogen to fibrin. The threads of fibrin become interwoven into a patch." (Campbell N.A., Reece J.B. & Mitchell L.G., "Biology," , Benjamin/Cummings: Menlo Park CA, Fifth Edition, 1999, pp.824-825. Emphasis original) 21/04/2006 "All biological reactions within human cells depend on enzymes. Their power as catalysts enables biological reactions to occur usually in milliseconds. But how slowly would these reactions proceed spontaneously, in the absence of enzymes - minutes, hours, days? ... Dr. Richard Wolfenden .... In 1998, he reported a biological transformation deemed `absolutely essential' in creating the building blocks of DNA and RNA would take 78 million years in water. `Now we've found one that's 10,000 times slower than that,' Wolfenden said. `Its half-time - the time it takes for half the substance to be consumed - is 1 trillion years, 100 times longer than the lifetime of the universe. Enzymes can make this reaction happen in 10 milliseconds.' Wolfenden, along with co-authors ... published a report of their new findings ... in the ... Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ... May 13. The report highlights the catalytic power of phosphatase enzymes to tremendously enhance the transformation rate in water of a specific group of biochemicals: phosphate monoesters. Protein phosphatase enzymes acting on these monoesters help regulate the molecular cross-talk within human cells, the cell signaling pathways and biochemical switches involved in health and disease. `We have esters floating around in our cells with all kinds of functions,' Wolfenden said. `Every aspect of cell signaling follows the action of the type of phosphatase enzyme that breaks down phosphate monoesters. Other phosphatases highlighted in the study for their catalytic power help mobilize carbohydrates from animal starch and play a role in transmission of hormonal signals.' As to the uncatalyzed phosphate monoester reaction of 1 trillion years, `This number puts us way beyond the known universe in terms of slowness,' he said. `(The enzyme reaction) is 21 orders of magnitude faster than the uncatalyzed case. And the largest we knew about previously was 18. We've approached scales than nobody can grasp.' ... `Without catalysts, there would be no life at all, from microbes to humans,' he said. `It makes you wonder how natural selection operated in such a way as to produce a protein that got off the ground as a primitive catalyst for such an extraordinarily slow reaction.' ... `The enzymes we studied in this report are fascinating because they exceed all other known enzymes in their power as catalysts. We've only begun to understand how to speed up reactions with chemical catalysts, and no one has even come within shouting distance of producing their catalytic power.'". (Lang L.H., "Without enzyme catalyst, slowest known biological reaction takes 1 trillion years, EurekAlert!, 5 May, 2003) 22/04/2006 "The act of creation may thus be viewed from two directions, as it were: from the side of the cosmos, and sub specie aeternitatis, as the Scholastics would say. According to the first point of view, things are created in temporal sequence: first one thing, then another, and so forth. Let us observe, moreover, that this corresponds to the perspective of the first chapter of Genesis, the perspective of the hexaemeron or the `six days.' But let us not fail to observe, too, that in the second chapter one encounters an entirely different outlook: `These are the generations of the heaven and the earth, when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the heaven and the earth, and every plant of the field before it sprung up in the earth, and every herb of the ground before it grew.' (Gen. 2:4-5).35 Now this corresponds to the second point of view. From `the standpoint of eternity' there are no longer six days, but only one. On its own ground, so to speak, the work of creation is accomplished in one absolutely simple and indivisible act. As we read in Ecclesiasticus (Ecclus. 18:1): Qui vivit in aeternum creavit omnia simul ('He that liveth in eternity created all things at once'). ... For as St. Augustine has observed, the metaphysical recognition that `the world was not made in time, but with time' entails the scriptural omnia simul as a logical consequence: `God, therefore, in His unchangeable eternity created simultaneously all things whence times flow...' They were not made in temporal succession, because they were not made in time. Yet, to be sure, created beings come to birth in time: they enter the world, as it were, at some particular moment. Each creature, in its cosmic manifestation, is thus associated with its own spatio-temporal locus: it fits somewhere into the universal network of secondary causes. But yet it is not created by these causes, nor is its being confined to that spatio-temporal locus: for its roots extend beyond the cosmos into the timeless instant of the creative act. That is the veritable `beginning' to which Genesis alludes when it declares: In principio creavit Deus caelum et terram. It is `the day that the Lord God made the heaven and the earth, and every plant of the field before it sprung up in the earth, and every herb in the ground before it grew.' Let there be no doubt about it: the creature is moreincomparably more!-than its visible manifestation. It does not coincide with the phenomenon. Even the tiniest plant that looms for a fortnight and then is seen no more is vaster in its metaphysical roots than the entire cosmos in its visible form: for these roots extend into eternity. And how much more does this apply to man! `Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee.'" (Jer. 1:5). (Smith W., "Teilhardism and the New Religion: A Thorough Analysis of the Teachings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin," Tan: Rockford IL., 1988, pp.17-18. Emphasis original) 22/04/2006 "An example of how prostaglandins function in paracrine signaling is seen in the activation of blood platelets. Platelets are essential components of the blood- clotting mechanism that plug sites where blood vessels are ruptured. Platelets are not true cells; they have no nucleus, and are produced by the fragmentation of certain bone marrow cells. Clotting is a complex cascade of enzymatic events that is triggered by injury and leads rapidly to the formation of a clot, a tangled mass of red blood cells, platelets, and fibers of a protein called fibrin. The clotting mechanism must be carefully regulated, because inappropriate blood clots lead quickly to life- threatening situations. The coronary arteries of the heart are only 1 millimeter or so in diameter, and most heart attacks result from a small blood clot that blocks coronary circulation. Similarly, clots in the venous system can produce phlebitis (inflammation of the veins) in the lower limbs and embolisms (obstructions) in the lungs. Thus, clot formation is essential, but it must be confined to the area where the damage occurs. Platelets have many different receptors that sense when a tissue is damaged. Most relevant to our discussion of paracrine regulation, platelets can be activated by members of the prostaglandin family such as thromboxane A2, as well as by extracellular adenosine diphosphate. These substances are released by activated platelets and then function as paracrine hormones to activate other platelets. ... Most of the known platelet activators act through G protein-linked receptors to activate phospholipase C, which triggers the release of calcium from a calcium- storing tubular network known as the dense tubular system; this results in the release of arachidonic acid. An enzymatic pathway starting with cyclooxygenase then converts the arachidonic acid to thromboxane A2. Thromboxane A2 diffuses out of the platelet and acts on G protein-linked thromboxane receptors of neighboring platelets. The thromboxane receptors in turn activate phospholipase C, triggering the activation of nearby platelets. As a result, platelets in the area are recruited to the site of injury." (Becker W.M., Kleinsmith L.J. & Hardin J., "The World of the Cell," , Benjamin/Cummings: San Francisco CA, Fourth edition, 2000, p.294. Emphasis original) 22/04/2006 "The Process of Platelet Activation. (a) Platelets are activated by several substances and aggregate upon activation, forming a blood clot. (1) Collagen exposed in a damaged blood vessel wall stimulates platelet activation and adherence. (2) Activated platelets release the platelet factors ADP and thromboxane A2 (TA2), which (3) stimulate the activation and aggregation of more platelets - the vicinity. The release of A2 and ADP is an example of paracrine signaling. (b) Paracrine signaling by platelets uses some of the same classes of receptors and signal transduction pathways described for the endocrine hormones. The receptors for thrombin, TA2, and collagen all appear to be G protein-linked receptors that activate phospholipase C. However, the activation of the thrombin receptor is unusual in that it depends on the protease thrombin removing a portion of the receptor protein. When newly exposed collagen in a damaged blood vessel wall binds to a G protein-linked collagen receptor, membrane phospholipase C is activated, causing the production of InsP3 and DAG, and ultimately the release of calcium from the dense tubular system. Increased calcium concentration inside the platelet stimulates the secretion of granules that contain growth factors and ADP. Phospholipase A is thought to be simultaneously activated by a G protein. The activation of phospholipase A2 releases arachidonic acid, which is converted to TA2. TA2 binds to the TA2 receptors on nearby platelets, causing elevated calcium levels, whereas ADP binds to what is probably a ligand-gated calcium channel. Both messengers stimulate platelets to aggregate." (Becker W.M., Kleinsmith L.J. & Hardin J., "The World of the Cell," , Benjamin/Cummings: San Francisco CA, Fourth edition, 2000, p.295) 22/04/2006 "However, the gradual change of fossil species has never been part of the evidence for evolution. In the chapters on the fossil record in the Origin of Species. Darwin showed that the record was useless for testing between evolution and special creation because it has great gaps in it. The same argument still applies. Eldredge and Gould pointed out the fossil record might be even less complete than Darwin had thought. ... In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favour of the theory of evolution as opposed to special creation." (Ridley, Mark, "Who doubts evolution?," New Scientist, Vol. 90, pp.830-832, 25 June 1981, p.831) 22/04/2006 "Slow though the process of selection may be, if feeble man can do much by artificial selection, I can see no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty and complexity of the co-adaptations between all organic beings, one with another and with their physical conditions of life, which may have been effected in the long course of time through nature's power of selection, that is by the survival of the fittest." (Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection," 1872, Sixth edition, Senate: London, 1994, pp.84-85) 22/04/2006 "Do lungs work because of a mutation 350 million years ago? AIR breathing developed independently many times in the history of evolution. But a subtle biological mechanism that allows lungs to function seems to have developed only once, and is still used by all air-breathing vertebrates, say researchers in Australia. Lungs need to expand and contract, but if the surface tension of liquid in the lungs is too high, the tissue sticks together and breathing is impossible. So in air-breathing vertebrates, the surface tension is lowered by a coating of proteins and lipids, called the surfactant system, on cells lining the lungs. Christopher Daniels and student Lucy Sulivan of the University of Adelaide compared the surfactant systems of 18 vertebrates, including fish, lizards, chickens and humans, and found that all make use of a key protein called surfactant protein A. They conclude in this month's Journal of Molecular Evolution that the surfactant system developed once in an ocean-dwelling ancestor about 350 million years ago, and has been used again and again as vertebrates developed lungs and crawled out of the water. `It's similar to the insulin system and haemoglobin-it's one of the things you have to have for the organism to do well,' says Daniels. `Since it evolved, it hasn't changed.' Daniels thinks the surfactant system may have developed first in the gut, as a way to regulate surface tension between the organs there. Even today, there are similar surfactant proteins in the guts of rats, he says. Because the lungs and the gut are closely related in the developing embryo, Daniels believes a genetic mutation may have shifted the surfactant to the lungs and made air breathing possible. Allan Smits of Quinnipiac College in Hamden, Connecticut, who also studies pulmonary surfactants, says Daniels's research on the surfactant system is convincing. `Clearly air breathing couldn't have developed without it,' he says. `It is definitely necessary for air breathing.'" (Kleiner K., "Breathing space," New Scientist, Vol 156, 11 October 1997, p.21) 23/04/2006 "The study of chemical evolution is strikingly similar to forensic science. Consistent with the uniformitarian view that life arose through processes still going on, numerous investigators have reported on laboratory observations and experiments which they offer as circumstantial evidence for the naturalistic origin of life. Though the conditions of the early earth are assumed to have been different from today's conditions, the processes are assumed to have been the same. According to this uniformitarian thinking, if we can reproduce in our laboratories today conditions as they were in the remote past, we should expect to obtain the kinds of changes that occurred then. This is the basis of prebiotic simulation experiments reported in chemical evolution literature. `Implicit in this [uniformitarian] assumption is the requirement that no supernatural agency "entered nature" at the time of the origin, was crucial to it, and then withdrew from history.' [Kenyon D.H. & Steinman G., "Biochemical Predestination," McGraw-Hill: New York, 1969, p.30]. (Actually all that is required for this assumption is that no intelligent-purposive-interruption or manipulation of the workings of natural forces ever occurred at the time of life's origin or since.)." (Thaxton C.B., Bradley W.L. & Olsen R.L., "The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories," , Lewis & Stanley: Dallas TX, 1992, Second printing, pp.7-8) 23/04/2006 "We believe the problem is analogous to that of the medieval alchemist who was commissioned to change copper into gold. Energy flow through a system can do chemical work and produce an otherwise improbable distribution of energy in the system (e.g., a water heater). Thermal entropy, however, seems to be physically independent from the information content of living systems which we have analyzed and called configurational entropy. As was pointed out, Yockey has noted that negative thermodynamic entropy (thermal) has nothing to do with information, and no amount of energy flow through the system and negative thermal entropy generation can produce even a small amount of information You can't get gold out of copper, apples out of oranges, or information out of negative thermal entropy. There does not seem to be any physical basis for the widespread assumption implicit in the idea that an open system is a sufficient explanation for the complexity of life. As we have previously noted, there is neither a theoretical nor an experimental basis for this hypothesis. There is no hint in our experience of any mechanistic means of supplying the necessary configurational entropy work. Enzymes and human intelligence, however, do it routinely."(Thaxton C.B., Bradley W.L. & Olsen R.L., "The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories," , Lewis & Stanley: Dallas TX, 1992, Second printing, p.183) 23/04/2006 "We cannot disagree that there is need for an alternative to chemical evolution. In recognition of the fact that Panspermia offers no theory of origins, it must implicitly assume chemical evolution on some other locale in the cosmos, where conditions are more favorable than on earth. Many of the objections raised concerning terrestrial chemical evolution must, however, apply to other planets by the principle of uniformity. In any setting it comes down to the fact that natural forces acting alone must be capable of supplying the necessary configurational entropy work of building the protein, DNA etc., and then assembling the cell. We know by experience that intelligent investigators can synthesize proteins and build genes. We still have no evidence it can be done by unassisted abiotic means. " (Thaxton C.B., Bradley W.L. & Olsen R.L., "The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories," Lewis & Stanley: Dallas TX, 1992, pp.193-194) 23/04/2006 "Consider, for example, the matter of accounting for the informational molecule, DNA. We have observational evidence in the present that intelligent investigators can (and do) build contrivances to channel energy down non random chemical pathways to bring about some complex chemical synthesis, even gene building. May not the principle of uniformity then be used in al broader frame of consideration to suggest that DNA had an intelligent cause at the beginning? Usually the answer given is no. But theoretically, at least, it would seem the answer should be yes in order to avoid the charge that the deck is stacked in favor of naturalism. We know that in numerous cases certain effects always have intelligent causes, such as dictionaries, sculptures, machines and paintings we reason by analogy that similar effects also have intelligent causes. For example, after looking up to see `BUY FORD' spelled out in smoke across the sky we infer the presence of a skywriter even if we heard or saw no airplane. We would similarly conclude; the presence of intelligent activity were we to come upon an elephant-shaped topiary in a cedar forest. In like manner an intelligible communication via radio signal from some distant galaxy would be widely hailed as evidence of and intelligent source. Why then doesn't the message sequence on them DNA molecule also constitute prima facie evidence for an intelligent source? After all, DNA information is not just analogous to a message sequence such as Morse code, it is such a message sequence [Yockey H.P., J. Theoret. Biol. Vol. 91, 1981, p. 13]. The so-called Shannon information laws apply equally to the genetic code and to the Morse code. True, our knowledge of intelligence has been restricted to biology-based advanced organisms, but it is currently argued by some that intelligence exists in complex non-biological computer circuitry. If our minds are capable of imagining intelligence freed from biology in this sense, then why not in the sense of an intelligent being before biological life existed? " (Thaxton, et al., ibid., pp.210- 211) 24/04/2006 "Spurious accounts that snare, the gullible are readily available. Sceptical treatments are much harder to find. Scepticism does not sell well. A bright and curious person who relies entirely on popular culture to be informed about something ... is hundreds or thousands of times more likely to come upon a fable treated uncritically than a sober and balanced assessment. ... all instances of pseudoscience. ... purport to use the methods and findings of science, while in fact they are faithless to its nature - often because they are based on insufficient evidence or because they ignore clues that point the other way. They ripple with gullibility. With the uninformed cooperation (and often the cynical connivance) of newspapers, magazines, book publishers, radio, television, movie producers and the like, such ideas are easily and widely available. ... Pseudoscience is easier to contrive than science, because distracting confrontations with reality - where we cannot control the outcome of the comparison - are more readily avoided. The standards of argument, what passes for evidence, are much more relaxed. In part for these same reasons, it is much easier to present pseudoscience to the general public than science. ... Pseudoscience differs from erroneous science. Science thrives on errors, cutting them away one by one. False conclusions are drawn all the time, but they are drawn tentatively. Hypotheses are framed so they are capable of being disproved. A succession of alternative hypotheses is confronted by experiment and observation. Science gropes and staggers toward improved understanding. Proprietary feelings are of course offended when a scientific hypothesis is disproved, but such disproofs are recognized as central to the scientific enterprise. Pseudoscience is just the opposite. Hypotheses are often framed precisely so they are invulnerable to any experiment that offers a prospect of disproof, so even in principle they cannot be invalidated. Practitioners are defensive and wary. Sceptical scrutiny is opposed. ...The scientific way of thinking is at once imaginative and disciplined. This is central to its success. Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don't conform to our preconceptions. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which best fit the facts. It urges on us a delicate balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous sceptical scrutiny of everything - new ideas and established wisdom. ... One of the reasons for its success is that science has built-in, error-correcting machinery at its very heart. Some may consider this an overbroad characterization, but to me every time we exercise self-criticism, every time we test our ideas against the outside world, we are doing science. When we are self-indulgent and uncritical, when we confuse hopes and facts, we slide into pseudoscience and superstition. ... Again, the reason science works so well is partly that built-in error-correcting machinery. There are no forbidden questions in science, no matters too sensitive or delicate to be probed, no sacred truths. That openness to new ideas, combined with the most rigorous, sceptical scrutiny of all ideas, sifts the wheat from the chaff. It makes no difference how smart, august or beloved you are. You must prove your case in the face of determined, expert criticism. Diversity and debate are valued. Opinions are encouraged to contend - substantively and in depth." (Sagan C.E., "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," , Headline: London, 1997, reprint, pp.9, 17, 25, 30, 34) 24/04/2006 "Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? There isn't a religion on the planet that doesn't long for a comparable ability - precise, and repeatedly demonstrated before committed sceptics - to foretell future events. No other human institution comes close. Is this worshipping at the altar of science? Is this replacing one faith by another, equally arbitrary? In my view, not at all. The directly observed success of science is the reason I advocate its use. If something else worked better, I would advocate the something else. Does science insulate itself from philosophical criticism? Does it define itself as having a monopoly on the `truth'? Think again of that eclipse a thousand years in the future. Compare as many doctrines as you can think of, note what predictions they make of the future, which ones are vague, which ones are precise, and which doctrines - every one of them subject to human fallibility - have error- correcting mechanisms built in. Take account of the fact that not one of them is perfect. Then simply pick the one that in a fair comparison works best (as opposed to feels) best. If different doctrines are superior in quite separate and independent fields, we are of course free to choose several - but not if they contradict one another. Far from being idolatry, this is the means by which we can distinguish the false idols from the real thing." (Sagan C.E., "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," , Headline: London, 1997, reprint, p.33) 24/04/2006 "Nevertheless in spite of all these differences which may be classed as racial, subracial, or familial, all living human types are so much alike that they can and do interbreed and produce fertile offspring. By general agreement among naturalists this fact indicates that all types of living men belong to a single species, which was euphemistically named by the great Swedish naturalist, Carl Linne in 1758, sapiens, or the wise, the knowing. All of these two thousand million living individuals, of the three to six primary races, more than four hundred subraces and tribes,' and innumerable hybrids, belong to a single zoological family, the Hominidae, a single genus, Homo, and a single species, sapiens. No other family, genus, and species of higher animals occupies so solitary a position in the animal kingdom, no other is so widely distributed over the earth's surface, no other is so dominant over all other animals and over all conditions of existence." (Conklin E.G., "Man Real and Ideal: Observations and Reflections on Man's Nature, Development, and Destiny," Charles Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1943, pp.22-23) 24/04/2006 "This dominion of man over other creatures and conditions has made it possible for man to occupy the whole earth. There is no region of tropic heat or polar ice where he has not penetrated, no mountain areas or plains or deserts he has not occupied, no conditions however adverse he has not attempted to conquer, usually with success. This dominion of man is due to his marvellous adaptability and his unique inventiveness. He not only adjusts his physiological processes to widely different environments, such as high and low temperatures and altitudes, various kinds and quantities of food and drink, numerous kinds of poisons and parasites, but he alone of all animals is able in large measure to control his environment, to modify or change climates by means of migration, clothing, housing, and air conditioning, and to bring food and drink and clothing from the ends of the earth." (Conklin E.G., "Man Real and Ideal: Observations and Reflections on Man's Nature, Development, and Destiny," Charles Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1943, p.23) 24/04/2006 "Practically all students of biology recognize the enormous difficulty, if not the impossibility, of accounting for all the numerous adaptations of an organism to its environment and all the multitude of coadaptations of the parts of an organism which are necessary to bring about their harmonious cooperation to a specific end, by the sole method of natural selection, that is, by random mutations followed by the elimination of those individuals that are not well adapted. Even if innumerable mutations and eliminations occur this seems a wholly inadequate cause; almost as improbable as the production of the Tragedy of Hamlet by a series of explosions in a composing room. There must be some other directing principle than mere chance in the production of such multitudes of beautifully coordinated structures and functions leading to an apparently designed end. Consider, for example, the improbability of being able to explain by such means the origin of all the adaptations and coadaptations of the eye of man-the remarkable fitness of the retina with its rods and cones and other elements for receiving and transmitting the stimuli of light of varying intensities and wavelengths; the beautiful dioptric apparatus of transparent cornea, lens and humors, the elastic lens with the ciliary muscles for focusing the light coming from near or far objects, the iris with its intrinsic muscles for controlling the amount of light admitted; the intrinsic nerve supply and blood vessels; the accessory parts for the protection of this delicate apparatus, the eyeball with its tough outer coat, the eye socket and bony orbit, eyelids and eyelashes and eyebrows, lachrymal glands and ducts, etc. Is it possible that all these adaptations and coadaptations have been produced by purely fortuitous mutations followed by elimination of those individuals that were not well adapted? Do we not load upon chance mutations an impossible burden in requiring it to provide all the structures and functions for such remarkable fitness? It is no wonder that Darwin is reported to have said he never thought of attempting to explain the origin of the eye without a shudder. (Conklin E.G., "Man Real and Ideal: Observations and Reflections on Man's Nature, Development, and Destiny," Charles Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1943, pp.51-52) 25/04/2006 "Argumentum ab Annis (argument because of age). This fallacy makes the mistake of thinking that all truth is subject to aging. It sets time as an authority, with new ideas being more valuable than old ones. You have heard people say, `This is wrong because it is dated,' or `That's an old view.' Advertisers love this gimmick because some people will buy anything that says, `New! Improved!' Really, though, it is just chronological snobbery. ... In each case there is an assumption that truth depends on age. A belief is rejected because it is old or young. But that is beside the point. What is the evidence for the position? What reasoning supports it? It doesn't matter how many birthdays it's had." (Geisler N.L.* & Brooks R.M.*, "Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking," Baker: Grand Rapids, MI, 1990, p.99) 25/04/2006 "If Darwin impressed Lyell with natural selection, the notebooks record no hint. These private jottings are distinguished by Lyell's nearly total lack of interest in mechanisms of evolutionary change - a decidedly peculiar attitude if Lyell wavered because Darwin's theory had convinced him. The entries record a few passages of criticism, for Lyell never accepted natural selection, much to Darwin's disappointment. I particularly like Lyell's Hindu metaphor, so well expressing the classical objection that natural selection may act as an executioner of the unfit, but cannot create the fit: `If we take the three attributes of the deity of the Hindoo Triad, the Creator, Brahmar, the preserver or sustainer, Vishnu, and the destroyer, Siva, Natural Selection will be a combination of the two last but without the first, or the creative power, we cannot conceive the others having any function' (in Wilson, 1970, 369). " (Gould S.J., "Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time," Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1987, p.171) 25/04/2006 "Darwin's contemporaries understood that natural selection hinged on the argument for creativity. Natural selection can only eliminate the unfit, his opponents proclaimed; something else must create the fit. Thus, the American Neo-Lamarckian E. D. Cope wrote a book with the sardonic title The Origin of the Fittest, and Charles Lyell complained to Darwin that he could understand how selection might operate like two members of the `Hindoo triad'-Vishnu the preserver and Siva the destroyer-but not like Brahma the creator (7). The claim for creativity has important consequences and prerequisites that also become part of the Darwinian corpus. Most prominently, three constraints are imposed on the nature of genetic variation (or at least the evolutionarily significant portion of it). (i) It must be copious since selection makes nothing directly and requires a large pool of raw material. (ii) It must be small in scope. If new species characteristically arise all at once, then the fit are formed by the process of variation itself, and natural selection only plays the negative role of executioner for the unfit. True saltationist theories have always been considered anti-Darwinian on this basis. (iii) It must be undirected. If new environments can elicit heritable, adaptive variation, then creativity lies in the process of variation, and selection only eliminates the unfit. Lamarckism is an anti-Darwinian theory because it advocates directed variation; organisms perceive felt needs, adapt their bodies accordingly, and pass these modifications directly to offspring." (Gould S.J., "Darwinism and the Expansion of Evolutionary Theory," Science, Vol. 216, 23 April 1982, pp.380-387, p.381). 25/04/2006 "The relationship between gravity and life revolves around two features of this peculiar force that holds together individual stars and entire galaxies. These features are quite crucial for cosmogonic processes. The first point is that gravity drives things farther from equilibrium, not towards equilibrium. When gravitating systems lose energy they get hotter; for example, an artificial satellite speeds up as it spirals downwards due to atmospheric drag. Another example is the Sun. If the heat it loses were not balanced by the release of energy by nuclear fusion in its interiorly the Sun would contract and deflate-but it would thereby end up hotter inside than before. It needs more pressure inside it to balance the stronger tug of gravity when it is more compressed. This runs counter to the general rule of thermodynamics, that hot objects left to their own devices (like a glowing lump of hot steel) radiate heat and get cooler. From the initial Big Bang to our present Solar System, this antithermodynamic behaviour of gravity has been amplifying density contrast and creating temperature gradients prerequisites for the emergence of any complexity in the Universe. The second key feature of gravity, in our Universe, is its weakness. Our Universe is large and diffuse and evolves slowly because gravity is so weak. The extravagant scale of the Universe, billions of light-years, is necessary to provide enough time for the cooking of elements inside stars and for interesting complexity to evolve around even just one star in just one galaxy. There would be less time and less so ope for such evolution in the small-scale speeded-up universe discussed above, where gravity is stronger than in ours. A force like gravity is essential if structures are to emerge from amorphous starting points; but, paradoxically, the weaker that force is, the greater and more complex are its consequences." (Gribbin J.R. & Rees M.J., "Cosmic Coincidences: Dark Matter, Mankind, and Anthropic Cosmology," Bantam Books: New York NY, 1989, pp.267-268. Emphasis original) 25/04/2006 "The predicament is easily resolved when a critical point is recalled: EVIDENCE OF COMMON DESCENT IS NOT EVIDENCE OF NATURAL SELECTION. Homologies among proteins (or organisms) are the evidence for descent with modification - that is, for evolution. Natural selection, however, is a proposed explanation for how evolution might take place - its mechanism - and so must be supported by other evidence if the question is not to be begged. This, of course, is a well-known distinction (Mayr 1991). Yet, from reviewers' responses to my book, the distinction is often overlooked. Knowledge of homology is certainly very useful, can give us a good idea of the path of descent, and can constrain our hypotheses. Nonetheless, knowledge of the sequence, structure, and function of relevant proteins is by itself insufficient to justify a claim that evolution of a particular complex system occurred by natural selection. Gene duplication is not a Darwinian explanation because duplication points only to common descent, not to the mechanism of evolution." (Behe M.J., "In Defense of the Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade: Response to Russell Doolittle, Ken Miller and Keith Robison," Discovery Institute, July 31, 2000. Emphasis original) 25/04/2006 "Since we do not understand how the plan on which all these structures are built changes over evolutionary time, we cannot claim to have explained the evolutionary mechanism. If a fin becomes a leg, the moulding forces have palpably modified their plan - if they have a plan. Evolutionary history is a mass of such modifications; one could almost say it consists of them. Scales become feathers. Legs become wings. Stomachs become swim bladders. Even at the level of biochemical processes, substitutions and elaborations occur. All Darwinism has to say about such miracles is that they are due to chance." (Taylor G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, p.10) 25/04/2006 "But the real objection to neo-Darwinism is that it `explains' too much. (If explains is the word.) If a creature acquires a new feature, it can always be argued that it was advantageous. There are, for instance, a few genera of warm-blooded fishes. So it is argued that this enables them to swim faster and thus to capture fast-moving prey. But no experiments have been done, as far as I know, to show that this favours their survival. If it really is an advantage, why (one may ask) has it not become more general? Cold-blooded fish constitute an immensely successful group. As Professor G.C. Williams of Princeton has said: `The mere presence of an adaptation is no argument for its necessity.' Neo-Darwinism, he complains, `has provided very little guidance in the work of biologists'. It has provided few generalisations and is too often employed `to give a vague aura of validity to conclusions on adaptive evolution'. And he adds acidly: `A biologist can make any theory seem scientifically acceptable by merely adorning his arguments with the forms and symbols of natural selection.'" (Taylor G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, pp.1-11) 25/04/2006 "If Darwin had confined himself to saying that advantageous changes would be perpetuated by natural selection, there would be nothing to worry about. But he went much further. He said (1) that all changes which became fixed did so in this way; (2) that all changes occurred by imperceptible gradations; and (3) that all changes arose in the first instance by chance. ... Although he called his seminal work The Origin of Species, Darwin pushed his idea further, claiming that not merely the difference between species but that all such differences - those between birds and mammals, between fish and insects, between corals and reptiles -had arisen by the same process." (Taylor G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, pp.17-18. Emphasis original) 25/04/2006 "The greatest advance in the evolution of fishes was from a form without bony jaws to a more efficient form equipped with jaws. 'The importance of this evolutionary development can hardly be overestimated', writes the former Curator of Fossil Reptiles and Amphibians at the American Museum of Natural History, Edwin H. Colbert. It 'offered new possibilities of evolutionary advancement that expanded immeasurably the potentialities of these animals'. Why, then, do we still find lampreys, which are jawless fishes, doing very well today? If possessing jaws was such a wonderful advantage, why did not the jawless fishes realist how backward they were and succumb?" (Taylor G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, p.26) 25/04/2006 "When we survey the evolutionary story, from the first multicellular creatures up to man we soon get the feeling that from time to time there was a dramatic change of plan - and indeed of lifestyle - that is quite inconsistent with the slow accumulation of imperceptible changes upon which Darwin based his theory. Evolutionists call such discontinuities 'saltations' (that is, jumps). The study of evolution in this large sense is sometimes called megaevolution, in contrast with the micro-evolution of species; the term macro- evolution is also used but is ambiguous, since some workers use it for evolution only slightly above the species level. ... The most obvious and striking of these major steps was the step from sea to land, a step taken some 360 million years ago. Suddenly, four-legged air-breathing creatures appeared - quite unlike the scaly, limbless, waterbreathing fishes which had been the most prolific creatures up to this time. ... So why did the fishes invade the land? No one knows. The real obstacles to such a move were the massive structural changes needed to make life on land worthwhile. To begin with, the fish would need legs simply in order to relieve the pressure of its body on the ground, which would compress the lungs. Equally importantly, the land animal needs a strong pelvic girdle. The fins of fishes are attached only to bony plates beneath the skin and could not support the weight of the body until a link had been provided to transmit their support to the spine. There were problems with the front suspension too, for in fishes the forward fins are firmly linked to the skull. Turned into legs, the animal would have to move its head from side to side with each step, so a new system of suspension had to be provided. Finally, since the weight of the body was no longer taken by the water, the spine itself needed strengthening. We are all so used to the idea of bone that it is hard for us to realise what a milestone the creation of bone was. Without bone, or something very like it, many terrestrial creatures could not support themselves against the drag of gravity. ... And so on to the next step, because land animals must also protect their body from drying out, by swapping scales for an impervious skin. Actually, the skin of some modern amphibians is quite sophisticated: it admits water when the creature returns to that element, the increased permeability being under hormonal control. We do not know if anything of the kind occurred in primitive amphibians. Land animals also need to protect their eyes from drying by a flow of tears and need an eyelid to protect it from dust particles. Similarly the nose must be protected by a supply of mucus. The land animal must also change its sense organs. It no longer needs the curious organ which runs along its side called a lateral line, and this is converted, by an amazing series of steps which I shall shortly describe, into the ear. The eye, too, changes, since the refractive index of air is different from that of water and no doubt there are modifications in the sense of smell ... And then, of course, there is the problem of the legs themselves. Before ever the fish reached the land the structure of its fins began to change. Instead of rays, a series of bones corresponding to the tibia, radius and ulna of the arm appeared. Digits, tarsals and metatarsals evolved (so it is now generally conceded) as wholly new structures, though the point - unwelcome to Darwinians - was hotly contested in the 1930s. The fish which decided to remain fish very sensibly, converted their lungs into swim-bladders with which they could regulate the depth at which they swam. Though we have this clue in the bone-structure of the crossopterygian fin there are no intermediate forms between finned and limbed creatures in the fossil collections of the world. Once again the critical evidence for gradual evolution is missing. The earliest definitely four-footed creatures known were found in strata some 370 million years old in Greenland, which at that time was not icy but had a mild climate. Known as Ichthyostegids, they possessed a five-toed foot but retained the fishy tail and the lateral line of their fishy ancestors. Their skulls, however, were already typically amphibian and their jaws were equipped with teeth. About three feet long, they probably lived in shallow waters and impaled small fish on their sharp teeth. They are the nearest we can get to a 'missing link' in this context." ... All that need concern us is the larger question of whether such an impressive array of coordinated changes could have taken place by chance, and have done so without leaving in the fossil record a single intermediate form to prove the point. As Darwin complained: 'Where are the infinitely numerous transitional links' that would illustrate the action of natural selection? Not here, at any rate." (Taylor G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, pp.55-57, 59-61) 29/04/2006 We are all so used to the idea of bone that it is hard for us to realise what a milestone the creation of bone was. Without bone, or something very like it, many terrestrial creatures could not support themselves against the drag of gravity. ... Bone has a precise, indeed an unique, structure, being composed of mineral and living matter interspersed. The strength of bone comes from the mineral component: crystals of hydroxyapatite; the adaptability from the living collagen. The two are arranged in specific patterns, with spaces reserved for living bone-making cells and for blood vessels. You may be one of those who think of bone as inert, stony, almost eternal. In fact it is highly mobile, almost fluid on the evolutionary scale. Bone- building cells add to it here, bone-destroying cells erode it there, until it is sculptured into a different form, even in the span of a single lifetime. On the evolutionary scale, of course, much bigger changes are possible. If one of the larger bones is sliced in half, it is seen to contain a spongework of criss-crossing sheets, the trabeculae, which align themselves in precisely the best way to absorb the stresses to which that particular bone, in that individual, is being subjected. Like the network of girders which support a bridge or a structure like the Eiffel Tower, this gives strength for a minimum of weight. In addition the major bones contain a cavity, lined with a special sheath, which generates the blood cells needed by the blood. Human blood cells have a life of only 120 days, and you and I rely on our marrow providing a stream of replacements. Another membrane covers the exterior. (It is from the internal and external sheaths that the bone-making cells come.) Then there is the mystery of joints with their capsule of cartilage and their remarkable lubricant, the synovial fluid. It is obvious that the creation of bone required not one but a whole burst of mutations, all integrated to a single end - an incredible thing to happen by chance even if nothing else had been going on." (Taylor G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, p.57) 26/04/2006 "Descent from a common ancestor is a frequent explanation for common features in different species of organism. All mammals have hair because the single species from which cows, rabbits, whales, people, bats, etc., evolved was hairy, and because hair had become a fixed characteristic by the time this common ancestor appeared. Sometimes one can be misled. The wings of the bird and the beetle were discovered independently: they are not to be explained in terms of common ancestry. So one has to be careful. But where a feature is functionally not critical; where it appears to be a mere convention; where it could very well have been otherwise - then one is on stronger ground. If there are many shared characteristics of this sort then one is on very strong ground. That there are many 'conventional' aspects of our central biochemistry allows us to assert with some confidence what is a very widely held view that the unity of biochemistry arises because all organisms on Earth are descended from a single common ancestor within which certain features had already been fixed. Of course the fixed features referred to are precisely those features that constitute the unity of biochemistry. We might surmise (from point two) that these features became fixed through interlocking of functions. In any case (from point three) this last common ancestor of all life on the Earth was already highly evolved. Its fixed conventions were to be passed on eventually to all living forms on the Earth." (Cairns-Smith A.G., "Seven Clues to the Origin of Life: A Scientific Detective Story," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, reprint, p.41. Emphasis original) 26/04/2006 "... we turn our attention to the wonderful problem of the origin of life. ... To many recent scholars - Wald (1954), Hoyle and Wickramasinghe (1981), and others - improbable features of current organisms imply improbable origins. If the probability that a protein catalyzes a given reaction is 10-20 and if a minimal contemporary organism such as a pleuromona-like organism has on the order of 1000 or 2000 enzymes, then the probability of their joint occurrence by chance is, say, 10-40 000. More likely that, as Hoyle says, the whirlwind assemble a 747 from scraps in a junkyard. Yet here we are, in quite clear contravention to Hoyle's unhappy conclusion. We the lucky, or we the expected?" (Kauffman S.A., "The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution," Oxford University Press: New York NY, 1993, p.287) 27/04/2006 "This process of protein synthesis is known as 'translation', since the genetic message is now being translated from the language of DNA and RNA (i.e. from the language of nucleic acids) into the language of proteins. The entire process of decoding a gene into a protein, involving both transcription (the production of the mRNA) and translation (use of the mRNA to make protein) is known as gene 'expression'. And remember that all of the enzymes needed to catalyse gene expression are themselves produced by the expression of their genes; and all the other types of RNA, such as tRNAs and the RNAs found in ribosomes, are produced by the transcription of genes that encode them. So DNA and RNA are needed to make proteins, while proteins are needed to make DNA and RNA, and also to assemble proteins. This presents us with a 'chicken and egg' type of dilemma: how could DNA and RNA (or any similar nucleic acid) have first formed and been replicated without proteins; or how could proteins have first formed without the DNA genes and mRNAs needed to encode them, and without the other proteins needed to catalyse their manufacture? That is really the central issue facing scientists trying to explain the origin of life on earth - how did self-replicating systems of genes encoding proteins that make new genes and proteins ... first arise?" (Scott A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, p.39. Ellipses original) 29/04/2006 "But design is not a science stopper. Indeed, design can foster inquiry where traditional evolutionary approaches obstruct it. Consider the term `junk DNA.' Implicit in this term is the view that because the genome of an organism has been cobbled together through a long, undirected evolutionary process, the genome is a patchwork of which only limited portions are essential to the organism. Thus on an evolutionary view we expect a lot of useless DNA. If, on the other hand, organisms are designed, we expect DNA, as much as possible, to exhibit function. And indeed, the most recent findings suggest that designating DNA as `junk' merely cloaks our current lack of knowledge about function. For instance, in a recent issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, John Bodnar describes how `non- coding DNA in eukaryotic genomes encodes a language which programs organismal growth and development.' Design encourages scientists to look for function where evolution discourages it." (Dembski W.A., "Science and Design," First Things, 86, October 1998, pp.21-27) 29/04/2006 Design is not a science-stopper. Indeed design can foster inquiry where traditional evolutionary approaches obstruct it. Consider the term `junk DNA.' Implicit in this term is the view that because the genome of an organism has been cobbled together through a long, undirected evolutionary process, the genome is a patchwork of which only limited portions are essential to the organism. Thus on an evolutionary view we expect a lot of useless DNA. If, on the other hand, organisms are designed, we expect DNA as much as possible to exhibit function. And indeed the most recent findings suggest that designating DNA as `junk' merely cloaks our current lack of knowledge about function. For instance, in a 1997 issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, John Bodnar and his colleagues describe how `non-coding DNA in eukaryotic genomes encodes a language which programs organismal growth and development.' [Bodnar, J.W., Killian, J., Nagle, M. & Ramchandani, S., "Deciphering the Language of the Genome,"Journal of Theoretical Biology, 189, 1997, p.183] Design encourages scientists to look for function where evolution discourages it." (Dembski W.A., "Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1999, p.150) 29/04/2006 "Scientists already are using knowledge gained from the just-completed Human Genome Project. Like Dumpster divers who find gold in garbage bins, Case Western Reserve University researchers have identified valuable genetic material in what had been dismissed as `junk' sections of human DNA. The material isn't a gene itself but is involved somehow in the complex, mysterious process by which genes cooperate to build a living organism. ... `There's so much more to the biology of a system than just genes,' said lead researcher Evan Eichler ... Since humans, apes, flies and worms have mostly the same genes, `it may be all this other [non-gene] stuff that makes us human.' ... Some segments of the DNA strand are genes. They hold recipes for making proteins ... But there are other stretches of DNA, long sections between genes and within the working regions of genes, that seemingly have no purpose other than to take up space If the entire length of human DNA - the genome - were a book, it would have some pages filled with recognizable words and sentences and others covered with what looks like gibberish. The latter has been dubbed `junk DNA' by many researchers. ... While it's clear that the non-gene segments of DNA don't do what genes do - make proteins - a few researchers have speculated that the regions might contain more than just junk. ... `Junk DNA is a very unfortunate term,' Eichler said. Appraising the material's true value `is a critical first step in understanding the complexity of our genome, and how this complexity has evolved to build an organism." (Mangels, J., "CWRU researchers find value in `junk'," Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 27, 2000) 29/04/2006 The first in-depth look into the human genome shows it is much more complicated than the clear blueprint of how to make a human that scientists had hoped for. Instead of having DNA packed with tens of thousands of new genes that make people different from mice, fruit flies and worms, it seems we have relatively few genes -- just 30,000 or 40,000 ... Earlier estimates had ranged from 60,000 to 100,000. The two separate teams of scientists, who say they were shocked and awed by their findings, say this means that genes may not be the be-all and end- all of what makes an organism. They know that each gene `expresses' or controls a protein. And they now know that the proteins must mix and match in ways more important than previously thought. But they also know they are going to have to go back and dig through the trash can of the genome -- the so-called `junk DNA' that many had believed played no important role at all. `I call it the alleged junk,' Eric Lander, head of genome sequencing at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said ... `The junk is amazing.' Lander, whose institute ... played a large role in the publicly funded Human Genome Project , said researchers will be taking a long hard look at the junk. ... Genes sometimes control what is expressed by other genes, but it could be the `junk' DNA plays a role as well, said the scientists .... Their surprising finding is that the relatively few genes found in the 3.1 billion base pairs are clumped up. In between are vast spaces of `desert,' repeats of nucleotides that look like meaningless stutters. However, Lander said some of these, which often repeat the same sequence over and over again, look like guideposts to evolutionary history. `By taking all the repeat elements in genome, we can put them together into a family tree,' Lander said. `The genome now becomes a fossil record.' It had been known that viruses known as retroviruses could make their DNA a permanent part of ours -- and also of all the other mammals -- but the scientists found evidence that bacteria did the same thing. Lander said his team can already tell that, way back before humans became humans, our ancestors stopped getting so many new genes from viruses and bacteria and stopped moving genes around inside the genome, a process known as transposition. `The rate of transposition, the rate of hopping, has plummeted in recent times, in the past 30 million to 40 million years,' Lander said. `We don't know why. This hasn't happened in the mouse. Entire classes of junk DNA have gone extinct.' But other junk DNA thought to have been useless, hints at being very important. One example is a piece of repetitive DNA called an Alu sequence. `It turns out the genome cares a lot about getting the Alus to be near genes,' he said. The Alus seem to have come into the genome fairly recently, and into gene-poor areas. But the transposition process moves them closer to actual working genes. `If they are selected for, they have a function,' he said. One possibility is dealing with stress. `Suppose you need to regulate proteins under stress -- do you want to use a protein? No,' he said. Any regulatory protein would also get stressed. `You'd want something that was extremely abundant and near genes. Maybe it turns out Alu is our friend. We have been calling it junk for all these years.' So perhaps humans have learned to make so with so few genes by using other DNA elements to help them out." (Fox, M., "Junk DNA May Not Be Such Junk," Yahoo!, February 13, 2001) 29/04/2006 The collapse of the doctrine of one gene for one protein, and one direction of causal flow from basic codes to elaborate totality, marks the failure of reductionism for the complex system that we call biology - and for two major reasons. First, the key to complexity is not more genes, but more combinations and interactions generated by fewer units of code - and many of these interactions (as emergent properties, to use the technical jargon) must be explained at the level of their appearance, for they cannot be predicted from the separate underlying parts alone. So organisms must be explained as organisms, and not as a summation of genes. Second, the unique contingencies of history, not the laws of physics, set many properties of complex biological systems. Our 30,000 genes make up only 1 percent or so of our total genome. The rest - including bacterial immigrants and other pieces that can replicate and move - originate more as accidents of history than as predictable necessities of physical laws. Moreover, these noncoding regions, disrespectfully called `junk DNA,' also build a pool of potential for future use that, more than any other factor, may establish any lineage's capacity for further evolutionary increase in complexity. The deflation of hubris is blessedly positive, not cynically disabling. The failure of reductionism doesn't mark the failure of science, but only the replacement of an ultimately unworkable set of assumptions by more appropriate styles of explanation that study complexity at its own level and respect the influences of unique histories. Yes, the task will be much harder than reductionistic science imagined. But our 30,000 genes - in the glorious ramifications of their irreducible interactions - have made us sufficiently complex and at least potentially adequate for the task ahead. " (Gould, S.J., "Humbled by the Genome's Mysteries," The New York Times, February 19, 2001) 29/04/2006 In his most telling experiment, Carl Schmid put 18 mice in a `hot tub' for about a half-hour to induce a feverish stress. Afterward, the scientist analyzed the animals' genetic material to see how it reacted to the 108-degree heat. One particular segment, he found, increased in volume 40 times. Did Schmid discover a gene for stress? One might think so, except the piece of genetic material that ballooned is not technically a gene. In fact, it's a segment that historically has been categorized in biology as `junk DNA.' Schmid has long been fascinated by the so-called junk, which makes him a rarity among molecular biologists. But now that a draft of the human genome is completed, scientists realize that more than 90 percent of the genome is not genes but the `junk.' And on closer inspection, the junk sequences look like they might tell much more about human evolution and biology than previously thought. `It certainly says that before we dismiss any part of human DNA as uninteresting, we ought to take a close look at it,' said Eric Lander, lead scientist in the government-sponsored Human Genome Project. `It is, after all, a product of 3 billion years of evolution. It may be just a little bit flip for us to decide that there's nothing we can learn from things that evolution produced in 3 billion years of handiwork.' In the past, molecular biologists have been interested primarily in genes -- tidy sequences of DNA that give instructions to the body to make proteins or construct cell machinery. Proteins are the workhorses of the cells, the molecules that conduct the business of life. The junk sequences don't instruct the body to make proteins, and they have no proven function. But just because no one knows of a function, does that necessarily mean none exists? `That's the issue,' said Schmid, who teaches at the University of California, Davis. `We know there's a lot of DNA that we don't know its function. The fact that we don't know its function doesn't mean it doesn't have a function.' .... The idea that the junk may not be junky hearkens back to the early days of molecular biology. The prevailing view once was that all DNA was useful to the body. Then, two different teams of scientists published commentaries in the journal Nature in 1980 suggesting that some DNA is `selfish' -- that it exists simply for the sake of existing. Francis Crick, who co-discovered the structure of DNA, and Leslie Orgel, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, wrote: ` The conviction has been growing that much of this extra DNA is 'junk.' ` W. Ford Doolittle and Carmen Sapienza ... argued that DNA evolved to copy and insert itself randomly throughout the genome, and that its `only function is self- preservation.' The men who popularized the notion of junk DNA believe in it yet. ... Schmid at UC Davis said there may well be junk in our DNA, but he believes the sequence he's studying isn't part of it. His experiments intriguingly suggest that the `ALU repeats' serve some sort of role helping genes deal with stress. .... Other junk sequences are likewise intriguing, said Lander, director of the Center for Genome Research at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass. For example, the body seems to have crafted 50 genes out of junk sequences known as transposons, so named because they are transposable, moving around the genome like text copied and duplicated in a computer file. It turns out that two of those genes are important to the immune system, Lander said. ... Summing up the work of the Human Genome Project, Lander wrote in a paper published in Nature last month, `It has not escaped our notice that the more we learn about the human genome, the more there is to explore.' That line, he said, applies as much to the junk as to the genes." (Lau, E., "Much DNA just 'junk' -- or is it?: Human Genome Project spurs new look at mystery material," Sacramento Bee, March 19, 2001) 29/04/2006 "This repetitive DNA comprises at least three categories. One is `junk' DNA, DNA that is not useful to the organism, made up of untranscribed and parasitic sequences (selfish DNA). ... Much eukaryotic DNA is junk, apparently doing no harm. In some cases, 97% of the host genome is composed of junk DNA. Recent work seems to indicate that gross differences in DNA content between higher organisms may be due to the differing abilities of different species to rid themselves of this parasitic DNA. If it builds up without being removed, the DNA content of the species can soar. Thus, the wide differences in DNA content among higher eukaryotes mentioned at the beginning of this section have little to do with the complexity of the organism, but rather with the ability of the organism to remove junk DNA as it forms." (Tamarin, R.H., "Principles of Genetics," International Edition, , McGraw-Hill: New York, Seventh Edition, 2002, pp.458-459) 29/04/2006 "`Junk DNA' is actually the `software' that allowed complex organisms to evolve, according to an Australian molecular biologist. Professor John Mattick of Queensland University's Institute of Molecular Bioscience argues that scientists have been too focused on the protein-production role of DNA and ignored its role in helping to put all the proteins together at the right time and place. `The genetic program has to do two things,' said Professor Mattick. `It has to specify the protein components, the bricks if you like, but it also has to specify the patterns in which those things are put together.' Traditionally, scientists have written off non-protein-coding DNA as `junk'. Professor Mattick sees it differently. `Only a minority of the human genome codes for protein,' he said. `The majority is coding for very sophisticated plans which are mainly expressed through a non-coding RNA network.' Professor Mattick argues that this RNA communication network enables co-ordination and integration during an organism's differentiation and development. `This is the software of the system, and once you understand what it is, eventually you will know how to manipulate the software to change the length of fingers or the shape of a nose.' `If what I'm saying is correct, it's going to mean a total re-appraisal of our understanding of genetic systems in higher organisms.' ... Scientists have been surprised at the amount of DNA in the human genome that does not code for proteins. Some of this non-coding DNA is present within genes (introns), while other others lie between genes. `The discovery of the mosaic structure of genes in higher organisms was the biggest surprise in the history of molecular biology. It was swept under the carpet within a few months of being discovered because everybody `knew' that genes coded for proteins. It was rationalised as junk, as an evolutionary hangover,' said Professor Mattick. `This stuff is in all the textbooks. But there was never any evidence for it, it was just a straight assumption.' ... `What I'm really saying is the system is far more sophisticated than anyone imagined,' he said. `When they said there's all this junk in the human genome, it was just stuff they didn't understand.' But is this new level of complexity a reason to be concerned about unforeseen consequences of genetic tinkering?" (Salleh, A., "Junk DNA: the "software" of life?," ABC, 1 July 2002) 29/04/2006 When cells divide in two, they must carefully manage the process by which their DNA is replicated and then apportioned to the daughter cells. In one critical step along the way, the replicated DNA strands - or sisters - are held together for a period by a temporary scaffold of bridging proteins. When the timing is right, the proteins unzip, allowing the DNA sisters to separate. Errors in this or other steps in cell division can lead to cell death, faulty development, or cancer, which is largely defined as misregulated cell division. Scientists have had a number of questions about these important bridging proteins, called cohesins. For example, how and where do the proteins attach themselves to the DNA? To protect genes from inappropriate activation, DNA is tightly wrapped around small proteins called histones and then further coiled into a higher structure called chromatin that serves as an effective accessibility barrier to the genes. In a new study in the August 29 issue of Nature, researchers at The Wistar Institute identify a cohesin-containing protein complex that reshapes chromatin to allow cohesins to bind to DNA. In doing so, they also identified the locations on the human genome where the cohesins bind. Somewhat to their surprise, the binding sites were found to be a repetitive DNA sequence found throughout the human genome for which no previous role had ever been identified. These bits of DNA, known as Alu sequences, are liberally represented along those vast stretches of the human genome not known to directly control genetic activity, sometimes referred to as junk DNA. ... Ramin Shiekhattar ... senior author on the Nature study. [said] `These sequences are very common. And this makes sense if one of their roles is to bind to the bridging proteins, the cohesins, to keep the replicated DNA sisters together until it is time for them to separate. Multiple bridging sites throughout the DNA would be needed for this system to work. They couldn't be unique sequences.'" ("Essential Cell Division `Zipper' Anchors To So-Called Junk," ScienceDaily, August 30, 2002) 29/04/2006 Each protein equals a gene, but there are long stretches of base pairs that do not code for proteins, areas once known as junk DNA. These areas may help control genes. Only just over one percent of the genome is accounted for by protein-expressing genes. Venter says all this means genes, per se, are just a small part of the story. ... It also means the so-called `junk DNA' may be more important than at first thought. `We just don't know. We don't call it junk,' Venter said. Eric Lander, who heads the genome lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Whitehead Institute, said the `alleged junk' provides a history. `The junk is amazing. Every piece of junk in the genome represents a transposable element,' he said. In other words, it is genetic material that people got from elsewhere ... If it stayed there through generations, it might do something useful. Lander thinks some of the `junk' may help regulate genes --a role that is more important the fewer genes there are." (Fox, M., "Analysis shows it's proteins not genes that count," Boston Globe/Reuters, November 1, 2002) 29/04/2006 IT IS a cliché of genetics that most of the genome is junk. The genes themselves constitute 2-3% of the DNA in a human cell's nucleus. Some of the rest regulates the genes, but most consists of stuff that is apparently useless or, worse, parasitic. Among the latter are the remnants of so-called retrotransposons. A retrotransposon is a group of `freeliving' genes which reproduces by hiding in the chromosomes of its hosts, causing that host to copy it at the same time that it copies its own genes. Normally, it breaks out of its host chromosome after a time, to find pastures new. Sometimes, however, a retrotransposon forgets how to have a life of its own, and is just passed down the generations along with the host's genes. Why such `endogenous' retrotransposons persist is a mystery. Natural selection would be expected to get rid of them. However, in a paper in Current Biology, Clare Lynch and Michael Tristem, of Imperial College, London, suggest an answer. They have been studying a retrotransposon that lost its independence to an early mammal some 70m years ago. It is now found in that mammal's descendants, including humans, sheep, rats and mice. Dr Lynch and Dr Tristem think that its persistence, and the fact that its genes do not seem to have been damaged by random mutations, are due to the fact that it was `turned' at some point in the past, and is now assisting the hosts. In other words, it is no longer a parasite. Retrotransposons are closely related to retroviruses, the most notorious of which is HIV, the agent that causes AIDS. One feature of some retroviruses is that infection by one sort can inhibit (by an unknown mechanism) the activities of others. Dr Lynch and Dr Tristem speculate that this retrotransposon's genes may have survived in mammals because the proteins they produce likewise protect cells from the activities of other retrotransposons. The poacher, in other words, has been acting as a gamekeeper since dinosaurs walked the Earth." ("An ancient helper: Some "junk" DNA may have a function," The Economist, September 4, 2003) 29/04/2006 Of the billions of miles of DNA inside each of us, about 95% is unaccounted for. This non-coding material, the Dark Matter of genetics, was prematurely labelled `junk DNA', with the implication that, because we didn't know what it did, it was of no use. This may have been one of the costliest examples of scientific arrogance in recent history. For some time junk DNA, which exists in differing proportions in all species, was effectively ignored, but when, in the early 1990s, it was examined using methods of linguistic analysis, it revealed patterns similar to those found in ordinary language. Other tests identified areas of symmetry, likened to linguistic palindromes, which further suggested an underlying structure. A number of ideas have been mooted for the function of this unidentified DNA. Much of it is thought to be made up of pseudogenes, `molecular fossils' no longer required for an organism's evolutionary development. Some have suggested that these pseudogenes remain in `standby' mode until alterations in the organism's environment once again necessitate their use or, perhaps, further evolutionary changes. It's now believed that junk DNA could yield vital clues to the genetic mapping, and even prediction, of many diseases, including several cancers. But to the dismay of genetic ethicists, these clues will probably remain the property of an Australian biotech firm, Genetic Technologies Ltd (GTG). In the late 1980s, immunologist Dr Malcolm Simons began to wonder why, if junk DNA is useless, all living beings contain so much of it. Suspecting that the patterns within pointed to some as-yet-unknown function, Simons and businessman Mervyn Jacobson filed two patents for mapping and analysing non-coding DNA across all living species. To the surprise of many, the patents were approved in over 20 countries. As our understanding of junk DNA grows, so the decision to grant Simons these patents - and GTG's decision to charge academic institutions for the use of their patented technology - have come increasingly under fire. The Australian geneticist John Mattick appears to speak for many when he says: `The failure to recognise the implications of the non- coding DNA will go down as the biggest mistake in the history of molecular biology." (Pilkington, M., "Junk DNA: What's in a name?," The Guardian, January 22, 2004) 29/04/2006 A collection of mystery DNA segments, which seem to be critical for the survival of many animals, are causing great interest among scientists. Researchers inspecting the genetic code of rats, mice and humans were surprised to find they shared many identical chunks of apparently `junk' DNA. This implies the code is so vital that even 75 million years of evolution in these mammals could not tinker with it. But what the DNA does, and how, is a puzzle, the journal Science reports. ... Before scientists began laboriously mapping several animal life-codes, they had a rather narrow opinion about which parts of the genome were important. According to the traditional viewpoint, the really crucial things were genes, which code for proteins - the `building blocks of life'. A few other sections that regulate gene function were also considered useful. ... The rest was thought to be excess baggage - or `junk' DNA. But the new findings suggest this interpretation was somewhat wanting. David Haussler of the University of California, Santa Cruz, US, and his team compared the genome sequences of man, mouse and rat. They found - to their astonishment - that several great stretches of DNA were identical across the three species. To guard against this happening by coincidence, they looked for sequences that were at least 200 base-pairs (the molecules that make up DNA) in length. Statistically, a sequence of this length would almost never appear in all three by chance. Not only did one sequence of this length appear in all three - 480 did. ... The regions largely matched up with chicken, dog and fish sequences, too; but are absent from sea squirt and fruit flies. `It absolutely knocked me off my chair,' said Professor Haussler. `It's extraordinarily exciting to think that there are these ultra-conserved elements that weren't noticed by the scientific community before.' ... The really interesting thing is that many of these `ultra-conserved' regions do not appear to code for protein. If it was not for the fact that they popped up in so many different species, they might have been dismissed as useless `padding'. But whatever their function is, it is clearly of great importance. We know this because ever since rodents, humans, chickens and fish shared an ancestor - about 400 million years ago - these sequences have resisted change. This strongly suggests that any alteration would have damaged the animals' ability to survive. `These initial findings tell us quite a lot of the genome was doing something important other than coding for proteins,' Professor Haussler said. He thinks the most likely scenario is that they control the activity of indispensable genes and embryo development. Nearly a quarter of the sequences overlap with genes and may help slice RNA - the chemical cousin of DNA involved in protein production - into different forms, Professor Haussler believes. The conserved elements that do not actually overlap with genes tend to cluster next to genes that play a role in embryonic development. `The fact that the conserved elements are hanging around the most important development genes, suggests they have some role in regulating the process of development and differentiation,' said Professor Haussler. ... The next step is to pin down a conclusive function for these chunks of genetic material. One method could be to produce genetically engineered mice that have bits of the sequences `knocked out'. By comparing their development with that of normal mice, scientists might be able to work out the DNA's purpose. Despite all the questions that this research has raised, one thing is clear: scientists need to review their ideas about junk DNA. Professor Chris Ponting, from the UK Medical Research Council's Functional Genetics Unit, told BBC News Online: `Amazingly, there were calls from some sections to only map the bits of genome that coded for protein - mapping the rest was thought to be a waste of time. `It is very lucky that entire genomes were mapped, as this work is showing.' He added: `I think other bits of 'junk' DNA will turn out not to be junk. I think this is the tip of the iceberg, and that there will be many more similar findings.'" (Kettlewell, J., "'Junk' throws up precious secret," BBC, 12 May, 2004) 29/04/2006 Junk DNA may not be so useless after all. Scientists coined the term to describe the genetic wasteland within the human genome, or book of life, which consists of long uncharted stretches of DNA for which there is no known function. But researchers from Harvard Medical School in the United States said on Wednesday that within junk DNA in the yeast genome they have discovered a new class of gene. Unlike other genes, the new one does not produce a protein or enzyme to carry out its function. But when it is turned on, it regulates a neighboring gene. `This doesn't explain all junk DNA. It gives a potential use for some junk DNA,' Professor Fred Winston, who headed the research team, said in an interview. `I cannot think of another regulatory gene such as this one,' he added. There are about 30,000 to 40,000 genes in the human genome. Much of the genome consists of junk DNA which scientists are trying to decipher to determine the causes and potential treatments for human diseases. The new gene called SRG1 blocks the function of the adjacent gene in the yeast genome. Winston and his team, who reported their finding in the science journal Nature, believe other genes could work in the same way and in other organisms including humans. `We found one example of a type of regulatory gene that hasn't been found before that might alert investigators to look for it in other cases,' Winston said. `This type of regulation may occur in other cases throughout the biological kingdom,' he added. The new gene works by making RNA, a cousin of DNA, which represses or turns off the adjacent gene. `When people are looking to understand the regulation of genes from whatever organism -- humans, flies, mice, yeast -- they cannot just look for proteins that are acting there. It might be that it is simply the act of transcribing that is causing regulation,' said Winston. ... `We want to understand the physiology behind the regulation (of the gene). It is a previously unidentified type of regulation and if we could understand how it is controlled, we will learn more about gene expression,' said Winston." (Reaney, P., "Scientists Find New Type of Gene in Junk DNA," Reuters, June 3, 2004) 29/04/2006 'Selfish DNA' The effect of large genomes on extinction threat was first noted in plants. According to some scientists, this relationship fits the so-called selfish DNA hypothesis in which DNA continues to propagate despite serving no purpose other than its own `survival'. The accumulation of this `Junk DNA' is said to be maladaptive - that is to say it adversely affects the fitness of the organism. However, the new data suggests that the clear effect seen in plants does not hold true in all organisms. ... Genomes vary in size between organisms. Human have about 30,000 genes, rice contains 60,000 genes, and some bacteria contain less than 1,000 genes ... Dr Vinogradov also proposes that for some animals, the cost of accumulating non-coding DNA in their genomes is probably balanced by other benefits. These may include having a low metabolic rate in ecosystems where energy is in short supply. He says that having a relatively small genome may influence the strong effect recorded in reptiles and birds: `It is interesting that birds and reptiles have the smallest genomes among tetrapods, which suggests that selection against the redundant DNA is generally stronger in them.'" ("Big genome can up extinction risk," BBC, 21 July, 2004) 29/04/2006 How did simple organisms like yeast and worms evolve into ones as complex as birds and mammals? According to a broad comparative study of genomes, the answer may lie in their junk DNA. Trash is treasure. The more complex the organism, the more highly conserved its junk DNA. Ever since the sequencing of the first genomes from eukaryotes ... scientists have wondered why most of these creatures' DNA is devoid of genes. Possible explanations for this so-called junk DNA range from mutation protection to structural support of chromosomes. But the discovery last year that patches of junk DNA are identical in humans, mice, and rats indicated that the regions might contain important regulatory switches that control basic biochemistry and development, which might help organisms build sophisticated bodies. Strengthening that case is the fact that complicated animals don't sport vastly more genes than do simpler eukaryotes. To gain further insight, a team led by David Haussler, a computational biologist at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), extended the junk DNA comparison to five vertebrate species - humans, mice, rats, chickens, and pufferfish - along with four insects, two worms, and seven species of yeast. A surprising pattern arose from the comparison: The more complex the organism, the more important junk DNA seems to be. The underlying idea is that if different kinds of animals have the same DNA, that DNA must be doing something critical. Different yeast species share a fair amount of DNA - they both need to make proteins, after all - but only 15% of the shared DNA falls outside of genes. Compare yeast to more complicated worms, which have a multi-cellular body, however, and the fraction rises to 40%. Then compare those with vertebrates and insects, which are several notches more sophisticated than worms, and over 66% of the shared DNA consists of non-coding DNA, the team reports online today in Genome Research. The worm result should be interpreted cautiously, says co-author Adam Siepel, a computational biologist at UCSC, because only two genomes were analyzed. Even so, Siepel thinks the finding supports the theory that increased biological complexity in vertebrates and insects derives mainly from elaborate forms of gene regulation. Philip Green, a molecular biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, agrees. `It's convincing,' he says, but he notes that the purpose of all of the non-coding DNA that's not shared is still open. " (Bohannon, J., "Don't Call It Junk," ScienceNOW, 18 July, 2005) 29/04/2006 The genetic code of our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, has been sequenced and analysed by an international team of researchers. The scientists say the information is a milestone in the quest to discover what sets us apart from other animals. A comparison shows chimps and humans to be almost 99% identical in the most important areas of their `life codes'. ... future research will tease out the significance of the few differences. The study was undertaken by an international group called the Chimpanzee Sequencing and Analysis Consortium ... The work provides a catalogue of the genetic differences that have arisen since humans and chimpanzees diverged from a common ancestor some six million years ago. `As our closest living evolutionary relatives, chimpanzees are especially suited to teaching us about ourselves,' said the study's senior author, Robert Waterston ... `We still do not have in our hands the answer to a most fundamental question: What makes us human? But this genomic comparison dramatically narrows the search for the key biological differences between the two species.' ... The study shows that our genomes are startlingly similar. We differ by only 1.2% in terms of the genes that code for the proteins which build and maintain our bodies. This rises to about 4%, when non- coding or `junk' DNA is taken into account. The long-term goahe project is to pinpoint the genetic changes that led to human characteristics such as complex language, walking upright on two feet, a large brain and tool use. Comparing our genome with other species provides a treasure trove of information for understanding human biology and evolution. `As the sequences of other mammals and primates emerge in the next couple of years, we will be able to determine what DNA sequence changes are specific to the human lineage,' said the study's lead author, Tarjei Mikkelsen ... These letters form the `code of life'; there are estimated to be about 3.1 billion base pairs in the chimp genome wound into 25 distinct bundles, or chromosomes Written in the DNA are some 25,000 genes which chimp cells use as templates to make proteins; these sophisticated molecules build and maintain the animal's body `The genetic changes that distinguish humans from chimps will likely be a very small fraction of this set. . Already, it can be seen that three key genes involved in inflammation - a root cause of many human diseases - appear to be absent from chimps. This could explain some of the known differences between chimps and humans affecting immune and inflammatory responses. Humans, on the other hand, seem to have lost a functioning caspase-12 gene, which may protect other animals against Alzheimer's disease.'" ("'Life code' of chimps laid bare," BBC, 31 August 2005) 29/04/2006 "By contrast, said Alan Leshner, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Intelligent Design offers nothing in the way of testable predictions. `Just because they call it a theory doesn't make it a scientific theory,' Leshner said. `The concept of an intelligent designer is not a scientifically testable assertion.' Asked to provide examples of non-obvious, testable predictions made by the theory of Intelligent Design, John West, an associate director of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based ID think tank, offered one: In 1998, he said, an ID theorist, reckoning that an intelligent designer would not fill animals' genomes with DNA that had no use, predicted that much of the `junk' DNA in animals' genomes -- long seen as the detritus of evolutionary processes -- will someday be found to have a function. (In fact, some `junk' DNA has indeed been found to be functional in recent years, though more than 90 percent of human DNA still appears to be the flotsam of biological history.) In any case, West said, it is up to Darwinists to prove ID wrong." (Weiss, R. & Brown, D., "New Analyses Bolster Central Tenets of Evolution Theory: Pa. Trial Will Ask Whether 'Alternatives' Can Pass as Science, Washington Post, September 26, 2005) 29/04/2006 "IThe vast regions of our genetic code that seem to have no discernible function could be more important than previously thought. Scientists have found that this genetic material, nicknamed `junk' DNA, maintains the integrity of the more important, coding parts of our genome and is critical for evolutionary survival. Peter Andolfatto, a University of California San Diego biologist, studied the genes of fruit flies and found that the junk DNA was strongly affected by natural selection, which leads to the survival of organisms and genes best adapted to the environment. The sections of DNA which encode for proteins, known as genes, only account for a minority of its genetic material. In a fruit fly, 80% of the DNA seems to have no function; in humans that figure is closer to 95%. ... Professor Andolfatto showed that junk DNA in fruit flies was evolving more slowly than expected, reflecting resistance to the incorporation of new mutations. `In fact, 40% to 70% of new mutations that arise in non-coding DNA fail to be incorporated by this species, which suggests that these non-protein-coding regions are not junk, but are somehow functionally important to the organism,' he said." (Jha, A., "Time to stop trashing junk DNA," The Guardian, October 20, 2005) "Researchers note that dogs share many of the same gene-related health conditions as humans, including cancer and obesity. They have about 19,300 genes, scientists estimate, all but a handful close copies of human genes. Although humans have half a billion more DNA units, or `base pairs,' that's mostly because humans are thought to have more silent stretches of so-called junk DNA. `It's basically the same gene set in dogs and humans,' Lindblad-Toh said ... " (Hall, C.T., "Man's best friend shares most genes with humans," San Francisco Chronicle, December 8, 2005) 29/04/2006 "IBM today announced its researchers have discovered numerous DNA patterns shared by areas of the human genome that were thought to have little or no influence on its function and those areas that do. As reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), regions of the human genome that were assumed to largely contain evolutionary leftovers (called `junk DNA') may actually hold significant clues that can add to scientists' understanding of cellular processes. IBM researchers have discovered that these regions contain numerous, short DNA `motifs,' or repeating sequence fragments, which also are present in the parts of the genome that give rise to proteins. If verified experimentally, the discovery suggests a potential connection between these coding and non-coding parts of the human genome that could have a profound impact on genomic research and provide important insights on the workings of cells." ("IBM Discovery Could Shed New Light on Workings of the Human Genome," PhysOrg.com, April 25, 2006) 29/04/2006 "There are those, however, who measure the credibility of a claim not in terms of the evidence in its favor, but in terms of the lack of evidence against it. They argue that since there is no evidence refuting their position, it must be true. Although such arguments have great psychological appeal, they are logically fallacious. Their conclusions don't follow from their premises because a lack of evidence is no evidence at all. Arguments of this type are said to commit the fallacy of appeal to ignorance. ... Just because a claim hasn't been conclusively refuted doesn't mean that it's true. A claim's truth is established by the amount of evidence in its favor, not by the lack of evidence against it. In addition, the strategy of placing the burden of proof on the nonbeliever is unfair because doing so asks him or her to do the impossible, namely, to prove a universal negative. ... To prove a universal negative, you would have to exhaustively investigate all of time and space. Since none of us can do that, demanding such an investigation of anyone is unreasonable. Whenever someone proposes something-a policy, a fact, or a theory-the burden of proof is on that person to provide reasons for accepting the proposition. It's not only true believers who commit the fallacy of appeal to ignorance, however. Skeptics often take this approach: No one has proven that ESP exists, therefore it doesn't. This, too, is fallacious reasoning; it's an attempt to get something for nothing. The operative principle here is the converse of the one cited earlier: Just because a -claim hasn't been conclusively proven doesn't mean that it's false. (Schick, T. & Vaughn, L., "How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age," Mayfield: Mountain View CA, California, Second edition, 1995, pp.18-19. Emphasis original)
* 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: 30 March, 2006. Updated: 10 April, 2010.