Creation Evolution Headlines

Big Bang Cosmology

Rav Dessler zt"l



The Slifkin Affair

Why the Origin Sciences are speculative

The Operational Sciences describe how the universe operates today. Operational sciences are based directly on empirical testing and can be used to get us to the moon or map the human genome. Good technology is based mostly on such empirical observations and testing. The stability and rationality of nature is guaranteed by the Creator of the Cosmos, thus making the operational sciences possible.

By contrast, the Origin Sciences attempt to explain via chance and naturalistic processes how the cosmos and the marvels of life originated. For example, how did the first cell originate? How did the human genome originate? How did creatures with no eyes develop eyes? How did creatures with no no brains develop brains? How did the solar system or galaxies of stars originate? The Origin Sciences include implausible naturalistic accounts of such origins using chance and naturalistic explanations such as Big Bang Cosmology, the Chemical Origin of Life, Biological Evolution and Dating Methods extrapolated to an open-ended and unobservable past. Origin Sciences are speculative and often suspect because they are based on untested foundational assumptions, vast extrapolations, and the need to postulate unobserved hypothetical entities to save the theories from disconfirmation from stubborn anomalies in the data.


Thanks to the many good sites that keep us informed of ground breaking science news. Feedback is much appreciated, especially corrections to factual errors. We do not have specialized expertise in these areas and so provide quotes from the scientific sources wherever possible.


  • [October 3, 2006] Shell-Shocked. The age of a supernova remnant dropped suddenly from 10,000 years to less than 2,000 years.  According to a news item on Space.com, the object RCW 86 in Centaurus has been linked to sightings by the Chinese in 185 of the Common Era, making it the oldest supernova recorded by man, taking place 1821 years ago. Astronomers dated this supernova remnant to 10,000 years old.  But how could the earlier age estimates be so far off?  The article explains: I

Shell shocked: In the Astrological Annals of the Houhanshu, Chinese astronomers noted the bright light in the sky twinkled like a star but didn’t appear to move, arguing against the object being a comet. Within eight months, they recorded, the bright light faded, a phenomenon that astronomers now know is consistent with supernovas. ...

Astronomers had suggested the stellar material called RCW 86 could be leftovers from the 185 AD supernova, based on historical records of the object’s position in the sky. But previous work estimated the object was 10,000 years old, which led to doubts about the link. ...

Astronomers led by Vink studied the material in RCW 86 to determine when its progenitor star originally exploded within the Southern Hemisphere constellation Centaurus. To do this, they used the X-ray capabilities of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton Observatory.

RCW 86 is encased in an expanding shock wave formed during its transit from the original explosion. By peering into one part of RCW 86, the astronomers calculated how fast this cosmic bubble was moving. So with the size and speed of RCW 86, the astronomers could calculate the time of the explosion, and hence the remnant’s age.

Our new calculations tell us the remnant is about 2,000 years old,” said Aya Bamba, a coauthor from the Institute of Physical and Chemical Researcher in Japan.

Youthful star: The new age estimate matches the supernova spotted [by the Chinese] in 185 AD. But this calculation means the remnant is 8,000 years younger than previously thought. The astronomers said the difference can be attributed to the irregular shape of the remnant’s expanding bubble. Stellar wind from the progenitor star pushed some of the remnant’s gases in a certain direction, forming a dense pile. “The idea for RCW 86 is that in some regions the shock has hit this piled-up material. In those regions the shock will start moving slower,” Vink said. And in other regions, the shock wave is much speedier.

“This could explain the earlier measurements for lower shock velocities,” Vink told SPACE.com. The previous speeds were used to calculate RCW 86’s age.

The research is detailed in the Sept. 1 issue of T
he Astrophysical Journal Letters. [Jeanna Bryner, Staff Writer, "Astronomers Find Supernova First Spotted 2,000 Years Ago",  Space.Com, posted: 26 September 2006] 

In the case of RCW 86, we had the Chinese observation during historical times to calibrate the dating method. The calibrated result was substantially lower than predicted from theory. But, what about all those dating methods that depend on open-ended extrapolations that cannot be so calibrated by empirical observations?

  • [September 29, 2006] Crisis in the Cosmos. If you believe in the origin sciences, i.e. the implausible claim that chance and naturalistic processes can account for the origin of the cosmos and the marvels of life, then some recent findings might give one pause for thought. Critics of creation ridicule the belief that our vast universe composed of a multiplicity of phenomena and running at diverse rates could be of recent vintage (the criticism is based on naturalistic presuppositions that matter and energy is all there is). However, a little humility is in order when considering the current state of naturalistic accounts of the origin of the cosmos and the formation of galaxies of stars.

  • Crisis in the Cosmos? (Ron Cowen. Science News. 168(15), p235, Oct 8, 2005).
    Imagine peering into a nursery and seeing, among the cooing babies, a few that look like grown men. That's the startling situation that astronomers have stumbled upon as they've looked deep into space and thus back to a time when newborn galaxies filled the cosmos. Some of these babies have turned out to be nearly as massive as the Milky Way and other galactic geezers that have taken billions of years to form. Despite being only about 800 million years old, some of the infants are chock-full of old stars.   These chunky babies may be pointing to a cosmic crisis. They don't seem to fit the leading theory of galaxy formation, which cosmologists have relied on for more than 2 decades to explain an assortment of puzzling features of the universe. (emphasis added) ...

    Big Babies? Over the past few years, researchers have detected several galaxies that were surprisingly massive, given that their measured distance puts them in the early universe (SN: 3/1/03, p. 139). Two of the galaxies, recently found by Andrew Bunker of the University of Exeter in England and his colleagues, are less than a billion years old, which is less than 5 percent of the age of the universe. Despite their youth, these galaxies contain stars that formed at least 100 million years earlier in time. Furthermore, the galaxies are at least 20 percent as massive as today's typical bright galaxy, which took some 12 billion years to pack on that material. The team reports several of its findings in an upcoming Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. ...

    In a report on Sept. 27, Mobasher and his colleagues describe what appears to be an even more outlandish result. They have evidence of a true whopper of a galaxy-perhaps the most massive ever detected from the early universe. Observations taken at several visible-light and infrared wavelengths suggest that it's likely to be one of the earliest galaxies ever found. It appears to reside 13 billion light-years from Earth. So, the light now reaching our planet left the galaxy when the cosmos was about 800 million years old. Mobasher's group estimates that the galaxy is six times as massive as the Milky Way. Moreover, the reddish tinge of the galaxy's stars indicates that they're quite mature and must have formed about 200 hundred million years farther back in time.  (emphasis added)

    Recent articles in Nature indentify more such puzzling occurrences. For example the Swift satellite detected a gamma-ray burst 12.8 billion years old at a redshift (z) of 6.29 in a universe that according to big bang cosmologists is only 13.7 billion years old.

    This means that not only did stars form in this short period of time after the Big Bang, but also that enough time had elapsed for them to evolve and collapse into black holes. ("Gamma-ray bursts: Huge explosion in the early Universe" p164 G. Cusumano et al. Nature 440(7081) p164, doi:10.1038/440164a, 9 March 2006)

  • [September 10, 2006] Moral Darwinism. The acceptance of Darwin’s implausible theory by western civilization has come with the hidden but nasty baggage of moral Darwinism. The blame for the steady deterioration in the dignity and holiness of life as manifested in societal trends such as the call for euthanasia, abortion on demand, the redefinition of marriage and current proposals to legalize infanticide of healthy three month old babies at the whim of the parents, can be directly correlated with the rise of evolution that has been promoted in the media and academia. E.O. Wilson (Harvard) and Michael Ruse (Florida State University) write as follows:

The time has come to take seriously the fact that we humans are modified monkeys, not the favored Creation of a Benevolent G-d on the Sixth Day.

As evolutionists, we see that no [ethical] justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in G-d’s will.... In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding. Like Macbeth's dagger, it serves a powerful purpose without existing in substance.

Michael Ruse provides an enthusiastic approbation to Rabbi Nathan Slifkin's new book, The Challenge of Creation (Yashar Press, 2006). We explore here some of the the ethical consequences of moral Darwinism ala Ruse.

The apparent absence of shadows where shadows were expected to be is raising new questions about the faint glow of microwave radiation once hailed as proof that the universe was created by a "Big Bang."

If the standard Big Bang theory of the universe is accurate and the background microwave radiation came to Earth from the furthest edges of the universe, then massive X-ray emitting clusters of galaxies nearest our own Milky Way galaxy should all cast shadows on the microwave background.

"If you see a shadow, however, it means the radiation comes from behind the cluster. If you don't see a shadow, then you have something of a problem. Among the 31 clusters that we studied, some show a shadow effect and others do not."

Taken together, the data shows a shadow effect about one-fourth of what was predicted - an amount roughly equal in strength to natural variations previously seen in the microwave background across the entire sky.

"Either it (the microwave background) isn't coming from behind the clusters, which means the Big Bang is blown away, or ... there is something else going on," said Lieu. "One possibility is to say the clusters themselves are microwave emitting sources, either from an embedded point source or from a halo of microwave-emitting material that is part of the cluster environment.

Reference: Lieu, Mittaz and Shuang-Nan Zhang, UAH, "The Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect in a sample of 31 clusters: A comparison between the X-ray predicted and WMAP observed decrement," Astrophysical Journal, Sept. 1, 2006, Vol. 648, No. 1, p. 176

  • [September 7, 2006] Proofs of dark matter and problems with big bang cosmology. Who’s right? Douglas Clowe’s team at University of Arizona claimed on August 21, 2006 that they found dark matter in the Bullet Cluster. They even had a picture of it. The NASA Chandra X-Ray Center called it a “direct proof” of dark matter. The story received wide publicity in the media. Four days later New Scientist reported a new proposal to bring back ether theory in modified form; the title of the article was, “Ether returns to oust dark matter”. Soon thereafter New Scientist posted rebuttals to the NASA announcement: “Dark matter ‘proof’ called into doubt”. Andreas Albrecht, a cosmologist at the University of Calfornia, Davis, states in reference to dark matter: “We've hit some really profound problems with cosmology with dark matter and dark energy. That tells us we have to rethink fundamental physics and try something new.”

  • [March 28, 2006] Much of the DNA in the nucleus of human cells does not code for proteins (perhaps up to 98% of the DNA). Evolutionists seeing the Darwinian unintelligent purposeless and non-teological "tinkerer" at work called this "Junk DNA".  A press release from Johns Hopkins Medicine reports “Junk DNA May Not Be So Junky After All.” 

The notion that mutations in enhancers play a role in human disease progression has been difficult to confirm because usually enhancers are located in the 98 percent of the human genome that does not code for protein, termed non-coding DNA. Unlike DNA sequences that code for protein, non-coding DNA, sometimes referred to as “junk” DNA, follows few rules for organization and sequence patterns and therefore is more difficult to study.

The research (to be published online at Science Express March 23) suggest that this so called "junk" may may contain vital control regions that switch the genes on and off. They found a case where a control region for a human gene looked very different from one in a zebrafish, but both performed the same function.  This hints that the non-coding regions are filled with enhancers and suppressors that we are only beginning to understand. Oh well, another piece of evidence ("Junk DNA") for that purposeless and unintelligent tinkerer bites the dust, just like the putative (now debunked) embryological debris (Haeckel's embryos) and the so called vestigial organs (like the appendix and the tonsil) that turn out to manifest plan and purpose.

  • [January 27, 2005] "Axis of Evil" threatens Big Bang Cosmology. Marcus Chown reports in the Independent that “We thought we knew all about the Big Bang – but a blip in the cosmic afterglow is threatening our ideas". The “Axis of Evil” he speaks of is not Iran or North Korea but a newly found polarity or direction in the cosmic background radiation that contradicts current Big Bang cosmologies. Cosmologist Jorge Magueijo at Imperial College in London is reported as stating that “there may be something seriously wrong with our big bang models" while others are still hoping to fit the data into current models.

Ever since 1965, when two researchers at Bell Telephone Labs in New Jersey stumbled on it by accident, astronomers have known that the Universe is alive with the dim "afterglow" of the big bang fireball.

Now, something unexpected has cropped up in that afterglow - a feature dubbed "the axis of evil". Some think it is being caused by the gravity of a tremendous concentration of 100,000 galaxies in our cosmic backyard. Others say it is telling us there is something wrong with our big bang picture of the Universe. The axis of evil is the biggest surprise thrown up by Nasa's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP). ...

If the standard big bang picture of the Universe is correct, the blotches and freckles should be scattered randomly about the sky. "The big surprise is they are not," says Chris Vale of the University of California at Berkeley. "The quadrupole and octupole blotches are aligned with each other - along the axis of evil."

Nobody knows why. Could it be that all our preconceived notions about the big bang are wrong, or is it something less challenging?  ...

However, some physicists wonder whether the axis of evil requires a rethink of our ideas about the Universe. They include Joao Magueijo at Imperial College in London, who coined the term "the axis of evil". According to Magueijo, there may be something seriously wrong with our big bang models.

Big bang models come out of Einstein's theory of gravity. The only way theorists can apply the hideously complicated theory to the Universe is to make two simplifying assumptions. One is that the Universe is roughly the same in all places, and the other is that it is roughly the same in all directions.

But if the Universe is the same in all directions, as the big bang models require, that means that the hot spots and cold spots in the afterglow of the big bang should be randomly splattered about the sky - the big temperature splotches and the small temperature goose pimples should have no preferred direction. The fact that they are aligned along the axis of evil leads Magueijo to suggest that maybe the assumptions behind the big bang models are wrong. In other words, the Universe is not the same in all places or directions, but has a special direction. (chown-2006, Feb 1, 2006, emphasis added).

Of course, this axis is not really "evil", but confident claims that current cosmological theories (based as they are on untested foundational principles) for the origin of the universe are compelling may not be entirely harmless. Read more about the problems with big bang cosmology and other origin sciences here.

  • [January 27, 2006] Some ideas and quotes from Julian Huxley's confession: Julian Huxley was the grandson of the distinguished Thomas Henry Huxley, known as “Darwin’s bulldog” for his spirited defense of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Like his illustrious grandfather Julian Huxley became a major spokesperson for Darwinism when in 1942 he published his “Evolution: The Modern Synthesis". It is important to remember that Darwin [and subsequent evolutionists like Huxley] wholeheartedly subscribed to Lyell’s Uniformitarian Doctrine; namely, that the forces we now see shaping the world are the same forces that have operated in the past. While that is what most geologists still accept there is no a priori justification for extending that concept to the living world [it does not work in geology either]. That is what makes the following quotes all the more significant. Huxley’s book ends with the chapter “Evolutionary Progress.” On page 571, seven pages before the end he presents the following synopsis (emphasis added):

“Evolution is thus seen as a series of blind alleys. Some are extremely short - those leading to new genera and species that either remain stable or become extinct. Others are longer - the lines of adaptive radiation within a group such as a class or subclass, which run for tens of millions of years before coming up against their terminal blank wall. Others are still longer the lines that have in the past led to the development of the major phyla and their highest representatives; their course is to be reckoned not in tens but in hundreds of millions years. But all in the long run have terminated blindly. That of the echinoderms, for instance, reached its climax before the end of the Mesozoic. For the arthropods, represented by their highest group, the insects, the full stop seems to have come in the early Cenozoic: even the ants and bees have made no advance since the Oligocene. For the birds, the Miocene marked the end; for the mammals, the Pliocene.”

Pierre Grasse reached the same conclusion, viz. that evolution was finished:

“Facts are facts; no new broad organizational plan has appeared for several hundred million years, and for an equally long period of time numerous species, animal as well as plant, have ceased evolving… At best, present evolutionary phenomena are simply slight changes of genotypes within populations, or substitution of an allele with a new one.” (Grasse, The Evolution of Living Organisms,1977 page 84.)

“The period of great fecundity is over; present evolution appears as a weakened process, declining or near its end. Aren’t we witnessing the remains of an immense phenomenon close to extinction? Aren’t the small variations which are being recorded everywhere the tail end, the last oscillations of the evolutionary movement? Aren’t our plants, our animals, lacking some mechanisms which were present in the early flora and fauna?”(Ibid, page 71).

Long before Huxley or Grasse, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch already asked why we do not see new formations and creations happening?

The ending of creation, the cessation of formation of new creations – in a word: the present Sabbath of creation – is a greater revelation of the Creator than the very existence of heaven and earth. If, as the materialistic outlook on the world has taught throughout the world has taught throughout the ages, the origin of the world was due to physical causes not founded on thought and free will; if the world originated from forces of nature that are inherent in the world – why, then, has there been a Sabbath in creation for thousands of years? Why have these forces ceased to function and to produce with great power new creations? Why has the cause – which still exists – ceased producing the effect? What has put an end to its creative power? We see that for generations upon generations creation has ceased, and Sabbath has reigned in the world. This teaches us that the present Sabbath was preceded by purposeful, all-powerful creative activity, and that the universe is not a physical result of blind forces of nature, but a moral work of a Creator endowed with supreme wisdom, free will, and unlimited power. … (Gen 1:2)

  • [January 26, 2006] We pointed out earlier (and here) that the authors (Kirschner & Gerhart) of a new Yale University Press book (2005) claim that their new hypothesis of facilitated evolution can explain the appearance of design in nature. The Yale University Press blurb states (emphases added):

    In the 150 years since Darwin, the field of evolutionary biology has left a glaring gap in understanding how animals developed their astounding variety and complexity. The standard answer has been that small genetic mutations accumulate over time to produce wondrous innovations such as eyes and wings. Drawing on cutting-edge research across the spectrum of modern biology, Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart demonstrate how this stock answer is woefully inadequate.

    A review of the book recently appeared in Science (December 9, 2005). The reviewer states the problem to be solved as follows:

    In chapter 6 of The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin confronted the problem of explaining the evolution of complex pieces of biological machinery. How can natural selection, acting on "random" variation, produce a beautifully functioning structure made up of many integrated components, such as the vertebrate eye? His answer was that a structure like an eye is built up by a process of stepwise change from a primitive ancestral state, such as a simple group of light-receptive cells, leading eventually to the complicated vertebrate system of lens, iris, retina, optic nerve, etc. Each successive elaboration increases the efficiency of an already serviceable organ. Many such steps collectively produce a combination of characters that could never have existed in the ancestor. Although in the majority of cases we have no direct information on the steps that actually occurred in the evolution of complex adaptations, there are many examples of intermediate states that can be observed in living forms, as is indeed the case for the eye. The consensus among evolutionary biologists is that Darwin's interpretation has successfully stood the test of time, although the news has apparently not reached Kansas.

    We wonder how the reviewer is able to show that Darwin's theory has "successfully stood the test of time". Where are all those detailed testable Darwinian pathways for amazing organs such as the vertebrate eye? In contrast to the reviewer, the Yale blurb says there is a "glaring gap in understanding how animals developed their astounding variety and complexity" -- this is well understood in Kansas and apparently at Harvard University and Berkeley as well:

    In The Plausibility of Life, an account intended for a general readership, Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart argue that the Darwinian explanation is incomplete and that the results of recent discoveries in cell and developmental biology can be used to remedy this defect. Are they right, or does their effort represent the latest entry in the catalogue of failed attempts by developmental biologists to supplement or replace neo-Darwinian evolutionary biology?:

    Unlike some of their predecessors, Kirschner (the chair of Harvard's Department of Systems Biology) and Gerhart (a professor in Berkeley's Department of Molecular and Cell Biology) are not hostile to the view that evolutionary change at the level of morphology or behavior is the product of natural selection acting on variation that arises ultimately from mutation. Rather, they argue that the basic properties of cells and their interactions during development have profound consequences for the properties of the variability available for use by selection. These properties and interactions both constrain the possible types of alteration to the organism's structures and offer opportunities for the rapid evolution of novel structures. The authors call the latter "facilitated variation," ...

    So, how well does facilitated variation succeed in explaining all that amazing complexity of the eye without recourse to wishful speculation? The Science reviewer's concludes:

    As a result, it is currently impossible to evaluate the idea that developmental systems have special properties that facilitate variation useful for evolution. Indeed, Kirschner and Gerhart do not present any detailed examples of how the properties of developmental systems have actually contributed to the evolution of a major evolutionary novelty. Nor have they shown that alternative properties would have prevented such evolution. Although The Plausibility of Life contains many interesting facts and arguments, its major thesis is only weakly supported by the evidence.

  • [January 16, 2006] According to cosmologists, our universe appears to be more than a coincidence. A Nature article titled “Outrageous fortune” (Jan. 2006) states.

     For two decades now, theorists in the think-big field of cosmology have been stymied by a mathematical quirk in their equations. If the number controlling the growth of the Universe since the Big Bang is just slightly too high, the Universe expands so rapidly that protons and neutrons never come close enough to bond into atoms. If it is just ever-so-slightly too small, it never expands enough, and everything remains too hot for even a single nucleus to form. Similar problems afflict the observed masses of elementary particles and the strengths of fundamental forces. In other words, if you believe the equations of the world’s leading cosmologists, the probability that the Universe would turn out this way by chance are infinitesimal – one in a very large number. “It’s like you’re throwing darts, and the bullseye is just one part in 10120 of the dart board,” says Leonard Susskind, a string theorist based at Stanford University in California. “It’s just stupid.”

    The problem with all this is that a universe implausibly fine-tuned for life could very well mean that we now have evidence for G-d's handiwork - a world of plan and purpose.

    The calculation had such topological complexity that you could potentially get 10500 universes," Polchinski says. With so many solutions, says [nobel laureate Steven] Weinberg, it becomes easier to imagine that we happen to live in a Universe that seems tailored for our existence.

    Easy to imagine, hard to prove. Because other universes would be causally separated from our own, it seems impossible to tell whether our cosmos is the only one, or one of many. Most scientists find this disturbing. Talk of a Universe fine-tuned for life has already attracted supporters of intelligent design, who claim that an intelligent force shaped evolution. If there's no way to tell whether the values of scientific constants are a coincidence, the movement's followers argue, then why not also consider them evidence of G-d's handiwork?


  • [December 31, 2005c] Although many rocks show millions or billions of years worth of decay products, there are some stubborn anomalies and discordances in the literature which do not have a plausible scientific explanation. Discrepancies frequently appear when different teams of geologists date the same ancient geological formation involving different dating methods. Some of the world’s top scientists held a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation to address some of these problems. The October 17, 2003 issue of the journal Science (Kerr, R.A. 2003. “A Call for Telling Better Time over the Eons.” Science 302, no. 5466) reported on this symposium and the rationale behind it:

    At a workshop held here early this month at the National Museum of Natural History, geochronologists declared that they must do better, much better, and called for an unprecedented effort to calibrate the geologic time scale. ... "We need a major international cooperative network of geochronology centers dedicated to the goal of science-driven, integrative calibration," said Samuel Bowring of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a workshop organizer. Although no specific plan emerged, Bowring notes, participants agreed that "we have to make sure we’re all getting the same answer on the same rocks." That doesn't always happen.” ...

    One example of this is the attempted dating of the Latemar limestone belt in northern Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. Scientists have been trying to find out how long it took microscopic carbonate skeletons to pile up on the ancient seafloor to form this 600-meter layer. Science reported (see also Science, 12 November 1999, p. 1279):

    Other crucial ages are also out of whack. ... Assuming that the distinctive layers of the Latemar matched climate cycles driven by clocklike variations in the shape of Earth’s orbit, sedimentologists estimated that it took about 8 million years to form the whole pile. Uranium-lead dating of zircons from volcanic ash beds in the Latemar, however, produced a figure of about 2 million years — too little time to form such deposits, sedimentologists say. Years of work on both ways of dating the Latemar have failed to resolve the conflict”.

    "In addition to more dating, researchers want better dating. Long-recognized problems with standards, interlab calibration, and sample processing have limited both the precision and the accuracy of uranium-lead and argon-argon radiometric dating. At the moment, these two leading techniques consistently differ on the age of the same sample by 1%"

    The article makes the following interesting statement:The general sparseness of reliable ages was the primary complaint at the workshop". Given that there are tens of thousands of dates reported in the literature, one wonders why reliable dates are sparse. Do geologists know something about discordances that we laypeople do not? One wonders how many results are never reported and filed away for later study because of inconsistencies. One also wonders what double-blind testing of the radiometric dating scene would reveal? [emphases added].

  • [December 31, 2005b] For an example of stubborn anomalous radiocarbon dates see see Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences (Stanley-2001), which discusses problems with radiocarbon dates that are both too old and in the wrong sequence:

    "ANOMALOUS RADIOCARBON DATES: In contrast with patterns of clustered radiocarbon dates at the base of Holocene sections, there is a weaker relationship between C-14 dates and core depths throughout most deltaic core sections. This poor relationship has been observed since early applications of the radiocarbon dating method to Mississippi Delta cores (Fisk & McFarlan 1955, Frazier 1967). A review of the literature indicates that most deltas for which radiocarbon dates are available, regardless of geographical and geological setting, record this inconsistent upsection stratigraphy. Radiocarbon dates, both conventional and accelerator mass spectrometric (AMS), are not— as expected — consistently younger upcore between the base and surface of deltaic sequences. In addition to age-date reversals upcore, some dates in Holocene sections are clearly too old (some to late Pleistocene in age) and, not infrequently, those near the upper core surfaces are of mid- to late Holocene age (Figure 2). In general, there is a modest to poor—and in some cases no—relationship among C-14 dates, core surface elevation, subsurface depth of sample in the Holocene sequence, material used for dating (i.e. shell, organic-rich sediment, and peat), and geographic position of core site relative to the delta coast." [page 270, emphasis added]

    "These findings are both remarkable and disturbing, because they call into question the reliability of both dates and method; they raise concern regarding use of the radiocarbon method as presently applied to deltas. A literature survey indicates that deltas are by no means the only late Pleistocene to Holocene settings where dating problems are encountered. Numerous articles in the journal Radiocarbon and in other publications that focus on application of this method to Quaternary research problems have called attention to anomalous 14C date results in coastal deposits and soils (Delibrias 1989)." [page 284,  emphasis added]

    Reference: DATING MODERN DELTAS: Progress, Problems, and Prognostics Jean-Daniel Stanley Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, May 2001, Vol. 29, Pages 257-294.

  • [December 31, 2005a] From Science, 12 November 1999, p. 1279: When your wristwatch and a wall clock disagree about the time, one (or both) of them is wrong. Geochronologists have a similar problem, but the potential consequences are more grave. ... Yet the uranium-lead method has its difficulties as well. "The more you dig into the method," says Olsen, "the clearer it becomes that getting dependable results is not a trivial matter." For example, rock containing zircon crystals that hold the uranium and its decay product can partially melt, millions of years after their formation in a volcanic eruption, in a new volcanic outpouring. The zircon can survive the melting and then grow a new layer of crystal over its old core. When the whole crystal is analyzed, the apparent age will be older than the age of the eruption that laid down the ash layer. Some geochronologists, including Mundil, say they address such problems in their standard methods, screening out zircons with old cores through inspection under the microscope. But others aren't so sure. They look to other techniques that can pick out chemically distinct cores that would otherwise be invisible. Telling which clock, if any, is right will obviously take more effort than dialing up the time lady. [emphasis added]

  • [December 30, 2005] New Scientist interview with Leonard Susskind (17 December 2005). Is string theory in trouble? "Ever since Albert Einstein wondered whether the world might have been different, physicists have been searching for a “theory of everything” to explain why the universe is the way it is. Now string theory, one of today's leading candidates, is in trouble. A growing number of physicists claim it is ill-defined and based on crude assumptions. Something fundamental is missing, they say. The main complaint is that rather than describing one universe, the theory describes 10^500, each with different constants of nature, even different laws of physics ... ". In the interview Susskind is asked: "If we do not accept the landscape idea are we stuck with intelligent design?". He answers: "I doubt that physicists will see it that way. If, for some unforeseen reason, the landscape turns out to be inconsistent - maybe for mathematical reasons, or because it disagrees with observation - I am pretty sure that physicists will go on searching for natural explanations of the world. But I have to say that if that happens, as things stand now we will be in a very awkward position. Without any explanation of nature's fine-tunings we will be hard pressed to answer the ID critics. One might argue that the hope that a mathematically unique solution will emerge is as faith-based as ID." [emphasis not in the original].

    Nobel laureate admits string theory is in trouble. 10 December 2005, New Scientist Print Edition. "We don't know what we are talking about." That was Nobel laureate David Gross at the 23rd Solvay Conference in Physics in Brussels, Belgium, during his concluding remarks on Saturday. He was referring to string theory - the attempt to unify the otherwise incompatible theories of relativity and quantum mechanics to provide a theory of everything. Gross - who received a Nobel for his work on the strong nuclear force, bringing physics closer to a theory of everything - has been a strong advocate of string theory, which also aims to explain dark energy. "Many of us believed that string theory was a very dramatic break with our previous notions of quantum theory," he said. "But now we learn that string theory, well, is not that much of a break." He compared the state of physics today to that during the first Solvay conference in 1911. Then, physicists were mystified by the discovery of radioactivity. The puzzling phenomenon threatened even the laws of conservation of mass and energy, and physicists had to wait for the theory of quantum mechanics to explain it. "They were missing something absolutely fundamental," he said. "We are missing perhaps something as profound as they were back then."

    Peter Woit (Mathematics, Columbia University) discusses the new book by Leonard Susskind (Felix Bloch Professor in theoretical physics at Stanford University since 1978, considered the father of string theory) called Cosmic Landscapes. In the book Susskind writes: "During the 1990s the number of possibilities grew exponentially. String theorists watched with horror as a stupendous Landscape opened up with so many valleys that almost anything can be found somewhere in it. The theory also exhibited a nasty tendency to produce Rube Goldberg machines. In searching the Landscape for the Standard Model, the constructions became unpleasantly complicated. More and more “moving parts” had to be introduced to account for all the requirements, and by now it seems that no realistic model would pass muster with the American Society of Engineers — not for elegance in any case." Woit quotes the cosmologist George Ellis, writing recently recently in Nature that: "Physicists [such as Susskind] indulging in this kind of speculation sometimes denigrate philosophers of science, but they themselves do not yet have rigorous criteria to offer for proof of physical existence. This is what is needed to make this area solid science, rather than speculation. Until then, the multiverse situation seems to fit Paul’s description: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In this case, it is faith that enormous extrapolations from tested physics are correct; hope that correct hints as to the way things really are have been identified from all the possibilities, and that the present marginal evidence to the contrary will go away."

  • [November 25, 2005] Editors Joseph Klafter and Michael Urbakh in a special issue of Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter (Volume 17, Number 47, 30 November 2005) with the title  Molecular motors, write:
    "Macro-scale thermodynamic engines convert the random motion of fuel-produced heat into directed motion. Such engines cannot be downsized to the nanometre scale, because thermodynamics does not apply to single atoms or molecules, only large assemblies of them. A great challenge for the field of nanotechnology is the design and construction of microscopic motors that can transform input energy into directed motion and perform useful functions such as transporting of cargo. Today's nanotechnologists can only look in envy at the biological world, where molecular motors of various kinds (linear, rotary) are very common and fulfil essential roles. [italics not in the original]

  • [November 20, 2005] The BBC reports (based on a recent Science article) that African swallowtail butterflies have fluorescent patches for signalling to each other on their wings that  work in a similar way to a new ingenious design for high emission light emitting diodes (LEDs) developed at MIT.

       These high emission LEDs are an efficient variation on the diodes used in electronic equipment and displays. In the final line of the BBC story, Dr. Vukusic (who discovered this feature) states that, "When you study these things and get a feel for the photonic architecture available, you really start to appreciate the elegance with which nature [?] put some of these things together."  So it all seems, boil down to a happy series of (unexplained) evolutionary accidents. The report states that "Most light emitted from standard LEDs cannot escape, resulting in what scientists call a low extraction efficiency of light. The LED developed at MIT [in 2001] used a two-dimensional (2D) photonic crystal - a triangular lattice of holes etched into the LED's upper cladding layer - to enhance the extraction of light. And layered structures called Bragg reflectors were used to control the emission direction. These high emission devices potentially offer a huge step up in performance over standard types. Pete Vukusic and Ian Hooper at Exeter have now shown that swallowtail butterflies evolved [?] an identical method for signalling to each other in the wild." Dr Vukosic stated that "Unlike the diodes, the butterfly's system clearly doesn't have semiconductors in it and it doesn't produce its own radiative energy. That makes it doubly efficient in a way. But the way light is extracted from the butterfly's system is more than an analogy - it's all but identical in design to the LED."  Dr Vukusic agreed that studying natural designs such as this could help scientists improve upon manmade devices. [Italics not in the original]


  • [November 9, 2005] Altruism: On November the 5th, 2005, in Toronto, a grandmother Rosalia DeSantis was travelling home from her job when she felt hot and dizzy, and she leaned over the edge of the platform at Lawrence West Station, to see if a train was on the way. She fainted, hit her head, fell into the gap, and was lying across a track bleeding, with a train seconds away. How did she survive? Two men who knew neither her nor each other - Theo Parusis, 25, and Alvaro Meija, 26 - jumped down onto the track and hoisted her up to safety, five seconds before the train rolled over the spot. To most of us, these guys are heroes. But, as pointed out by post-Darwinist Denyse O'Leary, they are considered by evolutionary psychologists to be "the last remaining unsolved problem in evolution" [Gabriel Dover, "Anti-Dawkins" in Rose, Hilary and Steven Rose, Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology, London, Random House Vintage, 2001, p. 48]. Why are these guys a problem? Because according to evolutionary psychology, human beings are simply evolved animals, and animals do not do things like that. For example, in a recent letter to science journal Nature, researchers revealed that chimpanzees will not help other chimps unless they know them, even if helping would cost nothing, never mind that it might entail a risk. So if chimps don't do it, people cannot really be doing it either. So, evolutionists are forced into a variety of ingenious suggestions that the young men's behaviour was really selfish at heart. The Nature article reference and abstract is:

    Chimpanzees are indifferent to the welfare of unrelated group members
    Nature 437, 1357-1359 (27 October 2005)
    Joan B. Silk, Sarah F. Brosnan, Jennifer Vonk, Joseph Henrich, Daniel J. Povinelli, Amanda S. Richardson, Susan P. Lambeth, Jenny Mascaro and Steven J. Schapiro.
    Humans are an unusually prosocial species - we vote, give blood, recycle, give tithes and punish violators of social norms. Experimental evidence indicates that people willingly incur costs to help strangers in anonymous one-shot interactions, and that altruistic behaviour is motivated, at least in part, by empathy and concern for the welfare of others (hereafter referred to as other-regarding preferences). In contrast, cooperative behaviour in non-human primates is mainly limited to kin and reciprocating partners, and is virtually never extended to unfamiliar individuals. Here we present experimental tests of the existence of other-regarding preferences in non-human primates, and show that chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) do not take advantage of opportunities to deliver benefits to familiar individuals at no material cost to themselves, suggesting that chimpanzee behaviour is not motivated by other-regarding preferences. Chimpanzees are among the primates most likely to demonstrate prosocial behaviours. They participate in a variety of collective activities, including territorial patrols, coalitionary aggression, cooperative hunting, food sharing and joint mate guarding. Consolation of victims of aggression and anecdotal accounts of solicitous treatment of injured individuals suggest that chimpanzees may feel empathy. Chimpanzees sometimes reject exchanges in which they receive less valuable rewards than others, which may be one element of a 'sense of fairness', but there is no evidence that they are averse to interactions in which they benefit more than others.

    Editor's Summary, 27 October 2005 Law of the jungle:
    There is plenty of evidence - some of it cited in this week's Review Article - that humans care about the welfare of others and will provide costly assistance even to strangers. Frans de Waal has argued that 'other-regarding sentiments' may be deep-rooted in primate evolutionary history. But a test for such behaviour in chimpanzees has drawn a blank. They spurn the chance to deliver benefits to unrelated but familiar individuals at no cost to themselves, cooperating only with their kin and partners.

  • [October 28, 2005] The Torah often speaks of the heart as the seat of intellect and emotion: “God saw that the wickedness of Man was great upon the earth, and that every product of his heart was but evil always. And God reconsidered having made Man on earth, and He had heartfelt sadness". (Gen 6:5). This is thought to be thoroughly unscientific, since the heart is viewed as a purely mechanical pump. However, as reported in a book review (in the science magazine Discover 2004) of essayist Charles Siebert's new book:
    ... the heart is no mere pump, as some physicians still insist, but a sophisticated participant in the regulation of emotion. The heart has a mind of its own: It secretes its own brain-like hormones and actively partakes in a dialogue among the internal organs, a dialogue on which cardiac researchers are only beginning to eavesdrop. The heart likewise undergoes all manner of organic change inflicted on it by the tempestuous brain and its neurochemicals. As one doctor explains, people do suffer heartbreak, literally ... Consider the fate of William Schroeder, the second—and longest-surviving—recipient, in 1984, of the Jarvik-7 artificial heart. As a pump, the Jarvik-7 was a resounding success, keeping Schroeder alive for an unprecedented 620 days. The patient’s mental state was another matter. Schroeder was weepy and deeply despondent. (Barney Clark, the first Jarvik-7 recipient, expressed a wish to die or be killed.) The blood still circulated, but something vital—some emotionally charged communication between heart and mind—had been lost. What is it like, Siebert asks, to watch your favorite sports team rally yet not feel your pulse quicken? To see a loved one yet not feel your heart leap? “When someone’s heart is no longer working in concert with those feelings, does he feel that and cry more?” Affirming all myths, the heart truly is a seat of human emotion. The Jarvik-7, in contrast, was deaf to the song of human experience; built to invigorate its patient, it instead alienated him, supplying Schroeder with everything but the will to live. He had the look, Siebert writes, “of a man who has lost his heart".

  • [October 12, 2005] Quote from Italian geneticist, Giuseppe Sermonti:
    "Natural selection could perhaps be invoked as a mechanism accounting for the survival of species. But the claim that natural selection is creative of life, of life's essence and types and orders, can only leave us dumbstruck. Natural selection only eliminates, and its adoption as a mechanism of origin is like explaining "appearance" by "disappearance". Many times a year a language dies; does this explain the origin of languages? It is to be hoped that the third millennium will look back on the twentieth century's wild guesses about evolution as a Big Joke in which the illustrious founders of molecular biology were able to indulge. The neo-Darwinian theory embraced by the founders of molecular biology is rather like saying that the text of The Iliad came into being by mere chance, one step at time, letter by letter, emerging out of some lower "organism" a few verses long."
    [Page 13 in Why a Fly is not a Horse (2005), italics not in the original. The author, Giuseppe Sermonti, discovered genetic recombination in antibiotic-producing bacteria, which explains why bacteria are easily able to "evolve" resistance to antibiotics].

  • [October 10, 2005] News: Israel´s Prof. Aumann Wins Nobel Prize in Economics. Prof. Robert J. Aumann is a co-winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Economics, for "enhancing our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis." Aumann, a religious Jew who grew up in New York City and currently resides in Jerusalem, won the prestigious prize together with Prof. Thomas C. Schelling of the University of Maryland. The two established game theory as the dominant approach towards understanding conflict and cooperation between countries, individuals and organizations. They will share the $1.3 million prize. Prof. Aharoni said that a famous article by Prof. Aumann, in which he applies his theories to explain a difficult Mishna in Tractate Ketubot and another Mishna in Tractate Baba Metzia "caused economists and mathematicians around the world to take an interest in Talmudic texts and see how they deal with economic/legal issues." Aumann has shown that the Talmud and Rishonim were well aware of sophisticated concepts of modern risk taking (pdf) and that the 2000 year old Talmud prescribes bankruptcy solutions that equal precisely the nucleoli of the corresponding Coalitional games (pdf). Between 1901 and 2004, more than 740 Nobel Prizes were handed out of which at least 156 were Jews (pdf; halachic status). Thus Jews have been awarded over 21% of Nobel Prizes while being about 0.25% of the world population.

  • [October 2, 2005] The evolutionary elite would like to keep all evidence of intelligent design in biology out of the classroom, because that would be at odds with a strictly materialist view of the world. In April 2005, the science journal Nature interviewed Caroline Crocker, a molecular microbiologist at George Mason University: "Caroline Crocker says that she hadn't meant to start a controversy when she mentioned intelligent design while teaching her second-year cell-biology course at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, last semester. But many of her colleagues say that the soft-spoken molecular biologist, who received a PhD in immunopharmacology from the University of Southampton, UK, has gone too far. Sitting in an empty teaching lab, Crocker tells how she has been barred by her department from teaching both evolution and intelligent design". When Nature approached another researcher, he refused to speak for fear of hurting his chance to get tenure.

  • [October 1, 2005] Blog: A recent study confirms what has been a long-standing problem of evolution, that Lucy's bipedality is too early for Darwinian evolution. Richard Dawkins attempts to make sense of it, and in the process contradicts his earlier dogma.

  • [August 24, 2005] Article: Paul McHugh is a university distinguished service professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and former psychiatrist in chief of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. In The Weekly Standard, he provides evidence that Darwin's narrative of the origin of species is in crisis, and that civilized discourse about the growing controversy surrounding his theory is all to the good: "Those who would expel all challenges to the Darwinian narrative from the high school classroom are false to their mission of teaching the scientific method."

  • [August 3, 2005] Robert Laughlin, a Nobel laureate physicist concerned with the properties of matter that make life possible, offers a strong criticism of the theory of evolution by natural selection: "Much of present-day biological knowledge is ideological. A key symptom of ideological thinking is the explanation that has no implications and cannot be tested. I call such logical dead ends antitheories because they have exactly the opposite effect of real theories: they stop thinking rather than stimulate it. Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause!" [Robert Laughlin, A Different Universe (Reinventing Physics from the Bottom up), Basic Books, NY, 2005, pages 168–169].

  • [July 31, 2005] New book on evolution. Evolutionists keep insisting that evolution is a fact beyond any rational debate. However, Kuhn has told us that scientists often keep hacking away under inadequate paradigms despite the build-up of difficulties. In fact, they do not admit to any difficulties until they find a new paradigm. The authors of a new Yale University Press monograph claim that their new hypothesis of facilitated evolution can explain the appearance of design in nature (grains of salt come in handy when claims like this are made). However, this example bears Kuhn out, as the authors admit: In the 150 years since Darwin, the field of evolutionary biology has left a glaring gap in understanding how animals developed their astounding variety and complexity. The standard answer has been that small genetic mutations accumulate over time to produce wondrous innovations such as eyes and wings. Drawing on cutting-edge research across the spectrum of modern biology, Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart demonstrate how this stock answer is woefully inadequate.

  • [July 30, 2005] With reference to the previous item on the mind-brain problem, the following quote from an article in  Science 1980 is interesting: There's a young student at this university," says Lorber, "who has an IQ of 126, has gained a first-class honors degree in mathematics, and is socially completely normal. And yet the boy has virtually no brain." The student's physician at the university noticed that the youth had a slightly larger than normal head, and so referred him to Lorber, simply out of interest. "When we did a brain scan on him," Lorber recalls, "we saw that instead of the normal 4.5-centimeter thickness of brain tissue between the ventricles and the cortical surface, there was just a thin layer of mantle measuring a millimeter or so. His cranium is filled mainly with cerebrospinal fluid." How does one explain a flourishing intellectual life despite a severely damaged brain if, according to the causal closure espoused by naturalists, mind and brain coincide? More.

  • [July 30, 2005] An article in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society by Jeffrey Schwartz  and Henry P. Stapp challenges the materialism endemic to so much of contemporary neuroscience. By contrast, it argues for the irreducibility of mind (and therefore intelligence and free will) to material mechanisms. As they write in their conclusion: Materialist ontology draws no support from contemporary physics and is in fact contradicted by it. More.

  • [June 8, 2005] Essay in Nature by George Ellis: "A simple statement of fact: there is no physics theory that explains the nature of, or even the existence of, football matches, teapots, or jumbo-jet aircraft. The human mind is physically based, but there is no hope whatever of predicting the behavior it controls from the underlying physical laws. Even if we had a satisfactory fundamental physics 'theory of everything', this situation would remain unchanged: physics would still fail to explain the outcomes of human purpose, and so would provide an incomplete description of the real world around us."

  • [June 1, 2005] Magazine article: American Spectator Weighs in on Intelligent Design in the June 2005 issue. Dan Peterson's absorbing article begins:"IMAGINE A NANOTECHNOLOGY MACHINE far beyond the state of the art: a microminiaturized rotary motor and propeller system that drives a tiny vessel through liquid. The engine and drive mechanism are composed of 40 parts, including a rotor, stator, driveshaft, bushings, universal joint, and flexible propeller. The engine is powered by a flow of ions, can rotate at up to 100,000 rpm (ten times faster than a NASCAR racing engine), and can reverse direction in a quarter of a rotation. The system comes with an automatic feedback control mechanism. The engine itself is about 1/100,000th of an inch wide, far smaller than can be seen by the human eye."

  • [May 31, 2005] Discussion: Michael Behe explains how blood clotting expert Doolittle's misread a paper in his own area of specialty. A variety of evolutionist keep rushing to claim they have refuted intelligent design. But, as Behe says: "Proteins change single mutation by single mutation, amino acid by amino acid, so that’s the level of explanation that is needed. What part of “numerous, successive, slight” is so hard to understand?". Evolutionist appear unable to produce detailed testable Darwinian pathways to back up their vague claims. As always, we need to distinguish between the claim and evidence for the claim.

  • [May 29, 2005] Article in which the reductionist approach and "theories of eveything" are critiqued -- " the triumph of the reductionism of the Greeks is a pyrrhic victory".

  • [May 27, 2005] Discussion: Dinosaurs fossils may form very rapidly (within a few weeks) and dinosaur bones have been discovered on the surface in North Alaska in silty sands and even confused with bison bones (bison are recent large mammals).

  • [May 16, 2005] Discussion: David Berlinski discusses various "Darwinian doubts" including an American Naturalist 2001 study of 63 field studies (involving 62 species) reported in archival journals between 1984-1997 attempting to measure the strength of natural selection. On page 253 the authors report that "our most powerful studies indicate that selection is weak or absent". It may very well be that natural selection does not actually exist to any appreciable extent, and even if it does, it may play very little real role in biological change altogether. The empirical evidence is slim indeed!

  • [May 15, 2005] Letter: Professor Philip S. Skell, Member, National Academy of Sciences, and the Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus at Penn State University, has written a letter to the Kansas State Board of Education, voicing "strong support for the idea that students should be able to study scientific criticisms of the evidence for modern evolutionary theory along with the evidence favouring the theory."  He writes that "Darwinian evolution has functioned more as a philosophical belief system than as a testable scientific hypothesis" and that "Darwinian evolution is an interesting theory about the remote history of life. Nonetheless, it has little practical impact on those branches of science that do not address questions of biological history".

  • [May 10, 2005] Calculation: The Jewish new moon (molad) is consistent with the 6 days of creation.

  • [May 10, 2005] Quote; Frank Moore Cross, Harvard's eminent scholar of ancient Near Eastern thought, critiques Wellhausians and Neo-Wellhausians.

  • [May 9, 2005] Discussion: cosmology and hypothetical entities such as inflation, the missing dark matter and dark energy.

  • [May 8, 2005] Discussion  added to the essay on Big Bang Cosmology and the age of the Universe.