Category Archives: News

Are the Galapagos finch beaks evidence of Darwinian evolution?

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

Jonathan Wells has an article about it at Evolution News.

It says:

When Charles Darwin visited the Galápagos Islands in 1835, he collected specimens of the local wildlife. These included some finches that he threw into bags, many of them mislabeled. Although the Galápagos finches had little impact on Darwin’s thinking (he doesn’t even mention them in The Origin of Species), biologists who studied them a century later called them “Darwin’s finches” and invented the myth that Darwin had correlated differences in the finches’ beaks with different food sources (he hadn’t). According to the myth, Darwin was inspired by the finches to formulate his theory of evolution, thoughaccording to historian of science Frank Sulloway “nothing could be further from the truth.”

In the 1970s, biologists studied a population of medium ground finches on one of the islands in great detail. When a severe drought left only large, hard-to-crack seeds, 85 percent of the birds perished. The survivors had beaks that were about 5 percent larger than the average beak size in the original population. The biologists estimated that if similar droughts occurred once every ten years, the population could become a new species in only 200 years. In a 1999 booklet defending evolution, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences called the finches “a particularly compelling example” of the origin of species.

But after the drought, birds with smaller beaks flourished again, and the average beak size of the population returned to normal. No net evolution had occurred. No matter; Darwin’s finches became an icon of evolution that is still featured in most biology textbooks.

In the 1980s, a population of large ground finches, with larger beaks than the medium ground finches, migrated to the island. When a drought in 2004-2005 again reduced the food supply, the medium and large ground finch populations both declined. But since even the largest beaks among the medium ground finches were no match for the beaks of the large ground finches, the latter pretty much monopolized the larger seeds and the former had to make do with smaller seeds. This time, the medium ground finches that survived the drought had beaks that were smaller than the average size in the original population. Biologists studying the finches argued that birds with smaller beaks were better able to eat the tiny seeds that were left after the large ground finches ate the big ones, and they concluded that this was again an example of “evolutionary change.”

[…]Wait a minute. Average beak size increased slightly during one drought, only to return to normal after the rains return. Then average beak size decreased slightly during another drought. A region of DNA is correlated with beak size. And somehow that tells us how finches evolved in the first place?

There is an important distinction to make between micro-evolution and macro-evolution. Changes within a type is micro-evolution. Evolving a new organ type or body plan is macro-evolution. There is plenty of evidence for micro-evolution, but no evidence for macro-evolution.

What needs to be proven by the Darwinists is that the same process that results in different average beak size in a population of finches after a drought can create the finches in the first place. I think that Darwinists are credulous – they believe what they want to believe because they want to believe it, even if the evidence is incredibly weak. Darwinists must demonstrate that heritable variations can result in the generation of new organ types and body plans. Changes in average beak size is not interesting. What is needed is to show how the beaks, much less the wings, evolved in the first place.

Icons of Evolution

Jonathan has actually written about a number of  misleading things that you may mind in Biology textbooks.

Here are the sections in his book “Icons of Evolution“:

  • The Miller-Urey Experiment
  • Darwin’s Tree of Life
  • Homology in Vertebrate Limbs
  • Haeckel’s Embroys
  • Archaeopteryx–The Missing Link
  • Peppered Moths
  • Darwin’s Finches
  • Four-Winged Fruit Flies
  • Fossil Horses and Directed Evolution
  • From Ape to Human: The Ultimate Icon

Dr. Wells holds a Ph.D in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley.

City Journal publishes comprehensive profile of Southern Poverty Law Center

First, recall from this article posted at The Federalist that the Southern Poverty Law Center was the source of the “hate map” which was used by convicted domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins in his attempt to shoot and kill everyone at the Family Research Council. He was stopped by a security guard, and the video above is the footage of the attempted mass murder.

Excerpt:

Corkins would later admit that he had located Family Research Council’s office on a “hate map” produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and he planned to shoot people in the building and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches on them.

[…]Much of the ensuing media coverage ignored or downplayed Corkins’ motives, which the Washington Post referred to as “a detail sure to reignite the culture wars.” A year later, Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees was still publicly defending the inclusion of Family Research Council on the organization’s “hate map.”

Just to be clear, this gay activist was convicted of domestic terrorism, and received 25 years in prison.

Let’s find out more about SPLC, courtesy of this article from the centrist City Journal, a very respected source.

Here is the article from City Journal.

Excerpt:

Ironically, the SPLC not only overlooks most of the real hate groups in operation today, along with overtly race-based organizations, such as the pro-Latino National Council of La Raza and MEChA, but also labels moderates with whom it disagrees “extremists” if they deviate from its rigid political agenda, which embraces open borders, LGBT rights, and other left-wing totems. The SPLC has branded Somali-born reformer Ayaan Hirsi Ali an “anti-Muslin extremist” for her opposition to female genital mutilation and other oppressive Islamic practices, and designated the respected Family Research Council as a “hate group” for its opposition to same-sex marriage. Likewise, the organization deems mainstream immigration-reform advocates such as the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) as hate groups. British Muslim activist Maajid Nawaz—regarded by most observers as a human rights leader—is suing the SPLC for listing him as an extremist.

Not just the Family Research Council, but the Alliance Defending Freedom and Liberty Counsel, too. Defending religious liberty at the Supreme Court and winning your case apparently makes you a “hate group”.

More:

Critics of the SPLC accuse the lavishly funded organization of peddling fear and smearing political opponents—mostly conservatives—as bigots. Its “Hatewatch” list is avowedly ideological, acknowledging that it “monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right.” Few left-wing organizations—and no Islamist groups—are branded in this way by the SPLC. Nevertheless, the SPLC, founded in 1971, has burrowed itself into the civil rights movement, the organized bar, the cloistered culture of large law firms, the education system, and even law enforcement as a champion for “the exploited, the powerless and the forgotten.” Its executives are richly compensated, some in excess of $400,000 annually. Operating from palatial six-story quarters in Montgomery, Alabama (sometimes called the “Poverty Palace”), it enjoys a $300 million endowment, including more than $23 million in cash.

The non-profit rating group “Charity Watch” gives the SPLC an “F” rating. This is the lowest grade possible.

More:

The SPLC frequently rails against public figures as “enablers” not technically designated as hate groups or extremists, such as Texas governor Greg Abbott, former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, radio talk show host Glenn Beck, Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano, and Kentucky senator Rand Paul. Rush Limbaugh, the Breitbart News Network, the Boy Scouts of America, and Focus on the Family (founded by psychologist, broadcaster, and best-selling author James Dobson) have also earned the SPLC’s wrath.

And finally:

What many of the individuals and groups condemned by the SPLC have in common is a conservative orientation. Favoring traditional marriage becomes the moral equivalent of cross-burning; opposing illegal immigration or amnesty for illegal immigrants equates to advocating genocide; resisting the spread of radical Islam invokes Timothy McVeigh; and anti-tax Tea Party groups are now indistinguishable from armed militias or Holocaust deniers. Thus, dissent is de-legitimatized, and political foes are demonized.

[…]SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok, a 20-year veteran of the organization and editor of its “hate list”—a quarterly publicationhas admitted that “our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.”

How far would the SPLC go to “destroy” their enemies? Well, the SPLC-inspired attack on the Family Research Council is not the only time that the SPLC has been linked to violent left-wing extremism.

Consider this story from the radically leftist New York Times.

They write:

It was a little after 5 p.m., a quiet time in a quiet neighborhood, before many people had returned home from work on Tuesday, when two women called 911 to report multiple gunshots and screams echoing through a condominium complex here near the University of North Carolina.

By the time the police arrived, three people were dead — a newlywed couple and the woman’s sister. They were young university students, Muslims of Arab descent, and high achievers who regularly volunteered in the area. A neighbor, a middle-age white man, was missing — then under arrest and charged with three counts of murder.

[…]Mr. Hicks, appeared to have a deep dislike of all religion. On his Facebook page, nearly all of his posts expressed support for atheism, criticism of Christian conservatives or both.

Let’s take a look at what’s on his Facebook page:

His Facebook Likes included the Huffington Post, Rachel Maddow, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” Neil deGrasse Tyson, Gay Marriage groups and similar progressive pages.

Previously, I blogged about a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Academic Questions, found that the SPLC “…fails to use objective criteria in determining which organizations should be labeled a “hate group”…”. Something to keep in mind when you hear the left-wing media invoking the SPLC as an authority.

Daughter of single mother explains how absent father ruined her life

SurveyMonkey election poll cross tabs for unmarried women Nov 2016
SurveyMonkey election poll cross tabs for unmarried women Nov 2016

The meaning of that image above will become clear at the end of the post.

I found a YouTube video featuring a conversation about the fundamental problem that I see with young, unmarried women: their decision to have recreational premarital sex with hot guys throughout their teens and 20s.

Here is the conversation: (just listen to the first 7 minutes to start)

Note: this conversation contains vulgar language. Listener discretion is advised.

Molyneux gets her talking about the most important question that women who fail with men never want to answer: why did your mother choose this awful, awful man, to be your father out of all the other men in the world? At the end, she really has learned her lesson and gives a good warning to other young women at the crossroads.

Summary of key admissions:

  • Caller: I’m a 41-year-old single white female who was a bad girl in my 20s. I was raised fatherless by a loving Christian mom. Question: what caused me to fail at life and be living with my (divorced) mother?
  • I was gifted, very intellectual, top of the class
  • My mom is a very caring person
  • My mom approached my Dad when he was already in another relationship (i.e. – her mom was the woman her father cheated with on another woman, then her mom married this cheating man and he dumped the previous woman)
  • My mom was very attractive, and could have chosen different men, but she was really attracted to this terrible man
  • My mom had a desire to get away from her strict parents, who she resented
  • when I was 15 I chose a man, I had recreational sex with him before marriage, and he stalked me and humiliated me
  • I felt like an adult at age 15, and I had sex with this man then so that I could put childhood behind me and become an adult
  • My mother counter-acted the absence of my Dad by raising me as a Christian – she was a radical, intense Christian and that hyper-religiosity made me not want to talk about sex with her
  • My mom divorced my father because he was a jerk
  • My mom did not mind that he had other children from past relationships, was underemployed, and was lazy
  • I used to sneak out of my room and sit on the back porch and drink alcohol with the neighbor kids
  • My mom was a worrier and a control freak, so I rebelled against her warnings and attempts to set boundaries on my wildness
  • I and my 15-year-old recreational sex partner used a condom from my devout Christian mother’s drawer
  • I had sex with 5 different boyfriends from age 15-18 and caught mono
  • My mom had temporary boyfriends after the divorce
  • In my 20s, “there wasn’t much to do except go out and drink”. “two to three times a week, me and my girlfriends would get dressed up, go to the clubs, and try to attract hot guys”.
  • From 21-30, I stopped looking for relationships, I just hooked up with hot guys for one-night stands and FWBs
  • I felt better about myself, more confident and in control when I would drink and have one-night stands with these hot guys
  • “I don’t know why I was so focused on looks” in these guys
  • The hooking up stopped at 30, then dating (with sex) resumed
  • I realized that the hot guys I wanted were not going to settle down, especially with new younger women available
  • From 15 to now, I’ve slept with 60 different men, sometimes repeatedly, and on and off
  • I never admitted the true number of men I slept with to any of these men
  • last relationship was 5 years ago (at age 36)
  • I have lost interest in sex, and lost interest in men
  • I don’t have the mental toughness to be in a relationship
  • I have “been broken” by too many failed relationships
  • nobody told me that my decisions with men were not going to go well

In the final 8 minutes where Stefan explains the larger consequences of women’s choices for civilization is very important, I think. I was surprised that he spoke directly to the “hot” alpha males that women want and told them that they are breaking women, and share the blame for destroying our civilization. The thing is, I don’t think those hot alpha males care about civilization, or anything except for themselves. So why do young women choose them?

If I had to pick one essential characteristic of young, unmarried women which ruins their lives, it is their inability to choose responsible men who are proven to be good at doing the things that men do as husbands and fathers. Young, unmarried women today are attracted to men who are LOUSY at the things that men do as husbands and fathers. Responsible men with strict morals and settled religion are not attractive to young, unmarried women. These women can’t connect their choices with men to the tasks that men actually perform in a married home. I am talking about non-Christian women AND Christian women. Nothing that women learn in church corrects this flaw. They are taught to believe that God speaks to them through their emotions, that they must follow their emotions, and everything they do that blows up in their faces is the fault of men. It’s never their responsibility.

Men’s rights activists say that this flaw is the root cause of the end of civilization, and I’m inclined to believe them. Saving women from this flaw is the number one task of fathers, and it is the number one thing that women must look for in a man they make babies with: FIND A MAN WHO CAN BREAK YOUR FUTURE DAUGHTER(S) OUT OF THIS DELUSION BEFORE THEY CHOOSE A BAD MAN. Strong men confront women and set boundaries to help women make better choices. Weak men blame the bad men that women freely choose and this does NOT help women make better choices. Women need to understand that men who speak to them directly, and tell them no, and set boundaries and try to push them to be serious about education and career and finances and marriage are NOT anti-woman. We are trying to protect you and strengthen you, by telling you to make good decisions, and be responsible.

New study: marijuana triples risk of high blood pressure

Investigation in progress
Investigation in progress

I actually have two studies for this post, both reported by far-left news sources, oddly enough.

First one is from the radical leftist Reuters.

Excerpt:

People who smoke marijuana have a three times greater risk of dying from hypertension, or high blood pressure, than those who have never used the drug, scientists said on Wednesday.

The risk grows with every year of use, they said.

The findings, from a study of some 1,200 people, could have implications in the United States among other countries. Several states have legalized marijuana and others are moving toward it. It is decriminalized in a number of other countries.

[…]The study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, was a retrospective follow-up study of 1,213 people aged 20 or above who had been involved in a large and ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In 2005–2006, they were asked if they had ever used marijuana.

For Yankey’s study, information on marijuana use was merged with mortality data in 2011 from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, and adjusted for confounding factors such as tobacco smoking and variables including sex, age and ethnicity.

The average duration of use among users of marijuana, or cannabis, was 11.5 years.

The results showed marijuana users had a 3.42-times higher risk of death from hypertension than non-users, and a 1.04 greater risk for each year of use.

There is a problem with that study, though:

Yankey said were limitations in the way marijuana use was assessed — including that researchers could not be sure whether people had used the drug continuously since they first tried it.

Here is a second study reported by the radically-leftist CNN.

Excerpt:

The number of children who were admitted to emergency rooms for unintentional marijuana intoxication increased by 133% in France over an 11-year period, according to a new study.

Marijuana intoxication can occur when a child accidentally ingests a marijuana product or inhales marijuana smoke. Symptoms can vary based on the child’s age and size but often include sleepiness, difficulty breathing, seizures or even coma. Effects usually last six to 24 hours.

Cannabis is illegal in France, but it has the highest rate of marijuana use in Europe, said Dr. Isabelle Claudet, lead author of the study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

“And that means we are facing an increase in emergency admissions of marijuana intoxication and an increase in severe symptoms seen in children,” said Claudet, a pediatric emergency physician in Toulouse.

She and other researchers analyzed the number of French children under 6 admitted to pediatric emergency departments because of unintentional cannabis intoxication and the number of cannabis-related calls involving children to French poison control centers.

From 2004 to 2014, 235 children were admitted to ERs with cannabis intoxication, and there was a 133% increase in the admissions rate for it. The number of calls to poison control centers related to cannabis exposure in children increased by 312% in the same period.

[…]Over the 11-year span, the severity of symptoms in children admitted to emergency departments because of marijuana intoxication also increased.

Twenty times more severe cases were reported in 2014 compared with 2004, and and four times more severe cases were reported in 2014 compared with 2013. Of the 32 children reported to have gone into comas, 53% were admitted in 2014, and there were more cannabis-related admissions than any other type of pediatric emergency room admission.

One of the problems with making drugs legal is that it is known to increase the use of the drugs. And the more available a drug becomes, the more likely it is to fall into the hands of children. Especially at a time like this, where both parents (if there are two parents) usually work. That means no one is at home to supervise.

This week, someone at work had asked me why I was so unwilling to spend money on entertainment. It made me think back to my early years growing up in a poor immigrant household. We simply didn’t have money for things like cigarettes or alcohol or entertainment. Our first TV was a black and white TV, for goodness sake. We were always the last to get the new inventions, like microwaves and computers. I wasn’t interested in alcohol or drugs because I couldn’t afford them. I was too busy trying to make money because my parents had none to give me. Sometimes, I think that American children have TOO MUCH money. If you had to choose between food and drugs, you’d choose food.

Related posts

Utilitarianism and the Moral Life by J. P. Moreland

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

I found this essay on After All, but it looks like their site is not working well, so I’m just going to steal it and post it here, in case it disappears completely. This is one of my favorite short essays on utilitarianism, and it’s a wonder that the thing can’t stay up somewhere. Well, it will have a home here now. I’d be surprised to see anyone else be this awesome in a measly 1000 words as Dr. Moreland is below.

—-

Utilitarianism and the Moral Life

What Is Utilitarianism?

Utilitarianism (also called consequentialism) is a moral theory developed and refined in the modern world by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). It can be defined as follows:

An action or moral rule is right if and only if it maximizes the amount of nonmoral good produced in the consequences that result from doing that act or following that rule compared with other acts or rules open to the agent.

By focusing on three features of utilitarianism, we can clarify this definition.

(1) Utilitarian theories of value.

What is a nonmoral good? Utilitarians deny that there are any moral actions or rules that are intrinsically right or wrong. But they do believe in objective values that are nonmoral.

Hedonistic utilitarians say that the only intrinsic good is pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Quantitative hedonists (Bentham) say that the amount of pleasure and pain is the only thing that matters in deciding between two courses of action, I should do the one that produces the greatest amount of pleasure and the least amount of pain (measured by factors like the duration and intensity of the pleasure). Qualitative hedonists (Mill) say that pleasure is the only intrinsic good, but the type of pleasure is what is important, not the amount. They would rank pleasures that come from reading, art, and friendship as more valuable than those that come from, say, a full stomach.

Pluralistic utilitarians
say there are a number of things that have intrinsic, nonmoral value: pleasure, friendship, health, knowledge, freedom, peace, security, and so forth. For pluralists, it is not just the pleasure that comes from friendship that has value but also friendship itself.

Currently, the most popular utilitarian view of value is subjective preference utilitarianism. This position says it is presumptuous and impossible to specify things that have intrinsic nonmoral worth. So, they claim, intrinsic value ought to be defined as that which each individual subjectively desires or wants, provided these do not harm others. Unfortunately, this view collapses into moral relativism.

(2) Utilitarians and maximizing utility.

Utilitarians use the term utility to stand for whatever good they are seeking to produce as consequences of a moral action (e.g., “pleasure” for the hedonist, “satisfaction of subjective preference” for others). They see morality in a means-to-ends way. The sole value of a moral action or rule is the utility of its consequences. Moral action should maximize utility. This can be interpreted in different ways, but many utilitarians embrace the following: the correct moral action or rule is the one that produces the greatest amount of utility for the greatest number of people.

(3) Two forms of utilitarianism: act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism.

According to act utilitarianism, an act is right if and only if no other act available maximizes utility more than the act in question. Here, each new moral situation is evaluated on its own, and moral rules like “don’t steal” or “don’t break promises” are secondary The moral agent must weigh available alternatives and choose the one that produces the best consequences. Rule utilitarianism says that correct moral actions are done in keeping with correct moral rules, However, no moral rule is intrinsically right or wrong. Rather, a correct moral rule is one that would maximize utility if most people followed it as opposed to following an alternative rule. Here, alternative rules (e.g., “don’t lie” vs. “don’t lie unless doing so would enhance friendship”) are compared for their consequences, not specific actions.

What Is Wrong with Utilitarianism?

Several objections show the inadequacy of utilitarianism as a normative moral theory.

First, utilitarianism can be used to justify actions that are clearly immoral. Consider the case of a severely deformed fetus. The child is certain to live a brief, albeit painless life. He or she will make no contribution to society. Society, however, will bear great expense. Doctors and other caregivers will invest time, emotion, and effort in adding mere hours to the baby’s life. The parents will know and love the child only long enough to be heartbroken at the inevitable loss. An abortion negates all those “utility” losses. There is no positive utility lost. Many of the same costs are involved in the care of the terminally ill elderly. They too may suffer no pain, but they may offer no benefit to society. In balancing positives and negatives, and excluding from the equation the objective sacredness of all human life, we arrive at morally repugnant decisions. Here deontological and virtue ethics steer us clear of what is easier to what is right.

Second, in a similar way, utilitarianism denies the existence of supererogatory acts. These are acts of moral heroism that are not morally obligatory but are still praiseworthy. Examples would be giving 75 percent of your income to the poor or throwing yourself on a bomb to save a stranger. Consider the bomb example. You have two choices — throwing yourself on the bomb or not doing so. Each choice would have consequences and, according to utilitarianism, you are morally obligated to do one or the other depending on which option maximized utility. Thus, there is no room for acts that go beyond the call of morality.

Third, utilitarianism has an inadequate view of human rights and human dignity. If enslaving a minority of people, say by a lottery, would produce the greatest good for the greatest number, or if conceiving children only to harvest their parts would do the same, then these could he justified in a utilitarian scheme. But enslavement and abortion violate individual rights and treat people as a means to an end, not as creatures with intrinsic dignity as human beings. If acts of abortion, active euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and so forth maximize utility, then they are morally obligatory for the utilitarian. But any moral system that makes abortion and suicide morally obligatory is surely flawed.

Finally, utilitarianism has an inadequate view of motives and character. We should praise good motives and seek good character because such motives and character are intrinsically valuable. But utilitarianism implies that the only reason we should praise good motives instead of bad ones, or seek good character instead of bad character, is because such acts would maximize utility. But this has the cart before the horse. We should praise good motives and blame bad ones because they are good or bad, not because such acts of praising and blaming produce good consequences.

In sum, it should be clear that utilitarianism is an inadequate moral theory. Unfortunately, ours is a pragmatic culture and utilitarianism is on the rise. But for those of us who follow Christ, a combination of virtue and deontological ethics is a more adequate view of common sense morality found in natural law and of the moral vision contained in the Bible.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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