Tag Archives: Richard Sternberg

Is opposition to evolution based on ignorance of the scientific data?

Consider this article by Jonathan Wells.

First, let’s re-cap the challenge to evolution from the phenomenon of the Cambrian explosion.

The newly released film “Darwin’s Dilemma” argues that the geologically abrupt appearance of the major groups of animals (the “phyla”) in the Cambrian Explosion posed a serious problem for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution (as he himself knew), and that subsequent fossil discoveries—far from solving the problem—have made it worse.

Basically, all the major body plans we have today appear in the fossil record in a 2-3 million period about 543 million years ago. There are no precursors in the fossil record showing the gradual evolution of these major body plans.

The Cambrian Explosion: 0 to 60 in a few million years
The Cambrian Explosion: 0 to 60 in a few million years

Darwin expected to discover lots and lots of fossils leading up to the Cambrian explosion period that would show how all these phyla came into existence slowly over time. Unfortunately for the naturalistic evolutionists, the discoveries we’ve been making haven’t shown any hint of precursor fossils leading up the Cambrian explosion.

Since 1859, however, many Precambrian fossils have been found, including microfossils of single-celled bacteria in rocks more than three billion years old. In addition, multicellular Precambrian fossils have been found in the Ediacara Hills of Australia, though there is continuing debate over whether any—or how many—of the Ediacaran fossils were animals, or what relationship—if any—they had to the Cambrian phyla. In 1998, Cambridge University paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris (who is featured in the film “Darwin’s Dilemma”) wrote, “Apart from the few Ediacaran survivors… there seems to be a sharp demarcation between the strange world of Ediacaran life and the relatively familiar Cambrian fossils” (Crucible of Creation, 30).

But wait! Maybe we can’t find the precusor fossils required by Darwinism because they are too small or too soft to have survived for so long?

Since 1859, however, many Precambrian fossils have been found, including microfossils of single-celled bacteria in rocks more than three billion years old. In addition, multicellular Precambrian fossils have been found in the Ediacara Hills of Australia… In 1998, Cambridge University paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris… wrote, “Apart from the few Ediacaran survivors… there seems to be a sharp demarcation between the strange world of Ediacaran life and the relatively familiar Cambrian fossils” (Crucible of Creation, 30).

So there is now no shortage of Precambrian fossils. Not only do we have fossils of bacteria, but we also have many fossils of soft-bodied Multicellular organisms. “In the Ediacaran organisms there is no evidence for any skeletal hard parts,” wrote Conway Morris in 1998. “Ediacaran fossils look as if they were effectively soft-bodied” (Crucible of Creation, 28). The same is true of many of the organisms fossilized in the Cambrian explosion.

But wait! Scientists have discovered lots of exceptionally preserved microbes just before the Cambrian explosion. Don’t microbes count as precursors to the Cambrian explosion phyla?

Richard Callow and Martin Brasier reported in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of the Geological Society, London “a variety of exceptionally preserved microbes” from late Precambrian rocks in England that address “the paradox known as ‘“Darwin’s dilemma’.”

[…]Callow and Brasier didn’t solve Darwin’s dilemma. Instead, they put one more nail in the coffin of Darwin’s attempt to salvage his theory from it. The truth is that “exceptionally preserved microbes” from the late Precambrian actually deepen Darwin’s dilemma, because they suggest that if there had been ancestors to the Cambrian phyla they would have been preserved.

I am willing to believe in evolution. But in order to get me to believe it, I insist on seeing a fossil record that shows the gradual emergence of phyla, one or two at a time, over hundreds of millions of years. That is what Darwinism predicts. We now have a solid record of what came before the Cambrian explosion. So where are the precursors? Where is the record of gradual emergence? Where is my evidence?

More on the Cambrian explosion

The origin of life and biological information

Videos on intelligent design

New Illustra Media DVD on the Cambrian Explosion available to pre-order

ARN reports on “Darwin’s Dilemma”, the final DVD in the magnificent intelligent design trilogy.

Excerpt:

The final film in Illustra Media’s long-planned Intelligent Design trilogy, Darwin’s Dilemma, is scheduled for release September 15, 2009 and is currently available for pre-order at ARN at a special introductory price.

This documentary will examine what many consider to be the most powerful refutation of Darwinian evolution-the Cambrian fossil evidence. Charles Darwin realized that the fossil evidence did not support his theory of gradual, step-by-step evolutionary development. He hoped that future generations of scientists would make the discoveries necessary to validate his ideas. Today, after more than 150 years of exploration fossil evidence of slow, incremental biological change has yet to be excavated. Instead, we find a picture of the rapid appearance of fully developed, complex organisms during the outset of the Cambrian geological era. Organisms that embody almost all of the major animal body plans that exist today. This remarkable explosion of life is best explained by the existence of a transcendent intelligence.

Filmed on four continents, this fascinating documentary examines some of the most important fossil discoveries ever made… and, with them, a mystery deeper than Darwin ever imagined. The Cambrian explosion was actually an explosion of biological information: assembly instructions in DNA and embryonic blueprints that directed the development of the first complex animals…information that points unmistakably to foresight, purpose and intelligent design.

Darwin’s Dilemma is a high-quality documentary that includes interviews with world-class paleontologists Simon Conway Morris and James Valentine, as well as leading intelligent design theorists and scientists Paul Nelson, Jonathan Wells, Stephen C. Meyer, Paul Chien, Doug Axe, and Richard Sternberg.

I would click through to ARN’s description if you’re interested, they have a feature list! They also link to the trailer, which you can view online.

Paul Chien and Simon Conway Morris are the top two paleontologists on Cambrian era fossils in the world, in my opinion. (One is an expert on the Burgess Shale in Canada, the other on the Chengjiang Valley in China – the two best locations in the world for Cambrian era fossils). James Valentine is also an expert on the Cambrian era fossils. This will be a HOOT!

Related DVDs

The first two DVDs “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” and “The Privileged Planet” are must-buys, but you can watch them on youtube if you want, for free.

Here are the 2 playlists:

I also recommend Coldwater Media’s “Icons of Evolution”. All three of these are on sale from Amazon.com.

Previous posts

I have to tell you a joke. I just bought an Expelled DVD for one of the guys in my office. But a different guy in my office watched it all by himself on the weekend, the same weekend I went to his church, which he has always been trying to get me to do. Well I offered to take the second guy out to lunch so we could talk about it, but he wants me to rake his lawn for him! He has a HUGE lawn in the country!

The things I do to make people learn things so God will have a stronger bench!

Round-up of stories about intelligent design, from the Discovery Institute

The Discovery Institute is the headquarters for ID research and advocacy in the United States. They send out a newsletter by e-mail and I though this week’s hit on all cylinders. Below are some of their stories from the newsletter. Thanks to commenter ECM for an earlier tip on the Junk DNA story.


When “Junk DNA” Isn’t Junk: Farewell to a Darwinist Standard Response

Richard Sternberg, research scientist at the Biologic Institute supported by the Center for Science and Culture, is now blogging at Evolution News & Views, weighing in on the latest research showing that so-called “Junk DNA,” which Darwinists have discounted as “rubbish,” are actually “anything but that.”

Sternberg writes:

In the Darwinist repertoire, a standard response to evidence of design in the genome is to point to the existence of “junk DNA.” What is it doing there, if purposeful design really is detectable in the history of life’s development? Of course this assumes that the “junk” really is junk. That assumption has been cast increasingly into doubt. New research just out in the journal Nature Genetics finds evidence that genetic elements previously thought of as rubbish are anything but that. The research describes tiny strands of RNA, previously thought to be junk, that now turn out to play a role in gene expression. Another finding by Dr. Geoff Faulkner shows that “retrotransposons,” a further variety of “junk” as the dogma previously taught, play a similar role.

Also at ENV, Dr. Sternberg takes a look at the old Darwinian tripe that biological systems couldn’t possibly have been designed because they exhibit “shoddy engineering”:

We often hear from Darwinians that the biological world is replete with examples of shoddy engineering, or, as they prefer to put it, bad design. One such case of really poor construction is the inverted retina of the vertebrate eye. As we all know, the retina of our eyes is configured all wrong because the cells that gather photons, the rod photoreceptors, are behind two other tissue layers. Light first strikes the ganglion cells and then passes by or through the bipolar cells before reaching the rod photoreceptors. Surely, a child could have arranged the system better — so they tell us.

The problem with this story of supposed unintelligent design is that it is long on anthropomorphisms and short on evidence. Consider nocturnal mammals. Night vision for, say, a mouse is no small feat. Light intensities during night can be a million times less than those of the day, so the rod cells must be optimized — yes, optimized — to capture even the few stray photons that strike them. Given the backwards organization of the mouse’s retina, how is this scavenging of light accomplished? Part of the solution is that the ganglion and bipolar cell layers are thinner in mammals that are nocturnal. But other optimizations must also occur. Enter the cell nucleus and “junk” DNA.

Jerry Coyne Recycles: Why Darwinism Is False

Jonathan Wells is reviewing Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True over at ENV, and already the list of problems with Coyne’s book is mounting:

On Earth Day 2009, we are reminded of the ecological importance of recycling. As a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at The University of Chicago, Jerry A. Coyne must be keen on recycling: He even recycles worn-out arguments for Darwinism.

If “evolution” meant simply that existing species can undergo minor changes over time, or that many species alive today did not exist in the past, then evolution would undeniably be true. But “evolution” for Coyne means Darwinism — the theory that all living things are descendants of a common ancestor, modified by unguided natural processes such as DNA mutations and natural selection.

Coyne discusses the fossil record, embryos, vestigial structures, the geographic distribution of species, artificial and natural selection, and the origin of species. In the process, (1) he ignores the Cambrian explosion — which Darwin considered a “serious” problem — and he rearranges the fossil record to fit Darwin’s theory; (2) he defends Ernst Haeckel — who faked some drawings of vertebrate embryos to provide support for Darwinism — and he dredges up the doctrine that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny; (3) he claims that much human DNA is useless junk — despite abundant recent evidence that this is not true — and he relies on theological arguments that have no legitimate place in natural science; (4) he invokes “the well-known process called convergent evolution” to explain many cases of the geographic distribution of species — even though the “well-known process” is merely speculation — and he again falls back on theology to justify a supposedly scientific theory; and (5) he describes examples of natural and artificial selection — none of which show anything more than minor changes within existing species — and he misrepresents experimental evidence to make it sound as though the origin of species by natural selection has been directly observed.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Other stuff

The newsletter also discussed historian A.N. Wilson’s return to faith from atheism, which is really interesting because he seems to be well-rounded in his reasons for rejecting atheism. And the newsletter mentions that Jay Richards’ forthcoming book, “Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem” is out May 6th! Jay gave a great lecture on basic economics for Christians and another great lecture on what Christians should think about global warming.