Friday, April 7, 2006
Every attempt to require public schools to teach alternatives to
evolution has emphasized the "gaps" in Darwin's theory. In 1859,
when Darwin published "The Origin of Species," it was all gaps.
It was Darwin's theory that gave organization to the collecting
of fossils, creating the science of paleontology. The only
surprise is how complete the fossil record has gotten in only 150
years. Two reports in yesterday's issue of Nature, beautifully
bridged a remaining gap. Fossils of a 375-million-year-old fish
were found in the Canadian arctic, 600 miles from the North Pole.
It was a fish with a swivel head, a wrist and an elbow, clearly a
transition between fish and land-dwelling animals. It seems to
be a perfect candidate for the hypothesized intermediate species.
It was a lousy day for intelligent design, which has had a lot of
bad days lately. Even as a missing link showed up on the pages
of Nature, a report in Science from the University of Oregon
showed how a new hormone-receptor pair evolved. An existing
molecule, created for a different role, was recruited to do the
new job. The lead author, Joseph Thornton, believes this may be
common in the evolution of complex systems. Hormone-receptor
pairs would seem to be an example of what intelligent-design guru
Michael Behe calls "irreducible complexity" (ID). One without
the other would be useless. However, Behe scoffed to the NY
Times that Hormone-receptor pairs aren't really ID. Either he's
still a little cranky from the Dover trial, or he just prefers
miracles (WN 21 Oct 05) .
According to yesterday's Wash Post, Israeli and U.S. scientists
suggest that when Jesus walked on water he may have just been on
floating ice from a cold snap. I don't know who these scientists
are, but is this what scientists do? Let's see, he might also
have been walking on a submerged UFO. Or maybe it didn't happen.
Florida is considering exempting them from taxes. Could you
leave your nativity scene up all year round and deduct it?
Two months ago, NASA climate scientist James Hansen was pressured
to cool it (WN 10 Feb 06) .
The White House appointee in NASA public relations who pressured
him has since been fired for inflating his resume. Michael
Griffin has now issued a new policy allowing NASA scientists to
speak their minds as long as they give their bosses notice.
Yesterday, however, a Wash Post story reported that other
scientists doing climate research for the government complain
that they're also being muzzled by the Bush administration.