Doctor’s Diary: Evolution in the Country of the Blind

anatomy, animals, apes, atheists, babies, birth canal, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, childbirth, chromosomes, Creativity, DNA, ductus arteriosus, earthquake, Ecuador, foresight, H.G. Wells, heteropalindromes, human evolution, human exceptionalism, Human Origins, humans, Intelligent Design, invention, Marcos Eberlin, Minnesota, orphan genes, oxygen, P.Z. Myers, parable, Periodic Table, phenotypes, Richard Dawkins, The Country of the Blind, Tree of Life
Fans of H. G. Wells are probably familiar with his 1904 short story, “The Country of the Blind.” Source
Read More

Lesson from a Carnivorous Plant

Aldovanda, aquatic bladderwort, bladder, carnivorous plants, Dionaea, foresight, Genlisea, Granville Sewell, Intelligent Design, Irreducible Complexity, John Innes Centre, Life Sciences, Marcos Eberlin, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, mousetrap, The Evolution of Carnivorous Plants, Utricularia, Venus flytrap, Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig
I won’t pretend to you that this isn’t a stressful time. In search of distraction, today I’ve been thinking about a rather odd water dweller. It’s the carnivorous plant Utricularia, aka aquatic bladderwort. Granville Sewell wrote about it here recently, citing plant geneticist Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig and others, calling it “Michael Behe’s ‘Irreducibly Complex’ Mousetrap in Nature.” Its mechanism is not just complex, but irreducibly so. Like a mousetrap, it requires purpose in its design. Check out these videos: The video from the John Innes Centre in the U.K. concludes, “Plants are seriously smart.” I can’t tell if that’s supposed to be ironic, but the mechanism is indeed ingenious. If your German skills are up for it, you can read Dr. Lönnig’s book on The Evolution of Carnivorous Plants, downloadable here,…
Read More

Where Science and Faith Meet: Westminster Conference, April 3-4, in Philadelphia

betrayal, biology, cosmic fine-tuning, cynicism, Daniel Reeves, design detection, Early Church, faith, Faith & Science, foresight, Intelligent Design, John West, Marcos Eberlin, Melissa Cain Travis, nanomachines, Parents, Philadelphia, reproduction, science, scientific evidence, scientists, Secularism, Stephen Meyer, students, teachers, Vern Poythress, Westminster Conference on Science and Faith, youth track
It’s possible to simplistically sweep aside challenges to a materialist picture of reality. Proponents of atheism do this all the time. And it’s possible to sweep aside challenges, or what seem to be challenges, to a theistic understanding. People do this, too, all the time. Neither is intellectually satisfying. And the latter sets a trap for young people. Parents and educators might feel it’s the safest way to take shelter from claims by scientists and other academics that are thought to engender cynicism and undermine faith. But what happens when young people grow up, are immersed in a university or secular culture, and realize how little they were prepared for or exposed to counterarguments against their family’s religious tradition? The resulting sense of betrayal has been reported many times. Youth…
Read More

Westminster Conference on Science and Faith, April 3-4 in Philadelphia: Design and the Designer

biology, Burke Museum, Center for Science & Culture, Chemistry, cosmology, Dallas, Daniel Reeves, Early Church, East Coast, Evolution, Faith & Science, foresight, Intelligent Design, John West, Marcos Eberlin, Melissa Cain Travis, orphan genes, Paul Nelson, Philadelphia, Stephen Meyer, Westminster Conference on Science and Faith
Here in Seattle, the University of Washington recently opened a spectacular and expensive ($106 million) new building for its natural history museum, the Burke Museum. A friend visited there yesterday — I have not yet had a chance to do so — and sent along photos. We were both struck by how the exhibits lay it on thick with regard to evolution as an unguided process. Large signs seem aggressive in advertising the curators’ position: “EVOLUTION ISN’T PLANNED,” declares one display. Another insists that life is “SHAPED BY NATURE,” and, by implication, by nothing else. The culture invests great energy and wealth to bombard us with messages like these. That’s the case even as, at deeper and deeper levels, science reveals evidence of a plan, foresight, a deliberately shaping force working…
Read More

How Butterflies “Evolve” by Design

beauty, butterflies, caterpillar, cortex (gene), Douglas Blackiston, Drosophila, Elena Casey, Evolution, foresight, Georgetown University, Heliconius, helicopter, hotspot gene, Illustra Media, Intelligent Design, larvae, Lepidopterans, light waves, Martha Weiss, Metamorphosis, Model T, Monarch butterflies, moths, New Scientist, odors, Paul Nelson, photonic crystals, pigmentation, PLOS ONE, Royal Society Biology Letters, South America, tobacco hornworm moths, University of Liverpool, wing patterns
Butterflies, those universally loved flying works of art, offer many reasons to celebrate design in nature.  They showcase aesthetic beauty beyond the requirements of survival (see “Beauty, Darwin and Design,” featuring Paul Nelson).  Their migrations show foresight over multiple generations.  The one-gram Monarch butterflies astonish biologists with their exceptional endurance to survive hardships while flying thousands of miles on paper-thin wings (see “2-Minute Wonder: A Monarch’s Journey“). Their navigation systems exhibit stunning accuracy to arrive at locations they have never seen. Their keen senses can find the right host plants from miles away; they can smell very faint pheromones for mating; and they can distinguish precise angles of sunlight for orientation and timing of migration.  Their wing scales, organized into “photonic crystals,” give precision control of light waves to create…
Read More