Don & Diana – 50 Years of Marriage

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50 Years of Marriage

Mother and father

Three sons

Three daughters in law

Three fathers in law

Three mothers in law

50 Years of Marriage

Biological Information – New Perspectives A Synopsis and Limited Commentary. My Limited Review of This Synopsis and Limited Commentary — (Don’t be intimidated by this title)

There is this little thing called: “The Law of non-contradiction”, and is one of the basic laws in classical logic.  It states that something cannot be both true and not true at the same time when dealing with the same context.  For example, the chair in my living room, right now, cannot be made of wood and not made of wood at the same time. Or an example more appropriate to this little essay of mine:

In an article written for “The Science Teacher” magazine by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), NCSE advises science teachers:

  1. If a controversy is presented as a scientific controversy, it should be a genuine scientific controversy.
    Don’t confuse a scientific topic that’s socially controversial with a scientifically controversial topic. Climate change and evolution, for example, are politically or religiously controversial, provoking headlines and arousing passions. But they are not scientifically controversial (unlike, say, quantum gravity). Indeed, quite the contrary: The vast majority of scientists in the relevant disciplines accept climate change and evolution (on climate change, see Cook et al. 2013; on evolution, see Pew Research Center 2009). Misrepresenting a socially controversial scientific topic as scientifically controversial is committing the deadliest sin in science education: misrepresenting the science.

   ….. There’s more, so read the whole article …

So there you have it … NCSE and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) have declared there is no “scientific controversy” over evolution.  The chair in my living room is made of wood.

But hold on now … wait a controversial doggone minute here what follows below is a discussion of a group who say the chair in my living room is not made of wood. Can they both be right? If one says a thing is true and another says the same thing is not true … at the same time  … is that not controversy?

So who are these that say my chair in not made of wood?

They are a group of 29 scientists (Biographies below) who represent a diverse spectrum of scientific disciplines, including information theory, computer science (my own field for close to 40 years), numerical simulation, thermodynamics, evolutionary theory, whole organism biology, developmental biology, molecular biology, genetics, physics, biophysics, mathematics, and linguistics. These scientists generally agreed on three crucial points:

  1. Information is the key to understanding life. Within the simplest cell there exists an immense flow of information through a mind-boggling system of information networks. There is constant and multidirectional communication between proteins, RNAs, and DNAs, and these biological information networks are in many ways comparable to the internet.
  2. These biological information systems appear to greatly surpass human information technologies. Such information systems cannot possibly operate until all the countless components of the system are in place – including hardware, software, multiple languages, storage/ transmission of communicable prescriptive information units, error testing/ correction systems, designated senders/ receivers, etc. Such systems must be comprehensive and coherently integrated before they can effectively operate. .
  3. The enormous amounts of information found within any cell, and the irreducibly complex nature of information systems, can no longer rationally be attributed to just the mutation/ selection process. New perspectives are needed that might help us better understand the nature, origin, and maintenance of biological information.

These are PhD scientists educated in fully accredited universities, actively working in the scientific fields noted above … they know of what they speak.  This group gathered at Cornell University, an Ivy League university, and presented quite a number of papers detailing their findings in a variety of topics surrounding the nature of life and its characteristics. If you read the synopsis by Dr. J.C. Sanford, or my synopsis of Sanford’s synopsis below you will not find any discussion of advocacy of politics or religion … what you will find is scientific controversy.

Is the chair made of wood or not?

  I’ll cut to the chase here and give you a piece from Dr. Sanford’s conclusions … but I encourage you to read the whole thing for yourself … either Dr. Sanford’s synopsis, or my synopsis of that synopsis, or the complete set of the Proceedings papers.
Here are Sanford’s remarks:

“It is just that it is increasingly clear that the long-reigning neo-Darwinian paradigm is collapsing – and despite many efforts to deny what is obvious – clearly “the emperor has no clothes.” The extremely sophisticated hardware and software systems that enable life simply cannot be built by any trial and error system. In particular – it is very clear that software can never be developed one binary bit at a time. Apart from a fully functional pre-existing hardware/ software system, a single bit has absolutely no meaning. I feel that if we are to preserve our scientific integrity, we must acknowledge that we have a major explanatory problem , and we need to go back to the drawing board in terms of understanding the origin of biological information”.

So this is the nature of the scientific controversy our school kids are not allowed to see and examine … and come to their own conclusions.

If you have objectively followed this, I would ask some questions:

  1. Is there a matter of truth and integrity here on the part of NCSE?
  2. Is NCSE pushing an ideological agenda here rather than the defense of science education?
  3. Is NCSE actively pushing an agenda of atheism into our school system?
  4. Is NCSE involved in the censorship of scientific discovery?
  5. Should the C in NCSE actually be Censorship as in the National Censorship of Science Education?

… and …

Is the chair made of wood or not?

If NCSE is truly concerned about the quality of the teaching of science, I would challenge them to offer up Dr. Sanford’s synopsis … without comment … to it’s audience at the National Science Teachers Association, so as to give them a look at the other side of this scientific controversy.

*  *  * Beginning of Dr.  J.C. Sanford’s Synopsis *  *  *

Note from AYFP: This is only a portion of the Synopsis … those portions such as those Sanford marks as Significance: as well as some of his introductory comments and his  Final Comments.
(Click on the image below)

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The proceedings include the research findings of 29 scientists who represent a diverse spectrum of scientific disciplines, including information theory, computer science, numerical simulation, thermodynamics, evolutionary theory, whole organism biology, developmental biology, molecular biology, genetics, physics, biophysics, mathematics, and linguistics. These scientists generally agreed on three crucial points:

  1. Information is the key to understanding life. Within the simplest cell there exists an immense flow of information through a mind-boggling system of information networks. There is constant and multidirectional communication between proteins, RNAs, and DNAs, and these biological information networks are in many ways comparable to the internet.
  2. These biological information systems appear to greatly surpass human information technologies. Such information systems cannot possibly operate until all the countless components of the system are in place – including hardware, software, multiple languages, storage/ transmission of communicable prescriptive information units, error testing/ correction systems, designated senders/ receivers, etc. Such systems must be comprehensive and coherently integrated before they can effectively operate. .
  3. The enormous amounts of information found within any cell, and the irreducibly complex nature of information systems, can no longer rationally be attributed to just the mutation/ selection process. New perspectives are needed that might help us better understand the nature, origin, and maintenance of biological information.

Theme 1: The Nature of Biological Information

Significance: It is irrational to believe that inanimate matter, without any guiding force, can spontaneously give rise to complex information systems embodying language, meaning, and purpose. It is our universal experience that these things arise only through the operation of intelligence. If information/ language/ meaning/ purpose do not imply intelligence, then what do we mean by the word “intelligence”?

Significance: Language is arguably the strongest single evidence for the presence of intelligence. The existence of many types of very high-level languages imbedded throughout all biological systems strongly points to an underlying intelligence.

Significance: The evidence presented by Macosko and Smelser strongly argues that the genetic code had to have been already established and optimized BEFORE the first living cell could have come into being.

Significance: The amount of biological information that requires explanation is exploding. The term “junk DNA” has been used for decades as a dismissive term, meant to trivialize biological information, but it is now clear that our DNA, including the non-protein-coding parts of it, is an incredibly sophisticated information network.

Significance: The existence of whole new types of biological information (which transcend classic DNA-based genetic systems) greatly amplifies the explanatory deficiencies of neo-Darwinian theory. In addition to the membrane code, we have the splicing code, the methylation code, the histone code, the epigenetic code, etc. Neo-Darwinian theory cannot explain these newly understood information systems. How did they arise? How are they coordinated?

Significance: The existence of multiple new categories of biological information, including this possible new vibrational communication system between molecules at a distance, is extremely exciting. Such systems could never be explained by mutation/ selection, because like epigenetic systems and the membrane code, they must transcend DNA-based genetics.

Significance: Overlapping codes represent a type of data compression that computer scientists can only dream of. How could overlapping codes have ever arisen? Once in place, how could they ever be improved? Unambiguously beneficial mutations which are actually subject to selection must be vanishingly rare. How then do complex biological specifications arise?

Significance: Nobody thinks that computer networks (including the associated hardware, software, language, and specified meaning), could ever arise spontaneously. So is it reasonable to think that vastly superior biological information systems, occurring just above the atomic level, could arise by any type of Darwinian trial/ error process?

Significance: Tandem repeats within genomes have historically been used as evidence for “junk DNA” and are cited as proof that the genome came together via a haphazard process. But nearly identical tandem repeats are also found throughout executable computer code. The tandem repeats in computer code are certainly not junk – they contain essential information. The tandem repeats in executable computer code never arise haphazardly; they only arise by design. The amazing architectural similarities between executable code and higher genomes clearly indicate that biologists have much to learn from computer scientists, and computer scientists much to learn from biologists.

Theme 2: Difficulties in Creating Biological Information

Significance: Tierra was not a realistic model of biological evolution, yet it still failed. It teaches us nothing in terms of how real-world biological information networks might be established or expanded. Instead, it only shows us: a) adaptive fine-tuning (small superficial changes in a pre-existing information system); and b) adaptive degeneration (minor adaptations based upon loss of information). It shows a few inherently superficial and limited adaptations – followed by terminal stasis. This is consistent with the study by Basener.

Significance: Even with massive amounts of front-loaded design, Avida cannot honestly be used to support neo-Darwinian theory. Instead, Avida helps to reveal numerous and profound limitations inherent in the mutation/ selection process. Given biologically realistic settings, Avida fails to create a single binary bit of new information. The more we make our genetic simulations biologically realistic, the more clearly the mutation/ selection process fails. As will be seen, the most biologically realistic simulation to date (Mendel’s Accountant) very clearly reveals the profound limitations of the mutation/ selection process.

Significance: The work of Dr. Dembski et al. indicates that un-directed natural forces could never reasonably be expected to give rise to spontaneous search engines, which could never give rise to spontaneous information, which could never give rise to spontaneous life.

Significance: Strawberries, cows, bacteria, and finches all change in limited and superficial ways (by fine-tuning of existing information), but such minor changes occur only so that a given life form can persist and fundamentally stay the same. Adaptive fine-tuning does not explain the origin of all the underlying information networks which give life to these creatures. Instead, genetic fine-tuning leads only to stasis.

Significance: It is now well established that there are extensive overlapping codes within higher genomes, representing an extremely advanced form of data compression. Deployment of overlapping codes transcends anything computer scientists would even dream of. Overlapping codes represent a quantum leap in our understanding of the sophistication of biological information systems . The Darwinian trial and error mechanism cannot create or improve this type of information technology.

Significance: It has long been thought that since beneficial mutations happen, and since natural selection happens, continuously increasing biological information should be inevitable. This paper shows that this oft-voiced historical perspective was naïve. Not only are there too few beneficial mutations for genome-building, but most of the information in higher genomes is encoded by nucleotides which individually are too subtle to be have been selectively established. The few truly beneficial mutations that arise and have sufficient impact to be selectively amplified only arise independently and in isolation. This profoundly limits their potential impact. They can only accomplish fine-tuning of pre-existing biological information. Realistically, genomes cannot be built one beneficial mutation at a time.

Significance: The authors make it very clear that metabolic pathways cannot be created one mutation at a time. Their last point might be expressed most broadly in the form of a new adage: “To make any one of the essential components of life, one must already have that component present – plus all the other essential components of life”. I believe this is the fullest expression of the concept of biological irreducible complexity.

Significance:

Most of the papers presented in this book have been research papers which presented detailed scientific analyses of specific scientific issues. Symposium authors were asked to stick to their scientific analysis and at most, to only touch on philosophical issues in passing. However the authors of these last two supplemental papers were given greater license, and so provided essays that are primarily philosophical in character. These papers were welcome additions to this book. They broaden the range of presented “new perspectives”. These two authors oppose the concept of “intelligent design”, but I take the liberty to point out that they also oppose the strictly materialist explanation. Dr. Kauffman suggests that information systems arise via what he calls “natural magic ”. For me personally, this seems to presuppose a type of magic that requires some kind of intelligent magician . Similarly, Dr. Weber suggests that the natural world has built into it the natural ability (and apparently the inclination) to spontaneously organize itself into highly ordered information systems (such as living cells). If this is indeed true, such a remarkable built-in ability and inclination requires a cogent explanation. In my mind it strongly points to an intelligent cause.

Theme 3: Difficulties in Preventing Erosion of Biological Information

Significance: This paper shows that even when adaptive mutations do happen , they will almost always be manifested as a loss of functional information. This is because, given a pressing environmental challenge, selection will favor whatever solution to the problem arises first. Since there are many ways to break a gene, but very few ways to make a gene better, the first solution to arise will almost always involve a loss of functional information. Dr. Behe’s theoretical analysis is in perfect agreement with his previous analyses showing empirically that real-world adaptive mutations consistently involve loss of information. This paper, stands alongside the paper by Dr. Montañez et al. ( Multiple Overlapping Genetic Codes Paper ) both papers show that beneficial mutations are almost always only beneficial in a narrow or superficial sense, but in the bigger picture are consistently degenerative in nature, in terms of information content.

Significance: This fundamental theoretical problem of deleterious mutation accumulation is not new, but it has been consistently clouded by confusion . This paper uses a new method of analysis (comprehensive numerical simulation ), which finally brings clarity to the issue. It is now abundantly clear that the deleterious mutation accumulation problem is very real, and in fact is much more serious than has previously been thought.

Significance: The theoretical problem of accumulating deleterious mutations has often been dismissed by invoking mechanisms wherein selection eliminates the individuals with the most numerous mutations. This paper effectively falsifies this hypothetical mutation-count mechanism, leaving the problem of deleterious mutation accumulation un-resolved, and leaving the neo-Darwinian mechanism without a credible defense.

Significance: Synergistic epistasis is a rare deviation from normal genic interactions , and it would never even be discussed, except that it has been invoked as a solution to the mutation accumulation problem. The mechanism has been largely used as an abstraction – as a way to dismiss the mutation accumulation problem. Synergistic epistasis, as it would apply on a genomic level, has never been rigorously examined. Dr. Baumgardner et al. for the first time rigorously examine the hypothesis that synergistic epistatic interactions might solve the mutation accumulation problem on the genomic level. The authors effectively falsify the hypothesis, leaving the problem of deleterious mutation accumulation un-resolved, and again leaving neo-Darwinian theory without an effective defense.

Significance: Avida is a life-simulation computer program which many have claimed proves that the Darwinian mechanism is effective at creating a net gain in information. It appears to do this by eliminating all deleterious mutations and simultaneously amplifying all beneficial mutations. But when Avida is run using biologically realistic parameters, what is seen is just the opposite. There is a consistent net loss of information (to the point where all information which is subject to mutation is lost), because low-impact deleterious mutations consistently escape purifying selection. Beneficial mutations fail to accumulate. To the extent that Avida reflects the Darwinian process, it very effectively falsifies neo-Darwinian theory.

Significance: It has often been said that viruses in general, and specifically influenza , are proof that the mutation/ selection process creates new information. This study shows just the opposite. Viral strains can certainly undergo fine-tuning in terms of adaption to their host or adaption to antiviral pharmaceuticals. However, RNA viruses such as influenza are inherently subject to spontaneous degeneration due to deleterious mutation accumulation. This can lead to genetic degeneration as reflected by attenuation of its effects, pandemic termination, and strain extinction.

Significance: In terms of direct observation, it is our universal experience that the only meaningful counterforce to entropic degeneration is an intelligent will. This is the underlying factor which allows people, human society, and life itself – to resist entropic decay. Picture a young lady’s bedroom, which has been undergoing increasing entropy (it is a mess). When it is a closed system (with nothing entering or leaving), the room will never organize or clean itself. But what if it is an open system (so things can enter or leave)? For example, what if we import energy? Will turning up the thermostat reduce the room’s disorder? Will letting sunlight in through the window reduce the disorder? Will opening the widow let disorder escape? What might come in through the window that might reverse the entropy? Letting birds and insects in will not organize the room. Dr. Sewell points out that whatever is impossible within a closed system (i.e., a room that might self-organize), is on a practical level still impossible in an open system. The only thing that can come into the room and reverse the disorder would be an intelligent agent (i.e., the young lady), or an agent of intelligence (a housekeeping robot). Only an intelligent will can reverse the growing entropy in the room.

Significance: It is sometimes incorrectly stated that life violates the second law. This is not correct and creates confusion, because living systems are not isolated. There is always an external energy source. But this is not where the Darwinian mechanism fails. The fallacy is in the assertion that energy on its own can build the necessary machinery of life. This does not occur and cannot occur thermodynamically. Science repeatedly shows this not to be the case. However, because life involves many layers of intricate coded and nested software programs, life does something very extraordinary – it actively resists going to its lowest energy state. Life has the unique ability to “hover”, in a sustained manner, far above the energy state of an otherwise dead or decaying organism. This happens specifically because it has coded information instructions which actively capture and channel the energy available, for necessary synthesis, repair and maintenance of all systems. In this way life can remain in a suspended state of extreme disequilibrium.

This can be visualized nicely by considering a hovering hummingbird. It does not go to its lowest available energy state (on the ground – dead and decaying), but instead maintains itself in an exceedingly improbable state of disequilibrium. This is possible, in part, because within the nectar which the bird drinks there is more than enough metabolic energy for that needed for the bird to hover. But that is not the interesting part. High-quality raw energy by itself is NOT what really makes the hummingbird hover. It is necessary but not sufficient . It is only the bird’s very high quality biological information that channels the available energy in precisely the right way which enables and maintains the bird’s perfect levitation . The required information is resident in the bird’s brain, nervous system, muscles, feathers, hollow bones, cells, proteins, ATP synthase, RNAs, and DNAs. This information is not just a series of zeros and ones floating around somewhere within the bird. The information is active and “alive” within a labyrinth of information networks. These networks require a vast matrix of senders and receivers, as well as many languages, and massive global integration. Every component of every cell, within every tissue, within every organ of the bird, requires continuous information flow. The biological information which levitates the hummingbird is the collective effect of the operation and interaction of countless executable programs.

Based upon everything we know about information systems, this biological labyrinth of information systems, which is required for the life to be alive, clearly seems to be the outworking of a fundamental underlying intelligence. It should be obvious to any biologist that this amazing information labyrinth is what enables the hummingbird to hover and be alive. The only rational basis for the existence of such an information network is some type of underlying intelligence. The reason why so many biologists vehemently deny this obvious conclusion is their unwavering philosophical commitment to strict materialism.

The flowering plant, from which the hummingbird obtains its energy, has its own enabling labyrinth of information which allows it to photosynthesize and grow. The plant has no brain , yet its enabling information labyrinth also appears to be the outworking of a fundamental underlying intelligence. Reasonably, it is this underlying intelligence that enables the information labyrinth, which enables the plant to capture low-quality radiant energy from the sun, and convert it into higher quality chemical energy (that the machinery in the hummingbird can use to do work), which enables the hummingbird to hover. The sun provides the energy, but biological information is the basis for capturing the energy, improving its form and quality, and directing it to create, maintain, and operate the machinery needed for life. It is information that enables life to intelligently control and make use of the downward flow of energy (thermodynamics).

In conclusion, one of the main revelations that has come out of this symposium is that biological information is the key to understanding life – more specifically it explains how life can actively sustain itself in a state of extreme thermodynamic disequilibrium . This revelation immediately raises the question –“ Where does that enabling biological information come from?” The answer is not clearly shown, but it is becoming clear that it cannot come from the simplistic mutation/ selection process, and appears to require the operation of some type of intelligence. Since information is the key to life, and since biological information is clearly subject to entropic degeneration, a second question immediately arises – “How might biological information be sustained through deep time?” Again, the answer is not clearly shown, but it is shown that purifying selection is not adequate, and that halting the entropic loss of biological information would appear to require the operation of some type of intelligence.

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Figures above: The hovering hummingbird, along with the flowering plant that nourishes it, epitomize life’s amazing ability to persist in sustained thermodynamic disequilibrium (top image). Many factors are involved, but the primary “vital force” which enables hummingbirds and plants to “hover” far above thermodynamic equilibrium, is active biological information flowing continuously through elaborate information channels (bottom image).

Final Comments from the Author

When I first conceived of the Cornell symposium in 2010, I could not have imagined that it would attract so many gifted scientists from so many diverse disciplines . It was my privilege to work with Drs. Marks, Behe, Dembski, and Gordon in enlisting the speakers, getting the papers reviewed, and editing the proceedings. I believe everyone who contributed to the symposium went away with a greatly enhanced appreciation of what biological information really is (certainly I did). When you start to see it, the depth and sophistication of biological information is simply breathtaking.

Many scientists who are committed to the standard neo-Darwinian model of life may find these proceedings disturbing – which is unfortunate. I do not think any of the contributing authors to the proceedings had any intention to offend anyone. It is just that it is increasingly clear that the long-reigning neo-Darwinian paradigm is collapsing – and despite many efforts to deny what is obvious – clearly “the emperor has no clothes.” The extremely sophisticated hardware and software systems that enable life simply cannot be built by any trial and error system. In particular – it is very clear that software can never be developed one binary bit at a time. Apart from a fully functional pre-existing hardware/ software system, a single bit has absolutely no meaning. I feel that if we are to preserve our scientific integrity, we must acknowledge that we have a major explanatory problem , and we need to go back to the drawing board in terms of understanding the origin of biological information.

The entropic degeneration of information is something we all understand – it is a general problem we all have to deal with every day. It is clear that this is also an enormous problem within the biological realm. We all have a limited life expectancy – primarily due to mutation accumulation on the personal level . The problem of mutation accumulation is clearly also a serious problem on the level of the species. Selection does not generally appear to be capable of halting deleterious mutation accumulation, and most genetic adaptations appear to involve loss of information. The problem of entropic degeneration of biological information should not be swept under the rug. While it seems paradoxical within the ruling paradigm, it is extremely important and clearly deserves to be studied in much more depth.

Biographies – Editors
Robert J. Marks II
Distinguished Professor, Baylor University, USA
Robert J. Marks II is currently the Distinguished Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Baylor University. He is the author, coauthor, Editor, or Coeditor of eight books published by MIT Press, IEEE, and Springer-Verlag. His most recent text is Handbook of Fourier Analysis and Its Applications (Oxford University Press , 2009). His research has been funded by organizations such as the National Science Foundation, General Electric, Southern California Edison, Electric Power Research Institute, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Office of Naval Research, the Whitaker Foundation, Boeing Defense, the National Institutes of Health, The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Army Research Office, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Dr. Marks is Fellow of the IEEE and the Optical Society of America. He is a former Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON NEURAL NETWORKS. He was the recipient of numerous professional awards, including a NASA Tech Brief Award and a Best Paper Award from the American Brachytherapy Society for prostate-cancer research. He was the recipient of the Banned Item of the

Michael J. Behe
Department of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA 18015.

Michael J. Behe graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. He did his graduate studies in biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and was awarded a Ph.D. for his dissertation research on sickle-cell disease. From 1978-1982 he did postdoctoral work on DNA structure at the National Institutes of Health. From 1982-85 he was Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Queens College in New York City, where he met his wife. In 1985 he moved to Lehigh University where he is currently Professor of Biochemistry. In his career he has authored over 40 technical papers and two books (Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution , and The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism). These books argue that living systems at the molecular level are best explained as being the result of deliberate intelligent design. The books have been reviewed by the New York Times, Nature, Philosophy of Science, Christianity Today, and many other periodicals . He and his wife reside near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with their nine children.

William A. Dembski
Discovery Institute, 208 Columbia Street, Seattle, WA 98104.
William A. Dembski received a B.A. degree in psychology, a M.S. degree in statistics, a Ph.D. degree in philosophy, and a Ph.D. degree in mathematics in 1988 from the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, and the M.Div. degree from Princeton Theological Seminary , Princeton, NJ, in 1996. He was an Associate Research Professor with the Conceptual Foundations of Science, Baylor University, Waco, TX. He is currently also Senior Fellow with the Center for Science and Culture, Discovery Institute, Seattle, WA. He has held National Science Foundation graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. He has published articles in mathematics, philosophy, and theology journals and is the author/ editor of more than a dozen books.

Bruce L. Gordon
Associate Professor, Houston Baptist University, USA.
Bruce L. Gordon is associate professor of the history and philosophy of science at Houston Baptist University. He formerly taught science and mathematics at The King’s College in New York City, and philosophy at Baylor University, the University of Notre Dame, and Northwestern University. A senior fellow of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle, he also served as its research director for a number of years. He holds an A.R.C.T. in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, a B.Sc. in applied mathematics and an M.A. in analytic philosophy from the University of Calgary, an M.A.R. in apologetics and systematic theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of modern physics from Northwestern University in Chicago . The author of a variety of academic articles and the contributing co -editor of two books, he lives in Houston, Texas, with his wife, Mari-Anne.

John C. Sanford
Department of Horticulture, NYSAES, Cornell University , Geneva, NY 14456.
John Sanford has a Ph.D . in Plant Breeding/ Genetics from the University of Wisconsin. He has been a Cornell professor for over 30 years, conducting research in the areas of plant breeding, plant genetic engineering, and theoretical genetics . John conducted plant genetic research that resulted in many new crop varieties, more than 100 scientific publications , and several dozen patents. John was the primary inventor of the biolistic “gene gun” process, which was used to produce a large fraction of the transgenic crops grown in the world today. John was team leader in the development of the program Mendel’s Accountant, the world’s first biologically realistic forward time genetic accounting program. John is the author of the book Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome. John is now semi-retired from Cornell, and continues to hold the position of Courtesy Associate Professor.

Biographies – Authors

Douglas D. Axe
Director of Biologic Institute, Seattle, WA. Douglas D. Axe is the director of the Biologic Institute. His research uses both experiments and computer simulations to examine the functional and structural constraints on the evolution of proteins and protein systems. After a Caltech Ph.D. he held postdoctoral and research scientist positions at the University of Cambridge, the Cambridge Medical Research Council Centre, and the Babraham Institute in Cambridge. His work has been reviewed in Nature and featured in a number of books, magazines and newspaper articles, including Life’s Solution by Simon

Conway Morris, The Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe, and Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer.

William F. Basener
School of Mathematics, Rochester Institute of Technology. Dr. Basener is an associate professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Chief Imaging Scientist for Spectral Solutions. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Marist College and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Boston University in 2000. He has published research in dynamical systems, chaos, topology, population modeling, economics and remote sensing and is the author of an NSF-funded textbook, Topology and Its Applications. He has also worked on projects funded by the Dept. of Defense, various corporations, and has worked as a con-tractor for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

John R. Baumgardner
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ludwig Maximilians University, Theresienstrasse 41, 80333 Munich, Germany.
Dr. Baumgardner has a B.S. in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University, a M.S. in electrical engineering from Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in geophysics and space physics from UCLA. From 1984 to 2004 he served as a staff scientist in the Theoretical Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory engaged in a variety of research projects in computational physics. Beginning in 2004 he has been part of the team which developed Mendel’s Accountant, a computer model for investigating research topics in population genetics . He is currently an adjunct staff scientist in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany.

Michael J. Behe
Department of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA 18015.
Michael J. Behe graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. He did his graduate studies in biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and was awarded a Ph.D. for his dissertation research on sickle-cell disease. From 1978-1982 he did postdoctoral work on DNA structure at the National Institutes of Health. From 1982-85 he was Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Queens College in New York City, where he met his wife. In 1985 he moved to Lehigh University where he is currently Professor of Biochemistry. In his career he has authored over 40 technical papers and two books (Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, and The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism). These books argue that living systems at the molecular level are best explained as being the result of deliberate intelligent design. The books have been reviewed by the New York Times, Nature, Philosophy of Science, Christianity Today, and many other periodicals. He and his wife reside near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with their nine children.

Wesley H. Brewer
Fluid Physics International
Wesley Brewer is the sole proprietor of Fluid Physics International, a small consultancy specializing in developing numerical simulation software for modeling complex scientific phenomena. His primary research area is in computational hydrodynamics, but has also been working in computational genetics and numerical weather simulations. Since 2005, he has been part of the Mendel’s Accountant development team. Dr . Brewer holds a B.S. in engineering science and mechanics from the University of Tennessee, an M.S. in ocean engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in computational engineering from Mississippi State University. Since 2007, Dr. Brewer spends much of his time teaching computer science in Korea.

L. Dent
Visiting Professor of Biology, Pepperdine University Malibu, CA 90263.
Laurieanne Dent is a Visiting Professor of Biology at Pepperdine University where she teaches courses in physiology and zoology. In 2008, she completed doctoral studies at Cornell University in Neurobiology and Behavior with a minor in Genetics and Development. Her dissertation research was focused on brainstem neural circuits which process sub-millisecond communication stimuli from electric organ discharges of weakly-electric African mormyrid fish. As an undergraduate at Texas Christian University, she earned a B.S. in Biology and Secondary Teacher Certification in Composite Science, as well, in 1991. After teaching a diversity of science subjects and levels for several years as a secondary educator, she studied for a M.S. in Biology in physiological ecology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

Sanford, Dr. John (2014-02-05). Biological Information – New Perspectives A Synopsis and Limited Commentary (Kindle Locations 898-905). FMS Publications. Kindle Edition.

Winston Ewert
Electrical & Computer Engineering, One Bear Place #97356, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798-7356. Winston Ewert received a B.Sc. in Computer Science from Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., and a Ph.D. at Baylor University where he was a member of Evolutionary Informatics Lab. Together with Dr. Robert J. Marks II, Dr. William Dembski, and George Montañez , he is an author on a number of papers investigating the informational content of evolution-inspired search algorithms. He now works as a Software Engineer.

Paul Gibson
Adjunct Associate Professor, Dept. of Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems, Southern Illinois University.
Professor, Plant Genetics and Statistics, Cooperative Studies, Inc., Overland Park, KS. Paul Gibson has had a career-long interest in theoretical quantitative genetics and its application to plant breeding for the improvement of food crops in hungry areas of the world. His Ph.D is in Plant Breeding and Cytogenetics from Iowa State University in 1981, with his dissertation research conducted at the International Crops Research Institute (ICRISAT) in India. After working as a maize breeder in Zambia, he conducted quantitative genetic and molecular research and taught at Southern Illinois University. Paul now serves as the primary instructor and mentor in a regional MSc and Ph.D program in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology at Makerere Univ. in Kampala, Uganda . He contributed to the development of Mendel’s Accountant as a biologically-realistic computing tool for understanding the dynamics of mutation, selection, and random drift in natural populations.

Werner Gitt
German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology. Former Director and Head of Information Technology.
Dr. Gitt obtained an undergraduate degree in engineering from the Technical University of Hannover in 1968 and completed his Ph.D. summa cum laude in 1970 from the Technical University of Aachen which also awarded him its prestigious “Borchers Medal.” In 1971 Werner Gitt started his career at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology in Brunswick, being promoted to Director and Professor in 1978. He served as Head of “Information Technology ” from 1971 to 2002, when he retired. He is the author of numerous research papers dealing with information science , numerical mathematics, and control engineering.

Donald E. Johnson
Ph.D. in Chemistry from Michigan State University as well as Computer & Information Sciences from the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Don Johnson (see video clips from a presentation) has earned Ph.D.s in both Computer & Information Sciences from the University of Minnesota and in Chemistry from Michigan State University. He was a senior research scientist for 10 years in pharmaceutical and medical/ scientific instrument fields, served as president and technical expert in an independent computer consulting firm for many years, and taught 20 years in universities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, and Europe. He has made ID-Friendly and Intelligent Design Presentations on most continents, including in Russia, China, Australia, New Zealand, England, and Germany. He now owns and operates Science Integrity with Website http://www.scienceintegrity.org, which has more details on the books (including excerpts, reviews, and endorsements), as well as interviews, speaking tours, on-line videos, and other information.

Stuart A. Kauffman
Professor of Biochemistry and Mathematics at the University of Vermont and Professor of Computational Systems Biology at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland.
Stuart A. Kauffman is currently Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Mathematics at the University of Vermont and Distinguished Professor of Computational Systems Biology at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland. He has also held professorships at the University of Chicago , the University of Pennsylvania, the Santa Fe Institute, the University of New Mexico, the Krasnow Institute at George Mason University, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Calgary, and Harvard Divinity School. A pioneer in the field of complexity theory, he is a biologist, trained as a medical doctor, who studies the origins of life and the origins of molecular organization. Kauffman is the holder of a dozen biotechnology patents and the founder or board member of a number of biotechnology corporations. In 2008 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. The author of over 180 scientific articles, he is the co-author of one book and the author of four others.

Jed C. Macosko School of Mathematics, Wake Forest University.
Jed C. Macosko is an associate professor of biophysics at Wake Forest University. He graduated from MIT with the Merck award for outstanding scholarship and earned a Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley in 1999 for his work on the molecular machinery of influenza, HIV and nerve cells. From 2000 to 2002 his research on molecular machines continued as an NIH postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Carlos J. Bustamante and then in 2003 and 2004 as an adjunct assistant professor working with David J. Keller at the University of New Mexico. Since 2004 the Macosko lab at Wake Forest has used in vivo and in vitro microscopy to study how molecular machines move cargo from one part of a cell to another. His team has developed a novel drug discovery platform based on combinatorial libraries of nucleic acid encoded chemicals . His studies on molecular machines and nucleic acids have resulted in over 25 technical papers, book chapters and submitted patents, which have been cited nearly 1000 times and have provided further evidence for design in nature. He and his wife live in Winston-Salem with their five children.

Andy C. McIntosh
Prof. University of Leeds, DSc, FIMA, C.Math, FInstE , CEng, FInstP, MIGEM, FRAeS
Andy McIntosh holds a research chair in Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory, and has lectured and researched in these fields for over 30 years. He has a Ph.D. in combustion theory from the aerodynamics department of what was then Cranfield Institute of Technology (now Cranfield University), a DSc in Applied Mathematics from the University of Wales and worked for a number of years at the Royal Aircraft Establishment. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, the Institute of Energy, the Institute of Physics and the Royal Aeronautical Society. A chartered mathematician and engineer , and author of over 180 papers and articles , his research has been in combustion in fluids and solids. His work has also included investigations into the fundamental link between thermodynamics and information, and in the last few years he has been involved in research in the area of biomimetics where the minute combustion chamber of the bombardier beetle has inspired a patented novel spray technology with applications to fuel injectors , pharmaceutical sprays, fire extinguishers and aerosols. This research was awarded the 2010 Times Higher Educational award for the Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology.

George D. Montañez
BS Computer Science, University of California –Riverside (2004), MS Computer Science, Baylor University (2011).
George D. Montañez is a graduate student in the Machine Learning department, School of Computer Science, at Carnegie Mellon University. His research interests include predictive state model reconstruction, information properties of genetic algorithms, conservation of information in machine learning, and machine learning methods for textual data mining. He served as a research assistant to Dr. Robert J. Marks II at Baylor University.

Chase W. Nelson
Research Scientist
Chase W. Nelson is a biologist and musician currently pursuing a Ph.D. in bioinformatics and molecular evolution. He graduated from Oberlin College in 2010, where he performed honors research on mutation accumulation in Arabidopsis. While at Oberlin, he became an NSF STEM Scholar in Computation and Modeling, and also took part in several research experiences, including an NIH IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence Fellowship at the University of Wyoming. He subsequently worked under Dr. John C. Sanford at Rainbow Technologies, Inc., where he examined the power of natural selection in digital organisms. His current studies under Dr. Austin L. Hughes focus on developing computational methods to detect natural selection at the nucleotide level. His design of novel tools for next-generation sequence analysis and geographic information systems earned him an NSF GRFP Award in 2013. During the summer of 2013, he also undertook an NSF EAPSI Fellowship to study rice genetics under Dr . Wen-Hsiung Li at Academia Sinica Taipei, Taiwan.

John W. Oller, Jr.
Hawthorne Regents Professor IV, Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
John W. Oller, Jr., Ph.D. founded the Department of Linguistics at the University of New Mexico in 1972 and the Applied Language and Speech Sciences Ph.D Program at UL Lafayette in 2001. Oller’s research has concentrated on the theory and experimental measurement of linguistic processes in education, high stakes testing, the diagnosis of disorders, the success of social interactions , and more recently on genetic systems, biochemistry, repair and disease defenses, etc. Winner of the Mildenberger Prize offered by the Modern Language Association, Oller is the author of over 200 peer -reviewed papers and monographs along with 16 books largely in experimental measurement and research on theories of linguistics and sign systems in general. His 2010 works include a book on the causes of autism, an encyclopedic reclassification of communication disorders and related disease conditions, and a monograph-sized contribution to the peer-reviewed multidisciplinary open source journal Entropy. The latter deals with the process of pragmatic mapping (as in referring to an object, person, event, relation, or sequence of them) and as found in genetics, the dynamics of immune systems, and the distinct neuroarchitecture of the human brain.

John C. Sanford
Department of Horticulture, NYSAES, Cornell University , Geneva, NY 14456. John Sanford has a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding/ Genetics from the University of Wisconsin. He has been a Cornell professor for over 30 years, conducting research in the areas of plant breeding, plant genetic engineering, and theoretical genetics. John conducted plant genetic research that resulted in many new crop varieties, more than 100 scientific publications, and several dozen patents. John was the primary inventor of the biolistic “gene gun” process, which was used to produce a large fraction of the transgenic crops grown in the world today. John was team leader in the development of the program Mendel’s Accountant, the world’s first biologically realistic forward time genetic accounting program. John is the author of the book Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome. John is now semi-retired from Cornell, and continues to hold the position of Courtesy Associate Professor.

Josiah Seaman
Ph.D. student in Computational Biology at Colorado University, Denver, CO. Josiah Seaman is a student of Bioinformatics. He has a bachelor’s in Computer Science. He is currently working as a Ph.D. student in Computational Biology at CU Denver. His specialties are data visualization and sequence analysis. He is the creator of Skittle Genome Visualizer ( dnaskittle.com ) which is being used to better understand chromosome structure and organization. The downloadable version is freely available at http:// sourceforge.net/ projects/ skittle/

Granville Sewell
Mathematics Department, University of Texas, El Paso. Granville Sewell is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He completed his Ph.D in Mathematics at Purdue University, and has subsequently been employed by (in chronological order) Universidad Simon Bolivar (Caracas), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Purdue University, IMSL Inc. (Houston), UTEP, The University of Texas Center for High Performance Computing (Austin), and Texas A& M University , and is currently back at UTEP. He spent one semester (Fall 1999) teaching at Universidad Nacional de Tucuman in Argentina, on a Fulbright grant, and returned to Universidad Simon Bolivar to teach summer courses in 2005 and 2008. Sewell has written three books on numerical analysis, and is the author of a widely-used finite element computer program (video at http://www.roguewave.com/ pde2d ).

Bruce H. Weber
Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry, California State University at Fullerton, and Robert H. Woodworth Chair in Science and Natural Philosophy Emeritus at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont. Bruce H. Weber is Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry , California State University at Fullerton, and Robert H. Woodworth Chair in Science and Natural Philosophy Emeritus at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont. He is the author of numerous scientific articles and the co-author or co-editor of several books, including Evolution and Learning (MIT Press 2003), Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Genealogy of Natural Selection (MIT Press 1996), Evolution at a Crossroads: The New Biology and the New Philosophy of Science (MIT Press 1989 ), and Entropy, Information , and Evolution: New Perspectives on Physical and Biological Evolution (MIT Press 1988). His research interests are in macromolecular evolution with special emphasis on the application of non-equilibrium thermodynamics to the problems of the emergence of life, and the history of biochemistry, especially the conceptual development of bioenergetics.

Jonathan Wells
Discovery Institute, Seattle, WA 98104. Jonathan Wells holds an A.B. in Physical Sciences from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1985 he received a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University, with a dissertation on Charles Hodge and the nineteenth-century Darwinian controversies. In 1994 he received a second Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, with a dissertation on frog embryology. From 1995 to 1998 he worked as a hospital laboratory supervisor and did postdoctoral research at Berkeley. He then moved with his family to Seattle, where he is now a Senior Research Fellow at the Discovery Institute. He has authored scientific articles in BioSystems, The Scientist, The American Biology Teacher and Rivista di Biologia / Biology Review, and he has co-authored articles in Development and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. He is also the author of several books, including Charles Hodge’s Critique of Darwinism, Icons of Evolution and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, and he is the co-author (with William Dembski) of The Design of Life. His most recent book, The Myth of Junk DNA, was published in 2011.

*  *  * End of Dr.  J.C. Sanford’s Synopsis *  *  *

Don Johnson – April 2014

America! Where are we going? A Guest Commentary

This commentary is from a long time friend. We’ve known Dean since the early 1990s when we moved to Ridgecrest, CA -  a small town in the high Mohave Desert of California. 

America! Where are we going?

The majority of us who sit and ponder what is happening to our America, the one that we have enjoyed and loved over the past 70+ years of our lifetime, if we stop and really look back at what has been happening, won’t wonder any more. We have been duped over the years by a few power greedy individuals who want to have complete control over the general populace. To a large degree they have succeeded by numbing our senses and moving what the public will accept a little bit at a time until more and more things unacceptable in the past become the “norm” for the majority (i.e. abortion, homosexuality, violence and sexual explicitness in the theaters and on TV to name a few). Glenn Beck calls this the Overton Window.

This shifting of the norm and the willingness to accept and expect government handout as a way of life in lieu of a work ethic to become successful has played into the hands of the “Big Government is the answer” people; the Democratic Party; the party that will go to any means to maintain power and destroy the America that our founding fathers envisioned and established the structure for. As Ronald Reagan stated, government is not the solution, government is the problem.

Well, the tearing down of our form of government has been coming on for some time but not to the extent that has happened in the past 5 years under the current administration. They have really “turned up the fire” while we have slept. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise. After all the majority of Americans who are “on the take” from the government along with the non-thinking persons who don’t care what happens to America elected a man based on the color of his skin and his promise of Hope and Change. It didn’t matter what his “change” was; he failed to tell us before the election. It didn’t matter that he had never had a significant job; had never run anything other that as a Community Organizer; had no financial experience; no experience with foreign policy/affaire/relations. To top it all off he and his wife showed open contempt for America. This should be no surprise either. He was raised outside our country, went to Muslim schools, befriended and was mentored by Radicals, a Pastor who hates America, Communists and Chicago hoods. He doesn’t know the truth from a lie and will do anything to achieve his goal of changing America.

You remember when he declared before taking office for the first time; “We are 5 days away from fundamentally transforming America. The key word here is fundamentally. We let that slide at the time and didn’t ask what he meant by that. He meant what he said and surrounded himself with like minded radicals to advise and help him carry out his plan for changing America into a socialist/communist nation. To help him along this path he has the mainstream media on his side. They didn’t VET him before the election and they continue to give him a pass on everything that he does. Included in this pass is the fact that he is trying to rewrite the Constitution by his actions (I don’t need Congress, I have a phone and a pen).

The scandals and “cover-ups” that have plagued the administration have been largely ignored by the Press. There should have been numerous firings and an several resignations. President Obama’s henchmen and women that he has surrounded himself with have the same mindset re our country that he has and no matter what directions they take, mistakes they make or how incompetent they are, they will never be fired or step down no regardless of any pressure that congress puts on them. They are very supportive of his agenda and he will not let them resign or fire them as long as they remain supportive of his “change America agenda”. He has been fortunate to have the Senate on his side, no thanks to Harry Reid or there might have been more accountability.

He is seen as the weak President he is by all the major World Leaders, and those that want to take advantage of that fact can do anything they want without threat of any repercussions from the USA. We were starting to be seen as a paper tiger prior to Obama. Now the tiger part has been removed. To strengthen that premise he is in the process of decimating our military strength. In addition he has continually, openly embraced the Muslims, which includes the radicals who are trying to eliminate us and are open about that goal. As I see it, if he is not a Muslim, he is a strong sympathizer to their cause.

The President has had no impact on the direction in Syria, no impact on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and he has turned his back on our only ally in the mid-east; Israel. Now he is dealing with Putin, who has absolutely no respect for Obama. Therefore Putin can do whatever he wants without any worry about repercussions from the USA.

I recently received a list of actions that Obama could do to bring the Russian economy to it’s knees:

  1. Ban the use of coal,
  2. Mandate that Russia goes on Obamacare,
  3. Allow no drilling on Russian public land,
  4. Let the EPA control Russian business,
  5. Re-define the full time Russian work week to 30 hrs,
  6. Raise the Russian minimum wage,
  7. Demand the Russian Government pay free Welfare benefits to un-qualified Citizens and Illegal immigrants.
  8. Spend more money than you take in and help bankrupt the nation
  9. Encourage congress to pass major legislation without first reading it

This should work with the Russian economy. It has brought our country to the brink of disaster.

Is there any hope for our country? Can the damage that has been done be reversed? Some can and some can’t. Whatever actions that can be taken to turn our country around must start at the polls in the next two elections. The conservatives must get out and vote. For anything meaningful to take place the House, Senate and the White House all must be conservative and have conservative leadership. There must be solid agreed upon plans put forth by the republican party on how to get the budget under control, stop the debt slide, reverse our world standing, put Americans back to work, reduce the regulations on business, how to handle the Iran nuclear ambitions, and define a way to make us energy independent and help our European allies become energy independent of Russian gas (at least in the immediate future). These plans must be in place and espoused by all the conservative candidates prior to the next elections.

We love our country as envisioned by our founding fathers, and we cannot, we must not give up hope. We must stand and fight the forces that want to destroy our country! We can and we must win! Conservatives, stand up and be counted!!

God Bless America

Dean Elliott  — April 2014

Genesis 1 as Child Abuse

I’ve written before of my concern that a day is coming when any teaching of creation or Intelligent Design to children – whether it be in the homes, schools, church, synagogue would be codified into federal law as “child abuse.” You may see this as paranoia, and I hope you are right.

But when I pay attention to what is going on in our culture and politics, and I connect some dots, I see a very disturbing possibility that we must guard against.

Let me show you some of these dots:

Huckabee: What if gov’t decided you weren’t a good parent?

Prominent Attorney Alan Dershowitz Says He’d ‘Like to Help Out’ Parents of Justina Pelletier in Custody Battle

Canadian Supreme Court Rules Biblical Speech Opposing Homosexual Behavior is a ‘Hate Crime’

Swedish Pastor Faces Jail for Preaching against Homosexuality

 

Richard Dawkins: Religious indoctrination is child abuse

Lawrence Krauss, a professor at Arizona State University, recently announced that he believes teaching biblical creation to youngsters is “child abuse.”

Evolutionary Biologist Jerry Coyne on Religion as Child Abuse

Dawkins has taken flak for characterizing religious indoctrination of children as “child abuse.”  Well, look at this picture and deny it.  [The picture depicts a young child holding a sign that reads: Behead all those who insult the Prophet.] True, it’s not the same as beating or sexually molesting one’s child, but the brain of this boy is being warped and twisted by vicious Muslim ideology.  What hope does he have when he grows up?

This also shows how crazy it is to characterize Islam as “the religion of peace.”

Somehow—and this will never happen, of course—it should be illegal to indoctrinate children with religious belief.

My comments to the National Center for Science Education.
And read the response from Ray Sutera directly following my comment. That is the only response I received from my challenge to the “child abuse” accusations I’ve seen at NCSE.

Now read a response from one of the commenters in NCSE and notice the accusations of criminality in this man’s words. The Mysterious Mr. Moore, Part 1 | NCSE

In fact, your apparently intelligent writing will have more effects on our data-seeking children & poorly-educated, gullible adults, so you have much more responsibility for the mental abuses you can inflict on them, making you morally, ethically & criminally liable in your efforts to spread your bullshit around the populace….

NCSE is not just some hole in the wall organization. They are very influential and successful in assuring that only Darwinian evolution is taught in the schools.

There are more dots in this scenario, and when I cluster the above dots I see two prominent spikes in the data:

The governmental/legal spike as illustrated in the Pelletier case highlighted by Gov. Mike Huckabee and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz (not often allies I might add), and in the two articles about Biblical teaching about homosexuality in Canada and Sweden. I might add here that a friend in Northern Idaho tells me that Canadians cross the border into Idaho so as to hear uncensored Biblical preaching.

The other spike I see is on the academic scene as illustrated by Dawkins, Coyne, Krauss and NCSE.  This spike I see as the more dangerous since these academic superstars hold the attention and influence the lives of young students in sometimes very profound ways – and it doesn’t take a majority to cause a major shift in public opinion and public policy – hence law. These folks are cultivating/poisoning  the soil in preparation for a totally secular nation devoid of religion of any sort.

*   *   *   *

And let me add this note which I also hope is paranoia on my part.

From my very limited view point it seems that the church has for the most part abandoned the battlefield of origins and other social concerns. I say limited view point because I am only one man listening for the most part to the messages from a very limited set of sermons. The sermons are quite good, and necessary, and teach the very fundamental necessities of the articles of the Christian faith … but …

When I first became a Christian in 1981, our pastor, Dick Emery made us aware – on a regular basis – of what was going on in the world around us. He did this from the pulpit as well as in informing us of other avenues of awareness.

A story I greatly treasure is of his preschool son and a time when the kids shared what their daddy did at work. Young Jerrod said “my daddy lays around all week reading books … and on Sunday he gets up and tells everyone about them … “

Very true of Pastor Dick … a well read, well informed man who kept us informed.

That’s been over 35 years ago, and in a time when there was, as I recall, much teaching and preaching on the social issues of the day – abortion, homosexuality, origins, prophesy, the faith of American founders and more. It was the day of Chuck Smith, Hal Lindsey, D. James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robinson and yes … Dick Emery.

I value those days because as a recent atheist, and a struggling new Christian, I needed those counters to the world view I was coming out of.

But in the intervening years, and under a number of pastors in a number of churches in various parts of the country, I haven’t been hearing it. I know it’s out there, and I hope young people are hearing it … but I do wonder.

Don Johnson – March 2014

I’ve made the headlines (again) — well sort of.

Awhile back I wrote an essay I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face that was headlined and highlighted on the Intelligent Design web site Uncommon Decent. UD as it is called is one of the pre-eminent homes of those speaking out on behalf of and in defense of Intelligent Design (ID). ID stands in contrast to the widely accepted theory of Darwinian Evolution as the explanation of life on Earth, and thus is the target of much derision and scorn. 

I’ve been on that battlefield for a number of years, and stick my oar in these very troubled waters quite often. And believe me it gets ugly and tiring.

My latest foray is an essay, The Challenge of Design in Nature,  prompted by dialog between myself and those in and around the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).   Again, the managers of Uncommon Descent have honored me by  elevating my article to “headline” status on their web site at UD Commenter (and US Navy veteran), ayearningforpublius, on: “The Challenge of Design in Nature”.

I invite you to read it, and some of the comments it has generated.

 

Don Johnson – March 2014

The Challenge of Design in Nature

Mac: Wrong question, since as a YECist IDiot you cannot conceive of undesigned systems like all life forms have proven to be to the point where evolution is a scientifically acknowledged fact. Show me just one life form that was designed top down, with the evidence, process & theory to explain the outcome?

The  challenge presented above is typical of that presented to those of us who hold to a position of the Intelligent Design of things that have an “appearance” of design in nature – the mammalian eye is an example.

So let me step up to that challenge in a way that correlates such supposed “illusions” of design to design we can all agree is “real” no kidding undisputed design … namely all of the created artifacts of human endeavor from the pyramids of old to modern electronic devices.   

I will take the eye as my example of a “design” from nature, and from my own hands-on experience in the systems and software development field, I will follow the design and implementation of a data link system as part of a larger Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System (TACTS).

The particular piece of TACTS I will focus on is the data link interface between the downlinked aircraft data and the computer systems on the ground that take that real-time aircraft data and produce visual images that are used for real-time live monitoring of missions as well as post mission aircrew debrief.

As a designer and developer of the interface, one must first of all obtain an understanding of the nature and detailed characteristics of the incoming data. This includes research in the procurement of a device that is capable of electrically interfacing with the incoming data stream, capturing it and passing it on to downstream software processes and algorithms that will produce the final visual product.

Once that proper hardware interface device is installed into the host computer system, the interface software must be conceived, designed, written and debugged to successfully capture the data incoming data packets.

As an aside here, Note here that I am focusing on the tasks of  software interfacing with the data. The hardware aspect of this interface must accommodate such physical things such as frequency band tuning and antenna characteristics such as polarization, bit clocking rates, error detection and correction and more.  

The interface software is presented with a continual stream of data, in the form of bits (0 or 1) and bytes (8 bits). A fair amount of this data is noise having nothing to do with the business of tracking high speed maneuvering jets, but some of it actually describes this maneuvering in a great deal of detail. The task of the interfacing software is to pick out this specified data from the non-specified noise and pass the maneuver data to the “brains” of the TACTS system for transformation into visual images, and storage for later debrief as well as passing the processed data to remote debriefing sites.

In some of the tasks I describe I have actually been the designing, programming, and debugging agent transforming this data stream into human useable forms. But I have not been the sole such agent as many other design and manufacturing entities are necessarily involved in such a complex endeavor.  Also note, as in this article, that I as the agent am for the most part anonymous and unknown as are the other participants … but I and the other intelligent agents (designers) can be found if one searches for our  identities. But knowing who I am specifically is unnecessary in the context of understanding that what I have described and left behind in some software somewhere is an Intelligently Designed (sub)system. 

Now lets return to the challenge:

Show me just one life form that was designed top down, with the evidence, process & theory to explain the outcome?

The life form I choose to highlight is the Human life form, and a particular subsystem of that life form, the visual subsystem.

And what I will attempt to illustrate is not the design and development of a material thing … the eye, but rather a functional thing … the visual experience which necessarily includes the material thing, and thus the material thing becomes part and parcel an artifact of the functional thing.

As in the case of TACTS, the end product is not the individual material parts, or even the material whole … but rather the functional end product of a debrief product in the case of TACTS, and any number of functional end products of the human visual experience such as the double play in baseball, a great painting such as  one by Vermeer, a great musical/theatrical experience such as Les Miserables or Handel’s Messiah … or the Osprey’s dive from high altitude to catch an unawares fish.  

As in the case of the TACTS data link interface, the designer of the eye must have extensive and detailed knowledge and understanding of that which it is interfacing with –of the physical characteristics of the electro-magnetic spectrum and the particular frequency band in which to interface with. At the very detailed and smallest unit of interface with this spectrum, I understand that the eye is capable of detecting individual photons. Now I don’t claim to understand photons, but suffice it to say that if this is true, then the designers knowledge of the requirements of the eye are detailed and immense … and necessary.

So the designer of the eye accounts for the vastness of the electro-magnetic spectrum (EMS) and designs the eye such that its subsystems (the retina) are able to differentiate and isolate the portions of the spectrum of interest for the targeted life form (human, eagle, shark … ) so those various life forms can perform the functions necessary for its day to day, minute by minute life.

But that fundamental EMS interface is  not the end-all of the visual experience. The captured data must be processed and re-formatted for downstream use – in the case of TACTS for monitor and debrief, and passing processed data to remote locations … for the animal the captured data is packaged for transmission to the brain via optics nerves. An interesting parallel between the naturally designed visual systems and the human designed systems such as TACTS, is the aspect of data compression,  engineers have long recognized that data streams often contains gaps and repeated patterns that can be compressed, thus increasing the  available bandwidth (capacity) of the transmitting media. Likewise, it appears that researchers are discovering a sort of data compression taking place in the eye prior to the data being passed to the optic nerves and then transmitted to the brain. Read this fascinating article Image Processing in the Eye: Like “Magic”

So as in the case of the TACTS, the designers must be constantly aware of the downstream requirements of the data being processed at the interface level, the designers must also keep foremost in mind, the intended functional use of the data as it flows through the system (the life form). That functional use is as diverse as is the human experience.

The idea of Intelligent Design very nicely parallels the human generated designs we all  experience on a regular basis. Naturalistic explanations such as Darwinian Evolution of necessity struggle with presenting a convincing argument, let alone evidence, for the development of a complex life form such as our own human body – in spite of the claim of fact and mountains of evidence.

*  *  *  *

What I have hoped to accomplish is to describe in broad terms a response to the challenge presented:

Show me just one life form that was designed top down, with the evidence, process & theory to explain the outcome?

and because I was actually there and participated in the design, development and deployment of a human designed system, I am able to present it as a reasonable analog to a similar naturally developed system. However, I was not there to witness or participate in the design, development and deployment of a naturally designed system, but I believe I have adequately outlined reasonable analogies and responses to the challenge:

  • the evidence  — the eye itself
  • the process – a commonly accepted design methodology prevalent in the engineering world.
  • process – stating requirements >> understanding requirements >> designing to requirements >> building to requirements >> testing to requirements >> successful use by end users.
  • theory – accepted design, engineering and manufacturing methodologies taught in most university engineering degree curricula.
  • who is the designer – not explicitly stated in the challenge, but I believe I have made the argument that the identity of a designer is tangential to the argument of design. Should one seek out such an identity is an individual choice and one I hope individuals would do so.

I would welcome corrections, additions and further insights to my response to Mac’s challenge.  Civility is always welcome.

 

Don Johnson – March 2014

Russia and the Baltic States

It was the mid 1990s, and Diana and I were making a cross country road trip with Norwegian cousin Oyvind Mydland  and his wife Ann Elisa. We started in Washington DC and ended in San Diego,CA. The purpose of the trip was to fulfill Ovyind’s desire to connect with some Norwegian American relatives.

Along the way we visited family in Virginia, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada and California.

While in Kansas, we talked with a young shirt tailed relative who belonged to a dance group of one sort or another. He told us of a trip his group made to one of the Baltic States – I don’t remember which one, I think it was Lithuania.

The young man told us of the trip, told us about the people they met, and as I recall showed some pictures.

He also told us how some of the men called them aside on a matter of great concern  …

You see, this was in the mid 1990s, just a few years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Baltic States were part of that Soviet Union and were under the boot of the Soviet armies.

The concern these men had was for their children, and what would become of them if the Russians were to return. They were asking the Americans for help and assurance for the safety of their children.

We now hear of concern the Russians will again invade  and take over one or more of the Baltic States as they’ve done it in Ukraine.

I wonder these many years later … what are these people now thinking? Do they have the same fears as then? The children, some of whom are probably adults … are they now fearful and perhaps preparing to defend their nation against the Russians?

Do they have any confidence that America will intervene in any meaningful way?

Just yesterday, the day after I posted this about Russia and the Baltic states, I noticed that someone from Estonia had looked at my article – very curious, I have no idea who read it or why.

Estonia

Don Johnson – March 2014

I’ve re-published my book "I Didn’t Want to Worry You Mom … " at a substantially reduced price.

Dear family and friends,

I’ve recently reworked and re-published my book and have been able to reduce the price to about half of what the previous cost was for the larger soft cover version …  and much cheaper than the most expensive version I previously published. I am quite pleased how the new version has turned out and I hope you will consider purchasing this newer version.

The new version is smaller, but retains the color of the previous versions and in the re-formatting process I was able to increase the page count, and in many ways I prefer this version to the larger and more expensive coffee-table style.

I repeat here the description and my motivations for producing this book:

                 *   *   *   *

This book is dedicated to those many sailors who went to sea in those small and fragile, yet workhorse greyhounds of the sea  … the “tin cans” … and especially to those who gave all and remain at watch on the high seas.

The book is a compilation of images and first person accounts, providing a glimpse of what it was like living at sea, often in hostile environments – both natural for manmade – and for extended periods of time.

The book is a glimpse into the past … a look at the present … and a taste of the future.

The book serves a variety of readers:
- If you served on these ships … especially in time of war – to give you a renewed sense of patriotic contribution to a nation you love .
- If you are family of those sailors –
      A mother or father left behind …
      A grandmother or grandfather left behind …
     A wife left behind …
     A son or daughter or a grandchild who wonders…
        what did  dad or  grandpa do during the war?
        what was it like?
     A brother or sister left behind …
     A good friend left behind …
- If you are today’s sailor seeking a legacy for your service …
- If you are just the naturally curious type… curious about tough and monumental times in history – times that changed the course of history …

                 *   *   *   *

And as an added bonus, if you read the book description in the following link you will see a link to a YouTube video – click and take a look. In that video you will see a couple of segments from some documentaries produced for the Military Channel by Dan Crowell. Dan and his crew discovered the bow of the USS Murphy that sunk after being hit amidships by a large tanker back in 1942, just off the coast of New York. I’ve talked with Dan several times, and he and I will be working together in the near future to produce a more polished version of this video … so stay tuned for that as well.

http://www.blurb.com/b/5164647-i-didn-t-want-to-worry-you-mom

Click to preview I Didn't Want to Worry You Mom ... pocket and trade book

1,000,000 New Jersey Criminals?

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Further to my previous comments on the 300,000 Connecticut Criminals?, we now read this from our neighbor state to the south, New Jersey - 

“Have you guys seen what is happening in Connecticut right now?” he continued. “One million gun owners in New Jersey are also gonna say, like our brothers and sisters in the north, that we will not comply. And I can tell you here and now, I will not comply.”

As in Connecticut, New Jersey has a long history of arms manufacturing:

Ruger is another manufacturer of note in the Northeast.

How many millions of overnight felons are being created in states  such as Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, California and elsewhere?

 

Related issues:

Richard Dawkins

I’ve been reading and participating on this blog almost since it’s inception, and once again thank you for the opportunity to express my dissenting points of view.

There is one particular comment that has been bothering me since the beginning, and I think it may be one of the very first comments on this site. It’s this one by Tony Cirella:

“This is child abuse. But, then again, so are most Sunday school sessions. The I.D. movement is narcissism defined.”

This comment is a vile and uncalled for attack on millions of American parents and churches, as well as the millions having a favorable view of the “design inference” in science, as well as the .

The many comments against my own views, and those of my Canadian friend Robert Byers are not unexpected, and I am not complaining about them.

But this one comment by Tony Cirella needs rebuke and censure. Why?

This is the sort of talk and mind-set that was seen in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, and also in the Communist nations from the 1920′s through the 1980s. It is the tactic of turning children against their parents and towards the state. A tyrannical mind-set, and comment that should not be seen or heard, especially in a site such as this which is supposed to be dedicated to education.

No one has challenged this comment. My questions are directed to all associated with this site:

Barbara Forrest – will you challenge and rebuke this comment?
Eric Meikle – will you challenge and rebuke this comment?
Eugenie Scott – will you challenge and rebuke this comment?
Glenn Branch – will you challenge and rebuke this comment?
Josh Rosenau- will you challenge and rebuke this comment?
Mark McCafferey – will you challenge and rebuke this comment?
Minda Berbeco – will you challenge and rebuke this comment?
Peter Hess – will you challenge and rebuke this comment?
Steven Newton – will you challenge and rebuke this comment?

All you commenters – - will any of you challenge and rebuke this comment?

And finally, Tony Cirella. On further reflection, will you retract this comment?
Regards,
don

  • Then there is the recent national; embrace of legalizing marijuana.
  • And the political and cultural embrace of homosexuality and casting believers in the traditional definition of marriage (one man … one woman … one lifetime) as bigots.

Can all of this be leading America to a better place … or even to a good place?

What will the generations to follow reap … our grandchildren and beyond?

Don Johnson – March 2014

300,000 Connecticut Criminals?

Un-Constitutional: 300,000 gun owners face jail time

Its hard to know how many actual unregistered gun owners there are in Connecticut -  I’ve seen estimates ranging from 100,000 to this one at 300,000.

Another number I have seen recently is that Winchester  Repeating Arms, employed as many as 20,000 in New Haven, the city  where I now live – Winchester closed in New Haven in 2006,

This Northeast part of the country –  Connecticut, Massachusetts, , New York and New Jersey was the cradle of arms manufacturing  in the US:

  • Winchester in New Haven.
  • Mossberg in New Haven.
  • Remington in Bridgeport CT.
  • Colt in Hartford CT.
  • Stag Arms in New Britain CT.
  • Springfield Armory in Springfield MA.
  •     … and more …

image

Notice the background in the Springfield Armory  add above – it looks like it may be the landings at Omaha Beach in Normandy in 1944.  

It seems so easy these days to turn our backs on our heritage … to turn our backs on those ancestors – the fathers and mothers – the grandmothers and grandfathers of those 20,000 workers here in New Haven and elsewhere that contributed so greatly to our national defense in places like Omaha Beach, Iwo-Jima, Inchon Korea

File:Battle of Inchon.png

Pork Chop Hill Korea, Khe Sanh Vietnam an many more.

The many workers in the factories noted above, as well as the tens of thousands of gun owners in Connecticut who have chosen an act of civil dis-obedience should be honored. They did not open fire on the school children at Sandy Hook.

To make these gun owners criminals is an egregious act of Constitutional criminality on the part of the modern state of Connecticut.

Don Johnson – March 2014