Endless mysteries lurk in the depths of space. To pare the list down to eight—now, there’s a challenge



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It’s not clear, however, that suggestive terms like “mechanistic elasticity,” “enzyme promiscuity,” or “substrate permissiveness” provide visible light or black light.  They may be merely giving the illusion of making emergence glow without aiding understanding of how unguided processes produced highly complex, functional molecules that human researchers have a hard time duplicating.  A critical reader might wonder why these scientists are helping themselves to “barring issues of by-product toxicity,” for instance.  Poison kills.  Can they sweep this problem away by arbitrarily barring it? 



And without defining functional space, which by all accounts is an extremely tiny subset of a vast sequence space (most of which is functionless or toxic), they seem to be taking liberties to say that mutated molecules will traverse functional space in a finite time.  “Mechanistic routes” are, by definition, mindless and without purposeful aim.  Manufacture of these metabolite molecules, furthermore, requires coded information in the genome, and molecular machines to assemble them.

  • And without defining functional space, which by all accounts is an extremely tiny subset of a vast sequence space (most of which is functionless or toxic), they seem to be taking liberties to say that mutated molecules will traverse functional space in a finite time.  “Mechanistic routes” are, by definition, mindless and without purposeful aim.  Manufacture of these metabolite molecules, furthermore, requires coded information in the genome, and molecular machines to assemble them.



In the “Future Directions” section at the end, the authors’ Darwinian proclivities emerged amidst of flock of stage doves:

  • In the “Future Directions” section at the end, the authors’ Darwinian proclivities emerged amidst of flock of stage doves:

  • Although a few studies have interrogated the minimum set of mutations that dictate the emergence of specific functions in divergent plant-specialized metabolic enzymes„ no particular study has addressed all viable mutational paths in these metabolic systems. This limits our ability to postulate evolutionary scenarios consistent with the stepwise assembly of mechanistically divergent metabolic pathways within the framework of Darwinian evolution2 and to quantify the incremental emergence of new activities with each mutational step. Could specialized metabolic enzymes and their pathways evolve along a wider set of evolutionary trajectories than their cousins in primary metabolism?



To make sure the audience appreciated the difficulty of their magic act, they wrote in conclusion:

  • To make sure the audience appreciated the difficulty of their magic act, they wrote in conclusion:

  • The remarkable chemodiversity in plants and its underlying metabolic diversity are reached via exploration of sequence space restrained by enzyme catalysis, protein stability, emerging and extant metabolic pathways, and, ultimately, organismal fitness. The ability to bridge the fields of evolutionary biology, chemistry, biophysics, and mechanistic enzymology to cooperatively tackle the complexity of specialized metabolism will provide a more informed understanding of the amazing tapestry of plant-specialized metabolites that are so essential to the sessile lifestyle of plants.

  • This implies that their understanding, if any, was less informed than it should be.



By contrast, another paper in the same issue of Science had little to say about evolution, but a lot about revolution.  In “Mining the Biodiversity of Plants: A Revolution in the Making” (Science, 29 June 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6089 pp. 1658–1661, DOI: 10.1126/science.1217410), four scientists from Brock University were excited about the potential health benefits for humans of “mining” the diversity of plant metabolites for medical applications:

  • By contrast, another paper in the same issue of Science had little to say about evolution, but a lot about revolution.  In “Mining the Biodiversity of Plants: A Revolution in the Making” (Science, 29 June 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6089 pp. 1658–1661, DOI: 10.1126/science.1217410), four scientists from Brock University were excited about the potential health benefits for humans of “mining” the diversity of plant metabolites for medical applications:



Approximately two-thirds of new drugs in the past 25 years have originated from the discovery of particular secondary metabolites derived from natural biodiversity. This success has been attributed to the structural complexity of molecules found in living organisms, which have an average of 6.2 chiral centers per molecule as compared to an average of 0.4 chiral centers found in combinatorial libraries. Such chemically complex molecules are very difficult and costly to produce efficiently by chemical synthesis.…

  • Approximately two-thirds of new drugs in the past 25 years have originated from the discovery of particular secondary metabolites derived from natural biodiversity. This success has been attributed to the structural complexity of molecules found in living organisms, which have an average of 6.2 chiral centers per molecule as compared to an average of 0.4 chiral centers found in combinatorial libraries. Such chemically complex molecules are very difficult and costly to produce efficiently by chemical synthesis.…

  • …but plants do it so well for us, the message continued, we can and should exploit their design prowess for our benefit.  These authors didn’t use the word “originated” in a magical sense.  The new drugs “originated” not by unguided processes, but by intentional search and discovery, a form of intelligent design.



1. The authors’ job was not to describe degradation or variations of existing functional molecules, but to explain how new cellular machines (proteins and metabolites) that provide new, useful functions arrived: i.e., how plants that did not have these functional molecules got them.  Darwinians need to start from the bottom up; creationists start from the top down.  Creationists do not discount natural variations, but question the ability of an unguided, aimless, purposeless process like neo-Darwinism to “innovate” new complex functions possessing more genetic information than before.  Every scientist knows, furthermore, that entropy cannot be ignored.

  • 1. The authors’ job was not to describe degradation or variations of existing functional molecules, but to explain how new cellular machines (proteins and metabolites) that provide new, useful functions arrived: i.e., how plants that did not have these functional molecules got them.  Darwinians need to start from the bottom up; creationists start from the top down.  Creationists do not discount natural variations, but question the ability of an unguided, aimless, purposeless process like neo-Darwinism to “innovate” new complex functions possessing more genetic information than before.  Every scientist knows, furthermore, that entropy cannot be ignored.

  • 2. In a similar vein, they stated, “Positing that protein functional promiscuity serves as the starting point for functional innovation through natural selection.…”



Caught in the act!    The authors of the first paper just admitted, in print, that they have limited their thinking to postulating “evolutionary scenarios consistent with the stepwise assembly … within the framework of Darwinian evolution.”    How to we translate that into plain English?  Storytelling!  What’s a scenario?  A play.  What’s a framework?  A stage.  What’s the plot?  Darwinian evolution only.  And what is the acronym for “Darwin Only, Darwin Only”?  D.O.D.O.  We just watched a comedy!  It’s tragic.

  • Caught in the act!    The authors of the first paper just admitted, in print, that they have limited their thinking to postulating “evolutionary scenarios consistent with the stepwise assembly … within the framework of Darwinian evolution.”    How to we translate that into plain English?  Storytelling!  What’s a scenario?  A play.  What’s a framework?  A stage.  What’s the plot?  Darwinian evolution only.  And what is the acronym for “Darwin Only, Darwin Only”?  D.O.D.O.  We just watched a comedy!  It’s tragic.



It’s tragic, and it’s magic.  These authors did little more than wave their hands and shout “Abracadabra!”  Behind black curtains, they pulled Darwin rabbits out of Darwin black hats under Darwin black light, and then had the gall to tell you the rabbit “emerged, arose, originated, occurred.”  The fast-talking magicians distracted you with a steady stream of impressive phrases like “substrate permissiveness,” “mechanistic elasticity” and “evolutionary trajectory”.  They even tossed in a little sexual titillation, talking about “enzyme promiscuity.”  SUCH WORDS CONVEY NO UNDER-STANDING.  They are the tools of snake oil salesmen and charlatans, used only to distract and impress you while they steal your watch.

  • It’s tragic, and it’s magic.  These authors did little more than wave their hands and shout “Abracadabra!”  Behind black curtains, they pulled Darwin rabbits out of Darwin black hats under Darwin black light, and then had the gall to tell you the rabbit “emerged, arose, originated, occurred.”  The fast-talking magicians distracted you with a steady stream of impressive phrases like “substrate permissiveness,” “mechanistic elasticity” and “evolutionary trajectory”.  They even tossed in a little sexual titillation, talking about “enzyme promiscuity.”  SUCH WORDS CONVEY NO UNDER-STANDING.  They are the tools of snake oil salesmen and charlatans, used only to distract and impress you while they steal your watch.



Think of CEH as your backstage guide to show you how the Darwin magic tricks are done.  They tried to steal your watch, but you watched them steal.  You were ready.  You were alert.  When you know the secret, and you train your mind not to be distracted by the irrelevant jargon, the act looks more like what it is: an act.  Sorry to spoil the show, but you need to know.  Now teach someone else.  Better yet, bring them to daily CEH deprogramming sessions.

  • Think of CEH as your backstage guide to show you how the Darwin magic tricks are done.  They tried to steal your watch, but you watched them steal.  You were ready.  You were alert.  When you know the secret, and you train your mind not to be distracted by the irrelevant jargon, the act looks more like what it is: an act.  Sorry to spoil the show, but you need to know.  Now teach someone else.  Better yet, bring them to daily CEH deprogramming sessions.



The old “crop circle” craze fanned the curiosity of many, till humans were filmed making them.  Now, scientists have a different circle mystery, and they’re stumped.

  • The old “crop circle” craze fanned the curiosity of many, till humans were filmed making them.  Now, scientists have a different circle mystery, and they’re stumped.

  • The “Explanatory Filter” devised by William Dembski (see IDEAcenter.org) includes intelligent causes as a last resort, once natural law and chance are ruled out.  Often, it takes time to work through the filter.  When the crop circle craze hit, the simplicity of the circles suggested a natural cause at first.  But then the patterns got more and more elaborate, exhausting the probabilistic resources of chance or natural law (or both) to account for them.  In addition, they exhibited complex specified information, like mathematical forms only minds would comprehend.  This shows that scientists intuitively use the filter, even if they don’t accept Dembski’s intelligent design theory.



A test case is underway in Africa.  Live Science reported that researchers are stumped at mysterious circles out in the middle of nowhere, 111 miles from the nearest village.  “In the sandy desert grasslands of Namibia in southern Africa, mysterious bare spots known as “fairy circles” will form and then disappear years later for no reason anyone can determine,” reporter Stephanie Pappas wrote.  “A new look at these strange patterns doesn’t solve the wistful mystery but at least reveals that the largest of the circles can linger for a lifetime.”

  • A test case is underway in Africa.  Live Science reported that researchers are stumped at mysterious circles out in the middle of nowhere, 111 miles from the nearest village.  “In the sandy desert grasslands of Namibia in southern Africa, mysterious bare spots known as “fairy circles” will form and then disappear years later for no reason anyone can determine,” reporter Stephanie Pappas wrote.  “A new look at these strange patterns doesn’t solve the wistful mystery but at least reveals that the largest of the circles can linger for a lifetime.”



Geometric circles are familiar in the plant kingdom.  Some mushrooms grow in circles called “fairy rings.”  Some superstitious people coming across these near-perfect circles of mushrooms jumped to the conclusion that mystical spirits were at work in the forest (thus the name).  They didn’t use the explanatory filter correctly; it shows that rushing to a design inference can be unwarranted.  Some grasses and bushes can also be found growing in circles.  The usual explanation is that the organism moves outward in all directions as nutrients in the center are exhausted.  That explanation, though, does not fit the African fairy circles.  They cannot yet be explained by nutrients, toxic vapors, termites or other natural causes so far examined.

  • Geometric circles are familiar in the plant kingdom.  Some mushrooms grow in circles called “fairy rings.”  Some superstitious people coming across these near-perfect circles of mushrooms jumped to the conclusion that mystical spirits were at work in the forest (thus the name).  They didn’t use the explanatory filter correctly; it shows that rushing to a design inference can be unwarranted.  Some grasses and bushes can also be found growing in circles.  The usual explanation is that the organism moves outward in all directions as nutrients in the center are exhausted.  That explanation, though, does not fit the African fairy circles.  They cannot yet be explained by nutrients, toxic vapors, termites or other natural causes so far examined.



“The why question is very difficult,” said study researcher Walter Tschinkel, a biologist at Florida State University. “There are a number of hypotheses on the table, and the evidence for none of them is convincing.”

  • “The why question is very difficult,” said study researcher Walter Tschinkel, a biologist at Florida State University. “There are a number of hypotheses on the table, and the evidence for none of them is convincing.”

  • This is an example of the Explanatory Filter in action (though Tschinkel should have said the how question, not the why question–the province of philosphy).  Natural causes are the default, and will most likely be found for such simple geometric shapes.  These circles, ranging from 12 to 40 feet in diameter, are not perfect, some are oblong, and they appear randomly spaced. Still, since it is a “persistent enigma,” scientists cannot and should not rule out design (i.e., that unseen tribes have a purpose for clearing the ground in an unusual way).

  • Researchers are treating this like a puzzle-solving expedition that, even though unlikely to be solved soon, will yield an answer eventually.  “That’s science, isn’t it?” Tschinkel remarked.  “If you knew the answer ahead of time, it wouldn’t be much fun.”



There’s nothing unusual about approaching a scientific puzzle Dembski’s way.  The Explanatory Filter is an intuitive puzzle-solving method that can be mathematically formalized, as Dembski has done.  The controversy comes when evolutionists do think they know the answer ahead of time, and it is “not design.”  Yet they will turn around and accept the design inference for crop circles and SETI.

  • There’s nothing unusual about approaching a scientific puzzle Dembski’s way.  The Explanatory Filter is an intuitive puzzle-solving method that can be mathematically formalized, as Dembski has done.  The controversy comes when evolutionists do think they know the answer ahead of time, and it is “not design.”  Yet they will turn around and accept the design inference for crop circles and SETI.

  • We believe a natural explanation will be found for these African “fairy circles,” but the goal of every scientist should be to keep an open mind, consider all the reasonable causes (including intelligent causes, which we can determine from uniform experience and probability), and to follow the evidence where it leads.



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