Matheson’s Intron Fairy Tale

The failure to recognize the importance of introns “may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.” –John Mattick, Molecular biologist, University of Queensland, quoted in Scientific American On Friday, May 14, I watched as Steve Meyer faced his critics — two of them anyway, Art Hunt and Steve Matheson — at Biola University in Los Angeles. Matheson had previously claimed that Meyer misrepresented introns in his book, Signature in the Cell. (Introns are non-protein-coding sequences of DNA that occur within protein-coding regions.) In a blog post dated February 14, Matheson had accused Meyer of “some combination of ignorance, sloth, and duplicity” for stating in his book that although introns do not encode Read More ›

Fossil Finds Show Cambrian Explosion Getting More Explosive

Cephalopods, which include marine mollusks like squid, octopus, and cuttlefish, are now being reported in the Cambrian explosion fossils. As a recent BBC news article reports: “We go from very simple pre-Cambrian life-forms to something as complex as a cephalopod in the geological blink of an eye, which illustrates just how quickly evolution can produce complexity,” said [evolutionary biologist Martin] Smith. Keep in mind here that “evolution” is a placeholder term for an as-of-yet uncovered mechanism that produces animals like Cephalopods in a “geological blink of an eye.” Darwin’s Dilemma is not solved by vague appeals “how quickly” evolution can operate. All this follows on the heels of recent fossil findings that push phylum Bryozoa back into the Cambrian period, Read More ›

“Artificial Life” Or Intelligently Designed Plagiarism?

As Jonathan Wells recently observed, it’s being widely reported on internet news sites that biotech guru Craig Venter and his team have created “artificial life.” BBC News has a good description of what was really done: How a Synthetic Cell Was Created: 1. The scientists “decoded” the chromosome of an existing bacterial cell – using a computer to read each of the letters of genetic code. 2. They copied this code and chemically constructed a new synthetic chromosome, piecing together blocks of DNA. 3. The team inserted this chromosome into a bacterial cell which replicated itself. Synthetic bacteria might be used to make new fuels and drugs. (See “‘Artificial life’ breakthrough announced by scientists,” BBC News, May 20, 2010.) To Read More ›

Has Craig Venter Produced Artificial Life?

“Artificial life, the stuff of dreams and nightmares, has arrived.” So proclaimed The Economist on May 20th, after a team of scientists headed by J. Craig Venter [2] announced that it had replaced the natural DNA in a bacterial cell with DNA they had artificially synthesized. According to University of Pennsylvania philosopher and bioethicist Arthur Caplan, “Venter and his colleagues have shown that the material world can be manipulated to produce what we recognize as life. In doing so they bring to an end a debate about the nature of life that has lasted thousands of years. Their achievement undermines a fundamental belief about the nature of life that is likely to prove as momentous to our view of ourselves Read More ›

Gotcha! Checking Stephen Meyer’s Spelling and Other Weighty Criticisms of Signature in the Cell

While my chapter in Signature of Controversy responding to Stephen Matheson’s review of Signature in the Cell deals with a variety of issues, I’d like to boil it down to two or three which I feel are the most important topics. Why are they the most important? Because it’s on these topics that Matheson engages in the most name-calling, and where Matheson also happens to be the most wrong. (Is there a reason why evolutionists so often increase the ad hominem attacks when their case is weak?) With that, here’s a condensed and abridged version of my response to Matheson: What would you get if you crossed a snarky pro-evolution blog like Panda’s Thumb with a passionate defender of theistic Read More ›