Beginnings Reporting on science and intelligent design

Evolutionary scientist admits theory’s major flaws

Evolution | Gerd Müller notes evolution doesn’t adequately explain life’s origins or complexity
by Julie Borg
Posted 9/07/17, 12:33 pm

Gerd Müller, a highly regarded Austrian evolutionary theorist, recently gave a presentation, published in Interface Focus, in which he admitted Charlies Darwin’s theory largely avoids explaining how life originated and how complexity developed.

Müller did not espouse any creationist or design beliefs, but his presentation demonstrated that even the most staunch advocates of evolution are forced to admit the theory has many holes. The presentation was devastating “for anyone who wants to think that, on the great questions of biological origins, orthodox evolutionary theory has got it all figured out,” Discovery Institute experts wrote on their organization’s blog.

Müller’s admission offers a particularly damning critique since answers to questions about how things originated and how complexity developed form the basis for all origin theories. He also referred to the concept of macroevolution, the idea that one species can evolve into a totally different species, as “vague” and advised proponents of an expanded framework of evolution to avoid the term altogether. 

Many Christians reject the theory of macroevolution because the Bible teaches that God created everything according to its kind. Somewhat less controversial is the theory of microevolution, which refers to changes or adaptations within a species. For example, dog breeders can breed a dog that sheds less, but it’s still a dog. But they can’t breed a dog that can fly. Many evolutionists believe microevolutionary changes lead to macroevolution, but Müller admitted even evolutionary experts argue among themselves about whether microevolutionary adaptations actually produce macroevolution.

Even within evolutionary circles, Müller noted, a large number of scientists recognize that the standard theory of evolution needs to be revised or replaced altogether: “A rising number of publications argue for a major revision or even a replacement of the standard theory of evolution, indicating that this cannot be dismissed as a minority view but rather is a widespread feeling among scientists and philosophers alike.”

Canadian musician Leonard Cohen once said, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Perhaps the ever-widening cracks in the theory of evolution will let some of the light of God’s truth shine into the scientific world.

©iStockPhoto.com/DigitalOtter ©iStockPhoto.com/DigitalOtter

Researchers surprised by science education study

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University discovered a paradox in a recent study about scientific education. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that increasing science education leads to more polarization in beliefs about stem cell research, the big bang theory, human evolution, genetically modified foods, nanotechnology, and climate change.

The scientists expected to find that polarization reflected a lack of scientific education and understanding. But, quite the opposite, the study revealed that both religious and political views inform opinions on these topics far more than scientific education. 

Caitlin Drummond, the lead researcher, said the team would love to understand how scientific topics became so polarized in the first place, noting “disagreements about science seem to be about more than the science itself.”

Could it be the disagreements are really about faith and values? —J.B.

©iStockPhoto.com/Julius Fiedler ©iStockPhoto.com/Julius Fiedler

Did lead poisoning destroy the Roman Empire?

Archaeologists believe lead contamination in Roman water may have contributed to the demise of the empire. Now scientists have discovered the unintentional poisoning started much sooner than previously thought. 

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed samples of harbor sediment and determined the Romans began to use lead pipes 150 years earlier than expected.

Ancient Rome’s lead-based plumbing system was a complex architectural wonder. Its aqueducts brought a steady water supply from the mountains into the urban area, where lead pipes distributed it throughout the city and flushed sewage into nearby ocean harbors. Many of the aqueducts are still standing today.

The researchers found evidence of a large spike in lead concentrations in samples that date to around 200 B.C. Their analysis indicates lead pipe use peaked during this time and then declined in the first century A.D. when civil wars besieged the country and left the Romans with no time to maintain their plumbing system. This was also the time during which Rome attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.

The study lends support to the idea that lead contamination may have sickened the Roman people and contaminated fish and sea life in their harbors. —J.B.

Zebrafish help identify most effective cancer treatments

Cancerous tumors have their own individual properties and no one-size-fits-all treatment exists for any specific cancer. Doctors often have no alternative but to seek the best treatment through a series of trial-and-error attempts that can delay effective treatment and expose patients to unnecessary toxicity.

But a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences offers a novel approach to personalizing cancer treatment. Researchers found that by implanting colorectal cancer cells into zebrafish larvae, they could treat the resulting tumors with different types of chemotherapy to test effectiveness. In four-out-of-five cases, a tumor’s response to a particular chemotherapy matched the response of the corresponding tumors in the human patient.

The study shows that testing tumors in zebrafish, which typically takes two or three weeks, may offer a much cheaper and speedier alternative to using mice, which takes two to six months.

Not all drugs used for humans will work in zebrafish, but the results certainly hold hope for personalized cancer treatment. “We need to study a lot more patients to see, in a broad view, how this approach performs,” Leonard Zon, an oncology researcher at Harvard Medical School, told Science Magazine. —J.B.

Dangerous food allergies increase nearly 400 percent

Private insurance claims for anaphylactic food reactions, severe allergic responses that can be life-threatening, shot up 377 percent nationwide from 2007 to 2016, according to an analysis conducted by FAIR Health, an independent nonprofit organization that tracks private health insurance claims.

The largest rise, more than 600 percent, came from anaphylactic reactions to tree nuts or seeds, followed closely by a 445 percent rise in reactions to peanuts. Reactions to eggs, crustaceans (shrimp or lobster), and dairy products were also common.

Children and adolescents accounted for 66 percent of the claims made for patients who had a known history of food allergies.

Medical researchers do not yet understand why food allergies are increasing in frequency as well as severity. But Hugh Sampson, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai in New York City, believes increased use of antibiotics, C-sections, and an increasingly sterile environment may be to blame. All of these things alter the programming in our immune systems, he told The Wall Street Journal. —J.B.

Julie Borg

Julie is a clinical psychologist and writer who lives in Dayton, Ohio. She reports on science and intelligent design for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital.

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Comments

  • JerryM
    Posted: Thu, 09/07/2017 05:48 pm

    Really interesting articles.  Thanks, Julie!

  • Daniel40
    Posted: Sat, 09/09/2017 12:00 am

    "Somewhat less controversial is the theory of microevolution, which refers to changes or adaptations within a species...."

    "Somewhat" less controversial?  I nominate this as World Magazine's understatement of the year.  If Ken Ham and Bill Nye don't even disagree on this aspect of biology, then I think it is safe to simply label it as "uncontroversial."

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Sat, 09/09/2017 05:18 am

    I'm not a scientist but I am always amazed by the way science (which should be un-biased?) is divided along the lines of scripture.  The atheistic "scientist" opposes anything scriptural.  The "scientist" who believes the Bible opposes what is unscriptural.  I think we all must chose our bias.  With the vast amount of information we don't know what is it that we can know?    

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Sun, 09/10/2017 01:06 pm

    The notion that lead poisoning contributed to Rome's decline stretches reason.  One could just as easily say that jungle rot contributed to the decline of the Incans.

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