Something Happened

To research for his October Acts & Facts article, Evolution: It Just Happened, about all Frank Sherwin seems to have done is run a search of the academic literature for the phrase “something happened.” He has compiled a small collection: his first is from the “prestigious secular journal Nature.“*

A recent issue of the secular science journal Nature includes research by molecular palaeobiologist Kevin Peterson in which he questions the traditional evolutionary tree of mammals, stating it is all wrong. The data Peterson uses are based on a molecule called microRNA (miRNA). This is just one of several kinds of ribonucleic acids that control the expression of genes. Peterson’s miRNA interpretation breaks away from the traditional Darwinian view that people are more closely related to cows, dogs, and elephants than to rodents.

Peterson’s conclusions are interesting, I have to say, but not overly compelling. Suspicious – though not exactly damning, I rather doubt he made such an obvious error – is that his tree is almost exactly backwards compared to what is currently accepted (only elephants are out of place). More important is that his tree is based on only the one system of analysis (though he claims that more agree), while the prevailing view has multiple things going for it. I’m sure we’ll see how this plays out from whenever it is next mentioned in the ICR’s publications. I do like Sherwin’s last sentence there: not only is it debatable that there is a “traditional Darwinian view” in any meaningful sense of the term, but he seems to have got Peterson’s conclusions backwards.

The article goes on to say:

If it turns out that the traditional mammal tree is right, Peterson won’t see that result as a defeat for microRNAs. It would just mean that something odd happened…he says.

“Something odd happened”? Imagine if a non-Darwinian scientist stated this in a creation science publication! How did such a bizarre statement ever make it into a journal that allegedly prides itself on its scientific precision?

Three things. One: its a comment in a news article. Two: I’m pretty sure ‘worse’ things have been said in journals. Three: Sherwin snips some context to this quote to make it sound a little more vague – the full paragraph was:

If it turns out that the traditional mammal tree is right, Peterson won’t see that result as a defeat for microRNAs. It would just mean that something odd happened with mammalian microRNAs, he says. “That says something really interesting about the evolution of microRNAs and the construction of gene regulatory networks in mammalian evolution.”

That’s more or less true: unless Peterson has made a massive mistake somewhere we can conclude that microRNAs show a different phylogeny to the rest of our evidence, and if the latter were to triumph then the logical conclusion is indeed that “something odd happened with mammalian microRNAs.”

Before shifting topic Sherwin adds:

Meanwhile, the origin of mammal groups, miRNA notwithstanding, is contentious: “But the exact origins of modern cats, dogs, bears and seals are still controversial.”

A random, context-less quote from a 2005 textbook – truly evolution is in disarray!

Next up:

An April 2012 University of Wisconsin-Madison press release says that “something happened” regarding the cryptic Cambrian explosion:

The oceans teemed with life 600 million years ago, but the simple, soft-bodied creatures would have been hardly recognizable as the ancestors of nearly all animals on Earth today. Then something happened…a burst of evolution led to a flurry of diversification and increasing complexity, including the expansion of multicellular organisms and the appearance of the first shells and skeletons.

And? I fail to see the problem. I also don’t know what he put the ellipses in for – though I can see how the omitted “over several tens of millions of years” part could be inconvenient for the impression he’s trying to give.

Creation scientists suggest that if the world suffered a global flood 4,500 years ago, then the multitude of sophisticated ocean bottom-dwelling creatures (including those that are indeed 100-percent fish) found at the base of the Cambrian is to be expected. Evolutionists will have none of that, of course, and are driven to say—with a wave of the hand—only that “something happened,” and then proceed to use vague words such as “burst,” “flurry,” and “appearance.”

I’m pretty damn sure (oh no, what language!) that there are no “100-percent fish” at the very base of the Cambrian – they are more mid-to-late, from what I read. We could go on about the ‘Cambrian explosion’ and creationism, but needless to say their own explanations seem a bit hand wavy at times (what’s more, after saying that “something happened” the pesky evolutionists then went on to explain what that was). I must also disagree that the words in this context are inappropriate or unduly vague, especially as that aspect was not the main topic of the article and the quote is from its introduction.

We find evolutionists are not averse to appealing to miracles to make their “rock-solid” case for evolution: “In the 50 million years between agnathan and chondrichithian divergence, something mysterious, even miraculous occurred: the adaptive immune system evolved.” “Miraculous”? How did such blatantly unscientific language made it past the editorial review process?

I think the word is “figurative.” This is, at least, a proper academic paper, and not a news release. But I’m not sure what the problem Sherwin has with the use of this language – they used “fascinating” too, what kind of kids book did they think they were writing in? – in the abstract of a paper where they go into detail at a later point. Scientific papers don’t have to be bland.

Evolution-based textbooks also use imprecise language: “Sometime, somewhere in the Precambrian era, a major milestone occurred in the evolution of life on earth.”

“Sometime”? Evolutionists preach the Precambrian represents more than 85 percent of their “geologic time”! The evolutionists’ vague explanations containing comments such as “something happened” and “sometime, somewhere” do not encourage credibility in the science community.

The implication there is that it was fairly late in the period. As this quote is, once again, entirely out of its context we can’t exactly pass down sentencing on such fragmentary evidence – it too likely went on to more detail. While we’re on the subject of naughty things in textbooks, I’ve been meaning to show you this question from my biology workbook for a while:

From my biology workbook

I’m sure everything else Sherwin has found just pales in comparison to this obvious anti-creationist dig.

Now this has to high rank among the funniest paragraphs I’ve seen from the ICR:

Creationists have respected peer-reviewed journals—such as Journal of Creation, Creation Research Society Quarterly, and Answers Research Journal—that look at the creation as the product of the Creator’s work, not chance and extreme time periods. Creationists have published research utilizing scientific methodology rather than ambiguous explanations, including the formidable eight-year RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth) project.

In conclusion:

Evolutionists have the opportunity to technically address and evaluate the scientific research by the non-Darwinian community. Unfortunately, they do an end-run around the peer review process and write intemperate comments in various blogs and nonscientific publications. This is not how the process of true scientific research operates.

I wonder who he’s wining about. It could be me – I do know they know about this blog – but there are plenty of other more high profile anti creationist bloggers he could be expressing his butthurt over. Just remember: if the creationists win, we wont be allowed to freely discuss science in the blogosphere any more, especially not with the style of language of your choice. Which is unfortunate, because this is increasingly becoming an integral part of the scientific process.


*I did say that I’d bring that up at some point.

One thought on “Something Happened

  1. “Evolutionists have the opportunity to technically address and evaluate the scientific research by the non-Darwinian community. ”

    Do they, indeed? Do they have the opportunity to publish rebuttals in those “peer-reviewed creation science journals”?

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