April 2010


The chimp Y chromosome has now been fully sequenced, and the results are astounding.  A study in Nature reveals that the chimp Y chromosome is radically different than the human Y chromosome.[1]  The chimp’s Y chromosome has only two-thirds the number of distinct genes/gene families, and 47% of the protein coding regions compared to its human counterpart.  Furthermore, more than 30% of the entire chimp Y chromosome has no counterpart in humans.  Even those segments that do have counterparts in the human Y chromosome are often located in different regions of the chromosome. 

One the lead researchers, David Page, told Nature News that “it looks like there’s been a dramatic renovation or reinvention of the Y chromosome in the chimpanzee and human lineages.”[2]  Of course, this reinvention has to be explained in terms of common descent, so they speculate that the chimp Y chromosome experienced a loss of DNA, while humans experienced a gain.  The surprise of the scientists involved, however, demonstrates that this find is counter-intuitive to Darwinian expectations.

HT: Evolution News & Views


[1]Jennifer F. Hughes, David Page, et al, “Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in structure and gene content”; Nature 463, 536-539 (28 January 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature08700; Received 3 August 2009; Accepted 24 November 2009; Published online 13 January 2010; available from http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7280/full/nature08700.html; Internet; accessed 30 April 2010.
[2]Lizzie Buchen, “The Fickle Y Chromosome”; available from http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100113/full/463149a.html; Internet; accessed 30 April 2010/

I have little confidence in the United Nations.  In my opinion, it is a spineless political organization.  Giving Iran a seat on the human rights body, “Commission on the Status of Women,” however, lets me know that the UN is corrupted beyond repair.  If Hitler was alive today, surely he would be given a chair on a committee for Jewish rights.  Unbelievable.

Hawaii’s Senate approved a bill providing civil unions to same-sex and opposite-sex couples in January 2010.  Yesterday, their House of Representatives approved it as well.  It remains to be seen whether the governor will veto it.

Franklin Graham was invited to the Pentagon to offer a prayer on May 6 for the National Day of Prayer.  The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (of all entities) is objecting to Graham’s invitation because he has called Islam an “evil” religion, and they say his presence will offend Muslim soldiers.  So now the Army is considering rescinding the invitation.  Maybe I failed to get the memo, but the last I checked part of religious freedom is the freedom to think one’s own religion is true, and all others are false (and perhaps even evil).  

This is what religious pluralism gets you: censorship of anyone who thinks their faith is actually true, and is willing to spell out the logical corollary to this belief, namely, that other religions must be false.  That religious view will not be tolerated by the preachers of religious tolerance.

In Isaiah 55:8-9 we read the word of YHWH: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

In my experience, this Scripture is usually quoted in two contexts: (1) when we are ignorant of some knowledge; (2) when our position is being decimated by our opponent’s evidence, and we lack a sufficient response.  Neither use is legitimate because both are taking the passage out of its context.  

Verse 7 reads, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”  The Lord’s way/thoughts are contrasted to the ways/thoughts of the wicked, not the righteous.  The Lord’s point is that His ways/thoughts are superior to the ways/thought of the wicked, not that His ways/thoughts are incomprehensible to mankind in general.  That’s not to say we can fully understand God and His ways, but it is to say that this passage is not teaching divine incomprehensibility, but rather divine superiority.

(Note: Read Part 3a of the series before reading this post)

Viruses

The HIV virus mutates at the evolutionary speed limit: 10,000 times faster than most cells such as malaria.[1] And its genome is rather small (nine genes versus thousands in malaria).[2] Its small size combined with a short generation time (1-2 days) and super-rapid mutation rate means every single nucleotide in the HIV genome will mutate 10,000 to 100,000 times in every infected person every day, and thus double point mutations like the one that made malaria immune to Chloroquine occur in every person every day.  In fact, over the past several decades every possible combination of up to six point mutations has occurred in HIV somewhere in the world.  If RM drives macroevolutionary changes in organisms, then we should observe macroevolution in the HIV virus since it experiences more mutations than any other organism.  But we don’t.  HIV has run the gamut of all possible mutations to its genome, and yet with all of these mutations in a population of 100 billion billion viruses, no new cellular machinery has been created, and no new organism has developed! HIV is still HIV.  It still contains the same number of proteins, still performs the same function, and still binds to its host the same way it always has.  There have been no significant biochemical changes.  Even gene duplication has failed to produce any new biological information.

(more…)

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln must be rolling over in their grave.  A U.S. District judge in Wisconsin has declared that national days of prayer are unconstitutional because they violate the separation of church and state.  

Those like this judge are very confused about the first amendment.  What was intended to grant the freedom of religion is being used to guarantee a freedom from religion.  The 1st amendment did not demand that the government be purely secular with no mention of, or interaction with religion.  Washington and Lincoln et al proclaimed national days of prayer and fasting, and no one ever thought of these acts as being unconstitutional.  In fact, for more than 200 years no one thought so.  The text hasn’t changed, so how did we discover something that those who penned and ratified the amendment didn’t know about?  

These kinds of rulings are clearly not based on the text of the Constitution, because the Constitution does not prohibit religious expression, even by the government as the government.  It only prohibits Congress from passing a law establishing a particular religion as the nation’s religion.  It does not proscribe government officials from speaking about religion, or establishing a day of prayer.  After all, no religion is established as our nation’s religion by proclaiming a national day of prayer.  Prayer is common to many religions.  This ruling is based on the secularist philosophy of the day, not the Constitution.

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