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85 of 130 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pseudoscientific Pap, June 27, 2008
This review is from: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood (7th Edition) (Hardcover)
This review is based on the online edition of the Seventh Edition of "In the Beginning" which is more recent than my print copy. It is one very long series of errors and misrepresentations. Brown, like many "creation scientists," cites and quotes many actual scientists lending an apparent connection between his work and reality. If a reader does not have the educational background, or time to personally read these citations, they might be fooled into thinking there is some support for Brown's wild ideas.

I'll take two examples as typical of Brown's disconnect from reality. In his "Frequently Asked Questions" section titled "68. Old DNA, Bacteria, and Proteins?" Brown cites Giuseppe Geraci et al., "Microbes in Rocks and Meteorites," (Rendiconti Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Vol. 12, No. 9, 2001, p. 51) for support of the notion that "fountains of the deep" (see Genesis 7:11) blew massive amounts of the earth into outer space. This article was published with a long list of objections and cautions that its conclusions were provisional, and that there were many doubts regarding methods used by the principal investigators. Brown ignores these cautions, nor does he note that over forty years of meteorite investigations have always found terrestrial contamination to be the source of microorganisms found in meteorites, e.g. "Bacterial Contamination of Some Carbonaceous Meteorites" J. ORO T. TORNABENE (1965 SCIENCE, VOL. 150, pg. 1047-1048). The probability of contamination increases in direct proportion to the amount of handeling the samples are subjected to under unsterile conditions. The two meteorite samples examined by Giuseppe Geraci had been recovered, handled and publicly displayed for many decades, one for over a century. Brown builds everything on this one error having ignored decades of related research.

In the same section, Brown claims that the discovery of "proteins, soft tissue, and blood compounds preserved in dinosaur bones" preclude an ancient earth. I have dealt with these topics at considerable length elsewhere, and the links to these articles are in the first comment below. In short, Brown's argument fails on this as well.

In a section on transitional fossils, Brown serves up massive numbers of out-of-context and manipulated "quotes." These are known as quotemines and most of those used by Brown are exposed in the "Quote Mine Project" maintained by the TalkOrigins Archive, which is dedicated to exposing the sort of creationist chicanery as Browns book.

Brown makes the statement, "If evolution happened, many other giant leaps must also have occurred: the first photosynthesis, cold-blooded to warm-blooded animals, floating marine plants to vascular plants, placental mammals to marsupials, egg-laying animals to animals that bear live young, insect metamorphosis, the transition of mammals to the sea (whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and manatees), the transition of reptiles to the sea (plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs), and on and on."

Lets just look at a few gross errors in that paragraph. First is the most obvious error regarding the supposed transition of "placental mammals to marsupials." Sorry Walt, it didn't happen that way. If you reverse it from marsupials to placental mammals you will be still wrong. The evolution of cyanobacteria and the evolutionary innovation of endosymbiosis lead directly to the evolution of photosynthesis, and while not complete, these must first be refuted scientifically before Brown can claim they cannot be completed. Then there is the question of sea mammals. Brown lumps three major groups, the Cetaceans (whales and allies), the Pinipeds (seals, walrus, sea lions) and the Sirenians (manatee, sea cow and dugong). Demanding a common group of fossils for these would be asinine. The transitional fossils for the cetaceans are the best known and the most accessible general reader source is from the laboratory of Dr. J. G. M. Thewissen, also an excellent source on the evolution of Sirenians. The known transitional fossils fall into six families, Indocetidae, Pakicetidae, Ambulocetidae, Remingtonocetidae, Protocetidae, Dorudontidae, and Basilosauridae. The transitional fossils of the Sirenians are less well studied with only about fifty specimens. None the less, the broad outline connecting the elephants, hippos, and manatees is known. The early transitional fossils for the pinipeds are the least well known, but one in which I have personal experience. The best fossil specimen in the world (over 90% complete) of the most likely ancestor of the pinipeds, Gomphotaria pugnax, was discovered by one of my former students and is curated by a museum where I was a director. Gomphoria shows the fossil connection between the pinipeds and ancient ancestors of bears.

These basic errors show why engineers should not write about biology or paleontology- they are ignorant. It is for these reasons that I wish there were "negative" points I could award to Brown's pernicious book.
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Showing 1-10 of 28 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 27, 2008 12:34:58 PM PDT
Gary S. Hurd says:
I would like to offer a few links to material I mentioned in my review;

Walt Brown's book is available on the web at

Misrepresented quotes used by Walt Brown. You will find the entire quote, and a discussion;

My articles refuting the "ancient proteins equal a young earth" error

"Dino-blood and the Young Earth"

"Ancient Molecules and Modern Myths"

"Dino Blood Redux"

The laboratory website of Professor Thewissen;

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 12:00:46 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 14, 2008 12:02:09 PM PDT
I am still looking for the scientific evidence that empirically demonstrates one species' transition to another as is the basis for the as still unproven "theory of evolution". Evolution cannot account for human speech/languages, the human spirit, or even the complex interconnected systems of the eyes, ears, and brains.

It is only blind faith in this philosophy without a schred of scientific basis in fact that perpetuate what on the face of it is a silly and insupportable notion.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 12:03:30 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jul 14, 2008 12:04:08 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 12:05:02 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 2:19:00 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 14, 2008 2:40:08 PM PDT
Gary S. Hurd says:
There are a good number of directly observed speciation events. Here is one from "Some More Observed Speciation Events"

Two strains of Drosophila paulistorum developed hybrid sterility of male offspring between 1958 and 1963. Artificial selection induced strong intra-strain mating preferences.

(Test for speciation: sterile offspring and lack of interbreeding affinity.)

Dobzhansky, Th., and O. Pavlovsky, 1971. "An experimentally created incipient species of Drosophila", Nature 23:289-292.

Another compilation is "Observed Instances of Speciation"

There are many more, but these are the easist to read for a non-scientist. The sad fact is that many people have been lied to by professional creationsits.

The language question is actually quite amusing. In my doctoral disseration over 30 years ago, I used the methods of numerical taxonomy (the evolutionary science of identifying species) to analyze linguistic variations. Some recent articles, "Languages Evolve in Punctuational Bursts"
Quentin D. Atkinson, Andrew Meade, Chris Venditti, Simon J. Greenhill, Mark Pagel, Science 1 February 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5863, p. 588, and "Quantifying the evolutionary dynamics of language" Erez Lieberman, Jean-Baptiste Michel, Joe Jackson, Tina Tang, Martin A. Nowak, Nature 449, 713 - 716 (11 Oct 2007), carry this reasearch forward even today.

When, or if, you make a serious attempt to learn about the sciences, you must start by avoiding the untruths commonly presented by professional creationists.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2009 8:42:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 4, 2009 9:43:28 AM PST
Hypoxy says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2009 12:21:54 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2009 1:12:51 PM PST
Gary S. Hurd says:
No, in over 40 years, all reports of "live outer space microbes" have been from contaminants. We have samples that are securely uncontaminated- collected from frozen matrix shortly after impact for example. And these samples are all devoid of microbes, while often rich in organics.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2009 8:14:56 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 4, 2009 5:30:40 AM PST
Hypoxy says:
All this is contamination, huh? (You lost me at "". That site will shrivel your brain to a peanut.)

Minerals and isotopes in meteorites are remarkably similar to those on Earth.32
Some meteorites contain sugars,59 salt crystals containing liquid water,60 and possible cellulose.61
Other meteorites contain limestone,62 which, on Earth, forms only in liquid water. [See "The Origin of Limestone" on pages 226-231.]
Three meteorites contain excess amounts of left-handed amino acids63-a sign of once-living matter. [See "Handedness: Left and Right" on page 15.]
A few meteorites show that "salt-rich fluids analogous to terrestrial brines" flowed through their veins.64
Some meteorites have about twice the heavy hydrogen concentration as Earth's water today.65 As explained in the preceding chapter and in "Energy in the Subterranean Water" on page 435, this heavy hydrogen came from the subterranean chambers.
About 86% of all meteorites contain chondrules, which are best explained by the hydroplate theory. [See "Chondrules" on page 305.]
Seventy-eight types of living bacteria have been found in two meteorites after extreme precautions were taken to avoid contamination.66 Bacteria need liquid water to live, grow, and reproduce. Obviously, liquid water does not exist inside meteoroids whose temperatures in outer space are near absolute zero (-460°F). Therefore, the bacteria must have been living in the presence of liquid water before being launched into space. Once in space, they quickly froze and became dormant. Had bacteria originated in outer space, what would they have eaten?
Meteorites containing chondrules, salt crystals, limestone, water, possible cellulose, left-handed amino acids, sugars, living bacteria, terrestrial-like brines, excess heavy hydrogen, and Earthlike patterns of minerals, isotopes, and other components67 implicate Earth as their source-and the fountains of the great deep as the powerful launcher.

66 "Some different microbial species, derived from samples of [two] meteorites, have been cultured, cloned and classified by 16S rDNA typing and found to be not essentially different from present day organisms [here on Earth]; they also appear sensitive to growth inhibition by specific antibiotics." Giuseppe Geraci et al., "Microbes in Rocks and Meteorites," Rendiconti Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Vol. 12, No. 9, 2001, p. 51.


Posted on Feb 23, 2009 5:18:00 AM PST
T. Jones says:
The data that Gary Hurd quotes is old and out of date by quite a bit. The odds of transitional evolution in any fashion are so astronomical as to render it impossible. As a geologist I have yet to see any shred of evidence that supports the transition hypothesis. I might suggest you update your comments with current data that is actually helpful and relevant to the discussion instead of rehashing very old irrelevant data points that have repeatedly been proven to be patently wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2009 11:15:00 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 24, 2009 5:56:22 PM PST
Gary S. Hurd says:
I doubt that Mr. Jones is a geologist, or any sort of scientist. Earlier I presented a link and an example related to the fact we have documented the evolution of new species. Jones makes an inane objection that these observations were "old." Indeed, I sought out an old example to expose that the creationists, like Walt Brown, have lied for many years that no such observations had been made. Here are some more starting with this month;

A large review of multiple species is, Sergey Gavrilets and Jonathan B. Losos "Adaptive Radiation: Contrasting Theory with Data" Science 6 February 2009 323: 732-737

Some specific examples for plants, insects, fish, birds, lizards and mammals follows.

Here are five examples sampled from: "Observed Instances of Speciation" by Joseph Boxhorn, 1995

Evening Primrose (Oenothera gigas)
While studying the genetics of the evening primrose, Oenothera lamarckiana, de Vries (1905) found an unusual variant among his plants. O. lamarckiana has a chromosome number of 2N = 14. The variant had a chromosome number of 2N = 28. He found that he was unable to breed this variant with O. lamarckiana. He named this new species O. gigas.

Kew Primrose (Primula kewensis)
Digby (1912) crossed the primrose species Primula verticillata and P. floribunda to produce a sterile hybrid. Polyploidization occurred in a few of these plants to produce fertile offspring. The new species was named P. kewensis. Newton and Pellew (1929) note that spontaneous hybrids of P. verticillata and P. floribunda set tetraploid seed on at least three occasions. These happened in 1905, 1923 and 1926.

Owenby (1950) demonstrated that two species in this genus were produced by polyploidization from hybrids. He showed that Tragopogon miscellus found in a colony in Moscow, Idaho was produced by hybridization of T. dubius and T. pratensis. He also showed that T. mirus found in a colony near Pullman, Washington was produced by hybridization of T. dubius and T. porrifolius. Evidence from chloroplast DNA suggests that T. mirus has originated independently by hybridization in eastern Washington and western Idaho at least three times (Soltis and Soltis 1989). The same study also shows multiple origins for T. micellus.

Drosophila paulistorum
Dobzhansky and Pavlovsky (1971) reported a speciation event that occurred in a laboratory culture of Drosophila paulistorum sometime between 1958 and 1963. The culture was descended from a single inseminated female that was captured in the Llanos of Colombia. In 1958 this strain produced fertile hybrids when crossed with conspecifics of different strains from Orinocan. From 1963 onward crosses with Orinocan strains produced only sterile males. Initially no assortative mating or behavioral isolation was seen between the Llanos strain and the Orinocan strains. Later on Dobzhansky produced assortative mating (Dobzhansky 1972).

Apple Maggot Fly (Rhagoletis pomonella)
Rhagoletis pomonella is a fly that is native to North America. Its normal host is the hawthorn tree. Sometime during the nineteenth century it began to infest apple trees. Since then it has begun to infest cherries, roses, pears and possibly other members of the rosaceae. Quite a bit of work has been done on the differences between flies infesting hawthorn and flies infesting apple. There appear to be differences in host preferences among populations. Offspring of females collected from on of these two hosts are more likely to select that host for oviposition (Prokopy et al. 1988). Genetic differences between flies on these two hosts have been found at 6 out of 13 allozyme loci (Feder et al. 1988, see also McPheron et al. 1988). Laboratory studies have shown an asynchrony in emergence time of adults between these two host races (Smith 1988). Flies from apple trees take about 40 days to mature, whereas flies from hawthorn trees take 54-60 days to mature. This makes sense when we consider that hawthorn fruit tends to mature later in the season that apples. Hybridization studies show that host preferences are inherited, but give no evidence of barriers to mating. This is a very exciting case. It may represent the early stages of a sympatric speciation event (considering the dispersal of R. pomonella to other plants it may even represent the beginning of an adaptive radiation).

What is fascinating is that the increasing genetic isolation of the two races of R. pomonella has led to the reproductive isolation/speciation of the parasitic wasp Diachasma alloeum (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) which feeds on the rapidly evolving fly. "Sequential Sympatric Speciation Across Trophic Levels" Andrew A. Forbes, Thomas H.Q. Powell, Lukasz L. Stelinski, James J. Smith, Jeffrey L. Feder, Science 6 February 2009 323: 776-779

Here are two examples sampled from: Some More Observed Speciation Events
1992-1997 by Chris Stassen, James Meritt, Anneliese Lilje, L. Drew Davis

Rapid speciation of the Faeroe Island house mouse, which occurred in less than 250 years after man brought the creature to the island. (Test for speciation in this case is based on morphology. It is unlikely that forced breeding experiments have been performed with the parent stock.) Reference: Stanley, S., 1979. Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, San Francisco, W.H. Freeman and Company. p. 41

Formation of five new species of cichlid fishes which formed since they were isolated less than 4000 years ago from the parent stock, Lake Nagubago. (Test for speciation in this case is by morphology and lack of natural interbreeding. These fish have complex mating rituals and different coloration. While it might be possible that different species are inter-fertile, they cannot be convinced to mate.) Reference: Mayr, E., 1970. Populations, Species, and Evolution, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press. p. 348

Nevo, E., 1991, Evolutionary Theory and process of active speciation and adaptive radiation in subterranean mole rats, spalax-ehrenbergi superspecies, in Israel, Evolutionary Biology, Volume 25, pages 1-125.

There is a large literature on new species emerging among new colonies of Anole lizards. Here are just a few examples:

Anolis oculatus undergoes rapid subpopulation isolations following drought, or the introduction of a preditor, Anolis sagrei. Reference: Roger S. Thorpe "Population Evolution and Island Biogeography" Science 16 December 2005 310: 1778-1779

New species of Anolis on Indian Ocean Islands. Reference: Marguerite A. Butler, Stanley A. Sawyer, Jonathan B. Losos "Sexual dimorphism and adaptive radiation in Anolis lizards" Nature 447, 202 - 205 (10 May 2007)

Anurag A. Agrawal "Phenotypic Plasticity in the Interactions and Evolution of Species" Science 12 October 2001 294: 321-326

More on fish;

Andrew P. Hendry, John K. Wenburg, Paul Bentzen, Eric C. Volk, Thomas P. Quinn "Rapid Evolution of Reproductive Isolation in the Wild: Evidence from Introduced Salmon" Science 20 October 2000: Vol. 290. no. 5491, pp. 516 - 518
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