New Perspectives Symposium
Welcome to those of you who may have been referred here by sources who are opposed to the Biological Information New Perspectives critical examination of macroevolutionary hypotheses. In particular, the assumption that time, mutations, and selection were sufficient to have generated the incomprehensibly vast amounts of new genetic information necessary to have produced the myriad diversity of organisms both extant and extinct.
This page was created for my students and originally had a list of the symposium topics without names of the presenters. That list has been removed due to its misuse and distortion by various blogs on the web.
I am a former atheist and evolutionist. Years ago, Dr. Richard Lumsden (now deceased) was one of the courageous individuals who was instrumental in convincing me that time, mutation, and selection were not sufficient to produce bio-info. He was professor and dean of the graduate department of Biology at Tulane University in New Orleans. Dr. Lumsen was awarded the highest international award in parasitology. He too was once an atheistic evolutionist whose mind was changed by accumulating evidence. He was fired simply for admitting that he had become convinced that mutation, time, and selection were insufficient to have produced bio-info.
Over the past few weeks (today's date is March 1, 2012), some sites on the web have linked to this page as if it somehow represented the BINPS. Those making such an assumption either did not carefully read the page or deliberately chose to misrepresent it. This page has always been a simple and personal review of the BINPS. This webpage from its first draft made it clear that I was merely an attendee of the BINPS (and probably the least qualified to attend since I am simply a college prep high school honors biology teacher seeking to train my students to scientifically challenge all hypotheses, theories, and laws).
The Bio-Info conference was an inspiring example of truly critical, logikos thinking in the scientific community. The symposium was not sponsored by Cornell, though Dr. John Sanford, Cornell geneticist and inventor of the Gene Gun was a principle coordinator.
* (Sanford is the inventor of the Biolistic Gene Gun for genetic engineering, Cornell professor for 30 years, 80 scientific papers, 30 patents, and author of GENETIC ENTROPY: The Mystery of the Genome. (See below)
I have read some of the comments online and found them to be amazingly inaccurate not only of the BINPS but even of the clear information on my website. I do not have a PhD and I have made it clear on my website and whenever I travel that I am merely a science teacher, not a scientist. As a high school teacher, I have taken the knowledge I gleaned from the presenters at the BINPS and attempted to "translate" it for the high school level, including a few very simplified graphs. Sadly, but not surprisingly, there are plenty of people – even “professionals”, who have no problem grossly misrepresenting others in order to achieve their desired agenda.
I strongly recommend you read or at least peruse the small yet internationally respected book by Thomas Kuhn entitled, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn's book directly addresses the struggle in science between competing pradigms. The history of science is a series of difficult, emotional, and often "political" conflicts (Kuhn calls them revolutions) during which supporters of old paradigms sometimes accuse supporters of new paradigms of being "non-scientific" - in spite of new, significant evidence. That is what is happening today in the current scientific debate regarding the origin of biological information.
True "science" is the critical examination and challenge of prevailing hypotheses, theories, and laws, as new evidence is discovered. When a particular science subject becomes "off-limits" for such challenge, then it is no longer merely a science debate but has then become a political and ideological conflict between opposing worldview presuppositions. As Dr. Kuhn brilliantly describes in his book, such an interim period of debate sadly often degenerates to ad hominem name-calling especially by supporters of the old paradigm. This has been one of the primary barriers to scientific advancement in the past. Therefore, I highly respect the courageous, scientists (many who are world-renowned) based upon the newest and best evidence as they scientifically challenge the prevailing old and potentially out-of-date paradigm regarding the origin of bio-info.
"What makes the origin of life and of the genetic code a disturbing riddle is this: the genetic code is without any biological function unless it is translated; that is, unless it leads to the synthesis of the proteins whose structure is laid down by the code. But … the machinery by which the cell (at least the non-primitive cell, which is the only one we know) translates the code consists of at least fifty macromolecular components which are themselves coded in the DNA. Thus the code can not be translated except by using certain products of its translation. This constitutes a baffling circle; a really vicious circle, it seems, for any attempt to form a model or theory of the genesis of the genetic code. Thus we may be faced with the possibility that the origin of life (like the origin of physics) becomes an impenetrable barrier to science, and a residue to all attempts to reduce biology to chemistry and physics." (Emphasis added)
Karl Popper, one of the most respected philosophers of science in modern times - Popper, K.R., 1974. Scientific Reduction and the Essential Incompleteness of All Science. In Ayala, F. and Dobzhansky, T., eds., Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, University of California Press, Berkeley, p. 270.
(please examine carefully the resources below)
BINPS Published - PDF
"In the spring of 2011, a diverse group of scientists gathered at Cornell University to discuss their research into the nature and origin of biological information. This symposium brought together experts in information theory, computer science, numerical simulation, thermodynamics, evolutionary theory, whole organism biology, developmental biology, molecular biology, genetics, physics, biophysics, mathematics, and linguistics. This volume presents new research by those invited to speak at the conference.
The contributors to this volume use their wide-ranging expertise in the area of biological information to bring fresh insights into the many explanatory difficulties associated with biological information. These authors raise major challenges to the conventional scientific wisdom, which attempts to explain all biological information exclusively in terms of the standard mutation/selection paradigm.
Several clear themes emerged from these research papers: 1) Information is indispensable to our understanding of what life is; 2) Biological information is more than the material structures that embody it; 3) Conventional chemical and evolutionary mechanisms seem insufficient to fully explain the labyrinth of information that is life. By exploring new perspectives on biological information, this volume seeks to expand, encourage, and enrich research into the nature and origin of biological information."
A Few Recommended Resources
Dr. John Sanford
[Dr. Sanford's book demonstrates the statistical & scientific impossibility of the claim that mutations are a mechanism that could have created new genetic information to make new kinds of creatures.]
“Modern Darwinism is . . . . that man is merely the product of random mutations plus natural selection. . . . . It is for this reason that the overwhelming majority of youth who start out with a belief that there is more to life than mere chemistry – will lose their faith while at college. I believe this is also the cause of the widespread self-destructive and self-denigrating behaviors we see throughout our culture." Dr. Sanford
Many clips of Dr. Sanford's presentations are on YOUTUBE -
Praise for the book:
"The question posed has caused much recent debate. The answer given by these authors is an emphatic "No!" Firstly, they demonstrate with compelling logic that theistic evolution has serious theological consequences for the gospel. Secondly (and this should make us weep), the theistic evolutionary project is so unnecessary. As the second part of this first-class survey makes clear, there is actually no compelling reason to accept Darwinism anyway. Homological arguments have bitten the dust, junk DNA turns out to be anything but junk, and as for the origin of life itself, biologists haven't got a clue. In terms of recent discoveries in molecular biology, Darwinism is not only wrong but irrelevant, a Victorian relic."
Dr Colin Reeves, Professor of Operational Research in the School of Mathematical and Information Sciences (MIS) at Coventry University
"This book is much needed. As a nuclear physicist, I have observed reconciliation between science and theology in numerous areas, not because of modified theology, but because continuing scientific discovery has overturned nineteenth-century perspectives that sought to challenge biblical theology. The current progress in molecular biology is beyond Darwin’s wildest imagination, and readers would be well advised to examine the evidence. As one who lived under Communism, I understand too well that the more a society seeks to enforce an idea, the more important it is to question it."
Dalibor Krupa, Research Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Institute of Physics of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia
"When it comes to the debate about reconciling evolutionary theory to the Christian faith, some theistic evolutionist friends give the impression that, ‘They think it’s all over!’ ‘It isn’t now!’ is my response after reading this collection of very accessible essays from a variety of scientists and theologians, who beg to diff er from that conclusion. Read,be challenged and be ready to think again."
- Steve Brady, Principal, Moorlands College, Christchurch
"This collection of fi ne essays makes an essential contribution to the ongoing discussion among Christians about how to relate biblical revelation with ongoing scientifi c eff orts to understand the history of life on earth. Although addressed primarily to Christian believers, the book should be helpful to a wide segment of the public who want to expose their thinking to top-quality cutting-edge arguments for a view of the history of life that gives fuller weight to divine revelation. Here you can find views that are informed in a balanced way by the best current science and biblical revelation. This reviewer believes the book will helpfully focus discussions of a Christian view of neo-Darwinian evolution on the key issues."
- Richard A. Carhart, Professor Emeritus of Physics,University of Illinois at Chicago
"The title of Should Christians Embrace Evolution? poses a question that thoughtful Christians must face, in light of the arguments for theistic evolution being off ered by Denis Alexander in England and by Francis Collins in America. To meet the challenge of an evolutionary philosophy that explains life as the product of natural causes alone, we all need help from Christians with expertise in science and theology. Each of us must in the end come to a personal decision about which experts are suffi ciently trustworthy that we should accept their guidance in forming our views about which things are real and which are only imaginary. The experts in science and theology who have contributed chapters to Should Christians Embrace Evolution? are of the trustworthy kind, and their words of wisdom will be very helpful to Christians who are struggling to sort out confl icting claims and arrive at the truth."
- Phillip E. Johnson, Professor of Law Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, author of Darwin on Trial
"Well-informed, up-to-date and powerfully argued, this collection of theological, philosophical and scientific essays by distinguished authors shows that the theistic evolution on off er from Denis Alexander, Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller conflicts not only with the best biblical exegesis, but also with a sober assessment of thescientific data.
The theological contributors show that accommodation to Darwinism undermines orthodox teaching about creation, the fall, and redemption itself. The scientists show that the complex information common to all life could not arise from materialistic processes, and that the popular ‘junk DNA’ and human chromosomalfusion arguments for Darwinism dissolve under scrutiny. Evangelical Christians pondering whether they should embrace Darwinism owe it to their integrity to read this book."
- Angus Menuge, Professor of Philosophy, Conc
Dr. Werner Gitt
New Book - WITHOUT EXCUSE:
Dr. Sanford of Cornell says:
"Dr. Gitt's central thesis is profound - that information is a non-material entity which is foundational to all life, and it can never arise spontaneously from strictly materialistic processes. He provides the most rigorous and useful definition of information thus far ... [distinguishing it] from things which are often mistakenly called information. Dr. Gitt shows that information only arises from an intelligent source - and that ultimately all useful information, including biological information, comes from God."