December 23, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Archive: Christmas Stories from 2005

Here are a couple of entries relating to Christmas from 18 years ago.

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How Apemen Learned to Give Christmas Presents    12/25/2005
For your Christmas amusement, some scientists think they have solved the evolution of gift giving. In an announcement on EurekAlert called “Why we give: New study finds evidence of generosity among our early human ancestors,” the introduction states, “A groundbreaking new study examines the origins of holiday giving and finds that our early human ancestors were frequently altruistic.” How could Michael Gurvin (UC Santa Barbara) figure this out, without human ancestors to observe or ask?  For his paper in the upcoming Feb. 2006 edition of Current Anthropology, he studied “food exchanges in two small-scale, non-market societies – a classic context for understanding the evolution of conditional cooperation in humans.”  He found that altruism is costly without some kind of payback, but he also found that close kin and neighbors unable to produce much food sometimes receive more than they give.

On the media front, the Science Channel has been airing a series called “The Rise of Man” during Christmas week. Producers seem to be getting more bold with skin. One episode showed tribes of completely nude Homo erectus humans in various stages of increasing enlightenment (these are played by actors, you know, with some creative facial makeup, but otherwise anatomically correct human bodies). Another showed a newly-evolved Homo sapiens tribe watching the effects of lightning in fear and awe. A delirious female falls to the ground in some kind of trance, jerking and babbling uncontrollably as the others look on with stupefied expressions. The narrator explains: and thus begins a new chapter in the rise of human consciousness: religion.

Cavorting in the wilderness with incomprehensible grunts – how did it come to this. (We’re not talking about the actors in The Rise of Man; we’re describing figuratively the evolutionary anthropologists.)

It’s superfluous to have to describe how dumb Gurvin’s theory is, but for those imprisoned in the mental concentration camps known as public schools, here are some suggested cerebral exercises to awaken one’s atrophied sensibilities. What are the empirical observations? Gurvin observed modern humans acting like human beings: understanding trade, and knowing how to give and care for the helpless. Do the observations connect at all with a story of the evolution of generosity? No. (Chimpanzees don’t act this way; see 10/28/2005 story). Did he establish any transitions from primate precursors to modern man? No. Did he explain the origin of true, unselfish giving? No. Did he tie altruism to a lucky random mutation? No. Does he have any way of proving that these non-market societies did not degenerate from advanced associations of highly-capable, intelligent human beings who were created with all their moral attributes? No. Does his theory destroy Christmas? Yes.

Gurvin approaches science like all Darwinists do: since evolution is already a fact in their own imaginations, research is just a metaphysical program for stuffing all data into their predetermined belief system. If he had to prove his speculation against criticism, like a true scientist, he would come up as naked as the actors in The Rise of Man. The Science Channel doesn’t debate the origin of humans; it just states as a matter of fact that this is the way it happened. Any disagreement is only between Darwinists about the details. That’s why we need to get the Darwin Party out of its cushy comfort zone of presumed authority and demand accountability. (By the way, did you notice how the title The Rise of Man assumes the myth of progress? Michael Ruse and Stephen Jay Gould would be appalled.)

Darwinians have had free reign for too long, and this is the result: naked grunting actors, and scientists grunting with intellectually naked theories. They need to be confronted with alternative scientific theories not woven out of materialistic cloth (the kind found in The Emperor’s New Clothes). They need to be confronted with the soundest criticisms of philosophers and theologians who have not been contaminated with Darwinian LSD, that universal acid that dissolves sound reasoning into hallucinations. Evolutionary storytelling in the journals and on TV only survives by being insulated from debate. The Darwin Party faithful cannot tolerate confrontation, because they fear the survival of the fittest ideas. The Science Channel doesn’t want confrontation, because it might jeopardize their agenda of pushing the envelope of prime-time prurience. The actors don’t want confrontation or they might have to put their clothes back on and get a real job. Isn’t it fun to slap on mud, make funny faces and grunt? Only on The Science Channel.

Tip: watch Survivorman instead; at least you’ll learn something that might come in handy on the next camping trip. Here’s a suggestion for an episode that might prove too much even for tough guy Les Stroud – surviving as a creationist at the university.

Evolution of the Christmas Tree:  Firs Tie Oaks in Fitness Race    12/24/2005
In the struggle for existence, the conifers should have lost, because when angiosperms appeared, they had fancier valve jobs. That’s the feeling of a story introduced by Elizabeth Pennisi on Science Now. “Those of us who celebrate Christmas tend to take fir and spruce trees for granted around the holiday season,” she quipped, “But without a special modification that allows these trees to efficiently transport water, we might be hanging our ornaments on a ficus instead, according to a new study.”  She explained:

In order for photosynthesis to occur, tall trees must supply their uppermost leaves with water, which is pulled up from the roots by evaporation. Angiosperms such as oaks and willows accomplish this using a series of centimeters-long, tube-shaped cellular pipes. Tiny valves made of cellulose membranes connect each “pipe” and help keep air bubbles out. Christmas trees and other conifers have much shorter pipe cells, however, and therefore must use many more valves than angiosperms. This should create more resistance and make it harder for them to transport water. But they don’t have any trouble at all, says John Sperry, a plant biologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. 

Sperry’s team measured water flow in 18 conifers, including bald cypress, junipers and redwoods, and compared results with 29 species of angiosperms. There was no essential difference. Conifers hoisted the water with equal ease, despite the shorter pipe cells. How do they do it?

The reason, says [Jarmila] Pittermann, has to do with key differences in the valves. Angiosperm valves are simple membranes full of miniscule pores. In conifers, the valves consist of a circle of impermeable tissue surrounded by porous tissue. The conifer’s pores are 100 times larger than those in angiosperms and allow water to pass through relatively easily. This efficiency more than makes up for the additional valves on the way to the tree top, Pittermann says.

The researchers said that this helps scientists understand water transport in wood. “But the work also points to how conifers, which predate angiosperms and are often considered primitive, were able to survive once angiosperms populated Earth,” Pennisi explains. “Without these very special cells, one biologist claimed “there wouldn’t be any conifers anymore” – presumably because they could not compete against the angiosperms. The work was published in Science.1  In the paper, the authors did not explain how or when the unique structure of the conifer valve evolved. They just said that without the adaptation, angiosperms would have a 38-fold advantage in water transport:

The superior hydraulics of the conifer pit are crucial for minimizing sapwood resistivity. If conifer tracheids had the pit resistance of angiosperms, their sapwood resistivity would increase by 38-fold…. This, added to the narrow diameter range of tracheids, would make it much more difficult for conifers to compete effectively with angiosperms….

 We conclude that the evolution of the torus-margo membrane within the gymnosperm lineage from homogenous pits was equivalent to the evolution of vessels within the angiosperms. The towering redwoods and the sweep of the boreal coniferous forest exist in no small part because of this clever microscopic valve.

1Pitterman et al., “Torus-Margo Pits Help Conifers Compete with Angiosperms,” Science, 23 December 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5756, p. 1924 | DOI: 10.1126/science.1120479.

What did evolution have to do with this story, really? Did it contribute anything of value, even an ornament to hang on the tree? The results were not what evolutionists expected. Conifers ruled the Jurassic forests, then along come angiosperms with superior plumbing, and there should have been no contest. Those old, primitive conifers should have gone the way of the dinosaurs, and our Christmas trees would look very different.

Sweep away the Darwinian mythology, and what remains? Two well-designed, highly successful groups of plants. They may have different ways of lifting water, but so what? From a design perspective, it would be just as productive a research program to find reasons for the difference. Clearly the conifers are doing well. The tallest trees in the world are conifers (see 04/22/2004). Conifers seem to do even better than angiosperms in many locations, such as at timberline, where they survive numbing cold storms and snow without even having to drop their needles. Nobody told them they were at a disadvantage against the new trees on the block.

The gem of this story is the beautifully-designed valves in conifers that allow them to pump thousands of gallons of water straight up, hundreds of feet into the air, to fill our world with beauty and dignity (see photos #1, #2, #3) while adding to the life-giving oxygen in the atmosphere. Pennisi jokingly entitled her article, “The Grinch Who (Almost) Stole Christmas” pitting angiosperms in a phony battle against their friends, the conifers. Not funny. The real Grinch is Charles Darwin.

Notice to readers: reporting will be sparse till January 2, 2024. If you feel CEH withdrawal symptoms news till then, remember that there are thousands of articles at this site going back 23 years. Explore a topic on the menu bar and see what you may have missed or might like to remember.

We wish the joy of Christ to you and yours this Christmas, and a happy New Year as we march boldly into 2024 with faith in the goodness of our Maker, knowing that good works done trusting his power will not be in vain.

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