For those interested in the cataclysmic goings-on in almost all areas of scientific investigation these days—probably most of our readers—here is a heaping helping of red meat.
Michael Behe and the Mystery of Molecular Machines
This documentary tells the story of Michael Behe’s transformation from mild-mannered biochemist to orthodoxy-challenging revolutionary through the publication of his path-breaking book challenging Darwinian evolution, Darwin’s Black Box. It also explores the rise of the broader intelligent design movement in biology, the attempt to silence supporters of intelligent design in federal court, and the eventual vindication of the ideas of Behe and others during the last decade. The documentary features new interviews not only with Behe but with philosophers of science Stephen Meyer and Paul Nelson, molecular biologist Douglas Axe, microbiologist Scott Minnich, political scientist John West, and a noted European scientist who recently announced his support for intelligent design in part because of the work of Michael Behe.
This is a short film covering a simplified overview of Behe’s history and work; much of the intelligent design information has been well covered in other films by Illustra Media (most of which have previously been reviewed here): Unlocking the Mystery of Life; Darwin’s Dilemma; Privileged Planet; Origin, et al.
One highlight here is Behe’s arguments on the intelligent design’s perspective on the Dover trial—the issue of irreducible complexity always providing a strong argument. Coverage of the bacteria flagellum is the star of this show.
The film begins with the narrator stating (as we view a swimmer and boaters): For thousands of years, humans have invented ways to propel themselves through water. But long before humans invented their propulsion systems, nature developed its own methods of moving through liquid space, not only in fish and in other aquatic creatures but in organisms so tiny they cannot be seen by the naked eye. Perhaps the most amazing propulsion system on our entire planet is one that exists in bacteria—it’s called the ‘flagellum’—driven by a motor with many distinct mechanical parts, each made of proteins.
And here, as always in Discovery Institute films, the graphics are excellent. The flagellum’s motor is shown resembling a human designed rotary engine. We see a universal joint, bushings, a stator, and a rotor. It has a drive shaft and its own clutch and braking system. The narrator advises that in some bacteria, the flagellum motor has been clocked at 100,000 revolutions per minute. It is bi-directional and can shift from forward to reverse almost instantaneously. Some scientists suggest that it operates at almost 100 percent energy efficiency. All of this occurs on a microscopic scale that is hard to imagine. The diameter of the flagellum motor is no more than five-millionths of a centimeter. The bacteria flagellum is one of many molecular machines that scientists have discovered in the last several decades, including energy-producing turbines, information-copying machines, and even robotic walking motors. The origin of these exquisite examples of nanotechnology is a mystery that has generated heated controversy among biologists over the past two decades. And it’s a mystery that has transformed one man into a scientific rebel willing to challenge one of the most cherished ideas of the scientific establishment—enter biologist Michael Behe.
Behe is an unlikely revolutionary. “I never was interested in stirring up the pot just for fun,” he explains, “I’m basically shy; I don’t like to give anybody unnecessary trouble.” He was just a mild-mannered professor at Lehigh University. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, one of America’s top research universities, and spent his early career as a member of the scientific establishment publishing peer-reviewed articles in science journals and receiving research funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health—but by the early 1990s, he was toying with heresy. “Another aspect of my personality is that I’m stubborn,” he says, “If I see something and I mention it and nobody has a good reason that they can answer me with, I’ll stick with it, especially in this area. I’m a scientist; I’m supposed to want to know how biochemical systems came to be.”
So, take a look at this one with an open mind. It’s a fascinating story. And remember the words of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer: “The scientist… must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.” It appears that Mr. Behe is on the right scientific track after all. As he puts it: “These issues will be decided upon by the evidence, one way or another.”
DVD – 60 Mins. (plus 44 Bonus Mins.) • $16.95 • 1-800-228-8381
THE LOST CIVILIZATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA
Steven E. Smoot
This film reveals why we haven’t heard much about the great civilizations that once existed on the North American continent and why evidences of their origins and connections to living Native Americans have passed out of place and time. Thousands of remarkable artifacts have been lost and most others largely ignored. In this film, archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists discuss the development of important theories of cultural evolution. These theories influenced Manifest Destiny and Native American policies, which led to the wanton destruction of many great ancient structures, earthworks, and artifacts—particularly as found in the many, immense mound structures that still amaze. Many of these arguments continue today. This documentary explores these controversies, ranging from the interpretation of remaining artifacts and structures, to recent DNA research. It explains why some of the many extraordinary discoveries relating to the possibility of American civilization before Columbus, made over a century ago, have been all but forgotten.
Smoot says that in researching the histories, he has identified a group of influential scholars in the 1800s who were closely associated with mound exploration—men who would be in a position to exert great sway over how the many anomalous artifacts coming to light would be treated. These men were hostile to any suggestion of pre-Columbian advancement in America, and they came together to form a sub-set of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Chief among them was Lewis Henry Morgan, a man who would, later, be referred to as the American Father of Anthropology, along with John Wesley Powell, would wield great influence. These individuals were responsible for casting doubt on the authenticity of many artifacts dating to before Columbus, calling their discoverers avocational, amateurish, and therefore, questionable.
But as the film points out, independent researchers who were making the discoveries were avocational, in the true sense of the word, since there was no professional archaeology at that time—no specialized journals of archaeology and no specialized conferences. All of that began in the late nineteenth century, but the field had been created by a lot of talented amateurs. As archaeology became institutionalized, a greater division formed between mainstream scientists and amateur archaeologists, who continued to accept artifacts that were purportedly pre-Columbian and that might suggest the presence of cultures from other parts of the world. This latter group has become known as the diffusionist school,
Diffusionists are scholars and amateur archaeologists who believe that contact between inhabitants of America and other geographies may have taken place before Christopher Columbus. Most scholars featured in this film believe that the ancestors of today’s Native Americans came to North America across a land bridge that had formed during the Ice Age. With perhaps only one exception by the Vikings, no outside contact with Native Americans prior to Christopher Columbus was believed to have occurred. Diffusionists, on the other hand, believe that ancient Native Americans, such as the Hopewell civilization, had traded, intermingled, or even originated from other cultures.
Many artifacts are shown throughout. Some of these are accepted as authentic by the scientific community today, while others are not. In many cases, authentic artifacts may be shown alongside controversial ones. This is done, in part, to underscore the difficulty in determining authenticity, also to illustrate the conflict that exists between mainstream anthropologists, archaeologists and diffusionists.
Are there linguistic evidences that may lend support to diffusionist ideas? A scholar of ancient languages states, in the film, that he has discovered that there are many symbols of the Micmac that are very close and similar to those of Ancient Egyptian. Bruce Porter Ph.D., in his History of Religion and Ancient Cultures, advises that many artifacts have been found that suggest the presence of Middle Eastern cultures in North America. Protestant priests, Catholic fathers, and Jewish rabbis were seeing possible links between Native Americans and ancient Israel. These links included written records with possible tie-ins to the ancient world. And Robert Fox, Ph.D., from Texas Tech University, said that there were certainly religious beliefs that the Native Americans may have been descendants of some Hebraic/Jewish/Israelite travelers to the Americas at different times, or of other Old World peoples at different times.
In 1881, John Wesley Powell declared: “Hence it will be seen that it is illegitimate to use any pictographic matter of a date anterior to the discovery of the continent by Columbus for historic purposes.” This means that Native Americans, even today, suffer from this policy, which effectively meant that Native Americans have no history. As you will hear in this film, nothing could be further from the truth.
If you aren’t familiar with these ancient mounds and earthworks, you will be amazed at those presented in this film. (Atlantis Rising has listed in its catalog the excellent books on these topics by Frank Joseph and Greg Little.)
The narrator questions: “Have these traditions affected our scientific thinking? Did we, because of cultural biases, fail to recognize the advanced nature of ancient mounds and artifacts?” Some answers are here and there are more to ponder. Wouldn’t we all like to know just what exactly might be found in all those boxes stored away in the sub-sub-basements of the Smithsonian and other museums?
DVD – 63 Min. • $19.95 • 1-800-228-8381
THE HEALING FIELD:
Exploring Energy & Consciousness
There are many reasons why energy medicine is becoming so popular—it’s effective, it’s gentle, it’s noninvasive, and it doesn’t have side effects, according to Dr. Linnie Thomas, who is a healing touch instructor and the author of The Encyclopedia of Energy Medicine. She advises that approximately 55% of the population is now using alternative medicine and integrative medicine because they are getting results, and it’s a lot cheaper than going to a doctor.
This special-extended-edition documentary explores breakthroughs in quantum physics, genetics, energy medicine, and mind-body techniques. You’ll see renowned practitioners, several previously reviewed in AR; hear inspiring healing stories; and discover how energy medicine is changing our health, our society, and our future.
The introduction begins by advising us that the old, conventional model of relying on surgery and prescription drugs is being challenged by a wave of dramatic, non-invasive, energy-based techniques. While many of these techniques are actually centuries old and are considered controversial by mainstream Western medicine, they are generating worldwide studies with remarkable results.
Nice to hear! First up was Dr. Bruce Lipton (Biology of Belief), well known to us, as we’ve reviewed him many times. Since he’s a preeminent scientist in the field of quantum physics, DNA, and stem-cell biology, he provides, in our opinion, the best explanation of how human biology works: In today’s world of healthcare, there are two models of how the human biology works—one is based on the physical reality that everything in the universe is made out of matter. This is the Newtonian view that conventional medicine employs. Basically the idea is that the body is a machine made out of chemicals and genes and if there is anything wrong with the machine, you actually adjust the chemicals and genes as the primary source of the problem.
The other model is based on quantum physics that says that the universe is actually made out of energy, and everything that we see as matter is, itself, actually energy. The significance of the difference between the two is: invisible forces play a primary role in the new understanding of biology, the new energy medicine. Energy becomes entangled, meaning everything that is made out of energy becomes entangled—you can’t separate it. So, when we’re looking at an individual’s life, we’re not looking at just their physical body but we’re also looking at their health in regard to what their perceptions of the world are—their family relationships, their job relationships, the world issues at that moment—because everything impinges upon their health.
Lynn McTaggert (The Field and The Intention Experiment) is a preeminent spokesperson on consciousness and the new physics. She adds that the new medicine is all about looking at the body as a dynamic system and understanding that if you effect one part of the body, you effect the rest of it—you put medicine on the arm and you create changes in your leg, in your liver, everywhere. So the new approach is to view the body holistically as an energy system. The implication, we don’t have to do things grossly to our physicality; we can treat ourselves through energy, through things that we can’t actually see.
McTaggert points out that what we’re now understanding is that in any cell, the membrane of that cell is semi-permeable, and there are a lot of little protein gatekeepers that act as receptors, letting information in or out. We now know that everything in our environment—our diet, the air we breathe, the emotions we hold, and the sum total of how we live our lives—affects whether a gene gets turned on or off. This is profound because it completely contradicts what we think of as Darwinian genetics—that we are driven by our genes. “Well, how can that be,” she asks, “when one little environmental thing, like a vitamin, can derail all of your genetic history?” Adding that scientists are busy looking at cancer and all kinds of things from the epigenome and understanding that we are actually getting constructed from outside in, not inside out, as we thought, reminds us once again of Dr. Lipton’s research 40 years ago.
In this documentary, he tells us: “The fate of our cells is controlled by the chemistry of our blood, and the chemistry of our blood is adjusted by the way we perceive life. So, if I open up my eyes and see love in my presence, I release chemistry in the blood, such as oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin; these chemicals promote health and vitality of the system. In contrast, however, if I open up my eyes and see something that threatens me or scares me, I release a completely different set of chemicals, such as stress hormones and histamines. The difference is, these chemicals actually shut down my growth and prepare me for protection. So, how we see the world becomes a very critical factor, because our perceptions are converted into chemistry, and the chemistry controls not just our behavior, but also our genetic expression as well.”
So, for those interested in biofield therapy and energy, there’s a wealth of information here (including excellent bonus material)—probably it should be viewed many times, especially when we realize how much responsibility we each need to take in contributing to our own healing.
DVD – 82 Mins. (plus 17 Bonus Mins.) • $19.95 • 1-800-228-8381