Focus: News of interest about creation and evolution
Creation Rates Highly
Despite courses in biology and anthropology which overwhelmingly promote the evolutionary view, many American college students maintain creationist beliefs, according to a recently published poll. The poll, which was published in Current Anthropology, began in 1974. More than 2,100 college students from 40 campuses answered a 72-question survey about attitudes and understanding of evolution. Most students who responded accepted the evolutionary idea that humans evolved over millions of years from lower primates. Yet many accepted the biblical account of the origin of life and Noah's Flood. The survey findings showed:
- 38% of students believed that human life originated in the Garden of Eden.
- In the south-west, where creationism is more likely to be emphasized, 52% believed in the biblical account of creation.
- 49% of students from rural areas believed that fossils came from animals that died during Noah's Flood; 41% of urban students also accepted this.
- Nearly 10% of southern students believed the earth was created 6,000 years ago.
Australian Dr Weekly,
Archaeologists excavating an ancient Mesopotamian city near Baghdad have unearthed what some say is a more detailed account of Noah’s Ark and the Flood than is found in the Bible, according to an Iraqi newspaper. An excavation team from Baghdad University found the account on tablets in the ancient city's library, where they were placed thousands of years ago. So far only 300 of an estimated 2,500 tablets have been examined. It is expected that it will take at least another three years to extract the remainder.
Not too much credence should be given to the subject of this report. Other, reports have revealed that the tablets give an inaccurate Creation account which says Humans ‘were created because lesser gods became fed up with working for higher gods.’ The flood story also gives a distorted picture of the genuine Genesis account. This seems to be a collection of stories which contain some elements of the originals, but which have been distorted over time.
Scientists have found a vanished continent, which they say once
teemed with dinosaurs and lush primeval forest, under 800 metres of water in the
southern Indian Ocean. The only visible remains of the former land mass are the
French-owned Kerguelan Islands, once peaks of a mountain range.
Dr Amanda Palmer, from the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University, said: ‘We extracted fragments of dinosaurs’ teeth and pieces of charcoal, indicating the one-time presence of thick forests and savage animal life.’ Dr Palmer said the Kerguelan plateau, which stretches more than 5,000 kilometres, was formed by erupting volcanoes.
The explanation may be that the dinosaurs and primeval forests were buried during the biblical Flood, and that these deposits were submerged when ‘the mountains rose and the valleys sank down’ after the Flood (Psalm 104:8).
The earth’s collision with a body the size of Mars was a likely explanation of the formation of the moon, according to a chief investigator in NASA’s extraterrestrial sample program. Professor Stuart Taylor, from the Institute of Advanced Studies at the Australian National University, carried out the first chemical analysis of lunar samples brought back to earth in 1969. He rejected many models of moon formation which were discussed at a conference in Hawaii a few months ago. But he said the hypothesis of a huge, Mars-sized lump of matter hitting the earth solved a number of problems.
Ed. Note: more recent research shows that it would need an impact of a body with twice the mass of Mars to throw enough mass into orbit to form the moon (Shigeru Ida et al., ‘Lunar accretion from an impact generated disk’, Nature 389(6649):353-357, 25 September 1997; Comment in the same issue by J.J. Lissauer, ‘It’s not easy to make the moon’, pp. 327-328.).
The ‘Genesis Apocryphon’—one of the famous Dead Sea scrolls which has been almost totally unreadable because of its poor state of preservation—has finally become readable through the use of a new photographic technique. The first fragments of the ‘Genesis Apocryphon’ which experts examined were badly deteriorated. One scholar remarked ‘It looked as though someone had poured coffee all over them.’ The texts also contained tiny holes where acids in the ink used by the scribes had eaten through the parchment. Now an American team of scientists has successfully begun to read the text by photographing the document from behind, using Japanese infrared film. Some never-before-read passages in the scroll describe in great detail the physical beauty of Sarah, the wife of the patriarch abraham. They even describe the contours of Sarah’s breasts. However, it is admitted that this document is neither contemporary with Sarah, nor inspired. It is not an eyewitness account, and is not factual. But it does give startling insights into the thinking of these early scribes from the Essene sect of the day.
The ‘face on Mars’ has become the subject of international scientific debate. It has also become the subject of several books and many articles. A few scientists say the ‘face’—a sometimes human-looking image picked up by pictures from the Viking mission to Mars—could have been built. Many more say it is probably a natural phenomenon produced by light falling on natural geographic features. More than 54,000 pictures were taken in the 1970s during the NASA Viking and Mariner probes to Mars. They showed the planet to be a desolate, windswept place. But now some believe from photo enhancement techniques that intelligently constructed artefacts are shown in the photos, such as pyramids, ‘the face’, a honeycomb-shaped section, a city square and a fort. The ‘face’ is believed to be 2.5 kilometres from top to chin, with the nose towering half a kilometre above the ground.
We do not deny that Viking photos numbers 35A72 and 70AI3 in particular show, what 'looks' like a half shaded face on Mars. But both these frames were taken with the sun shining from a relatively low, angle, and the shaded areas play a major part in what one imagines to be a whole face. Just as light and shade suggest a face on the moon (‘the man in the moon’), we found that turning the Mars pictures sideways, upside down, etc., produced an assortment of other imaginary objects, such as a horse's head, a Samurai warrior, a baboon, an insect, and other things. Look at the picture for a few, minutes yourself. How, many objects can you see besides the face?
Not much is known about tiny, distant Pluto beyond the existence of its known moon, Charon, and the fact that methane in some form has been detected there. On June 9, 1988, however, at least eight separate groups of astronomers detected clear signs that it has an atmosphere. James L. Elliot, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says of the latest observations, ‘Pluto has an atmosphere—no question.’ The occasion was Pluto's passing between earth and a star, an event called an occultation. Until this occasion, no confirmed stellar occultations by Pluto were on record, so astronomers gathered to look from a NASA aircraft and from observatories in New Zealand and Australia. The starlight did not simply blink off and on as Pluto moved in front of it, but gradually became fainter and brighter. The light, it seemed, had not merely been chopped off by the edge of the planet's disc, but was weakened and strengthened as it passed through a medium which to some seemed only to indicate an atmosphere.
It must be pointed out that an atmosphere on Pluto does not mean it could sustain life. Most gases would simply freeze on the surface at Pluto’s temperature, estimated to be within as little as 40 C of absolute zero (-273.15’C). The atmosphere could include poisonous carbon monoxide or molecular nitrogen.
A South Australian scientist believes he has solved the mystery of the origin of comets - including the most famous, Halley’s comet. The scientist, an astrophysicist from the University of Adelaide in South Australia, rejects the commonly held theory that the ‘Oort Cloud’—a hypothetical reservoir of billions of comets far outside the solar system—is what causes comets. His alternative explanation is that ‘Halley’s comet comes from a second much closer belt of billions of comets just outside the solar system left over as debris and junk when the outer planets formed 5000 million years ago.’
Readers should bear in mind that no one has yet observed either the Oort Cloud or this supposed new comet ‘belt’. Without such a theoretical source of re-supply, the break-up time of short-period comets indicates a young solar system.
The fossilized head of a kangaroo which is thought to be a meat-eater has been found in northwestern Queensland, Australia. Although the skull is still encased in rock, its finders believe it would have eaten rodents, lizards, bandicoots, possums and other small animals. Tests have shown that the jawbone an teeth contained strontium, a substance usually found only in meat-eaters. Using the head as a base, Dr Michael Archer, of the University of New South Wales, plans to reconstruct the whole body which, he said, should be about 1.5 metres tall, much the same as a modern eastern grey kangaroo.
The latest theory on dinosaur extinction is that they started producing young of all the same sex and thus could find no mates. Professor David Crews, professor of zoology at the University of Texas in Austin, and Professor William Gutzke, of Memphis State University, found during three years of research with leopard geckos (I 5 cm lizards from the Middle East) that the sex of geckos, like many reptiles, is decided during incubation—not (as in mammals) by genes. The mechanics are not completely understood, but the professors found that warmer conditions produced males and cooler eggs became females. Even if a warm gecko hatched as a female, she behaved like a male and repelled males. If dinosaurs hatched this way, it is thought, changes in the earth’s temperature long ago could mean that all the eggs hatched into dinosaurs of the same sex.
Sexual frustration is the latest in a line of sad dinosaur catastrophes imagined by scientists. When asked about this latest theory, Dr Tom Kemp, curator of Oxford’s zoological collections, said: ‘The single-sex theory is nonsense. I’m getting a bit fed up with people sticking their oars in, with simple-minded ideas.’
Australia’s Royal Military College, Duntroon, which claims to be ‘one of the finest officer training establishments in the world’, has been using the imaginary ‘evolutionary progression’ from ape to man in a series of newspaper advertisements for the college. In the full-page advertisements, nine drawings are used to depict supposed human evolution from ape. The caption of one ad reads: ‘What kind of career awaits you? One that will keep evolving, or one that will come to a dead end?’
A tiny Australian bird could change the lives of millions of people with hearing defects. The scientific fame of the plains wanderer rests on the hole in its head—a structural feature which lets it use its head as a very efficient antenna. Researchers at the University of Queensland have exploited the bird’s sound system to develop a new hearing aid, called the Aviphone. Separating one sound from the babble of background noise is a problem for people who use hearing aids because the aids tend to amplify all sounds, rather than the sound of special interest. This is where the plains wanderer comes in. The bird performs a feat of sound localization which has baffled physicists. It uses its centimetre-wide head to measure the direction of sound waves as much as 100 times larger. On the open plains where the bird lives, sounds do not carry far over the ground unless they have a very low frequency. The hole through the middle of the bird's head produces a pattern of vibrations of the ear drums equivalent to the pattern that would be produced by a much bigger head or antenna. It allows the ears to communicate physically with each other. The Aviphone is worn on both ears so that the wearer can more easily select one voice from a group of speakers.
For more than a century, evolutionists have debated whether sea-lions, walruses and true seals have come from a single common land ancestor, or whether they came from several land ancestors which took to the sea. The overwhelmingly dominant view has been that seals evolved from some weasel-like or otter-like creature, and sea-lions and walruses evolved from some bear-like creature. Now after extensive research on the flippers of these marine mammals, Andre R. Wyss, from the American Museum of Natural History in New York, believes he has conclusively demonstrated that the pinnipeds (seals, walruses and seal-lions) had a single evolutionary origin. Fossils which have been used as evolutionary intermediates to demonstrate separate origins have been dismissed by Wyss. He says that of importance to the acceptance of a single pinniped origin is the paucity of evidence supporting the close relationship of one pinniped subgroup with any particular line of land mammals.
This means that the ‘intermediate forms’ are not intermediate, so evolution is not proved by the fossils. And anatomical similarities, rather than showing a common evolutionary ancestor, show instead a Master Designer who used a common plan for all the pinnipeds.