Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution
Ideal skin cream
The white, cheesy paste called vernix which covers a newborn infant is probably the best skin cream a baby will ever have.
Not only a protective moisturiser high in vitamin E (a potent antioxidant), it may also prime the baby’s skin (in preparation for birth) against infection and damage.
Skin specialists say that vernix is far superior to existing commercial skin creams. ‘If you take some and rub it in your skin, the feel of it is very much like skin. It doesn’t have the sticky, greasy feel of moisturisers.’
Researchers hope to copy the vernix design and develop a synthetic version for premature babies, and for treatment of skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.
New Scientist, 17 January 2004, pp. 40–41.
Yet another example of man catching up with the works of God.
Evolutionists are still puzzling over why people have an in-built sense of fairness and a tendency to cooperate, even when it goes against their rational self-interest.
An article in the leading journal Science, entitled ‘The Evolution of the Golden Rule’, reviews competing theories of how evolutionary forces might have shaped cooperation and altruistic tendencies, in a ‘survival of the fittest’ environment.
It seems that large-scale cooperation—e.g. constructing transport networks or sending robots to Mars—only works where a system of rewards (for cooperation) and punishments (for unfairness) is in place. Several evolutionary biologists argue that such systems might be deeply ingrained in our brains—an ‘evolutionary underpinning of morality’.
But, as the article notes, with so many cooperative tendencies built into our brains, why isn’t there more harmony in the world? One researcher suggested that the innate desire to punish unfairness could help drive ‘irrational acts’ such as suicide bombings.
Science, 20 February 2004, pp. 1128–1131.
If evolution is true, then there are no moral absolutes—a ‘Golden Rule’ that evolved is neither golden nor a rule. And if suicide bombing is merely evolutionary behaviour, then morally it’s neither right nor wrong, rational nor irrational.
Only through the Bible can one make proper sense of the world, distinguishing right from wrong, wisdom from folly.
Birds that collect seeds in times of plenty and store them away for a hungry winter’s day have fascinated biologists for decades. A Clark’s nutcracker in one year buries up to 33,000 seeds in up to 2,500 locations, and scientists estimate that the bird recovers two-thirds of them up to 13 months later.
It was thought that birds did not have the brainpower to remember where they’d buried their seeds, but rather must have been following a few simple rules, poking around randomly until they happened to come across their seed caches.
But research now shows seed-storing birds have astonishing intellectual prowess, remembering burial sites with pinpoint accuracy, even in the absence of any landmarks.
Science News Online, <www.sciencenews.org/articles/20040214/bob8.asp>, 18 March 2004.
God created all His creatures with incredible capabilities, suitable for how they live.
A diamond a day
Jewellery-standard diamonds have been made, artificially, in just one day. Up to 5 mm (0.2 in) thick, these are the largest gems ever produced using a process called chemical vapour deposition—i.e. the diamonds were made ‘almost from thin air’.
New Scientist, 6 March 2004, p. 17.
Reports of rapid production of diamonds are now almost commonplace (Creation 25(3):7, 2003; 25(1):9, 2002), showing that natural diamonds did not need millions of years to form, in direct contrast to evolutionary ideas about diamond formation.
The magnitude 6.5 earthquake which struck near the coastal city of San Simeon, California, in December 2003, has improved the view for some, it seems.
Geological Survey geologist Ross Stein told a news conference, ‘mountains have probably been pushed up about a foot [30 cm] or so by this earthquake’.
CNN.com, <www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/12/24/earthquake.geology.reut/>, 14 January 2004.
Such rapid uplift—yet geologists say that millions of years are necessary. This was really only a minor quake compared to geological activity during the Genesis Flood; thus, further evidence of how rapidly the mountains around the earth could have formed at that time.
Early artists ‘astonishing’
Three tiny ivory (mammoth tusk) figurines, found recently in the Hohle Fels Cave in Germany, show that early humans were accomplished artisans.
One carving depicts a bird diving headlong into water; another shows the head of a large horse-like animal, while the third figurine portrays a character with a human body and a feline head, possibly indicating shamanism (sorcery practised by ‘medicine men’).
The University of Liverpool’s Anthony Sinclair commented, ‘Instead of a gradual evolution of skills, the first modern humans in Europe were in fact astonishingly precocious artists.’
Nature, 18/25 December 2003, pp. 774–775, 830–832.
‘Astonishing’ to evolutionists, who think of early humans as being ‘primitive’. However, the evidence supports the biblical account—man was intelligent and creative from the beginning, having been made in the image of God.
Medical prayer tests
Researchers have found that heart disease patients were helped when prayers were said on their behalf by strangers who had only the patients’ names. Those prayed for had fewer complications, fewer cases of pneumonia, needed less drug treatment and left the hospital earlier.
Neuropsychiatrist Dr Peter Fenwick told a meeting of 400 top scientists at the University of Salford (UK) that devout Christians may have been right all along. He said, ‘These are very good studies, properly done. Subjects who are unaware they are being prayed for can be significantly helped.’
The Sunday Mail (Qld), 21 September 2003, p. 47.
And the evolutionary explanation is … ?!
The ‘coelacanth frog’
The ‘astonishing’ discovery of a ‘bizarre’ purple burrowing frog living in the tropical rainforests of the Western Ghats mountain range in southern India has caused great excitement among biologists.
The frog, newly named Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, is described as a ‘living fossil’—a representative of ‘an ancient lineage that dates back to the dinosaurs’.
Said to be a ‘once-in-a-century find’, one commentator labelled it ‘the coelacanth of frogs’—a reference to the famous coelacanth fish, now known to be living, but previously assumed to have been extinct for some 80 million years.
Nature, 16 October 2003, pp. 669–670, 711–714.
New Scientist, 18 October 2003, p. 19.
‘Living fossils’ surprise evolutionists, who think the fossil record reflects the order of evolution, over billions of years, rather than the order of burial since the start of the Flood, only around 4,500 years ago.
‘We need more fossils!’
A handful of fossil teeth recovered from Ethiopia has further fuelled the human evolution debate among anthropologists.
The researchers reporting this latest discovery conclude that previous interpretations of hominid fossils being different species should now be revised. It’s possible, they say, that all known fossils of our ancestors, back to the splitting of apes and humans, belong to a single genus, and perhaps even the same species.
But others disagree strongly, saying this latest discovery might actually be evidence of more diversity, not less.
The level of uncertainty in the limited fossil evidence at present ‘renders irreconcilable differences of opinion inevitable’. The solution? ‘We need more fossils!’
Science, 5 March 2004, pp. 1478–1480, 1503–1505.
Apes and humans were created separately, to reproduce ‘after their kind’—consistent with the fossil evidence.
Doesn’t show his age
An ‘exceptionally well-preserved’ crustacean is said to be the world’s oldest fossil that is unarguably male.
Not only was there amazing fossilization of his ‘soft-part anatomy’, but the fossil has ‘striking similarity’ with living forms today, demonstrating ‘remarkable evolutionary stasis over 425 million years’.
Science, 5 December 2003, pp. 1749–1751.
The striking preservation of soft-part anatomy speaks of rapid burial—consistent with the biblical account of the Flood (only around 4,500 years ago). The ‘remarkable evolutionary stasis’ (i.e. no evolution) is just what we’d expect of creatures designed to reproduce ‘after their kind’.
Superbug’s genes not new
A bacterial ‘superbug’ with resistance to all known antibiotics gained its power by taking a gene from another bacterium.
A strain of Staphylococcus aureus (so-called ‘golden staph’), found in an ulcer on a diabetes patient, was not responding to treatment with antibiotics. When doctors investigated this infection further, they found a gene had ‘jumped’ from another bacterium, Enterococcus faecalis.
Science, 28 November 2003, pp. 1569–1571.
Antibiotic resistance is not evidence of ‘evolution in action’, as there is never any overall increase in genetic information. In this case, too, no new gene evolved; it was simply transferred from another organism.
Pick a date
Australian researchers used a new optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) technique to date human fossils from Kow Swamp, in southern Australia. Many humans were buried in the shoreline silt beside the lake during the Ice Age, but scattered sand dunes now cover the area.
All newly reported ages are much older than the earlier carbon-14 ones. Some are more than double.
Journal of Human Evolution, 45(2):99–111, 2003.
Paleontologists have argued about the age of human remains from Australia for more than 20 years without any agreement (Creation 26(1):39, 2004). The ages quoted by the scientists depend on technique used, the assumptions applied, and the evolutionary model they prefer. However, all such remains are post-Babel and so less than 4,000 years old.
Europa no Eden
Hopes of finding somewhere else in the universe with Earth-like conditions suitable for life have been dealt another blow. Jupiter’s moon Europa no longer appears to be the hoped-for haven of ice and water but may be ‘a corrosive hot-bed of acid and peroxide’.
Based on measurements of light reflected from Europa’s surface, one NASA scientist says that up to 80% of the surface ice, in some spots, may be concentrated sulphuric acid.
This finding doesn’t entirely rule out the possibility of life, as some terrestrial bacteria have design features enabling them to live in very acidic environments (Creation24(1):40–44, 2001). But this news has certainly dashed notions of Europa being an ideal place to search for alien life. Strong acids cannot only destroy organic compounds but, in liquid form, could be strong enough to eat through an exploratory landing probe.
The measurements were taken and relayed to Earth by the spacecraft Galileo, before NASA deliberately crashed it into Jupiter in September 2003—a decision taken ‘to ensure that there is no chance of it contaminating any of Jupiter’s moons’.
New Scientist, 14 February 2004, p. 12; and 20 September 2003, pp. 14–15.
Peppered moths—searching for the evidence
School textbooks have long promoted England’s peppered moth as a classic example of ‘evolution in action’. After industrial pollution darkened the tree trunks, darker moths became more common than lighter forms. This was supposedly due to their better camouflage from hungry birds.
At best, this was an example of natural selection, not evolution. No new moth types arose at any stage. But recently even that neat story has unravelled, mostly due to the work of Michael Majerus, who leads the Evolutionary Genetics group at the UK’s Cambridge University.
American evolutionist Jerry Coyne, reviewing Majerus’s book in the journal Nature, said after reading of the flaws in the observations, he felt the same kind of dismay as when he discovered the truth about Santa Claus. He wrote that the peppered moth should be discarded as ‘a well-understood example of natural selection in action’. Creationists seized upon his words, and upon the revelation that photos of the moths resting on tree trunks were fraudulently staged.
But Majerus continued to defend the textbooks’ use of the peppered moth example. And in a ‘Darwin Day’ address this year, he denounced and mocked creationists. Emphasizing his more than 40 years’ experience—‘I know I’m right!’—he remains convinced that the proportion of dark to light moths fluctuates with industrial pollution. But acknowledging that others need evidence, he described the slow and difficult field studies he is undertaking in search of it.
‘If I get that proof, and splash it on every front page I can get, will they be convinced?’ he asked, angrily.
The Independent on Sunday (UK)—Talk of the Town Supplement, 29 February 2004, p. 28.
If the proof is forthcoming, why not? Obviously, evolutionists are upset at one of their icons being attacked, even though it was never an example of real evolution in the first place (nor will be, even if Majerus’s optimism is rewarded). Before, during and after the industrial revolution, there were light, dark and intermediate moths. The shifting proportions of each tells us nothing of how microbes are supposed to have turned into these moths or into men. (See Creation 21(3):56, 1999; 23(3):26–29, 2001; 25(1):14–15, 2002.)