Focus: creation news and views
UK Sharia law
The British government has sanctioned the powers for Islamic sharia judges to rule on cases that come before them.
Rulings issued by sharia courts in London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester and Nuneaton are now enforceable with the full power of the UK judicial system, through the country courts or High Court.
Before this, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced. (They depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.)
Additional sharia courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Just a few generations ago, such happenings would have been surely unimaginable to UK citizens whose monarch is widely known as ‘Defender of the Faith’, i.e. Christianity. (The implications of this development could be profound indeed—see creation.com/islamunfair2.)
- Times Online, www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article 4749183.ece, 14 September 2008.
Bible-believing Christians resistant to superstition
A comprehensive new Gallup Poll study released by Baylor University (USA) shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything superstitious such as astrology, clairvoyance, UFOs, etc. It also shows that the irreligious, people who have read The Da Vinci Code, and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the occult, paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.
This is not a new finding. A 1980 Skeptical Inquirer study showed that antitheistic college students were by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely.
As we have earlier pointed out (see, e.g., creation.com/superstition), the teaching of evolution and long-ageism has weakened and undermined the influence of Christianity in our culture. This has opened the way for an unprecedented flourishing of all manner of cults, occult practices, and bizarre superstitions, even among the ‘intelligentsia’.
Romans 1:21–22 says that people who refuse to honour God descend into ‘futile thinking’ and although they think they are smart they become fools.
- Baylor University News, www.baylor.edu/pr/news.php?actiona=story&story=52815, 18 September 2008.
- The Wall Street Journal, online.wsj.com/article/SB122178 219865054585.html, 19 September 2008.
When geneticists found that there were ‘only’ 20,000 to 30,000 genes in the human genome, on par with a ‘simple’ worm, they were surprised. ‘We were expecting that something as sophisticated, complex and intelligent as ourselves would have about a hundred thousand genes at least,’ said one geneticist.
But it turns out that our genetic code is staggeringly complex—new research shows that our genes can ‘multitask’. By a process dubbed ‘alternative splicing’, a given gene can produce multiple RNA transcripts, depending on how the pieces are assembled. These, in turn, can produce very different protein machines with dramatically different (even opposite) functions—yet derive from the same gene.
What about the worm’s genes? All eukaryotes (multi-celled creatures) have multitasking to some degree. But it seems that human genes multitask at a much greater level. Also, there’s a lot more non-protein DNA involved in control and embryo development in humans.
- NatureNews, www.nature.com/news/2008/081102/full/news.2008. 1199.html, 2 November 2008.
- Science Daily, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081102 134623.htm, 4 November 2008.
Todd Korol/ Reuters/ Picture Media
A fossilized dinosaur nest along with fragments of a dozen eggs found in Montana belonged to either a caenagnathid or a dromaeosaurid, say paleontologists.
The eggs were about 12.5 cm long and the nest about half a metre across.
‘It is the first nest of its kind in the world,’ said investigators, pointing out that the discovery ‘tells you a little bit more about how dinosaurs went about to build their nests.’
The researchers’ next step will be to analyze the chemical composition of the egg shell fragments.
How is it that this and many other fossils can have been so well preserved, all over the world, when animal nests, road kill, etc. today are not? The answer is that such fossilisation requires an unusual event—rapid burial under layers of sediment, consistent with what the Bible tells us happened about 4,500 years ago (Genesis 6–9).
- (See Creation 25(2):10–12, 2003; creation.com/dinotracks.)
- Palaeontology 51(6):1253–1259, November 2008.
- CBC News, www.cbc.ca/technol ogy/story/2008/11/13/nest-dinosaurs.html, 13 November 2008.
Computer game ‘Spore’ deception as a means to an end
Spore, a computer game released in September 2008, allows players to replicate the evolution of a creature from a single-celled organism to space-travelling civilization. Depending on the goals of the player, the creature can be a carnivore, herbivore, peaceful social networker, or conquering predator.
Designer Will Wright, best known for creating the Sims series of games, claims that the game is a ‘philosophical toy’ intended to change the way people think, and cites science fiction, SETI, and ‘astrobiology’ as sources of inspiration for the game, and admitted certain aspects of the game are ‘very Darwinian’.
In a New York Times article, scientists praised the game for getting evolutionary ideas across, but criticized the simplistic and in some cases misguided way that evolution is presented. For one thing, players can ‘intelligently design’ their creatures to some extent.
However, Dr Thomas Near hopes that the game will cause people to accept evolution: ‘This may be totally off about how evolution works, but I’d much rather be dealing with a student who says, “O.K., I have no problem with evolution; I think about it the same way I think about gravity.” If it does that, it’ll be great.’ He is not the first to condone deceiving students as long as they end up accepting the evolutionary worldview (see creation.com/deceive).
Christian parents should be aware of the evolutionary indoctrination even extending to computer games, so become increasingly vigilant to make sure that the messages that their children absorb are consistent with the true (biblical) worldview. For more information see creation.com/spore.
- The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/2008/09/02/science/02spor.html, 1 September 2008.
ET vs ‘miracle’
We have long pointed out that belief in the existence of alien life is a logical outflow of belief in evolution: Life evolved on Earth, therefore it surely must have evolved elsewhere in the universe, too.
(See Gary Bates’ book Alien Intrusion—UFOs and the evolution connection, available from addresses on p. 2.)
In a recent article in New Scientist, the well-known Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) researcher Seth Shostak was asked, ‘Why do you think intelligent extraterrestrials exist?’
Shostak replied: ‘To believe that they don’t exist requires positing that what’s happened on Earth is some sort of miracle. I find that premise a tougher sell than to think that intelligence is a fairly frequent development in a 14-billion-year-old cosmos’ (emphasis added).
In other words, Shostak chooses evolution and consciously rejects the miracle of Creation, which implies a Creator—to whom Shostak (indeed, everyone) is accountable.
Shostak went on to say that ‘there have been 10,000 generations of people before me who were interested in intelligent life in the sky’. He’s wrong on that score, too.
The maximum number of generations of people is way less than that. As a rough calculation, allowing around four generations per century, with only about 4,500 years since Noah, and just 10 generations before that (Genesis 5:3–32), gives a figure of only around 200 generations since Adam.
Population numbers also fit with the biblical timeframe, not the long human occupation claimed by evolutionists. See ‘Where have all the people gone?’, p. 18 (this issue).
- New Scientist 199(2674):42–43, 20 September 2008.
Generation Y shock
Older Christians would be shocked by a recent survey of Australian 13–17 year-olds (Generation Y), conducted by researchers from Monash University, the Australian Catholic University, and the Christian Research Association. Only 51% of these Generation Y individuals said they believed in God, and a majority said ‘morals are relative, there are no definite rights and wrongs for everybody’.
What could have caused this decline in traditional religious and moral belief among teenagers in Australia?
It is no coincidence that in the four-and-a half decades since the 1960s, covering the lifespans of Generation Y and their parents (Generation X, and the tailend of the ‘Baby-Boomers’), there has been a tremendous increase in the teaching of atheistic evolution in schools and universities, as well as through the media via TV documentaries, etc., all of which denies God and removes obedience to His laws as the basis of society.
The further society moves away from God, the more it reaps the whirlwind. It is therefore not surprising that we have seen, over the same time frame, such a huge increase in abortion, euthanasia, sexual immorality and perversion, coupled with a decrease in the legal penalties for most of these, leading to ultimate decriminalization. This is happening not just in Australia, but also in other western countries in which evolutionary teaching has removed the foundation for Christian values. (No Creator = No Christ = No Christianity = No Christian Values.)
- The Spirit of Generation Y, dlibrary.acu.edu.au/research/ccls/sppub/071005_Summary_–_Key_Findings.pdf, 15 September 2008.
Jaren Wilkey/ BYU
Isn’t evolution wonderful? Sadly, that’s the impression left from reading various reports of the incredible breakthroughs being made in the development of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs). These miniature aircraft have the potential to revolutionize both military and civilian surveillance operations, but the credit for their inspiration is being misdirected. Gizmag’s write-up is typical:
‘Several [MAVs] are derived from nature, where evolution has produced designs that out-strip the performance and efficiency of humanity’s aerial achievements on a proportional scale.’
But it wasn’t chance processes over millions of years that produced those designs that are so much superior to anything so far constructed by man. Design implies a Designer—and there’s ‘no excuse’ (Romans 1:20) for anyone to not recognize that.
- Gizmag, www.gizmag.com/bat-inspired-miniature-spy-plane-under-development/10329/, 18 November 2008.
Former atheist vs Dawkins
Former Reading University philosophy professor Antony Flew has accused Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, of being a ‘secularist bigot’ and more interested in promoting his own personal views than in finding the truth.
Flew writes: ‘The fault of Dawkins as an academic was his scandalous and apparently deliberate refusal to present the doctrine which he appears to think he has refuted in its strongest form.’ In particular, Flew says that there are five references to Einstein in the Index to The God Delusion, but no mention of Einstein’s belief that the complexity of physics led him to conclude that there must be a divine intelligence behind it.
Not much new there about Dawkins, you say? Yes, but look who’s saying it now. Flew once held the title of ‘the world’s most notorious atheist’, that is, until 2004, when he himself became convinced of the existence of a ‘divine intelligence’ and became a deist, although not (yet) a Christian. See also a review of Flew’s book There is a God: How the most notorious atheist changed his mind, Journal of Creation 22(3):21–24, 2008.
- The Telegraph (UK), www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceand technology/science/science news/3348563/Richard-Dawkins-branded-’secularist-bigot’-by-veteran-philosopher.html, 2 August 2008.
Cows: a sign for evolutionists
Today’s proponents of evolution ought to take note of which way the cows are pointing, and why. Leading 20th-century evolutionist J.B.S. Haldane famously said in 1949 that evolution could never produce ‘various mechanisms, such as the wheel and magnet, which would be useless till fairly perfect.’ Since then however, biologists have uncovered staggeringly complex wheel mechanisms in living things (e.g. the ATP synthase rotary motor, and the flagellum—see Jonathan Sarfati’s book By Design, ch.10 (available from addresses on p. 2)) along with magnetic navigation/alignment in birds, salmon, turtles, bats, African mole rats (By Design, ch. 5)—and now, it seems, cows!
Researchers surveyed Google Earth images of 8,510 domestic cattle in 308 pasture plains across the globe, and observed that cattle (whether grazing or resting) tend to align their bodies in a north-south direction, i.e. in line with the Earth’s magnetic field. The study ruled out the possibility that wind or sun were major influences on the direction cattle orient themselves.
It seems that deer, too, use their ‘magnetic compass’ in the same way. Researchers who recorded the body positions of 2,974 wild deer across the Czech Republic found the majority of deer facing northward, with about one-third of the deer facing southward.
Professor John Phillips of Virginia Tech University, USA, said that this sixth magnetic sense might be ‘virtually ubiquitous in the animal kingdom’, adding that, ‘We need to think about some really fundamental things that this sensory ability provides in animals.’
We agree with the late J.B.S. Haldane that wheel and magnetic mechanisms could not have come about by evolution. So today’s evolutionists do indeed have some ‘really fundamental things’ to think about.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105(36):13451–13455, 9 September 2008.
- BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7575459.stm, 25 August 2008.
Atheists advertise on British buses
The British Humanist Association (BHA), with the support of prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, has launched a ‘No God’ advertising campaign on UK buses. They have raised more than £36,000 to pay for posters on both the inside and outside of London buses with the slogan: ‘There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.’
The BHA is considering extending the campaign to other cities, including Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh.
According to Dawkins, this campaign ‘will make people think—and thinking is anathema to religion.’
Dawkins may well be right in relation to false religion, but he’s wrong when it comes to Christianity. The one true Creator of the Universe has instructed that we are to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ [emphasis added] (Mark 12:30). And He has instructed Christian believers to ‘be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have’ [emphasis added] (1 Peter 3:15, q.v. Isaiah 1:18) that other people might become believers while there’s still time.
Now that’s something worth thinking about.
- BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/7681914.stm, 21 October 2008.
Crows make monkeys out of chimps
Smart crows seem to be able to use causal reasoning to solve a problem, something that has never been documented in chimps, report researchers from the University of Auckland (New Zealand).
Three New Caledonian crows successfully solved the ‘trap-table’ problem presented to them, i.e. they had to retrieve food from a set-up where failure meant losing the food down a trap-hole in a wooden table. The crows succeeded even when the equipment was modified. Apes that had been presented with the same problem failed.
If chimpanzees are ‘our close evolutionary cousins’, then how is it that birds (which are not supposed to be our evolutionary ‘cousins’, and which have much smaller brains) can surpass chimps in various measures of intelligence? See ‘Bird-brain matches chimps (and neither makes it to grade school)’, Creation 19(1):47, 1996.
- Proceedings of the Royal Society B, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1107, 16 September 2008.
- NewScientist.com news service, www.newscientist.com/article/dn14745-crows-make-monkeys-out-of-chimps-in-mental-test.html, 17 September 2008.
Some butterflies, such as the blue morpho (Morpho menelaus) of South America and the male mountain blue don (Papilio ulysses) of northern Australia are known for their brilliant iridescent blues. But their spectacular colours are not caused by pigments but by their scales forming a diffraction grating.
These are evenly-spaced ridges or grooves that break up white light into all the different colours of the rainbow, but cancel them all out except for blue. These scales have been called sub-micrometre photonic structures, because they can manipulate light waves.
The very deep black on the borders of the butterfly wings is likewise not due to a black pigment but due to photonic structures that trap light. See creation.com/blue for explanation. But recent research shows that Lamprolenis nitida has scales with two diffraction gratings superimposed, which give two main colour signals. This is caused by an elaborate pattern of ‘cross ribs’ connecting ‘longitudinal ridges’ and ‘flutes’ projecting out the sides. The ribs have regular spacing of 582 nm (a million nm = 1 mm), and the flutes’ spacing is 205 nm, hence the two signals.
The researchers said that advanced human technology could benefit from copying this design: ‘incorporating two interchangeable gratings onto a single structure, as they are in L. nitida, the functional range of spectrometers could be extended.’
Note that even single diffraction gratings are hard to explain by a supposed Darwinian series of small steps, each with an advantage over the previous one. How much harder then for evolutionists is a dual diffraction grating to explain! This is especially so since most butterflies manage perfectly well without one, and the glasswing butterfly (Creation 30(4):56, 2008) doesn’t even need scales at all, so selection pressure is not clear.
Since our human-engineered diffractions require intelligent design, then this even more complex dual diffraction grating also shows the objective marks of design, and hence, a Designer.
(For more information see Journal of Creation 23(1), 2009.)
- Journal of the Royal Society 5(28):1387–1390, 6 November 2008.
We live in a privileged place
George Ellis, a leading cosmology theorist from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, suggests our earth may be at the heart of a giant cosmic void.
Along with three colleagues from his university and another from the Institute of Astrophysics in Paris, France, he plans to test his idea by studying data from stellar explosions. Known as type 1a supernovae, the brightness of these distant star-bursts does not agree with the predictions of the big bang model. Their distribution strikes at the fundamental assumptions of secular cosmologists, that the universe came about by random, naturalistic processes and that we occupy no special place in it. However, the supernovae suggest we are at a privileged spot.
Ellis says, ‘We live in an improbable universe. You can shift around the improbability—for instance, substituting an Earth-centred void for dark energy—but you can’t remove the improbability.’
Creationist cosmologist Dr Russell Humphreys has shown that galaxy redshifts confirm that we live at a special spot (see Journal of Creation 16(2):95–104, 2002, Creation 28(1):52–55, 2005), and physicist John Hartnett has proposed a creationist model that explains the universe without the need for unobserved dark matter and dark energy. (See Dr Hartnett’s book Starlight, Time and the New Physics, available from addresses on p. 2.)
- New Scientist 200(2682):32–35, 15 November 2008.
Mountains that ‘shouldn’t be there’
An international expedition is heading south to the ‘White Continent’ aiming to find an explanation for why there is a great mountain range in the middle of Antarctica.
No-one has ever seen the Gamburtsev Mountains, as they are covered by ice up to four kilometres deep. Discovered by Soviet researchers making a seismic survey across the ice in the late 1950s, the hidden mountains were totally unexpected. Scientists had thought the interior of the continent would be flat.
A lead researcher on the expedition, Dr Robin Bell from the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, explained: ‘There are two easy ways to make mountains. One is colliding continents, but after they collide they tend to erode; and the last collision was 500-million-plus years ago. They shouldn’t be there.’
‘The other way is a hotspot [with volcanoes punching through the crust] like in Hawaii; but there’s no good evidence for underneath the ice sheet being that hot,’ Bell said. ‘I like to say it’s rather like being an archaeologist and opening up a tomb in a pyramid and finding an astronaut sitting inside. It shouldn’t be there.’
Obviously they can’t be 500-million-plus years old. It makes more sense that they are erosional remnants from the receding waters of Noah’s Flood. For more on this see Journal of Creation 16(3):40–43, 2002, creation.com/mountains, and also Chapter 11 (‘What about continental drift?’) in The Creation Answers Book, available from addresses on p. 2.
- BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7668070.stm, 14 October 2008.