Focus: creation news and views
New DNA repair enzyme discovered
Our body’s information is stored on the famous DNA double helix molecule. This is so efficient that just five round pinheads full of DNA could hold all the information of the earth’s entire human population. And each of our 100 trillion cells has 3 billion DNA ‘letters’ (called nucleobases) worth of information.
But chemically, DNA is actually a very reactive molecule. Indeed, about a million DNA ‘letters’ are damaged in a cell on a good day. One common form of DNA damage is called alkylation—this means a small hydrocarbon group becomes attached to one of the ‘letters’, and there are many places for the attachment. This changes the shape enough so it can no longer fit into the double helix. This can prevent DNA replication or reading the gene.
So living creatures must have elaborate DNA repair machinery. For example, there is ‘base excision repair’: special enzymes called DNA glycosylases run down the DNA molecule, detect the damaged ‘letter’, grab it, put it in a specially shaped pocket, then chop it out. Then other enzymes repair the resulting gap.
Scientists at North American universities have discovered another ingenious repair enzyme in bacteria, called AlkD. This has a very different structure. It works by flipping a positively charged damaged base—highly unstable—and the one it’s paired with, from the inside to the outside of the helix. Then they are both detached, and the gap filled. Understanding these enzymes could lead to more effective chemotherapy.
Evolutionists have a major problem in explaining repair machinery. Natural selection requires that the information selected for can be reproduced accurately. But without an already functioning repair mechanism, the information would be degraded quickly.
- Newly Discovered DNA Repair Mechanism, sciencedaily.com, 5 October 2010.
Is the sun affecting radioactive decay on Earth?
There’s a new effect in the world of physics: the Jenkins–Fischbach effect i.e. a correlation between solar activity and the pace at which radioisotopes on earth decay. The data kept pointing in this direction for a number of years, especially in the case of radiocarbon dating where periodic “wiggles” kept annoying scientists and causing them to ‘smooth them out’. According to recent news from Stanford University, measuring errors or statistical artefacts can now be ruled out.
It seems that solar neutrinos, particles so light and small that they were thought to travel through the entire earth without interacting with anything, accelerate radioactive decay on earth! As one of the scientists involved said, “… something that doesn’t really interact with anything is changing something that can’t be changed”.
Until now it was believed that the decay rate of radioisotopes is statistically constant and therefore there is a ‘tick-tock’ in the rocks (the radioisotopes in certain minerals) which can be used to date them (see also Creation 32(4):30–31, 2010). It turns out the decay rate is not constant, varying seasonally as well as according to longer periods (200 years) and shorter ones (33 days).
Meanwhile, the latest data questions a basic tenet of solar system evolution: that the solar core, whence neutrinos come, spins slower than the surface. In order to fit the observed data, it should spin faster, counter to the Nebular Hypothesis which claims the solar system evolved from a rotating nebula, therefore requiring the centre to be spinning faster than the periphery (see Creation 32(3):34–35, 2010).
- The strange case of solar flares and radioactive elements, news.stanford.edu, 23 August 2010
Dinos may have been even taller
Knowledge of dinosaurs is highly limited, because usually only the bones remain. Now new research shows that their great height has actually been under-estimated.
Dino limb bones are unlike those of mammals, which have projections, called condyles, that help connect them to the next bone. Thus mammals need only a thin layer of cartilage, which can unfortunately wear down causing arthritis. But dino limb bones are round and rather rough, more like the limb bones of alligators and ostriches.
American anatomy professors Casey Holliday and Lawrence Witmer have analyzed these limb bones. They found that the rough surfaces mark where blood vessels supplied a large amount of cartilage in the joints. In fact, 6–10% of the length of the limbs was cartilage.
So they applied a ‘cartilage correction factor’ to the limbs of dinosaurs. It wouldn’t have greatly increased the height of T. Rex and other carnivores that moved in a slouched position. But for upright plant-eaters like Brachiosaurus and Triceratops, it would have made them quite a bit taller—the 42-foot (13-metre) Brachiosaurus would have been a foot taller than previously thought.
Dr Witmer said, “This study is significant because it shows that bones can’t always speak for themselves.”
- Dinosaurs significantly taller than previously thought, researchers find, sciencedaily.com, 1 October 2010.
- Cartilaginous Epiphyses in Extant Archosaurs and Their Implications for Reconstructing Limb Function in Dinosaurs. PLoS ONE 5(9): e13120, 2010.
‘Simple’ cell has coordinated motors
Many ‘simple’ single-celled creatures have an amazing electrical outboard motor that drives a whip-like cord to swim—the flagellum (Creation 27(1):24–25, 2004, creation.com/flagellum; By Design ch. 10), which even has a clutch (Journal of Creation 22(3):9–11, 2008, creation.com/clutch).
But if this design wasn’t complex enough, researchers at the University of Virginia reported that when the ‘simple’ alga Chlamydomonas swims, “molecular motors operate in an amazingly coordinated manner”. One report said:
“The new U.Va. study provides strong evidence that the motors are indeed working in coordination, all pulling in one direction, as if under command, or in the opposite direction — again, as if under strict instruction.”
The study could help humans as well, since a greater understanding of how cells move could lead to cures for degenerative nerve diseases that cause paralysis and blindness.
Such amazing evidence of design can only point in one direction—to a master Designer (Romans 1:20).
- Molecular motors in cells work together, study shows, sciencedaily.com, 25 February 2009.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106(9):3190–3195, 3 March 2009.
Flying fish: expert gliders
Many birds can dive underwater, but it is perhaps less well known that some fish can fly in the air much like birds do, that is, support their weight using aerodynamic lift, gliding over the surface of the water for surprisingly long distances.
Researchers at Seoul National University in Korea obtained specimens of darkedged-wing flying fish and had them dried and stuffed. Some of the fish were prepared with wings extended as in flight. They then tested the fish in a wind tunnel and found that the lift-to-drag ratio for the fish was exceptionally good. It was found that the fish glide beautifully, as efficiently as petrels (seabirds) and wood ducks.
The researchers also found that the fish glide with great stability, and can fly for over 40 seconds, travelling up to 400 metres at a speed of 70 km/h. Flying fish are perfectly made for both gliding and swimming. Their Creator is indeed a master Designer.
- Flying fish glide as well as birds, researchers find, sciencedaily.com, 11 September 2010.
Thinking is a trick of the mind?
The title of Richard Dawkins’ bestseller The God Delusion encapsulates the evolutionary view that everything just evolved, including religion. I.e., “God” is just a trick of the mind—a notion that evolved and endures because it somehow confers a survival advantage upon those who possess such brain chemistry, who in turn pass their ‘spirituality’ genes to their offspring.
But doesn’t that mean that Dawkins’ own thinking is itself therefore just a bunch of chemical reactions, over which Dawkins has no control?
University of Pennsylvania evolutionary biologist Anthony Cashmore makes it clear in a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that evolution means we are nothing more than a bag of chemicals and that free will is an illusion. “Conscious thought is simply a reflection of, rather than an influence on, unconscious neural activity, which directs behaviour.”
Cashmore argues that consciousness has a genetic basis which confers an evolutionary selective advantage—i.e. it deludes us into thinking that we are in control of what we think and do.
Cashmore recognizes the consequences for the judicial system in which concepts of free will and individual responsibility are implicit. If, as Cashmore says, “in reality, all behavioural decisions are nothing more than a reflection of our genetic and environmental history,” then how can a criminal be considered responsible for his actions?
But by the same token, can a judge be responsible for his actions in sentencing this criminal? And can Cashmore’s own thoughts be trusted—including on neurology—if they are just the result of unconscious neural activity?
- Free will is an illusion, biologist says, physorg.com, 3 March 2010.
- PNAS 107(10):4499–4504, 9 March 2010. See also creation.com/bag-of-chemicals.
‘Oldest pelican’ surprises evolutionists
A pelican fossil supposedly 30 million years old according to evolutionary ‘dating’ was found in fine limestone in France with “all the details” preserved. Dr Antoine Louchart of the University of Lyon said he was “surprised” by the fact that “it is so similar to modern pelicans”. At 1.2 m (4 ft) long from beak tip to tail, with a wingspan of 2 m (6.5 ft), this “remarkably preserved” fossil was, he said, “almost identical to modern species, despite its 30 million years.” A particularly well preserved feature was its 30 cm (1 ft) beak, which, the same as living pelicans, had the unique joint which allows its “two parts to be extremely distended, opening up the pouch used to collect fish.”
The BBC news article commented that the fossil “surprised the researchers, because it reveals just how little pelicans have evolved over huge expanses of time.”
A recurring pattern in the fossil record is that the better the level of preservation of something represented in the modern world (i.e. not extinct), the more obvious it is that it is, like this one, virtually identical to the modern type. Such ‘living fossils’ (numbering in the hundreds of examples, with new ones regularly added) reinforce the fact that the alleged millions of years are non-existent (see pp. 20–23).
With information-losing mutations happening all the time over the countless numbers of pelican generations that would have taken place if such huge timespans were real, creationists would expect substantially more “change”. See also creation.com/living_fossils.
- Prehistoric pelican had big beak, bbc.co.uk, 11 June 2010.
Praying to Allah
In 2008 two schoolboys in the UK were chastised and given detention for refusing to bow to Allah during a religious education class. The boys from year 7 did not want to take part in the exercise and several parents from the school were alarmed that the boys were punished.
It is widely assumed in today’s Western secular culture, dominated as it is by belief in Darwinism, that all religions have evolved and are therefore equally valid. Religions are assumed by many to be based on myth, and are therefore false. With the resultant decline in faith in Christianity a spiritual ‘hole’ has appeared within Western religious belief.
Nothing is more certain than that such a hole will be filled with an alternative religion, as man has a ‘God-shaped space’ in his heart. The strong influence of Social Darwinism, which teaches that all ‘truth’ is relative, and merely the product of evolution, is largely responsible. Yet the philosophy of Darwinism, which teaches that all religions have evolved, and are ultimately false, is itself an unproven, faith-based system, based on myth.
- Schoolboys punished with detention for refusing to kneel in class and pray to Allah, dailymail.co.uk, 4 July 2008.
Stop picking on me!
Poor old Chuck. It seems Charles Darwin is being unfairly picked on more and more today, according to Danita Brandt, associate professor of geological sciences at Michigan State University. “It’s time to get off Chuck’s back!” she says.
What prompted her complaint, even if half in jest? Professor Brandt, an evolutionist, was responding to a recent exchange in which a political candidate in the U.S. challenged Darwinism by asking the question: why don’t we see apes evolving today?
Professor Brandt sidesteps the problem, for Darwinists, of no observed evolution of one into the other by making the comment: “Humans are humans and apes are apes; there’s no transmogrifying one into another.” In saying this she is emphasising the Darwinian belief of apes and man sharing a common ancestor. But her statement, taken in isolation, is correct; the two are in no way related. That is, other than being made by the same wonderful Creator about 6,000 years ago.
Note also: the politician was using a weak argument which we advise against—see creation.com/dontuse. Evolutionists believe that most variation happened in small, isolated populations, so there is nothing to prevent the main group from persisting.
- Get off Chuck’s back!, news.msu.edu, 22 October 2010.
Problem for ‘Super-Earths’
Large rocky planets that some had thought had conditions suitable for the evolution of life might not be so suitable after all, say evolutionists.
One reason Earth is so life-friendly is its protective magnetic field (thought to be generated by the planet’s molten iron core). But simulations of ‘super-Earths’ up to 10 times Earth’s mass show that high pressures will keep the iron core solid. Without a magnetic field to screen out harmful radiation, planets’ atmospheres would be eroded away by particles streaming from their stars.
New Scientist concluded: “So life could have trouble getting started on super-Earths, even if they lie in the habitable zone around their stars.”
Evolutionists search for earth-like planets in hope that life appeared there, too, but it’s no accident that our planet has conditions “just right” for life (creation.com/earthspecial). Our planet was the earth that God formed to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18). This is also further evidence against evolutionary theories of the origin of our magnetic field, and support for creationist ideas—see: The earth’s magnetic field: evidence that the earth is young, Creation 20(2):15–17, 1998.
- Super Earths may be no place for life, New Scientist 208(2785):18, 6 November 2010.
Atheist speaks at Westminster Abbey
Julian Baggini wrote in The Guardian of his delivering an atheist ‘sermon’ from the pulpit of Westminster Abbey. (He’d been invited by the chaplain of Westminster School to address students about why he was an atheist.)
In his address, Baggini proposed that atheists ought not be perceived as the enemy of the church. Rather, “a far greater enemy to … the Church of England, custodian of Westminster Abbey, would be a biblical literalist.”
Thus, he concluded, “So my time in the pulpit is not so incongruous after all.” Unfortunately, all too many churches today prefer the views of atheists to Bible-believers on the watershed issue of Genesis/creation/evolution. See creation.com/appeasement.
- Atheists and believers can get along, guardian.co.uk, 17 October 2010.
‘The God Delusion’ and evolutionary teaching linked to tragedies
Police investigating the recent Colorado shooting-range death of 29-year-old Kristin Hermeler and the simultaneous attempted suicide of her twin sister Candice, report that the twins had “an unusual interest” in the 1999 massacre at the nearby Columbine High School (creation.com/bomb). And amongst the twins’ belongings the police found a copy of The God Delusion by outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins.
That was the same book that Keith Kilgore linked to the 2008 suicide of his 22-year-old son Jesse. He said a biology college professor had objected to Jesse’s professed Christian faith and challenged him to read it.
One of Jesse’s friends told Mr Kilgore afterwards that Jesse had been “very upset” by the book—“It just destroyed him.” And a relative wrote: “He had mentioned the book he had been reading, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and how it along with the science classes he had take[n] had ended his faith.”
The 2007 Finnish multiple-shooting murderer Pekka-Eric Auvinen similarly believed what he had been taught at school about origins, saying that Christians were deluded, with God existing “only in your heads” (creation.com/killer).
By teaching young people evolution as a not-to-be-challenged ‘fact’, the Western world has been sowing the seeds of its own destruction. It truly is a giant hoax, and Dawkins has certainly played a part in the propagation of such deadly influence—see creation.com/delusion and creation.com/hoax. Sadly, much of the Church has been asleep at the wheel, sending its young people into the secular educational establishment without providing them any intellectual ammunition and defence. The magazine you’re reading can help overturn that. Pass it on!
- Suicide twins had Kristin and Candice Hermeler had God Delusion in their luggage, news.com.au, 26 November 2010.
- Dad links son’s suicide to ‘The God Delusion’, www.wnd.com, 20 November 2008.
Advertising Flood evidence as evolution
A Canadian clothing company, “Arc’teryx”, uses an Archaeopteryx fossil bird as its logo to symbolize its goal: “Driven by evolution in action, we work passionately to advance performance in the harshest of environments.”
However, the company is wrong about the Archaeopteryx fossil being evidence for evolution (creation.com/archie). Such beautiful preservation requires rapid burial—note its death pose (see creation.com/death-throes).
Well-preserved fossils right around the world fit with the global Flood spoken of in the Bible (Genesis 6–9).
- About Arc’teryx, leaf.arcteryx.com, acc. 8 December 2010.
Cancer caused by the industrial revolution?
Cancer is a common killer in today’s world. Surprisingly, it seems it was the opposite in antiquity. Finding cancer in ancient references or remains is rare. People just didn’t seem to suffer from it as much as today. It isn’t because we’re living longer, because childhood cancer rates are also much higher today than in the past. That raises the question of why.
Researchers who have just recently confirmed the first Egyptian mummy diagnosed with cancer think they’ve found the answer. They blame the current prevalence of cancer on the industrial revolution: pollution and lifestyle changes have increased the incidence of cancer.
British cancer researcher Philip Bell (a creationist—see creation.com/philip-bell-cv) has pointed to breakdowns in the designed mechanism of apoptosis—orderly programmed cell removal—as one cause of many cancers (see creation.com/apoptosis).
As former Cornell professor Dr John Sanford has shown in his book (Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome) and DVD (The Mystery of Our Declining Genes), mutations are accumulating at an alarming rate in humans; we are rapidly deterioriating, and it also means we cannot have been around for vast evolutionary time periods. However, this idea goes completely against evolutionary thinking.
- Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made, physorg.com, 14 October 2010.
- Nature Reviews Cancer 10:728–733, October 2010.