Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution
It isn’t junk
We have many times reported (e.g. Creation 25(2):26–31, 2003) mounting evidence against the evolutionists’ ‘junk DNA’ idea.
Much fly DNA was previously derided as ‘junk’, because it did not contain instructions for protein-coding genes and had no known function. But now, yet another study has concluded that the ‘junk’ must play an important role, although its role has not yet been identified.
As one commentator observed, ‘It is truly amazing how little we know quantitatively about mutation and selection in the genomes of even the most well-studied organisms.’
Nature, 20 October 2005, pp. 1106, 1149–1152.
University of California, ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/science/mcjunk.asp, 25 October 2005.
Scientists finally copy Creator’s super-rubber
The stretchiest rubber in the world, resilin, comes from insects (not the rubber tree). It is responsible for the super-jumping abilities of fleas and the deafening chirps of cicadas. It also has an important role in insect wings. In fact, it was first found in dragonfly wings about 40 years ago. Resilin must also be stable enough to last an insect’s lifetime, because the adult insect does not manufacture it.
A team led by Chris Elvin, a molecular biologist at CSIRO Livestock Industries in Australia, has finally reproduced this super-rubber. But they had to copy the Manufacturer’s instructions. The resilin gene had been found within the fruit fly genome in 2001, so they copied the gene into common gut bacteria, Escherichia coli. Then the bacteria were made to follow the instructions to produce the raw protein.
Photo by Robert Jensen
But this is not enough. The protein chains must be linked together in very specific ways to produce the super-rubber. So insects require not only the instructions for the proteins, but also instructions for processing the proteins. Elvin’s team used bright light with a ruthenium metal catalyst to make the proteins link in the right way.
This artificial resilin was as good as the natural insect rubber. It was ‘almost perfectly elastic’, while even polybutadiene ‘superballs’ lose 20% of their energy with each bounce. And it can ‘stretch to three times its unstressed length without breaking’.
As Science Now put it, ‘The living world puts human engineering to shame.’ Hardly surprising, since its Engineer’s ways are as high above ours as Heaven is above Earth (Isaiah 55:8–9).
Nature, 13 October 2005, pp. 999–1002.
Science Now, sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2005/1012/1, 24 November 2005.
Downhill, not backwards
China’s hairiest man, Yu Zhenhuan, has thick hair over 96% of his body. (He is pictured here after surgery to remove hair that was impeding his hearing. Yu has previously had five operations to remove hair in problem areas, including from his nose and gums.)
He has an average of around 40 hairs per square centimetre (256 per square inch) of his skin—a condition reported as atavism, defined as ‘reversion to an earlier or primitive type’.
But note that such a definition presumes evolution, i.e. that Yu’s condition is a ‘throwback’ characteristic possessed by some hairy ape-like ancestor. In fact, it is almost certainly the result of a mutation (copying mistake in his genes) which has disrupted control of his normal hair growth. Note that apes do not have problems with hair growing in the ears, nose and gums, so this is not an example of a reversion to an ape-like state.
Such copying mistakes in the genes sadly testify not to atavism, but to the truth of the Bible’s account of an originally ‘very good’ Creation now sliding downhill, in ‘bondage to decay’, as a result of the first man’s sin.
Guangzhou Morning Post, 19 August 2004, p. 16.
MSNBC, msnbc.msn.com/id/5763610/, 24 November 2005.
Researchers released a single Norway rat onto a deserted 9.5 hectare (23.5 acre) island off New Zealand to find out why rats are so hard to eradicate—and then couldn’t catch it.
Despite an aggressive combination of traps, baits and sniffer dogs, the rat eluded recapture for 18 weeks. It turned out the rat had simply swum to a neighbouring island! (It was finally caught in a trap baited with fresh penguin.)
This provides another insight into how rats, rapidly reproducing and spreading out from the Ark’s landing site after the global Flood (Genesis 8:16–19), populated islands in the world today. (‘Land bridges’ during the Ice Age—when sea levels were lower—would have helped, too.)
Nature, 20 October 2005, p. 1107.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said recently that Britain’s churches are in such decline that if they were shops, they would have been declared bankrupt long ago.
Observing that Christian denominations had suffered plunging congregations, Dr Carey spoke of the Church ‘becoming a club for the elderly’. The Archbishop warned that it was ‘approaching meltdown’ and that the ‘last rites’ could be administered at any moment.
Hopefully Dr Carey’s words will be seen as a wake-up call to the Church—and long overdue. See ‘When will the Church wake up?’ Creation 17(3):16–18, 1995.
The Telegraph (UK), news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/10/12/nchur12.xml, 17 October 2005.
Evolution is religion
Michael Ruse, of Florida State University, is a rabid anti-creationist. But in his latest book, The Evolution-Creation Struggle (Harvard, 2005), Ruse acknowledges the religious dimension to evolution. A review in Science journal summed it up:
‘Michael Ruse interprets the last 200 years of conflict between biology and religion as a struggle between evolutionism and creationism. Evolutionism is not merely an endorsement of the scientific theory of evolution. It consists of “the whole metaphysical or ideological picture built around or on evolution,” including a belief in progress and attempts to reduce cultural and ethical values to evolutionary biology. As such, it constitutes a “secular religion.” Thus, for Ruse (a philosopher of science at Florida State University), the debate over creationism is more a conflict between two religions than one between religion and science.’
Science, 22 July 2005, p. 560; cf. the review in Journal of Creation (formerly TJ) 20(1), 2006.
‘Frozen Mars’ bar to life
For those hoping to find evidence of life on Mars, there’s been yet another disappointment.
Researchers have concluded from studying meteorites supposedly from Mars found on Earth that liquid water could never have existed for long on the Martian surface. ‘Mars may have just cooled off too quickly [for life to evolve]’, lamented one researcher.
The New Scientist headline summed it up: ‘Life was unlikely on frozen Mars’.
New Scientist, 30 July 2005, p. 14.
‘Too salty and hot’
A geologist at Arizona State University is challenging the widely accepted idea that animal life evolved in the oceans before moving onto land. Paul Knauth says that the oceans were too salty and hot for that to have happened.
So he’s suggesting instead that animals evolved in freshwater pools or lakes, migrating to the oceans later. New Scientist reports that Knauth is now looking for fossils of freshwater animals that would support his claim. So far he hasn’t found any, but said, ‘I haven’t given up yet.’
Often evolutionists themselves come to realize that a particular evolutionary scenario is impossible. But this does not shake their faith in evolution. They simply suggest an alternative (evolutionary) scenario, and try to find evidence to fit—which shows that evolution is based on (blind) faith, not fact.
New Scientist, 5 February 2005, p. 17.
There’s a widely-held view that man evolved from some primitive ape-like hunter-gatherer, later advancing to farming, and keeping livestock. An implication of this—spoken or unspoken—is that hunter-gatherer societies such as the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert (also known as the KhoiSan people) are therefore ‘primitive’ in an evolutionary sense.
But anthropologist Larry Robbins of Michigan State University and his colleagues report evidence that the KhoiSan were in fact tending livestock 2,000 years ago. So the skills and knowledge of animal husbandry which earlier generations once practised has since been lost.
While this might surprise evolutionists, it’s entirely consistent with the biblical account of history, which tells us that people have grown crops and kept flocks from the beginning (Genesis 2:15, 3:19, 4:2).
New Scientist, 13 August 2005, p. 18.
The Liaoning fossil beds in China have provided evidence that at least some dinosaurs may have been doting parents.
A ‘dramatic specimen’ of the dinosaur Psittacosaurus sp. (‘parrot lizard’) shows 34 juveniles clustered around an adult. The ‘consistently lifelike postures’—the adult and juveniles were all buried in an upright position, with heads raised—suggest that the psittacosaurs were rapidly entombed while still alive. Researchers suggest volcanic debris, a collapsing burrow or flooding of a nest may have been to blame.
The tightly clustered Psittacosaurus, with such a large number of advanced juveniles, shows parental care was extensive, say the researchers.
This collection, and many others right around the world, are evidence of rapid burial in the global Flood (Genesis 6–9).
Nature, 9 September 2004, pp. 145–146.
Star formation mystery deepens
Astronomers have recently discovered that the galaxy known as NGC 300 is much larger than previously thought—a very large, but very thin and flat, disk.
But finding such large thin flat objects in the universe presents ‘some serious conundrums’ for astronomers trying to understand how stars, galaxies and the cosmos itself could have formed.
Current evolutionary theories say that galaxies form as a result of matter colliding. But Professor Jos Bland-Hawthorn of the Anglo-Australian Observatory and his colleagues, who reported their NGC 300 findings in The Astrophysical Journal, point out that crashing objects together tends to form round objects rather than flat ones.
Compounding the mystery is the fact that redshift indicators point to such flat, thin galaxies in the early universe already being very large. Also the current theory that stars form where there is a high density of gas doesn’t fit with conditions in the outer part of a disk galaxy where stars are found.
As Bland-Hawthorn observed: ‘It’s getting harder and harder to explain how stars form.’
Not surprising—when the Creator is ruled out and His Word is disregarded!
Alaskan dino track
A three-toed dinosaur footprint has been discovered in Alaska. From its size (22 cm (9 in) long, 15 cm (6 in) wide), the curator of Earth Sciences at the Dallas Museum of Natural History, Anthony Fiorillo, estimates it was a meat-eater 2.7 m (9 ft) to 4 m (13 ft) long.
‘You are looking at a very large, birdlike animal except it has teeth and a tail and instead of wings, it has arms,’ he said. He also estimates it to be about 70 million years old.
But how could anyone deduce that degree of detail from a mere footprint? One might just as easily say: ‘From this footprint, I deduce you’re looking at a reptile-like creature, except it suckles its young and is warm-blooded, and instead of scales, it has fur.’
Sadly many people will be taken in by such confident assertions, trusting the millions-of- years age ascribed to the footprint, instead of the Bible’s clear teaching that nothing is older than around 6,000 years.
ABC News, <abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=912572>, 15 December 2005.
The British popular science magazine Focus, on receiving a reader’s question, ‘How soon could Adam and Eve have populated the world?’, published the following response:
‘If you believe the Biblical account of the Creation, it’s possible to get a very rough estimate of the time when Adam and Eve existed. The trouble is that it inevitably involves assumptions about birth and death rates, and these can have a dramatic effect on the final estimate. If we assume a historical average net rate of population growth of 0.5 per cent (around one-third of today’s rate), it would take around 4,400 years to get from Adam and Eve to today’s six billion people. But by changing that growth figure to 0.4 per cent, an extra 1,000 years must be added.’
Their 4,400 year figure equates to the time that Noah and his family (from whom all people today are descended) came off the Ark. Such straightforward thinking ought to make people doubt claims that man has been around for hundreds of thousands of years. See also Where are all the people?.
Focus, December 2004, p. 49.
Lungfish not ‘primitive’
Evolutionists refer to lungfish as ‘living fossils’, unchanged for over 100 million years. They regard the Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri) as ‘the most primitive of the living lungfishes’ and consider it the closest living relative to the first creatures on land—our ancient ancestors. (In broad terms, the evolutionary progression is microbes-fish-amphibians-reptiles-mammals.)
Wikipedia.org, released under the GFDL
But recently-discovered complex ‘Technicolor’ vision in the Australian lungfish is anything but ‘primitive’. These unusual fish have genes for five different forms of visual pigment in their eyes (humans have only three). And this in a large, slow-moving fish for which vision had been assumed to be of little importance.
So, a puzzle for evolutionists: why should such complex vision have evolved? From a biblical perspective though, there’s no mystery. Lungfish were created by an obviously masterful Designer to reproduce ‘after their kind’—lungfish have always been lungfish, since God created the universe around 6,000 years ago. And the evolutionists’ conundrum of ‘living fossils’ arises out of their wrongly viewing rock strata as a record of evolution (and extinction) over millions of years rather than as a legacy of the cataclysmic global Flood about 4,500 years ago.
PHYSORG.COM, www.physorg.com/news6588.html, 21 September 2005.
Settlers feared the bunyip
Sketch courtesy of The Geelong Advertiser
Sketch in the 1991 Geelong Advertiser, after the sketch in the July 1845 edition.
When Europeans settled in Australia, Aboriginal stories about a bellowing water monster said to live at the bottom of billabongs (ponds/lakes) were understood by many settlers as more than myth. Aboriginal people living along the Coorong in South Australia described the ‘bunyip’ as a huge man-eating creature having a long neck, a head like a bird, and an elongated body. In the 1800s, some settlers claimed to have fleetingly seen it, and many others reported ‘its blood-chilling cry’ was akin to that of a distressed seal.
And in the 1930s Depression, vagrants living off the land were said to have been threatened by the creature.
Reported sightings have declined in recent years—perhaps because of human encroachment on its habitat, forcing it into more remote areas or even into extinction.
In Creation 15(2):51, 1993, we reported Aboriginal accounts of a different ‘bunyip’ described in a Victorian newspaper in 1845. The description bore a strong resemblance to what today are known as duck-billed dinosaurs—and that news report was published 13 years before the first duck-billed dinosaur fossils were described.
The Advertiser (Adelaide), 12 March 2005, p. 55.
Attenborough’s anti-God musings
When asked about a Creator, renowned nature documentary presenter Sir David Attenborough (pictured) replied:
‘Think of a parasitic worm that lives only in the eyeballs of human beings, boring its way through them, in West Africa, for example, where it’s common, turning people blind. So if you say, “I believe that God designed and created and brought into existence every single species that exists,” then you’ve also got to say, “Well, he, at some stage, decided to bring into existence a worm that’s going to turn people blind.” Now, I find that very difficult to reconcile with notions about a merciful God.’
This objection to a Creator ignores the biblical account of the Fall. The world we have today is no longer the ‘very good’ world that God made (Genesis 1:31) but a cursed world into which has come death, disease, bloodshed. It’s a world ‘in bondage to decay’ because of the first man’s sin ( Genesis 2:16–17, 3:6, 14–23 ; Romans 8:21). (See The Creation Answers Book ch. 6, Refuting Evolution II ch. 4, Walking through Shadows—contact addresses p. 2.)
Sadly, Sir David’s influence is such that his musings receive wide publicity. New Scientist quoted his opinion regarding human extinction:
‘If we [humans] disappeared overnight, the world would probably be better off.’
This comment flies in the face of God having originally installed man to ‘fill the earth and subdue it’ and to ‘rule’ over the living creatures (Genesis 1:27–28). And of course it’s obvious that humans will still be here (i.e. will not be extinct) when Jesus returns (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).
Enough Rope, www.abc.net.au/tv/enoughrope/transcripts/s951650.htm, 23 November 2005.
New Scientist, 19 November 2005, p. 10.
‘No God’ research
A team of researchers will receive US$1 million annually from Harvard University over the next few years in a special initiative to study how life began. But it seems the researchers have already made up their mind about how life didn’t begin.
‘My expectation is that we will be able to reduce this to a very simple series of logical events that could have taken place with no divine intervention,’ said David Liu, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard.
Millions of dollars … in an apparent desperate quest to show there’s no God, despite overwhelming evidence of a Designer (see e.g. Design Features Questions and Answers). The researchers would do well to heed the words of the Creator Himself, which are ‘trustworthy, making wise the simple’ (Psalm 19:7):
‘You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”?’ (Isaiah 29:16).
MSNBC News, www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8959763/, 25 November 2005.
Ancient complex machines
The distinctive spiral grooves found on an ancient jade ring indicate that 2,500 years ago China was already using complex machines.
While simple machines that move in only one way (like a potter’s wheel) were in use earlier, this is the oldest evidence yet of compound machines—those which combine two types of motion—circular and radial.
Man has been intelligent from the beginning of creation, e.g. making and using metal tools (Genesis 4:22).
New Scientist, www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99995103, 28 June 2004.