This article is from
Creation 13(1):5–8, December 1990

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Focus: News of interest about creation and evolution

Alien contact due any time?

Intelligent life on another planet could be discovered at any time, a leading Australian astronomer says.

Dr. Alan Wright, resident astronomer at the Australia Telescope at Parkes, says the prospects of finding signs of extraterrestrial intelligence within the next 40 years are extremely high.

Dr. Wright and a team of astronomers have just completed a survey of 24 stars closest to our solar system—within 20 light years. They failed to detect any signs of intelligent life. ‘We must recognize that all the elements for life, including us, was [sic] originally formed in the cauldrons of giant, exploding stars’, Dr. Wright says.

The Australian, October 23, 1990 (p. 44).

Excitement over finding extraterrestrial life seems to be a little premature. Evolution of life on earth hasn’t been proved—let alone elsewhere—and no planets outside our solar system have even been found. Critics of funding such searches claim it’s hard enough finding intelligent life on earth!

Aussie lizard puzzle

An Australian gecko which reproduces without male fertilization has provided University of Queensland zoologist Dr. Craig Moritz with an interesting study. This form of reproduction seems to be very successful, and in fact seems to give a population advantage, for it takes only one lizard, not two, to make another one. So Dr. Moritz raises the obvious question of why sex should have evolved at all.

He says, ‘Our evolutionary theory, which we think is pretty crash hot, now if that can’t explain something as obvious as sex then maybe we missed something fairly fundamental’.

Univoice, (University of Queensland), August 15, 1990 (p. 11).

They surely have!

Baby’s rights

Students at a church school in Lorain, Ohio, express their opposition to abortion by adding five words to the Pledge of Allegiance. After the words ‘liberty and justice for all’, they now add the words ‘for the born and unborn’.

USA Today (intl. edition), October 13, 1990, p. 3A.

Barrier Reef not so old

Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef is possibly more than 40 times younger than evolutionist scientists have thought. Scientists involved in a world-wide $65 million-a-year effort to plumb the secrets of the ocean say the reef is possibly younger than 500,000 years. Until recently they believed it was 20 million years old.

They now say it is ‘too new’ to yield commercial quantities of oil or gas. Expedition co-leader Dr. Peter Davies said test drilling off the seaward face of the reef had also shown that the underlying sediment essential to hydrocarbon development was significantly younger than expected.

The Sun, (Brisbane), October 15, 1990 (p. 3).

Other research indicates that the reef may be only about 3,700 years old, which fits well with the creationist ‘young earth’ time-scale. (See Creation magazine, Vol. 8 No. 1, November 1985.) Also, oil and gas don’t necessarily need thousands of years to form (see Creation magazine. Vol. 12 No. 2, 1990.)

Calling all ants…

Some species of caterpillars can only escape being preyed upon when ants protect them. To attract the ants, which just happen to dote on the caterpillars’ special secretions, the caterpillars emit vibrational signals across leaves and twigs.

In addition to their secretory structures, the caterpillars have novel vibrators to send out their calls to the ants for protection. A few butterfly species from all continents except Antarctica have these devices. Researcher P.J. DeVries looked at this geographical spread and thinks the two sets of organs must have developed independently at least three times.

Science Frontiers, September-October, 1990 (p. 2).

Science, Vol. 248:1104, 1990.

The question for evolutionists is how such complex symbiotic relationships could evolve at all—let alone trying to explain how the two sets of organs could evolve independently three times! Surely it makes more sense to accept that this arrangement involved planning and design by the Creator in the beginning.

Carbon dating admission

Some limitations of carbon dating are frankly discussed in a new book published by the Trustees of the British Museum. Dr. Sheridan Bowman’s book, Radiocarbon Dating, says, ‘Radiocarbon is not quite as straightforward as it may seem. The technique does not in fact provide true ages, and radiocarbon results must be adjusted (calibrated) to bring them into line with calendar ages’.

The author notes that many variable factors can produce a wrong date. She also notes the practice of archaeologists to:

  • Publish the radiocarbon results if they agree with the conclusions they have already drawn from ceramic evidence;
  • Ignore the results if they don’t agree with their own conclusions.

Diggings, August 1990 (p. 8).

Early bird catches the evolutionist

The ‘world’s oldest bird’ has put evolutionists out on a limb.

A nearly complete skeleton of a sparrow-sized bird, said to be 135 million years old on the evolutionists’ time-scale, has many scientists puzzled because it seems so modern. The bird was found in China three years ago. Assistant Professor of Paleontology at the University of Chicago, Dr. Paul Sereno, says, ‘If you saw this bird perched in a tree it would probably appear modern, with flying and perching abilities virtually identical to today’s birds.’

Dr. Sereno said it was a surprise to find this bird’s flight structure ‘so well evolved’. ‘It’s exciting to find such a clear intermediary step between dinosaurs and the birds of today’, he said.

The Sydney Morning Herald, October 13, 1990 (p. 13).

There seems to be a considerable over-reaction to this ‘clear intermediary step’ when the bird appears ‘virtually identical’ to today’s birds. Evolutionists in fact are still looking for evidence that reptiles’ scales evolved into birds’ feathers and that legs evolved into wings. They always will be looking, because birds didn’t evolve. They were created, as Genesis 1 says.

Everest is still rising

Mount Everest is nearly half a metre (1.5 feet) higher than when New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary climbed it in May 1953.

The world’s highest mountain is still officially 29,078 feet. But it is growing at half an inch (more than one centimetre) each year, says the head of a group of geologists at the University of Boulder, Colorado, Professor Roger Bilham.

‘And Everest, which about 10 million years ago was under the sea, will go on growing because there is nothing to erode it’, Professor Bilham says.

The Courier-Mail, (Brisbane), September 12, 1990 (p. 1).

Everest’s height has been awkward to precisely measure because of the difficulty of determining mean sea-level under the mountain. Yet if the figure given in this report is correct, half an inch growth each year with no erosion puts Everest’s beginning at 697,872 years ago—not 10 million. This is using evolutionary (uniformitarian) assumptions and assuming the ground was flat to begin with. This gives no support to evolutionists’ claims that Everest is millions of years old.

Fishy birth

A laundry-woman in the Philippines claims she gave birth to a fish. Felina de la Cruz, 45, said she had an 18 centimetre (1.5 feet) mudfish on October 13 in her home north of Manila. She named the fish Angeline Dyesebel.

The greenish fish was put in an aquarium at the local mayor’s home, where an armed guard had to control crowds.

Mrs. de la Cruz tried to bottle-feed the fish. Milk dribbled from its lips, but the crowd insisted it was sucking. The woman’s husband, Romeo, said the fish said ‘ik-ik’ shortly after its birth.

A doctor from Cabanatuan City general hospital said a colleague who examined Mrs. de la Cruz before the alleged ‘delivery’ was convinced she was not pregnant.

Herald-Sun, (Melbourne), October 18, 1990 (p. 19).

We would not have published this report except that many people apparently believed that a human could give birth to a fish. This is not so far removed from the imagined evolutionary idea that fish have given birth to amphibians, reptiles have given birth to birds and mammals, and so on. The truth is that creatures reproduce ‘after their kind’—fish produce fish, humans produce humans. That’s the way it’s always been and always will be.

Frog sings underwater

A frog has been discovered singing underwater, says a herpetologist from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Alejandro Purgue says he used US Navy hydrophones and computer analysis to discover the amazing feature of the South American frog Leptodactylus ocellatus. He found that the male frog calls in the frequency range of 250 to 500 hertz, presumably to announce his territory and to attract a mate.

Purgue noticed that a different type of frog calls in a similar range at many of the same ponds, but its song is much louder. L. ocellatus apparently avoids competition from the other frog by singing his song underwater. Purgue says, ‘This underwater channel has no other species calling in a close frequency range’.

Science News, August 11, 1990 (p. 93).

Scientists have suspected that a few frog species might call underwater, but this seems to be the first well-documented case.

A lean Christmas for beetles?

The traditional Australian herald of the festive season, the Christmas beetle, is in for lean times.

The eucalypt trees it feasts on every summer have developed a volatile oil in their leaves which the beetles dislike. The research team which discovered this natural beetle-repellent hopes to breed it into eucalypts being planted for the government’s $4 million afforestation program. The discovery is said to be the first evidence anywhere of a defence mechanism evolving within one part of an individual plant.

Herald-Sun, (Melbourne), October 16, 1990 (p. 22).

Such reports give the impression that this oil (and the complex genetic mechanisms for its manufacture and distribution) have appeared in the trees and were not previously present. Remember when we were told that insects had ‘evolved’ resistance to DDT? We now know the resistance factors were already in the population.

Missing neutrino mystery deepens

A joint Soviet-US team has failed to find anywhere near the required amount of the subatomic particles called neutrinos which, according to current theories of how the sun gets its energy, should be arriving at the earth. This has endorsed findings of others.

A 20-year experiment in an old US gold mine found only one-third the predicted amount. This was recently verified by a Japanese experiment using a different method, which confirmed that the small number found were indeed coming from the sun. The latest experiment found none.

New Scientist, August 18, 1990 (p. 16).

There are several possible explanations for this. One is that many of these particles (which come in different forms) are changing to another form during their journey. Another is that the sun does not burn by nuclear fusion at all, but by gravitational collapse (as proposed by Helmholtz). However, this would sound the death knell for the idea of vast evolutionary ages.

The Moon…updating the cheese theory

An argument still rages among some scientists about how the moon was formed.

Two scientists from the Australian National University in Canberra have been locking horns over the matter for years.

Professor Ted Ringwood has long held the view that the moon was formed from the mantle of the earth. Dr. Stuart Ross Taylor believes the moon came from the remnants of a giant planetary body the size of Mars which collided with earth long ago.

Professor Ringwood recently had an article published in Nature challenging the impact theory which was promoted by Dr. Taylor in Nature last year. Each author has shown that the other’s theory is wrong.

The Sydney Morning Herald, October 20, 1990 (p. 23).

Creationists can agree with both these scientists that their rival’s theory is wrong. The debate about how the moon formed can only continue for those who don’t accept the Creator’s Word that He created ‘the two great lights’ on the fourth day of Creation week.

Rapid burial

Hundreds of places throughout the world have huge numbers of fossils which are well preserved because the processes of rotting have been held up ‘for reasons that are still largely obscure’.

The best example is the famous Burgess Shale in British Columbia, Canada. This has vast numbers of exquisitely preserved specimens, with more than a hundred species—almost all soft-bodied or delicate—labelled as ‘Cambrian’. These specimens were discovered in 1909 and were carefully re-examined in the 1960s. The sediment in many of them had infiltrated between the appendages in a way that indicated they had to be ‘carried along in a slurry of mud and water’. This was confirmed by the fact that some were buried at all angles to the plane of bedding, even ‘standing on their heads’.

New Scientist, August 11, 1990 (p. 26-30).

Creationists have long pointed out that such preservation is not mysterious under conditions of rapid burial in massive flooding, with subsequent rapid hardening. In spite of all the evidence consistent with massive sorting and burial during Noah’s Flood, the idea that creatures take millions of years to fossilize (while lying quietly on the ocean floor and not rotting for ‘obscure’ reasons) is firmly rooted in our culture.

Snakes rattle and roll

Snakes wearing tiny oxygen masks while slithering on treadmills at a university apparently have refuted conventional wisdom about evolution. Scientists at the University of California at Irvine measured the oxygen consumed by the snakes. They concluded that, contrary to earlier predictions, limbless locomotion does not conserve energy. Conventional wisdom was that snakes evolved towards more economical, legless, forms. Now it seems that snakes spend at least as much energy moving—and in some cases much more—as do legged animals.

Evolutionary biologist Bruce Jayne says, ‘It’s long been an evolutionary puzzle why many vertebrates lost limbs entirely. The suggestion that the loss of limbs conveys an energetic advantage for locomotion is not the case at all.’

San Francisco Examiner, August 12, 1990.

Surtsey sparkles with life

For more than 25 years Sturla Fridriksson has had a ringside seat to watch the growing population of the world’s youngest island—Surtsey.

The Icelandic scientist has been recording the arrival, spread, and departure of life-forms on this recently formed island off the southern coast of Iceland. Surtsey, two kilometres square, was born from volcanic eruptions that began in November 1983. ‘Every time scientists go there, they make new discoveries’, Fridriksson says.

About 25 species of plants have been recorded on Surtsey, their seeds born by wind or floating debris, carried by birds, or even attached to fish eggs that float ashore. Six species of seabirds now breed on the island.

National Geographic, October 1990.

Surtsey is of interest to creationists because it is evidence of how rapidly life-forms can start making a home on land that was under water a few decades ago. Such examples show the plausibility of a rapid repopulation of the earth after Noah’s Flood.