Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution
Black hole discovered
Even astronomers previously skeptical about the existence of black holes (a prediction of Einstein's theory of general relativity) now seem convinced that the Hubble telescope has found a huge black hole at the heart of galaxy M87. The speed of the gas rotating around this 'very large and very dark' object (at almost 2 million kilometres per hour) indicates that it contains a mass equivalent to that of 2-3 billion suns.
Observations at this galactic centre fit the requirements for a black hole, with no conceivable alternatives. Holland Ford, of the Space Telescope Science Institute, quipped, 'If it is not a black hole, it's something stranger.' Science, Vol.264, June 3, 1994 (p. 1405), Nature, Vol.369, June 2, 1994 (p. 345).
This apparent discovery, which is also one more confirmation of general relativity, is highly relevant to a new explanation of how distant starlight could have reached the Earth in a universe created only thousands of years ago (see ‘Cosmic Breakthrough!’ in this issue).
Is Fido the wolf that wouldn't grow up?
When wolves grow, they go through crucial stages of development that are 'orchestrated by genes turning on and off at crucial moments'. Researchers have noted that young foxes and wolves are much more trusting and puppy-like than the adults. So if this genetic timing is delayed (e.g. by mutation), then such a 'Peter Pan wolf' would be very much like a domestic dog.
This may shed light on how our dogs arose from wolf-like ancestors (the same created kind). In support of this, a Russian researcher has been able to breed yapping, floppy-eared, piebald tame foxes with wagging upright tails in only a few generations.
Bob Wayne from the University of California, Los Angeles, points out that all dogs start out looking much the same — profoundly different from the adult dog. So by selecting those whose development has been stopped at different stages, one could get a huge variety of 'dog-shapes'—with no new information. Kittens, however, are very much like adult cats. This could explain why dog breeds vary greatly in shape but cats do not.
The average dog has a brain-to-weight size far less than a wolf, which might be because dogs have been 'stuck with wolf-puppy brains'. Discover, October, 1994, (pp. 93-98).
One or a few such 'delayed development’ mutations, plus the intense selection pressures after the Flood/Babel, may explain some of the variation in skull shapes and brain sizes among early human populations (see ‘Neanderthal children’s fossils’ in this issue).
Student evolution belief drops
Belief in evolution among genetics students fell from 81 per cent to 62 per cent during their course at university, a survey has found.
The survey asked students in 10 courses at Central Michigan University at the start and end of a semester about their beliefs on creation and evolution.
The pollsters expressed surprise that an extra one in five of the genetics students abandoned evolutionary belief during their course.
Among other results, 81 per cent of the students thought creation should be taught in public schools, 60 per cent thought this would not be allowing religion into the schools, and 60 per cent thought textbooks and school curricula should be changed to present both creation and evolution. Creation/Evolution, Summer 1994 (pp. 27-29).
New Dinosaur Graveyard
Researchers will be digging up dinosaur fossils for years in a rich, newly discovered dinosaur graveyard in Wyoming, USA.
'The place is just crawling with bones', said Smithsonian palaeontologist Michael Brett-Surman, who led a dig at the site.
The newly found fossil field may prove to have more dinosaur bones than Utah's famous Dinosaur National Monument, or any other fossil prospecting area in North America. Billings Gazette (Montana), August 2, 1994 (p. 1).
Fossil dinosaur graveyards are clear evidence that some catastrophe, such as Noah’s Flood, overwhelmed the area. Bones don’t just sit around waiting to fossilize—they rot, unless buried quickly.
Reports of a large flightless bird, believed to be a moa, in a remote valley in New Zealand have caused renewed interests in the bird, which was long thought to be extinct.
The largest moas (up to three metres, or 10 feet, high) are believed to have been killed off centuries ago, but many scientists have allowed the possibility that smaller species survived on New Zealand's South Island. This is because early settlers and seal-hunters reported seeing birds which seem to have been moas.
Hopes that the moa sighting is genuine have been boosted by the discovery this century of another large bird, the Notornis. An expedition to an unmapped valley and lake in New Zealand's southern alps in 1948 found a thriving colony of Notornis. The West Australian, September 12, 1994.
This report notes that at one time evolutionists believed that the giant flightless birds—moas, ostriches, rheas, emus and cassowaries—were all related and were a primitive group which had not yet evolved the ability to fly. Now they believe the birds evolved from flying ancestors and are not from a common stock. But loss of the ability to fly, and having no common ancestor, fits the creation model better than an evolutionary one.
Big Bang Against Great Wall Causes Headaches
Last decade, researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics mapped a huge chunk of deep space in the northern sky, and showed that the distribution of galaxies on a large scale was not uniform, as traditional 'big bang' theory predicted, but was incredibly 'lumpy'. Among their discoveries was the so-called 'Great Wall'—a massive wall of galaxies stretching hundreds of millions of light years.
Was this an unusual portion of the heavens? Not according to a similar exhaustive survey of sky over the southern hemisphere. This 3-D map of galaxy distribution 'looks just like the one in the north: There are lengthy arcs of galaxies, puzzling voids, even a southern counterpart to the "Great Wall"…'.
These large-scale structures are 'sowing confusion' among theorists. The Harvard-Smithsonian's Margaret Geller says, '…we don't know how to make them. We don't know how to make the structure of the universe.'
Many readers will remember the minor temperature 'ripples' detected by COBE in the cosmic microwave background. These caused ecstasy among 'big bangers'. Here were supposed to be the 'seeds' of irregularity (in an otherwise uniform early universe) which would have allowed today's lumpy universe to evolve by gravity.
However, the universe appears to be much too lumpy for these 'insufficient seeds'. As Geller says, 'Gravity can't, over the age of the universe, amplify these irregularities enough.'
The problem (for 'big bang' cosmology) is likely to get worse, says Geller, who expects the even more ambitious surveys of deeper space already in the pipeline to reveal even greater clumps of galaxies, which 'should give theorists even bigger headaches.' Science, Vol. 263, March 25, 1994 (p. 1684).
Life on Mars Search…Again!
NASA is planning another mission to Mars in an attempt to find evidence of life on the red planet, or at least evidence that life once existed there.
The earlier Viking mission, which included a landing on Mars, failed to find evidence for life—much to the surprise and chagrin of those involved. The Sun-Herald (Sydney), September 11, 1994 (p. 44), Search, Vol.25 No.4, May 1994 (pp. 117-119).
Once again, huge amounts of public money are being spent trying to prove that life could have just 'happened’ and is in no way special. With all we know about the biochemical processes of living things, it is impossible that even the so-called 'simplest’ living cell could come about by random (natural) processes.
Twins in Black and White
The birth of twins with different skin colours in Britain in August 1994 has been claimed to be a more common occurrence in New Zealand.
A couple in Tauranga (New Zealand) reminded people that they have seven-year-old twin daughters—one light and one dark—and in Dunedin 12-year-old twins Michael and Alastair Fraser are known as the 'black and white' twins because Michael looks European while Alastair has Maori features.
The Tauranga twins, Melissa and Marianna Waamu, have become less alike as they have grown older. Melissa is taller, with dark brown eyes and black curly hair. Marianna took on the light European tonings of her mother, with straight red hair.
Doctors in Britain said the chances of producing such black and white twins were a million to one. The Dominion (Wellington, NZ), August 31, 1994 (p. 8).
An entire range of skin colour, from very white to very black, can occur in just one generation with the right parents. This is a strong argument against the idea that the races have been evolving separately over a long time and have needed to do so to produce national characteristics seen today.
Grave Error in Ideas About Aborigines
Australia's Aborigines, when first 'discovered' by Europeans, were nomadic hunter-gatherers. The standard evolutionary assumption has been that they never attained a more complex society.
The discovery of a mass cemetery at Lake Victoria in New South Wales looks set to change the stereotype that Aborigines have always been small, wandering bands. The site contains as many as 10,000 human skeletons, suggesting a settled civilization.
The idea that nomadic people carried their dead to a central place seems unlikely, because the bones show signs of being buried with the flesh intact. Nomadic Aborigines allow flesh to decompose before transportation, to lighten the load.
The site also appears to have supported an organized tool-making industry, among other evidence indicating sustained use of natural resources (normally associated with agricultural societies). These were 'substantial communities living in a very rich landscape', says Australian National University's Alan Thorne. Science, Vol.264, June 3, 1994 (p. 1403).
Following the Babel dispersion, the early Aboriginal immigrants who reached the rich, permanent waterways of the Murray-Darling system would not have had to resort to agriculture. Present-day nomadic groups in Australia’s harsh, dry interior may be the descendants of small numbers of individuals marginalized from larger, more coastal communities.
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Creation 17:1 (December 1994)
Creation 17:1 (December 1994)