This article is from
Creation 19(3):6–9, June 1997

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Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution

No Dino Feathers after all

Last issue we commented sceptically on a report of ‘feathers’ on a fossil dinosaur in China. This ‘proof’ that dinosaurs had evolved into birds sent the evolutionary world into a frenzy.

Now four leading American fossil experts, including Yale’s John Ostrom, have returned from examining the fossil. They all agree that the puzzling structures, long parallel arrays of fibres, do not have the branching pattern of true feathers, and are ‘not true feathers’ after all.

Will we see the withdrawal of this evolutionary ‘proof’ get the same coverage as the original announcement in the popular press? Somehow, having seen what happened with the ‘Mars life’ and similar ‘discoveries’, we doubt it.

New Scientist, April 12, 1997, p. 13.

Down-under dating dilemma

HUGE publicity was given recently to a claim by some Australian scientists that ‘absolute dating methods’ had shown an Aboriginal site to be 116,000 to 176,000 years old.

Now independent experts have reinterpreted their data and claim that the date should be revised to less than 20,000 years. Dr Nigel Spooner says that when he checked the data on a sample dated at 50,000 years, his figure would be 5,000 years, probably less.

The Australian, February 18, 1997, p. 3.

The Canberra Times, February 18, 1997.

Even the oft-cited claim that thermoluminescence dating proves that Aboriginal history extends back for 60,000 years has been slammed by other evolutionists, who insist that more recent carbon dating techniques shave 20,000 years off that. Sadly, many Christians use such fallible methods to ‘adjust’ their understanding of God’s Word.

Jurassic bark for sale

THREE years ago, the world of science was stunned when a tree was found growing in Wollemi National Park, near Sydney, Australia, which was otherwise known only from identical fossils in ‘dinosaur-age rock’. One scientist exclaimed that it was ‘like finding a live dinosaur’. So it was, but the anti-evolutionary implications were lost on most — not, however, the commercial implications. The New South Wales Government, having been able to produce 500 young trees from seeds and cuttings, is seeking expressions of interest to market the Wollemi Pine by early next year.

Sydney Sun Herald, February 16, p. 7.

It seems the psychological appeal of having a ‘prehistoric’ tree in your backyard overrides simple logic; by definition, no living tree can be ‘prehistoric’.

Amazing diving bird

Guillemot drawing
SOME 90 metres (300 feet) below Britain’s North Sea, operators of a remote video camera were astonished to see a guillemot bird casually swimming around at a depth and pressure which would force humans to wear a reinforced suit. The previously known record for this bird was around two-thirds of this depth. Although penguins have been recorded at some 480 metres (1600 feet), these do not fly as well as dive, as guillemots do. The (obviously created) design requirements are astounding, yet birds of the auk family have exceeded this achievement by diving to depths of 190 metres (630 feet).

The Times, London, May 9, 1996.

Evolutionists both right (sort of)

DOCTOR Carl Swisher has redated Indonesian Homo erectus fossils to around 27,000 years ago. This is some 30,000 to 400,000 years younger than previously thought. He claims that this means that they coexisted with modern humans. Disputing the claim, DR Milford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan points out that the dating was only done on nearby buffalo teeth, which could have come from somewhere else. He says that the skull fragments were very much like those of Australian Aborigines.

The Cairns Post, December 14, 1996, p. 39.

Swisher is right that so-called ‘erectus’ existed with ‘sapiens’, since both were people, which explains the similarity to Aboriginal skulls today. Wolpoff is also right in that the dates are not to be trusted.

Lessons from Biosphere 2

BIOSPHERE 2 was an attempt to set up an isolated living environment which would supply all the factors necessary for sustaining life in a range of ecosystems. It was to be a self-contained microcosm of life on earth, containing soil, air, water, plants and animals (‘Biosphere 1’ is earth itself). Biosphere 2 originally consisted of an air-tight enclosure covering 1.3 hectares (3.15 acres) in Arizona. Despite an investment of about $US 200 million from 1984 to 1991, a multi-million dollar operating budget, almost unlimited technological support and almost heroic effort, it proved impossible to sustain eight human beings with adequate food, water and air for two years.

Just 1.3 years after enclosure in 1991, oxygen levels had fallen to the point that oxygen had to be added from the outside. Nineteen of 25 vertebrate species placed in the unit became extinct. All the species which could pollinate the plants became extinct, as did most insects. Water and air pollution became acute and temperature control was a problem.

In a commentary in Science, Joel Cohen and David Tilman commented: ‘No one yet knows how to engineer systems that provide humans with the life- supporting services that natural eco-systems produce for free . . . Earth remains the only known home that can sustain life.’

Science 274:1150–1151, 1996.

With all the intelligence put into the design of Biosphere 2, it couldn’t be made to work, yet the wonderfully integrated ecosystems of Earth supposedly just happened without intelligent design!

Orderly design finding rattles big bangers

AN international team of astronomers led by an Estonian academic published their analysis of galaxy clusters in the journal Nature (January 9, 1997). They conclude that ‘the large-scale structure of the cosmos is an orderly rectangular, three-dimensional latticework of clusters and voids’. The lines of concentrated matter appear to be spaced at fairly regular 91 million-light-year intervals. The Washington Post’s Kathy Sawyer says this is a ‘surprise’ because ‘leading theories’ of cosmological evolution (i.e. ‘big bang’ theories) say that galaxy distribution (as you would expect from an explosion) is supposed to be ‘random’.

An Internet posting quotes the New York Times (undated) as saying that this finding, like a massive 3-D chessboard, looks as if it will require some ‘new laws of physics’ to explain it.

‘Universe orderly, say scientists’, Chronicle Telegram, USA, 14 January, 1997.

Note how dreaming up unknown laws is preferable to postulating intelligent design and/or to doubting the evolutionary ‘big bang’ idea, which has unfortunately captured the minds of some prominent evangelicals due to intensive lobbying by ‘progressive creationists’.

Human brains cannot evolve further

UK researchers have claimed that our brains are at (or very close to) the maximum information-processing capability possible. They determined this from modelling the balance between the nerve cells and the nourishing blood vessels, while looking for ways for the brain to evolve to more intelligence. One said it would be ‘hard to improve’ on what evolution had already achieved. Human brains, in proportion to body weight, are ‘about three times as big as chimpanzee brains. Chimps also lack the human brain’s deep cortex, believed to be the seat of consciousness, and the centre of higher thought processes such as speech and memory.’

New Scientist 153(2066):14, January 25, 1997.

Since the brain did not evolve, but was made by the living God in Whose image we were made, for communion with Him, it is not surprising that it is already an optimal design.

Darwin a plagiarist?

LEADING transplant surgeon William Dempster claims in a recent book that Darwin’s well-known mystery illness, which caused him to spend most of his adult life in bed for no apparent reason, was actually brought about by fear of being exposed as a plagiarist. A timber merchant called Patrick Matthew had thought of the same theory of evolution in 1831. Darwin acknowledged Matthew’s work in the second edition of his book, but claimed he did not know about it when he first wrote.

The Australian, ‘Darwin and the origin of the specious’, April 18, 1996.

Creationist teacher should be punished more

AARON Mason, a teacher in a Washington State school, was suspended for two days without pay for showing a creation video and arranging a creationist guest speaker to present scientific evidence supporting creation and a young earth to his eighth-grade class.

However, the ironically named humanist thought police, the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote to the district superintendent complaining that this was not enough, since Mason had ‘shattered the foundation for the students’ further science education’. The ACLU noted that Mason had ‘crossed the line’ before — while working as a highschool wrestling coach, he had worn a shirt depicting Jesus.

‘Teacher’s creationism lesson causes stir’, Philadelphia Inquirer, USA, August 22, 1996.

Because of the church’s failure to appreciate the threat of evolutionism (the foundation of humanism, which denies absolutes) U.S. society has radically changed in a few decades. Humanism is totally intolerant of the Christian world view. Openly evolutionist Supreme Court judges have progressively twisted the U.S. Constitution’s intention regarding separation of Church and State. What was meant to be freedom of religion has become freedom from religion (except humanism).

Neandertals in the news

* U.S. academics claim that Neandertal noses were huge — thus they were a separate species (i.e. incapable of interbreeding with ‘modern’ humans). 1

* An Australian paleo-anthropologist, however, is convinced that Neandertal genes are in modern populations — as evidenced by the large Gallic nose. 2

* A European team has concluded that fossil bones at a site containing typical ‘modern human’ (Cro-Magnon) bone ornaments and sophisticated stone tools were from Neandertals. It is unknown whether they copied, or traded with, the Cro- Magnon culture. 3

* A carefully buried Neandertal infant in a Northern Syrian cave has confirmed not only a high level of cultural sophistication, but a larger average brain size than people today. 4

* A Slovenian Neandertal site has yielded a musical flute made from a bear’s thighbone. 5

* German scientists have found perfectly preserved wooden spears, in company with other artefacts, suggesting that Neandertals had sophisticated hunting, planning, designing and manufacturing skills. A UK archeologist was quoted as being ‘speechless’, not only because of these implications, but because it was ‘unimaginable’ that such wooden items were still intact despite being geologically ‘dated’ at an alleged 400,000 (!) years. 6

1. The Sunday Mail, Brisbane, October 6, 1996, p. 31. Return to text .

2. Sunday Herald Sun, Sydney, March 24, 1996, p. 79. Return to text .

3. Daily Record, Roswell, New Mexico, May 16, 1996, p. 17. Return to text .

4. The Weekend Australian, October 28, 1995, p. 49. Return to text .

5. Science News 150:328, November 23, 1996. Return to text .

6. Sydney Morning Herald, February 28, 1997, p. 11. Return to text .

The history of the world revealed in the Bible implies that Neandertals, far from being ‘primitive ancestors’ or ‘separate species’, were but one line in the range of genetic variation in humans after the Flood. Post-Babel humans using technologies suited to a hunting/foraging lifestyle were just as human as their city-building forefathers (and contemporaries), just as modern peoples using similar technologies are no less human.

Oil in minutes

A $22.4 million tender has been approved in Western Australia for the world’s first plant to make oil from sewage sludge. The sludge is heated without oxygen to 450°C in one reactor, then in a second reactor, the resultant vapours are allowed to contact the ‘char’ residue from the first. This speeds up their breakdown into a diesel grade fuel oil.

No outside substances are added throughout this process, which thus essentially involves heating without oxygen. The plant, which will run on its own product, will produce a net surplus of fuel.

The technology, described as one that ‘mimics nature’, produces oil ‘in much the same way that nature produces oil. . . [but] it is completed in around 30 minutes instead of millions of years.’

Australian Stock Exchange Release, Environmental Solutions International Ltd, Osborne Park, Western Australia, Oct. 25, 1996. Media Statement, Minister for Water Resources, Western Australia, October 25, 1996.

Natural oil is also believed to be formed from heating of hydrocarbons. Organic matter buried deep within the ground, in the absence of oxygen, is often exposed to elevated temperatures. This simple heating technology reaffirms that millions of years are totally unnecessary, given the right conditions. There have been thousands of years since the Flood buried vast amounts of organic matter.