This article is from
Creation 25(1):7–9, December 2002

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Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution

Ice increasing

Notwithstanding recent well-publicized collapses in the ice shelves, there is more Antarctic ice than there was 20 years ago. Satellite pictures show an increase of over 200,000 km2 (77,000 sq. miles) of ice floating in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica.

Does this imply that the planet is getting colder? Ironically, it has been interpreted as ‘further proof of global warming.’ NASA researchers attribute the ice build-up to greater snowfall, resulting from the higher humidity due to the increased evaporation generated by warmer temperatures.

New Scientist, 1 June 2002, p. 6.

Higher humidity, increased evaporation, and greater snowfall would have also applied during the Ice Age. But long-age theorists cannot explain how these prerequisites for an ice age came about. (The ‘solar warming’ mechanism cannot account for the vast ice sheets of the past.) An ice age requires the seemingly paradoxical situation of warm oceans and cold land masses—precisely what creationists say existed following the Flood, with ocean waters still warm from mixing with the ‘fountains of the great deep’ (Genesis 7:11), and associated volcanic ash/clouds shading the land. See interview with Michael Oard (Tackling the big freeze) and his book,  An Ice Age caused by the Genesis Flood, ICR, California, 1990.

Cell ‘switchboard’

Large manufacturers need centralized communication so things are supplied when and where needed, and in the right amounts. So, too, in living cells—researchers have discovered that cells have a ‘switchboard system’ that coordinates ‘the barrage of cues and messages they receive and transmit.’

It had been thought that cell communication, or ‘signal transduction,’ was an ‘automatic’ cascade of biochemical events. But this study found that even before a message makes it through the outer cell membrane to the inner nucleus, the cell activates a molecular switch to guide how and in what form the message will be delivered.

‘Our results add a layer of complexity to understanding how messages are communicated by cells,’ says one researcher. ‘Without this switchboard system, the cell would go crazy and overload.’

Nature, 20 June 2002, pp. 858–861.

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, <www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/2002/June/020625.htm>, 5 August 2002.

In Darwin’s time, the cell was considered a simple ‘blob of protoplasm’—a basic building block of life. But as research progressively reveals the staggeringly complex structure and function of the cell and its subcomponents (e.g. see The World’s Tiniest Motor), how can anyone continue to claim ‘no Designer was necessary’?!

Ancestral trio?

Evolutionists have long taught that all life on earth originated from a single ancestor cell.

But this is now being challenged by a new theory. It argues that ‘the three fundamental types of cells that [are thought by evolutionists to] form the building blocks of present-day life actually evolved independently, not in an orderly succession from a common ancestor.’

New Scientist, 22 June 2002, p. 10.

It seems that the scientifically hopeless task of explaining how one ancestor organism could arise from dead matter has just become three times harder.

Norwegian ‘Nessie’?

A scientific team which previously looked for the Loch Ness monster has turned its attention to Lake Roemsjoen in south-eastern Norway.

The most recent sighting of the ‘Roemsjoen monster’ was in 2001, with the eyewitness describing how, after she spotted it on the shore and threw a stone at it, ‘the large black animal’ slipped into the water. Earlier reports (dating back as far as the 18th century) speak of a creature, with humps, up to about 15 m (50 ft) long, and of local people being startled by sudden waves and turbulence.

In scouring the 15-km (9-mile)-long lake, the team hopes to detect and photograph the creature using high-tech radar and sonar equipment.

BBC News, <news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_2043000/2043588.stm>, 12 July 2002.

Sunday Herald, <www.sundayherald.com/25493>, 12 July 2002.

Past blast—future date?

One morning in 1908 a mysterious explosion—long thought to have been a comet (or something similar) disintegrating a few kilometres above ground—flattened and burnt more than 2,100 km2 (800 sq. miles) of a remote Siberian forest.

But with no fragments of any cosmic object ever having been found, some geologists now say the evidence points to an explosion of a large gas cloud, which formed over the area when underground gases were released (and later ignited).

This theory accounts for the unusual weather and increased seismic activity in the days before the explosion. The cooling effect as the escaping gas rapidly lost pressure could also explain why some trees near the blast centre were not burnt.

But one puzzle remains. Geologists who tried to carbon date the soil found it so enriched with carbon-14 that it shows up as a future date.

New Scientist, 7 September 2002, p. 14.

Dating techniques assume that the amount of a certain isotope in the material being analyzed is an indicator of the age of that material. Such assumptions can be quite wrong, as this example demonstrates. (See also The Answers Book, ch. 4.)

Arctic Redwood

‘Spectacularly preserved’ Metasequoia wood has been found at the Fossil Forest site of Axel Heiberg Island (Canadian High Arctic).

‘Some of this stuff looks about like driftwood on the beach, but it’s 45 million years old,’ said one researcher. ‘These fossils are chemically preserved at a level you usually would expect to see in something that’s only 1,000 years old.’

GSA Today, January 2002, pp. 4–9.

Science Daily Magazine, <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020322074547.htm>, 26 May 2002.

This is not surprising, given the biblical thousands-of-years timeframe for the world, rather than the claimed 45 million years for this wood.

Evolution in pollution?

Under a headline ‘Darwin’s theory holds true in Northern Territory,’ the media release from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation explained that, ‘thanks to 40 years of evolution,’ fish in Australia’s Finnis River have learned to live with copper pollution from mine wastes.

‘Each year a majority of rainbow fish were killed in the first flush of heavy metals downstream at the start of each wet season,’ said one researcher. ‘However, the few remaining fish passed their ability to survive onto their offspring.’ But the down-side is that the adaptation to high levels of pollution ‘may have occurred at the expense of some other traits that are important for their survival.’

ANSTO, <www.ansto.gov.au/info/press/2002/p063.html>,17 September 2002.

While the headline might shout that evolution is true, closer reading shows that it was not evolution but simply natural selection. Fish which had the genetic makeup to survive copper pollution were already present in the population, i.e. no new genes evolved. And in common with many similar examples of adaptation to some new harsh external factor, ‘at the expense of some other traits’ suggests a mutational loss of information.

Church teenagers better behaved

US teenagers who regularly attend church (at least once per week) are much less likely than their peers to commit crimes or get into other troubles that plague many adolescents, according to a University of North Carolina study.

Teens professing strong religious commitment were less likely to smoke, drink, use drugs, commit theft or be involved in violence. They received fewer traffic tickets, wore seat belts more, tried to stay healthy, and were more likely to be involved in volunteering and other community activities.

‘Religious 12th graders argued with parents less, skipped school less, exercised more, participated more in student government, and faced fewer detentions, suspensions, and expulsions,’ said one researcher. ‘These findings were statistically significant even after we controlled for race, age, sex, region, education of parents, the number of brothers and sisters, and other factors.’

University of North Carolina, <www.unc.edu/news/newsserv/research/smithcr091702.htm>,20 September 2002.

For the Lord gives wisdom … to deliver you from the way of evil, … So you will walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous’ (Proverbs 2:6, 12, 20).

Early astronomers

A stone obelisk near Quito in the Ecuadorian Andes marks the equator—as calculated by an expedition of French astronomers in 1736. Unfortunately, it is in the wrong place. The actual equator, as measured by satellite positioning equipment, lies about 300 m (1,000 ft) to the north, where a low semicircular wall dating from the tenth century stands. This wall precisely follows the arc of the sun’s shadow as the earth tilts between the winter and the summer solstices, 22 December to 21 June.

So how did the builders of this wall calculate the position of the equator without the benefit of modern satellites? One archaeologist believes he has uncovered evidence of a pre-Incan civilization dating back to 1500 BC which had a sophisticated astronomy to calculate the movement of the sun.

Geographical, September 2002, pp. 36–39.

Eugenics history suppressed

Until Oregon’s sterilization law was repealed in 1983, the Board of Eugenics and its successor (from 1967), the Board of Social Protection, oversaw the forced sterilization of 2,650 ‘defectives.’ But at a time when survivors are seeking an apology from the Governor for the state’s eugenics law, documents recording the forced sterilizations have disappeared or been shredded.

Ironically, it was the Portland Habilitation Center—one of the state’s largest employers of people with disabilities—which held the state contract to shred the records. As one official said, ‘The very people who at one time would have been put in harm’s way by the Board [of Eugenics], instead made a living wage shredding the remnants of its work.’

Some records do exist, e.g. that show 26 people were sterilized at Oregon State Hospital over a two-year period, as well as medical notes such as the laboratory analysis of tissue. But the rationale for the sterilizations does not appear, apart from vague references to ‘hygienic reasons.’

The Oregonian, <www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?
/base/news/1028030290179750.xml>, 26 September 2002.

‘Eugenics’ is the term coined by Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, to denote the ‘science’ of improving the genetic condition of the human race. As we have already reported, evolutionary theory inspired forced sterilization programs in other places, e.g. Virginia and Vermont. (See The Holocaust and evolution; The lies of Lynchburg.) Nazi eugenics laws were modeled on those framed by US evolutionists.

Altruistic seal

A seal saved an injured dog from drowning in the UK’s River Tees, near Middlesborough.

Eyewitness Chris Hinds, 43, reported that the stricken Alsatian-Labrador cross, bleeding from its head and leg, was about to drown in the river’s wild and dangerous currents. A seal suddenly appeared, and after circling the dog, used its nose to shunt it firmly to the river bank. It then swam back to the middle of the river and waited until Mr Hinds reached the dog.

‘It is the sort of thing you see in Disney films and children’s programmes, complete fantasy nonsense, but it happened right in front of me,’ Mr Hinds said. ‘It was truly amazing to watch.’

Daily Mail, 20 June 2002, p. 43.

Such things seem nigh-impossible for Darwinian (including ‘selfish gene’) notions to explain. They give us a hint of what an unfallen world might have been like (without the injury and drowning, of course).

‘Superbug’ did not evolve

A new strain of Staphylococcus aureus which is resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin has been found in a hospital patient in Michigan, USA.

DNA sequence analysis revealed that the new strain did not ‘evolve’ resistant genes, but acquired them by gene transfer from relatively harmless gut bacteria called enterococci, carried by the same patient.

Nature, 1 August 2002, p. 469.

That is, the information was already present. In every case known, antibiotic resistance is never the result of new genetic information evolving into existence. See Superbugs—not super after all and Anthrax and antibiotics.

Grisly gems

You can wear your dear departed on a ring, says LifeGem Memorials. This firm uses heat and pressure to convert cremated human remains into blue diamonds which, they say, ‘possess the same quality as diamonds found at high-end jewellers.’ And which, ‘just like natural diamonds, are certified by the industry leading European Gemmological Laboratories.’

Their advertising states that a ‘diamond that takes millions of years to occur naturally can now be created from the carbon of your loved one in a matter of months.’

LifeGem, <www.lifegem.com/secondary/history.htm>, 25 September 2002.

This is ironic, since their process (which we are definitely not endorsing) actually shows the opposite, i.e. given the heat and pressure deep in the earth, diamonds would not need millions of years to form naturally.