Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution
‘James’ bone box controversy
When a burial box (ossuary) bearing the inscription ‘James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus’ was discovered in October 2002 (see Creation 25(2):16–18), it caused a sensation. But now the Israeli Antiquities Authority has announced that the James ossuary is a forgery. It says that the inscription cuts through the ancient limestone box’s patina, a thin coating acquired with age, proving the writing was not ancient.
However, this contradicts the Israeli geologists who first examined the box and who said that there was evidence of patina inside the letters of the inscription. Meanwhile, other experts are now examining the ossuary, and it is likely that the controversy will continue for some time yet.
National Geographic News, <news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/06/0618_030618_jesusbox.html>, 19 June 2003.
Crows out-tool chimps
The New Caledonian crow, famous for crafting local materials into tools for retrieving food, is now known to be able to upgrade previous designs to make more specialized devices.
Researchers studied four designs of probing tools that the birds cut from Pandanus leaves, and found that crows learned to improve an existing design and then copied each other.
When reporting this ‘feature of human cognition’ in crows, New Scientist reflected that ‘Even chimpanzees do not make these step-by-step improvements to their tools.’
New Scientist, 15 March 2003, p. 15.
Evolutionists are often surprised by such findings, as they expect chimpanzees, ‘our close evolutionary cousins’, to exhibit intelligence closest to that of humans.
Man, of course, is clearly different from the animals and birds, being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
When researchers recently looked for fossils in Newfoundland rocks ‘dated’ at 575 million years old, they did not find the ‘primitive discs left by simple colonies of cells’ they expected.
Instead, they found fossils of filter-feeders (frond-like creatures which live attached to the ocean floor) that stretched up to two metres long—defying paleontologists’ ideas about when the first anatomically complex multicellular animals evolved.
‘The oldest Ediacaran fossils in the world are the biggest’, said one researcher, expressing surprise that such animals could have evolved so quickly. ‘These guys are too complex to have arisen in 10 million years.’
New Scientist, 11 January 2003, p. 13.
Evolutionists expecting that ‘ancient’ rocks will contain ‘primitive’ fossils are likely to be often surprised, because the fossil record is not the result of slow buildup of rock layers over millions of years. Rather, it reflects the order of burial during the Flood and its aftermath.
So it is no surprise to creationists that lower rock layers contain fossils of seabed creatures. But evolutionists continually have to modify their theories, trying to accommodate new evidence.
More cloning defects
A huge number of cloned animals die at, or before, birth. Trying to find out why, a recent study of cloned mice looked at gene activity of the placenta—long assumed to be the source of the problem—and the liver.
The researchers found hundreds of abnormal genes. The pattern of genetic mutations was so clear that they could tell normal mice from cloned mice just by looking at the gene data.
ABC News, <www.abc.net.au/news/scitech/2002/09/item20020912103814_1.htm>, 12 September 2002.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, <www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.192433399>, 26 September 2002.
DNA different by chunks
Researchers have found that large differences in DNA, not small ones, separate apes, monkeys and humans.
It had been thought that differences were mainly in individual DNA letters, but a detailed comparison of human chromosome 21 with corresponding ape and monkey genetic material shows the differences affect ‘great chunks of DNA’.
This finding that whole chunks, rather than single DNA letters, separate humans from chimps echoes a 2002 study in (see Greater than 98% Chimp/human DNA similarity? Not any more.) which reported human and chimp DNA differed by up to 5%, not the 1.5% assumed previously.
New Scientist, 15 March 2003, p. 26.
Uni apologizes for race research
Adelaide University has apologized for ‘degrading’ and ‘barbarous’ experiments its researchers conducted ‘in the name of science’ on Aborigines last century.
The tests were aimed at discovering the racial origin of Aborigines and were the basis for the ‘White Australia Policy’. The university has admitted that the research, carried out widely across Australia, was scientifically flawed.
The experiments included restraining Aborigines to analyze their breathing; and their pain tolerance—tested by pricking them with pins and applying pressure to their hands. Aborigines near Alice Springs knew the white researchers as ‘the butchers’.
European Network for Indigenous Australian Rights, <www.eniar.org/news/barbaric.html>, 30 October 2002.
We have earlier documented how the murderous scientific trade in body parts was based on Darwin’s teaching that indigenous Australians were living ‘missing links’. (See Creation 14(2):16–18, 1992; also 20(4):14–16, 1998; 22(2):48–49, 2000.)
Congregation defends atheist pastor
Parishioners in the Danish village of Taarbaek have demanded the reinstatement of their pastor after he was suspended for speaking (in a newspaper interview) of his atheistic beliefs.
The Bishop who suspended Pastor Thorkild Grosboell said that his comments were ‘totally unacceptable’ and that ‘the pastor has created confusion and uncertainty about what the church stands for’. A government spokesman said that a pastor cannot work in the State church if he or she does not believe in God.
But others have denounced what they see as censorship against the pastor, saying his freedom of expression (and the European Convention on Human Rights) has been violated.
ABC News Online, <www.abc.net.au /news/newsitems/s877813.htm>, 26 June 2003.
Compromise about the age of the earth opens the door to compromise on other clear issues of Scripture. This ‘slippery slide of unbelief’ (Creation 22(3):8–13) leads to Christ’s death and Resurrection being called into question, and logically to … atheism.
White dwarf with rings?
According to the nebular hypothesis (Creation 19(3):26–29, 1997) of the origin of stars and planetary systems, only young stars should exhibit rings. Old stars like white dwarfs should have long ago either absorbed or driven off the dust, leaving only planets in orbit.
However, astronomers have observed excess infrared radiation coming from the white dwarf star G29–38, located in Pisces, about 50 light-years from Earth. They believe this comes from a flat ring of dust, reminiscent of Saturn’s rings, about 70–700 million km above the surface of the star. The total amount of matter that may have been accreted, so far, onto the white dwarf is believed to be comparable to the mass of all asteroids in the solar system.
The Astrophysical Journal, 20 February 2003, pp. L91–L94.
Either stellar evolution is wrong, or the star was created recently (about 6,000 years ago) and as part of a mature creation.
Wasn’t always desert
Geologists in India say that an elephant fossil found in the Thar desert of Rajasthan supports theories that the vast desert was once a fertile area.
They also said the discovery gives credence to the widespread belief that a mighty river, named in ancient texts as Saraswati, flowed through the region thousands of years ago, supporting flourishing civilizations on its banks.
BBC News, <news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/2534775.stm>, 4 December 2002.
This fits perfectly with biblical models of the Ice Age. The warmer post-Flood waters (most from underground) would have caused more evaporation, and the volcanic dust would have blocked sunlight, and the cooling of the continents. This would have meant lots more snowfall at higher latitudes. This explains what is a puzzle to long-agers, the formation of continental ice sheets. It would have also caused more rainfall elsewhere. This is why we find evidence that now-arid places like central Australia, and the Sahara and Thar deserts, were once lush and well-watered.
Can’t define life
The quest in recent decades to find alien life has raised the question of how to define life, so as to know what one is looking for.
A report by researchers at the University of Colorado and California’s SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute argues that answering the ‘What is life?’ question is impossible—at least for now.
The present definition used by NASA is, ‘A self-sustained chemical system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution’. Even the pro-evolutionNew Scientist said this definition was ‘far from ideal’. For how long must a planet be monitored to see whether a suspected life-form is evolving?
So, for the moment, the search for alien life will interpret the presence of complex organic molecules, or characteristics which cannot be explained by abiotic (i.e. non-living) chemistry alone, as evidence of life.
New Scientist, 27 July 2002, p. 13.
Archaeologists have discovered that ancient farmers in the coastal lowlands of Ecuador grew top-line vegetable varieties. This has overturned the conventional idea that farming in the Americas began in the cool highlands.
In ancient rubbish dumps, archaeologists found microscopic crystals from the rinds of Cucurbita plants (which include marrows and cucumbers), which are much larger than crystals in any known wild Cucurbita. Instead, they are much more like modern cultivated varieties. So the archaeologists conclude that the farmers must have been breeding and growing supermarrows.
New Scientist, 22 February 2003, p. 24.
Science, 14 February 2003, pp. 1029–1030, 1054–1057.
Ancient man was not the ‘primitive’ slow-witted ancestor portrayed by evolutionary theory. Rather, people then were as intelligent and innovative as today—just as the Bible says.
Language is a parasite?
Some researchers propose that language is like a parasite which has evolved to fit a unique niche—the human brain.
Although humans could live without the ‘language bug’, we have given it houseroom in our brains because it allows us to communicate complex information.
But a key puzzle remains: why children learn languages but monkeys don’t, even when exposed to the same input. ‘Ultimately we need to understand why humans are unique in this respect, and why human languages are the way they are’, said one researcher.
New Scientist, 18 January 2003, pp. 30–33.
Such futile thinking arises from ignoring Genesis 1–11, which gives the true account of why humans are unique in relation to language, and why human languages are the way they are.
Life originated in rocks?
A new theory challenges the traditional evolutionary view that life began as self-replicating molecules in the chemical soup of the early earth. Instead, the latest idea is that life began in tiny cavities in rocks, with the rock acting as the ‘cell’ wall, separating chemical reactions on the inside from the environment outside. Life escaped from the rocks after it evolved its own wall to contain itself, according to proponents of the theory.
While most biologists hold to the view that self-replicating molecules or proteins came first, the new theory has attracted considerable interest. ‘This is the most comprehensive theory of the origin of life that exists at present’, said one geologist. Yet he cautioned, ‘It’s an untested theory and it’s difficult to see how any tests could be done, but that’s true of all theories of the origin of life.’
ABC Science Online, <www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s741512.htm>, 10 December 2002.
Nature Science Update, <www.nature.com/nsu/021202/021202-3.html>, 20 March 2003.
And this new theory has no explanation for the origin of the information required for even the simplest self-reproducing system.
Researchers at Liverpool University, UK, say that our human ancestors may not have walked with a stooped, ape-like posture after all.
When they analyzed how much energy is used when people walk upright compared with a stooped posture, they found that upright walking is far more efficient. In fact, a stooped two-legged posture is so inefficient that they doubt it would have evolved in the first place.
New Scientist, 31 May 2003, p. 24.
The stark differences between the human spine and that of apes reflect the fact that man was designed for upright walking, while apes were not. Evolutionists often say that our spine is a ‘problem’, the result of man originally walking on all fours. In fact, a person can lift proportionally more weight than a gorilla can. (See Creation 25(1):25–27.)