Focus: creation news and views
‘A complete shocker’
The classic textbook evolutionary progression from pond scum to people has long posited that the first of the multi-celled animals to appear was the ‘simple sponge’, with more complex animals appearing later. But it seems that evolutionists will have to rewrite the textbooks, in line with the dramatic conclusions of researchers who compared the DNA of organisms ‘at the base of the animal tree of life’.
The study team had set out to identify ‘which groups split off on their own evolutionary path first’. By their own reckoning, the researchers now believe that the ‘surprisingly complex’ first animal to evolve on earth was the comb jelly, not the ‘simple’ sponge. (Unlike sponges, comb jellies have connective tissues and a nervous system, and so are more complex.)
‘This was a complete shocker,’ said researcher Casey Dunn of Brown University in Rhode Island. ‘So shocking that we initially thought something had gone very wrong.’
This is yet another example of the difficulty evolutionists face in trying to make the diversity of life forms fit into an evolutionary ‘progression’, instead of accepting that the Creator created all living things according to their various distinct kinds just as the Bible says.
- LiveScience, www.livescience.com/animals/080410-first-animal.html, 10 April 2008.
Geologists now think Box Canyon in Idaho, USA, was carved by a catastrophic megaflood, and not slowly over millions of years. Even though the long canyon ends in a wide cul-de-sac with steep basalt walls, it had long been considered a classic example of seepage-erosion.
No one had ever observed water flowing over the basalt plateau into the canyon, so it was assumed that the spring of water gushing under the basalt into the end of the canyon did the trick. The hypothesis had even been ‘confirmed’ by experiments and field studies.
However, the latest research has found much evidence for a megaflood including 1) huge plunge-pools formed by ancient waterfalls, 2) the almost complete removal of the large basalt boulders from the canyon, 3) an eroded notch on the plateau at the top of the canyon, and 4) water scour marks on the basalt plateau leading to the canyon.
From the size of the few large blocks left downstream they calculate that the megaflood was so large that it could have eroded the whole canyon in as little as 35 days. In their view it likely happened when a large glacial lake north of the area burst during the Ice Age. But from a biblical geological framework, this catastrophe occurred a few hundred years after Noah’s Flood.
- Science 320(5879):1067–1070, 23 May 2008.
Agricultural researcher J.C. Bell in Georgia, USA, was standing downwind of his cows one day when he realized something. ‘They’re really, really good at making natural gas,’ he said. ‘It dawned on me that natural gas was methane.’
In fact it’s the cow’s digestive bacteria which are the key to the efficient converting of the plant material eaten by the cows into the hydrocarbon molecules of methane.
So J.C. Bell—the CEO of Bell Bio-Energy—has isolated specific bacteria that will, on a very large scale, naturally change plant material into hydrocarbons to fuel cars and machinery.
‘What we’re doing is taking the trash like corn stalks, corn husks, corn cobs—even grass from the yard that goes to the dump—that’s what we can turn into oil,’ Bell said. ‘We’re going to make gasoline for driving, diesel for our big trucks.’
There are two points to note from this:
1. Conversion of plant material into natural gas and oil using bacteria doesn’t need millions of years.
2. Bacteria could have acted similarly upon the masses of plant material buried during the Genesis Flood—leaving a legacy of vast underground ‘reserves’ of natural gas, and oil deposits.
(Note also that not all of our oil reserves are necessarily of biological origin. See ‘Gushing oil surprise’, Creation 27(3):9, 2005.)
- World Net Daily, www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=59402, 19 March 2008.
World’s first ET advertisement
Doritos (a brand of flavoured corn chips) has taken ‘the UK’s first step in communicating with aliens’ by broadcasting the first advertisement into space, with help from University of Leicester scientists. The message targeting extraterrestrials was transmitted from high-powered radars at the EISCAT European space station in the Arctic Circle.
Peter Charles, Head of the Doritos Broadcast Project said: ‘We are constantly looking to push the boundaries of advertising and this will go further than any brand has gone before. … We also shouldn’t be too surprised if the first aliens start arriving on planet Earth immediately demanding a bag of Doritos.’
A leading authority on UFO sightings and alien abductions, Nick Pope, commented: ‘I support this bold new venture in space communication. As humanity reaches out to the stars, this broadcast could lead to us finding the real ET. This is a historic day in our continuing search for alien life.’
The Bible refers to people who neither glorify God nor give thanks to Him, and whose thinking ‘became futile’ (Romans 1:21). The ‘ET advertisement’ is a classic example of the futility of evolutionary thinking, which leads people to believe that if life evolved on Earth, then why not elsewhere, too? (See Gary Bates’ book Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the evolution connection.)
- University of Leicester—News Press Release, www2.le.ac.uk/ebulletin/news/press-releases/ 2000-2009/2008/06/nparticle. 2008-06-12.7228690325, 12 June 2008.
Still bees, and they’re still dancing
When bee researchers put Asiatic honeybees (Apis cerana cerana) and European honeybees (Apis mellifera ligustica) into the same colony, they were able to communicate with each other (surprise, surprise) using the waggle dance, successfully locating the signalled food source. This was despite their being different species, which, in the words of the evolutionary researchers, are regarded as ‘separated by six to eight million years of evolution’.
Evolutionists are often surprised to find ‘exceptional evolutionary stasis’ in organisms, i.e. fossil forms said to be millions of years old are just the same as their counterparts living today. And now in this example we find stasis not only in the form of the bees themselves (i.e. the bees are still bees, notwithstanding being labelled as different species), but even in their dance.
Of course, the millions of years are a furphy—God having made all the various kinds of creatures only around 6,000 years ago.
(Note too, that creationists have no problem with speciation occurring within a ‘kind’, but speciation is not evolution. For more see creation.com/speciation.)
- PLoS ONE 3(6):e2365, 4 June 2008.
It’s official: believers are happier than atheists
People who believe in God are happier than agnostics or atheists. That is, according to research by Prof. Andrew Clark and Dr Orsolya Lelkes, presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference in the UK recently.
The researchers say believers are better able to cope with disappointments such as unemployment, divorce, or the death of a spouse. Moreover, they become even happier the more they pray and go to church, the study claims.
Of course. Christians have God’s promise that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and ‘God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him’ (Romans 8:28). On the other hand, atheists have been described as those who have no invisible means of support.
- The Telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1581994/ ‘Believers-are-happier-than-atheists’.html, 30 June 2008.
Plants have a ‘dimmer switch’
Although scientists have long known of photosynthesis, they have not yet fully described all that happens in photosynthesis, let alone been able to duplicate it. (Photosynthesis is the process by which plants produce energy-rich carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water using sunlight energy.)
An ultimate aim would be to produce artificial solar energy harvesters that could convert sunlight into chemical energy just as plants do—at an energy transfer efficiency rate of approximately 97%.
A potential pitfall for any sunlight-harvesting system is that too much absorbed solar energy will damage the system.
Researchers have recently discovered how plants solve that problem. Plants have a molecular ‘dimmer switch’ to protect themselves from absorbing too much sunlight.
This energy-quenching mechanism safely dissipates excess incoming energy away from the sunlight-harvesting apparatus to another molecular system, where it can then be routed down harmless chemical reaction pathways.
One researcher explained, ‘This defense mechanism is so sensitive to changing light conditions, it will even respond to the passing of clouds overhead.’
Such incredibly complex chemistry, only now being revealed after many decades of research, surely speaks of having been designed (Romans 1:20)—see also Creation 30(3):19, 2008; creation.com/birdbox and Journal of Creation 19(1):14–15, 2005; creation.com/greenpower.
- Science 320(5877):794–797, 9 May 2008.
- Science Daily, www.science daily.com/releases/ 2008/ 05/08050814 4332.htm, 9 May 2008.
UK Christians ‘dying off’
The rate of decline in church attendance in Britain is such that ‘Christianity is becoming a minority religion’ in that nation, according to Religious Trends, a recently published comprehensive statistical analysis of UK religious practice. The report says that ‘active’ Muslims will outnumber ‘regular churchgoers’ within a generation, with Hindus not far behind.
The report was published just months after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, suggested that the introduction of aspects of sharia (i.e. Islamic regulations) into British law was unavoidable. An article in The Times said that the trend ‘reflects the changing nature of religious practice worldwide and will further aid the stated aim of the Prince of Wales [HRH Prince Charles, in line to succeed the Queen as Head of the Church of England] who, on his Coronation, hopes to become “Defender of Faith” rather than “Defender of the Faith”.’ (See also ‘A Right Royal Interpretation?’ at creation.com/royal.)
One small area of growth is in Northern Ireland, which has seen a slight increase in the number of churches, but elsewhere in the UK, ‘as aging congregations die’, church closures are expected. ‘The primary cause of the decrease in attendance is that people are simply dying off,’ the report says.
Actually, people have been dying for about 6,000 years now (Genesis 2:17, 3:19; Romans 5:12,17; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22), so it would be more accurate to say that the declining church attendance is because church attendees are not being replaced by younger generations. As David Voas, a professor of population studies at the Institute for Social Change at the University of Manchester, said: ‘The difficulty is in retaining the children who have churchgoing parents.’
So why are young people drifting away from church?
Many individuals have testified that a key factor in their abandoning of Christianity is that the Genesis account of origins is contradicted by evolutionary teaching in textbooks, nature documentaries, etc. Even evangelists have not been immune—see ‘The slippery slide to unbelief—a famous evangelist goes from hope to hopelessness’.
- The Times Online, www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3890080.ece, 8 May 2008.
Methodist church apology for eugenics
The United Methodist General Conference of America has issued a resolution apologizing for ‘Methodist leaders and Methodist bodies who in the past supported eugenics as sound science and sound theology’. The resolution recognises the connection between Darwinian evolution and the Nazi program.
Eugenics is the concept of improving the physical and mental characteristics of the human race by increasing the breeding of the ‘superior’ people and decreasing the breeding of the ‘inferior’ people, e.g. by sterilization as happened in USA, or death as occurred in Nazi Germany. It is based on the Darwinian falsity that some humans are more evolutionarily advanced than others.
The Methodist resolution recognises that the study of eugenics did not begin with Hitler or his German scientists but was first promoted in England by Charles Darwin’s cousin, Sir Francis Galton, who expanded on Darwin’s theories and applied them to the human population. Galton was founder of the Eugenics Society, a position in which he was succeeded by Charles Darwin’s son, Leonard Darwin.
The Methodist resolution refers to many church-sponsored pro-eugenics events pre-WWII, such as the sermon published by the Methodist Review in 1929 which blasphemously argued, ‘the strongest and the best are selected for the task of propagating the likeness of God and carrying on his work of improving the race’.
We congratulate the current Methodist Conference for now taking this stance.
Dr Christine Rosen’s book Preaching Genetics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement (Oxford University Press, New York, 2004) documents that it was the liberal (Bible-rejecting, pro-evolution) churches that promoted eugenics, while ‘Those who clung stubbornly to tradition, to doctrine, and to biblical infallibility opposed eugenics’. See Grigg, R., Hooray for eugenics: How American Bible-rejecting churches supported Nazi-like policies, Creation 30(3):52–52, 2008.
- United Methodist General Conference of America, calms.umc.org/2008/Text.aspx?mode=Petition&Number=1175, 28 April 2008.
Saturn ringed-moon mystery
Not only does Saturn have rings, but its moon Rhea has ‘mysterious’ rings around it too.
Detected by the Cassini spacecraft, Rhea’s rings (consisting of particles ranging from pebble to boulder size) are the first rings to be observed around a moon.
‘It is a huge surprise—we didn’t have any suspicions at all,’ said Geraint Jones of University College London, unable to account for the origin of the rings.
‘Whatever is going on there is a real puzzle,’ he said.
(And there are other Saturnian puzzles too, for evolutionists—see p. 18 this issue, Saturn—the ringed planet.)
- New Scientist 197(2647):18, 15 March 2008.
A long time since Moses
The UK minister for the environment Phil Woolas has warned that ‘inbreeding’ is behind a surge in birth defects in some areas. ‘A lot of arranged marriages are with first cousins, and that produces lots of genetic problems in terms of disability,’ he said.
In our earlier article on the increase in genetic defects and infant mortality in the Bradford area (which has a high rate of first-cousin marriages), we explained how this observed genetic degeneration represents a challenge to evolutionary theory (see: ‘You shouldn’t marry a cousin!’ Creation 30(1):54–55, 2007, and interview with John Sanford this issue, p. 45).
From a biblical perspective however, genetic degradation with the passing of generations is completely consistent with a once-perfect Creation now ‘in bondage to decay’ (Romans 8:22).
Note that the Bible does not prohibit first cousins from marrying—rather, the ‘Law of Moses’ forbids marriages between ‘close relatives’, i.e. siblings who share one or both parents. Prior to Moses, no such prohibition existed, so in God’s sight it was fine for Abraham and Sarah (both offspring of Terah) to marry, and for Cain to marry his sister. (See chapter 8, ‘Who was Cain’s wife?’ in The Creation Answers Book.)
However, by the time of Moses, it makes sense that certain family-specific mutations had accumulated to such an extent that God intervened with the protective order to marry outside the immediate family, thus lessening the risk of deformed offspring. Inheriting a bad gene from only one parent need not be calamitous because a good copy of the gene from the other parent may be there as a back-up.
With the passage of time since Moses, and ongoing genetic degradation, it’s understandable that authorities are increasingly considering prohibitions on inter-cousin marriages, not just between siblings.
- New Scientist 197(2643):10, 16 February 2008.
Hobbit goes to dentist?
The tiny individual dubbed the ‘Hobbit’, whose remains are from the Indonesian island of Flores, has been called a separate species, Homo floresiensis, allegedly 18,000 years old.
But some evolutionists are skeptical about these claims—such as paleopathologist Maciej Henneberg (University of Adelaide, South Australia). Working from photographs he took during his examination of the remains, he says the best explanation for the appearance of one molar tooth is that it was filled by a dentist in the 1930s.
Other experts, while calling Henneberg’s hypothesis ‘reasonable’ from photos, cite CT scans and their own examination to claim otherwise. Undeterred, Henneberg says he published the claims in a book because he was denied ongoing access, which would settle the question ‘in minutes’.
- ScienceNOW Daily News, sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/424/2, 24 April 2008.
Tibet fossils force dramatic re-think
On Tibet’s desolate Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau, about 4,500 m (15,000 ft) above sea level, evolutionary geologists were surprised to find ‘thick layers of ancient lake sediment filled with plant, fish and animal fossils typical of far lower elevations and warmer, wetter climates’.
The find has forced a dramatic revision of the estimated age of the Plateau, down to a ‘very young’ 2–3 million years, ‘not millions of years earlier than that’, as evolutionary geologists have previously believed.
But they still haven’t got it right. Instead, when you start from the premise that the Bible is an accurate historical account, and therefore that the event of around 4,500 years ago described in Genesis 6–9 really occurred, the global spread of fossils (even in the world’s highest mountain ranges) makes a whole lot of sense.
- PHYSORG.com, www.physorg.com/news132414246.html, 11 June 2008.
How ice sheets carve fjords
Mark Kessler of the University of Colorado, USA, and colleagues recently modelled how fjords were carved by ice sheets creeping down mountain ranges into the sea. Fjords are spectacular U-shaped valleys along those coastlines that were once covered by ice sheets during the Ice Age. They make excellent harbours, often extending many tens of kilometres inland and reaching depths of more than a kilometre. Geologists believe that ice carved fjords, because rivers cannot erode bedrock so far below sea-level.
While researchers can model how ice sheets flow over the continents, a more difficult question is: how did the ice sheets form in the first place? Not only was there a need for a cooler climate but also for lots of precipitation. The biblical model for the post-Flood Ice Age is the only viable scientific model around. (See chapter 16 in The Creation Answers Book.) The Flood catastrophe explains why there were cooler continents (volcanic dust high in the atmosphere) and also why there was lots of precipitation (warmer oceans heated by volcanoes).
- Nature Geoscience 1(6):365–369, June 2008.
- New Scientist 198(2656):18, 17 May 2008.
Music an ‘enduring puzzle’
Charles Darwin wrote: ‘As neither the enjoyment nor the capacity of producing notes are faculties of the least use to man … they must be ranked among the most mysterious with which he is endowed.’
And according to a recent essay in New Scientist by the University of Minnesota’s Josh McDermott, music’s origins remain an ‘enduring puzzle’ to evolutionists. ‘Music is universal, a significant feature of every known culture,’ he writes, ‘and yet does not serve an obvious uncontroversial function.’
Of course, there’s been no shortage of evolutionists speculating as to music’s ‘function’ and origins (see, e.g., ‘Mithen “even more mystified”’, Creation 30(3):8, 2008), but McDermott warns that such discussions ‘run the risk of being mostly “Just-So” stories.’ And he makes this key observation: ‘Speculation about its possible adaptive functions has been popular since the time of Darwin, and shows few signs of resolution.’
Why since Darwin? Because prior to that, most people in the West accepted the Bible’s account of origins, i.e. that man is not an accident but rather is made in the image of his Creator, the One who has given us life and breath and everything else (Acts 17:25)—the One of whom the Psalmist wrote: ‘I sing for joy at the work of your hands’ (Psalm 92:4).
- Nature 453(7193):287–288, 15 May 2008.
Using the latest acoustic imaging technology, marine archaeologists are uncovering clues about a lost city in the North Sea off the coast of Suffolk, UK.
‘We’ve found the ruins of a medieval church called St John’s, which was the biggest in Dunwich,’ explained Stuart Bacon, director of Suffolk Underwater Studies. He said the 13th-century church tumbled from an eroding cliff into the sea in about 1540.
And not just the church. Dunwich itself—once a ‘thriving city’ and a prosperous trading port—has now ‘virtually disappeared’. All that remains are a graveyard and a few old houses in the present village of Dunwich, ‘which continues to be under threat from the sea’.
Suffolk coastal cliffs are being eroded at an average rate of about two metres (over six feet) per year. Other coastlines similarly are disappearing—a major problem for the idea that landforms are hundreds of millions of years old. See: Vanishing coastlines—fast erosion means the world is young, Creation 29(2):19–21, 2007.
- BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/7441759.stm, 7 June 2008.
More millions-of-years indoctrination
University of Leicester geologist Jan Zalasiewicz has proposed a public exhibition illustrating the ‘vastness of geologic time’. He wants to display a continuous ‘core’ of sea-floor sediment 1.5 km (almost a mile) long.
‘On this scale,’ says Zalasiewicz, ‘the last 10,000 years in which civilization developed is about 30 cm [1 ft] thick … and the time since the Industrial Revolution is represented by just a few millimetres [about 0.1 inch] of sediment. … At the base of the core a signpost would point to the formation of the Earth, 100 km away [62 miles], and the origin of the universe at 300 km [186 miles].’
Supposed ‘key events’ would be marked, such as ‘the evolution of humans’ and ‘the huge lengths of time over which the Earth has endured’.
The core is a fact but geological time is an interpretation. The sea-floor sediment was not deposited over millions of years but mainly by the waters of the Flood as it receded from the land. See: ‘The earth: how old does it look?’, Creation 23(1):8–13, 2000.
- University of Leicester—News Press Release, www2.le.ac.uk/ebulletin/news/press-releases/ 2000-2009/2008/02/nparticle. 2008-02-04.3196517747, 4 February 2008.