Focus: creation news and views
Antibiotic resistance pre-dates medical antibiotics
Permafrost samples taken from the Yukon territory in Canada, said by evolutionists to have been “continually frozen for 30,000 years”, have been found to contain a variety of bacterial antibiotic-resistance genes. They include genes for resistance to penicillin, tetracycline and vancomycin—“conclusive proof that these genes truly pre-date medical antibiotics”.
Of course this demonstrates the falsehood of claims that antibiotic resistance is evidence for evolution. Quite simply, these genes for antibiotic resistance did not ‘evolve’ in response to human development of antibiotics, because they already existed. Indeed, many evolutionists have known of this for years—see creation.com/reading-between-the-lines.
Survival of such antibiotic resistant strains in hospitals is evidence of natural selection—but this is not evolution. Natural selection is a phenomenon discovered by creationists before Darwin and is still an important part of the biblical creation model.
- Ancient resistance to antibiotics found, New Scientist 211(2828):14, 3 September 2011.
Don’t mention the Creator (Christ)
In Australia, the new national schools’ curriculum will drop the terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) from textbooks. They will be replaced with BCE (Before Common Era), BP (Before Present) and CE (Common Era).
This parallels earlier moves in Britain by the BBC. In both Australia and the UK, many leading Christians saw this as “absurd political correctness” and as “trying to undermine Christianity by pushing an aggressive secularism”.
Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, observed, “This amounts to the dumbing down of the Christian basis of our culture, language and history … Whether you use Common Era or Anno Domini, the date is actually still the same and the reference point is still the birth of Christ.”
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, similarly said that it was an “intellectually absurd attempt to write Christ out of human history … because the coming of Christ remains the centre point of dating and because the phrase ‘common era’ is meaningless and misleading.”
However, it seems only a few of the voices of protest come from the under-50s age group. It’s been half a century now since evolutionary teaching really started being emphasized in Australian and UK school systems. And there’s been steadily increasing pressure to suppress creation teaching altogether. So young people are being taught that evolution is true, doing away with the need for a Creator. If there’s no Creator, then who was Christ (cf. John 1:1–3, Colossians 1:15 ff.)? He was obviously not someone who could redeem us from our sins! It does seem that teaching evolution and removing the name of Christ from our dating system is a very effective way to “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).
- Anger in Australia as school books ‘write Christ out of history’, www.telegraph.co.uk, 2 September 2011.
- UK: BBC provides alternatives to “offensive” BC and AD, www.barnabusfund.org, 30 September 2011.
Gold is a problem for evolution
Long-age evolutionary ideas about Earth’s origins posit that the planet was initially molten, therefore gold (and other heavy metals) should have sunk into the core at that time (note: molten gold is 60% denser than molten lead). But, as every gold miner knows, the earth’s crust and mantle do contain gold.
Some evolutionary geologists have suggested that the gold was supplied by gold-containing meteorites raining down upon the earth once the planet had solidified, about “four billion” years ago. They recently pointed to a rock formation of unusual isotopic composition in Greenland as evidence of that meteor bombardment. However, their colleagues have pointed out that if such a meteor storm happened, then sedimentary rocks laid down at that time should similarly contain plenty of those metals, but they don’t.
- When gold rained down on Earth, New Scientist 211(2829):10, 10 September 2011.
The star that shouldn’t be … if you’re an evolutionist
According to evolutionary reckoning, a faint star (given the identifier SDSS J102915+172927) in the constellation of Leo should be “probably more than 13 billion years old” and yet—surprise, surprise—is also “impossibly modern”.
The star’s elemental composition simply doesn’t fit with the standard evolutionary theory about the relationship between its low ‘metal’ content and its presumed age, and the way it was thought to have formed (note: to astrophysicists, a metal is any element other than hydrogen or helium). “It’s a mystery how the lithium that formed just after the beginning of the Universe was destroyed in this star,” said project supervisor Piercarlo Bonifacio of the Observatoire de Paris, France.
New Scientist put it bluntly, “According to the theory, this star should not have been able to form.” They likened the shock of this discovery to that of an archaeologist discovering “the skeleton of a protohuman” with one of its hands grasping a cellphone.
- Astrophile: The impossibly modern star, www.newscientist.com, 1 September 2011.
- The star that should not exist, www.sciencedaily.com, 1 September 2011.
Extinction theories extinguished
The idea of an age of dinosaurs that ended with their sudden extinction has become part of modern folklore, reinforced by popular movies such as Jurassic Park. Paleontologists usually attribute the extinction to a meteor impact and/or volcanic eruptions. However, many turtles survived. How? In an interview with LiveScience, the paleontologist who discovered a new turtle fossil that researchers say shows that these turtles survived the dinosaur extinction speculated that, “Small animals that have a slow metabolism and live in the water do very well”. They discounted the shell as a factor, because the shell in this species is very thin.*
However, many hundreds of modern land plants, birds, mammals and reptiles are present in ‘dinosaur rocks’ (‘Mesozoic’)—see creation.com/werner-living-fossils. So the evolutionists have a major problem: how to get rid of the dinosaurs but have a huge range of other species survive, not just sea turtles. The survivors included other reptiles such a monitor lizards, which are not marine and do not have a slow metabolism (they have a fast metabolism compared to other reptiles).
- * Note: The research paper published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology contained no speculation about the reasons for survival.
- How Tough Turtles Survived Dino-Killing Meteor, LiveScience.com, 11 July 2011.
- Tough Turtles Survive Cretaceous Meteorite Impact, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology press release, www.vertpaleo.org, July 12, 2011.
Is ET hiding?
The ‘Fermi paradox’—named after Enrico Fermi who first raised it in 1950—refers to the ‘nagging’ mystery as to why the universe is not teeming with extraterrestrial intelligent life. If life evolved on earth we should find it elsewhere, too. So why haven’t we detected ET yet?
“It’s a real paradox,” admits Adrian Kent of the Perimeter Institute in Ontario, Canada. He has now come up with another ‘excuse’ to add to the earlier suggestions that we don’t have the wherewithal to intercept aliens’ communications or that ET just hasn’t had enough time to find us.
Kent’s idea is that evolutionary selection favours quiet and inconspicuous aliens, who thus don’t attract the attention of more advanced species from other planets which might want to exploit or harm them. Hence his suggesting that we haven’t found ET yet because natural selection has resulted in aliens who lie low on purpose, or who simply lack the skill or ambition to venture forth or advertise their existence.
Long-time alien seeker Seth Shostak of the SETI institute acknowledged, “This is an interesting idea. If I let the cosmos know I exist, then I might be subject to extermination.”
- For more on the Fermi paradox, see chapter 3 of Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection (creation.com/store).
- Exo-evolution: Aliens who hide, survive, newscientist.com, 8 April 2011.
Multicellular yeast evolving in a lab?
Researchers have recently reported seeing yeast ‘evolve’ into multicellular clumps in test tubes under the right conditions. The cells in each clump are genetically identical. The cells also remain connected after division, and some exhibit a degree of programmed cell death. These traits are found in true multicellular organisms, so this finding has been hailed as an example of an evolutionary ‘transition’ taking place between single-celled and multi-celled organisms.
However, the first clue that this is not likely comes from the observation that the alleged ‘transition’ happened in every one of the culture lines independently. It’s therefore likely to be from something already present in the yeast rather than something completely new.
In fact, many yeast strains are known to form colonies, and some evolutionists have themselves been skeptical of these so-called ‘snowflake’ structures as ‘transitions’. For one thing, it has long been believed that yeast itself descended from multi-celled ancestors. Furthermore, genetic sameness, intercellular cohesion and programmed cell death can all exist in creatures that can survive and reproduce as single-celled organisms.
- Lab yeast make evolutionary leap to multicellularity, New Scientist 210(2818):10, 25 June 2011.
Who’s the wise guy?
Since 1758 our scientific name has been Homo sapiens, which means “wise man”. It was coined by the inventor of the Linnaean binomial classification system, Carolus Linnaeus, a leading Christian scientist who well understood man’s origins, and his place in creation.
But now an Australian science writer, evolutionist Julian Cribb, is calling for the name to be changed. He says that “our behaviour is not quite as intelligent as we like to imagine, while some other animals are rather smart. In short, ours is a name which is both inaccurate and which promotes a dangerous self-delusion.”
Cribb argues that we do not deserve the name Homo sapiens because of “the havoc humans are wreaking on natural systems”, especially via anthropogenic global warming.
While Cribb himself resists the urge to suggest a replacement name, he’s happy to cite names suggested by other evolutionists. E.g., Homo finalis (the last man), Homo nesciens (ignorant man) and Homo sui deludens (self-deluding man).
Actually, a man renowned in history for his wisdom gave some very wise advice as to how one could be wise (e.g. Proverbs 9:10). One man today who has taken that to heart is Michael Oard, whose measured arguments in his DVD presentation The Great Global Warming Debate can help others be wise to Cribb and his ilk. (Available from creation.com/store)
- Homo sapiens—time for a new name?, www.abc.net.au, The Science Show 20 August 2011.
- Bid to rename Homo sapiens is called unwise, www.livescience.com, 17 August 2011.
How can bears hibernate for so long?
Researchers have made the unexpected discovery that when black bears hibernate, they lower their body temperature only slightly but their metabolic activity drops dramatically, slowing to about 25% of normal rates.
This was much lower than researchers had imagined possible. It helps to explain how “the bears spend five to seven months without eating, drinking, urinating or defecating before they emerge from their dens in nearly the same physiological condition they were in when the entered them.” In other words, why bears don’t suffer the loss in muscle and bone mass and function that would be expected to occur over such a long time of immobility and disuse.
The other surprise was that the black bears’ metabolism remained significantly suppressed for several weeks after they’d woken from their winter slumber.
The researchers suspect that the bears’ capacity to dramatically suppress their metabolism might be widespread across hibernating mammals. (Hibernation has been observed in nine orders of mammals, even in tropical environments e.g. the seven-month hibernation of the fat-tailed dwarf lemur—Creation 27(4):9, 2005.)
This latest research gives further insight into what it might have been like for animals during their year aboard the Ark—and even afterwards, as ongoing lowered metabolism during those first few weeks of dispersal from the Ark’s landing site would no doubt have been useful, just as it is to bears today foraging in spring.
Of course, while on board the Ark there was plenty of food and water, so hibernation was not essential, but it’s easy to imagine that with no reason to move around, animals might well have spent extended periods hibernating while aboard. For more on this see creation.com/hibern.
- Bears uncouple temperature and metabolism for hibernation, new study shows, www.sciencedaily.com, 18 February 2011.
Eels are still eels
A species of eel has been discovered in an undersea cave off an island of Palau that looks “astonishingly similar” to eels said to have lived 200 million years ago. It has thus been called a “living fossil”.
As the more candid evolutionists have conceded, stasis is a big problem for evolution. (Why no evolution in 200 million years?) But from God’s Word we know that the millions of years are an invention, a falsehood. Millions-of-years notions are obliterated by understanding that the world’s fossil-bearing sedimentary layers are a legacy of the global Flood of Noah’s day, only around 4,500 years ago (Genesis 6–9).
- For an amphibious example of a ‘living fossil’, see p. 56.
- ‘Fossil eel’ squirms into the record books, physorg.com, 17 August 2011.
- New Pacific eel is a “living fossil”, scientists say, www.bbc.co.uk, 17 August 2011.
No more ‘Ouch!’
Sticking plasters revolutionized the protection of minor wounds (the ‘Band-Aid’ was invented in 1920), but they’re not suitable for the delicate skin of newborn infants or the fragile skin of the elderly. In any case, the pressure-sensitive adhesives used in sticking plasters leave behind sticky residues, and they lose their grip after repeated use. So there’s been a pressing need to find an alternative skin adhesive—one capable of maintaining robust adhesion during repeated application and removal without irritating the skin, and which is non-toxic.
Researchers now report an exciting advance in this matter. To bypass the need for a glue-coated skin adhesive, they focused on adhesion mechanisms used by animals such as beetles and geckos, whose feet stick to walls without any glue, as we have reported in previous issues (see creation.com/great-gecko-glue and creation.com/walking-up-walls). The researchers mimicked those mechanisms by constructing a polymer material that has a surface covered in tiny (micrometre-scale), mushroom-shaped projections. This beetle-mimicking ‘sticking plaster’ maintained good adhesion through up to 30 cycles of attachment and removal, without causing significant damage to skin.
This is just one more instance of the steadily-growing examples of man copying the Creator’s ingenuity—see creation.com/biomimetics.
- Dry solution to a sticky problem, Nature 477:42–43, 1 September 2011.
Launched in 2004, NASA’s Messenger spacecraft has begun orbiting Mercury, and the information it’s sending back is surprising scientists.
For a start, the composition of Mercury’s surface is substantially different from that of other terrestrial planets, with at least ten times more sulfur, or brimstone, than Earth or the moon.
This has implications for evolutionary theories about planetary origins. “It’s thought that the terrestrial planets accreted from smaller bodies that were probably similar to or the same as the asteroids that give us chondritic meteorites as well as the dust that makes up comets,” said Larry Nittler, a cosmochemist involved in analysing the Mercury data. “Our work is showing that at some level, Mercury formed from a different mix of these building blocks than did the other terrestrial planets.”
The Messenger spacecraft also revealed Mercury at some point experienced “epic lava flows” which have left vast areas covered with once-molten rock. Based on the way this lava apparently eroded the underlying surface, it must have flowed rapidly, say researchers. As planetary geoscientist James Head of Brown University explained, “We can’t say if it took 2.7 days or 15 years or any exact time … , but it wasn’t hundreds of millions of years.”
However, just as on Earth, although evolutionary geoscientists are increasingly recognizing that catastrophic and rapid processes must have occurred in the past, they still believe the planets are billions of years old. (No matter how much evidence to the contrary, apparently—see creation.com/age.)
- Planet Mercury full of strange surprises, NASA spacecraft reveals, www.space.com, 29 September 2011.
‘Dino trees’ destroyed after market failure
The 1994 discovery of the Wollemi pine growing in an isolated area of Australia caused great excitement, because it had previously only been known from fossils said to be many millions of years old (Creation 27(4):8, 2005).
An Australian state government won the exclusive rights to propagate the ‘living fossil’ tree. They expected to be flooded with orders for the tree from people around the world eager to purchase their own ‘dinosaur tree’ to grow in their own back yard (Creation 28(1):11, 2005).
But just three years after the first propagated trees went onto the market, poor sales forced the authorities to wind up the Wollemi pine project nine years early (Creation 31(3):10, 2009). When they recently announced that because “there was no market for the remaining 52,000 pines” they had destroyed them, a federal parliamentarian taunted the state government minister responsible: “I’m sorry … the Wollemi did not meet your expectations of beauty after 200 million years of evolution?”
People have often speculated that the discovery of a live dinosaur would shake evolutionists’ faith in millions of years. However, finding this ‘dinosaur tree’, as one evolutionist stated at the time, has the same logical significance. Yet, it has not done so, and neither has the sensational discovery of soft tissue—even branching, transparent and still-flexible blood vessels—in dinosaur and other fossils (see creation.com/schweit2).
Clearly, the ideas of evolution and millions of years, having taken deep root in our culture, have for many become impervious to inconvenient facts.
- Dinosaur pine chips, The Sunday Mail (Aust), 9 January 2011, p. 17.
How plants ‘know’ when to make sunscreen
Plants harvest light energy from sunlight (a process known as photosynthesis; see creation.com/greenpower) but the UV-B wavelengths of sunlight are potentially damaging to them (just as they are to us). Scientists have known for decades that plants make their own sunscreen chemicals for the outer tissues of leaves when UV-B reaches damaging levels. But they didn’t know how plants could recognize when it was necessary to switch on sunblock production.
Now researchers have found that plants have a special photoreceptor to detect UV-B light and then switch on the changes in gene expression needed to produce the plant’s sunscreen. The sunblock chemicals are deposited in the leaf tissues exposed to the bright sunlight and absorb UV-B, protecting the leaf cells below.
At the same time, exposure to UV-B stimulates production of enzymes that repair any damage to DNA, prevent oxidative damage to cells, and keep the photosynthetic machinery in good working order.
- Experts reveal why plants don’t get sunburn, University of Glasgow news, ww.gla.ac.uk, 30 March 2011.