Focus: creation news and views
School funding tied to teaching evolution
From 2013, all free schools in England must teach evolution as a “comprehensive and coherent scientific theory”, or else lose their government funding.
The changes arose from concerns that “free schools run by creationists might avoid teaching evolution”. For more see Further restrictive legislation to keep Creation out of UK state-funded schools.
- UK mandates the teaching of evolution as scientific fact, Slashdot: News for Nerds, 30 November 2012.
- Teaching evolution key to free school funding deal, BBC, 30 November 2012.
Human gene mutations “arose in the last 200 generations”
We have periodically pointed out that, from a biblical perspective, there have only been about 200 human generations since time began. (E.g. Creation 31(2):18–19, 2009; The Non-Mythical Adam and Eve!.) In that light, consider these recent findings by evolutionary geneticists, who studied more than one million mutations, or changes to our DNA code, found across human populations.
“Most of the mutations that we found arose in the last 200 generations or so,” said Joshua Akey of the University of Washington. He and his co-researchers found that of the mutations likely to be harmful, 91% emerged in the last 5,000 years. Many of these have only existed for the last thousand years.
Echoing Akey’s statements, population geneticist Alon Keinan of Cornell University said: “Humans today carry a much larger load of deleterious variants than our species carried just prior to its massive expansion just a couple hundred generations ago.”
These observations match the Bible’s declaration of a world “in bondage to decay” since Adam sinned (Romans 8:19–22). Evolutionary geneticists belatedly realized that the rate of degradation of the human genome poses huge problems for the evolutionary timeline (Time—no friend of evolution).
- Analysis of 6,515 exomes reveals the recent origin of most human protein-coding variants, nature.com, 28 November 2012.
- Human evolution enters an exciting new phase, wired.com, 29 November 2012.
Posthumous letters defend famous atheist convert
When the world’s leading atheist philosopher, the late Sir Antony Flew, changed his mind on the basis of evidence (such as molecular biology) and said that there had to be at least some sort of designing God, it sent shock waves through the world of militant atheism. Not surprisingly, many of them went on the offensive, claiming that he had become senile, and/or that the book detailing his switch, There is a God, had words put in his mouth by its Christian co-author (see our review—Former leading atheist argues for the existence of God).
Now Christian apologist Anthony Hovath has released a slew of letters written to him by Flew before his death, showing the vacuousness of such charges. In this correspondence by Flew’s own hand, which taken together constitutes a “devastating rebuttal” to the tenor of atheist criticisms, “Flew speaks openly about the forthcoming book, what it would be about, and the points it would make.”
- Letters from the dead, YAHOO! News, 24 September 2012.
Stanford scientist: Humans are getting less intelligent
Mutation plus selection is how we are supposed to have evolved, but new research shows that mutations are making humans less intelligent and less able to relate emotionally, according to Stanford University’s Gerald Crabtree. In a recently published paper, he estimates that in the past 3,000 years, i.e. about 120 generations, every person has sustained two or more mutations harmful to intellect or emotional functioning. (See Human gene mutations “arose in the last 200 generations” above) But not to worry: he suggests that in the future “we may be able to magically correct any mutation that has occurred in all cells of any organism at any developmental stage. Thus, the brutish process of natural selection will be unnecessary.”
‘Magic’ may be the appropriate word to describe a process which can stop or even reverse the inexorable degradation of the entire genome (not just the genes related to brain function). In reality, the entropy of the genome of all multi-celled organisms fits far better with a world that was created perfect then fell, than with a world that is getting ‘better and better’ through evolution. See Plant geneticist: ‘Darwinian evolution is impossible’, Time—no friend of evolution, and New DNA repair enzyme discovered.
- Study suggests humans are slowly but surely losing intellectual and emotional abilities, medicalxpress.com, 12 November 2012.
Losing complexity cannot turn microbes into man
According to a press release from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, “The view that animals have become more complex over time could be a thing of the past.”
That’s because researcher David Ferrier and his colleagues have reportedly discovered the “ghostly remains of gene neighbourhoods [for Hox and ParaHox genes] that once existed in a 550-million-year-old ancestor.” suggesting that “some modern day animals may have evolved instead by becoming less complex.” The findings “appear to contradict the common perception of evolution—that creatures have advanced by becoming genetically more complex over time.”
Instead, modern-day animals like sponges, comb jellies and placozoans “may have actually evolved by losing some genes and perhaps became simplified from a more complex ancestor.”
- There are ghosts in the genome, University of St Andrews News, 27 September 2012.
Japanese ‘squid’ calls for evolution rewrite
Fossil belemnites found in Japan mean previous ideas about belemnite evolution need to be changed. Belemnites are extinct squid-like animals that leave a hard, bullet-shaped fossil ‘shell’, called a guard.
The researchers in Japan say their discoveries mean that belemnites originated 33 million years earlier than previously thought (according to their evolutionary assumptions) and that the animal did not evolve in northern Europe, but in Asia.
Once again we see that evolution is insulated from the evidence. No matter what is found, evolution is the explanation. The story changes to absorb the new data.
Creationist geologists interpret these creatures as being buried during Noah’s Flood, as the waters were rising to inundate the earth. The order of the fossils is not the order of evolution. Rather it’s the order in which the different animals were overwhelmed during this biblical global catastrophe.
- Belemnites originated in the Triassic—A new look at an old group, Geology 40(10):911–914, 2012.
Coral reefs blossom in cloudy water
An international research team studying the iconic Great Barrier Reef in Australia found that coral reefs grow rapidly in sediment-laden marine waters, contrary to what was previously thought.
The sediment, from river floods and waves stirring the sea floor, makes the water persistently cloudy. Yet coral growth has averaged nearly 1 cm per year, much higher than the growth measured on reefs in clear water. It was found that growth was actually faster in the wet season when sediment from river floods was high. Growth at these times averaged 1.3 cm per year.
This confirms the reefs had plenty of time to grow to their present size since the end of Noah’s Flood, some 4,500 years ago.
- Coral reef thriving in sediment-laden waters, Science Daily, 31 July 2012.
Cave artists ‘more accurate’ than Leonardo da Vinci
Researchers led by Gábor Horváth of Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, examined cave artwork and modern paintings and statues of animals including horses, bulls and elephants. They found the majority of depictions of animals walking or trotting had the legs wrongly positioned. However, cave paintings had the lowest error rate of 46.2%. The highest error rate, 83.5%, was in modern era artworks prior to the late 19th century. Leonardo da Vinci was famous for his anatomical drawings, but he, too, “got it wrong when he tried to portray animal movement.”
The error rate decreased to 57.9% after the 1880s thanks to Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering detailed studies of animal gait. But illustrators of moving animals still could not match cave art for accuracy.
The researchers wrote: “Cavemen were more keenly aware of the slower motion of their prey animals and illustrated quadruped walking more precisely than later artists.”
- Cave art animals ‘more accurate’, uk.news.yahoo.com, 18 December 2012.
- Cavemen Were Better at Depicting Quadruped Walking than Modern Artists: Erroneous Walking Illustrations in the Fine Arts from Prehistory to Today, PLoS ONE 7(12):e49786, 5 December 2012.
DNA storage record broken
Harvard scientists have smashed—by a thousand times—the previous record for storing data on DNA. They managed to store 5.5 petabits of data or around 700 terabytes (TB—one TB is ~1000 GB, or 1 million MB, or 10¹² bytes) in a single gram of DNA.
The article states that scientists “have been eyeing up DNA as a potential storage medium for a long time”.
The article points out that to store this much data (700 terabytes, in a tiny drop of DNA) would require 14,000 50-Gb Blu-ray discs. “To store the same kind of data on hard drives—the densest storage medium in use today—you’d need 233 3TB drives, weighing a total of 151 kilos [330 lbs].”
DNA is in fact the most efficient information-storage system known to exist in the universe. The density of information it can store far outstrips our modern-day technology (see also Dazzling design in miniature: DNA information storage).
As far as real, observational science goes, the information contained in DNA never arises spontaneously from random chemistry, only from pre-existing programmed machinery which requires the information carried on the DNA itself. DNA itself is chemically unstable, and protected in our cells by repair machines (Dazzling design in miniature: DNA information storage).
Yet according to the ‘spirit of our age’, (DNA) this most ingenious information system that has yet to be surpassed by modern efforts at deliberate design, was never designed!
- Anthony, S., Harvard cracks DNA storage, crams 700 terabytes of data into a single gram, Extreme Tech, 17 August 2012.
- Next-generation digital information storage in DNA, Science 337(6102):1628, 28 September 2012.
Passions rage over Giant’s Causeway Centre
Twelve years after the tourist interpretive centre burnt down at Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, a new state-of-the-art facility opened in July 2012 (see New visitors’ centre opens at Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland), amid a flurry of controversy.
A few seconds of audio caused uproar because it briefly mentioned that, for creationists, the debate about the age of the earth is still ongoing.
So intense was the outcry from atheists and secularists that the Trust announced a review of the exhibit, even though they had consulted widely in the centre’s planning.
Now, a new 20-second segment replaces the original recording, to make it clear that the National Trust endorses only the ‘scientific’ explanation for Causeway’s formation. This is misleading because age is really a matter of history, and evolutionists have a faulty view of the earth’s past.
Nevertheless, the audio still says that not everyone agrees, and that some people believe the earth was formed only thousands of years ago.
Such an emotionally-charged outburst against just a few seconds of audio demonstrates that the age of the earth is not a side issue. For many, to question the millions of years brings the Creator God of the Bible too close for comfort.
- Trust amends Causeway centre ‘Creationist’ exhibit, BBC, 3 October 2012.
Are we pawns in a computer game?
Yes, they’re serious. Really. University of Washington researchers are “conducting experiments to discover whether the universe exists within a Matrix style computer simulation created by super computers of the future. The experiments could prove that we are merely pawns in some kind of larger computer game.”
(However, serious chessplayers know that pawns are very important; Philidor, the 18th century’s best player, wrote “Pawns are the soul of chess.”)
What’s more, if it turns out we are only bit players in some sort of computer program, one of the physicists working on the project, Martin Savage, suggests that there may be a way for us to mess with the program, to manipulate the computer code, and “play with the minds of our creators”.
- While Professor Savage acknowledges that the possibility that we’re just a piece of data in a computer simulation may be disturbing, he claims that it doesn’t nullify our existence.
Unique gene found in humans
Researchers have discovered a new gene, unique to humans, that appears to have a role in “the advanced brain functions that make us human”.
That’s good. The trouble is, however, the additional evolutionary ‘spin’ disseminated in reports of the discovery. The new gene, miR–941, was dubbed the ‘evolution gene’, and it was claimed the gene “helps explain how humans evolved from chimpanzees”.
Team leader Martin Taylor of the University of Edinburgh said, “This new molecule sprang from nowhere at a time our species was undergoing dramatic changes: living longer, walking upright, learning how to use tools and how to communicate.”
“Sprang from nowhere”?! Surely this gene associated with intelligence in humans can only have itself come from a source of greater intelligence? (Romans 1:20)
- ‘Unique’ evolution gene find hailed, MSN News, 14 November 2012.
Millions of years wrong
“The accepted ages for the oldest rocks are wrong,” so claimed a report in New Scientist on problems with radioactive dating methods. That’s because the estimated time for half of radioactive samarium-146 to decay (its half-life) was found to be 33% in error. Samarium-146 is used to calculate the ‘ages’ of events in the early solar system.
Previously taken as 103 million years, plus or minus 5 million, Michael Paul of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, along with his colleagues, recently published a half-life figure of 68 million years. Their method is more reliable, they say. So much for the precision earlier claimed of plus-or-minus 5 million years.
All the ‘dates’ previously calculated using the incorrect half-life for events in the early solar system are thus wrong, some by as much as 80 million years. If numbers that can actually be measured in the present turn out to be so askew, what are we to think about numbers that are impossible to measure, such as the original amount of samarium-146 in the sample when it formed in the past?
Actually, the maximum possible age for the nominated ‘oldest’ rocks is only about 6,000 years. That date has been obtained by the only method that can yield reliable dates—the historical method. That is how we know the date for the Gettysburg Address and the Battle of Trafalgar, for example—i.e. the dates are based on eyewitness records of what happened and when. The Bible is an eyewitness record of what really happened in the past—from the very beginning of time. The ‘millions of years’ have never been observed, but are only imagined in the minds of those who believe in them.
- Ages of oldest rocks are off by millions of years, NewScientist 214(2859):9, 7 April 2012.
Johan Huibers’ full-size replica of Noah’s Ark launched
At the time that Creation magazine first interviewed Dutchman Johan Huibers about his attention-grabbing floating ‘ark’ (Creation 30(4):12–14, 2008; creation.com/huibers), about half as long as Noah’s original, he was already planning something much bigger. A full-sized version!—(under construction above—see Creation 33(4):32–34, 2011). Now that this 130-m (427-ft)-long, 29-m (95-ft)-wide and 23-m (75-ft)-tall, fully operational ship has been launched, it is attracting the attention of many.
For example, Associated Press, announcing the completion of Huibers’ ark and its official opening to the public, reported: “Huibers, a Christian, used books [chapters] 6–9 of Genesis as his inspiration, following the instructions God gives Noah down to the last cubit.” It wrote of Johan Huibers’ hopes that the replica ark gets people to thinking that there is a purpose to being on Earth. “I want to make people question that, so that they go looking for answers,” said Huibers, “and ultimately find salvation and eternal life.”
One of the first visitors certainly understood the obvious take-home message of this modern day ark: “You might know the story of Noah, okay, but if you see this you begin to get an idea of how it would actually have worked in practice.”
- Dutchman launches life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark, hosted.ap.org, 10 December 2012.
DNA and bone cells found in dinosaur bone
For the last 15 years, Dr Mary Schweitzer from Montana, an evolutionist herself, has been rocking the evolutionary/uniformitarian world with discoveries of soft tissue in dinosaur bones (see ‘Schweitzer’s Dangerous Discovery’). And late in 2012, she and her team also found bone cells (osteocytes), proteins such as actin and tubulin, and DNA. None of these should be able to survive the supposed 65 million years since dinosaur extinction.
DNA is especially problematic. Most people think DNA is very stable, but in reality, about a million DNA letters are damaged in each of your cells every day. We would soon be a mutated mess without special repair enzymes (Dazzling design in miniature: DNA information storage). And late last year, researchers measured how long DNA could survive even protected by bone. They show that even at below freezing –5°C (23°F), DNA would be totally disintegrated after 6.83 million years—only about a tenth of the assumed dinosaur evolutionary age. Yet Schweitzer’s team found DNA intact enough to form a double helix.
Could this be contamination from bacteria? No: the DNA was found right where we would expect it to be found in a dino cell. Further, Schweitzer’s team detected histones. These are little protein balls upon which DNA is wound in eukaryotes (organisms with cell nuclei) like dinosaurs and man, not in bacteria.
- For more about this powerful refutation of millions-of-years dogma, see creation.com/dino-dna.
- Molecular analyses of dinosaur osteocytes support the presence of endogenous molecules, Bone, 17 October 2012.
- The half-life of DNA in bone: measuring decay kinetics in 158 dated fossils, Proc. Royal Society B 279(1748):4724-4733, 7 December 2012.
The ‘missing links’ are even more ‘missing’!
When the greatly fragmented skull designated KNM-ER 1470 (‘1470 man’) was first discovered, it was paraded as a transitional ‘ape-man’, as Homo habilis. But even many evolutionists now say the very notion of ‘Homo habilis’ should be abandoned. Even those who argue for its retention (as a convenient ‘wastebin’ for ‘hominid’ fossils they don’t know what to do with?) concede its questionable status.
Homo habilis is now in even more trouble. Researchers led by Meave Leakey, recently reported on newly discovered fossils from northern Kenya. A nearly complete lower jaw (KNM-ER 60000) and the well preserved face of a late juvenile (KNM-ER 62000) are said to match that of 1470.
These new fossils also closely match features of the juvenile male fossil (MH1) Australopithecus sediba. So if, as suggested by Leakey and the other researchers, ‘1470 man’ belongs to whatever species these new finds belong to, then that makes 1470 also an Australopithecine. This means ‘southern ape’—and no missing link, because it was less similar to both apes and humans than they are from each other.. Therefore 1470 was not ‘Homo habilis’ or any other Homo (man). Without Homo habilis, there’s no ape-to-man link.
This work confirms a trend that, as fossils are researched, the human-like ones become more human-like and the more ape-like ones become more ape-like, resulting in the ‘missing links’ becoming even more missing. The gap between apes and humans increases with more research, not decreases (see also The non-transitions in ‘human evolution’—on evolutionists’ terms).
- New fossils from Koobi Fora in northern Kenya confirm taxonomic diversity in early Homo, Nature 488:201-204, 9 August 2012.
- These new fossils are intriguing as hell, Lawn Chair Anthropology, 9 August 2012.