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Creation 35(3):7–11, July 2013

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Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution

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Gold veins produced ‘in an instant’

Gold veins (thought to be formed over deep time) are produced almost instantaneously (possibly within a few tenths of a second) according to a study published in Nature Geoscience.

Veins of gold are formed when hot fluids flowing through cracks deep in the earth’s crust deposit minerals along ‘fault jogs’ (sideways zigzag cracks that connect main fault lines in rock). When opened up during earthquakes, these faults are the recipients of ‘flash deposition’ of gold when minerals and metals fall out of the hot fluid due to rapid depressurization of the solutions that fill them up.

Once again processes that many have been taught take an extremely long time can in reality happen rapidly. Facts such as these should cause Christians who have bought into the old-earth paradigm, based on so-called evidence from uniformitarian geology, to rethink their commitment to the fallible conclusions of men over God’s revealed Word.


Rubber duckie, I’ve got a grip on you …

rubber-duckie

People who enjoy long baths know that the skin on their fingers becomes temporarily ‘wrinkly’ from being in the water. Researchers from Newcastle University, Australia, have now found that it serves a useful purpose. Namely, it improves our ability to grip wet objects—in the case of the university study, wet marbles. (But if the marbles were dry, having wrinkly fingers was no advantage.)

  • Scientists find reason for wrinkly fingers, The Epoch Times, 22 January 2013, p. 6.

Ballard’s Black Sea ‘Flood’ wasn’t Noah’s Flood

News services around the world reported that oceanographer/underwater archaeologist Robert Ballard is claiming to have found evidence that the biblical Flood of Noah was a local event confined to the immediate environs of the Black Sea region. Ballard has previously discovered the wrecks of the Titanic, the Bismarck, and other ships, so his media announcements tend to attract attention—and this was no exception.

The problem is that Ballard’s postulated Black Sea Flood is entirely different, in all respects bar the fact that water was involved, to the Great Flood recorded in the Bible.

There is copious geological evidence for the global Flood. Ballard’s flood was tiny in comparison, the waters of which never even receded. The biblical Flood wasn’t just a local, Black Sea event, but was universal. (For more on this see Claim Robert Ballard discovered Noah’s Flood in the Black Sea is not correct.)

  • Evidence Noah’s Biblical Flood happened, says Robert Ballard, abcnews.go.com, 10 December 2012.

Muddled madness over Mississippian organic molecules

Fossilized sea lilies (crinoids) supposedly ‘dated’ as being 350 million years old have yielded intact species-specific complex organic molecule biomarkers—specifically, aromatic compounds called quinones.

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Quinones are known to sometimes function as pigments, and these quinones found in the fossil sea lilies are just the same as those found in sea lilies living today.

Now this ought to be a bombshell to anyone still thinking these fossils could be millions of years old. As the Ohio State University press release said in its introduction, “scientists have long believed that complex organic molecules couldn’t survive fossilization”—i.e. that complex organic molecules couldn’t survive for millions of years.

However, instead of logically questioning the 350-million-year supposed ‘age’ of their fossils, the researchers blithely said that their results suggest that “the preservation of diagnostic organic molecules is much more common than previously realized.”

What muddled madness. This hand-waving dismissal of what should sensibly have been reason for a major paradigm shift, glibly enabled the researchers to proclaim their finding as “the oldest examples of biomarker molecules extracted directly from fossilized remains.”

What a pity they hadn’t been content to limit their statements to the observable facts, and leave the history to eyewitness historians. For more see Gilding the (sea) lily.


Cicada wings pop bacteria

Living creatures kill bacteria in many ways. We have our sophisticated immune system, and many moulds produce antibiotics. But now a team led by Elena Ivanova of Swinburne University of Technology in Hawthorne, Victoria, Australia, has discovered a unique way that the clanger cicada (Psaltoda claripennis) kills germs. This is purely by a physical structure, not through any chemical means. Since bacteria are microscopic, any physical structure that can kill them must be very tiny indeed.

The cicada’s wings have a hexagonal array of nanopillars. These are only 200 nanometers high, 70 nm in diameter, and 170 nm apart (1 inch = 25.4 million nm). Thus even a bacterium is large on this scale, e.g. the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa they tested is 1000–5,000 nm long and 500–1,000 nm wide.

The pillars surprisingly don’t puncture the cell walls. Instead, they are attracted to the surface, and stretched into the crevices between them, until the wall bursts. Dr Ivanova explains that the mechanism is more like “the stretching of an elastic sheet of some kind, such as a latex glove. If you take hold of a piece of latex in both hands and slowly stretch it, it will become thinner at the centre, [and] will begin to tear.”

The team showed that the effect continued even when the surface was coated by gold, showing that there was no chemical on the wing that was killing the germs. Also, germs with more rigid cell walls were less susceptible, again supporting that the wing’s structure worked by stretching past breaking point.

If this could be mimicked, it could provide a way of disinfecting surfaces that harbour germs, without using harmful chemicals.

(The above item is also available in Russian)


The heavens declare …

Images of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) from the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite have cosmologists reeling, as the data don’t match expectations from current inflationary theories of the origin of the universe. The puzzle is that, across the whole sky, the signal from the CMB is much weaker than expected.

Another surprise is that there is a lack of symmetry in the average temperatures on opposite hemispheres of the sky, which contradicts the current formation theory’s prediction that the universe should be broadly similar in any direction we look. What’s more, a cold spot extends over a patch of sky that is much larger than expected.

However, perhaps the researchers should not have been so surprised, as there were already indicators of this asymmetry and the cold spot from NASA’s earlier WMAP mission. But these had been largely ignored “because of lingering doubts about their cosmic origin.” As Paolo Natoli of the University of Ferrara, Italy, has now admitted, “The fact that Planck has made such a significant detection of these anomalies erases any doubts about their reality; it can no longer be said that they are artefacts of the measurements. They are real and we have to look for a credible explanation.”

Jan Tauber, ESA’s Planck Project Scientist, similarly observed that the anomalies are “intriguing features that force us to rethink some of our basic assumptions”, and which might well require “new physics” in order to be understood.


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Dino ‘stampede’ was in rising water

Australian paleontologists have reassessed the ‘stampeding’ dinosaur track evidence at Lark Quarry in western Queensland, and concluded that the dinosaurs were largely swimming rather than running.

Researcher Anthony Romilio explained that many of the tracks are just elongated grooves—exactly the markings that would be left when the claws of swimming dinosaurs scratched “the river bottom”. A river, he says, which was part of a vast, forested floodplain.

However, CMI-Australia resident geologist Dr Tas Walker points out that the Lark Quarry tracks were likely left behind not on a river bed as most people would imagine it, but rather as the dinosaurs were all endeavouring to escape from the cataclysmal rising waters of the Genesis Flood. “This, and other fossil evidence right around the world, points to the truth of the Genesis account—that the Flood was truly global in extent, and utterly catastrophic for air-breathing land animals and birds that were not on board the Ark.”

  • ‘Stampeding’ dinosaurs were swimming, The Epoch Times, 22 January 2013, p. 6.

Carnivore! No, it’s a herbivore instead

Paleontologists studying fossils of the giant flightless bird Diatryma (or Gastornis) had concluded that it was a predator because of its size (over 2 metres (7 ft) tall), huge head and beak. Also, Diatryma had been found preserved alongside bones of small mammals, presumed to have been the bird’s prey. It has often been illustrated in both scientific literature and popular media as a fierce creature, terrorizing other animals. Many know it as “the bird that replaced dinosaurs as the top predator”.

But the recent discovery of Diatryma footprints preserved in sandstone found in northwest Washington, USA, has forced a rethink. Diatryma is now said to have been not a carnivore, but a “gentle herbivore”.

“[The tracks] clearly show that the animals did not have long talons, but rather short toenails,” said David Tucker of Western Washington University. “This argues against an animal that catches prey and uses claws to hold it down. Carnivorous birds all have sharp, long talons.”

What’s more, Diatryma did not have a hook on the end of its beak—a feature found in all raptors, which helps them to hold prey, and tear into carcasses. But the rush to portray Diatryma as carnivorous previously overrode any circumspection as to its diet. Co-researcher George Mustoe, also of Western Washington University, mused: “Let’s be honest: scary, fierce meat-eaters attract a lot more attention than gentle herbivores.”

Indeed they do. And the widespread media emphasis on cruel carnivory just happens to reinforce the evolutionary notion that it was dog-eat-dog forces that have brought all creatures, including man, into being—i.e. by evolution. In stark contrast, the Bible says that originally all creatures were created according to their kind and were vegetarian. It also warns that people would come to deliberately forget this, and the Flood of Noah’s day, too (2 Peter 3: 3–6)—thus defrauding themselves of the true explanation for birds and mammals being buried together, and the exquisite preservation of footprints in (now-cemented) sand. (See also Are fossils ever found in the wrong place? and Speedy stone.)


Aboriginal Australians’ DNA link to India

wikipedia.org david-gulpilil
Australian Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil

According to the Bible, the Australian Aboriginal people must have settled in Australia some time after the dispersion from Babel (Genesis 10,11). This in turn was about a century after the global Flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 10:25) about 4,500 years ago.

The secular timeline is very different, positing that the ancestors of Australia’s first human settlers were already resident there at least 40,000 years ago—ostensibly supported by carbon ‘dating’ of charcoal in ancient fireplaces.

However, new genetic evidence has identified strong DNA similarities between people in India and people with Aboriginal ancestry in Australia. Professor Mark Stoneking, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said: “We have a pretty clear signal from looking at a large number of genetic markers from all across the genome that there was contact between India and Australia somewhere around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.”

The India-Australia genomic association ties in with numerous accounts of linguistic similarity between the peoples of southern India/Sri Lanka and many of the tribes of Aboriginal people in Australia.


Don’t mention the E-Word!

At a recent dialogue of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) on Science, Ethics and Religion, molecular biologist Denis Alexander addressed the question, “Are we only our genes?”. He was joined by broadcast journalist Steve Paulson on a related question, “Are we only our brains?”

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Both bemoaned the fact that too many in western society have embraced genetic or neurological determinism, leading to “a kind of fatalism” where free will is an illusion. Media headlines such as “Drunken rage could be in your genes” feed into this. Not surprisingly, the resultant erosion of a sense of moral responsibility can have a dramatic effect on people’s behaviour.

Alexander correctly noted that genes might influence us, but people are not puppets with “genes pulling the strings”. Similarly, Paulson lamented, “If everything in our minds can be reduced to brain chemistry, where does that leave us? … It is almost scientific orthodoxy to say that the brain generates all our conscious experiences, but no-one has a clue how this happens.”

Correct. But why are such ideas so widespread and influential? The evolutionary framework is near-universally taught as fact, promoted by such as the atheistic evolutionist Dawkins, with his books The Selfish Gene (we are robots controlled by our genes) and The God Delusion (religious ideas are just brain chemistry). If people are taught that complex things such as the human brain, and the genetic machinery itself, could arise by chance processes, why be surprised when they take this to its logical conclusion?

But evolution was never mentioned. Why not? Alexander, director of the Faraday Institute on Science and Religion, is a prominent ‘Christian evolutionist’—so doesn’t want to say that evolution is the problem. His efforts have helped the spread of the very framework that gives rise to the dehumanizing ideas he rightly deplores.

(The above item is also available in Russian)


No radio signals, no light pulses—but perhaps ET uses hairspray?

Alien hairspray? That’s the latest SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) proposal from ET researchers.

After decades of fruitless searching of the heavens for other ‘alien technosignatures’ such as radio signals or pulsed light beams, researchers suggest instead scanning distant planetary atmospheres for industrially-produced chemicals. For example, the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in hairspray products are entirely artificial, with no known natural process of creating them, so the researchers say finding them would be “potent evidence” of intelligent alien civilizations.

So simple molecules like CFCs are proof of intelligent origin, but far more complex molecules like DNA and protein nanomachines are amazing evidence of what undirected chemistry can do!

wikipedia.org richard-dawkins

Richard Dawkins: Pigs are ‘more human’ than a pre-birth human

Renowned atheist activist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins seemed to be genuinely surprised at the ‘firestorm’ of controversy that erupted after he’d posted a public comment via Twitter. His tweet said:

“With respect to those meanings of ‘human’ that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig.”
  • Atheist Richard Dawkins ignites firestorm with ‘pro-abortion’ tweets: ‘any fetus is less human than an adult pig’, theblaze.com, 15 March 2013.

Ediacaran dispute

Since Ediacaran fossils were first found in South Australia, the evolutionary consensus was that they were marine invertebrates and “an evolutionary precursor to the Cambrian marine explosion.” However, there were always problems, e.g. they were very dissimiliar, and appeared to have undergone an Ediacaran explosion themselves (see Ediacaran ‘explosion’).

But explosive new claims from evolutionary palaeopedologist (expert in ancient soils) Gregory Retallack, of the University of Oregon, have certainly caused a stir.

The problem is that Retallack says the Ediacaran fossils were not marine at all, but instead lived on land. He bases this on various lines of evidence, including fossil soils being found in the sediments surrounding the Ediacaran fossils, and that a number of the fossils, e.g. Dickinsonia, have structures similar to today’s lichens.

Retallack knows only too well why his findings are being so hotly contested: “This discovery has implications for the tree of life, because it removes Ediacaran fossils from the ancestry of animals.”

Indeed it does. Jim Gehling of the South Australian Museum points out that if Ediacaran fossils were not the distant soft-bodied ancestors of animal life, then the Cambrian explosion would have come from “nowhere”. Challenging co-evolutionist Retallack’s view with something of the ultimate evolutionist put-down, Gehling said, “I’m sorry, I’m not a creationist. I do not believe that the Cambrian animals popped into existence out of the blue at the beginning of the Cambrian.”

One of the objections Gehling raises is that the Ediacaran fossils are associated with wave ripples, which he says only form in marine environments. But Retallack counters by saying the oscillating wave ripples could have come from floods or lakes.

From floods? Actually one Flood was enough (Genesis 6–9).

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Humans have unique brain area

Using fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans to compare brain activity of people with that of rhesus monkeys has shown that humans have unique cortical brain networks.

One of the researchers, Professor Wim Vanduffel, of the Neurophysiology Research Group, KU Leuven, Belgium, explained that “brain structures that are unique in humans are anatomically absent in the monkey and there are no other brain structures in the monkey that have an analogous function. Our unique brain areas are primarily located high at the back and at the front of the cortex and are probably related to specific human cognitive abilities, such as human-specific intelligence.”

Sadly, the researchers paid homage to evolution, rather than more logically acknowledging that human uniqueness reflects our having been created in the image of our Creator, while the animals were not (Genesis 1:26–27).

(The above item is also available in Russian)

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Dung beetles read the stars

Humans, seals, and birds use the stars to navigate, but who would have thought that insects might also do this? Scientists have found that dung beetles in Africa roll their dung balls in a straight line on clear moonless nights but not on cloudy nights. Using a planetarium, they showed that the beetles used the soft linear glow of the Milky Way to align their rolling.

So where did they get this extraordinary intelligence?