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God-shaped hole in all of us

©iStockphoto.com/ventdusud Grand-canyon

Researchers are intrigued that subjects who watched ‘awe-inspiring’ footage of the Grand Canyon and other natural phenomena were more likely to say they had faith in a higher power afterwards.

Psychology professor Piercarlo Valdesolo from Claremont McKenna College in California said: “Many historical accounts of religious epiphanies and revelations seem to involve the experience of being awe-struck by the beauty, strength or size of a divine being, and these experiences change the way people understand and think about the world. We wanted to test the exact opposite prediction: It’s not that the presence of the supernatural elicits awe, it’s that awe elicits the perception of the presence of the supernatural.”

So, despite living in a society that presents ‘goo-to-you’ evolution as a fact, the research group’s overwhelming thought was of a higher power behind these ‘awesome’, natural phenomena.

(Note that the Grand Canyon and other geological ‘beauty’ is not actually Designer-created beauty (from Creation Week) but rather the result of a later cataclysmic divine judgment on the world at that time (2 Peter 3:3–6)—the global Flood. See Creation 23(2):4, 2001; creation.com/canyon.)

  • American audiences more likely to believe in God after watching BBC’s Planet Earth, study shows, independent.co.uk, 27 November 2013.

Atheists lose their own

Leading atheists such as Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens have long argued that without religious instruction and ‘parental indoctrination’, there would be far more atheists. Some atheists, such as Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, have strongly campaigned against the teaching of creation, whether by schools or parents, labelling it ‘child abuse’. If only children can be protected from parental and societal ‘brainwashing’ until they reach the ‘age of reason’, argue the atheists, then religious belief will wane and atheism will flourish.

But that prediction is contradicted by the recent finding in the U.S. that the children of atheists are the least likely of any worldview to retain their parents’ beliefs. The ‘retention rate’ for atheism was only 30%, i.e. less than one-third of the children of atheist parents retained their atheism as adults. (Cf. 84% for Hindus, 68% for Roman Catholics, and 60% for Baptists.)

As one commentator observed, “If atheism is natural and religion is only caused by brainwashing, then atheists ought to have the highest retention rate of any religion.” Yet 70% of the children of atheists abandon atheism.

Also, antitheistic psychologist Susan Blackmore, who was an ardent supporter of Dawkins’ “religion as a mind virus” theory, has publicly retracted this support after “data suggesting that religious people are happier and possibly even healthier than secularists.”

  • Religion cannot be a ‘virus of the mind’, kstatecollegian.com, 2 December 2013.

Neandertals spoke—why the surprise?

Biblical creationists have long regarded Neandertals as fully human, post-Flood (indeed, post-Babel) descendants of Adam. For a long time, however, it was assumed by secularists that these people, ‘dated’ to as much as 300,000 years ago, were incapable of human speech. (This assumption also suited the most common ‘old-earth creationist’ position. Such so-called ‘progressive creationism’ tries to maintain Genesis as historical apart from the biblical time frame by accepting secular dates, so is locked into regarding Neandertals as spiritless prehuman animals. But this idea suffered a body-blow recently when DNA showed they interbred with other humans—see creation.com/neandergenes.)

Already in 1989, the assumption that they couldn’t talk was challenged by the discovery of a Neandertal hyoid bone in Israel’s Kebara cave. The hyoid, a bone associated with the larynx (voicebox), looked just like ours. This bone, the one bone in the body not attached to another bone, supports the root of the tongue, so is crucial in our speech ability. In non-human primates, its placement does not permit speech. Now an international team has determined via 3D imaging and careful micro-modelling that the Kebara hyoid was actually used just like ours—in complex human speech. The analysis was possible since “internal architecture reflects the loadings to which a bone is routinely subjected”. Prof. Stephen Wroe of Australia’s University of New England commented, “If Neanderthals also had language then they were truly human, too”.

This further confirmation of the Genesis framework of human history is seen by secularists as pushing the origins of speech back to a surprising degree. A similar hyoid has been found in Spain in association with Homo heidelbergensis.These people were extremely similar to Neandertals, and also fully human, a post-Babel population. Analyses of certain vocal tract and auditory structures from their crania have already suggested that they were capable of speech. Creationists expect that similar modelling on this hyoid, when complete, will very likely show that this individual, too, had modern human speech capability, contrary to the even greater alleged ‘dates’ (500,000 years ago).

  • Neanderthals could speak like modern humans, study suggests, bbc.com, 20 December 2013.
  • Micro-biomechanics of the Kebara 2 hyoid and its implications for speech in Neanderthals, plosone.org, 18 December 2013.

Rooster-comb dino rapidly overcome

Paleontologist Phil Bell from Australia’s University of New England has made a telling observation about how mummified specimens of Edmontosaurus regalis, the duck-billed dinosaurs (hadrosaurids), must have been buried rapidly.

“For the skin to preserve, these animals had to be buried very rapidly, probably within a day or two after they died, and the chemical environment in the sediment was just right,” Bell said. He was taken aback when his chisel went into the skin of a rooster-like comb on the specimen’s head because he had been expecting it to be rock-like.

Rapid burial and fossilization is consistent with a catastrophic event such as Noah’s Flood—not with the slow and gradual accumulation of sediments (on which secular science’s millions of years doctrine depends). Survival of unpetrified (mummified) tissue is also consistent with thousands of years but invalidates millions.

  • Dinosaur fossil with fleshy rooster’s comb is first of its kind, news.nationalgeographic.com, 12 December 2013.

School for thought

The Church of England in the UK is so concerned about its parishioners’ lack of understanding of the Bible that it has introduced ‘Sunday school for adults’.

The denomination found that more and more people had little knowledge of key biblical teachings and decided to offer parish classes to educate them.

Perhaps the Church of England would not admit it, but the need for such classes reflects the effect on society of evolutionary indoctrination in education and the media. And it underscores how the creation-evolution issue really is a battle for the mind of both adults and children.

  • Adults sent to Sunday school, The Daily Telegraph, 3 October 2013, p. 21.

Floral fertilization preserved in amber

Scientists are excited by the discovery—in a supposed 100-million-year-old piece of amber from Myanmar—of evidence of sexual reproduction in a flowering plant named Micropetasos burmensis.

The researchers released a microscopic image that shows pollen tubes extending out of two grains of pollen and penetrating the flower’s stigma, the receptive part of the plant’s female reproductive system.

One of the researchers said, “It’s interesting that the mechanisms for reproduction that are still with us today had already been established some 100 million years ago.”

Why ‘interesting’? Because such delicate preservation, and stasis, across the mooted millions of years stretches credulity. Why no evolution in all that supposed time? The Bible’s account of recent creation of plants on Day 3 programmed to reproduce according to their kind makes much more sense.

  • Amber fossil reveals ancient reproduction in flowering plants, oregonstate.edu, 3 January 2014.

Planets baffle big bangers

NASA launched Kepler, a space telescope designed to search for planets outside the Solar System, called exoplanets, in 2009. Using Kepler, astronomers have so far found 3,538 possible planets. (A smaller number have been verified.)

Commenting on a meeting of astronomers about exoplanets, The Economist said,

“Although the search for Earthlike planets gets most of the limelight, Kepler’s data are useful for other things, too. They have, for instance, driven an empirical coach and horses through astronomers’ ideas about how planets form, by finding all sorts of objects that should not, according to the old theories, exist at all—such as planets the size of Jupiter or bigger orbiting close to their parent stars. Building a new theory to account for these space oddities is a big project.”

Planet formation theory (part of big bang astronomy) was already in serious trouble, because it cannot account for our own solar system, but this adds to the angst of those who want to explain creation without a Creator. (See also Creation33(1):45–47, 2011; creation.com/extrasolar2.)

  • My God, it’s full of planets! The Economist , 9 November 2013, p. 82.

More Tiktaalik talk can’t make it walk

Evolutionists have now found pelvic bones in the fossilized fish Tiktaalik roseae which they claim confirms fins-to-feet development.

The University of Chicago researchers say Tiktaalik represents “a transitional stage in the origin of the pelvic girdle”.

Tiktaalik has for some years been promoted as the ‘missing link’ fossil between fish and land animals but it really is an example of evolutionary storytelling.

One of the paper’s authors showed how much storytelling was going on when he revealed there was no hind fin bone to go with the pelvic bones. “The hind fin of Tiktaalik is tantalisingly incomplete,” he said.

You can read more about the sorry history of this just-so story at creation.com/tiktaalik-pelvis.

  • Pelvic girdle and fin of Tiktaalik roseae, pnas.org, 3 December 2013.
  • Tiktaalik fossils reveal how fish evolved into four-legged land animals, theguardian.com, 14 January 2014.

Men and women really are different

©iStockphoto.com/kot2626 men-and-women

A new study further highlights the major differences in outlook between males and females (in stark contrast to the dogma of ‘political correctness’ that gender differences are caused by society—but apparently gays are born that way).

Researchers used a special brain-scanning technique called diffusion tensor imaging to map the nerve connections between nearly 100 regions of the brain. They found that the brains of men and women “are wired up differently”, and that this could explain some of the stereotypical differences in male and female behaviour. After puberty, male brains tend to be more connected from the front to back of the same hemisphere, while female brains are more connected between the left and right hemispheres, except for the cerebellum used for motor control.

These differences between the sexes have been previously well documented by rigorous testing, with men generally outperforming women at spatial tasks and motor skills, while women are generally better at verbal tasks involving memory and intuition.

Ragini Verma, professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, made it clear that the brain imaging results were inescapable:

“These maps show us a stark difference—and complementarity—in the architecture of the human brain that helps to provide a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at others.”

Such ‘hardwired’ complementarity between men and women makes complete sense if there was Someone who ‘wired’ them up differently in the first place. “Male and female He created them,” the Bible says (Genesis 1:27). Vive la différence!

  • The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are ‘better at map reading’, www.independent.com, 3 December 2013.
  • Ingalhalikar, M. et al., Sex differences in the structural connectome of the human brain, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 2 December 2013 | doi: 10.1073/pnas.1316909110.

©iStockphoto.com/Roman_Guro clever-crocs

Clever crocs

Crocodiles are typically described as ‘primitive’ and ‘living fossils’ because they are basically the same as creatures found as fossils claimed to be many millions of years old.

However, researchers have now discovered that crocs have advanced technology in their scaly skin. They have sensors that are very responsive to touch, cold and warm temperatures, and pH variations. They are “remarkable multi-sensorial micro-organs with no equivalent in the described sensory systems of other vertebrate lineages.”

Just like all other organisms, crocs clearly have the hallmarks of divine design. Recent creation, as the Bible says, makes much more sense of such design than millions-of-years beliefs.

  • Crocodylians evolved scattered multi-sensory micro-organs, EvoDevo 4:19, 2 July 2013.

Jesus just a Roman ploy?

One Joseph Atwill says the Romans invented the idea of Jesus Christ as a form of psychological warfare to control the population. He describes himself as a ‘biblical scholar’, but has no formal qualifications in any of the relevant disciplines (he studied computer science at college).

In a book titled Caesar’s Messiah, Atwill claims the Jesus of the Bible never existed. Rather, Emperor Titus Flavius (reigned ad 79–81) created a competing belief system (Jesus Christ) to stop zealous Jews spreading their religion. The thesis is bizarre; Titus had no need for anything fancy, since he had already decisively defeated the Jews militarily in ad 70. And why would he want to start a belief system among the Gentiles that might (and did) challenge emperor-worship?

In an interview about his ‘discoveries’, Atwill said: “What my work has done is give permission to many of those ready to leave the religion to make a clean break.”

Atwill is just another sad voice arguing for the ‘Christ-myth’ but has no support from any serious historian. Many of those serious historians have no vested interest in Christianity or the Creation/Gospel message, yet unhesitatingly declare that Jesus was a real person in history. Indeed, Atwill has proven an embarrassment even to his fellow Christ-mythers, although that’s like the Tea Leaf Readers Association complaining about the wrong type of tea. However, this didn’t stop a favourable ‘tweet’ from Richard Dawkins, the Apostle of Atheopathy himself.

  • Scholar: Jesus was invented by the Romans as form of “psychological warfare”, news.softpedia.com, 10 October 2013.
  • See also review at tektonics.org/books/csmessrvw.php.

There’s a moral to this story

dawkin

As part of the ‘Lab UK’ section on its website, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) has conducted a survey called ‘Test Your Morality’.

Details of what the survey revealed are yet to appear, but Robert Aunger, Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said he hoped to unlock explanations for moral choices.

He pointed to the daily moral choices everyone made and said while people found some types of crimes abhorrent, they could not necessarily explain why. He called that phenomenon ‘moral dumbfounding’.

Aunger proposes a Human Superorganism Theory, which says moral actions are based on the “need to ‘police’ society in order to keep the ‘superorganism’ functioning properly, and that everyone in human social groups inadvertently plays the role of ‘unofficial policeman’ by making judgements about how others behave.”

However, the Bible says that humans are born in the image of the Creator—our Moral Law-giver—and it is He Who has wired our conscience to know the difference between right and wrong (Romans 2).

So perhaps ‘moral dumbfounding’ would be better defined as an inability to acknowledge the Author of morality in oneself and the world around.

  • About the ‘Test Your Morality’ experiment, bbc.co.uk, 2013.

©iStockphoto.com/Zffoto oil

Heat and pressure makes oil in minutes

At the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy, engineers have been able to turn freshly harvested algae into useful crude oil in minutes. All they needed was high temperatures and pressures: 350ºC (662ºF) and 21,000 kPa (3,000 psi).

Research team leader Douglas Elliott was quoted as saying: “In a sense, we are duplicating the process in the earth that converted algae into oil over the course of millions of years. We’re just doing it much, much faster.”

Processes in the earth can naturally reach very high temperatures and pressures, so the irony is obvious; the very result Elliott is reporting is evidence that no millions of years were needed to form oil geologically, but that weeks or months at most would have easily sufficed.

  • Algae to crude oil: Million-year natural process takes minutes in the lab, gizmag.com, 24 December 2013.

Committed to the cause

The antitheist Richard Dawkins has again confirmed that he is engaged in a war against religion.

In an interview about the release of his memoir An Appetite For Wonder: The Making of a Scientist, Dawkins said: “I suppose my particular branch of biology is kind of in the front-line trench where religion is fighting evolution.”

Even though Dawkins does criticize all forms of religion, he directs the majority of his attacks on Christianity.

He especially opposes those who believe that Genesis is literal history, but also has utter contempt for those who try to mix the Bible and evolution, calling it ‘barking mad’ (see creation.com/dawk-on-comp.)

  • Richard Dawkins: ‘I don’t think I am strident or aggressive’, theguardian.com, 15 September 2013.

Europa’s high-pressure water spouts

Astronomers say exploring Jupiter’s icy moon Europa for signs of life should be a priority after reviewing images from the Hubble Space Telescope thought to be of water vapour plumes. The plumes spout about 200 km (125 miles) into the atmosphere at 700 m (2,300 feet) a second over the south polar regions. The event only happens for seven hours at a time, peaking when Europa is farthest from Jupiter in its orbit and Jupiter’s gravity effect is lowest, and stops when it’s closest.

The speculation is that because there is so much water, there must be life. But ‘water’ does not equal ‘life’—indeed, water breaks down the big molecules necessary for life (see creation.com/mars-water, creation.com/polymer). So the evolutionary media ‘spin’ linking the discovery to hopes of finding extra-terrestrial life is utterly misplaced.

What’s more, Europa’s fantastically violent water spouts represent a huge challenge to millions-of-years ideas. And not just Europa’s plumes. The researchers themselves noted the similarities to the high-pressure vapour emissions observed on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. If Europa and Enceladus really were 4.5 billion years old, such small objects should have long been cold and inactive, rather than producing the energy they do.

Evolutionists can’t satisfactorily explain the moons’ dramatic activity. From a biblical creation perspective however, because the universe is only thousands of years old, then some of the ‘puzzles’ that Europa and Enceladus pose no longer need answering. (For more see: creation.com/young-saturn, ~/enceladus-young, ~/jupiter.)

  • Jupiter’s icy moon Europa ‘spouts water’, bbc.co.uk, 12 December 2013.