Focus: creation news and views 37(1)
If a whale shark dies, and falls to the seabed … it’s meal time!
Researchers have found a deep-sea graveyard off the Angolan coast with the carcasses of four large marine creatures—a whale shark and three rays.
“It is extremely rare to encounter natural food-falls; in five decades of deep-sea photography and exploration only nine vertebrate carcasses have ever been documented,” the research team wrote. “To find four in such close proximity is unprecedented, suggesting that large food-falls are common in the region. The cause of death of the animals identified here is unknown and most carcasses appear to have arrived at the seabed intact.”
What was not surprising was that the carcasses were being scavenged in a ‘food frenzy’. The team noted: “These carcasses can support scavenger communities on the deep seafloor for weeks to months at a time.”
Such scavenging on the seabed is both normal and widespread. Yet there are many fossils of exquisitely preserved aquatic creatures, raising the question: Why weren’t they scavenged? There’s clearly something awry about the frequently-made claim in evolutionary textbooks about fossil formation on the seabed. And there’s the additional problem that not all aquatic creatures sink to the seabed when they die—see: Whale explodes fossil theory, creation.com/explodewhale.
- Where sharks go to die: Researchers find unique ‘underwater graveyard’ of giant fish, dailymail.co.uk, 14 May 2014.
- Fish food in the deep sea: revisiting the role of large food-falls, PLOS One 9(5):e96016, 7 May 2014.
Papa was a rollin’ stone?
“And if you can make rocks, you can make life.” What a statement! Who could have said such a thing?
The above quote was attributed to Dimitar Sasselov, Director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative, in relation to the discovery of a ‘mega-earth’ known as Kepler-10c. The huge rocky planet orbiting a star about 560 light years away, is 29,000 km wide or 2.3 times the size of the Earth and weighs about 17 times as much.
This discovery has puzzled astronomers because its presumed initial change in girth should have made it collect more hydrogen gas and turned it into a gas giant, like Jupiter. Notwithstanding that, Sasselov is convinced Kepler-10c has “positive implications for life”. His reasoning?—“Finding Kepler-10c tells us that rocky planets could form much earlier than we thought. And if you can make rocks, you can make life,’’ he said.
Sasselov’s notion that a rocky planet growing by naturalistic means equals the possibility of life is, of course, pure speculation. And speculation is all that is left when the long-age ruling paradigm can’t explain with any certainty the fact that the planet exists at all in its present form.
The reality is that our Creator God is the only One who could turn rocks into life—in fact, He formed man out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7).
- Mega earth twice as big as our planet discovered by astronomers, news.com.au, 3 June 2014.
Slippery slope warning on euthanasia
Society’s increasing acceptance of voluntary so-called ‘mercy killing’ (euthanasia) is clearly linked to the abandonment of the Genesis declaration that people were specially created in God’s image. If we are all just a bag of randomly evolved chemicals, why should life be sacred, anyway? We then set the rules!
One of the first countries to legalize euthanasia was the Netherlands. There were warnings of a ‘slippery slope’, with increasing numbers killed for reasons other than intolerable pain, e.g. those with treatable depression or aged folk feeling ‘in the way’ of their families.
Prof. Theo Boer, a leading Dutch ethicist, was one of those who supported euthanasia. A member of an official review committee, he personally reviewed some 4,000 cases. With colleagues, he poo-poohed the idea of such a ‘slope’.
But, just as the UK and other countries are toying with a similar model, Boer has issued a ‘Don’t go there’ warning to other countries. He says that he and others were lulled into complacency when, for several years, Dutch statistics showed no signs of an increase. But, he says, “We were wrong—terribly wrong.”
After a temporary pause, the numbers showed a 15% increase year after year. Nearly one in seven deaths are now from active killing by doctors. And the figures strongly suggest that people with mental illness or dementia are also being euthanized, despite the obvious problem with their capacity for consent. Also, that lethal injection is likely often taken as the ‘solution’ to the problem of being “aged, lonely or bereaved”. A Dutch ‘right to die’ lobby has “founded a network of travelling euthanizing doctors” who see the patient on average three times before killing them—far from an established doctor-patient relationship. This society, he says, shows it “will not rest until a lethal pill is made available to anyone over 70 years who wishes to die. Some slopes truly are slippery.”
- Don’t make our mistake, dailymail.co.uk, 10 July 2014.
Search for life with 2030 vision
NASA scientists say that they are “on the verge” of finding life elsewhere in the universe.
Professor of astronomy at the University of Nottingham (UK) Michael Merrified said: “Twenty-five years ago we didn’t even know any planets outside the solar system existed, and now we’re up to a couple of thousand of them. … So I would say probably you’re talking about somewhere within the next 10, maybe 20 years we’ll start finding life elsewhere in the universe.”
Really? They’ve been eager for such for a long time now, and their agenda isn’t hard to spot—see creation.com/hosing-down-the-hype.
- NASA predicts finding evidence of extraterrestrial life within 20 years, abc.net.au/news, 17 July 2014.
Traditional knowledge of tar-making is fading away
In our recent article that dealt with the benefits that a covering of pitch had on Noah’s Ark [Creation 36(3):15, 2014], it was pointed out that because European shipbuilders sealed vessels using pine-tree resin, perhaps Noah likewise used such a method.
But as well as the method of collecting resin from a live tree, the Scandinavians have for many centuries practised a process of fire-heating pine wood to generate tar for maritime use as a sealant. The process starts with pine wood arranged in such a way that as the fire heats it, the tar drains out by a channel to a waiting receptacle. To concentrate the heat from the fire, the wood is traditionally covered with peat moss to create a kiln-like effect.
It’s possible Noah and his sons used this very technique for the pitch that covered the Ark, inside and out. However, the knowledge of how to produce the pinewood tar is passing away, as newer technologies produce much greater volumes of sealant. Although the newer artificial sealant is inferior to that produced by the traditional method, it is substantially cheaper, thus displacing the old-fashioned tar out of the marketplace.
- Pine tar; history and uses, maritime.org, acc. 18 August 2014.
‘Bad design’ of eye improves day vision without sacrificing night vision
Evolutionists such as Richard Dawkins have long claimed that our eyes are wired ‘backwardly’, something no designer would do. However, creationist eye experts such as ophthalmologist Dr George Marshall pointed out that Dawkins’s claim “comes from a lack of knowledge of eye function and anatomy” (Creation 18(4):19–21, 1996; creation.com/marshall). Later, Marshall was further vindicated by discoveries that the inverted wiring allowed the Müller cells to function as a fibre optic plate, enhancing image sharpness. Thus Dawkins’s alleged bad design turns out to be “an optimal structure” (Creation 32(4):10, 2010; creation.com/mueller-v-dawkins).
Researchers from the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have found a further benefit of the inverted wiring. Note first that our eyes have two types of light receptors: cones, which need brighter light, are responsible for colour and central vision, and the sharpest images; rods can detect a single photon of light, and are mainly responsible for night and peripheral vision, but can’t distinguish colour. They are most sensitive to blue-green light and can barely detect red, and are more common in the peripheral regions. This is why pilots and astronomers at night try not to look directly at an object but a little to the side (‘averted vision’).
The previous research showed that Müller cells were great light guides. The new research shows that they also separate colours (wavelengths). Red and green light is funnelled onto cones, best at detecting them, rather than wasted on the rods. Rather, the Müller cells leak blue light on to the rods that can make best use of the energetic photons, which might damage the sensitive cones. Thus the inverted wiring helps to optimize day vision in bright light, while at night, the rods also get as much blue light as possible.
- Müller cells separate between wavelengths to improve day vision with minimal effect upon night vision, Nature Communications 5:4319, 8 July 2014 | doi:10.1038/ncomms5319.
- Eyesight: Separating light for better sight, Nature Communications, 9 July 2014.
A little water makes sand easier to shift gear
A lot of sand and a little water may have been the answer to how the Egyptians moved huge blocks of stones for the pyramids.
Based on a reproduction of a wall painting that showed a person pouring water in front of a sledge transporting an enormous statue, a team of physicists set out to test the idea that wetting the sand made it easier to move heavy objects. Sure enough, they found that the sliding friction on sand was greatly reduced by the addition of some—but not too much—water.
If this does provide an insight into the pyramid-builders’ secret, it is just another example of the way in which the creative genius of ancient man was applied to complex problems—yet another example of the ancients being at least as clever as people today.
- Sliding friction on wet and dry sand, Phys. Rev. Lett. 112:175502, 29 April 2014.
Creation suppression order
Great Britain’s obsession with stamping out opposition to evolution continues apace with Christian schools now having to remove even the mention of creation in the science classroom—or have their funding cut.
New Government-enforced guidelines “explicitly require that pupils are taught about the theory of evolution, and prevent academy trusts from teaching ‘creationism’ as scientific fact.” Creationism is defined as “any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has challenged Christians to be more evangelical, but this decision bans the basis for any evangelism, namely the truth of the Word of God. Cameron was also responsible for legalizing the anti-biblical same-sex ‘marriage’.
First it was no teaching of creation in science classrooms in government schools, and then it was barred from private schools.
Then it is/will become no teaching of creation in religious education classrooms.
We were about to write, “What next? Creation banned from churches?” when an item appeared proclaiming that in a proposal by Britain’s new Education Secretary, “nurseries that teach creationism will have funding cut.” This was part of a series of proposed measures ostensibly aimed at Muslim extremism and meant to teach ‘British values’.
Ironically, the spiritual vacuum which evolutionary humanism has created in Western countries by displacing biblical truth is precisely what has opened the door to extremism. Even extremist atheist Richard Dawkins once commented wistfully that he had “mixed feelings” about the decline of Christianity that his views have helped bring about. Since Christians do not go around as suicide bombers or blowing up buildings, he wondered whether Christian belief might not have been a “bulwark against something worse”.
Banning biblical truth would have to be an incredibly foolish means of trying to fight extremism.
- Government bans creationism from free school science lessons, christiantoday.com, 19 June 2014.
- Toddlers to be ‘protected from religious fanatics’: New Education Secretary’s cash threat to extremist nurseries, dailymail.co.uk, 8 August 2014.
- Scandal and schism leave Christians praying for a ‘new Reformation’, The Times (UK), 2 April 2010.
Anatomist says ‘Hobbit’ had Down syndrome
The tiny human specimen on the Indonesian island of Flores, labelled Homo floresiensis, has also become nicknamed “the Hobbit”. Many evolutionists, among them strident anticreationist from the Australian National University, Dr Colin Groves, have enthusiastically hailed it as a ‘new species’, with implications for the alleged evolutionary family tree of humans.
The specimen seemed to have some of the characteristics of a dwarfed version of the (undoubtedly human) Homo erectus. However, some evolutionist experts, among them the anatomist Dr Maciej Henneberg of the University of Adelaide, have long maintained that it shows characteristics of being a pathological (diseased) human specimen. The discussion has generally centred on cretinism (caused by a deficiency in iodine, which the soils in the area are notorious for lacking).
Prof. Henneberg now believes that this is only part of the picture. He claims that this ‘hobbit’ almost certainly had the well-known chromosomal birth defect Down syndrome. In addition to intellectual handicap, Down sufferers often have other associated abnormalities, including skeletal deformities, and about 30–40 % also have iodine deficiency.
The debate among evolutionists continues, with Groves still defending the ‘new species’ idea. The weight of evidence, however, seems to be increasingly coming down on the side of some sort of pathology in what Henneberg calls a “member of a recent Australomelanesian H. sapiens population.” In other words, a fully human post-Babel descendant of Adam, affected by some of the consequences of the Fall.
- Did the ‘Hobbit’ have Down syndrome?, abc.net.au, 5 August 2014.
Dinos ‘shrank’ to become birds?
Dino-to-bird evolution is again in the spotlight. Researchers recently used existing fossil data to explore how birds supposedly evolved. From their analysis, they conclude that the closer in form dinosaurs got to birds, the smaller the dinosaurs got.
But from an evolutionary perspective, there is a flaw in their scenario.
Archaeopteryx, a so-called ‘advanced’ form on the dino-to-bird evolutionary tree, is ‘dated’ to around 150 million years old. However, practically all the ‘feathered dinosaurs’ (supposedly more primitive in the alleged dino-to-bird transition) are ‘dated’ anywhere from 20 to 80 million years younger than Archaeopteryx! This is known as the ‘grandfather paradox’, where supposedly more ‘primitive’ fossil forms are in fact dated younger than the more ‘advanced’ forms (the grandfather younger than the children!). This might occur a few times by chance, since fossils form in a relatively random way. But such paradoxes are found in almost all the fossil evidence for dino-to-bird evolution! Even if these fossils were real feathered dinosaurs, they would be irrelevant for dino-to-bird evolution.
- Dinosaurs ‘shrank’ regularly to become birds, bbc.co.uk, 31 July 2014.
Big bang blunder leaves researchers deflated
After announcing with great fanfare at a press conference that the big bang’s ‘smoking gun’ had been found, the scientific community almost immediately had to back-track on such bold claims.
Within days of the announcement, creationist physicist Dr John Hartnett pointed out major problems with what the researchers claimed were ‘gravitational waves generated in the first instants after the big bang’ including that the team’s conclusions depended on unprovable assumptions (see creation.com/big-bang-smoking-gun).
Then, when the paper describing the find was published, Princeton University scientists looked at the data and discovered that the ‘gravitational waves’ were instead “mostly or entirely of foreground effects”. Writing in the scientific journal Nature, Dr Paul Steinhardt, Professor of Physics at Princeton, said, in effect, that the paper’s authors flat out got it wrong. A critic of inflationary big bang cosmology, Dr Steinhardt’s article titled “Big bang blunder bursts the multiverse bubble” had the stinging sub-heading, “Premature hype over gravitational waves highlights gaping holes in models for the origins and evolution of the Universe”.
Perhaps Dr Steinhardt’s most telling observation was: “The sudden reversal [of the previous announcement] should make the scientific community contemplate the implications for the future of cosmology experimentation and theory.”
But how did the investigators react to the criticisms? Prof Clem Pryke, from the University of Minnesota, accepts “some big questions remain outstanding”. On the one hand he stands by his team’s work, but on the other concedes: “Has my confidence gone down? Yes.” (For more, see: creation.com/multiverse-bubble-bursts.)
- Big bang blunder bursts the multiverse bubble, nature.com, 3 June 2014.
- Cosmic inflation: Confidence lowered for big bang signal, bbc.com, 19 June 2014.
Rooster-comb dino rapidly overcome
An Australian paleontologist studying a mummified specimen of Edmontosaurus regalis, a member of the hadrosaurids, or duck-billed dinosaurs, has made a telling observation about how the creature must have been buried rapidly.
Phil Bell from Australia’s University of New England reportedly 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.
“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.
Rapid burial and fossilization is consistent with a catastrophic event such as Noah’s Flood—not with the slow and gradual accumulation of sediments (from which secular science’s millions of years doctrine was initially derived). Survival of unpetrified (mummified) tissue is also more consistent with thousands of years than millions.
- Dinosaur fossil with fleshy rooster’s comb is first of its kind, news.nationalgeographic.com, 12 December 2013.
Fossil fern challenges deep time and evolution
Fossils from the plant group known as royal ferns (Osmundaceae) have long been known to look much the same as today’s—despite being reckoned to be over ‘200 million years old’. Evolutionists would, nonetheless, have expected considerable chromosomal and genetic changes in such vast periods of time. It is common, for instance, for plants to multiply their chromosomal count (polyploidy), which can mean they still look much the same (apart from often being larger).
A report in Science magazine notes that the stem of one of these ‘ancient’ fossil ferns has been found to be amazingly “exquisitely preserved”. (They suggest that this was from rapid mineral deposition in hot brine. This may have been common during the prolonged breaking up of the ‘fountains of the great deep’ during the Flood (Genesis 7:11).)
In fact, it still shows details of “cytoplasm, cytosol granules, nuclei and even chromosomes in various stages of cell division.” The structure of the latter in particular could be matched to chromosomes of the same fern group alive today.
From this, the researchers conclude that both this fossil fern and its living counterparts “likely share the same chromosome count and DNA content…[which suggests] that neither ploidization events nor notable amounts of gene loss have occurred in the royal ferns” in the intervening time period, alleged to be 180 million years (!).
The report calls it “a notable example of evolutionary stasis.” Indeed, as time goes on, stasis (staying the same) seems to be more the rule than the exception for fossils. All of which much more naturally fits a Creation/Flood understanding of the facts.
- Fossilized nuclei and chromosomes reveal 180 million years of genomic stasis in royal ferns, Science 343(6177):1376–1377, 2014.