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Creation 38(1):7–11, January 2015

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©iStockphoto.com/Dincer Deda seahorse

Focus: creation news and views

Seahorse males have the babies

The male seahorse is renowned for nurturing seahorse babies in a pouch. Researchers have now found that the processes involved parallel human female reproduction, with the pouch acting like a womb in providing nutrients, gas exchange, protection from diseases, and removal of wastes. According to a University of Sydney press release, “male seahorses’ gene expression during pregnancy was similar to that of humans.” Also: “our research suggests that even distantly related animals use similar genes to manage pregnancy and produce healthy offspring.” The researchers paid homage to evolution: “We have evolved independently to meet these challenges, but our research suggests that even distantly related animals use similar genes to manage pregnancy and produce healthy offspring.”

Indeed, they acknowledge that, “Viviparity (live birth) has evolved more than 150 times in vertebrates” (from their paper in Molecular Biology and Evolution; doi: 10.1093/molbev/msv177). Here is yet another example of extreme ‘homoplasy’, a term that refers to similarities that cannot be explained by common ancestry (evolution). The widespread pattern of such similarities speaks against evolution, but is consistent with creation by a super-intelligent Creator, as the Bible reveals.

  • Prasad, J., Male seahorse and human pregnancies remarkably alike, University of Sydney news release, goo.gl/NXJdE7, September 2015.

Alien baptisms?

©iStockphoto.com/goktugg alien

A Jesuit, representing the Vatican, commenting on the ‘Earth 2.0’ discovery said: “It is probable there was life and perhaps a form of intelligent life.” A colleague went a step further by saying he would be happy to baptize an alien.

“Any entity—no matter how many tentacles it has—has a soul,” he said.

The Bible is clear that it is the descendants of Adam who need salvation (1 Corinthians 15:21–22). Therefore, this does not work because the aliens could not be descendants of Adam.

It would also not make sense that Adam’s sin on earth could affect aliens ‘out there’. The Bible is clear that God created life on earth, and directly implies the lack of sentient life or soul-life elsewhere (see creation.com/life-on-earth-2). And life certainly did not evolve anywhere (see creation.com/origin-of-life).

  • Dunn, M., The Vatican believes fi nding alien life would have no impact on the teachings of the Bible, news.com.au, August 2015.

Comets aren’t watery enough!

For many years, naturalist scientists said that comets were ‘dirty iceballs’ that provided Earth’s water over billions of years of accumulated impacts. This includes not just the water in the world’s oceans but also the vast amounts of water held within its rocks.

However, careful observation has fi nally revealed that comets are actually composed mainly of rock and dust, with only a small amount of water ice. This means that comets have far less water than has been assumed by secular science—throwing an already unlikely explanation completely into the realms of impossibility. The naturalistic explanations for the source of earth’s water have all but dried up, yet the idea that comets provided the earth’s water remains popular.

  • A European space probe has just arrived at its destination, economist.com, August 2014.

DNA reveals how migrations shaped Europe

©iStockphoto.com/sergeyussr Europe-map

After investigating the DNA of ancient individuals, a University of Copenhagen study has concluded that massive population migrations shaped modern Eurasian people groups who are, genetically speaking, not more than a couple of thousand years old.

The lead author, Assistant Professor Morten Allentoft, said the study of skeletons excavated across large areas of Europe and Central Asia confirmed that migrations had brought on the economic and social changes that happened at the beginning of the third millennium BC.

The migrations resulted in huge changes to the European gene-pool, so that—genetically speaking—ancient Europeans from the time after these migrations are much more similar to modern Europeans. It also accounts for the origin of northern European language families.

While the study discusses scenarios for the migration, including the possibility that “re-writing of the genetic map began in the early Bronze Age, about 5,000 years ago”, biblical creationists immediately think of the Tower of Babel and the dispersal of people groups as in Genesis 11:7–8: “Come, let us go down and confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.”

  • The ‘discovery’ seems to be a matter of ‘modern’ science catching up with the Bible. When modern Eurasia was born, sciencedaily.com, June 2015.
  • Allentoft, M.E. et al., Population genomics of Bronze Age Eurasia, Nature 522(7555):167, 2015 | doi:10.1038/nature14507.

Making sense of a sense of direction

iStockphoto.com/songqiuju worm

A tiny antenna-like structure in a worm’s brain may hold the key to how animals use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate.

Researchers from the University of Texas made the chance discovery while using soil worms for Alzheimer’s research. When looking for food, worms from different parts of the world moved “down” based on the corresponding magnetic field in their place of origin; but that changed when the magnetic field in their enclosure was surrounded by a magnetic coil system.

The researchers also discovered that genetically engineered worms—in which what is known as an AFD sensory neuron had been switched off—did not react to magnetic field changes. Worms use the neuron to sense carbon dioxide levels and temperature.

The team used an imaging technique on “normal” worms to show that changes in the magnetic field caused the AFD neuron to light up and concluded the neuron may be the key to not only the worm’s ability to navigate but also other creatures’.

The navigational feats of various creatures have long been observed and point to perfect design by the perfect Designer rather than the blind chance of directionless evolution.

  • MacDonald, F., We may have fi nally found the structure that lets animals detect Earth’s magnetic field, sciencealert.com, June 2015.

Sharks thrive in underwater volcano

©iStockphoto.com/ManuelTeles shark

Oceanographers recently filmed hammerhead and other sharks swimming inside an undersea volcano off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The scientists were astonished to find large numbers of animals such as sharks and stingrays living comfortably in waters too hot and acidic for people to swim in. The volcano occasionally erupts, spewing hot ash and lava into the surrounding ocean.

Water in the caldera—a basin-like ‘cauldron’ from a collapsed volcano—can reach high temperatures. A video from the expedition shows sharks and stingrays swimming in murky water inside the sunken caldera, indicating that marine animals can survive in warm, polluted, acidic waters, during volcanic activity. This illustrates how marine life could have survived in areas of the ocean affected by volcanic activity during the year-long global Flood.

  • Oceanographer finds hammerhead sharks living inside the scalding hot waters of the Kavachi volcano, news.com.au, July 2015.

Is this evidence for Mormonism?

The Mormon church made headlines recently with the publication of a small rock which they call a “seer stone”. They believe that Joseph Smith translated a set of golden tablets from ancient Egyptian to English using it. Previously hidden in a vault, the Mormon church has released photos in the interest of ‘transparency’.

This seer stone is one of the most ancient artifacts of the Mormon religion—and its history of use is less than 200 years. This highlights the difference between Christianity, with a rich, 2,000-year history with artifacts going back nearly that far, and the much-newer religion.

Novelty in and of itself does not mean that something is inferior—a second-century Jew might have used an argument from novelty against Christianity. But when we examine the foundational documents of Mormonism, they are filled with historical and geographical errors. There is absolutely no evidence for the people, places, and events of the majority of the Book of Mormon. This is in contrast to the New Testament, which accurately reflects the geographical, political, and social realities of the first century world.

  • Revealed: the stone that ‘translated’ the Book of Mormon, Associated Press, August 2015.

©iStockphoto.com/croreja lizard

Lizards identical after ‘20 million years’

Fossil lizards perfectly preserved in amber from the Caribbean are said to be 20 million years old but show absolutely no difference from their modern-day counterparts, even down to the finest details such as their tiny scales. Secular scientists are surprised to learn that so many millions of years of supposed history have resulted in no discernible evolution. Also, it means that no significant change in the lizard’s ecological environment has occurred in all that (alleged) time.

However, Bible history makes perfect sense of these discoveries. The lizards preserved in amber are really only a few thousand years old, and were trapped in tree resin (sap) during the immense upheavals that occurred during the global Flood. Resin from untold numbers of uprooted and damaged trees trapped many small animals. The resin subsequently became amber after being buried by sediments.

  • Ancient lizards in amber amaze scientists, abc.net.au, 28 July 2015.
  • Amber fossils demonstrate deep-time stability of Caribbean lizard communities, PNAS 112(32):9961–9966, 2015.

Evolutionists pour money, teaching into seminaries

The American Association for the Advancement of Science—publisher of Science magazine—is providing financial support for pilot programs that will integrate science into core theological curricula at 10 US seminaries.

As part of the grants scheme, which also has the backing of the John Templeton Foundation, AAAS will offer “science-education videos” and will “recruit scientist-advisers from nearby science research institutions”.

The AAAS says the aim is to help future pastors talk science with parishioners. But given its track record of hostility to creation, and the stated theistic evolutionary syncretistic aims of the Templeton Foundation (creation.com/templeton), the videos and advice will certainly be evolution-focused and will hardly be sympathetic to the idea that the God of the Bible created life as per the history given in Genesis.

Despite claims of wanting the ‘separation’ of religion and science, when it comes to the evolutionary belief system, it is obvious that this is one religious viewpoint intolerant of any opposition. Such efforts, especially with the attached ‘carrot’ of funding, are unfortunately likely to accelerate the abandonment by Christian institutions of the plain teaching of Genesis, so crucial to the logic of the Gospel.

  • AAAS Awards 10 ‘Science for Seminaries’ Grants, aaas.org, October 2014.

Mega-tsunami with 800 ft wave

A team of researchers say that when the slopes of a volcano gave way off West Africa thousands of years ago, the sudden collapse caused a tsunami that created a wave up to 240 m (800 ft) high.

The team estimated that 167 km3 (40 cubic miles3) of rock fell into the ocean which caused a wave that engulfed an island about 50 km (30 miles) away and deposited huge boulders weighing up to 770 tonnes (850 tons).

One researcher said such ‘mega-tsunamis’ happened about every 10,000 years. Of course, the Bible tells us of the one-off, global, catastrophic Noah’s Flood about 4,500 years ago which more likely caused the event that the researchers examined.

  • Volcano’s collapse caused mega-tsunami 240 metres high—study, theguardian.com, October 2015.

Guppy evolution? Really?

Stockphoto.com/JohannesK guppies

University of California biologist David Reznick claims his team has observed “evolution as it happens”. The researchers studied how variations in male guppies, such as their colour pattern, were affecting their ability to survive/reproduce.

This is the classic definition of natural selection. But it can easily be shown (search creation.com) that this logical, observable process is not evolution; for one thing, it eliminates genetic information. The professor should thus not imply that what they are seeing happen is something that transformed fish into fishermen.

  • Evolution shown in real time, sciencedaily.com, September 2015.

Seabed fossils tell of sardine surprise

At some point in the past a stemmed beaked whale was quickly fossilized—along with its meal of sardines—in seabed rocks off Peru.

A team of researchers was surprised to find that the whale’s prey was surface fish and not those from great depths for which ‘modern’ such whales forage. For example, Cuvier’s beaked whales are known to dive as deep as 2,900 m (9500 ft) for their prey.

One report said: “The fossils were all in remarkably good shape—the team could make out scales on the fish, which is why they believe that they had not had much time to be digested before the whale that ate them died.”

  • Lambert, O. et al., No deep diving: evidence of predation on epipelagic fish for a stem beaked whale from the Late Miocene of Peru, Proc. R. Soc B 282(1815):1530, September 2015 | doi: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1530.
  • Fossil find shows ancient beaked whale hunted fish in shallow waters, phys.org/news, September 2015.

Goliath’s city gate found

Archaeologists have unearthed the gate and fortified wall of Gath, an ancient Philistine city in Israel. This was the home of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:24). Later, David fled to Gath to escape Saul, and, feigning madness, made marks on the gates of the city (1 Samuel 21:12–13).

Other recent discoveries at the site include the earliest decipherable Philistine inscriptions, containing two names similar to the original form of the name Goliath, plus clear evidence of an earthquake—an event mentioned in Amos 1:1. Ongoing archaeological discoveries continue to support biblical history.

  • Archaeologists uncover entrance gate and fortification of biblical city, phys.org/news, August 2015.

Nature exposes scientists as just-so storytellers

©iStockphoto.com/IPGGutenbergUKLtd scientist

The influential magazine Nature has acknowledged what biblical creationists have been saying for decades—that scientists make mistakes and resort to just-so storytelling.

A lengthy article discussed how glaring errors in data analysis were being exposed and cited a large project that attempted to replicate 100 psychology studies but managed to reproduce only slightly more than one-third. In another assessment, only two out of 18 gene-expression studies could be confirmed.

One statistician said it was impossible to “document how often researchers fool themselves in data analysis” and that “findings of irreproducibility beg for an explanation”.

Nature made the frank admission: “As data-analysis results are being compiled and interpreted, researchers often fall prey to just-so storytelling. The problem is that post-hoc stories can be concocted to justify anything and everything—and so end up truly explaining nothing.”

However, Nature showed blatant storytelling in the article:

“Our brains evolved long ago on the African savannah, where jumping to plausible conclusions about the location of ripe fruit or the presence of a predator was a matter of survival.”
  • Nuzzo, R., How scientists fool themselves—and how they can stop, Nature 526(7572):182–185, October 2015 | doi:10.1038/526182a.