This article is from
Creation 38(2):7–11, April 2016

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Focus: creation news and views

Appendix a ‘silent hero’, not vestigial organ

appendix

Medical researchers have discovered a network of immune cells that helps the appendix to play a pivotal role in maintaining the health of the digestive system. Reporting the discovery, MedicalXpress dubbed the appendix a “silent hero”, with its usefulness “supporting the theory that the appendix isn’t a vestigial—or redundant—organ”.

The researchers found that lymphoid cells prevent damage and inflammation of the appendix during a bacterial attack, thus safeguarding the appendix’s function as a natural reservoir for ‘good’ bacteria. That helps people to recover from threats to gut health, such as food poisoning.

“Popular belief tells us the appendix is a liability,” said one of the researchers, Professor Gabrielle Belz, explaining that its surgical removal is still a very common medical procedure. “However, we may wish to rethink whether the appendix is so irrelevant for our health.”

The weight of evidence indicating our appendix cannot be a degenerate evolutionary structure continues to mount—see also Page 12 of this issue and creation.com/appendix4.

  • Immune cells make appendix ‘silent hero’ of digestive health, medicalxpress.com, November 2015.
  • Complementarity and redundancy of IL-22-producing innate lymphoid cells, Nat. Immunol., doi: 10.1038/ni.3332, November 2015.

Media goes soft on hadrosaur bone discovery

Hadrosaur

Researchers from the University of Alaska say they have found a new species of hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) in the Liscomb bonebed of the Prince Creek formation in Alaska.

Interestingly, they admit that the bones are unpermineralized, meaning that they are not fossilized, but rather are comparatively fresh bones! Articles in the popular media, however, are failing to report that inconvenient detail, keeping this glaring problem for evolution conveniently under wraps.

Considering that the authors are claiming an age for this bonebed of around 69 million years, how could these bones have survived unfossilized? No one seems to be venturing even to pose the question, let alone providing any satisfactory answers. Even under the most ideal conditions, the laws of chemistry would predict that such ‘fresh’, unfossilized bones would decay and disintegrate over such vast eons of time.

For the full report, see creation.com/fresh-bones.

bulla
  • Mori, H., et al., A new Arctic hadrosaurid from the Prince Creek Formation (lower Maastrichtian) of northern Alaska, Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, available online 22 September 2015 | doi:10.4202/app.00152.2015.

Impressive evidence for King Hezekiah

A 2,700-year-old piece of clay found in a dump near a wall in Jerusalem’s old city provides an amazing connection to King Hezekiah who ruled Israel for almost three decades (see 2 Kings). Known as an oval bulla, it is 13 mm (0.5 in) wide and is inscribed with the biblical king’s seal.

Secular archaeologists have often claimed that there is no evidence for Israel’s history (the kings, etc.) but this discovery only confirms what we already knew from the Bible’s historical record. See: creation.com/archaeology-bible.

  • Impression of biblical king’s seal found in Jerusalem, bbc.com, December 2015.

Utah fossil hoard gives up secrets

Preliminary findings from a cliff-side in Utah chock-full of fossils—11,500 bones and counting—have been released by their discoverers.

The fossils include: several small crocodile-like creatures called spheinosuchians; a reptile called a drepanosaur with a head like a bird’s, arms like a mole’s and a claw on the tip of the tail; two different types of carnivorous dinosaurs; and a newly identified large pterosaur, each side of its jaw having two fangs and 28 teeth.

“This thing is built like an aerial predator,” University of South Florida paleontologist Brian Andres said. The skull and wing bone found are also noteworthy because they are intact, and not crushed, a rarity for pterosaurs.

“It is absurdly rare to find delicate, small skeletons from anywhere in time, anywhere in the world,” said Adam Pritchard, a Yale paleontologist not part of the discovery team. “To have them from the Triassic period, which is the very beginning of the age of reptiles, is really unprecedented, especially in western north America.”

Such bonebeds containing a mixture of animals are no surprise as much of the fossil record formed in the global flood of Noah’s day.

  • McCombs, B., Treasure trove of late Triassic fossils discovered in Utah, bigstory.ap.org, October 2015.

focus-whale

Fossil whale on mountainside

Palaeontologists have discovered a fossilized 7.6 m (25 ft) mysticete (baleen) whale well above sea level in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. They say the well-preserved animal died around four million years ago, and was subsequently uplifted to its present location in the mountains “through the shifting of tectonic plates.”

A well-preserved whale fossil suggests rapid burial in circumstances unseen today, where we see whale carcasses scavenged. After a few years, even the bones are all gone. The evidence suggests a catastrophic, watery event suddenly buried the Santa Cruz whale in sediments. We would expect such events as a result of the global cataclysmic Flood of Noah. Rapid tectonic movement towards the end of the Flood would have raised the continents and lowered the sea floors, allowing the waters to drain off. The Flood was about 4,500 years ago and lasted a year—not thousands or millions.

  • A well-preserved whale fossil has been found on a Californian mountainside, io9.com, September 2015.

Dying universe reveals the Creator

An international team of astronomers recently surveyed more than 200,000 galaxies, measuring their energy output. The results indicate that the universe is slowly dying.

But it has long been known that the universe is winding down. Stars use up their matter as it is converted to energy and the energy is dispersed everywhere. The universe is heading for a ‘heat death’.

The laws of physics tell us that the total mass/energy of the universe is a constant, and the amount of usable energy is decreasing, so if the universe is running down, but has not yet run down, there must have been a beginning. Anything that has a beginning has to have a sufficient cause, so our natural space/time universe must have a Maker separate from the natural universe and outside of time, that is, a supernatural and eternal Creator God!

Science once again confirms the first verse in the Bible,“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

  • Scientists Measure Slow Death of the Universe, icrar.org, August 2015.

Cinema censorship

Censor

Britain’s biggest cinema chains banned an advertisement promoting prayer because they said it would cause offence—much to the bewilderment of the ‘sponsor’, the Church of England. Only 56 seconds long, the advert simply features various people saying the Lord’s Prayer.

“I find it extraordinary that cinemas rule that it is inappropriate for an advert on prayer to be shown in the week before Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. “This advert is about as ‘offensive’ as a carol service on Christmas Day.”

The Church of England found a surprising ally in prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, who deplored the cinema censorship. “If anybody is ‘offended’ by something so trivial as a prayer, they deserve to be offended,” he said.

However, the cinema chains’ decision is in context of both Richard Dawkins and the Church of England having played major roles in the widespread promulgation and embracing of evolutionary teaching—a philosophy that has no room for the Creator God of the Bible (John 1:1–3, Mark 10:6). If ‘God’ is merely an arbitrary construct of some human minds, why shouldn’t other people take offence at being told that “prayer [to that ‘God’] is for everyone”?

  • Lord’s Prayer ad banned from UK cinema chains by Digital Cinema Media for fear of causing offence, abc.net.au, November 2015.

Evolution rules young minds

A Pew Research Center poll (USA) reflects the impact of decades of secular education and legal rulings outlawing dissenting scientific views: more than 70 per cent of young Americans (30 and younger) now embrace molecules-to-man evolution and reject special creation. The poll results are both predictable and tragic at the same time.

Why predictable? Note what one humanist wrote in 1930:

“Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday-schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching? … Not only public school education is an ally of Humanism: science [by which he meant evolution] itself is its mother.”

Now creation is not allowed in science or history or any class because ‘it’s religion’. So atheism is taught by default—evolution is the atheists’ creation myth.

radEarth
  • Gross, R., Evolution Is Finally Winning Out Over Creationism, slate.com, November 2015.
  • Potter, C. F., signatory to the 1930 Humanist Manifesto I, Humanism: A New Religion, Simon and Schuster, New York, pp. 128–129, 1930.

Earth-sized planet bombarded by radiation

The Kepler-438b exoplanet, within a supposedly habitable zone around its star, about 470 light-years from Earth, is not as much like our planet as evolutionary scientists previously claimed.

The problem is that vast quantities of radiation emanating from its host red dwarf star Kepler-438 strip away the atmosphere. The superflares are thought to be 10 times more powerful than those ever recorded on the sun and equivalent to the same energy as 100 billion megatons of TNT.

These revelations afffirm that our world is a special place that was created to be inhabited (See creation.com/earth-design).

  • Radiation blasts leave most Earth-like planet uninhabitable, sciencedaily.com, November 2015.

Melanin clues help reveal fossil colours

By matching samples of organic material to their chemical make-up, researchers have determined the colour of fossilized bats.

Jakob Vinther from the University of Bristol said that the dark, organic residues in fossils that palaeontologists had thought were remnants of decaying bacteria were in fact preserved melanosomes, the special sub-units of a cell that carry the pigment melanin.

Researchers speculated that the melanin had changed its chemical composition while buried in the ground under high pressure and temperature. They then subjected melanin to even higher pressure and temperature, which they claim replicated within 24 hours the conditions experienced over ‘millions of years’. The chemical signature from the ‘cooked’ melanin then looked similar to the fossils.

Vinther said they were able to tell the difference between red and black melanin in both fresh and fossil samples. “This meant we could test the idea that melanosome shape correlated to chemical colour in the skin of the now fossilized animal—and we found that it did.”

The researchers examined two fossilized bat species and, inferred that they originally had a reddish brown coat. “This means they did not look much different from modern bats,” Vinther said.

  • Vinther, J., Fossils reveal extinct mammals’ true colors, blogs.discovermagazine.com, October 2015.

Mammal fossil preserves ‘amazing detail’

dino_fossil

The fossil of a small rat-like mammal, with well-preserved internal organs, has been found in a limestone quarry in Spain. Long-age believing paleontologists say the fossil is 125 million years old. According to their timeline, this pushes back the record of well-preserved mammalian organs, fur, and skin, “by more than 60 million years.”

Evolutionists predicted that mammals living at this time would be ‘primitive’, yet the internal organs in the fossil reveal that the mammal was just the same as mammals living today. This evidence is what we would expect from biblical history, as God created the animals perfect in the very beginning—there was no ‘primitive’ early development. Also, the mammal was rapidly buried in waterborne limestone sediments giving “exceptional preservation”. Together with countless other fossils found all over the world, this evidence is consistent with burial in the global Flood of Noah’s day.

  • Breathtaking fossil of tiny mammal preserves fur and internal organs, sciencemag.org, October 2015.

Use Creation to stem the tide

In context of the millennial generation (ages 18–34) walking away from the church, University of Virginia Associate Religious Studies Professor Matthew Hedstrom was asked “Do you see the move away from organized religion continuing?” He replied:

“It is hard to say for certain, but I do think that many of the things driving this shift—such as consumerism or scientific critiques of traditional religion—are not going away anytime soon.”[Emphasis added.]

If millennials are consuming the not-at-all-scientific diet of evolutionary theory without feeding on any solid scientific creation teaching to counter it, then how can they be expected to “stand firm” (Ephesians 6:14)? Cf. the testimonies of Lara (creation.com/angel-of-the-cape) and Geoff (creation.com/a-life-of-ups-and-downs) who stood firm through ‘teenage rebellion’ and trials, thanks to a solid biblical creation foundation.

  • Newman, C., Why millennials are leaving religion but embracing spirituality, phys.org, December 2015.

coyote

Coywolves: hybrid reveals clues about dog kind

When hunting drastically cut the wolf population in southern Ontario (Canada), and deforestation reduced their territory, they began to interbreed with both domestic dogs (mostly larger breeds) and coyotes.

The result, called the coywolf or the Eastern coyote, is genetically one-tenth dog, one-quarter wolf, with the rest being coyote. The hybrid is twice the size of a coyote, and is able to hunt both on prairies (traditional coyote territory) and in woods (traditional wolf territory).

Perhaps helped by the domesticated dog genetics, it is even thriving in some urban environments by hunting rodents and pets, and by omnivorous scavenging. The urban adaptation is remarkable; the urban coywolves have even learnt to look both ways before crossing roads.

Unsurprisingly, the coywolf is being lauded as an example of rapid evolution. However, it is really a testimony to the created kind, and the inbuilt diversity God placed in the original dog kind (no new genes are being invented by hybridizing two animals).

  • Greater than the sum of its parts, The Economist, economist.com, October 2015.

Memories of low sea level

Aboriginal folk stories of long ago, from 21 diverse locations around Australia’s coastline, have been the subject of a recent study. The researchers discovered that Aboriginal society has preserved memories of sea levels that were significantly lower than today. The stories describe a time when the coastline stretched much farther out, after which the sea gradually moved inland to where it is today.

This seems remarkably consistent with Biblical history. After the Tower of Babel, following the global Flood, people began to disperse across the world, some 4,000 years ago. The ancestors of today’s Aborigines, like many other peoples spreading out from the Middle East, would have travelled across land bridges, and in some places across open water by boat or canoe, when sea levels were lower during the Ice Age. The sea level rose as the ice melted at the close of the Ice Age, flooding the land bridges.

  • Aboriginal ‘memories’ of Australia’s coastline go back more than 7,000 years, sciencedaily.com, September 2015.

Not seeing the forest for the trees

Tree stumps fossilized upright have been found in Svalbard, a cluster of Norwegian islands in the Arctic Ocean.

Researchers said the area was densely packed with trees about 3.5 m (12 ft) tall which had flared trunks and curved branches in an area about 1 km (0.6 mile) wide and 5 km (3 miles) long.

The researchers said the lycopsids “grew in wet soils in a localized, rapidly subsiding, short-lived basin”. It was certainly short-lived—the existence of such polystrate fossils point to rapid burial during the global Flood recorded in the Bible.

  • Weisberger, M., Fossilized Tropical Forest Found—in Arctic Norway, livescience.com, November 2015.
  • Berry, C.M., and Marshall, J.E.A., Lycopsid forests in the early Late Devonian paleoequatorial zone of Svalbard, Geology 43(12):1043–1046, 2015 | doi: 10.1130/G37000.1.

Gorge rapidly carved in hard rock

gorge

Plymouth University researchers recently showed that small to moderate floods can quickly create deep gorges in unweathered granite bedrock, which is extremely hard.

They used archive images and survey data from a dam built in Spain in the 1930s to demonstrate how the diversion of water into an overspill channel eroded a gorge more than 270 m (880 ft) long, 160 m (520 ft) wide and 100 m (330 ft) deep. The gorge was formed from just five small floods over a period of six years. As one of the study authors noted, “If you showed someone images of the gorge, they would probably say the erosion had taken place over a long period with exceptional flooding.”

Millions of years are often invoked to explain eroded landscapes, but the Spanish gorge provides evidence of rapid erosion of very hard rock in just a few years. During the final stages of the global Flood of Noah’s day, when soft, recently-deposited sediments were eroded by high-energy water run-off from the newly-uplifting continents, much less time would have been needed.

  • Unexceptional flooding can cause significant erosion, study shows, plymouth.ac.uk, September 2015.