Focus: creation news and views
Eyeing off centuries-old sharks
In the 1950s, the testing of nuclear bombs created a ‘pulse’ of carbon-14 that we can test in living things. This has allowed scientists to determine that Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) are the world’s longest-lived vertebrates.
Researchers established that the shark has a very slow annual growth rate of about 1 cm (⅓ inch), which translates to a lifespan of around 400 years. Other known long-lived creatures include the chowder clam (500 years), bowhead whale (200) and Galápagos tortoise (170).
Bible skeptics scoff at the idea that humans such as Methuselah (969 years, Genesis 5:27) once lived for centuries and say that would be ‘biologically impossible’. Ignoring death by accident or disease, different living things seem to be genetically programmed to live for different average periods. Such ‘programmed longevity’ in animals can be drastically affected by breeding experiments.
For humans, it may be that the population bottleneck after Noah’s Flood (only eight people survived) contributed to the dramatic decline in post-Flood lifespans. There is also considerable evidence that the relentless accumulation of many mutations in each human generation also played a part, as renowned geneticist Dr John Sanford explains in his book Genetic Entropy.
- Pennisi, E., Greenland shark may live 400 years, smashing longevity record, sciencemag.org, August 2016.
- Nielsen, J., et al., Eye lens radiocarbon reveals centuries of longevity in the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), Science 353(6300):702–704, August 2016 | doi: 10.1126/science.aaf1703.
Piltdown man hoax confirmed—again
Science magazine reported on definitive proof that Charles Dawson—the man who ‘found’ the skull of Piltdown Man in Sussex, England, in 1912—perpetrated the hoax.
Dawson’s ‘find’ of humanlike skull fragments with a jaw and two apelike teeth was first exposed as a hoax in 1953 when it was shown that the skull was from a modern human and that the jawbone and teeth were from an orangutan. The teeth had been filed down to make them look human. The bones and teeth had been chemically treated and painted to make them look ancient.
More recently, a team studying the Piltdown skull applied modern scanning technology, DNA analysis and CT scans and concluded that Dawson was solely responsible for the fraud.
Isabelle De Groote, who was part of the team, said her sleuthing made her conclude, “no evidence should be taken for granted, and scientists must beware their preconceptions”. Her advice: “If something fits a hypothesis maybe too well, question it again,” she said.
- Price, M., Study reveals culprit behind Piltdown Man, one of science’s most famous hoaxes, sciencemag.org/, August 2016.
- Webb, J., Piltdown review points decisive finger at forger Dawson, bbc.com, August 2016.
Chinese flood is not Noah’s Flood
Chinese geologists say a major landslide about 4,000 years ago blocked the Yellow River at Jishi Gorge—about 1,600 km (1,000 miles) from Beijing—eventually causing an enormous flood. Some have incorrectly linked this to Noah’s Flood, but for one thing, it would have occurred several centuries afterwards.
The geologists say an earthquake caused a natural dam about 200 m (650 ft) high behind which a massive body of water built up. Within months, that ‘dam’ collapsed and sent downstream a torrent of water, mud and debris; some of which filled earthquake fissures hundreds of kilometres away.
The event may connect to historical texts which tell of an Emperor Yu who devised a system to control a great flood. A geomorphologist who reviewed the research paper, said it was “too intriguing to ignore” the cultural connection to the scientific evidence of the earthquake and flood events. He said: “A telling aspect of the story—that it took Yu and his followers decades to control the floodwaters—makes sense in light of geological evidence that Wu et al. present.” For more, see Tas Walker’s article creation.com/jishi.
While this event in China happened after Noah’s Flood, there are at least 500 ‘legends’ of a worldwide deluge that do match that biblical catastrophe. These show remarkable similarities with multiple details of Noah’s Flood in the Bible. For more, see creation.com/many-flood-legends.
- Webb, J., Rocks tell story of China’s great flood, bbc.com, August 2016.
- Wu, Q. et al., Outburst flood at 1920 BCE supports historicity of China’s Great Flood and the Xia dynasty, Science 353(6299):579–582, August 2016 | 10.1126/science.aaf0842.
- Hickey, H., Ancient Chinese flood is latest to match oral, geologic histories, phys.org, August 2016.
Dark matter search comes up empty
An online news site reported: “Scientists looking for invisible dark matter can’t find any.” Called the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment, it’s located in a hole 1.6 km (a mile) underground in an old gold mine. It involves a detector that consists of about a third of a ton of cooled liquid xenon in a tank festooned with light sensors, each capable of detecting a single photon. As with previous experiments over the past 40 years, no dark matter particles were detected.
So what are they planning? Build a bigger detector, but this time costing $50 million and 70 times more sensitive. They believe the elusive stuff must exist, despite not a shred of experimental evidence for dark matter’s existence.
The very survival of the big bang paradigm is at stake here; when observational data for the alleged expansion of the universe is compared with standard big bang theory, dark matter is needed as a fudge factor. This is not surprising, as the theory is based on a false foundation: that the universe is the product only of matter, energy and natural law, and that it has evolved to its current state over the past 13.8 billion years.
Though there may still be new particles yet to discover, the idea that dark matter comprises 80% of all the matter in our Galaxy, yet is invisible, sounds less and less like real physics.
- Borenstein, S., Scientists looking for invisible dark matter can’t find any, phys.org, July 2016.
- Hartnett, J.G., Why is dark matter everywhere in the cosmos? March 2015.
Greenland’s canyons frozen in time
Radar technology has revealed a landscape of rivers and canyons about 2,000 m (6,500 ft) below the ice of the fast-moving Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland.
The researchers said it was water, rather than the glacier, that first impacted the landscape—including cutting canyons as big as the Grand Canyon. One remarked:
“The shape of the valleys was V-shaped [as is the Grand Canyon—ed.], rather than U-shaped; the flow network had a dendritic or tree-like structure … ”
The glacier is a remnant of the massive ice sheets that once covered huge areas of the world. This was during the Ice Age brought on by the conditions just after the Flood (see creation.com/iceage). If the valleys found underneath it had been primarily carved by ice, they should have been U-shaped, as are some other landscapes resulting from the Ice Age.
The type of terrain found under the Jakobshavn Glacier is characteristic of that formed when the waters of the global Flood receded off the continents, the ice coming later.
- Ghose, T., Secret World of primeval rivers lies beneath Greenland Glacier, livescience.com, July 2016.
True grit! Diamonds aren’t forever
Tiny diamonds supposedly 4.3 billion years old and found inside zircon crystals from Jack Hills in Western Australia have turned out to be fragments of polishing grit.
The claim that the zircons contained diamonds was published in Nature in 2007 but, since then, researchers at the University of California, Riverside—who examined the specimens under a powerful transmission electron microscope—discovered sharp-cornered synthetic diamonds that had been introduced from a polishing compound.
This is yet another reminder that, because of the Fall, all humans are flawed and prone to making mistakes. No wonder the Bible encourages an attitude of testing claims before we embrace them (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
- Oskin, B., Whoops! Earth’s Oldest ‘Diamonds’ Actually Polishing Grit, livescience.com, December 2013.
Underwater carcasses stripped in days
Researchers studying what happens when bodies decompose under water found that a pig carcass is reduced to a skeleton in just a few days.
The team chose deep, well-oxygenated water and placed two pig carcasses on a platform 300 m (1000 ft) down in the Strait of Georgia, Canada. One was covered in a barred cage and the other left exposed. A video camera followed the progress and various instruments recorded other variables such as temperature and salinity.
The team observed:
- The carcasses being swarmed by small shrimp-like creatures called lyssianassid amphipods.
- Sharks feeding on the exposed carcass, but quickly losing interest after just a few bites.
- Spot shrimp eating all of the cartilage by the 10th day.
Science textbooks once taught, and showed diagrams too, of creatures dying, sinking to the ocean floor or river bottom, slowly decaying as vast periods of time go by, and the skeleton being gradually fossilized. That powerful imagery of a ‘slow and gradual process’ still remains with many people.
So this demonstration of rapid scavenging underscores the folly of that long-age thinking, which contradicts the Bible’s timeline. These decomposition studies reinforce the fact that the Bible’s history of the world is true and trustworthy. And from the account of the global Flood, we can understand how the many wonderfully preserved fossils were formed, such as a mother ichthyosaur in the moment of giving birth to her infant. For more, see: creation.com/fossils.
- Macdonald, C., Watch what happens to a dead body at the bottom of the sea: Video reveals carcass reduced to a skeleton in just four days, dailymail.com, March 2016.
Babies get just what they need right from mother’s mouth
Breastfeeding mothers who clean pacifiers (also known as dummies or binkies) that fall on the floor by popping them in their mouths first before giving it to baby—and also give lots of kisses—are promoting good health, studies show.
Referring to Swedish research, one report noted:
“Picking up a dropped pacifier and sucking it clean may help infants to be better germ fighters. The practice not only protects babies from the nasty microbes on the floor, but passes on good bugs that can lower the risk of allergies … .”
A website promoting health tips said:
“When you kiss your newborn, you take in the pathogens that might be thriving on your baby’s skin. The pathogens reach your secondary lymphoid organs such as tonsils where memory B cells which are specific for those pathogens are re-stimulated. A breastfeeding mother would use those B cells to produce antibodies against those pathogens which are then passed on to the baby to fight the pathogens on its body. Indeed, kissing is quite a sweet way to boost your baby’s immune system.”
Our incredibly well designed immune system, which reflects the love of God even in a fallen world, is extremely difficult for evolutionists to explain.
- Rochman, B., Mom’s saliva can strengthen babies’ immune systems, healthland.time.com, May 2013.Three Ways Your Baby Benefits When Kissed, ngalive.com, March 2016.
Polar sea creatures ‘wiped out’ along with dinosaurs
Researchers from the University of Leeds and the British Antarctic Survey recently finished a study of about 6,000 marine fossils from the Antarctic from the Upper Cretaceous Period, that is, the alleged dinosaur extinction time. They conclude that there was a dramatic 70% reduction in the number of Antarctic species at the same time.
The research is seen as important in evolutionary terms because it is the first study to suggest that a mass extinction event just as rapid and severe as elsewhere took place in the polar regions.
Lead author, Ph.D. student James Witts noted: “Our research essentially shows that one day everything was fine—the Antarctic had a thriving and diverse marine community—and the next, it wasn’t. Clearly, a very sudden and catastrophic event had occurred on Earth.”
In line with evolutionary thought, the after-effects of a huge asteroid impact in Mexico (the one that allegedly ‘killed the dinosaurs’) were invoked as the cause, despite the fact that the poles were long thought to be too far away to be affected. Indeed, there are fatal problems with the whole impact-extinction concept. (For more, see: creation.com/dino-asteroid)
The secularists interpret the fossils as slow-and-gradual evolution over hundreds of millions of years. And they are surprised when they continually encounter evidence for “sudden and catastrophic events” and mass extinctions from one day to the next.
That is because the fossils do not represent a tape-recording of vast ages. Rather, they represent the order of burial in the Genesis Flood determined by ecological and other factors. The evidence, viewed without the constraints of long-age ‘glasses’, is straightforward:
- Huge numbers of species found as fossils are now extinct.
- Massive extinction is not confined to fossils living in certain types of geographical areas, e.g. polar or non-polar.
Such non-discriminatory, worldwide mass extinction of species is what we would expect given the global catastrophe in Genesis; Noah’s Flood.
- Antarctic fossils reveal creatures weren’t safer in the south, leeds.ac.uk, May 2016.
There’s a vegetarian bear in there
By examining the amino acids in the collagen of bear bones found in Belgium, researchers say the extinct animals were entirely herbivorous.
The team investigating Ursus spelaeus—or cave bear—said they were the extinct ancestors of European brown bears.
One of the team observed:
“As a large bear approaching grizzly bear size and bigger, it’s a little surprising that they’re coming out entirely herbivorous.”
All animals were once vegetarian (Genesis 1:30; also see creation.com/carnivory), and we should not be surprised when traditionally carnivorous animals turn out to be able to survive on, or even prefer, a vegetarian diet. We’ve often featured living examples of animals such as lions, cats, and dogs that prefer a meatless diet (For example, see creation.com/spag).
- Furgala, G., Study finds that massive, prehistoric bears may have gone extinct because they were vegan, nationalpost.com, August 2016.
Are we just a computer simulation? Just living in ‘the Matrix’? Recently, ‘high-profile’ physicists and philosophers gathered to debate “whether we are real or virtual”. But if we’re not real, how did anyone gather, much less discuss whether or not we are real? Or maybe we’re just simulating being real … . The universe, for some of these researchers, looks just too mathematical to be real. But why can’t that be a sign of a universe designed on a mathematical plan? That suggests God, not some unknown alien computer operator in a completely unknown and unknowable ‘actual reality’ is behind it all!
- Moskowitz, C., Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? scientificamerican.com, April 2016.
A shark attack is terrifying, and stimulates questions by both Bible-believers and skeptics. Why would a loving God have created a creature with ‘knives’ for teeth?
The history in Genesis is integral for Christians in giving a good answer. In the initial very good creation all creatures ate plants (Genesis 1:29–31). Death and bloodshed only came into the world after the Fall. Interestingly, a Discovery Channel ‘Shark Week’ video shows a Great White Shark choosing kelp over tuna and squid bait! Eating kelp requires sharp teeth. Even in a broken world we find remnants of God’s ‘good’ creation.
- See creation.com/bad-things-in-creation for more information.
- Kelp With Dinner, discovery.com.