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1. Der Spiegel: “Simulating Evolution in a Computer Game“
A computer game based on simulating evolution? Now we’ve heard it all! An article from Germany’s Der Spiegel reviews this latest evolutionism-based form of entertainment, called Spore, and authored by the “inventor” (as the article describes him) of such well-known games as SimCity and The Sims. The article describes the game’s premise:
Life on earth will begin again later this year, at the dawn of time. Nothing will exist except an empty planet in an empty universe, facing a godlike player sitting at his PC. A tiny single-cell organism will appear, swimming along through the water, ravenous enemies in hot pursuit.
From there, the game-called “an advanced simulation ... that mixes computerized randomness with the laws of biology”-allows the single-celled organism to “evolve” all the way to the status of space-faring civilization, replete (potentially) with planet-conquering spaceships.
Of course, this game is merely an emblem of the increasingly evolutionism-dominated culture we live in, as evolutionary themes work their way outside of science textbooks and into our televisions and computers. No doubt many evolutionists hope the game will help soften young minds to evolutionary concepts. (For more on this topic, see Remote Control.)
Another worry are the misleading descriptions of the game floating around. For instance, the Spiegel article, given only a cursory read, might lead one to believe that the game actually simulates completely random mutations in some representation of the genetic code-similar to computer programs that supposedly “prove” evolution (see Weasel words). Of course, the truth is that the “evolution” of organisms in Spore is guided by the player, who will modify organisms’ appendages, etc., by using a simple interface to change existing organisms. As the Spiegel article explains, “A player can determine which life forms emerge from his single-cell organism ... he can straighten the spines of new generations, shape mouths and allow his creations to grow limbs and multiple heads.” It’s only after this user-guided “evolution” that the computer figures out how fit an organism is-and, therefore, determines whether a population survives. An in-game screenshot from Wikimedia clearly shows that the evolutionary process in Spore is far more similar to biblical creation-with the “creator” choosing from various types of eyes, noses, appendages, etc.-than molecules-to-man Darwinian evolution.
2. National Geographic News: “Saturn Moon Has Lakes, ‘Water’ Cycle Like Earth’s, Scientists Say“
The title of this article makes it clear that scientists are eager to point out how earth-like other places in our solar system are. “Saturn's giant moon has lakes and a ‘water’ cycle remarkably similar to Earth’s,” the story begins. The mood remains throughout the article, which is sprinkled with terms and phrases like “patches resembling lakes,” “riverlike drainage channels,” and “inlet streams.” The article eagerly explains, “Like other Titan researchers, [scientists researching Titan are] amazed by how many similarities Titan has to Earth.”
Of course, the article notes that these “hydrological” features are actually filled with superchilled liquid methane, not water. So why are researchers so enthusiastic about Titan, despite the dramatic difference between [relatively] warm water and chilled methane (-290°F / -179°C)? It’s no surprise:
Liquids are believed to be necessary for life. ... “By studying Titan, we may better understand the evolution of any planet, including Earth,” [one scientist] said.
Once again, the presupposition of evolution clouds what would be good science otherwise.
3. Baltimore Sun: “In Russia, a test of God vs. Darwin“
The Russian lawsuit challenging public school teaching of evolution is in full swing, but there seems to be no end to distractions pulling the public’s attention from the actual issue. Rather than focusing on the Russian public school textbook that (according to the lawsuit) refers to biblical teachings as “legend” and calls belief in creation “stupidity,” the behavior of the student leading the lawsuit, plus free bananas given at a press conference, and an actor dressed in a monkey suit (also at the press conference) are stealing the show. One side articulately argues that “[s]ecular education should not be based on offending the feelings of religious believers”; the other side responds that “[t]aking offense to Darwinism, in his view, is like taking offense to the theories of Einstein or Copernicus.” But amid this routine debate are allegations that the lawsuit is simply a public relations act. Furthermore, the student at the center of the lawsuit reportedly does not attend church and “expects up to six failing grades at the end of the term.” Sadly, it sounds that this lawsuit against evolutionary indoctrination may be turning out to be little more than a circus-bananas and man-in-monkey-suit included.
4. LiveScience: “Ancient Insects Used Advanced Camouflage“
In quiet news during the final week of 2006, researchers writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported on yet another living fossil: that of a leaf-imitating insect that supposedly lived some 47 million years ago, yet that “bears a striking resemblance to the mimickers of today.” Of course, the article merely explains the similarity as a sign that “leaf imitation is an ancient and successful evolutionary strategy that has been conserved over a relatively long period of time.”
But, interestingly enough, we learn that the fossil “also shared features with modern insect relatives in size, shape, and the designs used for camouflage.” In fact, one feels compelled to ask the researchers: what is different (if anything) about this “ancient” insect? The article, borrowing from the PNAS report, seems to provide the answer: “The cryptic appearance has changed little.” Perhaps, instead, it’s merely the same type of insect, created fully formed during Creation Week and remaining mostly the same in the millennia since!
It's hard to decide how to respond to an article like this, by a wife who, after marrying a creationist, has “reformed” her past stereotype of what creationists are like. On one hand, it’s frightfully awakening for this evolutionist to share some of her past opinions of creationists-as people who “condemn ... [evolutionists] as nonbelievers and scorn ... them with hateful words.” And, unsurprisingly, she added that she thought creationists “were people who believed in the Bible more than in scientific data, probably out of stupidity.” (As if we’re just now figuring out this whole internet thing ... but seriously, view our scientists list to read about a few of the intelligent, PhD-holding creationists out there.)
On the other hand, it’s worrisome to read about the author’s husband (a creationist), who neither attends church nor shows any attempt to disabuse his wife of her misapprehensions of the scientific merit of evolutionary theory. In fact, articles like this, although (hopefully) helping correct mistaken stereotypes, leave the bulk of the debate out of the picture. The creation/evolution controversy is merely a battle between salient points of opposing worldviews. The root presuppositions involved in the debate are almost always overlooked, it seems-especially in the popular press.
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!
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