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1. BBC NEWS: “Chimpanzees ‘hunt using spears’”
Last week, it was the discovery of ancient stone tools, thought to have been used by chimpanzees, that headlined science news. This week, the focus is on modern wooden tools used by chimpanzees in Senegal. Researchers watched as numerous chimpanzees fashioned spears out of tree branches, then used the makeshift spears to hunt for bushbabies, a small primate the chimpanzees occasionally eat. Some chimpanzees even sharpened the spear tips with their teeth.
As one might expect, this interesting case of tool use by apes is conjectured as a point of investigation for evolutionary theory; the scientists claim vaguely that “the finding could have implications for human evolution.” Yet this is not the first instance of tool use by apes or other animals (see our oft-cited November 4, 2006, News to Note, item #3). This discovery merely confirms that chimps are intelligent creatures, created with enough intelligence to make and use simple tools and learn from one another, as do many other intelligent animals; this is a far cry from being made in the image of God, as Genesis describes humans, and in no way validates evolutionary ideas.
A new discovery highlighting bird intelligence, reported in Nature this week, further upsets evolutionary implications that elevate the intelligence of chimps and other primates (see item #1, for instance). Wild scrub-jays in a University of Cambridge lab have shown, for the first time, that birds have some idea of the future and can plan ahead accordingly. The [email protected] article explains:
The birds were put in cages that were divided into three parts. In the evening they were kept in the middle section, and fed powdered pine nuts that they couldn't store. In the morning, they were kept either in the ‘breakfast room’, where they were given food, or went hungry in the ‘no-breakfast room’.
After getting used to this set-up, the jays were given whole pine nuts in the evening, which they could bury in trays of sand. The jays put three times as many in the no-breakfast room than in the breakfast room, so that they wouldn't go hungry in the morning.
In another experiment, the jays got breakfast in both rooms. However, their breakfast comprised whole peanuts in one room, and dried dog food in the other. When given both foods in the evening, the birds stored each food in the room where it would be lacking the next morning.
The research, conducted by Nicola Clayton and colleagues at Cambridge, marks the first time any species other than humans has been observed to behave in such a way to indicate their awareness of time and, specifically, of the future. Research by Clayton in 2001 showed that jays that steal from peers hide their own food more carefully.
Every time an evolutionist attempts to isolate humans and apes as exclusive “intelligent animals” (and therefore imply ape intelligence confirms evolution), remember the uncanny intelligence of birds-and perhaps remind the evolutionist, too!
3. ScienceNOW: “It’s a Bot-Eat-Bot World”
Robots at the University of Lausanne are the latest evidences mobilized in support of evolution. The small robots, creations of a team headed by insect expert Laurent Keller, are designed to “[condense] thousands of years of evolution into a weeklong battle” of robot natural selection.
The robots, each of which is equipped with wheels, a camera, a ground sensor, and a computer program designed to take the place of biological DNA, attempt to find “food” by using their internal program for guidance; they similarly attempt to avoid “poison.” Each generation, which lasts some two minutes, results in the successful robots (those who found food and avoided poison) being “mated” with one another through reprogramming.
One feature some of the robots started with was a blue light they could turn on and off. Although the article gives little detail, we read that:
During the course of 500 generations, or about a week, the robots evolved to use their blue lights to communicate. Some groups flashed them to tell others where the food was; other groups used them to warn of the presence of poison. As the tactic worked and the genomes of successful communicators survived, the robots became more and more efficient at foraging.
Evolutionists, such as biologist Lee Dugatkin of the University of Louisville, are “stunned” with the experiment’s “potential … to address all sorts of questions that haven’t been answered yet” regarding the evolution of communication. However, one key element is missing from these scientists’ would-be comparison between the robots and the alleged origin of communication: in the experiment, the mechanisms of robot operation were already programmed in by the scientists (and the robots completely assembled); all the scientists did to emulate natural selection was to merely integrate successful programs with one another. Thus, this experiment represents natural selection in that no new information was created. This does not support the idea that chance mutations could have built up such capability from scratch, as would be required with molecules-to-man evolution.
4. PhysOrg.com: “Universe offers ‘eternal feast,’ cosmologist says”
If you didn’t already think the big bang was bunk, then think again: according to a new hypothesis by Stanford physics professor Andrei Linde, the universe may have “emerge[d] from less than a milligram of matter, or perhaps even from literally nothing,” reports PhysOrg.com. This is just the latest refinement in inflationary theory, a sort of “partner speculation” with the big bang. Linde’s idea credits the creation of the universe to “quantum fluctuations” in space-time.
In commenting on his new idea, Linde added, bluntly, “If galaxies are the result of quantum fluctuations,” said Linde with a shrug, “imagine what we are.” This gives us a clear window into his worldview, and forces one to ask: how is it that compromising Christians continue to mate the clear account of creation in Genesis with a big bang story that increasingly includes elements of chance (a.k.a. “quantum fluctuation,” in this case)?
5. LiveScience: “Fish Sensory Organ Duplicated for Submarines”
In the latest story of scientists adapting design in nature for use in human technology, a team of engineers has adapted piscine “lateral lines” that may one day be used on submarines. A lateral line is a sense organ on the exterior of fish that aids hunting, swimming, and self-defense.
“Our goal is to develop an artificial device that mimics the functions and capabilities of the biological system,” explained Chang Liu, electrical and computer engineering professor in the University of Illinois system. “By detecting changes in water pressure and movement, the device can supplement sonar and vision systems in submarines and underwater robots.”
LiveScience reports Liu’s explanation that an artificial lateral line could be used to “detect and track moving underwater targets and avoid collisions with moving or stationary objects.” Liu also added, insightfully, that “biology remains far superior to human engineering.”
Of course, projects like this are just another testament to the incredible designs of an incredible Designer.
6. PhysOrg.com: “Absence of Water in Distant Planet's Atmosphere Surprises Astronomers”
In a major surprise to those looking for earth-like planets beyond our solar system, the first extrasolar planet examined-HD 189733b, for those keeping score-shows no signs of “common molecules like water, methane, or carbon dioxide,” announced Carl Grillmair and David Charbonneau of the Spitzer Science Center and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, respectively.
Astronomers can ascertain the molecules present on distant stellar bodies by analyzing the spectrum of light given (or reflected) by the body. Yet in this case, “The most fundamental thing we predicted [would exist] was wrong,” according to Grillmair.
The prospect of earth-like planets in the far-flung star systems of the galaxy excites those who believe life came about by chance, because any earth-like planets, they theorize, should cause the evolution of life. Conversely, indications that the earth is unique in its life-sustaining capacity shout against this evolutionary speculation. This article, from PhysOrg.com, does not hide its view on the issue, claiming that “planet formation works the same way everywhere.” This is in stark contrast to the Bible, which explains God’s three days of focus on creating and populating the earth (Days 3, 5 and 6) compared to only one day focused on planetary bodies (Day 4).
That said, nothing in the Bible precludes the possibility that there are earth-like planets out there; if it turns out that extrasolar planets are discovered that contain oxygen, water, carbon dioxide, etc., this will in no way contradict God’s Word or support the idea of evolution.
For more reading on the interesting topic of extraterrestrial life, see our Alien Life / UFO Q&A section.
Head for the hills! American belief in pseudoscience is on the rise! A recent study by Jon D. Miller of Michigan State University reveals interesting developments in the U.S. populace’s familiarity with science and beliefs about alleged “pseudoscience.”
While Miller discovered an increase in scientific literacy over the past two decades, his research has caused concern due to its indication that “people are giving increasing credence to pseudoscience such as the visits of space aliens, lucky numbers and horoscopes.” Lumped in with that trio is creation-”ism”:
In addition, these researchers noted an increase in college students who report they are "unsure'' about creationism as compared with evolution.
Naturally, the article lumps creation beliefs along with beliefs in “visits of space aliens, lucky numbers and horoscopes,” presumably trying to indicate all these beliefs are equally pseudoscientific; however, are the survey-takers who believe in creation the same as those who believe in visits by space aliens, lucky numbers and horoscopes? We doubt it (and hope not!)-especially when considering the results of a similar survey, conducted at an unnamed U.S. university by Raymond Eve Eve, who is typically found working at the University of Texas. (These results were also reported in the linked AP article.)
The share that believed aliens had visited Earth fell from 25 percent in 1983 to 15 percent in 2006. There was also a decline in belief in "Bigfoot'' and in whether psychics can predict the future.
But there also has been a drop in the number of people who believe evolution correctly explains the development of life on Earth and an increase in those who believe mankind was created about 10,000 years ago.
Very interesting, indeed! Of course, the AP story makes this sound like a contradiction (belief in alien visits and Bigfoot declines while creation belief on the increase-what!?). But, in reality, it’s perfectly consistent: as students’ knowledge of science rises, their willingness to believe pseudoscience drops, whether the pseudoscience is alien visits, Bigfoot, psychics, or-you guessed it-evolution.
8. Fort Wayne (Indiana) News-Sentinel: “ Christians should not embrace unbelievers’ ideas on evolution”
We wanted to include a link to this excellent guest column in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel that contests a previous guest column attacking creationism. The well-written rebuttal, by Fort Wayne resident Douglas Wellman, is a good reminder that any creationist has the opportunity to stand up to evolutionary indoctrination, including in the op-ed or reader letters section of a local newspaper. If you spot a pro-evolution slant in an article or read a letter or column by an evolutionist, make your voice heard in response. We’ve published some simple guidelines to help you get started-see the sidebar in “As long as they spell our name right ….“
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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