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1. AP: “Museum IDs New Species of Dinosaur”
Question: what caused Utah paleontologist Jim Kirkland to claim, this week, “Lo and behold, evolutionary theory actually works”? Answer: a new species of dinosaur that had horns longer than some dinosaurs, but shorter than other dinosaurs.
Not quite as sensational as you were expecting? It wouldn’t be the first evolutionary “evidence” foisted on unsuspecting readers. Still, this one may be a leading candidate for most underwhelming. Let’s read the findings reported by the Associated Press:
A new dinosaur species was a plant-eater with yard-long horns over its eyebrows, suggesting an evolutionary middle step between older dinosaurs with even larger horns and the small-horned creatures that followed, experts said.
No, not much there …. That’s like saying people with normal-length arms are evolutionary middle steps between long-armed people and short-armed people.
The dinosaur’s horns, thick as a human arm, are like those of triceratops which came 10 million years later. However, this animal belonged to a subfamily that usually had bony nubbins a few inches long above their eyes.
Next we read some information about where and when the fossil was found, and then comes a big, exciting, information-less quote:
“Unquestionably, it’s an important find,” said Peter Dodson, a University of Pennsylvania paleontologist. “It was sort of the grandfather or great-uncle of the really diverse horned dinosaurs that came after it.”
And now from the AP, here’s a little information about whom the species was named after; then come size and age estimates (20 ft/6.01 m long and 78 million years old); finally, the name and age of the “oldest known horned dinosaur.”
That makes the newly found creature an intermediate between older forms with large horns and later small-horned relatives, said State of Utah paleontologist Jim Kirkland, who with Douglas Wolfe identified Zuniceratops in New Mexico in 1998. He predicted then that something like Ryan’s find would turn up.
That brings us back to Kirkland’s quote, “Lo and behold, evolutionary theory actually works.” Here’s the problem: there’s a big difference between saying, on one hand (pun intended), “This guy ten generations ago had long arms, and this guy five generations ago had short arms, so I predict a guy with normal length arms somewhere in the intervening generations,” and saying, on the other hand, “All three of these guys are the chance accumulations of genetic mistakes over the eons that started when some clay got hit by lightning.”
In any event, this article is one of the most hyperbolically pro-evolution articles to appear in the major media in recent times.
2. LiveScience: “Robot Reveals How Fish First Crawled Ashore” http://www.livescience.com/animalworld/070308_salamander_robot.html
European scientists formerly “puzzled” over the workings of a key episode in the story of evolution have developed a salamander-esque robot in an effort to elucidate an answer to the puzzle. The key episode is the alleged water-to-land transition that evolutionists indicate was the starting point for millions of years of terrestrial evolution.
The LiveScience article explains the puzzle:
Until now, scientists had puzzled over how ancient swimmers, which used mostly body movements in the water, could recruit their limbs for land locomotion while triggering the distinctive body movements required for a typical walk.
To shed light on the process, the team of scientists, led by physicist Auke Ijspeert of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, constructed a 33-inch (0.84 m) robot, colored bright yellow, that is modeled after a salamander—even down to its “spinal cord.” The robot was equipped with limbs as well.
As an increasing electrical stimulus was applied to the “spinal cord,” the robot transitioned from moving its limbs slowly, then more quickly, and finally at full speed, “at which point the limb neuron centers shut down” per the robot’s programming. At this point, the robot began to undulate its entire body in lamprey fashion, enabling it to swim. Based on this model, the team concluded that one neural circuit is all it would take for a seafaring amphibian (or a fish such as Tiktaalik) to transition to land-walking.
Unfortunately for evolutionary theorists, they have yet to show how actual land-going, weight-bearing appendages—or any of the other unique structures of land life—could have evolved by chance! Ultimately, building a robot that transitions from sea to land doesn’t prove a sea-to-land transition any more than an illustration of an ape slowly evolving into an upright-walking human proves that we descended from apes!
3. National Geographic News: “Evolution Getting Faster Thanks to Germs, Viruses, Study Says”
Evolution is speeding up, according to a Rice University team studying a process known as horizontal gene transfer. The team believes that “microbes are accelerating evolution by constantly transporting whole chunks of DNA that may represent new and beneficial functions—like resistance to disease” from one organism to another.
Interestingly, part of the argument the Rice team, led by genetic engineer Michael Deem, gives for this acceleration of evolution is to cite the so-called “Cambrian explosion,” the evolutionary term for when, according to uniformitarian interpretations of the geological record, all of life became inexplicably complex in an incredibly short period of time. Despite this anything-but-gradual “explosion” that is anything but what evolutionary theory predicts, evolutionists cling to hope, frequently introducing new ideas for what caused the sudden complexity. The Rice team claims horizontal gene transfer “may have played a significant role in allowing early multicellular organisms to develop into the living things we know today.”
Unsurprisingly, “[n]ot everyone agrees how prominent a part this gene-swapping process has played in the evolution of larger organisms like plants and animals.” Furthermore, this process, despite its label as an evolutionary mechanism, fits with the biblical account of creation. After all, this process cannot create any new genetic information; it can merely copy and move existing genetic information. In other words, it in no way furthers the idea that bland, simple life-forms could rapidly evolve and speciate into the almost countless variants of complex life on earth today.
4. PhysOrg.com: “Early Mars had underground water system”
In the latest of evolutionists’ ongoing efforts to convince the public (and themselves) that Mars really, truly had life once upon a time, scientists suggest this week in Nature, that “sulphate-rich sediments” found in Mars’ “Meridiani Planum” were deposited by groundwater seeping above the surface. Jeffrey Andrews-Hanna of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with colleagues, proposes the idea in lieu of the hypothesis that the deposits came from a sea once covering Meridiani Planum. Andrews-Hanna, et al., point out that Meridiani Planum is not a basin and could not have held sufficient water for a sea.
Of course, what is the source for the continual speculation concerning water on Mars? “Water is one of three essential ingredients for life as we know it, along with energy, such as sunlight, and elements like carbon and oxygen.” Evolutionary scientists may search the universe for an accidental origin of life, but all the while the truth is closer than they are willing to believe!
5. ScienceNOW: “The Rodent Who Knew Too Much” http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2007/308/1
This week, a new animal joins our showcase of “underestimated animal geniuses”: the humble lab rat. It seems that lab rats working for University of Georgia neuroscientist Jonathon Crystal and graduate student Allison Foote are smart enough to undergo “metacognition,” or thinking about thinking, an intellectual behavior previously observed only in such lauded-for-their-brains animals, such as monkeys and dolphins.
As Gisela Telis’s ScienceNOW article explains, “People experience metacognition … on a daily basis; anyone who’s ever had a sinking feeling during an exam knows it well.” The problem, of course, is how to learn when an animal has such a sinking feeling!
In this case, Crystal and Foote set up a game for the rats:
First, the researchers trained the rats to associate a short burst of static—lasting about 2 seconds—with one lever, and a long burst of static-lasting about 8 seconds—with another lever. Pushing the correct lever yielded a tasty reward of six food pellets; pushing the incorrect lever yielded no food and no chance to try again. The rats also learned that they could get half the reward without making a choice, by poking their nose into a food trough.
When the test began, the bursts of static were easily distinguishable, and the rats “played” the game, pushing the correct lever rather than going for the shoo-in trough solution, and consequently receiving a bigger reward. But then Crystal and Foote decided to make things more challenging by playing “intermediate bursts of static” that were neither short nor long. The rats apparently recognized their own inability to “answer” correctly, and instead avoided answering wrongly and went straight for the free food in the trough. The food trough was then removed, and the rats—as expected—performed poorly, failing to distinguish whether these intermediate sounds were short or long bursts.
Studies that uncover the unexpected intelligence of animals can go a long way toward muting the misapprehension that apes (especially chimpanzees) are “nearly human” due to their high intelligence. Of course, it’s true that chimps are smart within the animal kingdom, but this falls apart as evidence for evolution when other intelligent animals are revealed:
“It’s an important study,” says University of California, Los Angeles, metacognition researcher Nate Kornell. “It tells us that the mental processes of rats are more similar to ours than we thought.” It may also tell us that supposedly smart animals don’t have the market cornered on awareness, he adds, because “if this is true for rats and monkeys, then it’s probably true for other mammals as well.”
6. LiveScience: “Snake with Taste for Escargot Evolves Bizarre Strategy” http://www.livescience.com/animalworld/070308_right_snakes.html
One of this week’s examples of “evolution” in action is Pareas iwasakii, the Japanese snake. According to LiveScience, this snail-sucking snake “has evolved an upper jaw with more teeth on the right side than the left” that allows it to tug snails out of their shells more efficiently (based on the usual curvature of snail shells). The snake uses this method (which you can watch on video) because its jaws are too weak to crush snail shells. When faced with snails whose shells curved in the less-usual way, the snakes were more challenged and took longer to “free” the snails from their shells.
Scientists at Kyoto University in Japan determined that these snakes have an average of 17.5 teeth on the left jaw as opposed to 24.9 teeth on the right jaw; this asymmetry was found even in unhatched snakes, which indicates that the asymmetry has a genetic origin. “[T]he snake has evolved an upper jaw with more teeth on the right side than the left,” the article explains, calling it a “toothy adaptation.”
But is this “evolution”? In one sense, yes—in the sense that the term “evolution” refers to a change in the frequency of a gene occurring in a population (but not in a molecules-to-man sense, as we will explain later). In this snake population, which (presumably) was originally dominated by snakes with symmetrical genes, the success of the right-toothed snakes has increased the frequency of the genes for right-toothedness in these snakes. This sort of evolution in no way contradicts the biblical account; furthermore, it is based on solid investigative research.
The problem is, “evolution” is also used to refer to the unobserved speculation that over time, molecules could turn into men, fish could turn into philosophers, and so forth. But unlike the serpentine example above, such “evolution” would require the addition of a great volume of genetic information. Such information-increasing evolution has never been observed. Thus, when evolutionary scientists find examples of animal populations adapting to their environments, the news is touted as indirect “evidence” that life is the result of millions of years of evolution. In reality, this borderline-dishonest tactic amounts to a modicum of science and a mound of evolutionary philosophy.
For a good overview of how natural selection, mutations, and adaptation all come into play in the real world, see Muddy Waters: Clarifying the confusion about natural selection.
7. BBC NEWS: ‘Stone age’ labelled ‘offensive’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6422581.stm
The terms “stone age,” “primitive,” and “savage” are offensive and “should not be used to describe living peoples,” reports the BBC on an Association of Social Anthropologists ruling. The association claims the terms “ha[ve] serious implications for [the] welfare” of these groups.
Interestingly, this attitude reflects the biblical position on anthropology and human origins rather than the evolutionary one. A secular evolutionary worldview dictates that our only value comes from our ability to survive and reproduce, and that “races” that do this effectively are, in essence, more highly evolved. In times past, evolutionists famously placed various races on a ladder of “closer to” and “farther from” apes. Such ideas were taught in public schools and led to inhuman crimes such as the horrible story of Ota Benga.
The Bible, in stark contrast, teaches that all humans on earth are descended from Noah, and, in turn, from Adam, who was created in the image of God. The Bible teaches in Genesis 11 that our ancestors once spoke the same language; it was only after the dispersion at the Tower of Babel that we split into various people groups, divided by language. One result of this switch was varying skin tones; another was that our societies developed in dramatically different ways. Yet no people groups are better than any others; we are all sin-cursed and in need of a Savior.
Ultimately, it is the biblical worldview that should drive us to care for members of all people groups, for all are one in Christ (see Galatians 2:8). Furthermore, Christians should point out the bigotry that is the logical result of evolutionary doctrine. See our Q&A on racism for more information on this important topic.
8. One News Now: “Answers in Genesis founder labels claims in ’Jesus Tomb’ as nonsense”
OneNewsNow.com reports AiG–USA president Ken Ham’s comments on The Lost Tomb of Jesus, the recent documentary in which journalist Simcha Jacobovici purports to have found coffins belonging to Jesus and His family members. The AiG president explained that, “When it comes to interpreting the past—of course you weren’t there in the past; you weren’t there to see the things happen—that’s why it’s so important to trust God’s Word.”
If you haven’t yet read our full response to The Lost Tomb of Jesus, be sure to take a look. And if you’re tired of watching speculative, secular documentaries produced by those with an anti-Christian bias, take a look at our extensive set of videos. You can watch several of them online for free, and can find the entire collection at our Answers Bookstore. You’ll find something for everyone—children, teens, parents; laymen and scientists; films for fortifying the saved and evangelizing the unsaved.
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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