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1. BBC NEWS: “Ancient human unearthed in China”

Researchers have announced in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the discovery of “34 bone fragments belonging to a single” thought-to-be early modern human in China. The bones have been radiocarbon dated to some 40,000 years ago (but see our Radiometric Dating Q&A to read how accurate such dating really is).

Evolutionary scientists are trying to fit this in with the current “Out of Africa” model of human origins, which postulates that the first humans evolved in Africa, then “spread out across the globe about 70,000 years ago,” supplanting supposed proto-humans (e.g., Neandertals) in their path.

Now comes the twist:

The [fragments] display diagnostic features of modern H. sapiens. But co-author Erik Trinkaus and his colleagues argue, controversially, that the bones also display features characteristic of earlier human species, such as relatively large front teeth.

Trinkaus and his colleagues suggest in the PNAS article that this spectrum of features is a sign of “interbreeding between early modern humans […] and the archaic populations they encountered.” Trinkaus commented that such interbreeding would not be strange, given that “evidence […] suggest[s] two closely related species [… can] interbreed successfully.”

This evidence, however, fits much better with the biblical worldview, which places the origin of all humankind just a few thousand years ago. Adam’s descendants, which included such varieties as Neandertals, had a spectrum of variations (from “relatively large front teeth” to hair type, height, jaw shape, skin color, etc.), yet were all fully human and distinctly different from apes. Evolutionists have found such semi-Neandertal, semi-”modern human” remains before, but rather than showing transitional forms, such bones simply reflect the spectrum of design humanity originally had (of course, there’s still a spectrum today, albeit a narrower one).

One other interesting note from the article: the toe bone Trinkaus’ team discovered suggests the toe’s owner wore shoes. Forty-thousand-year-old shoes, perhaps?

2. BBC NEWS: “UK impact crater debate heats up”

Remember that impact crater under the North Sea, the “Silverpit structure,” thought to be “the UK’s only impact crater” and dated at 60-65 million years old? Well, according to University of Edinburgh geologist John Underhill, it is not the vestige of a prehistoric meteorite, but rather “probably the movement of salt rocks at depth.” Underhill cites nine “similar vast chasms in the area” that indicate that the Silverpit structure had no extraterrestrial influence in its formation. Specifically, the BBC reports that Underhill’s theory is that the formation is “the result of movement of a thick layer of salt of Upper Permian (248-256 million years ago) age that lies below the whole area.”

Authors of an earlier study, however, which mapped the structure in 3-D, maintain that the structure was formed in an impact. Among other things, these scientists cite the existence of “undeformed rock underlying the crater” as shown by seismic surveys of the structure.

This debate provides a bit of insight into the shifting foundation (pun intended) of science. One hypothesis may be popularized for years only to be overturned by new scientific thinking or discoveries years later. What is dogmatically taught as scientifically law always has the potential of being reversed by new discoveries. (For a recent example of such a change of opinion, see last week’s News to Note, item #1.)

The Bible provides a solid, changeless foundation for understanding the world around us and the world beyond us. Much of what science teaches as fact today will likely be laughed at by the scientists of tomorrow. But God’s Word (which, yes, may be laughed at by secular scientists today and tomorrow) gives us an account of the universe that we can trust.

3. Toronto Star: “Creationism debate continues to evolve”

Canada’s Toronto Star reports on McGill University professor Brian Alters’ efforts to “warn” Canada of the dangers of “de-emphasizing” evolution education. As director of McGill’s Evolution Education Research Centre, he explains that “informal research by his centre has found that about one-third of teachers report pressure from parents to teach creationism or intelligent design” (the article does not make clear what the “informal research” was). Alters believes teachers respond to such pressure by “teaching neither evolution nor creationism [sic], leaving students with the impression that the two are of equal merit.”

Some of Alters’ critics, however, suggest he is overstating the situation in an effort to receive government research funding. “He and his colleagues are essentially importing a controversy that doesn't exist here,” says Denyse O’Leary, a Canadian author. Alters bid for government funding to research the teaching of intelligent design was rejected last year.

Most telling, however, is Alters’ prescribed way of countering such activist parents who meddle in public school education:

[H]e wants parents to play an active role in ensuring that evolution gets taught in their children’s classes.

In other words, Alters (who debated AiG-US President Ken Ham at Harvard several years ago) can’t stand the thought of creationist parents asking creation to be taught in schools (a contention he can only back up with “informal research”); yet he relishes the thought of evolutionist parents actively pushing for a greater role for evolution education in the classroom-even when it’s not part of the actual class curriculum!

Neither [evolutionary biologist Daniel] Brooks nor Alters argues that teachers are deliberately teaching creationism over evolution. Instead, teachers can feel stuck between trying to keep religion out of the classroom and not wanting to offend the beliefs of students or their families by teaching evolution-particularly if it’s not on the curriculum.

So let’s review Alters’ (and others’) view of evolution education in public schools:

  1. It’s very wrong for parents to try to persuade teachers to teach creation.
  2. It’s very right for parents to persuade teachers to teach evolution.
  3. Evolution should be taught even if it’s missing from the official curriculum.

It sounds as though ardent evolutionists are more to fear than ardent creationists! Indeed, if the likes of Alters have their way in Canada and elsewhere, it would be a crime for creationist parents to weigh in on the slightest regarding their children’s science education, whereas evolutionist parents would have carte blanche to influence public school science curricula.

4. ScienceDaily: “Biologists Call For Better Choice Of Model Organisms In ‘Evo-devo’”

Although Ernst Haeckel’s dishonest drawings of embryos, purported proofs of evolution, have long since been uncovered as frauds, the use of embryos in support of evolutionary theory continues to this day. ScienceDaily carries a University of Bath release that explains how a field that is widely identified with Haeckel’s fraud is still fraught with problems today. The story begins on a bad note for evolutionists:

Research in evolutionary developmental biology, known as ‘evo-devo’, is being held back because the dominant model organisms used by scientists are unable to illustrate key questions about evolution[.]

Evolutionary developmental biology examines the embryonic development stages of various organisms and allegedly helps scientists “understand how developmental change underpins evolution.” See our Embryonic Recapitulation Q&A for a variety of articles on this topic.

The article continues by explaining that phylogenetic position, which is said to reflect evolutionary relationships, is:

employed in two common, but problematic, ways, either as a guide to plug holes in unexplored regions of the phylogenetic tree, or as a pointer to species with presumed primitive (ancestral) characteristics.

A key word in that paragraph is presumed: scientists have a presupposed idea of the evolutionary tree of life; using these presuppositions and noting physical similarities, they make determinations about which organisms are related to which others, which organisms are primitive, and so forth; then, the embryos of these organisms are used to effectively reinforce the presupposed evolutionary tree of life

Even evolutionists are now recognizing problems with this model; a co-author of the study, published in Nature Reviews Genetics, explained:

The popular advice of choosing new model organisms to maximise phylogenetic spread is nice to show diversity, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to new general insights about evolution.

So basically, “evo-devo” offers as much proof of and insight into evolutionary theory as do the oft-parodied posters showing ape-like creatures, starting at left, evolving into modern man!

5. Cell Press: “Mutation improves memory, may lead to memory-enhancing pill”

Who wouldn’t want it: a mutation that results in “enhanced long-term memory”-in mice, anyway. Researchers writing in Cell examined a gene that typically boosts levels of a protein that prevents memories from forming. Animals with a mutation in this gene have a lower level of the protein, and as a result, outperform their peers in “classical behavioral memory tests.”

Darwinian evolution is based on the idea that many mutations, over a very, very long period of time and shaped through natural selection, could create men out of molecules. The problem: such molecules-to-man evolution would require mutations that increase the genetic information in an organism. Such random, information-increasing mutations have never been observed; indeed, most mutations are both information-decreasing and debilitating. But on occasion, a mutation that destroys information-such as this abnormal mice gene-can have a beneficial result (although, we must note, research hasn’t concluded there are no downsides to this “super memory”). A prime example of a beneficial yet information-destroying mutation is a beetle that loses its wings on a windy island. Yet no matter how many mice become smarter through defective genes (nor how many beetles stay alive due to defective/nonexistent wings), mice won’t be a step closer to being men!

6. Baptist Press: “ABC News looks at ministries that misuse donations”

This week, Baptist Press reports on America’s ABC TV news examination of ministries that misuse donations. Answers in Genesis is mentioned in the article-but as an example of one of the “Top 30 Brightest Shining Light” organizations for last year, as rated by MinistryWatch for trustworthy money-handling last year.

We say this not to brag, but rather to emphasize that we take stewardship very seriously, both in the Creation Museum project and in our ministry as a whole. If you decide to support us, know that your donations-financial or otherwise-will be put to efficient use in fulfilling our mission.

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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