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1. CNN: “Massacre at Virginia Tech“
The media this week has understandably been awash in the wake of the tragic Virginia Tech massacre, a massacre that reminded us of the repercussions of the Fall and the inevitability of death as a consequence of that Fall.
No doubt many at this time are asking how there can be a loving God if He allows such trauma. We believe this answer is found in Genesis, and it is our prayer that through the midst of such tragedy and heartache, many will find not only theodicy, but (much more importantly) God’s love.
2. ScienceNOW: “Chimps Are Champs of Genetic Changes“
A sensational headline ran across the science media this week: “Chimps More Evolved than Humans.” Could it be that there are philosopher-apes out there after all? In reality, such exuberant headlines referred to a less shocking-yet still unusual-finding: the chimp genome, according to evolutionists, has undergone greater evolution since humans and chimps allegedly went separate ways a supposed 7 million years ago.
A University of Michigan team led by population geneticist Jianzhi Zhang “compared nearly 14,000 protein-coding genes in humans and chimpanzees,” identifying only “154 human genes that have been positively selected,” compared to 233 in chimps. Because evolutionists
believe chimps and humans share a common ancestor, they also believe that any gene differences between us and chimps are the result of natural selection “positively” or “negatively” selecting genes. Whatever genes exist now are considered the “winners” of natural selection; the differences-chimp genes we don’t have and vice versa-are considered to have been negatively selected.
According to Zhang, whose team’s research was published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, chimpanzees’ larger historical population accounts for the difference. And as for what the difference is all about?
In the chimp, genes that have outpaced those in humans include ones involved in protein metabolism, gene transcription, and stress response. […] In the human, too, the differences appear to be subtle, with selection working rapidly on genes concerned with fatty acid metabolism and phosphate transport.
Furthermore, “physician-scientist” Ajit Varki of the University of California, San Diego points out that “[o]ther mechanisms in gene evolution-such as gene expression, duplication, conversion, and inactivation-are likely to be equally important” as Zhang’s discovery.
This research serves a few purposes for creationists. First, it’s a good reminder of just how different humans and chimpanzees are (despite the inaccurate and misrepresentative “98%+ genome similarity” often cited by evolutionists). Second, it underscores how morphological homology-that is, similar appearance and construction-is not an independent sign of evolution; despite superficial human-chimp similarities, there are complex differences “under the hood.” While evolutionists see these differences as having arisen in the time since chimps and humans diverged, it is just as consistent to view our genomes as unique designs of the Creator, with numerous inherent differences because we are inherently different creations.
3. National Geographic News: “Newfound Fossils Reveal Secrets of World's Oldest Forest“
A study published in this week’s issue of the science journal Nature describes two recent discoveries of the world’s oldest (allegedly) tree fossils. The study’s lead author, paleobotanist William Stein of New York’s Binghamton University, describes the fossilized tree as looking like “a palm tree, or perhaps a tree fern.” According to Stein, the trees “belong to a previously known plant group called cladoxylopsids.”
Now come the interesting parts. First, we read Stein’s appraisal of the trees’ form:
It’s a kind of morphology that's instantly recognizable among some modern groups [of trees].
In this sense, the fossil find qualifies as yet another “living fossil.” A living fossil is one that is considered “ancient” (having lived and gone extinct millions of years ago) but-to the puzzlement of evolutionists-has many of the fully developed features found in modern, extant creatures. Often the resemblance is so striking that only a bona fide paleontologist would know that one of these living fossils isn’t alive today.
Here’s the two-part “problem” (for evolutionists) with living fossils: first, living fossils show that advanced features had far less time to evolve than what evolutionists suspected; evolving from primordial goo to complex life in a billion years would be “hard enough” without such living fossils reducing the time-div. Second, living fossils present the problem of apparently having had no modification despite supposed millions of years of natural selection.
The article’s other telling facet is Stein’s comment about how “[t]he traits of the Gilboa trees are found in many tree types throughout history.” Stein explains:
[The traits] cannot all be traced back to the same common ancestor, so it's clearly a recurrent evolved form,” he said.
“The reason for that is probably ecology, probably something to do with a way of being a large tree or a large plant. It’s one way to do it, and it is now clearly the oldest way.
In other words, there are many trees similar in form and feature to these newfound fossil trees-but their differences are substantial enough that Stein (and other evolutionists) can’t connect them in an evolutionary lineage. The only possible conclusion for an evolutionist: all the various tree forms with these similar features evolved the similar features on their own, separate from the others. The problem with such convergent evolution (or “recurrent,” as Stein puts it): if it’s chancy enough for a feature to evolve once, then how much more unlikely would it be for that same feature to evolve again and again!
4. The Jerusalem Post: Israeli researchers: “‘Lucy’ is not direct ancestor of humans“
Remember Lucy, the sensational simian fossil find that was long championed as the forerunner of humankind, et al.? For some time we’ve explained (c.f. Lucy (and her ‘child’)-look like extinct apes after all) the many difficulties with this apeman portrayal of Lucy. Now, a group of Tel Aviv University anthropologists claim to have “disproven the theory that ‘Lucy’ […] is the last ancestor common to humans.”
Examining jaw bone specimens from modern humans and various apes, scientists led by Yoel Rak researched the “ramus element,” a jaw structure that, while present in Lucy’s own Australopithecus afarensis and similar Australopithecus robustus, are not present in the same form in modern apes and humans. Rak explained, “The presence of the morphology in both [A. robustus] and [A. afarensis] and its absence in modern humans cast doubt on the role of [Lucy] as a common ancestor.” Instead, Rak’s team, writing in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concludes that Lucy and her ilk ought to “be placed as the beginning of the [evolutionary] branch that evolved in parallel to ours.”
As we see it, it’s only a matter of time before Lucy is relegated to status of a quasi-human ancestor, then eventually to an evolutionary “side-path.” Of course, we’ve little doubt that by that time, evolutionary anthropologists will have found a new “sure thing” apeman.
For more on this topic, see Farewell to “Lucy.”
5. The Cincinnati Enquirer: “Creation Museum touches lives“
As you know, we often include links to media coverage of the soon-to-open Creation Museum (less than a month and a half away!) near the Cincinnati Airport, but this one has a more joyous and celebratory topic than mere updates on construction progress. This article presents the story of how the Creation Museum-even before it opens-has affected the staff and contractors at Answers in Genesis. We’ll not spoil the enjoyable read for you, other than to again emphasize the right-around-the-corner grand opening of the museum.
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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