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Bible-believers know it, and a popular evolutionary idea says the same thing: all humans alive today can be traced back to the same small group of people.
Of course, those who accept the Bible’s account know that this group was the eight who survived the Flood in the Ark. Scientists who accept the “Out of Africa” theory, on the other hand, believe the group was much broader—humans who spread out from Africa some 50,000 to 70,000 years ago. This is in contrast to the “multiregional” view, which asserts that modern humans evolved separately in different locations around the globe.
Giving support to the former view is a study published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that argues that the “common descent” model of human history is correct. The study’s authors took blood samples from Aborigines and Asians and compared the DNA, tracing paternal and maternal lineage through Y-chromosome DNA and mitochondrial DNA respectively. The study determined, through the assumption of an average DNA mutation rate, that the branches diverged some 50,000 to 70,000 years ago.
This genetic confirmation of mankind’s relatedness is a strong confirmation of the Bible’s account of Noah and his family as the only survivors of the Flood, although we disagree with the dating of this divergence (which is based on uniformitarian assumptions). Perhaps most important is that these findings confirm (and bring attention to) the fact that we are all of one blood, as the Bible teaches, and that we share not only our ancestry, but our need for a Savior.
2. ScienceDaily: “Gene Mutation Linked To Cognition Is Found Only In Humans“
For several years, evolutionists have trumpeted the similarity between the chimpanzee and human genomes as proof of evolution (although similarities in features or genes can never “prove” anything of the sort—see “Similarities don’t prove evolution”).
In the last few years, however, the degree of similarity has been quietly acknowledged by evolutionists to be less than once thought (see “Chimp genome sequence very different from man” and our Genetics Q&A). Now, scientists led by Bing Su of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have discovered a fundamental distinction in the human genome that speaks volumes: a protein that plays a key role in learning, cognition, and memory is found only in humans, and not in chimpanzees.
Of course, the Bible makes it clear that a gaping chasm separates man from the animals (and, for that matter, all other life): man was made in the image of God, whereas other animals, despite superficial and functional similarities, were not. This discovery is just the latest reminder.
3. ScienceNOW: “Opossum’s Genome Is in the Bag“
A team of scientists led by Tarjei Mikkelsen and Kerstin Lindblad-Toh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University announced this week in Nature the completed sequencing of the opossum genome. The opossum joins a motley contingent of animals who have had their genomes sequenced—mice, chimpanzees, and macaques—and is the first marsupial with its sequence “in the books.”
Elizabeth Pennisi, writing for ScienceNOW, explains the scientists’ primary motivation for sequencing such a mundane critter:
Unraveling the genomes of dozens of animals with varying degrees of relatedness is key to learning how humans evolved. Researchers decided to sequence this opossum, Monodelphis domestica, in part because marsupials branched off the mammalian evolutionary tree 180 million years ago.
The team discovered that more than 15,000 of 19,000 opossum genes “clearly correspond” to human genes. Evolutionists insist such commonality is due to shared descent; however, the similarity in genes is just as easily explained by a common designer creating many forms of life that share features—just as the architectural plans for two houses, built for the same purpose and designed by the same architect, will likely have similarities. What doesn’t fit with evolutionists’ expectations, however, is the team’s surprise finding on opossums’ immune systems:
[O]f the marsupial's 19,000 or so genes, more than 15,000 clearly correspond to human genes, including an unexpected number important to the body’s defenses. That’s intriguing, the researchers say, because the marsupial immune system is supposed to be primitive.
Instead, a paper in Genome Research describes many complex immunity genes normally associated with placental mammals. […] Moreover, the opossum has a unique gene [that indicates] opossum-specific advances in the complexity of immune defenses. [Emphasis added]
Of course, these findings are explained perfectly by the creation account of origins: because opossums are not “primitive” ancestors of humans, it is no surprise to creationists that opossums have a complex immune system—one that even has a unique component. However, as one would expect, evolutionists merely adapt their previously held ideas to fit these “surprises”:
“We can now see that the common ancestor of marsupials and [placental mammals] had all the basic building blocks that now make up the human immune system,” says co-author Katherine Belov of the University of Sydney in Australia.
Genome sequencing is a useful example of the inherent “flexibility” and unfalsifiability of evolutionary theory: if sequencing shows that two animals thought to be distantly related are actually closely related (or vice versa), evolutionists accept the new finding and simply ignore evolutionary theory’s errant prediction.
4. PhysOrg.com: “Mission Could Seek Out Spock's Home Planet“
We at Answers in Genesis are continuing the “Search for Terrestrial Intelligence”—looking for earth-based experts on extrasolar planets who aren’t rabidly speculating about the life that (they seem to think) is most certainly out there (see, for example, item #1 in News to Note two weeks back). Unfortunately, our search ends up fruitless for another week: scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are eagerly considering the prospect of life on an earth-like planet (named Vulcan in homage to Star Trek) orbiting a nearby star. A PhysOrg.com article explains:
When pondering the idea that [SIM, a new planet-finding mission] might be able to detect Vulcan, astronomer Dr. Angelle Tanner at Caltech had two questions: Can a planet form around [the star in question]? Can SIM detect such a planet?
She consulted a planetary theorist, Dr. Sean Raymond of the University of Colorado, Boulder. “Since the three members of the triple star system are so far away from each other […], I see no reason why an Earth-mass planet would not be able to form around the primary star[.”]
The astronomers’ considerations suddenly jump from the planet itself to the possibility of life:
If Vulcan life were to exist on the planet, the orbit of the planet would have to lie in a sweet spot around the star where liquid water could be present on its surface. Water is an essential ingredient for any organism to live long and prosper.
This is quite an exciting prospect, since NASA’s Terrestrial Planet Finder mission, planned for launch after SIM […] could search for signatures of life such as methane and ozone.
The irrational exuberance continues:
When asked what life would be like on Vulcan, Tanner speculated that the inhabitants might be pale. “A K dwarf star emits its light at wavelengths which are a bit redder compared to those from the sun, so I wonder whether it's harder to get a tan there,” she said.
5. ScienceDaily: “Survival Of The Rarest: Fruit Flies Shed Light On The Evolution Of Behavior“
It’s another example of “evolution in name only”: research conducted by doctoral student Mark Fitzpatrick of the University of Toronto at Mississauga is uncovering how more unique individuals of a species enjoy a survival advantage. But while this finding is labeled as shedding light on the “evolution of behavior,” it bears no resemblance to the molecules-to-man fairy tale popularized as evolution.
Fitzpatrick hoped to test a phenomenon called “negative frequency-dependent selection,” which suggests that “rare variants [of a species] have a better chance of survival—just as a rare strain of the flu has a better chance of spreading through a population that is already immune to more common strains of the virus.” He raised colonies of fruit fly larvae for his experimentation, carefully distinguishing two subtly different variants of the fly—“rovers” versus “sitters”—by applying a green fluorescent protein to one. The “rover” larvae roam in search of food, while the “sitters” are mostly sedentary. Fitzpatrick spent a year carefully counting larvae under a microscope to ascertain the survival success of each type as compared to the other.
In confirmation of the negative frequency-dependent selection hypothesis, Fitzpatrick observed that rovers performed better when in a majority-sitter population, and sitters performed better when in a majority-rover population. Marla Sokolowski, a biologist at the University of Toronto at Mississauga who discovered the gene-guiding fruit fly foraging behavior, explains the dichotomy:
“If you’re a rover surrounded by many sitters, then the sitters are going to use up that patch and you’re going to do better by moving out into a new patch,” says Sokolowski. “So you’ll have an advantage because you’re not competing with the sitters who stay close to the initial resource. On the other hand, if you’re a sitter and you’re mostly with rovers, the rovers are going to move out and you’ll be left on the patch to feed without competition.”
This is all well and good, but does this study—an example of useful, observation-based science—contribute to the case for evolution? Does the research only meld with the evolutionary worldview? The answer to both those questions is a resounding “no”; good science, like this study, indicates that what is widely referred to as “evolution in action” is never the sort of molecules-to-man evolution Charles Darwin proposed. The “evolution” we see is not one animal (or plant, etc.) gaining genetic information and changing into another; it’s one animal adapting to its environment through the mechanism of natural selection. Natural selection is an experimentally and observationally supported fact of life that is fully consistent with the Bible.
Evolutionists, however, would love to keep the line blurred, treating any change in a population of a species as scientific support of Darwinism.
6. ScienceDaily: “Scientists Release Encyclopedia of Life Into the Wild“
In an exciting announcement, scientists around the world have begun work on an online catalog of the world’s 1.8 million known species. This “Encyclopedia of Life” will be a collaborative web project designed to give free access to wealth of information and “allow users to add information and details, such as species sightings and photos [...].”
Through collaboration, we all can increase our appreciation of the immense variety of life [...]. The Encyclopedia of Life will ultimately make high-quality, well-organized information available on an unprecedented level.
Answers in Genesis is also constructing an encyclopedia of life near Cincinnati, Ohio—the Creation Museum. Visitors will see how all of creation, the rich variety of life (as well as the origin and history of it), is a testament to the power and wisdom of our Creator. In a little over two weeks, people from all over the world will come and be able to see that God created the earth in six literal days and hear the entire gospel message, beginning in Genesis.
Be sure to check out the new Creation Museum website that is launching today and “Prepare to Believe.”
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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