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Strangely and inexplicably coinciding with the grand opening weekend of the Creation Museum is a wave of museum coverage in the media and on the Internet. Okay, so that isn’t really strange or inexplicable! Although the media coverage of both the museum and the creation/evolution debate is likely to increase in the weeks to come, we thought we would take a quick peek at a small sampling of the stories out there this week (in no particular order). Ready?
This balanced “overview” article afforded Ken Ham the chance to explain—very briefly—how the theory of evolution has undermined the truth of the Bible. That’s more than much coverage has allowed.
William R. Brody’s commencement address to the 2007 graduates of Johns Hopkins University included a short reference to the Creation Museum, lumping it with other forms of “willful ignorance” such as Holocaust denial and implying that creationism exists because creationists do not like the “fact” of evolution. He then inspires confidence in science by explaining that “[s]cience constantly gets it wrong” and that “half of what [students learn] may one day be proved wrong.”
This article is, overall, not worth the effort in reading it, but it does represent the “layman’s” rebuttal to the Creation Museum. Amid attempts at humor, the author implies that dinosaur fossils contradict young-earth creationism and reveals his ignorance of radiocarbon dating. Sadly, the author’s misunderstandings are likely commonplace among the general population.
In case you haven’t heard, there are a few folks out there who are opposed to the content of the Creation Museum. It’s not that they disagree with our right to have our views, they explain; it’s just that they disagree with our right to express our views.
Okay, so that’s a mischaracterization of the petitioners; rather, they are afraid of (one petition states) a “campaign by the religious right to inject creationist teachings into science education.”
As Ken Ham points out, however, one creation museum against the monolithic evolutionary establishment shouldn’t be anything to worry about unless evolutionists are afraid of letting people “hear the other side.”
All we have to say about this one is, enjoy the video!
On the whole, a refreshingly uncontroversial article about the museum: uncontroversial in the sense that it focuses more on the museum itself and less on the creation/evolution debate, although it does relay several of our key messages. Indeed, this Times article makes the museum experience sound almost mystical. And don’t miss the slideshow!
That said, why not see in person what all the fuss is about? Visit creationmuseum.com for more information!
That birds evolved from dinosaurs has been nearly universally accepted in most evolutionist circles since the discovery of Archaeopteryx. But this week, a key fossil said to uphold that dino-to-bird link is under attack.
The fossil is Sinosauropteryx, a “long-tailed meat-eating dino” that was originally claimed to have been covered in “primitive feathers.” The find helped support (in evolutionists’ minds) the evolution of birds from dinosaurs.
Now, however, a team led by South African researcher Theagarten Lingham-Soliar is disputing the “primitive feathers” of Sinosauropteryx:
“The fibres show a striking similarity to the structure and levels of organisation of dermal collagen,” the kind of tough elastic strands found on the skin of sharks and reptiles today, the investigators say.
In other words, the “feathers” are not feathers at all. And while the team “do[es] not take issue with the [dinos-to-birds] theory itself,” this is a powerful reminder that the evidence evolutionists offer today can easily be retracted tomorrow.
Two other passages in the article reveal other interesting facts. First, the article makes a note about Archaeopteryx:
What is missing are the links between Archaeopteryx and other species that would show how it evolved. But [the] fossil record is frustratingly small and incomplete and this is why debate has been so fierce. [Emphases added]
We’d say this quotation speaks for itself! The second passage of interest describes how scientists originally concluded that Sinosauropteryx had proto-feathers:
[Lingham-Soliar’s team is] dismayed by what they see as a reckless leap to the conclusion that Sinosauropteryx had the all-important “protofeathers,” even though this dinosaur was phylogenetically far removed from Archaeopteryx.
The evidence in support of the primitive feathers lacked serious investigation, Lingham-Soliar says.
“There is not a single close-up representation of the integumental structure alleged to be a protofeather,” Lingham-Soliar says damningly.
It seems that in their irrational exuberance over the find and their zeal for evolutionary theory, the original scientists leapt without basis to the proto-feather conclusion. How many other similar discoveries that “prove” evolution are the result of eager evolutionists who have thrown true science out the window?
It may not be breaking news, but Indonesian fisherman Yustinus Lahama’s capture of a rare coelacanth fish is a reminder of the perpetual fallibility of paleontologists (and much of what they say!).
For those not familiar, the coelacanth was once only known from the fossil record. Paleontologists confidently pronounced that it went extinct some 65 million years ago, since no trace of it was found in more “recent” fossil layers. Imagine their surprise when, in 1938, a living coelacanth was found off the coast of Madagascar! This National Geographic News article notes that “[s]everal other coelacanths have been caught in recent decades.”
Ken Ham explains the significance of the coelacanth quite clearly in Missing? or misinterpreted?:
Now here’s the point. No fossils of coelacanths have ever been found in the same layers as human fossils, but they have been found in the same layers as dinosaur fossils—yet we know coelacanths and humans do live together, because they do so in the present world.
In other words, just because we don’t find fossils of certain creatures (or plants) together with humans in the fossil record, it doesn’t mean they didn’t live together.
Evolutionists love to boldly declare that we “know” (or that science has “proven”) when certain animals arose and when they became extinct. Similarly, evolutionists smugly scoff at creationist claims that dinosaurs and humans lived together (or, for that matter, at any claim that their “facts” may be wrong). But, like other living fossils, the coelacanth goes a long way toward reminding us that these bold claims are based on unbiblical interpretations of the fossil record—interpretations that have, on many occasions, been proven wrong.
Our latest installment in the Search for Terrestrial Intelligence takes us to El Zacaton, Mexico, where NASA is taking a “first step toward searching for life on Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa.”
It’ll be a deep step, however: El Zacaton is home to one of the world’s deepest sinkholes (extending more than 3,280 ft / 1,000 m beneath the surrounding terrain). Scientists believe the sinkhole, which is filled with water, will adequately represent some of the challenges of exploring Europa’s theorized oceans (thought to exist beneath sheets of ice on the surface). Some scientists speculate these oceans may have life.
For now, the NASA team will lower an underwater robot, nicknamed “Clementine,” into the abyss; the robot will then produce maps, collect rock samples, and record the experience. The team hopes to test the robot in Antarctica next year and eventually—“in about 20 years”—send a similar probe to Europa.
“We’re so sure there’s water on Europa that the real question is whether there is also life, whether there’s something in the ocean that bugs can eat,” enthused NASA’s Chris McKay. Another team member, microbiology expert John Spear, explained:
“Plants, animals, fungus, microbes and bacteria are the known forms of life. But there may be more branches to the tree on Europa.”
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with exploring the universe around us—from the sinkhole of El Zacaton to the ice of Europa—this NASA project is yet another idea driven by an evolutionary promulgation that seems to dictate to many that where there’s liquid water, there can be life. And, of course, not only is such life on Europa hypothetical; so is the existence of liquid water, which is only a speculation at this point.
In other Search for Terrestrial Intelligence news, guardians of NASA’s Spirit rover found more evidence of ancient Martian water this week—and, unsurprisingly, added that “[t]he latest discovery adds compelling new evidence for ancient conditions that might have been favorable for life.”
One thing’s for sure: if life were “out there” on other planets, waiting to be discovered, evolutionary scientists wouldn’t miss it out of a lack of enthusiasm!
In related “fishy” news, a study published in Nature by U.S. researchers examined the hypothesized genetics of the much-ballyhooed water-to-land transition of limbed fish, one of the most common icons of evolution. The scientists cite Tiktaalik as one example of a transitional form, explaining, “The Tiktaalik and other recent fossil finds suggested to us that the structures that really make land animals unique—hands and feet and fingers and toes—just didn't appear out of nowhere.”
According to some evolutionists, wanting students to “be taught about challenges to the theory of evolution” is enough to disqualify a person from leading a U.S. nonprofit education association, The New York Times reports (in not so many words).
Kenneth R. Willard, a Kansas state school board member, is the person under fire. As part of the school board in 2005, Willard voted to alter the Kansas curriculum to require some criticisms of evolutionary theory to be presented in the classroom (see What happened in Kansas?). For that reason, Willard’s standalone candidacy for the presidency of the National Association of State Boards of Education is being opposed by various evolution activists. The NASBE is a nongovernmental, nonprofit U.S. organization that, according to its website, “works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and assure continued citizen support for public education.”
The Times article clues us in to two alarming trends in the creation/evolution debate. First, acceptance of any form of creation or intelligent design (even when mixed with evolution) is construed as anti-science and is, apparently, a ticket to disqualification for jobs in education or science (as we saw in last week’s News to Note, item #7).
Second, there is an increasing media bias against the creation point of view, as evidenced in this Times article. Rather than relying on direct quotations or indirect attribution, Cornelia Dean, the article’s author, simply states:
There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth.
Clearly Dean, who quoted multiple evolutionists in the article, could have refrained from weighing in with her own viewpoint and simply relied on a quotation from one of Willard’s opponents. Sadly, her choice to bring her own view into play—and evolutionists’ fear that Willard may lead the NASBE—represent a trend away from fair discussion of the debate and toward a blanket refusal to accurately report or understand creationists’ viewpoint.
Stanley Miller, partial namesake of the Miller–Urey experiment, has passed on at the age of 77, Reuters reports. Miller’s name is nearly synonymous with origin-of-life research; the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment purported to show that the earth’s early environment could have naturally given rise to organic compounds that became the building blocks of life.
Reuters quotes Miller at length from a 1996 interview the news service conducted with the scientist:
“The origin of life is a relatively easy thing and there’s a wide variety of conditions under which it will take place.”
“If you’ve got the same starting materials and the same conditions, you’re going to get the same compounds ... [t]he real question is whether or not there are very chance elements in the formation of life.”
“Making the amino acids made it seem like the rest of the steps would be very easy. It’s turned out that it’s more difficult than I thought it would be[.”]
“It’s a series of little tricks. Once you learn the trick it’s very easy. The problem is learning the trick.”
Reuters then explains, “Scientists appeared on the cusp of achieving genesis in the laboratory but, over the next half century, creating life from scratch eluded researchers.”
The most revealing sign of science’s lingering lack of explanation for the origin of life, however, is that modern scientists are unsatisfied with the Miller–Urey model for abiogenesis. Reuters reports on the research of scientist Guenter Waechtershaeuser who, while acknowledging Miller’s research, “argu[es] that Miller and other mainstream scientists have been looking in the wrong places to understand the creation of life.” (The use of the word “creation” is puzzling in this context.) Waechtershaeuser supports an alternative to Miller’s model that suggests life originated “on a flat area where mineral surfaces could spark chemical processes leading to living cells.”
Although we certainly disagree with both the thrust and the science of the Miller–Urey research (see Why the Miller–Urey research argues against abiogenesis and Q&A: Origin of Life for details), we extend our condolences to Dr. Miller’s friends and family.
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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