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1. National Geographic News: “Massive Birdlike Dinosaur Unearthed in China”
If you believe the artist’s reconstruction, it’s yet another brick in the wall of evolution: a giant, proto-bird dinosaur, named Gigantoraptor erlianensis, that was described in this week’s issue of Nature.
If you read the article, however, it’s hard to miss the noticeable gap between the dinosaur as it exists in evolutionists’ minds and the dinosaur as it exists today (what’s left of it, that is).
Gigantoraptor is thought to have been some 300 times heavier than other dinosaurs labeled as bird ancestors, throwing a wrench of sorts in the evolutionary works. Xing Xu of Beijing’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology explains:
“We thought previously that we had a relatively simple pattern—as dinosaurs became smaller in size they became more birdlike,” Xu said. “Now, after the discovery of Gigantoraptor, things get more complicated.”
And scientists are full of ideas for how Gigantoraptor used its feathers:
“We believe Gigantoraptor kept those feathers from its ancestors,” said Xu, who likened the dinosaur’s appearance to that of a mammoth-size ostrich.
Previously the biggest known feathered animal was an 1,100-pound (500-kilogram) prehistoric flightless bird that lived in Australia six to eight million years ago, he added.
The researchers theorize that Gigantoraptor may have used its feathers for display or for incubating its eggs. Past studies suggest oviraptorosaurs may have had long feathers on their arms and bodies for covering their eggs.
“This is one of the hypotheses to explain how long feathers evolved on arms,” Xu said.
The only problem? Scientists didn’t actually find any feathers with the Gigantoraptor remains! The fact is conveniently obscured by the explanation that feathers “rarely fossilize.” In fact, an article from [email protected] makes only a passing reference to this lack of evidence for the feathers that Xu describes:
Gigantoraptor had long arms, bird-like legs, a toothless jaw, and probably a beak. There are no clear signs as to whether it was feathered. However, judging from its close affinity to other dinosaurs known to have been feathered, Xing Xu [...] speculates that it was. [Emphasis added.]
As you can see, the true reasoning behind the expectation for feathers comes from the preconceptions that the researchers have. Because of its “affinity” to dinosaurs that are believed to have feathers, Gigantoraptor is passed off as something akin to a comical, giant ostrich.
The problem is, with the bones unlikely to be examined by a creationist paleontologist anytime soon, Gigantoraptor will no doubt be added to the list of “missing links” between dinosaurs and birds. Scant fossils are increasingly being shoehorned into evolutionary roles, with fanciful extrapolations trumping careful analysis of actual unearthed bones; this treatment yields what are often little more than modern-day “Nebraska men.”
And as for a bevy of articles on the supposed evolution of dinosaurs into birds—the details of which evolutionists hotly dispute—see our Dinosaurs Q&A.
2. BBC NEWS: “Human genome further unravelled”
One of the most frequently posited arguments for evolution is the supposed similarity of ape and human DNA. For instance, it seems that nearly any article about “human-like” chimpanzee behavior manages to squeeze in a mention of ninety-some percent similarity between chimp and human genomes.
Evolutionary science is just now catching up with the conclusions creationists have already drawn.
Answers in Genesis has long tried to show both the illogic and misunderstanding such claims spread. For one thing, similar genomes do indicate similar biological construction, but do not indicate common descent any more than they indicate common design. For another thing, the supposed similarity is often referenced without explanation of how the genomes are dissimilar.
Evolutionary science is just now catching up with the conclusions creationists have already drawn. “A close-up view of the human genome has revealed its innermost workings to be far more complex than first thought,” reports a BBC NEWS article on a recent Encyclopaedia of DNA Elements (Encode) study. Encode’s goal is to build upon the successful mapping of the human genome by understanding exactly how the genome works. The article explains:
The surprising results, explained Tim Hubbard from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, “transform our view of the genome fabric.”
Previously, genome activity was thought of in terms of the 22,000 genes that make proteins—the functional building blocks in our cells—along with patches of DNA that control, or regulate, the genes.
The other 97% or so of the genome was said to be made up of “junk” DNA—so called because it had no known biological function.
Dr Hubbard said: “We are now seeing the majority of the rest of the genome is active to some extent.”
The reality is that human understanding of how genes actually control biological construction is woefully inadequate, albeit advancing more each year. Claims that genome similarity between chimps and humans “prove” evolution are not only misleading; they are based on a considerably immature field of science.
Beyond the chimp-human relatedness debate, this genomic revelation reminds us of the incredible information processing going on inside our bodies at each moment—information processing that puts human computing efforts to shame. Not only does evolution not explain how such intricate information could have evolved from scratch, it also fails to explain how such an advanced information-management system could have evolved before or concurrently with the information so that the genes could actually be “read” and used by cells. Design perfectly explains both the presence of such vast amounts of data and the awe-inspiring system used to decode it.
To find more on this latest discovery, return to this website in early July for a more in-depth article by AiG’s Dr. Georgia Purdom.
3. LiveScience: “Scientist: Fossilized Dinosaurs Died Agonizing Deaths”
Veterinarian-turned-paleontologist Cynthia Marshall Faux has a new hypothesis to explain the “often” awkward positions of fossilized dinosaurs. Faux and a colleague say brain damage and suffocation are likely culprits.
Previously, the unusual burial postures of such fossils as Archaeopteryx were thought to be due to the action of water currents repositioning dead dinosaurs, or the effect of rigor mortis and body desiccation “contorting” the carcasses.
However, that hypothesis failed to explain “[v]irtually all articulated specimens of Archaeopteryx,” which “[exhibit] a classic pose of head thrown back, jaws open, back and tail reflexed backward and limbs contracted,” explains Kevin Padian professor of integrative biology at the University of California–Berkeley. Sudden suffocation and burial explains the position and, as Padian puts it, cast “a whole new light on the mode of death of these animals, and interpretation of the places they died in.” Even so, Padian admits that many dinosaur fossils do indeed “show signs that the animal died in water and the current tugged the body into an arched position.”
Although the study authors point to volcanic activity as one possible cause for the creatures' asphyxiation, drowning also involves asphyxiation leading to hypoxia. What catastrophe would have led to mass drownings, consistent with both evidence of water currents moving carcasses and evidence of asphyxiation in since-fossilized creatures? A global flood, of course
Let’s just say that these scientists have done an excellent job helping corroborate the story of an extremely wet event that the Bible records, and no, it’s not the parting of the Red Sea! Read Genesis 6.
4. LiveScience: “Mystery Solved: Mars Had Large Oceans”
A study published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature supports the nearly two-decades-old idea that Mars hosted vast oceans more than two billion years ago. The study’s authors argue that “a massive toppling over of the planet” explains why Martian “shorelines” are hillier than was previously thought possible for former shorelines. Subsurface forces are thought to have caused the toppling, supposed to have started more than “a billion years ago.” The LiveScience report on the study does not explain how the scientists estimated the timeline of the shoreline’s disruption.
Nothing in the Bible rules out a Martian ocean (though God’s Word would certainly rule out the two-billion-year timeline), but it is interesting to see how planetary scientists have concluded, with relatively little evidence, that a planet with no liquid water once had giant oceans. (That’s not to say we disagree with all the conclusions.) Yet many of these same scientists scoff at the idea that earth—two-thirds of whose surface is currently underwater—was once covered due to a global flood, despite the earth’s extensive, water-carved geological features.
Of course, the idea of a Martian deluge is music to the ears of evolutionists who still have faith in the existence (past or present) of Martian life! For a closer look at the proposed Martian “flood,” see Was Noah a Martian?
As for our Search for Terrestrial Intelligence this week, Roger Highfield reports in the UK’s The Telegraph on the fervent views seven “leading British astronomers” have on extraterrestrial life. We’ve excerpted some of the more mind-bogglingly over-enthusiastic comments Highfield recorded in his article, titled “Aliens really do exist!” (Some paragraphs have been edited together.)
Prof John Zarnecki of The Open University bullishly told the minister: “My position is very simple. We will find extinct or some life in the solar system.” He believes primitive bugs, or their remains, will be found in 2015 when a European Space Agency mission will land on Mars to dig into its dusty red surface. […] And he has high hopes for a future mission to the icy moon Europa, the heart of which is warmed by tidal forces as it orbits Jupiter. “We shall find life on Europa in 2023,” he told us with determination.
One wonders if Professor Zarnecki has these discoveries predicted to the hour!
Prof Glenn White, of The Open University and Rutherford Appleton lab, said: “We are pretty sure that we will have an extremely high probability of telling you whether life has started on a planet. By around 2020 we will have very definitive answers.”
Professor White’s comment is interesting: they are pretty sure of determining whether life has started on a planet—implying that if it hasn’t (as, we believe, further examination will show), it’s merely a matter of time before the answer comes.
Sadly, Highfield apparently buys into the exuberance, rationalizing these astronomers’ eager claims by penning that, “Our own planet proves that life can flourish quickly.” In other words, the fuel for this wild speculation is (unsurprisingly) the presupposition that terrestrial life is the result of abiogenesis and eons of evolution.
Finally, the ESA’s Dr. Michael Perryman quips:
“If there is intelligent life out there, they sure as h--- know we are here.”
We’re sure our readers can imagine our response to that.
5. Business 2.0: “Product design, nature’s way”
Many of us love spending time in awe of God’s creation—whether in a nature park or at a zoo. The Creator’s designs range from awesome to ingenious to puzzling (or often all three!). But while some of us merely enjoy observing, there are others who seek a different goal: imitation.
A recent article in Business 2.0 outlines a number of innovations that have been prompted by “Mother Nature.” Among mentions of numerous “biomimicry” projects are three featured designs:
Sadly, many out there can comfortably speak of design in nature, but only when the designer is a vague, anthropomorphized “Mother Nature,” not the omnipotent God who spoke all of creation into existence.
Of course, these are just a few of the latest products based on God’s incredible designs. But who gets the credit for coming up with nautilus shells, boxfish, and butterfly wings? The article’s first sentence says it all:
For all their skill and technological prowess, human engineers still can’t match Mother Nature’s best designs.
Sadly, many out there can comfortably speak of design in nature, but only when the designer is a vague, anthropomorphized “Mother Nature,” not the omnipotent God who spoke all of creation into existence. As Romans 1:25 declares, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.”
It doesn’t sound like God will be receiving royalties (of any kind!) for His designs anytime soon.
6. The Cincinnati Enquirer: “‘Jurassic Park’ meets ‘The Passion of the Christ’”
Sunday’s Cincinnati Enquirer, one of the Creation Museum’s “hometown” papers, included an insightful and forthright Creation Museum write-up by Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson. The national media has been awash during the past month with various museum-related flotsam—ranging from the skeptical to the vulgar to the curious to the appreciative (and beyond)—and we have mentioned only a modicum of it.
Bronson’s piece, however, is an original, well-thought, humorous (at times) examination of one of the debates surrounding the Creation Museum. The author asks which group, creationists or evolutionists, are acting more in favor of debate and discussion of the origins question. Bronson characterized the protests and comments of such anti-creationist groups as DefCon as “religious intolerance,” contrasting their views with the Creation Museum’s fairer, more open treatment of creation and evolution:
[I]n many exhibits, [the Creation Museum presents] both sides— evolution vs. intelligent design. “Two paleontologists can work side by side and reach different conclusions,” one says, “because they have different starting points.”
So the evolutionist bone-digger finds skeletal remains of a Utahraptor dinosaur that died 125 million years ago—and the creationist finds evidence that it died 4,300 years ago.
Another exhibit said that the 1925 Scopes trial portrayed anti-evolution Christians as “close-minded, ignorant bigots,” and now the situation is “completely reversed.” Good point. Who sounds more like close-minded bigots today: a museum that says the Bible is true, or progressives who attack it like something from “Jurassic Park”?
(Bronson also comments on the amazingly lifelike animatronic dinosaurs and some self-referential caution signs in the museum.)
The Creation Museum has been the recipient of no small measure of vitriol, despite the fact that it is a privately funded museum, fully concordant with the First Amendment. Furthermore, Answers in Genesis has never been opposed to the teaching of evolution, for it is a dominant worldview in society that can’t be ignored, but is definitely against attempts to restrict the teaching of alternative views on man’s origin. Even so, our detractors act as though their goal is to censor the Bible’s message on creation (and, for that matter, what other Bible messages?).
Some are fond of pejoratively calling us “fundamentalists,” which, in one sense, we are. But when used maledictively to decry closed-minded adherents, who does “fundamentalist” apply to more: creationists or evolutionists?
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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