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Sir Isaac Newton, physicist, mathematician ... Bible believer? Making headlines this week is a new exhibit in Jerusalem that, for the first time ever, gives the public a glimpse of documents that highlight the “religious intensity of a man many consider history’s greatest scientist.” An Associated Press story explains:
Newton [...] is known for laying much of the groundwork for modern physics, astronomy, math and optics. But [...] he appears as a scholar of deep faith who also found time to write on Jewish law [...] and combing [sic] the Old Testament’s Book of Daniel for clues about the world’s end.
One particular manuscript receiving significant attention shows that Newton speculated on the date of the apocalypse, concluding the world’s end would occur later than the year 2060. Newton, however, explains the motivation for his prediction as
not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail.
Newton’s religious activity is neither surprising nor obscure. Newton clearly asserted his belief both in God the Creator and in the Bible as God’s Word
Other documents include Newton’s exposition that the Jews would return to their homeland, his elaborate examinations of the Jewish temple plan, and—more pedestrian—some of his bookkeeping.
To many, such as us here at Answers in Genesis, Newton’s religious activity is neither surprising nor obscure. Newton clearly asserted his belief both in God the Creator and in the Bible as God’s Word, writing, “I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.” Newton used his religious views as a springboard to understanding natural laws, showing that science and faith in the historically accurate Word of God are not diametric opposites, but rather—when properly understood—are complementary and corroborate one another.
For this reason, there are thousands of Christian scientists (such as those listed on our website) who conduct excellent scientific research not by diluting or compartmentalizing their faith, but by understanding science as an outgrowth of an orderly, understandable universe created by the God who also created logic. [Editor’s note: for more on this topic, see Feedback: A Reader Challenges Our Claim of a Logical, God-Created Universe.]
Of course, the influence of secular scientists—who see religion as an undesirable legacy of a sometimes mischaracterized pre-scientific past—is easily discerned in this AP article: “The Newton papers [...] also complicate the idea that science is diametrically opposed to religion.” Newton’s centuries-honored science and God-honoring faith, in many ways, are exhibit A in countering that common belief.
2. ScienceNOW: “Placental Mammals Climb a New Tree”
We’re not as old as we thought—or so paleontologist John Wible of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and colleagues have concluded about the origin of mammals. Opposing the date of 140–80 million years old that some scientists ascribe to our (supposed) oldest mammalian ancestors, Wible, et al., conclude, based on an analysis of a shrewlike fossil, that mammals evolved “only” 65 million years ago. A ScienceNOW article elaborates:
In 1997, the team unearthed the jaw and parts of the backbone, ribs, skull, and limbs of a shrewlike species, which they named Maelestes gobiensis. By comparing 400 morphological features [...] in the new fossil with those in 68 other specimens, the researchers have now placed the 73-million-year-old creature in the Eutherian evolutionary tree, an umbrella group that includes placental mammals.
But the new data have forced the team to redraw the tree. According to the new tree, the first placental mammals appeared around 65 million years ago, not 100 million years ago or more, as some molecular data have suggested. What's more, the new tree indicates that these mammals very quickly diversified into the modern groups, close to the downfall of the dinosaurs[.]
While purportedly refining the mammalian branch of the tree of life, the study has actually exposed one of the problems underlying old-age paleontological extrapolations into the history of life on earth. The article casually notes that “DNA evidence places the first placental mammals anywhere from 140 million to 80 million years ago,” even though Wible’s team’s conclusions flatly contradict this window. Notice that dates such as these are rigid and non-negotiable, “proven by science” when brought up in a debate over evolution and creation, but evolutionary scientists conveniently ignore these dates when they fly in the face of their research.
But Stephen O’Brien, an evolutionary biologist with the National Cancer Institute, “criticizes Wible and colleagues for not factoring in the genetic evidence”:
“I think their data are okay, but their global interpretation and hypotheses are anything but supported [by the data],” he says.
So when the evolutionary “evidence”—genetic and fossil evidence, in this case—fail to mesh and instead leave a 15-million-year (minimum!) contradiction, do any scientists admit that they may be wrong? Are the genetic dating method or the paleontological dating methods criticized or questioned? We’ll let Wible explain his reaction to the contradiction:
Both molecular and fossil studies have their shortcomings, says Wible, but by analyzing lots of characters in lots of species, he is convinced his tree is trustworthy.
3. ScienceDaily: “Neanderthal Man Was An Innovator”
Move over, ignoramus troglodytes, and make room for Neandertal man, the “innovator” who “was not as stupid as has been made out,” reports ScienceDaily (in not so many words). Despite the ever-so-common caricatures of Neandertals as dull-witted hominids who were supplanted by more industrious, intelligent Homo sapiens, so-called Neandertals have been increasingly vindicated from this stereotype.
Joining in the vindication is a new study by University of Leicester archaeology lecturer Terry Hopkinson, who argues that “early Neanderthals were devising new stone tool technologies and also coming to terms with ecological challenges [... as well as] combin[ing] old stone tool technologies in innovative ways to create new ways of working stone.” Hopkinson handily summarizes the view that (interestingly enough) creationists have been positing for some time:
“Neanderthals have typically been thought of as incapable of innovation, as it was assumed to be something unique to Homo sapiens. With this evidence of innovation it becomes difficult to exclude Neanderthals from the concept of humanity.”
It’s an exceedingly common “evidence” of evolution that this website (and this column) has countered on numerous occasions: drug (mostly in terms of antibiotic) resistance, which is usually construed as a proof of molecules-to-man evolution.
You’ll be glad to read, then, that we’re not going to deal with that again. Well, not exactly.
[email protected] reports on the influenza virus’s 90% resistance to a “powerful group of antiviral drugs, the adamantane family”—a resistance previously blamed on the use (some might say “overuse”) of the aforementioned drugs. Now, a study that began with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that use of adamantane drugs may not be responsible for influenza’s immunity, but that instead, influenza may have “‘accidentally’ hit on drug resistance through natural evolution. The article explains:
To better understand [the CDCP result], a team of researchers led by the National Institutes of Health [...] examined a large international collection of viral genomes. They found that a single type of mutation was responsible for every case of resistance they studied. “If pressure from admantane [sic] use was behind this, we would have expected to see all possible resistance point mutations appear, but we only saw one,” says [epidemiologist ] Lone Simonsen[.]
While the article does not elaborate further on the nature of the mutation (other than to describe it as having “hitch-hiked along with other genes that allowed the virus to escape immunologic detection”), it appears that this is like other mutations leading to antibiotic resistance via natural selection, and probably resulted in a decrease in genetic information “through a series of 'bottlenecks' that restrict the populations' ability to survive.” Such mutations could happen for an infinite period of time yet would never result in the information-gaining that is necessary for simple life to evolve in complexity.
5. ScienceDaily: “Human Genetic ‘Deserts’ Are Teeming With Significant Life”
Following on the heels of a similar announcement last week (see last week’s News to Note, item 2) is a report by the same group, Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (Encode), that “areas of the human genome previously thought to be deserts are in fact teeming with life,” metaphorically underscoring the new levels of complexity scientists are discovering in the human genome:
Most known human genes in the genome map are still incompletely annotated, says Professor Alexandre Reymond [...]. “We found that the vast majority of the protein coding genes we studied utilised often in a tissue-specific manner previously unknown set of exons [...] outside the current boundaries of the annotated genes,” Professor Reymond [said].
What does this seeming mumbo-jumbo of genomic discovery boil down to? Reymond breaks it down:
“I will be surprised if we do not find the same kind of variety in these structures,” he says. “Our work has shown that the human genome is far more complex than anyone could have imagined, even ten years ago. Understanding these complexities is essential to the development of effective and safe genetic medicine in the future.”
Reymond’s description of the almost ineffably sophisticated human genome (not merely more complex than anyone knew, but more complex “than anyone could have imagined”!) hammers home the depth of the amazing information-storing, -retrieving, -interpreting, and -manipulating system inside our bodies—a system whose origin defies explanation by improbable chance. One has to wonder how much evolutionary indoctrination has hampered research into the genome with fallacious ideas about so-called evolutionary leftovers.
6. ScienceDaily: “Plant Life On Extrasolar Earthlike Planets Could Be Black”
A press release from Washington University in St. Louis speculates as to the color of potential extraterrestrial plants:
It could be the plants are black, says Robert Blankenship, [professor] at Washington University [...].
Unsurprisingly, Blankenship admits a sort of “collaborative faith” in finding extraterrestrial planets that may harbor life:
“I think that everyone thinks that there are Earth-like ones out there, but very few have been detected so far,” he said.
After explaining that DNA may not be found on other worlds, Blankenship adds, “It’s intriguing to speculate, and I think we’ll know more when we get more clues.” While we don’t mind speculation and imagination, it appears that this new field of exoplanetary exploration is fueled by little more than evolutionists’ faith that life has evolved on other planets—“just like it did on earth.”
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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