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1. LiveScience: “Selfless Chimps Shed Light on Evolution of Altruism”
An experiment conducted in the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda has provided possible support for chimp altruism, reports LiveScience on findings published in June 25’s PLoS Biology:
In experiments, each chimp watched a person they had never seen before unsuccessfully reach for a wooden stick that was within reach of the ape. The person had struggled over the stick beforehand, suggesting it was valued.
Scientists found the chimpanzees often handed the stick over, even when the apes had to climb eight feet out of their way to get the stick and regardless of whether or not any reward was given. A similar result with 36 human infants just 18 months old yielded comparable results.
However, the scientists realized that because the chimps in the sanctuary are fed by humans, “helping people out could simply be in their best interests.” In response, the researchers created a second experiment that tested whether chimps would help one another even when no reward was offered:
The researchers set up closed rooms that each held a piece of banana or watermelon. The only way for a chimp to get in was if an unrelated spectator ape released a chain to open the room. [The scientists] found the spectators often altruistically helped the other chimps get the fruit, even if they got no reward themselves[.]
Although it’s impossible to definitively ascertain the chimps’ motivation for this behavior, no tenet of creation science would rule out true altruism. Although animals, such as apes, were not formed in God’s image, it is possible some animals, including these chimps, are motivated by more than misplaced selfishness.
Of course, evolutionists characterize these experiments’ results as buttressing the idea that human altruism is, at least partially, a product of evolution:
These findings suggest the roots of human altruism go deeper than previously thought, reaching back as far as the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees.
Developmental and comparative psychologist Felix Warneken of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology further suggested that altruism is driven by evolution, claiming that “culture cultivates rather than implants the roots of altruism in the human psyche[.]”
Even ignoring the fact that all this opining is merely the result of interpreting these experiments through the lens of the evolutionary worldview, one wonders if these scientists make any room for true altruism: performed not due to the predetermined drive of genetic evolution nor simply in rote accordance with cultural constructs, but out of true devotion to selflessness that can only result from the immaterial realm. Evolutionists’ interpretations of findings such as these cheapen the meaning of “altruism” and compel one to ask what difference evolutionists see between biologically predetermined selflessness and biologically predetermined selfishness.
2. Reuters: “European rights body calls off creationism vote”
Monday in Strasbourg, France, Europe’s “main human rights body ... cancelled a scheduled vote on banning creationist and intelligent design views from school science classes, saying the proposed resolution was one-sided,” reports Reuters’ Gilbert Reilhac. The resolution targeted creation education that, it argued, is “rooted ‘in forms of religious extremism’ and amounted to a dangerous attack on scientific knowledge.”
The resolution, had it been passed by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, would not have been binding on the Council of Europe’s 47 member states. Even so, the resolution is indicative of growing efforts worldwide to vilify creationism and portray evolution education as absolutely “crucial” to the future of civilization. The proposed resolution, for instance, stated:
The teaching of all phenomena concerning evolution as a fundamental scientific theory is therefore crucial to the future of our societies and our democracies.
Answers in Genesis does not support the mandatory imposition of creation education in public school science curricula, nor the elimination of evolution education; we simply oppose the current censorship of problems with evolutionary theory and the all but naturalistic explanation of life’s origins and development as presented in public school science classes. Even that, it seems, has been enough to drive evolutionists in a frenzied panic; one can’t help but wonder why evolutionists are so afraid of presenting all the facts if their theory is, as they say, so robust.
See our Q&A: Education for more on this topic.
3. National Geographic News: “Giant Penguins Once Roamed Peru Desert, Fossils Show”
A new study by North Carolina State University paleontologist Julia Clarke and colleagues, published in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “unveils two new species of giant penguins” extrapolated from fossils discovered in Peru. According to National Geographic News, one species of the now extinct penguins stood about 4.5 ft (1.5 m) tall, while the other was closer to 3 ft (1 m).
Based on the “first complete skull [discovered] of a giant penguin,” the researchers concluded that the penguins may have engaged in “some kind of spearfishing.” But receiving the most press is the fact that these penguins lived near the equator during what evolutionary paleontologists believe was a warm period. “The finding counters another theory published last year suggesting that today’s penguins diversified all over the Earth during a cooling period,” according to National Geographic News.
While the old-earthers duke it out over the specifics of penguin migrations and habitat tolerances many dozens of alleged millions of years ago, we’d like to point out that, despite their differences, these giant penguins were still penguins, and show one of many possible adaptations God “built into” the original created penguin kind.
4. AP: “Gene Swap Changes Organism’s Species”
It’s a first in the field of genetics: scientists have altered one bacteria species into another by swapping bacterial genomes. An AP story describes the task:
For years, scientists have moved single genes and even large chunks of DNA from one species to another. But [the] team transplanted an entire genome, all of an organism’s genes, from one bacterium into another in one fell swoop. ... [S]omehow the new genes cleanly replaced the old and started working correctly—not very often, but in just enough cells to prove the concept.
The article notes that, although “the researchers [do not] know exactly how the transplant took hold,” it remains “a landmark in biological engineering,” according to Science deputy editor Barbara Jasny. And when the article describes the change as “working correct ... not very often,” it means it—only “about one in every 150,000 cells” was transformed properly!
Some scientists hope one day to use such methods to “build new organisms that work in ways totally different from what nature intended,” such as creating “artificial chromosome[s] ... that [contain] industrially useful genes such as ones that could help produce alternative fuels.”
The article closes with a cautionary note:
It’s not clear that the method would work on larger, more complicated bacteria, other specialists cautioned. Nor does the work automatically mean an artificial chromosome alone could activate a living cell.
“It’s going to be much more complicated to do with synthetic organisms,” said Dr. Jonathan Eisen, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Davis. Still, “it’s a great first step.”
Indeed, the world of genetics is almost bafflingly complex and a clear testimony to the handiwork of the Creator. Learn more about this topic in our Q&A: Genetics and Q&A: Information. How ironic if anyone believes this supports a materialistic origin to life when scientists intelligently transfer existing DNA, and yet have such a low success rate. In reality, they are affirming the idea of a Creator and showing how unlikely it is that life could have arisen by chance processes.
5. AP: “Lucy Fossil Approved for US Tour”
She’s one of the most famous—and oldest—prophets of evolution, according to many: Lucy, an Australopithecus afarensi discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 who may be coming to a museum near you if you live in the United States (see our previous coverage in They Love Lucy).
This Wednesday, the U.S. State Department approved a U.S. tour for the allegedly 3.2-million-year-old Lucy, who is hailed by evolutionists as the “earliest known hominid” and, according to (U.S.) National Natural History Museum spokesman Randall Kremer, “one of the most important specimens relating to human origins in the world.”
Perhaps it’s a surprise, then, that Kremer speaks on behalf of Smithsonian scientists who feel that Lucy is “too valuable for the stresses of travel” and should stay in her Ethiopian home. For that reason, Lucy won’t visit the National Natural History Museum; she will, however, be on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science from August 31, 2007, through April 20, 2008, in addition to other, as-yet-unannounced tour stops (possibly Washington, Denver, and Chicago).
The most intriguing quotation in the AP story comes from Dick Van Tuerenhout, curator of anthropology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Referring to his museum’s upcoming display of Lucy, he explained,
“If you are able to showcase an original fossil, then you have a story, then you have a point of attraction that will bring in the most number of people, and then you can tell them that story.”
Although AiG’s Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio, is home to a replica of Lucy, not the real thing, we certainly have a story to tell and plenty of exhibits—fossils and otherwise—that should attract any visitor who wants to hear “the other side” of the Lucy story!
6. BBC NEWS: “Lost WWII plane finally due in UK”
“An American fighter plane will be arriving in Britain from the United States next week—65 years after taking off,” reports BBC news on last week’s arrival of a World War II–era P-38 Lightning in Duxford, England.
The P-38’s 1942 flight to the U.K. ended when bad weather forced the pilot to land the plane on one of Greenland’s glaciers. Although the pilot—along with the 24 other airmen from seven other planes forced down—were rescued shortly thereafter, the planes were left and summarily buried under 300 ft (91 m) of ice.
While this story may seem like little more than curious historical trivia, it actually connects directly to the eons old-earthers see in ice cores drilled in such places as Greenland and Antarctica. First, Michael Oard describes how old-earthers use ice cores to argue for a timeline much longer than the bible clearly allows:
Many ice cores have been drilled deep into both the Antarctica and Greenland ice sheets since the 1960s .... It is observed today that these ice sheets incorporate dust, acids, pollution, etc. that cycle with the seasons. Near the top of the ice sheets, annual layers can be distinguished by measuring the many variables related to the seasons. ... [G]laciologists further claim that they can count the annual layers downward ... they arrive at 110,000 years for the top 90 percent of the ice sheet.
But, as Oard goes on to explain in Do ice cores show many tens of thousands of years?, a biblical interpretation of the ice—one that takes into account such factors as the Flood and related events—“can account for the current prominence of the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets during a short Ice Age of about 700 years and the present climate for another 3,700 years.”
Furthermore, Oard includes the story of the eight World War II craft that emergency-landed in Greenland (though his source, an article published in Engineering Report, reported the planes’ depth of burial as 260 ft [80 m]). Oard writes:
[The planes] are at this depth because of the high precipitation that covered them. Such high precipitation is not typical for the remainder of the ice sheet, but gives us a hint of the possibilities when the ice sheet was much lower and the climate much different in the Ice Age.
The planes’ depth of coverage provides clear evidence that the uniformitarian assumptions underlying old-earth ice-core dating methods are shaky at best. Even so, old-earthers continue to tout ice cores as a “direct [measure] of the [old] age of the 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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