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1. “Cassini Finds Hydrocarbons on Saturn's Moon Hyperion

Our ongoing Search for Terrestrial Intelligence turns up a new source of hyperactivity this week: NASA scientists’ recent assertion that Saturn’s moon Hyperion is home to “cup-like craters filled with hydrocarbons that may indicate more widespread presence in our solar system of basic chemicals necessary for life.” This assertion is based on a 2005 Cassini flyby of Hyperion, as recounts:

[E]ven if the substances are hydrocarbons, that would be a far cry from the existence of life (as Cruikshank points out), just as finding a pile of steel is considerably different than finding an automobile.
Hyperion yielded some of its secrets to the battery of instruments aboard Cassini as the spacecraft flew close by in September 2005. Water and carbon dioxide ices were found, as well as dark material that fits the spectral profile of hydrocarbons.

This “dark material” has some scientists giddy; NASA planetary scientist Dale Cruikshank, lead author of a Nature paper on the flyby’s observations, offers his view:

“These molecules, when embedded in ice and exposed to ultraviolet light, form new molecules of biological significance. This doesn’t mean that we have found life, but it is a further indication that the basic chemistry needed for life is widespread in the universe.”

Of course, the scientists not only have not found life; they also have not found organic molecules, but merely material that fits hydrocarbons’ spectral profiles; even if the substances are hydrocarbons, that would be a far cry from the existence of life (as Cruikshank points out), just as finding a pile of steel is considerably different than finding an automobile.

As for any evolutionists who would cite finds such as this as evidence against divine creation, we simply question the implication that the Creator was forbidden from creating certain molecules wherever He wished.

In related Search for Terrestrial Intelligence news, take a peek at an article explaining how a glimpse “before the big bang” may be possible according to one physicist. With the big bang already leaning on shaky science and unprovable assumptions, we’d say it’s a noticeable contradiction for researchers who supposedly repudiate the “faith” inherent in creation science to take such overt leaps of faith themselves—into their own “time before time.”

2. AP: “Chinese Villagers Eat Dinosaur Bones

In a story that borders on humor, despite its doubtless gravity in the eyes of paleontologists, Chinese villagers have reportedly been consuming dinosaur bones, “believing they were from flying dragons and had healing powers.”

In a practice that, according to the Associated Press, has lasted “at least two decades,”

[t]he calcium-rich bones were sometimes boiled with other ingredients and fed to children as a treatment for dizziness and leg cramps. Other times they were ground up and made into a paste that was applied directly to fractures and other injuries, he said.

While we certainly can’t say anything in support of supposed healing powers of dinosaur bones, we are quite interested in the villagers’ belief that the bones were from flying dragons. Even as evolutionists scoff at the idea that anything less than tens of millions of years separated the last dinosaurs and the earliest humans, we see repeated indications that the dragon legends that abound in human history are more than coincidental descriptions of dinosaurs and pterosaurs; rather, they clearly support the contemporaneousness of humans and these ancient beasts.

For more on this topic, see Dragons: animals ... not apparitions and the rest of our Dinosaur Q&A. And while you’re at it, pay a visit to the Creation Museum’s Dragon Hall Bookstore and Dinosaur Den.

3. AFP: “Horse or zebra? Unusual zebrula draws crowds to zoo

Visitors to Germany’s Safaripark zoo are in for a treat: a zebrula whose coat is “sharply divided between horse and zebra,” according to an Agence France-Presse news release. Of course, for most, any zebrula is intriguing (once they learn what a zebrula is, that is!)

Zebrulas, as the release explains, are crosses between horses and zebras, and are known to “have been in existence since the 19th century.” This particular zebrula, named Eclyse, has a zebra’s head and hindquarters while the rest is white. Yahoo! offers photos and video of the almost surreal creature.

Such combinations as the zebrula, the liger, and the wholphin are fascinating reminders of the original created animal kinds. Broader than current species and many genera, the original created kinds have speciated through natural selection and mutations into the vast diversity of life we see today. Note that this is a “down-hill,” information-losing process that contradicts the information-gaining hydrocarbon-to-horse evolution that is popularly assumed.

Understanding the idea of created kinds is also important to understanding the reality of Genesis; for example, see How did all the animals fit on Noah's Ark? to learn how representatives of the original created kinds could have easily fit on Noah’s Ark.

4. ScienceDaily: “Understanding Smooth Eye Pursuit: The Incredible Targeting System Of Human Vision

“Our experience of the world normally appears quite seamless, but in fact our brain sees many aspects separately and knits them together into one experience of the world,” explains University of Pennsylvania postdoctoral fellow Jeremy Wilmer, lead author of a study published in the current issue of Neuron. Wilmer and Harvard University psychologist Ken Nakayama examined the complex equation of “how the brain and eye team up to spot an object in motion and follow it,” discerning two separate but complementary mental mechanisms of motion detection that constituted a “range of capabilities when it came to sensing and following motion” for volunteers. A ScienceDaily story adapted from a University of Pennsylvania press release explains the mechanisms:

The first, called low-level motion perception, is the sense one gets of disembodied motion before knowing what is moving. The second, called high-level motion perception, is the ability to watch an object move through time and space after it has been recognized.

Of course, humans are usually entirely unaware of these complex coordinations between the eye and the mind, as the seeming simplicity of the stitched-together visual experience belies the sophistication that powers it. Even so, the incredible design behind the functioning of the amazing eye (to learn more, see—for a start—“Our eye movements and their control,” parts 1 and 2.

5. [email protected]: “Smart apes spit

Move over, Homo sapiens: recent experimental results suggest orangutans may be superior to humans when it comes to using spit to solve complex problems. You heard it right! [email protected]’s Louis Buckley explains the experiment:

Faced with a vertical transparent tube, a quarter filled with water, in which a peanut floats tantalizingly beyond reach, what should you do? Five orang-utans from Leipzig Zoo in Germany all came to the same conclusion. Taking mouthfuls of water from a nearby bottle, they spat into the tube until the peanut floated into reach.

There’s even a video of one clever orangutan spitting out a solution. Study leader Natacha Mendes from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology was reportedly “amazed” at the apes’ ingenuity, opining that “[i]f you asked someone in an office to solve this problem many people wouldn’t be able to give a quick answer, and some probably wouldn’t be able to figure it out at all.” Mendes further “suggests that the orangutans had to think at a more abstract level” to solve the peanut problem. It is interesting to note how the evolutionist mindset can tend to lower the worth and perceived ability of humans. As creationists we could, rather, honor the Creator for the intelligence bestowed upon many animals and for the amazing diversity of the animal kingdom.

6. ScienceDaily: “Altruistic Rats: First Evidence For Generalized Reciprocal Cooperation In Non-humans

It’s not only orangutans who are impressing researchers and news readers this week; charitable rats are making headlines after a study published in PLoS Biology proffers evidence that “rats who received help in the past were more likely to help another unknown partner.” This is the first evidence in non-humans of “reciprocal altruism,” helpful acts that are “contingent upon the likelihood of getting help in return.” A PLoS press release adapted by ScienceDaily explains:

In this study, Norway rats received help gaining food from a partner who pulled a stick to produce the food. Rats could therefore be grouped into two classes: those that had previously received help and those that had not. The rats who had previously been helped were then more likely to help another unknown partner receive food.

The find is certainly intriguing, although the press release gives it an evolutionary interpretation (unsurprisingly). First stating that such reciprocal altruism in humans can be explained “by cultural experience as well as by natural selection,” the release adds that “if similar reactions to anonymous experience can be found in non human animals [such as was found], an evolutionary explanation would be far more likely.”

Of course, reciprocal altruism—which is not truly altruistic, since it is performed out of selfish expectation for reciprocity—can be explained without evolution; reciprocal altruism is just one tactic for getting what one wants or needs, and such tactics (respectable and otherwise) have been around since the Fall (Genesis 3) or longer.

True altruism, on the other hand, is done without any expectation or hope for reward. Such altruism lacks an evolutionary explanation. In this way, the millions of people who inconvenience themselves without compensation doing charitable work are a testament to a moral law that compels some humans to unselfish action—and flies in the face of evolution’s central tenet of self-help. Of course, the most perfect case of altruism is given by Christ, who laid down His life for those that hated Him and could benefit Him in no way, praise God.

7. cnews: “Most [Canadians] see God in creation process: poll

It’s either good or bad, exciting or embarrassing news from Canada: a new poll from Canadian Press-Decima Research that “suggests that 60 per cent of Canadians believe God had either a direct or indirect role in creating mankind, shattering the myth that Canadians had long ago put their faith strictly behind the scientific explanation for creation.” A Canadian Press story elaborates:

The poll suggests Canadians divide in essentially three groups on the issue of creation: 34 per cent of those polled said humans developed over millions of years under a process guided by God; 26 per cent said God created humans alone within the last 10,000 years or so; and 29 per cent said they believe evolution occurred with no help from God.

To Canadians who fit in any of the above categories: join AiG’s Ken Ham and Mike Riddle next month in Huntsville, Ontario! The largest group from the poll would benefit from learning that the only true God as revealed in the Bible (if that's the one they had in mind) and evolution are incompatible.

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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