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1. BBC NEWS: “Finds test human origins theory”
Evolutionists are busy rewriting the story of the evolution of humankind, reports the BBC’s James Urquhart. Two hominid fossils from Kenya have prompted the revisions, which entail a new hypothesized evolutionary relationship between Homo habilis and Homo erectus, as claimed in the journal Nature.
Until these recent revelations, Homo habilis was believed by evolutionists to have been the direct predecessor of Homo erectus; the latter was also considered the immediate predecessor of Homo sapiens. The latest evolutionary speculation, however, is that Homo habilis and Homo erectus were “sister species that overlapped in time” rather than successive members of the hominid sequence.
At the center of this revised account of human evolutionary history is what has been labeled the youngest specimen of Homo habilis ever found—or, to be more precise, a jawbone found in Kenya and “attributed to Homo habilis because of its distinctive primitive dental characteristics.” The broken maxilla was dated to approximately 1.44 million years ago.
Meanwhile, evolutionists have assigned to the Homo erectus category a skull comparable in size to those of Homo habilis. The BBC explains that, despite its diminutiveness, the skull belongs in the Homo erectus category because it “displayed typical features of erectus such as a gentle ridge called a ‘keel’ running over the top of the jaw joint.” Scientists dated the skull to 1.55 million years old.
Of course, 1.55 million years is a bit larger than 1.44 million years, and thus, based on their own old-earth dating techniques—dating techniques that are as much assumption and convenience as science—these scientists were forced to acknowledge an overlap between Homo habilis and Homo erectus. This overlap, of course, severely (though not completely) undermines the hypothesis that the latter evolved from the former.
Why not “completely”? Fred Spoor, a University College London professor of developmental biology and coauthor of the Nature paper, throws out one hypothesis:
“It’s always possible that Homo habilis lived, let’s say, 2.5 million years ago and then in another part of Africa, away from the Turkana basin, an isolated population evolved into Homo erectus. [...] But that is a much more complex proposition,” Professor Spoor explained, “the easiest way to interpret these fossils is that there was an ancestral species that gave rise to both of them somewhere between two and three million years ago.”
So, in other words, the “easiest” way to interpret the discovery is that the story of human evolution as presented in books, museums, and classrooms for decades is wrong according to evolutionists themselves! The question is, then, after such reversals, does the ordinary individual view with any greater skepticism evolutionists’ stock teaching? For example, after this complete reversal, how much faith will people place in this evolutionary assurance:
The fossil record indicates that modern humans (Homo sapiens) evolved from Homo erectus.
Sadly, it seems that even these substantial revisions in the evolutionary story are quickly recast as the irrefutable, unchallengeable “facts” to be presented in books, museums, and classrooms. In fact, the AP version of the story strives to allay fears that these continual upheavals undermine the tale of human evolution:
Susan Anton, a New York University anthropologist and co-author of the Leakey work, said she expects anti-evolution proponents to seize on the new research, but said it would be a mistake to try to use the new work to show flaws in evolution theory.
“This is not questioning the idea at all of evolution; it is refining some of the specific points,” Anton said. “This is a great example of what science does and religion doesn't do. It’s a continous self-testing process.”
It seems amazing that the authors of the work have to tell the reader how to interpret and not interpret their results; it’s as if they are saying, “Because we are obviously smarter than you, you can only see these results the way we want you to.” Furthermore, if evolutionary science is truly “self-testing,” then why is evolution itself somehow beyond this testing? The more evidence comes to light that the story of evolution is—just that—a story, the more evolutionists do everything but test the theory. Anton is right in one regard, however. Historical science is not like religion (especially materialism masquerading as historical science): historical science that excludes God depends upon the limited, fallible understanding of humans, whereas biblical Christianity depends upon the accurate, reliable, eye-witness account given by the One who was actually there.
2. BBC News: “Ancient microbes ‘revived’ in lab”
Microbes thought by some to be as old as eight million years are now alive and well (along with their progeny) in a lab at Rutgers University, reports the BBC. Recovered from Antarctica, the microbes were melted out of five samples of glacial ice that have been dated with old-earth methods to as “recent” as 100,000 years before present and as old as the aforementioned eight million years. Of course, we happen to disagree with the unbiblical, uniformitarian assumptions that prop up such dating methods.
So what’s the point of this Frankensteinian project, whose details appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences? Well, first, it’s portrayed as an omen of what a global warm-up could “unleash”:
The findings raise the possibility that ancient bugs, long frozen in ice, will return to life as climate change causes the glaciers to melt, flushing their genetic material into the oceans.
However, experts say this process has been going on for billions of years, and is unlikely to cause human disease.
(If you haven’t read Answers in Genesis’ cautionary view on global warming, be sure to visit Michael Oard’s Global Warming.)
But perhaps more interesting is the researchers’ conclusion that the bugs’ resuscitation has put a freeze on the “life came from space” idea, known as panspermia to astrobiologists:
The team suggests that because DNA in the old ice samples had degraded so much in response to exposure to cosmic radiation, life on Earth is unlikely to have hitched a ride on a comet or on debris from outside the Solar System—as some scientists have suggested.
Despite the discovery, scientists—such as study coauthor David Marchant of Boston University—haven’t given up on the “life in space” idea:
“The other thing that’s interesting about this is the connection to Mars. There’s near-surface ice on Mars where the surface landform looks identical to what you’ll see in [Antarctica’s] Beacon Valley.”
So, while still eager at the prospect of extraterrestrial life, evolutionary scientists are now faced with research by some of their own that contradicts the panspermia hypothesis. For more information about life in or from space, see our Get Answers: Alien Life and UFOs.
3. National Geographic News: “Photo in the News: Rare Fossil Trees Found in Hungary”
“Eight million years old” seems to be the most popular age of major discoveries this week; in addition to Antarctic microbes, fossilized trees in northeastern Hungary have been found recently that are part of an “eight-million-year-old swamp cypress forest.”
National Geographic News describes the 16 trees as an “oddity” because “they did not petrify, or turn to stone, as preserved trees usually do [but instead,] retain[ed] their original wood.”
While National Geographic News did not publish any significant details on the find (presumably because it is a new discovery and has not yet been studied in detail by paleontologists), the idea of eight-million-year-old wood certainly raises an eyebrow. In fact, the find reminds us of another “incredible” fossil find: the allegedly 65-million-year-old T. rex soft tissue found a few years back.
Now, as then, old-earthers are forced to stand behind uniformitarian doctrine and dating methods, despite their shock at the find, rather than letting their whole house of cards topple.
4. LiveScience: “New Fossils Support Deep-Sea Origin of Life”
If eight-million-year-old microbes and trees weren’t enough, though, what about 1.43-billion-year-old fossilized habitats of deep-sea microbes? LiveScience’s Dave Mosher reports this week on supposedly ancient black smoker chimneys—naturally occurring, microbial-housing chimneys that are, interestingly enough, nearly identical to the “archaea- and bacteria-harboring structures found today on sea beds.”
For no apparent reason other than their supposed age, Timothy Kusky, a Saint Louis University geologist, believes these chimneys “offer ‘tantalizing suggestions’ that life developed near deep-sea hydrothermal vents and not in shallow seas, as other evidence hints.”
Of course, there seem to be several problems with Kusky’s hypothesis. First and foremost, of course, is the old-earth dogma used to date the chimneys; the proverbial rug would be pulled out from under Kusky’s feet if the chimneys were “only” half their supposed age, let alone as young as the Bible indicates.
Secondly, the article seems to clumsily conflate the existence of these chimneys with the existence of life to inhabit them. For example, the article explains:
Black smoker chimneys develop at submerged openings in the Earth’s crust that spew out mineral-rich water as hot as 752 degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Celsius). Bacteria that don’t depend on sunlight or oxygen move into the fragile chimneys that grow around the vents and feed on the dissolved minerals.
Yet the article gives no indication that fossils of the actual microbes themselves are left; merely of these chimneys: “‘These are remnants of the oldest living types of life forms on the planet,’ said Timothy Kusky[.]” Jumping to conclusions about the life in such chimneys would seem to be driven more by presuppositions than by actual science.
Finally, and as the article points out, this discovery goes against other evolutionary ideas for the origin of life—that it developed in shallow waters, in dome-shaped clumps of bacteria called stromatolites.
Thankfully, geologist and American Museum of Natural History (New York) curator Ed Mathez unrealizingly sums up the vacancy of evolutionists’ ideas for the natural origin of life on earth:
“They tell us life existed that long ago, but as to where it originated remains an open question,” Mathez said.
Mathez pointed out that black smoker fossils are just as inconclusive about the origin of life, but added that the new finding significantly pushes back the known reign of deep-sea microbes.
It seems evolutionists continue to say something to the effect of, “We don’t know exactly how it happened, nor exactly when, nor exactly where, except that it was without God’s help, it was a very long time ago, and it wasn’t in any Garden of Eden”!
Be sure to read up on the question of life’s origin in our Get Answers section devoted to the topic.
Our own Dr. Georgia Purdom was recently interviewed for the internet “book” Darwin or Design. The book, authored by The Sci Phi Show’s Jason Rennie, is an examination of the origins debate, and, specifically, the controversy over the idea of intelligent design. For her part, Dr. Purdom weighs in on what the ID movement is and is not. You can read more from Dr. Purdom about this topc in Is the intelligent design movement Christian?
While the book does not allow much room for young-earth creationists, it does give voice to many different schools of thought and allows Darwin dissenters to be heard (something we have often discussed in the past). If you’re interested in reading a book that highlights a variety of perspectives on (and presuppositions behind) the origins debate, you may want to check it out. You can get the book a number of ways, including free chapter-by-chapter audio downloads.
By the way, if you are looking for information on what the Bible says about origins (and how real science supports Scripture), be sure to check out our on-line bookstore, filled with invaluable resources for learning to defend not only a recent, six-day creation but also the Bible as a whole—and resources for educating the whole 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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