1. BBC News: “Man Kills Eight at Finnish School”
In Finland this week, a teenager killed eight students and then himself at a high school. The shooter was motivated by his “social Darwinist” views.
Eighteen-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen opened fire in Jokela High School earlier this week, killing five boys, two girls, and the school’s female principal, then firing on police before shooting himself in the head.
The tragedy was premeditated by Auvinen, who posted a video on YouTube within the past two weeks titled “Jokela high school massacre 11/7/2007.” In the video (which has since been removed), the killer brandished a pistol and “called himself a ‘social Darwinist’ who would ‘eliminate all who I see unfit.’” The video shows the killer wearing a shirt that reads “humanity is overrated” in all-caps.
As is the case during any tragedy, our sympathies and prayers extend to the people and families affected. That said, there is also, sadly, even more reason to conclude that the underlying cause of much school violence, including the infamous Columbine shootings, is students taking Darwinism to its logical conclusion.
AiG’s Bodie Hodge takes a closer look at how Darwinism was behind the Finnish school shootings in “Finland School Shootings: The Sad Evolution Connection.”
For other full-length examinations of the questions behind school violence, take a look at Ken Ham’s “How Could a Loving God ... ?” and Mark Looy’s “The ‘Why?’ Question—Why Is School Violence in the Headlines Again?”
And, again, we offer our prayers for those affected by this tragedy.
2. ScienceNOW: “Sleeping Giant Grows Restless”
Geologists working in Yellowstone National Park have discovered that the Yellowstone Valley is rising more than three times faster than “usual,” reports ScienceNOW on research published in the journal Science.
Yellowstone sits above a giant volcano, the Yellowstone caldera, whose last eruption left a 2,400 sq. km. crater that contains Yellowstone Lake. The geological “hot spot” deep inside the earth that fuels the volcano is still active, which has scientists wondering what’s up. This activity is evidenced by the three-fold increased rate at which the valley is rising.
Three times faster than usual isn’t actually that fast, though; the jump has been from two centimeters per year (the average from 1923 to 2004) up to seven centimeters over the past three years. The rate intrigues scientists, though other signs indicate there is no need to worry about an eruption.
Somewhat dramatic changes of the valley’s growth rate should remind us that nature is fickle and far from uniform. The idea of mostly uniform rates of change—including both erosion and formation of geologic structures—is central to secular science’s methods of dating canyons, mountain ranges, and the like. Secular scientists generally extrapolate backward into the past using present rates to help them derive such ages.
But what does it tell you about the accuracy of such extrapolations when measurements can triple (or more) unexpectedly and without explanation? As humans, we only have a very limited understanding of geological processes—which is, for example, why scientists are puzzled about Yellowstone’s current growth phase. This is all in addition to the wrench that catastrophes, such as floods, throw in the works of geological uniformitarianism.
The past is, ultimately, inaccessible to us. Extrapolations into the past must be based on presuppositions. For naturalists, the presupposition is that geological processes must have functioned basically the same, and at similar rates, since earth’s early history. For creationists, the presupposition is that God’s account of earth history—as presented in Genesis—shapes (pardon the pun) our understanding of geology.
Furthermore, when we creationists—time and time again—observe catastrophic geological processes that reform the earth’s exterior in a short period of time, and when we creationists see rates of change in nature fluctuate dramatically, we conclude that such data makes sense in light of the timeline of history the Bible gives us. A trickle of water may take millions of years to carve a canyon—but only if that trickle of water never became a raging torrent. It’s not that the idea of catastrophic formation is so unthinkable; it’s that the presuppositions of naturalists close their minds to the possibility of a worldwide catastrophe (Flood) that can account for much of earth’s geology without needing millions of years.
For a fully documented account of catastrophic canyon formation (up to 80 ft [24 m] deep in three days), see the October 13, 2007, News to Note, item #2.
Oh, and if you would like to learn more about the accuracy of dating the earth using radioisotopes, take a look at “RATE: Overturning Millions of Years.”
3. BBC News: “Toads Are ‘Open-minded’ about Sex”
Research published in the journal Science details how some female toads violate an “evolutionary rule.” Perhaps no one has told them about it!
The University of North Carolina’s Karen Pfenning discovered that under certain conditions, female spadefoot toads will voluntarily breed with the males of other species rather than staying with their own.
More specifically, Pfenning learned that female spadefoots (S. bombifrons), which live in small ponds, will mate with the closely related D. multiplicata toad even when S. bombifrons males are available. The behavior takes places when ponds become shallow.
Why the “betrayal”? A small pond is at risk for drying out completely, which would kill any tadpoles growing inside of it. S. bombifrons tadpoles develop more slowly than those of D. multiplicata, and the longer development period raises the risk that they will be left high and dry, so to speak, by falling water levels.
The hybrid tadpoles produced by a female S. bombifrons and a male D. multiplicata, however, take after their father, developing rapidly. There is therefore less risk that the pond will dry out during their development.
This news may seem interesting only as a biological oddity. In actuality, it highlights the problem with the definition of species.
The problem is there are numerous examples of “hybrid” offspring that result from a member of one species breeding with a member of another species. Sometimes the interbreeding even transcends the genus level, such as in the cases of the wholphin (whale + dolphin), liger (lion + tiger), and zebrula (horse + zebra).
Intriguing combinations that they are, such hybrids—including, even, the lowly S. bombifrons + D. multiplicata hybrid—remind us of the original created kinds. Broader than current species and many genera, the original created kinds have since speciated through natural selection and mutations into the vast diversity of life we see today. Along the way, they have lost genetic information, which means that some can no longer breed with other members of their own original kind.
Understanding the concept of “kinds” is crucial to grasping other aspects of creation history. For example, understanding how many animals Noah had to bring with him on the Ark hinges on understanding that he did not need to bring two (or more) of each modern-day species; he only needed to bring two (or more) representatives of each original kind. Similarly, when Adam named the animals, he did not have to watch as millions of species of every life-form paraded before him; he only needed to watch and name representatives of the original created kinds.
4. LiveScience: “Robotic Arm is Amazingly Human-Like”
A new robotic arm doesn’t merely imitate human motion; it is a complete imitation of the human arm’s skeletal structure.
Built by Festo, Airic’s_arm, as it is called, is essentially a robotic version of the human arm, complete with artificial bones and muscles. These include a radius and ulna (the primary bones of the forearm), metacarpal bones in the hand and fingers, and shoulder bones.
The muscles, as described on Festo’s website, are “Fluidic Muscle” that are controlled through “tiny, highly innovative piezo-proportional valves.” This allows the arm to function more quickly, with an improved power-to-weight ratio. (Festo has provided a video that shows the human-like robotic arm undertaking a variety of actions.)
According to the Festo website, Airic’s_arm is “inspired by nature.” That’s completely, true, of course—but we would like to give credit also to the One who inspired nature!
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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