1. BBC News: “Undersea Slide Set Off Giant flow”
A team of researchers reporting in the journal Nature recently has described a catastrophic landslide that dumped 225 billion metric tons of sediment into the ocean in just a few days or less.
The underwater landslide, dated by the scientists to 60,000 years ago, produced “the longest flow of sand and mud” on earth—some 932 miles (1,500 km) en route to the final deposition.
“At least as big as many volcanic eruptions,” according to the University of Bristol’s Peter Talling, the flow was nearly 100 miles (over 150 km) wide in places, and deposited some 225 billion metric tons of sediment into the ocean off northwest Africa in “a matter of hours or days.” Incredibly, that’s equivalent to the amount of sediment delivered by all the world’s rivers combined over a period of 10 years.
Despite that, the landslide is not the largest on record. The Storegga slip, off the coast of Norway, along with several slides off the coast of Hawaii, involved the transportation of more sediment.
Young-earth groups such as Answers in Genesis frequently point to catastrophic geological processes like this landslide that fly—or flow, perhaps—in the face of long-age, uniformitarian geological doctrine. Secular scientists repeat the dogma of “millions of years” and generally point to slow, day-to-day erosion as the major factor in shaping the surface of the earth. Yet geologists, time and time again, stumble over large-scale, fast-occurring geological catastrophes that they identify as having shaped particular features of the earth (such as the Channel Scablands in Montana).
Given all this and acknowledging the geological upheaval a worldwide flood would have brought, where are the scientific objections to geological catastrophism? The reality is, even secular geologists accept some catastrophic explanations (as mentioned above), but by balking at a global flood, they ignore the greatest geological catastrophe there ever was!
(Oh, and if you’re still skeptical that a canyon could be carved out catastrophically over a short period of time, look no further than the Canyon Lake Gorge. You can read about it in the October 13, 2007, News to Note, item #2.)
2. TIME: “Sunday School for Atheists”
For a new generation of children, Sunday school isn’t about Bible stories and singing songs about Jesus—instead, for atheist children, it’s about encouraging “personal expression, intellectual curiosity and collaboration.”
TIME magazine profiles the three-year-old Sunday school programs of the Humanist Community Center in Palo Alto, California, designed for “nonbelievers [who] think they might need something for their children.” What are these Sunday school kids (and their parents) in for? TIME explains that the Sunday program
uses music, art and discussion to encourage personal expression, intellectual curiosity and collaboration. One Sunday this fall found a dozen children up to age 6 and several parents playing percussion instruments and singing empowering anthems like I’m Unique and Unrepeatable, set to the tune of Ten Little Indians, instead of traditional Sunday-school songs like Jesus Loves Me. Rather than listen to a Bible story, the class read Stone Soup, a secular parable of a traveler who feeds a village by making a stew using one ingredient from each home.
It’s difficult to be too surprised by the story, however, since even many atheist parents talk about wanting to instill positive values in their children. TIME magazine quotes Julie Willey, who takes her four kids to the center each week and explains, “When you have kids, you start to notice that your co-workers or friends have church groups to help teach their kids values and to be able to lean on.” The story cites other parents who say such instruction “supports their position that it's O.K. to not believe in God and gives them a place to reinforce the morals and values they want their children to have” (although we wonder how such programs judge which morals and values are permissible and which aren’t!).
TIME also compares the program (and others like it that will begin soon) to humanism-run children’s retreats such as Camp Quest and the Carl Sagan Academy, a humanism-driven charter school.
Of course, nearly all parents are—intentionally or not—going to pass some of their values, attitudes, and beliefs to their children; whether the children ultimately accept or reject those values, attitudes, and beliefs is another story. But would vitriolic atheist Richard Dawkins—who recently and famously referred (albeit indirectly) to religious education as abusive—have any complaints about this sort of “religious” education (in the religion of humanism, that is)? We doubt it!
Humanists have essentially taken religion, stripped away the aspects they dislike and those that make them uncomfortable, and have retained the comfort of a basic value system they are trying to pass on to their children. What happens when the children ask, “Mom, I understand that you’re telling me this is right, but why is it right?” These children will eventually grow up and figure out that there can be no morality without a moral authority—someone (or Someone, we should write) whose laws lie beyond the realm of human arbitrariness.
Also, the story reminds us of this increasingly unreached generation that needs not only evangelism, but also “pre-evangelism.” More and more children today are being raised without even a basic idea of what the Bible teaches about Christ or about why we need Christ. Thus, the ministry of Answers in Genesis—whose role is to support the church in bringing society back to the Bible—is more important than ever before.
3. LiveScience: “Evolutionary ‘Big Bang’ Created Florist’s Paradise”
Scientists have been forced to propose an evolutionary “big bang” to explain an evolutionary conundrum Charles Darwin referred to as an “abominable mystery.”
The mystery concerns flowering plants, whose species, LiveScience notes, are as “diverse as they are numerous.” The question for evolutionists is, how did all of these species arrive in what they consider the blink of an eye?
"One of the reasons why it’s been hard to understand evolutionary relationships among the major groups of flowering plants is because they diversified over such a short time frame,” explains biologist Robert Jansen of the University of Texas–Austin. The short time frame Jansen references is less than five million years, according to Florida Museum of Natural History curator Pam Soltis.
Soltis, working with University of Florida colleague Doug Soltis, analyzed genes from 45 plant species, while a team led by Jansen looked at genes from 64 species. The teams focused on chloroplast genomes, arranging and diagramming the gene sequences to try to re-create (or re-evolve, they might say) the plants’ evolutionary relationships. Their studies, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, resulted in the conclusion that “stunning diversification occurred within a period of 5 million years just after the plants first appeared on the scene and gave rise to today's five major lineages of flowering plants”—what the scientists are referring to as an evolutionary “big bang,” much like the famous Cambrian Explosion.
Such sudden rise and diversification has no evolutionary explanation—a “floral mystery,” LiveScience calls it. While the researchers throw out some guesses, such a “big bang” would have to generate copious amounts of genetic information in a fraction of the time span evolutionists speculate for the rise of life. And the bigger problem is that such “explosions” of life and diversity occur throughout the fossil record and completely contradict the traditional evolutionary explanation of the rise of life.
The search for evidence for abiogenesis has uncovered a new “candidate”: DNA in liquid crystal phases that “self-orients” and stacks into columns.
A joint American–Italian project, whose research was published in the journal Science, discovered that “surprisingly short segments of DNA . . . could assemble into several distinct liquid crystal phases that ‘self-orient’ parallel to one another and stack into columns when placed in a water solution.”
Liquid crystals are organic material that have solid and liquid properties. The organization was likened by one researcher to throwing spaghetti in a box and tossing it around, with the result that the spaghetti would be prone to orient itself in parallel.
One team member, University of Colorado–Boulder physicist Noel Clark, described how the scientists see such self-organization as making abiogenesis possible: “Our vision is that from the collection of ancient molecules, short RNA pieces or some structurally related precursor emerged as the molecular fragments most capable of condensing into liquid crystal droplets, selectively developing into long molecules.” The team discovered that complementary pairs of DNA segments six bases long could assemble themselves in liquid crystal phases by sticking together end to end.
“We found this to be a remarkable result,” Clark said. “It means that small molecules with the ability to pair up the right way can seek each other out and collect together into drops that are internally self-organized to facilitate the growth of larger pairable molecules.”
The research, while interesting, reveals the paucity of current models of abiogenesis. The key problem is that researchers are leaping beyond the fundamental question of how DNA came to signify anything at all. Even if chains can orient themselves in parallel, they would have to somehow (in Clark’s words) “spontaneously self-select, ‘chain-up’ and self-replicate.” Clark notes that this is essentially impossible by random chemical interactions, which is why the team is excited over the liquid crystal phenomenon. He also notes that the orientation and assemblage does not occur unless the DNA strands form helical duplexes. This research simply focuses on chemical interactions of DNA rather than attempting to explain the origin of DNA and the information it contains.
The question of how life could have originated naturally from a prebiotic chemical soup has plagued evolutionists since the idea was first proposed. While scientists claim breakthroughs from time to time (such as the vaunted Miller–Urey experiments), these breakthroughs demonstrate at most how a carefully concocted scenario—with elements detrimental to the formation of life removed—might result in a hodgepodge of prebiotic chemicals. But the question of how prebiotic chemicals came to, for example, “understand” DNA and self-replicate, along with a myriad of other questions, have been left unanswered.
Most evolutionists simply take it on faith that one day, we will figure out how life began—and even if we never do, they nonetheless would still have faith that abiogenesis happened. We aren’t knocking faith; we are simply pointing out that even “scientific” evolutionists have to place their faith somewhere. We, on the other hand, choose to put our faith in the God who was there.
A new genetic study conducted at the University of Michigan “bolsters claims that Native Americans are descended from one migrant group that crossed a lost land link from modern Siberia to Alaska,” reports Agence France-Presse.
The single-group hypothesis contrasts others that speculate that a wave of migrant groups traveled from Asia to the “New World.” The study looked at genes from indigenous North and South Americans as well as from two Siberian groups. A unique genetic variant was found throughout the American groups and has only been found elsewhere in eastern Siberia.
Geneticist and team member Noah Rosenberg explained the significance: “If there were a large number of migrations, and most of the source groups didn’t have the variant, then we would not see the widespread presence of the mutation in the Americas.”
Additionally, the study uncovered increasing genetic diversity in individuals farther from what is now the Bering Strait, where the single migrant group presumably crossed. Such increasing diversity is exactly what the single-group hypothesis predicts, unlike the multiple-group idea. The single-group migration is also considered to have happened much more recently.
The results of this study are perfectly in line with the migration that occurred after the dispersion at Babel (after the Flood). As people groups spread out across Asia and into Africa and Europe, a population traversed a landbridge connecting Siberia to North America (a landbridge since submerged in the Bering Strait). From there, the group populated the continent and diversified both genetically and culturally.
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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