1. AP: “Chimps Are Not People, Austrian Court Rules, Group Says

The Supreme Court of Austria has ruled that a chimpanzee cannot be legally declared a person, reports the Associated Press. But for how long?

The case originated after the Association Against Animal Factories, an animal rights group, attempted to have the chimpanzee “Matthew Hiasl Pan” declared a person for guardianship purposes. The original ruling against personhood was appealed, taking the case to Austria’s highest court.

The animal rights group, worried that the chimp will be sold without the protections of personhood, says it will appeal the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

As far as news reports suggest, the animal rights association is seeking personhood for chimps only as a pragmatic measure to gain protection for this particular chimp—not as an attention-getting promotion of evolutionary doctrine. We wonder, however, how long it might be until a group does push for some form of “human” rights for chimpanzees (or even other primates) on the basis that they are closely related to us on the evolutionary tree. It’s an idea that would have sounded entirely absurd decades ago but seems—sadly—more possible now!

2. ScienceNOW: “Mmmm … Bacteria

“When you eat a cup of yogurt, billions of bacteria make their way to your gut.” Appetizing?

Researchers from Imperial College and the Nestlé Research Center, experimenting with bacteria that (when ingested by humans) can create positive biological responses, may have discovered how to help people shed a few extra pounds: add such “good” bacteria to other foods.

Noting that the human gut hosts 1,000 species of microorganisms, the ScienceNOW article explains that the bacteria helped diminish the function of bile acids, which aid the small intestine in harvesting fat after meals. Thus, the bacteria can help keep a person slender. The bacterial supplement is currently being tested on mice.

This is one experimental example of how microbes, which are often very generally synonymized with “germs,” are actually quite beneficial in most scenarios. Microbes of various sorts live in a variety of helpful, symbiotic relationships with plants and animals, helping us perform tasks (such as digesting food) we cannot complete on our own.

But where do microbes, such as bacteria, fit in the creation picture? When did God create this vast array of life-forms? To read an in-depth treatment of this question, visit Microbes and the Days of Creation, published in the new Answers Research Journal. ARJ is a professional, peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research from the perspective of the recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework.

3. The Jerusalem Post: “First Temple Seal found in Jerusalem

A stone seal discovered in Jerusalem bears a name mentioned in the Old Testament and is yet another connection between archaeology and the Bible.

Mentioning “Temech,” the black stone seal dates back to between 538 and 445 BC, according to archaeologist Dr. Eliat Mazar, who led the excavation near the Old City’s Dung Gate. The Jerusalem Post reports that the name is also mentioned in the book of Nehemiah (specifically, in Nehemiah 7:6, 46, 55), referring specifically to “one of the families who acted as servants in the First Temple and then returned to Jerusalem after being exiled to Babylonia.” The Temech family was exiled to Babylon in 586 BC, only to return years later as part of the events described in the books of Nehemiah and Ezra.

The seal portrays a “cultic” scene, however, derived from Babylonian religion. Appearing on the seal are two bearded priests standing by an incense altar, worshipping, with the crescent moon—symbol of the chief Babylonian god, Sin—appearing at the top. “Temech” is written at the bottom.

Commenting on the significance of the find, Mazar explained, “The seal of the Temech family gives us a direct connection between archeology and the biblical sources and serves as actual evidence of a family mentioned in the Bible. One cannot help being astonished by the credibility of the biblical source as seen by the archaeological find.”

Indeed, discovery after archaeological discovery has reminded us of the accuracy and authority of the Bible’s account of history, and not a single find has been uncovered that contradicts the biblical record. For those of us who accept the Bible as God’s Word, that’s no surprise!

[Editor’s note: Some experts on ancient Jewish seals have challenged the reading of this seal as “Temech,” suggesting the Hebrew letters should be read (in mirror-image reverse) as “Shelomit.” The name Shelomit (sometimes spelled “Shelomith”) is mentioned in other passages of Scripture, such as 2 Chronicles 11:20 and Ezra 8:10.]

4. ScienceNOW: “Evolution of Counting Is No Simple Operation

A new look at the counting systems of some Pacific islanders is overturning previously held views on the “cultural evolution” of counting, reports ScienceNOW.

The people on the island of Mangareva in the Pacific use multiple object-specific counting systems. For instance, they use one number sequence to count unripe breadfruit and another for ripe breadfruit and octopus. Yet they also use an abstract counting system for other objects.

Previously, anthropologists believed such object-specific counting systems came before modern, abstract systems in “cultural evolution.” So what are both types of systems doing side-by-side on Mangareva? That’s what anthropologist Andrea Bender and psychologist Sieghard Beller, both of the University of Freiburg, wanted to find out when they compared the Mangarevan tongue to three Melanesian languages, all four of which are believed to have “evolved” from Proto-Oceanic, an extinct language. Proto-Oceanic was thought to employ an abstract counting system, but the object-specific counting systems of Mangareva and one of the Melanesian languages seems to be “less” evolved. The researchers, writing in Science, conclude that necessity must have driven the adoption of object-specific counting systems over the abstract system.

There are two parallels between this “evolution” and the “evolution” we observe in the natural world. First, in the counting systems example, the system is moving from more complexity to less, not the other way around (as researchers thought); similarly, in nature, we observe destructive mutations and selective pressures leading to decreases in overall genetic information, not increases (which would be required if molecules-to-man evolution were true).

The other parallel is even more obvious: whereas the Darwinian story of molecules-to-man evolution is centered around chance mutations being selected by various pressures (“the blind watchmaker”), these languages (and counting systems) have been consciously adapted to various needs by the users of the languages; that is, there has been intelligent input in the development of the systems.

It’s interesting, then—though perhaps not surprising—that such “cultural evolution” reminds us of the flaws in Darwinian evolution!

For more information

  • Get Answers: Anthropology
  • Get Answers: Linguistics
    • Get Answers: Information Theory
      • Get Answers: Mutations

      • 5. AOL News: “McConaughey, Girlfriend Are Expecting

        How did actor Matthew McConaughey find himself on the pages of News to Note? At first blush we didn’t see his connection to Genesis, but then we dug deeper.

        We don’t happen to know McConaughey’s specific religious beliefs, but a recent comment leads us to believe McConaughey isn’t a young-earth creationist.

        Announcing on his website that he and his girlfriend are expecting a baby, McConaughey wrote, “Got some blessed news . . . a newborn concieved [sic] . . . yes, my girlfriend Camila and I made a baby together.”

        Now for the unexpected twist: McConaughey wrote that the couple was “wowed by this miracle of creation and this gift from God,” then added:

        Wish us the best, keep us in your prayers, and God bless evolution.

        McConaughey’s phrase seems especially provocative given his acknowledgment of the child as being a “miracle of creation” from God. However, “God bless evolution” seems representative of the growing trend to glorify evolution as some sort of mystical force, putting a religious spin on what has long been claimed to allow atheists to lead intellectually fulfilled lives.

        Of course, we aren’t alleging that McConaughey was specifically aiming a barb at creationists or making some deep philosophical statement. More likely, McConaughey was referencing natural selection (which is not amino-to-actor evolution) and the widely touted attractiveness of him and his partner. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how evolution continues to saturate the public consciousness and intermingle with religious ideas.

        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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