1. Nature News: “Creationists Launch ‘Science’ Journal”
There may be no better litmus test to the success of a young-earth creationist project than the furor it creates in the secular press.
The Creation Museum certainly provided quite a splash, and the protests and mockeries continue to reverberate around the world. Apparently we hit a nerve by presenting compelling evidence for a recent creation and global Flood in a manner that appeals to people of various technical levels.
After the launch of Answers Research Journal, our free, online resource for the timely dissemination of creationist research, blogs were again atwitter with ridicule, slander, and outright animosity. There is even talk of a competition for “fake” papers to be submitted to see how rigorous our peer-review process is (care to find out?). In all, we were excited that God used such negative attacks to spread the message of ARJ’s launch around the world.
However, we were even more surprised to find that the prestigious journal Nature has taken notice in an upcoming issue. The editorial, of course, is hardly flattering, and Associate Editor Geoff Brumfiel lets his opinion be known. In particular, Brumfiel states:
Recent court rulings make it all but impossible for intelligent design, a belief that a higher being shaped evolution, to be taught in US public schools. Nevertheless, creationists still try to discourage the teaching of evolution and other scientific theories at the local level, according to Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, an education watchdog in Oakland, California. Publications such as ARJ are part of the continued battle to excise science from local curricula, she says. “Creation science is alive and well and appealing to a substantial minority of the American public.”
You can read the entire “editorial” on Nature’s website, but one thing you won’t find there is anyone asking someone from AiG for our view on Dr. Scott’s explanation of ARJ. If they wanted a spokesperson of equal academic rigor, they would find no shortage—say, for example, Dr. David Menton, professor emeritus at Washington University School of Medicine or even Dr. Andrew Snelling, the eminently qualified editor-in-chief of the journal. AiG has never tried to “discourage the teaching of evolution,” as we have repeatedly stated. We want students to learn about evolution, but we want them also to learn that some researchers do not agree with Darwin’s theory and the reasons why. ARJ’s purpose, in fact, has nothing to do with the creation/evolution debate whatever—though that may seem shocking to those who cannot believe that people can function or research without appealing to the theory—and is, instead, about building the Creation model. Yes, research can, is, and will be done in biology, geology, astronomy, and all fields of science without the slightest need for millions of years or evolution. We are glad that the readers of Nature will be able to find out about our new journal, and we hope that what was meant to mock will instead fuel interest in our site. After all, God has definitely used such attacks on AiG before.
2. Environmental News Network: “Elephants Evolve Smaller Tusks Due to Poaching”
One story this week takes a close look at an examples of “evolution” in nature. But is there anything that can’t be explained through the biblical model of origins?
The article reports on a recent study of elephant tusk length, which discovered that the average size of tusks for both Indian (Asian) and African elephants has declined significantly in the last 150 years. Researchers speculate that the poaching of large-tusked elephants is to blame for the decline. So is this evolution?
Diligent readers already know where we’re headed with this. For a start, it’s important to clarify that “evolution,” as a general term, is roughly a synonym for change. In biological contexts, it specifically refers to changes in genotypic and phenotypic frequencies in a population over time. By this broad definition, everything from the average tusk length of an elephant population declining slightly to an amoeba morphing into a human can be called evolution.
We submit that there is a substantial difference between these two examples, however. Some have referred to this distinction as between horizontal evolution (change within kinds) and vertical evolution (change between kinds). The former involves selective pressures (natural, sexual, or even artificial) eliminating certain members of a population, effectively changing the population’s overall makeup. For example, if poachers kill all long-tusked elephants, leaving only the short-tusked ones, the population’s characteristics have changed—they have evolved (using the definition above as change over time). Mutations can provide variety in the genetic makeup that is selected for or against. For instance, on a windy island, flying beetles may be blown into the ocean easily. A normally debilitating mutation that incapacitates this flight ability would allow such flightless beetles to avoid being blown in the ocean, thus living longer and reproducing more often.
The question is, could such “evolution,” if allowed to proceed for millions of years, ever reshape a unicellular organism all the way up to a human being? The answer is no, because mutations and natural selection do not add new information to the genome. Without this, there would be no way for the amoeba genome to gain the necessary information, over time, to “build” a human. Believing such a story, then, requires great faith and a starting point other than the Bible. An elephant population’s average tusk length varying because of poaching requires no change in genetic information; essentially, it just means that elephants whose genes say “make tusk length 10” are selected against, whereas those whose genes say “make tusk length 5” (for example) are selected for.
3. PhysOrg: “China finds 100,000-year-old human skull: report”
A fossilized human skull of questionable significance has been unearthed during an excavation in central China. But is it the “greatest discovery” in nearly a century or “far from the greatest”?
The skull’s 16 pieces were found in Henan province, central China, at an excavation site that has turned up more than 30,000 animal fossils and artifacts in the past two years.
China Daily, which reported on the find, described the skull as having bones that protrude over the eye sockets (perhaps referring to a prominent brow ridge) and a small forehead, though the AFP report does not explain whether this is based on the bones themselves or a reconstruction of the complete skull, nor whether any determination has been made as to what hominid group this skull belongs to.
The AFP report explains that the skull was fossilized thanks to a “spring whose water had a high calcium content.” And although we do not know the complete details of the find, it is notable that the excavation site has yielded artifacts in addition to the human and animal fossils. Also, this reminds us that fossils do not take millions of years to form, especially given special circumstances!
4. LiveScience: “Dinosaur Demise Theory Is Soaking Wet”
A cocktail of environmental changes initiated by watery catastrophe doomed the dinosaurs, reports LiveScience on research published in Nature Geosciences.
A new three-dimensional analysis of the 112 mile (180 km) wide Chicxulub Crater suggests the effects of the meteor that made it were numerous and all contributed to the dinosaur die-out an alleged 65 million years ago. The study indicates the meteor splashed into deeper water than originally assumed, which would result in the release into the atmosphere of almost seven times more water vapor than was thought. The vapor, combining with sulfur, would have produced sulfate aerosols that would have cooled the climate and triggered acid rain, also possibly making the oceans more acidic. But before then, many large animals purportedly might have been killed by the heat caused by the material ejected from the impact.
At this point, it’s useful for us to revisit the topic of the mass dinosaur extinction and the Chicxulub Crater. The dinosaur extinction is frequently tied to the K–T boundary, which lies between what are considered Cretaceous and Tertiary geological layers. A thin layer separates the K and the T, and this layer contains far more iridium than most earth rock. Since iridium is found more frequently in space, some scientists have concluded that this layer—this boundary—was deposited after a massive meteor impact, an impact so large it could have brought down the dinosaurs. When the Chicxulub Crater was discovered off Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, it was matched up with this layer as the cause for the dinosaur demise.
There are some holes in this crater-based hypothesis, however. For one thing, old-earth dating methods of the Chicxulub Crater have produced dates around 300,000 years earlier than the K–T boundary. Although that may seem like a small difference, the iridium layer from the Chicxulub meteor should have been deposited shortly after the impact, not hundreds of thousands of years later. Also, because the earth’s core contains higher levels of iridium than the surface, volcanoes can deposit layers of iridium, and some scientists have speculated that massive volcanism was responsible for the K–T boundary.
Meteor impact is compatible with the biblical Flood model, but more likely is that the Flood itself caused a massive dose of volcanism, which deposited the iridum-rich layer worldwide (see Setting the Stage for an Ice Age). When wearing biblical lenses, the prevailing geological models of millions of years can be easily understood as the result of the Flood’s massive reworking of the earth’s surface, rather than the theoretical gymnastics of any catastrophism but that.
5. National Geographic News: “Platypus Much Older Than Thought, Lived with Dinos
The humble duck-billed platypus was alive and well in dinosaur days—it’s what creationists have always thought, and now evolutionists agree (in their own way, that is).
Speaking of the K–T extinction (as in item 4), a new study of duck-billed platypus fossils reveals that they may have been around “before” it (in the evolutionary understanding), living alongside the dinosaurs. National Geographic News explains how the new conclusion came about:
But remains of what was believed to be a distant forebear of both the platypus and the echidna—the fossil species Teinolophos—actually belong to an early platypus, according to scientists who performed an x-ray analysis of a Teinolophos jawbone.
The center of the study is the broad canal that runs through the center of the platypus skull and was discovered in the “distant forebear,” now considered just a platypus because only they contain such a broad canal. The alleged common ancestor of platypuses and echidnas has now been pushed off into the distant past, since no other fossil links the two supposed evolutionary branches. However, amid a few other problems with this scenario, Matt Phillips, of the Australian National University in Canberra, offered “an alternative explanation for the new findings—that an early platypus-echidna ancestor had wide jaw canals, and this feature was retained by platypuses but reduced during subsequent echidna evolution.” With such plasticity in the evolutionary model, one wonders when we ever will get the “true” timeline from evolutionary scientists.
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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