1. Get Expelled!

In what promises to be one of the most effective tools in recent times to expose the massive problems with naturalistic evolution as well as the ruthless tactics of its defenders, American actor, comedian, lawyer, writer, economist, game show host, and speechwriter Ben Stein is releasing the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed this spring. Make plans to see it!

The documentary asks the question, “What happened to freedom of speech?” The press release continues:

What freedom-loving student wouldn’t be outraged to discover that his high school science teacher is teaching a theory as indisputable fact, and that university professors unmercifully crush any fellow scientists who dare question the prevailing system of belief?

Stein adds, “Big Science in this area of biology has lost its way.” The documentary, two years in the making, includes interviews with a number of academics who have been “expelled” for suggesting there is design in nature, along with interviews with well-known atheists such as Richard Dawkins who attempt to defend the current institutional treatment of intelligent design.

Answers in Genesis, which was offered a special preview screening of Expelled, is enthusiastic that this documentary could earn the attention of millions worldwide who are unaware how the educational deck is stacked in favor of Darwinism and against any hint of design in nature. A strong turnout on the film’s opening weekend could bring media attention that will turn heads and bring more viewers out, alerting even more to watch the film and learn the truth about Darwinian dogmatism.

Please make plans to see Expelled when it is released (April 18)! We will continue to post details in News to Note leading up to the release date, and hopefully we’ll be reporting on the media coverage (and controversy, most likely!) the film sparks after its release. Visit getexpelled.com for more information, including trailers and an interview with Ben Stein. We especially recommend the “super trailer,” which you may want to show to friends (especially unsaved friends) to encourage them to see the film. Our guess is that once you watch the trailer, you’ll be as excited as we are for the film to be released!

2. ScienceNOW: “Florida Gives Evolution a Thumbs-Up”

The Florida Board of Education has passed new standards for science education that, for the first time in the state’s history, support the teaching of “evolution” (as opposed to more vague descriptions of Darwin’s theory).

Curiously, ScienceNOW reports that “scientists and educators in the state were disappointed with a last-minute revision in which the word ‘scientific’ was inserted before every mention of ‘theory’ in the 97-page document.” We would have thought evolutionist scientists and educators would have preferred the labeling of evolution as a scientific theory.

The new standards were approved by a narrow 4–3 vote (though one nay vote was a board member dissatisfied with the “scientific” addition), and at least 10 counties in Florida passed resolutions denouncing the new standards, reports ScienceNOW.

Not everyone was bothered by the last-minute edits, though. Well-known evolution defender Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education praised the passage, saying, “What’s important is that this allows teachers in Florida to present evolution to students as a strong scientific view that is based on evidence.” Our hope, however, is that in the classroom, most teachers will still end up treading quite carefully through the origin-of-life topic, and perhaps not present evolution to students in a dogmatic way.

As we’ve said before, though, this wouldn’t be such a hot topic if state-sponsored education wasn’t filled with Darwinian thinking, but was instead an open discussion of the different interpretations of the evidence. In every other academic field, students and teachers are expected to understand different ideas and the controversies behind them, yet in the origins debate, some ideas are simply off limits.

[Editor’s note: A reader informed us that the ScienceNOW article was slightly in error on one point, apparently. Rather than adding simply “scientific” before mentions of the word “theory” in the standards, other sources (including the Associated Press and the Orlando Sentinel) say that the change placed “scientific theory of” in front of every major scientific concept (e.g., atoms, gravity) in the standards.]

3. BBC News: “Planet-Hunters Set for Big Bounty”

The search for life far from earth seems to expand every month, with greater attention—and money—focused on finding planets with “conditions suitable for life.” Now, a new study suggests these “livable” planets may be more common than we thought.

The team, which presented its findings at an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston, argues that more than half of the sun-like stars in the galaxy could have planetary systems similar to ours.

University of Arizona astronomer and team leader Michael Meyer explained, “Our observations suggest that between 20% and 60% of Sun-like stars have evidence for the formation of rocky planets not unlike the processes we think led to planet Earth.” The team used NASA’s Spitzer telescope to examine stars that weigh approximately as much as our own sun. Some of the youngest such stars surveyed were surrounded by dust discs—the sort that naturalists hypothesize led to earth’s formation.

NASA’s Alan Stern added to the excitement at the AAAS meeting when he suggested there could be many more planets within the solar system—in the far-off Kuiper Belt region and beyond, where hundreds of planetoids have already been discovered. Stern told BBC News, “Our old view, that the solar system had nine planets, will be supplanted by a view that there are hundreds if not thousands of planets in our solar system.” Stern also speculated that some of these could be earth-sized.

There’s little doubt that evolutionary ideas about the origin of life will continue to fuel legions of astronomers who—with government and private funding—search an ever-widening radius from earth for any signs of earth-like planets, on the assumption that where there’s an earth-sized planet / water in any form / quasi-organic molecules, there will soon be life. The question is, how many times will life not be discovered before astronomers realize life doesn’t just “appear”?

4. BBC News: “Early Mars ‘Too Salty’ for Life” & ScienceDaily: “Unique Martian Formation Reveals Brief Bursts of Water”

In a pair of stories related to our above item, new evidence gathered by one of the Mars rovers indicates Mars “was too salty to sustain life for much of its history.” Even the hardiest microbes would have found it difficult to survive amid brackish water. Meanwhile, a Dutch–American study indicates that unique geological features on Mars were formed by “brief bursts of water.”

The NASA Opportunity rover took a look at rocks on an “ancient Martian plain” that was thought to have once been covered in water. The rocks suggest the environment was “both acidic and briny,” and not a place for life to survive. Rover science team member Andrew Knoll, a biologist at Harvard, said the discovery “tightens the noose on the possibility of life,” which is certainly interesting for creationists to note.

For one thing, the possible implication that a noose was already there is intriguing—that is, that the possibility for life on Mars was always remote, despite astrobiologists suggestions otherwise.

BBC News reports that Knoll added that conditions on Mars over the past four billion years would have been tough for any life. Knoll explained just how distant the possibility is:

It was really salty—in fact, it was salty enough that only a handful of known terrestrial organisms would have a ghost of a chance of surviving there when conditions were at their best.

Nevertheless, NASA isn’t giving up its search; a new Mars explorer is set to land this May, and a next-generation rover, the Mars Science Laboratory, will be launched in 2009 and land the following year.

The Dutch–American research, referenced above by ScienceDaily and unrelated to the latest rover research, examined several geologic formations that suggested the rapid release of water from inside Mars. Scientists first reported this feature three years ago, but to date, there has been only speculation about how these basin “fans” have formed.

Faculty members at Utrecht University in the Netherlands “built” a fan to replicate those on Mars. Using a room-sized sediment flume, the team dug a sand crater, then simulated water flow to replicate the fan formation. They detail their work in the journal Nature.

Next, using topology data, the team calculated how long it would take rapid water flow to form the fans on the Martian surface. ScienceDaily carries the answer:

The researchers report that formation of stepped fans would only take 10s of years—not the hundreds to millions of years estimated for other Mars hydrologic events. But it would require a lot of water. And it would be a one-time event—the basin would not refill.

A lot of water? A short period of time? A one-time event? Sound familiar (Genesis 6–8)?

The team estimates the amount of water flow would equal the amount the Mississippi River transports in ten years. But since Mars lacks any such river channel, the team proposed the water was released from inside the Martian surface.

Of course, comparing Earth geology to Martian geology can be dangerous, since the environments of the two planets are so different. Nonetheless, this study reminds us of the powerful effect water can have on reshaping a planet—such as Mars or even Earth. Of course, accepting a Earth-wide watery catastrophe is still out of the question for old-age geologists, since it would undermine the entire scientific paradigm on the origin of Earth and life.

5. BBC News: “‘Frog from Hell’ Fossil Unearthed”

A team of American and British scientists has discovered a fossil frog so large it’s been dubbed “Beelzebufo,” or the “frog from hell.”

The researchers estimate the frog would have weighed in at about 9 lbs (4 kg) and would have been the size of a “squashed beach ball,” about 16 inches (40 cm) long, according to the team’s report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The report adds that it was “strikingly different” than frogs living today on the island of Madagascar, where it was found.

Study coauthor Susan Evans, a biologist from University College London, explained that the team considers the frog a relative of today’s horned toads and speculated that, “If it shared the aggressive temperament and ‘sit-and-wait’ ambush tactics of [present-day] horned toads, it would have been a formidable predator on small animals.” The team guesses the frog would have eaten not only insects, but also possibly small vertebrates like lizards or even young dinosaurs. Of course, none of this is easy to judge from a fossil!

Most interesting about the discovery, however, is that the frog, while unique in Madagascar, is “akin to the horned toads previously considered endemic to South America.” This supports the idea that the South American land mass was once connected to the Indian and Madagascaran land masses, approximately 70 million years ago according to old-earth models.

Several Creation and Flood models also incorporate the idea of continental movement, albeit on a much more rapid timescale than evolutionists believe. Of particular interest is the work of John Baumgardner, a young-earth creationist with a PhD in geophysics from UCLA, who is one of the primary thinkers behind the “catastrophic plate tectonics” model that integrates the global Flood with rapid movement of continental plates. This explains how, for example, at least one member of the original frog/toad kind may have been fossilized by the Flood (presumably) in Madagascar, with most other similar frogs/toads having been swept off to the other side of the world.

Read more on catastrophic plate tectonics in NAB and our Get Answers: Plate Tectonics page.

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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