1. LiveScience: “Petrified Animals Died Quickly”

A team examining a fossil deposit in the Canadian Rockies has determined that the fossil “bonanza” was buried by a rapid, muddy “miracle of preservation.”

The team, from the University of Leicester, was looking at the Burgess Shale graveyard, where petrified bodies have been found with even soft tissue preserved. Scientists have found the remains of worms, eyes, and internal organs among the fossils at the site. But since the fossils were discovered in 1909, paleontologists have wondered what allowed such extensive preservation.

The researchers—geologist Jan Zalasiewicz and paleontologist Sarah Gabbott—concluded that the deposit was created by a rapid mud slurry that covered the bodies so completely that whole bodies were petrified. They also found that the rock layers were probably the result of the mud slurry that buried the unsuspecting creatures at the bottom of the site, which the scientists believe was then a sea bed.

Zalasiewicz explains that the mud slurry would have carried the creatures below the level at which scavengers or even most bacteria could have reached the corpses, with later mudslides (perhaps caused by earthquakes) burying the fossils even deeper.

Zalasiewicz also noted that the fossils are from “early in the history of complex multi-cellular life” and references the enigma of the Cambrian explosion, when, according to the evolutionary interpretation of the fossil record, life “very suddenly” became complex and diverse—still a mystery, as Zalasiewicz calls it, to Darwinists.

Evolutionists now have an explanation for why these fossils are so well-preserved—but it’s the same explanation creationists have had for thousands of years! The Flood model explains, in general, how a watery deluge combined heavy rain with subterranean water activity—and substantial geological and volcanic activity—that reshaped the physical world. From this model, we understand how catastrophic forces (including mud slurries) account for nearly all of the fossils we uncover today and explain the origin of geologic features (canyons, rock layers, etc.).

Those who accept millions of years continue to resort to a local catastrophe here, a local catastrophe there; a mud slide here, a flood there. Biblical creationists see this as triggered by the global Flood of Noah’s age—a Flood documented in civilizations around the world.

2. BBC News: “Sea Reptile is Biggest on Record”

Norwegian scientists have announced the largest marine reptile known to modern science, a fossil discovered in 2006 in Norway’s far-north Svalbard islands.

Found on Spitspergen island, the “sea monster” was 50 ft (15m) from nose to tail, 20 percent larger than the Australian Kronosaurus, previously the biggest sea reptile on record. This new Norwegian find, nicknamed the “Monster,” is considered a pliosaur, the same as another similar fossil found nearby and the Kronosaurus. Pliosaurs were shorter-necked forms of the well-known plesiosaur grouping.

According to expedition director Jorn Hurum of the University of Oslo Natural History Museum, the “biggest marine reptile” claim is backed by a study of the literature and “not just arm-waving.” The Monster’s flipper alone is 10 ft (3m) long! Plesiosaur expert Richard Forrest explained to BBC News that a large pliosaur would have likely been able to “pick up a small car in its jaws and bite it in half.”

In addition to the Monster and another pliosaur, numerous plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs have been found in Svalbard. Hurum commented on the origin of the fossil trove, such that BBC News interestingly (and inadvertently!) links this item with item #1 above:

The fossils were found in a fine-grained sedimentary rock called black shale. When the animals died, they sank to the bottom of a cold, shallow Jurassic sea and were covered over by mud. The oxygen-free, alkaline chemistry of the mud may explain the fossils’ remarkable preservation, said Dr. Hurum.

Creationist paleontologists are as fascinated with such ancient finds as anyone, especially because of the Bible’s references to “sea monsters” such as Leviathan. Leviathan is described in Isaiah 27:1 as a sea dragon, which certainly sounds like a description of a pliosaur or plesiosaur! And the “legends” of sea monsters from seafaring cultures around the world remind us that rather than being separated by millions of years, man cohabited with these monsters of the deep.

3. AP: “Third Manmade Grand Canyon Flood Planned”

The Associated Press reports that officials plan to flood the Grand Canyon for the third time since 1996 in an effort to restore an ecosystem altered by a dam.

The 1963 Glen Canyon Dam transformed the Colorado River that runs through the Grand Canyon, taming annual floods and shifting the balance of fish living in the river, leading to the extinction of four fish species. Since 1996, two artificial floods have been created in an attempt to replicate the once-usual spring floods that flushed the canyon out and restored the ecosystem.

If the U.S. Department of the Interior approves next month’s planned flood, the bypass tubes of Glen Canyon Dam will be opened again. With each attempt, scientists are studying the effect of the floodings in an attempt to restore originally native species.

The planned flood will increase Colorado River flows through the Grand Canyon to 41,000 cubic feet (1161 m3) per second for almost three days and will “scour and reshape miles of sandy banks on the floor of the Grand Canyon.”

It’s interesting to note how this flood, which still has the power to reshape sandy banks, mimics the effects of the great Flood, which would have unleashed rivers of unbelievable force as the waters receded from the heights of the earth and flowed toward ocean basins. The Grand Canyon was likely formed as the Colorado Plateau was lifted above sea level during the second half of the Flood year and the waters surged out to the Pacific Ocean.

4. AP: “Survey: Americans Switching Faiths, Dropping Out”

An extensive study released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life documents trends in American religious affiliation—based on interviews with more than 35,000 adults.

Many of the trends have been reported before: mainline Protestant churches are in decline, nondenominational churches are on the upswing, and increasing numbers do not identify with any particular denomination.

The main emphasis of the report, however, is how volatile the “marketplace” of religion is—and pardon our quotation of the phrase. Pew Forum director Luis Lugo likened the “American religious economy” to a dynamic, competitive marketplace, where “no one can stand still.”

Most tragic, however, are findings most of us already knew: the United States is becoming less Christian. The survey estimates the nation is 78 percent Christian now (down from an estimated 86% in 1990, according to this university study in New York) and will soon lose its status as Protestant by majority, with now only 51 percent aligning themselves with Protestantism.

Furthermore, more than a quarter of adults have left the faith they were raised in for “another religion or no religion at all,” with a quarter of those ages 18 to 29 claiming no affiliation with a religious institution. Penn State University sociologist Roger Finke, a survey consultant, explains that, “Right now, there is a dropping confidence in organized religion, especially in the traditional religious forms.”

Of the 12 or so percent of the American population who describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” half say faith is “at least somewhat” important to them; a third are atheist or agnostic.

Ironically, the religious institution whose adherence rate has been stable is the same institution that has lost more members than any other group! The institution is the Roman Catholic Church, and the seeming contradiction is possible because, while 10 percent of the country describes itself as ex-Catholic, an influx of Catholic immigrants from Latin America has kept the overall balance stable. Now, nearly half of all Catholics under 30 are Hispanic.

As for Protestants, such longstanding denominations as Methodist and Baptist are in decline, whereas nondenominational churches are gaining ground. Ten percent of all Protestants decline denominational affiliation, describing themselves as simply Protestants.

Other interesting tidbits were the group with the highest retention of childhood members (Hindus, at 84 percent); the group with the lowest retention of childhood members (Jehovah’s Witnesses, at 37 percent); and that more adults identified themselves as Buddhist than Muslim (though both were less than one percent of the population).

So what relevance do this study’s results have for Answers in Genesis, a nondenominational Christian ministry committed to upholding God’s Word?

First, it confirms what we’ve said for years now: the United States is becoming less Christian every day. Obviously, 78 percent is still high, but that number is based on a broad definition of what constitutes a Christian. Secular ideas and ideals continue to pervade more and more of society, leaving the church on the run.

Second, and most importantly, the fluidity of personal religious identification reminds us that people no longer stick with a religious tradition simply because they were raised in it. Rather, people are looking for answers and will follow whatever answers they can find. That is why the church continues to lose ground, though this fluidity also means there is more potential to reach the lost than perhaps ever before.

But if the church doesn’t have the answers to the questions this generation is asking, how can it reach the lost? If the church cannot compete with secular science’s explanations for why we are here, what purpose we have, what constitutes right and wrong, and where we are going, then what good is it (or so people will and do ask)? If the church can’t give answers for why the Bible is reliable and relevant to every person (and not just those born into a churchgoing family or those who feel “inclined” toward faith), then the church will be seen as increasingly irrelevant, and its message of salvation will be increasingly rejected.

The mission of Answers in Genesis is to stand in this gap and to be “a catalyst to bring reformation by reclaiming the foundations of our faith which are found in the Bible, from the very first verse.”

5. Get Expelled Next Month!

Dozens of AiG staff watched the “director’s cut” of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed several days ago. The documentary’s host, actor/economist/lawyer Ben Stein, does a masterful job of exposing the persecution suffered by many professors or researchers when they don’t believe in evolution.

The publicity campaign is ramping up this month in anticipation of the movie’s release next month. This very entertaining movie isn’t about biblical creation, but it does have the potential to wake up millions of people to the ways the secular scientific community can mistreat and expel credentialed individuals who suggest the possibility of intelligent design—or even just question evolution. The film documents how some “Darwin-doubters” are losing their jobs.

Expelled is to be released to movie theaters on April 18. Visit getexpelled.com for more information where you can watch trailers and an interview with Ben Stein.

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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