An article on one of the most important physics projects of the new millennium asks, “Will it change our views of the universe and our place in it?” Apparently the writer (and her sources) consider physics tantamount to religion!
Switzerland’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), years in the making, is finally ready to begin its mission this summer: smashing matter together in the quest to find an “elusive” particle known as Higgs boson (a boson is one type of particle smaller than an atom). The Higgs boson is irreverently known as the “God particle” because physicists are hoping it will help us unlock a “grand theory of the universe.”
Newsweek’s Ana Elena Azpurua spoke to Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas–Austin about the scientific and alleged religious import of the work that will be done (and discoveries that many hope scientists will make) at the new collider.
Our full take on the interview will arrive early next week, but in the meantime, take a look at the sort of anti-God philosophy that is, in some ways, at the heart of what is nonetheless interesting physics research:
[Azpurua:] As we come closer to developing an ultimate theory of the universe, how will this impact religion?
[Weinberg:] As science explains more and more, there is less and less need for religious explanations. Originally, in the history of human beings, everything was mysterious. Fire, rain, birth, death, all seemed to require the action of some kind of divine being. As time has passed, we have explained more and more in a purely naturalistic way. This doesn't contradict religion, but it does takes away one of the original motivations for religion.
Be sure to check back early next week for an in-depth look at the interview!
Researchers have turned up the oldest human remains in western Europe—part of a jawbone in northern Spain, BBC News reports. The research is published in Nature.
Dated at just over a million years old, the jawbone was found near stone tools and animal bones “with tell-tale cut marks from butchering by humans.”
The find was at Sima del Elefante, one archaeological site in an area that has yielded significant evidence of humankind’s early occupation of Europe. Some have labeled the find as belonging to Homo antecessor, or “Pioneer Man.” Others, such as Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum, are “cautious” about that description without more material.
Once again—in contrast to the next item—we have discovered the remains of an “early” human that, while perhaps differing morphologically in slight ways from “modern” humans, nonetheless behaved intelligently—using tools, butchering meat, living in communities, etc. (That said, the morphological differences may even be a stretch since all that has been discovered is part of a jawbone.)
Since creation over 6,000 years ago, humankind has varied in size and skeletal structure; even today, the skeletons of two randomly chosen people could easily differ in a number of ways (even ignoring the possibility of disease or malnutrition that could deform the skeleton). We find human remains that may differ from the appearance of today’s humans, but the evidence of their behavior falls right in line with beings created in the image of God, descended from Adam through Noah.
A new analysis of the bones of a human “ancestor” suggests it was the earliest known hominin to walk upright, reports National Geographic News.
The controversial alleged ancestor, Orrorin tugenensis, is simply a handful of bones said to be six million years old. Found in Kenya in 2000, National Geographic News reports that “[s]cientists have hotly debated” whether the fossilized bones were from an upright-walking apeman or just an ape.
A team led by biological anthropologist Brian Richmond of George Washington University measured certain indicators of upright walking, such as joint size, comparing them to “other early hominin fossils, living apes, and bones from about 130 modern humans from around the world.” The O. tugenensis thighbone was different than that of both modern humans and living apes, but similar to a species thought to live two or three million years ago, Australopithecus (Lucy’s kind). Based on that similarity, the team concluded that O. tugenensis, too, must have been an upright walker—but one that, like Lucy and her kind, walked differently than modern humans.
What we might say at this point is that the research—published in Science this week—supports the idea that both O. tugenensis and australopithecines were not true humans, but rather part of the ape kind that may have used their lower limbs differently than tree-bound apes, but were nonetheless apes that were distinctly different from the human kind and who did not bear God’s image.
However, there’s a twist. Biological anthropologist Terry Harrison of New York University’s Center for the Study of Human Origins argues that O. tugenensis should be seen as a tree-dwelling ape. “It does not make sense [to] interpret the anatomical features of O. tugenensis as a biped that could climb trees. I see it as a good arboreal quadruped that has a package of features like [those found in] Australopithecus.”
There are two important issues here, one general and one more specific, that creationists can take away from this news. We’ll start with the specific, the more obvious: this news, despite appearing under a sensational evolutionary headline, fits well into the creation model: God made certain ape kinds with a certain amount of built-in variation; some of these may come slightly closer to resembling humans—such as a chimpanzee is more “human-like” in appearance and behavior than a marmoset—but nonetheless, they are clearly distinguished from intelligent humankind, made in the image of God.
The more general issue to note is the variability and prominence of interpretation even when two scientists start with the same data. Here we have two evolutionists, both experts, who are looking at the same O. tugenensis fossil but who come to different conclusions. One sees it as an upright walker; the other sees it as a tree dweller. Without going back in time to see how this ape really got around, it’s simply one unprovable interpretation of the evidence versus another.
In the same way, creationists and evolutionists have the same data—the same evidence—yet the evidence must be interpreted since we cannot scientifically look back in time to see what really happened. Creationists have God’s Word that gives us a starting point for understanding what happened; we can then build a scientific understanding of what happened based on the Bible’s account of creation, the Flood, etc. Similarly, evolutionists have the dogma of Darwinism at their core, and build on top of that.
Thus, when it comes to alleged apemen, we must remember both the scientific reasons we view them separately as “apes” (e.g., australopithecines) or “men” (e.g., Homo erectus) and the philosophical reasons—evolution requires apemen; creation requires a separation between apes and men.
One of the most stunning reminders of the distance between evolutionary ideas and actual fact is the rapid appearance, in the fossil record, of advanced forms of life across the biotic kingdoms.
For instance, the so-called Cambrian Explosion is the sudden appearance in the fossil record of what are considered modern life-forms. Yet few evolutionists have generated explanations, much less believable ones, for this explosion; nevertheless, most apparently have faith that a good explanation will be found one day and continue to glorify evolution.
Now, a paleontological duo is pushing back the date for complex life on earth. Studying the fossil record in South Australia, University of California–Riverside paleontologist Mary Droser and James G. Gehling of the South Australia Museum say complex multicellular life has been around since at least 565 million years ago. While the traditional evolutionary view was that the first multicellular animals were simple, the team found that its object of study—the “tubular organism” Funisia dorothea—had several ways of growing and reproducing, far from what was expected from such “simple” life.
F. dorothea grew into 12 inch (30cm) tubes that occurred close together, thus displaying a propagation pattern similar to sexually reproductive animals today. “In Funisia, we are very likely seeing sexual reproduction in earth’s early ecosystem, possibly the very first instance of sexual reproduction in animals on our planet,” Doser explained. She also said that F. dorothea “clearly shows that ecosystems were complex very early in the history of animals on Earth.”
University of Edinburgh paleontologist Rachel Wood, who was not involved in the study, added that F. dorothea’s reproductive patterns are similar to those of today’s sponges and corals.
It seems, then, we have another example of a fossil from a “primitive” era that isn’t primitive at all. In fact, one wonders if, had sponges or corals died out long ago, they would have been seen as “primitive” until someone pointed out the actual complexities they hold.
Furthermore, when we learn about how complex life has been around for “so long,” it challenges the Darwinian view of gradual evolution reflected at an even pace throughout the fossil record. What if the fossil record wasn’t a library of millions of years at all, but instead represented the biota present during (mainly) a great catastrophe that covered the earth in sedimentary layers? Recognizing the sorting effects of a global Flood helps us understand the way different groups of life-forms would be buried most of the time in different layers (with polystrate fossils reminding us that the layers were laid down rapidly). This also frees us from wondering, as evolutionists do, where all the complexity and diversity of life came from in such a short time (on the evolutionary scale, anyway). The creation/Flood model thus provides answers that explain the data whereas the evolutionary interpretation yields only more questions.
What is both surprising and unsurprising, however, is the research connection Droser makes with her team’s work on these fossilized sea creatures. “The nature of the early ecosystem also clues us on what to look for on other planets in our search for extraterrestrial life,” she explained. One wonders if secular scientists expect Cambrian explosions to exist in the hypothesized fossil records of other planets! The connection is less surprising, however, in that the team’s research—which was published in a recent issue of Science—was funded in part by NASA.
A team at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University has identified a language feature that only humans have.
The study, which will be published online in Nature Neuroscience, used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to compare human, chimpanzee, and rhesus macaques brain structures. In particular, the team analyzed a brain pathway known as the arcuate fasciculus, which connects areas of the brain involved in language.
Looking at the size and trajectory of the arcuate fasciculus, the team discovered that the human pathway has a “much larger and more widespread projection to areas in the middle temporal lobe.” Lead researcher James Rilling explained that, “In humans, it seems the brain not only evolved larger language regions but also a network of fibers to connect those regions, which supports humans’ superior language capabilities.”
This sort of news is ubiquitous: data that does not support evolution is nonetheless brought into the evolutionary framework. If structures between an ape and a human are similar, it’s hailed as evidence of evolution; if structures differ, it’s hailed as the work of evolution separating us from them. A Christian scientist, on the other hand, with an understanding of biology built on the Bible’s account of creation, can just as easily—more easily, in fact—see humans’ more prominent arcuate fasciculus as a result of God’s endowment of Adam and Eve with language, as they were both made in God’s image, whereas apes were not given language capabilities.
Not only does this study reinforce the biblical worldview, however—it reminds us of the faith required to sustain one’s belief in evolution, since one must accept that language, and the biological equipment behind it, evolved, ultimately, out of genetic mistakes. This is despite the fact that evolution has never been shown to increase the information in any genome.
It seems squid may soon have a use to humans other than calamari, if research at the University of California–Santa Barbara is correct.
The research focuses on a squid’s beak, a sharp weapon squids use to attack whales. Yet researchers have long wondered how squids, which are boneless, wield their beaks, which are made of chitin and other materials, without hurting themselves.
The explanation offered by the UCSB team is that the beak’s density gradually decreases from the harder tip to the soft, flexible base where it connects to the muscle around the squid’s mouth. The decreasing density leaves the beak a potent weapon without rendering it harmful to the squid itself. Intriguingly, the density gradient primarily results from a varying amount of water in different parts of the beak.
Coauthor Herbert Waite, a professor in UCSB’s department of molecular, cellular & developmental biology, suggests the beak could inspire biomedical devices where hard and soft materials must interact. Echoing Waite are other researchers, including Ali Miserez of UCSB, who hypothesizes a prosthesis that “mimics the chemistry of the beak, so that it matches the elasticity of cartilage on one side and, on the other side, you could create a material which is very stiff and abrasion resistant.”
While the beak seems violently fearsome today, we know that it must have had a more productive purpose—presumably such as ingesting tough marine plant life—before the Curse. Even so, God’s brilliant design that hadn’t yet occurred to human engineers is now inspiring innovation—and we have the Creator to thank.
Want a chance to win $1,000 and help show your friends the flaws in Darwinism at the same time?
As part of our run-up to the release of Expelled, we’re highlighting the Adopt a Theater contest. (Expelled is the Ben Stein-hosted film that examines how Darwinian dogma has a stranglehold on academia to the point that it’s stifling academic freedom. Though it does not specifically advocate creation, we believe the film attacks the foundation of evolution that has led so many to deny Scripture.) The five largest groups to go see Expelled when it opens in three weeks will win $1,000 each! Stein and company hope to have one thousand theaters adopted by groups who will give the film added visibility, encouraging many to watch the message and reconsider whether Darwinism is good science or dogma masquerading as established fact.
Even if you’re not planning to lead a group to see the film (opening April 18), make sure you see it yourself, and ask your pastor for the opportunity to promote the film in your church. We hope this film will help many unchurched individuals to recognize the bankruptcy of naturalism and perhaps reconsider the creation story.
Also, be sure to check back Monday for a full preview/review of the film.
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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