1. PhysOrg: “And the First Animal on Earth Was a . . .”

Might a new scientific find be so “shocking” to scientists because it goes against the predictions of evolutionary history?

The first sentence of the press release says it all (well, almost, anyway): “A new study mapping the evolutionary history of animals indicates that Earth's first animal . . . was probably significantly more complex than previously believed.”

The National Science Foundation study (which happened to be the cover article for this week’s issue of the journal Nature) set out to analyze genetic data in order to ascertain the oldest animal lineage on the planet—the first branch on the supposed evolutionary tree of (animal) life. The surprise? It wasn’t the humble, “simple” sponge that diverged first, but rather the much more complex comb jelly.

Researcher Casey Dunn calls the find “a complete shocker[—s]o shocking that we initially thought something had gone very wrong.” Yet after the results were checked and rechecked, the data confirmed that the comb jelly split off first.

This is such a shock to evolutionists because the jellyfish-like Comb Jelly have tissues and a nervous system, complex characteristics that were thought to have evolved later. Sponges, by contrast, lack tissues and nervous systems. Interestingly, this has led to the idea that Comb Jellies evolved their complexity separately from other animal life. The only other possibility, according to the evolutionary model, is that the sponge somehow lost complex features—including a nervous system and tissues—that it once had.

For Bible-believing creationists, the very premise of this study is flawed. Evolutionists, taking it on faith that we all share a common ancestor, believe we can simply compare differences in animal genomes, with larger differences representing a more distant common ancestor and small differences representing a more recent common ancestor.

A somewhat loose analogy might be: suppose someone took it on faith that all computer circuit boards were simply modifications of modifications of modifications (and so on) of the original circuit board—that factory mistakes here or there had resulted in the diversity of computer circuit boards we use today (assuming, of course, at least some of these mistakes weren’t detrimental to the boards). Now, suppose this person, after devising a complicated way to standardize and measure the exact difference between any two working circuit boards, determined that what looks like a modern, high-tech circuit board was actually older and more original than a comparably low-tech, simplistic circuit board. He would at that point have only three options:

  1. “This doesn’t make any sense; my system for measuring and comparing differences—and concluding which board is the oldest—must be flawed in some way.”
  2. “This completely disputes the idea of descent with increasingly higher-tech modification for circuit boards (since we now have many more high-tech boards); maybe something else was responsible for the origin of all these circuit boards.”
  3. “I know that these circuit boards all descended from one original board design, and that means my system of measuring differences must be correct. So I’m just going to have to come up with some explanation for why such an unexpected result occurred.”
  4. In the last option, our hypothetical believer in circuit board descent would employ a “rescuing device”: a “just-so” story that is held by faith but that allows him to hang on to his contradicting beliefs.

    Likewise, the just-so stories required to hang on to belief in evolution—even when data contradicts it—betray the reality that evolution is accepted by faith first, and then the facts are shoehorned into the evolutionary paradigm. Biblical creationists accept something by faith, too: the existence of God and His Revelation (the Bible) to us; then we interpret facts through the biblical worldview (or paradigm).

    So whenever someone tells you it requires (pejoratively) “faith” to accept the Bible’s account of origins, tell them they’re absolutely right. But then tell them that it takes great “faith” to accept any account of origins, and ask them if they would rather put their faith in man’s fallible ideas or in the Word of One who was there.

    2. PhysOrg: “Meteorites Delivered the ‘Seeds’ of Earth’s Left-Hand Life”

    Finally, evolutionists have the hypothesis they need to show that it requires no faith whatsoever to believe that we weren’t created. Or, wait—we have that backwards.

    A hypothetical scenario “may have been enough” to solve one of the biggest conundrums in the evolutionary story of origins. Of course, one hardly hears about this problem from evolutionists except when they think they have an answer.

    The problem concerns the “chirality” of amino acids, fundamental building blocks of life. Chained together, amino acids form the proteins that keep everything from our bodies to microbes functioning. They can be oriented in one of two mirroring ways, left or right. Yet left- and right-handed amino acids cannot cooperate the way same-handed amino acids can.

    Now we come to the problem: virtually all of life on earth (with a few exceptions in several organisms) is based on left-handed amino acids. Yet if amino acids were formed by natural processes, such as was replicated in the Miller–Urey experiment, they would form in equal concentrations of both left-handed and right-handed forms, thus greatly reducing the even nominal chance that a single-handed, functioning, self-replicating code could spontaneously occur. Right-handed amino acids would link up with left-handed ones, rendering the chain useless for the formation of life as we know it.

    Presenting at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society, Columbia professor Ronald Breslow propounded his idea for where all the left-handed amino acids came from: outer space.

    “These meteorites were bringing in what I call the ‘seeds of chirality,’” Breslow said, claiming the seeds formed in interstellar space, possibly on asteroids. His hypothesis is that as asteroids soar past neutron stars, perhaps “circularly polarized” light rays trigger the destruction of some of the right-handed amino acids, leaving a greater percentage of the left-handed form remaining on the asteroid.

    According to Breslow, previous experiments (not cited in the press release) confirm that circularly polarized light selectively destroys amino acids, leading to five to ten percent more of one type of amino acid relative to the other. Breslow cites meteorites in Australia and Tennessee as examples of “left-handed excess.” Breslow claims his next experiments led to the further amplification and eventual dominance of left-handed amino acids due to evaporation. The report then stated: “Eventually, the amino acid in excess became ubiquitous as it was used selectively by living organisms.” But—since we’re talking alleged prebiotic origins—how, without being used selectively by living organisms (since they didn’t exist yet!), was the left-handed form made ubiquitous supposedly billions of years ago? The details of these further experiments are not yet available in current online documentation. Perhaps when the full documentation is available we’ll have more answers (or questions) in regards to this.

    There are other ideas for how left-handed amino acids could have dominated, such as polarized light from distant neutron stars traveling all the way to earth to destroy right-handed amino acids. What’s clear is that all of these scenarios still rely on a great deal of faith—“just-so” stories as in item #1. When it comes to answering the many difficulties of the naturalistic story of the origin of life, evolutionists seem to think that as long as they can generate a possible explanation, that’s enough to cover over a gap in the godless-origin narrative. Never mind the unlikeliness of such stories or the many other remaining gaps. Christians faithfully defend our origins narrative—Genesis—too, but the difference lies in that our narrative was authored by a firsthand witness of the origin of life, and does not rely on man’s fallible, changing ideas.

    3. BBC News: “Ancient Serpent Shows its Leg”

    The strange monster is back: a snake with legs!

    It sounds like an oddity to some: a fossilized snake found in Lebanon with two hind limbs. For others, the serpent of Genesis 3—cursed to walk on its belly—comes to mind. So what does this leggy snake have to do with Genesis and evolution?

    First, the details. This specimen, 33 inches (85cm) long, was originally described back in 2000. The news is that a team at the European Light Source (ESRF) has used X-rays to confirm that the snake indeed had two limbs; only one is visible on the surface of the limestone slab the snake is trapped in. The hind limbs are pretty useless, however, at less than an inch (about two centimeters) long. No toes were found fossilized, either, “but that may be because they are not preserved or because, as this is a vestigial leg, they were never present,” according to ESRF's resident palaeontologist Paul Tafforeau.

    Second, the import of this find. Evolutionists hope fossils like this one will help solve the debate over snake origins: were they terrestrial lizards that lost their limbs after burrowing for generations, or were they marine reptiles instead?

    This find doesn’t faze creationists, though, and we have the same response we’ve had to several other legged snake fossil finds in the past. For instance, two years ago we responded to the Argentine snake fossil; here are a few of those notes (summarized):

    1. If snakes once had legs they’ve now lost, this fits in perfectly with the creation model. The “evolution” we observe around us is all information-reducing, degenerating change. That is, creatures become less sophisticated from their original forms and actually lose features and functionality. It makes sense, then, that snakes may have been created with legs but that over time, natural selection in specific environments favored those without legs—a simpler form. That said, these so-called “legs,” which evolutionists admit were too short in this specimen to be used for ambulation, may have been used in copulation. Perhaps no snakes ever “walked” in any sense.
    2. Evolutionists conceptualize snakes as evolved lizards (or marine reptiles) because it’s the only conclusion from an evolutionary standpoint—yet this conclusion ignores the fact that snakes require a very specialized backbone and some snakes have unhinging jaws, also unlike other reptiles.

    In short, a snake with “legs” neither threatens the creation model nor is any evidence of a genetic information-adding evolutionary transition.

    Now what about the connection between this snake and the serpent of Genesis 3, which was cursed in Genesis 3:14 to crawl on its belly? As we’ve noted previously, fossilized snake forms are most likely from Noah’s Flood, more than a thousand years after the events in Genesis 3. Furthermore, Scripture isn’t specific about the anatomy of the Eden serpent nor if the curse on it applied to all “serpents” or just one.

    4. National Geographic News: “First Lungless Frog Found”

    Scientists have officially recorded a frog, Barbourula kalimantanensis, that has no lungs but instead breathes through its skin.

    Found on the Indonesian island of Borneo, the frog’s lunglessness was discovered during a “routine dissection,” explained National University of Singapore biologist David Bickford, lead researcher on the newly analyzed frog.

    Interestingly, the frog species was originally discovered and described back in 1978, yet because its rarity precluded a dissection, scientists knew nothing about what the frog was missing on the inside. When Bickford found the species on Borneo, he began dissecting them.

    Until now, the only known lungless, four-limbed animals were salamanders. Bickford’s team suggest that, as an amphibian, B. kalimantanensis is sticking to an aquatic breathing mechanism—respiring through its skin because of the higher concentration of dissolved oxygen in fast-flowing, cold water. The B. kalimantanensis is also flat, giving it a large surface area for absorbing oxygen, and has a low metabolic rate, meaning it needs less oxygen anyway.

    So what’s the story on how this frog ended up without lungs? First, University of California–Berkeley biologist David Wake explains that the existence of a lungless frog is unsurprising because tailed frogs are already known for tiny lungs, and (as with most amphibians) get the majority of their oxygen through the skin.

    Thus, there may have been some selective advantage for individuals of this frog species that had a mutation that caused them to grow without lungs. What we see here is a species losing a feature, not gaining one—exactly the opposite of what molecules-to-man evolution predicts. Of course, the other distinct possibility is that God created it that way from the beginning.

    Unfortunately for the research team, whose find was published in Current Biology, the rarity of the species and the fragility of its environment may stand in the way of many more dissections of this mysterious lungless frog.

    5. BBC News: “[Feces] hint at first Americans”

    Coprolites found in a cave in Oregon may confirm that all the original inhabitants of the Americas came from East Asia.

    Writing in the journal Science, researchers describe coprolites—fossilized feces—that allegedly originate from just before the time of the Clovis culture. Many scientists believe the Clovis culture was the first culture in the Americas, yet many believe other cultures predated them. Will the dung settle the dispute?

    Found near other signs of “ancient human occupation,” the coprolites contain a small amount of mitochondrial DNA (non-nuclear DNA almost always transmitted maternally). The researchers have dated this to just over 14,000 years ago, just before dates for the Clovis culture.

    The mtDNA study also connected the cave’s residents to ethnic groups from Siberia and East Asia, adding to evidence that the Americas were settled through Siberia. That’s what’s most interesting to creationists, as it further buttresses the post-Babel model of all language/people groups dispersing from the Middle East, with some eventually making their way to Siberia, across a land bridge to the Americas, and spreading throughout the continents. We would dispute the dating, however, since these dates are based on presuppositions about DNA mutation rates, the origin of humankind, and archeological layers were Clovis culture artifacts have been found.

    Of course, what’s most important is to recognize that the original inhabitants of the Americas, just like the original inhabitants of all the post-Flood continents, were descendants of Noah, dispersed from Babel, inheritors of sin and in need of a Savior—just like everyone reading this paragraph (and everyone who isn’t!).

    By the way, for those who are fascinated with the history of Babel and for those who know less than they would like to about it, take a look at our latest issue of Answers magazine, which features numerous articles on the Tower of Babel in addition to our regular features on other aspects of creation science and biblical authority. Subscribe today!

    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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