1. The Advocate/WBRZ: “Senate Sends Jindal bill on Evolution”

Louisiana is poised to be the bane of evolutionists everywhere by promoting “critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories.”

This week, both houses of the Louisiana legislative branch approved Louisiana Senate Bill 733, a.k.a. the Louisiana Science Education Act, and the bill now goes to Gov. Bobby Jindal for approval. The bill aims to introduce more academic freedom in Louisiana science classes, specifically on the topics of evolution, global warming, and human cloning.

Sen. Ben Nevers, a sponsor of the bill, justified the bill by arguing the importance of supplemental science information when textbooks are only updated every seven years. Of course, critics believe the supplemental materials will be religiously themed creationist materials.

An article in the Christian Post quotes John West, vice president for public policy and legal affairs at the Intelligent Design-backing Discovery Institute, who explains that:

The proposed Louisiana law expressly states in Section 1C that it “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.”

Thus, it will be an interesting legal battle if—or perhaps when—there is a lawsuit and the bill does make it into the courts. As Answers in Genesis has made clear on numerous occasions, while we do not support forcing all science teachers—evolutionist and creationist alike—to teach evidence against evolution, we do support efforts to allow voluntary, open discussion of the creation–evolution controversy in public school classrooms.

Meanwhile, the Americans United for Separation of Church and State blog touts a new poll conducted by several national scientific societies (including the National Academy of Sciences and National Science Teachers Associations) that “runs contrary to studies through the years, which showed Americans backing creationist accounts to the findings of evolutionary biology.”

The poll’s questions, however, were apparently poorly thought through. For instance, the blog touts that 61% of the respondents answered “yes” to whether they believed “all living things” evolved over time. But we would answer “yes” to this question, too (as we’ll explain below), and we’re certainly not backers of mainstream evolutionary biology! Take a look at this section of report:

We asked half of the respondents about their views on the evolution of “all living things” and found that 61% accepted that “all living things have evolved over time.” Of those, 36% thought all living things “evolved due to natural processes such as natural selection,” and 25% thought “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating life in the form it exists today.” . . . [W]e found weaker overall support for creationism: 28% and 31% agreed with statements that “all living things” or “humans and other living things,” respectively, were created in their present form.

Whoever wrote the questions was apparently uninformed of actual creationists beliefs. As we said above, we at Answers in Genesis would answer that all living things have “evolved” over time—since creation—just not in an upward fashion, with one kind of animal evolving into another kind. Instead, the changes life undergoes are what we observe—changes based on variations in their pre-existing genetic makeup and natural selection.

We would also answer that this “evolution” has happened due to natural processes, not because of God’s guidance, because we believe God’s creative acts ended on Day 6—before the effects of death and natural selection.

Finally, to the question of whether God created all living things in their present form, we would have to say no, because we do believe change has occurred since Eden. Thus, according to this poll, we’d be framed as anti-creationist evolutionists! And the rest of the poll is similarly based on poor knowledge of what most creationists actually believe.

Of course, since the response to previous polls—which have often shown significant public support for creationism and intelligent design—has been calls for more evolutionary education, shouldn’t evolutionists’ response to this poll be, “Relax, creationism’s on the run! No need to give such emphasis to evolution education”? Don’t expect it!

For more information:

2. BBC News: “Trio of ‘Super-Earths’ Discovered”

None of them have been named Krypton, but astronomers have identified three “Super-Earths” in a star system 42 light-years from Earth.

The three planets are rocky and each has a mass between two and ten times that of earth. The star they orbit, named HD 40307, is located near the constellations Doradus and Pictor and is slightly smaller than our own sun. The planets were detected using the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (Harps) spectograph at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

The scientists also used Harps data to identify 45 other “candidate planets” that likely weigh less than 30 times the mass of earth. According to the team’s report, this implies that one out of every three sun-like stars has such a planet.

One important thing to keep in mind is that astronomers aren’t actually observing these planets directly. Instead, the Harps spectograph measures the subtle gravitational pull a planet exerts on its star during its orbit—which appears to be a tiny “wobble” around the star’s center of mass. Astronomers can then mathematically infer information about orbiting planets.

For many astronomers, the fuel for finding extrasolar planets (also called “exoplanets”) is the by-faith belief that where there’s an earth-like planet (with water, that is) surrounding a sun-like star, life will soon follow if it hasn’t already.

Starting with the Bible, what should Christians think of exoplanets and exoplanetary research? First, we should understand that exploring God’s creation—with the intention of learning about and glorifying God—is fully compatible with the biblical worldview. Astronomy is not a dangerous anti-biblical field unless one begins with anti-biblical presuppositions.

Second, there is the perennial allegation that the vastness of space and the seeming infinitude of other stars, galaxies, and—now it seems—planets must surely mean Christians are wrong in assuming we are the center of God’s plan. Not only does this allegation run counter to Scripture, but accepting it would force us to ask questions like: was Adam not the true center of God’s plan because he was a single human in the vastness of the original earth? Rather than telling us that we are insignificant and unimportant, the size of space is a reminder of how huge God is—so unfathomably beyond us that it boggles our minds to think that He created it all! And it’s there as a reminder each night when we look at the stars.

For more information:

  • The existence and origin of extrasolar planets
  • Extrasolar planets suggest our solar system is unique and young
  • Get Answers: Astronomy & Astrophysics
  • Get Answers: Alien Life/UFOs
  • Get Answers: Origin of LIfe
  • 3. ScienceNOW: “Life Cooked Up in Outer Space?”

    “The odds are improving that life exists beyond Earth,” begins a ScienceNOW article, crediting the change to a study of a “billions-of-years-old” meteorite.

    The article reviews other “tantalizing but inconclusive” evidence of life beyond our planet, though we would label the evidence “tantalizing” only when laden with evolutionary interpretation. Among the evidence mentioned is the possibility that water once flowed on Mars as well as the discovery of “organic molecules” on or around other planetary bodies.

    As for the new evidence—“not a slam dunk,” ScienceNOW cautions—it’s a meteorite found in Australia in 1969 that is now claimed to harbor components of RNA and DNA. Hence the evolutionary hullabaloo, since a popular God-free model of origins is that life literally hit earth from outer space.

    The team, led by Zita Martins of Imperial College London, conducted chemical analysis on the Murchison meteorite and discovered it harbored the substances xanthine and uracil. Both are nucleobases, which are necessary for RNA and DNA to replicate. The evidence does point to extraterrestrial origin for the nucleobases, because the carbon atoms in the xanthine and uracil are an isotope that is “extremely rare” on earth.

    Here’s the leap: evolutionists cling to the hope that the most basic non-reproducing, unorganized molecular compounds, if placed together long enough in the right conditions, will eventually—by chance interactions (since there are no reproductive cycles to allow natural selection) create life. Even if this were true, it would only be a competing model—not a disproof—of the Bible’s creation account. But science has never shown how these congregating molecules could associate in just the right positions to spontaneously form meaningful RNA or DNA strands—nonetheless how those strands would have meaning without a pre-existing code.

    4. LiveScience: “Like Humans, Other Apes Plan Ahead”

    Chimps and orangutans are capable of sophisticated “mental time travel,” reports LiveScience on research at Lund University in Sweden.

    Researchers Mathias and Helena Osvath experimented with two female chimps and one orangutan at the Lund University Primate Research Station to determine if they were able to postpone gratification for the sake of greater future benefits. The apes were taught to use a hose to extract fruit soup. Afterward, the apes were given their favorite fruit alongside the hose to see if they would choose the immediate reward (their favorite fruit) or the later, larger payoff they could get using the hose (the fruit soup).

    The apes more frequently controlled themselves and chose to use the hose to receive the larger payoff later on. This shows, according to the Osvaths, that they are capable of planning (in a way) for the future—or “mental time travel,” the Osvaths say.

    Although such ability to plan ahead, postpone gratification, and “imagine future events” may exist in crows as well, notes the article, this is the first time non-humans have been conclusively shown to engage in advanced planning. The Osvaths report:

    This suggests that the advanced mental capacities utilized in human future planning are shared by phylogenetically more ancient species than previously believed. . . . [C]apacities central to humans evolved much earlier than previously believed.

    Hence we end up with media reports that “[c]himps and orangutans plan for the future just like us”—just like us! Interestingly, one commenter on the LiveScience article asks rhetorically, “Don’t squirrels bury their nuts?”; also, dogs burying bones and birds ferrying worms to their young also come to mind as forms of animal planning. Yet apparently these examples fail to fit the evolutionary stereotype of apes as “just like us,” and thus—once again—we read of an experiment that began with evolutionary presuppositions and produced results that are interpreted as support for evolution. It’s even less surprising, in fact, when we read that the research was partially funded by the European Union’s SEDSU project—Stages in the Evolution and Development of Sign Use.

    Apes are incredible creatures, and research into animal behavior and intellect has revealed that in many ways animal minds aren’t so different from our own. Yet, not being made in God’s image, animals have a clearly separate role from humankind. Without the adulteration of evolutionary theory, we would be more free to accurately understand the true nature and origin of animal behavior.

    5. National Geographic News: “‘Amazing’ Dinosaur Trove Discovered in Utah”

    A quarry “crowded” with fossils is a “shocker” to paleontologists, reports National Geographic News.

    The Hanksville–Burpee Quarry, near Hanksville, Utah, is the newly discovered home of fossilized dinosaurs, petrified trees, and other gems of natural history. Among the dinosaurs unearthed in just three weeks are at least two meat-eating dinosaurs, a probable Stegosaurus, and four sauropod dinosaurs.

    “Nobody anticipated the scale or the scope of what was there. Once they started excavating, they realized that the magnitude was far more than they had expected,” explained Scott Foss, a Bureau of Land Management paleontologist.

    Scientists believe the quarry may have once been a bend in a large, ancient river, where dinosaur carcasses were washed downstream into a logjam of now-fossilized bones along with petrified trees and preserved clams. In other words, yet again, the force of moving water is credited for transporting and contributing to the fossilization process. As the waters of the great Flood of Noah’s time fell from above and rose from below, waters would have swept through and carved out channels, carrying animals and sorting them along the way, with many preserved as they were buried in the resulting sediments. The fossils left by the great Flood give us a history of death—not death millions of years before God’s “very good” creation, but death as a result of the pervasive sinfulness of mankind before the Flood.

    6. New York Times: “Helpful Bacteria May Hide in Appendix” [Free registration required]

    If you’re a creationist, you’ve probably known it for a long time; if you’re an evolutionist, you may be just finding out: the human appendix does have a function.

    The New York Times reports what creationists have reported since at least as far back as 1988: the appendix has a function and is not a “vestigial” legacy of evolution. The Times’s Nicholas Bakalar writes:

    Some experts have guessed that it is a vestige of the evolutionary development of some other organ, but there is little evidence for an appendix in our evolutionary ancestors. Few mammals have any appendix at all, and the appendices of those that do bears little resemblance to the human one.

    Bakalar covers a report published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology that suggests that the appendix is a “safe house” for digestion-aiding, disease-fighting bacteria. Isolated and nearly cut off from the rest of the digestive system, the appendix offers a haven where good bacteria could “hide out” during, e.g., a digestive infection. But in modern, industrialized countries, where sanitation and medical care renders intestinal disease unlikely and easily controlled, the appendix can be removed without adverse consequences. But the lead author of the study, Duke assistant professor of surgery William Parker, cautioned, “If your appendix gets inflamed, forget about the fact that it might have some function.”

    Dr. Parker emphasized that although this was “not experimental proof,” it was “a deduction based on a lot of information that we’ve had for many years and some key pieces of information that have only been uncovered recently.” The argument that the appendix is evidence of evolution—a useless “leftover” of natural selection—should by now be a vestigial argument! Nonetheless, assistant professor of anatomy Rebecca Fisher of the University of Arizona still ties the appendix back to evolution, saying the appendix is “likely to be a derived feature, selected for a purpose, the enigma is that we didn’t know what that purpose might be.”

    How’s this for an answer: the appendix is yet another clever design of a loving God. We can only speculate its pre-Curse function—presumably it helped maintain microbe levels in the digestive system—but the maladies of infections and appendicitis happened only after the Curse.

    7. Ars Technica: “ Nobel Intent Asks: What Do You Think of an Evolution Museum?

    Though we doubt the idea will go anywhere, one evolutionist has come up with a new way to counter AiG’s Creation Museum: building an Evolution Museum right across the street!

    No, it’s not a joke—at least, not as far as we can tell. According to its mission statement, the Evolution Museum “believes that all people must be educated on the theory of evolution. The world needs balance and the Evolution Museum aims to create balance in the Midwestern states of the U.S.” The plan, farcical or not, is to put the museum “right across the highway” (presumably across Interstate 275) from the Creation Museum.

    The Ars Technica column Nobel Intent solicited opinions from its readers on the project, interestingly opining that building a museum is “tak[ing] a page out of the creationist playbook.”

    Judging by the reader comments, most evolutionists aren’t lining up to support the Evolution Museum. “Won‘t this give legitimacy to the creationists’ argument that ‘both sides’ need to be taught?” asked one reader, while another offered, “It would almost be an implicit acknowledgment that creationism is equal to evolution.” Many pointed out that there are already numerous natural history museums that are in effect “evolution museums”—the same conclusion drawn by AiG’s Bodie Hodge, who said:

    There are hundreds of museums without a bent on creation in the Midwest, and yet one Creation Museum. So if they want another evolution-based museum to tip the scales in their favor, then they just revealed that one Creation Museum is as good as (or better) than the hundreds of evolution-based museums already. That is actually a great compliment!

    Indeed, if anything, the remarkable success of the Creation Museum (more than 435,000 visitors in just over a year) demonstrates how out-of-sync most natural history museums are with actual public beliefs about origins—and how apparently threatening or disturbing just one history museum built around the Bible is to the temples of Darwin.

    For more information:

    8. Newsweek: “A Life Dictated By the Bell”

    An off-hand comment by a firefighter writing in Newsweek reminds us of the immense influence of the creation–evolution debate.

    It’s not news we’d normally cover in News to Note, newsworthy though it may be: 50-year-old firefighter David Fraser discusses how his life as a quick-responding emergency services professional has taken its toll on his body. “Fifty may not be that old in the private sector,” Fraser writes, “but it’s not the perfect age for throwing ladders against buildings or crawling through crashed cars in the middle of the night.”

    It’s an engaging read, and the article reminds us all to be thankful for and keep in prayer all firefighters, EMTs, police officers, and other public servants.

    What ties the article to AiG is a comment Fraser makes, ostensibly for humor’s sake, in paragraph three, when discussing his worries over the health of his prostate:

    Thirty years ago I would not have known that a prostate has a fairly predictable life span. Now I know that it is an organ designed to live a happy life of about 50 years until it swells up and keeps you from properly using a bathroom. I doubt that either evolutionists or creationists can account for that flaw in intelligent design.

    Actually—it may sound odd for us to say—but both evolutionists and creationists would claim to account for the problems of the prostate. Evolutionists would argue, for instance, that evolution merely works with the genes it has, continually refining and perfecting life, but that we’re still flawed “works in progress.” Of course, we dispute the very possibility of molecules-to-man evolution.

    For creationists, lambasting God’s “intelligent designs” is both profane and thoughtless, since it passes the blame for the Fall and the Curse from Adam and Eve to God. Just as with the appendix, the prostate was created with a specific function, part of the created human body in a world free from death and suffering. The Curse changed all that, and all of us now have to face the day-to-day consequences of living in this world and would have to face the eternal consequence of hell if it weren’t for God’s saving grace through His son Jesus Christ.

    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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