Zzzzzap! All it took was a helping of primordial stew and a bolt of lightning—or perhaps the hot gases of an angry volcano—and, voilà, you’ve got life.
It has now been more than half a century since the famous (or infamous) Miller–Urey experiments, which many still claim are evidence for an atheistic origin of life.
In the 1950s, scientists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey were hoping to recreate the supposed conditions of a primeval earth to see if they could engineer organic compounds. They essentially sent sparks through a mixture of gases, with the result being a handful of amino acids, the basic building blocks of proteins. Evolutionists have hailed the experiment as a stunning success ever since, claiming it shows how the necessary ingredients for life could have arisen spontaneously. (BBC News notes that newspapers of the time “were overstating the case when they claimed he had actually recreated life in the lab.”)
Now, there’s a new twist as vials from the experiment have turned up in the hands of one of Miller’s students. When Miller died last year, a former student of his, Jeffrey Bada, inherited his lab materials—including “several little cardboard boxes, taped shut and all dusty, carefully labeled with all of these little vials with dried material from his experiments,” said Bada, now at the University of California–San Diego.
Of specific interest to Bada were vials from experiments Miller conducted to replicate conditions inside a hot volcano. Why? BBC News explains:
These experiments were the ones that intrigued Jeffrey Bada. Because not long after Miller’s original experiments, it became clear the Earth’s early atmosphere was nothing like the “reducing” mixture simulated in his apparatus.
The first experiments remained iconic in their attempt at simulating pre-biotic chemistry, but became irrelevant in detail.
Likewise, the WIRED science blog notes:
Miller is famed for the results of experiments on amino acid formation in a jar filled with methane, hydrogen and ammonia—his version of the primordial soup. However, his estimates of atmospheric composition were eventually considered inaccurate. The experiment became regarded as a general rather than useful example of how the first organic molecules may have assembled.
Those facts are of interest to creationists, who have long pointed out that the Miller–Urey experiment not only didn’t create life or anything near it, but also failed to replicate what evolutionists themselves thought about the early earth. In fact, there were a whole host of problems with the Miller–Urey experiment that remind us how little evolutionists have explained about a supposed “accidental” origin of life (for more, see the linked articles below). (Of course, evolutionists seem to mention those facts more freely now that they’ve found a “better” experiment!)
The hype has now shifted to Miller’s “volcano” experiments, because, according to Bada, the vials made both more of some of the amino acids, and produced a greater diversity of amino acids overall—a total of 22.
“What we suggest is that volcanoes belched out gases just like the ones Stanley had used, and were immediately subjected to intense volcanic lightning,” Bada explained, noting that electrical storms frequently accompany volcanic eruptions. WIRED quotes Indiana University graduate student Adam Johnson, a co-author on Bada’s study, who claimed, “The amino acid precursors formed in a plume and concentrated along tidal shores. They settled in the water, underwent further reactions there, and as they washed along the shore, became concentrated and underwent further polymerization events.”
It sounds like the same old song and dance to us: evolutionists, based on a carefully controlled laboratory scenario, build a just-so story of how things just maybe, just might have come together and—like magic!—fallen right into line as chains of RNA. Never mind that creating amino acids would only be the first step of many progressively more unlikely ones in organizing life. Never mind that they cannot explain how a meaningful code for building proteins could arise in the first place, let alone how chemicals could organize into cells more complicated than our latest technology. Never mind that they have yet to show, experimentally or otherwise, how a genome can mutate new information. Never mind that . . . (the list goes on).
If one has the faith in directionless chance that evolutionists do, why even bother with a step-by-step model of how life originated? They may as well believe that in a primordial pool one day, every single molecule—by pure chance—organized in exactly the right place to create a fully formed human!
Chinese paleontologists have discovered another “feathered dinosaur.” So how should we interpret it: a “feathered” dinosaur or a feathered “dinosaur”?
About the size of a pigeon, Epidexipteryx is described by BBC News as “very bird-like,” though it lacked flight feathers. According to the evolution interpretation of the fossil record, it lived more than 150 million years ago, before the time of birds—hence, it must have been a dinosaur, right?
Among the features indicated by the fossil was a “fluffy, down-like covering and . . . two pairs of enormously long, ribbon-like shafted tail feathers” probably for ornamentation only.
Oxford University’s Graham Taylor noted, “Whereas other feathered dinosaurs date from after the appearance of the first known bird, this fossil appears to be much closer in age, so it opens a new window on the evolutionary events at the critical transition from dinosaurs to birds.”
Paleontologist Fucheng Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences explained, “Although possessing many derived features seen in birds . . . [Epidexipteryx] show[s] some striking features . . . not known in any other theropod [dinosaur].”
In other words, the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that this fossil was some form of bird, not a dinosaur, and the only reason it has been labeled a dinosaur is its location in the fossil record. So much for evolutionists following the evidence wherever it leads! Epidexipteryx may have been a bird that was either designed to be flightless or was flightless because its lost it flight feathers, possibly due to a mutation (unless they weren’t fossilized for other reasons), and was toothed like other extinct birds found in the fossil record. Perhaps this specimen was even kept by pre-Flood humans as a show bird, its flight feathers plucked away to keep it from flying off. That unprovable story seems more probable than this “feathered dinosaur” claim!
Thus, we have to label this a feathered “dinosaur”!
Out come the dinosaurs and down comes the disco ball—a lively social scene from 190 million years ago?
More than 1,000 dinosaur footprints found on a rock in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument (on the border of Arizona and Utah) have scientists making dance jokes galore. “Get out there and try stepping in their footsteps, and you feel like you are playing the game Dance Dance Revolution that teenagers dance on,” cracks the University of Utah’s Marjorie Chan.
Publishing in the journal PALAIOS, Chan’s team reports on the odd site, which covers just under an acre (0.3 ha). The footprints are from at least four different dinosaur species and are from both adults and juveniles. There are also the marks of dinosaur tails dragging along the ground. (See photos of the site hosted by National Geographic News and LiveScience.)
The scientists believe the sandstone site may have been near an ancient watering hole among sand dunes, all of which was buried by the shifting sand 190 million years ago.
So—is that all?
It’s interesting to read how news organizations frequently pass off such news as this “dinosaur dance floor” find unchallenged. But the National Geographic News’s coverage reminds us how much interpretation goes into science.
Whereas other news sources plainly state the discovery of dinosaur footprints as a scientific fact, National Geographic News’s Rebecca Carroll quotes dissenting paleontologists Alan Titus and Andrew Milner. “I’ve observed thousands of tracks [of one of the dinosaurs the team identified] in early Jurassic rocks of the Colorado Plateau and have never seen one that looked like the one in the news release,” said Titus.
According to Milner, “What they’re showing here look nothing like [the tracks of one of the dinosaur species] in my opinion.”
And paleontologist Jim Kirkland, who accepts that the footprints were made by dinosaurs, nevertheless said he is “leery” about the identification of tail-dragging marks.
Now, these may all turn out to be dinosaur tracks and marks indeed; our point is just that the news media is usually quick to hype the findings of one science team (which has an incentive to make its discovery as impressive-sounding as possible) and present it all as science fact. Bible believers should keep this in mind when it comes to any sort of news, and especially science news.
As for the tracks, they certainly could be legitimate dinosaur tracks (some especially have a clear pattern of toes), despite other scientists’ skepticism. Our rhetorical question is, if they are footprints (and tail prints), how likely is it that they would be preserved (as sandstone) without the catastrophic forces of water and high pressures, such as the Genesis Flood?
Boeings and Airbuses of the world, step aside: there’s a newly recognized king (or, in this case, queen) of the long-haul flight.
The bar-tailed godwit, a migratory bird, has set the record for the longest known nonstop bird flight, reports Discovery on research by the U.S. Geological Survey. Scientists tracked a female named E7 as it flew nonstop for 7,257 miles (11,679 km) from western Alaska to New Zealand, nearly double the previous bird-flight record—a still-astonishing 4,038 miles (6,499 km).
What’s more, the bird probably didn’t even glide. Bar-tailed godwits use forward flapping for flight and “seldom” glide, according to Robert Gill, Jr., lead author of the study.
E7 was just one of several godwits tracked by transmitter as they made the long migration, a journey lasting between 5 and 10 days. Before the godwits set out on their long flight, they “tank up” on fuel—food such as tiny clams, in their case. The godwits also take advantage of tailwinds as much as possible, of course.
According to Rob Schuckard of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand, the human feat equivalent to the godwit’s journey would be sprinting at 43.5 miles per hour (70 km/h) for a week straight without resting. Any volunteers?
The study authors, writing in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, conclude that oceans, mountains, deserts, and other geographic barriers may not be the impasses they were once considered for migrating animals.
As for the humble godwit, its incredible journey and endurance is a fantastic testimony to the Creator’s design in the animal kingdom.
“There’s probably no God”: a friendly reminder from your neighborhood atheist?
Buses plastered with that phrase may be cruising London streets soon. Smaller print below suggests in red-and-yellow lettering, “Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
The poster is the brainchild of the British Humanist Association, who organized the campaign with partial funding from sometimes-cantankerous atheist Richard Dawkins. The original funding goal was £11,000 ($17,802)—half from supporters, the other half in matching money from Dawkins. But according to the campaign’s website, nearly £90,000 (just under $150,000) has been pulled in already. This will presumably sustain the campaign’s duration or widen its scope; it was originally to be featured on 60 buses for four weeks. Now, the BHA may expand to Birmingham, Manchester, and Edinburgh.
“Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride—automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children,” Dawkins said. “Even on the buses, nobody thinks twice when they see a religious slogan plastered across the side.”
Apparently Dawkins and fellow atheists want to claim their share of the “brainwashing” market, yet his comment that “nobody thinks twice” about religious slogans seems to indicate widespread societal disinterest in religion—exactly what Dawkins wants!
While Dawkins added that the campaign “will make people think,” Methodist Church spirituality and discipleship officer Jenny Ellis keenly retorted in gratitude, thanking Dawkins for encouraging “continued interest in God” and getting people to “engage with the deepest questions of life.” Dawkins seems to believe “religious thinker” is an oxymoron—even claiming, in contradiction with Matthew 22:37, that “thinking is anathema to religion”—but the fact remains that, as Ellis put it, “Christianity is for people who aren’t afraid to think about life and meaning.” Dawkins’ view of Christians as uniformly unthinking will likely resonate only with fellow atheists—who all presumably ignore atheists and agnostics who haven’t given much thought to God.
Also, there’s the obvious question of what should motivate atheists to spend their own sweat and treasure to convince others that they’re “wrong.” Not only is there no epistemological foundation for truth in a godless universe (hence the “probably” in the campaign slogan), but if humans had truly evolved, where’s the incentive for atheists to waste their time and resources promoting their philosophy?
We also disagree with the campaign’s suggestion that the lack of a god means you should just “stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Is it a comfort to imagine one lives in a world with no morals; no afterlife or resurrection; no inherent right, wrong, or truth; no meaning whatsoever? Does it confer much enjoyment for one to believe that death is the one inevitable fact of life, that everyone’s worldly pleasures will be forgotten? And what about the victims of Darwinism and atheism—from those killed by Hitler, Stalin, and Mao to those massacred by Darwin-believing school students? Removing the fear of God and replacing it with a “do what you want” attitude only sounds good before one thinks about it (again, in contravention with what Dawkins believes about thinking and religion).
Finally, we have to laugh—or cry—at the wording of the campaign, which some atheists have cringed at. In addition to (allegedly) helping the campaign get on the buses, the word “probably” is reminiscent of Dawkins’s atheistic thesis that there is “almost certainly” no god. It reflects the impossibility of disproving the existence of God in general and the atheist’s shifting foundation for truth in specific.
But imagine if an organization paid for some of these bus campaigns:
You can imagine the outcry! Detractors would point out that the consequences of an asteroid hitting earth, terrorists armed with nukes, or a large-scale flood are severe enough that it’s foolish and ignorant to merely dismiss the possibility as “unlikely” and be done with it. Famous mathematician (and creationist) Blaise Pascal thought up his well-known “wager” to explain why, even if a person is agnostic on God’s existence, it is wiser to have faith, fear God, and try to live piously. C. S. Lewis echoed Pascal with his character Puddleglum’s faithfulness in the Narnia series book The Silver Chair.
We pray that the atheist bus campaign, rather than an in-your-face suggestion of atheism, will instead remind individuals of the deeper questions of life. And we hope the insertion of “probably” reminds them of the weakness of atheistic and agnostic arguments.
If Earth’s neighbor Venus—known for high pressure, high temperatures, and toxic gases—sounds unwelcoming, wait till you learn about planet WASP-12b.
WASP-12b is one of the newest extrasolar planets discovered. A gas giant twice as large as Jupiter, the largest planet of our solar system, WASP 12-b is so close to its star that it orbits about once a day!
As far as space tourism goes, don’t expect trips to the planet anytime soon. For one thing, the planet is 870 light-years away. But more important is that the planet is thought to be around 4,000˚F (2,200˚C)—perhaps slightly balmier than what summer vacationers would normally prefer!
LiveScience author Clara Moskowitz asks, “[D]iscoveries like this raise the question, are planets like this in fact more common in the universe than planets like Earth?” Don Pollacco of Queen’s University in Northern Ireland answers:
Is our solar system the freak, or are these other solar systems the freaks? Who knows? I suspect that for life to evolve as we know it, you have to have a special set of circumstances come together to produce very specific conditions.
Pollacco is a project scientist for SuperWASP (Super Wide Angle Search for Planets), the team that originally discovered WASP-12b. It’s important to keep in mind that, with current technology, astronomers can’t actually observe extrasolar planets. Rather, they use indirect methods to infer the existence of such planets and extrapolate facts about them, such as size and mass. The most common method of detection is to observe the wobble of a distant star as orbiting planets exert gravitational pull. The less common method used to detect WASP 12-b is to track dips in the brightness of stars as orbiting planets temporarily obscure the view from Earth.
What’s certain is that discoveries of extrasolar planets are continuing reminders of how unique Earth is. Even the few “Earth-like” extrasolar planets discovered prompt the question, why is Earth so special?
Unsurprisingly, evolutionists hold on to their faith that eventually other Earth-like planets—with signs of life—will be found, confirming the evolutionary tale. Even when the rest of the solar system turned up devoid of life, the search just moved out into the rest of the galaxy. Our guess is that even if the entire Milky Way galaxy was shown to be devoid of life, evolutionists would just await the day when extra-galactic planets could be detected, hoping that perhaps they will turn up signs of life.
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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