1. CNN: “Mekong a ‘Treasure Trove’ of 1,000 Newly Discovered Species”

Among a myriad of new species discovered in Asia’s Mekong River region is a rat. What’s so surprising about that?

The Laotian rock rat (Laonastes aenigmamus) is just one of 1,068 new or otherwise unexpected species found inhabiting the region in the last decade, reports the World Wildlife Fund. For centuries, it was believed to have been extinct for 11 million years. (See an image of the rat on the Telegraph article.)

The rat, with its thick tail resembling a squirrel, was somewhat humorously discovered by a scientist visiting an outdoor restaurant. Its “reappearance” was originally announced back in 2006 (before the first-ever edition of News to Note, sadly), and we even mentioned it in a feedback article in 2007. Such so-called living fossils stand (quite literally) in opposition to the millions-of-years interpretation of the fossil record.

According to Dekila Chungyalpa, director of the WWF’s Mekong Program, scientists are now discovering two new species a week in the region, on average. We look forward to the next “long extinct” creature that suddenly appears—at an outdoor restaurant or elsewhere!

2. PhysOrg: “Earth’s Original Ancestor was LUCA, Study on Origins of Life”

LUCA: I am your father?

From the University of Montreal comes “another argument against intelligent design,” if the press releases can be believed.

Québécois and French researchers have published a new study in Nature postulating the characteristics of the so-called “Last Universal Common Ancestor” of all life, or LUCA. But the press release notes that the “3.8-billion-year-old organism was not the creature usually imagined” and that the study “changes ideas of early life on Earth.”

But just how, you ask? Study coauthor Nicolas Lartillot, a professor of bioinformatics at the University of Montreal, reports, “It is generally believed that LUCA was a heat-loving or hyperthermophilic organism. . . . However, our data suggests that LUCA was actually sensitive to warmer temperatures and lived in a climate below 50 degrees.”

And what data is that, you ask? Lartillot continues, “We identified common genetic traits between animals, plant, bacteria, and used them to create a tree of life with branches representing separate species. These all stemmed from the same trunk—LUCA, the genetic makeup that we then further characterized.” In other words, whatever we all have in common, that must have been what LUCA was.

According to the release, the research supports the idea that earliest life on earth used RNA as opposed to DNA, though the release doesn’t explain how. But there’s a twist, as the release reveals:

RNA is particularly sensitive to heat and is unlikely to be stable in the hot temperatures of the early Earth. The data of Dr. Lartillot with his collaborators indicate that LUCA found a cooler micro-climate to develop, which helps resolve this paradox and shows that environmental micro domains played a critical role in the development of life on Earth.

What it sounds like to us is that the evolution-driven conclusions of these researchers run completely contrary to what evolutionists believe about the early earth. To solve the problem, they posit cooler “micro-climates,” without any evidence, that conveniently bypass the contradiction. Now that takes faith!

So far even the most widely accepted evolutionary scenarios for the origin of life rely completely on imagination and guesswork and are wholly based on presupposing that life evolved (e.g., by extrapolating back to the supposed LUCA). That actually doesn’t surprise us; when dealing with the unrepeatable past, operations science (experiments, repeatable results, falsifiable hypotheses) doesn’t work. It all comes down to presupposed stories about the past.

3. Harris Interactive: “More Americans Believe in the Devil, Hell and Angels than in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution”

In a poll sure to make nearly everyone cringe—for varying reasons—more respondents were found to believe in “the devil, hell, and angels” than in Darwinism.

The Harris Poll surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults on a variety of questions related to the supernatural, both Christian (e.g., God, creation) and occult (e.g., witches, astrology). The poll also broke respondents into groups based on religious affiliation (Catholic or Protestant) and frequency of church attendance. Among the most interesting results:

  • 80 percent of all respondents believe in God; 93 percent of Catholics and 95 percent of Protestants (strange that 5-7% of self-identified Catholics and Protestants are apparently atheists).
  • 47 percent of all respondents accept Darwinism. Catholics are more likely (52 percent) than average to accept it, while Protestants are less likely (32 percent). 67 percent of those who never attend religious services said they accept Darwinism.
  • 40 percent of all respondents accept creationism, with those attending religious services at least weekly the most likely to accept it (64 percent); that number was strongly correlated with frequency of church attendance. Accepting creationism were 54 percent of Protestants and 46 percent of Catholics overall.
  • Belief in miracles, heaven, the deity of Christ, angels, the Resurrection, survival of the soul after death, hell, the virgin birth, and the devil were similar between Catholics and Protestants. However, Catholics were significantly more likely than Protestants to believe in ghosts, UFOs, and astrology.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, the group most likely to believe in ghosts (56 percent), UFOs (50 percent), astrology (39 percent), and reincarnation (33 percent) were those who attend religious services less than once a year (the category just ahead of those who never attend religious services). Presumably these respondents are neither grounded in religion nor are materialists, leaving them particularly susceptible to believe in the paranormal.

Questions were also asked about what constituted the “word of God,” though the results were not broken up according to religious attendance. Of all respondents, approximately 55 percent believe all or most of the Bible is God’s Word; for the Torah, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon the figures were 26, 9, and 10 percent, respectively.

Most of the findings are unsurprising, of course, and are reminders of the cultural divide in our society. In the past we’ve reported how Christians and theists are actually less likely to believe in (or “more skeptical of,” you could say) the paranormal than are those without religious affiliation.

What is most clear is something else we all already know: the church has as much of a mission as it ever has, and the harvest is as plentiful as ever.

4. The Telegraph: “View from the Lab: Incest”

We are all descended from the same ancestor about 5,000 years ago—the claim of an evolutionist?

The claim sounds like it could have originated with young-earth creationists such as ourselves, but it in fact belongs to evolutionary geneticist Steve Jones—who is certainly no friend of creationists. (This is the same Jones who claimed earlier this year that human evolution “is over.”)

In his “View from the Lab” column in the Telegraph, Jones writes:

... [L]ike it or not, each of us marries someone from our own family, because we have no choice. It’s arithmetic: if everyone has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents and so on, quite soon the numbers become huge and we run out of possible ancestors. The answer is simple: we share them with our spouses.

Jones is certainly not the first person (not even the first evolutionist) to arrive at such a conclusion, though in evolutionists’ perspective on the matter, we only share one of many ancestors as recently as 5,000 years ago, whereas the Bible teaches that our sole male and female ancestor were alive around 6,000 years ago, and that we all are descended from those two (through Noah’s sons and their wives).

Either way, the conclusion is the same: we’re all related, and “incest” becomes an issue of degree, though the danger now is particularly associated with those closely related, such as first cousins. This is because of the buildup of deleterious mutations in the human genome over time. However, just after God’s perfect creation, Adam and Eve and their offspring wouldn’t have had many, if any, such mutations. That’s why God instituted laws against incest not until the time of Moses, by which point dangerous mutations were more common and posed a threat to the offspring of those closely related.

5. AP: “Scientist Says He Found the Oldest Spider Web”

As we’ve been warning you: don’t get caught in the millions-of-years web!

Oxford University paleobiologist Martin Brasier has announced the discovery of the world’s oldest spider web, encased in a piece of amber. While Brasier claims the webbing is some 140 million years old, he notes, “You can match the details of the spider’s web with the spider’s web in my garden.”

The amber was found on a British shoreline two years ago by someone the AP describes as an “amateur fossil-hunter.” The report notes that “the minuscule strands show that spiders had been spinning circle-shaped webs well into prehistory.” Preserved along with the strands were bits of fossilized vegetable matter and bits of burnt sap.

While this certainly is a fascinating little discovery, the dating of the amber is 100 percent interpretation, wholly based on presuppositions about the past. Within the long-ages/evolutionary worldview, this find would reveal that spider webs of today apparently haven’t changed from spider webs of the time of dinosaurs—no evolution there! But what this find really tells us (or reminds us, actually) is that spiders have always been spiders, ever since creation—about 6,000 years ago.

6. AAP: “Students to be Taught there’s No God”

For primary school students in the Australian state of Victoria, the humanist indoctrination of state courses is no longer a subtle matter.

“Victorian state primary school students will soon be able to take religious education classes which teach there is no evidence God exists,” the Australian Associated Press report begins. The new course, developed by the Humanist Society of Victoria, is designed to counter religious instruction courses, both of which students can opt out of through parent intervention.

The courses will be taught by “accredited volunteers” who will presumably proclaim the humanist doctrine that says ethics have “no necessary connection with religion.”

Commenting on the story in his blog, Ken Ham writes:

Well, at least it is in the right place—in the religious education classes, as atheism is a religion. It is an anti-Christian religion—but it is a religion. Actually, what many Americans don’t understand is that when the Bible, God, creation, prayer, etc. were basically removed from the public schools in the USA, this did not leave the public education system in a non-religious (or neutral) position. Now students in that system are taught how to explain the universe and life without God—this is the religion of atheism. Atheism is now the basic religion taught in the American public school system and in the science classes.

For more information:

7. Fox News: “Scientists Call AP Report on Global Warming ‘Hysteria’”

A group of scientists skeptical of the connection between humans and climate change has taken aim at a recent AP article.

The AP report, by Seth Borenstein, claimed that global warming was a “ticking time bomb” that was “accelerating.” Among the critics are University of Oklahoma geologist David Deming, retired University of Idaho chemist Michael Fox, and Florida State University professor emeritus James O’Brien.

“If the issues weren’t so serious and the ramifications so profound, I would have to laugh at it,” Deming explained. “The mean global temperature, at least as measured by satellite, is now the same as it was in the year 1980.”

According to Deming, the article is evidence that the media talks about global warming as fact—despite a lack of evidence. The Associated Press stands behind the report.

“There’s very little that’s right about [the report]," Fox echoed, calling the article “dishonest.” Fox claims El Niño in 1998 created the “big spike in global warming” and had little to do with CO2. He also believes factors such as sunspots, solar winds, the solar magnetic field, and solar irradiation all have created fluctuations in the earth’s temperature over millions of years.

O’Brien acknowledges climate change but cautioned that it’s quite different than global warming: “Global climate change is occurring in many places in the world. But everything that’s attributed to global warming, almost none of it is global warming.” He added that melting Arctic Ocean ice should lower, not raise, sea level due to the Archimedes Principle, and called sea level changes a “major scare tactic” used by those who believe global warming is a human-created threat.

Answers in Genesis has also spent time and resources looking into the issue of global warming from the young-earth perspective in the book and DVD Global Warming: A scientific and biblical exposé of climate change. Read on at Global Warming: Fact or Fiction?

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