1. Associated Press: “Southeast Asia Remembers Tsunami on Anniversary”

Last week marked the fourth anniversary of a deadly natural disaster.

Just after Christmas Day 2004 an Indian Ocean tsunami hit land in Southeast Asia, ravaging the coastal areas of Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia (in particular) and killing nearly a quarter of a million people.

The tsunami was a prime—and poignant—reminder of the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin, as Ken Ham wrote in “Lost” without Genesis.

Among the “victims” of the tsunami were the coral reefs in southeast Asia, whose devastation in turn hurt tourism and fishing in the region. But the Associated Press reports that the “tsunami-ravaged coral reefs have bounced back with surprising speed.”

Surveys of the reefs were conducted by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society in conjunction with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. “This is a great story of ecosystem resilience and recovery,” said Stuart Campbell, coordinator of the society’s Indonesia Marine Program.

Reef expert Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland (who did not take part in the study) added, “Left alone, these things can quickly grow back into what looks like a coral reef in a short time. We are seeing similar things around the southern Great Barrier Reef where reefs that experience major catastrophe can bounce back quite quickly.” If the global Flood had destroyed coral reefs, they would have had several hundred years to recover before humanity expanded to the ocean again.

Since coral reef growth is occasionally used to calculate supposed old ages for the earth, it would be interesting to obtain actual data on these reefs’ recent growth and compare to growth rates used by old-earthers for some of their calculations.

Sadly, in addition to the positive ecological news, the AP report included comments from a number of individuals who lost family members to the “death wave.” For them, four years ago no doubt seems like yesterday. Their sadness—or even anger—is a reminder that as Christians, we must have an answer for why God can allow bad things to happen, including the catastrophic loss of life in the 2004 tsunami. We find that answer in Genesis.

2. The Sun: “Twincredibles”

Twins of different skin color are now the older siblings of another set of twins of different skin color!

Twins Hayleigh and Lauren Durrant were newsworthy from their birth in 2001: Hayleigh’s skin and hair is dark brown like her dad, while Lauren has light skin, blue eyes, and red hair like her mom.

Their parents are described by the Sun as “mixed race,” which is misleading: the girls and their parents are all part of the human race, with the most noticeable (but superficial) difference being different amounts of skin pigment. That’s why Hayleigh and her dad have darker brown skin, while Lauren and her mom have lighter brown skin. It is a powerful reminder of the Bible’s teaching that we are all equally human, descendants of the same ancestors (through Noah), with “race” an artificial human construct.

If that story’s not powerful enough, mother Alison has now “repeated the two-tone miracle,” the Sun reports. The family’s newest additions, twins Leah and Miya, are likewise not the same skin shade. Leah’s skin, like Lauren’s and their mother’s, is light brown, while Miya’s, like Hayleigh’s and their father’s, is dark brown.

Alison reports that “Lauren and Hayleigh think the new arrivals are fantastic,” and the Sun story includes several photographs of the now six-member family.

Thankfully, father Dean says that while “some people have looked at us a little bit funny . . . [l]ooking so different has never caused them any problems.” Nonetheless, schoolmates of Hayleigh and Lauren have erroneously said, “You can’t be twins because you’re different colors.”

Of course, it’s sad that this story has to be any more surprising than twins born with different hair color. In reality, siblings—or a couple—with different skin color is essentially as genetically trivial as siblings or a couple with different hair or eye color. Only about one hundredth of a percent of human biological variation concerns “racial” characteristics—so two people of different races can actually be more similar, genetically, than two people of the same race.

But the schoolmates’ comments reveal how society’s imposed construct of “race” is distorted—even to the point of not recognizing others as fully human. How tragic the crimes that have been committed in the name of “races”!

We also covered mixed-color twins born in Germany in July 2008, so the situation is not completely uncommon and is likely becoming more common as the stigma against interracial marriage collapses. In fact, in 2006 the Sun tracked down four other such sets of mixed-color twins, and Answers in Genesis has reported on others over the years. Make sure others know how erroneous the idea of “races” really is—and stories like this are a great place to start. Genesis gives us the true background of the human race, and when we hold a biblical worldview, news like this isn’t so surprising (nor in any way unsettling).

3. National Geographic News: “Whistling Orangutan May Hint at Language Evolution”

Is that the sound of a wolf whistle or an orangutan whistle we hear?

An orangutan at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., has a talent that shouldn’t seem surprising for humans: it can whistle, and has been doing so for about two decades.

According to the zoo’s Lisa Stevens, curator for great apes and giant pandas, the orangutan, named Bonnie, was not trained to whistle. It presumably picked up the trick from a whistling human, notes animal keeper Erin Stromberg, co-author of a study on the Bonnie’s talent. Stevens is steadfast that Bonnie “spontaneously developed” the capability.

Stromberg’s study “suggests that the sounds she makes could hold clues about the origins of human language,” reports National Geographic News.

But National Geographic News also reports that orangutans are known for imitating humans, humorously noting that Bonnie “sometimes sweeps up after herself,” literally aping her zookeepers. And Serge Wich of the Great Ape Trust, the study’s lead author, notes that Indonesian orangutans have been seen pretending to wash clothes!

According to Wich, scientists have known that orangutans are also able to imitate “motor skills,” but the vocalization is a new discovery. “Those things are very important because they give us clues to understanding the evolution of human speech,” he claimed in a lecture at the University of Zurich.

W. Tecumseh Fitch of the University of St. Andrews voices support for Wich’s evolutionary perspective. Fitch says the research “provides further verification of an old idea: that apes have complex, voluntary control over the mouth, lips, and tongue, just like us.” It’s control over the larynx and specifically the vocal cords that‘s missing.

For evolutionists—who necessarily believe speech evolved, even without finding the missing link of evidence—the whistling orangutan spurs on their belief that, somehow, human ancestors acquired the necessary physical and mental abilities to evolve language. Any objective evaluation, however, would show that a whistling orangutan is akin to a single drop in a bucket of evidence evolutionists would need to prove that language evolved. The evidence is all in the minds of evolutionists.

Not only that, but the University of Wisconsin’s Charles Snowdon brings up another point that disputes this “evidence” for the evolution of speech. National Geographic News reports that, according to Snowdon, Bonnie’s whistles are less sophisticated that the imitations made by “some birds and even dolphins.” He continues:

“There has been lots of controversy over whether non-human primates can learn vocalizations or can modify vocalizations. Until now there has been little evidence of direct imitation of vocalizations by a primate. The really interesting question is why it is so difficult to find good evidence of vocal imitation.”

Of course, certain parrot species are known for their accurate impersonations of human language—but we don’t hear evolutionists making much noise about that capability. As with animal intelligence, evolutionists seem to point to apes as though they are nearly human when, in fact, there are many examples of animals with incredible abilities—all testaments to God’s design.

4. BBC News: “Tangled Web of Spider Evolution”

What was once “the world’s oldest spider” is now just a primitive version of the “web-spinning modern spider,” BBC News reports.

So what, exactly, is the difference? Spidery remains dubbed Attercopus, first described in 1989, had appeared to belong to a group of extinct spiders, the trigonotarbids, with the exception of appendages that looked like spinnerets. Based on that evidence, the University of Kansas’s Paul Selden and colleagues identified Attercopus as the oldest example of a true spider.

Now, the scientists have recovered more fossil material from the site, including Attercopus remains—with a “tail” attached. Upon further examination of the original fossil finds, the team decided what they had thought were spinnerets is actually “rolled-up pieces of cuticle, the animals’ external skeletal material.”

Without spinnerets, Attercopus would have been able to produce silk but not weave it. Thus, the scientists believe it is part of a recently discovered primitive arachnid genus, Permarachne. “The thing that had been called the oldest known spider we have now shown is in fact more primitive than a true spider,” Selden said.

Words like “primitive” are rooted in the evolutionary mantra that what exists now is generally more advanced than what existed long ago, an idea rooted in the presupposition that evolution has allowed for more complex life-forms over long spans of time. The only evidence for this presupposition is evolutionists’ own interpretation of the fossil record as an accurate catalog of the history of life on earth.

As for the spiders, Selden explained:

“The puzzle about silk was this: we knew that it wasn’t used for making webs initially, for catching insects, because there were no flying insects when the earliest spiders were around. Here we clearly have a spider-like animal that could produce silk but didn’t yet have these flexible spinnerets for weaving it into webs; we think that this sort of spider would leave a trail of silk as it moved along, using it to find its way back to its burrow.”

For creationists, this find offers a bit of a riddle. On one hand, a spider that produced its silk for non-carnivorous purposes could be a legacy from a pre-Curse design. On the other hand, spinnerets could not have evolved through “upward” genetic mutations, so perhaps this variant of arachnid lost the genetic information for making spinnerets or was part of a now-extinct spider class who did not have spinnerets.

That said, we must caution that any speculation (on our part or on evolutionists’) is based on Selden et al.’s interpretation of these arachnid fossils, and fossil interpretation is notoriously subjective, as is revealed by some of Selden’s comments:

“They’re all microscopic fragments. What you’ve got is a jigsaw puzzle, with half the pieces and no picture on the box lid. You don’t know what it's going to be if you haven’t got all the pieces, so having these additional pieces means it changed the idea of what it was.”

So while this fossil can spawn thoughtful speculation, we must be careful to remember that using fossils to determine anything about origins—whether within the evolution or the creation framework—is risky and tentative.

5. Yahoo news: “Creationism 'should be taught in schools'”

From the United Kingdom come the surprising results of a teachers’ poll about creation in the classroom.

Nearly a third of teachers (30 percent) surveyed in an Ipsos Mori poll believe creation should be taught as part of science lessons, with 37 percent believing that the subject should be taught “alongside” evolution and the big bang. And while 47 percent don’t think creation should be incorporated in science lessons, 65 percent “agree that creationism should be discussed in schools.” And if only science educators are included, that number jumps to 73 percent! However, a majority of those science educators (65 percent) do not believe that science class is the place for creation education.

In contrast, only 26 percent agreed that “the only reason to mention creationism in schools is to enable teachers to demonstrate why the idea is scientific nonsense and has no basis in evidence or rational thought.”

The poll was conducted on 923 primary and secondary educators in England and Wales. Ipsos Mori head of education research Fiona Johnson notes, “Our findings suggest that many teachers are trying to . . . acknowledge that—regardless of, or even despite, ‘the science’—pupils may have a variety of strongly held, and arguably equal value, faith-based beliefs.” The Ipsos Mori poll coincides with a recent Teachers TV poll that showed that a third of respondents “believe creationism should be given the same status as evolution in the classroom.”

A Press Association article (no longer available online) references the embarrassing (for evolutionists) September kerfuffle when evolutionist Michael Reiss, director of education for Britain’s Royal Society, was fired for even mentioning that creation shouldn’t be “shot down” in the classroom, even though he steadfastly slammed creation as “unscientific” and in no way endorsed creation to be taught.

For now, despite popular adherence to a variety of pro-creation attitudes (albeit many which still endorse evolution), it seems many of the scientific “elite” are too steadfastly opposed to allowing creation in the classroom—or, in some cases, even discussion of the problems with evolution—for that censorship to be lifted. It mirrors the situation stateside, where—despite the media spin in America—it is actually a well-organized pro-evolution minority that continues to push for blind evolutionary indoctrination for students, even if it means critical thinking is thrown out the window.

One thing for certain, though, is that Christian parents—as always—are primarily responsible for teaching their children the truth about origins (with the support of church pastors and teachers, of course).

For more information:

6. AFP: “Huge Dinosaur Discovery In China: State Media”

In east China is the “largest ever” natural collection of dinosaur remains—on the order of thousands of bones.

Since they began digging in March, paleontologists have unearthed nearly 8,000 dinosaur bones in a collection of areas around the city of Zhucheng. In one dense segment alone, measuring 300 m (985 ft) by 10 m (33 ft), scientists dug up more than 3,000 bones.

“This group of fossilized dinosaurs is currently the largest ever discovered in the world . . . in terms of area,” said the Chinese Academy of Science’s Zhao Xijin, a paleontologist. According to Zhao, the mass grave could provide “clues” to how dinosaurs became extinct. Chinese news agency Xinhua reports that the entire area has yielded some 50 metric tons (55 tons) of dinosaur fossils since the 1960s.

Perhaps the Zhucheng area holds more fascinating dinosaur fossils—and perhaps paleontologists will speculate on how so many dinosaur fossils ended up in the same location. Could it be the work of catastrophic forces, namely, a very large flood (Genesis 6–8)?

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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