1. BBC News: “Diamond Clues to Beasts’ Demise”

Scientists are taking the gold standard for proof of extinction to the next level—with diamonds.

A team has discovered “nano-diamonds” and other materials thought to be from a meteorite impact in several sedimentary layers across the U.S. The team says the find bolsters a controversial theory that such an impact may have wiped out mammoths and even humans in North America more than ten millennia ago.

The report, published in Science, used transmission electron microscopy to identify the diamonds, iridium, and magnetic microspherules, allegedly from 12,900 years ago. According to the team, the layers in question have up to a million times more diamonds than sediments close by, a distinctive suggestion of meteorite explosion (on or above the ground).

However, even old-earth geologists dispute the significance of the research—or the accuracy of its conclusions. Southern Illinois University geologist Nicholas Pinter told BBC News that not only was the material found not of a uniform age, but that some of the materials found “rain down all the time and are present throughout the geological record.” Pinter also pointed out that nano-diamonds have been identified elsewhere in the fossil record when there’s no indication of meteorite impact.

“Time will tell, but so far the [meteorite] impact looks like an increasingly desperate fishing expedition for supporting evidence,” he said, calling the idea that a meteorite exploded in the air “untested and highly implausible.”

NASA scientist David Morrison likewise said, “I know of no mechanism that would break up a comet and distribute it over North America in the way [the study authors] suggest,” though he said the presence of the nano-diamonds was an “interesting mystery.”

It sounds as though there’s no compelling reason to even respond to the “diamond” news, considering the lackluster response even old-earthers have given it. However, study co-author Allen West, a retired geologist, defends the study with the comment, “People still like to think of geological processes happening slowly over time. It’s unsettling that something happening in a few minutes could flip our climate and cause widespread extinctions.”

While West is obviously endorsing the meteorite-explosion viewpoint, it is a reminder of how other catastrophes could change the course of history, such as the global Flood. Meteorite or volcanic activity during and since the Genesis Flood a few thousand years ago could have played a role, accounting for nano-diamonds and other particles. Since we have no historical record of such events, we can at most speculate within our worldview—just like evolutionists—even while knowing we may never conclusively solve this “mystery.”

2. BBC News: “Pink Iguana Rewrites Family Tree”

A quarter-century ago, they might have been considered just as fantastic as pink elephants—but now pink iguanas are in the scientific spotlight.

Though they call the Galápagos Islands home, the pink iguana eluded famous visitor Charles Darwin during his 1835 visit and weren’t discovered until 1986. The supposed irony is that while the Galápagos gave Darwin the animal basis for natural selection (through his observation of birds and tortoises, for example), scientists now suggest that Galápagos iguanas diverged earlier than any of those other animal populations.

The reason for Darwin’s oversight is that pink iguanas have thus far only been found on the slopes of Volcano Wolf. Furthermore, today (at least) the pink iguana population is tiny: fewer than 100, according to Gabriele Gentile of the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

Gentile’s team believes pink iguanas split from others around 5.7 million years ago. Their conclusion comes from DNA analysis, which reveals the pink iguana is “far more distinct” than other iguana groups are. Differences such as a unique crest shape, more complex courtship behavior, and the lack of cross-breeding with other groups explain the genetic divergence; the estimate of 5.7 million years is based on the flawed idea of the “molecular clock” that presupposes old-ages and evolution.

But while the molecular clock has problems of its own, in this case it yields a contradiction within the evolutionary paradigm, because at 5.7 million years ago “all of the western islands of the archipelago did not exist,” explains Gentile. “That’s a conundrum, because it’s now only inhabiting one part of Isabela that formed less than half a million years ago.”

The team has come up with a work-around to the “conundrum,” however; they speculate that the pink iguana originally diverged on an island that is now underwater, then later transitioned to its current home.

That may satisfy evolutionists, but to us it serves as a reminder of how evolutionists, just like creationists, interpret the data through a presupposed paradigm. Creationists, who presuppose God’s Word the Bible, can describe the speciation through the mechanisms of natural selection and, in this case, likely allopatry just as well as evolutionists; in no case is there a sign of any actual “evolution” (in the sense of new genetic information arising) in iguana populations.

3. BBC News: “Baby Jupiter’s Huge Weight Gain”

Gas giants—like the planet two doors down, Jupiter—may have accreted quickly from dust: it’s the required conclusion to fit the data into the evolutionary paradigm.

We’re talking about planetary evolution this time, where—according to secular science—planets form as gravity causes a disc of dust around a star to slowly conglomerate. But astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to study star cluster NGC 2362 encountered a surprise: all sun-sized stars and larger in the cluster are missing their planet-forming dust discs, and only a few stars smaller than the sun have them.

Since hundreds of “gas giant” planets have been discovered circling these “disc-less” stars, one might expect such a discovery to challenge evolutionists’ ideas about planet formation; instead, the astronomers have bent their model to fit the find. They now suggest that planets, particularly gas giants, must form “extremely fast,” in the words of Thayne Currie of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

BBC News notes that this finding “place[s] even tighter constraints on the time available to create gas giant planets.” Going one step further, we would say the discovery is yet another failure for secular astronomers to show their model of planet-formation in progress (not that it would prove their millions-of-years estimates, anyway).

4. LiveScience: “Trophy Hunting Causing ‘Reverse Evolution’”

Losing or gaining anatomical features, changing colors, growing bigger or smaller—it doesn’t matter how a biological population is changing, it’s evolution!

LiveScience editorial director Robert Roy Britt is taking a look at scenarios—reported earlier in the week by Newsweek—where bigger isn’t better: animal populations in which the largest individuals are the least likely to survive. Such is the result of artificial selection—and often, trophy hunting—by humans:

  • The average size of Kodiak bears in Alaska declined because of trophy hunting.
  • Tuskless elephants (who lack the genetic information for tusks) have risen from 2 percent of the African elephant population to 38 percent in certain groups.
  • The horn size of one bighorn sheep population has declined by 25 percent over the past three decades, while male and female body sizes have fallen.
  • Kangaroo and fish populations have also gotten smaller in response to human predation.

In some cases, such as the first example above, the “evolution” is the result of hunting restrictions that reduce the number of game allowed to be taken. Hunters then take only the largest “trophies.” Not only does this remove the largest animals themselves from the population; it removes their genes. The same goes with animals with other “trophy” elements, such as tusks or antlers. In other cases, the culprits are rules requiring a “minimum size” for harvested prey.

First of all, let’s be clear that as creationists, this makes complete sense. Removing the largest and most ornamented members of a population (and thus preventing them from breeding as much) is the same as selecting for smaller and less-ornamented members of those populations. Over time, tuskless elephants survive and reproduce more consistently than tusked elephants; the same goes for smaller-horned sheep, small bear, etc.

Second of all, we must emphasize that this study gives no support to “evolution” as commonly perceived: organisms gaining new anatomical features over time. These populations are losing genetic information, not gaining it; a tuskless elephant population has “evolved” only in the sense that it has “changed.” Yet evolutionary scientists and laymen will cite studies such as this as “proof” for the idea that molecules morph into men.

Observing changes in a population and calling it “evolution” corresponds to falling for a magic trick. Only someone totally unaware of how selective forces work would think that a population is magically “evolving” into something new.

5. ScienceDaily: “Religion May Have Evolved Because of its Ability to Help People Exercise Self-Control”

How is one psychologist answering the loaded question “why did religion evolve?”

University of Miami (Florida) psychologist Michael McCullough thinks he has a clue to just why religion evolved: as a mechanism for improving self-control in participants.

McCullough reviewed almost a century worth of research on world religions, including research from neuroscience, economics, psychology, and sociology. His conclusion? That religious people have more self-control, and thus are better at achieving long-term goals. For example, McCullough noted that religious people have an advantage over the irreligious when it comes to substance abuse, academic achievement, crime, and physical and mental health.

Additionally, McCullough pointed out studies that show that the part of the brain responsible for prayer is also “most important” for self-control, and that goals viewed as “sacred” receive more attention and effort. Also—unsurprisingly—religions provide moral standards and religious persons believe God is watching their behavior, contributing further to self-control.

And . . . that’s it. The press release offers nothing to buttress the titular claim that the connection between religion and self-control (or good behavior in general) shows that it “evolved.” These days, research of all kinds is hammered to fit into the grand story of evolution—and as long as the story can be imagined to be true, it counts as science.

For more information:

6. Los Angeles Times: “Christine Maggiore and the Price of Skepticism”

“Questioning theories is usually a healthy pursuit”—except when life and death are concerned, or when the “theory” in question is evolution.

The recent death of HIV/AIDS skeptic Christine Maggiore was fodder for a Los Angeles Times editorial last weekend on when one should question the prevailing scientific consensus, and then took a swipe at our supposedly unscientific Creation Museum.

Maggoire, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1992, founded an organization that disputed the connection between HIV and AIDS. Maggoire and her followers refused to take the recommended anti-HIV medication; Maggoire’s breast-fed daughter died at the age of three for what the coroner determined were AIDS-related causes, though Maggoire refused to believe it. The Times opines:

Her challenge, however, continues, as Maggiore’s argument—that scientific consensus, no matter how established, remains subject to objection—runs through debates with profound public policy implications. Does smoking cause cancer? Do human activities contribute to climate change? . . . In some instances, these debates are interesting but not terribly consequential. But sometimes they are of staggering significance.

Okay, we agree so far; challenging the laws of physics would matter a lot more for someone walking a tightrope than for someone sitting in theoretical physics class. The Times also declares:

Still, science is a discipline of questions, and rarely is a fact established so firmly that it will silence all critics. At the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, the exhibit guides visitors “to the dawn of time”—just 6,000 years ago. That makes for some startling conclusions, not the least of which is that dinosaurs and humans were created by God on the sixth day and lived side by side. Call it the Flintstones theory.

The Times kindly abstains from outright ridicule, for they’re asking a serious question: “How . . . to judge when a theory becomes fact, when it slips beyond legitimate objection?” The editors conclude that “[t]hose who contest [the preponderance of] evidence must demonstrate the plausibility of alternatives and produce evidence to support them.”

We agree, actually, though something else that the Times fails to recognize matters a great deal: what type of science we’re talking about. When it comes to operations science, valid experiments will yield objective support for one hypothesis or another. One scientist declares that water always boils at 100˚C; another contends that atmospheric pressure plays a role in determining what temperature boils water. The two scientists could then conduct a carefully controlled experiment to validate one hypothesis and invalidate the other; this experiment could be repeated and tweaked for other hypotheses. The same goes for questions about, e.g., whether the earth revolves around the sun, or the role of viruses in causing disease (though only when scientists can create a valid, controlled experiment).

Determining what happened in the past “scientifically” is a whole ’nother story. What objective experiment can prove that dinosaurs didn’t live alongside mankind—without first making untestable assumptions about, e.g., the fossil record? That’s why, when it comes to history, documents take precedent over experiments—and evidence is interpreted through what one already believes.

7. MSNBC: “Coral Growth in Decline at Great Barrier Reef”

A new report has identified an “ unprecedented” decline in growth of the Great Barrier Reef—and sees global warming as the culprit.

At first, the report seems confusing: why would warmth prevent coral from flourishing? According to the Australian Institute of Marine Science researchers, it comes down to not only warming sea temperatures, but also to more acidic oceans that result from “carbonate saturation.”

In an article to run on this website next week, AiG scientist Andrew Snelling is taking a closer look at the reef report and the alleged connection to global warming. Check back next Wednesday for our full coverage!

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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