A poll in Britain reveals widespread doubt over Darwinism—or does it?
A survey conducted by ComRes (to coincide with the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth) asked just over 2,000 respondents whether they agree with the statement, “Evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages.” Just over half—51 percent—of respondents agreed, but 40 percent disagreed; the rest weren’t sure.
Regarding the statement “God created the world sometime in the last 10,000 years,” 32 percent agreed, with 60 percent disagreeing and the rest unsure.
The Guardian reports that the same survey revealed that 25 percent believe Darwinian evolution is “definitely true” and 25 percent believe it to be “probably true”; 12 percent believe in intelligent design and 10 percent in young-Earth creationism. The rest of respondents were unsure.
Compromising Christian think tank Theos commissioned the poll (we covered another poll commissioned by the group last November). Director Paul Woolley opined, “Darwin is being used by certain atheists today to promote their cause. The result is that, given the false choice of evolution or God, people are rejecting evolution.”
Woolley was joined by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, who got a mention in News to Note two weeks back. Carey responded to the poll by arguing against evolutionary atheism: “[That] argument for atheism goes like this: either God is the explanation for the wide diversity of biological life, or evolution is. We know that evolution is true. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.” He added, “I’m an evangelical Christian, but I have no difficulties in believing that evolution is the best scientific account we have for the diversity of life on our planet.” Carey was particularly responding to Richard Dawkins, who cited the survey in calling many Britons as “pig-ignorant.”
LiveScience editorial director Robert Roy Britt takes issue with the survey as a whole, pointing out in his column that some of the survey’s numbers don’t add up: while almost “half” aren’t sure about evolution, only 22 percent actually believe in intelligent design or young-Earth creationism (though those statistics also conflict with reports of 32 percent believing the world was created less than 10,000 years ago).
Britt adds, “The confluence of evolution and religion is a very tricky topic for pollsters to get at, because many people hold multiple views.” He points out that there’s a continuum of beliefs (most of which we refer to as “compromises”) between pure Darwinism and biblical young-Earth creationism. Some believe in evolution except when it comes to humans; others believe God “created” through evolution. Britt also points out that many people (both creationists and evolutionists, we would say) don’t know much at all about evolution. Of course, he spins it with his view that “evolution is one of the most well-supported theories of science.”
AiG–UK’s Paul Taylor was invited to join this week’s edition of BBC One’s The Big Question to discuss both the survey and recent comments by David Attenborough about (alleged) creationist hostility. (We mentioned Attenborough’s comments in last week’s News to Note, and Paul issued a full response.) For those with access to BBC One, the program will air Sunday, February 8, at 10 a.m. GMT.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the well-known Gallup Poll is releasing a series of results on what sets apart the U.S. states. Last week the data was analyzed to reveal the varying religiosity of states, which was unsurprising but nonetheless interesting. Based on more than 350,000 interviews, all states were ranked from most religious (Mississippi) to least religious (Vermont) by the percentage of residents answering yes to the question, “Is religion an important part of your daily life?” (Follow the link above for state-by-state results, with a helpful map breaking the states into five color-coded groups.)
While it may seem encouraging that there are still many out there who reject Darwinian evolution, let’s not forget that the march away from biblical authority continues, with a definite minority (according to all poll results) accepting a recent creation. Both the U.S. and the UK are becoming less Christian, not more. But at the very least, it helps us remember that no matter where you may be, the mission field begins right outside the church doors!
It could almost be the plot of an evolutionary Indiana Jones adventure: deep beneath the sands of Arabia, lost and hidden for millennia, lay a secret molecule that transcends what we think we know.
The actual news is a little less glamorous, of course: with the help of Petroleum Development Oman, scientists led by University of California–Riverside geochemist Gordon Love have discovered a strange molecule that challenges the idea of the Cambrian Explosion. (The Cambrian Explosion is the puzzling episode in the evolutionary interpretation of the fossil record that shows a sudden “explosion” of life-forms in a brief period of geologic time.)
Since the supposed “earliest animals” lack hard parts, they aren’t easy to find in the fossil record, which has “made life difficult for evolutionary biologists,” ScienceNOW writer Phil Berardelli jokes. But Love’s team decided to look for the presence of a molecule called 24-IPC that is produced only by a class of animals including modern sponges. Find it, they hypothesized, and they may find the evidence for pre–Cambrian Explosion animal life that evolutionists already accept. (By faith, that is; Berardelli writes that the scientists “know that natural selection had to be operating for at least tens of millions of years to give rise to all of the Cambrian critters.”)
The team looked at drill cores from Petroleum Development Oman that dug deep into the Earthen layers of the Arabian Peninsula, some supposed 635 million years down. They treated the samples chemically and determined that 24-IPC was present “in even the oldest parts of the core.” Berardelli summarizes the conclusion: “As a result, animals appeared on Earth slowly, as Darwin suspected, and not suddenly and spectacularly, as the fossil record seems to show.” Surprise, surprise: the “evidence” matched what evolutionists already believe.
As creationists, we view the sedimentary layers in three general stages: sediments without fossils (or with only intrusive microbial fossils) formed during Creation Week, and those with few fossils formed between Creation and the Flood; fossil-filled sediments laid down by the Flood and catastrophes as the floodwaters retreated; and post-deluge sediments (including the post-Flood Ice Age) with relatively fewer fossils. Since we believe that all animals, including sponges, were around since Creation Week, it makes total sense that 24-IPC would be found throughout the sedimentary layers and perhaps even carried by water into the earliest sediments. The discovery of 24-IPC confirms what creationists would predict.
Berardelli also reports that Love’s team’s findings “seem to solve one mystery, but they intensify another.” Love has unwittingly pushed back animal origins (in the evolutionary timescale) into a hypothesized period of Earth history called Snowball Earth, “when our planet was almost completely encased in ice” and thus quite hostile to sponges. Exhibiting cognitive dissonance, Love employs a rescuing device and suggests sponges “could have emerged before Snowball Earth and inhabited a haven just large enough to allow them to survive” (Berardelli’s paraphrase).
It seems that, in general, evolutionists are in between a rock and a hard place, so to speak, when it comes to dating the earlier stages of life. Discoveries that push life’s supposed origin back mean there would have been more time for “prehistoric” and modern organisms to evolve their many incredible features, but less time for life itself to spontaneously appear. Discoveries that pull life’s origin nearer to the present offer more time for it to develop but squeeze the amount of time available for the evolution of organisms.
Granted, evolutionists’ supposed four billion years of Earth history gives them time to work with, but the Cambrian Explosion remains to them a riddle, which is why well-known evolutionists have suggested such wild ideas as “punctuated equilibria” to answer it. But to creationists the Cambrian Explosion makes complete sense: not a sudden record in history of the evolution of complex life-forms, but the bottom, marine layer of fossils buried by the great Flood.
Astronomers have found yet another “Earth-like” planet (how many does this make, anyway?). Once again, it’s not exactly home away from home.
The planet’s name, CoRoT-Exo-7b, rolls right off your tongue—well, okay, not exactly. Its name comes from CoRoT, the European spacecraft launched in 2006 to seek out exoplanets.
Located 425 light-years from earth in the constellation Monoceros, Exo-7b is notable because it is only twice the diameter of Earth. Most exoplanets that have been discovered are far larger, since larger planets are more easily detected.
However, the planet’s likely temperature is far from Earth-like. Consider this: while Mercury (the planet closest to our own sun) has an orbit that lasts 88 days, Exo-7b orbits its star in just 20 hours! The team thus estimates its surface temperature exceeds 1000˚C (1832˚F) (BBC News reports the temperature may be up to 1500˚C [2732˚F]).
The (presumably evolutionary) scientists have a strange idea that would allow water to exist on the planet as well: they suggest that Exo-7b may have formed in cold space far from its star, then slowly pulled into a close orbit by the star’s gravity. If that were the case, water could be trapped on the planet.
Once again, this planet discovery seems, from an objective perspective, very unlike Earth except in size. For evolutionists, however, it’s yet another step closer to what they already faithfully believe: there are planets out there where life has evolved, and it’s only a matter of time before we find them (see the following item).
How many alien civilizations are in the Milky Way? Between 361 and 37,964, reports one “scientist.”
The Search for Terrestrial Intelligence continues after University of Edinburgh researcher Duncan Forgan conducted the estimation, published in the International Journal of Astrobiology. At least Forgan admitted, “It’s a process of quantifying our ignorance.”
Forgan came up with the estimation through a simulation of a galaxy “much like our own,” with life evolving on the various planets according to three scenarios: “it is difficult for life to be formed but easy for it to evolve”; “life was easily formed but struggled to develop intelligence”; or “life could be passed from one planet to another during asteroid collisions.”
In addition to presupposing evolution, Forgan assumed “Earth is an average case.” Both of those presumptions fly in the face of scientific evidence—so it’s no surprise that Forgan’s prediction of the number of alien civilizations does, too!
Does the fossil discovery of an early “whale” offer evidence for evolution or does it merely reinforce presuppositions?
Two fossils discovered nine years ago are just now making headlines. The fossils are a pregnant mother and its young, from the amphibious species Maiacetus inuus—which evolutionists believe was an ancestor of whales. Unlike whales, however, the eight-foot-long (2.4 m) adult fossil has four legs, with the hind two connected to the backbone (and thus not useless, as evolutionists believe eventually happened to whale intermediates).
Found in a Pakistani desert, the creature first confused University of Michigan paleontologist Philip Gingerich because of the “jumble” of adult and juvenile bones. “The first thing we found [were] small teeth, then ribs going the wrong way. [I]t was just astonishing to realize why the specimen in the field was so confusing,” Gingerich explained. The fetus was in “head-first” position, typical of land mammals but the opposite of marine mammals.
National Geographic News notes that the fossil is a “cousin” to Rodhocetus and Artiocetus, other creatures considered to be whale ancestors. “It is a missing link of the most informative sort,” said vertebrate paleontologist Louis Jacobs of Southern Methodist University. National Geographic News writer Tasha Eichenseher adds:
What paleontologists do know about the first whale ancestor is that it was originally a furry, four-legged omnivore that evolved into a range of amphibious species nearly 50 million years ago, and then into fully aquatic species around 45 million years ago. Whales eventually lost the connection between their backbone and hind legs, then gradually lost the hind legs and vestigial bones completely.
Or could it be that these hypothesized four-legged creatures—like all supposed whale ancestors—were simply unique mammals that are now extinct. The “evolution” is entirely in the minds of evolutionists, who need to find ancestors for whales, and thus create a “sequence” that isn’t really there. Like lining up horse fossils small to large and proclaiming a sequence, whale evolution is just another fiction.
Experiments to produce hybrid human–animal embryos have been unsuccessful. Will that mean anything to advocates of embryonic stem cell research?
A technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer—effectively a form of human cloning intended to produce embryonic stem cells—has hit a setback. In the procedure, human DNA is inserted in animal eggs (used because of a shortage of human eggs), which are allowed to divide and multiply. So far, only once has the technique produced actual stem cells, even though one lab alone has gone through “thousands of animal eggs” in the attempt.
Researchers at that lab, Advanced Cell Technology in Massachusetts, tried to understand their lack of success by looking closely at gene activation in hybrid embryos that use mouse, cow, and rabbit eggs. For an embryo to develop, the egg’s DNA must be “reprogrammed,” something that doesn’t happen when the human DNA is inside an animal egg. Thus, the researchers believe the technique “will not generate human embryonic stem cells, presumably because eggs have species-specific factors that reprogram DNA.” (The study was reported in Cloning and Stem Cells.)
Rather than quieting advocates of hybrid embryo research, the study has started a new debate, with many criticizing the Advanced Cell Technology scientists for not letting the hybrid embryos develop longer. ScienceNOW’s John Travis also reports that some wish Advanced Cell Technology would have used monkey eggs. “I don’t think they’ve definitively shown anything,” argued Stephen Minger of King’s College London.
Thus, the research likely will not stop further attempts to create human–animal hybrid embryos; besides, the researchers note that human clones should still be able to produce embryonic stem cells. Alas, the weakening of standards for human life continues.
Darwinists at the University of Vermont have done a great service to Ben Stein by proving the point he made in the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.
The thesis of Expelled is that academic freedom is under threat from those who won’t allow any questioning of Darwinian dogma, even if it means firing their opponents to silence the debate.
Now, Stein—who was invited to deliver the University of Vermont’s commencement address—has been effectively disinvited after an outcry from members of the university community who were “offended by Stein's views of science,” as the AP puts it. While the University of Vermont president did not request that Stein back out, Stein did so voluntarily after learning of the “deluge” of critical e-mails the president received.
“I am far more pro-science than the Darwinists,” Stein told the Burlington Free Press. “I want all scientific inquiry to happen not just what the ruling clique calls science.”
The incident proves Stein’s point so perfectly that it almost seems staged, though we don’t believe it is—we know firsthand that there are plenty of Darwinists out there who want to silence every criticism of Darwinism, even on private property (e.g., with our Creation Museum). By the way, if you haven’t yet seen Expelled or would like to watch it again (and again), it’s available from our Answers Bookstore.
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, New York Times or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard 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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