1. ScienceNOW: “Early Humans Toed the Line”

A fossilized footprint found in Kenya—thought to be 1.5 million years old—doesn’t look its age.

Instead, that footprint is “modern,” to quote ScienceNOW’s Ann Gibbons, who adds, “these early humans . . . walked just like we do.”

Why is that such a surprise? Gibbons explains that researchers are in a debate over when ancient humans began walking “upright in a modern manner” rather than “with a more primitive gait, possibly like the bent-kneed waddle of chimpanzees.” The scientists believe the footprints were probably made by Homo erectus, showing it walked just as we do. The similarities listed by the team are that the print-makers pushed their feet off the ground with their big toes and shifted their weight across their toes just like modern humans. The parallel big toe and pronounced arch indicated by the prints shows that Homo erectus “evolved modern body proportions,” in Darwinian-speak.

“They confirm that a modern, humanlike, bipedal gait is present by at least 1.5 million years ago, with all the biomechanical nuances we associate with our own way of walking,” explained William Jungers, an anatomist at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

The footprints confirm the creation view that Homo erectus, like Neanderthals, were fully modern humans. They exhibited some skeletal differences, just as humans today do, but there is no evidence that they were any closer to apes than we are. Of course, analyzing anatomy based on footprints alone obviously requires certain assumptions and extrapolations, which is why there are controversies over many fossilized footprints.

2. ScienceNOW: “The Catastrophe That Wasn’t”

An ancient extinction wasn’t as sudden and catastrophic as once believed. Now, how does that reinforce the Flood model?

The Permian extinction is considered by old-Earthers to have been the largest mass extinction in Earth history, with 90 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species dying out. It has also long been thought of as a sudden, catastrophic event—until now.

A team led by Colby College paleontologist Robert Gastaldo takes a different view. Gastaldo led students on six trips to South African locations purported to be home to evidence of the Permian extinction—specifically, a thin sedimentary layer separating the Permian period from the Triassic that followed it. But according to Gastaldo, that layer “couldn’t be traced more than about 100 meters laterally,” showing that it wasn’t a global event. “We spent days walking kilometers throughout the [sites] trying to trace it from every angle and couldn’t,” Gastaldo said.

Yet in other places, the team found the sedimentary layer eight meters below the Permian–Triassic boundary! Gastaldo’s conclusion? “Because the boundary event bed doesn’t occur at the same position in the rock record there can be no one, unique event.”

The creation model considers many of the sedimentary layers we observe—including most of the layers that have fossils—to have been laid down by geological events associated with the global Flood (including volcanic activity) along with the Flood itself. It’s therefore very easy to incorporate ideas such as the Permian extinction, or the better-known K–T (Cretaceous–Tertiary) extinction event, with the Flood model. Even if evolutionists decide a certain event took place millions of years earlier or later than what was once thought, that translates in the Flood model to likely mere months (or less) of difference.

We also have to smile whenever longstanding evolutionary ideas are overturned. In this case, a sudden Permian extinction event is now “last year’s fact,” as the CreationWise cartoon says. While a benefit of the scientific method is that hypotheses incorporate new evidence, that’s also the drawback of using science as the be-all and end-all of knowledge.

3. National Geographic News: “Oldest Fossil Brain Found in ‘Bizarre’ Prehistoric Fish”

What’s so “remarkable” about the fossil preservation of a fish brain?

An X-ray has helped scientists see an extinct fish’s fossilized brain, thought to be the oldest-ever brain found. Because the brain is soft tissue mostly made up of water, the fact that the brain was fossilized is surprising: “To preserve [any brain tissue] is quite remarkable,” said paleontologist John Maisey of the American Museum of Natural History.

Even though related to sharks, the fish was tiny, small enough to have fit in a human palm. The brain is correspondingly tiny, about the size of a pea, albeit with a large lobe for vision. Maisey calls it a “very puzzling fish . . . really, really bizarre.”

For us, this is just further evidence of the work of a catastrophe that buried the fish rapidly.

Speaking of fossil fish, BBC News reports on a fossil fish from Australia that is among the “earliest” (in evolutionary terms) to show evidence of fertilization. This confounds evolutionists, who expected fertilization to take place outside the female’s body in such “primitive” fish.

“We expected that these early fishes would show a more primitive type of reproduction, where sperm and eggs combine in the water and embryos develop outside the fish,” explained fossil fish curator Zerina Johanson of London’s Natural History Museum.

Johanson added, “‘Sex’ was far more common in these primitive prehistoric animals. We used to think that external fertilization was the earliest form of reproduction but copulation appears to be the main way they reproduced.”

While evolutionists must accept this as a “fact” of the fossil record, to creationists, it makes absolute sense. Kinds that reproduce sexually did so from the beginning, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to find evidence of sexual reproduction throughout the fossil record in sexually reproducing kinds.

4. LiveScience: “Mars Volcano Could Harbor Life”

After years and years of searching for life on Mars, scientists have finally found it.

Okay, maybe not; but they seem to think they’re getting “warmer.” Researchers “speculate,” in the words of the LiveScience article, that a Martian volcano may have water and therefore may harbor life.

The volcano in question is Mars’s huge Olympus Mons, a mountain three times the height of Earth’s Mount Everest. Scientists studying the structure of Olympus Mons believe it might have formed from clay sediments; clay indicates the existence of water at some point; thus, the scientists believe Olympus Mons could have water inside of it.

The scientists then take the speculation to the next level. “This deep reservoir, warmed by geothermal gradients and magmatic heat and protected from adverse surface conditions, would be a favored environment for the development and maintenance of thermophilic organisms,” they write in the journal Geology.

Thus, we once again find layer upon layer of speculation, all driven by the assumption that life can evolve wherever certain precursor ingredients—like water—are found. The scientists speculate on clay inside of Olympus Mons; they speculate whether this clay means water could exist inside of it; they speculate on how life could exist in such an environment (presupposing it evolved). Notice a trend? Yet the speculation earns the sensational headline “Mars Volcano Could Harbor Life.”

Of course, the idea that there has been water—in some form, in some place—on Mars isn’t itself revolutionary. Scientists generally accept the idea of a global flood in Martian history (even while rejecting it on Earth); there also may be water ice just below the Martian surface. But the jump from water to life is the height of evolutionary assumption.

5. BBC News: “The Danger of Worshipping Darwin”

In case you were considering praying to Darwin, perhaps you should read this first.

Self-described “lapsed Presbyterian” and disbeliever Andrew Marr asks, “In this year of his double anniversary, are we in danger of turning Charles Darwin if not into God, at least into the founder of a secular religion?” It’s a question many creationists have posed satirically when observing the “Year of Darwin” mania (since it’s his 200th birthday this year).

Marr states, “There’s no doubt that Darwinism, and indeed scientific truth generally, can supply people like me with some of the nourishment religion offers,” though the nourishment he references seems to be only the “feel-good” aspect of religion. He also discusses visiting cathedral-like natural history museums while filming the documentary Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. Marr continues:

Darwinism has its bishops and its schisms. There are Darwin cartoon books for children, not dissimilar in tone to blandly uplifting Sunday School booklets. More significant, though, is that Darwinism, like a religion, offers both a method and a message. . . . There may have been no Darwinist Eden but there is certainly a Hell waiting for a species that makes the worst choices.

Marr’s final conclusion is that Darwinism is superior to religion because it does not “divide mankind into the saved and the ignorant damned . . . there is no us and them.” Yet it seems we have seen exactly the opposite more and more each year as anti-Darwinists are vilified and ostracized. Even committed Darwinists can be excommunicated if they fail to fall in line (see the September 20 News to Note from last year). The behavior of the Darwinian clergy suggests anything but “a deep modesty about conclusions and lifelong readiness to be proved wrong,” as Marr alleges. While Darwinism as a worldview has some uniqueness (as do all worldviews), we nevertheless emphasize that evolution is religion!

6. The Lutheran: “Two Museums, Two Worlds”

The publication of a major Christian denomination looks at the Creation Museum—and comes out swinging.

In The Lutheran (the magazine of the largest U.S. Lutheran denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America), William Jennings visits the Creation Museum and Big Bone Lick State Park (down the road from the Creation Museum). “Two museums, two viewpoints of creation,” Jennings writes. “Visiting both, I considered what are the questions for Lutheran scholars to consider.” The questions he asks (with excerpts from his answers) are in the full version of the article, which is only available to subscribers:

  • How do we interpret the Bible? “It isn’t all to be taken literally, and the use of terms like ‘legend’ or ‘myth’ may be helpful.”
  • Is Christian faith compatible with evolution? “Since the Genesis stories don’t present a factual account of creation, they also don’t contradict scientific views of how the world evolved.”
  • How are our children taught? “[A]lmost a thousand scientists from the three states nearest the Creation Museum signed a petition objecting to the misinformation being presented by the museum[.]”
  • Are there social implications in this disagreement? “The social implication [that the acceptance of evolution is behind abortion, drugs, pornography, etc.] isn’t what the museum claims—but rather a recognition that knowledge of science is essential if Christians are to use their God-given abilities to face so many of today’s challenges.”

Jennings sadly sidesteps the entire scientific debate, apparently either having missed—or ignored—the museum’s crucial presentation of how presuppositions influence scientific “evidence.” Furthermore, he is apparently unaware that accepting evolution is a far bigger issue for Christians than whether Genesis is myth; it devalues God’s character and adulterates Christian doctrine. Even many non-Christians are aware of the fatal blow the millions of years of death and suffering of evolution (if true) would deal to Christianity.

If anything, the Lutheran piece shows once again the fundamental importance of presuppositions. If you reject the inerrancy of God’s Word from the beginning, you can make nearly any doctrine “compatible” with Christianity.

(One last note: a reader prompted us to clarify that not all Lutheran denominations believe as the ELCA does; the Missouri Synod, for example, espouses a literal, six-day creation.)

7. Discovery: “Synthetic Life Form Grows in Florida Lab”

Is the “first synthetic genetic system capable of Darwinian evolution” living somewhere in Florida?

In short answer, no. In a Florida lab, biochemist Steve Benner of the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution has created AEGIS: the Artificially Expanded Genetic Information System, which exists in a beaker of lab water. But while Benner claims, “It’s evolving. It’s doing what we designed it to do” (interesting choice of words), the article notes, “AEGIS is not self-sustaining, at least not yet.”

While no further information is provided, one thing is clear: this “life-form,” if it can be called that (it uses a 12-base genome instead of the usual four bases) was designed. And a lab-created, intelligently designed, synthetic version of life certainly doesn’t prove that anything evolved!

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • U.S. president Barack Obama is pushing to change a Bush-era rule protecting doctors who do not wish to perform abortions, the Associated Press reports. The rule was intended to amplify laws already on the books by withholding federal funding to institutions failing to certify compliance with laws protecting the rights of moral objectors.
  • If you need a good example of how paleoartists creatively interpret (not necessarily dishonestly) the “facts,” National Geographic has a great example.
  • ScienceNOW carries a report on yet another promising method to produce viable stem cells without destroying human embryos.
  • Evolutionary ideas are increasingly applied to diverse fields. For the latest, see what the Economist has to say about evolution and cooking.
  • Learn how you, too, can help prove (and “help”) “evolution” every time you go fishing.
  • The Associated Press reports that the Roman Catholic church continues to accept evolution, even while rejecting atheism as “absurd.” Is it any more absurd than the idea that God is out there, and had nothing to do with our existence? In a related item, AiG expert Terry Mortenson responds to critics who posted items at OneNewsNow (a news site that covers us fairly).
  • The Mail includes an interesting report about a supposed discovery of the Garden of Eden. While the archaeological site is indeed fascinating, we know that the original Garden of Eden would have been destroyed by the Flood, even though after the Flood humans may have used the same names for certain places.
  • Amid the flood of polls surrounding Darwin’s birthday, a new poll by pro-evolution think tank Theos suggests that inhabitants of Northern Ireland are the most likely of those living in the UK to be young-earth creationists.
  • Finally, we applaud Joseph David Advertising for winning an ADDY award for a commercial it produced for the Creation Museum.

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