Evolutionists and creationists alike, watch your language: the supposed “primordial soup” of life’s beginnings is no longer kosher.
Although Darwinists have not yet established how life could have arisen from non-life, they often make vague references to a “primordial soup” as the progenitor of the first life. They suppose that the soup contained the right pre-biotic chemicals and that an external source of energy transformed a spoonful of it into a self-reproducing entity.
Scientists have suggested alternatives to the primordial soup before, and it appears some are ready to abandon the concept entirely. A European team publishing in BioEssays argues that deep-sea hydrothermal vents, not primordial soup, hosted early life. Team Leader Nick Lane of University College London explains why: “Textbooks have it that life arose from organic soup and that the first cells grew by fermenting these organics to generate energy in the form of ATP. We provide a new perspective on why that old and familiar view won’t work at all.”
Evolutionary biologist and team member William Martin added, “Despite bioenergetic and thermodynamic failings[,] the 80-year-old concept of primordial soup remains central to mainstream thinking on the origin of life. But soup has no capacity for producing the energy vital for life.”
It seems that evolutionists themselves have done an excellent job finding problems with other evolutionists’ origin-of-life tales. None of the speculative ideas, however, have explained away the need for a leap of faith—to believe that just the right molecules organized in just the right way by chance, assembling themselves into an organism capable of reproducing itself.
Another week, another alleged dinosaur–bird connection: this time, Haplocheirus sollers, a fossil from China’s Gobi Desert. But does it actually help evolutionists’ case?
The fossil, described in the journal Science, belongs to the dinosaur family Alvarezsauridae. The family is known for several bird-like features, including “fused wrist elements and a loosely structured skull,” BBC News reports. H. sollers also features short arms and a large claw.
At first, this may sound like evidence for the alleged evolution of some dinosaurs into birds. But while H. sollers is dubbed a “transitional fossil,” it’s not a transition on the way to birds. Rather, the describing scientists now believe the bird-like features of the Alvarezsauridae family evolved separately from birds, much earlier than the first birds are thought to have evolved.
“Previously we thought the Alvarezsauridae were primitive, flightless birds. This discovery shows they’re not and that the similarities between them evolved in parallel,” explained George Washington University’s Jonah Choiniere.
Thus, at least these evolutionists agree that some dinosaurs with bird-like features were nevertheless “just” dinosaurs, not on their way to becoming birds. That’s exactly the creationist perspective: dinosaurs with similarities to birds are just that and nothing else. (Creationists also believe that some “dinosaurs” said to be evolving into birds are actually misidentified birds, such as was the case with Archaeopteryx.)
“This is a dinosaur,” an environmentalist says in regard to one giant salamander, a living fossil that indeed looks like it could be from the time of dinosaurs.
This particular giant salamander (captured on video; see the above link) is certainly giant at 5.5 feet (1.7 m) long, but BBC News shares the sixteenth century legend of a 33 foot (10 m) long giant salamander that ravaged local farms, eating cows and horses along the way.
Whether the legend is true or not, it seems likely (simply from a statistical standpoint) that the specimen handled by the environmentalist is not the largest giant salamander ever. As with the many legends of dragon and dragon-like creatures from cultures around the world, even if we were to accept that most or all are exaggerated, their existence implies that large, sometimes menacing, reptilian creatures—a.k.a. creatures “just like” dinosaurs—really did walk the earth with humans in recent times. Of course, that fits perfectly with the creation worldview, while evolutionists must write off every dragon legend as wholly inaccurate.
The giant salamander is also a notable “living fossil,” meaning modern forms looks almost identical to fossil representatives of salamanders supposedly from 30 million years ago. For young-earth creationists, who believe most of the fossil record was laid down by the worldwide Flood less than 4,500 years ago, this is no surprise. But again, for evolutionists, living fossils are an unexpected window into an ancient world.
Can patients in vegetative states communicate with the outside world?
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports encouraging progress on a novel way of communicating with unresponsive brain-injury patients. By asking a patient to imagine either playing tennis or walking through his home’s rooms, a patient can purportedly answer “yes” or “no” to questions.
The project is a continuation of research we first reported on back in September 2006. Using MRI technology, scientists asked healthy patients to envision themselves playing tennis or at home. The brain scans revealed which (separate) mental regions became active while individuals imagined each activity.
A team led by Medical Research Council neuroscientist Adrian Owen used the method on 53 patients in vegetative or minimally conscious states. Of the 53, four patients showed “distinct patterns of brain activity during the tennis versus house imagination task, hinting at some level of awareness that could not be detected by observing their behavior.” The researchers asked one patient to use the technique to answer questions yes or no—with imagining tennis indicating “yes,” and imagining home indicating “no.” (Such a technique worked 100 percent of the time in a group of 16 healthy volunteers.) The patient correctly answered five questions about himself, such as the name of his father and whether he had siblings. The patient did not answer a sixth question, perhaps having fallen asleep.
Owen and his team’s success, even with only four of the 53 patients, strongly suggests what Christians already know: that patients in vegetative and minimally conscious states still deserve every dignity that humans deserve.
Would Christianity “survive” the discovery of alien life-forms? Does such a question even make sense?
Last week we reported on the Royal Society’s “Detection of Extraterrestrial Life and the Consequences for Science and Society” conference. This week, a survey presented at the conference offers more news for our consideration. Theologian Ted Peters of the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary surveyed 1,300 individuals, asking whether they thought the discovery of extraterrestrial life would pose a problem for their personal religious views, for their religion as a whole, or for other world religions.
Of respondents who classified themselves as religious, only a third agreed that the discovery of extraterrestrial life would pose a problem for world religions. That proportion jumped to over two-thirds for those who identified themselves as nonreligious. However, few respondents—religious or otherwise—agreed that the discovery of alien life would shake their own faith.
New Scientist quotes Arizona State University astrobiologist Paul Davies, who claims that finding life in space would cause problems for Christians. “They believe that Jesus came down to earth to save humankind—not dolphins, Neanderthals or extraterrestrials. To make sense of this, either you need multiple incarnations or a reason why this planet and this species was singled out for special attention.”
Answers in Genesis has made similar points, actually, but we don’t agree that Christianity wouldn’t “survive” the discovery of extraterrestrial life—or even that the question makes sense. First, referring to the “survival” of Christianity treats it as a mere sociological phenomenon—a specifically anti-Christian presupposition. Second, the question also presupposes that the existence of extraterrestrial life is an open question—i.e., that there is a nonzero probability of encountering aliens. (Thus, the question may be akin to asking an atheist if his views would be threatened were God to create new life-forms.) Also, we note how vague phrases such as “extraterrestrial life” are; finding bacterial life (i.e., as simple as it gets) on Mars would have a very different meaning than intelligent life far from earth.
As we have explained before, the Bible makes no explicit statements as to the existence or non-existence of extraterrestrial life, intelligent or otherwise. For that reason, Christians would have nothing to fear if alien life were discovered. However, starting from Scripture, we see that earth is the focus of God’s plan; earth existed before other heavenly bodies, was the site of Jesus’ death and resurrection; and is the centerpiece of the new creation in Revelation 21. Furthermore, nearly all the hype we hear about finding alien life comes from evolutionists or those with compromised, New Age-like perspectives on God; if one holds to a biblical worldview, he sees the astonishing lack of evidence for extraterrestrial life—especially considering how actively man has searched for it for decades. Thus, there is not only no reason for the Christian to believe aliens exist, but reason for the Christian to believe aliens don’t exist.
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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