1. BBC News: “Dinosaur Extinction Link to Crater Confirmed

“Confirmation” that a meteorite impact killed the dinosaurs has come in the form of panel consensus at the recent Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

The 41 members of the panel coauthored a new analysis in Science of evidence related to the Chicxulub impact crater. That crater, stretching some 112 miles (180 km) wide in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, has long been considered the leading evidence of an impact that drove the dinosaurs extinct. Judging by the characteristics of the impact crater, scientists estimate that the space rock was 6 to 9 miles (10 to 15 km) wide, struck the earth “20 times faster than a speeding bullet,” and released over a billion times more explosive power than the atomic weapons used in World War 2.

The impact would have caused immediate local devastation, including fires, earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis, followed by global devastation from debris blown into the atmosphere. The resulting “global winter” would have devastated many life-forms, including dinosaurs.

The scientists reviewed previous research concerning the impact crater and the K–T boundary in the fossil record, which is said to coincide with dinosaurs’ extinction and contains chemical signatures associated with space impacts. Although the chemical signatures are also associated with volcanic activity, the panel concluded that the only volcanic events conjectured to have caused the K–T extinction occurred 500,000 years too early and would not have released enough debris for a global winter.

Biblical creationists interpret the fossil record as largely having been laid down during the global Flood (with the exception of some pre-Flood and post-Flood sediments), which implies that the K–T boundary would not mark dinosaurs’ extinction; although the Flood killed and fossilized a great many dinosaurs, Noah would have taken representatives on the Ark. As for what did cause the disappearance of the dinosaurs, see the links below.

As for the Chicxulub crater, it presumably did strike during the catastrophic Flood year, which we know because of the chemical signature it left in Flood-era sediments. However, whether it is responsible for all such chemical signature in the K–T boundary is a matter of debate. Most creationists believe there likely were a number of space impacts during the Flood (perhaps including one responsible for a crater in the Congo), along with substantial volcanic and tectonic activity—all of which contributed to such chemical signatures.

2. AP: “Top Home-School Texts Dismiss Darwin, Evolution

Many homeschool science textbooks are from Christian authors and are designed for Christian parents and students. Is that too much for secularists to handle?

An Associated Press story profiles homeschool mother Susan Mule, who regrets her adoption of a Christian science curriculum that didn’t toe the evolutionary line on origins. For some, the incident may be a reminder of caveat emptor. But for others, the very existence of the textbooks is a cause for concern.

One such individual is University of Chicago ecologist Jerry Coyne, who told the AP that the books “are promulgating lies to kids” and that students who use them are being “shortchanged, both rationally and in terms of biology.” Coyne and Virginia Tech biologist Duncan Porter recently reviewed science textbooks from Apologia Educational Ministries and Bob Jones University Press, with Porter concluding that he would give the books an F.

The article quotes several individuals who defend the books, including former chemistry professor Jay Wile who helped start the Apologia curriculum. Wile claims that Coyne “feels compelled to lie in order to prop up a failing hypothesis (evolution). . . . We tell [students] the facts that people like Dr. Coyne would prefer to cover up.”

And homeschooling mother Polly Brown notes that her son’s science education was not compromised by the use of creation-affirming materials: “He probably knows [evolutionary material] better than the kids who have been taught evolution all through public school. But that is in order for him to understand both sides of that argument.”

Obviously, we support Apologia and Bob Jones University’s right to publish textbooks that adopt an unashamed Bible-centric position in all areas of academic inquiry; after all, we have our own God’s Design for Science curriculum that adopts the same approach. It seems some atheists, evolutionists, and other secularists are not satisfied in having driven God and His Word from public schools. Over time, we will likely see increasing critical attention focused on private schools and homeschool families that teach God’s Word, as has been the case in other countries.

3. ScienceDaily: “Students’ Perceptions of Earth’s Age Influence Acceptance of Human Evolution

A University of Minnesota study reveals a correlation between students’ belief in a billions-of-years-old earth and belief that humans evolved.

Researchers surveyed 400 students in an introductory biology course, asking questions about knowledge of evolution, political and religious views, and high school science education. The results are largely unsurprising: students to the political left were more likely to believe in an old earth and were more familiar with evolution; students to the political right were more likely to believe in a young earth and know less about evolution. (We previously covered a survey by the same researchers in the May 16, 2009 edition of News to Note.)

University of Minnesota biologist Sehoya Cotner, the lead researcher, commented, “About one in four high school biology teachers in the upper Midwest are giving students the impression that creationism is a viable explanation for the origins of life on Earth. That’s just not acceptable.” (She erroneously added, assuming she was quoted accurately, “The Constitution prohibits teaching creationism in schools.”)

Insofar as the survey’s results reflect the beliefs, attitudes, and experiences of students around the country, the link between old-earth beliefs, evolutionary beliefs, and left-of-center political views is notable, if unsurprising. Assuming that there is a definite correlation, is it true that there is a slippery slope from accepting compromise on God’s Word (specifically with regard to the age of the earth) to later adopting evolutionary and unbiblical ideas? Although the University of Minnesota survey itself does not prove that, the Already Gone research along with anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that. Once one abandons the principle that God’s Word means what it plainly says—and decides that the Bible must be reinterpreted in the light of “science” (i.e., naturalist science)—the Bible soon becomes diluted with all manner of fashionable anti-God ideas.

4. BBC News: “Giant Meat-Eating Plants Prefer to Eat Tree Shrew Poo

Creationists often respond to challenges that certain animals could not have been vegetarian before the Fall. Only rarely does this topic turn to carnivorous plants, but a new study of pitcher plants may provide support for creationists’ views.

Pitcher plants are perhaps the plant equivalent of a T. rex: the largest of all carnivorous plants, rumored to lure animals as large as rats into its pitcher-shaped, nectar-filled trap and devour them. The pitchers of Nepenthes rajah, thought to be the largest of all pitcher plants, can have a capacity of more than half a gallon (2 L).

The reality may be less sensational, however. On Borneo, the giant montane pitcher plant has a pitcher the same size as the local tree shrew. This presumably has added to the lore of tree shrew- and rat-swallowing pitchers, but these tales did not sit right with Monash University–Sunway carnivorous plant expert Charles Clarke. “This species has always been famous for its ability to trap rodents, but I’ve been looking at the pitchers of this species on and off since 1987, and I’ve never seen a trapped rat inside,” he said.

Clarke along with Monash’s Lijin Chin and Royal Roads University’s Jonathan Moran studied the behavior of tree shrews and noticed an odd interaction between the tree shrews and the pitcher plants: the animals would often defecate into the pitchers. “All of a sudden we realised that there may be some relationship between big pitchers and tree shrews,” Clarke explained.

By studying pitchers’ geometry, the team discovered that the tree shrews’ body length perfectly matches the distance from the nectar-bearing pitcher “lids” and the pitchers themselves. To reach the nectar, the tree shrews climb onto the pitchers in a certain way, leaving its rear poised directly over the pitcher opening. Defecation is thought to be a way to mark territory. The same holds for other pitcher plant species whose nectar is gathered by tree shrews.

Pitcher plants were thought to consume animals to digest crucial nutrients they could not otherwise obtain. However, the feces of the tree shrew (which enjoys the plant’s nectar) supply much or most of these nutrients to the pitcher plant. “The findings should radically alter how we look at these plants,” Clarke said. Research suggests other pitcher plants have similar relationships with small mammals (including even bats).

If there was no death before sin (as the Bible teaches), and if God’s creation was perfect before Adam and Eve sinned (in Genesis 3), it follows that death could not have been present in pre-Fall earth. But how could animals known to eat meat today have survived? Creationists have a variety of nonexclusive explanations; further, creationists continue to discuss the extent of biological life-forms that are considered by God’s Word to have life (and that, therefore, could not have “died” before the Fall). Thus—odd as it may sound—Clarke’s team’s research may give us a better understanding of the original, perfect purpose of pitchers.

5. BBC News: “LHC to Shut Down for a Year to Address Design Faults

The once controversial, multi-billion-dollar “big bang machine” beneath Switzerland will be shutting down yet again.

We first mentioned the Large Hadron Collider in March 2008, half a year before the giant device began operation amid claims it could cause world-destroying black holes. But only a few weeks passed before the project was shut down because of cooling problems, which remained the case for over a year, until last November. Despite the expense and the controversy, scientists’ claims that the project would reproduce events similar to the big bang have come up short.

Now, the operation will be closing down again for up to a year to deal with design concerns. Although plans are to keep the collider up and running through 2011, and then to begin the hiatus, the project will not achieve its primary goals until after that time—instead running on half of its maximum power.

“It’s something that, with a lot more resources and with a lot more manpower and quality control, possibly could have been avoided but I have difficulty in thinking that this is something that was a design error,” said Steve Myers, one of the project’s directors. “The standard phrase is that the [Large Hadron Collider] is its own prototype. We are pushing technologies towards their limits,” he added, pointing out that many aspects of the project have functioned as intended.

So everyone, it seems, will have to wait until 2012 at the earliest for the collider to successfully “recreate” the big bang—a result that will no doubt spark overzealous media headlines. When that time comes, News to Note will be here for the creationist response. Meanwhile, see the links below for the scriptural and scientific case against the big bang.

6. And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Two weeks ago we commented on a variety of research revealing certain animals’ mental abilities. This week we might add news that orangutans understand the “context” of certain far-away calls and behave accordingly.
  • Recent research has shed light on improving the ability for adult stem cells to propagate, which (we hope) will lead to more willingness to use adult stem cells rather than embryonic stem cells in research and therapy.
  • Did the rupture of an ice dam and the consequential draining of a huge lake in Canada give rise to the story of Noah’s Ark?
  • A South African news site offers an interesting review of a coelacanth exhibit. For those who are unfamiliar with the coelacanth, it was long considered an extinct ancient fish and speculated to be a transitional form between fish and tetrapods—until a live specimen was recovered in 1938, not a transitional form at all.
  • Genesis is coming to the big screen, Digital Spy reports. The reportedly $30 million Paramount and Reel Fx project is tentatively titled In the Beginning and will be a 3-D version of the creation story. We hope the final product will be a film Answers in Genesis can support.

For more information: Get Answers

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