Is the big bang a scientific “fact” rejected only by young-earth creationists? A new physics paper shows otherwise.
Although the big bang model of cosmology is widely treated as fact, a new paper by National Tsing Hua University physicist Wun-Yi Shu defends a set of cosmological models that lack a big bang—and that, according to Shu, better fit some of the astronomic data.
In Shu’s models, physics properties such as time and space, along with mass and length, can be converted into one another. Thus, his models allow the expansion of the universe to represent time converted into space and mass converted into length. According to Shu, “Essentially, this work is . . . a novel theory about how the geometry of spacetime and the distribution of mass-energy interact. The theory resolves problems in cosmology, such as those of the big bang, dark energy, and flatness, in one fell stroke.”
As MIT’s Technology Review notes, “It’s easy to dismiss this idea as just another amusing and unrealistic model dreamed up by those whacky comsologists. That is until you look at the predictions it makes.” Specifically, Shu tested one of his models on supernova data, finding his model fits the data better than the big bang model.
Scientists who accept young-earth creation have proposed and explored several cosmological models that are compatible with known laws of physics and astronomical data while upholding a recent creation. Of course, unlike Shu’s model (about which Technology Review writes, “Let’s hope [he] sticks to his guns, if only for the sake of good old-fashioned debate”), creationist models of cosmology are generally rejected out-of-hand by old-age scientists.
A news report touts the advantages and promise of stem cells derived from human skin.
We’ve discussed the medical uses of adult stem cells before (e.g., last month), which—unlike embryonic stem cells—are not harvested in a process that destroys human life. Various forms of adult stem cells have been used in numerous successful therapies, showing that medicine can progress without the need for ethical compromise.
A recent BBC News story draws attention to stem cells derived from adult skin cells. “[T]here are great hopes for skin stem cells,” the BBC’s Jane Elliott says of the ongoing line of research, noting that “it is becoming clear that the skin might in the future hold the key to curing a range of conditions, from cancer to spinal cord repair.”
Among the scientists Elliott spoke with is Sheffield University tissue engineering expert Sheila MacNeil. “We could be [using stem cells] in five years time for diseases which are well understood—like Parkinson’s[—]and for other diseases where they are less well understood, 10 years,” she explained. MacNeil also emphasized that unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells face low risk of being rejected, since the patient who receives them is also the donor.
The medical promise of adult stem cells, including those derived from skin cells, seems to equal, if not exceed, that of embryonic stem cells—and avoids ethical compromise.
Does a “primitive” frog show how frog-hopping evolved?
A team of scientists from New Zealand and the United States report in the journal Naturwissenschaften that frogs evolved the ability to jump before the evolved the ability to land gracefully. The researchers drew their conclusions from observations of a family of so-called “primitive” frogs known as Leiopelmatidae.
Through the use of slow-motion video, the scientists noted that the frogs landed “belly flop” style—more successful for landing in the water than for ground landings. Other frogs, by comparison, adjust their legs in the middle of a jump, allowing a smooth landing on their feet. The poor landings also inhibit the frogs’ ability to make repeated jumps, while the graceful landings allow repeated jumps.
The interpretation the team gives the data is that “early hindlimb recovery might have been a key feature in the evolutionary history of frogs”—that is, the ability is a product of evolution. However, to what degree is this interpretation a product of the fact that the team already thinks Leiopelmatidae frogs to be “primitive”?
Creationists may interpret the research in two ways. First, it may be that each frog’s jumping behavior merely reflects the habitat for which God designed it. Alternatively, it may be that—if we assume the “belly flop” landing is detrimental—Leiopelmatidae frogs have lost the ability to land gracefully, for either genetic or other reasons. For creationists, rather than viewing the more complex behavior as newer (more evolved), we view the more complex behavior as older (the original design).
The kangaroo may be an Australian icon, but according to some scientists, kangaroos and other marsupials have American roots.
The scientists, led by the University of Münster’s Maria Nilsson, studied the genomes of marsupials to investigate the creatures’ evolutionary history. Marsupials, the classification of mammals distinguished by the use of a pouch for housing young, encompass such well-known animals as kangaroo, opossums, and Tasmanian devils.
The problem for evolutionists is that what marsupial genomes suggest about marsupial history does not match what the fossil record (according to an old-age interpretation) does. An evolutionary interpretation of genetic studies indicates that marsupials evolved in South America, after which one marsupial lineage migrated to Australia. After that, the two marsupial groups evolved in isolation. But an evolutionary interpretation of the fossil record suggests that some marsupials that evolved in Australia may have migrated back to South America.
Nilsson’s team looked for genetic fragments called retroposons, assuming that two creatures with retroposons in the same location must have a common ancestor. Looking at the retroposons of more than twenty marsupial species, the scientists found they all have the same ten retroposons, though the opossum lacks two “nearly universal” retroposons.
Because marsupials share commonalities in design, however, common retroposons need not indicate that all marsupials living today share a single ancestor. On board the Ark would have been representatives from each marsupial kind, and from these common ancestors (plural) today’s marsupials have descended. Today’s marsupials share some common ancestry—and some common design.
“My generation of evangelicals is . . . ready to be done with the whole evolution-creation debate. We are ready to move on.” Those are among the bold claims from a young evangelical who now “embrace[s] evolution.”
The young author of Evolving in Monkey Town, Rachel Held Evans tells the story of growing up in Dayton, Tennessee—location of the infamous (and widely misrepresented) Scopes trial. Raised in a creationist atmosphere, Evans now says that “you don’t have to choose between loving and following Jesus and believing in evolution.”
According to Bob Smietana, author of the article featuring Evans that appeared in the Nashville Tennessean and the USA Today, Evans is just one of a “movement of mostly Protestant writers and scientists trying to reconcile faith and science.” Smietana also quotes several other individuals with various perspectives on the origins debate, from Answers in Genesis friend Al Mohler to Christian evolutionist Karl Giberson.
Evans told Smietana, “My generation of evangelicals is ready to call a truce on the culture wars. It seems like our parents, our pastors, and the media won’t let us do that. We are ready to be done with the whole evolution-creation debate. We are ready to move on.” However, neither Evans nor the article provides grounds to believe that she does speak for her generation.
On one hand, Answers in Genesis agrees—in a way—with Evans’s insistence that “you don’t have to choose between loving and following Jesus and believing in evolution.” Likewise, a person doesn’t have to choose between following Jesus and believing Jesus is the Son of God who lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and was resurrected; it all depends on what one means by “following Jesus.” But just as the Bible clearly teaches who Jesus is, and that He died and rose again, Scripture teaches of a recent, supernatural creation that explains why humans need a Savior in the first place. Ultimately, “moving on” from the truth of Genesis 1–11 undermines the gospel message. An individual may believe in evolution while genuinely following Jesus, but the two cannot theologically go hand in hand.
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, the 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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