1. ScienceDaily: “‘Mitochondrial Eve’: Mother of All Humans Lived 200,000 Years Ago

When evolutionary scientists speak of “mitochondrial Eve,” they may be referencing the biblical Eve, but the woman they have in mind isn’t quite the same.

Genesis 2–3 describes Eve as the first woman—made from the first man, Adam—and who was given her name because “she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). But for evolutionists, “Eve” was never the mother of all those living during her lifetime, nor was she the first woman nor even the only woman around at the time.

Instead, the evolutionary view of Eve is the most recent common maternal ancestor who can be traced to all humans living today. The appellation “mitochondrial” refers to the DNA present in human mitochondria (a cell organelle) that is only inherited maternally; it is through analysis of this mitochondrial DNA that the date of the evolutionary Eve has been calculated.

But as with many other genetic analyses, assumptions—evolutionary assumptions—play a crucial role. Researcher Krzysztof Cyran of the Silesian University of Technology explains:

“You have to translate the differences between gene sequences into how they evolved in time. And how they evolved in time depends upon the model of evolution that you use. So, for instance, what is the rate of genetic mutation, and is that rate of change uniform in time? And what about the process of random loss of genetic variants, which we call genetic drift?”

A news release, meanwhile, explains:

Each model has its own assumptions, and each assumption has mathematical implications. To further complicate matters, some of the assumptions are not valid for human populations.

Using such assumptions, Cyran and colleagues concluded that mitochondrial Eve most likely lived some 200,000 years ago—an age dwarfing the biblical date of around 6,000 years ago. But once again, we see the crucial role played not by scientific observation, but by presuppositions about how, where, and when humans arrived on the planet, and how, where, and when the human population has changed since our arrival. And, of course, the researchers aren’t working with biblical presuppositions—so it’s no surprise that they overestimate their “Eve” by 194,000 years!

2. BBC News: “Bacteria Can ‘Smell’ Their Environment, Research Shows

Bacteria may seem like senseless life-forms, but researchers have discovered that the tiny organisms have a sense of smell.

The single-celled organisms obviously lack anything like a nose, but nonetheless, scientists at Newcastle University have shown that at least one type of bacteria can respond to the presence of ammonia in nearby air—a behavior essentially like smelling.

Newcastle microbiologists Grant Burgess and Reindert Nijland (now at University Medical Center Utrecht) studied the bacterium B. licheniformis. One culture of the bacteria was “fed” a growth medium that would cause the bacteria to produce ammonia. Another culture, placed in a separate container, was in a medium that allowed the bacteria to produce slimy biofilms, which typically occurs if the bacteria come in contact with ammonia. (To the bacteria, ammonia indicates a food source close by, and the biofilm helps the bacteria move toward it.)

The scientists then watched as the second group of bacteria began producing biofilms, despite not being in contact with the ammonia produced by the first group. This indicated that the bacteria were able to sense the nearby ammonia, despite not being in direct contact with it. Moreover, the bacteria of the second group physically closest to the first group produced the most biofilm.

Nijland speculated, “If very simple organisms such as bacteria are capable of this[,] that would imply that this ability evolved much earlier than expected.” Of course, the alternative explanation is that God gave bacteria yet another complex capability, designing it perfectly for the original purpose He intended.

For more information:

3. BBC News: “Fossils May Be ‘Earliest Animals’

Last week it was the oldest remains of the earth. This week, it’s the oldest remains of animals.

Princeton researchers led by Adam Maloof believe they’ve discovered the most ancient remains of animals on earth, found in rocks in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. The fossils have been dated at nearly 650 million years old, 70 or more million years older than any other animal remains have been dated.

According to the scientists, the fossils—which take the form of “circles, anvils, wishbones and rings,” BBC News reports—are from a sponge-like creature about a centimeter in size. The fossils were originally mistaken for mud chips embedded in the rocks, Maloof explained, and the team still cannot answer how the organisms survived a supposed ice age that occurred near that time.

South Australian Museum researcher Jim Gehling is skeptical, however. The fossils “may just as easily be mineralised bacterial cells or some other sort to single-celled microbes,” he said. “The problem is that we have no idea what the very earliest sponges may have looked like. This means that the discovery of any weird shape in rocks of this age may lead to claims of the ‘oldest sponge-grade fossils’.”

Determining what creature a particular fossil was and when it was formed requires several layers of interpretation. For example, the date of 650 million years is based on evolutionary and geological assumptions. If even fellow evolutionists are skeptical about just what these South Australia finds are, then it’s no surprise that as creationists, we too are skeptical. Furthermore, whether they are sponges, sponge-like creatures, or microbes, they would have existed only since creation—approximately 6,000 years ago.

4. Wall Street Journal: “The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity

The exodus of youth from the church continues, but one evangelical casts doubt on the stopgap strategy of “wannabe cool” Christianity.

Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: Where Church and Cool Collide, isn’t happy with contemporary attempts to make Christianity “cool”—what he calls “rebrand[ing] Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant.” In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, McCracken writes,

If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that “cool Christianity” is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.

For McCracken, that means avoiding such reported “gimmicks” as church-sponsored (inappropriate) secular films, references to (inappropriate) popular music in sermons, or (inappropriately) expensive haircuts for pastors. Summing it up, he writes, “Maybe sex sermons and indie-rock worship music do help in getting people in the door, and maybe even in winning new converts. But what sort of Christianity are they being converted to?” He concludes,

If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It’s because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It’s not because we want more of the same.

The book Already Gone, coauthored by Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham, documents the mental exodus of youth from the church years before their physical exodus. Clearly, “hipster” Christianity has failed; as McCracken writes, that’s because people want an alternative to the world. For us, that includes the biblical alternative to the secular worldview that says that life is just a great cosmic accident. Only by standing on God’s Word—not on popular culture and ever-flimsier sermons—will the church have the opportunity to win each new generation.

5. LiveScience: “Creation Museum Creates Discomfort for Some Visitors

While we know our Creation Museum may be something of a headache for many evolutionists, this is the first we’ve heard of the widely acclaimed museum causing “discomfort” for visitors.

The claim comes from Morehead State University sociologist Bernadette Barton, whose previous work has dealt with exotic dancing and Star Trek, and who is currently conducting survey research on “lesbian and gay voices from the Bible belt.” Barton presented recent work to the American Sociological Association that argues that “the Creation Museum can be uncomfortable for non-fundamentalist visitors,” LiveScience reports. This commentary on the museum was picked up by some major news websites, like MSNBC and Yahoo News

Barton visited the museum three times to research the subject, not only working through exhibits but also observing other visitors. “I was seeking to understand the fundamentalist framework,” she says—and we’re glad she at least visited the museum before passing judgment, although only she knows how open-minded her visits were. “I went there seeking to understand how people adhere to [a] set of beliefs that can, in my opinion, have sometimes destructive consequences,” she adds.

So how did Barton arrive at the idea that the museum is discomforting? First, LiveScience reports that homosexual students who accompanied her “were on edge at the museum” because of the biblical material against homosexuality (we suppose that a museum exhibit that shows the origin of marriage as a man and a woman, Adam and Eve, will cause some visitors to be uncomfortable) and because of signs “warning that guests could be asked to leave the premises at any time.” A guard and his dog allegedly “circled a student pointedly twice without saying anything,” adding to the sense of intimidation, while a “museum patron” reportedly said, “He did that . . . because of the way you’re dressed. We know you’re not religious; you just don’t fit in.”

LiveScience also spoke with Answers in Genesis astrophysicist Jason Lisle, who explained that guard dogs are necessary for the safety of museum visitors and staff because of ongoing threats against the museum, while the expulsion warning is necessary in case of guests who intentionally disturb other visitors.

It’s hardly shocking, of course, that non-creationists, and especially those living in an unbiblical lifestyle, may find parts of the Creation Museum discomforting. After all, those same individuals would likely be equally uncomfortable in a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church. And clearly, the museum’s security team is necessary because of the hostility creationists endure—including “discomforting” experiences from school classrooms to publicly funded museums. Perhaps Barton’s next research project should focus on the Bible-believer/creationist’s experience in the secular world!

6. And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Scientists have discovered that a menacing ancient reptile—thought to be extinct before humans were on the scene—actually coexisted with humans for a time. No, it isn’t the dinosaur; it’s the giant turtle Meiolaniid.
  • Disease: is it a product of evolution or does it stem from the corruption of God’s perfect design?
  • News of mammoth ivory being used in lieu of (restricted) elephant ivory reminds us that the two creatures were most likely part of the same created kind. The ivory is recovered from “mass graves” of mammoths, which suggests a catastrophic demise.
  • While we aren’t surprised that a paper about a passage of Scripture has been pulled from Virology Journal, the problems with it seem largely superficial. The paper claims that a scene in the Gospels is one of the earliest human recordings of influenza. But one pundit writes, “Had the researchers examined some newly found document, mummified body, or other forensic evidence, that would be one thing. But using the gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke in the New King James version of the Bible as the entire data set made ‘Virology Journal’ look like ‘Mad’ magazine or ‘The Onion.’” While it may be true that the paper did not meet the technical requirements for publication in the journal, the pundit seems to imply that any research that treats the Bible academically is off limits.
  • We don’t know that this comic strip’s author is a creationist, but a humorous strip earlier this week gives us an opportunity to mention the clock in the rock.

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