Is Homo sapiens twice as old as was previously believed? Or are evolutionists simply twice as credulous?
Last month, researchers from Tel Aviv University shocked the world, reporting the discovery of what appear to be Homo sapiens teeth that are an alleged 400,000 years old. If true, that would approximately double the length of time evolutionists believe our species has walked the earth—no small shift in the evolutionary story of human origins. Not only that, but one researcher claims it could mean humans arose (supposedly) in Israel, contrary to the popular “out of Africa” view of man’s origins.
The teeth were found in Qesem Cave, where excavations have been ongoing since 2004. A team led by archaeologist Avi Gopher estimated the age of the teeth based on the sedimentary layer in which they were found. Acknowledging that more research is needed to confirm his team’s conclusion, Gopher said the research “changes the whole picture of evolution.”
Cambridge University archaeologist Paul Mellars doesn’t dispute the research, but he notes that identifying the species based only on teeth is tricky. “Based on the evidence they’ve cited, [their claim is] a very tenuous and frankly rather remote possibility,” he said.
If the Tel Aviv University team cannot recover further evidence for their claim, scientists may quickly forget about the teeth and assume they cannot be H sapiens. But if further evidence is found that confirms the presence of H. sapiens in Israel nearly half a million years ago, how will evolutionists react? Evolution needs time, and archaeological discoveries—based on old-earth dating methods—have given evolutionists a model about where humans were, and when. When puzzling outliers like these teeth appear, the correspondence in the model begins to fall apart. Which is wrong: the old-earth dating methods, or the evolutionary model? If the team does find more evidence, evolutionists may be labeling the cave’s treasures an “unsolved mystery” for many years to come.
Based on the press reports, the Roman Catholic Church continues to accept the big bang model of universal origins, but the pope makes it clear that believers should still see a divine mind behind the bang.
“The universe is not the result of chance, as some would want to make us believe,” the pope said in a sermon this week, labeling some scientific theories “mind limiting” in that they “only arrive at a certain point . . . and do not manage to explain the ultimate sense of reality.”
Reuters reports that the pontiff also claimed, “In the beauty of the world, in its mystery, in its greatness and in its rationality . . . we can only let ourselves be guided toward God, creator of heaven and earth.” While it seems hard for any theist to disagree, a vocal group of atheistic scientists insist that—almost by definition—the purpose of science is to lead us away from God, who is seen as merely an intellectual “crutch” when we do not fully understand an aspect of the natural world (e.g., how the universe could supposedly create itself).
Obviously, we agree with the Catholic leader’s comments insofar as we see God as the ultimate Creator behind the universe. The question is, why push God “outside” the universe, only letting Him initiate the universe with a bang and then using billions of years of natural processes—including death and destruction—to create mankind? That sort of thinking leads Catholic biologist (and ardent evolutionist) Ken Miller to declare that he has “no idea” whether God intended to create humans, or whether it was a mere cosmic accident.
Yet Genesis—which Jesus quoted as fundamental truth—teaches not only that mankind did not evolve, but that God was intimately involved in all aspects of creation, including the astronomical bodies throughout the universe. Moreover, Genesis puts man at the center of creation, with the sun and moon serving as lights for us. Thus, the evolutionary worldview turns the biblical worldview on its head, insisting that there was no purpose nor meaning in creation, and that we are merely a cosmic accident. But if that is true, why did God even bother? Only the biblical worldview presents a coherent portrait of why we exist. Furthermore, the biblical worldview refutes the big bang. As AiG President Ken Ham wrote on his Friday blog: “The big bang has the sun and stars before the earth, but God said He made the earth before the sun and stars. Furthermore, the big bang has the earth beginning as a hot molten blob, but the Bible has the earth at the beginning covered with water.”
Neanderthals, move aside; it’s time for us to meet your cousins, the “Denisovans.”
Genetic data gathered from a tooth and a portion of a pinky bone found in a Siberia's Denisova cave have confirmed the existence of a “new” group of humans related to Neanderthals and “modern” humans (though their genes are more similar to Neanderthals’). They have not been given an official scientific name, but have instead been nicknamed the “Denisovans.”
But the most interesting twist (from the evolutionary perspective) is that modern humans from New Guinea have Denisovan DNA. While an evolutionary perspective interprets this as meaning that Guineans’ ancestors “interbred” with Denisovans, a biblical perspective interprets this as simply meaning that the descendants of one of the people groups leaving Babel eventually settled in what is now New Guinea.
That is, rather than thinking of Denisovans—or even of Neanderthals—as a separate group of “less-than-humans,” we should merely think of them as a collection of our ancestors with certain genes that did not get passed on to us today as successfully as the genes from our other ancestors. This may have been because those humans grew more isolated from other humans and, as a result, their genetic diversity and fitness declined. But they were both just as (or even more intelligent than) modern humans. (As an aside, scientists recently learned that Neanderthals cooked and ate vegetables—but creationists shouldn’t be surprised.)
Writing for BBC News, Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum, emphasizes that both Denisovans and Neanderthals belonged to our species, Homo sapiens. (Indeed, given the original definition of species as referring to organisms that could interbreed successfully, treating them as separate species doesn’t make sense. However, that definition is no longer observed.) Finlayson writes:
Put together, this evidence shows us that humans formed an interwoven network of populations with varying degrees of gene flow between them. Some humans may have looked quite different from each other, revealing a combination of adaptation to local environments and genetic drift, but it does seem as though those differences were not large enough to prevent genetic interchange.
The Bible presents all humans as descendants of Adam and Eve, and distinguishes us from other animals as having been made in the image of God. After the Tower of Babel, mankind parted ways, and that parting set off a chain of genetic adaptation as humans spread across the globe, giving us the people groups we have today while others died out. But we all remain one race, and looking back in time, that includes both Neanderthals and, now, Denisovans.
The amazing Bombardier beetle has long been a favorite of intelligent design advocates, who ask how the insect’s amazing self-defense mechanism could have arisen in stepwise fashion. Now, researchers have imitated that incredible mechanism.
When threatened, the Bombardier beetle can expel stinky, toxic steam with high accuracy at a predator, giving the beetle time to escape. Scientists at the University of Leeds, with support from Swedish Biomimetics 3000, recently received an award for their work studying and copying the beetle’s defensive mechanism.
The researchers first endeavored to fully understand the method by which the beetle creates the toxic explosion. Then, a scaled-up man-made simulation was designed that uses special techniques to shoot liquids up to 13 ft (4 m) away. The technology in the simulation allows the researchers to precisely control various aspects of the spray, including droplet size, temperature, and velocity. The device is also environmentally friendly, as the sprays are based on water. (Most aerosol sprays are based on environmentally unfriendly propellants.)
Andy McIntosh, the professor of thermodynamics and combustion theory who headed the team, noted, “Nobody had studied the beetle from a physics and engineering perspective as we did, and we didn’t appreciate how much we would learn from it.” The team foresees potential applications for the device in everything from needle-free injections to fire extinguishers.
We often conclude our reports on scientists who are imitating God’s designs with the sad note that they attribute those designs to evolution, not God. But that isn’t the case this time. In fact, the name Andy McIntosh may sound familiar, because McIntosh is not only an award-winning scientist, but also a young-earth creationist. The research therefore provides not only another fascinating look at the incredible complexity and sophistication of biological creation, but also a reminder that one can be a Bible-believing young-earth creationist and a top-notch scientist at the same time.
(In other news of God’s creation inspiring engineer’s designs, scientists have developed a camera that can see like a trilobite!)
Is the Ark Encounter—the forthcoming Noah’s Ark-centered “edutainment” theme park—a “boondoggle” and an “embarrassment”? Apparently so, if one is asking the editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and several other newspapers that have recently printed anti-Ark editorials.
The Post-Gazette editorial slams the Ark Encounter, a project of Answers in Genesis that will complement our Creation Museum. At the center of the newspaper’s broadside is the question of tax incentives—which may total up to $43 million—the project may receive from the state of Kentucky.
“Science education in Kentucky’s high schools could have used an infusion of $43 million,” the editors opine, continuing:
Instead, the state’s people will get an amusement park that shows humans, dinosaurs and other animals living together on a wooden ship. It’s an embarrassment for the whole nation, not just Kentucky.
The central problem of the editorial is that it is completely wrong. It reveals a lack of understanding of the nature of the tax incentives the Ark Encounter may receive. No tax money will “help fund” (their words) the Ark Encounter, nor will taxpayers “be on the hook” (again, their words) for any portion of the cost of the project. Rather, once the Ark Encounter is up and running (having been paid for entirely by private funding), the state will essentially rebate back to us a portion of the sales tax collected through the Ark Encounter project. The state will never give the Ark Encounter funds from its own budget; the Ark project will merely collect a part of the sales tax it had already collected at the attraction.
But wait—doesn’t that still represent a loss of tax dollars to the state? Not at all, because the state wouldn’t collect any sales tax from the Ark Encounter if it were never built! So even if a limited portion of the sales tax from the park is not added to state coffers, the project will remain a new source of income for the state. Also, the project will attract tourist and construction dollars that will support local businesses and jobs in both the short and long run. Furthermore, these incentives are available to other private tourist attractions; to specifically deny them to the Ark Encounter because of its Old Testament content would (as far as we can tell) violate the First Amendment.
We will give the Post-Gazette the benefit of the doubt and assume the editors did not intend to distort the truth. More likely they simply did sloppy research, presumably basing their critique on other misrepresentative media reports instead of reviewing the press materials we have provided. (For instance, weeks before the Post-Gazette editorial we had already published a response to an initial rash of misrepresentation.)
Of course, the worldview underlying the editorial comes through loud and clear. They refer to the “interpretation” that “men and dinosaurs co-existed less than 10,000 years ago” (along with a literal reading of the Ark account) as an “embarrassment.” Of course, they’re thereby calling about half of their countrymen an embarrassment.
Later, the editorial states, “Even with this guarantee, expecting the taxpayers of Kentucky to subsidize religious propaganda is outrageous. Imagine the hoots of derision if tax subsidies were OK’d for a Muslim or Hindu theme park.” Of course, that may well be true; then again, that doesn’t justify their misrepresentation—especially since we guess that in their hypothetical scenario, the Post-Gazette would rush to the defense of the Muslim or Hindu theme park, to say nothing of their and most other papers’ defense of all the zoos, national and state parks, and natural history museums in the country that subtly or not-so-subtly promote the religion of humanism.
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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