1. CNN: “Leading atheist publishes secular Bible

The Good Book: A Humanist Bible by atheist philosopher A.C. Grayling, released this month, is being billed as if it is an inspirational collection of ethical tidbits packaged in the familiar biblical literary style. But…

Grayling has, in his words, assembled the “non-religious teaching of civilization’s greatest thinkers.” He has arranged them in two-column versified literary English with a humanist ten commandments.

Grayling claims that even Bible lovers will like his book. However, Isaac Newton, a Bible-believer, would likely be horrified to find himself featured on the very first page.

Grayling’s humanistic book presents the ideas most closely held by evolutionists in a flowery poetical way. Here is a quotation to illustrate:

The first inquirers . . . saw that nothing comes from nothing, so that discovering the elements reveals how the things of nature exist and evolve. Fear holds dominion over people when they understand little, and need simple stories and legends to comfort and explain; But legends and the ignorance that give them birth are a house of limitations and darkness.

The book glorifies the acquisition of knowledge and essentially accuses those who hold views other than those in the book of being mired in fear and ignorance. We as Christians at Answers in Genesis are neither anti-science nor anti-knowledge; we even have many staff members with earned doctorates. But we know that genuine truth cannot possibly contradict the revealed Word of the Creator of the universe.

Grayling claims that religious people will connect with the concepts in this book, which he says is not anti-religious. His book may not offend “religious people,” but it should offend Bible-believing Christians. Its feel-good humanistic philosophy may be enchanting to some, but to borrow from the philosopher Plato, “Everything that deceives may be said to enchant” (The Republic). We as Christians should recognize that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:26). (In fact, without God’s Word as a universal standard, there really is no rational basis for determining right and wrong.)

Grayling claims that the book will help people to get the “spiritual connection” they hunger for—to find meaning and purpose in life—by learning “to respect and relate to one another” and to “celebrate the good in the world.” But Jesus Christ has told us that He is the only way to be reconciled to God.

A final quotation from Grayling’s book should remind us of the eternal difference between man’s philosophy and God’s: Grayling says, “He who has learned to die has unlearned slavery. He is beyond any external power, or at any rate, he is it. What terrors has any experience of life for him? This is the final consolation: that we will sleep at evening, and be free for ever.” Yet God warns that death offers not freedom and consolation but rather judgment (Hebrews 9:27–28) Death is an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). God’s Word warns us that without trust in the shed blood of Christ for salvation and the victory won by Him at His resurrection (which we celebrate next weekend), the prospects after death are indeed something to fear.

For more information:

2. PhysOrg: “Researchers resurrect ancient enzymes to reveal conditions of early life on Earth

Laboratory reconstruction of ancient enzymes has suggested that these enzymes are remarkably similar to enzymes in modern creatures and purportedly indicate what conditions were on the early earth.

“Ancestral sequence reconstruction” is a technique in which DNA known to code for a certain protein in modern-day organisms is used to reconstruct ancestral DNA. The resulting protein sequence can then be synthesized in the laboratory and the properties of the resulting protein studied.

Claiming to have thus reconstructed the enzyme thioredoxin as found in “four-billion-year-old extinct organisms,” researchers were surprised to find that “enzymes that existed in the Precambrian era up to four billion years ago possessed many of the same chemical mechanisms observed in their modern-day relatives.” Furthermore, since the reconstructed enzyme seemed unusually resistant to harsh conditions of heat and acidity, they concluded that the early earth must have been hotter and more acidic.

In fact, however, ancestral sequence reconstruction is only as reliable as the assumptions on which it is based. In this case the researchers “resurrected Trx enzymes belonging to the last bacterial common ancestor” and some other single-celled ancestors. All of these modern organisms were chosen because they “are thought to have inhabited Earth 4.2-3.5 billion years ago after diverging from the last universal common ancestor (quotation from original paper in Nature America).”

While claiming to have avoided making “far-reaching assumptions about ancient life,” the researchers were in fact making unverifiable assumptions about the existence of a particular evolutionary tree as well as the rate at which divergence of species occurred. (Presumably, they have extrapolated backwards using these assumptions to grab a four billion year date, since even the dating methods with their underlying assumptions haven’t suggested dates for fossilized bacteria any older than 2.8 billion years.) Thus the age of this hypothetical ancestor whose protein is to be analyzed in the present form in its descendents is presumed to be about four billion years.

Furthermore, as also pointed out by Paul Williams et al. in “Assessing the Accuracy of Ancestral Protein Reconstruction Methods,” the methods chosen for the reconstruction tend to give inconsistent results with regard to such characteristics as thermostability.

In the present study, the enzyme’s properties are said to be consistent with the conditions it would have to contend with on the early earth. Yet Williams’ evaluation would suggest that even the conclusions about the robustness of the enzyme should be taken with a grain of salt.

Once again, your presuppositions determine your conclusions.

For more information:

3. Sciencemag.org: “Bill Allowing Teachers to Challenge Evolution passes Tennessee House

Teachers in Tennessee’s public schools may soon join those in Louisiana in being allowed to teach students critical thinking skills when examining controversial topics such as evolution.

In a 70-28 vote last week, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed HB 368, a bill which—if passed as expected by the state Senate and signed into law—will protect K-12 teachers who help students “understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught, namely, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” The bill states that it “shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine.”

Vocal opponent of the bill, Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, claims “There is virtually no scientific controversy among the overwhelming majority of researchers on the core facts of global warming and evolution. Asserting that there are significant scientific controversies about the overall nature of these concepts when there are none will only confuse students, not enlighten them.”

To deny that scientific controversy exists is a slap at the credentials of the many reputable scientists who accept the creationist interpretation of the evidence as well as the many who see the scientific weaknesses of evolution. Furthermore, to shelter children from the knowledge that real scientists with real credentials find holes in the tenets of biological evolution, global warming, etc. would be to raise up a generation unable to critically examine controversial topics and think for themselves.

If this bill becomes law, teachers in Tennessee will legally have the academic freedom to teach children how to critically analyze scientific ideas instead of accepting them blindly. They would be allowed to present evidence both for and against evolution.

At the same time, we hasten to point out that the evidence does not speak for itself. Every person has a bias which affects the way he views the evidence. If a presupposition defines science—as has been done in recent years—as completely excluding the possibility of any non-naturalistic input, then the student is in effect being told that no supernatural origin is scientifically plausible.

We have never suggested a mandate to force teachers to teach creation, but we exhort Christian parents and churches to re-double their efforts to teach not only critical thinking skills but also the truth of the Bible as God’s Word. Students need to be taught that the Bible is completely consistent with the findings of science.

For more information:

4. PhysOrg: “New genetic study helps to solve Darwin’s mystery about the ancient evolution of flowering plants

Analysis of data from the Ancestral Angiosperm Genome Project presumably has solved the mystery of how such a variety of flowering plants could evolve in such a short evolutionary time-span.

The “rapid diversification of flowering plants in the fossil record” was termed an “abominable mystery” by Darwin. Assuming that all flowering plants came from a common ancestor, evolutionists ever since Darwin’s day have puzzled over how the many varieties could evolve so fast. Many plant genomes have duplication of genetic material—a condition called polyploidy—which purportedly provides a mechanism for more developmental options than would be available for cells with only two sets of genetic material as found in most animals. (Polyploidy in humans and animals is normally lethal.)

The study suggests that the occurrence of polyploidy early in the evolutionary process provided the genetic material for future diversification to be distributed to a variety of species for further modification.

Two points need to be made here. First of all, the study claims to have used analysis of plant genomes to show that polyploidy provided a method of diversification 200 million years earlier than previously found. However, just as dating of fossils requires certain unverifiable assumptions, so does dating of genetic events by any sort of “molecular clock.” Evolutionists have trouble seeing how mutations can produce variety so “quickly” and are much happier when a couple of million years can be added to the available time, but neither the old nor the new dates can be verified by operational science. Scientific verification requires observable, testable, repeatable events. Extrapolation from present molecular behavior to the distant unobservable past requires assumptions which depend on what the scientist already believes.

Secondly, polyploidy is genetic duplication. It does not produce new genetic information. It just reshuffles and duplicates current information. No new biological structures or functions are gained by polyploidy or any other mutations. Creationists do not deny the genetic mechanisms for production of new varieties within a kind. God created both animals and plants to reproduce after their kind, and that design allows for the magnificent variety we see in many species of both plants and animals.

For more information:

5. Canada.com: “UN document would give ‘Mother Earth’ same rights as humans

Proposed United Nations treaty, mirroring Bolivia’s recently passed Law of the Rights of Mother Earth, would “recognize the Earth as a living entity” and grant “her” legally protected rights.

According to Bolivia’s law, which is the model for the treaty, human beings, bugs, trees, all other natural things, and the planet itself are living entities with legal rights.

The book of Genesis tells us that God created the earth and designed it to be a good place for man to live. Then He gave man, made in the image of God, dominion over the earth and the job of subduing it (Genesis 1:28). Man is to be a good steward of the earth and its resources.

Pantheism and various forms of earth worship are nothing new (Romans 1:25). The amazing thing to see is that a world which can scream that “God is dead” or that “there is no God” can redefine the ball of rock and water we live on as not only alive but divine.

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • A recent study of rhesus monkey behavior suggests that these ubiquitous research subjects tend to harbor prejudicial feelings against monkeys with whom they are not acquainted. The study measured how long the monkeys stared at photographs of other monkeys and whether they associated those faces with happy things like fruit or scary things like spiders. Since the monkey ancestry of humans is assumed as fact, the researchers suggest that these “underlying patterns of thinking that fuel all conflicts” may require more creative solutions than simply legislating against prejudices.
  • Stem cell research took a leap forward this week as a Japanese research laboratory reported in Nature that it has used mouse embryonic stem cells to form a retina. A gel stent was used to assist stem cells differentiating into retinal cells to form the cup-like shape of an actual retina. This mimics the process which occurs during embryonic development as cells multiply, differentiate, and fold into the proper shape. The prospect of a future stem cell treatment for retinal disease is exciting; we certainly hope the investigators will pursue the more promising avenue of adult stem cell research in the search for practical solutions.
  • A British toddler with multiple handicaps due to “an extra strand of DNA” on the seventh chromosome is not, as an online comment on the article is already claiming, an example of “evolution in operation.” While this particular genetic duplication is unusual, extra copies of genetic material in human beings is a well-known occurrence. Our hearts go out to this child. We only mention his plight here to point out that having extra copies of genes is not the same as having new information. Evolution would require the spontaneous appearance of new information.
  • A recent survey of one denomination’s problems due to “unbiblical ideology” is typical of many denominations today. The article points out that the problem lies not just in the churches but also in the Christian colleges. For more information on this problem see Ken Ham’s soon-to-be-released co-authored book, Already Compromised (Colossians 2:8).

For more information: Get Answers


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