Doonesbury drips with twisted information.
Last Sunday’s funnies featured a Doonesbury cartoon designed to shape public opinion with a creative but distorted comic dialogue. Misinformation which can lead people to laugh their way into decisions with disastrous eternal consequences is not funny.
The comic student opens with, “You believe we’re descended from apes?” After a brief digression alluding to Christians who maintain that the unicorns in the Bible were not fantasy animals, the comic biology teacher delivers a series of erroneous and misleading statements. He misrepresents scientific evidence, Louisiana law, biblical history, and the educational preparation needed for college.
The teacher says, “So all the evidence massively supports a theory of evolution that knits together everything we know about biology! However, as high school science students in the state of Louisiana, you are entitled to learn an alternative theory supported by no scientific evidence whatsoever!”
Evidence is interpreted through an observer’s worldview. The ability to weave a nice story from visible evidence does not make that story true. The fairy tale of evolution lacks testable scientific evidence to support its contentions that organisms acquired genetic information to become new kinds of organisms by accumulating information-losing mutations over millions of years. Such an idea makes as much sense as expecting a business which loses money on every sale to profit by making up the loss in volume!
The assertion that the “alternative theory” offered by creationists is “supported by no scientific evidence whatsoever” is false. The biblical account of Creation and the global Flood explains genetics, the fossil record, and the results of sin’s curse on this world. What we see in today’s world is consistent with what we read in God’s Word.
The comic teacher then explains the “alternative theory” saying, “It goes like this. 5,700 years ago, a male deity created the heavens and earth and all life on it in six days. . . . Unfortunately, He didn’t like His own handiwork, so God created genocide and drowned everyone on earth except the family of Noah, a 600-year-old man who was charged with saving animals. . . . So Noah took two of everything including microbes, but forgot the dinosaurs.”
We’ll spot the cartoonist’s ignorance of biblical chronology for missing a few centuries. Biblical chronology actually gives an age of the earth of about 6000 years. At least he got the “six days” right. However, Louisiana’s law does not condone religious teaching in public schools. What the law allows is an open discussion of the scientific problems with evolutionary ideas. If the evolutionary emperor really has no clothes, this law allows students to see and say so. And if they don’t, that’s okay too. They’re at least learning to evaluate evidence with discernment. And students are not being required or encouraged to read the book of Genesis, contrary to the strip’s contention that they are “entitled” to.
The comic teacher also misrepresents God, sin, judgment, and the cause of suffering. God liked “His own handiwork” just fine. Rebellious human beings wrecked this world. God as Creator was justified in destroying a wicked world, yet He made a way of salvation available to all who would take it. Only Noah’s family did. Today, countless people ignore another kind of salvation—the eternal salvation available in Christ.
The comic teacher also failed to do his homework about the Ark. Noah took air-breathing animals on board, not microbes. Microbes didn’t need Noah’s help to survive the Flood. But dinosaurs were on the Ark.
Neither Noah nor God forgot.
The portrayal of a public school teacher being required to teach “creationist” ideas and doing so sarcastically and incorrectly highlights the reason Answers in Genesis has never been in favor of requiring teachers to teach creationism.1 Louisiana law allows academic freedom and promotes development of thinking skills by permitting critical discussion of “scientific theories” including evolution.
The comic ends with a student’s plaintive interruption, “Please stop. I’d like to get into a good college.” But teaching evolutionary ideas as indisputable facts is indoctrination. Why should the scientific problems with those ideas be concealed from students? Such sugar-coated teaching of evolutionary ideas does not prepare students to think sharply and critically for college. On the contrary, it only teaches them to accept without question the things they are told.
Another so-called vestigial organ finds a function.
Marine biologists have long thought the “adipose fin” on the back of some fish was vestigial. Located between the dorsal and tail fins, the small adipose fin is often clipped by hatcheries to track the salmon they produce.
University of Victoria biologist Tom Reimchen, reasoning that the adipose fin would not persist “for 60 million years unless it had some use,” decided to investigate. He found that removal of the fin forced fish to expend more energy to swim. Further investigation showed the adipose fin is richly innervated.
“This strongly suggests that the fin acts as a mechano-sensory organ that relays positional information to the fish,” Reimchen said. The common practice of clipping the fin may thus be depriving hatchery fish of “a vital sensory device” and potentially decreasing the survival of those fish as they navigate turbulent waters.
The presumption that certain organs are useless vestigial leftovers from the evolutionary process has led to a casual attitude toward medical removal or destruction of a number of human structures, including tonsils, the thymus gland, and the appendix. In this case, the evolutionary vestigial presumption has led people to handicap hatchery fish.
Last week we referenced a Wildlife Society bulletin about the American Fisheries Society’s and the Wildlife Society’s staunch pro-evolutionary positions. These societies consider acceptance of evolution to be essential for intelligent wildlife management. Here, however, the acceptance of an evolutionary precept has spawned a practice that probably decreases the successful return of hatchery salmon. A policy based on a creationist understanding that even mystery organs were designed with a purpose would have given the lowly adipose fin the benefit of the doubt and probably brought a higher percentage of the salmon home to spawn.
Closing in on the K-T boundary.
Evolutionary scientists for three decades have debated about the asteroid hypothesis of dinosaur extinction. Even those evolutionists who subscribe to the popular asteroid idea have difficulty explaining the lack of dinosaur fossils immediately below the K-T boundary. A dinosaur fossil found in Montana’s Hell Creek Formation by Yale paleontologist Tyler Lyson just 13 cm below the boundary is “the closest bone to the boundary” yet found.
The Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary is thought by asteroid proponents to contain sediment deposited after an asteroid’s impact. The gap between dinosaur fossils and the boundary suggests to other evolutionists that the dinosaurs were extinct long before the asteroid collision. But Lyson says, “Here we have a specimen that basically goes right up to the boundary, indicating that at least some dinosaurs were doing fine.”
Numerous causes for dinosaur extinction have been proposed. Some have suggested gradual extinction. Others argue for a catastrophic cause. Worldwide atmospheric dust blocking sunlight in the aftermath of asteroid collision is one such scenario. Widespread volcanism is another suggested scenario that could have blocked sunlight needed to maintain the food supply for herbivores.
The K-T boundary marks a so-called “mass extinction event.” Fossils of many species are virtually absent in layers above the boundary. Not only do dinosaur fossils end at the K-T boundary, but also fossils of many plants and marine reptiles. The evolutionary timescale suggests the K-T boundary extinction occurred 65 million years ago.
When the asteroid extinction hypothesis was first proposed, the nearest dinosaur fossils were 3 meters (over 9 feet) below. Since that depth represented 100,000 years on the evolutionary timescale, it seemed dinosaurs were long dead before the fateful asteroid left its crater in the Yucatan Peninsula. About two decades ago, dinosaur fossils were found at 60 cm and 37 cm below the boundary. This latest find is the closest to date.
Many evolutionary scientists disagree with Lyson’s interpretation of the find as strong support for the asteroid hypothesis. “Sadly, it is only one bone,” says soil scientist Gregory Retallack, pointing out that gradual extinction would have allowed a few dinosaur bones near the boundary. Biologist J. David Archibald adds, “Finding one fragment of dinosaur [does not] suddenly make this gap go away; ... the gap is real.”
Proponents of the asteroid hypothesis believe a layer of iridium at the K-T boundary came from the asteroid and spread all over the world. Evolutionary geologists believe the iridium came from space because they believe any iridium on earth should have sunk in our molten planet millions of years before the K-T layer was formed.
There is, however, too much iridium to attribute to the asteroid. The dust from asteroid impact would not spread very far. Volcanoes, on the other hand, produce iridium and do tend spread their dust clouds worldwide.
So how do creation scientists explain the disappearance of dinosaurs from the fossil record above the Cretaceous layer? Global Flood geology explains the fossil layers in the geologic column. Many dinosaur footprints and body fossils are found in and below the Cretaceous layer. As the Flood waters rose, animals would have naturally sought higher ground. Footprints, often in patterns typical of uphill climbing, memorialize many animals’ final efforts to flee the rising waters. Ultimately, even the larger dinosaurs were overwhelmed and buried.
Rock layers above the Cretaceous are consistent with findings expected in the waning half of the Flood year and the post-Flood time. Fossils there include mammals and birds as well as reptiles and amphibians. These mobile animals would have been the last ones overwhelmed and buried.
And what of the iridium deposits? Since widespread volcanism would have been associated with the Flood, Flood geology also explains the iridium deposition and explains it better than the asteroid hypothesis does.
Thus, even though dinosaur discoveries are closing in on the K-T boundary, evolutionary scientists disagree on their interpretation of the facts. The evidence is consistent with the biblical Flood model. The catastrophic cause of mass extinction of most of the dinosaur population was the global Flood. Those descended from the ones which got off the Ark eventually succumbed to the same sorts of pressures which cause extinction in animal populations today.
Tiktaalik tries again.
Despite substantial differences between the fossilized fish Tiktaalik and terrestrial tetrapods, many evolutionists insist the fish was a transitional form. Biologists Neil Shubin and Igor Schneider have swapped genes which regulate limb and fin development between living fish and mice. They conclude that their success demonstrates Tiktaalik evolved genes for legs 400 million years ago.
Believing the lobe-finned Tiktaalik became extinct 400 million years before its descendents crawled across the land on all fours, many evolutionists maintain its fins were antecedents to legs. However, the fleshy fins of Tiktaalik do not attach to the bony pelvis and so could not support weight for walking.
Furthermore, the bones in the fins of these fossil fish do not resemble digits. In Nature, evolutionist fish experts Ahlberg and Clack pointed out that “although these small distal bones bear some resemblance to tetrapod digits in terms of their function and range of movement, they are still very much components of a fin. There remains a large morphological gap between them and digits. . . .If the digits evolved from these distal bones, the process must have involved considerable developmental rearranging.”2
The current research seeks to get around the obvious problems with the fishy identity of Tiktaalik by experimenting with the regulatory genes of various animals to see if they are interchangeable. They exchanged genes which control limb and fin development between chickens, mice, frogs, zebrafish, and skate. In the mice, fish regulators were able to switch on limb development. And in fish, mice regulators were able to turn on fin development. The team concluded that a common ancestor from Tiktaalik’s time evolved the needed genes for limb development and passed them down through the ages.
“These sequences function in these organisms despite 400 million years of separation,” Schneider said. “The homologies that are perhaps not evident by morphology -- just comparing a hand and a fin -- can be traced back to the genome, where you find that the regulatory regions that control the making of those structures are actually present and shared between these organisms.”
The experiment involved genes (like Hox genes), which are master switches controlling development of certain features. Such genes control other genes. Some gene regulators work across species lines, but that does not prove evolution happened. Since all kinds of organisms and all genetic chemistry were designed by the same God, we should not find this compatibility surprising.
Furthermore, genetic experiments on living fish cannot tell us anything conclusive about the genomes of extinct fish. The “Darwin fish” still doesn’t have a leg to stand on, physically, homologically, or genetically.
The RNA-way from molecules-to-man remains mired by its complete lack of information.
Two studies from Germany have proposed ways RNA could have been the link between inanimate molecules and living microbes. Benedikt Obermayer’s Munich group has reported a computer simulation of “prebiotic RNA” in Physical Review Letters. Christopher Deck and colleagues from Stuttgart reported their work synthesizing RNA in Nature Chemistry. Both groups are trying to demonstrate how RNA molecules could have built and replicated themselves to transmit useful information.
The mystery of abiogenesis—getting life from non-life—is a major hurdle for evolution. Abiogenesis violates a basic principle of biology. Since living cells need both proteins and DNA to function and reproduce, evolutionary theorists have struggled with the problem of how one could have evolved without the other. RNA is an intermediary-of-sorts between DNA and proteins (able to carry out some enzymatic function and to transmit information), so the “RNA world hypothesis” paints a scenario in which the earliest life forms would have only required RNA. The discovery of bits of self-replicating RNA increased the popularity of the RNA world.
Efforts to synthesize self-replicating RNA strands long3 and varied enough to actually encode for a functional biochemical molecule have been unsuccessful. The Stuttgart group decided to immobilize an 8-base-strand of RNA and surround it with chemically-activated nucleotides and “micro-helper” pieces of RNA. They hoped such immobilized RNA strands would lengthen. Some RNA chains added 4 bases. Some, however, failed to copy correctly. Twelve bases is not long enough to code for functional molecules, but Deck considers the work a success. The group suggests that early life forms may have gotten by with simpler molecules. And although the experiment required pinning down the RNA starter strand with a bit of DNA, the group proposes early RNA got “adsorbed and immobilized on surfaces billions of years ago.”
The Munich group didn’t actually grow any RNA. They performed a computer simulation proposing a “natural” hydrothermal “RNA reactor” (i.e. porous rocks on the sea floor where nucleotides can accumulate in the pores and be exposed to strong temperature gradients) in which aggregates of nucleotides can randomly bond to build RNA. During normal transcription of RNA, only certain nucleotide pairings are stable. Therefore, in this computer-simulated reactor, randomly generated bits of RNA hybridized by matching up properly with other bits of RNA, thereby outlasting improperly paired molecules.
“Hybridization simultaneously protects a sequence motif and its complement from degradation,” Ulrich Gerland explained. “Thereby, it extends not only the lifetime of the sequence motif, but also the lifetime of its complement, which in turn can protect other copies of the sequence motif after dissociation.”
“This constitutes a form of information transmission between molecules, since it can conserve the information in the sequence motif beyond the lifetime of a single molecule,” Gerland concludes. “We show that a combination of simple physico-chemical mechanisms can greatly facilitate the spontaneous emergence of a prebiotic evolutionary system, such as envisaged by the RNA world.” (emphasis ours)
In both studies, a way was being sought to cobble together enough nucleotides to code for something useful and to self-replicate that information. Both took advantage of the ordinary rules of chemistry in which the likelihood of a reaction happening is increased if the molecules collide with each other more often. Even if the Stuttgart experiment with real molecules had been as successful as the computer simulation, the RNA sequence actually codes for nothing.
The Munich group claims information was preserved, but no information existed. Only copies of nonsensical random RNA sequences were preserved. Genuine information must have meaning. The genetic code in a cell is information because it can be translated into something useful, each section of the genome acting as a code to assemble proteins or to regulate those processes. Random sequences of RNA may outlast other random sequences, but they still hold no information. The law of biogenesis remains as much an obstacle to evolution as ever.
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