1. MSNBC: “‘Oldest bird’ knocked off its perch

It’s a bird … It’s a dinosaur … It’s a ???

For over a century evolutionists have intermittently speculated that birds evolved from dinosaurs. The current wave of dino-bird popularity continues as evolutionary paleontologists strain to see feathers in dinosaur fossils. Particularly popular members of the “feathered dinosaur” club often surface in China’s Liaoning Province. Xiaotingia zhengi—the latest so-called feathered fossil in Liaoning—is providing a creative way to draft the Archaeopteryx into the deinonychosaurian part of the dinosaur family.

No one can be certain where the Xiaotingia zhengi specimen came from “because it was purchased from a dealer, but all indications are that it comes from the Tiaojishan Formation, which dates from the Late Jurassic, some 155 million years ago,” according to Ohio University’s Dr. Lawrence Witmer.1 Paleontologist Xing Xu describes the fossil as “a new Archaeopteryx-like theropod.” Xu describes the fossil as having “faint feather impressions” and “some faint integumentary impressions,” adding, “Unfortunately, the feathers are too poorly preserved for details of their structure to be apparent.”2 The paper does not describe or picture any distinctive feather characteristics such as rachis and barbs.

Archaeopteryx is a fossilized extinct bird with exquisitely developed real feathers identical in preserved microscopic details to those of extant birds. Some evolutionists insist the Archaeopteryx is a transitional form because it had teeth, fingers on its wings, and a long tail. However, these features occur in other extinct or living birds. Evolutionary paleontologists assign it an age of about 150 million years. Though Archaeopteryx has long been the object of a tug-of-war between the dinosaur-camp and bird-camp, it is now commonly accepted as a bird. (Yet, many evolutionists3 claim that birds are dinosaurs anyway.)

Along comes the latest Chinese feathered dinosaur: Xiaotingia zhengi. Paleontologist Xing Xu’s team added Xiaotingia’s skeletal measurements (like long robust forelimbs) to “a computer database with measurements from 89 fossilized dinosaur and bird species, including Archaeopteryx.” Computer analysis had previously classified the Archaeopteryx “on the evolutionary line leading to modern-day birds.” When the Xiaotingia’s measurements were factored in, the computer decided the Archaeopteryx was a dinosaur after all.

But even the researchers admit, “Our phylogenetic hypothesis is only weakly supported by the available data.”4 They hasten to add that they would expect the distinctions to be fuzzy because they’re dealing with creatures similar to the common ancestor of birds and dinosaurs. In other words, the hypothetical common ancestor is assumed to have characteristics present in all its presumed descendants.

The ploy here is clear: if you can’t find a dinosaur with indisputably feathery feathers, recruit a bird by reclassifying it as a dinosaur. There are a host of problems in the evolutionary dinosaur-to-bird scenario. Respiratory systems, body aerodynamics, finger embryology, and the complexities of the feather compared to scales present irreducible complexities for the evolutionary paradigm. Evolutionists keep finding little bits of “dino-fuzz” on fossils, which other evolutionists believe are just fossilized collagen filaments. But if they can convince people that Archaeopteryx is a bona-fide dinosaur and not a bird, then they can stop hunting for a good example of a feathered dinosaur, having adopted one into the family.

How very convenient that the measurements of some bones suddenly tipped the classification scheme—which cannot reasonably get around the other dino-bird difficulties—into the very conclusion evolutionists have needed for decades. And as we have said before, even if a real feathered dinosaur were found, it would not be an evolving transitional form but only a demonstration that our human-designed classification schemes need revision.

For more information:

2. CNN: “Is ‘Christian fundamentalist’ label correct for Norway terror suspect?” and Religion Dispatches: Is Norway’s Suspected Murderer Anders Breivik a Christian Terrorist?

Norwegian terror suspect’s call for an armed crusade by “cultural Christendom” creates confusion in early news reports.

Anders Behring Breivik has been arrested for last week’s terrorist attacks in Norway. A car bombing in Oslo and a shooting spree at a political youth rally have resulted in at least 76 deaths. Initial reports suggested the self-confessed terrorist was a “right-wing Christian fundamentalist.” Closer examination of the suspect’s own words in a video, as well as a 1500-page online manifesto attributed to him, have revealed that Breivik’s beliefs and stated motivations have nothing to do with biblical Christianity or Christian faith and practice.

Breivik began reading from his manifesto, 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, during his court appearance. The lengthy document calls for a crusade by resurgent Knights Templars to rid Europe of Islamic people, “cultural Marxists,” and those who promote multiculturalism. Any member of his crusading group, he says, “must be a Christian, Christian agnostic or a Christian atheist” (page 834).

So how does Breivik define Christianity? We do not have to guess. On pages 1307–1308 of his manifesto, he wrote the following:

3.139 Distinguishing between cultural Christendom and religious Christendom – reforming our suicidal Church

A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians?

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.

Breivik’s manifesto rants on with hundreds of pages of hate-filled language against Islamic people. He declares it the duty of all indigenous Europeans to rise up to defend Christendom against Islamic encroachment and against governments that promote a multicultural society. The “2083” in the title of his manifesto celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Battle of Vienna, which “broke the advance of the [Islamic] Ottoman Empire into Europe” (page 235). By 2083 he expects to overthrow “Western European cultural Marxist/multiculturalist regimes” (page 811) and remove all Islamic people from Europe. Any non-Muslim is invited to join his cause.

Breivik considers non-Muslim agnostics and atheists to be part of the Christian culture of Europe. He only suggests that atheists consider making some sort of peace with God in order to strengthen themselves for the heat of battle. “There are no atheists in foxholes,” (page 1341) he says. Of himself, he says, “I’m not going to pretend I’m a very religious person as that would be a lie. I’ve always been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular surroundings and environment” (page 1344). Yet he plans to call on God when things get scary.

Breivik quotes numerous Bible verses completely out of context in an effort to recruit God for his cause. He likewise quotes liberally from Thomas Jefferson to justify his violent revolution. For instance, “As Thomas Jefferson said ‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants’” (page 319) appears in his call to arms more than once. As Craig Parshall of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) points out, Breivik actually refers to Jefferson more often than he refers to Jesus! “Linking Breivik to anything Christian therefore makes as little sense as saying that the mass murderer was motivated by Jeffersonian democracy.” 5

When he refers to the “suicidal church,” Breivik is referring to a church foolishly committed to peace instead of violence. He states that the Protestant church served a temporary purpose but plainly claims that the Catholic church is the only true church. He further considers the church, not the Bible, to be the source of authority. He says, “Scripture was never intended to be the believer’s sole guide for all of faith and practice” (page 1132). Yet he demands that the church be a violent agent in his war on Islam, even calling for a return of indulgences for those who join his crusade.

In addition to grabbing inspiration from the institutional church of the Middle Ages that rejected key doctrines of the Bible and added to Scripture, Breivik declares, “It is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings” (page 1403). He uses Darwinism to attack “feminism,” saying, “Marriage is not a ‘conspiracy to oppress women’, it’s the reason why we’re here. And it’s not a religious thing, either. According to strict, atheist Darwinism, the purpose of life is to reproduce” (page 350). Breivik envisions a Europe in which “‘Logic’ and rationalist thought (a certain degree of national Darwinism) should be the fundament of our societies” (page 1386). On balance, however, Breivik does not take his inspiration from either evolutionism or true Christianity but rather grabs at any label he can to justify his xenophobic crusade.

He praises oriental cultures for their rejection of the multicultural philosophy. He believes modern Europe should follow their example to save itself from Islamic takeover. He says this:

European Christendom isn’t just about having a personal relationship with Jesus or God. It is so much more. Christendom is identity, moral, laws and codexes which has produced the greatest civilisation the world has ever witnessed. People better than the contemporary atheists have attempted to abolish Christendom and failed. (page 1341)

Then Breivik goes on to attack several famous atheists, including Richard Dawkins, saying, “He seeks to prove that mankind would be so much better off without any moral anchor, and without any moral judge except ourselves” (page 1341). Yet the violent philosophy Breivik promotes sets himself, not God as revealed in the Bible, as the moral compass for indigenous Europeans.

Many people claim Christianity has caused much hatred, intolerance, and war. They look back to the evils of the Crusades as an indictment of Christ for mass murder. Yet the Breivik case clearly illustrates the absurdity of allowing someone who does not espouse biblical Christianity to redefine Christianity. To the credit of CNN and many political spokespersons who have been interviewed, Breivik’s version of “Christianity” is now being publicly rejected. We hope that the public will be quick to discern the difference. Unfortunately, the “inference of a ‘Christian’ influence behind Breivik’s despicable acts”5 has already been created in the minds of many and the damage done.

Answers in Genesis is sometimes falsely accused of promoting hatred and intolerance. Yet the message we proclaim—that a loving Creator holds out the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ to the world—is not a message of hate but of love and hope. The Bible tells the true history of how God created the first man and woman and of mankind’s fall into rebellion. The horrible consequences of human rebellion against God have wrecked this world and doomed unrepentant ( Romans 6:23) people to eternity in hell. Nevertheless, God loves us (John 3:16) and sent Christ to pay the price for our rebellion. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, proclaimed the importance of God’s Word from the beginning when He declared, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46).

The ultimate hope for the people of Europe and for the world will never be found in the hate-filled purges called for by Breivik and those like him. But neither will salvation (Acts 4:12) be found in political solutions of any kind—including the multiculturalism Breivik despises.

Because God created all people, His Word does contain the history of what’s wrong with this world and the only true hope for all mankind. The Bible reveals that Christ is the only way (John 14:6) to God, but Christians are never told to hate and kill those who differ in their worldview. Instead, we are commanded to tell (Matthew 28:19-20) the world about God’s truth and God’s love—and that is exactly what Answers in Genesis does by taking a stand on the authority of Scripture from the very first verse.

For more information:

3. ScienceNOW: “Did Greenhouse Gases Unleash the Dinosaurs?

Global greenhouse gases: paving the way for dinosaurs or documenting the upheavals of the global Flood?

Mass extinctions are apparent in the fossil record wherever some sort of organism virtually disappears from the geologic column above a certain layer. One of the most well-known mass extinctions is the disappearance of the dinosaurs and a number of other organisms at the K-T (Cretaceous-Tertiary) boundary. Paleontologists continue to debate the “Yucatan asteroid” versus worldwide volcanism explanations for the K-T event. But what about other mass extinction events? What caused them? Greenhouse gases may offer some answers.

The “end-Triassic extinction,” dated by secular paleontologists at 201 million years ago, “wiped out half the known species on land and in the sea.” Evolutionists believe the elimination of competition from creatures like “the early relatives of the crocodiles” paved the way for the successful Jurassic evolution of dinosaurs. What they would like to know is what killed off those other species.

Geochronologists have dated rock formed by “massive outpourings of lava now strewn along the edges of the North Atlantic Ocean” and decided they coincide with the onset of the end-Triassic extinction. Therefore, assuming the volcanism had something to do with the extinction event, researchers have been searching for clues as to how volcanism and extinction are connected.

Now paleontologist Micha Ruhl of Utrecht University believes he’s found the answer. Ruhl has analyzed carbon isotope ratios in plant wax molecules from layers of marine sediment. The carbon isotope ratios shift dramatically at the end of the Triassic period. The change strongly suggests there was a massive outpouring of methane into the environment. The carbon from that methane would have eventually found its way into plants living at the time, leaving the isotope ratio preserved there.

The most obvious source of methane would be massive volcanism. But even with this “volcanic-greenhouse gas-extinction” connection, paleontologists continue to wonder just how this ancient global warming killed off so many species.

Let’s sort out the facts and the assumptions. First of all, knowing the assumptions underlying the radiometric dating of the rock layers cannot be proven, we can discount the 201-million-year date for the extinction. But regardless of the date, some sort of mass extinction event is documented above the Triassic layer in the geologic column.

The Flood geology model explains most of these mass extinctions as a result of massive upheavals during the global Flood. Large numbers of creatures were rapidly buried as their ability to flee the rising waters was overwhelmed. Thus the geologic column represents not a series of extinctions over evolutionary time but closely spaced mass extinctions and burials due to global Flood and local, early post-Flood catastrophes.

But what about Ruhl’s discovery that methane, probably from a volcanic source, was poured into the environment? In the original paper, the authors note the presence of additional toxic gases such as sulfur dioxide and comment, “Concurrent vegetation changes reflect strong warming and an enhanced hydrological cycle.”6 They specify that the “changes and extinctions directly coincide with the onset of this warming event” and suggest that the “massive carbon release” acidified the ocean, “leading to reduced marine ecosystem stability and extinctions.”7

Actually, the results of this research and the authors’ interpretation fit the Flood geology model quite nicely. At the beginning of the Flood and continuing for at least 150 days, massive volcanic activity occurred. Genesis 7:11 records that the “fountains of the great deep were broken up.” Methane released into the atmosphere would have ultimately been incorporated into the plants until they died. Those isotope ratios are actually evidence for the global Flood. The global Flood could certainly be characterized as a time of ecosystem instability resulting in deaths on a massive scale! Once again, what we see in God’s world is consistent with what we read in God’s Word.

For more information:

4. ScienceDaily: “Diamonds Pinpoint Start of Colliding Continents

Diamond data testifies to tectonic history—or does it?

Radiometric dating data on diamond impurities have been analyzed to shed light on the tectonic history which shaped the earth’s crust. The analysis of over 4,000 diamond inclusions, data collected over the past 25 years, is being interpreted to pinpoint the time when plate tectonics started.

Diamond formation requires certain conditions of temperature and pressure. The largest diamonds are formed below cratons (the stable ancient cores of the continents) in the upper mantle or in the cratons themselves at a depth of “more than 125 miles (200 km) where pressures are sufficiently high, but temperatures sufficiently low.” The diamond-hosting kimberlite and lamproite magmas must then be rapidly extruded to the surface in the pipe-like structures found in diamond mines.

Because diamonds are so hard, they protect any impurities they contain from contamination. Diamond inclusions are therefore considered by many geologists to be “unaltered, ancient minerals that can tell the story of Earth’s distant past.” That past includes the breakup of the earth’s crust that gave rise to the continents we see today.

“The Wilson cycle is responsible for the growth of the Earth’s continental crust, the continental structures we see today, the opening and closing of ocean basins through time, mountain building, and the distribution of ores and other materials in the crust. But when it all began has remained elusive until now,” explains Carnegie Institute’s Steven Shirey.

“We used the impurities, or inclusions, contained in diamonds, because they are perfect time capsules from great depth beneath the continents. They provide age and chemical information for a span of more than 3.5 billion years that includes the evolution of the atmosphere, the growth of the continental crust, and the beginning of plate tectonics.”

Examining radiometric data for two kinds of inclusions, peridotites and eclogites, the researchers found “that before 3.2 billion years ago, only diamonds with peridotitic compositions formed—whereas subsequent to 3 billion years ago, eclogitic diamonds dominated.”

Peridotite minerals are typically found in basalt lavas and therefore are associated with magma that has cooled. Eclogite, on the other hand, is a metamorphic rock formed when cooled and crystallized basalt magma is subsequently plunged back down into the mantle. The researchers therefore concluded that the younger eclogite marks the time of “the initial subduction of one tectonic plate under the deep mantle keel of another as continents began to collide on a scale similar to that of the supercontinent cycle today.” They therefore mark 3 billion years ago as the beginning of plate tectonics.

Regular readers of this column know we want them to review the unprovable assumptions on which the radiometric dating methods are based. But with diamonds in view, the testimony of radiometric inconsistencies and the problems with uniformitarian assumptions comes into sharp focus.

First of all, geologists who accept radiometric dating methods assert that diamonds formed 1 to 3.5 billion years ago. Carbon-14, because of its half-life, should not be detectable after 95,000 years at most. Yet carbon-14 is routinely detected in diamonds, yielding conventional ages of 55,000–60,000 years (uncorrected for assumptions about past radiocarbon production rates) and just 5,000 years when corrected. So how can three-billion-year-old inclusions be encased in diamonds which must have formed within the past 5,000 years? At least one of those dates must be wrong.

Furthermore, geologists agree that the volcanic rocks containing diamonds must have made a rapid ascent through the hot mantle to preserve the diamonds. A slow ascent, such as would occur during billions of years of uniformitarian geology, would cause the diamonds to deteriorate into graphite. Catastrophic geologic change was required to transport the diamonds formed in the heart of the earth safely to the diamond mines where we find them.

Now when in history do we find catastrophic geologic change? How about at the time of the global Flood? The Bible tells us that “the fountains of the great deep were broken up” (Genesis 7:11) as the Flood began. These catastrophic upheavals would have provided a way to bring diamond-containing material up rapidly from the depths of the earth.

The Flood geology model also explains the current research finding that some diamond inclusions are the type found in recrystallized magma, whereas others are the type of mineral produced when subduction of tectonic plates plunges crust back down into the earth’s hot mantle. If the plate tectonics which break and move the earth’s crust began their violent history at the time of the global Flood, then the diamonds containing peridotite probably formed before that time, whereas the diamonds containing eclogite likely formed after subduction began. Thus, within the Flood geology model, the two different times of diamond formation make sense. And the Flood geology model further explains from the Bible why the tectonic action started in the first place.

For more information:

Read more about catastrophic plate tectonics in chapter 87 of Dr. Andrew Snelling’s book, Earth’s Catastrophic Past. For more about the ways in which the Flood itself could affect radiometric dating methods, see chapter 105.

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Aneuploidy—an incorrect number of chromosomes—is the most common human genetic defect. It occurs in 1 of every 160 live births and many prenatal deaths. Consequences range from death and Down’s syndrome to many “less severe” manifestations such as Turner’s syndrome and even conditions without major consequences. Embryos being cultured for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) can be genetically screened, and those abnormal at three days are routinely discarded. Professor William Kearns of Johns Hopkins has found that many embryos with aneuploidy on day three will self-correct by day five. He says, “These results suggest that there is a dynamic process of genetic normalisation that occurs in the developing human embryo. It is likely that there is considerable cellular mosaicism in many cleavage stage embryos and that there are mechanisms in place that cause marginalisation of abnormal cells while allowing growth of normal cells.”8 We marvel that God even put in place a way for something as major as an incorrect number of chromosomes to correct itself.
  • An unusual mix of features on insect fossils from Brazil’s Crato formation has prompted scientists to designate a new insect order, Coxoplectoptera.9 (The Crato fossil graveyard is known for the exceptional insect fossils it contains. This Cretaceous collection is considered 120 million years old by secular paleontologists.) These extinct insects most closely resemble the mayfly, but unlike the mayfly, they were equipped to eat. They have forelegs resembling the praying mantis and wings like a dragonfly. Perhaps we should think of them like the platypus of the insect world: an animal designed with features we commonly associate with a variety of creatures. Yet the platypus is not a transitional form but a complex creature equipped for the unique aspects of its life, as was the Coxoplectoptera.
  • Everything is getting its genome sequenced these days! Coral has joined this group as Acropora digitifera’s genome has been reported by a group in Okinawa. 10 The researchers assume that the coral and other cnidarians (jellyfish, sea anemones, and hydras) share a common ancestor. On the basis of that assumption, cnidarian genomes were compared. Molecular clock calculations disagreed with calculations based on evolutionary assumptions about the fossil record. The molecular clock suggested the coral evolved 500 million years ago, but the “earliest” known coral fossils are dated only 250 million years ago. Both sets of calculations are based on certain assumptions: that evolution actually occurred, that a common ancestor really existed, and that the mutation rate needed to diverge genetically from the common ancestor can actually be known. In this case, the two sets of circular reasoning failed to land in the same place. Of more significance from an ecological standpoint, the 23,688 protein-coding genes identified did not include one for the manufacture of cysteine, making cysteine an essential amino acid for this coral. The coral’s symbiotic partnership with dinoflagellates supplies this need.

For more information: Get Answers


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Footnotes

  1. L. Witmer. 2011. “An icon knocked from its perch.” Nature 475:458. Back
  2. X. Xu et al. 2011. “An Archaeopteryx-like theropod from China and the origin of Avialae.” Nature 475: 466-467. Back
  3. For example, evolutionist Phil Currie wrote, “In fact, because birds are the direct descendents of theropods, they are technically classified as theropod dinosaurs. Therefore, there are more than 10,000 species of theropods alive today.” Quoted in M. Oard. “Did birds evolve from dinosaurs?” Journal of Creation 25(2) 2011. page 23. Back
  4. X. Xu et al. 2011. “An Archaeopteryx-like theropod from China and the origin of Avialae.” Nature 475: 467. Back
  5. Email newsletter from the National Religious Broadcasters, July 27, 2011, “Norway: Why Labels Matter,” Craig L. Parshall Back (1) Back (2)
  6. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6041/430.abstract Back
  7. All quotations from M. Ruhl et. al. 2011. “Atmospheric Carbon Injection Linked to End-Triassic Mass Extinction.” Science 333 no.6041: 431. Back
  8. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705071546.htm Back
  9. http://www.livescience.com/15100-insect-frakenstein-fossil-order-coxoplectoptera.html Back
  10. http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/07/scienceshot-coral-genome-reveals.html Back