Always prepared to give an answer
The innovations that Steve Jobs's creativity and determination have brought into this millennium abound. His recent death at 56 called to mind his 2005 speech when he said, “Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”1
He said that since age 17 he’d resolved to live every day as if it were his last, and energized by that thought he provided creative answers to many of our technological needs.
Yet, according to Steve, when he was 13, the church failed to give him answers he needed, and he chose to walk away from Christianity. According to Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson’s biography (which was to have been titled iSteve), Steve’s parents were
. . . not fervent about their faith [but] wanted him to have a religious upbringing, so they took him to the Lutheran church most Sundays. That came to an end when he was thirteen. In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor. . . . “Does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?” [The pastor answered,] “Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.” Jobs announced that he didn’t want to have anything to do with worshipping such a God, and he never went back to church.2
According to the biography’s description, the Steve Jobs “tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.”3 It describes him as the “ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination.”3 He has given the world much. But the failure of religion to give him the Bible’s answers to his questions robbed him by closing his eyes to the greatest gift available to him.
While we enjoy the legacy of innovations4 Steve Jobs has left us, we Christians should be mindful of the warning his experience as a thirteen year old has also left. Like so many described in AiG’s book Already Gone Chapter 2: Sunday School Syndrome, Steve did not get the answers to the questions troubling his heart and so walked away from God.
We obviously do not know what Steve Jobs would have decided if he’d been given the answers the Bible provides about death and suffering. God created a perfect world where people could have lived forever with no death and no suffering. Yet Adam and Eve decided to make their own rules and reject their Creator’s authority and love. Their disobedience brought death and suffering into the world. All of creation was cursed because of their sin, and all of us display the same sinful nature they did. God didn’t start the suffering, but He stepped into this world as Jesus Christ to experience the fullness of it, to pay the price for man’s sin, and to make a way to put an end to death.
We wish Steve had been given this answer. Later he expressed admiration for “living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it.”2 Jesus Christ loved children. And Jesus died to put an end to death and suffering. If Steve had been introduced to the Creator in such a way as to understand where suffering came from and then gotten to know the Jesus of the Bible, perhaps he’d have made a different decision.
God expects us all to study the Bible’s answers to questions people like young Steve Jobs asked that Sunday. 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts us to always be prepared to give answers. We never know when the person we’re talking to—child, teenager, or adult—is asking the crucial question, the question that is the last straw for him, the question that can direct his mind to consider the claims of Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers or that can turn him away forever. Our answers need to be powerful, genuine, loving, and—above all—biblical.
Robots arbitrate the flight debate.
Tiny ground-based six-legged reconnaissance robots have trouble scrambling over inclines and obstacles, so Berkeley engineers Ronald Fearing and Kevin Peterson have been working on “a hybrid locomotion mode, where flapping wings and legs combine to propel the robot.” Not content with peeking into the future, the engineers decided to team up with paleobiologist Robert Dudley for a peek into the past.
Evolutionists believe dinosaurs evolved into birds but are a little fuzzy about how primitive wings were used before bird ancestors evolved the ability to fly. The “trees-down” camp believes winged ancestors in trees glided down until they evolved true flight capability. The “ground-up” contingent opts for a flap-running scenario by which animals would use their wings to assist with climbing until they evolved enough speed for lift-off.
Dudley and the engineers put their winged and unwinged robots through a host of athletic scenarios while filming and measuring their performance. The robots ran on a level floor and up hills. They ran with and without flapping. And they glided from on high.
Flapping their wings helped in every event. Flapping significantly improved gliding performance. But although flapping robots were able to run 90% faster, they couldn’t achieve the 400% increase in speed required to generate lift. Therefore, Peterson says, “This result lends indirect support to the theory that avian flight evolved from tree-dwelling animals and not from land animals that required ground-based running takeoffs.”
Energy-saving flap-running5 is often seen in baby birds learning to fly and in adult birds—even flightless ones—running uphill. These robotic simulations confirm flapping helps with gliding, running, and climbing. Published in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, the results show how engineers use biomimicry—copying God’s designs—to build better robots. But the results do not demonstrate that animals evolved the ability to fly, much less how they could acquire de novo genetic information to grow wings.
God created birds on the fifth day of Creation week, fully fitted with wings. They did not have to evolve feathers, wings, or the ability to fly. These robots may have shown one hypothetical scenario more feasible than another, but neither is possible at all since animal kinds do not acquire the information to evolve into other kinds of animals. Birds have no reptilian ancestor but were created by God to reproduce after their kinds.
Move over, mass extinction meteorite, says new model.
The meteorite that created the Chicxulub crater in Mexico—the meteorite popularly supposed to have caused dinosaur extinction—mighty as it was, wasn’t nearly mighty enough. So say Princeton researchers in the October issue of Geophysical Journal International.
Those who suggest the Mexican meteorite triggered events resulting in mass extinctions presume the meteorite caused catastrophes such as sun-blocking seismic fallout and unprecedented volcanic activity. The models supporting this scenario, however, were not based on a realistic model of the earth.
Princeton researchers have developed a model that includes the earth’s elliptical shape, irregular surface, interior features, and oceans. These irregularities would dampen and distort seismic waves generated by meteorite impact. On a smooth spherical earth, the waves would converge on the opposite side at the antipodal point and combine their energy in a terrific volcanic upheaval. The realistic model, however, reveals seismic waves would not only fail to converge at the previously predicted Deccan area of India but also would not combine to produce a catastrophe of the epic proportions required to wipe out life on the planet.
Lead author Matthias Meschede explains, “The surface features of a planet or a moon have a huge effect on the aftershock a large meteorite will have, so it's extremely important to take those into account. After a meteorite impact, seismic waves travel outward across the Earth's surface like after a stone is thrown in water. These waves travel all the way around the globe and meet in a single point on the opposite side. . . . Our model shows that because the Earth is elliptical and its surface is heterogeneous those waves travel with different speeds in different areas, changing where the waves end up on the other side of the world and the waves' amplitude when they get there. These waves also are influenced by the interior.”
In contrast, “On the spherical model, all the waves come together at exactly one point and, as a result, have a huge amplitude. We found the waves are disturbed by surface features and take on a more ragged structure, meaning less energy is concentrated at the antipode.”
“Regarding the mass extinction,” Meschede adds, “we saw from our measurements that a Chicxulub-sized impact alone would be too small to cause such a large volcanic eruption as what occurred at the Deccan Traps. Our model shows that the antipodal focusing of the seismic wave from such an impact was hugely overestimated in previous calculations, which used a spherical-Earth model.”
The idea of a meteoric mass extinction event at the K-T boundary has other scientific problems as well. (See links below.) Biblically we need to realize that layers of fossils in the geologic column represent Flood-related rapid burials,6 not a timeline of extinctions and evolutionary history. Billions of creatures were buried during the Flood, including many dinosaurs. But the dinosaurs, like all other air-breathing animals, were represented among the creatures carried on Noah’s Ark. Following the Flood, some animals, including dinosaurs, eventually became extinct. We do not need a meteorite to explain the dinosaur extinction.
The Bible explains the fossil record where the meteorite fails to measure up. This bit of Princeton research thus confirms the supposition that the Chicxulub meteorite triggered mass extinction of terrestrial life is insupportable scientifically. We already knew it was insupportable biblically.
Sperm, or no sperm? That was the question.
When both a copperhead and an eastern diamond-back rattlesnake gave birth after five years of celibacy, Warren Booth and Gordon Schuett decided to do some DNA detective work. Their surprising findings, published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, reveal some sneaky reproductive strategies.
Each snake had been in captivity for five years with no opportunity to mate. Both were juveniles when captured. By analyzing the DNA of the snakes and their offspring, the researchers discovered the two snakes had reproduced using entirely different strategies.
DNA analysis of the rattlesnake and her offspring demonstrated sperm were involved in their conception.
The researchers report that this is “the first genetically confirmed case of long-term sperm storage (LTSS) of exceptional duration (5 years) in the eastern diamond-backed rattlesnake.”7
The copperhead offspring, however, had no DNA evidence of genetic input from a father. Thus, the copperhead had reproduced using parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis is self-cloning. Organisms able to clone themselves are common among plants and invertebrates, and more than 80 have been discovered among fish, amphibians, and reptiles.8 Parthenogenesis has been observed in the komodo dragon, sharks, turkeys,7 and a boa constrictor.
“Mating opportunities may be rare in many species,” Booth said. It therefore makes sense “for a species to have solved this problem through the evolution of mechanisms by which mating can occur when the opportunity arises and the spermatozoa stored until needed. . . . Instead of wasting eggs, which are costly to produce and a finite resource, parthenogenesis may represent an alternate means of reproduction to overcome this.” The pit vipers are apparently “particularly well-adapted to insuring the production of offspring when conditions may be adverse.” Furthermore, “With the availability of DNA fingerprinting technologies, we are now becoming aware that the process of parthenogenesis is in fact more common than we ever imagined.”
The researchers write, “In light of these recent findings it appears that parthenogenesis may, in fact, be an important aspect of vertebrate evolution and not the evolutionary novelty it was once considered.” Facultative parthenogenesis (FP, the ability to self-clone as an option) has never been “documented in naturally occurring populations; thus, the evolutionary significance of FP will not be fully realized until reproductive competence can be demonstrated under natural conditions. Presumably in nature, . . . parthenogenesis would represent an evolutionary mechanism promoting population establishment and survival when females become isolated from mates. . . . To understand the circumstances in which FP might be adaptive, we need to know how often a female is in a situation where the small reproductive benefit” would outweigh the loss of genetic diversity.9
Because cloning reduces genetic diversity, many have viewed it as an evolutionary dead end. Given the prevalence of this mode of reproduction, however, both evolutionists and creationists see this reproductive option as a useful adaptation to adverse conditions where survival of a species is a more pressing need than maintenance of genetic variability. Yet nothing evolutionary has been demonstrated here. No new kinds of creatures were being produced. Instead, existing species simply revealed an arsenal of reproductive options to facilitate survival.
God evidently created certain creatures with the ability to reproduce in the absence of males. This ability would keep their populations alive during unfavorable times. Although no mechanism for making the switch to cloning is demonstrated in this study, a mechanism by which cloning ability is enabled has been elucidated in a salamander population.10
Biblically it is easy to understand that God would equip the creatures He made with a variety of strategies to maintain their populations while they reproduce after their kinds.
Oceanic chromium pins down date for the Great Oxidation Event.
What’s the connection between fool’s gold and the bottom of the sea? University of Alberta’s Kurt Konhauser and colleagues have found a dramatic increase in chromium concentrations above the Archaean-Paleoproterozoic boundary. They attribute this increase to a chain of geochemical and biological events ultimately requiring aerobic bacteria to have evolved 2.48 to 2.32 billion years ago, 100 million years earlier than previously thought.11
Chromium does not easily dissolve, and the investigators say a very low pH was required to leach chromium from land. They assume all chromium found in oceanic sediments came from terrestrial run-off.12 The only mechanism by which the early earth could achieve a sufficiently acidic environment to dissolve chromium, they say, depends on the oxidation of iron pyrite by aerobic chemolithoautotrophic bacteria.
Konhauser explains, “The jump in chromium levels was triggered by the oxidation of the mineral pyrite (fool's gold) on land. Aerobic bacteria broke down the pyrite, which released acid that dissolved rocks and soils into a cocktail of metals, including chromium. The minerals were then carried to the oceans by the run-off of rain water. Our examination of the ancient seabed data shows the chromium levels increased significantly 2.48 billion years ago. This gives us a new date for the Great Oxidation Event, the time when the atmosphere first had oxygen.”11
The mineral-eating bacteria require oxygen to live. Therefore, the investigators are certain that primitive oxygen-producing cyanobacteria had already evolved and filled the earth with oxygen by the time the high-chromium layers were deposited.
Co-investigator Mark Barley explains, “We live in a unique environment and Earth is the only planet we know that has an oxygen-rich atmosphere . . . vital for complex life. But the Earth's early atmosphere was oxygen-poor in the Archaean prior to the Great Oxidation Event, which happened between 2.5 and 2.3 billion years ago, so it's vital that we understand how oxygen rose. . . . We think we've resolved a major debate about when the bacteria that produced oxygen existed and how long it took for oxygen levels to rise enough to support growth of life.”
Barley further explains that there is no undisputed microfossil evidence of cyanobacteria in rock before the 2.3–2.5 billion year mark. However, he’s certain they must have evolved by 2.7 billion years ago to produce the oxygen required by the pyrite-eating bacteria.
The investigators see this method as a circuitous way to track the early “rise of atmospheric oxygen.”12 They write, “The evolution and activity of microbes is intimately linked with the redox evolution of the Earth’s surface, but as demonstrated here, sometimes in unexpected ways.”12
Writing that when Paleoproterozoic layers were deposited, “Cr was solubilized at a scale unrivalled in history,”13 the investigators are noting some sort of dramatic change happened at that time. There are many assumptions underlying their interpretation of the data. They accept the extreme age of these deep rock layers derived from radiometric dating based on unverifiable assumptions.14
They also assume the early earth was anoxic because biochemical building blocks of life could not form while exposed to oxygen. (See The First Atmosphere—Geological Evidences and Their Implications for information about this anoxic notion.) Yet in order for life to then evolve, they must assume that photosynthetic bacteria (cyanobacteria) evolved and produced an oxygen supply to support life.
In addition to making these untestable assumptions, the investigators ignore some data. They discount data from rocks near Greenland wherein high chromium content was found in the deeper rock layers dated at 3.7–3.8 billion years. They assume there was contamination by detritus from the land because they cannot imagine how oxygen-producing bacteria could have evolved so very early, so close to the time evolutionists postulate asteroids bombarded the earth and boiled away whatever oxygen might have been around.15 They also ignore data in which high chromium concentrations are found in deep layers (2.7–2.8 billion years) near undersea volcanic chains, assuming volcanic activity supplied the chromium. They ignore whatever data violates their presuppositions about the timing of events on the early earth.
The Archaean rock layers are believed by many creationist geologists to have been formed early in the Creation week and the Paleoproterozoic about mid-week. Though we cannot be dogmatic about the exact correlation of these layers with the days of Creation week, the absence of fossils in them (other than microfossils in the Paleoproterozoic layers) is consistent with pre-Flood deposition. Explaining a change in mineral composition of succeeding layers does not require evolution of an oxygen-producing life form to supply an oxygen-requiring mineral-crunching life-form that digests enough rock to wash chromium into the sea.
When we consider the dynamic changes taking place as God created the earth and its atmosphere during the first two days of Creation week and dry land (and plants) on the third, a redistribution of the minerals and chemicals within these materials makes sense. Within the biblical creation framework, a “jump in chromium levels” in a particular layer would merely be a consequence of this redistribution. Volcanic material and detritus, for instance, such as that the investigators thought invalidated some of their samples, could have supplied the chromium in the layers they focused on. The Archaean-Paleoproterozoic layers are not a timeline of events occurring billions of years ago, but rather a snapshot of events occurring primarily during Creation Week about 6,000 years ago.
Furthermore, the Bible tells us that God created the early earth as a paradise for the life forms He put on it, especially Adam and Eve. The Great Oxidation Event was not a gradual filling of an otherwise poisonous atmosphere with oxygen by cyanobacteria, but rather the rapid production of an atmosphere able to sustain life in response to God’s words, “Let there be . . . .” Read more about the biblical interpretation of the rock layers, both those laid down in Creation Week and later during the Flood, in Dr. Andrew Snelling’s book Earth’s Catastrophic Past.
Last week we reported a headline distressing to those who believe dinosaurs and humans never lived at the same time. The headline, “World’s Only Evidence of co-existing Humans, Dinosaur Tracks Found in China,” appeared in the English version of the Chinese Academy of Sciences newsletter. One of the researchers, saying the headline was causing a “nasty mess,” petitioned to have the title changed. The Chinese newsletter has now re-titled the article “Evidence of Human Interest in Dinosaur Tracks Found in China.”
We pointed out that to date there has been no indisputable evidence of fossils or tracks of humans and dinosaurs together. This statement generated questions from readers concerning the findings at Paluxy River. Creationists including some from Answers in Genesis have investigated the Paluxy River fossils in light of the claims made by some. Given the ambiguity of the evidence, we do not believe those claims are wholly supportable. This is discussed in several articles on ICR’s and our website:
Our certainty that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time comes not from the fossil record—where we actually do not expect to find it—but from the biblical record. Read more about it at Why Don’t We Find Human & Dinosaur Fossils Together?
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