1. Orion magazine: “Deep Intellect

The evolutionary drive to invertebrate intelligence

The octopus is a very intelligent invertebrate. Evolutionists assert intelligent apes are our near relations, but how do they explain octopus intelligence? “Researchers who study octopuses are convinced that these boneless, alien animals—creatures whose ancestors diverged from the lineage that would lead to ours roughly 500 to 700 million years ago—have developed intelligence, emotions, and individual personalities,” according to a recent feature in Orion Magazine. “Octopuses,” according to philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith, “are a separate experiment in the evolution of the mind.”

Octopuses use tools1 and solve complex puzzles developing individual strategies they remember and re-use later. They are renowned escape artists. Recently videos have appeared on-line showing octopuses crawling out onto land. Some are captioned with statements like “Octopus Crawls Out Of Water Walks On Land Adds Proof to Evolution” whereas others (see www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lom5kM4ytaI) simply demonstrate the purposefulness of this behavior without implying the creature is evolving toward terrestrial life.

Fossilized octopuses are rare, but those found are “almost indistinguishable from living species” or have fewer features.2 Evolutionary scientists speculate about how octopus and human eyes evolved remarkable similarities. Most evolutionists attribute this similarity to convergent evolution, not common ancestry.3 In fact, many evolutionists assert the human eye is poorly designed compared to the octopus eye, but recent studies have shown the human eye to be ideally suited for life in a terrestrial environment, able to provide the brain with the three dimensional information it needs because of its so-called design flaws.4

But what about intelligence? Jennifer Mather, lead author of the book Octopus: The Ocean’s Intelligent Invertebrate, believes the driving forces behind evolution of human and octopus intelligence differed. “The same thing that got them their smarts isn’t the same thing that got us our smarts,” she says, “because our two ancestors didn’t have any smarts” since “half a billion years ago, the brainiest thing on the planet had only a few neurons.” In fact, humans and octopuses don’t even keep their “neurons” in the same place: three-fifths of an octopus’s neurons are in its arms. A severed arm can seize food and pass it to where the mouth should be. Recent evidence suggests octopuses can sense color with their skin, though not with their eyes.

Many evolutionists believe human intelligence evolved in connection with social behavior. The octopus, however, has a very short lifespan and no social interaction. Although the octopus in captivity can develop preferences and dislikes for individual humans, when it interacts within its own species it generally mates and soon dies. Mather believes ancestral octopuses lost their protective shells and then had to get smart or die. Each predator required a different evasion tactic. Furthermore, loss of the shell, she believes, increased octopus mobility enabling it to become an efficient hunter. Each kind of prey required a different hunting strategy, so more intelligent creatures had a survival advantage.

But does any of this demonstrate evolution in the molecules-to-marine life-to mammals sense? No. God created the original kinds of sea creatures, including the octopus, on the fifth day of Creation week, each fully equipped for life and with enough genetic information to diversify into many varieties. Individuals best equipped to survive are able to reproduce after their kind. Thus, the more intelligent octopuses have likely survived, but God endowed them from the beginning with intelligence to live in the world He created and even to cope with the world He cursed because of man’s sin. God designed their eyes, their color-sensitive skin, their neurologically independent arms, and their intelligence to equip them for their habitat.

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2. LiveScience: “Why atheists celebrate Christmas

Survey of atheist scientists asks why they go to church

If Jesus is the reason for the season, why do some atheists include church in their celebration of the “winter holiday”? Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund surveyed science faculty from “elite U.S. research universities,” and found half of the 2,198 surveyed considered themselves religious. Her research has appeared in the journal Sociology of Religion and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Ecklund’s findings concerning atheist parents surprised her and should remind Christians and Christian churches of our responsibilities, especially at Christmas.

“Our research shows just how tightly linked religion and family are in U.S. society — so much so that even some of society's least religious people find religion to be important in their private lives,” said Ecklund.

Taking a closer look at a sample of atheists, Ecklund found 17 percent attend a religious service more than once a year. Religious institutions varied and included churches, mosques, and temples. Their reasons included the desire for a sense of community and the willingness to please a spouse. This finding is not surprising, as religious rituals divested of actual belief are not uncommon.

Ecklund was surprised, however, to find many atheist scientists took their children to religious services so they could “make up their own minds about God and spirituality.” “We thought that these individuals might be less inclined to introduce their children to religious traditions, but we found the exact opposite to be true,” Ecklund said. “They want their children to have choices, and it is more consistent with their science identity to expose their children to all sources of knowledge.”

For instance, one scientist surveyed rejected his own Catholic upbringing but takes his daughter to a smorgasbord of religious services including Christian, Islamic, and Buddhist. He said, “I … don't indoctrinate her that she should believe in God. I don't indoctrinate her into not believing in God.”

Some people are unconvinced truth actually exists and accept the fallacy that mutually exclusive things—like various choices for who is the one true God—can be simultaneously true. And many such people wish to raise their children without “forcing religion” on them, as if true belief could be forced on anyone.

But real choices require real information—real answers. Exposing children to a religious menu does not offer them a fair choice. Unfortunately, as detailed in Ken Ham’s co-authored book Already Gone, many churches fail to offer any more answers than an atheist parent conducting a tour of local religious establishments. When children and adults enter our Christian churches, they need to hear the Bible’s answers to life’s hard questions about sin and suffering and death. They need to be shown science and history are consistent with God’s Word. They need to understand why they should trust the Creator God of the Bible. If we fail to provide these answers, then we fail in our mission to reach the world for Jesus Christ because we fail to tell people why He came and died.

What about Christmas? Many people visit church only at a holiday. Amid the festivities and musical programs of the Christmas season, shame on us as Christians and as churches if we fail to explain why Jesus Christ came into this world. Christ was born into real history, and we should present that history so children and adults—even holiday visitors—will see how, from the time of Adam’s rebellion 6,000 years ago until Jesus was born in Bethlehem, God was preparing the world to receive—and crucify—His Son to pay the price for our sin. If we only tell visitors about the sweet babe in the manger and don’t tell them why He came to die and how each of us needs the salvation He offers, then we miss the opportunity of a lifetime. We may in fact miss the opportunity to influence someone’s life for all eternity. As Charles Dickens wrote in A Christmas Carol, “No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused.”

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3. Yahoo News: “Arabian Artifacts May Rewrite 'Out of Africa' Theory

Nubian wares scramble human evolutionary map again.

Evolutionists generally believe human beings in all their manifestations evolved in Africa and dispersed from there. However, “The route and timing of Homo sapiens exit(s) from Africa is the subject of considerable debate,”5 write the discoverers of ancient Nubian artifacts in Oman.

Many evolutionists believe our ancestors migrated along a northern route through the Levant to populate Eurasia. That belief is based on remains of ancient anatomically modern humans in Israel. But some mitochondrial DNA analyses favor a migratory history from southern Africa through Arabia to parts beyond.5 Until now, there has been no archaeological support for this southern route.

Archaeologist Jeffrey Rose and colleagues have now found hundreds of distinctive Nubian Middle Stone Age tools at several sites in Oman’s Dhofar Mountains on the Arabian peninsula. These match artifacts from the Nile Valley in style and apparent age. “The discovery . . . in Dhofar upholds this [southern route] model. The distribution . . . in the middle and lower Nile Valley, the Horn of Africa, Yemen, and now Dhofar provides a trail of diagnostic artifacts—stone breadcrumbs—spread across the southern dispersal tour out of Africa.”5

This distinctive method of chipping stone tools is strong evidence for a cultural connection between ancient Arabia and northeastern Africa. Due to the early dates obtained in both locations, the finding challenges the “current genetic data placing global human migration out of Africa perhaps 80,000 years ago,” and Rose suggests that instead of “out of Africa, we could be looking at ‘out of Arabia.’”6 No hominid fossils have been found at the Oman sites, but anthropologists associate Nubian tools with Homo sapiens. The Red Sea and the Arabian Desert would seem insurmountable barriers to primitives, but the researchers note that a lower sea level and a lusher climate probably facilitated migration.

Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of two samples of riverbed sediment where some Dhofar artifacts were buried yielded a date of 106,000 years. Similar Nubian artifacts from northeastern Africa have been dated using OSL, and the dates match. OSL is used to determine “the elapsed time since the dated quartz grains were last exposed to sunlight.”5 OSL assesses how much energy is stored in a mineral, assuming its electrons were excited by sunlight exposure in the past and trapped in crystalline imperfections. The energy it emits now when stimulated by laser light is compared to emissions from specimens obtained from the present environment. This ratio is used to estimate how long the mineral has been buried. The researchers say the samples were taken from “a homogenous layer [of sediment] that accumulated during a single, continuous phase of deposition.”5 In other words, they’re sure the riverbed sediment around the artifacts has been in the dark for 100,000 years.

Like other dating methods, OSL is based on unverifiable uniformitarian assumptions. Can we know a sample has truly been in the dark for thousands of years? Can we be sure no other factor such as heat or water exposure has altered the energy stored in it? Can we be certain the mineral’s sensitivity to energy has remained unchanged? It is impossible to know these conditions have been met. Furthermore, the overall method must be calibrated by comparison to other dating methods based on their own unverifiable assumptions. Thus, even though OSL of specimens from North Africa and Arabia produced similar results, the actual dates are drawn from assumptions stacked atop other assumptions, all unverifiable.

Discovery of matching Nubian artifacts in widely separate locations is, however, consistent with dispersion from the tower of Babel less than 4,300 years ago. After God confused languages at Babel, groups dispersed, each taking certain skills with it. The Arabian and African toolmakers may represent two groups with the same skills from Babel or one group that branched to settle in both places. Genomic mapping of people groups may suggest the ethnic background of people in a place but cannot actually tell how and when they got there.

The idea that Africa is the evolutionary cradle of humanity rests on the assumption that humans must have evolved from apelike ancestors somewhere. All human beings are genetically related, not by an evolutionary rise through a common apelike ancestor but by common descent from our common ancestors Adam and Eve. The Bible tells us God created Adam in His own image from the dust of the ground, not from animal ancestors. He did so the same day He made land animals. He created man and land animals about 6,000 years ago in the space of one day, not millions of years. There is no room for Christians to compromise on this point without disputing God’s own Word. All so-called scientific proof to the contrary—whether paleontological, genetic, linguistic, or archaeological—is based on assumptions about the unobservable past.

According to the Bible, Noah’s family disembarked from the Ark in the mountains of Ararat, and their descendants settled in the plain of Shinar, eventually dispersing from there. Genesis provides the eyewitness account of humanity’s geographical underpinnings. Only evolutionary insistence on an African evolutionary cradle puts their starting point in Africa.

4. NewScientist: “Watery secret of the dinosaur death pose

Dunking dead chickens delivers dinosaur death secret.

Dinosaur fossils—the complete ones, that is—typically are found with heads thrown back and tails arched upward. This position is so common in both large and small dinosaurs it has a name: the opisthotonic death posture. In an effort to explain what made these dinosaurs assume such a position, Alicia Cutler and colleagues at Brigham Young University devised an avian simulation.

Fresh and frozen chicken carcasses were laid out on dry sand for three months to see if muscle contractions would reproduce the posture. What Cutler got was some rotten chickens, but no contortions. However, dunking the dead birds in cool, fresh water caused immediate arching of the necks. Immersion for up to a month only slightly increased the arch, most of the contortion having occurred within seconds.

Cutler’s results, which she presented at the Las Vegas meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, contrast with a 2007 study that did not find any neck contortion in dead quails dunked in salt water. Those researchers suggested the opisthotonic posture resulted from dinosaur death throes.

Cutler comments, “Although the roads to the opisthotonic death pose are many, immersion in water is the simplest explanation.”

Cutler is correct in her assertion that immersion is the key to the mystery. While the jury remains out on whether a sudden dip of the dead and dying dinosaurs triggered opisthotonus or whether drowning death throes or yet some other mechanism was involved, the bulk of the fossil record resulted from the global Flood. Rapid burial required to achieve fossilization of creatures large and small was readily achieved due to the upheavals of water and sediment produced as the fountains of the great deep (Genesis 8:2) opened up. As dinosaurs were overwhelmed, like other creatures, many were buried rapidly and preserved as fossils. The Genesis record of the Flood explains how these dinosaurs came to be so suddenly and catastrophically immersed in water.

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5. LiveScience: “Oldest Hairy Microbe Fossils Discovered

From “snowball” to “snowball,” evolution experimented with modern microbes.

Microfossils are fairly hard to come by since most tiny microbes are quite fragile and disintegrate quickly when they die. By dissolving crushed rock in acid, MIT geobiologist Tanis Bosak and colleagues have found many microfossils in Cryogenian limestone from Namibia and Mongolia. According to evolutionists, this Precambrian rock is sandwiched between rock from two intensely icy “Snowball Earth” phases of our geo-history.

Foraminifera, amoeba, and ciliates were fossilized in limestone laid down, by evolutionary reckoning, between the “ice ages” of 635 million and 715 million years ago. Molecular clock calculations indicate their ancestral roots reach back more than a billion years. “Having found this, we know other things should have been there,” Bosak says, “possibly not leaving a fossil record. . . . This provides some hope that we can actually start looking at biological changes. There is a record of these changes, and that’s what we’re showing by finding these fossils.”7

Preservation was possible because all had protective armor. Foraminifera—both ancient and modern—glue mineral grains to themselves, building brick-like enclosures. The amoebas had similar armor. The ciliate fossils resemble modern planktonic tintinnids. Tintinnids have flask-shaped shells surrounded by buoyant bubbles. These microfossils, examined by scanning electron microscopy, are similar to modern forms even at the ultrastructural level.8 “We can't claim we have seen something that is exactly like the modern species,” Bosak says. “(But) here we have something that has looked very similar for 700 or more million years.”

Bosak considers these discoveries evolutionary change in action. The ancestors of these microbes survived the earlier “iceball earth” age by evolving protective shells, she believes. The evolved armor also explains how microbes survived the next severe ice age to live on as the “living fossils” we see today and to evolve into multicellular life forms. “Massive changes in biology and chemistry during this time led to the evolution of animals,” Bosak adds. “We don’t know how fast these changes occurred, and now we are finding evidence of an increase in complexity.”7 The next layers up in the geologic column, after all, contain fossils thought to be animal embryos.

These microbes not only provided genetic raw material for up-and-coming life-forms, Bosak believes, but also prepared earth for their advent by precipitating the Great Oxidation Event. The primordial forms presumably did this by dying and taking their organic compounds with them to the bottom of the sea. By burying much of earth’s carbon so it couldn’t be recycled into carbon dioxide, they made room for the atmosphere to fill with oxygen produced by early photosynthesizers. Bosak explains, “You have this resistant material that sinks to anaerobic oceans, where it takes longer to degrade. As a result, you could sequester more carbon … that in turn releases more oxygen.”7

Evolutionists assume 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 and News to Note, October 29, 2011 for information about this anoxic notion.) Yet in order for animals to evolve from those chemicals, photosynthetic microbes would have to have evolved to produce an oxygen supply.

Evolutionary geologists committed to uniformitarian principles assume multiple glaciations occurred but cannot prove they did. (They also cannot explain the one Ice Age clearly evident in the world’s rocks.) Diamictite—a fragmented assortment of sedimentary rock such as that in which these microfossils were found—is often cited as proof of ancient glacial scourings but in fact can be produced by many non-glacial mechanisms, including submarine landslides. (See News to Note, August 13, 2011 and Evolution Exposed Chapter 10: The Ice Age and Frozen in Time Chapter 11: Only One Ice Age to learn more about the real Ice Age and the imaginary ones.) Thus by re-creating earth’s history along uniformitarian principles, evolutionists created a survival mystery now “solved” by finding armored microfossils.

The global Flood described in the Bible buried billions of organisms and created conditions that caused the subsequent recent Ice Age. Most Precambrian rock layers were formed before the Flood and contain only microfossils. Some Precambrian microbes with their little shell casings could be preserved in comparatively quiescent waters of the pre-Flood world. However, the diamictite like that examined here is found at the same level in the geologic record in many places. Such diamictite deposits are consistent with a collapse of continental shelves as would be expected due to earthquakes and landslides at the beginning of the Flood. Thus these microfossils may well have been among the first buried at the onset of the Flood. The geologic column is a timeline of earth history, but not of millions of years, only of about 6,000.

Bosak has not witnessed evolution in action. Her team has found microbes likely preserved at the onset of the Flood. These microbes were not transitioning into anything else. There is no known mechanism by which they could give rise to multicellular life, nor could there be since God created all kinds of life in the beginning to reproduce after their kinds, not to evolve into new kinds. Molecular clock predictions, as discussed last week are built upon a statistical house of cards, attempting to predict how long evolution would take if it could happen and if mutation rates were known to be stable. Finally, earth did not require the ministrations of dying microbes to create an oxygen atmosphere so animal life could evolve. God created earth “to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18), complete with an oxygen atmosphere, which by the fifth day of Creation Week was supporting animal life. The Bible’s history is consistent with what we see in the world of biology and geology.

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And Don’t Miss . . .

  • A mini-crusade by several University of Texas (UT) employees against the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) has failed. The Policy Committee overseeing the State Employee Charitable Campaign has rejected their petition to remove ICR from the list of organizations to which state employees can donate through payroll deductions. Biology professor David Hillis objected to ICR’s inclusion, asserting, “The Institute for Creation Research is an anti-science organization. They work to undermine the mission of the university and of science in general, and especially the science that is the very basis for health and human services. How could such an organization possibly be listed as a charitable organization to be supported by state employees?” There are other religious organizations on the approved list as well as organizations representing a wide variety of causes, such as the Vegan Outreach for “ethical eating.” ICR maintains, “Science strongly supports the Bible's authority and accuracy. With scientific research, education programs, and media presentations, we equip Christians to stand for the Truth.” Hillis and others find this position offensive. Another biology professor, Daniel Bolnick, said ICR’s inclusion “was enough to get me riled up. It gives them legitimacy they really don't deserve.” And a professor of Germanic studies, John Hoberman, seems to misunderstand the way the Federal Government defines organizations eligible for deductions. According to the IRS, 501(c)(3) organizations like ICR can be considered charitable organizations. But Hoberman said ICR’s activities “do not qualify as the sort of humanitarian activity we associate with charity in the proper sense of the word.” To this we, as fellow Christian creationists, must say there is no more eternally vital humanitarian service than to share the truth of the Scriptures from the very first verse, giving people answers and breaking down the stumbling blocks secular science erects, hoping they will come to know Christ the Creator as their Savior.
  • Adult stem cells grown from a patient’s own heart have now been shown effective for heart failure. Stem cells are prepared from cardiac muscle cells obtained at the time of by-pass surgery or even from a cardiac biopsy. Therefore, there is no danger of rejection as with embryonic stem cell approaches. Cells require about six weeks to prepare, so this therapy is not useful for the acute heart attack. However, in 14 of the 16 patients treated by Dr. Roberto Bolli at the University of Louisville since 2009, the treatment significantly improved cardiac function in hearts long damaged by heart attack. Cardiac muscle cells destroyed by heart attacks do not normally regenerate themselves but are replaced with scar tissue. Cardiac stem cells have the potential to divide and replace lost cardiac muscle cells. “Among 14 patients who responded to the stem cell treatment, the heart's blood-pumping efficiency increased from 30.3 percent before the treatment to 38.5 percent after. And in seven patients who underwent magnetic resonance imaging, the amount of dead heart muscle tissue decreased by 24 percent over four months and 30 percent over a year.” For patients, the significance is not as much in the statistical improvement as in the improvement in lifestyle. Heart attack survivors with severe cardiac damage suffer enormous limitations, and this therapy has the potential to help many not only live longer but live better. As we have often pointed out, non-embryonic stem cell technology like this offers the best promise for not only ethical but also effective medical uses for this amazing technology.
  • A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has ruled that David Coppedge will have his day in court. The 14-year veteran employee of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, lead computer administrator on the Saturn Cassini Mission, was demoted and reprimanded for lending DVDs about intelligent design to fellow employees. He was fired after filing suit to secure his right to free expression. JPL has accused him of “pushing religion,” even though his “supervisors admitted never receiving a single complaint regarding his conversations about intelligent design.”9 “The Court's ruling allows a jury to vindicate David Coppedge's rights,” said Joshua Youngkin, a legal analyst for Discovery Institute. “California law forbids employers who view an employee's expression as religion to punish or diminish the employee on that basis. . . . Although ID is not religion, it can't be singled out by JPL or other employers in this way.” The judge found there “are triable issues” here and will let a jury decide whether JPL’s actions were discriminatory. As the Discovery Institute spokesman points out, intelligent design (ID) is not a religious belief but rather an acknowledgement of the irreducible complexity and other design features evident in our world. “ID may serve as a useful tool in preliminary discussions about God and creation to gain an audience that might be turned off at the mention of the Bible.”10 Nevertheless, it is vital that the Christian creationist understand the Bible’s answers about the real cause of suffering in the world are essential to understanding the true nature of God, sin, salvation, and the life to come.

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