“Mankind the Story of All of Us” likely to be more “story” than “history.”
The History Channel’s new 12-hour mini-series, “Mankind the Story of All of Us,” will debut later this year. The project’s executive producer, Jane Root, says it will be a “real action-adventure” program starting with the big bang and tracing “the development of humans on a planet where the vast majority of species go extinct.” While offering educational supplements to schools, Root says the series will be like “a Hollywood superhero movie” revealing the ”real exciting story of how humans made it.”
Already Root has identified the worldview that will color the series. If the producers ignore God’s eyewitness account of man’s creation and the rest of the historical material in Genesis, they will not only present unverifiable ideas as if they were established facts but also rob the viewing public of the truth of human heritage. For instance, the Bible tells us early humans—Adam and Eve1 and their immediate descendants—were intelligent people engaged in animal husbandry, metallurgy, city-planning, and the making of musical instruments. Will this be the view presented? Root says the series will trace the “development of tools.” Will her series tell us primitive tools were made by animal-like brutes struggling to evolve brains big enough to think? We don’t know, but we can guess.
Since the series begins with the big bang, we bet the true age of the universe won’t get airtime either. The series will cover “astronomy, geology and other sciences” and “make liberal use of computer-generated recreations in its storytelling.” Therefore, the producers, if they choose, will be able to convincingly blur the distinction between observable science and evolutionary interpretations.
The series will try to show how humans survived on a planet where most species go extinct. Will it explain the massive graveyards in the fossil record correctly as a result of the global Flood? Will it reveal that God who created mankind has had a plan for mankind and man’s salvation since before the world was created (1 Peter 1:20)?
The series will also discuss “construction of the pyramids.”2 Will it make clear that they were built by a civilization3 that developed in the post-Flood world after the dispersion from Babel?4 Will the chronology used for Egypt in the program be the flawed chronology—now being discarded by even secular Egyptologists—which denies biblical facts?5
Root says she was surprised to learn about “connections among cultures in ancient times.” From a biblical worldview we understand that intelligent people spread out after God confused their languages at the Tower of Babel.6 Thus we are not surprised to learn that ancient Chinese writing7 reveals an awareness of many facts from Genesis. The discovery of over a hundred lengthy bilingual vocabularies on cuneiform tablets at Ebla in Syria, probably dating shortly after the dispersion from Babel, reveals mankind’s necessary preoccupation with linguistic pursuits in the years after the dispersion from Babel. Archaeology corroborates many facts presented in Scripture, as a stroll last month through the British Museum confirmed for this writer.
The Bible begins with the history of all mankind in Genesis. The focus eventually narrows to center mainly on Abraham’s descendants through whom God’s Word would be preserved and through whom Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, would come. Nevertheless, the Bible contains a great deal of historical documentation about other people groups. Acts 17:26 even tells us God planned for the nations of the world. After all, God not only cares about the salvation of all people (2 Peter 3:9) but also has had a hand in human history from the beginning.
When the series airs, we as Bible-believing Christians would be wise to be “up” on the real history of “us” so we can share the truth with our friends and our children. We cannot expect the secular world or the History Channel to portray all the history we know to be true, for they see it incorrectly through a worldview that glorifies humanity while ignoring God, but we dare not leave God out. We know better.
Why the octopus doesn’t have to come in from the cold
Puerto Rican neurophysiologists puzzling over how polar organisms “evolved structural changes to compensate for their thermal environment”8 have been surprised and delighted to discover the secret of the Antarctic octopus and its Arctic cousins.
Originally hypothesizing that polar organisms were genetically different from their tropical relatives, Dr. Joshua Rosenthal and Sandra Garrett discovered a “whole different molecular mechanism for increasing protein diversity.” Their paper published in the January 5 edition of Sciencexpress “sets the stage for showing that RNA editing can have a big role in adaptation.”
Nerve conduction is normally hampered by frigid temperatures. Protein channels in nerve cell membranes—channels that allow ions to move in and out of nerve cells—do not reset to their closed positions very well in the cold. Since Antarctic octopuses thrive in freezing water, Rosenthal said, “We thought we were going to see changes at the level of the gene”—figuring the cold-loving animals had evolved to genetically produce a channel protein with better cold-performance.
When they sequenced the gene coding for the channel protein in both Antarctic and tropical Puerto Rican octopuses, they found the genetic codes were virtually identical. They even inserted the gene sequences into frog eggs and confirmed the proteins produced behaved the same way. Therefore, they concluded the Antarctic octopus must somehow edit the messenger RNA after transcription in order to build a better protein for the cold.
Further testing confirmed octopus messenger RNA is consistently altered so that a different amino acid is inserted at several places in the protein. One of the substitutions in the Antarctic octopus, at site I321V, “more than doubled the rate of closure”9 of the channel protein, allowing the channel to close quickly even in the cold.
To confirm the importance of the I321V substitution for cold adaptation, the team tested two Arctic species, two more tropical ones, and two temperate ones. Editing at the I321V site was a prominent finding in the Arctic species, but not the others.
Rosenthal concludes, “This process can be used to help adapt to the environment.” Exactly how and “whether octopuses use editing for rapid acclimation or long-term adaptation”9 is as yet unknown.
Despite the researchers’ assertion that “RNA structures that drive editing evolve and generate species-specific patterns,”9 there is no evolution of new kinds of animals involved in this study. RNA editing does not build new kinds of creatures but it does allow a way for creatures to vary within their created kinds. The octopus design at the molecular level already has in it the information required to adapt to the cold by varying this necessary protein’s structure. God created all kinds of creatures fully functional about 6,000 years ago. This research reveals one way He equipped the octopus to adapt.
Supersoldier ants said to “illuminate evolutionary processes”
“Hanging on to ancestral developmental toolkits can be an important way for organisms to evolve new physical traits,” according to McGill University researchers. In their paper published January 6 in Science they write, “We uncovered an ancestral developmental potential to produce a ‘supersoldier’ subcaste [of ants] that has been actualized at least two times independently.”10 They believe parallel evolution of a supersoldier trait occurs when mutations reactivate dormant ancestral genes.
Of the 1100 species of Pheidole ants, only 8 are known to normally produce a super-sized soldier ant. These species are native to the southwestern United States and Mexico where army ants are endemic. While most Pheidole ants evacuate when invaded by army ants, those species with super-soldiers stand their ground as the big soldier ants use their heads to block the doorway and fight off invaders. When McGill’s Dr. Ehab Abouheif discovered similar “monstrous-looking soldiers”11 in a ninth species, Pheidole morrisi, on Long Island, where “there are no hints of army ants anywhere near,”12 he decided to investigate.
Ant larvae develop into various castes in response to nutrition, temperature, and juvenile hormone (JH). Applying methoprene, a JH analog, to larvae at the right time directs larva to grow larger than common workers and become soldier ants.12
Abouheif’s team found that a second application of the hormone could induce supersoldier development in species of the “Super-8” as well as in Pheidole morrisi—the species known to rarely produce supersoldiers. They also induced supersoldier development in two other Pheidole species that have never been known to produce supersoldiers.
Abouheif’s team believes the dormant genetic potential is occasionally activated by mutations. “These ancestral potentials are locked in place, and mutations release them at low frequencies. They are there for natural selection to take hold of,”12 explains Abouheif. “The kind of environmental stressors that evoke this dormant potential are there all the time, so when the need arises natural selection can take hold of the potential and actualize it.”
The team constructed an ant family tree by sampling a five-gene sequence in several species, statistically comparing their differences, and inferring a mutation rate with molecular clock calculations. They believe the common ancestor of all Pheidole ants lived 35 to 60 million years ago. Therefore, Abouheif concludes, “This ancestral potential is locked in place for 35 million years and . . . if you can find it, you can unleash [it]. . . . The fact that you can induce it in all these different species [that don't naturally have that caste], means that one common ancestor of all these species had [supersoldiers].”11
“So what we're showing is that environmental stress is important for evolution because it can facilitate the development of novel phenotypes,” Abouheif says. “For the longest time in evolutionary theory, these ancestral traits were thought to go nowhere … the Barnum and Bailey of evolution. So they've been an unappreciated source of evolutionary variation.” However, no mechanism for the evolution of any new kind of creature has been demonstrated here, but one of the ways an organism can vary within its created kind has. By using the word evolution to refer to variation within a created kind as well as evolution of one kind of organism into another and even molecules-to-man evolution, evolutionists can lead the gullible to believe observable speciation and variation prove unobservable (and unbiblical) kinds of evolution.
In this study, Abouheif demonstrated genetic information for this sort of adaptation is present in the genomes of some ants that no longer use the trait. There is no evolutionary mechanism to explain why such an unexpressed trait would remain in the genome for millions of years. (The million-year dates are likely based on the assumption of a constant mutation rate as well as number of shaky statistical games. Read more about molecular clock calculations at News to Note, December 31, 2011: Year in Review.) From a biblical perspective, we are not surprised to see the potential for genetic variability within God’s created kinds, including ants, which He created to reproduce after their kind 6,000 years ago.
Rockin’ around the clock’s assumptions
An unexpected discovery about isotope distribution in atmospheric argon, according to a recent news release, “will improve the accuracy of estimates of the time of geological events.” This refinement will improve “calibration of one of the world’s slowest clocks . . . the ‘argon-argon clock.’”
While designing a thermometer that works by measuring the speed of molecules in argon gas, researchers discovered the accepted isotopic ratio of atmospheric argon is just a little off. The conventional standard established in the 1950s was “slightly in error,” and the correct measurement was finally made in 2006.
“This work shows the power of precision measurement,” said researcher Michael de Podesta. “It's . . . like getting a sharper lens on a camera. It allows us to see the world more clearly.”
Recalibration of the world’s mass spectrometers with the new figure could alter radiometric age measurements by as much as 1.2 per cent. “One per cent change in the accuracy of an age doesn't sound like a lot, but when aiming for 0.1 per cent precision through geological time it is a very significant breakthrough,” said researcher Darren Mark.
Argon-argon dating is supposedly more accurate than potassium-argon dating. Both require accurate knowledge of the atmospheric ratio of argon isotopes. Potassium-argon dating is based on the assumption that the amount of radioactive argon in a rock sample all came from the decay of radioactive potassium. The argon-argon method is calibrated by neutron bombardment of test samples and samples of “known age” as determined by other radioisotopes used for rock dating.
Since argon is an inert gas, many believe any argon previously present in molten rock would have leaked away without reacting with other chemicals before the rock solidified. Those who accept the long age-dates produced by the method are confident of their accuracy because they are sure no argon could have been already present in the sample. However, Dr. Andrew Snelling and others have documented examples in which rocks of truly known ages—known because they were formed in the wake of observed volcanic events—contained excess argon.13 Those who accept the long ages obtained by this radiometric dating method “adjust” for such “excess argon” if the dates don’t match those expected from “known age” rocks. However, “excess argon” is indistinguishable from newly formed argon, and the “known age” rocks for comparison are dated using other radiometric methods founded on the same unverifiable assumptions. The reasoning is circular.14
The new calibration of the atmospheric argon content in argon measurements can only affect one of the steps in the calculation of rock ages. But improved measurements in the present cannot make assumptions about the past any more reliable. Dates with new-and-improved numbers after the decimal point are more precise, but they are not more accurate. In fact, such precision creates the illusion of accuracy.
Precision involves technical refinement in a measurement, but accuracy refers to how closely measurements reflect truth. Precision requires technological improvements of measurements made in the present. Knowledge of accuracy requires testable repeatable confirmable measurements—not possible for events supposed to be billions of years gone—or an eyewitness account. The only eyewitness account of earth’s beginning is God’s account in Genesis. He created all there is about 6,000 years ago. Verifiable scientific observations, as we discuss on this website regularly, are in agreement with the models provided by the Bible. We can have faith in man’s interpretations of the clock in the rock, or we can be wise enough to believe the Word of the one who was there “before all things” (Colossians 1:14-17), the “Rock of Ages,” Jesus Christ.
“Molecular machine’s evolutionary trajectory”15 is an imaginary marvel.
Many cellular functions are performed by groups of specialized proteins arranged to work together like a machine. According to the University of Chicago’s news service, “How the minute steps of evolution produced these constructions has long puzzled scientists, and provided a favorite target for creationists.”
“Evidence of the mechanisms by which these assemblies evolved is lacking,” according to a paper to be published in the January 18 issue of Nature. Dr. Joe Thornton and colleagues write, “Here we use ancestral gene reconstruction and manipulative genetic experiments to determine how the complexity of an essential molecular machine . . . increased hundreds of millions of years ago.”15
Thornton’s team examined the components of a ring-shaped molecular complex (part of a proton pump) that adjusts intracellular acidity. The version of the ring found in animal cells consists of a Vma16 subunit and five Vma3 subunits. In fungi, the pump ring consists of a Vma16 subunit, four Vma3 subunits, and one Vma11 subunit. Since the fungal version contains three different proteins, its ring is by definition “more complex” and must, in one evolutionary view, have evolved from the simpler two-protein form.
Thornton proposes instead that the complex form evolved from a highly complex ancestral molecule. “Mutations that compromise existing functions are far more frequent than those that generate new ones.”15 Therefore, the authors conclude, instead of trying to figure out how lots of “mistakes” can add up to new, complex, functional information, it makes more sense to start with a complex modular biological system and picture it degenerating to the present form. Believing his model proves the past, Thornton says, “What’s surprising to me is the idea that greater complexity doesn’t require acquisition of new functions. It can come from partial degeneration of the ancestor.”16
So, what is this “molecular time-travel approach” Thornton’s group has pioneered? They analyzed the genes for the protein ring in 139 modern specimens, “tracing evolution backwards through time along the Tree of Life to identify the most likely ancestral sequences.” Having thus examined the structural forms that work, by “cleverly engineering a set of ancestral proteins fused . . . in specific orientations,” they created a model for a modular mega-molecule. They assumed this complex ancestral molecule existed and was actually ancestral to present forms of the pump ring.
“Our strategy was to use ‘molecular time travel’ to reconstruct and experimentally characterize all the proteins in this molecular machine just before and after it increased in complexity,” Thornton said. “By reconstructing the machine’s components as they existed in the deep past, we were able to establish exactly how each protein’s function changed over time and identify the specific genetic mutations that caused the machine to become more elaborate.”
The team assumed multiple copies of the same subunit evolved by gene duplication. Then they modeled scenarios in which certain mutations made the subunits less versatile. They subtracted subunits until only functional combinations remained. They synthesized the DNA gene sequences matching hypothetical ancestral proteins and put the synthetic genes into defective mutant yeast. Since the synthetic ancestral gene rescued the yeast, Thornton’s team believes it is the incarnation of the protein’s ancestral gene.
Thornton believes this “discovery” is the first of many that will invalidate the anti-evolutionary argument of “irreducible complexity.”17 He says, “These really aren’t like precision-engineered machines at all. They’re groups of molecules that happen to stick to each other, cobbled together during evolution by tinkering, degradation, and good luck, and preserved because they helped our ancestors to survive.” He adds, “Complexity can appear through a very simple stepwise process—there is no supernatural process required to create them.”16
Thornton assumes similar proteins are proof of common ancestry, but a wise common Designer (like God) can certainly use the same sort of molecule in many places without needing complex forms to evolve from the simple.
Has Thornton’s team actually discovered anything? They have designed models by varying a protein’s structure. And because their synthetic “ancestor” functions, they claim it existed as an ancestral form billions of years in the untestable past. They claim the complex ancestral form they designed must have been the real ancestor because they’re able to weave a story in which it works. The world is full of fictional books and history books. History books describe what was; fictional books describe what could have been. Being able to tell a plausible story doesn’t prove it happened.
Furthermore, while proclaiming victory over the creationist challenge of “irreducible complexity” by starting with a complex mega-molecule and chopping off parts, Thornton’s team never even suggests where the original complex ancestral molecule or the genetic information to build it came from.
Finally, the University of Chicago news service implies a distinction between “scientists” and “creationists.” Yet creation scientists and evolutionary scientists both use the same scientific method and study the same observable facts. The “scientists” on Thornton’s team however are making untestable claims about the past as assumed fact. Theirs is a clear position of faith in that which they cannot possibly test. And unlike “creationists,” they have no eyewitness account to verify or refute their position.
The Bible gives God’s eyewitness account of Creation. The alternative scenarios proposed by evolutionists are missing not only the actual source of the original information but also any way to test and validate their claims. We can trust the Bible’s history. And we can recognize a biochemical yarn when we hear it.
For more information about irreducible complexity and molecular machines see The End of Irreducible Complexity?.
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