Australian television program gets up close with the Creation Museum.
“God’s Word echoes around the hall,” says Australian journalist David Brill as he tours the Creation Museum. His work aired this week on Dateline, a program on Australia’s SBS ONE television, and is available for viewing online (see link above). The thirteen-minute documentary captured sound bites and video footage from many of the museum’s animatronic figures, videos, shows, and displays. Contrasting interviews with founder and president of the Creation Museum, Ken Ham, and atheist “PZ” Myers, a vocal opponent of the ministry of Answers in Genesis, the program revealed Scriptural truth and exposed the anger and strong commitment of one of the Museum’s “atheist critics.”
Some Christians—sadly even some who call themselves creationists (such as “progressive creationists” or “old-earth creationists”)—fail to grasp the essential connection between the twin pillars of biological evolution and billions of years. (Both defy the authority of God’s Word.) But this documentary zoomed in on the connection. Brill explained, “Darwin’s theory of evolution is under threat. The world didn’t evolve over billions of years. It seems it was created around 6,000 years ago.” A clip from Men in White explaining scientists who claim to see “billions of years into the past” are “making a ton of assumptions” is followed by a museum audio track proclaiming the source of our knowledge about our origins. Our source is “Someone who has seen everything from the beginning. . . . God, who has given us a written account.” As Ken Ham explains, “Scientific methodology cannot prove or disprove the age of the earth. . . . Our ‘proof’ that the universe is not billions of years old is the record of the history book of the universe.”
Ken Ham leads the correspondent to the Wonders Room, “our intelligent design room.” Of course, recognizing the real Intelligent Designer is the God of the Bible, he adds that Romans 1:20 declares, “If you don’t believe in God you are without excuse.” The Wonders Room reveals design in every part of the natural world. The purpose of the room is “all to show it’s obvious there is a Designer behind life.”
The video tour takes viewers through the Garden of Eden, allowing visitors to see that Adam and Eve lived at the same time as dinosaurs—“no contradiction if you’re a creationist,” the TV anchor explains. Summing up the mess the world fell into, an animatronic Methuselah explains, “They forgot all about God”—equally a commentary on much of today’s culture. A peek into the taping of the radio program Answers . . . with Ken Ham catches Ken about to explain why God allows suffering. And a brief stop at the “Dig Site” reminds us that scientific evidence is always interpreted through a scientist’s worldview.
Outspoken atheist “PZ” Myers1 says the Creation Museum “is not a museum . . . not a place for inquiry and exploration of the evidence.” He says it’s “a propaganda place” and ought to be called “Ken Ham’s haunted house” as it tries to scare you “about all the horrible things evolution will do to you.” Brill illustrates with a tour through the “Cave of Sorrows,” graphically illustrating the disastrous societal effects of the breakdown of biblical authority. Myers accuses biblical creationists of “ignoring the mountain of evidence that supports the age of the earth.” He “can’t comprehend the appeal of creationism,” he says, “which flouts all the facts and all the evidence that we have.” But he attributes the astonishing “success of creationism in this country” to proponents’ “excellent job of corrupting public education.”
Ken Ham explains people like Myers, according to Romans chapters 1–3, have the knowledge of God written on their hearts but choose not to believe and therefore suppress that truth as well as all the evidence of God’s design in nature. Myers illustrates the point when he declares he doesn’t believe in God because “Nobody has ever shown me the evidence,” challenging, “If they had evidence they would be trotting it out.”
But Ken Ham—and the book of Romans—are right. God Himself has already “trotted out” the evidence. We are surrounded by it. We even have it inside our minds and hearts through the human conscience and the convicting power of God. We have the written revelation of God in the Bible. And we have the ultimate evidence in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. But what each person chooses to do with that evidence is a personal choice.
The Creation Museum calls attention to what God said He did from Creation to the Cross of Christ, helping people look past evolutionary and atheistic propaganda. Be sure to share the SBS video with others. We pray God will continue to use this museum and the coming Ark Encounter to enable countless children and adults to learn truth that can change their lives—and the lives of those they love—now and for all eternity.
Tomb trackers are at it again.
The team that popularized claims associating the 1980 “Garden Tomb” discovery with Jesus Christ has book sales soaring with tales of a nearby “Patio Tomb.” The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity quickly became the top-selling religious book at Amazon.com. The public may be buying the story, but skepticism is running high among archaeologists and Christians alike.
Authors James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici have explored a tomb beneath a patio two miles from Jerusalem using a robotic camera. They claim inscriptions on bone boxes (ossuaries) provide “the earliest archaeological evidence of faith in Jesus' resurrection from the dead, the first witness to a saying of Jesus that predates even the writing of our New Testament gospels, and the earliest example of Christian art, all found in a sealed tomb dated to the 1st century CE” [excerpt from The Jesus Discovery at hwww.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/28/jesus-discovery-jerusalem_n_1305355.html].
Just 200 yards away is the famous “Garden Tomb.” Due to the proximity, the authors write, “A compelling argument can be made that the Garden tomb is that of Jesus of Nazareth and his family. . . . Both tombs are most likely located on the rural estate of Joseph of Arimathea.” Claims about the Garden Tomb were based on the names on its ossuaries—“Mary, Yose, Juda son of Jesus, Matya, Maramene, and Jesus son of Joseph.”2 A statistician claimed those names were “solid evidence that the tomb is the tomb of Christ”2 on the basis of a probability analysis of common Jewish names. As archaeologist Kendall Down points out, however, “A close look at his claim reveals so much ‘hand waving’ that really his figures are nothing more than guesswork.”2
Obviously, Bible-believing Christians believe the body of Jesus was resurrected, “precluding the possibility of his earthly remains ever turning up,” admits Tabor. Nevertheless, Tabor sticks by his claims, including the idea that the ossuary labeled “Jesus son of Joseph” represents the mortal remains of Jesus Christ.
The authors describe a Greek inscription meaning, “’O Divine Jehovah raise up raise up,’”2 but Kendall Down questions their translation. The authors also report a fish containing a stick figure of Jonah. Numerous experts from the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) doubt the authors’ interpretation of these inscriptions.
“Nothing in the book 'revolutionizes our understanding of Jesus or early Christianity,' as the authors and publisher claim, and we may regard this book as yet another in a long list of presentations that misuse not only the Bible but also archaeology,”3 writes Duke biblical scholar Eric Meyers. ASOR director Andrew Vaughan sums up many opinions when he says, “In my assessment, there's zero percent chance that their theory is correct.”3
Trying to explain the obvious contradiction between their claim that Jesus Christ’s bones are in the nearby Garden Tomb and the fact the Bible documents Christ’s bodily Resurrection, the authors assert, “Certain theological traditions regarding the meaning of resurrection of the dead have clouded our understanding of what Jesus and his first followers truly believed.” [excerpt from The Jesus Discovery at www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/28/jesus-discovery-jerusalem_n_1305355.html]
If the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was not a genuine, bodily, permanent Resurrection, however, then proof of Christ’s deity collapses (Romans 1:4) and the hope of our salvation evaporates (1 Corinthians 15:17–18). The Bible’s accounts of His Resurrection are internally consistent and too uncomplimentary of His disciples to seriously consider the account fabricated. It was documented at a time when many people—friends and foes—were still alive to publicly prove the Resurrection false if it had been. The disciples, transformed from cowering to courageous, proved their confidence in the Resurrection was genuine with their lives. Christ’s death by crucifixion and knowledge of His empty tomb are corroborated by non-Christian contemporary historians, including Josephus, Tacitus, and Lucian.
Perhaps the greatest piece of evidence for Christ’s Resurrection, however, comes from the behavior of Jewish leaders at the time. They spread the story that disciples had stolen the body. No one could imagine frightened disciples taking on an armed contingent at the tomb, even if they had understood at the time the necessity of Jesus’s Resurrection to the foundation of the Christian church. And if the tomb was not really empty, why did a story have to be devised to explain the missing body? Why not just find it? Those who most sought to suppress the truth of Christ’s Resurrection supplied evidence that has comforted countless Christians for two millennia with confidence Christ rose from the dead.
The interpretations Tabor and Jacobovici are making have come to the world in a popular book, not a peer-reviewed forum. But even if their interpretations of the inscriptions were correct, the most that could be made of them is a suggestion that the occupants of the tomb believed in resurrection from the dead, a belief common among Jews (see Daniel 12:2 and John 11:24) as well as Christians. More importantly, nothing in the Garden Tomb or the Patio Tomb suggests the bones of Jesus Christ are there or anywhere else on this earth. “He is risen, as He said” (Matthew 28:6) and “He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3).
The gap closes but transitions are still lacking.
Evolutionists have long noted “Romer’s gap,” an absence of terrestrial fossils in 15 million years worth of rock in the geologic column above the Devonian mass extinction of aquatic animals. A trove of terrestrial fossils in Scotland discovered by Stanley Wood and Jennifer Clack “is forcing archeologists the world over to do some rewriting of their history books.”4
Evolutionary paleontologists have pondered whether there really was a multimillion year gap (from 360 million years ago to 345 million) after the death of so many aquatic creatures before evolution could march forward. Perhaps they just hadn’t found enough fossils yet. The gap used to be 30 million years when vertebrate paleontologist Alfred Romer first noticed the hole in the fossil record. Since then, fossil finds have supposedly partially filled it in. With Clack and Wood’s discoveries, the gap disappears.
Romer’s gap, if it contained any fossils, should in the evolutionary view reveal transitions between aquatic and terrestrial animals. As Clack explains, “'The break has been frustrating, because you wouldn't expect evolution to jump from simple aquatic creatures to complex, terrestrial animals without something in between.”
The fossils found in Scotland include vertebrates and invertebrates, terrestrial and aquatic. They include the “oldest”—actually the deepest—known five-toed foot, trumping previous finds by twenty million years in conventional dating. “These fossils are already revealing that the pentadactyl limb, which features five fingers or five toes, evolved a good 20 million years earlier than we thought,” Clack says. “This suite of fossils from Scotland now gives us a fuller picture of events at the start of the Carboniferous, when animals left the water and started colonising the land.” Furthermore, she adds, “'The sequence of fossils over the crucial period should be able to say something about the rate at which animals evolved at the end of the Devonian mass extinction.”
Despite Clack’s confidence that closer examination of the fossils will yield the secret of “how primitive animals at the end of the Devonian evolved into complex Carboniferous animals,” they do not provide the missing transitions. Her expectation is based on belief that terrestrial animals evolved from aquatic animals. Clack has written elsewhere, “Although humans do not usually think of themselves as fishes, they nonetheless share several fundamental characters that unite them inextricably with their relatives among the fishes. Tetrapods did not evolve from sarcopterygians [lobe-finned fishes]; they are sarcopterygians.”5 Thus, Clack semantically denies the necessity of finding transitional forms by imagining a smooth continuum of development. However, the Genesis account of creation of all kinds of creatures about 6,000 years ago with the ability to reproduce after their kinds is consistent with the non-evolutionary findings in biology: organisms do reproduce after their kinds.
Furthermore, Clack’s expectation of discovering the rate of evolution across this gap is based on the assumption that evolution of new kinds of creatures actually happened as well as the assumption that the dating of the rock layers is reliable. Actually those dates are based on a number of unverifiable assumptions. Interpretations of the evidence are based on the assumptions one accepts without proof.
These fossils do fill in a gap in the rocks, but not in “deep time.” Many supposed millions of years are accounted for by the single year of the global Flood. The fossils in the geologic column represent not evolution of life over millions of years but the record of death, mostly during in the global Flood. The order of creatures in the geologic column reveals the order in which organisms were rapidly buried, with the aquatic organisms occupying the lowest portions having been the first to be overwhelmed and buried. Creatures more capable of temporarily escaping rising floodwaters would generally be found in higher layers, as the researchers found here. Romer’s gap would represent both an artifact of sampling inconsistencies as the authors suggest as well as a possible layer in which much sediment was deposited while most mobile animals were still scrambling away with temporary success. The Bible explains the findings here and elsewhere in the geologic column.
Burgess Shale said to shelter “the most primitive known vertebrate and therefore the ancestor of all descendant vertebrates, including humans.”
A tiny worm fossil found in the Burgess Shale formation of the Canadian Rockies is now confirmed, according to a study just published in Biological Reviews, as the oldest common ancestor of all vertebrates, including birds, reptiles, fish, and humans. The Pikaia gracilens, a worm discovered in 1911 in a fossil graveyard near Field, British Columbia, despite the caption quoted above, is not itself a vertebrate, but it may be a chordate. Evolutionary scientists have cast it in the role of vertebrate ancestor because it seems to have a notochord and myomeres.
“I look at myself in the mirror, and I can recognize the elongated body with all these muscle bands, and it's an animal that was certainly very agile,” says Dr. Jean-Bernard Caron, curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum. “Pikaia is something that people can take close to heart, because we are connected.”6
Caron and Cambridge professor Simon Conway Morris examined worm fossils from this famous Middle Cambrian formation, dated at 505 million years, with a scanning electron microscope. When first discovered, Pikaia was thought “to have a very primitive notochord—a flexible rod found in the embryos of all chordates—which,” according to the Cambridge Research News, “goes on to make up part of the backbone in vertebrates.” The researchers report the structure originally thought to be a notochord was not a notochord at all.7 However, another “strand of tissue is interpreted as representing the nerve chord and notochord.”7
“Our analysis provides evidence that Pikaia indeed had a notochord,” said Caron. “But the real excitement was finding extensive myomeres, the blocks of skeletal muscle tissue that are characteristic of chordates.”
“The discovery of myomeres is the smoking gun that we have long been seeking,” said Morris. “Now with myomeres, a nerve chord, a notochord and a vascular system all identified, this study clearly places Pikaia as the planet’s most primitive chordate. So, next time we put the family photograph on the mantle-piece, there in the background will be Pikaia.”
The word notochord refers to a rod-like structure supporting the central nerve cord of some rare living creatures like lancelets—an eel-like marine worm—and also to a similar structure in vertebrate embryos. Myomeres are blocks of skeletal muscle reflecting the segmental organization typically found in chordates. (A chordate is an organism that has a notochord and a central nerve cord for at least part of its life.) The word myomere—as a synonym for myotome—also refers to the part of an embryonic somite destined to develop into skeletal muscle. Somites are blocks of embryonic tissue genetically programmed to develop into specific tissues (such as muscle, skin, and bone) and to direct the organization of other nearby structures such as nerves. Muscles formed from each myotome are innervated by nerves embryologically associated.
Contrary to popular belief (and to the impression given in the article cited here), the notochord in vertebrates, the alleged descendants of the Pikaia, does not develop into the vertebrate spinal column. Instead, the vertebrate embryo’s notochord supports and guides the formation of adjacent structures such as the neural tube (future spinal cord) and the vertebral column. The embryonic notochord, like many embryonic structures, virtually disappears after it completes the job of organizing the developing anatomy, persisting only as a portion of the intervertebral disks. (In fact, if the cells of embryonic notochord do not disappear from the vertebral bones themselves, they can cause problems.)
Evolutionists maintain vertebrates evolved from “simpler” forms. Some rare creatures have a notochord but no actual vertebrae. Therefore, evolutionists believe the presence of a notochord and other structures resembling vertebrate embryonic anatomy is evidence vertebrates evolved from a common ancestor possessing a notochord. This belief is thought by some to be supported by the discredited “theory” of embryonic recapitulation—the idea that the anatomy of developing embryos retraces their evolutionary history.9 Many evolutionists today embrace a twist on this idea since the discovery of genes that switch other groups of genes on and off. They believe switching genes on and off supplies sufficient raw material for new kinds of organisms to evolve. At any rate, in the search for a vertebrate ancestor, many evolutionists grasp at a creature with a notochord and segmentally arranged muscle units, identifying a simpler creature that seems to follow the vertebrate embryonic pattern as a primitive ancestor.
Based on the latest research, the Pikaia apparently is a chordate. Vertebrates are a subset of chordates, but only imagination “connects the dots” by insisting vertebrates evolved from invertebrate ancestors through ancestral forms possessing notochords. Embryonic recapitulation theory was originally an attempt to prove this idea. Modern information about genetic switches also fails to supply the information for more complex organisms to evolve or to explain the source of the information in the first place.
Furthermore, though hailed as the most primitive known ancestor of all vertebrates, Pikaia is found in rock layers above fossils of fish-like fossil chordates with rudimentary vertebrae and more developed cranial and visual structures than either Pikaia or living lancelets possess. These Haikouichthys fossils were found in Early Cambrian rocks in China.10 Thus Pikaia cannot be the ancestor of vertebrates based on evolutionary thinking because more advanced organisms appear beneath it in the fossil record.
Embryonic homologues to structures in adult organisms do not prove evolutionary ancestry. They are merely examples of similar designs in development, evidence of a Common Designer. Burgess Shale formations around the world preserve soft-bodied organisms found nowhere else. Thus if any true transitional forms existed, they would have their best chance of preservation in that layer. Pikaia is an interesting chordate, but nothing about it proves it either ancestral or transitional to vertebrates. Its “myomeres” aren’t a “smoking gun” identifying it as a vertebrate ancestor, just a “smoking gun” identifying it as a probable chordate. And organisms more “advanced” appear even in deeper layers of the Cambrian “explosion.” God created all kinds of organisms in the first week of Creation about 6,000 years ago, and many of their descendants were eventually preserved as fossils in the global Flood.
Actually, the delicate creatures found in Burgess Shale are typically preserved at a variety of angles to the rock bedding as would be expected by rapid burial in a catastrophic landslide of a muddy sea bottom.11 These findings are consistent with rapid burial in the global Flood as described in Genesis.
Fossil diversity “accurately reflects history”—but which version of history?
Paleontologists have long wondered whether the variety in the fossil record provides a true history of earth’s biodiversity. Could the way sediment is laid down have caused some living things to be over- or underrepresented? In 1972 David Raup published a paper raising this question. “Raup showed that it was important to look carefully for preservation biases. If the formation of sedimentary rocks decreases for a time, perhaps the fossil diversity would also decrease even if there was no change in the actual ecosystems.”
A statistical analysis just published in Science suggests the fossil record is a realistic sampling reflecting the history of life on earth. “This goes right back to Darwin,” says coauthor Shanan Peters. “The Origin of Species even has a chapter titled 'On the imperfection of the geological record,' with a subheading titled 'On the poorness of our paleontological collections.' Darwin noted the absence of transitional forms in the fossil record but hoped the deficit would be rectified in time. “After all,” comments the arstechnica journalist, “less than one percent of extinct species are represented in the fossil record.” (Though to those of us who don’t view the invisible through a lens of deep time, such a statement seems ludicrous; the journalist is probably commenting—like Darwin—on the conspicuous absence of countless transitional forms evolutionists assume must have lived for their presumptions to be true.) “The great irony,” adds Peters, “may end up being that the face-value fossil record is our best estimate of the true history of life.”
This analysis compared various parameters such as “marine diversity, marine sedimentary rock formation, sea level, and isotopes of carbon, oxygen, sulfur, and strontium” statistically to see how they are related. Volcanic emissions, the location of water in the environment, temperature, the amount of oxygen in the environment, and erosion all affect these parameters.
The researchers found the way sedimentary rock is laid down does correlate with species diversity because both are related to “other geological forces.” Peters writes, “Raup was right, in that there is a strong correlation between the variable rock record and fossil diversity, but he was wrong about the meaning of that correlation. It exists because the biosphere actually responds to the environmental changes that are responsible for producing variability in the marine sedimentary rock record.”
Both the researchers and the media believe viewing the fossil record is tantamount to watching “evolution play out” and “literally reading the history of life on Earth.” These researchers are now confident the same factors that influenced the deposition of fossils in the rocks also influenced the “macroevolution”12 of species reflected in the fossils themselves.
The fossil record does not, however, demonstrate transitional species with evolution of various kinds of living things from common ancestral predecessors. The researchers simply assume the fossils demonstrate such “macroevolution.”12 Darwin’s missing transitional forms are still missing.
Furthermore, it is not surprising to see correlation between the variety in the fossil record with parameters related to rock formation and climate disturbance. The interpretations in this study are wholly dependent on the uniformitarian presuppositions that ignore the global Flood and subsequent Ice Age. Yet these events would have affected all of the geologic and climactic factors the researchers analyzed as well as—obviously—the creatures rapidly buried by the Flood. Thus, catastrophic changes in the environment did affect the biodiversity of creatures found in the fossil record but not the evolution of those life-forms, only the order in which they were buried.
Indeed, the fossil record is a “pretty faithful telling”—but it faithfully tells of a catastrophic year in the history of earth as recorded in Genesis. Peters says, “The biosphere actually responds to the environmental changes that are responsible for producing variability in the marine sedimentary rock record.” She’s right; it did—about 4,300 years ago. The biosphere responded to the sudden environmental changes of the global Flood and subsequent events such as the Ice Age. It responded by mostly getting buried in marine sediment. Creation scientists and evolutionary scientists look at the same evidence, but differing presuppositions determine the interpretation.
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