1. News.Cincinnati.com: “Millions of years in his hands

Local laboratory restores trilobite fossils.

The trilobite is the official fossil of Ohio. And just across the Ohio River, in Covington, Kentucky, is “probably the largest invertebrate fossil prep lab in the world.” So says Dan Cooper, who with his sons Ben and Jason carry on the tradition started by his parents, Don and Lou. Half a century ago they began collecting invertebrate fossils—especially trilobites—which are prominent features of the Tristate (Ohio-Indiana-Kentucky) region’s geology. Today, their family business—Trilobites of America—successfully searches out, excavates, and restores invertebrate fossils from all over the country.

tracksTrilobites are typically not found in the same layers as their fossilized tracks (shown in this photograph) but rather above them, as shown in the diagram. Conventional dating would consider the rock layers separating them to have been laid down slowly over millions of years. But trilobites likely left their tracks to be preserved in mineralized watery mud as they scrambled to escape the mud being dumped on them by the upheavals associated with the global Flood. They certainly would not have been able to burrow up through solid rock. Because recently dumped layers of water-borne mud and sediment would have been soft enough to allow their attempts until they were finally overwhelmed and buried, the presence of such trilobites-above-tracks is consistent with the Flood model of geology. See Five: Tracks But No Trilobites for more information (image credit: trilobite tracks photo, Dr. Andrew Snelling; diagram Five: Tracks But No Trilobites).

fossil-works Ben Cooper gets a closer look at details as he excavates in miniature, carefully removing the pieces of fossilized Isotelus and then reassembling the pieces to restore the animal’s anatomy. Isotelus is the trilobite genus chosen as Ohio’s state fossil.1 In the foreground is a trilobite that he has already restored. Such detailed fossils make it possible to study the anatomy of these complex extinct invertebrates. Be sure to watch the video at News.Cincinnati.com to gain a better appreciation of the techniques required to produce the restored fossils you see in museums. Image credit: Patrick Reddy, The Enquirer, News.Cincinnati.com.

drill Here a worker in the Cooper family’s Covington, Kentucky, laboratory (located only 20 minutes from the Creation Museum) uses a pneumatic drill to remove sediment encrusting and obscuring a rare fossilized Spathacalymeme. This trilobite genus is known by only a small number of complete specimens. Notice the prominent shovel-like snout protruding from it. This unusual feature is thought to have been useful for digging through sediment, possibly in search of food. Such variations among trilobites, a very complex invertebrate, are consistent with biblical history. God created animals, fully equipped for life on earth, to reproduce after their kinds and yet to vary within their kinds as we see in all sorts of animals today. Image credit: Patrick Reddy, The Enquirer, News.Cincinnati.com.

art-fossilsThese are some of the beautiful trilobite fossils you will encounter when you visit the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, near Covington. These Phacops rana milleri were recovered from Upper Devonian rock in Silica, Ohio. Ohio’s Phacops trilobites, found in the Ordovician and Devonian layers, are best known for their schizochroal eyes, a complex double-lens design that sharpens the focus of an image blurred by a spherical lens’s curvature. The collection of trilobites at the Creation Museum is housed in the Palm Plaza and contains specimens from the Cambrian, Ordovician, and Devonian layers. While many trilobite fossils are fragmentary, we are fortunate to also have a number of complete specimens, many of which were recovered from a fossil graveyard where large numbers were suddenly and catastrophically buried in their shallow sea homes. Image credit: Amazing Fossils on Display at the Creation Museum.

Restoration of fossils, whether they are found intact or in fragments, is a painstaking task. The Cooper’s lab is equipped with tiny pneumatic drills and airbrushes to pry the precious preserved material from rocky obscurity. As seen in this video, these bits of fossilized material must be reassembled like pieces of a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. The Cooper family lab supplied a fossil in 1985 to showcase the trilobite’s selection as the Ohio state fossil, and it has supplied specimens to the Smithsonian and other museums as well as private collectors. The detailed work is well worth the effort, as it allows paleontologists to see complex designs preserved deep in the fossil record. Trilobites found in the Ordovician rock, like that in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, are often preserved well enough to reveal a biologically unique eye anatomy.

Trilobites, are found in the Cambrian, Ordovician, and Devonian layers of the fossil record. According to conventional evolutionary reckoning they persisted for almost 300 million years, becoming extinct around 250 million years ago.1 Those in the Cincinnati area are in Ordovician rock, dated around 440 million years old. Those dates, as we often note, are derived from interpretations based on unverifiable assumptions, and the rock layers do not prove millions of years of history. (See Chapter 31: Doesn’t the Order of Fossils in the Rock Record Favor Long Ages? for more information.) Though found deep in the geologic column among the earliest multicellular creatures to be fossilized, trilobites are not simple creatures. They display a complexity difficult to explain from an evolutionary point of view.

Trilobites, like insects and horseshoe crabs, are arthropods. But they have a feature even more complex than other arthropods. Trilobite eyes, like those of insects, are compound eyes capable of three-dimensional vision, very useful for sensing motion. But in addition to this feature, the eyes of some varieties of trilobite are equipped with a unique focusing mechanism to correct for problems with a non-flexible lens. Called schizochroal, this sort of lens combined two lenses to refocus the blurry image produced by a spherical lens, keeping everything in focus. Humans have designed such lenses, but God did it first, about 6,000 years ago, when He created the trilobite.2

The Cincinnati area is rich in fossils, particularly invertebrate sea creatures, like trilobites, so much so that similar strata are called “Cincinnatian” elsewhere in North America. This region has intrigued fossil hunters since the 1790s. According to Answers in Genesis geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling, this area’s Ordovician rock layer is “one of the most well stocked and uniquely well-preserved ‘fossil graveyards’ on the planet.”3

The animals fossilized in the Cincinnati area were subjected to violent storm conditions. Today, the region is 500 miles from the sea. Secular scientists speculate that the ocean rose such that this region was actually a submerged coastal area.

Biblical history of the global Flood explains these Ordovician findings—the violent storms, the submergence of the whole region, the predominantly marine fossils, and their patterns of burial. Ordovician rock, like the Cambrian layer just below it, is deep in the geologic column and contains fossils of the first creatures to be torn from their habitats and catastrophically buried during the global Flood. As the fountains of the deep broke up (Genesis 17:1), volcanic activity would have generated violently surging ocean waters initially burying sea creatures living on or near the sea bottoms. These are just the sorts of creatures preserved in Cincinnatian strata. The geologic column doesn’t tell us when these creatures evolved but rather when they died and were buried. The geologic column, much of which is a timeline of the tumultuous Flood year, is not a timeline of the evolutionary emergence of life.

2. LiveScience:‘Cognitive Big Bang’ Discovered in Tiny Sea Worm

Evolutionary researchers claim to have pinpointed the origin of intelligence.

“One of the greatest scientific problems is to explain how intelligence and complex behaviours arose during evolution,” says University of Edinburgh neuroscientist Seth Grant, whose research group claims to have zoomed in on the ancestral source.4

Their papers, published in Nature Neuroscience, assert that accidental duplication of two genes in a “550 million-year-old” marine worm provided the raw material for the subsequent evolution of vertebrate brainpower. Mutations within the modern versions of those genes in mice and humans are associated with poor intellectual performance or mental illness such as schizophrenia. Therefore, Grant says, “Our work shows that the price of higher intelligence and more complex behaviours is more mental illness.”5

“Our evidence shows unambiguously that these genome duplications and expansions in the gene family have produced greater complexity to the behavioral repertoire of the vertebrate,” Grant asserts. He believes the results show conclusively that vertebrate intellect evolved from primordial gene duplication and subsequent mutations in the duplicate copies. “This genome event produced a kind of cognitive big bang; it produced a large set of interesting behavior,” said Grant. “It produced a molecular toolbox, which in the case of the brain, produced many, many more proteins that you find in the synapses, the junctions between nerve cells. . . . It would be like a stereo or a machine with many more switches in it; it can do more sophisticated types of things.”

wormMany evolutionists consider Pikaia gracilens to be the ancestor of all vertebrates because it had a cartilaginous notochord (instead of a vertebral column) and myomeres (bands of muscle). Evolutionists maintain that 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 that vertebrates evolved from a common ancestor possessing a notochord. See News to Note, March 10, 2012 for more information about this extinct invertebrate as well as the false assertions of embryonic recapitulation used to support its status as an evolutionary ancestor. Image credit: Photo is public domain on www.livescience.com. This fossil is in the Smithsonian.

The eel-like marine worm Pikaia gracilens is the hypothetical source of these ancestral genes. Pikaia’s genome cannot be sequenced because it is extinct, but a similar invertebrate lives today. Based on that invertebrate’s genome, researchers believe Pikaia had single copies of some genes similar to those found in vertebrates. Two such genes involved in the transport of glutamate in brain cells seem important for development of memory and learning. Vertebrates have multiple copies of these genes.

To test their notion that duplicated genes evolved to produce vertebrate brains, the researchers tested the intellectual capacity of mice possessing mutated, defective versions of these genes. Visual recognition of images on a touchpad tested the mouse-ability to learn. The mutant mice performed poorly. Humans took the same sorts of tests, and people with mutations in those genes likewise performed poorly. In humans, similar mutations are also associated with schizophrenia.

“Using the latest molecular and behavioural techniques, this research makes a significant step forward in our understanding of how sophisticated behaviours emerged in humans and other animals,” said John Williams of the Wellcome Trust, which funded the work. “This ground-breaking work has implications for how we understand the emergence of psychiatric disorders and will offer new avenues for the development of new treatments.”5 And coauthor Tim Bussey adds, “We can now apply genetics and behavioural testing to help patients with these diseases.”5

As we evaluate Grant’s claims, we note there are two different types of mutations in view. While the second (discussed below) is the sort actually seen today in mice and humans, the first is hypothetical—the supposed duplication 550 million years ago that produced genetic raw material for evolution. While duplications do occur, the existence of multiple copies (or near-copies) of a gene does not prove it evolved by duplication. The proper function of some genes depends on multiple copies or near-copies, and there is no reason not to believe that some genetic information was simply designed that way. (See “Gene genesis” News to Note, November 3, 2012 for more information.)

Evolutionists theorize that duplication mutations in simple primordial organisms allowed evolutionary experimentation in the extra gene copies until useful new genetic functions could emerge. However, duplicate copies of a gene would not contain new information, just spare copies of old information. Mutations do not produce new information such as the information required to transform one kind of creature into a new and more complex kind of organism. Recent studies claiming proof that gene duplications evolved novel functions actually only showed that gene duplicates still had their original functions. (See News to Note, October 6, 2012 and News to Note, November 3, 2012.)

The genome of Pikaia is not even known, but more importantly there is no evidence that duplication and subsequent evolution of spare copies can acquire new and more complex functions. Nor is there evidence supporting the notion that simple organisms like Pikaia acquired new information and transformed into increasingly complex creatures.

Unlike hypothetical ancient Pikaian mutations, the mutations in the mice and humans in the study are genuine, observable genetic defects. It is no surprise that those mutations have consequences. That similar mutations produce similar problems in mice and humans is also not surprising because both are biologically mammalian. Having been created by a common Designer to live in the same world, they naturally have many similar designs, anatomically and genetically. Similar biomolecules and the genes that guide their formation are present in many organisms because they need to perform similar functions. They are exactly the sort of similar designs we would expect from a common Designer, our Creator.

While understanding a possible genetic basis for any disease, including mental problems, is an important part of developing treatment strategies, evolutionary dogma makes no contribution to this area of medicine—with the possible exception of spurring the funding of projects intended to uncover the evolutionary basis for intelligence. The fact that mental disease and intellectual deficits in mice and humans are associated with certain genetic mutations does not prove their ancestral relationship to each other or to a primordial worm.

We live in a world cursed by sin. Disease and death are part of that cursed world. Mental illness and other diseases are not the price we paid in order to evolve big brains. They are instead a part of the suffering that began in this world after man first sinned against the good, loving, and holy Creator 6,000 years ago. (See Why Does God’s Creation Include Death and Suffering? to learn more.)

Discovering that the same genes are important to the function of mammalian brains does not demonstrate their evolutionary ancestral relationships to each other or to the most “primitive” creature believed to possess a version of the gene in question.

It is marvelous to discover some of the biological underpinnings that enable our brains to function the way they do. But those biological mechanisms are not evidence that our intellectual ability had to evolve from simple organisms. If we want to know how humans acquired their intellectual capacity, we need look no further than the book of Genesis. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). It is a grievous misuse of our God-given brains to think that our brains evolved from a worm: another example of sinners “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18–20).

3. Huffington Post:Pat Robertson Dispels Creationist Idea That Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Pat Robertson’s word on the age of the earth adheres to “revealed science” over the revealed Word of God.

Bill Nye isn’t the only TV personality to get some extra airtime discussing the age of the earth lately.6 Televangelist Pat Robertson of the CBN–TV network’s program 700 Club joined in with a video answer that has since grabbed media and blogger attention. You can watch it at www.youtube.com and read a complete transcript of it along with Dr. Tommy Mitchell’s insightful rebuttal at Pat Robertson’s Word or God’s Word: Which Will You Believe?.

RobertsonPat Robertson’s scientifically confused and biblically inconsistent video answering a mother’s concerns about her family’s distrust of the Bible’s answers about dinosaurs fuels the ongoing furor about the age of the earth that erupted in the wake of Senator Rubio’s recent remarks about the economy and the age of the earth.7 Image credit: www.youtube.com.

As evident from Robertson’s remarks, he is confused about the reason young-earth creationists believe the earth is only about 6,000 years old. He incorrectly comments on the scientific information relevant to this issue. And he is inconsistent in his interpretation of God’s Word. In a misguided effort to hang onto kids for God, Robertson clings to something he calls “revealed science”—evidently a hybrid blending of humanistic philosophy about historical science with a holy label—without realizing that such a compromised position is a documented cause that so many youth are leaving the Christian church today.8

Robertson’s video, posted on November 27, presents his answer to a concerned mother fearing her family was walking away from God because they didn’t believe the Bible could explain dinosaurs.9 Robertson buys into the secular dogma about the age of the earth that relies on unverifiable untestable assumptions and ignores the historical record provided by God in the Bible. He uses his faulty understanding of humanistic assertions about historical (origins) science to re-interpret God’s Word.10 And how does he explain dinosaurs? Robertson invents a time “before the time of the Bible” in which dinosaurs could roam the globe before being entombed in the fossil record.

Robertson mistakenly attributes the foundation for the young-earth view to 17th century Archbishop Ussher’s The Annals of the World.11 He says, “That’s not the Bible. That’s Bishop Ussher.” Of course, no young-earth creationist thinks Ussher’s writings are equivalent or superior to Scripture. Still, he was a brilliant and careful Bible-believing scholar and worthy of serious consideration in his handling of the biblical text. And just as Ussher—relying on the internal evidence of Scripture—calculated a creation date of 4004 BC, modern biblical young-earth creationists rely on the same source: the Bible.12 In that book God revealed the true history of mankind, of the world, and of His work to redeem fallen man to Himself through Jesus Christ. As Christians, we understand the Bible is the inspired Word of God—God’s revelation to man. Since we understand the Bible is therefore the revealed Word of God, Robertson’s declaration, “And so if you fight revealed science you’re going to lose your children,” was a particularly ear-catching pun embodying Robertson’s own compromised position.

Besides misrepresenting the fact that biblical young-earth creationists rely on biblical authority—not Ussher’s—Robertson is confused about the secular basis for believing in a 4.54 billion year old earth. He claims carbon dating and the “carcasses of dinosaurs” make the case. Carbon dating, however, is not used by secular scientists to date anything to millions or billions of years: the half-life of carbon-14 is too short for that.13 Instead, secular interpretations of other radiometric dating methods are used. However, those interpretations are based on assumptions about the remote unobservable past, which by its very nature cannot be subjected to objective scientific testing.14 Billion-year conclusions about the past rely on worldview-based assumptions, and that worldview is a naturalistic (i.e., atheistic) worldview that attempts to explain the past and the origin of the world without God.

Robertson is blending a secular, humanistic, God-denying worldview with his inaccurate understanding of the biblical worldview to hatch a position that fits neither. Discerning youth and adults seeing through the illogical fallacies of such a position often walk away, mistakenly believing the Bible is neither true nor relevant. Yet the observable facts of science do not dispute the history revealed in the Word of God, as thousands of articles on this website demonstrate.

We are as concerned as “Michelle,” the mother who wrote the concerned letter read by Robertson’s co-host. Yet our response is to give biblical answers, to show that the Bible is not in dispute with actual scientific observations and really does explain dinosaurs.

Robertson asserts that the existence of dinosaurs in the Dakota’s irrefutably shows the earth is older than the Bible’s history covers. Yet the Bible does explain the existence of these interesting creatures. Dinosaurs were land animals created at the same time as other land animals on Day 6 with Adam and Eve. Some of each kind of dinosaurs were preserved on the Ark during the global Flood. Those “carcasses” Robertson thinks died “before the time of the Bible” were for the most part buried catastrophically during the global Flood described in Genesis. Those that survived on the Ark reproduced for a time and, it appears at this point, subsequently became extinct.9

The media and bloggers have been having a field day with Robertson’s inconsistencies and with what they see as the fundamentalists fighting among themselves. Robertson is not alone in adopting this compromised, inconsistent position. Many Christian leaders have done the same. As Ken Ham points out in today’s blog, one “reason that many atheists so love what Pat Robertson said is because they know when someone associated with the church compromises on Genesis, they recognize that this compromise helps lead people to reject the Bible as a whole.”

Dr. Tommy Mitchell points out in his detailed analysis of Robertson’s remarks,15 “The millions-of-years view, by demanding death before sin,16 challenges the gospel message17 itself.” While belief in a young earth is certainly not a prerequisite to salvation, a consistent biblical understanding of the reason we need the salvation provided in Christ does require it. We must therefore stand firm on the Bible from the very first verse, even when a prominent brother in the Lord and well-known humanitarian is involved. If we cannot show people that God gave us the truth about the perfect world He originally created and the corruption of that world through man’s sin, then how can we expect them to trust the truth God gave us about Jesus Christ and the salvation he graciously offers them through Christ?18

4. National Geographic: “Beauty of the Beast: Cheetahs on the Edge” and “Cheetahs on the Edge: Most vulnerable of the world’s big cats, cheetahs are also one of its shrewdest survivors

Can the world’s fastest cat win its race against the threat of extinction?

Even cheetah supermoms may not be able to rescue the world’s dwindling cheetah populations. International Cheetah Day—December 4—was the second annual reminder of the unfortunate impact several thousand years of history have had on wild cheetah populations. Fewer than 10,000 cheetahs are currently thought to survive in the wild,19 and only 76 wild Asiatic cheetahs are known to still roam the mountains of Iran.

Built for speed, the cheetah is the fastest land animal. Thanks to new photographic techniques, the cheetah’s sinewy strength and sleek muscular body have now been clearly captured on film. Seeing this masterpiece of God’s design in action, learning how cheetah supermoms are keeping their shrinking numbers alive, and understanding the creative efforts being developed to protect wild cheetahs should prompt us to applaud efforts to preserve this endangered animal.

A team uniting the efforts of a Hollywood action film crew with the resources of the Cincinnati Zoo and National Geographic captured this amazingly detailed, clear footage. “Running cheetahs have been photographed using high-speed cameras,” said photo editor Kim Hubbard. “But never has one been filmed with a high-speed camera moving alongside it at 50 or 60 miles an hour.” The crew used a high definition camera speeding on a sled down a 400 foot track filming at 1200 frames per second while remaining in sync with and zooming in on the five cheetahs living at the Cincinnati Zoo. The results, seamlessly combining views from several cameras, is a “must-see” at newswatch.NationalGeographic.com.

cheetah1 cheetah2

These images from the groundbreaking video filmed by National Geographic and the Cincinnati Zoo hint at the anatomical features that make the cheetah the fastest land animal. In every way designed for speed, cheetahs can accelerate faster than a sports car. “I’ve watched cheetahs run for 30 years,” says Cathryn Hilker, founder of the zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program. “But I saw things in that super slow-motion video that I’ve never seen before.” The must-watch seven-minute film from which these still shots were taken compiles three days’ footage of the five cheetahs at the Cincinnati Zoo—Sarah, Nia, Chance, Bravo, and Tommy T. Coupled with relaxing music, this film is a pleasure to watch. See it at newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/11/20/beauty-of-the-beast Image credit: “Cheetah’s on the Edge—Director’s Cut” by Gregory Wilson for National Geographic Magazine, newswatch.NationalGeographic.com.

One cheetah—Sarah—broke the world’s record for the standing 100 meter dash during the filming, with a time of 5.95 seconds. She often outran the sled. Cheetahs are designed for explosive speed. Their spines are flexible, their legs are long, and the unique semi-retractable claws on their feet are perfectly suited for gaining traction. The result is a sprinting cheetah with a quicker take-off speed than a fine sports car. The cheetah can cover over 25 feet with each bound and repeat that stretch up to four times a second.

Shifting our attention from Cincinnati to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, we can see that cheetahs, the world’s fastest cats, are outnumbered there by lions about 10 to 1 and by leopards more than 3 to 1. Infant mortality of cheetahs is high, and many females never succeed in raising cubs. In the Serengeti, several rare “supermoms” have been chronicled over the past 38 years for their remarkable reproductive success. They often simultaneously carry young fathered by multiple males—multiple mating being a way to maintain genetic diversity despite shrinking numbers.20 Some have raised cubs belonging to other females, and supermoms seem particularly successful at not only feeding their cubs with daily kills but also protecting them from the ever-present hyenas. Serengeti Cheetah Project’s Sarah Durant says, “I’m not aware of any other carnivore whose survival relies so heavily on the success of so few females.”

Competition from hyenas and other cats isn’t the cheetah’s only problem, though. In addition to the perennial problems of habitat destruction, heavy hunting for sport, and destruction due to concern for domestic animal populations, these animals have historically been too intriguing and popular for their own good. Tamed by Egyptians thousands of years ago, cheetahs became immensely popular as “hunting leopards” for the aristocracy in India, Iran, and Arabia. One Mogul emperor is said to have collected over 9,000 cheetahs. Now, those rare Asiatic cheetahs survive in the mountains of Iran but are seldom seen. Identifiable by their unique spot patterns, only 76 have been documented there in recent years, using hidden cameras.

The unfortunate popularity of cheetahs as exotic pets of the rich continues today, and lucrative illegal trafficking is thought to be a major threat to the dwindling number of cheetahs remaining in the wild. The Cheetah Conservation Fund, in addition to calling attention to the problem of poaching, has developed creative positive solutions that help humans and improve the quality of habitat remaining for the animals. They have encouraged Namibian farmers, for instance, to use specially bred livestock guard dogs that reduce predation by 80%, instead of shooting cheetahs.19

Evolutionists, based on unverifiable worldview-based assumptions, believe cheetahs evolved about 3 million years ago. Biblically, however, we know that despite the genetic bottleneck experienced by the cat population at the time of the global Flood, all the sorts of cats in the world today are variations of those on the Ark.

Researchers are attempting to determine how many created kinds of animals would have been represented on the Ark. They have recently published their initial results at Determining the Ark Kinds and Mammalian Ark Kinds. The numbers are even lower than previous estimates. Each kind of animal possesses a remarkable potential for variation within its kind. Evolutionists often publish reports about “rapid evolution in action,” but these reports are invariably based on observable rapid variation (diversification) within created kinds. These reports are reminders of the biblical truth that indicates the biodiversity we see in animals today developed in only a few thousand years.

The cheetah is an example of the diversity that has developed among cats since the cats with Noah disembarked from the Ark less than 4,500 years ago. We must hope that conservation efforts and the natural proclivities of supermoms succeed in preserving this endangered cat variety.

For more information:

5. Detroit Free Press: “Mound Road nativity scene will return but likely with atheists’ banner

nativityNativity scenes in public places have become the yearly target of those who demand that those around them refrain from mentioning Jesus Christ in any God-honoring way in their presence. Yet our constitutionally protected American freedoms allow these public expressions of honor for the Lord. Each year many public officials are intimidated into disregarding those rights, forcing Christians to appeal to the courts for protection. Image credit: cafemom.com at www.Examiner.com.

“Christmas isn’t a dirty word.”21

“No other federal holiday is blacklisted like Christmas,” says Liberty Counsel attorney Mat Staver. “It’s okay to say ‘Merry Christmas.’”21 Yet it is all too common for public officials and private business owners to be intimidated into trying to excise Christ from Christmas. That happened four years ago in Warren, Michigan, when the Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a threatening letter to the Macomb County Road Commission, and the city subsequently denied a permit for a nativity scene that had graced the Mound Road median every Christmas for sixty-three years. The Satawa family had placed the nativity scene there every year since 1945 when community leaders decided the display could be placed in the median, so the family filed suit claiming the permit denial involved a violation of their First Amendment rights.

The nativity scene will return next Saturday after its four-year absence. The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that the private display erected by the Satawa family each year is constitutional and that the city’s denial of a permit for it violated their First Amendment rights. The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States guarantees:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Though likely to be accompanied by a disparaging banner from the atheist group, the court’s verdict is in plenty of time for Christmas, and the display will soon be up. John Satawa says, “I’m very happy we’re able to keep Christ in Christmas. My feeling is, this is a great victory for Christians in this country.”

“Unfortunately some public officials mistakenly believe that censoring religious viewpoints from the public square is the safest approach, when, in fact, that violates the First Amendment,” explains Staver.22 Yet despite common opinion, even public schools are not legally barred from Christ-honoring expression in speech, symbol, and song. Liberty Counsel points this out in its December 4 press release:

Public schools are not religion-free zones. Classroom discussion of the religious aspects of the holidays is permissible. A holiday display in a classroom may include a nativity scene or other religious imagery, so long as the context also includes secular symbols. A choral performance may include religious songs. Indeed the majority of the songs may be religious, so long as the performance also includes secular holiday songs. If the students select their own songs, there is no requirement that the songs include secular numbers. Students may distribute religious Christmas cards to their classmates during non-instructional time, and students who are not required to wear uniforms may wear clothing with religious words and religious jewelry.”21

Not only does the First Amendment protect American freedom to publicly celebrate the birth of Christ, business owners should note that the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows 70% of Americans prefer to be wished “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”23

So don’t be intimidated. It’s time to take back Christmas.

For more information:

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Don’t miss Christmas Town at the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky, our annual free gift to the region celebrating the coming of our Savior into the world to redeem fallen man. The production includes a live nativity. You can stroll through a garden full of tens of thousands of dazzling lights. Dramatic productions in first-century style clothing highlight the point of view of key figures in the historical events surrounding Christ’s birth and share some of true history that escapes the notice of many today. Each year new features are added to Christmas Town, so even if you’ve been before, be sure to pack up the family, grab some friends, and come again! In addition to the many touching and informative indoor and outdoor displays and dramas, this year you have the opportunity to purchase a turkey dinner in Noah’s Café, a planetarium ticket, and a five dollar admission ticket for the entire Creation Museum after 5pm, which is staying open late for these special nights. And the popular first century marketplace is a great source for unusual Christmas gifts and tangible reminders of the true history of the season. See CreationMuseum.org/Christmas for details.

For more information: Get Answers

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!

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  1. www.dnr.state.oh.us/Portals/10/pdf/GeoFacts/geof06.pdf Back (1) Back (2)
  2. Kurt Wise, “Trilobite Eyes—Ultimate Optics,” Answers 7, no. 4 (2012): 26–27. Back
  3. Cincinnati—Built on a Fossil Graveyard Back
  4. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121202164325.htm Back
  5. www.biosciencetechnology.com/News/2012/12/Origin-of-Intelligence-and-Mental-Illness-Linked-to-Ancient-Genetic-Accident Back (1) Back (2) Back (3)
  6. News to Note, December 1, 2012 Back
  7. News to Note, November 24, 2012 Back
  8. Already Gone and Chapter 1: Already Gone Back
  9. What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs? and Dinosaurs and the Bible Back (1) Back (2)
  10. Why Shouldn’t Christians Accept Millions of Years? and Chapter 1: What Is Science? Back
  11. The World: Born in 4004 BC? Back
  12. How old is the earth? Back
  13. See Doesn’t Carbon-14 Dating Disprove the Bible? Back
  14. See Radiometric Dating: Back to Basics, Radiometric Dating: Problems with the Assumptions, and Radiometric Dating: Making Sense of the Patterns Back
  15. Pat Robertson’s Word or God’s Word: Which Will You Believe? Back
  16. Biblically, Could Death Have Existed before Sin? and The Fall and the Problem of Millions of Years of Natural Evil Back
  17. Good News! and The Gospel Back
  18. Good News! Back
  19. www.informante.web.na and www.cheetah.org Back (1) Back (2)
  20. Researchers track these genealogies by observing the animals and analyzing the DNA obtainable from their fecal material. Back
  21. Liberty Counsel press release December 4, 2012, www.lc.org/index.cfm?PID=14100&PRID=1259. Liberty Counsel, founded in 1989, is a non-profit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to protecting religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family. Back (1) Back (2) Back (3)
  22. Liberty Counsel press release, December 5, 2012, www.lc.org/index.cfm?PID=14100&PRID=1258. Back
  23. www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/holidays/november_2011/70_prefer_merry_christmas_over_happy_holidays_on_store_signs Back