1. The National Science Foundation: “Mutant Gene Responsible for Pigeons’ Head Crests: Decoded genome reveals secrets of pigeon traits and origins

Genomic secret of the pigeon’s crest shows the power of a single mutation to produce an explosion of biodiversity.

Everybody has heard of Darwin’s finches,1 but Darwin was just as interested in pigeons. He bred them, and according to UCSF evolutionary biologist Nathan Young, “The domesticated pigeon was just as, if not more, important to the evolution of his thinking about how natural selection worked.”2 New genomic information now confirms something he thought: domestic rock pigeons originated from wild rock doves.

“Darwin used this striking example to communicate how natural selection works,” explains Michael Shapiro, lead author of the study in Science. “Now we can get to the DNA-level changes that are responsible for some of the diversity that intrigued Darwin 150 years ago.”

bird1

bird2

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bird6Upward growth of feathers produces a variety of crests. Shown here, top to bottom, are a peak crest on an Indian fantail, shell crests on an Old German owl and an English trumpeter, a mane on a Dutch capuchin, a hood hiding the face of a Jacobin, and an uncrested rock dove. Image credit: crested pigeons—Michael Shapiro through www.nsf.gov and www.sciencemag.org; uncrested rock dove from wikipedia.org.

The pigeon is the fifth bird genome to be sequenced, after the chicken, turkey, zebra finch, and budgie. “Despite 100 million years of evolution since these bird species diverged, their genomes are very similar,” Shapiro says. “This will give us new insights into bird evolution.”

Shapiro studied pigeons because, being selectively bred for centuries, they exhibit an enormous variety of traits. And head crests are “one of many traits that we see in domestic pigeons that have a correlate in lots of natural species of birds,”3 Shapiro explains. This research has “shown a way forward to find the genetic basis of traits—the molecular mechanisms controlling animal diversity in pigeons. Using this approach, we expect to be able to do this for other traits in pigeons, and it can be applied to other birds and many other animals as well.”

Shapiro also believes the pigeon will be a promising model for exploring how new traits evolve. He writes, “The head crest phenotype described here, is constructive rather than regressive: Breeds derived from the ancestral rock pigeon possess traits that the ancestor does not have. Although adaptive regressive traits are important, the genetic basis of constructive traits in vertebrates remains comparatively poorly understood.”4

Shapiro’s team compared genomes from 22 crested and 57 uncrested varieties of the 350 known varieties of Columbia livia. All crested birds had a single mutation in the regulatory gene EphB2 (Ephrin receptor B2). None of the uncrested birds carried this mutation, which acts as a recessive trait in breeding experiments. Similarities in nearby genes suggested that “this trait evolved just once and spread throughout the species, and that the crest originates early in development by the localized molecular reversal of feather bud polarity.”4 Future studies of other birds (like woodpeckers) will be needed to determine whether there is a comparable genetic basis for their crests.

Crests are produced when feathers on the back of the head and neck grow upward. Embryologically, reversed feather polarity is evident from the earliest appearance of the feather placode. (A placode is a thickened plate of embryonic ectoderm from which various structures differentiate.) A homologous regulatory gene in humans has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer, pointing to the complexity and importance of genetic regulation in our Creator’s designs.

When a new genome is sequenced, scientists initially possess a coded message without a key. By looking for the genetic basis of distinctive variations, they eventually begin to figure out what genes in the genome code for which traits. Because our common Designer used similar genes for similar functions in many creatures, additional clues are available in more familiar genomes. With the discovery of the genetic basis for the pigeon’s crest, a trait exhibiting much diversity, researchers have gained a clue to decipher more of this genome and also the genomes of other birds. But they have not uncovered how new traits evolve or how birds supposedly evolved from non-birds.

Nature’s headline proclaims “Pigeon DNA proves Darwin right.”3 But knowing that Darwin’s pigeon model for natural selection has a genetic basis does nothing to build support for the notion of the evolution of new kind of animals. The mutation in the regulatory gene did not create new information but merely allowed existing information to be expressed. In fact, it is no great surprise that the pigeon genome is similar to those of other birds because they are all birds.

Natural selection is an observable process which, along with other observable genetic mechanisms, leads to variation within created kinds of organisms. But neither natural selection nor selective breeding can be the engine of evolution because mutations do not create new genetic information to “fuel” it.

Shapiro wrote, “The genetic basis of constructive traits in vertebrates remains comparatively poorly understood.”4 But despite his hope that learning how this “new” trait “evolved” will lead to an understanding of how new traits evolved among vertebrates, all that is demonstrated here is a genetic basis for biodiversity among birds. The presence or absence of a head crest is not associated with non-birdness, past or future. Turning off a genetic switch does not add genetic information to an animal’s genome or equip it to become a new, more complex kind of organism.

This research demonstrates how a single mutation can produce an explosion of biodiversity within a created kind. Shapiro’s comment that birds diverged from each other 100 million years ago is based on unverifiable assumptions and circular reasoning. Discoveries like this make it easy to see how much of the dramatic biodiversity we see in the world today has developed in the few thousand years since the end of the global Flood.

For more information:

  • Is Natural Selection the Same Thing as Evolution?
  • Has evolution really been observed?
  • News to Note, April 14, 2012 (genetic recycling)
  • News to Note, July 2, 2011 (speciation)
  • An Initial Estimate Toward Identifying and Numbering Amphibian Kinds within the Orders Caudata and Gymnophiona
  • Karyotype Variability within the Cattle Monobaramin
  • Mammalian Ark Kinds
  • 2. NY Times: “Rat-Size Ancestor Said to Link Man and Beast

    In fossils vs. clocks, both camps rest on a flawed foundation.

    In an effort to settle the evolutionary debate about when the ancestor of most mammals (the placental ones) evolved, Stony Brook University paleontologist Maureen O’Leary and colleagues have published a study packed with anatomical data and a significant bit of whimsy. The debate—“Fossils Versus Clocks”5 as Science writer Anne Yoder calls it in her editorial commentary—concerns the question of whether the earliest placental mammal evolved before or after the extinction of dinosaurs. O’Leary’s study stacks the deck on the “fossil” side with a mountain of anatomical data that ignores the “clock” side of the question.

    placental-ancestorThis is the little ancestor that should have evolved soon after the dinosaurs became extinct, according to the latest study in Science. This reconstruction of an insect-eating, tree-climbing, furry-tailed animal around the size of a chipmunk would have had all the ingredients it would take to evolve into all placental mammals to have ever existed, researchers claim. The problem is, however, that the evolution they imagine never actually happened. Image credit: M. O’Leary et al., Science 339 (8 February 2013):662–667 DOI: 10.1126/science.1229237

    placentalsThis illustration shows the “classical” version of the evolutionary story of mammals. In this scenario, the mammals that co-existed with dinosaurs were not the ones that evolved into placental mammals. At odds with molecular clock calculations that indicate at least 36 million more years would have been needed to produce placental mammals than the classical scenario allows is an anatomical analysis just published in Science. According to this study, the “hypothetical placental ancestor” didn't evolve until after dinosaurs became extinct. The study describes in detail what the authors think it would have looked like. Image credit: A. Yoder, “Fossils Versus Clocks,” Science 339 (8 February 2013):656–658. DOI: 10.1126/science.1233999

    O’Leary not only tells us when the ancestral placental mammal must have lived, but what it must have looked like. A closer look at the study with consideration of the assumptions on which it is based shows this is imaginative evolutionary forensics at its best. Unfortunately, the New York Times gave this study the importance of being a front-page, above-the-fold article, leaving the reader with an impression that some missing link has been found.

    The fossil record reveals that some vertebrate mammals co-existed with dinosaurs.6 However, given the absence of transitional forms, evolutionists have been uncertain whether these were bona fide ancestors of today’s ~5100 placental mammal species or just evolutionary dead ends. O’Leary’s team used a database containing 4,541 anatomical characteristics of 86 extinct and living species to construct a mammalian tree of life. In this way, the missing transitional forms could just be assumed to have existed in an elaborate game of connect the dots.

    By comparing the tree of mammalian life to the fossil record, O’Leary’s team determined the oldest legitimate ancestral placental was Protungulatum donnae. Protungulatum is a fossil found near the Cretaceous-Paleocene boundary. It is thought to have evolved very soon after the asteroidal catastrophe on which many evolutionists conventionally blame the extinction of dinosaurs and many other species. Protungulatum, however, is not the animal O’Leary believes started the whole placental explosion nor even an ancestor of the primate/human branch.7 That honor goes to a reconstructed composite.

    The fossil record not only lacks the transitional forms needed to complete the evolutionary picture, it lacks the little placental animal that presumably started it all. In the tradition of the 1966 television Grinch, who said, “If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead,”8 O’Leary’s team did just that. They “reconstructed the hypothetical placental ancestor”7 based on which traits the various branches on the tree must have shared to ultimately contribute to an explosion of mammalian biodiversity.

    As PBS.org notes, the study described this hypothetical ancestor in “breathtaking detail.”9

    The artist’s rendition of the furry insectivore is conveniently labeled with numbers designating which of the 4,541 traits produced its parts. Its anatomy is laid out in the Science study down to the position of its facial nerve as it exits the brain.7

    Of course, neither placentas nor pouches nor the soft tissues of the reproductive system fossilize (much less the facial nerve). Paleontologists note that modern egg-laying mammals and marsupials, which have a rudimentary placenta, differ from true placental mammals in their number of molar teeth. Using 4,541 anatomical characteristics, the team booted several mammals that appear below the Cretaceous-Paleocene boundary in the fossil record from the placental ancestral line. They calculate their “hypothetical placental ancestor” evolved just after the Cretaceous-Paleocene boundary.

    Molecular clock proponents calculate, however, that the oldest placental ancestor must have been on the scene at least 36 million years sooner than O’Leary’s team calculates. O’Leary’s study did not base any of their work on molecular clocks.

    So who’s right? The rock people or the clock crowd? We would submit that both camps base their conclusions on unverifiable presuppositions. And neither side has heard testimony from the most important witness of all.

    The two camps in this debate differ according to which set of assumptions they accept. As a result, they differ in their conclusions about when placental mammals evolved. Yet they have much in common. Both groups believe in molecules-to-man evolution. Both believe that complex kinds of animals evolved from simpler ones. Both believe that random natural processes caused life to spring into being, caused genetic information to pop up without a living source of information, and caused new genetic information to allow for upward evolution of new kinds of organisms to appear through mutation of existing information. None of this has experimental scientific support. Observational biology confirms that living things do not emerge from nonliving elements through random processes. Observational biology confirms that living things vary within their kinds but reproduce after their kinds.

    Evolutionists like O’Leary believe missing transitional forms—fossils of evolving creatures not preserved or not yet found—can be supplied by this method. In reality, however, many missing fossils represent impassable boundaries between distinct kinds of creatures. The evolutionary transitional forms supposed to belong in those gaps never existed. These gaps are consistent with the biblical record of Creation in that God created various kinds of creatures to reproduce after their kinds, not to evolve from one kind into another. Their order in the fossil record is due to how they were buried during the global Flood recorded in Genesis. Thus information from God’s Word reveals the true nature of gaps in the fossil record.10 Furthermore, there was no ancestral mammal. God created all kinds of animals about 6,000 years ago, and variations within their kinds have produced the biodiversity we see today.

    3. UC Berkeley: “New evidence comet or asteroid impact was last straw for dinosaurs

    Dinosaur demise now confidently blamed on Chicxulub asteroid, study claims.

    The most popular idea about what caused dinosaur extinction—presumably marked by the K-T boundary—involves an asteroid impact memorialized by the Chicxulub (pronounced cheek’-she-loob) impact crater off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The main problem with the idea, from an evolutionary point of view, has been that dinosaur extinction seems to have taken place 300,000 years after the asteroid hit. A study published last week in Science offers a comfortable solution by re-dating the two events to a statistically plausible coincidence.

    ChicxulubA 110-mile wide impact crater in Mexico records the violent arrival of a large chunk of debris from space at some time in the past. But even the latest dating method assigning it a precise date of 66,038,000 (give or take 11,000) years ago are based on unverifiable assumptions. Image credit: Wikipedia through newscenter.berkeley.edu

    K-T boundaryPaul Renne collects volcanic ash from a coal bed near the K-T boundary at Montana’s Hell Creek Formation. Yet even the most precise dating methods are only as good as the known standards against which they are calibrated. With no one around to document the millions-of-year age of his samples, even the “best” dates are built on worldview-based unverifiable assumptions. Image credit: Courtney Sprain through newscenter.berkeley.edu

    K-T boundaryThe geologic table is a list of the names of earth’s rock layers. Secular scientists think they were laid down over millions of years, but they have no objective standard on which to base that claim. Biblical history indicates they were laid down in only about 6,000 years. Many of the fossils contained in these layers were buried during the global Flood and associated post-Flood catastrophes. Based on the historical eyewitness account recorded in the Bible, we know that dinosaurs buried in the Cretaceous and other layers of sedimentary rock below this level represent many of those that died in the global Flood less than 4,500 years ago. And while there are billions of dead things buried in these layers, since dinosaurs and other air-breathing animals were preserved on Noah’s Ark, they did not become extinct until later, after the Flood. Image credit: www.answersingenesis.org

    Paul Renne and colleagues used a high-resolution argon-argon method on material from Haiti (thought to have originated from the crater) and from near the K-T boundary in Montana’s Hell Creek Formation. By then comparing the results and the statistical range of error assigned to each, the dates appear close enough to suggest the events they represent occurred at almost the same time—possibly as close as 11,000 years to one another.

    “This study shows the power of high precision geochronology,” says coauthor Darren Mark. “Many people think precision is just about adding another decimal place to a number. But it’s far more exciting than that. It’s more like getting a sharper lens on a camera. It allows us to dissect the geological record at greater resolution and piece together the sequence of Earth history.”

    Of course, even if events coincide in time, one is not necessarily the cause of the other. But this coincidental “precision” was just too great for evolutionary scientists and the makers of headlines worldwide to resist. Case closed: the asteroid was the dinosaur killer.

    Actually, even figuring out how the asteroid could have triggered the mass extinction of dinosaurs and many other species has been a matter of much debate with no consensus. These researchers don’t claim the asteroid was the only problem earth’s Cretaceous population faced. Renne suggests a million years of cold snaps triggered by volcanic eruptions in India had already upset earth’s ecosystems.

    “The impact was clearly the final straw that pushed Earth past the tipping point,” says Renne. “We have shown that these events are synchronous to within a gnat’s eyebrow, and therefore the impact clearly played a major role in extinctions, but it probably wasn’t just the impact. . . . These precursory phenomena made the global ecosystem much more sensitive to even relatively small triggers, so that what otherwise might have been a fairly minor effect shifted the ecosystem into a new state.”

    The idea that an asteroid triggered dinosaur extinction was hatched in the 1980s when Berkeley scientists Luis and Walter Alvarez noticed an unusually high concentration of iridium in rocks near the K-T boundary. Below it, in Cretaceous (“K”) rock, are dinosaur fossils. Above it—past the “K-T” boundary in the “Tertiary” (“T”)11 rocks, there are none. Evolutionary scientists believe the geologic column represents the time various animals evolved and went extinct over millions of years. Because dinosaurs and many other organisms do not appear above the K-T boundary, evolutionary scientists believe the K-T boundary represents one of several “mass extinction” events.

    Evolutionary scientists did not think the iridium could have originated on earth because they thought that over millions of years iridium would have sunk into a molten earth. Therefore, they looked for a space source, like an asteroid. The “smoking gun” to explain the iridium in the rocks seemed to surface in 1990 with the realization that the massive Chicxulub crater in Mexico appeared to be the result of an ancient asteroid or comet impact. Scientists believe a bolide—an asteroid exploding in our atmosphere—could have made the crater, supplied earth with a generous supply of iridium, and caused a large dust cloud to block out the sun’s light for long enough to cause many species to go extinct.

    Among other problems with this idea is the fact that there is too much iridium dispersed over the earth to be explained by the asteroid. The iridium in an asteroid would not tend to disperse over the earth. Iridium coughed up by volcanic activity would. Thus, the global Flood—which both the Bible and earth’s geology suggest was accompanied by volcanic activity—is a reasonable explanation for the iridium found at the K-T boundary.

    But what of the coinciding dates? Even high-resolution recalibrated dating methods must be calibrated against a standard of “known” date. And since no one was around millions of years ago to document the actual age of anything, the age of “known” standards are only guesses based on the same unverifiable assumptions as the material being re-tested. This standard practice of elaborate circular reasoning is of course clearly documented in the journal article and its supplementary materials.12

    The argon-argon method, for instance, suffers from the same problems as the potassium-argon method upon which it is supposed to improve. As geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis observes:

    The unknown samples have to be calibrated against samples of “known age” placed in the reactor (where potassium is converted to argon) at the same time. And how is the “known age” of the monitor samples determined? Usually by the potassium-argon method, or even sometimes by the argon-argon method! And sometimes the U-Pb method is also used. In other words, there is no objective absolute standard of the truly known real age of such calibrations. And thus the argon-argon method is just as flawed as the potassium-argon method. Furthermore, it is destined to give the required answers because it has been calibrated against itself!! Moreover, the very precise dates Renne reports come from statistical treatment of the age spreads obtained from repeated analyses of the same samples. Those “ranges of error” are based only on assumptions about the true ages of the monitor samples (or standards), but by what objective standard can anyone be sure those are the true ages?

    The researchers thus achieved an illusory “precision,” but not greater accuracy. No amount of precision can make up for the lack of an observable experimental scientific standard.

    Does the K-T boundary even represent the mass extinction of dinosaurs? No. The geologic column is not a record of the evolution of life. The millions of years assigned to it are based on unverifiable assumptions with the ultimate goal of providing sufficient time for evolution to happen. But even infinite time cannot supply the genetic information for life to evolve through natural processes.

    Much of the fossil record instead is a relative timeline of the order in which organisms were catastrophically buried during the year of Noah’s Flood. The dinosaurs and many other animals seem to disappear above the K-T boundary because the Flood and its aftermath dumped additional sediment on top of those fossilized dinosaur bearing layers after the places they lived were overwhelmed and buried.

    Does that mean they became extinct after the Flood? No. God instructed Noah to take with him at least two of every kind of air-breathing animal on the Ark, and this would have included dinosaurs. (For an estimate of how many animal kinds were needed, see Determining the Ark Kinds.) Later, the same sorts of things that cause animals to become extinct today took their toll on earth’s remaining dinosaurs. Biblical history and the Flood geology model based on it thus provide an eyewitness account of past events that explains what geologists find.

    4. Baptist Press: “Evangelicals: Benedict has been a ‘friend of life’

    Will the new pope recognize the full authority of God’s Word?

    Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement on Monday indicated he will become the first pope in six centuries to resign. (The last was Gregory XII in 1415.) Much speculation abounds as to what his replacement’s position will be on many issues, as the papacy has certainly wielded significant political and cultural influence for centuries, in addition to influencing what many people think about God and the Bible.

    Pope Benedict, like his predecessor Pope John Paul II, has been a staunch supporter of the sanctity of human life. According to Russell Moore, dean of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Pope Benedict has consistently taken a stand “for those whose lives are seen as a burden to society: the baby with Down syndrome, the woman with advanced Alzheimer's, the child starving in the desert, the prisoner being tortured.” Moore added, “These lives aren't things, he [Benedict] has said, but images of God, and for them we will give an account. When society wants to dehumanize with language: ‘embryo,’ ‘fetus,’ ‘anchor baby,’ ‘illegal alien,’ ‘collateral damage,’ and so on, Benedict has stood firmly to point to the human faces the world is seeking to wipe away.”

    Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler, however, made clear at the time of the pope’s visit to the US in 2008 that the most important issue at stake between Protestants and Catholics concerns eternal salvation. Mohler noted that the pope’s declaration that eternal salvation depended on the ministrations of the Roman Catholic Church—rather than on faith in Jesus Christ alone (as the Bible indicates, for instance, in Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8–9; 1 Timothy 2:5–6; and Romans 10:13)—had long been the consistent position of the papacy. Mohler respected Benedict’s sincerity but of course disagreed. 13

    Nevertheless, in addition to practicing Roman Catholics who consider the pope to be God’s spokesman, Mohler notes “that millions of people around the world gain their idea of what Christianity is from the papacy.” Therefore, it will also be of interest to all of us to see what position the new pope will take on the question of the historicity of Genesis.

    While it is unlikely any new pope would take a non-traditional position on salvation, it remains to be seen whether the cardinals’ selection will hold any different position on evolution, human origins, or the big bang. Pope Benedict’s position, best described as theistic evolution, has not reflected our Lord Jesus Christ’s recorded testimony regarding the historicity of Genesis.14

    Jesus Christ pointed people to the foundational book of God’s Word to settle basic questions about foundational institutions like marriage when He warned “Have ye not read?” (Matthew 19:4). Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God who certainly knew and knows all things, also treated the foundational book of the Bible as literal history. He referred to Adam and Eve as the first married couple (Matthew 19:3–6; Mark 10:3–9), Noah and the Flood (Matthew 24:38–39), as well as to Abel (Luke 11:50–51), Lot’s wife (Luke 17:28–32), and Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15). If Jesus Christ is the true head of the church, as the Bible declares Him to be (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:23), who is any religious leader to gainsay Him (though noting that the papacy would consider some accounts in Genesis as historical)?

    As we have repeatedly emphasized, of course, acceptance of a 6-day creation is not necessary (or sufficient!) for salvation. Rather, acceptance of evolution and/or millions of years undermines the reliability and authority of the Word of God in which the Gospel is proclaimed. In fact, it is in Genesis where we learn that man’s sinful rebelliousness against God (Genesis 3) is not only the ultimate cause of the suffering in the world today but the very reason Jesus Christ needed to come and offer Himself as “the Last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:22 and 45), sacrificing Himself for our sin guilt.

    Indeed, a complete reliance on the authority of God’s Word from the very first verse would settle humanity’s most vital theological issues, not only about our origins, but also about our eternal destiny and the provision God made available to each of us (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9) with Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.

    5. Telegraph: “David Bellamy tells of moment he was “frozen out” of BBC” and “BBC backs down on David Attenborough's climate change statistics

    Climate change: the watershed issue for two Davids

    A few years back BBC television viewers could enjoy both David Attenborough and David Bellamy bringing wildlife and plants into their homes. Both were (and are) extremely environmentally conscious spokesmen for conservation of earth’s resources. And both men are gifted with the ability to engage their audience and make their subject matter interesting and vital. But Bellamy says the BBC dropped him suddenly in 2004 after he expressed his opinion that the scientific consensus about global warming was “poppycock.”

    What of Bellamy? Soon after the BBC dropped him, he was ousted as president of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts. Nevertheless, he has continued to promote preservation, both of the environment for its own sake and for the sake of people who depend on it. He says he advocates a common sense approach, citing how a boy he’d encountered in botanically rich Sierra Leone died of malnutrition. “He died because we [humans] had gone in there and dug up the diamonds and chopped down the habitat,” Bellamy says.15

    The tide may be turning just a bit, though, at least for Bellamy’s fortunes if not for the dominion of the popular and politically correct version of the climate change story. Bellamy just received an invitation from the Duke of Edinburgh to speak at Buckingham Palace next month in the inaugural David Bellamy Lecture. Who knows, if Prince Philip gives him a platform, perhaps the BBC will let him back on the air?

    “I still say it’s poppycock,” Bellamy says. “For the last 16 years, temperatures have been going down and the carbon dioxide has been going up and the crops have got greener and grow quicker. We’ve done plenty to smash up the planet, but there’s been no global warming caused by man. If you believe it, fine. But I don’t and there’s thousands like me.” Incidentally, the UK National Weather Service, according to The Telegraph, has downgraded its forecast regarding global warming to say that by 2017 global temperatures will have been about the same for two decades.

    The BBC just backed off of a claim made by Attenborough in last week’s final episode of its Africa series that “some parts of the [African] continent have become 3.5C hotter in the past 20 years.” After a storm of protests questioning the scientific evidence of the claim, the BBC agreed the evidence is disputable and played loud music to drown out that portion of the program during its re-broadcast a few days later. Evidence actually indicates that since 1850 global temperatures have risen about 0.8C, they report, and the script for Attenborough’s program used a poorly documented and rather outlandish figure. The BBC said its own production team was responsible, not Attenborough.

    It is unfortunate when a popular and gifted teacher—and that’s really what TV personalities like Bellamy and Attenborough are whether one agrees with their various positions or not—are thrust out because of a non-mainstream opinion on issues like climate change. In essence, we see the same thing in American public schools when the academic freedom of teachers to even mention the controversial “scientific weaknesses” about climate change requires protection from equally controversial laws. We’ve written before about the Tennessee Teacher Protection Academic Freedom Act and Louisiana’s Science Education Act. Both of these laws and others like them have generated controversy not only because they allow scientific weaknesses of evolutionary dogma to be discussed but also the issues surrounding global warming.

    Dr. Andrew Snelling, who holds a PhD in geology from the University of Sydney in Australia, has pointed out that the debate over climate change is far from a settled issue even among secular scientists. He says, “There is a lot of controversy, not over climate change itself, as everyone agrees climate changes, but over the cause of such changes, specifically whether man has contributed significantly to such changes. I am personally aware of several secular professional scientific societies whose memberships are very divided on this issue, and the continuing debate is heated.”

    Neither educational programming nor schools should arbitrarily screen out the critical analysis of such “minority” opinions on issues like these just because they are unpopular. Keeping the media and the schools politically correct is no way to build critical thinking skills in either children or adult TV viewers.

    As Dr. Snelling points out, the questions about climate change are not so much whether it is occurring but whether man is the cause of it. Unfortunately, some of those who contend vehemently that climate change represents a manmade crisis base their views on unverifiable ideas about the untestable past. The answers for how best to responsibly care for the earth God gave us (Genesis 1) will not be found by silencing and ignoring those who disagree with the majority about complex scientific issues.

    And Don’t Miss . . .

    • The Bible, a ten-hour, five-part docudrama, is set to premiere on March 3 on the History Channel. An award-winning narrator and international cast should make this a quality production you won’t want to miss. More importantly, prolific TV producer Mark Burnett has expressed his wish to honor God’s Word by making it memorable for viewers, whether they already treasure the Bible or are unfamiliar with its rich history. He says, “If you know the Bible, you'll enjoy seeing the stories come to life. If you've never read the Bible, I think you'll love the stories. There's a reason the Bible is the most widely read book in the world.” Explaining the importance of the project to himself and his wife, actress and fellow producer Roma Downey, he says, “Nothing we've ever done, not Touched By an Angel, not Survivor, not The Voice, not The Apprentice, none of this could possibly compare to The Bible. To us, as a family, we love the Bible. This is not a TV show to us. Its images and sound and sacred text that people will still watch, way after our grandchildren are old people.” Because the Bible can certainly not be completely covered in just ten hours, the miniseries, which was largely filmed in Morocco, will focus on events concerning key figures such as Abraham, Moses, and David, compressing accounts as needed for artistic purposes. “In the end, what we've done is a meta-narrative, a grand narrative of emotionally connected stories,” Burnett explains. “We know we're not qualified to teach the Bible. We're qualified to be good television producers and storytellers. By telling these emotionally connected, big stories, hopefully millions of people will reopen their Bibles. It is our obligation to tell the stories as written.” Burnett has committed himself to making the series convey biblical history accurately, and our first look at a pre-release video clip of a 6-minute scene on Noah’s Ark and the Creation has us eager to see more. Be sure to put this series premiere—March 3—on your calendars now and encourage any of your friends who are perhaps not so familiar with the Bible to do so, too. See nrb.org for the complete program schedule and the official trailer.

    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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Footnotes

  1. News to Note, October 13, 2012 Back
  2. news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2013/01/with-genomes-pecking-away-at-pig.html Back
  3. www.nature.com/news/pigeon-dna-proves-darwin-right-1.12334 Back (1) Back (2)
  4. www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2013/01/30/science.1230422.full Back (1) Back (2) Back (3)
  5. A. Yoder, “Fossils Versus Clocks,” Science (8February 2013) 339:656-658. DOI: 10.1126/science.1233999 Back
  6. See News to Note, September 3, 2011 and News to Note, October 27, 2012 for example. Back
  7. M. O’Leary et al., Science 339 (8 February 2013):662–667 DOI: 10.1126/science.1229237 Back (1) Back (2) Back (3)
  8. From How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966):

    Grinch: All I need is a reindeer!
    Narrator: The Grinch looked around, but since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found. Did that stop the Grinch? Ha! The Grinch simply said.
    Grinch: If I can't find a reindeer, I'll make one instead.
    Narrator: So he took his dog Max, and he took some black thread, and he tied a big horn on the top of his head.

    Back
  9. www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/02/early-placental-mammal-described-in-breathtaking-detail.html Back
  10. God of the Gaps Back
  11. Many sources now refer to this as the K-P boundary, “P” referring to “Paleogene.” “Paleogene” and “Neogene” (above it) together make up the Tertiary period conventionally dated 65 to 1.8 million years ago. Back
  12. P. Renne et al., “Time Scales of Critical Events Around the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary,” Science 339 (8 February 2013): 684–687. doi: 10.1126/science.1230492 Back
  13. www.baptistpress.com/bpnews.asp?id=27845 Back
  14. Jesus, evangelical scholars, and the age of the earth Back
  15. www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/david-bellamy-i-was-shunned-they-didnt-want-to-hear-8449307.html Back