Are you abusing your children when you teach them that Jesus created them, loves them, died for them, and has a wonderful plan for their lives?
“Child abuse.” That inflammatory epithet—inappropriately applied to the practice of teaching your children about God’s truth—is part of Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss’s campaign to rid the world of religion, particularly Christianity. Krauss has applied the term to the teaching of biblical creationism to children. Dawkins recently reiterated his assertion that teaching children to believe in a hell or to believe the religion embraced by their parents is “child abuse.”
Though Dawkins has said (and written) all this before, he resurrected his now-famous “roast in hell forever” anecdote on April 21 at a speech for the Chipping Norton Literary Festival. Dawkins recounts how he once told a cheering crowd in Dublin that an American woman, raised as a Catholic, had told him that, after being told her dead non-Catholic friend would “roast in hell,” she experienced nightmares that were more difficult to recover from than an episode of sexual abuse. Therefore, Dawkins maintains that teaching children to believe in hell or telling them that they should accept their parents’ religious beliefs is not only abusive but even more permanently damaging than being inappropriately fondled.1
Dawkins says that telling children there is a hell is “mental abuse.” This misapplication of the moniker “child abuse” to “the teaching of that with which atheists happen to disagree” is not only a misuse of the term but also an insult to all people who have endured legitimate child abuse (physical, psychological, or sexual) throughout history.
Dawkins claims that we should teach children about religions so that they can understand literature, but that we should discourage them from actually embracing any belief. “There is a value in teaching children about religion. You cannot really appreciate a lot of literature without knowing about religion. But we must not indoctrinate our children,” Dawkins says, adding, “What a child should be taught is that religion exists; that some people believe this and some people believe that.”
While Dawkins spreads a wide net to encompass all religions—except of course the religion of atheism—many of his remarks here and elsewhere make it clear that Christianity is his primary target. (Be sure to catch our upcoming article next week analyzing a recent interview with Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss as they discuss their approaches to ridding the world of religion and how they hope their new film The Unbelievers will help them further that goal.)
Dawkins considers it “indoctrination” to teach children that God is real, that God created them, that Jesus Christ loves them, and that Jesus died for them so that they will not have to suffer eternal punishment for their sins in hell. Indeed, how could any parents that love their children and actually believe there is a hell to be avoided not teach their children their faith? Furthermore, biblical Christianity is concerned with far more than avoiding hell. Christians who have a strong relationship with Jesus Christ know that their faith is not just “fire insurance.” Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
As one journalist correctly observed, “Religious people, though, would argue that advancing Dawkins’ views on evolution and the lack of a deity would also constitute a form of indoctrination, especially if these elements are trumped as ‘reason’ and held above theological standing.”2 Dawkins is not at all opposed to indoctrinating children so long as they are indoctrinated to believe as he does.
In truth, even the atheistic belief that there is no God is a religion. Atheists claim they are non-religious, but they use their set of beliefs as a way to explain life without God—they worship and serve the creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). There is no such thing as a non-religious person—you are either for Jesus Christ or against Him (Matthew 12:30).
We want children to grow up with the tools they need to make informed decisions about the most important decisions in life. The very name of our ministry, Answers in Genesis, makes it clear we are not indoctrinating and brainwashing with blind faith, but providing reasonable, scientific, and Biblical answers for questions on origins.
Be sure to read a detailed analysis of this “child abuse” allegation in yesterday’s article “Is It Child Abuse to Teach Christianity to Your Children? Dawkins Thinks So.”
Computer model uncovers the zigzag evolution of bird bipedality.
Birds are bipedal, as anyone can see at a glance. Most use their wings to fly, but they never use their wings to walk. When birds walk, they walk on a pair of zigzag hind legs that position a relatively short femur (thigh bone) more or less horizontal to the ground. To walk upright, a bird’s legs must zigzag sharply to keep its center of gravity above its feet.
Bird bipedality contrasts markedly with human bipedality. The human center of gravity is above vertical legs. Bird legs, however, must bend sharply to support the heavy upper body with massive pectoral muscles and heavy wings when walking. Evolutionists wonder how bird legs evolved that strange zigzag. A computer modeling study just published in Nature purports to answer that question.
“It's more efficient to bear weight passively, in a straight line down your long bones [like] a pillar,” said lead author Vivian Allen. “In a crouch you have to use your muscles a lot more to resist gravity. Think about how much easier it is to hold something when you're standing up straight than it is when you are crouched down. So if you were designing an animal, this seems slightly odd from the perspective of mechanical principles.”3
Allen’s team computer-modeled virtual bodies for chickens, several extinct birds (Microraptor, Archaeopteryx, Pengornis, and Yixianornis), Velociraptors, Tyrannosaurus, and crocodiles (which evolutionists believe to be the closest living relatives to birds). They analyzed the biomechanical features of those animals and noted that bipedal animals with comparatively heavy upper bodies (like birds) tended to be crouched. This was true whether the animals in question were living birds, extinct birds that everyone agrees were birds (like Pengornis and Yixianornis), extinct birds that evolutionists have re-classified as non-birds (like Archaeopteryx), or extinct birds that evolutionists consider to be dinosaurs (like Microraptor). Animals with big heavy tails and less upper body mass (like Velociraptor, Tyrannosaurus, and crocodiles) didn’t crouch so much.
Having noted that each sort of animal in the study was well-designed to support its weight with just the right amount of zigzag in the hindquarters, Allen’s team concluded that the trend in zigzag legs was an evolutionary adaptation that enabled non-flying animals to evolve into flying ones.
“Our results suggest enlargement of the forelimbs was more important to the forward shift in center of mass than loss of the tail,” Allen says.
“The tail is the most obvious change, if you look at dinosaur bodies,” adds coauthor John Hutchinson, an evolutionary biomechanist. “But as we analyzed and reanalyzed and punishingly scrutinized our data, we gradually realized that everyone had forgotten to check what influence the forelimbs had on balance and posture, and that this influence was greater than that of the tail or other parts of the body.”
“One of the interesting things that our work shows is that birds could not have evolved these large forelimbs, these wings, without also having to make significant changes to the anatomy and function of their hindlimbs,” Allen explains. “Which makes total sense, when you think about it—everything is attached to the same body, so why wouldn't changing one thing affect the others? But still, it was cool to find that, and to have some actual numbers and stats to back it up.”
Does the timing match what evolutionists maintain about when birds evolved? They’re not sure, but Allen says, “There were gradual changes early on in dinosaurs, but we were amazed by how much the increase in forelimb size began altering the center of mass just before when flight may have first evolved in early birds and their closest relatives.”
Evolutionists also need to postulate some reason other than flight for evolving heavy pectoral muscles and powerful forelimbs, since the anatomy would have had to be in place before evolving birds could get off the ground. Therefore, Hutchinson speculates they may have found such awkwardly heavy forelimbs useful “for reasons other than powered flight, such as prey capture or negotiating complex terrain.”
Evolutionists who believe that birds evolved from dinosaurs and crocodiles have focused much of their attention on figuring out how these reptilian creatures could have gotten rid of their big heavy tails. This analysis focused on the question of how birds evolved the posture to support heavy wings and the massive muscles that support flight. And the researchers concluded that the evolving posture was even more important than getting rid of the tail. But what they actually demonstrated is that all the animals in question were well-designed.
The computer model’s ability to note that each kind of animal in question is biomechanically suited to support its weight in the posture it likely used to walk is fine evidence for “intelligent design” but is not evidence at all for evolution. Variations in common designs do not imply evolutionary ancestry. The evolutionary lines “connecting the dots” between these creatures are imaginary.
Bird posture is well-designed to support heavy upper bodies by positioning the center of gravity over the feet using what Allen considers an awkward mechanical design—a design that obviously works very well. In fact, that bird design has been working well for about 6,000 years, ever since God designed all the original kinds of birds on the 5th day of the earth’s existence.
Brain convolutions controlled by the same gene in mice and humans.
Human brains have the space to accommodate and process a great deal more information than the brains of animals because of the myriads of folds—called convolutions or gyrations—that increase the surface area of the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain responsible for cognitive functions, and experts believe the marked folding of the human cerebral cortex is what makes complex thinking possible. The brain is also folded in some mammalian animals but to a lesser degree than in humans. A study published in Cell (25 April 2013) reports that a protein produced in both mice and humans influences this process of gyrification (folding). Researchers believe their discovery could help explain the evolution of the human brain.
In developing human brain tissue, high levels of Trnp1 are associated with proliferation of neurons in the cerebral cortex. Low levels of Trnp1 are associated with growth of underlying supportive (glial) cells and folding of the cerebral cortex. Fetal mouse brains can be induced to fold like human fetal brains do by inhibiting the production of Trnp1. Image: R. Stahl et al., www.cell.com
This is a time-lapse series of cross-sectional photos of mouse brain in which folding is induced. It shows two small folds in I gradually fusing into a larger fold, as seen in I’’. Image: R. Stahl et al., “trnp1 Regulates Expansion and Folding of the Mammalian Cerebral Cortex by Control of Radial Glial Fate,” Cell, 153 (3): 535–549 (25 April 2013). Doi 10.1016/j.cell.2013.03.027 www.cell.com
Specific regions of the brain are associated with particular functions in both humans and animals. “Evolution of the mammalian brain encompassed a remarkable increase in size of the cerebral cortex,” the researchers write. “During mammalian evolution, brain regions were dynamically adapted by selective growth and expansion with a high degree of specificity. An impressive example is the expansion of the mammalian neocortex resulting in profound gyrification to accommodate an enormous increase in neuronal cell numbers.” They add, “However, the mechanisms regulating evolutionary changes in size of specific brain regions still remain poorly understood.”4
“The mechanisms that control the expansion and folding of the brain during fetal development have so far been mysterious,” says Professor Magdalena Götz of the Institute for Stem Cell Research at the Helmholtz Center Munich. While the folding pattern in normal human brains is quite consistent and related to the way information is stored and organized, the gyrations don’t appear until about the sixth month of gestation. Prior to that time, the human fetal brain, like the brain of a developing mouse, is fairly smooth. Further development of the human brain involves an increase in the number of neurons and a subsequent increase in the structural cells and folding.
Last year lead author Ronny Stahl and Götz found that a protein called Trnp1, produced by a gene of the same name, regulates the formation of brain convolutions in both humans and mice. “Trnp1 is critical for the expansion and folding of the cerebral cortex, and its expression level is dynamically controlled during development,” Götz explains. When Trnp1 protein levels are high, neurons proliferate. And when the Trnp1 levels drop, the structural (glial) cells proliferate and the developing cerebral cortex folds in a complex and reproducibly consistent way.
By examining existing pathology samples of human fetal neural tissue from 8–9-week and 17–18-week gestation, Götz’s team has now found that Trnp1 levels are already lower in the regions where folds are normally destined to form and high in other areas. Thus, many weeks before human fetal brains fold, coauthor Victor Borrell explains, the “instruction for something to occur” is already present laying the roadmap of the baby’s brain.
To test the regulatory power of Trnp1 on brain development, the team suppressed the expression of the Trnp1 gene in mouse embryos. Mice normally have smooth brains. But the mice with depressed levels of Trnp1 developed gyrations similar to those seen in humans. Thus, the team writes, “Beyond its molecular functions, manipulating Trnp1 levels in vivo resulted in dramatic alterations in mouse cerebral cortex development, culminating in gyrus formation in the brain of this naturally lissencephalic [smooth-brained] animal.”4
Borrell says that there is a popular misconception that “dumber species will have different genes,” now disproven because mice and human share a gene that regulates at least this aspect of normal brain development. Besides their hope that the discovery will lead to practical applications in the treatment of neurological disorders involving cortical development, Götz’s team believes that their discovery sheds light on the evolution of the human brain.
The assumption that human fetal brain development—with folding at about six months gestation—can give any clue to the brain’s evolutionary history is unfounded. Fetal development is observable. Evolutionary history is only imagined.
As with previous studies in which animals and humans are found to share various genes, we need to remember that such similarities between different kinds of living things do not demonstrate an evolutionary connection between them. Common designs—whether similarities in basic body shape, anatomical features, biochemical pathways, or genes—are exactly what we would expect from a common Designer who designed us all to live in the same world.
Furthermore, the controls for up-regulation and down-regulation of genes like Trnp1 are as much a part of the genomic information of mice and humans as the protein-coding genes themselves. Evolutionary biologists have still not demonstrated any way for the information to become a new and more complex kind of organism to randomly develop.
Startling admissions by gay activist and network commentator highlight the attack on the family.
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck this week discussed three major red flags for the rights of the family. His program propelled remarks by gay activist Masha Gessen to “viral” status. In the speech, Gessen revealed the true (though not surprising) nature of the gay marriage agenda.
Beck opened his discussion of the attack on the family by explaining how the Obama Administration’s current attempt to deport the Romeike family is a troubling attack on American freedom of religion and the rights of all parents to direct the upbringing of their children.
Referring to last week’s hearing of the case against the Romeikes, Beck said, “Last week the federal government made a case in court against amnesty for a family that is here” to “escape religious persecution” and explained “if they go back to Germany they will lose their children because they want to homeschool.” Beck made it clear that our federal government is essentially saying that it is “not a basic human right to be able to teach your children what you believe.”
Beck then played the now-familiar MSNBC promo in which liberal political commentator Melissa Harris-Perry asserted that we should develop “a very collective notion of ‘these are our children.’” She said, “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to their whole communities.”5
In attempting to defend her position, incidentally, Harris-Perry later said that she was simply opposing the idea that children are the parents’ property,6 but the context of the promotional spot had nothing to do with children being property. It was instead clearly about with the rights of parents to have the final say in the upbringing of the children, with emphasis on the public education system.
Finally, Beck gave gay activist Masha Gessen the “opportunity” to announce to the world that the gay community in general has been lying about its desire for the rights to gay marriage. In an excerpt from her May 2012 speech to a LGBT crowd, Gessen made it clear that the gay community does not want the right to marry but rather wants to abolish marriage altogether. She further said that the gay community’s public reassurance that granting the right of gay marriage would not change the institution of traditional marriage for those that want it is “a lie.” She said that the whole idea is to destroy the traditional family.
Beck pointed out that the gay community’s push to get the right to marry is really, as Gessen admits, a deceptive ploy to use the power of government to make it illegal for any church to refuse to marry homosexual couples. Gessen said:
I agree it’s a no-brainer that we should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. . . . That causes my brain some trouble, and part of it why it causes me trouble is because fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we’re going to do with marriage when we get there, you know, because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change and it should change. And again I don’t think it should exist. And I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life.
As Beck points out, these three ideas all represent aspects of the same problem. They are all attacks on the institution of family. God ordained the original family when He created Adam and Eve. Despite the family distortions and failures of many cultures and individuals—including biblical ones that should have known better—God continued to defend the family as the best arrangement for raising children through the end of the Old Testament era (Malachi 2:15) and through the time of Christ (Matthew 19:4–6) and of the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 6:4; 1 Timothy 5:8). The family isn’t perfect because people are sinful. But we must all oppose, wherever possible, the attack on the traditional family and on parental rights. Subversion of parental rights to teach their own children as they see fit will ultimately leave it to liberal government officials, liberal educators, and liberal activists to imbue children with their notions of morality and to keep countless children from learning what the Bible teaches about the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Fish fins appear paired too early in the fossil record.
A jawless fish from Devonian rock has paired fins where even modern fish do not. Evolutionists, like The Incredible Mr. Limpet of movie fame, believe fish evolved into terrestrial vertebrates and eventually into us. Though now forced to slightly rework their ideas about the sequence of events, they suggest that we can thank this early jawless fish’s experimentation for the fact that we have right and left versions of our arms and legs.
Euphanerops longaevus fossils from Quebec’s Miguasha National Park are from rock layers conventionally dated at 370 million years. Evolutionists believe this is the time that jawless and jawed fish diverged from a common evolutionary ancestor. They believe the latter, the jawed fish, were the evolutionary ancestors of modern terrestrial vertebrates such as humans.
Paired fins—pectoral fins and pelvic fins—are generally thought by evolutionists to be the predecessors of vertebrate legs. But neither extinct nor modern jawed fish have paired anal fins. Therefore, though they don’t know what purpose the pairing of the anal fins served, they conclude that Euphanerops represents a bit of evolutionary trial and error, trying out a different location for paired appendages.
“Euphanerops is unique because its anal fin is paired, meaning there is one fin on each side of the fish. Up until now anal fins have only been seen on jawed fish where they are unpaired, and this is true of both extinct and modern fish,” says paleontologist Robert Sansom, co-author of a paper in Biology Letters. “The age of Euphanerops is important as it dates from the time of a deep evolutionary split between jawed and jawless fish, the two main divisions of vertebrates alive today. As such, it represents an important stage in the evolution of paired appendages.”
Euphanerops was discovered in 1900 and noted to have an unusual anal fin. But the fact that these flattened fossils actually have paired anal fins was unsuspected until the British team of investigators subjected 36 of the fish to 3D scans.
“It’s not clear why the fins are positioned so far back on the fish, or what advantage they might have provided. However, they do show that our early vertebrate ancestors tried out lots of different body plans before settling on two arms and two legs. If they hadn’t, then our bodies would have looked very different,” explains Sansom.
“Rather than gradual acquisition of complex characteristics, maybe there was a bit more experimentation and odd acquisitions,”7 Sansom explains. He says this exciting discovery “lends support to the idea that there was some degree of developmental and evolutionary experimentation in some [Devonian] fish. The discovery of new anatomical conditions will hopefully shed more light on the timing and sequence of the events underlying the origin and diversification of vertebrate appendages.”
While the three-dimensional imaging of this extinct jawless fish has indeed demonstrated more about the anatomical diversity of jawless fish, it has not—with all due respect to the memory of Don Knotts8—revealed anything about human ancestry. The predominance of marine organisms in deeper fossil layers (including the Devonian) is explained by the global Flood, the turbulence of which would have catastrophically buried billions of marine organisms in its early stages. The order of organisms in much of the fossil record reflects the order of burial during the global Flood. (See Chapter 31: Doesn’t the Order of Fossils in the Rock Record Favor Long Ages? to learn more.)
The fossil record is not a record of millions of years of evolution; it also does not contain the transitional forms that evolutionary beliefs demand must exist. Furthermore, no observed mechanism in biology has demonstrated any way for the anatomy of fish to be transformed into the very different anatomy required for locomotion on land. (Read more about this in the articles mentioned below.)
God created all kinds of fish on the fifth day of Creation week, and each was able to reproduce after its kind. The very next day He created the land animals and man. God did not create terrestrial vertebrates through random or directed evolution, and we have His own eyewitness testimony about that time of origins in the Bible. God did all this about 6,000 years ago, a time easily gleaned from the interlocked years of the biblical genealogies. Observable science is consistent with God’s record of Creation and of the global Flood, the millions of years dates being derived from unverifiable untestable assumptions that are inconsistent with recorded history.
Microbiologist and author Alex Berezow took angry atheist P.Z Myers to task in his column “The Very Strange World of PZ Myers.” Berezow—who is not a creationist—bashes Myers for not only his vulgarity but especially for his religious bigotry and blatant errors. Berezow notes, “Dr. Myers’ animosity toward religion also taints his understanding of historical fact.” He quotes an agnostic New Testament scholar who says that Myers’ claims are “amateurish” and “driven by an ideological agenda.” Berezow further describes how PZ Myers’ don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts-I’ve-already-made-up-my-mind attitude even blinds him to basic medical science: Myers maintains that circumcision is only “ritualized child abuse” despite the well-researched position of the American Academy of Pediatrics that the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks. Berezow concludes by taking Myers to task ultimately for causing laypeople to avoid science by portraying it as the exclusive purview of “left-wing atheists” like himself.
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