Evolution: Out in Space?
Evolution: Here on Earth?
- The theory of evolution
- The fossil record (and geology)
- Dinosaurs, mammoths, dogs, and more—oh my!
- The missing links
- The others
Evolution: In the Culture?
2011 is upon us, and as is annual tradition here at News to Note, it’s time to take a look back on the news of 2010 (as we’ve done for 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009). From the edge of space to Answers in Genesis headquarters in Petersburg, Kentucky, the controversy over origins, evolution, biblical authority, and the like kept us busy throughout the year providing weekly analysis and commentary. Below, we do the same for the year as a whole, piecing together the “recurring themes that made significant headlines in the debate over origins” (as we described it two years back).
(We’ll be back next week with more up-to-date coverage of the latest science news!)
Evolution: Out in Space?
Why are we here? (part 1)
Another year, another batch of wild speculation about the universe around us. From physicists wondering why they exist to the suggestion that our universe is inside a black hole, astrophysicists and cosmologists certainly couldn’t be accused of being unimaginative. Some astronomers searched for “ancient cosmic light” and the origin of space, while others suggested that perhaps there wasn’t a big bang after all. And famed physicist Stephen Hawking claimed physics shows the universe could have created itself from nothing.
What is out there?
The hunt for exoplanets (those outside of our own solar system) continued to gain steam, with the discovery of more inhospitable planets, including five hotter than molten lava. But despite the harsh conditions found on nearly all exoplanets identified so far—such as one planet whose atmosphere is being “eaten” by a star—one team of scientists suggested that there could be trillions of “earths” out there.
Scientists also located a so-called “Rosetta stone” planet, along with an “alien” planet thought to have come from a different galaxy.
Are they out there?
With so many planets out there, where are all the aliens? Evolutionists pondered the “mystery” of missing aliens both early and late in the year, puzzled why we still haven’t made contact with intelligent extraterrestrials despite decades of searching. But one report apparently missed the memo, insisting that evidence for alien life is “mounting daily.”
Undeterred, scientists continued to search the skies for signs of life, coming up with a strange alien signal and signs of water on an asteroid and on Saturn’s moon Enceladus—though others pointed out that not all water can support life. Some scientists even conjectured that aliens might live on Saturn’s moon Titan—or perhaps they live in the universe next door.
Mars was, as usual, a magnet for evolutionists’ hopes of finding evidence of alien life. During the year, we learned more about a once warm and wet Mars that may have had huge seas or a deep sea. Others suggested again and again that life might still survive on Mars, with far-fetched speculation claiming the next probe to Mars could find fossils!
And what would the existence of alien life mean for religion? Survey results suggested that Christianity could “survive” the discovery of extraterrestrial life, while the pope’s astronomer said he would baptize an alien. But Stephen Hawking warns against that—in fact, we shouldn’t even talk to aliens, the physicist says.
Why are we here? (part 2)
Naturally, the hubbub over how life might have evolved elsewhere in the universe was accompanied with a new series of guesses about how life could have appeared on earth through natural processes. While the idea of a life-spawning “primordial soup” grew cold, scientists theorized about life originating between sheets of mica. The alleged fodder of the first life ranged from transition metals to ribosomes to crystals to peptides; meanwhile, biologist researchers claimed to have found organic molecular feast on a meteorite, amino acids, and other precursors to the precursors of life-enabling molecules in space.
Human knowledge about biology expanded as well, from the discovery of animals that can survive without oxygen to the announcement of—and subsequent controversy over—supposed arsenic-based life-forms. And researchers at last succeeded in creating “artificial” life, though the engineered microbe is more realistically called an intelligent modification of pre-existing life.
Evolution: Here on Earth?
The theory of evolution
“Everything you’ve been told about evolution is wrong” and “geological history doesn’t support Darwinian evolution”—those were among the provocative headlines we unwrapped and answered in 2010. We also responded to the chaos theory of evolution, what the fossils say about evolution, those crazy jumping genes, and a mathematical proof that there’s been enough time for evolution. Evolutionists compared “hot spots” of evolution in chimps and humans, asked how feet (allegedly) turned into hands, and pointed out genes we have in common with the Arabidopsis plant. But most astounding was research that claimed that the probability of a unique creation of humans was 1 in 106000.
And—as we’ve gotten used to—we had to rebut report after report of evolution “in action.” We dealt with the “evolution” of cichlid fish, dogs, bats and whales, whitefish, hammerhead sharks, birds and mammals, fins into limbs, stickleback fish, lizards, lizards (again), lizards (and again), lizards (and again), killer whales, toads, and flies.
It isn’t just animals that are “evolving,” but also bacteria and even lifeless prions. Instances of microbes developing resistance to antibiotics were called evolution time and time and time again, although the evidence continues to support the creationist version of events. Even an increase in disease was blamed on evolution.
The fossil record (and geology)
It’s no surprise: there aren’t many young-earth evolutionists—we learned that this year, and we learned how rotting fish may cause bias in evolutionists’ interpretation of the fossil record. We covered news of the discovery of the oldest animal fossils and the mystery of tetrapod footprints found before they were supposed to exist.
Cases of remarkably and catastrophically preserved fossils abounded. We reported on a lizard trapped in amber, a dinosaur buried by a collapsing sand dune, a well-preserved spider fossil, remains of soft-bodied marine creatures, and an “ancient” shrimp that looks just like the ones swimming today. Researchers even recovered ancient mammal hair and pigment particles from fossils.
On the topic of geology, we reported on what may be another rapidly forming new island, and we told you the latest about a canyon catastrophically formed in Texas in 2007. One team of researchers came to the same conclusion as Scripture—that earth had water from the beginning. And the case against radiometric dating grew stronger.
Dinosaurs, mammoths, dogs, and more—oh my!
From dinosaurs to dogs, animals are a regular recipient of space in News to Note, and 2010 was no exception. Some scientists repeated the claim that birds evolved from dinosaurs while others asked if dinosaurs evolved from birds. Though we all know many scientists blame a catastrophe for dinosaurs’ extinction, some scientists suggested a catastrophe may have helped dinosaurs thrive (and perhaps the same could be said for all animals). We reported on the oldest known dinosaur embryos and footprints of dinosaur ancestors, as well as a strange “dwarf” dinosaur from Transylvania. And did dinosaurs walk like elephants, or more like ostriches—or both?
Why did the mammoths die out? Some scientists proposed another answer to that question while others successfully resurrected mammoth hemoglobin. The smallest of man’s best friends supposedly arose in the Middle East, and we argued that dogs are great evidence for creation.
Animal intelligence was, as usual, one of our favorite topics, with a variety of animals earning attention, including several we’ve written about in previous years. We learned about chimps’ “conceptualization” of fire, chimp grief, elephant brainpower, and—our favorite—those clever and crafty crows.
The missing links
Meanwhile, we judged more candidates for “missing link” status: “Sediba,” “Kadanuumuu,” and “Saadanius.” Out-of-favor missing link “Ida” was dismissed again, but supposed kin of “Lucy” earned some evolutionists’ attention.
Scientists also identified what is supposedly the oldest species of human in addition to the oldest modern human found outside of Africa. And the so-called “hobbit” bones from Indonesia received more media attention in March, September, and October.
Our Neanderthal and “cave-man” kin continued to be the subject of ongoing debates over their intelligence, age, and exact relation to “modern” humans. The evidence seemed, at times, to go both ways: Neanderthals were highly advanced, they made and wore make-up, their children developed quickly, and they should be classified as our species; yet their brains were more like chimps’ and maybe they weren’t so smart, some argued. Scientists also confirmed that Neanderthal genes survive in us, showing evidence of interbreeding.
Other human ancestors received more favorable treatment. We met “X-woman” and “Inuk.” We learned that how highly intelligent our ancestors were, the evidence buttressed by the discovery of etched ostrich-egg ornaments. Cavemen were not only not simple; they were “surprisingly sophisticated” when it came to making tools, as were ancient Britons.
Evolution: In the Culture?
Evolution vs. creation?
Gasp: did you know that major homeschool texts dismiss Darwin? A few evolutionists shared that shocking fact with the world while others mischaracterized creationists as an angry mob ready to riot at the Smithsonian Institute. Creationist views were attacked as “beyond belief” and disbelieving in evolution was compared to disbelieving in the existence of ancient Rome.
In April, creationist students were portrayed as ignorant dunderheads, yet it was creationists who were blamed for being the “bullies” picking on Charles Darwin. Speaking of Darwin, the British scientist was the protagonist of the wryly named film Creation, which debuted in the U.S. in January.
And World magazine ran a multi-part series (see part 1 and part 2) investigating young-earth creationism, along with an article on (mostly) young-earth creationist resources. But a young evangelical insisted that it’s time we “move on” from the creation/evolution controversy.
Science (or modernity) vs. religion?
The supposed conflict between science and religion was the topic of a major survey of scientists, with some interesting follow-up analysis, but one prominent evolutionist (representing others, no doubt) still insists that science and religion aren’t friends.
We also learned more about physically decaying church buildings and, yes, what it’s like to be an atheist minister. One academic claimed the whole idea of Jesus dying on the Cross is an unbiblical hoax. Other academics studying American culture identified four distinct “gods” that we worship. And the religion of druidism was officially recognized in Britain.
The media vs. Answers in Genesis?
The media was, unsurprisingly, no unwavering friend of Answers in Genesis in 2010. Our Creation Museum (and the region as a whole) was the target of scathing coverage from the magazine Vanity Fair, even though the museum received Northern Kentucky’s Star of Tourism award. The museum welcomed its one millionth visitor early in the year but allegedly causes “discomfort” for some visitors. Nevertheless, the museum continues to expand and surpass attendance forecasts.
We also stood at the center of attention again during the announcement of the upcoming Ark Encounter attraction—and then during the controversy that followed the announcement. And while we’re on the topic of the Ark, we covered the claim that Noah’s Ark was circular, as well reporting on the announcement that Noah’s Ark had (allegedly) been found in Turkey.
And Don’t Miss . . .
- The biblically based case for forgoing embryonic stem cell research gained further scientific support in 2010, with a major breakthrough in and further evidence of the production of non-embryonic stem cells and application of those stem cells to researching heart disease, reversing blindness, and fixing bum knees.
- Scientists continued evincing God’s design in nature, both by uncovering fabulous animal abilities and by attempting to engineer imitations of the natural world. Humpback whales, bugs with bifocals, amazing bowerbird eyes, and crocodile surfers—plus imitations based on plants and insects.
- The origins controversy continued to play a role in certain employment decisions. Bruce Waltke left Reformed Theological Seminary, David Coppedge was demoted at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and Martin Gaskell filed a suit over being denied a job at the University of Kentucky—all (allegedly) because of their views on the creation/evolution controversy.
For more information: Get Answers
Thanks for joining us for another year of News to Note, our weekly feature examining news from the biblical creationist viewpoint. We also thank our readers for sending in great news tips throughout the year to help us stay aware of breaking news. We’ll be back next week with more coverage of the latest research!