News to Note, April 14, 2012

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on April 14, 2012

“Beautiful feathered tyrant” Egg-o-saurus Tennessee’s Teacher Protection Academic Freedom Act Genetic recycling Footprints in Texas

1. Gigantic Dinosaur Reportedly has Fossilized Feathers

Gigantic dinosaur reportedly has fossilized feathers, but don’t look too closely.

2. Orphan Eggs Offer Clues to Missing Parents

Orphan eggs in Cretaceous Spain offer ambiguous clues to their missing parents.

3. Tennessee Law Guarantees Teachers’ Rights to Teach Controversies in Science

Tennessee’s new law guarantees teachers’ rights to teach the controversies in science.

4. Sticklebacks Recycling Ancient Genetic Information

Sticklebacks said to recycle ancient genetic information in “an evolutionary blink of an eye.”

5. Paluxy River Tracks in Texas Spotlight

Paluxy River tracks in the Texas spotlight

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Researchers at MIT have demonstrated that “evolution in bacteria is very similar to that of sexual eukaryotes (which [unlike bacteria] do not pass their entire genome intact to their progeny) and suggests a unified method of evolution for Earth's two major life forms: prokaryotes and eukaryotes.” Bacteria are able to horizontally transfer genetic information and thus, through natural selection of bacteria possessing advantageous mutations, entire populations can obtain useful mutations. “We found that the differentiation between populations was restricted to a few small patches in the genome,” says researcher Eric Alm. Professor Martin Polz adds, “Similar patterns have been observed in animals, but we didn't expect to see it in bacteria.” What the group has demonstrated is actually the fact that bacteria, like multicellular organisms, only reproduce after their kinds. Thus, as variation occurs over time and the bacteria possessing the most useful mutations are naturally selected for survival, the bacteria remain the same basic “species,” only varying within their kind. For more information, see Antibiotic Resistance of Bacteria: An Example of Evolution in Action?.
  • Sheila Kennedy, Professor of Law and Policy in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Purdue University and former director of the Indiana office of the ACLU, finds it “incomprehensible” that only “thirty-nine percent of Americans are scientifically literate—or at least scientifically literate enough to understand and accept the operation and importance of evolution.” She considers this statistic as well as the existence of the Creation Museum to be “indicators of a nation in decline.” She also finds it incomprehensible that “very few Americans even understand the difference between scientific theory—an explanatory framework constructed after painstaking empirical testing—and a wild . . . guess, which is the conversational use of the term.” While Kennedy is correct that a theory is not just a wild guess, the “painstaking empirical testing” that supports a theory has not truly been possible for evolutionary “theory.” Why? Because it is impossible to actually test evolutionary notions of origins since such “painstaking empirical testing” could not be conducted, repeated, and observed by us in the past. Herein lies the difference between historical and observational science. Sadly, the bulk of her blog is devoted to a list of the marvelous achievements of observational science in the form of technology. It is somewhat incomprehensible to us that highly educated people are unable to discern the difference between observational science, which is the “science” embodied in the scientific method, and historical science is based on speculative untestable assumptions about the past, all of which are based on worldview choices. Apparently, the professor’s definition of scientific literacy is also worldview-based and worldview-biased. For more information, see Evolution: Not Even a Theory.

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