News to Note, August 22, 2009

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

on August 22, 2009

Non-life from outer space, the 150-million-year-old ink, Jurassic black box, and more!

1. Non-Life From Outer Space

Astronomers have once again discovered a “building block” of life in outer space.

Despite initial skepticism, NASA experts now believe comet 81P/Wild-2 harbors the amino acid glycine, an important component of protein (like other amino acids).

2. Prehistoric Ink

Scientists cannot only write about amazing fossil discoveries; now, they can write with one!

Paleontologists led by Phil Wilby of the British Geological Survey encountered an unexpected fossil find in Wiltshire recently: a remarkably well-preserved squid ink sac.

3. ScienceNOW: “A Pterosaur Comes In for a Landing

It’s “Pterosaur Beach,” the fossil imprint of a landing strip where a pterosaur once touched down.

Said to be from 150 million years ago, the fossil imprint includes many pterosaur footprints, but one in particular stands out. Unlike the rest of the prints, which show the left and right feet walking separately, step-by-step, one set of prints shows the left and right foot next to one another. Additionally, the toe prints are larger, as if the toes were dragged forward.

To University of California–Berkeley paleontologist Kevin Padian, that all adds up to a pterosaur landing. Padian believes the prints indicate the initial touchdown of the creature, followed by a second set of prints as it hopped to a stop, then lowered itself to all fours and walked off. And the feet-in-unison approach to landing is the same as that of the merganser duck, suggesting pterosaurs were able to stall their flight as they landed—a mark of “extremely capable fliers,” ScienceNOW reports.

If Padian’s interpretation is correct, it would indicate that God indeed made pterosaurs to be skilled flyers—designed right for their purpose. However, some scientists don’t agree with the landing-pterosaur idea. “Personally, I’d love them to be landing marks,” admitted University of Leicester paleontologist David Unwin. “But I don’t think you can rule out they’re swimming marks,” made as a pterosaur planted its feet upon reaching shore. We should always remember that any interpretation of fossil footprints requires one to speculate about the exact nature of the creature that made the prints. (See the actual prints that Padian interpreted.)

For more information:

4. A Trio of Speciation Reminders

The news this week presented three interesting stories that reinforce the creationist understanding of created kinds, speciation, and “evolution.”

5. Darkness Falls on Dark Energy

Though once a high-flying idea, the notion of dark energy has received another devastating blow from two mathematicians.

6. And Don’t Miss . . .

  • A USA Today article explains how a flash flood last year (which we reported on in August) changed the landscape in Havasu Canyon, a side canyon to the Grand Canyon (though the report mistakenly implies Grand Canyon itself was affected). The flooding created “a new landmark . . . known variously as Rock Falls, Emerald Falls, or Unnamed Falls.” One long-time visitor said of the area, “It’s way different now.” By the way, Answers in Genesis has helped run fascinating, informative, devotional, and adventure-filled Grand Canyon rafting trips for years—and you can sign up for next year’s now!
  • In its latest issue, New Scientist reminds us of some of the many things evolutionists have trouble explaining, such as true altruism and art. The magazine also errs in its discussion of superstition, classifying religion as superstitious behavior even though studies have shown religious individuals to be less likely to believe in superstitions (reported last September and last December). However, we must recommend (for philosophically minded readers, at least) an interesting piece on miracles that doesn’t fall in line with the usual so-called “scientific” (i.e., naturalistic) dogma.
  • Agence France-Presse reports that IBM and Caltech engineers are trying to replicate biology—specifically, DNA—to produce next-generation microchips. It’s another example of human designers implicitly giving credit to the Master Designer.
  • “The compilers of Genesis write that as soon as Adam and Eve realized they were naked, they sewed themselves aprons made of leaves from the fig tree, and that the Creator himself made them more durable skin coats before evicting them. But if Dr. Rogers and Dr. Stoneking are correct, humans were naked for a million years before they noticed their state of undress and called for the tailor.” Thus, a New York Times article prompts the troubling question, who is more trustworthy and knowledgeable: God or Drs. Rogers and Stoneking? The entire article, unsurprisingly, is based on the premise that differences between creatures (including humans) may only have evolutionary explanations.
  • World magazine reviews a new book on Genesis 1 that introduces “a false contrast between material and functional” to try to reconcile Scripture with old-age ideas. In that regard, the review is exactly right; however, the reviewer also notes, “Genesis 1 does not offer a description in modern scientific jargon [and] has a different focus from modern scientific accounts about past ages.” True; but if the reviewer is trying to imply that Genesis 1 is therefore not fully correct in the science it implies, we would counter that none of the miracles recounted in Scripture—including the Resurrection—are documented with modern scientific jargon.
  • The “unprecedented” speed of a fast-melting glacier has scientists worried about sea level rise. The speed of the melting suggests the speed at which the freezing could have occurred—a reminder that the post-Flood Ice Age could have begun rapidly.
  • Is human social interaction “rooted in . . . evolutionarily ancient processes”? That’s what one scientist speculates after learning that capuchin monkeys give more attention to humans who mimic their behavior. Why can’t such common tendencies toward affection and attention in many animals instead be a reminder that we all share a common Creator?
  • While we don’t agree with the dating schema, archaeologists have discovered sophisticated tools that push back the evolutionary date for the technique of heat-treating stone to 70,000 years ago or more. While it’s more evidence that our ancestors were intelligent, the scientists dismiss Neanderthals as not having learned the techniques. Yet just because humans today don’t all work in high-tech factories doesn’t mean that some of us are more highly evolved than others. A similar discovery announced this week concerns the ability of supposed “ancient” humans to hunt as skillfully as (supposedly) later humans.
  • Will proposed giant telescopes actually see into the past? Or, rather, will they simply see light from very far away—light that some interpret (based on uniformitarian assumptions) as having originated long ago?
  • We’ve written about intelligent crows frequently, but the Daily Mail profiles some intelligent pigeons that got their way with a water fountain.

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, 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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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.