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A look back at 2008’s news—tracking the origins controversy out among the stars, here on planet earth, and in the culture wars!
Another year about to be over, and the creation/evolution controversy, and along with it the controversy between Christianity and humanism, have yet to be settled!
For the third year in a row (see 2007 and 2006), we’re finishing up the year by recapping the news stories and recurring themes that made significant headlines in the debate over origins, whether the topics were out among the stars, here on planet earth, or in the culture.
One of the biggest stories of the year centered on the Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Located beneath the Franco-Swiss border, the LHC is designed to smash protons together in search of a hypothetical subatomic particle called a Higgs boson. While a writer for Newsweek wondered if the LHC could “change our views of the universe and our place in it,” detractors worried the LHC would create world-devouring black holes and filed suit against CERN in Europe and Hawaii. But shortly after the LHC started operating, scientists hit a snag when liquid helium—required to keep the LHC apparatus colder than older space—started leaking out of the accelerator tube. As we said then, “physicists will have to wait until next year before ‘recreating’ the big bang (supposedly)!”
Earlier in the year, scientists hypothesized that they may be able to “detect time before the big bang,” thinking the universe’s Cosmic Microwave Background radiation might show how our universe “bubbled” out of another one. A prime indication of the idea’s ridiculousness was a quote from a study coauthor, who said, “Every time you break an egg or spill a glass of water you’re learning about the big bang.” Strangely enough, it feels to us like every time we do just about anything these days, we’re running into outlandish “scientific” ideas built on layers of unbiblical interpretation!
Another recurring theme in secular astronomy research was the continuing search for signs of life in the heavens. Finding none, evolutionists—who presuppose that life evolved—fueled their faith by finding (more) water and other biotic substances among the stars.
Among the candidates for future life that were given attention were distant galaxy Arp 220, Saturn’s moon Enceladus, a meteorite found in Australia, supposed star-forming region G31.41+0.31, and Jupiter’s moon Europa. But as we opined earlier this month, “Evolutionists seem to believe that observing the ingredients of life is evidence that those ingredients could self-organize. Taking this logic into the kitchen, couldn’t we say that since we observe flour, sugar, eggs, and the like, cakes are able to mix and bake themselves?”
Exoplanets (planets outside of our solar system) have become one of the hottest topics of late in astronomy, as secular “astrobiologists” search for Earth-like planets among the stars. This year, we covered Super-Earths and the search for Earth’s twin; planets MOA-2007-BLG-192L, WASP-12b, and “Vulcan”; and the first-ever true “sighting” of an exoplanet.
Yet all this time, we’re still learning about how special Earth and our solar system are. As we wrote in July, “[I]n spite of the evidence that Earth is indeed unique and that the existence of life on Earth is no mere accident, evolutionists cling by faith to their worldview,” and (separately), “Everything we learn continues to point to the fact that Earth and its astronomical environment are anything but ordinary—in fact, our planet and solar system are unique.”
Nearer to Earth, NASA’s probe Phoenix landed on Mars in May and proceeded to spawn several News to Note items over the following months. We covered Phoenix’s discoveries of ice,
As for most of Phoenix’s discoveries, we said in July that, “though [they don’t] prove the possibility of life, [they don’t] disprove it, either—and thus evolutionists use it as a basis for clinging to the hope that evidence of life may some day be found (and prove an evolutionary origin for life on Mars and elsewhere).”
Since Darwinists have yet to explain how life could spontaneously arise from non-life, they are increasingly turning to sometimes seemingly bizarre and untestable hypotheses to give them a menu of options to help keep their faith in evolution alive. Among the suggestions for where life came from were meteorites passing by neutron stars’ circularly polarized light rays—or perhaps you’d prefer diamonds treated with hydrogen—and then there’s an imaginative form of chemical natural selection. Evolutionists even extrapolated and described life’s “Last Universal Common Ancestor,” or LUCA.
But according to the scientists behind chemical natural selection, “The most important idea in our study is that there is no distinction between animate and inanimate.” On the other hand, we pointed out in August that “there is never anything illogical with or unscientific about trusting the authoritative Word of the One who was there.”
It’s the location where presidential candidate and evolution-backer John McCain sees the hand of God: Grand Canyon, a dramatic monument to the catastrophe of the global Flood recorded in Genesis. Of course, old-earthers know the Grand Canyon is far older than that and can even tell us when it formed, right?
Wrong—as we discovered anew this year. Amid the backdrop of a manmade flood of the canyon whose force cut through canyon sandbars more powerfully and more quickly than scientists expected—and a gorge near the canyon that was “devastated” when flooding burst through the Redlands Earthen Dam—the canyon was dated and re-dated.
Six million years old had been the accepted uniformitarian age for the canyon, but a team reported in March that 17 million years or older was a more accurate date for the western half of the canyon. A month later, a new team redated the canyon to 65 million years old, with the team reporting in March conceding that the new date could be correct!
Meanwhile, despite the old-earth dogma surrounding the Grand Canyon, secular scientists decided that Death Valley’s Gower Gulch and Idaho’s Box Canyon were the result of, in the words of a reporter describing the latter, “catastrophic outpouring[s] of massive amounts of water in a relatively short period.” Now what does that sound like?
Fish and turtles dominated the “evolutionary” landscape this past year, though we saw nothing worthy of the title “transitional form”! Turtle fossils ranging from one that was called “a shoebox full of crud” to others described “like the ones you can buy in the pet shop” to still others that were said to “raise more questions than they answer” (all labeled missing links) didn’t faze us—nor did other supposed cases of evolution in other reptiles (snakes, frogs, and lizards). The same goes with the fish “evolution” supposedly seen in Lake Washington, in Lake Victoria, and in fossilized form.
Repeating our tongue-in-cheek comment on the first of the turtle missing links (it applies to all such transitional forms), “Perhaps we’re being too harsh; after all, evolution is rooted in such controversial interpretations of sparse fossils and faith in the power of mutations.”
Engineers seemed more than ever to be turning to nature for inspiration, drawing on the handiwork of God to come up with advanced designs. Among the creatures copied in the growing field of biomimetics were honeybees, squid, spiders, sandworms, dragonflies, African fish, geckos, pterodactyls, sandcastle worms, swimming organisms (in general), and clams. Every one of them is a testimony (in some unique way) to the intelligent designs of the God of the Bible all around us.
Neanderthals—fully modern humans maligned as cavemen and portrayed as dim-witted because of evolutionary assumptions—made headlines repeatedly throughout the year. But despite reports that showed them to be just as advanced as other Homo sapiens, popular culture still mocks these humans as troglodytes and cretins.
We learned that Neanderthals traveled, weren’t fundamentally different from us in skull size or shape, ate vegetables and seafood, crafted sophisticated tools that were just as effective as ours, and may have even loved to sing.
At the same time, evolutionary ideas drove an attempt to reproduce the Neanderthal voice and an extensive mock-up (or was it a mockery?) of a Neanderthal woman. And—with the advance of science—someone finally raised the question, if we could bring them back, should we?
Misunderstandings about what the Bible teaches, what natural selection is (and what it can do), and even basic math abounded this year (as always), and we were able to point out a few of what were no doubt a great many of them in News to Note.
In January, it was actor Matthew McConaughey confusingly saying “God bless evolution” when announcing his girlfriend was pregnant. Two months later, those behind ABC’s news show Nightline were so eager to ridicule creationists that they committed an embarrassingly simple math error in the process. And, as always, we had to read (scroll down) and correct unbiblical ideas about how many creatures needed to fit on Noah’s Ark.
We even covered two misunderstandings as we reported in the same issue of News to Note, June 21: that the appendix is, indeed, useful and that evolutionists and creationists can account for flaws in nature!
It was a presidential election year in the United States, and the creation/evolution controversy had no small part in media coverage of the contest. Back in January the National Academy of Sciences was predicting “doom” if a creationist were elected president, and as soon as the Republican Party nominated Alaska Governor Sarah Plain for vice president, professors, movie stars, and doctors began the public defamation campaign as journalists closely examined her possible views.
The presidential candidates were far from immune on the topic of origins, and both Democratic candidate (and now president-elect) Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain avowed their belief in evolution, with the latter carefully noting that he also sees the hand of God in Grand Canyon sunsets. Apparently not wanting to be left out, sitting president George Bush echoed McCain’s comments in a candid interview a few weeks after the election.
The election was also an excellent opportunity to revisit the topic of race, with media outlets saying the same thing we’ve long taught on the subject, as well as the controversy over embryonic stem cell research (with the case against their use made all the stronger thanks to a breakthrough announced near the end of the year).
Two major movies—both billing themselves as “documentaries”—were released this year, each including a visit to the Creation Museum. But while the first “visited” in the form of a special preview showing (with a film segment showing protestors outside the gates of our Creation Museum), the second visited as a sneak attack!
The first was Ben Stein’s film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which hit theaters in March. Ken Ham even had an opportunity to chat with Stein, who praised the Creation Museum; Ham likewise was a big fan of Expelled (which is available through our Answers Bookstore, by the way).
The second film, on the other hand, was hosted by Bill Maher, no friend of religion or the Creation Museum. Maher had snuck into Answers in Genesis offices back in 2007 for a surprise interview with Ken Ham that made its way (in edited form) into the final R-rated product, Religulous. And we’re expecting more films to take unnecessary anti-God, antibiblical angles as the National Academy of Sciences teams up with Hollywood.
As for the Creation Museum, it had its 400,000 visitor earlier in the year and was the topic of an Associated Press article for its year-and-a-half anniversary (the AP article even referred to evolutionists who are “depressed” because of the museum). And despite being lumped together with Islamic terrorists—by a supposedly Baptist publication, if you can believe it!—and unilaterally “expelled” from a co-promotion deal with the Cincinnati Zoo, the Creation Museum has had more than 600,000 visitors in less than 19 months, with more exhibits planned for the upcoming year.
Although the anniversary of Darwin’s birth technically comes in February 2009, media coverage of the upcoming “celebration” began in 2008. While the Church of England apologized to Darwin, a pro-Darwin poll revealed that only one in five Britons had a clue that 2009 is Darwin’s 200th birthday. Darwin’s influence on the culture has been enormous, and atheist bus campaigns in both Britain and the United States are some of the latest reminders—along with the unbelievable firing of the Royal Society’s director of education.
Thanks for joining us for another year of News to Note, our weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint. We also thank our readers for sending in great news tips to help us stay aware of breaking news. We’ll be back next week with more coverage of the latest research!