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News to Note, July 9, 2011

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on July 9, 2011
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Mega marsupial, Panzee and Nim, big black hole, bungled baraminology, the critical computer

1. The World's Largest Marsupial Found In Queensland

The world’s biggest marsupial found in Queensland

2. Chimpanzees Are Excellent Listeners

Panzee passes her phonics test, and Nim stars in a movie.

3. Black Hole Raises Questions About the Early Universe

Big black hole and its bright quasar raise questions about the early universe.

4. Can Evolution be Proved through Religious Teachings?

Bungled baraminology does not beat us at our own game.

5. An Israeli Algorithm Illuminates Biblical Authorship

Biblical authorship: what saith the computer . . . and should we care?

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • “Weevils can bring their legs into a weird position under their bodies,” and now we know why. Detailed X-rays of the legs of weevils have discovered the first known biological screw. The weevil’s leg can turn more than 360 degrees. Since insects already have a great deal of flexibility, evolutionary biologists have yet to determine what evolutionary advantage such a joint would provide. While one evolutionist from Case Western observed “that just about anything that is possible, insects will have evolved,” we would declare that anything man can think of, God as the Master Designer figured out first.
  • The pigmentation of extinct birds is being unveiled by molecular mapping technology. Synchroton-based X-ray diffraction—a technique recently used to document preservation of organic collagen and keratin in some fossils—has now been used to identify pigments in fossilized feathers. The technique recognizes the characteristic shapes of molecules and matches them to known pigment molecules. Trace metals1 help match up the chemical fingerprints. Dr. Phil Manning is excited about the “potential for unlocking the prehistoric colour palette” and adds, “This offers insight to the [biochemistry] that governed life tens or even hundreds of millions years ago.”2 Of course, since the chemical fingerprints match the present-day pigments, it seems that the same biochemistry governed life then as now. And the persistence of organic molecules for only the few thousand years since the great Flood is far more believable than the millions of years evolutionary presuppositions demand.
  • In the battle of bugs vs. drugs, are we using a losing strategy? An analysis of antibiotic resistance suggests that the effort to completely eradicate pathogens to be an example of “evolutionary mismanagement.” The intuitive rationale behind such an approach stems from the fear that surviving organisms might evolve into resistant ones. But because resistant pathogens already exist in most populations of microorganisms, “all-out chemical warfare” with antibiotics merely removes the competition and allows the resistant ones to thrive and reproduce. The author recommends, “The guiding principle should be to impose no more selection than is absolutely necessary.”3 His advice to study each infectious disease with this principle in mind is sound and describes the practice of many practicing physicians. However, antibiotic resistance actually has nothing to do with molecules-to-man evolution. The bacteria are still bacteria. They can share horizontally transferred bacterial genes, but they do not acquire the information to develop into something entirely new. In fact, mutants have lost information. Antibiotic resistance results from natural selection. See also Antibiotic Resistance of Bacteria: An Example of Evolution in Action? The Role of Genomic Islands, Mutation, and Displacement in the Origin of Bacterial Pathogenicity, and The Genesis of Pathogenic E. coli.
  • The Wildlife Society’s recent bulletin carries a scathing and inaccurate anti-creationist diatribe. Proclaiming “evolutionary theory [to be] the fundamental basis for all of modern biology,” the society’s director says evolution is “testable using the scientific method.” It is easy to see why he thinks evolution is testable, for the “highly relevant” examples he lists are merely examples of natural selection. Creationists and evolutionists agree that natural selection shapes the biological world. But evolutionists believe natural selection leads to the development of new kinds of creatures and explains the origin of all living things. Blaming “the failure of the U.S. educational system” on public reluctance to accept evolution, the Wildlife Society wants to keep all “faith-based doctrines” out of public school science classes. Too bad they do not realize that evolutionary dogma is as faith-based as any other idea about origins.
  • Researchers have discovered how single-celled organisms recognize each other. Many microorganisms contain genetic information enabling them to transform into a cooperative colonial form. Cells in such colonies often exhibit sacrificial behavior which benefits the group. The social amoeba has a lock-and-key type of protein embedded in its membrane. This protein allows the amoeba to recognize others like itself. “As long as they have a shared lock and key set, then they can aggregate.” The protein has no other function within the cell. And the protein is not the same kind of recognition molecule found in cells of multicellular organisms, eliminating it as a candidate for evolutionary advancement. From an evolutionary point of view, cellular sacrifice for the sake of other cells is difficult to explain.
  • Fossilized compound eyes containing over 3000 lenses were recently found in Cambrian rock dated using the usual evolutionary presumptions to be 515 million years old. The eyes were found on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. The owner was nowhere to be found. But these eyes are the most complex yet found in rock dated that old. By comparison, horseshoe crab eyes have 1000 lenses and dragonfly eyes, 28,000. Evolutionary paleontologists conclude that sharp vision must have evolved very early due to the tremendous survival advantage it would have conferred. Alternatively, we would point out that God designed all creatures fully functional and equipped some creatures with sharp vision right from the beginning.
  • Bone density measurements of the thick fossilized skull of a goat-sized dinosaur called Stegoceras has confirmed the ability of the bone to withstand the impact of high impact head-butting. Because images had previously shown the skull to consist of “two layers of dense bone that encase a spongy sinus held apart by tiny struts,” some scientists thought the skull would buckle with impact. Now knowing that the dinosaur’s head could tolerate the impact, researchers conclude that its behavior included head-butting. We should be cautious about drawing conclusions about the behavior of fossils. There is no reason to assume that the ability to withstand head banging either led to head banging or evolved from a need to tolerate head banging.

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Footnotes

  1. news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/06/bringing-prehistoric-colors-back.html
  2. www.bbc.co.uk/nature/13965976
  3. 10.1073/pnas.1100299108

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