News to Note, June 23, 2007

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

on June 23, 2007
Featured in News to Know

Isaac Newton’s faith, placental mammals, smart Neandertals, drug resistance, the amazing genome, and black plants round out this weeks News to Note.

1. Sir Isaac Newton: Physicist, Mathematician, Bible Believer

Sir Isaac Newton, physicist, mathematician ... Bible believer? Making headlines this week is a new exhibit in Jerusalem that, for the first time ever, gives the public a glimpse of documents that highlight the “religious intensity of a man many consider history’s greatest scientist.”

2. Taming of the Shrew['s Tree]

We’re not as old as we thought—or so paleontologist John Wible of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and colleagues have concluded about the origin of mammals. Opposing the date of 140–80 million years old that some scientists ascribe to our (supposed) oldest mammalian ancestors, Wible, et al., conclude, based on an analysis of a shrewlike fossil, that mammals evolved “only” 65 million years ago.

3. ScienceDaily: “Neanderthal Man Was An Innovator

Move over, ignoramus troglodytes, and make room for Neandertal man, the “innovator” who “was not as stupid as has been made out,” reports ScienceDaily (in not so many words). Despite the ever-so-common caricatures of Neandertals as dull-witted hominids who were supplanted by more industrious, intelligent Homo sapiens, so-called Neandertals have been increasingly vindicated from this stereotype.

Joining in the vindication is a new study by University of Leicester archaeology lecturer Terry Hopkinson, who argues that “early Neanderthals were devising new stone tool technologies and also coming to terms with ecological challenges [... as well as] combin[ing] old stone tool technologies in innovative ways to create new ways of working stone.” Hopkinson handily summarizes the view that (interestingly enough) creationists have been positing for some time:

“Neanderthals have typically been thought of as incapable of innovation, as it was assumed to be something unique to Homo sapiens. With this evidence of innovation it becomes difficult to exclude Neanderthals from the concept of humanity.”

4. Accidental Survival

It’s an exceedingly common “evidence” of evolution that this website (and this column) has countered on numerous occasions: drug (mostly in terms of antibiotic) resistance, which is usually construed as a proof of molecules-to-man evolution.

5. ScienceDaily: “Human Genetic ‘Deserts’ Are Teeming With Significant Life

Following on the heels of a similar announcement last week (see last week’s News to Note, item 2) is a report by the same group, Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (Encode), that “areas of the human genome previously thought to be deserts are in fact teeming with life,” metaphorically underscoring the new levels of complexity scientists are discovering in the human genome:

Most known human genes in the genome map are still incompletely annotated, says Professor Alexandre Reymond [...]. “We found that the vast majority of the protein coding genes we studied utilised often in a tissue-specific manner previously unknown set of exons [...] outside the current boundaries of the annotated genes,” Professor Reymond [said].

What does this seeming mumbo-jumbo of genomic discovery boil down to? Reymond breaks it down:

“I will be surprised if we do not find the same kind of variety in these structures,” he says. “Our work has shown that the human genome is far more complex than anyone could have imagined, even ten years ago. Understanding these complexities is essential to the development of effective and safe genetic medicine in the future.”

Reymond’s description of the almost ineffably sophisticated human genome (not merely more complex than anyone knew, but more complex “than anyone could have imagined”!) hammers home the depth of the amazing information-storing, -retrieving, -interpreting, and -manipulating system inside our bodies—a system whose origin defies explanation by improbable chance. One has to wonder how much evolutionary indoctrination has hampered research into the genome with fallacious ideas about so-called evolutionary leftovers.

6. ScienceDaily: “Plant Life On Extrasolar Earthlike Planets Could Be Black

A press release from Washington University in St. Louis speculates as to the color of potential extraterrestrial plants:

It could be the plants are black, says Robert Blankenship, [professor] at Washington University [...].

Unsurprisingly, Blankenship admits a sort of “collaborative faith” in finding extraterrestrial planets that may harbor life:

“I think that everyone thinks that there are Earth-like ones out there, but very few have been detected so far,” he said.

After explaining that DNA may not be found on other worlds, Blankenship adds, “It’s intriguing to speculate, and I think we’ll know more when we get more clues.” While we don’t mind speculation and imagination, it appears that this new field of exoplanetary exploration is fueled by little more than evolutionists’ faith that life has evolved on other planets—“just like it did on earth.”

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know 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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