News to Note, March 29, 2008

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

Featured in News to Know

The quest for the “God particle,” “apemen” men and “apemen” apes, and more!

1. Searching For the Higgs-Boson Particle

An article on one of the most important physics projects of the new millennium asks, “Will it change our views of the universe and our place in it?” Apparently the writer (and her sources) consider physics tantamount to religion!

2. BBC News: “Spain Dig Yields Ancient European”

Researchers have turned up the oldest human remains in western Europe—part of a jawbone in northern Spain, BBC News reports. The research is published in Nature.

Dated at just over a million years old, the jawbone was found near stone tools and animal bones “with tell-tale cut marks from butchering by humans.”

The find was at Sima del Elefante, one archaeological site in an area that has yielded significant evidence of humankind’s early occupation of Europe. Some have labeled the find as belonging to Homo antecessor, or “Pioneer Man.” Others, such as Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum, are “cautious” about that description without more material.

Once again—in contrast to the next item—we have discovered the remains of an “early” human that, while perhaps differing morphologically in slight ways from “modern” humans, nonetheless behaved intelligently—using tools, butchering meat, living in communities, etc. (That said, the morphological differences may even be a stretch since all that has been discovered is part of a jawbone.)

Since creation over 6,000 years ago, humankind has varied in size and skeletal structure; even today, the skeletons of two randomly chosen people could easily differ in a number of ways (even ignoring the possibility of disease or malnutrition that could deform the skeleton). We find human remains that may differ from the appearance of today’s humans, but the evidence of their behavior falls right in line with beings created in the image of God, descended from Adam through Noah.

3. First Walking Human Determined to be Six Million years Old

A new analysis of the bones of a human “ancestor” suggests it was the earliest known hominin to walk upright, reports National Geographic News.

4. Early Evolutionary Ecosystems Considered Complex

One of the most stunning reminders of the distance between evolutionary ideas and actual fact is the rapid appearance, in the fossil record, of advanced forms of life across the biotic kingdoms.

5. ScienceDaily: “Language Feature Unique To Human Brain Identified”

A team at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University has identified a language feature that only humans have.

The study, which will be published online in Nature Neuroscience, used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to compare human, chimpanzee, and rhesus macaques brain structures. In particular, the team analyzed a brain pathway known as the arcuate fasciculus, which connects areas of the brain involved in language.

Looking at the size and trajectory of the arcuate fasciculus, the team discovered that the human pathway has a “much larger and more widespread projection to areas in the middle temporal lobe.” Lead researcher James Rilling explained that, “In humans, it seems the brain not only evolved larger language regions but also a network of fibers to connect those regions, which supports humans’ superior language capabilities.”

This sort of news is ubiquitous: data that does not support evolution is nonetheless brought into the evolutionary framework. If structures between an ape and a human are similar, it’s hailed as evidence of evolution; if structures differ, it’s hailed as the work of evolution separating us from them. A Christian scientist, on the other hand, with an understanding of biology built on the Bible’s account of creation, can just as easily—more easily, in fact—see humans’ more prominent arcuate fasciculus as a result of God’s endowment of Adam and Eve with language, as they were both made in God’s image, whereas apes were not given language capabilities.

Not only does this study reinforce the biblical worldview, however—it reminds us of the faith required to sustain one’s belief in evolution, since one must accept that language, and the biological equipment behind it, evolved, ultimately, out of genetic mistakes. This is despite the fact that evolution has never been shown to increase the information in any genome.

6. AP: “Scientists Eye Squid Beaks for Artificial Limbs”

It seems squid may soon have a use to humans other than calamari, if research at the University of California–Santa Barbara is correct.

The research focuses on a squid’s beak, a sharp weapon squids use to attack whales. Yet researchers have long wondered how squids, which are boneless, wield their beaks, which are made of chitin and other materials, without hurting themselves.

The explanation offered by the UCSB team is that the beak’s density gradually decreases from the harder tip to the soft, flexible base where it connects to the muscle around the squid’s mouth. The decreasing density leaves the beak a potent weapon without rendering it harmful to the squid itself. Intriguingly, the density gradient primarily results from a varying amount of water in different parts of the beak.

Coauthor Herbert Waite, a professor in UCSB’s department of molecular, cellular & developmental biology, suggests the beak could inspire biomedical devices where hard and soft materials must interact. Echoing Waite are other researchers, including Ali Miserez of UCSB, who hypothesizes a prosthesis that “mimics the chemistry of the beak, so that it matches the elasticity of cartilage on one side and, on the other side, you could create a material which is very stiff and abrasion resistant.”

While the beak seems violently fearsome today, we know that it must have had a more productive purpose—presumably such as ingesting tough marine plant life—before the Curse. Even so, God’s brilliant design that hadn’t yet occurred to human engineers is now inspiring innovation—and we have the Creator to thank.

For more information:

7. Keep Expelled from getting expelled out of theaters!

Want a chance to win $1,000 and help show your friends the flaws in Darwinism at the same time?

As part of our run-up to the release of Expelled, we’re highlighting the Adopt a Theater contest. (Expelled is the Ben Stein-hosted film that examines how Darwinian dogma has a stranglehold on academia to the point that it’s stifling academic freedom. Though it does not specifically advocate creation, we believe the film attacks the foundation of evolution that has led so many to deny Scripture.) The five largest groups to go see Expelled when it opens in three weeks will win $1,000 each! Stein and company hope to have one thousand theaters adopted by groups who will give the film added visibility, encouraging many to watch the message and reconsider whether Darwinism is good science or dogma masquerading as established fact.

Even if you’re not planning to lead a group to see the film (opening April 18), make sure you see it yourself, and ask your pastor for the opportunity to promote the film in your church. We hope this film will help many unchurched individuals to recognize the bankruptcy of naturalism and perhaps reconsider the creation story.

Also, be sure to check back Monday for a full preview/review of the film.

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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