News to Note, March 31, 2007

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint


1. ScienceNOW: “Planting the Mammalian Supertree

A story evolutionists have been spreading for years-that mammalian life diversified as a result of the dinosaur downfall-has been overturned, report scientists in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

The possibly overturned, long-held evolutionary belief goes like this: 65 million years ago, an asteroid impact in Mexico caused a mass dinosaur extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period. The end of dinosaur dominance allowed upstart mammals to flourish and diversify, leading to mammals’ current role at the top of the evolutionary tree of life. As ScienceNOW explains,

[D]inosaur fossils abound prior to that 65-million-year-old layer but are nonexistent afterward. Mammal fossils reveal the opposite: They are virtual no-shows before the impact and grow more and more populous after. The problem with all of these data, however, is they are incomplete and largely circumstantial.

So what has led scientists to reevaulate the old model? A group of researchers, placing their faith in the molecular clock and examining genes in more than 2,500 mammalian species, created a “‘supertree’ of mammalian evolution.” This new supertree indicates that the “real explosion in mammalian diversity occurred 10 million to 15 million years after the dino demise-far too long for the two events to be related.”

In other words, these two evolutionary models of the rise of mammals-one based on a uniformitarian interpretation of the Geology and the other on the new supertree-contradict one another. The article explains the pickle evolutionists are now in over the data:

That might not be the only uncertainty, however. Evolutionary biologist Lawrence Heaney of The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, says the diversification chronology suggested by the research requires that many lineages originated at times “vastly older” than the current fossil record can support-incomplete as it may be. The differences should raise questions about how precisely the molecular clock predicts the actual dates of origin of the mammal groups, Heaney says.

Of course, we’ve yet to hear any evolutionists rejecting the “evolution hypothesis,” even though this contradiction falsifies evolutionary ideas. After all, when the geologic column and molecular clock data line up in any way, evolutionists are quick to claim the compatibility as support for evolution. The fact that they don’t respond negatively when the data clash is a telling indication of the true basis of their belief in evolution: faith in naturalism.

2. LiveScience: “Ancient Lizard Missing Front Limbs

Evolutionary scientists believe a fossil found a century ago is an intermediate step between lizards and snakes. Allegedly 95 million years old, the fossil is all that’s left of a “snake-like lizard [that] had a small head and willowy body.” The fossil was “found” again in 1996 in a collection bin at an Italian museum.

The most notable feature of the lizard, however, is the disproportion between its fore- and hindlimbs. “Missing were all the bones of its forearms,” the article explains, “including the hands and digits found in modern lizards.” Evolutionary theory holds that snakes evolved when formerly terrestrial lizards lost their limbs after returning to the water. Thus, evolutionary scientists, led by paleontologist Michael Caldwell at the University of Alberta, concluded that this fossil is a “rare” example of such a transition. It’s also a surprise, as Caldwell explained: “For some oddball reason, the forelimbs were lost before the rear limbs, when you would think it would be the opposite.”

Of course, even if snakes really did evolve from lizards, this would in no way support the Darwinist contention that simple life led to complex life. Legless snakes would have lost information (relating to leg development) in the “evolution,” which is fully consistent with the biblical model. For further discussion of snake evolution, read Does this evolutionary claim have any legs? which discusses a surprisingly similar fossil find reported on just under a year ago.

3. BBC NEWS: “Monkeys’ Stone Percussion Studied

Professional drummers, look out-competition’s headed your way! Capuchin monkeys in Brazil have been observed playing stone drum-kits of sorts in response to intruders. BBC NEWS called it “fresh evidence that primates may have something approaching human ‘culture.’”

So what’s the real story? Dr. Antonio Moura from the University of Cambridge “describes how the monkeys, as he approached several groups of them, would first search for a suitable loose stone, then hit it on a rock surface several times in an aggressive manner.” On repeated visits by Moura, the monkeys’ stone-banging decreased, leading Moura to conclude that the monkeys used the stone-banging as an alert system.

In addition, Moura observed “adults and juveniles hitting the stones together without paying him any attention at all”-an indication that the adults were passing the “skill” to the juveniles.

But is the stone-banging deserving of the title “culture” or “social tradition,” as Moura and the article use? Hardly. Although we certainly don’t deny that monkeys are relatively intelligent animals, the idea that this stone-banging represents “culture”-described by Merriam-Webster as “the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education”-is simply an attempt to make monkeys seem more human and less animal, helping evolutionists emphasize the supposed evolutionary link between humans and monkeys. Actually, though, the capuchin monkey’s defensive stone-banging is just another protective behavior by an animal, similar to the defensive behaviors of other animals. And “teachability” is not unique, either, having been inferred from studies of other animals.

Even so, the evolutionary movement to “humanize” monkeys and apes is yielding results: a BBC article this week asks “Should apes have human rights?“ assuming an evolutionary link from the start:

Apes and humans have common ancestors but should they have the same rights? An international movement to give them “personhood” is gathering pace.

Take a look at the article for yourself, and see how evolutionism has cradled the idea that humans and animals, rather than distinct creations of God, are just all part of the great big evolutionary tree.

4. LiveScience: “Controversial Human Ancestor Gets Major Facelift

A new model of the skull of a supposed “ancient member of the human family” is more ape-like and less human-like than previously believed, reports LiveScience. KNM-ER 1470, described as “arguably the most controversial fossil in the history of anthropology,” prompted famed anthropologist Richard Leakey to claim at the time, “it […] fits no models of human beginnings.” The skull’s original estimated age was also cut nearly in half, from 3 million to 1.9 million years old.

Enter Timothy Bromage, a New York University anthropologist, who headed the team that produced the new model:

Bromage said the original reconstruction relied on preconceptions about how early humans looked that are now known to be incorrect. The result, he said, was a skull that shared several features in common with modern humans, including a relatively flat face and a large brain case.

The new conclusion: KNM-ER is now just part of the Homo habilis “gang”-Homo habilis being an alleged transitional form that creationist Professor Marvin Lubenow has referred to as “a mess.” This reappraisal should remind us how fickle apemen conclusions are-even as evolutionists’ search for a clear “missing link” goes on.

5. The Times: “Pope: Hell Is a Real Place Where Sinners Burn in Everlasting Fire

Pope Benedict XVI, speaking near Rome this week, reminded Catholic parishioners that Hell “really exists and is eternal, even if nobody talks about it much any more.” The Times of London reports that the pope’s comments were designed to “reinforce the new Catholic catechism, which holds that hell is a ‘state of eternal separation from God,’ to be understood ‘symbolically rather than physically.’”

This figurative interpretation relates to the creation event. Just as the creation account in Genesis (and many other references to creation) are written as historical narrative (indicating they should be taken literally), so also many references to Hell contain literal elements; for example, Christ Himself spoke multiple times of sinners being “thrown” (or “cast”) in the “fire” of Hell, in addition to using Gehenna, a very literal garbage dump outside Jerusalem, to refer to Hell.

Ultimately, with a system of understanding the Bible that makes straightforward accounts (of Hell and creation, for example) figurative, one must ask why such core doctrines as the Resurrection of Jesus are not also considered figurative by the Catholic Church and other denominations? Compromising on one section of the Bible invariably leads to compromise when interpreting other parts of the Bible. That is why a consistent, legitimate hermeneutic is so important when studying the Bible.

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