News to Note, November 21, 2009

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint


Origin of (a) species, a blue moon, evolution (in)action, and more!

1. Origin of (a) Species

Scientists have watched as a new species is “born”—or is that “evolved”?—on one of the Galapagos Islands, home of Darwin’s famous finches.

2. A Blue Moon?

Kapow! That’s one small plume for man, one amazing new discovery for mankind.

Being the science geeks that we are, this story has all the elements of something we get excited about: spacecraft, a high-speed collision, and definitive evidence of water. Too bad the news reports don’t stick with the facts.

3. Dinosaur Apeman

We typically think of the “missing link” as an ape–human transitional form. In this case, though, the “missing link” is “big, short-footed, barrel-chested, long-necked, small-headed dinosaur.”

4. Slowing Down Evolution

Pathogenic resistance to antibiotics is a textbook example of “direct evidence for evolution”—literally. What does recent work on the topic suggest?

5. A Head Full of Magnets

Intelligent design means never having to ask for directions.

Turtles, birds, and butterflies had GPS long before humans invented the device. These creatures migrate thousands of miles each year to find food, to find breeding grounds, and to escape harsher seasons. Now scientists may be one step closer to uncovering how this animal navigation system works.

6. And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Could one species of African monkey, Rungwecebus kipunji, be from the same created kind as baboons (from the Papio genus)? That may be the implication of recent research that revealed what may be traces of baboon DNA in one Rungwecebus population.
  • Why is religion ubiquitous—is it because it “has the hallmarks of an evolved behavior, meaning that it exists because it was favored by natural selection,” as was argued in The New York Times this week? John UpChurch of Answers in Genesis will respond to the provocative piece in a featured web article in December.
  • Is the human brain shrinking? A LiveScience essay notes, “Surprisingly, based on skull measurements, the human brain appears to have been shrinking over the last 5,000 or so years.” We have not fully researched how scientists arrived at this conclusion, but if true, it would fit in well with the Bible’s presentation of man as created perfect—but affected but the Fall in the six millennia since.
  • Last week we noted the story of Abby Johnson, the director of an abortion clinic who had resigned after watching an abortion on an ultrasound machine. A reader sent in a report describing the “battle” Johnson now faces with the Episcopalian Church she attends, which (she perceives) is hostile to her new pro-life stance.
  • The fact that chimpanzees gesture primarily with their right hands suggests “another link between humans and one of the species most closely related to us,” National Geographic News reports. While chimpanzees are indeed intelligent (relative to many animals) and are similar to us in many ways, this discovery no more proves our evolutionary heritage with chimps than parrot speech proves an evolutionary connection with birds.
  • Australian and British researchers are studying insect wings as inspiration for “self-cleaning, water-resistant, and friction-free coatings for a wide range of machine components, construction materials, and other applications,” Nanowerk News reports.
  • We’ve previously written about erstwhile U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her creationist views—see the September 6, 13, 20, and October 4 editions of News to Note from last year. The former Alaska governor just released a memoir, Going Rogue, in which she offers an anecdote about her creationist views. Palin explains (according to MSNBC), “I believe that God created us and also that He can create an evolutionary process that allows species to change and adopt.” That sounds in line with the Bible’s teaching if by “evolutionary process” Palin means the working of natural selection to reduce genetic information in organisms, resulting in speciation from the original created kinds.

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Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, New York Times or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard 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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