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A Divine divide, nuanced Neanderthals, outdated science, “reliable” radiometric rates, a fossil “treasure trove,” and more in this week’s News to Note.
A recently reported study by meteorologist Carl Drews has suggested a way in which the waters of the Red Sea could have parted “naturally,” enabling the children of Israel, led by Moses, to cross as pharaoh’s army pursued (Exodus 14). Such an explanation might leave God with credit for the timing of the event, but little else.
New research concludes that, consistent with the biological evidence, the Neanderthals were quite human.
A seven-year study of two separate Neanderthal cultures in Italy (the study is to be published in the December issue of the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory) is “rehabilitating” the Neanderthal people’s image in the eyes of the world. While these cultures coexisted with a “modern” Homo sapiens population, the southernmost of the two Neanderthal groups was geographically separate and would have likely had no contact with them. Previous findings consistent with cultural innovations among Neanderthals have prompted suggestions that they were somewhat less-than-human and had cultures contaminated by the “real human” cultures. Now, the findings of all sorts of tools, ornaments, and hunting implements in a Neanderthal culture remote from conventional human populations demonstrate that they did not require exposure to a truly “sentient” species but had the creative ability to come up with the tools needed to cope with their harsh environment on their own.
A new study of the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), a virus infecting “almost all African monkeys” but not sickening them, has led to speculation about how long the virus has been around in its present form.
Creationists are frequently accused of ignoring “real science” in favor of their own agendas. Well, when it comes to embryonic stem cell research, the U.S. government, at least the present administration, is guilty of ignoring “real science” in favor of its political agendas . . .
Recent measurements of radioactive decay rates at Purdue University as well as laboratories in Europe gave scientists whose faith in the absolute accuracy of radiometric dating methods a bit of a jolt when they appeared to vary slightly at the time of solar flares.
Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, working with others from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and several universities, have now restored their own confidence in radiometric dating methods by demonstrating that neutrinos, such as those emitted in a solar flare, do not alter the decay rate of gold-198.
Efforts to discover variation in radioactive decay rates in the past century have shown none. Nevertheless, these experiments—of necessity—can only be conducted in the observable present. When we, as young earth creationists, point out that radiometric dating is based on several unprovable assumptions, including the assumption that the decay rates of radioactive isotopes have never varied, we are pointing to the possibility that decay rates may have varied significantly in the distant past, at times remote from the realm of observable science.
Thus, while the scientists at NIST can sleep well at night now knowing that solar flares don’t apparently cause alterations in decay rates but just alterations in the reliability of their instrumentation, there is still no way for them to prove that decay rates have always been the same. There is, in fact, mounting evidence for the idea that radioactive clocks “ticked faster” in the far past, yielding countless discrepancies between actual verifiable rock ages and those determined by radiometric dating. The huge ages calculated for the age of the earth may make evolutionists who think that “given long enough, anything can happen” comfortable, but those numbers are not really supportable when the data is examined with an eye to its uneasy foundations.
(Additional unprovable assumptions also haunt radiometric methods. See below for further reading.)
A study of 600 generations of fruit flies, just reported in Nature, sought to unravel the mystery of how advantageous mutations could become fixed in the population.
A new fossil find containing a wide variety of species of animals all buried together has been unearthed at a utility dig site near Los Angeles.
Of the 35 different species already identified, not a single claim has been made for a transitional form. The finding of the wide variety and number of creatures all buried together (about 1450 bone fragments having being recovered) is consistent with a post-Flood Ice Age burial by local catastrophic watery conditions, particularly given the occurrence in LA where there is so much else that is of Ice Age origin (e.g., the La Brea pits).
The fossilized creatures have been “dated by observing the layers of sediment they were found in and fall at about 1.4 million years ago.” “Comparison of the fossils with those from other sites revealed their age.” This claim should remind us of more problems with the dating methods: Carbon dating, being based on the radioactive decay of carbon-14 with a half-life of only 5730 years, could not possibly date any organic material at 1.4 million years, as the carbon-14, due to the mathematics of the situation, would have long since dissipated. Therefore, fossils are dated according to the layers they are found in, as these were. However, radiometric dating methods do not work on sedimentary rock, the kind of rock fossils are generally found in. Hence, even more assumptions are required.
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