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In 2013, it seems that animals—ever a prominent theme for evolutionary biologists—have proven a marvelous showcase for God’s designs.
Looking back over the 2013 News to Note and News to Know articles to choose stories for our traditional year-end recap, it seems that animals—ever a prominent theme for evolutionary biologists—have proven a marvelous showcase for God’s designs.
God created all kinds of animals on Day Five and Day Six of Creation Week about 6,000 years ago. We have His Word on it! Then He created Adam, the first man, and brought many animals—“every beast of the field and every bird of the air” (Genesis 2:19)—to Adam to be named. Adam (unlike today’s evolutionists) could tell that he himself was not an animal. God then made the first woman—“a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:20)—whom Adam named Eve, meaning “the mother of all living.”
Thus began the story of the human race—with just two people specially created in God’s image. God made them in the same week He created all kinds of animals and plants as well as the earth and the universe itself (Genesis 1:14–19). And despite complaints by evolutionary naysayers who point out supposed human design-flaws in their misguided efforts to mock our Creator, the human body is exquisitely designed.
These scale drawings compare the size and shape of the crest on the adult and juvenile Parasaurolophus. Inside, the baby’s crest is completely filled with tubular passages connected to its airways, so the juvenile would have been able to produce a high-pitched version of the adult call. Image: Lukas Panzarin through Sci-News.com
God created all living things—by the power of His own words ( “And God said . . . ”)—to reproduce and vary within their created kinds. He required neither raw materials from outer space nor evolutionary time (Genesis 1:31–2:1). God reiterated this truth—that He had created all that exists in just six days—when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments, only a few thousand years later. Exodus 20:11 records God’s declaration: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.”
Because Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator, God’s perfect creation was cursed (Romans 8:20–22) with death, disease, bloodshed, and suffering. Thus, when we look to the animal kingdom to study God’s great designs, we also see how many have been affected by sin’s curse. The variations that occur within created kinds have included the development of many defense and attack structures, such as snake venom. Much of the fossil record is a stony memorial to billions of animals that died and were catastrophically buried about 4,300 years ago in the global Flood—God’s earth-shattering judgment (described in Genesis chapters 6–9) upon mankind’s pervasive wickedness.
Evolutionists this year tried to support a false human-animal connection by looking backward to “Sediba’s shadow” and by looking down—taking a close look at our feet in “Flexi-feet: Did Some Humans Fail to Leave Them in the Trees?” Evolutionists claim humans evolved from an ape-like ancestor that learned to walk upright and then progressed through a series of archaic transitions toward human-ness. Instead, genetic discoveries are consistent with the biblical history of humans descended from Noah’s family dispersing from the Tower of Babel to repopulate the world.2
Humans were created fully human and did not evolve from animals. Nevertheless, there is much we can learn from animals. From fleas to bees, genetic and biological discoveries in 2013 have unveiled many of God’s designs and variations that have occurred within the created kinds of animals in 6,000 years of earth’s history.
For the animal lovers among us, now seems a fitting time to recall just a few of animals that have helped us understand both God’s designs and the sin-cursed world in which we live. The irreducibly complex engineering marvel of the leafhopper nymph’s mechanical gears—the only known functional biological gears in the world—keep it hopping in sync as it bounds out of harm’s way. Dinosaur Joe, a baby parasaurolophus, had a head crest able to produce a high-pitched version of his parents’ call.
Coping with the environmental extremes in earth’s post-Flood world has been a challenge for many animals. Some, like mammoths, managed to cope with the cold but eventually became extinct. Others like the freeze-tolerant frogs discussed in “The Secret Lives of Frozen Frogs,” exhibit a complex array of adaptations tailored for harsh winters.
We opened and closed 2013 with venom. “The Many Faces of Loris” featured a venomous primate that takes advantage of toxic substances in its diet to produce a nasty nip that is discouraging to parasites and predators but not to persistent humans doing biological research. Venomous beasts don’t always win the day, however, and the variations that occur within God’s created kinds can produce powerful defenses, as demonstrated whenever a bark scorpion encounters a grasshopper mouse. Learn more about the possible medical applications of the mouse’s secret in “Scorpion Venom Is No Match for Mighty Mouse.”
Kaa, created by author Rudyard Kipling and animated in Disney’s feature film The Jungle Book, is an Indian rock python. Kaa is the same species (Python molurus) as the Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) but is a somewhat lighter colored variety. How could this tube-shaped animal hope to digest a boy or the even larger panther Bagheera, as he threatens to do? Snakes are able to engulf and digest enormous prey, and the Burmese python is perhaps the most extreme example, even digesting prey equal to its own considerable body mass. Geneticists recently revealed how coordination of thousands of genes make the temporary anatomic and metabolic transformation to manage huge meals possible for these snakes. Having learned how the snake genome makes all this possible, they speculate that the evolution of snakes must have happened very fast to produce such prodigious physiologic potential. Instead they have shown how variations within the kinds of snakes God created make it possible to digest large meals. Image: “Kaa” on Disney Wiki
By year-end, the genomic underpinnings of king cobra venom had been discovered. Genetic research revealed that its venom is a collection of chemical variants of non-toxic substances already genetically encoded for use elsewhere in the deadly snake’s body. Indeed, efforts to elucidate the evolution of snakes, the evo-origin of venom, and even the influence of snakes on the evolution of the primate brain have instead shown only variations that occur within the kinds of animals God created in the beginning, not evolution of one kind of animal into another.
Not all the great animal stories of 2013 dealt with defense and attack structures. In fact, some were reminders of the time before sin’s curse affected creation a time when all animals were vegetarians. For instance, “vegetarian piranhas” scraping vegetation off rocks pointed our attention to “pre-Fall perfection.” Highlighting another non-violent use for sharp teeth, we saw fruit-eating alligators picking kumquats for breakfast and smashing watermelons.
Evolutionists tend to look for an evolutionary explanation for everything, even human morality, intelligence, and culture. Their quest—while failing to demonstrate their claims—has turned up some interesting discoveries. Therefore we have examined the supposed evolutionary implications of many animal behaviors and abilities, including dog yawns, peacock mate selection, and bird braininess.
Bonobos raised by humans make less effort to console their peers than bonobos raised by their own mothers. They also have more tantrums. Evolutionary primatologists believe the apparent similarity of such bonobo behavior to the emotional difficulties of institutionalized human orphans supports a naturalistic evolutionary origin for morality. What we believe about God, morality, and human nature has eternal consequences. Read more about bonobo empathy and why we should beware of ape-based theology in “Do Even-tempered Empathetic Bonobos Reflect Human Evolutionary History?” Image: Z. Clay through www.bbc.co.uk
The apparent attempts of bonobos to “console” their unhappy friends have been cited as proof that human morality merely evolved. This proved to be an example of how personification projected into an imagined evolutionary past can gain ground even in peer-reviewed journals. We discussed the dangers of taking our theology from apes in “Do Even-tempered Empathetic Bonobos Reflect Human Evolutionary History?”
The search for missing links and transitional forms—while failing to demonstrate molecules-to-man evolution—has turned up some animal challenges to evolutionary tales. A remarkably advanced tyrannosaur showed up much too “soon” in the fossil record to fit into the evolutionary story of Tyrannosaurus rex. And when a fossilized grin “put a new face on the original jawed vertebrate . . . one of your oldest ancestors,”3 a fish found in Silurian rock—a location reminiscent of the fictional Silurians so familiar to Doctor Who TV fans—had experts in vertebrate evolution asking, “How did we get it so wrong?”
The latest answer to the long-running debate about the evolutionary origin of turtle shells—“Turtle in the Gap”—turned out to be nothing more than another fossilized variety of turtle considered in light of “Recapitulation Repackaged and Re-Applied.”
Fossils failed to document the transition from dinosaur legs to bird wing in a study demonstrating that bird wings appear abruptly in the fossil record without any evidence of the “classic major evolutionary transition”4 demanded by the dinosaurs-to-birds scenario.
Finally, claiming that the evolutionary mystery of flightless birds has been solved by proving that “good flippers don’t fly well,” researchers showed that flying birds and flightless birds are actually well-designed for their lifestyles.
Follow along with us in 2014 as we take a look at the latest discoveries that evolutionists will doubtless use (they suppose) to once and for all demonstrate that God could not have created. (Who knows what great divine designs they will discover in their efforts to keep a divine foot5 out of the door?) Meanwhile, please equip yourselves and your children to deal with the questions these claims raise in the minds of many. We wish you a great year of knowing and serving the Lord Jesus Christ even better than the year just past.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.