Top Ten Science News Items of 2021 (Plus Two Honorable Mentions)

The annual Answers in Genesis wrap-up of science-related news articles from 2021

by Web Content Team on December 31, 2021
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We had several great top science news stories during 2021; in fact, we had a hard time limiting it to just 10, which is why we snuck in two honorable mentions. We didn’t particularly see these in order of importance so went with a chronological order. Without further ado, we kick off the top science news stories with our January 30th article on why “New Genetic Information Proposals Fail.”

New Genetic Information

Evolutionists know they have a problem with creating new genetic information and have a four-pronged solution to this problem. The first solution is gene duplication. The duplication has no intrinsic new function, but evolutionists propose it can be given a new function through mutations. These new functions can come about through numerous proposed mechanisms. The mechanism the evolutionists would prefer is neofunctionalization (the process by which a duplicate gene gains function by mutation or due to the extra copy of the gene amplifying the effect), but such a mechanism is very rare. The problem for evolutionists is that no other mechanism creates new roles for the genes.

The other proposed mechanisms are more complicated, such as internal gene duplication, exon shuffling, and alternative splicing. Some of these mechanisms allow for different combinations of DNA that create different proteins or arrangements of proteins. None of them, however, successfully create new genetic information.

No “Boring Billion”

In March, Dr. Andrew Snelling’s article “Mountain-Building Quiescence in Earth’s ‘Middle Age’” critiqued the newest paper purporting to explain the “boring billion” period of Earth history,1. According to conventional dating, this is from 1.8 billion years BP (before present) to 800 million years BP. The authors studied measurements of the rare earth element europium in detrital zircon grains to track mountain-building processes through the earth’s history. Assuming uniformitarian time frames based on radiometric dating, the authors found that there was a period when mountains were being eroded so slowly as to drastically affect the amount of nutrients being washed out to sea. This then led to little to no biological evolution for about a billion years. Once new mountain ranges began forming following the break-up of the Nuna-Rodinia supercontinent about 800 million years ago, erosion picked up, nutrients were carried out to sea, and biological evolution began flourishing again, eventually leading to the Cambrian explosion around 541 million years ago. Dr. Snelling pointed out that these estimates are based on many unverifiable assumptions and completely ignore day three of creation week (dry land coming forth from the oceans) and the global flood of Noah’s day (including catastrophic plate tectonics), which drastically alter the uniformitarian timelines.

Dr. Snelling then explained the creation geology viewpoint:

Then the so-called “boring billion” eon was the period between the creation week and the flood, when living conditions were conducive for man to multiply and fill the earth. There was no evolution of life in the pre-flood oceans because God had already fully stocked them with an abundance of creatures to reproduce after their kinds.

Finally, the global flood cataclysm was unleashed by God to destroy the earth because of man’s exceeding wickedness, but then to rejuvenate it with new continents in place of the supercontinent, each with new mountain belts, just as the detrital zircon analyses show. Even in judgment, God was merciful in using the flood to prepare the earth for man’s habitation of it in the post-flood era we still live in.

A Bad Day in the Life (and Death) of Two Squid

In May, Dr. Gabriela Haynes’ and Troy Lacey’s article “Vampire Squid Can't Escape This Coffin” examined a journal article that attempted to explain why two squid (one of which was preying on the other) ended up buried and fossilized together.2 The evolutionary explanation seemed to settle (pun intended) on distraction sinking as the most likely explanation. Yet Haynes and Lacey explained how unlikely it was that performing mundane and necessary tasks like eating could lead to distraction sinking. The biblical explanation makes much more sense. One creature was in the act of preying on another when both were buried by a catastrophic “avalanche” of lime mud. This would have occurred all throughout the world during the flood, burying bivalves, fish, and, yes, even squid instantly and covering them with thick layers of sediment.

Synthetic Cells, Falsely So-Called

Earlier this year, claims about the creation of synthetic cells appeared again in popular media. In June, we covered it in “Synthetic Cell Attempt Failed Again.” Instead of making a synthetic cell, the researchers took an existing cell and extracted the DNA. They stripped the genome of the cell down to a bare minimum and synthesized new DNA in the lab and then put the synthesized DNA into the existing cell and observed how well it replicated. Obviously, this is not creating a synthetic cell; it’s simply making an existing cell worse.

Why Do New Diseases Keep Occurring?

In July, microbiologist Dr. Alan Gillen and coauthor Jason Conrad contributed an article on why God permits new diseases. In it, they covered numerous diseases afflicting humanity, including Lyme disease and malaria, and explained why new diseases occur. They wrote,

Displacement and mutation explain the origin of most infectious diseases in our modern world since the curse described in Genesis. Contagion has naturally followed. Plagues, pestilences, and epidemics have been with us since ancient times, at least since the time of Job and early Israel (plagues of Egypt). . . . When terrible diseases come our way, believers in Jesus Christ can take refuge in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91 says, “Surely He shall deliver thee from the noisome (deadly) pestilence.” Although Christians are not exempt from terrifying diseases, it is true that they can and will find refuge in their Creator. Christians are not called to fear these diseases but to study and apply known biblical principles (such as quarantine, hygiene, and giving or obtaining medical help as needed) in times of crisis.

Feeding Carnivores on the Ark

Troy Lacey talked about “Feeding Carnivores on Noah’s Ark.” While most carnivores readily accept substitute protein sources, as has been shown in wartime scenarios when meat is scarce, Lacey examines other options as well.

A few days later, Troy Lacey talked about “Feeding Carnivores on Noah’s Ark.” While most carnivores readily accept substitute protein sources, as has been shown in wartime scenarios when meat is scarce, Lacey examines other options as well. Dried meats, live insects, and stored fish would all have been possible. He specifically addresses obligate carnivores like cats and how they could have addressed the “taurine problem.” It is also possible that carnivores hibernated or were otherwise less active on the Ark.

Big Bang Had No Beginning?

In early October, Dr. Danny Faulkner’s article “No Beginning for the Big Bang?” examined the decline of the “singularity model” for the big bang.3 While the big bang model no longer requires a beginning, Dr. Faulkner cautioned against reading too much into this and also trying to force the big bang into Scripture:

Some people have viewed this shift in the big bang model as evidence that the big bang model is in trouble. But that conclusion hardly follows. Any model undergoes revision, and the big bang model is no exception. These refinements are necessary as new data arises or as new factors are considered. The big bang model has undergone far more tweaks than most other models, but these changes are not necessarily signs of a weakness in the model. Nor should the different directions that current research is going on this subject be taken as a problem either. Despite what some people think, the big bang model probably is not going away any time soon. That won’t happen until there is some other alternative available, but no alternative is currently on the horizon.

We at Answers in Genesis have always maintained that the big bang model is incompatible with Scripture. No one starting from the Bible would ever have come up with the big bang model. Rather, those who claim to see the big bang in the Bible start by assuming the big bang model is true and then read the big bang into the Bible. This return to an eternal universe within the big bang model is indicative of the foolishness of relying upon man’s ideas to interpret Scripture.

Pluto’s Changing Atmosphere

In mid-October, Dr. Danny Faulkner’s article, “Easy Come, Easy Go: Pluto’s Changing Atmosphere,” looked at an article that showed recent evidence of Pluto’s atmosphere contracting.4 Since Pluto’s gravity is weak, there is a slow loss of nitrogen gas to space, but it seems Pluto has a huge reserve of nitrogen ice that could gradually sublime to replace the gas lost and therefore maintain a steady state. Although this new information reveals a cyclical process in Pluto’s atmosphere, it tells us nothing about Pluto’s age. But we can know Pluto’s age because we have an eyewitness statement documenting its “birth” on the fourth day of the creation week (Genesis 1:14–19).

No Evolutionary Transition Between Snails, Slugs, and Semi-slugs

In late October, we debunked an article from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History that claimed that the transition from snails to slugs was a perfect evolutionary transition. The problem with the claim is quite simple: it lacks one iota of evidence. Changing from a snail to a slug requires a lot of morphological changes, meaning that many thousands of beneficial mutations would be required as well. These mutations are completely absent. Further, natural selection is unable to account for the vast gulf between the snails and slugs. The diversity of snails, slugs, and semi-slugs seems to fit much better within a created kind model of genetic diversity than within an evolutionary model.

Water, Water Everywhere (Even in the Far Reaches of Space)

In early November, Dr. Danny Faulkner’s article “Water Found Near the Edge of the (Observable) Universe” reviewed a recent news article that announced the detection of water in SPT0311-58, a pair of galaxies that are an estimated 12.88 billion light-years from earth.5 Using high-resolution ALMA (Telescopes in Chile) observations of molecular gas in the pair of galaxies known collectively as SPT0311-58 (East and West), the astronomers detected both water and carbon monoxide molecules in the larger of the two galaxies (SPT0311-58 West). The water was in gaseous form, and traces of CO2 and abundant cosmic dust were also found. Dr. Faulkner pointed out that finding cosmic dust in a galaxy (or galaxies in this case) so early in the supposed history of the universe is problematic for big bang cosmology, as these heavier elements would have even less time to form. In cosmic evolution scenarios, it was supposedly the gradual accumulation of chemical enrichment that eventually led to enough heavier elements to produce compounds and dust.

Using high-resolution ALMA (Telescopes in Chile) observations of molecular gas in the pair of galaxies known collectively as SPT0311-58 (East and West), the astronomers detected both water and carbon monoxide molecules in the larger of the two galaxies (SPT0311-58 West).

Dr. Faulkner cautioned that it is not likely that the water detected in SPT0311-58 is the water above the expanse (Genesis 1:7–8, Psalm 148:4). Rather, that water is yet beyond SPT0311-58. The cosmic microwave background (CMB) may be radiation from the waters above.

Honorable Mentions

The Immune System Before the Fall?

The first of our honorable mentions comes from August, when we discussed how the immune system might have worked prior to the fall. In “Immunity and Creation Science,” we overviewed some aspects of creationist research into immunity and related issues. We discussed the pre-fall purpose of microbes and the benefits many still have today. Further, the created purpose of the immune system was suggested to have been to keep populations of beneficial microbes in check.

Extragalactic Exoplanet

The second honorable mention was from early November. Dr. Danny Faulkner’s article “M51-ULS-1b: The First Extragalactic Exoplanet” looked at the first exoplanet outside our Milky Way galaxy. This exoplanet was found in the M51 (also called the Whirlpool) galaxy, about 30 million light-years from earth. Dr. Faulkner pointed out that planets the size of M51-ULS-1b, when they have atmospheres, tend to have the wrong atmospheres, so they are not considered to be hospitable to life.

A Final Word

Many may wonder why Dr. Andrew Snelling’s Grand Canyon work, as discussed in the two ARJ articles here and here, was not covered in this Top Ten list. The answer is that the work is still underway, and apart from the very telling initial summary statements and the exhaustive descriptions of the Tapeats Sandstone and the Bright Angel Formation, we feel it would be premature to comment on the massive importance of this work before it is completed. So, we are saving this topic for another year (hopefully in 2022) when more papers will be published.

As you can see from the long list above, 2021 was an exciting year for creation science! We look forward to more contributions from top creationist researchers and more amazing confirmations of God’s incredible design as well as corroborations of the Bible’s history in the year to come!

Footnotes

  1. Ming Tang et al. “Orogenic Quiesence in Earth’s Middle Age,” Science 371, no. 6530 (February 12, 2021): 728–731, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abf1876.
  2. Christian Klug et al., “Distraction Sinking and Fossilized Coleoid Predatory Behaviour from the German Early Jurassic,” Swiss Journal of Paleontology 140, no. 7 (2021): https://doi.org/10.1186/s13358-021-00218-y.
  3. Ethan Siegel, “Surprise: The Big Bang Isn’t the Beginning of the Universe Anymore,” BigThink.com, October 13, 2021, https://bigthink.com/starts-with-a-bang/big-bang-beginning-universe/.
  4. Southwest Research Institute, “Scientists Confirm Decrease in Pluto's Atmospheric Density,” Phys.org, October 4, 2021, https://phys.org/news/2021-10-scientists-decrease-pluto-atmospheric-density.html
  5. “ALMA Detects Water and Carbon Monoxide in Distant Star-Forming Galaxy,” Sci-News, November 3, 2021, http://www.sci-news.com/astronomy/alma-water-carbon-monoxide-distant-star-forming-galaxy-10235.html.

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