Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Lizard “Evolves a Complex Trait It Once Lost”?

Image courtesy of Jörg Hempelage, CC BY-SA 3.0 de.



Joel Kontinen

Most female lizards lay eggs, but the Zootoca vivipara (‘live-bearing’) gives birth to young offspring, expect for two subspecies.

This prompted New Scientist to speculate that this is a “rare example of a species re-evolving a complex trait that had been lost.”

According to this scenario, lizards first laid eggs, then stopped laying it, forgetting the trait, and then re-discovered it.

The problem with this kind of reasoning is that any kind of change can be seen as an example of Darwinian evolution, even when it clearly isn’t.

It is an example of Darwinian storytelling, which often tends to be more or less fact-free.

Source:

Le Page, Michael. 2017.Lizards re-evolved eggs after thousands of years of live births. New Scientist (5 December).

Monday, 4 December 2017

Rapid Burial of Pterosaur Eggs Suggests Noah’s Flood

Intelligently designed for flight. Image courtesy of Hugo Salais López, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

Pterosaurs present many formidable dilemmas for Darwinian evolution. They could grow to be as tall as giraffes and they were almost too heavy to fly.

But they did.

And there’s more. New research suggests that many pterosaurs of all ages met their death in a flood.

Science polishes the account of their demise with creative storytelling:

“The fossils formed about 120 million years ago when disaster struck a group of pterosaurs. The researchers speculate that when a sudden rain flooded a river, hundreds of pterosaur eggs buried in shallow sand or under a layer of leaves or grass were drowned and washed downstream, along with a number of older individuals. Quickly buried by sediment, the eggs and bones did not decay but instead were preserved as fossils.”

The global flood of Noah’s days is a more logical explanation. It has left animal graveyards, petrified forests and geological formations even in the most unlikely places.

Science focuses on the assumption that these flying reptiles cared for their young. In a Darwinian dog-eat-dog world, parental care might not be self-evident.

But in the creation model it certainly is.

Source:

Vogel, Gretchen. 2017. Ancient flying reptiles cared for their young, fossil trove suggests. Science (30 November).




Saturday, 2 December 2017

Setback for Alien Life Hopefuls: No Signs of Water on Mars

Where’s the water? Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona




Joel Kontinen

Just over a century ago, it was customary to see signs of an alien civilisation on the red planet. Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli (1835–1910) thought he saw canals on Mars.

Many others, including Percival Lowell (1855–1916), adopted this view.

Some people still think that there’s at least an inkling of truth in this.

Furthermore, Many people think that the red planet was once blue, sloshing with water.

Time magazine, for instance, has claimed that the Sun helped murder Mars.

And researchers have continued to speculate that liquid water might still be sloshing down the slopes of the red planet.

Now, however, Colin Dundas of the US Geological Survey and colleagues analysed satellite images.

Their research suggests that the assumed signs of running water on Mars dunes are probably just dry sand, as an article in New Scientist put it.

Source:

McKinnon, Mika. 2017. Signs of running water on Mars dunes are probably just dry sand. New Scientist (22 November).



Thursday, 30 November 2017

Lightning Can Produce Atmospheric Radiocarbon (C-14)

More radiocarbon forming? Image courtesy of Simon Q, CC BY 2.0.




Joel Kontinen

In February a thunderstorm in Japan had unexpected consequences. Teruari Enoto, an astrophysicist at Kyoto University, and his colleagues discovered that lightning produced more atmospheric radiocarbon.

A news article in Nature states:

The main source of the carbon-14 in the atmosphere has generally been considered to be cosmic rays. In principle, lightning could also contribute to the supply. But it is not clear yet how much of the isotope is produced in this way, says Enoto, in part because it’s possible that not all bolts initiate photonuclear reactions.”

Many evolutionists used to think that radiometric dating methods were reliable, but a number of studies have shown that they were wrong.

This applies to several dating methods and their basic assumptions.

Geologists will now admit that zircon crystals, ultrasonic cavitation and even solar flares can skew dates.

In addition, science publications have suggested that the uranium-lead method and some other methods tend to give too old dates.

Radiocarbon dating is a special case, as it does not give dates in the millions of years due to its relative short half-life of approximately 5,730 years.

Nonetheless, the Japanese study suggests we should be a bit more critical of radiocarbon dates as well.

Source:

Castelvecchi, Davide. 2017. Lightning makes new isotope. Nature News (22 November).


Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Bryozoans, Tiny Living Fossils from the Cambrian, Are Still Very Much Alive

Bryozoans come in many shapes and sizes. Image courtesy of Rob Kool, CC BY-SA 1.0.




Joel Kontinen

According to the evolutionary story, the world has changed dramatically in "500 million years."

But scientists now know that some Cambrian animals have resisted change for aeons:

Recently, a tiny bryozoan was named after David Jablonski and Susan Kidwell, who both are University of Chicago researchers.

This creature, called Jablonskipora kidwellae, is assumed to be “105 million years” old.

A University of Chicago news release attempts to highlight the significance of the find:

Lurking in oceans, rivers and lakes around the world are tiny, ancient animals known to few people. Bryozoans, tiny marine creatures that live in colonies, are “living fossils”—their lineage goes back to the time when multi-celled life was a newfangled concept. But until now, scientists were missing evidence of one important breakthrough that helped the bryozoans survive 500 million years as the world changed around them.”

This is obviously a problem for evolution, so they have to explain it away:

Bryozoans never figured out a symbiotic partnership with photosynthetic bacteria, as coral did, so their evolution took a different turn. Each one in a colony is genetically identical, but they have specialized roles, like ants or bees. Their shelly apartment complexes house thousands of the creatures, which have soft bodies with tiny tentacles to catch nutrients.”

The Cambrian Era is still an enormous enigma for evolution. For some, it might be a real headache, as the creatures assigned to this period are far too complex and some Cambrian fossils are too well preserved to be that old, calling their assumed age into question.

Source:

Lerner, Louise. 2017. Fossil that fills missing evolutionary link named after UChicago professors UChicago News (16 November).

Sunday, 26 November 2017

More Archaeological Evidence for the United Monarchy of David and Solomon

These ruins probably hail from King David’s time (ca. 1000 BC). Image courtesy of MathKnight, CC BY-SA 2.5.



Joel Kontinen

Archaeologists known as Biblical minimalists tend to believe that the Bible is historically more or less unreliable.

They have argued that Israel’s monarchs David and Solomon either were not historical figures or did not reign over the area described in the Bible.

Recently, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a longish article on this issue. Philippe Bohstrom takes a look at recent archaeological discoveries in Israel that probably hail from the Davidic era.

He discusses a vast copper mining operation that produced over 100,000 tons of slag and says this suggests a strong central government at a time when Egypt was in decline and Edom and Philistia had yet to rise.

Supporting Timna's massive mining operations, therefore, required long-distance trade, or in other words, complex economic activity involving a bureaucratic apparatus. Archaeologists have indeed found evidence of imports from afar (and cloth) dating to the time of David and Solomon. Next to 5-meter high fortification walls, the archaeologists found slingstones, a variety of seeds, fish bones, and donkey bones and dung preserved well enough to be analyzed: it shows the draught animals at Timna ate hay and pomace, the pulp from pressing grapes, olives and suchlike, imported from the Mediterranean coast, more than 200 km afar,” he writes.

He goes on to mention other discoveries, such as the ruins of King David's Palace that Hebrew University professor Eilat Mazar found in 2005.

Bohstrom is not a biblical apologist and does not have an axe to grind. He does, however, ask why it is easier for some sceptics to believe that Agamemnon and other Homeric kings were historical figures but biblical characters were not, given that there is more evidence for the historicity of the latter.

Archaeology confirms biblical history, people, buildings, places and even catastrophes such as earthquakes.

Statues, coins, ossuaries (bone boxes) and seal impressions show names mentioned in the Bible.

Source:

Bohstrom, Philippe. 2017. Did David and Solomon's United Monarchy Exist? Vast Ancient Mining Operation May Hold Answers. Haaretz (21 November).

Friday, 24 November 2017

Darwinian Psychologists Deny Consciousness and Free Will – and Have to Resort to Storytelling

It’s hard to get free will and consciousness from rocks.




Joel Kontinen

If we believe that matter is the only thing that exists, we’re heading towards great trouble, as the immaterial realm is anything but imaginary.

Thus, consciousness and free will are hard dilemmas for evolutionists.

In 2014 Michael Graziano, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton, wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times in which he admitted that consciousness was a “ghostly thing” - seen from a Darwinian perspective, that is.

If this evolutionary conception of consciousness were applied coherently, it would mean the end of the idea of self.

However, recently two psychologists tried to navigate around this skerry. Writing in The Conversation, David A Oakley (Emeritus Professor of Psychology at University College London) and Peter Halligan (Hon Professor of Neuropsychology at Cardiff University) attempt to explain away both consciousness and free will:

It’s easy to assume that these contents of consciousness are somehow chosen, caused or controlled by our personal awareness – after all, thoughts don’t exist until until we think them. But in a new research paper in Frontiers of Psychology, we argue that this is a mistake.

We suggest that our personal awareness does not create, cause or choose our beliefs, feelings or perceptions. Instead, the contents of consciousness are generated ‘behind the scenes’ by fast, efficient, non-conscious systems in our brains. All this happens without any interference from our personal awareness, which sits passively in the passenger seat while these processes occur.

Put simply, we don’t consciously choose our thoughts or our feelings – we become aware of them
.”

This has repercussions for the idea of free will:

We argue that free will and personal responsibility are notions that have been constructed by society.”

This sounds like an excuse to avoid being accountable for our actions, and is very unbiblical notion.

Source:

Oakley, David A. and Peter Halligan. 2017. What if consciousness is not what drives the human mind? The Conversation (22 November).