Sunday, 27 April 2008
New Scientist has created its own myth about Genesis 1 and 2. Illustration from AIG's Creation Museum
New Scientist is a popular weekly science magazine. Recently, its web version included a special section on 24 usual evolution myths. Some of the arguments follow an old Darwinian pattern, resorting to theological arguments. From Darwin to Dawkins, evolutionists have either explicitly or implicitly claimed that since God could not possibly have created being x with the trait y, evolution has to be responsible for trait y. New Scientist uses a slightly different version of this argument.
One of New Scientist’s arguments deals with alleged biblical discrepancies. Writer Michael Le Page claims that the Bible is full of scientific and even mathematical mistakes. Unfortunately, some of his examples border on the absurd. For instance, he quotes the part of 1 Chronicles 3:22 that says “The sons of Shemaiah: Huttush, Igal, Bariah, and Shaphat, six.” He omits the beginning of verse: “The descendants of Shecaniah. Shemaiah and his sons.” One father and five sons are usually six even by today’s mathematics.
Page also claims that the Bible says the Earth is flat. In reality, verses such as Isaiah 40:21-22 speak about the circle of the earth.
He also says that there are two conflicting creation accounts in the two first chapters of Genesis. In chapter one, the animals are created before man, whereas in chapter two, man is made before the animals. In addition, according to Genesis one, plants are made before man. In Genesis two man is already in existence when God creates the plants.
While these might sound like discrepancies, there is no actual conflict. Genesis one describes the creation of the universe from the earth’s perspective. Chapter two relates the creation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The New International Version (NIV), for instance takes into account the Hebrew background of the text and translates verse 19 with the perfect tense: “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air.” God had thus already created the animals; He only now brings them to Adam. The presence of plants can be best explained in the same way. Thus, there is no real discrepancy.
Genesis uses a literary device often employed in the Bible: First the author presents an overview and afterwards gives the details. This can be seen throughout the Bible. Genesis 1-11 describes mankind in general, whereas from chapter 12 onwards, the author follows the history of one nation –Abraham and his descendants.
It is thus counterproductive to use theological arguments to argue against the Bible, especially if one is not familiar with the original Hebrew language, culture and literary devices used in Scripture.
Le Page, MIchael. 2008. Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions.NewScientist.com news service. 16 April 2008. http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/dn13620?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=dn13620
Last May the opening of this museum prompted evolutionists to give a very theological response.
What caused evolutionists to hire an aeroplane and fly it around a museum having a banner with the words “Thou shalt not lie” flying in the wind?
It was May 2007. Answers in Genesis opened its Creation Museum in Kentucky near Cincinnati (Ohio) Airport. Some Darwinist were furious and tried to disrupt the opening ceremony. They attempted to do so by quoting freely from the Bible.
Evolutionists used a similar strategy when Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, then of AiG, posted a rebuttal to John Rennie’s fierce attack on intelligent design and creationism published in the July 2002 issue of Scientific American. The magazine threatened to sue Answers in Genesis for a purported copyright infringement but eventually dropped the charge.
So why do evolutionists take the trouble to hire an aeroplane with a “Thou shalt not lie” banner? The answer, my friend, might not be flying in the wind.
It is probably for the same reason they tried to suppress Dr. Sarfati’s response to Rennie’s article.
Sarfati says, “Evidently the evolutionists fear the increasing spread of creationist information, despite their best efforts at censorship. So they are desperate to counteract this information. But their efforts don’t withstand scientific scrutiny, and in the end evolution is admitted to be a deduction from a materialistic belief system. It is philosophy/religion dressed up as ‘science’. “
Rennie, John. 2002. 15 Ways to Expose Creationist Nonsense. Scientific American 287:1,62-69.
Sarfati, Jonathan. 2002. 15 Ways to Refute Materialistic Bigotry. You can read it here.
Read The Creation Museum's web pages here.
Friday, 25 April 2008
Dinosaurs. At least this is what the American Museum of Natural History declares with letters as high as a pheasant. It is somewhat harder to find any hard evidence for this claim.
Most evolutionists are reluctant to let go of their pet theories. In their view, with the passing of millions and millions of years Tyrannosaurus rex eventually evolved into the finch we see at our bird feeder.
In reality, even many evolutionists find this hypothesis untenable. Turning scales into feathers is a such a feat that poor ol’ natural selection might find it too hard, and mutations mind not be of much use, either.
In 2005 the prestigious journal Nature suggested that at least some ducks, chickens and ratite birds co-existed with dinosaurs. More recently, scientists at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor examined the rate of mutation of different species with the help of the molecular clock and concluded that dinosaurs and modern birds lived at the same time.
It nevertheless seems that old slogans show little evidence of change. At least in secular natural history museums.
Read more about the recent research here.
Read about older research on birds here.
Monday, 21 April 2008
Turkana Boy is probably the most famous specimen of Homo erectus.
Heraclitos of Ephesus (ca. 535-475 BC) was a Greek philosopher who taught that everything was continually changing. Unfortunately, his writings have been lost so we only have a general idea of what he might have said. According to Plato, Heraclictos nevertheless taught the idea of inevitable change.
Heraclitos’ view is seen to be true in the ever-changing idea of human ancestors. Fossils that were once thought very ape-like are gradually become more human-like. A case in point is that of Homo erectus , which was originally described as an ape man. Called Peking Man, Homo erectus was paraded as a missing link between men and apes.
However, with the passing of years, even the Darwinists’ view of our supposed grandfather has changed radically. Today, many Evolutionists accept him as almost completely human.
Recently (March 2008), Scientific American published an article that speculated whether even more change had occurred. John Whitfield, who wrote the article, quotes Murray Cox of the University of Arizona. Cox and his research team studied the X chromosome of modern humans and concluded that Homo erectus may have survived until about 30 000 years ago and lived at least 15 000 years with Homo sapiens.
Cox suggests that modern man and erectus exchanged genes. The title of the Scientific American article is even more revealing: ”Lovers, Not Fighters? New genetic signs that modern humans mated with Homo erectus.” In practice this would mean that they belong to the same species.
Last year science journals disclosed that Homo erectus and Homo habilis, which was believed to more ape-like, also lived at the same time. This refutes the old text book story of Homo habilis evolving into Homo erectus, which evolved into Homo sapiens.
Although dating methods are often grossly inaccurate, the new study nevertheless suggests that human-ape hybrids are figments of imagination. Fossils do not support the view that ape men have ever existed.
A related devolopment has occurred in the view of our "grandmother" Lucy. Read more here.
Whitfield, John. 2008. Lovers, not fighters? New Genetic signs that modern humans mated with Homo erectus. Scientific American 298:3, 12-13 (March 2008).
Thursday, 17 April 2008
Ernst Haeckel's view of the comb jelly. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
A recent study funded by the National Science Foundation used over 100 computers to analyse the evolutionary history of the Earth’s earliest animals. In the 19th century, Charles Darwin introduced the view that all living organisms form a tree of life from which the various species branch off. Although the tree currently looks more like a bush than a real tree, Darwin’s supporters have not completely discarded his basic idea.
Evolutionary biologists had previously speculated that simple creatures should have diverged from the trunk of the tree before the more complex ones. Accordingly, they believed that the sponge was the first animal to branch off.
However, the results of the research, published in the April 10 issue of the British science journal Nature, were a big surprise and disappointment for evolutionists. Casey Dunn, whose research team made the groundbreaking discovery, said according to physorg.com, “This was a complete shocker, so shocking that we initially thought something had gone very wrong."
The results were so shocking that the researchers had to check and re-check them several times before they were willing to believe what they had discovered.
The first animal to branch off was not the sponge but the comb jelly. This is significant since the comb jelly has tissues and a nervous system, which are complex systems thought to have evolved much later. A sponge, by contrast, is a more “primitive” creature, lacking both tissue and a nervous system. Dunn thus suggested that the first animal was more complex than previously believed.
In other words, the results were diametrically opposed to the expectations of scientists supporting the theory of evolution. Nonetheless, most of them are probably not prepared to discard their pet theory but will merely attempt to adjust the tree of life, even though part of it is now clearly upside down.
Dunn, Casey W. & al. 2008. Broad phylogenomic sampling improves resolution of the animal tree of life. Nature 452:7188, 745-749.
Phys.org. 2008. And the first animal on Earth was a... (10 April).