Extracts from Creation Research News Letters (John Mackay)

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Creation Ministries International

David Attenborough’s First Life: Arrival

“HUMAN BEINGS ARE GETTING DUMBER” proclaims an article in news.com 19 February 2013. This blunt unflattering assessment of humanity is based on articles by Gerald Crabtree of Stanford University entitled “Our Fragile Intellect” published in Trends in GeneticsJanuary 2013. Crabtree lists two reasons: genetic mutations have damaged genes involved in human intellect, and evolution no longer selects for intellect. Crabtree reminds readers: “Recent human genome studies revealed that there are, per generation, about 60 new mutations per genome and about 100 heterozygous mutations per genome that are predicted to produce a loss of function, some of which are likely to affect genes involved in human intellect”. He estimates that between 2,000 and 5,000 genes contribute to human intellect, and therefore, over thousands of years, genetic mutations must have damaged some of them. Because all human races have the same intellectual capacity he surmises that the genes for human intellect were “optimised for abstract thought” during the time when the common ancestors of all human races were hunter/gatherers in Africa.

Crabtree believes the human brain, with its capacity for complex abstract thought, evolved “in our prehistoric African ancestors, well before written language and before we had the modern voice-box to produce sophisticated verbal language but after the first tools”. He writes: “Somehow the selective pressures on these ancestors led to the evolution of a brain capable of writing symphonies and performing higher mathematics, indicating that life as a hunter–gatherer was more intellectually demanding than we might think”. During this time natural selection worked in favour of intellect and emotional stability, but modern civilisation no longer exerts this evolutionary pressure. Crabtree explains with the following example: “A hunter–gatherer who did not correctly conceive a solution to providing food or shelter probably died, along with his/her progeny, whereas a modern Wall Street executive that made a similar conceptual mistake would receive a substantial bonus and be a more attractive mate. Clearly, extreme selection is a thing of the past”. He also suggests that if people from ancient civilisations, e.g. Ancient Greece, came back to earth today they “would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues”. In spite of this Crabtree claims: “The sciences have come so far in the past 100 years that we can safely predict that the accelerating rate of knowledge accumulation within our intellectually robust society will lead to the solution of this potentially very difficult problem by socially and morally acceptable means”.

Links: news.com.auTrends in Genetics.

ED. COM. Crabtree is correct about mutations degrading the human genome, and therefore it is inevitable that some mutations would damage human brain function. Recent genome studies such as the 1000 Genome Project have shown that genes are being rendered useless (and therefore effectively lost) or less functional with every generation. However, no-one has reported a newly formed gene that improves human intellect (or any other human function). There is, therefore, no evidence mutations created and “optimised” these genes in any human ancestor, and caused them to evolve a large complex brain, especially as they are observed to be doing the opposite! Instead, degeneracy caused by genetic collapse (mutations) is the predictable result of taking Biblical history as reliable. Genesis tells us God created all things “very good” but the world was later ruined by human sin and God’s judgement. This means the most optimal brains ever made were the ones God created in Adam and Eve, and any mutations affecting the human brain have degraded it, not improved it.

Crabtree’s description of how natural selection could act on hunter/gatherers is also correct, but irrelevant since man started as a farmer in a prepared Garden, and faced his first survival selection pressure when he was subject to dealing with weeds and thorns after expulsion from Eden. Either way, survival pressures only serve to remind us that natural selection can only remove individuals who are less fit because they possess already less-optimal genes, and thus leave the ones who already had the optimal genes. Natural selection is never observed to create or improve any genes.

Crabtree’s assessment that human beings were smarter in the past is certainly supported by recorded human history when we look at the achievements and writings of ancient civilisations, especially when we ask: “how much could you learn, even from your mistakes, if your lifespan was 930 years, as Adam’s was?” Historical smartness and present decline is, again, exactly what would result from the Biblical history of the human race. Since Adam and Eve rebelled against God the human race has been going downhill, so it should be no surprise that the closer people were to the beginning, as in ancient civilisations, the fewer genetic mutations they would have. However, there is more to human beings than just their bodies and their genes. Genesis tells us that man was created in the image of God, and consists of body, soul and spirit. Any intellectual achievements by humans are not the results of random activity in the brain. Our minds are influenced by our relationship with our Creator, and our first parents ruined that when they disobeyed God in the beginning. Therefore, Crabtree’s optimism about us saving ourselves with science and education is wishful, but fallacious thinking. The only way we can be restored in body and mind is by the work of the Creator who made us in the first place, and came to earth as Jesus Christ, who died and rose again to restore our relationship with God. Our current earthly bodies are doomed, like this world, to continue to degenerate, but all those who put their trust in Jesus will receive a new body, including a new brain, in the new heaven and earth that God will create when this world is destroyed. Renewal of the mind can start right now for all who are transformed by faith in Christ, but will not be complete until the resurrection to eternal life with Christ. It won’t make you smarter now, but it can help you to live better in this world if you use your mind to know God’s Word and seek to live by it. (Ref. anthropology, genetics)

GHOSTS REVEAL ANCESTOR, according to reports in Science vol. 339 p656 DOI: 10.1126/science.1233999 and p662 DOI: 10.1126/science.1229237 8 February 2013, and Nature News and ScienceDaily 7 February 2013. An international team of scientists has completed an enormous project that collates anatomical details of 86 species of placental mammals, including 40 fossil mammals, together with genetic data from those that are still living. Placental mammals are the vast majority of mammals, and range in size and variation from tiny bats and shrews to elephants and whales. The researchers then used this information to reconstruct the common ancestor of all placental mammals. According to Nature News: “The critter turned out to be a tree-climbing, furry-tailed insect eater that weighed between 6 and 245 grams. It gave birth to blind, hairless young, one at a time. Its brain was highly folded, and it had three pairs of molars on each jaw”. The study was part of the Assembling the Tree of Life Program, a project funded by National Science Foundation (USA). According to Maureen O’Leary of Stony Brook University, “Discovering the tree of life is like piecing together a crime scene – it is a story that happened in the past that you can’t repeat. Just like with a crime scene, the new tools of DNA add important information, but so do other physical clues like a body or, in the scientific realm, fossils and anatomy. Combining all the evidence produces the most informed reconstruction of a past event”. The mammal research team used their data to reconstruct the evolutionary tree of placental mammals, and work out where they fitted in relation to the Cretaceous Tertiary boundary, believed to be when the dinosaurs were wiped out and many new mammals started to evolve. To estimate when different mammals evolved the team used “a rarely used method, ghost lineage analysis”. The way this works is described in an article in Science as follows: “The ghost lineage approach instead uses the defining morphological characteristics that align fossils with living clades to calibrate the phylogeny as a whole. This it does by using direct fossil evidence for the earliest appearance of lineages and by inferring the presence of “ghost lineages” not documented in the fossil record but implied by sister-group relationships.”

Links: ScienceDailyNature News

ED. COM. When you build a family tree as evidence of what a missing evolutionary ancestor looked like, and you do so by ‘inferring the presence of “ghost lineages” not documented in the fossil record but implied by sister-group relationships, it’s time to admit you are making it up! You are assuming evolution happened in order to prove evolution! A real no no. Since DNA and fossils exist only in the present, they can at best be used as the basis for inference, not fact, about the past. Any story about how creatures got to be like they are is just that – a story, not an observed scientific fact. Therefore, the supposed “ancestor” of all placental mammals is not a real creature, but the result of the researchers’ imaginations, based on their already held belief that all mammals evolved from a common ancestor.

In 1984 Prof. Louis Bourone (former President of the Biological Society of Strasbourg and Director of the Strasbourg Zoological Museum, later Director of Research at the French National Centre of Scientific Research) said ‘Evolutionism is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of science. It is useless’. (As quoted in ‘The Advocate’, March 8, 1984, p.17). Now it seems it has a ghostly basis as well which is just as useless for science. So never let them laugh at you for accepting the word of God who was there when they have such ghostly blind faith in the opinions of men who weren’t there! After all – the only way to get a truly “informed reconstruction” of the past is to be informed via a record left by a reliable someone who was there. Using ghost stories to invent hypothetical ancestors does nothing for the progress of science, and the National Science Foundation should stop wasting taxpayers’ money on the Tree of Life project and spend it on some real science. (Ref. phylogenetics, vertebrates, philosophy, world view)

PIGEON DNA PROVES DARWIN RIGHT claims Nature News 31 January 2013 in a genetic study of pigeon breeds also reported in ScienceNOW 31 January 2013. Charles Darwin spent many years breeding many varieties of pigeons, and wrote about them in Origin of Species. According to Nathan Young, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, “The domesticated pigeon was just as, if not more, important (as Darwin’s finches) to the evolution of his thinking about how natural selection worked”. Darwin suggested that the different varieties of domesticated pigeons were descended from the wild rock dove, Columba livia, also known as rock pigeons. A team of scientists has now compared the genomes of 36 domestic breeds of pigeon and two feral breeds, and, according to Michael Shapiro of University of Utah, the research “puts data behind that argument”. The researchers also studied one of the most distinctive features of many domestic breeds – the presence or absence of a head crest. The head crest is formed when feathers grow upwards, rather than down along the body – a condition described as “reverse polarity of feather follicles”. The researchers found a difference of one base (item of DNA information) in a gene named EphB2. According to ScienceNOW, “The single base change involved causes the protein to have a different amino acid at a crucial spot, one that likely renders the protein ineffective”. Shapiro’s team are also looking for the genetic variations that produce other distinctive features of the different breeds, such as beak shape, size, colour and whether they roll or tumble as they fly.

Link: Nature News

ED. COM. Darwin admitted he was not the first person to claim that the varieties of domestic pigeons were all related to the rock pigeon. He wrote: “Great as the differences are between the breeds of pigeons, I am fully convinced that the common opinion of naturalists is correct, namely, that all have descended from the rock-pigeon (Columba livia), including under this term several geographical races or sub-species, which differ from each other in the most trifling respects”. (Darwin, 1859, Origin of Species, p23) If this idea was already believed before Darwin’s book was published, then it wasn’t derived from evolutionary theory, since the world he lived in was basically creationist. So a little more objective look at the current study shows that the variation in domestic and wild pigeons is actually variation within a kind, and fits with Genesis, which tells us that God created birds as separate kinds. All breeding experiments with pigeons, including Darwin’s, have not changed pigeons into non-pigeons. They have simply revealed the variation within the pigeon kind. The suggestion that the head crest gene causes a protein to be rendered ineffective, is a reminder that what can often be claimed to be a newly evolved feature is actually a degeneration, and merely produces variation in an already existing trait, in this case feather growth. This also fits Genesis, which tells us the world has degenerated from its original created good state. Since evolution is actually about how pigeons are descended from non-pigeons, which prior to that used to be reptiles, which were ultimately derived from non-living chemicals, the current research does nothing to support this claim. (Ref. birds, ornithology, genetics)

Digital DNA Storage Developed

According to Nature News, ScienceNOW and Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1226355 16 August 2012 and ScienceDaily 17 August 2012. A team of scientists led by George Church of Harvard Medical School have developed a method of storing digital information on DNA. DNA information is encoded in a 4-letter system, A, T, C, and G, whilst digital information is ultimately stored as ones and zeros. The researchers developed a system where they encoded the zeros as As and Cs, and the ones as Gs and Ts. To encode data they divided it up into short sequences and encoded it onto a strand of DNA. Each block of data was replicated thousands of times to enable mistakes in coding to be identified and fixed by comparing it to the other copies. The strands of DNA were then embedded onto a glass chip. The strands also contain code that indicates where the information on it belongs in the original data file that it can be reassembled in the correct order. To retrieve the data the sequence of letters is analysed using DNA sequencing machinery, and the information from all the strands is combined and reconstructed using a computer. The research team tested their method by coding an entire genetics textbook, including the text, JPG images and a JavaScript program, onto 54,898 of these short strands, and then decoding and reconstructing the information to reproduce the original book. Even with multiple copies of each strand, the entire book was stored on less than a picogram (one trillionth of a gram) of DNA. The researchers commented: “DNA is among the most dense and stable information media known”.

Nature News
ScienceDaily

Wake up guys! You have just admitted what we have been saying for ages. Your applaudably great success makes even more preposterous than it ever was, the theory that the DNA information stored and used by living cells got there by random chemical reactions through vast time spans. None of the information in your newly created DNA version of the printed textbook got there by chance random processes. Neither did it get into the original paper version by chance or any natural process. All methods of storing and reproducing information, whether as a printed book, a computer file or DNA on a chip, are the product of intelligent minds. They have all provably required creative design and clever engineering.

The more we discover about how information is stored, reproduced and applied in living things, the more we see the ultimate proof that life required a creative designer, so none of us has any excuse for ignoring our Creator God, who also gave us Legal Testaments full of information in a book that didn’t happen by accident either – His written Word. (Ref. biochemistry, computing, coding)

Big Freeze Theory

Reported in ScienceDaily 20 August 2012 and ABC News in Science 21 August 2012. The universe is very large, but according to the Big Bang theory it started out very small, which means two incompatible theories need to be unified. James Quach, from the University of Melbourne explained: “On the one hand you have quantum mechanics, which describes the physics of the very small, like molecules, atoms and sub-atomic particles. On the other hand you have general relativity which describes the physics of very large things like planets, solar systems and galaxies”. Einstein’s general relativity, assumes that “space and time were continuous and flowed smoothly”.

Quach and his colleagues think they can solve the problem with a new theory known as “Quantum Graphity”. This theory suggests the universe is made up of extremely tiny particles, smaller than the Higgs boson. These particles are too small to see, but their presence may be deduced using a mathematical model that starts with the early universe being like a liquid with no definable form. Quach explained: “Think of the early universe as being like a liquid. As the universe cools, it ‘crystallizes’ into the three spatial and one time dimension that we see today. Theorised this way, as the Universe cools, we would expect that cracks should form, similar to the way cracks are formed when water freezes into ice”. Quach’s team think they can find evidence of the cracks because they claim “Light and other particles would bend or reflect off such defects, and therefore in theory we should be able to detect these effects”.

ABC
ScienceDaily

ED. COM

Wow – just a few weeks ago the Higgs Boson was the ultimate particle. Now they predict a smaller one. What a short reign the HB had! These bizarre speculations remind us that the Big Bang theory is not an observed scientific fact, but the imagination of those who refuse to accept the Creator’s Word that He made space, time, matter and energy in fully functional states in just 6 days. (Ref. cosmology, philosophy)

BBC Back Down on “Stupid” Comment

as reported by BBC News and The Telegraph 31 July 2012. In an interview with Richard Dawkins in September 2011 prominent BBC interviewer Jeremy Paxman referred to belief in creation as “religious hogwash” and those who believe it as “stupid people”. Following a complaint, the BBC Trust has acknowledged that Paxman’s comments, “were offensive to some of the audience and that there was no clear editorial purpose for their use in the context of this Newsnight item” and the item breached the Editorial Guidelines on Harm and Offence.

BBC
Telegraph

God Particle Found

According to reports in ABC Star Stuff, BBC News, ScienceNOW and ScienceDaily (and numerous other media sources) 4 July 2012. Scientists working with the world’s largest, most powerful atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have found a particle they believe is the long sort-after Higgs boson particle. The name Higgs boson is derived from physicist Peter Higgs, who proposed the universe was permeated by a field that interacts, via ‘force carrying particles’ called bosons, which interact with other particles in the universe, and thus gives the other particles mass. It was nicknamed “The God Particle” because people assume that it explains the origin of the universe. However, the nickname actually comes from the title of a book named The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What is the Question? by Leon Ledermann and Dick Teresi, published in 1993. Higgs is an atheist and is not impressed with this nickname.

In an interview with The Guardian 30 June 2012, he said: “I find it embarrassing because, though I’m not a believer myself, I think it is the kind of misuse of terminology which I think might offend some people”.

The LHC experiments aimed to create Higgs bosons by firing beams of sub-atomic particles (protons) at each other, at speeds close to the speed of light. High energy collisions of sub-atomic particles are believed to recreate conditions that occurred very soon after the Big Bang. According to ScienceDaily, “The Higgs boson is an unstable particle, living for only the tiniest fraction of a second before decaying into other particles, so experiments can observe it only by measuring the products of its decay”. Two separate particle detectors looked for and found the expected decay products, and the scientists are more than 99.99 percent sure they came from the Higgs boson. Joe Incandela, one of the physicists involved in the project commented: “We’re reaching into the fabric of the Universe at a level we’ve never done before”.

ABC (audio)
BBC
ScienceDaily

ED. COM. Several comments are needed. 1) Whatever this particle is called, it may help us reach into the fabric of the universe and learn about what’s in matter and maybe how it works, but just as smashing a Lego block building never tells you where Lego came from, neither will smashing matter that already exists into tinier and tinier bits ever tell you where the bits came from so you can unlock the origin of the universe. 2) The Big Bang theory claims matter came into existence by itself from nothing, for no reason, and organised itself into atoms and molecules, which through time self organised into stars, planets, plants and people and everything else in the physical universe. Designing a machine to smash already existing matter into bits as close to nothing as possible, will never tell you how nothing turned into something in the first place. What’s really the issue here is the atheism of most Big Bangers who want a particle instead of Person at the origin of the universe. 3) Lastly – did you catch the anomaly? Let us congratulate the physicists who have found Higgs bosons in their atom smasher, but mostly because they “created” the very sophisticated atom smasher in the first place. The creative designers and builders of the Large Hadron Collider have no excuse for failing to recognise that it must take infinitely more power and wisdom to create matter from nothing, as well as endow it with properties, and use it to create all the wondrous things we see in the universe and on the planet we live on. (Ref. physics, cosmology)

Genome is Not Junk

According to results of a massive project named ENCODE published in the journals NatureScience and Genome Biology and Genome Research and reported in ABC News in Science, BBC News, ScienceNOW, Biology News Net and ScienceDaily 5 September 2012. The ENCODE project, or Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, is a detailed analysis of the human genome conducted by hundreds of scientists working in 32 institutions, who carried out biochemical tests, sequencing studies and computer analyses on 147 types of human cells. When the human genome was first sequenced at the turn of the century, scientists were surprised to find only around 21,000 protein coding genes, occupying less than 3 percent of the total number of DNA letters in the genome. As proteins make up the structure of molecules and determine function in cells, the rest of the genome was assumed to be non-functional, and was labelled “Junk DNA”. However, as research continued through the decade, scientists found that some parts of the “junk” coded for RNA molecules that were used to switch on and off the activity of the genes or determine the production of proteins.

The ENCODE project has confirmed the low number of protein coding genes, finding 20,687 of them, making up only two percent of the genome. However, they found that about 80 percent of the genome is provable not useless, but biochemically active. The remainder may be a graveyard of dead genes known as pseudogenes, although there are indications that some of these may also have a function. They also found that genes can overlap and have multiple beginnings and ends.

In fact, most of the genome has been found to be an enormous control panel that codes for biochemical switches that regulate the activity of protein coding genes, or act as attachment sites for proteins that control gene activity. Ewan Birney of the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute, lead analysis coordinator for ENCODE, commented: “Our genome is simply alive with switches: millions of places that determine whether a gene is switched on or off”. Nature introduced the project on its website with the statement: “Far from being junk, the vast majority of our DNA participates in at least one biochemical event in at least one cell type, according to the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project”. Ewan Birney told the BBC: “The term junk DNA must now be junked. It’s clear from this research that a far bigger part of the genome is biologically active than was previously thought”.

ABC
BBC
Biology News Net
ScienceDaily

ED. COM. The concept of Junk DNA came from the evolutionary assumption that the human genome arrived at its current state as a result of millions of years of naturalistic chance random processes, and therefore the parts of it that did not have any obvious function must be useless by-products of this trial-and-error process. Fortunately human curiosity has prevailed and we are learning more and more amazing things about the way genomes work. However, discoveries made since the first draft of the human genome was published, such as the ENCODE project, have been made in spite of evolutionary theory, not because of it. The more we learn about how genomes work the more evidence we find for creative design. Even if the remaining 20 percent of the genome does not seem to be biochemically active and does turn out to be a graveyard of dead genes, that will be a sad reminder that the only changes we see to the genome in real time are loss of function or devolution and therefore are further evidence for the Biblical history of the world, i.e. Intelligent Design followed by Naturalistic Degeneration. However, as the ENCODE researchers suggest, there is evidence that so called “pseudogenes” have a function, and therefore they should be investigated before being declare dead. See our previous report “Baffled Molecular Biologists” here

When the human genome was first presented to the world in 2000 AD, Creation Research was asked about Junk DNA. We replied: “Junk DNA is defined as DNA without genetic meaning. We have not identified a function for most of the DNA in the human genome but this does not mean it is junk. The problem for junk DNA proponents is the same as it was for vestigial organs (i.e. appendix). The fact that we don’t know the function of something, be it a body organ or a piece of DNA, is an indication of our ignorance, not our origin. If we don’t know the function of something the true scientific approach is to do more research and find out what it does”. Since we wrote that, all discoveries made about the genome have far exceeded our expectations, and will no doubt continue to do so. However, the Biblical model of Creation followed by Degeneration is a much better explanation for the discoveries already made, and we predict the same will be true for all future discoveries. As they say in Tennessee where this editor is today; “God didn’t do no junk!” (Ref. prediction, genetics, genomics)

Dawkins Now Not Sure There Is No God

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph 24 February 2012.  Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, were involved in a public dialogue on the nature and origin of human beings.  During the discussion Dawkins admitted he was less than 100 percent sure there was no creator.  This startled the chairman of the discussion, philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny, into asking Dawkins: “Why don’t you call yourself an agnostic?” Dawkins answered that he did.  Sir Anthony then challenged him: “You are described as the world’s most famous atheist.”  Dawkins replied that he was “6.9 out of seven” sure of his beliefs, and added, “I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very very low.”

During the discussion the Archbishop said he was “inspired” by the “elegance” of Dawkins’ explanation for the origins of life, and agreed with much of it.  He also said that the explanation for the creation of the world in the Book of Genesis could not be taken literally.

He claimed: “The writers of the Bible, inspired as I believe they were, they were nonetheless not inspired to do 21st Century physics.”

Telegraph

ED. COM. So Dawkins is 1.4 percent less than 100 percent sure there is no Creator? (6.9 out of 7 is 98.6 percent)  By calling himself an agnostic Dawkins puts himself in the same category as his hero Charles Darwin, who said he had “never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God…I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.” (Letter to John Fordyce, 7 May 1879)

It seems the Archbishop of Canterbury is also a follower of Darwin, preferring the theories of men who were not there in the beginning to the word of God who was there.  However, the question that Dawkins and the Archbishop both need to answer is: What kind of god would create using a process of struggle, disease, famine and death?  Certainly not the God revealed in Genesis who is declared in the new Testament to be Jesus Christ, who created the heavens and earth and declared it to be “very good”, before it was ruined by man’s rebellion.  Darwin’s world was never good, for life evolved only by death and struggle. Sadly, by the end of his life Darwin had rejected the Bible, and rejected Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  However, as they say, while there is life there is hope, and who knows, maybe Dawkins’ 1.4 percent doubt in atheism could be turned into 1.4 percent faith in the Creator.  Who knows, we may see him a Christian yet.  Enough people pray for the man. (Ref. world view, religion, philosophy)

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