Baptist Brethren

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Archive for the ‘Evolution’ Category

Why Are Human Genes Still Linked?

Posted by Chris Cline on August 6, 2008

U.S. News and World Report recently ran a story titled “What Will Human Beings Become?”1 It asked the question “How will humanity evolve?” and attempted to collate various phenomena that are considered to have bearing on the future of humanity’s genetic makeup. Interestingly, one of the supposed evolutionary trends that was included seems instead to point to a recent creation of humankind.2, 3

The story reported on the research that anthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin conducted involving “linkage disequilibrium” patterns in genes. This is the observation that genes that are found close to one another, like adjacent beads on a string, tend to stay close even after they have been copied and transmitted to the next generation. A process called “crossing over” that occurs during sex cell development serves to disperse or redistribute the linked genes over time. If crossing over has been occurring for hundreds of thousands of years, there should not be many linked genes—they should have been thoroughly shuffled throughout the “deck of cards” that is the human genome.

What did Hawks’ study find? Many, many genes are still linked together.4 Hawks found “that recent genetic changes account for about 7 percent of the human genome.”1 How recent is “recent”? According to the U.S. News report, human evolution was static for eons before suddenly jump-starting from 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. This may coincide with biblical history, which describes the dispersal of mankind over the earth after the Flood about 4,000 years ago.5

Hawks said that “linkage disequilibrium decays quickly as recombination occurs across many generations, so finding these uninterrupted [still linked] segments is strong evidence of recent adaptation.”6 The youthful appearance of our gene distribution fits well within a plainly understood biblical history. It is strong evidence that the eons of slow evolution that supposedly preceded the relatively recent gene-shuffling never actually happened.

References

  1. Shute, N. 2008. What Will Human Beings Become? U.S. News and World Report. 145 (3): 40-42.
  2. See Morris, H. 1984. Recent Creation Is a Vital Doctrine. Acts & Facts. 13 (6).
  3. See Vardiman, L. ICR GENE Project. ICR News. Posted on http://www.icr.org April 1, 2005, accessed July 31, 2008.
  4. Dunning, A.M. et al. 2000. The extent of linkage disequilibrium in four populations with distinct demographic histories. American Journal of Human Genetics. 67 (6): 1544–1554. Picturing DNA bases as playing cards, Dunning found evidence that of the 3 billion DNA bases in the human genome, groups of up to 500,000 are still intact, not having been shuffled. This indicates a very youthful humanity, perhaps having experienced a very severe population bottleneck several thousand years ago, just as the Bible describes.
  5. Nelson, C. 2004. Genetic Variability and Human History. Creation Technical Journal. 18 (3): 18-23.
  6. Mattmiller, B. Genome study places modern humans in the evolutionary fast lane. Posted on University of Wisconsin News online December 10, 2007, accessed July 31, 2008. John Hawk’s research was published in December 2007 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 20753-20758.

Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.

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Posted in Christian, Creationist, Evolution | 2 Comments »

Extinction Events Are Declining to the Biblical Level

Posted by Chris Cline on July 30, 2008

New research may change conventional thinking on fossil diversity and extinction rates.1 John Alroy, a researcher at the University of California Santa Barbara, and 34 other scientists recently completed a 10-year study on the subject, published in the journal Science.2

Other scientists tend to count just the first and last occurrences of fossils, but Alroy and his colleagues undertook the monumental task of examining the over 280,000 known fossil records, with the help of the extensive and detailed web-based Paleobiology Database. They concluded that earth has experienced only three major extinction periods, instead of the long-held belief that there were five—at the end of the Ordovician, the late Devonian, the end of the Permian, the end of the Triassic, and the end of the Cretaceous—also known as the “Big Five.”

Conventional paleontology held that species recovered and diversified slowly and gradually after a major extinction event. However, this new research contends that species that survived extinction events “diversified” rapidly, only to then level off (stop evolving) for vast periods of time. This does not fit with Darwinian models, which would predict the slow, gradual, continual evolution of species.

The creation model, however, fits Alroy’s conclusions rather well. In this model, there was one—not three—mass extinction event. Those species that survived the catastrophe carried on, retaining their forms and identities, and leaving a record of having leveled off. They never went on to morph into different kinds.

Present research has narrowed earth’s major extinction events from five to three. Future research may well compress those three into one large extinction event coinciding with Genesis chapters 6-9. To date, the only historical event that fits fully with the fossil evidence is the Flood of Noah’s age as documented in the Bible.

References

  1. Disproving Conventional Wisdom on Diversity of Marine Fossils and Extinction Rates. Science News. Posted on ScienceDaily.com July 14, 2008, accessed July 15, 2008.
  2. Alroy, J. et al. 2008. Phanerozoic trends in the global diversity of marine invertebrates. Science. 321: 5885.

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Oceanic Currents and the Paths of the Sea

Posted by Chris Cline on July 12, 2008

Have scientists found the “paths of the seas”? Psalm 8:6-9 says, “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!”

We know that there are currents and gyres in the oceans, and these may be part of what the psalmist was referring to. However, scientists concede ignorance of ocean circulation patterns, and, as always, more research needs to be done.

Physicist Hepeng Zhang of the University of Texas at Austin, however, has discovered an undersurface wave crashing phenomenon that could be maintaining the slope angle of continental shelves, and may be involved in ocean current mixing.1 In an article posted on ScienceDaily, Professor Zhang said, “How exactly this will contribute to ocean circulation, I really don’t know, but it is definitely a step we have to understand before we can understand global ocean circulation.”2

Experiments in an aquarium have shown that when underwater wave angles match the angle of the continental slope, “intense waves”2 result. Sediment from continental runoff would, unless otherwise redistributed, pile up and form steep continental slopes. The newly discovered waves are called boundary flows, and are found at the underwater boundary between layers of water with different densities. They may be eroding sediment, mixing it, and maintaining the shallow (three degree average) continental slope angle.

“The internal waves could also play a role in larger ocean currents by bringing cold water up from the deep ocean to the surface at the equator,” said Professor Zhang.2 It is significant that in both oceanic and other sciences, there is no experimental data that conflicts with biblical information, rightly interpreted. We hope to discover more about our oceanic currents and we anticipate that new discoveries, like this one, will underscore the truth of Scripture.

References

  1. Zhang, H. P. et al. 2008. Resonant Generation of Internal Waves on a Model Continental Slope. Physical Review Letters. 100 (24): 244504. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.100.244504
  2. Invisible waves shape continental slope. Science News. Posted on sciencedaily.com July 1, 2008, accessed July 2, 2008.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.

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Dinosaur Fossil Erases 40 Million Years

Posted by Chris Cline on June 23, 2008

The standard story of the origin of Australia goes something like this: Many millions of years ago, the earth had one continent called Pangaea. Around 120 million years ago, a landmass that included the future Africa and South America inexplicably broke off and began pulling away. Then, 80 million years ago Australia separated from Antarctica—thus Australia became isolated. The creatures trapped on Australia underwent millions of years of evolution separately from the creatures on other continents, since there was no breeding across continents then.

All it takes is one fossil bone to throw a wrench into that tale. The Herald Sun reported on June 12, 2008, that a 19cm forearm bone was found near Cape Otway, Australia. The bone looks just like one from the South American megaraptor! How did a South American land-dwelling dinosaur get to Australia? The Sun reports, “The investigators say the two dinosaurs are so similar that land bridges must have persisted between southern South America and the Western Antarctic Archipelago ‘until at least the Late Eocene,’ a period that began some 40 million years ago.”1

Wait a minute. Was Australia connected to other continents via land bridges 80 million years ago, or 40? Are either of these estimates even in the ballpark?

This fossil discovery fits well with a biblical history, which goes something like this: Around 2348 BC, a worldwide flood crushed and reshaped the earth’s surface, breaking up a single landmass (Pangaea) into continents and fossilizing countless living things. Prior to the Flood megalodons roamed Pangaea, during the Flood they were fossilized, and in the late Flood stages the boundaries of new continents (along with their fossils) were roughly shaped. Unlike the standard story, the outlines of this history have been testified to by reliable eyewitnesses, and this testimony has been faithfully preserved in Genesis.

Reference

1. History a bone of contention after dinosaur find. The Herald Sun. Posted online at Heraldsun.com.au June 12, 2008, accessed June 17, 2008.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.

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Fresh Kiwis

Posted by Chris Cline on June 10, 2008

Ancient dates have once again been reevaluated and found to be less than accurate. Instances from every isotopic dating technique have been routinely rejected for decades. Typically, the newest “date” is pronounced superior, and post hoc caveats are invented to explain the inferiority of the old dates. One standard has remained consistent, however—the belief in millions of years. The recent revision of the accepted date of human arrival in New Zealand is refreshingly different.

Science News reported Dr Janet Wilmhurst from Landcare Research as saying, “As the Pacific rat or kiore cannot swim very far, it can only have arrived in New Zealand with people on board their canoes….Therefore, the earliest evidence of the Pacific rat in New Zealand must indicate the arrival of people.”1 In 1996, Nature published that carbon dating of rat bones from archaeological sites in New Zealand revealed their ages to be approximately 200 B.C.2

Dr. Wilmhurst has re-performed carbon dating of rat bones from the same sites, but has added dates from other sources, including over one hundred seeds. She concludes that “the earliest dates for rat and human arrival are strikingly consistent with the oldest dates from archaeological sites, the first large clearances of forest by fire, and declines or extinctions of marine and land-based fauna. It now seems certain that the first Maori settlers arrived in New Zealand sometime about 1280 A.D.”1

This is a case study in quality origin science. The way to investigate a question about the past is to overlay a variety of evidences from many angles and draw conclusions straight from the data. In this case, research indicates that 1,000 years needs to be removed from the previous date of the arrival of the New Zealand colonizers.

This fits well with a biblical timeline. If the Deluge occurred near 2348 B.C.,3 if a single Ice Age followed that by about 500 years, then—given time for ocean levels to stabilize according to Psalm 104:6-8—the New Zealand coastline would have been prepared for discovery well before 1280 A.D.

References

  1. New Zealand’s Colonization 1000 Years Later Than Previously Thought? Science News. Posted on ScienceDaily.com June 4, 2008, accessed June 5, 2008.
  2. Holdaway, R.N. 1996. Arrival of rats in New Zealand. Nature. 384: 225-226.
  3. See “Chronology for everybody” by Ruth Beechick, available at creationontheweb.com.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.

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