googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: April 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Lot of Fluff About Dinosaur Feathers

A few years back, there was a little buzz about feathers found preserved in amber. The amber was dated according to evolutionary dating methods to be about 78 million years old putting it squarely in the “age of the dinosaurs.” The supposed age of the feathers earned them the moniker of “dinosaur feathers.”

Dinosaur-to-bird evolution is a much loved fantasy in the theory's narrative. You may have noticed over the last few years how dinosaurs are now being drawn to look more bird-like. Scales have been replaced with a bright plumage and the stubby arms of bipedal dinosaurs are being revamped to look like wings. A find like this seems to reaffirm evolutionists' suspicions about dinos becoming birds.

In a report about the find, The Atlantic made the following comments:

Researchers led by University of Alberta paleontologist Ryan McKellar say these specimens represent distinct stages of feather evolution, from early-stage, single filament protofeathers to much more complex structures associated with modern diving birds.... This discovery is a pretty significant find. It supports a model for the evolution of feathers that has previously relied on compression fossils that are difficult to interpret and have been hotly debated.

As usual, I have some of my own opinions about the find.

First, it's more than a little presumptuous to say, “these specimens represent distinct stages of feather evolution.” Isn't that a conclusion? If all these feathers existed contemporaneously, then can't it just as truthfully be said they simply represent various levels of complexity among feathers? They don't support evolution unless I interpret them according to evolution. I could do something similar with dogs. For example, I could arrange dog skulls in order from smallest to largest and say, “These skulls represent the stages of dog evolution from the chihuahua to the great dane.” If evolution were true, I would expect the least complex feathers to be much older than the most complex feathers. I certainly wouldn't expect all the “stages” of feather evolution to exist at the same time. It could happen, I suppose, but it's not predicted by the theory.

Next, what evidence do they have that these feathers even belonged to dinosaurs? The Atlantic headline clearly says, “Dinosaur Feathers Found in Amber Reinforce Evolutionary Theories” but in the text of the article they admit, “[The researchers] can't determine which feathers belonged to birds or dinosaurs yet. Here's a thought – maybe none of them belonged to dinosaurs! Maybe they're all bird feathers. Some of these feathers are described as “nearly identical to those of modern birds.” So instead of being evidence that reinforces evolutionary theories, I could say it's evidence that modern birds existed simultaneously with their supposed ancestors. In other words, it's evidence against evolutionary theories.

Finally, there is nothing about creationism that predicts dinosaurs cannot have feathers. God created a variety of creatures. Many of them have certain features in common. When you talk about something like flight, birds have wings more similar to bat wings than insect wings. Even though God created birds with more features in common with bats than insects, it doesn't mean they're “more closely related” to bats. Likewise, there's no reason God could not have given dinosaurs a covering of some sort the same way He put feathers on birds and hair on mammals. Maybe they had a type of crude feather. Maybe they had complex feathers. Maybe they had some other fibrous structure that scientists are mistakenly calling, “proto-feathers.” Maybe they had none of these features and all the speculation of feathers on dinos is dead wrong. Whatever the case, it's not evidence against creation nor evidence for evolution.

I'll tell you exactly what scientists found – feathers in amber. That's the only “fact” in the story and, in some of the specimens, even that is suspect. The sensational headlines, the “evidence” for evolution, and the chest thumping by the researchers are all fluff.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It's Because of Science that I Believe Creation

The "god of the gaps" is a bit of theological reasoning which invokes divine intervention as a way to understand natural phenomena that science is presently unable to explain; since we don't know how x happens, it is assumed that Goddidit. Of course, scientists and most rationalists would argue that naturalistic explanations for still-mysterious phenomena are always possible.... The human brain appears to be hardwired to find causes for any "effect" experienced in the world, from eerie sounds, to scary thunder, to terrifying ground shakes, and deadly diseases. Early humans, just beginning to seek explanations for natural things they experienced in their world found answers by saying those things were caused by gods, or other supernatural figures (like ghosts or witches); many early "gods" are storm gods (such as Thor) or gods of the wind (the Kami, in Japan).... But as humans explored more, they found naturalistic answers to simple things they once attributed to gods. As humans developed a simplified scientific method, more "gaps" were filled with naturalistic answers. God or the supernatural were no longer needed as an explanation.

Creationists are often accused of using a god-of-the-gaps argument to bolster creationism. That is, it's sometimes said we point to a lack of any natural explanation for some phenomenon as though that were evidence for a supernatural explanation. I suppose that happens sometimes and we should be careful not to let that be our entire argument. On the other hand, it's not entirely unreasonable to suppose a natural explanation for the evidence doesn't exist because there truly is no natural explanation.

Consider, for a moment, that a suspect's fingerprints were found in blood at a murder scene. The most obvious conclusion is that the suspect was at the murder scene at about the time of the murder. His defense attorney might deny his client was there but without any plausible alternative of how his fingerprints got there, the jury will probably stick with the most obvious conclusion. The same is true about creation. One simple explanation for the existence of the universe is that it is the creation of God. Secular scientists might object but without any credible alternative explanation of how everything came into existence (aside from poofism), why should I summarily reject a very plausible explanation? Besides, if scientists don't know how matter came into existence, on what grounds can they insist it wasn't an act of God?

Let's set all that aside, though. My belief in creation isn't limited to what can't be explained by science. I believe in creation because of the things I already know are true! I'll start with design.

If I found pebbles stacked in the shape of a pyramid, I would know they were intentionally stacked that way. It doesn't matter that I didn't see them being stacked or that I don't know who stacked them, I would still know that they were arranged with intent and purpose. How do I know this? It's because I've learned that organization is the product of design.  Everyone has learned this.  We recognize design seemingly without effort.  In an instant, we can tell the difference between a pattern painted on the floor and paint spilled on the floor.  

Scientists know this already. If the Mars Rover found a rock with weird symbols engraved on it, they would immediately know some intelligent being carved them. It wouldn't matter if they couldn't read the symbols. It wouldn't matter if they never found out who carved them. The presence of the symbols alone would prompt a barrage of headlines saying, “Intelligent life was once on Mars!”

Life is remarkably organized. The DNA molecule is exceedingly complex – far more complex than a stack of pebbles or symbols carved on a rock. Our bodies are incredible machines with thousands of intricate parts. Our circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems are complicated and extremely fine tuned. Life is far more than a collection of chemicals – it's about organization.  Simply finding amino acids in nature is a far cry from believing amino acids could arrange themselves into a DNA molecule.  It's like the difference between pebbles strewn along a beach and pebbles stacked in the shape of a pyramid. It all screams of design. It screams so loudly that scientists go to great lengths to explain why things might seem designed but really aren't.

The organization of living things (from bacteria to basketball players) is evidence for creation. It's not that we don't know how life could happen so, therefore, goddidit. Instead, we know it's created because we know organization is the result of intelligence. So, yes! God did it!

But besides the obvious design we see in nature, there's another scientific principle I've learned that tells me the universe was created. I believe it was in my 9th grade physical science class where I first heard the phrase “matter can neither be created nor destroyed – it can only change forms.” It wasn't until much later that I understood this is a scientific law called the conservation of matter/energy. You can convert matter into energy (as in Einstein's famous formula, E=mc2) but the total amount of matter/energy in the universe remains constant.

So if new matter isn't being created, where did all the existing matter come from? Scientifically speaking, I know it can't be created naturally. Therefore, it must have been created supernaturally. That is the only other option. I think secular scientists truly want to have it both ways. When pressed about the origin of matter, they sometimes weakly appeal to some quantum mechanism where electrons seem to appear out of nothing but they still refuse to abandon the trusted certainty that the net matter/energy in the universe doesn't change. They want us to believe the universe poofed into existence while simultaneously telling us matter doesn't poof into existence. It's funny. I already know matter doesn't poof into existence. Therefore, I know that matter and time and space were supernaturally created.

There are probably other examples I could give but let's wrap this up. Creation is sort of like the miracles performed by Jesus. If I lived in a 3rd world country, I might think David Blaine was a sorcerer. However, I know they're really just card tricks. They may be clever, but they're not magic. It is by that same principle that I can identify the miracles of Jesus. People can't really walk on water. People can't really rise from the dead. It is because I can understand how nature works that I know Jesus performed miracles.

Matter exists but it couldn't have been created naturally. Organization exists but it couldn't have been created naturally. They're miracles. And I don't believe they're miracles simply because science doesn't have any explanation for them. It's precisely because I understand science that I understand the creation is a miracle.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

Easter 2015

Reflecting on this moment’s fears
My thoughts go back two thousand years
I think of how it happened then
The Judge of all was judged by men

Condemned because he spoke good news
And charged as king; King of the Jews
Yet in his heart he held no wrath
He chose to walk another path

So I, for one, will do my part
To emulate His Sacred Heart
Regardless where the times have brought us
To love, just as the Savior taught us

To conquer all the hate and lies
And, living his example…Rise.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Laetoli Footprints: Surprisingly human tracks for an ape!

The most discussed, non-Homo ancestor of modern humans presented by evolutionists is certainly Australopithecus afarensis, represented by the famous, partial skeleton dubbed, “Lucy.” Models of her skeleton are a staple in probably every natural history museum in the world. You've probably seen one first hand. If you have seen one, you may have noticed that it is only about 40% complete. There are no feet and the only bone found of the hands is a single bone of one finger.

Complete skeletons of large animals are extremely rare in the fossil record. That's just the way it is. But this was a supposed human ancestor and the subject of much interest. Scientists wanted to reconstruct what the creature might have looked like but how can they credibly do that without having its hands or feet? I present to you, The Laetoli Footprints!

The Laetoli Footprints are human footprints found in volcanic ash dated by evolutionists to about the same time as Lucy (3myo). Per Wikipedia, Although it is highly debated, it is believed the three individuals who made these footprints belonged to the species Australopithecus afarensis.” “Highly debated,” huh? I'm not too sure about that one unless they mean, “Highly contested by creationists.” It is precisely because of these footprints that every, secular reconstruction of Australopithecus I've ever seen sports human hands and feet. In fact, the Wiki article goes on to discuss the prints as though they certainly belong to A. afarensis.

Human hands are somewhat similar to ape hands. However, human footprints are not like the footprint of any creature. The Laetoli Footprints prints are very human-like. Per the same Wiki article, The footprints themselves were an unlikely discovery because they are almost indistinguishable from modern human footprints, even being almost 4 million years old. It is noted that the toe pattern is much the same as the human foot, which is much different than the feet of chimpanzees and other non bipedal beings. The footprint impression has been interpreted as the same as the modern human stride, with the heel striking first and then a weight transfer to the ball of the foot before pushing off the toes.”

Pardon me while I have a chuckle. If I found footprints that are indistinguishable from human footprints, both in anatomy and stride, my first thought would be that they belonged to humans! It is my opinion that the only reason these have been assigned to A. afarensis is because evolutionary theory proposes that modern humans had not yet evolved at this time and the only other known candidate that might make such a print is A. afarensis. This is clearly a case of shaping the facts to fit the theory rather than the theory to the facts.

Do you think I'm wrong? Then let me point out another quote from the article and see what you think:

Other prints show the presence of twenty different animal species besides A. afarensis, among them hyenas, wild cats (Machairodus), baboons, wild boars, giraffes, gazelles, rhinos, several kinds of antelope, Hipparion, buffaloes, elephant relatives (of the extinct Deinotherium genus), hares and birds.

Look at this artistic rendering of what the scene at Laetoli might have looked like (supposedly) 3 million years ago.  See the ostrich, elephants, giraffes, and guineas?  Do you have any trouble identifying what any of them are?  

Now I've been outdoors enough to know that animal tracks are very distinct. I've never seen a giraffe's tracks (around here I see things like deer, rabbit, and raccoon) but if these scientists have identified a track as a giraffe's, they're probably right. It's funny, though, when I imagine the conversations these scientists were having as they uncovered different tracks:

Oh, look – rhino tracks. They belong to a rhino.
Oh, look – hyena tracks. They belong to a hyena.
Oh, look – baboon tracks. They belong to a baboon.
Oh, look – human tracks. They belong to Australopithecus afarensis.

When you find a human footprint, the most obvious interpretation is that it belongs to a human. I mean, when they see the rhino track they don't question it belongs to a rhino. I never read headlines that say, “unknown species made footprints indistinguishable from a modern rhino's.” The Laetoli tracks are clear evidence that modern humans were contemporary with A. afarensis. Secular scientists, though, close their eyes to that possibility because of their theory. They aren't going where the evidence leads. Their theory is leading them around by the nose.

Oh, by the way, wouldn't this be another out of place fossil? Modern human footprints found in volcanic ash dated at 3 million years old? If nothing else, this is further evidence that Dawkins lied when he said a single, out of date order fossil would disprove his theory.

Now let's back up for a minute. Remember that scientists did not have Lucy's hands or feet. The reconstructions of Lucy, which always depict A. afarensis as having human (albeit hairy) hands and feet, are based solely on the human footprint found at Laetoli. The problem is that, since Lucy, we've found more A. afarensis skeletons which are more complete and some even include bones from the feet! One example is “Little Foot,” discovered about 20 years ago. I've included an artistic reconstruction of Little Foot's foot published on Wiki. Even a layperson like me can see that that foot could not have made the Laetoli footprints. It's very apelike. So the next time you're at a museum and see an A. afarensis exhibited with human hands and feet, you'll know they're lying to you.

Let me conclude on this point: A. afarensis did not make the footprint in the volcanic ash in Laetoli. So what did? I suggest the answer is obvious. Human footprints are made by humans! A. afarensis is merely another species of ape. They may be extinct now, but they lived at the same time as modern humans. They are not the ancestors of modern humans.