August 2nd, 2009 by Daniel Kolenda

Adovasio hold up ancient tool as evidence of early human settlement

I was practically screaming at my television set as I watched this. I don’t usually get so carried away when scientists say things that are intellectually dishonest. Actually, I guess I’ve come to expect it after many hours of watching NOVA and Steven Hawking. But this time, I couldn’t contain myself.

This was an episode of Naked Science on the National Geographic Channel that aired on Sunday, July 26th. The show’s thesis was that, new scientific evidence is suggesting that human beings had somehow made their way to the Americas thousands of years earlier than archeologists once thought. And these humans were not the hairy knuckle dragging cave men that your high school textbooks might suggest, but rather highly intelligent sea-faring engineers of amazing skill.

For the most compelling evidence of this they turned to J.M. Adovasio, PH.D, who is the director of Mercyhurst Archeological Institute. Adovasio is excavating an archeological site at Medocroft Rock Shelter, 35 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He and his team have been peeling this excavation site back layer by layer for the last 33 years. Each layer is carbon dated for age and they are able to record their findings for each chronological snapshot of time like flipping through the pages of a history book.

It was thought that the first Americans arrived on the continent 13,500 years ago, but when Adovasio reached the 13,500-year mark he kept digging. He describes what he was finding as, “unprecedented materials”. After another year of digging, they found an artifact that would “re-write the history books”.

Adovasio himself holds up a small black rock that appears to be polished in a slightly triangular shape. He twiddles it back and forth in this fingers holding it close to the camera and declares, “This very delicate tool is the oldest form tool from the site. It’s slightly older than 16,000 years.” Then the host says with confident assurance, “This find suggests that there was human life in North America 16,000 years ago…BECAUSE IF THERE WAS A TOOL – THERE WERE PEOPLE.”

This rock is SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE worthy of REWRITING THE TEXTBOOKS that human beings lived in America much earlier than previously thought. They were certain that people must have been there because tools don’t just make themselves. Could they observe the people who were there? No. Could they touch them or talk to them? No. The remnants of one of their tools was evidence enough. “…IF THERE WAS A TOOL – THERE WERE PEOPLE.” Its as simple as that.

It would be one thing if they found a typewriter or a bicycle or a computer chip…but they found – a rock…a polished rock. This little black rock is considered watertight scientific evidence that people were there because, “…IF THERE WAS A TOOL – THERE WERE PEOPLE.”

Wait…Are you telling me that that little triangular rock couldn’t have just kind of evolved that way? Don’t you think it’s feasible that the water or weather or something other than an intelligent human designer could have contributed over thousands of years to the slightly triangular shape of this rock? Yet there is no dispute from the scientific community. The evidence is conclusive – “IF THERE WAS A TOOL – THERE WERE PEOPLE”. Any moron could make such a simple deduction…right?

Now I’m no scientist, but I see a little bit of hypocrisy here. If a tiny, black, triangular rock, is scientific evidence that intelligent people must have made it, what are we to think about the trillions upon trillions upon trillions of atoms that make up our planet, each with electrons spinning with the synchronization of a Swiss watch around a nucleus made of protons and neutrons, like a self contained solar system?

What about the unbelievably complex design of our bodies that employ the aid of over 200 muscles just to take a single step?

What about the human eye, which is so elegant that scientists still don’t fully understand how it works? It completes 100,000 separate functions in a single day and it even conducts its own maintenance work while we sleep. It has automatic aim, focus and aperture adjustment. It even provides color and 3-D images and it can automatically function from darkness to bright light instantly. It can discern over 10 million color hues, including 500 shades of grey alone and can take in more information than the largest, most complicated telescopes ever invented.

What about our skin which contains in ONE SQUARE INCH; 4 yards of nerve fibers, 600 pain sensors, 1300 nerve cells, 36 heat sensors, 75 pressure sensors, 100 sweat glands, 3 million cells, 3 yards of blood vessels and 9000 nerve endings which send messages to our brain at speeds of up to 124 mph?

What about our brains, which only weigh about 3 pounds and yet contain 12 billion cells each of which is connected to 10,000 other brain cells, making 120 trillion connections. The brain stores so much memory data that by the age of 40, it would take the Empire State building full of computers just to store the same amount of information. It generates more electrical impulses in a single day then all of the world telephones put together, yet it uses less energy than a refrigerator light.

What about the DNA molecules in our bodies – the most complex molecules in the universe. Their code is so unbelievably elaborate that if you typed out all the DNA code in your body, it would create enough books to fill Grand Canyon 40 times.

What about bacteria such as E. Coli, which is equipped with a propulsion system, complete with a motor, rotor, stator, drive shaft, bushings, universal joint and flexible propeller; 40 moving parts in all, made solely from protein molecules. The ion powered motor can rotate at up to 100,000 rpm, can reverse direction in only 1/4 of a revolution and has an automatic feedback control mechanism. In spite of it’s enormous complexity, its size is only 1/100,000 of an inch (1/4,000 mm) in width.

Of course I could go on and on and on talking about the wonders gravity and magnetism that science still cannot fully explain, the flawless rhythm of the solar system, the perfect balance of nitrogen and oxygen in earths atmosphere that makes life possible, the amazing order in nature that forms a self supporting system of life, reproduction and disposal. But is any of this necessary? The scientific community is holding up a triangular shaped rock as conclusive evidence of intelligent (human) design.

Now I’m not asking any scientists to fall on their face and confess Jesus as Lord, all I am asking for is a little bit of honesty and humility. If there is a tool than simple logic suggests that there must have been a person who fashioned it and if there is an amazing world full of incomprehensible wonders of design then maybe, just maybe it’s possible that there is a designer. No wonder Psalms 14:1 says, “The fool saith in his heart there is no God”.

Posted in Philosophy & Science Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

May 21st, 2009 by M. French

Smithsonian Magazine’s Brian Switek had the following to say with regard to the Ida fossil being described as “the missing link” by many:

Is Darwinius important to understanding primate evolution? Of course! It is an exceptionally preserved specimen that could do much to aid our understanding of adapid evolution and paleobiology. The grand claims about it being our ancestor, though, can not be upheld as true. The researchers simply did not do the work to support their case, and even if their language was more reserved in the technical paper they have gone hand-in-hand with the History Channel to create an aura of sensationalism around the fossil. I hardly think this is a responsible way to conduct or communicate science, flooding the media with poorly supported claims, but as reported in the New York Times some of this paper’s authors care more about marketing than about good science;

“Any pop band is doing the same thing,” said Jorn H. Hurum, a scientist at the University of Oslo who acquired the fossil and assembled the team of scientists that studied it. “Any athlete is doing the same thing. We have to start thinking the same way in science.”

This is a shame. I would have hoped that this fossil would receive the care and attention it deserves, but for now it looks like a cash cow for the History Channel. Indeed, this association may not have only presented overblown claims to the public, but hindered good science, as well. As Karen James has suggested, the overall poor quality of the paper and the disproportionate hyping of the find make me wonder if this research was rushed into publication so that the media splash would occur on time. The paper tried to cover so much, so quickly, and contained so many shortfalls that I honestly have to wonder why it was allowed to be published in such a state. Perhaps we will never know, but I am sickened by the way in which a cable network has bastardized a legitimately fascinating scientific discovery, with the scientists themselves going along with it every step of the way. I can only hope that Darwinius will eventually receive the careful analysis it deserves.

We are clearly blessed to have such a well-preserved fossil to aid in our understanding of biology and human origins, but let’s be patient in our search for truth. When someone like Switek, who it should be noted makes evolution a focus in his writings for the Smithsonian, argues that “the grand claims about [Ida] being our ancestor […] can not be upheld as true,” and “the researchers simply did not do the work to support their case,” we should be careful not to extrapolate scientific truth from the fossil prematurely, particularly as it relates to any sort of “final verdict” on human origins.

Posted in News, Philosophy & Science Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

May 20th, 2009 by M. French

Researchers say they have found the “missing link” between humans and apes in a fossilized primate they have dated at 47 million years old. According to Daily News:

A team of researchers Tuesday unveiled an almost perfectly intact fossil of a 47 million-year-old primate they say represents the long-sought missing link between humans and apes.

Officially known as Darwinius masillae, the fossil of the lemur-like creature dubbed Ida shows it had opposable thumbs like humans and fingernails instead of claws.

Scientists say the cat-sized animal’s hind legs offer evidence of evolutionary changes that led to primates standing upright – a breakthrough that could finally confirm Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“This specimen is like finding the Lost Ark for archeologists,” lead scientist Jorn Hurum said at a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History.

“It is the scientific equivalent of the Holy Grail. This fossil will probably be the one that will be pictured in all textbooks for the next 100 years.”

The History Channel will air a film concerning the fossil next week, the promo is below: [Link to Video]

Interestingly, the announcement of this research comes just a few weeks after the launch of evangelical Christian Francis Collins’ pro-evolution BioLogos initiative (for perspective on how the BioLogos team believes God could have had a role in evolution, click here).

Robert Crowther at Evolution News & Views of the pro-intelligent-design Discovery Institute was not shaken by the news:

If they weren’t atheists, you’d think the scientists raising the ballyhoo over Ida were hailing the second coming.

Here is yet another icon of evolution. Every time one of these discoveries is made, there’s a huge PR snow job from the Darwin lobby to make it seem like it answers all the questions and objections. I thought Tiktaalik did that. Or maybe Archaeopteryx. It goes at least as far back as Proconsul. Each time the Darwinists seem to forget they already found the missing link — the one fossil to rule them all — and re-find it all over again.

At least CBS News was a bit more skeptical than Sky News when they reported it on Friday.

While the fossil doesn’t relate to the more heated debate over whether chimpanzees and humans share a common identity – the fossil is not the so-called “missing link” — the two factions will likely pounce on this new find with evolutionists claiming the skeleton adds to the limited fossil record.

Today’s Sky News article is amazing in its breathless excitement over this latest missing link. Naturally, this more nuanced and balanced piece is the one the media is jumping on and trumpeting today.

The discovery of the 95%-complete ‘lemur monkey’ – dubbed Ida – is described by experts as the “eighth wonder of the world”.

For perspective on another fossil that was proclaimed to have “illuminat[ed] our ancestors’ transition from sea to land,” only later to be dismissed as a fossil of “poor” quality with radials that “did not seem to match the way modern fingers and toes radiate from a joint, parallel to each other” by evolutionists, take a look at Evolution News & Views’ TikTaalik article.

Posted in News, Philosophy & Science Tagged with: , , , , , , ,