Posted tagged ‘Genesis Flood’

21st Century Research Smashes Molecular Clock Myths

December 1, 2011

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Belief in evolutionism requires one to reject the authority of Scripture regarding special creation of humans, along with different created kinds, or baramins, of living organisms. Biblical history must also be rejected, because millions of years are apparently required for nature to perform its evolutionary magic. Belief in evolutionism forces one to cling to a number of 19th and 20th Century hypotheses that use artificial constructs like the geologic column and Thomas Malthus’ population data as evidence for bacteria-to-people evolution.

Fortunately, the more we learn about Earth and life in the 21st Century, the more they proclaim the glory of their Creator and the Truth of the incredible story revealed in Scripture. An example of 21st Century research is the mounting evidence against the idea of molecular clocks. Natural history researchers look at differences in genes along with fossil evidence to determine when two species diverged from a common ancestor. For the human species, researchers use molecular clocks to predict the date of “Mitochondrial Eve”, our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) that supposedly originated in Africa.

Molecular clocks came into use in the 1960s. In the 1990 edition of Biology by Neil Campbell, an age between 200,000 and 400,000 years is given for “Eve” (p. 669). Moving ahead to 2004, we find in the 10th edition of Biology by Starr and Taggart that Eve is now only 100,000 to 200,000 years old (p. 471). The fact that the estimates were cut in half, on top of the huge error involved (50%), would make any reasonable scientist question molecular clocks.

And they do. As we entered the 21st century, we saw F.J. Ayala’s paper titled “Molecular Clock Mirages”. In 2006, world renowned evolutionary biologist Thomas Cavalier-Smith stated in a paper “Evolution is not evenly-paced and there are no real molecular clocks.” And then there’s F. Chang’s study using genealogy and statistics to predict an MRCA of less than 1,000 years ago. Chang began with an overly-simplified model, so over the next few years he added to it, and in 2003 colleague D. Rohde published research revealing an MRCA of between 2,000 and 5,000 years ago. And molecular clock skeptics Thorne and Wolpoff voiced their opinions in the 2003 Human Evolution Special Issue of Scientific American, flatly stating “putting aside the idea of a molecular clock, one can interpret the genetic data in a much more reasonable way.” (p. 52).

In 2004, Rohde, Chang, and Olson published their latest findings in Nature, and their computations shift the MRCA from Africa to somewhere in Asia. They also calculated that “all modern individuals have identical ancestors by about 3,000 BC.” Mentioning that their computer simulation was “far too conservative”, they used some more realistic numbers to come up with a “mean MRCA date is as recent as AD 55 and the mean IA date is 2,158 BC.”

The identical ancestors (IA) point differs from the MRCA. The MRCA is believed to have had many contemporaries of both sexes, and some of these also left unbroken chains of descendents down to today’s population. The IA differs in that it pushes further back in time to the point where populations can be divided into two groups: a group that left no descendents today, and a group from which all modern humans descended from. Such a scenario could arise from a population bottleneck, and the obvious example that comes to mind is the Flood described in the book of Genesis, which occurred around 2500 BC. The date of the Flood is within the range of IA dates computed by Rohde et al. During the Flood, a human population of 8 survived, and all others perished. While Rohde et al’s research does not “prove” the Genesis Flood, it definitely doesn’t rule it out.

In 2008, a paper by Matsen and Evans tried to tie genetics with the genealogy of Rohde et al, and they simply concluded genetic diversity is related to the number of descendants, confirming the ability of Rohde et al’s model to explain the human diversity we see today as resulting from a very recent ancestor.

21st Century research using genealogies instead of genetics may be a bit confusing, but the reason for that is not just the complex mathematics involved, but the basic fact that confusion exists over what happened in the past. To add to the confusion, in 2008 fossil collectors discovered a human footprint alongside that of a dinosaur. Fossil evidence like this is no problem for Christians who trust the historical accuracy of Scripture, but it is a huge contradiction to many others’ beliefs about the past. Is this fossil real?

The truth is, there will ALWAYS be confusion about what happened in the past because we cannot go back and verify it. Natural history research is not the same thing as testable, repeatable science, and should be approached as a “mixed question”, requiring inputs not just from science, but mainly history, followed by art, and philosophy. “Belief” in past events though is based on faith, either a God-given faith (Ephesians 2:8-9)in the story revealed in Scripture, or a blind faith in something else. Everybody believes in something, what do you believe?

Black Skimmer

May 6, 2011

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The Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) is my favorite bird. It is a bird with incredible abilities. Below is a photo of a Black Skimmer that will help you see where it got the name “skimmer”:

Copyright 2010, David E. Shormann, PhD

As you can see in the photo below, the skimmer family (Rynchopidae) differs from all other bird families because their bottom mandible, or bill, is much longer than their upper mandible:

Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

The longer, knifelike lower mandible, or bill, helps the Black Skimmer catch fish. The base of the bill is red-orange and the tip is black. The bird flies slowly along leeward shorelines, where wave action is less pronounced, and skims its lower bill just beneath the surface. Precision flying is required to keep the bill in the water for any distance, and the relatively long wings (up to 48 inches) of the skimmer, relative to its body (16-20 inches), help it maintain a level glide. Notice the long wings in the photo below:

Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

When a fish hits the Black Skimmer’s lower bill, the bird’s head will automatically bend down and back, which traps the fish. The skimmer then flies up and swallows the fish. Here’s a short YouTube video by EstuaryLiveTV showing a Black Skimmer capturing a fish:

If the skimmer’s fish-catching techniques are not impressive enough, consider that it also does this at night! That is why its upper surface is black, to camouflage it for night-fishing. Also, notice when its bill is open, the only color a fish that is in front of it would see is black. It would not see the orange-red section. What an incredible design!

The skimmer family, Rynchopidae, consists of only two other species, one from Africa (R. flavirostris) and the other from Asia (R. Albicollis). All skimmers look essentially the same, with slight differences in color patterns and calls. All skimmers live along rivers and estuaries, and lay their eggs on open areas like sandy beaches and shell reefs. They typically nest in colonies, often with other birds like terns. Here is a video of a small Black Skimmer colony nesting in a remote section of East Matagorda Bay in Texas. Listen for the distinct “kaup” call of the Black Skimmer, compared to the terns that are also quite vocal:

Black Skimmers, like many other bird species (and like humans are supposed to do!), mate with one individual for life. After the eggs are laid, the couple takes turns incubating them. In the following photo, the mate farthest from the camera is incubating a pair of eggs:

Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

According to the Outdoor Alabama website, the typical Black Skimmer clutch averages four eggs.   The pair above only had two eggs, and this could be because 1) the female still had more eggs to lay, or 2) storms washed the other eggs away. Black Skimmers along the Gulf of Mexico Coast typically lay their eggs in May, and the eggs take about 3 weeks to hatch. Here is a photo of this couple’s clutch in early May, 2011:

Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

As you can tell, the eggs are designed to be camouflaged against their shelly background. See if you can find the same eggs in the photo below. Click on the photo to enlarge it:

Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

Give up? They are in the top right corner of the photo.

If you are not impressed by the incredible design of the Black Skimmer, then I’m afraid nothing will impress you! In His goodness, God made this bird incredibly special and unique. Some bird groups, a.k.a. “baramins”, like warblers, have more diversity since the Genesis Flood, but not skimmers. Three “species” (maybe not really species?) exist worldwide. Skimmers catch dinner by skimming their enlarged lower mandible through shallow water, somehow avoiding all underwater obstacles (I’ve never seen a skimmer “crash!”), and they even do it on the blackest of  nights! They lay well-camouflaged eggs, and the parents, who mate for life, take turn incubating the eggs and raising the young. Awesome!

Click here for a coloring page of the Black Skimmer. Remember, the Black Skimmer is black on top, so use the thin line that is beneath the eye as your border between the black and white.