Archive of items from Evidence News

ABC reports “rich history of Aboriginal Australia” in ABC News 22 September 2016. They reported: “The most comprehensive genomic study of Indigenous Australians to date has revealed modern humans are all descendants of a single wave of migrants who left Africa about 72,000 years ago.” According to the ABC the claims are based on a study by an international group of scientists who analysed the genomes of Aboriginal Australians from the Pama-Nyungan-speaking language group and genomes of people in the Papua New Guinea highlands.

The ABC article claims the aboriginal study “reveals Papuan and Aboriginal ancestors left Africa around 72,000 years ago and then split from the main group around 58,000 years ago. … They reached the supercontinent of 'Sahul' that originally united Tasmania, Australia and New Guinea around 50,000 years ago, picking up the DNA of Neanderthals, Denisovans and another extinct hominin along the way.” David Lambert, who was involved with the study, suggests that aboriginals entered Australia at Cape York (the northernmost tip of Australia) and “there was a divergence of a whole lot of people from Cape York, we think about 30,000 years ago.”

Colleen Wall, one of the aboriginal elders who worked with the scientists, commented: "As a society we already believe that we are the oldest race on Earth, and from my point of view this research goes some way towards proving that."

ABC

Editorial Comment: Warning: don't read any further if you wish to avoid the clash between truth and political correctness. If you don't mind a bit of clanging, then guess what? The ABC failed to report the two clearly stated assumptions used by the researchers in their original report in Nature, and these two assumptions are enough to blow major holes in the complete study.

The Nature authors stated clearly: “Our genetic-based time estimates are relative, and to obtain absolute dates we relied on two rescaling parameters: the human mutation rate and generation time (assumed to be 1.25×10−8 per generation per site and 29 years, respectively, based on recent estimates)”. (section in brackets in original) These researchers concluded: “We find that Papuan and Aboriginal Australian ancestors diversified 25–40 thousand years ago (kya), suggesting pre-Holocene population structure in the ancient continent of Sahul (Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania). However, all of the studied Aboriginal Australians descend from a single founding population that differentiated ~10–32 kya.” (Nature 2016 doi:10.1038/nature18299, published online 21 September 2016)

Let’s be honest here! Nobody can know whether the mutation rate or the generation times have been the same since any original population arrived in Australia. Based on modern day observations of aboriginal birth rates, 29 years is probably way too long. But even when you allow the authors to use these figures, the estimation of a mere 10 to 32 thousand years falls a long way short of the 60 to 80 thousand years of aboriginal habitation being claimed by various aboriginal land rights political lobby groups in Australia, and popularised by the increasingly unreliable and atheistic ABC, particularly when you realize that only 83 Aboriginal Australians from the Pama-Nyungan-speaking language group and 25 genomes of Papua-New Guineans were studied.

The ABC also ignored the fact reported by the other studies from Nature that there is much secular dispute over human migration times, and how little we really can know from genome studies. So it is worth looking at the other genome studies which the ABC skated over. These are reported in BBC News and Science (AAAS) News 21 September 2016, and Nature Advance Online Publication 21 September 2016. All reports subscribe to the “out of Africa” model but give different dates for the time when Eurasians (i.e. non-Africans) left Africa, as well as differing numbers concerning how many times it happened.

The reason for such inconsistent results is that genome studies can tell us who people are related to now, but they are can only provide limited information about the past.

Also, let’s be brutally blunt concerning aboriginal claims about being “oldest race on Earth”. As someone who has worked with aboriginals, and consulting with many who do the same, and having had on our Creation Research team for many years Dr Allen Hall, who was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his work with aboriginals, any society which has a traditional counting scheme of '1, 2, 3, many' has no view on how long they have been in this country, and Colleen Walls claims are pseudo white man evolutionist gibberish to reinforce a political claim rather than a truth that will truly help aboriginals.

To really know the history of the human race we need historical records from witnesses who were there and recorded what happened. These are clearly set out in the Bible, and that should the starting point. In fact, all human races are exactly the same age because all people on earth today are the descendants of one man, Adam. The widespread migration of various groups of people began with the judgement at the Tower of Babel in present day Iraq, not in Africa. Those people who went south into Africa would not have mixed with Europeans and Asians for a long time after that, and that would explain the genetic separation seen in modern genome studies.

The fact that all human races have the same origin is being deliberately ignored by modern day sceptics and political activists who want to avoid the fact that all people have one Creator and Judge, and one Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ. However, as the Apostle Paul reminded the Greeks of his day, our Creator “commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31) (Ref. migration, races, history)

Further Details on Migration Studies

The contrary results from genome studies are well illustrated by the two other studies. One group led by Mait Metspalu of the Estonian Biocentre in Tartu analysed 379 genomes from 125 populations. According to Science News they concluded “at least 2% of the genomes of people from Papua New Guinea comes from an early dispersal of modern humans, who left Africa perhaps 120,000 years ago. Their paper proposes that Homo sapiens left Africa in at least two waves.” Another group led by population geneticist David Reich of Harvard University analysed 300 genomes from 142 populations and concluded modern human people today outside of Africa are descended from a single founding population almost completely. Reich claims “You can exclude and rule out an earlier migration; the southern route.”

Alan Cooper, at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, who was not involved in the study, disputes the links with Neanderthals and Denisovians. He commented: "They say there is only one invasion of [Sahul] and that happens around 50,000 years ago, but then they go on to say Aboriginal Australians have genetically mixed with Denisovans at 44,000 years. "So how can you be in [Sahul] after a single invasion, yet 6000 years later you mix with another extinct hominim that is not in Australia?”

The aboriginal study also revealed a great diversity between east and west, which Michael Westaway of Griffith University suggests is the result of Australia drying out during the last ice age and people becoming isolated. He explained: "When people first arrived 50,000 years ago arid Australia wasn't like it is today. People have changed and adapted over deep time as the country has ... we just don't see that in any other Homo sapiens populations. There is greater genetic diversity in Aboriginal people living in the east and west of Australia then there is between people living in Siberia and the Americas. [And] that great genetic diversity in Aboriginal populations reflects the huge amount of time they have occupied the continent."

If you have concluded by now that the ABC chose expedient support for a left wing political view at the expense of scientific data, we truly understand.

Evidence News vol. 16 No.17
28 September 2016
Creation Research Australia 

Pregnancy prevention programme fails, according to Science (AAAS) News and The Lancet 25 August 2016. A group of public health researchers in Australia have carried out a study of the Virtual Infant Parenting Programme (VIP), a course designed to discourage teenage schoolgirls from getting pregnant by giving them a life-size robot doll to care for. The doll, known as an “infant simulator”, cries, and must be “fed, burped, rocked, and have its nappy changed”.

The study was carried out in 57 high schools in Perth, Western Australia, and involved teenage girls aged between 13 and 15 years, who were then followed up until the age of 20. The VIP programme was run in 28 of the schools (known as the Intervention Group), whilst the other 29 schools conducted the standard health education curriculum (the Control Group). Altogether 1267 girls took part in the Intervention, and 1567 were in the Control Group.

In spite of the aim of the programme, the rate of pregnancy was higher in the Intervention Group – 16.5% in the Intervention Group, compared with 10.7% in the Control Group. In the Intervention Group there were 97 births and 113 abortions, whilst in the Control Group there were 67 births and 101 abortions.

The researchers concluded: “The infant simulator-based VIP programme did not achieve its aim of reducing teenage pregnancy. Girls in the intervention group were more likely to experience a birth or an induced abortion than those in the control group before they reached 20 years of age”.

The Science News item is entitled: “Virtual babies don’t discourage teenagers from wanting real ones”.

ScienceNews

Editorial Comment: Note one very important and sad detail – the media did report this study, but downplayed the fact that the girls in both groups had more abortions than births. A better conclusion would be that they and/or their boyfriends wanted sex rather than babies.

There is only one way to prevent teenage girls from becoming pregnant before they are married, and that is to do things God’s way, i.e. save all love making for within marriage as God intended.

Studies show that an incredible number of young women who have had abortions later regret taking a life. The only ‘fix’ here is to share the good news that there is forgiveness and new life to be found if they repent of the killing and put their faith in Christ the Creator, Saviour and giver of life. (Ref. sociology, education, reproduction)

Evidence News vol. 16, No. 16
14 September 2016
Creation Research Australia

 

High CO2 plants bigger and better, according to reports in ScienceDaily 24 August 2016 and Global Change Biology, 2016; doi: 10.1111/gcb.13322. Experiments involving growing plants in artificially increased levels of carbon dioxide have indicated that plants grow faster with more CO2 in the short term. In order to study the long term effects of higher CO2 levels on plants a group of scientists from University of Southampton, UK and Institute of Biometeorology, Firenze, Italy, have studied plants that have been growing by a natural CO2 spring in Italy. These plants have been growing in a higher CO2 atmosphere for many generations.

The researchers collected seeds of Plantago lanceolata which were growing near the spring and compared the growth rate of plants grown from these with plants grown from seeds collected where the CO2 levels were the normal atmospheric levels. They also compared the genes and gene expression of plants from the two locations and found the genes were the same, but there were differences in gene expression.

Gail Taylor, who led the research described their results: “The study shows that when we take plants from these two places that represent the atmosphere of today with that of the future (out to 2100), and place them together in the same environment, the plants from spring sites were bigger and had a better rate of photosynthesis. Most importantly, plants from the spring sites had differences in the expression of hundreds of genes. In particular, we predict from these gene expression data that planetary greening will continue – it won’t switch off or become acclimated as CO2 continues to rise, but some of the extra carbon in future plants is likely to go into secondary chemicals for plant defence. This is associated with more gene expression underpinning plant respiration”.

ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: This study confirms previous studies carried out with artificially raised carbon dioxide levels, including those done by Creation Research that plants growing in higher levels of CO2 grow more quickly and become larger and healthier. See our own experimental results here.

The differences in gene expression indicate that plants are designed to take advantage of a high CO2 atmosphere when they can get it, and turn on the appropriate genes.

Notice also the comment about “planetary greening will continue”. This is a reference to a visible trend that desert areas such as the Sahara, are becoming re-vegetated due to rising CO2 levels. See CSIRO report here.

It is time for environmentalists and politicians to stop obsessing over keeping carbon dioxide levels low, start working on real pollution and things we can control, and time for us all to give thanks to our Creator for plants that use CO2 to green the earth and feed the world. (Ref. climate. ecology, environment)

Evidence News vol. 16, No. 16
14 September 2016
Creation Research Australia

 

Earth-like planet could have evolved life, according to reports in BBC News, Science (AAAS) News, ScienceDaily and Nature News 24 August 2016, and Nature, 2016; doi: 10.1038/nature19106. An international team of astronomers led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé, from Queen Mary University, London, claim to have identified a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the star nearest to our solar system. According to Science News, “The planet was found using the radial velocity method: Telescopes scrutinize a star’s light to see if its frequency is periodically stretched and squeezed by the Doppler effect as the star is tugged, first away and then toward us, by an orbiting planet”.

The planet is named Proxima b and scientists estimate it is 1.3 times the mass of earth. It is very close to its star, only 5% of the distance between earth and the sun, and orbits its star once every 11.2 days. In spite of this closeness to its star the planet would only receive about 65% of the heat Earth receives from our sun because Proxima centauri is a red dwarf star and is significantly smaller and dimmer than our sun. However, this does put the planet in the “habitable zone”, i.e. the right temperature zone to have liquid water if it has an atmosphere.

Guillem Anglada-Escudé commented: “Many exoplanets have been found and many more will be found, but searching for the closest potential Earth-analogue has been the experience of a lifetime for all of us”. He went on to say: “The search for life on Proxima b comes next”. According to ScienceDaily the planet may be “the closest possible abode for life outside the Solar System”.

In spite of these high hopes, Science News suggests “the planet isn’t particularly welcoming for life”. It is probably tidally locked with one side always facing its sun, giving it one permanently lit hot side and one permanently dark cold side, and the proximity to its sun means it receives high levels of ultra-violet light and x-ray and intense blasts of high energy particles during stellar flares, which are very common as red dwarf stars tend to fare a lot.

BBC, Nature news, Science News, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: The current obsession with finding a planet that could support liquid water is due to a misguided belief that because life exists on earth wherever we find liquid water, life must be able to evolve wherever there is liquid water. Furthermore, red dwarf stars are considered to have had long lives, and according to John Webb of the University of NSW, “This means life should have lots of time to evolve and develop around such a star”. (See “What is the Goldilocks Zone and why does it matter in the search for ET?” ABC Science 22 February 2016 here).

Let’s consider what scientists have now actually found. They have observed a small disturbance in the light coming from the star. They have not observed a planet, neither have they observed water on such a planet. Even if there is a planet out there with liquid water on its surface that does not mean it will have life, because it takes more than water and chemicals at the right temperature to make life, no matter how much time you have.

Life requires genetic information, and information is not generated by chemistry and physics – these are just used to store and transmit information. The information for life comes from the mind of the Creator Jesus who made chemicals and chooses where He uses them to make life.

All the efforts and enormous amounts of taxpayers’ money that have gone into searching for liquid water on Mars, and now a distant inferred planet claimed to be orbiting a far-away star is sadly a huge expense designed to pretend to explain life without the Creator. (Ref. astrobiology, exoplanets, astronomy)

Evidence News vol. 16,
No. 16 14 September 2016
Creation Research Australia

 

Aussie Tasmanian devils evolve cancer resistance, according to reports in ScienceDaily, Science (AAAS) news, Nature News 30 August 2016, and ABC News 31 August 2016, and Nature Communications doi.org/10.1038/ncomms12684 published online 30 August 2016. Over the past 20 years a deadly cancer has rapidly spread through the population of Tasmanian Devils. The cancer, named Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is spread when the animals bite one another, which they do a lot. The cancer is usually fatal within six months of the animal being infected with it, and in some regions of Tasmania the disease has wiped out up to 90% of the population.

In the midst of this bad news, there seems to be some good news. According to Science News, “Tasmanian devils are rapidly evolving resistance to a contagious cancer” and it looks like they may not become extinct after all. Paul Hohenlohe of University of Idaho explained: “If a disease comes in and knocks out 90 percent of the individuals, you might predict the 10 percent who survive are somehow genetically different. What we were looking for were the parts of the genome that show that difference”.

Science News described the research: “scientists looked at hundreds of devil genomes from three different sites in Tasmania and compared them with genomes from animals living decades ago, when DFTD hadn’t yet run rampant. They found that the modern survivors had differences in seven genes, five of which are related to cancer or immune function in other mammals, including humans”.

In their Nature Communications report, researchers claim they found “strong evidence for an evolutionary response to selection imposed by DFTD” because they found “allele frequency changes” in two gene regions when comparing the pre- and post-tumour population of devils in three places in Tasmania. Menna Jones of University of Tasmania commented: “The main result of this study is that the devil is evolving at a genomic level. The regions [in its DNA] that are changing in response to the disease are those that are associated with cancer and immune function. It indicates that the devil is adapting, it’s responding to the disease in ways that it may be able to beat the cancer and save itself”.

ABC, Science, Nature News, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Despite science media claims that genes have evolved, what the original report indicates is that the study did find an allele frequency change, which is a response to selection pressure. But the honest original reporting of “allele frequency changes” means that since ‘alleles’ are variations of the same genes, then genes for resisting the tumour already existed in the devil population. So let’s be honest; this study has not found any evolution at all. Change, yes (in percentage of gene variations), but evolution of new genes, NO!

Therefore, when facial tumour disease arrived in the devil population, those animals with pre-existing resistance genes survived, while the others without them were killed off. This is real natural selection, but it is not real evolution. The survivors already had genes that enabled them to resist the disease, and these are the genes that have been passed onto succeeding generations.

So let us repeat so you don't miss it! The change discovered by researchers was simply a change in the number of animals within each population who now have resistance genes. They did not evolve new genes – they inherited them. This does not devalue the worth of the research as it will certainly help us understand which genes are involved in resisting cancer and how they work. However, there is no need to pretend this is evolution when it is not. (Ref. genetics, cancer, oncology)

Evidence News vol. 16, No. 16
14 September 2016
Creation Research Australia

 

q_and_a2
crc_youtube
outdoor_museum_panel
free_audio2