Chickenasaurus?

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For years, scientists have been trying to “prove” that dinosaurs evolved into birds by tinkering with the DNA of existing birds.

In May 2015, researchers announced they created the first chicken embryos with longer, flatter snouts, instead of beaks. The scientists say these snouts are a throwback to the evolutionary ancestor of birds, the dinosaurs, but are they really?

To create these embryos, researchers focused on two genes that control the development of the middle of the face in chickens. Now, I bet you’re thinking they modified these genes, but no, they didn’t. They used special molecules to suppress the activity of the proteins these genes produce. The resulting embryos had flatter snouts where the premaxillae (small bones of the upper jaw) were not fused like they are in bird beaks. The scientists referred to these embryos as the ancestral dinosaur state of the chicken.

Although the scientists did not allow the embryos to hatch, they have used the CT scans to claim that it would have been easy for evolution to change a dinosaur snout into a bird beak.

Easy? The scientists themselves admit they are not capable of genetically modifying an embryo into a dinosaur at this point. In fact, their easy method didn’t alter the genes of the chicken at all, just the proteins those genes produced.

Do these experiments really give us any information about evolution? All they tell us is that humans (as intelligent beings) can experimentally change through purposeful actions the complex workings of another creature. In this experiment, the scientists didn’t create anything. They were only able to change what was already there, and not even through random selective pressures, but by design.

What do you think? Can you make a Chickenasaurus in a lab? Would it really be a dinosaur?

 

Reference: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015/05/13/chicken-embryos-with-dinosaur-snouts-created-in-lab/

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Where Did Our DNA Come From?

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Have you ever wondered about your DNA? Maybe you’ve even thought about getting a DNA test just to see what’s hanging out in your genes. Then again, maybe that’s just me.

But if you’re curious about where your DNA might have come from (other than your parents, I mean), I’ll tell you the real answer. Nobody knows.

Evolutionists say that a primitive form of RNA formed in a primordial soup of elements and then modified itself into DNA. This scenario is speculation because no one has ever seen it happen, even in a lab. But for arguments sake, let’s just say it’s possible the nucleotides that make up DNA formed that way. It still doesn’t explain how the information came to be inside our DNA.

For instance, if I see a rock with ancient pictographs on it, I can explain how the rock came to be by natural processes. The minerals crystallized in a specific shape according to their chemistry. But the pictographs are different. They contain information, which implies an intelligence to impart that information. Our DNA is the rock, but encoded within it are volumes of information, basically the recipe for a complete human being.

I recently attended an event where Dr. Charles Jackson spoke and he framed the problem is a creative way. He had us imagine that we were lying on our backs, gazing at the clouds in the sky when one passes by in the rough shape of an “H.” Most people would assume this was a chance occurrence and rightly so. But what if you then saw an “E,” “L,” and “P” following the first letter?

dreamstime_s_36109587Now, HELP is spelled in the clouds. Would you still believe that’s a chance pairing of the clouds or something more?

Most of us would think it’s something more because we recognize this as information and we know that it must come from some intelligent source. As Dr. Jackson continued, he sang the Beattles song “Help” and asked us to imagine that we saw all the lyrics up in the clouds. Would anyone believe that was a random event? Not likely.

So, what is the threshold for discerning when something is random or not. Scientists usually use numbers in the 1 out of 1080 range, but even this is hypothetical. In the 1980’s, two scientists, Sir Fred Hoyle (PhD, astronomy) and Chandra Wickramasinghe (professor of applied math and astronomy), calculated the probability of getting an amino acid to from into a protein randomly, which is something DNA accomplishes on a regular basis.  They determined this would happen 1 out of 10191 times. A number that is well beyond what scientists would accept as randomly possible.

Intuitively, this makes sense to us. As I said, DNA is a recipe for a human being. If we ran across an apple pie, we wouldn’t think it created itself by chance and an apple pie is much less complicated than a human being.

Information always implies an information giver. We have no example of information (like that contained in DNA) that arises without a language, idea, mind or intention. As Albert Einstein said it:

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

What if the reason we can’t solve the puzzle of our origins is because it’s outside of our consciousness? As in, outside of our sphere of comprehension.

Evolutionists say the appearance of designed information in DNA is only an illusion. What makes it an illusion? The fact that they believe God doesn’t exist.

But what if He does? Maybe DNA appears designed because it is.

What do you think? Is design an illusion? Where did the information come from?

 

Reference: https://answersingenesis.org/origin-of-life/can-natural-processes-explain-the-origin-of-life/

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Pleistocene Park?

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 Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies of all time and while the concept behind it continues to exist in the realms of science fiction, scientists are inching closer to the threshold of de-extinction. And the newest candidate for the process is the Wooly Mammoth who lived in the Pliocene and into the Pleistocene Epochs.

De-extinction is basically what it sounds like—bringing an extinct creature back from the dead (that sort of makes them sound like zombies, doesn’t it?). This would obviously be accomplished through cloning of DNA since the creature would be, well, extinct. Which means you need DNA from somewhere.

In 2013, an exceptionally well-preserved Wooly Mammoth was found in Siberia, still frozen in the permafrost. Nicknamed Buttercup, this mammoth was remarkably complete with three legs, most of the body, part of the head and the trunk preserved. Scientists reported that a dark red liquid oozed out of the animal. Chemical analysis concluded it was blood.

Very recently (March, 2015), scientists from Harvard announced they have isolated Wooly Mammoth DNA and have spliced it into elephant cells. While the study hasn’t been peer reviewed or published yet, the geneticists say this is just the first step in bring back these creatures. Eventually, they may grow the hybrid cells in an artificial womb (it’s considered unethical to try to grow it in an elephant womb). So it will probably be a while before we have a Pleistocene Park where Wooly Mammoths lumber around.

Believe it or not, the de-extinction thing has been tried before. In 2003, geneticists succeeded in bringing back the Pyrenean Ibex (extinct since 2000) through cloning. Unfortunately, the cloned animal lived for only 7 minutes.

One of the things I loved most about Jurassic Park is the idea behind it. Imagine meeting a creature that no human being on earth has previously laid eyes on. You might call it the final frontier of sorts. A frontier that no one is actually sure we can explore.

What do you think? Should we be trying to reverse extinction? Are we ignorant of the potential consequences of de-extinction? Or is it our ecological responsibility to try and bring back these animals?

 

References: http://www.livescience.com/50275-bringing-back-woolly-mammoth-dna.html, http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/11/18/can-long-extinct-woolly-mammoth-be-cloned/

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The 1% Myth

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Many magazines and TV shows use the claim that human and chimp DNA are only different by 1 percent. But is this scientifically correct?

Now don’t get me wrong. I like primates of all types and would have no problems being related to them—if I actually were—but my search has always been about finding the truth. If I were to only look at that which makes me comfortable, then I might miss an entire aspect of the truth. And the truth is, as a creationist, it wouldn’t bother me a bit if human and chimp DNA were 1% different.

Why? Because the human genome has approximately 3,000 million base pairs (the nucleotides A, C, G and T) and 1% would amount to a difference in 30 million base pairs. If you used the base pairs as letters in the alphabet, you could write 10 Bible-sized books with that many letters. Seems like quite a difference to me.

So, it wouldn’t bother me a bit if 1% was the number, but here’s the thing. That 1% number was generated back in 1975, a long time before the entire human or chimp genome was sequenced. To compare the DNA, scientists used limited stretches of DNA from protein-coding genes which are indeed quite similar between different animals. Back then, the common belief was that the protein-coding genes were the only active portion of DNA and the rest of the genome was ‘junk’ left over from evolution. Since then, geneticists have come to realize the so-called ‘junk’ DNA has a purpose and this is the source of the major differences between animals.

In 2007, the journal Science published an article by Jon Cohen upping the percent differences between human and chimp DNA to around 5%. Then, in 2012, the 1% figure was quoted in an article in the same journal. Apparently, this figure has some staying power, despite evidence to the contrary.

In 2012, Drs Jeffrey Tomkins and Jerry Bergman used published studies to compare the entire genome of humans and chimps. They found the differences to be at least 13% and possibly as high as 19%. Why the range in the estimate? Because comparing the two genomes is complex. For example, what do you do with parts of the genome humans have, but which don’t exist in chimps and vice versa? Previously, scientists have compared only the similar portions of the DNA which leads to an inflated number of compatibility.

Whether it’s 1% or 19%, these are more differences than can be explained by even the most optimistic evolutionist. The truth is the human genome did not evolve. It was not the product of random chance, but was designed by God. And for that matter, so was the chimp’s.

What do you think? Why does the media continue to use the 1% figure even though it’s been shown to be a myth? Does the number really matter?

Reference: “The Myth of 1%,” Creation, 36 (1), 2014, p. 35.

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Is there a God gene?

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One scientist has claimed to have found a God gene. A gene that causes some part of our brain to be susceptible to the idea of God. Another study showed that identical twins with a particular version of the God gene who were reared apart were twice as likely to become religious as those without that version of the gene.

Based on these studies, some scientists have concluded faith is biological. In their opinion, those of us with faith are being led around by our DNA. I can see how this makes sense if you believe in evolution. If we are all evolved animals, then most of our behavior should be explained by how our DNA has evolved. So to explain a belief, it must be rooted in our genes and it must have an evolutionary advantage somehow. But is there an evolutionary advantage to faith that would cause the God gene to propagate?

Perhaps the scientists think the God gene would help people to cooperate enough to create a society and live peacefully together (assuming we actually do that now). I could see the evolutionary advantage to that.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t put it past God to give a genetic susceptibility for belief to those people who He already foresaw would come to Him. But then again, maybe not. The Bible says, He gave us the choice. To explain away faith as the product of a gene minimizes the role of our free will.

It isn’t faith if it’s forced. And it isn’t faith if it’s biologically programmed.

Scientists may try to consign God to a portion of DNA, but He is bigger than that. He is working out His plan. He is crafting the fabric of our lives. He is watching and listening to our limited, human attempts to define Him.

What do you think? Is belief genetic? If so, could you enhance or destroy that part of you? Where does free will come into it?

 

Reference: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/nov/14/20041114-111404-8087r/, http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-08/what-twins-reveal-about-god-gene