Thursday at the ICC

Today was the last day of the International Conference on Creationism (August 8, 2013), and there were many excellent sessions to choose from once again. I was very pleased with the sessions I attended, and they included Brian Thomas on original tissue fossils, Jeff Tomkins on similarities between human and chimp DNA, Mark Armitage on soft bone tissue from a triceratops horn, and Steve Austin on the crucifixion earthquake of 33 AD.

Brian Thomas (Masters in Biotechnology) presented a review of original tissue fossils and their age implications, and this session lived up to my expectations. Brian began with a surprising statistic, stating that 1/3 of all science teachers believe in creationism or Intelligent Design. I’d suspect that the discovery of original soft tissue in fossils is sure to increase that number as the implications are realized.

Thomas explained the difference between “soft tissue” fossils vs. “original soft tissue” fossils. “Soft tissue” fossils typically refer to fossil impressions, but “original soft tissue” refers to the biological remains still contained within a fossil. Thomas presented a list of about 40 known examples of original soft tissue being found in fossils supposedly millions of years old. Scientists have detected such biological remains as melanin, skin, skin proteins, collagen, chitin, histones, keratin, ovalbumin, PHEX, hemoglobin, elastin, osteocalcin, fiber, bone marrow, blood vessels, and lamanin; and the age of these remains date back to the Cenozoic, Mesozoic and Paleozoic periods.

The discovery of hemoglobin in a T. Rex fossil in 2005 by Mary Schweitzer started the excitement. The “scientific community”, however, rejected her findings because “science” has proven that something like hemoglobin can’t last 65 million years. Scientists, therefore, insisted that what she found was biofilm (endocasts that mimic real blood cells) produced by bacteria. So Mary Schweitzer produced the same experiments on a Hadrosaur and repeated her results many times over, finding original proteins and other biochemicals.

Another interesting discovery occurred when a 10 million year old frog that had been sitting in a museum drawer for nearly 100 years was examined and was found to contain hemoglobin. A Psittacosaurus from  China (130 million years old) contained collagenous fibers; a Sinosauropteryx from China (120 million years old) contained melanin and stomach contents; a 66 million year old mummified Hadrosaur was found that retained some of its chemistry; a mummified ink sack from a fossilized squid was found- and scientists were able to restore the ink so that they could write with it! Fossil feathers from Brazil more than 100 million years old were found that contained melanin; an 80 million year old Mosasaur found in Kansas still contained skin scales and other original tissue; bacteria was also extracted from a lizard found in amber. Scientists even extracted yeast from amber and used it to brew beer!

More research is needed to determine how long each of these biochmicals can last. Current theories about fossil preservation indicate that organic molecules should not last millions of years, yet in sample after sample we find evidence of original soft tissue that shouldn’t exist.

When organisms die there are many processes at work, breaking down the organism so that it decays. Such processes include microbes, oxidation, autolysis, hydrolysis, chemotropism, and gamma rays.

Discovery Magazine said, “It’s a matter of faith that cells survive millions of years.” That’s because the maximum age of decay rates would be exceeded. Evolutionists need rescuing devices such as smectites (a group of clay minerals) in order to preserve the biochemicals and maintain credibility with their dating methods. But this is speculation; no one has demonstrated how such a process could slow the decay rate. On the contrary others have suggested that smectites could potentially increase the rate of decay.

The maximum possible time assumed for collagen to be preserved under the most favorable preservation conditions at 0°C was 2.7 million years, at 10°C was 180,000 years and at 20°C was 15,000 years. And no one is claiming these conditions applied to any particular fossil discovery.

Organisms retaining their original biochemistry after fossilization is evidence that the earth is young.

The next session I attended was with Jeff Tomkins (PhD in Genetics from Clemson University) evaluating similarities between human and chimp DNA. Such claims of similarity have been hailed as proof of evolution by many.

DNA similarity is determined by a number of factors such as gene tallies, homologous protein sequences, chromosomal banding and DNA hybridization. Early DNA studies were based on Reassociation Kinetics, which was more of an art than science, and it was this research that came up with a 98.5% similarity between human and chimp DNA. This was the target evolutionists were aiming for.

Today genome similarity is based on the actual DNA code. But in order for scientists to come up with 98.5% similarity they had to toss out genetic material like deletions and insertions . They omitted non-similar regions of the genome and compared only the highly similar segments. Scientists have even admitted that sequences were chosen because they were similar. For example they knew that low stringency parameters produced more hits that they were looking for, while high stringency parameters produced less hits. Scientists also preferred to sequence chromosome 22 in humans because it’s the one most similar to chimps. The Y chromosomes in humans and chimps are very different, so it’s not surprising that scientists aren’t comparing them. In fact the chimp Y chromosome hasn’t even been completely sequenced. There are also 1,285 protein coding genes (orphan genes) specific to humans that aren’t found in other organisms that were never considered.

Evolutionists, in other words, “cherry picked” the data. While there are regions of DNA that are similar between humans and chimps, there’s more that aren’t, and the regions that are similar don’t imply ancestry, but similar design and function.

Once we take all the relevant factors into consideration the similarity between humans and chimps goes down to 70%. In fact a new study stated, “For about 23% of our genome, we share no immediate genetic ancestry with… the chimpanzee.”

Tomkins also explained the human/ chimp chromosome fusion that evolutionists tout as proof of common ancestry. He explained that there’s no telomere-telomere fusion as expected. There is a very degenerate telomere-telomere fusion found, but not at the fusion site. This means that the fusion site is “Down for the count!”

Another interesting note he mentioned is that contamination isn’t always controlled very well in labs, which means that human and chimp DNA could be mixed up when someone in the lab coughs or sneezes.

The question and answer session contained some excitement as a young evolutionary biologist took offense at Tomkins using what he called “inflammatory speech”, such as calling evolutionists liars and dishonest, and using terms like myth, misleading, cherry picking, and fudging the data. Tomkins handled it well by explaining that this was a creationist conference and that he could expect to hear those terms.

The next session was with Mark Armitage (MS in Biology, Parasitology) on soft bone tissue from a triceratops horn and the reaction to it. His discovery and report reveal a clear example of censorship by the evolutionary community.

In the 1960s Polish researcher Roman Pawlicki found evidence of preserved cells in dinosaur remains. Then in 1993 Mary Schweitzer reported finding biomolecules preserved in a T-rex. Later, in 2005 she found collagen fibers, osteocytes (highly specialized bone cells) and blood vessels in a T-rex femur.

Contamination was suspected, but osteocytes are characteristic of the specimens, so claims of contamination could be ruled out. In 2012 Schweitzer further addressed the contamination issue and put it to rest by finding actin, tubulin and histones.

In May 2012, when the largest Triceratops horn ever discovered was excavated from the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, it was sent to Armitage’s lab for microscopic analysis. The horn was 42 inches long and 9 inches in diameter at the base. Poor results were expected, however his team was surprised when a soft, stretchy material and osteocytes were found. There was no evidence of contamination, such as biofilm. Such contamination wouldn’t be able to duplicate other organelle-like structures such as filipodia.

Armitage had a goal to study as many candidate dinosaur bones as possible, perform standard histological techniques on all specimens, document any evidence of soft tissue, and submit findings for publication in major journals. This was the first report of soft tissue in a Triceratops and was considered “explosive, ground-breaking work”. Unfortunately it was being buried by the evolutionary community due to the controversial nature of the findings, so his report was fast-tracked into a publication of Acta Histochemica.

However, shortly after the results of his report were published, Armitage was terminated from his position. At the time he was Manager and Director at the Electron and Confocal Microscopy Suite in the Biology Department of California State University Northridge. He was told, “We won’t have your religion in this department!”

It’s interesting that it’s okay for evolutionists like Mary Schweitzer to report on dinosaur soft tissue, but such reports are not tolerated from creationists.

The conference concluded with Steve Austin (PhD in Geology from Penn State University) presenting a report on the earthquake of Christ’s crucifixion during 33 AD.

Austin examined the Dead Sea mud locations and found laminated layers that included disturbances characteristic of earthquakes, such as seismites (shear-induced structures within the laminated sediment). These disturbances in the sediment are caused by wave action during an earthquake. Austin was able to locate these points in the sediment that coincide with the earthquakes of 33 AD and 31 BC described in the Bible, by Josephus and Herod.

Overall this was an exciting week and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to meet many of these speakers in person. I’m looking forward to following their work further and seeing how it impacts science and our culture.

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