VIRUSES: DO THEY EVOLVE?

I have read on a creationism website "we don't see evolution happening in our world today." Of course we do! Consider flu viruses. Every new outbreak of flu is a new virus. Is this not evolution? – Ellen S.

Thank you very much for your question. In order to answer it, we will have to delve into the world of microbiology and natural selection. But first we need to discuss the two main subjects in your question: evolution, and viruses.

 Viruses are a bit of a puzzle for microbiologists. They contain DNA and RNA that are found in all living things. This is packaged up in a “protein coat”. Despite this, viruses are not usually considered to be living because they are not made up of cells and cannot reproduce by themselves. Instead, the viruses will inject DNA or RNA into a living cell, hijack the reproductive organelles of the cell, make copies of the DNA/RNA, and then assemble them so they can spread. Viruses differ considerably in their ability to cause disease. Many known viruses are not associated with disease at all. Others cause very mild symptoms that often go undetected. And some, such as the HIV virus that causes AIDS in people appear to have come from another species where they do not cause disease. And of course, there is the infamous influenza virus, which I am currently suffering from as I write this!

We now need to discuss evolution. It is important to recognise that biologists use several distinct definitions for evolution that are blurred together as if they are all the same. Evolution means “change” and can be used to describe an animal changing slightly to show different traits, or it can be used to describe molecules changing into humans over billions of years. The two different types of evolution are called macroevolution, and microevolution. But aren’t they both the same? Over vast periods of time, can the small changes in an animal build up into large, new traits? No. Microevolution is limited to the genetic information it contains within the DNA of an organism. This information can be dominant or recessive, in other words, switched on, or switched off. Take, for instance, a dog. In its DNA, there may be information for long and short hair. In this particular dog, both are dominant (switched on). So the dog has medium hair. Now that dog has babies, and passes on her hair genes. In these new dogs, the short hair is dominant. The genes for long hair may be switched off, or, if the mother and father did not give any long hair genes, they may not even possess the genes for long hair. Later, the mother has more puppies, this time with the long hair gene dominant. Again, the short hair gene may be either switched off, or not even present. Now the dog pack move from their location, to a hot climate (Africa?). Now this is where natural selection begins.

The famous natural selection statement “Survival of the Fittest” has an opposite statement: “Extinction of the Unfit”. In this warm climate, the long haired dogs will be naturally selected against – i.e. they will die from overheating.

Macroevolution (molecules to man evolution) is entirely different. This describes the changes in an animal kind over time. This means that new traits are added that the organism didn’t come from its genes. In other words, new information has to be added to the DNA genome. As of yet, we have found no natural means of creating new information in the DNA.

So what about viruses? They seem to change, and a new virus epidemic occurs. Is this evolution? No. Instead something very similar to our dog examples is happening.

Viruses can change in several different ways to render immune systems and antibiotics useless, and create a new epidemic, without any evolution involved. The most important way a virus can do this is by a process called “re-assortment”. This occurs when two varieties of virus infect the same host. When viruses infect cells, the virus is effectively disassembled and then re-made. If two viruses affect one cell, genes from each virus can be mixed up during the reassembly process. Take, for instance, the animal viruses that are commonly heard about on the media. Some viruses can infect birds and pigs. If a bird virus, and a human virus meet in a pig and mix some genes, the newly assorted virus can now infect humans. Since it is a newly combined virus, the human immune system has never encountered it before, and cannot fight it straight away. This virus spreads to other people, and an epidemic occurs. Note that no new information has been added, existing information has been re-shuffled to create a combination of information from two different viruses. In other words, this is an example of micro-evolution, using existing information, not evolution in a Darwinian or Neo Darwinian sense. They start and finish as the same kind of virus (i.e. influenza), but with a slightly different compatibility.

Viruses can also change due to mutations (copying errors) in their genes. If the mutation affects the shape of their surface protein (i.e. their “skin”), immune systems and/or antibiotics do not recognise them straight away, and the virus successfully enters and attacks the body, spreading through people, and hence, you got it, an epidemic occurs. This surface protein change can also mean that the virus can attach itself to the cells of other previously non infect-able hosts.

None of these changes are evolution. They simply cause small changes in the already existing proteins, or add different information from other viruses. They do not explain the origin of the proteins or information, and the virus has not changed into another type of virus, it has just been made more compatible. It started out as a virus, and ended up as a virus. It is even given the same name, just with a different number after it (i.e. Influenza A [number or letter]). So, in conclusion, viruses do change, and this may lead to a new epidemic, but no known change in viruses is an example of evolution.

For more on supposedly evolving flu viruses see the question: FLU VACCINES: Do we need new ‘flu shots’ because the influenza virus is evolving? Answer by Diane Eager here.

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CHINESE FEATHERED DINOSAURS by Caleb LePore USA

The UK Guardian reported 16 July 2015: “Zhenyuanlong suni: biggest ever winged dinosaur is found in China.”1  The article goes onto to say:  “The fossil of the prehistoric raptor is so well preserved that scientists have been able to reconstruct its impressive plumage, from the tiny feathers on its head and neck, to the larger quill pen-like feathers that sprout from its tail and substantial wings.”1Chinese Feathered Dinoweb1

BBC News reports, “The dinosaur has been named Zhenyuanlong, meaning "Zhenyuan's dragon," in honor of the man who procured the fossil for the museum in Jinzhou, allowing it to be studied.”2 This new fossil was reportedly discovered in Early Cretaceous deposits of Liaoning, China. Compared to many of the previously purported ‘feathered dinosaur’ specimens, this one’s size is quite substantial measuring 126.6 cm (4ft 2in) long.  As its tail is incomplete, scientists estimate it was 165 cm (5ft 5in) in total body length and would have weighed 20kg, which is far heavier than any living flying bird.

Classified as a dromeosaurid, it is considered an older relative of the more famous Velociraptor. Unlike Velociraptor, however, whose discovered fossil remains thus-far lack any feathers or feather imprints, the scientists who reported this new specimen say that, “Feathers are present and well preserved on several portions of the body, particularly the arms and tail.”3

However, the reason the scientific community is in a flap over this specimen is the presence of clearly-distinguished structures interpreted as ‘wings.’ “It’s the biggest dinosaur that has ever been found with wings,” said Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at Edinburgh University. “In general it is very bird-like, but it’s big, and has these very short arms with full-blown wings…’ The Guardian went on to report that the experts claim,‘The specimen poses a conundrum for researchers, because despite its impressive wings, the animal was probably incapable of flight. Brusatte said their function was a mystery, but they might have been used in colourful sexual displays, just as peacocks parade their tail feathers to court peafowls. Another possibility is that the dinosaur used its wings to protect its eggs.”1

Before we get our feathers all ruffled up about this new fossil, we need to take a step back and ask: What we know for sure?  One thing is for certain: this is not a ‘missing link’! Even by evolutionary-dating standards, it is impossible, for this to be a dino-to-bird link, because it dates to the Early Cretaceous, while the supposedly earliest ‘true bird,’ Archaeopteryx, was found in Upper Jurassic rocks. Such is the case for nearly all of the supposed ‘feathered dinosaurs’ found in China. The only way that evolutionists can salvage their idea of dino-to-bird evolution is to imagine ‘ghost lineages’; that is, to imagine that fossils found in later rocks might have evolved from earlier unfossilised creatures which werestill be on their way to becoming birds. However, this idea is pure, unwarranted speculation based on evolutionary assumptions, in spite of the evidence.

We can also ask; “What assumptions are being made in the classification and interpretation of this creature?” Evolutionary researchers use a system called ‘cladistics’ to classify organisms according to their supposed evolutionary history. This system, claimed to be the most objective method of classification, uses a creature’s possession or lack of certain traits as diagnostic for determining how an organism relates to others on the evolutionary tree. However, as many have pointed out before, this system is actually highly subjective, because traits can be included or not included depending on whether or not someone believes that a certain trait is a result of evolutionary descent or convergent evolution. Convergent evolution is a term evolutionists use to describe a situation when two supposedly unrelated organisms evolve very similar structures or body plans (i.e. marsupial moles vs. placental moles). As a result, though cladistics may appear objective, it is, by nature, designed to only spit out answers that are acceptable to the evolutionary paradigm.

Interestingly, Brusatte also stated, ”So even though this is a dinosaur, even though it is a close relative of velociraptor, it looks exactly like a turkey or a vulture."2 So, is this creature really a feathered dinosaur or a bird? It is hard to tell at this point. More researchers (including independent Creation scientists) actually need to see the specimen in order to verify that the traits used to classify this creature have been accurately reported.

It is interesting to hear the response of evolutionary researchers to the discovery of Zhenyuanlong, “When you see a dinosaur like this that’s pretty big, and has these short arms and bird-like wings, it begs that question: what are wings really for? We used to think pretty much anything that had wings was flying, but that’s not so clear now,” [Brusatte] said.”1

So, whether or not this specimen turns out to be a feathered saurus or bird the Truth of God’s Word stands confirmed: God created birds and reptiles, including the sauruses, separately on Days 5 and 6 of Creation Week, and they did not evolve into one another or anything else. We also need to note that nothing in the Bible eliminates the possibility that God created some land dwelling creatures with feathers, as He obviously did for the flightless Moa Birds, Emus and Ostriches.  In fact, so-called flightless birds show all the evidence of being designed to be ground dwelling running creatures, who use their non flying wings for a number of useful functions. For illustrations see Vestigial Flightless Birds.

Furthermore, this is not the first fossilized creature with feathers that could be a running bird rather than a dinosaur.  In 1998 a fossil creature named Caudipteryx was claimed to be a feathered dinosaur.  At the time Creation Research suggested this creatures was an extinct running bird.   Two years later, other scientists compared the structure of beipedal dinosaurs and running birds and came to the conclusion: “Surprisingly, Caudipteryx , described as a theropod dinosaur possessed an anterior centre of mass and hindlimb proportions resembling those of cursorial birds.”  Jones, T. D., et, alNature 406, 716-718, 17 August 2000, doi:10.1038/35021041.  (Cursorial, means to run along the ground)  See our Fact File report Evolutionists catch up with us .  Other scientists have since disputed this and the debate goes on.  However, this dispute reminds us of the difficulty of studying a creature that is only represented by dead bones, rather than living specimens. 

There is also no doubt that the media is using this latest claim of a ‘feathered dinosaur’ as an opportunity to ‘prove’ Jurassic World’s portrayal of raptors wrong. How glad we are to see that the makers of this movie have stuck to their ‘artistic license’ defense, to which they  could also add the argument that no actual fossil velociraptor has shown any trace of feathers at all.

Bibliography:

1. Sample, Ian. "Zhenyuanlong Suni: Biggest Ever Winged Dinosaur Is Found in China." The Guardian. 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited, 16 July 2015. Web. 11 July 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jul/16/zhenyuanlong-suni-biggest-ever-winged-dinosaur-discovered-china>

2. Gill, Victoria. "Dinosaur Find: Velociraptor Ancestor Was 'winged Dragon' - BBC News." BBC News. 2015 BBC, 16 July 2015. Web. 11 Aug. 2015. <http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-33510288>

3. Lü, Junchang, and Stephen L. Brusatte. "A Large, Short-armed, Winged Dromaeosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Early Cretaceous of China and Its Implications for Feather Evolution." Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, 16 July 2015. Web. 11 Aug. 2015. <http://www.nature.com/srep/2015/150716/srep11775/full/srep11775.html>

4. Pickrell, John. "The Great Dinosaur Fossil Hoax." Cosmos Magazine. N.p., 27 July 2015. Web. 11 Aug. 2015. <https://cosmosmagazine.com/life-sciences/great-dinosaur-fossil-hoax>

For more information on the claim that dinosaurs evolved into birds see the questions:

FEATHERED DINOSAURS? Don’t feathered dinosaurs prove that birds evolved from dinosaurs? Answer here.

DINOSAURS: Latest finds should convince you they evolved into birds. What’s stopping you? Answer here.

 

Joseph cold Fast Fossil1 Fast Fossil2 Fast Fossil3
Fast Fossil4

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Sitting along the West Norfolk Coast are the magnificent Hunstanton Cliffs. Despite the fact that they are not very large, as some cliffs come, they have still earned the title of the 7th best geologic location in the UK1. The reason for this is the unusual type of rocks that are found there. As you can see from the photo of the cliffs, they are rather beautiful to look at. The cliffs are made up of three main rocks layers. The bottom brown layer is a coarse sandstone with fairly large pebbles in it, called carstone. The next layer is red chalk, or the Hunstanton Formation. This is quite a distinctive feature of Hunstanton, and is red due to its iron-rich content, so it is basically rusty2.

The third and last layer is the grey chalk. The two chalk layers are very rich in fossils, and there is one fossil in particular that we will focus on in this report.

First, however, we need to look at how this chalk was supposed to form, according to secular geologists. Chalk is mainly comprised of microscopic creatures called coccolithophores. These creatures have shells called coccoliths. These make up the bulk of the chalk. They are supposed to accumulate into a lime-mud, gunge, very slowly on a seabed. This is then supposed to harden into the chalk cliffs that we see today. All this is supposed to take a very long time
3. These vast periods of time are incompatible with the Biblical record of Noah’s Flood. Many have suggested that the chalk cliffs have done away with the Biblical flood, because of the large time-scale
4. However there are several things that we can see at Hunstanton that challenge this.
In October 2014, John Mackay led a field trip to Hunstanton
5. On this trip, he discovered a very special fossil, but it was too large to collect on the day. I then went back a few weeks later, and retrieved it, cleaned it up, and it now is held in the Genesis Museum of Creation. It is an extinct squid-like creature called a belemnite, approximately 5cm (2 inches) long. But can you see the problem?

The cliffs are supposedly dated at 108 million years at the bottom, and 99 million years at the top
6. This covers a period of 10 million years. The cliffs are approx. 20 metres, or 60 feet at the tallest point. Therefore it took 10 million years to lay down 20 metres of rock, or you could put it as 20,000mm in 10 million years. This also means, if we do a bit of simple math, 2mm of rock took 1,000 years to lay down. Half that, and you get 1mm per 500 years or 1 inch in 12,500yrs.  The problem comes when you realise that the inclined belemnite is between 2 horizontal strata which are approximately 1.5” or 3 cm apart vertically. At this rate, it would take 18,750 years to bury the belemnite! This is clearly ludicrous! The belemnite was buried before it dissolved or disintegrated. And it gets worse. If you look very carefully you can see the belemnite crosses many layers of sediment. This is what we call ‘polystrate’, poly meaning ‘many’, strate meaning ‘strata’, or layers. This fossil was buried before it fell over so it had to be fossilised very quickly.

Likewise the brachiopod (seashell) shown, also found at Hunstanton, is a  polystrates, and both are great evidence that it would have taken a huge watery catastrophe to lay such a vast amount of sediment down in a short enough amount of time to actually fossilise these creatures. Noah’s flood has not been ruled out by these strata at all. You can trust the Bible on any topic, creation, the flood etc.! It is God’s very own message to mankind. It explains the sin than man is caught up in. The very same sin that caused God to judge the world with the Global Flood. But just as God provided a way to escape the Flood, the Ark, He has also provided a way for us to escape the destructive power of sin. He Himself came down to the Earth, as the man Jesus, and lived a sinless life, before dying on a cross to take the sins that you have ever committed or ever will commit, and will grant you everlasting life. All you need to do is confess that you are a sinner, repent, which means to turn around from the sinful life that you are living, and take the amazing free gift of eternal life that God has paid for! 

For more on rapid fossil formation see the question: DINOSAURS: What real evidence do you have they were buried rapidly? Don’t just say Noah’s flood. Answer by John Mackay here.

 


Crocs in Rocks Buried Alive!!  Moroccan phosphate beds give evidence supporting the Biblical Flood. Contributed by Joseph.


morocco_siteMorocco is one of the best places in the world for fossils and one of the best places in Morocco is the Kem Kem Basin, Khouribga. Especially for aquatic fossils, The Kem Kem basin is a massive bone bed made up of mineral phosphates (usually derived from bone) and it is the largest phosphorite bed known in the world. One palaeontologist described the fossils in it as, “Hundreds of times more abundant than a normal marine sediment” (italics mine)
 (1).

My comment is why not suggest then that perhaps it wasn't laid down as a “normal marine sediment”, but in a catastrophic event that killed and buried hundreds of creatures, far more than could ever 
croc_skulllrexist in a normal present day environment (2).
Among the millions of fossils found there, one crocodile skull has been excavated, and made its way to us at the Genesis Museum of Creation near Norwich UK. There are several things that this crocodile skull can teach us.

First, look at how well preserved the skull is. Crocodile teeth do not have roots in them, as the photo of the 
croc_toothmodern crocodile tooth shows. Their teeth are designed to fall out really easily. A crocodile is always growing new teeth to replace old, worn-out ones. The new teeth grow in at the base of the old teeth, pushing the old teeth out of the jaw. To have a crocodile skull so well preserved when the large teeth are still present, is quite remarkable. 
A sign in the Castle Museum in Norwich, talking about the fossilisation of living creatures has something very interesting to say. “Did you know? Fossilisation is actually very rare. In order for something to be fossilised, the remains normally need to be covered by sediment straight away.”(4) However at this croc site in Morocco, we are looking at a fossil that comes from a place where hundreds of fossils are found, including some of the largest creatures ever to live, such as the giant mosasaur.(5)

To confirm such rapid burial has also occurred at our fossil site, consider the claims it took vast ages for these rocks to be formed: 
The sedimentary layers where this crocodile was found are regarded as late Cretaceous (Cenomanian through Turonian), and are some 200 metres thick. The evolutionists date the top layer (Upper Marly Unit) of the croc bed at 90 Million years old, and the bottom layer (Lower Sandy Unit), at 100 million years.(8)
Now let's do some maths. You have a deposit it is claimed took 10 million years to lay down. This deposit is 200 metres thick. If we divide the thickness of the deposit (200m) by the claimed time (10 Ma), we get the answer as follows:

200 metres/10,000,000 years
= 0.00002 m per yr 
= 2 cm per 1,000 yrs

This means that it took 500 years for a single centimetre of sediment to be laid down, so our crocodile which has a skull 40cm (16in) long, and over 15cm (6in) high, would have taken over 7,500 years to just cover it, let alone bury it deep enough to fossilise it. This is absolutely ridiculous if you think about it.


report_live_croclrOne final point. Look at the crocodile skull. How do we know that it is a crocodile? The answer is simple? It looks like one! Here we have an animal that is from rocks that are claimed to be around 83 million years old, and yet they still are living today. They have even been found in rocks supposedly up to a 250 million years old. Evolved they have not! The crocodiles are not evolving and have not evolved! They are doing exactly what the Bible says God created them to do. “Reproducing after their own kind!”(6)

So what can we take away from this? First, although the assumptions of evolution and deposition of sediment over millions of years are all well and good in the universities and textbooks, they do not make sense in the real world, in fact, they are ludicrous to even consider. Secondly, the Bible's account of a world –wide catastrophic flood(7) fits with the evidence that we see in the rocks around us. The Bible teaches that God created the world in six days, and that the whole world was good. But man disobeyed God, and chose to be his own god. As a result of this rebellion, man has lived in sin from that time forward, and is destined for eternal punishment from God. But in His Great love and mercy, God provided a way for us to escape the coming judgment. He sent His only son Jesus to die on a cross, and to take the place of punishment for our sin. Jesus paid the price, and is giving it to you today as a free gift, however as with any gift that you are given, you have to be willing to receive it. Accept Jesus as your Saviour today, and be free of all your guilt and sin!

See some fossil crocodiles in the Creation Research collection: Crocodile Smile now in our museum, Long Nosed Crocodile Fossil now in our museum

Endnotes:

(1, 3) Sharks of the Moroccan Phosphates – Dr Charlie Underwood, Deposits Magazine, Issue 17, Winter 2009, p8 & 9.
(2) Genesis 7:21 – And all flesh died that moved upon the face of the Earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth, and every man.
(4) Castle Museum, Norwich, Animal Gallery, Creatures of the Past display.
(5) A large crocodile-like marine reptile, reaching over 50ft long.
(6) Genesis 1:22
(7) Genesis 7 
(8) “Vertebrate footprints from the Kem Kem beds (Morocco): A novel ichnological approach to faunal reconstruction.” – Matteo Belvedere; Nour-Eddine Jalil; Anna Breda; Giovanni Gattolin; Helene Bourget; Fatima Khaldoune; Gareth J Dyke. – Journal of Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, and Palaeoecology. www.elsevier.com/locate/palaeo

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For many years we have been praying and looking for young men to add to our team and to eventually replace John Mackay in this ministry in each of the countries we work in. Now the Lord Jesus is seeing fit to add a 'bunch' of young men around the planet. Joseph is one so we asked him to share why he feels called of God to become part of our team. As you can see he already has made a great start in evangelising students ..he has a great collection of fossil evidence showing God has truly made creatures such as crocodiles to & reproduce after their kind! Now read, rejoice and pray for him and for his family as he and they seek to win people for Jesus rather than just win arguments about fossils.

JOSEPH WRITES: I am currently working towards a degree in Natural Sciences. My family and I first heard of Creation Research about 8 years ago and I was inspired to realise there are people out there doing real research into Biblical Creation and the evidence for a Global Flood. It was such an encouragement to find answers to the & evidence & provided by secular media. I have begun (albeit on a minor scale) in the UK, to research particular areas and explain them from a Biblical timeframe. We have also taken many geologic field trips around the country and have amassed quite a large collection of fossils, which we have now made into a small museum we have opened to the public, so people may see for themselves that the Bible's record of history can be trusted.

I love the amazingly quick responses from CR to new claims of evidence for evolution, and attacks on the Bible. These are extremely impressive and it was amazing to see John Mackay at the UK Mega Conference, refuting evidence for evolution in his evening presentation, which had only been published that morning! My passion has long been to be able to provide such answers to issues promoted by secular media.

The way Creation Research is so & Hands on & in the way they communicate with the public, through field trips, and hands on events and the way they present the Creation message in the media, by always being out there in the field is eye catching. I am a strong believer in this form of public engagement, and use it myself, as I have found it to be very effective. I would love to get involved with CR, as I think that it deals with one of the most important issues of the twenty first century: the scientific, social, moral and religious attacks on Christianity that arise from evolution. Apart from being very bad science, the Theory of Evolution completely undermines the Bible, and causes a stumbling block for many people. I would be honoured if I can be part of this essential ministry, especially since they give the Gospel in all of their presentations and I am committed to always giving the good news of Jesus whenever I give a presentation, as this is Who the Creation message is all about!!

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Field Trip to the east coast of the UK to a location called Hunstanton (above left) was lead by our newest member Joseph pictured in the camos (above right)

Above Joseph teaches at a creation Research Home school day and does a great job.

 
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