Reasons to Believe

Connections 2001, Vol. 3, No. 3



Humans and Chimps Differ
By Fazale R. Rana, Ph.D.

Humans and chimps share 99 percent gene similarity. So goes one of the most common and seemingly convincing arguments that humans and chimpanzees arose from a common ancestor.1 The fact that chimpanzees and humans possess proteins with similar immunological properties may seem to offer further support, but the striking genetic similarity may be less striking than these particular facts suggest. Nor does genetic similarity necessarily argue for natural-process evolution.

A genome-wide comparison of humans’ and chimps’ DNA has never been made and is currently impossible. While the human genome has been sequenced, work on the chimpanzee genome has yet to begin in any real sense.2 Until a global comparison of all DNA sequences can be made, the declaration of 99 percent similarity must be considered unwarranted. Whole-genome analysis will undoubtedly identify additional similarities between the great apes and humans, but will doubtless uncover important biochemical differences, as well.

Recent separate studies by scientists from the Max Plank Institute in Germany and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) foreshadow the anticipated discovery of these meaningful differences. These researchers found subtle but significant distinctions between the brain biochemistry of humans and that of chimpanzees.

The German group recently determined that gene expression3 in the brain tissue of humans differs markedly from that in chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys, whereas nearly identical gene expression occurs in the brain tissue of chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys.4 In contrast, gene expression in the liver and blood of chimpanzees, rhesus monkeys and humans show much similarity. According to the team’s head scientist, “Among these three tissues, it seems that the brain is really special in that humans have accelerated patterns of gene activity.”5

Scientists from UCSD identified another important difference in brain chemistry between humans and chimps. Sugars found on the surface of tissue cells vary between the two. 6-10

Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and other mammals produce N-glycolylneuraminic acid (GC-neur), a sialic sugar associated with cell surfaces. Humans, however, do not produce this sugar. GC-neur serves as a binding site for certain pathogens. The absence of GC-neur makes humans immunologically distinct from great apes and other mammals.

In great apes and other mammals GC-neur is plentiful in all body tissues but occurs at its lowest levels in the brain and central nervous system. The lack of GC-neur in humans, specifically in brain tissue and its tissue distribution, signals the intriguing possibility of a relationship between the absence of GC-neur and advanced brain capacity. Experiments are underway to test this hypothesis.11

For those who view life as the work of a Creator, genetic similarity presents no problematic implications. In fact, it would be expected since humans and great apes share so many anatomical and physiological characteristics. The proteins coded by genes are the building blocks used to construct organisms. Why wouldn’t a Creator designing organisms to share physical similarities build them from similar raw materials? Biochemistry’s uniformity throughout the living realm argues against randomness and for design. It is not the building blocks (genes) themselves, but rather the amount and combination of gene products that determine differences among organisms (at least to a first approximation), as the case of chimpanzees and humans demonstrates. As more becomes known about human and chimpanzee comparative biochemistry, scientists will undoubtedly find more subtle, but significant, indicators of divine design and of designed distinctions between humans and the rest of God’s creatures.

References:

  1. Mary-Claire King and A. C. Wilson, “Evolution at Two Levels in Humans and Chimpanzees,” Science 188 (1975): 107-16.
  2. Dennis Normile, “Genomics: Chimp Sequencing Crawls Forward,” Science 291 (2001): 2297.
  3. Gene expression refers to the overall gene activity of the cells making up a specific tissue, organ, etc. Gene expression can be thought of as an inventory of the genes that are “turned on”¾directing the production of proteins¾and the genes that are “turned off.” Gene expression also describes the quantity of different proteins produced as a result of gene activity.
  4. Dennis Normile, “Comparative Genomics: Gene Expression Differs in Human and Chimp Brains,” Science 292 (2001): 44-45.
  5. Normile, “Comparative Genomics,” 44-45.
  6. Normile, “Comparative Genomics,” 44-45.
  7. Joseph Alper, “Sugar Separates Humans from Apes,” Science 291 (2001): 2340.
  8. Elaine A. Muchmore, Sandra Diaz, and Ajit Varki, “A Structural Difference between the Cell Surfaces of Humans and the Great Apes,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 107 (1998): 187-98.
  9. Hsun-Hua Chou et al., “A Mutation in Human CMP-Sialic Acid Hydroxylase Occurred after the Homo-Pan Divergence,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 95 (1998): 11751-56.
  10. Els C. M. Brinkman-Vander Linden et al., “Loss of N-Glycolylneuraminic Acid in Human Evolution,” Journal of Biological Chemistry 275 (2000): 8633-40.
  11. Joseph Alper, 2340.


An Infinity of Universes?
Excerpted from The Creator and the Cosmos, 3d ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001), 171-72.
By Hugh Ross, Ph.D.

The weight of evidence for a divinely designed universe is now so overwhelming that it has forced astronomers and philosophers who reject the God of the Bible as the Author of the cosmos to propose the existence of an infinite number of universes. These scholars readily concede that dozens of different characteristics of the universe must be exquisitely fine-tuned for any kind of conceivable physical life to be possible. They also concede that the degree of fine-tuning observed is many, many orders of magnitude greater than any degree of fine-tuning that we humans can manifest when we attempt to create. However, rather than conceding that a God who is trillions of trillions of trillions of times more intelligent, knowledgeable, powerful, caring, and loving than [we] humans must have designed the universe for our benefit, they instead choose to speculate that an infinite number of universes must exist, each [one] different in its characteristics from all the others. An infinite number of different universes would imply that no matter how unlikely or fine-tuned a set of cosmic characteristics might be, in at least one of the infinity of universes those characteristics would be found. Thus, the God of the Bible is replaced by Chance, or, in the language of non-Christian cosmologists, by an infinite number of random fluctuations in some kind of primeval field.

The first thing to note in the above commentary is that [chance is] purposely capitalized. Where do the infinite number of universes come from? If one says, from some kind of primeval field, then where does the primeval field come from? If one says that “nothing” is unstable and, therefore, that “nothing” must produce something, then how is it that we never observe anything arising from “nothing”? [The] point is that if you ask enough questions, ultimately you will be confronted with an all-powerful, transcendent, uncaused Creator.


PRESIDENT’S LAPTOP
More Than Intelligent Design
By Hugh Ross

Several people have asked me how RTB relates to the Intelligent Design (I.D.) movement. Certainly, our message overlaps, but our approach differs. We claim the evidence identifies Jesus Christ as the Designer. Intelligent design proponents think it is more prudent given non-theists’ resistance, to establish first the existence of some undefined intelligent designer.

I believe this assessment is too pessimistic. Even if Christians do nothing, non-theistic philosophies and explanations for life will likely collapse under the weight of current discoveries. Naturalism no longer seems Christianity’s biggest challenge on campuses. The much larger challenge comes from pluralism, deism, cults, and the occult.

Christians run the risk of proving an intelligent designer but failing to convince society that the designer is Christ. I am not persuaded that establishing I.D. is a “more realistic goal.” An ill-defined designer leaves a model so sketchy that it is difficult or impossible to test with evidence or predictions—a model too nebulous for scientists (and others) to trust. The reluctance of most I.D. theorists to openly discuss creation theology adds to scientists’, politicians’, and reporters’ distrust. Many see the I.D. movement as a thinly veiled subterfuge for sneaking failed creation models back into public education curriculum.

We at RTB want to encourage open discussion of various origins models. Additionally, we want to encourage greater, not lesser, critical thinking about origins. Neither political correctness nor blind faith leads to truth. A more enlightened approach openly recognizes that nearly all of science overlaps nearly all of religion. I encourage the pursuit of any model that can withstand testing.

Few people outside the Reasons To Believe constituency even know that a successful, testable creation model exists. Our desire to turn the creation/evolution debate around can only be fulfilled as many more people, especially scientific, political, and media leaders, discover that a testable model exists. I pray that everyone reading this letter will help spread the news.

Sincerely in Christ,

Hugh Ross


FIELD REPORT
By Linda Kloth

The past few months have been an unusually busy and exciting time for RTB speakers. In the midst of book deadlines and preparing for the second RTB Conference in Cypress, California, Hugh Ross, Kenneth Samples, and Fuz Rana spent time at TBN studios taping a new television series on the origin of man.

The RTB Denver Chapter arranged June speaking engagements for Hugh at Calvary Bible Church of Boulder, West Bowles Community Church in Littleton, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), and the Christian Business Men’s Committee. AAPG participants expressed appreciation for the scientific relevance of Hugh’s presentation. Muslim scientists, hearing about the harmony of science and the Bible for the first time, expressed much interest in the talk. Fuz Rana also made an appearance in Colorado, speaking at Southern Gables Church in Littleton.

Fresh publicity came in the form of a Los Angeles Times interview with Hugh published on June 16. Fuz Rana helped heighten public awareness via radio with interviews on Stand to Reason (KBRT), KPDQ (in Portland, Oregon), and Apologetics.com (KKLA). Fuz also joined Gen. Bob Stewart in speaking at the First Presbyterian Church of Mountain View, California, in August.

Hugh met with positive receptions at Dartmouth University and the University of Central Florida. Questions came from atheists and those with New Age, occult, and agnostic beliefs.

Bayside Church in Granite Bay and Christian Church of the Hills in Agoura Hills, California, invited Hugh to speak. Encouraging news came from some Bayside Church members who reported becoming Christians as a result of reading Hugh’s books. Attendees in Agoura Hills showed their hunger to learn about creation. About half of the audience came from area churches that have not offered teaching on this subject.

Most recently, Hugh spoke at a special outreach in a private residence in Newport Coast, California. More than 100 people gathered in the Wolfes’ home to hear Hugh talk about the Author of the big bang. RTB speakers are pleased to note an increase in this personalized style of outreach around the country.


FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH
The Benefits of Trust
By David Madeira

“I would really like to make a major gift, but I don’t see how I can afford to give up any income my assets generate right now.”

Many people would love to provide larger support to causes they believe in but have concerns for their family’s financial security. There is, however, a way to give without giving up your income. In fact, by creating a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT), you can secure future income for life while supporting charity and relinquishing management concerns. Simply put, a CRAT

    provides a definite, predetermined stream of income for the remainder of your life;
    gives you a significant income tax deduction in the year of the gift;
    may enhance your current standard of living by increasing your cash flow; and
    fulfills the desire to leave a substantial contribution to charity.

In order to receive these benefits, you contribute a set amount of assets to a trust and designate someone to receive a stated, annual income for a set term of years or for life. You can name yourself, your spouse, a friend—anyone—as the income beneficiary. Determine the size of the annual payment and name a charity, such as Reasons To Believe, to receive whatever amount remains in the trust at the end of the term. For example, you could contribute $100,000 to a CRAT specifying a 7% payout and always receive $7,000 per year regardless of market performance.

The advantage of this arrangement is manifold. While stock and bond markets may fluctuate wildly during economic uncertainty, the CRAT consistently pays a designated amount to the beneficiary every year, providing certain income. Secondly, by choosing a charity as trustee and ultimate beneficiary, you create a partnership of mutual interest. The charity is motivated to invest prudently to ensure the safety and growth of principal so that payments are made to you and that money is left when the trust ends.

If you want certainty of income and would like to provide a major gift to Reasons To Believe, check out the Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust—the gift that gives back. Please contact the Foundation Office at 626-335-1480 for more information about this wonderful way to give.


RTB CHAPTERS
The RTB Denver Chapter invites you on a Winter Getaway Cruise

    7 days in the Southern Caribbean on the Dawn Princess
    Departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 2, 2002, returning March 9
    Contact Ellora at Zoe's Cruises and Tours for an information kit.
    888-560-7675 or 800-444-4256

ALABAMA

    HUNTSVILLE
        September 19 & November 28
        Skeptics Forums will be held at the Huntsville-Madison County Library Conference Room. Contact the Huntsville Chapter for details.

COLORADO

    DENVER
        Third Saturday of the Month
        Meetings are usually held to third Saturday of each month at Saint John’s Lutheran Church (700 S. Franklin St., Denver) from 9:00 – 11:00 A.M. Bible studies are being offered in Arvada, Boulder, Englewood, and Littleton. Contact the Denver Chapter for details.

Chapter Contact Information (U.S.)

Denver, Colorado
Contact: Dan Brown
Phone: (303) 363-7327
E-mail: Denver@reasons.org

Houston, Texas
Contact: William Bryan Darwin
Phone: (713) 639-3390
E-mail: RTB-Houston@usa.net

Seattle, Washington
Contact: Stan Lennard, M.D.
Phone: (425) 485-9712
E-mail: lennardjs@msn.com

Orlando, Florida
Contact: Phil Metzger
Phone: (407) 382-0088
E-mail: Philtill@aol.com
This chapter is just getting started.

Huntsville, Alabama
Contact: Mark Whorton
Phone: (256) 830-0996
E-mail: Huntsville@reasons.org

Raleigh, North Carolina
Contact: Don Markle
Phone: (919) 424-4555
E-mail: dmarkle120@yahoo.com
This chapter is just getting started.

Charlotte, North Carolina
Contact: Jay Hanna
E-mail: Jay.Hanna@na.clariant.com
Worldwide Chapters are located in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Additional Chapter information is available on our Website.


LETTERS
Speaking of Feedback

Thank you for your presentation to CBMC [Connecting Business and the Marketplace to Christ] in Denver . . . .

Since your speaking, I have had a deepening experience in my relationship with God . . . .I found your books Beyond the Cosmos and The Genesis Question . . . . I've been a believer for 35 years and have never studied the creation story. What a great way to start my summer, reading your books and Genesis 1.

The most wonderful impact from all of this is an opening of my eyes to see God's creation all around us and his love for us through his creation . . . . I also was given the remembrance that there is a holy dimension beyond our four dimensions here on earth. Your invitation to soar reminds me also that God very definitely desires us to be in relationship with him.

Thank you for your ministry and heeding his call and remaining faithful to it.

-- Merry and Steve Snyder, Colorado
Gold Nuggets

I've been greatly enjoying your TV shows lately on the various models for the origin of man. I come from a computer science background so I have somewhat of a scientific outlook but I have to plead ignorance when talking about evolution or other issues in the biological sciences due to my lack of background. I'm recently hooked and I've been watching every week . . . .

-- Mark Turner, Email

I really enjoy your [radio] program! What a fresh, scientific way to look at things. I have tried to follow the studies of. . . others. I find many nuggets of truth from each. But they all tend to try to fit the data into their pet models. I have a long, varied scientific background and keep in contact with some good folks at NASA . . . . So it was with interest that I listened to your May 19, 2001 program where the motions of the moon were discussed. This is an immensely interesting subject . . . .Thanks for your program. I will stay tuned!

-- Scott Dennis, Alaska

As a believer and a biochemist, I’m grateful to Reasons To Believe for its uncompromising commitment to Scriptural inerrancy and unflinching academic honesty.  (Since God gave us both the Word and the Creation, I can’t imagine why people are afraid they could be contradictory!) But it is Dr. Ross’s graciousness that makes it a truly effective ministry.

-- Heather Kempton, Email

Just a quick note to express my great appreciation for The Creator and the Cosmos. I've ordered other materials now and have discovered your excellent Web site. I'm a biologist and amateur astronomer, and I've been a Christian since my teens . . . . I've given the book to my eighteen-year-old son to read too, as he also has much interest in the sciences. I hope to present many of these materials at an on-going class in our church . . . . Keep up the good work and thanks again.

-- Mark Pinkston, Missouri

*Letters may be edited for brevity or clarity.


PRAY-ERS
The Price of Peace
By Kathy Ross

Bumper stickers usually annoy me, but they’re hard to ignore in Southern California, where bumper-to-bumper traffic and opinions abound. Inching along the fast lane of the 210 Freeway, listening to 980 AM for an explanation of the slowdown, a message appears before me, black letters on a white rectangle: “No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace.”

Clever word play. Maybe even approaching profound. My thought processes rev as my car’s engine idles.

What do the drivers around me think of these words? Do Christians—including me—show the world what “peace that surpasses understanding” looks like, acts like, feels like, or thinks like? Or, are we better known for our fretting, fussing, feuding?

Hmmm. I think I know how to pray today: “Lord, give me strength to fight those battles within me that will allow your peace to prevail.” I’m suddenly aware of the peace’s price—total surrender to the Prince of Peace.


RTB IS COMING TO TOWN
Listed are upcoming outreaches and other RTB events. Check to see if one will be held near you. For additions and updates, visit www.reasons.org.

CALIFORNIA

    OAKHURST
        September 9-11
            Alan Graas will speak at the Episcopal Conference Center, Oakhurst Elder Hostel Program. Contact: Judy Hussain (559) 683-8162
    PASADENA
        September 17 & November 5
            Hugh Ross, Dave Rogstad, Fazale Rana, and Kenneth Samples offer a Skeptics Forum at the University Club in Pasadena at noon. Contact: Margo (626) 796-2649
    SANTA CLARA
        September 29
            Hugh Ross will join in a panel discussion at the Santa Clara First Baptist Church. The topic: “Darwin, God, or Both.” Contact the church office at (408) 241-7635
    SANTA CRUZ
        October 16
            Hugh Ross and Fazale Rana will present the Testable Creation Model at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Contact: Gary Robertson (831) 425-6065
    ROSEVILLE
        October 12-13
            Hugh Ross will speak at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Roseville. He will discuss his book, The Fingerprint of God. Contact: Scott Hightower (916) 364-5509
    FULLERTON
        November 2-3
            Hugh Ross and Fazale Rana will conduct workshops at the annual Christian Ministry Training Association convention. Dr. Ross will present on Friday and Dr. Rana will present on Saturday. Contact the CMTA for convention registration at (626) 398-2292
    SIERRA MADRE
        Sundays
            Hugh Ross leads the Paradoxes Class at Sierra Madre Congregational Church most Sundays, 11:00 A.M. Contact the church office at (626) 355-3566

Hear Dr. Ross and his guests every week on the Reasons To Believe radio network. If your local station does not yet carry the program, you can tune in to the Web simulcast through links on our home page at www.reasons.org. Tune in Saturdays at 9 A.M. (PT), noon (ET).


RADIO LOG
DOES THE FOSSIL RECORD PROVE A GLOBAL FLOOD?

Ask Dr. Ross your question about science and the Bible LIVE on the Reasons To Believe radio show every Saturday at 9:00 A.M. PT, noon EST (except as noted below), by calling 1-866-RTB-RADIO.

    KFSG – FM 93.5 | Los Angeles, CA
    KFSB – AM 1220 | San Francisco, CA
    KRKS – FM 94.7 | Denver, CO
    KPDQ – AM 800 | Portland, OR
    KIXL – AM 970 | Austin, TX  (Rebroadcast Saturday @ 11 P.M.)
    KGNW – AM 820 | Seattle, WA (Rebroadcast Sat. @ 11 A.M., Sun. @ 4 P.M.)
    KKMO – AM 1360 | Seattle, WA
    KLFE – AM 1590 | Seattle, WA

Listen to any of our past radio programs at www.reasons.org.

Tapes of our weekly radio broadcast are also available for purchase. Call 1-800-482-7836.


COMING SOON in FACTS for FAITH

Radiometric Dating
An overview of the principles and methods of radiometric dating clears up some misconceptions about the reliability of this dating method. Roger Wiens

Body & Soul Part 2 of 3
Commonsense ideas about self-awareness, point of view, identity, and free will demonstrate that the human soul is immaterial. J. P. Moreland

Sudden Appearance of Bipedals
The sudden and rapid appearance of primates with the ability to walk upright provides powerful support for supernatural intervention in animal origins. Fazale Rana

Exotic Life Sites
Could life exist on other planets, meteorites, moons, or “ejected” planets? What does science say about the existence of other hospitable habitats in the universe? Hugh Ross


MESSAGE OF THE MONTH
Providing New Reasons

Join the team! Help meet RTB’s vital need for consistency and expansion by giving a monthly gift. In return, you’ll receive a timely message on scientific discoveries and ministry events. Call 800-482-7836 for information, or sign up via the Web.