Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Most Important Scientific Breaththrough of the Last Decade

The Irish Times has a story on the most important scientific discoveries of the last ten years. Among the big winners: the Toumai skull, Sahelanthropus tchadensis, MicroRNAs, the discovery of the speech gene FoxP2, and the human genome. The ambiguity of the Toumai skull is correctly described. It was squashed flat and it is not clear even quite what it is. About FoxP2, they write:
Two mutations in a single gene may have provided the evolutionary push that opened the way to human conversation. It all comes down to a master switch for language, the Foxp2 gene, which was first identified in 2001. It was found because of its associations, when switched off, in speech and language problems in humans. The following year German and British researchers compared our Foxp2 gene with matching ones in chimps, gorillas, orang-utans and rhesus macaque monkeys. They found two alterations seen only in humans, and surmised that these mutations had opened the way to language. Extensive research since has shown how the altered Foxp2 also triggered physiological changes that delivered the capacity to talk, something that gave humans a huge evolutionary advantage. Researchers are now studying how Foxp2 interacts with a large collection of genes associated with language.
As you read the discoveries, remember that most of them would have never come about without a modern, scientifically valid understanding of the universe—something that young earth creationism cannot provide.

Now playing: Todd Rundgren - Fever Broke 1.0
via FoxyTunes


  1. Science indeed may give us some insight into the physical process of how and why humans speak -- and why animals do not; but that knowledge does not make much difference between us and the ancient people. Or between evolutionists and young creationists. Because without science, the ancients knew what they needed to know: That humans speak and animals do not (although sometimes they did).

    Nevertheless, it does not mean animals do not recognize the existence of God or that they do not worship Him in their own inscrutable ways. Perhaps, it is because we think we are more endowed that we pride ourselves of being better and more privileged. (The story of Adam and Noah should remind us that once upon a time humans and animals spoke a language we do not know of -- the perfect, symbiotic language of kindness and tameness. What we also call "being one with Nature".)

    Let science explain why birds sing as well, if not better than humans, and maybe, just maybe, I will accept that science indeed helps us "modern" people to know God and ourselves more than the ancients did. Until then, all this talk about science giving us certain advantages is nothing but chirping and cawing.

  2. Actually, science has given us many advantages that we would not otherwise have had. From the first people that moved out of Africa over a million years ago—likely Homo erectus—who harnessed fire for the first time after considerable experimentation, I am sure, to the hominids that followed them that hypothesized that if you put a roof over your head and a few walls around you, you could move anywhere. Science in one form or another has separated us from other primates in ways that make it seem almost impossible that we once had a common ancestor.