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Year in Review: Unheeded warnings

Some scientists tried to play God, while others discovered evidence of God’s design

He Jiankui speaks at the Human Genome Editing Conference in Hong Kong in November 2018. Associated Press/Photo by Kin Cheung (file)

Year in Review: Unheeded warnings

Scientific discoveries in 2019 awed and sometimes alarmed us. At the end of last year, Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world with the announcement that he had used the CRISPR gene-editing tool to modify the DNA of human embryos who developed into twin girls. The scientific community continues to grapple with the implications of his rogue experiment, debating what limits regulators should place on developing reproductive technologies.

Meanwhile, evolutionists this year continued to discover facts that refute their own theories, as scientists churned out studies that showed the awesome complexity of God's design. New archaeological finds also shined a light on the truth of the Biblical narrative and enhanced the richness of our understanding of Scripture.

Made in our own image

In January, shortly after He made his startling announcement, Chinese government officials disclosed that their preliminary investigation showed he had sidestepped regulations, dodged supervision, and forged fake ethical review documents. Chinese officials said they would punish He for his crimes, but they have released no further news of his whereabouts or the legal process.

The reckless experiment served as a wake-up call to scientists and ethicists around the globe. The long-term effects of embryonic gene editing on a child and his or her future offspring remain unknown. One study showed that the gene mutations He made in the embryos may shorten the twin girls’ lifespans and those of their progeny.

By March, a group of prominent scientists and bioethicists from seven countries had published an editorial in the journal Nature calling for a worldwide moratorium on heritable genome editing. But on May 23, a Democratic-led committee from the U.S. House of Representatives drafted a bill that lifted a ban that prohibited the Food and Drug Administration from funding such research but later reinstated the ban to the bill. In July, the World Health Organization recommended that regulatory authorities in all countries should not allow any further work in this area until its implications have been properly considered.” The recommendations do not carry the force of law, and officials are still debating how to proceed.

Global opinion hasn’t stopped some from pressing on. In June, Russian scientist Denis Rebrikov announced his plans to implant gene-edited embryos in a woman by the end of this year. Other researchers hurtled toward a future of gene-edited babies at breakneck speed despite the cautions. —J.B.

Evidence against evolution piles up

Evolutionists continued to discover new information that defies Charles Darwin’s signature theory. Researchers in China discovered a mass of fossils from 101 animal species, 53 percent of which were previously unknown. Evolutionists, who contend that animals evolved into gradually more advanced forms of life over 40 to 50 million years, can offer no explanations for how a huge variety of complex animals, with no evidence of predecessors, suddenly showed up in the fossil record during the Cambrian period.

The discovery of an ancient Denisovan tooth added to an increasing body of scientific evidence suggesting that Neanderthals, Denisovans, and modern humans belong to one species, throwing a monkey wrench into the theory that humans descended from archaic subspecies that migrated out of Africa. The finding fits quite well with the Biblical worldview that God created one species of people in the Garden of Eden, not a long chain of evolving beings that eventually became modern humans.

The mounting evidence against Darwinian evolution this year led Yale University professor David Gelernter to publicly turn his back on Darwin’s theory in an op-ed for the Claremont Review of Books. Gelernter said evolution has failed to explain the origin of species and scientists should “get over Darwin and move on.” —J.B.

Fearfully and wonderfully made

Other studies this year shed light on the awesome designs God created for everything from protecting unborn human babies to helping honeybees stay alive.

One study found that a pregnant woman’s brain cells fire a warning when nearby objects get too close, creating a psychological safety bubble around her that protects her abdomen, and therefore her baby, from harm. Another study showed that the placenta selects specific antibodies in the mother and uses them to activate natural killer cells in the baby that can attack infectious microbes.

Researchers discovered how God designed honeybees to protect their hive by passing immunity to certain diseases from one bee to another. Honeybees trapped in water also make their own waves, which they use to surf to safety.

Other scientists marveled at the discovery that octopus arms can think for themselves by sending information to each other without the brain’s involvement. Spanish red deer bucks wowed researchers who studied a dark spot that appears on their bellies during mating season. Apparently, the female deer find it pretty alluring. When females outnumber males, chemicals in the spot become more potent, letting the female know her potential mate’s age, dominance range, and physical condition, giving the healthiest bucks a competitive edge. —J.B.

The case for Scripture

Although many archaeologists might not intend to demonstrate the truth of the Bible, their findings continue to do so. Refuting Biblical skeptics who say King David never ruled over a powerful and united Israel, archaeologists this year unearthed a fortified wall in southern Israel that dates to the time of David’s grandson Rehoboam and bolsters the argument that Rehoboam fortified the ancient city of Lachish just as the Bible says. It shows a united and powerful kingdom under David and his son Solomon was already established by the time of Rehoboam’s reign.

Scholars also have argued the Bible’s record of King David conquering the Edomites (2 Samuel 8:14) is inaccurate because the kingdom of Edom didn’t arise until more than 300 years after the time of David. But a new study this year found that Edom not only existed but flourished even before Saul became the first king of Israel. —J.B.

Julie Borg

Julie is a WORLD contributor who covers science and intelligent design. A clinical psychologist and a World Journalism Institute graduate, Julie resides in Dayton, Ohio.

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