The New York Times reports on the front page that researchers are claiming to have discovered fossilized single-cell organisms that are 3.4 billion years old. As the Times notes:
Their assertion, if sustained, confirms the view that life evolved on earth surprisingly soon after the Late Heavy Bombardment, a reign of destruction in which waves of asteroids slammed into the primitive planet, heating the surface to molten rock and boiling the oceans into an incandescent mist. The bombardment, which ended around 3.85 billion years ago, would have sterilized the earth's surface of any incipient life….
The new microfossils are described in Sunday's issue ofNature Geoscience by a team led by David Wacey of the University of Western Australia and Martin D. Brasier of the University of Oxford. The fossils were found in sandstone at the base of the Strelley Pool rock formation in Western Australia.
The sandstone, 3.4 billion years ago, was a beach on one of the few islands that had started to appear above the ocean's surface. Conditions were very different from those of today. The moon orbited far closer to earth, raising huge tides. The atmosphere was full of methane, since plants had not yet evolved to provide oxygen, and greenhouse warming from the methane had heated the oceans to the temperature of a hot bath.
It was in these conditions, the geologists believe, that organisms resembling today's bacteria lived in the crevices between the pebbles on the beach. Examining thin slices of rock under the microscope, they have found structures that look like living cells, some in clusters that seem to show cell division.
Hmmm. Is this just another snare and delusion created by the Devil to tempt gullible humans into trusting "science" over the inerrant Bibie? Would-be Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry may think so. The governor has evidently been an enthusiatic backer of creationist pseudo-science. The Texas Freedom Network has a collection of Perry's comments on the subject. Here are a couple of relevant quotations from the governor:
Recognizing that evolution is a theory, and not claimed by anyone to be more than that, the governor believes it would be a disservice to our children to teach them only one theory on the origin of our existence without recognizing other scientific theories worth consideration. Intelligent design is a concept that is gaining greater traction because it points to a notion that most people believe to be true: that we were created by an intelligent being who designed the human race with great detail and complexity. . . .
"I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools along with theories of evolution."
I include below a nice YouTube mash-up of my debate presentation, "Intelligent Design By Super-Intelligent Purple Space Squids," with creationists from the Discovery Institute at Freedomfest a couple of years back.