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News to Note, August 13, 2011

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on August 13, 2011
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Death Star’s demise, building blocks in space rocks, poison rat paint, clocking the Ice Age,genomic forest

1. Nemesis Comet Most Likely a Myth

Have no fear: the death star is not there.

2. Building Blocks In Space Rocks—The Wellspring of Life?

Building blocks in space rocks—the well-spring of life?

3. Giant Crested Rat Painted With Poison Sends Predators Packing

Giant crested rat painted with unpalatable poison sends predators packing.

4. A Snail’s Tale of the Past

Protein degradation purported to peer into the past

5. Genome Structure Over Genetic Mutations: What Makes You Different

The genomic forest is harder to see than its trees.

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has photographed dark streaks which appear during warmer seasons on Mars and disappear with the cold. Investigators think the streaks are indirect evidence of liquid water. They suggest the salty Martian soil may lower water’s freezing point enough to allow brine to surface and flow downhill. Planetologist Alfred McEwen hopes the subsurface water is real, planning to focus the search for Martian life there. Evolutionists believe that life is likely to have evolved where water is found. The next Mars rover will not examine the streaks. Planetary protection rules prohibit a non-sterile craft from landing near water. Besides the fear of unleashing earth germs on an alien world, microbial contamination would muddle the question of whether Martian life exists. Confirmation will therefore have to await the ExoMars drilling project in 2018. That spacecraft will be sterile. See also News to Note, June 19, 2010 and Mars, a Testament to Catastrophe.
  • “A lot of people in the west haven't heard of the hyrax, but it's very common in the Middle East,” University of Haifa’s Arik Kershenbaum told BBC Nature. “It's even mentioned in the Bible as one of the main inhabitants of the land.” But the hyrax, also known as a coney or rock badger, is becoming a garden pest in suburban Israel. Hyraxes harbor parasitic sandflies, which transmit cutaneous leishmaniasis to humans. Kershenbaum’s study, published in Wildlife Research, found that the shy hyrax likes to set up house-keeping in “man-made boulder piles on the fringes of new residential developments.”1 Researchers suggest the simplest solution to hyrax proliferation is to clean up the boulder piles. Then the conies will do what Proverbs 30:26 says they do: “The rock badgers are a feeble folk yet they make their homes in the crags.” They’ll go home where they belong.
  • Scientists from Kyoto University are claiming a breakthrough because “proto-sperm” cells from mouse embryos, grown in a dish for a couple of days and injected into the testes of non-sperm-producing mice, developed into functional sperm. Efforts to create sperm and eggs in the laboratory have met with no success—not a surprise given that scientists cannot create life from non-life. They consider this discovery applicable to human infertility problems. However, since the source of the “proto-sperm” cells would be a human embryo, the value of dissecting it to grow more sperm seems to be rather absurd, not to mention immoral.
  • “Did God Create the Universe?” aired on Discovery last weekend along with an aftershow panel discussion. According to the LA Times, the program should be called “Stephen Hawking Explains Why He is Quite Certain God Did Not Create the Universe.” The writer adds that, despite Hawking’s “easily understood metaphors. . . like its alternative, belief in Hawking’s premise is an act of faith.” Commenting on the program, Dr. Jason Lisle, planetarium director for the Creation Museum, stated:

    Steve Hawking claims we don’t need God, because the universe can be explained entirely by the laws of physics. But apart from God, how can we make sense of the existence and properties of the laws of physics? How could such laws exist apart from a Law-Giver, and how could we know that they apply everywhere at all times? Why is it that laws of nature obey simple mathematical relationships (such as E=mc2) that can be understood by the human mind?

    The Christian worldview can make sense of these things. God upholds the universe in a logical and consistent way that can be at least partly understood by the human mind. Thus, the Christian worldview provides a rational foundation for science. However, Hawking is left in the embarrassing position of having no logical justification for the methods and procedures of science. He must borrow concepts (like universal laws of nature) from the Christian worldview while simultaneously denying the Christian God.

  • “Some conservative scholars are saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account,” according to NPR. (We would question their definition of conservative here for some of the scholars.) This biblically compromised position is heavily promoted by BioLogos Foundation. BioLogos biologist Dennis Venema, asserts that an original human couple “would be against all the genomic evidence that we've assembled over the last 20 years.” Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary rightly points out that “the Apostle Paul (in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians (15)) argued that the whole point of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection was to undo Adam's original sin. Without Adam, the work of Christ makes no sense whatsoever.” We recently examined the genetic and the theological aspects of this issue in “The Search for the Historical Adam” and Population Genomics.

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Footnotes

  1. www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WR10228

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