News to Note, August 15, 2009

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

on August 15, 2009
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Hot air over Mars, against the flow, vestigial ideas, and more!

1. Is Their Model Upright?

“This model should cause everyone to re-evaluate what they’ve said before”—the words of a Duke University professor whose research turns the origins of bipedal walking on its head.

2. Hot Air Over Mars

The fuss over martian methane—which had fueled hopes for life on the Red Planet—may be misplaced, according to a new study.

We first covered the excitement over the detection of methane in January, then followed up briefly last week. Although methane can have geological origins, it is more commonly produced biologically (on earth, anyway)—and thus the methane was considered a possible sign of martian life.

3. Goofy Planet is Backwards

For the first time, astronomers have detected a planet that could be said to “swim against the flow”—orbiting in the opposite direction from the spin of its star.

4. Vestigial Ideas

Another study reminds us that the idea of “vestigial organs” is, itself, vestigial!

The premise behind the idea of vestigial organs is that our bodies contain “evolutionary leftovers”—once biologically necessary but now unimportant, lingering on only because they don’t outright kill us.

5. USA Today: “We Believe in Evolution—and God”

Two Christian evolutionists send a broadside our way with a USA Today opinion piece this week. But do they bring up anything new?

6. And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Many readers no doubt heard about the atheists who visited the Creation Museum en masse last week, resulting in a news buzz and numerous opinions on the event. Some reports aired strange inaccuracies (e.g., “mankind spread from continent to continent by walking across the floating trunks of trees knocked down during the biblical Flood”). The organizer of the atheist trip praised the museum’s friendly staff. We emphasized that non-disruptive atheists are welcome to return. (By the way, many inaccuracies reported were answered in Ken Ham’s blog.)
  • In other coverage of the Creation Museum, an Answers in Genesis supporter wrote a well-crafted letter admonishing an Ohio newspaper for publishing a shoddy editorial that ridiculed the museum. All supporters are invited to follow suit whenever the circumstances call for it!
  • Do your children know more than you do about science? More than half of the respondents to a UK poll think so, reports BBC News. That may be a bit humorous when it comes to such questions as “Why is the sky blue?” but don’t forget that children expect reasonable answers on origins, too. And if they don’t find them from their parents or Sunday school teachers, they may accept their school science teacher’s answers by default.
  • Researchers have discovered another way (albeit somewhat trivial) in which our Neanderthal kin were similar to ourselves: at least some were able to taste bitter flavors.
  • Despite some misplaced comments attacking creationists, the authors of a Los Angeles Times opinion piece offer an interesting review of a rift within the evolutionary community—and how Richard Dawkins is different than Charles Darwin.
  • More than 350 new species have been discovered in the Himalayas in the past decade, the Associated Press reports, including the miniature muntjac—the world’s smallest deer. Of course, if found in the fossil record, evolutionists might interpret such a small deer as a transitional form between another small mammal type and larger deer. The miniature muntjac reminds us that a great diversity of sizes and variations within a single kind can coexist on the same earth at the same time.
  • It isn’t just crows, dolphins, and elephants who rival primates in surprising levels of intelligence; dogs too (some breeds, anyway) may be able to perform simple arithmetic.

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Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, New York Times or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!

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