Thinking on its feet, atheist Christmas, stone breadcrumbs, dead in the water, old hairy fossils, and more in this week’s News to Note.
The evolutionary drive to invertebrate intelligence
Survey of atheist scientists asks why they go to church
Nubian wares scramble human evolutionary map again.
Dunking dead chickens delivers dinosaur death secret.
From “snowball” to “snowball,” evolution experimented with modern microbes.
And Don’t Miss . . .
- A mini-crusade by several University of Texas (UT) employees against the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) has failed. The Policy Committee overseeing the State Employee Charitable Campaign has rejected their petition to remove ICR from the list of organizations to which state employees can donate through payroll deductions. Biology professor David Hillis objected to ICR’s inclusion, asserting, “The Institute for Creation Research is an anti-science organization. They work to undermine the mission of the university and of science in general, and especially the science that is the very basis for health and human services. How could such an organization possibly be listed as a charitable organization to be supported by state employees?” There are other religious organizations on the approved list as well as organizations representing a wide variety of causes, such as the Vegan Outreach for “ethical eating.” ICR maintains, “Science strongly supports the Bible's authority and accuracy. With scientific research, education programs, and media presentations, we equip Christians to stand for the Truth.” Hillis and others find this position offensive. Another biology professor, Daniel Bolnick, said ICR’s inclusion “was enough to get me riled up. It gives them legitimacy they really don't deserve.” And a professor of Germanic studies, John Hoberman, seems to misunderstand the way the Federal Government defines organizations eligible for deductions. According to the IRS, 501(c)(3) organizations like ICR can be considered charitable organizations. But Hoberman said ICR’s activities “do not qualify as the sort of humanitarian activity we associate with charity in the proper sense of the word.” To this we, as fellow Christian creationists, must say there is no more eternally vital humanitarian service than to share the truth of the Scriptures from the very first verse, giving people answers and breaking down the stumbling blocks secular science erects, hoping they will come to know Christ the Creator as their Savior.
- Adult stem cells grown from a patient’s own heart have now been shown effective for heart failure. Stem cells are prepared from cardiac muscle cells obtained at the time of by-pass surgery or even from a cardiac biopsy. Therefore, there is no danger of rejection as with embryonic stem cell approaches. Cells require about six weeks to prepare, so this therapy is not useful for the acute heart attack. However, in 14 of the 16 patients treated by Dr. Roberto Bolli at the University of Louisville since 2009, the treatment significantly improved cardiac function in hearts long damaged by heart attack. Cardiac muscle cells destroyed by heart attacks do not normally regenerate themselves but are replaced with scar tissue. Cardiac stem cells have the potential to divide and replace lost cardiac muscle cells. “Among 14 patients who responded to the stem cell treatment, the heart's blood-pumping efficiency increased from 30.3 percent before the treatment to 38.5 percent after. And in seven patients who underwent magnetic resonance imaging, the amount of dead heart muscle tissue decreased by 24 percent over four months and 30 percent over a year.” For patients, the significance is not as much in the statistical improvement as in the improvement in lifestyle. Heart attack survivors with severe cardiac damage suffer enormous limitations, and this therapy has the potential to help many not only live longer but live better. As we have often pointed out, non-embryonic stem cell technology like this offers the best promise for not only ethical but also effective medical uses for this amazing technology.
- A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has ruled that David Coppedge will have his day in court. The 14-year veteran employee of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, lead computer administrator on the Saturn Cassini Mission, was demoted and reprimanded for lending DVDs about intelligent design to fellow employees. He was fired after filing suit to secure his right to free expression. JPL has accused him of “pushing religion,” even though his “supervisors admitted never receiving a single complaint regarding his conversations about intelligent design.”1 “The Court's ruling allows a jury to vindicate David Coppedge's rights,” said Joshua Youngkin, a legal analyst for Discovery Institute. “California law forbids employers who view an employee's expression as religion to punish or diminish the employee on that basis. . . . Although ID is not religion, it can't be singled out by JPL or other employers in this way.” The judge found there “are triable issues” here and will let a jury decide whether JPL’s actions were discriminatory. As the Discovery Institute spokesman points out, intelligent design (ID) is not a religious belief but rather an acknowledgement of the irreducible complexity and other design features evident in our world. “ID may serve as a useful tool in preliminary discussions about God and creation to gain an audience that might be turned off at the mention of the Bible.”2 Nevertheless, it is vital that the Christian creationist understand the Bible’s answers about the real cause of suffering in the world are essential to understanding the true nature of God, sin, salvation, and the life to come.
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