News to Note, December 15, 2007

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

Featured in News to Know

In the news this week, we have super-fast “evolution,” the evolved pregnancy, the steamy side of Mars, intrigue in Kentucky, and a Dawkin’s Christmas Carol.

1. MIT Linguist Claims Human Speech Evolved from Birds

The rate at which humans evolve is 100 times faster than it was 5,000 years ago, reports ScienceNOW on a human DNA analysis project reported on in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

2. AP: “Evolution Keeps Pregnant Women Upright

Apparently each of us has not only a mother to thank, but also evolution for bringing us into the world safe and sound—or so implies recent research published in Nature.

“Scientists think they have figured out why pregnant women don’t lose their balance and topple over,” reports the Associated Press on a question that surely has plagued most of us on a regular basis. The three-member team that solved the puzzle says we have evolution to thank for the “elegant engineering” that allows women to adjust their center of gravity and thus stay upright. And just what is the elegant engineering?

Harvard anthropology researcher Katherine Whitcome found two physical differences in male and female backs that until now had gone unnoticed: One lower lumbar vertebra is wedged-shaped in women and more square in men; and a key hip joint is 14 percent larger in women than men when body size is taken into account.

Whitcome referred to the supposed evolution of the features as “absolutely beautiful … a little bit of tinkering can have a profound effect.”

Of course, none of this research indicates any evolution was required; the news can be interpreted just as easily as two more of the design features of a gracious, omnipotent God. The treatment of the news is indicative of a growing trend, however: blithely referring to all biological discoveries (or so it seems) as “thanks to evolution,” even when they clearly point to our Creator’s providence.

For more information:

3. ScienceNOW: “Clues to a Steamy Martian Past”

Mars Rover Spirit’s stuck right front wheel scraped up quite a discovery last April, reported NASA mission controllers earlier this week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

The discovery, unsurprisingly, is all about possible Martian life. When Spirit’s broken wheel created a wheel rut, scientists noticed “a bright white layer under the characteristic red dust” of the planet. After “preliminary spectrographic analysis indicated the presence of water-soluble minerals,” NASA decided to examine the region in more detail.

Analysis of a nearby rock showed it to be formed of siliceous sinter, containing 98 percent silica. “It could have only been produced by one of two processes: Either its constituent minerals crystallized from hot springs, or it formed from the residue of fumaroles, steamy caustic volcanic vents,” explains the ScienceNOW summary.

Thus, NASA scientists, knowing that “hardy microbes survive in fumaroles and hot springs” on earth (such as at Yellowstone National Park), concluded that perhaps such implied Martian hot springs or fumaroles could have been a habitat for Martian microbes.

The news is yet another tidbit in a long line of “possibilities” that, to date, have turned up no specific evidence of Martian life. Intriguing as the news is, we won’t exactly be holding our breath for Martian life to turn up anytime soon.

4. Lexington Herald-Leader: “Pick Kentucky’s Most Intriguing Newsmaker

A lot can happen in a year—for just one person. What about for an entire state? Trying to partially answer that question for the state of Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader asks who is the most “intriguing newsmaker” in the state in 2007. And AiG–U.S. President Ken Ham is one of the nominees.

That’s right! Former Australian schoolteacher Ken Ham was nominated along with politicians, actors and actresses, athletes, criminals, and others (even including a famous horse). The nomination is a reminder that, months ago though it may have been, the Creation Museum’s opening created a worldwide splash that brought in media groups from around the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere, and is still creating news and controversy.

Briefly recounting some of that controversy, the Herald-Leader’s simple description of Ham reads,

T. rex [sic] in Paradise? The Aussie transplant and Answers in Genesis founder delighted fundamentalists and confounded evolutionists by opening a $27 million Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky.

If this is all news to you, be sure to visit and learn about the cutting-edge “walk through history” that presents the Seven C’s of history through engaging displays, stunning artistic depictions, and interactive media.

And for those who consider Ham the most intriguing figure of the year in the state, voting at ends December 19.

5. Dawkins, the Cultural Christian?

Atheist partisan Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and numerous books on evolution, still considers himself a “cultural Christian” despite rejecting the claims of Christ.

For More Information: Get Answers

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, the 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 all the latest News to Know, why not take a look to see what you’ve missed?

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