News to Note, December 24, 2011

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

“Jurassic lark” Starbursts? Ancient bedding The not-so-naked ape Zygote: the single cell that can

1. 3D Film "Flying Monsters" Wins BAFTA Award

When dinosaurs walked the earth, monsters ruled the skies.

2. Galaxy Aglow With New Stars

Are the stars of NGC 253 bursting in space?

3. Early Human Beds Discovered In South Africa

Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite.

4. Human Hairs Developed to Beat Back Bugs

Bugs and fuzz don’t mix.

5. Evolutionary Bottleneck: All Multicellular Organisms Begin as One Cell

The good of the one outweighs the good of the few and the many—the single-cell bottleneck that unleashes multicellular evolutionary potential(?)

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • So, “what has God got to do with it?” a recent article asks. Many physicists involved in the search for the elusive Higgs boson are angry about the nickname “god particle,” not because of its irreverence but because it implies they have allowed a “Divine Foot in the door.”1 “Hearing it called the 'God particle' makes me angry,” says one “Higgs hunter,” adding, “It confuses people about what we are trying to do here at CERN.” British scientist Peter Higgs proposed its existence to explain how “matter obtained mass after the universe was created in the Big Bang.” As such, according to the theory, it was the agent that made the stars, planets—and life—possible by giving mass to most elementary particles, the building blocks of the universe; hence the nickname “God particle.” The angry “Higgs hunter” explains, “Without it, or something like it, particles would just have remained whizzing around the universe at the speed of light.” Higgs himself has expressed his own outrage about the nickname, saying, “Lederman has a lot to answer for.” Nobel prize-winning particle physicist Leon Lederman used the term for his book, The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question? He actually desired a far more blasphemous title to express the frustration of his quest, but his publisher nixed the idea, “possibly because of its potential to upset a strongly religious U.S. public,” and proposed the alternative. Notwithstanding the rhapsodic utterances of theistic evolutionist Dr. Karl Giberson—quoted recently in this column2—biblical creationists attach no theological importance to the search. If the particle is ever found, its existence will not prove the big bang happened—in violation of God’s eyewitness account of His creative work—but show instead one of the ways God upholds His creation. Read more about the Higgs boson at News to Note, December 17, 2011, Beams Collide Today in Expensive Hadron Collider, and In Search of God.
  • The Kepler planet-hunting team has confirmed the existence of two Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting Kepler 20, a star similar to our sun. (They recently found Kepler 22b in the “habitable zone” of temperatures, but Kepler 22b is “too big to suggest life. . . . At 2.4 times the size of Earth, it could be more like the gas-and-liquid Neptune with only a rocky core and mostly ocean.”) These smaller exoplanets are very hot (1,400 and 800 degrees Fahrenheit) but are thought to be rocky planets close to Earth’s size. (Planet size is estimated by the fractional dimming of the host star’s light during the planet transit across our view. One planet has a diameter about three percent larger than Earth’s and the other about nine-tenths of Earth’s.) “The outer planet could have developed a thick water vapour atmosphere,”3 according to a report in Nature. The Kepler team is keeping tabs on many “potential planets” as they await more transits to gather confirmation; they hope these are just the first of many Earth-size planets, each of which is “an encouraging sign for prospects of finding life elsewhere.” Evolutionary scientists believe life can evolve from random interaction of water and chemicals anywhere conditions are right. Planets like these, they think, even with extreme conditions, could be home to non-sentient microbial life reminiscent of Earth’s extremophile bacteria. However, scientists have never observed life evolve from non-living components. Our Creator’s recipe for physical life is not “just add water” but “Let there be . . .” as described in Genesis. Even if life were to be indisputably found on another world, its existence would not prove molecules-to-man evolution ever occurred. Such life would simply be another demonstration of God’s creative power to create life where He chooses. Read more in last week’s discussion of Kepler 22b.
  • The European Court of Justice ruled in October that stem cell lines obtained from human embryos as well as technology developed from destruction of human embryos cannot be patented in the European Union. The decision, which cannot be appealed, further declares “any research using such lines is also immoral.” The ruling was the culmination of a suit brought by Greenpeace against German embryonic stem cell researcher Oliver Brüstle. Greenpeace believes no one “has the moral right to patent any sort of life,” human or otherwise. Yet even Greenpeace spokesman Christoph Then was surprised the judges went beyond the legality of patents to spread the immoral blanket over all human embryonic research except that which is “useful to [the embryo].” Many fear funding will dry up for all ESC research in Europe. Brüstle says, “What hurt most personally was the accusation that scientists who work on human ES-cell lines are somehow immoral.” He believes human embryos should not be created for the purpose of research but has no moral qualms about destroying embryos left over from in vitro fertilization procedures. The moral dilemmas that arise in these cases can be difficult, but each “test tube baby” is produced with the intent it should live. ESC research crosses a line and guarantees death of the unborn. Sincere people thinking good can come of such research would balk at donation of their babes-in-arms. Biblically, we need to follow the principle of Romans 3:8 where we learn that evil is still evil, even when done in hopes of a greater good. See News to Note, October 22, 2011, Stem Cells, Flesh and Blood, The Debate over Stem Cells, When Does Life Begin? and Embryo Protection.

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