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News to Note, December 4, 2010

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

on December 4, 2010

Meet the Ark Encounter; arsenic and an odd lake; plant-men: another missing link; and more!

1. Creation Museum Partners with Ark Encoutner LCC

In case you haven’t heard, Answers in Genesis is partnering with Ark Encounter LLC to build what might be called the Creation Museum’s sibling: a $150 million Noah’s Ark-themed experience also to be located in northern Kentucky.

2. "Aliens” on Earth}

We reported in February and October 2009 on the quest to find “aliens” on earth. This week’s news? They’ve found them.

3. Is Earth One of Many Trillion?

Far from being one of a kind, might the earth be one of many trillion?

4. Genetic Connections with Chimpanzees

Evolutionists often emphasize our genetic similarity to chimpanzees, but our genetic connections don’t end there.

5. The Telegraph: “Tony Blair Defends Religious Faith

While not famous first and foremost as a defender of religion, former British prime minister Tony Blair stood up for religion as a force for good in the world in a debate with atheist Christopher Hitchens.

The debate in Toronto, Canada, saw Blair argue for the positive impact of religion even though some “people commit horrific acts of evil in the name of religion.” Hitchens argued to the contrary that the theist’s world is a “celestial dictatorship, a kind of divine North Korea.”

The arguments tackled such issues as whether spirituality leads to more compassion than evil, with Blair pointing to the work of faith-based organizations working around the globe. Hitchens, who toured the Creation Museum earlier this year, countered, “Religion forces nice people to do unkind things, and also makes intelligent people say stupid things.” In his view, the existence of a God makes humans “objects in a cruel experiment.”

What’s interesting is the instrumental approach to the debate, where the existence of God and the importance of religion is judged less by truth and falsehood and more by its consequences for the world and individual rationality. In this frame of thinking, even an atheist may see religion as a force for good, while a theist might find religion generally problematic. Of course, we still side with Blair, especially given Hitchens’ propensity to argue that one can only be rational when free from theism. We argue, based on Scripture, that rationality (including logic and science) only make sense in a world created by a rational God who has designed the world in consistent, knowable ways and who has revealed Himself to us through His Word.

For more information:

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • It’s a “paradox” in evolutionary views of the origin of life: “How could cell membranes have evolved without biochemical machines to manufacture the building blocks?” That question is asked in Technology Review coverage of a new idea that the first cells originated as air bubbles inside “armored” clay balls. “Of course, there is no proof that life on Earth evolved in armoured bubbles,” the story admits, adding, “but it is yet another indicator that the conditions in which life can flourish are more common and more likely to form than anyone could have imagine [sic] just a few years ago.” But as they said, the evidence for whether life can flourish in such an environment—let alone appear by chance—still lacks evidence!
  • Scientists at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst have watched a microorganism “evolve” in the lab, even analyzing the organism’s DNA and identifying the mutation that permitted the adaptation. But the research was based on artificial (laboratory produced) conditions, meaning that the mutant bacteria may not have been as successful in normal environments; even if they were, a beneficial mutation is not the same thing as a mutation that adds genetic information.
  • GJ 1214b, an exoplanet discovered just last year, is the first so-called “Super-earth” found to have an atmosphere. Although scientists aren’t sure, water is a possible component of the atmosphere—which if confirmed may have evolution-accepting researchers more interested in the planet as a possible home for extraterrestrial life.
  • Did the decline of ancient rainforests “pave the way” for the rise of reptiles, as a new study suggests? Or is it instead a misreading of the fossil record that smuggles millions of years of history into fossils and rocks that show no such thing?
  • A new study has shown that mercury contamination in the diet of ibis chicks can reverse the birds’ normal sexual orientation: more than half of a group of the birds that were fed mercury-laced diets tried to mate with other males. While we certainly would not say this explains homosexuality in humans, it adds a further qualification to the argument that homosexual behavior is supposedly normal in nature.
  • Last month we reported on research suggesting the earth could have been watery from its creation, which comports with what Genesis teaches (although the researchers did not approach the problem from a young-earth framework!). Research soon to be published in Astrophysics and Space Science supports the same conclusion, moving the old-earth model ever so slightly closer to the young-earth model.

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 last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!

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