News to Note, December 8, 2007

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

on December 8, 2007

This week we offer up super smart chimps, a dinosaur “mummy,” a biblical wall, and widespread doubts about Darwin.

This week:

  1. Biologist fired for beliefs, suit says
  2. Are You Smarter than a Chimp?
  3. Possible Biblical Wall Uncovered
  4. The Devil and Mr. Darwin?

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1. The Boston Globe: “Biologist fired for beliefs, suit says

Should employers have the right to mandate a belief that they say is integral to the work?

The firing of Dr. Nathaniel Abraham at a renowned New England institute is somewhat surprising in one aspect: his bosses admit they fired him because of his creationist beliefs (even though he did not push those beliefs on the job) and have not tried to hide their motivation. It made them open to charges of religious discrimination. This past week, Dr. Abraham’s attorneys filed a civil rights/religious discrimination lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in Boston.

Dr. Abraham was a postdoctoral fellow in the field of fish development at the highly respected Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. When he told his
supervisor in 2004 that he was a creationist, Dr. Abraham was soon terminated. The Boston Globe was clearly not very sympathetic towards Dr. Abraham’s plight. In addition to quoting evolutionists from California and Florida who piled on Dr. Abraham, the newspaper misled readers by stating that Dr. Abraham held a doctorate in philosophy when it is actually a PhD in biology (suggesting that he may not have been qualified for this scientific research position).*

Dr. Abraham now teaches biology at Liberty University in Virginia. Return to this website on Monday for a fuller treatment on this lawsuit.

*It could be that the reporters misunderstood the nature of the degree when they contacted Dr. Abraham’s alma mater about his degree.

2. Monkey See, Monkey Remember

Based on test results published in Current Biology, chimpanzees have “an extraordinary photographic memory that is far superior to ours.” The tests were devised by Japanese scientists and pitted university students against three pairs of mother-and-child chimps.

3. Non-existent Wall Found

A wall mentioned in Nehemiah—but thought by some archaeologists not to exist—has been found, according to an Israeli archaeologist.

4. Reuters: “Poll Finds More Americans Believe in Devil than Darwin

A new Harris poll conducted in the United States shows that more people believe in a literal hell and devil than believe in evolution.

Referring to the implications of the finding as a “cultural trait that sets [the United States] apart from much of the developed world,” Reuters describes the results from the 2,455 adults surveyed in November:

  • 82% believe in God
  • 79% believe in miracles
  • 75% believe in heaven
  • 72% believe that Jesus is “God or the Son of God”
  • 62% believe in hell and the devil
  • 42% believe in “Darwin’s theory,” as Reuters calls it

Except for Darwin’s theory, belief in each was more common among those described as born-again Christians compared to those described as Catholics and Protestants.1 The converse was true with Darwin’s theory, with only “16 percent of born-again Christians, compared to 43 percent of Catholics and 30 percent of Protestants,” accepting Darwinian evolution as an explanation for the diversity of life.

None of this is particularly surprising, of course; the United States is known (and increasingly “notorious”) for being a “Christian” nation (though belief in heaven, miracles, God, and hell and the devil are not exclusive to Christians). The interesting question is whether a worldwide poll of the same groups (self-described Protestants, Catholics, and “born-again” Christians) would show a similar propensity to believe in what the Bible describes (God, supernatural creation, miracles, etc.) and reject Darwinian theory, or if the trend was at least international among any particular group. Our guess is that while general religiosity may be an American trait, belief in what the Bible teaches (including about origins) is true of born-again believers worldwide.

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know 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!


  1. Reuters describes the term “born-again Christian” as “usually refer[ring] to evangelical Protestants who place great emphasis on the conversion experience.”


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