News to Note, February 2, 2008

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

on February 2, 2008
Featured in News to Know

A fast-forming gorge, an apology for a century of racism, a single recent ancestor behind blue eyes, and more!

1. Death Valley Stream Shows Range of Geological Changes

Amid the otherworldly Death Valley of California, geologists are seeing a 1941 stream diversion carve out the land before their very eyes.

2. AP: “Australia to Apologize to Aborigines”

Australia will formally apologize next month to the Aborigine people for mistreatment during the last century, reports the Associated Press.

Government officials hope the apology will lead to better relations between Aborigines (the indigenous people of Australia) and other Australians. The apology is specifically for and to the “stolen generation” of Aborigines: some 100,000 mostly mixed-blood Aborigine children who were “taken from their parents under state and federal laws based on a premise that Aborigines were a doomed race and saving the children was a humane alternative.”

Aborigines are, as a group of a half-million, more poor and more likely to be jailed, unemployed, or illiterate than other Australians; the life expectancy for Aborigines is also 17 years behind that of non-indigenous Australians.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin clarified, however, “The apology will be made on behalf of the Australian government and does not attribute guilt to the current generation of Australian people.”

Regardless of the once-perceived humanity of the program that created the “stolen generation,” any policy based on the notion of “race” is almost certainly doomed to failure because the concept of “race,” itself, is in error. The idea of separate, isolated human races is a denial of reality: that we are all one race—of “one blood,” as the Bible says in Acts 17:26. All of us, whatever our superficial coloring, trace our heritage back through Noah’s sons and even further back through Noah to Adam. Therefore we all inherited Adam’s sin—that’s the bad news—but we are also all equally eligible for (though equally undeserving of) the blood of Christ that washes away our sin (and that’s the good news).

3. LiveScience: “One Common Ancestor Behind Blue Eyes”

A single human is behind everyone with blue eyes today, reports LiveScience on recent research. We could have told them that!

The research team discovered a genetic mutation that, between six and ten thousand years ago, effectively created blue eyes. The mutation affected the OCA2 gene, which helps coordinate melanin production. Melanin gives our skin, hair, and eyes their coloring.

The mutation adjacent to the OCA2 gene, however, flipped a genetic “switch” that disabled the ability to create brown eyes. That’s according to the University of Copenhagen’s Hans Eiberg. The mutation limits the action of the OCA2 gene, limiting melanin production in the iris and “dilut[ing] brown eyes to blue.” A completely disabled OCA2 gene would result in albinism.

Also interesting is that brown-eyed individuals have substantially more variation in their melanin-coordinating DNA than blue-eyed individuals. This reduced variation indicated to the researchers that one ancestor was responsible for the blue-eyes mutation; all blue-eyed ancestors, then, are linked back to that ancestor.

Obviously, the mutation must have happened after the Curse (if it is a mutation; see below). It’s also likely it happened after the Flood in one of Noah’s descendants (though it could have happened before and survived through someone on the Ark) and was then disseminated throughout Europe, the Middle East, and India (the last two areas have a lower proportion of blue eyes). The broader variation in brown-eyed individuals would be from Noah’s three sons and their wives. So, what is the evolutionist explanation for “having nobody on Earth with blue eyes 10,000 years ago to having 20 or 40 percent of Europeans having blue eyes now” not to mention significant percentages of blue-eyed people worldwide? Researcher John Hawks suggests: “This gene does something good for people. It makes them have more kids.” Apparently pretty mobile kids at that!

Though some lean toward blue eyes as being a mutation, we don’t want to overlook the possibility that this is part of created genetic diversity that could have existed right from the start with Adam and Eve and survives today.

4. Comet with Asteroid Build Discovered by NASA

At least one comet isn’t quite what astronomers expected, based on the results of NASA’s Stardust mission.

5. New Scientist: “Ancient bones suggest cavemen wore boots”

A New Scientist article briefly covered on the magazine’s website tells us of another invention of our clever forebears: footwear.

Toe bones from a cave in China were analyzed by two scientists from St. Louis’s Washington University, who determined that the person the toes belonged to wore shoes. Footwear affects the way a human walks, altering the toe bones.

The duo compared the cave skeleton’s toe bones to those of modern Americans, “late-prehistoric” Inuits (who wore shoes), and other late-prehistoric Native Americans (who went barefoot). The cave skeleton’s toes most resembled Inuits’, indicating he wore some sort of shoes regularly.

The skeleton’s reported age is 40,000 years, though no explanation is given for that determination. Whatever era he’s from, ancient shoe-wearing is a reminder that our ancestors were not troglodytic dolts (not on the whole, anyway), but rather intelligent humans made in the image of God.

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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!

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