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News to Note, February 4, 2012

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on February 4, 2012
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Really most sincerely dead Origins smorgasbord Dinosaur freeway Darwin’s “beautiful contrivances” Mutational secrets of a virus

1. Really Most Sincerely Dead

Killing weeds, killing people—what’s the difference?

2. Origins Smorgasbord

Indiana Senate passes amended school bill.

3. Dinosaur Freeway

Is the Dinosaur Freeway a record of migration “to find new forage” or a panicky attempt to evacuate?

4. Orchid Beauty

Orchid beauty—“an unplanned marvel of evolution”

5. Mutational Secrets of a Virus

Series of mutations said to evolve a “key innovation”1

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Human embryonic stem cells (hESC), based on a preliminary report, may have been used successfully to treat retinal disease in two patients. Reporting in The Lancet, researchers from Advanced Cell Technology announced on January 23 that retinal cells were stimulated to grow from hESC and then injected into two legally blind adult patients with two kinds of macular disease. The patients have had some measurable improvement in visual acuity. After four months, the retinal cells appear to have attached and survived. So far, none of the many tumor-related complications associated with hESC have been manifested, but stem cell experts point out a much longer period of observation is needed. The researchers are hopeful the use of hESC in eye disease will avoid the tumors because the immune system is minimally active within the eye. Boston stem cell transplantation expert George Daley comments, “This is a milestone that will offer tremendous encouragement to the field, and promises hope for many families, but these are still very early days of an uncontrolled and unblinded trial, and we have much more to learn about the safety and effectiveness of this new treatment before we can claim success.” Even if the treatment is deemed a success, we must point out that the harvesting of human embryonic stem cells destroys human life. Many clinical successes have been achieved using adult stem cells without the problems of rejection and tumor development. And in another report this week, Shinya Yamanaka announced his clinical trials using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) should begin within a year. Trials will also likely begin with the eye. Yamanaka points to the highly versatile nature of iPSC and the lack of ethical problems with their use.

  • Mathematician Thomas Hair has presented a study demonstrating, he says, that aliens are ignoring Earth. He bases his calculations on his own “conservative estimates for how long it would take a society to muster up the resources and technological know-how to leave its home world and travel to another star.” He reasons Earth is 5 billion years old and has technology like NASA’s Kepler planet-hunter, so planets twice that age surely have fantastic technology and know we’re here. He thinks the reason we’re being ignored is not so much cosmic snobbery as cosmic diversity. He says, “Any ancient civilization is probably not biological. They don’t need a place like Earth. They don’t need to come here and steal our water. There’s plenty of it out in the outer solar system where the gravity is not so great and they can just take all they want.” Hair’s presuppositions of course are purely evolutionary. The long age of the universe and the belief in molecules-to-man evolution are the basis for all his conclusions. The Bible does not say that God didn’t create extraterrestrial life. However, evolutionary presuppositions are the only reason to assume aliens exist. And what if “alien” life were intelligent? The whole creation groans with corruption (Romans 8:21–22) under the Curse of man’s sin. God’s Son Jesus Christ came to Earth as a human being, the “last Adam,” (1 Corinthians 15:45–47) to die for all human beings who, like their real common ancestor—the first Adam—are sinners. Thus the theological position of extraterrestrial intelligent life would cast aspersions on God’s character, as such beings would be reaping the guilty whirlwind of man’s sin without access to the grace of Christ. See also Kepler’s Mission: To Boldly Seek Out Where Life Could Have Evolved, Don’t Alienate the Aliens, Did God’s Plan Include Life On Other Planets?, and Ken Ham’s blog: “I’d love to baptise an alien.”

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Footnotes

  1. www.sciencemag.org/content/335/6067/428

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