News to Note, January 21, 2012

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on January 21, 2012

Green dragon’s new advocate “Tatooines” and three little planets Yeast begat yeast Alphabet soup Just endosymbiosis

1. Eugenie Scott Focuses on Climate

Eugenie Scott offers her services to squelch even more academic freedom.

2. Tatooine On Repeat

Kepler: boldly seeking where life could have evolved

3. Yeast Begat Yeast

“Evolution in progress” said to show how easily multicellularity evolved

4. TNA Stirs Alphabet Soup, Returns Empty

TNA-world still doesn’t spell anything.

5. Just Endosymbiosis

This ciliate gets the most from its veggies.

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Peter Enns’s new book, The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins, according to the publisher, “offers a way forward” from the “faith-shaking tension” caused by the apparent incompatibility of evolution with the Bible. Enns assures the reader “this tension is caused not by the discoveries of science but by false expectations about the biblical texts.” As Ken Ham explained in his book review The Enns Justifies the Means? Enns denies the infallibility of God’s Word. For instance, Enns asserts that Paul was just “an ancient man with ancient ideas” whose numerous references to Adam do not support the historicity of Adam. (He also discounts Paul’s explanation of the origin of sin and death.) Enns—a Harvard-trained theologian—seems unable to figure out that the accounts of creation in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are not in conflict but simply provide an overview of Creation Week followed by an expanded discussion of several aspects of the creation. (Enns also ignores the fact that Jesus referred to material from each of those chapters.) Enns claims Genesis is “ambiguous and inconsistent” because he can’t sort out basic questions like “where Cain got his wife,” questions whose answers are obvious from the self-explanatory nature of the text. In fact, he writes a lot about the importance of the cultural context of these Scriptures but can’t seem to locate the answers to these basic questions within the obvious textual context—for example, the answer to where Cain got the wife mentioned in Genesis 4:17 is found in Genesis 5:4! (For more on this question, see Cain’s Wife—Who Was She?) Enns even thinks such questions embarrass children’s Sunday school teachers, and they probably do embarrass the poorly prepared ones! That is one reason Answers in Genesis exists: to equip Christians to share the answers God gives us in His Word. But Enns does not accept the Bible as the reliable source for life’s important answers. Enns even says we should leave behind “Paul’s understanding of the cause of the universal plight of sin and death” while we shoulder that “burden” ourselves trying to “bring evolution and Christianity together.” This author also produces a Bible curriculum marketed to home school families and claims he “respects and honors the authority of the Bible” while exalting the fallible words of man over the infallible Word of God. In fact, trying to reconcile the contradictory fallible words of man with the Word of God is the real source of the “faith-shaking tension” to which Enns’s publisher refers. Studying the Bible with the proper attitude, however, builds up faith. Romans 10:17 even says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The Bible praises the people of Berea who “searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11) to find out what was really true. Read Ken Ham’s review of Enns book at The Enns Justifies the Means? and also a look at what the Bible really says about Adam and Eve at “The Search for the Historical Adam” and Population Genomics.
  • Biomimicry normally involves copying God’s biological designs, but a new way to make stronger stretchier silk goes right to the source. Scientists are learning to genetically engineer silkworms by giving silkworms the best genes spiders have to offer while leaving spiders’ more disagreeable characteristics behind. All spider species make silk, and most make several kinds with various properties. Spider silk is stronger than steel and more elastic than silkworm silk. Imitating the way spiders make silk has not been successful because the fibers harden before they can be spun into thread. It is possible to harvest spider silk from spiders—a fabric made from the silk of over a million spiders can be seen in Madagascar—but as spiders are often territorial and cannibalistic, spider husbandry is impractical. Many of the genes that code for spider silk have been identified. Genes can be inserted into DNA coding for goat’s milk, but then the manufacturer must spin the silk. Molecular biologists associated with textile manufacturer Kraig Biocraft have recently inserted spider silk genes along with a fluorescent green tag into the genomes of silkworm eggs. With the green glowing worms producing only 2–4% of their silk fibers from spider genes, the resulting silk is already much stronger and more elastic than plain silkworm silk. Plans are to continue the re-engineering process until the majority of the silk spun by the silkworms is spider silk. The exceptionally strong elastic fibers should find uses as “artificial limbs, tendons, parachutes, and landing lines on aircraft carriers . . .where we need elasticity and strength.”
  • The U.K.’s Department of Education has fulfilled its pledge to withdraw funding from schools teaching “evidence-based views or theories” that run “contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations.” Richard Dawkins and David Attenborough—both of whom place their faith in the untestable tenets of evolutionary thinking—are claiming the department’s policy is a “victory over the creationist movement.” Dawkins fears schools may sneak past the regulations. “It is clear that some faith schools are ignoring the regulations and are continuing to teach myth as though it were science,” he says. “Evolution is fact, supported by evidence from a host of scientific disciplines, and we do a great disservice to our young people if we fail to teach it properly.” Dawkins and the British Humanist Association—like the National Center for Science Education in the United States mentioned above—seem to fear allowing children to learn that true scientific inquiry includes learning to discern between observational scientific evidence and biased interpretations. Answers in Genesis has never suggested teachers of any persuasion be forced to teach creationism but rather has always maintained students and teachers should have academic freedom to critically examine scientific facts and the worldviews by which they are interpreted. See also Priesthood of Science, Doonebury Comic Drips With Twisted Information, Reexamining Teaching Creationism in Schools.

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.