News to Note, January 28, 2012

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

Dino babies Basic black Believing in evolution Right hand of evolution Cousin fly

1. Dino Babies

“The sound of little prehistoric feet tells the story” but not necessarily the story some think!

2. Classic Black

Classic black never goes out of style.

3. Believing in Evolution

Blogger displays his lack of understanding of creation science.

4. The “Right Hand” of Evolution

“Potentially prebiotic conditions” permit production of right-handed carbs.

5. Cousin Fly

Hox gene researchers sniff at a common ancestor.

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Indiana’s Senate Education Committee has voted 8–2 this week in favor of a bill allowing public schools to teach “various theories concerning the origin of life” including “creation science.” Now the bill will move to the full Senate for consideration. Indiana is one of several states currently considering such bills. Louisiana’s Science Education Act,1 passed in 2008, led the way by allowing public school officials to promote “critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including . . . evolution, origins of life, global warming,2 and human cloning” without endorsing any religion. Tennessee3 passed a similar law in 2011. As in the other states, if passed the Indiana bill would not require the state’s schools to teach creationism. Instead, the law would allow “the governing body of a school corporation” the option of requiring its teachers to present “various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science.” ACLU lawyer Ken Falk points to the 1987 Supreme Court case of Edwards v. Aguillard that prohibited teaching creationism in order “to advance the religious viewpoint that a supernatural being created humankind,”4 but even religion may be taught in public school if it serves “a secular educational purpose.” Indiana’s Senate Educational Committee, like the legislature in Louisiana, apparently considers the teaching of critical thinking skills to be an important secular purpose. Although Indiana’s Star Press opinion considers “much empirical scientific evidence to support evolution, and some pretty good philosophical arguments to support creationism,” the paper adds, “It’s unfortunate, though, that the latter has to be tagged as a science.” As we have discussed elsewhere, origins science—because it involves interpretations outside the realm of observable science—always involves faith, even if it is an evolutionist’s faith that no deity was involved. The Indiana newspaper’s position supports the academic freedom being proposed by the Senate committee, saying, “We think a thorough education exposes student to different theories, and if schools have done a good job of developing a student's critical thinking skills, there is no harm done. Presenting theories in an educational setting is not an endorsement of religion, but an acknowledgment there are other ways of looking at an issue.” Indeed, Answers in Genesis has likewise never suggested public school teachers should be required to teach creation science5 but rather maintains teachers should have the academic freedom to help students develop critical thinking skills by openly discussing various scientific positions on origins without fearing to criticize evolution or fearing to mention creationism.
  • A Russian scientist involved in Russia’s unmanned missions to Venus in the 1970s and 1980s has reportedly suggested photos from 1982’s Venera-13 probe showed evidence of life on our hot, waterless neighbor. Several objects shaped like “a disk,” “a black flap,” and “a scorpion” seemed to change locations from one photo to the next. These speculations, publicized by the Russian News Service RIA Novosti, were based on a translation of his Solar System Research article. Follow-up reports from technicians and photography experts have explained the images. The mystery debris includes lens caps designed to pop off the cameras after landing and “a piece of the lander designed to break off during the deployment of one of the scientific instruments.” Another is a blur seen on low-resolution versions of the photos but absent “[i]n the original data.” The sensational reports announcing life on Venus could have been a mistranslation, notes, and it is unclear whether the elderly scientist really thought the photographs showed life-forms or just overlooked artifacts. (See last week’s article Kepler’s Mission: To Boldly Seek Out Where Life Could Have Evolved for more about alien life.)

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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 all the latest News to Know, why not take a look to see what you’ve missed?

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