News to Note, March 16, 2013

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on March 16, 2013
Featured in News to Know

Drilling on Mars Arctic camel Home science done right “Talk is cheep” Arkansas v. abortion

1. Curiosity Rover Finally Scratches the Surface

The Mars rover Curiosity made history on February 8 by drilling 2 ½ inches into the Martian surface—deeper than any robot there has previously drilled—and this week NASA announced the results of the analysis of the material it dug up. The arm-mounted hammering drill obtained about a tablespoon of gray powdered rock from the John Klein outcrop. NASA officials announced at a press conference Tuesday that the powder “shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes.” Michael Meyer, who leads the Mars Exploration Program, says, “A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment. From what we know now, the answer is yes.”

2. Humps May Have Been Key to Ancient Camel’s Arctic Survival

The discovery of a camel fossil in the high Arctic is changing evolutionary ideas about the camel’s geographic origins. Ellesmere Island, in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago west of northern Greenland, yielded up some fragmentary pieces of fossilized bone in 2006. Researchers announced this week that the fragments from mid-Pliocene sediments belonged to a giant camel.

3. The Atlantic: Homeschooling Families Are Embracing Evolution

The Atlantic claims more and more homeschooling families embrace evolution and need books to teach it.

The Atlantic last week featured an article claiming that “a growing number” of Christian homeschooling families are suffering from “inevitable criticism” of their acceptance of evolution and a dearth of textbooks to help them teach it. Offering only anecdotal comments from three Christian homeschool moms who teach their children to accept the claims of conventional evolutionary science, author David Wheeler provides no data or documentation to support his claim.

4. MIT Linguist Claims Human Speech Evolved from Birds

What do honeybee waggles and birdsong have to do with human speech? MIT linguist Shigeru Miyagawa believes they demonstrate that human speech evolved the way Darwin thought it did. Darwin, in the Descent of Man, wrote, “The sound uttered by birds offer in several respects the nearest analogy to language,” adding human language begun as singing “might have given rise to words expressive of various complex emotions.”

5. Arkansas Snatches Victory for Life from Roe v. Wade

Arkansas boldly steps out to snatch a victory for life from the jaws of Roe v. Wade.

Last week Arkansas passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country, overriding the governor’s veto. The Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act takes the exact language of the Roe v. Wade decision and uses it to protect fetuses after the first trimester.

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • The History Channel miniseries The Bible continued last Sunday with its second installment, taking viewers through several historical high points in the conquest of Jericho and the lives of Samson, Samuel, Saul, and David. Though it omits the parting of the Jordan River, it does include Joshua’s meeting with “the captain of the host of the Lord” in Joshua 5:14. The series continues to emphasize biblical historicity—treating miracles as authentic, dropping in biblical details many Christians may have never noticed, and showing the strengths and failures of God’s people—but the narration leaves theology and doctrine unexplained. Therefore, one Lutheran reviewer commented, “Fire the narrator!”1 This lack limits the program’s potential to spread the gospel message on its own; in a future review we will see how this docu-drama treats the message of the four gospels. And as previously discussed,2 this trend does continue throughout the series. Of course, the docudrama is not intended to substitute for Scripture and will hopefully interest viewers in reading God’s written Word where they will learn the truth to set them free from the penalty and power of sin. While the series does a reasonable job of showing the chronological history of the Bible leading to Christ, it fails—after the initial mention of the origin of evil after the Fall—to make clear just why Christ came. (AiG was allowed to preview all ten hours of the series, and so we have already seen the still-to-be-aired segments on Christ.) We hear Joshua declare that God is truly the Savior of the world, but the nature of that salvation is unclear. While we see lots of violence as God’s people fight off the enemies that would destroy them, without knowing why God had singled out the Israelites for the preservation of His Law and the earthly lineage of the world’s Savior, their struggles seem like nothing special. Even those details that prefigure the coming of Christ—the Passover and a substitute sacrifice for Isaac in the last episode, Rahab’s scarlet cord (Joshua 2:18), and the promise to David that his descendant would rule forever in this one—are depicted without comment, just as the need for repentance and faith in God’s forgiving grace are not explained. David is clearly sorry about the immediate consequence of his sin, but the biblical David recorded his genuine repentance, as we see in 2 Samuel 12:13 and Psalm 51. In addition, the wonderful details of Rahab’s saving faith are glossed over as we only see her fearful for her safety. Though the character playing Rahab declares, as the biblical Rahab did (Joshua 2:10–16), that the people of Jericho had heard of God’s great power in the parting of the Red Sea, the real Rahab responded to God’s demonstration of power by developing faith in God and ended up, though originally a Canaanite prostitute, as an ancestor of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5). As Christians interested in the salvation of our friends, we need to prepare and pray for opportunities to explain these missing elements of sin, repentance, faith, and God’s saving grace.
  • The Ark Encounter, a project to build a full-size, evangelistic Noah’s Ark in northern Kentucky, was prominently featured in local papers this week. While fund-raising continues, planning and design move ahead at full steam, and hopefully necessary licenses will be attained by year-end along with additional revenue. Be sure to read the interview with project manager Mike Zovath and check out the short video.
  • Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio will henceforth be called Pope Francis I. Elected on Wednesday, he is the first pope from the Americas. He is known for a strong interest in the downtrodden, opposition to abortion, and opposes same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex couples. He says, “Let’s not be naïve: this isn’t a simple political fight, it’s an attempt to destroy God’s plan.”3 He maintains that “At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God.”4 What will the new pope’s position be on the historicity of Genesis? We do not yet know, and a cursory check this week on his possible views on the creation/evolution question did not reveal his views. (Though with a college degree in chemistry plus teaching experience as a chemistry instructor in a high school, this Pope’s interest in science might yield a past public comment on evolution and could be compared with those uttered by any previous pro-evolution popes.5) And while the Word of God has absolute authority over the opinions of any man, a pope’s opinions carry weight with many people. If he wishes to preserve a firm foundation for his opposition to the abortion of children made in the image of God and unbiblical “gay” marriages, then he can find that foundation in the first few chapters of Genesis. For more information about other traditional papal positions see News to Note, February 16, 2013. Complete reliance on the authority of God’s Word from the very first verse would settle humanity’s most vital theological issues, not only about our origins, but also about our eternal destiny and the provision God made available to each of us (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9) with Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.

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  2. News to Note, March 9, 2013 and The Bible on the History Channel: A Review
  5. For example, Pope John Paul II’s belief in theistic evolution. See: “Pope’s message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences,” 22 October 1996. English translation from the French original provided by the Catholic News Service, cited in Watchmaker 3, no. 6 (1996):3–6.


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