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News to Note, October 1, 2011

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on October 1, 2011
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The Anointed irony, cosmic speed limit, cosmic culprit Ancient antimicrobials down under, tall tales, tall crystals

1. Evangelicals Prefer Scientific Information From Ken Ham Over Others

A case of the pot calling the kettle black

2. Neutrinos Break Light-Speed Limit

Is the neutrino guilty of breaking the cosmic speed limit?

3. Asteroid No Longer Dinosaur-killing Culprit

Asteroid cleared of charges, but search continues for another cosmic culprit.

4. Ancient Protein a Potent Antimicrobial

Answers for antibiotic resistance sought in “ancient” Australian antimicrobials.

5. Crystal Rate of Growth Debated

Tall tales about tall crystals

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • The dark side of evolutionary anthropology came to light this week as a group of skulls were returned to Namibia. The skulls were harvested in 1904 during colonial uprisings and sent to Germany. While this massacre of the colonial natives represents one of the first genocides of the 20th century, these skulls were sent to Germany to gain scientific support for European racial superiority. “At the time, they viewed the skulls not as human remains but as material with which to investigate and classify race,” explained a spokeswoman for the Charité Hospital where the skulls were returned to the Namibian delegation. While racism has been a part of the sin-cursed nature of humanity for millennia, the ideas popularized in Darwin’s 1859 book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life have been used to justify such horrors as the one memorialized here. Read more about in One Race One Blood, which explains, “Although racism did not begin with Darwinism, Darwin did more than any person to popularize it.”
  • A group of prominent scientists in the U.K. is pushing the government there to restrict academic freedom in schools and to make the teaching of evolution compulsory. They deem it “unacceptable” to teach either creationism or intelligent design “whether it happens in science lessons or not.” They say, “There should be enforceable statutory guidance that [creationism and intelligent design] may not be presented as scientific theories in any publicly funded school.” Meanwhile, the U.K.’s Department of Education is considering plans to make the teaching of evolution compulsory. The Department has said, “Teaching creationism as scientific fact is wrong. [The education secretary] will not accept any academy or free school proposal which plans to teach creationism in the science curriculum or as an alternative to accepted scientific theories. . . . Academies and free schools must have a broad and balanced curriculum. . . . We expect to see evolution and its foundation topics fully included in any science curriculum.” Thus the proposed laws may ultimately affect not only publicly funded institutions but all schools in the U.K. Outspoken evolutionist Richard Dawkins, who advocates teaching evolution from the age of five, says, “We need to stop calling evolution a theory. In the ordinary language sense of the word it is a fact. It is as solidly demonstrated as any fact in science.” While Answers in Genesis has never suggested that creationism should be required teaching in government schools, we maintain that teachers and students should have the academic freedom to critically evaluate the claims made by evolutionary scientists. But evolutionary scientists like Dawkins seem to fear the discernment of children who, like the child in the fable about the emperor’s new clothes, may be able to see the evolutionary fairy tale’s problems when fairly presented with the facts.
  • Why do identical twins not uniformly manifest heritable diseases? For example, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have a large inheritable component, but identical twin pairs do not uniformly inherit these diseases. A study published in Human Molecular Genetics lends credence to the suspicion that there is more to inheritance than just genes. Epigenetic changes—chemical alterations in the nucleotides comprising the genes—are “heritable, but reversible, changes in gene expression without a change in the underlying DNA sequence.” Epigenetic changes act largely by switching certain genes on and off. Examining the genomes of twin pairs in which only one manifested psychosis, Dr. Jonathan Mill’s team found many epigenetic differences at specific sites, some previously implicated in psychiatric disease and some previously unknown. Dr. Mill says, “Our findings suggest that it is not only genetic variations that are important. The epigenetic differences we see may tell us more about the causes or schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as some alterations were specific to either disease. Importantly, epigenetic processes are potentially reversible meaning that our research could open up new avenues for the development of novel therapeutic drugs.” As we mentioned last week,1 epigenetic changes could never supply information for evolution to occur, but they do offer a way to explain some phenotypic variations, both good and bad. Hopefully this information will provide a clue for more effective treatment for these tragically devastating diseases.

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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 last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!

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Footnotes

  1. News to Note, September 24, 2011

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