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News to Note, October 2, 2010

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

on October 2, 2010
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Human hobbits, religion ignorance among religious, dating HBV, funding for E.T., walking whales, and more in this week’s News to Note.

1. "Hobbits" Reconfirmed as Human

This week:

  1. Say it ain’t so, Frodo
  2. Religion ignorance among . . . religious
  3. How old is HBV?
  4. Funding for E.T.
  5. Walking whales
  6. And Don’t Miss . . .

Did you miss it? Catch last week’s News to Note or any other!

Note: Over the course of four weeks, we are having guest columnists contribute to News to Note. Keep checking back to read different takes on the latest news—but always from a biblical worldview.

The University of Western Australia's Emeritus Professor Charles Oxnard and colleagues have reconfirmed that the “Hobbits” were human after all.

2. Lack of Knowledge of Church History and Other Faiths

A new survey, released this week by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that, although 86% of Americans believe in God or a higher power, they don’t know much about church history or other faiths.

3. "Old" Virus Fragments from Same Family as Hepatitis B Virus

Researchers at University of Texas–Arlington have found “old” virus fragments from the same family as modern Hepatitis B virus in the genomes of modern songbirds.

4. The Guardian: “Pope's astronomer says he would baptise an alien if it asked him

The Vatican’s astronomer would love to “baptize an alien.”

And Dr. Guy Consolmagno also mentioned, at a recent festival in the U.K., that “intelligent aliens may be living among the heavens and most likely are to have souls.” This could imply a new stance by the Catholic Church, which has never before postulated that aliens may need salvation.

Correspondingly, even with all the billions of dollars wasted on SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and NASA’s pork barrel projects looking for life on other planets (although we applaud many things in space exploration, which allows us to discover more about the magnificent handiwork of our Creator), E.T. has yet to phone home! As to the Vatican’s spokesman talking about “baptizing” an alien, we have to wonder why? Scripture makes it clear that humanity needs a Savior because Adam (an earthly human) sinned and brought death and disease to this world (and all of creation); and only another man, a perfect man—Jesus Christ—can restore us to God (Romans 5:10–19, 1 Corinthians 15: 20–26). Baptizing an alien, therefore (if they existed) would be pointless, because Jesus came to earth to save the sin-cursed progeny of Adam.

5. Howstuffworks: “How Whales Work (and used to walk)

It's not clear what these proto-whales were supposedly like, but some paleontologists believe they may have been anything ranging from hippo-like, hoofed mammals to something more like modern wolves.

Evolutionists believe that, over millions of years, these proto-whale creatures began to spend more time in the water, “like modern sea lions or otters.” Then, eventually, the creatures left land altogether, slowly losing their legs and fur to disuse.

But, as this article states: “why would a land mammal, specifically adapted for life on solid ground, evolve into a sea creature, spending much of its time away from air and sunlight?” Paleontologists speculate that the whale's ancestors simply “went where the food was. The ocean is filled with a wide variety of fish and crustaceans, while food along the coast can be scarce.”

But these “transitional ancestors” between land mammals and whales have not been very forthcoming. Every candidate has serious problems, and several vitally important transitions that would have needed to take place have been misrepresented or virtually ignored. These would include: tail to fluke transition, spinal modification to allow for increased muscle attachments for a fluke vs. a tail, leg-to-flipper-to-fin transition (most of which has been shown to be reproductive attachments, not real walking limbs in the fossils), and pelvic girdle modification. In other words, a whale is still a whale—and has been since God created the sea creatures on Day 5 (Genesis 1:20–23).

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • A new iPhone app will tell how long it’s been since you and your dog (or cat) last shared a common ancestor. “The app works by linking to the website timetree.org, an online database of scientific studies using ‘molecular clocks’. . . to find how long it’s been since the two species last made their evolutionary split.” We’ve already discussed the numerous assumptions in the “molecular clock” model, but the real issue here is: are we ultimately any different from our pets? The Bible says man is unique and created in the image of God.
  • US scientists find potentially habitable planet near Earth. It’s been nicknamed the “Goldilocks planet,” because it’s “just right” for life. The planet is in the “habitable zone” of the red dwarf star Gliese 581, so it could have surface water. Secular astronomers believe that liquid water and an atmosphere are the key ingredients for a planet to possibly sustain life. What do we believe about extraterrestrial life? See Key Ingredients for Life.
  • Genes That Make Us Human: evolutionary biologists believe that “the gradual increase from the few thousand genes in a bacterium to the tens of thousands of genes in a person came primarily through genome- and gene-duplication events.” Although the researchers analyzed only a portion of the human genome, they think, by extrapolation, that humans have evolved at least 18 new genes. See what the Bible has to say on human evolution.
  • European Neanderthals may have met their doom in a catastrophic volcanic eruption over 40,000 years ago. A new study says that a cataclysmic explosion created a “volcanic winter” that decimated their population. Volcanic dust deposits, found in a cave in the Caucasus, seem to indicate that such an ecological disaster was responsible. Of course, just last year it was the theory of being outcompeted for resources by Homo sapiens that doomed the Neanderthals, but such is the case in anthropology. Read here to see what really happened to the Neanderthals?

For more information: Get Answers


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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