News to Note, September 13, 2008

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

Featured in News to Know

The end of the world as we know it, playing God, introverts of the animal kingdom, and more!

1. BBC News: “‘Big Bang’ Experiment Starts Well”

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, was switched on for the first time this week amid reports it will either re-create the big bang or create world-devouring black holes. So which is it?

Thankfully for residents of earth, rumors of dangerous black holes have been strongly dismissed by physicists, although lawsuits against the LHC are pending in the European Court of Human Rights and in the U.S. state of Hawaii. Meanwhile, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), parent to the LHC, is eager to begin the full-energy proton–proton collisions the LHC was built for following fine-tuning over the next several months.

The idea behind the 17-mile-long (27 km) circular LHC is to fire two proton beams at one another. Over one thousand magnets in the structure cooperate to accelerate the beams to very, very close to the speed of light; then, at predetermined locations, the beams intersect and individual protons collide. Specialized detectors near these locations will look for interesting subatomic physics, including searching for the much-ballyhooed Higgs boson. That elusive particle, theorized but never observed, will—if detected—explain to physicists “why matter has mass.”

But will such experiments prove the big bang and undo creationist cosmologies? Only in the minds of those who already believe in the big bang! For a closer look at the operation, experiments, rumored dangers, and possible conclusions of the LHC, see this week’s article A Miniature Big Bang or More Hot Air?

2. Biologists Attempt to Create New Forms of Life

They may not resemble Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, but will the creations of molecular biologist Jack Szostak escape the lab and run wild—or just in the minds of evolutionists?

3. Video Game Allows Users to "Play God" With Evolution

It’s a video game that gives you your very own universe and lets you “play god”—so what’s the story of this latest venue for evolution?

4. BBC News: “Ancient Trees Recorded in Mines”

An ancient “fossil forest” has been discovered in American coal mines, reports BBC News. Could these trees have been from the time of Noah?

One such forest was identified last year, but since then, five more examples have been found in mine ceilings in the U.S. state of Illinois. According to Howard Falcon-Lang, a British researcher who helped identify the find, they are the “largest fossil forests found anywhere in the world at any point in geological time.”

According to Falcon-Lang and other researchers, the forests (which are “stacked one on top of another”) grew within a few million years of each other, all around 300 million years ago.

Falcon-Lang also lauds how “perfectly preserved” many of the specimens were. According to the BBC report, “It appears the ancient land experienced repeated periods of subsidence and flooding which buried the forests in a vertical sequence.”

Or could it have been that rather than successive floods burying forests separated by millions of years, successive waves of water flow carrying tree stumps and forest debris formed the coal beds with upright stumps due to the heavier root ends sinking vertically down, all buried catastrophically (accounting for the excellent preservation) by the work of a single, havoc-wreaking global Flood and its aftermath?

For more information:

5. Rapid Erosion of Grand Canyon Sandbars Discovered

The place is the Grand Canyon, and the story is an indisputable case of rapid erosion caused by massive amounts of water.

6. Engineers Try to Emulate Sticky Gecko Feet

Hours of research continue to be spent investigating—and trying to emulate—the incredible “sticky” gecko foot, one of God’s most crafty creations.

7. Images of the Mysterious Okapi Finally Captured on Film

It may be neither a unicorn nor a dinosaur, but the African okapi, which appears to be a strange combination of giraffe and zebra, was nonetheless long rumored to be a “mythical animal.”

8. AP: “Matt Damon Fears a Palin Administration”

Creationists, be on the lookout: a Hollywood actor is the latest to pile ridicule on young-earth ideas.

Outspoken American movie star Matt Damon weighed in on the U.S. presidential election—and young-earth creationism—in a headline-making interview this week. In addition to criticizing Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin for other reasons, Damon directly attacked her possibly young-earth views:

“I need to know if she really thinks that dinosaurs were really here 4,000 years ago. I want to know that. Because she’s going to have the nuclear codes. I want to know that and I want to know if she tried to ban books. We can’t have that.”

Damon’s views, of course, sadly reflect those of many Americans: both in the idea that creationists are too stupid or insane to be trusted with real decision-making, and in the (very mistaken, unfounded) idea that creationists want to ban books. Perhaps it doesn’t matter to Damon that many of the great scientists of the past were ardent biblical creationists. And it’s certainly clear that he’s not familiar with our stance on teaching evolution in schools, since we are certainly not in favor of banning books.

For more on Sarah Palin and her possible creation views, take a look at Is She Really a Creationist? To read about whether dinosaurs may have walked the earth 4,000 years ago (or more recently), see What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know 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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