News to Note, September 19, 2009

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

on September 19, 2009
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A snake with a leg, tree-climbing Velociraptors, Richard Dawkins and the straw-god, and more!

1. The Snake Can Walk?

A snake with a leg—is it evidence of evolution, creation, both, or neither?

The Telegraph reports this week on a strange sighting in Suining, China: a snake, 16 inches (41 cm) long, that has a leg (complete with claws).

2. Tree-Climbing Velociraptors

Velociraptor: the fearsome carnivore and . . . tree climber?

According to a group of researchers led by Phil Manning of the University of Manchester, popular images of Velociraptor using its menacing claws to disembowel its prey may be off the mark.

3. Resisting a Myth

Microbial resistance to antibiotics is one of the most commonly claimed evidences for evolution. So will the new “clue” to its workings be evidence for evolution as well?

4. Tomb of Jesus’ Brother?

Seven years after its discovery, the James ossuary is still stirring up controversy and debate.

5. Richard Dawkins and the Straw-god

Ask the wrong question; get the wrong answers.

The Wall Street Journal asked both Karen Armstrong, a former nun and author of The Case for God, and Richard Dawkins, famous anti-theist, to answer the question “Where does evolution leave God?” (a loaded question full of fallacies in its own right). The catch is that neither could see what the other was writing.

6. And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Back in February we reported on newly discovered exoplanet CoRoT-7b (a.k.a. CoRoT-Exo-7b), located 425 light-years from Earth. Astronomers have now determined that the planet is probably rocky, like Earth and unlike the gaseous exoplanets discovered thus far. Still, the planet’s orbit is 23 times closer to its host star than Mercury’s is to our own sun—meaning temperatures too hot for evolutionary hopes of life. Nonetheless, the Daily Mail misleadingly titled their article on the news, “More Proof We May Not Be Alone.”
  • Mechanical Engineering magazine showcases yet another human invention, the FinGripper, that is based on principles from the animal world. Specifically, the device has three “fingers” that “move like the flexible tail of a fish.” Developers designed the FinGripper after studying how penguins and fish swim.
  • A Greek student studying in Britain helped detect a hidden fragment of the ancient Codex Sinaiticus copy of the Bible. (We reported on the codex’s online debut in July.)
  • An archaeological excavation by Israeli researchers has revealed an ancient city wall from old Jerusalem dated at some 3,700 years old. If true, the wall may be from the days when Jerusalem was called Salem. Perhaps the wall was built not long after Abram’s encounter with the priest Melchizedek—or centuries later when the Jebusites controlled the city.
  • Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown revealed in a Parade magazine interview that his abandonment of religion began when he asked a minister about the incompatibility of Genesis with the big bang. “Nice boys don’t ask that question,” the minister allegedly replied, and Brown then began to believe that “the Bible doesn’t make sense.” (Ken Ham made further remarks about the account in his blog.)
  • Although the decision was complicated by the legacy of divorce, a court order requiring a homeschooled girl to attend public school seems to have been motivated by an anti-religious agenda. We do not know the details, but could this be an indication of further government restriction of education to come?
  • Is gossip “vital to our survival” and what “sets us apart from [the] animals,” as a New York Daily News report asserts? On the contrary, Christians should remember that gossip is condemned throughout Scripture (Proverbs 11:13, 16:28, 20:19, 26:20; Romans 1:28–30; 1 Timothy 5:13).
  • Researchers in Sweden, reporting in Nature Geoscience, argue that “crude oil and natural gas are generated without the involvement of fossils”—an attack on the idea that fossil fuels are exactly what their name suggests. For more on this topic from a young-earth creationist perspective, see The Origin of Oil and The Origin of Oil—A Creationist Answer.
  • A series of Daily Mail articles this week cover a range of topics related to young-earth creation: the “mythological” giant eagle that actually existed; the colorful fibers our ancestors could make; the possibility that Stonehenge was part of a “giant geometric grid used for navigating”; and another claim that “humans are programmed to believe in God because it gives them a better chance of survival.”

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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, 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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