Used with permission from John Clayton, from the November/December 2007 Does God Exist? bulletin
Baby Killer Chimpanzees. We constantly are given the picture that chimpanzees are peaceful, nearly human relatives that deserve special recognition and appreciation since their genome is so similar to ours and they share so many characteristics with us. Suggesting that they are animals behaving as animals normally behave always seems to precipitate strong reactions from animal right advocates and promoters of naturalism. In the May 15, 2007, issue of Current Biology, a research team headed by Simon W. Townsend reports on an attack and murder of a one-week-old baby chimp by five female chimps. The baby was snatched from its mother after a ten minute attack and fatally bitten in the head and neck. Primitologists are scrambling to explain the carnage, but the picture normally given of chimps as peaceful and holding the key to the best of human behavior is not accurate.
Reference: Science News, May 26, 2007, page 333.
New Stem Cell Discoveries Continue. The battle over embryonic stem cells continues, but scientific progress also continues to impact the discussion. In June researchers announced that they had successfully converted skin cells of adult mice into nascent stem cells that are "identical to embryonic stem cells." The use of embryonic stem cells as a treatment method is not a practical end, because the number of embryos needed to supply the patients who would need them is so huge. Research showing ways of getting stem cells that do not involve destroying a human embryo have enormous potential, and while knowledge may come by studying embryonic stem cells, the treatment tools scientists need will not come from that source.
References: US News and World Report, June 18, 2007, page 27.
Virgin Birth of Shark. A female bonnethead shark in Omaha, Neb., gave birth to a baby even though no male shark has ever been in the aquarium. DNA analysis of the baby shows no genes other than the mother's, so this is a true case of parthogenesis. The baby got one set of chromosomes during the egg-making, and somehow made a copy of itself. Scientists do not know how this happens. There are designs in reproductive systems of animals that allow reproduction to occur by alternate methods when the animal is isolated. Much remains to be learned about how this happens, but it is another demonstration of the design features built into living things by God that allows them to survive.
Reference: Science News, May 26, 2007, page 323.
The Bible as Hate Literature. In Saskatchewan and in the United States, political action is going on to make it illegal to criticize homosexuality. Section 14 of Saskatchewan's Human Rights Code and House Bill HR 1592 and Senate Bill S. 1105 in the United States contain language which suggests that any negative discussion of homosexuality is hate literature and as such anyone reading it, quoting it, or promoting it is guilty of a hate crime. Reactions to homophobia have been strong by many of us, but precluding debate and study on issues that involve how lifestyle affects quality of life is not beneficial to anyone.
Sources: www.churchsoftwareplus.com and www.afa.net
Global Warming on Mars. In Science News, April 7, 2007, page 214 there was a report on evidence that Mars is also going through global warming. The announcement has brought a lot of interesting discussion about what is real and what is not in global warming. Mars has an atmosphere that is 95 percent carbon dioxide, so one cannot attribute the warming to greenhouse gas increases. If the Sun is causing Mar's global warming, then it should also be causing the Earth to have global warming, and even more so since we are closer to the Sun than Mars. The fact is that global warming has many causes, and we know that what is happening on Mars is different from what is happening on Earth.
Gonorrhea Drug Resistant and Spreading. A new strain of gonorrhea which is resistant to all available drugs is spreading rapidly in the United States. The infection rate is estimated to be 1.4 million new cases a year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cephalosporins are still being used to treat cases, but those who promote sexual permissiveness under the guise that in our modern world we have ways of treating STDs need to look at the facts. God's way works and is superior in every area of discussion.
Reference: Science News, April 21, 2007, page 245.
Record Crystals. When a mining company pumped the water out of a deep cave under the Chihuahuan Desert in Mexico, they discovered that there were massive gypsum crystals that had grown in the 136 degree water of the cave. Some of these crystals were as long as 36 feet and within them is a record of their growth. This will give scientists another tool to measure time. The age of the earth is not given in the Bible, and those whose denominational creed demands that they maintain an earth of around 6,000 years are constantly in need of finding ways to explain away new evidence that shows the Earth is older than their theology can handle.
Reference: Popular Science, July 2007, page 16.
1,009,000 Species and Counting. The Smithsonian has now passed the one million mark of cataloged species of living things. It is hoped that everything will be catalogued by the year 2011 and the total number of species is expected to be about 1.75 million. Right now 253,680 species of butterflies and moths are listed. Three thousand biologists are working on the cataloging, checking and double checking to make sure the data is accurate. We want to remind our readers that these are scientific species--not to be confused with the biblical kinds. The Hebrew word min translated "kind" in the Bible is more general. In 1 Corinthians 15:39 Paul says, "There are four kinds of flesh, the flesh of fish, the flesh of birds, the flesh of beats and the flesh of man." There would be many species within a kind. If we think about it we can realize why it is foolish to expect a detailed explanation of how each of the species came into existence. That is not the Bible's purpose nor does it contribute to its message.
Reference: Houston Chronicle, April 9, 2007, page A4 and USA Today, April 10, 2007, page 10D
Galileo Data. Much is made by skeptics about the battle between the Roman Catholic Church and Galileo. The fact is that the more data becomes available about the life of Galileo, the more obvious it is that he was not a very moral person, and that much of the controversy was connected with his immorality. Galileo had three children, but never married their mother. Because his daughters were illegitimate, he would have to pay a dowry for them to marry. He refused to do this, and the girls had to live in a convent for their entire lives. In 1617 Galileo bought a villa to be close to the convent where his daughters lived. By the way--he never dropped balls off of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Reference: Popular Science, July 2007, page 80.
New Bird Record. We have always used the Arctic tern as an example of an animal that is programmed to do things instinctively that do not benefit its survival, but do benefit other life forms. The tern travels some 20,000 miles a year providing food and materials to a variety of plants and animals in remote areas on the north slopes and at the southern edge of South America. Defenders of Wildlife, Winter 2007, page 7, reports that researchers have tracked Sooty Shearwaters that travel from New Zealand to Alaska to Japan and back to New Zealand--a distance of 40,000 miles. It is hard to argue this is an advantage to the Shearwater, but it does bring nutrients to isolated environments that otherwise would not have them.
Bigotry Against Christians. A recent study by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research revealed some unexpected support for Christians who maintain that they are persecuted on various campuses around the country. The study was looking for anti-semitism and surveyed 1,200 professors in a wide cross section of schools. Fifty-three percent of the professors surveyed expressed an unfavorable feeling toward evangelical Christians while negative feelings against Jews and Catholics were nonexistent. Gary Tobin, the director of the Institute that did the study, said that we have "concrete evidence of sheer bigotry."
Reference: The Week, May 18, 2007, page 12.