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August 17, 2003


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Religion in the News

Louisiana Rep. to head Family Research Council
The Family Research Council has named Louisiana State Rep. Tony Perkins as its new president, effective September 1, calling him "the leading opponent of Louisiana's gambling industry and one of the state's most vocal prolife advocates." "The very bedrock of our society and nation, the institution of marriage, is under attack," Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, an FRC board member, said in a press release. "I can't think of anyone more prepared to lead FRC and to promote and defend the sanctity of marriage and the family at this time than Tony Perkins." See http://www.frc.org/?i=PR03H02

Kevin Leman Talks
The author of The Birth Order Book looks at the private lives of Christian couples in Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Intimacy in Marriage. See http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/132/22.0.html

Could Rastas and Christians Really Unite?
There's more in common than you might think, but some factors keep adherents wary of one another. See http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/132/31.0.html

Right wing fears being terminated  The Schwarzenegger phenomenon is so disturbing for those who have staked their careers on their unwavering conservative credentials (Diane Carman, The Denver Post). See http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~115~1566977,00.html

Church must stop preaching to the converted, say ad agencies  Traditional images of Christ on the cross and biblical quotations in bill-board adverts are a turn-off for church goers, advertisers have proclaimed today (The Guardian, London). See http://media.guardian.co.uk/advertising/story/0,7492,1018088,00.html

Debate exists about whether the Bible is entirely error-free Nowadays, inerrancy is championed almost exclusively by conservative Protestants (Associated Press). See http://www.dodgeglobe.com/stories/080803/chu_0808030041.shtml

Believers in the lost Ark Treating myth as fact misunderstands the meaning of religion (Karen Armstrong, The Guardian, London). See http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,2763,1015350,00.html

Dr. Laura loses her religion  Radio host drops Judaism, 'envies' Christian friends (Forward)
See http://www.forward.com/issues/2003/03.08.15/news2.html

I Lost It
Noted missiologist Ruth Tucker shines a light on the netherworld of apostasy in Walking Away from Faith. See http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/008/33.60.html

Book of the Week: 'A Golden Age' of Religious Tolerance?
The Ornament of the World analyzes how the intellectual elites of medieval Spain eschewed fundamentalism and showed surprising sensitivity in reconciling competing truths. See http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/132/12.0.html

Science in the News

Wagner Free Institute of Science Fall Courses. See http://www.pacscl.org/wagner/

  1. Natural History Since Aristotle. Starts Wednesday 9/24/2003 at 6:30 PM at Wynnefield Branch of the Free Library.

  2. An Introduction to the Study of Insects. Starts Thursday, 9/25/2003 at 6:30 PM at Academy of Natural Sciences.

  3. Ornithological Exploration. Starts Monday, 9/29/2003 at 6:30 PM at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

  4. Ancient Graves and Modern Cemeteries. Starts Wednesday, 10/1/2003 at 7:00 PM at the University of Pennsylvania Museum.

Creation/Evolution

Caught in the rat race? No wonder
Dogs may be man's best friend but rats are closer relatives, according to a new study that compares stretches of DNA for 13 different animals - including human beings. We primates share common stretches of DNA with rats and mice that weren't found in carnivores such as dogs and cats or hoofed animals such as pigs and cows. The researchers, who published their paper in today's issue of the journal Nature, also studied DNA from two fellow primates - baboons and monkeys - as well as chickens, zebrafish and two species of pufferfish.The researchers also looked at previously studied DNA from horses and found they were more closely related to dogs than they were to cows. See http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/health/6527023.htm Also see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030814072241.htm

Microbe From Depths Takes Life To Hottest Known Limit -- Researchers Find Iron-reducing Archaeon 'Strain 121' Respires To Greatness
It may be small, its habitat harsh, but a newly discovered single-celled microbe leads the hottest existence known to science. Its discoverers have preliminarily named the roughly micron-wide speck "Strain 121" for the top temperature at which it survives: 121 degrees Celsius, or about 250 degrees Fahrenheit. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030815075108.htm

Critics: Publisher changed textbook to please creation theorists  But spokesman says company was simply responding to valid scientific arguments when it revised biology book being considered for Texas schools (Associated Press). See http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=11810

NYT's Nicholas Kristof Pits Religious Belief Against 'Intellect'
Noting that Americans are three times as likely to believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus (83%) as in evolution (28%), he writes, "The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time." See http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/132/51.0.html  http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/15/opinion/15KRIS.html

Researchers Find A Pattern In Evolution Of Lizard Groups
Many scientists, such as the late Stephen Jay Gould, to conclude that each group of living things evolves in its own idiosyncratic manner. But now biologists at Washington University in St. Louis have proposed a general pattern among groups in the timing of evolutionary diversification. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030815075001.htm

Creation Expeditions team discovers giant duck-billed dinosaur
Fossilized skin imprints from "Ezekiel" the Edmontosaurus point to recent catastrophic death of this duck-billed giant. This find counters the myth that the Edmontosaurus was a transitional dinosaur with feathers. See http://bhcsa.org/DinoStory.asp

Fifth International Conference on Creationism papers online
PDF versions of the papers recently presented by Institute for Creation Research scientists
are available at this site. There is some very interesting material dealing with radioisotope dating and climate models relating to the Genesis Flood. See http://www.icr.org/research/

Scientific research put under spotlight. Britain's academy of science is to set up an inquiry into how scientific research is made public. It follows rows about the reliability of some studies which, although they were published in journals, were later found to have been based on false or poorly interpreted results. There is also concern about organisations which make scientific claims in press releases and at media conferences but then present no evidence to support their announcements. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3140261.stm

Meetings seek synergy between science and religion  The Kansas City Religion and Science Dialogue Project, which began in 2002, is designed to be a "conversation" on what new scientific discoveriesócovering everything from stem-cell research to black matterómean to age-old beliefs (The Kansas City Star). See http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascitystar/news/local/6508410.htm

Faith collides with science on campus | Mystery and humility can help students resolve the conflict (The Charlotte Observer). See http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/news/6505454.htm

Archaeology/Anthropology

Nefertiti Resurrected
Could this discarded, defaced mummy really be the most powerful woman in ancient Egypt? Take an interactive tour of the tomb and see what you think.
Don't Miss the Premiere on Discovery Channel Sunday, August 17
Who WAS Nefertiti?
The Video Gallery
Chasing Nefertiti: Joann Fletcher's Story
Make Your Own Mummy

Moses and the Exodus
Find out what scholars believe the real Moses was actually like. See http://tlc.discovery.com/convergence/moses/moses.html
Where's Moses? The Interactive Exodus
Moses Portrayed Through History
Test Your Faith
Moses As Seen by Jews, Muslims and Christians

Recent Trends in Reconstructing the History of Ancient Israel. A Report of the Conference (Rome, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, March 6-7, 2003) by Associazione Orientalisti. See http://www.orientalisti.net/trends.htm

Rare bell shrine found in Ireland "This is among the most important archaeological objects ever found in the course of an excavation in Ireland." (The Guardian, London). See http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1016714,00.html

Big beast extinction blamed on prehistoric fire starters (10 Aug) - Prehistoric fire starters may have unwittingly killed off the big beasts that once roamed Australia. Analysis of ancient eggshells suggests that the animals suddenly became extinct about 50,000 years ago because people burned up their habitat. See http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994028

Blood clues to iceman's death. The theory that Oetzi the Iceman died in a violent fight with others has received further support from scientists in Australia. "We analysed samples, scrapings from the knife, the axe and from his jacket and it indicates that the blood samples are actually from several different individuals," Dr Ian Findlay, of the Australian Genome Research Facility in Brisbane, said. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3146069.stm

Astronomy

Contrarian's contrarian: Galileo's science polemics  Two new books almost seem to sympathize with the inquisitors, making Galileo look like the dogmatist (The New York Times). See http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/12/science/12ESSA.html

Couple Says "I Do" In First Ever Space Wedding. The bride, in a sleeveless white gown, had her feet firmly planted on the ground. The groom, in a blue flight suit with black bowtie, was almost over the moon. When a judge pronounced them man and wife they blew each other kisses across the ether, in a ceremony being touted as the first wedding to be celebrated between Planet Earth and space. See http://www.spacedaily.com/2003/030811064105.mdaz12it.html

View Of Comets As Pristine Relics Of Solar System Formation Evolves. San Antonio - Aug 11, 2003 - The long-held perspective that comets are pristine remnants from the formation of the solar system has evolved from the prevailing views of 30 years ago, finds planetary scientist Dr. S. Alan Stern in a paper published in the journal Nature. See http://www.spacedaily.com/news/comet-03e.html

Biology

Natural Hormone Could Reverse Heart Damage
By altering the signaling pathway of the natural hormone leptin, Johns Hopkins researchers say, doctors may one day be able to minimize or even reverse a dangerous enlarged heart condition linked to obesity. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030813071126.htm

Mare Gives Birth to Own Clone. A foal born earlier this year named Prometea is the first successfully cloned horse, scientists report. What is more, the horse from which the original cell material was taken--not a surrogate--gave birth to her. The birth challenges the idea that the early success of a pregnancy depends on the mother's immune system responding to a developing fetus and placenta as something different from itself. See http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=000C034F-5EF4-1F31-9AD380A84189F2D7

Scientists Boost Antioxidant Content of Corn. Vitamin E is associated with a number of beneficial effects, including reduced cholesterol, a decreased risk of coronary disease and improved prenatal heath, but nearly 25 percent of people in the U.S. do not receive the recommended dose. Now scientists have developed a new method of engineering plants, including corn, containing significantly increased levels of the antioxidant. See http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=00070A6C-AF2C-1F2A-A90580A84189EF21

Researchers One Step Closer To Holy Grail Of Neurobiology
For scientists in the field of neurobiology, defining the factors that influence the arousal of brain and behavior is a "Holy Grail." Research published by Rockefeller University scientists in the Aug. 11 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition are the first to give a rigorous definition of what is meant by arousal, considered to be at the base of all emotionally laden behaviors. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030815073725.htm

Stem-cell Defect Underlies Common Genetic Disorder
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have found that Hirschsprung disease, one of the most common genetic disorders, is caused by a defect that blocks neural stem cells from forming nerves that control the lower intestine. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030815074839.htm

Search Beneath Lawns Provides Insight Into Backyard Biodiversity
Lawn mowing and maintenance can make homeowners' summer free time disappear, but what do these practices do to the tiny creatures that live beneath the lawn and help to process nutrients and organic materials? See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030811071121.htm

Largest Seed Germinates. Experts at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh are celebrating after successfully germinating the world's largest seed. The Coco de Mer - which is produced by a palm tree found in the Seychelles - is as heavy as eight bags of sugar and notoriously difficult to cultivate. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/3153327.stm

Earth Science

New Dinosaur Rises From Fossil Bones In India
A stocky, carnivorous dinosaur with an unusual head crest that has been identified from bones collected in India belongs to a significant line of predatory dinosaurs known from the southern continents. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030815074441.htm

Scientists Rewrite Laws Of Glacial Erosion
Glaciers, it turns out, aren't so different from people -- they can gain weight in their bottoms and be less active, scientists have discovered. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030814071654.htm

Gravity Variations Can Help Predict Earthquake Behavior. Pasadena - Aug 11, 2003 - In trying to predict where earthquakes will occur, few people would think to look at Earth's gravity field. What does the force that causes objects to fall to the ground and the moon to orbit around the earth have to do with the unpredictable ground trembling of an earthquake? See http://www.spacedaily.com/news/tectonics-03p.html

Physics

Time, Mechanics and Zeno Undergo Major Revision. Wellington - Aug 11, 2003 - A bold paper which has highly impressed some of the world's top physicists and been published in the August issue of Foundations of Physics Letters, seems set to change the way we think about the nature of time and its relationship to motion and classical and quantum mechanics. See http://www.spacedaily.com/news/time-03a.html

Psychology

Can the psyche be treated without considering the spirit?  While secular therapists have brought soul language into therapy, clergy who specialize in pastoral counseling find themselves grappling with ways to integrate modern therapeutic techniques into their work without losing sight of the spiritual dimension (The Philadelphia Inquirer). See http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/6496697.htm

Crime (10 Aug) - Programmes aiming to change young offenders and those that support victims need to be re-thought because they are often the same people, according to new research sponsored by the Economic & Social Research Council. This latest in a series of reports tracking 4,300 young people who started secondary school in Edinburgh in August 1998, shows that victimisation and offending are closely linked. See http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2003-08/esr-yoa080503.php

Promiscuity (9 Aug) - Men and women both have a strong promiscuous streak, says a psychologist who claims the desire for a fling is hard-wired into our genes. But they are still oh-so-different: men lust after plenty of partners, while women demand quality over quantity. See http://www.canada.com/vancouver/vancouversun/story.asp?id=039D4D2B-FA59-418D-8A2C-03E90E41AB1A