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June 8, 2003

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Religion in the News

Focus on Family prepares for future without its founder | Hodel's new role will largely be behind the scenes, but his decision-making will be critical as the organization seeks to groom others to succeed Dobson, broaden its reach to younger families and keep donations coming (The Denver Post). See,1413,36~53~1429536,00.html

Habitat for Humanity to open slum 'theme park' | Millard Fuller, founder of the organization, said he expects the Global Village & Discovery Center to attract as many as 70,000 tourists in its first year of operation (Reuters). See

Faith, fun attract flocks | Orlando is moving toward becoming "the Las Vegas of the evangelical world" (The Orlando Sentinel). See,0,1?coll=orl-news-headlines

Cracks in Jefferson's wall | It's good to see that common sense prevailed in the compromise that will allow a religious song to be sung during graduation ceremonies at Winneconne High School on June 8 (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). See

'New' Jim Bakker Returns to Christian Television. Though he once said he would never start another Christian TV ministry, televangelist Jim Bakker is back on the air. "The New Jim Bakker Show" debuted 16 years to the day of his last broadcast of the "PTL Club," the flagship of a ministry empire that crashed amid headlines about financial and sexual scandal, and saw its head jailed for five years. To read more, go to:

Ted Haggard: 'This Is Evangelicalism's Finest Hour'
The new president of the National Association of Evangelicals talks about the current state and future goals of the association and evangelicalism. See

Was alleged Olympics bomber motivated by religion?
Is Eric Rudolph a Christian terrorist? The Washington Post asks the question in yesterday's edition. "The question is not just whether Rudolph is a terrorist, or whether he considers himself a Christian," writes Alan Cooperman. "It is whether he planted bombs at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, two abortion clinics, and a gay nightclub to advance a religious ideology—and how numerous, organized and violent others who share that ideology may be." Syracuse University political science professor Michael Barkun, who has consulted the FBI on "Christian extremist groups," is willing to use the phrase. "Based on what we know of Rudolph so far, and admittedly it's fragmentary, there seems to be a fairly high likelihood that he can legitimately be called a Christian terrorist," he said. See and

'Boston Movement' Apologizes
Open letter prompts leaders of controversial church to promise reform.
By John W. Kennedy. See

Congress enacts first abortion restriction since Roe v. Wade
After a U.S. House of Representatives vote last night (roll call), the federal government will finally ban partial-birth abortions, or what some abortion rights supporters call "dilation and extraction." See

American Life League questions prolife victories
The American Life League, a $7.5 million/year organization that runs such antiabortion programs as Rock for Life, STOPP (Stop Planned Parenthood), Rachel's Vineyard (for postabortion healing), and Campus for Life (which was recently profiled by The Washington Post) is earning a reputation as the wet blanket at the prolife party. See

Data: Not keeping the faith| Is Christian fundamentalism in America on the rise? A Gallup poll analyzed in the March Scientific American by Rodger Doyle suggests a trend toward moderation among evangelical Christians (Reason). See

Jazz, Jesus, and Liberation
In This Far By Faith, Juan Williams argues that the spiritual journey of African Americans is essential to understanding America. By John W. Kennedy. See

Christian unity in atheist bastion | Germany, where only one-third of its 3.5 million citizens belong to a church, is now the venue for a massive display of a deep yearning for Christian unity (UPI). See

Harleys in Heaven
What Christians have thought of the afterlife, and what difference it makes now.
By John G. Stackhouse. See

Science in the News


Astronomer Offers Skeptics Scientific 'Reasons to Believe' Read the full profile of Hugh Ross in the June issue of "Charisma" magazine, out now. See

Reasons To Believe's 2003 Conference: Who is the Designer? June 26-28th 2003 at SeaCoast Grace Church in Cypress, CA. Questions addressed: "Does the created realm adequately support a search for the Designer?" "If so, does the evidence point to the personal God of the Bible, or to the god(s) of other world religions, or somewhere else altogether?" "How can I gain the wisdom to examine the evidence and draw sound conclusions?" "How can I most effectively discuss and defend my conclusions among those who disagree?" See

Born Under The Sun: UV Light And The Origin Of Life. London - Jun 02, 2003 - Early evolution of life as we know it may have depended on DNA's ability to absorb UV light. This insight into the early moments of life on Earth comes from research published today in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. See

Chimp Study Yields Clues to Evolution of Human Speech. We humans are nothing if talkative. Indeed, it's one of our most salient characteristics as a species. But exactly how we came to be so chatty is less obvious. Despite decades of research into the subject, anthropologists are still struggling to reconstruct the chain of events that produced our unique oral capabilities. New research suggests that one part of the story they thought they had nailed in fact needs revision. See

The double puzzle of diabetes
Why is the prevalence of type 2 diabetes now exploding in most populations, but not in Europeans? The genetic and evolutionary consequences of geographical differences in food history may provide the answer. See

Deadly crossovers of the Darwinian 'divide' SO, IT SEEMS the new SARS coronavirus, agent of a deadly respiratory infection, leapt to Homo sapiens from a catlike animal with an exotic name, the masked palm civet - a delicacy in China, where the illness smoldered for months before going global. See

“Junk DNA” Creates Novel Proteins. DNA sequences long considered genomic garbage are finally getting a little respect. Researchers have figured out how short stretches of DNA that do not normally code for proteins worm their way into genes. This can result in the production of abnormal proteins and lead to genetic diseases, such as Alport Syndrome, a rare kidney disease. But the sequences, sometimes called “junk DNA,” have also allowed humans and other species to create new proteins in a process that has dramatically influenced evolution. One of the biggest surprises to come from the sequencing of the human genome was that we have about 30,000 genes but produce approximately 90,000 proteins. And 99 percent of our DNA codes for no protein at all. The new research provides a clue as to why we have so much “junk DNA.” It also suggests an explanation of how so few genes can produce so many proteins. See

Plants And People Share A Molecular Signaling System, Researchers Discover
Scientists announce in the current issue of the journal Nature their discovery that plants respond to environmental stresses with a sequence of molecular signals known in humans and other mammals as the "G-protein signaling pathway," revealing that this signaling strategy has long been conserved throughout evolution. See

"Polonium Haloes" Refuted: A Review of "Radioactive Halos in a Radio-Chronological and Cosmological Perspective" by Robert V. Gentry. Professional geologist Tom Bailleul takes a second look at Gentry's claimed polonium haloes, arguing that there is no good evidence they are the result of polonium decay as opposed to any other radioactive isotope, or even that they are caused by radioactivity at all. Gentry is taken to task for selective use of evidence, faulty experiment design, mistakes in geology and physics, and unscientific principles of investigation and argument style. This document is now illustrated and features improved explanations of the ideas involved and of the terms used. See

Radiometric Dating -- A Christian Perspective by Dr. Roger Wiens, a physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, has been recently updated and is now available on the ASA web site. See


The Turin Shroud, Fake or Genuine ? This article uses examples of burial shrouds from Early Christian Art and statements from the New Testament to show that the Turin Shroud cannot be Christ's burial shroud. See

Dating the Pentateuch via Hebrew as a Language. This article points out the problems in dating the Pentateuch via the Hebrew Language. See

Moses' Egyptian Name
Ogden Goelet
The Egyptian roots of the lawgiver's name indicate that the Egyptians and Israelites had more in common than the Book of Exodus might lead one to believe. See

The Harrowing of Hell
Heidi J. Hornik and Mikeal C. Parsons
A popular Christian creed tells us Jesus "descended into Hell." But just when did Jesus go there and why? And how did his mysterious descent, known as the Harrowing, become part of early church doctrine and art?  See

The Search for Noah's Flood. By Ronald S. Hendel. Scientists Are Looking in the Wrong Place. See

The Hebrew God: Portrait of an Ancient Deity
by Bernhard Lang. review by Michael M. Homan. See

Christopher Columbus' Bones Get DNA Testing. June 4, 2003 — DNA technology might reveal the last voyage of Christopher Columbus' bones, according to Spanish scientists who exhumed the explorer's remains on Monday. See


WASP Prepares To Search For A Thousand New Planets. Swindon - Jun 02, 2003 - Construction has now started in La Palma on the first of three new cameras designed to look for planets outside our own solar system. To date about a hundred of these planets have been found by teams of scientists from around the world using various techniques, but the ambitious new WASP project hopes to find over a thousand new planets similar to Jupiter! See

Europe Launches First Ever Mars Space Mission. See

In Support Of Galacitic Unification. New Haven - Jun 02, 2003 - Despite a decade of efforts to find flaws in the unification theory of active galaxies, the theory correctly explains the exotic phenomena of accreting supermassive black holes, argues Yale astronomer Meg Urry. See

Calmer Times For Windy Saturn. Paris (AFP) Jun 04, 2003 - Saturn, one of the windiest places in the Solar System, is undergoing a dramatic weather change. Just over two decades ago, snapshots of the distinctive clouds in Saturn's equatorial region showed a jetstream that sped along at a bruising 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles) per hour. Now the winds have slowed to a relatively pedestrian 1,100 kph (690 mph), according to astronomers. Outside the equatorial belt, the planet's wind speeds appear not to have changed. See


Blood substitute from worms shows promise. Haemoglobin from sea creature could replace red cells. Worms may help doctors get round the worldwide blood shortage. Preliminary tests hint that their haemoglobin might be a good red-cell alternative, say researchers. See

'Immortalized' Cells Enable Researchers To Grow Human Arteries
In a combination of bioengineering and cancer research, a team of Duke University Medical Center researchers has made the first arteries from non-embryonic tissues in the laboratory, an important step toward growing human arteries outside of the body for use in coronary artery bypass surgery. See

'Kiss-and-run' Rules The Inner Lives Of Neurons
Neurons transmit chemical signals in a fleeting "kiss-and-run" process, which in large part determines how quickly neurons can fire, according to new studies by Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers. See

Earth Science

Biogeochemistry: Ancient oceans and oxygen 
The ocean chemistry of 1.5 billion years ago, inferred from rocks of that age, supports the view that marine conditions then were very different from those that pertained at earlier and later times. Nature 592 Full Text (members only).

Palaeobotany: Ice-age steppe vegetation in east Beringia
Tiny plant fossils indicate how this frozen region once sustained huge herds of mammals. See First paragraph Nature 603.

Why We Still Have Turtles. New research explains why the impact that doomed the dinosaurs spared freshwater animals. See (membership required)


Observing The 'Wings" Of Atoms: Study Indicates It Is Possible To See Electrons' Orbital Paths Around Atoms
By crunching numbers on a supercomputer for six months, University of Utah researchers showed it is possible for an atomic force microscope to make images of the wing-shaped paths of minuscule electrons as they orbit atoms.


Blood disease symptoms resemble child abuse
Parents are being falsely accused and children are dying because the symptoms are being mistaken for shaken-baby syndrome. See

Psychopathy (3 Jun) - Scientists have adapted a standard psychological test that detects underlying prejudices to delve into the minds of psychopathic murderers. Serial killers can be adept at lying and deception, and may turn on the charm to confuse their interrogators, but researchers at Cardiff University in Wales say their test reveals implicit beliefs. See

Psychiatry (3 Jun) - The sophisticated science of brain scanning may be on the brink of revolutionizing the intuitive art of psychiatry, one of the few domains left in medicine in which a doctor's educated guess is still the most common way to figure out what's wrong. See

Depression (3 Jun) - Relaxation and positive thinking work better than anti-depressant medication in treating troubled teens, a Melbourne study has found. The national depression initiative beyondblue says findings of the Monash University study highlight the need for more government funding of clinical psychological treatments. See

Violence (2 Jun) - Flawed brain chemistry, brain damage, genetic defects, an unhealthy psychological environment - take them individually or mix them together and you may have the right ingredients for violent behavior, reports a variety of researchers. See


Packet tracking promises ultrafast internet
Fast TCP can run on existing infrastructure, but would allow a whole movie to be downloaded in just five second. See

Gecko tape will stick you to ceiling
A new material covered with nanoscopic hairs mimicking those found on geckos' feet promise some gravity-defying feats. See