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May 30, 2005

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New Biblical Recreations from the IBSS Gift Shop!

I have been busy making molds and casts. Here are some new inscriptions related to the Bible: The Tel Dan inscription that mentions the "house of David," see Tel Dan Inscription Recreation, the Gezer Calendar from the time of Solomon, see Gezer Calendar Recreation, the ivory pomegranate from Solomon's Temple, see Ivory Pomegranate Recreation, and Bullae from the Kings of Judah, see Biblical Bullae: Kings of Judah.

Religion in the News

Christianity Today Book Awards 2005
From more than 300 nominations, these books represent the year's best.

Victorian Skeptics on the Road to Damascus
Former atheist Antony Flew's admission of the existence of God shocked believers and skeptics alike, but such a turnaround is far from unique. In the 19th century, many leading intellectuals who had once lost their faith ended up reconverting. By Timothy Larsen.

The American Family Association has ended its boycott of Disney after nine years and without achieving any of its objectives. The AFA had wanted "Disney to ban 'Gay Day' revelers from its theme parks and set up an advisory panel of evangelical Christians," Reuters reports. See

Church stands by sign saying Quran "should be flushed"
The pastor of a small Baptist church has refused calls to take down a sign posted in front of his church reading "The Koran needs to be flushed," saying Tuesday he has nothing to apologize for. (Associated Press)

Trial over Italian Islam 'insult'
Controversial Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci is to face trial for allegedly insulting the Muslim faith in her latest book, a court in Italy says. (BBC)

Stop the masochistic insanity
The violent response to the report of "Quranic abuse" isn't about faith, it's about intolerance. It's essential that we understand the deep irrationality that underlies all faith and that can take these fetishistic forms. (Slate)

A Higher Education
A slew of new books on faith and learning may signal a renaissance for the Christian college. By Michael S. Hamilton.

Science in the News


Vendyl Jones Claims he will find the Ark of the Covenant by August 14, 2005
Armed with a blessing from a mysterious Kabbalist, Jones is now excited to uncover his life's pursuit. He believes the ark of the covenant will be discovered by Tisha B'Av (Aug. 14), a day of repeated tragedy in Jewish history. Most notably, it is the anniversary of the destruction of both the First and Second Holy Temples. On August 14th we will know for sure if Vendyl Jones is a false prophet, or a true prophet. My guess is that he will make up some excuse of why he did not find the ark, and that he just needs some more time and a lot more money to find it.

NASA technology reveals texts of Trojan Wars, early gospels
A relatively new technology called multispectral imaging is turning a pile of ancient garbage into a gold mine of classical knowledge, bringing to light the lost texts of Sophocles and Euripides as well as some early Christian gospels that do not appear in the New Testament. (Seattle Times)

Was Noah’s Ark a Sewn Boat? Ralph K. Pedersen
The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Mesopotamian myth that includes a flood story, and modern-day ships on the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea provide a persuasive answer.

Have Jordanian archaeologists found the place Jesus was baptized?
New evidence may have finally pinned down the legendary 'Bethany beyond the Jordan.' (Daily Star, Lebanon)

Modern Humans Or Neandertals? New Evidence Sheds Light On Cave Fossils' Age
The human fossil evidence from the Mladeè Caves in Moravia, Czech Republic, excavated more than 100 years ago, has been proven for the first time, through modern radiocarbon dating, to be the oldest cranial, dental and postcranial assemblage of early modern humans in Europe.

Americas had seventy 'founding fathers'
Gene study counts the first humans to reach the New World.

Indian Tribes Linked Directly to African 'Eve' - May 20, 2005
Two primitive tribes in India's Andaman and Nicobar islands are believed to be direct descendants of the first modern humans who migrated from Africa at least 50,000 years ago, according to a study by Indian biologists. 


Planetary billiards answer Solar System riddle
Scattering rocks moved planets and battered the Moon.

Monster Super Star Cluster Discovered In Milky Way
European astronomers, including a scientist from Cardiff University, have discovered the largest known star cluster in the Milky Way. The super star cluster known as 'Westerlund 1' is made up of around 200,000 stars - some up to a million times brighter than the sun - and is a thousand times closer than any other, so far discovered.

Solar Wind Originates In Coronal Funnels
The ESA/NASA SOHO spacecraft determines the origin of the fast solar wind flowing from funnel-shaped magnetic fields which are anchored in the lanes of the magnetic network near the surface of the Sun.

First full mosaics of Titan’s surface.

Evidence For Extensive, Olivine-Rich Bedrock On Mars Honolulu HI (SPX) May 30, 2005
By using new, high spatial resolution infrared data from NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft, Victoria Hamilton from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Philip Christensen from Arizona State University have concluded that a region on the surface of Mars known to contain olivine-rich rocks is actually 4 times larger than previously estimated.

Cassini Gradually Revealing Phoebe's Origin Pasadena CA (JPL) May 30, 2005
Data from the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens mission are providing convincing evidence that Saturn's moon Phoebe was formed elsewhere in the Solar System, and was only later caught by the planet's gravitational pull.

Core Collapse In Carbon/Oxygen Stars May Be Source Of GRBs Berkeley CA (SPX) May 26, 2005
Observations by two of the world's largest telescopes provide strong evidence that a peculiar type of exploding star may be the origin of elusive gamma-ray bursts that have puzzled scientists for more than 30 years.

Preparing For Impact Garching, Germany (SPX) May 31, 2005
On July 4, 2005, the NASA Deep Impact spacecraft will visit Comet 9P/Tempel 1. It will launch a 360 kg impactor that should produce a crater on the surface of the comet and a plume of gas and dust.


Breakthrough In Stem Cell Research
Australian researchers from the University of New South Wales have developed three clones of cells from existing human embryonic stem cells. The breakthrough could lead to new treatments for diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injury. 

While On Trail Of Dioxin, Scientists Pinpoint Cancer Target Of Green Tea
Green tea appears to protect against cancer by affecting a "promiscuous" protein that pharmaceutical experts are already targeting in an effort to develop a new drug to stop the disease.

What's Really Making You Sick? Plant Pathologists Offer The Science Behind Sick Building Syndrome
Science-based identification of mold and other causes of Sick Building Syndrome may improve its management, say plant pathologists with The American Phytopathological Society.

Gene Keeps Neural Cells On Correct Developmental Path
HHMI researchers report details from a new study that may be one of the first to track a set of genes from stem cell to differentiated neuron. The research reveals fundamental details of how stem cells retain developmental plasticity.

Ageing cells may lead to clogged arteries
US team helps explain why even healthy eaters get heart disease.

New Study Links Colic, Maternal Depression To Family Problems
Some families with new babies face excessive infant crying, or colic. And some new mothers go through maternal post-partum depression (PPD) following childbirth.  


Bias in Science, Part 2: By Randy Isaac. In this post, I'd like to take a closer look at Baumgardner's paper which elicited the concern a few weeks ago that it might be rejected by peer-reviewers due to an inappropriate bias.

In “Smithsonian to Screen a Movie That Makes a Case Against Evolution”, New York Times reporter John Schwartz tries to cover—at very short notice—the growing uproar first blogged here about the Smithsonian letting an ID-friendly film be screened.

"A catechism of creation." To read the catechism itself, visit:

Ga. county removing evolution sticker
Workers in Cobb County have begun removing controversial evolution disclaimer stickers from science textbooks to comply with a judge's order. (Associated Press)

Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant
As the Religious Right tries to ban the teaching of evolution in Kansas, Richard Dawkins speaks up for scientific logic. (Times, London)

The Coso Artifact: Mystery from the Depths of Time
The creation 'science' field known as OOPARTS, or "Out Of Place ARTifactS" is a lively area of study with numerous examples. This paper will examine the most popular and least understood specimen, the Coso Artifact.

Dino Blood Redux
Over a decade ago Mary Higby Schweitzer began her research career by announcing that she and professor Jack Horner had discovered evidence of blood residues in a Tyrannosaur rex femur. There followed many years of creationists' distortion of those findings which they presented as support for a young Earth that was debunked in Dino Blood and the Young Earth. In April of 2005, Schweitzer and Horner were again at the center of a media circus prompted by their announcement that this time they had discovered blood vessels and identifiable cells. The creationist reaction was immediate. This article reviews these new discoveries, their presentation in the popular media, and the sadly predictable creationist responses. 

The Evolutionary Triumph Of Flower Power (May 25, 2005)
While flowers originally came on the scene to attract potential pollinators like bugs and birds, it is their appeal to humans that accounts for the incredible variety of shapes and colors we see.

"Devolution" in the New Yorker.

Orr's 1996/7 review of Behe's Darwin's Black Box.

Orr's 2002 review of Dembski's No Free Lunch.

Earth Science

Meteor theory gets rocky ride from dinosaur expert
US palaeontologist amasses data against Mexican crater hypothesis.

Researchers Discover Underwater Volcano San Diego CA (SPX) May 26, 2005|
A team of scientists, led by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, has discovered an active underwater volcano near the Samoan Island chain.

Los Angeles 'Big Squeeze' Continues, Straining Earthquake Faults
Northern metropolitan Los Angeles is being squeezed at a rate of five millimeters a year, straining an area between two earthquake faults that serve as geologic bookends north and south of the affected region. Scientists expect that the strain will ultimately be released in earthquakes much like the 1994 Northridge temblor. The study also suggests which faults might be most likely to rupture. 


Harvard, Texas A&M Scientists Develop New Laser (May 31, 2005)
Engineers and applied physicists have laid the foundations for a new type of "plug and play" laser -- the Raman injection laser -- and in the process, several key innovations.

Lab Simulator Packs Teaching Power Of Electron Microscope At The Expense Of A Textbook
Kids have always had a fascination with the other-worldly images produced by a scanning electron microscope (SEM): ants sitting on microchip picnic tables, salt crystals in gritty detail, the scales of a butterfly wing. Now, a team of researchers and educators has created a CD-ROM and Web-based software to generate some of the capabilities--and teaching potential--of an SEM using personal computers in a classroom.


Learning Software Developed By Rutgers-Newark Scientist Helps 450,000 Students With Reading
About 450,000 American schoolchildren all have used educational Fast ForWord software products developed from research that began in the lab of Rutgers-Newark professor of neuroscience Paula Tallal.


New Monkey Discovered in Tanzania.