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July 6, 2003

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Religion in the News

Alabama Supreme Court Ten Commandments display ruled unconstitutional
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ruled Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's 5,300-pound Ten Commandments monument an unconstitutional state establishment of religion. See

Malawi's minority Muslims riot against Christians
Angry about the deportation of five foreign nationals suspected of belonging to the al Qaeda terror network, Muslims in the African nation of Malawi rioted for two days, targeting Christians. Seven churches in two cities were damaged, as were the national offices of the aid agency Save the Children. See

Time's Cover Story on Missions to Muslims Arrives. See

Mel Gibson visits Focus on the Family, National Association of Evangelicals
Seeking positive reaction and response to his film The Passion, Mel Gibson screened the film to hundreds of pastors at Focus on the Family's Colorado Springs headquarters last Thursday. See

Jerry Falwell gets control of
Just three months after a Virginia judge threw out Jerry Falwell's case against an Illinois man's parody site,, the Southern Baptist pastor gained control of the domain. See!n

Vatican says celibacy rule nonnegotiable | One of the major thrusts of the document is a reiteration of Christianity's heritage in Europe (Associated Press). See

Did Bush say God told him to strike Iraq?
Buried at the end of an article in the Tel Aviv daily newspaper Ha'aretz Sunday was a very, very interesting quote from Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who has been talking with President George Bush about peace in the region. See

Bush says Federal Marriage Amendment may not be necessary
Yesterday, he was asked if he supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. "I don't know if it's necessary yet," Bush said (video | audio). "Let's let the lawyers look at the full ramifications of the recent Supreme Court hearing. What I do support is the notion that marriage is between a man and a woman." See

White House to Congress: Let religious organizations use religion in hiring decisions
In a position paper released to members of Congress, the White House says "religious hiring rights" are part of faith-based organizations' civil rights, and should not be restricted even if the organizations receive public money. See

'Guidance, not a sermon' | Cornerstone Festival offers a view of God as a creative muse (Peoria Journal Star, Ill.). See

Sojourners editor wants to inspire people to improve the world | The biggest conflict facing people of faith today is not between belief and secularism, says Jim Wallis. It's between hope and cynicism. (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.). See

Going It Alone
We should take heed when much of the world says it distrusts us.
By Philip Yancey. See

Christian History Corner: From Beer to Bibles to VBS
How America got its favorite summer tradition.
By Steven Gertz. See

Science in the News


The Dick Staub Interview: Are Darwinists Immoral?
Benjamin Wiker says Darwinism isn't science per se: it's just a reiteration of a 2,300-year-old philosophy. See

Issues 1-20 of Creation/Evolution are now available online at

Frank Sonleitner's Creation/Evolution Update 2001 is now available at
Sonleitner reviews recent scientific advances that bear on the creationism/evolution controversy.

Monkeys link faces and sounds
Humans may have evolved a language skill from primate ancestors.
26 June 2003 See

New Look at Human Evolution. Reading the cracked brown fragments of fossils and sequences of DNA, scientists have found clues that the story of human origins has more convolutions than previously thought. The account of our shared human heritage now includes more controversial plot twists and mysteries. See

A flexible theory of evolution  Nature July 3, 2003 p.16
GERDIEN DE JONG AND ROSS H. CROZIER review Developmental Plasticity and Evolution by Mary Jane West-Eberhard doi:10.1038/424016b Full Text (members only).

Evolutionary biology: Polygamy and parenting Nature July 3, 2003 p.23
In most animal groups, females put more effort into rearing children, and males compete for female attention. But what about seahorses and pipefish, in which males invest the most in offspring? doi:10.1038/424023a Full Text (members only).

A hair-raising theology lesson | The message of The Million Volt Man: Science actually provides evidence of a divine plan for creation (Daily Herald, suburban Chicago). See

Few contenders so far for creationist's reward for proof of evolution | Kent Hovind has a quarter of a million dollars burning a hole in his pocket. He'll give it to anyone who can convince him that evolution is more than just a theory. (Stars & Stripes). See

Darwin faces a new rival | A Roseville high school parent urges that 'intelligent design' also be taught in biology (The Sacramento Bee). See

Evolution vs. creation | The debate continues to flourish (The Express-Times, Penn.). See

Lehigh professor shakes up Darwinists | In his research, Michael Behe concluded Darwin's evolution did not hold up for molecules. (The Express-Times, Penn.). See

Putting belief aside: pragmatism versus the Bible | "A necessary evil" is how Richard Edlin, a Christian educator and advocate of parent-controlled schools, views the Higher School Certificate examinations (The Sydney Morning Herald). See

Schools must spark thinking | The Shawnee Mission School District should be commended for its handling of the Inherit the Wind controversy (Jay Sjerven, The Kansas City Star). See

Science and religion cease fire | The Biotechnology Industry Organization and the National Council of Churches signed a pact here to open channels of communication between them about the promise and potential perils of biotechnology (Wired News). See,1282,59395,00.html

Observational Concessions of Young-Earth Cosmology An audio Hugh Ross discussion at

29+ Evidences for Macroevolution. Creationists continually claim that there is no evidence for macroevolution. This section of the archive provides more than 29 examples, none of which are simply an extrapolation from "microevolution." This update focuses on the evidence for common descent from vestigial structures, a commonly misunderstood concept. See

Human genome (30 Jun) - Stored in the human genome, perhaps, is the record of human evolution and existence on this planet. Many say, however, that this history and the benefits it may unfold for human health cannot be found in the single, essentially complete human sequence--99.9% similar to any other human sequence. It's the 0.1% difference that should tell the tale--not only of migration, war, technological achievement, and conquest--but also of the differences that confer susceptibility to complex, multigenic diseases. See

Unlocking the Mystery of Life, a documentary about the "intelligent design" movement cowritten by Stephen C. Meyer, Director and Senior Fellow of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, is airing on individual PBS stations across the country. Because NCSE has received many inquiries about Unlocking, we have added a section to our web site for information and opinions about it: See


The true meaning of Jesus: a matter of faith, not of history | Scholarship questioning the Gospels' events amplify deeper meaning (Craig Eisendrath, The Baltimore Sun) See,0,3597771.story?coll=bal-artslife-books

Lost, found treasures showcased in Baghdad
National Museum offers a peek at the Nimrud collection.
Priceless gold jewelry from 900 B.C. - including large bracelets, necklaces, and a crown inlaid with images of winged girls - went on display briefly yesterday as the Iraqi National Museum opened its doors for the first time since the war. See

Raided Lost Ark returns home | A replica of the Biblical Ark of the covenant, or tabot, has been taken back to Ethiopia and an Irish doctor was responsible (BBC). See

Pharaoh's chariots found in Red Sea? | 'Physical evidence' of ancient Exodus prompting new look at Old Testament (WorldNetDaily). See For problems in Ron Wyatt's discoveries see

Scholars defend authenticity of biblical-era artifact | "What you have here is a case of dueling scholars," says Ben Witherington III (United Methodist News Service) See

Looking for a cross to bear? Check eBay | None of the nearly 95,000 of us who trooped to the Royal Ontario Museum and examined the box that had supposedly contained the bones of Jesus' brother James was surprised to hear it's been declared a fake (Slinger, The Toronto Star) See

Vatican puts museum collection online | Site allows visitors to take a virtual reality tour of some of the dozen museums and galleries that make up the Vatican collection, zooming in on a frescoed panel in the Raphael Rooms or viewing Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel with a three-dimensional video (Associated Press). See

Dead Sea Scrolls on Display Outside Israel. June 18, 2003 — Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, considered one of the greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th century, went on display in a Montreal museum Tuesday, the first time they have been out of Israel. See

Brother of Jesus Ossuary
New Tests Bolster Case for Authenticity Edward J. Keall
The “James, brother of Jesus” bone box cracked last fall on its way to its first public exhibit. But there was a silver lining: During restoration, the box underwent a series of scientific tests. Read the results in this BAR exclusive! See

William G. Dever
You wouldn’t think that agreeing on a name for the intersection of Biblical studies and archaeology would be so difficult—but it is. A senior excavator describes the ideological battles that make finding a name so difficult. See

Literacy in the Time of Jesus
Alan Millard
Could the words of Jesus have been recorded in his lifetime? Based on how common writing was and on the variety of writing materials used, the answer is a surprisingly strong “Yes.” See

Archaeology(2 Jul) -  A cavern resplendent with Aboriginal cave art encompassing 4000 years is being hailed in Australia as the most important find in half a century. The cave was discovered by a backpacker in a remote and almost inaccessible part of Wollemi National Park in New South Wales. See


Foam is 'most probable cause' of Columbia's breakup
It is investigators' strongest statement on the Feb. 1 shuttle disaster. A final report is due in July.
In their strongest statement on the Columbia disaster, investigators said yesterday that flyaway foam was "the most probable cause" of the wing damage that brought down the space shuttle almost five months ago.
( By Marcia Dunn, Associated Press, 06/25/2003 03:01 AM EDT)See

Meteorite Reveals Signs of Life from Space. June 26 — Unique carbon building blocks of life called fullerenes did indeed crash to Earth in meteorites, new British research has found. The work by Peter Harris from Reading University has provided the first direct evidence of fullerenes — a special type of carbon molecule associated with the origins of life — in meteorite samples. The analysis of samples from the Allende meteorite which fell on Mexico in 1969 is published this week online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. See

Vast Conveyer Belts Drive 11-Year Cycle Of Solar Maximum. See

Flying Shotgun In Deep Space. Huntsville - Jun 30, 2003 - The solar system is littered with clouds of dust--some of them uncharted. Earth encounted one such cloud last Friday, June 27th. writes Dr. Tony Phillips in his latest report for NASA Science News. See

New Gemini Spectrograph Rivals View From Space. London - Jul 02, 2003 - Gemini Observatory's new spectrograph, without the help of adaptive optics, recently captured images that are among the sharpest ever obtained of astronomical objects from the ground. See

Gamma-Ray Detectives Close In On 30-Year Old Mystery. Paris (ESA) Jul 2, 2003 - Cold War intrigue, international politics and hi-tech astronomy were the key ingredients for one of the most amazing and mysterious scientific discoveries of all time, which took place exactly 30 years ago. See

Universe Slightly Simpler Than Expected. Gainesville - Jun 23, 2003 - The universe just became a little less mysterious. Using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers at the University of Florida have concluded that two of the most common types of galaxies in the universe are in reality different versions of the same thing. See

Astronomers Find 'Home From Home' - 90 Light Years Away. Liverpool - Jul 03, 2003 - Astronomers looking for planetary systems that resemble our own solar system have found the most similar formation so far. British astronomers, working with Australian and American colleagues, have discovered a planet like Jupiter in orbit round a nearby star that is very like our own Sun. See

Far planet could have Earthlike relative
Astronomers say the orbit of the gas giant suggests a solar system very similar to our own.
Another planet has been added to the list of 100 or so worlds that astronomers have discovered around distant stars - but unlike all those other planets, this one is in a solar system that might be capable of supporting another Earth. See


New Cancer Treatment: June 14, 2003 — A new cancer treatment pioneered in Australia is to be trialled by top hospitals in Europe and the United States after being hailed a major breakthrough by a Washington conference, its developers said Tuesday. The treatment, which could be available within two years, stimulates the body's immune system to make it produce more T-cells to fight cancer and, potentially, HIV/AIDS. See

Science can create babies from unborn mothers | Experts and campaigners fear the consequences of breaching an ethical boundary (The Times, London). See,,2-730962,00.html

Embryology (3 Jul) - An experiment that created human "chimeras" by merging male and female embryos in a test tube was condemned yesterday as scientifically vacuous and ethically questionable by leading proponents of research into IVF. See

A new blow to hormone therapy
Menopausal hormone therapy, long linked to a slight increase in breast cancer risk, also makes mammograms less reliable and may delay diagnosis of breast cancer. Those findings, published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, are the latest bad news about estrogen-progestin therapy. See

Drug is found to limit risk of prostate cancer
( By Rob Stein, Washington Post, 06/25/2003 03:01 AM EDT) A drug used to fight baldness and enlarged prostates also protects against prostate cancer, offering the first way men can cut their risk for this major cancer killer, researchers reported yesterday. See

Brain Images Highlight How People Feel Pain When it comes to pain, some people are tougher than others. New findings suggest that these differences are all in the head. Researchers have shown for the first time that variation in how people perceive pain results from differences in brain activity. See

Benefits of vitamin pills still up in the air
A task force found too little evidence to prove or deny the supplements prevent some diseases.
There is not enough evidence to either recommend or reject the use of vitamin supplements to reduce the risks of cancer and heart disease, an influential government advisory panel says. See

Will wonder drug never cease?
Aspirin, a drug that's been in family medicine cabinets for more than a century now, keeps revealing new tricks. In just the last six months, studies have linked the venerable pain medication with prevention of recurrent strokes in African Americans and lower rates of colon cancer, leukemia and breast cancer. See

Male Y Chromosome Here to Stay. June 20, 2003 — The human male chromosome does have the ability to repair itself and may not be headed for extinction as had previously been thought, according to a surprising new study. See also

Scientists Find What Type Of Genes Affect Longevity. San Francisco - Jun 30, 2003 - About 200 genes identified Tracing all the genetic changes that flow from a single mutation, UCSF scientists have identified the kinds of genes and systems in the body that ultimately allow a doubling of lifespan in the roundworm, C. elegans. Humans share many of these genes, and the researchers think the new findings offer clues to increasing human youthfulness and longevity as well. See

Bone mimic makes anti-decay fillings
Smart cement swaps ions with saliva to keep cavities at bay.
30 June 2003 See

Stem cells enable paralysed rats to walk
The findings suggest embryonic stem cells could have a valuable role to play in treating spinal injuries. See

From the laboratory to your plate
Genetically modified food is big business for Monsanto Co. and its scientists.
Americans may not know it, but most eat genetically modified food daily. Two Midwestern scientists are largely responsible. Eighty percent of the nation's soy crop is genetically engineered with a gene from a hardy bacterium that makes soy resistant to a popular weed killer. Fully one-third of U.S. corn contains a gene from another bacterium that kills bugs. See

Earth Science

Deep below ground, bacterium feasting on toxic waste is found
Scientists have identified a microbe that gobbles up toxic waste deep underground, offering a potential way to clean up a particularly nasty chemical that has contaminated the water underneath hundreds of the nation's industrial and military sites. See

Behavior Of Arctic Ocean Ridge Confounds Predictions. Arlington - Jun 30, 2003 - The discovery that an ocean ridge under the Arctic ice cap is unexpectedly volcanically active and contains multiple hydrothermal vents may cause scientists to modify a decades-long understanding of how ocean ridges work to produce the Earth's crust. See

AGI Launches Earth Science World ImageBank. Alexandria - Jun 30, 2003 - Do you want to include a scenic mountain photo in a presentation? Or show a picture of an erupting volcano to your students? The American Geological Institute (AGI) is proud to announce the launch of the Earth Science World ImageBank, a free service, with high-quality, fully-indexed images. See

Carbon loss by deciduous trees in a CO2-rich ancient polar environment Nature 7/3/03 p.60 DANA L. ROYER, COLIN P. OSBORNE & DAVID J. BEERLING First paragraph  See

Ginkgo is living fossil
Ancient plants mirror modern trees.
19 June 2003 See


Experiments Validate 50-Year-Old Liquid Metal Hypothesis. Huntsville - Jul 02, 2003 - NASA-funded researchers recently obtained the first complete proof of a 50-year-old hypothesis explaining how liquid metals resist turning into solids. See

Pentaquark discovery confounds sceptics
A brand sub-atomic new particle - whose mass was predicted six years ago - is detected at labs in Japan and the US. See 

Learning A Little More About Nothing, Gets Thrown A Spin. Newport News - Jul 03, 2003 - Measurements taken using Jefferson Lab's CEBAF Large Acceptance Spectrometer (CLAS) are telling us more about how matter is produced from "nothing," that is, the vacuum. See


Opposites do not attract in mating game
People search for partners of similar income, attractiveness and education, suggests new research - stability may be the reason. See

Schizophrenia (1 Jul) - People at risk of developing schizophrenia may soon be identified years before they develop any symptoms, psychiatrists have said. See

Development - education (23 Jun) - Constructivist pedagogy draws on Piaget's developmental theory. Because Piaget depicted the emergence of formal reasoning skills in adolescence as part of the normal developmental pattern, many constructivists have assumed that intrinsic motivation is possible for all academic tasks. This paper argues that Piaget's concept of a formal operational stage has not been empirically verified and that the cognitive skills associated with that stage are in fact "biologically secondary abilities" (Geary and Bjorklund, 2000) culturally determined abilities that are difficult to acquire. Thus, it is unreasonable to expect that intrinsic motivation will suffice for most students for most higher level academic tasks. See


Harvesting Hydrogen Fuel from Plants Gets Cheaper. A major roadblock to widespread use of hydrogen-powered electric vehicles, which emit water vapor as a byproduct and could cut greenhouse gas emissions substantially, is the cost and trouble associated with producing a suitable supply of hydrogen. Last year scientists reported having developed a technique to harness the fuel from biomass, but the catalyst required for the reaction was too expensive to be commercially viable. The same researchers have now discovered a different catalyst that works just as well--at a fraction of the cost. See


New Species Discovered in Bolivia. June 27, 2003 — Seven species previously unknown to science — two frogs, two snakes, a pair of toads and a new lizard — were recently discovered in the mountains of Bolivia, said the BP Conservation Programme in a recent press release. See

Scientists ponder mysterious beached remains

19th Century Museum Specimens Help Plan Reintroduction Of Endangered Tiger Beetle
Examining the DNA of museum specimens can fill information gaps caused by the lack of living animals in key locations. This is what two scientists have done to help guide the reintroduction of the Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle into areas from which it has been wiped out by human activity. See