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Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies

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June 1, 2003

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Last week I was away for the holidays, and I was not able to send out a newsletter. This newsletter covers two weeks so it is longer than usual.

Religion in the News

Survival Through Community. An interview with Charles Colson, author of Being the Body. By David Neff. See

Conservative religious groups rejoice as Senate passes AIDS bill
Early Friday morning, the U.S. Senate passed the House's Global AIDS Bill, which triples the country's anti-AIDS expenditures to $15 billion. See

No Strings Attached. Christians seek to balance relief work and evangelism in Iraq. By Dawn Herzog and Deann Alford. See

The New York Times focuses on evangelical attempts to "woo" Muslims
In May 2002, Mother Jones ran a cover article titled, "False Prophets: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Aims to Eliminate Islam." The shocking revelation of the article was that evangelical missionaries, in a "stealth crusade," are serving in Muslim countries and sharing their faith. It reported that the mission was to "wipe out Islam." See

Supreme Court Will Take on 'Blaine Amendments' See

Will Canada ban the Bible?
A year after a member of the Canadian Parliament proposed a bill that Christians say could censor Scripture, the mainstream media are finally catching up. See

Gracia Burnham: 'I Speak My Mind'. The former hostage talks openly about what she learned about God, her Muslim captors, and herself during her captivity. An exclusive interview with Gracia Burnham. See

Haitians say ancient religion is often misunderstood | Though Catholicism is the dominant organized religion in Haiti, voodoo is widely practiced in the country (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.). See

Religious freedom for teachers on trial in Pennsylvania | In Pennsylvania, the church-state question is made more complicated by a 19th century law that originally had nothing to do with religious tolerance (Voice of America). See

Why We Are Drawn to The Matrix. Chris Seay, coauthor of The Gospel Reloaded, says the first movie was about finding belief and the second looks at walking that path. See

The Prayer of Bruce
Instead of using one of those 555 phone numbers like you see in most movies, the creators of Bruce Almighty decided to use a more realistic-sounding phone number for God. It turns out the number was too realistic—it actually exists in many states—usually on mobile phones. Now the owners of those phones are getting inundated with calls for God. See Review of the movie at

Christianity Today Book Awards 2003. Evangelical leaders in numerous disciplines choose the year's top titles. See

Countdown to the end times | The world's demise gets lots of ink—and debate (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). See

'God's Secretaries': Blessed Are the Phrasemakers | Adam Nicolson recounts the story of a committee that actually accomplished something: the King James Version (Christopher Hitchens, The New York Times Book Review) See

An atheist loses faith | The fall in churchgoing opens up a troubling void in society (Ruaridh Nicoll, The Observer). See,6903,958558,00.html

Science in the News


Chimpanzees are human, say Wayne State University scientists
After finding 99.4 percent correlation between "key genes" in humans and chimpanzees, scientists from the Wayne State University School of Medicine say it's time to start monkeying with taxonomy. Chimpanzees, they say, should be considered humans and placed in the Homo genus under the Hominid family. They're currently part of the Pongidae family, which include other apes. But the researchers' argument seems to suggest that it's humans who should be moved, not chimps. "We humans appear as only slightly remodeled chimpanzee-like apes," says the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Anatomy professor Morris Goodman, one of the study's authors, admits that part of his motivation for the change is political advocacy. "The loss of the [wild] chimp and gorilla seems imminent," he says. "Moving chimps into the human genus might help us to realize our very great likeness, and therefore treasure more and treat humanely our closest relative." See also

Neandertals Not among Our Ancestors, Study Suggests. The story of where modern humans came from has never been cut-and- dried, but two theories occupy the forefront of the debate. According to the Out of Africa model, Homo sapiens arose as a new species approximately 150,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa and went on to replace archaic humans such as the Neandertals. The multiregional evolution model, in contrast, holds that archaic populations, the Neandertals among them, contributed to the modern human gene pool. A new analysis lends support to the former model, suggesting that moderns replaced Neandertals without interbreeding. See also

Neanderthals (1 June) - Research suggests the so-called brutes fashioned tools, buried their dead, maybe cared for the sick and even conversed. But why, if they were so smart, did they disappear? See

DNA Fragments Help Trace Migration Routes Of Modern Humans. Stanford - May 28, 2003 - Human beings may have made their first journey out of Africa as recently as 70,000 years ago, according to a new study by geneticists from Stanford University and the Russian Academy of Sciences. See

Mammalian microevalution: Rapid change in mouse mitochondrial DNA 
Wild mice around Chicago may have switched genotype to keep pace with modern living. also

Evolutionary genomics: Splicing and evolutionary change: See

Exploring the divide Science, religion find common ground at conference (The Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.) See,1713,BDC_2477_1985520,00.html


Christian archaeologist digs into Bible meaning | Author, scholar Jim Fleming speaks at local church conference (The Huntsville Times, Ala.). As a Christian, Dr. Jim Fleming believes the Bible is the word of God. As an archaeologist, Fleming says modern interpretations of the Bible often differ from the original meaning. "The problem is that it (the Bible) is taken literally in our language and culture," said Fleming, who conducted a three-day biblical archaeological conference this week at Cove United Methodist Church. "I have a great respect for the Scriptures. I'm conservative in areas the Scriptures are conservative, and liberal in the areas the Scriptures tell us to be liberal."  See

Rome Named After A Woman? By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News. May 15, 2003 — A fragment of writing by Stesichorus, a Graeco-Sicilian poet who wrote not long after Rome's founding, suggests Rome was named after a Trojan woman called Roma. The fragment, rediscovered and embraced by growing numbers of Italians today, challenges the popular legend that Romulus was Rome's founder. Stesichorus (638-555 B.C.) described how Roma, with her Trojan fleet, fled the war-torn city of Troy. They arrived in a beautiful place where visitors were "enticed to dream while being caressed by the off-shore breeze." Roma and her entourage, captivated by the idyllic spot, did not desire to leave. She had all of her ships burned. The happily stranded group then named the place after Roma. Eleanor Leach, professor of classics at Indiana University, Bloomington, told Discovery News that the story is also recounted in a 5th century historical narrative entitled "Roman Antiquities" by the Greek writer Dionysius of Halicarnassus. He referred to the woman as Rhome, which means "power" in Greek. See

Tiberias archaeological digs uncover the remains of 12th century Crusader fortress | Portions of the wall are also believed to have come from a public structure from the Roman era (Ha'aretz, Tel Aviv). See

An untended treasure | Nineveh in Mosul today is largely an untended treasure, suffering from years of neglect, haphazard excavation and periodic looting and vandalism (The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash.). See

Oldest sculpture' found in Morocco. A 400,000-year-old stone object unearthed in Morocco could be the world's oldest attempt at sculpture. That is the claim of a prehistoric art specialist who says the ancient rock bears clear signs of modification by humans. See

Pompeii Frescoes Explore Virtual Reality. May 28, 2003 — Pompeian frescoes show startling evidence of what may have been a primitive form of virtual reality, according to British researchers who have uncovered elaborate three-dimensional wall paintings depicting theater scenes. See

Found: The Garden of Eden (TLC)
Use our interactive map to discover where experts believe the original paradise was located. See also
Meet Adam's Other Wife
Compare Genesis' TWO Creation Stories
See Eden Portrayed in Art
Explore Creation Myths of Different Cultures
What the Expert Says About Eden
Which Creation Story Do You Believe?

Grounds for disbelief: Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein and his colleagues are stirring controversy with contentions that many biblical stories never happened, but were written by what he calls `a creative copywriter' to advance an ideological agenda. By Aviva Lori. See


Mapping The Hidden Universe. Cardiff - May 14, 2003 - Astronomers from Cardiff University are completing the first survey ever for cosmic hydrogen, the primeval gas which emerged from the Big Bang to form all the stars and galaxies we can see today. See

Chaos Explains Origin Of New Moons. Bristol - May 19, 2003 - The ability to understand how small bodies such as moons switch from orbiting the Sun to orbiting a planet has long remained one of the outstanding problems of planetary science. A paper published in Nature on 15 May shows how this problem has been resolved using chaos theory, enabling scientists to predict where astronomers might search for new moons orbiting the giant planets. See

A Deep Space Exploration Extravaganza Set To Unfold. Pasadena - May 20, 2003 - Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. are ramping up for an era of unprecedented space exploration. The Lab is poised to launch and direct a fleet of space probes that will, among many other things, crash into the heart of a distant comet, snatch particles of the solar wind, rove across Mars to search for evidence of liquid water, and descend through the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan to explore what reminds many scientists of an early Earth. See

Five Spacecraft Join to Solve an Auroral Puzzle. Washington - May 22, 2003 - Five spacecraft have made a remarkable set of observations, leading to a breakthrough in understanding the origin of a peculiar and puzzling type of aurora. Seen as bright spots in Earth's atmosphere and called "dayside proton auroral spots," they are now known to occur when fractures appear in the Earth's magnetic field, allowing particles emitted from the Sun to pass through and collide with molecules in our atmosphere. See

Chandra Provides View Of Universe's Biggest Stellar Construction Site. Boston - May 23, 2003 - Images made by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have revealed two distant cosmic construction sites buzzing with activity. This discovery shows how super massive black holes control the growth of massive galaxies in the distant universe. See

Green Bank Reveals Satellite Of Milky Way In Retrograde Orbit. Green Bank - May 26, 2003 - New observations with National Science Foundation's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) suggest that what was once believed to be an intergalactic cloud of unknown distance and significance, is actually a previously unrecognized satellite galaxy of the Milky Way orbiting backward around the Galactic center. See

Sloan Digital Sky Survey Study Confirms Dark Matter. Las Cruces - May 23, 2003 - A new study using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey provides the most direct evidence yet that galaxies reside at the center of giant, dark matter concentrations that may be 50 times larger than the visible galaxy itself. See

Extremely Large Planet-Forming Disks Around Seven Young Stars. Gainesville - May 27, 2003 - An international team of astronomers has discovered seven extremely large circumstellar disks silhouetted against the forming stars that they surround. These new disks are 10 to 100 times larger than both our solar system and other planet-forming disks that have been imaged previously, suggesting that it may be possible for planets to form at much larger distances from their stars than previously thought. See

Scientists discover new mini galaxies. Sydney (AFP) May 29, 2003 - A team of international scientists on Thursday revealed they had discovered the tiniest galaxies in the universe, so small they were previously mistaken for stars. See

A Close-up Look at the Young Universe
May 28, 2003 | Astronomers using a worldwide array of radio telescopes have delved deep into a galaxy and found what they're calling a "supernova factory" — a superdense star-forming region that has more in common with the ancient early universe than with most galaxies today. See

3-D Map Of Local Space Shows Sun Lies In Middle Of Hole Piercing Galactic Plane
The first detailed map of space within about 1,000 light years of Earth places the solar system in the middle of a large hole that pierces the plane of the galaxy, perhaps left by an exploding star one or two million years ago. See

First-Ever Snapshot Released Of Mother Earth From Mars
Have you ever wondered what you would see if you were on Mars looking at Earth through a small telescope? Now you can find out, thanks to a unique view of our world recently captured by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft currently orbiting the red planet. See


First rat to have key genes altered. Researchers have altered genes in rats to create strains with genetic characteristics of their choosing - a long-sought tool for studying disease. See

Rice Could Spare Diabetics Daily Injections. May 14, 2003 — Japanese laboratories have developed rice plants that could free serious diabetes patients from regular insulin injections by promoting their own bodies' production of the key hormone, researchers said Wednesday. See

World's largest flower opens in Bonn
Thousands gather to see and smell blue whale of botany. See

Stem cells: Harnessing stem cell potential. See

Drug companies (31 May) - Research funded by drug companies is more likely to produce results that favour the sponsor's product than research funded by other sources, claim researchers in this week's British Medical Journal. See

Atkins Diet Shows Surprising Results, Researcher Says; One-year Study Shows Diet May Be As Effective And Safe As Conventional Diets
A 3-center study led by researchers at the Weight and Eating Disorders Program of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reports the results of the first controlled trial of the Atkins Diet. The Atkins Diet limits carbohydrates but permits unrestricted amounts of protein and fat. Compared to a conventional, high- carbohydrate, low-calorie approach, Atkins dieters lost twice as much weight at 3 and 6 months but there was no difference between the groups at 1 year. See

The Nature Encyclopedia of Life Sciences, the most comprehensive reference work ever published in the biological sciences. See

Earth Science

Magnetic Probe For Rocks, Recordings, Nanotechnology. David - May 19, 2003 - A technique for studying the magnetic properties of rocks developed by earth scientists at UC Davis is drawing attention from other scientists and the magnetic recording industry. See

Tiny diamonds found in oil
Gemstone building blocks might find uses in drugs or technology. May 16, 2003. Black diamonds found in the Gulf of Mexico might have been formed from crude oil, say researchers. These diamonds are unlikely to be a girl's best friend. They contain just a few dozen carbon atoms, equivalent to less than a billion billionth of a carat. But the molecules, called diamondoids, could have practical uses. Artificial versions are already used in drugs to treat Parkinson's disease and viral infections. The tiny diamonds could also provide molecular-scale girders for nanotechnology. See

Venezuela Diamonds Have Deep Oceanic Origin. Toronto - May 21, 2003 - More than just symbols of wealth and beauty, diamonds are a testament to the history of the earth, says U of T professor Daniel Schulze. See

Greenhouse Gas Might Green Up The Desert Says Weizmann Institute. Rehovot - May 14, 2003 - Missing: around 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas charged with global warming. Every year, industry releases about 22 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And every year, when scientists measure the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it doesn't add up – about half goes missing. See

Mantle thermal pulses below the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and temporal variations in the formation of oceanic lithosphere 

Bizarre 'horned' kangaroo fossils unearthed
The first complete skulls are the star finds in the latest cache of fossils from caves in Australia's Nullarbor Plain. See

Geology for the Record
Utah's glacial Lake Bonneville left behind signatures of its Pleistocene existence: deltas, sandbars, shoreline deposits. These relics contain valuable information about the area's changing climate over the past 28,000 years. But that information could be lost to urban growth and the need for resources unless people understand their geologic value. See


The Dark Dimensions Of Deep Time. Gainesville -May 19, 2003 - A team of scientists that includes a University of Florida physicist has suggested that two of the biggest mysteries in particle physics and astrophysics -- the existence of extra time and space dimensions and the composition of an invisible cosmic substance called dark matter -- may be connected. See

Alchemy with light A new technique providing us with the ultimate control over light has been uncovered. It offers a way to shift the frequency of light beams to any desired colour, with almost 100% accuracy. And if the effect can be harnessed, it could revolutionise a range of fields, from turning heat into light, or even into prized terahertz rays - which hold great promise for medical imaging. It could also allow us to focus a wide range of frequencies into a narrow band, make devices such as light bulbs and solar cells more efficient, and help to keep optical telecommunications networks moving. See

Frozen Light May Make Computer Tick Later This Century. Boston - May 22, 2003 - NASA-funded research at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., that literally stops light in its tracks, may someday lead to breakneck-speed computers that shelter enormous amounts of data from hackers. See


Like Fine Wine, Personality Improves with Age. Growing older gives us much to grumble about, but new findings may help to offset those woes: personality, scientists say, appears to improve with age. Some experts argue that personality is genetically programmed to stop changing at a certain age. Others assert that some aspects may morph throughout adulthood, but not much. The new work suggests that personality is plastic and that the changes that come with age are generally for the better. See

Worrying news. People prone to anxiety are more likely to get cancer, suggests a study of over 60,000 people in Norway. The findings add to the controversy over whether purely psychological factors can trigger cancer. One theoretical link is that negative psychological states decrease the efficiency of the immune system, therefore allowing cancer cells to grow undetected. Another study, of people with depression, does indeed reveal dramatic reductions in immune functions. See

Happiness - meditation (22 May) - Buddhists who meditate may be able to train their brains to feel genuine happiness and control aggressive instincts, research has shown. See

Manic depression (21 May) - Important developments in the treatment of manic depression were presented for the first time today at the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) annual meeting, the largest psychiatric congress in the world, which indicate that Seroquel (quetiapine) is an effective, well tolerated and fast-acting treatment for the manic symptoms of manic depression. See

Schizophrenia (15 May) - Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered a genetic flaw in a family suffering with schizophrenia that may help to explain an important biochemical process implicated in the onset of the disease. See

Consciousness (19 May) - There are all sorts of gaps in our conscious experience which has prompted some to argue that we don't actually see the world as it really is. Yes, seriously, could it all be a grand illusion? The conundrum of human consciousness strikes again on All in the Mind. See

Neuroscience - dyslexia(18 May) - Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study brain activity in children, researchers today confirmed part of an eighty-year-old theory on the neurobiological basis of reading disability, and shed new light on brain regions that change as children become accomplished readers. See

Angry kids at greater risk of heart disease
Hostile children are up to three times more prone to key risk factors leading to cardiovascular disease than more serene kids. See

Does research support the claim that condom availability doesn't increase activity? See

Video games boost visual skills
Gamers score off the charts in several standard vision tests, while non-gamers improve dramatically after just 10 hours action.

Infant crying (12 May) - Infants are born into an uncertain parenting environment, which can range from indulgent care of offspring to infanticide. Infant cries are in large part adaptations that maintain proximity to and elicit care from caregivers. There is not strong evidence for acoustically distinct cry types, however, but infant cries may function as a graded signal. See