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June 22, 2003

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Creation Festival 2003

The Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies will have a booth at this year's Creation Festival. It is being held at Hershey Park this year from June 25 to June 28th. Stop by and say hello! For detailed information on Creation 2003 East: See . For additional information on Hershey Park: See .

Religion in the News

Doctrinal Aftershocks
Worldwide Church of God seeks a new start in face of fresh opposition.
By Marshall Allen. See

Avoiding Rights Talk
An interview with David Koyzis, author of Political Visions & Illusions.
By David Neff. See

Many evangelicals side with Israel in Mideast dispute | Critics of the alliance between American Jews and Christian conservatives say they are worried that the partnership is generating too much influence on Capitol Hill and could drown out the Palestinian perspective (Fox News). See,2933,89387,00.html

Uganda's rebels begin attacking churches
Last week, Joseph Kony, head of the Lord's Resistance Army of Uganda, ordered his troops to attack Christians in the northern part of the country. See

Ex-Islam Leader Now a 'Bible-Quoting Baptist'
A one-time fiery younger leader in the Nation of Islam is now a Christian preacher. Conrad Tillard is emerging from "a 5-year metamorphosis that has transformed him from a fist-shaking black nationalist to a Bible-quoting Baptist," "The New York Times" reported. See

A Creative Youth Group Activity That Will Get Your Church Sued
Family alleges "serious, painful and permanent injuries" after persecuted church simulation. Compiled by Ted Olsen

Most Evangelicals Like Harry Potter. Really.

Big Idea Loses Suit
Jury says creator of VeggieTales owes $11 million to ex-distributor.
By Todd Hertz. See

Some claiming group offers empty promises | A Christian-focused male fellowship known for packing arenas across the country will descend on the Pepsi Arena in downtown Albany Saturday, but not everyone is looking forward to the visit (Troy Record, N.Y.). See

Valley stunned by arrest of O'Brien in fatal hit-and-run | Prelate's new calamity throws Arizona's Catholic leadership deeper into limbo and rocks a diocese that has endured months of scrutiny about priests accused of misconduct with children (The Arizona Republic). See

Norma McCorvey files motion to vacate her Roe v. Wade decision
Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion across the U.S., filed a motion this morning in Dallas to reopen and overturn her case. McCorvey, who became a prolife Christian in the mid-1990s, is backed by the Texas Justice Foundation. See

Deepening crisis as Methodists celebrate Wesley | Overshadowing the 300th anniversary celebrations is the parlous state of the institution, which is struggling with declining numbers, financial difficulties and plunging morale (The Daily Telegraph, London). See

How John Wesley Changed America
His 300th birthday should be a red-letter day on this side of the ocean. After all, we're all Wesleyans now. By Chris Armstrong. See

The heresy that saved a skeptic | What was it, Elaine Pagels wondered, that made Christianity so compelling, despite the obstacles of doctrine? (The New York Times). See

Science in the News


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?" If you can not attend, you can listen by way of the internet. See

Skulls reveal dawn of mankind. Skulls found in Ethiopia are the oldest modern human fossils yet. The 160,000-year-old bones open a valuable window on the birth of Homo sapiens. See

Abundant gene conversion between arms of palindromes in human and ape Y chromosomes Nature 423, p873 (June 19)

Y Chromosomes. As often noted, the genomes of humans and chimpanzees are 98.5 percent identical, when each of their three billion DNA units are compared. But what of men and women, who have different chromosomes? Until now, biologists have said that makes no difference, because there are almost no genes on the Y, and in women one of the two X chromosomes is inactivated, so that both men and women have one working X chromosome. But researchers have recently found that several hundred genes on the X escape inactivation. Taking those genes into account along with the new tally of Y genes gives this result: Men and women differ by 1 to 2 percent of their genomes, which is the same as the difference between a man and a male chimpanzee or between a woman and a female chimpanzee. See and

Colour vision ended human pheromone use
Genetic analysis suggests that being able to see in full colour led our primate ancestors to stop using pheromones to select mates. See also

Sperm competition (18 Jun) - Matthew Gage is an expert in the rapidly advancing field of evolutionary biology. "Sperm competition is an area where all the forces that Darwin recognised are acting at a level that we did not previously appreciate," he says. See

Genetics - evolution (16 Jun) - Researchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering have uncovered evidence that major evolutionary changes are more likely to occur in approximately 400 ‘fragile’ genomic regions that account for only 5 percent of the human genome. The findings, reported in the June 24 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), undercut the widely held view among scientists that evolutionary breakpoints – disruptions in the order of genes on chromosomes – are purely random. See

Evolution - Scientists have found an organelle - an enclosed free-floating specialised structure - inside a primitive cell for the first time. Prokaryotic cells are relatively simple cells, without nuclei, such as bacteria. It is believed they evolved first then absorbed other prokaryotes and became eukaryotes - complex cells that have nuclei and structures like the energy-producing mitochondria. Finding a self-contained organelle inside a prokaryote is a puzzle as it suggests that the evolution of cells - the basic building blocks of higher organisms - may have to be reconsidered. See


Experts Call Biblical Artifact a Fake Israeli Antiquities Authority Says Box Purported to Have Held the Bones of Jesus' Brother a Fake. The officials also declared the "Yoash inscription," another item tied to Golan, as a forgery on Wednesday. ee and

A committee of archaeological experts organized by Israel's Antiquities Authority has unanimously concluded that the inscription on the James Ossuary is a forgery. "The ossuary is real, but the inscription is fake," Shuka Dorfman, director of the Antiquities Authority, told Reuters after a Jerusalem press conference yesterday. "What this means is that somebody took a real box and forged the writing on it, probably to give it a religious significance." Gideon Avni, one of the archaeologists, told CBS News that he believes "this forgery was done sometime in the last decades, maybe in the last years." (A recent Jerusalem Post review runs down other ossuary problems.) Also the Antiquities Authority says that the tablet, known as the Joash Tablet, is a fake, too. Biblical language professor Avigdor Horowitz says the inscription's wording is anachronistic. "The person who wrote the inscription was a person who thinks in modern Hebrew," he told reporters. "A person thinking in biblical Hebrew would see it as ridiculous." See

Biblical Archaeology Review editor Hershel Shanks, and, more importantly, Asbury Seminary New Testament scholar Ben Witherington III. The two have been the biggest cheerleaders for the ossuary, recently publishing a book on it. They are not convinced it is a fake. See

Ossuary Questions Remain
Israel Antiquities Authority says "brother of Jesus" inscription is a forgery, but supporters say its report may be flawed. By Gordon Govier. See

Miracle of the Dead Sea Scrolls | Some of the world's oldest biblical material is about to go on display in Canada for the first time and prove that tattered, 2,000-year-old fragments can still draw a crowd (The Globe & Mail, Toronto). See

'Beyond Belief': Another gospel truth | The reward in Nag Hammadi, Elaine Pagels believes, may be a truer knowledge not only of Christianity, in whatever institutional form, but also of the other great religions (The New York Times). See

'Asteroid impact could have prompted Constantine's conversion' | Scientists have discovered an impact crater dating from the fourth of fifth century in the Italian Apennine mountains. They believe the crater in the Sirente mountains, which is larger than a football field, could explain the legend of Constantine's conversion. It is said the emperor saw an amazing vision in the sky, converted to Christianity on the spot, and led his army to victory under the sign of the cross. (Ananova). See


Headless Comets Survive Plunge Through Sun's Atmosphere.

Moon dates Van Gogh. An astronomical calculation has pinned down the date and time portrayed in one of Vincent Van Gogh's famous paintings. See

Universe can surf the Big Rip. Alternative proposed to dark energy's cosmic doomsday. The end of the world is not so nigh. A Spanish scientist has found a loophole in the suggestion that there might be a Big Rip in the universe about 22 billion years from now. See

The Galactic Odd Couple. The two most powerful phenomena in galaxies are active galactic nuclei (AGNs) and starbursts. The former are intense, concentrated sources of light—probably matter falling into a supermassive black hole. Starbursts are galactic fireworks shows during which stars form at a frenetic pace. Astronomers used to think that AGNs and starbursts, which are often separated by vast distances, had nothing to do with each other. But they have found that the two phenomena tend to occur hand in hand. Does an AGN cause the starburst? Or vice versa? Or are they both caused by some underlying process? The answer will be crucial to understanding the evolution of galaxies. See

Scientists Image The Three- Dimensional Surface Of The Sun. Laurel - Jun 18, 2003 - Solar physicists from Lockheed Martin, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, The Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics of the University of Oslo, and the Institute for Solar Physics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences have analyzed the highest resolution images ever taken near the solar limb (or visible edge of the sun), and found a surprising variety of structure. See

Data Shows Solar Flares 20 Million Degrees Hotter Than Expected. Columbia - Jun 18, 2003 - For scientists who study solar flares, the hottest spots in the solar system just got substantially hotter. The hottest spots in solar flares reach temperatures as much as 20 million degrees Fahrenheit hotter than solar physicists had previously believed, topping out at more than 80 million degrees Fahrenheit. And from about 5 million degrees just before a flare, in less than a minute temperatures in the sun's atmosphere can warm by more than 75 million degrees. See

Powerful 'Conveyer Belts' Drive Sun's 11-year Cycle, New Evidence Suggests
NASA and university astronomers have found evidence that the 11-year sunspot cycle is driven in part by a giant conveyor belt-like, circulating current within the Sun. See

Second black hole may lurk at Milky Way's heart
Astronomers suspect a middleweight black hole is dragging young stars towards the monster black hole at our galaxy's centre. See


BIBLE BASED DIET: A new Bible-based weight loss movement known as Weigh Down is leaving dieters with some enlightening discoveries -- shrinking waistlines. In the faith-based eating plan -- which consists of Bible study, weekly meetings, and a video -- nothing is prohibited. And while the Weigh Down diet may be spiritually based, it was also established on sound nutritional guidelines. See

The Y chromosome
The Y chromosome — containing the genes that make a man — has been sequenced. See

Snuffing out sneezes. For some, the balmy pleasure of a sunny summer is ruined by horribly itchy eyes and endlessly running noses - it's hay fever time. But genetic engineers think they may now have a solution - hypoallergenic grass. The ryegrass, engineered to lack two common hay-fever allergens, is about to enter field trials in the US. The same team have also developed a GM ryegrass that is more digestible than normal grass and could enable cows to produce much more milk. Eventually they hope to combine the two, and say the benefits could start to chip away at opponents skepticism about GM crops. See

Stem Cell Find Spurs Therapy Hopes. June 8, 2003 — Canadian researchers say they have uncovered a new type of adult stem cell that, one day, may be used to generate blood cells to help boost wrecked immune systems. See

Human genetics - intelligence (20 Jun) - Studies imply genes account for about 50 percent of the difference in intelligence from one person to the next. That's a high enough "heritability" that you'd think genome labs would be practically spitting out genes related to intelligence. See

Stroke Risk: Could It Start In The Womb?
Malnourished pregnant women generations ago may account for today's increased stroke risk in certain parts of Britain and the United States, according to a study in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. See

Enzyme May Play Unexpected Role In Asthma
In a finding that could have important implications for the millions of Americans who suffer from asthma, researchers funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have discovered novel sets of genes possibly involved in the disease. See

Earth Science

Second mass extinction linked to impact
About 380 million years ago, a rock from space smashed into the Earth, say geologists. They believe that the impact wiped out a large fraction of life. See  also

Palaeobiology: The missing link in Ginkgo evolution Nature 423, p821 (June 19)
The modern maidenhair tree has barely changed since the days of the dinosaurs. See


Deuteron-Gold Collisions Intensify Search For New Form Of Matter. Upton - Jun 18, 2003 - The latest results from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), the world's most powerful facility for nuclear physics research, strengthen scientists' confidence that RHIC collisions of gold ions have created unusual conditions and that they are on the right path to discover a form of matter called the quark-gluon plasma, believed to have existed in the first microseconds after the birth of the universe. See

Berkeley Lab Physicist Challenges Speed Of Gravity Claim
Albert Einstein may have been right that gravity travels at the same speed as light but, contrary to a claim made earlier this year, the theory has not yet been proven. A scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) says the announcement by two scientists, widely reported this past January, about the speed of gravity was wrong. See


The God of 12 steps | Spiritual component in recovery programs is essential to some, irritating to others (Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City). See,1249,505040006,00.html

Psychopathy (20 Jun) - The levels of two chemicals in the spinal fluid may give doctors extra clues about the presence of psychopathic personality traits.  The findings of a Swedish research team may also bring scientists closer to understanding the root cause of these problems. See

Shyness (19 Jun) - Whether a person avoids novelty or embraces may depend in part on brain differences that have existed from infancy, new findings suggest. When shown pictures of unfamiliar faces, adults who were shy toddlers showed a relatively high level of activity in a part of the brain called the amygdala. Adults who were more outgoing toddlers showed less activity in this brain structure, which is related to emotion and novelty. See

Addiction (18 Jun) - Adolescents are more vulnerable than any other age group to developing nicotine, alcohol and other drug addictions because the regions of the brain that govern impulse and motivation are not yet fully formed, Yale researchers have found. See

Eye Movement Studies To Help Diagnose Mental Illness
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago are studying subtle abnormalities in eye movements that may one day be used to diagnose psychiatric disease. See

UCSD Researchers Identify Gene Involved In Bipolar Disorder
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have identified a specific gene that causes bipolar disorder in a subset of patients who suffer from this debilitating psychiatric illness. See