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May 18, 2003

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Religion in the News

SARS Comes to Church. The deadly illness has changed Asia's church life, but the uncertainty is bringing people to Christ. By Anil Stephen in Hong Kong. See

Gracia Burnham's Book Throws Philippine Government into Turmoil. President orders investigation into claims that military and rebels colluded. But former missionary hostage says, "I am not pointing an accusing finger at anyone." By Ted Olsen. See

Southern Baptist International Mission Board terminates 13 missionaries who wouldn't sign statement
Trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board fired 13 missionaries who refused to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message by the May 5 deadline issued by IMB president Jerry Rankin. Twenty other missionaries tendered their resignation instead of signing, and 10 others chose early retirement. See

Missionaries' killer gets death penalty
Abed Abdul Razak Kamel who confessed to killing three IMB missionaries at the Jibla Baptist Hospital in Yemen, was sentenced to death yesterday. He'll probably face a firing squad. See

The Dick Staub Interview: John Ortberg's Freak Show. Churchgoers' attempts to be average are killing them, says the Willow Creek pastor. See

Focus on the Family Focuses on Christianity Today.

Education Department shows grace to schools on prayer issue
Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, all schools in the country had until Tax Day to certify that they follow guidelines protecting prayer and other religious activities. But the Associated Press reports that initial responses showed "dozens of schools out of compliance." More specifically, 150 to 200 school districts in five states (Arizona, California, Ohio, Illinois, and New York) don't comply with the federal guidelines. Three states and the District of Columbia haven't filed compliance reports. See

President of Toccoa Falls College resigns after student journalist uncovers errors on résumé. See

Forget sci-fi and guns - The Matrix is really about religion (BBC). See also Looking for God in The Matrix. Neo's return reminds us that a fallen world full of people is a world worth saving. By Greg Garrett. See

New life breathed into Church | The world's first inflatable church opened its Gothic doors to worshippers yesterday to reveal a blow-up organ, a polyvinyl pulpit, altar, pews and fake stained glass windows (The Daily Telegraph, London). See

Spirituality protects against end-of-life despair | Among people with less than three months to live, U.S. investigators found that those with a strong sense of spiritual well-being were less likely than others to feel hopeless, want to die, or consider suicide (Reuters). See

Bible Codes II. The latest and most egregious example of the (mis)use of science in the (dis)service of religion is Michael Drosnin's Bible Code II, enjoying a lucrative ride on the New York Times best-seller list, as did the 1997 original. 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?" See

Army Ants Have Defied Evolution For 100 Million Years. Ithaca - May 12, 2003 - Army ants, nature's ultimate coalition task force, strike their prey en masse in a blind, voracious column and pay no attention to the conventional wisdom of evolutionary biologists. See

Male Pregnancy May Spur Seahorse Speciation. No one could accuse a seahorse of being a hands-off father. That's because males are the ones that carry the young. New findings suggest that male pregnancy not only takes the load off female seahorses, it can also drive the development of new species. See

Malaria mosquitoes' secret revealed
Mutation study uncovers key to insecticide resistance. See

Creationism (12 May) - The Vardy Foundation's announcement that it is to open six new schools has sparked fresh debate over the teaching of creationism. Evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins called the plans 'educational debauchery'. See,12900,953742,00.html


Former U.S. ambassador tries to block book on Paul's shipwreck
Bob Cornuke of the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institute isn't a typical biblical archaeologist. A former police officer and SWAT team member who very consciously models himself on Indiana Jones, he claims to have discovered the "real Mt. Sinai," the "real Mt. Ararat," and has gone searching for the Ark of the Covenant and Pharoah's chariots in the Red Sea. But it's Conuke's search for the apostle Paul's shipwreck that landed him in court. According to a lawsuit, Cornuke found a Maltese fisherman with ancient lead anchors that the explorer/archaeologist believed were from the apostle's ship. But the fisherman wouldn't talk; confessing to owning the anchors could land him in prison under Malta's antiquities laws. See

Human DNA Neanderthal-Free. May 12, 2003 — Neanderthals did not contribute to the gene pool of modern humans, according to a recent study that compared the DNA of two ancient Cro-Magnons with that of four Neanderthals. While Neanderthals and early humans coexisted in Europe for a few thousand years 40,000 years ago, the findings suggest they did not interbreed, an action that would have made Neanderthals a direct ancestor of modern humans. The study also supports the "Out of Africa" theory. According to this view, modern humans evolved in East Africa and then spread into Europe and Asia through the Middle East. See

War On Germs Gets Cutting-Edge Weapon From Ancient World. Alexandria - May 14, 2003 - Ancient Egyptians used it to keep food supplies safe from fungus and mold. The Phoenicians used it to keep water from being spoiled by germs. Today silver is a key ingredient in new high-tech, powder coated finishes that hospitals and doctor's offices are using to protect walls, counters and other germ-gathering surfaces. Tomorrow those finishes may be used in home kitchens, bathrooms and on a wide variety of surfaces such as doorknobs, handles and push panels. See


Japanese Spacecraft On Four-Year Journey To Bring Home Asteroid Samples. Tokyo (AFP) May 09, 2003 - A Japanese spacecraft blasted off Friday on an ambitious four-and-a-half-year journey to bring asteroid samples back to Earth for the first time. The mid-size solid-fuel M-5 rocket, carrying an unmanned MUSES-C probe, lifted off from the Kagoshima Space Centre in the southern Japanese town of Uchinoura at 1:29 pm (0429 GMT) as scheduled. 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

New Mars Water Theory Looks at Wind. May 7, 2003 — Mars' most celebrated watery feature may not from water at all, but from wind, says a geologist who has found the driest, dustiest explanation yet for Martian gullies. See

Brighter Neptune Suggests A Planetary Change Of Seasons
Springtime is blooming on Neptune! This might sound like an oxymoron because Neptune is the farthest and coldest of the major planets. But NASA Hubble Space Telescope observations are revealing an increase in Neptune's brightness in the southern hemisphere, which is considered a harbinger of seasonal change, say astronomers. See


DNA Barcodes Catalogue Animals
A short genetic sequence is enough to identify almost any species. See

DNA from dung
New, non-invasive collection, extraction, and amplification protocols provide high quality DNA from animal dung. These research techniques will enable a broad application of genetic analysis, particularly with regard to endangered, elusive, or aggressive species. See

Electricity extracted from grape
Researchers prove plants or animals could power tiny sensors. See

Fetus Heart Races When Mom Reads Poetry; New Findings Reveal Fetuses Recognize Mother’s Voice In-utero
New research findings on the ability of a fetus to recognize its mother's voice and even distinguish it from other female voices confirms what scientists have speculated about for more than 20 years - that experiences in the womb help shape newborn preferences and behaviour. See

Earth Science

Evidence For Potassium As Missing Heat Source In Planetary Cores. Minneapolis - May 13, 2003 - There's a small problem with Earth's magnetic field: It should not have existed, as Earth's rock record indicates it has, for the past 3.5 billion years. Motions in the Earth's molten iron core generate convection currents--similar to boiling water--which produce the field. See also

Fossilized Meteorites Reveal Spectacular Ancient Showers over Earth. Meteor showers such as November's Leonids usually provide a good celestial show as tiny bits of dust and rock debris burn up, creating flashes of light across the sky. A new analysis of fossilized meteorites indicates that approximately 480 million years ago, the spectacle would have been even more dramatic. See

Journey to centre of Earth proposed
The wacky scheme would need the world's largest nuclear bomb and enough iron to fill 13 large concert halls. See

Ancient wood points to arctic greenhouse. Chemical analyses of wood that grew in an ancient arctic forest suggest that the air there once was about twice as humid as it is now.

Magnetic probe for rocks, recordings, nanotechnology
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


Personality Is Not Set By 30; It Can Change Throughout Life
Do peoples’ personalities change after 30? They can, according to researchers who examined 132,515 adults age 21-60 on the personality traits known as the “Big Five”: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness and extraversion. These findings are reported in the May issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA). See

Absent fathers linked to teenage pregnancies
Girls from fatherless families become sexually active earlier but the usual explanation - higher family stress - is being challenged. 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


Scientists Fabricate Pliable Electronic Display. For some people, nothing can replace the joy of cracking the spine of a new book or spreading the Sunday paper across the breakfast table. But researchers hope to one day replace traditional ink and paper with electronic displays that bend and fold like paper, yet can also be erased and reused again and again. The development of a flexible electronic ink display just three times the width of a human hair that can be viewed from almost any angle has taken them one step closer to this goal. See

Fancy a walk on the ceiling? Watch out Spiderman, here we come. By examining the extraordinary grip that geckos use to walk up walls and across ceilings, scientists have been able to create a material that can stick objects weighing a few kilograms to ceilings. Future refinements hold the prospect of holding humans aloft too. The secret is making synthetic replicas of the millions of tiny little hairs found on geckos' feet. See


Earliest Domesticated Dogs Uncovered. May 8, 2003 — The skulls of two Stone Age dogs believed to be the earliest known canines on record have been found, according to a team of Russian scientists. The dog duo, which lived approximately 14,000 years ago, appear to represent the first step of domestication from their wild wolf ancestors. See

Giant Jellyfish Lurks in Pacific. May 12, 2003 — Sea monsters still lurk off the coast of California, and the latest to come to the attention of marine biologists is a huge red jellyfish nicknamed Big Red. The new jelly reaches a full meter in diameter and has only arms and no tentacles, making it a strange beast indeed. Not only is Big Red a new species, said jelly specialist George Matsumoto of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, but it’s a new genus and subfamily as well. See