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September 14, 2003

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Religion in the News

Signs of hope in a secular age
The International Church Council Project is the organizational result of evangelicalism's 25-year process to affirm historical biblical inerrancy and the Bible's historical interpretation on today's heresies. (Tom Terry, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

National Baptist Convention will have impacts
One feature of this year's convention will be to focus on economics and to improve networking among African-Americans. Another session has been set aside to look at health problems peculiar to the black community (The Kansas City Star).

Surveys show opinions of religious and nonreligious folk
Pollsters are finding that Americans' attitudes toward religion, politics, and morals are shifting (David Yount, Scripps Howard News Service)

Promise Keepers head to step down
Bill McCartney, who revealed his decision during a quarterly board of directors meeting, said he wants to care for his ill wife and spend more time with his family (The Denver Post).

Roy Moore criticizes Commandments display
You would think that suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore would be happy about his governor's new display of the Ten Commandments, which was installed Tuesday in the old Supreme Court library room in the Capitol. But he's not. Actually, it's the posting of the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, and the Declaration of Independence along with the Ten Commandments that Moore is upset about.

Graduating in faith
There's an enrollment boom among evangelical Protestant and conservative Roman Catholic colleges as more baby boomers opt for a Christian education for their children (The Washington Times).

West, Meet East
Who Are the Christians in the Middle East? examines millions of forgotten believers.

Uneasy Unity
Christians take different paths as "road map" hits impasse. By Sheryl Henderson Blunt.

Nice guys finish first
Inspired by the Good Book, Max Lucado's books reach heavenly sales levels (Publishers Weekly).  

Church on the Ropes
Why so many are "spiritual, but not Christian" God Outside the Box, reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Christian author explores 'borderlands of belief'
While most best-selling Christian authors have offered answers, Philip Yancey presents questions (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Sermon illustration alert update
Two weeks ago, Weblog noted a New York Times story about thieves who broke into Manhattan's Church of the Holy Cross and worked hard to remove a statue of Jesus from a crucifix before they stole it, leaving the cross behind. (The moral: We sinners want Jesus without the cross.) Today comes a report that the Jesus statue turned up by the garbage in the alley by the church. Police told The New York Times that the garbage had been picked up since the theft, so someone must have brought the statue back. The moral of the story now: When we try to take Jesus into our lives without taking up the cross, we always end up rejecting Jesus in the end.

Science in the News


Molecules of life come in waves
Compounds found in cells show quantum behaviour.

Nuclear DNA sequences detect species limits in ancient moa Nature 425 p.175

Geneticists Show Ripple Effects Of Gene Mutations (September 9, 2003)
When a plane arrives late to an airport, it affects more than just the frustrated passengers on the tardy plane – the ripple effects could throw the entire day's timetable off schedule. Similarly, in a new study, North Carolina State University geneticists have found that changes to genes regulating olfactory behavior in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, a popular insect model for genetics, have far greater implications than previously appreciated.

'Creationism' school opens its door
A new £20m school which will teach biblical creation, opened on Teesside on Monday (BBC).

Critics of biology textbooks draw on think tank
The Discovery Institute, based in Seattle, is trying to persuade the State Board of Education and others around the nation to adopt biology textbooks that point out "weaknesses" in Darwin's theory (Houston Chronicle).

Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Reports New Measurements - Thanks To Table Salt! (September 11, 2003)
In a presentation on Sunday September 7th, at TAUP2003, a major scientific conference in Seattle, Washington, new measurements were reported that strongly confirm the original SNO results announced in 2001 and 2002 that solved the "Solar Neutrino Problem" and go much further in establishing the properties of neutrinos that cause them to change from one type to another in transit to the Earth from the Sun. Young-earth creationists have used the solar neutrino problem to show the sun is young. Answers in Genesis states that this argument can no longer be used.


Radiometric dating of the Siloam Tunnel, Jerusalem Nature (425) 9/11/03 p.169
Siloam Tunnel InscriptionAMOS FRUMKIN, ARYEH SHIMRON & JEFF ROSENBAUM. The historical credibility of texts from the Bible is often debated when compared with Iron Age archaeological finds (refs . 1, 2 and references therein). Modern scientific methods may, in principle, be used to independently date structures that seem to be mentioned in the biblical text, to evaluate its historical authenticity. In reality, however, this approach is extremely difficult because of poor archaeological preservation, uncertainty in identification, scarcity of datable materials, and restricted scientific access into well-identified worship sites. Because of these problems, no well-identified Biblical structure has been radiometrically dated until now. Here we report radiocarbon and U–Th dating of the Siloam Tunnel, proving its Iron Age II date; we conclude that the Biblical text presents an accurate historic record of the Siloam Tunnel's construction. Being one of the longest ancient water tunnels lacking intermediate shafts, dating the Siloam Tunnel is a key to determining where and when this technological breakthrough took place. Siloam Tunnel dating also refutes a claim that the tunnel was constructed in the second century BC. See also,1,3847828.story,, and

Derided tomb earns more reverential study
The site was thought to be the crypt of King David's son Absalom. Now some say it may be that of John the Baptist's father (Los Angeles Times).

Lion man takes pride of place as oldest statue
30,000-year-old carving might be work of Neanderthals or modern humans.


Cosmologists To Plot Strategy For Dark Energy Research Campaign. Chicago - Sep 03, 2003
Cosmologists from around the world will meet at the University of Chicago from Sept. 17 to 20 to thrash out the challenges associated with a series of galactic mapping projects designed to help them better understand dark energy, the mysterious force that works against gravity and seems to be accelerating the expansion of the universe.

Dark Energy May Rip Apart Universe. Sept. 8, 2003
Some say the universe will end in a "Big Crunch," others expect a "Big Chill," and now some physicists are saying the end could be something more like a "Big Kablooie." The new theory, actually called the "Big Rip" by its creators, requires the continuous growth of the universe's "dark energy," which pushes things apart and may account for much of the universe's expansion since the "Big Bang."

Antimatter Factory On Sun Yields Clues To Solar Explosions. Greenbelt - Sep 04, 2003
The best look yet at how a solar explosion becomes an antimatter factory gave unexpected insights into how the tremendous explosions work. The observation may upset theories about how the explosions, called solar flares, create and destroy antimatter. It also gave surprising details about how they blast subatomic particles to almost the speed of light. See also

Astronomers detect sound waves from black hole. Washington (AFP) Sep 10, 2003
For the first time ever, astronomers have detected sound waves coming from a massive black hole in space -- and believe the discovery may help resolve a major mystery, the US space agency said Tuesday.

Dark Gamma-ray Bursts Mystery Speeds Up. Santa Fe - Sep 11, 2003
Astronomers led by an MIT team have solved the mystery of why nearly two-thirds of all gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the Universe, seem to leave no trace or afterglow: In some cases, they just weren't looking fast enough.

Solar System 'Fossils' Discovered By Hubble Telescope (September 8, 2003) — Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered three of the faintest and smallest objects ever detected beyond Neptune. Each lump of ice and rock is roughly the size of Philadelphia and orbits just beyond Neptune and Pluto, where they may have rested since the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.

Scientists Determine Large Magellanic Cloud Galaxy Formed Similar To Milky Way
An astronomer from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in collaboration with an international team of researchers, have discovered that a neighboring galaxy -- the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) -- appears to have formed with an old stellar halo, similar to how our very own Milky Way formed.

Europa's Ice Domes: Elevator Ride For Life? Sept. 5, 2003
Mysterious ice domes on Jupiter's moon Europa, are caused by an upwelling of warmer ice from below, confirm two U.S. researchers, whose findings have implications for discovering past and present life on the planet.

Venus possibly habitable for billions of years
The planet's hellish climate may have arisen far more recently than thought, leaving plenty of time for life to have developed.  


'Shock sheet' squeezes blood to dying brain
A device akin to an inflatable sleeping bag could save heart attack victims by pushing blood from their legs to the heart and brain.

Lens Replacement Material May Improve Cataract Treatment, Eliminate Bifocals (September 10, 2003)
Scientists at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are developing a gel-like material that eventually could be used to replace diseased and aging lenses in the eyes of patients with cataracts.

Potent Toxin Reveals New Antibiotic Resistance Mechanism
More and more, microbes are able to eliminate, modify and sequester the toxic molecules that make up the arsenal of antibiotics.

Targeting Transcription: New Insights Into Turning Genes On
The 35,000 or so genes within a human cell are something like players on a sports team: If their activity isn't controlled and coordinated, the result can be disastrous.

Earth Science

Geologists' periodic table designed
Clever graph shows how Earth's chemicals are linked.

Did Earth Blow Up The Dinosaurs. Cardiff - Sep 11, 2003 - New evidence supports volcanic eruption theory The extinction of the dinosaurs – thought to be caused by an asteroid impact some 65 million years ago – was more likely to have been caused by a 'mantle plume' – a huge volcanic eruption from deep within the earth's mantle, the region between the crust and the core of the earth. See also


Genes point to schizophrenia cells
Faulty cells, not chemistry, may underpin brain disorder. See also a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, University of Cambridge and the Stanley Medical Research Institute appears to offer the first hard evidence that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, severe psychoses that affect 2 percent of the population, may have similar genetic roots. See

Relationships Give Women Longevity. TUESDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDayNews)
Relationships with family and friends may help protect older women against death, and marriage may be the most beneficial relationship of all. So claims a study in the July issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

Early Nicotine Use May Lead To Lasting Addiction, Study Finds (September 10, 2003)
People who begin smoking in their teens may be particularly vulnerable to long-term nicotine addiction, according to an animal study conducted by Duke University Medical Center pharmacologists. The study emphasizes that the age at which individuals begin using nicotine can have a major physiological impact to encourage later use of the drug.

Infrasound (8 Sep)
People who experience a sense of spirituality in church may be reacting to the extreme bass sound produced by some organ pipes. Many churches and cathedrals have organ pipes that are so long they emit infrasound which at a frequency lower than 20 Hertz is largely inaudible to the human ear. But in a controlled experiment in which infrasound was pumped into a concert hall, UK scientists found they could instill strange feelings in the audience at will.


Nanotubes Surprise Again As Ideal Photon Emitter. Rochester - Sep 09, 2003
Carbon nanotubes, recently created cylinders of tightly bonded carbon atoms, have dazzled scientists and engineers with their seemingly endless list of special abilities--from incredible tensile strength to revolutionizing computer chips. In today's issue of Science, two University of Rochester researchers add another feat to the nanotubes' list: ideal photon emission.

New Technique Could Lead To Widespread Use Of Solar Power; Researchers Envision Mass-produced Rolls Of Material That Converts Sunlight To Electricity
Princeton electrical engineers have invented a technique for making solar cells that, when combined with other recent advances, could yield a highly economical source of energy.

Say Goodbye To Your Mouse, Keyboard And Phone Number - Voice Control Is Finally Taking Over
Using phone numbers, remote controls and computer keyboards will likely seem quaint within a decade as new capability to turn human speech into accurate, efficient computer code radically changes the ways we live and work.


Nurseries In The Deep Sea. Moss Landing - Sep 09, 2003
Exploring a deep-sea ridge off Northern California, scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have discovered a unique undersea nursery, where groups of fish and octopus brood their eggs, like chickens on their nests. This is the first time that marine biologists have directly observed any deep-sea fish brooding its eggs.

Young Sea Animals Clone Themselves—century-old Debate Halted (September 11, 2003)
After more than a century of intensive study, scientists have assumed that larvae of non-parasitic invertebrates reproduce only very rarely, but new research by University of Alberta scientists overthrows this conventional wisdom. Graduate student Alexandra Eaves and Dr. Richard Palmer, from the U of A's Faculty of Science, have found that asexual cloning by some marine invertebrate larvae is not as rare and enigmatic a phenomenon as previously assumed.