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February 8, 2004

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Religion in the News

Is the National Prayer Breakfast unbiblical?
Addressing about three thousand attendees at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, President Bush directed his praise to an unlikely object. "All of us believe in the power of prayer. And for a lot of people here in Washington, a prayer has been answered with three words: Coach Joe Gibbs," he said. He went on to praise U.S. troops in Iraq for promoting religious tolerance.

Context muddled remarks, Warner says
Rams quarterback Kurt Warner has attempted to clarify and apologize for remarks he made Sunday in which he suggested that his faith played a part in his benching last season (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

A crossroad for the Catholic Church
What "issues" will frame the election to choose a successor to Pope John Paul II? Chances are they're not what you might think (George Weigel, The Washington Post).

Books & Culture's Book of the Week: The Doom of Choice
Fate, free will, and moral responsibility in Tolkien. Reviewed by David O'Hara.

Magnificence in Wreckage
This series of essays finds hope among New York City lives. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

In God's country
Thanks be to the American atheist: A review of Bryan F. Le Beau's The Atheist: Madalyn Murray O'Hair (Tim Cavanaugh, Reason).

'The Da Vinci Code' unscrambled
The blockbuster thriller has millions taking theology, art and history. Yet many are unsure what's fact and what's fiction. We asked the experts for their reactions and their explanations (Chicago Tribune)

Purpose driven
Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Church is the best book on entrepreneurship, business and investment that I've read in some time (Rich Karlgaard,

The Dick Staub Interview: Craig Detweiler Finds Faith in Film
The co-author of A Matrix of Meanings talks about spirituality on screen.

Christian History Corner: The Blood-and-Fire Mission of the Salvation Army
Where did this tuba-playing, kettle-wielding social force come from, and what's it all about? By Chris Armstrong

Film Forum: Does Saved! Condemn Christian High Schools?

Science in the News

Free Courses offered by Wagner Free Institute of Science:


Ga. school chief backs off evolution plan
School Superintendent Kathy Cox dropped plans Thursday to remove the word "evolution" from Georgia's high school science curriculum, six days after the idea became public and brought forth criticism and ridicule (Associated Press).

'Evolution' should stay in Georgia science standards, governor says
The word "evolution" should stay in the curriculum used for Georgia students, Gov. Sonny Perdue said on Jan. 31 (Associated Press).

Darwinists eager to avoid debate
Last year, in public comments before the Cobb County Board of Education, I witnessed firsthand the danger that can come when personal opinions and philosophical or religious prejudices are allowed into the science classroom (Larry Taylor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Understanding Evolution
The National Center for Science Education and the University of California Museum of Paleontology are pleased to announce the new web site: Understanding Evolution at

Codes of conduct
In The Science of Good and Evil, professional skeptic Michael Shermer tries to find evidence for morality in the natural order (The Washington Post).

The searchers
On the importance of being dubious: A review of Doubt: A History (The Washington Post).

Yeast Mutations Offer Window Into Human Disease
Different combinations of genetic mutations may give rise to diverse human traits, including complex diseases such as schizophrenia, say scientists at the University of Toronto and McGill University in Montreal.


Well-known Israeli Archeologist Casts More Doubt on Authenticity of James Ossuary.
by Dr. Eric Meyers. Ossuary spotted in dealer's shop lacking the “brother of Jesus” element of the inscription.

Study: Red Sea Parting Possible. Feb. 2, 2004
The parting of the Red Sea and the subsequent escape of thousands of Jewish slaves, which is described in the Bible's book of Exodus, can be explained by science, according to two Russian researchers.

Augustus Takes the Cure
David Soren - According to the poet Horace, Augustus (27 B.C.-14 A.D.) bathed in frigidly cold water to ease the pain of an abcessed liver. Since 1995 archaeologists have been excavating a large, spring-fed pool 90 miles northwest of Rome that may well be the spot where the ailing emperor was restored to health.

The Minoans of Crete: Europe’s Oldest Civilization
Deciphering Cretan Scripts - Barry B. Powell. The decipherment of Linear B in 1953, by the English architect Michael Ventris, was one of the great intellectual accomplishments of the 20th century. But Linear B is just one of the scripts known from Bronze Age Crete. Two earlier forms of writing—Cretan hieroglyphics and Linear A—are found on the island. Why haven’t they been deciphered?

Fossilized footprints from Stone Age men found in South Korea. SEOUL
Fossilized footprints from Stone Age men have been discovered for the first time in Asia in South Korea, cultural authorities said on Friday. Some 100 detailed footprints from the Paleolithic Age, which dates back 50,000 years, were found on the southern coast of the southern island of Jeju last October, the Cultural Properties Administration said.

Archeologists Win Court Case. (AP)
Scientists can study the Kennewick Man - 9,300-year-old remains found in Washington state - despite the objections of some American Indian tribes, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Fabulous finds as Saxon king's tomb is unearthed
Burial chamber, believed to date from the early 7th century, contain two gold foil crosses, found which suggest king was a newly-converted Christian (The Scotsman)


Hubble Finds Oxygen, Carbon In Faraway Planet's Atmosphere. Washington (AFP) Feb 03, 2004
The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered the first planet outside the solar system known to have oxygen and carbon in its atmosphere, scientists said Monday. The findings showed that scientists can identify gases in the atmosphere of planets lightyears away from Earth, which could eventually allow researchers to find a planet with an atmosphere that could sustain life.

NASA Gets New Funds For Space Shuttles And Moon Mission. Washington (AFP) Feb 03, 2004
The new US public budget unveiled Monday gives a big boost to spending on efforts to get the US shuttle back in space and to start moves to get manned missions to the moon and Mars. Funding for NASA in fiscal 2005 will rise by 5.6 percent to $16.2 billion. The $866 million increase for the year starting October 1 comes after a decade of stagnation for the space program. Most other government departments saw funding fall.

Planet gets solar hammering
Astronomers propose new planet category for dying gas giants. 4 February 2004

Mars Rover Opportunity Sees Tiny Spheres In Martian Soil.
NASA's Opportunity has examined its first patch of soil in the small crater where the rover landed on Mars and found strikingly spherical pebbles among the mix of particles there.


Migraines Linked to Brain Lesions
Some migraine sufferers may be at an increased risk for brain lesions, according to the results of a new study. The findings could indicate that the debilitating headache is, in certain cases, a progressive brain disease.

Drug may give cells a fresh start
A chemical could switch adult cells from one type to another. 30 January 2004

Protein points to risk of colon cancer
Blood test might replace colonoscopies. 4 February 2004

Calcium Superchargers.
Foods such as yogurts supplemented with fiberlike sugars are developing into the latest wave in functional foods—commercial goods seeded with ingredients that boost their nutritiousness or healthfulness.

Researchers Determine Reason For Deadly Spread Of 1918 Influenza
The explosive spread of the influenza virus during the 1918 pandemic that killed some 20 million people worldwide was likely enabled by the unique structure of a protein on the virus's surface, researchers are reporting. The newly determined structure of the viral protein reveals that the 1918 strain of influenza underwent subtle alterations that enabled it to bind with deadly efficiency to human cells, while retaining the basic properties of the avian virus from which it evolved.

New MS Research Shows Remarkable Findings. Montreal, February 5, 2004
New research findings from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center (MUHC) provide hope for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). "We have identified a key enzyme that triggers MS-like disease in an animal model," says MUHC neuroscientist and Professor of Medicine at McGill University, Dr. Sam David. "We also show that blocking this enzyme has a remarkable effect in preventing disease and relapses."

University Of Chicago Study Overturns Conclusion Of Historic Human Genome Data.
Researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered there is extensive gene "traffic" on the mammalian X chromosome and overturn a conventional theory about how the genes evolved on the sex chromosome.

Seeing How Plants Split Water Could Provide Key To Our Future Energy Needs
The possibility of using the Earth's abundant supply of water as a cheap source of hydrogen is a step closer thanks to researchers from Imperial College London. By mimicking the method plants use to split water, researchers say that a highly energy efficient way to form cheap supplies of hydrogen fuel may be possible in the future.

Earth Science

Mountains Buried Beneath Mississippi. Feb. 2, 2004
There are tremendous mountains to be found in Mississippi, if you dig deep enough. Despite its modern mean elevation of just 300 feet, the state of Mississippi has hidden underground "pristine" 300-million year-old mountains that once towered thousands of feet and ranged all the way to Mexico, say geologists who are getting a clearer picture of the buried Ouachita Mountain range and the ancient collision that created it.

Biological 'Gold Rush' Threatens Antarctica, Experts Warn.


Researchers Unveil New Form of Matter
Scientists have manufactured a new form of matter--a so-called fermionic condensate, which is comprised of pairs of atoms in a gas at temperatures close to absolute zero. Its creators hope it will inform the design of room-temperature superconductors in the future.

Modern alchemists make two new elements
Heavy elements approach fabled 'island of stability'. 3 February 2004

Particle experiment produces abundant hypernuclei
Scientists will use them to learn more about the weak force, as well as the first moments of the Universe's existence.


'Mindsight' could explain sixth sense
Some people are aware a scene has changed without being able to identify what the change is, new psychological experiments suggest.