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June 20, 2004

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Religion in the News

Supreme Shocker—'Under God' Stays Because of a Technicality
Supreme Court says Michael Newdow doesn't have authority to speak for his daughter. Plus: Reactions from conservative Christian advocacy organizations. Compiled by Ted Olsen. For more reactions see

Southern Baptists reject resolution on schools
A resolution calling on members to abandon public schools was declined by a committee of the Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday -- the same day church "messengers" voted to support a federal marriage amendment. (The Indianapolis Star).

SBC Annual Meeting Ends: Summary of Approved and Rejected Resolutions.

Talk of witches at Vatican Inquisition conference
Talk of trials, burned witches and forbidden books echoed in the Vatican on Tuesday as Pope John Paul asked forgiveness for the Inquisition, in which the Church tortured and killed people branded as heretics (Reuters).

USA Today for Christians
Christian Times Today attempts long shot amid soured business deals. By Rob Moll

How Christian Times Traded Its Good Name—Twice
Kingdom Ventures deal is the second attempt to take Christian Times national. By Rob Moll

Do Americans Want a Religious Government, or Just a Spiritual One?
The link between the Pledge decision and Time's cover package on religion and the presidential campaign. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Speaking in Code
A roundup of the many anti-Da Vinci Code books from Christian publishers. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

 A Christian Harry Potter?
Shadowmancer, Britain's hit fantasy novel, conjures darkness so the light will shine brighter. Reviewed by Greg Taylor.

The Dick Staub Interview: G.P. Taylor, Dracula's Former Vicar
The author of Shadowmancer talks about his early interest in the occult, and his later transformation into a clergyman.

IVF-prayer study raises doubts
Journal withdraws study involving psychic researcher under house arrest from Web site.

Science in the News


Pool of Siloam found
Ancient Pool of Siloam found near Gihon Spring in Jerusalem.

Date of Dead Sea Scroll cache at Qumran in error?
Greg Doudna, in his article "Redating the Dead Sea Scroll Deposits at Qumran: The Legacy of an error in Archaeological Interpretation," calls into question the dating of the Qumran text deposits to the time of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome in 70 AD. 

Egyptian tombs reveal a complex society.
Twenty previously unexcavated tombs, which are several hundred years older than the great pyramids of Giza, are shedding light on the first complex societies on Earth.

Ancient "Highway" Still Shows Chariot Tracks June 16, 2004
A plain in Tuscany destined to become a dump has turned out to be an archaeologist's dream, revealing the biggest Etruscan road ever found.

Trove of ancient artifacts in way of Blair road project.

Ancient Maps And Corn Help Track The Migrations Of Indigenous People. MADISON
Maps are tools to show you where you are going, but they can also show you where you came from. That principle drives the work of Roberto Rodríguez and Patrisia Gonzales, who study ancient maps, oral traditions and the movement of domesticated crops to learn more about the origins of native people in the Americas.


Cassini Shows Off Its Stuff With Phoebe Extravaganza. Pasadena (JPL) Jun 15, 2004
Images collected during Cassini's close flyby of Saturn's moon, Phoebe, have yielded strong evidence that the tiny object may contain ice-rich material, overlain with a thin layer of darker material perhaps 300 to 500 meters (980 to 1,600 feet) thick.

On Earth, as it is on Mars?
The small spheres of haematite, nicknamed blueberries, that litter the Mars landing site of NASAs rover Opportunity might have an analogue on Earth, formed from groundwater in southern Utah.

Spirit Finds Its Pot Of Gold. Moffet Field CA (SPX) Jun 17, 2004
Some of the first things the scientists noticed about the Columbia geology were small round nodules that looked very similar to the hematite "blueberries" previously found on Mars. Many of the blueberries on Columbia Hills are more football-shaped than spherical, however, so these nodules might not be hematite concretions.

Researchers Show Io Vaporizing Rock Gases Into Atmosphere. St. Louis MO (SPX) Jun 16, 2004
The hottest spot in the solar system is neither Mercury, Venus, nor St. Louis in the summer. Io, one of the four satellites that the Italian astronomer Galileo discovered orbiting Jupiter almost 400 years ago, takes that prize.

Weighing Ultra-Cool Stars. Garching (SPX) Jun 16, 2004
Using ESO's Very Large Telescope at Paranal and a suite of ground- and space-based telescopes in a four-year long study, an international team of astronomers has measured for the first time the mass of an ultra-cool star and its companion brown dwarf. The two stars form a binary system and orbit each other in about 10 years.

NASA Spacecraft Reveals Surprising Anatomy Of A Comet
Findings from a historic encounter between NASA's Stardust spacecraft and a comet have revealed a much stranger world than previously believed. The comet's rigid surface, dotted with towering pinnacles, plunging craters, steep cliffs, and dozens of jets spewing violently, has surprised scientists.

Did Comets Flood Earth's Oceans? Paris (ESA) Jun 17, 2004
Did the Earth form with water locked into its rocks, which then gradually leaked out over millions of years? Or did the occasional impacting comet provide the Earth's oceans? The Ptolemy experiment on Rosetta may just find out…


Cure hoped for Huntington's sufferers
Gene therapy succeeds in mice with brain disease.

Molecule That 'Blocks' Key Bacterial Enzyme May Lead To New Antibiotics
Rutgers scientists have deciphered the complex mechanics of microcin J25 (MccJ25), a tiny, natural molecule that acts like a cork in a bottle to block a key bacterial enzyme – potentially leading to a new generation of antibiotics.

Old dog learns new tricks
Mutt's memory feats aid studies of language development.


Revealed: Tony Blair's link to schools that take the Creation literally
Critics voice serious doubts over Christian academies run by millionaire car dealer and backed by Prime Minister.

Natural selection and speciation
Formation of new species (Answers in Genesis).

Ancient Molecules and Modern Myths
In Dino-blood and the Young Earth Dr. Gary Hurd debunked false creationist claims that dinosaur blood proved the Earth is young. In this article, he deals with a similiar claim by creationist John R. Baumgardner. Dr. Baumgardner claims that osteocalcin in dinosaur remains could not have survived for millions of years. Dr. Hurd shows why Baumgardner is wrong.

Is the Earth's Magnetic Field Young?
by Joe Meert.

Setting the record straight: Creationist Claims examined
Edited by Mark Isaak.

Gained in Translation: Expanding the Genetic Code

Jumping Gene Flash

Commentary on developments in the endless dispute between evolution and creationism.

A review of  "Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design"
by Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross.

Dembski, Darwin, and Devils
by Jason Rosenhouse.

First Person
Richard Dawkins

Teaching Science in the Schools.
One reason for the deficiency of science education in many of our schools is the decentralization of education. A second reason is the conviction, common among biblical literalists and other Christian fundamentalists, that certain teachings of science—concerning the origin of the universe, the living world and humans—are contrary to biblical texts and the Christian faith.

Earth Science

Two Billion People Vulnerable To Floods By 2050 New York - Jun 14, 2004
The number of people worldwide vulnerable to a devastating flood is expected to mushroom to 2 billion by 2050 due to climate change, deforestation, rising sea levels and population growth in flood-prone lands, warn experts at the United Nations University.

Marine Sediments Shed Light On 50,000 Years Of Climate Changes New York NY (SPX) Jun 11, 2004
For years, researchers have examined climate records indicating that millennial-scale climate cycles have linked the high latitudes of the Northern hemisphere and the subtropics of the North Pacific Ocean.

Clues To Ancient Earth Chemistry From Cretaceous Sediments. San Diego CA (SPX) Jun 11, 2004
It's not a scene from the latest Hollywood disaster film, The Day After Tomorrow, but the Earth as it appeared during the mid- to late-Cretaceous geological period, 135 million to 65 million years ago, when the largest dinosaurs ruled the planet.

Perfect pterosaur found in fossil egg
Find sheds light on prehistoric flying reptiles.

Sea change for first shells
Calcium glut may have hardened marine life. Sea-shells might be the product of a geological accident that flooded the oceans with calcium, say US researchers. And this could have helped to drive the extraordinary diversification of species and body shapes known as the Cambrian explosion.

Radiocarbon evidence of mid-Holocene mammoths stranded on an Alaskan Bering Sea island 

T.Rex's Killer Bite Recreated. June 15, 2004
Tyrannosaurus rex's head served as a giant shock absorber to withstand the dinosaur's bone-crushing, flesh-tearing eating habits, according to a new study that suggests the dino might have had the world's most deadly bite. "In the Denver Museum of Natural History there is a hadrosaur (vegetarian dino) called Edmontosaurus that appears to have survived a T.rex attack," Rayfield said. "It has a chunk of bone missing from its tail — the shape of the missing chunk matching the jaws of T.rex. We know the animal survived to live another day as the ends of the bitten bones have begun to heal.


Test May Confirm Strings As Basic Constituent Of Matter, Energy. Santa Barbara CA - Jun 14, 2004
According to string theory, all the different particles that constitute physical reality are made of the same thing-tiny looped strings whose different vibrations give rise to the different fundamental particles that make up everything we know.

Top Quark Measurements Give 'God Particle' New Lease On Life. Rochester NY (SPX) Jun 10, 2004
Researchers from the University of Rochester have helped measure the elusive top quark with unparalleled precision, and the surprising results affect everything from the Higgs boson, nicknamed the "God particle," to the makeup of the dark matter that comprises 90 percent of the universe.

Surprise: Fermilab's SELEX Experiment Finds Puzzling New Particle. BATAVIA, Illinois
Scientists at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will announce on Friday, June 18 the observation of an unexpected new member of a family of subatomic particles called "heavy-light" mesons. The new meson, a combination of a strange quark and a charm antiquark, is the heaviest ever observed in this family, and it behaves in surprising ways -- it apparently breaks the rules on decaying into other particles.


Researchers Make Promiscuous Animals Monogamous By Manipulating Genes. ATLANTA
Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University and Atlanta's Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) have found transferring a single gene, the vasopressin receptor, into the brain's reward center makes a promiscuous male meadow vole monogamous. This finding, which appears in the June 17 issue of Nature, may help better explain the neurobiology of romantic love as well as disorders of the ability to form social bonds, such as autism. In addition, the finding supports previous research linking social bond formation with drug addiction, also associated with the reward center of the brain.

Emory Researchers Study The Effects Of Zen Meditation On The Brain
Zen meditation is an ancient spiritual practice that promotes awareness and presence through the undivided engagement of mind and body. For thousands of years, many religious traditions have made meditation a common practice. Now, researchers at Emory University are looking at the effects of Zen meditation and how the brain functions during meditative states. By determining the brain structures involved in meditation and whose activity is gradually changed in the course of long-term meditative practice, researchers hope this training could one day be used as a complementary treatment for neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Death by Theory
According to attachment theory, certain children must be subjected to physical "confrontation" and "restraint" to release repressed abandonment anger. The process is repeated until the child is exhausted and emotionally reduced to an "infantile" state. Then the parents cradle, rock and bottle-feed him, implementing an "attachment." This is pseudoscientific quackery masquerading as psychological science and, put into practice, it can be deadly.