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May 23, 2004

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Religion in the News

Why the 'Lost Gospels' Lost Out
Recent gadfly theories about church council conspiracies that manipulated the New Testament into existence are bad—really bad—history. By Ben Witherington III.

Bush speaks out on Iraq abuse
At Christian college, President says U.S. should show the world its 'good heart' (The Washington Post)

On war and Christianity
The war in Iraq is putting our Christianity to its toughest test (George Plagenz, Williamson County Review Appeal, Franklin, Tenn.)

Showdown at the Communion rail
When bishops threaten to deny the sacrament, they're hurting the church (Andrew Sullivan, Time).

Surprise! Most say change the pledge
Somewhat to my surprise, most of those responding to this week's Burning Question want "under God" taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance (David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

School-withdrawal call raises concerns among local Baptists
Some local Baptist pastors have expressed opposition to a proposed Southern Baptist Convention resolution that calls for removing all children of Baptists from what it labeled "godless" public schools (The Allen American, Tex.)

Newsweek catches up to Left Behind
Plus: New religious violence in Nigeria, congressional Catholics on communion, Gwen Shamblin's offices raided, and other stories from online sources around the world.  Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Culture clash
An Islam expert details her struggles with Christianity (Newsweek).

Ship of Fools site rocked by rowdy parishioners
Organizers of the world's first virtual church have been forced to make emergency adjustments after rowdy cyber parishioners shouted profanities from the pews (The Daily Post, Liverpool, England).

Redeeming Conflict
Boundaries Face to Face focuses on conversations for building the right walls. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

The Dick Staub Interview: TV's Spiritual Directors, Buffy and Angel
As Angel enters the TV afterlife, the author of What Would Buffy Do? explores one of television's more spiritual shows.

Books & Culture's Book of the Week: Your God Is Too Small
An ironic skeptic scolds believers for domesticating the deity. Reviewed by Jeremy Lott.

Learning from Our Kids
Fresh insights and conversational style makes Sacred Parenting ideal reading. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Biblical or mythical?
Lots of Bible myths are mistaken for gospel truth: We think there's stuff in the Good Book that simply isn't there (The Dallas Morning News).

Science in the News


Halley's Comet Portrayed on Ancient Coin. May 19, 2004
A rare ancient coin may feature an early record of Halley's Comet, researchers say. The coin features the head of the Armenian king Tigranes II the Great, who reigned from 95 to 55 B.C. A symbol on his crown that features a star with a curved tail may represent the passage of Halley's comet in 87 B.C., say the Armenian and Italian researchers.

Early man had mining in mind
Flint analysis sheds light on our ancestors' digging skills. 18 May 2004.


Hubble snaps new world
Is this the first photo of a planet beyond our solar system? 14 May 2004.

Sizing up the Universe
Microwave mismatch proves our cosmos is a whopper. 18 May 2004.

Researchers confirm theory that universe in rapid expansion.

Cosmic dark age found in shadows
The earliest structures in the universe may be visible by the shadows they cast in the afterglow of the big bang.

Galaxy cluster X-rays confirm dark energy
Space telescope observations show that 75 per cent of the Universe's energy is in a repulsive form, driving accelerating expansion.

Venus Transit Of Sun Live From The Backyard Or Online. Washington (SPX) May 17, 2004
"There will be no other till the twenty-first century of our era has dawned upon the Earth and the June flowers are blooming in 2004. What will be the state of science ? God only knows." - William Harkness, U.S. Naval Observatory 1882.

Evidence That Asteroids Change Color As They Age. Honolulu (SPX) May 19, 2004
In an article published this week in the journal Nature, a team led by Robert Jedicke of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy provides convincing evidence that asteroids change color as they age.

Mars Rover Inspects Stone Ejected From Crater. Pasadena (JPL) May 18, 2004
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has begun sampling rocks blasted out from a stadium-sized impact crater the rover is circling, and the very first one may extend our understanding about the region's wet past.

New Mars rock hints at short-lived lakes
The dark rock may be a basaltic sandstone - if confirmed, it would mean that any watery periods in Mars' past were cold and brief.


Corn syrup linked to diabetes
Epidemic reflects rise in refined sugars. 12 May 2004

Plants purify poisoned water
Ferns suck up arsenic quickly and cheaply. 12 May 2004 

Zinc Therapy Accelerates Recovery From Pneumonia
Treating young children with zinc in addition to standard antibiotics greatly reduces the duration of severe pneumonia.

Regular Mini Doses of Caffeine More Energizing Than Morning Mug
Many people start their day with a big cup of coffee, hoping that the jolt of caffeine will invigorate them. But there might be a better way to stay awake for long periods. Scientists say low doses of caffeine administered at regular intervals provide improved pick-me-up benefits.

Longest scientific study yet backs Atkins diet
New research supports the claimed benefits of the controversial low-carbohydrate diet.


Theory Proposes New View Of Sun And Earth's Creation
A new theory challenges conventional wisdom, arguing instead that the Sun formed in a violent nebular environment - a byproduct of the chaos wrought by intense ultraviolet radiation and powerful explosions that accompany the short but spectacular lives of massive, luminous stars.

Research Vision | Rethinking Genetic Determinism. (must register)
With only 30,000 genes, what is it that makes humans human?

What Kind of Revolution Is The Design Revolution?, by Jakob Wolf
In the essay below, Jakob Wolf, Department of Systematic Theology, University of Copenhagen, reviews William Dembski's "The Design Revolution." Wolf argues that Dembski's claim that Intelligent Design represents a scientific revolution is inaccurate. The Intelligent Design "revolution" is:

"a revolution of the presupposition and the regulative idea underlying biology and not a revolution of biology as a natural scientific project. Apparently Dembski thinks that all knowledge of nature that is not mere subjective belief is natural science. Such a definition is too broad, it conflates elements that should be kept apart and thereby causes confusion. We should distinguish between scientific knowledge of nature and analogical knowledge of nature, and we should distinguish between the natural science project and the presupposition and regulative idea underlying the natural science project. The natural science project is explaining natural phenomena in terms of natural, immanent causes alone, and this project should not be revolutionized by intelligent design theory. Rather, intelligent design theory should revolutionize naturalism and scientific materialism as the presupposition and regulative idea underlying biology as a natural science project."

Glen's Dinosaur Den.
Key links to information about dinosaurs.

Earth Science

Geophysicist Discovers Why Earth 'Wobbles'
The earth wobbles in space. This has been known for over a century by astronomers, and thanks to global positioning system (GPS) technologies, this wobble has been tracked with a precision of a few millimeters over the last decade. Until now, there were good theories as to why this happens, but no one could really prove it. Now, however, Geoff Blewitt, University of Nevada research geophysicist, has an explanation for this mysterious geo-wobble. “The theory, which my colleagues and I have proven using GPS observations of the Earth, is that it’s likely to be caused by the surface matter being redistributed.”

Four-winged birds may have been first fliers
A new study of Archaeopteryx supports the idea that the first birds were four-winged gliders, not two winged flappers.

New Geologic Period Officially Named. May 19, 2004
A crucial and mysterious 58-million-year period in Earth's history is finally getting a name — the first new official geologic time period designated in over a century. The Ediacaran Period, which ran from 542 million to 600 million years ago, started with the thawing of a super ice age, the Cryogenian Period, and gave rise to soft-bodied jellyfish-like animals and sea-sluggish beasts. Then the period ended suddenly and the Cambrian Period began, when a dizzying array of new and diverse animals evolved, an event called the Cambrian explosion.

A Bird's Eye View Of Magnetic Earth. Blacksburg (SPX) May 17, 2004
Migratory birds, as well as many other animals, are able to sense the magnetic field of the earth, but how do they do it? "A fascinating possibility is that they may actually see the earth's magnetic lines as patterns of color or light intensity superimposed on their visual surroundings," said John B. Phillips of Blacksburg, associate professor of biology at Virginia Tech. The results of more than two decades of research allow him to let such an image cross his mind.

Signs of Crater Linked to Mass Extinction Said Found
The world was not a great place to be 250 million years ago. That's because some 90 percent of the planet's marine life and 80 percent of life on land had gone extinct at the end of the Permian period. Exactly what caused the mass extinction is a matter of debate, with the two leading theories positing massive volcanism in Siberia or a collision with a meteor much like the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. New findings bolster the impact hypothesis and argue that the resulting crater lies buried off the coast of northwest Australia.


When Bosons become Fermions. Munich (SPX) May 20, 2004
There are two fundamentally distinct families of particles in nature: bosons and fermions. Being a boson or a fermion has profound consequences on the 'social behaviour' of a particle when it meets other partners. Whereas bosons tend to socialize and want to be as close to each other as possible, fermions are very independent and like to be on their own.


Antifreeze Flounder Reveals Secret. May 13, 2004
A remarkable "antifreeze" protein prevents the flounder from freezing up in northern polar oceans, according to a study published on Thursday. Scientists have known for some 30 years that some fish species flourish in sub-freezing waters thanks to plasma proteins, which cling to microscopic ice splinters in the blood, stopping the crystals from teaming up into larger structures that could damage cells.