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1. National Geographic News: “Jesus’ Tomb Claim Slammed By Scholars”
It’s the sort of news that could rock the world – and the faith of some unwary Christians. At least, that’s what Canadian journalist Simcha Jacobovici and famous Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron seem to be hoping for regarding their upcoming television special, which claims to reveal a tomb containing the ossuaries of Jesus and his family. The Lost Tomb of Jesus, to be broadcast this Sunday on the Discovery Channel, argues that the ossuaries found in a Jerusalem tomb in 1980 belong to Jesus, His mother Mary, and other family members, including Jesus’ alleged wife Mary Magdalene and one “Judah son of Jesus” who, the film says, is a son of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
The news—which made waves earlier this week—elicited negative responses from both secular archaeologists and Bible-believing Christians, who have downplayed and rejected, respectively, the notion that Jesus’ bones have been found. The Associated Press reports comments by Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the tomb, who states that the film’s backers “just want to get money for it.”
We’ll be publishing a full commentary after this program airs, but in the meantime, it’s interesting to note the similarities between the debates surrounding the historicity and divinity of Christ and the debate over the origin of life. In each case, the argument is over historical events that are unrepeatable and were not observed by us humans living now in the present. In each case, we are faced with a choice: accept the historical account given by the Bible, or try to trust fickle science that cannot give solid answers. Apart from the Bible, there is nothing to prove the tomb isn’t that of Christ, just as it is impossible to prove the tomb is that of Christ. Apart from the Bible, no one can verify that Jesus’ miracles actually happened, nor can anyone prove they didn’t happen. Similarly, apart from God’s Word, we are left with mere conjecture and hypothetical guesses about what “might have happened” at the very beginning and before recorded history. In each case, the debate ultimately comes down to the presuppositional views one adopts.
2. Reuters: “Chimps, humans split only 4 million years ago”
It’s one of those ultimate questions that keep people awake at night: just when did chimps and humans split apart from one another—five million, six million, or seven million years ago? Seriously, these evolutionary estimates are being challenged by a new study that claims the alleged evolutionary split occurred “just” four million years ago.
The study’s authors, writing in the Public Library of Science’s PLoS Genetics journal, employ a statistical technique known as the “hidden Markov model, developed in the 1960s and originally applied to speech recognition,” to come up with their recent estimate. The Markov model was applied to the molecular clock, a hypothetical, evolution-based concept that constructs genetic timelines based on similarities and differences in the DNA sequence data of different animals.
What’s of particular interest, though, is that the study’s finding “directly contradicts some other recent research.” ScienceNOW reports that what was once a “satisfying consensus is [now] being challenged by a new study that proposes a surprisingly recent separation.” The ScienceNOW article highlights the controversy further:
Some researchers say the date is so recent, something must be wrong with this application of the Markov methodology. It would bump all the earliest fossils out of the human tree […] “A 4.1-million-year split for humans and chimps … is hard to defend because fossils practically reject it,” says evolutionary biologist Blair Hedges of Pennsylvania State University in State College.
All these dates are in conflict, it seems, with each backed by a different scientific field or technique. But should we expect these contradictions to force evolutionary scientists to start rethinking their beliefs about human evolution? Don’t hold your breath. Even when confronted with contradictions and inconsistent evidence, the presupposition of naturalism drives evolutionists’ understanding of human origins and precludes the consideration of alternate ideas, such as divine creation.
3. ScienceNOW: “Evolution: It Does a Body Good”
The latest science news being touted as “proof” of evolution is the ability for most adult humans to digest milk (specifically, the ability to digest lactose). The BBC news report on the subject refers to University College London scientists who “say that the rapid spread of a gene which lets us reap the benefits of milk shows evolution in action.” The current news is a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that indicates that lifelong lactose tolerance developed “recently” (within the last few thousand years, anyway).
Sensing some déjà vu? If so, it’s likely because we reported on the same topic back in December (see item #2), when an analysis of the “evolution” of milk tolerance in different people groups made headlines that credited evolution. But as we explained then, the mutation creating lactose tolerance in humans does not add any information to the genome. Rather, humans are born lactose-tolerant (specifically, born to produce the lactose-digesting enzyme lactase); eventually, some humans stop producing lactase, whereas others have “a nucleotide switch in their DNA [that] can keep lactase flowing into adulthood, a trait called lactase persistence.”
As we noted in December, the sad news is that this non-information-adding mutation (and the headlines written about it) may further suggest to some that evolution is a fact of life.
4. National Post: “Becoming an atheist”
It’s a sad story, but it mimics those of many others out there: Michael O’Shaughnessy shares his path to atheism with Canada’s National Post as a part of a series on journeys to faith or faithlessness.
One can foresee the direction of O’Shaughnessy’s beliefs when he explains, “I had believed that it was impossible to know whether or not God is real, but had always accepted His existence on faith.” When O’Shaughnessy did not encounter the Holy Spirit in an electrifying manner at a youth camp (as he expected), his doubts overtook him. But what helped solidify his doubts?
I came to appreciate how the universe operates on its own, without any outside interference, and came to see how humanity evolved through a slow, incremental process over hundreds of millions of years, from the simplest single-celled organism, to the dinosaur, to the ape who carves great cities out of the earth. And eventually, in the midst of all this, I came to the conclusion that while there was nothing directly contradicting the existence of God – He could possibly be sitting in His divine director’s chair watching this all happen – there was nothing to confirm it, either. So why believe it at all? And so I became an atheist.
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins claimed, famously, that Darwin made it possible for atheists like him to be “intellectually fulfilled.” We see this in action in O’Shaughnessy’s “testimony”—how his newly apostate intellect was satiated with the thought of millions of years of evolution that produced us—and since he believed there was no evidence to confirm God’s existence, why believe in God?
This highlights one of the great dangers of compromising on the book of Genesis. If Genesis, on which all Bible doctrine is ultimately built is false, then the entire story of the Bible falls apart. Compromise on God’s Word, in a world filled with evolutionary propaganda, ultimately leads young people to question God’s existence entirely.
Keep Michael O’Shaughessy and others like him in your prayers!
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!
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