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1. BBC News: “Skin Transformed into Stem Cells

The controversy over embryonic stem cell research may soon die down thanks to a potential new method for “reprogramming” human skin cells.

Embryonic stem cells, considered by some to have “an unlimited capacity to become any of the 220 types of cell in the human body” and touted by some as a near-panacea for disease, are controversial because the harvesting process results in destruction of human embryos.

A way to bypass the controversy without forfeiting potential medical advances, however, may be the result of research by U.S. and Japanese scientists that was published separately in the journals Science and Cell.

AiG’s own Georgia Purdom, who holds a PhD in molecular genetics, explained the significance of the news in an AiG web article on Wednesday:

This is exciting news, as it presents an alternative to embryonic stem cell usage and is another example of how adult stem cells are extremely versatile. Another advantage would be the ability to use a person’s own skin cells . . . thus eliminating rejection upon transplantation.

You can read Dr. Purdom’s full article, “Stem Cell Breakthrough,” or her in-depth look at the topic of stem cells, “Stem Cells

2. National Geographic News: “‘Noah’s Flood’ May Have Triggered European Farming

It may surprise many readers that the secular press is acknowledging the Genesis Flood. Of course, what’s not so surprising is that the acknowledgment is only a reference to a hypothesized local flood that doesn’t match the biblical account.

The University of Exeter’s Chris Turney coauthored a study that links the rise of agriculture in Europe to a massive Black Sea flood speculated to have occurred 8,000 years ago. Thought to have been triggered by the end of an ice age, secular scientists say melting water rapidly expanded the Mediterranean Sea, which spilled over into the then-freshwater Black Sea, forming a much larger, salty, inland sea. Some consider such a rapid expansion to have been the basis for the story of the biblical Flood and Noah’s Ark.

Turney’s team hypothesizes that the expansion of the Black Sea forced hunter-gatherers inland, where they turned to farming:

The deluge may have also contributed to an explosion in European agriculture—especially throughout inland regions near the Black Sea, where farms were previously scarce, the researchers found. . . .
After farming had spread from the Near East to southeastern Europe about 9,000 years ago, the growth of agriculture in Europe had inexplicably slowed.
When Turney and colleague Heidi Brown of the University of Wollongong in Australia looked at the dates for the expansion of farming throughout Europe, they found an intriguing link.

Turney adds that “As soon as the flooding happened, what we see in the dates is a massive acceleration [in farming].”

Now, there’s nothing inherently problematic with speculating that a large flood (for example) drove populations inland and encouraged agricultural development—though we disagree, to varying degrees, with the dating methods used to establish these geological and anthropological dates. Our problem lies with the increasing treatment of this hypothesized local flood as the source for the Genesis Flood, which the Bible portrays without exception as global, and which in many ways is nonsensical if it were only local (e.g., no reason for Noah to have taken animals with him, no reason floodwaters would have covered the highest mountains). One can accept the hypothesized Black Sea flood as the basis for the Genesis Flood only if one believes, in advance, that the Bible’s accounts are not entirely true. Otherwise, something has to bend (or break).

The truth is, there is ample scientific evidence and absolutely clear biblical verification of a global flood that God used for both punishment and, ultimately, to demonstrate His mercy. Why is there so much squirming to get around the fact? Ken Ham explains the hidden rationale in “They Can’t Allow ‘It’!

3. SMU Daily Campus: “Evolution Lecture Hits on Middle Ground

It seems one of evolutionary theory’s biggest defenders, biologist Ken Miller, has come around to AiG’s point of view. At least, that’s one way to look at his recent comments!

Brown University’s Ken Miller, a widely known cellular biologist whose beliefs in Catholicism and Darwinism place him in the middle of the creation–evolution debate, spoke at Southern Methodist University last week, asking “Is it Time to Abandon Darwin?” (lecture title) and answering “with his opening statement of a loud and clear, ‘No.’” An article summarizing the lecture includes this fascinating tidbit:

At this point, Miller asked the audience, “Why is evolution under attack?” Colleagues and fellow scientists of Miller have asked if a certain kind of fossil or a certain type of gene mapping would help convince people like Ken Ham . . . that evolution is real.
“That would be convincing evidence if this were a scientific debate, but it’s not. This is a cultural war,” Dr. Miller said.

A-ha, it almost sounds as though Miller is a closet AiG supporter with that last comment, because this is what we’ve been saying all along! As Ken Ham explains in his landmark book The Lie: Evolution, both creation and evolution are ultimately religious, because our presuppositions drive and shape our understanding of the scientific data we observe.

Virgin birth

Intriguingly, one lecture attendee posed this question to evolutionist-cum-Catholic Miller: “Where did Mary get the Y chromosome?” It’s a telling question to put to a Christian evolutionist, of course; where does Miller draw the line between what the Bible clearly teaches and what our day-to-day observations tell us (when it comes to miracles such as, say, the virgin birth and special creation)?

Apparently recognizing the trap, he straddled the fence: “Well, you either believe one of two things: One, someone made it up in order to draw attention to the message of the birth of the man called Jesus, or you just accept it as the miracle it’s described as.” Of course, since Miller apparently consents that the latter is a valid option, we have to ask why he doesn’t present the same option—accepting it as written—for the miracle of special creation!

A representative from AiG traveled to hear Miller speak in the Cincinnati area in 2006. For his full analysis, see “A Date with Ken Miller.”

4. Lakeland (FL) Ledger: “Polk School Board Leans Toward Inclusion of Intelligent Design

The Lakeland Ledger reports this week that a majority of Polk County school board members support supplementing public school evolution education with discussions of intelligent design. Polk County is home to more than half a million people, and thus an evolution education battle in the county could draw major media coverage.

Three board members “said they oppose proposed science standards for Florida schools that list evolution and biological diversity as one of the ‘big ideas’ that students need to know for a well-grounded science education,” reports the Ledger, with others holding judgment; two members, however, listed themselves as “unwilling to endorse intelligent design over evolution.” (More on that in a moment.)

One of the more substantial dangers of advocating intelligent design instruction is a potential lawsuit. Jonathan Smith, a member of Florida Citizens for Science who will be speaking to the board in favor of the science standards, points to the expensive Dover, Pennsylvania, judicial action and media circus as a downside to the school district flouting state standards.

Interestingly, a full range of rationales is expressed by the board members for why they support, don’t support, sort of support, etc., teaching pupils about the concept of intelligent design:

  • Tim Harris: “My tendency would be to have both sides shared with students since neither side can be proven.”
  • Hazel Sellers: “I don’t have a conflict with intelligent design versus evolution. The two go together.”
  • Margaret Lofton: “[Evolution] crosses the line with people who are Christians. Evolution is offensive to a lot of people.”
  • Brenda Reddout: “The standards seem to be supported by many of our science teachers. It doesn't make any difference what our personal opinions are.”
  • Frank O’Reilly: “You’re talking about separation of church and state. I believe in intelligent design personally, but the court has ruled against it. We cannot break the law if it is set down before us.”
  • Lori Cunningham: “I would have to research [the new science standards] to give you an answer.”

The board seems to represent, in many ways, a cross-section of public opinion toward intelligent design education. Unfortunately, one frequent misstatement is that the school board battles that have been waged around the United States are about “endors[ing] intelligent design over evolution.” Never have the battles, at least not in recent history, dealt with endorsing intelligent design explicitly, but rather merely mention it as a theory that some scientists support. Furthermore, many school board battles over evolution education, such as the media-fueled fight in Kansas, are not even considering the discussion of intelligent design, instead simply including text that notes the controversial, unproven (or unprovable) status of evolutionary theory.

To read AiG’s views on evolution education in public schools, visit the “What are AiG’s views on the teaching of creation and intelligent design?” section of “What happened in Kansas?” as well as our Get Answers: Education section. For AiG’s views on the intelligent design movement, visit Georgia Purdom’s “The Intelligent Design Movement” and “Is the intelligent design movement Christian?

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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