1. The Jerusalem Post: “Archeologists Find ‘Joseph-Era’ Coins in Egypt

Archaeologists may have found evidence for the Joseph of Genesis in Egypt, a news agency has reported.

Researchers in Egypt have discovered a cache of coins “bearing the name and image of the biblical Joseph,” the Jerusalem Post reports. The news was originally reported by Egyptian paper Al-Ahram and translated by MEMRI.

The coins—five hundred in all—were among a group of “small archeological artifacts” at the Museum of Egypt and were originally mistaken for charms or ornaments. The leader of the team, Sa‘id Muhammad Thabet, found the coins in various vaults while doing research on Joseph.

If true, the discovery overturns the previous contention that ancient Egyptians were unfamiliar with coins and used a barter system exclusively. Thabet originally questioned that idea when reading a letter by an ancient Egyptian who served as royal inspector of the Nile bridges. Named Thot-Nehet, he wrote of leasing lands in exchange for coins and agricultural goods.

As for the coins themselves, Thabet noticed that what had been classified as charms were actually round (or nearly round) and bore an inscription on one side and an engraved image on the other—just like coins throughout the centuries, including today. The inscribed side of the objects bore the name of Egypt, a date, and a value, while the engraved face of most bore the name and image of an Egyptian pharaoh or deity. The objects also came in various sizes and were made of precious materials. Also, similar objects have been found at various archaeological sites, adding to Thabet’s suspicion that the objects were coins rather than charms.

The coins are dated to many periods of Egyptian history, including as far back as Joseph’s time. Most interestingly, the report matches up with Genesis 41 in describing “one coin that had an inscription on it, and an image of a cow symbolizing Pharaoh’s dream about the seven fat cows and seven lean cows, and the seven green stalks of grain and seven dry stalks of grain.”

Furthermore, the researchers were able to decipher the writing on the coin (which matched the earliest known hieroglyphic texts) and make out multiple versions of Joseph’s name as well as what is purported to be an image of him.

If Thabet’s research is correct, then we have another fascinating confirmation of the reality of Genesis history. But as the research has not yet been presented for review or otherwise published (as far as we are aware), the accuracy of the research remains in question. Baptist Press, in an article titled “Evangelicals Skeptical about ‘Joseph Coins’,” quotes evangelical scholars who are skeptical of Thabet’s claims. “My initial response is one of skepticism in that the ‘interpretation’ of the coins is quite subjective,” explained ancient Egypt expert Robert Griffin of the University of Memphis.

Archaeologist Steven Ortiz of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary concurred, noting that Thabet’s team was seeking to validate specific verses of the Koran with their discovery. Of course, the motivation of Thabet’s research doesn’t necessarily mean the findings are flawed; nonetheless, we’ll reserve judgment until the exact findings are published in a peer-reviewed journal. Besides, our trust in Genesis (and the rest of God’s Word) doesn’t ebb and flow with each new archaeological discovery!

2. BBC News: “Dinosaur Eggs Are Found in India

Scientists have turned up dozens and dozens of dinosaur eggs in southern India, BBC News reports.

The discovery, like many, came by accident, as the team of geologists was busy excavating what they believe is an ancient riverbed. The large eggs are grouped in sandy nests but are covered with (interestingly enough) volcanic ash.

The find, which the scientists have labeled a “Jurassic treasure trove,” isn’t the first discovery of dinosaur eggs in that region of India; BBC News reports that dinosaur eggs were discovered in the region by a British geologist in the 1860s.

Team leader M. U. Ramkumar of Periyar University explained, “We have got volcanic ash deposits on the eggs which suggests that volcanic activity could have caused their extinction.” However, according to Ramkumar, the fact that the eggs exist in different layers “means the dinosaurs came to the place over and over year after year” (over millions of years, presumably).

Ramkumar continued, “The other thing we have found is that all these eggs are unhatched and infertile. So what made the eggs infertile? We need to carry out further studies to learn more from the findings.”

From a creationist point of view, the rock layers don’t represent millions of years of sediment accumulation; rather, many were laid down in quick succession during the Flood of Noah’s time or in a post-Flood catastrophe involving volcanism. Given this framework, the eggs may well have been contemporaneous (though we cannot say for sure without more details on the discoveries). If so, all of the eggs could have been laid near each other as they were (the nests belonging to a single herd—DinoData.org notes that hadrosaurs, at least, “seemingly nested in packs”); or, perhaps hydrodynamic forces resulted in the similarly sized eggs being deposited together.

This model better explains why so many dinosaur eggs would have been carefully preserved rather than having been scavenged—which would more likely be the case had the eggs been slowly fossilized over a long period of time. The Flood also explains a possible reason why the eggs are unhatched; rather than being necessarily infertile, the Flood could have preserved the eggs before they could hatch.

As for the volcanic ash, creationists have long spoke of spectacular volcanic activity that likely accompanied the catastrophic Flood year. Volcanoes would have been set off by tectonic activity (also well documented by creationists) and may have worked in conjunction with the opening of the “fountains of the great deep” (Genesis 7:11). Such a one-time catastrophe with extensive volcanic activity certainly seems more probable than separate volcanoes repeatedly affecting infertile dinosaur eggs over millions of years—and all neatly fossilized.

3. BBC News: “Scientist Reproduces Turin Shroud

An Italian scientist has attempted to replicate the Shroud of Turin using materials and techniques available in the Middle Ages (when some believe the shroud was originally made).

A group of atheists and agnostics funded the scientist, organic chemist Luigi Garlaschelli of the University of Pavia. He is presenting his results this weekend at a conference on the paranormal.

Some believe that the shroud is the genuine burial cloth of Jesus, and that the mysterious human image on the cloth is Christ’s.

Garlaschelli’s procedure was to rub an acidic pigment over a linen cloth while a volunteer lay beneath it (whose face was protected). Garlaschelli then baked the cloth in an oven and washed it to give it the appearance of age. Finally, blood stains, scorch marks, and water stains were added to match the original. BBC News reports that the final version of the cloth showed “a half-tone image similar to that on the [s]hroud.”

“The result obtained clearly indicates that this could be done with the use of inexpensive materials and with a quite simple procedure,” Garlaschelli explained. But he added, “If [those who accept the authenticity of the shroud] don’t want to believe carbon dating done by some of the world’s best laboratories they certainly won’t believe me.” (Radiocarbon dating performed on the shroud in 1988 indicated that the fabric originated from the Middle Ages, but the findings have been called into question.)

The genuineness of the shroud can never be completely answered by scientific tests, since they can only be conducted in the present; we must also consider the biblical element. For an Answers in Genesis perspective on the shroud, see Feedback: Testing the Shroud of Turin.

4. LiveScience: “Dinosaur-Killing Space Rock Barely Rattled Algae

The line in the sand—or sediment, as the case may be—that supposedly marks the end of the dinosaurs did not mark the end of marine life.

Many old-earth scientists believe evidence of an asteroidal impact is preserved in the fossil record at 65 million years ago, at the K–P (formerly known as the K–T) boundary. That boundary marks the end of Cretaceous sediments (symbolized by K from the German name Kreidezeit) and the beginning of Paleogene sediments (hence “P,” which used to be known as the lower Tertiary for the “T”). But while old-earth scientists believe the dinosaurs disappeared for good, researchers report that marine life bounced back within just 100 years or so of the extinction event.

The team of scientists examined the molecular remains, i.e., sterane, of microorganisms, which do not leave hard fossils behind but instead organic residues. Writing in the journal Science (see “Rapid Resurgence of Marine Productivity After the Cretaceous-Paleogene Mass Extinction”), the team reports that although such organisms were reduced during the extinction event, it wasn’t long until they thrived again.

The finding goes against previous research that suggested the marine life resurgence took millions of years. However, one critical scientist, Henk Brinkhuis of Utrecht University, pointed to the limited scope of the researchers’ investigation—which was exclusively one Danish sedimentary layer—as perhaps being unrepresentative.

In the young-earth understanding of geology, the K–P boundary, when it is found in local sediments, marks either volcanic or asteroidal activity during the catastrophic Flood year. (Volcanic activity can also produce the chemical deposits identified as from a meteorite.) The fact that dinosaurs do not exist in the fossil record beyond the boundary does not mean that they went extinct at that time; but, rather, that the conditions for mass fossilization no longer applied. (The Flood/post-Flood boundary in the fossil record is still an issue of debate among young-earth creationists, but many place it at or near the K–P boundary.)

What about the organic residue from microorganisms? Without looking at the Danish sediments ourselves, we tend to agree with the scientist who criticized the lack of representativeness of the studied sediments. The catastrophic Flood year would have impacted marine life as well, since it was a marine catastrophe that overtook the land, with threats coming from volcanic activity and fast-moving sediments. If the fluctuation in organic residue is consistent across global sediments (which seems not to be the case), creationists can interpret it as the near-loss and then recovery of marine life either from one period of the Flood year to another period, or from the Flood year until the period after the Flood year.

5. The Grand Rapids Press: “150th Birthday of ‘On the Origin of Species’ Prompts Area Colleges to Assess Darwin’s Impact

A supporter sent in a fascinating article that focuses on evolution education in Michigan.

November is the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the Press points out, and “most scientists and many in the faith community have accepted the basic tenets of the book,” staff writers assert. “But one area of American society—education—continues to grapple with how to implement Darwin’s theory,” they continue.

The authors looked at local colleges and universities, Christian and otherwise, to see what educational attitudes toward Darwin existed. The result? “The Press found all of the institutions that teach biology teach Darwinian evolution.”

Biologist David Warners of Christian Reformed school Calvin College, which teaches evolution as fact, said, “Evolution is the paradigm out of which we teach biology. We’re not trying to hide things; it’s just that we’re not looking for a fight.”

At Hope College, which is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, biologist Thomas Bultman says of Genesis, “It’s not a story about how the world came to be, but of what our place in the world is.” Both Warners and Bultman told the Press that many of their students arrive as creationists, which Warners says presents “a challenge.”

Yet not all Calvin biologist students accept Warners’ logic. The Press quotes senior biology major Joe Moss, who has taken three of Warners’ courses but does not accept Darwinian explanations—in part because of his attendance at a Christian high school that taught creation. He emphasizes, “God’s word is true,” but laments that at Calvin, some biology professors “say you’re not a scientist or biologist unless you believe in evolution.”

Also standing apart from the pack is Cornerstone University. James Fryling, a chemist at the university, explains that Darwin’s idea is “important—scientifically, politically, culturally—so we do talk about it, but it’s certainly not the focus.” Fryling readily admits that he is a young-earth creationist. He clarifies that young-earth creation isn’t a scientific perspective, but that “science . . . is not the only way we have of knowing or explaining things.”

“We discuss the strengths of [Darwin’s] theory, we discuss the flaws of the theory,” Fryling went on. “We don’t buy his theory as far as a molecules-to-man explanation, but we do teach it.”

At least as far as Fryling’s perspective is concerned, we are in wholehearted agreement. It’s important that students understand Darwin’s model simply because of its past and present scientific significance. But both Darwinian evolution and biblical creation are untestable historical events and thus are outside of the range of operational science.

As for the state of Christian higher education, the Press piece serves as a reminder that students and their parents can hardly be too cautious about selecting a college or university. What is Christian in name may deviate significantly from Scripture in many areas. Jason Lisle even pointed out in Surviving Secular College that “compromised Christian college[s] . . . are much worse than secular colleges, in my opinion [because] [s]ecular colleges are honest about their rejection of the biblical worldview.” Sadly, the majority of Christian colleges fall in the compromise camp.

6. And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Our coverage of Ardi last week made its way around the web, including the ABC News website quoting Dr. David Menton of our staff and with excerpts also showing up (among other places) in The Christian Post and at Baptist Press. Meanwhile, our comment comparing the hubbub over Ardi to the hubbub over Ida was reinforced after we noticed that the Discovery Channel already has a television show prepared on Ardi, set to air this Sunday (and heavily advertised until then).
  • Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created “super-charged stem cells” that promote tissue regeneration by helping grow new blood vessels. Of note is that the stem cells were taken from the bone marrow of mice—and are thus yet another example of a stem cell therapy that doesn’t destroy human life to save it.
  • Automaker Nissan has developed robots that can move together without colliding with one another, a design inspired by the behavior of fish. The same team previously developed robots that were inspired by bumblebees.
  • In February we reported on the search for “alien” life on earth—not life from outer space, but rather “weird” life unlike anything else. Geomicrobiologist Felisa Wolfe-Simon of NASA Astrobiology Institute is part of the search and is studying what may be arsenic-utilizing microbes from Mono Lake, California. A report explains that if the microbes indeed use arsenic, it would mean “that Mono Lake was home to a form of life biologically distinct from all other known life [and] would strongly suggest that life got started on our planet not once, but at least twice.” While such a discovery would certainly fuel hopes for finding life on other planets, we would consider it just another example of life created for its environment.
  • We’ve been covering T. rex-related news the past few weeks in News to Note, so perhaps it’s no surprise that there’s even more news: an eight-horned “cousin” of T. rex named Alioramus altai, originally dug up in the Gobi desert in 2001. And in other dinosaurian news, scientists have confirmed what are thought to be some of the largest dinosaur footprints in the world.
  • Wonderful examples of good operational science are the research of the 2009 winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine. While our critics often accuse us of being anti-science, we actually strongly support science rooted in observation and experimentation, as opposed to presupposition-infused origins science that relies on unrepeatable histories and metaphysical speculation. (For more on the difference, see Science or the Bible?)
  • National Geographic News shows off some stunning microscopic photography. Several of the photos are prime examples of the color that is infused in God’s creation—outright artwork, we would say.
  • BBC News profiles some members of the Quiverfull movement, who embrace the Bible’s praise of children and the godly parents raising them. We are thankful for what they and all godly parents are doing to help raise up the next generation of Bible-believers. Of course, having children isn’t enough (as, we trust, those parents know); all Christian parents are called to raise up their children in the knowledge of the Lord so that they may stand on God’s Word. The book Already Gone documents the dangers of failing to do that, while Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World, Genesis of a Legacy, and other resources teach about biblically based parenting.
  • Are Charles Darwin and our own Ken Ham the competing icons in the creation/evolution debate, as the photo selection of a Reuters blog entry suggests? We’re joking, of course (the post itself doesn’t even mention Ham or Answers in Genesis—just his photo [update 10/11/09: it has come to our attention that Ken’s name has recently been added to the caption]), but we are almost always happy for free Creation Museum publicity—in the hopes that more will come to learn the true history of the world and hear the life-changing message of the gospel.

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