Every parent’s worst nightmare strikes in Newtown, Connecticut.
By now everyone reading this column has learned of Friday’s mass murder at the Connecticut elementary school that has left at least 26 dead, including 20 young children. Though we all know that each of us must face death at the end of life in this sin-cursed world, the senseless murder of children who should still have their whole lives ahead of them evokes a special sense of horror.
We know that our words cannot describe the grief of the victims’ families or lessen their pain. We urge our readers to be in prayer for these families and their community. Nothing can make sense of this tragedy. Even when the shooter’s psychological history has been dissected and motivations unraveled, this tragedy will not make sense. We can, however, look to the Bible to understand the underlying cause of all such horrors.
Human tragedy began about 6,000 years ago soon after a loving Creator made Adam and Eve and gave them a perfect world. They knew the God who made them and loved them, yet they rebelled against His authority. That dark day of rebellion was a watershed for human history—the day when all our tragedies began. Significantly, the first recorded tragedy to touch their lives was the murder of their son Abel by their firstborn son Cain.
Satan, who tempted the first family and everyone since them to sin, is a vicious deceiver who hates God and all of us. Jesus Christ called Satan the father of lies and a murderer. The devil was a “murderer from the beginning,” and “there is no truth in him” (John 8:44). If people ask us in the coming days how God could allow such horrible tragedy, we need to remember that the death that shadows our lives began when our first parents’ rebellion wrecked the good world God created.
Jesus Christ came into this world to destroy the murderous works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Jesus was murdered, dying on the Cross to pay for the sins of the world. As God the Father looked on while His own Son was murdered, we know He grieved. God does understand the grief these families and this community feel, for He endured such grief Himself to make a way to provide salvation for all of us.
Please read our remarks yesterday concerning this tragedy (School Tragedy in Connecticut) as well as our discussion of another tragic shooting this past July in News to Note, July 21, 2012. And please take advantage of these helpful resources and share them with others:
Image of ancient king who unified Egypt found etched in stone.
The first trappings of unified royal power in ancient Egypt have been found carved on a rock wall near the village of Nag el-Hamdulab. The site is on the West Bank of the Nile River, north of Aswan, in southern Egypt. Three generations of archaeologists have examined the drawings, but, with the help of modern digital technology, a multinational team has finally tapped into their secrets. The team identifies the king, depicted with his entourage, as Narmer, who is thought to have unified ancient Egypt.
This carving contains the earliest known depiction of a pharaoh. This is the pharaoh’s royal boat, complete with oarsmen, royal insignia, a servant with a fan and two standard-bearers. The pharaoh wears the lotus-shaped White Crown symbolizing power in Upper (southern) Egypt. (Compare to the image in the Narmer Palette and the wider view above to find him.) The flotilla carved on the rocks suggests this pharaoh was consolidating power over the southern parts of his territory before uniting all of Egypt under his rule. Image credit: Stan Hendrickx, John Coleman Darnell and Maria Carmela Gatto, www.antiquity.ac.uk.
This is a reproduction of the Narmer Palette, found at Hierakonpolis, ancient Egypt’s first capital. This two-foot tall siltstone artifact is covered with relief drawings on both sides, symbolizing the uniting of Upper and Lower Egypt. It shows Narmer, believed to be the first king of a united Egypt (left) wearing the lotus-shaped White Crown of Upper Egypt. On the reverse (right), he wears the Red Crown of Lower Egypt. Use this image to find the pharaoh with the lotus-shaped crown in the carving at Nag el-Hamdulab. Image credit: en.wikipedia.org.
In addition to the crown and insignia, pharaoh’s royal power is symbolized by many cows herded by people and dogs. In this carving, the dog is standing on a cow’s back, and a person with a stick follows them. Be sure to see the entire photo gallery of these fascinating carvings at www.antiquity.ac.uk and additional carvings of wild animals and interpretive tracings at www.dailymail.co.uk Image credit: Stan Hendrickx, John Coleman Darnell and Maria Carmela Gatto, www.antiquity.ac.uk.
This timeline, adapted from the chronology recorded by archaeologist David Down in the book Unwrapping the Pharaohs, shows how the global Flood and subsequent dispersion from the tower of Babel fit in with multiple Egyptian dynasties ruling at the same time in different parts of Egypt. The traditional Egyptian timeline, now in disfavor with many secular and biblical historians, is depicted on the top line. The dates reported for the Nag el-Hamdulab carvings (3200–3100 BC) are derived from this traditional chronology. Narmer (or Menes) should instead be placed at the beginning of the Dynasty 1-2 bar (shown in green), after Babel. Image credit: Dating the Pyramids.
Maria Gatto of Yale University led the team whose findings have now been published in the journal Antiquity. Their research builds on work started in the 1890s by archaeologist Archibald Sayce, who published sketches of the carvings, and the unpublished photographs taken in the 1960s by Egyptian archaeologist Labib Habachi. Gatto’s team went in search of the site depicted in these photos and found seven groups of carvings, some of them vandalized. By analyzing the carvings and Habachi’s photos, the team has identified the march of royal Egyptian authority onto the pages of history, well before the time of the pyramids.
The most extensive carving is a flotilla of five boats—the equivalent of a royal progress or parade in ancient Egypt, where the Nile was the real highway. In the lead boat is a pharaoh—depicted in the usual manner of stylized Egyptian art—wearing a lotus-shaped crown (the White Crown), which symbolized power in southern Egypt (aka “Upper Egypt” because of its location on the upper Nile River). Royal imagery indicating this is a pharaoh includes a man fanning him, two standard-bearers, falcon and bull insignia on the side of the boat, and four men towing the boat with ropes. In addition, there is a hieroglyphic inscription suggesting the flotilla is a royal “following of Horus,” a biennial tax-collecting tour that cemented royal authority. Horus was the falcon-headed Egyptian god said to have bestowed royal power on Narmer, the first king of a unified Egypt.1
This is Horus, the Egyptian god supposed to have bestowed power to the first pharaoh. On the falcon head are both the Red and White Crowns, symbols of power and Egyptian unity. Image credit: en.wikipedia.org.
Narmer here wears the White Crown of Upper Egypt. Narmer also appears in the Narmer Palette, a large stone artifact found at Egypt’s first capital, Hierakonpolis. The Narmer Palette depicts the king with the White Crown on one side and the Red Crown—symbolizing power in Lower (northern) Egypt—on the other.
Gatto explains the political significance of these two depictions of the king. “It seems that for Narmer it was important first to settle the situation in the South, to control the South, and then apparently move to the North, and at that time he unified Egypt and we have the first dynasty.” The Nag el-Hamdulab carvings likely predate the Narmer Palette because the royal figure wearing only one crown is nevertheless surrounded by ancient Egyptian symbols of great power, such as the boat parade and a procession of wild and domesticated animals. “It’s really the end of prehistory and the beginning of history,” Gatto says. (We have the written biblical record, of course, so this time is not really “prehistory.”)
Yale Egyptologist John Coleman Darnell, who translated the inscription, explains:
The Nag el-Hamdulab scenes are unique, and bridge the world of the ritual Predynastic Jubilee in which images of power—predominantly boats and animals—are the chief elements, and the world of the royal pharaonic Jubilee, in which the image of the human ruler dominates the events. . . . The Nag el-Hamdulab cycle is the last of the old nautical Jubilee cycles of the Predynastic Period, and the first of the pharaonic cycles over which the king, wearing the regalia of kingship—here the oldest form of the White Crown—presides. The Nag el-Hamdulab cycle is also the first of such images with a hieroglyphic annotation.2
Based on the style of the artwork and inscription, Gatto dates the carvings to 3200–3100 BC. The dates for such ancient Egyptian events are primarily based, as we have discussed in a number of articles, on sources recorded by Manetho in the 3rd century BC and misinterpreted as a chronological account by later historians. Manetho recorded a number of dynasties that likely co-existed in various parts of Egypt, so Egyptian history appears by his accounts to reach back farther than other ancient historical records—both biblical and extra-biblical—would indicate. (See the references linked below for more information about the discrepancies between traditional Egyptian timelines and both secular and biblical sources.)
The global Flood, based on the biblical record, occurred around 2348–2300 BC. Dispersion from the tower of Babel occurred some time after the Flood. Among those to depart from Babel would of course have been the first inhabitants of Egypt.3.
Some think the biblical Mizraim—Noah’s grandson—and Menes could be the same person, but we cannot be sure. We do not know how many years elapsed before the people who dispersed from Babel to settle in the northeastern portion of Africa became politically united. In any case, the Red and White Crowns symbolized the king—known to us as Narmer or Menes—who ultimately united the northern and southern regions of Egypt. He was the founder of Egypt’s first dynasty. Therefore the carving may well depict this ruler on the eve of acquiring power over the land nourished by the Nile River. The date for that landmark political event must of course be after the time of the global Flood.
Full-size replica of Noah’s Ark in the Netherlands is complete.
Johan Huibers, a Dutch Christian contractor, has completed his full-size replica of Noah’s Ark. Johan’s Ark opened to the public on December 10. Towering above the landscape from its moorings in Dordrecht, Netherlands, south of Rotterdam, the ark floats as a testimony to Johan Huibers’ faith—and Noah’s faith—in God’s Word. After all, the Bible tells us Noah had faith in what God said would happen and therefore prepared the ark (Hebrews 11:7).
Life-size replicas of many animals populate Johan’s Ark, which is designed to house them in corrals or pens. Johan’s Ark, because it is built to the size God specified for the original ark nearly 4,500 years ago, would accommodate representatives of all the created kinds of animals. The Ark Encounter project in Kentucky has research underway to more fully address just what those created kinds likely were, and some preliminary results have already been published. (See below for more information.) Image credit: AP Photo/Peter Dejong.
Johan Huibers shown with the Ark Encounter’s senior vice president Mike Zovath (left) when Zovath visited in 2011 while Johan’s Ark was still under construction. Huibers designed his ark to accommodate up to 3,000 visitors per day. Zovath say, “Johan and his family have done a tremendous job and they have a wonderful attraction that will intrigue thousands of guests.” Image credit: Mike Zovath.
The Bible also tells us that Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). Noah preached of God’s coming judgment in the form of a worldwide Flood, and Noah’s message was ignored by all but his close family. Huibers, because he believes God’s promise symbolized in the rainbow (Genesis 9:11–17), knows the entire earth will never be flooded again. But Huibers hopes his ark will visually preach a message that draws people to understand God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
“I want to make people question [their purpose on earth] so that they go looking for answers,” he said, and he wants them to go to the Bible for those answers. He hopes many will trust the God of the Bible to tell them the truth once they appreciate the magnitude of the biblical Ark. Based on the cubit measurements God gave to Noah, Huibers designed his ark to be 427 feet (130 meters) long, 95 feet (29 meters) across, and 75 feet (23 meters) high.
Huibers, a contractor, had hoped to take his ark to London for the Olympics, but modern codes regulations made that impractical. Completed now, and supplied with animal models, a movie theater, kids’ games, a restaurant, and displays showing life in Bible times, Johan’s Ark is already helping people see how Noah’s family was able to care for the animals God sent to him. The ark has demonstrations of features Noah likely incorporated such as water pumps (to manage potable water inside the ark!), a system of levers to lift hay bales, and food storage areas. On the upper deck rimming the ark, he designed a system like Noah could have used to collect rainwater as well as an area where animals could possibly have been able to exercise in the months Noah waited for the waters to completely subside. (Remember, the biblical ark’s “voyage” lasted about a year, extending for months after the initial time of violently rising water.)
Mike Zovath, Senior Vice President of the Ark Encounter project here in Kentucky (south of Cincinnati), visited with Johan Huibers in July 2011 while construction was still underway. Zovath said,
It is an amazing construction project, and built by only a handful of people, mostly Johan's family members. He wants an attraction that will give guests a sense of wonder and make them want to go to the Bible. Johan and his family have done a tremendous job and they have a wonderful attraction that will intrigue thousands of guests. The popularity of his floating ark and the number of articles that have been written about it, and the number of guests that have already made the trip to see it even before it was open to the public, validates the widespread interest of Noah and his Ark worldwide. It encourages me and keeps our team focused on designing to accommodate very large crowds of guests when the Ark Encounter opens.
Asked how Johan’s Ark compares with the Ark Encounter project planned for Kentucky, Zovath said that while both arks are built to biblical measurements, the Ark Encounter project addresses the shipbuilding processes Noah likely used. Huibers utilized steel barges welded together and then covered with wood, and he also modified the design to accommodate a more “free-flowing” crowd. Huibers interpreted the animal areas as large corrals or pens, whereas the Ark Encounter project is preparing more cage-like enclosures. Both offer a great deal of teaching, but the Ark Encounter, Zovath says, “will have a lot more cages and food storage areas. And we plan to provide even more explanations of the processes that Noah may have used to deal with day-to-day life on board. We will also incorporate more teaching about a variety of topics in our Ark Encounter and include a more direct evangelistic emphasis and message.”
European visitors are already impressed with the details Huibers has included. As one visitor, Martin Konijn, reports, “You might know the story of Noah, okay, but if you see this you begin to get an idea of how it would actually have worked in practice.” And that is the idea Johan Huibers and the Ark Encounter both want to get across: Noah’s Ark was a real boat—a very big boat—designed to accomplish God’s purposes in preserving life through the global Flood.
The journalist writing about the ark in Dordrecht wrote that Johan’s Ark is up to biblical measurements and is “Perhaps not big enough to fit every species on Earth, two by two, as described in the Bible, but plenty of space, for instance, for a pair elephants to dance a tango.” This comment reflects a common misunderstanding.
The Ark Encounter will focus heavily on the number and types of animals necessary to preserve all the “kinds” of air-breathing animals on the Ark. Zovath says, “We want to make the explanation of ‘kinds’ a key topic early in our guest experience so guests understand that not every species we see today had to have a place on the Ark.” Of course, Johan’s Ark is big enough, as was Noah’s, to accommodate at least two of every created kind of air-breathing animal on board, but those numbers are not as large as many people assume. Many species are variations of the same “kind” of animal, and a great deal of biodiversity has therefore developed since the time of the Flood.
Like Johan Huibers, those involved in planning the Ark Encounter project are Christians that want people to realize that the account of Noah’s Ark and the Flood is not a cute story for nursery wallpaper cartoons and bathtub toys but rather one of the most important events in the history of the world. Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8) because he believed God. Noah built the ark and entered it because he believed God. Because we believe God’s Word, we also want to share with people the message of the judgment all people deserve at the hands of our God but also the good news that God’s grace through Christ is freely available through faith and trust in Him. The “answers in Genesis” that we—and Johan Huibers—urgently want to point people to all ultimately lead to Jesus Christ.
Sungrazing comet promises a great show for Christmas 2013.
Because sungrazing comets closely approach the fiery heat of our sun, they tend to put on a great show. Much of their ice melts to leave a magnificent tail of dust and gas visible from earth. Discovered on September 21, 2012, by astronomers at Russia’s International Scientific Optical Network observatory and confirmed by additional observations, the sungrazing comet C/2012 S2 (ISON) is streaking toward our sun. It is set to swing within 1.16 million miles of it in the weeks before Christmas 2013. The comet should reach its closest point (perihelion) on November 28, 2013.
Experts predict the Christmas comet, which has yet to actually acquire a nickname, will rival the Great Comet of 1680. That comet frightened many people but delighted Sir Isaac Newton, who saw the comet as a way to observationally confirm his theories of gravitation on a truly grand scale. Newton, a Bible-believer who believed God created an orderly universe, saw the hand of God manifested in his discoveries. Newton, one of the greatest scientists of all time, soon afterward published his theory of gravitation in Principia Mathematica. He was able to include this comet as an observable example supporting his theories.4
Contemporary reports of the 1680 comet include many eyewitness accounts in writing and in art. In his book The Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America, John Fiske describes observations of the comet by the Dutch settlers of Manhattan:
At first it was tailless and dim, like a nebulous cloud, but at the end of a week the tail began to show itself and in a second week had attained a length of 30 degrees; in the third week it extended to 70 degrees, while the whole mass was growing brighter. After five weeks it seemed to be absorbed into the intense glare of the sun, but in four days more it reappeared like a blazing sun itself in the throes of some giant convulsion and threw out a tail in the opposite direction as far as the whole distance between the sun and the earth.5
Astronomy Now is predicting this sungrazer’s arrival will be “a once-in-a-civilization’s-lifetime event.” The best views in the Northern Hemisphere are expected to be those as the comet blooms during its approach to the sun, and astronomers predict the bright visitor to our sky could appear brighter than a full moon.6 By the day after Christmas, it should be 39,000,000 miles from earth.7 It should remain visible to the naked eye until mid-January 2014.6 Also expected in 2013 is Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4), set to show up in March, but the Christmas comet should outshine it.6
The Scientific American article describing the comet and reprinted on numerous websites opens with the words, “As it flares out of the distant Oort Cloud . . . .” As with the comet expected in March, this comet’s current path is typical of the path that would be expected in a comet originating from the hypothetical comet birthplace. Doubtless these words are merely an introductory comment by the journalist, as the Oort cloud has never actually been observed.
The Oort cloud was hypothesized as a birthplace for long-period comets, for if the solar system were really as old as currently conventional cosmology claims, such comets would have fizzled long ago.8 The ne’er-been-observed Oort cloud is supposed to be located at the outer reaches of our sun’s gravitational influence. Astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner of University of South Carolina Lancaster, who will soon be joining the full-time staff of Answers in Genesis, says,
This sungrazer comet has an orbit that's virtually parabolic, as near as we can tell. That means that its orbital path extends very far out from the sun, which, if the Oort cloud exists, would be in the region of the Oort cloud. However, more than 25 years ago the late Carl Sagan observed that there is no direct evidence that the Oort cloud exists. The situation hasn't changed since then. I'm looking forward to this comet. Its orbit is very similar to the great comet of 1680. If this comet behaves in even a remotely similar manner to that comet, we will be in for quite a show.
The year 2013 promises to be a great year for observing stellar events. It will also be a good time to remember that these comets could not survive for millions of years. As the time of their appearance draws close, we will surely see the appearance of “educational” programs with convincing computer graphics explaining the Oort cloud origin for such comets. Children at school will learn about comets—for the sky will be a great place for all to observe—and they also will hear about the Oort cloud as if its existence were documented. But we should remember that the only reason to propose the existence of the Oort cloud—which has additional problems you can read about at More Problems for the ‘Oort Comet Cloud’—was to explain how these fascinating comets could exist in a universe billions of years old. Their very existence, however, is consistent with a young creation as described in the Bible.
Recalibration of molecular clock marches ape-human divergence back to encompass a greater evolutionary ancestral family.
Evolutionists agree—without support—that apes and humans share a common ancestor. They consider this “history” to be self-evident: in their attempt to explain life without God they must supply evolutionary ancestors for all living things, and the most “obvious” choice for the immediate ancestor of humans would need to be a beast possessing similar designs—something ape-like. But what they don’t agree on is when the ape-human divergence from this hypothetical ancestor took place. The feature cover story in the November 26, 2012, New Scientist, “Our true dawn: Pinning down human origins,” calls attention to recent studies of the human mutation rate and chimpanzee generation time to deliver a solution to this topic of evolutionary debate. In so doing, evolutionary authors open up the ancestral timetable for practically any extinct ape in Africa.
“Our true dawn: Pinning down human origins” recounts the debate between evolutionary paleoanthropologists and evolutionary geneticists. Molecular clock calculations are based on mutation rates estimated by comparing human, chimpanzee, and orangutan genomic differences. Using that method, evolutionary geneticists have suggested ape and human ancestral lines diverged from their common ancestor about 4 million years ago. However, paleoanthropologists reach deep into the African “cradle of humanity” to point out that australopithecines, the oldest fossil family they currently hold to be ancestral to humans, already had “human features” like bipedality and small teeth around 4 million years ago. Therefore australopithecine evolutionary forebears would have had to split from the ape-like common ancestor many millions of years earlier.
“Geneticists ignored the paleontologists completely,” according to paleoanthropologist Owen Lovejoy, known for his work promoting the idea that “Lucy” was bipedal.9 “We would get estimates around 4 million years [from the geneticists], and yet there are unmistakable and highly evolved hominins that go back almost 4 million years. To claim a 4 million year divergence date is just silly.”
More recently discoveries of austrolopithecine fossils bearing even older evolutionary dates stretch the envelope backwards even further. And the debate has left other even “older” alleged candidates for ancestral hominin without a branch to stand on: Ardipithecus ramidus at 4.4 million, Sahelanthropus tchadensis at 6–7 million, and Orrorin tugenensis at 6 million just didn’t seem to fit anywhere on the human ancestral tree.
Kevin Langergraber and colleagues have now documented that modern chimp and gorilla genomes do not mutate as fast as previously thought. They also found that the generation time—the average time between the birth of parents and the birth of offspring—is longer than previously thought. As John Hawks in a PNAS analysis of their work explains, “Long generations, with few genetic mutations in each, mean that the clock of genetic substitutions has ticked very slowly during the evolution of humans and apes.”10.
“Fossils and molecular data are two independent sources of information that should in principle provide consistent inferences of when evolutionary lineages diverged. Here we use an alternative approach to genetic inference of species split times in recent human and ape evolution that is independent of the fossil record,” Langergraber writes. “We date the human–chimpanzee split to at least 7–8 million years and the population split between Neanderthals and modern humans to 400,000–800,000 y ago. This suggests that molecular divergence dates may not be in conflict with the attribution of 6- to 7-million-y-old fossils to the human lineage and 400,000-y-old fossils to the Neanderthal lineage.”11.
So, is this “case-closed” in favor of human evolutionary ideas? Not at all. The assumptions underlying the interpretations of this data remain as unverifiable and worldview-based as ever. The experimental, observable science cited here reveals that the modern ape genome doesn’t mutate as quickly as previously thought. But the fossils claimed as human ancestors remain as “ape” as ever. We have previously discussed extensively the problems with the claims that these fossils were bipedal and therefore “obviously” evolving toward human-ness. (See below for articles explaining these problems as well as the unverifiable assumptions underlying the evolutionary interpretations of radiometric dating methods and molecular clocks.) Yet calculations of how long it would take to accumulate enough mutations to make a transition from ape-like ancestor to human are no more valid when based on modern chimpanzee mutation rates than they are when based on comparison of modern human and ape genomes. Even the techniques used to compare ape and human genomes are fraught with bias, as detailed in a 2011 Answers Research Journal analysis.12
The fact is, nothing in observable experimental science demonstrates a transition from ape-like ancestor to human—not in the fossil record and not in the genome. Similarities, such as they are, are examples of common designs by a Common Designer, our Creator God. Apes and humans were created on the same day, about 6,000 years ago, and like all living things were created to reproduce “after their kinds.” Science shows us that living things, including humans and all sorts of animals and plants, do vary within their created kinds but do not change into new kinds of creatures. Evolutionists may rejoice to welcome a flock of new apes into the human family history, but the real record of history found in the Bible and supported by the science we actually see in the world does not support their interpretations.
How do kids raised by same-sex gay partners fare in life? A study of a large sample of cases published this year in Social Science Research raises serious concerns. Author Mark Regnerus says his unbiased team was not concerned about politics. His results “call into question simplistic notions of ‘no differences.’” Comparing adult children raised by same-sex female partners to those raised in heterosexual and single parent homes, Regnerus concludes:
Even after including controls for age, race, gender, and things like being bullied as a youth, or the gay-friendliness of the state in which they live, such respondents were more apt to report being unemployed, less healthy, more depressed, more likely to have cheated on a spouse or partner, smoke more pot, had trouble with the law, report more male and female sex partners, more sexual victimization, and were more likely to reflect negatively on their childhood family life, among other things. Why such dramatic differences? I can only speculate, since the data are not poised to pinpoint causes. One notable theme among the adult children of same-sex parents, however, is household instability, and plenty of it. The children of fathers who have had same-sex relationships fare a bit better, but they seldom reported living with their father for very long, and never with his partner for more than three years.”
Regnerus also reports that products of same-sex homes have more problems with anxiety, depression, and relationship-building. The traditional family designed by God, with a stable marriage of one man and one woman, is—not surprisingly—the best choice for children and for society. These results confirm that laws permitting homosexual couples to adopt children are not good for either children or for society.
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard 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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