1. Christian Post: “Louie Giglio Withdraws from Obama Inauguration Ceremony

Pastor who once preached against homosexual behavior no longer to pray at president’s Inauguration.

Well-known Georgia pastor, humanitarian, and youth conference leader Louie Giglio, who was chosen to offer the closing prayer at President Barack Obama’s inauguration later this month, withdrew from the ceremony this week. His departure comes on the heels of the Obama Administration’s discovery that Giglio had delivered a sermon in the mid-1990s where he calls homosexual behavior sinful.

Addie Whisenant, a Whitehouse spokeswoman, explained the situation in a recent statement:

We were not aware of Pastor Giglio's past comments at the time of his selection and they don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural. Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration's vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.1

In explaining his withdrawal, Pastor Giglio wrote that “Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years.”2 Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, observed, however, that Pastor Giglio’s explanation of why he withdrew from the Inauguration did not include a statement of his current beliefs on homosexual behavior. Dr. Mohler, noted in an article about the debacle that “a fair-minded reading of that statement indicates that Pastor Giglio has strategically avoided any confrontation with the issue of homosexuality for at least 15 years.”

But Giglio’s exclusion from the Inauguration based on his beliefs (at least, what he believed almost 20 years ago) about homosexual behavior may signal a major turn for our country. Mohler predicts that believers in the future will be questioned about their views on homosexuality, and included or excluded accordingly.

The influence of the homosexual agenda is expanding in the U.S. and the UK. Just this month, the U.S. Supreme Court set dates to hear two landmark cases concerning same-sex marriage, the results of which will either affirm the biblical definition of marriage or pave the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage. And at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., an Episcopal cathedral chartered by the U.S. government and the venue for presidential prayer services, recently decided to begin performing same-sex marriages on site.

The UK, it seems, has already reached a tipping point on “gay” marriage. Prime Minister David Cameron has pushed to allow same-sex partners to marry in British churches, saying, “I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don't want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.” In the midst of that battle, the Church of England has announced that it will allow men who identify as homosexual and are in civil partnerships to become bishops, provided they remain celibate.

No matter what rulings courts make or what legislation governments pass, it is God who is the ultimate authority in every area of life. He is the only One who can rule on homosexual behavior, and He already has. The Creator God established marriage in the first place and intended it to be between one man and one woman for life (Genesis 1:27, 2:24; Matthew 19:4–6). The U.S. government is redefining morality and enforcing its own secularist religion on the people. Christians must stand boldly in the face of these attacks on Scripture, both inside and outside the church, and contend for the faith—even if it involves a “hot potato” issue that some Christian leaders might prefer to avoid altogether.

Thanks to Steve Golden for his work on this news item.

For more information:

2. NASA: “Researchers Identify Water Rich Meteorite Linked to Mars Crust

Evidence of water in Martian meteorite suggests a wet past for the Red Planet.

A meteorite thought to have originated from Mars has proportionally more “indigenous water”3 than other meteorites that have been analyzed. Scientists speculate the meteorite is evidence that the Red Planet had a warm, wet past.

meteoriteThis eleven-ounce fist-sized meteorite contains a higher concentration of molecular water than other meteorites thought to have come from Mars. The meteorite is a conglomerate of basalt, feldspar, and pyroxene. Water is thought to have been incorporated into it when the magma that produced its volcanic components was cooling.Researchers believe the meteorite is evidence that Mars had a wetter past than previously thought. (The reference cube is a centimeter on each side.) Image credit: Carl Agee news.sciencemag.org

The fist-sized meteorite nicknamed “Black Beauty”—aka Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034—was bought in Morocco in 2011. Like the Shergotty, Nakhla, and Chassigny (SNC) meteorites, also thought to have come from Mars, it contains macromolecular organic carbon, but its composition differs enough to consider it in a class by itself. Importantly, Black Beauty’s composition is consistent with the chemical composition of surface rocks and outcrops on Mars as assessed by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers and the Mars Odyssey Orbiter. Black Beauty’s geochemistry is a much better match for the Martian crust than the 110 known SNC meteorites.

“The texture of the NWA meteorite is not like any of the SNC meteorites,” says Andrew Steele, who led the carbon analysis at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory. “This is an exciting measurement in Mars and planetary science. We now have more context than ever before to understanding where they may come from.”

“The contents of this meteorite may challenge many long held notions about Martian geology,” adds John Grunsfeld of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. “These findings also present an important reference frame for the Curiosity rover as it searches for reduced organics in the minerals exposed in the bedrock of Gale Crater.”

The concentration of molecular water in the rock is about 6000 parts per million, which is 10 to 30 times that found in other suspected Martian meteorites. It is unlikely that the water in the meteorite was acquired as an earthly contaminant, for the oxygen isotopes are not in the same proportions as that normally seen on earth. The meteorite is a conglomerate with volcanic components, so researchers suspect that Martian ground water was incorporated into its minerals as it cooled.

Researchers interpret radiometric measurements of the meteorite to mean its volcanic components solidified 2.1 billions years ago. Those interpretations are based on the same unverifiable worldview-based assumptions as such measurements on earth rocks. (See below to learn more about this.) In relative terms, the NASA researchers studying the meteorite believe it to be older than other meteorites they have studied.

“This Martian meteorite has everything in its composition that you'd want in order to further our understanding of the Red Planet,” explains Carl Agee of University of New Mexico's Institute of Meteoritics in Albuquerque. “This unique meteorite tells us what volcanism was like on Mars 2 billion years ago. It also gives us a glimpse of ancient surface and environmental conditions on Mars that no other meteorite has ever offered.”

Knowing that Mars may have once had a wetter composition gives many evolutionary researchers hope that Martian research will discover evidence that life evolved there. After all, one of the main goals for the expensive Curiosity mission is to look once again for evidence of such life. Evolutionists believe that life could well have evolved in any environment where the habitable conditions include liquid water. But would finding evidence of past life on Mars demonstrate it evolved? No. Conditions on Mars may well have not always been what they are today, but that possibility does not mean life could evolve there—or anywhere else.

Even on earth, there is no known mechanism by which life could have evolved from nonliving elements, nor any evidence that it did. Evolutionists eager to explain the existence of life apart from a Creator simply assume that, in violation of the observable laws of biology, life with the vast array of complex information present in even the simplest life forms evolved through natural random processes. Thus, if evidence of past life on Mars were to be found, it would in no way support the concept of molecules-to-man evolution.

3. BBC: “Fighting may have shaped evolution of human hand

The human hand had to evolve for both fighting and finesse, say evolutionary researchers.

The need to punch out rivals may have driven the evolution of the human hand, according to a study just published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. University of Utah researchers measured the strike force of martial artists striking with fists and with open palms and found that the applied force was the same. A clenched fist applies that violent force to a smaller surface area, however, and therefore can do more damage. But why can humans clench their fists when chimpanzees and bonobos don’t?

punchThe bones of the human hand are perfectly proportioned for making a fist, creating an arch-like buttressed support to protect the delicate bones while transmitting the force of a punch efficiently to a target. Image credit: www.bbc.co.uk

Analysis of the way the force is channeled through the human fist to a target and the way the hand’s anatomy supports the bones during such a punch was the main thrust of the study. Clenching the fist buttresses and supports our delicate hand bones. The proportions of the human hand’s anatomy are just right for providing this protective architecture. In addition, making a fist quadruples the stiffness of the knuckle joints, making them a more effective battering ram, as well as doubling the ability of the proximal finger bones to transmit the force of a punch.

Making a fist may seem trivial, but apes generally don’t to it. Chimpanzee “fists” are more like donuts. The human hand seems designed to deliver a damaging punch. But the human hand is also optimized for manual dexterity. The researchers note that there are multiple engineering possibilities that could have made the human hand able to manipulate objects with great precision, but only the actual design of the hand is suitable for both punching and precise manipulation.

“There may, however, be only one set of skeletal proportions that allows the hand to function both as a mechanism for precise manipulation and as a club for striking,” the researchers write. “Ultimately, the evolutionary significance of the human hand may lie in its remarkable ability to serve two seemingly incompatible, but intrinsically human, functions.”

The researchers note that no one else has presented this sort of evolutionary analysis before and speculate the reason may be our reluctance to admit to our violent nature. Co-author David Carrier says, “I think there is a lot of . . . resistance to the idea that, at some level humans are by nature aggressive animals. I actually think that attitude, and the people who have tried to make the case that we don't have a nature - those people have not served us well. I think we would be better off if we faced the reality that we have these strong emotions and sometimes they prime us to behave in violent ways. I think if we acknowledged that we'd be better able to prevent violence in future.”

While this study highlights the fine multipurpose design of the human hand, it does not lend support to the notion of human evolution from ape-like ancestors. The human hand can do things no animal hand can because God designed it that way. Nothing in the study demonstrates evolutionary transitional designs en route from ape-like hands to ours. The study analyzes human anatomy as it exists. The researchers, like all who try to explain the existence of life without God, only assume without any scientific support that because our excellent hands exist, they must have evolved from inferior simpler forms.

Why do we punch? The evolutionary writer presumes we humans are violent animals by nature who just don’t like to admit it. But God reports in the Bible that He created human beings as perfectly good people who then chose to rebel against Him. Adam’s decision to rebel against our Creator brought the Curse and resulting violence into the world, and it probably wasn’t long before humans started using their fists on each other. Many aspects of human anatomy render a person more vulnerable than animals to physical violence, so we could speculate that God provided a bit more protection to the multi-functional hand of the human, who needs to preserve functional hand anatomy to be able to manipulate objects with precision. But nothing about having the ability to punch somebody means God primarily intended the fist to be used that way or that it evolved for such a purpose. A hand that is protected when clenched is simply a good design. And a clenched fist is very useful in crushing nuts, kneading bread dough, or packing dirt around a newly planted bush. So there is no reason to think that God designed it for punching one another.

Humans do have a violent and sinful nature and have had it since Adam sinned. Cain’s murder of Abel demonstrates that rebellion against God gave way to human violence very soon. But while our violent nature is evident in our history, it did not drive the evolution of our anatomy. God designed our hand anatomy from the beginning. Nothing about the hand’s design demonstrates how it came to be. The complex anatomy of the hand also cannot be reduced to a simple and crude combination of two essential qualities—precision and punching—for every subtle anatomical feature of the hand is uniquely functional for human life. Read more about God’s design for the human hand at Our Index Finger—Pointing to the Creator.

4. ScienceDaily: “Fluctuating Environment May Have Driven Human Evolution

Environmentally driven changes in diet said to have driven evolution of humans

Rapid changes in environmental conditions at the crucial time our supposed primitive ancestors were evolving their human characteristics may have stimulated the evolution of man, according to a study from Penn State geoscientists. By analyzing the carbon isotopes in fossilized leaf wax from early Pleistocene rock in northern Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge, graduate student Clayton Magill and geoscience professor Katherine Freeman found that the east African ecosystem transitioned abruptly back and forth between wet woodland and drier grassland. This region is part of East Africa’s so-called “cradle of humanity” where evolutionists believe ape-like creatures began walking upright4 and developing bigger brains in their pathway to humanity about two million years ago.

Olduvai

The authors of two recently published studies in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined the isotopes in fossilized material from Olduvai Gorge, a place where evolutionists claim much of the evolutionary transition to humanity occurred. The region is conventionally dated at about two million years. They found that the ecosystem of the region had undergone many abrupt transitions that likely affected the terrain and the food supply of whoever and whatever lived there long ago. Image credit: researcher and study co-author Gail Ashley, www.sciencedaily.com.

Different sorts of plants preferentially utilize different isotopes of naturally available carbon during photosynthesis. Thus, by analyzing organic material—such as fossilized leaf wax—in various sedimentary layers, geoscientists are able to determine that certain types of plants were likely prevalent when those sedimentary layers were deposited.

Correlation of the data demonstrated—not surprisingly—that trees were plentiful when the climate was wetter and grassland was more plentiful when the climate was drier. The surprise to the researchers was the frequency of abrupt climactic shifts indicated in the rock record. Bible-believing geologists believe Pleistocene rock was deposited during the Ice Age in the centuries after the global Flood. (The 2 million year dates are based on worldview-based unverifiable interpretations of radiometric measurements of volcanic rock layers in the vicinity of the region where the samples were collected. Based on a worldview that accepts the Bible’s account as historical, we know that this rock is less than 4,500 years old.)

“The research points to the importance of water in an arid landscape like Africa,” says Magill. “The plants are so intimately tied to the water that if you have water shortages, they usually lead to food insecurity.”

The researchers assert that the rapid shifts in climate with resultant alterations in available terrain and food forced our hominid ancestors to walk upright and think of ways to adapt to dietary challenges. Evolutionists believe that primitive hominid ancestors like Homo erectus gradually developed greater intellect and bigger brains as they had to figure out how to survive without trees and learn to put their hands to work making tools and cooking food. Cooked food can supply lots of calories more efficiently than grazing all day, so many evolutionists believe culinary arts fueled the development of the human brain from ape-like predecessors. (See News to Note, end-of-year 2012 for more on that Promethean theory.)

Magill says, “Early humans went from having trees available to having only grasses available in just 10 to 100 generations, and their diets would have had to change in response. Changes in food availability, food type, or the way you get food can trigger evolutionary mechanisms to deal with those changes. The result can be increased brain size and cognition, changes in locomotion and even social changes—how you interact with others in a group. Our data are consistent with these hypotheses. We show that the environment changed dramatically over a short time, and this variability coincides with an important period in our human evolution when the genus Homo was first established and when there was first evidence of tool use.” He adds, “Together, these two papers shine light on human evolution because we now have an adaptive perspective. We understand, at least to a first approximation, what kinds of conditions were prevalent in that area and we show that changes in food and water were linked to major evolutionary changes.”

The rapid changes in vegetation and climate discovered by the researchers are consistent with the meteorological instability that prevailed in the world following the global Flood. Unique conditions triggered the Ice Age in the centuries after the Flood, and continuing climate changes produced the transformation of some wet areas to desert—including the “great drying of Africa” to which the article refers. In the centuries following the global Flood and the eventual dispersion from the tower of Babel, humans did face many environment challenges as they spread out through the world, but they were already equipped intellectually with fully human brains. God created Adam and Eve fully human on the same day as land animals about 6,000 years ago. Humans did not develop from ape-like ancestors, and no amount of ecological challenge could have enabled ape-like creatures to acquire the genetic information to transform their brains into those of humans.

5. The Atlantic: “The Pill: Contraceptive or Abortifacient?”

Semantics matter: what does “the pill” do?

With legislation set to go into effect requiring private employers to provide abortifacients as an insurance benefit, Liberty University English professor Karen Swallow Prior has called attention to the increasingly sloppy usage of relevant terms in the controversy. Unclear and confusing language in this instance is not inconsequential but actually muddies the moral waters. And an important aspect of this problem, Dr. Prior writes, is the need “for some political, scientific, and moral clarity on the birth control pill.” What does “the pill” do, and what does it not do?

pills

Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs), a familiar daily sight to millions of American women since acquiring FDA approval as a contraceptive in the 1960s, typically contain low doses of two hormones. OCPs fool a woman’s hormonal regulatory mechanisms in order to inhibit ovulation. But what happens if ovulation and then fertilization do occur? Image credit: motorolka/Shutterstock through www.theatlantic.com

What is the difference between contraception and abortion? Historically, until pro-abortion activists began to push for a change of definition,5 conception was synonymous with fertilization—the union of a sperm and an egg. A human life begins at fertilization. Therefore, contraception has traditionally meant prevention of fertilization. In practical terms, this requires preventing contact between sperm and ova (eggs). Oral contraceptives (OCPs) accomplish this with reasonable success primarily by preventing ovulation. OCPs fool a woman’s hormonal regulatory systems with low daily doses of hormones. But if an accidental ovulation occurs and an egg is produced and fertilized, do OCPs prevent implantation of an embryo in the uterus?

This question, in the past, was primarily discussed among conservative pro-life professionals. As our knowledge has increased, it has become clear to most of us that OCPs neither prevent implantation nor damage the unborn child exposed to them. Lately, this question is attracting much more attention. Why?

As most of our readers are aware, the new health care law—aka Obamacare—opens the door for non-elected bureaucrats to demand “morning after pills”—often called “emergency contraceptives”—be routinely covered as an employee health benefit. These medications are abortifacients intended to prevent or disrupt the implantation of an embryo, thereby leading to the death of the child.6 Many Christians believe their duty to God requires that they not pay for abortions, even those accomplished invisibly and quietly using medications. Therefore, many Christian colleges and Christian-owned businesses have filed lawsuits begging our courts to protect several constitutional freedoms that Obamacare violates. (See News to Note, December 1, 2012 to learn more.)

As public debate has heated up, Dr. Prior notes there has been increasingly sloppy use of terminology. Of course, these semantic games didn’t just begin. When various medical organizations agreed to change the definition of conception to make it synonymous with implantation, deceptive words entered our language. Since several days elapse between fertilization and implantation, this change allowed health care providers to administer abortifacients under the guise of contraception. Ethically, this is killing a human being with impunity on the basis of a semantic technicality.

Since Obamacare has been on the firing line, the media and scientists are now paying more attention to how ordinary oral contraceptives (OCPs) work. Dr. Prior writes, “Some pro-lifers, this one included, find it at least a little bit suspect that now, in the midst of controversy around this issue . . . scientists are suddenly backtracking on long-held views about how the birth control pill works.”

OCPs, in addition to preventing ovulation, thin the lining of the uterus. Does OCP-induced thinning of the uterine lining render it unreceptive to an embryo? If so, then OCPs would be abortifacients also. If people can be convinced that oral contraceptives—which enjoy wide acceptance—have been doing the same thing as the “morning after pill” all along, then support for mandated medical coverage for abortifacients may well slide in to favor on the slippery slope of morality by public consensus.

Though some pro-lifers err on the side of caution, most physicians—including myself and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists—are convinced that OCPs do not cause embryo loss. Why would this be? It turns out that the lining of the uterus is never prepared for the implantation of an embryo—whether a woman is “taking the pill” or not—prior to ovulation. OCPs prevent ovulation, but when a “breakthrough ovulation” occurs it is possible to get pregnant. Once fertilization occurs—whether the woman is “on the pill” or not—the post-ovulation ovary continues producing the hormones needed to prepare the lining of the uterus for implantation. God’s design is such that while the fertilized egg is traveling down the fallopian tube, the uterus is preparing to receive it. Ordinary OCPs do not disrupt this process, but “emergency contraceptives” do.

The author of The Atlantic article mentions that the “morning after pill” delays ovulation and implies there is thus little moral difference between it and conventional OCPs. We disagree. When a “morning after pill” is taken before ovulation and succeeds in delaying ovulation until all living sperm scattered through the woman's reproductive tract have died, then it prevents fertilization. If this were the only mechanism by which “morning after pills” worked then—insofar as the risk of destroying a human life is concerned—they would be morally indistinguishable from conventional OCPs.7

Yet inhibition of ovulation is only one of the ways “emergency contraceptives” work. If ovulation has already occurred and the ovum has gotten or gets fertilized, then the only way for “emergency contraceptives” to prevent the continuation of the pregnancy is to prevent or disrupt the implantation. Some people claim that “emergency contraceptives” merely thin the lining of the uterus the same way ordinary OCPs do and that they therefore work in the same way. If that were the case, however, then “emergency contraceptives” would be quite unreliable. Drugs used as “emergency contraceptives” are effective because they do not simply thin the uterine lining the way ordinary OCPs do, but actively interfere with the embryo's implantation.

It is important to have our terminology straight as the public debate on this topic continues, lest semantics be used to distort truth.

“Reproductive freedom” is a concept that has received a great deal of attention since the advent of pharmacological contraceptives. Men and women make many choices in life, including whether to obey God’s moral law that reserves sexual activity to marriage. But when an inconvenient or unwanted pregnancy occurs, regardless of life circumstances, that “freedom” should not include the right to murder another human being. The embryonic human life produced has a right to live, and killing him or her by either dismembering the body (one common method of conventional abortion) or by using powerful drugs to deny him or her the opportunity to grow in the mother’s uterus is reprehensible, and “reproductive freedom” should never include those options. And if the law of the land for forty years since Roe v. Wade has allowed women to abort their babies in the name of “reproductive freedom,” our constitutionally protected freedoms should at least prevent private citizens and the businesses and institutions in their care from having to pay for women to kill their unborn children.

For more information:

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Are humans primates? We hear so often that we are. A brief Smithsonian blog “Why Are Humans Primates?” does a nice job of explaining the characteristics we share with various primates in the animal kingdom. In the biological sense, humans can be thought of as primates. But humans are not animals. We are made in the image of God, which distinguishes us from all animals. And we are endowed with a far more advanced intellect that enables us to think abstractly and understand our world and our God. Acknowledging which characteristics we share with chimps and don’t share with dogs is not the same thing as acknowledging common ancestry with animals that are more like us. God used a number of design features creatively and repetitively as He created each kind of animal and man. Similar designs—whether anatomical, biochemical, or genetic—do not lend support to evolutionary notions. Similar designs are exactly what we would expect from the Common Designer that all living things share, our awesome Creator God. For more information: If human and chimp DNA are so similar, why are there so many physical and mental differences between them? and Are Humans and Chimps Related?.

For more information: Get Answers


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Footnotes

  1. Karen McVeigh, “Obama Inauguration Pastor Backs Out after Anti-gay Remarks Are Revealed,” The Guardian (UK), www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/10/obama-inauguration-ouie-giglio-gay-remarks. Back
  2. www.passioncitychurch.com/blog/?p=1436 Back
  3. www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2013/01/02/science.1228858 Back
  4. News to Note, end-of-year 2012 Back
  5. Semantics Don’t Change Truth: The social motivations behind new definitions Back
  6. In contrast to the question of whether or not conventional OCPs prevent implantation, some have gone so far as to assert that not even the “morning after pill” prevents implantation (www.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/health/research/morning-after-pills-dont-block-implantation-science-suggests.html). Given that there is no know way to detect the presence of the developing human embryo prior to implantation, this question is difficult to resolve conclusively. However, FDA labeling continues to indicate prevention of implantation as a mechanism of action for these medications. And “emergency contraceptives” include some formulations intended to be effective not just “the day after” but for “up to five days after” unprotected intercourse (this includes “ella” www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/13/AR2010081305098.html). If given after ovulation has occurred, it is virtually impossible for emergency contraceptives to be effective unless they do interfere with implantation. Scientists really do not know exactly how these medications work. But as a recent Princeton review of emergency contraception acknowledges, “Nevertheless, statistical evidence on the effectiveness of combined ECPs suggests that that if the regimen is as effective as claimed, it must have a mechanism of action other than delaying or preventing ovulation” (ec.princeton.edu/questions/ec-review.pdf). As Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists said during the FDA’s evaluation of the five-day post-coital contraceptive ella, “It kills embryos, just like the abortion pill. It’s embryotoxic” (www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/health/fda-panel-weighs-longer-working-option-to-morning-after-pill-250906/). Back
  7. The difficulty in quickly determining the timing of ovulation in an individual woman and the lifespan of both her ovum and sperm living within her reproductive tract make it impractical to be certain that only fertilization is being prevented. Thus, any argument suggesting the use of “morning after pills” be permissible for pre-ovulatory women is absurd. The presence of a fertilized pre-implantation embryo is undetectable. Pregnancy tests in these situations remain negative because the “pregnancy hormone” on which tests are based (HCG) cannot enter the mother’s bloodstream until the embryo has implanted somewhere. Any embryo created is subsequently destroyed by the same medications due to their action on the lining of the uterus. Back