News & Notes
1. If you are interested in attending the 1999 Does God Exist? Summer Seminar in Lebanon, Tennessee, we need to hear from you. Pre-registration is requested. We must have adequate materials made up and the logistics of meals set up, etc. To do so requires us to know how many will be there.
2. Every year we print an index for the previous year's issue of this journal. If you would like one, send us a self-addressed stamped (33¢) envelope, and we will send it to you.
3. We always prepare an End-of-the-Year Report which details the previous year's work. This report tells what has been done by this program, gives a financial account, and tells about our plans for the future. If you contribute to this work, one will be sent you automatically; but if not, send us a self-addressed stamped (33¢ or 55¢ for both the index and the Year-End report) and we will send one to you.
4. The God's Revelation Through His Rocks and His Word book that we have mentioned in the past is still available for $2.50 ppd. This book goes into the Genesis account and compares the geological and fossil record with Genesis. The special offer for this book and A Christian View of Evolution by Phillip Eichman is still available for $5.50 ppd.
5. This journal is available on cassette for the visually impaired free of charge. Just send us a request with an address and we will be glad to add that person to our visually impaired mailing list.
MORE COELACANTHS. One of the interesting stories concerning the fossil record is the story of an ancient fish called the coelacanth. This fish was shown in fossil form in old textbooks, and we were told it had been extinct for 80 million years. In 1938, scientists were astounded when a live one was caught off Cape Town, South Africa. Several more have been caught in small sections of the ocean off Madagascar and the Comoro Islands and studied. The evolutionary explanation of this has been that this small section of the ocean had conditions that were right for this fish, and so whatever made them extinct elsewhere did not affect this population.
Marine biologist Mark Erdmann was on his honeymoon on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi last summer and found a Coelacanth being sold in the local fish market. This is 6,200 miles away from the original group, but a population has been discovered. Genetic analysis should give some clues about this population. It is obvious that the word extinction may have to be used very carefully when referring to the ocean.
FROZEN EMBRYO ISSUE CONTINUES. We have mentioned the fact that scientific techniques now exist to freeze embryos so that they can be stored and later brought back to develop to a child. Our mail indicates this is a sensitive issue for many people. USA Today, December 8, 1998, ran a front page story on this item in which they report that the current number of frozen embryos is over 100,000. The same report said that the time for these embryos to continue to be viable is in the thousands of years and that in vitro fertilization is attempted over 40,000 times a year.
Let us repeat that while there are ethical and moral issues involved here, this is not a negative situation where people are playing God for the fun of it. In the United States alone, there are 5 million couples that want children but are infertile. The alternative this offers to abortion as well as to the potential for eliminating some diseases that are genetically caused can be helped as man learns to emulate some of what God has already done.
In a related issue, US News and World Report, December 28. 1998, has a short article saying that South Korean scientists have cloned a human being. This has not been validated by peer-review as yet, but our references to this in other articles has clearly been on target.
BRAIN DISORDER SOURCE. There have been several articles in this journal on brain disorders from various perspectives. Several have written asking for sources for help in some of these areas. The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives has a free booklet called "Brain Connections" which is available upon request from 745 Fifth Ave., Suite 700, New York, NY 10151.
DINOSAUR DISCOVERIES AND THEORIES GROW. It is difficult to pick up a newspaper, magazine, or a scientific journal and not find something new being proposed or reported on dinosaurs. One of the more interesting has been the work of Rich Hengst at Purdue University-Northcentral who has been studying the breathing mechanisms of the Aptosaurus. Hengst has found in his studies of the skeleton of this animal that there was no diaphragm. The diaphragm is the structure that moves up and down to move air in and out of your lungs. When you get the wind knocked out of you, the diaphragm is immobilized for a period of time. For this 30 ton creature to have breathed without a diaphragm, the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere would have to be higher than the present 21%. Gary Landis of the U.S. Geological Survey has found that bubbles of air in fossilized tree sap called amber has about 35% oxygen. There is also evidence of a higher oxygen content in the huge insects that lived at the time.
It is important to point out that, if oxygen had been as high as 35%, things would have been much more flammable. Lightning hitting a tree could produce an immediate holocaust of all combustibles in the area. The dropping of oxygen content to 21% would have caused many dinosaurs to become extinct and may have been part of the cause of their disappearance. It also demonstrates to us once again that the world of the dinosaurs was very different than our world. (Data from ASTM Standardization News, November, 1998, page 39.)
Another dinosaur story has to do with a find in Patagonia, Argentina, of thousands of dinosaur eggs scattered over a square mile site. The eggs are from sauropods (a plant eating dinosaur), and they contain embryos at various stages of development--some were about to hatch when they died. Over 70 pieces of skin from the unhatched babies were found. This answers once and for all whether this group of dinosaurs gave live birth or laid eggs and shows that eggs were laid in selected areas. National Geographic has some marvelous pictures in their December, 1998, issue, pages 34-41.
NEW HUMAN FIND? The media is at it again with overblown claims and misleading commentaries about a fossil find. An article by Pat Reber released by the AP on December 22, 1998, has been reproduced with the title "Scientists Discover Oldest Skeleton." It is subtitled "Fossils could shed light: did early humans live in trees, stand upright?" The find referred to is a fairly complete specimen found by Ron Clarke and dated to be 3.2 to 3.6 million years old.
Reading through the literature, one finds that the skeleton found was found at Sterkfontein, a quarry that has revealed a number of ape skeletons dating back to the 1930s. Eventually the literature reveals that the skeleton is Australopithecus africanus. This is not a human skeleton at all, but a hominoid who is considered by some evolutionists to be related to humans. Finding a complete skeleton would be significant because even Lucy, the most complete skeleton find up until this time, had a great deal missing. Whether this ape could stand erect or not would be relevant to some theories about the evolution of man, and this discussion is not to downplay the discovery or its possible interest to theorists. It is not, however, a human skeleton and will not answer the questions the subtitle of the article claims it will.
LEGAL BATTLES CONTINUE. Atheists continue to wage war in the courts on those who believe in God and in the biblical concept of right and wrong. In Zeeland, Michigan a former student has sued the school system because he was suspended for two days for wearing a pornographic T-shirt to school in violation of a school rule forbidding clothing that "implies obsenity, vulgarity or sexual innuendo." The ACLU claims that the word "Jesus" on a T-shirt "implies the violence and sexual content of Song of Solomon" and that the student's right of free speech were violated by the dress code.
Those of us that teach in public schools always have a hard time trying to explain why certain conditions exist within our schools, but this type of thing is exactly what is causing the problems in America's public schools. (Source: AP, December 30, 1998)
In a related issue Gilbert, AZ, is in a similar hassle because the Mayor Cynthia Durham designated a week in November as "Bible Week" and was sued by the ACLU. That case has expanded to the whole state of Arizona where a proclamation by Governor Jane Hull has had the same result. It is acceptable to have a Gay Week, a Buddhist blessing (reported in our "News and Notes" for September/October.1998), or a Moslem Acceptance week; but anything that smacks of Christianity is immediately taken to court. (Data from US News and World Report, November 30, 1998, page 33.)
HUMAN HAIR AND OIL SPILLS. A thinking hairdresser may have a solution to oil spills. Phillip McCrory watched the Exxon Valdez oil spill on T.V. and wondered if human hair could soak up oil, based on what he had seen in his work. It turns out that human hair adsorbs oil so well that 1.4 million pounds of hair would have snatch up the 11 million gallons of crude leaked by the Exxon Valdez. Seventy-threemillion pounds of hair is clipped by the 200,000 salons and barber shops across the United States each year. It seems everything God has created has at least one use. Your bald editor is glad that some constructive use has finally been found for human hair. (Data from Alaska, December, 1998-January, 1999, page 17.)
COURT SUPPORT RESTRICTIONS ON TEACHERS. In two different court cases in Colorado and in Missouri, teachers who allowed or presented foul language and obsene materials in the classroom were ruled to be subject to dismissal. Those of us who teach are always concerned about outside controls on our classrooms, but being responsible for the content of language and media used in the classroom also has to be an issue. As a teacher and a Christian, it is easy to see both sides. Sometimes it is a difficult line between special interest censorship and academic freedom but not in these cases.
Back to Contents Does God Exist?, JanFeb99.