SHOW DESIGN. The issue of cloning a human being continues with
claims and attempts occurring on a nearly daily basis. Now some
research shows that a design feature in the human egg may make a human
clone much more difficult than anyone imagined. When a cell divides,
chromosomes copy themselves and line up in the middle of the original
cell so that they can be pulled apart into new cells. Cloners usually
start by taking an egg and removing its nucleus so they can inject the
genetic material of whatever it is they are trying to clone. It turns
out that in human embryos the proteins connected to the chromosomes do
not split up evenly, but stay very close to the nucleus of the egg.
What this means is that when the eggs are enucleated the proteins get
taken out as well and the cell cannot divide. That makes humans far
more difficult to clone than other forms of life. Techniques will
certainly come about to overcome this obstacle, but it will take a
while. It seems that there is a design feature to stall man's attempt
to make man-made babies.
FERTILITY PROBLEMS AND BIRTH DEFECTS. In vitro fertilization and intercytoplasmic sperm injection are a part of a major industry called Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). These are new methods of helping couples who are sterile have children. We have pointed out in this column many times that how a human is conceived has nothing to do with their humanness or their value. Whether a human is cloned, produced by ART, or produced the "old fashion way" does not affect the value of the human. New data is showing, however, that the well-being of the baby is a major concern in ART. Recent studies have shown that ART babies have a fourfold increased risk for Beckwith-Wiedemann (a genetic disorder leading to cancer and organ enlargement). Another study shows a five to sevenfold increase of risk to retinoblastoma (a malignant eye tumor). Other studies are showing increases in heart defects, childhood cancer, and a variety of other syndromes and genetic disorders. As parents of three adopted children, we recommend infertile couples consider adoption seriously before embarking on risky ART methods.
--Reference: Popular Science April 2003, page 42.
RAELIANS JUMP ON GENESIS 6:1-3. The Raelians have been players in the cloning debate by claiming to have accomplished the cloning of a human. They also claim to be the descendants of the "sons of God" and "daughters of men" of Genesis 6. To do this the Hebrew word "Elohim" which is the Genesis 1 word for God is translated "alien." The idea is that these aliens cloned humans and put them on earth in the Garden of Eden. The leader of the Raelians claims that he is one of a few individuals produced by the mating of Elohim with the cloned daughters of men--the others being Jesus, Moses, Buddha, and Mohammed.
This ludicrous scenario would be just a good laugh if it were not
for the fact that people will believe this kind of claim and support it
without researching it. We have pointed out the the Nephilim in Genesis 6 has to refer
to people who rejected God and entered into religiously mixed marriages
both because of the Hebrew and the context of Genesis 6 (which is the
flood chapter). It is also important to understand that Elohim is plural in the Hebrew and
has clear roots in the God of creation and nothing to do with aliens
from the sky. This is a cult claim relying upon the ignorance and
gullibility of the public to survive.
PUBLIC SCHOOL PRAYER ISSUE RESURFACES. The United States Department of Education issued a guide titled Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public and Secondary Schools on February 7, 2003. This document can be seen at http://www.ed.gov/inits/religionandschools/prayer_guidance.html and is worth checking out. It makes clear that public schools should not be hostile to the religious rights of their students, but at the same time that students should not be compelled to participate in religious activities. Students may read their Bibles, pray before meals, study religious materials, organize prayer groups and religious clubs, and express their religious beliefs. Schools that interfere with these rights in the "No Child Left Behind Acts of 2001" can lose their federal funding.
ANIMAL RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND EVOLUTION. Princeton professor Peter Singer has led the charge of animals rights advocates to put humans and animals on a totally equal basis. Singer says, "On the basis of evolution...there is no clear dividing line between humans and animals." Animal rights advocates have compared eating meat to the Nazi holocaust and are threatening to use arson, death threats, fire bombings, and assaults for those who kill a chicken because it is murder. In the Netherlands an animal activist has been charged for the assassination of a political candidate who had defended pig farming. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have sued the California Milk Advisory Board for running an ad that pictured cows contentedly munching grass and singing, claiming that the ads misled people as to how cows actually live. The use of the term "Chicken Challenge" was challenged because it "disrespected chickens." A constitutional amendment in Florida outlawing housing pregnant sows in stalls so small the pigs cannot turn around passed 54% to 46%.
The point here is not that animals should be abused. The point is that when you reject God's statement that man is special, created in the image of God, charged to take care of the earth, to control it, and use it wisely, you open the door to such massive inconsistencies that the whole fabric of society disintegrates and massive pain and anguish is caused to humans and animals alike.
Reference: Christianity Today, April 2003, pages 120-121.
REBELLION IN CHURCH RANKS. We have stated many times in this journal that we believe in God, but that we reject religion. Religion is generally defined as man's attempts to reach God, and increasingly religion is being rejected by people in the United States. Martin Zender in his recent book How to Quit Church without Quitting God says "People are looking for comfort and answers...They have serious questions as to where their dead daughter is or how the world is going to end. Churches offer musical productions and food, but they are not answering questions." The latest Gallup poll rate the public's view of ministers as the lowest ever, dropping twelve percentage points in the last year. Much of that is due to sexual abuse scandals. The need to focus on teaching and explaining God's Word is clear. Men will let us down, but God and His instructions as to how we are to live and treat each other will not fail us.
THE GREAT FOSSIL FIASCO. In our May/June issue, we discussed a new fossil titled Microraptor gui which has feathers on all four legs, is about the size of a crow, and seems to belong to a group of dinosaurs called the dromaeosaurs (believed by many to be related to today's birds). We emphasized that this is not a biblical issue. The Bible repeatedly defines animal groups as being of four types--the flesh of fish, the flesh of beasts, of birds, and of man. If birds and dinosaurs turn out to be the same "flesh," it should not be a concern to Bible students. This fossil has now been discussed extensively in the May 2003 issue of National Geographic. All of this brings to remembrance another chapter in the bird from dinosaur story.
The American Biology Teacher (ABT ), April 2003, has a detailed account of the exposš of the fossil archaeorapter which turned out to be a hoax after National Geographic ran a full-color-cover picture and story on it. Again, it was the attempt to prove birds and dinosaurs are related that preciptated National Geographic making a huge error in its presentation. There is a wealth of information in the ABT story and a good look at how science should function, but how the media can cause it to go astray. The same ABT issue has a teaching program to show students how peer review should work in science.
THE CAVEMAN ISSUE AGAIN. Rarely does a week go by when there is not some kind of an article about a new hominoid find or a new claim about evidence in the evolution of man. The Toumai skull discovered a year ago and dated to seven million years ago has stirred up debate among anthropologists with some claiming it is the most ancient human skull and others claiming it is definitely non-human.
The problem with all of this is what you are willing to use to define man. Physical anthropology uses certain anatomical characteristics to determine what a specimen might have been. This involves brain size, the position of the foramen magnum where the spine enters the brain, the shape of the skull, the tooth pattern, and a variety of similar characteristics. With the variations that can occur in any population, this is very hard to do. In modern humans there are incredible variations in races. If someone compares an aborigine with a Swede, they will see huge differences. Brain size in the Japanese before and after World War II are huge--nearly half a quart.
Biblically, man is defined as that being created in the image of God. This refers to spiritual characteristics and has nothing to do with anything physical. Being a spiritual being is shown in one's capacity for artistic or musical creation, one's capacity for worship, the ability to feel guilt, sympathy, pity, or compassion. You can see evidence of these in the way dead are handled, the construction of musical instruments, art work, or worship items. Beyond these artifacts it is difficult. A caveman biblically is a man living in a cave. It may be that the descendants of Adam and Eve lived in caves when they were expelled from paradise, but this is not an issue that should disturb Bible readers. Our spiritual and physical characteristics are not related, and these disciplines study very different aspects of man.
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