News & Notes
DOES GOD EXIST? LOSES A GREAT CONSULTANT AND FRIEND. Due to the long time that elapses from when we type this journal to when you receive it, news is sometimes quite dated. Since this is a bimonthly journal, we have a bad lag in getting information to you. In late April, we learned that a dear friend and consultant, Harvey Porter, had passed away in March. Harvey was our expert on archaeological questions. Harvey had a doctorate in the subject, but more than that was his engaging personality and positive teaching style. His wife Sue was a professional photographer, and together they traveled throughout the Middle East escorting tours and collecting beautiful pictures. Harvey's personality got him into unusual places with unusual people. He knew the Arab man who discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls. He was on a first-name basis with the curator of the London Museum. When Harvey presented his archaeological material, it was always full of stories that made the subject come alive. He had a constant stream of jokes and stories about himself that radiated humility and understanding.
When someone had a question about history or an archaeology question, I always sent it to Harvey. He always answered it completely with kindness and understanding. Harvey advised us on the credibility of archaeological claims. We have Harvey's basic archaeology series on video tapes and plan to continue to make it available along with a teacher's guide by Bill Humble of the Abilene Christian University Bible department. Dr. Humble kindly gave us permission to give this guide out to people using Harvey's video tapes. Harvey did the tapes without any remuneration of any kind. These tapes are a great teaching tool and gives a marvelous testimony to the credibility of the Bible and to the hand of God in the affairs of man.
We are going to miss Harvey terribly. He leaves behind a legacy of great work and positive understandings. We extend our condolences to his family and to the Christians throughout the world who mourn his passing.
UNIVERSE WILL EXPAND FOREVER. Over the years, we have had numerous articles in this journal about the credibility of the Bible assertion that there was a beginning and that there will be an end. The question is whether the universe is as the Bible describes or whether the universe oscillates--expanding and then contracting like a balloon being blown up, allowed to collapse, and then being blown up again. An oscillating universe was once thought to be an alternative to creation because it was believed an oscillating universe could do its oscillating forever. If matter/energy is eternal, one would have an alternative to a Creator outside of time that existed before time began and after time had ended.
Evidence from a variety of observers in recent months has offered strong support that we do not live in an oscillating universe. Saul Perlmutter of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has reported on a study of several dozen distant supernovas which show that the density of the universe is far too low to stop its expansion. Another study by Neta Bahcall of Princeton University has shown that only about 20% of the matter needed to halt the expansion of the universe is available. Another study by Ruth Daly of Princeton has shown that distant radio galaxies are actually accelerating rather than slowing down. If these measurements stand, it will put a final nail in the coffin of the idea that we live in an oscillating universe. References: Astronomy, May, 1998, page 25; Science News, March 21, 1998, page 185.
INTERESTING EGYPTIAN RECORD OF PLAGUES. There is an interesting article by Ralph Fusco. In Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June, 1998, page 13, comparing the book of Exodus and an Egyptian writer known as Papyrus Ipuwer. Notice the comparisons: Paprus Ipuwer Exodus 2:2 The river is blood 7:20 The river was turned to blood 2:6 Blood is everywhere 7:21 Blood throughout all the land of Egypt 2:10 Gates, columns and 9:23-24 And the fire ran along walls are consumed ground by fire 4:14 Trees are destroyed 9:25 And the hail...brake every tree in the field 9:11 The land is not light 10:22 And Moses stretched forth his hand...and there was a thick darkness. 2:13 He who places his 12:30 For there was not a house brother in the ground is where there was not one dead everywhere.
DINOSAUR SOFT PARTS. It is very unusual to find a fossil of a soft part of an animal because there are very few processes that can preserve it. In the Pietraroia Limestone Beds near Naples, Italy, a dinosaur called Scipionyx samniticus has been found in which liver, intestines, muscle, and cartilage materials were discovered in the dinosaur. The specimen is better preserved than any previous find and has attracted a lot of attention even though it is only 9" long. The position of the liver looks very much like that of a lizard while the breast bone looks bird-like. As study continues, there will more and more ongoing debates. We would suggest that this has no biblical relevance, but is interesting because it tells us something of what has gone on in the past to prepare the earth for man. Denying that animals like this ever lived becomes increasingly difficult to do as more and more finds are made. Our high school has faculty members and students who are participating in dinosaur digs during the summer and will be able to see for themselves what the specimens look like in the ground. The need to give logical, consistent answers to the dinosaur question will grow as more and more evidence is found. References: Science News, April 18, 1998, page 252; Time, April 6, 1998, page 63.
HUMAN REPRODUCTION PROBLEMS GROW. It is getting increasingly common in lectureships to have someone ask if a cloned human being is really a human. Man's involvement in reproductive techniques raises all kinds of moral questions and ethical problems. One of the most common reappeared in New York when a divorced couple came into court to fight over what should be done with frozen embryos. The woman in the case wants to have the embryos implanted in her womb and have children. The husband wants them donated to research and definitely does not want to have children with his ex-wife. Time, April 6, 1998, page 65, reported that between 80,000 and 100,000 frozen embryos are in liquid nitrogen canisters right now and that 20,000 of them are in what the magazine article calls "legal limbo." Time says the issue is "whether a frozen embryo should be regarded as a human life form, like a fetus, or an inanimate piece of property."
The only consistent position that can be taken on this issue is that, when the sperm meets the egg, a human being exists. It is not a frog or a cat or a plant or a rock--it is a human being. Whether it is conceived in a test tube or a woman's womb, it is still a human being. The problem has gotten into its present condition because of the willingness of the courts to suggest that a baby is not a baby until it is born or until a certain month in the gestation process depending on where you live (which state). The Chinese have always taught that a baby's birthday is on the day of its conception and that the point of its existence as a human is then as well. The Bible also suggests that the baby is totally human before birth. If this view is maintained, the questions of cloning, in vitro fertilization, and all related issues are easy to answer.
A related issue involving cloning has come up in the courts, sponsored by Stuart Newman and Jeremy Rifkin. Rifkin has been around for a long time, fighting genetic engineering research that he views as irresponsible and dangerous. The two of them have filed for a patent on a human-animal chimeras. A chimeras is made by fusing human and animal embryonic cells. Proposed uses have been pigs growing human organs for transplants or chimpanzee-human chimeras for pharmaceutical testing. Rifkin is against all patenting of this type, and he and Newman hope to create a legal climate that will prevent or delay anyone else from patenting such a combination.
MORE FIBONACCI SOURCES. We seem to have stirred up a lot of interest in mathematical sequences seen in nature in our articles and lectures over the past year or so. Danny Rich, one of our consultants, tells us there is another great display on Fibonacci on the Mathsoft web page at www.mathsoft.com.
MARTIAN MICROFOSSIL ISSUE DEAD. For many months, we have followed the debate about ALH84001, the meteorite claimed to have come from Mars and to have microfossils in it. Between evidence in the meteorite that it has been heated to 2,000” after forming, other explanations for the claimed microbes, and strong evidence of terrestrial contamination from the earth, it seems that virtually all of the experts are convinced that no fossils have been found. Let us say one last time that if life is found somewhere in the cosmos, there will be no biblical ramifications. The Bible does not say that this is the only place God has seen fit to create life, but it does appear that if there is life on Mars, it is either sparse or well-concealed. One point that should be made is that the longer scientists go without finding life, the more obvious it is that life is a highly designed special thingā not a common product of chance. References include Astronomy, March, 1998, page 24; Scientific American, April, 1998, page 19; Science News, January 24, 1998, page 54; Time, January 26, 1998, page 60.
MISSING DAY STORY AROUND AGAIN. One of our first debunking exercises was some 30 years ago when church bulletins carried stories about NASA computers being run backwards and finding the missing day of Joshua. That story is being run again. It is not true and should not be promoted.
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