News and Notes

AUSTRALIAN TRIP DEADLINE NEARS. We have been announcing a Does God Exist? trip to Australia during July of this year led by John and Phyllis Clayton. If you have an interest in the trip or any part of it, you need to act right away as the trip will be closed before too long. Call or write Mark Story, Queenslander International Travel Group, 6495 Happy Canyon Road, Suite 119, Denver CO 80237. You can reach Mark by phone at 303-370-0288 or by FAX at 303-727-5934.

INTERESTING BOOKLET ON EVOLUTION & TIME. We have come across an interesting 33-page booklet written by Michael Glitsch which deals with evolution, the length of the days of Genesis and the age of the earth. It has an Addenda by Dr James Burton Coffman and has a lot of good ideas in it. The title is "God Is From Everlasting to Everlasting," and it is available for $3.00 ($3.50 outside the U.S.) from the author at PO Box 431651, Houston, TX 77243.

JUPITER PROBE DATA COMING IN. For 18 years astronomers have been working on a probe to explore Jupiter, and for over six years they have been tracking its progress to the giant world. The space vehicle--called Galileo--arrived at Jupiter on December 7, 1995, and a probe was dropped into the atmosphere where it survived a force 215 times Earth's gravity. Previous beliefs about what Jupiter's atmosphere is like have turned out to be somewhat off the mark. Water levels are lower than was expected, and that may mean that models of planetary evolution are badly off target. In the meantime, Galileo is orbiting Jupiter and taking pictures of its moons as well as the planet itself. Up to 1,400 pictures are expected. If you wish to get up-to-date information about the Jupiter probe, you can do so on the Internet at:

Students can get data at:


HINTS OF OTHER SOLAR SYSTEMS FOUND. Looking from Earth, it is impossible to see planets of other stars. Between our poor optics and the effects of the atmosphere on our observations, you simply cannot see anything small at such a great distance. What you can see is variations in the stars being orbited. In the past 60 days, there have been headlines in newspapers and magazines all across the country saying that other Earth-like planets have been found, or at least that planets have been found that "may have a suitable climate for alien life" (Time, January 29, 1996, page 64).

It is important to understand just how tenuous these announcements are. What has been found is a variation in light coming from at least two stars. This variation could be caused by a large planet orbiting the stars at a distance that could allow a temperature which could allow water in the liquid state. In both of these cases, the size of the planet to produce the effect that has been observed is so large that it would be more like Jupiter than like Earth. It would have a huge mass which means that it would have many gases the Earth does not retain in its atmosphere-like ammonia and methane. These gases and the enormous temperatures that the huge planets would have on their surfaces would certainly not allow anything close to life to exist. Having liquid water is just one of hundreds of conditions necessary to allow carbon-based life, so most of the press announcements are just media hype.

We do want to emphasize something we have said many times in this journal, and that is that finding life in space will not disprove or discredit the Bible. Paul Davies, writing in Time, February 5, 1996, page 58, says, "Many people cling to the belief that the origin of life required a unique divine act.... The discovery of even a humble bacterium on Mars ... would support the view that life emerges naturally." A statement like this assumes that chance is the cause if life is found elsewhere, and all evidence from probability suggests that is not the case. Why should we be so egotistical as to assume that God would only see fit to create life here? Nothing in the Bible says that or even hints at it. I am reminded of a debate I had on a radio station in Washington, DC, many years ago. In the question/answer segment, a man called in and asked my atheist opponent, "What would you do if a space ship landed on the White House lawn and a little green man jumped out with a Bible in his hand and said, 'Has Jesus been here yet?"' My atheist counterpart answered it well-"Punt!" he said. I am not suggesting this is a reasonable scenario because it raises a lot of interesting questions. The point is that I am not going to throw my Bible away if life is found somewhere other than Earth.

ANTIHYDROGEN VERIFIES SOME PARITY PREDICTIONS. For many years, we have made the point that the origin of evil can be explained consistently with the existence of God by using the principle of parity. In that argument, we have pointed out the applications of parity to matter which predicts that antimatter should exist in a form that matches, but is opposite to, the material that makes up our world. This would be a left-handed world to match the right-handed world in which we live, and it would demonstrate the process that brought evil into existence. (If you are interested in this, we can send you a tape of the lesson or send you articles that have appeared in the past in this journal on this subject. The audio tape is $2.00 postpaid, and you can receive the articles by sending a self-addressed 52 cent stamped envelope to John Clayton, 1555 Echo Valley Dr, Niles MI 49120.) In a January 10, 1996, AP release, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics has announced the first proven atoms of antihydrogen. There is evidence that even more complex atoms of antimatter exists, but this is a hard proof that the parity principle does apply to matter.

HUBBLE FINDS 1500 NEW GALAXIES. The Hubble telescope continues to bring new and amazing information to us about the cosmos in which we live. Because it is above the Earth's atmosphere, its pictures are free of atmospheric distortion and, with its optics working properly, it can now bring us pictures of objects one four-billionth as bright as what a human eye can see. What Hubble is seeing is a bewildering collection of galaxies of all kinds and ages giving off all sorts of different colors. How galaxies age and why they are different are questions that are being argued by astronomers, but the vastness and complexity of the cosmos just seems to grow with every new discovery.

ULYSSES UNVIELS WEIRD SUN. With all of this talk about other planets and distant galaxies, you would think we would know a lot more about our sun, but a recent report on observations of the sun by a spaceship called Ulysses has reminded us of how little we understand about the sun. This is man's first spaceship to fly over the poles of the sun and, to everyone's surprise, the magnetic field at the sun's poles is not any stronger than anywhere else. Our earth's magnetic field is concentrated at the poles, so the sun's magnetism must be very different in cause and in makeup than the earth. The sun is an incredible furnace made of its own fuel which, in spite of it's huge amount of energy, has only burned up 2% of its original hydrogen. The wisdom, design, and power seen in the sun are a great testimony to the power that created all we see and experience.

WOODPECKERS GROUND SHUTTLE. On a more comical note: a pair of yellow-shafted woodpeckers have attacked the shuttle as it sat on the launch pad and pecked 195 holes in the insulation surrounding the fuel tanks and delaying the shuttle's launch for more than a month. NASA has organized a task force called BIRD for bird investigation, review, and deterrent to keep the pesky birds away. All kinds of things have been tried from yelling at them through bullhoms to removing the fire ants the birds feed on, but so far there has been over a million dollars damage-well, maybe not so comical after all (Discover, January, 1996, page 28).

DINOSAUR DNA CLAIM A MISTAKE. We have mentioned several times in this journal and in lectures that a Brigham Young professor named Scott Woodward had reported finding dinosaur bone material that had DNA in it that was good enough that it theoretically could be cloned along the theme of Jurassic Park. Other researchers reporting in a series of journals and summarized in Science News, December 2, 1995, page 373, say that human contamination is the source of the DNA. Woodward does not agree, but at least for now most scientists seem to feel that the claim of dinosaur DNA is not valid.

TYRANNOSAURUS DUNG FOUND. Many fossilized dung piles called coprolites have been found over the years, but they have always been the dung of herbivores and thus have been full of the remains of plant materials. In Earth, December, 1995, page 12, is a report of the first sample of dung from T. rex found in June, 1995, in an area where a full-grown skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex is being excavated. This sample is full of the remains of a duckbilled dinosaur and is dated to the late Cretaceous geological period. We would urge all people dealing with dinosaurs to realize how good the evidence is that meat eaters and plant eaters existed in the early history of planet Earth. In Discover, February, 1996, page 25, is a report on more dinosaur eggs and the find of a monosaur who had bitten the head off another monosaur, leaving a tooth in its skull. Almost every day a new discovery is made, and all of these indicate a very different world from the one we live in today. Suggesting that humans and T. rex were living together not only violates common sense, but it continues to have mountains of evidence brought against it. In the same issue of Discover there is also a beautiful fossil of an ancient mushroom preserved in amber that has been found-identical to modern species of this fungus. Popular Science, August 1995, page 61, tells us of corrections that have been made in earlier models of dinosaurs. New discoveries every day--it is an exciting time to be alive.

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