Abortion and pain. The latest issue in the abortion debate has been on whether babies feel pain when they are aborted. In the August 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association is a claim that "an unborn child is unlikely to perceive pain until the 29th week in the womb." What is interesting in this article is not only the fact that pain is considered to be the primary issue, but that the phrase "unborn child" is used. Is it acceptable to kill an adult as long as he cannot feel pain? The question of why abortion is wrong never seems to get clearly understood in our culture today.

Chimps are not altruistic. One of the major issues in the evolution of man has always been the discussion of what characteristics are unique to man. Man's ability to have a self-sacrificing love, his artistic creation, his capacity to worship, his concept of self, and his total altruistic behavior are the areas that are reflected in man's spiritual make-up. His intelligence and ability to think and learn are not unique areas. New studies are showing that chimps do not display altruistic behavior, and even though the chimp studies are of a very social animal, the characteristics related to altruism simply are not observed in chimps. Dr. Joan Silk who has directed the research says "These chimps were not motivated to provide rewards to others, even those that they know socially. In order to be pro-social, you have to demonstrate that it is about the other. This didn't happen."  --Reference: Nature, October 25, 2005.

More circumcision data. Biblical critics have always maintained that circumcision was a barbaric biblical procedure with no value. A new study by scientists in Kenya and Uganda has shown that the risk of HIV infection can be reduced by as much as 60% by circumcision. Obviously lifestyle choices are more important, but the protective role of circumcision is being given a second look by the medical establishment.  --Reference: Newsweek, October 31, 2005, page 10.

Tenth planet? 2003UB313 is the designation given to a new planet which is larger than Pluto and has been found outside Pluto's orbit. For some reason there have been people who feel this has some importance, but there are two issues that make this of no consequence. The first is that there are many very cold objects orbiting the Sun at a great distance, which seem to be left over from the Creation. All of these objects would be classified as asteroids or planets, but they are so far away and orbit so slowly that they have not been considered an issue. This object is just one more of these distant Kuiper Belt objects, which is the name astronomers give to these materials. The second point is that even Pluto does not fit normal definitions of what a planet should be and may just be a Kuiper Belt object that is closer than most. Pluto is too small and has a very unusual orbit, so it is very different from the other planets in our solar system. These are human questions that involve definitions and technical equipment, but they have no relevance to the questions of cosmology and the existence of God.

Stem cell fraud. As we prepare this issue of our bimonthly at the end of December, there is a huge cloud being drawn over the whole cloning and stem cell research area of concern. Dr. Hwang Woo-suk of South Korea has been making the news over the past year or so with incredible claims of success in cloning and stem cell research--including the first cloned human embryos and the first cloned dog. It is now being reported that many of Hwang's fellow scientists are saying that much of the data for the claims being made are forged and faked. As long as you have humans involved, there is a potential for fakery and dishonesty. That is true in science and also in religion. We would like to point out that these areas of research will eventually be attempted by researchers and probably will be successfully done. The fact that there has been dishonesty is not any more relevant than is the fact that a religious leader makes a major moral error. We need to repeat that man's ability to clone or to use stem cells is not a religious issue. It simply shows the complexity of this process and the fact that intelligence was involved in getting all of life created in the first place.

Name flaps. The furor over calling the holiday Christmas has been interesting. We would like to remind our readers that the Christian system does not depend upon government approval or names. "Pure and undefiled religion" is not keeping holidays or getting government approval. Let us place the emphasis on visiting the widows and the orphans in their affliction (James 1:27).

Islam at Georgetown and Harvard. Harvard and Georgetown Universities have been given twenty million dollars each to "teach about the Islamic world to the United States." Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal made no bones about why he was giving the money, and the universities involved made no bones about accepting it. We would wonder what would happen if the same two universities were offered twenty million dollars to teach what Jesus actually taught his followers to do and be. There is very little understanding of that in the world today, even among those who claim to be Christians, but we suspect that either it would not be accepted or there would be a major furor created by them doing so.

Cost of a child. The latest data shows that the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 years of age in the U.S. is $160,140. That translates to $24.37 a day. We would suggest that in the world of today, that is pretty cheap. Think of all the joy and happiness that a child can bring. The other side of that, which is not in the government reports, is what it costs if parents do not do the things that allow the child to become a productive member of society during that 18 years.

Chimps, males, and women. We have all heard that human and chimp DNA matches are 98 to 99%. If you compared a male human and a female human using the same methods of comparison, the similarity would be less than that. The point is that statements comparing DNA are very misleading--of course my wife says that is why males act like chimps, but that is another subject!

T. rex soft tissue. The media has been claiming that soft tissue of a T. rex has been found. What has actually been done is that the fossil was soaked in alkaline solutions removing minerals that made the fossil hard. What remained was material that could bend. This is not soft tissue in the sense of finding a T. rex heart or something like that, but it has potential use in understanding these animals better.  --Reference: Science News, March 26, 2005, page 195.

Christian schools sue.  The University of California has been sued by a Christian high school because graduates of that school were not allowed to count certain courses at the school to meet admission requirements. Apparently the problem was that religious themes were contained in the courses which used books published by A Beka Books and Bob Jones University. These are also publishers of a lot of home school material, so the implications of this case could be enormous.  --Reference: Christianity Today, December 2005, pages 22.

Interesting fact.  Israel's Jewish population should catch up with America's in 2006.

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