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                                                May 22, 2009                     Vol. 2:5
 
Bob
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Monkey Business
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Bob
Once again evolutionists say they have found the latest "missing-link" proving man and apes came from a common ancestor. In this case a creature they describe as lemur-like. 
 
In this issue we take a look at this "new" discovery and some of the controversy it is already creating, even among those who favor the theory of evolution.
 
In light of this story, I think you will find this issue's "Culture Tracks" particularly interesting. The entire section contains statistical data from the Harris and Gallup Polls, concerning American's views on evolution and creation. Take note of how the data varies when broken down by age groups. The trends definitely indicate that as the next generation ages the willingness to consider evolution as true will increase. 
 
Let me again thank those of you who are supporting Dan Malin's efforts in Afghanistan. I have now heard from a number of you who are sending boxes to the Table of Grace Ministry that Don has set up. You can get more information on our website.
 
Also, some of you have taken the time to let us know you were glad to hear about our new work in Europe. Your encouragement is most appreciated. One of our Romanian staff, Nelu Filip was in our office the end of last month and we began making, what I believe are, some exciting plans for the team there.
 
Truly, these are exciting days to serve and all of us at Crosswinds are grateful for your support. Please let us know if we can be of help to you.
 
Blessings,

Bob Signature 
Bob Waldrep
 
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Monkey Business: A Chip Off the Old Lemur?
Ida Missing Link
The latest "missing link" has been found, studied, and cataloged. Officially it will be known as Darwinius masillae; however, it is being introduced to the general public by its nickname, Ida (after the six year-old daughter of Dr. Jorn Hurum, the paleontologist from Oslo University's National History Museum, who led the team that examined the fossil).
 
With a "cutesy" name in place to help us better relate to this fossil matter, (think of it like the family pet) what could be next for Ida? As with many of the numerous "missing links" that have been presented before her, next up is a clever marketing campaign, and in Ida's case, a promotional tour. All of which will mean huge dividends for those who are selling it...I mean, for the "advancement of science".
 
First, let's get the quick facts on "little Ida". At the heart of the discussion are the fossil remains of a small creature said to date back over 47 million years. Interestingly, the fossil remains are not a recent discovery but were found near Darmstadt, Germany in 1983 by an amateur fossil hunter. Some twenty years later it was sold to a German fossil dealer who brought it to Hurum's attention some two years ago. Convinced that it was the real thing, Hurum bought the fossil on behalf of the Museum, for an undisclosed amount. Since then, he and a team of experts have been secretly studying it; not making their findings known until a press release was issued on May 19, 2009.
 
Without question this roll out of the missing link has been carefully coordinated. As the curtain was pulled back on this "secret", we are informed that a book and film documentary about Ida, along with a cause-promoting website (www.revealingthelink.com) has been completed and is ready for release. Naturally, these promote, not only Ida, but foremost, the evolutionist cause. And, as is so often the case, the press releases and media reports are extolling the "scientific evidence" presented; as if the proof for evolution is a done deal - a fact of science and history - rather than a theory. But, is it?
 
The opening paragraph of the press release asserts such claims as: "...the fossil is twenty times older than most fossils that explain human evolution... [It] is a transitional species showing characteristics from the very primitive non-human evolutionary line...but she is more related to the human evolutionary line... [placing] Ida at the very root of anthropoid evolution when primates were first developing the features that would evolve into our own."
 
To read these statements one might conclude there is a tremendous amount of fossil evidence proving human evolution. Well, if the evidence is already in on humans evolving from lower primates, why all the concern to find a missing link?
 
A close reading of the claims being asserted indicate that to come to these conclusions, one would have to assume that there are, at least, two evolutionary lines. The first is the "very primitive non-human evolutionary line" - those that will never quite make it to human but branch off into something else that has some common traits, but is not human; and, the human evolutionary line - that line that somehow managed to divert from the non-human line to eventually become human.
 
So, basically, the claim is that Ida is "sort of" in the non-human line, but if we had to pick a line we would have to say she is more related to the human line. Are you following the logic here? Me neither.
 
Perhaps some of the expert quotes concerning Ida included in the press release will make things clearer. Following are a few to consider: 
  • "This is the first link to all humans...truly a fossil that links world heritage." Dr. Hurum
  • "This fossil rewrites our understanding of the early evolution of primates." Dr. Jorg Habersetzer
  • "This little creature is going to show us our connection with all the rest of the mammals." Sir David Attenborough
  • "The link they would have said until now is missing...it is no longer missing." Sir David Attenborough
Consider the claims made here: It is the first link to all humans, rewrites our understanding of the early evolution of primates, and shows our connection with all other mammals...it is the missing link. Don't these seem as if they are trying to say it, both, is and isn't the link to humans?
 
In reporting on this story the Guardian put it this way, "The researchers believe it comes from the time when the primate lineage, that diversified into monkeys, apes and ultimately humans, split from a separate group that went on to become lemurs and other less well known species.1
 
In their press release, the researchers refer to Ida as, "lemur-like". Commenting on this, Brian Richmond, a biological anthropologist at George Washington University, said, "This specimen looks like a really early fossil monkey that belongs to the group that includes us." He added, "But, there's a big gap in the fossil record from this time period..."[Ida] is one of the important branching points on the evolutionary tree, but it's not the only branching point." 2
 
Again, not a very ringing endorsement that this is the missing link. I think it is safe to say that, while this may truly be a remarkable fossil find, as regards its preservation and presentation, it is being much over-hyped. The way it has been brought to the public's attention reminds me of the "Lost Tomb of Jesus" spectacle in 2007.
 
In that case, experts had supposedly uncovered the ossuary that contained the bones of Jesus and his family. As with Ida, the research findings were released in conjunction with a documentary and much media hype. Also, as with Ida, when it was all said and done it was mostly about speculation, not hard facts or scientific evidence.
 
Even those who believe in, or accept, evolution have some concerns about the claims surrounding Ida and the conclusions drawn by the researchers. Under the caption, "Are there any doubts about the significance of the find?" Steve Connor, of the British paper, The Independent writes:
 
"But one of the slightly suspicious aspects of the story is how it has emerged in a blaze of publicity coordinated by the television documentary company that was given access to the scientists, along with the involvement of a publisher with a book to sell on the subject. Usually, new discoveries of this significance is first published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature where the claims are meticulously analyzed by teams of experts." 3
 
Connor concludes, "[Ida] is not "the link" because there is never going to be one missing link between humans and their primate ancestors. Neither is Ida our direct ancestor. She belonged to a branch that evolved in parallel to the ancestral line of primates that eventually gave rise to humans.
 
Chris Beard, the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, is another who questions the conclusions of Hurum and his team. Writing for New Science Magazine, he states, "The fact that she retains primitive features that commonly occurred among all early primates, such as simple incisors rather than a full-fledged toothcomb, indicates that Ida belongs somewhere closer to the base of the tree than living lemurs do. But this does not necessarily make Ida a close relative of anthropoids - the group of primates that includes monkeys, apes - and humans. In order to establish that connection, Ida would have to have anthropoid-like features that evolved after anthropoids split away from lemurs and other early primates. Here, alas, Ida fails miserably. So, Ida is not a "missing link" - at least not between anthropoids and more primitive primates...Instead, Ida is a remarkably complete specimen that promises to teach us a great deal about the biology of some of the earliest and least human-like of all known primates, the Eocene adapiforms." 4
 
Part of the concern among evolutionists, comes from their disagreement on the family origin of any so-called missing link. Anthropologists who embrace the theory of evolution believe that the larger primates and man had a common precursor. One group holds to the theory it is, what is called, the tarsidae, believed to be the ancestor of the present-day tarsier, found in Asia. The other group believes it is, what is called, the adapidae, believed to be the ancestor of the present-day lemur (that's right as in the animal tribe in Dreamworks' animated feature film, Madagascar, which is where Lemurs are found).

Madagascar lemurs

Being "lemur-like", Ida falls into the latter theory and should be hailed by all who believe in the adapidae theory. However, those of the tarsidae theory, naturally, will reject her. But even some of those in the adapidae camp, while recognizing this is a great find because of the almost pristine preservation of the fossil record, reject it as the missing link.
 
Perhaps Christopher Beard, of Carnegie Museum of Natural History, sums it up best when he said, ''I actually don't think it's terribly close to the common ancestral line of monkeys, apes and people, I would say it's about as far away as you can get from that line and still be a primate.' Rather than a long-ago aunt, 'I would say it's more like a third cousin twice removed." 5
 
Creationists, or those who argue for intelligent design, are also weighing in on this story. Ken Ham, of Answers in Genesis, dismisses the claims about Ida and includes on his website several important observations about this, and the fossil record in general, including the following that are worth consideration:
 
"The principles that inform creationists about Ida are some of the same that allow creationists to interpret fossil after fossil hailed as "transitional forms":
 
Nothing about this fossil suggests it is anything other than an extinct, lemur-like creature. Its appearance is far from chimpanzee, let alone "apeman" or human.
 
A fossil can never show evolution. Fossils are unchanging records of dead organisms. Evolution is an alleged process of change in live organisms. Fossils show "evolution" only if one presupposes evolution, then uses that presupposed belief to interpret the fossil.
 
Similarities can never show evolution. If two organisms have similar structures, the only thing it proves is that the two have similar structures. One must presuppose evolution to say that the similarities are due to evolution rather than design. Furthermore, when it comes to "transitional forms," the slightest similarities often receive great attention while major differences are ignored.
 
If evolution were true, there would be real transitional forms. Instead, the best "missing links" evolutionists can come up with are strikingly similar to organisms we see today, usually with the exception of minor, controversial, and inferred anatomical differences.
 
Evolutionists only open up about the lack of fossil missing links once a new one is found. Sky News reports, "Researchers say proof of this transitional species finally confirms Charles Darwin's theory of evolution," while Attenborough commented that the missing link "is no longer missing." So are they admitting the evidence was missing until now (supposedly)?" 6

Those who argue for intelligent design, as well as many who are in the evolutionist camp, clearly disagree with the findings of Hurum's team and the significance of these findings as regards any so-called missing link. In fact - at the risk of being too simplistic about all this - it seems that when it is all said and done, what everyone does agree on concerning Ida is that: 
  1. A fossil was found and has been purchased by the University of Oslo
  2. The fossil is in an excellent state of preservation, with amazing detail for study
  3. The fossil is of a lemur-like creature
After this, the facts are pretty much left up to speculation and the findings to debate. If one comes from a frame of reference that believes evolution is true, then one might tend to interpret these facts in such a way that they see a human in them there lemur-like bones. If one is coming from a creationist frame of reference then one will most likely see a lemur in the bones.
 
Concerning this find, David DeWitt of Creation Studies at Liberty University said, "They say 'we have proof' of the missing link. A few years later, they'll claim they have proof all over again. The important question is this: Where did the genetic information come from that produced that skeleton in the first place? It's not random chance." 7
 
It seems to me that it requires much more faith to believe that man originated from some goo that crawled out of the water and eventually became a monkey and then a man; rather than to believe man was created by God. Almost 2,000 years ago the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans:
 
"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made (Rom 1:20 (NIV).
 
When we look at the world around us we would do well to recognize that everything in it cries out in support of intelligent design, a creator; rather than a world that came from mere happenstance. And I'm not "monkeying" around about that.
 
CLICK ON LINK BELOW TO READ ARTICLE CITED 
1. The Guardian, May 19, 2009
 
Culture Tracks

"Belief Trends Regarding Evolution and Creation"

footprints

 Statistical data reflecting some of the findings regarding the cultural footprints of Americans
  • 64% agree human beings were created directly by God (creationism)
  • 22% believe human beings evolved from earlier species (evolution)
  • 10% believe human beings required a powerful force or intelligent being to help create them (intelligent design)
  • 55% believe all three of these theories should be taught in public schools
  • 23% support teaching creationism only
  • 12% teaching evolution only
  • 4% teaching intelligent design only.
  • 54% do not think human beings developed from earlier species (up from 46 percent in 1994)
  • 49% believe plants and animals have evolved from some other species
  • 45% percent do not believe plants and animals have evolved from some other species
  • 46% believe apes and man have a common ancestry
  • 47% believe apes and man do not have a common ancestry
  • 46% agree that Darwin's theory of evolution is proven by fossil discoveries
  • 48% disagree that Darwin's theory of evolution is proven by fossil discoveries
     
    Source: Harris Poll, July 2005 [READ THE FULL REPORT]
BELIEF IN EVOLUTION BY AGE GROUP 

          Ages 18 to 34

  • 49% believe in evolution
  • 18% do not believe in evolution
  • 33% no opinion

          Ages 35 to 54

  • 39% believe in evolution
  • 24% do not believe in evolution
  • 37% no opinion

          Ages 55 and older

  • 31% believe in evolution
  • 30% do not believe in evolution
  • 38% no opinion
     
    Source: Gallup Poll 02-11-09 [READ THE FULL REPORT]
 
Culture In The News
Excerpts From NewspapersMedia News Stories Reflecting Trends In American Spirituality
 
Parents Gather to Nurture Nonbelief

The Modesto Bee, May 21, 2009
 
On Sunday mornings, when many of their contemporaries are taking their seats in church pews, a group of young parents mingle in the living room of a suburban home while their children run around playing games.
 
This congregation of Raleigh-Durham, N.C., triangle residents has no creed or ceremony, just a desire to get together and offer each other support for rearing children without religion. Taking their cue from a primer of the same name, they call themselves Parenting Beyond Belief, and they meet nearly every Sunday, in a city park, an indoor playground or in people's homes.
 
Americans unaffiliated with any particular faith have grown faster than any religious group according to two recent surveys of the U.S. religious landscape. These "unaffiliated" have doubled in the past 20 years and now account for 16 percent of the population.
 
Increasingly, they are vocal about their nonbelief and eager to speak out about it. "No one should be alone in their disbelief," said Keri Rush, 40, of Wake Forest, N.C.
 
Not everyone in the group is an atheist. Some prefer to call themselves "freethinkers" or "humanists," or "spiritual but not religious." Some are even believers. But they share a disdain for organized religion and a desire to rear their children with the tools to think for themselves.
 
These parents know what it's like to fumble for the right answer to questions such as "Why don't we go to church?" and "Is God real?" and they want to share their responses with like-minded parents.

For example, when 6-year-old Evan Spiering announced one day that "God created the world," his father, Todd Spiering, answered, "Grandpa believes that. Some people believe other things."
 
...Only Minneapolis had a parenting group for nonbelievers when Dale McGowan, the Atlanta-based author of "Parenting Beyond Belief," set out to write his book three years ago. Today, there are at least 32 nationwide by his count - the Raleigh chapter being among the most active. A father of three children, McGowan said the idea for the book came to him when his son began asking questions. "I felt like I was shooting in the dark and needed guidance," he said.
 
Though only the Raleigh group takes its name from the book, the parenting groups consist of families wanting some kind of community to replace the religious one they left behind or grew up without. Click Here to Read Full Story

Child Witches: Accused in the Name of Jesus
ABC News May 21, 2009
 
In a dirt-floored, back-alley church, 8-year-old Bobby and his 6-year-old brother Henock were made to kneel before a pastor wearing a white, flowing robe adorned with pictures of Jesus.
 
Looming over the boys, Pastor Moise Tshombe went into a trance, during which he claimed the Holy Spirit took over and the voice of God spoke through him. "I see that witchcraft is in these two," Tshombe said. "The threats inside of them are very strong."
 
These young brothers were the latest victims in an epidemic of accusations of child witchcraft here in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is raging in the name of Jesus. It continues seemingly unabated despite flags raised by organizations such as the United Nations, Save the Children and Human Rights Watch.
 
Bobby and Henock were brought to this pastor by their stepmother, who said she believes her stepsons are witches and claimed the boys were stealing their stepsister's blood and using it to fly at night. Pointing to Henock, whose left arm is covered in bandages, she said that, in the "spirit world," he is an elderly man who injured himself while trying to kill his father. The boys' father was not present; he was out of town on work and apparently unaware of the ceremony.
 
ABC News' "Nightline" gained exclusive access to four churches, where we saw scores of children -- including toddlers -- who were denounced as witches. The accusers were powerful and often politically connected pastors, who some say get paid to perform so-called "deliverance ceremonies," or exorcisms, which can be unimaginably brutal.
 
Arnold Mushiete, a social worker for "Our House," a small, Catholic organization funded entirely by donations, which helps children accused of witchcraft, was our guide into this frightening world. He said a new breed of Christian pastors are manipulating the faith. "Our work is to repair what they have destroyed," he said, "and to give another image of Jesus, not one who tortures children." Click Here to Read Full Story
 
Cheers, Protests At Notre Dame
Washington Post May 18, 2009
 
Amid a scattering of angry protests over his support for abortion rights, President Obama addressed the issue head-on Sunday at the University of Notre Dame, calling for "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words" in the pursuit of "common ground."
 
Since becoming president, and before that for nearly two years on the campaign trail, Obama has sought to skirt the emotional anger that surrounds the debate over abortion. But his decision to speak to graduating Notre Dame students made that approach impossible Sunday.
 
The invitation from one of America's best-known Catholic universities ignited a firestorm of discussion over whether an institution that adheres to the Roman Catholic Church's condemnation of abortion should confer an honorary law degree on a president who is committed to safeguarding abortion rights.
 
Obama appeared energized by the controversy over his appearance, and he addressed the debate over abortion with relish. He pleaded for courtesy in the dialogue even as he acknowledged that "at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable."
 
"Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort?" he said. "As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?"
 
He added: "Let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions. Let's reduce unintended pregnancies. Let's make adoption more available. . . . Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause."
 
...A handful of graduates engaged in a silent protest, having taped a yellow cross and yellow images of baby feet to the top of their mortarboards. Twenty-six of the 2,900 graduates elected to skip the ceremony to protest the school's decision to honor Obama, the Chicago Tribune reported.
 
Meanwhile, hundreds of antiabortion protesters gathered Sunday outside the front gate of the university, beyond the view of the presidential motorcade; police arrested more than three dozen for trespassing, including Norma McCorvey, the woman at the center of the landmark Supreme Court abortion case Roe v. Wade, who is now an antiabortion activist. Billboards on the nearby Indiana Toll Road read: "Notre Dame: Obama is pro abortion choice. How dare you honor him."
 
...In similar fashion, Obama did not shy away from the abortion controversy Sunday. He stressed the need for cooperation and goodwill even among those who disagree about the most morally weighted issues.
"Remember, too, that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt," he said. "This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions and cause us to be wary of too much self-righteousness." Click Here to Read Full Story

Muslim Plan for U.S. College Moves Ahead
USA Today, May 18, 2009
 
A group of American Muslims, led by two prominent scholars, is moving closer to fulfilling a vision of founding the first four-year accredited Islamic college in the United States, what some are calling a "Muslim Georgetown."
 
Advisers to the project have scheduled a June vote to decide whether the proposed Zaytuna College can open in the fall of next year, a major step toward developing the faith in America. Imam Zaid Shakir and Sheik Hamza Yusuf of California have spent years planning the school, which will offer a liberal arts education and training in Islamic scholarship. Shakir, a California native, sees the school in the tradition of other religious groups that formed universities to educate leaders and carve a space in the mainstream of American life.
 
"As a faith community our needs aren't any different than the needs of any other faith community," Shakir told the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals, as he sought donations at a recent conference near Princeton, N.J. "As Muslims, we need to develop institutions to allow us to perpetuate our values."
Others have tried to start Muslim colleges around New York and Chicago, but those schools remained obscure or quickly folded.
 
...A working motto for the school: "Where Islam Meets America." Zaytuna College will start with two majors: Arabic language, and Islamic legal and theological studies.
 
It will not be a seminary, although some graduates could become prayer leaders, or imams. Most U.S. mosques are led by imams from overseas, considered an obstacle to Islam's development in America.
Other students could go on to start American Muslim nonprofits, or become Islamic scholars through advanced study at other schools, said Hatem Bazian, a Zaytuna adviser who teaches at the University of California-Berkeley and Saint Mary's College of California.
 
But administrators aim to teach analytical skills, along with ethics and theology, that can prepare students for many professional careers. Click Here to Read Full Story 
 
Evangelicals Urge Church of Scotland to Back the Ministry of Gay People
Ekklesia, May 22, 2009
 
A strong statement from a range of evangelical organizations, also backed by broader-based groups with significant evangelical participation, has called on the Church of Scotland to affirm the membership and ministry of gay people in the church on biblical and traditional grounds.
 
The move from 11 different networks comes in the wake of attempts by hardliners, who see themselves as 'traditionalists', to challenge highly-regarded minister Scott Rennie (who is openly gay) in Aberdeen and to promote a resolution barring gay people from the church.
 
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the leading Presbyterian denomination's governing body, is meeting now through to 27 May 2009.
 
The statement by evangelicals affirming gay people has been sent to the Kirk and to the media. It points out that there are many who stand by traditional evangelical and orthodox Christian commitments who reject anti-gay words and actions.
 
The media traditionally portray the disagreement about homosexuality and faithful same-sex partnerships in the churches as a split between 'evangelicals' and 'liberals' - but the growing number of pro-gay evangelicals are now challenging these claims and pointing out that the 'traditional teaching' that many claim to stand by may not be in accord with the Gospel tradition after all.
 
The statement says: "There are thousands of faithful people sitting in pews, standing in pulpits, working in your Kirk Sessions, who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered. We urge the Assembly to embrace the message of transformational grace and inclusion, to stand for justice and mercy and signal the openness of God's compassionate love to his children - straight and gay. You will be in common with a vast and growing number of evangelicals and others across the world who do not exclude homosexuals but understand that the Church has erred in its rejection of them."
 
The organizations involved in creating and supporting the evangelical statement are: Accepting Evangelicals, Baptist Network Affirming Lesbian & Gay Christians, Changing Attitude England, Changing Attitude Nigeria, Christian Lesbians UK, CourageSCOTLAND, Courage UK, Ekklesia, Evangelicals Concerned, Inclusive Church, and the Scottish Region of Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians. Click to Read the full story
 
E-Mail
Email from CrossingCurrents Readers
I enjoyed reading the newsletter. The "Belief Trends Among Christians" was mind blowing. Unfortunately, I'm afraid it's getting worse. You've taken the bull by the horns with your ministry and I applaud the work you guys are doing.
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Thank you so much for the information!  And I thought your presentation was great.  I am so GLAD that it was too cold in the other classroom so I didn't miss out on yours.  I look forward to the newsletters!
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I want to congratulate you on the articles you wrote for the Alabama Baptist- on the different denominations. I hope you kept those- and have some others- for you cut right through all the rigmarole and get right to the highlights.
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