Archive - Aug 2006
From an AP story of the same title by Lindsey Tanner:
Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.
Whether it's hip-hop, rap, pop or rock, much of popular music aimed at teens contains sexual overtones. Its influence on their behavior appears to depend on how the sex is portrayed, researchers found.
Songs depicting men as "sex-driven studs," women as sex objects and with explicit references to sex acts are more likely to trigger early sexual behavior than those where sexual references are more veiled and relationships appear more committed, the study found.
Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
But which came first, the chicken or the egg?
From an article of the same title by Stephanie Simon in the LA Times:
Dr. Francis Collins has mapped the human genome and embraced Christ. He sees no conflict, but there are skeptics on both sides...
A scientist and a believer. A born-again Christian and director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, a federal project with 550 employees, a $480 million annual budget and a mandate to explore every twist of the DNA that makes us who we are. The synthesis has brought Collins much joy and intellectual satisfaction. But he's frustrated, too, that he's perceived as such an oddity.
In his new book, "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief," Collins expresses his dismay at what he calls "the chasm between science and faith."
Evolution versus intelligent design. Darwin versus God. Embryonic stem-cell research versus the sanctity of human life.
"We act as though there's a battle going on," Collins said. "An irreconcilable conflict."
He feels no such conflict. He believes in evolution and in the resurrection. He wears a silver ring with a raised cross and works at a dining-room table painted with the double-helix of DNA...
He urges his fellow scientists to give up the arrogant assumption that the only questions worth asking are those science can answer. He entreats his fellow believers to recognize it's not blasphemous to learn about the world...
Polls routinely show that about half of all Americans believe God created man, fully formed, within the last 10,000 years, as the Bible recounts. The vast majority of scientists find that ludicrous, but their account of man evolving from primordial muck does not resonate broadly, especially with Christians who believe in a personal God, deeply concerned about each human life...
Some Christians accuse Collins of denying the foundation of faith when he calls the Biblical creation account an allegory.
"Not accepting the history in Genesis undermines the entire gospel," said Ken Ham, president of a ministry called Answers in Genesis, which promotes creationism. "The Bible says from dust we come and to dust we return. We don't return to an ape-man when we die."
From the other camp, some scientists ridicule Collins' effort to find a place for God in the scientific framework.
"I could just as well say that there are 70 pink elephants revolving around the Earth," said Herbert A. Hauptman, a Nobel laureate in chemistry. Science and faith "are simply incompatible," he added. "There's no getting around it."...
Collins considers evolution irrefutable; he has no doubt that all life emerged from a common ancestor over millions of years. But he began to ask himself whether God could have set this amazing process in motion:
Maybe it all appears random from Earth â€” as though man's existence is due to an improbable series of lucky breaks â€” but from God's perspective, perhaps evolution is a logical, even elegant, way to populate the planet. Maybe God intended mutations in DNA over the millennia to lead to the emergence of Homo sapiens. Once man arrived, maybe God set him apart from the other creatures by endowing him with knowledge of right and wrong, a sense of altruism and a yearning for spiritual nourishment.
Collins knew he could never prove any of these ideas, but that no longer troubled him the way it once had.
Science could reel back time 14 billion years to postulate a Big Bang that created the universe. But it could not explain what came before that singular moment â€” or how the energy that fueled the cosmic explosion came to be. Science clearly had limits. So it seemed unfair to Collins to reject the divine simply because God's existence could not be proved.
That argument frustrates Nobel-prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg. Yes, he said, science does have limits. But attributing the unknown to God doesn't advance human knowledge or serve a useful purpose, except to give believers a "warm, fuzzy, reassuring feeling."...
Polls have found that 40% of scientists believe, as Collins does, in a God who actively communicates with man. Among elite biologists, however, the figure is much lower, about 5%...
Creationists have e-mailed denunciations, labeling him a false prophet. Advocates of intelligent design call him illogical for holding that God designed the universe and perhaps even the first molecules of DNA, but not complex structures like the human eye (which Collins says must have come about through evolution, though biologists haven't yet figured out exactly how that's possible).
The harsh words have stung â€” and eaten up his time; he wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to try to answer every e-mail after his morning ritual of reading the Bible and the Washington Post. Still, Collins said he's encouraged to be part of a broader movement to explore harmonies between science and faith.
From an article of the same title by Peter Wallsten in the LA Times:
As discontent with the Republican Party threatens to dampen the turnout of conservative voters in November, evangelical leaders are launching a massive registration drive designed to reach religious voters in battleground states.
The program, coordinated by the Colorado-based group Focus on the Family and its influential founder, James C. Dobson, will use a variety of methods -- including information inserted in church publications and booths placed outside worship services -- to try to recruit millions of new voters in 2006 and beyond...
The new voter-registration program -- with a special focus on eight states, including Michigan, with key Senate, House and state-level races -- comes as Republicans are struggling with negative public sentiment over the war in Iraq and other administration policies. Turning out core GOP voters is central to the party's strategy to retain control of Congress...
The program, announced in an e-mail last week, is seeking county and church coordinators in the targeted states of Maryland, Montana, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Minnesota.
"In 2004, about 25 million evangelicals failed to vote. Now is the time to reverse the trend," the e-mail said.
According to the e-mail, county coordinators are being asked to work about five hours a week and would be responsible for "recruiting key evangelical churches."
The church coordinators, devoting one or two hours per week, would be in charge of "encouraging pastors to speak about Christian citizenship, conducting a voter-registration drive, distributing voter guides and get-out-the-vote efforts."
Registering voters in churches is not a new tactic for either party, but Republicans have proved far more effective in recent years at combining religion and politics for electoral gain.
Critics say the practice is potentially illegal, citing tax laws that prohibit churches from engaging in partisan activities.
From a Reuters story of the same title on MSNBC.com:
Some are Catholics who see their church as stuck in the past. Others are believers who happen to be divorced, pregnant before marriage or gay. A few just can't find a priest when they need one.
Roman Catholics shunned by the official church are "renting" married priests in times of crisis and celebration.
They turn to http://www.rentapriest.com, a Web site with 2,500 Catholic priests in a national database known as "God's Yellow Pages."
Virtually all the priests in the database have left their official clerical ministries due to the Roman Catholic Church's mandatory celibacy rule, but they continue to conduct weddings, usually for a fee, while performing baptisms, last rites and funerals for free, in keeping with the practice of officially recognized priests.
This story is actually not as extreme as the headline would lead you to believe. The judge appears to have had a hair-trigger response to any "outburst", regardless of its content. From an AP article of the same title on abcnews.com:
Junior Stowers raised his hands and exclaimed, "Thank you, Jesus!" in court last month when he was acquitted by a jury of abusing his son.
But his joy was short-lived when Circuit Judge Patrick Border held him in contempt of court for the "outburst" and threw him in jail.
Stowers, 47, sat in the courtroom and a cellblock for about six hours until the judge granted him a hearing on the contempt charge and released him...
Court minutes said Border later dropped the charge because he realized Stowers' trial lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Carmel Kwock, did not have time to tell Stowers the judge had ordered both sides not to show emotion when the verdict was announced.