Beginnings Reporting on science and intelligent design

Groundbreaking surgery helps baby whose parents chose life

Science | Doctors offered an abortion, but family opted for a first-of-its-kind procedure
by Julie Borg
Posted 11/02/17, 01:20 pm

Surgeons at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston recently performed an innovative new surgery on an unborn baby boy with spina bifida at 24 weeks of gestation. The doctors removed the mother’s uterus but left it attached internally and then operated on the child through tiny slits in the womb, The New York Times reported.

Doctors diagnosed the baby’s condition following an ultrasound at 13 weeks. Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the spinal column does not close completely, leaving nerves exposed. It can cause both cognitive and physical disabilities. The medical team told the parents their baby’s brain stem was slipping down into the spinal column and the amniotic fluid, which becomes toxic to the exposed nerves, would likely cause more damage over time.

Initially, doctors pushed for an abortion, but the parents chose to give their little boy a chance through the experimental operation. The parents know their baby will still likely suffer some damage from the defect, but they hope the procedure will enhance his quality of life. “We’re strong believers in God, and we’re at peace,” the grandmother told the Times. “This baby is going to be so loved.”

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD board member, pointed out in his podcast The Briefing the contradiction between secular media’s support of the cutting-edge surgery and a woman’s legal right to abort her unborn baby, calling it “a form of undisguised moral insanity.” But he added that we should be thankful for what this surgery and the Times’ reporting of it represents: “What we see here is a chink in the pro-abortion armor. What we see here is irrefutable evidence, even visual as well as verbal evidence, of what it means that unborn life in the womb is a baby.”

Scientists: Existence of the universe defies physics

According to the laws of physics, the universe should have annihilated itself as soon as it came into existence.

Evolutionary scientists who adhere to the Big Bang theory argue that only energy existed in the beginning, then, as the universe expanded, some of the energy transformed into matter. When energy converts to matter, the reaction always creates an equal amount of antimatter, particles with a charge opposite their counterpart. So, for example, a proton of matter has a positive charge and a proton of antimatter, an antiproton, has a negative charge. But, since opposites attract, if equal amounts of matter and antimatter existed in the very beginning, they would have obliterated each other.

Earlier this year, scientists for the first time developed a way to measure antimatter, a discovery they hoped would enable future researchers to solve the mystery of how the universe survived.

Experts think some difference, some asymmetry, between matter and antimatter must exist that protected the two from a fatal attraction in the beginning. They have checked out numerous possibilities so far, including shape and mass, but found no differences. In the latest study, researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or CERN) in Switzerland investigated magnetism and, once again, came up empty-handed.

“All of our observations find a complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, which is why the universe should not actually exist,” Christian Smorra, author of the CERN study, told the Independent of London.

But the enigma doesn’t surprise Brian Miller, research coordinator for the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. It is just another example of the razor-edge fine-tuning all around us that points to the existence of a creator, he told me.

“The fact that all the details are just right for life when almost any other set of laws of physics would have produced a universe that couldn’t support life strongly suggests that there is a creator who designed those laws specifically with life in mind,” Miller said. —J.B.

Bible helps with ancient eclipse calculation

Researchers in England used a Biblical narrative as one source to calculate the date of the oldest recorded solar eclipse, a discovery that could enable historians to more precisely date the reigns of the Egyptian pharaohs.

The Old Testament book of Joshua says that, in answer to Joshua’s prayer, “the sun stood still and the moon stopped.” Bible scholars debate whether this meant that God worked through some natural cosmic occurrence or intervened miraculously in nature.

Modern English Bible translations generally interpret the passage in Joshua to mean the sun and moon stopped moving, Colin Humphreys, a University of Cambridge professor and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

But when the scientists examined the original Hebrew text, they found the Biblical words could also mean the sun and moon stopped shining, as would occur during an eclipse. The Hebrew word for “stand still” has the same root as the Babylonian word used in ancient astronomy texts to describe eclipses, the researchers said.

Combining the Biblical text, historical information from ancient Egyptian records, and a new, more precise method of computing the timing of astronomical events, the researchers calculated the only solar eclipse visible from Canaan during the time of Joshua occurred on Oct. 30, 1207 B.C. If the scientists are correct, their analysis indicates that Ramesses the Great, who some think is the pharaoh of Exodus, reigned from 1276 to 1210 B.C., give or take one year. —J.B.

Evolution can’t beat death

Some evolutionary scientists claim aging and death are just a malfunction of natural selection. They say if they could develop a method to use evolutionary competition among cells to eliminate age-damaged ones and leave well-functioning cells intact, humans could beat death. But new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows the futility of that quest.

When the body ages, many cells slow down and lose some of their function. At the same time, growth accelerates in other cells that can turn into cancer. With age, most people develop some cancer cells even though they don’t always produce disease.

It’s an impossible dilemma, the researchers said: If scientists eliminated the sluggish, poorly functioning cells, the cancer cells would proliferate, but if they eliminated the cancer cells, the damaged cells that produce aging would mushroom.

“We’re saying it’s not just a question of evolution not doing it; it can’t be done by natural selection or by anything else,” Joanna Masel, one of the University of Arizona researchers, said in a statement.

The researchers’ conclusion aligns with Biblical teaching in Hebrews 9:27: “It is appointed for man to die once.” —J.B.

North Korea nuclear test site tunnel collapses

Last week we reported scientists’ fear that North Korea’s underground nuclear test site and the mountain on top of it were in danger of collapsing and allowing radiation to spew into the environment. Now, according to a report by Japan’s Asahi TV, one of the tunnels caved in during recent construction work, killing possibly 200 people. —J.B.

Julie Borg

Julie is a clinical psychologist and writer who lives in Dayton, Ohio. She reports on science and intelligent design for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital.

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  • PaulC
    Posted: Fri, 11/03/2017 02:20 am

    1276 to 1210 BC would give this Ramesses a reign on 66 years.  That does not fit the Bible record that the Pharoah died, the children of Israel cry out to God, and the Lord sends Moses.(unless you are willing to accept the idea that the children of Israel had to wait another 66 years from the time of their sigh for relief  at the time of the death of one Pharaoh, until the deliverer arrived.)  Calculating the date of the exodus on the basis of the dates provided in the Bible, I calculate 1491BC or 2513 AM = years from the Creation. James Ussher's, Annals of the World translated by Larry and Marion Pierce and Floyd Nolen Jones Chronology of the Old Testament are both helpful in this kind of study.  For both of them, the Bible is regarded as the inspired word of the living God, and accurate.  

    Who else wants to comment on this?  

  • Mrs D's picture
    Mrs D
    Posted: Fri, 11/03/2017 01:12 pm

    An eclipse wouldn't make the day longer.  "And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. . . So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day." (Joshua 10:13)  That brings up another question, which, because of no "accurate earth-based clock with which to compare our astronomical observations" exists,  we have no scientific reason to doubt the historical accuracy of the Bible. ( )

  • Fuzzyface
    Posted: Thu, 11/16/2017 12:26 pm

    Mrs D, that's the exact passage that this article is talking about where the more typical rendering of 'stood still' could be 'stopped shining'.  Assuming this passage describes a solar eclipse, the last part of this verse could be describing the sun not shining but not going down to do so.