Monday, November 30, 2009

ESC and Glow-in-the-dark

Interesting article from Science Daily:
"scientists at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute"
How's that for irony.
"Not only will the ErythRED cell line lead to more efficient creation of red blood cells from human embryonic stem cells, but these cells are a crucial tool for monitoring the behaviour of the cells when transplanted into animal models"
I know we have a problem with getting people to give blood... what is the rationalists explanation that anyway? Shouldn't rational people give blood?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

ASC and Pre-term Lungs

Encouraging new from Science Daily, on the use of adult stem cells to treat premature birth in rats.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Downs Again

Interesting article on Science Daily:
"More importantly, the improved detection rate was accompanied by a decrease in the screening tests false positive rates"
I mumbled earlier about the high rate of abortion for those diagnosed with Downs syndrome. This article reveals the dark side of this practice.

A "false positive" refers to a test which says "true" when the reality is "false". In this case, the baby is said to have Downs syndrome, when he in fact, does not.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Dawkins

"If this 'Dawkins' exists, I demand he show himself to me!" - Way of the Master Radio
Among the new atheists, one of the most amusing is Professor Richard Dawkins. He is constantly seeking media attention, and finding it.

The latest is at CNN.

Some choice selections:
"It's an undeniable fact that to own up to being an atheist is tantamount to introducing yourself as Mr. Hitler or Miss Beelzebub"
This is probably a reference to the public perception that atheists are "evil" (although, what does "evil" even mean to someone who denies there is the ultimate good).

The public perception is wrong.

An atheist is not really any more likely to be evil than anybody else.

However, an atheist has no good reason to justify his behavior. To be good or evil is the same, in his worldview.

"Since we are talking about practical ways, the obvious example is stem cell research."
Yea, don't even go there Professor. You're a biologist, you should know better (I can excuse your terrible theology).
"But there is a more pernicious and pervasive influence, which is an active shutting down of the critical faculties."
Hmm, Romans 1:28?

"Religion teaches us to be satisfied with non-explanations, and this is viciously corrosive of science and of the life of the mind generally."
That's really the best one. I enjoy science because I want to know how God is revealing Himself in nature. Also, I want to be able to explain all my positions based on careful study of God's Word.

But the evolutionist? He "explains" everything with "evolution did it".
  • Why do we have no hair on our bodies? - natural selection
  • Why do we have hair on our heads? - natural selection
  • Why are their more right handed people than left? - natural selection
  • Why are men more likely to be polygamous than women? - natural selection
  • Oops, our latest study shows they are pretty much the same? - natural selection
What traits does natural selection select for? Whatever makes an organism less likely to be selected.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ASC Supply

Recently we saw a potential huge supply of (adult) stem cells from fat.

Now, two more on the same day:
  1. Amniotic fluid
  2. Potential benefits of stem cell therapy without stem cells

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mary and Byzantine

Insightful article from Ignatius Insight.

I must apologize, because I like to always say something good on a topic, before offering criticism (for example "On Pietism"/"Against Pietism"). That post will have to wait...

Some tidbits:
"The Mariological experience and piety of the Byzantine Churches—Catholic and Orthodox—seem to be embodied almost entirely in their worship. But we find no prominent theological reflection on the subject"
"In the East, knowledge of God is not the result of logical arguments presented by theology."
This second quote really captures a lot.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

ESC and Skin

From Science Daily:
"For more than two decades, physicians have used cell culture techniques in order to obtain a sufficiently large area of skin to reconstruct the destroyed epidermis from a small sample harvested from the patients themselves."
So, we have existing solutions that work without ESC...
"Although this type of graft has been used with success, one of its limits is the time required (three weeks) to produce a sufficient amount of epidermis to cover the affected areas"
But we are impatient...
"the use of such grafts in animals with a weakened immune system to overcome potential graft rejection. Twelve weeks after transplantation, the mice presented localized areas of completely normal and functional adult human epidermis containing all the skin cell types"
Graft rejection? Oh yea, these are foreign cells, so the receiver will need to take immuno-suppressive drugs their whole life, or until they can receive a traditional graft.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


It's interesting, the world's treatment of "fans" and "fanatics". Obviously the words are related, one being the shortened form of the other.

But one is accepted, encouraged really.

The other is only spoken of in hushed tones, or with derision.

Excellent treatment at Team Pyro.

Monday, November 16, 2009

ASC and Leukemia

Interesting article from Science Daily:
"Blood and marrow stem cell transplantation has been a mainstay treatment for patients with high risk leukemia and other hematological malignancies for the past 30 years. ... Now, UCB [umbilical cord blood] is routinely used throughout the world as an alternative to bone marrow transplantation."
As I've mentioned previously, embryonic stem cells are technically difficult to produce (in addition to the moral evil involved in production).

On the other hand, adult stem cells source are plentiful (liposuction mentioned in that link, and umbilical cord blood here).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

ASC and Blood Disease

Pretty cool development from Science Daily.

A treatment tested on rats combining gene reprogramming with ASC.
"They successfully used what is called a viral vector (in this case a lentivirus) to insert a healthy version of the IDUA gene into early stage red blood cell cultures"
"Encouraged by the initial cell experiments, the research team next cultured hematopoietic stem cells"
"Dr. Pan said reprogramming a patient's own developing red blood cells by gene therapy would provide a viable option for patients who cannot find a donor and avoid potential complications caused by an immune response to donor cells."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Early Oceans

Interesting article at Science Daily.
"The scalding-hot sea that supposedly covered the early Earth may in fact never have existed"
Always a good start...

It is important to remember that a model is only a model. It is only as real as it is accurate and complete. A simple model will always break down, under certain circumstances. If you know the circumstances, the model can be useful. If you don't know, then you get bitten.
"Previous studies of similarly aged rocks had looked only at oxygen isotope ratios ... But isotope ratios recorded in rocks on the ocean floor are also dependent on the chemical composition of the seawater in which those rocks formed, and the past studies assumed the composition of the ancient ocean was essentially what it is today, which the [current] Stanford study did not."
This is postmodern science. We only know what science tells us, and science changes its story regularly. Their is no guarantee that today's "truth" will be tomorrow's "fantasy".

Thursday, November 12, 2009

ESC and Nerve Damage

It was bound to happen eventually, from Science Daily:
"therapy utilizes human embryonic stem cells"
"A week after test rats with 100 percent walking ability suffered neck spinal cord injuries, some received the stem cell treatment. The walking ability of those that didn't degraded to 38 percent. Treated rats' ability, however, was restored to 97 percent."
This treatment has already been authorized to start human trials.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ESC and Brain Radiation

Interesting story from Science Daily.

Embryonic cells from rats are being used to treat rats undergoing radiation treatment for brain tumors (ironically, ESC treatments often cause tumors...).

It is unclear why they are using ESC rather than ASC...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Degrees of Doctrine

The Pyromaniacs are on a roll!

When it comes to disagreements between Christians, we must categorize our differences. Baby baptizers cannot meet with adult baptizers (would babies only be baptized every other week? Alternating with teaching about how the Bible describes credo-baptism as the right way?) One church cannot say we should dedicate both Sunday and Saturday as the one day for God.

But, these groups should be agreeable. Certainly not denying that one is not a Christian, simply for disagreeing.

There is an excellent list of Scriptures at the Team Pyro link. I would add Matthew 22:36-38. Jesus did not say all commandments are equally important, although there, it was more about two commandments summarizing the rest.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Controversy Again

As I mentioned before, everything at the Pyromaniacs site is really good.

I am trying to get caught up on my TeamPyro feed, and came across another good post on controversy (something they excel at :).

For those who don't know the history, today's Evangelical has evolved from earlier "Fundamentalists" (back when having a foundation was considered a good thing, rather than an abomination).

The Fundamentalists are to be respected for their stand on Biblical truth, especially in a time when the mainline Protestants were collapsing due to infection by modernism.

At the same time, it is important to hold fast to what is true. Not just to react against what is false. And to let minor things be minor.

Friday, November 6, 2009

ESC and Lung Cells

It is interesting to observe how hopeful journalists are for developments with embryonic stem cells, while adult stem cells are being used now to help people...

From Science Daily:
"The technique... could provide an alternative to lung transplants"
What is this fabulous technique that will be helping people tomorrow?
"This study demonstrates that hESC can differentiate into lung epithelial-like tissue without specific growth factors or embryoid body formation"
Oh, it just shows that stem cells can develop into adult cells. No treatment, no time line, no clinical trial.

Also, no mention that these cells will be incompatible with patients, having come from different people.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Catholic and catholic

Internet Monk has a special perspective on Evangelical and Catholic relations - his wife has converted to Catholicism (not to mention his blog is overrun by Catholics trying to convert him! :).

In this light, he has published a five part interview with Catholic apologist Bryan Cross. I would love to dig in line by line, but I am a little (a lot) overwhelmed.

Michael also has some closing words.

For part 1, I was surprised to see the weight he gives to philosophy. I was reminded of Colossians 2:8:
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

He also has a very odd view of the Gospel:
"For this reason, unity is at the very center of the gospel of Jesus Christ, because the unity of God and man in Jesus Christ is at the center of His gospel, in the greatest union of all time, God united to man in the incarnation of Christ."
and an odd absorption with "unity":
"So the unity and catholicity of the Church are together a sign to the world that the One whose Name we bear as Christians was from God"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I've been listening to John Macarthur on "The Christian and Government". He makes some excellent points, as always.

The Biblical notion of crime and punishment is that every crime has a price which must be paid. Thieves must return what is stolen (and then some). You have "eye for eye and tooth for tooth". This provides some disincentive (although sinners always sin, so total prevention is not possible).

The key is that justice must be well defined and swift. The greater the separation between the crime and the execution of judgment, the greater the injustice.

Our modern system has evolved from Biblical principles, but has lost these key Biblical truths. It has also been under attack by atheistic principles.

For the materialist, a human being is a stew of chemicals, bound to react according to the environment. Notions of "responsibility" or "culpability" are lost. Justice is not about paying a price, but seeking to inject some correcting factor into this stew. This is perfectly represented by this Slashdot comment.

In response to:
"Is personal responsibility compatible with atheism?...If we are nothing more than a chemical being, then where does personal responsibility come into play?"
"Yes. I hold both these beliefs. The justice system is not about blame, it's about keeping criminals safe from society and (in my mind) rehabilitating them."
Note the inversion of the standard. The justice system is not about keeping society safe from criminals, but the exact opposite.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Halloween

This is late for Halloween, but on topic.

Halloween is "All Hallow's Eve", the night before "All Souls Day", the day Catholics pray for the dead.

Some Evangelical Christians have problems with Halloween, but I don't really see it. The idea that it is in any way connected to paganism (despite the claims of neo-pagans) is really silly. The modern practice was created by suburban (nominally Christian) moms who wanted fun and candy for their kids, and supported by candy companies. I can't prove that, but it makes a lot more sense than imagining neo-pagans in the 50's and 60's (during the height of tension with atheistic Communism).

I do have a problem with prayer for the dead:
"If any man see his brother sin a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it." 1 John 5:16
Some might say this is a description of mortal and venial sin. But the concept of different categories of sin is not well supported in Scripture (there are different punishments for sin, and the sin against the Holy Spirit).

The simpler explanation is that "death" simply means "death". If you see a brother sin, and live - pray for him. If your brother dies, don't pray for him.


Because there's no point: "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Your brother has gone to judgment, his case cannot be considered any longer.

Perhaps there is tradition in such prayers. Or they comfort us. I think such a thing can be done in a theologically sound way (assuming their life did not show fruit of repentance):
"Father, we pray for our dearly departed that, in their last moments, they might have come to a knowledge of sin, and trusted in You."

Or for a known Christian:
"Father, we thank you for the life of our dearly departed brother. We thank you for the testimony of their life, and for the reward they have now received."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Observatory Data

I keep saying I am going to learn more about astronomy, but the biggest barrier is data (I don't have a telescope, and the light pollution is really bad).

Apparently, there is now a lot of data available online. Very cool.