For many years, we have dreamed about having a program that would encourage young Christians to start thinking, researching, and writing in the field of Christian apologetics. We did not feel that donated money could be used for such a purpose, and we really had no other way to do it. Last year, we awarded two $1,000 scholarships in memory of two ladies who had a positive influence on this program--Edith Lawson (Phyllis Clayton's mother) and Connie Parsons (John Clayton's aunt). We have decided to offer two scholarships again this year

Year 2001 Requirements for the
 Does God Exist? Memorial Scholarships

  1. Applicants must be high school graduates who will be attending a college, technical school, or university in the fall of 2001.
  2. Applicants must submit a paper of 5000 words or less on the subject "Science: A Friend, Not An Enemy of Faith." Papers will be graded on the following:
    1. Validity of evidence presented.
    2. Usefulness of the evidence in helping others believe.
    3. Technical construction of the paper (documentation, spelling, clarity of expression, etc.).
  3. Applicants must be willing for their finished paper to be reproduced in this journal. (Publication is not guaranteed.)
  4. All papers and applications must be postmarked no later than June 1, 2001.
For more information and an application form, send your request to John and Phyllis Clayton, 1555 Echo Valley Dr., Niles, MI 49120.

STEM CELLS AND ABORTION. One of the promising areas of genetic research going on today is the use of stem cells in treating some diseases. Stem cells are cells that basically are blank slates in a genetic sense. They are cells that do not have a genetic code that is set and so they can be turned into a variety of different cell types. The research that is being done with these cells offers the possibility of being able to help cure nerve damage, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and a variety of genetically caused syndromes. Celebrities like Michael J. Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, and Christopher Reeves have appeared before congress promoting stem cell research because they all have problems that this research might help cure. The problem is that much of the stem cell material that has been used so far has come from aborted embryos, and so the issue has become one of an ethical and moral nature.

 The point we would like to make is that stem cells are found in umbilical cord blood and in several adult sources. Adult stem cells can be donated and used without any of the issues involving embryo research being involved. In fact, the Christopher Reeves Paralysis Foundation itself reported in August, 2000, that adult bone marrow cells have been cultured to produce nerve cells. Congress is making this decision right now, but it appears that the propaganda of the media has not made the options clear.

In a related issue is a case in Massachusetts where a pregnant woman is in jail because she is unwilling to go to a doctor to have her baby. The state's claim is that the unborn baby's rights are being violated so they have jailed the mother to be. We are not supporting the woman's position, but simply trying to point out that the position on the abortion issue taken by the government in the United States is so illogical and inconsistent that it is impossible to defend.  Reference: U.S. News and World Report, September 25, 2000, page 31

THE EXORCIST RETURNS. In 1973 a film was released that portrayed demon possession and the role of Catholic priests in performing exorcisms. The story revolved around the idea of a child being taken over by a demon and a priest's attempts to exorcise the demon. In 1973 the main stream of American religion outside of Catholicism and even within much of Catholicism did not accept either demon possession or the idea that certain individuals had the power to remove a demon. In the past five years this has all changed. The original film The Exorcist is being reintroduced with a eleven minute expansion of the original film. Time magazine in its review of the issue quotes exorcists as saying "the culture's lack of a moral anchor, its acceptance of abortion and an increased flirtation with paganism" allows possession to happen and thus them to perform exorcisms (See Time, October 2, 2000, page 74). Within the Church there has been a growth in belief that all of this is real and that a real danger exists of being taken over by a demon against one's own will.

The problem for those of us who are urging people to believe that science and faith support each other and that we can logically and rationally believe in God, in Jesus, and in the Bible as God's word is that demon possession and exorcism sound more like Stephen King than anything else. It is also important to understand that there are many non-issues here. We are not saying that Satan is not alive and well on Planet Earth, and we are not saying that sin is not destructive. What we are saying is that God tells us we are responsible for our own choices in salvation (Philippians 2:12, for example) and that man's free moral choices cannot be taken from him. A child cannot be taken over as portrayed in The Exorcist, and no human has more power than another human in imploring God for help. We would urge parents and youth workers to be very careful with this movie as it returns to theaters. It will be much more destructive than it was when we reviewed it nearly 30 years ago in this journal, and it had a profound destructive affect on America then.

GIVING AND PROSPERITY. Mississippi ranks as number 49 in resident's gross income in the United States. Massachusetts ranks as number 4. Since people in Massachusetts make more money than people in Mississippi, their giving to charity will naturally be higher--right? The fact is that residents of Mississippi rank number 1 in the United States in contributions to charity and Massachusetts ranks number 50. All kinds of explanations can be given by skeptics to these numbers, but it would be our suggestion that strong church affiliation and lack of acceptance of materialism would be major factors. Apart from that opinion (which is strictly ours) is the fact that giving is not related to money. People give because of their commitment and their values. Saying "I will give when I reach" (a certain amount of money per week) is basically saying "I am not interested in using what I have to help others." As you look at the data one has to be reminded of Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 8:2, "Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity." (Data from Time, October 2, 2000, page 32.)

FATHER ADAM. Several years ago geneticists found evidence that all humans on the planet had a common female ancestor. Referred to as "mother Eve" the ancestor had a mitochondrial DNA fragment that appears to have been passed on to all humans today regardless of their race or religion. A new find called "the Y Guy" by geneticists (from the Y-chromosome), has been tracked by using 167 chemical markers and found in DNA samples from 1062 men from all over the world. The basic message here seems to be the same as the "mother Eve" data, and that is that all humans are related and should be treated as brothers and sisters. There is no inferior race nor is there any justification for prejudice, war, or isolation. We are truly "all of one blood" and need to realize our oneness. If peace is ever to come, it will come only when this respect is there. Our challenge would be that "survival of the fittest" and other theoretical spin offs of chance explanations of man fail to state the uniqueness and dignity of man. Only the Bible gives man the standard to "love your neighbor as yourself" and to "do good to all men." Jesus Christ gave us that model, which is supported by the evidence and will work if it is followed. (Original data from Science News, November 4, 2000, page 295.)

WEIRD PLANETS. As astronomers study the sky with better instruments, they find unusual objects. Recently California Institute of Technology astronomers reported the finding of 18 planets that are floating around in space by themselves, not orbiting any star. The classic model of how solar systems form and how planets form in them is by condensing from clouds of materials orbiting stars. There is no way that method can explain these planets. The main message here is how much we have to learn about the cosmos and how planets and stars are formed.--Reference: Discover December, 2000, page 19.

DIVORCE AND KIDS ISSUE WHIRLS. If a man and a woman cannot get along and they have kids, what should they do--divorce or stay together. With around 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, this is a major issue in this country. A recent book titled The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Judith Wallerstein tells of researching this issue by following 131 children of divorce from 1971 to the present. The affect that the divorce had on these kids is enormous and has raised a lot of eyebrows. Stephanie Staal's book The Love They Lost written by the child of a divorce has added to the discussion, and a book titled The Case for Marriage by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher has also boosted it. We have maintained in this journal for over 30 years that kids get damaged badly by divorce, but now scholars not just school teachers are saying it.

The problem is that many divorces are caused by abuse of some kind and may be necessary for the survival of a human life. It is easy to be harsh and insensitive to individual problems. Our message is that young people should look at marriage as a commitment, not a temporary state and that divorce in all cases should be a last resort in which the well being of children have a high priority. God hates divorce, and His wisdom is so much greater than ours that it may take man a long time to figure out all the reasons why. (For articles on this, see Time, September 25, 2000, page 75-82, U.S. News and World Report, October 2, 2000, page 18.)

Announcing Two New Books

The Does God Exist? program is pleased to announce the publication of two new books:

A Whiner's Guide to Chemotherapy by Judy Hines. Judy has gone through three separate bouts with cancer. In the process of all that she has endured, she has kept a diary of everything--good and bad. This book was written to help others dealing with cancer and with chemotherapy. It is humorous, sad, uplifting, and heart breaking. We have reproduced it because we feel Judy has a lot to offer cancer victims and their families.

The Real Jesus of History by Steve Williams. Steve has written a number of books on suffering that we have offered over the years. This book is designed to answer the challenges of biblical minimalists and modern attempts to deny the divinity of Christ. Dr. Williams is an expert in this subject area and has an easy-to-understand work here that we believe is badly needed.

Please fill out and return to John Clayton, 1555 Echo Valley Drive, Niles, MI 49120. Please make check payable to the Dowagiac Church of Christ.

I would like to order ______ copies of A Whiner's Guide to Chemotherapy for $2.50 ppd.

I would like to order ______ copies of The Real Jesus of History for $2.00 ppd.

Please send me both books for $4.00 ppd.

(Either or both of these books may be returned for a refund if you wish.)

Name ______________________________________________



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