for January/February 2009

Supercollider Nonsense.
The media and the kooks are having a field day with bizarre descriptions of what will be learned from the supercollider in Europe and what it might do to the earth. Let me give you a very simple parallel to help you understand what is going on in this new experimental device. When I was a kid living in Bloomington, Indiana, we used to find geodes in the creek beds and washes all over Monroe County--the area surrounding Bloomington. These are concretions of quartz that frequently surround something in the center that is of great interest--crystals of other materials, fossils, or gem-quality quartz crystals of things like amethyst or jasper. The problem was that these geodes were incredibly hard and the hammers we had would not break them in any reasonable time. Our solution was to throw one geode against another as hard as we could. That usually did the trick.

The proton is like a geode. It is too hard to break apart by any normal means, so smashing one proton into another to see what it is made of is what the supercollider is designed to do. Contrary to what you may have read, this is not the big bang, and it will not make a black hole that will swallow the earth. What is hoped is that the fundamental particles of charge and gravity may become better understood, and hopefully we will gain one more step in understanding some of the methods God has used in creating the heaven and the earth.

Better to Give Than to Receive. A study in the journal Science (March 21, 2008) by researchers at Harvard and the University of British Columbia reports that how people spent their money made a huge difference in happiness and satisfaction. In fact, it was more important than how much money they made. The idea that "survival of the fittest" rules all that happens in the world is not supported by the evidence when it comes to happiness in humans.

More Trouble for Pot Users. The big push for legalization of marijuana took another hit in recent studies on the damaging effects of marijuana on the gums. Studies have shown that people between the ages of 18 and 32 who used marijuana once a week were three to five times as likely to have periodontitis in which the inner layer of gums and bone pull away from the teeth. Adding this to the proven lung damage that pot causes, makes recreational and medical use of marijuana very unwise. Source: Science News, February 9, 2008, page 85.

Moon's Importance. The reason for the earth having a large moon and having it at the distance it is from earth is becoming better understood. It turns out that the size of the moon is critical to having life on earth and to the stability of the earth. The moon orbits the earth at an average distance of 238,600 miles, but every year it gets 1.6 inches farther away. The reason this happens instead of the moon being pulled closer to the earth is because of tides. The high and low tides, combined with earth's rapid rotation on its axis, adds energy to the moon's orbit pushing it slowly away from us instead of pulling it into us. The size of the moon also keeps our days at the length they are. If the moon were less massive our days might be as short as 15 hours. Perhaps the major effect is the stability of our planet. Mars wobbles dramatically on its axis producing wild swings in climates because it has no significant moon (only two very small ones). The rotational stability of our planet is produced by the moon's gravitational lock on the planet. For more on this read: What if the Moon Didn't Exist? Voyages to Earths That Might Have Been by Neil F. Comins. HarperCollins, 1993, ISBN: 0-060168641; also in Scientific American, October 2008, page 104.

Women's Role in the Church. The number of female preachers in American churches in the past 20 years has nearly tripled. US News and World Report (September 10, 2007, page 32) reports that every religion that allows female clergy "has seen membership plummet and every major religious group that doesn't, such as Roman Catholics, has seen a rise." The article goes on to say that liberalizing trends are unpopular among the religious. Christianity has been the one major positive influence through the centuries on women's rights, but it is true that God in the Bible has identified roles for the sexes. We have suggested that the mental health and psychological well being of men and women is an issue that is related to these roles. The data seems to support the fact that this is a significant issue for people as they look at their own religious beliefs and practices and that "liberalized religions are shrinking" to use the words of the article.

"Explaining Religion" Project. A three-year study involving 14 universities and a large number of scientists funded by a $3.1 million budget has been announced to "give a biological explanation for religion." The idea is to do neurological and brain studies to explain how religion came into existence on a purely biological level. This study involves everything from evolutionary explanations of morality to chemical causes of "religious states of mind." There has been a fair amount of attention given to the idea that belief in God and religious tendencies is due to certain types of activity in certain parts of the brain. If the intent of the studies is to discount and destroy religious belief, it is doomed to failure because of the number of assumptions that are involved. If the intent is to suggest that we are designed to be religious, it will be a big problem for atheists because historically belief in God has been a liability in biological survival. Source: The Economist, March 22nd, 2008, page 89.

Biblical Illiteracy. One of the things that we notice in the e-mails that come to us is that there is a growing problem with the general population's Bible knowledge. This is confirmed in a study by The Barna Group. George Barna chose three different groups--nondenominational Christian churches, Baptists, and mainline Protestants which included Methodists, Lutherans, and Episcopalians. Here are some interesting understandings of these three groups:

Doctrine Percent that agree
Mainline Baptists Nondenominational
Christ was sinless 35 55 70
Bible is totally accurate 34 66 77
You cannot earn heaven 27 43 64
Satan is real 20 34 5

It would seem that religious groups are arguing about theological issues that become irrelevant to the understandings of most members of their groups. Basic education seems to be a huge need among America's churches. Source: Restoration Herald, September 2008, page 3.

Neanderthal Debate Continues. It has been our position throughout the forty years of this journal that there are many different races of men today and in the past. We also maintain that racial variations explain the fossil differences for which many scientists have devised extreme theories about sub-humans and pre-humans in the past. One argument used by those who claim these theories has been that there was no evidence that Neanderthals could talk. A recent scientific study of the genome of the Neanderthals shows they possessed the same gene for speech that is seen in modern humans. When this is put together with continued evidence that the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon groups interbred, the racial argument for these ancient forms of man continues to gain strength. Source: Science Illustrated, September/October 2008, page 22.

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