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Return to 3rd Quarter 2017 articles.

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from Does God Exist? 3rd Quarter 2017

NEWS AND NOTES DAILY. You can keep current on the latest News and Notes by going to our daily posts at www.doesgodexist.today. You can also follow Does God Exist? Today with RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Put us in the feed reader on your smartphone or tablet. If you do not have a feed reader, we recommend Feedly, it is free. Just go to the app store for Android or iPhone and download the app. Then use the “Add Content” function to add the DoesGodExist.Today website to your feed. Then each day you can read our latest posts, and you will not have to wait for the next quarter when the printed publication arrives.

AN ALCOHOLIC WOMAN IS SLEEPING ON TABLE WITH A GLASS OF ALCOHOL IN HER HAND.

ALCOHOL AND BREAST CANCER. For the past several years studies have suggested that drinking reduces the risk of cancer. The flavonoids in grape-derived drinks were said to boost the immune system. A new study connects alcohol and breast cancer risk.

The American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund have announced the analysis of 119 previous studies involving 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer. The study shows that even one small glass of wine or an eight-ounce beer a day causes a 5% greater risk of breast cancer for premenopausal women and a 9% increase for postmenopausal women. Alcohol triggers DNA mutations and raises estrogen levels which are linked to increased risk for breast cancer.

Alcohol is the most destructive recreational drug ever created by man. The damage it causes brings enormous pain and suffering not only to those who use alcohol but to innocent people who are victimized by its effect. Source: The Washington Post, quoted in The Week, June 9, 2017, page 19.

GRAVITATIONAL GLUE. As scientists study the motions of things in space, a great mystery continues to grow. The fact that everything spins at very fast rates allows stability in the cosmos. Galaxies, which are island universes containing billions of stars, spin fast enough that they do not collapse into their cores and yet they do not fly apart. Scientists call the force that makes this possible “gravitational glue.”

Adding to the mystery, we see light bending as it travels through space and we call that “gravitational lensing.” There is not enough visible mass in the cosmos to bend the light as much as we observe. Massive filaments of gas connect groups of galaxies, and they are controlled by something invisible.

There are two proposals of subatomic particles that could be the cause of these mysteries. One is Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). These particles would have to be heavier than protons and neutrons. The other proposal is Axions. They would be “ghost particles” that have a low mass but are super-abundant. So far all attempts to detect either of these possible explanations have failed. To find the answer will require a very complicated detection system.

This is just one more example of why the creation of the cosmos cannot be explained by naturalistic chance. The complexity of such simple things as having a planet in a solar system within a galaxy defies any chance explanation. The gravitational glue that holds everything together is just another wonderful creation of God that allows us to exist. Source: Discover, July/August 2017, page 76.

APOLOGETICS COURSE HAS 3,700 STUDENTS. We now have 3,700 students taking our Christian apologetics course. We began that ministry in 1960 working with prisoners in Indiana. We wrote a three-lesson apologetics course because a large percentage of the incarcerated people we talked to had lost or were struggling with their faith.

That basic correspondence course kept growing, being updated and revised to the point where we now have 13 lessons. We quickly found that the course was too basic for many of our prisoner students, so we began a 13-lesson college-level course. We have offered that course for 20 years, and it is also on our website (doesgodexist.org).

We offer students who complete either one or both of our apologetics courses nine other courses that are Bible-study programs taught by other teachers. There are also contact opportunities with congregations geographically close to the students. All of these courses are free and postage-paid both ways. Whether online or by mail, our courses are always free of charge. We send a completion certificate to those students who finish either apologetics course. We will also send a copy of our primary book The Source to those completing the advanced course and requesting it.

“DEMONS AND REALITY” BRINGS REACTIONS. In our last issue we published an article titled “Demons and Reality.” In it, we discussed the question of what demon possession is about, and whether it happens in today's world. We gave seven reasons why demon possession does not happen today, based on the Bible and the evidence. You can read the article online at http://www.doesgodexist.org/Journals--2017/2ndQtr17/DemonsandReality.html.

One of the points we made was that Jesus was tempted in every way we are (see Hebrews 4:15). We said, “No one has ever suggested that Jesus was demon possessed.” We received an objection to that statement because in Matthew 12:24 the Pharisees claimed that Jesus was casting out demons “by Beelzebub.” Beelzebub is a Hebrew word that means “lord of the flies.” Beelzebub was a heathen deity to which the Jews ascribed supremacy among evil spirits. First, the accusation was false. Then, notice that the statement is not that Jesus was possessed and had to have an exorcism to cast a demon out of him. What the Pharisees accused Jesus of was using the power of the heathen deity to do demon exorcisms. That is a far cry from having a demon overtake a person and, against their will, cause them to do things they would not do otherwise.

We heard from some others who claimed to have witnessed everything from voodoo to ghost habitations to spirit murders. In our world, violence is equated with entertainment and technology can place us in unreal environments. Almost anything can be invented and carried out by the human mind. People can produce illusions that are convincing. Do not buy into these claims and scams. Rely on God and his Word. We would repeat the conclusion of the “Demons and Reality” article:

God is a rational God, and he wants us to come to him out of love and with feelings of gratitude and thanksgiving. We are to be new creatures, not just creatures purged of a perceived problem by a human not authorized by God to do so. [The Bible tells us], “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” God allows you to choose “this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Acts 2:36 – 41; Philippians 2:12; and Joshua 24:15

ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR “LUKEWARM” LAODICEA. Jesus addressed lukewarm Laodicea in a letter recorded in Revelation 3:14 – 21. In verses 15 and 16, Jesus told the congregation in that city that they make him sick because of their lukewarmness. There are many reasons for this lukewarmness. One of them appears to have been their compromise with religious pluralism.

An article in the Biblical Archaeology Review (March/April 2017) describes the apparent history of the church in that city. The archaeological artifacts found there give evidence of great financial prosperity in the city. There are also columns and tablets showing a collection of religious symbols from different faiths. One column has a menorah, a lulav (palm branch), a shofar (ram's horn), and a cross. The Christian cross extends from the Jewish menorah and seems to connect the Laodicean church to the synagogue.

In the apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians, he addressed all of the churches in that region, including Laodicea. Paul primarily argued against the way many Christians were returning to following the laws and restrictions of the Old Testament. He wrote these rebuking words:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ, and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
Galatians 1:6, 7 NIV 1984

While we as Christians are to love and support others of a different faith, we are not to meld our faith into theirs. Lukewarmness is one of the products of such compromise. Religious pluralism did not work for lukewarm Laodicea, and it does not work today.

TRANSGENDER BULLYING. As our society continues to accept any kind of behavior for the sake of tolerance, equal rights, and personal freedom, are we going to accept transgender bullying? The problem is that sometimes “personal rights” for one violates someone else's rights.

GENDER NEUTRAL RESTROOM SIGN THAT SAYS, WHICHEVER.

In Citizen magazine (June/July 2017, page 11), there is a story about a “progressive” blogger by the name of Kristen Quintrall Lavin who had an experience that apparently has caused her to have concerns about the muddled atmosphere of sexual identity. Ms. Quintrall was in the women's restroom at the Disney theme park when a “big burly guy” walked in. The room was full of a dozen women with kids, and in her words, “Everyone was visibly uncomfortable.” The man simply hung around watching. He knew no one would say anything because they knew the man would identify himself as a woman. She said, “We had been culturally bullied into silence.”

This woman calls herself a “progressive” and says, “I am totally cool with transgender people.” But she also says, “Gender just can't be a feeling. Gender must be clearly defined to keep women safe. We cannot tell women they don't know what a man is anymore.” The Bible clearly defines what it means to be a man or a woman. When those definitions and roles are destroyed, the result is abuse and chaos.

ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE BIBLE. The Biblical Archaeological Review (May/June 2017) carried an article by Dr. William G. Dever with the inflammatory title “Who Tells the Truth: The Bible or Archaeology.” The title is somewhat misleading, because Dever is actually a historical maximalist when it comes to bringing the archaeology and the Bible together. Dr. Dever is the Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Arizona, and his proposal is that biblical texts and archaeological data should be studied separately and then students should look for convergences.

Ruins of an ancient synagogue in the archaeological park of the Biblical Shiloh in Samaria, Israel

There are two approaches to the relationship of archaeology and the Bible. In addition to the “maximalist” position, there are also “minimalists.” Biblical minimalism is the view that assumes that archaeology and the Bible are necessarily in conflict because the biblical account is viewed as a myth. Minimalism is the approach of the “Jesus Seminar” group which says if a statement in the Bible is hard to believe or is a miracle, then it can be discarded. Archaeological minimalists assume that things like David and Goliath, Saul and David, Moses and the Exodus, David's palace, and Solomon's riches cannot be true and cannot be supported by archaeology. When a find is made that seems to support some of these biblical stories, that interpretation is automatically discarded.

The problem for biblical minimalists is that there is too much evidence that the Bible is true to reasonably discard it. Hershel Shanks, who is the editor of Biblical Archaeological Review wrote about this. The article he wrote was in the July/August 1997 issue titled “Face to Face: Biblical Minimalists Meet Their Challengers.” Christians do not need to be intimidated by claims made that archaeology discredits the Bible. Christians should follow 1 Peter 3:15 and know how to answer these claims. We would encourage our readers to read an article by Lydia Evdoxiadi Verniory that we published in our May/June 2010 issue page 15. Ms. Verniory is a practicing archaeologist, and the article is titled “Noisy Books On The Historicity of the Bible: ‘Take Them With A Grain of Salt.’ ”

TOMOGRAPHY OPENS OLD BIBLICAL DOCUMENTS. Tomography is a way of imaging something in sections or “slices” without actually cutting it. It is often used in hospitals today in computed tomography (CT), also called “CAT scans.” Our most basic theme in this ministry is that science and faith support each other one-hundred percent. This scientific technique of tomography is going to provide a way of verifying biblical documents as never before. Dr. Brent Seales is using CT to “open” documents that could not previously be opened.

In 1970 a scroll was discovered in an ancient synagogue in En-Gedi, Israel. The document was badly damaged when a fire destroyed the synagogue in the sixth century. The scroll was a lump so charred that it would crumble when touched. When Seales applied his analysis technique to the scroll without unrolling it or touching it in any way, it turned out to be two chapters from the book of Leviticus.

It will be exciting to see what can be found when other charred or brittle remains of documents from the past can be brought out using tomography so that scholars can study them. Science is opening doors that were previously unavailable to us. Questions about the accuracy of our biblical texts can be answered. The future is very bright in the area of canonicity, knowing that we have the “right books” in our modern Bibles. Source: Discover, June 2017, page 12.

MORE ON CLIMATE CHANGE. Climate change is a fact, as we have noted before. However, we have also noted before, that climate change has taken place in the past, and that humans are not the sole cause. Much of the media hype about climate change has been based on reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The problem is that the general public has no way of checking the alarmist claims of that group. Some of the dire predictions of what climate change would bring seem to be unjustified. The problem has been that because of limited data or no access to unbiased information most people had no choice but to believe what they were told.

Some scientists have formed an organization called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. This group maintains that the reports of what climate change will bring are grossly exaggerated and based on bad data and shoddy science. They have released a book titled Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming.

This is not a biblical authority issue, but the design of the Earth and its capacity to withstand environmental challenges is important to all of us. We believe that God designed the Earth with us in mind and we have a duty to take care of it. If you are interested in further reading, you can find the book and other information on the website www.heartland.org.

Picture credit:
© vchal. Image from BigStockPhoto.com
© John Arehart. Image from BigStockPhoto.com
© alefbet. Image from BigStockPhoto.com