One of the attacks that skeptics make on design arguments for the existence of God is that, if God created everything, there should not be so much senseless pain and suffering on the earth. There are many points that contradict this challenge, and we have had many articles in this journal over the years that make intellectual arguments to explain why pain, disease, death, and tragedy are not incompatible with a loving and a merciful Creator. The other approach that we have made to this challenge is to take real-life people who have had tragic situations in their lives and tell their story , showing how they, through their faith and belief system, have been able to take a bad situation that has been forced upon them and make some positives come out of it and make their lives full and meaningful in spite of the bad thing that have happened to them. The first book we did on this subject was the story of our son Tim, a child born blind, mentally retarded, with cerebral palsy, and a form of muscular dystrophy. Several years ago we printed the story of Judy and David Hines titled A Whiner's Guide to Chemotherapy. Judy, Phyllis, and I have tried to make this a ministry to reach out and help people who are being challenged by cancer and/or by children born with multiple birth defects.
Several years ago, I got involved with Ralph Scott, who came to one of our programs in a wheelchair and has worked with us in outreaches in Alabama. Ralph contracted polio when he was 15 and started out in an iron lung. For over 50 years, Ralph has been confined to a wheelchair; but he has taken this huge disability and made good things come out of it and has lived a full and extraordinary life. Faith, athletics, incredible courage, and an iron will to continue have sustained Ralph. As I heard his story I felt this, too, was a ministry that is desperately needed. People who have a major disability suddenly forced upon them need to know that, with God's help, they can overcome it. Ralph is willing to be of help to people who are facing massive disability, even as he fights post-polio syndrome which is also discussed in the book. "I'd Offer You My Seat... But It's Taken." We feel this is a book that needs to be read by people who are facing challenges, but it will be an encouragement and help to any Christian.
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GUILT BY ASSOCIATION. The American Biology Teacher is a journal published by the largest science teacher's professional organization. The magazine offers biology teachers professional help, but in recent years has become more and more a defender of Neo-Darwinism. Much of this has taken place because of attempts by denominational creationists to get their views taught in the public schools. I am reminded, for example, of a curriculum declared briefly to be mandatory in Arkansas schools which taught that UFOs are the angels of Satan coming to begin the battle of Armageddon right after the Rapture. In February 2004, pages 85-87, The ABT has an article titled "The Dark Side of Creationism," which attempts to discredit those who raise questions about evolution by associating them with extremists. The inference is that creationism is associated with racism and the Klan, the oppression of women, and the abuse of children. The importance of staying on the subject for all of us should be obvious.
NEW CLONING ISSUE. In Newsweek, February 23, 2004, page 50, Dr. Woo Suk Hwang informed the world that his laboratory had accomplished "the successful derivation of human embryonic stem cells from cloned human blastocysts." To translate that for you in simple terms, Dr. Hwang's laboratory took eggs from human females, added the DNA of adult cells and was able to produce a embryo-like structure that produces stem cells that can be used in the treatment of disease. We would like to point out that this is not an abortion issue and does not produce the problems that many other types of cloning statements have. There is no pregnancy, no implantation, and no sexual connotations involved in this research. It is important when approaching ethical questions where biblical principles are involved, to know what is a breach of biblical principles and what is not a problem. We would suggest that this type of research, which may provide cures for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and organ transplant problems should not be inhibited. Like many issues, there are things that are real problems and there are things that are not.
THE Y CHROMOSOME. There has been a great deal of discussion about males since the human genome mapping, and new data is suggesting some interesting things. Human males have a Y and an X chromosome, while females have two X's. Classical evolutionary theory has suggested in the past that the Y was a degenerate form of the X chromosome, but new studies at MIT have shown that the Y is more carefully designed than that. One discovery is that there is a brain-specific protein on the Y chromosome which may have many functions in providing man to be able to do what he does. It also appears that fertility is related to properties of the Y chromosome. As more is learned about the design of the human genome, it is becoming more and more obvious how complex it is, and how unlikely it is that it is a product of chance. --Resource: Science and Spirit, November/December 2003, page 16-17.
GAY RIGHTS AND POLYGAMY RIGHTS. It would be redundant to point out that our culture is having a hard time defining what is to be accepted as marriage. The debate has been precipitated by gay rights militants, and President Bush has crystalized the problem by suggestions about a constitutional amendment defining marriage. The problem is much broader than most of us understand. If two people of the same sex can get married, then why could not three people get married? There are even groups now promoting polyamory which is group marriage. Stanley Kurtz who writes in The Weekly Standard has suggested that the ACLU is now getting involved in an attempt to bring polygamy and polyamory to the courts.
--Source: "Beyond Gay Marriage," The Weekly Standard, August 4-11, 2003, page 26-33. Also available in a tract titled "Is Marriage in Jeopardy?" from Focus on the Family, available online at www.citizenlink.org. or by writing them at Colorado Springs, 80995.
MARTIAN DATA SHOWS WATER. Those of us with an interest in astronomy have been enthralled by the success of recent work on the planet Mars. There seems to be very little doubt at this stage of the game that at one time there was a significant amount of water on Mars. Ripple marks, rocks that are only produced by water, chemical profiles that only water can produce seem to leave very little room for serious doubt about water being a part of the past of Mars. The present vehicles on Mars do not have the capacity to search for life or to see fossils unless they were surprisingly large and exposed. Studies on Earth have shown, however, that water is more important to the existence of life than temperature, pressure, minerals, or atmosphere. This is a significant discovery; and if life is eventually found on Mars, it will be most interesting and scientifically important. It will not be biblically or spiritually significant, however, because no where in the Bible is there an indication that Earth is the only place where God has seen fit to create life. Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past and make a statement of our opinion that eventually turns out to be impossible and attribute it to God.
MUTATION THAT LED TO MAN? The media is at it again with sensational headlines that are totally misleading. On March 25, 2004, there was a headline that said "Scientists say mutation separated man, ape." The claim is that a single gene in an ape's jaw changed and this led to the enlarged human brain and thus to man. What is actually going on is that this could provide a possible explanation of how the brain expanded in certain models of the evolution of man. One of the problems with this explanation is that you are doing damage to a muscle by the gene change, not automatically producing a change in the brain that leads to distinctly human characteristics. This is a theoretical wild shot in the dark, but more importantly it is not man's brain or any anatomical characteristics that separate man from other life forms; it is his spiritual makeup in God's image that is the issue.
FAITH AND HEALING. A great deal of attention has been given to the role of religious faith in healing. Studies have been done by religious groups to prove that faith produces faster recovery after surgery, and skeptics have responded with studies to show that they do not. Frankly, we see problems with all of the studies. The religious studies fail to look at prayers that were said over which they had no control. If a religious group prays for one person and not for another, does that mean that no one was praying for the second person? Is the purpose of the prayer study to show their prayers are better than someone else's? By the same token, skeptics seem to be totally focused on whether a miracle that is scientifically unexplainable took place and pay no attention to other ways in which God functions. I may be more at peace and less fearful as a patient who believes in God and God's promises. That peace and faith may allow me to respond more fully to instructions and to relax and reduce stress. One of the more objective studies that has come out on this recently is in Newsweek, November 10, 2003, pages 44-56. There is an especially good profile at the end of the article on Sir John Templeton.
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