News and Notes title
from Does God Exist? July/August 2011

Our Canyonlands Tour for 2011 has been CANCELLED  — We have had a smaller than usual response to the tour, and so we have cancelled the tour for this year. Rising gas prices and the recession have apparently taken a toll on people’s willingness to commit to something like this in advance. We do not have any margin which will allow us to absorb a loss on the tour. We will try again next year.

JOHN CLAYTON had a speaking engagement on the Queen Mary in Longa Beach on June 18, 2011. The following Wednesday, John had extreme abdominal pain and eventually was admitted to a hospital in Riverside, California. His diagnosis of acute pancreatitis resulted with his gallbladder being removed on Sunday, June 26. As a result we had to postpone the lectureship for that weekend in Little Rock, Arkansas. Thank you for the prayers you have offered on John’s behalf. God has blessed him with a full recovery.

NOTE: After we published and mailed the May/June 2011 issue of the Does God Exist? bulletin we were informed that we fell for some e-mail/social-network scams. After being informed we looked on snopes.com and found out this kind of thing has been passed on (forwarded) quite a bit. Snopes.com has two articles under the titles of “fivedays” and “2011.” One of our readers wrote to us the following:
A quick bit of research would have shown you that the 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, 5 Sundays thing happens a LOT more often than every 823 years. The calendar only has 14 variations. There are seven days that the year can start on and when you factor in leap year you have 14 variations.

We just had this same pattern — of 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays & 5 Sundays last October. The e-mail about this subject seems to go around every time it happens. Any time a 31-day month begins on a Friday it will happen. I was surprised to see this bit of misinformation in your magazine.
Thank you for your input on keeping us straight. We see these kinds of e-mails/social-network entries many times and any one of us can fall for this deception. Actually having five weeks with three consecutive days within a month can happen on any day of the week and several times a year. We need to be vigilant about what we read on the Internet, just as with printed books, because there can be deception put off as fact.
— Our apologies!

NYC ATHEISTS IRKED BY STREET NAME. An atheist group in New York City is demanding that the city change the name of a street honoring seven firefighters who were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The name of the street is “Seven in Heaven Way. The atheists say that the sign violates the separation of church and state. They object to the use of the word “heaven.” Ken Bornstein, president of the New York City Atheists said, “There should be no signage or displays of religious nature in the public domain, … It’s really insulting to us. … We’ve concluded as atheists there is no heaven and there’s no hell.” David Silverman, president of American Atheists, was in agreement with the NYC atheists and called on the city to remove the sign saying, “It implies that heaven actually exists.” Source: FoxNews.com, June 11, 2011.

PORNOGRAPHY HITS MTV. Decency on television has hit an all-time low with the series called “Skins” being shown on MTV. The show has been called “the most dangerous television show for children that we have ever seen” by the Parents Television Council. The show includes teenagers in Baltimore downing shots of vodka, using massive amounts of marijuana and pills, masturbating, and jumping in and out of bed with each other. The show drew 3.3 million viewers in its first episode with 1.2 million being under 18 years of age. No consequences of all of this irresponsible behavior are shown, and very little plot is involved. The Washington Post says “this is the kind of show for which ‘off’ buttons are made.” Parents need to be aware of how bad this show is, but with Playboy and Penthouse now available to kids on the Internet, the off button will not do it for most young people. Some frank and honest teaching is going to be needed at church and at home. Source: The Week, February 4, 2011, page 21.

DIVORCE PERCENTAGES DOWN. Reader’s Digest (February 2011, page 81) reports that the divorce rate has fallen by 13 percent since the year 2000 in the United States. Before anyone gets too excited about this figure, you have to realize that the number of couples cohabiting is way up, which accounts for at least a part of the lower divorce rate.

ASTROLOGY FLAP NOT NEW NEWS. There has been a great deal of press about the fact that the astrological signs are all off by about a month. There have even been some advocates of the myth that the earth is going to end in 2012 using this data to support their ideas. The signs of the zodiac were conceived about 5,000 years ago. The earth is like a big top, wobbling and precessing as it moves through space. (For an explanation of wobbling and precession watch http://www.grandpajohn.tv/video/Grandpa-John-Explores-Circular) Because of this the positions of the stars are all about 30 degrees off today from where they were 5,000 years ago. This means that all the astrological signs are off by about one place. My birthday is on February 22 and is placed in Pisces by astrologers. In reality the Sun is in Aquarius, not Pisces on that date. So the stars are not where they are supposed to be according to the original astrology map of the zodiac, but it does not matter because astrology has no scientific validity anyway.

CHRISTIAN  SCIENTIST LOSES JOB BECAUSE OF FAITH. Martin Gaskell came to the University of Kentucky in 2007 with impeccable credentials. He was denied a top job because he has said that God and science are not wholly exclusive and has said he is “a devout Christian who uses the tools of science to study the universe.” Even though he was applying for a job at a planetarium, scientists in the biology department were consulted to bring the question of evolution into the hiring process. Gaskell filed a civil suit against the university and it was settled for $125,000. Atheists who were a part of the case made reference to the Creation Museum that Ken Ham has opened in Kentucky even though Gaskell opposes what the museum teaches. It would seem that people wanting jobs in science cannot openly declare that they believe in God and still hope to be considered for employment, no matter how qualified they may be academically. Source: Associated Press reported in the The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction, Colorado), February 12, 2011, page 6A.

EARTHQUAKES  AND WARNINGS. The tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan have raised a common complaint against God in the media and in the minds of many people. The bottom line is why do earthquakes happen and why are we not given a way of knowing they are coming? Answering these questions does not reduce our compassion and sympathy for the thousands of people that have suffered from the recent 9.0 earthquake. Still, there are some fairly easy explanations. Earthquakes are a natural phenomenon that happen because the earth shifts from time to time. That shift is necessary to lift up land masses and provide resources for man. If there was no ground shifting, erosion would eventually take all land below sea level. A dynamic, changing earth is necessary for life. There are adequate warnings designed into the natural system, but greed, ignorance, and selfishness on the part of some prevent us from using that information well. We know those zones of the earth that are unstable. Everyone knows that an earthquake like the one in Japan is going to hit the Los Angeles area. Is any preparation being made for this? The answer is “very little” and certainly not enough for a 9.0 earthquake. There are better places to build a huge city like Los Angeles. We do have warnings to stop the loss of life. Earthquakes send out two waves — a P-wave and a S-wave. We can sense the faster P-wave and have enough time to get people out of vulnerable places. Tsunamis always give warning by the water rushing out before the wave arrives. Loss of life is tragic, but God has given us tools to avoid tragic loss and building nuclear power plants in vulnerable areas is inexcusable. For more on this see Scientific American, April 2011, page 74.

ANOTHER “JUDGMENT DAY” FIASCO. In December 2010 billboards appeared in Nashville, Louisville, St. Louis, Detroit, Little Rock, Omaha, Kansas City, Bridgeport (CT), and Fort Wayne (IN) proclaiming the end of the world was coming on May 21, 2011. These were paid for by Family Radio, Inc. and were directed by Harold Camping, one of the champions of dispensational millennialism. Camping’s calculations for the date of the “Rapture” were based on the assumption that the Flood of Noah happened on May 21, 4990 B.C. Camping predicted in 1994 that the rapture would happen on September 15, 1994. Family Radio, Inc. has also been a heavy supporter of dispensational millennialism and the Creation Museum in Kentucky, all of which subscribe to the popular “left behind” belief system so rampant in protestant churches today. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 25:13 that no one would ever know when the second coming was going to happen, but in John 21:20 – 23 even Jesus had problems with people misrepresenting His words to try to fix a date. We would suggest that all of this provides fodder for atheist attacks on the credibility of Christianity and the Bible. Let us remind you that we have a booklet which deals with this subject on an apologetic level titled God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word. It is available to read on our doesgodexist.org website or by sending $2.00 to us to cover postage and handling.

HUMAN DNA LESS THAN CHIMPS. It is widely advertised that humans and chimpanzees have 96 percent of their DNA being the same. The question then becomes, “Why are we so different?” If our DNA is 96 percent the same, why do not humans and chimps do 96 percent of the same things? Stanford University geneticists have been making the comparison between human and chimp DNA to see what we have that they do not. To their surprise they discovered it is not what we have that they do not but what they have that we do not. In the Stanford study more than 500 DNA sequences are “surprisingly missing” in humans. The geneticists are suggesting that our larger brain size may be because a gene that controls the size of the brain was “turned off” so the brain could grow uncontrolled. What is interesting to this reader is that when words like “turned off” and “controlled” are used, the language itself suggests that intelligent choices were made in constructing the final product. The Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:7 to describe the construction of man’s body is yatsar which according to Young’s Analytical Concordance refers to “fashion, form, constitute.” How God formed man is not explained to us, in part because of the complexity of the process. Here we are in 2011 beginning to understand the tools that allowed man to be able to do the spiritual things that were God’s primary purpose in creating humans. We truly are as the psalmist says “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Sources: The Week, April 1, 2011, page 21 and sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110309131934.htm.

FLEA DNA. On a related note — it takes 23,000 genes to hold all the information needed to make a human, so how many does it take to make a water flea known as Daphnia pulex? The answer is nearly 31,000, which is the highest number found in any organism to date. About a third of the water flea’s genes are new to science and yet many of its genes are the same as humans. Source: The Week, February 25, 2011, page 26.

END TIMES AND DISASTERS. The past 18 months have been a rough time for many people on this planet. We have had earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and Japan including tsunamis and the 2011 tornado season in the U.S. was one of the most violent we have seen in quite a while. It seems like many groups have a vested interest in using this data to support their belief system. Those who feel global warming is about to do us all in are blaming all of this on the increasing temperatures of the oceans. People who feel that the Rapture and Tribulation are near suggest that this is all supporting that denominational teaching. While we have seen an increase in some of these events, none of them is unexpected or unexplained. Some areas of concern are at an all time low. Sunspot activity, for example, has been exceptionally low. Usually we get about 300 days when the sun has no sunspots, and in the last eleven-year cycle we went 780 days with no sunspots. The past four maximums of sunspot activity have been lower than the last major peak which was in 1960. These cycles, like earthquakes and tsunamis, are normal cyclic patterns and no one should read significance into them. Source: Science News, March 26,2011, page 6.

UFOs BECOME UAPs. In the 40 years this periodical has been in existence, we have had numerous articles on UFOs and related issues like alien abductions and creations. Our basic theme has been that all UFO claims can be explained without invoking aliens, spirit people, or witches. We have talked about weather balloons, flares, sky lanterns, military planes in formation, secret military aircraft, birds, blimps, aircraft reflecting sunlight from their windshields, meteors, meteorites, space junk, satellites, sun dogs, ball lightning, clouds and ice formations, insect swarms, fakes, jokes, mental illness, and book-selling scams. When you go through all of these possibilities, over 95 percent of all UFO sightings and claims can be explained. Now a new wave of claims under the title of “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (UAP) is putting out more books. God is in control, and we are not going to be taken over by demons, aliens, or rock people. God’s word is our guide to life, not the instruction of some extraterrestrial trying to tell us how to live. Such a view is not supported by the evidence — or common sense. Michael Shermer, writing in Scientific American (April 2011, page 90), refers to this not as UFOs or UAPs but as CRAP, an acronym for Completely Ridiculous Alien Piffle. In this category he includes crop circles, cattle mutilations, alien abductions, and human-alien hybrids. We would concur with him on this subject.

EXTRA-SOLAR  PLANET CLAIMS ACCELERATE. It seems that when the media needs to fill up space in their newspapers they print an article about life on other planets. Much of this is coming from the fact that as of the end of February 2011, astronomers have identified 1,235 planets orbiting stars other than our sun in the galaxy in which we live. Recent articles in the newspaper have claimed that there are 50 billion planets in the Milky Way and that 500 million of them have conditions where life could exist. These huge numbers are guessed at by assuming the fraction of space that we have examined and extrapolating that to the whole galaxy. The problem with this method is that the only criteria being used is whether the planet has a “Goldilocks zone” (Habitable Zone). This is an area around the star where water could exist as a liquid. It seems that 54 of those 1,235 planets have a section where water could exist as a liquid. Dividing 54 by 1235 and multiplying that by 100 billion stars in our galaxy gives the basis of the estimate. This estimate ignores galactic effects, chemical effects, orbital effects, size and spin rate effects, and many other factors needed for a habitable planet. We want to say again that life may exist in outer space. This is not a biblical or apologetic issue. However, as Jeffrey Kluger, a senior writer at Time magazine, points out; the chances of life elsewhere are overblown. Read his article entitled “Relax: You Don’t Need to Worry About Meeting E.T.” in Time, March 28, 2011, page 52.
 

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