News & Notes

PREVIOUS ARTICLE AVAILABILITY. We continue to get letters from people wishing to have older issues of this journal or wanting to find a particular issue for some purpose. We would like for all of our readers to know that there are bound volumes of the articles that have been in this publication going back to 1972. We have condensed the 1972-1983 issues into one volume by eliminating dated material and have volumes 4, 5, and 6 with articles from 1984-1992. Individual issues are available from 1992 on and a volume 7 will be forthcoming. These books of over 200 pages of reprinted articles are available for $4.00 each or $14.00 for all four volumes. We also have our Dandy Design articles in two separate volumes going from 1974-1992. These are available for $3.00 each or $5.00 for the two volumes together. Like all of our materials, these books can be borrowed with a deposit that will be refunded (minus postage) upon their return.

GAY BOOKS APPEAR IN SCHOOLS. As a public school teacher and science department chairman, I see all kinds of groups trying to get their agendas into the school system. The titles of a number of books being introduced to public school libraries do not really indicate their pro-gay message and, as a result, they frequently get adopted even though the schools may not be wishing to endorse a cause of this type. Some recent examples are Uncle What-Is-It Is Coming To Visit and Families by Michael Willhoite, The Day They Put a Tax On Rainbows, The Daddy Machine, and The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans and Other Stories all by Johnny Valentine, A Boy's Best Friend by Joan Alden, Belinda's Bouquet by Leslean Newman, and The Generous Jefferson Bartleby Jones by Forman Brown.

RELIGION AND HAPPINESS. We have maintained for over 25 years that people who have a strong faith in God end up living more successfully than those who do not. We get a lot of arguments on this point from people who have had bad experiences with religious zealots who made their lives miserable in one way or another. Two articles in the past several months support our view on this issue.

The first is a detailed study reported in Scientific American, May, 1996, pages 70-72. The study is fascinating and has many aspects to it that we will not try to report here. In a nutshell, the study shows that income and satisfaction have almost no correlation --the wealthiest among us are not the most satisfied or happiest among us. Married people are significantly happier than unmarried people, and "highly religious people were twice as likely as those lowest in spiritual commitment to declare themselves very happy."

In USA Today, February 15, 1996, is a report that those who attend church at least monthly have almost half as many divorces as those who attend less than once a year. The same study shows that mental health problems are almost twice as frequent in infrequent church-goers as in frequent church-goers. I would suspect that, if one could look at the rates between those who have a strong personal relationship with Jesus Christ and those who are in a social club type of church program, another significant difference would be observed.

JESUS SEMINAR FALL-OUT. We have made several negative comments in this journal about the group of scholars who call themselves the "Jesus Seminar" and who have claimed to have participated in a search to decide what is true in the Bible and what is obviously not true in their view. A variety of other authors have made even stronger condemnations of the "Jesus Seminar" and the lack of scholarship of its authors than did we. Luke Timothy Johnson has written a new book titled The Real Jesus: The Mistaken Quest For The Historical Jesus And The Truth Of The Traditional Gospels published by Harper. We have not seen the book, but Johnson says he wrote it "out of a genuine sense of outrage over the preposterous claims being made by the Jesus Seminar...." He also points out that none of the current "Jesus Seminar" scholars teaches at any of the major centers of New Testament Scholarship in the U.S. and that very few have "any sort of prestigious credentials as scholars."

This is just one more attempt by those who do not want to believe that the Christian system is valid to discredit it, and it will fall by the wayside as have all other attempts like it over the centuries.

WE ARE ALONE? ANOTHER YES VOTE. One of the arguments that we have made in this journal and in our public lectures is that there are so many things that have to be right for life to exist, it is impossible to believe it could happen by chance. When we make that presentation someone says "well then, you don't believe that there is any other life anywhere in the cosmos!" Our answer to that is that if God created it, life could be present and we would not rule out God having created life elsewhere. What we are saying is that it does not happen by chance.

Atheists have traditionally tried to maintain that life and a place for it to thrive have come about by chance and that it comes about all the time. This leads to the conclusion that there must be thousands of inhabited planets all over our Milky Way galaxy. As a result of that belief, enormous amounts of money and time have been spent to try to find evidence of life in space and places where life could survive. An excellent article by Robert Naeye titled "O.K., Where Are They?" is in the July issue of Astronomy, pages 36-43. Naeye points out many of the things that we have been saying and explains why the chances of the conditions being met is so unlikely. We expect a negative reaction to Naeye's article from everyone from UFO buffs to atheists, but the facts are there.

LIGHTNING--DESTROYER OR BUILDER? Anyone who has been near the strike of a lightning bolt during an electrical storm knows the terror that such a storm can bring. Every year there are people killed by lightning, fires started by lightning, and damage to man's technology that costs lots of money to replace. Why do we have to have lightning? Is it a weakness or defect in the earth's design or is it important?

In order for planets to make protein, they need nitrogen. The problem is that plants cannot take nitrogen from the air and use it to make proteins because nitrogen is not active chemically. Nitrogen has to be worked on by large amounts of energy to turn it into nitrates and other compounds that plants can use. The process of turning atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can use is called fixing, and nitrogen has always been believed by biologists to be fixed primarily by soil bacteria.

Recent studies by Dr. Pud Franzblau have shown that lightning does more fixing of nitrogen than does bacteria, and his calculations show over a billion tons of nitrogen-fixed compounds a year are produced by lightning. Without the lightning, plants would not be able to grow and all life would die because plants are the base of the food chain of all living things. The high energy of lightning makes this possible, and man simply must use his head when lightning is in the area and allow the natural process to take place. It is not as though we have no warning when lightning is in our area.

SAND STILL TOPS STARS IN NUMBER. You may have seen the articles explaining that the Hubble Telescope has found more galaxies which means a lot more stars than were previously believed to exist. I recently had an atheist challenge the Bible's claims that grains of sand are for all practical purposes limitless in statements made in the promise given to Abraham and elsewhere. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium in New York says that the number of stars in the sky is now up to 10 with 21 zeroes written after it. A two-mile stretch of beach will have about that number of grains of sand so the comparison is still valid.

MAN INFLUENCES EARTH'S SPIN. People seem to take a lot of pleasure in arguing about the length of days both now and in the past. Geophysicists have now determined that the earth's rate of spin has speeded up during the last 40 years. A day is now 0.2 millionths of a second longer than it was in 1956. The suggested cause of this increase of spin is the building of large reservoirs which has trapped about 10 billion metric tons of water which shifts the center of mass of the earth closer to its axis and accelerates the earth something like a skater pulling in their arms and spinning on the toe of the skate. Time changes for lots of reasons which is one more reason why it is best to understand God as being outside of time.

NEW HOAX STILL MAKING THE ROUNDS. We frequently find our Does God Exist? work having to be a debunking exercise because of the number of wild claims and meaningless charges that people make in the name of religion. Over the years, we have had people hitting hell in Siberia, Noah's Ark being found on modern Mt. Ararat, human footprints with dinosaur tracks, and days missing from the NASA space probes. Now a report is circulating that Attorney General Janet Reno declared Bible-believing Christians to be cults on 60 minutes. This claim was made over a year ago and seems to be expanding and growing. Reno has never been on 60 minutes, and the claim is totally false. Just as Madalyn O'Hair never had a suit to take all religious programming off TV and radio, Reno never appeared on 60 minutes or made a statement like the one attributed to her. We do not support any political party or organization in this periodical, but it does seem that some very irresponsible reporting is being done in an attempt to indict politicians from both political parties in the United States. Be sure to check out any claim about anyone because most of the time we find that the claims being made are not correct.

--Pulpit Helps, July, 1995, page 22

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