for March/April 2009

Magic and God. If you are like me, you are constantly amazed at what magicians can do. In Scientific American (December 2008, page 72) is a discussion of how the design of the human brain allows magic to take place. It is a pretty technical discussion, but the basic methods are explained well and most of our readers would find the article worth reading.

Salmon Navigation. In the same issue on page 122 is a discussion of how salmon are able to locate their birth stream. There is a great deal of interesting new information, but the author points out that science is struggling with the ability salmon have to return to the shoreline near their birth stream. It is difficult to read the incredible complexity of this system and believe that chance is the vehicle that designed and implemented it.

Teen Pregnancies in Great Britain. Those in the United States who oppose abstinence programs in combating teenage pregnancy will frequently point to European countries that have extensive birth control education programs in the public schools as models that the U.S. should follow. The newest data in Great Britain however shows that pregnancies are rising and sexually transmitted diseases are also climbing rapidly. Over 1,000 girls younger than 14 had abortions in Great Britain last year and the government plans to vaccinate over 300,000 girls between 17 and 18 against the human papilloma virus. Just providing information about birth control is not proving to be a valid method for reducing the consequences of promiscuity. Along the same line United Nations data from Zimbabwe shows that abstinence education is working with the HIV infection rate dropping from 26 percent in 2002 to 18 percent in 2006. Deaths there have declined by 200,000 and new infections in 2007 dropped by 300,000. The media would have us believe that abstinence education does not work, but the numbers contradict that belief. Sources: The Daily Telegraph, June 2008;; and

Amish Population Doubles in 16 Years. In spite of the fact that they are not evangelistic, the Amish population in the United States grew from 123,000 in 1992 to 227,000 in October, 2008 according to the Associated Press. Four out of five children stay within the church and with high birth rates the Amish population is growing. The idea that modern luxury will eventually eliminate religions that emphasize hard work and moral values is not borne out by the evidence.

Atheists Run Ads on Buses. We have commented in previous issues of this journal that atheist advertising and promotion of their views had increased dramatically. In December bus ads began to appear in London and in Washington, DC. One of them says "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." In Washington one ad says "Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness sake." Richard Dawkins donated $9,000 to get the program started in London, but $113,000 in donations have come in to extend the ad campaign. The American Humanist Association has spent $40,000 in the Washington ads. Some believers in God in London have donated to the ads saying that they are so bad that "they will probably attract people to religion." Our concern is that increasingly atheism is favored by governments and opposing views are suppressed. Trying to get a Christian ad on a London bus several years ago when we were working in London was impossible. Source: Associated Press release--October 23, 2008 and November 11, 2008.

Dating Problems. The age of the earth is not a biblical issue, but many times dating methods are inadequately presented with their assumptions buried and not made clear to the average reader. For many years we have pointed out that some experiments show half-lives to change with high electrical voltages being applied to the sample. Now evidence is becoming available (Science News, November 22, 2008, page 21) which shows that neutrino bombardment from solar flares can also alter half-lives. Dating methods of all kinds make assumptions, and nothing is gained by failing to show what those assumptions are. In the same issue (page 5) is an article about doubts concerning the dates of the oldest forms of life seen in the fossil record.

Sufi Muslims. We have made reference to the Sufi branch of the Islamic faith in our materials from time to time. The Sufis are a branch of Islam that interprets war statements by Mohammed as spiritual statements. They are peaceful and emphasize poetry and cooperation and many Muslims in the United States belong to this branch of Islam. In the Smithsonian magazine (December 2008) is a detailed article on the Sufi beliefs, and it is important reading for all Americans.

Oregon Will Pay for Suicide, But Not Chemotherapy. A man who has prostate cancer and does not have insurance applied to the state of Oregon Health Plan, to get financial help with the procedure. He received a letter saying the state would not help him with medication that would extend his life, but that the state would cover the cost of assisted suicide. The euthanasia issue is rapidly becoming a forced option by the state, and with a low premium on human life we can expect more emphasis on doctors ending lives than extending them. Source:

King Solomon's Mines. Atheists continue to attempt to convince the media that the Bible has no factual or historical validity. New archeological discoveries make that position hard to maintain. One of the most significant recent finds is a settlement in southern Jordan that shows clearly a copper producing society existed there 3,000 years ago. The site is called Khirbat en-Nahas which means "ruins of copper" in Arabic. This is an area the Bible refers to as Edom, whose people opposed Moses during the Exodus. There will be debate about the site, but it certainly has re-opened the question of how accurate the Bible's history is. Source: Science News. November 22, 2008, page 10.

Ocean Monster--Again. Over the years there have been repeated reports about monsters being seen by fishing ships or sailors on remote beaches. These sightings are used to promote the idea that dinosaurs are still alive on the earth today or to support a variety of dragon stories or to support the local story of a beast that is claimed to live in the area called Quqrat. We now have a picture that was taken in July of a huge pink carcass that is about six feet long, has hair on its under side, has a three-foot tail ending in a diamond shape. Unfortunately no one got flesh samples, but oceanographers suggest it is a mangled carcass of a beluga whale. Source: Alaska Magazine, December/January 2008-9, page 11.

Dinosaur Soft Tissue Question. Three years ago there was a lot of hype about a T. rex sample that contained collagen. Studies now suggest that what scientists are seeing is not dinosaur material but a modern day film of bacterial slime. There have been a lot of articles in all kinds of journals about the collagen claims, and until the question of contamination is resolved debate will continue. Be careful about claims made about this find. Source: Science News, August 30, 2008, page 12.

Research On Animals Debate Grows. If you do not view man as a special creation of God, created in the image of God, then a human is no more valuable than any other animal. Many animal rights groups base their belief that animals should not be used in any way by man on the assumption that a human is just an animal like every other animal and nothing more. Switzerland's highest court has been asked to decide whether research on monkeys can be carried out. Researchers at the Swiss Institute of Neuroinformatics in Zurich wish to insert electrodes to research strokes, Parkinson's, and other human diseases. They have been denied permission at the moment to do this research on the basis that the monkey's rights will be violated if they do. We will keep you posted on this one. Source: Scientific American, September 2008, page 20.

Book of the Month--News & Notes. We will not review this book because it is not primarily an apologetic work, but we do wish to mention it to readers who have an interest in the article we ran in the November/December 2008 issue titled "Destructive Dispensationalism." We have come across a book by Steve Wohlberg titled End Time Delusions which goes into the subject matter of that article in greater detail and does a good job with it. For those interested, it is published by Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., PO Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310. The ISBN number is 0-7684-2960-9.

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