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ALIEN LIFE AND NASA. The tabloids and some mainstream media have been extolling an announcement by the space agency that “Alien Life Forms Have Been Discovered.” As usual, the glitzy headline belies what is actually going on and what it means. A study at Mono Lake in California has found a bacterium that can grow in arsenic-rich environments if phosphorous is present. Robert Sawyer who was on the team that studied the bacterium says “We have found a different life form that uses arsenic in its basic DNA structure.” Arsenic is element number 33 in the periodic chart which is in group V along with nitrogen, phosphorous, and antimony. These elements are very active chemically and bond strongly with nearly every element in the periodic chart. Arsenic trioxide is quickly formed when arsenic is heated in air for example. The fact that living things can use these group V materials in the DNA helix is remarkable, but it is not a new alien life form. No one expects to run into arsenic people on some phosphorous planet. It is a remarkable thing that DNA is so well designed that it can function with a wide variety of chemical environments — arsenic and phosphorous complexes mimicking nitrogen phosphorous structures apparently being one. We will have more for you as more data becomes available.

MORE ATHEIST BILLBOARDS IN HOLIDAY SEASON. A billboard near the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey over the holiday season, had a manger scene with the block letters “You know it’s a myth — This Season Celebrate Reason.”

The billboard cost $20,000 and was paid for by American Atheists. The billboard company (Lamar Billboards) is the same organization that posted the “You can be good without God” signs last year. However, they refused to put up billboards of a political nature during the last election because “we think it is misleading … .” There were four competing atheist groups that ran ads over the holidays according to The New York Times, this being the first one displayed.

Another atheist coup was an ABC World News program on November 9, 2010, with Diane Sawyer in which she interviewed Baptist pastors who no longer believed in God. The interview revolved mostly around discrepancies these pastors found in the Bible, all of which were things we have discussed in this journal and are relatively easy to answer. No attention was paid in the interview to the positive things taught in the Bible or the answers to these alleged discrepancies. Young people hit these issues every day, and the failure of churches to address these struggles continues to be an eroding force on faith among our youth.

“CHRISTIAN” CITIES. Barna Research studies show that 98 percent of the residents of Shreveport, Louisiana, describe themselves as “Christian” making it the most Christian city in the country. Portland Maine, is the most atheistic with 19 percent describing themselves as atheist or agnostic. The least Christian city in the U.S. was San Francisco with 68 percent describing themselves as Christian. These numbers do not mean a lot because the meaning of the word “Christian” is very ambiguous. I have a number of atheist friends who call themselves Christian because of what they are not — not Muslim, not Hindu, etc. Source: Christianity Today, December 2010, page 13.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ON DAVID AND SOLOMON. The December 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine (page 67) contains an interesting analysis of the archeological evidence for the biblical account of David and Solomon. The author, Robert Draper, interviewed the major archeologists studying the ruins throughout the Middle East, and asked for their assessment of what the evidence shows. In our May/June 2010 issue (page 15) we had an article by Dr. Lydia Evdoxiadi Verniory on the archeological claims about the historicity of the Bible, and this National Geographic article shows how true Dr. Verniory’s statements are. This article shows how far apart the experts are, and sheds some interesting light on the conditions that existed during the time of the biblical characters we read about in the Bible. Those with an interest in archeology and the Bible will find this National Geographic article to be interesting reading.

BIAS REVEALED IN RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE STUDY. In September 2010 a study was released showing that atheists/agnostics know more about religion than believers do. We had a comment about that study in our January/February 2011 “News and Notes.” As researchers have looked at the study conducted by “The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life,” they have found the numbers are misleading. The study gave 3,412 people a series of 32 basic questions about religion. Atheists/agnostics got an average of 20.9 right while the average of religious groups was 16 with some as low as 11. We now know that the atheist/agnostic group was very small, only 212 people, and the sample was drawn from well-educated groups with many of them involved in organized atheism. If someone were to ask me to get 212 people who believe in God to take the test I can guarantee an average of 25 by choosing people in apologetics and who have strong educational backgrounds. When the Pew Forum “did a more stringent analysis, correcting for respondents’ education and income … there was no significant difference between believers and nonbelievers.” It is the same old story that “figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” Source: Scientific American, December 2010, page 31.

FRAUD AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH. Time magazine reported in their November 29, 2010 issue (page 17) that 788 English language science papers have been retracted since the year 2000, and 30 percent of those — some 236 papers —were retracted because of fraud. The rest were retracted because of errors. Our society seems to feel that scientific research is beyond corruption or error, but anything done by humans will have error and fraud involved in it, and learning not to trust the fallible work of humans is an important survival skill in all areas of life.

THE SCIENCE OF MARIJUANA. Even though marijuana is illegal by federal law, 13 states have established programs for its use, and 369,634 people are users. Previous surveys have shown that 16.7 million people use marijuana at least once a month in this country. Because it has been shown to relieve nausea and pain, the medicinal use of this drug has accelerated its acceptance. The facts are that there are two agents in marijuana that affect humans. One is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the other is cannabidinol (CBD). THC leads to the intoxicating component of pot and CBD gives the drug its sedating power. THC produces paranoia and hallucinations and diminishes short term memory. Acetaldehyde is present in marijuana just as it is in tobacco and causes damage to the DNA and can initiate cancer. Marijuana is addictive, but withdrawal does not cause severe withdrawal symptoms. The question is whether the benefits of THC and CBD can be obtained without smoking a joint, and whether legalization will solve the problems of drug trafficking. We would suggest that just like alcohol, marijuana should not be condoned as a recreational drug, and its beneficial uses should be researched more fully before legalization is implemented. Source: Time, November 22, 2010, page 30.

CATHOLIC CHURCH CALLS FOR MORE EXORCISMS. On January 29, 1999, the Vatican released a book titled Of Exorcisms and Supplications and in November 2010, a conference was held in Baltimore in which some 50 bishops and 60 priests were trained in how to conduct the liturgical rite. This was done because of “a shortage of priests who can perform the rite.” Signs of demonic possession according to the Catholic Church, are “a violent reaction to holy water or anything holy, speaking in a language the possessed person doesn’t know and abnormal displays of strength.” We would suggest that this is a misunderstanding of demonology and possession, and that in fact demon possession of the kind described in the Bible does not happen today. If you are interested in why we think that, you can go to our video website at and watch program number 23.

NEW OCEAN NUMBERS. The Census of Marine Life reports in their October 2010 summary of their study that there are roughly 250,000 species of living things in the ocean. They also state that the number of species yet undiscovered is estimated to be over a million and could be in the hundreds of millions. This includes microbes, and to give you a handle on size, a cubic centimeter of sea water will usually have roughly a million bacterial cells in it. If you added up their total weight it would be more than 240 billion African elephants.

USE OF ALLAH BY CHRISTIANS DECRIED. In January 2010 there was an Associated Press article by Vijay Joshi in the news about violence in Malaysia. Muslims firebombed three churches because of a court decision allowing Christians to translate “God” as “Allah.” The Muslims contend that “Allah is only for us,” and the trouble started when Malay language Bibles translated “God” as “Allah.” This is interesting because Mizrahi Jews, Bahá'ís, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Eastern Catholic Christians also use this Arabic word for God. The term “Allah” is derived from a contraction of the Arabic definite article al- (the) and 'il a h (deity, god) to al-lah meaning “the (sole) deity, God”. The word “Allah” was used by pagan Meccans as a reference to the creator deity in pre-Islamic Arabia. Allah was one of many gods who was said to be the creator and the giver of rain. He was said to be have had sons and daughters. The Hebrew words Elohim, Yahweh, and Adonai refer to functions of God and are biblical. Elohim refers to the power and creativity of God. Yahweh refers to God’s holiness and the promises of redemption. Adonai refers to the ruler aspect of God. In our modern world, there are cultural and political reasons not to use “Allah” in referring to the God of the Bible, and the history of the word also makes it unwise.

ABSTINENCE SEX EDUCATION. There has been a lot of information in the media trying to prove that abstinence education does not work when it comes to teenagers and sex. A study by the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine shows that abstinence education programs proved more effective in encouraging teens to delay having sex than comprehensive school programs that include information about safe sex and contraceptive options. Source: Time, February 15, 2010.

DATA ON SUN. The Sun’s mass is two octillion tons — that is 27 zeros after the two. The earth’s mass is six octillion grams (remember there are 453.6 grams in a pound, and 2,000 pounds in a ton). Every second the Sun loses four million tons of mass as it is converted to energy and radiated into space. Source: Astronomy, October, 2009, page 16.

HOMOSEXUALITY IS A DESTRUCTIVE LIFESTYLE. The issue of homosexuality will always be with us. We have tried to state the problems with homosexuality in this journal saying it is a choice and that humans are not robotically programmed to any behavior. We have also pointed out that homophobic behavior is strongly condemned by scriptures and that we are to love and support everyone, including those whose lifestyles we do not embrace. A collection of facts on homosexual behavior is available from Here are some of the facts:
  1. At any given time less than a third of gays and roughly half of lesbians are living with a lover because the relationships are so short.
  2. In married heterosexual couples the violence rate during a one year period is 2 percent in males and 3.2 percent in females. Studies have shown that in homosexuals the rate of violence runs as high as 39 percent in gays and 48 percent in lesbians.
  3. Life expectancy in gays is significantly lower than in the heterosexual community. The AIDS picture is changing with advances in medicine, so numbers here are misleading as far as death is concerned, but 82 percent of those who are HIV positive in the U.S. contracted the virus in a homosexual relationship.
    There is no question about whether the Bible discourages homosexual relationships. We have pointed out in previous columns that sexual abuse and the disposal of hormonal waste is a factor in people being gay. In our opinion homosexuality is a destructive lifestyle produced by the abuse that people have sustained in their childhoods and possibly environmental contamination with hormonal wastes. Those who have had this tendency pushed upon them need our love, compassion, and support as they battle to make good choices.

LOOKING BACK BOOK. In our last issue we announced the latest book by John Clayton entitled Looking Back. It is a history of how God used John and Phyllis Clayton from the start of their work in 1968 when they desired to help young people with faith problems. It follows their story until May 2008 when Phyllis finished her journey in this life. The book can be ordered online at, by calling 574-514-1400, or by mailing a check for $3.00 to John Clayton at 1555 Echo Valley Dr., Niles MI 49120.


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