Announcing a New Book
John Clayton, the director of the Does God Exist? work, was a public school science teacher at James Whitcomb Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana, from 1959 to 2000 (with a short tenure at Jackson High School in the middle of his career.) During that 41-year period, John had a lot of experiences (as does anyone in any lifetime career). This is a book telling of those experiences and showing the problems and needs of public education and how a Christian can function within that environment. The book is not apologetic in nature, but rather deals with the problems of young people and how the schools can do a better job of meeting those needs. We also feel it will be useful to people considering the future of public education and how they will function within it. It is available from us for $3.50 ppd. or, like any of our materials, can be borrowed.
Artificial uterus units. Dr. Arthur Caplan, the chair of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, is predicting that an artificial uterus will be available to grow an embryo to a full-term baby in the near future. This will mean that anyone can have a baby as long as they can secure a viable egg. The moral issues involved are huge as genetic screening will also be easy to do in such an arrangement. Caplan suggests the major issues will be "who's fit to have a child," because abortion will not be an issue since any embryo can be taken and put into the artificial uterus and made available to people who want babies but cannot conceive. Technology frequently can offer help to some situations, but it offers no assistance to the moral and ethical dilemmas that it presents. We would suggest that only the principles that God has given us can do that. We are reminded of Einstein's old statement "Religion without science is lame, but science without religion is blind" (Reference: Science and Spirit, January/February 2003, page 13). In a related issue, there is now a price for human eggs that can be used for artificial insemination. The Stanford Daily, a newspaper, has been running an ad by a human-egg broker that offers $50,000 for the right eggs. To do this, donors have to inject themselves with hormones daily and later have several dozen ripened eggs that are then withdrawn with needles inserted through the vaginal wall. The use of egg donors is increasing at nearly 20% annually as more women who have delayed childbirth need viable eggs to be pregnant.
--Reference: US News and World Report, January 13, 2003, page 44.
Television ads. A survey by the Center for Science in the Public Interest has shown that eight- to twelve-year olds can list more kinds of beers than they can list U.S. presidents. The report in National Geographic, February 2003, page 1, says that more than a billion dollars per year is spent in advertising and promoting alcohol consumption. The same report says that nearly half of all young people who start drinking before the age of 13 develop alcohol abuse or dependence.
More feathered dinosaurs. The debate over whether dinosaurs are related to birds continues with a specimen named Microraptor gui being discovered in China that seems to have feathers on both its front and back legs. The specimen does not have a keel to which flight muscles could be attached so it may have been more of a glider than a flyer (something like a flying squirrel), but the presence of feathers is what is interesting. Any specimen like this has to be viewed with some skepticism until verification by other studies and specimens. It does appear that there were some dinosaurs that were very bird-like. If dinosaurs and birds turn out to be related it would not be a biblical problem. The word kind in the Hebrew of Genesis is a broad word, and only four kinds of flesh are depicted and identified in the Bible--that of fish, beasts (mammals), birds, and man. (See 1 Corinthians 15:39, Genesis 1:20-26, and Genesis 6-7). Whether dinosaurs are a part of the fish group or the bird group is not a biblical issue, but it will be interesting to see what the paleontologists decide.
--Reference: Science News, January 25, 2003, page 51.
Koko puts out a CD. We have mentioned in this journal a number of times that what distinguishes man from other forms of life on this planet is not so much man's body or chemical makeup as his spiritual characteristics. The Bible refers to man being created in the image of God, but scientifically we suggest that this is seen in man's ability to create art and music, his ability to worship, to feel guilt, to be sympathetic, and other characteristics related to these. There have been numerous attempts to find these characteristics in other forms of life, especially in whales, dolphins, monkeys, and apes. One of the most publicized of these is a gorilla named Koko who uses sign language, has been studied extensively, and has been featured in National Geographic a number of times. The most recent of these has been a music CD put out to show that Koko is creative musically. We are told that the gorilla "approved song lyrics and delivery," but the actual music is done by human voices. It is available on the web site www.koko.org and is sponsored by the Gorilla Foundation. We would suggest that this is extreme human anthropomorphization--making something human that is not, but you may wish to investigate it and see for yourself.
--Reference: USA Today, November 7, 2002, page 8D.
New Understandings of the composition of the cosmos. New tools of astronomy have given mankind a much better picture of the cosmos in which we live. These devices measure things that cannot be seen by the naked eye and tell us more about how the cosmos holds together. Our direct observation of ordinary matter called baryonic matter such as protons and electrons shows us that it makes up only 5% of the mass of the universe. The number of particles of this form of matter is consistently being measured at 1078 (or one with 78 zeros after it). Microwave telescope observations are telling us that .005% of the cosmos is made up of radiation by mass, and neutrinos are being measured to make up .3%. Cold dark matter that holds galaxies together makes up 25% of the mass of the cosmos, but scientists are unsure what it is made up of. The acceleration of the expansion of the cosmos tells us that dark energy makes up 70% of the cosmos, and extensive research is going on to see what the nature of this energy is. All of this is showing that much of what we have understood about the makeup of the cosmos was greatly oversimplified, and the design features that allow it to exist are even larger than we imagined.
--Reference: Scientific American, March 2003, page 48-59.
DNA's 50th. One of the more important discoveries in science was made 50 years ago when James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix structure of DNA. Many other scientists were close to making the discovery, but Watson and Crick managed to be first and received the Nobel Prize for their discovery. Everything from DNA fingerprinting in law enforcement to genetically-altered animals have resulted from this discovery, and the future of biology continues to accelerate into new areas as new uses and discoveries are made. It is also interesting that the fact of DNA being a pattern or a blueprint suggests strongly that there is a purpose and intelligence to its existence. Chance is an impossible mechanism for what DNA does; and the better we understand its design, the more obvious it becomes that it cannot be produced by random processes. Even Crick has shown that mathematically DNA could not have been a product of mechanical processes and, while he does not embrace the concept of God, choosing rather to believe aliens did the designing, he still recognizes the point that it is far too complex to be a product of accidental forces. If you would like to extract DNA on your own, there is an excellent recipe of how to do it at home in US News and World Report, February 24/March 3, 2003, page 40.
Continuing interest in gene similarity. One of the things related to the above note is the fact that similarities exist between different animals as far as DNA and gene materials are concerned. In Natural History, December 2002/January 2003, pages 36-39, is an article titled "Searching for Your Inner-Chimp" which raises the question of how we can be so different than chimps when so much of the genetic makeup between us is the same. The article points out that when geneticists studied mice, they found that of 731 genes all but 14 had a human match. Science News, February 22, 2003, pages 122-123, shows how much similarity there is between mice and humans as far as our genes go. A great quote from the researchers on this is that "Yet, no one would--or should--conclude on that basis that we have a primordial taste for cheese." The point is that our genes are not what make us human. There are many other factors involved, and we would add that the most significant of these are our spiritual components.
Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun03.