News and Notes title
from Does God Exist? May/June 2011

Our Canyonlands Tour has been CANCELLED--We have had a smaller than usual response to our Canyonlands tour, and so this year's trip has been cancelled.  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 trip. We will try again next year.

VOLCANO BOOST FOR FISH. This past fall produced the largest salmon run in British Columbia’s Fraser River in recent history. In 2009 1.5 million salmon were counted migrating up the river, but in 2010 the number jumped to a record 34 million salmon. Researchers say that the eruption of the Kasatochi volcano in the Aleutian Chain in 2008 is responsible. A 1,000 mile stretch of water had ash rain down on it fertilizing it. This led to one of the largest diatom blooms ever seen in the subarctic North Pacific. This is the base of the food chain the salmon depend on, and has had a beneficial effect on the whole area. Researches are now saying that this natural method of catalyzing the growth of life forms may be far greater than anyone imagined. We normally think of volcanoes as being destructive to living systems, but it is becoming obvious that this is not always the case. Source: Alaska magazine, February 2011, page 13.

ILLUSIONISTS. There are two basic different kinds of magicians. One is the person who uses illusions to claim supernatural powers and mystic abilities for themselves or someone else. The second is a person who says flat out that this is a trick or illusion, but just enjoy it because I am not going to explain it to you. Thanks to Harry Potter and other children’s fiction some people are convinced that mystical powers are real and in the possession of certain individuals. The Bible has always warned man not to get involved with such things (see Exodus 22:18; 2 Kings 9:22; Galatians 5:20). Someone has said that if you do not have faith in something, you will believe anything, and that can be seen to be true. Harry Houdini was a magician who did incredible illusions, but did it for fun and entertainment and said outright that what he did was a trick. Those interested might want to read The Secret Life of Houdini by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, Atria Books.

SUPERCOLLIDER MYSTERIES. The Large Hadron Collider near Geneva is now operational. What it is doing is ramming protons into each other with such energies that essentially the protons are smashed so that scientists can determine what the protons are made of. So far over 110 new particles have been identified. One interesting thing that has been observed is that some of the particles appear to be synchronizing their flight patterns like flocks of birds, and so far no good explanation exists as to why this is happening. The more we study how the basic building blocks of matter have been designed, the more complex the picture becomes. Every layer of complexity that gets added to the picture speaks that much more eloquently about the intelligence that in the beginning created the heaven and the earth. Source: Scientific American, February 2011, page 30.

“MULTIPLE BIG BANGS” DEAD. In November 2010 a lot of attention was given to an announcement by prominent cosmologists that they had detected evidence there were many “big bangs” before the one that produced the universe as we know it. In January 2011 scientists announced that a technical misunderstanding had caused those claims, and that there is no evidence of previous singularities. This is not a religious issue, but it shows the positive nature of scientific research — that errors and misunderstandings are gradually rooted out as research continues. If religious people would research God’s word in the same way, similar corrections might come about. When there is a conflict between science and faith there is either bad science or bad theology and we have had a lot of both. Source: Science News, January 15, 2011, page 13.

“ANSWERS IN GENESIS” EXPANDS. Several years ago a denominational group headed by Ken Ham built a “Creation Museum” in Petersburg, Kentucky. The multimillion-dollar facility promotes a denominational dispensational view of history with a young earth interpretation. It shows dinosaurs and humans living together in harmony and espouses many of the claims of dispensational millennialists about the history of the earth. The museum has attracted 1.2 million visitors in its first three years and has moved the leadership of the museum to incorporate as a profit-making company that plans to build an “Ark Encounter” 45 miles south of the Creation Museum site. This will be a $150 million theme park with an ark replica built by Amish builders using wooden pegs and framing. It will have miniature live animals on it, including miniature giraffes. The park will also have a 100 foot Tower of Babel, a Middle East village from the first century, a reenactment of the 10 plagues and parting of the Red Sea, and many other things. The state of Kentucky is planning to help fund the project with a $37.5 million grant from the Tourism Development Act, because the park plans to employ 900 people and attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year.

We have expressed concern in the past about the scientific and biblical errors involved in denominational traditions like this. Those who take children to such parks need to be sure to let their children know what is biblical fact and what is denominational teaching not supported by the Bible. We hope that the articles and materials we have available on these subjects will help parents and church leaders do that. Sources: Houston Chronicle, December 6, 2010, page A9 and’s+ark&st=nyt.

NEANDERTHAL RELATIVES. The human genome data has given anthropologists a new tool to help sort out the complex history of humanity. In the December 23, 2010 issue of Nature magazine there is a new report of a Siberian find of a girl who was closely related to the Neanderthals and yet part of ancient man’s family tree. The Neanderthals were a race of man who interbred with other humans and are part of the blood line of all humans on the earth today. All of us are related, and as more and more studies are made of new fossils the varied nature of the human gene pool becomes obvious. Acts 17:26 (KJV) says God has “made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth”, and that simple statement is being verified as more data comes to light. Source: Science News, January 15, 2011, page 21.

MORTIMER ADLER CONFESSION WORTH HEARING. Mortimer Adler is a famous 20th century ethics philosopher who is well known and frequently quoted by atheists. Adler was baptized when he was 81 and explained why he had rejected obeying God for most of his life in this way: “It would require a radical change in my way of life, a basic alteration in the direction of my day-to-day choices as well as in the ultimate objectives to be sought or hoped for … . The simple truth of the matter is that I did not wish to live up to being a genuinely religious person.” Quote from Jim Spiegel’s article “Unreasonable Doubt” in Christianity Today, January 2011, page 48.

MASSIVE KILLS OF BIRDS/FISH  — NATURAL. Anytime something unusual happens, there are those who will attribute it to some world-ending disaster. In the past few months there have been reports of massive bird deaths and fish deaths causing some to suggest that the end of the earth is coming and matching predictions made from the Mayan calendar. The fact of the matter is that die-offs have always taken place. In the Bible there was a massive die-off of quail in the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. One of the plagues of Egypt was the frog plague which resulted in massive deaths of the frogs. In modern times we have had similar events. In March 1996, 2,000 sandhill cranes died in Nebraska as they tried to outrun a late season blizzard. In 1976, 15 million drum fish died in Maryland due to a cold snap in the weather. In 2010, a large group of red-winged blackbirds died suddenly, probably from trauma produced by nighttime fireworks near their perching areas. People can cause animal deaths by machines, pollutants, and changes in the environment. There is nothing alien or mysterious about animal deaths. Source: South Bend Tribune, January 7, 2011, page A1, and January 8, 2011, page A6.

HAPPINESS IN THE CHURCH. There have been a number of studies that show that people who are religious have a higher level of happiness and satisfaction than those who are not. In Science News (January 1, 2011) there was an article by Bruce Bower reporting on happiness studies in the American Sociological Review. This was a study of 1,915 U.S. adults and showed that people who are religious but do not participate in a congregation are less satisfied than those who are active members. The bottom line is that sitting in a pew does not bring happiness. The whole New Testament concept of fellowship and how it addresses our needs is involved in this study.

JULY 2011 AND 2012. There has been much made of the idea that the earth will end in 2012, with everything from the Mayan calendar to planetary alignments being hyped as the cause. To show how much nonsense is involved in all of this, you might look at July 2011. This year July will have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. That will not happen again for another 823 years, Also this year there are four dates that are all ones. (1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11 and 11/11/11). Now take the last two numbers of the year you were born and add the age you will be this year on your birthday. Try it and see if you think this year is so strange that everything will end this year. Remember God tells us no one knows when Jesus will come, so all of this is man created and fun, but not of religious significance.

Note: After we published and mailed this 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 and found out this kind of thing has been passed on (forwarded) quite a bit. 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.

DATA ON KISSING. A series of studies reported in Discover magazine (February 2011, page 96) shows that love is designed and chemically structured. The complexity of human sexual relationships is enormous, and far beyond the mechanical actions of animals. This is one reason why our culture’s approach to casual sex is so destructive. God designed sex, love, and marriage to meet the deepest needs of men and women, and the more we learn of how it works the more amazing the design of the system is. Here are some of the newly discovered facts:
  1. “Women prefer scents of men whose immunity-coding genes are different from their own.” This would produce children with a stronger immune systems.
  2. Love feelings trigger dopamine which “is produced in the ventral tegmental area of the brain, the same region affected by addictive drugs like cocaine.”
  3. “Holding hands and kissing reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, thereby lowering blood pressure and optimizing immune response.”
  4. The exchange of saliva passes a bit of testosterone from male to female. This increases her libido.
  5. “One milliliter of saliva contains about 100,000,000 bacteria.”
ROCK STAR AND MARRIAGE. Ricky Gervais is a well known entertainer and activist. When asked why he did not marry Jane Fallon whom he has lived with for 28 years he said, “There’s no point in us having an actual ceremony before the eyes of God because there is no God.” The collapse of marriage as an institution in the western world can at least in part be linked to that belief. How such beliefs are impacting our culture in a negative way is easy to see. Faith remains the bedrock of stability and positive action in society. Source: (accessed January 18, 2011)

POT AND PSYCHOTIC DISORDERS. Many states are legalizing marijuana for medical use. The problem with this action is that very little serious study has been done on many of the effects of marijuana. Researchers at the University of New South Wales report that pot advances psychotic disorders significantly, advancing the risk and speeding up the onset of the disease. Source: Time, February 21, 2011, page 21.

ANCIENT HUMAN REMAINS IN ISRAEL. The claim that humans originated in Africa was dealt a blow in December of 2010 by the announcement of the find of a human (Homo sapiens) in central Israel claimed to be 400,000 years old. The find was in Qesem cave discovered in 2000 and excavations began in 2004 by Avi Gopher. Modern theories of the origin of man have proposed a common ancestor that lived in Africa 700,000 years ago, with one group migrating to Europe and developing into Neanderthals and the other group staying in Africa and evolving into modern humans. There will be much debate among anthropologists on this claim, but the message is that all scientific proposals about the origin of man that are totally naturalistic in composition are poorly supported by evidence. The Bible indicates that civilization began in the Fertile Crescent — the present day nation of Iraq. Every time ancient human remains are found in the Middle East it stirs up a great deal of debate. Source: AP release by Daniel Estrin, December 27, 2010.

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