from Does God Exist? May/June 2015
“WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FIRST YEAR IS PROFOUND”. That is the opening line of an incredible article in National Geographic (January 2015, page 59). The article is subtitled “A baby's brain needs love to develop.” We have emphasized the importance of the nuclear family for over 40 years now, and our arguments have been mostly from personal experience and observation. This article gives solid scientific data to support God's plan for the home. This is done by EEG brain patterns and exhaustive studies of children deprived of contact with their parents or other adult care-givers. In Romania in the 1960s the communist government pushed families to put their children into a state-run day care so their mothers and fathers could work in government factories. The day cares had 15 to 20 children per caregiver so the only attention the children got was when they were fed or bathed. The brain-waves of 136 of these children were studied by neuroscientists. One researcher said “It was as if a dimmer switch had been used to turn their brain activity down.” Half of the kids were placed with foster families at age 2 and showed remarkable recovery. Numerous other studies are reported, as well as a detailed explanation of how the brain develops during the first year of life. This is an important article for people working with families and for the families themselves to read.
DNA DESIGN. Imagine packing a string the length of two football fields into a sphere the size of the point of a pin. The designer of DNA had that kind of a problem to solve. DNA stretched out would be roughly six feet long. The designer of the cell had to compress that six feet into a nucleus that is about 5 micrometers or roughly .00002 inches in diameter. Science News has a video showing how it might be done. You can watch it at www. sciencenews.org/node/189585.
WATER OUT OF ROCK? In Exodus 17:1 – 6 we find the story of Moses striking the rock at Horeb and water is delivered from the rock. The Hebrew word used in this verse is not sela indicating a cliff or elevation. The word used is tsur indicating the rock was not where a spring would be. In August 2014, a 6.0 earthquake shook the South Napa area of Northern California. Even though the area was in a severe drought at the time, water began rushing down previously dry stream beds. Estimates are that there was enough water released from the rocks in the area to fill 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Isotope studies have shown that the water was not coming from high elevations, but from the groundwater in the area. The water in Exodus 17 may have been a miraculous act of God, but it also may have been a utilization of a resource humans have not yet tapped into. Source: Science News, January 10, 2015, page 10.
ATHEISTS AS MINISTERS. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group originally from Madison, Wisconsin, has been engaged in a number of lawsuits to challenge tax breaks for churches and ministers. In December 2014, The Seventh Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's decision that minister's housing allowances, which had been allowed for 60 years, were unconstitutional. The Department of Justice argued that atheists would qualify as “ministers of the gospel” under IRS guidelines. The word “gospel” in the government's view is any good news, and being free from religion would qualify. Source: Christianity Today, January/February 2015, page 16.
ACLU FINALLY GETS SOMETHING RIGHT — OR DID IT? “The ACLU's Michigan branch filed a brief in support of Bible Believers for an incident in Dec. 2012.” That announcement released by the Associated Press (South Bend Tribune, December 27, 2014, page A4) and widely publicized in newspapers in Michigan might sound like the ACLU has finally decided not to continue attacking churches and believers in God. The title of the article in the papers was “ACLU stands by evangelists.” The fact is that Bible Believers is a radical denominational group which hurls hate filled messages at anyone who does not share their views. In 2012 they carried a pig's head into a Muslim festival screaming that Dearborn Muslims were all going to “burn in hell.” Sheriff's deputies told them to leave — which they refused to do, and thus were ticketed. The brief by the ACLU claims that free speech is the issue, but they have taken no such stance when reputable Christians have spoken up against abortion, prostitution, or drug related issues. It appears this was just another way for atheists to bash Christians.
THE LIFESTYLES OF POP STARS. The Week (December 31, 2014, page 9) reported on a study showing that the life spans of popular musicians is roughly 25 years shorter than the average. Dr. Dianna Kenny looked at 12,000 popular musicians who died from 1950 to 2014 and found that early death was common. Kenny says “The culprit is a culture that glorifies outrageous behavior by emotionally immature artists. The pop scene is toxic and needs rehabilitation.” When our children and grandchildren get enamored with the current rock star, they need to understand that it is likely that rock star will die in their 50s, not their 70s or 80s. The Bible's warnings about evil companions are truths we all need to listen to.
WANT TO BUY A CHURCH BUILDING? The Wall Street Journal recently published a study by the Pew Research Center of what used to be called “The Church of St. Joseph” in Arnhem, Netherlands. This church once had 1,000 in attendance every Sunday, but now it is a skate hall with obstacle courses and jumps. Those in attendance are children on skateboards. The article goes on to tell about the number of churches closed in Europe. In Denmark less than 10% of the population attend any church service and some 200 churches are up for sale. The Catholic church has closed 515 churches in Germany since 2005. Holland expects to close 700 churches by 2020. Governments of European countries are trying to sell the church properties, but most of the structures are beyond recovery and not useful for much of anything in the twenty-first century. Our experience with our lectureships in Europe has been that people desperately want to believe, but they have never been shown the evidence for God's existence and the validity of Christianity. What people do not want is man-made churches who play around with the notion of faith, but do not live it.
NEW ORIGIN-OF-LIFE THEORY. Jeremy England is a physicist at MIT who has invented a new explanation as to how life began and why life exists here on earth. The theory is called “dissipation-driven organization.” Life exists, according to England, because living groups of atoms tend to be better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat than are nonliving groups of atoms. Changes in biological systems according to England, are controlled by what physical constraints are the easiest to achieve. This simple explanation of a complex presentation is being hailed as a new way to think, and there will be debate about this idea for years to come. We would point out that this has no connection to the question of God's creation. The creation of space and time and matter/energy is not addressed in this theory. The conditions that allow groupings of atoms have to be very carefully chosen and controlled. The laws of physics being employed, especially the second law of thermodynamics, are carefully crafted to be the architects of life. Could this be a method God designed to fashion life? Certainly that is possible, and future years of research and study will help answer that, but it is not a threat to faith in God as the creator. Source: Natalie Wolchover in Quanta Magazine, December 8, 2014.
PEER REVIEW SCAMS. In order to get research accepted or taken seriously in the scientific community, there has to be peer review. What that means is that people who have academic credentials in the area of research being reported have to review the data and they report and indicate whether it has credibility and should be taken seriously and accepted as valid research. There have been times in the past when a scientist who was known for his Christian beliefs had his professional work ignored because he could not get peer review accomplished, sometimes apparently caused by the fact that the reviewers did not share his religious beliefs. In Nature magazine, 2014-515 (7528) page 480 there is an article by Ferguson, Marcus, and Oransky on peer review in recent years. Religion, politics, and science all have problems with the dishonest members of their associations violating ethics and using scams to accomplish their own ends. In Discover magazine (January/February 2015, page 20) and at www.discovermagazine.com/2015/jan-feb/8-the-year-in-fraud is another article by Marcus and Oransky titled “The Year in Fraud.” They have also founded a website called www.retractionwatch.com to deal with this subject.
ALIEN LIFE-FORM DISCOVERED? We define life in high school textbooks as that which can eat, move, breathe, reproduce, and respond to outside stimuli. In the past 50 years we have discovered some bizarre forms of life. There are forms of life that can survive in extreme conditions of temperature and pressure such as tardigrades, Dead Sea bacteria, deep sea bacteria, and shrimp that live in and near sea-vents. All of these fit the definition of life-forms even though it may be hydrogen sulfide they depend on instead of oxygen. Kenneth Nealson at the University of Southern California has been researching a microbe that essentially eats and breathes electricity. These bacteria power themselves with electrical charge. The bacteria, named Shewanella, get electrons from sources in their area — usually carbohydrates. They then release electrons to metallic oxides in the area completing the circuit. This is not really alien life because it has been found on earth and has been here from the beginning. It offers ways of providing all kinds of environmental and agricultural advances. It is just one more example of the design features that God has created to allow ecosystems to flourish even when all that is present is rocks and minerals. Source: Popular Science, February 2015, pages 32.
WHERE DID NOAH LAND? One of the main points of this journal is that if the Bible is taken literally, all conflict between science and the Bible disappear. Taking the Bible literally means looking at who wrote it, who they wrote it to, why they wrote it, and how the people of the time would have understood it. The word Ararat in Hebrew literally means “creation, holy land.” People of Moses' day would have understood it as the district of Armenia between the river Araxes and the lakes Van and Urumia. Rather obviously the singular Mount Ararat of today was not the mountain the Bible is describing. In Jeremiah 51:27 we have mention of Ararat as a Kingdom. The Koran (Quran) refers to Mount Cudi as Ararat (Sura 11:44), and the Gilgamesh Epic identifies it as Mount Nisir. Claims of finding the Ark throughout the centuries have always been proven to be erroneous, and recent claims are also likely to be untrue because the researchers are on the wrong mountain. Rather than trying to find the ark, perhaps researchers should be trying to understand the message of the flood account. Source: Bible History Daily (an online daily magazine), November 27, 2014. (www.biblicalarchaeology.org).
PRISON WORK. The Does God Exist? ministry has an extensive correspondence-course program which people who are incarcerated are invited to participate in. The program is free and postage is paid with 11 courses offered, two in apologetics and 9 in Bible study. We have some 15,000 prisoners who are involved in our courses in one way or another, but the Kings Crossing Prison Ministries does far more. In the last year they have had 51,000 students take 296,000 courses and have distributed over 7,000 Bibles. Buck Griffith directs this wonderful work that involves overcoming addictions, programs after release, and becoming active Christians. Over 1,200 prisoners have been baptized in the last ten months. For more information contact them at 3833 S. Staples St., Ste. S101, Corpus Christi, TX 78411; phone: 361-855-3372 and e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.kingscrossingprisonministries.org.
DIVORCES FOR ELDERLY SURGE. The divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled in the past 20 years. In 2010, 25% of all divorces were for people over 50. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and anyone who has been divorced can tell you why. Not only is there emotional and psychological pain involved in divorce, but the ripple effect on families is huge. In addition, the average loss of income for a man is 23% and for a woman it is 41%. The divorce industry in America in 2010 earned $50 billion. More of an issue for the church is why this is happening. The ease of getting divorces is one factor, but it also has to do with the weakening of faith, commitment, and involvement of seniors in spiritual activities and work. The world's values and the pressure to look after number 1 have rubbed off on us. The weakness of faith in what the church teaches is a major contributor. Source: AARP Bulletin, November 2014, page 16.
OCEAN WATER NOT FROM COMETS. An amazing display of human intelligence and engineering was accomplished late in 2014 when the Rosetta spacecraft visited comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and was able to measure the makeup of the water in the coma of the comet. Water on earth contains a small amount of deuterium, which is hydrogen that has a neutron associated with the proton that makes up the nucleus. Ordinary hydrogen is just a proton and an electron. The water on the comet had three times as much deuterium, and that suggests that comets did not bring water to the earth — at least not this type of comet. In 1986 the Giotto spacecraft flew through the coma of Halley's comet and a very high level of deuterium was found as well. It appears that the water on earth was in some way specially formed during the creation of the earth. The repeated references to water in Genesis 1 would support that idea. God could certainly use comets to produce the water, but it is another support for the integrity of the biblical account. Source: Science News, January 10, 2015, page 8.
DOES RELIGION CAUSE WAR? Atheists have harped on the religious conflicts that have racked the planet during most of human existence as a reason to destroy religious belief. Dr. Karen Armstrong is a respected historian and has written a widely acclaimed book titled The Battle for God in which she shows that virtually all human conflict has been the quest for power, money, territory, and glory, with religion playing a distant second as a cause. She also shows that ancient religions exhorted the faithful to “care selflessly for all human beings as their brothers and sisters.” She also shows that until the American and French revolutions no “secular” societies existed, but historically much of the time religion has been only a veneer used to legitimize the power struggle. A review of this book may be found in The Week, November 14, 2014, page 24.
© paul fleet. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.