Booze and STDS. Rarely does a day go by without a new story about a tragedy that happened because someone was drunk. In Newsweek, May 22, 2000, page 81, is a story showing that there is a direct relationship between alcohol consumption and the rate of sexually transmitted diseases. The data comes from the Center for Disease Control and actually compares disease rates with taxes on liquor. A twenty cent tax on a six pack of beer can lower gonorrhea rates by nine percent in a year. The interpretation of the study by the government (not our interpretation) is that people are "more likely to have unsafe sex while drunk." Christians need to recognize that condoning the use of the most destructive drug in the history of humanity leaves a person in a poor position to complain about the consequences of the use of that drug.
Genome Project Exaggerated. The Human Genome Project has gotten a huge amount of media attention, and certainly represents some amazing scientific work. The fact is that there is an enormous amount of work that remains to be done. Almost two thirds of the data is in what is called "draft" state. There are tens of thousands of gaps which will have genes in them which are not known. Less than a third of the genes have been named and a function has been ascribed to even fewer. One gene can make a number of different proteins, each of which does something different in the cell. This is where the practical use of the project really becomes obvious. The most useful part of this information is not to predict what disease someone will have later in life, but to be able to offer medical help to people who are suffering from problems related to protein activity in the cell. Like all science, this information could be used in a destructive way, but the real potential is to offer help to the sick. Let us hope that believers in Christ continue to be involved in this project as they are now, so that only constructive uses will be made of the information. (Reference: Popular Science, September. 2000, page 36.)
A related story is a new study reported in Newsweek, July 24, 2000, page 53, titled "Stop Blaming Your Genes" which was originally reported in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study shows that the risk of a twin sister getting cancer after her identical twin got it is only 13 percent. The study examined the medical history of 89,576 identical and fraternal twins and concludes that environmental factors are much more significant than genetic factors in cancer. Dr. Robert Hoover of the National Cancer Institute says "the fatalism of the general public about the inevitability of genetic effects" on cancer is unfounded.
Jehovah's Witnesses Change Position on Blood Transfusions. One of the challenges of skeptics is the destructive nature of some religious beliefs. There is no question that cults in religion have promoted some very destructive practices which always are non-biblical in nature. Since 1961, the Jehovah's Witnesses controlling organization called the Watchtower Society has required its members to reject blood transfusions. In the June 15,2000 issue of their official church publication called The Watchtower members are told they can now accept "fractions of any of the primary components" of blood. We would like to point out that the New Testament never prohibited any medical treatment of this type, but it is encouraging to see any group correct an obvious error in their church teaching.
More Petition Nonsense. For most of the 30 years that we have been producing this journal, there has been an urban myth circulating that says that Madalyn O'Hair is trying to get the FCC to exclude religious programming from radio and television. With the advent of the web this story has been circulating again and again. Now there is a new version that says that a new petition numbered 2495 is being circulated (the old one was 2493.) Let us say again that all the petition letters attributed to Madalyn O'Hair are scams. Do not send money to someone fighting this, and do not repeat the story. Madalyn O'Hair is dead and the FCC is not considering any petition to remove religious programs from radio and TV. If you want their verification of this, their phone number is 888-225-5322.
In a related issue, there have been more arrests and trials in the Madalyn O'Hair case. Gary Paul Karr has been arrested and is on trial for conspiring to kidnap and extort money from O'Hair, her son, and granddaughter. Karr is the third person arrested and put on trial. $500,000 in gold coins is missing and prosecutors believe the three were murdered, dismembered, and buried in barrels in 1995. As this issue of this journal goes to press, we do not have any information on the outcome of the trials.
Does Abortion Stop Crime? A paper titled Legalized Abortion and Crime by Steven Levitt and John Donohue has been making a lot of waves these days. The authors claim that the drop in crime from 1992 to the present is due to the fact that abortion became legal in the United States in 1973. Their argument is that the lack of unwanted children has reduced crime by that age group. An article in Scientific American, December, 1999, pages 23-24, reviews this argument and how people have responded to it and what may be wrong with it. Our response is that even if the assertion is true, it is not a valid justification for abortion. To be facetious, let us give you a proposal. A huge percentage of violence related crimes are caused by people who have a prison record. Why not pass a law that mandates that anyone arrested for anything other than a misdemeanor is to be executed? That would certainly reduce the crime rate within a 20-year period.
Why Did God Make Tobacco? One of the questions we frequently get from skeptics is why God would create things like mosquitoes, tics, poison ivy, and the like. Usually included in this list are things like marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco. In some cases these items are mutants that have come into existence in recent years or are man produced (many insects are in this area). In other cases the material has enormous positive uses and the propensity of man to make something bad out of something that is inherently useful is the cause (alcohol being the classic example.) Tobacco has always been a problem because there was no obvious positive use for it and the recreational use seems to have no redeeming value at all. In Advanced Materials and Processes, August, 2000, pages 33-36, is an article showing that tobacco has a use as an extremely effective inhibiter of corrosion. Any material can be used for evil purposes. To suggest that God should not have created anything that ultimately could harm man is basically to wipe out the creation itself.
Faster than Light? A number of readers have sent us articles and clippings about man having exceeded the speed of light. The reason that this is an issue is that a great deal of science functions on the acceptance of Einstein's postulate that the speed of light is independent of the motion of the observer which in essence says that nothing can exceed the speed of light in a vacuum. Researchers in Princeton, NJ, have been doing experiments with pulses moving through a cell of cesium gas. They have been able to produce a phase effect that registers faster than light could travel across the cell. This is not some object that exceeds the speed of light, it is a phase alignment that can be detected 62 nanoseconds better than light can travel the same distance in a vacuum. Lijun Wang, one of the authors of the experiment, says "This is not at odds with special relativity" and in fact may help understand more about relativity. If you want an explanation in more detail of the experiment see Scientific American September, 2000, page 26-27.
Textbook Problems? As a public school teacher, I always had problems with the textbooks I was required to teach from. It was not just the fact that there were frequently errors in the books, it was also the fact that the author's opinions and biases were frequently showcased in the book. In Reader's Digest, September, 2000, pages 165-170, is an interesting article on textbooks that points out some of the problems. We want to emphasize that teachers are at the mercy of textbooks, so do not attack the teacher. What does need to be done is that children need to know that textbooks are not infallible and learn to read and think critically. I have always given extra credit in my class to kids who find errors in the book, and I have always had students who found multiple errors that I missed.
Nostradamus Predictions Off. It is absolutely incredible to this writer, that so many people believe that people like Nostradamus accurately predicted the future. It seems that like the textbook issue above, people believe that if a book has been written on a popular figure of the past it must be true. Skeptical Inquirer, May/June, 2000, page 6, points out that three major books promoting the prophecies of Nostradamus predicted that the world was going to see cataclysmic wars during 1999. The tabloid mentality of the American public is rooted in their rejection of God in this writer's opinion. I heard someone say "When people don't believe in something they will accept anything," and that seems to be what is happening.
Earth's Body Guard. Why do we have so many planets in our solar system? If God created the earth for man, why have Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and all the other objects that make up the cosmos. There are a variety of responses that can be made to this question, but recent research has confirmed that the major planets are vital to our security here on Earth. The solar system can only be stable with our Jovian planets (Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter) where they are. Dr. Alan Boss at the Carnegie Institution points out that 99.9% of cosmic debris is thrown out to interstellar space by the gravitational fields of the Jovian planets. This massive gravitational field keeps giant comets from hitting the earth-like the one that slammed into Jupiter after getting broken up into 17 parts by its field some six years ago. Our studies of other solar systems (over 34 planets are now known to be orbiting other stars) has shown us that we are very unique. These systems have giant planets much closer to their stars leaving no room for an earthlike planet to exist. The more we learn about the cosmos, the more we see the wisdom and design in planning required for our existence.
A related issue is the question of how the earth has functioned in the past. Much of evolution is based upon an assumption known as "uniformitarianism." That assumption is that nothing has happened in the past that is not going on right now. The idea is that the earth's history can be understood totally in terms of present earth processes. In January, 2000, two articles came across our desk which show that this assumption is simply not valid. One was an article in Scientific American, page 68-75, providing evidence that in the past the earth has been totally frozen, locked in ice that would have frozen the oceans to the bottom, preventing any living thing other than microbes from existing. In a related issue, there have been a number of reports concerning the finding of a piece of the meteorite that hit in the Yucatan peninsula ultimately causing the extinction of the dinosaurs. (See National Geographic in Geographica section) . The point is that clearly the uniformitarian model is at best grossly oversimplified. The biblical view that periodically catastrophes have punctuated earth's history is totally consistent with all the available evidence.
National Geographic admits mistake. In November, 1999, the National Geographic Society ran a huge article featuring a missing link between the dinosaurs and the birds called Archaeoraptor. The fossil had been found in China, and the magazine rushed a special printing on it apparently feeling that it was a significant find and wanting to have a "scoop" on the story. We have mentioned in this column several times that the find turned out to be a fake of two fossils superimposed on each other-maybe by chance or maybe as a deliberate hoax. On April 7, 2000, National Geographic editor Bill Allen released an AP story confirming that the fossil is bogus and stating that they will print a story on it sometime in the fall or winter of 2000-2001. As we go to press it has just happened. We encourage you to read the October National Geographic, page 128. This is a classic example of how science should not work--rushing to release information only because it fits a pet theory.
New Children's Book Available! The Does God Exist? program has been involved for many years in producing children's books on science that support belief in God and reflect good scientific material. We have a new book in that series which is titled How Do Birds Fly? This book explains Bernoulli's principle to children and leads them through an appreciation of the design seen in living things that has led man to his most significant discoveries. Like all of our books for children, this one is written at a third or fourth grade level and has been illustrated by Gerry Miller. We now have ten children's books in our series.
To order a copy, send $2.00 to John Clayton, 1555 Echo Valley Dr., Niles, MI, 49120 or $18.00 if you want the whole series of ten books. For a listing of the other book titles, see our catalog or contact us.
Back to Contents Does God Exist?, NovDec00.