MORE ON MARS. Last month, we mentioned the media blitz on Allen Hills 84001, an alleged fragment from Mars containing evidence of life. In our discussion, we mentioned a number of assumptions about the find that seemed to stretch credibility very thin. More and more voices have been heard about this story, both pro and con. In an article titled "Is NASA a Viable Life Form?" Gwynne Dyer points out that this is the fourth time NASA has attempted to prove that there is life on Mars-- 1976 with Viking, 1981 with studies by Levin and Straat, and 1986 with followup studies. US News and World Report (August, 1996, pages 44-50) had perhaps the most even-handed article on the finds that have been made.
It is interesting that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have been seen in many places throughout the solar system and are clearly not biologically caused in places like the moons of Uranus. At the time of this writing, detailed cross sections are being made of the tubes seen in the meteorite to see if there is any evidence of a biological cause. We will keep you posted. We do want to remind you that life on Mars is a non-issue as far as the existence of God is concerned. David Briggs said it well in an AP release of August 23, 1996, when he said "the news should be greeted with a sense of humility and awe at the infinite creative potential of God." The question of whether any kind of life anywhere can exist without planning and intelligence being involved is not related to how many times or where that intelligence and planning was carried out.
WAS BINTI JUA HUMAN? This past summer at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, a three-year-old child fell 18 feet into a gorilla compound, knocking himself out. One of the gorillas, an eight-year-old female named Binti Jua ("daughter of sunshine") picked up the injured child and carried him to the door where humans sometimes entered the compound. Zoo personnel were able to retrieve the child who has made a full recovery. Chicago newspapers and other media forums have devoted a lot of space to the loving and compassionate act done by this wild beast. We share everyone's joy that the story turned out so well, but the facts of the case are a long way from what the media would have us believe.
First of all, Binti Jua was raised by humans in San Francisco. She is not a captured wild gorilla, but an animal that has had extensive contact with humans and knows what brings reward and what brings punishment. Binti Jua has a daughter who was with her when the incident happened. Female apes in the wild frequently share child-raising responsibilities and are often united in the defense of all of their offspring against males or other animals who will kill the young. We would suggest that the young female gorilla was simply doing what instinct told her--bringing a damaged offspring to its mother.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND FIRST GRADERS. One of the more misunderstood news items of the past 60 days was the story of a male first grader in North Carolina who kissed a female classmate on the cheek and promptly found himself identified in newspapers all over the country as a sexual harasser. Now we have seen all kinds of special interest groups jumping on the bandwagon, with a variety of attacks on public education as a whole. Those of us in the public schools understand that the question was "unwanted affection or touching," not harassment; but discipline guides always lump all behavior of this kind under one banner. The girl kissed did not want to be kissed, and the school followed the standard procedure which got blown out of proportion by the media.
In a world that encourages immorality, any attempt to have moral standards is going to be met with ridicule and scorn by the media. It is important to notice that this was a public school trying to get children to understand that you do not force physical contact on another human being. The school in question had a bomb threat after this incident, and the media has been demanding that the adults responsible be reprimanded. In some public schools, teachers and principals have capitulated to the media and the anti-religion forces by turning their heads when obscene language and gestures, or even physical handling, is done to students by other students. Let us support those who care about kids and the learning of moral behavior.
EXTRAMARITAL CONSEQUENCES. A report from the National Cancer Institute tells us that women whose husbands have seen a prostitute 10 times or more during their marriage are 11 times more likely to develop cervical cancer as those whose husbands are faithful to them. The guides for conduct God has given in the Bible have many reasons behind them; and the more science learns, the more reasons we find that the Bible is not a work of man.
MARITAL HAPPINESS. In the same vein as the previous news item, Time reports that studies have shown that marital happiness is at a maximum after 35 years of marriage. The study claims that five years after marriage happiness decreases, but that, when couples have been married 35 years, they are as happy as newlyweds. We would suggest that the lack of worry and stress about the relationship makes it even better after 35 years (we have been married 38 years). God's plan of one man and one woman for life works--but lots of people give up before they see the best of what marriage has to offer. (Time, October 7, 1996, page 30)
WHAT HAPPENED TO MADALYN? It has been over a year since anyone has heard anything about Madalyn O'Hair, her son Jon, or her granddaughter Robin (daughter of William Murray who left the atheist group). We have been getting considerable mail about their disappearance, but we have no information to offer. Ms. O'Hair always said that, when she died, she would never let Christians know because she did not want Christians dancing on her grave. While that might explain her disappearance, it would not explain what happened to Jon and Robin who have also been missing and are heirs apparent to the American Atheists group. William Murray thinks the disappearance is a stunt, but foul play by a religious extremist is also an unpleasant possibility. We do not have any information beyond what we have seen in the media.
ABORTION IN THE UNITED STATES. Scientific American (October, 1996, page 28) reports that about half of all women in this country will have an abortion at some point in their life. The Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York reports that Catholic women have abortions at a 29% higher rate than Protestant women. In US News and World Report (August 19, 1996, page 8) is a report that women who claim no religious affiliation are four times as likely to have an abortion as are religious women, but 18% of abortion patients describe themselves as evangelical Christians or born-again Christians.
DRUG USE UP IN EIGHTH GRADERS. Newsweek (August 26, 1996, page 56) reports that use of drugs among eighth graders is up while alcohol use is down. The percent changes of increase and kids using the substances between 1991 and 1995 are:
Crack up 108% at 2.7% Stimulants up 25% at 13.1% Heroin up 92% at 2.3% Tranquilizers up 18% at 4.5% Marijuana up 95% at 19.9% Cigarettes up 5% at 46.4% Cocaine up 83% at 4.2% Been drunk down 5% at 25.3% Hallucinogens up 63% at 5.2%It may be that only 2.7% of the kids are using crack; but, when you add all of these numbers up, it is not just the crack that is the issue. The importance of parents and church leaders realizing what kids contend with on a daily basis cannot be overemphasized.
US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT BUCKS TREND. We are very critical of the media in this journal, we believe with good reason. We do wish to commend US News and World Report on an article (September 9, 1996, pages 46-53) which brings out something we have never been able to get a major newspaper or magazine to print, and that is the fact that there are a lot of programs and activities being done by people and groups in the name of Jesus Christ that are selfless, generous acts of love that do make a difference. The article is titled "Can Churches Save America?" Not only does the article report on a number of cases where good works are being done, but it also report on statistics that support the value of church attendance. "The divorce rate for regular churchgoers is 18 percent; for those who attend services less than once a year, 34%" and "Frequent churchgoers are about 50 percent less likely to report psychological problems and 71 percent less likely to be alcoholics" are two examples.
We have often contended that, even when Christianity is followed to a small extent, incredible good is accomplished. Those who say that they have no need of a church miss the point. Church involves the "called out" reaching out to solve the spiritual and physical problems of the world. Jesus said "By their fruits ye shall know them" and we would suggest that the good done in the name of Christ is astronomical. We tend to get lost in the few charlatans and con-artists that denigrate the name Christian and miss the galaxy of good done by good, hard working, unselfish, caring, committed Christians.
WHO'S ON THE INTERNET? We would like to remind you that, at http://www.doesgodexist.org/, we have a Web site. A Gallup Poll (May 12, 1996) reports that religion on the net is a big field. The number of sites in various religious categories are:
God 56,000 Christian 71,200 Devil 12,600 Catholic 28,600 Heaven 23,100 Methodist 11,800 Hell 34,600 Baptist 11,000 Miracles 9,300 Muslim 21,700 Angels 17,700 Buddhist 6,500 Jesus 29,900 Atheist 1,600 Muhammad 8,800 Agnostic 1,100 Confucius 1,400 Hindu 6,400