News & Notes

Announcing a Does God Exist? Summer Seminar!

A Five-Day Intensive Program of Study of
Christian Evidences and Ways to Serve Others

When: June 21-25, 1999
    Where: College Street Church of Christ, Lebanon, Tennessee
        Cost: Free--You provide transportation, room, and board. We
        provide all materials and instruction. 
           Requirements: An interest in learning. 
               Designed for: Church leaders, teachers, personal workers
                    Pre-Registration Required 

For more information, fill in the form below and mail it to: John Clayton, 1555 Echo Valley Dr., Niles, MI 49120 or e-mail to

Please send me a registration form and information on the 1999 Does God Exist? Summer Seminar



City, State, ZIP: ______________________________________

CORRECTION ON POLAR BEAR STORY. We try to be as accurate as we possibly can in any article that we run in this journal, but the accuracy of an article can only be as good as the data on which it is based. In our January/February, 1988, issue, we ran a story on polar bear hair titled "Polar Bear Hair--A Thermal Diode." This article was also reproduced in our Dandy Designs, Volume 2, page 35. The idea was that polar bear hair acted as a optical fiber which provided for a means of optimizing whatever light energy was available to the bear. This was reported originally in a Norwegian science magazine and was popularized in Time magazine and the New York Times.
In Alaska magazine, September, 1998, is a report of a study by Dr. Daniel Koon who has been testing polar bear hair and has not been able to confirm the data reported by the original researchers. The features of the polar bear that allow it to live in such an inhospitable climate are incredible, but the proposal that optical fiber properties in its hair are apparently not correct. For more up-to-date information see

DNA ANALYSIS BACKS UP BIBLICAL JEWISH PRIESTHOOD. The Bible tells us that after the exodus from Egypt, Moses' brother Aaron was selected as the priest. This title called cohen in Hebrew, was also given to Aaron's sons who passed the title on to their sons throughout history. Daughters could have the designation, but could not pass it on. The Y chromosome is also passed from father to son, giving a way to check out the biblical account as to the passing of the priestly honor throughout the ages. In a detailed article titled "The Priests' Chromosome?" Science News, October 3, 1998, page 218, John Travis shows the convergence of evidence taken from DNA studies and from the Torah. It is a fascinating article and shows another way in which science and the Bible can exist as friends, not adversaries.

CHINESE LEGISLATURE PONDERS BIBLICAL PLAN. We have frequently argued in this journal that one of the strongest arguments for biblical inspiration is that the system the Bible teaches for life works. Human philosophies and theories of social evolution from Darwin to Aynn Rand have universally failed to provide mankind with a system that can handle the realities of life. One of the places sometimes held up by atheists as a model of a social system that works without Christian influence has been mainland China. In 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong imposed strict moral codes on the Chinese people. Everyone dressed alike, adulterers were jailed, and strict laws were enforced on marriage. Popular unrest caused a relaxing of the laws under Deng Xiaoping, and with the relaxing came moral problems similar to those happening in the United States. The legislature in China is now considering a new set of laws which will ban divorce except for adultery, punish adulterers by forced labor, make it a crime to have a child out of wedlock, and deny marriage licenses to those with a sexual disease. A major uproar is taking place in spite of the government's attempts to keep the matter quiet.
Atheists are fond of accusing Christians of wanting to "legislate morality," but the lesson of history is that no one can do that. The only way that there can be any workable morality is for the population at large to accept the teachings that Jesus gave us about our thinking and the actions which follow that thinking. Every society that has attempted to have a moral system based upon laws or philosophies has fallen, and the fall has usually been rapid and complete. China's situation is the reverse of our own. Christianity is beginning to make some progress in China, and good things are happening where significant numbers of people are becoming Christians and are following its teachings. In the United States, we see the opposite happening. People have left Christianity because of their own selfish desires and unwillingness to serve others. The result is a nation coming apart--from the top of the government on down. (Source: Newsweek, August 24, 1998, page 36)

BIRD/DINOSAUR PROPAGANDA CONTINUES. National Geographic continues to plug the finds of feathered dinosaurs in Liaoning province of China. The July, 1998, issue of their magazine and a series of television specials have beautifully shown what has been found and provided majestic art work of their interpretations. There have also been stupendous claims made concerning how the find fits into theories about the evolution of the birds and their connections to dinosaurs.
The most disturbing aspect of the material being circulated is not the uniqueness of the finds or even what they may have to tell us about life in the past. The problem is the find is being used to try to support various theories. The two fossils being popularized-- Caudipteryx zoui and Protoarchaeopteryx robusta are reported to be 120-145 million years old. Even the name Protoarchaeopteryx tells you that this specimen is considered to be an ancestor of the well known first bird called Archaeopteryx. The problem is that all of my geology and paleontology books place the age of Archaeopteryx at 150 million years old. How can the prototype be more recent than the final version? This problem has developed because of the preconceived notions of how the birds came into existence. For a good treatment of this whole area of concern, we encourage the reader to see Hugh Ross' article in Facts and Faith, vol. 5, no. 3 (1998) (Available from Reasons to Believe, PO Box 5978, Pasadena, CA 91117, 800-482-7836). Also see Science News, June 27, 1998, page 404.

BOOK TRIGGERS PARENTING BATTLE. A new book titled The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out The Way They Do; Parents Matter Less than You Think and Peers Matter More, has stirred up a storm of reaction. Written by Judith Rich Harris, the book contains some 750 references to scientific sources, and that fact has led many popular writers to assume that it must be the last word in how much influence parents actually have. It is also a popular notion because if your child has turned out badly it is comforting to know that you had nothing to do with it.
There have been scores of professional challenges to Harris' book, but we would like to make just two points about it. The first is a biblical notion. Solomon said "Train up a child in the way in which they should go, and when they are old they shall not depart therefrom." To evaluate children on the basis of the here-and-now is to totally miss the long-term influence of parents. The second point is that those of us who work in the trenches know by experience that kids who do not have parents are almost universally problems in our classrooms. In the 40 years that I have been teaching in a public high school, I have had literally hundreds of problem kids, and an astronomical percentage of those are kids from homes with no mother, no father, or no one at all.

INFORMED CONSENT FORMS--DREAM ON. One of the sticky questions our society is faced with today is how to handle questions like the side effect of drugs used in cancer research, the implications and problems of in vitreo fertilization, the way to handle Alzheimer patients, the time to withdraw life support from a patient, etc. The standard way to deal with this has been to have the patient or persons involved read and sign a consent form. This form and procedure is called "informed consent" and it assumes that, when the patient reads and signs the form, he or she knows what the risks are and what could ultimately happen.
The problem is that the average reading level of American adults is below 8th grade with 90 million Americans reading below 7th grade level. The forms average 16th grade reading level with 25% being written at a college level and 9 percent at a graduate level. The implications of this data are obvious. (Source: Science News, July 4, 1998, page 15.)

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