Return to September/October 2015 articles.
from Does God Exist? September/October 2015
MORMON LEADERS AND POLYGAMY. According to the New York Times (November 11, 2014, page A1) Mormon leaders have acknowledged that Joseph Smith, the Mormon church's founder and prophet, had at least 40 wives. Some were already married to someone else and at least one was only 14 years old. Every aspect of the Mormon church leadership radiates a cult mentality. For a detailed treatment of this get the May 2015 issue of Salt Lake City Messenger, available from Utah Lighthouse Ministry, P. O. Box 1884, Salt Lake City, UT 84110 (www.utlm.org).
WHOSE FACE SHOULD BE ON YOUR $20 BILL? There is a campaign to take Andrew Jackson's picture off of the American $20 bill and replace it with a woman's picture. The founders of this effort call themselves “Women on $20.” We have no problem with putting a positive female icon on our currency. However, it would disturb us to see a person who espoused practices and beliefs contrary to the teachings of Christ honored in such a way. A leading contender for replacing Andrew Jackson is Margaret Sanger. Sanger founded Planned Parenthood, sought to sterilize people she called “human weeds.” She published articles by Ernst Rubin, the head of Hitler's eugenics program and spoke at a Ku Klux Klan rally. Surely most of us do not want to be reminded of that part of America's past every time we get a $20 bill. Source: Citizen Magazine, May 2015, page 9.
GAY PARENTING BOOK BACKFIRES. A heavily promoted children's book by gays is titled Heather Has Two Mommies. The book is the story of Heather Barwick, who was raised by her mother and her mother's lesbian partner. Ms. Barwick is now a wife and mother of four children herself and has written on The Federalist website about her past. “I ached every day for a dad,” she writes. She added that same-sex marriage “necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. It denies us something we need and long for, while at the same time tells us we don't need what we naturally crave. That we will be okay. But we're not.”
TAX STATUS BECOMING ATHEIST GOVERNMENT TOOL OF ATTACK. Churches and non-profits carry a 501(c)3 charity designation. This allows churches not to have to pay income tax, and donors can claim donations as deductions on their tax returns. Atheists are now using the courts to punish churches or action groups who promote positions the atheists oppose. By suing or even just bringing public attention to something controversial, an accusation of “discrimination” can be used to get the 501(c)3 charity designation revoked. In 1970, Bob Jones University had its tax-exempt status removed because the school had an interracial dating policy. In 2007, a United Methodist church/ministry had its tax-exempt status removed because it refused to allow a same-sex couple to perform a “commitment ceremony” in the church's pavilion. Look for more attacks on churches and ministries brought by atheists through the IRS. It comes back to a famous historical quote, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it.” That is apparently no longer true in the United States of America. Source: Citizen Magazine, June/July 2015, page 15.
CHRISTIANITY FADING? Pew Research Center has released a survey showing that those Americans identifying themselves as Christian has dropped nearly eight percent from seven years ago. The study reports that 23 percent indicate no religious affiliation but of this group only about a third call themselves atheists. The movement towards secularism in our world is very clear, and the need to bring evidence to all ages in our culture is huge. Source: The Week, May 29, 2015, page 17, and Time, May 25, 2015, page 15.
UFOS AND POLLUTION. For some 30 years there have been numerous claims of UFOs lighting up the sky in Hessdalen, Norway. Thousands of UFO enthusiasts converge on the town to see these strange, mysterious lights. Recent studies of the area by scientists have shown that metallic emanations from mines that are the basis of the town's economy are the cause of the lights. This is not to suggest that there is no possibility of life in outer space, but all UFO claims have turned out to have natural explanations, or are the work of humans. Sometimes they are deliberate hoaxes. In this case, they may be caused by pollution and human greed. Source: Time, June 1, 2015, page 4.
NEANDERTHALS — APES, HUMAN, OR SUBHUMAN. For well over 50 years, a debate has raged among scientists as to whether Neanderthals were a species of humans, apes, or some kind of link. As a kid, I remember Neanderthals portrayed as rather pathetic looking, hunched-over brutes. We have since found that those images were based on a specimen crippled by arthritis. The Bible indicates humans arrived on the scene uniquely human in every way. One question was whether Neanderthals created objects reflecting worship, art, and musical expression. In March, researchers announced the finding of eagle claws that have been fashioned into a necklace. Tool marks on the claws leave no doubt about the fashioning of the claws and string made of twisted fibers have also been found. Adam was primitive and ignorant, but he was creative and intelligent. The recent finds are from the earliest forms of the Neanderthals, and Adam's remains might be identified from that time or perhaps even earlier. The cultural evidence of the first humans being created in God's image and able to create symbolic objects and worship is strong. Source: Science News, April 15, 2015, page 7.
MORE ON NEANDERTHALS. A recent find in Romania of an ancient human jawbone reveals that the DNA of this ancient human was over 6% Neanderthal. This reinforces the view that Neanderthals were a race of humans, not an ape, or some kind of link. We continue to suggest that all of the finds of Homo that are made are races of humans, not some different species. Sources: USA Today, June 23, 2015, Page B-1 and Nature, June 2015.
MARIJUANA USE EXPANDS. In the June 2015 issue of National Geographic is a 25-page article on marijuana, primarily emphasizing the potential beneficial use of the drug. There is no question that there are chemicals in marijuana that can have positive use in some treatment programs. Cannabidiol (CBD) in various forms can be used to treat seizures and has no psychoactive effect on humans. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been studied in some detail and has been shown to treat many disorders including glaucoma, Crohn's disease, Tourette's syndrome, and asthma. What is unfortunate is that like all plant material, marijuana can be misused and is destructive when used as a recreational drug. THC has been shown to alter the growth of the brain in young people. It can produce anxiety attacks and trigger schizophrenia. The smoke from the plant can have devastating long-term effects on the lungs. AAA reports a 50% increase in the involvement of marijuana in weekend drivers since 2007. God has given humankind many materials that can be used to improve our lives. When we misuse these materials — be it alcohol, or marijuana, or other plant materials — they can bring tragic consequences.
GLOBAL WARMING AND THE BIBLE. It is distressing to see people connecting the Bible with issues tied to global warming and climate change. Articles in religious journals and apologetic material attacking scientific reports about climate issues are most unfortunate. God has not made belief about climate a condition of faithfulness. The integrity of the Bible does not rest with whether the earth warmed by 1.5 degrees since the industrial revolution began. Introducing issues that have no spiritual or biblical connection is to cloud the picture of the real issues. The data is clear that we are experiencing global warming, and climates are changing. That has happened in the past, and it is happening now. Whether human influences are significant or not can be debated, but not biblically. Science and faith are friends. Our faith should motivate us to do our part to preserve what God has given us. Arguing about causes and political issues is not a way to give an answer of the reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15).
INTERESTING QUOTE BY FAMOUS EVOLUTIONIST. Jane Goodall is famous for her work with chimpanzees and has advocated chimp rights and a concern for all living things. In Reader's Digest (June 2015, page 29) Ms. Goodall said, “You may not believe in evolution, and that's all right. How we humans came to be the way we are is far less important than how we should act now to get out of the mess we have made for ourselves.” We would suggest that the mess of sin is our most critical thing to clean up. “Survival of the fittest” does not seem to this writer to be a way to make a difference in cleaning up any mess.
NEW ATHEISM AUTHOR GETS REAL. Alex Rosenberg is a philosopher at Duke University and author of a book titled The Atheist's Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions. Instead of trying to portray the New Atheism as moral and altruistic and equal and/or superior to Christianity, Rosenberg comes to the real position that atheism ultimately has to take. He celebrates “scientism.” He says this means treating science as our exclusive guide to reality and nature. Rosenberg says atheists have to say there is no God, there is no purpose to the universe, there is no such thing as free-will, there is no difference between right and wrong or good and bad, and that anything goes in moral decisions. Rosenberg and Peter Singer, who we have mentioned previously in this journal, are atheists who take positions from which many atheists would like to distance themselves. In reality their view is where atheism ultimately takes you. Source: Rosenberg's book is published by Norton, © 2011.
BEING CAREFUL ABOUT SCIENTIFIC CLAIMS. One of the problems that all of us have with scientific statements is knowing whether they are credible or not. A good example happened this past December when the New York Times reported on a study that showed that opponents of same-sex marriage often changed their minds “after talking for just 20 minutes to a gay person.” This study got worldwide attention. It has now been discovered that one of the authors faked the results. A study released in 1998 which related autism to childhood vaccines was based on falsified data. The problem is that journals tend to report hot topics, and funding tends to go to people who get results the public wants to hear. Both atheists and Christians need to avoid grabbing at something we want to believe without allowing confirmation of the data. Source: The Week, June 12, 2015, page 17.
CHIMP CONFINEMENT EQUAL TO SLAVERY? The Nonhuman Rights Project is a group opposing the confinement of chimpanzees. Steven Wise, president of the group, maintains that chimps have “personhood” and should be freed from all captivity. Wise pointed out that in the 1800s Native Americans and blacks were denied personhood. He insisted that chimps, elephants, dolphins, bonobos, and orangutans are also cognitively advanced beings and should be granted personhood status under the same laws that prohibited confinement of blacks and Native Americans. Wise and his cohorts want the chimps moved to a sanctuary in Florida. It would seem to this writer that doing so would still be confinement, and it would be in a hot, bug infested environment instead of an air conditioned medically secure home. Maybe the chimps will sue Wise and his cohorts for cruelty. Source: Houston Chronicle, May 28, 2015, page A4.
OVERBLOWN BLOOD CELL CLAIMS. There have been many creationist claims about the discovery of dinosaur red blood cells. The new Jurassic World movie has brought a growing public interest in whether cloning of dinosaurs is about to happen. All of this is without merit. The claim about Gorgosaurus having red blood cells preserved in a toe claw is not true. What was found was some fibers that appear to be from red blood cells and collagen. Finding some fibers does not mean there were cells or that any DNA was found. No fossils have contained any evidence of intact DNA. In a similar way, there have been fibers found of feathers and muscles, and while these give enough evidence to say that there were feathers, it is not the original material. This is useful scientifically but is not a help in deciphering DNA or cloning a dinosaur. Source: The Week, June 26, 2015, page 18.
NEW SPECIES IN OCEANS. A four-year study of ocean samples from the Arctic to Antarctica has revealed 35,000 organisms previously unknown to science. This gives us some idea of how little we know about life in the sea. These tiny forms of life are vital to the food chains and produce many resources such as oxygen that we depend on. Source: The Week, June 19, 2015, page 18.
NEW AMAZING DETAILS ON FETAL DEVELOPMENT. The more amazing things we learn about how the baby develops in the mother's womb, the more of God's wisdom and planning we see being expressed. In Scientific American (July 2015, page 24) there is some new data we found interesting. The baby opens its eyes during the 28th week, and light filtering through the womb is critical for neuron and blood vessel development. Smell and taste have developed by the 15th week, and the baby's tastes are affected by what their mothers ate and what was close to the womb. Hearing develops by the 27th week, and features of their native language such as rhythm and intonation are acquired. Touch develops as early as seven weeks and babies move swinging their umbilical cords, climbing the wall of the amniotic sac, and putting limbs into their mouths. It is difficult how anyone can deny these humans are human when they do so many things that have meaning. Source: Houston Chronicle, May 28, 2015, page A4.
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