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Return to January/February 2016 articles.

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from Does God Exist? January/February 2016

CORRECTION! One of our readers pointed out a serious mistake in the first “News and Notes” item in the September/October issue of this publication. We incorrectly stated that there are more atheist chaplains in the military than there are Southern Baptist chaplains. That is not correct. Also the total number of military chaplains was over-stated. We are now told that the total number of military chaplains is under 3,000 and there are NO official atheist chaplains. We appreciate readers who keep us on our toes, and we apologize for the error.

KILLING THOSE WHO TRY TO LEAVE. On October 11, 2015, two young boys were savagely beaten by members of the Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford, New York. Nineteen-year-old Lucas Leonard died from the attack which was administered because they wanted to leave the church. Atheists are using this incident to bash Christianity, and it is important for Christians to be able to defend their faith in accordance with 1 Peter 3:15. The fact that Old Testament statements from Proverbs 10:13; 22:15; and 23:13 – 14 are used to justify the beatings is missed by the press. These statements are not a part of the Law of Moses and contradict everything Jesus Christ taught. This should be a teaching opportunity for Christians, to show the importance of looking at who wrote the passage used, when they wrote it, who they wrote it to, and what the people of the time understood the statement to mean.

ASHLEY MADISON GETS INTO THE CHURCH. Ashley Madison is a website that helps people find partners for extramarital affairs. The site claims that there are 30 million people who have accounts. In July 2015 the Ashley Madison website was hacked, and the names and business locations of people with accounts was published. As you might guess there were a number of preachers and church leaders who were identified as having accounts. The teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5:27 – 28 tell us that letting our minds be fed with sexual thoughts sets us up to sin against God. That is true for every human on the earth. Teaching our young and old members including preachers how to avoid sexual temptation needs to be a part of the teaching and preaching of every congregation. We should not be surprised when leaders fail because this has not been done. For an excellent article on this by Wayne Turner, read The Gospel Herald, October 2015, page 4.

Magellanic CloudMEDIA DISTORTIONS FEED ATHEISM. The headline in the Daily Express (Express.co.uk) in October 2015 reads “Historic Discovery: Physicists ‘Prove’ God Didn't create the Universe.” The article is full of flashy four color pictures from NASA and reports on a theory of Dr. Mir Faisal at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Dr Faisal has proposed that “virtual particles” can come into existence out of nothing. He does this by guessing that negative gravitational energy and positive matter energy of the universe balance out creating a zero sum — thus nothing. You may notice that the word “prove” is in quotes in the title of the article. That is because this is a theory based upon possible mathematical models. There is no way to test “virtual particles” because if they are virtual, they are unreal. This is not science because it cannot be falsified or tested in any way, and it certainly is not proof. This is not a discovery, but one man's idea. It is important for young people to know what science is, and how evidence is presented and handled. Media ploys by an atheistic press is neither based on evidence nor logical arguments.

NEW SPECIES RELATED TO HUMANS CLAIMED. One of the interesting facts about anthropology is that the history of humans, apes, and monkeys is incredibly complex. On September 10, 2015, an announcement was made by Dr. Lee Berger, a professor in Johannesburg, of the discovery of a new group of 15 individuals which has been named Homo naledi. Naledi means “star” in the local language and was given because the cave in which the bones were found is the Rising Star cave system. Some 1,500 bones have been found. It appears that this is nothing new with the brain size being very small but the rest of the bones similar to homo erectus. The mixture of physical characteristics caused Susan Anton of New York University to say “the fossils are fabulous and a bit confusing.” Variations in ape and human populations can be enormous just as the races of humans today can vary. Calling it a new species is premature, but it will fit some models of anthropological change. We would suggest it is just a testimony to how much characteristics can vary within a population. A bone layout appeared in Science News, October 3, 2015, page 6. National Geographic has a special article on this find in their October 2015 issue, page 36.

Thinking manSIX CHOICES OF GENDER. Incoming freshmen at the University of California are being offered six different genders from which to choose: Male, Female, Trans Male/Trans man, Trans Female/Trans Woman, Different Identity, and Gender Queer/Gender Non-conforming. One would need an explanation of many of those titles, but the confusion of sexual roles has left a great deal of collateral damage in our culture. God's creation with well defined roles gives stability that all of us need. Source: www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/sexuality/male-and-female-by-design/male-and-female-why-it-matters-in-the-culture-and-public-policy.

GIANT FLYING REPTILE DISCOVERED. Some paleontologists have discovered the largest specimen of a flying reptile called a pterosaur. With the claims of birds being dinosaurs or flying reptiles, the picture of how birds came to be gets increasingly complicated. The Bible indicates that there were two “kinds” of flesh that could be considered dinosaurs or reptiles — the flesh of fish and the flesh of birds (see 1 Corinthians 15:39). This creature could fit either one. It will be interesting to see what new specimens come to light in the months ahead. This site in Utah has produced over 11,000 bones so far. Source: AP in the South Bend Tribune, October 18, 2015, page C6.

HOW MUCH OF YOUR BRAIN DO YOU USE? The famed psychologist William James claimed that we are making use of only a small part of our brain. Later that claim was made more specific by journalist putting the amount of our brain used at 10%. New studies show that not all of our brain is active at once, but if any part of the brain is damaged there are physical, mental, and behavioral effects. We use 100% of our brain. Source: Popular Science, November 2015, page 50.

THE BLIND — A NEGLECTED POPULATION. For many years we have worked with Glynn Langston in his ministry to the blind called “Insight International.” Glynn is blind, and has reached large numbers of blind people all over the world using modern technology as a tool to teach God's word. Recent data shows that there are 285 million people in the world who are visually impaired and 39 million who are blind. Many of them are children. This is a field “ripe unto harvest.” Data from Orbis.

NEW FIND OF TORAH SCROLL. One of the questions raised by skeptics is whether the Bible has been altered and changed throughout time. In the past, copies of the Torah (the books of Moses) had existed from the 10th century A.D. and the Dead Sea Scrolls from 250 B.C. Recently copies of the Ashkar-Gilson manuscript from the 7th century A.D. have been released containing a crucial section of the book of Exodus. When all of this is put together, what it tells us is that there have been no major mistakes in the copying of the books that make up our present Old Testament. The Torah that we have has been strongly supported by this new find. Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2015, page 46.

BE CAREFUL ABOUT TAKING ZOO PICTURES. In 2011 David Slater took a picture of an Indonesian macaque. Slater is now being sued by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who claim that the copyright belongs to the animal itself, not to the person who took the picture. When you deny the uniqueness of humans as having been created in the image of God, you claim all living things have equal rights. That means that all kinds of irrational claims come to the surface. Source: Time magazine, October 5, 2015, page 10.

ATHEIST CAMPS AND BOY SCOUTS. In 2013 the Boy Scouts lifted their ban on gay youth membership. In previous years gays were not allowed in scouts. In July 2015 the Scouts lifted the ban on openly gay Boy Scout leaders. Boy Scout troops are operated through a charter organization, which is classified as civic, faith based, or educational. Seventy percent of all units are faith-based, meaning they can continue to impose a ban on openly gay leaders if they choose to do so. Two atheists who were formerly Boy Scout leaders now head up an atheist camp called Camp Quest for young people from atheist, agnostic, and non-religious families. The camp started in 1996 with 20 campers for a week in Boone County, Kentucky. In the summer of 2015 1,300 kids from 14 states and three countries attended. We have done apologetics programs with a large number of camps over the years. There is no question that great teaching and/or indoctrination can be done when you have kids for a week. For many kids, it is the only real spiritual teaching they will get. Christian camps do a great work and need to be supported. Source: American Atheist magazine, Third Quarter 2015, page 22.

SOLAR SYSTEM MOONS AND SECULARISM. In recent years the number of moons in the solar system has grown to 178 as of November 2015. Jupiter has 67 moons and Saturn has 62. Uranus now has 27 moons and Neptune has 14. In the past, names given to these moons have been taken from mythology and religion. The new moons are being given names from William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope to avoid religious connections. Source: Astronomy magazine, November 2015, page 12.

Albert EinsteinGENERAL RELATIVITY HITS THE 100 MARK. On November 25, 1915, Albert Einstein presented his work on the general theory of relativity. In our September/October 2015 issue we had a discussion of Einstein's work and its relevance to all areas of our existence. In the October 2015 issue of Smithsonian magazine (page 21) there is a good article on Einstein's work and how he came to his conclusions.

PROBABILITIES AND ATOMS. When arguments are made about the odds of something happening by chance, skeptics usually respond by saying that if you have infinite space and infinite time it is going to happen no matter what the odds are. The difficulty with that argument is that all evidence shows there was a beginning to the cosmos so there is not infinite time. The size of the cosmos is also not infinite. The newest measurements indicate that the universe contains about 2.4 quinvigintillion atoms or 1080 atoms. Calculations of the odds of cosmological coincidences necessary for human life are in the realm of 10800 so the numbers are not even close for a mutual interaction. In other words the odds of life on this or any planet happening by chance are much greater than the number of atoms in the universe. Source: Astronomy magazine, March 2015, page 71.

CHURCH ATTENDANCE. A study released by AARP in their October 2015 Bulletin (page 36) shows that less than half the population of the United States attends church, synagogue, or mosque weekly (as of 2014). Only Utah had more than 50% and Utah had only 51%. In Vermont only 17% attended and in the Bible Belt the number was about 45%. The remainder of the states were between 22 and 39%. The United States is not a “church going” country.

WATER ON MARS. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite has detected salty water trickling down canyons and craters. This is not really a surprise as evidence has been seen in a number of ways. Water has also been detected on moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The media treats this as if it is an issue for the existence of God. Water does not necessarily mean life, but if God chose to establish life elsewhere we should not be surprised. Source: The Week, October 9, 2015, page 18.

KIM DAVIS — HERO OR VILLAIN. Kim Davis is an Apostolic Church member who is also a county clerk in a government office that issues marriage licenses. She refused to obey the law and issue a marriage license to gay couples and was jailed as a result. The question is whether Christians should support such actions. We oppose gay marriage, but we also support obeying the law of the land as taught in Romans 13. Nurses who are morally opposed to abortion have been able to opt out of participating in abortions in many places and Davis should have been able to do the same. Conscientious objectors have had other options than serving in the military. In Davis's case, holding her up as a model for what Christians should do is rather weak. She has been married four times, and had two kids out of wedlock, but that was before she became a Christian. Just as bombing an abortion clinic is not the answer to abortion, disobeying the law to oppose gay marriage is also not a good answer. Source: The Week, September 18, 2015, page 6.

Picture credits:
© Creativemarc. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© iStockphoto.com/Smokeyjo.
© Candyman. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.