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from Does God Exist? 1st Quarter 2017

DOES GOD EXIST? BECOMES A QUARTERLY. In our last issue, we mentioned that cost factors were causing us to have to re-evaluate our spending. We appreciate many of you who made suggestions as to what we might do to reduce expenses or raise our income. The vast majority of letters we got suggested that our readers would be happy with this journal coming out every three months instead of every other month. We will not change our policy of making materials available free because it opens so many doors for us in the non-religious and skeptic community. We are putting more and more material on our websites, and that is certainly what the future will hold for all of us. This issue is our first quarterly issue covering January, February, and March. Our next printed issue will be for April, May, and June and will be mailed in May. Between printed publications we will be filling in with an online blog. Thank you for your input and encouragement.

TEXAS CURRICULUM DROPS STANDARDS THAT CHALLENGE EVOLUTION. Texas has such a huge market for teaching materials that great emphasis is placed on the curriculum contained in what is called “Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills” (TEKS). This summer the state committee drafting the biology curriculum standards dropped four standards, all of which were originally suggested in 2009. The standards dropped are:

  • “3. (A) in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence,
    .....logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of
    .....scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.”
  • “7. (B) analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearance, stasis, and
    .....sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.”
  • “7. (G) analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell.”
  • “9. (D) analyze and evaluate the evidence regarding formation of simple organic molecules and their
    .....organization into long, complex molecules having information such as the DNA molecule for
    .....self-replicating life.”

Opponents of cutting the standards point out that all of these standards have negative implications for evolutionary theories and thus suggest bias against alternative explanations. Source: Austin American-Statesman, September 26, 2016, page A1.

A swift in flight

SWIFTS FLY 24/7. The common swift is a bird that flies a 6,000-mile migration from Europe to sub-Saharan Africa. A Swedish study was recently released in which they put transmitters on the birds to track their migrations. The study shows that the birds stop flying only when they land to nest. During the migration the birds fly continuously, feeding on insects, mating, sleeping, and gathering nesting materials while flying. Migration is an amazing ability built into many forms of life in ways that defy chance explanations. This bird spends less than one percent of their migration on the ground. Source: Susanne Akesson on NationalGeographic.com as mention in The Week, November 18, 2016, page 21.

DINOSAUR BRAIN FRAGMENT FOUND. A section of a dinosaur's brain containing blood vessel and tissue from the cortex has been found in England. It is believed to be from an Iguanodon. It was in a very acidic, low oxygen environment that allowed a unique preservation. Source: The Week, November 18, 2016, page 21.

ONE TRILLION SPECIES ON EARTH. Indiana University scientists studying data from a wide range of sources report that there are one-trillion species of life on earth. Most of us do not realize that the food chains and requirements for the survival of all of life depend on enormous biodiversity. In the past, the scale of this diversity has been beyond anyone's understanding. Let us point out that the biblical word “kind” is not the same as the scientific word “species.” The biblical kinds are much broader as seen in such passages as 1 Corinthians 15:39. There we are told that “there are four kinds of flesh, the flesh of birds, fish, beasts and of man.” Source: Discover, December 2016, page 15. While we are talking about trillions, a study released by the University of Nottingham in England has reported that their data now suggests there are two-trillion galaxies in space. Our view of the creation and of God just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Source: The Week, November 4, 2016, page 19.

STRANGENESS IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM. As we learn more and more about our solar system, the mysteries just keep piling up. The newest data on Pluto shows that it is incredibly dense. The volume of Pluto is very small. Ganymede, Titan, Triton (moons of Jupiter and Saturn), and our moon are all larger than Pluto. In spite of that, Pluto has more mass than Ganymede and Titan combined. The apparent reason is that Pluto is rock and the moons around our Jovian planets have large amounts of water within them. The design of the solar system and how that design enhances our existence is going to take a long time to understand fully. Source: Astronomy, page 8.

EMBRYO ADOPTION. An organization called The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) and a group called The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) are giving some answers to couples who want children but are infertile. What they are doing also has implications for the abortion issue. These organizations are taking discarded, frozen embryos and implanting them in women who want a baby but have been unable to conceive. At present in the United States, there are over 600,000 living human embryos in cryogenic limbo. For more information about NEDC go to www.embryodonation.org, and for the SART group go to sartcorsonline.com. Source: Citizen magazine, November 2016, page 10.

A poster for a journey to Mars

HEALTH ISSUES OF SPACE TRAVEL. A great amount of media coverage is being given to private companies offering trips to the Moon or orbiting Earth. We are also seeing an emphasis on going to Mars. Earth's atmosphere is designed to protect us from serious damage from cosmic rays. Scientific studies following up on the astronauts after being in space show serious damage from cosmic rays. Vision loss, an increase in heart disease, an increase in cancer in children, and an increase in cancer in the astronauts have all been reported. When we leave the protection God designed for us, there will be consequences. Source: Astronomy, November 2016, page 25.

JOHNS HOPKINS SCIENTISTS CONTRADICT MEDIA GAY INFORMATION. Dr. Paul McHugh is University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins and is Harvard educated. Dr. Lawrence Mayer is a Scholar in Residence in the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In September 2016 they released a study titled “Sex and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological and Social Sciences” published in the The New Atlantis journal (number 50, Fall 2016). The major media will not publicize this study, but here are some of their conclusions:

  • 1) You are not born gay. Nor is your sexual orientation unchangeable over a lifetime.
  • 2) Most young people (70 – 80%) who have feelings and sensibilities that do not align with their biological sex
    ....will eventually grow out of them.
  • 3) LGBTs have a higher risk of poor physical and mental health that heterosexuals.
  • 4) Non-heterosexuals are at a double risk of depression. Transgender people are ten times more likely to
    ....commit suicide. Stigma and prejudice do not completely account for these differences.

We have pointed out many times in this journal that there are multiple factors contributing to a person's sexual orientation, some of which may not be in their control. The media sell of the LBGTQ agenda is obviously distorted.

a photograph of a section of the Dead Sea Scrolls

ANOTHER OLD TORAH FOUND. In 1970 an ancient copy of the Torah was found in the Jewish village known as En-Gedi. It has recently been restored. Having a copy of these five books of Moses from near the time of Jesus is extraordinarily rare. This find is from the third century, and only the Dead Sea Scrolls are older, dating from around 200 BC. Pnina Shor of the Israel Antiquities Authority says that the ancient copy is exactly the same in both letters and format, as text in modern Torah scrolls read by most Jews today. Emanuel Tov of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was the co-author of the report on this new find, and Dr. Tov says “It is quite amazing for us that in 2,000 years, this text has not changed.” Skeptics of the Bible who attempt to claim it was written in modern times and was reporting history that was handed down from one Rabbi to another will have to rethink their claims. We can trust the Bible text to be as it was given to men by God. All evidence supports that. Source: USA Today, November 1, 2016.

PORNOGRAPHY — A SERIOUS PUBLIC HAZARD. The Wall Street Journal and the American Psychological Association have released data and made public statements of how bad the problem is. More than half of all American men are involved in pornography. The constant online sexual behavior and growing up in “wall to wall digitized sexual imagery” has led to “the crack babies of porn, incapable of real intimacy.” The church continues to be in denial on this issue. We have the DVD titled Spiritual Warfare: Safeguarding Churches from Child Predators by Jimmy Hinton that gets into this problem in depth. It can be purchased or borrowed for free (see page 19.) We urge church leaderships to take a look at it even if they have not experienced a problem with pornography or sexual child abuse. There is an old saying that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Source: The Week, September 16, 2016, page 17.

a sign showing FREEDOM OF RELIGION

GOVERNMENT ADMITS OPPOSITION TO RELIGION. Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri, had a community service program that involved a playground with a wood chip base. Children were getting hurt on the chips. The latest thing in playground bases is ground rubber made out of discarded tires. The state of Missouri offered a state grant to allow playgrounds to be made safer. Trinity applied for the grant, arguing that the playground was not part of the church and that 95% of the children who attended the preschool were not members of the Trinity Church. Because the playground was on church property, the state declined. In the writings of the state's lawyers, there is a disturbing statement which will apply to everything from food-banks to day-cares: “The state's argument is that their constitution actually requires them to be hostile to people of faith and religious organizations.” Lawyers for Trinity claim that “any constitution, state or federal, actually requires neutrality. Every citizen, regardless of their beliefs, should be treated the same.” It will be interesting to see where this ends up, but it is very likely to go to the Supreme Court. Source: Faith and Justice, Volume IX Issue 3 from the Alliance Defending Freedom also at ADFlegal.org.

FRACKING QUAKES CONTINUE TO GROW. On September 3, 2016, a 5.8 earthquake shook Oklahoma with the epicenter being near the town of Pawnee some 55 miles northwest of Tulsa. The state shut down over 40 oil and gas disposal wells to attempt to stop the growing number of quakes and the increase in their severity. In 2008, there were just two quakes over 3.0 on the Richter scale, and this year there have been over 900. Those of us with geologic training can tell you that it is likely that hydraulic fracturing in deep disposal wells is a main cause of the increased earthquake activity. Already some religious fanatics are claiming that God is punishing Oklahoma for recent political choices. It would seem that other states would carry more guilt than Oklahoma if that were the case. Maybe that just depends on your political views. Source: Scientific American, July 2016, page 47, and The Week, September 16, 2016, page 7.

a crocodile lounging in the sun

CROCODILE DESIGN. In our “Dandy Designs” column we have frequently discussed how God has built incredible design features into all living things. Some new data on crocodiles adds to that. When scientists played a recording of a baby crocodile's distress sounds, a huge female croc lunged at the recorder. When the recorder was shut off, the female crocodile stopped mid charge. When scientists played recordings of the sounds of baby crocodiles just getting ready to hatch, the mother crocs raced back to the nest and started digging out the eggs. Apparently, crocodiles have a well developed social life between the mothers and the babies, and it is highly likely that the dinosaurs did as well. Source: National Geographic, .

NEW DATING METHODS. Most people know about carbon-14 dating, but many do not know that carbon-14 can only be used for young things because of the size of the sample. Any date older that 10,000 years would be difficult to date with carbon-14 because it decays so rapidly there would not be enough to measure. In recent years, single crystal fusion, uranium series dating, thermoluminescence dating, optically stimulated luminescence dating, and electronic spin resonance dating have been added to some 600 different methods that science uses. In most cases, more than one method can be used, and when this is done, the differences are usually very small. The Bible simply does not give dates for the prehistory of Earth. When people attempt to support their denominational beliefs by attacking dating techniques, they are in the almost impossible position of having to disprove every new method that comes along. A better position to take on dating is to be silent where the Bible is silent. A good update on this topic is available in Discover magazine, July/August 2016, page 35.

a combined picture of sunlight and moonlight

NEW STUDIES OF THE SUN AND MOON GIVE AMAZING DATA. The Sun's light comes from its surface called the photosphere, which is a few hundred miles thick. The energy comes from the core of the Sun which is 1/200th of the Sun's globe. The light at the photosphere is 400 trillion-trillion watts. By the time it gets to Earth, there are only about 1,000 watts on each square yard of Earth's surface when the Sun is overhead. The Sun is gradually getting brighter, but the rate is very slow — about 7% every billion years. The Sun is small compared to other stars like Deneb and Aludra which are as bright as 200,000 Suns.

Full moonlight is 400,000 times dimmer than sunlight, and yet shiny white printer paper illuminated by a full moon is 2,000 times blacker than a black cat in the sunlight. Think of the design features necessary on Earth to accommodate this Sun of ours. Truly the Sun and the stars “declare the glory of God.” (Psalm 19:1). Source: Astronomy magazine, June 2016 page 8.

SEALED POISON CAVE IN ROMANIA HAS LESSONS FOR US ALL. In southeast Romania near the Black Sea, scientists have discovered a cave that has been cut off from the outside world throughout history. They estimate that the cave was sealed off 5.5 million years ago. Its air is low in oxygen (10%) and high in carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. The cave is named Movile Cave, and it is full of life. Forty-eight different species have been found so far. All of the life is based on chemosynthesis (sulfur based) instead of photosynthesis. The interesting thing is that the life forms do seem to be related to species that are on the surface of Earth that rely on photosynthesis as the basis of the food chain. Contrary to what the media has reported, life did not start in the cave, but it has adapted to the cave environment. Hot water vents in the deep ocean have similar life forms. The ability of life to adapt to even hostile environments is an amazing demonstration of its design. The life in this cave may not be, as some suggest, an argument for the possibility of life under the crust of Europa and Ganymede (two moons of Jupiter). Source: www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150904-the-bizarre-beasts-living-in-romanias-poison-cave.

LARGE HADRON COLLIDER CLOUDS COSMOLOGY. Since June 2015, the massive accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland, has been smashing protons together. Scientists hope that new particles will be discovered that might answer some of the questions that the standard model for cosmology cannot answer. The origins of dark matter, dark energy, and the balance between matter and antimatter cannot be explained by the standard model. A different model called supersymmetry was proposed to replace the standard model. On August 22, 2016, scientists admitted that no data had been discovered to confirm supersymmetry. In fact, the data seems to confirm the standard model. We have often said that “the more you know of the creation, the closer you get to the Creator.” Certainly, the complexity of the creation of the material of which we are made is a classic example of that. Source: Science News, October 1, 2016, page 12.

RESEARCH ON CHRISTIAN PRACTICES. The Pew Research Center looked at how Christian groups express their faith. There were four groups surveyed: Highly Religious Evangelicals, Highly Religious Mainline Protestants, Highly Religious Catholics, and Nominal Evangelicals (defined as “not attending church weekly”). The Catholic believers ranked themselves highest in praying regularly, being grateful, forgiving others, and attending church services, in that order. However, on reading the Bible, they were very low. Mainline Protestants were highest in forgiving others, being grateful, praying regularly, and being honest, in that order. Attending church services ranked very low for them. Highly religious evangelicals were highest in praying regularly, forgiving others, being grateful, being honest, and reading the Bible, in that order. Understanding why we differ in our relationship to God is more understandable when you look at those rankings. Where would you rank yourself, and your church in this list of priorities? Source: Christianity Today, June 2016, page 20.

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