Return to 2nd Quarter 2017 articles.
from Does God Exist? 2nd Quarter 2017
THIS IS OUR SECOND QUARTERLY ISSUE FOR 2017. As we explained in our last issue, this journal is now being published quarterly rather than bimonthly. In order to be more up-to-date, we have a new website with daily features. You can find it at www.DoesGodExist.today.
MAMMOTH DINOSAUR FOOTPRINT. How big can an animal get? Science fiction frequently shows animals of enormous size, and yet the reality is that land mammals can only get so big. The amount of oxygen in the air, the type of muscle development needed to run, the limitations of reproduction by live birth, and a host of other technical problems limit the size of land mammals. Besides mammals, this is true of birds which are also warm-blooded. Reptiles, on the other hand, never stop growing. An 80-year-old T. Rex was still growing, but I can tell you from personal experience that an 80-year-old human is not. This issue has a lot to do with whether the dinosaurs were birds, and whether dinosaurs and humans could have lived at the same time.
In the Gobi Desert in Mongolia there have been over 20,000 footprints of dinosaurs discovered and in late 2016 one was found that was 42 inches long and 30 inches wide. In an American shoe size, that would be a size 104. Researchers are interested in how the dinosaur was able to stand and walk with such enormous size. One thing that seems certain is that the conditions on Earth were different than they are today. There was almost certainly a higher oxygen content in the atmosphere. God was preparing Earth for humans, and the conditions required to form the materials we would need were different from those of Earth today. “In the beginning, God created the earth” just says that God did it. How he did it may have involved far more than we can understand, even today. Source: The Week, October 21, 2016, page 19.
Another article about dinosaurs concerns dinosaur eggs and has drawn some attention from the scientific community. Scientists from Florida State University have been studying the teeth of dinosaurs that are still in the egg. Reptiles produce teeth from a substance called dentin. Every day a reptile will add a layer of calcium on the tooth root, making something that is similar to tree rings. Count the number of calcium layers on the tooth, and you can tell how long it took for the egg to hatch. The dinosaurs studied, which included a Protoceratops and a Hypacrosaurus (duck-billed), took three months and six months respectively. For these animals to reproduce, a great deal of time would have been required compared to birds or modern reptiles. Again, the environmental conditions necessary to allow that would be considerably different from Earth today. Source: The Week, January 20, 2017, page 19.
FOSSILIZED DINOSAUR BRAIN CLAIMS. The media has taken great delight in statements like “Dinosaur Brain Unearthed.” “A chunk of petrified brain tissue” is a common statement which even appeared in some scientific journals (like Science News, November 26, 2016, page 9). Knowing the nature of brain tissue, most scientifically trained people immediately raised flags stating that this was probably an exaggeration at best and at worst, a hoax. The actual fossil includes bits of skull bones and pieces of the cortex, the brain's tough outer layers. There are tiny tubes in dendritic patterns on the surface of these outer layers which in modern animals allows oxygen to get into the brain material. Learning something about the brain of a dinosaur would be wonderful, but the notion that this is a complete brain which will tell us everything is a profound exaggeration. This is always a problem with fossil discoveries. Claims should not be accepted too quickly until we know what has really been found.
“MORE AMERICANS ARE DITCHING RELIGION.” A U.S. News and World Report article with that title has some interesting comments from a study done in 2016. What the study reports is the reason this ministry exists. In Time magazine (September 26, 2016, page 63) Susanna Schrobsdorff writes about her life with no religious connection. (People claiming no religion are referred to as “nones.”) She cites a Duke University study in which there are 19 million more “nones” than there were in 2007. This makes the total of people with no religious affiliations at 56 million, which is greater than any single religious group. The study also says that fewer than half of all young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 are sure that God exists.
What is important is the cause of this decline. The US News and World Report article said that 78% of Americans do not identify with the faith system in which they were raised, and the leading cause was “science and a lack of evidence.” The nature of the religion in which a person was raised may also be an issue. Some religious beliefs are not biblical, make no sense, and have no practical value. A good percentage of our “hate mail” comes from preachers or religious writers who are opposed to science and to any attempt to suggest that science and faith are compatible and supportive of one another. Young adults see that science has impacted their lives in many positive ways — from medical advances to all kinds of entertainment venues. When religious leaders make people believe they either have to accept science and reject religion or accept religion and reject science, the result is going to be a rejection of religion in a large number of cases. The data makes that clear. You can find the article mentioned above online at: www.aol.com/article/2016/08/25/more-americans-are-ditching-religion-pew-study-says/21458273/.
TIM LAHAYE PASSING EMPHASIZES THE DENOMINATIONAL ASPECT OF CREATIONISM. On July 25, 2016, Tim LaHaye passed away after suffering a stroke. With his passing comes the reminder that much of what is seen in creationism today is due to LaHaye's work. In 1970 Henry Morris, Art Peters, and Tim LaHaye started Christian Heritage College with LaHaye as the president. Involved with the college was the Creation Research Science Center which stated that the school was “dedicated on restructuring all fields of learning and practice in the integrating framework of genuine creationism.” The Institute for Creation Research was born, and LaHaye was a board member until 2007.
The difficulty with all of this is that Tim LaHaye was also a leading proponent of dispensationalism along with Hal Lindsey, Charles Ryrie, John Walvoord, Eric Sauer, and others. Dispensationalism maintains that there is a permanent distinction between Israel, the Gentiles, and the church. When the Jewish nation was reestablished in Palestine in 1948, dispensationalists claimed that it was the beginning of the return of Christ to establish a political kingdom and re-establish David's throne. Because they view the history of Earth as seven roughly 1000 year periods, they have to cling to the idea that Earth cannot be much older than 7000 years. (If you wish more on this belief system look at the article, “Destructive Dispensationalism” in our November/December 2008 journal, page 10, online at doesgodexist.org (a PDF version), or send us an address and we will mail you a copy of the article.)
The problem here is that the good work that is done by these creationist groups is undone by allowing a denominational belief to control their understanding of what the Bible teaches and what the scientific evidence supports. Because they do not take the Bible literally, these groups allow biblical words to cover things they do not apply to. The word “kind” in Genesis and other places in the Old Testament is not a synonym for species. The word behemah in verses 24 – 26 does not include dinosaurs. The animals Moses describes in Genesis 1 were all animals Moses was familiar with, not animals like the duck-billed platypus. We have a more detailed treatment of this subject on our www.doesgodexist.org website in the booklet titled God's Revelation in His Rocks and His Word.
Ken Ham is also a dispensationalist and many of the problems we have alluded to here show up in the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Atheists and skeptics continue to attack the denominationally-driven material in these exhibits. The fundamental questions of how we know there is a God and that the Bible is his Word go unobserved by many people and by the media. Source: Acts and Facts, September 2016, page 21.
LIFE IN SPACE. The existence of life in other places in the universe seems to swing in popularity from one generation to the next. In 1966 Carl Sagan and a Russian scientist I. S. Shklovskii wrote a book titled Intelligent Life in the Universe in which they predicted there must be 10,000 inhabited planets in our Milk Way galaxy. About ten years later Shklovskii wrote another book titled We Are Alone, in which he pointed out that the complexity of life was poorly understood when he and Sagan wrote the first book. As more information became available the probability of life became more and more remote. In 1976, Jacques Monod wrote a book titled Chance and Necessity in which he said: “Man knows at last that he is alone in the indifferent immensity of the universe, whence he has emerged by chance.” Francis Crick was a little more honest with his conclusion when he said: “The origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle.” We would suggest that God being the designer and creator eliminates the guess work and confirms that his wisdom and intelligence is all it takes to form life. How many times he has chosen to do that is unknown to us at present.
TRAVEL IN SPACE. Popular movies portray travel in space as just being a matter of solving simple propulsion problems. The truth is that cosmic radiation is now better understood as a huge risk to space travel. In Scientific American (February 2017, page 54) Charles Limolihas wrote an excellent scientific discussion of the dangers of cosmic radiation. Galactic cosmic rays are charged atomic nuclei flying at nearly the speed of light, probably coming from the supernova remnants of dead stars. Our Sun generates a great amount of radiation, but the cosmic rays are much more of a hazard. When these atomic nuclei hit molecules in our body, they ionize atoms, knocking electrons off the atoms and causing the atoms to become charged. These charged atoms hit other atoms, and there is a domino effect that is greatly magnified because of the extra energy involved. In human bodies, there are clusters of damage from such radiation, and just trying to duplicate the process in the laboratory has turned out to be incredibly difficult. Limolihas and his fellow researchers have shown that there is a much greater effect on brain tissue than anyone imagined. Earth is designed to handle this huge radiation by having two levels of shielding. Earth's magnetic field sweeps the galactic cosmic rays away from the areas of the planet where people live, and the atmosphere takes care of the rest. When you travel beyond Earth's magnetic field, you have virtually no protection, and that is going to be a huge challenge for space engineers to solve. The lesson we would bring from this is that God's design of Earth becomes more and more amazing as we learn of the complexities that have to be taken care of for you and me just to get up in the morning.
THE PHILISTINES ARE REAL. The Bible talks about the Philistines as a constant scourge and an enemy that Israel struggled with from one battle to the next. The problem with the Philistines was that they left no written records and no bodies of the Philistines had been found. In July 2016, researchers discovered more than 210 skeletons in a Philistine cemetery, the first ever found. Scientists believe the Philistines migrated from the Aegean around 1200 B.C. and thrived until they were demolished by the Babylonians around 600 B.C. These were iron-age people. As we learn more about them, the biblical account of David's encounters and Sampson's battles with them become increasingly clear and understandable. Source: Discover, September 2016, page 36.
RIGHT HANDED DNA. Chiral molecules are molecules that have two forms that are mirror images of one another. Scientists refer them as “right-handed” and “left-handed.” You cannot put your left hand on top of your right hand and have a congruency between your fingers. In life, the molecule that is most critical to this discussion is DNA. All DNA on Earth twists clockwise like the threads on a right-handed screw. If DNA came in both right and left handed versions, the strands would not fit together, and life would not exist. As scientists study the creation of life on Earth, they see that only one right-handed type of molecule was baked into Earth's chemistry, and this would have happened long before life was created. Proverbs 8:1, 22 – 23 (NIV) says it well: “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? … The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be.” Source: Scientific American, September 2016, page 13.
NEW DISCOVERIES DETAIL THE BABYLONIAN EXILE. In 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. In 2 Kings 24:12 – 16 we are told that he deported Jehoiachin and 10,000 captives including craftsmen and smiths. Jeremiah indicates in 52:28 – 30 that there were three subsequent waves of deportation in Nebuchadnezzar's seventh, eighteenth, and twenty-third years with 3,023, 832, and 745 people respectively being deported. A recently publicized copy of the Babylonian record is now housed in the British Museum including ration texts and receipts. Questions concerning the accuracy of the Bible as a historical source and of the reality of what took place seem to be answered by these new discoveries. If you are interested in this period of history and of the integrity of the Bible in matters of this kind, see Biblical Archaeology Review for September/October 2016, page 49, for an article titled “How Bad Was the Babylonian Exile” by Laurie Pearce.
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