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from Does God Exist? 4th Quarter 2018

STAY UP-TO-DATE ON NEWS AND NOTES. STAY UP-TO-DATE ON NEWS AND NOTES. The stories in News and Notes are condensed from articles previously published on our website DOES GOD EXIST? TODAY. You can use the links (Does God Exist? today) with each of these articles to see the original posts for more details. There are also many other interesting and informative articles on that website each day. We encourage you to follow us daily on “Does God Exist? Today.” On that website you can also subscribe to our free weekly e-mail update. We call it “The Best of the Week from DOES GOD EXIST?” It contains links to the most popular of our posts on DOES GOD EXIST? TODAY and our facebook page (Facebook.com/evidence4god).

Senior man high on marijuana with marijuana leafs in his eyes.

AMERICAN MARIJUANA ATTITUDE. A recent study showed that most Americans view marijuana favorably thinking that it has significant benefits and few risks. Science does not support the new American marijuana attitude.

The journal Annals of Internal Medicine published the new study on July 23, 2018. The researchers conducted an online survey of more than 9,000 people from all over the United States. They found that 81 percent of U.S. adults believe that marijuana has at least one benefit. The most common benefit mentioned was pain management. Other supposed benefits in people's minds were the treatment of diseases and relief from anxiety, stress, and depression. At the same time, 91 percent of the respondents believe that marijuana has at least one risk. The most common risk mentioned was not medical problems, but legal. They also mentioned addiction and impaired memory. The bottom line is that the American public sees marijuana as having few health risks and significant health benefits.

In the meantime, the public is ignoring costs in healthcare, addiction treatment, traffic enforcement, and traffic deaths. Since Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, the percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who had traces of marijuana in their blood has doubled. One of the problems involves trying to set a legal limit for marijuana because its effect on the body is very different from alcohol. Blood alcohol level reliably predicts impairment. The level of THC (the chemical in pot) in the blood is not the critical factor until it enters the tissue of the brain where it has its effect. The THC blood level may be lower when the brain is most affected.

Getting high on marijuana makes changes in the human brain and smoking the weed has many of the same health dangers as smoking tobacco. It seems clear that the American marijuana attitude is changing, but it is also clear that we need to step back and think more clearly before our thinking becomes blurred by pot.

MILITARY RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOUNDATION? Atheists have made remarkable progress toward removing all vestiges of religion from all branches of the military services during the last ten years. A leading group in this effort call themselves the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).

MRFF has a capable spokesman in Mickey Weinstein. He has said that the group wants to combat “gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize Americans.” Recently Weinstein fought to remove the Bibles that are placed on the tables commemorating the POWs and MIAs from recent conflicts. He argued that the Bible on the table “significantly disturbed at least 36 men and women at Warren Air Force Base.” The commander of the base, Col. Stacy Huser agreed and ordered that a generic “book of Faith” would replace the Bible. That book contains statements from five Department of Defense approved faith groups and a set of blank pages to represent the non-religious.

Since Christians provided the commemorative tables, it seems that groups not wanting to have a table with the Bible on it should have their own table with whatever book they wish to have or none at all. How can this group call itself the Military Religious Freedom Foundation?

The point is that the continued hostility to Christians in the military erodes morale and contributes to needless confrontations between people whose attention needs to be turned toward their common goal, not their differences. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council wrote, “Just think: if our service men and women are traumatized by a Bible, how are they going to handle war?”

DIGITAL TO BIOLOGICAL CONVERTER. The speed of scientific advancement in genetics and the use of computers in biochemistry is astounding. Scientists mapped the human genome in 2001. In May 2018, Synthetic Genomics announced that they had created a working Digital to Biological Converter (DBC). The DBC turns digitized DNA code into synthetic biological material such as proteins. The process is called “Gibson Assembly” and can produce small pieces of DNA code called oligonucleotides and stitch the pieces together into DNA strands.

The exciting part of this new technology is that it could allow doctors to personalize medications to the individual needs of patients. Oncologists could create a medicine specifically targeted to the patient's tumor. It has the potential to develop vaccines to fight an epidemic quickly. The prototype machine is too large and too inefficient to be practical, but Synthetic Genomics hopes to have it available to medical researchers in three to five years.

Many of the health problems we have today whether genetic or otherwise have been caused by what we have done to ourselves and our environment with various chemicals and carcinogens. Some might say that we are “playing God” by creating synthetic genetic material. But if we have a way to correct the damage that our ancestors and we have done and relieve pain and suffering, we should certainly do it. The complexity of the Digital to Biological Converter and the material that it produces tells us more of God's wisdom in the original construction of life. Source: Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2018, page B4.

MYSTERIOUS SPACE VISITOR. In October 2017, astronomer Robert Weryk using a telescope in Hawaii discovered an object careening through our solar system from somewhere in interstellar space. Astronomers assumed it was an asteroid from some other stellar system in our galaxy. UFO promoters saw it as a spaceship from some other star system that was spying on our planet. The name given to it is 'Oumuamua which is Hawaiian for “scout.”

'Oumuamua is an object careening through our solar system.

The object was quite narrow and seem to be less irregular than most asteroids. Closer examination has shown that the surface of the object is a reddish color which is typical of some comets which have a crust covering an icy interior. Its size is approximately 800 by 100 feet (230 by 35 meters).

Studies of the trajectory of 'Oumuamua show it is tumbling and changing directions in a way that indicates a force other than the Sun's gravity working on it. Naturally, the UFO promoters were overjoyed saying that this proves that alien spacecraft are all around us, and we just happened to catch this one. The SETI Institute used its powerful Allen Telescope Array to examine the object but detected no radio signals indicating intelligence. The problem with the UFO idea is that the change of direction is much smaller than what rockets on a spacecraft would cause.

After much study, astronomers concluded that 'Oumuamua is a comet. When comets get near the Sun, they spew gases from their interior. This jetting of gas always has some effect on the trajectory of the comet. The amount of change in 'Oumuamua's trajectory is consistent with the effect of a comet's gas jets.

As we have emphasized before, the Bible does not say that Earth is the only place in the universe where God chose to create life. At present, however, there is no credible evidence that there is life elsewhere. The idea of alien visitation is pure speculation with no evidence to support it.

NITROGEN MYSTERY SOLVED. The mystery is how nitrogen gets into the soil. Plants need nitrogen, and they need it in the form of nitrates and other compounds essential to plant growth, but plants cannot absorb the nitrogen directly from the air. In high school, we learned about “nitrogen fixation” and were told about nitrogen-fixing bacteria and the role of lightning in transforming atmospheric nitrogen into forms that could be used by plants.

Plant scientists have known that this model was not complete. The nitrogen cycle clearly had some missing parts, and our knowledge of how nitrogen gets into the soil was obviously lacking. Scientists have now discovered that a significant portion of getting nitrogen to plants involves seeping through bedrock. Nitrogen becomes trapped in sedimentary rocks in the oceans. When tectonic activity lifts the sedimentary rocks, so they are at the surface of the earth, they begin to release their nitrogen to the soils above them. The complexity of Earth's various cycles to allow for plant growth and to provide for human needs is astounding. Even such a fundamental question as the nitrogen mystery is still revealing God's wisdom and planning in providing a life-supporting planet for us to live. Source: Scientific American, July 2018, page 15.

GROWING INTEREST IN ASTROLOGY. While more and more Americans are denying faith in God, belief in astrology, witchcraft, and sorcery is growing. Astrology academies and Internet users of natal charts have produced thousands of podcasts, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, mobile apps, newsletters, and streaming videos. Data crunchers tell us that there are more than two million websites on astrology.

Horoscope circle on space backdrop

Richard Smoot speaking for the International Society for Astrological Research said, “So much is going on in people's lives these days, so much pressure to act or react, and they simply want to sort things out.” Astrologers claim that people in crisis are drawn to astrology because they want guidance in matters of love, finance, and career. The astrology site Co-Star says “This generation is wrapping itself in the blanket of the zodiac to try and make sense of a world that seems to be coming apart at the seams.” There is a growing interest in astrology among millennials.

In today's world, when people reject the Bible and its teachings they are left with no help in making critical decisions. In that void, they seek out unhealthy and destructive substitutes. There may be a growing interest in astrology as a place for people to find answers in life, but it is as harmful and misleading as ever. Source: Saturday Evening Post, July/August 2018, page 16.

CHINA FORCES ATHEISM. Since coming to power in 2012, President Xi Jinping has launched a drive to subjugate both Islam and Christianity to government control and to limit their activity. China forces atheism by installing Chinese flags wherever there is a minaret or a cross and pressuring people to embrace the Atheist Communist Party. There has been a dramatic expansion of China's surveillance apparatus using facial recognition and artificial intelligence to weed out religious leaders and to reward loyalty to the Atheist Communist Party.

It is going to be important for religious leaders and missionaries in China to use apologetic material like ours to combat the government propaganda machine. The volume of mail we are getting from Chinese students has dramatically increased. One student suggested that if we would learn Chinese, we could not handle all of the opportunities there would be to teach the gospel. As China forces atheism, we are working on that idea.

Picture credit:
© mikeledray. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© MicroOne. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.