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from Does God Exist? 1st Quarter 2019

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).

CLAYTON MUSEUM ADDS CHILDREN'S SECTION. Foster Stanback is a collector of artifacts of historical significance. In 2015 he established a museum in York, Nebraska, to house many of those artifacts. Because of our long association with Foster, he honored our work together by naming it the Clayton Museum of Ancient History.

The Clayton Museum houses an amazing collection of items from the time of Christ and earlier focusing on ancient Mesopotamia and the Roman Empire. The oldest artifacts go back approximately 5,000 years. The displays help us to understand the conditions and way of life that existed in biblical times and during the time of Christ.

The museum has had over 10,000 visitors, including many school groups. They have added a section devoted to children, with interactive displays and a variety of kid-friendly exhibits. It is located on the York College campus in York, Nebraska. Parking and admission are free. You can call for information or to schedule a tour (402) 363-5748 or https://www.claytonmuseumofancienthistory.org/.

STAR-SPANGLED BANNER VERSE 4. Most people are not aware that the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States, has four verses. One has to wonder what would happen at a sporting event if someone sang all four verses, especially verse four which goes like this:

The flag of United States of America.
  • O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
  • Between their loved homes and the war's desolation.
  • Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
  • Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
  • Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
  • And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
  • And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
  • O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINE LAWSUIT. Homeopathy is a medical system based on the belief that a substance that causes disease in a healthy person can cure a sick person if it is diluted enough.

Some religious groups embrace homeopathy or the related naturopathy believing that God created all life with the ability to heal itself. They frequently quote Genesis 9:1-3 as the starting point for the need for plants and minerals to sustain human health, because the meat now included in human diets would not fill the medical requirements. They also quote Acts 10:9-16 as part of the change that took place in the human diet that made it necessary for plants and minerals to provide supplements.

There is no doubt that nutrition is a part of good health, and supplements can be useful in maintaining health. But whether a plant or mineral could replace the effectiveness of penicillin or modern antibiotics is debatable. Some today are making claims about homeopathic medicine for curing disease with no scientific support.

CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the United States, and they promote homeopathy by placing homeopathic remedies on their shelves alongside scientifically-proven medications. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) on June 29, 2018, filed a lawsuit against CVS. They told the Superior Court of the District of Columbia that homeopathy is a pseudoscience and that CVS is in violation of the Consumer Protection Procedures Act by deceiving their customers about the effectiveness of homeopathic products.

Greed and a lack of integrity among promoters of homeopathic cures have caused a lot of pain and a few deaths among religious people who think homeopathy is a biblical injunction. Read all labels carefully and pay attention to data offered by medical organizations before trusting any drug or supposed medication.

COLORADO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION TARGETED JACK PHILLIPS AGAIN! The state of Colorado refuses to stop harassing Jack Phillips for his Christian faith. A few months ago we reported on how the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is targeting Jack Phillips. Mr. Phillips owns a business called Masterpiece Cakeshop. Jack is an artist, and he expresses his art in finely-crafted cakes for special occasions. Jack and his wife are also deeply committed Christians, and the “Master” in the cake shop's name reflects his Master, Jesus Christ. He wants every piece of art he designs to reflect his faith as he serves others.

When a same-sex couple asked him to create a cake for their wedding, he respectfully declined. Doing so would violate his deeply-held religious conviction that marriage is between a man and a woman. He would create a cake for those customers for another occasion, but not for their wedding. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission punished him severely and accused him of acting like the Nazi's or the segregationists of the past.

After years of litigation, in June 2018 the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips by a vote of 7 to 2. Phillips was freed from years of legal troubles. But not for long. On the day the Supreme Court took up his case in June of 2017, an attorney called the Masterpiece Cakeshop. He requested Jack to create a cake for him that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside to celebrate his gender transition from male to female. Jack's Christian faith told him that he could not do that, and he politely declined. The lawyer filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

The commission did not act on that complaint until after they had lost the first case before the Supreme Court, but now they are targeting Jack Phillips again. Obviously, the lawyer who requested the blue and pink cake was setting him up. It is just as apparent that the state of Colorado is out to destroy Jack's business and attack his faith. The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit against the state officials and filed a preliminary injunction with a federal court to stop the harassment by the state.

OPIOID CRISIS AND FAITH. Between 2001 and 2016 there was a 345% increase in opioid-related deaths in the United States. In New Hampshire, opioid deaths exceeded highway deaths. We cannot overstate the magnitude of the opioid crisis in the United States. Why is this happening, and what can we do about it?

Doctors prescribe the drugs for many people due to pain from an accident or surgery. Some never manage to get off the drugs, adding more and more to achieve a level of comfort they feel necessary. Many get opioids by raiding someone's medicine cabinet or buying them on the street or from a friend or associate who is selling the drugs.

Having a strong faith in God is not a guarantee that a person will not have an opioid addiction problem. However, churches do have a unique opportunity to provide education about opioid addiction to a broad cross-section of society. People with strong religious faith also can be agents to help others get out of addiction.

Christians Against Substance Abuse (CASA) offers courses and a nationwide list of halfway houses. They also provide a directory of Faith-Based Substance Abuse Recovery and Support Groups in the United States. They have an extensive prison ministry that we work with in our own apologetics prison courses. You can see more on their website at kingscrossingprisonministries.org.

HARVESTING ORGANS FROM PRISONERS. Jesus dealt with the poor, the down-trodden, and those that society might deem as “unfit.” One fundamental belief of Christianity is that every individual is of value, no matter what the circumstance. That includes prisoners.

An arrested prisoner is holding bars in a prison cell.

Communist China has always been an opponent of Christian values and teaching. It has now been revealed that Chinese doctors have forcibly removed the organs of prisoners for transplanting into visitors who come to China for organ transplants.

If you view humans as just animals no different from any other, and you consider some humans to be unproductive in society, why not use them as you would pigs to get organs that can enable the “fit” to live longer? Christian values are critical in medical ethics. China is an excellent example of what happens when these values are not used, and atheist values are applied. The result is such detestable practices as harvesting organs from prisoners for financial gain.

CRISPR AND THE GHOST OF EUGENICS. In 1927 Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated: “Three generations of imbeciles is enough.” He was explaining the court's support of a Virginia program of involuntary sterilization in a case identified as Buck vs. Bell. The Virginia law and others like it in other states compelled the involuntary sterilization of those people deemed genetically inferior. More than 60,000 people in the United States were sterilized in compliance with the laws the Supreme Court upheld. It was connected to the eugenics movement.

The concept of eugenics goes back at least to the ancient Greeks, but it became a popular movement in Europe and North America in the early twentieth century. Adolf Hitler used the concept of eugenics to justify his promotion of one superior racial group and to eliminate the inferior groups.

The logo of the Second International Congress
on Eugenics in 1921

Today the concept of using science to produce superior human beings is even more realistic because of a gene-editing tool called CRISPR. Dr. Henry Greely of Stanford University says that CRISPR “might one day be used to engineer humans who are more intelligent, beautiful, or athletic.”

The potential for good with CRISPR is enormous. It may be possible to cure genetic diseases or to produce useful new food sources. The problem is that gene editing can also be used for evil purposes.

So what will CRISPR be used for — enormous good, or enormous evil? It is essential that brilliant young Christians become involved in science. They must be involved not only in the research but also in how to use the products of the research.

CLEVER PLANETS. We have often mentioned many of the conditions that must exist to make a planet habitable. The number is large and growing as science learns more about Earth's special life-supporting features. Now NASA has awarded $7,700,000 to Rice University to conduct a five-year study to see what it takes to create a “recipe for a habitable planet.” The project has been named CLEVER Planets, an acronym for Cycles of Life-Essential Volatile Elements in Rocky Planets.

The research team will include experts in astrophysics, atmosphere and climate science, geology, geochemistry, geophysics, and organic chemistry from NASA and major universities. This will be the most in-depth study of what it takes to create a habitable planet.

The lead investigator of CLEVER Planets, Rajdeep Dasgupta of Rice, wrote: “A recipe for life as we know it requires essential elements like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur.” Of course, that is not all that is required to create a recipe for a life-supporting planet. You also need liquid water, the right temperature with stable conditions, a proper atmosphere, and shielding from dangerous radiation. Having an atmosphere requires a planet of the right size to have the right amount of gravity to sustain an atmosphere. To have liquid water and the right temperature requires that the planet must be the right distance from the right kind and size of star. The planet needs a magnetic field to shield from dangerous particles coming from the star. To have a magnetic field, magnetic elements must exist inside the planet. The list goes on and on.

We look forward to seeing the results of the CLEVER Planets study five years from now. The bottom line is that it is very, very difficult to get all of the right ingredients required to create the recipe for a habitable planet. Earth is an exceptional place in the universe. But as we have said before, if there is any form of life anywhere else in the universe, that has nothing to do with the existence of God. We believe in a God who can do anything he chooses to do in keeping with his nature.

SCIENCE CREDIBILITY AND MEDIA REPORTING. Can you trust scientific reports? The Week for September 14, 2018, featured an article about a two-year study of scientific experiments reported between 2010 and 2015. The purpose was to examine science credibility by seeing if the studies contained bias by the researchers. In other words, were the researchers trying to prove their theories by finding false positives.

The people conducting the study examined 21 high-profile experiments and found further research confirmed only 13 of the 21. The problem here is not science, but the way funding is done and how the media treats research reports. To get funding, you have to get results. The media reports flashy results which people use to back up what they want to believe. A headline describing the results of a research study may appear in the media and get worldwide distribution. When later scientific investigations find the result was incorrect, the media rarely reports that the first study was bogus.

An interesting example of this was a report on the beneficial results of drinking alcohol. Several studies suggested beneficial effects from drinking small amounts of alcohol, but follow-up studies showed that as little as one drink a day increases the incidence of health problems.

The same page in The Week that reported on science credibility issues contained the information on alcohol dangers along with follow-up data on the damaging effects of marijuana. We need to be careful not to take a sensational headline in a major newspaper as proof of anything until later studies have verified it.

Picture credit:
© © Seamartini. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© vchal. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.