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from Does God Exist? 3rd Quarter 2022
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 within each of these articles to see the original posts (on the Does God Exist? Today website) for more details. (Some of the articles below have links to outside sources, which may not be available after we have published this page.) There are also many other interesting and informative articles on the Does God Exist? Today 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).
OPPORTUNITY TO STUDY WITH JOHN CLAYTON: Because of the COVID pandemic, we have suspended our lectureship schedule. In place of that, we are providing an opportunity for congregations to have a lectureship electronically. We want to give the readers of this publication the same opportunity to study with John Clayton.
We will mail you a DVD of the first four lectures in our video series. You or your group can watch the four programs writing down questions and challenges to the material. Please send us your questions via e-mail or postal mail, and John Clayton will respond to them. If you are satisfied with that material, return the DVD, and we mail you the next one. Your only cost is the return postage for the DVD.
If you are interested in this opportunity, please send us your name and address, and we will send you the first DVD. Watching the Does God Exist? presentations in the comfort of your home is an excellent way to receive the information without risk from COVID or the inconvenience of driving to a lectureship site. E-mail your request to John Clayton at email@example.com.
ALCOHOL IS A MORE DESTRUCTIVE DRUG: The media and medical profession pay great attention to the damaging effects of illegal drugs, but alcohol is a more destructive drug. In 2019, alcohol directly caused the deaths of almost 79,000 people in the United States from illnesses and car crashes. In 2020, the first full year of the COVID pandemic, more than 99,000 people under age 65 died directly from the use of alcohol. That was a 25.5% increase and more lives than COVID claimed that year for those under 65.
There is a widespread belief among college students that you cannot have fun unless you drink. At the University of Notre Dame, Ted Mandell teaches a class called “Drunk on Film.” The subtitle of the course is “The Psychology of Storytelling with Alcohol and Its Effects on Alcohol Consumption.” Using film clips from movies and alcohol commercials, he helps students understand the problems with drinking and how advertisers and filmmakers seduce them into thinking that excessive alcohol consumption is normal and desirable. Instead, looking at the evidence should convince thinking people that alcohol is a very destructive drug.
Sources: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported in The Week, April 8, 2022, and “Under the Influence” in Notre Dame Magazine, Spring 2022.
DISEASE SPILL BACK FROM HUMANS TO ANIMALS: Many times animals pass diseases to humans. However, recent research by scientists at Georgetown University shows disease spillback from humans to animals. This discovery has implications for the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This virus has shown up in wild white-tailed deer populations in the United States and Canada.
Medical researchers are concerned that the virus may mutate in animal populations providing a reservoir of variants that can spread back to humans. We cannot blame God when a disease occurs in humans that was contracted by improper management of the animals that live around us. The exotic animal trade has brought with it some extreme risks to humans. Not only can animals pass diseases to us, but disease spillback from humans to animals is possible and dangerous.
References: National Science Foundation posting for April 7, 2022, and the National Laboratory of Medicine
REPEATING THE CYCLE OF HISTORY: The value of knowing history is to avoid repeating it, but humans have been slow learners in that regard. The Bible tells us the history of Israel. From the golden calf to corrupt king after corrupt king, Israel repeatedly turns away from God, worships pagan gods, and embraces sinful and destructive practices. They follow the false gods of their neighbors, even to the point of human sacrifice. Over and over, God responds by removing his protection of Israel and allowing foreign nations to overtake them. When Israel returns to God, the covenant is restored until they again turn away, repeating the cycle of history.
So here we are in America today, repeating the cycle of history. Jesus shed his blood to make us one body free of all divisions and human fallacies. As in the past, God promises blessings when we obey his commands. America has prospered and been blessed in many ways, but today Americans are rebelling against God. We see our nation restricting the worship of God, endorsing the dissolution of marriage, killing babies before they are born, and murdering children in school. The church is all that stands against the complete rejection of God's commands. We can break the cycle of history by relying on God's word and following his instructions, individually and as a nation.
TRANSGENDER EXPLOSION: What are the motivations for a gender change? Each case is different, and none of them is simple. For a male, the ability to dominate in female sports competition may be attractive. Others may have feelings of jealousy, inferiority, or distrust. That is especially true if they have experienced abuse. The breakdown of the family unit, the complete abandonment of morals, and the impact of the entertainment industry all contribute to the transgender explosion in America.
However, the transgender explosion is just another symptom of what happens when a culture discards God and his Word. Every past culture on this planet has gone through a similar path. After a period of growth and strength, humans start to rely on immorality, materialism, naturalism, and racism, and the culture eventually collapses. Only Christianity offers any hope that we will not follow the civilizations that have lived and died in the past.
Reference: The Week for June 10, 2022, page 12.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY WON'T SOLVE THE PROBLEM: Critical Race Theory has become a hot issue today because one of America's significant failings has been how racial issues have been handled. Unfortunately, politicians have waded into this struggle and have made “race” the lens through which we view everything. They seem to think they have the power to legislate a solution to this issue.
Critical Race Theory is an ideology that says people are either “oppressors” or the “oppressed,” “good” or “bad,” based entirely on their race. The conflict over Critical Race Theory has resulted from its inclusion in the school curriculum at a very early age. However, teaching Critical Race Theory to first graders is not a solution to racial prejudice in America.
The Bible makes it clear that Christians must treat all people as equals and that we are all one. Therefore, the church must take the lead in educating its members about race while reaching out to the oppressed. Galatians 3:27–28 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor is there male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Changing the hearts of non-Christians is an uphill battle that can be won, but Critical Race Theory will not do it.
HAPPY THE ELEPHANT DENIED PERSONHOOD: Atheists claim that humans are just animals, so animals should have the same rights as humans. On June 14, 2022, the New York Court of Appeals denied a claim by a Florida-based animal rights group called “The Nonhuman Rights Project.” The group had claimed that an elephant named “Happy” in the Bronx Zoo was in illegal custody and should be released because the elephant was equal to humans. After four years of litigation, Happy, the elephant, was denied personhood by the New York Court of Appeals.
If you deny that humans are created in the image of God, then any animal can be considered equal to humans. However, because we are in God's image, humans have spiritual characteristics that animals do not have. For example, we can express creativity in art and music, feel guilt and sympathy, have a complete self-concept, appreciate beauty, and worship God.
The court's chief judge wrote, “Happy, as a nonhuman animal, does not have a legally cognizable right to be at liberty under New York law.” She said that the legislature would have to decide to grant nonhuman animals the same legal rights as humans. The court's decision was five to two, with the two jurists strongly dissenting. So, at least for now, Happy, the elephant, is denied personhood unless the legislature decides to change the law. Interestingly, the New York legislature denies personhood for a human baby up to the moment of birth.
SALT LOST ITS SAVOR: An atheist recently attacked the credibility of the Bible by quoting Matthew 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its savor, how shall it be seasoned? It is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden underfoot.” The atheist complained that Jesus was incredibly ignorant because salt cannot lose its “savor” no matter what happens to it. Reading the whole verse and understanding something about salt makes this attack an excellent example of ignorance about science and faith.
The salt in Jesus' time came from the Dead Sea and contained a mixture of halite (sodium chloride or table salt), gypsum (calcium sulfate used in drywall), and other minerals. The halite part of Dead Sea salt was used for seasoning food or preserving meat, but the gypsum was used for footpaths. This is what Jesus referred to when he said, “the salt has lost its savor,” and his listeners would have understood that.
GAY LIFESTYLE AND MONKEYPOX: You cannot read the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 – 7 and not see that he taught against any violence or malice toward those who reject God and the biblical admonitions on how we should live. By the same token, you cannot read Romans 1:18–32 and not see a rejection of the destructive, immoral behaviors that people practiced. It is true that LGBTQ and gay lifestyle choices are harmful, and one of the consequences of those lifestyles is a vast number of diseases.
In the past, we have seen HIV transmitted from animals to humans by animal/human sexual relationships and then spread by gay lifestyle sexual practices. Now we are witnessing monkeypox cases on the rise. This virus related to smallpox was discovered in monkeys in 1958, with the first known human case in 1970. Medical researchers are now seeing cases in the western world, including the United States. The Centers for Disease Control, on May 23, 2022, revealed that most of the patients in the U.S. have been men who identified themselves as gay or bisexual. Although not actually an STD, monkeypox is connected to sexual contact. This shows again that God's plan for marriage and sexual relationships is the best way to avoid the virus.
Reference: Science News, June 18, 2022, page 6.
CARSON V. MAKIN DISCRIMINATION CASE: On June 21, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a rare decision supporting Christian institutions. The case was Carson v. Makin, in which the court decided that the state of Maine could not discriminate against schools with a religious affiliation. Maine had a tuition aid program for nonsectarian private schools but barred faith-based schools. The Supreme Court invalidated that rule.
This is a complicated issue. As a retired public school teacher, I know the problems created when tax money is divided, so public schools get less funding. The point is not whether tax money should go to private schools but whether, if money is taken away from the public schools, who should get it. Parents who do not want their kids in public schools desire the option of having their tax money go to a school of their choice.
The problem is that public schools get poorer, and teacher quality goes down. The Carson v. Makin ruling is a victory for church-affiliated schools, but the problem for public education continues. The Supreme Court's decision is not over how to manage education but how to eliminate discrimination against Christianity.
THE UNIQUE BOND BETWEEN CHRISTIANS: When I was a promoter of atheism, one thing I envied the most was the unique bond between Christians. As an atheist embracing “survival of the fittest” as a way of life, I was always looking over my shoulder to see what might threaten my security. Coming from that perspective, I was amazed to see Christians making themselves vulnerable. I envied the bond between Christians who were not related and had nothing to gain from those bonds. When Christians were together, they really enjoyed being together. The terms “brother” and “sister” were alien to me as an atheist.
I remember riding with my father several miles from home when a tire blew out. After my father called several work associates with no success, he called a family friend who was a Christian. That man came with a replacement and a jack to change the tire. My father was amazed that anyone would do that, and the Christian friend told my father, “That's how Christians do things.” I am not sure if my father ever comprehended the importance of that statement and its testimony.
In the real world, few people have the strength and resolve to care about others sacrificially. Jesus demonstrated that in the extreme on the cross. Following his example, the unique bond between Christians can show love and care, reaching out to those who do not share their faith. The “bond of peace” and the love of brethren is not just a nice cliché but a vivid apologetic for the validity of the Christian life.
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