Return to 1st Quarter 2023 articles.
from Does God Exist? 1st Quarter 2023
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIRD BRAINS AND EFFICIENT NEURONS: In the past, calling someone a “bird brain” was an insult because people believed birds were not very smart. A new study of bird brains by researchers in Germany shows that bird neurons are more energy efficient than those of mammals. For example, pigeon neurons use three times less energy than mammal neurons. Birds are designed to do many things requiring brain power, including flying and singing complex vocalizations.
The lead researcher of this study suggests that the brains of birds are organized so that neurons can more easily exchange signals. Organization does not come out of random chance mutations. It requires an organizer.
The brains of all animals are designed to allow them to live in a particular environment. Humans are unique because we can alter the environment rather than being altered by it. Also, our brains allow activities such as art, music, complex mathematics, worship, and the ability to be taught to think. Our spiritual nature sets us apart and allows our creative activity and our understanding that there is life beyond the grave.
Reference: “Food for Thought” in Scientific American, December 2022.
ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION DURING PREGNANCY: The most destructive recreational drug on the planet is alcohol. The consequences of alcohol consumption are more than tragic accidents. New research on alcohol consumption during pregnancy indicates that the damage of alcohol is more pervasive than anyone believed ten years ago.
Researchers at the University of Vienna have revealed their fetal development studies showing that even one glass of wine per week by the mother can significantly reduce her baby's brain development. The major damage was in the right superior temporal sulcus. That region of the brain involves social cognition and language development.
With careless environmental pollution and recreational drugs, having a healthy baby is more of a challenge than ever before. We cannot expect God to constantly undo what we have done to ourselves, individually and collectively.
LIVING IN FEAR IN TODAY'S WORLD: According to The Boston Globe, 80% of college students are living in fear. The article says that activists and administrators have created an “Us vs. Them” mentality. This applies to race, pronoun usage, and political views creating “intense, persistent, and excessive worry and fear about everyday situations.”
People today are living in fear because they have adopted “survival of the fittest” as their guide for dealing with one another. That means I can denigrate those I deem less fit and treat them as less valuable. All abuse of others is rooted in this belief system. Carried to extremes, it even applies to political differences. Recently a female member of Congress suggested killing a political opponent to advance her concept of democracy. No wonder people are living in fear.
The Christian belief system eliminates living in fear. John writing his excellent dissertation on love in 1 John 4:7-21 says it beautifully: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:18-20). Living in an atheistic world is challenging, and fear reflects that. Therefore, Christian faith and morality are more important than ever, not just on an eternal level but even in our day-to-day lives.
Source: Article in the Boston Globe newspaper and repeated in The Week (10/7/22, page 12)
HOW LONG DOES A MOTHER CARRY HER CHILD? We all know that a mother carries her unborn child for nine months, but most people do not realize that a mother carries her child for decades. That is true even of a woman who chooses to abort her child. Scientists see microchimerism in which fetal cells and DNA are left behind in the mother's body.
The unborn baby is not part of the mother's body and has his or her own DNA. The baby is like a foreign object inside the mother. That is the reason for “morning sickness,” as the mother's immune system tries to reject it. The often repeated slogan “my body, my choice” does not consider that the baby is not part of the woman's body and has no choice in the matter.
The unborn baby gets nourishment through the placenta as it connects to the mother's arteries. However, the baby can also shed some cells and DNA, which enter the mother's bloodstream as early as two weeks after conception. Those fetal cells can find a home in various organs of the mother, including her heart and brain. Since those cells are from a different person, the result is microchimerism. The woman has part of another person remaining inside her body.
Scientists have found that a mother carries her child for decades as the baby's cells remain in her. If she has more than one child, she can retain cells from each of them in her body. Just as science has found that stem cells can be helpful in medical treatments because they can form into different kinds of cells, the potent cells from the baby can become pancreas, heart, liver, or brain cells in the mother. Or they can become skin cells. Scientists have found cells from the baby in the scar tissue after a caesarian birth, indicating that the baby's cells are helping the mother to heal.
Not only do fetal cells continue in the mother after normal births, but also they are left behind when there is a miscarriage or medical abortion. Surprisingly, studies indicate that more cells are left in the mother after an induced abortion than in a natural miscarriage.
This means that a mother carries her child for decades. As mothers carry with them a part of their children, there is good reason for the bonding between mother and child. Even when a woman decides to end her baby's life before birth, she still carries some of that child with her. Being a mother is a precious blessing, and abortion is not something to be taken lightly.
References: National Institutes of Health, “Health Shots” on National Public Radio, and Ariel Precision Medicine
JESUS CHRIST CHALLENGES PEOPLE TO THINK: People today often refuse to use evidence to make decisions on everything from personal relationships to politics. One of the unique things we find in the Bible is that Jesus Christ challenges people to think. In the book of Matthew, Jesus uses the phrase “What do you think” five times (17:25; 18:12; 21:28; 22:17; 22:42). Jesus never called his listeners to blind acceptance or thoughtless adherence to authority. In biblical Christianity, faith is not an emotionally-based response.
Jesus Christ challenges people to think, but as long as people refuse to use their minds and examine the evidence, skepticism and chaos will result. Throughout the Bible, we find encouragement to look at the evidence and know that God is real and that his Word should guide our lives. Read Psalm 19:1; Psalm 53; Psalm 139:14; Proverbs 8; Matthew 6:26-30; Acts 17:22-31; and Romans 1:18-20. God rewards those who seek to understand and never calls us to blind acceptance.
THE CONCEPT OF INFINITY AND GOD: The biblical description of God as omnipresent, omnipotent, and eternal involves concepts that skeptics refuse to accept. The foundation of the atheist worldview rejects an infinite eternity in heaven. Likewise, mathematicians rejected the concept of infinity for many years until the end of the nineteenth century. However, infinity exists, and mathematics does not make sense without it.
Euclid's geometry deliberately excluded the idea of anything infinitely small or infinitely large. The Greeks believed they could describe the entire universe with positive rational numbers. However, the value of pi (π) requires an irrational number with infinite decimal representation. The value of pi is an irrational number because even at 100 places, it does not end. The digits after the decimal point are infinite.
Legend says that Hippasus, the first to prove that irrational numbers exist, was executed when he published his proof. The scholarly group known as the Pythagorean brotherhood was vocal about naturalism, denying the existence of the infinite. Eventually, it became evident that their view of the cosmos was impossible. And yet here in the twenty-first century, we find that denial of the concept of infinity is still the thinking of those who reject the biblical concept of God.
You cannot understand your life as having an infinite purpose if you reject the concept of infinity. The concept of the infinite is contained in the statement of Jesus in Matthew 20:16, “So the last will be first, and the first last,” and Matthew 16:25, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has set eternity in the hearts of humanity. The biblical concept of eternity makes sense, and the history of mathematics strongly supports it.
Reference: “Mathematical Theology” by Doug Phillippy in the Fall 2022 issue of God and Nature
PLANT SURVIVAL AND HOW IT WORKS: Have you ever thought about the fact that everything in the natural world directly or indirectly eats plants? Not just animal life but bacteria, viruses, and pathogens also attack plants. Plant survival depends on an immune system.
Animals are protected by specialized immune cells that travel through the bloodstream to a place of infection. A plant does not have a bloodstream, so each plant cell synthesizes proteins to attack an infection while suppressing the normal functions of photosynthesis and growth.
A plant must perform a complex balancing act. The infection will destroy the plant if it does not produce enough defense proteins. If the plant produces too much defense protein, its growth will be stunted. Plant biologists are still trying to understand how plants can resist infection while still growing and carrying on their normal functions. That ability is built into the design of the plant's DNA. When you look at a plant, you might think it is a simple thing whose functions we understand. However, every plant is a showcase for the wisdom and design of God.
Reference: The National Science Foundation in its Research News for September 20, 2022, and the journal Cell
NANOFIBRILS OF SPIDER SILK: Would you like to see a material that is stronger than steel and can stretch ten times more than Kevlar? If so, look at a spider web and marvel at the design of the microscopic nanofibrils of spider silk.
Researchers have used atomic force microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance to examine the molecular structure of spider silk as never before. The nanofibrils of spider silk are fibers with diameters in the nanometer range, 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. Spiders generate them using proteins. At a molecular level, scientists saw six distinct protein substructures making up the nanofibrils of spider silk, giving it incredible strength and resilience. They hope their research will lead to the development of high-performance synthetic fibers.
Studying God's design in nature has led to an incredible number of things that make our lives more comfortable and enable us to solve some of the problems we face. Romans 1:20 tells us we can know there is a God through the things he has made. One of those things is the nanofibrils of spider silk.
References: National Science Foundation and William & Mary University
LEGALIZING ASSISTED SUICIDE: The Netherlands has been a trailblazer in legalizing abortion, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia. For many years, that country has had a euthanasia law that allows doctors to actively kill a patient with an injection of drugs. Last year, a group called the Cooperative Last Will filed a suit to force the Dutch government into legalizing assisted dying. This would provide patients with a lethal substance they take themselves. On December 14, 2022, the Hague District Court rejected the group's arguments affirming Netherlands' ban on assisted suicide. The Cooperative Last Will was making plans to appeal the decision.
From a purely secular standpoint, there are obvious problems with this issue. There are times in life when you hit rock bottom, and dying can look pretty good. However, people thinking of taking their own lives are not considering what their death does to those who love them and their obligations to society.
The Christian view of life and the physical body is explained in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. It tells us that the body is the temple of the Spirit and expresses God's displeasure with anyone destroying it. Therefore, legalizing assisted suicide to allow distressed individuals to end their lives is filled with problems.
Reference: Mike Corder in an Associated Press article for October 11, 2022. Featured in the South Bend Tribune for that date on page 6A.
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