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from Does God Exist? 4th 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).

John Clayton

OPPORTUNITY TO STUDY WITH JOHN CLAYTON: Because of the COVID pandemic and age, 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 jncdge@aol.com.

ASTEROID STRIKE: NASA has plotted 1,000 known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs). These are documented boulders of rock and ice over 140 meters across that will pass within 7.5 million kilometers of Earth (about 20 times the distance to the Moon). Were a giant asteroid to strike Earth, the result would be catastrophic. There is evidence that this has happened in the past, probably causing mass extinctions on our planet.

NASA has concluded that none of the asteroids known to astronomers will strike the Earth for at least the next 100 years. God created our planet in such a way that we are protected from destructive agents from outer space. The more we learn about space, the more we see the design and planning involved in creation. Human self-destruction is far more likely than a catastrophic asteroid strike from space.

Reference: NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day for June 30, 2023

A LESSON FROM THE DART EXPERIMENT: In September 2022, NASA steered the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft into an asteroid named Dimorphos, attempting to alter its orbit. The experiment was designed to see if we could change the path of an asteroid moving toward a collision with Earth.

John Clayton

It sounded like a good way to protect our planet from an asteroid impact. The collision did alter the orbit of Dimorphos, which is comforting to know. However, it also caused more potential problems. The Hubble Space Telescope observed 37 previously unseen objects accompanying Dimorphos in its orbit around the Sun. These are boulders probably blasted off from Dimorphos by the DART collision. They are not just little pieces of rock or dust. Some of the boulders are as large as seven meters in diameter. Calculations show that the weight of the 37 boulders adds up to 5,000 metric tons — the weight of 300 gravel-filled dump trucks.

Humans can learn a lesson from this incident. We are not God, and our wisdom and knowledge are incomplete. As God said to Job (Job 38:2), “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” In our day of rejecting God and his Word, we must be reminded that altering the design God built into the creation of everything from galaxies to viruses can have tremendous consequences.

Reference: Science News, August 26, 2023, page 10

John Clayton

SEARCHING FOR ALIEN LIFE: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is searching for signs of alien life in the universe. Life is everywhere on Earth, from frigid climates to arid deserts and ocean depths to mountaintops, but does it exist anywhere else?

Currently, NASA is searching for microbial life on Mars with two robotic rovers, Curiosity and Perseverance. Those rovers are exploring rocks in fossilized waterways on Mars, seeking any indication that microbes once lived there. NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working to develop a Mars sample return mission to bring rocks back to Earth for closer examination.

Astrobiologists are hopeful that Enceladus and Europa, moons of Saturn and Jupiter respectively, might support some form of life now or in the past. The new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is also involved in the search for alien life. It can detect “biosignatures” around exoplanets outside of our solar system. In all these ways, NASA is searching for signs of alien life in the universe.

Heather Graham, a NASA astrobiologist at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, says, “We don't actually know yet how life on this planet began … .” Of course, NASA is looking for some natural explanation of how life began. Graham said we must “roll back that clock to see how life began.” Perhaps some are motivated to search for signs of alien life to show that God is unnecessary. Will science someday find that there is life, even microbial life, elsewhere in the universe? Perhaps, but if there is, God created it since he created the universe.

Reference: “Is There Life Beyond Earth?” on YouTube

LOSING HOPE: One serious problem facing our society today is a lack of hope. Polls show that most Americans think the country's best days are behind us. When asked if the country is going in the right or wrong direction, the vast majority say it is going in the wrong direction. Losing hope creates a downward spiral that only gets worse.

Hope is what you have when you are looking forward to something better. It involves waiting in anticipation of a better day. When people lose hope, they become discouraged because they fear what tomorrow might bring. They may even become angry and vent their frustration on others or themselves. We see that especially among young people.

When young people are being taught that they are mere accidents of evolution and their life has no ultimate meaning, it is not surprising that they are losing hope. When they see no purpose in life and no hope for a better future, we should not be surprised to see them take out their anger on society.

What a difference it can make in the lives of young people if they have the reassurance that they are loved and that their lives have purpose and meaning. However, adults cannot give hope to young people if they do not have it themselves. That is something that Christianity can give. A Christian can look forward to a better day regardless of present circumstances. We know that God is in control and that he loves us, as Jesus taught and demonstrated.

John Clayton

THE GROWING SUICIDE PROBLEM: On August 11, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control released data for 2022, showing 50,000 suicides, a 2.6% increase over 2021. The governmental response to the growing suicide problem has been chiefly hand-wringing, with no reasonable attempt to understand why it is happening. Those of us who work with young people and talk with them regularly can see several causes.

Mental health issues begin at an early age. Children are born with no control over the actions of their parents or the condition of their home situation. The life plan Jesus gave, and which the Bible clearly teaches, is the nuclear family with a mother and father having clear-cut responsibilities in a loving, stable relationship. It is difficult to misunderstand passages like Ephesians 5:28-33 and Ephesians 6:1-4. We hear “experts” and popular figures saying marriage is an outdated tradition. Still, collateral damage from alternatives to the nuclear family includes badly disturbed children, leading to the growing suicide problem.

Kids react to the instability in their homes in various ways. Some want to change their gender thinking that will improve their lives. Others rely on substances that affect their mental state. Whether marijuana, alcohol, or a hard drug, the effect is temporary, and the damage is long-lasting. Kids without a stable family at home look for a substitute at school, in a club, or a gang of peers with the same problems. Those choices are temporary and, in most cases, a dead end. For many, suicide is an easy option.

Instead of supporting the efforts of Christians to address these issues, the government is making it harder for churches to do what Jesus has called us to do. Even prison ministry, which we are heavily involved in, is being subjected to increasing rules and requirements. Governments are regulating Christian adoption and foster care programs out of existence by conditions that violate Christian principles.

Voters must start asking questions about the beliefs of political candidates and how they will address the needs of families and young adults. The alternative is a continually growing suicide problem and other social issues among our young people.

Reference: cdc.gov

John Clayton

AN ASTRONAUT WHO BELIEVES THE BIBLE AND SCIENCE: Astronaut Victor Glover served on the International Space Station and will pilot NASA's Artemis II Mission to the Moon in 2024. Glover is an astronaut who believes in the Bible and science. He talks about how the creation gives evidence for the existence of God.

In The Christian Chronicle, Glover explained his faith in these words:

The Moon is a time capsule for the Earth, and we think it's old — about 4.5 billion years. And my preacher used to say to me, “Yeah, but NASA is wrong because I know the Earth is about 10,000 years old.” I said, “How do you know that?” He walked me through the lineages in the Bible, and I said, “But that doesn't mark any specific time period.” And it doesn't need to because the power of the Gospel is not in a timeline. It's in that message, in that promise, and that promise being kept. So they don't actually work against each other like some people like to claim that they do. I had to navigate that because of my faith and my belief in science. I believe in both, and I don't find them to be in conflict. And I think it's helped me to be an ambassador to both sides.

For 55 years, the Does God Exist? ministry has shown that science is a friend of faith. We have seen much opposition from the religious establishment as we struggle to undo the collateral damage of the rejection of science. Physical evidence continues to reveal the truth of the Bible. Even when it conflicts with human religious tradition, science is in total agreement with what the Bible says. Let us all pray that some who will not listen to us will listen to an astronaut who believes in the Bible and science. Many young souls are at stake in this false conflict between science and faith.

Reference: The Christian Chronicle, July 2023, page 22. 

EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS REQUIRE EXTRAORDINARY EVIDENCE: It is known as the Sagan standard and abbreviated ECREE. Carl Sagan, an American scientist and agnostic, hosted the PBS program Cosmos in the 1980s. He said in the series, “I believe that the extraordinary should be pursued. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” He was talking about claims that aliens from space had visited Earth. But we can apply the principle to more than alien visitations.

What does the Sagan ECREE standard mean? It tells us that when we make an extraordinary claim, we must back it up with extraordinary evidence. How about the extraordinary secularist claim that everything we see came from nothing by means of nothing? If matter, energy, time and space all originated at the “big bang,” and nothing existed before that, where is the extraordinary evidence to back up that claim? Could an eternal God existing outside of time and space be a better explanation for the universe?

If one claims that life originated from non-living chemicals without intelligent guidance, what is the extraordinary evidence for that? Even if scientists succeed in creating life from non-living chemicals in the laboratory (and they are far from doing that), it would merely prove that intelligence can create life from non-life. That is what the Bible has said for thousands of years.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagan_standard

Answers to the CROSSWORD: ACROSS: 3-Purim; 4-clouds; 7-message; 8-willful; 9-loneliness: DOWN: 1-pillow; 2-unjust; 4-carefully; 5-falling; 6-blessing

Picture credit:
© NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap230630.html)
© diy13/Bigstock.com