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Return to May/June 2014 articles.

News and Notes for May/June 2014
from Does God Exist? May/June 2014

BILL NYE AND KEN HAM. I am not in favor of debates. The recent debate between Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” and Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum, is a good demonstration of why I oppose debates. Nye has been a popularizer of science for children for many years. He is articulate, speaks kindly, has a good sense of humor, and a good understanding of science. He is incredibly ignorant of the Bible, and seems to assume that Ken Ham represents all Christians. Ken Ham is abrasive, aggressive, and dogmatic in his presentations of his denomination's theology and how it deals with scientific evidence. Atheist publications are saying “Nye won easily.” Many creationist magazines are saying that Ham “settled the argument once and for all.” Because Nye appealed to the human senses and the reality of how science has contributed to our well being, and because Ham used the Bible as his major source of rebuttal to Nye's science material, the debate was almost useless. Neither Nye nor Ham made coherent arguments for their positions. We have been flooded with e-mails from young people who feel that Nye won them over, and no e-mail from an atheist indicated they learned anything from what was presented. Debates do not offer objective evidence and the outcome is badly tainted by the skill of the debaters, not by who has the truth. In this case, it did not seem that either debater had the whole truth.

THIRD VAN ALLEN RADIATION BELT FOUND. There is a constant tug-of-war battle going on between the earth's gravitational field and magnetic field. The objects involved are particles from space that have a charge. Gravity pulls these particles into the earth, and the magnetic field of the earth pushes them away. The charged particles come from the sun, other stars in the cosmos, and what is left over from the explosions of stars and other objects in space. The heavier particles orbit close to the earth. The lighter particles, such as hydrogen ions, can be as far out as 40,000 miles. In February 2013, NASA announced it had discovered a third belt of particles which may be the result of energy changes in the sun working on the other belts. The magnetic properties of the earth are important to all of us, and they are part of the design that is built into the wonderful planet on which we live. Source: Discover, January/February 2014, page 88.

ABORTION RATE DROPS. The Guttmacher Institute, which is an abortion rights group, released a scientific study on February 3 showing that there was a 13% decline in abortions from 2008 to 2011 causing the abortion rate in the United States to be the lowest since the legalization of abortion in 1973. There is no single thing that has caused this drop. The birthrate in 2012 was the lowest on record, and advances in contraception have also affected the rate of unwanted pregnancies. If you believe that a child comes into existence at conception, then infanticide is a part of our culture and 1.1 million abortions were recorded in 2011. The dropping of the abortion rate does offer some hope that there is a third choice in the abortion dilemma, and that is to reduce the abortion rate to zero, or as close to zero as possible. Source: Time, February 17, 2014, page 18.

BUILT IN AVERSION TO SNAKES? Recent studies of the brains of primates have shown that there is a specialized visual center in the brain that responds to a view of snakes. Neuroscientists implanted electrodes in the pulvinar section of the brain of macaque monkeys, and these areas responded to the visualization of geometric shapes, faces, hands and snakes. There was a 40% greater response to snakes by the pulvinar section. One has to be reminded of the enmity described in Genesis 3:15. Isabelle Blanchette who was involved in the study stated, however, that “in humans, higher brain processes, such as learning, may influence our behavior just as much as our instinctive snake sense.” Source: Science, 1 November 2013, volume 342, page 541.

SNAKE DNA AND LEG LOSS. Snake A study by Harvard researchers of snake DNA has shown that snakes have a nearly complete set of Hox genes, which lay out body plans for animals. However, they are missing a gene called Hox-D12 which is important for limb development in four legged creatures. This matches the curse of Genesis 3:14 very well and seems to be what God used to make the punishment for the serpent. Source: Science News, January 11, 2014, page 7.

CEMETERY CENSORSHIP. A preacher's wife wanted to include the word “Jesus” on her headstone in Sterling, Colorado, in the city-owned cemetery. The director and city officials refused to allow the name of “Jesus” to appear on the headstone because “the name might offend somebody,” and likened it to putting a swastika on a headstone. Source: Citizen magazine, January/February 2014, page 9.

THE VALUE OF AN ASTEROID. One interesting use of objects in space may be mining the wealth of minerals to supplement what is available on earth. God may have provided for our needs in the future by having these mineral resources available in space. Recent measurements show that a 20-foot-wide asteroid would have 100 tons of water, 100 tons of carbon compounds, and 90 tons of metals — mostly iron and nickel. Source: Astronomy, March 2014, page 26.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ATTACKS BIBLE ON CAMELS. Dromedary camelBactrian camel A recent article has appeared in National Geographic claiming that there were no domesticated camels at the time of the biblical patriarchs, therefore, the Bible has to be in error. On Wikipedia, you will find a heavily documented article from a wide range of sources about the history of camels. First of all, you do not have to be the origin of something to use it. Fireworks were invented by the Chinese, but were used all over the world at various times after that. The fact that Americans did not invent fireworks does not mean Americans did not use them. The camel was domesticated in Somalia and southern Arabia around 3,000 B.C., and in Iran by 2,500 B.C. Bactrian camels were ridden in 1,200 B.C., and saddles exist to verify this. When camels are being used all around Israel, it is a pretty safe bet that they came into Israel and were traded for and purchased by locals. It seems that this is a witch-hunt by National Geographic over an issue that has been raised in the past. It is unfortunate that a quality magazine like National Geographic continues to generate very prejudiced and negative press towards the Bible and Christianity.

EUTHANASIA IN BELGIUM. In 2002, the Belgian senate passed a law that allowed physician-assisted euthanasia for any person with physical or emotional pain they considered unbearable. Doctor-assisted deaths in Belgium make up two-percent of all deaths. Twin brothers who were deaf from birth were euthanized when they found that they were also going to lose their useable sight. A 64-year-old woman was euthanized when her depression was deemed incurable. Now the right to be killed is being extended to children as long as parents consent. Source: The Week, December 27, 2013.

POLYGAMY UPHELD BY COURT. One of the problems with the acceptance of same-sex marriage is that once you change the definition of marriage, then any definition of marriage can be accepted. The U. S. District Court in Utah has ruled that the Utah law banning polygamy is a violation of the First Amendment right of freedom of religion. Therefore, the 38,000 fundamentalist Mormons cannot be charged with bigamy. We would expect that similar rulings will come about on group marriage and communal marriage in the near future. Source: Associated Press, December 15, 2013, in the South Bend Tribune, page A11.

RACES AND SPECIES OF HUMANS. Fossils of ancient hominids found in Spain have given enough DNA samples to be able to shed some light on the history of mankind. This find gives scientists DNA that is four times older than what was available previously. Twenty-eight specimens have been found in the area, so a significant sample is available. There are genetic links to the DNA specimens that have been found, with enough common DNA to suggest that all of the human remains found from that area are racially different, but are one species. This again is evidence that Eve was the mother of all living humans. Sources: Science News, December 28, 2013, page 8, and The Week, December 20, 2013, page 17.

LEARNING LANGUAGE IN THE WOMB. One of the sticking points in the abortion debate is the question, “When is a human really a human?” Is it at conception, three months, birth, or when? We have suggested that logically it would seem that the baby is an individual at conception, and all evidence supports that view. One of the evidences of that unique makeup is the fact that, while in the womb, the unborn baby hears and reacts to the outside world. Babies whose mothers watch a soap opera at the same time every day become quiet when the soap opera comes on. Babies think and respond to outside surroundings, and they start doing this at a very early age. Source: Science News, December 28, 2013.

EXORCISM NONSENSE. We often see an article in the newspaper about someone who has killed someone else because of an alleged demon possession. The 2013 movie, The Conjuring, told the story of Roger and Carolyn Perron. They and their five daughters moved into a Rhode Island farmhouse and had a parade of clairvoyant experiences, including demon possession. Movies and television shows like this fan the imaginations of believers and nonbelievers alike. It is important to teach our young people that they are responsible for what they do, and that no force is going to take over against their will and cause them to do something wrong. Demon possession and exorcism as presented in the Bible do not happen today. For more information go to our doesgodexist.tv or doesgodexist.org websites and watch our video (free) on demon possession. It is video number 16 or audio program 23.

ALCOHOL AND MEMORY LOSS. There have been claims that drinking alcohol reduces the chances of heart attacks, but another study has shown that drinking more than two beers a day speeds up memory loss, causing up to six years of loss for that amount of alcohol. Our bodies are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16), and taking care of the temple is important. The consumption of alcohol can do damage to us both physically and mentally. Source: The Week, January 31, 2013, page 18.

NO METHANE ON MARS. One of the indicators of life on a planet is whether there is methane in the atmosphere. Microbes on earth produce 95% of all atmospheric methane. When the space vehicle Curiosity sampled the atmosphere on Mars many scientists thought that it would find significant amounts of methane, suggesting that similar microbes are active on Mars. Only a small trace of methane was found, so the existence of any significant life similar to our planet can be pretty well ruled out. Source: Science News, December 28, 2013, page 30.

THE NEW NATIONAL RELIGION. The Washington Post claims that football is America's national religion. Over 60 percent of all Americans now consider themselves to be fans of football — double the percentage of 50 years ago. Modern sports stadiums function like great cathedrals and “millions of people are passionately devoted to their teams, and their tribal fever rivals that of religious people for their particular denomination or sect.” The article quotes 18th and 19th century clergymen as worrying that religion and sports would vie for loyalty. It is hard not to admit that those concerns are valid today. Can you be loyal to Christ and your favorite football team at the same time? Of course, but priorities become an issue.

WATCHING CREATION. View of earth Nearly every day there is an article speculating about how the earth and moon were formed, and how life came to be as we see it today. What is interesting about all of this speculation is that it becomes more elaborate and opens more questions about the source of the energy and intelligence that is built into the world around us. Can you visualize God flinging an asteroid into a molten earth and breaking off a blob of material, then parking it in orbit around the earth to become the moon? Can you visualize God colonizing the primitive earth with bacterium to produce the oxygen and first cells that man would need to live on earth? The Bible tells us God did the creating, but the details of how he did it are not spelled out. What becomes increasingly obvious is that the complexity of what God did was so far beyond human abilities that we cannot even formulate a good scientific guess as to how it all came about. Science News (February 8, 2014, page 16) has an interesting article on the traces of life that have been found recently in Australia and how many interpretations of that life are known at this point.

BIGFOOT DNA. Bigfoot One interesting area of fringe science is the claims of Sasquatch studies. Veterinarian Melba Ketchum published a paper claiming that she had DNA proof that the North American Sasquatch was a hybrid human-unknown primate. No confirming data from another researcher has been published on this, but Dr. Bryan Sykes, a geneticist at Oxford University has been researching claimed yeti DNA samples in Asia. He has announced common animals for all DNA study claims, including Ketchum's. Between TV commercials and Animal Planet programs on finding Sasquatch, this is a myth that is hard to kill. There are those who seem to feel that this issue has evolutionary connections. If by chance someone found a gorilla-like primate in a remote area of the world, all that would show is that animals have an amazing ability to avoid detection. It would have no significant evolutionary connections. Source: Skeptical Inquirer, March/April 2014, page 11.

SLAVERY ISSUE AGAIN. In their attacks on Christianity, atheists continue to pick on the social issues of our day and attribute them to the Bible. One area that continues to come up is the claim that the Bible teaches slavery. Passages like Ephesians 6:5 – 6; Colossians 3:22; and Titus 2:9 telling slaves to obey and please their masters in all things, are quoted. The object is an attempt to show that the Bible teaches slavery — equating it to the slaving of blacks in the early days of this country, and the human trafficking and sex slaving of today. This totally ignores the role of slavery at the time in which the Bible was written. Romans 6:16 gives us a picture of slavery in Jesus' time: “Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey … .” A slave in Jesus' day was walking through the business district, had money, had a family, and could save up and buy their way out of being a slave. They were not kidnapped and forced to serve against their will. The choice was frequently to either sell yourself as a slave or starve to death. Read Paul's letter to Philemon, especially verses 8 –16 to see how the slave Onesimus was viewed by Paul.

Picture credits:
NASA — modis_wonderglobe.
© Albert Ziganshin. Image from BigStockPhoto.com