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Return to November/December 2013 articles.

Article title: News and Notes for November/December 2013
from Does God Exist? November/December 2013

LEGAL RIGHTS FOR ANIMALS.A bonobo using a stick as a tool to catch termites. There are many subtle consequences of the belief that humans are simply another animal produced by natural means alone. One of those is treating humans like animals and another is treating animals like humans. Those who promote this view range from those who would eliminate zoos and circus acts involving animals to those who would simply stop all uses of animals in medical research and testing. One of the problems is that evolutionary definitions of what is human and what is not, do not work very well. Tool use cannot be used to differentiate between humans and animals because many animals fashion and use tools. Learning and using communication skills does not work because some animals like the bonobos at the Great Ape Trust build sentences and even engage in gossip. No one has shown a true moral code among animals and awareness of right and wrong have not been shown to exist in any animal. Man has an anthropomorphic tendency (to humanize animals) in discussions of this type, but we would suggest that the biblical concept of man being created in the image of God and being charged to take care of the animals works better than naturalistic approaches. Source: The Week, August 9, 2013, page 9.

BOOMER SUICIDE RATES SURGE. Between 1999 and 2010 adult males between 50 and 64 had a suicide rate increase of 45% and women between 60 and 64 had a 60% rise according to a report from the U.S. Government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As our society drifts further and further away from God and the plan God has given us to live by, the rate of misery and frustration continues to rise. At the same time purpose and meaning in life declines. Source: AARP Bulletin, July/August 2013, page 6.

MILITARY CHAPLAINS FOR ATHEISTS. In June of 2013 an amendment was presented to Congress that would have established a chaplaincy in the military for atheists and “humanists.” The effort is sponsored by the Military Association of Atheists and Free Thinkers. Jason Torpy the president of the group claims that 23% of those in the military have no religious preference and chaplains are not providing “positive outreach and support … for all of those beliefs that aren't their own.” He goes on to state that the Humanist Society is recognized as a religious organization by the IRS, so they should have a chaplain. The problem with that argument is that all chaplains are trained to meet every kind of belief system that is in our culture — no one religious organization has its own chaplain. Source: Foxnews.com, July 23, 2013.

MORE DATA SUPPORTING PRE-BIRTH HUMAN QUALITIES. The biggest problem in the abortion debate has been that there has been little discussion about when a human is a human. For many people a human is not human until it is born and breathes its first breath. For those folks abortion should be legal up to birth itself. Others have tried to say that brain waves, or motor responses should define when a baby is a person. There have been a number of studies that have shown that babies are aware of what is going on outside the womb, and a Finnish study recently posted in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that babies pick up language skills prior to week 29 in utero. The Finnish study exposed babies to fake words in utero and the babies were able to distinguish the fake words after having been born. The authors state that prenatal experiences have “a remarkable influence on the brain's auditory discrimination accuracy … .” All evidence says that what we call abortion in America today is actually infanticide. Source: Los Angeles Times (MCT) Amina Khan, September 2013.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE DATA. Atlantic magazine had a cover story titled “The Gay Guide to Wedded Bliss” in its June 2013 issue. Liza Munday, the author of the article uses Scandinavian studies published in Demography in 2006. She did not mention the fact that that study showed a break-up rate among male same-sex marriages that was twice the rate of heterosexual marriages, and for lesbians the break up rate was even 77% higher. The National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study has also found high dissolution rates with lesbian households breaking up 56% of the time while heterosexual breakups by the same study stood at 36%. The children of lesbian parents also have interesting numbers (from the book Growing up in a Lesbian Family: Effects on Child Development by Tasker and Golombok, Guilford Press, page 107): twice as many identify themselves as gay bisexuals compared to the general population, and six times as many have engaged in a same-sex relationship. There is an interesting article on this subject with additional data in Citizen magazine, September 2013, page 21.

NEW DNA STUDIES SHOW WE ARE ALL RELATED. It will not come as a surprise to believers of the Bible, but researchers at USC have shown that by using vast DNA databases it can now be proven that everyone on earth is related. Peter Ralph and Graham Coop are the leaders of this new approach to establishing huge family trees, and these can be used in studying human migrations, understanding languages, and interpreting ecological changes. For details go to www.biosciencetechnology.com/news/2013/08/everyone-earth-related.

A WAY TO CONTROL INTRODUCED SPECIES! In two words “eat them.” A fascinating article in Scientific American by Bun Lai (September 2013, page 41) tells how to control invasive species, that is to “feed them to the world's greatest predator — us.” The view that invasive species are a catastrophe for environments fails to recognize man as being able to be in “the garden of Eden, dress it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Everything from feral hogs to Asian carp can be controlled by just making them food.

EXOPLANET CLAIMS INFLATED.NASA's Kepler Space Telesope One of the interesting areas of study in astronomy in the past several years has been the study of planets orbiting other stars in the galaxy. At the June meeting of the American Astronomical Society it was announced that the measurements made by the Kepler telescope, which has been the main tool of exoplanet measurements, are up to 35% too small. That means that the planets and their stars are significantly larger than was previously believed. What this does is to reduce the number of “earth-like planets” significantly. We want to emphasize again that finding a planet that could have liquid water on it does not mean there is life on that planet, and even if life is found elsewhere than on earth there is no negative reflection on the existence of God or of his design in the cosmos. It is significant however, that the conditions necessary for life and the existence of life itself are very difficult to come by if blind chance is the only mechanism you believe responsible for their existence. Source: Astronomy, October 2013, page 10.

GLOBAL WARMING TAKES ANOTHER TWIST. Thanks to Al Gore and other opportunists, the global warming issue has been clouded in a sea of controversy. Reputable scholars like Richard Lindzen at MIT maintain there is no problem, but most of us can look at the melting of glaciers and the changes in climate and realize some changes are certainly taking place. The point we have made in the past is that earth has had global warming in the past, and man is almost surely not the singular cause of whatever climate changes are taking place. The interesting new twist in the global warming data is that since 1998 there has been a change in the rate of global temperature rising. Ian Plimer who is a professor of earth science at the University of Melbourne says it has stopped, and other climatologists admit there has been a plateau. The reason may be that temperature changes are being stored in the oceans, so atmospheric measurements are not the sole indicators of what is actually going on. Also changes in the sun may be another factor affecting the measurements. The whole global warming controversy simply points to the incredible design of our planet. Scientists are still struggling to even make measurements, much less understand what is causing the change. That tells us the earth continues to speak of God’s wisdom and design. Source: The Week, August 30, 2013, page 11.

MARS STUDY ON LIFE’S ORIGIN AND MOLYBDENUM.Mars The media has focused on a study reported on at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference suggesting that life originated on Mars and came to earth via a meteorite. What is missed by most people is that the basis of the claim in the report is that the element molybdenum, which is rare on earth, is a catalyst that is critical to the process of forming life. Since it is abundant on Mars the suggestion is that life started there. The author of the study, Dr. Steven Benner, points out that only earth had the other conditions necessary for life to thrive. We would suggest that if Mars was the source of one of the chemicals necessary for life it simply means that God gathered all the ingredients together from many different sources to begin the creation process. Source: www.space.com/22577-earth-life-from-mars-theory.html

CHILDREN'S BOOKS NEED CENSORING. We have published children's books for many years. Our series of 15 books for elementary children show that God's wisdom and design is seen in his created things. Meghan Cox Gurdon has been reviewing children's books for the Wall Street Journal since 2005. In a recent article in Imprimis magazine, she indicates that recent books for children and young adults push violence, bloodshed, rape, and abuse in the name of telling kids what to expect, what life is, what culture is, and how we are expected to behave. Some of the books she describes have been accepted by School Library Journal meaning they have endorsement for inclusion in school libraries. One consequence of our society’s rejection of God and of Christian values is that material pushing anti-Christian values and immorality have a smooth passage to the minds of young children. Parents need to be aware of this and look carefully at what their children are given to read. Gurdon's article is available at imprimis.hillsdale.edu/file/archives/pdf/2013_07_Imprimis.pdf.

CREATION DESIGN SHEET AVAILABLE. One step in the cosmological argument for the existence of God is the process of considering all the parameters that are necessary to allow life to exist. In our lecture materials on design, we discuss the process of listing all of the variables, and then we show a simplified mathematical analysis which involves multiplying the individual probabilities together. In that lesson we choose 10 variables, but we have a sheet which we have now made into a booklet that lists 47 variables and why they are critical. You can find this list at doesgodexist.org/Charts/EvidenceForDesignInTheUniverse.html. Or we will mail you a printed copy if you send us a return envelope with a first-class postage stamp on it.

CLAYTON NON-APOLOGETICS LESSONS ON WEB. For the past 15 years John Clayton has been working as a non-paid speaker for the Church of Christ in Dowagiac, Michigan. He speaks to the congregation on weekends when he is not in a lecture series somewhere else. These lessons are available in audio form with an outline in the church bulletin on the church's website which is dowagiaccoc.org and there is an archive going back for many months. Let us emphasize that these are not apologetic lessons, but they are 30-minute lessons recorded from the worship service of the church. They are free of course.

Picture credits:
NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (Cornell University), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute, Boulder)