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Return to September/October 2016 articles.

News and Notes for July/August 2016
from Does God Exist? September/October 2016

SUICIDE DATA SHOWS HUGE INCREASE. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data from 1999 to 2014 showing a 24 percent growth in suicides in that 15 year period. The highest growth took place among girls from the ages of 10 to 14 showing a 200 percent surge. Adolescent psychiatrist Victor Fornari attributes this to “teens suffering from anxiety and depression influenced by websites and blogs dedicated to dark topics and self-destructive coping mechanisms.” We would suggest that the lack of active faith is a major contributor to this as well. (Source: The Week, May 13, 2016, page 20.) Also, the National Center for Health Statistics has released data for suicides showing that for ages 75 and older the rate has climbed 24 percent from 1999 to 2014. For men from 45 to 64 the rate has climbed 43 percent and for women in that same age group it has risen by 63 percent. Male suicides are far more common than female suicides overall. Those over 75 have 40 suicides per 100,000 for men but only 5 per 100,000 for women. We would suggest that not being involved in the work of the church is a major factor in these numbers. Younger males have half as many suicides as age 75 and up. Sitting around feeling useless and watching negative things on television is enough to discourage anyone. Seniors need to be involved! Get your senior group doing something at your congregation! Source: AARP Bulletin, June 2016, page 4.

MARILYN VOS SAVANT RESPONDS TO WHY WE EXIST. In her column in Parade magazine (May 29, 2016, page 10), the woman who is claimed to have the highest IQ and star proponent of Mensa, made an interesting observation about religion. “What is the reason we are here? I think it depends on your spiritual beliefs. If you have a religion, it provides the answer. But if you don't believe in a god, the question contradicts your thinking. Having a reason implies having a purpose, which indicates an intelligent being (for cognitive power, etc.) with intent. That's what people call a god. So if you don't believe a god exists, you can't believe a reason exists. You must settle for assuming we got here through some natural process, and that's that.” We would add that not knowing your purpose for existing leaves you unable to deal with the pain and suffering in life. That could be a reason for the increase in suicide mentioned above.

TEEN BIRTH RATES DROP. The Christian Science Monitor reports that teen birth rates have fallen 61 percent since 1991. The percentage of teen females who are sexually active declined from 51 percent to 43 percent between 2006 and 2010. The authors of the study suggest that the other cause of the drop in teen births is access to reliable birth control. Source: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/USA-Update/2016/0429/Teen-pregnancies-at-all-time-low.-Is-peer-influence-responsible.

TEEN ABUSE — A CONTINUING ISSUE. NEA Today magazine (Spring 2016, page 16) has an interesting article written for teachers about abuse in romantic relationships among teenagers. It reports that one in three adolescents say they have experienced some form of abuse — physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal — in their romantic relationships. Loveisrepect.org has a hotline which 20,000 teens reached out to in 2015. We suggest that when God's plan for love, marriage, and sex are not followed that control and ownership becomes a major theme of relationships. Teachers are locked into the values of our secular society in trying to deal with what goes on outside lockers in a typical high school hallway.

A satellite view of the Americas

THE EARTH KEEPS GROWING. Every day 60 tons of meteoritic dust falls to Earth. In a billion years, that would be two trillion tons of material. If you think that is something to worry about, just realize that number would be about one three-hundred-millionth of Earth's mass, so it is not dangerous to our survival. It does, however, add useful trace elements to the earth. This may be another design feature of Earth we are just beginning to understand. Source: Astronomy, June 2016, page 19.

ANCIENT BABYLONIANS HAD HIGH-LEVEL MATH. When you read the book of Daniel in the Bible, you see a great emphasis on education and intellectual skills. A recent discovery of a tablet dated to 325 B.C. contains inscriptions showing that the motion of Jupiter across the night sky was calculated using a system of precalculus. Dr. Mathieu Ossendrijver from Humboldt University in Berlin, who made the discovery, says the find is astounding. It uses a graphic technique of plotting velocity against time. Archeologists know that Marduk was the patron god of the Babylonians and that Jupiter was regarded as a celestial manifestation of Marduk. Their religious beliefs led them to intense study of Jupiter. For Christians, the find simply highlights the conditions that Daniel found himself in during his time in Babylon. Source: Dallas Morning News, January 29, 2016, page 14A.

CATHOLIC PRIEST ABUSE PROBLEMS REFLECT IGNORANCE OF ISSUE. The Pennsylvania Attorney General released a report in February of sexual abuse of children that revealed that the diocese's bishop created a payment chart to guide how much victims would receive from the church. The report listed fondling over clothes $10,000 up to $25,000. Fondling under clothes up to $40,000. Forced oral sex would pay up to $75,000 and forced sodomy or intercourse up to $175,000. The idea that the sexual abuse of children depends on what is done to the child grossly oversimplifies the long term effect of abuse. It suggests an incredible ignorance of how young minds are shaped or altered by highly personal experiences of any kind. Source: Associated Press release by Joe Mandak, February 29, 2016.

IMPACT OF PORNOGRAPHY. Closely related to the abuse mentioned above is growing evidence that men are especially influenced by viewing pornography. It affects their ability to function sexually in the future. One study showed that 83 percent of U.S. college men who viewed mainstream pornography were more likely to commit rape or sexual assault. Another set of studies has shown that up to a third of men under 40 who were active in watching pornographic videos were dysfunctional in sexual relationships later in life. God never intended for the healthy, beautiful relationship between a husband and wife to be contaminated by pornography in the minds of either or both. Like a lot of things, when we do not do it God's way, we end up with major personal problems. Source: The Week, April 22, 2016, page 19.

SCOTTISH REJECTION OF RELIGION. Scotland has a long history of religious conflict. When we were there, we found people to be interested in God but not in the “church.” A recently published government survey called “Scottish Social Attitudes” shows that 52 percent of Scottish adults say they have no religious affiliation. We would suggest the same rejection of religion exists in the United States. That does not mean these folks are atheists, but they are weary to the point of rejection of what is done by organized religion in the name of God. Source: South Bend Tribune, April 6, 2016, page 3B.

GLOBAL WARMING DATA. One of the reasons there is skepticism about the reality of global warming is that local evidence seems to contradict it. In 2015, for example, Antarctica had the most ice coverage it has had in 30 years. We have seen several articles referring to this fact as evidence that global warming is a scam. What people do not realize is that this is due to local wind shifts, snowfall, and changes in ocean currents. An example of this fact is that the Arctic Ocean lost ice three times faster than the Antarctic was gaining it. There is no question about whether global warming is happening or not — it is. The real issue is whether this is caused entirely by humans and whether we can change it. Global warming has happened in the past. It even happened when there were no humans on the planet. We may be contributing to it, but we are not the sole cause. We can affect the rate at which it happens, and we need to prepare for its consequences. Making a political football out of it on one side or the other does not benefit anyone. Source: Smithsonian, March 2016, page 112.

PETA AND ANIMAL “SELFIES.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has sponsored numerous lawsuits all A dog showing the selfie he took.based on the assumption that animals and humans are equals and that all animals have the same rights as humans. In a recent case, a wildlife photographer named David Slater set up his camera near a group of black macaque monkeys on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia so the monkeys could trip the shutter and take pictures of themselves. Slater then took the pictures and used them in an article in the Daily Mail and in a book titled Wildlife Personalities. Slater owned the copyright on these items. In September of 2015, PETA filed suit for copyright infringement saying the monkeys owned the pictures. The biblical concept of humans being responsible for ruling over God's creation (Genesis 1:26 – 28) is at odds with denying human uniqueness. While PETA lost this suit because the president and Congress have not extended copyright laws to animals, that is probably in our future. (Source: Reader's Digest, May 2016, page 25) In a related story, it has been interesting to watch the case of the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was shot because a three-year-old child fell into the cage and was being handled by the ape. There has been a general outcry against the zoo, but virtually no expression of concern for the well-being of the child. One wonders what the animal activists would want the zoo managers to do? Apparently killing the child would be preferable to killing the gorilla in their view.

DRIVING DEATHS DOUBLE IN STATES LEGALIZING MARIJUANA. Washington state legalized the sale of marijuana in 2012. Data from 2014 shows that 17 percent of all fatal accidents in that year involved marijuana. It was involved in 8 percent of all fatal accidents before legalization. The study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety warns that THC (the main chemical in marijuana) affects everyone differently and is dangerous because of that. Source: The Week, May 27, 2016, page 21.

MORE FLOOD TABLET EVIDENCE. In 1872 a fragment of a tablet was found at Nineveh (present-day Iraq) which contained a story almost identical to the biblical account of Noah. This was part of a 12-tablet Epic of Gilgamesh. It had been part of the library of the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal (668 to 627 B.C.). Since that fragment was found, more than a dozen cuneiform tablets have been found which have part of the flood account in them. The oldest of those tablets predates the earliest biblical manuscripts by a thousand years. There is too much evidence to dismiss the flood as an Israelite myth. Source: Archaeology, May/June 2016, page 31.

RENEWED ATTENTION TO OLDEST CAVE ART. In 1994 in Chauvet, France, a group of charcoal and red pigment cave paintings was discovered. Similar paintings had been found at Lascaux and so it was assumed that the Chauvet paintings were of the same age. Recent sampling has shown that the Chauvet paintings are some 14,000 years earlier. This makes the paintings of lions in Chauvet the oldest paintings known. What is interesting is that the paintings are beautifully done and highly complex, and they have lasted in the cave for over 30,000 years. Chlorine isotope dating and carbon dating give the same results. The message is that from the earliest days on Earth, humans have expressed themselves in artwork of high sophistication. There is really no such thing as primitive art. Source: Archeology magazine, July/August 2016, page 12.

MORE GENETIC EVIDENCE FOR THE ONENESS OF THE HUMAN RACE. The media confuses human history by tending to attach the word “species” to every new find that is made. In 2010, for example, fossils of early humans were found in Denisova Cave in Siberia. The media labeled them “Denisovans” and referred to them as a new species of humans. The scientific literature shows that the finds in Denisova were a racial branch from the Neanderthals and that modern humans contain DNA from both. The A group picture of people from various races.variations in genes can be complicated. A gene that can cause a problem in one population can be a benefit in another. The classic example is the gene that causes sickle cell anemia. The gene is destructive but provides immunity to malaria which is a much bigger problem in some places in the world. Recent discoveries show that a gene which causes hypercoagulation leading to blood clots also accelerates wound healing, which is a huge issue in some populations. God made humans special, but he built into us the capacity to live in a wide variety of environments. Throughout time that capacity has culminated in a wide range of races, Neanderthals being one, and Denisovans being another. Source: Archaeology, July/August 2016, page 33.

STDS SURGE. As our country continues its stampede towards promiscuity among all age groups, there are a number of consequences. Some of those are slow in appearing, but recent announcements by the Centers for Disease Control show that STD growth rates are going through the roof. In Indiana, the syphilis rate has gone up 70 percent in a single year rising from 297 cases in 2014 to 505 in 2015. The national average for syphilis rose 15 percent between 2013 and 2014. This is just one indicator, but experts say that the data for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV are expected to be comparable. The notion that passing out condoms or distributing literature about STDs is going to solve the disease problem is obviously unsupported. Changing the way people think about conducting themselves and how they express their sexuality is the only way to change the consequences of not living as God has called us to live. Source: Associated Press article by Rick Callahan, published in the South Bend Tribune, June 7, 2016.

GMOS AND GOD'S CREATION. There has been a lot of attention paid to what has been called “Genetically Modified Organisms.” Many of us have seen enough science fiction movies that we see a Frankenstein in every advancement made by science in biological issues. The fact is that humans have been modifying the genes of plants for years. Cross-breeding and hybridization are methods that have produced most of the vegetable material we eat. The sweet corn we enjoy today is not the same as the corn grown by the Indians in the American Southwest before Europeans arrived. The National Academies of Sciences has reviewed over 900 studies of GMO crops and has found no difference in the results of eating those crops as compared to others. The bigger risk to us is the chemicals used to kill bugs on plants, or to preserve foods once they have been picked. God gave us the charge to “have dominion … over all the earth” (Genesis 1:26). Part of fulfilling that command is using the materials God gave us, including the DNA of multiple plants and animals, to provide the food we need. We should pay attention to what is added to our foods, but blanket condemnation of science's efforts to feed a starving planet is unchristian and in defiance of God's commands. Source: The Week, June 3, 2016, page 3.

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