News and Notes title
from Does God Exist? January/February 2011

ANNOUNCING A NEW BOOK! We are pleased to announce that a new book is now available from the Does God Exist? program. The book is titled Looking Back and is a history of the first 40 years of the Does God Exist? ministry. This is not an apologetic book, but rather a history of how God used John and Phyllis Clayton from the start of their work in 1968 when they desired to help young people with faith problems, and follows their story to May 2008 when Phyllis finished her journey in this life. This will be of interest to people who have followed the program and know the Claytons. It tells of their kids, problems, successes, failures, and struggles. It will also be of interest to those who want to see how God works through people and in people’s lives. The book can be ordered online at (using a debit/credit card), by calling 574-514-1400, or by mailing a check for $3.00 to John Clayton at 1555 Echo Valley Dr., Niles MI 49120.

SEARCH FOR OTHER EARTHS HAS IMPLICATIONS. A red star known as Gliese 581 apparently has six planets orbiting it. One of the planets is at a distance that would allow water to exist as a liquid. The number of stars that have been found to have planets orbiting them is growing with the number exceeding 500 at the time of this writing. A vast percentage of these planets are like Jupiter — large, gaseous worlds that are cold and hostile. Some are very close to their stars. It is obvious that the cosmos is full of planets orbiting stars. The processes that produce stars must also produce a widespread distribution of debris that forms planets as well as moons, asteroids, comets and the other things that make up our solar system. This tells us something about God’s methods, and it may well be that generations from now much of their materials will be useful to man. It is also true that we are seeing a rapid increase in the number of variables that have to be carefully chosen for life to exist. Earth continues to be a very unusual place in the creation, but God may have chosen to prepare some other unusual places that are beyond our imagination. The old adage “your God is too small” may apply in this discussion as it has in the past on other subjects. Data from Science News, October 23, 2010, page 5.

MANNA ON THE MENU. The New York Times has had several articles in the “Dining and Wine” section about manna being imported and used in a variety of recipes. Biblical Archeological Review reports on this ancient food in the September/October 2010 issue (page 24). Exodus 16:13 –14 tells us that it tasted like coriander seed and made wafers that tasted like honey. Psalm 78 calls it “grain of heaven.” There are many sources of “manna” in the Middle East today. In some places it is believed to be the dried sap of the desert-growing tamarisk tree, and some other forms are believed to come from insects. In the U.S. manna has been imported since 2008 and is used in eclectic menu items. You can argue that this manna is different from what is described in the Bible, but from an apologetic standpoint it is clear that what is described as God’s provision for the Israelites had a scientific basis. God used quail as well as manna to provide food for his people, reinforcing God’s natural solution to their food dilemma.

ALCOHOL-FREE CHRISTIANITY. The most destructive drug to ever exist on planet earth is alcohol. Today’s alcohol drinks are far different from those in Jesus’ day, when distillation did not exist. Because it is used as a recreational drug, the problems with alcohol use continue to grow. A new Web site has been started for those Christians who have concerns about alcohol use in society and in the Church. It is

HUMAN TESTING IN THE PAST. Einstein said it best: “Religion without science is lame, but science without religion is blind.” History is full of cases where one group of people were deemed expendable, and horrible experiments were done with an eye to making scientific discoveries. A famous example was the Tuskegee study in which doctors denied treatment to black males with syphilis to study the long term effects of the disease. New data shows that American doctors infected 700 Guatemalans with syphilis from 1946 to 1948 to test penicillin. In the 1950s LSD was given to unsuspecting American citizens for experimental purposes. Quaker Oats allowed researchers to put trace amounts of radiation in the cereal of mentally handicapped children. Those who suggest that moral decisions, and what they are based on, are of no consequence need to look at the historical record. Christian values as taught by the Bible are critical to allowing science not to be blind to the moral implications of experiments. Source: Time, October 18, 2010, page 30.

WHY ARE THERE MOSQUITOES? Those of us who live in the North and spend a lot of time outdoors have had our battles with mosquitoes. We also may have questioned God’s design while slapping at hordes of the nasty vermin. The newest data from people who study insects shows these little creatures are important. There are 3,500 species of mosquitoes world-wide and of those only about 200 suck blood. In these species only the females bite, and only to provide for their larvae. Mosquitoes pollinate plants and provide food for many birds. In their larvae stage they provide food for fish and are a major part of the food chain in northern lakes and rivers. We might not miss mosquitoes right away if they all disappeared, but many of the plants and animals we depend on in northern latitudes would be in serious trouble without these pesky insects. Source: Alaska, November 2010, page 52.

STRAIGHT BRITISH COUPLE SEEKS “GAY” PARTNERSHIP. Britain has a law which allows gays to have a civil partnership, available in Britain only to same sex couples. Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle do not want to get married, but they want to have a civil partnership, so they are suing the government. Legal experts are predicting they will win because discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation infringes on Britain’s human rights law. The charge is that the government is being heterophobic. The point that we have made from the outset of this debate is that while we oppose homophobia and are not interested in abusing anyone, when you violate the biblical definition of marriage, then any union of any kind has to be accepted — be it group marriage, polygamy, polyandry or civil partnerships. The bigger concern yet is the destructive nature of all sexual relationships outside of God’s plan for man and woman described in Genesis 2:24. Source: Associated Press and Yahoo News, November 9, 2010.

MUSLIM COLLEGE STARTS IN U.S. One interesting contrast between countries in which Islam dominates and countries where some form of Christianity dominates is freedom of ideas. The first Muslim college dedicated to “a rigorous curriculum in Islamic Studies and Arabic” is located in Berkeley, California. Zaytuna College was started as an institute in 1996 and is moving towards becoming a fully accredited college. One has to wonder what would happen if a Christian university was started in a Muslim country. The contrast between the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5 – 7 and the Koran needs to be shown to our young people so they can better understand the violence and struggles going on in today’s world. Source: (accessed December 14, 2010).

END TIMES EARTHQUAKES. We continue to see material in the press by promoters of dispensational millennialism saying that the world is about to come to an end. One scientific area that is referred to is the frequency of earthquakes. Major earthquakes in Haiti, Indonesia, and other places around the world have been a disaster with tragic losses of life and property. However, the notion that this seismic activity is increasing or that it is unusual is not supported by the facts. As scientists measure earthquakes, they find that the crust of our planet is in constant motion. Since measurements have been recorded, the earth averages nearly 1.5 million earthquakes per year. Only about 15,000 of these could be detected by humans without scientific equipment, but they are active and dynamic in changing the crust of the earth. This raises new land from the sea and provides new resources for man. “Terra firma” is actually a dynamic, moving surface that constantly adjusts and changes. Nothing strange is happening in the crust at the present time, and human predictions of end times can be seriously misguided scientifically and biblically. Source: Science Illustrated, November/December 2010, page 70.

GENETIC TESTING AND DISEASE. As of October 25, 2010, there were 1,956 diseases for which genetic tests are on the market. Data is accelerating in this field of medicine, and the future has all kinds of wonderful, and sometimes scary possibilities. Knowing you will have a particular disease that is something you inherited can help you find medical help, arrange personal finances, or take out large insurance policies right before the disease hits. It can also allow insurance companies to cancel you right before the disease hits, and affect when you retire and who you marry. There are several interesting implications of all of this. We have to recognize that a huge percentage of the diseases we suffer from have been caused by damage to our genome, and much of that is from human abuse. God is not the cause of the pain and suffering in the world. Genetic medicine is a field our young people can enter that holds great promise and can serve humanity in wonderful ways. The training of teachers, preachers, counselors, and church leaders will increasingly need to include how to get and use genetic information in a positive way. As we learn to correct these genetic problems, wonderful new solutions can come to some of the bad things that happen in life. Source: USA Today, October 25, 2010, page D1.

TWO DINOS TURN OUT TO BE ONE. Most kids can identify Triceratops and Torosaurus, two dinosaurs that had serious horns on their heads. Data now shows that the Triceratops is a juvenile version of Torosaurus, and the name Torosaurus is going to be de­listed. What this shows is that our knowlege and preconceived notions about these large animals is very weak and frequently not too accurate. As science corrects this kind of error the picture of the animals of the past and how they lived and changed may make the history of Earth considerably clearer. Source: Science, volume 329, August 13, 2010, page 733.

STEPHEN HAWKING AND GOD  — AGAIN. One of the most brilliant men on the planet is Stephen Hawking, a cosmologist who has been at the forefront of quantum mechanics and theories about matter. Recently Hawking has released a new book called The Grand Design. He has been quoted as saying that he has proven that God does not exist, but that is not accurate, and, in fact, Hawking’s concepts are not new to him. Throughout his history he has maintained disbelief in a personal God. The message in this book is that he believes he has come up with a theory about matter that allows him to propose a creation of the cosmos that eliminates intelligent design and can function on the basis of natural law. In a November 15, 2010, (page 8) interview with Time, Hawking says “I don’t claim that God doesn’t exist. God is the name people give to the reason we are here. But I think that reason is the laws of physics rather than someone with whom one can have a personal relationship. An impersonal God.” Having a temporary model based upon numerous assumptions that makes intelligent guidance unnecessary is certainly not a disproof of a personal God’s existence. The source of the laws that govern both quantum mechanics and Newtonian mechanics remains unanswered, and the moral guidance and personal purpose of life remain unaddressed by any laws Hawking proposes. His newest ideas are interesting, and in our view are wonderful support for the God described in the Bible as the God in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

AMERICAN KNOWLEDGE ABOUT RELIGION BAD. A study known as “The U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey” asked 32 questions on the major world religions of people who were Jewish, Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, and Atheist. The questions were things like: “What religion was Mother Teresa?” “What religion has figures in Vishnu and Shiva?” “Which figure in the Bible was associated with remaining obedient to God despite suffering — Abraham,Job, Elijah or Moses?” “The person whose writings inspired the Protestant Reformation was who — Luther, Aquinas or Wesley?” “The religion that aims at Nirvana, the state of being free from suffering, is Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism?” The overall average score was 16, with Hispanic Catholics averaging 11.6, Black Protestants averaging 13.4, White Protestants 15.8, Jews averaging 20.5 and Atheists averaging 20.9. Fewer than half knew that the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist. The level of ignorance about religion is massive, and that has many implications for our country and the Church. Source: USA Today, September 28, 2010, page 8A.

HOW AMERICA SEES GOD. USA Today (October 7, 2010, page 1A) reports on a study by Paul Froese and Christopher Bader of 1648 U.S. adults on how they perceive God. Five percent said they were atheists, 24 percent said God is a distant God, 28 percent said God is an authoritative God, 22 percent said God was a benevolent God, and 21 percent said God was a critical God. Lots of questions can be asked about the study, but what is interesting is that no one in the study or the reviews discussed what Jesus actually portrayed God to be — a God of love, friendship, association, and joy. Our organized religious leaders have projected God as distant, critical, and authoritarian with an occasional shot of benevolence. Jesus spoke of God as one who loves us and sent Jesus to die for us. What happened to “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “My God and I walk through the fields together. We walk and talk as good friends should and do, …” God can be all those other things, but for Christians the emphasis needs to be on what God gives us — not what we fear He will do to us.

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