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from Does God Exist? 1st Quarter 2020

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).

Reef knot and Dollar

WHY WE WILL NOT ACCEPT GOVERNMENT GRANTS. We have received letters from readers who appreciate what we are trying to do in our ministry. They say that they want us to be aware that there are government grants available for certain types of educational efforts. We serve and educate hundreds of prisoners around the country. We have to explain why we do not accept government grants.

Many years ago, Ohio Valley Christian College (now Ohio Valley University) erected an auditorium using a grant from the government. The auditorium served the community and provided a venue for theatrical programs. The school conducted a short devotional at the beginning of each day as a part of the education of the students presenting the values of a Christian education. The government informed the school that they could no longer use the auditorium for that purpose because it could be interpreted as the government sanctioning religion. To the school's credit, they returned the government grant.

This ministry is totally funded by the generosity of those who believe what we are doing is essential. We will not use grants or loans that have government connections.

WE ARE NOT A PRODUCT OF CHANCE. Dr. David Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale University, says that we are not a product of chance. One of Dr. Gelernter's main arguments is the difficulty of producing a stable and functional protein by blind, mechanical chance. Proteins are the work-horses of life. Proteins called enzymes catalyze all sorts of reactions and drive cellular metabolism. Other proteins, such as collagen, give cells shape and structure. Proteins drive nerve function, muscle function, and photosynthesis. The question is whether mindless, random changes in molecules can create all the different proteins necessary for life to exist.

Proteins are made of amino acids, which we know can be formed by natural processes in specific environments. Statisticians calculate that the odds of amino acids forming a stable protein are 1 in 10 74. As Gelernter writes, “To say that your chances are 1 in 10 74 is not different, in practice, from saying that they are zero.” For comparison, science tells us there are only 10 80 atoms in the universe. Gelernter says, “The odds bury you. It cannot be done.”

PLAYING GOD WITH DNA. One of the promises of modern genetics is that in the future, we will create “designer babies.” The idea is that if you produce a group of embryos and then look at the DNA of each of them, you can select which embryo you want to become your child. The other embryos would be destroyed. The process is called “preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).” You might call it playing God with DNA.

A group of researchers published a study in the journal Cell on November 21, 2019, in which they attempted to learn how reliable polygenic scores would be for determining height or IQ. The research indicates that the DNA genetic predictions about those enhancements are unreliable and insignificant at best. Among other problems is that “differences in diet, lifestyle, exposure to pollution, culture, undiscovered genetic variants, and other unknown factors can influence how complex traits develop.” In other words, playing God with DNA does not work.

Planet Earth with detailed relief and atmosphere.

ROSSBY WAVES AND EARTH'S CLIMATE. Rossby waves are an important factor in Earth's climate. When greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide accumulate, they reflect infrared radiation causing the Earth's atmosphere to become hotter. This effect is not uniform, however. Because of melting sea ice, Earth's poles are affected by greenhouse gases more than the area of the equator. This causes a thermal imbalance between the poles and the equator affecting circulation around the poles and creating meandering high-altitude winds called Rossby waves.

As the thermal imbalance has become greater and the air more wobbly in recent years, that affects the jet stream. The wobbles last year caused the northern jet stream to go further south than usual, bringing cold air into Arizona in late spring. When the jet stream swung north, it brought hot tropical air toward the poles. On its way north, it brought unusual amounts of water from the Gulf of Mexico into Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Anchorage, Alaska, had temperatures over 90 degrees for the first time ever.

All of this shows us how fragile Earth's climate is. The fact that Earth's climate has remained stable long enough for human life to exist for thousands and thousands of years is a testimony to God's careful design and construction. Source: Astronomy, December 2019, page 64.

TRANSGENDER PERSON CHANGES HIS/HER MIND. America's first official “non-binary” person was a man named James Shupe, a retired Army officer who, in 2014, announced that he was a transgender woman. Two years later, as Jamie Shupe, he/she petitioned an Oregon Court to be recognized legally as “non-binary” — neither male nor female. The court in Multnomah County granted the request. Some states have now put the “non-binary” option on driver's licenses as a result of that decision. The question becomes, “What happens when a transgender person changes his/her mind?”

2018 New York NYC Pride March

In March of 2019, Shupe, who again goes by the name “James,” wrote a blog saying that his transgender and non-binary identities were the result of a mental health crisis. He wrote, “Two fake gender identities couldn't hide the truth of my biological reality. There is no third gender or third sex. Like me, intersex people are either male or female. Their condition is the result of a disorder of sexual development, and they need help and compassion.” Shupe went on to say that the country's “out of control transgender activism” has made it difficult for doctors and nurses to say “no” to people who want to change their gender. “I should have been stopped,” he writes.

The fact is that we should help people with identity issues. Stampeding into a change that has enormous consequences is just going to increase the pain, especially if the transgender person changes his/her mind. Source: Southern Baptist Texan, April 2019, page 7.

SPACE DEBRIS: A GROWING CONCERN. A significant issue for the future is our total lack of care for the planet on which we live. We not only have the problem of plastic waste and carbon dioxide emissions, but now we have the issue of space debris. From 1957, when the space age began, until January of 2019, humans have placed nearly 9,000 satellites in Earth orbit. More than half of them, around 5,000, are still in orbit, and 1,950 are still functioning. In addition to the satellites, there is debris from all this activity.

The European Space Agency tells us that there are 130,000,000 pieces of debris larger than .04 inches in orbit around Earth. Scientists are becoming concerned about what all of this space debris does to Earth's neighborhood. It creates a danger of collision with operating satellites or crewed spacecraft, such as the International Space Station. That danger becomes especially apparent when you realize that space debris can be traveling at speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour (28,100 km/hr). The threat obviously increases as we continue to orbit objects of all kinds, leaving more junk in space. God gave us the responsibility to take care of the Earth, and that includes the space around it. Source: Astronomy, December 2019, page 15.

PRESENTING ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLES TO YOUNG CHILDREN. Christ made it clear that we must love and respect those with whom we disagree. There is no excuse for those who claim to be Christians to physically attack anyone because they are a part of the LGBT movement. At the same time, we have to be concerned and vocally oppose those who promote immoral behavior, especially when it involves presenting alternative lifestyles to young children.

The popular children's show “Arthur” on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) ran an episode entitled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.” It featured a wedding ceremony between Mr. Ratburn and a character named Patrick. This program is funded by tax dollars and is aimed at preschool children. Disney has placed LGBT characters in the 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast and its television cartoon series Doc McStuffins. Drag Queen events have been held in Austin, Texas, and Portland, Oregon, in programs aimed at preschool children. The bottom line is that parents need to monitor what their children are exposed to. Source: a letter from the Family Research Council, October 2019.

MARRIAGE VERSUS COHABITATION. A U.S. Census Bureau report released last year says that the number of unmarried partners living together has tripled in the past two decades. The number went from 6 million in 1996 to 19.1 million in 2018.

Close up view of couple holding hands

A vital aspect the report does not mention is the role of sex in marriage and cohabitation. 1 Corinthians 7:1-6 describes the concern married Christians should have for the sexual needs of their mates. Every expert from Masters and Johnson to modern specialists has shown that a committed relationship provides the best in sexual satisfaction and the most fulfilling relationship for both men and women. Cohabitation may satisfy the immediate sexual gratification of some, especially males. It does not meet the real needs of both men and women in the long term.

It is no wonder that many young people are embracing alternative living arrangements. They have been lied to by their culture and often influenced by the bad examples set by their parents. Also, they have had no instruction or education in God's teaching on the divine plan for sex and marriage. The collapse of the nuclear family leaves children struggling with life and with increased learning disabilities. The desire to fill the void they feel often leads to the use of drugs and a radical increase in suicide. When it comes to marriage versus cohabitation, God's plan works. The alternatives do not. Source: South Bend Tribune, September 25, 2019, page A5.

EVOLUTION EXPERIMENTS. A scientist cannot wait millions or billions of years to study the process of natural selection as it creates new creatures. With that in mind, science must devise evolution experiments to study many generations in a much shorter time. In 1988, Richard Lenski began a project at Michigan State University to study the evolution of the bacteria known as E. coli. The scientist and his assistants carefully track the naturally-occurring random mutations in succeeding generations. Mutations are often harmful, but sometimes beneficial mutations lead to an improvement in the bacteria's reproductive ability. Natural selection removes the bacteria with lethal mutations, while those with beneficial mutations become more fit and reproduce. It is what we call survival of the fittest.

The study has gone through 70,000 generations, the equivalent of more than 1.75 million years of human generations. So how has the E. coli changed? The latest generation of E. coli can reproduce 70% faster than their ancestors. They are still bacteria. In fact, they are still E. coli bacteria. They have not mutated into some more advanced form of life. Dr. Lenski wants to see funding made available to continue the experiment for another 30 or even 300 years in the hope of seeing more dramatic results.

Other scientists have experimented with fruit flies. After thousands of generations, the result has been mutant fruit flies, but no new creatures or even greatly improved old creatures. The changes resulting from mutations and natural selection are either harmful or insignificant. God created animals to adapt and change due to environmental forces. Humans can change and sometimes improve animals by selective breeding, as we see in the many breeds of dogs. But the evidence seems to indicate that only God can make a canine or a fruit fly or an E. coli — or a human. Source: Discover, December 2019, page 49.

HOW DO YOU USE YOUR TIME? God has given you 168 hours of time every week that you live. The question that each one of us must answer is, “What to do with that 168 hours?”

If you consider the average essentials, they might look like this:

  • Eight hours a day for sleeping is 56 hours a week.
  • Work might be 40 hours per week.
  • If you take an hour to eat each meal, that would add up to 21 hours a week.
  • Personal hygiene, including exercise, might be 20 hours a week.

That adds up to 137 hours a week, giving us 31 hours or more than 4 hours a day left. How do you use your time that is left?

Suppose we took the Old Testament tithe of 10%. A tithe of 168 is 16.8 hours. Let us round that down to 16 hours a week to give back to God. Assume you go to worship and Bible class every time the door is open at the church meeting place. That would be four hours a week spent in worship and Bible study with other Christians. We still have 12 hours to give back to God every week. Here are some suggestions of how we might use that time:

  • Visiting people in the hospital.
  • Writing and sending cards.
  • Setting up and conducting Bible studies in your home or in other people's homes.
  • Getting involved in a prison ministry.
  • Working with disturbed teens.
  • Taking youth groups to rallies and workshops.
  • Shoveling widow's sidewalks.

When Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), he was not just talking about money. Imagine what would happen if every Christian gave back to God 16.8 hours of the time God has given them!

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© mypokcik. Image from BigStock.com.
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© fizkes. Image from BigStock.com.