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from Does God Exist? 2nd Quarter 2021
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).
OPPORTUNITY TO STUDY WITH JOHN CLAYTON: Because of the COVID pandemic, we have suspended our lectureship schedule. In place of that, we are providing an opportunity for congregations to have a lectureship electronically. We want to give the readers of this publication the same opportunity to study with John Clayton.
We will mail you a DVD of the first four lectures in our video series. You or your group can watch the four programs writing down questions and challenges to the material. Please send us your questions via e-mail or postal mail, and John Clayton will respond to them. If you are satisfied with that material, return the DVD, and we mail you the next one. Your only cost is the return postage for the DVD.
If you are interested in this opportunity, please send us your name and address, and we will send you the first DVD. Watching the Does God Exist? presentations in the comfort of your home is an excellent way to receive the information without risk from COVID or the inconvenience of driving to a lectureship site. E-mail your request to John Clayton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
APATHY AND DEMENTIA: Because we are living longer, the incidence of dementia has also increased. One form is frontotemporal dementia, which hits most of its victims between ages 45 and 65. There is a gene for frontotemporal dementia, but having the gene does not mean that the person is doomed to have the disease. Keeping your body and brain active may play a role in whether that gene will be expressed. Apathy may lead to dementia. Researchers at Cambridge University have discovered that there is a correlation between apathy and frontotemporal dementia. Their studies show that people who are lazy, in depression, or have lost interest in life becoming apathetic toward their daily activities are potential victims of frontotemporal dementia.
God never intended for people to be inert. Passively watching television instead of getting involved in activities, social interaction, or reading can make a difference in whether our gene for frontotemporal dementia will be expressed.
A person's role in church activities may also be a factor in frontotemporal dementia. You can retire from your secular employment, but do not retire from God. Apathy may lead to dementia, but staying active supports mental health and freedom from frontotemporal dementia.
Source: The Week, January 29, 2021, page 22
K2-141B IS NOT ANOTHER EARTH: The media has suggested that a planet called K2-141b may be inhabited. It is a little under 200 light-years away, and though it has some similarities, K2-141b is not another Earth.
Astronomers have discovered that its atmosphere has all the elemental components of rocks. That has to mean that the planet's surface temperature is hot enough to vaporize rocks, which would be more than 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit (3,000°C).
Without the variables that keep our planet cool, we could not have a surface temperature of less than 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100°C). The size, temperature, and activity of the Sun have to be just right. The amount of ocean surface that reflects solar heat back into space is crucial. The factors that restrict greenhouse gases, the relatively low value of volcanic activity, the lack of exothermic chemical reactions, the reflectivity of clouds, and many other factors influence our temperature.
Evidence shows that planets with conditions that permit surface temperatures between 0 and 100 degrees Celsius, allowing liquid water, are rare. If God has created life elsewhere on a planet where life can exist over the long haul, it will be another demonstration of incredible wisdom and design. Our planet is exceptional, and taking care of it should be a high priority for all of us.
Source: Astronomy magazine, March 2021, page 9.
WHAT COLOR IS YOUR RIVER? In our 12 trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, I saw changes in the water from time to time. The river was sometimes brown and at other times crystal blue, depending on how much upstream water was being released from the Glen Canyon Dam. I now live by the Saint Joseph River in southern Michigan. I have read the notes of the first explorers who came through this area in which they tell of being able to see the bottom of the river through 20 feet of water. Now you can only see about a foot down. Americas' rivers have changed through the years.
In 1984, satellites started taking pictures of rivers in the United States. Over 230,000 images have been analyzed by the University of Pittsburgh, the University of North Carolina, and Duke University. The data shows that only five percent of Ame ricas' rivers are still blue. Twenty-eight percent are green, which in most cases is caused by algae. The remainder are yellow.
As rivers change from blue to yellow to green, what can live in the rivers also changes. In the Saint Joseph River, the kinds of fish that live in the river today are far different from the native trout seen by the early settlers of this area. Today the river has large numbers of suckers and carp. There are some bass and panfish, and we do have salmon from Lake Michigan migrating up the river to spawn.
What color is your river? The more important question is, what is causing the rivers to change color? The causes, according to the studies, are farm fertilizer runoff, dams, sewage, and global warming. This is more than the loss of recreational use of waterways. Numerous diseases, including cancer, are related to what is in the water we drink, bathe in, and provide to our animals.
Christians must be vocal in encouraging our culture to initiate significant efforts to turn our waterways blue again.
Source: Associated Press article by Seth Borenstein, January 7, 2021 (https://apnews.com/article/united-states-algae-4d9b64798fd47d91e7a02c3869eeeac7), published in the South Bend Tribune, January 9, 2021.
EARTH ROCK FOUND ON THE MOON: Frequently, science clarifies biblical statements, but no scientific facts have ever contradicted the biblical account. Contradiction would be impossible since the God who created and made Earth also gave us the Bible. A recent example of their agreement is demonstrated by an Earth rock found on the Moon.
The simple clarity of the Genesis account contrasts with literally thousands of scientific papers and books giving details of the biblical statement, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 KJV). Another interesting passage in Genesis is the second verse, which indicates a change in the Earth. The most accurate translation of verse two is, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's daily blog announced the results of an internal X-ray scan of lunar sample 14321. Alan Shepard picked up that rock during the Apollo 14 lunar mission. It shows chemistry identical to Earth's materials and completely different from lunar material. NASA says that the sample is older than Earth's surface materials and indicates a dramatic event.
A celestial object like an asteroid or comet may have hit our planet and blasted material into space, with some of it landing on the Moon. The scientific information simply demonstrates the accuracy of the brief biblical account. Science and the Bible are symbiotic — each beneficial to the other and in agreement with each other. However, they explain different aspects of human concern.
Source: APOD.NASA.gov for February 3, 2021.
MOON OPENS SUEZ CANAL: The Moon does many things that affect life on Earth. Sometimes its power can help in ways we never considered, such as opening the Suez Canal.
For a week in March, we saw news reports about a giant ship blocking that canal that carries much of the world's shipping. The offending vessel is one of the world's largest container ships, and it got stuck on the sand and turned sideways to block the entire channel. Tugboats and dredging vessels worked to dislodge it, but they were toy boats by comparison. You could think of a child with a toy shovel and sand bucket trying to free a beached whale and push it back into the ocean. “Experts” said it could take weeks to free the vessel.
Then, the March full moon arrived and helped to free the ship. The Moon does many things to support life on Earth. Its light helps nocturnal animals, and sometimes humans, to find their way. The Moon's gravity stabilizes the Earth's tilt which causes the seasons. The gravity also causes the tides that clean the ocean's shores and estuaries. The tides and the moonlight play an essential role in the reproduction of sea turtles and many crustaceans. The tides even help to free stuck ships.
On March 29, the container ship Ever Given became dislodged, opening the Suez Canal. The Moon's gravity raised the water level to lift it enough that the tug boats could move it. Tides are highest during the full moon. At that time, the Sun and the Moon are on opposite sides of the Earth. Their gravity pulls on the water raising the tides. In this case, that force was enough to free a ship the size of the Empire State Building from being stuck in the mud and open the Suez Canal. We never stop marveling at the powerful forces in God's creation.
FALLING BIRTHRATES WORLDWIDE: Falling birth rates worldwide are impacting the economy of virtually every country in the world. In the United States, Social Security and Medicare depend on having young workers paying in to cover the benefits received by retirees. In 1980, roughly five workers were providing the taxes to support each retired beneficiary. By 2019, that number had dropped to 2.8 workers per retiree.
Countries have responded by paying citizens to have more children. Hungary is spending 5% of its GDP on free fertility treatments for women under 40. That country is also giving up-front loans to newlyweds that they can write off with each child born. It even offers a lifetime exclusion from income tax for mothers with three or more kids. Poland is giving $140 per child per month. Russia is providing parents with two or more children with one-time payments of $8,100. South Korea has spent $130 billion on similar programs. In the U.S., the government is now giving payments to families based on the number of children they have. For years, Alaska has been sharing oil revenues with families based on the number of children.
Children are a blessing from God, but people who deal with disturbed children fear that some families may not be prepared to care for more children properly. Perhaps it is time for governments to find new and more creative ways to meet their economic issues.
Source: The Week magazine, March 26, 2021, page 11
WANT A NEW BODY? A new study by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, gives surprising information about how rapidly the human body generates new cells.
Different parts of your body turn over new cells at different rates. Fat and muscle cells make up 72% of our bodies by mass. Those cells last an average of 12 to 50 years. By number, there are far more cells in our blood, and they last only three to 120 days. The cells lining our gut live less than a week.
Every day, your body replaces 330 billion cells, which is about 1% of the total. That means in 80 to 100 days your body will replace 30 trillion cells. That is approximately the total number of cells in your body. So you want a new body, but do not forget the larger fat and muscle cells will last for years while the smaller cells get replaced. Some cells last a lifetime, including brain, heart, and eye cells.
A report like this can help us understand how complex the human body is. We are reminded of the words of the psalmist in Psalm 139:14, “I will praise you, Lord, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Source: Scientific American, April 2021 (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/our-bodies-replace-billions-of-cells-every-day/)
VAPING DISEASE: States across the United States are rapidly approving the recreational use of marijuana, but scientific evidence suggests this is a dangerous development. Very little research has been done on marijuana vaping, but available evidence shows that vaping weed is at least as bad as smoking cigarettes.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified a new disease called EVALI. That is short for E-Vaping Associated Lung Injury. An apparent culprit in this problem is vitamin E acetate, a sticky oil substance often added to vaping products. This is especially common in vaping products that contain THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana.
The CDC says that 84% of the EVALI cases involve cannabis-containing products. As of February 2020, cases of EVALI had caused 68 deaths in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Those numbers now are far more significant, and virtually all of them are in young adults. Teenagers are twice as likely to have “wheezing or whistling” in their lungs after vaping marijuana compared to smoking cigarettes.
As followers of Jesus, 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Vaping weed is at least as bad as smoking cigarettes, and both are destructive acts that damage the body and can lead to death. As our society turns away from God and rejects the notion that our bodies are designed creations of God, young people are less concerned about taking care of themselves.
Sources: https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/03/health/vaping-marijuana-lung-injury-study-wellness/index.html and https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1916433
CHANGES IN EARTH'S MAGNETIC FIELD: Researchers in New Zealand have released a new study of changes in Earth's magnetic field. In a magnetic reversal, changes in Earth's magnetic field cause the north and south magnetic poles to switch. Researchers at the University of New South Wales have shown that this transition took nearly 800 years to complete, and during that time, the planet would have had no magnetic field.
The lack of a magnetic field would have been a major catastrophe. Our magnetic field acts as a shield against high-energy charged particles coming primarily from the Sun. Without that shield, there would have been severe environmental threats to life on Earth. The study suggests that tropical rain belts shifted, glaciers stretched across North America, and a severe drought hit Australia. The effects of the increased radiation on living things would have a strong genetic impact.
The researchers suggest that humans living during Earth's magnetic field changes would have to retreat to caves for shelter from the radiation and the harsh weather conditions caused by the magnetic reversal. Our planet's stability is a part of God's design, and without it, we would not be here.
Reference: The Week, March 12,2021, page 21.
© Sam Wordley. Image from Big Stock.com.
© Denis Rozhnovsky. Image from Big Stock.com.
Lunar Sample 14321, NASA
© Chatchai.wa. Image from Big Stock.com.
© sidarta. Image from Big Stock.com.