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from Does God Exist? 4th Quarter 2022

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).

John Clayton

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 jncdge@aol.com.

BIBLE GOSPELS AND APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS: Skeptics have written many books trying to deny that Jesus was anything more than a strange aberration of history. Some of these books are written by authors who claim to be experts, and many of the writings have been promoted in the tabloids or on television as revealing some new discovery about Jesus from sources outside of the biblical gospels known as the apocryphal gospels.

We have seen claims that Jesus was a peasant cynic philosopher, a leader of a hallucinogenic cult, or married to Mary Magdalene. The authors base those claims on the so-called apocryphal gospels such as the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Hebrews, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, and the Gospel of Philip. None of these apocryphal gospels have any validity compared to the biblical gospels we have in the New Testament.

The apocryphal gospels appeared in the second half of the second century, influenced by pagan Gnostic philosophy competing with the true gospel. In contrast to those late manuscripts, the biblical gospel writers lived during the lifetime of Christ and in the formative years of the church. Archaeology has verified the characters and many of the events described in the gospels. You can trust the biblical gospels and believe they are accurate and contain the Word of God. Any attempt to discredit them fails in the face of the evidence and the weakness of claimed alternatives to the message they contain.

JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE: On July 12, 2022, NASA released the first public images from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), launched on December 25, 2021. JWST is a remarkable tool of astronomy that can see objects in outer space not visible to Earth-bound telescopes. Dr. Scott Acton is a 1984 Abilene Christian University graduate and a scientist who worked on the JWST for almost 24 years. As a Christian, he said, “Seeing these images will increase your faith.”

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As a remarkable tool of astronomy, the JWST enables us to expand our understanding of the incredible size and magnitude of the creation. As the tools of observation improved, astronomers realized that our Milky Way galaxy was just one of many. Thanks to the JWST, we can now see countless galaxies that astronomers have never seen before, and each one contains billions of stars, many of which have planets orbiting them.

These distant galaxies send out all kinds of light — not just visible light. The JWST can see the light invisible to our eyes and see it without the obstruction of our atmosphere. That light can tell us the history of the cosmos and testify to the truthfulness of what the Bible says about creation.

In Job 38:6–7, God says to Job, “Upon what are the foundations of the earth fastened and who do you think laid the cornerstone when the morning stars sang together?” Dr. Acton said that he imagined the galaxies singing: “Not in any kind of language that people could understand, but certainly the emotion we can understand. I would call that emotion joy. It's almost like the galaxies or the universe was happy that after all this time, we could finally see them.”

Source: The Christian Chronicle, August 2022, page 18

PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION: What rights should parents have concerning the education of their children? Unfortunately, with the current theories about sexual identity, race, and learning, parental rights and input have been shoved aside as schools struggle with pressure from special interest groups. This is especially true if parents want to give their children spiritual instruction at home that is not opposed by secular learning at school.

ParentalRights.org reports that 39 states have no statutes that expressly define and protect parental rights. The Goldwater Institute (January 2020) reports that 47 states do not grant parents the right to review the learning materials and activities before their use. The Heritage Foundation (May 2019) says that 12 states do not allow parents to be involved in their schools' sex ed curriculum. As a result, schools are forcing many things on very young children without their parent's consent or knowledge.

The transgender movement in America has become a fad, with many children being pressured by school officials encouraging kids to change their gender identity. This is called “affirmative care” and can even involve the use of drugs to catalyze a child's movement away from their birth sex. Unfortunately, the long-term effect of this kind of counseling, especially the drugs and surgical procedures used, is destructive.

The introduction of critical race theory to young children without the knowledge or consent of their parents is another concern. Children are being taught that all white parents are racist or that all black parents feel that no matter how hard they work, their success will be limited by their skin color. That is simply not true. The terrible history of race relations in this country, neglected in the past, must be presented in history class. A first grader of any race should receive a positive picture of the American dream and that all humans are of equal value.

If public education is to survive, it must acknowledge parental rights, allowing parents to determine their children's moral, sexual, and racial training. Parents must not be excluded from the process of making public schools neutral on these issues. As it is now, America is becoming a police state where parents have no rights and children are forced into a framework that violates what public education is all about.

Sources: Faith and Justice magazine, August 2022, page 5, and parentalrights.org

SYNTHETIC EMBRYOS: Can a baby be produced in a laboratory without sperm and an egg? The answer for mice, at least, is a partial “yes.” Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences in Israel produced a “lab-created womb” in which they placed mouse stem cells producing a mouse embryo. The synthetic embryo “lived” for eight days.

Researchers could coax stem cells into a placenta or yolk sac by treating them with chemicals. Then other stem cells developed into organs and tissues without intervention by the researchers. Some turned into beating heart tissue or a rudimentary nervous system. However, 99.5% of the stem cells failed.

This kind of research has a practical purpose beyond producing a synthetic embryo. For example, scientists hope to eventually grow human organs in a synthetic womb to replace diseased organs for which no donor is available. Scientists have already used this system to produce rudimentary artificial kidneys and hearts, but they are not yet suitable for medical use. Researchers are also hoping to find a way to nurture premature babies outside of the mother's womb.

Like many efforts to produce life, researchers are copying natural processes to create a synthetic embryo of a mouse. The debate among philosophers and ethics professionals concerns philosophical and ethical problems with this type of medical research.

The struggle to duplicate the design of reproduction that God built into living things shows us how impossible it is to believe that the original creation was the product of blind chance. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “We can know there is a God through the things he has made (Romans 1:20).

Reference: Global Research

PLACEBO TREATMENT: Reader's Digest published an article by Lia Grainger titled “The Placebo Cure.” That article tells about a man diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He became part of a study to see if a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes could also help treat Parkinson's.

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When the study began, the patient immediately started feeling better. His joints ached less, he could move more easily, and he was able to start taking walks around the neighborhood. He said his memory was more robust, and he was convinced he was daily receiving the new drug. It turned out that he had been given a placebo.

The article defines the “placebo effect” as when the brain convinces the body that the fake treatment is authentic. Doctors have been using placebos for a very long time. One study showed that 89% of physicians used placebo treatment at least once a month. The scientific community only poorly understands this effect, but it is genuine and not questioned by medical researchers.

The design of the human body is one of God's finest creations. Our minds have incredible power over the physical needs of our bodies, and it seems to be unique to humans and not a product of evolution or a chance process. Our drug-saturated culture tends to throw a chemical at every problem. God has built into us an incredible number of ways in which our bodies fight disease and physical impairments.

We need to quickly emphasize that we are not saying there is no need for antibiotics, vaccines, or medical treatments. But, at the same time, we need to understand that we “are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). One part of that is how our brains help our bodies maintain a high level of physical well-being.

Source: “The Placebo Cure” by Lia Grainger in Reader's Digest, September 2022, page 79.

MISUNDERSTANDING THE CONCEPT OF PRAYER: We often find both atheists and believers misunderstanding the concept of prayer. Atheists see prayer as a crutch and an exercise in futility. Madalyn O'Hair, the leading atheist in the late 1900s, was fond of saying, “No god ever answered any prayer at any time, nor ever will.” Other atheists have said that a god who needs his ego fed by the constant praise of humans is not worth having. For many believers, prayer is a crutch to lean on when you are in trouble.

Some religions view prayer as a payment to their concept of god. They see prayer as something their god commands as a price of membership or payment for blessings received. The Christian prayer, as presented in the Bible, is very different. The Christian concept of prayer is not to boost God's ego or to inform him about a situation. Instead, Matthew 6:8 tells us, “… your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Jesus followed that statement with a model prayer acknowledging God's power and glory, recognizing that everything we need comes from him, and seeking his forgiveness as we forgive others.

Because prayer is integral to spiritual health, it is also a huge contributor to good mental health. Humans need to look to a higher power. Passages like Matthew 7:7–8; Luke 11:9–10; and John 14:13–14 do not promise physical comfort but spiritual results. James 4:2–7 makes it abundantly clear that prayer is not a selfish request for physical pleasure. Those who do not see their prayers answered in the way they desire may misunderstand the concept and purpose of prayer.

The title of this article is 'Evidence for God in Changed Lives,' with a picture of a group of people holding hands in a field.

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