Bulletin Banner

Return to 2nd Quarter 2023 articles.

News and Notes title picture
from Does God Exist? 2nd Quarter 2023

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.

Helicobacter pylori, bacterium colonizing stomach and associated with gastric and duodenal ulcer.

BACTERIA — GOOD OR BAD? Trillions of bacteria live in the intestines of every person. But, perhaps more disturbing is the suggestion that there are ten times as many bacterial cells in the human body as there are human cells. Even though that may sound shocking, the truth is we couldn't live without them. The collection of microbes inside you is called the microbiome, and it makes food digestion possible and plays an essential role in our immune system.

People often refer to “good bacteria” and “bad bacteria.” That distinction may be misleading because the helpful or harmful ways of those microbes may depend on the circumstances. For example, gut bacteria work in the breakdown of carbohydrates. On the other hand, when gut bacteria digest foods such as eggs and beef, they produce a compound that can boost heart-disease risk. Some germs can make you sick, while others keep you healthy. Sometimes the same bacterial cells in the human body can do either, depending on circumstances.

Helicobacter pylori bacteria are known for causing ulcers in the digestive tract. They are present in the microbiome of half the world's population, but most people do not have a problem with stomach ulcers. However, researchers have found that the absence of Helicobacter bacteria in the gut may lead to diseases of the esophagus, such as reflux and cancers. Other research has shown that Helicobacter species may help the immune system, even though they may lead to inflammation and ulcers.

So bacteria considered “bad” might be neutral or even helpful in certain situations. A person's health status, stress, diet, and genetics all influence how we react to various bacterial cells in the human body. As we learn more about life's complexity, we see God's wisdom in all of creation.

SETI: In 1960 radio astronomer Frank Drake began research to find alien civilizations in deep space by aiming an 85-foot radio telescope at some sun-like stars. He found nothing, but it was the beginning of a program known as Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). The program has continued for 63 years, with many radio telescopes listening for messages from space. Researchers have spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars with zero results. They have detected no deep-space radio signals containing any intelligence — only noise.

How do the SETI scientists know it is just noise and not intelligence? Intelligence has a pattern. They may not understand the language, but they can tell language from random noise. They can distinguish random, accidental, chance blips from something created by an intelligent being.

Radio telescope satellite dish

How about when examining the DNA within living cells? Does the complex pattern of information that creates the blueprint within each living cell show intelligence behind it — or is it random noise? Does it resemble a computer program written by a super-intelligence, or does it display random, accidental chance? If we can tell the difference between intelligence and randomness in space, why we cannot tell the difference in our own bodies?

Is it possible that there really is an intelligent Being out there listening and waiting to hear from us? Is it possible that Being is not limited by time and space? Is it possible that the Being has already communicated with us by coming to Earth and taking on human form? Is it possible that while spending time and money listening for messages from space, we are not listening to him?

BRAINS IN THEIR ARMS: What does it take to enable an octopus to use all eight arms efficiently? Each arm may be in contact with a different substance, and they are soft and pliable, so they can bend and twist in response to whatever stimuli they receive. As a result, each octopus arm moves as if it has its own brain.

Common octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

Researchers recently discovered that the arms gather data and move independently or with other arms without consulting the octopus's brain. In addition to the arms' connections to the central brain, a nerve connects each arm to another, located two arms away. The arm's connections to other arms allow rapid communication to function quickly and efficiently. Researchers are still studying how the octopus puts all this together to move eight arms in a well-coordinated way.

God's design of every form of life is amazing and offers much for science to study and learn. Each octopus arm moves as if it has its own brain, making the octopus a very complex and intelligent animal. We see God's wisdom and creative ability displayed in every form of life.

Reference: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-octopus-arms-bypass-the-brain/ and https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960982222017638

IS YOUR HEART IN THE RIGHT PLACE: A recent study led by Harvard Medical School researchers shows how the internal organs end up in their proper place in early embryonic development. A cluster of cells called the left-right organizer contains hair-like structures called motile cilia. They sense the biomechanical forces that shape the body plan. The cilia beat rapidly, moving extracellular fluid in the correct direction to move organs to the proper place to function most efficiently. They are the reason why your heart is on the left side.

Incorrect left-right placement of the internal organs can result in various disorders, including heterotaxy syndrome and primary ciliary dyskinesia. These disorders can cause recurring respiratory infections and congenital heart disease.

In Psalm 139:10–14, David speaks of God's right hand forming him in the womb. Then, in verse 14, David says, “I will praise you, God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made … .” The more we learn about how our bodies are designed and formed, the more we understand the truth of that statement.

Reference: https://new.nsf.gov/news/how-does-your-heart-know-which-body-side-be and https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abq7317

African bush elephants portrait in the Tarangire National Park.

ELEPHANT ECOLOGY: People are concerned about atmospheric carbon (carbon dioxide and methane) increasing the “greenhouse effect” and causing global warming. That makes capturing carbon an essential service of ecosystems to protect our survival. Trees play a significant role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere, and new research shows that elephants have a “profound” effect on forest ecosystems. Scientists from Sweden, France, and the United States say elephants are “ecosystem engineers” that “significantly influence the structure and functioning of ecosystems” such as tropical rainforests in Africa.

African forest elephants prefer to eat the leaves of trees with low wood density because they contain more protein and less fiber than the ones with high wood density. They also prefer to eat fruit from trees with higher wood density. By eating those fruits, the elephants disperse the seeds of the trees that sequester the most carbon. The elephant's diet enables the survival and spread of the trees that store more carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere. At the same time, elephants reduce overcrowding by the lower-density plants, allowing the larger trees to grow.

The study concludes that elephant conservation will significantly affect global climate by controlling the amount of atmospheric carbon. God has designed a worldwide system of many ecosystems that make Earth suitable for advanced life to thrive. Our job is to protect the blessings God has given us to enjoy. Who does not enjoy watching elephants?

Reference: https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2201832120

AYAHUASCA CHURCH: As our culture turns away from God and the Christian system of living, we have a vast void that many people fill by turning to recreational drugs. We now see “churches” that advertise a quick way to have a spiritual experience using a psychedelic brew known as ayahuasca. The promoters claim it will give spiritual enlightenment and bring the user closer to God.

The government of New Mexico permits the ayahuasca church to use the drug as a sacrament even though the main ingredient is illegal under U.S. federal law. In Oregon, a U.S. District Court ruled that a church is free from prosecution for using ayahuasca because of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Hummingbird Church, with locations in California and Utah, conducts ayahuasca services.

The risk factor for ayahuasca is very high and similar to LSD. It raises the heart rate and blood pressure. Many users experience seizures, and most lose muscle coordination resulting in falls.

Respiratory arrests have happened, especially with people who have had the COVID virus. One complication is HPPD (hallucinogen persisting perception disorder), which, along with persistent psychosis, results in flashbacks long after discontinued use. New data also links serotonin syndrome disorder to the drug. A person who throws God out of their life will desperately seek something to fill the void. Ayahuasca, like LSD, is a bad choice.

Reference: https://apnews.com/article/2b9afa2b8b6518eff26a05a5f31776a2 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayahuasca

UNIQUE PLANET EARTH: One of the positive things about science is that its methodology allows change. When new data becomes available, theories are either supported or discarded, resulting in the constant evolution of what scientists believe to be true. This applies to our understanding of the uniqueness of planet Earth.

Experts from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre have announced that a widespread assumption about life on other planets is not valid. Science has assumed that other stars similar to our Sun in size and type also have similar stability. The Sun has not changed significantly in brightness and temperature in the hundreds of years that scientists have observed and measured it. Recent measurements of similar stars show that three-quarters of them go through changes in both brightness and temperature. Dr. Noah Tuchow of NASA says that the number of alien worlds that could contain life has been “vastly overestimated.”

Every discovery scientists make shows that Earth is an extraordinary place and our Sun is an exceptional star. Psalm 19:1 is more meaningful today than when it was written thousands of years ago.

Reference: https://arxiv.org/abs/2301.02961 and https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/why-life-might-be-unique-to-earth/ar-AA16TFqt

Museum of the Bible front entrance.

EXHIBIT ON THE SCIENCE/FAITH CONFLICT: A new “Scripture and Science” exhibition has opened at The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. The exhibit shows that the Bible has encouraged and nourished science. Curator of the exhibition Dr. Anthony Schmidt, explained, “While there is this persistent myth that there is this ongoing conflict between faith and science, we highlight the ways that the Bible has left an impact on some of history's greatest thinkers — scientists [and] natural philosophers.” The exhibition points out that the Bible has not been an impediment to science but has encouraged and nourished science.

The exhibit is organized around six key questions: (1) How did it all begin? (2) What keeps the universe running? (3) How did life begin? (4) What makes me human? (5) What can we accomplish? (6) How will it all end? These are all questions that swarm around the supposed conflict between faith and science.

In the section on “ What makes me human?” Nancy Pearcey, the author of the book Total Truth, explains how our concept of human dignity stems from the biblical concept that we are created in the image of God. Also in that section, a display shows how that biblical understanding challenged scientific racism. This exhibition debunks the myth of the conflict between faith and science. It will continue at the Museum of the Bible until January 15, 2024.

Reference: https://www.museumofthebible.org/exhibits/scripture-and-science and https://evolutionnews.org/2023/01/new-exhibition-on-the-bible-and-science-opens-in-nations-capital/

The pool of Siloam at the end of Hezekiah's tunnel.

POOL OF SILOAM: The Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel National Parks Authority, and the City of David Foundation celebrated the new year by announcing that in 2023, the Pool of Siloam will be open to the public for the first time in 2,000 years. The Pool of Siloam is where Jesus healed the blind man in John 9:1–7 using the pool to test the man's faith and demonstrate Christ's power to restore his sight. Skeptics have challenged the biblical account on several levels, but the Pool of Siloam affirms scripture.

The archeological excavation of the pool and its location in the southern portion of the City of David verifies the accuracy of the biblical account. It was built as part of Jerusalem's water system in the 8th century B.C. This construction is related to the work of King Hezekiah, described in 2 Kings 20:20. Archeological work and further excavation of the site will continue.

Reference: https://www.foxnews.com/world/biblical-site-where-jesus-healed-blind-man-excavated-public-view-affirms-scripture.

Answers to the CROSSWORD: ACROSS: 3-Corruption; 4-Dementia; 6-Protoplasm; 7-Consciousness; 9-Constant; 10-Death: DOWN: 1-Eratosthenes; 2-Six; 5-Knowledge; 8-Smaller

Picture credit:
© Dr_Microbe. Image from big stock.com
© mulderphoto. Image from big stock.com
© wrangel. Image from big stock.com
© CreativePhotoTeam.com. Image from big stock.com
© ChicagoPhotographer. Image from big stock.com
© Robert Hoetink. Image from big stock.com