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from Does God Exist? 1st Quarter 2024

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 and age, 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.

THE JAMES TOUR CHALLENGE: How did non-living chemicals become living plants and animals? Origin of life research has been the focus of countless hours and vast expenditures by expert scientists for the last 70-plus years. The results have been, well, unremarkable. Chemist Dr. James Tour of Rice University issued a 60-day challenge to the leading origin-of-life researchers, calling for them to show what progress they have made in 70 years.

John Clayton

Dr. Tour points out that there are five major hurdles that the origin-of-life scientists must clear. He said if they could show that they had solved even one of those problems, he would shut up about the issue.

The James Tour 60-day challenge expired at the end of October 2023. Not one scientist could meet his challenge. In other words, in 70 years of research, no progress has been made on any of the major roadblocks to non-living matter becoming a primitive living cell.

If brilliant scientists with the best equipment and modern laboratories ever manage to produce life from basic elements, they will not prove that life can originate by unguided accidents. They will have demonstrated that an intelligent being can create life from non-living matter. That is what the Bible has said for thousands of years.

John Clayton

SYPHILIS EPIDEMIC AND ITS COST: When people fail to follow God's rules for sexual behavior, the result is always pain and suffering for themselves and collateral damage for innocent people. The clearest case in the United States is Nevada, which had a 44% jump in congenital syphilis from 2021 to 2022. In 2021, there were 77.9 cases of congenital syphilis per 100,000 live births. The problems documented in these babies included blindness, bone damage, and stillbirths. In many cases, the mother did not know she had syphilis until it showed up in her baby.

The damage syphilis does to adults is less severe than in infants, but we are all financially affected by this problem. The real beauty and value of sex are lost when the sex industry takes over or when it becomes a recreational activity. The biblical concept of the sexual relationship is to form a unique bond between husband and wife, with each partner being concerned about the well-being of the other. Abandoning God's plan leads to a syphilis epidemic as well as other STDs. As people drift further from God and the teaching of his Word, the syphilis epidemic will only get worse, and the cost in dollars and misery will increase.

Reference: South Bend Tribune (10/10/2023) and https://apnews.com/article/syphilis-std-cdc-federal-funding-e82f78f3d30c393538e5e421548e7758

ANSWERING TODAY'S CHALLENGES: In October 2023, the Survey Center on American Life and the Associated Press/NORC released new data revealing the attitudes and beliefs of our friends and neighbors. If the church is going to lead people to faith in God, we need to know what they believe.

Here are some results of the recent surveys:

  1. 44% of Americans have “hardly any confidence” in organized religion.
  2. 29% of Americans believe evolution is the best explanation for the origin of life on Earth.
  3. 38% believe humans and other living things have evolved over time due to processes guided by God or a higher power.
  4. 31% believe humans and other living things have evolved over time, and God or a higher power had no role in this process.

You cannot reach people today based on people's beliefs in the twentieth century. God's Word does not change and is a rock-solid guide for life, but young people today are radically different from last century. Answering today's challenges requires meeting people where they are and not depending on methods that worked in the past.

John Clayton

TRANSPLANTING ANIMAL ORGANS INTO HUMANS: On September 20, 2023, Lawrence Faucette had a pig's heart transplanted into his body to replace his own heart, which was a total failure. Xenotransplants, transplanting animal organs into humans, have been tried in the past, but the patient's immune system destroyed the transplanted organ. Faucette's animal heart came from a pig that was genetically modified to make it more human-like. Unfortunately, Mr. Faucette passed away on October 30.

The medical science community is interested in xenotransplants because there is a massive shortage of human organs for transplantation. Many people have questioned the religious implications of xenotransplants. Various Bible passages speak of the human heart but not the physical organ. The bottom line is that God is not primarily concerned with the physical organ but with our thinking, attitude, compassion, and capacity to love and serve. What happens to a person's body is that it will eventually return to the Earth from which it came.

Doctors have used valves from pig hearts for a long time, with great benefits for those who receive them. Understanding God's design and creative wisdom opens the door for transplanting animal organs into humans, providing ways to make a human's short tenure on Earth more pleasant. However, our soul and relationship with God are ultimately of primary concern.

John Clayton

IS MODERATE DRINKING GOOD FOR YOU? Media reports have claimed that alcohol is good for you, but we are now finding that the studies that led to those headlines were severely distorted by poor sampling. They linked all nondrinkers together and called them all “abstainers.” Some of them were recovered alcoholics who had quit drinking. Others were non-drinking substance abusers or those suffering from chronic illnesses. Meanwhile, the “moderate drinkers” in the study could include those who ate healthy and exercised. More balanced modern studies answer “Is moderate drinking good for you?” with a “NO!”

Based on more non-biased studies, by 2022, the World Heart Federation stated that alcohol did not protect people from cardiovascular diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) has now stated that any amount of alcohol is dangerous. U.S. and Canadian authorities have lowered their definitions of “moderate-risk drinking.” A growing body of research says that any amount of alcohol raises the chance of premature death from various causes. We know that:

  • Half of all cases of liver disease are attributed to drinking.
  • Alcohol is a potent carcinogen because it breaks down in the body to form a compound called acetaldehyde, which damages DNA.
  • Fifteen percent of breast cancers are linked to alcohol.
  • In Europe, 50% of all cancers linked to alcohol are caused by “light” or “moderate” consumption.

The distressing thing about this is that young people are bombarded with messages and music glamorizing drinking. Television shows encourage drinking by showing a glamorous picture of people drinking alcohol. According to the WHO, “There is no safe amount that does not affect health.”

Reference: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-figure-out-if-moderate-drinking-is-too-risky-for-you/

SOLAR SYSTEM FORMATION: NASA released a fascinating picture showing solar system formation. The star in the picture is PDS 70, and the resolution is so good that a planet orbiting the star is clearly visible. Also visible is a disk around the planet, apparently forming several moons. This is the first time astronomers have seen a solar system formation in progress, and it is very reminiscent of the Bible's description of the process God used to produce our solar system.

Genesis 1:1 uses the Hebrew word for creation (bara), which describes a process that only God can do, creating something from nothing. Modern science has now shown that time, space, and matter/energy came into existence at a point called a singularity, but cannot answer what went on before that. From Genesis 1:1 through the rest of Genesis chapter 1, the word bara is not used until Genesis 1:21, when God created the first animal life. The term used elsewhere is asah, which describes changing something already created (see Genesis 1:7, 16, 25.) The word bara is used again in Genesis 1:27, when God created man and woman in his own image. Genesis 2:3 summarizes what God had done by saying that he rested from all he had created (bara) and made (asah).

What we are now seeing is how material already created is crafted into a solar system. We may never know God's purpose, but watching this solar system formation helps us understand the forming (asah) of our solar system and our unique planet. We know that the giant gas planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are strategically placed to protect Earth from collisions by comets and other objects coming from outside our solar system.

In Psalm 8:3-4 we read, “When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, … .” We do not see the answer to that question in the physical processes God has used and continues to use, but the Bible and Jesus Christ's teachings reveal God's spiritual purposes for the creation.

SOLAR ECLIPSE: Speaking of the design of our solar system, we are amazed that we can accurately predict solar (and lunar) eclipses hundreds of years, even a thousand years into the future. That is because we live in a precision-designed universe and solar system. The next solar eclipse crossing North America will be a total eclipse at 3:10 P.M. eastern daylight time on April 8, 2024. You can put that on your calendar and prepare to observe God's power.

Eclipses have taught us many things about our Sun and the solar system design. Regardless of what some people may try to tell you, eclipses are not prophetic signs. They are part of God's design for a planet where life can live and prosper.

THE RED GIANT STAR MU CEPHEI: The astronomical data on the red giant star Mu Cephei, amazes us at its size and power. We read passages like Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the sky shows his handiwork.” The Hebrew word for “glory” is kabod, and the lexicon's first use of that word is weight or power. Mu Cephei is an incredible demonstration of the power of the Creator.

If we could put Mu Cephei in the place of the Sun, the orbit of Jupiter would fit inside it. That means the size of this one star, which is relatively close to the solar system (2800 light years), would exceed the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. We now understand that the stuff we see is only 5% of the universe. The European Space Agency's Planck satellite has revealed that 68% of the cosmos consists of dark energy, 27% is dark matter, and only 5% is atomic matter. So the red giant star Mu Cephei and everything else we can see is only a tiny part of the cosmos. We cannot even see most of God's handiwork.

John Clayton

OTZI HAD DARK SKIN: “Otzi” was the name given to a frozen mummy found on the border between Austria and Italy in 1991. The mummy, also known as “the iceman,” was in such good condition that researchers could complete a DNA analysis of his genome in 2012. Recently, more advanced studies of that DNA show that the earlier sample was contaminated by modern DNA, and Otzi had dark skin.

The Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, compiled a new genome for Otzi. Johannes Krause, writing for the Institute in the August 16, 2023, issue of Cell Genomics, reported that there is no connection between Otzi and modern residents of Austria or Italy. The revised genome shows that Otzi had dark skin and was related to Neolithic farmers.

Modern genomes of ancient humans show that dark skin has been the norm for humans until relatively recently in human history. Light skin tones only appeared in the genomes 3 to 4,000 years ago, showing once again the foolishness of racism. You cannot use the Bible to justify racial prejudice. The statement that God “has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell upon the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26) is absolutely true. Let us put racial prejudice to rest and embrace the claim of Galatians 3:28 that we “are all one.”

Reference: Science News, September 23, 2023, page 5.

Answers to the CROSSWORD: ACROSS: 2-mother; 3-pain; 5-evidence; 8-anthropomorphizing; 9-complexity: DOWN: 1-relationship; 4-intelligence; 6-loneliness; 7-God

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Photo: Roland Earnst