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Return to July/August 2013 articles.

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from Does God Exist? July/August 2013

GOOD NEWS — OZONE HOLE SMALLER. The size of the ozone hole on September 22, 2012, was the smallest it has been since 1990. A variety of things has contributed to this, including the warmer Antarctic temperatures in 2012. Source: Science News, December 1, 2012, page 13.

GOOD THERMODYNAMICS ARTICLE. We would like to recommend an article by Gary Patterson in the December 2012 issue of Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith, the journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, titled “Theology and Thermodynamics: In Praise of Entropy.” It is a good treatment of this frequently misunderstood concept. See www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2012/PSCF12-12Patterson.pdf.

BigfootBIGFOOT MYTH RAMBLES ON. The old adage that “if people don't believe in something they will believe anything” is seen over and over again in our so-called modern “post-Christian era.” The Animal Planet TV channel continues to run programs on searching for Bigfoot, and recently much publicity came out about a press release on November 24, 2012, by a Dr. Melba S. Ketchum who said, “A team of scientists can verify that their five-year long DNA study, currently under peer-review, confirms the existence of a novel hominid hybrid species, commonly called ‘Bigfoot’ or ‘Sasquatch,’ living in North America. Researchers' extensive DNA sequencing suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species.”

Skeptics of the Ketchum Project have published a long list of errors in the research, and Ketchum has refused to engage in conferences and meetings with those involved in Bigfoot research. It is pretty obvious this is just a PR scam and that no valid evidence exists. Source: Skeptical Briefs, Spring 2013, volume 23, number 1.

PUBLIC SCHOOL BIBLE COURSES A BUST. Many religious people have complained that the public schools should offer public school Bible courses to counteract atheistic teaching that permeates some public school curricula. In 2007 in Texas a law was passed allowing for elective courses, but now complaints and threats are coming to the state about the “blatant bias” found in the courses. The Texas Freedom Network has complained that the courses favor “conservative Protestantism, problematic treatment of Judaism, … ‘reflects ideological bias that America was founded as a Christian nation based on biblical Christian principles.’ ” Expecting the tax supported public schools to do the work that the church should be doing is not going to work, and in our pluralistic society that should be a pretty obvious reality. Source: The Dallas Morning News, January 17, 2013, page 4A.

Couple arguing each other with child in foreground.CHILDREN OF DIVORCE AND CHURCH. A new study of adult children of divorce by the Institute for American Values shows that children raised in happy marriages are more than twice as likely to attend religious services as children of divorced couples. In the study researchers found children saying that people at church did not understand their pain when their parents were splitting. The need for Christians to minister in a special way to children of divorce should be obvious, but it is a neglected area. Source: Christianity Today, March 2013, page 11.

AN AMERICAN “DARWIN FINCH” CASE. A modern example of adaptation by natural selection has taken place in southwestern Nebraska. Studies done on the cliff swallows have shown that in 29 years the death rate of the swallows by hitting the windshields of cars has dropped from 2,000 a year in 1983 to 4 per year in 2012. The explanation seems to be that the swallows have evolved shorter wings which allow more dramatic maneuvering to avoid cars. Not everyone thinks that the wings have changed, but rather that the “daredevil gene” in the swallows has been weeded out. This is very similar to Darwin's argument that the finches in the Galapagos Islands had their bills selected by the environment they found themselves in. None of this contradicts the Bible. Jacob used this same principle to mold Laban's flocks into something he could manage. It is the extrapolation of observations of these birds that puts neo-Darwinism at odds with those who believe that God had a purpose in building characteristics like this into all living things. Source: Science News, April 20, 2013, page 17.

Cat thinking of birdCAT LOVERS VERSUS BIRD LOVERS. Domestic cats kill as many as 3.7 billion birds a year and as many as 20.7 billion wild mammals. As many as 80 percent of the 114 million cats that live in the United States hunt. An estimated 84 million of these hunters live in people’s houses. The plummeting numbers of song birds in the United States have been pretty well documented, and cat kills outstrip pesticide poisoning, window collisions, and collisions with communication towers and vehicles. When God told man to take care of the earth (Genesis 2:15) it included intelligently managing animal populations. Cats are a non-native species to the United States, and man must responsibly manage cats as well as birds. Source: Science News, February 23, 2013, page 14.

“SUPER-EARTHS” CLAIMS MISLEADING. We continue to see articles in the media regularly claiming that “earth-like planets have been found orbiting other stars.” Some of these planets are in the “habitable zones” of stars, which mean places where the temperatures are such that water could exist in a liquid state. Also their mass indicates that the planets could be rocky. A spacecraft known as Kepler has been looking for possible candidates for these zones called the “Goldilocks” regions. The media makes it sound as if there is such a zone, there will be life. The fact is that none of the other things needed for life to exist are considered — a functional atmosphere, the right chemical compounds, the right spin rate, the right tilt on its axis, the right size, the presence of a significant magnetic field, the existence of a stabilizing moon, etc. There may be life in outer space, but the idea that life is commonplace and present in massive numbers in our own Milky Way galaxy is very misleading. We have a list of some 47 design features in the cosmos which suggest intelligence was involved in creating the environment where life could exist. (It is available at www.doesgodexist.org/Charts/EvidenceForDesignInTheUniverse.html.) The creation of life itself would have to be included for a complete picture of whether life exists in space or not. Source: Los Angeles Times (MCT), retrieved from the South Bend Tribune, April 21, 2013, page C9.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA ISSUE ESCALATES. The question of whether marijuana should be used to treat chronic pain continues to be raised as several states are now sanctioning recreational use of marijuana. In Arthritis Today (May/June 2013, page 55) there is a list of health concerns with the use of cannabis in treating arthritis. The list includes: (1) Heart rates are elevated which can produce strokes and heart problems. (2) Depression and anxiety may be exacerbated in individuals with a history of either. (3) “One cannabis cigarette is the equivalent of 20 tobacco cigarettes in terms” of increasing lung cancer risks. (4) There are widespread problems in dispensaries with fungus, bacteria, and toxic pesticides. (5) Motor function is inhibited. The use of THC (the pain killer in marijuana) in terminal patients can make some sense, but legalizing the smoking of marijuana appears to be a dangerous choice which is being made in many places in our country. (See our March/April 2012 issue, page 6 for details).

Boys playing a video gameMEDIA VIOLENCE AND KIDS. The terrible murdering of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut has brought to our attention again the question of how the saturation of violence in the media is affecting us. The young man who committed the horrible carnage at Sandy Hook was immersed in violent video games, and the shooting at the Aurora, Colorado, showing of The Dark Knight Rises has been related to the content of the movie. Data shows that children who watch television regularly see an average of 18,000 murders a year. Psychologists now link this viewing to bullying, abuse, and aggressive behavior. The rating system on movies reflects our change in this area as studies of the rating system show that movies that were rated G in 2004 would have been rated as PG ten years earlier. God expects his servants to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). It would seem that avoiding misconceptions about the reality of how people can and should live is a part of that. Source: Dr. Darcia Narvaez in an article titled “What Effect Media Violence Has On Us,” South Bend Tribune, February 17, 2013, page A1.

LEFT HANDED BENJAMITES. It is always a little frustrating to have said, “I don't know,” when someone has asked a challenging question, and then months or years later find the answer and not remember who brought the challenge in the first place. I can remember being challenged by an atheist to explain Judges 20:16 where the Bible refers to 700 Benjamites who were left-handed. Modern genetics tells us that right-handed parents only have a 10% chance of having a left-handed child, so the challenge was that Judges 20:16 could not be true. I had no idea how to answer that question, but in the May/June 2013 issue of Biblical Archeology Review there is an excellent article by Boyd Steevers and Joanna Klein on this subject. They point out that being left-handed was a huge advantage in combat, and that 1 Chronicles 12:2 says that David had ambidextrous warriors who were Benjamites. They also point out that the word used in Judges 20:16 literally means “restricted in his right hand” suggesting a conscious development of a combat-ready advantage.

HOW MANY IN PRISON? People studying numbers tell us that in the United States there are over 2,000,000 people in prison making the U.S.A. the possessor of the largest population in jail. China is second with 1,549,000 and Russia is third with 847,000. In the United States, Texas leads the country with 154,000 prisoners followed by California with 136,000, and then Florida with 100,000. The cost per offender to the tax payer is approximately $24,000 per year. This is an ignored mission field, and our experience is that many of these people can be changed by God into productive citizens. We have some 3,400 prisoners studying with us in our apologetics courses and 1,200 taking other Bible studies with our team. From any angle you look at it, there is a need to increase our work and involvement with prisons. Sources: Walking in the Light, from Kings Crossing Prison Ministries (email NLBCASA@yahoo.com) and from Wikipedia.

Meteor entering earth's atmospherTHE THREAT FROM SPACE. On February 15, 2013, a hunk of rock from outer space about 55 feet in diameter burned up some 20 miles above the surface of the earth over Chelyabinsk in Russia's Ural Mountains. About 1,500 people were injured, mostly by broken glass, when the shock wave blew out windows. The last time a natural object of this size entered earth's atmosphere was in 1908 when a 120 foot meteor exploded in a similar way above a remote Siberian forest causing a blast 185 times stronger than the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. The blast flattened 80 million trees, but that was over 100 years ago, telling us that such collisions are exceedingly rare and our atmosphere is designed in such a way as to burn up even these rare visitors.

Only 16 hours after the Chelyabinsk asteroid another one about 98 feet in diameter passed only 17,200 miles from the earth. The two asteroids were unrelated because they had very different trajectories. However, these events again sparked concern about an asteroid hitting the earth.

Comet hitting JupiterMost asteroids orbit between Mars and Jupiter, and our atmosphere burns up virtually all of the objects that are near us. The still larger objects like comets coming from outer space are swept away from us by the gravity of our large planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus. These space objects are all debris left over from the formation of the solar system and changes that happen within it.

Artist conception of an asteroid hitting earthIn December a comet will make a major appearance in the night sky and this will start the publicity of astronomical collisions all over again. We have been reminded of how carefully God has designed the earth when astronomical incidents occur. Life on earth is special and tenuous, and without the careful design of our solar system the earth would not survive. You do not need to worry about space debris hitting you. The dangers of human stupidity far exceed any dangers from space. Sources: The Week, March 1, 2013, page 11; Scientific American, March 2013, page 30; en.wikipedia.org “2012 DA14” and “Chelyabinsk meteor.”

Picture credits:
© Albert Ziganshin. Image from BigStockPhoto.com
© TatyanaGl. Image from BigStockPhoto.com
© Jagodka. Image from BigStockPhoto.com
© Sean D. Image from BigStockPhoto.com
© Michael Darcy Brown. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
Hubble Space Telescope Comet Team and NASA.
© puchan. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.