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Return to July/August 2014 articles.

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from Does God Exist? July/August 2014

MOVIES. Early 2014 brought movies that relate to the issues we address in this journal. The first one titled God’s Not Dead we recommend for its apologetic approach. The film presents a young Christian confronted by an atheistic professor bent on destroying faith in God among his students. Many college students have had this experience. The student in the film presents an apologetic argument in response to the atheist professor. The film builds a number of character dossiers and is solidly Christian in its approach.

The second film is very different. Directed by an atheist, it distorts and misrepresents the Bible at nearly every turn. Jerry Blount, preacher at The Pillar Church of Christ, made the following observations:

We went to see Noah, the movie. You can read the truth about Noah in Genesis 6 – 9. The producers of the movie chose blasphemy over Scripture. Noah is depicted as a demented fellow who cannot figure out what God wants from him. He looks like (and his family considers him) to be a madman — a torn fellow that cannot figure out what to do. This is a slander both on a godly man and the God who created him.

In the movie, rather than his sons taking wives on the ark, Shem gets a wife and Noah abandons Ham's prospective wife to be trampled (alienating Ham). Shem’s wife has twin girls on the ark. This appears to allow for the other two sons to have wives and repopulate the earth. (??) Noah, however, thinks his mandate is to murder his granddaughters to cause all of mankind to cease to exist. In the movie, Tubal Cain, with Ham's help, stows away on the ark for the duration and tries to murder Noah. The fact of the flood and a few of the names are about all the story line has in common with Scripture.

You expect Hollywood to ad-lib on a lot of gaps in dialogue, etc. This time they chose to turn one of God’s all-time favorite righteous people into little more than a madman. When God was speaking to Ezekiel he chose three men as the ultimate examples of righteousness. Noah was one of them. (Ezekiel 14:14, 20). To make Noah into some sort of a murder-crazed psycho is blasphemy. A Bible-believing Christian is going to be angry when he leaves. Far from simply using poetic license, they made a deliberate attempt to undermine what the text actually reveals. They also purposely smeared the integrity of a godly, righteous man. The only good thing that I can see coming from this movie is providing a Christian the opportunity to correct the slander leveled against one of the most treasured stories of scripture.

COSMOS SERIES REVISED. Cosmos is another media presentation relating to the existence of God and the skeptic arguments against. In 1980, Carl Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan produced a series of films that promoted the secular humanist view of cosmology. Sagan started in the “spaceship of your imagination” and toured from outer space inward revealing modern discoveries and interpreting them in an atheistic and secular humanistic framework. The program was a beautifully made, high budget production funded by Arco Petroleum. Druyan and Neil deGrasse Tyson (an astronomer) have revised the program (Sagan died in 1996) and released it on Fox, National Geographic, and a variety of international networks. The first of the 13 programs being shown on March 9 of this year.

The new version of Cosmos is even more beautifully done, technically and visually, than the 1980 version, but the approach is even more atheistic and biased. Science and faith are consistently portrayed as enemies and opponents. The facts shown in the presentations are not the issue, but the slant of the program is very atheistic. Believers are presented as ignorant, uneducated people who relied on ghosts and spirits to explain everything. The enormous contributions of believers whose faith in God led to their discoveries is omitted. When great believers (like Isaac Newton) are presented, their logical basis of faith is ignored and their misunderstandings are emphasized. Newton's attempt with alchemy, for example, is presented as well as his attempt to use biblical numerology. His acceptance of the moral teachings of the Bible and his belief that God created with order and logic is ignored. Robert Hook is presented correctly as Newton's nemesis, but Hook's atheistic views and immoral lifestyle which led to his premature death are ignored. Evolutionary theory is presented, but views like those of Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project are ignored. Microevolution is presented but confused with macroevolution. Macroevolution is presented as a fact with no attention being paid to the enormous leaps of faith in atheistic evolutionary theory, or the fact that many evolutionists are believers. As an example, the evolution from sightlessness to complex eyes was graphically presented with no solid evidence that by random chance this actually happened.

Cosmos has beautiful graphics, is well written, and is well funded by private sources. It is accurate in its facts, but selective on what facts it presents — and it makes poor distinctions between facts and speculations.

BIBLE PEOPLE CONFIRMED IN INSCRIPTIONS. In the March/April 2014 (Volume 40, number 2) issue of Biblical Archaeology Review is a very useful article (page 42) and chart (page 46). It shows characters in the Bible who have been documented in archeological finds. Fifty different people are listed whose names have been found in archeological discoveries, along with the passages where they are mentioned in the Bible. It is an interesting and useful chart.

Chimpanzee in coverallsANIMAL RIGHTS SUITS GROWING. The Nonhuman Rights Project has started a “long series of suits” on behalf of pet chimpanzees. They say the owners are slave owners holding chimps against their will. Four chimps (Tommy, Hercules, Kiko, and Leo) are being represented in suits against their owners. The suits claim that New York laws “do not limit legal personhood to homo sapiens.” If you do not view man as special and created in the image of God, then these suits will continue on behalf of dogs, cats, cockroaches, etc. Why limit it to chimps? Source: Citizen magazine, March 2014, page 9.

OLDEST TREE. Swedish researchers have found a tree with a dendritic dating of 9,550 years. This is like using tree rings to determine age and is not based on radioactive techniques of any kind. Dispensationalist traditions that demand a 6,000 year age to the earth continue to run into evidential problems with their denominational creeds. Source: Time magazine, March 10, 2014, page 15.

PHELPS FAMILY LEADER DIES. The classic embodiment of misuse of the Bible is the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. For years members of this church have made their presence known by picketing funerals, and disrupting public displays of unity and compassion by sit-ins, sign waving, and abusive lawsuits. Their most publicized events were the picketing at the funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Matthew Shephard's funeral, and the funerals of Sandy Hook Elementary students. The Westboro Church is not “baptist” or even a “church” by any standard. Forgiveness, turning the other cheek, compassion, loving the sinner but not the sin, going the second mile, and returning good for evil are not in the radar of this group. It was led by Fred Phelps who Time magazine calls “a colossal jerk” (April 7, 2014, page 25) who had a law degree and claimed to be a preacher. The damage done to the cause of Christ is huge, but Phelps died on March 20, 2014. Even the media has noted how he was the antithesis of everything Jesus Christ taught, and thus makes a somewhat inverted argument for the actual teachings of Christ. Also discussed in The Week, April 4, 2014, pages 15 and 38.

CLOVIS BURIAL SITE FOUND. There has been massive evidence that the people of a culture called Clovis were among the first humans to come to America. Newest DNA studies show that the Clovis people came from Asia and that native people in the Americas have a connection to the Clovis people. In Science News (March 22, 2014, page 6) is a report that the first burial site of a small child that is Clovis has been verified in Montana. Burial sites tell us a great deal about the culture, and since this one dates to over 12,000 years ago, it is an early time in human ventures to the Americas. When humans dispersed across the earth after the flood, the spread was rapid and included such far away places as Montana. There is a lot to be learned about human migration across the planet, but one fact is obvious as Acts 17:26 tells us “From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth … .”

WHO IS MORE DOGMATIC — DAWKINS OR BECK? Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has written a book titled The Righteous Mind and has released a study comparing the writings of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris with Glenn Beck to see who uses dogmatic phrases and words like “always,” “never,” “undeniable,” etc. the most. The atheist use far exceeds any of the right wing political writers. Sam Harris is the champion using these words and phrases more than 2.5% of every word in his book. From Haidt's research we can see that the new atheists are pushing their own predetermined conclusions rather than presenting every side to allow their readers to reach informed decisions.

PRIMORDIAL GRAVITATIONAL WAVES FOUND? One of the predictions of the Big Bang has been that if time, space, and matter/energy came into existence in a singularity, the universe would have expanded by a factor of 1075 during the first trillionth of a trillionth of a second after it happened. Such an event would have produced effects that should be visible today, including gravitational waves. On March 17, 2014, researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced that they had detected the presence of these waves. Other researchers have to verify the observations for it to be accepted by the scientific community. If this observation stands, it will have major implications for relativity, quantum mechanics, and our understanding of the origin of the universe. This is exciting research with huge implications. The big bang is not an issue for apologetics, because it does not attempt to explain what banged or who banged it. What it does do is tell us that there was a beginning to time, space, and matter/energy as the Bible maintains. This beginning logically has to have been caused. The question of what caused it is answered by looking at the properties such a cause would have to possess. All of those properties are seen in the biblical concept of what God is. Our discussion of cosmology on our doesgodexist.org website group goes into this in some depth. Source: Science News, April 5, 2014, page 6, and Time, March 31, 2014, page 22.

GRAVITY WAVES AND MULTIVERSES. One product of the discussion on gravity waves is that the mathematics involved makes it possible for many universes to exist, ours just being one of them. This is an interesting speculation, but the biggest problem with this speculation is that it is not testable. Einstein proposed a version of the multiverses known as the oscillating universe, but ultimately it was discarded because the model proposed violated some calculations and observations. The current theory as it exists now is untestable. There is no experiment or observation that can prove or disprove it. Many scientists believe it is not a scientific subject because of its very nature, and philosophers have raised many major logical issues with the proposal. Our discussions about the existence of God are based on evidence, and at this time there is no evidence of multiverses. If that changes, we will look at it. Source: “Multiverse Musings: Is It Testable?” by Dr. Jeff Zweerink, Reasons to Believe website reasons.org, Nov. 25, 2013.

PEDOPHILIA REVIVED. In the 1970s pedophiles organized a group called The Pedophile Information Exchange which was a pro-sex-with-children group. The claim was connected to gay rights movements with the pedophiles claiming their civil rights are being violated. We now see some movement in England to revive this group based upon the fact that they are a minority and thus should have their rights protected. We would suggest this just shows how ridiculous it is to suggest everyone has equal rights no matter what those rights do to others. In a culture that is leaving God’s moral standards it is inevitable. Source: The Week, March 14, 2014, page 14.

BENEFITS OF DARK SKIN. There has been a tendency for many people to think that black races came about in recent times and that white races are the majority. The fact is the lighter the skin the less likely it is that the individual will survive. Recent studies have shown that the lighter the skin the more likely it is that melanoma, a usually fatal skin cancer, will develop. We have pointed out the latitude effect of darker races tending to have their origins in equatorial areas while lighter skin seems to dominate in northern areas. Adam and Eve most likely had darker skin, and white skin color is the newcomer to this planet. It is interesting that in Song Of Solomon 1:1 –  7 reference is made in a positive way to the dark skin of one of Solomon's wives. The dark pigmentation is a design feature of the human body that protects against the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation. Source: Science News, April 5, 2014, page 9.

ADDICTION AND GOD. In Science News (March 22, 2014, page 16) there is an interesting article about addiction. The article discusses research on addiction causes and cures and handles the chronic disease of addiction and its role as a temporary failure to cope. What is of interest to us is the fact that the article compares two types of treatments for drug addiction, but emphasizes the prevalence of 12-step centers that promote “recognizing a higher power that enables one to quit.” In my 50 years of working with addicted young people in public schools and adults in the prison population, I have seen how well knowing Jesus as that “higher power” works. Research is supporting what many of us have seen on a practical level as a way to stop addiction.

IS AGE RELATED TO BELIEF? What happens to our gullibility as we get older? Are we more or less skeptical? AARP reports on a study from the University of Texas at Austin about what people over 50 believe as compared to younger people. It is an interesting comparison. Here are some of the results:

Do You Believe In …
    Over 50 Younger
Space Aliens? Yes 14% 27%
Ghosts? Yes 18% 33%
Astrology? Yes 10% 19%
Bigfoot? Yes 12% 22%
Angels? Yes 57% 46%
Heaven? Yes 58% 56%

Source: AARP The Magazine, April 2014, page 8.

Picture credits:
© brookhouse. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.