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from Does God Exist? March/April 2015

A lady

SEX CHANGE IS BIOLOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE according to Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. McHugh is a psychiatry professor who maintains that people opting for transgenderism have a mental disorder. Like homosexuality most people who are asking for a sex change operation have a multiplicity of things that contribute to their feelings. Abuse, drug use by them or their parents, environmental pollution, and social pressure are all involved in both situations. Some support for McHugh's position comes from the Federal Bureau of Prisons which reports that 47% of black transgender Americans have been incarcerated. In sex-change operations there is a forced biological change that usually requires hormones and other chemical factors to get into the medical solution. The effects of these drugs on the mind, as well as the chemical problems induced by the surgical procedures, are largely unknown. There will be a lot of complaining from gay-rights activists and political liberals about McHugh's position. Christians need to understand that our role should be to show compassion and sympathy to all people in our society, including people who struggle with their sexual identity, whatever the cause may be. That has to be tempered with a recognition that God is very clear about what his plan is for men and women (Genesis 2:24; Romans 1:18 – 27). Source: The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2014.

“GAY” MARRIAGE — EASY TO DO AND HARD TO UNDO. As our culture has embraced same-sex marriage and is now considering polygamy, polyandry, group marriage, and even human/animal marriage, the question remains how do you break up such marriages? In Missouri, divorce is denied by the state. Several other states have long waiting periods for a divorce to be recognized. The question of common law marriages is also surfacing in several states. The bottom line is that God's plan for marriage works. When man tries to change what God has instituted, the result is always destructive and painful. Source: South Bend Tribune, December 16, 2014, page A8.

ABORTION DEBATE CONTINUES TO SWIRL AROUND THE WRONG QUESTIONS. Abortion continues to be a divisive subject and people on all sides of the issue continue to harp on the wrong questions. In the Washington Post, Janet Harris complains about Planned Parenthood and pro-lifers using the phrase “difficult decision” when referring to abortion. She maintains that 87% of women who have had abortions had a “high confidence” in their decisions. Kevin Drum writing in Mother Jones complains about pro-lifers who have abortions when faced with an unwanted pregnancy. From President Obama to pro-life picket carriers, the question of when life begins remains unanswered and often unapproached. When politicians are asked, “When does human life begin?” the almost universal response is as Obama said, “I haven't investigated that issue.” If you have not answered that question, how can you make a decision on whether abortion is murder or not? From a logical, scientific standpoint, it is clear that human life begins at conception, It is also clear that the fetus is not “an extension of the mother's body.” The fact that our society has become calloused to the point of not caring whether the aborted baby is a human or not does not answer the most important question about abortion. Source: The Week, August 29, 2014, page 17, and MotherJones.com.

ISLAM AND VIOLENCE. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). We maintain in this journal that he was stating a fact. Obviously, in our day of religious pluralism, many people object to that belief and attach the label of “intolerant” to it. One of the objections to Islam is the violence that groups like ISIS practice against everyone, including other Muslims. Defenders of Islam say “ISIS is not — nor will it ever be — Islamic.” It is true that Muslim groups all over the world have distanced themselves from ISIS. Atheists and Muslims alike compare ISIS to the Ku Klux Klan, which claimed to be a “Christian” organization. They say that the Klan and ISIS are identical in their methods. The fallacy in that argument is that the Ku Klux Klan's actions were in opposition to everything Jesus taught. Nowhere in the New Testament is there any instruction for Christians to kill their enemies. In fact, just the opposite is taught as Christians are told to love their enemies (Matthew 5:43 – 45). ISIS can turn to the Koran and quote Mohammed's instructions, “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads” (Sura 47:3 – 5). The command to make war and slay the enemies of Islam is clear in Suras 8:37 – 41 and 9:4 – 7. There is no valid comparison to be made between Islam and Christianity concerning violence. Source: The Koran, Penguin Classics, 1974, and The Week, September 16, 2014, page 17.

ANTI-RELIGION SILLINESS INCREASES. You wonder where it will end. According to The Week, September 5, 2014, page 4, a student in a Tennessee classroom named Kendra Turner said “bless you” to another student who had sneezed. For that Kendra was suspended. The school maintains that “bless you” is on the teacher's list of “banned language.” Turner says she has a right to free speech. The teacher is quoted as saying, “We're not going to have godly speaking in my class.” As a former high school teacher, I am sure there is more to this story than The Week is reporting. The fact is that our culture is becoming paranoid about anything that is construed to be religious.

THE CHANGING EARTH. We have had numerous articles in this journal over the years concerning the need for change. We have tried to point out that Christians are to be new people, constantly growing and changing in a variety of ways. The very existence of earth and its resources for humans depends on change. We get new information nearly every day about how this change occurs. The latest figures show that one of these changes is that our planet gets 40,000 metric tons of cosmic dust added to it every year. This dust comes from the creation of the solar system and the stresses put on comets as they orbit the sun. This dust continually adds minerals to the earth's ecosystem and is being studied for a variety of practical uses. Compared to earth's mass of about 6,000 billion, billion metric tons, the dust is not enough to alter our orbit around the sun substantially. However, it does affect all of life on earth in direct and indirect ways. Source: Astronomy magazine, September 2014, page 56.

COURT DECISION MAKES SECULAR HUMANISM A RELIGION. For some time there has been a battle going on in the Federal District Court in Oregon. The American Humanist Association representing a federal prisoner, Jason Holden, in suing the United States for not considering Humanism to be a religion. They want Humanism to have all rights afforded to religions. Specifically, Holden wanted the prison he is in to allow the formation of a Humanist study group. On October 30, 2014, Judge Ancer Haggerty issued a ruling agreeing with the plaintiffs saying, “The Court finds that Secular Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes.” Many humanists will not like this ruling which admits that humanism is a faith and not a fact, and the rules and restrictions placed on religion are something atheists have not had to contend with in the past. It also means that secular humanism cannot be entwined with curriculum in the schools and that it must be separated from the state in church/state questions. It will be interesting to see how this decision impacts the church/state struggles that have been going on throughout the United States.

Entrance to Auschwitz

AUSCHWITZ TURNS INTO A PARTY. Over a million people were murdered at the Auschwitz concentration camp. It is now a tourist attraction with special observation platforms at the gas chambers, the gallows, the latrines, and the torture chambers. In The Week (November 7, 2014, page 16) there is a description of “jolly tourists” who behave as if they were going to an amusement park instead of a Nazi death camp. Instead of learning about the Holocaust and where racism and naturalism can take us, the visitors turn a tragedy into an amusement park atmosphere. It is no wonder that we are insensitive to the pain and suffering in the world, and paralyzed in doing anything to stop it when the tragedies of the past are dismissed in the name of keeping ourselves entertained.

ASSISTED SUICIDE GROWS. Most of us have been astounded at the rapid growth of people taking their own lives. November 1, 2014, saw a great deal of media attention given to two women with terminal brain cancer. One was a married woman who was having headaches from her cancer requiring constant medication. Otherwise she was able to do everything she normally did, including conducting interviews on television. She ended her life in Oregon where she had moved to participate in assisted suicide legally. The other was a young lady fulfilling her dream of playing in a college basketball game even though she had some severe motor problems from her cancer. Her last days were made special by her continuing to fulfill her dreams and have an influence on others. Five states in the U.S. allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of prescription medications to terminally ill patients. In Switzerland, where “going to Switzerland” has become a euphemism for assisted suicide, businesses now operate which give customers access to medically assisted suicide. Studies show that 21 percent of the over 1000 customers of assisted suicide clinics since 1998 did not have a terminal or progressive illness. Some of the customers committed suicide due to ringing in the ears or because of being disfigured by a cosmetic surgery. Our world has decided that human life is no different from any animal life. You can now travel to Switzerland and die at the hands of a doctor in one day. If we are not created in the image of God and have no purpose in existing, then the termination of one's life is of no consequence.

A cross section of an eye

NEW DATA REFUTES CRITICS OF EYE DESIGN. Atheists frequently try to dispute the design of things in the creation. One of the claims is that some things, such as the human eye, are poorly designed. In the case of the eye, there has been criticism of where the optic nerve is attached to the eye. This attachment point produces a “blind spot” in the vision for which the brain has to compensate. New research shows that the position of the optic nerve allows for greater resolving power so that the eye sees more clearly than it would if the nerve were attached anywhere else. The better our data becomes, the more evidence we see for design in every part of the creation. As David said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.” (Psalm 139:14). Source: Atlantis Rising, November/December 2014, #108, page 10.

DNA DISCOVERER SELLS NOBEL PRIZE. James Watson, who along with Francis Crick discovered the double helix structure of DNA, has decided to sell his medal. Watson has gotten a lot of criticism in recent years because of a public statement to the Times of London in 2007 in which he maintained that “intelligence in Africa is different than ours.” The fact is that Watson's statement was based on his faith in evolution as the sole cause of differences in living things. Watson's belief (and that of people who justified slavery in the past) is that whites were more highly evolved than blacks. Watson's most damning statement was, “Despite hopes that everyone is equal, people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.” The Bible maintains the equality of all humans in passages like Galatians 3:28, and all evidence points to the fact that IQ tests were culturally loaded making their results invalid. In fact, we are all equal as humans, and the tragedy of racial prejudice lies to a great degree at the feet of naturalists like Watson, not the teachings of Christ. Source: AOL News, December 4, 2014.

CHIMP LAWSUIT ADVANCES. Four captive chimpanzees in New York have become the first non-human primates in history to sue their human captors in an attempt to gain their freedom. Actually this is being done by a group of lawyers who have formed an organization called the Nonhuman Rights Project. The basis of all of this is that the chimps have been shown “to possess highly developed cognitive capabilities.” The chosen criteria for that statement include such things as infant care, indication of social awareness, expressions of love, demonstrations of emotion, a concept of past and future, the ability to make tools, and genetic similarities to humans. If you believe that humans are just a product of natural processes and thus have no special characteristics, then such a lawsuit makes sense. If you believe that humans were specially created in God's image, then your view is entirely different. Christianity teaches social responsibility including obeying laws, paying taxes, etc. How these chimps will do those things is not clear. It is also interesting that whales, elephants, and even dogs demonstrate some of these characteristics, and anthropomorphism (ascribing human characteristics to animal behavior) seems to be the basis of all of this. Source: Popular Science, December 2014, page 84.

FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME DEBUNKED. Since the time of Freud there have been psychiatrists who have maintained that abuse and trauma experienced as a child can be forgotten for decades and then reappear as mental illness later in life. There have even been cases where parents have been dragged into court and subjected to humiliation and financial hardship to treat Decades Delayed Disclosure (DDD). In almost all cases where this has happened the families have been torn apart, and some Christian families have suffered from such claims. A group called the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has been formed in Philadelphia to combat this kind of therapy of a supposed abuse which, as it turns out, usually has not happened. In many cases, discipline that was biblical and not abusive is what the child is reacting to. It is a situation of normal resentment from an adolescent struggling with desire and resenting parental guidance. The religious implications of this mental health myth's effect on people are enormous. Source: Skeptical Inquirer, January/February 2015, page 16.

COMET LANDING DATA COMES IN. On November 12, 2014, a robot called Philae fell from its mother ship Rosetta onto comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. As data came in from the robot's activity, which includes drilling into the surface, one immediate result was that the water found in the comet is not the kind of water that produced the oceans on earth. The comet's water contains very high amounts of heavy hydrogen, which is hydrogen with a neutron in the nucleus making it heavier than ordinary hydrogen. That means that the water on earth did not come from this kind of comet and must have some other source. This is another step in understanding the uniqueness of planet earth. The special methods that produced our planet speak of wisdom and design. The more we learn about the cosmos and its creation, the closer we get to the Creator. Source: Science News, December 13, 2014, page 6.

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