Bulletin Banner

Return to May/June 2012 articles.

Article title
from Does God Exist? May/June 2012

GLOBAL WARMING. The complexity of the issue of global warming increases with every new discovery. The Soufrière Hills volcano in Montserrat has been emitting tiny sulfur-rich particles referred to as aerosols since 1995. These particles tend to shield the earth from solar radiation, and that cools the earth. There is much evidence that global warming is taking place, but one of the things that appears to be limiting how much warming is actually happening is the natural introduction of cooling agents to the atmosphere. Source: Science News, December 31, 2011, page 32.

JUNK DNA NOT REALLY JUNK. Many of us were told in our college training that only about 2% of the segments of DNA carry instructions for building proteins. The rest was said to be unreadable by the cell’s machinery and was called “junk DNA.” It now turns out that most of this 98% of the remaining DNA is read by the cell, and it was the biologists who did not understand the DNA language. The junk DNA does contain codes for making molecules, but the molecules are not proteins. One such set of molecules called lincRNAs also regulates what happens in the cell. Stuart Knowing and Kevin Morris of Scripps Research Institute are leading the scientific investigation of the value of junk DNA. The summary of their research is that “what was once considered the trash of the cell is becoming treasure.”

In a related development, a study has been released that shows that electricity can also affect the way in which cells are stimulated to accomplish their jobs. All cells have an electrical state called a “membrane potential.” These act as electronic gates to control the flow of charged atoms (ions) that flow across the membrane and tell the cell what to do. Researchers at Tufts University have been able to get eyes to grow in the gut of a tadpole by manipulating the electric signals. The complexity of this subject speaks highly of the wisdom of the Creator and the inadequacy of blind chance to make it work. Sources: Science News, December 17, 2011, page 2, and December 31, 2011, page 5.

MONARCH BUTTERFLY GENOME SHOWS DESIGN. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts have deciphered the entire genome of the monarch butterfly. What was found was that there were genes that help the monarch sense the sun’s position and navigate their migration routes. Two-hundred-seventy-three million DNA units make up the monarch genome and their remarkable migration abilities are rooted in this complex genetic structure. The design features of the genome speak eloquently of the engineering of the genome itself. Migration routes are programmed instructions and we would suggest that God’s design is the best explanation of how this ability comes about. Source: Science News, January 14, 2012, page 16.

EVOLUTION MODELS AND TEXTBOOKS. There are many models of evolution and a variety of “trees of evolution.” These models and trees are based on different kinds of research from different fields. The biochemical models and the anatomical models will be somewhat different. As research continues it is hoped these differences will be reduced, but the question is which of these models do you present to students and do you let students know that there are conflicts between the models? An organization called Educational Research Analysts in Longview, Texas, has been pushing textbook publishers to point out that there are conflicts. They have had some success with some publishers. Getting young people to understand how science works is important, but selling a particular model when you know it has some weaknesses is not consistent with good science. For more on this from Educational Research Analysts go to www.textbookreviews.org.

MORE ON JEFFERSON’S BIBLE. We have mentioned several times in this column that the claim of some atheists that Thomas Jefferson was an atheist is more of an attempt to steal his name than a statement of fact. In the Smithsonian magazine (January 2012, page 24) there is an interesting discussion of Jefferson’s views, including more information about his cutting and pasting of the New Testament. According to the article, in 1820 Jefferson produced an 84-page volume titled “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” In 1804 he did the same thing in a volume titled “The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth” but that volume has been lost. Jefferson had some unorthodox views of the Bible, but to classify him as an atheist is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

MILITARY CHAPLAIN CHANGE. We have mentioned that military chaplains have been concerned that they might be required to perform marriages such as same-sex marriages that they do not feel are moral. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act which President Obama signed says, “A Military chaplain who, as a matter of conscience or moral principle, does not wish to perform a marriage may not be required to do so.” Hopefully that will resolve this issue. Source: Christianity Today, February 2012, page 13.

MAYAN APOCALYPSE DECEMBER 21, 2012? Doomsday predictions seem to never stop, and the current rage continues to be the Mayan calendar. The claim is that the Mayan calendar proposes a cycle of 394 years known as baktun. The 13th baktun ends this coming December 21 in which the god of war descends from the sky. In a book called The Mayan Prophecies published in 1996, Maurice Cotterell and Adrian Gilbert claimed that the Mayans predicted that solar activity would reverse the earth’s magnetic field in December of 2012 wiping out the human race. A huge number of books and even movies have been spawned by this, but the Mayan culture presents time as cyclical, not linear, so when the current calendar ends a new one begins. There is no reason to believe anything special will happen in December of 2012, but people fighting the recession and political struggles are good candidates for any claim that the end is near. The Pew Center released a poll in 2011 showing that 41% of all Americans believe the rapture will occur before 2050. The Bible makes it clear that no one knows when the end will come, but entrepreneurs will always find ways to make hurting people believe the worst. For a good general survey of all this see The Week, February 10, 2012, page 11.

A NEW “DOCTOR DEATH.” One of the most difficult issues facing many individuals and families is what to do when quality of life is virtually nonexistent and the person is ready to die. If the person is being kept alive by modern technology the issue is fairly simple, and few of us have a problem with “pulling the plug.” In some cases however such as Alzheimer’s or some kinds of cancer there is no plug to pull. Here in Michigan a few years ago Dr. Jack Kevorkian provided a chemical cocktail that people could give to themselves to commit suicide. When Kevorkian went to prison that option was removed, and he died in June of 2011. Lawrence Egbert is a retired anesthesiologist and Unitarian Universalist minister who has built a hood that uses helium and allows people to kill themselves. He claims to have been involved in 100 suicides in the past 15 years. He is the medical director for the “Final Exit Network” which is a 3000-member group that will even allow patients suffering from long term depression to terminate their existence. Egbert does not believe in an afterlife, and says, “I don’t think it’s worthwhile to worry about what happens to you when you’re dead.” When you reduce human life to a strictly animal existence, death is easier to treat because you euthanize a human the same way you do the household pet when quality of life is gone. If human life has value beyond the physical, that picture changes. Many times the last days of life on this earth can be the best for both those dying and the loved ones they leave behind. Source: Washington Post (January 19, 2012) reprinted in The Week, February 17, 2012.

VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY BANS RELIGIOUS GROUPS. The whole discussion about political correctness has hit a new low at Vanderbilt University where in the name of “nondiscrimination” groups like The Christian Legal Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, are being forced off campus. Vanderbilt was upset because a Christian fraternity had refused to admit a gay student. They then went on to say that “Christian leaders could not be asked to lead Bible study or worship.” The charters and constitutions of all student organizations are being reviewed by the university and the rights of students to be able to be a part of groups that share their views will apparently be sacrificed to political correctness. Posted by Todd Starnes on FACEBOOK February 1, 2012, and circulated by Fox News.

SUSAN KOMEN FOR THE CURE AND PLANNED PARENTHOOD RELATIONSHIP GETS COMPLICATED. The Komen pink ribbon campaign has done much to fund research and programs on breast cancer. Many churches and Christian publishing companies such as LifeWay Christian Resources had contributed a great deal of money to Komen over the years — $25,000 with $1.00 from the sale of each pink Holman Christian Standard Bible being an example. Planned Parenthood has diversified their services so that they are not just an abortion clinic, but also provide screening and education programs, so the Komen group sent money to 19 Planned Parenthood programs. This has upset many pro-life proponents who do not want any of their money going to an organization that promotes abortion. We would hope that some compromise might be reached in this so that money donated to fight breast cancer would only go to that effort, but that remains to be seen. Resource: Christianity Today, February 2012, page 15.

GOVERNMENT RULES AND CHURCH TEACHING. What do you do when the government makes a law that violates what the church teaches is God’s will? That might sound like a problem in Russia, but early in 2012 it has been a problem in the United States. President Obama’s Health and Human Services Department ruled in early February that “any religious organization that serves the general public must provide free contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs to employees.” The immediate conflict that this law has is with the Catholic church, but any religious group that has a college or university, preacher training school, nursing home, orphanage, etc., would be affected. The University of Notre Dame will face a $10 million per year fine if they do not offer this to their employees, and yet all of these things are against written beliefs and practices of the university. President Obama endorsed this law, but the uproar almost certainly means it will be moderated before this column gets to you. It is our suggestion that this is just the beginning of this issue. Requiring churches to hire gays or restrict who can be a preacher will be another area that we will see soon. It is a fearsome time in America and those who have convictions about politically incorrect moral issues are in for a very hard time. Sources: Time, February 20, 2012, page 20; The Week, February 10, 2012, page 17.

BACTERIA DEGRADED GULF OIL. Studies released in the past several weeks have shown that the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was greatly reduced in its effect because bacteria fed on the hydrocarbon plumes. Dr. Benjamin Van Mooy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said, “What happened in the deep plumes was far more complex than any of the initial papers had really acknowledged.” The role of bacteria and how processes on the earth are controlled and modified by bacteria is still pretty much unknown, but the design features help man even when man does something stupid like releasing massive amounts of crude into the ocean. Source: Science News, February 11, 2012, page 12.

NEW YORK PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDING USE. Many years ago we tried to do a lectureship in a public high school that was rented and was to be used after the school day was over. There was a great deal of controversy about this use, because New York State law said that churches could not use the schools. Shortly after we were there an atheist group was allowed to rent the same building we had tried to rent. Since that time this issue has continued to fester. The U.S. Second Circuit Court recently ruled, “A worship service is an act of organized religion that consecrates the place in which it is performed, making it a church.” We were talking about the existence of God when we were kicked out of the school, but now you could do anything you wished religiously as long as you did not “consecrate the place.” That means that the New York City Department of Education can bar all religious services if it can prove that the religious groups are consecrating the building. Christianity Today labels the rule “unconstitutional, discriminatory, and ridiculous.” (February 2012, page 41.) It is just one more example of the bias and bigotry against believers in God that exists in America today. Hopefully as people see what is going on in this area of concern there will be pressure on those in power to make religious freedom available to everyone, and not just those who choose to be politically correct.

INCREASE IN OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS. New data on babies born out of wedlock is astounding, and shows the growing trend to avoid marriage in our culture today. Here are the numbers:

Percent of babies born out-of-wedlock
To black mothers
To latinos
To whites
High school drop outs
High school graduates
Have had some college
College graduates

The message comes through loud and clear that our culture is changing rapidly, and a lack of education and the poverty that results has a high correlation with kids born in disadvantaged situations. The church has a huge opportunity to make a difference in these numbers and in the lives that these numbers describe. Source: Time, March 5. 2012, page 13.