REMINDER. There are a large number of new things that have been produced by our program this year. We hope that you have not missed any of them; but to make sure, here are the new things that have come out during 2004:

If you missed one of these items and are interested in them, be sure to contact us for more information.

Enough Gasoline? Have you ever sat in your car on a freeway in the middle of thousands of cars and trucks, all of which have their engines running, and marveled at how much gasoline mankind is consuming in cars and other engine powered vehicles? Jeffrey Dukes at the University of Massachusetts has researched this out. It takes 100 tons of plant matter to make a gallon of gasoline. It would take 40 acres of wheat to make 100 tons of plant material. The annual consumption of gasoline in the United States is 131 billion gallons of gasoline which would require 25 quadrillion pounds of biomass. Dukes calculates that mankind has with his engines burned enough fuel to have come from all the plants on the earth for 13,300 years. God's preparation of the earth so that man could survive on it has been incredible. -- Reference: Discover, April 2004, page 11

Galileo. History buffs will enjoy a new book titled Galileo in Rome (Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-516598-5) which shows that Galileo's problem with the Catholic Church had little to do with the Copernican heliocentric question and more to do with doctrine.

Doom and Gloom by 2100. Scientific American, July 2004, pages 48-49, contains an article with that title by Sir Martin Rees. Rees states that "Life exists thanks to a happy combination of physical constants" and goes on to point out that there are multiple things from viruses to subatomic particles that could wipe out life because of the fragile nature of our existence. He states that all scientific explanations of the creation "remain perpetually incomplete." All of this points out how carefully designed the cosmos is, and the one parameter that Rees does not have in his analysis is the fact that God has designed and maintains things so that we can exist. Knowing that "In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28) improves our confidence that life will continue until God ends it.

Moonstruck. There are many interesting facts about things in nature that you might not expect. National Geographic, December 2003, has an interesting comment in the Geographica section. They mention that animals do respond to lunar phases. Examples are:

Coral polyps in the Great Barrier Reef spawn after the full moon in October or November.

Horseshoe crabs mate along the coast in North America on the full and new moons in May or June.

Grunion fish beach themselves in California immediately after full or new moons from February to September.

Some moth species fly toward the moon and are caught in the jet stream and carry their offspring to distance places. Design features seem to be everywhere we look--even in moonlight.

The Passion of the Christ. The movie that is praised and vilified by religious and secular writers is now in video stores and Walmart material and everyone has either seen it or seen enough discussion about it to have definite opinions about it. This journal is about evidence and faith. We are concerned with the apologetic value and whether something like this is a positive, negative, or of no value in addressing questions of faith. We would suggest this movie is of no value as an apologetic. Those who are already believers in Jesus as the Son of God will be emotionally moved by the film, but those with doubts and disbelief will not find it to be helpful. There are enough biblical errors in the film to be destructive, especially in the portrayal of Satan and his role. The use of Latin and Aramaic and subtitles does not enhance understanding.

An atheist who has questions about his atheism expressed what I view as a valid concern about the violence in the film. His statement is: "The film was filled with so much graphic depiction of violence that there was no space left for whether the story is true or not. Truth and reason came in a poor second to blood and violence, where the only message of the film is the appalling brutality inflicted on Jesus." People have seen so much violence on T.V. and in the movies, and have watched video games and science fiction in which reality and fantasy have been confused and blurred. We also know that money is a driving force in Hollywood and this leaves confused motives to those struggling with faith.

The death of God's Son on the cross is a terrible and beautiful story. There is archeological and historical evidence available to those who will consider it. In the long run it is the study of that evidence and of the Bible itself that will build our faith in Jesus as the Christ. "Faith (in Jesus) comes by hearing, and hearing from the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). There are no Hollywood short cuts to this faith.

UFOs Again. We have pointed out repeatedly in this journal that claims that there are mystic forces or aliens affecting what humans do so that we are not in control of our destiny are not biblically supported, nor do they have any evidence to support them. Recently there has been media promotion of a group of fast moving lights filmed in the skies near Mexico City, Mexico. In recent years atmospheric scientists have discovered electrical phenomena called sprites that can give off lights in certain conditions, and those conditions were clearly present during the Mexico City sightings. It is important not to jump to conclusions about claims of any kind, and there continues to be virtually no support for claims that alien intelligences are causing things to happen on the earth.

Enough Water? Time magazine ( April 5, 2004 page 21) reports that it would take 2.5 billion gallons of water a day to meet the minimum needs of every human on the earth today. That is the amount of water used every day to irrigate the world's golf courses. There is no need for starvation and poverty on planet earth; the resources are there.

Origin of man confusion. For the past 50 years at least, it has been fashionable to maintain that man originated in Africa, and that he then migrated throughout the world. This has been difficult to reconcile with the biblical location which places the Garden of Eden in the Fertile Crescent (in the present day nation of Iraq.) That area has been agreed to have been the "birthplace of civilization," but prehumans in the literature are always portrayed as of African origin. The fact is that there is growing evidence that man originated in Europe, not in Africa. An article in Scientific American, November 2003 told of new finds in the Republic of Georgia with dates claimed to be 1.75 million years ago. There have also been ancient finds reported in Israel, Pakistan, China, and Italy that add new fuel to this anthropological controversy. We would suggest that this issue is far from settled anthropologically, and our understandings of the story of man will continue to grow and mature as new data becomes available. The lesson of the past is that as we get more and more evidence, we find more and more support for the biblical account.

Genome errors. The human genome has been studied and data has been printed out so that researchers in all areas of study can look for ways of treating genetic problems in mankind. It is turning out that the genome itself is far more reliable than those who record it. Discover magazine reports (January 2004, page 31) that 60 to 70% of the published studies involving DNA sequences from the genome contain "significant errors." These are human typos, transcription errors, and other human mistakes which endanger applications of the genome studies. Our point would be that if humans cannot even copy the sequence correctly, how can we believe that the sequence itself is a product of chance? It would seem that massive intelligence must have been involved in the creation and maintenance of the human genome to allow man to live as successfully as he has on the earth for such a long time.

ABT attacks denominational creationists ethics. We have tried to distance the Does God Exist? program from denominational programs which use doctrinal foundations to determine their position on questions like the age of the earth, dispensationalism, and end times. These groups have big money and virtually control home schooling curriculum and much religious literature. In the February 2004 issue of The American Biology Teacher, pages 85-87, the editors not only report on the annual incomes of these groups (which is in the millions of dollars), but also lists their association with segregation, the Ku Klux Klan, and other extremists over the years. In our opinion, this is an unfortunate smear technique, but it is also why we need to separate what God says and what the Bible teaches from the errors that humans engage in. Creationism has a bad track record, but the Bible's teachings are beautifully clear, accurate, and constructive.

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