News and Notes title
from Does God Exist? September/October 2011

OBE CAUSE. “Out of the Body Experiences” (OBE) continue to make the news now and then. Recent studies of the anesthetic ketamine have shown that the drug causes feelings of detachment from one’s body and interferes with memory. This is done by cutting the neurotransmitter glutamate’s ability to energize certain areas of the brain by restricting transmission of the brain chemical. Ketamine is a “club drug” and has been used in the drug culture for a long time. It is becoming more and more clear that OBE claims can be drug related and lack spiritual connections or meanings. Source: Science News, March 26, 2011 page 9.

MORE CREATION DEBRIS. When the solar system was formed, massive amounts of energy were used to forge the planet we now live on as well as the other members of our solar system. We have all seen the molten material thrown out of a blast furnace as it produces iron-related materials. It appears that a similar splash must have been involved in the creation of the galaxies. We have now seen planets that have apparently been thrown out of their original solar systems and are drifting free in space. These wandering planets are very large Jupiter-like objects, but as instruments get better there may be earth-sized planets found as well. Astronomers are trying to discover what kind of process could do such a thing, and how a system like ours could ever become stable in such an environment. Source: The Week, June 3, 2011, page 21, and South Bend Tribune, May 21, 2011, page A5.

ACLU  CONTINUES IRRATIONAL SUITS. Sometimes you get the feeling that whoever makes the decisions for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) starts out by looking for the most absurd case they can imagine to deliberately offend moral and religious people. The Berkeley County Jail in South Carolina is being sued by the ACLU because the jail refuses to allow the inmates to have pornography. The lack of practicality is unbelievable in this case, but the nationwide implications are enormous. Source: The Week, June 10, 2011, page 6.

soupSTARVATION AND WASTE. We have maintained in this journal for many years that God has given us the capacity to feed every man, woman, and child on the planet. There have been attacks on the Bible for asserting that man should multiply and fill the earth. The claim is that this is what caused our global food problems. We are not saying that we should not control human population, but we believe that the planet has the capacity to support everyone living on it today or in the very near future. The United Nations has recently issued a report stating that one third of the food intended for human consumption is lost or wasted — some 1.3 billion metric tons. The problem is one we have created by our actions, not by overpopulation.
Source: Time, May 30, 2011, page 9.

MISUSE OF DIETARY CLAIMS. We must be careful about dietary claims of any kind, but especially when those claims come from groups promoting a certain religious view. There are some writers who claim that because we eat synthetics we cannot live as long as Methuselah, and that chemical substitutes like aspartame sweetener are causing every ailment you can imagine. There are people who have a genetic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU), and because they cannot process phenylalanine used in making aspartame they should avoid it.  Claims that aspartame metabolizes into methanol, aspartic acid, and phenylalanine are true, but a cup of tomato juice produces six times as much methanol as a cup of diet soda and the methanol breaks down into water and carbon dioxide. Aspartic acid and phenylalanine are amino acids we need to survive. What goes into our minds is much more likely to cause problems than what an artificial sweetener might do to us. Be careful about foods, but do not buy into every claim made. Source: Skeptic magazine, volume 16, number 3, page 4.

SYNTHESIS  OF CARBON AND DESIGN. How do you produce a carbon atom? The classic answer is by fusing three helium atoms, and this is proposed to take place only in the cores of helium-rich stars. What is needed is an energy-rich form of carbon produced by three very loosely linked helium nuclei. This makes a diffuse carbon nucleus called the Hoyle state carbon, and can only exist with other forms of carbon. Since 1954 physicists have been working on this process to calculate what energy is required for the carbon nucleus to exist. In the May 10, 2011, issue of Scientific Computing a joint report was issued by the University of Bonn, Ruhr-Universitat Bochum, North Carolina State University, and Forschungszentrum Julich stating that the Hoyle state had been computed. If there is a specific energy for the carbon nucleus to exist, then life is limited even more than what was previously thought because a very specific environment and process would have to be present to produce the carbon. We have talked in this journal many times about environmental issues in space required for life, but this is a nuclear question and may be the best evidence yet that life cannot be explained by chance processes. Source:

sunNEW DATA ON SUN. The design of stars to provide the energies needed to support life is amazing. Recent data on the sun shows that the amount of hydrogen that is converted to helium every second is 600 million tons. That is equivalent to the weight of all the coal burned in the United States in seven months. We have been provided with enough energy to supply our needs, we just need to learn how to use it better. Source: Discover, April, 2011, page 12.

“THE SEARCH FOR THE HISTORICAL ADAM.” This is the cover story of the June 2011 issue of Christianity Today (page 22). The basic question is whether genome studies have proven that man came from earlier animals and not from one man and one woman. The controversy has started with Francis Collins and his BioLogos Foundation which is dedicated to promoting theistic evolution. The genome of chimps was mapped in 2005 and when compared with humans is 95 to 99 percent a perfect match depending on what factors are included. Collins and his associates feel that is enough to say that we and the chimps have a common ancestor, and the Christianity Today article has theologians arguing about what that means. We have pointed out in this journal numerous times that what defines man is not his body. The biblical definition of man is that creature uniquely created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26 – 27). This has nothing to do with how the human body looks or even how God created it. What is it about man that allows us to worship God, create art, express ourselves in music and poetry, feel guilt, be sympathetic, and to be able to reason? We are not 95 percent the same as chimps in these features. The blueprints for the basement of my house and for my neighbor’s swimming pool are almost identical. To demand that my basement evolved from an ancient swimming pool is to force everything to be explained in a physical way and would make no sense to anyone. In the same way the biblical message of God’s creation of man is not primarily a physical event. God created man from the dust of the earth and placed within man and woman an eternal soul that is in His image. Demanding that God must have followed a physical human methodology is an exercise in futility.

BIBLICAL MINIMALISM IN TROUBLE. For a very long time there has been a constant struggle among scholars between those who thought the Bible was true and accurate and those who thought it was unreliable both factually and historically. Archaeological scholars who believe that much of the Hebrew Bible is merely myths written at a much later date are referred to as biblical minimalists. The latest wave of challenges to the Bible came about in the 1980s with some scholars claiming that ancient Israel never existed and that the stories of David and Solomon were myths unsupported by historical evidence. It is obvious that such viewpoints are used by atheists and skeptics to undermine the faith of the public, and in the past five years we have seen a growth in such attempts by people like Richard Dawkins. In the May/June 2011 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (page 46), there is an article by Yosef Garfinkel, who is the Yigael Yadin Chair of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The article is titled “The Birth and Death of Biblical Minimalism.” The bottom line is that new archeological finds and more detailed studies of ancient finds have undercut the position of the biblical minimalists so badly that such a viewpoint cannot be seriously considered. Garfinkel says that the “mythological paradigm was nothing but a modern myth.”

pregnant womanMISCARRIAGES AND DEPRESSION. A study of over thirteen thousand women who lost a child during pregnancy reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry has shown a high level of anxiety and depression in the women even when carrying another child to successful birth. The application to women having abortions should be obvious. Source: Science News, April 9, 2011, page 13.

THE VALUE  OF A CHURCH IN AMERICA. Ram Cnaan from the University of Pennsylvania is a nonbeliever who has been studying the value of urban churches to the cities in which they are located. We have long maintained that people who suggest taxing churches do not understand how much the Church saves the community in counseling, crime prevention, alcohol and drug prevention, community services, suicide prevention, education, death arrangements, and employment. Cnaan’s finds placed the average annual value for an urban church at almost half-a-million dollars. He plans to release a detailed report on a study he made of twelve churches in Philadelphia. One church in that city had an annual value to the economy of more than six million dollars. That economic value to the community is more than 10 times the church’s annual budget. This points out that the tax issue is more complex than most people realize. Source: Christianity Today, April 2011, page 9.

Allen Telescopic
          ArraySETI INSTITUTE TURNS OFF E.T. SENSORS. Lack of funds has caused the SETI Institute (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) in Mountain View, California, to turn off their receivers that are designed to search for radio signals from intelligent life on other planets. Along with putting the existing receivers into “hibernation,” the plans for 42 more dishes at a cost of $50 million has been put on hold. On their website they are asking for donations to “bring the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) back online and resume scanning the skies for intelligent life!” They say that, “This is a journey that will last our lifetimes, as we continually strive to get closer to answering the kinds of questions that may one day change everything about our world.” Since its founding in 1984 the SETI Institute has been listening for intelligent life in space, but has found no evidence. We want to say again that the Bible is silent on the question of whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos. Source: San Jose (CA) Mercury News, April 26, 2011.

NEW  TRANSLATIONS. The Roman Catholic Church has released The New American Bible which is said to contain reordered passages and language improvements so that it is closer to the original text and better reflects modern usage. Zondervan has also released a new version of the New International Version which has been the most popular translation among Protestants. However, the new NIV is meeting resistance among many conservative Christians because of it efforts to be “gender neutral.”

NEW YORK  ATHEISTS ARE AT IT AGAIN. In the March/April 2011 issue of this journal we reported on a billboard placed by atheists in the New York City area at Christmas time. It showed a manger scene with the caption, “You know it’s a myth — This Season Celebrate Reason.” Then in the last issue (July/August 2011) we reported that atheists in New York were demanding that the city change the name of a street honoring seven firefighters who were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The name of the street near the fire station had been changed to “Seven in Heaven Way.” The atheists were saying that name violated the “separation of church and state” by using the word “heaven.” The president of the atheist organization was quoted as saying, “There should be no signage or displays of a religious nature in the public domain...” The reason he gave was “We’ve concluded as atheist there is no heaven and there’s no hell.” Now the New York atheists have filed a lawsuit against a display at the 9/11 memorial where the World Trade Center once stood. The item in question is two intersecting steel beams about 17-feet long that were found intact in the ashes and debris left at Ground Zero. The beams, of course, form the shape of a cross, and that is why the atheists object. Joe Daniels, the president of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum said that the cross is “an important part of our commitment to bring back the authentic physical reminders that tell the history of 9/11 in a way nothing else could.” Jordan Sekulow of the American Center of Law and Justice pointed out that the atheist group has no objection to Muslims building a huge mosque near the Ground Zero site which is being endorsed by government officials. Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, said about the cross that it is “presented as a reminder that their god, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross.” We would have to remind the atheists that God gives people free-will to act against His will, by killing innocent people, by blaspheming and denying His existence, and even by blaspheming and killing His only Son who came to redeem us from the sin of wrong choices. Thank God for the “rubble” of a wooden cross 2000 years ago. Source:, July 27, 2011, and, July 28, 2011.

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