News & Notes

AUSTRALIAN TRIP. Many of you have commented about our annual summer seminar program, which in 1996 was to Australia. With a group of Christians from America, we spent two weeks in Australia under the direction of Queenslander Travel (a Christian tour and travel business in Denver). During the two week trip, we presented programs in Blacktown, Cairns, and Brisbane and had the pleasure of staying with Christian families in all three towns. In Cairns, we presented a public university program that was very well attended from the community.

We will have some articles in future issues of this journal about the biology, geology, and anthropology of Australia, but the need for evidence material in Australia and New Zealand cannot be over- emphasized. The only contact the general Australian public has had with evidence material is the anti-evolution material of denomina-tional creationist groups, which they have generally rejected because of the adversarial approach and scientific problems. We had the same experience with non-christians in Australia that we have in the United States with people saying "we would really like to believe in God and in Christ, but no one has shown us that we can intelligently believe in God without embracing things we know are wrong." We have a large number of people we are studying with and hope that in the future we will be able to be of greater use to this beautiful land of people who are generally frustrated with the secular leadership they have experienced on an educational, political and social basis.

CHRISCROSS--A NEAT IDEA FOR TEENS. The La Grange Church of Christ (PO Box 523, La Grange, TX 78945, phone 409/968-5676) has a neat idea for teens which they are calling ChrisCross. What is involved is a pen pal concept of putting teens in contact with teens in other countries with similar background. Teens who are Christians can write the LaGrange congregation for an application form to fill out expressing their interests. They will be sent the name and address of a Christian teen in another country or another part of the U.S. with similar interests. It is hoped that fellowship, friendships, and service to the Church can be built with this program.

CENTENNIAL PARK, TWA, ETC. At the time I am writing this column, the United States has been wracked with a series of senseless acts of violence. A bomb has disrupted an otherwise congenial and positive Olympic Games, and a commercial jet has been senselessly blown out of the skies. Tragedy motivates a lot of thoughtless statements by people, especially when God's role is discussed. We have had a number of discussions in this journal and in our video and audio tape series about why God created man and why tragedy and violence are not prevented by a loving and a merciful God. Like all of our materials, these tapes and videos can be borrowed. If you would like some written materials on this topic, send a stamped envelope with your name and address on it to us and we will send you the article.

The major points that need to be understood are that we are in a battle between good and evil and, like Job, we are vital participants in this battle. For God to step in and prevent the natural conse-quences of following Satan's will would be to defeat the purpose for which man was created. God does not cause the problems, and God does provide an ultimate reward for those who follow His will but are innocent victims of the consequences of the battle. State-ments about God testing people, God chosing who would die, or God expressing displeasure by such events are simply statements of ignorance about why we exist and what our purpose in being is all about. We need to let people know that, like God, we care; like God, we weep with them; and we are ready to help in any way we can. Ultimately we will be free of terrorism, mental illness, selfishness, greed, racism, bigotry, etc., but not in this world.

MARILYN'S RESPONSE. There is a prevailing belief in the world (as we just pointed out in the previous note) that faith and science are enemies and that intelligent people are atheists. In Parade magazine, February 4, 1996, Marilyn vos Savant had a reader who expressed this view as follows: "I assume that you, like most intellectual types, are not a religious person. So what do you think of the Big Bang theory." Ms vos Savant responded: "I think that if it had been a religion that first maintained the notion that all the matter in the entire universe had once been contained in an area smaller than the point of a pin, scientists probably would have laughed at the idea." We believe there is a major point to be made in this exchange: when a proposal is made that is creative or imaginative, one should not reject it just because of the vantage point of the author.

MAN-MADE ECOSYSTEM A FLOP. In 1991, eight people were sealed in a three acre man-made ecosystem called "Biosphere 2." The idea was that this system would have nothing added externally to the system, but would function as a miniature planet. In an AP release, botanist Linda Leigh, one of the participants tells of roaches and ants swarming over workers, insufficient air, and food shortages. Designing a planet that will support life, it turns out, is incredibly complex; and getting the people living in the system to get along turned out to be even more difficult.

LIFE ON MARS. As we prepare this issue to go to press, the media is blitzing the American public with propoganda about finding life on Mars. First of all, we need to point out that finding life on Mars has no relationship to the existence of God or to whether chance explains the creation of all living systems. What it would mean is that God has formulated life in many places in the cosmos, perhaps with an eye to providing for man and perhaps other spiritual beings on a cosmological scale. What we are able to learn at this time (August 12, 1996) about what has really been found indicates that the whole situation is badly over-blown.

A meteorite with the same chemistry as rocks seen by the Viking Lander on Mars has been found on Earth. It is assumed on this basis that this meteorite came from Mars. Obviously other places in the cosmos might have produced the same chemistry. The meteorite named Allen Hills 84001 was found on the Antarctic ice sheet in 1984 and contained polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and some shapes that resemble some fossilized bacteria forms on Earth. It is assumed that no Earth contamination produced the compounds, that the re-entry process did not alter the meteorite, and that the hydrocarbons came from life forms even though they can be produced in other ways. We will keep you up to date as more data is released by scientists studying the meteorite, but at this time it seems to be media hype that is sustaining the claim, not evidence.

DINOSAUR EXTINCTION, LIKE ASTEROID NEAR-MISS, EMPHASIZES CATASTROPHISM. One of the major problems that Neo-Darwinistic evolutionary theory has is its assumption of uniformitarianism. This is the belief that "the present is the key to the past," i.e., that no processes have been operational in shaping and modifying the history of the earth in the past that are not going on right now. Neo-Darwinism cannot accept the notion of the biblical flood, for example, because such a catastrophe would have cut off too many life forms for the diversity we see today to be possible.

The famous scientist Louis Alverez provided evidence in the early 1980s that an asteroid hitting the earth may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. This was done by noting that the remains of the last dinosaurs on earth were saturated with elements like osmium and rhenium far above normal earth concentrations, but similar to those seen in asteroids. Astronomers have announced that, at the end of May, an asteroid identified as 1996JA1 came within 280,000 miles of the earth--just slightly further than the moon. If it had hit the earth, it would have been traveling at 58,000 miles per hour and would have generated as much as 12,000 megatons of energy--equivalent to all of the nuclear weapons in the world going off at once. This find coupled with the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collision with Jupiter make it increasingly difficult to deny the biblical position that there have been periodic punctuations of the earth's history with global catastrophes.

JURASSIC PARK NOT POSSIBLE. In our lecture material and updated video and audio material, we have made reference to the fact that the genetic scenario from "Jurassic Park" is probably possible. This scenario was that science might be able to take dinosaur DNA from a mosquito or some other source and clone a dinosaur. In the May 10th issue of Science, Dr. Hendrik Poinar of the University of Munich points out that the process of racemization probably makes that impossible.

Racemization is the gradual change of left-handed amino acids to right-handed amino acids. What that means is that certain organic compounds found in living things have a structure which rotates polarized light in a certain way. In living tissue, only left-handed amino acids are found; but in non-living compounds, 50% of the compounds are left-handed and 50% are right-handed. When something dies, the amino acids are all left-handed and they gradually change until a 50-50 mix is obtained. The dating of an ancient biological specimen can be done by measuring the amount of turning and by knowing the rate at which the turning occurs.

What Poinar has done is to show that DNA goes through the same process, and thus dinosaur DNA would be changed to such an extent that cloning would not be possible. (Another reference on this subject is Science News, May 11, 1996, page 294, vol. 149.)

THE MISREADING OF GANYMEDE. The scientific community has always portrayed Jupiter's largest moon as being a smooth-surfaced icy place. On June 27, 1996, the Galileo spacecraft flew by Ganymede and sent back new pictures showing the moon to be covered with cracks indicating recent tectonic activity--covering even craters and volcanos that may have existed in the past. There are so many cracks that an underground ocean has been proposed to explain them.

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, Sep/Oct 1996