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from Does God Exist? 1st Quarter 2018
OUR 2018 CANYONLANDS TOUR! Once again we will be conducting an educational tour of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, and the desert southwest. The dates will be September 9 – 14. For more information, see the description.
FRANCE ERASES CHRISTIANITY FROM PUBLIC VIEW. If you remember studying the history of France, you will recall that Christianity in one form or another had a major role in the history of that nation. In 2004 the French passed a law banning religious symbols in public. Now the French have decided that anything reflecting in a positive way on Christianity must be obliterated as France erases Christianity from the public view. Recent incidents are:
- The government ordered that a cross atop a statue of Pope John Paul II in a town in Brittany sculpted by Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli must be removed. It conflicts with the law banning religious symbols in public.
- Greek yogurt pots sold in a French supermarket chain were decorated with pictures of Greek villages. However, the Orthodox crosses on the churches in the pictures were removed because of the law.
- A charitable organization wanted to place posters in the Paris transport system inviting donations for Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East. The transport system refused to allow them because of the Christian reference.
The attack on Christianity is unique because public activity for other religions is encouraged. The mayor of Paris staged an event at taxpayer expense to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
As France erases Christianity from public view, we see the beginning of that kind of government bigotry in the United States. It shows its ugly head when Christmas scenes are displayed.
STUDY SHOWS HOW PEOPLE VIEW ATHEISTS. How do people around the world, even in atheistic cultures, view atheists as opposed to religious people? That was the target of an interesting study by the University of Kentucky. Using people in 13 countries around the world, the study gave a hypothetical situation and asked people what they would conclude about the result.
The candidates were told about a sociopath who tortured animals as a child, and killed five homeless people he abducted from poor neighborhoods in his home city and buried their remains in his basement. The participants were then given two choices. Choice one was either: The man is a teacher and a religious believer. Choice two was: The man is a teacher and does not believe in any gods. Sixty percent of all responders said the man was a teacher and does not believe in any gods.
What is interesting is that a large percentage of the participants were atheists themselves, and the conclusion of the study in The New York Times was that “even atheists show bias against atheists.” You can argue about why this bias exists, but the possible positive effect of belief in God seems to be at least a hope of many people of all persuasions. Source: San Antonio Express-News, August 13, 2017, page K5.
KNEELING CONTROVERSY. During the U.S. football season in the fall of 2017, we had a national kneeling controversy. It centered over whether the players have a right to kneel in protest during the national anthem. There have been enough varied opinions on this issue to fill a massive number of talk shows and ESPN commentary sessions. Many argue that “freedom of speech” is the issue, even though not a word is spoken.
This debate has ignored the right of coaches to kneel — including high school football coaches. Two years ago a Bremerton, Washington, high school coach named Joe Kennedy was fired for kneeling in prayer on the field after football games. There is no indication that players participated or were asked to participate. Kennedy appealed, and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against him, The court said he, “Took advantage of his position to press his particular views upon impressionable and captive minds before him.” Kennedy served 20 years in the Marines, and he says, “I just want the same rights as everyone else. What applies for one should apply to every American.”
As the kneeling controversy continues, I know many middle school and high school coaches in my area who have a moment of silent prayer or meditation before a game starts. If someone objected, that would probably be forbidden also.
In a C-SPAN interview, Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) said that we must “be able to determine where we are as Americans. If we are going to honor all free speech and all free exercise of religion, we need to be able to honor that universally.” We agree wholeheartedly.
DATA ON ALCOHOL AND CANCER. Perhaps the most frequently asked question we get is why God allows a disease like cancer to exist. There are multiple answers to this question, and no one has all the answers.
A new study released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology gives some data on alcohol and cancer. There are connections between alcohol consumption and malignancies of the head, neck, breast, liver, esophagus, colon, and rectum. The data shows that drinking is responsible for 5.5% of all new cancers and nearly 6% of all cancer deaths worldwide.
Our bodies metabolize alcohol into acetaldehyde which can cause mutations in DNA that lead to cancer. The lead author of the study, Dr. Noelle Lo Conte, says, “The message is if you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less.” “But if you don't already drink, don't start” she adds.
The word “intoxicate” has a simple meaning. When we take a poison (a toxic) into our bodies, we suffer the long-term effects of the poison. Most cancer is directly or indirectly related to what humans have done, and sometimes it is what we alone have done to ourselves. How can we blame God for what we have done?
PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS INCREASES. Persecution of Christians in the United States has thus far been pretty much confined to government legal attacks on the religious freedom of Christians. We have reported on some cases in recent months.
Unbelievers also are making legal attempts to silence the followers of Jesus Christ to prevent people from hearing our message. We are finding that even our lectureships on evidence for the existence of God and the validity of the Bible are now banned in many public places. That is especially true on university and college campuses. Places where we have regularly spoken for 50 years are now off limits to us. That is in the name of supporting the national mandate for religious pluralism.
Conditions in other parts of the world are much worse. The October 31, 2017, report from The Institute on Religion and Democracy tells that in India attacks on Christians have reached record numbers in 2017. Christians in a worship service in a small village were “viciously beaten by suspected Hindu radicals.” ISIS has killed Christians and destroyed churches in Syria. Coptic Christians in Egypt have been attacked and killed. In China, Christians were arrested for sharing their faith by singing in a public park. The Institute reports that “The greatest persecution of Christians in history has been occurring during years 2015 – 2017.”
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S WISDOM. Skeptics frequently take statements of the founding fathers of America and lift them out of context to make them appear to be rejecting Christianity. A careful study makes it obvious that they were certainly not opposed to Christianity and in fact embraced it. We even see it in Benjamin Franklin's wisdom.
Franklin made comments in Europe that appear to be antagonistic to Christianity, and he is often cited by skeptics as an unbeliever. However, on July 28, 1787, the Constitutional Convention was deadlocked and could not agree on how to draft the United States Constitution. After five weeks of proposals and counter-proposals, Benjamin Franklin (who was 81 years old) stood up and addressed the convention. This is part of what he said as recorded by James Madison:
“And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: … .”
“I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service.”
It is obvious that Franklin was not hostile to faith in God. Today as the United States Congress seems to be deadlocked on so many issues, perhaps they should take a look at history and accept Benjamin Franklin's wisdom.
WEBSITE FOR ASTRONOMY PICTURES. There is a wonderful website by NASA called APOD for “Astronomy Picture of the Day,” and the pictures are amazing. There is very little if any editorializing on the site. It is mostly just pictures with some technical comments about how the picture was taken and by whom. Check it out at www.apod.nasa.gov.
MARTIAN GLOBAL AURORA. On October 6, 2017, NASA's daily space picture website apod.nasa.gov contained pictures of a Martian global aurora. Because Mars has virtually no magnetic field, the radiation level goes sky high during solar storms. In the latest storm, radiation levels doubled — which would have been dangerous to any life on Mars.
Earth's magnetic field is very strong, and deflects radiation coming from the Sun. The radiation is deflected toward the poles, which is why we see the auroras near the poles. By deflecting the radiation, the magnetic field protects life on Earth from dangerous levels. The more we learn about the cosmos, the more we see factors that make life possible on Earth. Our magnetic field is one more example of the design of our planet.
Looking for life in space is not just about whether there is water on a planet. There is a huge number of other factors that must be present. A strong magnetic field to shield from radiation is just one of those factors. Of course, an atmosphere suitable for life is also a requirement. NASA has a space probe called MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) orbiting Mars. The purpose is to find out if Mars lost its atmosphere due to not having a strong magnetic field.
The Martian global aurora is just one more reminder of the blessing of life on planet Earth. It also indicates that life on this planet is no accident.
IMPORTANCE OF MOTHERS. An organization called MOPS encourages motherhood. On their website they say that there are two billion mothers in the world and that four million babies are born in the United States every year with six out of ten born to single mothers. Five in ten mothers say they do not feel they receive emotional support from their churches. Outreach ministries of most congregations have ignored the needs of mothers. We cannot overemphasize the importance of helping young mothers realize that the first seven years of a baby's life shapes its entire development. Church programs that do not start with helping train the child from birth on are missing the most effective ministry they can have. For ideas and inspiration for an outreach to mothers, visit www.mops.org/church.
YETI OR YOGI BEAR? The Yeti is a legendary creature of the snow-covered Himalayas. He has been described as an ape-like creature taller than a man and covered with white fur. In the 1920s a reporter for a newspaper in India gave the creature the nickname of “the abominable snowman.”
The general public continues to be fascinated with stories about Yeti or his temperate-weather cousin Bigfoot or Sasquatch. Some of the fascination is that there are folks who suggest that this creature offers a proof or disproof about the evolution of humans. The fact that Bigfoot continues to be a show on the Animal Planet network indicates that the value of these mythical creatures is more for entertainment than education.
The first point that we would like to make is that if a human-like creature existed that science had not discovered yet, it would not have evolutionary implications. Neo-Darwinists would say it was just another dead-end in hominid evolution. Creationists would say that God had created another creature that was previously unknown. Quite often previously unknown species of various creatures are discovered somewhere in the world.
On November 28, 2017, the Proceedings of The Royal Society B, released a report of genetic studies of the remains of bones, teeth, skin, and hair that people claimed were from Yetis. All of them turned out to be from bears. The genome of a bear is distinctive enough that scientists can know with great certainty what creature left the sample. While the report probably will not cancel any TV series on Bigfoot or interest in Yeti, it does give a rational answer to some of the claims.
STAY UP-TO-DATE ON NEWS AND NOTES. Many of the stories in our News and Notes this quarter have already been published on our website www.DoesGodExist.today. There are also many other interesting and informative articles on that website each day. We encourage you to follow us daily on “Does God Exist? Today.” On that website you can also subscribe to our free weekly e-mail update. We call it “The Best of the Week from DOES GOD EXIST?” It contains links to the most popular of our posts on DGE? Today and our Facebook page (Facebook.com/evidence4god).
© JacobLund. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© Speedfighter. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/1710/pia21855-16.jpg; MAVEN, LASP, University of Colorado, NASA
© Albert Ziganshin. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.