Return to 3rd Quarter 2018 articles.
from Does God Exist? 3rd Quarter 2018
STAY UP-TO-DATE ON NEWS AND NOTES. The stories in News and Notes are condensed from articles previously published on our website DOES GOD EXIST? TODAY. You can use the links (Does God Exist? today) with each of these articles to see the original posts for more details. 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 DOES GOD EXIST? TODAY and our facebook page (Facebook.com/evidence4god).
DNA BARCODING AND EVOLUTION. The journal Human Evolution published an article about new research on DNA barcoding. There are two different types of DNA. The more familiar is nuclear DNA which is the genetic blueprint for every single individual passed down from parent to offspring. The second type of DNA is found in the mitochondria of cells. The mitochondria generate energy for the cell, and mitochondrial DNA contains 37 kinds of genes. One of those is the COI gene which is used to create DNA barcoding. You could compare these DNA barcodes with the barcodes on products which we purchase from a store. Researchers at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario have analyzed the COI of 100,000 species by examining millions of DNA barcodes. They conclude that most animals appeared simultaneously. This is another blow to the belief of those who say gradualism is how the diversity of life-forms came into existence on the Earth. The DNA barcoding research supports the view that catastrophic events gave rise to sweeping changes on Earth which led to the emergence of new species including humans. Source: Tech Times, May 30, 2018, by Nicole Arce from the journal Human Evolution.
OLDEST LIVING PERSON. The Week (June 1, 2018, page 10), reported that the oldest living person was Koku Istambulova. According to her passport, she is 129 years old. She is a Muslim woman living by strict Islamic codes in Chechnya. Istambulova does not view long life as a blessing. She says “I have not had a single happy day in my life. Long life is not at all God's gift for me, but a punishment.” Istambulova saw Nazi tanks, Stalin's deportation, and the death of all of her children. Her faith is one of strict rules and regulations with very legalistic guides for life. As a Muslim woman, the role she was forced into is very restrictive.
So the oldest living person says she has had a life of misery. It is important to note that the things that made Istambulova's life miserable were the violent acts of humans and the legalism of man-made religion. Those factors contributed to her misery instead of addressing it and solving it. In contrast to Istambulova's situation, Christ came to eliminate the things that bring misery in life. It is sad that Istambulova has never known the peace, love, family, and joy of being free from the legalistic human rules based on race or gender.
VOLCÁN DE FUEGO. It is Spanish for Volcano of Fire, a volcanic mountain in Guatemala. It has been active on-and-off for years. On Sunday, June 3, 2018, it erupted with fury. Volcán de Fuego is famous for spewing out smoke daily and being continuously active at a low level. This time it erupted violently resulting in many deaths. Molten lava, flying rocks, hot gasses including sulfur dioxide threatened homes and lives in the area. At the same time on the big island of Hawaii, Mount Kilauea was erupting and creating massive destruction. The question is, “Why do we have volcanos?” Perhaps we should ask, “Why do we need volcanos”?
The answer to the first question has to do with the composition and structure of Earth. The crust of the Earth, along with the upper mantle below it, is divided into sections called tectonic plates. Volcanos (and earthquakes) often occur near the boundaries of those plates. The movement and repositioning of those plates created the continents we have today. Beneath Earth's crust, there is hot and partially molten material in an area known as the mantle. Pressure and the decomposition of radioactive material within the core of the Earth cause the elevated temperature. The fact that the minerals are in a molten state because of the extreme heat allows the movement of the tectonic plates on the surface. A volcano is a rupture in Earth's crust that allows the escape of hot lava and gas from a magma chamber below the surface.
The answer to the second question of why we need volcanos is that they are part of Earth's recycling system. Erosion of Earth's surface leaches away nutrients from the soil. Volcano eruptions bring to the surface essential nutrients to nourish the soil allowing plants to grow and making farming more productive. They also bring to the surface valuable minerals that we need for modern, advanced civilization. Volcanos have also created many islands, such as the Aleutian Islands and the islands of Hawaii. The movement of tectonic plates and the eruption of volcanos have occurred throughout Earth's history. Without the movement of the tectonic plates with the resulting earthquakes and volcanos, Earth's crust would be flat and covered with water. We would not be here.
Volcanos play a vital role in giving us this vibrant, life-supporting planet. They are another evidence of God's creative power.
SUPREME COURT DECISIONS. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down some decisions which were important to our First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion. One of the cases involved a Christian cake artist in Colorado by the name of Jack Phillips. Phillips designs artistic cakes for special occasions. He will design cakes for anyone, however, he does not use his artistic talents to decorate cakes for events that go against his Christian convictions. That would include cakes to celebrate a divorce or Halloween or — and this is the sticky part — a same-sex wedding. When he chose to practice his faith, he was severely punished by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for refusing to create a cake for a same-sex wedding. He had no problem making cakes for the men who were getting married, but he could not be involved in an event that violated his strongly-held faith. The Supreme Court agreed that he had been wrongly treated by the state of Colorado. This is a victory for Christians who want to live out their faith, but it is not a clear and final victory because we do not know how the court would have ruled if the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had not been so over-the-top in their judgment against Jack Phillips. In another decision the high court struck down a California law that required people who operate pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to tell their clients where they can get a state-funded abortion. Of course, the law did not require abortion clinics to advise patients on how to get help for preserving their child's life. The court invalidated a law that was a clear violation of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH ON CAMPUS. College campus free speech continues to be threatened. Georgetown University is the nation's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university. In the fall of 2017, a pro-family student organization named Love Saxa was attacked by LGBT students for promoting pro-family values in line with the teachings of the Catholic church. The university investigated the challenges to Love Saxa and found them groundless, but took the student money intended for Love Saxa and gave it to LGBT organizations on campus. Members of a student group called Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) were arrested for passing out copies of the United States Constitution to students on the sidewalk at Kellogg Community College in Michigan. This seems hard to believe since the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and freedom of assembly. Only after the YAL won a legal suit did the college administration allow the freedoms that the Constitution guarantees. Administrations of colleges and universities have been restricting freedom of speech on campus, but mostly when it relates to religious or conservative views. Tomorrow's leaders are being trained to accept only the views of their liberal colleges. We object to the loss of liberty in other parts of the world, but we have our own battles taking place on American soil. Freedom of speech on campus is only one area of concern.
LEGALIZING SIN INDUSTRIES. We now have casinos in virtually every state in the United States and online gambling will soon be approved. The push for state-sanctioned prostitution is gaining momentum. Legalized marijuana is now a major industry. The trend is certainly toward legalizing sin industries.
Here in Michigan, local governments are being swamped with applications for permits to open marijuana shops and dispensaries. From a biblical and logical viewpoint, we seem to be on a collision course with total collapse. Students of history tell us that the fall of Rome did not come from without but from within.
The usual justification for legalizing sin industries is that the government can control (and tax) the industry when it has a legally sanctioned framework. Following that argument, prohibition was a failure because those promoting alcohol just went underground and the use of alcohol continued. The comparison is made to marijuana by those promoting the legalization of marijuana as a recreational drug. As is our usual approach to any issue, we ask the question, “What is the evidence?”
- Does legalization result in control and produce fewer problems?
- Already we see the failure of the recreational marijuana craze in Los Angeles. Marijuana at the government-approved stores is selling for $25.00 per gram, and on the street, the same thing can be purchased for $5.00. On the street, you are not paying state excise tax.
- The problems of lung damage continue to exist. Legalizing marijuana does not eliminate the health hazards.
- Legalization of marijuana increases usage which in turn produces sharp increases in cases of car accidents, abuse of other people, the neglect of children, and crime. We also see cases where children ingest marijuana that is left unsecured around the house.
- The use of any drug puts the person at risk of being led to another more effective drug. Gateway cases with marijuana are increasing, and the cost is already creating a burden. States adjacent to states where marijuana is legal have been threatening lawsuits because of the increased burden produced by people carrying drugs across state lines. This also creates problems for families and businesses where recreational drugs have created financial hardship and psychological problems.
Legalizing sin industries has never worked, and for Christians it is especially important to “avoid all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
SUICIDE RATE INCREASE. When a celebrity commits suicide, it makes front-page news and dominates the tabloids for months. What many of us do not realize is that 44,965 Americans killed themselves in 2016 and that from 2010 to 2016 there has been a 70% increase in suicide among girls ages ten to nineteen. The nation as a whole has seen a 28% suicide rate increase from 1999 to 2016.
The experts are trying to explain all of this. Certainly, there is more than one factor involved, but we suggest that a major factor is our country's strong movement away from faith in God to a rejection of religion as a whole. Jesus Christ has given us a purpose in life. The unique teaching of Christ is that everyone, no matter what his situation or appearance or abilities, has a purpose in living. In addition to that, Christianity provides a way to deal with the failures in life. No one needs to live with a load of guilt. We can be forgiven of our sins and overcome our guilt, and we can turn the mistakes of the past into a ministry to help others walking the same path that we walked.
What can you expect if you are taught that you are an accident, that you have no purpose, and that life is merely a chance-driven battle for survival of the fittest? It is not hard to see the attractiveness of ending your life when you have no purpose, and you face struggles that seem impossible to overcome. How could we not have a suicide rate increase? Source: Time magazine, June 18, 2018, page 10.
ARE YOU JESUS? This is a true story relayed to me by a friend of the person involved. I heard it many years ago, and recently one of the persons involved met me and reminded me of what happened. It has a message for all of us as we consider if anyone would ever ask us, “Are you Jesus?”
Some salesmen were at a regional sales convention in Chicago. They were rushing through security with tickets, briefcases, and the usual airport hassle. One salesman inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples as he hurried to get to his flight. Apples flew everywhere. The guilty salesman rushed on without looking back. The other salesmen stopped, looked at each other and then followed his lead. But one salesman stopped and called his wife to tell her he would be taking a later flight.
He returned to the area of the display and realized that a mentally challenged, blind person was operating it. She was crying softly with tears of frustration running down her cheeks. As she groped for her spilled produce, the crowd swirled around her, and no one stopped to help. The salesman knelt on the floor with her and gathered up the apples. He put them back on the table and helped organize her display.
The salesman noticed that many of the apples were battered and bruised. He set those aside in another basket. When he finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, “Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you OK?” She nodded through her tears. “I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly” he continued. As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, “Mister, … .” He paused and turned back to look at her and responded, “Yes?” “Are you Jesus?” she said.
I question whether that could happen in today's world, but the question remains whether anyone could ever mistake us for Jesus? The person who gave this account to me pointed out that the goal of our lives should be that we would be so much like Jesus that an innocent, mentally-challenged blind girl could not tell the difference. If we claim to know Jesus, then we should live, walk, and act as he would. Knowing him is more than simply quoting scripture and going to church. It is actually living the Word as life unfolds day by day. Are you Jesus to the people you meet?
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