The Moon does many things that affect life on Earth. Sometimes its power can help in ways we never considered, such as opening the Suez Canal.
For a week, we saw news reports about a giant ship blocking that canal which carries much of the world’s shipping. The offending vessel is one of the world’s largest container ships, and it got stuck on the sand and turned sideways to block the entire channel. Tugboats and dredging vessels worked to dislodge it, but they were toy boats by comparison. You could think of a child with a toy shovel and sand bucket trying to free a beached whale and push it back into the ocean. I saw a news report with an “expert” saying it could take weeks to free the vessel.
Then, the Moon stepped in. The March full-moon arrived over the weekend and helped to free the ship. We have said before that the Moon does many things to support life on Earth. Its light helps nocturnal animals, and sometimes humans, to find their way. The Moon’s gravity stabilizes the Earth’s tilt which causes the seasons. The gravity also causes the tides that clean the ocean’s shores and estuaries. The tides and the moonlight play an essential role in the reproduction of sea turtles and many crustaceans. The tides even help to free stuck ships.
On March 29, the container ship Ever Given became dislodged, opening the Suez Canal. The 1,300 foot-long ((400 m) vessel would still be stuck if the Moon’s gravity had not raised the water level to lift it enough that the tug boats could move it. Tides are highest during the full-moon. At that time, the Sun and the Moon are on opposite sides of the Earth. Their gravity pulls on the water raising the tides. In this case, that force was enough to free a ship the size of the Empire State Building from being stuck in the mud and thus to open the Suez Canal.
One more thing about the Moon is that it has just the right size to allow us to have total solar eclipses, which benefit scientists in their study of the Sun. We never stop marveling at the powerful forces in God’s creation.
Our Milky Way galaxy is somewhat orderly, with the stars orbiting what appears to be a large mass at the center – probably a black hole. Simulations of galaxies shown on science programs present a consistent whirlpool of material, all spinning in the same direction and obeying the physical laws we teach in a high school physics class. But space is not orderly and simple.
Simple explanations don’t work with galaxies like M64, sometimes called “The Evil Eye Galaxy” or “The Black Eye Galaxy.” In that galaxy, stars and gas close to the core orbit in one direction, but those further out rotate around the core in the opposite direction. Astronomers believe that this behavior indicates two galaxies collided, producing the confusion, but why the systems are in the same plane doesn’t match that explanation well.
There are cases in our solar system where objects revolve in different directions, including the moons of Mars and some other planets. Uranus is tilted on its side, spinning perpendicular to the ecliptic. Space is not orderly and simple or as benign as science fiction might like to portray it. Each time science makes a discovery showing that space is not orderly and simple, we have to wonder at God’s creative nature. Did He put some of these things together to challenge our creative thinking?
The most exciting aspect of all this is the unique stability and beauty of our planet. On March 27, 2021, NASA released a report stating that new telescope observations show there is no chance of something in space colliding with Earth that would threaten our existence for at least the next 100 years. We should thank God for His marvelous creation and for the fact that He designed our planet for the long haul. Now, all we need to do is to take better care of it.
There are many similarities between the events of January 6 in Washington D.C. and the biblical account of what happened to Jesus Christ. We can learn some lessons from Holy Week and January 6, 2021.
People of both political parties came to Washington D.C. on that Wednesday morning with a feeling of optimism and renewal. As Zechariah 9:9 had prophesied, Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, an animal of peace, not a horse which was an animal of war. The people’s response was to spread palm branches, a symbol of triumph and victory, in front of Him.
Jesus began his tenure in Jerusalem by throwing the religious crooks out of the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13). He initiated good things by healing the blind and lame (verses 14-15). Some good leaders came to Washington D.C. on January 6 to allegedly do some good things.
The people’s actions in Jerusalem brought jealousy to the establishment, who thought they were losing control. They challenged Jesus’ authority and tried to put him at odds with the Roman courts (Matthew 21:23-27). When that failed, they secured an extremist’s support to advance their cause (Matthew 26:14-16).
On January 6, extremists were motivated to attack the authorities in power resulting in violence. Not only was there damage to the physical structures of Washington, but several people died. The people of Jerusalem were motivated to accept and even promote the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. At the same time, the politicians washed their hands and turned their backs on the violence that was being carried out.
There are many lessons from Holy Week and January 6 in Washington that are hard to miss. No matter what your political beliefs or religious convictions, or lack of them, the comparisons are strong.
People are crazy. Humans can be led, and their price is cheap. Judas sold out Christ for what in our money would be about $120.
Whether they are secular or religious, most politicians will stop at nothing to advance their own standing. Breaking religious law (read Leviticus and Deuteronomy) or violating the U.S. Constitution is easy when it involves greed, jealousy, and power struggles.
Journalists are biased and interpret the news rather than reporting it. As you read Matthew 26:59-60, you find two false witnesses saying that Jesus said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God.” That was a half-truth. The witnesses and the religious leaders interpreted that to mean the Temple made of stone when Jesus had made it clear it was His body. The news media on all sides of the January 6 event interpreted the news.
The similarities between Holy Week and January 6 end withthe resurrection of Christ. Even today, many people deny the evidence and maintain their conviction that Jesus was a fraud. Some people will not change their political agenda no matter what the evidence. Indeed, the importance of “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21) cannot be over-emphasized.
Since February 17, 2021, people have been observing the season of lent, a period of extreme religious tradition. It began on Shrove Tuesday when people burn palms from the Palm Sunday events of last year and place the ashes on their foreheads for Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday officially began the season of Lent, which is the 40 days leading up to Easter. Today, Sunday, March 28, is called Palm Sunday to celebrate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem when people hailed Him as a king and placed palm branches in His path. Then follows Holy Monday and Tuesday, remembering the challenges to Jesus by the Pharisees. Spy Wednesday recalls the bargaining of Judas with the Pharisees. Maundy Thursday celebrates the Last Supper, and Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion. Black Saturday tells of Jesus descending into hades. The Holy Week ends with Easter Sunday, celebrating the resurrection.
The Catholic Church over the centuries has commemorated these days, but they are not biblical commands. The spin-offs from all of this are enormous. Since Lent began on Ash Wednesday, Shrove Tuesday was a feasting time with particular emphasis on pancakes and sweets of all kinds. Some people call it “Fat Tuesday,” and in French, that title is Mardi Gras. The word “lent” comes from “lencten,” an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “spring season.” The use of ashes was a Jewish tradition indicating penitence.
None of these traditions were commanded by Christ or any of the apostles. Even the word “Easter” used in Acts 12:45 in the King James translation is actually a reference to the Passover when the plagues in Egypt freed the Hebrews from slavery. The first-century Church celebrated the resurrection every Sunday, so there was no Sunday deemed more important than the others.
We all need to be reminded of the death and resurrection of Christ. But adding to the biblical account has not only precipitated the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Easter Bunny, decorated eggs, and a variety of celebrations in different cultures.
The Holy Week is a human attempt to remind the world that Jesus came, died, and rose from the grave and that His sacrifice has blessed all of humanity. None of it is wrong, and we applaud the dedication of many who participate in these things. At the same time, we need to realize that God does not enslave us with rituals and added burdens. Jesus said it best “Come all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) We can appreciate cultural expressions of the gospel message in the season of lent, but we must not be oppressed by them.
Falling birthrates worldwide are impacting the economy of virtually every country in the world. In the United States, Social Security and Medicare depend on having young workers paying in to cover the benefits received by retirees. In 1980, roughly five workers were providing the taxes to support each retired beneficiary. By 2019, that number had dropped to 2.8 workers per retiree.
Countries have responded by paying citizens to have more children. Hungary is spending 5% of GDP on free fertility treatments for women under 40. That country is also giving upfront loans to newlyweds that they can write off with each child born. It even offers a lifetime exclusion from income tax for mothers with three or more kids. Poland is giving $140 per child per month. Russia is providing parents with two or more children one-time payments of $8100. South Korea has spent 130 billion dollars on similar programs. In the U.S., we are now seeing payments to families based on the number of children they have. For years, Alaska has been sharing oil revenues with families based on the number of kids they have.
Children are a blessing from God, but we don’t want to see more people on the planet merely to solve economic issues. Even more important to those who deal with disturbed children is the fear that some families may not be prepared to care for more children properly. Ephesians 6:1-4 talks about fathers not exasperating their children but bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. The qualifications for elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1-12 and Titus 1:5-9 involve a functional nuclear family. Having a baby for economic gain does not fit well with those commands.
With falling birthrates worldwide, perhaps it is time for governments to find new and more creative ways to meet the economic issues. Handing money to people who are not equipped psychologically or spiritually for the challenges of raising a child is not a good answer to the problems.
So you want a new body?Scientific American (April 2021 issue) published an article titled “A New You in 80 Days.” It contains news of a study by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. It includes surprising information about how rapidly the human body generates new cells.
Different parts of your body turn over new cells at different rates. Fat and muscle cells make up 72% of our bodies by mass. Those cells last an average of 12 to 50 years. By number, there are far more cells in our blood, and they last only three to 120 days. The cells lining our gut live less than a week.
Every day, your body replaces 330 billion cells, which is about 1% of the total. That means in 80 to 100 days your body will replace 30 trillion cells. That is approximately the total number of cells in your body. So you want a new body, but don’t forget the larger fat and muscle cells will last for years while the smaller cells get replaced. Some cells last a lifetime, including brain, heart, and eye cells.
The study does not include the bacteria and viruses that are in our bodies. There are about 38 trillion of them. That is more than the number of your body cells, but they are much smaller and have a total weight of only seven to eleven ounces (200 to 300 g). By mass, cells make up 68% of our bodies. Fluids outside of cells make up 25%, and solids such as minerals in our bones complete the other 7%. By number, 87% of the cells in our bodies are the microscopic red blood cells.
A report like this can help us understand how complex the human body is. I remember how simple cars were 50 years ago when compared to today. When I was in high school, I had a friend who could tear his car down and put it back together in less than a day. That was in 1950. Today’s cars are so complex that such a feat would be impossible, but that also means it is difficult to fix when something goes wrong. The complexity of our bodies makes the treatment of our bodies difficult when something goes wrong, and, like today’s cars, there is a lot that can go wrong.
So you want a new body? That won’t happen in this life. We are reminded of the words of the psalmist in Psalms 139:14, “I will praise you, Lord, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful. I know that full well.”
An alternative to alcohol consumption that many people are not aware of is alcohol-free beer, wine, and whiskey. This is not going to be acceptable for someone who is drinking for the drug effect of alcohol. However, for those who drink for social or taste reasons, alcohol-free drinks are becoming a big plus. According to market analysis groups, global consumption of no alcohol beverages is growing two to three times faster than alcohol consumption.
Alcohol-free bars have opened around the world. For example, in Austin, Texas, Sans Bar has live music and various alcohol-free drinks. The founder is a former addiction counselor who has been sober for 14 years. New and old businesses are manufacturing alcohol-free beverages. Anheuser-Busch has introduced an alcohol-free Budweiser Zero beer. Small companies like Spiritless and Ritual Zero Proof have opened and are producing no-alcohol whiskey, gin, and tequila.
Drinking may not be an issue for most Christians. But for people struggling with health issues due to alcohol, athletes, and pregnant women, the social pressure to drink may be counteracted by alcohol-free beer, wine, and whiskey. Christians should be reminded of Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 to “Abstain from all appearances of evil.” We hope that non-alcoholic drinks could be viewed as a tool to address problems, not as a social lubricant.
Therapist Erica Komisar writing in the Wall Street Journal in 2019 said, “Don’t believe in God? Lie to your children.” The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that belief in Christianity “contributes to a wide range of health and well-being outcomes later in life.” Even a quote from atheist Richard Dawkins said, “the evidence that people who believe in God seem to behave better than those who don’t.”
In my 41 years of teaching in public schools, I dealt with all kinds of kids in all types of situations and saw the effect of Christianity on teens. The young people who were active in their religious beliefs were the best students and acknowledged school community leaders. Kids that were in trouble with the law, or with the school, or who were actively involved in gangs were almost universally kids who did not have a Christian foundation. I found that a vast number of my students did not have a Bible. I kept a Bible on my desk, and it not only precipitated a lot of questions, but it was frequently stolen.
On four different occasions, students went to the school administration requesting that I be allowed to present my lectures on evidence for God’s existence to the student body. This culminated in “minicourses,” where the students could come to my presentations or go to various other activities, including recreational ones in the gymnasium or the swimming pool. We had good attendance at the lectureships, and I usually gave them in the school auditorium.
An old biblical proverb says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Young people need to see the evidence for God’s existence and the validity of the Bible system of how to live. In our present age, that evidence is primarily hidden from young people. That is what the Does God Exist? Ministry is attempting to address. Kids hear the arguments against faith and Christianity from the media and aggressive atheists. For them to make their own decisions, they need to hear the positive evidence for faith. There is a positive effect of Christianity on teens.
Jesus made it very clear that we must not integrate Christianity and secular government. “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). That was not only about paying taxes but also a matter of priorities in the life of Christians. In Romans 13, Paul tells us to “submit to the governing authorities,” and he says, “there is no authority except from God.” He then says that government is a stabilizing force to protect those who do good and punish those who do wrong. Christ never advocated rebellion against the corrupt, abusive Roman government. The Bible guides us on priorities, politics, and family.
In addition to civil authority and the Church, God instituted the family. From Genesis through the New Testament letters, the family is the basic unit of society. The Week magazine (March 19, 2021) published an article titled “The Broken Families of QAnon.” It details families torn apart when family members become obsessed with political issues above family relationships. Regardless of your political views, for Christians, the family has to come first.
The New Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ gave the family a new structure. When society considered women as men’s possessions and having status only when they bore children, Christianity taught that women were equal with men. Much of Paul’s teachings deal with family issues. Only Romans 13 teaches the Christian relationship to the civil law. That does not mean Christians cannot be involved in politics or serve in political ways, but that role must be less important than their responsibility to their mate, parents, and children.
In America today, the importance of family has been diluted by the moral collapse resulting from the rejection of God and the Bible. Couples “hooking up” and living together without getting married show a distorted concept of sex. Marriage has become a political tool to justify relationships that are different from the original creation of family in Genesis 2:24. As America continues to reject God and the Bible, we can expect to see more violence and further disintegration of the family.
Christians need to know why they believe what they believe and share those reasons with their families, neighbors, and communities. The real answer to the chaos, political violence, and abuse we see in today’s world is the teaching of Christ on priorities, politics, and family.
In his book The Blind Watchmaker biologist and militant atheist Richard Dawkins wrote, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” He then argues that we must ignore appearance and realize that those complicated things were not designed. Can we recognize what design looks like?
Francis Crick, also an atheist, was one of the scientists who solved the mystery of the DNA molecule’s structural design. In his book What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery, he wrote that “biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”
Even Charles Darwin admitted in a paragraph near the end of his bookOn the Origin of Species that many scientists rejected his theory, and he concluded that it was because they had closed minds. It seems that scientists in Darwin’s day and most people in our day see design in living things, and design calls for a Designer.
It is counter-intuitive to think that the rich tapestry of life is merely a chance accident with no design and no Designer. In our everyday experience, we know what design looks like. We never see anything complex and functional come into being without intelligent operatives designing it. That is true of buildings, automobiles, computers, books, and websites. Those and many other things around us show design, and they don’t happen without a designer. To believe that dead molecules came together on their own, came to life, and began to reproduce and breathe and think and write books and ask questions requires a great “leap of faith.”
Atheist Thomas Nagel, a professor of philosophy at New York University, wrote a book titled Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. In that book, he wrote, “It is prima facie implausible that life as we know it is the result of a sequence of physical accidents together with the mechanism of natural selection.” On the other hand, in his book “The Last Word,” Nagel wrote, “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers…I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God…”
For years, Antony Flew was a renowned philosopher described as “the best-known atheist in the English-speaking world.” He had a successful career of disputing God’s existence until he examined the design in living cells. His last book published in 2004 was titled There Is a God.
There is something within us that tells us we see design when we look at living things. We know what design looks like, and we have to go against our intuition to accept the idea that everything, including ourselves and our thinking, is an accident. As you look around at the many things that appear to be designed, ask yourself, “Do I know what design looks like?” And then ask, “Could there be a Designer?” How you answer that second question will make a world of difference in your life.