Many years ago, I heard a research scientist who was also a Christian explain his philosophical approach to research by saying, “So that’s how God did it!” For many of us working in scientific fields, that is what science is about. When researchers announce a new discovery, we view it as knowledge that helps us understand what God has done in creating the cosmos and humans.
Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. have just announced a solution to one of the chemical mysteries that has baffled astronomers for a very long time. Our bodies contain some common elements that were created in star explosions which scientists have observed. The origin of some trace elements in the human body, such as fluorine, was not easy to determine. Most of us know that fluorine is a critical component of bones and teeth. Toothpaste contains fluorine in the form of fluoride.
Rare stars known as Wolf-Rayets are very massive, and they survive for a relatively short time before exploding. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) of 66 radio telescopes in Chile, researchers detected gas clouds with large amounts of hydrogen fluoride in Wolf-Rayet stars. Scientists could not confirm fluorine production in local stars, but they solved the mystery by finding fluorine in a galaxy 12 billion light-years away. The director of the study commented to CNN that Wolf-Rayets have allowed humans to maintain good dental health.
The simple statement “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) involves a process that science strives to understand. As we gain more knowledge of what is involved in that process, we see that “the heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows the work of His hands” (Psalms 19:1).
Theologians may simply say that God “spoke the creation into existence,” but scientists want to know how. Scientists who are Christians rejoice in a new understanding of God’s handiwork. As we come to understand how God has done wonderful things, we say, “So that’s how God did it!” Then we thank Him for designing a creation in which we can survive.
What response would you make to a 14-year-old girl who has decided she is really a boy and wants doctors to surgically remove her breasts and put her on a puberty blocker and hormone therapy regime? The UCLA School of Law and the American College Health Association tell us that the number of girls seeking treatment to have their sex changed has risen dramatically. In 2008, it was one in 2,000, and in 2020, it was one in 20. There are now over 50 clinics treating gender dysphoria in the United States. There was one in 2007.
Many young people have severe depression issues and are frequently suicidal due to gender dysphoria. Experts debate the cause of this phenomenon while treatments being used are causing more problems. The question is how to go about treating gender dysphoria. Many transgender cases are due to social contagion as friends influence a young person to “come out” as trans. There are online forums of trans teens with large numbers of participants.
An increasing number of transgender persons regret their decision to change their gender. Some have even sued clinics for rushing them into the decision to change without adequate counseling. Many times other mental health issues are involved. Having your testicles or breasts removed is irreversible. Also, the drug treatments are for life and have side effects that may be medically difficult to manage.
The Bible says God created male and female (Genesis 1:27). The original plan works, but surgery, drugs, and a rejection of God’s design have changed that. The tragic result sometimes leaves innocent victims who are negatively affected by what others have done.
The real complication is that treating gender dysphoria has become a political issue. For example, The Week magazine (October 29, 2021, page 11) carried an article about LGBTQ activists committing violence against scientists and doctors who have suggested applying caution regarding medical intervention in trans situations.
Christians must respond to this with love, compassion, and caring. We should do everything we can to help everyone enjoy the blessing of being a confident male or female in an age of confusion and frustration.
Every parent knows that it is tough to release our children into the world, to allow them to do things and make their own decisions. We don’t want them to make bad choices, and we are afraid they will fail or get hurt. Every parent has to realize that there is a point where we have to let go of our children, but we just want them to choose wisely.
If we didn’t love them, it wouldn’t be so hard. But, we know that for our children to be truly human, they have to make choices, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. But, we ache for them when they choose wrongly.
Sometimes we let go too soon and sometimes too late. That’s because we are choosing when to let go, and sometimes our choices are wrong. We can all look at our lives and realize that we are guilty of sometimes making bad choices.
Imagine how God must feel. He created humans and let them go by giving them free will. He knew they would make bad choices, but the alternative would be to make them robots, not humans. Robots can’t love, and since God is love (1 John 4:8), He wants us to love Him.
God had no choice but to allow us to have free will because He created us to be persons who would freely choose to love Him. Therefore, it’s up to us to choose wisely.
When you think of dirty jobs, think of dung beetles. They have the task of cleaning up the savannahs, grasslands, and forests where wild animals live. If you have had the experience of cleaning up after a dog or cat, just think about cleaning up after elephants. A dung beetle can move dung weighing 250 times as much as itself in one night’s work.
There are thousands of species of dung beetles. Some bury the dung where they find it, and some live in it. Others known as rollers take the excrement of elephants and other large animals and roll it into balls. Then they roll the balls to their nests to use as food for themselves and their offspring. They use their back legs to roll the balls, so they are not facing where they are going. Imagine rolling a ball that is larger than you in a straight line without looking where you’re going. So how do they do it?
These beetles can do their cleanup work in the daytime or at night, using the Sun or the Moon to navigate. An African species of dung beetles (Scarabaeus zambesianus) uses polarization patterns from moonlight to chart its direction. Another African species (Scarabaeus satyrus) can stay on course when there is no moonlight. South African researchers using a planetarium for a testing lab found that these beetles can go in a straight line using only the Milky Way on a moonless night. They are the only insects we know of that can use the galaxy to find their directions.
The idea of insects navigating by the Milky Way was a surprise to the scientists. I wonder Who thought of that idea first? (Hint: Perhaps the Designer of insects and the Milky Way.)
The evidence supports the concept that humans are created in the image of God. Humans have a concept of self that we don’t see in other forms of life. Humans are creative in art and music. All human populations share the capacity to worship. Even though that worship sometimes takes bizarre forms, it still recognizes a spiritual nature. The ability to be taught to think and to reason is not something we see in other life forms. The idea of existence after this life is peculiar to humans. With these things in mind, we should not be treating animals as humans.
Instincts built into the DNA of animals direct their behavior. Even when humans raise monkeys to be human, they ultimately revert to instinctive drives that sometimes culminate in violence. Animal “songs” have survival catalysts communicating territory or securing mates. Human trainers have attempted to teach “art” to animals, resulting in anthropomorphic interpretations by those trainers.
People should not cause animals to suffer or subject them to conduct that violates their nature. The biblical admonition to humans was to take care of the creation, not to abuse it. (See Genesis 2:15.) Treating animals as humans with human values does violence to the animals, depriving them of their instinctive behaviors and putting them in unrealistic environments. It is also a huge waste of resources.
In 2011, PETA sued SeaWorld on behalf of five captured orcas they said were protected under the 13th Amendment, which bans slavery. In 2015, a judge ruled that an orangutan named Sandra had “legal personhood,” which resulted in Sandra being moved to special quarters. Recently, on October 15, 2021, a federal judge in Cincinnati ruled that the descendants of hippos smuggled into Colombia by drug kingpin Pablo Escobar are considered “legal persons” under United States law. According to CBS News India, Pakistan, and Argentina have granted legal rights to animals.
God designed life, and we should treat all animals with respect, allowing them to live in the habitat where they were designed to live. However, that doesn’t require treating animals as humans.
Thanksgiving is my favorite national holiday because it’s one time when our nation seems to embrace a uniquely Christian virtue. We aren’t talking about the social grace of saying “thank you,” but what Webster calls “a feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits received without payment or obligation. A warm, appreciative response to kindness.” We call it a Christian attitude of gratitude.
Our society has moved to a “survival of the fittest” mentality. This philosophy says that if I have a blessing, it’s because I am more fit, and I have earned it. If I give a blessing, it is because I expect to get something in return. In contrast to this view, the Bible instructs followers of Jesus to have an attitude of gratitude—to be in constant thanksgiving. (See 2 Corinthians 9:11-12; Ephesians 5:4; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 2:7 and 4:2; 1 Timothy 2:1 and 4:3-4.) You develop and grow in this attitude because being thankful means caring about others more than yourself. The more mature a Christian becomes, the more gratitude they will have.
Most of the ills in society today are because we have turned away from having a Christian attitude of gratitude and have turned to the survival of the fittest mentality. Divorce happens when we don’t look for the good things our mate brings to us. We must be thankful for their strengths instead of dwelling on their weaknesses. Parents can damage children’s self-image by not expressing genuine gratitude for the positive things children bring to their lives. Old age becomes a real challenge when the family focuses on the burdens the senior brings to them instead of the blessings the person has given through the years.
Romans 1 describes the decadent world in which we live. Verses 21 and 22 tell about an ungrateful person: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”
God does not instruct us to be thankful because He has a huge ego that needs praise. We need to be grateful for every blessing in life because that will shape us into the kind of person we should be. Be thankful to live in America, to have medical solutions for life’s ills, to have enough to eat, a warm home, and loved ones. Whatever blessings you have, don’t take them for granted. Develop a Chrisitan attitude of gratitude and have a thankful Thanksgiving.
Various mental health professionals and organizations use animal therapy in their practices. The animals soothe and calm hospital patients, provide emotional support, and even help in treating addictions. Therapy animals have included dogs, cats, pigs, horses, ducks, and other mammals and birds.
What can animals do to bring emotional comfort and stress relief to humans? Scientists are conducting clinical research to give objective answers to that question. In the meantime, we all know of subjective experiences where animals have given mental and emotional help to humans. There are also some cases where things did not work out so well, as when a petting zoo brought a bear cub to a university campus to soothe students during final exams. Unfortunately, the bear bit fourteen students, resulting in a rabies scare.
Scientists never want to rely on anecdotal evidence. Instead, they want to know if animal therapy works and why. Part of the importance of the scientific studies is that the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has refused to cover the cost of service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Insurance companies struggle with similar questions concerning doctor-prescribed service animals for patients with mental health issues.
While scientists struggle to discover the facts regarding animal therapy, many people claim to have received comfort, stress relief, and companionship from their pets. Some scientists have suggested what they call the biophilia hypothesis. According to that hypothesis, the desire to affiliate with animals results from our common evolution from lower life forms.
We suggest another explanation for the fact that humans relate so well to animals. We believe that the Creator gave us animals, especially mammals and birds, to be our companions and helpers. We relate to them, we learn from them, and they serve us in many ways. The truth is that humans have survived through the ages with help from mammals and birds. They are a gift from God.
Seeing colors of light is a blessing. Light is electromagnetic energy vibrating in a specific range of frequencies, but our brain perceives the frequencies as colors.
When your retina receives a particular frequency of electromagnetic energy, it sends a signal to the visual part of the brain, which generates a mental image with luminosity and what we call color. Seeing colors is merely our perception of the various frequencies or wavelengths of light energy.
Every creature with vision can see different intensities of light, but not all can see as many colors as humans can. However, some, such as bees and butterflies, can see colors we can’t see. Human eyes see best in the range of frequencies that our brain interprets as green, but our vision is not as sensitive in the red and blue frequencies. So our brain combines the red, blue, and green frequencies to allow us to see about ten million color variations.
Consider how much of our world is green. Green is very soothing compared to reds or blues, but it would be dull and boring if we could see nothing but green. Seeing colors can change our mood, causing us to become relaxed or excited. Colors can convey a message or bring back memories. Different colors appeal differently to various people.
The color of our eyes, hair, or skin is part of what makes each person unique and part of God’s human tapestry. Therefore, we should thank God for the amazingly complex physical laws and biological properties that bring color into the world for us to enjoy.
The importance of not putting things off gets highlighted when we realize how quickly the past fades into an unconnected reality. How quickly we forget things that we should have done, people we should have visited, and ways we should have responded to the needs of others. The whole concept of “bearing fruit” (John 15:2) is to do as much as possible with the time God gives us. We recently received a list from David Harrington that reminded me how quickly the past fades from our memory. Do you realize:
1) That the Beatles split up 52 years ago? 2) That Elvis has been dead 44 years? (He would be 86 today.) 3) That the movie “Wizard of Oz” is 82 years old? 4) That Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video is 38 years old? 5) That John Lennon has been dead 41 years? 6) That Mickey Mantle retired from baseball 53 years ago? 7) That the Ed Sullivan show ended 49 years ago? 8) That the “Brady Bunch” TV show premiered 52 years ago? 9) That the triplets on the TV Show “My Three Sons” are now 52 years old? 10) That the Corvette turned 68 years old this year?
In Luke 16, we read about the “Rich Man” and “Lazarus.” The rich man wanted to get the message to his brothers that they needed to conform to God’s will. Abraham responded to the rich man that no one can go from the existence of the dead to the living. All the years that the rich man had to meet the needs of Lazarus were forgotten. We should be using our time now for bearing fruit by doing the things Jesus described in Matthew 25:31-40.
You might call it intelligence in numbers. One ant by itself would be dysfunctional without any ability to survive. However, as part of a colony, everything changes. Ant colonies display an incredible amount of “intelligence” because of what we might call the “ant program.”
No ant, not even the queen, tells the individual ants what to do, yet they work together in an amazing way. Each ant reacts to chemical smells from other ants, food, waste, larva, and even intruders. They each leave chemical trails to which other ants respond. Each ant acts autonomously according to the environmental factors and the genetically encoded “ant program” built into them.
The result is an intelligent and efficiently functioning colony working together in complex behavior and problem-solving. Computers use programs to solve problems, and complex computer programs don’t write themselves. So the question we have to ask is, “Who wrote the genetically encoded ant program?” Every ant colony is evidence for a Master Programmer.