The dictionary defines “anthropomorphize” as attributing human characteristics or behavior to an animal or object, such as people’s tendency to anthropomorphize their dogs. We can probably blame Disney for much of this. Beginning with Micky Mouse in “Steamboat Willie,” numerous cartoons have presented animals with human actions, including singing. Even scientific articles tell about whales and birds singing. The fact is that only humans have the unique capacity to compose songs and use them in a variety of human experiences, including singing in praise to God.
When a cardinal “sings” his song outside your window, he is really warning other cardinals to stay out of his territory. Whale songs are communication devices to locate food sources and attract mates. When Penny Patterson taught Koko the gorilla to use the sign language of the deaf, he learned that he would receive a reward. One of my favorite stories about Koko was that when Patterson taught him to recognize a yellow streak on a canvas as a banana, he identified yellow hats and yellow ties as bananas. Only humans could compose a song such as “Yes! We Have No Bananas.”
Humans use singing in many ways. The Psalms in the Bible are creative songs useful for memorizing and conveying spiritual values. The Genesis account of creation is actually a song. Being a song doesn’t make it untrue, but it is a uniquely human way to express and memorize history and values. Have you ever wondered why each military service has its own song? Why do we sing songs at weddings, funerals, and when camping? Singing is a way to express love and praise for others or God, and it can create unity. Most of us remember “We Shall Overcome,” and some will recall the protest song “Abraham, Martin and John,” referring to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and John F. Kennedy.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:15, “I will pray with my spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing praise with the spirit, and I will also sing praise with my understanding (CSB).” Only humans can do these things, and no evolutionary explanation is supported by evidence. We are created in the image of God, and singing in praise to God is an expression of that unique creation.
When I was a teenager, I had a severe gastrointestinal problem that eventually resulted in the removal of my appendix. Doctors told me the appendix was a vestigial organ left over from my evolutionary past. The narrative was that while my hominid ancestors needed an appendix, I didn’t. In my college class on evolution, the professors told us the appendix was essentially a second stomach that animals needed to process coarse food. As humans evolved, we didn’t eat those foods, so removal of the useless appendix would not cause any problems.
Like many evolutionary arguments, this discussion of the appendix is rooted in ignorance. The appendix is a small worm-like organ that projects from the cecum, which is the first part of the large intestine. Charles Darwin identified the appendix as vestigial because people could live without it. With the information available to him at the time, Darwin’s view seemed reasonable and went unchallenged for a very long time. We now know better.
In contrast to the former call for removal of the useless appendix, we now know that it has at least two beneficial uses. The first is that it helps to support the immune system. The appendix has a high concentration of tissue that fights any bad things that might get into our gut. The second function, brought forward by Duke University researchers in 2007, is what they called a “safe house.” The appendix serves as a safe reservoir for our beneficial gut bacteria. A gastrointestinal problem resulting in diarrhea can flush out all of your good gut bacteria. The appendix repopulates the gut with bacteria after gastrointestinal issues.
People who have had their appendix removed tend to have more nasty bacteria in their gut than people who have not had that surgery. There is much about the human body that we don’t understand. In my lifetime, I have seen tonsils, gallbladders, and the appendix removed because medical science felt they served no purpose. We now know better as we see that God’s design of the human body is incredible. There may be a few things, such as body hair, that are unnecessary, but there are aesthetic reasons to retain even most of those.
Science still doesn’t fully understand the design of the umbilical cord that allows a baby to live inside its mother for nine months. The umbilical cord supplies the baby with oxygen, nutrients, and antibodies. Birthing techniques before the 20th century delayed cutting the cord, but that has changed since birthing moved from the home to the hospital. However, new data shows that delaying cutting the umbilical cord can boost the baby’s blood volume, red blood cell count, and iron stores and ease the transition to breathing.
The issue of when to cut the umbilical cord has become exceptionally well-studied in the case of premature babies. Nearly one million premature babies worldwide die every year, and a study of 10,000 preemies shows that when doctors delay clamping and cutting the umbilical cord, the survival rate improves. Yale University School of Medicine expert Jessica Illuzzi says, “longer is better.” The design of the umbilical cord is amazing.
Some pro-abortion advocates say the unborn child is just an extension of the mother’s body. It can be cut off and discarded like a fingernail or a lock of hair. There is no scientific support for such a claim. From the mother’s morning sickness to the baby’s physical characteristics and genetic makeup, all evidence shows the child is a unique individual. The fact that the unborn child depends for survival on the mother and the design of the umbilical cord does not change the fact that the baby is a unique human and not part of the mother. Every facet of the reproductive process shows God’s wisdom.
Women have the right to choose whether to be a mother, but the decision must be made before sexually engaging with a man. In the case of an unwanted pregnancy, options are available. As the father of three adopted children, I know how that adoption can be a positive experience for everyone involved, and there is an acute shortage of babies for adoption.
The psychological damage of abortion for women is well documented. Part of that damage comes from knowing that a child created in God’s image has been destroyed. The system of producing life designed by God has been disrupted, which is an affront to the Creator.
We recently received an article from a Christian woman working in a Christian assisted living facility telling about the value of special days to those in care facilities. She pointed out Romans 14:5, which says, “One person decides that one day is holier than another. Another person decides that all days are the same. Every person must make his own decision.” The word “holiday” in its original use meant “holy day,” and holy means “sacred, dedicated to God.” We need to find reasons for celebrating our own special holidays.
Our sister in Christ found that she could improve the lives of residents in the facility where she worked by making every day memorable by assigning notable food names to certain days. One day would be Fettuccine Alfredo Day, and another might be Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day. Incorporating food holidays into meal planning gave residents something to look forward to. It told everyone that small celebrations remind us that every day is special and life is worth living.
In ancient Israel, there were a host of special days to remind the people of the blessings of God in ways they might otherwise overlook. They had frequent celebrations of a good harvest, of being free from domination by others, and of the good things that had happened in the past. Jesus used parables to talk about good things even though the circumstances of the common people were bleak at that time. Think of how special days Americans celebrate can bring joy into our lives.
We need to avoid gloom and doom mentalities and rejoice in the good things God has given us. Besides positive national celebrations, add ways of celebrating our own special holidays as we remember the good things God has done. And don’t forget to bring these special celebrations to those who are isolated and fighting the battles of health and old age.
We get some interesting questions in this age of skepticism and rejection of God. One that came up recently is why women have to experience menopause. Like many questions raised by those who wish to deny God’s existence, this question is rooted in ignorance and a failure to think carefully.
Most members of the animal kingdom die when they can no longer reproduce. Mammals such as elephants and orangutans remain fertile throughout their lives. The number of animals that live beyond their reproductive years is very small. It has only been documented in a few species, including humans, orcas, and short-finned pilot whales.
There is no scientific explanation for the uniqueness of the human reproductive cycle. Dr. Shankar Singh of McMaster University in Canada maintains that this is because men favor younger mates, but this evolutionary explanation ignores the genetic implications that come with it. The more logical explanation of this fact is the different roles women have at various stages of life. In Titus 2:1-5, Paul talks about older women teaching younger women.
It is a good design that older women can no longer reproduce. My 70+-year-old wife says the thought of having a baby at her age is appalling. For orangutans and elephants, a female having offspring late in life helps maintain the species, and the whole group raises offspring, not just the mother.
Instead of asking why women have to experience menopause, we should note that God’s remarkable design of reproduction uniquely shows His handiwork.
A recent USA Today article gathered data from the University of Michigan and Harvard University, showing that loneliness has increased dramatically in the United States. According to the article, 61% of adults ages 18 to 25 feel profound loneliness. Harvard professor Jeremy Nobel has established an initiative called “Project Unlonely” to address this loneliness crisis.
Professor Nobel classifies three types of loneliness: (1) Psychological loneliness – not having anyone to trust or confide in (2) Societal loneliness – feeling systemically excluded because of such things as gender, race, or disability (3) Spiritual loneliness – feeling disconnected from oneself.
The U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory report says that loneliness increases the risk of premature death by 26%, equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The American Heart Association says that feeling lonely increases a person’s risk of heart disease by 29% and stroke by 32%, indicating that the loneliness crisis is deadly.
The U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy says that the solution to loneliness is to take 15 minutes a day to reach out to someone you care about or look for ways to serve others. He says that when we are with someone else, we must give them our full attention and put away our devices. He further states that schools, companies, and healthcare facilities must adopt strategies to reduce loneliness.
Nowhere in the USA Today article is the Church mentioned. The fact is that the teachings of Christ offer a real solution to loneliness. Read Acts 2:41-47, and you will see an excellent cure for loneliness. Read Matthew 25:31-40 and see what Jesus considers essential in how we live our lives. Christians can avoid the loneliness crisis by becoming active in building relationships and serving others.
Having a relationship with Christ gives us an understanding of our purpose for existing. Loneliness results from a world dominated by “survival of the fittest” and “looking after # 1.” The loneliness crisis in America has become an epidemic and is just part of the collateral damage that comes from rejecting God.
Yesterday, we said that all major polls from Gallup and Pew agree that faith in God is declining in America. We pointed out that the majority of atheists and agnostics agree with the statement: “The findings of science make the existence of God less probable.” That is true even though recent scientific discoveries point to the existence of a mindful ultimate Cause for our existence.
In the past, a significant factor that caused people to reject faith in God was the problem of pain and suffering. Why would a loving and all-powerful God would allow pain and suffering? That question has led many people to reject God in the past, but another factor for rejecting God has exceeded that one.
According to the Discovery Institute, research shows that 50% of people who reject God do so because of suffering, disease, and death. However, 65% of those who reject belief in God today do so because of: “Scientific theories about the unguided evolution of life.” That means science has become a more significant factor in rejecting God than the pain and suffering problem.
What are the implications for humans if we evolved byunguided evolution? Suppose humans have evolved from the lower animals by a mindless, undirected process. In that case, it means that humans have no intrinsic value, no ultimate purpose, no objective morality, and death is the end of our existence as our bodies decay. When people believe that, what can keep them from being filled with despair and choosing suicide and murder? If we fail to find happiness in life, why not bring it to an end?
Before society is destroyed by complete despair, we have a message of hope. We want to tell you that there is a mindful ultimate Cause for our existence. Even scientific evidence points to the existence of God. The Bible and Jesus Christ show us that God loves us and has a plan for our lives. There is purpose and hope and a reason to live. As we enter a new year, the Does God Exist? ministry will continue to share that good news with everyone willing to open their hearts and minds to listen.
Polls show that belief in God among Americans has declined over the past few years, and most dramatically among Gen-Zers. Generation Z is the term used to describe those born between the late 1990s and early 2000s (approximately 1997 to 2012). This generation grew up with access to the internet and portable digital technology. What are some major factors for rejecting faith in God?
Stephen C. Meyer said that the Discovery Institute surveyed people if they agreed with this statement: “The findings of science make the existence of God less probable.” Among self-proclaimed atheists, 65% agreed, and 43% of agnostics agreed. What these people perceive about science has influenced their belief in God. However, as we have said before, science supports faith in God.
In recent years, scientific discoveries have given us more reasons to believe in God. One significant discovery is that the material universe had a beginning. Evidence for that appeared in the 1920s, was confirmed in the 1960s, and further reinforced in the 21st century. The Bible tells us that in verse 1, but it took scientists years to accept the evidence. Anything that begins to exist must have a cause. The cause of the material universe must be outside of time and space and, therefore, immaterial. Science recognizes that time, space, matter, and energy all had a beginning, but they could not have created themselves.
A second discovery that points to an intelligent Creator is that the universe was fine-tuned for life from the beginning. Many physical constants must be precisely as they are for life to exist. More than that, without precision fine-tuning of the physical laws and constants, the universe itself would not exist. Chance cannot explain the precision because so many precise factors must work together.
A third discovery that came into a fuller understanding in the 21st century is the design of the digital code in the DNA molecule that makes life possible. This design has been there since the emergence of the first living cell. We have no examples of information being created without a mind to create it. Information does not happen by chance.
In those three recent discoveries, science rediscovers God. Then what are the major factors for rejecting faith in God? More on that tomorrow.
Recent studies of the mental state of college students show that 45% of them are too depressed to function well, and 10% of those have tried or are contemplating suicide. The use of chemical drugs to bring contentment has grown at an incredible rate. The number of psychological descriptions of mental discontent has grown so large that psychologists now have labels for almost everything imaginable. Are you content with your life?
Jesus Christ lived with twelve dysfunctional, ordinary men. The followers of Christ were not highly educated or leaders in their communities. In some cases, they abruptly left their regular station in life to follow Jesus. In Luke 14:16-24, Jesus tells a parable about a man preparing a great dinner and inviting people to come. The invited people made excuses for not coming, ranging from needing to look at a recently purchased property to a guy who just got married. The twelve men who followed Jesus didn’t procrastinate and give excuses about why they couldn’t follow Him. However, they still struggled with contentment:
*The brothers James and John had their mother appeal to Jesus to give them the choice positions in His kingdom (Matthew 20:20-23). *Peter was boisterous and competitive (John 21:20-22). *Thomas struggled with his faith (John 20:24-28). *Philip and Andrew were skeptical about what Jesus could do (John 6:7-9).
In Philippians 4:12, Paul stated that he had LEARNED to be content. When you read the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5-7, you see that many of His words were designed to enable His followers to find contentment. Learning not to be angry with others (Matthew 5:22-25) brings contentment. Avoiding pornographic activity (Matthew 5:27-28) and not wanting revenge but caring about others (Matthew 5:38-44) can do wonders for our mental attitude. Making prayer personal in a quiet time with God and practicing forgiveness can relieve stress (Matthew 6:6-15). Not being obsessed with making money can bring huge rewards (Matthew 6:19-21 and 25-34).
We have often talked about the design of animals. Various animals act on what we often call “instinct.” Programmed into sea turtles is a journey to safety. When baby sea turtles hatch on the beach, they instinctively and quickly head to the ocean to escape the predators on land. Their mothers didn’t teach them to do that. It is programmed into them. When a kangaroo is born, it will instinctively journey to safety by climbing into its mother’s pouch. She does nothing to assist the tiny creature. Programming a specific action is very efficient, so we program computers to do specific tasks.
In contrast to programmed actions, there is free will. When we tell our children what to do, they may do something entirely different. The child can understand our instructions but still refuse to follow them. The reason is that the child finds other things he wants to do are more appealing.
The bottom line is that commanding actions is less efficient than programming those actions. A baby sea turtle, kangaroo, or robot will act in the way it is programmed. If you are a parent, you have realized that your child will not always do what you command. The question, then, is why didn’t God program humans to do what He wanted? Why did He give us free will? Programming us to act as He desired would have been much more efficient.
God commands us rather than programming us to do His will because He wants to have a relationship with us. Robots can be very efficient because they have specific functions programmed into them and will do what their designer intended. That is not true of humans. However, you can never have a real relationship with a robot. God wants to have a relationship with us. He knew what would happen when He created the first humans, but He did it anyway. We have rebelled and made a mess of our lives and our world. Hatred, war, and mayhem have been the results.
Why, then, did God choose to create us? To Him, having a relationship with us was worth the price. Jesus Christ came to Earth to restore the broken relationship. He was the perfect man, but at the same time, He was God in the flesh. He showed us how to have a loving relationship with God and each other. Then, He bore the punishment for our disobedience to restore the broken relationships.