Many years ago, the daughter of a friend of mine had a severe reaction to a vaccination that left her brain-damaged and physically incapacitated. Many of the family’s friends refused to have their children vaccinated because of this. Several of the children contracted diseases that vaccines have could have prevented. In 1998 there was great concern about whether the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine produced autism. Now with the drive to create a COVID-19 vaccine, people are saying they will refuse to use it. Refusing to use vaccines is bad science.
Many people who oppose vaccinations do so by saying that God designed the human body, and adding materials such as vaccines suggests that God’s work is not adequate. If we carry that idea to its logical conclusion, you would never use an antibiotic or any immune therapy. Parents have even refused to give insulin to a diabetic child with tragic results.
The starting point of rejecting vaccinations was a 1998 study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. He claimed to prove that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine had caused autism in children. Wakefield managed to get his research into a peer-reviewed medical journal. He appeared before congress and did a 60 Minutes TV show as well as several British TV shows. It turned out the Wakefield’s claimed study was a scam.
Special interests had paid Wakefield a large amount of money to find evidence they could use in a suit against vaccine manufacturers. The claimed autism evidence was faked. The problem was that the medical community did not follow scientific rules in analyzing Wakefield’s claims. Wakefield was stripped of his medical license because his research did not follow scientific methods and used none of the required safeguards for research of this kind.
Refusing to use vaccines is bad science. Vaccines stimulate the body to produce an immune response to defeat a selected virus. There is no substitute for what the body has built into it. Most of us take an aspirin or a vitamin pill to stimulate the body to solve a perceived problem. My old doctor used to say he never cured anyone of anything. He simply found ways to make the body solve a problem itself.
I have had a severe reaction to bee stings and hay fever reactions to alfalfa. I can take medications to stop those reactions, and without those medications, a bee could kill me. When I was a child, I had severe reactions to sulfa drugs, which threatened my life on one occasion. Any of us can react to a medication or a natural substance, and sometimes this reaction can kill us. My friends eventually lost their child to the reaction she had to the vaccine. It was a tragedy and brought great pain to them. Such an incident is rare, but it does happen.
We raised an adopted child whose biological mother had measles during her pregnancy. He is mentally challenged, blind from cerebral palsy, and wheelchair-bound. If his mother had taken the vaccine that killed my friend’s child, my son Tim would have had none of his problems. Refusing to use vaccines is bad science, and it can have dire consequences. I don’t know all the answers, but God has allowed us to have medical tools, and refusing to use them is not a solution.
Let’s consider the possibility of life from non-life by chance. The simplest living organism is an anaerobic bacterium known as Pelagibacter ubique, which was first isolated by scientists in 2002. Anaerobic means that it does not need oxygen to survive.
Anaerobic bacteria are much simpler than aerobic bacteria, which do require oxygen. This bacterium lives in the lakes and oceans of the world. In 2005, scientists sequenced (decoded) the genome (genetic material, DNA) of P. ubique. They found it to be the smallest genome with the theoretical minimum of information needed to exist as an independent life.
P. ubique has 1,308,759 base pairs, which are pairs of the essential biological compounds that are held together by hydrogen bonds to form the DNA molecule which contains the “blueprint” for each living organism. Each of the components of the base pairs, called nucleobases, are complex biological compounds containing nitrogen and other elements.
There are four nucleobases in DNA, and they are adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. They are typically abbreviated A, G, C, and T. The DNA molecule is present in every cell of every living organism, and the arrangement of those nucleobases describes the basic features of the organism.
We have vastly oversimplified this explanation, but I think you can see our point. Let’s go back to those 1.3 million base pairs in the simplest living organism. What do you think is the possibility of all the essential elements coming together to form the compounds and molecular structures to create the simplest form of life from non-life by chance with no guiding Intelligence? We have one word for it. IMPOSSIBLE!
The Week Magazine (October 23, 2020, page 11) had some interesting data on abortions in the United States. Here are the abortion rates per 1000 women ages 15-44 in some of the states:
Arkansas 6.2 Oklahoma 6.2 Alabama 8.3 Mississippi 8.6 California 17.3 New York 27.4 New Jersey 28.2
Middlebury College in Vermont conducted the study of abortions in the United States. If the Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade, the national reduction in abortions would be 12.8%, and 90% of the American abortion industry would remain intact.
The main point of all this is that laws and court rulings cannot control people’s moral choices. If we are to stop infanticide in America, it will have to be done by changing the thinking of our population. The question remains as to whether a woman’s personal rights supersede the personal rights of a child.
This reminds me of the story of a man who came to the United States of America. He came because he heard that it was the land of the free, and you could do anything you wanted because all human rights were guaranteed. On his first day in America, he saw a man he didn’t like the looks of, so he punched him in the nose. He was arrested and brought before a judge. “I don’t understand,” the man said, “I thought America was the land of the free!” The judge said, “That it is, but your freedom ends where the other man’s nose begins.”
Politicians and the media often use the word “fake” in all kinds of dubious ways. Now we can apply the word to an asteroid known as 2020 SO (Space Object). It seems that this fake asteroid is just space junk.
There has been concern among astronomers for many years about the large number of rocks in our solar system. Right now, the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center has almost a million identified asteroids and comets, some of which could strike the Earth and cause massive destruction. The idea is that by cataloging these objects, we can know if any are on a collision course, so we might intervene to alter the trajectory.
It turns out that at least one of the cataloged asteroids is a fake asteroid. It is actually space junk. A NASA scientist determined that it is the upper stage of a Centaur rocket that put NASA’s Surveyor 2 lander on its way to the Moon in 1966. This rocket is just under 32 feet long and 10 feet in diameter and traveling at 1500 miles per hour. Another fake asteroid has turned out to be the third stage of the Saturn five rocket, which NASA launched in 1969 during the Apollo 12 mission.
Scientists are concerned about the amount of material that humans discard. That includes plastics that clutter the oceans and provide a constant headache at landfills. Chemicals dumped into rivers and lakes have had a very destructive effect on fish and other life forms, including humans. Space is also becoming more and more cluttered with human space junk. The material left from space launches is becoming a hazard to communications satellites and even space vehicles, including the International Space Station.
It is well understood that unborn human babies have a great awareness of conditions outside the womb during the last several months of their development. One question that remains unanswered is how much unborn babies understand about what is going on in the outside world. Is the awareness of the outside world present in all embryos, and is there such a thing as embryonic communication?
Researchers at Spain’s University of Vigo writing in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution have an interesting report on bird embryos. While inside their eggs, they seem to perceive signals from and generate signals to the outside world. The studies involve yellow-legged gulls receiving warning signals from adult birds. Not only do the unhatched birds receive the signals, but they produce strong egg vibrations transferring the information from the adult birds to other embryos. Scientists are still studying what the unhatched birds do with this information. It may relate to when the baby birds peck their way out of the egg.
Ecologist and co-author of the study, Jose Noguera, says he is confident that this phenomenon is present in other bird species. We suggest that it is likely to be true of other forms of life. Some species have synchronous births where many young are born at the same time to reduce the efficiency of predators. Could embryonic communication control that to some extent? Are human babies aware of a pending abortion, and if so, at what stage of the pregnancy?
There are many questions involved in this field of study, and they do have relevance to today’s moral issues.
The Bible refers to the benefits of honey. In the Old Testament, the ideal place to live was “the land of milk and honey.” Proverbs 24:13 finds Solomon telling his son, “You should eat honey because it is good.” John the Baptist’s diet consisted of locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4). It is important to note we are talking about natural, wild honey, not the processed honey with nutrients removed that you might find in your grocery store.
Skeptics will complain that honey is just sugar. Although it does have high sugar content in its 64 calories per tablespoon, wild honey is packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants. The nutrients in the honey depend on where the bees gathered the nectar. The darker the color, the greater the antioxidant punch and benefits of honey. Dark honey has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac for the fall and winter of 2020 has the following facts about the uses of dark, wild honey:
A spoonful of honey will ease a nighttime cough and is an excellent antihistamine.
A spoonful of honey at bedtime will cause a rise in insulin, which triggers a release of serotonin, which is converted to melatonin, a chemical that regulates sleep.
A 2001 study published by the European Journal of Medical Research revealed that a honey solution in warm water applied to itchy areas of the scalp will reduce itching and scaling. It can also reduce skin lesions and hair loss.
A dressing of honey with hydrogen peroxide applied to burns, scrapes, and wounds speeds up healing.
One word of caution–the American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents of children under the age of 12 months not to use honey on the child. Before their first birthday, their underdeveloped immune system cannot handle impurities that can get into the honey.
The fact that ancient biblical characters ate honey, and even locusts, as a staple in their diet, is not a foolish error. We now know that eating some insects and honey can provide a very nutritious line of food. Only recently has modern science come to understand why the Bible references to the benefits of honey make sense.
We are continually looking for examples of intelligence and design in the world around us. One of the most incredible examples is the human immune system.
During the 2020 pandemic, we have all heard discussions among the experts about antibodies and how they can protect us from COVID-19. Scientists have also talked about who is vulnerable to the virus and herd immunity. We may not have thought about how our bodies were designed to fight diseases, virtually all of which come to us from animals.
Built into the human body is the ability to produce antibody proteins whenever a harmful antigen enters the body. This protein is a Y-shaped molecule that destroys the antigen. The antigen can be bacteria, fungi, parasites, or viruses. Once the antibody enters the bloodstream, it can last for a very long time.
More recent studies of people who survived the 1918 flu virus (which killed 50 million people worldwide) showed that survivors still had the antibodies in their blood years later. Dr. Eric Altschuler at the University of Medicine in New Jersey said, “Our immune system has a steel-trap memory. It’s incredible that the Lord has blessed us with antibodies our whole lifetime. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
The question arises as to whether this means we should let people get the COVID-19 virus until we all have antibodies to prevent getting it again. The problem with that view is that this virus can do great harm to our bodies, even if we survive it. The virus can perhaps also mutate and be re-introduced to our bodies.
Typically we review books that deal with apologetics. However, sometimes a book comes to our attention that we believe meets a need even though it does not primarily involve evidence for God and the Bible. We want to share one such book with you here— So You Have Cancer: Now What? By Glen Goree.
I have read many books on cancer and books that deal with grieving when you lose a loved one to cancer. This book was written by a man who has terminal cancer of the liver and a short time to live. I did a lectureship with a congregation in Texas many years ago, where Glenn was the preacher for ten years. He has also been a missionary in Africa and has had a long career as a counselor. Glenn has had a large share of illnesses, including two heart attacks, hepatitis C, diabetes, including having five toes removed, and neuropathy.
The purpose of this book is to help Christians who know their life is about to end. Glenn is candid, outspoken, honest, and fair in what he says. He talks about being angry with God and being outraged. He deals with fear and depression. He discusses God’s grace, forgiveness (including forgiving God), and mercy. He does this by describing his own feelings and then going to the Bible to get help when knowing you are about to die.
Every reader will profit by reading this book since every one of us is terminal. Goree’s approach to grace and God’s mercy alone makes it worth reading.
It is no secret that there are many problems facing humanity today. Doomsday scenarios are all over the web, and they show up in serious scientific writings as well.
The October 2020 issue of Science News carried a feature titled “Scientists to Watch.” As you read through the descriptions of what outstanding scientific minds are doing, you see a great deal of hope for solutions to some of our physical problems. I find it interesting that the researchers are using natural materials and processes that are already operational on a small level in the world around us.
Spider webs are one example. Medical folklore promoted spider webs as a dressing for wounds. New research has shown that spider silk is coated with chemicals that promote blood clotting and prevent infection. Scientists are studying spider silk as a drug delivery system that can produce scaffolding for tissue repair.
Another exciting solution for humanity’s problems today is research showing that gold nanoparticles are a catalyst for converting carbon dioxide into methane and propane. When sunlight shines on the gold nanoparticles, it sets off a series of reactions that take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and produce hydrocarbon fuels. Researchers are also studying the natural process where gold and platinum nanoparticles liberate hydrogen from ammonia. This is useful because many industries need hydrogen for processes, such as fuel cell production.
So far, these processes are slow and inefficient, but speeding them up and making them efficient is the subject of research by today’s outstanding young scientists. God has given us the tools to clean the air, get plastic out of the oceans, and stop global warming. Science is recognizing the wisdom and design built into every corner of the world to solve the world’s physical problems. A more pressing need is getting people to look at the spiritual problems facing humanity today.
We have been working with incarcerated men and women since 1960. Building a prison ministry is a challenge, but it is much needed. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a prisoner say to me, “My life is over; nothing matters anymore.” This is especially true of black men and women in prison.
As we said yesterday, one of the heroes of prison ministries is a man named Buck Griffith. He has been responsible for the conversion of literally thousands of prisoners. Not only has Buck done one-on-one work in the prisons, but he also started a program to help people with drug problems. The program called NewLife Behavior Ministries features Christians Against Substance Abuse (CASA) and provides psychological help and support for prisoners.
There is a desperate need for Christians to get involved in helping families and individuals whose lives have been upended. To help individuals and churches in building a prison ministry, Buck has released a book titled Loosed and Forgiven. This 158-page book has 12 chapters. The titles of the chapters tell you about its content: Chapter 1 – Getting Started Chapter 2 – A Planned Approach Chapter 3 – A Few Things About Crime Chapter 4 – Materials and Tools Chapter 5 – Wardens and Chaplains Chapter 6 – Ministering to Females (1) Chapter 7 – Ministering to females (2) Chapter 8 – Addiction Recovery Chapter 12 – Funding the Ministry Chapter 9 – Follow Up on Those Released Chapter 10 – Sex Offenders Chapter 11 – Writing to Prisoners
Prison ministry can be frustrating, and you should not underestimate Satan’s influence. When Satan has had his way with a man or woman, helping that person change life-course is an incredibly rewarding ministry. Buck Griffith has opened the door to building a prison ministry with this book. Congregations or individuals who want to help meet a great need can use it as a guide to get involved.
The New Life Behavior Ministry website is: nlbm.org