Stephen Hawking’s search ended one year ago today. He was perhaps the most famous scientist in the world until his death. Hawking was a British theoretical physicist and cosmologist. In 1963, when he was 21 years old, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The doctors gave him two years to live. He far exceeded the life expectancy of an ALS patient, even though the disease gradually stole his ability to move.
By the end of his life, Hawking spoke using a computerized voice that he controlled with his cheek muscles using a slow process of selecting words and letters. In spite of his disability, he gave lectures and wrote best-selling books. His motto was “There are no boundaries.” Although he had previously written that God was not needed to explain the creation, in 2014 he openly declared himself to be an atheist.
Hawking married Jane Wilde in 1965. Over the years his illness and his celebrity put a strain on the marriage. Also, Jane Hawking was a Christian and Stephen was an unbeliever, which added to their differences. In 1990 Stephen left Jane for one of his caregivers. In 1995 he divorced Jane and married the caregiver, Elaine Mason. Stephen divorced Elaine in 2006. Hawking then resumed a closer relationship with Jane and his children and grandchildren. Jane wrote a book about their renewed relationship, and it was made into a movie The Theory of Everything in 2014. Eddie Redmayne played Stephen Hawking in the film, and the role won him the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Speaking of the “Theory of Everything,” that is what Stephen Hawking’s search was about. He and other scientists have spent years trying to discover that theory. On January 8, 2018, a new episode of the series “Favorite Places” premiered on CuriosityStream.com. In the show, Stephen Hawking was shown traveling through space to visit some of his favorite places including Venus, the Sun, and the star Proxima Centauri. Narrating the adventure with his computer-generated voice, he told about his search for the “Theory of Everything.”
“I have been searching for something my whole life. Something to explain the world that is by turns kind and cruel, beautiful and confusing. A single all-encompassing idea that can explain the nature of reality—where it all came from and why we exist at all—the Theory of Everything.”
Perhaps in Stephen Hawking’s search, he was overlooking the real answer to his questions. Is it possible that he left out the key to that answer—God. Perhaps his ex-wife Jane had the answer all along in her Christian faith. He acknowledged that the universe is amazingly fine-tuned for life. He attempted to explain that by the idea that this is only one of an almost infinite number of universes with different parameters, and we just happen to live in the one universe with the right parameters and laws to allow life to exist.
Instead of an accidentally fine-tuned universe, what if God created a perfect universe. What if God is love and He created us so that He could love us and so that we would love and serve Him. What if our failure to do so explains why the world is “by turns kind and cruel.” That would explain “where we came from and why we exist at all.” It would also explain “the nature of reality.” That is where Stephen Hawking’s search was leading for his “whole life.”
Sadly, Stephen Hawking never found what he was searching for. We think that the “Theory of Everything” is written in the Bible ready for each of us to discover for ourselves.
It was almost sure to happen. As our culture continues to embrace the idea that there are no absolute standards of morality, it attempts to justify every kind of perverse behavior. Pedophiles are adopting the label “minor-attracted persons.” They want to add MAP to the LGBTQ alphabet.
In an attempt to justify their practices these “minor-attracted persons” are claiming victimhood. There is now a program called “The Prevention Project” that says it exists to treat people who are attracted to minors. On their website, they refer to a MAP they call “John.” They claim he is a victim of misunderstanding. They say “he wants help to ensure he is safe in society.” The homosexual publication Gay Star News ran a story claiming that “pedophiles are attempting to be part of the LGBTI community.” Meanwhile, a German medical student defended pedophilia as an “unchangeable sexual orientation” in a TEDx speech at the University of Wurtzberg.
Since the LGBT community demands that children must be allowed to change their gender, how can they say that children should not be allowed to choose their sexual behavior? In a world where every behavior is “relative” and “caused by biological or environmental factors,” almost any behavior can be justified. Does that mean that we must tolerate the actions of “minor-attracted persons?”
Humans have not been programmed to act in ways that are beyond their control. There are absolute standards of morality and the Bible from Genesis to Revelation indicates that we are free to choose our behavior. Whatever my history or my DNA may be, I still am responsible for what I do.
In yesterday’s discussion on cannibalism, we pointed out that there is no passage in the Bible where people are told to practice cannibalism. We also said that in the New Testament the body is portrayed in passages like 1 Corinthians 3:16 as the dwelling place of God’s Spirit. The next question that logically would arise is whether the same passages and logic condemn instances of suicide in the Bible.
In Old Testament times there was a thing known as royal suicide. A king or military leader who failed was expected to retain his honor by killing himself. We find suicide in the Bible in 1 Samuel 31:1-6 where Saul falls on his own sword. In the New Testament, Judas committed suicide (Matthew 27:3-5), and a prison keeper attempted to (Acts 16:25-28). As is the case with cannibalism, these instances of suicide in the Bible are merely reports that these things happened. They are not things that were commanded or approved by God. The reality is that the jailer was forgiven, and Judas could have been forgiven had he sought forgiveness. Peter found forgiveness for denying Christ, but Judas was so hardened that destruction was all he could understand.
The first point we need to make is that suicide is wrong on all levels. God created us and promised through Jesus that He will be with us and help us find answers to our problems and struggles. Not allowing God to do that is wrong. Suicide is also wrong because of what it does to those who are left behind. I have personally seen the devastation a suicide has brought to parents, children, close friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ. Suicide is a selfish act that does incredible damage to others.
God has built into us a strong desire to live. Our very design causes us to keep going when things get tough. As a public school teacher, I have seen severe mental illness cause a number of students to kill themselves. I am talking about those who sincerely intend to die by their own hand. Some people commit a pseudo-suicide. They do something that they know won’t kill them, but which will allow them to write a desperate note to those who have conflicted with them. It is a cry for help but not a real suicide.
People who are suicidal need help. The burden is on those of us who love them to do a better job of letting them know how much we love them. We must make sure they find help both in the Church and through medical experts who can provide counsel and medications.
Today most mainstream medical and psychiatric organizations are endorsing transgender ideology. It is now being taught in medical schools, schools for mental health care, and continuing education programs for physicians and nurses. We do not want to minimize the severity of gender identity issues, but failure to get good information about transgender medical options is causing a great deal of pain for everyone involved.
The American College of Pediatricians is a group of pediatricians and other professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children. That organization has dedicated itself to providing sound scientific literature proving LGBT attractions are neither innate nor unchangeable. This group provides information about the risks of LGBT lifestyles. The group was actively involved in stopping a proposed counseling ban in California. That law would have made it illegal for professionals to provide counseling on gender identity issues consistent with the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality.
Dr. Michelle Cretella is a board-certified pediatrician and the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians. She presented these facts:
We are seeing an astronomical increase in the number of kids who are requesting and who are being given puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. Kids who go down that medical pathway are highly likely to be permanently sterilized.
The drugs and hormones used to enable transgender lives are toxic and must be taken for life to continue impersonating the opposite sex. That means the person will have an elevated risk of heart attacks, increased blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, and cancer.
From a biological standpoint, it is a complete impossibility to change from a male to a female or vice versa. Children are being given a toxic set of hormones that do not belong in their bodies at those levels. At best it is malpractice, and at the worst, it is institutionalized child abuse.
You can see Dr. Cretella presenting this information in a YouTube video by clicking HERE. You can visit the American College of Pediatricians website at www.acpeds.org.
There are many causes for young people’s confusion about their sexual identity, and it is difficult to comprehend all that kids today face. The breakdown of the families, drugs, abuse, peer pressure, and pollution are just a few of the things that contribute to confusion on gender identity issues in young people. Correcting the confusion by surgery or a cocktail of drugs to be taken for a lifetime should not be pushed on young children. Getting accurate scientific information would seem to be a goal of everyone.
Many of us have taken classes in biology in which we were told that one of the arguments for Darwinian evolution is the presence of vestigial organs. New research questions whether vestigial organs are evidence of evolution or evidence of design.
The argument for the appendix being vestigial was that this fingerlike projection on our colons was a second stomach in earlier stages of evolution. The theory was that since we now cook our food, there is no need for the appendix and it has become useless. The same was said of the tonsils, adenoids, and gall bladder, so they could be removed with no consequences. I can tell you from personal experience that having these three items removed from your body does have negative implications for your general health.
Scientific American (March 2019, page 20) published a report of a 2017 study by an evolutionary biologist named Heather Smith. She is the director of the Anatomical Laboratories at Midwestern University in Arizona. Her study questions whether those organs are really vestigial. She examined 533 species of mammals and found that there is an immunological and gastrointestinal purpose for the appendix. The appendix contains a layer of gut bacteria that are important in fighting disease. Like the tonsils and adenoids, the appendix serves a vital role in defense of our bodies against infection.
It seems that the evolutionary explanation of the use of these organs is not totally correct. While things like wisdom teeth may be examples of vestigial organs; tonsils, adenoids the appendix and the gall bladder are not. The design of the human body is so complex that science is still trying to figure out all of the design features that enable us to survive.
An organization called Open Doors monitors the persecution of Christians in all denominations around the world. Their data for 2018 shows that in the top 50 countries on the watch list Christians experienced a 14% increase in high levels of persecution. Those of us living in the United States have no idea how much violence is brought against believers in Jesus on a worldwide scale. Open Doors reported this data of persecution of Christians in 2018:
4136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons. That’s 11 Christians murdered every day.
2625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned because of their faith.
1266 Churches or Christian buildings like orphanages or hospitals were attacked.
The #1 country in terms of persecution of Christians is North Korea where atheism is the state religion and worship of any kind is not tolerated.
The # 2 (Afghanistan), #3 (Somalia), #4 (Libya), #5 (Pakistan), and #6 (Sudan) countries on the list are Muslim controlled. In those countries, the government encourages violence against Christians.
We tend to trivialize the few media reports of severe persecution of Christians. However, the media seriously under-reports the violence, especially against Christian women. At the same time, our media over-reports abuse that takes place in American churches. Persecution of Christians in 2018 affected one in nine of our brothers and sisters worldwide.
Open Doors is a major source of information and help to those who are being oppressed. You can read more on their website OpenDoorsUSA.org.
One of the challenges that all groups face is the problem of sex abuse. My files are full of letters and notes from people from every religion and philosophy including atheism giving personal testimony of sex abuse.
In 2016 we made a series of videos with Jimmy Hinton titled: Sexual Warfare: Safeguarding Churches from Child Predators. It has been interesting to see the response to this series as church leaders have watched it and said, “But we don’t have that problem in our Church.” In reality, all congregations of any size at all in all denominations have a problem that for the most part has gone unrecognized. Our Catholic friends have gotten most of the attention on this issue, but now our Baptist friends are facing the same publicity.
On February 10, 2019, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News published articles exposing 380 Southern Baptist church workers who have been accused of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years. The 380 include ministers, youth pastors, Sunday school teachers, and church volunteers. Of that number, 220 have been convicted or took plea deals, and dozens more are still in court. More than 700 victims are involved, and leaders at the Southern Baptist Convention are accused of concealing or mishandling victims’ allegations. We want to emphasize that this is a universal problem. Three women have accused atheist/agnostic celebrity scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson of sex abuse, so the atheist community also struggles with this issue. Of course, the same can be said of politicians.
One of the interesting characteristics of the people of the first century was the fact that they allowed mob psychology to control what they believed and what they did. We see this happening in the accounts described in the book of Acts.
A good example is an incident at Lystra in Acts 14:8-20. The story begins with Paul healing a man who was born with a physical deformity that made it impossible for him to walk. The crowd saw that an indisputable miracle had taken place. They cried out that Paul and Barnabas were gods who had come to Earth in the form of men. They called Barnabas Zeus and Paul they called Hermes (the god of speech). The local priest brought garlands and oxen for sacrifice.
When Paul and Barnabas realized what was going on, they rushed into the crowd and proclaimed that they were not gods, but just ordinary men. They seized upon the opportunity to tell the people about Jesus. Verse 18 tells us that “even by saying words like these it was all they could do to keep the crowds from sacrificing to them.” Almost immediately opponents of Christianity showed up and “turned the minds of the crowd against Paul.” The same crowd that wanted to make Paul a god now stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city thinking he was dead. This is an amazing change of belief among the crowd, and it shows mob psychology at work.
The classic example of mob psychology is the crowd that demanded the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In spite of the evidence and the best effort of Pilate, the mob demanded the freeing of a known criminal and the crucifixion of the obviously innocent Jesus.
People today are no different when it comes to mob psychology. I have spoken to groups of atheists in public venues in which they summarily rejected anything I said, even though it was obviously true. I have spoken in other venues sponsored by a local religious group where I could say anything, and the crowd would approve it. Having a debate is no way to come to an understanding of truth. That is because what the crowd believes is what they came into the debate believing and no amount of evidence will change their minds.
Unfortunately, mob psychology applies in politics where our political figures, for the most part, regurgitate what their political party has decided to be true. No matter what the evidence is, they refuse to consider other options. We have seen that clearly in recent years in the inability of Congress to accomplish anything of substance. Public evangelists frequently “seed” some people in a crowd to come forward during an invitation, because they are trying to invoke mob psychology to move people.
When you study conversions in the New Testament, you see people sitting down in a one-on-one relationship and considering the evidence. Deciding what to believe is most fruitfully done in rational one-on-one discussions. We live in a wonderful time in which people can consider the evidence in the privacy of their own homes. The “Does God Exist?” ministry attempts to reach people in that way. We strive to be intellectually honest by presenting, in a personal way, what the evidence is and how we should react to it.
We have many websites designed to reach people on a personal level. It is not our desire to stampede anyone into a belief they don’t understand or to move anyone to make an emotional decision. Jesus reasoned with people, and Paul presented evidence. It is up to you to decide what you will believe, but we hope you will base that decision on a careful study of the evidence.
Most of us know about the 2010 British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster because the media promoted it as “the largest ever.” We saw the pictures of the oil slicks, and the horrible images of sea birds and shore animals coated with oil. We saw the frantic attempts of workers trying to save them. We all pay attention until the media decides that the BP oil spill becomes non-newsworthy.
Once the pictures quit coming, and the stories about the consequences and causes of the explosion and the oil seeps quit making the front page, we stopped paying attention to this catastrophic event. The truth is that nothing has really changed. The location of the oil platform that caused the terrible leakage is 12 miles off the Louisiana coast. Since 2004 between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been leaking from the platform. Hurricanes tend to increase the leakage, and oil slicks continue to create havoc all along the coast.
The Washington Post says that no effort is being made to cap the many leaking wells. Every year that they are not capped, over 180,000 barrels of oil leak into the ocean killing marine life and birds. What will be the ultimate effect of all this? The harvesting of seafood in the area around the wells is significantly reduced, and these effects are seen all over the Gulf of Mexico. The tourist industry has been affected as beaches are closed and the pollution curtails fishing. Multiple studies are looking to see what diseases may be caused or accelerated by the oil.
As the BP oil spill becomes non-newsworthy, we don’t hear about it. Reporting on it isn’t attractive to the media because it no longer sells. But as oil spills, plastic materials, and organic waste cause pollution to our bodies of water resulting in human pain and suffering, we need to let our fellow earthlings know what is going on and that God is not to blame.
A major issue of our day is the question of equal rights for all people. We have talked about racial issues in the past and considered the conversation Jesus had with a Samaritan woman who represented a despised population in that day. This brings us to the issue of women’s rights in the Bible.
John 4:5-42 describes this incredible story of the total freedom from any prejudice in the practice of Jesus Christ. The Jews hated the Samaritans. The hatred had historical roots, and most Jews would not even walk through Samaria. In addition to being in Samaria, Jesus was talking to a woman. In verse 9 the woman expresses amazement that a Jewish man would talk to her, a Samaritan woman. Verse 40 tells us that Jesus stayed with the Samaritans for two more days. That is something a typical Jew would never do.
Those who accuse the biblical record of promoting male chauvinism and racial bias are making an argument that cannot be well supported. There are many reasons why such charges against the Bible are incorrect, and here are a few:
Cherry picking examples without looking at the time, the culture, and the practices of the day is a dishonest approach to women’s rights in the Bible. In the early days of human existence, survival depended on the entire family being involved in providing food and shelter. This meant that women necessarily were confined to certain roles. Defending the family against animals and enemies didn’t fit the roles of most women, and the times and conditions dictated the functions of each member of the family.
Failing to see the God-given roles for women and ascribing abuse that was done in opposition to God’s commands is an invalid argument. In Genesis 24:54-58 the story of Rebekah shows that in God’s system a woman had the right to control whom she married. Numbers 30:3-16 shows God’s rules that protected women. Proverbs 31 describes the voluntary role of a woman who chose to manage her household. The entire book of Ruth shows women having rights even in the ancient world. Deborah in Judges 4 was a judge and political leader. Esther is a revered figure of the Old Testament.
Women in the New Testament could choose any role they wished. First Corinthians 7:32-40 makes it clear that women have the option of choosing a career instead of marriage. Luke 8:1-3 shows us that women supported Christ financially in His ministry. Acts 16 tells about a woman named Lydia who owned a business and played a vital role in the ministry of Paul.
The whole New Testament plan placed great value on all people, including women, above every other consideration. This is stated plainly in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In Acts 21:9 we read that Philip had four daughters who prophesied. In Romans 16 Paul lists a group of individuals who played critical roles in the work of the early Church. Most of them are women, and he especially tells the Church in Rome to assist a woman named Phoebe.