If you read news reports other than the mainstream media, you have to be disturbed by recent stories about government attacks on people of faith.
One article told the story of an August 11, 2023, police raid on a private newspaper in Marion, Kansas. This small-town newspaper had written stories about government abuse of religious freedom and the immoral actions of public officials. The justification for the police raid was that they were seeking the names of sources of information leaked to the newspaper.
A group called “Reporters Without Borders” has written several reports of violence or intimidation of news reporters who wrote articles on government actions that violated the rights of private citizens. One such story was the case of Joe Kennedy, a coach in Bremerton, Washington, who knelt at the 50-yard line and prayed silently for 10 seconds after a high school football game. Kennedy was fired because the school system had banned any prayer on school property.
Joe Kennedy did not encourage his players to participate in the prayer, and he prayed after the game was over. He sued the school system. His case went to the Supreme Court in 2022, and the court agreed with Kennedy. The fact that the school system tried to stop prayer of any kind indicates where America is headed.
Students of American democracy and the intent of the founding fathers will recognize the abuse of government attacks on people of faith. Such attacks are not limited to the government. We have had phone calls from people threatening us for what we publish on this website. Freedom of the press and religion are enshrined in the First Amendment, and as America turns away from God and freedom, Christians face attacks on their faith.
The Does God Exist?” ministry is heavily involved in prison work. Over 5600 incarcerated men and women across the United States are taking our free apologetics courses, and additional students are using our eight Bible study courses. Those of us who grade these courses are constantly learning of the collateral damage of incarceration.
Wives, husbands, and especially children are the innocent victims of a person’s incarceration for substance abuse, alcoholism, anger mismanagement, domestic violence, and other offenses. We frequently get letters from prisoners taking our courses asking us to contact family members to see if their needs are being met for food, shelter, personal hygiene items, clothing, and medical care.
Churches in our area have begun a program called “Backpack Buddies” to help meet some of those needs. Working with police and fire agencies, these churches have purchased backpacks and filled them with things a child would need. That includes items like hair brushes and combs, toothpaste and toothbrushes, lotion, soap, deodorant, and feminine hygiene products. Other items included may be blankets, washcloths, and towels.
The Christian system teaches us to care for those in need. Visiting those in prison doesn’t mean just saying “hi.” It also involves helping those who are suffering and those who are caused to suffer by the mistakes of others. Jesus had strong words against those who offend children (See Matthew 18:1-6). I have seen the trauma involved when a child watches their mother or father be handcuffed and dragged out of the home, leaving them alone or at the mercy of people who don’t love them. Family services and shelters do what they can, but the number of those in need frequently overwhelms those agencies.
We don’t justify the destructive actions of adults in our world, but we know that Jesus would have us address the collateral damage of incarceration. “Backpack Buddies” is a great way to attempt to do that.
When reading ancient literature, there is always a danger for us to “Americanize” the meaning. An example is the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-24. Verse 16 in the King James Version says, “…he would have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat…” Some critics of the Bible have said that eating husks would not have allowed anyone to survive, not even the pigs.
This criticism is a case of assuming that the “husks” were the husks of what we call “corn” in America and which is known as “maize” in other parts of the world. First, they did not have that type of corn in Jesus’ day. When the King James Bible uses the term “corn,” it is wheat or barley. What we know as corn in America was domesticated from a wild plant in southern Mexico. However, the term “corn” is not even used in this parable.
The Greek word used in Luke 15 is “keration,” which refers to something horn-shaped. Newer translations use the term “pods.” The carob tree, native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean, develops edible seed pods shaped like horns. People use carob pods as energy-rich fodder for livestock, including pigs. Humans also eat them in dried and powdered form, sometimes as a substitute for chocolate in recipes because of their color and taste. You may find this ingredient listed as “locust bean gum” in some prepared foods. The poor also use carob pods as a food source.
The prodigal son was reduced to surviving on a poor man’s diet. The people listening to Jesus would have understood these words to demonstrate the level to which the prodigal son had fallen. His life was at rock bottom. The Father’s forgiveness and his statement “…my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” should resonate with thinking people. The Father represents God, and His forgiveness is amazing.
A former top official of the Southern Baptist Convention, Russell Moore, told NPR that members of that denomination object to following the instructions of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. The complaint is that saying “love your enemies” is a “liberal talking point that doesn’t work anymore.” This attitude demonstrates more than misunderstanding who Jesus was and is, it reduces Jesus to the status of a prophet or politician, as Islam and Baha’ullah suggest.
If Jesus Christ had not been WHAT He claimed to be, He could not fulfill the purpose for which He came to Earth. He accomplished that purpose because He was God in the flesh. The Bible shows Jesus to be God in passages such as John 1:1-14. Colossians 1:16-17 leaves no doubt when it says, “For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and on earth … and in Him all things consist.” Hebrews begins by telling us that God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Even Genesis 1:1 hints at Christ’s involvement in the creation process by using “Elohim,” the plural word for God.
In Matthew 5:43-44, when Jesus told His listeners to love their enemies, the Greek word is “agape.” That word means to consider the person to be of incredible worth and value. Jesus tells His followers to consider every human life precious because of its very nature. This flies in the face of atheists who promote “survival of the fittest” and of the Koran, which advocates war and killing as a means to convert people to the Islamic religion.
As long as people fail to understand what Jesus was and is, viewing Him as no more than a prophet or human teacher, we will continue to have war and killing – some of it in the name of religion. Only Jesus Christ offers an end to war and conflict as well as redemption because He is God.
On January 7, 1949, the first issue of the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation was released. It was a bulletin written by scientists who believed in God and who wanted to make an academic response to the skepticism creeping into America’s secular education. The ASA is not an effort by preachers but a product of the thinking and faith of scientists who believe in God. The ASA Journal is active today, and they released volume 75 # 2 of their journal Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith in September 2023.
The 75th-anniversary issue of the ASA Journal contains twenty-five ASA fellows and editors who tell of their work in conveying academic support for faith through science. Every issue of the ASA journal contains book reviews, but this issue has 20 reviews of books dealing with various apologetics issues.
Anyone can read the ASA Journal, but members of the American Scientific Affiliation must “have attained a bachelor’s or higher degree in a science-related discipline, or they must be philosophers, historians, Bible scholars, theologians or other professionals whose vocational activity contributes to the intersection of faith and science.” They must also give assent to the “statement of faith” (you can see this statement on www.asa3.org-ABOUT-Statement of Faith.)
It is essential to understand that this group consists of people from all denominations and belief systems who believe science supports faith in God. The scholars debate and sometimes express views that others, including your author, may disagree with. However, the organization has made a robust academic response to the growing tide of skepticism, naturalism, agnosticism, and atheism in America today.
You can get more information atwww.asa3.org or 978-887-8833. Their mailing address is American Scientific Affiliation, 218 Boston St., Ste 208, Topsfield, MA 01983-2210.
As a retired public school science teacher with a family involved in public education, I have been interested in the struggles of American public schools. The recent issue of the “Nation’s Report Card” shows reading scores at their lowest point in 50 years. The same report shows math scores among 13-year-olds at the lowest average level since 1990.
The public school concept was advanced in 1635 with the Boston Latin School. The first tax-supported public school in America was the Mather School, which opened in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1639. These schools taught the rudiments of literacy and arithmetic with the purpose that all men could read the Scriptures. In 1642, “proper education” was made compulsory.
Here we are in 2023, with one in four children growing up without learning to read. Students in our prison courses struggle because many Bible study students cannot read above a 4th-grade level. Statistics show that two out of three students who can’t read properly by the 4th grade end up on welfare or in jail. In 2013, 66% of the average 4th-grade children in the United States could not read proficiently, according to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
Because of my experience in public school teaching, I don’t have any problem understanding the struggles of American public schools. During my teaching years, I saw two significant influences that inhibited learning. First, I was not given enough class time with the kids to teach them what I knew they needed to understand. I taught math and science and had the kids an hour a day for 186 days. I couldn’t cover everything I wanted the kids to know in 186 hours.
The second problem was attendance. I had an earth science class with 32 students. Most days, I would have about 20 kids present, but it was never the same 20. Kids would show up three times a week, but then they were often taken out of my class for fire drills, storm drills, pep assemblies, counselor sessions, testing, parent conferences, etc. Nobody ever explained how I could teach a kid I didn’t see.
Those problems were present 50 years ago and are much more true today. In addition, today, public school teachers are asked to teach and deal with social issues during class time. They have to worry about pronouns while teaching about racial issues, LGBTQ tolerance, sexual orientation, and political matters. Special interest groups and modern psychological theories dictate most of these topics. At the same time, the teacher has to avoid any reference to morality or biblical teaching about good and evil. No wonder we have a teacher shortage and low student educational levels.
When you throw out God and the Bible, how can you expect kids to understand today’s issues when even adults have no consensus on them? What do you expect to happen when kids cannot read and think for themselves? The struggles of American public schools only add to our society’s ignorance and misery. Meanwhile, the government persecutes Christian schools that try to offer an alternative to the defunct public education system. Christians can promote change, and it begins at the ballot box. What we need is thinking politicians who aren’t just promoting themselves.
A frequent obsession of modern Americans is the question of life elsewhere in the universe. In July 2023, Defense Department employee David Grusch testified before Congress, claiming government mishandling and deliberate misrepresentations about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) believed to be alien spacecraft. The media continues to sensationalize the idea of alien life and exaggerate the unexplained phenomena.
Alien life has no bearing on God’s existence. If there is life elsewhere in the universe, God created it. The belief that life from outer space could solve the problems of humans on Earth is unfortunate. Here are some erroneous assumptions people have recently made:
Some people claim that objects from outside our solar system, such as Oumuamua in 2017, are sent by aliens to spy on us. Scientists have found meteorites with high abundances of beryllium, lanthanum, and uranium, which don’t match alloys found on Earth. These show no signs of alien creation, and no researcher claims any of these support alien life, even though they probably came from outside our solar system.
India’s landing of a spacecraft on the south pole of the Moon was certainly a great accomplishment. However, scientists were interested in the south pole because of the possibility of frozen water there since direct sunlight does not reach that area. They did not expect to find life, and they didn’t.
Concerns about the Cassini spacecraft contaminating Saturn with Earth organisms when it crashed into that planet and the landing of Huygens on Saturn’s moon Titan are not because of aliens. Saturn’s atmosphere and the cold on Titan make it impossible for life to exist there.
Military pilot sightings of things they don’t understand can have many possible explanations, including reflections on the canopy or effects generated by military actions.
Looking for help from aliens to solve the problems we have on Earth is a waste of time and money. The solution to human struggles will not come from alien life elsewhere in the universe. We can find the solution to our struggles in the teachings of Jesus Christ who came to Earth two thousand years ago. He came from outside of space and time to show us the way, the truth, and the life.
One of the more interesting creatures in the ocean is a small octopus called the pearl octopus (Muusoctopus robustus). They get their name because they look like pearls on the dark ocean floor. Because of their small size, they are easy victims of predation. They have no defense mechanisms and are an easy meal for various predatory ocean creatures. How do they continue to thrive in their Pacific Ocean habitat? The answer lies in an octopus garden.
Researchers discovered the octopus garden 80 miles from the central California coast at a place called the Davidson Seamount. A seamount is an ancient volcano that has either sunk into the ocean floor or has been covered by rising ocean water. The Monterey National Marine Sanctuary and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have studied deep-sea corals on this seamount for 20 years. They recently discovered an octopus garden – home to at least 6,000 nesting pearl octopuses and perhaps as many as 20,000.
The design of this “garden” offers successful reproduction of this vulnerable species. By being 10,500 feet down, they avoid many octopus predators simply because they don’t feed that deep. Like many other forms of life, synchronized birthing floods the area with offspring so a predator can’t wipe out a whole population. Hydrothermal springs at the base of Davidson Seamount warm the water, allowing the pearl octopus eggs to hatch much faster.
We see many remarkable designs in the biological world, allowing animals to survive. Every nook and cranny of the planet is home to some form of life, and this is just one more example. As Romans 1:20 says, “We can know there is a God through the things He has made.”
New research shows a connection between the thymus and adult health. When I was a child in the early 1940s, doctors performed surgeries on children to remove a gland or organ because they thought it was vestigial and no longer needed. By the time I was in high school, my tonsils, adenoids, and appendix had all been removed. When my daughter Wendy became a teenager, she had repeated throat issues and infections. Her doctor refused to remove her tonsils or adenoids even though they were infected and hurting her repeatedly.
We know now that the tonsils and adenoids are an important part of the lymphatic system, keeping our bodies healthy by trapping harmful bacteria and viruses. As we have come to understand the immune system in humans, we have found that surgically removing the tonsils and adenoids can open us to infections. New research indicates the same is true of the thymus.
The thymus is a gland in the chest between the lungs, in front of and above the heart. It produces immune cells called T cells that protect against foreign invaders that could cause illness. In children, the thymus is very active, but after puberty, it shrinks. By then, the body has memory T cells specialized in attacking intruders the body has fought before. Since the thymus gradually becomes smaller, it is frequently removed in heart operations because it gets in the way.
Oncologist David Scadden and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston researched the thymus and adult health. They examined the health outcomes of 1,146 patients who had their thymus removed at the hospital between 1993 and 2020. They compared those with an equal number of patients who had the same surgeries but did not have their thymus removed. The death rate for those whose thymus was removed was three times higher than those who did not. Thymus removal was also associated with two times the risk of cancer within five years.
The thymus serves a purpose in childhood but may play a different role in adulthood. The researchers don’t know the cause of these striking numbers, but they show a strong connection between the thymus and adult health. We now know that the appendix, tonsils, and adenoids contribute to the body’s immune system to help keep us healthy. It appears that we should add the thymus to that list.
Psalms 139:14 says, “I will praise you, God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works..” We don’t have to look far to see God’s wisdom and design in creation. Just look in the mirror.
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night when the heavens will vanish with a great rushing sound, and the elements shall be scorched up and dissolved and the earth also and the works that are upon it will be laid bare – seeing that all these things shall be dissolved what devout and dedicated lives you should live.” – 2 Peter 3:10-11
As we study the creation and learn more about the mechanisms that guide natural functions, we realize that biblical statements of God’s methods are scientifically factual. The theologian may simply say that God does it and leave it at that. Those of us with a science background are interested to see how God designed a system to accomplish His purposes.
The statement of 2 Peter 3:10-11 is theological, but the description matches the latest scientific understanding of the nature of matter/energy. Scientific American magazine published an interesting article titled “Disappearing Act.” The article goes back to Stephen Hawking’s research, which showed that event horizons around black holes can emit “Hawking radiation,” which causes the black holes to evaporate.
Researchers in quantum mechanics have shown how the “Schwinger effect” can apply this concept of matter evaporating to any form of matter, not just black holes. If their calculations are correct, it means that anything with mass, which is everything in the creation, is designed so that it will eventually evaporate. Since God created time, the timing of this evaporation is not open to science.
Amazingly, the comment in 2 Peter that all these things will be dissolved cannot be seen as science fiction but as a picture of God’s creative power and wisdom of design. Indeed, the more we know of the creation, the more we comprehend the nature of the Creator.