In March, the state of Idaho enacted a law called the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” The purpose was to protect women from having to compete in sports against males who identify themselves as females. Gender issues in women’s sports have created unfairness.
This was an international problem in the last Olympics as Russian men posed as women and became a factor in the Olympic competition. In Connecticut, two males who claimed to be females dominated high school track when they captured over a dozen championships and broke 17 long-standing female track records.
The question of gender identity has become an issue far beyond the rights of individuals who wish to identify with a different gender. When men decide to be women and compete in women’s athletic events, they affect the rights of all the women in that field. Chelsea Mitchell, a Connecticut high school senior, was the fastest female runner in four different state championships. She watched the gold medal and state title go to males who claimed to be females. Her statement was, “No girl should have to set out onto her starting blocks knowing that no matter how hard you work, you don’t have a fair shot at victory. Female athletes are only looking for a fair playing field. All we’re asking for is a fair chance.“
There is a biological difference between males and females. The biblical position is that God created males and females as individual entities, and all the evidence supports that fact. In America today, a person can legally express their sexuality any way they wish. Denying others the right to compete equally with those having the same biological makeup is a violation of the evidence and a violation of gender rights. Gender issues in women’s sports will continue to be a problem as long as people fail to accept the undeniable fact that men and women are different.
To remain politically correct in the United States, Disney has gone to great lengths to include LGBT content in their productions, including those designed for children. However, Disney removes LGBT content in the Russian version of children’s movies to meet the government’s demands. They have also done the same for Muslim countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Singapore, where a very brief lesbian kiss was edited out of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
The new children’s film “Onward” contains a scene where a female cyclops police officer named Specter says, “My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out.” In the Russian version” girlfriend” was changed to “partner.” Russia also required editing out LGBT content in” Rocketman” and “Avengers: Endgame.”
Interestingly, Disney removes LGBT content for Russia and Muslim countries. They have the legal right to adapt their material to different cultures. Still, it seems strange that family values are emphasized by the entertainment industry for children in other countries and ignored in the United States.
Yesterday we looked at the two postulates of Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity. We saw how our view of time is changed by taking the two postulates and applying them to motion at or near the speed of light. Now let’s look at mass and acceleration at light speed.
Looking at the top equation, which we presented yesterday, you can see that at the speed of light, the equation’s denominator becomes 1 – 1, which is zero. Time stops. If the velocity could somehow exceed the velocity of light, the denominator would be the square root of a negative number, which is not possible.
Another one of Einstein’s equations is a description of length in the direction of motion. The second equation shows that an object’s length in motion (L’) is equal to its length at rest (L) times the quantity square root of 1 minus the velocity (v) squared divided by the speed of light (c) squared. Thus the faster you move, the thinner you are in the direction of motion. An object one meter long at rest would be .765 meters at half the speed of light. At the speed of light, it would disappear, because it would have no length. There would be energy, but no physical length. What travels at the speed of light? The answer, of course, is light itself. Light is two-dimensional. It has no thickness in the direction in which it is moving, precisely what Einstein’s postulates predict.
Mass is another quantity that is affected by Einstein’s postulates. The equation for mass is similar to the equation for time. The mass in motion (m) equals the mass at rest (m’) divided by the square root of 1 minus the velocity squared divided by the speed of light squared. As an object moves faster, its mass increases, but it can never reach light speed. What, then, can we know about mass and acceleration at light speed?
One of the fundamental laws of physics is Newton’s Second Law. It says that when we apply force to a mass, the force (F) depends on the amount of the mass (M) and how much we want it to accelerate (A). The equation is F=MA. At the speed of light, the mass of an object would be infinite, and the force required to accelerate it to that speed would also be infinite. Because of the magnitude of the force, the mass would collapse into a black hole long before reaching light speed. So, it is not possible to achieve mass and acceleration at light speed.
People have paid much attention to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere because they play a significant role in global warming. The main culprit in the greenhouse gas list is carbon dioxide. Not only do we exhale this gas, but fires of all kinds produce it. With the recent major fires in Australia, there is even more concern about the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But God has given the Earth some tools to counteract greenhouse gases.
The most efficient tool built into the Earth is a microscopic plant called a diatom. There are 12,000 species of diatoms in Earth’s lakes and oceans. Unlike phytoplankton, diatoms are encased in porous, intricately structured silica shells. Examined under a microscope, these silica shells are beautiful, and they are very resistant to change in shape. That means that the spaces between the shells can collect particulate material. So diatoms are used as filtering agents to filter water for swimming pools and as fillers for aerating soils in yards. The shells are used as diatomaceous earth, which is familiar to most of us, especially those who raise roses or tomatoes.
Diatoms can also absorb gases. In the oceans, they absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide and lock it up in the ocean’s depths. Diatoms capture as much carbon dioxide as all the trees, grasses, and other land plants combined. The fancy latticework of the diatom is not just for humans to admire. Because of the twists and turns of their shells, the surface area of diatoms is much greater than that of smooth shells. The increased surface area maximizes photosynthesis and allows the diatoms greater energy for growth and reproduction.
The life expectancy of a diatom is about six days. Because the silicon is heavy, the diatom at death sinks to the ocean floor or lake, taking carbon with it. One solution to the buildup of carbon dioxide is to catalyze the growth of diatoms. Iron nutrients can do that, and seeding the oceans with iron might be a way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Diatoms are one more example of the design built into Earth’s structure to allow the planet to exist over the long haul. While diatoms are not apparent to the human eye, they are tools to counteract greenhouse gases and a possible solution to a modern problem.
There are animals designed to fill every ecological niche, and they are often specialized for a local ecosystem. Many flightless birds have a unique ability to fill a specialized niche. Penguins and ostriches are examples of that. New Zealand kiwis are an especially odd example of birds designed for a unique environment.
These flightless, nocturnal birds fill a niche in the New Zealand forests. They are about the size of a chicken, and they eat worms, insects, and berries. Kiwi feathers resemble the rough fur of some mammals rather than bird feathers. The feathers shed dirt efficiently, which is good since they live in dug-out burrows underground. Kiwis get their name from their vocalizations, which sound like “keee weee.”
Kiwis have no keel on their sternum and no tail, so they can’t fly. They do have muscular legs with four toes. (Most flightless birds in the ratite group have two or three.) They have thick, tough skin and heavy, dense bones. (Most birds have hollow bones for flying.) They have a low body temperature for a bird. Their bills have nostrils at the tip, giving them an acute sense of smell. By eating worms, grubs, and insects, kiwis maintain the ecological balance needed in the forest. New Zealand kiwis had no predators until humans introduced dogs and cats to the country.
Kiwi eggs are designed differently from other bird eggs. They are huge, being equal to 20% of the mother’s weight. It would be like a human mother having a baby one-fifth of her weight. The eggs have twice as much yolk as other bird eggs, and they contain antibacterial and antifungal materials needed for living in underground burrows. The male sits on the egg until the chick kicks its way out since kiwi chicks have no egg tooth to break the shell. The parents do not feed the chick, which lives on the extra yoke until it can follow the male outside to get worms and insects.
God’s design is different in each ecosystem, but there are always creatures that provide balance. When humans upset that balance, the result can be a disaster. New Zealand kiwis are an example of unique specialization to support the forests of that unique country. To the people of New Zealand, they are a treasure.
Japan has been a world leader in the development and implementation of high-speed trains. More than 10 billion Japanese passengers are transported by rail each year, and those trains keep the population highly mobile. However, biomimicry solves a high-speed train problem.
One of the major difficulties with the high-speed rail system was that the trains had a bullet-shaped nose. That design compressed the air creating a severe shock wave every time the train went through a tunnel. This “sonic boom” was especially bad in cities, and because Japan is densely populated, the sonic shock waves were a real problem.
The chief engineer for the West Japan Railway Company named Eiji Nakatsu also happened to have birding as a hobby. He was trying to solve the sonic boom issue when he saw a kingfisher dive into the water from a high elevation without even making a splash. He was also aware that owl feathers have the unique ability to absorb sound so an owl can dive quietly on its prey.
Nakatsu and his fellow engineers took the examples that birds offered and built the front of their trains with the equivalent of a kingfisher bill. They also installed a quieter pantograph design based on owl’s wings. (The pantograph is the device mounted on top of an electric train to collect the power from an overhead cable.) in 1997, trains using those designs went into service, and the tunnel problem and noise issue were resolved.
It is called biomimicry when human designers copy something they see in nature to solve a technical problem. There are many examples of biomimicry from velcro to binding straps. God thought of it first, and humans have merely learned to copy God’s design. That’s how biomimicry solves a high-speed train problem.
The Barna Research Group is a research agency that has been doing statistical analysis of religion since 1984. Their studies are widely recognized as academically valid. One useful part of Barna’s work is that they repeat studies to identify trends. Research this year indicates a decline in practicing Christians in America.
Barna defines a practicing Christian as: “Someone who identifies as a Christian, agrees strongly that faith is very important in their life, and has attended church within the past month.” In the year 2000, 45% of Americans surveyed identified themselves as Christians using that criterion. In February of 2020, that percentage had dropped to 25%. This research was based on interviews with 96,171 adults.
When you think about the numbers associated with the Barna definition, it is evident that the word “practicing” is the weasel word. Many people who claim to be Christians have not made a practice of attending Church services. At the same time, they would probably be upset to be called “non-practicing Christians.” However, the truth is that Barna used the same set of questions in 2000 and 2020. There can be no doubt that there has been a sharp decline in practicing Christians in America.
It may be that the coronavirus pandemic will pull some of us away from making a god out of our material possessions. But unless we replace our zeal for things with enthusiasm for the teachings of Jesus Christ, we will continue to be poorly equipped either for this life or for eternity.
We all understand why birds of the Northern Hemisphere fly south in the fall. When the temperatures drop in Michigan, and the lakes are covered with ice, most birds have found a warmer place in the south. Michigan has many so-called “snowbirds” in the human population who leave us in November to go to Florida’s sunny shores. They come back in the spring to enjoy Michigan summers and because they have family here. The question is, why do birds fly north in spring? Couldn’t they save a lot of trouble by just staying in the south all year?
The answer to that question is food. The fact is that tropical areas simply don’t have enough insects to provide the protein that birds need to feed their chicks. When birds are in the south, they survive by eating berries, fruits, and nectar. None of those foods provide much protein. The time when birds return to the north coincides with the explosion of insects in the spring. They can enjoy less competition and longer days while dining on insects in the north.
The question remains as to how the birds know this? How do they know that they can benefit by traveling hundreds or thousands of miles in the spring? Why do the birds have the urge to fly north at the time that benefits them as well as the ecological systems they help to support? In other words, why do birds fly north in spring? The answer is that it’s built into their genes.
God’s view of Earth and the systems that make it work is far greater than ours. We are beginning to understand how many things, such as bird migration, must happen for the system of life to exist. It also speaks to us about how important it is that we take care of what God has given us.
There are all kinds of evidence that we are in a period of global warming. Many of the examples don’t have so much to do with temperature as with heat. Glaciers, for instance, stay pretty much at the same temperature under the surface. But ice requires 80 calories of heat per gram to melt, without changing the temperature. You can see that when you put ice cubes in your tea. You can also see the effect of global warming on Michigan fruit trees.
We live in an area rich in fruit-growing with apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, and blueberries being major cash crops. My friends who make their living with Michigan fruit trees are very upset with the current weather cycle because it has not been cold enough. Fruit trees require time and temperature to know when to blossom and when not to. They do this by a sophisticated design system. Most fruit trees need a minimum of 250 hours of temperatures between 35 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to 10 degrees Celsius), and some require up to 1000 hours. Temperatures below freezing don’t count. The “chilling hours” are sensed by the buds on the trees, not the roots. The wisdom in this system is obvious. Michigan winters usually have many days when the temperature goes below 10 degrees C, but there are also those rare days when the temperature gets very warm. This past winter, we had fewer than normal hours in the required temperature range. The buds have not gotten enough chilling to tell them to open. If they didn’t have the built-in time requirement, you can understand what would happen. The first time the temperature dipped below 10 degrees followed by a warm day, the buds would open and blossom only to be killed by the next cold snap.
Trees that are native in southern latitudes don’t bear fruit well when they are moved north. God has suited plants to different climates as well as other environmental factors. Orchards are found near bodies of water for several reasons. One of them is the tempering effect the water has on the air temperature. The presence of Lake Michigan provides a heat sink for our Michigan fruit trees that is as important as the moisture itself. The Psalmist seems to have had some idea of this when he compares a righteous person to a tree: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked … He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season” (Psalms 1:1-3).
My fruit-growing friends have learned to understand and work with God’s design for their trees, but sometimes weather anomalies can frustrate their best efforts.
We are all aware of the destructive nature of the pandemic we are enduring. There is no question about how the virus is impacting families and the economy of the country. At the same time, some positive things are happening because of Christian witness during the pandemic.
There is a story circulated by SAT-7, an interdenominational Christian television center in the Middle East, which demonstrates how the coronavirus is being beneficial. A man in Iran called the television station and said that the people talking on the station were not like the ones that dominated his country. He said he couldn’t believe that they weren’t violent but had a joy and peace about them which he found attractive. He didn’t have a clue as to who Jesus is. However, he knew that what Jesus was saying was better than the violence, terror, and killing that were a part of the religion that dominates his part of the world. He wanted to know where Jesus lived so he could visit Him.
A week later, this man called again, but this time he had 25 young men crammed into a tiny apartment, and all of them wanted to hear about Jesus. Secret house churches are blossoming all over the Middle East. The coronavirus allows Christians to show compassion and bring help and necessary medications to people who are suffering. Similar stories are coming from Afghanistan.
In America, the coronavirus is showing the huge contrast between atheist beliefs and what Christianity offers. Survival of the fittest as a guide to life doesn’t work well with a pandemic. Isolation and competing for medicine and medical care are not attractive lifestyles for most people. Christians who are first responders talk about the dominance of believers in their efforts. The idea of serving others and saving lives even at personal risk to themselves is the exact opposite of atheistic belief systems.
The coronavirus is not God’s retribution for human sin, but, “All things work to the good of those who love the Lord” (Romans 8:28). Christian witness during the pandemic brings a shining light in a culture that suddenly finds itself unable to manage. In this crisis, atheism offers no hope except perhaps personally, selfishly surviving the plague in whatever way possible. True atheism has no thought of helping others or being confident about the future, even if this life comes to an end. The contrast is a great apologetic for Christianity.