No Substitute for Mothers

No Substitute for Mothers

There is no substitute for mothers. At least that’s how it now stands under British law, and that’s the way God intended. Even a biological woman who identifies as a transgender man is still a “mother” and not a “father.”

Freddy McConnell is the current name of a British transgender journalist who was born as a female. She had a mastectomy and testosterone treatments and now identifies as a man. Freddy became pregnant by sperm donation, gave birth to a baby, and wanted to be listed as the “father” on the birth certificate. The High Court of Justice in London said, “No.” Freddy took the case to the Court of Appeal, and at the end of April 2020, the justices agreed with the High Court.

The British Children Act of 1989 requires that a mother be listed on the birth certificate. The justices said that according to the law, “a mother has automatic parental responsibility for a child from the moment of birth.” Further, they stated: “No-one else has that automatic parental responsibility…The fact of giving birth to a child has that effect as a matter of operation of law…From the moment of birth, someone must have parental responsibility for a newly born child…” In other words, there is no substitute for mothers.

Judge McFarlane of the High Court of Justice said: “It is now medically and legally possible for an individual, whose gender is recognized in law as male, to become pregnant and give birth to their child. Whilst that person’s gender is ‘male,’ their parental status, which derives from their biological role in giving birth, is that of ‘mother.’”

There is great confusion in society today concerning sexual orientation, genders, and gender roles. Recently I was required to complete a form that listed seven different options for “gender.”

I thank God that there are biological women who are willing to fill the role of being mothers. Women were designed for that role, and there is no substitute for mothers. For various reasons, many women today are single moms, and here are single fathers who must serve as “Mr. Mom.” The truth is that women can do many jobs as well as men, but no man can fill the full role as a mother. Today we want to thank and honor our mothers, especially Christian mothers, for filling that essential role.

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Communist Chinese Priority

Communist Chinese Priority

While the world is trying to stamp out a contagious virus that originated from China, the Chinese Communist government is battling something else. The Communist Chinese priority is to stamp out Christianity.

In March, the Chinese government went on a campaign to remove crosses from churches in three eastern provinces. They brought in cranes to lift the crosses off the church steeples because, they said, religious symbols cannot be physically higher than the Chinese national flag. Government officials told the church leaders that the crosses “were too eye-catching” and might “attract people into the churches.”

Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, Illinois, has a Chinese Institute. The director, Jian Zhu, said that China’s persecution of house churches has intensified. Chinese authorities ask people to spy on their neighbors and report churches meeting in homes. They also require teachers and students to sign statements denouncing Christianity.

Zhu said, “Cameras are all over to watch church and Christians go to Sunday services.” What do the Communists do with the data they gather concerning Christians? According to Zhu, they threaten families not to go to church, “or they will be punished or their relatives could be in trouble.”

As those of us in the United States are prevented from meeting together because of a virus, remember the Chinese Christians. The virus will soon be controlled, but the Communist Chinese priority to persecute Christians will probably only get worse.

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Reporting by Fox News and The Christian Post.

Positive Results from a Quarantined Easter

Positive Results from a Quarantined Easter

Today is a historic Resurrection Sunday when church congregations in the United States and much of the world are unable to assemble in one place. We pray that we will be able to get back together soon and that this will never happen again. However, there may be some positive results from a quarantined Easter.

In some countries, Christians meet in fear for their lives and physical well-being, not because of a virus, but because of the government. In the United States, we have never experienced that kind of persecution. Perhaps the present experience will give us a little more appreciation for the freedom we have. In the early days of the Church, persecution was common. Despite that, the Church grew.

Perhaps one of the positive results from a quarantined Easter is that we will think less about the commercialism of the day and concentrate on the real meaning. Instead of Easter trappings, we can spend more time contemplating Christ’s resurrection and what it means. Instead of Easter Sunday, we can think of it as Resurrection Sunday.

We can be thankful for modern electronic communication that allows us to stay in contact with fellow Christians as well as family and friends. Thanks to the internet, many churches are continuing their services while “social distancing.” In doing so, they are reaching and sharing the gospel with people who would never come to their building. Perhaps this will encourage us to use the internet to spread the gospel in more effective ways than ever. That could be another one of the positive results from a quarantined Easter.

Another positive result might be that it will help us appreciate the value of fellowship with other Christians. The Church not being able to meet in person can help us realize what a blessing it is to worship with our brothers and sisters. I hope that when we can get back together, we will appreciate the fellowship of other Christians as never before. Perhaps when this problem is over, we will find a new enthusiasm for “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

The truth is that Resurrection Sunday should not be a once-a-year event. Each week is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. We encourage you to read our previous posts titled “Christ’s Resurrection Celebration” and “The Event that Changed the World.

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Real Death Rate is One Per Person

Real Death Rate is One Per Person

As the world and our country battle the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, we see daily statistics on the death rate. Whatever the death rate from COVID-19, as someone has said, the real death rate is one per person.

Death is something we generally don’t like to talk about or even think about. Some people seem to believe that if they don’t think about it, they won’t die. That hasn’t worked for anyone so far. Failing to think about death leaves us unprepared when it happens. In his book Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection, Stephen T. Davis wrote that “Human beings are the only animals who know that they must die, and thus the only animals who try to hide from themselves the fact that they must die.”

One of the things that separates us from other animals is our reasoning power. Our reason tells us that it is irrational to believe that impersonal and nonrational forces could have produced us human creatures who are both personal and rational. In my opinion, that is one of the strongest evidences for a personal and rational Creator God.

Now, suppose that you were the Creator of the universe, and your crowning creative achievement rebelled against you. Would you be willing to take on the form of those rebellious creatures to redeem them? Would you be willing to leave your eternal abode to enter the world of those disobedient and ungrateful beings to show them how to live? Would you be ready to die for them, even though they still didn’t catch on and follow your instructions? Is it possible that the Creator could have that much love?

It is more than just possible. It happened. The Creator did it. He died for us—for you and me! But that isn’t the end of the story. He conquered death! Yes, you can say that the real death rate is one per person in this life. But just wait for what God has in store for those who love him! (Read 1 Corinthians 2:9.)

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Spring Arrived in the Northern Hemisphere!

Spring Arrived in the Northern Hemisphere!

Just a few hours ago (11:49 p.m. EDT March 19 or 0349 GMT March 20, 2020) spring arrived in the Northern Hemisphere. Officially it is spring, even though it may not feel like it where you live.

For the next three months, the days will continue to get longer as the Sun moves farther north. This year, the Sun reaches its greatest northern latitude on June 20 when it will be at its highest elevation in the Northern Hemisphere sky. In the Southern Hemisphere, it will be at its lowest elevation. The autumn equinox will arrive on September 22. Then, on December 21, the Southern Hemisphere will have the Sun directly overhead at 23 degrees south latitude while it will be at the lowest point in the north.

At Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Penninsula of Mexico, the Mayans built a huge pyramid to a serpent deity around A.D. 1000. They engineered the pyramid so that at the spring equinox, the Sun’s light resembles a huge snake slithering down the steps on the structure’s face. The Mayans called the equinox “the return of the Sun Serpent.” They recognized the reliable and consistent seasons that make life possible. They could not comprehend everything required to create that consistent reliability. They didn’t know the God who created all things.

What does it mean that spring arrived in the Northern Hemisphere? It means that God has designed the Earth and our solar system to be predictable. He located our planet the just-right distance from a just-right star (our Sun). He gave Earth’s axis a just-right tilt relative to our just-right orbit around the Sun to create the seasons. The result, as we wrote yesterday, is that we have a planet suitable not just for life, but for advanced life.

Scientists today use SETI to search for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. They use telescopes and space probes to look for an exoplanet suitable for life. So far, after millions of hours and unknown amounts of money spent searching for alien life, the results have been zero.

Whether life exists anywhere else in the cosmos makes no difference for the existence of God. As spring arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, it reminds us that life exists here. As we see life blossoming all around us, we are reminded that every human life is precious God. He put us here for a purpose.

— John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2020

Vernal Equinox Arrives Today

Vernal Equinox Arrives Today

The orbit of the Earth around the Sun produces variations in the seasons with four orbital positions having particular significance. Today, March 19, 2020, the Sun will pass directly overhead at the equator. The exact time will be 11:49 p.m. EDT (0349 GMT March 20, 2020). We can rejoice that the vernal equinox arrives today!

This is the earliest equinox in the United States in 124 years! As you can see in the diagram, the usual date for the vernal equinox is March 20 or 21, depending on where you live on the Earth. The reason it arrives on the 19th this year in North America is somewhat complicated, but it has to do with leap years and daylight saving time. We won’t get into that, but I thought we should explain why the diagram differs from this year’s dates.

There is wonderful history of how the Greek scholar Eratosthenes of Alexandria used the equinox to measure the circumference of the Earth. He knew that on the equinox, a pole stuck vertically in the ground left little or no shadow at noon, depending on location. He compared the length of the shadow of a pole in Syene, a town in southern Egypt, with one in Alexandria in northern Egypt. Using the difference in the shadow lengths, he calculated the circumference of the Earth. His calculation was very close to the known circumference today, and it proved the Earth was round. He did that in 245 BC, long before Columbus sailed.

The four polar positions roughly predict the seasons that have been used by every culture to control planting, harvesting, and preparing the soil. In Genesis 1:14, God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of space to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” God not only instituted day and night, but He also positioned the Sun and Moon so they could be used to mark the seasons we would need to live on this planet.

As the vernal equinox arrives today, we wish you a happy equinox!! Enjoy the season and the official end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. We will have more on the spring equinox tomorrow.

— John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2020

Churches of Christ Disaster Relief

Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ
Churches of Christ Disaster Relief at Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ

In the early morning of Tuesday, March 3, 2020, an EF-4 tornado did devastating damage to the city of Cookeville, Tennessee. On the same night, several lesser tornados swept across middle Tennessee, including Nashville. We have discussed before the question of, “Where is God when disaster strikes?” That is where Churches of Christ Disaster Relief is involved.

When a need arises, God works through His people. One of the buildings that survived the hit was the one where the Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ meets in Cookeville. Within hours, their gymnasium became a relief center. Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, Inc., with headquarters in Nashville, brought in truckloads of needed supplies for the hundreds of people who had lost their homes. Members of the Jefferson Avenue church came in to assist, even though they had also been affected by the storm. Area schools were closed, so teens, as well as others, showed up to help.

Before this tragedy happened, Rick Gilbert, deacon who serves as the church’s disaster relief coordinator, had taken groups of church members to Nashville to pack supplies for Churches of Christ Disaster Relief. Now they had a chance to see where those boxes go and how much they are needed. He said, “Now we see why we did what we did.”

On March 6, President Trump visited Cookeville, and Gilbert guided him on a tour of the relief center set up by the church. Gilbert said of the President, “He was touched. He was really touched.” President Trump was in the relief center for about 45 minutes, talking with people and even praying with them. The President said, “Even all of this—Churches of Christ—tremendous amounts of food and goods, and it all came within a matter of hours. So it’s a case study—a case study of what should be done and how it can be done. It’s Tennessee.”

More than that, Mr. President, it’s Christianity—God’s people following the example of Jesus.

You can read the report of this on ChristianChronicle.org.

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Fake Science Issues

Fake Science Issues

We have said many times before that science and faith are friends, not enemies. The conflict comes when we have bad science or bad theology, and there has been a lot of both. It becomes increasingly necessary in today’s polarized world to avoid fake science and false religious doctrines.

From the beginning of the Church, there have been preachers and teachers who were spreading false doctrines. (2 Corinthians 11:13, 1 Timothy 1:3). Today some scientists present falsified scientific research. Elisabeth Bik, a microbiology researcher, has spent the past few years searching out fraudulent science. She searched 20,000 reports of medical research and found that 800 of them (4%) contained manipulated images.

One of the fraudulent papers Bik found was the work of a Pfizer cancer lab researcher. The images had been edited to show results that were not true. After Bik alerted Pfizer, they fired the researcher, and then investigated her previous research on cancer therapeutics. They found more bogus papers that they had to retract. Scientists often use the work of their peers as a basis for further research. If they are basing their work on false information, the whole system becomes polluted, and lives may be endangered.

Publishing scientific work in prestigious academic journals can lead to respect by other scientists as well as career enhancement and increased income. That creates a “publish or perish” mentality. The temptation to falsify the data becomes strong, and sometimes scientists yield to temptation. That’s a good reason why faith in God is necessary for scientists. Furthermore, the science journals don’t have the staff or funds to catch mistakes, and they are reluctant to retract what they have printed.

However, fake science does happen, it is often spotted by other scientists, and it is sometimes retracted by the journal that published it. A website called Retraction Watch has a database of well over 20,000 items as of this date. At the same time, the popular press often takes the most sensational fake science stories and presents them to the general public with no retractions. Since most journalists in the popular media are not science experts, they often add their own errors and even exaggerations.

The bottom line is that fake science reports and false religious teachings are facts of life. Both cases are a result of the human sin dilemma from which Jesus came to redeem us.

— Roland Earnst © 2020

You can read about the work of Elisabeth Bik and others HERE.

Does God Exist? Today, Year 4

2020 - Does God Exist? Today, Year 4

With the start of 2020, we are beginning Does God Exist? Today, Year 4. This website features the kind of information found in the “News and Notes” column in our printed quarterly publication. However, because Does God Exist? Today is published daily, the information is more up-to-date. This website continues to grow in its worldwide outreach thanks to our loyal followers.

In addition to the daily posts on this Does God Exist? Today website, we have daily posts on our Facebook page. That page continues to get the attention of people around the world. The posts on the Facebook page deal with evidence of design in living things. We have dealt with that topic for years in our printed publications. This year we plan to expand that with a new website which we will announce soon.

Also, we want you to know about our DoesGodExist.tv website (Does God Exist? Media) where you can view our entire video series. Also, on that site, you will find access to our audio series and as well as other materials.

It is essential that you know about our original website DoesGodExist.org. There you can read the current issue of our printed journal plus many other articles of interest.

Thank you for following our posts. We appreciate your feedback and support. You make it possible for us to share the message that God exists and the good news of His love with people around the world. As we begin Does God Exist? Today year 4, we pray that 2020 will bring blessings to you and your family.

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Confusing Bible and Traditions at Christmas

Confusing Bible and Traditions at Christmas

Every year around Christmas and Easter, various secular publications and websites carry articles that are critical of Jesus and the Bible. This year LiveScience.com published a page questioning, “How Much of the Nativity Story is True?” Often articles like this make the mistake of confusing Bible and traditions. This one is no exception.

The article begins by quoting Brent Landau, whom they refer to as “a religious studies scholar at the University of Texas at Austin.” Landau says, “My overall take on this, which would be the opinion of most other biblical scholars as well, is that there is very little in the Christmas story of the Gospels that is historically reliable.” Mr. Landau is not only stating that the “Gospels” are historically unreliable, but he is going farther by asserting that “most other biblical scholars” agree with that! His statement is inaccurate on both counts.

We have many times before dealt with the historical accuracy of the Gospels and the Bible as a whole in our publications, videos, and websites. Most biblical scholars would NOT agree that there is “very little in the Christmas story of the Gospels that is historically unreliable.” Actually, there is very little of the “Christmas story” in the Gospels. The story has been embellished by traditions resulting in people confusing Bible and traditions. Only Matthew and Luke say anything about the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, and their accounts are brief. Most of the gospel narratives tell of the ministry and teaching of Jesus leading up to His sacrifice and resurrection, which is much more important than details of His birth.

To provide some balance, the article also quotes Ben Witherington III, a well-known New Testament scholar who teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary. Witherington is author of more than 30 books and is a strong advocate for the accuracy of the Scriptures. He points out that we should apply the same principles of historical investigation to the Bible as we do to the records of other ancient historical events such as Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars. As we have pointed out before, the historical evidence for the biblical events is better supported by documentary evidence than any other event of ancient history.

However, as we said, secular writers often make the mistake of confusing Bible and traditions. The article talks about December 25 not being Christ’s birthday. Of course, it isn’t. The Bible doesn’t give a date for His birth, but it was most likely in the spring. The article also says, “Most scholars agree that Jesus wasn’t born in A.D. 1.” That is true also, but that doesn’t mean the Bible is wrong. No year of His birth can be found in the Bible, but the Scripture does connect it with the reign of Herod the Great. In fact, shouldn’t Jesus have been born in 0 A.D? The A.D. And B.C. designations were assigned years later after people came to understand the importance of His birth.

When Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem to a humble couple from the backwater town of Nazareth, only a few shepherds recognized the significance. Herod was the powerful ruler building monuments to himself. Today, Herod’s structures are in ruins, and nobody bases their calendar on his birthday. By contrast, our calendars remind us of the (approximate) date of Jesus’ birth, and the Church that He established is a monument to His love and sacrifice. The Gospel accounts meet the standards of historical integrity when we avoid confusing Bible and traditions.

— Roland Earnst © 2019