These Times

Vol. 28 No. 6 | Sep-Oct 2018

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DNA RESEARCH POKES HOLES IN DARWIN’S THEORY

According to the current version of Darwinian evolution, all creatures evolved from simple life forms over approximately 4.5 billion years into the complexity we see now.

The recent findings of two geneticists, Mark Stoeckle from the Rockefeller University in New York and David Thaler at the University of Basel in Switzerland, have presented surprising challenges to this premise. They tested 100,000 species using a method called DNA barcoding, where a short genetic marker in an organism’s DNA is used to identify it’s genetic taxonomy. What Stoeckle and Thaler found was startling: nine out of ten species came into existence around the same time as human beings—from their calculations, 100,000 to 200,000 years ago, which in evolutionary terms, is quite recent.

Stoeckle and Thaler also found very clear genetic boundaries between each species, and low genetic variation within the species. “Genetically, the world is not a blurry place. It is hard to find ‘intermediates’—the evolutionary stepping stones between species,” commented Jesse Ausubel, director of the program where the research was conducted. Dr. Thaler also commented on the genetic boundaries between species and their implications for further research: “Darwin struggled to understand the absence of intermediates and his questions remain fruitful.”

These scientists still believe that explanations can be found to harmonize their findings with Darwin’s premises of natural selection over long ages. Yet even through research conducted by scientists who don’t believe in the Genesis account of Creation, those with “ears to hear” may hear nature quietly testifying of the reliability of Scripture all the way to the mitochondrial level. Far from special: Humanity’s tiny DNA differences are ‘average’ in animal kingdom,” Rockefeller University, May 21, 2018.

CHINA BANS ONLINE BIBLE SALES

April 1, 2018, also known as April Fools’ Day when practical jokes are played, was no joke for mainland Chinese. It was the day when search engines for online shopping platforms like Amazon.cn, Taobao, and JingDong no longer yielded results for “The Holy Bible.”

The state already confines the sale of printed Bibles to state-approved church bookstores equipped with facial recognition software (believed to be used primarily to identify underground Christians looking for Bibles). The recent ban on online Bible sales is likely the implementation of President Xi Zinping’s new “Principle for Promoting Chinese Christianity in China for the Next Five Years (2018–2022).” Chinese Christians, it explains, need a new Bible in tune with “Chinese-style Christianity” (a translation in tune with socialism and state-sponsored atheism). Reading between the lines, Xi Zinping desires to control the flow of Bibles during this re-interpretation, re-translation period. Perhaps one day only the new state-sanctioned translation will be legal.

Over the last several decades, religious growth has exploded in China—especially among Christians. Xi Zingping is determined to rein in this heady growth and to adapt it to the Communist Party’s core values. His euphemistic white paper on “China’s Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief” details new hardline attitudes towards Christians in particular. (Some believe it would be more aptly titled, “China’s Policies and Practices on Controlling Freedom of Religious Belief.”) For instance, the Bible is currently the only religious book that cannot be purchased online. Every other religious book, including the Koran, is still available.

The ban may also be linked to an impending agreement between China and the Vatican. Diplomatic ties between the two nations were severed in 1951 over disputes on the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops. Although China, in signing this agreement, will give a fraction of decision-making power to the Vatican, stripping the Bible from the e-commerce market seems to be one more way Xi Zinping hopes to show his control over the explosive growth of Christianity.

Xi Zinping has just successfully removed two-term limits on the presidency and could be around awhile. But as history has proven, trying to suppress the acquisition of God’s Word will only increase it’s demand as the Apostle Paul reminds us, “we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” 2 Cor. 13:8. “China Bans Online Bible Sales as It Tightens Religious Controls,” The New York Times, April 5, 2018.

DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE RATES RISING

Since 2013 in the US, diagnoses of clinical depression have risen by 33 percent, according to a 2018 report from health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield. Suicide in more than half of the US states has also risen by 30 percent over the last two decades ending in 2018, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is now the tenth leading cause of death in the US.

The figures on US suicide were published in the wake of designer Kate Spade’s and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s suicides and revealed a particular trend: although highly successful, both Spade and Bourdain had struggled with depression as do many other victims of suicide. In the case of Spade, her husband and business partner, Andy Spade, said she’d had depression and anxiety for years, but had been regularly seeing a doctor and taking medication.

While depression is still considered the primary cause for committing suicide, other causes include substance abuse, or a sudden life-altering economic or relational crisis. Mental health experts agree that teaching people how to process loss and how to cope with difficult emotions is essential in the prevention of depression, substance abuse, and suicide.

Perhaps the most important form of prevention for depression and suicide is belief and faith in God, coupled with active religious affiliation. As the American Psychiatric Association noted in a Dec. 1, 2004 article, “Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt,” people who believe in God and who attend worship services have a much lower incidence of depression and suicide. This is likely because those who believe that God will provide resources to cope in stressful situations have lower anxiety and depression. And those who attend worship services have social networks that decrease feelings of loneliness and social isolation, both of which are primary causes of depression. David said of his walk with God, “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11.

DEADLY FIRES RAGE IN CALIFORNIA

As of August 2, 2018, the two-week old Carr fire in Shasta County, California was only 35 percent contained. The fire created it’s own weather system in the 110 °F dry climate, fanning huge fire complexes so hot that boats melted in the surrounding lake marinas, 197 square miles burned (an area larger than Denver), 1,500 structures had been destroyed, and well over 63,000 people had been evacuated. Six people, including two firefighters, lost their lives in what had already become the sixth most devastating fire in California history.

“More than 1,000 wildfires have been sparked in a one-week period in July—that’s more than three times the average 250 or 300 that begin each week at this point in the season,” reported Time magazine of the devastating California wildfires of the summer of 2018. California’s Wildfires Are Spreading Faster and Burning More This Year. Experts Say it ‘Can Only Get Worse,’” Time, July 31, 2018.

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