ARTICLES AND COMMENTARY

IN THE NEWS

Dr. Benjamin Carson's Prayer Breakfast Speech →

February 13, 2013

The director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Dr. Benjamin Carson delivered a much- watched speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 7, promoting education and politely discouraging the chains of political correctness. He was invited for three reasons, according to the emcee: "He loves Jesus, he has a compelling life story, and he is a distinguished man of science and healing." His speech begins at 34:20. Other notable speakers include Elizabeth Dole and U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert. Olympic champion Gabby Douglas gives the final prayer in Jesus' name.
- C-Span2

N. Korea Defiantly Conducts Nuke Tests →

February 13, 2013

North Korea said Tuesday that it had conducted a new, more powerful underground nuclear test. Jerry Dykstra, a spokesman for Open Doors USA explains, "North Korea again defied world opinion and UN resolutions by conducting a third nuclear test. They threatened the United States directly, and they also are threatening to go even farther in the future." Throwing the sanctions back in the United Nations Security Council's face, North Korea not only refused to shut down nuclear development, but also ignored the warnings of its close ally China not to proceed with a nuclear test. Dykstra notes, "North Korea [Kim Jong-un] thinks that he is strong enough to go out on his own. I think maybe he's trying to consolidate power within his ranks. Unfortunately, how far does this go?" There's no longer the illusion that this is a Disney-loving, amusement park leader. "Kim Jong-un has been in power for just over a year. We thought perhaps he would be a little more flexible," Dykstra explains. However, "He's ratcheting up the dialogue. North Korea is a threat."
- Mission Network News

Humans Aren't Just Large Lab Rats →

February 12, 2013

Biomedical researchers have long used mice in the laboratory to learn about human diseases and to test treatments. A new study finds, though, that mouse models do not accurately reflect the complexity of human responses, especially to serious inflammatory stress. One of the authors of the new study, Harvard Medical School professor Ronald Tompkins, said the results do not mean that mice should not be used in lab research, but rather that "we need to recognize that simple model systems do not reproduce complex human disease."
- Voice Of America

3-D Printing At The Nano-Level →

February 11, 2013

Nanoscribe GmbH, a spin-off of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), has developed the world's fastest 3D printer of micro- and nanostructures, the German company claims. With this printer, three-dimensional objects, often smaller than the diameter of a human hair, can be manufactured with minimum time consumption and maximum resolution. The printer is based on a novel laser lithography method. Nanoscribe systems are used to print polymer waveguides reaching data transfer rates of more than 5 terabits per second.
- Kurzweil A.I.

Daughters of Iranian Opposition Leader Arrested →

February 11, 2013

Two daughters of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi have been arrested after security forces raided their homes in the capital, Tehran. It comes almost two years after their parents were put under house arrest. Mr Mousavi, a leader of the Green Movement, lost to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential election. The controversial results triggered mass protests, which were quashed in a brutal crackdown resulting in the deaths of dozens of people. The opposition says more than 80 of its supporters were killed over the following six months, a figure the government disputes. Several have been sentenced to death, and dozens jailed. Iran is due to hold new presidential elections in June to find a successor to Mr. Ahmadinejad.
- BBC News

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ARTICLES AND COMMENTARY

Yes, God Made Hormones - (Print)

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:" - Genesis 1:27-28

It's Valentine's Season again, and romance is throbbing the air. A selection of males may admit to cringing at the chocolate-and-flowers or dinner requirements they are forced to perform each year. A selection of women may grumble at the neglect they face from those who fail to go through the motions. Cynics may declare their freedom from romantic relationships. And yet, a multitude of sweet little babies will arrive on the scene in November because of this holiday - all because St. Valentine helped Roman soldiers defy Emperor Claudius II and marry their sweethearts in the Third Century.

In the beginning, God made creatures, male and female, to reproduce after their kind. After God made man, he said, "Be fruitful and multiply."  Then Adam knew his wife Eve, and they began producing children - both sons and daughters, according to Genesis 5:4.

God invented sex. It was His idea.  It was not the original sin.  It was not the cause (or the result) of the Curse. 

"It's all a trick," one young lady said to us recently. "We have hormones, and we have desires, and it makes us want to hook up with guys. But, it's all a trick to get us trapped, because otherwise we'd never bother with them."

Could be.

Women have the same trouble with children. Women know that children smush peanut butter sandwiches into the couch cushions and rub bananas on the windows. They know that children scream and cry and broadcast their parents' darkest secrets at top volume in the grocery store: "Mommy! Why are you wearing Daddy's panties today! Why are you wearing Daddy's panties!" "Shhh! Because I need to do laundry!"  Women know that children wreck your car and date people who are unseemly and cause endless worry and frustration. And yet, when they see an infant swaddled in its stroller at the park, women still grab their mate's arm and say, "Oh honey. I want a baby." (Honestly, some men do it too.)

Hormones do the strangest things to us.

Men are not immune to the problem. Men could be free to work hard, make money, and spend it all on Superbowl tickets and golf and hunting trips to Alaska. They could have time to read good books or watch violent movies without anybody hounding them about it, and they would never have to eat a salad if they didn't want to. Yet, hormones cause men to seek out the gentler sex, with their honey-do lists and redirection of the men's hard-earned funds, with their diet and relationship requirements.

Hormones are Good:
Yet, in all His goodness and love and wisdom, God invented hormones. He invented hormones on purpose. The pairing up of the first human couple was the finale of His "very good" (Gen 1:31) creation.

The Bible treats marriage not merely as a convenient social structure that makes it easier to have sex and pay the rent. God sees marriage as an honorable institution (Hebrews 13:4 ), one in which a man and woman become one (Matthew 19:6). God set it up as a partnership,  in which both marriage partners aid and support and complement each other. Even more than that, marriage represents the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church (Eph 5:21-33).

Sex In Today's World:
Nowadays, however, our cultural view of sex and marriage has been massively skewed.   At one end, sex is viewed as "dirty"  or unholy, which it isn't.  At the other end, people behave like animals, seeing sexual activity as merely one of a number of physical needs (like food) that should be satisfied on a regular basis, regardless of what restaurant or person happens to be nearby.

Handling Hormones Well:
For those who are happily married, sexual desire generally has a ready outlet.  In fact, it's sought after.  Married couples want to foster more of it.  God designed sex to be pleasurable and fun for both mates.

For single, God fearing folks, though, sexual desire can be quite a problem.  The hormones don't know that their single, God-fearing host is not united in holy matrimony. They do what they want regardless. 

God made the hormones.  He started it in the first place. He didn't do it to trap us or force us to eat salads.  He did it to make us able to mature and grow and to bond with our mates.  Yet, even when we are not in a marriage relationship, those same hormones can still offer the impetus for growing and maturity - both physically and spiritually.

The single adult who is in the difficult position of having to remain abstinent gets to learn the very things that will help him or her be a good spouse later on.   The abstinent adult learns to be patient and self-controlled.  The abstinent adult learns to truly put his or herself in God's hands and wait for His timing.  During our times of abstinence we get to learn to make God our best friend in life and our source of joy and fulfillment, without as much temptation to put all our dependence suffocatingly on another human being.

For those of you who have spouses, go celebrate the hormones God gave you. Woo your spouses and enjoy them.  For those of you still waiting, trust that this is a good time for you, a time to learn how to make God your first and always love and companion.  It's a time to focus on becoming the person that your future spouse will want to not just marry, but stay married to for the next eighty years. 

"He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." - Song of Songs 2:4

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History of the Light-Speed Debate Part II - (Print)

[Last week we began an overview on the possibility that the speed of light has been slowing down since the beginning of the universe.  This is a continuation of that article.]

Since 1987, when V. S. Troitskii argued that light speed had originally been about 10^10 times faster than now, a multitude of papers on cosmology and the speed of light have shown up in journals and on the web. The theories abound as to what is changing, and in relation to what, and what the possible effects are.

As the storm around the 1987 report settled down, Barry Setterfield got back to work, investigating the data rather than playing around with pure theory. Meanwhile, halfway around the world from Australia, in Arizona, a respected astronomer named William Tifft was finding something strange going on with the redshift measurements of light from distant galaxies. It had been presumed that the shift toward the red end of the spectrum of light from these distant galaxies was due to a currently expanding universe, and the measurements should be seen as gradually but smoothly increasing as one went through space. That wasn't what Tifft was finding. The measurements weren't smooth. They jumped from one plateau to another. They were quantized, or came in quantities with distinct breaks in between them.

When Tifft published his findings, astronomers were incredulous and dismissive. In the early 1990s in Scotland, two other astronomers decided to prove him wrong once and for all. Guthrie and Napier collected their own data and studied it. They ended up deciding Tifft was right [T. Beardsley, Scientific American 267:6 (1992), p. 19;. J. Gribbin, New Scientist 9 July (1994), 17; R. Matthews, Science 271 (1996), 759]. What was going on? Barry Setterfield read the material and studied the data. The universe could not be expanding if the red shift measurements were quantized. Expansion would not occur in fits and starts. So what did the red shift mean? While most others were simply denying the Tifft findings, Barry took a closer look. And it all started to make sense. While many articles continued to be published regarding theoretical cosmologies with little regard for much of the data available, Barry was more interested in the data.

Yet, his work is not referenced by any of the others. The Stanford paper is just about forgotten, if it was ever known, by the folks in mainstream physics and astronomy. However, not only are the measurements still there, but the red shift data has added much more information, making it possible to calculate the speed of light back to the first moment of creation. So Barry wrote another paper and submitted it to a standard physics journal in 1999. They did not send it to peer review but returned it immediately, saying it was not a timely subject, was of no current interest, and was not substantial enough. (It was over fifty pages long with about a hundred and fifty references to standard physics papers and texts.) So Barry resubmitted it to an astronomy journal. They sent it out to peer review and the report came back that the paper was really interesting but that it really belonged in a physics journal. So, in 2000, he sent it off to another physics journal. They refused it because they did not like one of the references Barry used: a university text on physics.

There is a reason that Barry's work is not being referenced by mainstream scientists - or even looked at by most. If Barry is right about what the data are indicating, we are living in a very young universe. This inevitable conclusion will never be accepted by standard science. Evolution requires billions of years.

And there is a reason why the major creation organizations are holding his work at an arm's length as well: they are sinking great amounts of money into trying to prove that radiometric dating procedures are fatally flawed. According to what Barry is seeing, however, they are not basically flawed at all: there is a very good reason why such old dates keep appearing in the test results. The rate of decay of radioactive elements is directly related to the speed of light. When the speed of light was higher, decay rates were faster, and the long ages would be expected to show up. As the speed of light slowed down, so the radioactive decay rates slowed down.

By assuming today's rate of decay has been uniform, the earth and universe look extremely old. Thus, the evolutionists are happy with the time that gives for evolution and the creationists are looking for flaws in the methods used for testing for dates. But if the rates of decay for the different elements have not been the same through time, then that throws both groups off! Here was an "atomic clock" which ran according to atomic processes and, possibly, a different "dynamical" clock, the one we use everyday, which is governed by gravity - the rotation and revolution rates of the earth and moon. Could it be that these two "clocks" were not measuring time the same way? A data analysis suggested this was indeed happening. Tom Van Flandern, with a Ph.D. from Yale in astronomy, specializing in celestial mechanics, and for twenty years (1963-1983) Research Astronomer and Chief of the Celestial Mechanics Branch at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington D.C., released the results of some tests showing that the rate of ticking of the atomic clock was measurably slowing down when compared with the "dynamical clock." (Tom Van Flandern was terminated from his work with that institution shortly thereafter, although his work carries a 1984 publication date.)

In recognizing this verified difference between the two different "clocks," it is important to realize that the entire dating system recognized by geology and science in general, saying that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and the universe somewhere around ten billion years older than that, might be thrown into total disarray. The standard science models cannot deal with that. The standard creation models cannot, at this point, deal with the fact that radiometric dating may be, for the most part, telling the truth on the atomic clock. And, meanwhile, the Hubble spacecraft keeps sending back data which keep slipping into Barry Setterfield's model as though they actually belonged there.

[The majority of this article was excerpted from "History of the Light-Speed Debate" by Helen Setterfield, originally published in the July 2002 Personal Update NewsJournal]

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The Last Pope - (Print)

Pope Benedict XVI (born Joseph Ratzinger) announced Monday that he will officially resign on February 28 of this year. When he does so, he will be the first pope to voluntarily leave the post since Pope Gregory XII in 1415. Speculations about possible cover-ups have already started, but Ratzinger has been in poor health for some time, and rumors that he could resign have circulated for more than a year. The Pope explained himself, saying, "In order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."

Just in time for the Lenten Season, the main topic of conversation will dwell on the next pope, due to be elected by Easter on March 31st. Papal candidates are called "Papabili", a Latin term which literally means, "popeable" or "one who might become pope." According to modern church law, a pope is selected only from the College of Cardinals who meet in conclave to select the successor. A Papabile must be a cardinal, so the list of Papabili is fairly short, usually four of five men.

Throughout modern Catholic Church history, the man who emerges from the conclave to lead the estimated 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide has sometimes been a surprise. Those that people may think will be pope many times are not elected. There is a saying in the Vatican, "He, who enters the conclave as Pope, leaves it as a cardinal." The present pope was thought to be a Papabile, but considered a long-shot since he was 78 years old when elected pope - the oldest man to be elected pope in since Pope Clement XII (1730-40). John XXIII, John Paul I, and John Paul II were all elected pope, but not considered papabili.

While there has been a great amount of speculation in modern times about who would be the next pope, many Catholics are watching closely the next conclave, for they believe that whoever succeeds Pope Benedict XIV will be "The Last Pope".

The Prophecy of St. Malachy:
St. Malachy (Maelmhaedhoc O Morgair) lived in 12th Century Ireland and was the Archbishop of Armagh, now a town of 14,000 in Northern Ireland. Attracted to the monastic life, Malachy established the first Cistercian abbey in Ireland in 1142. He also reformed the Irish Church and aligned it more closely with Rome.

What Malachy is more known for is the so-called Prophecy of the Popes, which is attributed to him. The prophecy is a list of 112 short phrases that supposedly describe each of the Roman Catholic popes beginning with Pope Celestine II (elected in 1143) and concluding with the successor of Benedict XVI.

This last pope is described in the prophecy as "Peter the Roman", whose reign as pope will see the destruction of the city of Rome.

The prophecy did not hold much interest among Catholics up until the mid-20th century because it seemed as if it would be a long time before the world would see the election of "The Last Pope".

Until the pontificate of Pius XII (1939-58), the average tenure of recent popes had been approximately 20 years. This change in 1958 with the election of Angelo Roncalli who took the name John XXIII. Elected when he was 77 years old, John XXIII was considered a "caretaker pope" who would keep the papal throne warm until the College of Cardinals could decide on a longer serving pontiff. He served for four years, but put the Catholic Church on a new course by calling the Second Vatican Council. Giovanni Montini was elected to replace John XXIII on his death and called himself Paul VI. His reign lasted 15 years. Albino Luciani followed and took the name John Paul I, combining the names of his predecessors. John Paul 1 reign lasted one month and his death was clouded in controversy.

John Paul 1 was succeeded by Karol Wojtyła who took the name John Paul II. Fairly young in papal terms when he was elected (58), his was the second-longest pontificate lasting 26 years, 168 days,; only Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) who served 31 years, reigned longer.

Interest in the Prophecy of the Popes increased as John Paul II's health declined and Vatican watchers were shocked when Joseph Ratzinger, a cardinal of advanced age, was unexpectedly elected Pope Benedict XVI. According to the Malachy Prophecy, whoever succeeded Benedict would be the Last Pope. (The Catholic Church discounts the Prophecy, saying that they have no connection with Malachy except their erroneous attribution to him.)

The prophecy connected with the most recent popes is as follows:

Pope #263 - John XXIII (1958-1963) - Pastor et Nauta (pastor and marine). Prior to his election he was patriarch of Venice, a marine city, home of the gondolas.

Pope #264 - Paul VI (1963-1978) - Flos florum (flower of flowers). His papal coat of arms displayed three lilies.

Pope #265 - John Paul I (1978) - De medietate Lunae (from the midst of the moon). Albino Luciani was born in Canale d'Ogardo, diocese of Belluno, (beautiful moon) Elected pope on August 26, his reign lasted about a month, from half-moon to half-moon.

Pope #266 - John Paul II (1978-2005) - De labore Solis (of the eclipse of the sun) Karol Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920 during a solar eclipse. There was also solar eclipse on April 8, 2005, the day of his funeral.

Pope #267 - Benedict XVI - Gloria olivae (The glory of the olives) It was originally thought that this pope would be from the Order of St. Benedict (The Benedictines were known also as the Olivetans.) Traditionally, the olive branch has been associated with peace, but in both the Old and New Testaments it also has been ascribed as an emblem for the Jews. Putting the two together, some commentators believed that the reign of this pope would be a peaceful one during which, according to the Catholic Church, the prophesied conversion of the Jews will take place. People who believe in the prophecy believe that the current pope, by taking the name Benedict, fulfilled the prophecy.

Pope #268 - The Last Pope - In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oues in multis tribulationibus: quibus transactis ciuitas septicollis diruetur, & Iudex tremedus iudicabit populum suum. Finis. - ("In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End.")

Proponents of the prophecy say that it is interesting that at least one pope had a similar mystical vision to the "Last Pope" part of the prophecy. During a papal audience in 1909, Pope Pius X claimed he had a vision of the pope leaving Rome, and in leaving the Vatican, he will have to "walk over the dead bodies of his priests."

While many may hold the Prophecy of Malachy to be true, there is a far more authoritative source to tell us what is coming in the end times. Revelation 4:1 introduces a section of Scripture that detail "things which must be hereafter." What follows are prophecies of the end times. We have not yet reached the Tribulation, the revelation of the Antichrist, or other end-time events. What we do see is a preparation for those events.

Jesus said that the last days would be preceded by several things: many false Christs would come, deceiving many; we would "hear of wars and rumors of wars"; and there would be an increase in "famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:5-8).

Today's news is full of false religions, warfare, and natural disasters. We know that events of the tribulation period will include all that Jesus predicted (Revelation 6:1-8); the events of today are only a prelude for greater trials ahead.

Paul warned that the last days would bring a marked increase in false teaching. "In later times, some will abandon the faith, and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons" (1 Timothy 4:1). The last days are described as "perilous times" because of the increasingly evil character of man and people who actively "oppose the truth" (2 Timothy 3:1-9 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3).

What is important is how we live our lives in preparation for Christ's return. What witness are we giving to the world to help non-believers accept the saving grace of Jesus Christ?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:6, Paul concludes a lesson on Christ's coming with these words: "Therefore, let's not fall asleep like others do, but let's stay awake and be sober." (ISV)

The apostles understood that Jesus' imminent return meant they must busy themselves with God's work. They lived life to the fullest, as if every day were their last.

[Large portions of this article were excerpted from "The Last Pope" by Koinonia Institute analyst Steve Elwart, first published in the Koinonia House March 2012 Personal Update news journal.]

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