Month: February 2014

The Case for Creation or Abiogenesis?

One of the most revolutionary research experiments of our time was the 1953 study conducted by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey aimed at proving the theory of abiogenesis or chemical evolution. Abiogenesis claims that it is possible for life to arise spontaneously from non-living molecules in a proper and conducive environment. Thus the study was an effort to “prove” that life on earth originated without intelligent design. Reading between the lines, the experiment attempted to simulate the prebiotic atmosphere to reproduce life on earth in order to “debunk” the creation account. Unfortunately for the researchers, the experiment failed to produce life.  To prove that abiogenesis is implausible is to prove that naturalism is equally unlikely. In the Miller–Urey experiments a sealed glass apparatus was filled with methane, ammonia and hydrogen (to mimic the conditions these scientists believed were appropriate for formation of life in the early atmosphere) and water vapor (to simulate the ocean). They used a heating coil to keep the water boiling. Then they hit gaseous mixture in the flask with a high-voltage (60,000 volts) electric current to mimic lightning and to produce amino acids (amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which are essential to all living organisms). But no life showed up in the experiment. When the experiment failed to produce anticipated results some researchers gave the excuse that the early atmosphere on earth was actually volcanic in composition, which means that it was composed largely of carbon dioxide and nitrogen instead of reducing gases mixture espoused by Miller and Urey.

In the case of the theory of evolution, its problem is compounded by the concept of irreducible complexity which indicates that all elements of a system of an organism need to be present simultaneously for that system to function instead of evolving or developing in a stepwise manner or in sequential improvement as Darwin advocated.

Here is the bottom line, the creation of life needed the specialized intervention of an intelligent (omniscient) Agent who could call into being all forms life on earth, ex nihilo. He alone could form irreplicatably appropriate conditions and manipulate them to produce life as we know it. God alone can do this. This is not to dismiss science as irrelevant. On the contrary, science has significantly improved life on earth. However, in our insatiable quest for knowledge and self-preservation as a species we must not lose sight of what the Bible says. God created life on this earth. He created different species, each endowed with the ability to reproduce itself “according to its kind” and not to reproduce genetically deviant or divergent mutants as a basis for evolving into more advanced forms of life. Evolution posits that life is the result of an unguided and pointless accident. This paradigm eliminates the fundamental value of human life and postulates that when a person dies he or she merely ceases to exist with no hope of a resurrection or an afterlife. If we lose sight of the fact that human life is so valuable that God sent His own Son to redeem humanity we are likely to become de-sensitized spectators or, God forbid, even perpetrators of atrocities that violate the sacredness of human life.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” (Genesis 1:1). “I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me,” (Isaiah 45:5). Discover more: http://youtu.be/9TOcHIb8N5k

Noise, A Dangerous Pollutant

The etiology of disease can be exacerbated and sustained by certain environmental variables. The interaction between human beings and their environment is an integral part of health and well-being. The aspect of public health that is connected with environmental health focuses on the assessment and understanding of the impact of the environment on the well-being of human beings as well as the impact of the actions of human beings on the environment. Environmentalists have divided the environment into two: the environment within the body and the one found outside the body (ambient). One of the threats to health which occurs in the ambient environment is noise.

Noise invades our lives in various forms such as the rumble of an approaching train, the thrum of heavy traffic, the roar of airplanes or even the hum of street sweep as well as neighbors yelling at ornery children and spouses. Usually we are subjected to an occasional scream of a malfunctioning car alarm or the wail of an ambulance on its way to a life-saving assignment. As such, most of our exposure to noise is beyond our control (although there are times when we can initiate it ourselves). For instance, noise can emanate from a neighbor’s lawn mower, house alarm, snow blower, parties, weddings, loud speakers and many others. In our homes, we are exposed to noise from the television, radio, telephone, stereos and many other devices, according to Goines & Hagler (2007). Noise pollution is likely to continue growing in magnitude as well as in severity because of increase in urbanization, population growth, highway, rail and sustained air traffic expansion. Further, there seems to be an emerging new culture with an uncanny or mysterious tolerance for noise, which seems to imply that in order to be heard, it is cool to be loud. The amplified car stereo industry and the modified muffler industry constitute the top two chief noise-making culprits of modern times. Private cars that have amplified stereo systems emit about 120 decibels of sound, which is equivalent to sandblasting. Under normal circumstances levels of noise should not exceed 80 decibels. Regardless of how noise penetrates our lives, it can have adverse effects to our health. Increased noise levels can be pathogenic. For example, noise has causal effects for cardiovascular disease, which can rob individuals of years of a healthy life. The World Health Organization claims that exposure to excessive and incessant traffic noise was implicated in the deaths of about 3 percent of people in Europe who had ischemic heart disease. The noise threshold associated with cardiovascular disorders was identified to be exposure to at least 50 A-weighted decibels. Although daytime exposure to noise was also associated with heart problems, the risk was greater for night time exposure. Reports from the National Center for Health Statistics’ Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicate that over 5 million Americans aged 6-19 suffer from some form of impaired hearing resulting from exposure to noise. Further, about 30 million people in the United States are exposed to dangerous levels of noise at their places of work.

Susan Muto aptly observes that “In a noise polluted world, it is even difficult to hear ourselves think let alone try to be still and know God.” But we must pursue silence, sometimes, and make it our friend so that it can serve as fertile ground for finding intimacy with our God. The Bible says “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10). Learn more about this from: http://youtu.be/9TOcHIb8N5k

Meaning, a Primal Panacea for Suffering

Nothing so captivates the human mind like the stories of resilience and triumph over incredible adversity. Why is it that some people bounce back from major life threatening losses and crises while others do not? How can we build our own resilience in the face of incessant blows from life so that we can continue to forge ahead? Scientists claim they have identified neurobiological mechanisms that promote resilience to adversity and stress, and that gene-gene and gene-environment interactions determine inter-individual variability in responding to crises; a form of response heterogeneity. For example, a monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A)-COMT interaction affects endocrine responses to crises. Psychosocial scientists claim that a resilient individual focuses on the resources on hand instead of the current pathological threat. But a predisposition to resilience is of little value unless it is stirred into action. Finding meaning in life and connecting with it causes that stirring; a fundamental factor in building resilience. Meaning arouses the invincibility and indomitableness of the human spirit. It allows us to develop goals that defy immediate crises, and helps us focus on the reality of the future.

The most famous example of resiliency is Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist, holocaust survivor and founder of Logotherapy. Listen to his position regarding crises and suffering: “In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice…Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.” Because of such a mindset, Frankl emerged from the horror of the holocaust with a deeper and a richer meaning for life. He was able to write 32 books that were translated into 20 languages!! He used his discipline of Logotherapy to help patients improve their mental health by encouraging them to discover meaning to their lives. Frankl further asserts: “We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement. When we are no longer able to change a situation (just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer) we are challenged to change ourselves.” By deliberately changing our perspective about daunting situations which we are not able to change, we can ultimately overcome them; we refuse to let them master us, thus developing remarkable resilience.

I do not know what you are facing right now. But believe me, there is meaning and purpose to it and you have the potential within you to master it: Emerson once remarked that “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” The Bible tells us that “…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world,” 1 John 4:4.

Learn more: http://youtu.be/9TOcHIb8N5k

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The Pain of Pruning for Your Benefit

In His Paschal Discourse, the Lord Jesus adopted the analogy of viticulture to drive home a pertinent message to His disciples and believers after them. The time was at hand for the Lord to be crucified. The physical bond He had shared with the disciples was soon to be severed and the disciples were disturbed. Jesus sensed their despair and tactfully adopted the analogy of the vine, its branches and the husbandman to assure them of a special continuity in their relationship with Him- a less obvious but more profound spiritual bond. They would also assume a new place in the world; different from the place they had in Judaism.

Biblical texts based on agrarian lifestyles can be a little obscure in meaning, particularly to a person with limited agricultural background. As such, it is possible to, inadvertently, miss certain contextual and lexical meanings of such texts. John 15: 1-5 is a lesson in viticulture, the science of the study of grapes. In this text the Lord taught about pruning. Pruning is a type of viticultural activity which was quite common in Israel in the first century A.D. The production of grapes was dependent upon the prudence of the vinedresser, as well as his expertise in weeding and pruning the vineyard. Pruning eliminates excessive and unprofitable superfluous foliage. It stimulates further growth and fruitfulness of the branch as the long as that branch remains attached to the vine. A severed branch loses its existential nourishment as it has no inherent life of its own. Pruning makes the branch more prolific. The farmer’s aim is to make a fruitful branch even more fruitful. The process of pruning transcends the removal of bad branches and deals with the healthy branches to maximize their productivity. The fruitless branches are removed while the fruitful ones are pruned. The vintner takes the fragile branch in his skilled hands and examines it carefully before deciding which part needs to be pruned. Pruning is not random, it is purposeful. Careless pruning can endanger the very life of the branch. The branch has no say in the process of pruning and its fruitfulness always attests to the skill of the vintner. Pruning is God’s method of humbling us without humiliating us so that we may be more profitable for His kingdom. A pruned vine is a healthy, prolific vine. It is not a diseased vine. Lear more, get yourself a copy of the book, The Perfect Prescription, by Reigh Simuzoshya: http://youtu.be/9TOcHIb8N5k

A Moldy Threat to Health

Statistics from 2007 studies conducted at Berkeley reveal that about 21.8 million individuals have asthma in the United States. The pathogenesis of 4.6 million of these cases has been attributed to exposure to indoor dampness and mold. Overall, approximately 30 to 50% of asthma-related health problems are linked to building dampness and mold. The cost for treatment of indoor mold-related asthmatic problems was estimated to be $3.5 billion. The World Health Organization claims that about 1.5 million deaths worldwide each year are linked to indoor air pollution of some sort.

The main element of indoor air pollution is microbial pollution caused by a myriad species of both bacteria and filamentous fungi also known as mold which grows in moist and damp places. Mold was discovered by William Yobe in 1827. The Institute of Medicine has linked exposure to mold to upper respiratory tract problems. Certain types of toxic mold such as aspergillus, fumigatus and histoplasma can cause severe infections in vulnerable individuals with compromised immune systems. A product of mold is mycotoxins. People are often exposed to mycotoxins by ingesting contaminated food, by skin contact or by inhaling these toxins. If exposure to mycotoxins is protracted and unmitigated, the results can be serious adverse health outcomes. Clinical effects resulting from exposure to mycotoxin fumonisins include pulmonary edema, esophageal cancer and many others. Mycotoxin ochratoxins can cause kidney and liver damage over a long period of time. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an immune-mediated health condition can also be exacerbated by exposure to mold.

What is astonishing is that millennia before Yobe’s time the Bible already had cautionary counsel against exposure to mold and fungi. Although the process for remediation of mold infestation has improved in modern times due to technological advancement the approach remains largely the same as the biblical one. Buildings with serious mold infestation often need to be vacated. Recently, in 2002, a South Atlanta apartment complex showed “a serious mold problem” in at least 37 of its 119 units. This necessitated evacuation of dozens of families from the apartments and the property manager and complex owners ended up with numerous compensatory claims from residents exposed to the mold. In Leviticus 14:34-39 the Bible says “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and [there is] a spreading mildew in a house in that land, the owner of the house must go and tell the priest, ‘I have seen something that looks like mildew in my house.’ The priest is to order the house to be emptied before he goes in to examine the mildew, so that nothing in the house will be pronounced unclean.” The Bible is an amazing repository of health guidelines. Learn More at: http://youtu.be/9TOcHIb8N5k

Jesus’ Existence, Myth or Fact?

Skeptics discount the existence of Jesus as a mere myth. Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, once remarked that “Historically, it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all…” When someone said to him, “What will you do, Mr. Russell, if after you die you discover there is a God after all? What will you say to Him?” Russell quipped with characteristic arrogance, “I will tell Him He just did not give me enough evidence.”

REALLY???

Even without reference to Scripture the case for the existence of Jesus is as axiomatic as the case for any other historical figure such as Julius Caesar. Extra biblical material compiled by historians and archaeologists is replete with attestations that the Lord Jesus walked on earth in the flesh. Bible students interested in studying further about the testimonies of non-Christian historical sources can look up the following:

1.      Mara bar Serapion (Post A.D. 70) in a Syrian manuscript. 14.658. Serapion referred to Jesus as a wise King executed by his own people…

2.      Tacitus (AD 56-120). Annals 15-44. Tacitus was a great Roman historian who wrote that “Christians derived their name from a man called Christ who during the reign of Emperor Tiberius had been executed by sentence of the procurator, Pontius Pilate. That checked the pernicious superstition for a short time, but it broke out afresh-not only in Judaea, where the plague first arose, but in Rome itself, where all the horrible and shameful things in the world collect and find a home.” (Excerpt from F. F. Bruce, Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the Gospels, Page 22).

3.      Pliny the Younger (AD 61.113). Letters 10.96;

4.      Suetonius (AD 120). Life of Claudius 25.4

5.      Josephus (i) AD 37-100. Jewish antiquities 18.63-64;

6.      Josephus (ii) AD 30-100. Josephus wrote that Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again at the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”18.63.64.

7.      Celsus (AD 175). Contra Celsum 1.32.33.

 

How is that for lack of evidence???

Anger-A Prescription for Negative Health Outcomes

We live in era in which hearing phrases such as “he easily flies off the handle…be careful not to cross her path…he walks around with a huge chip on his shoulder…he always looks for a fight and never walks away from one,” are chillingly normative. Some people take pride in being associated with these behavioral traits- they brook no nonsense from any one. They do not take insult, implied or explicit, from anyone sitting down. Maybe you happen to be in one of the above categories. But anger is not your friend. Do not embrace it because anger can dispose you to myriad health disorders and conditions. A meta-analysis of studies conducted between 2000 and 2010 assessing the effects of anger on health revealed that any form of anger whether suppressed or expressed can be a determinant of various diseases including coronary heart disease (CHD), diabetes, bulimic behaviors and high blood pressure (Staicu & Cuţov, 2010) . Anger is correlated with cardiovascular diseases because of the bearing it has on the HPA axis as well as on sympathetic nerves. The result of this bearing is an excessive secretion of corticosteroids and catecholamine, which are stress hormones that are capable of triggering a flood of health problems. Anger is also associated with inflammation of the immune system. This situation gets worse if an individual harbors prolonged or chronic anger. Anger can also lead to irrational decisions with terrible repercussions. As such, anger is a self-destructive tool. Next time you want to get angry think about what it might cost your health. An even tempered individual is likely to enjoy better health than a short-tempered individual.

No wonder the Bible says that “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” (Ephesians 4:26).

Learn more about how fearfully and wonderfully made you are from the book, The Perfect Prescription. Catch a glimpse of it from: http://youtu.be/9TOcHIb8N5k