Templeton prize goes to Dr. Collins

It seems appropriate that the man who lead the effort to read the blueprint of the human genome should be honored in this way.  Sir John Templeton set up this prize to honor those who demonstrate “the insights that science brings to the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s purpose and place within it.”

Collins was an atheist in his medical school days. It was watching how some men and women faced death that caused him to doubt his materialism.   Ecclesiastes 3:11 say God planted eternity in the human heart.

Reminds me of what CL Lewis said, ” There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit -…”

For many years after its discover, materialistic scientists thought the DNA was full of junk code left over from evolution.  This of course was because they didn’t understand what that extra DNA was for, the code that didn’t seem to be genes.  Turns out, it is the switches responsible for epigenesis.

Fearfully and wonderfully made – yep.

Dalai Lama?

Buddhism is under tight control and surveillance in China, no surprise.  The second-highest ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism, recognized as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, disappeared 25 years ago when he was a six year old boy.

The boy was identified by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who lives in exile in India.  Beijing rejected the Dalai Lama’s choice and put forward its own candidate for whom it claims is the real Panchen Lama.  Panchen Lama is a title for a religious and political leader of Tibet.

On Tuesday, China announced he was a college graduate with a job living a normal life. This was likely China’s response to the US Secretary of State asking about the individual’s whereabouts.

The government of Tibet in exile had this to say on the 25th anniversary of the disappearance: “China’s abduction of the Panchen Lama and forcible denial of his religious identity and the right to practice in his monastery is not only a violation of religious freedom but also a gross violation of human rights.”

The most important job that the Panchen Lama has is to identify the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, who is revered as a living god by by Tibetan Buddhists.  The current Dalai Lama is 84.  China wants to control his successor.

The atheistic Chinese government said “”Reincarnation of living Buddhas, including the Dalai Lama, must comply with Chinese laws and regulations and follow religious rituals and historical conventions” last year. A 2007 law says the reincarnation of a living Buddha is “subject to an application for approval.”

The Catholic Church in China now ordains bishops with the joint blessings of Beijing and the Vatican.  Seems that Beijing wants control over all types of belief.

Eventually the leaders in Beijing will meet the Living God, meanwhile pray for the folks living under tyranny.

 

Ravi Zacharias has departed

Ravi Zacharias was a Christian apologist you might have heard on the radio.  He passed away Tuesday at the age of 74, not from COVID-19 but from bone cancer. Zacharias was born in India and considered himself a religious skeptic till age  17 although he was raised in what was considered a Christian home.

He launched an apologetic’s center in 2017 and had a weekly radio program that was carried by 2000 outlets.  He spoke at universities around the world and authored several books, including Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message (2000).

He also wrote Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality (2012)  to caution Americans about new age spiritual ideas promoted by famous folks like Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra.

His perspective was insightful.

 

 

 

Patience, Revelation and Rejoice

These were the names of children, ages 13, 6 and 4 killed by Fulani herdsman in Nigeria this week.  At least 17 people were killed and six others injured when the village was attacked about 11:30 PM Monday evening.  One of those killed was a six month old infant.

After breaking into the family home, the attackers killed the 40 year old father Jonathan Yakubu, his wife and the three children – all hacked to death.

More than 38 Southern Kaduna people have been killed by Fulani herdsman since the COVID-19 lockdown on March 25, more than have been killed by the virus.

Fulani radicals have been attacking Christian villages in Nigeria for the past five years. The attacks have displaced thousands – and that is the point.  The Fulani want the land inhabited by the Christians.

How is it not genocide when children and infants are hacked to death with machetes? Genocide is deliberate killing of an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group—in whole or in part.  It is a crime against humanity.

The ancestors of the Fulani people were pushed from the Sahara southward around the third millennium B.C.  They were among the first people in African to convert to Islam around 500 AD.  The Fulani are among the last nomadic people on the planet. Recent climate changes have not been kind to their way of life – but killing children is surely no solution.  

 

pilot dies delivering corona virus tests

Joyce Lin was a remarkable soul, an MIT graduate who gave up a lucrative career in computing in the United States to be a bush pilot.  After her Master’s from MIT, she studied theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. 

She was flying COVID-19 tests to a village in the mountains called p.  She was the only person on board the single engine aircraft when she encountered technical difficulties and asked to turn back to the airport in Papua. She sent out a distress call, but the control tower lost track of her.

The 40 year old woman’s body was retrieved from Lake Sentani about two hours after the crash.  Joyce worked for Mission Aviation Fellowship taking humanitarian aid to some of the remotest places on earth, the jungle covered mountains of Papua.  She was carrying food, books and school kits along with the COVID-19 tests when her plane went down.

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is a Christian organization that provides aviation,  communications, and learning technology services to more than 1,000 Christian and humanitarian agencies, as well as thousands of isolated missionaries and indigenous villagers in the world’s most remote areas.   Joyce had been with MAF for about three years.

Joyce Lin gave her life for something more important than herself.  Please remember her family and friends in your prayers.

a crime against all values

If you are monitoring the situation here on planet earth and wondering if Evil has been loosed to walk the earth, consider what happened to day in Kabul as a data point.

Gunman stormed a maternity ward killing newborn babes in their mothers’ arms.  The A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior s called the attack a “crime against all values” and added “Any groups that are involved in such attacks are against all human and Islamic values.”

There are images of the victims circulating on social media.  ISIS has not yet claimed responsibility for the atrocity, but the attack is similar to attacks in March targeting civilians, one on a Sikh temple and another  an ethnic Hazara and Shiite gathering.

Who targets nurses, mothers and babies?  No one is more innocent that a new born babe.  This attack has all the hallmarks of the prince of this world.

 

 

happy ending

A kidnapped Italian aid worker has been returned home and has arrived in Rome. Silvia Constanza Romano was freed outside of Mogadishu on Saturday.

According to a recent source, there are still three Iranian sailors, two Cuban doctors, two Kenyans and a German nurse working who worked for the International Red Cross still being held in al-Shabab controlled areas of Somalia.

Silvia was abducted in November 2018 while working in Kenya where she was working for Africa Milele in southeastern Kenya.   She converted to Islam midway through her captivity.  She was quoted as saying her conversion was not forced on her and that she was treated with respect by her captors. Her release came about as the result of a joint operation between Italian, Turkish and Somalia intelligence and negotiations.

This should be a happy ending for the young woman, but the Italian government has been criticized for funding terrorists for paying ransom for her – some say to her “friends.”

Just a thought, but maybe if we want people to be free to choose their own faith we should extend that freedom to others?  This 23 year old worked for a humanitarian organization helping children.  Maybe during her captivity she came to believe and hadn’t before.

Is she suffering from Stockholm syndrome as some allege she is?  No doubt she had a difficult 18 months.  What we should take away from her story is asking ourselves if we are prepared to spend months or even years as captives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

statistics…

Studies from both France and China have shown that about half as many smokers get COVID-19 as non-smokers.  About 25.4 percent of the French smoke, but only 8.5 percent of 11,000 patients admitted to hospitals in Paris were smokers. A study being published on data out of China shows a similar trend. In China, about 28 percent of the population smokes, but only 12.6 percent of a thousand COVID-19 patients were smokers.

A renowned French neurobiologist believes there may be something in nicotine that protects people against the virus.   This is NOT a reason to take up smoking however, as it is a habit that kills about half daily smokers.  But it certainly might be a reason to up your intake of plant in the nightshade family which all contain lower quantities of nicotine than tobacco – including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, cauliflower (which is not in the nightshade family) and green peppers.  Apparently nicotine is also found in the leaves of the coco plant, but we don’t know if any one eats that.  Do any of these plants have enough nicotine to afford protection against the corona virus?

We are a long way from having a scientific answer to that one.

Kim Jong-un

The state news agency in North Korea says leader Kim Jong-un made a public appearance at the opening of a fertilizer plant north of the capital.

Somehow, that seems appropriate.  Apparently he was suffering from gout.

A theology of illness

Sheikh Hassaan Hussein Adam based in a Nairobi neighborhood known as little Mogadishu for its Somali population asked the Kenyan government for the means to check the temperature of visitors to the mosque rather than shutting it down. Another cleric with ties to al-Shabab, Sheikh Nuur Macalin Abdirahman, blames the virus on rampant evil in the world. He characterized the virus’s origin in China as divine punishment for that nation’s treatment of the Uighur Muslims. A leading cleric in Somalia, Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Khala, said the corona virus was a punishment from Allah on infidels for their evil.

Al-Shabab controlled territory in Somalia is not heeding WHO recommendations and public health warnings from the Somali government. It hasn’t shut down mosques or schools in the territory it controls.

Will this lead to a public health disaster in al-Shabab controlled territory in Somalia?  The median age among the population of Somalia is only 16.7 years and overall life expectancy is 50 from males and 54 for females.  Only about six percent of the population is over 55 years of age, just two percent is 65 years of age and maybe half of the live in al-Shaba controlled territory.

People under 65 have a very low risk of dying from COVID-19 based on data from 14 countries according to the pre-print of a soon to be published scientific article.  Odds are there will be very few COVID-19 deaths in al-Shabab controlled territory in Somalia because there are so few people in the vulnerable age group. It seems likely that the average Somali who observes the probable outcome is going to have reason to believe the clerics rather than the public health authorities.

Does this mean the corona virus is a judgment sent from God because of human sin?  Or even specifically a judgment on China because of its treatment of the Uighurs?  China’s corona virus expert Shi says the novel 2019 virus is nature punishing the human race for keeping uncivilized living habits.

One thing is for certain, we live in such a secular age in Western Civilization that we lack any coherent theology of illness.  A good place to begin might be with what Jesus had to say in Luke 13:1-5.  Galileans killed by Roman soldiers under Pilate and men who died when a tower collapsed were not worse sinners than others, according to Jesus.  Note these are two sources of death – death at the hands of other humans and death from inanimate objects.  Jesus point is that all need to repent.