Feeling a Little Neanderthal Today?

neanderthal_genes_t470There was an article yesterday in the Chicago Tribune about the latest theory that some of our human ancestors (Europeans and East Asians) mated with Neanderthals. Such trysts gave our forebears important evolutionary advantages, but may have created a lot of sterile males that wiped out through natural selection much of the primitive DNA heritage owed to these cavemen.

The comparison of the genomes from Neanderthal remains and modern humans, published online Wednesday in the journals Nature and Science, identified specific sequences of altered DNA that were shared. Even though much of the borrowed DNA code that helped humans adapt was eliminated, the strongest remnant of our Neanderthal heritage appears to be centered around as-yet unknown changes in skin and hair that likely proved advantageous (also some unhelpful things like diabetes). “The group of genes that stand out are genes that code for things in the skin, particularly keratin, which is a structural component of skin, and another group of genes that are keratins in the hair also pops up,” said geneticist Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, one of the authors of the research.

So I guess you can conclude that if you have zits or are having a bad hair day, just blame it on the Neanderthal in you. Am I making fun of this? Yes. The Bible does not use the term “caveman” or “Neanderthal,” and according to the scripture there is no such thing as “prehistoric” man because the book of Genesis records events which precede the creation of man. “With that said, the Bible does describe a period of traumatic upheaval upon the earth—the flood (Genesis 6-9), during which time civilization was utterly destroyed except for eight people. Humanity was forced to start over. It is in this historical context that some scholars believe men lived in caves and made use of stone tools. These men were not primitive; they were simply destitute. And they certainly were not half ape. The fossil evidence seems to indicate that cavemen were human—men who lived in caves.” (S. Michael Houdmann read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/cavemen.html#ixzz2rwRz2QFn)

Back to the article on Neanderthals; it is one thing to suggest mating, but this “scientific” study claims that the reason why an estimated 1 to 3 per cent of the human genome comes from Neanderthals was because members of the two species may have mated perhaps 300 times about 50,000 years ago! How in the world did they come up with this? Did they have security cameras in the caves back then? Oh, and because the genetic signature is slightly larger among East Asians it was suggested that a “second wave” of mating took place among them; what population geneticist Joshua Akey called “a two-night stand theory.”

To be fair, there is not a lot of agreement about Neanderthals among evolutionists, but these bizarre theories exist because no one wants to admit that God created humankind as a separate and fully developed species. There may have been variations in the size and form, skulls and brains, customs and habits, tools and culture as the years went by, but they were all humans capable of spiritual awareness and worship, communication, society, and development (Genesis 2:19-4:12). Most evolutionary scientists consider the Genesis account a myth and yet they do not even blink at the myth-like theories to which they resort to prove the existence of prehistoric man. “They find a misshapen tooth in a cave and from that create a misshapen human being who lived in a cave, hunched over like an ape. There is no way that science can prove the existence of cavemen by a fossil. Evolutionary scientists simply have a theory, and then they force the evidence to fit the theory.” (Houdmann)

So if you are having a bad hair day, don’t blame it on the Neanderthal in you. Instead, use it as an opportunity to say with the Psalmist “My flesh and heart (and my hair) may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).

The Day I Was Disinherited…

I love new yorkThis past Friday, while I was less than 100 miles away (in New Hampshire) from where I grew up in Schenectady, New York, I was disinherited. That’s right. Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of my birth State said this: “You have a schism within the Republican Party. … They’re searching to define their soul, that’s what’s going on. Is the Republican party in this state a moderate party or is it an extreme conservative party? That’s what they’re trying to figure out. It’s a mirror of what’s going on in Washington… Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

So while I was visiting my grandchildren I was disinherited and branded an extremist because I am a Christian who is Pro-life and Pro-heterosexual marriage. Thanks gov for being such a tolerant guy and for being such a good Catholic, like your dad. At one time Catholics and Prots saw eye to eye on most social issues, but no more. I loved what Kathryn Jean Lopez wrote about this in a National Review article. “Who is the worst enemy of religious freedom? The enemy is within. Andrew Cuomo is a professed Catholic proclaiming the Gospel of secularism. Just as many a professed Catholic whose names are on the case names of all the lawsuits against the Department of Health and Human Services abortion drug, contraception, sterilization mandate. Secularism is not just a religion for atheist and agnostics, but every practical atheist – every religious believer who doesn’t live any differently than the culture prescribes. Any Christian who isn’t constantly challenged by the mandates of the Gospel and the precepts of his faith contributes to the tsunami of secularism. Too many of us all too often fall into this category, some as a matter of fallen nature and bad habits, others as a matter of lukewarm faith and utter indifference. Make no mistake: We make it easier for politicians to push religious faith to the margins.”

As we celebrated right to life Sunday nearly a week ago, let us realize that this is more than just a political battle. These issues are at the very soul of our faith and if we become cafeteria Christians, like Cuomo, then people like Cuomo will continue to marginalize believers by calling them extremists and lumping us altogether with those who believe in Sharia Law.

By the way, Cuomo’s reckless dismissal of what he considers an “extreme” minority is not accurate picture of even in his own state when it comes to abortion. Michelle Mankin writes that in “a recent poll of New Yorkers showed that the vast majority ‘support sensible restrictions on abortions, with 80 percent opposing unlimited abortion through the ninth month of pregnancy and 75 percent opposing changes in current law so that someone other than a doctor can perform an abortion.’ Contrary to Cuomo’s distorted view, the 21st-century pro-life movement is a diverse convergence of increasingly young and minority activists, feminist pro-lifers, independents and social conservatives. And contrary to Cuomo’s reckless telling of history, pro-life activism is ingrained in New York history.” Even Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other women suffragists who met at Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1840 were clear in their stand for life. Cady Stanton condemned the “murder of children, either before or after birth.” Alice Paul, who crusaded for the Equal Rights Amendment, called abortion “the ultimate exploitation of women.”

So in a way, the governor’s words challenged me to continue to live out my faith according to the mandates of the Gospel. His rant also warned me of the dangers of a lukewarm faith which can cause me to be so easily sucked into the vortex of my culture that I become less like Jesus and more like Andrew Cuomo.

The Day the Vortex Wobbled…

polar vortexEarly this week, the Chicago area experienced abnormally cold weather that had a significant impact on the schedules, schools, and safety of millions. We learned that the villain was something most of us had never heard of before, the Polar Vortex (or the Arctic Oscillation). “It is a circulation of strong winds that normally surround the northern pole in a counterclockwise direction; a polar low-pressure system. These winds are of sufficient velocity to keep the bitter cold air locked and loaded over the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere.” On occasion, this vortex can slow down and become distorted and dip much farther south than you would normally find it, which is exactly what happened this week. I like how one meteorologist pictured it when he said that the polar vortex “wobbled.” He explained that usually it spins around the North Pole region like a top; and just like a top that begins to slow down wobbles, so the vortex wobbled.

I know that most people do not think like this, but it got me thinking about my life. What kind of negative impact do I have when I wobble? I am not describing my physical walk (hopefully I am not wobbling yet), but my spiritual walk. I think of when Aaron wobbled and made a golden calf which led Israel into idolatry; when Moses wobbled and struck the rock for water instead of speaking to it as God commanded and was kept from entering the Promised Land; when David wobbled that night on his rooftop when he saw Bathsheba taking a bath and which led to adultery and murder, or when he wobbled and took the census and caused a plague of punishment to fall on Israel; when Joash wobbled into unfaithfulness at the death of his trusted counselor Jehoiada and then killed the prophet sent to warn him of his disobedience; when Gehazi wobbled and took the reward from Naaman that Elisha refused, and then lied about it and became a leper.

I could keep on with this litany of wobbles, but I need to make application to myself. I know when the velocity of my love for God slows down and I become distracted by things other than God’s Word and my desire to apply it to my life— it is then I begin to wobble. My love grows cold and I have the potential of being a negative impact on others. I know when that happens and can feel it in my soul. It is at that precise point I need to do something and not let the wobble continue. The most important thing I can do is to preach the gospel to myself. It drives me to repentance (not penance) and to the gracious sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins. Do not misunderstand— I am not saying that I become a Christian all over again. What I am saying is that for the wobbling Christian, repentance and belief in the gospel is in the present tense. The same gospel that saves us is the same gospel that sanctifies us. The repentant heart is the sign of new life and the blood of Jesus Christ “cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

So are you wobbling? Do something about it lest you become a hazard to yourself and others around you. Repent and believe the gospel!

Puns for the New Year

Every once in awhile I get into this mood where I feel like throwing some humor into my blog. So here are some puns that I saved up from 2013. Happy New Year!

Did you hear about the butcher who accidentally backed into the meat grinder? He got a little behind in his work. Did you hear about the dentist who married a manicurist? They fight tooth and nail! Did you hear about the dyslexic Satanist? He sold his soul to Santa. Did you hear about the guy that lost his left arm and leg in a car crash? He’s all right now. Have you seen Quasimodo? I have a hunch he’s back! How do snakes end a fight? They hiss and make up.

What’s the difference between boogers and broccoli? Kids won’t eat broccoli. What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don’t know and I don’t care. Where do you get virgin wool from? Ugly sheep. Where does a one-armed man shop? At a second hand store. Why can’t a woman ask her brother for help? Because he can’t be a brother and assist her too. What goes “Tick tock, woof woof”? A watch dog. What is Beethoven doing in his coffin right now? Decomposing. What’s happening when you hear “woof…splat…meow…splat?” It’s raining cats and dogs. What do frogs eat with their hamburgers? French flies. What do polo players get from spending all afternoon in the saddle? Poloroids.

What do you call a frightened scuba diver? Chicken of the sea. What do you call a monster with no neck? The Lost Neck Monster. What do you get when you cross a duck with a computer? A quackintosh. What do you get when you cross a pig and a centipede? Bacon and legs. How did Michael Jackson pick his nose? From a catalog. What did God say when Joan of Arc showed up at the Pearly Gates? “Well done.” (You have to know your history for that one.)

What did one cloned sheep say to the other? “I am ewe.” What did one ocean say to the other ocean? Nothing, they just waved. What did one potato chip say to the other? Shall we go for a dip? What did the painter say to the wall? “One more crack and I’ll plaster you!” Our library has so many books they had to put it in a multi-story building. A vampire walks into a bar, and asks for a “Large glass of A-positive blood.” The bartender looks him square in the eyes, and says “I’m sorry, but we don’t serve your type here!” Did you hear about the guy who gave narcotics to seagulls? He left no tern unstoned.

How do you know you are getting Old? When you and your teeth no longer sleep together. When you wake up looking like your driver’s license picture. When it takes twice as long to look half as good. When the twinkle in your eye is merely the sun’s reflection on your bi-focals. When “Happy Hour” is a nap. When you sit in your rocking chair and you can’t get it going.

Finally, a Sunday school story: Noticing that one of her students was making faces at another child across the table, Ms. Smith gently reproved the child by saying: “Johnny, when I was a child, I was told that if I made ugly faces, my face might freeze and stay that way.” Johnny looked up and replied, “Well, Ms. Smith, you can’t say you weren’t warned.”
***************
Word Press sent me this yearly assessment of my little blog. I thought it might be of interest to some of you. What really surprised me is the number of countries in which “Just a Thought” is being read:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.