Insight on the News
Clergymen and AIDS
“AIDS Cases Rising Among Catholic Clergy” read the title of an article appearing in the International Herald Tribune. The report stated: “While it is impossible to document the scope of the problem, physicians, churchmen and social workers in several cities around the country said the number of Catholic clergymen affected by AIDS was on the rise, . . . The increasing awareness that [AIDS] victims include Catholic clergymen has posed a problem for the church because of the implication that some priests and brothers have not only broken their vows of celibacy but have also engaged in homosexual acts in violation of church laws.”
Breaking vows of celibacy cannot, however, alone be blamed, for even churches whose ministers are allowed to marry have registered cases of AIDS among their clergy. The same report revealed that “AIDS has affected a broad range of Americans, including rabbis, Episcopal priests, Baptist ministers and other clergymen.”
Of course, not all clergymen with AIDS are necessarily homosexuals. AIDS can also be contracted through normal sexual intercourse and by means of blood transfusions. Nevertheless, such cases among the clergy do illustrate what can happen when individuals fail to follow the clear ruling set down by the first-century council in Jerusalem, namely, “to abstain . . . from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from illicit sexual union.”—Acts 15:29, The New American Bible (Catholic).
“Love yourself; you are God.” A strange message, you say? Indeed, but among a growing number of persons searching for an alternative to traditional religion, the message is becoming a popular one. Those words, uttered by 27-year-old California housewife Penny Torres, are said to be spoken actually by Mafu, “a highly evolved ‘entity from the seventh dimension’ last incarnated as a leper in 1st Century Pompeii,” for whom Torres serves as a “channel,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Torres is one of a number of persons in the United States who “channel” for “dead spirits” that teach that everyone is his or her own God.
“Channels,” according to the Times, are “mediums who purposefully enter a semi-conscious or unconscious trance state to communicate with the unseen ‘spirit realm’” or “extraterrestrials.” In this state, they may be called upon to offer counsel or provide answers to questions on personal matters. It is estimated that in Los Angeles alone there are as many as 1,000 persons who claim to be channels. Why the sudden interest in channels? In The Miami Herald, Ronald F. Thiemann, dean of Harvard Divinity School, says that “theology has become increasingly marginal in American intellectual life.”
Centuries earlier, Moses warned Israel: “There should not be found in you anyone . . . who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead.” The reason? “Everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah.”—Deuteronomy 18:10-12.
Groping in the Dark
Members of ISSOL (International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life) met last year in Berkeley, California, for their eighth conference. After acknowledging the need for a “self-critical stocktaking of achievements to date,” ISSOL cofounder Professor Klaus Dose stated in Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau, a German scientific magazine, that years of research have brought evolutionists no closer to understanding the origin of life.
Professor Dose writes: “Probably no discipline of natural science distinguishes itself by such a variety of contradictory ideas, hypotheses, and theories as does the whole field of the evolution of life. In 1986, more than 30 years after the initially promising start to the era of simulation experiments, we can hardly point to any more facts in explanation of the actual mechanism of the origin of life than Ernst Haeckel did 120 years ago. Unfortunately, it must be recognized that the products resulting from simulation experiments are, largely speaking, no closer to life than are the substances that make up coal tar.” Similarly, New York University professor Irving Kristol wrote that “the gradual transformation of the population of one species into another is a biological hypothesis, not a biological fact.”
While evolutionists continue to grope for answers, the Bible’s explanation fits all known facts. As the Bible writer David recorded with conviction: “For with you [God] is the source of life.”—Psalm 36:9.