A Discussion about the Bible, Drugs, Cannabis, and Creationby Jerry Bergman, PhDWith the recent legalization of the recreational use of the mind-altering drug cannabis in many states, and the legalization of its medical use in most states, questions arise about the drug from a creation-worldview standpoint. The main psychoactive component of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). One major question is, why did God create drugs that are poisonous or that can cause harm? Poisonous substances include anything that can physically harm us if we inhale, swallow or touch it. They range from bee stings to cyanide poisoning.Original Creation v Corrupted NatureCreationists consider questions that arise related to God’s purpose of plants that can be used for evil. Some propose certain plants became problematic due to the Fall, or have become more dangerous since they were first created due to mutations. In light of these questions, how should Bible believers approach the political issues related to marijuana’s use today? The Scriptures declared all creation, including plants, to have been good initially. Genesis 1 is clear: “God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.’” Scriptures that caution ingesting certain plants are Galatians 5:20, Revelation 9:21, 18:23, 21:8, and 22:15.A State of MindThe Greek word used in these scriptures is “pharmakia” (Greek: φαρμακεία) which literally means “drugs,” and is the source of the English word “pharmacy.” Pharmakia is translated in our English Bible as either “witchcraft” or “sorcery” because of the strong connection of mind-altering-drugs to “witchcraft,” “sorcery,” and the casting of spells. In short, the condemnation of witchcraft is linked with mind-altering drugs such as cannabis. Thus, the concern is the abuse of mind-altering drugs that put the user in a wrong state of mind. Christians are enjoined to keep a clear, active mind: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” Paul said, “that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). To love God with all our mind, we must be in our right mind, exercising judgment, discernment, and self-control.Dosage and Individual DifferencesA major point is this: any chemical, both plant-derived and otherwise, can be abused. A second point is, “the dose level is the poison.” This means most every known chemical is not poisonous in small doses, and all chemicals are poisonous in large enough doses. The only exception I am aware of is dimethylmercury, of which even extremely small doses (less than 0.1 mL) are poisonous. The conclusion that all chemicals are poisonous in large doses even includes water, which is lethal in large doses. Danger ensues if the amount of water is so high that it becomes difficult for the kidneys to process it rapidly enough. The result is too much body water, thus causing the mineral levels to become too dilute, especially when dangerously low levels of sodium result, producing hyponatremia. No more than four liters in 4 hours is a rough guideline to avoid harm, but the danger level depends on the climate and the person, their sex, weight, age, and health status.* The same thing is true of cannabis. At a low enough level, it can do no harm.*For fun, read the classic DHMO Parody.My medical school toxicology class taught by a creationist, Dr. Robert Forney, made this clear. Nothing is toxic in small enough amounts, including dimethylmercury, and everything is toxic in large enough amounts.* How toxic a chemical is depends on how easily it is absorbed and metabolized, and how rapidly it is expelled by the body. Furthermore, not everyone is equally affected by a specific toxic substance. Some animal species are more susceptible to various poisons, others far less susceptible. One classic example is that it requires 1,000 times more dioxin to kill a hamster than a guinea pig. The high level of guinea pigs’ sensitivity makes them ideal for certain kinds of toxicity research.*Some hormetic substances are actually beneficial in small amounts, but reverse and become toxic as dosage increases.Dosage-Dependent HarmSome compounds, although very toxic even in small amounts, also function as miracle drugs when used properly. Botulism produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria is one of the most toxic compounds known to mankind. It is also the most toxic substance produced by living organisms, bacteria in this case. A single gram (0.04 ounces) can kill 14,000 people if swallowed – or 8.3 million if injected! Botulinum works by disrupting communication between nerves and muscle cells, paralyzing its victims, and leading to respiratory failure because the victim cannot breathe. Extremely small doses of botulinum toxin can, however, be used to treat muscle spasms and excessive sweating. It can even be used to partly paralyze muscles that cause wrinkles. For this use it is sold commercially as Botox.Chemistry and ConsciousnessCannabis sativa, drawing by Koehler c. 1900With this background, let us consider cannabis use for Bible believers. If it is used to achieve a state of normality, such as to relieve pain, this could be an appropriate use (cf. Proverbs 31:4-7). When used for the purpose of achieving an abnormal out-of-mind state, however, that would be an issue. The fact that some regard the “out-of-mind state” as a desirable state raises spiritual red flags; God wants us in “our right minds.” One has to evaluate the total effect and consequence of the results of the out-of-mind state. Compare the pleasure of marijuana with some other feelings people consider pleasurable. Some people enjoy inflecting pain on others — a tendency called sadism, and others enjoy experiencing pain — a tendency called masochism. Though called “pleasurable” by some, these behaviors often cause serious health damage, even death, and thus given the Biblical rule noted above would be condemned. Aside from the psychological harm marijuana can cause, the effects of burning cannabis leaves must be considered. The smoke contains carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. A desire to care for one’s body as the temple of the Lord should militate against willfully ingesting carcinogens for “pleasure.”Given these facts, cannabis use by Bible believers needs to be evaluated critically. And Christ followers would also want to be discerning about the possible cultural effects of widespread use of substances that alter people’s perceptions, e.g., while driving or working. Enough research is now available to make some tentative judgements.From my experience working with drug users at Alexandria House in Detroit, I spent much time discussing the motivation and experience of the clients, most of whom were in this treatment center by court order for drug use. Their response to its use varied greatly. Some described marijuana smoking like breathing smelly air and having no effect. Others noted it caused them to become irrationally paranoid, and yet others to commit crimes of violence, which is what got them into the program. The scientific research supports this experience.From my hospital work experience, I learned that cannabis had some use in dealing with nausea from cancer drugs and relieving pain, but is much less effective than opiates. The peer-reviewed research in leading medical journals supports my conclusion that marijuana can cause, or worsen, severe mental illness, especially psychosis, a fact that has been known for over a decade.Long-Term EffectsOne question to ask is, “Marijuana abuse can lead to transient psychosis, but can it cause or worsen psychotic disorders like schizophrenia?” The evidence from key research reports is “that marijuana use, especially in early adolescence, can lead to psychotic disorders in adulthood, such as schizophrenia.” The latest study in a special section of Nature about cannabis supported this conclusion, finding psychosis was three times greater in those who used cannabis daily compared to people who never used the drug. The researchers extrapolated this finding, concluding “where highly potent cannabis was most available, the researchers calculated that … eliminating its use would reduce psychosis rates in London by 30% and in Amsterdam by 50%.Difficulty of Establishing CertaintyAs a whole, cannabis has the potential for causing severe psychoses, supporting its classification as a mind-altering drug that Scripture warns about. Because marijuana was illegal in the USA till recently, studies were few. More research on potential medical applications is warranted; one most recent review of the evidence was lambasted because firm scientific studies were too few and problematic. Consider that it took over two centuries to finally prove beyond any doubt that smoking tobacco causes lethal diseases including cancer and heart disease. It may also take years to establish the same ‘beyond-a-doubt’ level of proof for cannabis. But enough evidence now exists to decide that the safest course by far is to avoid the drug at all costs, unless some clear medical use is warranted. In the Nature special issue, Clement and her colleagues analyzed the findings of 68 reviews of cannabis research, and fully 62 foundassociations between the drug and various adverse outcomes, including impaired driving, increased risk of stroke and testicular cancer, brain changes that could affect learning and memory, and a particularly consistent link between cannabis use and mental illnesses involving psychosis. Risks were highest for teenagers, pregnant women and people already at risk of mental illness.Some GuidelinesThe few beneficial uses that exist for Cannabis, apart from the intoxicating effects that make it controversial, are very limited and vary according to individual factors. I am convinced from my own experience, and my review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature, that long-term use of marijuana—no matter how ingested—will eventually cause enormous problems in society. I may well in the future sadly say, “I told you so,” as have the many scientific studies of the use of marijuana. I learned from my work experience that Cannabis is highly addictive and many occasional users do, in fact, become addicted.In conclusion, while cannabis is not “evil,” and is “just a plant” that manifests (as all of creation) clear evidence of very good design, one cannot justify smoking or eating it on that basis. Cactus is very good, but we don’t hug it. Poison oak is just a plant, but we don’t smear its leaves on our skin. Many garden plants like castor bean and poinsettia are nice to look at, but deadly in the body. Cannabis can help a few medical conditions, like certain types of epilepsy, but it is not a cure-all. And as Nature reported, it can have horrible side effects.  Although the use of marijuana, like cigarettes or alcohol, when not illegal, falls within individual conscience, is it worth the risks, when there are thousands of other good plants without such dangers that can satisfy us with pleasure and health? Paul’s advice to the Corinthians is relevant here: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (I Corinthians 6:12).References Genesis 1:29. New American Standard Bible (NASB), 1977. Dimethylmercury is one of the strongest known neurotoxins. A quantity less than 0.1 mL is capable of inducing severe mercury poisoning. It is also easily absorbed through the skin, which creates problems in working with it. See https://www.osha.gov/dts/hib/hib_data/hib19980309.html Zajtchuk, R. 1997. Textbook of Military Medicine. Office of The Surgeon General at TMM Publications, Borden Institute, Washington, D.C.: Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 20307-5001. Middlebrook, John L. 1986. Cellular Mechanism of Action of Botulinum Neurotoxin. Journal of Toxicology, 5(2):177-190. Raby, Wilfrid Noël. 2013. Comorbid Cannabis Misuse in Psychotic Disorders: Treatment Strategies. Primary Psychiatry, 6(4):29-34, May. Raby, 2013, p. 29. di Forti, Marta et al., 2019. Potent pot linked to Psychosis. Lancet Psychiatry. 6, 427–436. Drew, Liam. 2019. Cannabis research round-up. Highlights from laboratory studies and clinical trials. Nature. 572(s21). August, 29. Berenson, Alex. 2019. Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence. New York, NY: Free Press. Gogek, Ed. 2015. Marijuana Debunked: A handbook for parents, pundits and politicians who want to know the case against legalization. New York, NY: innerQuest. This book was written by a medical doctor with extensive experience in treating persons addicted to drugs, and this book is much better documented to the scientific literature than Berenson’s book. Sohn, Emily. 2019. Weighing the dangers of cannabis. As interest builds in the potential health benefits from the plant, accumulating evidence confirms that taking the drug also carries risks. Nature, 572, S16-S18 August, 28.Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology at several colleges and universities including for over 40 years at Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored, are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.(Visited 1,021 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Sonjica said about 200 special prosecutors had been trained, added that she expected these courts to operate similarly to Labour Courts, in that they would only operate at particular times. Sonjica said the government would also be encouraging reuse of water, which the town of George was already implementing. The seven new projects include the Mokolo augmentation project to supply water to the planned Medupi Power station in Lephalele in Limpopo province, and the Mooi-Mgeni Transfer Scheme project, which would include the construction of the Spring Grove dam around eThekwini/Durban and Umgungundlovu in KwaZulu-Natal. 14 April 2010 Sonjica said that with impending climate change, the country also had to consider other means of securing its water supply. Ruiters said water had been stolen at Mokolo, Berg and Olifants catchment areas, and that 250-million cubic metres of water had been illegally obtained over one year from Vaal. She said the department was busy drafting a policy on desalination, but that the drought along the Western Cape Garden Route had stalled the plan. Source: BuaNews In addition, four special “water courts” would be set up across the country and would run as pilot projects from May in a bid to crack down on those that committed water abuses. The department was using the rehabilitated a unit on the West Coast which had been in use for over 20 years, and was also putting to use a unit in Sedgefield near Knysna in the Western Cape. Nelson Mandela Municipality/Port Elizabeth was also interested in using desalination technology. “The problem is that water has been looked at as an after-affect when we plan for development, and we are trying to change that,” said Sonjica, adding that her department was considering desalination of sea water as a possible option. Desalination, refuse water usage Commenting on illegal water use, the department’s deputy director-general, Cornelius Ruiters, said a full-time unit had been dedicated to compliance and monitoring, and the department was engaging with the Department of Agriculture to combat illegal water use. Pilot water courts Sonjica added that the government had no plans to raise the price of water, while pointing out that South Africa was among a few countries in the world where the tap water was safe to drink. South Africa is shoring up the security of its water supply by ensuring the completion of seven major new water projects around the country by 2014, Water Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said at a pre-budget briefing in Cape Town this week.
After violence against foreigners, many of them from elsewhere in Africa, erupted in communities across the country over the past week, the government, civil society and ordinary citizens have condemned the attacks, sought ways to alleviate the suffering, and looked for ways to end the conflict. Watch: Is South Africa’s brand equity in question after xenophobic attacks?The wave of xenophobic attacks has brought into question South Africa’s brand equity. Brand South Africa’s acting chief executive officer Alice Puoane joins CNBC Africa senior anchor David Williams to discuss the issue. Peace restored in communities after xenophobic attacks29 April 2015 – Peace has returned to South African communities riven by the recent xenophobic violence, and the supply of food, shelter and other support for foreigners forced to flee their homes has been stepped up, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe told a press briefing on Tuesday. MORE > Watch: Media briefing on xenophobia28 April 2015 – “We want to reassure those who have plans to travel to South Africa that our government is in charge. The violence has stopped,” Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe told the media at the first briefing by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on migration. MORE > Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration media briefing statement28 April 2015 – President Jacob Zuma has appointed an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration to strengthen and broaden the scope of the work started by Ministers Mahlobo, Gigaba and Nhleko. In the coming weeks and months the IMC will work with all the affected parties so as to seek a lasting solution to the issues raised by communities and foreign nationals. MORE > Our African bonds defy borders28 April 2015 – The South Africa where foreigners fear for their lives is not the South Africa envisioned by Nelson Mandela and the Freedom Charter, writes Thebe Ikalafeng. MORE > Media statement: South African government responds to the decision by the Nigerian government26 April 2015 – The South African Government takes note that the outgoing Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has recalled its Acting High Commissioner to South Africa. A government resorts to such an extraordinary diplomatic step to express outrage at actions or behaviour of another government. MORE > Booklet: Stop attacks on foreign nationals24 April 2015 – The South African government appeals for peace and tolerance following the recent violence against foreign nationals. In addition to the human cost, the attacks damage the country’s reputation and development, and ignore migrants’ contribution to our society, as a new booklet explains. Read and download the booklet here. MORE > Watch: We Are the World Africa sings out against xenophobia23 April 2015 – Organisers of the MTN Radio Awards have called on radio stations across the continent to stand in solidarity against the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa by broadcasting the new Africa Against Ebola and Xenophobia rendition of “We Are the World”. MORE > Zuma meets stakeholders to discuss migration and attacks on foreign nationals23 April 2015 – On Tuesday 22 April South African President Jacob Zuma met representatives from different sectors of society to discuss the country’s migration policy and explore ways to promote orderly migration and good relations between South Africans and other nationals. MORE > Buti Manamela addresses National Union of Mineworkers Youth Council23 April 2015 – “These images of violence and criminality directed at foreign nationals have been splattered over the front pages of our newspapers and our television screens. They have tugged at our hearts and sometimes brought tears to our eyes.” MORE > Social support to continue as foreign nationals are reintegrated into communities23 April 2015 – Foreign nationals who have been accommodated at a temporary settlement next to the Primrose Police Station in Germiston, East Rand, after they fled fearing attacks, will continue receiving social support services from social workers as they are reintegrated into their communities in Makawusi and Marathon informal settlements. MORE > High-level ministerial committee to tackle migration issues22 April 2015 – On Tuesday 21 April South African President Jacob Zuma convened the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration, instructing members on what they need to do to promote orderly and efficient migration as well as peaceful coexistence between citizens and non-South Africans. MORE > Watch: South Africans must support the government in fighting xenophobia – Sexwale South Africa to host anti-xenophobia football friendlies21 April 2015 – The South African Football Association and the Premier Soccer League are organising two international friendly matches against neighbouring countries to create unity in the wake of attacks on foreign nationals. MORE > Watch: AU chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma pleads for calm Pandor takes a stand against xenophobia21 April 2015 – Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor has expressed her dismay at the recent xenophobic attacks and said that some of South Africa’s scientific achievements may not have been possible without eminent African scientists working in our universities and science councils. MORE > Attacks on foreign nationals20 April 2015 – The South African government condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent outbreak of violent attacks in parts of the country against foreign nationals, particularly fellow Africans from other African countries. This the government’s response so far. MORE > President Zuma to build partnerships for peaceful migration20 April 2015 – President Jacob Zuma is to hold consultative meetings with stakeholders to discuss South Africa’s migration policy and how different sectors of society can work with the government to promote orderly migration and good relations between citizens and foreign nationals. MORE > Watch: Newsroom discusses business and xenophobia South Africa acts against xenophobia20 April 2015 – The South African government is taking steps to bring the latest outbreak of attacks against foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng under control. President Jacob Zuma cancelled a trip to Indonesia and visited refugee camps in Durban on Saturday. MORE > Maponya: We must collectively say no to xenophobia20 April 2015 – Brand South Africa’s chairperson, Chichi Maponya, says our African neighbours helped us during apartheid and says it is time for South Africa to play her part for the continent. MORE > Department of Energy condemns attacks on foreign nationals20 April 2015 – The Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson and her deputy, Thembisile Majola, join President Jacob Zuma in strongly condemning the current attacks on non-South Africans in parts of our country. MORE > Sport is fighting against xenophobia20 April 2015 – Minister of Sport and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, has lauded the sports bodies taking a stance against the xenophobic attacks and says that sport, yet again, is playing a role in uniting people in our country. MORE > Displaced foreigners successfully reintegrated into KwaZulu-Natal communities18 April 2015 – The KwaZulu-Natal government and eThekwini Metro are satisfied that great progress is being made in reintegrating displaced foreign nationals in a number of areas affected in greater Durban and greater Pietermaritzburg. MORE > Statement from Brand South Africa on the current developments in South Africa17 April 2015 – Brand South Africa joins the rest of the country in condemning the acts of violence that have been levelled against some foreign national residing in some of the nine provinces of South Africa. MORE > Thousands march for peace in Durban17 April 2015 – South Africans took to Durban’s streets on Thursday to call for calm and an end to the attacks on foreign nationals, which have claimed five lives and displaced hundreds of others in KwaZulu-Natal over the past two weeks. #WeAreAfrica #StopXenophobia MORE > Watch: President Zuma condemns the spate of xenophobic attacks Zuma: Xenophobic attacks defy South African values16 April 2015 – President Jacob Zuma expressed his condemnation of the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in KwaZulu-Natal when he addressed the National Assembly on Thursday, 16 April. MORE > Zuma condemns xenophobic attacks15 April 2015 – President Jacob Zuma condemned the attacks on foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg in an interview with the SABC, South Africa’s public broadcaster, on Wednesday night. MORE > Watch: Foreign nationals anticipate more attacks African Union statement on xenophobic attacks in South Africa15 April 2015 – Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, has described the attacks of foreign nationals in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal as “unacceptable,” calling for their immediate halt while again expressing her deep concern about the violence. MORE >
The easiest energy savings come from little changes in our behavior that don’t cause any hardship—or even result in ancillary benefits. Such is the case with reducing the amount of time spent idling a car engine when stopped. Turning off the ignition at the drive-up window or when pulled over to take a cell phone call not only saves energy (burning less gasoline), but also pollutes less—a big benefit for the teller at the drive-up bank window. You might even improve your car’s operation.Average drivers in America idle five to ten minutes per day—sitting at traffic lights, warming up the car in the morning, waiting at the drive-up McDonalds, or picking up the kids at the bus stop. This is “voluntary idling”—as opposed to the idling that occurs in traffic congestion. Idling ten minutes per day wastes about 30 gallons of gas per year. Collectively, Americans consume about 3.8 million gallons of gasoline per day from voluntary idling.Idling vehicles are heavy polluters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that an average car emits 20 times more air pollution when idling than it does when being driven at 32 miles per hour. Idling a medium-sized car just five minutes each day will crank out about 30 pounds of harmful pollutants in a year plus 300 pounds of carbon dioxide.Some of these compounds are pretty potent. EPA estimates that air toxins emitted by vehicles cause half of all cancers attributed to outdoor sources of air pollutants in the U.S. Idling diesel vehicles are particularly problematic due to the very small particulates and some 40 chemicals emitted from the exhaust that are classified as “hazardous air pollutants” under the Clean Air Act. Because children are particularly vulnerable to hazardous chemicals, idling of school busses has been targeted by health activists in communities throughout the country, including locally.There are a number of myths about idling:Myth 1: Cars should idle for several minutes before being driven. Unless you have an old car with a carbureted engine, this myth is wrong except in extremely cold weather. Modern engines need no more than 30 seconds of operation to circulate engine oil before being safely driven (though it’s best to avoid hard acceleration until the car is fully warmed up).Myth 2: Each time you turn off and then restart a car you waste more energy than if you leave it idling. Studies show that the actual “break-even” point for turning off a car is between six and ten seconds. In other words, if you’re going to be stopped for more than ten seconds, it makes sense to turn off the ignition.Myth 3: Repeatedly restarting a car is hard on the engine and quickly drains the battery. There is slight wear on the starter motor and some battery discharge that occurs, but this is minor. The savings from burning less gasoline pay back that added maintenance cost many-fold over the course of a year. In fact, idling a car forces the engine to operate in an inefficient, gasoline-rich mode that can reduce performance and degrade mileage.* * *At least 17 states currently have some form of statewide restrictions on idling, including all New England states…except Vermont—plus some states not known for environmental leadership, such as Nevada, South Carolina, and Utah. This is pretty embarrassing for a state often considered the greenest in the country!In addition to these statewide laws, many municipalities have their own rules—some of which are significantly stricter than relevant state regulations. Locally, Putney has adopted an anti-idling ordinance.These state and municipal regulations vary dramatically—as does enforcement. New York City, for example, has one of the strictest no-idling regulations in the country (limiting idling to three minutes with various exceptions and with increasingly heavy fines for first, second, and third offenses)—yet one certainly sees a lot of trucks idling in the Big Apple.New technologies can also help reduce unnecessary idling. Hybrid cars have a feature that automatically turns the engine off when stopped (though that function only works in our Honda when the fan is turned off). We could make it easier for non-hybrid drivers to know when to turn the ignition off by installing traffic lights that count down the number of seconds remaining for the red light—thus helping drivers figure out whether to turn off the ignition while waiting.