Retiring Early – Good Idea or Not

Retiring Early – Good Idea or Not
Some people dream of retiring early and spending the rest of their lives in pleasure-filled relaxation. That may not be a good idea.

Relaxing for a few days is a good thing, but studies show that when we stop doing anything constructive and challenging, both our mental and physical health decline. The Washington Post reported that studies “have shown a strong correlation between early retirement age and diminished cognitive function.”

Not only can too much leisure be bad for our physical and mental health, it even has an adverse effect on our happiness. Humans were designed to be productive and creative. Without physical stimulation, our bones and muscles become weak. Without mental stimulation, our brains lose their sharpness. The saying, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” contains a lot of truth.

All this doesn’t mean that we have to keep working at an occupation for our entire lives. Retiring early can open the door to new opportunities of service. For those who retire from a paying job, volunteering for some service which is mentally, and even physically challenging can be rewarding in many ways. It can keep us physically stronger and more mentally alert. It can give us enjoyment and even help us to live longer. It can also be rewarding for those we are able to serve.

God created us to work. Even in the paradise of the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve work to do. (See Genesis 2:15.) If you want to live a long, healthy, and happy life, find a way to be productively stimulated while serving others. It’s what God designed us to do.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Nitrogen Mystery Answered

Nitrogen Mystery Answered
One of the great mysteries of the past 1000 years of soil studies has apparently been answered. The great nitrogen mystery is how nitrogen gets into the soil. Plants need nitrogen, and they need it in the form of nitrates and other compounds essential to plant growth.

Most of us put fertilizer on our plants to make them healthy and don’t think about the fact that while our atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, plants can’t absorb the nitrogen directly from the air. In high school, we learned about “nitrogen fixation” and were told about nitrogen-fixing bacteria and the role of lightning in transforming atmospheric nitrogen into forms that could be used by plants.

Plant scientists have known that this model was not complete. The nitrogen cycle clearly had some missing parts, and our knowledge of how nitrogen gets into the soil was obviously lacking. Scientists have now discovered that a significant portion of getting nitrogen to plants involves seeping through bedrock. Nitrogen becomes trapped in sedimentary rocks in the oceans. When tectonic activity lifts the sedimentary rocks, so they are at the surface of the Earth, they begin to release their nitrogen to the soils above them, Studies in California show that soils above sedimentary rocks contain 50% more nitrogen than soils above volcanic rocks.

This discovery is a breakthrough in soil chemistry and has strong implications for how we can accelerate plant growth. Choosing places suitable for agriculture can be made more accurate with this new understanding. The complexity of Earth’s various cycles to allow for plant growth and to provide for human needs is astounding. Even such a fundamental question as the nitrogen mystery is still revealing God’s wisdom and planning in providing a life-supporting planet for us to live.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Reference: Scientific American, July 2018, page 15-17.

Why We Have Fingerprints

Why We Have Fingerprints
Fingerprints are often associated with identification because the police use them in criminal investigations. Nobody else has your fingerprints, so finger touch-pads are sometimes used instead of passwords to access computers or to allow entrance to secure sites. Fingerprints are used for those purposes, but have you ever wondered why we have fingerprints?

Long before anyone thought of those identification uses, fingerprints served a primary purpose in our sense of touch. The raised ridges are actually friction ridges that increase the sensitivity of our fingers to touch. Each fingertip has thousands of touch receptors, and with the aid of the friction ridges, we can feel a particle many times smaller than a human hair.

Run your fingertip lightly over a surface and notice how those fingerprint ridges detect even the smallest surface imperfection, right down to a speck of dust. Look closely, and you will see that those ridges are also present on the entire surface of the palm-side of your hand, and they are on your feet as well.

What about the case of identical twins? Do they have the same fingerprints? The answer is “No.” They are similar, but not the same. Your fingerprints are the product of genetics plus environment within the womb. Fingerprints form between six and thirteen weeks after conception. Factors that influence the formation of the prints may be blood pressure, nutrition, or the position of the hand in the womb. A finger pressing against the amniotic sac, another part of the body, or the body of a twin can cause the print to form with subtle differences. If only genetics determined the fingerprint pattern, the fingers on your left and right hands would be identical. They are not, and that’s why the police will take all ten of your fingerprints.

Your fingerprints formed as you developed in the womb long before you were born, and they will remain the same for your entire life. Fingerprints show that you are unique while at the same time helping you to explore and interact with the world around you. That’s why we have fingerprints. The psalmist David wrote, “…(God), you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:13, 14).
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Mormon Racial Prejudice

Mormon Racial Prejudice
The Bible makes it clear that there is no justification for racism for those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. When men make up their own religions, there is always prejudice and division involved. The classic example has been Mormon racial prejudice in the original teachings of the Latter Day Saints Church.

The original leaders of the Mormon church denigrated black people. John Taylor who was the president of the church wrote in 1845 “The descendants of Ham, besides a black skin which has ever been a curse that has followed an apostate of the holy priesthood, as well as a black heart, have been servants to both Shem and Japeth…”

In 1852, Mormon leader Brigham Young wrote, “If there never was a prophet or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before, I tell you, this people that are commonly called negroes are the children of old Cain…I know that they cannot bear rule in the priesthood, for the curse on them was to remain upon them…”

In 1859, Brigham Young wrote, “Cain slew his brother… and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin … How long is that race (blacks) to endure the dreadful curse that is on them? That curse will remain on them …”

Modern day followers of these men have repudiated the Mormon racial prejudice statements, but it is evident that the founders of the Mormon Church were men who were driven by the prejudice of their day. The ignorance of these statements is typical of humans when they establish their own religion instead of following what Jesus taught.

The main prejudice that existed in Jesus day was the conflict between the Jews and the Samaritans. In John 4:7-9 Jesus shatters that prejudice as well as the denigration of women by talking with a Samaritan woman. John’s gospel points out the existing prejudice by commenting “For the Jews do not associate with Samaritans” (John 4:9). In Luke 10:30-37 the hero of the parable of “The Good Samaritan” is a hated Samaritan. Galatians 3:28 tells us that if we are Christ’s “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Racial prejudice is not justified by the Bible, and it is in direct opposition to the teaching of Jesus.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Quotes from Salt Lake City Messenger, Sandra Tanner, June 2018, page 3.

Marijuana Legalization – The Rest of the Story

Marijuana Legalization
The media has sold the American public on the idea that marijuana cannot hurt anyone and is not habit forming. Proponents argue that marijuana legalization in all 50 states would produce 46 billion dollars in federal sales tax revenue and more than one million jobs by 2025. Polls show that 61% of Americans believe marijuana should be legal.

We are also told that a benefit of marijuana legalization is that the government will control dosage and potency. I can remember when the Food and Drug Administration was making the same claims about the use of tobacco when I was a teenager. We all know the result of the long-term forestalling of government control of the use of tobacco. Dr. Sharon Levy who is the director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital says, “We are simply not prepared for the fallout of marijuana legalization.”

Here are the known facts about marijuana:

*The concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is roughly 40 times stronger in today’s “weed” than the “grass” of the 1970s.

*Claims that marijuana is not addictive are simply lies. One out of every six teens who smoke marijuana become addicted to it.

*Studies of teens while smoking marijuana show that there is a significant change in the brain. There is a change in the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain that affects motivation and learning.

*Studies of long-time users show long-term memory loss, a drop in IQ points equal to lead poisoning, and deterioration in the language areas.

*Studies show that teens who frequently smoked pot were less likely to hold full-time jobs as adults, less likely to get married, and less likely to finish their education.

*Since Colorado legalized the drug, marijuana-related visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers have tripled among those under 21.

Those of us who follow Jesus Christ believe that the body is the “Temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Bible tells us to take care of the body, and that certainly means not taking a recreational drug that we know damages our bodies. Alcohol, nicotine, and pot damage the temple of God, and we must stand opposed to their use.

The chemicals in marijuana that can ease pain and help those in distress are not what we are talking about in this discussion. Paul told Timothy to “use a little wine to help you to get over your frequent spells of illness” (1 Timothy 5:23). We need to use our intelligence and apply the things God has given us wisely as we consider marijuana legalization. Using any substance in a way that does damage to our body and alters our ability to think and react wisely and constructively is wrong.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data and quotes from Reader’s Digest, July 8, 2018 pages 78-82.

Life Chemical Factory on Enceladus?

Life Chemical Factory on Enceladus
The picture shows Saturn’s moon Enceladus with Saturn in the background and part of a ring visible. Scientists are talking about a life chemical factory on Enceladus. One of the interesting questions about the origin of life is the question of how the chemicals needed to produce life came into existence.

Many believers in God answer that question just saying “God created them” and leaving it at that. For many of us with interest in science, that question expands to trying to understand HOW God created those chemicals. Saying that He spoke them into existence may be theologically acceptable, but the evidence shows that God used processes that we can understand.

Enceladus is essentially a vast ocean of water surrounded by a massive layer of ice. Scientists believe that powerful hydrothermal vents mix up the material found in the moon’s porous core with the salt water that makes up its vast ocean. This material is then ejected out into space in the form of enormous plumes of water vapor and ice granules you can see in the picture taken by the Cassini spacecraft. The sight is quite spectacular, and it was into one of these plumes that NASA’s scientists were able to send Cassini to examine their composition.

What the scientists learned is that the plumes contain organic materials. These are materials that are part of the building blocks of life. Therefore, this moon seems to be a factory that builds several of the ingredients needed to produce life.

Think of how factories produce cars. Factories at different locations all over the country build the parts. The parts come together in one place where highly skilled and creative engineers assemble them into a working automobile. In the same way, we can see a possible life chemical factory on Enceladus.

The more we explore space, the more we understand why these “factories” exist and how they have been used by “the great Engineer” to produce life on Earth.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
For more information from a different perspective go to Space.com

Gorilla Named Koko Dies

Gorilla Named Koko Cartoon
On June 19, 2018, the famous lowland gorilla named Koko passed away. Koko was famous because she learned the sign language of the deaf and could comprehend 2,000 words and “speak” 1000.

Koko was born in captivity and lived in the Gorilla Foundation in California. Her trainer, Francine Patterson, began training the gorilla in the sign language of the deaf when she was about a year old. Koko got major attention from the entertainment industry and the media. Robin Williams and Fred Rogers interacted with Koko and gave her significant publicity. National Geographic ran a documentary on her in 1978.

A line in The Week (July 6/July 13, 2018, page 12) by Molly Roberts summarized Koko’s impact: “Science is still far from establishing how much apes truly resemble humans mentally and emotionally, but in Koko’s case, it may not really matter. What mattered is that we looked at this creature, and somewhere in Koko’s eye, we saw ourselves.”

There is no question that Patterson’s work with this gorilla was a remarkable demonstration of human patience and animal capability. Attempting to prove that the gorilla named Koko is a distant relative of her trainer is quite a stretch. Ms. Patterson became emotionally involved with Koko, and the usefulness of her work with the gorilla scientifically is highly controversial. Skeptics point out that Paterson’s questions were “designed to elicit responses that made it seem as if Koko understood more than she really did, but boy, did we want to believe.”

The commercialization of Koko did much to destroy any scientific value in her ability to communicate. Patterson created a record album in which Koko “picked songs she liked” based on what she listened to. Koko’s capacity to create art was demonstrated by having her copy what Patterson drew. Koko’s ability to select colors for what animal she was supposedly drawing produced some comical results. Koko’s “desire” to have a “pet” kitten was made into a children’s book in 1983. Understanding the concept of a kitten or a pet certainly was not part of Koko’s animal instinct.

We suggest that Koko the gorilla was created in the image of “Penny” Patterson. While this is an amazing achievement and there is much to learn from what Patterson did, the value of Koko to anthropology is very limited. The creation of humans in the image of God has nothing to do with intelligence, language, or the ability to learn and copy. Our spiritual nature is uniquely ours, and humans without training still demonstrate their spiritual nature.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
For more on this subject, see video #10 in our free series at doesgodexist.tv.

Oxygen Atom Design and Water

Oxygen Atom Design and Water
In our post for yesterday (July 7, 2018) we dealt with oxygen as a designed feature promoting life by allowing us to breathe. Another interesting design feature relates to the oxygen atom design and water. The oxygen molecule’s design allows water to have the properties that it has.

The oxygen atom has eight electrons in orbitals based on their energy with the electrons paired so that their magnetic polarities are balanced. Each electron is essentially a little magnet with a north and a south pole. When the electrons are together in a pair, one electron’s north pole matches up with the second electron’s south pole. In oxygen, the first two electrons are in what is called the S orbital. The next energy level out is also an S orbital with two electrons. The third energy level out from the nucleus is the P orbital. This orbital can hold six electrons, but oxygen has only four electrons left. Two of the electrons are paired, but the remaining two are unpaired. They orbit in a pattern at right angles to one another. These orbits are not spherical but in the shape of a dumbbell.

What is the importance of oxygen atom design and water? A water molecule consists of two hydrogen atoms attached to the oxygen atom in such a way that they pair up with the two unpaired electrons. That means the water molecule is polar in nature with the hydrogen atoms on one end of the molecule and the oxygen atom on the other. The bond angle of the hydrogen atoms would be 90 degrees except for the fact that they repel each other. The repulsion forces the angle out to 105 degrees. This design allows water to have its unique properties which allow life to exist on Earth.

When water freezes, the molecules spread out due to the polar nature of the water molecule. Because of that, ice is lighter than liquid water so lakes freeze on top instead of on the bottom. If lakes froze from the bottom up, life in the water would not be possible. Also because of the polar nature of the water molecule, water dissolves things like salt.

The unique properties of water are due to the design of the oxygen molecule. As a high school chemistry teacher I always enjoy teaching about the oxygen atom design and water. Students are enthralled at the design built into such a simple thing as an oxygen molecule. Almost every time I teach this unit I have some kid say something like, “Wow! Who thought this up?” But this is not the product of a human engineer. An Engineer far wiser than any human created the design of oxygen and built a world that can support life.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
The illustrations are from John N. Clayton’s book The Source: Eternal Design or Infinite Accident? The book goes into much more detail and is available HERE.

Breathe Easy with Oxygen

Breathe Easy Oxygen Molecule
Life requires certain elements–one of which is oxygen. To live, we must have energy and our life-energy is produced by chemical reactions requiring oxygen. Because of the oxygen level of Earth, we can breathe easy.

When oxygen combines with other elements and compounds, we call the process oxidation or combustion. Oxidation results in the release of energy. Oxidation can be slow as when oxygen combines with iron to form rust. Oxidation can be fast, as when oxygen combines with chemicals in wood, producing fire.

The rapid combustion process releases energy in the form of heat and light. In our bodies, oxygen combines with other chemicals more slowly. As oxygen combines with sugar (glucose) in our cells, energy is released warming our bodies and powering our cells. The by-products of this oxidation are carbon-dioxide and water, which can be safely eliminated from the body.

The design of the oxygen molecule with its ability to pull off electrons from other elements makes combustion possible. Are there other chemicals which can produce combustion? Yes, chlorine, fluorine, and bromine can also produce combustion. However, the by-products of that combustion, such as hydrochloric acid, would be harmful or fatal to living cells. Oxygen has just the right properties to combine with carbon-based sugars in our cells to release energy and sustain life without producing compounds harmful to life.

The fact that one-fifth of our atmosphere is oxygen enables us to breathe efficiently. A lower level of oxygen would make breathing difficult. A higher oxygen level would lead to a greater danger of rapid-combustion fires. Replacing oxygen in the air with other combustive elements would be destructive to life. Oxygen has the right properties and is available in the right amount to allow us to breathe easy and live. We think a Master Engineer designed this system.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem

Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. At the lowest point in a person’s life, suicide takes away any future blessings.

Some would say, “The problem has been with me for a long time and is not going away.” If that’s the case, someone needs to step in to address the problem and help to find a solution. As God’s people, Christians need to love and care for others.

Whether you believe in God or not, you have to admit that the desire to live is built into our DNA. Every living thing wants to live. If that were not true, all life on Earth would have ended long ago. No animal commits suicide. No, not even lemmings. (We dealt with that yesterday.) No animal willingly submits to a predator. No wildebeest surrenders to the lion. The predator wins only when the creature has no more ability to go on or to run faster. Why is the predator so desperate to catch that prey? It’s the predator’s will to live.

Why do animals resist death with every fiber of their being until their very last breath? Some would say it’s an evolutionary development that life has evolved to want to live. But that can’t be right because life must have had a strong desire to live from day one. I think the desire to live is evidence of a Creator who put that desire into the very first life—even those living things without conscious understanding. The drive to live built into every living thing, even plants, is another evidence that life is not an accident.

It’s only humans that have the ability to chose. Only humans can choose right or wrong. Only humans KNOW right from wrong. We can choose to make bad choices. We can even choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem. That ability to choose is evidence that we were created by God. The desire to choose right over wrong is evidence that we were created in God’s image. The failure to always choose the right is evidence that we are merely human. God’s willingness to redeem us from our bad choices is evidence that God is love. (1 John 3:1, 16; 4:7)
— Roland Earnst © 2018