Overdose Deaths are Increasing

Overdose Deaths are Increasing

Deaths due to drug overdoses have skyrocketed. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that in 1970 there were fewer than 7,000 deaths in the United States due to drug overdoses. In 2019 there were 72,000, and in 2020 there were 93,000. Whether or not there is a problem is not the issue, but people question why overdose deaths are increasing?

Some suggest that it is because of the availability of painkillers, especially opioids. When I graduated from high school in 1955, many drugs were available, and I knew people who had died from overdoses. Even in those days, we learned how to get whatever drugs we wanted. There were those available on the street and others we could make ourselves. For example, I remember a cough syrup named “Hadacall” that we used to get high because it contained a higher alcohol content than the booze we could get. Harder stuff was available if you looked for it.

We suggest the fundamental reason why overdose deaths are increasing is the removal of Christian values from our culture. If you do not see a purpose for your life and things go wrong, what is the natural response? For the Christian, there is the promise of Romans 8:28 – “All things work together for good to those that love God and who are called according to His purpose.” Christians know that whatever happens to them has some kind of purpose or connection to a purpose. There is also the ultimate hope which is beyond this life. When you discard that, what is left?

We don’t always understand what good can come from tragedy in our lives
. But, as Christians, we know that if we hang on, we may eventually see a purpose or at least some ultimate good in our loss. Opioids and drugs provide an escape for unbelievers from whatever bad things have happened in their lives. Therefore, overdose deaths are increasing because they feel that life without purpose or hope is not worth living.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from Associated Press release by Mike Stobbe for July 15, 2021. In South Bend Tribune page 12A.

Hidden Designs in Creation

Hidden Designs in Creation - Seagrass Meadow

A regular feature in the Does God Exist? quarterly journal is what we call “Dandy Designs.” Those pages feature examples of design in living things that speak of God’s wisdom. We have collected many of those examples in five volumes of Dandy Designs booklets. In addition to obvious designs we notice every day, there are many hidden designs in creation that are vital to our existence.

Defenders magazine carried an interesting article about seagrass. Standing by the ocean shore, you may not be aware that seagrass even exists. It grows on the ocean floor in large meadows similar to those we see on land. Recent concerns about seagrass have made headlines as the Florida manatees that feed on seagrass have been dying in large numbers because of pollution killing seagrass meadows.

Seagrass is not just manatee food. It also benefits humans directly. The Defender article lists five direct ways in which we benefit from seagrass:

1) One acre of seagrass produces 50,000 liters of oxygen per day.
2) One acre of seagrass can absorb 3500 miles worth of carbon emitted by an average car each year.
3) One acre of seagrass will support 40,000 fish and 50 million invertebrates.
4) One acre of seagrass will absorb enough nutrients to treat the amount of sewage created by 100 people annually.
5) One acre of seagrass will generate $35,000 in ecological services every year.

We live in a time of massive change, with global warming and ecological problems threatening our world in a way not apparent in previous years. Yet, as Christians, we believe that we need to care for and protect God’s creation, and the more we learn about the hidden designs in Creation, the better we can do that.

John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Summer 2021 edition of Defenders magazine, page 8.

Christ’s Attitude Toward Evidence

Christ’s Attitude Toward Evidence

Many people today, including Christians, are denying evidence. A charismatic teacher, politician, or preacher can cause them to ignore scientific or biblical evidence and accept something untrue. What was Christ’s attitude toward evidence?

Jesus had a healthy respect for evidence and used it in His teaching. In Matthew 11:1-5, John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus to find out if He was who John had proclaimed Him to be. What Jesus did was to give these disciples evidence. “Go and show John the things which you hear and see.” When Thomas had trouble believing, what did Jesus do? Jesus told him to examine the evidence. “Put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). Christ’s attitude toward evidence was to use it regularly in His dealings with people. His miracles were evidence that motivated people to faith.

In the parables of Jesus, what do we see? There was no abstract, hard-to-understand theological gymnastics but everyday evidence that people knew about and could understand. The parables of the good Samaritan, the lost coin, the weeds, the yeast, the lost sheep, the fig tree, the sower, and the mustard seed are all examples of evidence that people could understand. What was the purpose of the miracles that Jesus and the apostles performed? Was it not evidence to show that they spoke for God? Compare that to the scammers such as Simon in Acts 8 and the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19:11-16.

The “Does God Exist?” ministry deals with evidence. We are not interested in denominational theories or human doctrines. Instead, we must build our faith on evidence. By knowing the evidence, we can “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Alcohol and Women of Childbearing Age

Alcohol and Women of Childbearing Age

The World Health Organization (WHO) released a global alcohol action plan. The statement that has grabbed the most attention is this: “appropriate attention should be given to … prevention of drinking among pregnant women of childbearing age.” Unfortunately, the media seem to have ignored the rest of the WHO report. The storm of reaction is because of the statement about alcohol and women of childbearing age. Freelance writer Danielle Campoamor gave the immediate response of much of the media when she said on NBC, “the action plan overlooks men, as usual.”

The data on alcohol use is horrible among men and women. WHO has given data for years which the media has totally ignored. In 2016, 2.3 million men died due to alcohol consumption. Alcohol use worldwide caused the loss of 106.5 million DALYs, disability-adjusted life years. There are 283 million people aged 15 years and older living with alcohol use disorders. That is 5.1% of the global adult population.

So why pick on alcohol and women of childbearing age? The answer to that question should be obvious. The effect of a drinking mother on her unborn child causes problems for the child–not the mother. Fetal alcoholism syndrome is something doctors confront regularly. Feminists correctly point out that men who drink substantially and father children also increase the risk of birth defects.

Alcohol is the most destructive drug that has ever existed. The mentality that attempts to justify drinking for any segment of the world’s population is the same as those who promote abortion—the selfish desires of individuals in our culture trump everything else. Babies continue to bear the consequences of selfish adult desires for pleasure. We now see this happening with marijuana, but we are yet to see the long-term health problems of marijuana.

We see people like Peter Singer, moral philosopher and professor at Princeton University, suggesting that we should euthanize people with mental or physical impairments to save money and inconvenience to society. Now is a time for Christians to stand up for life, morality, and the positive results of following the teachings of Christ. We must speak out against alcohol and other drug use, abortion and infanticide, and euthanasia of the mentally ill, elderly, or those with congenital disabilities. Protecting those people is the one hope for humanity to continue to exist with equal opportunity for all.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: World Health Organization “Global alcohol action plan 2022-2030 to strengthen implementation of the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol,” released June 15, 2021

Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible

Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible and the Book of Mormon

Most of us have had two young Mormon evangelists show up at our door. They claim that the Bible was translated inaccurately, and an angel gave Joseph Smith visions to correct the errors. In the Mormon Latter Day Saints Articles of Faith, Joseph Smith wrote, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.” Joseph Smith attacked the “corrupted Bible” by producing his own version known as the Joseph Smith Translation (JST).

Smith quoted Genesis 6:52-53 as saying that Adam was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and was given the gift of the Holy Ghost by that process. He changed John 1:1 to say that “the gospel was preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word …” Smith did not go back to the original languages and had no access to ancient manuscripts for his translation. He claimed that God gave him the revisions for the Joseph Smith Translation.

Mormon writings contain many scientific and historical errors, some of which later Mormon leaders have removed by editing Joseph Smith’s original books. Examples include God cursing Indians (native Americans) with dark skin (2 Nephi 5:21&23, Jacob 3:3-9, Mormon 5:15-17, and Alma 3:6-109). Furthermore, if they accepted Mormon teachings, they would “become a white and delightsome people” (2 Nephi 30:5-7 and 3 Nephi 2:15). Sin causes baldness, according to 2 Nephi 13:24.

Our correspondence course contains an appendix with four pages of errors in the Book of Mormon. It is available on our doesgodexist.org website in the correspondence course section. You will also find that list of errors in appendix A (pages 164 to 167) of our book The Source: Eternal Design or Infinite Accident, available from the PowerVine Store.

For more information and materials showing the errors in Mormonism, read The Salt Lake City Messenger. It is published by the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1358 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84115. You will find their website HERE.

We repeatedly make our arguments about the credibility of the Bible by going back to the original languages. Our Beyond Reasonable Doubt video series goes deeply into archaeological support and historical facts to back up our claims about the Bible. We wrote about it in our second quarter Does God Exist journal, which you can read HERE. You can watch the series on our Does Does God Exist? Media website. It is available for purchase from the PowerVine Store.

The Latter-Day Saints (LDS) conversion rate has dropped, and their growth rate has slowed from 4% in the 1980s to 1.5% in 2020. Their efforts toward children have grown to overcome this decrease, and we can expect a more aggressive approach from their missionaries as well. Before listening to the Mormon missionaries, we should know the errors of the Joseph Smith Translation and the Book of Mormon, and other false Mormon teachings.

Singing is Good for Your Health

Singing is Good for Your Health

A Finnish study has found that singing is good for your health. In addition, it showed better verbal fluency in elderly singers compared to non-singers. The study says that these findings make sense because singing requires regulation of attention, versatile information processing, linguistic output, learning, and memorization.

Several New Testament passages talk about singing, including Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, Romans 15:9, and 1 Corinthians 14:15. The New Testament presents singing as part of worship, and everyone should participate in worship. Merely being entertained by someone who is blessed with great musical talent is not participating in worship.

In our day of four-part harmony, it is easy for everyone to learn to sing in their comfort range. In the Old Testament, the Psalms were songs. Music for worship in Jesus’ day mainly consisted of chants that everyone could join.

A person can be tone-deaf and still participate in singing in Christian worship. Although many religions use singing as a part of their worship activities, group participation is unique to the worship system of Christians.

Singing is not what takes place in the meetings of atheists. When I was an atheist, the only songs I remember were songs that carried a pornographic or comedic message. Music was not something we all participated in, but it was a vehicle of entertainment.

Making melody in your heart” (Ephesians 5:19) is a proven way to improve your mental health. Furthermore, like everything God tells us to do, it has a purpose and benefits our well-being. Therefore, singing is good for your health, both physical and spiritual health.

— John N, Clayton © 2021

Reference: Readers Digest. September 2021, page 58.

Plants use Magnetism

Plants use Magnetism

One area of constant scientific investigation is the involvement of magnetism in living things. Studies have shown that cattle can align themselves with Earth’s magnetic field. Magnetism seems to be used by some animals in migrations. The presence of magnetism in the human brain has led to research into what that magnetism does and how medical science can use it to treat certain diseases. In addition to animals, plants use magnetism.

Scientists have found that magnetism plays a role in the survival of some plants. For example, the Venus flytrap uses jaw-like leaves to trap insects. Scientists have been mystified by what causes the “jaws” to close. However, it appears that stimulation from prey produces a small magnetic field which triggers the “jaws” to snap shut.

Studies have shown that other plants use magnetism by generating magnetic fields, including a bean and a single-celled alga and bacteria. This magnetic ability seems to be built into the plants for highly specialized functions. Thus, God’s design for every living thing is both subtle and complex.

Science is just beginning to understand how plants use magnetism. As we have said before, that Earth’s magnetic field has reversed in the past. We are far from understanding the many ways such a reversal could have affected life on this planet.

Realize that magnetism in a living plant requires ferromagnetic materials to be built into the plant. Those magnetic materials would serve no other purpose than to allow the plant to use magnetism somehow. Everywhere we look in the natural world, we see that a wonder-working hand has gone before.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: National Geographic, September 2021, page 19.

The Myth of UFOs

The Myth of UFOs

Anytime the media has run out of things they think will draw readers or viewers, they fall back on the myth of UFOs. For example, the May 10, 2021 issue of The New Yorker magazine carried an article by Gideon Lewis-Kraus titled “The UFO Papers: Why Did We Start Taking Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Seriously?” The article was a combination of bad science and bad journalism. The bad science was that the writer reported UFO sightings’ size, altitude, and speed based on people’s estimates, not precise scientific measurements. The bad journalism involved the people the writer chose to interview. 

Mick West, a British-American science writer and skeptical investigator who debunks the myth of UFOs, has offered plausible explanations that don’t involve aliens or paranormal explanations. In addition, Scientific American magazine ran an article titled “Experts Weigh in on Pentagon UFO Report.” One featured astronomer, professor Andrew Fraknoi, commented, “…there has been a flurry of misleading publicity about UFOs (based upon military reports). A sober examination of these claims reveals there is a lot less to them than first meets the eye.” 

The atheist community is interested in any evidence that might suggest alien visitation. Some atheists have implied that if aliens have visited Earth, they must be the cause of all the evidence for God. They claim that Jesus was an alien who came to Earth to try to get humanity on a more reasonable approach to reality. The miracles of Christ are simply high-tech displays by the aliens. The absurdness of this is obvious. If the aliens can do all the atheists claim, they certainly can evade any efforts by humans to see or detect them. 

Despite all the books and articles UFO proponents have written to support the myth of UFOs, no tangible evidence supports alien visitation. Scams such as the Roswell, New Mexico, claims and attempts to deny archaeological evidence that Jesus was what He claimed to be will prove to be false. Robert Sheaffer, who has written extensively about UFO claims, says, “There are no aliens here on Earth. And so, the government cannot ‘disclose’ what it does not have. Some people think the government knows more about UFOs, or UAP, than the public, but it’s clear they know less on the subject than our best civilian UFO investigators, not more.” 

We are not saying that there is no life anywhere in the cosmos except on Earth. What we do say is that if there is life out there, God created it. I always enjoy telling the story of an interview I did with Larry King early in my career. It was a radio talk show, and he had an atheist on with me. A caller asked my atheist friend, “What would you do if an alien landed on the Whitehouse lawn, got out of his flying saucer with a Bible in his hand, and said, ‘Has Jesus been here yet?’” All the atheist said was, “Punt.” I think that says it all. 

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Bible Horror Stories

Bible Horror Stories

We sometimes get mail from skeptics referring to “Bible horror stories.” That indicates the writer does not understand the biblical message. For example, a recent letter referred to the “horror story of a guy cutting up a woman and mailing her body parts to people all over the world.” This is a classic example of an atheist lashing out at the Bible without thinking or understanding the biblical account.

We need to remember that the Bible reports history as well as giving God’s instructions.
The fact that your local newspaper reports a murder does not mean that the newspaper did the killing or endorsed it.

The passage that the skeptic referred to is Judges 19-20. This is a horrible story of a woman companion of an unnamed Levite who is raped and murdered by a group of men. The Levite cuts up her corpse and sends it to the 12 tribes of Israel to motivate them to retaliate against the murderers. This mutilation was not something the Levite did as a command of God.

At the time of this Bible horror story, there was no justice system in place.
The book of Judges ends with the statement, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). There was a code of conduct but no legal system to enforce it.

Colossians 2:12-23 tells us that Jesus Christ did away with the legalistic rules that no one could follow completely. The teachings of Christ in Matthew 5–7 are in stark contrast to the violence and power struggles in the Old Testament. The Bible horror stories are accurate records of evil actions. We learn from history, so we don’t repeat the mistakes. The New Testament is NEW!! There is no horror in the gospels except what evil men did to Christ.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

What Happens When We Die?

What Happens When We Die? A Traveler's Guide to the Afterlife

Life has a way of forcing all of us to consider what happens when we die. In the past two months, two of my closest friends, my brother. and my son died. When death strikes that close to you, a logical set of questions arise. Where are they now? Will I ever see them again? Do they know what is going on here on Earth? Are they in heaven or hell?

“Every person has a soul that will live forever, either in God’s presence or absence.” According to recent polling, 79% of all Americans agree with that statement. If you don’t believe that humans have a soul, you need to look at the evidence. Dr. Timothy Gordon has written a book titled “A Traveler’s Guide to the Afterlife” that makes a thorough study of what the Bible says about eight subject areas:

1) The death and the mortality of humans.
2) The immortality of the soul
3) The intermediate state of the dead
4) The second coming of Christ
5) The resurrection of the body
6) The day of judgment and rewards
7) Hell and eternal destruction
8) Heaven and eternal life

Tim Gordon is a retired Navy Commander with a doctorate in Christian apologetics. He knows Hebrew and Greek and is very familiar with millennial views. He serves as an adjunct instructor for the Biblical Studies Center in Boise, Idaho.

There has been very little teaching on what happens when we die, and this book is biblically accurate. There is a 77 page listing of scriptures dealing with the afterlife, and the scriptures are written out–not just listed. In addition, there are crossword puzzles, word search puzzles, and extensive documentation of what people have said about this subject.

This book fills a huge gap in the preaching and teaching about life after death over the years. We highly recommend it to Christians, and especially to preachers and teachers.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

This book is available on Amazon for $9.99 in paperback and $3.99 for the Kindle edition (ISBN 9781082882593).