The Burden of Alzheimer’s Disease

The Burden of Alzheimer’s Disease

One of the great scourges today is Alzheimer’s. At present, over six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. That is 1 in 9 people age 65 and older and 11.3% of the senior population. Since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 145%. The burden of Alzheimer’s disease affects many of us in various ways – financially, emotionally, and spiritually.

Medical science is still looking for the causes of Alzheimer’s. There is a genetic connection, and Alzheimer’s also seems to be a product of environmental factors. God does not cause it, and so far, it appears to be untreatable. One of the blessings of Alzheimer’s is that the afflicted person is not aware of what is happening to them. In most cases, they do not recognize family or friends or what has taken place, good or bad, in the past.

I have seen that when we apply Christian principles, people with Alzheimer’s respond positively. First Thessalonians 5: 14 tells us to “comfort the feebleminded, support the weak and be patient with all men.” Alzheimer’s patients respond to kindness and love. As Christians, we have the unique perspective of putting the past behind us and accepting people where they are – not where they were 25 years ago.

If your view of life is “survival of the fittest,” you will have very little empathy for someone living with Alzheimer’s. That person is no longer among the fittest and may be a burden. On the other hand, if your view is that all humans have value and God will bless us for serving those in need, the burden of Alzheimer’s disease becomes an opportunity.

Matthew 25:21-40 finds Jesus talking about the blessing of serving others. Verse 36 speaks of Christians reaching out to help someone who is sick or in prison. Alzheimer’s is a kind of prison and is certainly a sickness. The need for us to bring love, care, and relief applies as much to an Alzheimer’s patient as to anyone else.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Data from Alzheimer’s Association ( 1-800-272-3900.

Christianity Brings Freedom from Ceremonial Laws

Christianity Brings Freedom from Ceremonial Laws

People must decide how to live and how to treat one another. The atheistic evolutionary system suggests that the only governing law is “survival of the fittest.” Writers like Ayn Rand espoused the idea that if we do what benefits us personally, the world will become a utopia. From a biblical standpoint, there are three systems of laws that answer the question of how we should live, and Christianity brings freedom from ceremonial laws.

Christianity is not a set of “thou shalt not” rules, but misconceptions abound because people don’t understand the difference between the Old and New testaments. The Old Testament emphasized ceremonial laws. Leviticus describes a rigid set of laws to follow. (See the first 13 verses of chapter 1.)

In the New Testament, Galatians 3:10-25 refers to this system as a “curse” because breaking one ceremonial law invalidates the whole system. Many people believe those ceremonial laws are binding today. However, Colossians 2:13-17 points out that Christ did away with the ceremonial laws. The New Testament does urge Christians to pray while allowing tremendous freedom as to how and when. Only communion and baptism could be considered ceremonial activities.

The second kind of law we all have to deal with is civil law. Deuteronomy 24 is an example of applying laws of that kind at the time of Moses. Civil laws have changed as culture has changed. Romans 13:1-7 tells Christians to obey civil law, but those laws can sometimes conflict with the third kind of law, which is moral law.

The moral laws of the Old Testament were all repeated in the New Testament, but Christ gave us a way to successfully follow laws that benefit humans. The teachings of Christ deal with attitudes. Rather than just saying “do not murder,” Christ says “do not be angry” (Matthew 5:22). Rather than saying “do not commit adultery,” Christ says not to look on a person with sexual intent (Matthew 5:28).

Christianity brings freedom in many ways. That includes freedom from ceremony, power struggles, violence, racism, and gender issues. Christian faith also frees us from arranged marriages, religious taxes, and spending money on extravagant buildings, idols, or shrines. Yet, tragically, some have encumbered people with ceremonial laws and destructive civil laws in the name of Christianity. Jesus said, “You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32).

— John N. Clayton © 2022

The Carbon Miracle and Life

The Carbon Miracle and Life

Life on Earth would not be possible without carbon. All known living things are carbon-based, and there is a good reason for that. Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, and it’s also plentiful in Earth’s crust. That means there is plenty of it to form life. It’s the second most abundant element in the human body, after oxygen. However, that abundance is a carbon miracle because it demonstrates precise fine-tuning of the cosmic creation event known as the big bang.

First, let’s look at the qualities of carbon that make it so useful for life. Carbon can form more compounds than any other element. That’s because it is the smallest element that has four valence electrons. As we said in our discussion of oxygen, all atoms look for eight electrons to complete their valence shell. Carbon can form covalent bonds by sharing electrons with up to four other atoms to complete that shell.

Furthermore, the energy required to make or break those bonds is at the exact level to build large and complex molecules with both the stability and reactivity necessary for life. Carbon atoms are also lighter because they are smaller than the other atoms with four valence electrons. Their small and lightweight qualities allow enzymes to manipulate the organic molecules formed around carbon atoms. Metabolism requires the manipulation of organic molecules.

Carbon can combine with other carbon atoms to form macromolecules that life requires. Without carbon, there would be no proteins or DNA. Because of its unique qualities, carbon can form hydrocarbons such as sugar, lipids, and alcohols for storing energy in living organisms. Without carbon, there could be no life functions such as breathing, digestion, excretion, or reproduction. In other words, there could be no life. Some scientists have suggested the possibility of silicon-based life somewhere in the universe. However, there are numerous problems with the “rock people” concept, and there is no evidence to support it.

But what is the carbon miracle? According to Fermilab, it is “miraculous” that carbon exists. The cosmic creation event known as the big bang formed only the elements hydrogen, helium, and lithium. Clouds of hydrogen and helium gas came together because of gravity to form stars that collapsed and became hot enough to fuse some pairs of helium nuclei with two protons each into beryllium with four protons. The next step would be to fuse one more helium nucleus to form carbon with its six protons.

That is where there seemed to be a roadblock. The beryllium isotope is so unstable that it decays back into two helium atoms in a ten-thousandth of a trillionth of a second. However, scientists found that the carbon nucleus has an “internally excited short-lived state” that allows the miraculous microsecond bonding to take place. According to scientists, as reported by Fermilab, “Amazingly, if the strength of the nuclear force between protons and neutrons after the Big Bang were different by less than 1%, carbon would be extremely rare, and the universe would be devoid of life.”

That is the carbon miracle, and we don’t think it was an accident that the creation event was fine-tuned. English astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle first suggested the unique quality of the carbon nucleus that made it possible for carbon to come into existence. Hoyle was an agnostic, but seeing the fine-tuning of the creation, he wrote, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” (Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections”) We believe that “superintellect” is God.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

Pregnant Women Without The Father’s Support

Pregnant Women Without The Father’s Support

One of the major conflicts in our society today is when a woman becomes pregnant and the man involved is unwilling to assume any responsibility for the pregnancy’s financial, emotional, psychological, or spiritual cost. Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions for pregnant women without the father’s support.

Despite the rhetoric that the woman has a right to control what happens to her body, she has to make decisions in which all the options are difficult. The baby is not an extension of the mother’s body. Morning sickness occurs because her body knows a foreign agent has invaded. The baby is a human with its own DNA and will demand outside help to survive or an outside agent to be killed.

Abortion is not a practical method of birth control. Abortions are costly financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Chemical changes in the mother’s body trigger reactions for some time after the abortion. With all of this very personal struggle, many women are choosing to bear the child but not raise it. Adoption is a preferred choice for many, but the adoption process has become increasingly complicated. Many adopting parents have found it so difficult that they go to other countries to adopt a child.

A growing and yet controversial solution is the use of “baby boxes.” In Indiana, the production of “newborn safety devices” is supported by legislation. These devices are embedded in an exterior wall of a hospital or fire station. They have both heating and cooling elements and a silent alarm to notify emergency responders that a child is there. The Knights of Columbus has paid for installing the boxes, and already 12 newborns have been surrendered in Indiana.

Monica Kelsey was abandoned by her biological mother in 1972, and she campaigns for the boxes. She says that the opponents of the boxes “don’t understand what women who are giving up their babies are going through. If you don’t have this available for these mothers, you are going to continue to find babies in dumpsters across this country.”

Safe Haven Baby Boxes provide an option for pregnant women without the father’s support. When people fail to follow God’s plan, the alternatives are always complicated, but compassion and caring can help solve this issue.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: USA Today Network, 1/14/22, South Bend Tribune page 2A.

Food Sources God Has Given Us

Food Sources God Has Given Us
Nature’s Fynd Dairy-Free Cream Cheese made from Fusarium flavolapis

One of the significant challenges today is controlling the collateral damage from growing enough food for our world’s population. This issue is especially true with livestock which create a large carbon footprint and require two-thirds of land devoted to agriculture in the United States. That includes the land dedicated to raising feed for the livestock, which requires massive amounts of water and creates water contamination by polluted runoff and soil erosion. We need to make better use of the food sources God has given us.

A National Science Foundation research program in Yellowstone National Park led to the discovery of a fungus named Fusarium flavolapis, which has amazing abilities. It can ferment sugar to produce a protein that mimics the taste and texture of meat and dairy products. A company called Nature’s Fynd is already making meatless breakfast patties and dairy-free cream cheese and marketing it in California, New York City, and Chicago. They grow this product in trays without soil or sunlight using just sugar, water, and nutrients.

Another food of the future is mycelium, which is the root structure of mushrooms. It grows incredibly fast and has fibers that mimic chicken or steak. A startup company called Meati Foods is now growing enough mycelium in a small facility to equal the meat of a cow in about four days. They are building a much larger plant in Colorado, with expected production to start there in 2022.

Imagine a future where we can grow food in controlled conditions inside a building and where there is no need for massive amounts of water or large areas of land. Also, pesticides or herbicides would not be needed. As a result, hunger could be eliminated from planet Earth, and there would be no shortage of water or release of greenhouse gases.

These products are not a fantasy but another case where humans are finally using food sources God has given us. Fusarium flavolapis grows in hot water springs in the natural world. Growing mushrooms produce mycelium. The big issue is getting people to accept these products in their diet, replacing the ones they have been accustomed to.

–John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: National Science Foundation website

The Question of Euthanasia

The Question of Euthanasia

Technological advances bring new issues for society to face. Near the top of the list is the question of euthanasia. Medical advances now allow people to live a very long time with health issues that would have resulted in early death in the past.

On January 7, 2022, Victor Escobar became the first person in Colombia without a terminal illness to legally end his life by injection. The country removed the penalty for euthanasia in 1997, but only for people considered to have less than six months to live. In Escobar’s case, he had several physical problems, including two strokes, obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, diabetes, and pain. However, he was not considered terminal by the medical profession.

Escobar’s case was the first in Latin America, and it got attention because the Catholic Church issued a statement. The church said that “any action or omission with the intention of provoking death to overcome pain constitutes homicide.”

The question of euthanasia is fundamental to Christians. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, we read that the body is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 make it clear that the body has a special relationship to God’s Spirit. The other issue involved in euthanasia is what constitutes justification for killing a person. Is mental or spiritual pain a valid justification? There is a “slippery slope” concern in euthanasia where a correctable or temporary mental problem can be used to justify taking a life.

Many states in the U.S. have legalized so-called “death with dignity,” and organizations are working to make it nationwide. Several other countries have enacted such laws, and in a few cases, a physician has euthanized a patient without their permission.

While we can understand Escobar’s situation and the growing push to make euthanasia an accepted part of life’s journey, human life is not the same as animal life. Euthanizing a dog is not the same as killing a human. I have known Christians with chronic conditions who used their pain to minister to others, heal old emotional wounds, bring peace, and correct previous mistakes.

Rather than treating humans as highly evolved animals with no more value than a frog, we need to work to relieve all pain. The same technology that allows people to live despite a chronic illness should also be able to ease the pain caused by the condition. In addition, we can provide alternatives to ending life by caring for all people on their spiritual journey. The question of euthanasia should lead us toward allowing God to determine when the end of life should be.

— John N. Clayton © 2022


The Whole Earth Sings

The Whole Earth Sings, even mountains like the Matterhorn.
The Matterhorn

One of the fun units in physics is the study of vibrations and resonance. A simple demonstration of sympathetic vibration is an apparatus that consists of a tuning fork mounted on a wooden box. If you place near it a second box with a tuning fork of the same frequency, you can hear the effect called “resonance” or “sympathetic vibration.” Striking the tuning fork on one box will cause the tuning fork on the second box to start “singing” without being touched. A second tuning fork with a different vibration frequency will not respond. The amazing thing is that the whole earth sings.

When building a guitar or violin, a craftsman has to be very careful not to allow any part of the instrument’s box to naturally vibrate at the same frequency as the strings. If it does, that frequency will be louder than all other frequencies, and the sound will be distorted.

This effect is not confined to tuning forks and musical instruments. Resonance is all around us and in us. For example, your inner ear has hairs of varying lengths and thicknesses, resulting in specific vibration frequencies. If a sound at that frequency reaches your ear, the hair will vibrate and signal the brain to identify the pitch. Not having some of those hairs produces tone-deafness.

Taking a fine glass goblet and running a moistened finger around the edge will produce a tone at a specific frequency. That is the natural frequency of the goblet. You can produce a sound at the resonant frequency of a glass that will cause it to shatter, but probably not with any human voice.

Amazingly, researchers have found that everything in the natural world has a resonant frequency. For example, recent research on the Matterhorn near Zermatt, Switzerland, shows that it vibrates with a resonant frequency. The mountain actually vibrates about once every two seconds (.42 cycles per second.). Our ears hear sound frequencies between about 20 and 20,000 cycles per second, so we need instruments to detect the Matterhorn’s frequency.

You could say that the whole earth sings. Interestingly, the Bible refers to mountains, and even stars, singing. (See Isaiah 44:23, 49:13 and Job 38:7). Isaiah and Job certainly didn’t understand their statements to refer to mountain resonance. However, our understanding of what happens in nature gives new meaning to this poetry describing how the whole earth sings praise to God.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: National Science Foundation research report for January 19, 2022

Year-End Report Available

Year-End Report Available

The “Does God Exist?” year-end report is now available. This website, and the entire “Does God Exist?” ministry, is not funded or directed by any church, school, or company. We do not solicit donations and do not own property or have a business establishment or facility. All of our materials and productions are available free of charge, and we don’t sell anything at a profit.

Our purpose is education, and our mission is to help those who have an open mind that science and faith are not mutually exclusive, and they support one another. The director is John Clayton, who does not receive a salary. The financial support of this and other websites comes from individuals who feel there is value in the ministry and voluntarily contribute to support it.

We have prepared a year-end report on the various programs conducted through the “Does God Exist?” ministry. This report details each aspect of the ministry, gives a financial report of how much money was donated, and tells how the money was used. If you want a copy of this report, please send a written request to John Clayton, 1555 Echo Valley Drive, Niles MI 49120.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Tiny Frogs and Large Tarantulas

Tiny Frogs and Large Tarantulas
Columbian lesserblack tarantula

Researchers constantly find things in the natural world that show special arrangements, allowing life to exist. For example, tiny frogs called dotted humming frogs (Chiasmocleis ventrimaculata) share a home with large tarantulas in a mutualistic relationship.

Large tarantulas eat frogs, but these tiny frogs have toxins in their skin that make them unpalatable to the tarantulas. Scientists studying this arrangement have seen young spiders pick up a dotted humming frog, taste it, and then quickly put it back down. However, these frogs have a symbiotic relationship with large tarantulas known as Columbian lesserblacks (Xenesthis immanis). The tarantulas share their burrows with the frogs. As a result, the spider protects the frog and its eggs from predators, while the frog protects the spider’s eggs from ants and other insects by eating them.

As biologists study the natural world, they find many cases where an animal lives in a symbiotic relationship with another animal or plant. For example, having a burrow to shield from exposure to the Sun and large tarantulas as bodyguards for protection from predators is an ideal situation for the tiny frogs and an example of the wisdom and design built into the natural world.

Life that endures requires thinking and planning, and everywhere we look, we see wisdom at work, allowing our planet to teem with living things. Proverbs 8 finds Wisdom challenging us to understand: “Does not wisdom cry out and understanding put forth her voice? … Unto you O men I call… Oh, you simple ones, understand wisdom, and you foolish ones have an understanding heart…” We can learn from the animals as we find ways to protect our food supply rather than saturating our world with toxic chemicals.

— John N. Clayton 2022

References: Popular Science Newsletter (January 19, 2022) and Wikipedia

Hudsonian Godwit Migrations

Hudsonian Godwit

One of the great mysteries of the natural world is the way various shorebirds make their incredible migrations. One of the most studied shorebirds gets part of its name from Canada’s Hudson Bay, where it was first identified. The second part of its name comes from its two-syllable cry of “god-wiiit.” The Hudsonian godwit (Limosa haemastica) is a bird with remarkable migrations.

Hudsonian godwits lay their eggs in Alaska and northern Canada in the spring. Then, in June or July, they leave their hatchlings to fly 4000 miles to the northern Amazon. After that, they make another 2000 mile flight to Chiloé Island off the coast of Chile. Then, the following spring, they fly 6000 miles from Chile to the northern areas where they lay their eggs and repeat the cycle. 

A mystery is how the young Hudsonian godwits make their journey without adult instruction about where to go. Since these birds live ten to twelve years, they will make the journey as many as 24 times. Hudsonian godwits weigh less than an ounce when they hatch, but in a couple of hours, they are running around catching mosquitoes and flies. Then, before starting their journey south, they bulk themselves up to more than 12 times their original weight. 

Another mystery about the birds is their anatomical preparation for the flights. A typical Hudsonian godwit will have blood sugar concentrations that would be in the diabetic range for humans. Before their migration, the birds’ pectoral muscles double or triple in size, as do their hearts and lungs. To balance this increase, their gizzards, livers, and kidneys shrink. When they arrive at their destination, all of their organs readjust to the normal range. 

As the birds fly their long journeys, one side of their brain will sleep while the other side stays awake and alert, and later the sides will switch. It is called uni-hemispheric slow-wave sleep, and it allows them to fly day and night. In addition, their respiratory systems are highly efficient, allowing flight at high altitudes with less oxygen. That is essential since they fly over the Andes Mountains. 

Also mysterious is the ability of Hudsonian godwits to navigate their journey. Researchers say the birds know and understand weather systems, including wind and rain. They navigate with their vision using stars and landforms, and even smells seem to guide them. But that still does not explain it all. They also sense Earth’s magnetism, but scientists are not sure how. One hypothesis is that their vision is linked to Earth’s magnetic lines of force by “quantum entanglement,” a phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” 

The journey of Hudsonian godwits allows them to secure food at random locations, and their diet of mosquitoes, insects, and worms benefits the environment as much as the birds. The design of Hudsonian godwits speaks of wisdom, planning, and highly sophisticated applications of physics. It would seem that understanding these birds should inspire wonder in a thinking person about the source of such abilities. Truly “we can know there is a God through the things He has made (Romans 1:20.) 

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “The Wonder Bird” in Smithsonian magazine January/February 2022.