Natural Solutions for Wildfires and Drought

Natural Solutions for Wildfires and Drought - Beavers
Natural Solutions for Wildfires and Drought - Beaver Dams

People worldwide need water for drinking, growing crops, bathing, and even for transportation. The problem is not so much the lack of precipitation as it is distribution. In the western United States, a massive amount of water accumulates as snow on the mountains during the winter season. This snow melts, and the water runs off in spring and summer. Some it soaks into the ground and creates a wealth of aquifers that carry the water underground for many miles. Humans have tapped this water with wells lowering the water table, causing a scarcity of natural springs and water available near the surface. That causes vegetation to dry up and die, making wildfires a major issue. There are natural solutions for wildfires and drought.

Wildfires that have occurred in the western United States in the past two years were relatively rare in the past. As water tables continue to drop, we can expect to see more fires, water shortages, and more demand for this vital resource. Private landowners have found a partial solution by building small rock dams that slow runoff and allow more water to soak into the ground raising the water table. In the Gunnison, Colorado area, landowners have constructed some 2,000 of those dams known as zuni bowls. The result is that places that were formerly brown through much of the summer and fall are becoming green.

Others seeking natural solutions for wildfires and drought reintroduce beavers into areas where there are streams and rivers they can dam and make ponds. In the past, people have trapped and removed beavers to allow land development projects. Today, people are even planting trees for beavers to use for dam building. When beaver dams create ponds and raise the water table, they create a whole new ecosystem restoring birds and other water animals while reducing the threat of wildfires. In July of 2018, the Sharps fire scorched the Baugh Creek region near Hailey, Idaho. The fire reduced everything to charcoal except the vegetation along beaver-built ponds, which remained green oases.

God created the Earth with natural solutions for wildfires and drought. Human activity often upsets that balance, but we are learning how to restore God’s water solutions. Beavers are among the resources God created to do the job. We just need to know how to use the tools God gave us.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News, March 27, 2021.

Abortion Industry Taxpayer Supported

Abortion Industry Taxpayer Supported - Planned Parenthood

One of the most challenging decisions for a woman to make is what to do with an unwanted pregnancy. The difficulty of this decision is evident from the “no show rate” for abortion appointments, which can be as high as 75%. Tragically, the abortion industry has become taxpayer-supported.

Planned Parenthood has released numbers in a report for the years 2017-2018. That organization operated 590 locations and performed 332,757 abortions. Their total income for the year was 1.67 billion dollars, of which $563.8 million was in tax money. Because it is a business, Planned Parenthood has to produce an increasing number of abortions or run out of money and have to close. Since 1995, 37% of Planned Parenthood locations have closed, and many of them closed for financial reasons.

By their own data, 96% of “pregnancy resolution services” are completed with abortions without regard for the mental and emotional issues of the women involved. They report only one adoption referral for every 117 abortions. Those numbers tell us that Planned Parenthood is not a service-oriented organization but an industry that must create a market to secure income. We have reported on data about abortion clinics selling baby parts as a source of income for this industry.

The abortion industry has been involved in lobbying politicians to approve their activities and fund them. We now have a president and vice president who approve of abortion and funding organizations like Planned Parenthood. Because of the sensitivity of this issue, it is difficult to get politicians to deal with the facts. The reality is that our political system is now endorsing infanticide. Attempts to defend abortion by claiming the fetus is an extension of the mother’s body do not have scientific support. Morning sickness is because the woman’s body recognizes that the baby is not a part of her body, and her immune system reacts to it. Genetically, the baby is 100% human when the sperm fertilizes the egg.

Educating the public about the facts of the abortion industry and providing alternatives to abortion remains the best that we can do. Our society has now endorsed infanticide, and involuntary euthanasia is the next step in getting rid of inconvenient humans. Scholars like Peter Singer, the Ira W, DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, call for euthanizing the physically disabled and mentally ill. The question is whether this is the kind of world we want to live in and leave to our children?

— John N. Clayton © 2021

For facts about the abortion industry we recommend: To the Heart of the Matter by Shawn Carney (Cappella Books ISBN 978-1-7327417-44)

What Makes You Special?

What Makes You Special?

What makes you special? As we look at the many creatures that inhabit planet Earth, we see that humans are unique.

Unlike most animals, we walk on two legs. Even primates that can stand upright spend much of their time on all-fours. Standing upright frees our hands for making and using tools. It also allows us to use our hands for creating art and writing stories and books. Most animals are covered with a thick layer of hair to protect them from the harsh environment. We protect ourselves by clothing that we design using our creativity and that we make using our hands.

Our opposable thumbs allow us to do things that no animal can. Most apes and monkeys have opposable thumbs, but only humans can bring their thumbs in opposition to any of our four fingers. That is unique, but it’s not what makes you special.

Humans can speak and write. The design and position of our larynx, tongue, and mouth make it physically possible to create sounds that form words. Beyond our physical traits, the ability to understand symbolism is essential for advanced communication. You can understand the meaning of words, even the meaning of the words formed by the letters you are reading. But still, there is more to what makes you special.

Human children are dependent on their parents for a much longer time than any animal, and our family relationships are important throughout life. We are capable of an “agape” type of love that emphasizes others’ needs rather than ourselves. We learn to love in our families as our parents model a godly love for us.

Our brain is unique, not because of its size but because of what it can do. There are animals with larger brains. The sperm whale has the largest. When you compare brain weight to body size, many birds have brains that make up 8 percent of their body weight. The human brain is only about 2.5 percent of our body weight, but it far exceeds any animal’s brain in intelligence.

The most remarkable difference–and the biggest mystery to science–is what is often referred to as “mind.” How can mere atoms and molecules form cells and neural connections to create the human sense of advanced self-consciousness and purpose? We believe this most unique feature of humans is more than the physical action of neurons. We prefer to call it our soul, that brings us closer to what makes you special.

We have to look beyond the physical realm to understand what makes humans special. Our creativity, our search for beauty, our desire for loving relationships, our seeking after justice, and our desire to worship all indicate that we know there is something beyond what this world offers. We believe those desires are in your soul because God created you in His image and designed you to have a relationship with Him. That is truly what makes you special.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Organized Religion in 21st Century America

Organized Religion in 21st Century America

In 1999, the Gallup Poll said that 70% of all Americans belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque. In March of 2021, that number has dropped to 47%. That doesn’t mean 53% of all Americans are atheists, but it does indicate a failure of organized religion in 21st century America.

When you look at the climbing suicide rate, the increase in the use of drugs, including alcohol and marijuana, and the increasing violence in America, it is obvious that our secular culture is falling apart. Add to that the fact that the media, politicians, and academic communities have been caught in lie after lie, and the picture looks bleak.

The bright side is that people are becoming more open to change. This ministry has been in existence since 1968, with the message that science and faith are compatible and that massive evidence shows that God is real and the Bible is His word for humanity. Interest in that message has grown astronomically. Organized religion has maintained the status quo, and hypocrisy has been rampant in religious and political leaders. Meanwhile, young people have shown a growing desire to integrate belief in God with making human behavior changes.

Organized religion in 21st Century America shows the decline of mainline churches that focus on the political issues of the day. Basic Bible groups have experienced growth when they advocate breaking with tradition and listening only to what the Bible actually says. We encourage our readers to look at the evidence for God and the Bible. As young people act on the evidence, they will make positive changes in the direction of humanity.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

COVID-19 Vaccines and Design

COVID-19 Vaccines and Design

We received the following article on COVID-19 vaccines and design from Phillip Eichman. He is one of our readers who has a doctorate in biology and writes for us from time to time.

The politics and debate surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines have obscured the intrinsic beauty of the cellular mechanism that makes these vaccines possible. Earlier vaccines that many of us received, such as smallpox and polio vaccines, contained a weakened or inactivated virus. The COVID-19 vaccines contain only a tiny piece of viral genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA).

The amount of research and development that went into these vaccines is amazing. Scientists first determined the genome of the virus, then isolated the genes and produced a functional piece of viral mRNA. When injected into your shoulder, this viral mRNA directs the production of a viral protein that your immune system recognizes as foreign, ultimately resulting in immunity to the virus. When I took a molecular biology course as an undergraduate in the early 1970s, something like these vaccines might have seemed more like science fiction than basic science.

Clearly, the fact that these mRNA vaccines have been developed and appear to function as expected shows us that living things are not merely a random bunch of parts thrown together. Rather, they are exceedingly complex, finely tuned machines that result from intelligent planning and design. COVID-19 vaccines and design provide further evidence that the universe did not just happen.

— Phillip Eichman © 2021

Did Jesus Use Hate Speech?

Did Jesus Use Hate Speech?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as you are” (Matthew 23:15). Did Jesus use hate speech when He spoke those words?

In today’s world, making any negative statement about the LGBT lifestyle might put you in jail or at least under threat of a lawsuit. Sweden passed a law in 2003 and Finland in 1995 demanding discipline for anyone who says anything negative about the lifestyles of others. J.K. Rowling, the popular author of Harry Potter fame, has been “canceled” in England because she stated that males cannot become females. The question is not whether she is right or wrong, but whether in society today it is permissible to say anything critical of anyone else. George Orwell wrote, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

Those of us who are Christians and try to follow biblical teaching do not believe that anything in the scriptures qualifies as “hate speech.” What Jesus said in the passage above is not hate. We need to define what the phrase “hate speech” means. Webster simply says hate is “strong dislike.” We would add that the words “hate speech” describe what leads to physical action against a person. Most people would say it is okay to hate an idea. We can hate the idea of rape or prejudice without an individual being involved. When Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek and to love their enemies, He was certainly not advocating hate speech.

Did Jesus use hate speech in Matthew 23:15 when He expressed rejection of the Pharisaical system that injured other people as well as themselves? We have the moral teachings of the Bible because alternatives to those teachings hurt others and damage the people who promote those alternatives. No one following the teachings of Jesus would do any physical harm to anyone, no matter what their lifestyle. This is in stark contrast to the alternative teachings that would enact beatings, imprisonment, and even death.

In 1906, a British writer summarized Voltaire’s philosophy with the statement, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Others have repeated that phrase many times to describe the freedom of speech principle. Did Jesus use hate speech? No, and neither should His followers.

We live in a world where freedom of speech is becoming threatened, and those in power are trying to limit what someone can say. Ultimately Christians may be faced with the same situation that Peter and John faced in Acts 4:19. Their response to those who would shut down their freedom to speak was, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Explaining the Manna in Exodus

Explaining the Manna in Exodus
The Gathering of the Manna by James Tissot

Christians sometimes make the mistake of devising naturalistic theories to explain biblical events. A classic example of this is explaining the manna of Exodus 16:14-35. It is true that certain insects in the Middle East secrete an edible substance. Some restaurants serve it and claim that it is the same manna that God provided to Israel in the wilderness.

The best-known example of wild explanations of manna was by Immanuel Velikovsky in his book Worlds in Collision, which was popular in the 1950s. Velikovsky claimed that Venus was ejected by Jupiter and became a comet that contained edible fragments containing carbohydrates which provided the manna of Exodus 16. Now we have people claiming that fragments from the ort cloud of material outside our solar system are the source of the manna.

We should first point out that there may be hydrocarbons in space, but there are no carbohydrates. There is a vast difference. The biblical account tells us that the manna could be baked (Exodus 16:23) and that if it was kept overnight, it “bred worms and stank” (verse 20). Baking would ignite a hydrocarbon. The Bible describes the manna as “like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (verse 31). None of those things match the composition of a comet or Venus. We have landed on Venus, and the surface is familiar rock types like ones found on Earth.

Many things in the biblical account can be explained in natural ways. For example, it is not difficult to believe that quail could descend on a population in significant numbers (also described in Exodus 16). Explaining the manna as a product of insects, as it is today in smaller quantities, would not explain its properties and regard for the Sabbath (verse 23). We could only interpret that as an act of God. How the manna was produced becomes an untestable question, and constructing explanations with wild assumptions damages faith instead of supporting it.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Autotomy and Decapitation

Autotomy and Decapitation
Elysia marginata sea slug

Japanese scientists have released a study of autotomy and decapitation in sea slugs. Researchers found that two species of sea slugs have the amazing ability to separate their heads from their bodies. The sea slug’s head continues to move while it regenerates a heart and other organs.

Autotomy is not a new phenomenon in the animal world. Many of us have seen lizards drop their tails to avoid predators. The tail continues to move to distract the predator while the lizard escapes. But this is the first instance where an animal drops its entire body. Both lizards and the sea slugs can use autotomy as many times as is needed. Japanese scientists have seen specimens regrow their bodies several times.

The slug’s head gets its energy to survive from photosynthesis taking place in cells it has acquired from its algae diet. The researchers believe the sea slug releases its body to get rid of parasites. The scientific community is interested in how this could be applied to replacing human body parts.

The complexity of what appears to be a simple animal is astounding. It’s a good demonstration that God has created animals with unique properties and abilities. Autotomy and decapitation reminds us that there are many things we observe in the natural world that we may use to solve some of the problems humans face.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

You can read the research report in Current Biology and see pictures and video HERE.

Fight For Clean Air

Fight For Clean Air

When I graduated from college, I was invited to a classmate’s wedding in Gary, Indiana. At the reception, I saw a silver serving dish enclosed in a plastic bag. To be helpful, I removed it from the bag when the serving line started. I was reprimanded for doing so because the silver dish began turning black in less than an hour. The problem was that a steel mill upwind from the house was putting hydrogen sulfide into the air. It was an early introduction to the fight for clean air.

With my background in chemistry, I knew that sulfur has economic value. I asked a local businessman why the factory had not installed a scrubber to remove and sell the valuable element. He told me that if the steel company was required to add the scrubber, it would move out of the area because of the cost. The company did nothing even when it was subjected to a daily fine. Local people tolerated the air pollution because of job security and the economic consequences of enforcing clean air requirements.

The April 2021 issue of National Geographic carries an article titled “The Fight for Clean Air.” The subtitle is “The Deadly Cost of Dirty Air.” It begins with these words:

Dirty air affects nearly all of the body’s essential systems. It may cause about 20% of all deaths from strokes and coronary disease, triggering heart attacks and arrhythmias, congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. It’s linked to lung, bladder, colon, kidney and stomach cancers and to childhood leukemia. It harms kids’ cognitive development and raises older people’s risk of contracting dementia or dying from Parkinson’s disease. It’s been linked to diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, decreased fertility, miscarriage, mood disorders, sleep apnea…”

That is only the beginning of the article. As you read through the list, ask yourself how many of these problems have affected you or those you love? How many people have blamed God for things that are on that list? The article documents the numbers and claims that air pollution causes seven million premature deaths a year.

Greed and selfishness lead to the construction of factories that put massive amounts of waste materials into the air while avoiding the investment needed to clean the air. People with money move away from the area with polluted air leaving the poor and disadvantaged to breathe the pollutants. This creates a separation between the rich and the poor, spilling over into the racial issues of our day.

The Bible teaches us to be concerned about the well-being of everyone. The pain and suffering that air pollution brings is not the “will of God.” It violates the principles taught by Jesus Christ. We support the fight for clean air on our planet.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

The God Question

The God Question

We frequently receive the God question from skeptics. Their challenges are something like this: “Since humans created God to explain what they didn’t understand, and since we now can explain everything, there is no need for God.” This relates to the “god of the gaps” argument, which simply says that people invented God to fill in the gaps in human understanding. There is no question that various cultures and religions have used that way of thinking. When people didn’t understand what caused volcanos, they invented a god or goddess to explain them. Even today, some people in Hawaii sincerely believe that volcanos are sacred and have a supernatural origin.

The “god of the gaps” thinking is rooted in ignorance, but so is the question, “Who created God?The problem with the God question in this form is that the questioner has a concept of God which is physical and, in some cases, human-like in form and function. The biblical concept of God is unique in that it challenges us to think more deeply than any physical or human makeup.

The question also assumes that there was a time when God did not exist. The problem with that thinking is that God created time. In Revelation 22:13, God says, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Personified Wisdom speaks in Proverbs 8:22-23 and says, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning before the Earth ever was.” Peter wrote that “with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).

God is not a man (Numbers 23:19) nor like any physical being. “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24) and does not possess flesh and blood (Matthew 16:17). Acts 17:28 tells us that “..in Him we live and move and have our being.” We find those descriptions difficult to understand because they are outside the realm of our experience. Modern science tells us that there are dimensions beyond our own three dimensions of X, Y, and Z. Mathematics tells us that there are eleven spatial dimensions, but we cannot even define our fourth dimension of time.

The God question that atheists and skeptics bring up shows that they fail to understand that God is outside of time and space and, therefore, He always existed. Quantum mechanics has shown us a whole new realm of physics where some of the laws of classical physics no longer apply. No well-educated person would deny the studies of quantum mechanics which fill modern scientific journals. The only question remaining is whether the things that lie in the quantum world are without design or purpose and therefore show no intelligence behind them. The quantum world is incomplete because it offers no reason for there being something instead of nothing.

The concept of good and evil offers an answer to the God questions. It tells us why there is something. John 1:1-5 provides a glimpse into that question when it says, “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.” The word “logos,” from which we get the word “logic,” involves the metaphysical concept of right and wrong. The purpose of human existence is the struggle between good and evil.

Job stretched his mind to understand that he was a major player in the war between good and evil in Job 42:1-6. Understanding God’s nature and that we are beings created in His image opens a new understanding of the God question. It shows us the fallacy of asking, “Who created God?” and expecting a physical answer. God fills the cosmos (Jeremiah 23:23-24), and our studies into the nature of matter have opened a whole new door to better understanding the God question.

— John N. Clayton © 2021