Four-Eyed Fish – Anableps

Four-Eyed Fish - Anableps

Throughout the natural world, we see special design features that allow animals to survive in environments that place unique demands. Chameleons have an eye-brain connection that enables the eyes to rotate independently of one another or work together when needed. Chameleons use their tongues to catch insects, but to capture their food, both eyes must work together to overcome depth perception issues. At the same time, chameleons are very vulnerable to predators, so their eyes must rotate independently to look in several directions at once. We find another example of unusual eyes in the genus of four-eyed fish, Anableps.

Anableps live in northern South America and Trinidad, where they swim in the surface waters of lakes and rivers. Near the surface, they are easy prey for birds, so they need to see above and below the water simultaneously. They appear to have four eyes, two above the water surface, and two below the surface. In reality, they are not separate eyes. The eyes are divided into two sections, separated by a band of tissue.

Each section of the Anableps eyes has two corneas, two pupils, a single egg-shaped lens, and one retina that is also divided. The portion of the eyes located above the water connects to a different section of the fish’s brain than the area below the waterline. These four-eyed fish are ideally suited to fill an ecological niche that no other fish can.

You might think that all fish could use this design, but every ecological niche has animals designed to inhabit and maintain that location. Anableps are unique, and that makes them popular aquarium fish. More importantly, this unique design speaks of God’s imaginative creativity in providing full use of every resource on planet Earth with creatures like the four-eyed fish, Anableps.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Dinosaurs in Genesis 1

Dinosaurs in Genesis 1

I find it interesting how various denominational creationists handle the existence of dinosaurs and how they fit into the Genesis 1 account. We still see some who deny that dinosaurs ever existed even though we have many specimens, including dehydrated ones. Others maintain that dinosaurs were innocent plant-eating friends of Adam and Eve. That is even though paleontologists have found fossils of smaller dinosaurs in the stomachs of more massive dinosaurs. Still, others ignore the literal meaning of the animals listed in Genesis 1, and they include dinosaurs in the “beasts of the earth” category. Some maintain that dinosaurs were the ancestors of birds, and so they are in verse 20. So can we find dinosaurs in Genesis 1?

Recent studies of dinosaur eggs have introduced new data for those who study dinosaurs and the Bible to consider. Detailed studies of Hypacrosaurus eggs have shown that there are growth lines in the shells of the eggs. We don’t see those growth lines in bird eggs, which hatch in a relatively short time. Some of the eggs studied by researchers have growth lines indicating very long incubation periods – in some cases, up to 12 months.

We see growth lines in modern reptiles that bury their eggs and let them incubate for months. Changes in temperature and other environmental factors mean the eggs go through periods of dormancy when the growth lines appear. This lengthy process is especially true of large eggs. Researchers have found some dinosaur eggs the size of footballs, which would require a very long incubation period. All of this would suggest that the large dinosaurs, at least, were not birds. The more data we get on the dinosaurs, the more evidence shows that they were not directly related to any modern animal. They were a group of their own.

We would suggest that this conclusion is very much in agreement with the biblical teachings. Dinosaurs were created by God to help prepare the Earth for humans. Dinosaurs were the gardeners of prehistoric times, pruning the plants and allowing massive vegetation to be preserved in the form of coal and other fossil fuels. We don’t see dinosaurs in Genesis 1 because they were not part of the “creation week.” The Hebrew words used in Genesis were all animals that Moses knew.

Just as God did not tell us about viruses, bacteria, and unique animals like the platypus, He didn’t tell us about dinosaurs in Genesis 1. They were part of the preparation of the Earth for humans. When we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” we are reading an undated historical account that simply says God did it – not how or how long it took. The week of Genesis 1:3-31 hadn’t started yet. When it began, the animals described were those familiar to Moses and his readers.

For more on this, we encourage you to go to doesgodexist.org and read the free booklet “God’s Revelation In His Rocks and His Word.” You can also purchase printed copies at THIS LINK.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Design of Butterfly Wings

Design of Butterfly Wings

We tend to view the wings of a butterfly as we do our fingernails or hair. We think of them as lifeless, rigid structures that serve as airfoils only useful for flying. Researchers at Columbia University led by Dr. Nanfang Yu have discovered that butterfly wings are more than inert tissue. The wings are equipped with living tissues that serve other critical factors for the butterflies. The design of butterfly wings is more than beautiful.

Using thermal imaging, the scientists measured the emissivity of the wings. That means the ability of the wings to emit thermal energy. Butterfly wings have veins that carry hemolymph (insect blood). Male butterflies also have scent patches that release pheromones for attracting mates. The researchers found that the emissivity of the veins and patches was very high. That means the wings of butterflies are engineered to emit thermal energy to prevent the insect from overheating in the hot sun.

The veins of the butterfly wings are covered with a thick layer of chitin, which is the material that makes up the insect’s exoskeleton. The patches on the wings have tube-shaped nanostructures and extra chitin. Thick and hollow materials are better at radiating heat than thin, solid materials. Butterflies are designed to handle high temperatures, and science is just beginning to understand how the design of butterfly wings works to cool the insects.

The study included more than 50 different butterfly species. The conclusion the scientists reached is that butterfly wings are “living structures” not inert material. The design of butterfly wings prevents the insect from overheating as well as allowing it to fly.

That butterfly in your garden is not only beautiful but a creature with a highly complex design. We are still learning about the fantastic transformation that takes place when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. The study of the butterfly’s wings adds another layer of design and intelligence to what God has done with these incredible insects.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

You can read the full report with pictures at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-14408-8.

Infrared-seeking Dog Noses

Infrared-seeking Dog Noses

Touch your nose and then touch your dog’s nose. Notice any difference? Like most mammals, your nose is at the ambient temperature. Your dog’s nose, however, is cold and wet. We have known for a long time that vampire bats have cool patches in their nasal areas that act as heat detectors to help them find warm-blooded prey. Researchers have now found that dogs have a very similar structure. Perhaps infrared-seeking dog noses have the same purpose.

A dog’s nose is packed with sensitive nerves. Researchers say that dogs can detect a warm surface at a distance of five feet (1.5 m). When a warm object is placed near a dog in a cold, dark room, the dog will respond to the object even though there is no visible light in the room. Brain activity goes wild in the area that is connected to the nose.

A friend of mine had a dog that would dig up moles in his yard. The dog would move around with his nose to the ground. Then he would suddenly stop and begin digging. Every time, he would flip out a mole. I told my friend he could make a fortune if he could train ten dogs to do that. Now, at last, I know how the dog did it.

Want to make a fortune? Invent an infrared detector sensitive enough to detect a mole six inches below the surface of the ground. It would be hard to do, but God designed infrared-seeking dog noses so they could find prey that is not visible to our eyes.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Viral Diseases and Christians

Coronavirus- Viral Diseases and Christians

Listening to the media, you might conclude that we have a new threat to our survival in the COVID-19 virus, but that is not the case. Viral diseases have been around from the earliest days of human existence. Recorded history tells us that in 430 BC, a virus took root in Athens and killed two-thirds of the city’s population. Seventy-five million people died from the Black Death in the 14th century. One hundred million people died from the Spanish flu of 1918, and 500 million people were infected. In modern times entire native populations have been wiped out by virus infections. We have all heard of HIV, MERS, SARS, Ebola, H5N1, Nipah, and Zika virus epidemics and their massive numbers of victims.

Scientists studying each of these diseases have determined that they came to humans from animals. HIV originated in chimpanzees. MERS came from camels. SARS originated from bats and civet cats. We can trace COVID-19 to bats and soldierfish. The massive concern about the current coronavirus is that there are far more humans to contract and spread the virus than at any time in the past. Also, we are more concentrated in cities, are more mobile, and have close interaction regularly with animals. In the past 50 years, more than 300 pathogens have emerged. With the use of more animals as pets and as food, there is an increase in the diseases they bring to humans.

From a historical standpoint, the biblical injunctions about hygiene and animal husbandry avoided much of the viral disease problem. The identification of clean and unclean animals reduced human interaction with animals that carry disease. The elaborate rituals of washing and handling animals used as food not only had an aesthetic appeal but reduced the opportunities for disease transmission. The acts of quarantine for anyone showing symptoms eliminated the spreading of disease from one person to another. Pandemics in an isolated farming population was not likely.

As the human population increased, and cities became population centers, the incidence rate of viral diseases increased. Advancing science and technology gave brought the ability to control some diseases. Selfishness, greed, carelessness, and poor hygiene provide easy ways for viruses to spread. Instead of following God’s rules for cleanliness and the preparation of food, humans have employed destructive methods. This is especially true in cultures that have no connection to God’s instructions. It is no accident that the coronavirus for COVID-19 originated in China and in a food market there where food handling and animal managing is limited. It is also no accident that many of the viruses that have decimated human populations were spread because of sexual practices that ignore God’s instructions for sexual relationships.

This virus is not a tool of punishment forged by God. There are good viruses and harmful viruses. Using the intelligence God gave us and following His commands, we can eventually eliminate the effects of the bad ones. Meanwhile, Christians can help those who are infected. We can also work to improve the lifestyles of our friends and neighbors to reduce the spread of viral diseases.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from The Week, March 6, 2020, page 11.

Can We Produce Enough Food?

Can We Produce Enough Food?

Some have said that this is the only command of God that humans have fully obeyed. Whether that is true or not can be debated. There is also debate about whether there is enough food for the enormous population of humans inhabiting this planet. Every day organizations trying to stop the hunger stalking our planet send us heart-breaking pictures of starving people. Did God err in commanding humans to multiply and then not providing enough food? Can we produce enough food for the population with what God has given us?

The February 3, 2020 issue of Time magazine carried a pictorial article about “planet-friendly eating.” The article highlights companies that are producing food from plants and insects. Some of the companies are:

1) Exo sells what they call “Cricket Protein Bar” and roasted crickets. They say that crickets are the perfect protein source, high in essential amino acids, B12, and iron.

2) Plenty grows salad greens indoors with wind and solar providing power. They plan to add strawberries to their production line.

3) Just (which was formerly known as Hampton Creek) produces an egg substitute from mung beans. You can buy it at Walmart.

4) Mosa Meat grows meat from animal cells cultured in a bioreactor. It won’t be practical until the cost can be reduced unless you want to buy a $280,000 hamburger.

5) Beyond Meat bypasses the animal cells to produce burgers and sausage from peas, beans, rice, and sunflower seeds. You can buy their product at thousands of grocery stores.

6) Odontella uses algae to produce a product with the texture and flavor of salmon. They call it Solmon, and it’s available in vegan grocery stores in Europe.

7) Huel makes drinks that are supposed to have the nutrition of a meal with 27 essential vitamins and minerals as well as protein, fat, fiber, and phytonutrients.

8) Solar Foods uses microbial fermentation of nutrients, water, and carbon dioxide to produce protein that resembles wheat flour.

Can we produce enough food using these new techniques? These ideas are encouraging because plants and insects can be grown inside so that pesticides or herbicides are not needed. Cultivation can be automated, reducing the massive overhead of conventional agriculture. Add to that, the fact that much of the food grown outside is wasted by pests, war, pollution, unpredictable weather, and bad agricultural practices.

American tastes may take a long time to adapt to these new foods, but a starving child in Africa is not concerned about how the food was produced if it satisfies hunger and provides nutrition. God has given us the means to produce all the food we need, but greed, waste, and ignorance have led to starvation and misery.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

COVID-19 and the Origin of Disease

COVID-19 and the Origin of Disease

As I write this in Mid-February of 2020, over 2000 people have died from the coronavirus known as SARS-COV-2 or COVID-19. The cause of the virus has been the subject of many television shows, research papers, and religious rants. Scientific evidence concerning the virus is pretty clear, but the media has spread wild claims by nutritionists, religionists, and holistic practitioners that have misled many people. It is essential to separate the snake oil sellers from valid research and holistic claims from valid medical treatment. What is the origin of disease?

There are always religious extremists who will say that diseases like the Coronavirus are God’s punishment for sinful human beings. That claim violates the nature of God, and it is unsupported by the evidence. James 1:17 tells us that God is the giver of every “good and perfect” gift, and verse 13 clearly indicates that He does not tempt us with evil. Jesus never sent disease or punishment on any human being–not even Judas. By the same token, God does not prevent the natural consequences of sin or bad choices. Judas chose to destroy himself, but God did not strike him dead. It would be contrary to God’s nature to send a disease that would kill innocent people for any reason, and children and older adults are dying from this coronavirus.

So what is the origin of disease and the COVID-19 virus? Virtually all of the infectious diseases that humans experience are transmitted to humans from animals. HIV came into the human population from monkeys, and the SARs group of viruses came from animals. Many viral agents cause no problems for an animal, but when they are transmitted to humans, the virus runs wild and can kill. HIV causes no problems in monkeys, but when it gets into the human body, the result can be death. The coronavirus started in Wuhan, China, and appears to have begun in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Eating animals that are carrying the virus or keeping animals with the virus as pets make it easy for humans to become infected.

The Bible was written long before people understood bacteria, viruses, or the importance of personal hygiene. Despite that, it advised hygiene practices and ways of securing and preparing food that minimized the chance of epidemics like the one we are experiencing now. It appears that animals in China carried the virus, and due to Chinese diets and food preparation methods, it got a foothold in humans. COVID-19 creates an acute respiratory syndrome disease that quickly spreads from human to human and especially threatens people with weak respiratory systems.

The origin of disease is not a punishment from God. God did not send HIV to punish homosexuals, and He didn’t send COVID-19 to punish the Chinese for their government’s atheistic stance. At the same time, God’s love is demonstrated through His people. As everyone else is fleeing the Hubei province, Christian medical missionaries are moving in to provide help and treatment to those who are suffering.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from Associated Press release 2/20/20.

Is Veganism a Solution to Global Warming and Animal Cruelty?

Genesis 9:1-3. Is Veganism a Solution to Global Warming?

So has this instruction, which humans have followed better than most of God’s commands, caused climate change? Should we all become vegetarians? Is veganism a solution to global warming and animal cruelty?

People have raised these questions in opposition to God, and to avoid the destruction of our planet. More than that, Peter Singer, in his book Animal Liberation, claimed that all animals are intelligent, feel emotions, and feel pain. He suggests that inflicting pain on animals is a barbaric tradition, and is unethical for modern humans. In addition to these objections, we have those who refuse to eat any animal products considering them to be unhealthy. Vegans avoid all dairy products, eggs, and any animal-based foods.

Certainly, humans are free to choose what their diet will be if they live in an area where a variety of foods are available. The reality, however, is that God designed humans to be omnivores. The statement of Genesis 9:1-3 recognizes that fact, and our bodies demonstrate it. Our teeth are made to both cut and to grind. Our digestive system is designed to handle a wide variety of foods. We are not only designed to eat many kinds of foods, but overloads of any one food type can cause problems for us. Too much plant-based sugar is not a healthy diet. Too many beans or too much honey can cause digestive issues for many of us. Many people have food allergies, especially if we eat those foods in large quantities. Having a balanced diet is critical to good health, and vegan diets can be unhealthy.

Raising animals does generate greenhouse gases, but grazing livestock causes only seven percent of the total greenhouse gases. Raising enough crops to supply the needs of all humans means deforestation and the use of pesticides, fertilizer, fungicides, and herbicides. In many places, growing food by planting crops is impossible, but animals can survive in those areas. Small-scale farmers totaling 1.3 billion people survive on animal products in places where relying solely on plant nutrients is impossible. Is veganism a solution for those people? It’s not even an option.

Any animal must indeed be able to feel pain to survive. The notion that raising animals for food is cruel and inhumane is short-sighted. Animals living in the wild can experience enormous pain. If a cow or goat escapes from its owner, it is in great danger from carnivores that do not dispatch their prey with no concern for their pain. Cattle raised with protection from carnivores, terrible weather, and disease are far better off than in the challenging environment of the wilderness. Is veganism a solution to animal cruelty or global warming? Not really.

A cow is not a human in a different body. They have no awareness of self, and instinctive drives dominate their behavior. While we anthropomorphize animal behavior (interpret what they do in human terms), the fact is that animals were created in amazing ways to survive. But animals do not have the spiritual properties that humans have.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from World Ark, Spring 2020 pages 12-17.

Battle of the Splitters and Lumpers

Battle of the Splitters and Lumpers

As we have reported before, an interesting debate in the scientific community has been the battle of the splitters and lumpers.

The splitters are scientists who consider every fossil specimen they find to be a different species and give it a unique name. The famous anthropologist Louis Leakey was an example of a splitter attaching numerous new names to specimens he discovered. Later it turned out that several specimens which he had given individual names were actually just variations of the same species. In recent years, anthropologists have given individual names to variations of the Neanderthals. Subsequent DNA evidence showed that many of those forms were just racial variations of the same species.

Lumpers suggest that, in general, we see many variations in a species, but we rarely see a new species. In modern days, we have various races that can look very different but are one species. A pygmy and a seven-foot-tall NBA basketball player have vast physical differences, but they are fertile with each other and therefore are one species.

It is becoming increasingly evident that ancient forms were not as diverse as some have assumed. A dinosaur discovered in the 1940s was given the name Nanotyrannus. The picture is an artist’s conception of what they looked like. It is now becoming clear to many scientists that the Nanotyrannus is a juvenile form of Tyrannosaurus rex. Because of their size, the diet of these two specimens was different. With reptiles who continue to grow, they can have a dramatic change in physical makeup as they age.

When we carry the battle of the splitters and lumpers to the question of human origins, the implications become extremely important. Were there many different species of humans that were infertile with each other? Or were they all one species, and the physical variations were simply adaptions to the environment and diet? The Bible indicates that all humans are one and that we all descended from a common human ancestor. The lumpers tend to agree, and the evidence continues to accumulate, verifying that we are all one.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: Science News, February 1, 2020, page 15.

Value of a Whale

Value of a Whale - Humpback Breaching

Many years ago, an atheist challenged my statement that everything in the creation had a designed purpose and filled a need. My atheist friend insisted that the whale is one example of a poorly designed creature with no purpose. He said that they eat massive amounts of the ocean’s food that could be eaten by other, more useful creatures. He also challenged that they contribute nothing to the ecology of the oceans. At the time, I didn’t have a good answer to why whales are useful. Whale oil seemed to me to be a weak answer. Since then, I have learned the value of a whale.

One of the things I love about science is that it continues to look for understandings of the world in which we live. New studies of whales have revealed some facts that show the whale is incredibly useful. The current winter edition of Defenders of Wildlife magazine reports data on the value of a whale.

Whales live a long time, and they accumulate carbon in their bodies. When the whale dies, it takes that carbon to the ocean bottom, removing it from the atmosphere. New research shows that each whale takes 33 tons (30 metric tons) of carbon out of the atmosphere. By comparison, a tree absorbs 48 pounds (22 kg) of carbon dioxide a year. In 60 years, which is the lifespan of most whales, a tree would remove one ton of carbon from the air. Whales play a role in removing the greenhouse gas that people are concerned about today.

In a whale’s lifetime, it will bring minerals to the ocean surface to stimulate phytoplankton growth. This plankton contributes more than 50% of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs 37 billion tons (33.5 metric tons) of carbon dioxide a year. Phytoplankton also sustains many fish species, and today, fishing is a 150 billion dollar industry.

So what is the value of a whale? Defenders of Wildlife maintains that each whale is worth more than two million dollars. God has a purpose for everything He created, but sometimes it takes us a long time to understand how His creatures help us.

— John N. Clayton © 2020