Fetal Microchimerism and Pregnancy

Fetal Microchimerism and Pregnancy

Smithsonian Magazine published an article on scientific research showing that becoming pregnant literally shapes a mother’s heart and mind. The scientific name for this is “fetal microchimerism.” The study shows amazing changes in a woman’s body and mind when she becomes pregnant. These include:

1) The mother regrows heart cells in the same way a salamander grows a new tail.
2) The DNA in new heart cells does not match the mother’s DNA.
3) The new heart cells travel to any damaged part of the mother’s heart.
4) Fetal stem cells transform into blood-vessel-like tubes and heart muscle cells in the mother.
5) Fetal cells not used in the mother’s heart show up in the mother’s lungs, spleen, kidneys, thyroid, skin, and bone marrow.
6) Fetal cells stay with the mother for life. Scientists find fetal cells in the corpses of older women with grown children.
7) Women with three or more kids have a 12% lower risk of dementia.
8) During the first month of motherhood, a woman is 23 times more likely to have her first hospitalization for bipolar disorder than at any other time in her life.
9) New mothers show significantly greater activity in the brain’s thalamus, which regulates consciousness, sleep, and alertness.
10) When observing distressed babies, mothers show unusual electrical brain activity.
11) Mothers have an oxytocin rush into the bloodstream during labor and delivery, facilitating uterine contractions and milk letdown. There is evidence that oxytocin is also a neurotransmitter stimulating a mother’s concern for infants.


When God designed women to give birth to babies, He didn’t just set up a chamber where the baby could grow. He also built into the conception process a system that benefits the mother and the child. Fetal microchimerism means that fetal cells from the baby remain in the mother’s body and affect her in various ways. Can you imagine what an abortion does to this system?

Science is just beginning to understand the complexities of this design. The process of abortion has long-term effects on the mother. The more we learn, the more obvious it becomes that abortion is not only the murder of an innocent baby, but it has collateral damage to the mother.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Smithsonian Magazine (May 2021, pages 50-57)

Alzheimer’s and Dementia are a Growing Problem

Alzheimer's and Dementia are a Growing Problem

Recently a critic suggested that if God were so great, He wouldn’t allow dementia and Alzheimer’s to be a part of the human experience. There is no question that Alzheimer’s and dementia are a growing problem in today’s world. Those of us who have had family members develop these disabilities can testify how hard it is for family and loved ones. Is the inability of a mother to recognize her children or husband a failure in human brain design?

The Alzheimer’s Association has released data showing that one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Since 2000, the number of deaths due to Alzheimer’s has more than doubled. It kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Almost two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women, and more than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. We don’t know all of the causes and contributors to Alzheimer’s. Still, we know enough to tell us that Alzheimer’s and dementia are related to our environment, our growing life expectancy, and our lifestyles.

In the past, people just didn’t live long enough to develop Alzheimer’s. Life expectancy brings many age-related health issues. For that reason, Alzheimer’s and dementia are a growing problem. Diet and physical activity are related to Alzheimer’s. In modern life, we do a lot of sitting and consume many foods that are not good for our brains. The same conditions that have caused heart disease and diabetes also produce Alzheimer’s and dementia. God did not design humans to sit behind a desk with no exercise and eat foods that negatively affect our brains. The Alzheimer’s Association has shown that multiple vaccinations for flu and pneumonia reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s.

Our brains are incredible devices that allow us to survive and do amazing things. We clearly see God’s design in how our brains work, but human activity and choices have contributed to a decline in brain health. Alzheimer’s and dementia are a growing problem but not an indication that God failed in His design. It shows that the neglect of our brains and our choices in life have caused problems that prevent our incredible biological computers from handling all the data we want them to retain. We must take care of the good things God has given us, and our brains are among the most important.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from the Spring 2021 issue of Alzheimer’s Update on alz.org

Skin Color of Ancient Humans

Skin Color of Ancient Humans

“Systemic racism” is making the news in a wide variety of subject areas. Science News magazine carried an interesting discussion of how media presentations and museums have contributed to racial bias. When you look at a series of pictures dealing with apes and ancient humans, they are artist depictions with many details that could not possibly be determined from a few bones. Anthropologists cannot determine soft tissue like ears, noses, and lips or skin color of ancient humans by looking at some bones.

When I taught a class on anthropology, I found the portrayal of Neandertals interesting. The earliest images showed hunched-over creatures with matted hair walking with the gait of a very old man. The fact is that grooming is part of any primate’s behavior. Some scientists believe that the first fossil specimens had arthritic problems that contributed to how they appeared.

The Time-Life series that was popular several decades back contained numerous errors. One interesting fact was that early specimens were shown with dark skin and negroid soft tissue, while recent models had lighter skin and caucasian features. The article in Science News points out that the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has a similar portrayal in which the skin color of ancient humans gives the impression that people with lighter skin are more evolved.

Many years ago, in a college lectureship, I confronted a professor who said that black people evolved from gorillas and white people were true humans who had not changed. I asked the audience to compare the properties of a gorilla with those of the races today. Here are some examples:
Gorillas have straight hair, not curled hair. Which race has straight hair?
Gorillas have white skin under their hair. Which race has white skin?
Gorillas have thin linear lips. Which race has thin lips as opposed to thicker lips?

I’m sure you get the point. The physical features of white people are more like gorillas than those of black people. I suggested to the professor that white people evolved from gorillas, and Adam was a black person. The reality is that no one evolved from gorillas, and no evolutionist would suggest that. We can’t determine the skin color of ancient humans.

Adam named his wife “Eve” because she would be the “mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20). All of us carry the same genetic information indicating the truth of that statement. Like it or not, we are all related. The imaginative artwork that is so popular in the media and museums is almost always inconsistent with scientific evidence.

The biblical concept of humans is spiritual and has nothing to do with a person’s race or ethnic background. We are all in God’s image, and that reference has to do with our soul, not how we look (Genesis 1:27).

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News magazine for April 24, 2021 (page 32)

Unique and Bizarre Planet Earth

Unique and Bizarre Planet Earth

“Planet Earth – Unique And Bizarre.” Those are the words used by Astronomy magazine (June 2021, page 21) to describe the results of studies of the planets within and beyond our solar system. Why is Earth a unique and bizarre planet?

We have four terrestrial planets in our solar system. In addition to Earth, they are Mercury, Venus, and Mars. Those planets have smaller masses than Earth, ranging from Mercury with 5.5% of Earth’s mass to Venus with 81.5%. They also have radically different atmospheres. Venus, which is closest to Earth’s size, has an atmosphere that is 96% carbon dioxide. Mars, roughly half of Earth’s size, is 95% carbon dioxide and 2.7% nitrogen. By contrast, Earth’s atmosphere has 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and less than .1% carbon dioxide.

NASA stationed an observation satellite at the Lagrange point between Earth and the Sun. That is the location where Earth’s gravity balances the Sun’s gravity. The satellite will remain stationary at roughly a million miles from Earth, gather data, and compare Earth data with information from other solar systems. It shows that Earth is the only planet we know of with abundant liquid water driving an active water cycle. 

Scientists believe life itself is responsible for much of the design of planet Earth. Earth’s vegetation has taken whatever carbon dioxide was in our atmosphere and turned it into oxygen. It is no coincidence that the Genesis account portrays plants as the first thing to appear after God created the dry land and seas. 

Another factor making Earth a unique and bizarre planet is the abundance of minerals. Earth has massive minerals of all kinds. Meteorites contain a very small number of minerals, and the Moon has more than the meteorites, but far less than Earth. The media tends to suggest that everything in space is like what we see on Earth, but the data that scientists are gathering shows that our planet is radically different. 

At the end of each day of the Genesis account, God said, “it is good” (Genesis 1:10,12, 18, 21, 25). The first chapter ends with God saying, “it is VERY good.” Over and over, the Psalms call our attention to how unique our planet is. “When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; what is man, that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him” (Psalms 8:3-4). Psalms 19:1 adds, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky shows his handiwork.” 

Our unique and bizarre planet was created by an Intelligence that shaped it into the one place that can support human life, not only in our solar system but perhaps in the entire creation.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Astronomy magazine

Periodic Cicada or Magicicada

Periodic Cicada or Magicicada

In recent years, people have paid a great deal of attention to insects and how they benefit humans. Some insects pollinate our fruit trees. Others provide food for birds and a variety of mammals–even humans. Insects also help convert waste into valuable nutrients. One of the dangers to the total insect population is over predation because so many animals eat them. One insect species solves the problem in a unique way. It is the periodic cicada or Magicicada that appears every 17 years. These insects suddenly emerge from the ground in massive numbers, as many as 1.5 million per acre, to overwhelm their predators.

Dr. Cliff Sadof of Purdue University has headed up research into the life cycle of cicadas. He tells us why we will have a massive amount of noise during the coming weeks from treetops all around us here in Indiana and other areas of the eastern United States. When the soil temperature reaches 64 degrees F at a depth of eight inches, the periodic cicada or Magicicada will start crawling out of the ground. In massive numbers, they climb up trees to molt. After molting, their bodies will be white as they unfold new wings. In a few hours, their bodies will harden, and the males will fly into the treetops and start singing to attract females.

After mating, the females will lay eggs in twigs with a saw-like egg-laying device called an ovipositor. After the eggs hatch, the nymphs will fall from the treetops and burrow into the ground, where they feed on sap from the tree roots. Seventeen years later, the nymphs will emerge and become adult cicadas repeating the cycle.

The cicadas are easy to see, good to eat, and plentiful in huge numbers. Birds, squirrels, and other insect-eating animals will gorge on the cicadas giving other insects a reprieve to recover their numbers. The soil around the trees will be aerated and enriched. The process will prune upper tree branches encouraging new growth.

In Indiana and many other states, the cycle is 17 years. In other regions, the periodic cicada or Magicicada has a 13-year cycle. Trying to explain how such a system came into existence by chance requires a tremendous amount of imagination. We suggest that cicadas are another example of wisdom built into the natural world by God to allow life to exist on planet Earth.

— John N Clayton © 2021

Our thanks to David Harrington, who sent us this information from the Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Indiana.

How Little We Know – The Pulsating Earth

How Little We Know - The Pulsating Earth

The May 2021 issue of Discover magazine (page 20) carries an interesting article about a mystery that scientists have been unable to solve. The mystery is why planet Earth pulsates every 26 seconds. Researchers at the Lamont Geological Observatory first reported the pulsation in 1960. After more than 60 years, nobody has formulated an accepted explanation of why this is happening. The point here is not Earth’s pulsations but how little we know about creation.

In time someone will probably find an acceptable explanation for Earth’s pulsations. My point is the nature of human knowledge. We are all amazed at what science has accomplished. We watch the helicopter fly on Mars. We see the COVID vaccine developed in less than a year when it usually took half a decade to build a vaccine. We are amazed by new fabrics and the products of genetic engineering.

The fact is how little we know. Human knowledge is still very primitive compared to all that we observe. We are still struggling to understand what caused gravity. We are only dimly aware of the quantum world and how it forms the material we see around us. Our understanding of the human mind is so incomplete that experts in the field of brain study say we still don’t understand what 95% of the brain does. Perhaps the most significant gap in the knowledge and beliefs of many of us is the question of why there is something instead of nothing.

What little we do understand puts us in awe of the power and intelligence of God. Dr. Frank Baxter used to say that everything he knew as a scientist taught him, “That a wonder-working hand has gone before.” In Proverbs 8:4-5, Wisdom says it another way: “To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding.” The Psalmist said it this way:” When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him (Psalms 8:3-4).

Every bit of knowledge we acquire reminds us of how little we know and raises more questions for us to investigate. This is a wonderful time to be alive when so many of the secrets of God’s creation are just being discovered.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Discover magazine May 2021

No Room for Arrogance in Christianity

No Room for Arrogance

When I was an atheist, one thing that always turned me off was the seeming arrogance of religious people I knew. The “better than thou” attitude is not only unwarranted, but it is unscriptural. The Bible gives us no room for arrogance.

The classic biblical rebuttal of the attitude of arrogance is the parable Jesus taught in Luke 18:9-14. This parable was about a “religious” guy who did everything right religiously and a tax collector who was a Jew who betrayed his fellow Jews by working for the Roman government.

The Pharisee did everything right and told God about it. His opening line was, “I thank you that I am not like other men.” Then he went on to talk about all the good things he did. The tax collector looked down at the ground and “smote his breast,” which was a symbol of sorrow in that culture. Then he begged God for forgiveness. Luke tells us that Jesus “spoke this parable to those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others” (Luke 18:9).

Jesus and the apostles hit this theme over and over. In Luke 7:37-50, we see Christ contrasting the woman who was a sinner with the Pharisee, a part of the religious elite. Jesus praised her and held her actions up as exemplary while he condemned the Pharisee. In Romans 2:17-24, Paul addresses the hypocrisy of religious people who claim to be knowledgeable but don’t practice what they preach. In Matthew 5:14-16, Christ holds up His followers as people who are “the light of the world” for how they live.

It took me a long time as an atheist to realize the fact that “sitting in the chicken coup doesn’t make you a chicken.” Sitting in the Church building doesn’t make you a Christian. The assembly of Christians is not a venue to be entertained but a hospital for people seeking to be what God called them to be. If you are reading this and have been turned off by the arrogance and self-righteousness of people who claim to be Christians, please understand that those folks turned off Jesus Christ as well.

Philippians 2:5-8 reminds us that Christ “humbled himself by becoming obedient even to the point of death, even death on the cross.” How can any of us be very self-righteous or arrogant when we think about that statement. There is no room for arrogance in Christianity.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Happiness Comes from Following Christ’s Teaching

Happiness Comes from Following Christ's Teaching - Robert Ingersoll
Robert G. Ingersoll 1833-1899

Robert Ingersoll is an atheist hero because he traveled the country attacking God, Christianity, and the Bible in the nineteenth century. Ingersoll is quoted as saying, “The time to be happy is now, the place to be happy is here, the way to be happy is to make other people happy.” That statement is remarkably similar to the writings of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:10-13 and the words of Christ in John 16:22-24. Happiness comes from following Christ’s teaching.

Every attempt by atheists to provide an alternative to the teachings of Christ has ended up in frustration and pain. When an atheist built a town in Missouri with the name “Liberal,” it collapsed in a short time, with the founder saying he never again wanted to live in a town with no churches. Governments based on atheism in the past and today have not been successful in providing peace and prosperity for their citizens.

It is easy to attack Christianity while enjoying the blessings of Christ’s teachings. Offering a useful and positive alternative to what Jesus taught is another matter. As the United States drifts away from its Christian roots and embraces humanism, secularism, and atheism, we see an increase in suicides, shootings, racism, and abuse. Happiness comes from following Christ’s teaching.

When someone is incarcerated, the prison usually asks their religious beliefs for the record. Very few prisoners say “atheist,” “agnostic,” or “none.” In our prison work, we ask prisoners taking our correspondence courses to explain how they got to the point of being jailed. Merle Haggard wrote a song in which he said: “In spite of all my Sunday learning, to the wrong I kept on turning. No one could steer me right, but mother tried.” Haggard’s mother was a member of the Church of Christ, and his prison stint took place because he rejected the teachings he learned as a child. We hear that line over and over from many of our students in prison.

My father was an atheist, but he was a very moral man. I asked him one time why he was faithful to my mother. His response was, “I guess it is because of the way I was raised.” His father was a minister, and his mother was a strong Christian woman. Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them (Matthew 7:16). Atheism has no positive fruit in the long run. Happiness comes from following Christ’s teaching. Robert Ingersoll found a receptive audience only when he repeated the teachings of the Bible.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Inspiration for this came from Faulkner University spring bulletin 2021.

Learning from the Natural World

Learning from the Natural World

One of the ways people discover new materials and new applications is by learning from the natural world. Scientists have wondered how bugs that live in wet areas avoid water damage and bacterial infections. Researchers are using a fabrication process called nanoimprinting lithography to study the wings of Neotibicen pruinisus, the annual cicada found in the central region of the United States.

Cicada wings are made of a complex pillar-shaped nanostructure that repels water and prevents bacteria from establishing a foothold. New fabrication tools have enabled scientists to produce replicas of the wings and pillars. Entomologists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have reported that this work will be beneficial in engineering applications across various subjects–everything from aircraft wings to medical equipment.

We look at what we feel are simple forms of life and fail to realize the complexity of their design. Earth is full of examples like the Cicada. Researchers are learning from the natural world. Everywhere we look, we find a wonder-working hand has gone before to allow life to exist all over the planet.

When God wanted to convince Job of His intelligence, power, and design (Job 38-41), He used astronomical and geologic creations and the design of an assortment of living things. Job responded by saying, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3). We must continue learning from the natural world God created because there is still much we don’t know. That is not just true of the material world but also of the spiritual world as well.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: nsf.gov

Near-Death Experiences and God

Near-Death Experiences and God

The April 16, 2021, issue of The Week magazine (pages 48-49) carried an article about the research of Bruce Greyson, a professor emeritus in psychiatry at the University of Virginia. Dr. Greyson has been collecting hundreds of records of people who have had near-death experiences (NDEs). In 1975, psychiatrist Raymond Moody wrote a best-selling book titled Life After Life. Dr. Greyson has a new book similar to Moody’s simply titled After. It contains a series of case studies of people who have had NDEs.

The article discusses possible explanations of the near-death experiences people have had in terms of brain responses to stress. But the Greyson studies go beyond just trying to find a physical explanation for what people experience. One interesting fact is that people who have had NDEs are changed by the experience. Greyson says that a near-death experience “dramatically transforms people’s attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors.” People lose their fear of dying, they lose their fear of life, and they see a purpose in life they hadn’t seen before.

Greyson says, “I’ve spoken to people who were policemen or career military officers who couldn’t go back to their jobs, couldn’t stand the idea of violence. The idea of hurting someone becomes abhorrent to them. They end up going into helpful professions. They become teachers, or health care workers, or social workers.”

Dr. Greyson ends his article by saying that he grew up without any spiritual background, and he still is not sure of what “spiritual” means. He says that researching near-death experiences for 40 or 50 years convinced him that there is more to life than just our physical bodies. He says he now recognizes that there is a nonphysical part of us, but he is not sure what it is.

Our society has tried to portray humans as just animals. The research that honest seekers like Greyson are doing gives strong support to the fact that what defines us is our soul–that part of us created in the image of God.

— John N. Clayton © 2021