Drones and Alien Invasions

Drones and Alien Invasions

The old adage says, “If you don’t believe in something, you will believe anything. That seems to be accurate as people are reporting new waves of invading flights with increasing frequency. Part of the problem is that people are confusing drones and alien invasions.

In December of 2019, people were placing videos on YouTube and other similar sites of “huge planes with large wingspans flying in formation over Colorado and Nevada.” Between December 19 and 21 of 2019, England’s second busiest airport was closed for about 33 hours, canceling hundreds of flights and affecting over 100,000 passengers because of confusing drones and alien invasions. There are always religionists and atheists who will attempt to use these sightings to promote their agenda. There are many causes for people to see things in the sky that they don’t understand. Satellites, stars, planets, planes, meteors, the International Space Station, military flares, helicopters, and now drones are on the list of reported UFOs.

Drones are used by journalists, photographers, police, railways, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, surveyors, Amazon.com, the military, and hobbyists. When it comes to drones and alien invasions, the Colorado Department of Public Safety issued an update on January 13, 2020, stating that they found no incidents that did not have a good explanation.

Some people claim that we need help from aliens to live successfully. They fail to realize that the instructions on how to live are available, and people all over the world are living by them. They are simply following the teachings of Christ. (I don’t mean the teachings of any religious person.) It isn’t that we don’t know what to do. We need to eliminate the greed, selfishness, ignorance, and desire for fame and notoriety that is producing the new wave of claims of extraterrestrial visitation. This was the case in the past, and history is merely repeating itself. Even the entertainment industry is jumping on board with a new movie about the return of E.T.

We want to say again that we are not suggesting that there is no life elsewhere in the cosmos, and the Bible doesn’t say that either. What we have, however, is many vulnerable people being exploited because of their loss of faith in God. That has caused them to search in the wrong places for a better and a more abundant way to live. That is true of both secular and religious shysters. Jesus said “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). That doesn’t mean buying into any human-made religion or personality. It means living as Christ has called us to live.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from Skeptical Inquirer, March/April 2020, page 6.

Advancement of Euthanasia

Advancement of Euthanasia

One of the spin offs of the approval of abortion has been the advancement of euthanasia. In virtually every country that has approved abortion, there has been an eventual acceptance of euthanasia, allowing a doctor to administer fatal drugs to a patient.

Abortion was instituted in Portugal in 2007, and in February 2020, Portugal’s parliament approved euthanasia for terminally ill people. Portugal now joins six other countries in sanctioning euthanasia – Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. In the United States, medically assisted suicide is permitted in which patients administer the lethal drug themselves.

The issues involved in the advancement of euthanasia are very complex. No one wants a loved one to continue suffering when eventual recovery does not seem to be possible. I have a family member who is in that situation. Prostate and Bone cancer have progressed to brain cancer, and the burden to family caregivers, the expense, and the level of pain present are all huge issues. In the progress of the disease, who would decide to administer euthanasia? The patient may not be able to make it. Family members may not want the emotional strain of making the decision, and who would trust the decision to the state? Other factors include when did the patient realize they were going to die? How important is closure for those left behind, especially children? Can doctors be wrong about a terminal diagnosis?

First Corinthians 3:16-17 tells us that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. The context of that passage and others is that God uses His children to reach out through His Spirit to help others. Paul, in Philippians 1:20-30, talks about being ready to die. He wrote, “For I am in a strait between the two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is far better. Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” He talks about how he can help others and, for that reason, wants to continue to live.

One of the banners carried by protesters in Portugal says, “Euthanasia doesn’t end suffering, it ends life.” That is so very true. It isn’t the end of suffering for family, for friends, for those you have tried to teach, for those considering their own lives. In this day, there is no reason for physical suffering because medical science has ways to stop the physical pain. Ending life prematurely will generate pain for others. How long will it be after euthanasia is accepted before the state will determine who should survive and who should be euthanized?

The fundamental factor in the advancement of euthanasia centers around the value of a human being. If we consider humans to be special and created in the image of God, then human life is sacrosanct. Animal life does not have that same image of God, and survival of the fittest is in control in the animal world. If humans are just animals, then killing a human is no more of a problem than killing a bug. In that case, inconvenient or unfit humans, like all other animals, can just be eliminated. This is not a trivial issue, but one that deserves thoughtful attention.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from Associated Press, 2/21/20.

What Is Faith?

What Is Faith?

Recently an atheist challenged me on the notion of faith. His definition was, “Faith is jumping to a conclusion when you don’t know the answer.” He went on to say that faith is not a virtue. He was following a version of the “god of gaps” concept, which says that God is what you invent when you can’t explain something. It views faith as a negative, blind response that stifles the individual and stops the thinking process cold. Truly, then, what is faith?

The definition of faith in the Bible is ambiguous. Two Greek words are translated “faith.” One is “elpis” used in passages like Hebrews 10:23. The other is “pistis” used in passages like Hebrews 11:1. The lexicon tells us that “elpis” refers to hope. If you look at Hebrews 10:23, you can see that the use is not blind, but general. “Pistis” refers to steadiness or steadfastness, but it is not blind.

Much of modern science is based on faith. The “big bang theory” is a faith concept. It is based on a great deal of evidence, but it cannot be tested or falsified in any way. We might be more inclined to call it a conclusion than a faith. Evolution is based on several acts of faith. One of those is uniformitarianism, which says that no process has operated in the past that is not operational today. Natural selection (survival of the fittest) is a faith concept. We repeatedly find situations where the fittest don’t survive, so we have to modify the concept. Evidence becomes a factor here. Can we find a cause for the fit not surviving?

Quantum mechanics started as a faith. Hebrews 11:3 tells us that “through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” As scientific research progressed, scientists saw evidence that led them to believe (have faith) that what they observed was being caused by things that they couldn’t see or detect at the time. What is faith if it is not built gradually on evidence?

Hebrews 11 describes in detail what it means to have faith in God and act on His instructions. Various cases are highlighted to illustrate people who acted by faith without a practical understanding of why they were doing what they were doing. Did they do it blindly? Abraham, for example, is one of those whom the Hebrew writer tells us functioned by faith. Did Abraham act blindly? As you read the history of the life of Abraham, you see that he had many experiences that built his faith. This history is reviewed in Hebrews 11:8-19. Reading his story in Genesis, you see Abraham having experience after experience, which gave him a steadfast faith to sustain him.

What is faith to us? Why is our faith different? The answer to that is evidence. Our experiences in life, our education, our study, our failures, our successes, and what we have seen, can all build our faith in God, or destroy it. Faith is never blind. Our faith is either something that works, builds us up, and blesses us, or leads us to despair and destructive actions. Hebrews 11 describes what faith can accomplish. Verses 33-40 tell us that through faith, people have “subdued kingdoms, brought righteousness, obtained promises … God having provided a better thing for us.”

This ministry exists to build up faith and give all of us confidence that ultimately we will have something better. That is our most enduring faith, and massive amounts of evidence support it.

— 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.

Potential Problems of Prayer in Public Schools

Potential Problems of Prayer in Public Schools

As a public high school science teacher with 41 years of experience, I have watched with interest the struggle over school prayer. We recently reported on the United States government easing restrictions. At the same time, we must be cautious about potential problems of prayer in public schools.

At one time, I taught at Jackson High School in South Bend, Indiana. The school was aware that I traveled on weekends giving lectures on why I believe God exists. They decided to allow the students an opportunity to hear my presentations. There were some atheist attempts to get me fired for doing that, but they had failed. Even though I traveled on weekends, I never missed a day of school because of the lectureships. I also never brought my material into the classroom. I was hired to teach physics, chemistry, and earth science, and that is what I did. I gave my presentations during what was called “mini-courses” during the homeroom period. The students could choose to hear me in the school auditorium, or use the swimming pool, or shoot baskets in the gym, or attend a class on ballroom dancing, or play cards in the cafeteria. The school enrollment was around 1600, and we had over 1000 who came to the auditorium.

Contrast that experience with what has happened in recent years. We have mentioned cases where students received disciplinary action for mentioning their faith in graduation exercises. Coaches have been fired for kneeling in silent prayer before or after a game. All of this has prompted the Family Research Council (FRC) to draw up what they call the “Declaration of Religious Rights in Public School.” The document says that students do not lose their constitutional rights of religious freedom and free speech when they step onto school grounds. As long as it does not interrupt instructional time:

1) Students can pray, read their Bible and other religious material, and talk about their faith at school.

2) Students can organize prayer groups or religious clubs and promote the meetings.

3) Students can express their faith in classwork and homework.

4) Teachers can organize prayer groups and Bible studies with other teachers.

5) Students may be able to go off campus to have religious studies during school hours.

6) Students can express their faith at a school event.

7) Students can express their faith at their graduation ceremony.

I’m sure that the FRC had lawyers involved in preparing this, and many of their ideas are very good. But they may be an invitation to potential problems of prayer in public schools. They may not understand what goes on in a public high school like James Whitcomb Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana, where I taught in for 41 years. For example, how do you control students going off campus? Maybe their religion promotes free love and rejection of parents. Are kids allowed to go for all religious classes? If not, which ones? Is the school facility going to be used to have meetings of religious clubs, and, if so, who is responsible for what goes on? If one student expresses their faith at a school event, do you have to allow every student who has a faith of any kind to share it? These are a few of the potential problems of prayer in public schools.

Jesus made it clear that the Church is not to be a part of the state (Matthew 22:21 ). If the state is providing education in math, English, science, etc., it cannot become an arena of religious conflict. A politician can have a religious faith, but the floor of the congress is not the place to promote doctrinal principles. The public school cannot be that either.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

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.

Importance of Ice in Earth’s Design

Importance of Ice in Earth's Design - Snow on Mountains

In a recent discussion about global warming, a man said to me that we would be better of if we could get rid of all the ice on Earth. I’m sure some of that sentiment came because we were in the midst of an ice storm. We get lots of snow in Michigan, but when the temperature is zero degrees outside, we don’t see freezing rain, just snow. Another member of the discussion pointed out the need for ice so he could do his favorite sport of ice fishing. In truth, the importance of ice is more than just ice-fishing or winter sports.

The design of the water molecule allows us to have ice, and without it, planet Earth would be in serious trouble. The water molecule is polar, meaning that it has a positive end and a negative end. When water freezes, the positive end of one molecule attaches to the negative end of another molecule. If the temperature is low enough, we have a rigid form of water we call ice.

Many people don’t realize the importance of ice. It is a major design feature of Earth and its ecosystems. Ice has a lower density than liquid water, which allows lakes to freeze from the top. That provides winter protection for all the life that lives in water environments. Marine and freshwater life-forms of both animals and plants could not exist if it were not for the design of the water molecule and the formation of ice.

Ice is also a significant controller of the water cycle on Earth. Job 37:6 indicates that snow is a conscious creation of God. Job 38:22 speaks of the “treasures of the snow” which God says He has “reserved against a time of trouble.” People living in the western United States can tell you of the importance of snow and ice, which locks up water in the winter so that it is available during the heat of the summer. If all the ice on planet Earth melted, what would happen to the sea level? There are debates about how much the oceans would rise, but there is no question but that the state of Florida would be submerged.

Ice in the form of snow cleans our air. It provides insulation in very cold places allowing mammals to survive underground during the winter months. We should not underestimate the importance of ice because it is truly a treasure in whatever form it comes. We must do what we can to maintain the water cycle and the balance that God built into the design of planet Earth.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Flood Geology and John C. Whitcomb

Flood Geology in the Grand Canyon

The co-author of The Genesis Flood, John C. Whitcomb Jr., passed away on February 4, 2020. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris wrote the book advocating Flood Geology and supporting Young Earth Creationism.

Morris was an engineer, and Whitcomb was a theologian. John C. Whitcomb was long associated with Grace Theological Seminary, where he received his degree and taught until 1990. Grace is located in Winona Lake, Indiana, and associated with the Grace Brethren Church, which has Anabaptist and Calvinist roots.

Whitcomb and Morris used the so-called Flood Geology to fit scientific data into their religious beliefs. Ronald Numbers, the author of the book The Creationists, says, “By showing how the deluge of Noah compressed earth history into no more than 10,000 years, Whitcomb and Morris at one stroke eliminated the need for ‘biblical gymnastics’ and deprived evolutionists of the time required for the natural origin of species.”

The problem with their approach was that neither of them was trained in geology. Many of those reading The Genesis Flood were also not trained in geology and had grown up in a religious tradition that demanded a young earth. Dispensationalists hailed the book as gospel, and end times teachers and preachers used it extensively as a source of information. The result was the wide acceptance of Flood Geology as the book became a best-seller.

We are dealing with a different population in the 21st century. Young people today have had academic training in geology and earth science. National Geographic, Smithsonian, and Scientific American have popularized modern understanding of the facts of astronomy and geology. Most of us know that the cosmos is larger than 6,000 light-years, indicating that the light from distant stars has been traveling for far longer than 6,000 years. In places such as the Grand Canyon, we can see rock layers that contain fossils that were clearly not produced by a flood. Anyone with basic geology knows the difference between a clastic sedimentary rock and a chemically precipitated rock. That understanding tells us that a flood did not produce structures like the Grand Canyon since they are mostly made up of rocks that are never associated with a flood.

Flood Geology, which Whitcomb and Morris wrote about in 1961, will not stand up in 2020. Students of the Bible today know that the Genesis account is not dated or timed. They know that attempts to use the Bible as a clock of history are not only bad theology but violate the intent of the writers. For more on this discussion, please read “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word,” which is available free at THIS LINK.

We need to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent. John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris spoke where the Bible is silent. Today many of those who believe that their message accurately presents what the Bible teaches are leaving the Christian faith and looking for more plausible explanations. The “Does God Exist” ministry is dedicated to showing people that God does exist, that He is the Creator, and that the Bible is God’s inspired Word. We do not defend the claims of those who have twisted God’s Word to fit their human theological beliefs.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Drake Equation and Planet Civilizations

Drake Equation author Frank Drake

In the long history of looking for life elsewhere in the cosmos, one of the exciting discoveries has been learning the things a planet needs to support life. In 1961, American astronomer Frank Drake proposed what is called the Drake Equation. He was looking for a way to calculate the number of inhabited planets in our galaxy with which communication might be possible. Drake’s equation lists seven parameters that would determine the answer to that question. They are:

1) The rate of formation of stars in our galaxy.

2) The fraction of those stars with planetary systems.

3) The number of planets per solar system with an environment suitable for life.

4) The fraction of suitable planets on which life actually appears.

5) The fraction of life-bearing planets on which intelligent life emerges.

6) The fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space.

7) The length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.

If you knew each of these probabilities, you could calculate how many planets in our galaxy might be inhabited by intelligent beings with whom we could communicate. Drake gave each of these parameters a number or probability, but they were wild guesses. Once you have the numbers, all you need to do is multiply each of these variables by each other.

Let me explain. What are the odds of drawing the ace of spaces from a card deck twice in a row back to back? The odds of drawing one ace of spades out of a full deck is 1 out of 52 since there are 52 cards in a deck. To calculate the odds of doing that twice in a row would be 1 out of 52 times one out of 52. You multiply the individual probabilities, so the total probability would be one out of 2704. If you knew the likelihood of each parameter in the Drake equation, multiplying them together would give you the theoretical odds that we could receive radio communication from intelligent life on another planet in our galaxy.

Going back to the card analogy, if you drew one time out of a deck of 52 cards, the odds would be one out of 52. If you drew the ace of spades 52 times in a row, the number would be astronomical since you would multiply the result 52 times! The problem with the Drake equation is that the parameters are unknown and are probably unknowable.

There are also variables that the Drake equation didn’t include, such as the type of star. For example, a supermassive star will have a very short life expectancy. Researchers at Rice University reported in January of 2020 that many stars have extended magnetic fields which overlap the Goldilocks zones of most exoplanets. (As we have explained before, we say that a planet is in the Goldilocks zone when it can contain water in the liquid state). These strong magnetic fields will strip away any atmosphere the planet might have. Our Sun has a magnetic field, but it is not strong enough to strip electrons from atoms and molecules in the Goldilocks zone where Earth is located.

More variables regularly show up, and they tell us that our solar system and Sun have been carefully designed and formatted so that we can exist. Psalms 1:19 continues to take on new meaning with every discovery we make in space. “The heavens (do) declare the glory of God, and the firmament (does) show His handiwork.”

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: Astronomy magazine March 2020, page 9.

Frank Drake was involved in the founding of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), which we have discussed previously HERE and HERE and HERE.

Holy Spirit’s Work and Nonsense

Holy Spirit's Work and Nonsense

Skeptics of Christianity frequently challenge the concept of the Holy Spirit. That criticism is mainly due to the denominational world’s claims of miraculous acts by their religious leaders. There is no question that God can perform whatever miracles He chooses. However, many claims of the Holy Spirit entering and taking over a person are not only illogical, but they violate biblical teaching about the Holy Spirit’s work.

Numerous books have been written on the Holy Spirit, but from an apologetic standpoint, we must see what the Bible says:

1) In Acts 2:38-39, Peter promised the Holy Spirit to all those who are baptized into Christ, not just to an elite church group.

2) Jesus promised to send the Spirit as a “Comforter.” The Greek word is “parakletos,” which means “one called alongside.” The Holy Spirit helps us in our Christian life but does not make us robots (John 14:15-17).

3) The Holy Spirit’s work is primarily spiritual, not physical (Ephesians 3:16-20). The Holy Spirit is not here to allow us to handle poisonous snakes, raise the dead, or calm physical storms today. The Spirit helps our prayer life (Romans 8:26-28) and helps us to be patient (Galatians 5:22-26). The Holy Spirit enables us to us give freely (2 Corinthians 8:1-7, Acts 20:35) and to live moral lives (Galatians 5:16-26, Romans 6:1-23, 8:1-17). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can reach out to others (Romans 8:16), and use the gifts we are given (1 Corinthians 12:1-13).

4) The Spirit gives us the power, but He doesn’t force us to act. He nudges us but doesn’t overpower us (Acts 7:48-51, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22). John 14:15-17 tells us that the skeptic will not accept the Spirit. Rejecting God’s help makes life become a burden, not a joy.

The promises of Jesus, such as Matthew 7:7-11, are primarily spiritual. Becoming a Christian to get rich or have political power is a nonsense understanding of the Holy Spirit’s work.

— John N. Clayton © 2020