Happiness Is Beyond Reach

Happiness Is Beyond Reach

Before COVID, the World Health Organization announced that depression was the most widespread illness in the world. Even with COVID, that is probably still true. The Yale College Council has found that more than half of undergraduates sought mental health care from the university during their time of enrollment. In his book Straw Dogs, Atheist John Gray wrote, “Drug use is a tacit admission of a forbidden truth in Western Culture. What is that truth? It is that for most people happiness is beyond reach.”

The information above came from the chapter “Our Never-Ending Pursuit of Happiness” in Richard E. Simmon’s book Reflections on the Existence of God. (You can read our review of that book HERE.) Simmons also quoted from a book by Dr. Armand Nicholi of Harvard Medical School titled The Question of God. Dr. Nicholi says that one of the major causes of depression is a person’s worldview. We must point out that there are different kinds of depression, and medical causes of depression must be treated medically. However, that is not the point Nicholi was making.

An evidence for the validity of Christianity is that the teachings of Jesus Christ give a worldview that leads to fulfillment and happiness. If you have bought into a worldview that says there is no God, then finding happiness is only available to those who are “the fittest.” In that case, happiness is beyond reach because no matter who we are, we will eventually not be the fittest. Older adults struggle with the fact that they can no longer do what they did 50 years ago. The whole euthanasia issue is rooted in this realization.

For Christians, there is joy in seeing fruit in living the life Christ has called us to live. We find fulfillment in being able to give time, support, and encouragement to others. Jesus taught, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In other words, there is more happiness in giving than in receiving. We don’t have to be rich to give time, care, and love to others. Joy comes from having a worldview that says whatever happens in this life, it is the worst I will ever have to endure. Christ assures us of hope for something much better.

If you haven’t gotten involved in a service organization, you are missing something that combats depression. Join a local effort to help those in need and enjoy the company of people who are joyously serving others. Churches operate food banks and homes for the homeless. Dozens of organizations such as the Carter Center, Habitat for Humanity, Feeding America, Kids Wish, Americans Helping Americans, and Heifer International enable people to get involved in meeting the needs of others. Every time I have been involved in local or national programs like those, I have received more than I gave. It is hard to be depressed when you are a part of something bigger than yourself, reflecting the Christian worldview.

For most of us, we can do something about our depression. On the other hand, those who reject God and the Christian worldview will find the alternative only leads to frustration and the realization that happiness is beyond reach. If you are clinically depressed, please seek medical help. However, if you are just “down,” get up and get involved in some of the things Jesus talked about in Matthew 25:34-40. Happiness is not beyond reach.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

We have used other quotes from Richard E. Simmons III HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands

Visiting the Galapagos Islands - Galapagos Tortoise
Galapagos Tortoise

In 2013, we had the blessing of visiting the Galapagos Islands, and we spent some time at the Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora. When Charles Darwin studied the living creatures on the Galapagos, what he saw precipitated his understanding of how God’s design in nature works. At the time of Darwin, organized religion taught that every living thing on Earth was created independently by God, and Darwin had been indoctrinated with that belief. However, the Bible does not say that. 

While visiting the Galapagos Islands, Darwin examined the tortoises, iguanas, penguins, finches, sea lions, and other life forms. It made him realize that each creature had characteristics that enabled them to survive on each island’s habitat. The variations were minor, but they ensured survival, and it was clear that not all of the islands were of the same age. This led, 1859, to the publication of his book On The Origin of Species and to what Darwin called “evolution by natural selection.”

Darwin did not view his studies as contradicting the Bible. Furthermore, neither did anyone I talked with at Darwin Station or any other research facility in the Galapagos. In I Corinthians 15:39, Paul defines the various forms of life as the flesh of fish, the flesh of birds, the flesh of beasts, and the flesh of man. He did not say flesh of bluebird, the flesh of robin, the flesh of crow, the flesh of hawk, etc. It was not Darwin’s research but speculations that grew out of Darwin’s work that put human guesses at odds with the Bible.

Since 2013, genetic studies have shown that the animals in the Galapagos came from somewhere else. DNA sequencing has shown that the giant Galapagos tortoises have relatives living on the west coast of South America. The DNA sequences are over 90% identical. Because of the modifications, the tortoises can live in the Galapagos, where conditions are very different from South America. The Galapagos sea lion is almost identical to the California sea lion. The marine iguanas in the Galapagos are basically the same as the land lizards in Mexico and Central America. The Galapagos penguin is a virtual twin to the banded penguins of Peru. The DNA sequences give a clear picture of how the volcanic islands of the Galapagos became inhabited.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands in 1831-1836, Darwin didn’t have any way of knowing the genomes of these creatures, but he saw the similarities. We know that animals can be transported long distances by hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, and floating debris. The animals that migrated to the Galapagos adapted to what they found. For example, Iguanas adapted to eating marine algae, and they multiplied in the Galapagos.

We are now using the design that God built into life and what we learned in the Galapagos to produce plants and animals that can provide more food and more nutritious food. The study of genetics is opening doors to our understanding of how to “take care of the garden (planet earth)” that God has placed in our care (Genesis 2:15). Let us do that wisely.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

You can learn more about our visit to the Galapagos Islands from the Does God Exist? Journal for May/June 2013. It is available to read on the doesgodexist.org website at THIS LINK. Another reference used in this post is the Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Indiana, for October 9, 2021, page B5. 

Earth Is Spinning on its Axis

Earth Is Spinning on its Axis

Earth is spinning on its axis, and we can be thankful that it’s spinning at the right speed for life to exist.

If the Earth turned too slowly, surface temperatures would warm too much during the day and cool too much at night. Under those conditions, plants could not survive the long periods of darkness. If plants didn’t survive, animals and humans could not survive either.

If Earth rotated too fast, the temperature would go through wild extremes. Furthermore, a faster spin rate would create strong and dangerous cyclonic winds because of the Coriolis force. Jupiter spins nearly three times as fast as Earth, and astronomers can observe severe tornado and hurricane-like disturbances on its surface.

Earth’s spin rate is slowing and will continue to do so just as a spinning top slows down. However, there is no need to worry because the slowing is very gradual, lengthening the day by less than two milliseconds in a hundred years.

It’s the rotation of Earth on its axis that gives us day and night. In Genesis 1:14, we read about God moving away the clouds of darkness to reveal the Sun, Moon, and stars, which He had created in verse 1. Genesis 1:2 tells us that darkness covered the planet, and in Job 38:9, God tells us that the darkness was because of a garment of clouds. We need daylight for activities of life and night as a time of rest. Every animal, even insects, needs sleep. To thrive, plants also need a daily period of darkness.

Earth is spinning on its axis, and our day and night cycle is one of the many factors that make Earth the “Goldilocks” place–“just right” for humans to live. The chance of all those factors coming together by accident is beyond the realm of probability. Therefore, we suggest that this planet is not an accident but part of a divine design requiring a Designer.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

The Bible Reports Human History Without Condoning It

The Bible Reports Human History Without Condoning It

As we pointed out yesterday, critics of the Bible say that it describes many disgusting stories. Of course, that is true, but the critics fail to realize that the Bible accurately reports human history without condoning it.

The Bible does not even whitewash its heroes. David’s horrible sin with Bathsheba is reported, but it certainly is not endorsed. A man named Jephthah makes a vow that he will sacrifice to God whatever comes out of his house if God gives him a victory (Judges 11:30-40). God did not command that, and He has always discouraged careless vows on the part of His people. In this case, Jephthah’s daughter was the first thing that came out to him after the victory. This was not a case of God commanding human sacrifice as atheists have claimed. Exactly what was done with the girl can be argued, but the message is about vows, not a command of God to engage in human sacrifice. The incident is reported but certainly was not condoned or commanded by God.

Another example is Judges 20:5-7, where a woman is raped and killed. Then her body is cut into pieces, and the parts are sent throughout Israel to rally a response to the crime. Again, this awful story is a news report, not a religious act done at the command of God.

We all know that whatever is on the news is not something the channel or the news reporter necessarily endorses. In the same way, the Bible reports human history without condoning it.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

This article was adapted from The Source: Eternal Design or Infinite Accident? (page 101) by John N. Clayton. This book is available for purchase HERE.

God Tolerates Human Actions He Does Not Desire

God Tolerates Human Actions He Does Not Desire - The Bible

Critics of the Bible say that it describes many disgusting stories. However, they are missing the point that God tolerates human actions He does not desire.

Polygamy is a good example. We all know that many biblical characters had more than one wife–especially in the Old Testament. In Genesis 2:24, God said the man was to have one wife, and that man and wife were to become one. Despite that, Lamech takes two wives in Genesis 4:19-22.

In Deuteronomy 17:17, God commands one wife, but Solomon takes hundreds of wives as God pleads with him not to do it (1 Kings 11:1-10). God is tolerant and does not force the issue, but the Bible shows the problems created by having multiple wives and refusing to do what God said.

In the New Testament, Jesus tells the Jews that God tolerated these things “because of the hardness of your hearts” (Matthew 19:3-9). However, when God gave instructions for the church leaders called bishops and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:2, 12, He specified that they were to have only one wife. What God wanted for marriage is described in Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1 Corinthians 7:2-5.

God never commanded polygamy. He warned against it and tried to teach humans what a wonderful thing marriage could be with one man and one woman for life. Tragically, that concept has been lost today, but God tolerates human actions He does not desire.

Human actions are often contrary to God’s will. We will continue along this line of thought tomorrow.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

This article was adapted from The Source: Eternal Design or Infinite Accident? (page 100) by John N. Clayton. This book is available for purchase HERE.

CCL Center is a Valuable New Resource

CCL Center is a Valuable New Resource

On October 9-10, we attended a seminar on archaeology presented by Dr. Rick Bullard at the new CCL Center in Florence, Kentucky. We also toured the Elliott Library and Museum located there. Suppose you are interested in historical books dating back to the early 17th century, original bibles, archaeological finds, and a library with books and artifacts related to the Restoration Movement. In that case, this is a learning center you should visit.

The Christian Church Leadership Center is unique in that it houses rare items not found in any other museum. The library’s curator is Jim Lloyd, and he has a thorough understanding of the books and the issues relating to the history of religion in America. Dr. David Fincher, president of Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri, was our host and the man behind the CCL project. In addition, he has connections with David Lipscomb University in Nashville and York College in Nebraska, home of the Clayton Museum of Ancient History.

We also enjoyed talking at length with Dr. William Custer, an expert in apologetics and the philosophy of religion. Custer is a graduate of the University of Chicago and an associate of Norman Geissler. These men and the CCL Center are interested in working with Does God Exist? to provide apologetics training to leaders in Churches of Christ and Christian Churches.

The CCL Center is offering monthly Saturday presentations by respected scholars on apologetics and topics related to the Restoration Movement. The session we attended, led by Dr. Bullard, was titled “Archaeology and the Bible: Stories and Artifacts.” Dr. Bullard is an archaeology professor who has spent many weeks on actual digs in the Holy Land. His father, Dr. Reuben Bullard, was a well-known archeologist and author of many books and articles. The program included lunch and a tour of the library and museum. For information about upcoming sessions, visit their website at the link below.

The CCL Center is about a 20-minute drive from the young earth Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter theme park. It is a tragedy that many people who visit those commercialized dispensational museums are unaware of the CCL Center with its positive biblical teaching. Attending sessions at the CCL Center is much less expensive, and the library and museum do not charge. We recommend the CCL Center as a new opportunity for solid biblical learning in the Cincinnati area.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

For coming events at the CCL Center: ccleadership.org/events/

For information about the Elliott Library: elliottlibrary.org/

Location: 8095 Connector Drive, Florence, Kentucky

Phone: 513-375-2645

Domestic Violence and Christianity

Domestic Violence and Christianity

Domestic violence is a major problem in the United States today. The Cora Lamping Center reports that one in four women and one in nine men experience intimate partner violence. We suggest that Christianity is the one belief system that directly addresses this issue. Ephesians 5:22-33 spells out the Christian system of domestic relationships:

“You wives must learn to adapt yourselves to your husbands as you submit yourselves to the Lord … Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. The love a man gives his wife is the extending of his love for himself to enfold her … But as for you individually, you must each of you love his own wife exactly as if she were yourself and the wife must see to it that she deeply respects her husband…” (Phillips translation)

Galatians 3:28 adds to this view by describing the equality of all humans in the Christian system. “All distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female, have vanished for in union with Christ you are all one.”

Many religions teach that women are inferior to men and have a servant role. While Christianity assigns roles to men and to women, the equality and rights of men and women are clear. The most basic cause of domestic violence is an unwillingness to follow what God has told us about relationships with one another. The media and proponents of evolution suggest that our lives are driven by “survival of the fittest,” and we have to “look after #1,” meaning ourselves. 

Why are premarital sex and cohabitation rapidly increasing in our culture? If a man can get what he wants and then walk away from the relationship, his investment is minimized. Marriage, as described in Ephesians and Galatians, involves sacrifice and patience. It isn’t hard to understand the reason for domestic violence. The only real answer is for men and women together to look to God for the strength to live and love as He intended. Becoming “one” and following God’s plan works. Alternatives do not work and lead to frustration and destructive results. 

— John N. Clayton © 2021

The Cora Lamping Center is a division of the Avenue Family Network. Their website is www.theavenue.ngo, and their 24-hour crisis helpline is 888-237-1891.

Illness Is in the Blood or Life Is in the Blood

Illness Is in the Blood or Life Is in the Blood

The year was 1799. A farmer was working hard supervising farming activities from horseback through snow, hail, and rain. The next day, despite a sore throat, he was back out in the snow. That night he woke with difficulty breathing. In those days, it was common practice to bleed a person who was ill. Doctors, believing that illness is in the blood, sought to cure it by removing some of the person’s blood.

A supervisor on the farm opened the man’s vein and drained half a pint of blood.
The farmer was not getting better. The family doctor arrived and bled the patient a second time with still no improvement. That doctor sent for another doctor, and while waiting for the second doctor to come, he bled the patient a third time. When the second doctor did not arrive, they sent for a third doctor. Then the patient was bled a fourth time, this time removing a quart of blood. Within two days from the time he first developed a sore throat, George Washington was dead at age 67.

What was the problem that led to the death of our first president—the man we call the father of our country? Believing that illness is in the blood, medical doctors ignored a simple truth found in the Bible. Leviticus 17:11 clearly says, “the life of a creature is in the blood.” Since life is in the blood, draining a person’s blood is not the way to cure a person’s illness. It’s a way to end a person’s life. It took thousands of years for medical science to catch up with the wisdom of the Bible.

After feeding thousands of people with five barley loaves and two fish, questioners confronted Jesus. He told them, “…it is my father who gives you the true bread from heaven (John 6:32). He went on to say, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).” Then, in perhaps the most shocking statement of all, Jesus spoke in a figurative sense. He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man (Jesus’ most common name for himself) and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:53-54).”

Life is in the blood. That is true of any creature or person. Moses knew it because of divine revelation, not from human wisdom. We can see evidence for the accuracy of the Bible in this and many other ways. However, the blood of Jesus Christ sacrificed for us on the cross is the ultimate source of life. As John wrote, “…the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Eternal life is in the blood of Jesus.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Benefit of Vaccines

Benefit of Vaccines

The above data compiled by health policy columnist Dr. Richard Feldman shows the benefit of vaccines. Using available public health data, he researched the prevalence of those diseases before science developed vaccines against them. He then adjusted for population growth and projected what the numbers could be today without a vaccine. Then, he listed the recent number of reported cases. The chart above shows only some of his statistics. You can find his complete article at THIS LINK.

A basic Bible principle is that you can judge the validity of something by its fruit. Jesus said it clearly, “You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes out of thorns or figs out of thistles? Every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:15-18). In this passage, Jesus was talking about false prophets, but the principle can apply to “false prophets” who tell people to avoid vaccines. God’s design of the human immune system and an understanding of diseases has resulted in “good fruit.” of vaccines that save lives.

The COVID virus is going to add another set of numbers. Because medical science understands some of the design in God’s creation, we have the benefit of vaccines. God can provide us with the tools to improve our lives, but He will not force us to use what He gives us. That is true of every teaching of Jesus, and it is true of COVID.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Ultimate Meaning, Purpose, and Morality

Ultimate Meaning, Purpose, and Morality in God's Creation

I enjoy watching BBC’s video programs “Planet Earth” and “The Blue Planet” written and narrated by David Attenborough. Those programs display the fantastic beauty and design of this planet and its many living creatures. Seeing the way planet Earth’s systems work together like a well-designed machine fills me with awe. However, I find it amazing that Attenborough believes that this incredible beauty and structure came about by mere chance and natural selection without any design, purpose, or meaning. How can he not realize that ultimate meaning, purpose, and morality come from the God who created these wonders?

In his book Miracles, Christian philosopher C.S. Lewis refers to unbelievers as “naturalists.” He wrote, “A moment after they have admitted that good and evil are illusions, you will find them exhorting us to work for posterity, to educate, revolutionise, liquidate, live and die for the good of the human race.” Lewis called that “very odd.” Attenborough teaches us about the beautiful design of our planet without a Designer. He advocates for the environment, even though that environment may have no ultimate purpose or meaning. A BBC interviewer once asked Attenborough if he ever had any religious faith, and he replied “no.” He said, “It never really occurred to me to believe in God.”

When asked why he does not believe in a creator, Attenborough will point out what he considers an evil creature, such as the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus that infects children’s eyes in tropical climates. He said creationists believe that God created each individual species, so why would “an all-merciful God who cares for each of us individually” make a creature like that. However, as John Clayton has pointed out many times, the Bible says God created “kinds” of animals, not each individual species. (See Genesis 1:11, 12, 21, 24, and 25.) But then He specially created the first humans in His image (Genesis 1:27).

Attenborough strongly advocates for various environmentalist causes telling us what we ought or ought not to do. C.S. Lewis said that those who don’t believe in God often tell us what we ought to do, but their natural impulses can say nothing about objective right or wrong. Lewis wrote, “Do they remember while they are writing thus that when they tell us we ‘ought to make a better world’ the words ‘ought’ and ‘better’ must, on their own showing, refer to an irrationally conditioned impulse which cannot be true or false any more than a vomit or a yawn?”

Lewis goes on to say that if we make moral judgments, “then we must believe that the conscience of man is not a product of Nature.” He writes that it “can be valid only if it is an offshoot of some absolute moral wisdom…” In other words, ultimate meaning, purpose, and morality come from God, not evolution.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

References: Miracles by C.S. Lewis, and “David Attenborough” on Wikipedia