Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Why Does God Allow Suffering?Why does God allow suffering? That is one of the most common questions we hear. Many atheists who comment on our posts try to prove that God cannot exist because there is suffering in the world. They are assuming that if God existed, His purpose would be to give us happiness all the time. Since He doesn’t, that means God can’t possibly exist.

That mindset assumes that we are God’s pets, and His responsibility is to see that we don’t get hurt no matter what we do. There is no doubt that we do many foolish and hurtful things. So why do we think that God should be our servant to keep us always happy as if happiness is the primary goal of life?

However, if God does exist (as we believe He does), He should have a more important goal than taking care to always provide us with what we think we need to be happy. What happens if human parents bow to every whim of their children by always giving them what they want and expect? The result is a spoiled child. Sometimes after warnings to a child, the parent has to stand by and watch the child make bad decisions in the hope that they will learn from their mistakes.

What if the primary goal of human life is not happiness? What if the primary goal is to learn to know and trust God? It is that knowledge of and trust in God that will bring–if not continual happiness–true fulfillment and ultimately, everlasting fulfillment. Why does God allow suffering? Although the suffering in this world may be counterproductive to our happiness, it might help us to gain a deeper knowledge of God and dependence on His love.

We can’t explain suffering in all of its forms. Nobody can. We can’t see the ultimate purpose and outcome from where we stand, but God can. We can be reassured by knowing that God Himself is acquainted with suffering (Isaiah 53:3) and that He cares (John 11:35).
— Roland Earnst © 2019

Death and Taxes

Death and TaxesYou have heard it said that nothing is certain but death and taxes. The truth is that only one of those things is certain. Not only will every one of us die, but every government that collects taxes will also die. It’s a scientific fact that all things, even the universe itself, will come to an end. There is no escaping death for everyone and everything.

The second law of thermodynamics tells us everything in the universe is becoming disordered. The disorder will eventually catch up with us and with everything else. Our vehicles wear out. Our clothing wears out. Our bodies wear out. Even the Sun and all of the other stars will wear out.

If you spend your life getting all you can for yourself, not caring whom you hurt in the process, you will not take your riches with you. If you spend your life doing good and helping others, those you helped will also die, and the monuments you built will crumble. If you devote your life to studying science and adding to the database of human knowledge, that too will go away. If all things in the universe, including humans, are merely accidents of chance, we ultimately have no purpose, no value, and no hope.

If you have read this far, you may be feeling depressed, but I have good news. There is a God who created the universe, and you, for a purpose. Yes, your body will die, and even the universe will die. But by God’s grace, you can choose to live on. God has entered the time dimension in human form and conquered death for us. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, though they die, yet shall they live.”

How is it possible to live beyond death? In the beginning, God created time and space, matter, and energy. Those things do not limit Him because He created them. The second law of thermodynamics does not apply to God. He does not get old or die. The Bible tells us that because of God’s love and grace, you have the choice to believe and accept and live with God in a new creation. Yes, you can live beyond death and taxes. The choice is yours.
— Roland Earnst © 2019

LGBTQ Lifestyles and God

LGBTQ Lifestyles and GodIn yesterday’s post, we said that homosexuality is perhaps the most inflammatory issue of our day. We emphasized that even though Bible passages such as Romans 1:24-28 condemn homosexual behavior, Christians must have love and compassion for everyone, including those with LGBTQ lifestyles. We concluded by saying that there are probably many causes of homosexuality, but God is not one of them. What are some possible causes and consequences?

Ellen DeGeneres is a well-known gay celebrity and advocate for LGBTQ lifestyles. She recently shared her early life publicly and told of horrible abuse by her stepfather. Many times victims are abused in infancy. Environmental issues may also be involved, and especially drugs and drug disposal. It appears that in many cases a person’s sexual orientation was not a conscious choice. The fact that fish in the Potomac River have had their sexual orientation changed because of hormone disposal by a drug company underlines how easy it is for human abuse of the environment to upset the reproductive systems of living things.

LGBTQ lifestyles are generally not healthy lifestyles. Government statistics on the life expectancy of various lifestyle choices show a dramatic shortening of life by sexual orientation. The incidence rate of HIV infection in male homosexuals cannot be denied. It is true that transgender individuals must follow a drug regime to maintain their chosen sexual identity for their entire lives, and that has adverse side effects.

Sexual activity in humans IS a choice, but feelings may not be. We reviewed Guy Hammond’s book Caring Beyond the Margins in which he explains that while he is attracted to men, he has chosen not to express that attraction in physical activity. (He is married, has children and a ministry). We are not robots. We can choose to be celibate. We can delay sexual activity until marriage. Sex outside of marriage is wrong, and rape is a travesty of sex.

God created sex as a beautiful thing that two people can treasure and share. We need to treat one another with care, compassion, concern, and support of healthy choices physically and emotionally. When we abuse those choices, there are consequences that sometimes hurt others. Pray for those who are struggling with the complex and emotional issues of LGBTQ lifestyles.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Homosexual Behavior and God

Homosexual Behavior and GodPerhaps the most inflammatory issue of our day is the question of homosexuality. The reason this becomes a religious issue is that the Bible is quite clear that homosexual behavior is not acceptable to God. Passages like Romans 1:24-28 are hard to misunderstand.

Our local mayor, who lives a homosexual lifestyle, is now campaigning to become President of the United States. (By the way, he has been an excellent major.) He stated, “God made me that way (gay).” I have many gay friends who are adamant that they did not choose to be gay. I do not claim to have all the answers to this explosive issue, but there are some facts and some misunderstandings from people on all sides of the issue.

It is essential to remember that Christians must love and have compassion for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation. The vitriolic treatment of homosexuals by some in the Christian community is not only uncalled for, but it is also sinful.

It is also important to realize that LGBTQ individuals are not a personal threat to you. The drug abuser is. For many years we had two neighbors who were a homosexual couple. We had another neighbor who was an alcoholic. The homosexual couple were good neighbors. They respected us and our children as well as our privacy and our property. The alcoholic damaged our property, threatened my children, and refused to help or even allow good things to be done in the neighborhood. You are much better off if your neighbors are gay than if they are drug abusers.

A third point to remember is that God does not cause homosexual behavior. With due respect to Mayor Pete (as he is known), God did not make him that way. We have published numerous articles over the years about the causes and consequences of sexual orientation. (For examples click HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE). The bottom line is that many things lead to homosexual behavior, and no one knows all of them. We will look at some potential causes tomorrow.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Amazing Human Body Works

Amazing Human BodyThe cover story of the June (2019) issue of Reader’s Digest lists 50 features of your amazing human body. The article gives some evolutionary guesses as to how some of those features could have developed. We thought it was especially interesting that science has not explained nine of the 50:

1-The uvula at the back of your throat.
2-Hypnic jerks that 70% of people feel right before they go to sleep.
3-The “Old Person Smell” – an odor that comes from older people that young and middle-aged people don’t have.
4-Blood types.
5-Eyelid twitching.
6-Yawning.
7-Handedness and why 90% of us are right-handed.
8-Fingerprints.
9-Mesentery – a recently discovered membrane that is two feet long and spreads out like a fan in our digestive system.

David said it best: “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works…” (Psalms 139:14). In spite of all of our medical advances, we still are trying to understand how the amazing human body works. Understanding how our bodies work allows us to take better care of them. It also helps us to treat what goes wrong, which is often caused by our own abuse.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Does God Cause Disease Outbreaks?

Does God Cause Disease Outbreaks?In 1347, history’s worst disease outbreak began when the bubonic plague, or “black death,” spread across Europe. In the following years, one-third of the human race died from that disease. Five-hundred years later in 1847, a cholera outbreak threatened London. In one year, 72,000 people died. These events bring up some questions. Can we blame God for these tragedies? Does God cause disease outbreaks? Do these plagues prove that God does not exist, because a loving God would not have allowed them to happen?

An Italian doctor first presented the concept of germs in 1546, but the idea was not proven and accepted until the late nineteenth century. During those hundreds of years, there were more outbreaks of the plague, cholera, and other diseases. Very slowly, people began to realize how to prevent these deadly outbreaks. The answer was in proper disposal of sewage, prompt and proper burial of the dead, cleanliness and washing, and quarantine.

It seems obvious to us today, but it took centuries for humans to discover those secrets. Actually, they were not secrets at all. Thousands of years earlier they had been revealed in a book. Dispose of sewage properly—Deuteronomy 23:12,13. Bury the dead promptly; avoid touching dead bodies; clean and wash with water, ashes, and hyssop (which contains the antiseptic carvacrol); and quarantine—Deuteronomy 21:23; Numbers 5:2, 3; Numbers 19:1-22; Leviticus 13:45, 46. Those instructions were written in the first books of the Bible by Moses, a man trained in the customs of Egypt for 40 years.

So did Moses learn this from the Egyptians? Absolutely not! Ancient Egyptians mummified dead bodies with their bare hands and then spread the germs around to others. Even Moses admitted that there were “horrible diseases” in Egypt. (See Deuteronomy 7:15.) How did Moses have this life-saving information 3500 years ahead of his time? We think that God revealed it to him.

Does God cause disease outbreaks? Does God enjoy hurting people? The answer is NO. Think of how many lives could have been saved in those three-and-a-half millennia if people had just followed the teaching of the Bible.
— Roland Earnst © 2019

Memorial Day in the United States

Memorial Day in the United StatesToday is Memorial Day in the United States. While many people think it is just the beginning of the summer recreational season, it is much more than that. Memorial Day is of extreme patriotic significance, and the concept has biblical origins.

The Memorial Day tradition in this country began after the Civil War when people placed memorials and held services for the 20,000 soldiers killed in the war. It was originally held on May 30 and called “Decoration Day.” In 1967 Congress changed the official name to Memorial Day, and in 1971 changed it to the last Monday in May. Those of us who served in the military are always amazed to find how many people have already forgotten the wars that we were forced to participate in to preserve freedom. American ignorance of the 38th parallel, Bay of Pigs, Viet Nam, etc. is depressing. We too quickly forget the sacrifice people made to keep us free.

In the Christian faith, there is great emphasis on memorial activities. The communion service is a memorial. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24). REMEMBRANCE is the first of three things we see in the biblical instruction about the communion service, and our country’s Memorial Day carries the same ideal. It is essential for us to remember what Jesus did for us both in terms of how we live and our eternal existence with God.

The second purpose of communion and which should e applied to Memorial Day in America is PROCLAMATION. In 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “We proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again.” The Christian communion is not just communing with God, but it is also a proclamation to each other and to the world that our spiritual identity is with Jesus Christ. We proclaim vertically to God and horizontally to each other.

The third purpose the Bible gives us for communion is SELF EXAMINATION. First Corinthians 11:28 tells us to examine ourselves. We need to do that regularly. Am I growing? Am I stronger? Am I learning? Throughout the Bible, we see God calling people to memorials. In Exodus 12:13-14 and 13:9-10, God tells ancient Israel to engage in a memorial of all they have been through and how God has blessed them.

On Memorial Day in the United States of America, we should thank God for the freedom we have and the people who have protected that freedom. In this time of national and international conflict and uncertainty, it is vital that we remember who we are and what we believe.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Science and Technology vs. Greed and Stupidity

Science and Technology vs. Greed and StupidityIf you believe everything you read about science and technology in magazines and newspapers, you might want to question how much of it is factual. The way the media presents the stories, you might get the idea that science and technology are making such rapid advancements that in a few decades, we will solve all of the problems of humanity. There is no question that incredible advances have been made in medicine and agriculture. However, what many people don’t realize is that while some critical areas are advancing, others seem to be losing ground.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us: “An American mom today is 50% more likely to die in childbirth than her own mother was.” The primary cause seems to be that health professionals have biases causing them to overlook symptoms. Food shortages are also creating an increase in disease and death due to malnutrition. The primary cause is that there has been a 20% drop in the abundance of food production in countries that depend on their domestic food supply. Humans have reduced the population of pollinators, including wild bees, endangering crop production. Over-fishing is beginning to threaten the primary source of protein for billions of people. The human destruction of mangrove forests and coastal coral reefs has placed 300 million people at increased risk of flooding.

God has given us not only the resources to feed every human on the planet today, but also the way to live with each other to allow the maximum potential for the food and medicine to reach the people who need it. The Genesis account tells us that God gave Adam everything he needed and that by the sweat of his brow, he would be able to eat. Humans have allowed power and control to rule what we do. We have made money and possessions the focus of our activity instead of focusing on God and serving others. In the process, food has become a weapon. Instead of “taking care of the garden, dressing and keeping it” (Genesis 2:15), we have exploited and abused the good things God gave us.

The world continues to reject the teachings of Jesus, replacing them with selfishness, greed, and a moral code that teaches “survival of the fittest.” The result is that we all reap the consequences of what we have sown. Bringing people to believe in God and Jesus Christ not only has meaning in terms of what lies beyond this life, but it also is at the root of the quality of life we and our descendants will have in the future. Science and technology can’t solve all of our problems as long as greed and stupidity get in the way.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Half-Slumber Design in Animals

Half-Slumber Design in AnimalsWe have a clock in our brain that is based on circadian rhythms. The clock is connected to Earth’s rotation, and it provides daily periods of rest and recovery called sleep. Animals have it too, and for many animals, sleep is a dangerous time if there are predators around. Scientists have discovered that many animals, especially marine mammals, have a half-slumber system designed to keep them safe and yet allow them to sleep.

The half-slumber system allows half of the brain to sleep while the other half is awake and able to respond to danger or navigational needs. Studies in dolphins have shown that there are different regions of the brain that work together to allow one side of the brain to function while the other side sleeps. The hypothalamus contains ventrolateral preoptic nuclei that exchange messages between the left and the right sides of the brain. They determine which side sleeps and which side remains alert to danger. This also allows movement of the dolphin’s fins and tails to generate body heat in the coolness of the marine environment. It also allows the animal to surface, to breath, and to swim with its companions.

Northern fur seals have a similar system but highly modified. The fur seals come out on land and assume a posture that allows them to put one flipper in the water which they paddle with while keeping the other three flippers in the air to avoid heat loss. Their nostrils are out of the water, allowing breathing and one eye is open and looking for predators. The part of the seal’s brain that provides vision is not connected to the other functions of breathing or movement.

Birds also use the half-slumber design. Mallard ducks have a unique system where the ducks form a group. Ducks on the outside of the group have one eye open, and their brains function differently than ducks at the center of the group. Migrating birds that fly for very long times also use the half-slumber design with one eye and one side of the brain watching where the bird is going while the other side of the brain slumbers. Great frigate birds fly for ten days at a time using this system. Swainson’s thrush gets its sleep by taking micro naps when it is perched.

It seems that every creature using the half-slumber design to get its required sleep uses it differently. The changes are not small and are highly complex involving many organs. Intricate design differences in the brain primarily direct them. Studies of animal sleep are in an early stage, but the complexity of the system is undeniable. The Bible tells us that we can “know there is a God through the things He has made” (Romans 1:18-20). It is a very difficult challenge to understand just how complicated God’s design is. Even in our sleep, we demonstrate God’s plans and engineering.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Periodic Table of Elements

Periodic Table of ElementsOne of the great accomplishments of science has been the organizing of the elements into a form that allows us to use chemistry in amazing ways. In 1789 Antoine Lavoisier published a list of 33 elements grouping them into gases, metals, nonmetals, and earths. For the next 100 years, chemists searched for a better classification system. As the understanding of the design of atoms improved, scientists developed the periodic table of elements.

In 1869 Dmitri Mendeleev published the first table designed to show periodic changes in the properties of the elements. He was even able to predict the discovery of elements unknown at the time that would fill out his chart. As scientists further refined the periodic table of elements, it became even more useful. The horizontal rows are called periods, with metals on the left and nonmetals on the right. As you move from left to right in a period, the elements become less metallic. As you move from top to bottom, the columns, called groups, have similar properties. All of the elements in the last group on the right side of the chart are called noble gases, and they are chemically inactive. The next vertical column to the left of noble gases is called the halogens. They have similar chemical properties, such as the ability to support combustion.

We now know that the reason the periodic table of elements works is because of the electron configurations of the atoms. Chlorine, for example, has an electron configuration that leaves it one electron short of a stable chemical structure. It will exert tremendous force to get a single electron to make its electron configuration stable. Sodium has an extra electron that it would really like to get rid of to gain stability. Those two elements react so that sodium transfers its electron to chlorine and the compound that results is salt – NaCl. Every element in the vertical group with sodium will also react with chlorine in the same way, making lithium chloride, potassium chloride, rubidium chloride, etc.

We now have 118 confirmed elements in existence with 94 occurring naturally. Scientists have produced the remaining 24 elements in laboratories with nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson being the most recent. It is difficult to think about atoms and understand how their electrons control their uses and not be impressed by the mind that created this incredibly complex system.

This is a very brief over simplification explanation of the periodic table of elements. It just begins to suggest how the electrons are organized into shells and subshells. The system allows different methods of bonding elements together, creating a diverse population of new compounds that make our lives not only comfortable but possible. For a better understanding, enroll in a basic chemistry class at your local community college or university. “The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23 NIV).
— John N. Clayton © 2019