Oxygen and Nitrogen Levels in the Atmosphere

Oxygen and Nitrogen Levels in the Atmosphere

Oxygen and nitrogen are two of a handful of elemental superstars of life. Without them, life would not be possible. In some ways, these two elements are very similar, but they are also very different.

Oxygen and nitrogen atoms differ in only one proton and one electron. In chemical reactions, the important subatomic particle is the electron, and oxygen has eight while nitrogen has seven. In the last two days, we talked about the difference that one electron makes. Oxygen and nitrogen make up about 99% of our atmosphere, with nitrogen composing nearly three-quarters of our air. So why is nitrogen’s percentage so high compared to oxygen?

As we said previously, the triple bond of a nitrogen molecule requires more than twice as much energy to break as the double bond of an oxygen molecule. The oxygen bond can be broken to allow combustion oxidation and energize our bodies. On the other hand, the nitrogen bond is not easy to break, but plants require nitrogen for photosynthesis and growth. What is the solution?

Lightning breaks the nitrogen bond allowing rain to wash nitrogen to the ground. Plants such as beans, peas, and alfalfa, which we call legumes, have microorganisms on their roots that extract nitrogen from the air. That enriches the soil with nitrogen while providing for the legumes. More than a century ago, scientists found a way to extract nitrogen from the air to produce ammonia. That process enabled fertilizer production, which today allows farmers to produce enough food for the world’s population.

It is not easy to break the nitrogen bond so it can combine with other elements, but with 78% of the atmosphere being nitrogen, there is no shortage. So why is our atmosphere mostly nitrogen? Since it is only about 21% oxygen, wouldn’t it be better to have more oxygen so we could breathe easier? The answer is that nitrogen stability is essential for our safety. Wildfires have been a significant problem in recent years. If the atmosphere consisted of a very high percentage of oxygen, fires would be more common and dangerous. If the atmosphere consisted of 100% oxygen, all it would take is one lightning strike to set the whole planet on fire.

Remarkably, we have the correct percentage of elements in our atmosphere. We have the right amount of oxygen to allow respiration to power our bodies and combustion to power our vehicles and industry and heat our homes. At the same time, we have the right amount of nitrogen to prevent uncontrolled combustion leading to the destruction of life. We have just a small amount of carbon dioxide, which plants need for photosynthesis. Plants use CO2 and generate oxygen to keep the gases in balance. The balance is amazingly precise as long as humans don’t generate enough carbon dioxide to mess it up.

During the dinosaur age, the oxygen level was higher, on the order of around one-third of the atmosphere. That allowed the enormous animals to prepare the Earth for humans. Now we have the precise balance to sustain human life and advanced society. The question is, did the features of oxygen and nitrogen and the balance between them happen by accident, or was it part of an intelligent plan? We think the best explanation is that an intelligent Planner of life created it.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

A Larger Dinosaur Has Been Found

A Larger Dinosaur

We are amazed by the enormous size of animals in the distant past. From a giant millipede to the Titanoboa and the Titanosaur, the size of ancient animals excites fossil hunters. Since 2017, Patagotitan has held the record for the largest dinosaur at 120 feet (36.5 m) long and weighing over 57 tons. However, paleontologists in Argentina recently found pieces of a larger dinosaur.

The size of this animal has several implications. First, we need to be reminded that, unlike mammals, reptiles never stop growing, so there is virtually no limit to their size. A more significant issue is having environments warm enough for such animals to live and enough plant material to sustain them, plus a high oxygen level.

The environment that allowed a larger dinosaur to survive would not have been hospitable to mammals. Reptiles can not only survive very hot conditions, but they require heat to sustain their bulk. A hot Earth with very wet conditions would also promote rapid plant growth. Accordingly, the plant fossils from the time of those animals indicate huge size and rapid growth.

The Bible makes clear that everything humans would need to live on Earth was produced before humans were created. Therefore, we have maintained that God was not a magician miraculously zapping things into existence. God could do the creation any way He wished, but He wisely chose to make the resources humans would need in such a way that we could find them.

God acted as an engineer, producing the coal, gas, oil, iron, salt, and other resources we would need by processes we can study and understand. The volume of fossil fuels stored up for our use is a staggering number. Present-day processes on Earth could never produce them, but the enormous animals and plants of the past created enough resources to take us into the nuclear/solar age.

The Bible tells us that God created planet Earth, not how or how long He took to do it.
Genesis 1:1 is not dated or timed. However, as we look at the record of the past, we see God’s wisdom and power and the magnitude of the creative process that allows us to exist.

Rather than trying to fit a larger dinosaur into Noah’s Ark, we need to take Genesis for what it says and not add denominational traditions. We must not use the economy of language in Genesis to justify our human religious theories.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Have Scientists Found the Biggest Dinosaur?” Discover magazine, January/February 2022, page 53.

The Purpose for the Woolly Mammoth

The Purpose for the Woolly Mammoth

Often when we see fossil evidence of extinct animals, we wonder what purpose that animal served. For example, the giant plant-eating dinosaurs not only pruned the fast-growing plants of the world in which they lived, but they also spread the plant seeds and fertilized the ground where the plants grew. So what was the purpose for the woolly mammoth?

Russian researchers have found that woolly mammoths played a significant role in shaping the Siberian tundra in the ancient past. Today we see that massive amounts of moss dominate the terrain and causing a build-up of carbon dioxide. Woolly mammoths pulverized the moss, clearing the way for grass to spring up. They enriched the soil for the grass to grow, and the grass stopped soil erosion and took in carbon dioxide.

An American company wants to reconstruct the woolly mammoth’s genome and create herds of woolly mammoths to repeat what happened in the past. That company believes they can increase grass growth and create a whole industry based on herds of woolly mammoths.

This scenario sounds similar to the theme of the movie Jurassic Park. Unfortunately, we don’t have good information about what woolly mammoths were like, how they lived, and what diseases they carried. God had a purpose for woolly mammoths, and the research by the Russian scientists tells how that system worked in the past. When humans try to duplicate what God did, they usually do more damage than good.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Indiana, October 2, 2020, page A6.

An Asteroid and Snakes

An Asteroid and Snakes

There is an interesting connection between an asteroid and snakes. Evolutionists have often believed in uniformitarianism–the idea that no process has shaped planet Earth in the past that is not going on today. The problem with uniformitarianism is that a great deal of evidence shows that it’s not true. The most accepted example is that when dinosaurs ruled the planet, an asteroid strike caused a mass extinction of 76% of all plant and animal life.

A research study by the University of Bath in England has shown that one form of life did well through and after the asteroid collision. That life-form was snakes. There were small snakes before the asteroid strike, but large snakes were easy prey for dinosaurs and simply did not survive. After the asteroid collision, small snakes hid underground and survived for a time without food.

When the snakes emerged, they didn’t face competition from other animals. With their newfound freedom, they spread throughout the world. Today, snakes live on every continent on Earth except Antarctica. Catherine Klein, the lead researcher in examining the snake fossil record, has shown that large snakes did not appear again until all the dinosaurs were gone. She told the BBC, “It’s likely that without this asteroid impact, snakes wouldn’t be where they are today.”

The evidence for the asteroid collision grows every year, and it comes from many different disciplines. Uniformitarianism is not true, and yet a gradual evolution of all life depends on it. Evolution would have to start over after events like the asteroid strike that wiped out massive amounts of life on the planet.

You have probably never thought of a connection between an asteroid and snakes. Current theories of evolution have significant problems with a lack of positive evidence and a growing amount of counter-evidence. God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes He has used catastrophes to shape the Earth for human existence.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: The Week, October 1, 2021, page 21.

Story of Earth’s History and Life

Chicxulub Story of Earth's History and Life

In the Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico, the Chicxulub Crater tells a story of Earth’s history and life. The fundamental assumption of neo-Darwinism is that the only processes operating on Earth in the past are processes going on today. This principle, called uniformitarianism, doesn’t work if there have been radical changes on Earth in the past. A catastrophe that wiped out all life would mean that life would have to start over again. Evolutionists have devised elaborated theories to dance around this issue, such as Stephen Jay Gould’s punctuated equilibrium.

A study released in the journal Science Advances on February 24, 2021, involves an exhaustive study of the Chicxulub Crater. This crater is 125 miles (201 km) wide and dates back to the time of the dinosaurs. Many scientists suggested that an asteroid collision produced the crater. Evolutionists resisted that explanation because of the catastrophic effect it would have, and certainly, it is not happening today.

In 2016, researchers took drill cores at Chicxulub to a depth of 2600 feet (792 m). Analysis of the cores has now produced an iron-clad case that an asteroid collision created the Chicxulub Crater. Iridium is an element found in most asteroids, and scientists found massive amounts of it in the center of the crater, with decreasing amounts as one moves away from the center.

In addition to the drill core at Chicxulub, scientists have found iridium in geologic layers worldwide. That indicates tiny fragments of the asteroid were blown into the atmosphere in large quantities blocking the Sun’s light for several years, or even decades. Independent studies have shown that Earth’s surface temperatures dropped by as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C), meaning that any dinosaur could not have survived.

This research tells a story of Earth’s history and life that we suggest shows how God was preparing the planet for human life to exist. Suggesting that humans and dinosaurs could have lived together indicates ignorance of the nature of life in the age of the dinosaurs. Not only was Earth’s surface temperature high, allowing massive deposits of coal and other resources for later humans, but the dinosaurs were not a form of life that humans could survive alongside. Evidence shows that T. rex hunted in packs. (See The Week, May 7, 2021, page 24.) The notion that a T. rex could have been a family pet that children could ride, as some religious groups have proposed, is ludicrous.

This story of Earth’s history and life fits with Genesis 1:1, with God using natural processes to prepare planet Earth for humans. Not only is Chicxulub a problem for neo-Darwinism, but it provides more evidence for the integrity of the biblical record when it is taken literally and not twisted to support denominational teachings.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

References: Science Advances and Astronomy magazine

How We Use Our Money

How We Use Our Money - $32-million To buy a T. rex fossil?

One of the interesting things going on in the world today is how we use our money. The sale of a T. rex fossil is one example. The skeleton of a massive dinosaur can bring huge profits to the owner. Recently a 13-foot tall Tyrannosaurus rex fossil known as “Stan” was sold at Christie’s Auction House for $32,000,000. Most of us would wonder why anyone would spend that kind of money on a fossil? Sarah Rose Sharp gave a possible answer in Hyperallergic.com:

“And honestly, can we find a more contemporary symbol than a tyrant king who stomps on all other living things with no regard for propriety, before witnessing the extinction of his species based on natural science beyond his control?”

Daily we see reports of leaders in politics, media, and technology raking in vast amounts of money no matter who gets hurt in the process. Jesus dealt with this mindset in His day. The parable Jesus told in Luke 12:16-21 is a picture of what is happening today. We should heed His follow-up teaching in verses 22-34. The words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21 tell us what we should hold as important. Luke 18:10-14 demonstrates the attitude we should have.

The sale of a dinosaur fossil for massive amounts of money is just one more illustration of how we use our money and where we place our priorities.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Why Did Dinosaurs Exist?

South American Tapir brings to mind the question "Why Did Dinosaurs Exist?"

An interesting question we often hear is, “Why did dinosaurs exist?” We have pointed out in several articles and posts that none of the words used to describe the animals in Genesis 1 can reasonably describe a dinosaur. The same is true in Job and other scriptures that describe large animals. If we take Genesis 1, the animals described in that chapter are animals Moses knew, and their role was clearly defined.

We have suggested that the dinosaurs were a part of the preparation of the Earth for human habitation. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” does not tell us how He did it or what processes and time were involved. Asking why did dinosaurs exist, leads to the question of whether there was a logical reason for an animal like brontosaurus to exist.

Science News (July 4 and 18, 2020) published an article about research on the lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris), the largest mammal in South America. The Amazon Environmental Research Institute in Brazil refers to the tapir as the gardener of the forest. The rainforests would be biological deserts except for the actions of the tapir. This large mammal feeds on the seeds of about 300 plant species and defecates them in areas that would otherwise be barren. In modern times the tapir has been a primary factor in the recovery of burned-over areas. When Earth was a barren desert at the time of the dinosaurs, the problem would have been even more critical.

We suggest that the dinosaurs were the gardeners of the Jurassic and Cretaceous geological periods. A brontosaurus would produce massive amounts of dung filled with seeds. They would have kept a balance between plant growth and the re-seeding of plants. The enormous meat-eating dinosaurs were mostly carrion eaters that helped with cleanup and helped to control the populations of plant-eaters.

As we question why did dinosaurs exist, we see God’s wisdom in the process of creation. He provided a world that allows humans to have food and resources to use in daily life. At the same time, the design left a guide for modern humans to follow in locating and synthesizing these resources. We know where to find the minerals and fuels because we understand the process God used to put them there.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

For a detailed description of Genesis 1 go to doesgodexist.org and read the booklet “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word.”

Mesozoic Era Small Animals

Mesozoic Era Small Animals are not displayed in Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas

What most people know about the dinosaurs is what they have seen in a movie or a museum. The emphasis is always on the massive size of these ancient animals. Those of us with a background in paleontology are more interested in the ecosystem in which they lived. The Mesozoic era was a time when the Earth was very different from what it is today. It appears that the oxygen content of the atmosphere was higher, and the temperature was much warmer. The plants and animals living at that time enjoyed a balanced ecosystem that left a legacy that has allowed us to live comfortably on this planet.

The natural resources humans have depended on for our entire history were produced during the Mesozoic era. These include coal, oil, and a wide variety of soils that allow our modern plants to exist. From a biblical standpoint, this was a part of Genesis 1:1 when God prepared the Earth for what was to follow. For more on this, see “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word” on our doesgodexist.org website. (You can purchase printed copies HERE.)

What many people don’t realize is that while the giant dinosaurs were an essential part of the Mesozoic era ecosystem, small creatures were of equal importance. Insects were a significant part of the system, and fossil remains of all kinds of arthropods are abundant in the fossil record. As we all know, insects can reproduce in destructive numbers. Just as there were meat-eating dinosaurs to keep the plant-eaters from destroying all the vegetation, there were insect-eaters to control the insect populations. We have insect swarms like the locusts that are causing massive problems in Africa today because humans are removing the natural controllers of insect populations.

The recent discovery of a creature named Oculudentavis khaungraae has shown us a dinosaur the size of a bee hummingbird, the smallest known modern bird. This dinosaur’s skull was half an inch from front to back, and it had a mouth full of teeth. It was ideally suited for eating insects of all kinds and sizes and was undoubtedly a vital part of the ecosystem during the Mesozoic era of the dinosaurs. God has always used one existence to prepare for another, and the preparation of the early Earth for humans was a long and highly complex process.

Our existence on Earth is also a preparation for a far better one. Continuing to study God’s creation and His Word helps us prepare for that time when we will exist outside of space-time. Read about it in Revelation 22:1–5.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: Science News April 11, 2020, page 4.

Dinosaurs in Genesis 1

Dinosaurs in Genesis 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Battle of the Splitters and Lumpers

Battle of the Splitters and Lumpers

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

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

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

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

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

— John N. Clayton © 2020

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