Fetal Development in the Womb

 Fetal Development in the Womb

One thing that can get lost in the rhetoric about abortion is what happens in the fetal development in the womb. The story begins around the 14th day of a 28-day menstrual cycle when an ovary releases an egg. When the sperm fertilizes the egg, the zygote, as it’s called, contains a mixture of genetic information from both parents. Fertilization usually occurs in the fallopian tube near the ovary that produced the egg.

This already growing zygote must travel to the uterus to implant itself. If the zygote lodges in the wrong place, such as in a fallopian tube, the result is a medical emergency called an ectopic pregnancy. Such a pregnancy can rupture the tube, leading to internal bleeding that can cause the mother’s death.

Once the zygote attaches in the uterus, the mother produces the hormones that nourish and protect it, allowing the growth process to continue. What might be considered a “heartbeat” can be detected long before there are chambers and valves that make up the human heart. Specialized cells create a heart tube that produces a fluttering electrical activity that can be heard with a stethoscope or detected by an ultrasound machine.

When pain signals come from the senses, they must travel to the brain’s cortex which develops at about weeks 24 or 25 of pregnancy. It is amazing that by the end of the first trimester, the developing baby has every organ it will ever have throughout its life. They merely continue to grow and develop.

People used to justify slavery by saying that blacks were humans but not persons. Nobody can support such a distinction from a scientific or moral standpoint. Yet, some have used the same failed logic to justify abortion.

The complexities of reproduction are so massive that there is still much that science doesn’t understand. Nevertheless, it is incredible that an atheist can look at the fetal development in the womb and not be amazed at the beauty and wonder of its design. “For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made” (Psalms 139:13-14a CSB).

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: Science News for July 16 & 30, 2022, page 6-7; Skeptic Magazine, Volume 27 # 2 2022, page 22.

Watching Your Child Die Needlessly and Painfully

Watching Your Child Die

It has been more than a year since my son Tim died of COVID. A man who refused to wear a mask or get a vaccination gave him a disease that his weakened immune system could not handle. He died after a six-month battle in which he could not walk, feed himself, or speak clearly. Even though Tim was an adult, watching your child die needlessly and painfully is hard because life is not supposed to end that way.

Every time I see a news report about the death of a child, it reminds me of the pain caused by a careless or even vindictive act of another human being. However, sending your child to school healthy and happy never to come home is even harder. Having your child take their own life is harder yet.

We all cope with the death of a loved one in different ways. Jim Smith has produced a booklet that discusses the ten stages of grief. Those stages are: (1) Shock (2) Denial (3) Lamenting (4) Withdrawal (5) Frustration (6) Panic (7) Depression (8) Detachment (9) Adaptation (10) Reinvestment.

The stages do not necessarily come in that order, and we all have many questions with no answers to make the pain disappear. Guilt, anger, and blame are almost always involved when watching your child die. We may even blame God for our loss and wonder why a loving God would allow it. Unfortunately, atheists have used that as a club against believers.

When we think about what death means to atheists, it seems strange that it can destroy faith in God. I grew up in an atheist home with strongly atheistic parents who taught me that death was the ultimate tragedy. I was not allowed to go to a funeral or a memorial service, even as a teenager. My mother was furious when my girlfriend’s mother took me to a visitation for a classmate’s father. Seeing a dead man in a casket was a radical experience for me. Now, as a Christian, I am dealing with my son’s death. Although I miss him, his death is a blessing that has allowed me to move through the ten stages very rapidly.

Death for Christians is freedom from the evil of the world. My son no longer has to deal with his blindness or his struggles to breathe, walk, feed himself, or speak clearly. He is finally finished with the war between good and evil. Furthermore, his life still speaks to me and others as one full of purpose and meaning.

While watching your child die
, it is difficult to understand how good can come from the senseless death or murder of an innocent person. However, the response of those left behind can bring meaning to the life we have lost. For Christians, death is a beginning, not an end.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

For a free copy of Jim Smith’s booklet, contact us at jncdge@aol.com or our USPS mailing address: Does God Exist?, 1555 Echo Valley Drive, Niles MI 49120.

Another Virus Is Spreading

Another Virus Is Spreading - Monkeypox

Here we go again! Another virus is spreading and has begun to infect large numbers of people, and the LGBTQ community has borne the brunt of those infections. That data has led to hatred and polarization. This reminds us of the situation with AIDS in 1984 when over 7,700 people became infected with AIDS, and over 3,500 died. There was a great deal of finger pointing and some violence, as vividly displayed in the 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain.”

On May 7, 2022, British health officials discovered the monkeypox virus and announced it occurred primarily in LGBTQ men. In July of 2022, infections have been found in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. At this time, infections approach 1500, with California and Illinois having more than 100 cases and New York with more than 400. The virus spreads from person to person through direct contact with rash lesions or body fluids. Men having sex with men provide an easy pathway for the virus, so as another virus is spreading, some blame the LGBTQ community.

Those who delight in attacking Christianity have claimed that Christians are fueling hatred against the LGBTQ community, but that claim is simply incorrect. It is true that the Bible teaches us not to engage in sex outside of marriage, but it also tells us not to use alcohol or other substances harmful to the body. Christians are concerned about people doing things that hurt themselves or others. For Christians, the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:15-20; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Therefore, we urge everyone not to engage in destructive lifestyles, including the use of all recreational drugs and the practice of aberrant sexual activity.

We also oppose any violence against others. Anyone who abuses, brings harm to, or verbally condemns others is not following Christ’s teaching. Instead, he told us to love our enemies, go the second mile, and turn the other cheek. (See Matthew 5:38-48.)The teachings of Christ are unambiguous, but not everyone who claims to be a Christian follows them.

Another virus is spreading as people engage in the activities of the LGBTQ community, putting themselves and others at risk. There is no question about the wisdom of the Bible’s teaching about sexual conduct. But unfortunately, every alternative to God’s way has caused injury to the participants and others, and monkeypox is just one more evidence of that truth.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: USA Today by Boris Q’va for July 18, 2022. SouthBendTribune.com

Brain Power and Einstein’s Brain

Brain Power and Einstein’s Brain

One of the challenging questions we face is why some people seem to be smarter than others. We may think that intelligent people have brain power because their brains are somehow different from the rest of us. Most people would probably say that Einstein was more intelligent than they are, and perhaps because his brain was different from theirs.

When Einstein died in 1955, the pathologist who conducted the autopsy removed his brain. The University of Pennsylvania dissected Einstein’s brain and made slides and sections available to scientists so they could look for the secret to Einstein’s brain power. They found nothing in those studies showing anything unique about Einstein’s brain.

The whole question of intelligence is very complicated because there are different kinds of intelligence. Some people have musical intelligence, some can create poetry and literature, others use mathematics creatively, and still others can handle mechanical processes. My son Timothy was labeled “retarded” because a Stanford-Binet intelligence test showed his I.Q. was under 50. When he was given the Wechsler-Bellevue test, his I.Q. was measured to be 120, which is considered normal intelligence. That test is based on literary intelligence, while the Binet test measured mechanical association intelligence.

In teaching physics for 41 years, I had students who did poorly in English class but did marvelous work in my class. When I started teaching, people believed that physics was for boys because girls could not do physics. I battled the guidance department and even some parents as I encouraged girls to take physics, and some of them did very well. In my son’s case, my wife read to him constantly before he could walk or talk, and his love of books and literature continued throughout his life. My daughter excelled in science and became a science teacher, but she grew up under my influence and encouragement.

The point here is that intelligence is not a matter of brain power. Barring brain damage, we all have equal intelligence. The difference is shaped by how we are raised, what happens in our lives, who we are exposed to, and what we learn from those around us. God created all of us with the ability to think, understand, reason, and respond to Him. We may do it in different ways, and we can overcome our limitations, but God tells us that we are responsible for what we do with what we have. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) is within reach of all of us.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Parade Magazine for July 10, 2022, page 10.

Flies Provide Useful Functions

 Flies Provide Useful Functions
Green Bottle Fly

We are all familiar with houseflies except those readers in Iceland, where they don’t have any. We may not realize that, like all living things, flies provide useful functions and demonstrate incredible design.

Most of us know that flies can spread diseases such as salmonella, E.coli, chlamydia, typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, polio, anthrax, leprosy, and tuberculosis. That’s because by using chemical receptors in their foot pads, flies can smell rotting organic waste. They land on garbage or dead animals, vomit digestive enzymes onto them, and lap up the liquified remains with a sponge-like tongue. In this way, they help to decompose and remove organic waste. However, they can pick up bacteria and carry them to humans.

Flies have glandular pads on the soles of their feet that secret a fluid that adheres to any solid surface. That adhesion is greater than the force of gravity, allowing the fly to walk up a wall or upside down on a ceiling. Flies can only fly about 4 miles per hour, so they become food for other life forms.

Flies in their larval stage are called maggots. Because they are sterile, green bottle fly maggots (Lucilia sericata) are used to treat wounds that don’t respond to antibiotics. The fly larvae also promote the healing of diabetic ulcers, gangrene, and burns by stimulating blood flow to the injured areas. In addition, they have been used to treat MRSA (a bacterial infection resistant to antibiotics) because they eat the dead and decaying flesh caused by the bacteria.

There is no question that humans need to restrict fly numbers and avoid contact with them. At the same time, flies provide useful functions and demonstrate incredible design. They are an important food for frogs and other animals and helpful in treating the medical problems of humans. Nothing in nature is evil or malicious because God created all of life with a purpose and function. That is even true of the housefly.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Sheryl Myers, founding director of Heart of the River Coalition in Anderson, Indiana.

Virus-Carrying Animals and Pandemics

Virus-Carrying Animals - Whitetail Deer Fawn
Whitetail Deer Fawn

When you read the hygienic rules for the nation of Israel in the Bible, you might think they are restrictive and unnecessary. However, we now understand that some 60% of known infectious diseases in humans came from animals, and over 250 known diseases have come directly to humans from virus-carrying animals.

We also know that 850,000 viruses exist within the bodies of mammals and birds, and 10% of rodent species host pathogens that can infect people. Seventy-seven known viruses can come from primates to humans, and bats are well-equipped to carry viruses to humans. For example, the SARS-CoV-2 virus in bats probably initiated the COVID virus in humans.

We are seeing significant increases in diseases carried by animals
and spread by mosquitos, ticks, and a variety of parasites. The Lyme disease incidence rate has doubled in the past ten years, and scientists have identified two new tick-carried diseases. Dengue fever has increased 30-fold in recent years. In addition, researchers have identified white-tailed deer as carriers of the Omicron variant of the COVID virus.

God gave ancient Israel restrictions and rules of contact with animals that reduced the probability of transmitting diseases to humans from virus-carrying animals. Likewise, we need to reduce the use of animals as pets and educate hunters and farmers about how to care for animals we use for food. In addition, avoiding extensive contact with animals by leaving them in their natural habitat and not raising animals that may carry harmful viruses can help protect us from diseases.

Massive vaccination is never going to eradicate the agents of pandemics. However, careful understanding of the creation’s design and maintaining separation between humans and virus-carrying animals can make a huge difference.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Week for July 1, 2022 page 11.

Happy the Elephant Is Denied Personhood

Happy the Elephant Is Denied Personhood
A zoo elephant and human children. There is a difference!

Atheists claim that humans are just animals, so animals should have the same rights as humans. On June 14, 2022, the New York Court of Appeals denied a claim by a Florida-based animal rights group called “The Nonhuman Rights Project.” The group had claimed that an elephant named “Happy” in the Bronx Zoo was in illegal custody and should be released because the elephant was equal to humans. After four years of litigation, Happy the elephant is denied personhood by the New York Court of Appeals.

There have been stories by animal protection groups of elephants displaying emotions that they interpret as typical human responses to the death of a family member. Other people have ascribed similar arguments for humanizing a pet dog or cat. We call this anthropomorphism, and we have dealt with it before.

If you deny that humans are created in the image of God, then any animal can be considered equal to humans. However, because we are in God’s image, humans have spiritual characteristics that animals don’t have. For example, we can express creativity in art and music, feel guilt and sympathy, have a complete self-concept, appreciate beauty, and worship God. Some people may ascribe human characteristics to a loved animal, suggesting that it can do one of these things, but they would not argue that the animal can do all of them.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wrote, “While no one disputes that elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion, Happy, as a nonhuman animal, does not have a legally cognizable right to be at liberty under New York law.” She said that the legislature would have to decide to grant nonhuman animals the same legal rights as humans.

The court’s decision was five to two, with the two jurists strongly dissenting. So, at least for now, Happy the elephant is denied personhood unless the legislature decides to change the law. Interestingly, the New York legislature denies personhood for a human baby up to the moment of birth.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: AOL News

Transgender Explosion and Gender Definitions

Transgender Explosion and Gender Definitions

A Japanese man has decided he no longer wants to be a human and has chosen to be a dog named Toko. He had a professional dog costume designed for 2-million Japanese yen (more than $15,000). You can see him walking on four legs and rolling on the floor in YouTube videos. When inquirers asked why he wanted to be a dog, he said the question was difficult to answer. His case is an extreme example of people wanting to change who they are that has caused a transgender explosion and confusion of gender definitions.

The transgender explosion in the United States has now become a target for Bill Maher, Ricky Gervais, and other comedians who refer to it as “trans extremism.” Gervais says, “The worst thing you can say today is ‘Women don’t have penises.’” The comedians point out that the root of the issue is the belief that gender is purely an internal feeling often stimulated by peer pressure. The point of no return occurs when doctors perform surgery and prescribe hormones. Making irreversible decisions at age 14 opens the door to terrible problems when you become an adult.

What are the motivations for a gender change? Each case is different, and none of them is simple. For a male, the ability to dominate in female sports competition may be attractive. Others may have feelings of jealousy, inferiority, or distrust. That is especially true if they have experienced abuse. The breakdown of the family unit, the complete abandonment of morals, and the impact of the entertainment industry all contribute to the transgender explosion in America.

However, the transgender explosion is just another symptom of what happens when a culture discards God and His Word. Every past culture on this planet has gone through a similar path. After a period of growth and strength, humans start to rely on immorality, materialism, naturalism, and racism, and the culture eventually collapses. Will America learn from history or repeat it? Only Christianity offers any hope that we will not follow the civilizations that have lived and died in the past.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Week for June 10, 2022, page 12.

Disease Spillback from Humans to Animals

Disease Spillback from Humans to Animals
Human Hand and Black Spider Monkey Paw

Many times animals pass diseases on to humans. However, recent research by scientists at Georgetown University shows disease spillback from humans to animals. In nearly 100 documented cases, humans have given wild animals a disease.

This discovery has implications for the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This virus has shown up in wild white-tailed deer populations in the United States and Canada. Medical researchers are concerned that the virus may mutate in these animal populations providing a reservoir of variants that can spread back to humans.

In addition to the deer, researchers have found the SARS-CoV-2 virus in mink farms, lions and tigers in zoos, and various primates. The “cute” animals seem to be the primary source of viruses because of their proximity to humans. Taking care of the creation involves allowing wild animals to be wild. When animals are domesticated, they can bring their pathogens with them into human homes.

We cannot blame God when a disease occurs in humans that was contracted by improper management of the animals that live around us. The exotic animal business has brought with it some extreme risks to humans. Not only can animals pass diseases to us, but disease spillback from humans to animals is possible and dangerous.

As our knowledge of disease and genetics increases, we learn to prevent ailments in the human population. Understanding the uniqueness of the human genome has become increasingly important in the medical field. Limiting contact with wild animals may help to avoid possible future pandemics.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: National Science Foundation posting for April 7, 2022, and the National Laboratory of Medicine

Moral Implications of Sex Change

Moral Implications of Sex Change

A moral issue facing teenagers in America today is whether to change their birth sex. Some young people claim that their gender is misapplied. In other words, some girls claim they are actually boys, and some boys claim they are girls. In addition to legal and relational issues, there are also moral implications of sex change.

Medical procedures are now available using drugs and surgery to implement the sex change some feel they should have. The cause of these feelings is highly complex and may involve environmental factors, social pressure, identity issues, the breakdown of the nuclear family, or just a social fad.

The trend has become very complicated on many levels. One area affected is sports competition which began with sex-changed Russian athletes who seemed to have an advantage in certain sports. In the legal area, parents of girls have brought court cases claiming they have been denied scholarships and awards because a transgender athlete had the body of a male. There are also cases where the sex of a child was changed without the parents’ permission or knowledge.

The Bible clearly spells out God’s design of male and female. To change the sex of a child with surgery, puberty blockers, and hormones means they will need a constant regimen of drugs for the remainder of their life. While court cases are swirling, many in the medical profession are concerned because the long-term effect is unknown. For that reason, Alabama and Arkansas have passed laws making it a crime to administer or prescribe these procedures and drugs to a child under the age of 19.

We have laws to protect people, such as requiring the use of seat belts, but the question of where human rights begin and end is often not very clear. We sympathize with parents and children who are struggling with this issue. Unfortunately, the implications are often not spelled out in advance, and the moral implications of sex change are large.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Wire Reports for May 10, 2022, in the South Bend Tribune on that date (page 8A).