We Look Up and See a Blue Sky  

We Look Up and See a Blue Sky  

Most of us underestimate the design of planet Earth. We look up and see a blue sky and take it for granted, but having a blue sky is unique to our planet and tells us much about its design. 

We must first understand that a change in electric charge produces light. The amount varies depending on the amount of change. Small changes produce light that is low in energy and may not be visible to human eyes. Radio waves are light we cannot see. Infrared waves are light humans can’t see, but numerous animals can. For example, a rattlesnake can see infrared light coming from a mouse even though human eyes would say there is no light. The mouse gives off infrared due to its biological processes, and the snake can see it in the dark. We call infrared light radiant heat. 

A large change in an electric charge produces light that is too energetic for our eyes to see. Xrays, ultraviolet, and gamma rays are the words we use to describe these high-energy forms of light. They can expose a photographic plate and penetrate most organic tissue, possibly causing damage. The light our eyes are designed to see has lower energy than Xrays and higher than radio waves. This beautiful design of our eyes means we cannot see through most solid materials like wood, metal, or human flesh. 

Light from the Sun arrives on Earth with all of these energies present. The Earth’s atmosphere is dense enough to prevent the high-energy forms of light from reaching the surface. That means we are not fried by the X-rays, gamma rays, or even excessive ultraviolet light coming from the Sun. The highest visible light that our eyes can see is blue. As blue light enters our atmosphere, it is scattered and refracted away by atmospheric materials. We look up and see a blue sky.

Green is the next highest energy reaching the surface. Plants are protected from damage because their chlorophyll reflects green light. When tree leaves lose their chlorophyll in autumn, the green disappears, replaced by other colors hidden within the leaf structure. Then, the leaves fall off to prepare the tree for winter. Annual plants shrivel and die while perennials retain their root structures to bring color back in the spring.

So we look up and see a blue sky. On the Moon, we would see a black sky. On Jupiter, it would be red. The atmosphere on all the other planets gives a color other than blue. Astronauts face huge dangers when leaving Earth’s atmosphere with its well-engineered light-handling design. To live on the Moon or Mars, human engineers must build elaborate designs to imitate what God created to allow us to live on Earth. That is the greatest challenge to space travel and a great demonstration of God’s wisdom.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Why Is the Sky Blue, Why Are the Trees Green? is a children’s book available from the Does God Exist? ministry. Contact jncdge@aol.com or purchase the complete set of 16 children’s books at powervine.store.

The Precision of the Cosmos Shows Design

The Precision of the Cosmos Shows Engineering Design

One of the awe-inspiring scientific findings in astronomy is that the process of creating the cosmos is so exquisitely precise that it defies the notion of chance. In other words, the precision of the cosmos is a testament to an engineering design that leaves us in awe. 

The latest measurements reveal a delicate balance in the cosmos. It is expanding at a rate that is precisely what is necessary for the Earth and life to exist. If the rate of expansion were a billionth faster, stars and planets would never coalesce. If the expansion were a billionth slower, gravity would pull everything together in a gigantic crunch with no stars or planets existing. The material universe is expanding at precisely the rate necessary for a planet able to support life to exist, a fact that fills us with wonder and appreciation for the Creator. 

Even the leftover material of creation displays the precision of the cosmos. As of 2024, astronomers have observed 5008 comets, and the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA have determined their orbits. However, life on Earth has not been endangered by any of these space-going travelers. 

Experts in the field are now writing about the implications of the recent understanding of astrophysics. Dr. Paul Davies, an Arizona State University astrophysicist, wrote, “The laws which enable the universe to come into being spontaneously, seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design. If physics is the product of design, the universe must have a purpose, and the evidence of modern physics suggests strongly to me that the purpose includes us.” (Super Force: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature, Simon and Schuster, 1984)

James C. Peterson, writing in the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (March 2024, page 1), writes, “So if the physical universe we can observe indicates that there is something not-material which is powerful enough to create the material; that is purposeful, smart, and generous enough to make it happen in a way that supports the development of conscious life; it might be expected that such a creator would have an interest in the resulting conscious life.”

These are scientists writing in scientific literature, not preachers writing in theological journals. The precision of the cosmos speaks loudly of its Creator. In the words of the Psalmist, “The Heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalms 19:1).

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Big, Indeed Epic, History” in Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith, March 2024, page 1.

Total Solar Eclipse and the Matthew 27 Account

Total Solar Eclipse and the Matthew 27 Account

We received comments from two men who related the recent total solar eclipse and the Matthew 27 account of darkness coming over the land when Jesus was crucified. One of the enquirers was a Christian who wondered about it, and the other was from an atheist who tried to use it in his attack on the Bible. Here is what we read in Matthew 27:45: “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.”

This is an age-old skeptic attack, suggesting that later Christian writers manipulated the account to transform a natural phenomenon into a religious miracle. These critics also argue that the miracles of Jesus, as described in the Bible, are not historical events but rather fictional tales concocted by later Christian writers.

The first point we need to make is that the duration of a total solar eclipse and the Matthew 27 account have no common ground. The sixth hour to the ninth hour would indicate about three hours. The most extended duration of a total solar eclipse is three to four MINUTES. History records an eclipse near the traditional time of Jesus’ crucifixion, but the scriptures do not give us the date of the crucifixion.

The second point we must make is that the miracles Jesus performed are not just fiction written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Many Christians and opponents of Christianity recognized that Jesus performed miracles. You can try to explain them scientifically, but they are beyond any scientific explanation. A total solar eclipse and the Matthew 27 account are not compatible.

In an era rife with fake news, skepticism, atheism, and secularism, the role of evidence in substantiating the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testaments becomes paramount. While we don’t claim to possess all the answers, evidence supporting the Bible’s accuracy and the historical facts of Jesus’ life is readily accessible to those who seek it. Our video series, “Beyond Reasonable Doubt,” meticulously examines the evidence for biblical accuracy. You can view it free of charge on doesgodexist.tv, or purchase it with a study guide from powervine.store. We also offer a free correspondence course of the same name upon request.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Lessons from America’s Total Solar Eclipse of 2024

Lessons from America’s Total Solar Eclipse of 2024

Watching yesterday’s news reports of the total solar eclipse, I was impressed by how many people called it a “spiritual” experience. People said that it made them realize how small we are. Many indicated that it brings people together to remind us that we need each other. Some spoke about it being a testimony to the existence of God. Lessons from America’s total solar eclipse of 2024 teach us about God’s power and the brevity of life.

In 1815, American novelist James Fenimore Cooper wrote, “…never have I beheld any spectacle which so plainly manifested the majesty of the Creator, or so forcibly taught the lesson of humility to man as a total eclipse of the Sun.” Modern eclipse chaser Kate Russo said about the total solar eclipse,” You don’t need to know anything about it to feel that overwhelming sense of awe.” She is a clinical psychologist who has studied how eclipses affect people and wrote a book titled “Being in the Shadow: Stories of the First-time Total Eclipse Experience.” 

Multiple news commentators remarked about the amazing coincidence that the Sun is 400 times the size of the Moon but 400 times as far away. That “conincidence” allows the Moon to exactly block out the Sun, allowing us to see see its corona. That fact is one of many “coincidences” that enable us to study and learn about God’s orderly creation. 

Many people experienced awe as they watched the eclipse. Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley, is described as a “pioneer in the science of awe.” He defines awe as “the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.” Lessons from America’s total solar eclipse of 2024 fill us with awe. 

My wife and I took my brother, his son, and grandson to southern Illinois to view the total eclipse of 2017. We agreed to return to the same area in seven years to observe the 2024 total eclipse. We were unable to do that because my brother and his son passed away. My wife and I could not make the trip due to health issues and had to enjoy a partial eclipse from our home. It will be two decades before a total solar eclipse crosses the United States again. There is no question that lessons from America’s total solar eclipse of 2024 teach us about God’s creative power and the brevity of life. 

— Roland Earnst © 2024

References: Involarium.org and nationalgeographic.com

Weather Can Surprise Us But Eclipses Do Not

Weather Can Surprise Us, But Eclipses Do Not

Today is the day of the 2024 total solar eclipse in North America. People have traveled to locations where they can view it, and great crowds will gather in many locations. For many, it will be a thrill to watch. For others, it will be a disappointment because of the weather. Despite improvements in weather radar and computer data, weather can surprise us, but eclipses do not.

In 1970, a total eclipse was predicted to cross Perry, Florida. Although the town had only about 8,000 residents, the Perry Chamber of Commerce wanted to promote its location for eclipse watching. They ran print ads saying that Perry was “in the center of the eclipse,” and the long-term weather data indicated there would be a 70% chance of clear skies with a temperature of 72 degrees on eclipse day. That advertising convinced more than 25,000 people to come to Perry to view the eclipse.

Among the people who flocked to Perry were scientists from around the world who came with cameras and equipment. While tourists came to enjoy the eclipse, scientists came to study the Sun and its corona, which is only visible during a total eclipse. Swiss astronomer Max Waldmeier, director of the Zurich Observatory, brought a research team. The eclipse happened as predicted. However, the sky was densely overcast. Waldmeier and his team were bitterly disappointed as they packed their equipment to return home.

If we learn one thing from this, it is that weather can surprise us, but eclipses do not. What can we learn from eclipses? By studying total eclipses, scientists confirmed Einstein’s theory that gravity bends light waves. This led to the creation of accurate Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Also, total eclipses allow scientists to study the Sun’s corona and observe solar flares. For average people, eclipses show us that God’s creation is predictable and observable.

Everywhere we look, creation displays evidence of a wise Creator. The total eclipse also reminds us that we depend on the Sun. We can survive for a few minutes while it is hidden, but we depend on it for life daily. Likewise, we depend on God to supply the very things we need to survive each day. How often do we recognize that fact and show our gratitude for those blessings?

— Roland Earnst © 2024

Reference: space.com

There Is No Experience Like a Total Solar Eclipse

There Is No Experience Like a Total Solar Eclipse

On Monday, April 8, 2024, millions will see a rare occurrence as a total solar eclipse travels across North America. Those living outside the totality path will see a partial eclipse, but, as we said yesterday, it won’t be the same. There is no experience like a total solar eclipse.

April 8 will bring in the “new moon” when the Sun, Moon, and Earth line up, with the Moon in the center. The Moon will block light from the Sun, creating a shadow that will travel across the Earth’s surface. The shadow will be about 9,000 miles long, 115 miles wide, and traveling at a speed exceeding 1500 miles per hour. If you are in the total shadow (the umbra), you will experience the total eclipse. Most of the United States will be under the outer shadow (the penumbra), and people living there will experience a partial eclipse.

I said there is no experience like a total solar eclipse. Eclipse watchers outside the path of totality will see a portion of the Sun obstructed by the Moon, with less obstruction farther from totality. People may also see a reduction in the light level, which is more significant near the totality path. Near the path, they may also notice a slight decrease in temperature. Let’s compare that with the experience of totality.

We emphasize that you must never look directly at the Sun without using approved solar eclipse glasses. If you are outside of totality, you must always use them when viewing the eclipse. However, during the brief minutes of totality, when the Moon completely obscures the Sun, you can take them off. In fact, you should take them off to see the Sun’s beautiful corona. That corona is one of the reasons why there is no experience like a total solar eclipse.

During totality, the darkness will be like deep twilight with a noticeable drop in temperature. You may hear night-time sounds as birds and other animals take on twilight behavior. Since the Sun is currently in a very active stage, you may see pinkish solar flares along with the corona. Some of the brighter stars or planets may become visible.

If you are on the edge of the shadow or as the Moon starts to move away from totality, the light you see may be affected by the mountains and valleys on the Moon. The effect is called Baily’s beads, as beads of light become visible between the Moon’s geological features. At the moment the Moon begins to move away from total coverage of the Sun, you may see an effect called the “diamond ring” as the Moon’s mountain features allow a larger bead of light to emerge. I took the above picture of the diamond ring during the 2017 eclipse.

I want to emphasize that there is no experience like a total solar eclipse. Actor William Shatner, Captain Kirk of the original Star Trek series, is scheduled to appear in the Hoosier Cosmic Celebration at Indiana University in Bloomington on eclipse day. He said, “To me, the magic of the eclipse, the extraordinary events it all took in the heavenly bodies to cause this eclipse, should make us ponder the mystery of existence, of our own existence, of the existence of everything else…”

I agree with Shatner’s words, but I would go further. The eclipse should cause us to ponder the existence of God, who created the heavenly bodies and put them in motion. It should also cause us to ponder the purpose of our own existence and our relationship to the Creator.

— Roland Earnst © 2024

References: Space.com and GreatAmericanEclipse.com

The 2024 Solar Eclipse Is a Rare Event

The 2024 Solar Eclipse Is a Rare Event
Image Credit: GreatAmericanEclipse.com

On Monday, April 8, 2024, millions in North America will see a rare occurrence. A total solar eclipse will travel from the Pacific Coast of Mexico, crossing Mexico, the United States, and Canada until it exits into the Atlantic Ocean. There are good reasons why the 2024 solar eclipse is a rare event.

If the sky is clear, people will see a partial eclipse over the entire United States. However, 40 million people live inside the 115-mile-wide (185-km) path where the eclipse will be in total, with 31 million of those in the United States. Millions more will travel to the path of totality for this rare experience. The 2024 solar eclipse is a rare event because of the width of the shadow and the population centers it will include.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves between the Sun and the Earth, a time called the “new moon.” When the alignment is exact, the Moon will cast a moving shadow on our planet. The total eclipse on April 8 will be the longest in 100 years. It will also travel a path that will make it visible to more people in the United States than ever before. The last total solar eclipse to traverse the United States was in 2017. It lasted about two-and-a-half minutes in some areas, but this one will last longer, up to about four-and-a-half minutes.

The next total solar eclipse visible in the United States will be in 2033, but it will be visible only in Alaska. After that, there will be one in 2044, visible just before sunset in Montana and North Dakota. The next coast-to-coast total solar eclipse will be on August 12, 2045, going from California to Florida.

It’s easy to see why the 2024 solar eclipse is a rare event. It is also predictable. God has created an orderly universe that allows life to exist on this planet. This orderliness also enables us to study and learn from creation. It allows us to accurately predict eclipses hundreds or a thousand years into the future.

Eclipses are natural events. Despite what you might hear, they are not supernatural prophetic signs of Christ’s return or catastrophic world events. They are evidence of God’s creative power. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…”

If you haven’t seen a total solar eclipse, you have missed a rare treat. Even 99% cannot compare to totality. Tomorrow, we will explain the difference between experiencing a partial and total eclipse.

— Roland Earnst © 2024

References: Space.com and GreatAmericanEclipse.com

Earthquake Catastrophe Risk

Earthquake Catastrophe Risk Map
U.S. FEMA Map

The United States Geological Survey published a map showing the earthquake catastrophe risk in different parts of the country. This data comes from seismic records of 130,000 earthquakes of a magnitude on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale of six or higher, which is severe enough to frighten people, move furniture, and cause other damage, like falling plaster. Most of us know about some geologically unstable regions of the country, but other areas may be surprising.

The highest earthquake catastrophe risk within the next 100 years is essentially the whole western edge of California, the southern part of Alaska from Juneau through the Aleutians, and the eastern islands of Hawaii. Those areas with a 75 to 95% chance of a damaging earthquake include virtually all of California, the Yellowstone National Park area, and the intersection of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The study says that 230 million people live in areas with a 95% chance of a damaging earthquake.

The point of this data is that there will be a massive earthquake sometime in the next 100 years, causing death and structural damage. Many people will blame this coming catastrophe on God. The fact is that earthquakes are a natural product of the uplift of the land. Without those forces, erosion would have brought all land masses to sea level. Despite the data, humans continue to build huge structures in areas where earthquake catastrophe risk is high. This can be added to a long list of situations where humans set themselves up for a catastrophe.

My wife and I were on Hawaii’s “Big Island” when Kilauea erupted in May 2018. In one of the places we visited, lava flow had destroyed many homes. We happened across a man who was working on a new house. I asked him if he was not concerned that another lava flow might destroy this house. He laughed and said, “God wouldn’t do that to me twice.”

We need to understand that God does not cause bad things to happen to us. If you eliminate what humans do to each other and the foolish acts humans engage in (like building a house in the path of a lava flow or on an earthquake faultline), much human pain and suffering would stop. Read James 1:13-17.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: U.S. Geological Survey HERE and HERE

Analysis of the Bennu Asteroid Sample

Analysis of the Bennu Asteroid Sample
Asteroid 101955 Bennu

In 2016, NASA launched a spacecraft to the asteroid Bennu with the goal of collecting a sample and returning it to Earth for analysis. The canister containing the sample material arrived back on Earth last year. Everything worked fine until scientists tried to open the canister. Thirty-two screws held the container closed, and two of them were stuck. Scientists were cautious not to contaminate the asteroid material with Earth molecules, so they had to develop a new tool to remove the stuck screws. On January 10, 2024, they succeeded in opening the canister to analyze the contents. Analysis of the Bennu asteroid sample gave interesting results.

Some people have suggested that creation occurred in various regions of the universe with different materials. Those who promote that idea have maintained that chance, not creative design, formed the cosmos. They predicted that material from outer space would contain different elements arranged differently from what we see on Earth. The Genesis account maintains that creation is a singular act of God, and Proverbs 8:22-30 indicates that He used wisdom in the creation.

The Bennu minerals contain no elements that don’t exist on Earth, and the rocks formed by those elements contain no surprises. They contain serpentinite formed from olivine and pyroxene. Those minerals are familiar to anyone who has taken a petrology course. Analysis of the Bennu asteroid sample shows evidence of being formed by ice made of carbon monoxide and ammonia. That requires extremely cold conditions, which could only exist far from the Sun. Temperatures needed to form carbon monoxide and ammonia ice do not exist on any of the inner planets. So, Bennu was formed in the outer solar system beyond Mars.

We still have much to learn about how the formation of the solar system, and this research may be more critical as humans venture beyond the Moon into outer space. Even the possibility of establishing human colonies on other planets will depend on what materials are available there. Analysis of the Bennu asteroid sample is only the beginning. The more we learn about the solar system, the more we realize the importance of the unique features of Earth. It also reminds us of how essential it is to care for the planet God has given us.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Science News, March 9, 2024, page 7.

Evidence for a Changing Climate

Evidence for a Changing Climate
Evidence for a Changing Climate
St. Joseph, Michigan, Lighthouse in previous winters

Those of us who live in the Great Lakes area are wondering what happened to winter. This year, we have had very little snow, virtually no frigid temperatures, and a lack of ice on our lakes and rivers. Usually, we see 53% of our Great Lakes covered with ice. We frequently travel to the lighthouses and bays to see ice piled up against the shoreline and other obstacles. The total ice coverage of the Great Lakes for 2023/2024 was 2.7%, and the chances of that number changing in March seem nonexistent. This is another evidence for a changing climate.

The United States experienced 28 weather-related disasters, causing over a billion dollars in damage. These numbers are gleaned from data on hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, but the damage goes far beyond the obvious causes of expense. A major industry in this part of the country is fruit growing. Apples, apricots, blueberries, and peaches provide a good income for growers, and we can purchase most of these crops at relatively low prices in this area. The problem is that the crop can be lost if the trees bloom too early and the buds get frosted. In the first week of March, we had temperatures in the 60s and 70s, increasing the prospect of losing the fruit crops if the temperature drops.

Some people say there is no evidence for a changing climate, so we don’t need to make serious changes in how we manage the planet. This ministry is built around the appeal to evidence. The Bible contains many examples of God calling people to look at evidence – for example, Gideon and the fleece and Thomas and the resurrection. Evidence shows that the Earth is going through a period of increasing temperature. We also know that at times in the past, Earth’s climate has been much warmer than it is today.

Just as there is strong evidence for a changing climate, the evidence for God’s existence is massive. Ignoring the need to care for the Earth can be catastrophic. Ignoring the importance of changing how we use what God has given us will bring hardship to all of us. Ignoring God’s existence and the importance of living as He calls us to will be even more catastrophic, with eternal consequences. We need to deal with the evidence God has given us and change how we conduct our lives.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: The Week for March 8, 2024, page 16.