God Spoke It Into Existence

God Spoke It Into Existence- The Bat Nebula
The Bat Nebula NGC 6995

One of the wonderful things that technology gives us is the ability to see how God created the Earth and life on it. The Webb telescope is adding to our understanding of the universe. Advances in astronomy and optical telescopes continue to give us more pictures and data, helping us understand what God has done and the methods He employed. When dealing with the creation, preachers, and even some Bible paraphrases, are fond of saying, “God spoke it into existence.” That is an oversimplification because, obviously, it was not God’s voice that created time, space, and matter-energy.

The NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day (apod.nasa.gov) for September 20, 2022, has a beautiful picture of the “Statue of Liberty Nebula.” (See the link below.) The data from this area of space shows the presence and creation of complex carbon molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Biologists tell us that these are building blocks of life.

In addition to chemical compounds like PAHs, we can also see hydrogen being forged into the heavier elements that make up the creation around us. Hydrogen is a non-renewable resource, and as we watch stars turning it into heavier elements, we know that the process had a start. The existence of hydrogen throughout space tells us there was a beginning to the creation. As hydrogen is forged into heavier elements, the amount of hydrogen in the cosmos decreases. If space, time, and matter-energy were eternal, all of the hydrogen would be gone.

Proverbs 8 tells us that wisdom was a partner in creation. Psalms 148 praises God for the creation, and verse 5 says, “He commanded, and they were created.” That is not the same as saying, “God spoke it into existence.” As we study God’s WORD, we learn of His wisdom and love. As we study God’s WORK, modern technology allows us to know some of His methods more clearly than ever before.

The Bible gives a simple statement of creation that every human can understand: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Science shows us the wisdom, power, and design of what God has done.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: apod.nasa.gov for September 20, 2022.

God Created Two Books

God Created Two Books

How have you arrived at the belief system that governs your life? God created two books we are called to use as the basis for our lives, morals, and religious practice. Since these two books have one author, they must be complimentary and cannot conflict. It is strange that many people read one book and refuse to look at the other. That is true of both atheists and religionists.

One of the books is the Bible, and it calls us to use it as a guide for life. Second Timothy 3:16-17 states it very clearly: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching, for training, for guiding and for moral discipline so that the man of God may be complete and adequately equipped for all good work.” Atheists reject this book because it involves denying one of a few physical pleasures and gives a purpose in living other than survival. Living selfishly has its rewards, and that is attractive.

God created two books, and the second book is the creation itself. The Bible is full of admonitions to use the things God has created as a means of knowing truth and learning how to live a productive and rewarding life. The Old Testament calls us to use what we see in the world around us as a guide to life. The entire book of Job carries that message. Numerous Psalms call us to see God’s wisdom and design and shape our beliefs in them. (See Psalms 8:3-9; 19:1; 53:1-4; 139:14-16.) Proverbs is full of admonitions to learn from the creation. (See Proverbs 6:6; 8:1-7 and 22-36.)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the created world as the basis of much of His teaching. (See Matthew 6:26-30; 7:16-20.) Romans 1:18 – 23 says of humans, “That which can be known of God lies plain before their eyes for God himself has made it clear to them. For those things of God which the eye can not see, ever since the creation of the world, are clearly perceived through the things that are made, and are clear to the eye of reason, even his eternal power and divine character so that men have no excuse.”

So God created two books, and it is clear why atheists do not wish to read and apply the Bible to guide their moral and spiritual lives. It is hard to understand why people who claim to believe in God refuse to look at the creation as a source of instruction and guidance. Some are too lazy to read the Bible and study its message, and others are too lazy to read the creation and learn its message. We need to read and study both books so that we can do what 1 Peter 3:15 tells us: “Revere Christ as Lord in your hearts and always be ready with your defense whenever you are called to account for the hope that is in you, yet argue gently and cautiously with meekness and respect.”

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Lightning Dynamics and St. Elmo’s Fire

Lightning Dynamics

As an old physics teacher, I am interested in lightning dynamics. Most of us have seen the effects of lightning and have been impressed with its power and destructive potential.

The question is, what produces lightning and its incredible power? On Earth, lightning is caused by water. If you have a steady stream of water from a faucet and bring a charged glass or plastic rod near it, the water stream will move toward the rod. The water molecule is polarized, meaning it has a positive and negative end. The charged rod attracts the oppositely charged end of the water molecule.

When warm moist air rises to form a thunderhead, it can reach velocities of 100 mph. The air cools and forms ice crystals that can become positively charged by collisions with other ice crystals. That means the lower parts of the storm cloud will acquire a negative charge. Conversely, the very bottom of the cloud will generate a positive charge as a result of the negative sections of the cloud. When this charge imbalance becomes great enough, an inch-wide stream of electrons travels between the negative and positive areas. This can be between the two layers of the cloud, the negative midsection and positive bottom of the cloud, or the ground and the positive lower parts of the cloud. This stream of electrons typically moves at 200,000 mph.

Lightning dynamics can heat the air around the stream of electrons to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, turning oxygen into ozone and sending out a shock wave which we hear as thunder. A tall object like a tree, a church steeple, or a lightning rod will accumulate a charge because it is closest to the charged cloud. Sometimes charges around the tall object will cause the air to glow in what is called “St. Elmo’s Fire.” That name is credited to a monk who first recorded seeing it at the top of his church and thought he was having a vision.

Lightning dynamics are very complicated and not a threat to humans unless we are careless. However, lightning has various benefits, such as producing nitrogen fixation so that plants can grow and resupplying the ozone layer, protecting us from some of the dangers coming to Earth from outer space.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Seconds count when lightning is spotted” in The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Indiana, August 13, 2022, page C3.

Wormholes, Black Holes, and the Beginning

Wormholes, Black Holes, and the Beginning
Wormhole Illustration

One of the strongest arguments for God’s existence is the fact that all evidence indicates that there was a beginning to the creation. Space and time are not eternal. If the creation began, there had to be a cause for space/time. The only way to avoid that is to show that space/time is eternal. The classic atheist argument is that if God has always existed, it is just as valid to claim that space/time has always existed. One way to support the view that space/time is eternal is to suggest that tunnels called wormholes exist between black holes in the cosmos.

The idea is that wormholes would allow matter/energy to fall into a black hole in one area of space and re-emerge in another part of space. By falling into a black hole, the conservation laws of science and the laws of thermodynamics would be invalidated. Physical laws, entropy, and all other boundaries would start over when the matter/energy emerged at the wormhole’s other end. All matter/energy in the cosmos would experience these changes through an infinite number of wormholes, and since the laws of science would be re-established, this could go on forever. In essence, this is a new version of last century’s oscillating universe theory.

Science fiction writers have used this idea as a way for aliens to quickly travel anywhere in the cosmos. The distances between galaxies are in the millions of light years, so traveling even at the speed of light would take millions of years. If wormholes connected the galaxies, you could take a shortcut traveling instantly from one galaxy to another. This is an imaginative proposal, but the evidence doesn’t support it.

If every galaxy is connected to other galaxies by wormholes, we should be able to see matter/energy emerging from every galaxy we observe. If the wormhole were in empty space, you would see white holes where this would be happening. We don’t see any such objects anywhere. Instead, we see black holes and even have photographic evidence of their existence. However, the nature of a black hole is that matter/energy falls into it and is compressed smaller and smaller to an infinitely small point. Nothing comes out of a black hole by any process.

Scientists speculate that ultimately, all the matter/energy in the cosmos will fall into one supermassive black hole and be destroyed. That reminds us of the words of Peter in 2 Peter 3:10-12, “The elements will be dissolved.” There was a beginning, and it was caused by God, an entity outside of space/time, and there will be an end.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Our Planet is Unique and Bizarre

Our Planet is Unique and Bizarre

Human technology has allowed more observations of our planet than most of us realize. NASA currently operates around 30 Earth-observing missions accumulating massive amounts of data. We know about changes in sea level for the Earth’s oceans within a fraction of an inch. Hourly, we can know the areas of our planet covered with snow. We measure the amount of tree cover on Earth and minute-by-minute changes in the planet’s atmosphere. The result of all this detecting and measuring is that we know that our planet is unique and bizarre.

Earth is the only planet we have seen with an active water cycle that causes weather and allows the recycling of water resources. It is also the only known planet with active plate tectonics, recycling minerals within Earth’s crust using earthquakes and volcanoes while releasing volatiles that create and maintain our atmosphere.

We have only recently understood the Moon’s role and how important it is for life to exist on Earth. We know that it was formed in a catastrophic impact that determined its location and size. The size and distance from Earth are precisely right to cause the strength of our tides and give our planet a stable 23.4-degree tilt. Without the Moon, our Sun would cause very weak tides causing our coastlines to be much different, while the planet’s axis of rotation would wobble, destabilizing the climate.

Our planet is unique and bizarre because it has been shaped by vegetation, responsible for the atmosphere’s oxygen content of 21%. The typical astronomical atmosphere of planets is dominated by methane and carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis uses sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce the oxygen we breathe. Science is still struggling to understand the source of the massive amount of minerals we have on Earth. Meteorites have a small number of minerals, and while the Moon has a larger number, Earth’s variety of minerals is astounding.

Discover magazine featured an article discussing NASA’s studies of planet Earth. It stated that Earth observations have taught scientists one sure thing: “Our planet is unique and bizarre, with unusual properties that don’t match those of any other world we’ve seen, either in our own solar system or beyond it.”

For those of us who understand the science involved and believe in God as the creator, this is no surprise. Proverbs 8 finds “Wisdom” saying, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way …” We see that beautifully demonstrated as we look at our planet and marvel at the intelligence of the Designer who produced it.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Earth is a Planet Too!” by Alison Klesman in the September/October 2022 issue of Discover magazine.

Nadir Asteroid Impact Crater

Chicxulub and Nadir Asteroid Impact

One of the challenges to evolutionary theory is the principle of uniformitarianism–the assumption that no process has ever functioned on Earth that is not going on today. We are not talking about common disasters but events in Earth’s history that would have altered the course of evolution or stopped it entirely. For many years, scientists have known about the Chicxulub asteroid that struck the area that is now Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, probably causing the extinction of the dinosaurs. Such an event would have changed life’s future direction. Now, there is news of a Nadir asteroid impact crater.

BBC news reported that geologists discovered a possible asteroid crater off the coast of Guinea in west Africa. They call it the Nadir crater because it is at the Nadir (opposite lowest point) of the Chicxulub crater. This new crater is 8,500 meters wide and over 300 meters lower than the seabed. It is about the same age as Chicxulub but much smaller. The Chicxulub crater, caused by a larger asteroid, is 12,000 meters wide.

Both of these asteroid collisions would have violated uniformitarianism, dramatically affecting life on Earth. The Chicxulub asteroid impact would have caused major earthquakes, tsunamis, and a global firestorm. The result would have thrown enough dust into the atmosphere to plunge Earth into a deep freeze that dinosaurs could not have survived.

Since the Nadir asteroid impact crater is in an ocean environment, it would have caused a tsunami with a wall of water over 1000 meters high. The Nadir collision would have produced about 1,000 times more energy than Tonga’s recent (January 2022) volcano eruption. However, the energy from the Chicxulub impact would have been about 10 million times greater.

The textbook model of evolution is greatly simplified. We don’t fully understand how an asteroid collision would have affected life on Earth. It seems unlikely that most life forms could have survived the one-two punch of Chicxulub and Nadir asteroid impacts.

Genesis 1:1-3 indicates that there was a change in the Earth. An accurate translation of verse 2 is that Earth “became empty and wasted.” That is precisely what the asteroid collisions would have caused. This may have been God’s methodology of a final step to make Earth fit for human life. This new evidence supports the biblical account in ways we are only beginning to understand.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: BBC news August 19, 2022, and Science Advances

Soil Derived from Barren Rock

Soil Derived from Barren Rock

I have had the privilege of walking along a still hot lava flow in Hawaii and watching it cool and crack, exposing a red hot glowing interior. As a student of geology, I have seen the bedrock that tells of the composition of the early Earth in places throughout North and South America and England. There can be very little doubt that the creation of planet Earth left a ball of sterile, barren rock orbiting the Sun. Having lived for 85 years on this planet, I have had the joy of seeing soil derived from barren rock supporting vast plant and animal life.

The story of how soil is produced is a story of wisdom and design unique to our planet. Therefore, it is essential that we understand the importance of the soil God gave us and how to take care of it in our age of expanding populations.

National Geographic published an excellent article by Ferris Jabr titled “Out of Sight,” containing pictures by Oliver Meckes and Nicole Ottawa. The pictures show the agents God created to convert the barren rock of our planet into soil that can grow a forest. A single gram of forest soil (1/454th of a pound) can contain as many as a billion bacteria, a million fungi, hundreds of thousands of protozoa, and nearly a thousand roundworms. The pictures of those microscopic organisms are incredible.

Soil derived from barren rock began with fundamental processes caused by rain, wind, and ice. Once the elements broke down the rocks to small sizes, the microscopic living organisms went to work. Microbes, fungi, lichen, and tiny plants broke down the sand-size rocks and enriched them with minerals life could use. In Hawaii, you can see the black sand beaches produced in modern times and the places where those agents have processed soil in which plants can live. Over time, the elements in early soils, such as carbon, phosphorus, and potassium, were processed to produce advanced soil structure.

The Genesis creation account does not explain God’s methods of preparing the planet for human life. Proverbs 8:22-36 finds Wisdom narrating the processes of creation. But even Wisdom can’t describe the process of soil derived from barren rocks to people with no microscopes or technical language. Today, we are uniquely privileged to see God’s handiwork and to marvel at the incredible complexity involved in the creation of dirt.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Out of Sight” by Ferris Jabr in the September 2022 issue of National Geographic, pages 82 -99, with pictures by Oliver Meckes and Nicole Ottawa.

Our Planet’s Magnetic Field

Our Planet’s Magnetic Field

There are a vast number of things that make life on planet Earth possible. We are all aware of some, while others escape most people’s knowledge. One thing that allows life to exist on Earth is our planet’s magnetic field. 

All stars generate streams of radiation by the nature of their energy-producing systems, and our Sun is no exception. The solar wind is a constant threat to life on the Moon or Mars or in any spaceship traveling through the solar system. Studies show that Mars once had a magnetic field, but that field dissipated, leaving the surface sterile. The question for astronomers is why Earth didn’t suffer the same fate. Much of the answer to our planet’s magnetic field lies in Earth’s geology.

About 1800 miles below our feet, a liquid iron core generates our magnetic field. Recent research shows that there was a time in the distant past when Earth’s magnetic field was dissipating, but just as it reached its lowest point, it regenerated. Using various new wave detection tools, researchers have found evidence of what brought the magnetic field back.

Earth has four layers: (1) the crust where we live, (2) a thick layer called the mantle, (3) a molten outer core, and (4) A solid inner core. In the molten outer core, swirling liquid iron generates electric currents, driving a geodynamo that produces our planet’s magnetic field to protect us from the solar wind. 

We can’t go to the Earth’s core to study these layers, but minerals that contain tiny magnetic particles rise to Earth’s surface. By examining the magnetic crystals in anorthosite rocks with a superconducting quantum interference magnetometer, researchers can see a historical record of Earth’s magnetic field. That field began to regenerate as the inner core started to grow, allowing Earth to retain the water so vital to life. 

This new research helps scientists understand how Earth became a habitable planet. The implications for life on other planets are clear, and we can see that our planet is extraordinary. When we see the complexity of our planet, it takes more faith to believe that our existence is an accident than to believe it was planned and designed. The tools God used to prepare a place for life to thrive are far more complex and exceptional than anyone can understand when reading, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” 

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: National Science Foundation and Nature.com

A Remarkable Tool of Astronomy – The JWST

A Remarkable Tool of Astronomy – The JWST image of Carina Nebula
JWST Image of the Carina Nebula with stars never seen before

On July 12, 2022, NASA released the first public images from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), launched on December 25, 2021. JWST is a remarkable tool of astronomy that can see objects in outer space not visible to Earth-bound telescopes. Dr. Scott Acton is a 1984 Abilene Christian University graduate who worked on the JWST for almost 24 years as a wavefront sensing and controls scientist. As a Christian, he said, “Seeing these images will increase your faith.”

In February, Dr. Acton’s team was privileged to download a “throwaway” image from a JWST fine guidance sensor, which brought him to tears. He described his feelings by saying, “I realized that single image contained probably 500 galaxies that had never been seen before.”

As a remarkable tool of astronomy, the JWST enables us to expand our understanding of the incredible size and magnitude of the creation. As the tools of observation improved, astronomers realized that our Milky Way galaxy was just one of many. Thanks to the JWST, we can now see countless galaxies that astronomers have never seen before, and each one contains billions of stars, many of which have planets orbiting them.

These distant galaxies send out all kinds of light – not just visible light. The JWST can see the light invisible to our eyes and see it without the obstruction of our atmosphere. That light can tell us the history of creation and testify to the truthfulness of what the Bible says about creation.

In Job 38:6-7, God says to Job, “Upon what are the foundations of the earth fastened and who do you think laid the cornerstone when the morning stars sang together?” Dr. Acton says that he imagined the galaxies singing: “Not in any kind of language that people could understand, but certainly the emotion we can understand. I would call that emotion joy. It’s almost like the galaxies or the universe was happy that after all this time, we could finally see them.”

The pictures from this remarkable tool of astronomy will give us more evidence that the creation of the cosmos had a beginning in which time and space came into existence. We can see the evidence of design and purpose everywhere in the cosmos and on Earth. If there was a beginning, there had to be a cause, and that cause was “Elohim,” the God of Genesis 1:1.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Christian Chronicle for August 2022, pages 18-19.

Probability of a Life-Supporting Exoplanet

Planet Earth and the Probability of a Life-Supporting Exoplanet

One of my favorite columnists is Bob Berman, who writes in Astronomy magazine. Mr, Berman is a science writer who doesn’t have an ax to grind and doesn’t stoop to ridicule or hostility toward Christianity or faith in general. In the September 2022 issue, he referred to recent articles hinting that astronomers have found exoplanets better suited for life than planet Earth and examines the probability of a life-supporting exoplanet.

Berman lists a few of Earth’s unusual features. He points out that a planet being at the proper distance from its star to allow liquid water to exist is not that difficult to achieve. If you get the appropriate distance from a fire, you can have just about any temperature you want. Five other cases that Berman mentions are not that easy.

They include…
1) …having a nearby moon that stabilizes the axial tilt over long periods.
2) …not having lethal surface radiation.
3) …not having overactive volcanoes.
4) …having atmospheric gases that are used and produced by living organisms.
5) …having the right temperature underground. On Earth, surface temperatures disappear at about six inches, and at 30 feet, temperatures don’t change no matter what happens at the surface.

These are only five of the unique qualities of our home planet. Each design feature appears reasonable, but the probability of a life-supporting exoplanet depends on more than a single feature. Many planets may have one or two of the required variables, but to sustain life, ALL of them must be in place. That means you would have to MULTIPLY the probability of each individual variable to find the odds for life, especially advanced life, to exist on a planet.

The bottom line is that the probability of a life-supporting exoplanet is vastly greater than the number of stars in the cosmos. This planet is unique because it was designed by God to sustain life. Wisdom’s words in Proverbs 8:22-36 eloquently describe the process that gave us this extraordinary planet. We need to thank God for what we have been given–and take care of it.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Bob Berman in Astronomy magazine, September 2022, page 12
See a list containing 47 variables that make Earth unique in “Evidence for Design in the Universe,” adapted from a paper titled “Limits for the Universe” by astronomer Hugh Ross. It’s available free under “charts” on our doesgodexist.org website at THIS LINK.