What Does the Solstice Confirm?

What Does the Solstice Confirm?

At 5:14 a.m. EDT this morning (09:14 GMT), the slow northward migration of the Sun reached its peak. As a result, daylight hours are maximized, and the hours of darkness are minimized for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. For those south of the equator, the opposite is true. In the north, we call the June solstice our summer solstice, and in the south half of our planet, it’s known as the winter solstice. So what does the solstice confirm?

In truth, the Sun has not been migrating north since December 21. It just looks that way. At a precise time this morning, the Sun appears to begin its trek southward, and daylight will be a little shorter each day. In North America, we think of this as the first day of summer, but people in Scandanavian countries call it midsummer. In Sweden, Norway, Finland, and other countries many people celebrate June 24 as Midsummer’s Day.

People living north of the Arctic circle will experience the “midnight sun” today. However, south of the Antarctic circle, it will be 24 hours of darkness. This is because of the 23.5-degree tilt of Earth’s axis relative to its orbit around the Sun. That is why we have seasons and the explanation of today’s solstice. But what does the solstice confirm?

Earth’s tilt is no accident. God planned it that way for good reason. (See Genesis 1:14.) As we have explained before, the hot sunshine would constantly beat down on the equator without the Earth’s tilt, making it inhospitable for life and leaving the northern and southern latitudes too cold. The lack of seasonal change would negatively affect life in many ways.

So, what does the solstice confirm? It is one more confirmation of design. We often overlook the well-designed features of this planet that make advanced life possible. Considering even a few of them, we have to say it didn’t happen by chance. When we realize all of Earth’s precision design features, we must admit that the best explanation is an intelligent Designer.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

Do We Have Enough Water?

Do We Have Enough Water?

Parade Magazine published a question to Marilyn Vos Savant in which the writer asked, “If you had a cubic mile of water in a tank, and you start pumping it at 1000 gallons per minute, how long would it take to empty the tank?” Her answer was it would take over 2,000 years. There are many places on Earth where we have more than a cubic mile of water. The essential question is, “Do we have enough water?” The answer is that if we used what God has given us wisely, we would not have a water problem.

If we have enough water, why is there a water shortage as lakes dry up in California and Arizona? Also, why are people facing water shortages in drought conditions worldwide? God has given us enough water, but we are not doing a good job of distributing it. We can take the minerals from seawater to make fresh water. The energy cost to do that is high, but technology has greatly reduced it from what it used to be.

We have pipelines that carry liquid fossil fuels to enormous distances. If you think that building a water pipeline from the ocean to a destination hundreds of miles away is too expensive, consider how much money humans spend on war and weapons to harm others. It is disappointing to hear and read skeptics blaming God for the suffering involved in water shortages when they result from human ignorance, greed, and politics.

Genesis 2:6 tells us that a mist from the ground watered the planet in the creation process. Verses 10-14 describe four rivers coming from a source that flowed out of Eden. The area of the world where those rivers flow is part of the Fertile Crescent, which has a history of producing vast volumes of grain to provide food for humans and animals.

Do we have enough water?
The answer is yes. Anywhere on Earth can be an Eden if we merely take care of our planet’s God-given water supplies.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Parade Magazine May 22-29, 2022

Strawberry Supermoon and What It Means

Strawberry Supermoon and What It Means

It’s the final full moon of spring 2022, and people call it the strawberry supermoon. The name “strawberry moon” dates back to colonial times and perhaps native Americans. It has nothing to do with the Moon’s color but the fact that the last of spring or first of summer full moon comes when strawberries are ripening. This year, it’s a supermoon because it comes when the Moon is closest to Earth.

Our Moon has a slightly elliptical orbit, bringing it closer or farther away during the year. On average, it is about 30 Earth diameters away, and the distance varies by about one Earth diameter. That is just enough to make the size difference barely noticeable. The point when the Moon is closest to Earth is called perigee, and today it just happens to be 222,238 miles (357,658 km). That isn’t maximum perigee, but it is close enough to earn the title strawberry supermoon.

No matter what anyone tells you, the Moon is not about to crash into the Earth. In fact, it is gradually moving away from Earth at about 3.8 cm per year. At that rate, you don’t have to worry about the Moon flying off into space in your lifetime. Also, despite rumors to the contrary, you don’t have to worry about the full moon making you crazy or increasing psychiatric traumas, murders, or other crimes. Since criminals like the cover of darkness, perhaps the extra light at night might discourage nefarious activity, but I haven’t seen any statistics on that. Everyone knows that the gravity of the Moon is the main cause of ocean tides, but the slight difference in gravity from supermoons makes a negligible difference.

The strawberry supermoon peaked at 7:51 a.m. EDT (1151 GMT) on Tuesday morning, June 14, but you may not have been able to see it then. It will still look almost full tonight, so as you admire it, thank God for our wonderful Moon. It won’t crash into Earth, make you crazy, or cause an increase in crimes. However, our Moon does have many life-supporting functions, as we have discussed before. Below are links to some of our previous postings.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

Planet-Moon Size Ratio

Why Does the Moon Look Larger Near the Horizon?

Our Essential Moon and Life on Earth

Opening the Suez Canal by the Moon’s Gravity

Moon Record in the Solar System

Moon Causes Tides

Moon Mass and Life on Earth

Just Right Moon

Why Does Anything Exist?

Why Does Anything Exist?

Why is there something rather than nothing? Most scientists today agree that the universe had a beginning. They disagree on how it began, but they largely accept the idea that it began to exist. However, another question many ask is, “Why does anything exist?” If there was nothing before the universe began, why are we here?

If nothing existed before the universe began, it is difficult to explain why there is anything at all. Some scientists have tried redefining “nothing” to make it “something.” Sometimes they suggest that something is gravity. So, if gravity existed before there was anything, where did the gravity come from? What they are doing is to substitute gravity for God, but how can there be gravity without mass?

Isaac Newton described gravity as the attraction between objects that have mass. The more mass, the more gravity pulls them together. That was the accepted theory until Einstein devised a new idea. His theory defined gravity as a curvature in space-time, which is the accepted concept today. But, according to scientists, the cosmic creation event (usually referred to as the big bang) was also the beginning of space and time. So, where does gravity come from if there is no space-time or matter-energy? That still does not answer the question, “Why does anything exist?”

Of course, if science says that gravity existed before anything else, atheists argue that it is no different from saying that God existed before anything else. Who or what made God? Everything that begins to exist must indeed have a cause. However, God is eternal. He did not begin to exist. God is the first cause, the unmade Maker, the necessarily existing uncaused Being. If God created time and space, He is outside of time and space. God existed before time, but even using the term “before” shows that we are limited to thinking in time terms. There is no before or after with God. He knows the future because He can see the entire timeline of the cosmos, viewing it from the outside.

So back to our original question, “Why does anything exist?” We can say that everything exists because God exists. God chose to create this fine-tuned universe of space, time, matter, and energy. Since God is outside of time, He can hear the prayers of millions of people all over the world at the same time. There I go using that “time” word again. We can’t think outside of time because we can’t live outside of time. If we could, for just a moment (another time word), step outside of history’s timeline and see it from God’s perspective, we could understand why God allows things to happen. We could understand the things that make us ask, “Why doesn’t God stop that from happening?” We could see the conclusion of all things. We would know that because of God’s wisdom, justice, and love, the conclusion is good.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

Earth Is a Complex Living Planet

Earth Is a Complex Living Planet - Hunga Volcano on Tonga
Eruption of Hunga Volcano on Tonga January 14, 2022

In 1883, an Indonesian volcano named Krakatoa, or Krakatau, erupted. In August of that year, the volcano exploded with such fury that 70% of the island collapsed into the caldera. The explosion was so violent that people heard it thousands of miles away. On January 15, 2022, Tonga’s Hunga volcano exploded. That island nation was devastated, and people heard the booms in Alaska, 6,200 miles (almost 10,000 km) away. Events such as those remind us that Earth is a complex living planet.

On January 14, 2022, the Hunga volcano erupted, apparently sinking the volcano’s main vent below sea level. That set up conditions for the volcano to explode the next day. Because of the capabilities of modern science, a team of 76 scientists in 17 nations studied the atmospheric waves created by the explosion, concluding that they were the strongest since the Krakatau explosion nearly 140 years ago. David Fee of the University of Alaska Fairbanks said, “Our hope is that we will be better able to monitor volcanic eruptions and tsunamis by understanding the atmospheric waves from this eruption.”

Earth is a complex living planet with massive forces at work, constantly changing its surface. The North American land mass is unusually stable, allowing us to build huge buildings and large cities, but much of the world is not that stable. In recent years, we have learned that the continents move, bringing to the surface new minerals and nutrients needed for life. In addition, in the ocean trenches, material is taken back into Earth’s core to be reworked and brought back to Earth’s crust.

The more we learn about our planet and the forces that have molded and shaped it to make life possible, the more apparent it becomes that life is extraordinary and the habitat that supports it is unique. Therefore, taking care of this beautiful creation of God is essential, and part of that is understanding that Earth is a complex living planet.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: National Science Foundation and the journal Science.

Planet-Moon Size Ratio

Planet-Moon Size Ratio - Earth and Moon

What is the optimum size for a planet to form a just-right moon? According to a new study, the short answer to that question is, “Just about the size of planet Earth.” Is that another coincidence or a matter of design? First, let’s consider the planet-moon size ratio.

The radius of the Moon is a little more than one-fourth of Earth’s radius. That four-to-one ratio is unlike any other planet-moon size ratio in our solar system. The solar system’s largest moon is Ganymede which orbits Jupiter. It is one-third larger than our Moon, but Jupiter is more than 11 times the diameter of Earth. The essential factor is that our Moon is larger in relation to the size of the planet it orbits than any other moon in the solar system.

Scientists believe that our Moon was formed when a planet the size of Mars collided with the early Earth. The heat caused by the collision vaporized the material, which eventually congealed to form the Moon and planet Earth. (See Genesis 1:1-2.) The angle of that collision was precisely fine-tuned to result in a planet and moon with the exact size ratio for the Moon to control Earth’s tilt, rotation speed, and ocean tides, as well as perfectly covering the Sun during a total solar eclipse.

To suggest that the creation of a planet perfect for advanced life could have been an accident requires that you have a lot of faith in chance. But a new study by researchers from the University of Rochester in New York adds even more evidence for design. They found that a planet more than 1.3 to 1.6 times Earth’s size could not form a moon that would have the “life-enabling effects” that our Moon has.

Computer modeling shows that if larger planets collided, the energy of the impact would vaporize the material, but a stabilizing moon could not form. The vaporized material would cause drag on the planet, slowing it down so much that gravity would cause any material that congealed to crash into the planet. Not only is the planet-moon size ratio essential, but so also is the size of the colliding bodies.

Numerous factors beyond the planet-moon size ratio must be just right for a functional, life-supporting planet to form. Our planet meets every one of those requirements, and so far, astronomers have not found any other planet that does. The Bible does not tell us whether God chose to create life on another suitable planet anywhere in the universe. However, scientists will never stop looking for it. In the meantime, they keep finding factors that show evidence of intelligent design everywhere in the universe.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

References: Space.com and Nature Communications

Climate Change Is Not New

Evidence in Zion National Park that  Climate Change Is Not New
Petrified Sand Dunes in Zion National Park

The author of Ecclesiastes wrote a great deal about the futility of life and the failing of human knowledge. In the first chapter, Solomon writes, “What has been will be again, … is there anything of which one can say ‘look this is something new’? It was here already long ago. It was here before our time.” With that in mind, climate change is not new and should not be a cause for religious fervor.

Many historical passages in the Bible tell about drought, famine, and changes in the weather. Why did the brothers of Joseph go to Egypt? (See Genesis 41:56-57.) Why did the ancient prophet pray for rain? (See 1 Kings 18:41-44 and James 5:17-18.)

Those of us trained in geology who know how to read the rock layers and understand what environment produced them can clearly see that Earth’s climate has changed throughout time. For example, in Zion National Park, petrified sand dunes tell us that area at one time experienced warming far greater than what we see today. Where we live in Michigan, glacial moraines, eskers, and lakes abound, giving solid evidence that the climate was very cold at one time in the past.

Earth’s design is amazing. Because our area experienced glaciers, we have no shortage of water. There is no bedrock visible because sand and gravel make up the terrain, and water seeps into the ground rather than running off. Climate change melted the glaciers, leaving an ideal environment for human habitation. Thus climate change is not new, and God’s design of Earth is alive and active, allowing a constantly changing environment to support life.

In 2022, we find climate modifying Earth again. The polar caps are melting, and the sea level is rising, resulting in wind and ocean current changes. As in the past, God’s design is bringing water to places that have previously been desserts, allowing crops to grow in areas that could not support them. Climate change is not new but has always been part of our planet’s design.

Will we need to make adjustments to these climate changes? Yes, of course, but God has given humans the ability to do that. We can change crops, adjust waterways, control wildfires, and even move populations when necessary. Let us not wring our hands and treat God’s design for replenishing the planet as if it were something evil. Today, our major problems are human problems of immorality and a refusal to live as God has called us to. By our actions, we can reduce the severity of global warming and use its change to our benefit.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Why Does the Moon Look Larger Near the Horizon?

Why Does the Moon Look Larger Near the Horizon?
Full Moon over New York City

Perhaps you saw the total lunar eclipse last night, or maybe it was only umbral (partial) in your area. Either way, it reminds us of God’s intricate design that allows advanced life on this planet. As you watched the Moon, you may have seen it close to the horizon or high in the sky. Why does the Moon look larger near the horizon? Is it really larger, or are your senses being fooled?

Here is a simple experiment you can do with a camera or smartphone. Take a picture of the Moon when it rises and then take another picture of it high in the sky on the same night. Now compare the Moon’s size in the two pictures. You will see that the Moon is the same size. Better yet, stretch out your arm and compare the Moon’s size to your thumb at the two positions on the same night.

If you are thinking that the Moon looks larger at the horizon because it is farther away at that time, that is clearly not the case. The Moon’s distance, and therefore apparent size, does vary somewhat throughout the year, but not on the same night. The difference in apparent size when the Moon is closest to Earth and farthest away is only about 7%. The human eye can barely detect that difference.

So why does the Moon look larger near the horizon? First, realize that it is not our eyes but the human brain that does the seeing. When the Moon is near the horizon, we compare it to distant trees and buildings that we know are large, so we think the Moon looks larger. However, when it is in the middle of the vast, open sky, the Moon seems small by comparison.

We interpret what we see based on previous experiences and prejudices. That means our brain interprets new information filtered through those prejudices. That brings up another question. How does the human mind interpret other areas of understanding, such as the existence of God? Are there filters in your line of sight that can block you from seeing the truth?

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Discover Magazine

The Only Lunar Eclipse Visible In North America In 2022

The Only Lunar Eclipse Visible In North America In 2022
A Total Lunar Eclipse or “Blood Moon”

This Sunday night, May 15-16, 2022, a total lunar eclipse will be visible in the Western Hemisphere. It will be the only lunar eclipse visible in North America in 2022. The totality will be visible in the eastern United States and Canada and all of Central and South America. It will also be visible in Antarctica, but most of the population seeing it there will be penguins. The partial, or penumbral, eclipse will be visible in the western U.S. and Canada as well as Africa, Europe, and other areas. To find out exactly if or when you can see it in your area, go to TimeandDate.com.

Lunar eclipses occur at the time of the full moon. People commonly call May’s full moon the Flower Moon since it’s the time of year when many flowers are blooming in the Northern Hemisphere. Full moons occur approximately once per month when Earth is between the Moon and the Sun. A couple of times per year, the alignment is so precise that the Moon falls within Earth’s shadow, creating an eclipse. That will happen only one more time this year, on November 8, which also happens to be election day in the United States. However, the November eclipse of the Moon is no omen for the elections, and it won’t even be visible in the United States.

A total lunar eclipse, often called a “blood moon because of its color, is not an omen of anything, despite what some false prophets may suggest. It is a natural function of the solar system God created for us. We can know precisely when eclipses of the Sun and Moon will occur because our solar system is not chaotic. Our Creator gave us an orderly, life-sustaining system in which to live and carry out His plan. With that in mind, enjoy the only lunar eclipse visible in North America in 2022. Let it be a reminder of God’s creative wisdom and His love. (See Genesis 1:16 and Psalms 72:5-7.)

— Roland Earnst © 2022

The Unique Design of Our Solar System

The Unique Design of Our Solar System
Our Solar System (Distances and Locations Not to Scale)

We have pointed out that recent reports from NASA reveal that astronomers have found more than 5000 planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. These extra-solar planets show that our solar system is a rarity in space. The unique design of our solar system strongly supports the idea that it is a product of intelligent creation, not a cosmic accident.

One might suggest that having a life-bearing planet is like trying to shoot something. If you shoot enough times, you will eventually hit the target. So likewise, if we find enough planets outside of our solar system, we will ultimately find one like Earth that can support life and even beings like ourselves. However, recent discoveries show that our solar system is so unique that it cannot be a chance production.

One discovery from the observation of exoplanets is the uniqueness of having a rocky planet orbiting this far from a star. In a study of 169 detected and confirmed rocky planets orbiting nuclear burning stars, more than 90% of them orbit their stars ten times more closely than Earth orbits the Sun. Being closer to their stars would mean that the lighter elements in those planets would be burned away, so those planets should be denser than our rocky planets. However, the data shows the exoplanets have a density of 4.472 grams/cc, while Mercury, Venus, and Earth are 5.395 grams/cc. What does this fact suggest?

The starting point for interpreting this data is the Sun. It has a very unusual lack of refractory elements (those elements which boil easily). That is especially true of lithium which is 170 times lower in abundance in the Sun than in the rest of the solar system. Scientists have advanced various theories about why that is, but it means that the Sun’s flaring activity is at a very low level compared with similar stars. Thus the Sun has an exceptionally low level of harmful ultraviolet and X-ray radiation.

As we look at rocky extra-solar planets orbiting other stars, we see they are very close to their stars. Since the stars would burn off the light elements with low boiling temperatures, we would expect to see rocky material left behind. The fact that our Sun has rocky planets that are farther away is because of the Sun’s unusually low levels of refractory elements and low levels of ultraviolet and X-ray radiation.

Other factors about exoplanet systems demonstrate the unique design of our solar system. For example, Earth’s chemical composition is unique. The extra-solar planets scientists have studied do not have the chemicals needed in the amounts required for advanced life forms to exist. Also, our Moon plays an essential role in the system that allows Earth to retain its atmosphere and hydrosphere.

With more data from astronomers studying extra-solar planets, it becomes increasingly clear that our Sun and our solar system are not typical products of accidental chances in space. The number of parameters that our unique solar system possesses speak of design. The unique design of our solar system shows that God’s creative hand has done much more than we imagined. This shows the truth of the old cliche that “the more we know of the creation, the more we appreciate the role of the Creator.”

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: We thank Gary Colvin for sending us the spring 2022 issue of Salvo magazine, which contains the article “Sun In a Million” written and documented by astronomer Hugh Ross.