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, or purchase it with a study guide from 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: and

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


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: and

The 2024 Solar Eclipse Is a Rare Event

The 2024 Solar Eclipse Is a Rare Event
Image Credit:

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: and

Earthquake Catastrophe Risk

Earthquake Catastrophe Risk 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

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.

The Effects of Plasmas

The Effects of Plasmas in a Plasma Ball
Plasma Ball

Most people are familiar with the three states of matter—solid, liquid, and gas. However, they may not know there is a fourth state of matter—plasma. You may be surprised to learn that plasmas are the most abundant form of matter in the cosmos. The effects of plasmas can help us understand many UFO sightings and may be the method God used to accomplish some of His work on Earth.

When matter becomes hot enough or is altered by strong magnetic fields, the electrons may split away from their parent atoms. When that happens, the electrons and the ionized nucleus give off light. Stars are made of plasma produced by the intense heat of their nuclear fires. We see examples of plasmas in our daily lives in fluorescent and neon lights and lightning.

Plasma can move in various ways and become attracted to solid matter. People have observed plasmas following aircraft and around nuclear power plants. NASA astronauts have seen large plasmas moving through space. When they descend into Earth’s atmosphere, they become attracted to almost anything, especially things with great heat or a strong magnetic field. Plasmas can have many shapes, including balls, cigar shapes, and disks. Many UFO sightings are almost sure to be the effects of plasmas.

Could God have used plasmas to produce some of the visual effects the Bible describes? The star of Bethlehem, the bush Moses saw that was not consumed, and the pillar of fire that led ancient Israel are all possible plasmas. How about the extended sunshine in Joshua 10? God can use natural methods for many of the things the Bible describes. Relegating them to superstition or myth is ignoring the reasonable causes we know exist. In the Bible or UFO sightings, observers may see the effects of plasmas and not understand what they are.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Wikipedia

The Habitability of Mars Is Bogus

The Habitability of Mars Is Bogus

The media presents Mars as the next home for humanity. The main reasons include that it is our closest planet, has received massive treatment by science fiction writers, and scientists say it has an earth-like history. However, a significant amount of data from robotic spacecraft has exposed the fact that the habitability of Mars is bogus.

Mars doesn’t even begin to approach the conditions necessary for humans to exist on its surface. We are realizing that planet Earth is a very, very unusual place. Discover magazine published an excellent summary of what Mars is like and how difficult it would be for human habitation. The enormous distance to Mars is an obvious problem, but consider these facts:

1) Mars is a barren desert with temperatures regularly hitting -81 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) The air on Mars is 95% carbon dioxide, and no liquid water has been found on its surface.
3) Mars’s magnetic field and atmosphere would not provide adequate protection against cosmic radiation, known to cause massive health problems for humans.
4) The Martian soil contains perchlorates, toxic compounds of chlorine. Growing plants on Mars for food would be impossible because of this and because the amount of sunlight reaching the surface of Mars is about 60% of that on Earth.
5) Mars is smaller than Earth, and thus, its gravity is less. Experiments show that constant physical training would be required for anyone staying on Mars for any significant time.

The bottom line is that the habitability of Mars is bogus. Living there would be extremely difficult. People would have to take with them the things God has provided on Earth. Living on Mars would require synthetic buildings that duplicate Earth-like conditions. They may have to be underground for radiation protection.

Something that the media and most of the general population have not understood is that the planet God has given us is unique, and the habitability of Mars is bogus. There is no place in our solar system where humans can exist without making extreme provisions. Please don’t take what we have on planet Earth for granted. It is an incredible gift created for us, and the Creator expects all of us to take care of it.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: March/April 2024 issue of Discover magazine

Blaming God For Human Mismanagement

Blaming God For Human Mismanagement
Smoke from record-setting fire currently burning in Texas

Our hearts go out to those who have lost property and maybe even loved ones to the so-called natural disasters that have increased in frequency and size. Few of these disasters are the typical product of nature. What God created has always been in balance and functioned without the massive changes we are seeing in today’s world, but skeptics are blaming God for human mismanagement.

Among the disasters that have increased in number and ferocity are wildfires. They destroyed massive numbers of trees, causing a shortage of wood and wood products, destroying homes and businesses, and even entire towns. The Nature Conservancy reported that the average wildfire size today is 23,000 acres. In the 1980’s, the average wildfire size was 7,000 acres. A currently burning wildfire in Texas has destroyed more than one million acres.

Those of us with some training in environmental management know that the “Smokey the Bear” idea of preventing any kind of fire was an ignorant practice. In the natural world, lightning and spontaneous combustion produce small fires. When you allow leaves and dead wood to accumulate for decades, a lightning strike can cause a massive fire with lots of fuel for combustion. Even the amount of smoke these huge fires generate threatens people living thousands of miles away.

God has used fires in surprising ways. There are some trees whose seeds do not germinate unless they have been exposed to fire. Some animals depend on naturally burned-over areas to produce food such as berries and nuts. Still, we have been in some areas where the fire’s massive heat sterilized the area, preventing anything from growing.

Skeptics are blaming God for human mismanagement that has caused the devastating fires we are seeing today. A major cause of today’s catastrophic fires is human prevention of naturally occurring small fires. We need to recognize that the intelligence of design has kept woodlands healthy and stable in the past. We must work with that design intelligently to avoid the tragic pictures we see on the news.

We also need to understand that there are some places where humans should not build buildings. We all know that Los Angeles and San Francisco straddle the San Andreas fault, which has produced severe earthquakes in the past and will do it again. When that happens, skeptics will be blaming God for human mismanagement, even though the warnings were there. We know what we must do, but greed and selfishness seem to rule the day instead of intelligent management of what God has given us.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

References: The Nature Conservancy newsletter first issue for 2024 (page 13) and NBC News