Life Elsewhere in the Universe

Life Elsewhere in the Universe

A frequent obsession of modern Americans is the question of life elsewhere in the universe. In July 2023, Defense Department employee David Grusch testified before Congress, claiming government mishandling and deliberate misrepresentations about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) believed to be alien spacecraft. The media continues to sensationalize the idea of alien life and exaggerate the unexplained phenomena.

Alien life has no bearing on God’s existence. If there is life elsewhere in the universe, God created it. The belief that life from outer space could solve the problems of humans on Earth is unfortunate. Here are some erroneous assumptions people have recently made:

  1. Some people claim that objects from outside our solar system, such as Oumuamua in 2017, are sent by aliens to spy on us. Scientists have found meteorites with high abundances of beryllium, lanthanum, and uranium, which don’t match alloys found on Earth. These show no signs of alien creation, and no researcher claims any of these support alien life, even though they probably came from outside our solar system.
  2. India’s landing of a spacecraft on the south pole of the Moon was certainly a great accomplishment. However, scientists were interested in the south pole because of the possibility of frozen water there since direct sunlight does not reach that area. They did not expect to find life, and they didn’t.
  3. Concerns about the Cassini spacecraft contaminating Saturn with Earth organisms when it crashed into that planet and the landing of Huygens on Saturn’s moon Titan are not because of aliens. Saturn’s atmosphere and the cold on Titan make it impossible for life to exist there.
  4. Military pilot sightings of things they don’t understand can have many possible explanations, including reflections on the canopy or effects generated by military actions.

Looking for help from aliens to solve the problems we have on Earth is a waste of time and money. The solution to human struggles will not come from alien life elsewhere in the universe. We can find the solution to our struggles in the teachings of Jesus Christ who came to Earth two thousand years ago. He came from outside of space and time to show us the way, the truth, and the life. 

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: Article by Eric Lagatta in USA Today and Astronomy magazine for October 2023, page 54.

All These Things Will Be Dissolved

All These Things Will Be Dissolved

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night when the heavens will vanish with a great rushing sound, and the elements shall be scorched up and dissolved and the earth also and the works that are upon it will be laid bare – seeing that all these things shall be dissolved what devout and dedicated lives you should live.” – 2 Peter 3:10-11 

As we study the creation and learn more about the mechanisms that guide natural functions, we realize that biblical statements of God’s methods are scientifically factual. The theologian may simply say that God does it and leave it at that. Those of us with a science background are interested to see how God designed a system to accomplish His purposes. 

The statement of 2 Peter 3:10-11 is theological, but the description matches the latest scientific understanding of the nature of matter/energy. Scientific American magazine published an interesting article titled “Disappearing Act.” The article goes back to Stephen Hawking’s research, which showed that event horizons around black holes can emit “Hawking radiation,” which causes the black holes to evaporate. 

Researchers in quantum mechanics have shown how the “Schwinger effect” can apply this concept of matter evaporating to any form of matter, not just black holes. If their calculations are correct, it means that anything with mass, which is everything in the creation, is designed so that it will eventually evaporate. Since God created time, the timing of this evaporation is not open to science. 

Amazingly, the comment in 2 Peter that all these things will be dissolved cannot be seen as science fiction but as a picture of God’s creative power and wisdom of design. Indeed, the more we know of the creation, the more we comprehend the nature of the Creator.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: “Disappearing Act” in Scientific American magazine, September 2023, pages 9-10, and “Gravitational Pair Production and Black Hole Evaporation” in Physical Review Letters

A Lesson from the Dart Experiment

A Lesson from the Dart Experiment
Double Asteroid Redirection Test – DART

In September of 2022, NASA steered the DART spacecraft into an asteroid named Dimorphos, attempting to alter its orbit. The experiment was designed to see if we could change the path of an asteroid moving toward a collision with Earth. We can learn a lesson from the DART experiment.

It sounded like a good way to protect our planet from an asteroid impact. Scientists believe an asteroid collision may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, and a similar one might cause human extinction. The collision did alter the orbit of Dimorphos, which is comforting to know. However, it also caused more potential problems.

The Hubble Space Telescope observed 37 previously unseen objects accompanying Dimorphos in its orbit around the Sun. These are boulders probably blasted off from Dimorphos by the DART collision. They are not just little pieces of rock or dust. Some of the boulders are as large as seven meters in diameter. Calculations show that the weight of the 37 boulders adds up to 5,000 metric tons – the weight of 300 gravel-filled dump trucks.

This incident reminds us of the story of Frankenstein when a scientist created a being that turned into a monster. Dr. Frankenstein did not comprehend where his creation might go once it was out of his control. These boulders do not pose an immediate danger to the Earth but understand that meteorites striking Earth’s surface are generally quite small. The boulders caused by DART’s impact with Dimorphus would cause significant problems if they hit the Earth.

Humans can learn a lesson from this incident. We are not God, and our wisdom and knowledge are incomplete. As God said to Job, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) In our day of rejecting God and His Word, we must be reminded that altering the design God built into the creation of everything from galaxies to viruses can have tremendous consequences. We have seen that in COVID, and again, we can learn a lesson from the DART experiment.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: Science News for August 26, 2023, page 10.

How Fast Are You Spinning?

How Fast Are You Spinning?

You may think you are sitting still as you read this, but you are actually moving at tremendous speeds in various directions. You are on planet Earth which is rotating on its axis. The planet is also orbiting around the Sun. More than that, our solar system is spiraling around the Milky Way. Yes, the Milky Way is also moving in relation to other galaxies. It’s enough to make your head spin but let’s just look at Earth’s rotation. How fast are you spinning?

Earth’s circumference at the equator is about 24,900 miles, and a day, the time when Earth makes one rotation, is 24 hours. Therefore, if you are on the equator, you are moving at about 1040 miles per hour. Where I am, on the same latitude as Chicago, I am spinning around at 773 miles per hour. That’s because the circle at that latitude is much smaller. Those who live in Anchorage, Alaska, are moving at a leisurely 504 miles per hour. How fast are you spinning if you are standing on the North Pole? I doubt if any of our readers are doing that, but if so, you are just spinning in the same place like a top every 24 hours. Try not to get dizzy.

This spinning of Earth creates centrifugal force, which works against the pull of gravity. At Earth’s present rotational speed, if you moved to the equator from the North Pole, you would weigh about one pound less. Not a very efficient way to lose weight.

What would happen if Earth’s spin increased by one mile per hour? Centrifugal force would raise the ocean’s water level at the equator by a few inches and lower it in the Arctic Ocean. More noticeable would be that geosynchronous communications satellites would be out of their proper positions disrupting GPS services, satellite communications, television broadcasting, and military operations. A ten percent increase in Earth’s rotational speed would make the days only 22 hours long. And you thought you were having trouble getting everything done now. How fast are you spinning, and is the whole universe and our place in it just an accident?

What’s the point of all this? We have often discussed the many things that make this planet suitable for advanced life. Abundant water, a just-right tilt of the axis, the right spin, and a just-right Moon to stabilize the spin and speed. Those are only a few of Earth’s remarkable features. It almost seems that it was designed for a purpose by an intelligent Designer who knew we were coming.

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Acceleration of Time in the Cosmos

Acceleration of Time in the Cosmos

The Webb space telescope has shown an acceleration of time in the cosmos. Dr. Geraint Lewis and Dr. Brendon Brewer at the University of Sydney’s School of Physics and Astronomy authored a study of quasars that provides a way to measure time.

Quasars are highly luminous objects in space powered by supermassive black holes. The Webb telescope has observed a quasar that is so luminous it outshines the Milky Way galaxy by 100 times. As a quasar, its variations in brightness act as a cosmic clock. The researchers have determined that time flowed five times slower in the past than in our galaxy today.

This makes no sense to most of us until we remember that God created time. Time had a beginning, and the Hebrew of Genesis 1:1 makes that clear. The Bible also talks about things that happened before time began and describes God as being outside of time. (See Proverbs 8:23. Revelation 1:8, 1:11, 21:6, and 22:13/) The discoveries of the Webb telescope and quantum mechanics clearly show that time is not an ethereal substance but a created thing that flows through the physical world.

The measurements of time by the Webb telescope and in laboratories on Earth show an acceleration of time in the cosmos. The Bible refers to God stretching out the cosmos (Isaiah 40:22, 44:24, 45:12, and 51:13). That fits well with the evidence that the creation began with a singularity that was not merely a physical process but also the creation of space and time by the God who exists outside of space and time.

Ancient people looked to the sky and were amazed at
the creation they observed. Now that we have better tools and a fuller understanding of the processes, the wonder of creation is even greater than it was in Moses’ day.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: The journal Nature Astronomy for July 3, 2023

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence - Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan in 1987

It’s known as the Sagan standard and abbreviated ECREE. Carl Sagan, an American scientist, and agnostic, hosted the PBS program Cosmos in the 1980s. He said in the series, “I believe that the extraordinary should be pursued. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” He was talking about claims that aliens from space had visited Earth. But we can apply the principle to more than alien visitations.

The truth is that Sagan did not originate the ECREE concept. He just popularized it on television. The idea had been previously expressed many times by others. Even Thomas Jefferson described it in a letter he wrote in 1808 about the existence of meteorites, but he was much more wordy. (He used about three dozen words instead of Sagan’s five.)

What does the Sagan ECREE standard mean? It tells us that when we make an extraordinary claim, we must back it up with extraordinary evidence. How about the extraordinary secularist claim that everything we see came from nothing by means of nothing? If matter, energy, time, and space all originated at the “big bang,” and nothing existed before that, where is the extraordinary evidence to back up that claim? Could an eternal God existing outside of time and space be a better explanation for the universe?

If one claims that life originated from non-living chemicals without intelligent guidance, what is the extraordinary evidence for that? Even if science succeeds in creating life from non-living chemicals in the laboratory (and they are far from doing that), it would merely prove that intelligence can create life from non-life. That is what the Bible has said for thousands of years.

Once life got its start, what is the evidence that it evolved from species to species until it reached homo sapiens? We don’t see any extraordinary experimental or fossil record evidence of that either. To prove that natural selection acting on random mutations could accomplish a task that defies the second law of thermodynamics requires extraordinary evidence, which we don’t have.

We agree with the Sagan standard that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (ECREE). The question is, does all that we see in the universe and on our planet give extraordinary evidence of unguided random chance or design by an intelligent Creator?

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Reference: Wikipedia

An Astronaut Who Believes in the Bible and Science

An Astronaut Who Believes in the Bible and Science

“There are no atheists…on top of rockets” is the title of an article by B. T. Irwin, interviewing NASA astronaut Victor Glover. Glover has served on the International Space Station and will pilot NASA’s Artemis II Mission to the Moon next year. Glover is an astronaut who believes in the Bible and science. He talks about how the creation gives evidence for the existence of God. 

What is especially interesting is that Glover’s interview was published in The Christian Chronicle, a Church of Christ periodical. The Christian Chronicle has been antagonistic to our ministry because we refuse to dogmatically say the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. The Chronicle has also supported dispensational efforts by promoting Ken Ham’s material and the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter amusement park. Ham’s program promotes the 6000-year age of the Earth to support his dispensational doctrinal views. Victor Glover is an astronaut who believes in the Bible and science, as he explained it in these words:

“The moon is a time capsule for the Earth, and we think it’s old – about 4.5 billion years. And my preacher used to say to me, ‘Yeah, but NASA is wrong because I know the Earth is about 10,000 years old.’ I said, ‘How do you know that?’ He walked me through the lineages in the Bible, and I said, ‘But that doesn’t mark any specific time period.’ And it doesn’t need to because the power of the Gospel is not in a timeline. It’s in that message, in that promise, and that promise being kept. So they don’t actually work against each other like some people like to claim that they do. I had to navigate that because of my faith and my belief in science. I believe in both, and I don’t find them to be in conflict. And I think it’s helped me to be an ambassador to both sides.”

For 55 years, the “Does God Exist?” ministry has shown that science is a friend of faith. We have seen much opposition from the religious establishment as we struggle to undo the collateral damage of the rejection of science. Physical evidence continues to reveal the truth of the Bible. Even when it conflicts with human religious tradition, science is in total agreement with what the Bible says. Let us all pray that some who will not listen to us will listen to an astronaut who believes in the Bible and science. Many young souls are at stake in this false conflict between science and faith. 

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: The Christian Chronicle for July 2023, pages 22-23. 

Asteroid Strike from Space

Asteroid Strike from Space
Orbits of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids compiled by NASA

As our view of space and our solar system improves, astronomers have realized that space is a dangerous place. Space travel requires considering the many ways astronauts can be harmed when they leave Earth’s protection. It isn’t just cold and radiation and the damaging effects of weightlessness, but our solar system is full of rock material left over from the creation process. NASA must keep in mind the possibility of an asteroid strike from space.

NASA has plotted 1000 known “Potentially Hazardous Asteroids” (PHAs). These are documented boulders of rock and ice over 140 meters across that will pass within 7.5 million kilometers of Earth (about 20 times the distance to the Moon). Were a giant asteroid to strike Earth, the result would be catastrophic. There is evidence that this has happened in the past, probably causing mass extinctions on our planet.

NASA used the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission in 2022 to explore the possibility of redirecting an asteroid away from the Earth. We are talking about a large object, not the small pieces of rock and dust that strike the Earth every day, producing meteor displays and fireballs. NASA designed DART to find a way to prevent a catastrophic asteroid strike from space.

NASA has concluded that none of the asteroids known to astronomers will strike the Earth for at least the next 100 years. God created our planet in such a way that we are protected from destructive agents from outer space. The more we learn about space, the more we see the design and planning involved in creation.

The threat to humanity is what we do to ourselves, not any failure in the design of our planet. God has also given us a way to protect ourselves from each other, and we see that in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Read Matthew chapters 5-7, and you will see what Jesus told us. The selfishness and greed of humans threaten our existence individually and collectively. Human self-destruction is far more likely than a catastrophic asteroid strike from space.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day for June 30, 2023

Matter Greatly Exceeds Antimatter

Matter Greatly Exceeds Antimatter in the Universe - Large Hadron Collider
Part of the Large Hadron Collider

It’s “one of the Universe’s best-kept secrets” and a mystery that physicists are working to resolve. Every subatomic particle in the universe has an antimatter equivalent. Each atom consists of electrons, protons, and neutrons. The negative electrons have alternative positrons with a positive charge. If you could combine an electron and a positron, they would cancel each other. Protons and neutrons, which compose the nucleus of atoms, are made of smaller particles called quarks. There are also anti-quarks, and if you combined a quark and an anti-quark, they would explode and destroy each other. Our universe, and us, can only exist because matter greatly exceeds antimatter.

If matter and antimatter were in a state of symmetry with equal amounts, they would have destroyed each other, and nothing would exist. Scientists theorize that the creation event, or Big Bang, should have created an equal amount of matter and antimatter, so they wonder why the lack of symmetry. In other words, why does anything exist in the universe, our planet, and our bodies? The universe is made of matter, while antimatter is almost non-existent except in radioactive particle decay and particle colliders such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland and France.

According to the Standard Model of particle physics, physicists theorize that a “charge-conjugation parity violation” (CP) caused the lack of symmetry – but how and why? Physicists working with the LHC say particles and antiparticles can spontaneously transform from one to the other. LHC spokesperson Chris Parkes said, “Through more precise measurement, large improvements have been made in our knowledge. These are key parameters that aid our search for unknown effects from beyond our current theory.”

We can be thankful that in today’s universe, the amount of matter greatly exceeds antimatter. Since physicists are looking for an explanation, they may eventually solve the mystery. It will be interesting to see the scientific explanation for the lack of symmetry. Whatever process scientists discover, we suggest that this is another example where intelligence and wisdom provide a more reasonable ultimate explanation than accidental chance offers.

— Roland Earnst © 2023

References: CERN News and

The Cosmological Argument for God

The Cosmological Argument for God

Cosmology provides strong evidence for God’s existence. The basic cosmological argument for God involves three simple questions: 

1) Was there a beginning to time, space, and matter/energy? The evidence says there was.

2) Was the beginning caused or uncaused? Taking the position it was uncaused violates scientific conservation laws. 

3) If it was caused, what or who was the causer? The evidence is that the cause can not be blind, mechanistic chance. Logic suggests that the cause was an intelligence, in other words, God.

As more data becomes available to support intelligence as the cause of planet Earth, the cosmological argument for God becomes stronger. If we define life as that which can breathe, move, respond to outside stimuli, and reproduce, what is necessary for life to exist? Astronomers now talk about the habitable zone (HZ) of stars. This is the zone around stars where the temperature on a planet would allow water to exist in the liquid state on the surface. 

Recent discoveries have shown that M-class dwarf stars are the most common and longest-lived stars. The problem with these stars is that their HZ is very close to the star, so tidal forces would lock the rotation of any planet so its same side would always face the parent star. One side of the planet would be constantly hot while the other would be cold. Also, M-class stars would bombard these planets with stellar flares causing massive radiation levels that would eliminate any possibility of life. Other star types create various problems for a life-supporting planet. 

Astronomers have determined there is a galactic habitable zone (GHZ) in addition to the star’s habitable zone. A star must be far from the galactic center to have a planet with life on it. The high star density near the core of a galaxy exposes the star system to deadly supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. Mass distribution within a galaxy is also an issue because, near the galaxy’s core, mass concentrations cause gravitational instability. 

The basic cosmological argument for God is now supported by a vast number of parameters that must be within precise limits to allow life to exist in a planetary system. Having a large moon is essential to the survival of life on a planet. Likewise, having a shield against incoming cosmic bodies is critical. A body the size of Comet Hale Bopp hitting planet Earth would have sterilized it, killing even microbes that might be present. The Earth’s shield is the arrangement of the Jovian planets. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune preventing objects like Hale Bopp from reaching Earth. 

The more we look at the cosmos, the unique qualities of our planet reinforce the cosmological argument for God. Proverbs 8 personifies Wisdom speaking of God’s creative power and design. As we learn more about the cosmos, the stronger the evidence becomes that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). 

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: “Is Earth the Only Goldilocks Planet?” by Klaus R. Brasch in Astronomy Magazine for July 2023, pages 18-23.