Media Hype About Exoplanets

Media Hype About Exoplanets

The media continue to make scientifically inaccurate claims to an unsuspecting public. Media hype about exoplanets suggests that life on Earth is not unique, and many habitable planets exist throughout the cosmos. A USA Today article on May 31, 2024, refers to exoplanet Gliese 12 b as a “super-Earth.” It quotes Dr. Masayuki Kuzuhara, assistant professor at the Astrobiology Center in Tokyo, saying, “Although we don’t know whether it possesses an atmosphere, we’ve been thinking of it as an exo-Venus with similar size and energy received from its star as our planetary neighbor in the solar system.” So, what are the facts about Gliese 12 b?

Gliese 12 b is very close to the star Gliese – just 7% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. That means the radiation from the parent star is sweeping across the planet, and because it orbits once every 12.8 days, any activity on the star will dramatically affect the planet. Gliese is a red dwarf star, not a star like our Sun. It is only 27% of the size of our Sun, with about 60% of the Sun’s surface temperature. Red dwarf stars do not emit wavelengths of light needed for life forms like us. Understand that life cannot exist when the only light reaching the planet is Xrays, UV, Infrared, and radio waves.

Considering all these factors, it is highly improbable that Gliese 12 b has an atmosphere, and the presence of water, oxygen, hydrogen, or ammonia has not been detected and is unlikely to be found. Despite the media hype about exoplanets, there is no scientific evidence to support the existence of life without these elements.

Critics will say, “Maybe the life forms out there are not like us and can survive under different kinds of radiation.” Life is defined as that which can move, breathe, respond to outside stimuli, and reproduce. If you want to speculate that life can be fire people or stone people, you can do so, but scientifically, such hypothetical forms do not qualify as “life.” There is no evidence anywhere that such forms exist.

When you know the facts of what life requires, you cannot logically believe that life forms different from ours can exist in the physical creation. Media hype about exoplanets suggests alternatives that have no scientific support. Science supports Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heaven (space) and the Earth.”

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: sci.news and iopscience.iop.org

God Used Two Methods

God Used Two Methods to bring everything into existence

In the Spring 2024 issue of God and Nature, Dr. John Carpenter has an excellent article on God’s two methods for bringing things into existence. Dr. Carpenter, a Hebrew and Greek scholar, brings a great understanding of two Hebrew terms in Genesis. Genesis uses the terms “bara” and “asah” to show that God used two methods to bring everything into existence.

The first method that Genesis refers to, “bara,” is creating the physical world and time into existence from nothing. Proverbs 8:22-23 describes this as wisdom and says, “The Lord brought me forth as the first of His works before His deeds of old. I was formed long ages ago at the very beginning when the world came to be.” The Hebrew word “bara” is never used to refer to something humans can do. We find it in Genesis 1:1. It is not used again until Genesis 1:27 to describe humans as being in the image of God, referring to our spiritual makeup. Genesis 2:3 describes the two methods God used: “And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created (bara) and made (asah).”

That brings us to the second method God used to bring things into existence. “Asah” refers to things that both God and humans can do. That is to take what has already been created and change it to something new. Everything from Genesis 1:2 to Genesis 1:26 involves God making, not creating. The only other Hebrew word that refers to this process is “yatsar” used in Genesis 2:7. That term describes what a potter would do and is used here to refer to God forming the man’s human body, not his spiritual makeup in God’s image).

God used two methods to “create” and “make.” Humans have duplicated what God has done in making things, including work in genetics and genome projects. What sets humans apart from everything else is not our physical makeup. The difference between human DNA and other primates’ DNA is not huge, but human spiritual makeup is a huge difference.

Unfortunately, many denominations refuse to take the Bible literally and twist it to fit their creeds. Science and the Bible agree 100% in what they say, but bad science and bad theology do exist. No one has all the answers, but the evidence is there for all to see and study. Listen to God and not to human theologies, which were an issue in Paul’s day and are an even greater issue today.

In our booklet “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word,” we echo the same point that the Genesis account, with its use of “bara” and “asah,” demonstrates that God used two methods to bring everything into existence. This understanding, when coupled with a literal interpretation of the Bible, reveals a remarkable harmony between science and the Bible, providing reassurance of their compatibility.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: John B. Carpenter in God and Nature, a publication of the American Scientific Affiliation, spring 2024

What Created the Universe from Nothing?

Dr. Robert Jastrow - What Created the Universe from Nothing?
Dr. Robert Jastrow (1925-2008)

At the beginning of the 20th century, many scientists, including astronomers and physicists, believed that the universe was eternal. Since it had no beginning, there was no need to explain what created the universe. In other words, there was no need for God.

That began to change in 1905 with Albert Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity. His calculations indicated that the universe was either expanding or contracting, but he could not accept that. He invented a “cosmological constant” to balance the effect of gravity. Other scientists recognized his error, which he later admitted was the greatest blunder of his life. Then Georges Lemaître theorized, and Edwin Hubble confirmed that the universe was expanding. Since it is expanding, going back in time to the distant past, the universe would become progressively smaller until it began as an infinitely small and dense “singularity.” That was the beginning of time, space, matter, and energy.

The concept of a beginning posed a significant challenge for many scientists due to its religious implications. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century, science continued to confirm that the universe had a beginning. Robert Jastrow, a prominent American physicist and director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was one such scientist. Despite describing himself as an “agnostic, and not a believer,” He found the idea of a beginning unsettling as it implied a Creator. In his 1978 book God and the Astronomers, he expressed his discomfort in these words:

“This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: In the beginning God created heaven and earth… The development is unexpected because science has had such extraordinary success in tracing the chain of cause and effect backward in time. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Even though scientists have scaled that mountain and made great progress in determining when the universe was created, they still cannot explain what created it from nothing. If there was nothing, how can there be a “what” to do the creating? Many scientists are believers in God, but others need to turn to the Bible to find the eternal Creator, the uncaused cause, the One Who created the universe and us for a purpose.

— Roland Earnst © 2024

The Precision of the Cosmos Shows Design

The Precision of the Cosmos Shows Engineering Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

— John N. Clayton © 2024

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

The 2024 Solar Eclipse Is a Rare Event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Roland Earnst © 2024

References: Space.com and GreatAmericanEclipse.com

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

Star and Planet Formation

Star and Planet Formation and the Webb Telescope
Webb image of the Tarantula Nebula star-forming region

Yesterday, we discussed the new information about the construction and size of the cosmos we are learning from the James Webb Space Telescope. The Webb telescope shows us the size of God’s physical creation as NASA continues to pump out new discoveries and better understandings of star and planet formation. Search “James Webb Telescope” on your computer and see for yourself.

One of the better understandings from recent Webb telescope data is what it takes to make a planet like Earth. The conventional understanding of planet formation was that as stars formed, they threw off material that gravity pulled together, forming planets. The Webb telescope has the resolving power and the infrared light-gathering ability to observe planet formation in different stages.

The first step in planet formation is for the star to actively produce elements needed for terrestrial planet formation. Quiet stars do not make the necessary elements since heavier elements will move toward the star’s center, not outwards. The star must spin fast enough to throw out the required heavy materials. That means gaseous planets like Jupiter are much more common in the cosmos than terrestrial planets like Earth.

The heavier elements in a planet come from exploding stars. That means planets will be more likely in certain types of galaxies, and galaxies have an evolutionary history, changing with time. The Webb telescope actually observes the changes in galaxies and star and planet formation. The creation process is still active, and new planets are being formed as we watch.

In manufacturing, we know that a machine is designed to take raw materials and mold and shape them into the desired final product. Years ago, I worked for a man who designed and built such machines, and his wisdom and creativity were incredible to watch. This designer didn’t use a blueprint or follow a manual. He had the skill to comprehend what the final machine would look like and what it would do.

As we watch star and planet formation take place, we see the wisdom and creativity of God. The writer of Proverbs wrote, “O you simple ones, understand wisdom and you foolish ones, be of an understanding heart” (Proverbs 8:5). The Webb telescope allows us to see the wisdom of the Creator in ways we have never imagined.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

What We Learn from the Webb Telescope

What We Learn from the Webb Telescope
Webb image of star-forming region NGC 3324 in Carina Nebula

With all the distractions going on in the world, it is easy to miss perhaps the most remarkable engineering accomplishment of human history. A telescope launched on Christmas Day 2021 is now much further from Earth than the Moon is. The Webb Space Telescope consists of 18 hexagonal mirrors with a total area of 273 square feet (69.54 x 46.46 feet) and can see things in space that can’t be viewed from Earth’s surface. The cost to make the telescope and place it in space was 10 billion dollars, so is it worth the price? Yes, it is! What we learn from the Webb telescope tells us more about God.

More than 40 years ago, J.B. Phillips wrote a book titled Your God is Too Small. The first thing we learned from the Webb telescope is that the cosmos is much bigger than we can imagine. The telescope can see things that no optical device on Earth can. We live in a galaxy containing roughly 100 billion stars, and we know there are many other galaxies in space. Webb has shown us vast numbers of distant galaxies, and as we measure how far away they are, we see what the creation looked like billions of years ago.

Let me give you a simple explanation of what that means. If you travel to a place 100 miles away at 50 miles per hour, how long will it take to get there? The answer is two hours. When we measure how far away these galaxies are, we can tell when the light we see left them. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Doing the same calculation, we know the light reaching the Webb telescope left those galaxies some 13 billion years ago. We are looking backward in time to near the beginning of creation.

The latest pictures from Webb show that these old galaxies are flat like a sheet of paper. We learn from the Webb telescope that the creator was molding and shaping galaxies into a form that would allow planets and, ultimately, life to exist. As we understand the creation process, we see power beyond what we can imagine. Like all scientific discoveries, that raises many new and exciting questions for us to study and understand. It further tells us how unique Earth is and raises an old question the ancients asked about God, “What is man that you are mindful of him” (Psalms 8:4).

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Major Factors for Rejecting Faith in God

Major Factors for Rejecting Faith in God

Polls show that belief in God among Americans has declined over the past few years, and most dramatically among Gen-Zers. Generation Z is the term used to describe those born between the late 1990s and early 2000s (approximately 1997 to 2012). This generation grew up with access to the internet and portable digital technology. What are some major factors for rejecting faith in God?

Stephen C. Meyer said that the Discovery Institute surveyed people if they agreed with this statement: “The findings of science make the existence of God less probable.” Among self-proclaimed atheists, 65% agreed, and 43% of agnostics agreed. What these people perceive about science has influenced their belief in God. However, as we have said before, science supports faith in God.

In recent years, scientific discoveries have given us more reasons to believe in God. One significant discovery is that the material universe had a beginning. Evidence for that appeared in the 1920s, was confirmed in the 1960s, and further reinforced in the 21st century. The Bible tells us that in verse 1, but it took scientists years to accept the evidence. Anything that begins to exist must have a cause. The cause of the material universe must be outside of time and space and, therefore, immaterial. Science recognizes that time, space, matter, and energy all had a beginning, but they could not have created themselves.

A second discovery that points to an intelligent Creator is that the universe was fine-tuned for life from the beginning. Many physical constants must be precisely as they are for life to exist. More than that, without precision fine-tuning of the physical laws and constants, the universe itself would not exist. Chance cannot explain the precision because so many precise factors must work together.

A third discovery that came into a fuller understanding in the 21st century is the design of the digital code in the DNA molecule that makes life possible. This design has been there since the emergence of the first living cell. We have no examples of information being created without a mind to create it. Information does not happen by chance.

In those three recent discoveries, science rediscovers God. Then what are the major factors for rejecting faith in God? More on that tomorrow.

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Reference: Stephen C. Meyer on “Has Humanity Forgotten God” on YouTube

Natural Science Cannot Answer these Questions

Natural Science Cannot Answer these Questions

Natural science cannot answer these questions we examined yesterday:
1- ”Why does the universe exist?”
2- ”How did something come from nothing?”
Science is very good at answering “how” questions but not as good with “why” questions. Let’s look at two more “why” questions.

3- ”Why are the physical constants precisely tuned to support conscious life?”
Science has determined that the universe’s physical constants are fine-tuned to support our existence. They are fine-tuned with such precision that it could not be merely accidental, and this precision makes scientists who don’t want to believe in God very uncomfortable.

If you eliminate an intelligent Creator, there seems to be only one possible explanation for the apparent fine-tuning. It’s the “multiverse” idea. This proposal suggests that an almost limitless number of universes exist with various physical constants. We are lucky enough to be in the one universe with precise constants to support conscious observers like us. Therefore, it is merely an accident that we see the physical constants as being fine-tuned; otherwise, we wouldn’t be here to observe them.

The multiverse concept is not scientific since it cannot be proven or disproven. It lies outside of the limits of science. Furthermore, if you can’t explain the emergence of one universe from nothing, how can you explain an infinite number of universes from nothing?

Since science has set limitations on itself, it also can’t answer this question:
4- “Why do I exist?”
It’s a question that probably everyone thinks about at some time in life. “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” Regardless of how you ask the question, the answer is what gives meaning to life. Science can’t answer the question, but without an answer, many people give up on life. The lack of an answer is perhaps the biggest problem in today’s world, especially among young people.

Natural science cannot answer these questions because the answer is supernatural. God loves you and designed you for a purpose. He came into our world in a physical form we know as Jesus Christ. (See John 1:1-14.) From a humble birth to a perfect life, He showed us how to live. By His sacrifice on the cross, He demonstrated God’s love. If you take time to ponder this, you will realize that the questions natural science can’t answer are the most important ones.

— Roland Earnst © 2023