Memorial Day Is No More Than the Beginning of Summer?

Memorial Day Is No More Than the Beginning of Summer?
Arlington National Cemetary

May 29, 2023, is Memorial Day in the United States. As our culture becomes more secular, rejecting Christian values and teachings, the significance of Memorial Day becomes lost. This special day began in 1868 and was called Decoration Day to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War. Those of us who have lived through modern wars should remember the 1.1 million Americans who have died in wars. Unfortunately, Memorial Day is no more than the beginning of summer or a day off work for many people.

The collateral damage of rejecting God and Christianity is that we have become a people who have lost the “attitude of gratitude” that goes with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. Jesus instituted the communion, or Lord’s supper, as an act of remembering His sacrifice. When He said to partake in “remembrance,” recorded in Luke 22:19, the Greek word used was “anamnesis,” which means a “constant indwelled memory.” This means Christians should have an attitude that continually focuses on thankfulness for the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.

The Bible tells us to continually remember the blessings we have received. Ephesians 5:4 tells us to give thanks. Philippians 4:6 says to “be careful for nothing but in all circumstances by prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Colossians 2:7 tells Christians, “you have been taught to be overflowing with gratitude..” Colossians 4:2 tells Christians to devote themselves to prayer and “be alert and thankful as you pray.” Many other passages tell us to be thankful.

It is easy to allow the stresses of daily life and the constant bickering of political leaders to distract us from the good things we have because of the sacrifices made by others. Congress passed The National Moment of Remembrance Act (P.L.106-579) in December of 2000. It encourages all Americans to pause at 3:00 local time for a moment of silence to remember those who have died in service to the nation. Unfortunately, most Americans are unaware of this legislation or are too busy to obey it.

If, for you, Memorial Day is no more than the beginning of summer, take time to remember how blessed we are to live in the United States of America. Remember the many who have sacrificed for our freedom, and thank God for the blessings that have come from our ancestors trusting in Him and His Word.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

The Scourge of Pornography

The Scourge of Pornography

One of the modern challenges facing us is the scourge of pornography. Before the technology age, getting pornographic material was very difficult. In my military experience, I was exposed to 16 mm films that were blatant porn, but those films were not available to the general public, and minors were not allowed to view them. Pornographic comic books were the main avenues of porn during my high school days, but you couldn’t buy them in bookstores or drug stores. However, the web has made pornography widely available.

Children today can go on the web and watch sex acts by adults, and many children know the names of porn stars. Kids know how to use computers to see whatever they want to watch, so attempts to lock out pornographic material are futile. When I used computers to teach high school science, it was a constant battle with kids going around the school system’s efforts to block pornographic material during class. But, of course, that was on school computers, so imagine what kids could do on their home computers.

A BBC report on May 9, 2023, summarized the research of psychologists into the effects of pornography on British children. It listed behavioral issues in eight-year-olds, such as profanity and violent language, directly related to viewing pornography. Elementary teachers attempting to stop disruptive behavior commonly hear the “f” word from their students, and the study shows a direct connection to watching pornography.

The scourge of pornography isn’t just a problem with children. On March 27, 2923, CNN reported on a study published in the Society for Personality and Social Psychology journal, showing that all human relationships are affected by involvement with pornography.

The Bible gives real solutions for Christians to avoid evil. In 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Paul tells us to avoid every appearance of evil, and Galatians 5:16-26 details the consequences of allowing “the works of the flesh” to saturate our thinking. Churches cannot remain silent about evil, including the consequences of lust. We must clearly teach children and adults what pornography does to children, marriages, and physical health.

The reason pornography is a major problem today is that it enriches certain people with money and influence. We can’t expect atheists and non-believers to stop the scourge of pornography. Therefore, Christians must be motivated to stop pornography’s spread, especially to children. However, many in the religious community avoid the subject.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Deciding Who is Human and Who Isn’t

Deciding Who is Human and Who Isn’t - Cleaner Wrasses
Blue Streak Cleaner Wrasses working on a Lunar-tailed Bigeye

The Bible tells us that humans are created in the image of God, giving us a spiritual nature – a soul. That means all races and sexes of humans are equal. Galatians 3:28 says it well, “you are all one in Christ Jesus.” While that is speaking of Christians, it applies to all humans since anyone can become a Christian. Those who reject belief in God have a harder time deciding who is human and who isn’t.

In the past, people justified slavery based on the claim that certain racial groups were not human and thus could be exploited by those deemed human. People today use the same illogic to justify abortion.

People use various criteria for deciding who is human and who isn’t. For example, when I was a young college student in the 1950s, we were told that the ability to make and use tools was the deciding factor. That teaching was nullified when researchers found that many animals make and use tools. For example, researchers have seen macaques in Phang Nga Bay in Thailand crack nuts with stones and discard sharp flakes, similar to early human tools.

More recently, anthropologists have suggested that the ability to recognize yourself in a mirror is evidence of self-awareness and is a cognitive ability unique to humans. One reason for this interpretation is that chimps and orangutans show they recognize themselves when they look in a mirror. That led to the conclusion that chimps, orangutans, and humans are all one family. However, a recent study of bluestreak cleaner wrasses by cognitive scientists at Osaka Metropolitan University in Japan has shown that these inch-long fish can recognize themselves in a mirror.

When researchers put a parasite-like mark on cleaner wrasses’ throats and allowed the fish to see their reflection in a mirror, they rubbed themselves on rocks to remove the mark. The wrasse could also pick its picture out of four photos that included three other wrasses. It’s essential to point out that self-awareness allows the physical survival of these fish because the wrasses eat parasites off the bodies of other fish. Knowing which fish will seek their help and which will eat them involves recognizing faces. This private awareness is a survival feature God has given them and doesn’t translate to emotions, thoughts, or language.

Humans are unique because of our spiritual nature, created in God’s image. Therefore, other criteria for deciding who is human and who isn’t are doomed to failure.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: Scientific American, June 2023, pages 16 and 19.

How Humans Avoided Being Eaten by Carnivores

How Humans Avoided Being Eaten by Carnivores

Have you ever considered how humans avoided being eaten by carnivores in ancient times since we are essentially defenseless? We aren’t stronger than large carnivores, have no teeth or claws for defense, can’t run very fast, and do not have camouflage. So if you believe in survival of the fittest, it is pretty obvious humans should not have survived. 

The research done by scientists reveals some incredible planning that allows us to exist. Consider these facts:

1) Human color vision is unique from that of other animals. For example, carnivores have dichromatic vision with two color cones, while humans have three. Hunters can wear red and not spook their prey because the prey does not have red cones.

2) Human vision has better angular resolution than other animals allowing greater spatial processing. We can tell where an animal is long before it can see us. When you walk your dog, you can see another dog long before your dog does, and you know how far away it is.

3) Humans have group behavior and group communication. Our speech lets a group know what the carnivore is and where it is. Our brains have sound and behavior connected. Carnivores have blind-deaf disembodied brains, meaning that sight and sound are not connected in a carnivore’s brain. Seeing a human or hearing one does not tell the carnivore whether the human is a useful food source. In addition, a carnivore would have to fight a group of humans prepared for its attack, requiring more energy to track down than the energy it would get from eating one of us.

Studies by biologists have shown that if zebras and antelopes had the same visual and sound connections to their brains as humans, lions would starve to death. So God’s design is how humans avoided being eaten by carnivores that are stronger than us. These features, and our intelligence, allowed us to survive. 

After the flood, God told Noah, “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand” (Genesis 9:2). So that is how humans avoided being eaten by carnivores. God designed the life system, including the animals that physically could use man as a food source, in a way that humans could exist. We are unique in our spiritual makeup in God’s image and in our physical bodies designed for survival. 

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: “Comparative study of fibrillar collagen arrangement in the corneas of primates and other mammals” in Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology, 290(12), 1542 – 1550. 

The Purpose for Human Existence

The Purpose for Human Existence

“Why do I exist?” People have discussed and debated the purpose for human existence from about every philosophical direction imaginable. Atheists have written books to tell us that we are just accidents with no purpose for existence. Many theologians give the trite answer, “Because God wanted to create us,” which is not much of an answer.

Recent evangelical ministers have used the analogy of couples deciding to have a child. If a child asks his parents, “Why did you have me?” What would they say? They might say, “Because we wanted a child to love.” Later, a parent might say their child has brought them great pride as they tell anyone who listens, “That’s my child.” Does that human parent comparison explain why God created us?

I would consider that it is not reasonable to suggest that we humans fulfill a need that God has. God does not have human needs. We don’t praise God because He has an ego problem or is struggling with depression. The Apostle Paul tells us to “glorify God” in Romans 15:6 and elsewhere, but that does not mean God needs us to build Him up because He lacks something. That would be like a political figure or an entertainer who needs people to praise him and build his esteem. Thinking that God has such needs is rooted in human attempts to create God in our own image.

In the Bible, we can find clues to help us understand more clearly the purpose for human existence. For example, the book of Job shows a conflict beyond our daily physical struggles. God never explained to Job the spiritual battle behind the purpose for his existence and which led to the pain he suffered. But after his dialogue with God, Job concluded that the answer is beyond human knowledge or understanding. Speaking through Ezekiel, God tells us that Job, Noah, and Daniel achieved the purpose for which they were created, but their righteousness could not make up for the sins of others. (See Ezekiel 14:14 and 20.)

The New Testament further clarifies the purpose for human existence. First, we see a major confrontation in the war between good and evil in Matthew 4:1-10 when Satan tempted Jesus. Then we see the culmination of the conflict in Revelation 20-22. People often fail to understand the Book of Revelation because they don’t understand that it is not describing a physical war. The war between good and evil is in a realm beyond this physical world. Ephesians 6:10-20 makes it clear that the purpose of our existence is beyond flesh and blood but involves a struggle “against the rulers, against the authorities against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

In Ephesians 3:8-13, Paul writes that his purpose in existing was “to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Revelation chapters 20 to 22 give a prophecy of the ultimate destruction of evil and the wonderful existence we all can have if we fulfill the purpose for which God created us. First, John 1: 5-9 makes it clear that we will not be perfect, but we will be forgiven and cleansed as we fulfill the purpose for human existence. Atheists try to tell us that evil doesn’t exist and that there is no reason for us to be here. However, the evidence and the biblical message show us the reason for our existence and the joy and love God makes available to us all.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Owls Are Essential in God’s System of Life

Owls Are Essential in God’s System of Life

Owls are some of the world’s most interesting creatures. There are some 250 owl species living on every continent except Antarctica. People have associated owls with wisdom, mythical guidance, protection, and even death. The truth is that owls are essential in God’s system of life. Here are four interesting facts about owls:

#1. OWLS CAN TURN THEIR HEADS 270 DEGREES. Johns Hopkins researchers discovered that owls have a reservoir under their jaw to prevent the blood supply to their brains from being cut off when they rotate their heads. They also have extra neck vertebrae allowing them to turn their heads to that extreme angle.

#2. OWLS CANNOT MOVE THEIR EYES. Owl eyes make up 5% of the animal’s body weight, while human eyes make up .0003% of our body weight. Their huge eyes have pupils that can dilate extra wide and a reflective layer at the back of their eyes to give them exceptional night vision. In addition, their eyes are designed to provide them with binocular vision, giving them excellent depth perception and the ability to judge distances.

#3. OWLS HAVE HEARING THAT ALLOWS TRIANGULATION. Some owls have asymmetrically arranged ears, with one slightly higher than the other. That allows them to judge the direction of sound vertically as well as left to right. For example, sound from a rodent will reach one ear sooner than the other, and the owl uses this difference to triangulate the distance to the source of the sound, even if under snow or leaf piles.

#4. OWLS HAVE SOUND BAFFLES ON THEIR WINGS. The feathers on the leading edges of their wings have comblike structures that dampen air turbulence and eliminate the “whooshing” noise in flight. They also have finer feathers on the top and trailing edges of their wings to break up the sound. These features allow almost silent flight when hunting prey. Engineers have copied this design to build quieter aircraft and drones.

Owls are essential in God’s system of life to control rodent populations. Most of us are unaware of the great service they provide because they carry out most of their activity at night. Owls are an excellent example of the specialized design God built into the creation to make planet Earth suitable for human habitation. No other land animal demonstrates all of these unique characteristics making chance evolutionary theories difficult to support. Indeed “we can know there is a God through the things He has made” (Romans 1:20).

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Make the Golden Years Fruitful

Make the Golden Years Fruitful

How we deal with old age is one of the things that distinguishes Christians from those who reject the Bible as their guide for life. Coming from a family of atheists, I have witnessed how they dealt with aging. I have watched my atheist friends use cosmetic devices and surgery to avoid the consequences of age. Of course, no cosmetic treatment or surgical procedure can remove the aches and pains that time brings, but following Christ can make the golden years fruitful.

For Christians, getting older is a time of growth in understanding and wisdom. In Philippians 3:7-12, Paul talks about looking back on things that he thought were important and considering them “rubbish” and that he “counts all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” We can make the golden years fruitful by following the positive teachings of Christ.

We read in Acts 17:19 about Paul bringing his message to the Areopagus, where older Greeks learned new things. Today our Areopagus is the web where we can share information and ideas. This ministry reaches people of all ages with the message that science and faith are symbiotic. Our websites contain a wealth of new understandings. In addition to this site, please check out and Maturity allows us to challenge our old misunderstandings and learn new things. Biblical examples include Apollos in Acts 18:24-28 and Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2-9.

We can make the golden years fruitful by repairing broken relationships. The Bible contains examples such as Jacob and Esau in Genesis 32-33, Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 45:4-5, and Jesus and Peter in John 21:7-17. Maturity is a time to overcome stubbornness and forgive. Jesus called His followers to forgive, but non-believers sometimes carry grudges to their graves. I have seen this happen in my family and friends who didn’t have a Christian basis for forgiveness.

The most significant benefit of being an older Christian is having a purpose in life. I have watched family members who retired from their secular employment or lost a spouse and had no life purpose as they died mentally, leading to physical death. Enjoying grandchildren, recreation, or hobbies lasts only so long. Having a purpose in life lasts right up to the end. Being a Christian in retirement allows me to devote much of my time and energy to the ministry that God has given me.

Matthew 25:31-46 lists things seniors can uniquely do to make the golden years fruitful. You can’t retire from God. Doing His will brings blessings beyond what the secular world can comprehend. Paul expresses this beautifully in 2 Timothy 4:6-22 as he looks back at his life, realizing it is about to end: “I am already being poured out on the altar, the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course….” Don’t let age rob you of the blessing of purpose and usefulness.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Geological History Lessons

Geological History Lessons of Northern Michigan in Petoskey Stone
Petoskey Stone

One of my favorite places on Earth is northern Michigan. As a child, I spent many summers on Lake Michigammi in the upper peninsula and grew to love the land of birches and pines. We can learn from the geological history lessons of northern Michigan.

Returning to this area over 70 years later has been a shock. When I was a kid, the people made a living harvesting and using the trees to make wood for construction purposes and to make paper. That industry still exists, but tourism and the construction of elaborate homes have replaced the trees as the basis of the northern Michigan economy. People have been buying large plots of land, building huge houses, and calling their property a “forest preserve.” Unfortunately, this practice includes the shoreline of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and the many inland lakes, limiting the general public’s access to this water wonderland.

Michigan’s state rock is the Petoskey stone, a beautiful coral often used to make attractive jewelry. The interesting thing about the Petoskey stone is that it is a tropical coral that only grows in warm water. Obviously, there has been a change in the climate because Michigan is not a tropical paradise. In our time of concern about climate change, we find the geological history lessons of northern Michigan indicating that Earth’s climate has changed in the past.

Another lesson from northern Michigan is the action of ice over time. Everywhere you look, you see huge rocks weighing many tons that could not have been placed by running water. These rocks come from many places and are all different. As a public school earth science teacher in South Bend, Indiana, I would take my students to the local gravel pit to hunt for unusual rocks. One student found a jasper conglomerate from Bruce Mines in Ontario. It had glacial groves and was hundreds of miles from its origin. We also found pieces of raw copper from outcrops in northern Michigan. One student found a diamond from an unknown Klondike area somewhere to the north. The geological history lessons we learn from the enormous rocks, the sand, and the many lakes is that, at one time, glaciers covered the area.

So how much time did these climate changes take? Knowing the geological history has been essential for oil drilling, coal and copper mining, and agriculture in Michigan. These things were part of how God prepared planet Earth for human habitation. Some religious people have tried to explain these things by Noah’s flood, but most ignore any attempt to explain the method and just say, “God did it.” That avoids the question of how and when.

Genesis 1:1 is undated and untimed, and the Genesis account uses the Hebrew words “bara,” meaning to create, and “asah,” meaning to make. Creating from nothing (bara) is used in verse 1, where it applies to space, time, and matter/energy. It is used again in verse 21 for the creation of the first life and in verse 27 for the creation of the first humans. Making (asah) refers to taking what was created and changing it. It is used in verses 7, 16, and 25. Chapter 2 verse 3 summarizes what God had done by using both bara and asah.

The geological history lessons of northern Michigan show us God taking what He had created and molding the Earth to prepare it for human habitation. As we understand more of what God has done, it becomes evident that all we see around us is the work of an intelligent Creator who cares about His creation and the humans He created in His image.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light - X-rays from the Whirlpool Galaxy

The Whirlpool Galaxy M51 and companion M51B. The green glow at the center of each is X-ray radiation from black holes.

The third verse of the first book in the Bible quotes God, saying, “Let there be light.” Most people don’t understand the full meaning and impact of that statement. For the past two days, we have examined how the ability to see invisible light revolutionized astronomy. First, we looked at the forms of light at frequencies below the visible spectrum. Today, let’s look at frequencies above the light we can see.

Higher frequencies mean shorter wavelengths, and electromagnetic energy above the frequency of visible light has wavelengths short enough to penetrate living cells and damage them.

Ultraviolet is the first band of light above the visible spectrum. The Hubble Space Telescope is the leader in observing ultraviolet light coming from the hot and energetic formation of young stars. Auroras on gaseous planets like Jupiter also emit ultraviolet light. The ability to see the invisible UV light helps us understand more of the process God used in creation.

Our Sun is also a source of ultraviolet light, and everyone knows UV light can cause painful sunburns. Because of its short wavelength, UV light can penetrate and damage cells resulting in skin cancer. God has given Earth an upper atmosphere ozone layer that absorbs much of the ultraviolet radiation. While protecting us from health damage, the atmosphere makes ultraviolet astronomy impossible on Earth. That’s why the Hubble Space Telescope leads in UV observation of the universe.

Above ultraviolet light, we find X-rays that are even more harmful to living cells. This band of invisible light energy can penetrate matter. Because of that, they are useful in medicine for doctors to see inside your body. However, medical X-rays must be limited because they can cause DNA mutations leading to cancer.

In astronomy, X-rays allow astronomers to study some of the hottest places in the universe, such as supermassive black holes and neutron stars. Thankfully, God has placed us far from black holes and neutron stars. However, our Sun also produces X-rays, but Earth’s atmosphere blocks X-rays. Therefore, X-ray telescopes, such as NASA’s NuSTAR mission, must be located in space.

Finally, let there be light at the top of the invisible spectrum. Astronomers use the shortest wavelength, gamma rays, to study the creation. Unfortunately, gamma rays have the highest energy and are the most dangerous to living cells. Supernova explosions release gamma rays, and space telescopes such as NASA’s Fermi and Swift can detect them. Fortunately, those gamma-ray-producing events are far from Earth. However, nuclear explosions on Earth also produce gamma rays, and the Sun occasionally produces gamma-ray flashes in solar flares.

By studying all of these forms of light, astronomers today know much more about the universe and the processes God has used to create and sustain it. As we look into the night sky, we are looking back in time and seeing the various frequencies of electromagnetic energy. It is light, both visible and invisible, and it tells us of the power and wisdom of the process that brought our planet and the life upon it into existence. Light is energy, and energy is matter (e=mc2). Knowing that, we realize what a profound statement Genesis 1:3 contains – “Let there be light.”

— Roland Earnst © 2023

For more information on this picture, click HERE.

Eight Billion People on Earth

Eight Billion People on Earth

In November of 2022, the human population hit eight billion people. That means eight billion people need food, shelter, and energy for transportation and protection from the elements. In Genesis 1:28 and 9:1, God told Adam and Eve and later Noah and his family to “be fruitful and multiply.” Then the text uses the Hebrew word “mala” the Earth. Mala can mean fill, replenish, satisfy, accomplish, or confirm, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

God’s command to early humans told them to take on the responsibility of caring for the planet. It does not mean their only purpose would be to have lots of children. God expects us to control and care for the creation, not merely endure its challenges. There is a fundamental difference between the biblical concept of our relationship to the planet and our present state, which has caused poverty and starvation.

The Christian system teaches a one-man/one-woman system of marriage as opposed to polygamy. It also teaches that being a father places responsibilities upon men. Passages like Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 make it clear that fathering children gives men a responsibility to encourage and guide them.

The quality of life for Earth’s eight billion people depends on how we manage the issues of population control and caring for the environment. The teachings of Christ support the nurturing of the Christian family. The selfish and reckless placing of pleasure above all else brings pain to the individuals who embrace it and tragedy to human society. Promoting and following the Christian system of values is essential for human flourishing, and the collateral damage produced by not following it is becoming increasingly evident.

— John N. Clayton © 2023