## The Bernoulli Effect and Flying Slowly

We have marveled at the ability of birds to reach incredible speeds and make quick turns. However, the greatest challenge is flying slowly. The wing shape allows flight, as air traveling along the top surface moves faster than air on the wing bottom. This is an application of a principle of physics known as the Bernoulli effect.

The Bernoulli effect says that when air moves rapidly, it exerts minimum pressure at right angles to the direction of the motion. You can demonstrate that with a simple experiment. Place two identical books on a table with a small space between them. Lay a piece of paper over the top of the two books and blow through the channel between them. The paper will collapse because the pressure of the moving air is lower than the air pressure above the paper. Blow hard, and the paper will collapse rapidly. Blow slowly, and the paper will bend down a little.

Airplane wings use this principle to get lift. As the plane moves faster, the lift increases, and the plane can rise. When the plane slows down, there is less lift, and the plane decreases its altitude. Birds do the same thing but have a unique design feature that allows slow flight. This special structure called a bastard wing or alula enables them to stay aloft even when flying slowly.

The alula consists of several feathers attached to the first digit of the wing bones. By moving that digit, the bird can separate the feathers of the alula from the rest of the wing, creating a slot that helps channel air over the wing. This enhances lift and allows the bird to stay aloft when flying slowly, such as when landing. When a bird seems to hover, the Bernoulli effect created by the alula design gives them that ability. Humans have not found a way to duplicate all the designs of the bird wing, so hovering is still a challenge for modern aircraft.

Much of what engineers know has come from studying the design God built into His creatures. Birds continue to teach us a lot about flying in various applications, including slowly flying. (See Romans 1:20.)

— John N. Clayton © 2024

## Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils

“Render to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” (Matthew 22:21). “Let every soul be subject to the government that is over him, for no authority can exist without the permission of God” (Romans 13:1). I have said for many years that I hoped the day would come when I could vote for a politician instead of voting for the lesser of two evils. It doesn’t look like that is ever going to happen.

The passages we quoted are about a corrupt and immoral political system. The Roman government sanctioned prostitution and the wanton destruction of human life. Unwanted babies were thrown into the trash, and the abuse of women was constant, including rape. Racial and religious prejudice were built into the system, establishing classes of people. Paul could use that system to avoid scourging because he was a Roman citizen (Acts 22:25-29). The fact that America has become a secular nation opposing God and His Word doesn’t change the fact that Christians must do what the Bible calls them to do.

Jesus did not oppose the political system, even paying taxes so no one could accuse Him of being political. (See Matthew 17:24-27). Romans 13:3 says that Christians have no reason to fear rulers. Verse 6 tells Christians to pay taxes and to honor and respect authority. In Acts 4:18-20, Peter and John were commanded not to teach in the name of Jesus, but the people commanding this were the religious leaders of the Jews, not the government. Peter and John told the religious leaders, “Whether it is right in God’s eyes to listen to you rather than to Him, you must decide” (See verse 19).

Our government allows us to select our political leaders, even if it means voting for the lesser of two evils. Whatever you think, be sure to understand you are voting in accordance with civil law. This is an individual matter, not something where the Church should take a political position. No one can tell you how to vote, nor should the Church be political in its message. While we “render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s,” we must remember that each of us has a commission to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world. (Read Mark 16:15-16.)

— John N. Clayton © 2024

## The Issue of Book Banning

An issue of concern to Christians is the banning of certain books in public school libraries. This is a complicated problem with many issues. Part of the debate is over what is appropriate for each child’s age. Books about the Holocaust are in a different realm than books that depict or describe sexual acts. Books that promote LGBTQ lifestyles and attack Christianity cause concerns among Christian parents. The issue of book banning has been in the news recently.

In the 2023-2024 school year, Florida banned 3,135 book titles. Wisconsin banned 481, and Iowa is debating banning a total of 3300 titles, with various school systems concerned about different books. We are frustrated by the inconsistency of this situation. Our materials are not doctrinal but simply offer evidence for God’s existence and the Bible’s validity. However, they have been banned in some cases because we promote a religious viewpoint. Most frustrating is that the same school systems that refuse to allow our books in their libraries would allow books by atheists attacking Christianity. DVDs dramatizing the Crusades are allowed in virtually all school systems. At the same time, DVDs showing the good works done by Christians, such as bringing hospitals and schools into areas lacking them, are not allowed.

The issue of book banning is complex because special interest groups react to almost every issue discussed in a book. Should all books that espouse a philosophy of any kind be banned? Should novels be excluded from all public schools? Can we expect librarians to know all the content of every book, and do librarians’ beliefs affect what books are banned? As a public school teacher for 41 years, I can tell you that almost everyone involved in the issue of book banning doesn’t understand how high school students use a library.

It’s crucial for Christians to understand that the Church should be the primary source of solid materials on faith and morality, rather than relying on public schools. School libraries should be places where factual material is readily available, without promoting specific philosophies or moralities, and not just for entertainment.

With politicians unable to answer questions of moral conduct and values, it is no surprise that school libraries have a difficult role to play. The Church needs to fill at least part of the gap by teaching and providing information like Jesus did. The Does God Exist? ministry is an attempt to help achieve that objective.

Data from USA TODAY NETWORK for June 16, 2024

## Displaying the Ten Commandments in Schools

A strange collection of special interest groups has challenged a Louisiana law that requires displaying the Ten Commandments in schools. Atheist groups would be expected, and they include Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. More surprising is that Jewish families have joined in the lawsuit.

The Jewish parents against the new law maintain that it is based on Christianity. The law specifies the required text of the Ten Commandments. They say that in the Jewish version, the first commandment contains a section about God bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. There is also a Jewish complaint that the law’s spelling of the word “God” should be “G-D,” leaving out the “o” to avoid taking the name in vain. Also, Protestants and Catholics number the commandments differently.

Similar laws calling for displaying the Ten Commandments in schools are proposed in Texas, Utah, and Oklahoma. The complaints raised by parents on all sides of the issue show a failure to do what Jesus told His followers to do. In Matthew 22:21, Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Public education aims to develop secular skills in our young people. That is the work of the state (Caesar). The religious teaching of children is the responsibility God gave to parents.

The real issue here is that people who claim to be Christians want someone else to provide their children’s religious education rather than doing what God told parents to do. The suit argues that the law violates the First Amendment, which prohibits the state from “respecting an establishment of religion” because it specifies a religious text for displaying the Ten Commandments in Schools.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: JTA for June 25, 2024, by Jackie Hajdenberg.

## The War Against Christianity

The war against Christianity has grown in the United States. Here are some examples:

*Fowler United Methodist Church in Annapolis, Maryland, suffered \$100,000 in damages. Vandals tore down a wooden cross, shredded Bibles, and slashed upholstery.

*Florida passed a bill to allow public and charter schools to have a chaplain to address student mental health. Opponents called it a vehicle for “Christian nationalism,” and the Satanic Temple indicated it plans to send its chaplains.

*The war against Christianity involves Madison, Wisconsin’s Freedom From Religion Foundation. It has taken out ads in various periodicals calling for the rejection of “Christian nationalism.”

*The “Public Religion Research Institute” reports that 26% of Americans identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated, and 67% of those say they have stopped believing the teaching of their old faith.

*The government continues to issue new rules that violate Christian teachings and precipitate problems for Christian families. One example is the rules prohibiting Christian colleges from having dorms limited to only one sex. Other laws require schools to allow both sexes to use any restroom, resulting in cases where female students complain because males are entering their facilities to “gawk” at them.

Jesus made it clear that His gospel was not political. In Matthew 22:15-22, Jesus tells his opponents to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” In Romans 13:1-7, Paul lays down the relationship between Christians and government. He makes positive comments about the role of government and categorizes government as God’s servant. He tells Christians to pay their taxes and show respect and honor to public leaders.

When the government demands immorality or opposes Christian behavior, it seems like a war against Christianity. However, Christians are not called to strike back militarily. The day may come when churches will not have tax exemption, and the government will take over church property. Even then, God’s people will survive and thrive as they did under the pagan Roman government in the first century. There can’t be a war when one side refuses to fight.

We can find comfort in the fact that Jesus said, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come…. You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate one another, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:6-13).

— John N. Clayton © 2024

References: USA Today for 4/9/24; The Week for April 12, 2024, page 17; and “Washington Impact Report” from the Family Research Council for April 2024, page 1.

## The Transgender Issue in Women’s Sports

The transgender issue in women’s sports grows nearly every day. As we have mentioned previously, biological males have an advantage when they claim to be females and participate in women’s sports. Here are some examples of this issue in women’s sports:

Lia Thomas is a six-foot-four-inch biological male who ranked in the 400s in the men’s swimming division but is now a top-ranked swimmer in the women’s division.

Valentina Petrillo is a biological male who identifies as transgender and won the women’s 400-meter bronze medal at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris in July of 2023.

Austin Kippips is a biological male who finished five minutes ahead of all female competitors to win the Belgian Waffle Ride, a 131-mile cycling event in North Carolina, in June of 2023.

Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood ranked first and second in Connecticut in the girls’ 55-meter dash. Previously, they had ranked 120th and 195th in the male category.

In addition to the locker room and restroom problems, coed dormitory issues in private colleges, and now women’s sports issues, the pressure on legislators to do something is growing. However, this issue continues without any action for fear of the political consequences.

We need to keep in mind the growing transgender issue in women’s sports when we vote for politicians. God designed our bodies, and when we make changes to what God created, we invite pain and suffering for everyone.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Family Research Council

## Extending Life Without Quality of Life

One of the challenges produced by the progress in medicine is the question of the role of doctors when a patient nears the time of death. In the old days, doctors had a code that said they would “do no harm,” which resulted in extending life without quality of life.

I had a personal experience with this issue when my disabled son Timothy was in the hospital after contracting COVID from a care worker. Doctors told me that Tim would never recover, but they had to give him a standard COVID treatment. Tim did survive but was not allowed to have any contact with family. He could not talk, was blind, could not stand or sit up, and could not feed himself. Eventually he was placed in a nursing home where I was allowed to visit him, and I did weekly. Although he could hear me, he was unable to respond. I read to him, tried to feed him, and ensured his stuffed animals were around him. After more than a year in the nursing home, he died.

The question in a case like Timothy’s becomes whether a doctor should be allowed to assist in dying when the apparent result was extending life without quality of life. Laws in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Canada allow doctors to administer euthanasia. The next step in these countries is to allow physicians to provide medical assistance in dying for the mentally ill. Canada has delayed the implementation of that option for physicians until 2027 to allow doctors and facilities time to adjust to this new law. Peter Singer, the DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, has advocated for euthanasia for virtually any cause.

For Christians, the issue is especially relevant. The New Testament in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says that God’s Spirit lives in our bodies and that the body is sacred for that reason. I Corinthians 6:15-17 uses that view to explain why prostitution is a sin. As modern medical science has advanced to the point of extending human life, it has also found ways to eliminate pain, but my son never showed evidence of suffering from pain. The problem remains of extending life without quality of life.

Euthanasia involves the same issues as abortion. Singer would empty prisons, nursing homes, and mental facilities by applying euthanasia to the people there. The fact is that much of the money spent on medical treatment is spent during the last year of life. Think of the savings if we were to eliminate everyone deemed to be within a year of dying. Do we really want to live in a culture that uses death as a means of removing a person who is inconvenient or difficult to sustain? But isn’t that what abortion is all about?

— John N. Clayton 2024

Reference: “Canada again delays assisted dying for the mentally ill” on BBC News for February 1, 2024.

## Warnings from the Past by George Washington

Today is President’s Day in the United States, and it seems appropriate to think about some warnings from the past by our first president. On September 19, 1796, George Washington spoke to the young United States about the dangers the future could bring. It was his farewell address as president, and he said many prescient things as if he could see into the country’s future. He was not a prophet who could see the future, but he was a student of the past and knew the history of other nations.

Washington warned against minor factions bending the laws to put their needs above the needs of others. He warned about the dangers of excessive partisanship, making dangerous foreign alliances, going into debt, and engaging in unnecessary wars. He said the country must follow the Constitution, which creates checks and balances between the government’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches. He saw the dangers of allowing a consolidation of power into one branch or person because of selfish human nature. He did not want to be a king, and he did not want the nation to be under a human king.

Of George Washington’s many warnings from the past, there is none more important than his warning about the need for religion and morality to preserve the country. Here is a portion of what Washington had to say about that:

“Of all the dispostions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensible supports. … Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. … reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Thus, Washington said that morality is essential for preserving the nation and that morality cannot be maintained without religion. He also noted that “institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge” are of primary importance. The message of the Does God Exist? ministry is that scientific knowledge is compatible with faith in God. More than that, knowledge of the teachings of Jesus Christ and a faith commitment to follow Him leads to morality. Washington’s warnings from the past call for the strengthening of knowledge and religious faith. Today, the United States needs more leaders who share Washington’s wisdom.

— Roland Earnst © 2024

Reference: Wikipedia.org – We have also quoted other founders of the United States on religious faith HERE, HERE, and HERE.

## Sow Seeds or Pull Weeds

We constantly get solicitations from people who want us to join them in fighting some national problem. Some of them say it is our duty as Christians to be part of their organization, party, or action. It is not my intention to tell anyone what they personally wish to do is wrong, but Christ’s message is not to involve His Church in partisan protests. In “Power For Today,” Gene Shelburne said it well: “Our primary duty is to sow seeds, not to pull weeds. We must remember that it is not our role to administer punishment. Weed pulling is God’s Job.”

That agrees with what Jesus taught in Matthew 13:24-30. His parable tells of a farmer’s attempt to sow seeds in his field where an enemy comes at night and sows destructive weeds. When the seeds germinate, it is evident that someone added weeds to the crop. The workers come to the farmer and ask if they should pull weeds. The farmer replies not to pull weeds because they will uproot the good seeds with them. He says that they should remove and burn the weeds when the harvest comes.

There is much that is wrong with our world. A military response is not the answer. Bombing an abortion clinic, setting fire to a liquor store, or shooting a person promoting prostitution is not the answer. The Church needs to sow seeds by teaching and showing that God’s plan is superior and that the help of the Holy Spirit will make a difference.

When Peter wanted to fight those seizing Christ, Jesus told him to put his sword away (Matthew 26:51-52). The Church must not get involved in politics or military-like actions. By training our young people and teaching all people by every means possible, we sow seeds that can change our country’s direction and impact the world. The forces of evil in the world will try to prevent us from sowing seeds, but the fruit of those forces will be bitter and destructive. History has repeatedly shown that God will take care of human evil in His time.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Gene Shelburne writing in the February 22, 2024, issue of “Power For Today”

## The Role of Religion in a Democracy

People are waging a war of words concerning the role of religion in a democracy and whether the Christian faith should have any role in America’s future. An organization titled Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has sent out a plea for donations to fight what they call “Christian Nationalism.” They maintain that the government cannot support Christian values. With that goal in mind, they are engaged in several lawsuits against prayers at public gatherings and government support of schools with religious connections.

The opposing view comes from groups like the Association of Mature American Citizens, publishers of AMAC Magazine. They maintain that a “moral society flows from a focus on freely held faith” (James Madison). They also quote John Adams: “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.” AMAC also heavily quotes Jefferson and Washington in the view that America was founded by men who saw Christianity as the basis of human rights. What is the role of religion in a democracy?

There is a difference between maintaining that faith has no role in determining the rights of people and believing that there is only one faith that calls for certain moral rules to be law. Jesus made it clear that there is a separation between what we give to the government and what we give to the work of God. Matthew 22:21 says clearly, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Thomas Jefferson said, “Neither Pagan nor Muslim nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion.” That teaching is biblically sound, but the government must have a moral standard to govern by. In Romans 13:1-6, Paul tells Christians to support those who govern, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad” (verse 3). The question is, “How does a government decide what is right and what is wrong?”

There are experts like Peter Singer, the DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, who maintain that the government should put to death anyone who is mentally ill, of great age, or in the late stages of a terminal disease. This flies in the face of Christian teachings, but some states are already implementing it in various ways, such as government support for the destruction of human life. If a politician holds to a religion that teaches that those who reach the age of 50 should be killed, how will that influence the practice of the government?

Madison talks about a “moral society,” and Adams speaks of the Constitution being made for a “moral and religious people.” So, what is the role of religion in a democracy? Christians support the separation of church and state, but the moral teachings of what is right and wrong cannot come from scholars, politicians, or some religions. The future of our children and grandchildren depends on getting people to understand that right and wrong do exist, and not all religions and political belief systems understand that.

— John N. Clayton © 2024