When the First Humans Lived and How they Looked

When the First Humans Lived and How they Looked
Neanderthal reconstruction at Natural History Museum, London

Those who maintain that humans have been on Earth for less than 10,000 years face many evidence problems. This website has consistently pointed out that the Bible does not tell us when the first humans lived and how they looked.

The word “Adam” in Hebrew simply means “of the ground,” and Genesis tells us that God made Adam of “the dust (aphar) of the ground” (see Genesis 2:7 and 3:19). Genesis 1:29 and 2:9-16 tell us that the first humans began as vegetarians. The Bible does not tell us how long humans existed as “gatherers,” but Genesis 3:17-19 portrays humans becoming farmers securing food “by the sweat of your face.”

Some in the religious community view all of this as happening within the past 6,000 years. They may also view Adam as a white European with blue eyes and brown hair. Genesis 5:5 tells us that Adam lived for 930 years. If James 4:14 is correct, and human life “is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away,” there is an obvious biblical disconnect. The truth is that the Bible does not tell us when the first humans lived and how they looked.

Discover magazine’s January/February 2022 issue has an article about what they call “2021’s hottest fossil.” Discovered in northeast China, this specimen was named “Homo longi.” Some scientists think it may be a Denisovan or a Neanderthal. Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo sapiens, and possibly Homo longi all seem to have interbred and contributed DNA to you and me. They may have looked different from us, and their living styles were undoubtedly different. However, while they were primitive by modern standards, the discoveries show ornamental beads, primitive tools, and funerary ritual materials, indicating an awareness of the spiritual and a concept of life after death.

More to the point, the scientific evidence indicates that the first humans lived far more than 6,000 years ago and looked different from the average caucasian today. Many believers in God try to discredit the dating methods or deny the interpretation or even the existence of the fossils. That is becoming increasingly difficult as science gathers more evidence and improves dating and reconstruction techniques.

Our stereotypical views of when the first humans lived and how they looked are tainted by racism and tradition and don’t change the evidence. Adam lived long ago, was created in God’s image, began as a gatherer, and eventually became a farmer. We create conflict when we depict Adam living 6,000 years ago.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Discover magazine January/February 2022

Deliberate Denial of Evidence

Deliberate Denial of Evidence

One characteristic of many people today is the deliberate denial of evidence. In a recent discussion with a big-name pro-abortion politician, I asked when he believed a fetus became a human – conception, birth, or somewhere in between. He responded that he had not considered the question. I asked if he would be willing to consider scientific evidence that could answer the question. Again, he responded that he would not.

Some of my female friends who are loud proponents of “a woman’s right to choose” have given me a similar response. How can you make a decision about abortion if you don’t know when a fetus is a human?

This deliberate denial of evidence is not new. People in Jesus’ day watched Him perform miracles, but still rejected and even killed Him. I have presented many atheists with credible evidence that the God of the Bible is real. In a recent discussion with a young college student, she proudly declared she was an atheist. When I presented a series of facts to show there is a God, she jumped up and screamed at me, “I just don’t want to believe!” There was a deafening silence, and I saw tears streaming down her face. She was desperate to justify her disbelief.

Jesus was aware of the human tendency toward deliberate denial of evidence that we don’t want to accept. Mark 9:17-24 tells the story of a man who brought to Jesus, his son who had a convulsive spirit. The man said that Jesus’ disciples could not drive out the spirit, and Jesus indicated the reason was a lack of faith. The father said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus responded by repeating the man’s words, “If you can?” Then he told the father that he needed to have faith, to which the father replied, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.”

Humans want to maintain control over what they believe, even if it requires a deliberate denial of evidence. Like the father who brought his son to Jesus, a person must be open to the evidence and willing to accept it, rather than denying the evidence and even refusing to hear or see it.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Animal Tool Use and What It Means

Animal Tool Use and What It Means
Elephant using a tree trunk as a pillow for sleeping

An interesting fact about animals is their ability to use tools. Years ago, people thought that only humans used tools, but recent studies have shown animal tool use. However, the word “tool” means different things to different people. 

Webster defines a tool as “an instrument used to accomplish a given task.” By that definition, we can find examples of animal tool use. We have reported on some of them before. For example, HERE and HERE.

Science News reported that polar bears sometimes kill walrus by bashing them with chunks of stone or ice. People have observed birds cracking nuts by dropping them from high altitudes onto rocks. Elephants use tree trunks for a variety of purposes, and crows use sticks to pry off the lids of bottles. Chimpanzees use conchoidally fractured chert or flint to cut open a fruit. Those of us who have bird feeders have seen squirrels use a tree branch to access a feeder. Recently, researchers in Israel taught fish how to drive a “car.”

There is a difference between a tool and a machine. According to the dictionary, a machine is “an assembly of interconnected components arranged to transmit or modify force in order to perform useful work.” A broader question here is whether intelligence is needed to fashion a machine? If that is the case, intelligent animals should be making machines, and mentally challenged humans would not be able to do so. 

This discussion of animal tool use gets into difficulties because the anatomical parts of all animals are simple machines. Limbs are levers, and teeth are wedges. The design of all animals includes the equipment to secure food and shelter. Building into animals the ability to use objects in their environment to survive is another example of God’s design in the natural world. 

Studies indicate incredible wisdom and planning in the creation of animal life. However, what sets humans apart from all other animals is not tools, machines, or intelligence. Instead, our spiritual nature is what makes humans different.

The ability of humans to create art, express ourselves in music, conceive of self, worship, and be taught to think set humans apart. To have an agape type of love that is not sexual and does not promote survival makes us human. The mentally challenged among us possess these abilities because all of us are created in the image of God. Animal tool use is far removed from possessing God’s image.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Science News, July 29, 2021.

Billie Eilish and Pornography

Billie Eilish and Pornography
Billie Eilish

Every time we mention the damaging effects of pornography, we get a few nasty emails suggesting that we are just control freaks who want to deny a harmless activity. The Bible makes it clear that God would have us “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). A recent news report about Billie Eilish and pornography shows it is not harmless.

Young people today have easy access to porn because it is readily available online. Billie Eilish, a Grammy-winning singer, stated that the porn she began watching online at age eleven “really warped her mind” about healthy sex and relationships. Porn composes a third of all internet downloads in the United States and is a pandemic among young people.

In The Daily Telegraph, Judith Woods wrote that online porn is “suffused with hatred for women.” She goes on to say that the sex depicted on porn sites is “terrifying, dominant, and violent… There is choking and spitting and angry misogyny… Women are degraded, used” and “discarded.”

Anyone who thinks this activity is not damaging to young minds is simply ignorant about how young people learn. Furthermore, the whole purpose of sex is lost in a culture that denigrates marriage and uses sex as a weapon or a recreational activity.

Sex in marriage creates a sacred, unique, and pure relationship between a man and a woman. Therefore, Christians must teach children what sex is about at an early age before the world exposes them to pornography. In the case of Billie Eilish and pornography, that was age eleven.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Week, December 31, 2021/January 7, 2022 page 19.

A Giant Millipede and What It Teaches Us

A Giant Millipede and What It Teaches Us
A Modern “Giant” Millipede

Can you imagine a giant millipede almost nine feet long? Most of us have seen inch-long millipedes under a rock or in a rotting log. Like centipedes, millipedes get their name from their many legs. “Mille” means thousand, and “ped” means foot, so a millipede could have a thousand feet.

Some 10,000 species of millipedes live today, and they are related to lobsters, shrimp, and crayfish. Australian researchers recently announced finding a three-inch-long millipede with 1,306 legs, which stirred up great interest among biologists. But that is nothing compared to a new fossil discovery.

Now researchers from the University of Cambridge have found the fossil of a true giant millipede in England. This specimen is 8.6 feet long and would have weighed about 110 pounds. Named Arthropleura, this is the largest invertebrate ever found, replacing giant sea scorpions that previously held the record. This animal lived before the dinosaurs and was an omnivore eating plants, nuts, seeds, and other invertebrates.

The importance of a find like this giant millipede is that it tells us that large animals, insects, and plants existed in the past. In addition, it reminds us that the ecology of the early Earth, as it was being prepared for later life forms, was very different from what we see today. At that time, England was a tropical area where massive quantities of resources like coal, limestone, and various minerals were being produced. Therefore, the plant and animal life in that ecology had to be large.

The Bible does not describe all of the processes because even today
, we have a hard time comprehending how that ancient world functioned. Genesis 1:1 simply tells us that God created the Earth, not how or when or what processes He used to prepare the planet for humans. But because God used a process, we can locate resources far underground. If He had simply “zapped” the planet into existence, we would have no clue about where to look for oil or coal or various minerals.

Proverbs 8 talks about the wisdom that allowed the production of all we see and use today. When we hear about a find like this giant millipede, it underlines how carefully God planned for our existence. Today, our challenge is to take care of the planet by preserving what God has given us rather than wasting it.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: USA Today by Jordan Mendoza 12/28/21.

Life Issues from Beginning to End

Life Issues from Beginning to End

The media have recently reported on several life issues from beginning to end. Here are some examples:

The German Euthanasia Association has announced that those seeking euthanasia must produce proof of COVID vaccination
to legally end their lives. This is apparently to protect healthcare workers.

In Poland, the government has passed a law requiring doctors to report all pregnancies and miscarriages to a government database. The apparent reason for this is to make sure that all pregnancies end with a birth. Unfortunately, Poland has a shortage of workers, and this seems to be the government’s solution to the issue.

Research has shown that women who use marijuana during pregnancy are more than twice as likely to have aggressive, hyperactive children with heart rate and immunity issues.

Babies have a fragrance that comes from an organic compound called hexadecanal. It is found in human skin but is abundant in a baby’s scalp. Research shows that females exposed to the fragrance become more aggressive and strong defenders of their babies. On the other hand, men exposed to it become more gentle and speak with softer voices. Evolutionists claim that this is an evolutionary survival mechanism. We would suggest this is part of God’s design of the human reproductive system.

Research on adopted children shows that some traits are common to adopted children that do not commonly appear in children who are not adopted. In the nine months of pregnancy, there is a “primal bonding that happens by biological design.” Those of us with adopted children can attest to some behavior issues that may be related to the adoption process.

God gave us the ideal arrangement for family–one man and one woman in love with each other produce children they love and care for. Unfortunately, that arrangement is not always possible. Understanding the stress and feelings involved can go a long way toward making adoption a good experience.

As we examine life issues from beginning to end, we know that every child needs a loving family, and every senior adult needs someone who loves them.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

The above information is from a series of articles in The Week for December 10 and 17, 2021.

Seeing Is Not Always Proof of Reality

Seeing Is Not Always Proof of Reality

If you see a picture of it, it must be real – right? The answer is absolutely not. Human gullibility is astounding, and fake pictures are as old as photography. In 1839, Hippolyte Bayard convinced people that he had committed suicide by creating a photo showing himself as a drowned man. In fact, Bayard lived until 1887. Seeing is not always proof of reality.

In the early 1900s, there were many faked pictures using double exposures, cropping and rephotographing, or even using models. One of the most famous pictures was the “Loch Ness Monster.” The photo got worldwide distribution in 1934. However, in 1975, the son of one of the pranksters admitted that it was a picture of a toy floating in the water.

In our day of technological altering of photographs, anyone can doctor a picture to appear authentic. This is especially true when there is a lot of media hype about a monster, an alien, or a ghost. Reflections from a window have confused many people, even pilots who mistook what they saw as a UFO. Unfortunately, seeing is not always proof of reality.

Many years ago, I helped my wife on a hike with a bunch of young girls
. We stayed too long in the woods and were walking back in the dark. An object that looked like a ghost appeared in front of us. It had two eyes, a round mouth, and a narrow nose. It had an odd green glow, and it didn’t move, but the girls started screaming and crying. When I turned my flashlight on it, we could see that we were looking at a hollow, dead tree with holes in locations that made it look like a face. It was glowing because of the northern lights. Around Lake Superior, there are veins of glowing minerals, and ghost stories have arisen when people saw that effect and didn’t know what it was.

Another personal ghost story involves a haunted house in Scotland where we were invited to spend the night (for a fee). We were told to expect haunting ghost sounds, including moans and screams and footsteps on the stone floor above us. The windows in the house were very old, and, given enough time, glass flows. Unfortunately, the glass had flowed to the point that there were holes in the windows. When the wind blew through the holes, it made sounds. The house cooled rapidly in the evening, and as the stones in the floor contracted, they made sounds that resembled footsteps.

Seeing is not always proof of reality. There is no credible evidence of ghosts, aliens, monsters, demons, or zombies roaming around. We do not live in a world full of non-human spirits trying to harm us. People often resort to ghost-like explanations when they see something they don’t understand. When Jesus walked on the water (Mark 6:49), the immediate response of His disciples was to cry out that they had seen a spirit. Jesus told them not to be afraid, and He would say the same to us.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Smithsonian magazine, December 2021, pages 14-20.

Life After Death – A Concept Common to Humans

Life After Death – A Concept Common to Humans

Humans from the earliest times have believed in life after death. One of the unique human properties is that we alone believe in a continued existence when our physical life has ended. Most animals simply abandon a dead member of their species. There has been some attempt to claim that elephants, whales, and apes exhibit mourning and stay with the body of a deceased member of their group. However, many researchers agree that interpreting their actions as mourning is not justified. Humans tend to view animal behavior in our image, a process known as anthropomorphism.

As science discovers more fossils of ancient humans, the pattern of preparing a deceased member of the group for another existence becomes apparent. Anthropologists are interested in a South African cave system burial site. There they have found 28 skull fragments and six teeth of what appears to be a child with human characteristics 35 feet (10.6 m) below ground. The bones do not seem to have been washed into the cave or dragged in by scavengers or predators. Researchers gave the specimen the scientific identity of Homo naledi.

Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg reports that this fossil shows strong evidence of a “ritualized body disposal” of the specimen, which they nicknamed “Leti.” Ancient burial sites have almost always indicated that others prepared the deceased for life after death. Sometimes the body is mummified, and sometimes jewelry or weapons are left with the body. There are even cases where an animal or mate was buried with the deceased.

There is a scant reference to life after death in the Old Testament. In 2 Samuel 12:23, David expressed faith that he would see his deceased baby in the future. Job said that after his body had been destroyed, he knew he would see God (Job 19:25-27). Daniel saw a “man clothed in linen” who told him he would “rest” and then “at the end of the days” he would rise and “receive his allotted inheritance” (Daniel 12:13).

The New Testament is full of references to life after death, especially in the teachings of Jesus Christ. The war between good and evil is rooted in the understanding that death is a product of this physical world and Christ has conquered it. (See 2 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 20:14 and 21:4.)

Human spiritual nature is unique because God created us in His image. Our soul allows us to think beyond this life and anticipate an eternal, time-independent relationship with God. That concept has been present in humans from the very beginning and is still present today. Our spiritual nature allows us to express ourselves in art, music, and worship. It also gives us the hope of eternal life in an existence beyond anything this world has to offer.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News 12/4/21, page 15.

Drug Safe-Havens Don’t Work

Drug Safe-Havens Don't Work

On December 1, 2021, the United States joined Canada, Australia, and Europe in allowing drug safe-havens for people who wish to use heroin and other narcotics. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City announced that having monitored facilities where someone watches for overdoses will save lives. The first facility in New York was set to open immediately.

Federal laws ban operating a place for narcotic use, but those laws have been poorly enforced. It is interesting that there is no evidence that these facilities provide help for those who are addicted. There have been negative results in other places where governments have tried legalization. Other moral issues such as prostitution and sexual abuse become part of the scene.

Setting up drug safe-havens, making it easier for people to use narcotics, is sanctioning people to harm themselves. Even though they may not die immediately from drug usage, the long-term result is not good. Should the government provide a way for people to become addicted? The news releases on the New York City plan do not say that drugs will be provided. If that is true, drug dealing and the problem of contaminated drugs will continue.

Licensing sin has never worked, and neither will drug safe-havens. Instead, the legalization of gambling has increased crime, prostitution, economic damage, and family breakdown. As the world turns away from God and denigrates the teachings of Jesus, we are not surprised that politicians will seek to condone the sin industries and tax them.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, Paul admonishes Christians to “Bring everything to the test and cling to that which is good and rejecting all that has a look of evil about it.” Therefore, let us oppose the movement of our nation toward embracing the sin industry as it offers an alternative to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Associated Press for 12/1/21.

Some Good News about Diseases

Some Good News about Diseases

Recent data on disease brings some good news. Cancer has been a major challenge for medical science, but survival rates for cancer have been increasing. Between 1975 and 2016, the percentage of people living for five years after a cancer diagnosis has risen from 50% to 68%. In 1971. three million people in the United States had survived cancer, or 1.5% of the population. In 2019, that number was 16.9 million, 5% of the population. Human pollution and poor life choices cause many cancers, but God has given medical science the ability to combat this dreaded disease.

Also, some good news is what vaccines have done for survival. A better understanding of God’s design of the human body has allowed us to combat diseases with vaccines. Before the vaccine for smallpox, 48,164 people contracted the disease in the United States. Since the vaccine’s development, that number has dropped to zero as of 1998. Diphtheria brought severe illness and usually death to 175,885 people in the U.S. Since the vaccine, there has been one case. Polio affected 16,316 people in the U.S. before the vaccine. Since then, there have been no cases. Measles was a significant cause of birth defects and other health issues and affected 503,282 people in the U.S. After the vaccine, there have been 89 cases.

We thank God for some good news regarding these human afflictions. The more we learn about diseases, the more we understand that they are not “God caused” but often result from human actions and carelessness. It is a tragedy that some people refuse what God has given us to prevent illness and death.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

References: Science News (page 22), November 6, 2021 and AARP Bulletin for November 2021 (pages 12-14).