Artistic Expression and Human History

Artistic Expression and Human History
One of the interesting challenges to human evolution has to do with our capacity for artistic creation. Why do human artistic expressions display beauty and color? There is no good evidence that animals express themselves aesthetically – be it music, color, artistic expression, abstractionism, or worship. When people have claimed that animals express themselves in these areas, the claims have turned out to be anthropomorphisms by those making the claims. We all tend to attach human attributes to animal actions, but the evidence supports the view that animals don’t do those things. On the other hand, artistic expression and human history go together.

One evidence of artistic work has to do with the pictures left on cave walls in various locations. Those drawings do not show a sequence of development. In other words, you don’t see older drawings that are more primitive than recent ones. There is a story that Picasso examined the Cromagnon cave drawings and said, “We have learned nothing about art in our entire history on planet earth.”

USA Today (November 9, 2018) published an article on new art finds in Borneo and Indonesia. They are much older than any of the drawings in Spain and France. Dr. Maxime Aubert who led the discovery says the paintings are 4,000 years older than any other find. Aubert says “they are the earliest known figurative artwork.” In addition to the drawings of mystic animals, there are hand stencils and cave paintings of human scenes, and extensive use of color.

Genesis 4:21-22 indicates that humans developed tools and musical instruments early. Human history has included artwork and musical synthesis from a very early time. We would suggest this is all tied to our spiritual nature. It is our soul that gives us the capacity to do all the things that set humans apart from animals. The new finds support the view that these abilities were present in human’s from the beginning, not developed over a long time. Artistic expression and human history cannot be separated.
John N. Clayton © 2018

Sex Recession Cause

“Sex Recession” Cause
There is little doubt that there has been a radical change in sexual behavior in the past 25 years. Moral acceptance of premarital sex is at an all-time high. Birth control is easily accessible for all ages. People can find hook-up partners on dating apps without leaving home. Online porn is a major industry in today’s world. Websites are selling sex toys and vibrators to promote masturbation. How can there be a sex recession?

Liberals maintained that all this was good and that freedom from old norms would lead to what they called “sexual fulfillment.” What the numbers are showing is just the opposite. The number of sexually active high school students has dropped from 54% to 40% in the past 25 years. People in their early 20s are 2.5 times as likely to be abstinent as GenXers were at that same age. Dating apps have turned out to be addictive games that produce more frustration than connection.

The New York Times recently published a report on the “sex recession.” Writer Ross Douthat said that the trend mentioned above “has led to the growing alienation of the sexes from one another. In our new sterility, ‘virtual sex’ has become the opiate of the frustrated masses.” Editorials in the media have blamed everything from porn to the record number of people under 35 who are living with their parents.

When God gave the beautiful oneness that marriage brings, He then gave admonitions about how to use the gift of sex. When we follow God’s guidelines, sex can give fulfillment, relationships, security, and freedom. Genesis 2:24 stated the relationship God intended, and the Bible is full of teaching about avoiding the corrupted misuse of sexual relationships.

Atheists and skeptics have challenged these teachings saying they are unrealistic and merely an attempt to deprive us of potential pleasure, but just the opposite is true. God’s instructions are to designed to give us freedom, joy, and the maximum pleasure. When we misuse the power of sex, the result is catastrophic. The “sex recession” is proof of what happens when we fail to follow God’s instructions.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from The Week, November 30, 2018, page 17.

Why Did God Create T. Rex?

Why Did God Create T. Rex?
A reader sent a question that might be of interest to several others concerning the dinosaurs. The question was if God created everything, including dinosaurs, why did God create T. rex? Why would He create a creature so violent and cruel?

Denominational creationism maintains that God created everything good and T. rex and other carnivores went bad. When man sinned, bad came into existence and creatures that had been good became bad. So dinosaurs created as good and benevolent creatures suddenly became cruel carnivores. (See Acts and Facts December 2018, page 20.)

There are so many difficulties with that explanation, it would require a book to develop them all. Our book The Source attempts to do at least part of that. You can borrow it on our doesgodexist.org website or purchase it at THIS LINK. Here are a few points:

There is no Hebrew word in Genesis (or elsewhere in the Bible) that can legitimately be translated “dinosaur.” Some suggest that “behemah” and “remes” refer to dinosaurs, but the words literally refer to cattle and sheep or goats respectively. The Israelites were familiar with these animals, and they could eat them. (See Genesis 1:24-25 and 9:1-3). Genesis was written to Israel to explain how their animals came into being. It does not include every creature that ever existed – bacteria, viruses, platypus, dinosaur, etc. It seems that Genesis 1:1 describes God preparing planet Earth for humans. To do that, God created creatures that were extinct by the time He created humans and their domesticated animals.

Material found in dinosaur feces tells us what they ate. Coprolites of T. Rex do not contain plant material. Their dental structure in all cases was made to cut meat, not to grind up plants.

Being a carnivore does not mean that an animal is bad or a monster. If you don’t have carnivores, then plant-eaters eat all the plants, and soon everything dies. Why did God create T. rex? We need carnivores with the capacity to kill and digest herbivores to keep balance in nature.

Dinosaurs were not monsters any more than lions or largemouth bass are. They were part of the balance that God used as He fashioned the Earth with the resources that humans would need. At the end of the creation process “God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was VERY good” (Genesis 1:31).
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Design in Hearing

Design in Hearing
One of the amazing features of animals is design in hearing. Humans can hear sounds between 20 and 20,000 vibrations per second (Hertz). That range allows us to communicate through the air and enjoy music. Various animals can hear sounds in different parts of the frequency spectrum.

Dogs can hear frequencies higher than 20,000 Hertz. We call these sounds ultrasonic because they are above the frequencies we can hear. We use ultrasonic sounds for examining the organs inside the human body. We use it to view unborn babies inside their mother’s womb. Ultrasonic sound has uses such as cleaning of jewelry or other items. But we can’t hear it. The ability to hear ultrasonic sounds gives dogs and other animals a defense advantage. Try to sneak up on a dog. If you open a door or step on a floorboard creating an ultrasonic squeak which you can’t hear, the dog will hear and know that you are coming.

Elephants, whales, and other large animals can hear low frequencies and use them to communicate over many miles because low frequencies travel more efficiently through the ground or water. But it isn’t just large animals that use these subsonic sounds. Some small animals, like moles, can also hear low frequencies since those sounds travel well through the ground. If a mole communicated through sounds we could hear, finding and killing them would be easier for their predators and us. Because they communicate at frequencies below 20 Hertz, they are not easily detected by animals above the ground.

Design in hearing also applies to frogs, snakes, and many insects that can also hear very low or very high frequencies allowing them to communicate with others of their kind without detection by different species. Different creatures use various portions of the audio spectrum. If a creature gives off sounds that its predators can hear, they will literally be “dead meat.”

The world of sound rings out loudly the incredible design of the Creator who gave various creatures the ability to hear the sounds they need to hear. We can be thankful that God gave us the ability to hear the beautiful sounds of music and the spoken voice.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Women’s Roles Controversy in Europe

Women's Roles Controversy
One of the most interesting characteristics of the women’s rights movement is their intolerance of any view that doesn’t fit their idea of what women’s roles should be. A classic example of this is the turmoil produced by a popular Swedish journalist named Greta Thurfjell. She wrote an article in which she suggested that being a housewife was a worthy goal for a woman who chose that vocation. “Feminists are not cool and have gone too far,” Thurfjell complained.

Feminist Jonna Sima responded that Thurfjell and her supporters “have no idea how hard women had to struggle to achieve the freedoms she takes for granted.” Numerous articles on both sides of the issue have filled newspapers in Europe, with abortion rights being the primary focus.

The problem here is that both sides looking at women’s roles are ignoring fundamental human rights in pushing their agenda. Sima characterizes Thurfjell’s view as “longing to be a submissive housewife devoted to making her man happy.” On the opposite side, the need for women to have the same political and economic rights certainly should not be contested by anyone.

No woman who wants to be a wife and a mother should be criticized for choosing that role. The Bible makes it clear that this is a worthy role for women. (See 1 Timothy 5:14.) Those who chose to be career women even in the day of Paul were accepted and honored. (See Acts 16:14-15.) Such women were vital to the financial support of Jesus and of the first-century church. (See Luke 8:3.)

As a public high school teacher, I have seen the disastrous effect of women who felt unfulfilled and abandoned the role of being a mother and a wife. The impact on children is frequently catastrophic. If a woman doesn’t want that role, she needs to think of the effect her choices have on others. God’s way works, but God does not require anyone to marry or to have children. If you don’t want to be a mother, don’t!

Women’s roles are just as important as men’s roles. Sometimes a role is forced upon us, and we have to do the best we can with what we have. In 1 Timothy 5:14 Paul stated the ideal that younger women marry and guide the house, committed to that role. Feminists need to focus on equal pay for equal work and not demean those women who choose to make a career of being a wife and a mother.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Reference: The Week, November 16, 2018, page 14.

Harvard Hypocrisy Evident

Harvard Hypocrisy at their Gate
Yesterday we reported on Harvard University’s policy of forcing women’s organizations to either accept men or be driven out of existence. They are doing that to be “gender neutral.” Now we are learning about more Harvard hypocrisy.

On October 16, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published an article by William McGurn titled “What Hillsdale Can Teach Harvard.” The article documents Harvard’s discrimination against Asian-Americans. To conform to federal guidelines, Harvard is requiring higher SAT scores and adding personality traits like “kindness” and “likability” to justify the exclusion of Asian-Americans.

Hillsdale College here in Michigan has forgone federal grants and aid. In that way, it can ignore federal requirements on programs and enrollment policies. Harvard receives millions of federal dollars each year by conforming to federal guidelines for its courses and admissions. McGurn quotes a Harvard defense of their SAT and psychological requirements:

“This case involves a private university, which has a weighty academic-freedom interest, protected by the First Amendment, in choosing its students, and in determining how they are educated (including through the judgment about the educational benefits flowing from a diverse student body).”

Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College, has said, “Any time anyone from Harvard would like to see how a college can maintain its autonomy and its values, our door is open.

In past years we have reported on cases were Christian students at Harvard were pressured to reject their Christian beliefs in order to stay in school. Yesterday we quoted the administration’s commitment to “making Harvard a campus for all of its students.” Harvard’s hypocrisy and its 39-billion-dollar endowment seem to dictate what students have to do and believe to be accepted.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Gender Equality at Harvard

Gender Equality at Harvard
One of the interesting changes in secular America today is the pressure to be gender neutral. This has led to changes in higher education including a push for gender equality at Harvard University.

In August of 2018, the last sorority at Harvard named Alpha Phi was dissolved. All of the others were either closed or included males and so became gender neutral. This change took place because in 2016 Harvard said that “enacting forms of privilege and exclusion was at odds with (Harvard’s) deepest values.” The school claimed they had to take action against gender bias “to advance (Harvard’s) shared commitment to broadening opportunity to making Harvard a campus for all of its students.”

Girls in sororities were told they would be “barred from campus leadership positions, varsity team athletic captaincies and official endorsements for fellowships.” So sororities became a thing of the past. But all-men’s groups still exist at Harvard. The reason is that alumni got involved and the men’s groups have more money. In spite of rallies that involved hundreds of students protesting at the president’s office, the “progressive” belief system forced so-called gender equality at Harvard.

Harvard and the other promoters of “equality” seem to have no problem restricting the freedoms of the very people they claim to be liberating. Jesus demonstrated the view of women that dignifies them and includes them in all aspects of life.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Modern Moral Belief

Modern Moral Belief
A recent Barna research study shows that two-thirds of American adults now believe that morality is relative to circumstances. This attitude says that what is right depends on the situation. It also says that what is right for me may not be right for you and what is right for you may not be right for me. This modern moral belief conflicts with absolute moral standards.

We have often said that if you are an atheist, you have no case to make for ANY moral standards. If there is no God and no existence beyond this life on Earth, why shouldn’t I do anything that I think will bring me pleasure? It appears that if this survey is correct, a majority of Americans support that view.

Our society continues to approve any form of sexuality that one wishes to engage in. We have pointed out that experts in ethics and morality like Peter Singer at Princeton, are suggesting that our society should approve the euthanizing of humans who cannot contribute to society and who put a drain on our nation financially. This would include the mentally challenged, the mentally ill, and people who have physical limitations due to paralysis or other physical impairment. It would have included killing people like the late Stephen Hawking or other notables with high intelligence but severe disabilities.

We cannot overemphasize the importance of showing people that God exists and that the Bible is His word. A person who accepts those facts realizes that we are responsible for how we live. Modern moral belief can’t stand up against absolute moral standards from God and His word. Having absolute moral standards from God makes all the difference in the way we must live. How we live makes all the difference in what kind of world our children and grandchildren will live in.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data: OneNewsNow

Creativity, Worship, and Thankfulness

Creativity, Worship, and Thankfulness
Three the things which separate humans from our animal friends are creativity, worship, and thankfulness. Humans, created in the image of God, display that image in our own creativity. We express creativity in various artistic and productive ways. One important area of human creativity is music. Birds sing, but all individuals of any species of bird sing the same song, and they have for as long as we have known that species. They are singing the song they were programmed to sing. The only exceptions are a few birds that imitate various sounds or imitate the songs of other birds. Imitation is not creativity. Humans sing and play, many different styles of music, and we are constantly creating new songs. We even combine worship with our creativity in music as we sing to honor God. Music moves us, excites us, and touches us deeply, making it a natural outlet for worship.

Thankfulness is another area that separates us from the animals. A couple of years ago, my wife and I were leaving a sandwich shop where we ate lunch. An elderly woman with a smile on her face came up to our car window holding a sandwich. I rolled down the window to see what she wanted, and she said, “Are you the ones who paid for my sandwich?” She said the employee in the store told her that a person ahead of her had paid, so she didn’t owe anything. I told her that I was glad for her, but we were not the ones who had done this generous act. As she went away, it was evident that the small kindness had made her day, but she was disappointed that she didn’t get to thank her benefactor.

There is something about humans that makes us want to express gratitude. Our pets are loyal to us because we feed them, and they get excited when they see us open the food container. But only humans are motivated to express true gratitude. We often show thankfulness toward each other, but our greatest debt of gratitude is to God. G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “the worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.” One evidence of God’s existence is that not only does He give us many good things, but He also has given us the desire and ability to say, “Thank you.”

Creativity, worship, and thankfulness are human traits. I am thankful for the creative ability God has given us. I am thankful for the ability to use that creativity in art, music, and worship. I am also thankful for the ability to express gratitude to God.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Self-Imposed Plagues

Self-Imposed Plagues
We have received several emails bemoaning the cost of the storms and wildfires that have caused significant damage and some deaths in every country in the world. Some of the writers have suggested that God is responsible for all the bad things that have been happening. We have pointed out in previous articles how the massive destruction of hurricanes and wildfires are really a product of human mismanagement. But an even greater issue is the cost of self-imposed plagues.

Popular Science in the winter 2018 issue on page 26 published some data on what the magazine calls “The Plagues We Made.” The article uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are some of the numbers:

-Cost of the opioid crisis in 2015 – $504 billion
-Cost of firearm violence – $229 billion
-Opioid overdose deaths in 2016 were five times what they were in 1999
-Years of life lost to opioids in 2016 – 1,681,359
-Years of life lost to gun violence in the U.S. in 2016 – 916,869
-Americans killed by guns in the U.S. per day – 96.2 – 59% of those are suicides

These self-imposed plagues are taking more lives than the so-called “natural” disasters. As our country moves away from God and deeper into a “survival of the fittest” mentality, these numbers are guaranteed to increase.
–John N. Clayton© 2018