God’s Design of Fall

God’s Design of Fall

In the Northern Hemisphere, we have just entered the period we call autumn or fall. Summer has ended. Earth’s axis tilt and its path around the Sun cause the Sun to be directly overhead at the equator. We refer to this as the equinox, which is Latin for “equal nights.” Thus, at this time, we have approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. As a new season begins, we see God’s design of fall.

For those living in the northern hemisphere, this time brings amazing things to see among the plants and animals around us. Tree leaves turn from green to a cascade of colors. They don’t all turn at the same time because of their system design. Some measure the length of the day and start turning colors when the equinox occurs. Others depend on temperature to change colors. In addition, we see fruits and nuts come to full maturity at this time, providing food for animals and ensuring the future growth of new plants.

We see God’s design of fall as animals prepare for winter. With the temperature change, some animals migrate to warmer areas. This movement coincides with the abundance of fruits and nuts, allowing nutrition for the journey. Some animals, such as hummingbirds, leave well ahead of freezing temperatures. Other animals change their color in preparation for winter camouflage in the snow. Still others retreat into a place underground where the temperatures will not drop below freezing.

The question is, how do all these plants and animals know when to do that? It cannot be a conscious, planned adjustment by the animals to the local situation. Many of the changes happen even before the cold weather arrives. Certainly, plants don’t think about cold weather coming and their need to prepare for freezing conditions. Some of the changes seem to be designed to provide humans with a sensation of beauty. A sea of green becomes a splendor of color as the plants eliminate chlorophyll “A” (which gives them their green color) to reveal various colored chemicals in the leaves.

Fall is not just about beauty, but it also brings amazing and beneficial changes. Plants that survive the winter are able to free themselves of insects and bacteria that can damage them. Some animals prepare for winter by fattening up to go into hibernation. Bears give birth during this period. God’s design of fall is a functional system that speaks of God’s wisdom.

We can see God’s wisdom and design in a unique way at this time of year. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.” To those of us who listen, fall speaks of the purposes of God in His living things.

Plasma – The Fourth State of Matter

Plasma – The Fourth State of Matter

Plasma is the least understood state of matter. We are not talking about biological material but an unstable soup of electrons, positive ions, and atoms. After solid, liquid, and gas, plasma is the fourth state of matter, and it makes up 99.9% of the universe. The Sun is a ball of plasma along with some gas. The northern and southern lights are plasma. We see plasma in lightning and in the plasma globes in museum gift shops. In recent years, scientists have produced plasma, and engineers have used it to make the chips used in computers, automobiles, television sets, and musical greeting cards. Plasma also stimulates the light we get from fluorescent lamps and neon signs.

In the 19th century, the Finnish physicist Karl Selim Lemström noticed that fir trees near the Arctic Circle grew faster when the aurora borealis was the strongest. From that beginning, scientists have found that not only does plasma enhance plant growth, but it also can kill the pathogens of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In addition, some experiments have indicated that plasma can stimulate the growth of blood vessels in animal’s skin.

Experiments in various countries have shown that seeds treated with plasma germinate and sprout more quickly. Other scientists are experimenting with sending an electric current through the air to create plasma, releasing ionized nitrogen, which plants need for growth. Those nitrogen ions can dissolve in plasma-treated water that can both irrigate and fertilize plants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, is experimenting with using plasma in agriculture to replace chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and fungicides.

The early Earth had the right environment for plasma production
, which could have stimulated plant growth in the sea and on land. This new understanding of plasma is one more testimonial to the wisdom built into the creation. The fact that 99.9% of all matter in the cosmos is plasma emphasizes how precious the physical design of our planet is. The solid matter which makes up the Earth is nurtured by liquid water, gaseous air, and plasma.

The more we know of the creation, the more we understand the power and wisdom of the Creator. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalms 19:1). When we see the Sun, the stars, the galaxies, the northern lights, and the lightning, we see plasma, a tool God uses to shape the creation and mold the world around us.

John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News for September 11, 2021, pages 18-22.

Animals Growing Crops

Animals Growing Crops

We generally think of farming as a human enterprise, but there are cases in the natural world of animals growing crops. In most cases, the crop they are raising could not survive without the animal tending it. Some good examples are living things that eat fungi or algae. 

Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan studied red algae called Polysiphonia. These algae have a symbiotic relationship with a species of damselfish (Stegastes nigricans). Red algae look like a brown carpet, and the damselfish make sure that the carpet is not disturbed. If any other species of algae shows up among the red algae, the damselfish will nip it off and take it out of the fish’s territory. If the damselfish is removed from the area, the red algae can’t survive. So it appears that the damselfish are critical to the survival of the red algae and vice versa. 

There have been other studies of certain species of ants, termites, and ambrosia beetles that grow fungi for food. Some of these “farmers” even use bacteria to produce pesticides to protect their fungus crops. How do such symbiotic relationships happen? Evolutionists suggest that initially, the animal had a varied diet but becoming dependent on one thing offered such an advantage that the animal gave up any other foods. 

The difficulties with the evolutionary explanation are many and quite complex. The nutritional issues are a problem because a single source of nutrition must have a balanced collection of minerals. Going from a varied diet to a single food does not seem to be an evolutionary advantage. Defending the food source is also an issue. For example, when the researchers removed the damselfish, other fish and sea urchins had eaten all of the red algae within days. 

Another explanation is that symbiotic relationships are part of the design of every animal’s genome. The earliest fossil remains of many animals show that a symbiotic relationship was already in place. We suggest that animals growing crops is part of God’s design. He gave them the genetic messaging and instinctive drive necessary for them to survive. 

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Original article in Science News August 12, 2006, page 102. You can find many other references on the web. 

Poison Ivy Vaccine On the Way?

Poison Ivy Vaccine On the Way?

Those of us who work in science have been amazed at the public’s fear of the COVID vaccine. We shouldn’t be. When the polio vaccine came out, the same thing happened. Before that, there were similar public reservations about the smallpox vaccine. Now we may have a new vaccine for people to worry about – a poison ivy vaccine.

Every year up to 50 million Americans struggle with poison ivy infections. Ten percent of lost-time injuries among U.S. Forest Service workers are due to poison ivy. Here in Michigan, birds immune to poison ivy spread it by eating the berries and dispersing the seeds. As the saying goes, “One man’s (or bird’s) meat is another man’s poison.

Studies at Duke University indicated that the amount of carbon dioxide in the air controls how much urushiol the poison ivy plant produces. Urushiol causes the rash that so many of us experience when we contact the poison ivy plant. So the increase of carbon dioxide in the air causes climate change and makes poison ivy worse.

Research is now on the verge of producing a poison ivy vaccine. The compound called PDC-APB injected as a vaccine every year or two could prevent poison ivy misery. The University of Mississippi developed the vaccine, and Hapten Sciences has licensed it. The compound has passed initial safety tests in humans and will be undergoing controlled effectiveness trials.

The painful rash from poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac may become a thing of the past. God has put into the creation materials that can help humans avoid poison ivy problems and given humans the intelligence to discover them. You can be sure that some people will circulate misinformation about the poison ivy vaccine. However, as one who has been hospitalized three times with poison ivy experiences, I will be in line for the vaccine when it is available.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Scientific American, September 2021, page 24.

Feeding Starving People

Feeding Starving People - Chickpeas are one answer
Dried Raw Chickpeas

Every day, the mail brings letters from organizations asking for money for feeding starving people around the world and in the United States. Most of these organizations are directly or indirectly connected to the teachings of Christ. I don’t get letters from atheists who feed hundreds of people who don’t have enough to eat. When Jesus gives a picture of the judgment scene in Matthew 25:31-46, the first thing He says is that His followers will provide food and drink to the needy.

As the population of planet Earth grows, the need for food will only increase. God has provided the means to feed our population. More than that, we could double our population and still have enough for everyone to eat. Hunger results from waste, mismanagement, greed, selfishness, and failure to live as God has called us to live.

Science has learned some superfoods are untapped or poorly managed. One example is the lowly chickpea. Chickpeas provide more than twice as much protein as corn and more than four times as much fiber as brown rice. In addition to providing nutrition for people, chickpeas enrich the soil with nitrogen so that farmers can use less fertilizer. Botanists have developed new varieties of chickpeas to grow in harsh conditions and even fight off blights. These new varieties allow farmers in Africa and Asia to double their yields.

John the Baptist ate locusts and honey according to Matthew 3:4. Worldwide, people eat more than a thousand species of insects. Insect farming is in its infancy, but grasshoppers, rhino beetles, and termites are the three most common insect food sources. Not only do insects provide all the nutrition that a human needs, but the cost of raising bugs is microscopic compared to cattle, sheep, chickens, and pigs.

Potatoes are an essential crop for feeding people, and the top potato producer is China, with an annual harvest exceeding 150 million tons. No matter what climate changes we see in the coming years, chickpeas, insects, and potatoes can withstand the extremes. God has provided the resources for feeding starving people to make desperate hunger a thing of the past. Humans just need to learn to get along and use all the resources God has given us.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from National Geographic articles by Nancy Shute from 2010 to 2021.

Hidden Designs in Creation

Hidden Designs in Creation - Seagrass Meadow

A regular feature in the Does God Exist? quarterly journal is what we call “Dandy Designs.” Those pages feature examples of design in living things that speak of God’s wisdom. We have collected many of those examples in five volumes of Dandy Designs booklets. In addition to obvious designs we notice every day, there are many hidden designs in creation that are vital to our existence.

Defenders magazine carried an interesting article about seagrass. Standing by the ocean shore, you may not be aware that seagrass even exists. It grows on the ocean floor in large meadows similar to those we see on land. Recent concerns about seagrass have made headlines as the Florida manatees that feed on seagrass have been dying in large numbers because of pollution killing seagrass meadows.

Seagrass is not just manatee food. It also benefits humans directly. The Defender article lists five direct ways in which we benefit from seagrass:

1) One acre of seagrass produces 50,000 liters of oxygen per day.
2) One acre of seagrass can absorb 3500 miles worth of carbon emitted by an average car each year.
3) One acre of seagrass will support 40,000 fish and 50 million invertebrates.
4) One acre of seagrass will absorb enough nutrients to treat the amount of sewage created by 100 people annually.
5) One acre of seagrass will generate $35,000 in ecological services every year.


We live in a time of massive change, with global warming and ecological problems threatening our world in a way not apparent in previous years. Yet, as Christians, we believe that we need to care for and protect God’s creation, and the more we learn about the hidden designs in Creation, the better we can do that.

John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Summer 2021 edition of Defenders magazine, page 8.

Plants use Magnetism

Plants use Magnetism

One area of constant scientific investigation is the involvement of magnetism in living things. Studies have shown that cattle can align themselves with Earth’s magnetic field. Magnetism seems to be used by some animals in migrations. The presence of magnetism in the human brain has led to research into what that magnetism does and how medical science can use it to treat certain diseases. In addition to animals, plants use magnetism.

Scientists have found that magnetism plays a role in the survival of some plants. For example, the Venus flytrap uses jaw-like leaves to trap insects. Scientists have been mystified by what causes the “jaws” to close. However, it appears that stimulation from prey produces a small magnetic field which triggers the “jaws” to snap shut.

Studies have shown that other plants use magnetism by generating magnetic fields, including a bean and a single-celled alga and bacteria. This magnetic ability seems to be built into the plants for highly specialized functions. Thus, God’s design for every living thing is both subtle and complex.

Science is just beginning to understand how plants use magnetism. As we have said before, that Earth’s magnetic field has reversed in the past. We are far from understanding the many ways such a reversal could have affected life on this planet.

Realize that magnetism in a living plant requires ferromagnetic materials to be built into the plant. Those magnetic materials would serve no other purpose than to allow the plant to use magnetism somehow. Everywhere we look in the natural world, we see that a wonder-working hand has gone before.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: National Geographic, September 2021, page 19.

Birds are Better Than Pesticides

Birds are Better Than Pesticides

One of the major scourges that farmers face is crop damage from insects. Farmers spend massive amounts of money on pesticides to get rid of the pests that invade almost every crop they grow. There is also a significant problem with rodents in some crops, and again chemical elimination of rodents is expensive and does a great deal of collateral damage. The solution to all of this is birds. Birds are better than pesticides.

God has always built into the natural environment a way to keep insects and rodents in check. Predators prevent the overpopulation of these pest challenges to human farmers. When humans kill off the predators, the only recourse is using chemicals. New studies have shown how vital birds are to the control of insects and rodents. Birds are better than pesticides. Here are some examples:

FLOOD CONTROL DAMS AND LEVEES – Ground squirrels and gophers burrow under dams and levees, causing the collapse of these structures. Chemical use of anticoagulant rodenticides cost Ventura County, California, $7500 a year and also killed coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. So instead, the county installed raptor perches to attract owls, hawks, and falcons. Studies showed that those birds were 67% more effective in controlling rodent burrows and saved $7500.

INDONESIAN CACAO PLANTATIONS – Yields of cacao, used for making chocolate, have increased by 290 pounds per acre after adding bird boxes to the fields.

EUROPEAN APPLE GROWERS – Growers have reduced caterpillar damage by 50% by adding nest boxes that attract insectivorous birds known as great tits.

COFFEE BEANS – Farmers in Jamaica added bird boxes and reduced the number of coffee berry borers, increasing profits by $126 per acre.

CALIFORNIA VINEYARDS – Pocket gophers and voles were damaging crops up to $58 per acre. A single family of barn owls placed in a nest box killed 3,000 rodents in a single year. Armyworms are a problem for U.S. Vineyards as well as for beet growers. In California, nest boxes have attracted bluebirds that eat 2.4 times the number of armyworms as areas without bird boxes.

WALNUT GROVES – Moth Larvae are a problem for walnut growers. Placing bird boxes eliminated four times as many of the larvae as other methods.

Humans have created many problems by not using God’s methods of controlling pests. Research shows that chemicals which cause cancer and other issues are not nearly as effective as birds in eliminating the scourges farmers face. Birds are better than pesticides.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Living Bird, Summer 2021, Volume 40 # 3, pages 33 – 42. Available from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

God’s Solution for Climate Change

God’s Solution for Climate Change -Forests

It is becoming more and more difficult for the naysayers to deny that we are facing climate change. Some areas are experiencing too much rain, while others are facing catastrophic drought. It is hard to miss the changes in ocean temperatures and how that is affecting ocean life. People have offered all kinds of solutions to stop or reverse what is going on in the world’s climate, but the solutions are expensive and unproven. Perhaps we need to turn to God’s solution for climate change.

Science News published an extensive series of reports under the title “Can Trees Save the World.” The subject matter is broken into three major topics: (1) The Promise and Pitfall of Trees (2) First, Protect Today’s Forests (3) The Forested Farms of the Future. The articles point out the many things trees do to provide climates in which humans can survive.

For example, trees capture and sequester carbon, break up the soil, and inject nutrients into all kinds of soils. Trees provide food for a wide variety of life forms, including humans. Those food sources include fruit, fungus, and plant materials. The report gives an encouraging message of how trees can change the climate situation that threatens humans today,

It is worth noting that according to the Genesis account, the first form of life God created was plants (Genesis 1:11). This was before He established the Sun and Moon as controllers of “signs and for seasons and for days and for years.” The sequence of plants in these verses is “deshe” (grasses), “eseb” (herbs – gymnosperms), and finally “ets peri zera” (tree yielding fruit whose seed is in itself).

Scientific evidence shows that plants were major factors in producing a climate that would allow humans to exist. It seems that correcting our climate problems should involve repeating what God used initially to prepare the planet for human life. We need to turn to God’s solution for climate change.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News for July 3/July 17, 2021, pages 19 -35.

Seaweed as a Natural Resource

Seaweed as a Natural Resource
Sea Grapes (Aulerpa lentillifera)

The summer issue of the Nature Conservancy magazine contains an interesting article about the value of seaweed. Overfishing, pollution, ocean acidification, and global warming combine to make life difficult for people living in coastal areas who depend on fishing. The use of seaweed is a solution to much of this, and researchers are making significant progress in advancing seaweed as a natural resource.

Growing food in the ocean is more efficient than raising it on the land. There is no need to worry about water or fertilizer because seawater has all the nutrients needed. There are collateral benefits as well since many marine species depend on seaweed to reproduce.

Companies extract carrageenan from seaweed and use it in the production of cosmetics, foods, and medicines. More than 25,000 people are employed in farming seaweed in Tanzania, and extensive training programs are teaching local farmers how to farm seaweed in their coastal waters. 

There is reason to be optimistic about the future. We are learning to use all that God has given us to radically increase our food production, and the work of farming the ocean is leading the way. Not only does seaweed provide food directly to humans, but it can be dried and used as food for cattle, sheep, and goats. Seaweed also helps the planet by reducing the carbon dioxide in the air and increasing the oxygen content. 

The diversity that God has built into the creation allows us to overcome the problem of feeding a growing population while finding ways to reduce pollution. Seaweed as a natural resource demonstrates once again that creation is not a cosmic accident but designed for advanced human life. 

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: nature.org