Keeping Balance in Nature

Keeping Balance in Nature with BearsAmong the design features built into the creation is that of avoiding over-eating of plants by herbivores or over predation of herbivores by carnivores. Sometimes there are surprising ways of keeping balance in nature.

Did you know, for example, that bears help control the production of caterpillars? A January 29, 2019, posting by Yellowstone National Park staff reports that Yellowstone bears in August eat an astonishing 40,000 moths a day. The moths are migrating from grasslands over the mountains in Yellowstone, and they are actually above timberline. This allows the bears to climb up and get easy nutrition as they prepare for hibernation in the coming winter. From an ecological standpoint, it limits how many caterpillars are produced, preserving plants for many animals in nearby grasslands.

One of the things science continues to learn about is how many factors are involved in keeping the balance of any ecosystem. The design of all ecosystems is so complex that knowing how many checks and balances are required is almost impossible.

Frequently humans have upset the balance God built into the creation with catastrophic results. The problem of controlling insect swarms is as old as recorded human history. Who would have thought that bears above the timberline in Yellowstone National Park would make a massive contribution to the ecology of nearby grasslands? Keeping balance in Nature requires intelligent planning and design.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Gallup Poll on Evolution 2019

Gallup Poll on Evolution 2019The latest Gallup poll on evolution was conducted June 13-16, 2019, with 1015 adults 18 and above in all 50 states. Gallup used the same questions they used in a similar poll in 1952, and others since then. Here is a summary of what they found this time:

40% of those in the survey said they believed that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

33% said they believed that “human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process.”

22% said they believed that “human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.”

Atheists have made a point of the fact that the report of the Gallup poll on evolution stated that the 40% group were “associated with lower educational levels, Protestantism and weekly church attendance.” The message that atheists are putting out from this Gallup poll is that those who believe in God are poorly educated recluses who hide in their church buildings and refuse to look at the evidence.

There are so many mistakes in what is being popularized that it is hard to know where to start. The poll was conducted by “telephone interviews.” The sampling of what kinds of telephones the pollsters used radically alters the numbers. The results for landlines will be different from that for cell phones. “Protestantism” is a very poorly defined term. The Young Earth view that humans have been unchanged in the physical history on this planet is not held by most of the major Protestant denominations. Assuming that the 40% represented all those who attend church weekly is a very bad assumption.

The most critical problem with the report of the Gallup poll on evolution is that it only focuses on the development of the physical characteristics of humans without defining what those characteristics are. The phrase “less advanced forms of life” is so ambiguous that we don’t know whether they are talking about an amoeba or Homo erectus. The report includes a graph of the changes to the way these questions have been answered since 1952. Whether the changes are because people have more facts or because the media have indoctrinated them is open to debate.

The Does God Exist? Ministry is an effort to show that science and faith are friends and not enemies. We do not represent any denomination and try to be open to all kinds of evidence – scientific and biblical. We have materials at all educational levels, and our college-level correspondence course is available on our doesgodexist.org website. You can watch our video series covering questions of creation and God on our doesgodexist.tv website. All of these materials are free.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

You can see the report on the Gallup website.

Abortion and Infanticide in Virginia

Abortion and Infanticide in Virginia
Newborn Baby Girl with Club Foot

There seems to be confusion between abortion and infanticide in Virginia today. State Delegate Kathy Tran introduced a bill in the Virginia legislature that would permit abortion through the moment of birth, even when the mother shows signs of being in labor. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said this about a baby born with significant physical problems: “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines abortion as “the expulsion of a fetus before it is viable.” It is obvious that in Virginia – and also New York – at least, it is now legal to kill a viable fetus. That is not abortion – it is infanticide. Matthew 2:16-18 tells of Herod practicing infanticide to try to avoid the political consequences of the King of the Jews surviving. In ancient Rome, unwanted babies were simply thrown into the street to die. In some nations today, male babies are preferred, and the females are eliminated.

In America, babies are now viewed by many as commodities, and only the best are fit to survive. The unfit – those with physical problems or perhaps the wrong physical features – can be destroyed. Abortion and infanticide are the tools to accomplish that. Science has sequenced and analyzed the human genome and developed techniques to modify the genome. That means we are close to being able to design a child with the features we want. Then we can discard any child that has the “wrong” features.

Christians believe that what defines a human is not their appearance or a set of physical characteristics. The Bible defines humans as beings created in the image of God. No, we don’t look like God physically because God is not a physical being. If God had a physical body, and we were all in created in God’s physical image, we would be identical. God is a spirit, and we are in God’s spiritual image. That means all humans have value, no matter what our physical body is like.

Some of the world’s greatest thinkers, artists, musicians, and political leaders were people who had physical problems. Before America today is the question, “What do we believe about the worth of a human being?” Do we want to create the super race of physical beings manufactured by human intelligence and designed to be the most fit of all life on Earth? Or do we believe that every human has value and worth? If we want the super race, then abortion and infanticide are the methods by which we can achieve that goal.

Let’s understand it is not only abortion that we are endorsing, it is the killing of infants. If every human has value, then let us work to eliminate the causes of physical problems. Let us focus on life in all of its variety and value, realizing that every human being bears the image of God. That image allows all of us to express beauty in an amazing variety of ways.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Reference: Susan B. Anthony List

Philistine People and DNA

Philistine People and DNA
Ashkelon Archaeology Site

One of the main groups described in the Old Testament is the Philistine people. Genesis 10:14 tells us that the Philistines came from Casluhim, the son of Mizraim, the son of Ham. Abraham and Isaac had dealings with the Philistine king Abimelech and his general Phichol.

The Bible goes on to tell us that when the Israelites left Egypt, the Philistines had settled along the coast between Egypt and Gaza (Exodus 13:17-18). There they prevented the Israelites from moving through the area. There were many Philistine encounters after Israel had moved into the Promised Land. We are all familiar with the story of Samson and the Philistine temptress Delilah. David and the Philistine Goliath is also a familiar story. Skeptics throughout the years have tried to suggest that these are all myths and that such characters and peoples never existed.

Scientists recently found the remains of ten individuals buried at the ancient Philistine city of Ashkelon. Archaeogeneticists used the DNA to compile genetic evidence that supports the biblical account. Michal Feldman of the Max Planck Institute says that the genetic evidence indicates a seafaring population from southern Europe settled along the eastern Mediterranean coast and inhabited Ashkelon between 3400 and 3150 years ago.

The Philistine people certainly existed, and as scientists gather more evidence, their interactions with ancient Israel seem to be without question. Science continues to confirm the Bible in many ways.

Reference: Science News, August 3, 2019, page 16.

World’s Fastest Jaws

Worlds Fastest Jaws - Mystrium camillae Insects are the most prolific of all animal groups on the planet. History records instances in which scourges of insects have caused massive destruction when they are not held in check. One of the most effective controllers of insect populations is other insects. An example of that is a species of ants with the world’s fastest jaws.

Recent studies by entomologists using high-speed cameras have shown that the ant Mystrium camillae can snap its mandibles at speeds that are 5,000 times faster than the blink of an eye. Their jaws close with so much force that even if they don’t touch their prey, they can stun them. This is part of a designed system that helps maintain balance. Sometimes humans cause nature to become out of balance. In the natural world without human mismanagement, there are animals and plants that keep nature in balance.

Designing life systems that can exist over the long haul is incredibly difficult. One of the problems in space travel is developing systems that will provide food for astronauts over a period of many years. Several experiments have been tried, but none have been successful. God’s design of life systems on Earth is amazing. We frequently see species with special equipment like the world’s fastest jaws of the Mystrium camillae. They were designed to maintain a balanced world where humans can thrive.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Reference: National Wildlife, June/July 2019, page 8.

Rapture Theology and Science

Rapture Theology and SciencePeople sometimes attempt to find scientific support for a teaching of their denomination, such as rapture theology. They write us wanting to use black holes or quantum mechanics to support a doctrinal interpretation. We have used scientific evidence to talk about the validity of biblical statements and the wisdom that we see in the Bible. However, is an error to look for scientific support for a denominational belief that is not biblical. God spoke through Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” ( Isaiah 55:8-9).

People look for scientific support for something called “the rapture.” The word “rapture” is not found in any credible, heavily-used translation of the Bible. The word comes from a Greek term “harpazo” meaning “caught up.” First Thessalonians 4:17 shows that it developed from the Latin word “raptus” and was in the Vulgate a fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible. This use eventually evolved to the middle Latin word “raptura” and to the middle French “rapture.” Promoters of rapture theology refer to Acts 1:9-11 where Jesus was “taken up.” They even identify a place in Jerusalem where they claim this happened, but there is no archaeological support for that. The Greek word used in this verse is “epairo” meaning to be “taken up” not “harpazo” to be caught up.

Other passages where “harpazo” is used are Acts 8:39, 2 Corinthians 12:2 and Revelation 12:5. If you read through those verses you will see that what they describe is not a physical act or condition, but a spiritual one. In the 2 Corinthians passage, Paul expresses confusion about what he experienced, but making clear it was not a physical event. Whatever your view of what will happen when Jesus Christ comes again, you should not look for scientific support for it from archaeology, quantum mechanics, relativity, or any physical process. Rapture theology is not scientific.

Owen Olbricht in his book The Kingdom of the Messiah (ISBN 978-0-89916-853-1) says it well: “Our conclusions will determine what we believe concerning Jesus’ return, the end of the world, the judgment, and the nature of Jesus’ kingdom.” (Page 146).

He also comments on why this should not be an issue for us: “Even if we do not agree on teachings about the rapture, differing views should not divide us; for our understanding of the events that will take place when Jesus returns will not determine our eternal destiny. What will happen will happen, regardless of what we think. Understanding what we must do to prepare to face Jesus, when He comes to judge the living and the resurrected dead (2 Timothy 4:1), is what is important. Jesus said, ‘You too, be ready: for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.’ (Luke 12:40).” (Page 145.)

The message of the second coming is a spiritual message, not one to be investigated from any scientific field. The end of time and the dissolving of the physical cosmos may have cosmological implications, but the message is still spiritual.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Natural Selection as Creative Agent

Natural Selection as Creative Agent - Polar BearsYesterday we pointed out that both evolutionary naturalists and many creationists believe that, given enough time, anything can happen. They assume that once the first life-form came into being (which cannot be explained by natural selection) that time and natural selection would create all the vastly different forms of life. There are many reasons why natural selection as creative agent will not work no matter how much time you give it. We presented three reasons yesterday. Here are three more:

1-Natural selection tends to produce over-specialization. One of the fundamental laws of biology and evolution is Dollo’s Law. The French biologist Louis Dollo proposed that law in 1890. It says that once evolutionary characteristics have evolved, they cannot revert to the form from which they came. We now know why that is true by our advances in genetics. What it tells us is that as natural selection lets an animal become more and more specialized, it can not revert back to what it was before. Polar bears that have evolved by natural selection to their present state cannot return back to the black bear genetics of their ancestors. That may mean that they will become extinct if global climate change continues. Natural selection as creative agent won’t work because it is pretty much a one-way process.

2-Natural selection deals only with survival. The development of beauty does not always involve survival. Some coloration in birds, for example, does not aid their survival but results in incredible beauty. Jesus talked about the lilies of the field and birds of the air as blessed with beauty and function. While this has significant meaning for us aesthetically, sometimes the beauty of plants and animals may actually threaten their physical survival. We have discussed this point many times in our “Dandy Designs” column and elsewhere.

3-Natural selection stands at odds with the concept of entropy. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that in any closed system, things tend to move from a condition of order to a state of disorder. One can argue that the Earth is not a closed system because the Sun is adding energy. When living things eat, they add energy in the form of the chemicals in the food they consume.

The fact is, however, that in all biological systems, there is a tendency for life to become disordered. We call it aging. My body continues to produce a higher and higher level of entropy (disorder) as the years go by. All biological systems do this. To suggest that biological systems become more and more specialized by natural processes violates the very basic laws of physics and chemistry. The cosmos itself is moving towards disorder. Unless intelligence can add organizing energy and reverse the natural tendency to age, everything is doomed from our bodies to our planet.

God built the cosmos with laws that function to allow life to exist. He created life itself and built into it certain characteristics that caused Paul to write: “We can know there is a God through the things He has made” (Romans 1:20). Natural selection is one of the things God has made, and it allows nature to function. Natural selection as creative agent cannot explain the beautiful, complex world around us. It only applies to those changes which improve the chances for life to survive. Time is not a friend to aging or complexity. The older my car gets, the more likely it is to break down. That is true of my body and the natural world around me as well.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Time as Creative Agent

Time as Creative Agent - PlatypusOne of the major misunderstandings of many creationists and naturalists alike is the belief that, given enough time, anything can happen. Those who believe in naturalism deny that God had anything to do with creation. They promote the idea that evolution by natural selection can explain everything as long as there is adequate time for it to act. Time as creative agent does not work for many reasons.

We can all agree on what will happen if you have two animals in identical environments and one of them can run very fast and the other one cannot. When a predator comes to eat them, the one who cannot run fast is more likely to get eaten. This process cannot explain how a platypus could be produced from animals that have existed in Australia now or in the past. Atheists would maintain that given enough time such a change would have happened naturally, excluding God’s role in the production of every form of life on the planet. Time as creative agent cannot replace the role of God the creator.

Some creationists seem to agree. They assume that the only rebuttal to the atheist belief is to maintain that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. They argue that such a change couldn’t happen in that short of a time. The reality is that natural selection cannot explain the creation, no matter how much time has been available for life to evolve.

There are a large number of reasons why natural selection and time as creative agent do not explain what we see in the creation. Here are just three simple ones:

1-Natural selection only deals with what has already been created.
Any theoretical explanation of how a living thing has come into existence starts by assuming the existence of an ancestral form of life. Not only is it assumed that the life-form existed, but its properties are also assumed. To explain why the male platypus has a poisonous spur on its back leg, one has to assume that it evolved from an animal that had a spur which served some other purpose. One must also assume that the ancestor used venom in some way. To explain the “radar” unit in the platypus’s nose, one has to assume that there was some kind of appendage that housed the nerve cells. Then one must assume that nerve endings with a frequency equivalent to the electromagnetic signals of the platypus’ prey were present in some primitive form.

Those oversimplified proposals are just the start. The baby platypus has to lick the milk off the mother’s stomach because she has no nipples. One can say that the nipples never evolved from the ancient ancestor, but the skin has to be porous enough for the milk to come through. The mammary glands also have to be in the right place, and the system has to be selective enough that milk can get out, but toxins cannot get in. With a good imagination, you can propose ways each of these things could happen. However, they would all have to happen simultaneously or they would be of no use and could, in fact, be life-threatening for the animal.

2-Natural selection does not propose the formation of organs with unique chemical properties, nor does it explain the chemicals themselves.
We have discussed the bombardier beetle, where a lethal combination of chemicals produces a spray that protects the beetle from predation. This is one of many specialized organs in the natural world that demands an organ that has no other function than the one the beetle uses. For natural selection to work, a previous organism would have to exist with a different a chemical having a different purpose from which this animal could evolve.

3-Natural selection ignores catastrophic extinctions. The more we study the geological record of the Earth, the more we see that massive changes have happened in the past that put an end to biological processes. Asteroid collisions, massive volcanic eruptions, massive flooding, global cooling which resulted in the freezing of all bodies of water, and solar eruptions are all well documented. These changes have been so violent that they terminated most life-forms and their development. Natural selection demands a uniformitarian past for traits to continue unabated and ultimately be incorporated into the genome of a new species.

Those are just three fundamental reasons why time as creative agent would not work. Those are only three hurdles that evolution by natural selection would have to cross to create all of the living things on Earth. Tomorrow we will look at three more.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

World’s Deepest Diving Mammal

Worlds Deepest Diving MammalRecent studies of the Cuvier’s beaked whale, also known as the goose-beaked whale, have established that it is the world’s deepest diving mammal.

Cuvier’s beaked whales dive to feed on squid and fish near the ocean floor. Researchers monitored the whales diving as deep as 2993 meters (about 1.9 miles) and staying down for more than two hours. The mean depth of the deep dives was 1400 meters for more than an hour. For example, the pressure on the whale’s body at 1800 meters (almost 6,000 feet) is 2,600 pounds per square inch (17,926 kPa). Human divers can only stand about 173 pounds per square inch (1196 kPa), which is a depth of 400 feet (122 m).

On average, these whales hold their breath for over an hour, and yet when they return to the surface, they can be ready for a shallow dive again in as little as two minutes. They tend to alternate between shallow and deep dives with the average time between deep dives being about 100 minutes. The design of the whale’s body that allows survival in these extreme environmental conditions is a subject of scientific research.

There is also the question of why they go to such extremes when the same food is available closer to the surface. One interesting aspect of the behaviors of all animals is their role in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. Like all other environments, the deep ocean needs predators to keep a balance between deep ocean life-forms and their food supply. As science begins to explore the deepest parts of the ocean, we see that there is a whole ecology that keeps life in balance. Cuvier’s beaked whale, the world’s deepest diving mammal, is part of that designed system which indicates a Designer.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

More information on the research is available on PlosOne at this LINK.

Facts About Plant Design

Facts About Plant Design including WatermelonOne of our gardener friends sent us these interesting facts about plant design:

Seeds may be dropped into the ground upside down or sideways, yet the plants always come up to the surface.

One grain of corn will produce a stalk on which there may be two ears, with perhaps 742 grains on each ear.

A light crop of wheat will produce approximately 30 grains on each stalk. A good crop of wheat will produce approximately 60 grains on each stalk. There will always be an even number of grains.

Beans grow up a pole from left to right. Morning glories grow up a pole from right to left. If turned upside down, “twining” plants will uncoil and recircle their support. Guide a twiner in the “wrong” direction, and the plant will rewind itself. The higher the twiner grows, the more tightly it clasps its support.

Dandelions will grow above their surroundings whether the grass is two, ten, or twenty inches, for it must grow up into the sunlight.

An average watermelon will have ten stripes on it. Larger ones may have 12 to 16 stripes, but they always an even number.

Those are just a few facts about plant design. Every form of life in the vegetable and animal kingdom has a predetermined set of characteristics – a master plan perfect in every detail – God’s plan. God has a perfect plan for my life and yours, which supplies all our needs – His Word (2 Peter 1:3). By His grace, we receive strength to rise above all our circumstances (Romans 8:31).
— Bob Schweikard © 2019