Design of an Elephant’s Trunk

Design of an Elephant’s Trunk

Some of the exciting things about the natural world are the cases where the design is so advanced that any evolutionary explanation is difficult to believe. An excellent example of that is the design of an elephant’s trunk.

Recent ultrasound studies of elephant trunks have shown they are incredibly complex examples of design. The elephant is the only living land animal to have a long boneless appendage. A septum stretching the length of the trunk separates the trunk’s two nostrils. The elephant can expand each nostril’s volume up to 64%. The flow rate of water through the trunk averages about 3.7 liters per second, which would be the same as 24 shower heads operating all at once.

An elephant’s trunk is not just a drinking straw. When the elephant uses the trunk for something other than water, such as food, the nostrils don’t expand, but the elephant uses its lungs to suck up the food. The nostrils can bring air in at more than 150 meters per second, 30 times as fast as in a human’s sneeze.

Research is continuing on the muscular design of an elephant’s trunk. The intricate muscular structure and lack of joints give the elephant a highly complex trunk movement. Engineers have built robotic devices based on the design of an elephant’s trunk,

One researcher commented, “You never know where bio-inspiration will lead.” Designs from Velcro to airplane wings have come about by studying what God has created in living things. Everywhere we look, we see that a wonder-working hand has gone before.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News July 3 & 17, 2021 page 11.

The tradition of Dispensationalism and the Earth’s Age

The Tradition of Dispensationalism and the Age of the Earth
Grand Canyon Limestone

Yesterday we looked at the denominational tradition of dispensationalism and its promotion of the idea that Earth’s age is only 6000 years or so. The promotors of this denominational teaching have spent millions of dollars producing the Creation Museum in the Dallas area, the Creation Theme Park and Ark Encounter with Ken Ham in Kentucky. They have also produced massive numbers of books, videos, and public presentations promoting their doctrine. It is a high-dollar operation and has influenced many Christians.

The tradition of dispensationalism presented in these museums and programs has so many scientific and logical problems, it would take a book to deal with them all. Here are a few:

Their understanding of the origins of rocks is very weak. For example, the Grand Canyon has massive amounts of limestone. Their contention that the flood of Noah produced the limestone is dead wrong. A flood never produces a chemically precipitated rock like limestone. Sandstone, conglomerate, and shale are flood deposits, and they exist in small amounts in the canyon.

Their understanding of radioactive dating is very bad. Nuclear dating methods correlate well with other dating methods. Carbon 14 is not used for very old things because its half-life is too short, so scientists use many other radioactive materials for older datings. The average high school physics student knows these methods and understands this point.

Their understanding of geologic processes is very weak. For example, how long did it take for continental glaciers to carve massive numbers of lakes and huge moraines that make up much of Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, and the Great Lakes? How long does it take to produce anthracite coal – not the lignite that can form rapidly?

They create problems by trying to squeeze events into a 6000-year Earth history to fit the tradition of dispensationalism. For example, Methuselah lived 969 years (Genesis 5:27) and is the grandfather of Noah. If Noah lived 950 years (Genesis 9:29) and was 600 years old when he went into the Ark (Genesis 7:11), was Methuselah killed by the flood? Over and over, the Bible tells us that God is outside of time. (See 2 Peter 3:8, Psalms 90:4. Psalms 102:27, Acts 1:7.) Despite that, dispensationalists want to lock God into a human time frame. They say that God made the universe and Earth look old even though they are not. Now you have God deliberately misleading humans, which James 1:13 says God would never do.

Our plea is to take what the Bible says without allowing human doctrines or denominational teachings to tell us what to believe. God could have done the creation instantly, but He chose to use vast amounts of time. By doing that, He enabled humans to find the resources we need by understanding how they were formed.

Don’t follow denominational traditions of dispensationalism! Just read and believe what the Bible says, realizing that it does not tell how old planet Earth is. If you are interested in learning more about dispensationalism, drop us a request, and we will mail you a copy of an article we published in the November/December 2008 issue of our journal titled “Destructive Dispensationalism.” Or you can read it online at THIS LINK. You can also read our previous posts on this subject HERE, HERE, and HERE.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

The Age of the Earth and the Bible

The Age of the Earth and the Bible

One issue that seems never to go away is the age of the Earth. I frequently get letters from people saying, “If I didn’t have to believe the Earth is 6000 years old, I would be a Christian.”

The root of this problem is those who believe in the denominational doctrine of dispensationalism spend massive amounts of money attempting to justify their ideology. The list of promotors of this denominational tradition is vast. It started with John Nelson Darby, Cyrus Scofield, and D.L. Moody. These men published study Bibles and promoted the idea of seven discrete dispensations. The final dispensation is supposed to involve Israel becoming the world’s capital with Jesus Christ the King reigning from Jerusalem.

The televangelists of our day have modified some of that but have promoted much of it, including the young age of the Earth. The list of promoters of some version of dispensationalism is huge: Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, Charles Ryrie, John Walvoord, Eric Sauer, John Hagee, Jim Bakker, Jerry Falwell, Paul Crouch, Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Swaggart, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, dispensationalism is a major misunderstanding of the Bible and the nature of God and Jesus. Jesus will not be coming to wage a physical military war with the Chinese, Russians, or anyone else. “My kingdom is not of this world” does not involve any nation – including Israel. Joshua 23:14 tells us that God had fulfilled all the promises He made to Abraham. Colossians 2:8-14 makes it clear that Jesus took out all of the ancient teachings and laws connected with Israel as He established His Church – a spiritual kingdom. Ephesians 2:1-22 and Galatians 3:26-29 emphasize the oneness of the spiritual kingdom, with no nationalities or warfare of any kind.

The attempt to promote Israel’s physical domination of all Earth’s people started early in Church history. In Acts 15, the first century Christians dealt with attempts to promote Jewish tradition in the Church, and they rejected it. Jesus had difficulty getting His followers to understand that His kingdom was “not of this world (John 18:36), and we have the same battle today.

The bottom line is that the Bible does not tell us the age of the Earth. Yet, tragically, preaching schools and some Christian colleges continue to parrot the teachings of dispensationalism while denying that they are. The graduates of these schools and colleges go out and drive people away from God by promoting this denominational tradition that is wrong historically, scientifically, and logically. Tomorrow we want to look at some scientific and logical problems with this denominational teaching.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Evidence of Climate Change

Evidence of Climate Change

My son-in-law and his family moved to Vancouver, Washington, in 2020. His wife grew up in Thailand, where the weather was hot and humid. I told her that when she got to Vancouver, she would have a completely different climate experience. I explained that the Pacific Current along the coast brings cold water from Alaska while the wind brings cool air and lots of rain to the Portland/Vancouver area. How could I have guessed that the summer of 2021 would prove me wrong and give more evidence of climate change?

June 27, 2021, was the hottest day ever recorded in Oregon, with temperatures reaching 112 degrees in the Portland area. Air conditioners are usually rare commodities in that part of the country, and even fans are not very common. Because the weather was so unusual, people were ill-equipped to deal with that kind of heat, and many people died. My son-in-law had brought an Indiana exhaust fan, so they were not comfortable but able to survive.

This was not just a freak heatwave. Climate change in the western third of this country is causing all kinds of problems. Lake Powell, on which we have spent many happy hours, is at 20% of its maximum capacity. Lake Mead near Las Vegas is 160 feet below its full level. People living in areas like the U.S. midwest don’t understand that this is a real crisis for people who live in the desert southwest. Many cities get their water from these lakes, Likewise, farms. Farmers irrigate their vineyards and orchards with water from those lakes.

The drought is evidence of climate change producing tinderbox conditions in the forests of the western region. From July 24 through December 31 of 2020, more than 100 fires burned over 10 million acres causing 20 billion dollars in damage to man-made structures. The heat even caused highways to buckle.

Those who try to deny the evidence of climate change are setting the world up for a catastrophic future. This is not something that God has done to punish us. However, it is the result of careless use of the resources God has given us. It is time to stop arguing and start fixing the problem. Moving water from places where there is too much to areas that are in drought is an expensive option. Planting massive numbers of trees is an option worth trying. Standing around in 115-degree heat and trying to deny the climate is changing is not an option.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: The Herald Bulletin, July 3, 2021.

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.

Black Holes Prove the Universe Had a Beginning

Black Holes Prove the Universe Had a Beginning
First Black Hole Photograph from 2019

The cosmological evidence for the creation of the cosmos is vast. The first step in discussing this is whether there was a beginning to the cosmos or whether space, time, and matter/energy are eternal. Black holes prove the universe had a beginning.

For many years, atheists maintained that if believers can say that God has always existed, it is just as reasonable to say that matter/energy has always existed. Unbelieving scientists proposed many theories, such as the oscillating universe, to avoid the message of Genesis 1:1. However, the laws of thermodynamics made it difficult to believe that the cosmos has always existed.

New observations by astronomers have offered another proof that there was a beginning. Black holes are no longer just a theoretical tool of Einstein and other physicists. Astronomers have seen evidence of black holes. They have photographed them, and now but they have seen them in action. Scientists observed two black holes colliding, and they have detected a black hole swallowing a neutron star.

Neutron stars are the incredibly dense remains of a stellar collapse. One teaspoon of matter in a neutron star would have a mass of a billion tons. As astronomers watched, a black hole caught a neutron star in its gravitational field. The neutron star made 500 orbits of the black hole in less than a minute, generating as much energy as all the visible light in the observable universe. Scientists on Earth detected the bursts of energy from the collision in January of 2020, but they just released the data on June 29, 2021, in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

This observation shows that black holes are slowly vacuuming all of the matter in the cosmos into a single massive black hole. If the cosmos were eternal, they would have already completed that process. The fact that we see an early stage of a black hole eating the densest star in the cosmos shows that it will eventually happen if things continue as they are now. By this action, black holes prove the universe had a beginning.

There was a beginning to time, space, and matter/energy. All of the evidence supports that fact. The design features that we see everywhere in creation show us that we are not some cosmic coincidence but the product of an intelligence that had a purpose in creating us.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ac082e

Lesson from a Butterfly

Lesson from a Butterfly

We recently saw an article by Julie Marcussen that brings a great lesson to us concerning the life struggles we all have. This lesson from a butterfly has to do with God’s design in living things. Also, it says something we all need to consider. The story goes like this:

A man found the cocoon of a butterfly and watched it hoping to see a beautiful butterfly come from the cocoon. One day a small opening appeared in the cocoon. He watched the butterfly try to force its body through that small opening, but its progress was painfully slow, and it finally seemed to stop and not make any more progress. It appeared that the butterfly had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.

So, the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon allowing the butterfly to emerge. But when it came out of the cocoon, the butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly expecting that at any moment, the wings would expand to support the body, which would contract.

It never happened.
The butterfly spent the rest of its short life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings, unable to fly. The man, in his kindness, didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle for the butterfly to get through the small opening were a designed system to force the fluid from the body into its wings. Only then could it be ready for flight once it was free of the cocoon. That is the lesson from a butterfly.

Sometimes we need life’s struggles to prepare us to deal with the world in which we live. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it could cripple us. Expecting God to remove every problem, temptation, and consequence of bad choices would not allow us to be strong enough to have any value or purpose in our lives. We, too, would never fly.

This life and its struggles mold and prepare us for an existence with God free of problems and struggles. We can learn this lesson from a butterfly. Having struggled through the small opening of our existence we call “life” will make our heavenly existence just that more beautiful.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

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.

Distrust of Science and Where It Comes From

Distrust of Science and Where It Comes From - COVID Vaccination

Every day there are stories about people who refuse to be vaccinated for COVID, indicating that they don’t trust science. Where does this distrust of science come from? Furthermore, what can we do about it?

Dr. Robert Jastrow explained a good indication of the source of the problem in his book God and the Astronomers. Jastrow said this about scientists: “Their reactions provide an interesting demonstration of the response of the scientific mind – supposedly a very objective mind – when evidence uncovered by science itself leads to a conflict with the articles of faith in our professions. It turns out that the scientist behaves the way the rest of us do when our beliefs are in conflict with the evidence. We become irritated, we pretend the conflict does not exist, or we paper it over with meaningless phrases.”

The most famous example of this was Albert Einstein, whose work showed there had to be a beginning to the creation. Einstein was an agnostic at that time and didn’t want to believe the cosmos had a beginning. So despite the evidence, he introduced a constant into his equations to allow his work to support his religious belief that the universe was eternal. In 1919 cosmologist Arthur Eddington pointed out the error, thus indicating that there was a beginning to the cosmos. Later, Einstein called it the “greatest blunder of my life.”

The problem is that not all scientists have the integrity that Einstein demonstrated. Many Nobel prize winners have made false claims in spite of clear evidence to the contrary. The bottom line is that doctors and scientists are humans, and they make mistakes and run into things they can’t explain, just like the rest of us. Sometimes even good science causes bad reactions. I know a family whose child had a severe reaction to a measles vaccination that left her in a vegetative state. Most of us know someone who has had an adverse reaction to a medication. These things combine to cause a distrust of science.

Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:20 to “avoid profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.” Science is knowledge, and Paul isn’t telling Timothy to avoid knowledge. Instead, Paul is telling him to avoid “babblings.” The Greek word used there means “empty sounds.” Scientists may express their beliefs or feelings, but that is not science. Television has brought scientists into talk shows where they voice opinions on things outside of their field of training. Unfortunately, our news people are almost all biased in what they report and how they report it. For example, some channels are so aligned with a political party that 100% of their news reporting promotes that party.

We can read scientific reports and know, for example, the risks of a COVID vaccination. But, we can also consider the benefits are to us, our loved ones, and our community as well. If we are going to be good stewards of our lives and health, we must spend some time determining what is good and true and what is a dangerous scam. Distrust of science by rejecting a medical tool proven to preserve health and well-being because someone in the media makes a false claim is foolish. It only serves the agenda of those who oppose the Truth.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Dr. Robert Jastrow God and the Astronomers, WW. Norton & Co., © 1992, page 16.

What I Learned in Paleontology Class

What I Learned in Paleontology Class - Trilobite Fossils
Trilobite Fossils

We want to share with you this article by Phillip Eichman about a class in paleontology, the study of the history of life on Earth based on fossils.

Back in the 70s, I was majoring in biology at Wright State University and needed some elective hours to graduate, so I signed up for a course in invertebrate paleontology. I had already taken a year of geology, and this was an upper-level course. However, what I learned in paleontology class when I was a young Christian made the course worthwhile.

I had been interested in rocks since I was a small child. So I began collecting them and found my first fossil before starting school. By the time I was in the fifth or sixth grade, my closet was stuffed with boxes of rocks and fossils, and I had practically worn out my Golden Guide book of Rocks and Minerals.

As a young Christian, I was a little concerned that this course in paleontology might somehow cause me to question my religious faith. But, as it turned out, this was one of my all-time favorite courses.

In the class, we went phylum by phylum, looking at the hard parts, noticing the main characteristics of the group, and learning how to identify the fossils. It was easy to see that the various groups developed, or evolved, over time, but they were still part of that major group. For example, the gastropods were still gastropods, and the brachiopods were still brachiopods. The same was true for the cephalopods, corals, trilobites, and others. There was no confusion caused by a huge number of “intermediate forms” that you hear about so often in the popular media.

This lack of intermediate forms is not consistent with the “amoeba to man” theory of evolution. It is, however, consistent with the biblical account of God creating various “kinds” of living things with the ability to change over time, or evolve, within those groups.

As has been pointed out many times in the Does God Exist? program, science and the Bible are not enemies if we understand both in the proper way. Instead of causing harm to my faith, what I learned in paleontology class and my study of fossils only strengthened my belief in God as the Creator.

— Phillip Eichman © 2021