Enjoy the Beauty of a Sunset

Enjoy the Beauty of a Sunset

We were riding through the Arizona desert shortly before sunset on a Does God Exist? canyonlands field trip. We saw a storm in the distance, and it quickly surrounded us. Then, the storm lifted to reveal the sunset. We couldn’t stop gazing out of the bus window to enjoy the beauty of it all.

This incident reminded us that God sends the sunshine, and the rain, even in the desert. It also reminded us that God created a beautiful world and gave us the ability to enjoy that beauty. I think that ability is evidence that God created us in His image. God must enjoy beauty because He has created a universe of beautiful things that humans will never even see. We are aware of some of them only because our telescopes or space probes sometimes give us small glimpses of the beauty normally hidden from our eyes.

Even on our planet, there are beautiful things to be seen in locations where few people ever go. After scaling mountain peaks, a few of us enjoy the beauty of the valley below. While on the mountain, we look down and see beautiful flowers that grow in the rocky soil and cold air. Colorful plants and animals live and grow in the ocean, where only the most adventurous humans can enjoy their beauty. God sees all of the beauty, wherever it may be.

Are there any creatures other than humans that will stop to enjoy the beauty of a sunset? Thankfully, God has gifted humans with that ability. However, we often fail to do so because we think we are too busy. However, if we pause long enough to enjoy the beauty, we might be compelled to give thanks not only for the beauty but also for the ability to enjoy it.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

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.

Some Form Of Life Can Exist Anywhere?

Some Form Of Life Can Exist Anywhere?
Mount Shackleton in Antarctica

We read the media reports about efforts to find life on Mars, on various moons in our solar system, or planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy. These reports often give the impression that some form of life can exist anywhere we look in the cosmos. For example, on Earth, we find life in sea vents on the ocean floor and geysers in Yellowstone National Park, leading people to suggest that some form of life can exist anywhere. Add to that the presence of organic molecules in asteroids, and they say that life is out there if we just look in the right places and in the right way.

Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences published a study of 204 soil samples taken from mountains near the Shackleton Glacier in Antarctica. Scientists had predicted that this soil would contain microbes, as is true of soil samples all over the Earth. Instead, they found that 20% of the soil samples, those taken from the higher and dryer locations, had no detectable microbial life. The study seems to indicate that extreme cold and dry conditions can render an area devoid of life. Noah Fierer, one of the scientists involved with the study, said that this might be the first time scientists have found soils that did not support microbial life anywhere on Earth.

The idea that some form of life can exist anywhere in every kind of environment is an evolutionary assumption that is apparently incorrect. We know that extreme cold and dry conditions exist on Mars and many moons in our solar system. Assuming there is life elsewhere because it is so abundant on Earth and some bacteria do well in extreme conditions does not mean there is no limit to where life can exist. 

We have said many times that there might be life elsewhere in the cosmos, but if there is, God created it. This is not a biblical or apologetic issue, but these new discoveries indicate that there are limits to the environments where life can survive. 

— John N. Clayton © 2021

References: Science News for August 28, 2021, and Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences

Making the Right Assumptions

Making the Right Assumptions about Life in Space

In my first college course in statistics, the professor made the following statement: “You can prove anything by statistics as long as you make the right assumptions.” I didn’t understand what he meant at the time, but I have seen the truth of that statement over the years. People decide what they believe, and then they manipulate statistics to prove that they are correct. Another way of saying it is, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” This is true of religious people and atheists alike, and it’s a difficult mistake to avoid. Making the right assumptions to prove your point is usually possible.

There are some things we need to know about any statistical claim. The first is whether there are unconsidered variables in the calculations. For example, recent COVID death statistics failed to include other conditions that affected the mortality of people with the disease. Mortality rates for terminally ill people in nursing homes are not the same as those for college students.

People who claim that statistics indicate there must be inhabited planets with people like us base their claim on limited variables. In 1961, Astronomer Frank Drake formulated what is known as the Drake Equation to compute the probability of life on other planets. Drake used seven variables, with each assigned a probability factor. They are:

R∗ = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space


It should be evident that none of these variables are based on observations but on making the right assumptions. In addition, since 1961, science has added a vast number of new variables. For example, we need to consider black holes, star distribution, planetary chemical makeup, and asteroid bombardment. Added to that list are a host of physical constants and geologic processes we have learned through space exploration.

Astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross has refined and expanded the list to include 322 variables. Even assigning modest values for each of those parameters would mean that the probability of all 322 occurring together (as they have on Earth) would be 10-388. That number is beyond impossible. Making the right assumptions involves considering all of the variables.

Whether life exists on any other planet
is not a biblical question and has nothing to do with the existence of God. However, tomorrow we will examine some other statistical issues involving God’s existence.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

You Should Not Exist

You Should Not Exist

Do you realize that from virtually every standpoint, you should not exist? Philosophers debate the question of, “Why is there something instead of nothing?” However, the physics of your existence is much more of an issue than a philosophical debate.

Modern scientific discoveries have added to the evidence that you should not exist.
We know that matter and energy are directly related. We can turn matter into energy, as evidenced by the atomic bomb. Scientists have now shown that energy can be turned into matter. Einstein’s equation E = mc2 can work forward and backward.

The complicating factor is that two kinds of matter are always produced when energy is turned into matter. In addition to the ordinary matter we are made of, there is also a mirror image of it called “antimatter.” Antimatter consists of positively charged electrons (positrons) and negatively charged protons (antiprotons). When matter and antimatter are combined, they destroy each other, reverting to the energy from which they came. The cosmic creation event should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter. How did they not destroy each other?

Another physics principle that says you should not exist is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It says that in a closed system, things tend to move to disorder. This law allows diffusion to happen. It is why we, and everything else, fall apart with age. The cosmos, by definition, is a closed system. Carl Sagan used to say, “The cosmos is everything that is or ever was or ever will be.” The physical world is slowly dissolving, and disorder (called entropy) is increasing. The stringent conditions needed for you to exist are becoming less and less likely.

The Bible writers recognized this fact.
Isaiah wrote, “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the Earth beneath. The heavens will vanish like smoke, the Earth will wear out like a garment, and its inhabitants will die like flies, but my salvation will last forever…” (Isaiah 51:6). The spiritual realm is not affected by entropy, but the physical realm is. We exist because God created us. How He separated matter and antimatter is a mystery to science. How life came into being with the massive increase of order can only be explained because God designed our existence for a purpose.

When you take the position of the atheist, you should not exist. Existence is a vast mystery that philosophers and scientists can’t answer. From a biblical perspective, we are major players in the struggle between good and evil. (Read the book of Job.) We have a purpose, and we exist to fulfill that purpose. Being created in the image of God answers many of our questions. COVID, climate change, and the struggles between good and evil in our world remind us that our existence is temporary. There is a new existence coming that will verify why we exist in the present.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

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

The Complexity of the Cosmos

The Complexity of the Cosmos

The complexity of the cosmos is so incredible that it baffles the best scientific minds of our day. Scientists have employed elaborate machines to try to understand more of the nature of the creation.

When I was a high school student, we learned that the cosmos is made up of electrons, protons, and neutrons. All of chemistry and physics could be explained by the measurements of these three particles. When I took my first college course in nuclear science, I began to work in the cyclotron, assisting graduate Ph.D. candidates. I realized the creation was not as simple as it appears. As an atheist, this was distressing because I could see that human knowledge of the complexity of the cosmos was, at best, incomplete.

As a graduate student, I was privileged to work with equipment that could smash protons to see what was inside. “Fundamental particles” was a term that began to show up in the scientific literature, and gradually another “simple explanation of everything” began to emerge. It was called “The Standard Model of particle physics.” It consisted of leptons (such as the electron), and quarks which made up protons and neutrons.

This model also required force particles called bosons to hold things together. With larger and more powerful accelerators, scientists discovered still more particles which were the glue holding everything together. These particles were part of the structure of matter called gluons and the Higgs boson. The complexity of the cosmos was becoming more impressive.

Despite all of this work by literally thousands of physicists worldwide, they were still seeing things that didn’t fit all of the models. Galaxies were spinning too fast to hold together unless some unknown and unseen force was counteracting the centrifugal force of the rotation. The latest measurements show that 68.3% of the creation is made up of energy we can’t detect by any existing instrumentation. We can measure the mass of the cosmos, but 26.8% of the mass we know must be there because of gravitational fields is missing. Scientists now refer to the two missing quantities as “dark energy” and “dark matter.”

The complexity of the cosmos causes us to wonder at the intelligence that created all of this. We will examine this topic more tomorrow.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

The Antimatter Dilemma

The Antimatter Dilemma

One of the fascinating problems scientists face as they investigate the creation is the antimatter dilemma. Einstein’s famous equation e=mc2 tells us that energy and mass are directly related. We know that mass can be turned into energy, which is the basis of the atomic bomb and nuclear power generation.

Complex experiments have allowed scientists to turn energy into mass, producing two kinds of matter. One kind of matter is the ordinary kind that we all know about – negative electrons, positive protons, and neutrons with no charge. The other kind of matter is the opposite of ordinary matter. The nucleus of this antimatter has negatively charged protons and electrons with a positive charge, called positrons. When antimatter comes in contact with ordinary matter, they destroy each other and revert to the energy from which they came.

Antimatter atoms do exist, and scientists can produce them in the laboratory. They must be stored in magnetic fields because they would destroy any container made of ordinary matter. If the universe was created by turning energy into matter, there should be equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the cosmos. The antimatter dilemma is how did our kind of matter get isolated so that we can exist?

We can’t tell if the stars we see are made of matter or antimatter. That is because the light coming from them is not matter, so antistar radiation and normal star radiation would look the same. The process that propels nuclear reactions in stars produces gamma rays. The gamma rays that the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is detecting are not what normal stars would produce. For that reason, astrophysicists believe they are seeing emissions from antimatter stars.

The Bible tells us that God is energy (light – 1 John 1:5). Because of that, God could create the universe by simply taking some energy and turning it into matter. Suggesting that the creation process was not guided by intelligence means some unknown force solved the antimatter dilemma by separating matter and antimatter at the point of creation. Of course, that does not explain the origin of energy. Researchers say that finding evidence for antimatter stars “would be a major blow for the standard cosmological model.”

“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” is a very simple statement, but the presence of antimatter tells us that what God did is incredibly complex. This is real creation and speaks once again of God’s wisdom and power.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News, June 5. 2021, pages 8-9.

Unidentified Aerial Phenomena or UFOs

Unidentified Aerial Phenomena or UFO

Apparently, the media are running out of things to talk about, so they have resurrected the claims of alien visitation to Earth. In June, U.S. intelligence agencies are supposed to release a report detailing what the government knows about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP). Former CIA director John Brennan has stated that there have been scores of credible sightings of UAPs or UFOs that “may be piloted by a different form of life.” We have repeatedly pointed out that this is not a biblical issue. The Bible does not say that Earth is the only place where God created life.

The attention this matter is getting indicates several things about the United States today. First, the media will jump to any conclusion, no matter how bizarre it is, to get attention. Secondly, people who have rejected God and the Bible have to find some other answer to the mysteries of life, and alien intelligence has always been one of them.

UFO simply means we are too ignorant to know what we are looking at. It doesn’t make any difference if you call it Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. The number of possibilities that do not involve alien spacecraft is vast. Many UFO sightings are simply reflections off of the cockpit or window of the observer’s vehicle. Also, being in an unfamiliar environment can cause people to misinterpret what they see.

Once when I was working in Canada, a group of people claimed that a ghost was haunting a woods nearby. One night, several of us camped out in that woods. At about 2 a.m., we saw a ghost, complete with an open mouth and two eyes. It glowed a greenish-yellow color and then vanished. One of the native Canadians in the group laughed because he knew what we were seeing. The aurora borealis (northern lights) were flickering wildly in a solar maximum, and the ultraviolet radiation caused bioluminescence in a dead tree. In broad daylight, we could see that, but at night, with our imaginations running wild, it looked totally different.

Atmospheric refraction or reflection off high clouds can make city lights visible many miles from the city. Earthquakes generate radiation, and some of it is in the visible spectrum. Weather balloons, flares, test aircraft, cloud reflections, satellites, planes, or drones can all become Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. With this new report, we will see a barrage of headlines from conspiracy advocates, tabloid writers, and psychics. In truth, it is more likely that the number of actual mystery objects will be very small. Jesus Christ has answers to the real struggles in life, but E.T. does not.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: The Week magazine for May 28, 2021, page 17.

Alien Spacecrafts Coming to America

Alien Spacecrafts Coming to America - Starlink Mission
60 SpaceX Starlink satellites stacked on a Falcon 9 Rocket ready to be deployed into orbit

On May 5-7 of this year, people across the United States saw a train of lights in the night sky. Calls flooded TV and radio stations from Texas to Wisconsin as people claimed to see alien spacecrafts coming to America. Some of the stories got very imaginative as people started reporting contacts with the aliens and volunteering to leave Earth with them. This reminds us of the old saying, “If you don’t believe in something, you will believe anything.”

It seems that in this day, when many people are rejecting God, their only hope for a better existence is that aliens will come and straighten everything out. This has led to people jump to conclusions about whatever they see in the sky.

What the people saw was not alien spacecrafts coming to America. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been launching constellations of what they call “Starlink satellites.” SpaceX has sent about 1500 satellites into orbit to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. In the past month alone, SpaceX has launched dozens of satellites. You can identify them because they travel in the same orbit, one right after the other.

These satellites are becoming an issue for astronomers who are finding a great deal of light pollution from all this activity. There is even concern about how all these extra lights in the sky might affect nocturnal animals who use the stars for navigation.

As people imagine seeing alien spacecrafts coming to America, we remind you of what we have said many times. The possibility of life on other planets is not a biblical subject. If there is life out there, God created it. The willingness of people to believe in aliens from space while rejecting belief in God is pathetic. It is rooted in ignorance of the night sky and the size and distances involved in the cosmos.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Source: Associated Press by Claudia Lauer, 5/8/21.