Massive Amounts of Water in the Cosmos

Massive Amounts of Water in the Cosmos

One of the things that has entered the debate about life in space has been the presence of water. Astronomers have found methane, ethane, and other compounds in oceans on other planets and moons in our solar system. Unlike water, they are not polar molecules. The polar structure of water makes it an apparent necessity for life. Scientists have debated about whether water has existed or does now exist on Mars, our Moon, or one of the many moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Now there is evidence of massive amounts of water in our solar system.

We have posted before about NASA’s “Astronomy Picture of the Day” website (apod.nasa.gov). On January 15, 2021, the page showed this picture taken by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 14, 2015, as it flew by Pluto. The photograph shows areas of frozen nitrogen and carbon monoxide. It also shows massive amounts of water ice frozen into mountains reaching up to 11,000 feet (3,353 m), which is comparable to mountains on Earth.

There is more and more evidence that, at least in our solar system, water is quite common. Because of the temperatures in the outer planets, that water is in a frozen state. Liquid water has a very narrow range of temperatures, and that means the zone in which a planet can have liquid water is very small. Because of that, life on another planet is improbable, but the potential for humans establishing or supporting life elsewhere is relatively high.

Verse two of Genesis 1 tells us that the early Earth had water in the liquid state: “And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Massive amounts of water apparently dominated the planet. Verse six tells us that there was “a firmament in the midst of the waters” that divided the waters. It isn’t until verse nine that dry land appears. The keyword in these verses is the word translated firmament in English. The Hebrew word used here is “raqia.” It is used nine times in Genesis 1 and eight times elsewhere in the Old Testament. Four of those eight are in the visions of Ezekiel 1:22-26.

The Bible’s economy of language leaves us to understand the “firmament” from its context. The most accurate understanding is what, in modern terms, we would call an “interface,” a zone of change. In many cases, that zone is the atmosphere, so in verse 20 of Genesis chapter one, we have birds flying in the firmament. Genesis 1:14-15 tells us that the Sun and the Moon became visible as the darkness (Genesis 1:2) of the cloud cover (Job 38:8-9) in the firmament cleared. Ezekiel saw his chariots in the firmament.

The discovery of mountains of frozen water elsewhere in the solar system indicates that the original cosmos had massive amounts of water, as Genesis 1:6 implies. It also tells us that when the Earth’s temperatures settled to between zero and 100 degrees Celsius, the water became seas covering the planet. This is one more evidence for the integrity of the Genesis account as it describes the creative design of God, simplified so that all humans can understand it.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Quasar Brighter Than 100 Billion Stars

Brighter Than 100 Billion Stars

It’s 2.5 billion light-years away, and brighter than the over 100 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy combined. If it were even as close as 30 light-years from us, it would appear as bright as the Sun, which is only eight light minutes away. Before anyone ever saw it, scientists detected it by the radio waves that it sends out.

In 1963, astronomer Allan Sandage was the first to observe quasar 3C 273 with a telescope. Quasars are the brightest objects in the known universe. They’re massive discs of particles that surround a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy. They emit intensely powerful energy as the black hole sucks the life out of matter and pulls it into its abyss. The energy is brighter than 100 billion stars.

The cloudy streak in the picture from NASA’s Hubble Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 is a jet of energy that was fired off by the quasar at some time in the past. That streak is 200,000 light-years long! It would be impossible to survive in a galaxy with a quasar in its center. The intense energy from the quasar would destroy life while the black hole devoured the matter. We can be thankful that this quasar is so far away, even though it is one of the nearest.

Life on Earth is possible because we have no black holes or quasars near us. We think the universe reveals the work of an amazing Master Designer. We agree with Dr. Allan Sandage, the first person to observe a quasar, when he said, “Science makes explicit the quite incredible natural order, the interconnections at many levels between the laws of physics…Why is the design that we see everywhere so truly miraculous?… As I said before, the world is too complicated in all its parts and interconnections to be due to chance alone.”

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Outer Space Is Not Dark

Outer Space Is Not Dark
Crab Nebula

Every time we get a better view of outer space, a new mystery steps forward. In 2015 a spacecraft called New Horizons went past Pluto and raced into outer space. The computers onboard the spacecraft were programmed to block out all light from known objects in the Milky Way galaxy. You would expect that if no light from stars or galaxies could get into the light measuring devices on New Horizons, it would measure only total and complete darkness. Instead, what New Horizons told us is that outer space is not dark but incredibly brilliant.

Outer space has an amount of light equivalent to the light from all the known galaxies in space! Tod Lauer, a spokesperson for the National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory in Tucson, says, “There’s something out there unknown.” The most likely scenario for this unexplained light is that there are still more galaxies and stars or clusters of stars beyond the reach of our telescopes, illuminating the distant clouds of matter.

Astronomers have said that the size of the cosmos is not only larger than we can describe with our known science and mathematics, but it is also larger than we can imagine. David wrote in Psalms 139:7-12, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. … If I say ‘Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you, the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you…”

There is so much about outer space that we don’t know, like why outer space is not dark. But everything we discover points to the work of the Creator. It shows that He is a being outside of time and space who has created the cosmos with power and wisdom beyond our feeble ability to understand.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: The Week, December 25, 2020. page 20.

Life Chemicals in Space

Life Chemicals in Space
Piece of the Murchison Meteorite

On September 28, 1969, a meteorite fell near Murchison, Victoria, Australia. When scientists studied the meteorite, they found amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of proteins. In 1971, researchers reported that the Murchison meteorite’s amino acids were primarily glycine. Recent studies of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko have also detected glycine. Other studies of space materials have revealed that nucleobases and sugars exist in outer space. These studies indicate that there are life chemicals in space, but it is essential to understand that these compounds are not life.

The media has used headlines to suggest that science has found life in outer space. That is not the case. We have learned that there are life chemicals in space, but not life. These compounds are the key components of DNA and RNA, and that means that if there is life elsewhere, it will be made of the same stuff that we are made of. Claims of exotic forms of life existing all over the cosmos are exaggerations and not supported by the evidence. However, it is possible that God has not limited life to planet Earth. To travel throughout the cosmos, we may need to use the life chemicals available in space.

When Jesus gave the Great Commission, He said to take the gospel to the “kosmos.” From that Greek word, we get the English word “cosmos.” Carl Sagan said, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” You can find “kosmos” used in Matthew 24:21 and 25:34 and Mark 14:9 and 16:15. The Greek word “aion” is used elsewhere in Matthew, Mark, and Luke when referring to a habitable planet.

Jesus said to preach the gospel to every creature wherever they can be found. If I were to meet a sentient alien life form that could understand my speech, I would want to tell them about Jesus Christ. Hearing Christ’s teaching and the wisdom and power of God would improve the existence of any being who heard it.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News December 5, 2020.

What Is the Shape of Space?

What Is the Shape of Space?

A question that astronomers have been working on for years is, “What is the shape of space?” The latest technical tools have answered this question, and it has significant apologetic value for those of us who believe in God.

Let us try to understand the issue. There are three possible shapes to space. It can be elliptical, hyperbolic, or flat. A mathematician would express this in geometric terms using Euclid’s fifth postulate. You have probably forgotten the postulate, but it merely said that through a point, there could only be one line drawn parallel to a given line. The other choices would be that there could be no lines drawn parallel to a given line or that there could be any number of lines drawn parallel to a given line. The fifth postulate assumes that the universe is flat. This is true for all terrestrial purposes, so no one is throwing away the high school plane geometry textbooks.

So what is the shape of space? In an elliptical universe, all parallel lines would eventually meet. If you go far enough into outer space, you would eventually curve back to where you started. In other words, if you had perfect vision and a perfectly clear sky, you could see the back of your head by looking far enough out into space. Light would curve following the shape of space. We all know that a triangle has internal angles that add up to 180 degrees, but in an elliptical universe, the angles would add up to more than 180 degrees.

In a hyperbolic universe, space would be saddle-shaped. Light going out into space would curve because of the curvature of space. But the curve would never close. It would just keep on curving. The sum of the angles of a triangle would be less than 180 degrees, and parallel lines would never meet no matter how far they go. They just curve away from each other.

New instruments can measure cosmic microwave background radiation with such accuracy that scientists can determine the shape of space. That is because the microwaves follow the shape of space. What is the shape of space? It turns out that space is flat or planar. The implications of this discovery are enormous. Since the universe is expanding, the creation is clearly not oscillating. It will not collapse back on itself and start over again as it would in an elliptical universe. In a planar or flat universe, there are no repeats. Physical reincarnation can never happen.

This also tells us that space is a created thing and not eternal. The universe was created with shape and with laws that apply in a flat universe following Euclid’s fifth postulate. Our studies in quantum mechanics are beginning to give us some indication that dimensions outside of space-time are the source for space and time as well as matter-energy. Genesis 1:1 rings more true than we ever imagined. The closer we get to understanding the creation, the closer we get to understanding the methods of the Creator.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

(For a further explanation of this, see Astronomy magazine for January 2021 pages 56-58).

Examine Your Faith

Examine Your Faith

For the past three days, we have looked at the role of faith in our lives. We have seen that the biblical definition of faith is the “foundation” – that on which we build our lives. We have seen that faith has a role in science, religion, and the practical day-to-day living of our lives. I have shared my journey with you, leaving my family’s atheistic faith and growing a faith in God from the scientific evidence and the Bible. I hope that you will examine your faith. Look at your foundation and how it affects the building of your life. Here are some suggestions:

#1. DEAL WITH CREATION. You have two choices about how the creation came into existence. Either it has always existed, or it had a beginning. As an atheist, I believed that matter/energy was eternal. I thought that it might go through change, but there was no beginning. The Bible clearly stated there was a beginning to space, time, and matter/energy.

As I learned about the laws of thermodynamics, it became increasingly apparent that matter/energy could not be eternal. Now quantum mechanics and relativity have added new evidence that there was a beginning. If there was a beginning, it had to be caused. We can say that we don’t know enough to understand the cause. However, the deeper we go onto the quantum world, the more obvious it is that the creation started from a cause outside of space and time. God is a causer outside of space and time, which He created. The fact that there are purpose and design in the cosmos eliminates chance as a causer. We have a large volume of material on this subject and can make it available to you without cost.

#2. DEAL WITH WHERE YOUR FOUNDATION (YOUR FAITH) TAKES YOU. Where did my father’s faith in education take him? Did it make him happy, secure, and fulfilled? Examine your faith. Does it give you a reason to live, a purpose in existing? Does your faith allow you to deal with the problems that life brings to us all?

All of us know people who have tried to base their lives on the alternatives to faith in God. Does making a lot of money lead to a meaningful life? Does becoming a political leader bring joy, contentment, and peace? Do recreational drugs fulfill us as humans? I have had a lot of adversity in my life. My history includes having a multiply handicapped child, losing my wife to death, never having much money, and having physical problems and pain. I have struggled and wept and wondered why, but I have had a good life and have enjoyed my life. Do other foundations enable a person to deal with life’s problems?*

#3. LOOK TO THE FUTURE. Now I am at the end of my life, but that is only the end of my physical existence. My faith allows me to be confident that something better lies ahead. I have hope and peace with the fact that I will die. I see that I have had a purpose in living and my feeble existence turned out to leave the world a better place than I found it. That is because I have been able to share my faith with others and enable them to find joy in living.

Jesus makes a promise to those who choose to build their lives on faith in God. “Come unto me all of you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and LEARN of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Don’t listen to religion or philosophy or the pleasure peddlers of our world who will give you an unproven faith that doesn’t work. Examine your faith and build it by learning and growing in your understanding of God.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

*To see John’s discussion of why God allows pain and suffering, go to DoesGodExist.TV and watch program 11 in the video series.

Architect-Engineer, Magician, or Chance

Architect/Engineer, Magician, or Chance

One of the things that John Clayton often emphasizes is that God is an architect-engineer. Some people see God as a magician. As John likes to say, they see God “zapping” things into existence. So which is correct— architect-engineer, magician, or chance?

If we think of God as a magician, we are rejecting science. We are like the ancients who saw magic in lightning, volcanoes, wind, fire, and everything else. They saw magic in the created things, and they worshipped the creation. So they had a god of the volcano, a god of the river, a god of the harvest, and on and on.

Science today has told us what causes volcanoes and hurricanes, so we no longer see them as gods. Science tells us how stars begin and how they die. It tells us how the elements are formed within stars. Science also tells us how our solar system developed. Plate tectonics reveals the processes that gave us today’s continents, and scientists are studying the formation of our atmosphere. We see how millions of things came together to provide us with a habitable planet. Were all of those merely fortunate accidents, or were they intelligently designed? Remember, the alternatives are architect/engineer, magician, or chance.

The greatest mystery of all is how non-living elements became life. How did those elements come together to form amino acids, proteins, RNA, DNA, and living cells? We are still far from understanding that, but it is evident that the chance of it happening without a guiding intelligence is vanishingly small.

However, once that life threshold has been crossed, the accepted faith in the science community is that evolution took over from there. The accepted science dogma today is the worship of evolution. That dogma says naturalistic evolution is the god that developed all forms of life, including ourselves. For a scientist to deny that dogma is to commit heresy. Any scientist who wants to keep his or her job, credentials, prestige, or credibility must adhere to the dogma and worship the god Evolution. It all happened by natural selection acting on random mutations, and you better believe it, or at least pretend you do.

But, is chance a viable explanation? Does our everyday experience of designed things, from shovels and lawnmowers to cars and computers, tells us anything? It should say to us that those things don’t design themselves. It should be evident that intelligence, not mere chance, was involved in all of them.

Again, the alternatives are architect-engineer, magician, or chance. If we rule out chance, that leaves us with two options. If God is a magician who “zapped” everything into existence and made it look old, the study of science becomes futile. Why would God try to fool us into thinking we can study the ancient creation processes when there is no such thing?

If God is an architect-engineer, we can study the creation and see how He worked to design and engineer the universe, our solar system, our planet, and even life. We don’t see those creations as gods. Instead, we see the God who created them, and we worship Him. The bottom line is that we see evidence of God in the things He has made (Romans 1:20).

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Could There Be Life on Other Planets

Could there be life on other planets?

A subject that keeps drawing attention is the question of whether we are alone in the universe or could there be life on other planets. Many people seem to feel that this is a religious issue. They assume if science discovers life on another planet, it will discredit the Bible in some way. This has led some religious writers to try to prove that life exists nowhere but on the Earth.

Discover magazine devotes much of the December issue to the question, “Could there be life on other planets?” The cover picture shows the parabolic reflector of a large radio telescope with the heading “Are We Alone?

It is essential to understand that this is NOT a religious issue, and the search for life in space has no biblical implications. The Genesis account describes Earth’s history and gives no discussion of any other planets in the cosmos. A careful scientific study of the requirements for life to emerge from non-life shows complexity beyond the reach of any chance process. If there is life elsewhere, God created it.

Why would God do that? Why do all of the other stars and their planets and galaxies exist? God has not limited humans to where we can travel. It may be that in the distant future, humans will live somewhere else in space. It may be that natural resources on Earth will eventually run out, and we will need to secure those resources in space. The biblical message is intended for this planet (Mark 16:15), but the language does not exclude a relationship between God and any creature. For example, Hebrews 4:13 says, “There is not a creature that exists that is hidden from him.”

This discussion reminds me of a radio debate I had in Washington, D.C., with Larry King as the moderator. My opponent was a leader of the atheist group in Washington, and people could call in questions for the two of us to answer. A caller asked, “What would you do if a spaceship landed on the White House lawn, an alien got out with a Bible in his hand and said ‘Has Jesus been here yet?’” My atheist friend said, “Punt.” In reality, that proposal would raise many other questions, but the point is that life in space is not a biblical issue.

The Discover article runs through many familiar suggestions. One popular proposal says that we don’t see alien-inhabited planets because they have built a sphere around their solar system, trapping all energy and making it impossible to see them. Called a Dyson sphere, it demands a level of sophistication that is hard to imagine. Another popular suggestion is that aliens camouflage their space ships to look like asteroids. We saw that idea suggested recently when an asteroid called Oumuamua came through our solar system from outer space.

Aliens capable of building such technological wonders would not need to camouflage since they would have better ways to protect themselves. There are some newer and wilder proposals, but the question, “Could there be life on other planets?” is not a biblical issue. If life is out there, it is so far away that it is unlikely to be a threat to our planet in the near future.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Primary Message of Genesis 1

Primary Message of Genesis 1

The Genesis account continues to cause faith problems for many people. Christians often attack other Christians who differ from their understanding. We see labels like “Young Earth Creationists” (YEC), “Old Earth Creationist” (OEC), “Theistic Evolutionists,” “Progressive Evolutionists,” and others. Our plea is for all sides to look at the primary message of Genesis 1:1 and the literal meaning of the key words in the Genesis account.

The primary message of Genesis 1 is that God created everything and that He created humans in His own image. A careful study of the Hebrew words and their context in the first verse removes most of the room for argument. Genesis 1:1 says, “Reshith Elohim bara shamayim Erets.” Each of these words is loaded with meaning to simplify the understanding of Genesis:

RESHITH The word is used to describe a beginning, Matter is not eternal, and there was a beginning to space, time, and matter/energy.

ELOHIM There are many Hebrew words to refer to God, such as Yahweh, Adonai, and El, but those refer to specific activities of God in human affairs. Elohim is used to refer to the power and creative strength of God.

BARA This word is uniquely applied to something only God can do. There are other words, such as “asah,” that describe making something from existing materials. The term “bara” is expressly understood to refer to God’s creation of something new. It is not used again until verse 27, where the reference is to man’s soul, which God created in His image.

SHAMAYIM This is a clear reference to everything “up there.” From our standpoint on Earth, that is galactic space and everything in it – not just the air we breathe.

ERETS This refers to planet Earth and not any other celestial body.

It is essential to understand the primary message of Genesis 1:1. We must also realize what Genesis 1:1 does not say. Genesis 1:1 doesn’t say what method God used to create heaven and earth. Denominational preachers are fond of saying, “He spoke it into existence.” The Bible doesn’t say anything like that until verse 3. God’s voice is not the creative device.

Genesis 1:1 contains no reference to time. The words do not tell us how long it took God to do what the verse describes. God created as a being outside of space and time. To make a dogmatic statement about when this happened or how long it took is to add a human opinion and complicate the verse. People usually do that to defend a denominational creed, but that is not the primary message of Genesis 1:1. As human understanding of quantum mechanics has grown, we are beginning to glimpse how creation from a higher dimension is possible.

So the primary message of Genesis 1:1 is that God created everything that exists. One more thing that the first chapter of Genesis does not say is that Earth is the only place where God created life. God may have created life elsewhere, but we know that God is the creator of all we see and that our own existence is a special and unique creation of Elohim. Adding to what the Bible says brings confusion and division.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

The Cords of Orion – What Are They?

Orion Nebula
Orion Nebula – NASA
cords of Orion

In the book of Job, God asks the character Job, “Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons?” What are the cords of Orion?

Since ancient times, people imagined that the asterism in the Orion constellation resembles a hunter holding a sword. The sword appears to consist of three stars. However, if you look closely, you can see that the central star is a little “fuzzy.” With a telescope, you can see that it’s not a star, but a nebula.

The picture of the Orion Nebula was taken by NASA’s Hubble space telescope. Nebulae are star factories, where clouds of dust and gas are collapsing to form stars. At “only” 1344 light-years from Earth, Orion is our closest star factory. Astronomers have observed about 700 stars in various stages of formation in the Orion Nebula.

There are many more nebulae where stars are being made today, as they have been since the universe began. These star factories are responsible for creating the billions of stars in our Milky Way galaxy and beyond. They show that God is not a magician who pulls a universe out of his sleeve. God is an engineer who has designed an amazing system that makes possible everything we can see, and much more that we can’t see.

As we look at the cords of Orion, here is something to consider. God, who is outside of time, created a star factory in time, which then generated a star we call the Sun. Then He provided a home for us on the third planet from that star where we can look up and see star factories, like the Orion Nebula, at work.

— Roland Earnst © 2020