Evolution Is Not Creation

Evolution Is Not Creation

An error shared by some creationists and some evolutionists is confusing evolution with creation. One problem is that the terms “creation” and “evolution” do not mean the same thing to different people. Regardless of how we use the terms, evolution is not creation. Evolution and creation are two completely different subjects that are only very remotely related.

We see the concept of creation in the very first verse of Genesis 1. “Reshith Elohim bara shamayim erets” is the Hebrew of this verse. Each of these words has great significance:

Reshith tells us that there was a beginning to time, space, and matter-energy. Our studies in quantum physics continue to support that statement.

Elohim is a plural word for God and conveys the power and nature of the agent that produced the beginning.

Barais a word used only in reference to God and implies a process beyond human capacity to reproduce.

Shamayim refers to “heaved up things,” meaning the expanding universe.

Erets refers to our functional planet. It is used 648 times in the Old Testament.

A person might deny God as the causal agent of time, space, and matter-energy. Nevertheless, the creation’s characteristics strongly suggest intelligence and wisdom. However, this entire subject has very little to do with evolution. “Evolution” means “unfolding change.” The evolutionist starts with the assumption that not only time, space, and matter-energy existed, but that they existed in a form that allowed change to take place.

Many evolutionary scientists bring into their thinking the question of God’s role in shaping what He had already created. The other option is naturalistic evolution which attributes all we see in the natural world to chance. But, regardless of how you define the terms, realize that evolution is not creation.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

For some interesting points on this topic from the perspective of a scientist who is a Christian, we suggest “How might God have Guided Evolution? Scientific and Theological Viewpoints” by Dr. Peter Bussey. It was published in the June 2021 issue of the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation. Dr. Bussey is Emeritus Reader in Physics with the University of Glasgow in Scotland and works with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and its Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator.

The Big Bang and Creation

The Big Bang and Creation

We receive many interesting questions from our readers, and recently we received this one about the big bang and creation:

“Dr. John Mather, head of the new telescope project, explains that the ‘Big Bang’ is not correctly understood as the universe having one exact beginning point. Rather that its beginning was everywhere at once as evidenced by galaxies all moving away from each other, and residual heat of the “big bang” being somewhat uniform everywhere we look.”

We could blame this misunderstanding on Dr. Fred Hoyle, who coined the term “big bang,” but as teachers of physics and astronomy, we are probably guilty of contributing to it. When we hear the term “big bang,” we think of an explosion. An explosion assumes some material existed, and it blew up like a bomb. That is a mistaken perspective. The big bang didn’t start with a singularity that already existed. The modern understanding of the big bang is that space and time came into existence in a form we call “spacetime.”

We struggle with the concept of the big bang and creation because
we cannot envision a condition where neither space nor time existed. We live in a three-dimensional universe and are familiar with X, Y, and Z on a cartesian graph. We know that we can plot any of these dimensions against time. If we move along the ground in direction X at a certain speed, we can plot the distance moved against the elapsed time. When a rocket goes straight up, you can plot Y against time. There is a third direction at right angles to both X and Y that we call Z, and we can plot it against time. But what is time? It’s a fourth-dimensional quantity that you can’t define. You can say it is “what keeps everything from happening at once,” but that is not a definition but a consequence of time.

The big bang concept agrees with Genesis 1:1 that space and time began, but not as an explosion. If space was created, then everything embedded in space was also created. Only action from dimensions beyond our own (X, Y, Z, and time) could do that. So as we consider the big bang and creation, we must ask what could be the source of creation that existed outside of space and time?

You can argue that it wasn’t God, but that doesn’t hold much water. We must account for the design we see in the cosmos, and chance doesn’t even try to do it. The big bang is an excellent proof of creation by God. The Bible describes God as an intelligence outside of space and time who created space and time. We don’t need to understand everything about creation to have faith in God. However, science strongly reinforces the adage that “the more you know of the creation, the closer you get to God.” As science advances in its understanding of the design of the cosmos, the existence of God becomes more and more evident.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

The What and Why of JWST

The What and Why of JWST
James Webb Space Telescope with its gold-plated mirrors

If all goes as planned, Christmas Eve will see the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or WEBB). It has been a long time in the making with many delays and cost overruns, but it seems that the time has finally arrived. The JWST was supposed to launch in 2007 at the cost of $1 billion. Now it is launching at the end of 2021, and the price has escalated to $10 billion. Let’s examine the what and why of JWST.

First, the what of JWST. The James Webb Space Telescope is a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST or Hubble). It is intended to be a space observatory with capabilities far beyond HST, which was launched in 1990. NASA designed the JWST, and Northrop Grumman built it in California. The European Space Agency will launch it from their launch site in French Guiana, South America.

The why of JWST is that scientists expect it to revolutionize astronomy and expand our knowledge of the universe. Science and technology have made great strides since Hubble was launched and even since astronauts repaired and updated it, most recently in 2009. JWST will observe the universe in infrared light, while HST is limited to visible light. Because galaxies farther away are retreating at increasing speeds, their light shifts toward the red or infrared spectrum. Scientists hope that JWST can observe farther back toward the cosmic creation event known as the big bang. Because of that, astronomers expect to learn more about the formation of stars and galaxies.

Earth-based telescopes must always observe the universe through our atmosphere with particles, pollution, and moisture. That limits their ability to obtain sharp, precise images. Space-based telescopes, like Hubble, eliminate that problem. Webb will give much sharper images with its mirror made of beryllium coated with gold and a diameter more than 2.5 times as wide as Hubble’s.

JWST will locate itself at the Lagrange point where the gravity of Earth and Sun balance each other. That is 930,000 miles (1.5 million km) from Earth. Repairs or upgrades such as those performed on Hubble will not be possible at that distance. That means everything will have to perform flawlessly when the telescope reaches its destination. Deploying the mirror, sun-shield, super-cooling equipment, and telemetry equipment will take a month, which NASA has called “29 days on the edge.”

Another thing that astronomers hope to study with JWST is dark matter, the stuff that’s out there but cannot be seen or detected by any means science has discovered. The way they know dark matter must be there is that it holds the galaxies together. Physics cannot explain why spinning, spiral galaxies, such as the Milky Way, do not fly apart because of centrifugal force. Astronomers hope that JWST’s high-definition images can at least show us where the dark matter is by what they call “gravitational lensing.”

So that is the what and why of JWST. We are excited to see the new images of the universe the James Webb Space Telescope will capture. As we learn about the formation of stars and galaxies, it opens the door to knowledge of God’s handiwork, allowing us to say, “So that’s how God did it!

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Reference: You can find much more about the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA’s fact sheet at THIS LINK.

Exoplanets and Life in the Universe

Exoplanets and Life in the Universe
Artist’s Conception of Alien Planets

“Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” and other movies and television shows featuring space travel and alien life have fascinated people for decades. Yesterday, we examined how intergalactic travel would not be anything like what the movies depict. Other galaxies are many light-years away, and the laws of physics will not allow us to travel even one percent of light speed. Nevertheless, people are still concerned about exoplanets and life in the universe.

Regardless of whether we can go to other galaxies far, far away, or even solar systems within our own galaxy, astronomers are searching for “exoplanets.” An exoplanet is any planet outside of our solar system, and scientists are trying to find one that could support life. (We have dealt before with the question of why the universe is so large.)

Scientists look for planets orbiting stars that are so far away we can’t even see the stars with our unaided eyes. How is it possible to find planets that we can’t see, even with our best telescopes? They use at least three methods. When a planet transits in front of a star, it blocks a small amount of the star’s light. Very sensitive instruments detect that change. A star may wobble slightly because of orbiting planets, causing a detectable color shift due to the Doppler effect. Finally, astronomers sometimes use gravitational lensing to detect an orbiting planet if it causes bending of the light from a distant star.

Those are some methods astronomers use, hoping to find exoplanets and life elsewhere in the universe. However, unlike in the movies, the stars and their planets are so far away that we could never go there. Even sending a radio signal to those possible planets would take thousands or even millions of years, traveling at the speed of light. Getting a message back would take an equal amount of time.

There are so many requirements for life that the chances of any of those planets supporting advanced life would be almost infinitely small. If there is some form of life on any of them, how will we ever know? God could have created life elsewhere in the universe, but we have no evidence one way or the other. The Bible doesn’t tell us, and science can only look and hope for a clue. Whether or not life exists on other planets or moons, we believe the fine-tuning of Earth for life is evidence for God’s existence.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Space-Travel Adventure Movies

Space-Travel Adventure Movies

Space-travel adventure movies and novels may be fascinating, but they are not very realistic. Traveling through space poses many hazards to humans beyond equipment failures. There is also the danger of radiation exposure when a person leaves Earth’s protective atmosphere and magnetic field. And perhaps the most significant of all is the issue of time.

Travel to the Moon will take days. Traveling to Mars will take months. A space-travel adventure to any planet outside of our solar system would take multiple lifetimes. Astronomers have toyed with the idea of traveling to a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, which is the closest star to us. That planet, Proxima Centauri b, is 42 light-years from Earth. Unless someone could find a way to travel through a wormhole, if such a thing exists, it would take 6,300 years to make the journey with present technology.

We are considering the present technology to be the speed of the Parker Solar Probe launched in 2018, which is 430,000 miles (690,000 km) per hour, or about .064 percent of light speed. According to Astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross, the laws of physics would limit the top speed of a spaceship to about one percent of light speed, but we are far from achieving that. Also, a factor to consider would be a way to slow down on approaching the destination to avoid going right past it or crashing into it.

So, if we sent out a space-travel adventure crew to Proxima Centauri b, it would take many generations to arrive. That means people would have to reproduce many times on the way. Factors to be considered would have to include having enough crew members and genetic diversity to have a healthy crew on arrival at the destination. Using computer modeling, scientists have determined that the minimum team required would be 49 males and 49 females. Ninety-eight crew members would need a large ship. In addition, there would have to be facilities for recreation and to grow food.

The vast majority of the travelers on this spacecraft would never see Earth or the destination planet. Exposure of many generations to the radiation of outer space could cause physical or mental deformities that we can’t imagine. What if this small community just couldn’t get along together in cramped quarters? Avoiding a mutiny or rebellion would be a significant challenge. Keeping hundreds of generations focused on the same mission would be impossible. Putting the crew into a cryogenic state for thousands of years to avoid the multi-generation problem does not seem to be realistic. (Remember the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey?”) 

Producing food and recycling water would be essential for such a space-travel adventure. However, taking and preserving all equipment and materials needed for the crew to survive in a hostile environment on arrival at the alien planet would be impossible to plan or predict.

We may enjoy science fiction such as “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” or “Lost in Space,” but none of them are even remotely realistic. God has given us a beautiful planet with everything we need to survive and thrive. What we must do is take care of it. That means using resources wisely, protecting the environment, and protecting the animals that share the planet with us. Stewardship of God’s gifts was a command from the beginning. (See Genesis 2:15.)

— Roland Earnst © 2021

References: TechnogyReview.com, Space.com, and Why the Universe is the Way it Is by Hugh Ross.

So That’s How God Did It!

Fluorine - So That’s How God Did It!

Many years ago, I heard a research scientist who was also a Christian explain his philosophical approach to research by saying, “So that’s how God did it!” For many of us working in scientific fields, that is what science is about. When researchers announce a new discovery, we view it as knowledge that helps us understand what God has done in creating the cosmos and humans.

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. have just announced a solution to one of the chemical mysteries that has baffled astronomers for a very long time. Our bodies contain some common elements that were created in star explosions which scientists have observed. The origin of some trace elements in the human body, such as fluorine, was not easy to determine. Most of us know that fluorine is a critical component of bones and teeth. Toothpaste contains fluorine in the form of fluoride.

Rare stars known as Wolf-Rayets are very massive, and they survive for a relatively short time before exploding. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) of 66 radio telescopes in Chile, researchers detected gas clouds with large amounts of hydrogen fluoride in Wolf-Rayet stars. Scientists could not confirm fluorine production in local stars, but they solved the mystery by finding fluorine in a galaxy 12 billion light-years away. The director of the study commented to CNN that Wolf-Rayets have allowed humans to maintain good dental health.

The simple statement “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) involves a process that science strives to understand. As we gain more knowledge of what is involved in that process, we see that “the heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows the work of His hands” (Psalms 19:1).

Theologians may simply say that God “spoke the creation into existence,” but scientists want to know how. Scientists who are Christians rejoice in a new understanding of God’s handiwork. As we come to understand how God has done wonderful things, we say, “So that’s how God did it!” Then we thank Him for designing a creation in which we can survive.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

References: Reported on CNN.com and The Week, November 26, 2021, page 22 – Research article on Nature.com

Hebrew Word Yom

Hebrew Word Yom

Ancient Hebrew used far fewer words than modern English. That can cause misunderstandings when translated into English. For example, a term that has confused many people is the Hebrew word yom, commonly translated “day.”

The Genesis creation account uses the word in multiple ways. It is present in Genesis 1:1-13 in connection with “evening and morning.” Genesis 2:4 uses yom to refer to the entire creation “week.” In Deuteronomy 10:10, we find yom used twice with two meanings, a longer period of time (40 days) and the daylight hours. “And I stayed in the mount just like the first time (yom) 40 days (yom) and 40 nights …” We also see yom used to refer to long time periods such as in Hosea 6:2.

In the New Testament. Peter reminds us that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years one day (2 Peter 3:8).” In Acts 1:7, Jesus says, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own power.” The context of that passage refers to restoring the kingdom, but the message carried throughout the scriptures is that God is in control of time.

Both creationists and atheists have often used the Hebrew word yom to make Earth’s age an issue, limiting what God can do or has done. God created time and is not limited by it. The “days” of Genesis may be 24 hours or some other time period. The creation verse in Genesis is verse one, “God created the heaven and the earth,” and it is undated and untimed.

Religious groups have done an injustice to the Genesis account by not recognizing the economy of language in scripture. Atheists have used that to destroy many people’s faith by showing evidence that the universe’s age is not measured in thousands of years. The message of Genesis is that God created everything, not when or how He did it. Taking the Bible literally is not taking a human theology and forcing it on the scriptures.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

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