Animal Tool Use and What It Means

Animal Tool Use and What It Means
Elephant using a tree trunk as a pillow for sleeping

An interesting fact about animals is their ability to use tools. Years ago, people thought that only humans used tools, but recent studies have shown animal tool use. However, the word “tool” means different things to different people. 

Webster defines a tool as “an instrument used to accomplish a given task.” By that definition, we can find examples of animal tool use. We have reported on some of them before. For example, HERE and HERE.

Science News reported that polar bears sometimes kill walrus by bashing them with chunks of stone or ice. People have observed birds cracking nuts by dropping them from high altitudes onto rocks. Elephants use tree trunks for a variety of purposes, and crows use sticks to pry off the lids of bottles. Chimpanzees use conchoidally fractured chert or flint to cut open a fruit. Those of us who have bird feeders have seen squirrels use a tree branch to access a feeder. Recently, researchers in Israel taught fish how to drive a “car.”

There is a difference between a tool and a machine. According to the dictionary, a machine is “an assembly of interconnected components arranged to transmit or modify force in order to perform useful work.” A broader question here is whether intelligence is needed to fashion a machine? If that is the case, intelligent animals should be making machines, and mentally challenged humans would not be able to do so. 

This discussion of animal tool use gets into difficulties because the anatomical parts of all animals are simple machines. Limbs are levers, and teeth are wedges. The design of all animals includes the equipment to secure food and shelter. Building into animals the ability to use objects in their environment to survive is another example of God’s design in the natural world. 

Studies indicate incredible wisdom and planning in the creation of animal life. However, what sets humans apart from all other animals is not tools, machines, or intelligence. Instead, our spiritual nature is what makes humans different.

The ability of humans to create art, express ourselves in music, conceive of self, worship, and be taught to think set humans apart. To have an agape type of love that is not sexual and does not promote survival makes us human. The mentally challenged among us possess these abilities because all of us are created in the image of God. Animal tool use is far removed from possessing God’s image.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Science News, July 29, 2021.

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.

A Larger Dinosaur Has Been Found

A Larger Dinosaur

We are amazed by the enormous size of animals in the distant past. From a giant millipede to the Titanoboa and the Titanosaur, the size of ancient animals excites fossil hunters. Since 2017, Patagotitan has held the record for the largest dinosaur at 120 feet (36.5 m) long and weighing over 57 tons. However, paleontologists in Argentina recently found pieces of a larger dinosaur.

The size of this animal has several implications. First, we need to be reminded that, unlike mammals, reptiles never stop growing, so there is virtually no limit to their size. A more significant issue is having environments warm enough for such animals to live and enough plant material to sustain them, plus a high oxygen level.

The environment that allowed a larger dinosaur to survive would not have been hospitable to mammals. Reptiles can not only survive very hot conditions, but they require heat to sustain their bulk. A hot Earth with very wet conditions would also promote rapid plant growth. Accordingly, the plant fossils from the time of those animals indicate huge size and rapid growth.

The Bible makes clear that everything humans would need to live on Earth was produced before humans were created. Therefore, we have maintained that God was not a magician miraculously zapping things into existence. God could do the creation any way He wished, but He wisely chose to make the resources humans would need in such a way that we could find them.

God acted as an engineer, producing the coal, gas, oil, iron, salt, and other resources we would need by processes we can study and understand. The volume of fossil fuels stored up for our use is a staggering number. Present-day processes on Earth could never produce them, but the enormous animals and plants of the past created enough resources to take us into the nuclear/solar age.

The Bible tells us that God created planet Earth, not how or how long He took to do it.
Genesis 1:1 is not dated or timed. However, as we look at the record of the past, we see God’s wisdom and power and the magnitude of the creative process that allows us to exist.

Rather than trying to fit a larger dinosaur into Noah’s Ark, we need to take Genesis for what it says and not add denominational traditions. We must not use the economy of language in Genesis to justify our human religious theories.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Have Scientists Found the Biggest Dinosaur?” Discover magazine, January/February 2022, page 53.

Edward O Wilson Was an Authority on Ants

Edward O. Wilson Was an Authority on Ants

You may recognize the name Edward O. Wilson whom evolutionists associate with sociobiology. However, the Harvard biologist who passed away in December at the age of 92 was actually more famous for his detailed study of ants. There are currently over 15,000 known species of ants, with probably thousands more, and Edward O Wilson was an authority on ants.

Wilson’s studies included ants that can walk under water to find dead insects or glide from one tree to another or join together to make a raft to carry their queen and eggs to safety away from a flooded nest. Wilson pointed out the complex social organization of an ant colony. He wrote that “Karl Marx was right, socialism works, it is just that he had the wrong species.”

Wilson summarized his work by saying, “Our sense of wonder grows exponentially: the greater the knowledge, the deeper the mystery and the more we seek knowledge to create new mystery.” Proverbs 6:6 gives a similar message: “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.” We have considered the ways of ants many times on this website and in our printed journal. You can find links to some of those articles below.

Edward O Wilson was an authority on ants, and although we disagree with his agnosticism and materialistic Darwinism, we applaud him for giving us information about the world of ants. His work reinforces the message of Romans 1:20 that “we can know there is a God through the things He has made.”

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Columnist Rich Lowry in the Herald Bulletin for December 23, 2021.

Here are links to some of our previous articles on ants:

Ants and survival rafts.

Ants with prism cooling.

Armor for leafcutter ants.

Ants and tool use.

Ants as farmers.

Ant leaf-cutting tool.

Ant doorways.

Ants in the Sahara Desert.

Ants working together.

Billie Eilish and Pornography

Billie Eilish and Pornography
Billie Eilish

Every time we mention the damaging effects of pornography, we get a few nasty emails suggesting that we are just control freaks who want to deny a harmless activity. The Bible makes it clear that God would have us “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). A recent news report about Billie Eilish and pornography shows it is not harmless.

Young people today have easy access to porn because it is readily available online. Billie Eilish, a Grammy-winning singer, stated that the porn she began watching online at age eleven “really warped her mind” about healthy sex and relationships. Porn composes a third of all internet downloads in the United States and is a pandemic among young people.

In The Daily Telegraph, Judith Woods wrote that online porn is “suffused with hatred for women.” She goes on to say that the sex depicted on porn sites is “terrifying, dominant, and violent… There is choking and spitting and angry misogyny… Women are degraded, used” and “discarded.”

Anyone who thinks this activity is not damaging to young minds is simply ignorant about how young people learn. Furthermore, the whole purpose of sex is lost in a culture that denigrates marriage and uses sex as a weapon or a recreational activity.

Sex in marriage creates a sacred, unique, and pure relationship between a man and a woman. Therefore, Christians must teach children what sex is about at an early age before the world exposes them to pornography. In the case of Billie Eilish and pornography, that was age eleven.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Week, December 31, 2021/January 7, 2022 page 19.

The Biblical Message of Newness

The Biblical Message of Newness

As we start a new year, let’s consider the biblical message of newness. Human religions call people to focus on maintaining the traditions and practices of the past. Some Christian denominations have done the same, but the Bible calls for newness.

Kainos,” the Greek word for “new,” is used extensively in the New Testament. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says this about “kainos”:

…denotes new, of that which is unaccustomed or unused, not new in time, recent, but new in form or quality, of different nature from what is contrasted as old … new covenant, new commandment … new character … new name … new life of the quickened spirit of the believer … impossible to dissociate this from the operation of the Holy Spirit by whose power the service is rendered.”

The biblical message of newness carries throughout the New Testament. In Luke 5:36, Jesus says, “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have a torn garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.” Likewise, you can’t take old lifestyles and patch them into being a Christian. Colossians 3:10 tells us to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator.” Hebrews 10:19-20 talks about a “new and living way” opened to us by the blood of Christ. Galatians 6:15 calls Christians “a new creation.”

Ephesians 4:22-24 talks about “being made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, we read, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come. All of this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
The biblical message of newness continues to the end of the New Testament.
Revelation 21:1-4 describes a new heaven and new earth where God says, “I am making everything new.”

We don’t change by our own power, and New Year’s Resolutions don’t work because they depend on us. However, becoming a Christian and opening yourself to God does work. God isn’t going to force people to accept Jesus Christ, but for those who do, He offers newness. If you haven’t opened yourself to being made “kainos,” isn’t it time to do so?

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Is There Any Hope for America?

Is There Any Hope for America?

It is difficult to be optimistic about the future of America. The danger to this country is not coming from a superior military, and aliens from some other planet do not threaten us. A shortage of natural resources or the threat of natural disasters cannot destroy us. The danger to America is from within. The amazing thing is that it is fed by the ignorance of our people, including our leaders. Is there any hope for America?

In the Old Testament, we read of the rise and fall of the nation of Israel. Hebrew has different words that we translate as “nation.” One is “goi,” used to describe the corporate body. God promised to make Israel a great nation (goi) in Genesis 12:2 and 17:4. That promise was repeated throughout the history of Israel.

The other Hebrew words are “leom” and “ummah,” both translated “nation” in most English versions. It refers to the people, not the political system under which they lived. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “nations” is “ethnos,” from which we get our word “ethnic.” Jesus used it in Matthew 24:1-13. His disciples pointed to the temple’s greatness, and He told them of its destruction. He said that nation would rise against nation, natural disasters would happen, and people would hate His followers.

So is there any hope for America? Nothing will ever destroy the Christian nation or “ethnos,” but America is not a Christian nation. It is a corporate nation that is badly divided, has rejected God and the ethics that Jesus taught. The iniquity that Jesus described in Matthew 24:12 is before us all. We not only have a dysfunctional government, but the opponents of God have succeeded in eliminating God from discussions at the national and state level.

In our military, any discussion of Christianity is now forbidden. Marriage has been denigrated to the point that an all-time low percentage of our population engages in it. On the other hand, our culture now embraces any kind of “marriage” one wishes. Our government not only allows recreational drug use but, in some places, encourages it by providing places where people can “safely” use them. Abortion, euthanasia, prostitution, and pornography are freely allowed in many states.

So is there any hope for America, or will we go the same route as ancient Israel and Rome and all other cultures that have died due to their alienation from God? My response is that America CAN survive, but it will not come from the government or our religious or entertainment leaders. It will come from the ordinary folks who “have not bowed down to Baal and those whose mouths have not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18). If America survives, it will be because we refuse to embrace the teachings of political or religious leaders who don’t know or obey God.

As we start the new year of 2022, let us learn from history rather than repeating it. Join hands with us “little people” and do what God calls us to do and not be swayed by leaders who lie to promote their personal agendas.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Five Years with More to Come

Five Years with More to Come

With this article, we reach the milestone of five years with more to come on DoesGodExist.today. In our daily posts during that time, we have covered many topics. We have dealt with current events, moral issues, and design in the natural world. In addition, we have attempted to show evidence for design that demands a Designer.

You can find articles on a subject that interests you by using the “Search” box on this page. You can select all articles on a category topic using the “Categories” list. Our “Recent Posts” list allows you to go to any of the last dozen articles we published. Below that, you can go to the “Archives” to read articles we published in any month back to 2017. If you scroll to the bottom, you will find a form where you can choose to enter your email address to receive our weekly “Best Of” email. We send it out each Monday morning with links to our most popular postings from the previous week.

The “Best Of the Week from DOES GOD EXIST?” email includes not only
the three best articles from this website but also the three best from our daily Facebook postings. Our Facebook page concentrates on design evidence in plants and animals. We often feature animals or plants that many people have not even heard of. We also bring out little-known design facts about the very familiar living things we see every day. You can find our page on Facebook at facebook.com/evidence4god. We have been doing daily posts on Facebook for seven years, ever since 2015.

You can help us continue this ministry in two ways. First, pray that we may reach people worldwide with the message that God exists and He loves us and has sent His Son to redeem us. Secondly, please share our posts on this page and our Facebook posts with your friends and acquaintances. We look forward to great things in 2022.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

A Giant Millipede and What It Teaches Us

A Giant Millipede and What It Teaches Us
A Modern “Giant” Millipede

Can you imagine a giant millipede almost nine feet long? Most of us have seen inch-long millipedes under a rock or in a rotting log. Like centipedes, millipedes get their name from their many legs. “Mille” means thousand, and “ped” means foot, so a millipede could have a thousand feet.

Some 10,000 species of millipedes live today, and they are related to lobsters, shrimp, and crayfish. Australian researchers recently announced finding a three-inch-long millipede with 1,306 legs, which stirred up great interest among biologists. But that is nothing compared to a new fossil discovery.

Now researchers from the University of Cambridge have found the fossil of a true giant millipede in England. This specimen is 8.6 feet long and would have weighed about 110 pounds. Named Arthropleura, this is the largest invertebrate ever found, replacing giant sea scorpions that previously held the record. This animal lived before the dinosaurs and was an omnivore eating plants, nuts, seeds, and other invertebrates.

The importance of a find like this giant millipede is that it tells us that large animals, insects, and plants existed in the past. In addition, it reminds us that the ecology of the early Earth, as it was being prepared for later life forms, was very different from what we see today. At that time, England was a tropical area where massive quantities of resources like coal, limestone, and various minerals were being produced. Therefore, the plant and animal life in that ecology had to be large.

The Bible does not describe all of the processes because even today
, we have a hard time comprehending how that ancient world functioned. Genesis 1:1 simply tells us that God created the Earth, not how or when or what processes He used to prepare the planet for humans. But because God used a process, we can locate resources far underground. If He had simply “zapped” the planet into existence, we would have no clue about where to look for oil or coal or various minerals.

Proverbs 8 talks about the wisdom that allowed the production of all we see and use today. When we hear about a find like this giant millipede, it underlines how carefully God planned for our existence. Today, our challenge is to take care of the planet by preserving what God has given us rather than wasting it.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: USA Today by Jordan Mendoza 12/28/21.

Oxygen Generators and More

Oxygen Generators and More

They are microscopic plants. You may never see them individually, but they exist by the millions on or near the surface of oceans, lakes, and rivers, even in polar regions. Scientists call them phytoplankton which comes from two Greek words that mean “plant drifter.” We call them oxygen generators.

You can see masses of green phytoplankton on the water surface because of the green chlorophyll they contain. Chlorophyll enables them to use sunlight and nutrients from the water to produce the nourishment they need to live. In the process of photosynthesis, they are oxygen generators. Of course, humans and all animals must have the oxygen to breathe, and phytoplankton play an essential role in our climate by controlling the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

In the ocean, tiny animals called krill eat phytoplankton. In turn, the krill provide the diet for many fish and even for huge baleen whales. Those whales stir up the ocean, bringing to the surface minerals which the phytoplankton need. As whales eat and grow, they take in large amounts of carbon. When they die, their bodies containing the carbon sink to the bottom of the ocean. This well-engineered system helps prevent the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Phytoplankton are incredibly diverse, with thousands of different species. The microscopic photo shows members of one class of phytoplankton known as diatoms. The carcasses of phytoplankton, algae, and other marine plants deposited on the sea beds long ago became the petroleum we use today.

Diatoms produce silicon shells, and when they die, those shells form deep deposits on the ocean floor. People mine those microscopic shells and use them for what we call diatomite or diatomaceous earth used in industry for fine polishing and for filtering liquids. In addition, gardeners sprinkle diatomaceous earth around their plants to protect them from insect pests. Scientists are also exploring uses for those microscopic shells in nanotechnology.

So, in addition to being oxygen generators, these tiny plants produce energy sources for humans and food for creatures of the ocean and freshwater lakes. Without them, our climate would be much different, and life would be difficult, if not impossible. Chance evolution doesn’t seem to be an adequate explanation for diverse phytoplankton. We see them as another example of design by the Master Designer of life.

— Roland Earnst © 2021