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

New Testament Concept of Priesthood

New Testament Concept of Priesthood

In this day of racial issues, it is essential to understand that there should never be a conflict over race in authentic Christianity. That is because the New Testament concept of priesthood is very different from what many people understand.

In the Mosaic period, priests came from the tribe of Levi. They served as teachers, judges, medical experts, and mediators. To be a priest, you had to be a member of the Levitical tribe and of the family of Aaron ( Numbers 17-18, Deuteronomy 10:8 and 18:1-8, Leviticus 8 and 9.) This was a flawed system because not all Levites were good people.

Jesus Christ abolished that system. Hebrews 7:18-19 says, “For the law that went before is annulled because it was weak and ineffective, for the law perfected nothing, but there has come in its place a better hope enabling us to come close to God.” In Matthew 27:51, we read that at Christ’s crucifixion, the curtain separating common people from the “Holy of Holies” was torn open, making access to God available to all humans.

Galatians 3:26-28 clearly states, “You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Thus, the Bible calls Christians a “royal priesthood” or a “kingdom of priests.” (See 1 Peter 2:4-9, Revelation 1:5-6, and 5:9-10.) That is the New Testament concept of priesthood.

People have tried to continue the Mosaic concept of priests into the Christian era, but that is not what the New Testament teaches. In biblical Christianity, there is no room for placing any person above anyone else. That means there is no room for prejudice. All are equal, and all lives matter. People who justify racial discrimination do so based on human traditions and dogma, not on biblical teaching.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Marijuana Use and Suicide

Marijuana Use and Suicide

The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released studies on the correlation between marijuana use and suicide. The data drawn from 281,000 people between the ages of 18 and 31 shows a disturbing trend. About a third of severely depressed young people considered suicide between 2009 and 2019. That number rises to 50% among those who used cannabis daily.

The data from 2019 shows that 45 million Americans used cannabis, and 9.8 million were daily users. Dr. Nora Volkow, the National Institute on Drug Abuse director, says, “Consumption of marijuana increases your risk of suicidal behavior. The increase in suicides in the United States is related to more than one cause, but marijuana is obviously one of those.”

So, there is a connection between marijuana use and suicide. The Bible tells us that we are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16), and every life has a purpose. Knowing that provides a solid deterrent to suicide. As atheism and secularism increase in America and people discard biblical values, we can expect an increase in suicides. It is already happening.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from USA TODAY 7/6/21.

Entertainment Industry Influence

Entertainment Industry Influence

When I was a teenager, it was common to take your date to a movie. Of course, you knew that there would be a happy moral ending to the film, and it would not contain anything offensive or violent. How the entertainment industry has changed!

As children, we devoted much of our free time to such things as “Capture the Flag.” It was a neighborhood game where each side had a flag, and the other side tried to grab it. It was outside and mainly involved running. If you got “tagged” while trying to get the other side’s flag, you were a captive until one of your teammates could free you. There were rules that everyone obeyed, and no one got hurt. A twisted ankle would halt the game, and both sides would focus on the injured person.

Today children walk around with their faces in their smartphones, watching people getting ripped to shreds by dragons. There are “fake” wars where superheroes kill many people, and violence occupies most of the presentation. Adults watch movies with a great deal of killing, violence, adultery, nudity, and pain. “It is not real” is the answer given to those who question all of this. But, the bigger question is what message the entertainment industry is giving to those who immerse themselves in things the Bible refers to as sin.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:14-23, we see the inspired writer talking to Christians about life. “Now we exhort you brethren to admonish the disorderly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak and be patient with all. Take care that none of you ever pays back wrong for wrong but always follow the kindest course one toward another and toward all. … Bring everything to the test and cling to that which is good. Reject everything that has a look of evil about it, and may the God of peace consecrate you through and through. I pray to God that your whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless at the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It is time for Christians to stop supporting an entertainment system that makes killing, suffering, violence, and abuse “entertainment.” I know this is an uphill battle because the entertainment industry is so embedded in our culture. However, one has to hearken back to the words Jesus Christ spoke to those who aspire to be his disciples: “It is you who are the light of the world … Let your light so shine before men that they may see the beauty of your life and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16).

— John N. Clayton © 2021

What Marriage Is

What Marriage Is

Cecil May Jr. wrote an article in “Preacher Talk” published by Faulkner University, where he is Dean Emeritus. It deals with what marriage is and what is happening to it in our culture. We thought it was “right on target.” He graciously permitted us to share it with you here:

SECULAR HUMANISM AND THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION

Biblical religionists have lost a major battle to those who oppose any mention of Jesus as Lord, any reference to the Bible, any letting the Bible define conduct as sin, or to the practice of prayer anywhere except in religious services inside church buildings. A Christianity confined to church buildings is like salt that never gets out of the saltbox.

The opinion-makers in the USA-including the mainstream media-has sold the idea that opposing homosexual relations, which the Bible clearly labels sin, is a civil rights issue, equivalent to racial discrimination. The redefinition of marriage from God’s “one man for one woman for life” into two women or two men for each other came in the same package. So did no-fault divorce, unmarried couples living together, and “open marriages,” where other sexual partners are both expected and accepted.

Here is what the Bible says about marriage: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4). “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22).

Here is what the Bible says about sexual relations outside of marriage: “…but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality … will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Marriage is widely discounted as “just a piece of paper.” But it is much more than that. Aside from being a significant legal document, it signifies commitment. More than that, the lack of marriage loudly proclaims the absence of commitment. No commitment of either husband or wife to the other, “for better or worse” or “for as long as we both shall live.” No commitment of a father or mother to whatever children may be born to that non-committed union.

An aged married woman had a severe case of dementia. Her husband finally had to put her in a nursing home. He came to see her every day. He helped feed her, dress her and fix her hair. She often had to ask, “Who was that man?” Someone asked him, “Why do you come every day since she doesn’t even know who you are.?” He replied, “1 know who she is, and I know who I am. She is my wife.”

That is what marriage is, more than “just a piece of paper,” committed love!

© Cecil May Jr.

Lesson from a Butterfly

Lesson from a Butterfly

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

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

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

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

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

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

— John N. Clayton © 2021

LGBTQ Restroom Issues

LGBTQ Restroom Issues

If you have a transgender male who has decided that they are a female, what restroom do they use? Is a female who has decided they are a male safe in using a male restroom? Unfortunately, LGBTQ restroom issues are difficult to resolve.

On June 28, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the school board of Gloucester Count, Virginia. That let the decision of a lower federal court stand allowing transgender students the right to use the bathroom of their choice.

The case involves a student born as a girl but who began to identify as a male after completing the freshman year in high school and changing their name to Gavin. Parents of other students protested against Gavin using the boys’ restroom, so the school required the use of a unisex restroom. The American Civil Liberties Union represented Gavin in court. The lower court decided in favor of Gavin based on a federal law that prohibits schools from discriminating against students based on their sex.

As a public high school teacher, I find it hard to believe this whole situation. Policing Grimm’s situation when he is in the bathroom is virtually impossible, and the potential for harm to Gavin is great. Therefore, providing an essentially private restroom seems to be the safest and most logical solution to the situation.

The precedent created by this ruling is going to cause major LGBTQ restroom issues for schools and other public facilities. Accepting the biblical concept of male and female as creations of God would avoid these problems. However, being inflexible when operating outside of God’s creation produces massive problems like the Grimm case.

We suggest that instead of forcing one’s way into existing restrooms, the LGBTQ community needs to be willing to use unisex facilities to avoid potential harm. As Christians, we are concerned about their safety and well-being. We may disagree with their choices, but we want to do everything possible to avoid their abuse.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: USA Today, South Bend Tribune for 6/19/21, page 8A.

God’s Solution for Climate Change

God’s Solution for Climate Change -Forests

It is becoming more and more difficult for the naysayers to deny that we are facing climate change. Some areas are experiencing too much rain, while others are facing catastrophic drought. It is hard to miss the changes in ocean temperatures and how that is affecting ocean life. People have offered all kinds of solutions to stop or reverse what is going on in the world’s climate, but the solutions are expensive and unproven. Perhaps we need to turn to God’s solution for climate change.

Science News published an extensive series of reports under the title “Can Trees Save the World.” The subject matter is broken into three major topics: (1) The Promise and Pitfall of Trees (2) First, Protect Today’s Forests (3) The Forested Farms of the Future. The articles point out the many things trees do to provide climates in which humans can survive.

For example, trees capture and sequester carbon, break up the soil, and inject nutrients into all kinds of soils. Trees provide food for a wide variety of life forms, including humans. Those food sources include fruit, fungus, and plant materials. The report gives an encouraging message of how trees can change the climate situation that threatens humans today,

It is worth noting that according to the Genesis account, the first form of life God created was plants (Genesis 1:11). This was before He established the Sun and Moon as controllers of “signs and for seasons and for days and for years.” The sequence of plants in these verses is “deshe” (grasses), “eseb” (herbs – gymnosperms), and finally “ets peri zera” (tree yielding fruit whose seed is in itself).

Scientific evidence shows that plants were major factors in producing a climate that would allow humans to exist. It seems that correcting our climate problems should involve repeating what God used initially to prepare the planet for human life. We need to turn to God’s solution for climate change.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News for July 3/July 17, 2021, pages 19 -35.

Distrust of Science and Where It Comes From

Distrust of Science and Where It Comes From - COVID Vaccination

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

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

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

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

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

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

— John N. Clayton © 2021

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

The Futility of Atheism as a Source of Happiness

The Futility of Atheism as a Source of Happiness - Contentment in Faith

It is interesting to read the responses of various groups to what we post on this site. Atheist reactions to our discussions about the futility of atheism have been especially interesting. We have occasionally made the statement that one of the problems atheists face is that they see no purpose in their existence. On the other hand, atheists have responded that their pleasures in life serve as a purpose. 

Vladimir Putin recently made a statement published in Time magazine (July 5/July 12, 2021, page 6), “There is no happiness in life. There’s only a mirage on the horizon.” That is a quote from Leo Tolstoy, the Russian Nobel Prize winner in literature. Putin used it concerning the struggles between Russia and the United States. It is interesting that the Russian dictator living in the 21st century would draw on it. But, what did he mean by “happiness?”

Happiness and pleasure are two different things. For example, sexual pleasure is not happiness. A biblical example is the rape of Tamar by Amnon in 2 Samuel 13. After he raped Tamar, the passage tells us, “Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred for her was greater than the love by which he had loved her.” Thus, sexual pleasure is not happiness, and neither does having massive amounts of money bring happiness. Unfortunately, the life stories of some of the richest men in the history of America are largely tragic and often ending in suicide. 

How does an atheist deal with tragedies and illnesses in life? If the things you think will bring happiness are put out of reach by something you cannot control, what do you do? That is when the futility of atheism becomes apparent. 

On the other hand, Christians find happiness in fulfillment. Contentment is another word that that describes the fulfilled Christian who sees a purpose in life and hope for the future. Feeling God’s Spirit working in you as promised in Acts 2:38 will bring contentment. That is something that atheists cannot fully understand because their belief system does not allow it. 

— John N. Clayton © 2021