October is the month for two meteor showers—Draconid and Orionid. They get their names from the constellations closest to the places in the night sky where they seem to originate. The truth is that they have no connection to those constellations. Instead, these October meteor showers come from comets.
Meteor showers result from Earth passing through dust trails left by comets. The Draconids peaked this year on the night between October 8 and 9. They originate from debris left by comet 21P/Giaconini-Zinner that makes a revolution around the Sun every 6.6 years. Every October, when Earth passes through the dirty dust trail, the bits of debris burn up from friction as they enter the atmosphere at extremely high speed, and we see them as “shooting stars.”
The Orionid meteors are the result of Halley’s Comet. That comet makes a complete orbit around the Sun every 76 years, but Earth passes through the left-over debris twice a year in May and October. This year’s Orionid shower will peak on the night between October 20 and 21. However, a few of them may be visible even tonight as the October meteor showers almost overlap.
Unlike asteroids, which can be very large and cause severe damage, comet dust is beautiful but harmless. The Chixculub asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was 6.2 miles (10 km) in diameter. The impact was like a 100 million megaton bomb blast, and it wiped out three-fourths of all plant and animal life on Earth.
What if a whole comet struck planet Earth? The result would be catastrophic. We can find comfort in the fact that our solar system was designed with comet sweepers to prevent that from happening. The comet sweepers are named Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and the main one–Jupiter. Those giant outer planets all travel in the same plane, or ecliptic, as our planet. Comets come from outside the solar system, and because those outer planets are much larger, they have much more gravity. Since they are in line with Earth’s plane, they pull in the comets before they can reach our home planet.
The picture from NASA shows some fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 being pulled into Jupiter after the planet’s gravity ripped it into 21 pieces in July 1994. Those pieces were up to 1.2 miles in diameter and traveling at 134,000 miles per hour. Imagine what would have happened if that comet, or even one of those pieces, had hit the Earth! That is something to think about while watching the beauty of the October meteor showers. There is a reason why God designed the solar system the way He did. It was not an accident–and neither are we.
We received the following poem from friends who found it in an anonymous publication. It is titled “The Dash” and has a good message for us all:
“I read of a preacher who stood to speak at the funeral of his friend. He referred to the date on his tombstone from the beginning to the end. He noted that first came the date of his birth and spoke of the last date with tears But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. For that dash represents all the time that he spent alive on earth And now only those who loved him know what that little time is worth. For it matters not how much we own; the cars, the house, the cash. What matters is how we lived and loved and how we spent our dash. So think about this long and hard, are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left, you could be at ‘dash midrange.’ If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real, And always try to understand the way other people feel, And be less quick to anger, show appreciation more, And love the people in our life as we’ve never loved before. If we treat each other with respect, more often wear a smile, Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while. So when your eulogy is being read with your life’s actions to rehash, Would you be pleased with the things they say about how you spent your dash?”
Domestic violence is a major problem in the United States today. The Cora Lamping Center reports that one in four women and one in nine men experience intimate partner violence. We suggest that Christianity is the one belief system that directly addresses this issue. Ephesians 5:22-33 spells out the Christian system of domestic relationships:
“You wives must learn to adapt yourselves to your husbands as you submit yourselves to the Lord … Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. The love a man gives his wife is the extending of his love for himself to enfold her … But as for you individually, you must each of you love his own wife exactly as if she were yourself and the wife must see to it that she deeply respects her husband…” (Phillips translation)
Galatians 3:28 adds to this view by describing the equality of all humans in the Christian system. “All distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female, have vanished for in union with Christ you are all one.”
Many religions teach that women are inferior to men and have a servant role. While Christianity assigns roles to men and to women, the equality and rights of men and women are clear. The most basic cause of domestic violence is an unwillingness to follow what God has told us about relationships with one another. The media and proponents of evolution suggest that our lives are driven by “survival of the fittest,” and we have to “look after #1,” meaning ourselves.
Why are premarital sex and cohabitation rapidly increasing in our culture? If a man can get what he wants and then walk away from the relationship, his investment is minimized. Marriage, as described in Ephesians and Galatians, involves sacrifice and patience. It isn’t hard to understand the reason for domestic violence. The only real answer is for men and women together to look to God for the strength to live and love as He intended. Becoming “one” and following God’s plan works. Alternatives do not work and lead to frustration and destructive results.
Wupatki National Monument is a protected site in Northern Arizona once inhabited by ancient pueblo people. The area’s first inhabitants arrived in about 500 A.D. After the eruption of the nearby Sunset Crater volcano, which enriched the soil with volcanic ash, the population grew to around 2,000. In 1225 the site was permanently abandoned. Desert life at Wupatki was difficult.
We visited the site in late July 2021, just after an unusual summer monsoon rain. As we walked the trail through the ruins, a park ranger was sweeping water off the path. He remarked that it had been over five years since they had rain, and he had never seen anything like that downpour.
One of the unusual features of this ancient settlement was a ballcourt surrounded by a short wall. The wall retained the water in the circular ballcourt forming a pool 105 feet (32 m) across. The ranger said it was the first time he had seen that ballcourt filled with water. Then something unusual happened. Small creatures began swimming in the “pool.”
Tourists, who thought the creatures were large tadpoles, alerted the staff who came to look. Lauren Carter, the lead interpretation ranger, examined them and did some research. She found that they were small crustaceans called triops. “Triops” is Greek for “three eyes.” These three-eyed creatures looked like miniature horseshoe crabs.
Even though the pueblo people abandoned the site centuries ago, desert life at Wupatki still exists. Triops eggs can survive in the desert soil for decades until the rain arrives to create a pool of water so the eggs can hatch. After that, they begin filter-feeding and molting until they mature in about a week. Then they lay eggs to produce a future generation.
There is also aerial desert life at Wupatki. Ravens and common nighthawks flying overhead quickly spotted the rare creatures swimming in the pool. They swooped down to gobble up some nourishment. The pool dried up in 3-4 weeks, the triops were gone, and the desert returned to its normal dry state. Thus, desert life at Wupatki was hidden away until the next significant rainfall in five or ten years, or perhaps decades.
I am amazed by God’s design for life on this planet, even in places where you can’t see it. Desert life in Wupatki has a purpose. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Faher feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26)
The year was 1799. A farmer was working hard supervising farming activities from horseback through snow, hail, and rain. The next day, despite a sore throat, he was back out in the snow. That night he woke with difficulty breathing. In those days, it was common practice to bleed a person who was ill. Doctors, believing that illness is in the blood, sought to cure it by removing some of the person’s blood.
A supervisor on the farm opened the man’s vein and drained half a pint of blood. The farmer was not getting better. The family doctor arrived and bled the patient a second time with still no improvement. That doctor sent for another doctor, and while waiting for the second doctor to come, he bled the patient a third time. When the second doctor did not arrive, they sent for a third doctor. Then the patient was bled a fourth time, this time removing a quart of blood. Within two days from the time he first developed a sore throat, George Washington was dead at age 67.
What was the problem that led to the death of our first president—the man we call the father of our country? Believing that illness is in the blood, medical doctors ignored a simple truth found in the Bible. Leviticus 17:11 clearly says, “the life of a creature is in the blood.” Since life is in the blood, draining a person’s blood is not the way to cure a person’s illness. It’s a way to end a person’s life. It took thousands of years for medical science to catch up with the wisdom of the Bible.
After feeding thousands of people with five barley loaves and two fish, questioners confronted Jesus. He told them, “…it is my father who gives you the true bread from heaven (John 6:32). He went on to say, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).” Then, in perhaps the most shocking statement of all, Jesus spoke in a figurative sense. He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man (Jesus’ most common name for himself) and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:53-54).”
Life is in the blood. That is true of any creature or person. Moses knew it because of divine revelation, not from human wisdom. We can see evidence for the accuracy of the Bible in this and many other ways. However, the blood of Jesus Christ sacrificed for us on the cross is the ultimate source of life. As John wrote, “…the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Eternal life is in the blood of Jesus.
The above data compiled by health policy columnist Dr. Richard Feldman shows the benefit of vaccines. Using available public health data, he researched the prevalence of those diseases before science developed vaccines against them. He then adjusted for population growth and projected what the numbers could be today without a vaccine. Then, he listed the recent number of reported cases. The chart above shows only some of his statistics. You can find his complete article at THIS LINK.
A basic Bible principle is that you can judge the validity of something by its fruit. Jesus said it clearly, “You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes out of thorns or figs out of thistles? Every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:15-18). In this passage, Jesus was talking about false prophets, but the principle can apply to “false prophets” who tell people to avoid vaccines. God’s design of the human immune system and an understanding of diseases has resulted in “good fruit.” of vaccines that save lives.
The COVID virus is going to add another set of numbers. Because medical science understands some of the design in God’s creation, we have the benefit of vaccines. God can provide us with the tools to improve our lives, but He will not force us to use what He gives us. That is true of every teaching of Jesus, and it is true of COVID.
I enjoy watching BBC’s video programs “Planet Earth” and “The Blue Planet” written and narrated by David Attenborough. Those programs display the fantastic beauty and design of this planet and its many living creatures. Seeing the way planet Earth’s systems work together like a well-designed machine fills me with awe. However, I find it amazing that Attenborough believes that this incredible beauty and structure came about by mere chance and natural selection without any design, purpose, or meaning. How can he not realize that ultimate meaning, purpose, and morality come from the God who created these wonders?
In his book Miracles, Christian philosopher C.S. Lewis refers to unbelievers as “naturalists.” He wrote, “A moment after they have admitted that good and evil are illusions, you will find them exhorting us to work for posterity, to educate, revolutionise, liquidate, live and die for the good of the human race.” Lewis called that “very odd.” Attenborough teaches us about the beautiful design of our planet without a Designer. He advocates for the environment, even though that environment may have no ultimate purpose or meaning. A BBC interviewer once asked Attenborough if he ever had any religious faith, and he replied “no.” He said, “It never really occurred to me to believe in God.”
When asked why he does not believe in a creator, Attenborough will point out what he considers an evil creature, such as the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus that infects children’s eyes in tropical climates. He said creationists believe that God created each individual species, so why would “an all-merciful God who cares for each of us individually” make a creature like that. However, as John Clayton has pointed out many times, the Bible says God created “kinds” of animals, not each individual species. (See Genesis 1:11, 12, 21, 24, and 25.) But then He specially created the first humans in His image (Genesis 1:27).
Attenborough strongly advocates for various environmentalist causes telling us what we ought or ought not to do. C.S. Lewis said that those who don’t believe in God often tell us what we ought to do, but their natural impulses can say nothing about objective right or wrong. Lewis wrote, “Do they remember while they are writing thus that when they tell us we ‘ought to make a better world’ the words ‘ought’ and ‘better’ must, on their own showing, refer to an irrationally conditioned impulse which cannot be true or false any more than a vomit or a yawn?”
Lewis goes on to say that if we make moral judgments, “then we must believe that the conscience of man is not a product of Nature.” He writes that it “can be valid only if it is an offshoot of some absolute moral wisdom…” In other words, ultimate meaning, purpose, and morality come from God, not evolution.
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.
One of the most incredible sights we frequently see in the fall of the year is the flocking behavior of birds. Starlings are one of the most visible examples, with tens of thousands forming a massive cloud of flapping wings. The term “murmuration” comes from the fact that thousands of wings flapping at once give a murmur-like sound.
National Geographic magazine (October 2021, pages 26-28) published great pictures of a starling murmuration. The magazine estimates that in their photographs, there are “tens of thousands of starlings … a quarter-mile wide, and several hundred feet tall.” The article asks the question, “What is the purpose of murmurings?” They conclude that it’s a way to avoid predators or gain a feeding advantage. Since starlings don’t eat while migrating, the magazine speculates that starling murmurations offer an advantage over the falcons that feed on starlings.
A bigger question for anyone who observes the flocking behavior of thousands of birds is how they avoid hitting each other. It seems that built into every bird is a genetically imprinted instinctive drive to synchronize their wing beat, reducing the chance of a collision. How do they navigate? I have seen a whole flock make a quick 90-degree turn in which every bird seems to have instructions of when to turn and how far.
Besides the murmuration of birds, we see flocking behavior in many forms of life. Geese fly in flocks, and salmon move upstream in groups. Insects swarm around a hive or nest to protect the hive. Wolves form a pack to bring down a large animal. There are negative swarms such as insect swarms that eat themselves out of food reserves and a bison herd running off a cliff.
Our understanding of the genetic drives designed into living things is very primitive. However, it is clear that, at least in some situations, the grouping of animals presents advantages. Watching starlings move like a giant cloud and hearing their synchronized wing beats, one has to be amazed at the design and complexity God put into all of His creatures. We are continually reminded in Romans 1:20 that “the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made … so the (unbeliever) is without excuse.”
There is an interesting connection between an asteroid and snakes. Evolutionists have often believed in uniformitarianism–the idea that no process has shaped planet Earth in the past that is not going on today. The problem with uniformitarianism is that a great deal of evidence shows that it’s not true. The most accepted example is that when dinosaurs ruled the planet, an asteroid strike caused a mass extinction of 76% of all plant and animal life.
A research study by the University of Bath in England has shown that one form of life did well through and after the asteroid collision. That life-form was snakes. There were small snakes before the asteroid strike, but large snakes were easy prey for dinosaurs and simply did not survive. After the asteroid collision, small snakes hid underground and survived for a time without food.
When the snakes emerged, they didn’t face competition from other animals. With their newfound freedom, they spread throughout the world. Today, snakes live on every continent on Earth except Antarctica. Catherine Klein, the lead researcher in examining the snake fossil record, has shown that large snakes did not appear again until all the dinosaurs were gone. She told the BBC, “It’s likely that without this asteroid impact, snakes wouldn’t be where they are today.”
The evidence for the asteroid collision grows every year, and it comes from many different disciplines. Uniformitarianism is not true, and yet a gradual evolution of all life depends on it. Evolution would have to start over after events like the asteroid strike that wiped out massive amounts of life on the planet.
You have probably never thought of a connection between an asteroid and snakes. Current theories of evolution have significant problems with a lack of positive evidence and a growing amount of counter-evidence. God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes He has used catastrophes to shape the Earth for human existence.