Struggles of American Public Schools

Struggles of American Public Schools

As a retired public school science teacher with a family involved in public education, I have been interested in the struggles of American public schools. The recent issue of the “Nation’s Report Card” shows reading scores at their lowest point in 50 years. The same report shows math scores among 13-year-olds at the lowest average level since 1990.

The public school concept was advanced in 1635 with the Boston Latin School. The first tax-supported public school in America was the Mather School, which opened in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1639. These schools taught the rudiments of literacy and arithmetic with the purpose that all men could read the Scriptures. In 1642, “proper education” was made compulsory.

Here we are in 2023, with one in four children growing up without learning to read. Students in our prison courses struggle because many Bible study students cannot read above a 4th-grade level. Statistics show that two out of three students who can’t read properly by the 4th grade end up on welfare or in jail. In 2013, 66% of the average 4th-grade children in the United States could not read proficiently, according to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

Because of my experience in public school teaching, I don’t have any problem understanding the struggles of American public schools. During my teaching years, I saw two significant influences that inhibited learning. First, I was not given enough class time with the kids to teach them what I knew they needed to understand. I taught math and science and had the kids an hour a day for 186 days. I couldn’t cover everything I wanted the kids to know in 186 hours.

The second problem was attendance. I had an earth science class with 32 students. Most days, I would have about 20 kids present, but it was never the same 20. Kids would show up three times a week, but then they were often taken out of my class for fire drills, storm drills, pep assemblies, counselor sessions, testing, parent conferences, etc. Nobody ever explained how I could teach a kid I didn’t see.

Those problems were present 50 years ago and are much more true today. In addition, today, public school teachers are asked to teach and deal with social issues during class time. They have to worry about pronouns while teaching about racial issues, LGBTQ tolerance, sexual orientation, and political matters. Special interest groups and modern psychological theories dictate most of these topics. At the same time, the teacher has to avoid any reference to morality or biblical teaching about good and evil. No wonder we have a teacher shortage and low student educational levels.

When you throw out God and the Bible, how can you expect kids to understand today’s issues when even adults have no consensus on them? What do you expect to happen when kids cannot read and think for themselves? The struggles of American public schools only add to our society’s ignorance and misery. Meanwhile, the government persecutes Christian schools that try to offer an alternative to the defunct public education system. Christians can promote change, and it begins at the ballot box. What we need is thinking politicians who aren’t just promoting themselves.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: Nation’s Report Card and Wikipedia

North American Curly Horses and Evolution

North American Curly Horses

One of the great tragedies of the evolution/creation war has been the failure of people on all sides to define what they mean by “evolution.” We see a classic example in North American Curly Horses, sometimes called the American Bashkir Curly. This breed of horses has a heavily curled coat in the winter, and a much thinner coat in summer, when the mane and tail molt.

The curly coat is an advantage during very cold weather. In addition to the unusual coat, North American Curly Horses are well known for various other characteristics. They are much quieter in disposition than other horses and have thicker bones, rounded hooves, and exceptional memory. Curly horses are the only hypoallergenic horse breed – good news for people allergic to horses.

Horses can be traced back to the time when their ancestor was a small creature about the size of a dog. The best-known fossil horse is eohippus, sometimes called the “dawn horse,” but other forms of horses based on fossilized remains are merychippus, mesohippus, and miohippus. North American Curly Horses are hypoallergenic because a protein that most horse-allergic people react to is absent from their hair. Horse ranchers are cross-breeding curly horses with other breeds to establish some of their characteristics in other breeds.

North American Curly Horses are another example of how humans have benefited from evolutionary change. This evolution is not part of a theory to deny God as the creator. The design of life that allows change in this way is an excellent testimony to the wisdom and intelligence of God’s creation. When God created the first horse, He built into its DNA the genes that would allow change. We can say the same of the many other plants and animals humans need to survive on this planet.

Evolution of species is an excellent proof of the existence of God, but don’t confuse it with creation. They deal with two different things. Creation produced the first horse-like animals, and God’s design of life allowed them to change into the North American Curly Horses and other breeds we have today.

— John N. Clayton 2023

References: International Curly Horse Organization, American Bashkir Curly Registry,, and Wikipedia.

Life Elsewhere in the Universe

Life Elsewhere in the Universe

A frequent obsession of modern Americans is the question of life elsewhere in the universe. In July 2023, Defense Department employee David Grusch testified before Congress, claiming government mishandling and deliberate misrepresentations about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) believed to be alien spacecraft. The media continues to sensationalize the idea of alien life and exaggerate the unexplained phenomena.

Alien life has no bearing on God’s existence. If there is life elsewhere in the universe, God created it. The belief that life from outer space could solve the problems of humans on Earth is unfortunate. Here are some erroneous assumptions people have recently made:

  1. Some people claim that objects from outside our solar system, such as Oumuamua in 2017, are sent by aliens to spy on us. Scientists have found meteorites with high abundances of beryllium, lanthanum, and uranium, which don’t match alloys found on Earth. These show no signs of alien creation, and no researcher claims any of these support alien life, even though they probably came from outside our solar system.
  2. India’s landing of a spacecraft on the south pole of the Moon was certainly a great accomplishment. However, scientists were interested in the south pole because of the possibility of frozen water there since direct sunlight does not reach that area. They did not expect to find life, and they didn’t.
  3. Concerns about the Cassini spacecraft contaminating Saturn with Earth organisms when it crashed into that planet and the landing of Huygens on Saturn’s moon Titan are not because of aliens. Saturn’s atmosphere and the cold on Titan make it impossible for life to exist there.
  4. Military pilot sightings of things they don’t understand can have many possible explanations, including reflections on the canopy or effects generated by military actions.

Looking for help from aliens to solve the problems we have on Earth is a waste of time and money. The solution to human struggles will not come from alien life elsewhere in the universe. We can find the solution to our struggles in the teachings of Jesus Christ who came to Earth two thousand years ago. He came from outside of space and time to show us the way, the truth, and the life. 

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: Article by Eric Lagatta in USA Today and Astronomy magazine for October 2023, page 54.

An Octopus Garden

An Octopus Garden
© Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

One of the more interesting creatures in the ocean is a small octopus called the pearl octopus (Muusoctopus robustus). They get their name because they look like pearls on the dark ocean floor. Because of their small size, they are easy victims of predation. They have no defense mechanisms and are an easy meal for various predatory ocean creatures. How do they continue to thrive in their Pacific Ocean habitat? The answer lies in an octopus garden.

Researchers discovered the octopus garden 80 miles from the central California coast at a place called the Davidson Seamount. A seamount is an ancient volcano that has either sunk into the ocean floor or has been covered by rising ocean water. The Monterey National Marine Sanctuary and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have studied deep-sea corals on this seamount for 20 years. They recently discovered an octopus garden – home to at least 6,000 nesting pearl octopuses and perhaps as many as 20,000.

The design of this “garden” offers successful reproduction of this vulnerable species. By being 10,500 feet down, they avoid many octopus predators simply because they don’t feed that deep. Like many other forms of life, synchronized birthing floods the area with offspring so a predator can’t wipe out a whole population. Hydrothermal springs at the base of Davidson Seamount warm the water, allowing the pearl octopus eggs to hatch much faster.

We see many remarkable designs in the biological world, allowing animals to survive. Every nook and cranny of the planet is home to some form of life, and this is just one more example. As Romans 1:20 says, “We can know there is a God through the things He has made.”

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: and To learn more about the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, click HERE.

Siphonophores – A Colony of Animals Living as One

Siphonophores – A Colony of Animals Living as One
Portuguese Man O’ War

The more science learns about the biological world, the more unique things we see. Most of us know about jellyfish, corals, and anemones. These ocean animals are members of the phylum Cnidaria. In that phylum, a strange order named Siphonophorae has 175 species. The Portuguese man o’ war is a member of the order of siphonophores.

Siphonophores may look like one organism, but they are actually colonies consisting of thousands of clones that function in different ways. Siphonophores start with a single “bud” called a zooid. The zooid replicates itself asexually, producing thousands of clones. Each clone has a specific job, such as eating, moving, or reproducing. 

The colony of clones functions together as if they were one animal. For example, the Portuguese man o’ war has gas-filled zooids, allowing it to float on the ocean’s surface. Other zooids capture prey, while others digest the food. The individual zooids rely on each other for survival as one large functioning colony we call the Portuguese man o’ war.

In 2020, scientists found a siphonophore that was 150 feet long, probably the world’s longest animal. Most siphonophores live in the darkness of the deep oceans and are bioluminescent, using chemicals to produce light that attracts prey. The Portuguese man o’ war is an exception as a siphonophore that lives on the ocean’s surface. 

The deep sea diving expeditions of the Schmidt Ocean Institute and the EV Nautilus have taught us much about the designs built into living things that allow life to exist in places totally alien to humans. Siphonophores make us realize that planet Earth is a wonderfully designed and unique place in the universe, full of amazing living creatures. We must treasure God’s gift and take care of it instead of abusing and polluting it.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: Ocean Conservancy newsletter Splash for Fall 2023 page 2. You can learn more about the EV Nautilus HERE and the Schmidt Ocean Institute HERE.

The Thymus and Adult Health

The Thymus and Adult Health

New research shows a connection between the thymus and adult health. When I was a child in the early 1940s, doctors performed surgeries on children to remove a gland or organ because they thought it was vestigial and no longer needed. By the time I was in high school, my tonsils, adenoids, and appendix had all been removed. When my daughter Wendy became a teenager, she had repeated throat issues and infections. Her doctor refused to remove her tonsils or adenoids even though they were infected and hurting her repeatedly.

We know now that the tonsils and adenoids are an important part of the lymphatic system, keeping our bodies healthy by trapping harmful bacteria and viruses. As we have come to understand the immune system in humans, we have found that surgically removing the tonsils and adenoids can open us to infections. New research indicates the same is true of the thymus.

The thymus is a gland in the chest between the lungs, in front of and above the heart. It produces immune cells called T cells that protect against foreign invaders that could cause illness. In children, the thymus is very active, but after puberty, it shrinks. By then, the body has memory T cells specialized in attacking intruders the body has fought before. Since the thymus gradually becomes smaller, it is frequently removed in heart operations because it gets in the way.

Oncologist David Scadden and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston researched the thymus and adult health. They examined the health outcomes of 1,146 patients who had their thymus removed at the hospital between 1993 and 2020. They compared those with an equal number of patients who had the same surgeries but did not have their thymus removed. The death rate for those whose thymus was removed was three times higher than those who did not. Thymus removal was also associated with two times the risk of cancer within five years.

The thymus serves a purpose in childhood but may play a different role in adulthood. The researchers don’t know the cause of these striking numbers, but they show a strong connection between the thymus and adult health. We now know that the appendix, tonsils, and adenoids contribute to the body’s immune system to help keep us healthy. It appears that we should add the thymus to that list.

Psalms 139:14 says, “I will praise you, God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works..” We don’t have to look far to see God’s wisdom and design in creation. Just look in the mirror.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: Science News for August 26, 2023, and New England Journal of Medicine

All These Things Will Be Dissolved

All These Things Will Be Dissolved

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night when the heavens will vanish with a great rushing sound, and the elements shall be scorched up and dissolved and the earth also and the works that are upon it will be laid bare – seeing that all these things shall be dissolved what devout and dedicated lives you should live.” – 2 Peter 3:10-11 

As we study the creation and learn more about the mechanisms that guide natural functions, we realize that biblical statements of God’s methods are scientifically factual. The theologian may simply say that God does it and leave it at that. Those of us with a science background are interested to see how God designed a system to accomplish His purposes. 

The statement of 2 Peter 3:10-11 is theological, but the description matches the latest scientific understanding of the nature of matter/energy. Scientific American magazine published an interesting article titled “Disappearing Act.” The article goes back to Stephen Hawking’s research, which showed that event horizons around black holes can emit “Hawking radiation,” which causes the black holes to evaporate. 

Researchers in quantum mechanics have shown how the “Schwinger effect” can apply this concept of matter evaporating to any form of matter, not just black holes. If their calculations are correct, it means that anything with mass, which is everything in the creation, is designed so that it will eventually evaporate. Since God created time, the timing of this evaporation is not open to science. 

Amazingly, the comment in 2 Peter that all these things will be dissolved cannot be seen as science fiction but as a picture of God’s creative power and wisdom of design. Indeed, the more we know of the creation, the more we comprehend the nature of the Creator.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: “Disappearing Act” in Scientific American magazine, September 2023, pages 9-10, and “Gravitational Pair Production and Black Hole Evaporation” in Physical Review Letters

A Lesson from the Dart Experiment

A Lesson from the Dart Experiment
Double Asteroid Redirection Test – DART

In September of 2022, NASA steered the DART spacecraft into an asteroid named Dimorphos, attempting to alter its orbit. The experiment was designed to see if we could change the path of an asteroid moving toward a collision with Earth. We can learn a lesson from the DART experiment.

It sounded like a good way to protect our planet from an asteroid impact. Scientists believe an asteroid collision may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, and a similar one might cause human extinction. The collision did alter the orbit of Dimorphos, which is comforting to know. However, it also caused more potential problems.

The Hubble Space Telescope observed 37 previously unseen objects accompanying Dimorphos in its orbit around the Sun. These are boulders probably blasted off from Dimorphos by the DART collision. They are not just little pieces of rock or dust. Some of the boulders are as large as seven meters in diameter. Calculations show that the weight of the 37 boulders adds up to 5,000 metric tons – the weight of 300 gravel-filled dump trucks.

This incident reminds us of the story of Frankenstein when a scientist created a being that turned into a monster. Dr. Frankenstein did not comprehend where his creation might go once it was out of his control. These boulders do not pose an immediate danger to the Earth but understand that meteorites striking Earth’s surface are generally quite small. The boulders caused by DART’s impact with Dimorphus would cause significant problems if they hit the Earth.

Humans can learn a lesson from this incident. We are not God, and our wisdom and knowledge are incomplete. As God said to Job, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) In our day of rejecting God and His Word, we must be reminded that altering the design God built into the creation of everything from galaxies to viruses can have tremendous consequences. We have seen that in COVID, and again, we can learn a lesson from the DART experiment.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: Science News for August 26, 2023, page 10.

The Secrets to a Happy Life

The Secrets to a Happy Life

Brett Petrillo has found the secrets to a happy life. Here they are:

1) Learn to laugh with others, and at yourself. – Proverbs 17:22
2) Spend some time with older people; learn from their wisdom. – Proverbs 19:20
3) Enjoy the innocence and purity of children. – Matthew 18:1-6
4) Work with all your might. – Ecclesiastes 9:10
5) Live life like you will live forever, because you will. – Ecclesiastes 3:11
6) Plan as though you will die tomorrow, because you might. – James 4:14
7) Say something encouraging to someone; be specific and genuine. – Hebrews 3:13
8) Give something away with no strings attached. – 2 Corinthians 9:7
9) Help someone in need; expect nothing in return. – Matthew 25:35-40
10) Forgive others as many times as needed. – Matthew 18:21-22
11) Ask for forgiveness; a clean conscience makes for a soft pillow. – 1 John 1:9
12) Pray often and be specific. – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
13) Count your blessings (you might lose count). – Ephesians 1:3
14) Love God, love your neighbors, and love yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39
15) Bow to the Lord; better now than later. – Philippians 2:10
16) Obey God’s commands. – Matthew 7:21-27

Our thanks to Brett for sharing the secrets to a happy life. They can make your life not only happier, but also less stressful.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reprinted from “16 Tips to Live Happily” in House to House – Heart to Heart January 2022.

Keeping Religion Out of Government

Keeping Religion Out of Government

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), operating out of Madison, Wisconsin, has advocated for keeping religion out of government. That position agrees with the teachings of Jesus Christ, who urged his followers to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). However, atheism is a religious faith, and it too needs to be kept out of government.

When atheistic “survival of the fittest” becomes the state religion, the result is war, slavery, and genocide on a massive scale. We have seen that in Russia and other atheist countries. However, keeping religion out of government also means avoiding oppressive religious laws like those in the Middle East. Unfortunately, as the American people reject Christian principles, we see a growth of atheistic beliefs in the U.S. government.

FFRF runs ads in Scientific American and other academic journals, and a recent ad says the FFRF is determined to “keep religion out of government and social policy.” Social policy means any discussion of morality or government action with moral consequences. We see the conflict over abortion, where religious views state that all humans have exceptional worth because they are created in the image of God. At the same time, atheistic views say that humans are just animals and that destroying human life is no different from killing any other form of life.

Religious beliefs are the basis for assuming that human life has infinite value. Government policies based on atheism assume that human life has no special value and should not be sustained if doing so is too expensive. The data shows that a large percentage of medical expenses happen during the last year of life.

Government influencers suggest that when an older person requires excessive medical help, they should be euthanized to save money. Atheist ethics advocates like Peter Singer at Princeton suggest euthanizing the mentally ill who have no real chance of being cured. They also suggest that prisoners with life sentences should be put to death rather than supported by the state.

Keeping religion out of government social policy means rejecting atheistic “survival of the fittest” evolutionary theories. Like the fall of ancient Rome, the greatest danger to our country does not come from military forces on the outside but from the collapse of morality within.

— John N. Clayton © 2023