Real Men and the Tough-Guy Image

Real Men and the Tough-Guy Image

“Real men don’t play it safe” so many males, including world leaders, don’t accept wearing a mask and social distancing. That is the basic idea of an article by Peter Glick in the August issue of Scientific American. He says that many male leaders are more concerned about projecting a tough-guy image than protecting the common good. He mentions Brazilain leader Jair Bolsonaro, U.K. leader Boris Johnson, and Donald Trump and Mike Pence. When Captain Brett Cozier of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt didn’t radiate the tough-guy image, he was relieved of his command. Meanwhile, female leaders in Germany and New Zealand have had better success in the pandemic than their male counterparts.

This is one more example of how “survival of the fittest” produces competition, promotion of self, and struggles for dominance rather than compassion, empathy, and promoting the common good. It is also why women appear to tend to be more capable promoters of Christianity. As women start competing with males, they tend to demonstrate a great many of the same weaknesses.

Any weakling can turn their back on the needs of the “weak and unfit.” Our experience as the parents of a multiply-handicapped child is dominated by compassionate women who had great empathy and a servant mentality. The number of males who were able to give of themselves to promote disabled adults was pathetically small. As society has rejected the teachings of Christ and embraced a value system based on evolutionary theory, our cliches show our values: “show no weakness,” “I can fix it,” “dog eat dog,” “watch your back.”

It takes incredible strength to be a committed, active Christian. When you read Matthew 25:34-40, you see Jesus commending people not because they were the strongest or the most attractive or successful. He commended them for doing things that an evolutionist would reject, such as giving food and drink rather than using it as a control device. Christ commends them for taking in a stranger, visiting the sick, and clothing the naked. The whole notion of turning the other cheek, going the second mile, and loving your enemies (Matthew 5:38-48) opposes “survival of the fittest” mentality. Are we strong enough to be Christians, or are we trying to earn the title of “real men?”

— John N. Clayton © 2020

The article “Masks and Emasculation” is on page 10 of the August 2020 issue of Scientific American or you can read it online HERE.

Deforestation and Disease Pandemics

Deforestation and Disease Pandemics
Burning a Rainforest to Plant a Palm Oil Plantation

One of the interesting aspects of the story of Adam and Eve is the environment in which God placed them. Genesis 2:8 tells us that God planted a garden, and verse 9 tells us that He planted every tree that was pleasant and good for food. The Bible doesn’t say how long God took to plant the garden and what was involved in the garden’s growth. Verse 15 tells us that “God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” After establishing the man’s environment, the Genesis account turns to man’s spiritual nature. But the planted garden with every tree is our focus here as we think about deforestation and disease.

The Bible describes the first humans as what anthropologists call gatherers. Agriculture was a long way off. The eating of animals isn’t even suggested until chapter 4 when Abel brings “the firstlings of his flock” as an offering to God. An article in Scientific American (June 2020, page 8) points out how modern agricultural methods have led to the three major highly infectious viruses since 2002 – SARS, EBOLA, and COVID-19.

Slashing and burning to create land for crops, such as palm oil, reduces biodiversity and puts humans in contact with wildlife that carry microbes able to kill us. Species that survive the clearing are more likely to host illnesses that can be transferred to humans. In addition to the three main viruses of our time, the Scientific American article mentions some other diseases have come from rain forest inhabitants – Zika, Nipah, malaria, cholera, and HIV.

Humans have brought on most of our major disease issues by allowing greed and “survival of the fittest” mentality to govern our decisions about how we use the environment. We waste between 30 and 40% of the food we produce. Poor agricultural techniques and mismanagement of water prevent efficient use of what God has given us. Deforestation and disease go together. Now we are contaminating our atmosphere and filling our lakes, rivers, and oceans with waste.

The title of the Scientific American article is “To Stop Pandemics, Stop Deforestation.” God gave us the “garden” and the tools to manage it. We can’t continue to mismanage it and not see more consequences such as pandemics, global warming, and diseases produced by our failure to do what God called us to do in the beginning.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Lessons from Prince Rupert’s Drop

Lessons from Prince Rupert's Drop
Prince Rupert’s Drops

As an old physics teacher, I always had a few “tricks” up my sleeve to throw at my students when they looked like they might be dozing off. Here is one that was usually a part of our studies of kinetics and the laws of solids, liquids, and gases. Prince Rupert’s drops are glass tear-drop shaped beads with a tail. In Hawaii, these drops occur naturally and are called Pele’s tears in honor of the volcano goddess Pele. My students learned lessons from Prince Rupert’s drop, and perhaps you can too.

In 1660 Prince Rupert of the Rhine introduced the drops to English scientists. The drops are made by quickly dripping very hot glass into water. As the glass cools, it becomes hard and clear. The bead part can withstand 3400 pounds (15,000 Newtons) of force. You can hit it with a hammer and it won’t break. The tail of the drop is very thin, and you can easily break it. The result is that the entire bead violently explodes into millions of dust-sized fragments.

If a student were dozing off, I would do my old “A or F” trick. I would tell the student if they could break the tail off the glass bead they would get an A, but if they broke the bead or scratched it in any way they would get an F. With the class watching, the student would carefully break off the tip, and to their surprise, the tear-drop would explode. Then the rest of the students would want to try it, leading to lessons from Prince Rupert’s drop.

The physics behind this is fascinating. The glass behaves as a liquid according to Pascal’s Law, which says, “Pressure exerted on a fluid is distributed uniformly throughout the fluid.” Because the tail has a very small diameter, the pressure exerted on the tail is beyond the tensile strength of the glass. The modulus graph for this material is very strange, with the glass not bending or stretching and thus having no elastic limit. We can see glass behaving as a liquid in other cases. Windows in old houses tend to flow so that the windowpane is thicker at the bottom than at the top. Scientists have learned lessons from Prince Rupert’s drop that gave us toughened glass for the screens in today’s phones and tablets.

We can also learn some lessons from Prince Rupert’s drop. One is that things are not always what they appear to be. The drops are beautiful. Shining a laser into them produces interesting light patterns. The bulb of the drop seems to be indestructible, but a small change in the tail produces wholesale destruction in the entire thing. What was once a beautiful tear-shaped drop of glass is now a pile of powder.

The moral challenges that we all face are very much the same. Things are not always what they appear to be. Something beautiful can become an ugly pile of dust if it has even a single break in any part of it. Sex is beautiful and used as it was designed to be, it can bring great joy and love. One misuse of it can turn a life into an ugly thing that can’t be put back together by any physical process. Only the healing that Christ brings can restore the beauty of a broken sexual relationship.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

You can see a video demonstration of Prince Rupert’s drops by clicking HERE.

Called to Peace

Called to Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9. One of the most challenging parts of being a Christian is fulfilling the commands of Jesus Christ to be peacemakers. Colossians 3:15 talks about the attitudes Christians should have: “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts since as members of one body you were called to peace.”

Other religious systems have either assumed a passive attitude or a militant, aggressive stance. Christ called His followers to be active, non-militant, promoters of peace. One natural tendency of humans is to try to force their will on others. This has led to perversions of Christianity, as seen in the Crusades and the use of violence to oppose perceived wrongs today. It has also led to the endorsement of cultural traditions rather than Christ’s teachings as a guide to morality.

Much of the New Testament teachings have to do with being peacemakers. Consider these:

* Understand that all humans are of equal value:

1 Corinthians 12:13- We are “all given one Spirit to drink.”

Galatians 3:26-28- We are “all one in Christ Jesus.”

1 Corinthians 9:22- Paul says that he had “become all things to all men…”

Regardless of sex, race, culture, nationality, age, occupation, or even religious faith, we all have incredible worth.

* Accept Christians who have a conscientious difference of opinion:

Romans 14 is a whole chapter on peace. Verses 1-4 talk about accepting people with different opinions about food. Verses 5-6 speak about people who want to honor special days. Verse 19 tells Christians to “follow after the things which make for peace, and things by which we can edify one another.”

* Separate the physical from the spiritual:

Matthew 22:21- Finds Jesus telling his followers to separate what is Caesar’s (the physical) from what is God’s (the spiritual).

Romans 12:15-21- Repeats the teachings of Christ in Matthew 5-7, giving specific advice on how to live as people who are called to peace.

* Be ministers of reconciliation and peace:

Philippians 4:2- Paul pleads with Christians to help sisters in conflict by bringing the spiritual into focus.

Acts 10:34-36- Peter tells us to understand that God is no respecter of persons and that Christians must tell the world “the good news of peace through Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 25:32-40- The judgment scene shows Christians being acceptable to God because of their activities which promoted peace.

Romans 5:1- As Christians, we have peace with God.

Matthew 5-7- Tells us what Jesus calls us to do so we can have that peace.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” We are called to peace so we can shine in a world of violence, hatred, and war. With God’s help, we can have an attitude that brings joy and happiness while an angry, violent world swirls around us.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

What Your Body Does in a Day

What Your Body Does in a Day

Own Olbricht sent us this summary of what your body does in a day. We thought it was worth considering the fantastic abilities of the bodies God has given us.

*Every day your heart pumps approximately 2,000 gallons of blood through its chambers.
*On average, your lungs take in 17,000 breaths a day with a typical lung capacity of roughly six quarts of air.
*Your brain processes over 50,000 thoughts a day – 35-48 thoughts per minute.
*Your stomach lining has cells which produce an alkaline substance every few milliseconds to neutralize stomach acid. The stomach would dissolve itself without its lining.
*Your eyes blink 28,000 times a day, with each blink lasting 1/10th of a second.
*Your body’s energy system expels enough heat to light twenty-five 100-watt light bulbs every day.
*Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and you shed a million skin cells every day.
*Your hair grows a millimeter a day. The average adult’s full head of hair consists of 100,000 strands.
*Your liver filters 1.53 quarts of blood every minute, and every day it produces a quart of bile to help digest food.
*Glands in your mouth produce more than a quart of saliva every day.
*Every minute your kidneys filter 2.2 pints of blood or 3168 pints per day. They expel 2.5 pints of urine every day.
*The average person will eat over 50 tons of food in a lifetime.


What your body does in a day is an excellent testimony to God’s wisdom, intelligence, power, and design.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

DNA Tests on Dead Sea Scrolls

DNA Tests on Dead Sea Scrolls

One of the exciting clues to the Bible’s credibility is the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They consist of thousands of scrolls and fragments found in caves near Qumran on the Dead Sea’s northwest shore. These scrolls have been useful in showing that the Old Testament books in our modern Bibles are credible. Recently scientists have conducted DNA tests on Dead Sea Scrolls.

Many people suggested that the modern Bible is a modified copy of a modified copy of a modified copy, and thus is not trustworthy because of copying errors. The Dead Sea Scrolls date back to 2000 plus years ago. The fact that they agree with the biblical texts available today is strong evidence that there have not been massive copy problems in bringing us the written word of God.

Molecular biologists at Tel Aviv University have conduced DNA tests on Dead Sea Scrolls. They are using the DNA evidence to tell us more about the origin of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments. They have isolated animal DNA in 26 fragments. Two of the fragments came from cowskin, and 24 came from sheepskin. The DNA evidence supports the idea that the sheepskin scrolls came from scribes at Qumran, although the cowskin scraps came from elsewhere. A few fragments came from Masada some 55 kilometers south of Qumran.

With more and more evidence, we see more credibility for the manuscripts from which our Bibles came. We can trust the Bible and its message. Whatever differences we find in manuscripts are easy to overcome and to understand.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: Science News, July 4 & 18 page 10.

Animal Viruses and Human Illness

Animal Viruses and Human Illness

The COVID-19 virus has been too lethal to ignore. This pandemic makes us realize that there are many viruses out there, and the current one is just the tip of the iceberg of what is possible. As early as AD 165 to 180, pandemics killed massive numbers of people. Smallpox killed 5 million, and bubonic plague killed 25 million on four different occasions starting in 541. Researchers today are attempting to catalog links between animal viruses and human illness. They estimate that there are probably 1.6 million animal viruses yet to be discovered in mammal and bird populations and that 827,000 of them could cause disease in humans.

Viruses are part of the natural world in which we live. They serve useful purposes in aiding animal digestion, reproduction, and elimination of wastes. The problem is that each animal has its own set of viruses suited for that animal’s diet and living conditions. If an animal’s virus jumps into another species with a different diet and living conditions, the results can be destructive. That is the connection between animal viruses and human illness. Most of the viruses we know about came into the human population from rodents, including rats, bats, birds, chimps, and mosquitos. Some have jumped through several animals such as bats giving the virus to cattle and camels, which gave it to humans.

The Old Testament laws had health restrictions, which made virus transmission less of a problem. People were also not in such proximity to one another or to animals that had destructive viruses. Living in very arid conditions reduced disease transmission, and the dietary laws worked against most virus transmission. When you read through Deuteronomy and Leviticus, you see elaborate precautions that we now understand had hygienic benefits to minimize viral transmission.

In the New Testament, many of these rules were continued. There was a prohibition against drinking blood, and the increased use of baking and boiling foods contributed to a low virus transmission rate. Moral rules that reduced the spread of disease included the elimination of polygamy and polyandry and the strong condemnation of prostitution. In time, the keeping of exotic pets and the acceptance of foods previously forbidden to Israel tended to thwart human attempts to fight disease.

God has given us the capacity to understand viruses and the connection between animal viruses and human illness. God has also given us the tools to control these virus issues. He has also given us hope for something better. Will we use the tools and techniques God gave us to stop the pandemics, or will we open our culture to more viral events in the future? Time will tell.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from “The Virus Hunters,” Smithsonian magazine, July/August 2020, and THIS STORY on virus hunters from 2018.

Difference Between Communication and Language

Bonobos - Difference Between Communication and Language

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh has made a career of studying bonobo apes. She would have us believe that there is no barrier between bonobos and humans. Her research raises the question of who we are as humans, and she would respond that we are just another animal. There are so many difficulties with this viewpoint that it is hard to know where to start. The most fundamental scientific problem is that there is a difference between communication and language.

Savage-Rumbaugh’s research is the main story in the July/August 2020 issue of Smithsonian magazine. She assumes that environment is not a factor in what distinguishes apes from humans, and she has lived with the bonobos in her research. A tool she uses in studying the bonobos is a “lexigram keyboard” with pictorial symbols corresponding to English words. One particular bonobo named Kanzi has used it to communicate with her. This ape could use some 660 English sentences functioning at a level higher than a two-and-a-half-year-old human child.

The difference between communication and language is an old issue. Aristotle wrote that animals could exchange information, but only humans could articulate what was just and unjust. The famous philosopher Rene’ Descartes in the 1600s, wrote that God had gifted human beings with souls, and, along with souls, language and consciousness. On this website and in our printed materials, we have talked about God’s design in animals that allows elaborate communication. Bees communicate by dancing information to other bees. Birds make sounds that carry meanings and warnings to other birds. The ultrasonic emissions of whales are elaborate communication tools.

Savage-Rumbaugh has shown that bonobos have a flexible capacity to communicate. However, she falls into the old trap of anthropomorphizing animal behavior – reading human interpretations into something an animal does. Statements such as, “She would look at me with a pleading expression on her face” is ascribing human interpretations to the ape’s facial expressions. The symbols on the keyboard are human symbols, and pigeons can learn to peck a particular symbol to get a desired result.

The Smithsonian article quotes one researcher as saying, “Work with Kanzi has always lived somewhere between rigorous science and social closeness and family life.” The difference between communication and language is a topic of hot debate. If you look up the word “language” you will see a significant variation in how different people define it. Humans have language that involves the meaning of symbols, the standards by which we measure behavior, and the values accepted by one’s peers.

The Bible deals with language, and God’s Spirit is involved with our language. When researchers have tried to humanize a chimpanzee by bringing it into their home, they do so with communication, but language is never a part of the process. Trying to turn an animal into a human being has disastrous results. We are created in the image of God, and language is a part of that image.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Chemical Warfare in the Plant World

Chemical Warfare in the Plant World - Lima Beans
Lima Beans
Corn Worm

We mentioned yesterday that plants use scents to attract friendly and helpful insects and animals. They also use fragrances to protect against unfriendly visitors. Seemingly passive plants have secret weapons against insect invasions. We call it chemical warfare in the plant world.

A good example is the lima bean. Spider mites attack lima bean plants, but other predatory mites eat spider mites. When spider mites attack a lima bean plant, it floods the area with a chemical signal that attracts the predatory mites. This chemical odor also causes other lima bean plants to emit the same chemical. When the spider mites are gone, the plants stop secreting the chemical.

Some plants, such as tobacco and corn, protect themselves from destructive caterpillars by sending off a signal to attract wasps. Research has shown that plants customize the signal to attract a particular species of wasp. The wasps can tell the difference between the chemical signal of plants attacked by tobacco budworms and corn earworms, and different chemicals attract a different wasp species. So far, cotton, corn, and beets have been shown to have different emissions as they call for protection.

We previously mentioned wasps that kill and eat the caterpillars of certain butterflies. In that instance, ants have a symbiotic relationship with the caterpillars to protect them from the wasps in exchange for food. The U. S. Department of Agriculture is looking to find ways to cause one insect to combat another. This research is necessary because it can help us find ways to protect crops.

Chemical warfare in the plant world shows that God has equipped plants to protect themselves against different insect scourges. Because of that, we can survive on a planet where insects hopelessly outnumber us. The design that the Creator put into living systems is truly amazing.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Plant Chemistry for Survival

Plant Chemistry for Survival - Gardenia Fruit
Gardenia Fruit
Saffron Flower and “Threads”

Plants have a unique problem that animals don’t have. That problem is a lack of mobility. Since plants are unable to move, they manufacture chemical toxins to kill bacteria, alkaloids to ward off herbivores, and sweetness or color to draw in pollinators and animals that will disperse their seeds. They use plant chemistry for survival.

Crocus and gardenia flowers produce a chemical compound known as crocin. It gives the color to the gardenia’s red-orange fruit. Crocin is also the chemical that gives the stigmas of saffron flowers, commonly called “threads,” their bright hue. Researchers at the University of Buffalo have sequenced the genome of the gardenia and examined how it makes crocin. By duplicating those processes, they have produced crocin in the lab and made it available for use in medical and nutritional applications. Crocin has antioxidant properties and may help in the suppression of cancer cells. The plants use crocin to attract pollinators, and we use it for medical purposes.

Research shows that plants get the power to produce a whole arsenal of genetic tools to help them survive by a process called tandem gene duplication. Dr. Victor Albert, a co-author of a study published on BMC Biology, says that plants can duplicate some parts of their genetic toolkit and tinker with the functions.

Many of the processes and tools we have came from studying the design built into the living things around us. That is why the writer of Romans 1:20 says, “..the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…” The chemistry seen in the botanical world is an excellent demonstration of the wisdom of their design.

There is much more to God’s amazing design in the plant world. Tomorrow, we will bring you more on plant chemistry for survival.

— John N. Clayton © 2020