Origin of Life Complexity

Origin of Life Complexity
The origin of life complexity continues to baffle science. There are two competing scientific theories on the origin of life. One is called the “Darwin school of thought” which posits that meteorites brought elements to Earth that led to the formation of compounds which led to RNA and then to DNA. The second theory says that life originated in mineral-rich hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor.

The problem with both of these theories is that they are not explaining the origin of life complexity. They are only explaining some of the compounds that would be necessary to form life. Many scientists question the possibility of either of these theories and whether organic compounds could survive in the conditions of the early Earth. The bigger issue is how you could move from those compounds–no matter how they were formed–to a living cell.

You not only must have the ingredients to make life, but you also need a protected environment in which those compounds can be combined. Life could not begin in a toxic atmosphere or if there were agents on Earth’s surface that would destroy the ingredients. RNA and DNA involve long strands of nucleotides. Scientists in the laboratory can only produce such chains in a carefully controlled environment. The time element involved in producing increasingly complex molecules is also an issue.

When we enter probabilities into this process, the odds of each step happening by chance are very unlikely. Then to put all the steps together in the right order makes the probability of it happening by chance outside the scientific limits of what is possible.

Research into the origin of life complexity strongly points to an intelligent Creator. The more we learn, the more complexity we see. The famous atheist Antony Flew saw the complexity of a living cell, and that was a major factor in his coming to believe in God. His statement of faith was, “You have to go where the evidence leads.” Certainly, this area of study gives evidence of God’s wisdom and creative design. References: The Week, October 20, 2017, page 19, and Newsweek.com.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Evidence for God’s Existence

Evidence for God's Existence
Something that amazes me as I answer the questions and hate mail from our website is the incredible ignorance of not only the Bible but of the evidence for God’s existence.

Atheists are fond of saying “there is no scientific evidence for God’s existence.” Then they attempt to vilify Christianity by pointing to things done by people who claim to be Christians. With the growing number of atheist websites and the increasing participation of the media in these claims, people have embraced the idea that these notions are true.

You can find evidence for God’s existence in virtually every discipline of science. Genesis 1:1 gives us a series of choices that we must focus on to support faith in God. The account tells us that the universe had a beginning, that the beginning was caused, and that God caused it. The first two statements are scientifically addressable. Science has shown that there was a beginning. The evidence that time, space, and energy are not eternal is overwhelming. In our printed magazine, on our websites, and in our courses, we offer evidence for these statements. These choices do not require the Bible or any assumptions about God, so the assertion that we are just “spouting scripture” is not true.

Whether the cause of the beginning was God is a more complex issue because it is rooted in understanding God’s nature. Quantum mechanics, the work of Einstein, and modern work in physics have given us wonderful tools to understand the cosmos. The Bible becomes a necessary tool as we consider whether the biblical description of God fits the evidence that we see in the science disciplines. Most people have not fully grasped the concept of a being outside of time and space with the capacity to design intelligently all that we see around us. Their concept of God is simply too small, and that is true of atheists and believers alike.

Our primary goal is to encourage people to examine the evidence for God’s existence with an open mind. If people realize that materialism and naturalism may not hold all of the answers to the mysteries of creation, they may gain a mustard seed of faith that can move the mountain of disbelief.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Noah’s Son Ham and Skeptic Arguments

Noah's Son Ham
It never ceases to amaze me how some skeptic attacks never seem to go away. One of the more bizarre has to do with Noah’s son Ham. Some atheists claim that the story of Ham was invented to justify the persecution of people of color and the use of slaves.

They base their attack on the story recorded in Genesis 9:20-29. After the flood of Noah, Ham discovered his father drunk and naked. Ham told about it, exposing his father to ridicule. Noah’s other sons, Shem and Japheth, discretely covered their father to avoid embarrassment. When Noah recovered his sobriety, he cursed Ham and blessed Shem and Japheth. Some skeptics claim that the name Ham means “dark or swarthy” and that this is an attack on people of color.

However you interpret the story of Ham, it has no relevance to Christianity. Jesus did away with all such boundaries. Passages like Galatians 3:28 make that clear by telling us, “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.” It is highly unlikely that the intent of the name of Noah’s son Ham referred to skin color or that such characteristic would be passed on to all his progeny.

The message we should take from the story is that we need to care for one another and support each other even in weakness. Instead of quietly covering his father and keeping the incident to himself, Ham disgraced his father. Galatians 6:1-2 tells Christians to gently restore those who sin and bear each other’s burdens. There is no place for disgracing, shaming, or making fun of someone who fails. And there is no excuse for treating anyone differently because of skin color.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Skeptic Challenges

Skeptic ChallengesDOES GOD EXIST? maintains a Facebook page with daily postings. We often get skeptic challenges and questions from those who are seeking for answers. We want to share the following conversation from Facebook:

SKEPTIC: Maybe instead of “Does God Exist?” you should call your page “straw man arguments that I just made up and took no time to research.” Proteins collected, microorganisms slowly developed, they grew, became more developed, and developed very slowly into animals we recognize today. It really isn’t something you can’t Google whenever. But if you think everything is designed by your interpretation of the Jewish/Christian god, what designed him? Does the designer of the designer have a designer? Does it just go on forever in a ridiculous infinite cycle?

DGE?: You are on very shaky ground with that narrative of life coming together from non-life. But the real mistake you are making is thinking that God had a beginning. God created time and space, matter and energy at the moment often referred to as the “big bang.” Since God created time, he is not confined to the dimension of time. Since God is outside of time, he has no beginning. We are so confined to understanding things in the time dimension that it is difficult for us to grasp that concept. We think that everything has a beginning because that is true of the world we live in.

SKEPTIC: Isn’t it really easy to just say something exists outside of space and time and therefore doesn’t need to follow the laws of physics? What if I said that the creator of the universe is a giant, two-headed penguin? What if I were to say that the giant penguin exists outside of time and space (and that he wants you to give me money)? Would that be any less valid than what you’re asserting?

DGE?: Scientists say that space/time, as well as matter/energy, had their beginning at the singularity known as the big bang. Whatever created time (as well as space, matter, and energy) must exist outside of those dimensions. Some have tried to argue that the universe just happened without a cause. However, that is not a scientific statement because it cannot be tested. Sorry, it could not be a penguin because penguins (especially giant ones) have mass and therefore they are matter. As the Bible says, with scientific accuracy, “God is a spirit.”

SKEPTIC: To say that the universe having no cause is unscientific, while claiming the existence of some god living outside of physics, is hypocritical to say the least. If it’s necessary for everything to have a cause, what caused your god? If the universe HAS to have a cause, why not carry that same logic to the god you’re claiming?

DGE?: You are right that claiming the existence of God as the creator of space/time and matter/energy is not a scientific statement. The reason being that it cannot be scientifically tested. All we can know scientifically is that at the moment of creation space/time and matter/energy came into existence. That means that whatever caused those things to come into existence has to be outside of the space/time dimension and cannot be made of matter/energy.

We also know that since the cause is outside of space/time, it cannot be limited by space/time. That means it had no beginning in time, so it had no cause. It always existed. Those things can be proven logically and scientifically. From there we have to rely on faith since this is outside of the realm of science. I choose to believe that the creation was by an intelligent God. You may choose to believe that the creation was by and out of NOTHING. (Which is what some otherwise intelligent scientists have suggested.) Whether you choose the intelligent God hypothesis or the Nothing hypothesis you are acting on faith. I think that God is a more rational explanation.

SKEPTIC: It isn’t rational to believe things on faith. I’m not claiming “nothing” created the universe. I’m saying we don’t know, so we shouldn’t fool ourselves. You can’t claim to be reasonable if you 1) claim it is reasonable to say “we both don’t know, so I guess I’m right” 2) think something existing outside of time and space is plausible, but bacteria slowly forming from proteins in water is crazy talk.

DGE?: Okay, you are not saying that Nothing created the universe. However, I am sure you understand that the universe was created FROM nothing. I am sure that you understand that whatever did create the universe created time/space and matter/energy and therefore cannot be limited by or be made of those things. So the question is whether the thing which created time/space and matter/energy was Something or Nothing. Something seems more reasonable to me.

SKEPTIC: There’s no proof that “something” exists outside of the universe. It is, by definition, impossible for something to exist outside of reality. If it exists outside of reality, it doesn’t exist. It isn’t real. It’s imaginary. You’re providing logical proofs that not even a 4-year-old would buy. You first say that you have a specific something. You then say that this something must exist, solely on the grounds that we have stuff and not no stuff. When challenged on it, you say that it must exist, because what else would create the universe? Okay. What created your something? Another something? What created that something? Oh, it exists outside of time and space? And you have no evidence? Great. Just wonderful. You’ve won me over.

DGE?: How do you define this “reality” that you refer to? You have brought that word into our conversation, and you seem to be defining it as that which we can detect with our senses. Do you believe that nothing is “real” unless we can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell it?

SKEPTIC: If you cannot detect something in any way, it isn’t real. This isn’t exactly hard to understand. But you’re dodging around the fact that something cannot exist outside of reality, let alone create it. When you provide evidence that your particular interpretation of a particular deity is real, you may have some ground to stand on.

DGE?: You seem to have difficulty understanding that many (or should I say most) scientists believe that time began at the big bang. If that is the case, then whatever caused the bang has to exist outside of time. (Also it has to exist outside of space, since time and space are inter-related, and space began at the big bang also.) Either you have to say that Nothing created everything we see, or you have to say that Something outside of time created everything.

The only other idea posited is that the universe is cyclical and the big bang came from a previous universe that had compressed itself into a tiny point that exploded into a new universe. This theory has been rejected by scientists because nobody today believes that the universe will start to compress into a point and explode again. The expansion rate of the universe is increasing, not slowing down, and the energy will eventually dissipate. Also, the cyclical idea still doesn’t explain where it all began.

All we have left then are two possibilities. Either Nothing created the universe or Something outside of time and space created time and space and matter and energy and everything we see. Some scientists (Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss) have suggested that the universe came from Nothing because Nothing is unstable and therefore it morphs into a more stable state. I don’t see how that can be called a scientific theory unless it can be tested. I also think it takes more faith to believe that life (including human intelligence and creativity) came from Nothing than to believe that these things came from an intelligent Designer.

SKEPTIC: Again, I’m NOT SAYING “NOTHING” CREATED THE UNIVERSE! We don’t know what created the universe, or if the universe always existed somehow, but to say that you’re right because you can’t imagine “nothing” creating the universe is fundamentally flawed. If you think something created the universe, demonstrate what it is, then demonstrate that it exists, then demonstrate that it is your god (I’m guessing you’re a Christian, I apologize if I’m wrong). But if you cannot demonstrate that your god made the universe, or even that he exists, you should not expect anyone to believe you. But again, just because you think “something” made the universe, that doesn’t mean that it should be exempt from the laws of physics. Show your proof.

DGE?:
You say we don’t know “if the universe always existed somehow.” You would have a hard time finding any reputable scientist today who would say that the universe always existed. Discovery of the microwave background radiation from the cosmic creation event put the final nail in the coffin of that idea. So, since the universe had a beginning, the only choices seem to be that it had a cause, or it did not have a cause. It either created itself out of Nothing, or it was created by Something. That Something has to be outside of time and space, or it could not have created time and space. You can call it God or you can just call it Something. Science cannot go back beyond the big bang, so there is no scientific way to prove what that Something is.

SKEPTIC:
There’s no way to prove there is anything outside of reality, but again, by definition, NOTHING CAN EXIST OUTSIDE OF REALITY. It isn’t plausible. You’re using circular logic.

DGE?: You are saying that reality is only the 4-dimensional world that you know and that nothing can exist outside of those four dimensions because that is all you know. And you are accusing me of using circular logic.

SKEPTIC: Who brought up four dimensions? Are you trying to use pseudoscientific terms to try to sound smart?

DGE?: In case you didn’t realize it, the four dimensions we live in are width, height, depth, and time. (Or X, Y, Z, and T, if you prefer.)

SKEPTIC: Riiiiight… Well, you literally can’t have something existing outside of reality. You think I’m wrong? Show me your god.

DGE?: You are avoiding the issue. You continue to use “reality” as things you think are real and anything you don’t think is real is outside of “reality.” Your reality is too small. As you know, it is not possible to prove scientifically that God exists, and it is not possible to prove scientifically that God does not exist. Nobody has ever seen the so-called “dark matter,” but scientists believe it exists because they see its effect on the galaxies. Nobody has ever seen an electron, but we believe electrons exist because without them our computers would not work, and we would not be carrying on this conversation.

Likewise, even though we cannot see God, we see the universe around us. We know that the universe had a beginning and there had to be a cause of the beginning. You can choose to believe that there was an intelligent Creator or you can believe that it just happened out of nothing and by Nothing. You can also believe that electrons and dark matter don’t exist. Your computer works by magic, and the galaxies are held together by imagination. Each person decides what to believe, and I suggest that you keep an open mind.

SKEPTIC: As common sense and centuries of logical thought have proven, you should not believe in things that cannot be detected. I cannot detect magical leprechauns in my garden, but what else would cause my plants to exist? Well, I must be right, right? That’s proof enough for you, right? Look, I know you know I’m winning. That’s why you’re making it personal by accusing me of being closed-minded, which is highly inappropriate. Shame on you. You’ve lost. No one who is winning an argument will attack the other person. If you want an intelligent discussion, then that’s wonderful. I encourage it. But if you think it’s okay to say someone’s closed minded when they disagree with the same tired argument, then shame on you. I have no time for people who can’t maintain their arguments on their points’ own merits and resort to accusations of closed-mindedness.

DGE?: You say you won and I lost. I didn’t know this was a contest with a winner or looser. I thought it was an intelligent discussion about important things. In fact, I would say eternally important. You say that one should not believe in things that can’t be detected. Then I would expect that you would take issue with the many scientists who believe in dark matter which they have not been able to detect. Look it up on Wikipedia. They believe it exists because it explains things that they cannot explain otherwise.

I also suggest that you look up a book written by Edwin Abbot in 1884 titled “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions.” It’s available on Amazon for only a few dollars, and the Kindle edition is free. It is pretty much required reading for students of math, physics, or engineering. It’s a satirical novel about a man who lives in a two-dimensional world called Flatland. He is unable to believe that there could be a third dimension when a sphere shows up in Flatland and challenges his thinking. You don’t seem to be open to anything that challenges your way of thinking.

It has been interesting discussing these matters with you. I wish you well. I would say, “God bless you,” but that would probably offend you. So I will just say, “May the Force be with you.”

(This conversation was edited to correct grammatical and spelling errors, to clarify, and for brevity. You will find our daily Facebook postings at www.facebook.com/evidence4god.)
–Roland Earnst © 2017

Extraterrestrial Intelligence and God

Extraterrestrial Intelligence and God
Why do people want to believe in extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), space aliens, and UFOs? It has been my experience that proponents of these things are people who reject Christianity and belief in the God of the Bible. Now there is scientific data which supports what my experience has indicated about extraterrestrial intelligence and God.

The scientific journal Motivation and Emotion published a study by North Dakota State University researchers showing that the more people believe in extraterrestrials, the less they believe in God. The researchers wrote, “ETI beliefs serve an existential function: the promotion of perceived meaning in life. In this way, we view belief in ETI as serving a function similar to religion without relying on the traditional religious doctrines that some people have deliberately rejected.” In other words, people believe in extraterrestrial intelligent beings to take the place of belief in God.

The research seems to indicate that believing in ETI provides a way to develop a view that gives meaning to life. The researchers say that belief in ETI “could make humans feel like they are part of a larger and more meaningful cosmic drama.” Even some scientists such as Nobel prize winner Francis Crick have advanced the idea that extraterrestrials planted life on Earth. It just goes to show that when you don’t believe in God, you will believe in anything. Atheist Michael Shermer who is the publisher of Skeptic magazine says “any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial intelligence is indistinguishable from God” (Scientific American, January 2002).

All of this confusion about extraterrestrial intelligence and God is the result of an unfortunate, mistaken concept of what God is. It also results from not looking at all of the evidence for the existence of God. It does explain, however, why many people desperately try to find a way to believe that aliens are our creators.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Deception in Politics, Religion, and Anglerfish

Deception in Politics, Religion, and Anglerfish
Lying seems to be a heavily used skill in today’s political climate. The fact that there is so much deception in politics is interesting to me because as an atheist I viewed deception as a survival skill. When I was a child, my mother took me to narrated movie shows on nature. These were 16 mm movies filmed by photographers usually associated with The Audubon Society or The National Geographic Society. The person who did the filming usually was the narrator, and that added color and personality to what we saw on the screen.

My mother usually had an object lesson for me at the end of those films and deception was a major theme. My favorite film was an underwater movie about reef fish. The scene I liked most involved an ugly fish known as the anglerfish. This fish would lie on the bottom and dangle a piece of flesh that was worm-shaped in front of its mouth on a rod attached to its head. The fish would wiggle the lure to attract reef fish. When a fish came close to investigate, the anglerfish would suddenly lurch forward and swallow the fish whole.

My mother seized on the moment to tell me that I needed to learn a lesson about life from the anglerfish. That lesson in her atheist perspective was that life is hard and to survive we must to learn to deceive and not be deceived. Later in my efforts as an atheist, I would maintain that deception is simply survival of the fittest. The fit survive by deceiving and exploiting the unfit.

I always had good results using this to support my atheist arguments. When I tried to justify stealing money from my mother, it was less effective. I protested by referring the anglerfish, but she screamed at me, “You’re not a fish!!”

Now looking back at that from a Christian apologetic position I have to say “Bingo!!” But from her atheistic evolutionary perspective, I AM no more than a fish. When we have so much deception in politics, that is an indication of the perspective of our elected officials.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Dawkins Admits Anti-Christian Discrimination

Dawkins Admits Anti-Christian Discrimination
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is an outspoken atheist. He has made harsh statements against all religions. In his book The God Delusion, he uses the vilest terms to describe “the God of the Old Testament.” Then he goes on to say that God is not only a delusion but a “pernicious delusion.” However, in a backhanded way, Dawkins admits anti-Christian discrimination. He has admitted that Christianity is treated differently from Islam, and coincidentally that Christians are more gracious and forgiving than Muslims.

Dawkins was scheduled to speak in August at an event in Berkeley, California, sponsored by a public radio station. Dawkins was supposed to be speaking concerning his newest book coming out this month–Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist. Residents in the San Francisco Bay area reported to the radio station some comments concerning Islam in The God Delusion. They also pointed out a tweet from Dawkins in which he said, “”Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today.” When the powers at KPFA radio heard that, they promptly canceled Dawkins’ speech. They sent a letter to those who had purchased tickets telling them, “We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt–in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people.”

A response letter from the Dawkins Foundation referred to him as “one of the greatest intellects of our time” and called the accusation that he had used “abusive speech” toward Muslims “baseless.” Dawkins himself stated, “The idea that I have engaged in abusive speech against Islam is preposterous…I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism.”

In a letter written to the radio station by Dawkins, he stated, “I am known as a frequent critic of Christianity and have never been de-platformed for that. Why do you give Islam a free pass?” In other words, Dawkins can feel free to criticize and mock Christianity, but not Islam. Could that be because Christians are more gracious and forgiving? Could it be that he can insult Jesus and his followers and not fear for his life? Would he be able to do the same against Mohammad and his followers? I don’t think so. His words are a backhanded compliment to the faith he has frequently criticized.

There is another aspect of the decision by the radio station. The public radio station canceled the speech stating “KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech” and “we do not support abusive speech.” Would they have canceled because of Dawkins’ “hurtful speech” or “abusive speech” toward Christians? His vile words about the God of the Bible in his book The God Delusion would certainly qualify as “hurtful” and “abusive” toward the faith of Christians and Jews. I am confident that the radio station would not have canceled because of those words. Even Richard Dawkins admits anti-Christian discrimination exists in the media and academia.

Thanks to Thayer Salisbury for bringing this news item to our attention. You can find the full text of KPFA’s and Richard Dawkins’ letters here. Click here for the BBC report.
–Roland Earnst © 2017

Scientists and God: A Different View

Scientists and God
J. B. S. Haldane in 1914

In each issue of our printed publication, we have a feature called Scientists and God, in which we quote from a leading scientist who is also a believer in God. Today I would like to do something a little different. I want to quote the words of a leading scientist who was not a believer.

J. B. S. Haldane (1892–1964) was a British geneticist and evolutionary biologist. He was also an outspoken atheist and a Marxist. Because of the political controversy caused by his Marxist ideology, he left England in 1956 and spent the remainder of his life in India.

Haldane was a brilliant man who made contributions in the areas of genetics, evolutionary biology, and mathematics. In many ways, he was ahead of his time. He proposed the central ideas of in vitro fertilization. He was the first to suggest human cloning. In fact, he coined the use of the term “clone” for that purpose. He also helped to create the science of population genetics.

In 1929, Haldane introduced the “Primordial Soup Theory,” which said that life began on the early Earth in a chemical soup where the elements of life came together. That theory became the leading concept of abiogenesis–the idea of life coming from non-living matter by a natural process. Haldane’s theory led to the famous Miller-Urey experiment in 1952. In that experiment, Stanley Miller created a sealed container with the chemicals thought to have been part of the early atmosphere of Earth. He subjected the chemicals to an electric spark and collected some amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. The news media went wild over “creating life in the laboratory,” but that was an example of media exaggeration–or as it would be called today “fake news.”

Incidentally, science has since shown that the Miller-Urey experiment did not emulate the conditions or chemicals of the early Earth and therefore is not a valid demonstration of the first step in abiogenesis. However, it is still shown to students in school textbooks because science has not produced anything better, and it is easy to understand. Today’s attempts at abiogenesis are far more complex, proving that it takes great intelligence and carefully controlled lab conditions to produce even the basic building blocks of life. In other words, it takes intelligence to create life, which has been our message for many years.

Haldane proposed correctly that sickle-cell disease gives immunity to malaria. He prepared gene maps for color-blindness and hemophilia. Nobel Prize winning biologist Peter Medawar called Haldane “the cleverest man I ever knew.”

Haldane wrote numerous books presenting his ideas and defending Darwinism. In 1949 he debated British ornithologist Douglas Dewar on the topic “Is Evolution a Myth?” In that debate, Haldane said that evolution would not be capable of producing “various mechanisms, such as the wheel and magnet, which would be useless till fairly perfect.” In other words, if those mechanisms could be found in living organisms it would be an indication that evolution did not create those organisms.

Since that debate, we have found magnets in anaerobic bacteria which are considered to be the most “primitive” forms of life. The sightless, single-celled magnetotactic bacteria consume iron and produce magnets which they use to guide them to anaerobic areas that are safe for them to live. The magnets they produce are better for some scientific purposes than what humans can produce in the laboratory. Turtles, birds, and other more advanced animals also use magnets for navigation. Wheels can also be found in living organisms. As Janine M. Benyus (another Darwinist) wrote in her book titled Biomimicry, “Even the wheel, which we always took to be a uniquely human creation, has been found in the tiny rotary motor that propels the flagellum of the world’s most ancient bacteria.”

So wheels and magnets are found in the most “primitive” and “ancient” of single-celled bacteria. If that 1949 debate were taking place today, I doubt if J. B. S. Haldane would say that those mechanisms could disprove evolution. On the subject of Scientists and God, there are many views. Our view is that those mechanisms found in bacteria indicate an intelligent Creator who understood magnets and wheels long before humans did.
–Roland Earnst © 2017

Christianity and Violence

Christianity and Violence
If you watch program #7 in our video series, you will see a number of quotes by well-known atheists indicating why they reject the existence of God. One of the recurring statements is the claim that religion and religious warfare threaten to destroy all of humanity. They claim that religion is evil. They even equate Christianity and violence. The late Christopher Hitchens wrote a book with the subtitle How Religion Poisons Everything in which he blamed religions for violence and warfare, and he made no distinction for Christianity.

There is no question that war and violence have plagued the human race since the time of Adam, and many times religion has been at least a catalyst to the violence if not the cause of it. Unfortunately, there is much in the history of religion to connect it with violence. Atheists claim that a million people were murdered by the Catholic Church in the Crusades and the Inquisition.

The New Testament makes it clear that the followers of Jesus should be peacemakers. Matthew 5:25-48 and Romans 12:9-21 show that Jesus opposed war and violence. Passages like Ephesians 3:10-12 and 6:12 tell us that our real battle is spiritual warfare.

Would getting rid of religion eliminate violence? If somehow we could eliminate every religion, would we see peace and love and goodwill everywhere? John Lennon’s famous song Imagine had the line: “Imagine there’s no heaven, no hell below us… nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.” The song suggested that getting rid of religion would bring peace and harmony on Earth.

The truth is that the most violent and war-like leaders in history had no religious beliefs at all. Hitler murdered 190 million people. Stalin and Mao killed even more. Unbelief seems to be more dangerous than even the most violent of organized religions.

War has many causes, but political and economic power—not religion–are at the core of most wars. Christianity should never be the cause of war or violence. Christians may be involved as citizens according to the dictates of Romans 13, but you can’t read Matthew 5 and Romans 12 and attempt to equate Christianity and violence.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Bogota, Colombia–Faith Challenges

Bogota, Colombia
Bolivar Plaza, Bogota, Colombia

As you read this, your author is in Bogota, Colombia, South America, presenting lectures at a university and in town meetings.

What has happened in Colombia is going on in many areas of South America. For years the Roman Catholic Church has dominated the country, and recent moral problems with some priests and Catholic leaders have disillusioned many Colombians. The result is that belief in God has dropped considerably and Colombia’s health minister has announced he is an atheist and is vowing to implement legal abortion.

Atheists are bringing in atheistic professor Richard Dawkins to challenge the Catholic Church to debate in Bogota in December of this year. The Catholic Church has accepted the challenge and an ordained priest of 50 years experience named Gerardo Remolina will oppose Dawkins. Remolina has written a book titled God and Religion, Illusion or Reality. He is the vice-chancellor of Bogota’s Catholic Javeriana Pontifical University and is the academic dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Tickets for the debate have already gone on sale.

The atheists are also sponsoring a national essay contest in which students are being asked to watch the BBC documentary entitled Beautiful Minds and then write a five-page essay on Dawkins’ godless belief system. The top ten students will then be invited to travel to London to visit the Natural History Museum, with a tour guided by Dawkins himself. You can read more about the Dawkins challenge on ColombiaReports.com.

During our trip we are presenting programs on the existence of God in Chia, a northern suburb of Bogota, Colombia, on June 30 and July 1.
–John N. Clayton © 2017