Singing In Praise to God

Singing In Praise to God

The dictionary defines “anthropomorphize” as attributing human characteristics or behavior to an animal or object, such as people’s tendency to anthropomorphize their dogs. We can probably blame Disney for much of this. Beginning with Micky Mouse in “Steamboat Willie,” numerous cartoons have presented animals with human actions, including singing. Even scientific articles tell about whales and birds singing. The fact is that only humans have the unique capacity to compose songs and use them in a variety of human experiences, including singing in praise to God.

When a cardinal “sings” his song outside your window, he is really warning other cardinals to stay out of his territory. Whale songs are communication devices to locate food sources and attract mates. When Penny Patterson taught Koko the gorilla to use the sign language of the deaf, he learned that he would receive a reward. One of my favorite stories about Koko was that when Patterson taught him to recognize a yellow streak on a canvas as a banana, he identified yellow hats and yellow ties as bananas. Only humans could compose a song such as “Yes! We Have No Bananas.”

Humans use singing in many ways. The Psalms in the Bible are creative songs useful for memorizing and conveying spiritual values. The Genesis account of creation is actually a song. Being a song doesn’t make it untrue, but it is a uniquely human way to express and memorize history and values. Have you ever wondered why each military service has its own song? Why do we sing songs at weddings, funerals, and when camping? Singing is a way to express love and praise for others or God, and it can create unity. Most of us remember “We Shall Overcome,” and some will recall the protest song “Abraham, Martin and John,” referring to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and John F. Kennedy.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:15, “I will pray with my spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing praise with the spirit, and I will also sing praise with my understanding (CSB).” Only humans can do these things, and no evolutionary explanation is supported by evidence. We are created in the image of God, and singing in praise to God is an expression of that unique creation.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Extending Life Without Quality of Life

Extending Life Without Quality of Life

One of the challenges produced by the progress in medicine is the question of the role of doctors when a patient nears the time of death. In the old days, doctors had a code that said they would “do no harm,” which resulted in extending life without quality of life.

I had a personal experience with this issue when my disabled son Timothy was in the hospital after contracting COVID from a care worker. Doctors told me that Tim would never recover, but they had to give him a standard COVID treatment. Tim did survive but was not allowed to have any contact with family. He could not talk, was blind, could not stand or sit up, and could not feed himself. Eventually he was placed in a nursing home where I was allowed to visit him, and I did weekly. Although he could hear me, he was unable to respond. I read to him, tried to feed him, and ensured his stuffed animals were around him. After more than a year in the nursing home, he died.

The question in a case like Timothy’s becomes whether a doctor should be allowed to assist in dying when the apparent result was extending life without quality of life. Laws in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Canada allow doctors to administer euthanasia. The next step in these countries is to allow physicians to provide medical assistance in dying for the mentally ill. Canada has delayed the implementation of that option for physicians until 2027 to allow doctors and facilities time to adjust to this new law. Peter Singer, the DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, has advocated for euthanasia for virtually any cause.

For Christians, the issue is especially relevant. The New Testament in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says that God’s Spirit lives in our bodies and that the body is sacred for that reason. I Corinthians 6:15-17 uses that view to explain why prostitution is a sin. As modern medical science has advanced to the point of extending human life, it has also found ways to eliminate pain, but my son never showed evidence of suffering from pain. The problem remains of extending life without quality of life.

Euthanasia involves the same issues as abortion. Singer would empty prisons, nursing homes, and mental facilities by applying euthanasia to the people there. The fact is that much of the money spent on medical treatment is spent during the last year of life. Think of the savings if we were to eliminate everyone deemed to be within a year of dying. Do we really want to live in a culture that uses death as a means of removing a person who is inconvenient or difficult to sustain? But isn’t that what abortion is all about?

— John N. Clayton 2024

Reference: “Canada again delays assisted dying for the mentally ill” on BBC News for February 1, 2024.

A Question of Trust

A Question of Trust

Those who work with sheep have shared with me some of the problems of shepherding, such as disease, quality of fleece, and feed problems. But the strangest problem is what happens with lambs during their first week after birth. It’s a question of trust.

If something awakens a newborn lamb, it has an instinctive drive to follow whatever moves near it – usually its mother. That allows lambs in the wild to stay with the herd. The problem is that if something other than the mother is moving nearby, they will follow it. There are cases where a lamb followed an ATV, a predator, or even a bird.

If you have seen pictures of Jesus carrying a lamb, you are seeing what ancient shepherds did. Isaiah 40:10-11 describes this in beautiful terms. Jesus and the writers of the New Testament frequently used an illustration of sheep. (See Mark 6:34; John 10:1-9; and 1 Peter 2:25). The sheep’s trust in the shepherd is amazing. They know his voice and will follow and trust the shepherd 100%.

It’s a question of trust for you and me also. We all know you can’t trust the government, the company you work for, neighbors, or perhaps even family members. Examining the life of Peter, you can see him growing from a man with no faith following Jesus, knowing that he could return to his fishing nets whenever he stopped trusting Jesus. By Mathew 16:16, you see Peter calling Jesus the Son of God. In Luke 5:4-5, he responds to Jesus by saying, “Nevertheless if you say so, I will let down the nets.” We tend to criticize Peter for what happened in Matthew 26:69-75, but given the same circumstance, I don’t know that my trust would be great enough to stand up and be martyred.

Satan attacks our trust when bad things erode our faith in God. Sickness, the death of a loved one, money issues, politics – the list of things that erode our trust in God is enormous. But Christians can do things to build trust. We need to count our blessings and remember when God provided an answer for a tough time in our lives. Spend some time looking at the alternative. Where would being an unbeliever take you? If you reject God, what purpose will you have in life?

Learn to avoid the naysayers and reflect on the evidence that God is real and His word is a proven guide to living with trust and joy. Our free video series on the web at will give you evidence to trust God. Our free correspondence courses can give you evidence to build your faith. Don’t let a lack the pressures of the skeptical world destroy your faith in Jesus Christ. It’s a question of trust.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Ministering to the Needy and Homeless

Ministering to the Needy and Homeless

Across the United States, church officials are threatened with prison time for helping homeless people. Churches in Bryan, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Tempe, Arizona; Houston, Texas; Santa Ana, California; Brookings, Oregon; and Pottstown, Pennsylvania, have been threatened with legal action by city authorities for ministering to the needy and homeless.

The problem in these cities is that zoning laws and codes prohibit churches from serving food or providing shelter for people who are in need. When churches violate those rules, the police are required to shut down the services. In the cases cited, the cities offer no alternatives for churches ministering to the needy and homeless.

Jesus made it clear that His followers should meet the needs of those without life’s essentials. He said in Matthew 25:31-40 that His followers should provide people in need with food, water, clothing, medical help, and shelter for the homeless. He expects His followers to provide counseling and support for those in prison.

Eric Tars, the legal director at the National Homelessness Law Center, said, “You’re very much damned if you do, damned if you don’t.… Officials would have thrown the innkeeper in jail for offering his manger to Joseph and Mary because it wasn’t zoned for residency and didn’t meet the fire code.”

This situation is only going to get worse as migrants are bused into cities and left to fend for themselves. The secular world is not going to help them, and, as is always the case, it will be up to churches to find a way to address their needs. There are creative ways to address the problem, but any help will involve cost. The bottom line is whether churches want to do what Jesus taught His followers by ministering to the needy and homeless.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Could helping the homeless get you criminal charges? More churches getting in trouble” by Claire Thronton on USA Today

Incredible Accuracy of the Biblical Creation Account

Incredible Accuracy of the Biblical Creation Account shown by stromatolite fossil
Stromatolite Fossil of Blue-Green Algae

As a person with a background in paleontology and a Bible student, any new discovery is of great interest to me. One of the things that led me to become a Christian was the incredible accuracy of the biblical creation account. The establishment of “signs, seasons, days, and years,” as we know them, did not occur until verses 14-19, yet Genesis describes plant life in verses 11 and 12.

In Genesis 1:11-12, we see a sequence:
1- “deshe -This Hebrew refers to an elementary plant and is translated as “grass” in older translations.
2- “eseb -This means a naked seed or gymnosperm and is translated as “herb” in many older translations.
3- “zera -This refers to fruit trees – angiosperms in modern taxonomy.

This sequence is precisely what the fossil record shows. According to fossil records, the first life forms on Earth were algae, known as stromatolites. In more recent rocks, we find the fossil remains of ferns and conifers (spore-bearing plants). In a New Brunswick, Canada quarry, researchers recently discovered fossils of ancient trees so well preserved that the branches had attached leaves. Dr. Robert Gastaldo led the study and described the finding as “literally little windows into deep-time landscapes and ecosystems.”

These ancient trees stood about 15 feet tall with narrow trunks and crowns 18 feet in diameter with more than 250 leaves. The evidence indicates that an earthquake-induced landslide in an ancient rift valley preserved the trees by quickly burying them at the bottom of a lake.

The more we know of the creation, the more we can appreciate the incredible accuracy of the biblical creation account – and its brevity. Problems occur only when religious people force a dispensational timeline theory on the fossil record. For more on that subject, go to the website and read the booklet titled “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word.” You can order printed copies of the booklet from the

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Enigmatic fossil plants with three-dimensional, arborescent-growth architecture from the earliest Carboniferous of New Brunswick, Canada” by Robert A. Gastaldo in the journal Current Biology, February 2, 2024

Going to Church as a Depressing Burden

Going to Church as a Depressing Burden or a Blessing

I recently received a comment from a woman saying, “I don’t need another burden in my life, and going to church is just another depressing burden.” How sad it is that Christians sometimes view going to church as a depressing burden. It should be a blessing.

Part of this problem may be that many preachers burden their listeners with guilt and unfulfilled expectations. Gathering with fellow believers should give us support and encouragement. A church service should, first of all, be a time of praising God and expressing gratitude for what He has done for us as individuals and as a group. It should then be a time to share what God has done in our lives and to encourage one another.

One of the most essential parts of “going to Church” is to experience love. Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “Now I am giving you a new commandment that you are to love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples by your love for one another.” Having kind words to say to each other, asking questions, expressing concerns when there is a crisis in someone’s life, and giving a hug are all part of loving one another.

Isn’t it interesting that the difference between the English words “live” and “love” is the single letter “I.” The more we take “I” out of the way, the more we can give and experience love. The Greek word translated as “love” here is “agape,” indicating caring about the worth of every person. There is joy in doing what God calls us to do, but obsessing about “I” and losing love can make us think of going to church as a depressing burden.

If you don’t understand this, I suggest you look more carefully at why you “go to church” or what you are missing if you don’t go. If your religious experience is reading an essay or watching a service on TV, you are missing the essential personal contact. If you think of going to church as a depressing burden, there is something wrong.

An atheist whose life is guided by “survival of the fittest” cannot comprehend the kind of love that Jesus taught. By my count, Jesus used the word “agapao” 108 times in the gospels. The next most common word He used for “love” was “phileo,” meaning “friendship,” which He used 18 times. Church involvement gives us a chance to consider the worth of all humans, eliminating racism, sexism, envy, jealousy, and all phobias that afflict humans.

Going to church should be a blessing. If the Church is functioning as God intended, we will leave every visit to our local congregation encouraged, uplifted, and ready to face the world and spread God’s love.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Different From Any Other Life Form on Earth

Different From Any Other Life Form on Earth - The Good Samaritan
The Good Samaritan – Credit: Good News Productions Intl. and College Press

One of the conflicts between naturalists and Christians is whether humans have unique characteristics or are just animals conforming to the survival rules of nature. The biblical view of humans is that we are created in the image of God. That means we have a spiritual makeup that is different from any other life form on Earth.

Someone sent us an article about a student who asked the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead what she considered the first evidence of civilization in an ancient culture. Mead reportedly said the earliest evidence is a broken and healed femur. She pointed out that if animals break a leg, they die. They become easy prey for predators as they can’t get to a water source to drink or hunt for food. If you are a naturalist believing that chance environmental factors drive all life, that is the only option.

If you find a skeleton with a healed femur, you know that someone at that time cared for the person. Healing of a broken femur takes time. Someone carried the person to a safe place and protected them for a significant time, feeding them, providing water, and supplying medical help until the bone healed. Mead’s point is well taken and shows how humans are different from any other life form on Earth.

In Luke 10:30-37, Jesus tells a parable about a man usually referred to as the good Samaritan. A man has been robbed and is lying beside the road naked and half dead. What jumps out to us in the story is that two men who saw the injured person and refused to help were a priest and a Levite, religious leaders. The Jews hated Samaritans, but it was a Samaritan who took care of the injured man. The point is clear that followers of Christ should care for others who are less fortunate. Failure to do that shows an unwillingness to do what Jesus taught.

Humans are different from any other life form on Earth. We recognize the needs of other humans and are called to act on those needs. Doing that is evidence of God’s image in us. A predator might eat the injured man, obeying the natural animal instincts. Because of human uniqueness, we are called to love and serve others.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

What Makes an Atheist?

What Makes an Atheist?

Yesterday, we pondered statistics about atheism from the Pew Research Center. We considered what an atheist is. We saw that atheists are more highly educated, with 43% having college degrees compared to 27% of the American general public. They also are politically more affiliated with the Democrat party and lean more toward political liberalism. They do have spiritual thoughts and find meaning in family. However, atheists also find much more meaning in money, hobbies, and travel than do Christians or the general population. What makes an atheist? Why do people turn to atheism?

We often blame the fact that young people turn to atheism in college on the influence of American higher education. Educational institutions have become more liberal and atheistic, but perhaps the churches are partially to blame. We learn about God from two sources. In addition to the Bible, the world around us is filled with the life and wonder of God’s creation. “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So, they have no excuse for not knowing God. (Romans 1:20 NLT).

Many young people who grow up in the church are taught Bible stories along with a distorted scientific perspective of creation. When they get to college, they face new freedoms and challenges to the scientific “facts” they learned in church. The earth and sky seem to be showing something that can’t fit into the human-made interpretations of Bible chronology they have learned. They face a conflict that they must resolve. Too often, they resolve it by throwing out the truth of the Bible along with the scientific errors that have been falsely attached to it.

The bottom line is that the Bible does not tell us the age of the universe or planet Earth. Everything the Bible does tell us agrees with scientific facts. As we have said many times before, science and faith are friends. If there are apparent conflicts, it is because we have bad science or bad theology. The fact that there has been too much of both often turns our college students into atheists.

One more fact from the Pew Research Center is that in a religious knowledge survey, atheists ranked ahead of U.S. adults overall in answering fact-based questions about religion. That indicates that what makes an atheist involves more than a lack of religious knowledge. We will continue with that thought tomorrow.

— Roland Earnst © 2024

Reference: Pew Research Center

Elephantnose Fish Designed for Survival

Elephantnose Fish Designed for Survival

We can see evidence of a creator in the design features of living things that allow life to flourish in hostile environments. One of those environments is the very muddy rivers in Western and Central Africa. They are so muddy that underwater visibility is less than an inch. How do fish find food and avoid obstacles in muddy rivers like that? Peters’s elephantnose fish have the answer.

Peters’s elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) have an electrolocation system. An organ on their tails sends out weak electric field pulses. Receptors on the fish’s skin detect distortions to the field caused by any object or creature nearby. The fish also has a trunklike nose, which is full of electroreceptors. Peters’s elephantnose fish can make unusual movements to catch prey or avoid objects. It can even paddle backward in what researchers call a “moonwalk.” 

Researchers have found that by swiveling the trunklike nose (called a schnauzenorgan) and shaking the electrically-charged tail, a Peters’s elephantnose fish can create a mental 3-D map of its environment without seeing it. Experiments have shown that this system is very accurate and efficient. In one test, the fish could identify a shape and correctly respond to that shape 94% of the time.

We suggest that such a unique design seen in Peters’s elephantnose fish gives strong evidence that life is not an accident. The evidence indicates it was designed by an intelligent Creator to allow every part of our planet to be inhabited by unique forms of life, even places that would be lethal to most life forms. This doesn’t happen by accident but rather by the God who created life. We can study and learn about the Creator because He created us in His image and shows Himself to us in the things He has made (Romans 1:20).

— John N. Clayton © 2024

References: “Weakly electric fish use self-generated motion to discriminate object shape” in the journal Animal Behaviour, Volume 205, November 2023, pages 47-63, reported in Science Direct and in Scientific American, February 2024, page 18.

Celebrating Our Own Special Holidays

Celebrating Our Own Special Holidays

We recently received an article from a Christian woman working in a Christian assisted living facility telling about the value of special days to those in care facilities. She pointed out Romans 14:5, which says, “One person decides that one day is holier than another. Another person decides that all days are the same. Every person must make his own decision.” The word “holiday” in its original use meant “holy day,” and holy means “sacred, dedicated to God.” We need to find reasons for celebrating our own special holidays.

Our sister in Christ found that she could improve the lives of residents in the facility where she worked by making every day memorable by assigning notable food names to certain days. One day would be Fettuccine Alfredo Day, and another might be Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day. Incorporating food holidays into meal planning gave residents something to look forward to. It told everyone that small celebrations remind us that every day is special and life is worth living.

In ancient Israel, there were a host of special days to remind the people of the blessings of God in ways they might otherwise overlook. They had frequent celebrations of a good harvest, of being free from domination by others, and of the good things that had happened in the past. Jesus used parables to talk about good things even though the circumstances of the common people were bleak at that time. Think of how special days Americans celebrate can bring joy into our lives.

We need to avoid gloom and doom mentalities and rejoice in the good things God has given us. Besides positive national celebrations, add ways of celebrating our own special holidays as we remember the good things God has done. And don’t forget to bring these special celebrations to those who are isolated and fighting the battles of health and old age.

— John N. Clayton © 2024