Virus-Carrying Animals and Pandemics

Virus-Carrying Animals - Whitetail Deer Fawn
Whitetail Deer Fawn

When you read the hygienic rules for the nation of Israel in the Bible, you might think they are restrictive and unnecessary. However, we now understand that some 60% of known infectious diseases in humans came from animals, and over 250 known diseases have come directly to humans from virus-carrying animals.

We also know that 850,000 viruses exist within the bodies of mammals and birds, and 10% of rodent species host pathogens that can infect people. Seventy-seven known viruses can come from primates to humans, and bats are well-equipped to carry viruses to humans. For example, the SARS-CoV-2 virus in bats probably initiated the COVID virus in humans.

We are seeing significant increases in diseases carried by animals
and spread by mosquitos, ticks, and a variety of parasites. The Lyme disease incidence rate has doubled in the past ten years, and scientists have identified two new tick-carried diseases. Dengue fever has increased 30-fold in recent years. In addition, researchers have identified white-tailed deer as carriers of the Omicron variant of the COVID virus.

God gave ancient Israel restrictions and rules of contact with animals that reduced the probability of transmitting diseases to humans from virus-carrying animals. Likewise, we need to reduce the use of animals as pets and educate hunters and farmers about how to care for animals we use for food. In addition, avoiding extensive contact with animals by leaving them in their natural habitat and not raising animals that may carry harmful viruses can help protect us from diseases.

Massive vaccination is never going to eradicate the agents of pandemics. However, careful understanding of the creation’s design and maintaining separation between humans and virus-carrying animals can make a huge difference.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Week for July 1, 2022 page 11.

The Gay Lifestyle and Monkeypox

The Gay Lifestyle and Monkeypox

Skeptics often say that the Bible is loaded with racial, homophobic, and judgmental condemnations, but these assertions are invalid. Jesus and the apostles were totally opposed to racial prejudice. Jesus demonstrated that in John 4 when he spoke with the Samaritan woman. Paul makes it clear in Galatians 3:26-29 that Christianity has no room for racial prejudice. The gay lifestyle is another issue.

You can’t read the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 -7 and not see that He taught against any violence or malice toward those who reject God and the biblical admonitions on how we should live. By the same token, you can’t read Romans 1:18-32 and not see a rejection of the destructive, immoral behaviors that people practiced. It is true that LGBTQ and gay lifestyle choices are harmful, and one of the consequences of those lifestyles is a vast number of diseases.

In the past, we have seen HIV transmitted from animals to humans
by animal/human sexual relationships and then spread by gay lifestyle sexual practices. Now we are witnessing monkeypox cases on the rise. This is a DNA virus related to smallpox discovered in monkeys in 1958, with the first known human case in 1970. Medical researchers are now seeing cases in the western world, including the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control, on May 23, 2022, revealed that most of the cases in the U.S. have been in men who identified themselves as gay or bisexual. In Spain, the cases have been linked to a Pride celebration and in Belgium to a fetish celebration.

The virus does not spread easily but can be spread by skin-to-skin sexual contact. People with the virus may only have lesions in their mouth and throat, which transmit the virus from person to person during sexual relationships. Although not actually an STD, monkeypox is connected to sexual relationships. This shows again that God’s plan for marriage and sexual relationships is the best way to avoid the virus.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Science News, June 18, 2022, pages 6 – 7.

The Salt Has Lost Its Savor

The Salt Has Lost Its Savor - Dead Sea Salt Formations
Dead Sea Salt Formations

An atheist recently attacked the credibility of the Bible by quoting Matthew 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its savor, how shall it be seasoned? It is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden underfoot.” The atheist complained that Jesus was incredibly ignorant because salt can’t lose its “savor” no matter what happens to it. Reading the whole verse and understanding something about salt makes this attack an excellent example of ignorance about science and faith.

Today we get salt from well over 90% pure salt deposits. Halite (sodium chloride) is the mineral name, and the city of Detroit, for example, is built over a salt deposit that is, in fact, some 99% pure halite. That is true in many other places, but not in the Dead Sea, where the salt came from in Jesus’ time. Dead Sea salt is a mixture of the minerals halite (table salt), gypsum (calcium sulfate used in drywall), and other minerals. The halite part of Dead Sea salt was used for seasoning food or preserving meat, but the gypsum was used for footpaths. This is what Jesus referred to when He said, “the salt has lost its savor,” and His listeners would have understood that.

The lesson here is that you can’t read the Bible in 2022 and understand what was written some 2000 years ago unless you investigate what life was like back then. It is essential to understand that the biblical account is not about Americans living in modern times. People have not changed spiritually, but society and customs have made enormous changes. Add to that the fact that the original biblical manuscripts were not written in English, and Bible translators may not understand the culture in which they were written. Even languages have changed over the years, which is a problem with the King James translation.

For non-scholars, it is essential to be critical of Bible critics and Bible translations. Was the version you use translated by people who knew the culture and conditions while avoiding their own biases? God has provided us with tools through honest scholars that help us find answers to complex Bible issues. Nevertheless, we still need to apply the principle, “Study to show yourselves workmen who do not need to be ashamed rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Happy the Elephant Is Denied Personhood

Happy the Elephant Is Denied Personhood
A zoo elephant and human children. There is a difference!

Atheists claim that humans are just animals, so animals should have the same rights as humans. On June 14, 2022, the New York Court of Appeals denied a claim by a Florida-based animal rights group called “The Nonhuman Rights Project.” The group had claimed that an elephant named “Happy” in the Bronx Zoo was in illegal custody and should be released because the elephant was equal to humans. After four years of litigation, Happy the elephant is denied personhood by the New York Court of Appeals.

There have been stories by animal protection groups of elephants displaying emotions that they interpret as typical human responses to the death of a family member. Other people have ascribed similar arguments for humanizing a pet dog or cat. We call this anthropomorphism, and we have dealt with it before.

If you deny that humans are created in the image of God, then any animal can be considered equal to humans. However, because we are in God’s image, humans have spiritual characteristics that animals don’t have. For example, we can express creativity in art and music, feel guilt and sympathy, have a complete self-concept, appreciate beauty, and worship God. Some people may ascribe human characteristics to a loved animal, suggesting that it can do one of these things, but they would not argue that the animal can do all of them.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wrote, “While no one disputes that elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion, Happy, as a nonhuman animal, does not have a legally cognizable right to be at liberty under New York law.” She said that the legislature would have to decide to grant nonhuman animals the same legal rights as humans.

The court’s decision was five to two, with the two jurists strongly dissenting. So, at least for now, Happy the elephant is denied personhood unless the legislature decides to change the law. Interestingly, the New York legislature denies personhood for a human baby up to the moment of birth.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: AOL News

Christian Teaching Honors Fathers

Christian Teaching Honors Fathers

In the United States, the third Sunday in June is Father’s Day. Catholic countries of Europe have long celebrated fathers on March 19, Saint Joseph’s Day. President Woodrow Wilson officially recognized Mother’s Day in 1914, but it wasn’t until 58 years later that President Richard Nixon set aside Father’s Day in 1972. Today, and from the beginning of the Church, Christian teaching honors fathers.

In the Christian concept, fathers are leaders, educators, and providers. Both Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 define the father’s role as a loving mentor to his children. In 1 Timothy 5:8, Paul emphasized that it is essential for fathers to provide for their families: “If any will not provide for his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” Ephesians 5:25-33 tells husbands to love their wives as their own bodies and partner with them, so they act as one. Husbands are told to address the sexual needs of their wives in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 and to be islands of love beyond sexual relationships in Titus 2:2 and 1 John 3:11-24.

Being a father is challenging because it takes a special man to begin to live up to what God has called men to be. Unfortunately, our secular world has blurred the role of fathers to the point that even in the Church, it is difficult to find men for leadership who meet the description of 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

Christian teaching honors fathers as they seek a higher calling than what the secular world understands. Let us join in celebrating this Father’s Day with prayer, thanksgiving, and renewed desire to live as God has called us to live.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Do We Have Enough Water?

Do We Have Enough Water?

Parade Magazine published a question to Marilyn Vos Savant in which the writer asked, “If you had a cubic mile of water in a tank, and you start pumping it at 1000 gallons per minute, how long would it take to empty the tank?” Her answer was it would take over 2,000 years. There are many places on Earth where we have more than a cubic mile of water. The essential question is, “Do we have enough water?” The answer is that if we used what God has given us wisely, we would not have a water problem.

If we have enough water, why is there a water shortage as lakes dry up in California and Arizona? Also, why are people facing water shortages in drought conditions worldwide? God has given us enough water, but we are not doing a good job of distributing it. We can take the minerals from seawater to make fresh water. The energy cost to do that is high, but technology has greatly reduced it from what it used to be.

We have pipelines that carry liquid fossil fuels to enormous distances. If you think that building a water pipeline from the ocean to a destination hundreds of miles away is too expensive, consider how much money humans spend on war and weapons to harm others. It is disappointing to hear and read skeptics blaming God for the suffering involved in water shortages when they result from human ignorance, greed, and politics.

Genesis 2:6 tells us that a mist from the ground watered the planet in the creation process. Verses 10-14 describe four rivers coming from a source that flowed out of Eden. The area of the world where those rivers flow is part of the Fertile Crescent, which has a history of producing vast volumes of grain to provide food for humans and animals.

Do we have enough water?
The answer is yes. Anywhere on Earth can be an Eden if we merely take care of our planet’s God-given water supplies.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Parade Magazine May 22-29, 2022

By Their Fruits, You Will Know Them

By Their Fruits, You Will Know Them

Jesus Christ warned that false religious teachers could be identified by the results of following them. “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). The June 17, 2022 issue of The Week magazine contained several articles about problems in the world that are the fruit of false teachings.

One article addresses the application of the atheist “survival of the fittest” mentality to hospitality in Sweden. We have found that Christianity is not accepted very well in Sweden. That society prefers secular explanations of creation and a secular code of ethics. The article by Meryem Yebio on page 14 of The Week is titled, “Yes, Swedes Really Are So Unhospitable.” Yebio explains that by Swedish custom, when a family sits down for a meal, they will refuse to feed their guests. The defense of this behavior is that including guests would threaten their food supply.

Another article on page 15 has to do with a three-way conflict in India between secularists, Muslims, and Hindus relying on the teachings of their faiths. The dispute involves insults to Islam’s Prophet, the religious position of the Hindu ruling party Bharatiya Janata, and the Indian constitution. Finally, an article on the same page tells about water problems in Mexico, where the local wine production facility, with the backing of the area’s dominant religion, controls the water supply, leaving the poor without water.

Know them by their fruits as we see similar fruit problems in American denominations where materialism and racism have oppressed the poor and enhanced the rich. Some wealthy television preachers have flaunted a lifestyle few others can afford, including their contributors. No human-made religion has ever produced positive fruit, even though some claim to be “Christian.”

The fruit of Christ’s teaching includes sharing. Acts 2:41-47 describes the Church of the first century sharing what they had and even selling things their possessions to meet the needs of the less fortunate. Read chapters 5-7 of Matthew and see the difference between the teachings of Christ and what is happening in every other belief system on Earth. You can know them by their fruits.

Humans don’t have all the answers to a fruitful life. However, God does, and He has revealed those answers in His Word. So follow the teachings of Christ, and the fruit will be positive. But, on the other hand, following any human religion will only lead to negative results. You can see this in the current world situation and the struggles within America.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Transgender Explosion and Gender Definitions

Transgender Explosion and Gender Definitions

A Japanese man has decided he no longer wants to be a human and has chosen to be a dog named Toko. He had a professional dog costume designed for 2-million Japanese yen (more than $15,000). You can see him walking on four legs and rolling on the floor in YouTube videos. When inquirers asked why he wanted to be a dog, he said the question was difficult to answer. His case is an extreme example of people wanting to change who they are that has caused a transgender explosion and confusion of gender definitions.

The transgender explosion in the United States has now become a target for Bill Maher, Ricky Gervais, and other comedians who refer to it as “trans extremism.” Gervais says, “The worst thing you can say today is ‘Women don’t have penises.’” The comedians point out that the root of the issue is the belief that gender is purely an internal feeling often stimulated by peer pressure. The point of no return occurs when doctors perform surgery and prescribe hormones. Making irreversible decisions at age 14 opens the door to terrible problems when you become an adult.

What are the motivations for a gender change? Each case is different, and none of them is simple. For a male, the ability to dominate in female sports competition may be attractive. Others may have feelings of jealousy, inferiority, or distrust. That is especially true if they have experienced abuse. The breakdown of the family unit, the complete abandonment of morals, and the impact of the entertainment industry all contribute to the transgender explosion in America.

However, the transgender explosion is just another symptom of what happens when a culture discards God and His Word. Every past culture on this planet has gone through a similar path. After a period of growth and strength, humans start to rely on immorality, materialism, naturalism, and racism, and the culture eventually collapses. Will America learn from history or repeat it? Only Christianity offers any hope that we will not follow the civilizations that have lived and died in the past.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Week for June 10, 2022, page 12.

The Apostles of Jesus Used Evidence

The Apostles of Jesus Used Evidence - Peter preaching on Pentecost
Peter and the Apostles speaking on the Day of Pentecost

Yesterday, we said that we should not be afraid of evidence. We point out in our daily postings that solid evidence supports our faith in God, Jesus, and the Bible. We pointed out that Jesus used evidence. Today, we want to look at some examples of how the apostles of Jesus used evidence.

The Church began on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached to the crowd in the Temple. To convince the people of the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh and convict them of their sin of rejecting Him, Peter began by showing that the miracle of the apostles speaking in languages that they had not learned was evidence that their message was from God. Then he pointed out that Jesus of Nazareth had proven that He was from God by “miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through him” (Acts 2:22). Then in verses 23 and 32, we find Paul using the miracle of the resurrection as evidence that Jesus was the Messiah, God in the flesh.

On Pentecost, Paul spoke to the Jews who believed in the prophecies. He took a slightly different approach when he addressed the Greeks in Lystra. They did not have the Old Testament prophecies. Instead, they believed in many gods, even mistaking Paul and Barnabas for gods. Paul appealed to them on behalf of “the living God,” whose existence was evidenced by the fact that He “made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them” (Acts 14:15). Paul used a similar approach in speaking to the pagan philosophers in Athens. He spoke to them of the true God “who made the world and everything in it.” The evidence for God was in the things He had made, and Paul quoted Greek poets who had said, “For we are also his offspring.” (See Acts 17:22-29.) Paul also wrote similar words to the Romans, saying that all people can know there is a God by the things He has made (Romans 1;20).

Thus, we see that the apostles of Jesus used evidence to convince people of God’s existence and that Jesus is God. Likewise, Paul used eyewitness evidence when he wrote to the Corinthian church. First, he quoted an oral tradition of the Church that most likely originated within five years of Christ’s resurrection, telling about various people who witnessed Christ alive after the resurrection, including over 500 individuals at one time. Then Paul said that most of those people were still alive and could confirm what they had seen. Paul then testified that he also was an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 15;1-11.)

As we can see from these examples of Peter and Paul, the apostles of Jesus used evidence to testify to the existence of God, the deity of Jesus, and the truth of the resurrection. Evidence does not destroy faith. It reinforces faith. We can know that Jesus was God with us by His miracles. His greatest miracle, and the only one He predicted in advance, was the resurrection, and we have eyewitness testimony evidence for that. We can know there is a God by the things He has made, and science testifies to the fact that creation was fine-tuned for us to be here.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

Jesus Used Evidence, and We Do Too

Jesus Used Evidence with the two disciples on the Emmaus Road
Jesus speaking with two disciples on the Emmaus Road

You can look at atheist websites and see that they insist there is no evidence for the existence of God. In contrast to the atheist viewpoint, some Christian groups insist that faith is all you need, and evidence can even be harmful because it destroys the need for faith. We believe that there is extensive evidence for God’s existence, and we daily point that out to anyone willing to open their mind to it. To the Christians who have a negative attitude toward evidence, we want to point out that Jesus used evidence. Let’s examine how Jesus used evidence.

As Jesus spoke with his disciples for the last time, Philip asked Him to “show us the Father,” meaning God. Jesus responded by saying that anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father because He was in God, and God was in Him. He said that the words He spoke were the words of God, and His “works,” that is miracles, were the works of God. Then He said, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.” In other words, the miracles Jesus performed were evidence of God and proof that Jesus was God with them in the flesh. Therefore, they needed to examine the evidence shown by His actions. (See John 14:8-11.)

After His resurrection, Jesus spoke with two followers on the road to Emmaus, but they did not recognize who He was. They were sad and discouraged because the one they had admired as “a prophet powerful in action and speech before God and the people” had been crucified. Before they realized that He was Jesus, He told them that the fulfilled prophecies were evidence that the one they were talking about was the Messiah, the promised one of God. His point was that they needed to examine the evidence in prophecy. (See Luke 24:25-27.)

When Thomas doubted the testimony of the other disciples that Jesus was alive, what did Jesus do? He showed Thomas the wounds in His hands and side, and He challenged Thomas to examine the physical evidence. (See John 20:24-29.)

Jesus never said that you have to believe without evidence or in spite of the evidence. On the contrary, Jesus used evidence for God and for the fact that He was God with us. He was not afraid of evidence, and we should not be either. Tomorrow, we will look at some examples of how the apostles used evidence for God and Jesus.

— Roland Earnst © 2022