Media Hype About Exoplanets

Media Hype About Exoplanets

The media continue to make scientifically inaccurate claims to an unsuspecting public. Media hype about exoplanets suggests that life on Earth is not unique, and many habitable planets exist throughout the cosmos. A USA Today article on May 31, 2024, refers to exoplanet Gliese 12 b as a “super-Earth.” It quotes Dr. Masayuki Kuzuhara, assistant professor at the Astrobiology Center in Tokyo, saying, “Although we don’t know whether it possesses an atmosphere, we’ve been thinking of it as an exo-Venus with similar size and energy received from its star as our planetary neighbor in the solar system.” So, what are the facts about Gliese 12 b?

Gliese 12 b is very close to the star Gliese – just 7% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. That means the radiation from the parent star is sweeping across the planet, and because it orbits once every 12.8 days, any activity on the star will dramatically affect the planet. Gliese is a red dwarf star, not a star like our Sun. It is only 27% of the size of our Sun, with about 60% of the Sun’s surface temperature. Red dwarf stars do not emit wavelengths of light needed for life forms like us. Understand that life cannot exist when the only light reaching the planet is Xrays, UV, Infrared, and radio waves.

Considering all these factors, it is highly improbable that Gliese 12 b has an atmosphere, and the presence of water, oxygen, hydrogen, or ammonia has not been detected and is unlikely to be found. Despite the media hype about exoplanets, there is no scientific evidence to support the existence of life without these elements.

Critics will say, “Maybe the life forms out there are not like us and can survive under different kinds of radiation.” Life is defined as that which can move, breathe, respond to outside stimuli, and reproduce. If you want to speculate that life can be fire people or stone people, you can do so, but scientifically, such hypothetical forms do not qualify as “life.” There is no evidence anywhere that such forms exist.

When you know the facts of what life requires, you cannot logically believe that life forms different from ours can exist in the physical creation. Media hype about exoplanets suggests alternatives that have no scientific support. Science supports Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heaven (space) and the Earth.”

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: sci.news and iopscience.iop.org

Earth Is a Very Special Place

Earth Is a Very Special Place

As of May 9, 2024, astronomers have discovered 5,616 planets orbiting other stars. Of that number, 1794 are “gas giants” like Jupiter, 1,920 are Neptune-like planets, and 1,695 are “Super-Earths,” solid planets like Earth, but much larger. That means they will have denser atmospheres of gases that are inhospitable to life. That leaves 207 terrestrial planets, of which seven have unknown features. As the James Webb telescope gathers data, these numbers will change, but the message is already clear. Earth is a very special place, and most of the exoplanets we see are unsuitable for life of any kind. By life, we mean the usual biological definition – that which can move, breathe, respond to outside stimuli, and reproduce.

Hollywood, TV, and books have given us some creative fantasies about space travel, but there are specific limitations on where humans can go. The closest star to Earth is 4.3 light years away, meaning that if you could travel at the speed of light, which is impossible, it would take 4.3 years to reach that star. The closest major galaxy to our Milky Way is Andromeda, 2,480,000 light years from Earth. That means the light coming to us from Andromeda left there 2,480,000 years ago. Humans traveling to Andromeda at the speed of light would need that long to get there. The return to Earth would take just as long, and the Earth would have aged 4,960,000 years while they were gone, even though time would have slowed for the travelers.

All of this is to say that traveling to another galaxy and back is pure fantasy and not an option for any of us. It also says that alien visits to the Earth are another fantasy that may make good movies but are not supported by evidence or common sense. Some people suggest that we are not alone and that aliens are affecting human activities, but that is a fantasy we cannot seriously consider.

The ancient psalmist wrote, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalms 8:3-4). Another Psalm says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” (Psalms 19:1). The ancients wrote about what they could see, but now we can see so much more. We are blessed with a whole different picture of the size, power, and wisdom of God’s creation as we realize that Earth is a very special place.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Science News June 1, 2024, page 21.

Why Would God Do That?

Why Would God Do That?

A Christian friend was looking for help to answer his sons’ questions. One son is in high school, and the other is in college, and they questioned why God would tell the Israelites to “attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (1 Samuel 15: 2-3). Why would God do that – requiring total destruction of the Amalekite society?

I shared my thoughts on this question, but first, I suggested he go to our website, doesgodexist.tv, using this LINK. Then scroll down to video #7 in the series titled “Anticipating Some Objections.” Between 11:50 and 15:40 in that video, you will find a very brief answer to the objection of why God would command the killing of all of the Amalekites, including women, children, and livestock.

It seems that in addition to other sins, such as attacking the Israelites in Exodus 17, the Amalekites were sexually corrupt, even including bestiality. That resulted in diseases, even affecting the animals, for which there was no cure at that primitive time. If the Amalekites and their animals were allowed to live in the land God had promised to His people, they would morally corrupt the Israelites and even spread diseases.

God was preparing a people through which He would bring salvation to all people. Why would God do that? Because of His love. Allowing the Israelites to be corrupted by their neighbors could destroy God’s plan to redeem all humanity through Jesus Christ. The gospel came into the world because God had prepared a people who believed in the one true God who created all things. Any other religious system would not work to prepare people to accept Christ’s message.

The Israelites failed to follow God’s instructions to the letter, and that failure returned to haunt them. (See 1 Samuel 30.) Paganism corrupted even Israel’s kings. However, God allowed His chosen people to suffer captivity and punishment. Why would God do that? Allowing His people to suffer eventually led to the Jewish people at the time of Jesus being completely cured of paganism. They had other faults, but they refused to worship any pagan gods. They had the prophecies of the Old Testament and the miracles and message of Jesus to cause many of them to believe and be baptized into Christ’s body, the Church. Although many rejected Christ, those who accepted the gospel became powerful witnesses to the pagans of their day to the point where they “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). (Actually, they turned it right side up.)

The Church today would not exist if God had not taken harsh steps that may seem immoral to our modern Christian sensitivities. I believe that without the influence of Christianity in the past two millennia, people would have destroyed civilization and the planet before now. As people reject God today, we are on the verge of doing that. Today, God does not command us to save the world by destroying our enemies but by bringing them into God’s family through His Church. Why would God do that? Because He loves all people. When you consider the entire history from God’s perspective and realize His ultimate purpose, you realize it was because of His love that He commanded the destruction of the Amalekites.

— Roland Earnst © 2024

A Time to Honor Fathers

A Time to Honor Fathers

Father’s Day is celebrated in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and India. In the U.S., Father’s Day began in West Virginia on July 5, 1908, as a one-time commemoration of the death of 360 men which left about 1,000 children fatherless in the worst coal mining accident in U.S. history. Many local communities had their own Father’s Day celebrations, but it did not become a national holiday until 1966. That’s when President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as a time to honor fathers. President Richard Nixon followed that in 1972.

The role of being a father is of great importance to Christians. The Old Testament concept of “Father” was simply an “ancestor.” In the New Testament, the Greek word for father is “pater” and was a title of honor. Ephesians 6:2 tells children, “You must honor your father and mother, which is an important commandment with a promise.” Verse 4 tells fathers, “Do not rouse your children to resentment but bring them up with Christian discipline and instruction.” The teachings of Jesus changed society from matriarchal, where women raised the children, to a system in which fathers take an essential role in child training.

In Philippians 2:22, Paul writes, “But you know that Timothy has proven himself to be like a son in fellowship with his father and has shared my servitude to proclaim the gospel.” In Colossians 3:21, Paul writes, “Fathers, do not fret and harass your children lest their spirit should be broken.” As a public school science teacher, I saw the struggle that kids without fathers had to overcome. Their mothers did their best, but a fatherless child has no father image to relate to. Boys had no example set before them, and girls did not have a valid male image to relate to as they grew up.

Too many men do not have the courage or strength to be a father. Often, a man who has fathered children runs away and leaves the job of raising the child to the mother. As the father of three children, I know how difficult it is to be a father. Father’s Day is a time to honor fathers and reflect on our relationship with God, who wants to be a father to each of us. God desires us to reflect His love back to Him. Remember that “God so loved the world (us), that He sent His one and only Son into the world not to condemn the world but to save the world” (John 3:16-17).

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Coordinated Vigilance

Coordinated Vigilance in the family

Research shows that rabbitfish in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef forage for food in pairs using “coordinated vigilance” to avoid predators. The rabbitfish take turns foraging for algae in reef crevices while the partner is on guard duty in “an upright vigilance position.” Researchers said, “Both behaviors are strongly coordinated, and partners regularly alternate their positions.” The researchers say this reciprocity is “thought to require a suite of complex cognitive abilities.” In other words, how could fish that “lack complex social and cognitive skills” have evolved this system?

Scientists have studied cooperative behavior in some mammals and a few birds. Teamwork in fish is almost nonexistent, but God has placed this unique genetic value in rabbitfish. This is especially interesting when you look at humans. In Genesis 2:18-24, God created a helper for Adam. The Hebrew word “ezer” used in these verses does not indicate that woman is inferior to man or of lesser importance. The idea is that a woman can do what a man cannot do for himself. Like the rabbitfish and other life forms, coordinated vigilance is built into the genetics of various living things to allow them to survive.

The New Testament passages Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 indicate that fathers have a role to play in the family in relationship to children. The concept is that God intends for coordinated vigilance with husband and wife to be the foundation of the family. In human societies, when coordinated vigilance is not practiced, the whole structure of culture falls apart. This does not bode well for societies around the world today.

Our nation’s violence and struggles will only get worse as society distances itself from God and His instructions. We promote the Bible as the word of God because the evidence shows that when people follow biblical instructions, society works. When people fail to follow them, the culture disintegrates.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: nih.gov

Monarch Butterfly Migration

Monarch Butterfly Migration and Generations
Monarch Caterpillar on Milkweed
Monarch Butterfly Migration and Generations
Monarch Butterfly

Some people have asked questions that show confusion about monarch butterfly migration. The idea that one butterfly migrates from northern latitudes to Mexico and back is incorrect. The monarch’s life begins in March and April as eggs on milkweed plants. They hatch into tiny caterpillars in about four days. After two weeks, the full-grown caterpillar will attach itself using silk to make a chrysalis. In about ten days, a butterfly will emerge and fly away. The butterfly will feed on flowers and fruit for two to six weeks. This first-generation monarch will die after laying eggs for the second generation.

The four-stage life cycle of the second, third, and fourth generations is the same as what we just outlined, but the fifth generation is different. The fifth generation is born in September and October, but the butterflies don’t die after two to six weeks. They complete the monarch butterfly migration to warmer climates in Texas, California, and Mexico. There, they hibernate for six to eight months, and the whole process starts again.

We have talked about hummingbirds, where one individual makes the journey from northern areas to subtropical climates. In the case of monarch butterfly migration, the journey involves five generations. How they make such a journey with five individuals who never see each other is the object of several studies. It seems rather obvious that their DNA has a built-in GPS, allowing this incredible journey. No one would suggest that a GPS is a product of blind mechanistic chance. There has to be a design to enable such a system to work. That design is the product of an intelligence that is not only built into the GPS but also the instructions for what to do in each of the four steps of this remarkable insect’s life.

God is the designer of the monarch butterfly migration system, and the design features we are coming to understand reflect God’s wisdom and purpose. What a great time we live in, to be able to understand the complexities of life and yet know there is still much for us to learn.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Data from Old Farmer’s Almanac

Does God Answer Prayers?

Does God Answer Prayers?

If you have not read yesterday’s post, please do so. Atheist challenges to prayer are very vocal and common. Madalyn Murray O’Hair stated the atheist position well: “No God ever gave any man anything, nor ever answered any prayer at any time – nor ever will.” God’s response to this statement is well stated in James 4:1 -3, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Does God answer prayers?

Both atheists and believers have many misunderstandings about prayer:
#1) God cannot eliminate our purpose for existing by answering a prayer that takes away the human ability to choose between good and evil.

#2) Galatians 6:7 tells us, “A man reaps what he sows.” There will be consequences when we do what God has told us not to do. If you jump off a cliff, you can’t expect God to prevent you from hitting the bottom.

#3) As humans, we don’t always know what to ask for, and we don’t know the collateral damage of things we ask for. Garth Brooks has a wonderful song titled “Unanswered Prayer.” Listen to the words and be aware of their message.

#4) We tend to experience an answer to prayer by assuming the answer was a product of chance or human wisdom. Does a medical cure for something mean that God had no role in the healing? Most doctors will tell you that they don’t cure diseases. They help the body fight off the cause.

#5) God doesn’t do for us what we can do for ourselves.

What would be the result if God answered every human whim and desire? I was in a church service where a farmer prayed for rain. Later, another member prayed it wouldn’t rain on his daughter’s wedding. During the Civil War, people on both sides prayed for victory for their side.

Does God answer prayers? Most 12-step participants, most of us who have sought a purpose for existing, most of us who have prayed for personal peace and comfort, and most of us who have struggled with our approaching death can tell you that prayer helps in obvious ways. Our misunderstanding of why God wants us to pray prevents us from comprehending the value of prayer.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Why Didn’t God Answer My Prayer?

Why Didn’t God Answer My Prayer?

It is interesting that the more vocal atheists of our day spend a lot of time talking about prayer. Many of them became atheists because when they were younger, God didn’t answer a prayer as they thought He should. The death of a family member, especially a mother or father, is the most common story we have heard as a reason for not believing in God. The common phrase is, “Why didn’t God answer my prayer? If He really exists, why did He let my child (or mother, father, spouse) die?’

The songbook we use at our worship time contains 45 songs about prayer. Eleven of them promise that God will take care of you and not deny anything you ask. Skeptics have said the song “God Will Take Care of You” by Civilla and Walter Martin “is an outright lie.” Atheists often quote the line, “Nothing you ask will be denied.”

The other side of this issue is what we should legitimately pray for. My wife recently lost a hearing aid. She prayed for several days about the loss, and just when she had given up, the hearing aid appeared on the seat of our car. Does God micromanage our lives to help us find lost objects?

For any Bible promise, we must ask what was said, who said it, why, and how the people hearing it would have understood it. In passages like Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you …” He goes on to say, “Your Father in heaven will give good gifts to those who ask for them.” These passages and many others tell Christians that God will answer prayers. The reality is that physical answers do not always come to us, at least not as we expect.

When my son was born, we had great joy, but we soon realized that he had some medical problems. We prayed for his vision problems, and the doctors told us that he would be able to see well enough to function – but he became blind. We prayed that he would have the intelligence to overcome blindness, but it turned out he was mentally challenged. We prayed his body would be strong, but we learned he had cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and was schizophrenic. I went through a “why me” stage and a period of anger at God for allowing my son to have all these problems. I asked, “Why didn’t God answer my prayers?” My atheist parents attempted to get the state to remove the child from our home. That alienated me from them for many years.

One aspect of prayer that many never understand is that God knows the future. He answers prayers in ways that have eternal implications that allow us to have an unintended purpose in life. My experience opened doors that I didn’t even know existed. My son’s problems have molded and shaped me into a radically different person. I have a mission and a purpose in life that I would never have had without the way my prayers were answered. Perhaps the question should be, “Why didn’t God answer my prayer in the way I expected? We will continue with more thoughts on prayer tomorrow.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Note: The story of my son is available in a book titled “Timothy, My Son and My Teacher,” available directly from our ministry or powervine.store.

God Used Two Methods

God Used Two Methods to bring everything into existence

In the Spring 2024 issue of God and Nature, Dr. John Carpenter has an excellent article on God’s two methods for bringing things into existence. Dr. Carpenter, a Hebrew and Greek scholar, brings a great understanding of two Hebrew terms in Genesis. Genesis uses the terms “bara” and “asah” to show that God used two methods to bring everything into existence.

The first method that Genesis refers to, “bara,” is creating the physical world and time into existence from nothing. Proverbs 8:22-23 describes this as wisdom and says, “The Lord brought me forth as the first of His works before His deeds of old. I was formed long ages ago at the very beginning when the world came to be.” The Hebrew word “bara” is never used to refer to something humans can do. We find it in Genesis 1:1. It is not used again until Genesis 1:27 to describe humans as being in the image of God, referring to our spiritual makeup. Genesis 2:3 describes the two methods God used: “And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created (bara) and made (asah).”

That brings us to the second method God used to bring things into existence. “Asah” refers to things that both God and humans can do. That is to take what has already been created and change it to something new. Everything from Genesis 1:2 to Genesis 1:26 involves God making, not creating. The only other Hebrew word that refers to this process is “yatsar” used in Genesis 2:7. That term describes what a potter would do and is used here to refer to God forming the man’s human body, not his spiritual makeup in God’s image).

God used two methods to “create” and “make.” Humans have duplicated what God has done in making things, including work in genetics and genome projects. What sets humans apart from everything else is not our physical makeup. The difference between human DNA and other primates’ DNA is not huge, but human spiritual makeup is a huge difference.

Unfortunately, many denominations refuse to take the Bible literally and twist it to fit their creeds. Science and the Bible agree 100% in what they say, but bad science and bad theology do exist. No one has all the answers, but the evidence is there for all to see and study. Listen to God and not to human theologies, which were an issue in Paul’s day and are an even greater issue today.

In our booklet “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word,” we echo the same point that the Genesis account, with its use of “bara” and “asah,” demonstrates that God used two methods to bring everything into existence. This understanding, when coupled with a literal interpretation of the Bible, reveals a remarkable harmony between science and the Bible, providing reassurance of their compatibility.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: John B. Carpenter in God and Nature, a publication of the American Scientific Affiliation, spring 2024

The Bombardier Beetle Takes Aim

The Bombardier Beetle Takes Aim

The bombardier beetle’s defense mechanism is a fascinating display of complexity. It defends itself by shooting a very hot (212 degrees F) stream of acidic material at an invading predator. The beetle mixes hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone, which would explode in ordinary situations, but the bombardier beetle adds an inhibitor to control the reaction. A catalyst breaks down the peroxide, and a chemical known as peroxidase breaks down the hydroquinones so that the explosion does not occur.

The bombardier beetle has twin tail tubes that swivel like a gun turret to aim the hot, acidic mixture at enemies. Slow-motion photography has shown that the chemistry occurs in separate small bursts, so the beetle is not a one-shot wonder but can shoot repeatedly at a predator. This contrasts with skunks, which usually have one shot and require an extended time to replenish the odor fluid.

While many have proposed elaborate evolutionary theories to explain the bombardier beetle’s defense mechanism, The bombardier beetle’s defense mechanism is a fascinating display of complexity. It defends itself by shooting a very hot (212 degrees F) stream of the concept of intelligent design as a plausible alternative explanation.

Like all forms of life on our planet, the bombardier beetle has been designed with specialized equipment to survive in a world of predation. Proverbs 8 talks about the wisdom of God, and Romans 1:20 speaks of living things as a demonstration that allows us to “know there is a God through the things He has made.” The bombardier beetle seems to be a good example of both of these statements.

— John N. Clayton © 2024