Racist Attitudes and the Facts

Racist Attitudes and the Facts

The history of modern civilization has been marred by human power struggles using racist attitudes to promote their agenda. European Enlightenment scholars decided that humans should be divided into discrete groups as some animal species are. They attached meaning to skin color using cultural stereotypes that included temperament, intelligence, and behavior. Slave owners used this concept to justify enslaving African people. Nazis in Germany sought to define a Germanic people based on racial exceptionalism.

Racist attitudes have even shown up in medicine. In 1793, a yellow fever epidemic struck Philadelphia. White physicians claimed that black people were immune to yellow fever even as it killed many blacks. In 2016, a study of 200 medical students at the University of Virginia found that half of them believed there were biological differences between blacks and whites. Those differences included the belief that black people have thicker skin and higher pain tolerance than whites. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, some reports said that black people couldn’t catch the virus, and a few months later, more articles came out saying that blacks were more susceptible to it.

The biblical discussion about race is entirely different from the power struggle that has gone on for a very long time. Genesis 3:20 tells us that Adam called his wife Eve “because she was the mother of all living.” That means that all races go back to Eve, and we are thus all related. In Acts 17:26, Paul told the intellectuals in Athens that God “has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth…” These passages emphasize the oneness of all humans. 

In a National Geographic article, Angela Saini wrote that science has shown “that we are genetically more alike than any other primate species and that individual difference far outweighs any group difference.” Saini warns against the narrative that “searches the margins of our genomes for the tiny statistical differences between populations, consciously or unconsciously playing to those who seek to divide us in other ways.”

Racist attitudes are not justified by biology or the Bible. Racism is a cultural activity, and it opposes the Bible in loud and clear terms. Those who claim to be Christians and yet practice racial discrimination need to read their Bibles and not listen to Satan’s agents sowing hatred and division among the human family. 

— John N. Clayton © 2021

References: “The Story of Human Difference” by Angela Saini in National Geographic , September 2021, pages 15-17 and American Journal of Public Health

COVID Frauds and Scams

COVID Frauds and Scams - Quercetin

I never cease to be amazed at how willing people are to inflict hardship, pain, and death on their fellow human beings. Recently, COVID frauds and scams have increased dramatically. Jim Bakker, who has a long history of bringing discredit to Christianity, was selling “colloidal silver dietary supplements” as a cure for the coronavirus “within 12 hours.” Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO, was promoting oleandrin as a therapeutic for COVID-19, even though the FDA says there is no data to support that claim.

Frequently medical “experts” back cures for COVID. Just because someone holds a medical degree or has recognition as a medical expert does not mean they won’t promote something that doesn’t work. A current example is Dr. Joseph Mercola, who claims that vitamin C, vitamin D, and quercetin help cure COVID. He also suggested that intentionally exposing yourself to the virus after consuming his supposed immunity-boosting supplement is the best protection against COVID-19. Mercola is also a major supporter of the anti-vaccine movement and has promoted vaccine-related conspiracy theories.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have condemned and contradicted these COVID frauds and scams, but anti-science mindsets find a receptive audience. Science and faith are friends, not enemies. In 1 Timothy 6:20, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Guard the truths committed to your trust and turn a deaf ear to claimed knowledge and empty worldly chatter and to the objections of pseudo-science which have caused some to go astray from the faith.”

Sadly, religious figures sometimes join in with medical scammers to cause hurt to their constituents. If we stick to God’s Word and continue to look at the evidence, we can avoid getting sick while preventing vulnerable people from being deceived. Jesus taught that we could identify those who are telling the truth by the fruit of what they do and teach. The evidence is that vaccines can help us stay well, and the claims of alternative cures can harm us.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from The Center for Science in the Public Interest April 9, 2021 newsletter.

Collateral Damage from COVID-19

Collateral Damage from COVID-19

In the past year, we have endured the sickness that the virus caused, resulting in the deaths of loved ones, the isolation of family members, and economic losses. Recent studies by Gallup, the COVID-19 Consortium, the American Medical Association, and the Centers for Disease Control have shown a substantial amount of collateral damage from COVID-19. Reports now being released by these groups show:

1) The suspension of in-person schooling has resulted in poor learning, school dropouts, and social isolation, especially in lower-income groups.

2) In a three-month period, 78% of cancers were never detected due to missed screenings. That means 750,000 to over a million new cancer cases missed over a nine-month period.

3) People being afraid to go to the hospital has resulted in a massive increase in pediatric illnesses, heart attacks, and strokes.

4) The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a four-fold increase in depression, a three-fold increase in anxiety symptoms, and a doubling of suicide ideation.

5) The American Medical Association (AMA) reported an increase in drug overdoses and suicides.

6) Cases of domestic and child abuse have “skyrocketed,” while many child abuse cases have gone unreported because they are usually detected through schools.

A significant factor in these reports is that specific economic and racial groups dominate the most affected areas. Recovery from the pandemic will depend on churches and ministries addressing many of these areas, but Government rules for gathering have prevented many Christian groups from helping the needy.

We hope that we have all learned some things from this horrible experience. Christian involvement can help create a cooperative effort to heal the divisions and minister to the needs of those dramatically injured by both the virus and the collateral damage from COVID-19.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from Imprimis, February 2021 – available at imprimis.hillsdale.edu.

Do Mutations Show Poor Design of Life?

Do Mutations Show Poor Design of Life?
SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus with Spike Proteins

During the virus pandemic, we hear a lot about mutations. Do mutations show the poor design of life? Skeptics use the flawed design argument as proof that there is no creator God.

Several misunderstandings are involved here. First, a virus is not living according to the usual definition of life. To be called living, something has to be able to move, breathe, respond to outside stimuli, and reproduce. Viruses don’t breathe, nor can they move or even reproduce on their own.

The mutations that are causing the COVID-19 virus to change have to do with spike proteins that allow the entry of a virus into cells. One recent mutation called E484K made enough of a change in the spike protein to allow a new attack on human cells. You can sort of compare a spike protein to a key to open a door into a cell. Various animal cells open to different spike proteins. The Journal of Medical Internet Research reported that “The ever-increasing interaction between humans and animals is one leading factor in facilitating the emergence of new pathogens.”

This is an oversimplification, but the point is that the body’s design keeps us alive. Medical science is advanced enough to understand this design and to do something about it. Scientists have been studying this group of viruses for many years, making it possible to develop a vaccine in less than a year instead of several years. It is only because we understand our bodies’ design and how the cells work that we now have a defense against COVID.

Do mutations show poor design of life? The answer is “no.” There are two messages here. One is to get the vaccine whenever it is available to you. The second is to understand the incredible design of living things. Once again, we are reminded of God’s design in creation. We are not a product of blind chance.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

COVID Effect on the Natural World

COVID Effect on the Natural World
Empty Street in Miami Beach during lockdown March 2020

One interesting facet of the pandemic has been the COVID effect on the natural world. Worldwide reports have shown that animal life reacted to the reduced human activity. Here are some of the interesting cases:

1) In the Welsh village of Llandudno, a herd of Kashmiri goats descended from the Great Orme Mountain. The goats settled into the town munching on hedges and eating flowers and vegetables as there were no people around to run them off.
2) Dolphins showed up in Sardinia’s canals even though the media erroneously reported that they were in Venice’s canals.
3) Elephants invaded a Tea garden in China’s Yunnan province and became intoxicated after drinking corn wine.
4) Sparrows in San Francisco changed their song, although the reasons for this are not clear. The birds sang more softly and began hitting lower notes.
5) Raccoons shifted their activity periods from being nocturnal to operating in broad daylight.

All of this tells us that these animals have built-in systems of behavior that human activities have altered. When humans are not present, the animals return to the behavioral patterns of their ancestors. COVID reduced some of the negative aspects of human activity as well. In the spring of 2020, there was a 17% drop in carbon dioxide emissions as people reduced their driving.

God has built into the natural world a strong sense of behavior patterns, but most animals have the flexibility to adapt their behavior. Humans also can adapt to act in ways that benefit the world in which we live. We are not programmed to selfishness and to a way of life that destroys what God has given us. Now that we see the COVID effect on the natural world let us learn from this experience to become better stewards of God’s blessings.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from Discover magazine, January/February 2021, page 30-32.

Flu Cases Are Down

Flu Cases Are Down

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) released its report on the flu cases in the early part of this winter. They reported that in the United States, cases of the flu were down 98%. Almost all of this report’s data was gathered before any COVID vaccine was available, although regular flu vaccinations were the highest on record. However, flu shots alone are not enough to explain why flu cases are down so much.

The CDCP attributes the decrease in flu cases to the following:

1) Mask wearing.

2) Fewer people traveling

3) COVID prevention measures such as working from home and school closings

4) Flu shots

It would appear that flu cases are down because of some of the things we don’t like about the COVID-19 pandemic. We should keep that in mind to say healthy in the future.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

References: NBCNews.com and the Week, January 22, 2021.

Ignore the Evidence or Accept the Evidence

Ignore the Evidence or Accept the Evidence

One thing that impacts an apologetic program like ours is the attitude that evidence doesn’t count. We have seen that with COVID-19 during the past year. Some people are selective in whether they will accept the evidence or if they will ignore the evidence.

Nearly everybody in this country has, for many years, trusted the medical establishment. When we break a bone or have cancer, we go to a doctor or hospital. Most of us go to the medical establishment for problems such as arthritis, gastrointestinal issues, tetanus shots, and any number of pain issues. When the coronavirus pandemic began, many people chose to ignore the evidence presented by the medical establishment. As people started to die from the virus and hospitals were overrun, some people believed the whole pandemic was a hoax. Now that there are vaccines, people choose not to trust them.

This attitude of choosing to ignore the evidence if it inconveniences us has caused many people to reject God. I remember vividly when a young man came up to me after a lectureship at Purdue University. He said, “I can’t argue with anything you presented in your lecture, and I know the evidence for the existence of God is huge, but I’m not about to quit sleeping with my girlfriend.” That attitude has produced a society that promotes “survival of the fittest” and refuses to consider any possibility they should follow the Christian lifestyle.

The sad thing is the result of all this. I have friends who have lost a child, a parent, or a close friend and who stand there weeping as they say, “Why did this have to happen?” It didn’t have to happen!! How many of us are going to say as we stand in judgment before God and say, “Why do I have to spend eternity separated from God and everything good?” It doesn’t have to happen!! In Matthew 25:41-46, Jesus paints a picture of that very situation, and He simply reminds those who are lost that they refused to accept the evidence for God in the things they saw around them during their life.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Behavior Has Consequences

Behavior Has Consequences

There are many long-term consequences for the things we do in life. In the Old Testament, we see a constant principle at work, that when humans engaged in things contrary to God’s will, there were ultimate harmful consequences. Moses said it concisely in Numbers 32:23: “… you have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.” Our behavior has consequences.

Many times, the Old Testament tells about long-lasting consequences because someone sinned. David’s family suffered for years because of His sin with Bathsheba. Unfortunately, innocent people can be afflicted because of the sins of someone who lived long before them. The COVID pandemic has taken place mainly because people failed to follow good health practices and the medical establishment’s advice. I have personally seen that play out in the life of my son, Timothy.

Tim lived in a group home with two other men who, like him, were afflicted with past medical problems. The organization running the home took care of the men, providing meals, laundry, bathing, and medical care. Tim suffered blindness, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, schizophrenia, and mental disability, but all of those conditions had been static for years.

In early November, one of the caregivers tested positive for the virus, and two weeks later, Tim became ill and tested positive. His condition deteriorated rapidly, and he was hospitalized. After a week of treatment, including being on a respirator, Tim was released from the hospital and sent back to his apartment. The COVID virus had weakened him to the point where he could not take care of himself. He had to be fed, and he couldn’t dress himself or go to the bathroom on his own. His speech had deteriorated to the point where it was almost impossible to understand him.

After two weeks of attempts to help him resume some of the normal self-care, it became clear that he was progressively weakening and had to go back to the hospital. This time he didn’t have the COVID virus, but it had catalyzed the muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, and he was in serious trouble. At this writing, Tim is in a nursing home where he spent Christmas, unable to sit up or eat any food that is not pureed. Tim is an innocent victim of the mistakes others have made and evidence that behavior has consequences.

It’s a mistake to believe that if I don’t see immediate negative consequences of my actions, they must be okay. That applies in all areas—not just COVID-19. We see it in decisions involving child-raising, marriage, sexual relationships, money management, and social relationships. James says it well when he reminds us that our lives are but a vapor lasting only for a very short time. (See James 4:13-17.) We need to be consistent in conduct, conforming to the lifestyle to which God calls us. Because behavior has consequences, failure to do so results in problems for ourselves and others.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Escape the Human Noise

 Escape the Human Noise

I have always been fascinated that sometimes Jesus wanted to be by Himself, away from the crowds and even His disciples. He was God in the flesh, but He needed to escape the human noise. There are times in my life when I just want silence. There is an island on Saganaga Lake in Ontario where my family built a cabin. I have always loved going there because all you can hear is the wind and the waves.

The December 2020 issue of Scientific American carried an interesting article about human noise. Amazingly, human noise produces seismic vibrations that can be measured by instruments as deep as 400 meters below Earth’s surface. Scientific studies of seismic vibrations in 172 locations worldwide showed that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the volume of human noise fell by 50% in some places. In rural areas, the noise level depression was even lower. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the human noise level fell on Sundays, but it has declined and stayed depressed since the pandemic began. When you add up the noise of trains, buses, planes, and cars, the noise level is very high. It is not enough to cause earthquakes, but it does have other effects.

The big question for science to answer is, What effect noise has on not just humans, but on the world as a whole? Are animals affected by the noise levels we create? How does noise affect a child’s ability to concentrate? Do noise levels affect the concentration and productivity of workers in a factory? Are some forms of mental illness affected or even caused by our exposure to noise?

Noise has a role in the Old Testament. In Joshua 6, we see that noise played a role in the fall of the walls of Jericho. Many passages talk about various noises in a variety of situations. Some passages emphasize the need for quiet. Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God …” After the noise of wind, earthquake, and fire, God spoke to Elijah in a soft whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13). In the New Testament, Paul commends the Christians who study “to be quiet, and to do your own business (1 Thessalonians 4:11).”

All of us need to escape the human noise of this world and have a quiet time to focus on God and quietly glorify Him.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Does It Matter What People Believe?

Does It Matter What People Believe about Coronavirus?

For some of us, the tragedy of COVID-19 has really hit home. As I write this, my son is in the local hospital, fighting what may be a losing battle with the disease. As we have struggled to get Tim the help he needs, we have run into people who deny there is a pandemic. Many Americans believe that scams, lies, and conspiracies are behind claims that we are in a pandemic. Does it matter what people believe?

The University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center published the results of studies of what Americans believe about the pandemic in the journal Social Science and Medicine. According to their research, over 17% of all Americans believe that the pharmaceutical industry created the virus to boost drug and vaccine sales. Also, 24% believe that the government exaggerated the virus’s danger to damage Donald Trump politically.

There is no evidence to support those beliefs, and those of us who have family members dying from the virus certainly don’t endorse those claims. The Bible describes what happens when people change “the truth of God into a lie, and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator.” The result is a culture in which people “do not retain God in their knowledge.” Instead, they are filled with “all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, …” (Romans 1:24-32)

Does it matter what people believe? Read those verses and then read the newspaper or watch the evening news. As faith in God and belief in the Bible have decreased, the use of lying and deceit has grown. We live in a society where lies and deception are a way of life. This ministry exists to change that by convincing people there is a God and that the Bible is a reliable guide to how we should live. Does it matter what people believe? Yes, it does matter.

— John N. Clayton © 2020