Diversity of Life on Earth

Diversity of Life on Earth

We read reports of scientific research from all over the globe. Scientists are discovering how various forms of life exist on this planet. There is a diversity of life on Earth, even in environments where you wouldn’t expect life to survive.

One such environment is in the deepest part of the ocean, where animals must live in total darkness. The design that enables them to survive with no light from the Sun or Moon is bioluminescence. These animals generate their own light so they can find each other and locate prey. There is a whole chain of life in the darkness of the deep ocean, and we are learning that this ecosystem absorbs greenhouse gases that affect the atmosphere for land creatures.

We see this kind of balance in oceans of the past. Long ago, sea animals were large enough to maintain balance in the sea by eating tremendous quantities of food. For example, a marine reptile carnivore known as ichthyosaur was up to 66 feet (20 meters) long. When the asteroid strike wiped out the giant creatures, including the dinosaurs and ichthyosaurs, the smaller life forms survived and established a new food chain.

Scientists are discovering unique designs that enable animals to survive what would appear to be impossible conditions. For example, how can a boa constrictor breathe as it squeezes the life out of prey and ingests it? Why doesn’t the act of compression force the air out of the snake, suffocating it? The answer is that boas have 200 pairs of ribs and some of the ribs squeeze the prey while others are designed to allow the snake to breathe.

The diversity of life on Earth allows specialized equipment designed for living in any environment. Even humans are diverse. Modern pygmies are well-designed to live in a jungle environment. Fossils of a hominin named Homo naledi tell us that ancient small humans existed in environments with fewer resources. Most of what we know about them comes from a burial chamber found in a cave in South Africa.

We see the diversity of life on Earth today, even in humans able to survive in challenging environments. Racial characteristics in humans offer survival benefits in the diverse habitats of our planet, and they are not a basis for discrimination. We need to understand that diversity in animals and humans is an expression of God’s wisdom and design for life everywhere on Earth.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: Saturday Evening Post May/June 2022 (pages 36-39); The Week March 18 (page 21) and April 15, 2022 (page 21); USA Today and South Bend Tribune for May 2, 2022; and Archaeology for May/June 2022 (pages 9-10).

An Overlooked Role of Birds and Mammals

An Overlooked Role of Birds and Mammals

Various data sources show massive evidence of climate change. The melting of the ice sheets, the warming of the Pacific Ocean, and the increase of weather anomalies affect all of us. Some of these changes have to do with flooding and the frequency of storms. Others affect our food supply where there is an overlooked role of birds and mammals.

While the effect on human activity is pretty dramatic, the natural changes in living things in the environment are usually less noticeable. The reason is that the design of life anticipates that climate will change from time to time, even if humans have no role in that change. If a plant species faces environmental change threatening its existence, it will disperse its seeds into a different place where the environment is more suitable.

The often overlooked role of birds and mammals is that they are the primary agents for seed dispersal. The National Science Foundation helped fund a study showing that more than half of all plant species rely on animals to disperse their seeds. The NSF website said, “Plants that rely on seed dispersers can face extinction if there are too few animals to move their seeds far enough to keep pace with changing conditions.”

One of the things that plant-eating dinosaurs did was
to spread the seeds of the plants they ate. This means that pruning was not the only benefit of plant-eaters, but seed spreading was also significant. As the climate has changed in the past, animals have spread the seeds over a vast geographic area allowing the incredible diversity we see in plants today.

This kind of research has a variety of practical uses.
It reminds us of the overlooked role of birds and mammals in dispersing seeds in the environment. The study showed a 60% reduction due to the loss of seed-spreading birds and mammals.

We see evidence of God’s wisdom in designing birds and mammals with a diet that allows spreading the seeds of the plants they eat. That design helps to moderate the effect of climate change. God told Adam and Eve to take care of the Garden (Genesis 2:15), and we need to understand our responsibility in that. The fact that creation’s design allows life to survive climate changes is a testimony to God’s wisdom.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: National Science Foundation website and the journal Science

An Asteroid and Snakes

An Asteroid and Snakes

There is an interesting connection between an asteroid and snakes. Evolutionists have often believed in uniformitarianism–the idea that no process has shaped planet Earth in the past that is not going on today. The problem with uniformitarianism is that a great deal of evidence shows that it’s not true. The most accepted example is that when dinosaurs ruled the planet, an asteroid strike caused a mass extinction of 76% of all plant and animal life.

A research study by the University of Bath in England has shown that one form of life did well through and after the asteroid collision. That life-form was snakes. There were small snakes before the asteroid strike, but large snakes were easy prey for dinosaurs and simply did not survive. After the asteroid collision, small snakes hid underground and survived for a time without food.

When the snakes emerged, they didn’t face competition from other animals. With their newfound freedom, they spread throughout the world. Today, snakes live on every continent on Earth except Antarctica. Catherine Klein, the lead researcher in examining the snake fossil record, has shown that large snakes did not appear again until all the dinosaurs were gone. She told the BBC, “It’s likely that without this asteroid impact, snakes wouldn’t be where they are today.”

The evidence for the asteroid collision grows every year, and it comes from many different disciplines. Uniformitarianism is not true, and yet a gradual evolution of all life depends on it. Evolution would have to start over after events like the asteroid strike that wiped out massive amounts of life on the planet.

You have probably never thought of a connection between an asteroid and snakes. Current theories of evolution have significant problems with a lack of positive evidence and a growing amount of counter-evidence. God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes He has used catastrophes to shape the Earth for human existence.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: The Week, October 1, 2021, page 21.

Story of Earth’s History and Life

Chicxulub Story of Earth's History and Life

In the Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico, the Chicxulub Crater tells a story of Earth’s history and life. The fundamental assumption of neo-Darwinism is that the only processes operating on Earth in the past are processes going on today. This principle, called uniformitarianism, doesn’t work if there have been radical changes on Earth in the past. A catastrophe that wiped out all life would mean that life would have to start over again. Evolutionists have devised elaborated theories to dance around this issue, such as Stephen Jay Gould’s punctuated equilibrium.

A study released in the journal Science Advances on February 24, 2021, involves an exhaustive study of the Chicxulub Crater. This crater is 125 miles (201 km) wide and dates back to the time of the dinosaurs. Many scientists suggested that an asteroid collision produced the crater. Evolutionists resisted that explanation because of the catastrophic effect it would have, and certainly, it is not happening today.

In 2016, researchers took drill cores at Chicxulub to a depth of 2600 feet (792 m). Analysis of the cores has now produced an iron-clad case that an asteroid collision created the Chicxulub Crater. Iridium is an element found in most asteroids, and scientists found massive amounts of it in the center of the crater, with decreasing amounts as one moves away from the center.

In addition to the drill core at Chicxulub, scientists have found iridium in geologic layers worldwide. That indicates tiny fragments of the asteroid were blown into the atmosphere in large quantities blocking the Sun’s light for several years, or even decades. Independent studies have shown that Earth’s surface temperatures dropped by as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C), meaning that any dinosaur could not have survived.

This research tells a story of Earth’s history and life that we suggest shows how God was preparing the planet for human life to exist. Suggesting that humans and dinosaurs could have lived together indicates ignorance of the nature of life in the age of the dinosaurs. Not only was Earth’s surface temperature high, allowing massive deposits of coal and other resources for later humans, but the dinosaurs were not a form of life that humans could survive alongside. Evidence shows that T. rex hunted in packs. (See The Week, May 7, 2021, page 24.) The notion that a T. rex could have been a family pet that children could ride, as some religious groups have proposed, is ludicrous.

This story of Earth’s history and life fits with Genesis 1:1, with God using natural processes to prepare planet Earth for humans. Not only is Chicxulub a problem for neo-Darwinism, but it provides more evidence for the integrity of the biblical record when it is taken literally and not twisted to support denominational teachings.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

References: Science Advances and Astronomy magazine

How We Use Our Money

How We Use Our Money - $32-million To buy a T. rex fossil?

One of the interesting things going on in the world today is how we use our money. The sale of a T. rex fossil is one example. The skeleton of a massive dinosaur can bring huge profits to the owner. Recently a 13-foot tall Tyrannosaurus rex fossil known as “Stan” was sold at Christie’s Auction House for $32,000,000. Most of us would wonder why anyone would spend that kind of money on a fossil? Sarah Rose Sharp gave a possible answer in Hyperallergic.com:

“And honestly, can we find a more contemporary symbol than a tyrant king who stomps on all other living things with no regard for propriety, before witnessing the extinction of his species based on natural science beyond his control?”

Daily we see reports of leaders in politics, media, and technology raking in vast amounts of money no matter who gets hurt in the process. Jesus dealt with this mindset in His day. The parable Jesus told in Luke 12:16-21 is a picture of what is happening today. We should heed His follow-up teaching in verses 22-34. The words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21 tell us what we should hold as important. Luke 18:10-14 demonstrates the attitude we should have.

The sale of a dinosaur fossil for massive amounts of money is just one more illustration of how we use our money and where we place our priorities.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Why Did Dinosaurs Exist?

South American Tapir brings to mind the question "Why Did Dinosaurs Exist?"

An interesting question we often hear is, “Why did dinosaurs exist?” We have pointed out in several articles and posts that none of the words used to describe the animals in Genesis 1 can reasonably describe a dinosaur. The same is true in Job and other scriptures that describe large animals. If we take Genesis 1, the animals described in that chapter are animals Moses knew, and their role was clearly defined.

We have suggested that the dinosaurs were a part of the preparation of the Earth for human habitation. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” does not tell us how He did it or what processes and time were involved. Asking why did dinosaurs exist, leads to the question of whether there was a logical reason for an animal like brontosaurus to exist.

Science News (July 4 and 18, 2020) published an article about research on the lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris), the largest mammal in South America. The Amazon Environmental Research Institute in Brazil refers to the tapir as the gardener of the forest. The rainforests would be biological deserts except for the actions of the tapir. This large mammal feeds on the seeds of about 300 plant species and defecates them in areas that would otherwise be barren. In modern times the tapir has been a primary factor in the recovery of burned-over areas. When Earth was a barren desert at the time of the dinosaurs, the problem would have been even more critical.

We suggest that the dinosaurs were the gardeners of the Jurassic and Cretaceous geological periods. A brontosaurus would produce massive amounts of dung filled with seeds. They would have kept a balance between plant growth and the re-seeding of plants. The enormous meat-eating dinosaurs were mostly carrion eaters that helped with cleanup and helped to control the populations of plant-eaters.

As we question why did dinosaurs exist, we see God’s wisdom in the process of creation. He provided a world that allows humans to have food and resources to use in daily life. At the same time, the design left a guide for modern humans to follow in locating and synthesizing these resources. We know where to find the minerals and fuels because we understand the process God used to put them there.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

For a detailed description of Genesis 1 go to doesgodexist.org and read the booklet “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word.”

Mesozoic Era Small Animals

Mesozoic Era Small Animals are not displayed in Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas

What most people know about the dinosaurs is what they have seen in a movie or a museum. The emphasis is always on the massive size of these ancient animals. Those of us with a background in paleontology are more interested in the ecosystem in which they lived. The Mesozoic era was a time when the Earth was very different from what it is today. It appears that the oxygen content of the atmosphere was higher, and the temperature was much warmer. The plants and animals living at that time enjoyed a balanced ecosystem that left a legacy that has allowed us to live comfortably on this planet.

The natural resources humans have depended on for our entire history were produced during the Mesozoic era. These include coal, oil, and a wide variety of soils that allow our modern plants to exist. From a biblical standpoint, this was a part of Genesis 1:1 when God prepared the Earth for what was to follow. For more on this, see “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word” on our doesgodexist.org website. (You can purchase printed copies HERE.)

What many people don’t realize is that while the giant dinosaurs were an essential part of the Mesozoic era ecosystem, small creatures were of equal importance. Insects were a significant part of the system, and fossil remains of all kinds of arthropods are abundant in the fossil record. As we all know, insects can reproduce in destructive numbers. Just as there were meat-eating dinosaurs to keep the plant-eaters from destroying all the vegetation, there were insect-eaters to control the insect populations. We have insect swarms like the locusts that are causing massive problems in Africa today because humans are removing the natural controllers of insect populations.

The recent discovery of a creature named Oculudentavis khaungraae has shown us a dinosaur the size of a bee hummingbird, the smallest known modern bird. This dinosaur’s skull was half an inch from front to back, and it had a mouth full of teeth. It was ideally suited for eating insects of all kinds and sizes and was undoubtedly a vital part of the ecosystem during the Mesozoic era of the dinosaurs. God has always used one existence to prepare for another, and the preparation of the early Earth for humans was a long and highly complex process.

Our existence on Earth is also a preparation for a far better one. Continuing to study God’s creation and His Word helps us prepare for that time when we will exist outside of space-time. Read about it in Revelation 22:1–5.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: Science News April 11, 2020, page 4.

Dinosaurs in Genesis 1

Dinosaurs in Genesis 1

I find it interesting how various denominational creationists handle the existence of dinosaurs and how they fit into the Genesis 1 account. We still see some who deny that dinosaurs ever existed even though we have many specimens, including dehydrated ones. Others maintain that dinosaurs were innocent plant-eating friends of Adam and Eve. That is even though paleontologists have found fossils of smaller dinosaurs in the stomachs of more massive dinosaurs. Still, others ignore the literal meaning of the animals listed in Genesis 1, and they include dinosaurs in the “beasts of the earth” category. Some maintain that dinosaurs were the ancestors of birds, and so they are in verse 20. So can we find dinosaurs in Genesis 1?

Recent studies of dinosaur eggs have introduced new data for those who study dinosaurs and the Bible to consider. Detailed studies of Hypacrosaurus eggs have shown that there are growth lines in the shells of the eggs. We don’t see those growth lines in bird eggs, which hatch in a relatively short time. Some of the eggs studied by researchers have growth lines indicating very long incubation periods – in some cases, up to 12 months.

We see growth lines in modern reptiles that bury their eggs and let them incubate for months. Changes in temperature and other environmental factors mean the eggs go through periods of dormancy when the growth lines appear. This lengthy process is especially true of large eggs. Researchers have found some dinosaur eggs the size of footballs, which would require a very long incubation period. All of this would suggest that the large dinosaurs, at least, were not birds. The more data we get on the dinosaurs, the more evidence shows that they were not directly related to any modern animal. They were a group of their own.

We would suggest that this conclusion is very much in agreement with the biblical teachings. Dinosaurs were created by God to help prepare the Earth for humans. Dinosaurs were the gardeners of prehistoric times, pruning the plants and allowing massive vegetation to be preserved in the form of coal and other fossil fuels. We don’t see dinosaurs in Genesis 1 because they were not part of the “creation week.” The Hebrew words used in Genesis were all animals that Moses knew.

Just as God did not tell us about viruses, bacteria, and unique animals like the platypus, He didn’t tell us about dinosaurs in Genesis 1. They were part of the preparation of the Earth for humans. When we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” we are reading an undated historical account that simply says God did it – not how or how long it took. The week of Genesis 1:3-31 hadn’t started yet. When it began, the animals described were those familiar to Moses and his readers.

For more on this, we encourage you to go to doesgodexist.org and read the free booklet “God’s Revelation In His Rocks and His Word.” You can also purchase printed copies at THIS LINK.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Dinosaurs and the Bible

Dinosaurs and the BibleThe largest and best-funded apologetics organization in the world today is the Institute for Creation Research. They are strongly supported by fundamentalist Christian groups that have dispensational theologies. While they promote several denominational doctrines that aren’t supported by the Bible, and some of their science is not accurate, they do have a great deal of useful scientific data that supports the existence of God. However, they ran into a problem concerning “dinosaurs and the Bible.”

The most fundamental problem with the position of ICR is stated in these words from the November 2019 issue of their magazine Acts and Facts (page 4):

“Instead of attempting to harmonize the inerrant Word of God with a flimsy scientific model, Christians would do far better to simply take God’s Word at face value.”

The fact is that not all science is flimsy. Also, taking the Bible at face value when “face value” means a questionable interpretation of an inferior English translation. We have often dealt with dinosaurs and the Bible before. You can find some of our previous posts HERE and HERE.

There is no question but that those of us who believe in God and the Bible as His Word share common problems. In that same issue of Acts and Facts, Jayme Durant, the editor of the magazine, tells of trying to put up billboards in the Dallas area. They wanted to advertise the Discovery Center, a new multi-million dollar museum they have opened in the Dallas area. The billboards had their logo with the simple message “Dinosaurs and the Bible?” Two of the billboard companies would not allow ICR to display their message as long as they used the words “Bible” and “Dinosaur” together.

Here is the complete message of the sign owners:

“It’s controversial to have a statement that may challenge local beliefs. Saying ‘Dinosaurs and the Bible?’ may stir the pot in that area and cause problems for the sign in that area.”

Durant points out that “…making people think about something that might be outside their paradigm is apparently unacceptable by much of the American public.” Our society continues to show its bias and antagonism toward God and the Bible. Durant concludes her essay by writing, “You might be accused of stirring the pot. But that’s okay–your life is your billboard. And every day, you can choose the message you display.” We may not agree with ICR on dinosaurs and the Bible, but we certainly agree on that.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Animal Sizes and Human Benefits

Animal Sizes and Human BenefitsThere have always been large animals living on planet Earth, and there are also massive numbers of small animals. The question is whether there is a reason for each of these to exist. What is the reason for animal sizes?

Large animals require not only a lot of room but also significant amounts of food to provide energy for their massive bodies. In ancient times, dinosaurs became enormous. Their capacity to eat large quantities of plant material and spread the seeds was also huge. Today, our large animals such as rhinos and elephants are nowhere near the size of many of the dinosaurs. Still, they are large, and they consume enormous amounts of plant material. A whole ecosystem is built around these large animals, but the space available to house them is becoming smaller and smaller. Most scientific studies indicate the likely extinction of the large animal forms.

Researchers at England’s University of Southampton have been studying 15,500 mammal and bird species to ask what the future holds for large animals. Their studies show that in the next 100 years, the average body mass of mammals will shrink by 25%. As the larger animals become extinct, smaller, fertile animals will replace them.

The design of this system is amazing. In the primitive Earth, there was a need to provide resources in massive quantities over a large geographic area, and the larger animals could do that. As we dig into the fossil records of Earth, we see evidence of how successful this system was. Massive coal beds speak of conditions very different from those of today. Providing these resources required enormous animals.

Environmental change has made the production of these kinds of resources unnecessary. God designed the system in such a way that size fits the needs of the ecosystem. While we are reluctant to allow large animals to become extinct, their survival is no longer critical to the continuance of the ecosystem in which they live. Human influence has also been a factor in the reduction of animal sizes.

We find an example of the importance of small animal sizes in the oceans. Coral reefs are critical to the survival of ecosystems along the shorelines of the world. The United States Geological Survey reports that in U.S. Waters, coral reefs provide more than 1.8 billion dollars in flood protection benefits every year. The reefs are vast collections of tiny organisms which break waves, drain energy from ocean storms, and protect the land along the shoreline. In 2017 tropical storms caused more than $265 billion in damage in the United States. Much of that damage was due to the destruction of coral reefs.

God has designed animal sizes to allow them to benefit humans. He has left it to us to understand how these systems work and protect and nurture them. We live in an amazing world that has been created with wisdom and purpose. Understanding how animals benefit us will lead to protecting and caring for the world in which we live.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Data from National Wildlife, October/November 2019, page 8.