Alan Guth and the Kavli Prize

Alan Guth and the Kavli Prize on the Nature of the Cosmos

The evidence is massive that there was a beginning to the cosmos. The cosmological argument for God’s existence is that there had to be a cause of that beginning and that the nature of the cause was an intelligence. The phrase “big bang” was invented to describe the beginning, but the big bang theory never tried to answer the question of what banged and who banged it. The April 2020 issue of Scientific American (pages 4-7) carried an article about the work of Alan Guth, who received the Kavli Prize in astrophysics in 2014. The main objective of the Kavli Prize is to honor, support, and recognize scientists for outstanding scientific work in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

Alan Guth’s work has been to develop the theory of cosmic inflation to show that the universe is eternal and had no beginning. The chief problem with any suggestion that the universe is eternal is something called entropy. Entropy is a measure of disorder. Whenever energy is expended in any way, disorder is introduced to the system. Unless organizing energy is applied externally on the system, the disorder will grow until there is no available energy left. We call that “heat death.”

A simple example might demonstrate this. If you took a bottle of hydrogen into a room that was completely isolated from the outside and opened the container, the hydrogen would escape and spread throughout the room. If you now wanted to get the hydrogen back into the bottle, could you get every atom back? The answer is “no,” because some of the hydrogen would have morphed into something else. Protons have a half-life, and other changes could take place. The measure of what couldn’t be put back in the bottle is called entropy.

Guth gets around the need for a beginning by saying that there is no difference between the present and the past. Using black holes, dark matter, and probabilities, he proposes a model that avoids a beginning. Alan Guth received the Kavli Prize because of his imaginative, creative thinking. The fundamental problem with Guth’s proposal is that it is not testable. No experiment can be done, and no evidence can be examined to test his theory. It is not falsifiable, and thus it really does not qualify as science. Guth is a brilliant scientist speculating on what he calls “a backward world where the past is the future and where infinite parallel pocket universes pop into existence without cause.”

While Guth’s work is interesting, it is of no apologetic significance. If God has created many pocket universes, they are so isolated from us that they do not impact our lives. Guth relies on probabilities to make many steps in his theory. When we apply probabilities to what we see in the world around us, the strong suggestion is that an intelligence has been at work to produce the cosmos.

In addition to the design we see in creation, our spiritual makeup and our creativity are not connected directly to how we got to this point in time and space. Quantum theory is based on probability, and the article ends by saying, “We had better know what they (the probabilities) mean.” We would suggest they mean, “In the beginning (of our cosmos) God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Fake Dead Sea Scroll Fragments

Fake Dead Sea Scroll Fragments at the Museum of the Bible
Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

One of the more trusted sources of science and history is the National Geographic Society. Their popular magazine, books, and TV programs have been used to promote particular viewpoints, and sometimes they have been deceived. Many of our older readers will remember a cover story in the magazine about a Chinese fossil that the magazine ran as proof of a particular evolutionary theory. It later turned out to have been constructed by local people as a means of selling claimed fossils. Now there is an issue with fake Dead Sea Scroll fragments.

The Museum of the Bible collection of Dead Sea Scroll fragments, which the National Geographic has used extensively, are fakes. They consist of 16 fragments claimed to be from authentic Dead Sea Scrolls. The forgers used old pieces of leather, and after writing on them, they treated the documents, so they looked ancient. The museum released a report by Colette Loll on March 13, 2020, explaining that microscopic analysis of the fragments showed cracks in the leather filled with pools of the ink. That means the leather had cracked after a long period of time, and the ink ran into the cracks in modern times. Other evidence also showed that these were fake Dead Sea Scroll fragments.

The message for all of us is to realize that any scientific claim based on historical objects needs careful study. Claims of antiquity should be read with a skeptical eye to the evidence. There is a lot of money involved in ancient artifacts, documents, and writings. Since National Geographic has such acceptance and worldwide circulation, they are particularly vulnerable to forgery attempts.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Source: Biblical Archeology Society 3/16/20.

Christian Response to a Crisis

Christian Response to a Crisis

One of the great evidences for the validity of the Christian way of living as taught by Jesus Christ is the effect it has on the way people treat other people. In Acts 4:31-37, we see the first century Church sharing their possessions and looking after one another. When there was a famine in Jerusalem, churches in other parts of the Roman empire raised funds to feed the Jerusalem Christians. Christianity, when practiced, stood out as a positive force, continually meeting the needs of others. That is the Christian response to a crisis such as COVID-19 or Y2K.

During the Y2K scare
, “experts” said that the financial systems of the world might collapse. The response was that people stockpiled food and essential commodities. Many people not only locked away supplies, but they set up military-like defenses to keep others out. The government maintained that there was no cause for alarm, but people didn’t trust the government, and they enlisted other ways of protecting their money and property.

Now we have a similar crisis, except this one is a biological problem. How have people reacted? We not only see people stockpiling things they consider important for their survival, but also using the crisis to make money. We have seen people buying massive amounts of toilet paper or hand sanitizer and then trying to sell them for vastly inflated prices. People have made substantial amounts of money by selling “cures” that don’t work and even testing kits, masks, and ventilators that were unreliable. Gun stores have seen a rush on guns and ammunition. Survival of the fittest has been the message of the COVID-19 catastrophe.

Those are the worst-case situations. At the same time, some people have made sacrifices to help others survive. Many individuals and Christians have operated food banks and cared for the ill. Most of them did so as islands of Christian compassion in a world of selfishness and greed. The Christian response to a crisis is entirely different from the selfish response.

Watching these emergencies argues strongly for the need to see God working in the lives of people today. The statement of Jesus, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few,” has 21st-century relevance. (See Matthew 9:37.)

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Cancer and Sexual Promiscuity

Cancer and Sexual Promiscuity

The Bible is very clear in teaching that the best way to conduct oneself sexually is to have one partner for life. As people have veered away from God’s teaching and instruction, sex has lost its meaning, and people with multiple partners do not find the joy and satisfaction in sex that God intended. We are now learning that the consequences of multiple sexual partners are more than just a lack of satisfaction and joy in sex. There is also a strong connection between cancer and sexual promiscuity.

USNews.com carried a study of 5722 men and women with an average age of 64. It showed that women who had ten or more sexual partners were 91% more likely to have cancer than those who had either one or zero partners. Men who had multiple partners had a 64% higher risk of cancer. The sample size is too large to just blow off this data. However, some researchers suggest that those with multiple sex partners also had habits that elevate cancer risks, including drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. But the research shows a strong connection between cancer and sexual promiscuity.

We would suggest that God gave us moral laws for our good. The Creator who designed us knows what behaviors will benefit us and which will not. In Matthew 19, some Pharisees asked Jesus why Moses allowed men to have more than one wife. His response was, “Because of the hardness of your hearts, Moses allowed you to put away your wives: but from the beginning, it was not so” (Verse 8). When we violate God’s plan, the consequences are not just emotional and mental, but there are physical health issues as well.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from The Week, March 6, 2020, page 21.

Tooth Design or Chance Accident

Tooth Design or Chance Accident

There are a vast number of things in our bodies that we take for granted. Perhaps at the top of that list is our tooth design.

Our teeth have to withstand chewing motions that spread forces around. They must be able to hold, fracture, and fragment food items without being broken themselves and do this millions of times over a lifetime. Their opposing surfaces must align to a fraction of a millimeter. They also exist in an environment that is teeming with life. Our mouth is populated by some 700 different species of bacteria, some of which produce lactic acid, which attacks the enamel.

The bacteria are essential because they fight disease, help with digestion, and regulate various body functions. In ancient times the bacteria were limited because of the diet of ancient humans. Now with massive amounts of sugar in our diet, the bacteria are catalyzed in their reproduction. Our saliva buffers teeth against the lactic acid and bathes them in calcium phosphate, which remineralizes their surface.

Teeth have hard enamel caps made up of calcium phosphate. The material is composed of thousands of rods called crystallites, which are 1000th the width of a human hair. These are grouped together in bundles called prisms with tens of thousands of prisms per square millimeter. These prisms run parallel to each other, weaving and twisting as they go from the surface of the tooth to the underlying dentin. Dentin is made of tiny collagen fibers that run between structures called tubules. This tooth design resists cracks and gives toughness and impressive durability.

So if these things are true, why do I have cavities, problems with wisdom teeth, and expensive trips to the dentist? The answer to that question is diet. When we study ancient humans, we don’t see decays in their teeth, impacted wisdom teeth, or evidence of gum disease. In the animal world, it is rare to see a cavity or a decayed tooth. The struggles we have with our teeth is because we have softer and more sugary foods than our ancestors ate.

In the April 2020 issue of Scientific American (page 45), there is a wonderful article titled “The Trouble with Teeth” by Peter Ungar. He attributes this “miracle of design” and “elegant configuration” to evolutionary processing. We suggest that the tooth design speaks of wisdom and intelligence beyond that of blind chance.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

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

Design of Butterfly Wings

Design of Butterfly Wings

We tend to view the wings of a butterfly as we do our fingernails or hair. We think of them as lifeless, rigid structures that serve as airfoils only useful for flying. Researchers at Columbia University led by Dr. Nanfang Yu have discovered that butterfly wings are more than inert tissue. The wings are equipped with living tissues that serve other critical factors for the butterflies. The design of butterfly wings is more than beautiful.

Using thermal imaging, the scientists measured the emissivity of the wings. That means the ability of the wings to emit thermal energy. Butterfly wings have veins that carry hemolymph (insect blood). Male butterflies also have scent patches that release pheromones for attracting mates. The researchers found that the emissivity of the veins and patches was very high. That means the wings of butterflies are engineered to emit thermal energy to prevent the insect from overheating in the hot sun.

The veins of the butterfly wings are covered with a thick layer of chitin, which is the material that makes up the insect’s exoskeleton. The patches on the wings have tube-shaped nanostructures and extra chitin. Thick and hollow materials are better at radiating heat than thin, solid materials. Butterflies are designed to handle high temperatures, and science is just beginning to understand how the design of butterfly wings works to cool the insects.

The study included more than 50 different butterfly species. The conclusion the scientists reached is that butterfly wings are “living structures” not inert material. The design of butterfly wings prevents the insect from overheating as well as allowing it to fly.

That butterfly in your garden is not only beautiful but a creature with a highly complex design. We are still learning about the fantastic transformation that takes place when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. The study of the butterfly’s wings adds another layer of design and intelligence to what God has done with these incredible insects.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

You can read the full report with pictures at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-14408-8.

Infrared-seeking Dog Noses

Infrared-seeking Dog Noses

Touch your nose and then touch your dog’s nose. Notice any difference? Like most mammals, your nose is at the ambient temperature. Your dog’s nose, however, is cold and wet. We have known for a long time that vampire bats have cool patches in their nasal areas that act as heat detectors to help them find warm-blooded prey. Researchers have now found that dogs have a very similar structure. Perhaps infrared-seeking dog noses have the same purpose.

A dog’s nose is packed with sensitive nerves. Researchers say that dogs can detect a warm surface at a distance of five feet (1.5 m). When a warm object is placed near a dog in a cold, dark room, the dog will respond to the object even though there is no visible light in the room. Brain activity goes wild in the area that is connected to the nose.

A friend of mine had a dog that would dig up moles in his yard. The dog would move around with his nose to the ground. Then he would suddenly stop and begin digging. Every time, he would flip out a mole. I told my friend he could make a fortune if he could train ten dogs to do that. Now, at last, I know how the dog did it.

Want to make a fortune? Invent an infrared detector sensitive enough to detect a mole six inches below the surface of the ground. It would be hard to do, but God designed infrared-seeking dog noses so they could find prey that is not visible to our eyes.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Assisted Suicide and Choices

Assisted Suicide and Choices

In our March 16, 2020, post, we discussed the issue of suicide, and the Federal Communication Commission’s efforts to create a suicide hotline. We discussed the problem of assisted suicide or euthanasia in our February 24 and 25 posts. The March 20 issue of The Week magazine carried an article (page 11) titled “The Spread of Assisted Suicide.”

In addition to the data showing how much assisted suicide has increased, the article in The Week points out that assisted suicide is now available to people for various reasons. It is being made available to those who are in psychological pain, those who don’t want to go into a nursing home, and to minors with their parent’s permission. This is a significant problem with large numbers of people involved. In the Netherlands alone, there were 6585 assisted deaths in 2017.

Our biggest concern in this growing trend is the misinformation that the public is receiving. Dignitas, which is a Swiss organization assisting in suicides, says that assisted suicide is “far preferable to letting ill people make a lonely, risky suicide attempt.” Those are not the only choices available to a person who is depressed, in pain, or fearing dementia.

As life expectancy continues to climb, more and more people will struggle with emotional and physical pain. Our focus needs to be on solving those issues, not just in finding ways to destroy the “temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Suicide Prevention Hotline 988

Suicide Prevention Hotline 988

The Federal Communications Commission is working to establish a three-digit suicide prevention hotline. It will use the number 988, comparable to 911 for other emergencies. The reason for this new emergency number is a surge in deaths by suicide over the past ten years. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. More than 20 veterans commit suicide each day, and more than 500,000 LGBTQ youth attempt to kill themselves annually.

You might think that the reason for an increase in suicide is poverty or hunger, but that is not the case. According to the experts at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the common denominator is a lack of hope. As a former atheist, I can verify that kind of thinking. As an atheist, when I no longer was the “fittest,” my moral foundation built on “survival of the fittest” collapsed. That’s when I reached the point of attempting to end my life. There is no hope when everything around you is collapsing, and you are no longer in control.

The word “hope” occurs 135 times in the Bible. Life has meaning when we have faith in Christ and believe that this life leads to something better–even when we are not the fittest. Christ’s teaching and the New Testament repeatedly refer to joy. That joy leads to loving life and looking forward to the future no matter how bleak our circumstances are now.

The 988 number of the suicide prevention hotline is good because just having someone to talk to may help a person contemplating suicide. But it may be 2021 before the number is in service. The greatest message of hope comes from the Bible, and it’s available now. The real source of hope comes from finding new life in Christ, as Romans 6 describes in glowing terms.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from Washington Post, December 13, 2019.