The Does God Exist? Ministry

The Does God Exist? Ministry

The Does God Exist? ministry is an effort by John Clayton, supported by Roland Earnst, Karl Marcussen, and Linda Glover. We desire to demonstrate to anyone who will consider the evidence that science and faith are symbiotic. They support each other. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, and we are not a business and do not market our materials.

For over 50 years, we have been distributing correspondence courses, books, magazines, booklets, and audio and visual programs free of charge or on loan to anyone who requests them. This daily article website is one of a variety of resources:

DVDs and CDs can be borrowed by emailing John Clayton at jncdge@aol.com. You can also watch them free of charge on doesgodexist.tv.

Books can be borrowed at the same email address. A catalog is available on doesgodexist.org. or can be requested via postal mail at the address below.

The above materials can be purchased at cost with a credit card on powervine.biz.

Our quarterly printed journal will be mailed to you free upon request.

On the doesgodexist.org website, you can read all of our periodical publications back to 1995, as well as pamphlets, booklets, charts, and other materials.

We have two correspondence courses available postage paid on request. Our college-level course can be taken on our doesgodexist.org website.

We have a YouTube channel HERE.

We have a Facebook page with daily posts that show design in animals and plants: facebook.com/evidence4god.

You can see our daily Twitter feeds at twitter.com/powervine.

We have a website for kids where you can watch our children’s videos and read our children’s books free of charge: grandpajohn.club.

We also have special topic websites. Whypain.org deals with the issue of human suffering, and dandydesigns.org shows examples of design in nature, indicating an intelligent cause.

John Clayton is the regular speaker on Sunday mornings at 11:00 AM on zoom.com at the Dowagiac Church of Christ. You can be included by calling Karl Marcussen at 574-514-1400 or emailing him at marcusen@michiana.org.

The Clayton Museum of Ancient History is maintained on the campus of York College in York, Nebraska. This museum is promoted by Nebraska’s tourist division and includes the Foster Stanback antiquities collection with artifacts from Biblical times. The website is claytonmuseumofancienthistory.org.

We hope you will take advantage of the many resources available from the Does God Exist? Ministry.

Does God Exist? – P.O. Box 2704 – South Bend, IN 46680-2704

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Building Faith in God and the Bible

Building Faith in God and the Bible

Churches are seeing an exodus of young people. One reason is that many do not provide relevant teaching for building faith in God and the Bible. I recently received an announcement by a well-known preacher that he was beginning a series of lessons on reasons to believe in Jesus. I’m sure that the lessons will be outstanding, but will they address the things that are keeping young adults away from the Church?

The listing of evidences in the announcement included the empty tomb, the stone taken away, the grave clothes lying there, the eyewitness testimony, the faith of the apostles, and the conversion of James and Paul. Those are all evidences based on the Bible. Those of us with a long history of hearing sermons and being in Bible classes are familiar with the biblical teachings and believe them to be true. We still need to have our faith strengthened, so we are not denigrating this kind of teaching. But building faith in God and the Bible requires more than quoting the Bible. Where is the Church failing the unchurched, and, in many cases, failing the children of church members?

In recent postings, we have dealt with the popular teachings of Bart Ehrman, who devotes many of his books and articles to attacking the biblical account. We receive many letters from skeptics and atheists attacking the biblical account based on Ehrman’s material. Magazines like the Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic Magazine are full of attacks on the Christ and the Bible. The leader of many attacks in these atheist publications is Michael Shermer, a former preacher, and graduate of Pepperdine University. The Freedom From Religion organization joins the attacks with advertisements in Scientific American and other popular scientific journals.

It is essential for church leaders to understand that young adults receive a heavy dose of attacks on the Bible. Quoting the Bible as proof of something only works for people who believe the Bible is 100% true. Most of our preacher training schools have a single course on apologetics. They pay very little attention to archeological evidence, historical support, and scientific answers to the skeptic attacks. Building faith in God and the Bible requires more than quoting the Bible.

Bible classes for young people must include evidence that does not depend on scripture alone. This ministry provides resources to do that, and we often review books that give this kind of support. We are in the process of completing a video series by John Cooper on archaeological support for the Bible. We have a museum in York, Nebraska, designed to show through artifacts the credibility of the Biblical account. Before we quote scripture to prove anything, we need to be sure that the person we are dealing with believes the Bible is from God. God has given us the tools to do that, and we must use them.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

The Christian Temple and the Jewish Temple

The Christian Temple and the Jewish Temple
Illustration of the Temple Solomon Built

One of the great misunderstandings of atheists and believers alike is the true meaning of the temple. The Christian temple is radically different from all other temples, including the Temple in Jerusalem. The Jewish Temple’s history goes back to the time of King David, who complained that he lived in a house made of cedar while the ark of God was in curtains. God told David in 2 Samuel 7:3 to do what was in his heart. The enthusiasm for building a physical temple seems to come from David, but he did not complete the job.

There are many problems with temples. They are costly to build and maintain, they can be destroyed, and they can become political tools of evil people. However, the main problem is that temples limit God. If God dwells in His house, then you go to His house to be with God. When you leave His house, you leave God. That also is likely to mean you leave your morals behind. Did you ever wonder what was in David’s mind when he got involved with Bathsheba? Where was God in his thinking? Answer – in the Temple with his morals. How often do we see people who claim to be religious have the same moral weaknesses as everyone else?

Jesus gave a completely different view of the Christian Temple. First Corinthians 3:16-17 tells us that Christians are God’s temple, and the Holy Spirit dwells in us. In Acts 17:24-25, Paul told the pagans that God does NOT live in temples made with human hands and is not served by human hands. First Corinthians 6:15-20 tells Christians that their bodies are the “Temple of the Holy Spirit” and that going to a prostitute is a logical impossibility.

Jesus made comparisons between the Jewish Temple and the Christian Temple. Just as the Jewish Temple had lights, so too should the Christian Temple. “You are the light of the world.” (See Matthew 5:14-16.) Galatians 5:22-26 speaks of what the Holy Spirit working in the Christian’s life will produce. Jewish worship involved giving the best they had. Mark 12:42 (the widow’s mite), and Luke 18:18-27 (the rich young ruler) make clear the Christian sacrifice and priorities.

The Jewish Temple was a place of learning and growth, and so too is the Christian temple. We need to learn and grow every day. This website and the “Does God Exist?” ministry are dedicated to helping people learn and grow. We learn new things every day, and we are always amazed to see how God uses our feeble efforts to help others grow.

You can receive God’s Spirit, making you a temple of God, by obeying Acts 2:38. That verse tells us that we will receive the “gift of the Holy Spirit” when we are baptized into Christ. God will never leave us, but we can force the Spirit out of our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:19). The blessings of being the temple that Jesus promised far outweigh any physical reward. Human efforts to replace the true temple with a “temple made with human hands” cannot compare.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Medical Miracle Cure Claims

Medical Miracle Cure Claims

It was bound to happen. With the legalization of medical marijuana and substances made from marijuana, people are making claims about what cannabis can cure. It goes beyond arthritis to include every ailment that is common to man. We must beware of medical miracle cure claims. Entrepreneurs are going beyond legitimate testimonies of over-the-counter supplements, with advertisements like this one:

“Washington, D.C.) – After suffering for years from arthritis, Christie Brinkley set out to find the safest, most potent form of legal medicinal cannabis oil for treating a wide range of diseases, mental disorders, and conditions like she suffers from, arthritis. After treating her arthritis with CBD, Christie Brinkley had a mission to make this miracle oil available to the masses. The supermodel, actress, and entrepreneur teamed up with longtime friend, Doctor Oz, who has been dealing with back pain for years and says CBD oil is the only thing that has improved his condition. Together, the power duo was determined to create something that would not only work effectively but would also be affordable for everyday Americans.”

This very public duo is being trumped by religious figures who are claiming that miracle oils have come from God, and that they have special powers to cure things that the medical establishment deems hopeless. In our January 12 post, we talked about witches and the problems with the translation of biblical words. What your translation of the Bible may call witches or witchcraft were actually people who claimed to have magic miraculous cures for every ailment possible. In Acts 8:9-11, we read about a man named Simon, who had quite a business going with this type of activity, and there are examples in the Old Testament.

It is a wonderful thing if some natural substance or diet can help a person with their ailments. There is certainly no problem with people making a business out of selling these products, but beware of medical miracle cure claims for “a wide range of diseases, mental disorders and conditions.”

As I write this, I have a family member who is dying of cancer. Hospice is caring for him, and he has only a few more days to live. What started as prostate cancer has gone to bone cancer and a massive brain tumor. When the bone cancer was detected, the family member was taken to a marijuana clinic where he was placed on a treatment of marijuana compounds and a strict diet endorsed by some religious leaders. This treatment went on for many weeks.

Standard medical treatment did not have a cure for the bone cancer, but it could be controlled, and the life expectancy would be for many years. My family member was told that marijuana treatment could eradicate the bone cancer. There were even a few “testimonies” given by people who claimed they had been cured. Eventually, it became evident that the cancer was growing, not shrinking, and by the time they stopped the marijuana treatment, a baseball-sized tumor had developed in the brain. Because the marijuana treatments had replaced standard medical procedures, there was nothing that could be done.

We should examine medical miracle cure claims of any kind with skepticism. We are not talking about cosmetic issues or supplements for simple aches and pains. We are talking about major issues like cancer, mental disorders, and diabetes. God warned ancient Israel about miraculous enchantments and potions, and we must heed that warning today (Galatians 5:20).

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Pandemic Refugees in 2020

Pandemic Refugees because of the Virus

What are you doing during this time of being forced to stay in your dwelling alone, maintaining social distancing? Do you feel like we are pandemic refugees?

Thanks to technology, there are many options available. We all have time to talk on the phone to family and friends. There are books to read, puzzles to do, clean up projects to take care of, and time to check on people we can help. Checking on folks by phone is easy and available to all of us. We can even send needed items using our credit card and the shipping that most suppliers provide. As the weather gets warmer, we can do outside projects that we have long neglected.

The volume of emails we receive has gone up, and our various websites such as doesgodexist.today, doesgodexist.tv, and facebook.com/evidence4god have seen an increase in usage. Our children’s website grandpajohn.club, has been used by some to provide some teaching to their children.

It is disturbing that a large percentage of our population has used this time to immerse themselves in various kinds of drugs. According to The Week (April 17, 2020, page 16) alcohol sales are up 55% with online sales up 243%. Cannabis stores report their sales are up 130%. Our culture has moved away from faith and belief in God and turned to “Survival of the fittest.” From that perspective, this whole experience is a disaster and the only answer is to use drugs to numb your mind to what you can’t control. For those with faith in God and a belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ, this is a time full of unique opportunities to serve others. It is an opportunity to become part of a solution to a global problem.

For Christians, instead of feeling like pandemic refugees, we have the assurance of God’s word. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea … the Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalms 46:1-2, 7).

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Positive Results from a Quarantined Easter

Positive Results from a Quarantined Easter

Today is a historic Resurrection Sunday when church congregations in the United States and much of the world are unable to assemble in one place. We pray that we will be able to get back together soon and that this will never happen again. However, there may be some positive results from a quarantined Easter.

In some countries, Christians meet in fear for their lives and physical well-being, not because of a virus, but because of the government. In the United States, we have never experienced that kind of persecution. Perhaps the present experience will give us a little more appreciation for the freedom we have. In the early days of the Church, persecution was common. Despite that, the Church grew.

Perhaps one of the positive results from a quarantined Easter is that we will think less about the commercialism of the day and concentrate on the real meaning. Instead of Easter trappings, we can spend more time contemplating Christ’s resurrection and what it means. Instead of Easter Sunday, we can think of it as Resurrection Sunday.

We can be thankful for modern electronic communication that allows us to stay in contact with fellow Christians as well as family and friends. Thanks to the internet, many churches are continuing their services while “social distancing.” In doing so, they are reaching and sharing the gospel with people who would never come to their building. Perhaps this will encourage us to use the internet to spread the gospel in more effective ways than ever. That could be another one of the positive results from a quarantined Easter.

Another positive result might be that it will help us appreciate the value of fellowship with other Christians. The Church not being able to meet in person can help us realize what a blessing it is to worship with our brothers and sisters. I hope that when we can get back together, we will appreciate the fellowship of other Christians as never before. Perhaps when this problem is over, we will find a new enthusiasm for “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

The truth is that Resurrection Sunday should not be a once-a-year event. Each week is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. We encourage you to read our previous posts titled “Christ’s Resurrection Celebration” and “The Event that Changed the World.

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Real Death Rate is One Per Person

Real Death Rate is One Per Person

As the world and our country battle the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, we see daily statistics on the death rate. Whatever the death rate from COVID-19, as someone has said, the real death rate is one per person.

Death is something we generally don’t like to talk about or even think about. Some people seem to believe that if they don’t think about it, they won’t die. That hasn’t worked for anyone so far. Failing to think about death leaves us unprepared when it happens. In his book Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection, Stephen T. Davis wrote that “Human beings are the only animals who know that they must die, and thus the only animals who try to hide from themselves the fact that they must die.”

One of the things that separates us from other animals is our reasoning power. Our reason tells us that it is irrational to believe that impersonal and nonrational forces could have produced us human creatures who are both personal and rational. In my opinion, that is one of the strongest evidences for a personal and rational Creator God.

Now, suppose that you were the Creator of the universe, and your crowning creative achievement rebelled against you. Would you be willing to take on the form of those rebellious creatures to redeem them? Would you be willing to leave your eternal abode to enter the world of those disobedient and ungrateful beings to show them how to live? Would you be ready to die for them, even though they still didn’t catch on and follow your instructions? Is it possible that the Creator could have that much love?

It is more than just possible. It happened. The Creator did it. He died for us—for you and me! But that isn’t the end of the story. He conquered death! Yes, you can say that the real death rate is one per person in this life. But just wait for what God has in store for those who love him! (Read 1 Corinthians 2:9.)

— Roland Earnst © 2020

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