Gallup Poll on Religious Belief

Gallup Poll on religious beliefe Associated Press reported on April 19, 2019, that the percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has dropped by 20% over the past two decades to a low of 50% in 2018. The latest Gallup Poll on religious belief shows a disturbing trend. The Associated Press reported on April 19, 2019, that the percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has dropped by 20% over the past two decades to a low of 50% in 2018. In their demographic listing, the most significant drops were among Hispanics and politically among Democrats.

Atheists will say that all of this is just a sign that as people become informed and involved in change, they turn away from God. We would suggest that the problem is with the way Gallup has posed the questions. Most Hispanics have come from cultures where Catholicism in its most conservative form has been forced upon people. Catholic teachings on birth control and the problems produced by church support of unpopular politicians have contributed to many Hispanics not continuing allegiance to the Catholic Church, especially when people immigrate to new cultures. In the same way, many Democrats have found themselves at odds with traditional religious practices and requirements.

This ministry has never supported any denomination or any religious leader other than Christ. We provide evidence for the existence of God and the inspiration of the Bible as His word. What the Gallup Poll on religious belief does not address is that many people who have stopped belonging to a particular church or religion are still firm believers in God.

While organized religion is in decline in America, many people still have a firm conviction about the Bible as God’s Word and Jesus Christ as the son of God. Our ministry does not support any organized religion. We encourage and educate people who are searching for evidence and understanding. Read Matthew chapters 5-7 and 25:31-46.

— John N. Clayton © 2019

Operating on Faith

 Operating on Faith - Eratosthanes

Philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) told the story of a king who refused to eat until he knew with certainty that his food had not been poisoned. The more he thought about how little he knew with certainty about his chef and his attendants, the more concerned he became. He finally starved to death. This story makes the point that everyone is operating on faith.

Atheists ridicule Christians for operating on faith not realizing that they depend on faith, and so does science. A classic example was a Greek scholar named Eratosthenes of Cyrene born in 276 BC. Eratosthenes noticed that on a specific day of the year, the Sun was positioned so that it illuminated the bottom of a well where he lived. From that fact, he had faith that the Earth was spherical.

On the day that the Sun shone to the bottom of the well in Syene (modern Aswan, Egypt), Eratosthenes placed a vertical rod in the ground at Alexandria and measured the angle of its shadow. Using the difference in angle of the Sun’s rays and the distance between the two locations, he calculated the circumference and diameter of the Earth with high accuracy. He even established the concept of latitude and longitude from his measurements. Scholars of Eratosthenes’ day ridiculed his idea because everyday experience suggested the Earth was flat and endless. They indicated that he was mistaken or his measurements were wrong. Their criticism did not sway the strong faith of Eratosthenes in what he believed.

A modern-day Eratosthenes would be Albert Einstein. His radical ideas were still not accepted by many in the scientific community some 40 years after he originally proposed them. The critics were silenced only when Einstein’s ideas could finally be tested and proven correct.

For many scientific discoveries in the past, that pattern has been repeated. A scientist operating on faith expressed a hypothesis based on his or her observations. The hypothesis could not be tested when the concept was proposed, but from that faith, something important was eventually discovered.

The definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 fits this scientific concept of how discoveries are made: “Faith forms the solid ground of things hoped for, perceiving as real what is not revealed to the senses.” (Amplified Bible).

–John N. Clayton © 2019

Growing Interest in Astrology

Growing Interest in Astrology
While more and more Americans are denying faith in God, belief in astrology, witchcraft, and sorcery is growing. Astrology academies and internet users of natal charts have produced thousands of podcasts, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, mobile apps, newsletters, and streaming videos. Data crunchers tell us that there are more than two million websites on astrology, and entrepreneurs are using astrological signs as a means of attracting business. There are sun-sign PJs, hotels with a zodiac theme, and offers for foods like a “cuppa zodiac coffee.” There is indeed a growing interest in astrology.

Richard Smoot speaking for the International Society for Astrological Research said, “So much is going on in people’s lives these days, so much pressure to act or react, and they simply want to sort things out.” Astrologers claim that people in crisis are drawn to astrology because they want guidance in matters of love, finance, and career. The astrology site Co-Star says “This generation is wrapping itself in the blanket of the zodiac to try and make sense of a world that seems to be coming apart at the seams.” The most highly rated astrological site in recent months has been “How to find the perfect dog based on your zodiac sign.” There is a growing interest in astrology among millennials who make up seventy-three percent of those visiting that site.

In the ancient world, astrologers and magicians were a major factor in helping people make decisions. In Exodus 7:11 Pharaoh used secret arts to duplicate what Moses did. God condemned the use of astrology, magic, and sorcery from the beginning. In Leviticus 20:6 we read, “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” Fortune telling was condemned in Micah 5:12 and in the New Testament every confrontation between the apostles and a sorcerer or magician reveals a rejection of those practices. (See Acts 8 and Acts 13:6.)

Is astrology a harmless game or joke, or is there a reason to reject the mystic arts? The first point we need to make is that there is no scientific support for any of these mystic arts. Studies of astrological claims indicate no support for any connection between the stars and what happens in people’s lives on Earth.

Magic is entertaining, but honest magicians will tell you that even their most amazing acts are sleight of hand and visual tricks. It is enjoyable to watch these talented performers, but we need to realize that they are not using supernatural abilities. Sorcery and witchcraft are dangerous and destructive activities and have a long history of tragedy. The bottom line is that all mystic arts draw people away from the real solutions to their problems.

In today’s world, when people reject the Bible and its teachings they are left with no help in making critical decisions. In that void, they seek out unhealthy and destructive substitutes. There may be a growing interest in astrology as a place for people to find answers in life, but it is as harmful and misleading as ever.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Reference: Saturday Evening Post, July/August 2018, page 16.

Nones Can Be More Religious than Christians

Nones Can Be More Religious than Christians in Western Europe
We have reported on the Pew Research Center’s survey in the United States which indicated that those who list their religious affiliation as “none” are increasing. (See more about that HERE.) New research indicates that those nones can be more religious than Christians.

In May of 2018, the Pew Research Center released a study of religious beliefs and practices in western Europe. Some of the things they learned are very surprising. The survey involved 25,000 people in 15 countries of Western Europe. Since Pew had previously gathered similar data in the U.S., they were able to make comparisons. In comparing the results in the U.S. and Western Europe, the Pew researchers found that:

1-Americans are more religious than Western Europeans. That isn’t too surprising. The questions asked included “Do you believe in God with absolute certainty?” and “Do you pray daily?”

2-American “nones” are more religious than Western European “nones.” This is more surprising since you would think that those who have no religious affiliation would be equally lacking in faith. However, many Americans who have given up on organized religion still believe in God, and they even pray to Him.

3-American “nones” are as religious as or more religious than Christians in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. That is the most surprising finding of all that nones can be more religious than Christians. Only 23 percent of European Christians say they believe in God with absolute certainty. In the United States 27 percent of “nones” have that much faith. Only eighteen percent of Christians in Western Europe pray daily. Twenty-percent of the “nones” in the United States say that they have daily prayer. In Western Europe, fourteen percent of Christians say that religion is very important in their lives. Religion is almost as important to U.S. “nones” where thirteen percent say that religion is very important.

According to Pew Research, even though Western Europeans identify as Christians, for them it is a cultural or ethnic identity rather than a genuine religious faith. Eleven percent of Western Europeans say they are “spiritual but not religious.” That allows them to keep the traditions of Christianity without a commitment to the doctrines and things they don’t like.

Looking at these statistics, we can see that it is possible that some nones can be more religious than Christians. We see that even though faith in God has eroded in the United States, Western Europe is far ahead of us in secularization. All of these statistics give those of us who are committed Christians something to think about.
–Roland Earnst © 2018
You can read more about the recent Pew study HERE.

Religion in Canada

Religion in Canada
The Angus Reid Institute is a highly respected polling agency in Canada. They have released a detailed study of religion in Canada which is titled “A Spectrum of Spirituality.” Their study divided the Canadian population into four categories:

Non Believers 19%
Privately Faithful 30%
Spiritually Uncertain 30%
Religiously Committed 21%

When the “Spiritually Uncertain” were asked “Do you believe that God or a higher power exists” 87% indicated doubt. The study observes some interesting points about morality and belief:

“When one is unsure of the existence of a supreme arbiter of truth, it becomes increasingly easier to abandon previously held values… Identifying with a specific religious organization usually means sharing a set of values with others of like belief. Removing the connection has facilitated an increasing number of Canadians to adopt or accept practices that they would have otherwise seen as immoral.”

Religion in Canada reflects the tragedy of the modern church in which the leadership assumes that everyone believes in God. When people ignore the evidence for God, they choose to live according to their own desires. We need to make a strong effort to show young people how we can know there is a God, and what a difference belief in God makes in our lives.

We invite you to build your own faith and to know why you believe what you believe. For our free correspondence course, go to doesgoedexist.org. You can watch our video series free of charge on doesgodexist.tv. Build your faith in God and His word. Know that a fulfilling life comes from following the rules and practices that Jesus gave us for successful living.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Future of Faith in America

Future of Faith in America
If you read any survey of what Americans believe, you have to understand that faith in God and the validity of New Testament Christianity is in decline. We have pointed out before, that when pollsters ask people about their religious faith, almost one-fourth of all Americans respond with “none.” When we separate those numbers by age group, the picture is even more dismal with young adults largely rejecting Jesus as the son of God. We should be concerned about the future of faith in America.

The two primary sources of the decline in church membership are pluralism and the complete rejection of the Bible as God’s one authoritative guide. Most churches have not taught the evidence for God and the validity of the Bible. Most young people have not seen an example of Christian living in the lives of their parents or religious leaders. We can either sit back and watch congregations die with the older people of faith, or we can roll up our sleeves and do something.

This situation is not new. When the people of Jesus day saw that following Jesus required some commitment, most of them left. In John 6:35-69 people rejected Jesus as having come down from heaven. Later in the Temple, they wondered at the wisdom of Christ’s teaching. In John 7:16-18 Jesus told the people, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.” He then referred to the evidence seen in what people do: “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” We must find some method of answering people’s doubts about God and showing them that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). That is what the future of faith in America must be about.

We can no longer rely on inherited faith to build faith-filled adults. Young people being dragged to church three times a week is not going to do the job. There has been too much hypocrisy, bickering, and inconsistency in churches for young people to blindly accept what their parents and grandparents believed. We can no longer rely on talented speakers and youth leaders to emotionally stampede young people into becoming active, dynamic Christians. There are too many speakers with conflicting views for modern adults to respond to emotional pleas at worship services, youth rallies, camps, or lectureships.

The war for the minds of 21st-century adults is going to be won or lost on the battlefield of evidence. That was true in the days of Jesus and the church in the first century. We have a tremendous advantage over those who lived in the first century. Quantum mechanics has opened the door for us to understand how gravity, electric charge, and matter/energy were created. The complexity, wisdom, and design of the formation of electric charge and the wave nature of gravity show that the cause of these things must be outside the realm of the physical world. Quantum mechanics leads us to dimensions beyond our own, which is the concept the Bible has always given us about God.

In today’s world, we see the results of following systems other than the biblical pattern. When people follow other guidelines as to how to live their lives, the result is inevitably disastrous. When people who call themselves Christians fail to follow what Jesus taught, the result is also disastrous. If we study the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and compare it to all other ways of life, we see the truthfulness of Jesus statement, “By their fruit ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:16). The future of America depends on the future of faith in America.

Scientific knowledge of the world around us continues to amaze us. Rather than presenting God as a magician who zaps things into existence by tricks and illusions beyond our understanding, we must show people that what God does make sense and many of God’s methods are within our ability to understand. People have had enough of mystic explanations and magic tricks. If they are going to commit themselves to discipleship, it must be clear and logical both in purpose and in methodology.

The church has the capacity to present this message. Young people respond to evidence that doesn’t depend on tradition or blind, mystic faith. When 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks for the reason of the faith that is within you” it includes not just the ancient shepherd in the hills of Judea, but also the educated engineer living in 2018. Today, the fields are ripe unto harvest (John 4:35), but our outreach must change with changing needs. The future of faith in America depends on it.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Faith During a Crisis

Faith During a Crisis
On January 13, 2018, something happened that reminds us of the importance of faith during a crisis. At 8:07 AM Hawaii’s Emergency Management System sent out an alert telling the people of Hawaii that there was a ballistic missile threat and they should seek shelter immediately. The New York Times reported that “people flocked to shelters, crowding highways in scenes of terror and helplessness.”

This is not the first time this kind of panic has taken place in America. On October 30, 1938, a radio drama about a Martian invasion was broadcast saying that ground zero was in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. The nearby city of Trenton was completely crippled with phone calls to the police for three hours. Similar incidents have happened in 1944, 1968, 1974, 1983, and 1998.

On February 12, 1949, a radio broadcast in Quito, Ecuador reported that Martians were launching gas attacks and people flocked to the streets. When they realized that the broadcast was a fake, a mob stormed the radio station setting it on fire, killing 20 and injuring 15. Now the media and the politicians are promoting “fake news” in one form or another.

When Jesus talked about the end of the world in Matthew 24:3-7 He told His followers that there would be “wars and rumors of wars: see that you are not troubled.” Followers of Christ should have the faith to realize that God is in control and that our eternal home is not affected by Martians or politicians. Humans deceive other humans, but we can always trust Jesus Christ and His teachings. When Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), He was assuring us that we can always have faith during a crisis whether real or imaginary.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Data from Skeptical Inquirer, May/June 2018 page 5.

Science and Faith: Handing it Down

Science and Faith-Science Fair
The message we have presented for many years is that science and faith are friends, not enemies. It’s important to hand that message down to the next generation.

When I was a junior in high school, I was fortunate enough to win the local science fair in Bloomington, Indiana. My exhibit was a survey done of southern Indiana freshwater rivers and streams. The purpose was to determine if the biospheres of these smaller bodies of water were a valid commercial source of food for human consumption. This was long before Indiana fish farms existed. My study involved pH, chemical factors, and populations of freshwater life such as turtles and frogs. It was pretty simple and far less complex than the work of Frank Sandy who did a study of new methods of solving complex cubic equations.

The National Science Fair that year (1954) was held at Purdue University and sponsored by Westinghouse. In the May 27, 2017, issue of Science News, there is an article about Aaron Yeiser who won second place in the 2017 version of the National Science Fair called the “Regeneron Science Talent Search.” Aaron says he was “encouraged to pursue his science career because of his grandfather” and because his father and grandparents work in computer science, technology, and chemical engineering.

We attempt to show the world that science and faith are friends and that the teachings of Christ are the best possible way for a person to live. We believe it is important to pass that message and ministry on to our children and grandchildren. If they see us committed to something spiritual, and they understand our love for God and His creation, they too will want to pursue that calling.

Passing on our faith to our children is essential. Paul recognized that fact when he wrote to Timothy “I recall the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that it is in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Science and Theology

Science and Theology

There has been a growing trend in the academic community to suggest that science and theology are two separate disciplines that cannot support one another. The position of this ministry has always been that science and faith complement each other and should never be viewed as opponents. The dictionary defines science as “systematic knowledge.” It defines theology as “science dealing with God and His relationship to the universe.” (Webster’s American College Dictionary) Bad science and bad theology are very much the same–systematic knowledge replaced by human opinion.

In the physical world, science is based on a method that precludes human opinion. The scientific method involves testing a theory by experimentation to see if it can be falsified. We can even expand and enlarge our fundamental knowledge. Our understanding of gravity, for example, has undergone several changes since Newton’s day when the first knowledge was derived by the tests available to him. When Einstein gave us an expanded understanding of gravity, it was based on several tests which could be duplicated over and over. Now there is a possibility that Newton’s ideas will be expanded even more as better experiments enlarge our understanding.

Interestingly, Isaac Newton also did experiments in theology. In theology, his experiments did not verify his personal opinions, so they never became science. Like much of astronomy, quantum mechanics, and cosmology, experiments in theology have to be conducted by observation of things we can’t control. Science provides facts about the physical world and our role within it, and many of those facts have theological implications.

Do our understandings in theology change? Certainly! Just as our understanding of gravity has grown, so too our understanding of God has grown. As we experience life and see what has happened in human history and in our own lives, our understanding grows. Even our understanding of the Bible has grown as we learn more of what Jesus and the Apostles taught and how they lived. Knowing that the cosmos is not just the Earth and the solar system has expanded our understanding of God and His power and intelligence. It is bad theology to take the knowledge of 500 years ago and force our understandings of the Bible on that knowledge.

The twenty-first century is an exciting time to be alive. As our scientific knowledge continues to grow, so too our understanding of God is growing and expanding. Proverbs 8:1 and 22-30 shows how wisdom was involved in all of God’s creation. If we use our God-given intelligence and take His Word as truth, we can grow in our faith and in knowledge.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Darwin Day and Evolution Weekend (Part 1)

Darwin Day
Colleges, schools, museums, and other groups are calling February 12, the birthday of Charles Darwin, “Darwin Day” to honor his life and work. Also, the weekend of February 10-12 has been designated as “Darwin Weekend” in hundreds of churches to promote a better understanding of the relationship between religion and science. Michael Zimmerman, who is credited with initiating Darwin Weekend, states that a critical goal is to “demonstrate that religious people from many faiths and locations understand that evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith.” The Clergy Letter promoting Darwin Weekend says, “Those that claim that people must choose between religion and science are creating a false dichotomy.”

We applaud the goal of promoting a better understanding of the relationship between religion and science. We also applaud the objective of demonstrating that people do not have to choose between religion and science. The problem with Darwin Day and Darwin Weekend comes from the views of those who are leading these events. Anytime you have people with a background in theology trying to address a scientific subject or people with a scientific background trying to explain religious principles and applications; you are bound to have difficulties. Many religious leaders wish to make science and faith so separate and distinct from one another that laymen get the idea they have to decide between one of the two and avoid conflict by never letting the two come in near proximity. Over the five decades that I have been involved in talking about science and faith, I have had many instances where a preacher tells me you just have to believe what the Bible says, and that is that. They insist that all science is the work of humans, is flawed, and not worth your time. The problem is that they think their interpretation of what the Bible says is correct and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. In the meantime, they enjoy the benefits of modern science. Most young people have seen the benefits that science has brought, and they are not willing to embrace an interpretation of the Bible that seems to be mystical. I have also had people who consider the latest evolutionary theory to be sacred, and any questioning of their understanding of the theory to be an indication of religious bigotry. They relegate religion to the geriatric dump as a relic of historical value and nothing more.

As Darwin Day approaches, we need to consider what Darwin actually discovered and what it means for science and for faith. We will look into that as we continue tomorrow with part two.
–John N. Clayton © 2017