Design of an Elephant’s Trunk

Design of an Elephant’s Trunk

Some of the exciting things about the natural world are the cases where the design is so advanced that any evolutionary explanation is difficult to believe. An excellent example of that is the design of an elephant’s trunk.

Recent ultrasound studies of elephant trunks have shown they are incredibly complex examples of design. The elephant is the only living land animal to have a long boneless appendage. A septum stretching the length of the trunk separates the trunk’s two nostrils. The elephant can expand each nostril’s volume up to 64%. The flow rate of water through the trunk averages about 3.7 liters per second, which would be the same as 24 shower heads operating all at once.

An elephant’s trunk is not just a drinking straw. When the elephant uses the trunk for something other than water, such as food, the nostrils don’t expand, but the elephant uses its lungs to suck up the food. The nostrils can bring air in at more than 150 meters per second, 30 times as fast as in a human’s sneeze.

Research is continuing on the muscular design of an elephant’s trunk. The intricate muscular structure and lack of joints give the elephant a highly complex trunk movement. Engineers have built robotic devices based on the design of an elephant’s trunk,

One researcher commented, “You never know where bio-inspiration will lead.” Designs from Velcro to airplane wings have come about by studying what God has created in living things. Everywhere we look, we see that a wonder-working hand has gone before.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News July 3 & 17, 2021 page 11.

Human Sexuality and God’s Design

Human Sexuality and God’s Design

Human sexuality has been a concern of people throughout time, and the Bible deals with the subject extensively. When I was in college, I worked under the direction of Mrs. Wardell Pomeroy. Her husband was a co-worker with Alfred Kinsey, founder of the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University. At that time, I was an atheist, as was Kinsey, so I considered him a hero. One of Mrs. Pomeroy’s sons became a Christian minister, and that precipitated numerous discussions.

Kinsey had no place for God in his research. His view was that since humans are just mammals, we should be able to enjoy sex with any other mammal of our choosing. The Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky said it well: “If there is no God, all things are permissible.” As belief in God has decreased in western culture, Kinsey’s view of human sexuality has become widely accepted.

The New Testament teaches that the healthiest, most meaningful, most satisfying, and most pleasurable sexual experience is with a single marriage partner. Furthermore, the marriage should be a covenant of love, loyalty, care, and faithfulness. In Matthew 19:5, Jesus said, “A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” The Greek word translated “cleave” in the King James Version is “proskollao,” which means to “glue to” or “adhere to.” It is absolute and total unity, not just a physical union. God created human sexuality as a cleaving apparatus.

So what does the evidence show as working in human sexuality? Does the atheist view expressed by Kinsey and Pomeroy work? Every study on this subject has demonstrated that sexual activity outside of the biblical concept of marriage does not work. Here are some examples:

The National Survey of Counseling Directors – A study of 6500 sexually active adolescent girls found that they are three times more likely to be depressed. As a result, they are nearly three times as likely to attempt suicide as peers who are not sexually active.

The National Health and Social Life Council – Their most recent survey found that sexually active singles have the most sexual problems and get the least pleasure from sex. It also showed that couples in long-term marriages were the most satisfied demographic group.

The prominent scholar J.D. Unwin studied 86 civilizations and found that all 86 demonstrated that sexual fidelity was the most important predictor of a society’s ascendancy and strength. Unwin was not a believer and expressed amazement at his own findings.

Atheists are forced to conclude that sex is an evolutionary product and that human sexuality functions the same as that of any other mammal. The biblical view is that sex in humans is not just to produce offspring. Additionally, Human sexuality is a designed tool to assist and promote human relationships and provide stability in civilization. A great deal of the unrest and conflict in America today is rooted in society’s acceptance of the atheist view of sexuality.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Statistics from Reflections on the Existence of God by Richard Simmons, Union Hill Publishing © 2019.

The Age of the Earth and the Bible

The Age of the Earth and the Bible

One issue that seems never to go away is the age of the Earth. I frequently get letters from people saying, “If I didn’t have to believe the Earth is 6000 years old, I would be a Christian.”

The root of this problem is those who believe in the denominational doctrine of dispensationalism spend massive amounts of money attempting to justify their ideology. The list of promotors of this denominational tradition is vast. It started with John Nelson Darby, Cyrus Scofield, and D.L. Moody. These men published study Bibles and promoted the idea of seven discrete dispensations. The final dispensation is supposed to involve Israel becoming the world’s capital with Jesus Christ the King reigning from Jerusalem.

The televangelists of our day have modified some of that but have promoted much of it, including the young age of the Earth. The list of promoters of some version of dispensationalism is huge: Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, Charles Ryrie, John Walvoord, Eric Sauer, John Hagee, Jim Bakker, Jerry Falwell, Paul Crouch, Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Swaggart, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, dispensationalism is a major misunderstanding of the Bible and the nature of God and Jesus. Jesus will not be coming to wage a physical military war with the Chinese, Russians, or anyone else. “My kingdom is not of this world” does not involve any nation – including Israel. Joshua 23:14 tells us that God had fulfilled all the promises He made to Abraham. Colossians 2:8-14 makes it clear that Jesus took out all of the ancient teachings and laws connected with Israel as He established His Church – a spiritual kingdom. Ephesians 2:1-22 and Galatians 3:26-29 emphasize the oneness of the spiritual kingdom, with no nationalities or warfare of any kind.

The attempt to promote Israel’s physical domination of all Earth’s people started early in Church history. In Acts 15, the first century Christians dealt with attempts to promote Jewish tradition in the Church, and they rejected it. Jesus had difficulty getting His followers to understand that His kingdom was “not of this world (John 18:36), and we have the same battle today.

The bottom line is that the Bible does not tell us the age of the Earth. Yet, tragically, preaching schools and some Christian colleges continue to parrot the teachings of dispensationalism while denying that they are. The graduates of these schools and colleges go out and drive people away from God by promoting this denominational tradition that is wrong historically, scientifically, and logically. Tomorrow we want to look at some scientific and logical problems with this denominational teaching.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Why Do Churches Have Buildings?

Why Do Churches Have Buildings?

We frequently get letters or calls from atheists and skeptics complaining about the amount of money churches spend on buildings. Those conversations never last very long because I agree with the atheist challenges on this issue. The critical question is, “Why do churches have buildings?”

In the Old Testament, there was great emphasis on a building as a place for God to dwell. However, knowledgeable people even then realized that God could not be confined to the “Temple.” In 1 Kings 8:27, Solomon said this about the Temple he built, “The whole sky and the highest heaven cannot contain you. Certainly this Temple that I built cannot contain you either.” In Jeremiah 7:1-11, the prophet deals with what people were doing and what God wants. His reference to the Temple at the end of his discussion is, “the Temple is nothing more to you than a hideout for robbers.”

John 4 describes a discussion between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. She was concerned about where people ought to worship. In verse 20, she points out that the Samaritans were worshiping on Mt. Gerizim, and the Jews were worshiping Mt. Moriah. She wanted to know which was the right place. Jesus responds that neither place is the answer for true worship because “a time is coming and has come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” Biblical worship is not just something that happens in a building on Sunday morning. Throughout the New Testament, we see worship described in other terms. (See 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Colossians3:17; Acts 9:31.)

So why do churches have buildings where they meet and worship God? Buildings are vehicles to help Christians address the needs of others and to stimulate and motivate each other to be about their lives and work as Christians. In 1 Corinthians 16:2, the worship service was used to collect resources to meet the needs of others. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-30, Paul writes about communion. It is not just between the believer and God but between the members of the family of God as well. Paul says that without the mutual acts of communion, “many of you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”

Meeting together for worship allows us to “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19-20). Colossians 3:16 also tells us, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.” Finally, Hebrews 10:23-25 tells us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Paul then goes on to emphasize the importance of meeting together by saying, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some of you are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…”

God does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human hands as if He needed anything … for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24-28). Worship is 24/7, not just on Sunday mornings. Why do churches have buildings? Buildings help Christians meet in worship and encourage each other to go out and spread God’s love to the world. Using massive amounts of money to provide a building where Christians can be entertained is painfully ignorant of the true nature of God and what God wants His children to do.

— John N Clayton © 2021

Birds are Better Than Pesticides

Birds are Better Than Pesticides

One of the major scourges that farmers face is crop damage from insects. Farmers spend massive amounts of money on pesticides to get rid of the pests that invade almost every crop they grow. There is also a significant problem with rodents in some crops, and again chemical elimination of rodents is expensive and does a great deal of collateral damage. The solution to all of this is birds. Birds are better than pesticides.

God has always built into the natural environment a way to keep insects and rodents in check. Predators prevent the overpopulation of these pest challenges to human farmers. When humans kill off the predators, the only recourse is using chemicals. New studies have shown how vital birds are to the control of insects and rodents. Birds are better than pesticides. Here are some examples:

FLOOD CONTROL DAMS AND LEVEES – Ground squirrels and gophers burrow under dams and levees, causing the collapse of these structures. Chemical use of anticoagulant rodenticides cost Ventura County, California, $7500 a year and also killed coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. So instead, the county installed raptor perches to attract owls, hawks, and falcons. Studies showed that those birds were 67% more effective in controlling rodent burrows and saved $7500.

INDONESIAN CACAO PLANTATIONS – Yields of cacao, used for making chocolate, have increased by 290 pounds per acre after adding bird boxes to the fields.

EUROPEAN APPLE GROWERS – Growers have reduced caterpillar damage by 50% by adding nest boxes that attract insectivorous birds known as great tits.

COFFEE BEANS – Farmers in Jamaica added bird boxes and reduced the number of coffee berry borers, increasing profits by $126 per acre.

CALIFORNIA VINEYARDS – Pocket gophers and voles were damaging crops up to $58 per acre. A single family of barn owls placed in a nest box killed 3,000 rodents in a single year. Armyworms are a problem for U.S. Vineyards as well as for beet growers. In California, nest boxes have attracted bluebirds that eat 2.4 times the number of armyworms as areas without bird boxes.

WALNUT GROVES – Moth Larvae are a problem for walnut growers. Placing bird boxes eliminated four times as many of the larvae as other methods.

Humans have created many problems by not using God’s methods of controlling pests. Research shows that chemicals which cause cancer and other issues are not nearly as effective as birds in eliminating the scourges farmers face. Birds are better than pesticides.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Living Bird, Summer 2021, Volume 40 # 3, pages 33 – 42. Available from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Black Holes Prove the Universe Had a Beginning

Black Holes Prove the Universe Had a Beginning
First Black Hole Photograph from 2019

The cosmological evidence for the creation of the cosmos is vast. The first step in discussing this is whether there was a beginning to the cosmos or whether space, time, and matter/energy are eternal. Black holes prove the universe had a beginning.

For many years, atheists maintained that if believers can say that God has always existed, it is just as reasonable to say that matter/energy has always existed. Unbelieving scientists proposed many theories, such as the oscillating universe, to avoid the message of Genesis 1:1. However, the laws of thermodynamics made it difficult to believe that the cosmos has always existed.

New observations by astronomers have offered another proof that there was a beginning. Black holes are no longer just a theoretical tool of Einstein and other physicists. Astronomers have seen evidence of black holes. They have photographed them, and now but they have seen them in action. Scientists observed two black holes colliding, and they have detected a black hole swallowing a neutron star.

Neutron stars are the incredibly dense remains of a stellar collapse. One teaspoon of matter in a neutron star would have a mass of a billion tons. As astronomers watched, a black hole caught a neutron star in its gravitational field. The neutron star made 500 orbits of the black hole in less than a minute, generating as much energy as all the visible light in the observable universe. Scientists on Earth detected the bursts of energy from the collision in January of 2020, but they just released the data on June 29, 2021, in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

This observation shows that black holes are slowly vacuuming all of the matter in the cosmos into a single massive black hole. If the cosmos were eternal, they would have already completed that process. The fact that we see an early stage of a black hole eating the densest star in the cosmos shows that it will eventually happen if things continue as they are now. By this action, black holes prove the universe had a beginning.

There was a beginning to time, space, and matter/energy. All of the evidence supports that fact. The design features that we see everywhere in creation show us that we are not some cosmic coincidence but the product of an intelligence that had a purpose in creating us.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ac082e

The Futility of Atheism as a Source of Happiness

The Futility of Atheism as a Source of Happiness - Contentment in Faith

It is interesting to read the responses of various groups to what we post on this site. Atheist reactions to our discussions about the futility of atheism have been especially interesting. We have occasionally made the statement that one of the problems atheists face is that they see no purpose in their existence. On the other hand, atheists have responded that their pleasures in life serve as a purpose. 

Vladimir Putin recently made a statement published in Time magazine (July 5/July 12, 2021, page 6), “There is no happiness in life. There’s only a mirage on the horizon.” That is a quote from Leo Tolstoy, the Russian Nobel Prize winner in literature. Putin used it concerning the struggles between Russia and the United States. It is interesting that the Russian dictator living in the 21st century would draw on it. But, what did he mean by “happiness?”

Happiness and pleasure are two different things. For example, sexual pleasure is not happiness. A biblical example is the rape of Tamar by Amnon in 2 Samuel 13. After he raped Tamar, the passage tells us, “Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred for her was greater than the love by which he had loved her.” Thus, sexual pleasure is not happiness, and neither does having massive amounts of money bring happiness. Unfortunately, the life stories of some of the richest men in the history of America are largely tragic and often ending in suicide. 

How does an atheist deal with tragedies and illnesses in life? If the things you think will bring happiness are put out of reach by something you cannot control, what do you do? That is when the futility of atheism becomes apparent. 

On the other hand, Christians find happiness in fulfillment. Contentment is another word that that describes the fulfilled Christian who sees a purpose in life and hope for the future. Feeling God’s Spirit working in you as promised in Acts 2:38 will bring contentment. That is something that atheists cannot fully understand because their belief system does not allow it. 

— John N. Clayton © 2021

What I Learned in Paleontology Class

What I Learned in Paleontology Class - Trilobite Fossils
Trilobite Fossils

We want to share with you this article by Phillip Eichman about a class in paleontology, the study of the history of life on Earth based on fossils.

Back in the 70s, I was majoring in biology at Wright State University and needed some elective hours to graduate, so I signed up for a course in invertebrate paleontology. I had already taken a year of geology, and this was an upper-level course. However, what I learned in paleontology class when I was a young Christian made the course worthwhile.

I had been interested in rocks since I was a small child. So I began collecting them and found my first fossil before starting school. By the time I was in the fifth or sixth grade, my closet was stuffed with boxes of rocks and fossils, and I had practically worn out my Golden Guide book of Rocks and Minerals.

As a young Christian, I was a little concerned that this course in paleontology might somehow cause me to question my religious faith. But, as it turned out, this was one of my all-time favorite courses.

In the class, we went phylum by phylum, looking at the hard parts, noticing the main characteristics of the group, and learning how to identify the fossils. It was easy to see that the various groups developed, or evolved, over time, but they were still part of that major group. For example, the gastropods were still gastropods, and the brachiopods were still brachiopods. The same was true for the cephalopods, corals, trilobites, and others. There was no confusion caused by a huge number of “intermediate forms” that you hear about so often in the popular media.

This lack of intermediate forms is not consistent with the “amoeba to man” theory of evolution. It is, however, consistent with the biblical account of God creating various “kinds” of living things with the ability to change over time, or evolve, within those groups.

As has been pointed out many times in the Does God Exist? program, science and the Bible are not enemies if we understand both in the proper way. Instead of causing harm to my faith, what I learned in paleontology class and my study of fossils only strengthened my belief in God as the Creator.

— Phillip Eichman © 2021

The Axion and Science

The Axion and Science

As we said yesterday, science cannot detect 68.3% of the energy in the cosmos, but we know it is there because of its effect on the galaxies. Also, today’s scientists cannot detect 26.8% of the mass in the universe, but they know it is there because of gravity. They call it “dark matter.” To make their theories work, scientists now say that there must be a bizarre form of matter that does not affect or interact with light, visible or invisible, in any way. They call this hypothetical particle which cannot be seen or detected, “the axion.” The axion would explain dark matter, but the big question is how can we detect it?

As science attempts to understand the nature of the world we live in, it becomes evident that the creation is not just the physical world that our senses can detect. Seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling, and tasting are wonderful, but they are just physical manifestations of something far more significant.

For Christians, this is not the mystery that it might be to an atheist. Hebrews 11:3 says it well: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” My physics studies have convinced me that the world we can see is just a snippet of the total creation.

We are beginning to understand that there are many dimensions beyond what our senses perceive. Even when we extend our senses with machines, we still cannot detect the axion. The wonder of creation simply brings us back to the Psalmist’s song: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalms 19:1). The cry of wisdom in Proverbs 8:22-23 reminds us of our limitations: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way before His works of old I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or before the Earth existed.”

Remember that “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3). Science is a friend of faith, and God has given us a limited view of what He has done. The full scope of creation is beyond our comprehension, but science helps fill in some gaps in our understanding. Perhaps someday science will find the axion.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: American Scientists, May/June 2021, pages 158-165.

The Antimatter Dilemma

The Antimatter Dilemma

One of the fascinating problems scientists face as they investigate the creation is the antimatter dilemma. Einstein’s famous equation e=mc2 tells us that energy and mass are directly related. We know that mass can be turned into energy, which is the basis of the atomic bomb and nuclear power generation.

Complex experiments have allowed scientists to turn energy into mass, producing two kinds of matter. One kind of matter is the ordinary kind that we all know about – negative electrons, positive protons, and neutrons with no charge. The other kind of matter is the opposite of ordinary matter. The nucleus of this antimatter has negatively charged protons and electrons with a positive charge, called positrons. When antimatter comes in contact with ordinary matter, they destroy each other and revert to the energy from which they came.

Antimatter atoms do exist, and scientists can produce them in the laboratory. They must be stored in magnetic fields because they would destroy any container made of ordinary matter. If the universe was created by turning energy into matter, there should be equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the cosmos. The antimatter dilemma is how did our kind of matter get isolated so that we can exist?

We can’t tell if the stars we see are made of matter or antimatter. That is because the light coming from them is not matter, so antistar radiation and normal star radiation would look the same. The process that propels nuclear reactions in stars produces gamma rays. The gamma rays that the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is detecting are not what normal stars would produce. For that reason, astrophysicists believe they are seeing emissions from antimatter stars.

The Bible tells us that God is energy (light – 1 John 1:5). Because of that, God could create the universe by simply taking some energy and turning it into matter. Suggesting that the creation process was not guided by intelligence means some unknown force solved the antimatter dilemma by separating matter and antimatter at the point of creation. Of course, that does not explain the origin of energy. Researchers say that finding evidence for antimatter stars “would be a major blow for the standard cosmological model.”

“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” is a very simple statement, but the presence of antimatter tells us that what God did is incredibly complex. This is real creation and speaks once again of God’s wisdom and power.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News, June 5. 2021, pages 8-9.