Algae Solutions to Human Problems

Algae Solutions to Human ProblemsWhen you hear the word algae, negative thoughts may come to your mind. You may have problems with algae growths in your pond or birdbath. You have heard about toxic algal blooms that have hit seafood industries on the Pacific Coast. Many of us have viewed the red tide in Florida first hand. There are lawsuits in progress against companies that allowed chemical runoffs to trigger the destructive growth of algae in lakes and the ocean causing economic hardship for fishing trades and seafood producers. Unlike human-caused algae problems, there is a promise of algae solutions to human problems.

Consider the following facts:

Algae is probably our best tool for reducing greenhouse gases. Algae take carbon dioxide from the air and produce oxygen. More than half of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere comes from converting carbon dioxide to oxygen and algae is the primary agent for doing that. There is good evidence that excessive algae growth in the past caused global cooling.

Phytoplankton algae grow world-wide and make up the base of aquatic food-chains, eventually leading to most of the seafood we eat.

Giant kelp, which are algae, provide food and protected ecosystems for ocean creatures.

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, such as spirulina contain proteins, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. People in many countries have been harvesting spirulina for nutrition since the 1940s. Japanese cooks use algae in soups and sushi wrappers. The additives agar and carrageenan from algae are used in ice cream and jellies.

Symbiotic relationships exist between algae and coral, helping to prevent storm damage to coral reefs that house sea life and protect shoreline structures. Algae solutions to human problems are many.

Research continues into how we can use algae to produce fuel. New foods made of algae are being developed. Most recently sea grapes, which are algae, have been used as green caviar because their texture and appearance looks like caviar and they are very nutritious.

God has provided for us in so many ways that it has taken our entire human history to discover them. For many years people did not eat tomatoes because they were considered to be poisonous. That seems silly to us today when whole industries are built around the tomato. In the future, perhaps we can say the same of algae. These rootless, leafless plants have incredible potential to provide algae solutions to human problems both here on Earth and as we travel into outer space.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Reference: Science Digest, July 2019

School Counselors Available

School Counselors AvailableI was always amazed at the magnitude of the challenges that I was asked to deal with as a public high school science teacher. Kids would come to me with problems that were not only huge but sometimes life-threatening. Several times in my 41-year career, students told me that they were going to kill themselves. I was expected to handle every situation on my own. There were no professionally-trained school counselors available, no matter how bad the situation.

People wonder why we have school shootings all over this country. With the breakdown of the family and the lack of any moral code in the lives of today’s adolescents, school shootings are not surprising. The July 2019 issue of NEA Today published a report on this dilemma. According to recent surveys, the ratio of counselors to students in the United States is 444 to 1. There are 1.7 million students with no access to counselors and six million students who cannot see a school psychologist and ten million students who have no social workers available to them.

In my years of teaching, counselors helped students make our their class schedules. The school system had professional people in the administration building, but they rarely got to the schools, and when they did, it was for special needs situations. There were no school counselors available for personal contact with most of the kids.

As we continue to force religion out the lives of young men and women, we will continue to find them adrift in a world that is full of huge and growing challenges. Local Church congregations have an excellent opportunity to help save lives as well as souls by having people available to work in the vacuum that American education presents.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Definition of Marriage

Definition of Marriage One of the issues that arouse emotional response from many people in our culture is the subject of marriage. The gay community has brought a challenge to western culture by tying human rights to the issue of marriage, and essentially demanding that marriage be redefined to eliminate the biblical concept. The logical outcome of that change is whether there can be an absolute definition of marriage.

Since we live in a culture that is attempting to do away with absolutes, you can expect that to applied to an absolute definition of marriage. If that is the case, then many other forms of marriage will be viewed as acceptable. Polygamy (one husband, many wives) as taught by Islam and many Mormons would have to be condoned. Group marriages, polyandrous marriages (one wife, many husbands), family marriages, and any number of other things the human mind can conceive will become acceptable. There are those in our society who are willing to say that any system a person wants to engage in should be accepted by society at large because that is a basic tenet of human rights.

What is happening in the Muslim world today is a good demonstration of why this kind of thinking will not work. Various cultures practice polygamy, but Islam is the only religion that specifically sanctions it. Mohammed had five wives, and the Koran suggests that is the proper number. Osama bin Laden’s father had 52 children by 16 wives. Not all Muslims embrace polygamy just as they do not all embrace jihad. However, the Koran is very clear in sanctioning polygamy, and Muslim fundamentalists embrace and enforce it among populations where they have control. Mansour al-Nogaidan, a Saudi Arabian dissident, described his own experience in clear terms: “You can’t have a girlfriend in this society, it is too expensive to marry. As a young man, all you are thinking about is sex, so the teachers tell us, ‘Don’t worry, no need now, when you kill yourself you’ll have plenty of girls in heaven.’ “What does this practice do?

William Tucker writing in The American Spectator (June 2004, pages 50-52) summarized it, this way:

“In a society where not all men will be able to reproduce, excess males have very little social value. Therefore it is not surprising to find among this bachelor cohort three major characteristics: (1) an excess of pent-up sexual frustration, (2) an internalized sense of personal worthlessness, and (3) an extremely nihilistic-shall we say suicidal-disposition toward self-immolation and violence. Suicide bombers are easily recruited in these ranks.”

Some people maintain that all religions are equal and that there should be no discussion of why one religion might be in error while another is correct. They should look logically at where the teachings of various religions lead. The gay marriage issue may not produce a gender imbalance, but it does lead to other consequences. The most fundamental problem is that if the definition of marriage changes according to everyone’s personal rights, then marriage becomes meaningless.

The Christian system clearly identifies the concept of marriage as one man one wife for life. That is the ideal and what God intended from the beginning. Polygamy was allowed in the Old Testament, but it was a human modification, not God’s original plan. Genesis 2:24 clearly states that a “man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife [not wives], and they become one flesh.” In the New Testament there is a clear definition of marriage in these terms, and even commands that husband and wife should not separate for any significant time to avoid passion leading to adultery (see 1 Corinthians 7:4-9).

The logic of God’s definition of marriage is clear. A stable marriage between a man and a woman leads to the birth of children who are raised in intact families leading to a healthy society. Since babies are born in roughly equal sexual numbers, there should essentially be a mate for every human. Everyone has the potential right to sexual and emotional fulfillment in marriage according to God’s design. Changing the definition of marriage will ultimately bring misery and unhappiness to humans. All other options lead to disease, problems for children, abuse, and chaos for society. The Christian institution of marriage according to God’s plan is a great apologetic for the validity of the Christian system.
–John N. Clayton © 2019

Fetal Tissue Medical Research

Erasing Fetal Tissue Medical ResearchThe U.S. government makes money available for grants to investigate cures for everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s. New rules restrict federal money available for medical research that uses fetal tissue from elective abortions. All kinds of inflammatory arguments have been made about this, as they have in the past. The Los Angeles Times claims that the restrictions on funding fetal tissue medical research are “nothing more than a sop to the religious right.”

The issue of fetal tissue medical research demands more thoughtful reporting. Here are some interesting facts that we have not seen reported in the major media:

Using fetal cell materials creates a huge potential for abuse. Women can be paid to produce fetuses for abortion, as some documented cases have shown. Planned Parenthood has had a particular problem with this issue.

Government grants in the past have focused on fetal remains. Because of that, alternatives such as pluripotent stem cells derived from adult cells have not been investigated in the U.S., as they have in other countries such as Japan.

Only three of 75 vaccines available in the United States still utilize legacy fetal cell lines.

The artificial production of fetal tissue can supply many of the needs of research projects. The potential is there, but research in this area has slowed because of the availability of fetal tissue from abortion clinics.

Conflict over the use of fetal tissue medical research, like most other issues, can be solved by people working together. Unfortunately, modern media outlets continue to distort the facts to promote their own political position. There is a difference between reporting the news and promoting the news.

When we consider all of the evidence, it should be obvious that fetal tissue can uniquely be used for some medical research, but making it the only test material available to researchers is unwise and unnecessary.

If we reduce the market value of aborted babies and look for other new tools of research, our value on all human life can do nothing more than improve.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Reference: The Week, June 21, 2019, page 5.

Biblical Giants and Fake Giants

Biblical Giants and Fake GiantsOne of the enduring religious myths of all cultures is the myth of giant humans. Jack and the Beanstalk is just one of the great folk tales that frequently have religious roots. There is great confusion concerning biblical giants and fake giants.

The truth is that nowhere in the Bible is there a reference to humans two or three times the size of modern humans. Furthermore, there is absolutely no factual find of a giant human skull or body. There have been fakes, scams, hoaxes, and money-making frauds but no factual support for giant humans.

Concerning biblical giants, here are the Hebrew words that the King James Version translated as “giant”:

“Gibbor” Job 16:14

“Rapha” Deuteronomy 2:11, 20; 3:11,13; Joshua 12:4; 13:12; 15:8; 17:15; 18:16; 2 Samuel 21:16, 18, 20, 22 ; 1 Chronicles 20:4, 6, 8.

“Nephilim” Genesis 6:4; Numbers 13:33.

A careful study of these three words shows that none of them refer to the stature of the individual. Any Hebrew dictionary will explain what the words meant when they were written. I use The New Bible Dictionary published by Eerdmans. Here are the meanings:

“Gibbor” Refers to a mighty man or hero. It is translated that way in most cases, such as in Genesis 6:4, Joshua 1:14, and 1 Samuel 9:1. However, as you can see above, the KJV also translated it as “giant,” which is misleading.

“Rapha” Usually refers to descent from Rephaim of Deuteronomy 2:20 etc. Historical and archaeological records show humans that were roughly the size of humans today. The average height of humans at that time was close to five feet. In Jesus’ time, a man five feet three inches tall is referred to in some literature as a man of great stature. Goliath, by the way, is never described as a “giant” in the Bible. First Samuel 17:4 give Goliath’s height, but there is some confusion as to whether it 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m) or 9 feet 9 inches (2.97 m).

“Nephilim” Literally means “fallen ones” and the context of Genesis 6:4 is clearly referring to people who had rejected God and were pagans who violated God’s laws and guidance. Israel’s constant drift into paganism and idolatry is what the passage deals with, not aliens or spirit creatures.

As to fake giants, there have been many. One of the most famous was the Cardiff Giant in 1869. George Hull was a scammer who repeatedly went after religious people. He took an eleven-foot block of gypsum from a quarry and sculptured it into a giant that looked like a petrified human. He buried the “giant” on a farm and over a year later hire some people to dig a well at that spot. The diggers uncovered the “giant,” it got widespread media attention, and eventually, it sold for what would have been $600,000 today.

There are biological reasons why an 11-foot human couldn’t survive. A man named Robert Wadlow grew to eight feet eleven inches, but only lived to age 22 and was in very bad health. The Bible does not talk about giants of 12 feet or so, and there is no evidence that giants have ever lived. We need to study the text to see what the Scriptures say about biblical giants, and fake giants should arouse our skepticism.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Reference: Skeptic magazine. Volume 24 #2 2019, pages 64-73.

Mental Illness and Teen Euthanasia

Mental Illness and Teen Euthanasia
On June 2, 2019, a 17-year-old girl named Noa Pothoven starved herself to death. She had endured a long battle with mental illness resulting from multiple rapes at ages 11 and 14. It was her second attempt to end her life by starvation. Last year, medical personnel placed her in a medically induced coma and used a feeding tube to keep her alive. This time her parents respected her wishes and allowed her to die. This case brings up many issues about mental illness and teen euthanasia.

This incident took place in the Netherlands where assisted suicide is legal for troubled children as young as 12 “providing there is strong medical evidence that psychiatric conditions have made their lives ‘unbearable.’” It is wrong to assume that any human can get to a mental state that is 100% hopeless and that they cannot be helped by any treatment. Ms. Pothoven was very vocal about her pain and frustration. She wrote an autobiography titled Winning or Learning (Winnen of Leren in Dutch) to describe her anguish. She had 10,000 Instagram followers and shortly before her death she told them,“After years of fighting and fighting it is finished.”

There were numerous mistakes in the way people handled this young woman’s case. At age 11, she was raped at a school party where there should have been adult supervision. She was raped again by two men at a teen party at age 14. She was ashamed to tell her parents about the rapes, and she never reported them to the police. The trauma from those rapes resulted in periods of being housed in group homes and mental hospitals. She was turned away by a Dutch euthanasia clinic and she was on a waiting list for radical treatments such as shock therapy. Finally with the cooperation of her parents, she refused all food and drink and passed away at home.

By applying Christian love and principles of caring, people can be helped, even with conditions like this young woman. If Christian love and caring had been applied from the beginning, she would not have gotten into that condition. Human life is precious and sacred, and even severe conditions of physical or mental illness do not change that fact. Mental illness and teen euthanasia are serious matters and we hope that she does not set an example for her 10,000 Instagram followers.
— John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2019

Reference: There are numerous reports of this incident on the internet. Just search for Noa Pothoven.

Laws Threaten Christian Ministries

Laws Threaten Christian MinistriesSometimes governments pass laws with good motives, but when the law is applied, it has terrible consequences. In recent times we have seen laws threaten Christian ministries. Those who are trying to help people in the name of Jesus Christ should not be punished for doing so.

A classic example is the Downtown Hope Center’s Women’s Shelter in Anchorage, Alaska. The Center serves both men and women in the daytime, but at night it only houses abused women. The women sleep in military type rooms with beds a few feet apart. Because virtually all of the women in the shelter have psychological issues from being, it is essential that no males be sleeping among them. The Center denied access to a man who claims to be a woman. The Anchorage city government told the shelter to get on board with the laws demanding equality or close its doors.

We are getting notice after notice of other Christian facilities who have similar threats. In some cases, they have been shut down by government officials. Washington State Senate Bill 6219 forces employers who offer employee insurance with maternity care to include abortion. The Cedar Park Church has filed a lawsuit against the state of Washington because the church is involved in a maternity care program that provides for foster care and adoption. By its very definition, it would seem that “maternity care” would not include abortion. Laws threaten Christian ministries by requiring them to fund abortion when that goes against their core beliefs.

The number of cases is growing at an alarming rate, much of it initiated by atheist groups. In most cases, churches are merely closing down ministries and shelters where this type of thing becomes an issue.

For more on this, go to ADFlegal.org.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Why Does God Allow Suffering?Why does God allow suffering? That is one of the most common questions we hear. Many atheists who comment on our posts try to prove that God cannot exist because there is suffering in the world. They are assuming that if God existed, His purpose would be to give us happiness all the time. Since He doesn’t, that means God can’t possibly exist.

That mindset assumes that we are God’s pets, and His responsibility is to see that we don’t get hurt no matter what we do. There is no doubt that we do many foolish and hurtful things. So why do we think that God should be our servant to keep us always happy as if happiness is the primary goal of life?

However, if God does exist (as we believe He does), He should have a more important goal than taking care to always provide us with what we think we need to be happy. What happens if human parents bow to every whim of their children by always giving them what they want and expect? The result is a spoiled child. Sometimes after warnings to a child, the parent has to stand by and watch the child make bad decisions in the hope that they will learn from their mistakes.

What if the primary goal of human life is not happiness? What if the primary goal is to learn to know and trust God? It is that knowledge of and trust in God that will bring–if not continual happiness–true fulfillment and ultimately, everlasting fulfillment. Why does God allow suffering? Although the suffering in this world may be counterproductive to our happiness, it might help us to gain a deeper knowledge of God and dependence on His love.

We can’t explain suffering in all of its forms. Nobody can. We can’t see the ultimate purpose and outcome from where we stand, but God can. We can be reassured by knowing that God Himself is acquainted with suffering (Isaiah 53:3) and that He cares (John 11:35).
— Roland Earnst © 2019

Zoopharmacognosy Animal Doctors

Zoopharmacognosy Animal Doctors Zoopharmacognosy is a word you don’t see every day. It’s actually a combination of three Greek words which mean “animal” (zoo), “drug” (pharma), and “knowing” (gnosy). It refers to animals using plants, soils, insects, or drugs to solve specific medical problems. It is animals (not humans) medicating themselves. Mammals, birds, and even insects use zoopharmacognosy to cure medical problems, and sometimes to prevent them. Here are a few examples.

It is fairly common to see a sick dog or cat eating grass to induce vomiting.

Sick chimpanzees swallow bitter leaves of Aspilia, a plant that contains an anti-parasitic chemical. The leaves are covered with bristles and bitter tasting so the chimps roll up the leaves and swallow them whole like we might take a pill.

Others chimps and bonobos with diarrhea will split open the stem of an Aframomum plant and suck the bitter juice. The juice contains chemicals which kill parasites which cause diarrhea.

Spider monkeys in Brazil have been seen eating seed pods from a tree known as monkey ear or elephant ear (Enterolobium cyclocarpum) during mating season. The fruit contains progesterone which promotes female fertility.

Brown bears make a paste from the chewed roots of osha (Ligusticum porteri) mixed with saliva and rub it into their fur to repel insects and soothe the bites. The plant contains coumarins which repel fleas and ticks.

To get rid of lice, many songbirds with put ants on their feathers or even roll in an anthill. The ants secrete formic acid, which kills feather lice.

Ants infected with Beauveria bassiana, a soil fungus, will eat harmful substances that are antifungal.

Many kinds of animals will eat dirt to absorb toxins, to combat parasites, or as an antacid. Sometimes they eat dirt to supplement minerals that are missing in their diet.

Pregnant elephants will chew the leaves of a specific tree in the Boraginaceae family to induce labor. Kenyan women make tea from those leaves to help with childbirth. In many cases, people have learned medicines and tonics from animals.

There are many more examples of zoopharmacognosy in which animals act as their own doctors. How did animals get this knowledge? It seems to be instinctive, not learned. Perhaps this instinct was put within the genetic code of these animals by their Creator.
— Roland Earnst © 2019

LGBTQ Lifestyles and God

LGBTQ Lifestyles and GodIn yesterday’s post, we said that homosexuality is perhaps the most inflammatory issue of our day. We emphasized that even though Bible passages such as Romans 1:24-28 condemn homosexual behavior, Christians must have love and compassion for everyone, including those with LGBTQ lifestyles. We concluded by saying that there are probably many causes of homosexuality, but God is not one of them. What are some possible causes and consequences?

Ellen DeGeneres is a well-known gay celebrity and advocate for LGBTQ lifestyles. She recently shared her early life publicly and told of horrible abuse by her stepfather. Many times victims are abused in infancy. Environmental issues may also be involved, and especially drugs and drug disposal. It appears that in many cases a person’s sexual orientation was not a conscious choice. The fact that fish in the Potomac River have had their sexual orientation changed because of hormone disposal by a drug company underlines how easy it is for human abuse of the environment to upset the reproductive systems of living things.

LGBTQ lifestyles are generally not healthy lifestyles. Government statistics on the life expectancy of various lifestyle choices show a dramatic shortening of life by sexual orientation. The incidence rate of HIV infection in male homosexuals cannot be denied. It is true that transgender individuals must follow a drug regime to maintain their chosen sexual identity for their entire lives, and that has adverse side effects.

Sexual activity in humans IS a choice, but feelings may not be. We reviewed Guy Hammond’s book Caring Beyond the Margins in which he explains that while he is attracted to men, he has chosen not to express that attraction in physical activity. (He is married, has children and a ministry). We are not robots. We can choose to be celibate. We can delay sexual activity until marriage. Sex outside of marriage is wrong, and rape is a travesty of sex.

God created sex as a beautiful thing that two people can treasure and share. We need to treat one another with care, compassion, concern, and support of healthy choices physically and emotionally. When we abuse those choices, there are consequences that sometimes hurt others. Pray for those who are struggling with the complex and emotional issues of LGBTQ lifestyles.
— John N. Clayton © 2019