End Of Life and God

End Of Life and GodOne of the most difficult personal issues of today is what a person should do when they are very near the end of life, and their quality of life is zero. Medical science has progressed to the point where a person can continue to be alive even though they are in enormous pain and connected to machines with no hope of ever being free of wires and tubes. Most of us do not want to ever be in that situation, but the fact is that many of us will be.

I have a Buddhist friend who maintains that having a difficult time in life at any stage is payment for sin, and we should not do anything to minimize that payment. There are many Christians who maintain that God and God alone should determine the time of our death and that extending or reducing the time of death is wrong.

We are not talking about suicide in the sense of wanting to leave this life because of relationship problems or failures in life. We are talking about cases like a woman named Brittany, who had an aggressive brain tumor. After an eight-hour surgery, doctors told her that they could not get it all and that within six months, she would die. Doctors told her that “her symptoms were going to get much worse with brutal headaches, seizures, a loss of motor and cognitive abilities, a change in her personality, and ultimately she would die.” She did die on her 30th birthday in Oregon where she and her family had moved because physician help in dying is available there.

This case has been publicized by an organization called “Compassion and Choices.” They are pushing for nation-wide acceptance of “physician-assisted compassionate death.” They are using Brittany Diaz as their poster child. There are all kinds of issues involved in a case like Brittany’s. The medical profession has been lax in dealing with pain, and the current opioid crisis has made the situation worse. The potential for abuse in end of life cases is enormous. The expense of keeping a terminal patient alive can bankrupt a family. On the other hand, end of life situations frequently provide for healing among those left behind and also allow a person a final opportunity to be obedient to God. How should Christians deal with this issue?

The first point we need to understand is that death from a biblical standpoint is when the soul returns to God. It is not when the heart stops beating or when the person stops breathing. A person can be dead, and yet their body can continue to do biological functions. The Bible tells us that the body is the “temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you. If any man defiles the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). This same principle is involved in 1 Corinthians 6:15-20, where Paul condemns prostitution by again referring to the body as “the temple of the Holy Spirit.” He ends by saying, “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

We are not talking about “pulling the plug” in this discussion. Christians can work with their physicians when death is near to stop the pain and yet allow the person to continue to manage their affairs. Giving enough relief from pain to cause a person to be unable to manage their affairs is rarely the situation, and it is not actively killing the person. Even giving morphine can accelerate the death of an individual by suppressing breathing, but pain killers should be available for every individual.

Each case is different, and each person should make clear what they want to be done when the end of life is near. When God has more work for a person to do, and they are able to do it, physician-assisted suicide should not be forced upon them.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Reference: CompassionAndChoices.org.

Does God Cause Natural Disasters?

Does God Cause Natural Disasters?One of the struggles we all have is understanding why God allows disastrous events that cause massive destruction and suffering to humans. Atheists use this question as a club against faith, and it is perhaps their best weapon. The list of events that harm humans is huge – earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, landslides, fires, floods, droughts, etc. At this time of the year, hurricanes are at the front of our awareness. Does God cause natural disasters to punish people?

If you have just seen a natural event take place that destroyed your home and killed a loved one, no rational explanation is going to be of any help. Our hearts go out to those of you who are trying to make sense of what seems to be a senseless disaster that has hurt them in ways that no one else can understand. We don’t want anyone to think that we have all the answers. If somehow we can remove ourselves from our own emotions, here are three things we need to understanding:

1) God does not cause disasters. The notion that God brings catastrophes upon people He doesn’t like, or people who violate His laws or commands is inconsistent with the nature of God. James 1:13 tells us clearly that God doesn’t tempt us in any way. The passage specifically deals with moral temptation, but verse 17 goes on to say that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” God brings good things. Jealousy or vindictiveness is not a part of His nature.

2) Human stupidity in the face of natural processes is a significant cause of calamity. Hurricanes are a classic example of this. The Earth has zones of climate that are made functional by natural processes which create climate zones. The Hadley Cell explains these zones, with different zones creating tropical rainforests and deserts. Those zones are balanced by natural processes such as hurricanes that carry water into what would otherwise be a desert. Thirty-degree latitudes north and south would be deserts if it were not for hurricanes that bring massive amounts of water to recharge water supplies. In the United States, northern Florida and southern Georgia would be deserts with no water were it not for hurricanes. Humans ignoring this system and building in areas known to be vulnerable to hurricanes while removing natural barriers such as mangroves causes much of the suffering and death.

3) Human mismanagement of God’s creation due to greed and ignorance is a major cause of human suffering. Genesis 2:15 tells us that God gave humans the assignment to take care of “the garden, to dress it and keep it.” We are the caretakers of what God has created, but selfishness and greed have caused significant suffering and destruction. We all know that polluting the air, rivers, lakes, and now the ocean has led to cancer and now appears to be affecting Earth’s climate. We all understand that exploitative agriculture has led to fires, erosion, dust storms, and insect swarms. Scientific journals are full of studies showing how human mismanagement of what God has given us is leading and has led to disaster.

Does God cause natural disasters? The answer is “NO!” It isn’t God’s will that humans suffer from natural disasters, but God has never promised us that He will protect us from ourselves. What God has done is to build a base by which His servants can help those who are suffering. The Church has a responsibility to show God’s love and compassion for the hurting. Atheists need to pitch in and help clean up the mess, not try to blame God. (Read Matthew 25:31-40.)
— John N. Clayton © 2019

National Geographic and Alternative Medicine

National Geographic and Alternative Medicine
We frequently refer to articles in National Geographic magazine. There have been times when the National Geographic Society has jumped to conclusions about some issue because of their bias to the currently held scientific beliefs. That is especially true when evolutionary theory is involved. However, their articles always have excellent photography and are usually well documented by credible scientists. That makes the relationship between National Geographic and alternative medicine very surprising.

The National Geographic Society has published six books promoting alternative medicine that are not only bad science but also bad journalism. These books go back to 2010, but in the last three years, the books have moved past just presenting data and have gone to promoting a wide range of alternative remedies.

In 2010 they released a book titled Guide to Medicinal Herbs followed by Complete Guide to Natural Home Remedies in 2012. Starting in 2014 the editors began promoting what they called Healing Remedies, Nature’s Best Remedies (2015), Natural Home Remedies (2017), and Nature’s Best Remedies (2019). These books claimed to offer ways to cure or heal illnesses. It is disturbing is that there is virtually no documentation nor any attempt to point out problems in the promoted “remedies” such as side effects or possible collateral damage.

It is important to understand that there are natural materials that can help treat physical problems in the human body. It is also important to know that this is a huge business with an expanding market making it attractive to every fast-talking con-artist. There is virtually no supervision of alternative medicine. That means people can make all kinds of claims without documenting them. To see National Geographic enter this circus is very disappointing. Skeptical Inquirer has taken on National Geographic in their September/October 2019 special issue titled “The Health Wars.” Skeptical Inquirer describes the problem this way:

Producing books full of claims that lack evidence and don’t even meet minimum scientific standards belies the NGS’s stated ‘passion for science.’ Some of the advice can actually harm. The inconsistencies among the books are troubling and weaken any argument that they are providing ‘information people can trust.’ The National Geographic Society should not sully its reputation by promoting health practices and products not supported by credible scientific evidence.”

We encourage those interested in alternative medicine to examine what is presented in this issue of Skeptical Inquirer about National Geographic and alternative medicine. Click HERE to read the article and always use caution when taking medical advice.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Your Heart Is More than a Muscle

Your Heart Is More than a MuscleI recently had some concerns about my heart, which turned out to be unfounded. In the process of various tests, one of my atheist friends said to me, “Well, after all, your heart is just a muscle, but I guess you religious guys don’t believe that, do you?” My response was, “Well, you don’t either!” Your heart is more than a muscle.

All of us know that the physical heart beating inside our chest is a muscle. It is probably the most studied muscle in the body. I was fascinated as I watched my heartbeat in the echocardiogram. I was amazed to have the heart specialist point out the valves and the design of the vascular system that feeds blood throughout my body. It was also interesting that I could change the rate of my heartbeat, and in turn, my blood pressure, by thinking about certain things. The technician doing my echocardiogram said, “Oh yes, there’s a lot more to the heart than the muscle.”

In the Bible, the word “heart” has many uses. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for “heart” occurs 29 times referring to the physical organ directly or figuratively. (See 1 Samuel 25:37, 2 Samuel 18:14, 2 Kings 9:24.) Old Testament writers use the word 257 times to refer to personality, inner life, or character. (See Exodus 9:14, 1 Samuel 16:7, Genesis 20:5.) An additional 166 times it refers to emotional states of consciousness. Some examples are: intoxication (1 Samuel 25:36), joy or sorrow (Judges 18:20, 1 Samuel 1:8), anxiety (1 Samuel 4:13), courage and fear (Genesis 42:28), and love 2 Samuel 14:1). Also 204 times it refers to intellectual activities such as attention (Exodus 7:23), reflection (Deuteronomy 7:17), memory (Deuteronomy 4:9), understanding (1 Kings 3:9), or technical skill (Exodus 28:3).

Finally, 195 times it refers to volition or purpose (1 Samuel 2:35). This varied use continues in the New Testament with the most common application referring to our mind. (See Mark 12:30-33.) Your heart is more than a muscle.

The point is that the word “heart” is used frequently referring to something that is the center of things and rarely does it refer to the physical heart that beats within our chest. God calls us to put Him and His Word at the center of our lives. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Paul wrote that when “Christ dwells in our hearts by faith,” we can comprehend the love of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). In that sense, it is true that your heart is more than a muscle.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

God’s Environmental Solutions

God's Environmental SolutionsWith a growing human population, environmental toxins, the warming of our planet, and the shortages of potable water, we recognize that Earth is under stress. News reports tell of people dying because of ecological problems. It is essential to understand that all of this pain, death, and turmoil are unnecessary. When God created planet Earth, He built into it many self-correcting tools for survival. If you name a major problem that threatens the long term existence of humans, I believe there is a built-in device that can correct the problem. God designed the Earth to withstand even the abuse that selfishness, ignorance, and greed have brought upon it. Here are a few examples of God’s environmental solutions:

Carbon dioxide and global warming. Several greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, but the main one is carbon dioxide. Not only do animals exhale carbon dioxide, but fires produce it, so human-caused fires are a contributor. God beautifully designed planet Earth with tools to contain carbon dioxide. Plants take it out of the air and release oxygen as a product of photosynthesis. This system is highly efficient as a single tree can take care of the carbon produced by one human. Plants in the ocean do the same thing. Human deforestation of both the land and the sea thwarts the system God put in place to sustain life on Earth. God’s environmental solutions are there if we will use them.

Water. Oceans cover roughly 3/4ths of Earth’s surface, but water shortages plague a significant percentage of the world’s population. The obvious problem is that because of minerals in the water, ocean water cannot be consumed directly by humans or most animals or plants. But the 50-quadrillion tons of minerals in the oceans, including 4.5 billion tons of uranium, have 14,000 industrial uses. God’s environmental solutions not only provide enough water for every living thing on the planet but also a wealth of minerals to sustain an advanced society.

Toxins. In the past five years, science has discovered that a Chinese brake fern (Pteris vittata) can survive on arsenic. Arsenic is a significant pollutant poisoning millions of people in the world, causing skin lesions, cancer, and other illnesses. Finding a plant that removes arsenic from the environment is a significant breakthrough. Over the past several years, we have mentioned other plants that provide environmental cleansing. Scientists have found bacteria that eat plastics and others that consume crude oil. These are more of God’s environmental solutions to tackle the plastic trash and oil spills in the ocean.

We need to allocate research funding to learn more about God’s environmental solutions to counter ecological problems. God has given us resources to repair the damage we have done to the environment. Maybe the problems we see around us will bring us to accept what God has provided and have the heart to think beyond our own selfish interests.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Reference: Scientific American, September 2019, page 18.

Dinosaur Blood Pressure

Dinosaur Blood Pressure in BarosaurusIt’s an animal that does not exist on Earth today and which poses some serious challenges to a chance explanations. It’s a dinosaur called the barosaurus. Skeletal remains of this animal show that its head would have towered fifty feet (more than 15 m) above the ground. We have seen drawings of these huge herbivorous dinosaurs. Many of us have seen the reconstructions based on the bones such as the one shown in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. No one denies the size of the animal. The problems come when we start looking at its anatomy. The problem of dinosaur blood pressure raises some serious questions.

The animal with the longest neck today is the giraffe. To get blood to its brain, a giraffe has a systolic blood pressure as high as 350. Systolic pressure is the pressure produced when the heart contracts. For humans, anything over 140 is considered high. To create that much pressure, the weight of the giraffe’s heart weighs is about 25 pounds (11.3 kg). A human heart weighs about 11 ounces (310 grams). For a barosaurus, the heart would have to weigh tons. Also, the blood vessels would have to be extraordinarily thick. It is difficult, if not impossible, to believe that such conditions could exist.

Years ago, two scientists working at the investigative Cardiology Laboratory at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York developed a proposal that barosaurus had eight hearts. They suggested a heart like ours pumped blood from the body to the lungs and back. They then suggested a complicated series of seven other hearts. Their idea was that there would be a single-chamber secondary heart above the primary one. It would have one-way valves to boost the blood into the neck. Above the second heart, the artery would divide into two branches sending blood to the brain. Three hearts along each branching artery would pump the blood to the next heart until it reached the brain. This arrangement would reduce the dinosaur blood pressure so that the systolic pressure would max out at about 180.

This is a theory which in all probability will always remain as just another imaginative proposal. It is doubtful that there will ever be any way to test it. The point is that the anatomical complexity and the number of critical parameters required would make this dinosaur blood pressure system virtually impossible to happen by chance. Each heart’s pressure would have to be critically adjusted to just enough to move the blood to the next level. If the dinosaur blood pressure were too high, it would damage the delicate valves of the next heart. What would happen when the animal ran? Each heart would have to speed up, but not at the same rate.

We suggest that proposals like this defy any possible accidental cause. If a person wants to accept chance as a faith proposition in spite of its inadequacies, they are certainly free to do so. But the more variables that must be controlled to achieve the desired effect, the less likely it is that the result can be a product of chance. They can better be explained by design.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

You Are a Spaceship with a Full Crew

You Are a SpaceshipOne of the most interesting sites on the web is the “Astronomy Picture of the Day” produced by NASA. This website features a new picture every day, usually of objects in deep space with an explanation of the image. On August 18, 2019, there was a beautiful artistic rendition of a human with a star-filled background titled “Human as Spaceship.” (Because of copyright we can’t show you the picture, but you can see it HERE.) The opening line of the explanation is, “You are a spaceship soaring through the universe.”

The point of the presentation is that as we soar through the universe, we are not alone. We are the captains of our ships, our human bodies because we are not a singular living organism. There are a massive number of separate organisms that exist inside our bodies that do specific things for us. They help digest food, fight disease and infection, and carry vital materials on a liquid highway (your bloodstream) from one end of your body to the other. These organisms are the crew of this spaceship. They are bacteria, fungi, and archaea, and they actually outnumber your own cells. Science still doesn’t know what many of these organisms do, but they have their own DNA, and together they make up the human microbiome. You are a spaceship with a massive crew.

We sometimes seem to view God’s creation of the human body as a process similar to building a machine. To build a machine you would put together pre-manufactured parts in a prescribed way. To build a working and living human body requires a host of communities which do the jobs they were designed to do in ways that science is just beginning to understand.

David said it best in Psalms 139:14: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works.”
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Inconsistency of Abortion Issues

Inconsistency of Abortion IssuesThere are so many problems with the inconsistency of abortion issues in America that it’s hard to know where to start. Where does a woman’s right concerning her body stop and where do the baby’s rights begin? When is abortion infanticide? When is it murder to kill a baby?

On August 2, 2019, a 29-year-old woman in Anderson, Indiana, was shot in the head by her boyfriend. She was 21 weeks pregnant, and her twins died before she did. The boyfriend has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, and two counts of murder and feticide for killing the twins. The dictionary defines feticide as the destroying of a fetus or the causing of an abortion. In Indiana knowingly or intentionally killing a fetus in any developmental stage is murder. As we pointed out in our earlier post, in some states, a baby can be put to death at the time of birth.

The inconsistency of abortion issues is very obvious. It is compounded by the refusal to deal with the evidence and the facts of conception and birth. You cannot defend the position that the fetus is an extension of the mother’s body. Morning sickness is because the woman’s body knows that the baby is a foreign entity.

When the sperm meets the egg, an individual is formed with a unique genome. Before birth, the unborn child is aware of much of what is going on in the world outside the mother’s body. There are other options available to a woman who has a baby inside her that she doesn’t want to raise. As the father of three adopted children, I know the joy that any child can bring to those couples who want to be parents but are unable to do so for medical reasons.

The emotional, mental, and physical cost of infanticide and abortion is enormous at the time of pregnancy and in the future for all individuals involved. Following God’s Word in marriage, sex, and family would solve the inconsistency of abortion issues. When we fail to follow God’s instructions, compounding the damage by a violent, destructive solution is not wise.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

It IS Worth the Price!

It IS Worth the Price! Timothy Clayton
\We want to continue our thoughts from yesterday’s post. If you haven’t read it yet, you can click HERE. My point was that it IS worth the price to care for those who cannot take care of themselves. The example I used was my son Tim.

Some argue that it is a waste of money. They say that we should euthanize those who have “a low quality of life” or who are in prison for the rest of their lives. As I said before, from a Christian standpoint, that idea is repugnant. Christians do not view a human as “just another animal.” We believe that ALL humans are created in the image of God, and every life is infinitely valuable.

To add to the points we made yesterday, here are three more objections to the view of the euthanasia advocates:

1) All human lives can be productive. This is truer today in our world of technology than it ever was. Stephen Hawking did much of his work after he was unable to function physically. My son works in a shop that does jobs that require massive human time. Selecting phone parts and putting one of each in a cloth bag may not be a career you want to have, but Tim and his friends at the sheltered workshop thrive on it. Prisoners can train and rehabilitate dogs, cultivate the land and produce crops, do precision manual work, and write and compose amazing stories, music, and art. Prisons can be productive places with decent living conditions, and they can even be self-supporting. No human is worthless except those who choose to be.

2) No human is beyond the reach of the Holy Spirit. Our prison ministry has dealt with some hardened criminals who grew up in an environment that made them that way. Can they be changed? The answer is yes, and there are hundreds of cases to prove that. There is a book titled “The Meanest Man in Texas” that you might wish to read for an example. It is worth the price when you see people transformed by the Spirit.

God’s Spirit can help to change a man or woman who seems to be hopeless. My own personal story of “Why I Left Atheism” is available on doesgodexist.org if you want a personal example. Christians never give up on a man or woman. Euthanizing prisoners who are destined to spend the rest of their lives in prison would cut off what may be a tool to help young people who are headed toward violence and abuse. We worked with “Scared Straight” here in Indiana for several years and saw what can be done by someone “who has been there.”

3) There is a Christian industry built around caring for the disadvantaged. Programs like SSI and Medicare provide some money for those who qualify for their support. The actual care for the disadvantaged doesn’t come from the government. It comes from men and women tho don’t make much money, but who believe that the message of Matthew 25:31-46 applies to them. They serve and bless their constituents, bringing joy and love and happiness as they do so. Their work employs large numbers of men and women who would not otherwise have a job. They train and place disabled people in jobs that match their ability and desire.

Yes, it is worth the price. The bottom line is, what kind of a world to we want to live in and leave to our children and grandchildren? Do we want a world that teaches survival of the fittest and the annihilation of all of those someone deems to be unfit? Or do we want a world of love and gentleness and caring that treats every human with dignity and respect? It seems to me that the answer to this question is obvious. And it is worth the price.
–= John N. Clayton © 2019

To obtain John’s book about Timothy, click HERE.

Is It Worth the Price?

Is It Worth the Price? Yes, Timothy is worth it.
Every Wednesday morning I take my son Tim, who is 57 years old, out for breakfast. Tim is mentally challenged, blind, and has a mild form of muscular dystrophy. He also has cerebral palsy and schizophrenia. All of this has left him wheelchair-bound and with trembles that affect his ability to hold a cup to drink. Various government programs for the disabled have supported Tim since he became of school age. Some people have told me they resent their tax money being used to prolong my son’s suffering. I regularly receive brochures from pro-euthanasia groups promoting legislation that would terminate those who have “a low quality of life.” That brings up the question, “Is it worth the price?”

I suspect that we could reduce the massive amount of government deficit spending if we euthanized everyone in a mental hospital or care facility. We could expand that to include any prisoner who will always be incarcerated. We could also add anyone who is in a vegetative state due to brain injuries or congenital problems caused by disease, injury, stroke, or inadequate care. From an atheistic standpoint, the euthanizing of all of these individuals makes sense. Putting human life on the same level as animal life would allow involuntary euthanasia. The champion of this kind of thinking is Australian Dr. Peter Singer. He is the Ira W. Decamp Professor of bioethics at Princeton University. He is also the Australian Laureate Professor of Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne.

From a Christian standpoint, these proposals are repugnant. To be clear, we are not talking about allowing a dying person to refuse a life support machine with no hope of ever being free of the machine. Christians do not view a human as “just another animal.” The Christian view is that ALL humans are created in the image of God. That means they have a spiritual makeup which is unique to humans. Christians reject the view that a human, a dog, and a pig are of equal value.

But is it worth the price of caring for those whom Singer and others would eliminate? There are a large number of objections to the views of the euthanasia advocates. Here are a few:

1) The handicapped historically have made significant contributions to all disciples of human activity. Would those who promote involuntary euthanasia suggest that Stephen Hawking’s life should have been terminated when he could no longer function without help? How many great musical composers have had major handicaps? Many times a handicap has led to a unique talent that blesses the lives of others.

2) How do you determine a “low quality of life”? My son has many things that bring him joy. He enjoys food and knows about the different foods of various cultures. He gets great pleasure from hearing about various religious beliefs. He enjoys music and loves to feel different textures. He does not agonize over his blindness or complain about not being able to play sports. He looks forward to my daily phone calls and loves eating out. From his perspective, his quality of life is very good.

3) Ignoring the spiritual dimension of life means not understanding what brings joy to many people. Galatians 5:19-25 describes the physical “works of the flesh,” and the “fruit of the Spirit.” The physical things are animal responses that involve the physical body. Verse 22 lists the fruits of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..” My son has all of those. Not only does he have them, but he brings them into the lives of others.

The bottom line is, what kind of a world do we want to live in and leave to our children and grandchildren? Should it be a world that teaches survival of the fittest and the annihilation anyone that some person or group of people decides are not fit? Or should it be a world of love and gentleness and caring that treats every human with dignity and respect? It seems to me that the answer to this question is obvious. Is it worth the price? You bet it is! More on this tomorrow.
— John N. Clayton © 2019