Human Gene Editing

Human Gene Editing
We have written about human gene editing using the technique known as CRISPR. (Read more about it HERE and HERE.) One of the fears of those who are opposed to uncontrolled use of the CRISPR technique is that it will be used to produce “made to order” babies.

CRISPR could be used to treat a person with a genetic disease, but that is a different scenario from controlling a baby’s athletic skills or eye color. The big problem is that once we apply human gene editing, whatever was changed is passed on to future generations. That includes whatever errors might be made in the process.

He Jiankui, a Chinese scientist, announced in early December 2018, that he had altered the DNA of two embryos to make them resistant to HIV. He then placed them in their mother’s womb resulting in a successful live birth. Marc Thiessen writing in the Washington Post said, “Gene editing is here, and it poses an enormous threat to humanity.” The problem is that there is no way of telling what other characteristics were altered in the process, or what it could lead to. Thiessen says “If science continues down this road, we will cross a moral line from which there may be no return.”

Science cannot determine the use to which its discoveries, such as human gene editing, will be applied. Will CRISPR be used to eliminate diseases that are produced by genetic change? On the other hand, will it become a way for scientists like Jiankui to make large amounts of money by producing made-to-order babies? The belief system of the scientists is what will determine this. An atheist has no reason not to use CRISPR to make a fortune for himself no matter what it does to the human race.

We need Christians who believe God is our Creator. We need scientists and medical practitioners who accept God’s view of humans that we are special, created in His image and the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. (See 1 Corinthians 3:16.)
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Life Expectancy and Despair

Life Expectancy and Despair
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just released its latest annual report on American life expectancy. The report shows that for the third year life expectancy in the United States has not grown and has declined. The last time that this happened was in World War I when a flu pandemic killed 675,000 people.

The report says that drugs and suicide are the main culprits now with the overdose rate up 356% since 1999. The 2017 death toll is 70,237 far outstripping the total American fatalities in Vietnam.

It is interesting that everyone studying this life expectancy issue seems to agree on what the cause is, and what the solution is. The NationalReview.com says that “we are facing not so much a drug problem as a heartbreak problem.” An AARP study found that one-third of Americans report chronic loneliness and conclude that isolation is a state “about as deadly as smoking.” David Brooks writing in the New York Times says “It’s not jobs, jobs, jobs or better welfare programs that will save us from this ongoing social catastrophe; it’s human relationships and a society that cares about people more than money.”

We suggest that people need to read and follow the example in Acts 2:41-47. People had a common faith in God, and they took care of each other. They “CONTINUED DAILY WITH ONE ACCORD” and spent time together focusing on meaningful relationships. The result was that “they had favor with all the people.”

This reminds me of a comment I heard Carl Sandburg make when someone asked him what he thought about Christianity. His response was “I don’t know, I have never seen it tried.” Christianity is not a legalistic way of restricting human behavior. It is a way of life that blesses everyone who is a part of it and everyone around those who live it.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Reference: The Week, December 14, 2018, page 17

Demons Cannot Make Us Act Against Our Will

Demons Cannot Make Us Act Against Our Will
Yesterday we stated that a careful study of the Bible and some common sense make it clear that you and I are not in danger of being taken over by a demon. In other words, demons cannot make us act against our will. We have free will to choose our actions. There are six reasons why that is true:

#1) Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus “was tempted in ALL points as are we.” You don’t need to be biblical scholars to know that Jesus was never tempted by being demon possessed and never needed an exorcism.

#2) There is no warning to the early Church in scriptures about demon possession. The New Testament is full of warnings about things. Read Acts 20:27, Acts 20:31, 1 Corinthians 4:14, Colossians 1:28, and 1 Peter 1:3. These are realistic threats, and ones that we have seen become a problem. Nowhere is there a warning about demons. We see people do horrible things, and we see greed and selfishness express themselves in terrible events. We have also seen mental illness cause suffering. Those things are the result of human weakness, abuse, or neglect. They are not involuntary takeovers by demonic forces.

#3) The Bible gives us cures for Satan’s attacks on us. James 4:7 tell us to “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Ephesians 6:12-18 tells us that God has given us armor “that you may be able to withstand the evil day having done all to stand.” God has never put us into a situation where he could not resist evil. Demon possession even occurred in defenseless, innocent children in biblical times. (See Matthew 17:18 and Mark 9:24).

#4) God has promised Christians protection from anything that could cause us to lose our soul. First Corinthians 10:13 tells us nothing can happen to us that hasn’t been experienced by others and that there is always a way out of anything that could destroy us. Demon possession is certainly not “common to man.” Revelation 20:1-3 gives us assurance that God can control Satan and make good on the promise that demons cannot make us act against our will.

#5) The methodology of exorcism in the Bible is nothing like what happens in today’s world. The exorcisms that I have seen took hours and involved incredible psychological pressure on the “possessed.” In biblical times the process took seconds and generally involved one command. There were no regressions in people who experienced exorcism. In today’s world regression is very common.

#6) Perhaps most importantly is the fact that demon possession violates the entire Bible in that it defeats our capacity to choose. It violates our free moral choice. Joshua said, “Choose you this day who you will serve, but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15). That admonition is violated if a person involuntarily is forced to obey Satan and evil. Philippians 2:12 tells us to choose to find salvation, but leaves it up to us to do it. Demons cannot make us act against our will.

Every judgment scene revealed in the Bible shows people answering their judgment by how they lived and what they chose to obey. (See John 20:31 and Mathew 25:31-46.) From Job to Paul we see the principle of freedom of choice. Demons cannot make us act against our will. Nobody at the judgment will be able to say that they had no choice, or as comedian Flip Wilson used to say, “The devil made me do it.” We make our own choices, and God does not allow us to foist our imperfections off on something over which we had no control.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Amazing Human Eye

Amazing Human Eye
Eyes are among the great challenges to those who insist that unguided, naturalistic evolution created all living things. Eyes are complex devices that display engineering design skill. A significant problem for naturalists is that some very complex eyes appear early in the fossil record, such as the trilobite eye. Each animal has eyes well-designed for the life they live. That is certainly true of the amazing human eye.

Many things about human eyes make them amazing. One of those is the cornea, the clear front covering of our eyes. Corneas must be perfectly clear to allow light to pass through for an unobstructed view of the world around us. Because of the need for complete transparency, they have no blood vessels. Our corneas get their nourishment from the aqueous humor (the liquid inside the eye) and the tear fluid on the outside. They get oxygen from direct contact with the air.

Corneas must be designed to fit a curving surface full of a fluid which maintains the critical pressure inside the eye. However, there is a problem with the cornea being exposed to the air with all of the contaminants it contains – pollen, dust, chemicals, and grit. Corneas can become scratched. Over time, any surface exposed to dirt and grit, and sometimes bumps and blows, can get tiny scratches. How is it possible for corneas to remain transparent with so much abuse?

When you cut your skin, as the cut heals, scar tissue forms. Scratches in our corneas must heal without scar tissue. When the outer layer of the cornea gets scratched, the surrounding cells move toward one another and close the scratch leaving no scar tissue. This is only one feature of corneas which consist of five different layers each having an important function and showing evidence of design.

Think what it would be like if scar tissue formed every time the surface of our corneas got scratched. By the time we reached middle-age, we would certainly be looking through cloudy lenses. If you can read this, you should be thankful for just one of the features of the amazing human eye!
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Artistic Expression and Human History

Artistic Expression and Human History
One of the interesting challenges to human evolution has to do with our capacity for artistic creation. Why do human artistic expressions display beauty and color? There is no good evidence that animals express themselves aesthetically – be it music, color, artistic expression, abstractionism, or worship. When people have claimed that animals express themselves in these areas, the claims have turned out to be anthropomorphisms by those making the claims. We all tend to attach human attributes to animal actions, but the evidence supports the view that animals don’t do those things. On the other hand, artistic expression and human history go together.

One evidence of artistic work has to do with the pictures left on cave walls in various locations. Those drawings do not show a sequence of development. In other words, you don’t see older drawings that are more primitive than recent ones. There is a story that Picasso examined the Cromagnon cave drawings and said, “We have learned nothing about art in our entire history on planet earth.”

USA Today (November 9, 2018) published an article on new art finds in Borneo and Indonesia. They are much older than any of the drawings in Spain and France. Dr. Maxime Aubert who led the discovery says the paintings are 4,000 years older than any other find. Aubert says “they are the earliest known figurative artwork.” In addition to the drawings of mystic animals, there are hand stencils and cave paintings of human scenes, and extensive use of color.

Genesis 4:21-22 indicates that humans developed tools and musical instruments early. Human history has included artwork and musical synthesis from a very early time. We would suggest this is all tied to our spiritual nature. It is our soul that gives us the capacity to do all the things that set humans apart from animals. The new finds support the view that these abilities were present in human’s from the beginning, not developed over a long time. Artistic expression and human history cannot be separated.
John N. Clayton © 2018

Sex Recession Cause

“Sex Recession” Cause
There is little doubt that there has been a radical change in sexual behavior in the past 25 years. Moral acceptance of premarital sex is at an all-time high. Birth control is easily accessible for all ages. People can find hook-up partners on dating apps without leaving home. Online porn is a major industry in today’s world. Websites are selling sex toys and vibrators to promote masturbation. How can there be a sex recession?

Liberals maintained that all this was good and that freedom from old norms would lead to what they called “sexual fulfillment.” What the numbers are showing is just the opposite. The number of sexually active high school students has dropped from 54% to 40% in the past 25 years. People in their early 20s are 2.5 times as likely to be abstinent as GenXers were at that same age. Dating apps have turned out to be addictive games that produce more frustration than connection.

The New York Times recently published a report on the “sex recession.” Writer Ross Douthat said that the trend mentioned above “has led to the growing alienation of the sexes from one another. In our new sterility, ‘virtual sex’ has become the opiate of the frustrated masses.” Editorials in the media have blamed everything from porn to the record number of people under 35 who are living with their parents.

When God gave the beautiful oneness that marriage brings, He then gave admonitions about how to use the gift of sex. When we follow God’s guidelines, sex can give fulfillment, relationships, security, and freedom. Genesis 2:24 stated the relationship God intended, and the Bible is full of teaching about avoiding the corrupted misuse of sexual relationships.

Atheists and skeptics have challenged these teachings saying they are unrealistic and merely an attempt to deprive us of potential pleasure, but just the opposite is true. God’s instructions are to designed to give us freedom, joy, and the maximum pleasure. When we misuse the power of sex, the result is catastrophic. The “sex recession” is proof of what happens when we fail to follow God’s instructions.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from The Week, November 30, 2018, page 17.

Design in Hearing

Design in Hearing
One of the amazing features of animals is design in hearing. Humans can hear sounds between 20 and 20,000 vibrations per second (Hertz). That range allows us to communicate through the air and enjoy music. Various animals can hear sounds in different parts of the frequency spectrum.

Dogs can hear frequencies higher than 20,000 Hertz. We call these sounds ultrasonic because they are above the frequencies we can hear. We use ultrasonic sounds for examining the organs inside the human body. We use it to view unborn babies inside their mother’s womb. Ultrasonic sound has uses such as cleaning of jewelry or other items. But we can’t hear it. The ability to hear ultrasonic sounds gives dogs and other animals a defense advantage. Try to sneak up on a dog. If you open a door or step on a floorboard creating an ultrasonic squeak which you can’t hear, the dog will hear and know that you are coming.

Elephants, whales, and other large animals can hear low frequencies and use them to communicate over many miles because low frequencies travel more efficiently through the ground or water. But it isn’t just large animals that use these subsonic sounds. Some small animals, like moles, can also hear low frequencies since those sounds travel well through the ground. If a mole communicated through sounds we could hear, finding and killing them would be easier for their predators and us. Because they communicate at frequencies below 20 Hertz, they are not easily detected by animals above the ground.

Design in hearing also applies to frogs, snakes, and many insects that can also hear very low or very high frequencies allowing them to communicate with others of their kind without detection by different species. Different creatures use various portions of the audio spectrum. If a creature gives off sounds that its predators can hear, they will literally be “dead meat.”

The world of sound rings out loudly the incredible design of the Creator who gave various creatures the ability to hear the sounds they need to hear. We can be thankful that God gave us the ability to hear the beautiful sounds of music and the spoken voice.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Women’s Roles Controversy in Europe

Women's Roles Controversy
One of the most interesting characteristics of the women’s rights movement is their intolerance of any view that doesn’t fit their idea of what women’s roles should be. A classic example of this is the turmoil produced by a popular Swedish journalist named Greta Thurfjell. She wrote an article in which she suggested that being a housewife was a worthy goal for a woman who chose that vocation. “Feminists are not cool and have gone too far,” Thurfjell complained.

Feminist Jonna Sima responded that Thurfjell and her supporters “have no idea how hard women had to struggle to achieve the freedoms she takes for granted.” Numerous articles on both sides of the issue have filled newspapers in Europe, with abortion rights being the primary focus.

The problem here is that both sides looking at women’s roles are ignoring fundamental human rights in pushing their agenda. Sima characterizes Thurfjell’s view as “longing to be a submissive housewife devoted to making her man happy.” On the opposite side, the need for women to have the same political and economic rights certainly should not be contested by anyone.

No woman who wants to be a wife and a mother should be criticized for choosing that role. The Bible makes it clear that this is a worthy role for women. (See 1 Timothy 5:14.) Those who chose to be career women even in the day of Paul were accepted and honored. (See Acts 16:14-15.) Such women were vital to the financial support of Jesus and of the first-century church. (See Luke 8:3.)

As a public high school teacher, I have seen the disastrous effect of women who felt unfulfilled and abandoned the role of being a mother and a wife. The impact on children is frequently catastrophic. If a woman doesn’t want that role, she needs to think of the effect her choices have on others. God’s way works, but God does not require anyone to marry or to have children. If you don’t want to be a mother, don’t!

Women’s roles are just as important as men’s roles. Sometimes a role is forced upon us, and we have to do the best we can with what we have. In 1 Timothy 5:14 Paul stated the ideal that younger women marry and guide the house, committed to that role. Feminists need to focus on equal pay for equal work and not demean those women who choose to make a career of being a wife and a mother.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Reference: The Week, November 16, 2018, page 14.

Harvard Hypocrisy Evident

Harvard Hypocrisy at their Gate
Yesterday we reported on Harvard University’s policy of forcing women’s organizations to either accept men or be driven out of existence. They are doing that to be “gender neutral.” Now we are learning about more Harvard hypocrisy.

On October 16, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published an article by William McGurn titled “What Hillsdale Can Teach Harvard.” The article documents Harvard’s discrimination against Asian-Americans. To conform to federal guidelines, Harvard is requiring higher SAT scores and adding personality traits like “kindness” and “likability” to justify the exclusion of Asian-Americans.

Hillsdale College here in Michigan has forgone federal grants and aid. In that way, it can ignore federal requirements on programs and enrollment policies. Harvard receives millions of federal dollars each year by conforming to federal guidelines for its courses and admissions. McGurn quotes a Harvard defense of their SAT and psychological requirements:

“This case involves a private university, which has a weighty academic-freedom interest, protected by the First Amendment, in choosing its students, and in determining how they are educated (including through the judgment about the educational benefits flowing from a diverse student body).”

Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College, has said, “Any time anyone from Harvard would like to see how a college can maintain its autonomy and its values, our door is open.

In past years we have reported on cases were Christian students at Harvard were pressured to reject their Christian beliefs in order to stay in school. Yesterday we quoted the administration’s commitment to “making Harvard a campus for all of its students.” Harvard’s hypocrisy and its 39-billion-dollar endowment seem to dictate what students have to do and believe to be accepted.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Gender Equality at Harvard

Gender Equality at Harvard
One of the interesting changes in secular America today is the pressure to be gender neutral. This has led to changes in higher education including a push for gender equality at Harvard University.

In August of 2018, the last sorority at Harvard named Alpha Phi was dissolved. All of the others were either closed or included males and so became gender neutral. This change took place because in 2016 Harvard said that “enacting forms of privilege and exclusion was at odds with (Harvard’s) deepest values.” The school claimed they had to take action against gender bias “to advance (Harvard’s) shared commitment to broadening opportunity to making Harvard a campus for all of its students.”

Girls in sororities were told they would be “barred from campus leadership positions, varsity team athletic captaincies and official endorsements for fellowships.” So sororities became a thing of the past. But all-men’s groups still exist at Harvard. The reason is that alumni got involved and the men’s groups have more money. In spite of rallies that involved hundreds of students protesting at the president’s office, the “progressive” belief system forced so-called gender equality at Harvard.

Harvard and the other promoters of “equality” seem to have no problem restricting the freedoms of the very people they claim to be liberating. Jesus demonstrated the view of women that dignifies them and includes them in all aspects of life.
–John N. Clayton © 2018