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

Modern Moral Belief

Modern Moral Belief
A recent Barna research study shows that two-thirds of American adults now believe that morality is relative to circumstances. This attitude says that what is right depends on the situation. It also says that what is right for me may not be right for you and what is right for you may not be right for me. This modern moral belief conflicts with absolute moral standards.

We have often said that if you are an atheist, you have no case to make for ANY moral standards. If there is no God and no existence beyond this life on Earth, why shouldn’t I do anything that I think will bring me pleasure? It appears that if this survey is correct, a majority of Americans support that view.

Our society continues to approve any form of sexuality that one wishes to engage in. We have pointed out that experts in ethics and morality like Peter Singer at Princeton, are suggesting that our society should approve the euthanizing of humans who cannot contribute to society and who put a drain on our nation financially. This would include the mentally challenged, the mentally ill, and people who have physical limitations due to paralysis or other physical impairment. It would have included killing people like the late Stephen Hawking or other notables with high intelligence but severe disabilities.

We cannot overemphasize the importance of showing people that God exists and that the Bible is His word. A person who accepts those facts realizes that we are responsible for how we live. Modern moral belief can’t stand up against absolute moral standards from God and His word. Having absolute moral standards from God makes all the difference in the way we must live. How we live makes all the difference in what kind of world our children and grandchildren will live in.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data: OneNewsNow

Creativity, Worship, and Thankfulness

Creativity, Worship, and Thankfulness
Three the things which separate humans from our animal friends are creativity, worship, and thankfulness. Humans, created in the image of God, display that image in our own creativity. We express creativity in various artistic and productive ways. One important area of human creativity is music. Birds sing, but all individuals of any species of bird sing the same song, and they have for as long as we have known that species. They are singing the song they were programmed to sing. The only exceptions are a few birds that imitate various sounds or imitate the songs of other birds. Imitation is not creativity. Humans sing and play, many different styles of music, and we are constantly creating new songs. We even combine worship with our creativity in music as we sing to honor God. Music moves us, excites us, and touches us deeply, making it a natural outlet for worship.

Thankfulness is another area that separates us from the animals. A couple of years ago, my wife and I were leaving a sandwich shop where we ate lunch. An elderly woman with a smile on her face came up to our car window holding a sandwich. I rolled down the window to see what she wanted, and she said, “Are you the ones who paid for my sandwich?” She said the employee in the store told her that a person ahead of her had paid, so she didn’t owe anything. I told her that I was glad for her, but we were not the ones who had done this generous act. As she went away, it was evident that the small kindness had made her day, but she was disappointed that she didn’t get to thank her benefactor.

There is something about humans that makes us want to express gratitude. Our pets are loyal to us because we feed them, and they get excited when they see us open the food container. But only humans are motivated to express true gratitude. We often show thankfulness toward each other, but our greatest debt of gratitude is to God. G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “the worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.” One evidence of God’s existence is that not only does He give us many good things, but He also has given us the desire and ability to say, “Thank you.”

Creativity, worship, and thankfulness are human traits. I am thankful for the creative ability God has given us. I am thankful for the ability to use that creativity in art, music, and worship. I am also thankful for the ability to express gratitude to God.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Tools and Intelligence

Tools and Intelligence
We tend to equate the use of tools and intelligence, but do they necessarily go together? Many kinds of animals use twigs, stones, or other objects as tools to gather food, to groom or defend themselves, or sometimes just to play. We are very familiar with how dogs can be taught to play with a ball or stick. Intelligent animals such as primates, mammals, and birds use or even create tools from materials around them.

Sometimes animals learn tool-use by watching other animals or humans. At other times tool-use seems to be instinctive. An internet search for “animals using tools” brings up many interesting videos. Ever since animal researcher Jane Goodall discovered chimpanzees using leaves and twigs as tools to obtain food in 1960, some people have suggested that tool-use is proof that humans are not unique from other animals—we have just evolved greater intelligence.

But the question is, “Does it take intelligence to use tools?” The short answer is “No.” Decorator crabs camouflage themselves with objects and plants, and they may pick up a sea anemone and use it to sweep across the sea floor picking up food. The assassin bug takes material from a termite’s nest to camouflage itself while waiting to grab a termite emerging from the nest. It then kills the termite and uses it as bait to coax other termites out of the nest. The larva of the green lacewing camouflages itself with objects such as sand grains to hide from and capture aphids.

Crabs, assassin bugs, and insect larvae have no “thinking” brain. They are not capable of being taught or learning by observation. How can they use objects as tools? In some cases, if the first of their kind could not use these tools, the species would have become extinct. We suggest that the Creator has “programmed” these unintelligent animals with the instincts they need to survive.

So as we consider tools and intelligence, we see unintelligent creatures using tools by instinct, and more intelligent creatures learning to use tools. Obviously, no animals can create and use the highly sophisticated tools that humans have, including computers, robots, and cars. But it’s the spiritual nature of humans that makes us different, and not our tools. Only humans worship God because He created us in His image.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Gorilla Named Koko Dies

Gorilla Named Koko Cartoon
On June 19, 2018, the famous lowland gorilla named Koko passed away. Koko was famous because she learned the sign language of the deaf and could comprehend 2,000 words and “speak” 1000.

Koko was born in captivity and lived in the Gorilla Foundation in California. Her trainer, Francine Patterson, began training the gorilla in the sign language of the deaf when she was about a year old. Koko got major attention from the entertainment industry and the media. Robin Williams and Fred Rogers interacted with Koko and gave her significant publicity. National Geographic ran a documentary on her in 1978.

A line in The Week (July 6/July 13, 2018, page 12) by Molly Roberts summarized Koko’s impact: “Science is still far from establishing how much apes truly resemble humans mentally and emotionally, but in Koko’s case, it may not really matter. What mattered is that we looked at this creature, and somewhere in Koko’s eye, we saw ourselves.”

There is no question that Patterson’s work with this gorilla was a remarkable demonstration of human patience and animal capability. Attempting to prove that the gorilla named Koko is a distant relative of her trainer is quite a stretch. Ms. Patterson became emotionally involved with Koko, and the usefulness of her work with the gorilla scientifically is highly controversial. Skeptics point out that Paterson’s questions were “designed to elicit responses that made it seem as if Koko understood more than she really did, but boy, did we want to believe.”

The commercialization of Koko did much to destroy any scientific value in her ability to communicate. Patterson created a record album in which Koko “picked songs she liked” based on what she listened to. Koko’s capacity to create art was demonstrated by having her copy what Patterson drew. Koko’s ability to select colors for what animal she was supposedly drawing produced some comical results. Koko’s “desire” to have a “pet” kitten was made into a children’s book in 1983. Understanding the concept of a kitten or a pet certainly was not part of Koko’s animal instinct.

We suggest that Koko the gorilla was created in the image of “Penny” Patterson. While this is an amazing achievement and there is much to learn from what Patterson did, the value of Koko to anthropology is very limited. The creation of humans in the image of God has nothing to do with intelligence, language, or the ability to learn and copy. Our spiritual nature is uniquely ours, and humans without training still demonstrate their spiritual nature.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
For more on this subject, see video #10 in our free series at doesgodexist.tv.

Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem

Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. At the lowest point in a person’s life, suicide takes away any future blessings.

Some would say, “The problem has been with me for a long time and is not going away.” If that’s the case, someone needs to step in to address the problem and help to find a solution. As God’s people, Christians need to love and care for others.

Whether you believe in God or not, you have to admit that the desire to live is built into our DNA. Every living thing wants to live. If that were not true, all life on Earth would have ended long ago. No animal commits suicide. No, not even lemmings. (We dealt with that yesterday.) No animal willingly submits to a predator. No wildebeest surrenders to the lion. The predator wins only when the creature has no more ability to go on or to run faster. Why is the predator so desperate to catch that prey? It’s the predator’s will to live.

Why do animals resist death with every fiber of their being until their very last breath? Some would say it’s an evolutionary development that life has evolved to want to live. But that can’t be right because life must have had a strong desire to live from day one. I think the desire to live is evidence of a Creator who put that desire into the very first life—even those living things without conscious understanding. The drive to live built into every living thing, even plants, is another evidence that life is not an accident.

It’s only humans that have the ability to chose. Only humans can choose right or wrong. Only humans KNOW right from wrong. We can choose to make bad choices. We can even choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem. That ability to choose is evidence that we were created by God. The desire to choose right over wrong is evidence that we were created in God’s image. The failure to always choose the right is evidence that we are merely human. God’s willingness to redeem us from our bad choices is evidence that God is love. (1 John 3:1, 16; 4:7)
— Roland Earnst © 2018

Why Two Genders?

Why Two Genders?
The simplest one-cell life forms can reproduce by dividing, but advanced life requires both a male and a female to procreate. We wonder why two genders are needed. How can naturalistic evolution explain sexual reproduction?

Science has discovered that sexual reproduction is much more complicated than we ever would have expected. Various plants and animals use different processes involving two genders to reproduce. The processes involved vary dramaticly between species. Would it not have been simpler for evolution to result in creatures with the ability to conceive a new life within themselves and give birth to that life without the need for another of the same species?

Think of how much more complicated the evolution of a new species would be if two genders had to evolve at the same time. If a male of a new species evolved with no female, that new species would become extinct when the male died. You must have two genders of the new species at the same moment in time with the same genes and the corresponding reproductive organs. Otherwise, reproduction would not be possible.

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” God created humans in His image spiritually, but He gave them a physical morphology complimentary to each other. He made the man first and then showed him all of the animals. (Genesis 2:19, 20). Surely Adam noticed that there were males and females in the animal world. As a result, Adam would have realized that something was missing from his life. He needed someone like himself, but different.

After the sex education lesson, God took some of Adam’s physical body to create his complimentary half. Adam’s reaction, “(At long last) this is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” This was God’s design for love and reproduction. Why two genders? God intended for us to have two genders to complete each other. It didn’t happen by accident. It couldn’t have.
–Roland Earnst © 2018
F. LaGard Smith has written an excellent book which goes into great detail on this topic. The title is Darwin’s Secret Sex Problem and we highly recommend it.

Patron Saint of Drug Traffickers

Patron Saint of Drug Traffickers?
Time magazine and Time.com published a picture of a shrine to Jesus Malverde considered the patron saint of drug traffickers in Culiacan, Sinaloa, northwest Mexico. In attempting to contact the managers of the shrine we were told that it was under the auspices of the local bishop and that he would answer any questions we had. We have not been able to get a response from anyone connected with that area of Mexico.

I inquired about this from a good friend of mine who is a Roman Catholic priest (and wishes to stay anonymous for obvious reasons). He told me that clergy in the Catholic church throughout the ages have chosen to serve the spiritual needs of people they were ministering to even if that person was engaged in behavior the priest didn’t accept or sanction.

It is interesting that in some wars there have been clergy on opposing sides of the conflict, both ministering to the people in their area. The difference in this case is that there is no political ideology involved in the question of drugs. I know of no religious person who would maintain that drugs are a good thing or that the Church should be supporting people who traffic drugs.

Those who wish to charge believers in God with being ineffective in stopping evil in all cultures have a good point. That is why this program we call “Does God Exist?” is not a part of any denomination or cult. The fact that religious people make mistakes, and may even stand up for something that is wrong and sinful does not make it right. When believers try to defend immoral behavior, it is a human making a human mistake.

We cannot defend what humans have done in the past, or what they continue to do today. God’s existence is not related to human inadequacy. The credibility of the Bible is not dependent on any theologian or scholar. The New Testament makes it clear that the human body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19), and that it must be cared for and not abused (1 Corinthians 3:17). There is no defense for anyone who would protect or promote drug trafficking be they atheists or religious leaders. The idea of a patron saint of drug traffickers is indefensible because Christians have a special reason for opposing the use of recreational drugs.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Cheaters Edition

Cheaters Edition
Most of us have played the board game Monopoly™ at some time in our lives. Hasbro, the company that makes the game has just announced that they will release a Monopoly™ Cheaters Edition in the fall in time for Christmas giving.

The cheaters edition will encourage players to cheat in various ways. There are even 15 cards inviting the players to cheat. These include paying someone less money than you owe, collecting rent for someone else’s property, moving another player’s token, or stealing from the bank. This is all facilitated by changes in the rules which now includes rewards if you cheat successfully and getting punished if you get caught. A spokesman for the company said, “A recent study conducted by Hasbro revealed that nearly half of game players attempt to cheat during Monopoly games, so in 2018, we decided it was time to give fans what they’ve been craving all along–a Monopoly game that actually encourages cheating,”

As an atheist growing up in a non-believing family, I was taught that deception is part of survival. My parents took me to naturalism presentations which showed how animals survive by deceiving other animals. They taught me that “survival of the fittest” almost always involves lying and deception, and I became good at deception. Our culture today has grown to accept lying and deception as a part of survival. The political activity of the past several years certainly has shown that loud and clear. Now we have a game advertised for ages 8 and up that encourages them to learn to cheat as a pathway to success.

All of this ignores the fact that humans are not just animals. We are created in the image of God, and our spiritual nature allows us to live differently. How can marriage, child raising, security, and peace be possible in a climate where cheating is an accepted part of life? The cheaters edition of life just doesn’t work. Jesus taught truth, honesty, and integrity. Being able to trust is a foundation for success in living. As cheating becomes the norm, instability in all human enterprises and experiences will accelerate.

Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and by burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). You can’t trust humans, not even those who claim to be religious, but you can trust God and His Word. The promises of Jesus are true. Take it from those of us who have been experts at deception and who now enjoy the peace and rest Jesus promised.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Women of Faith

Mothers - Women of Faith
Today is Mother’s Day, and while the Bible does not command us to have a special day in honor of women, much of the biblical narrative is about women of faith, their qualities, and how God blessed them. Here are some examples:

A WOMAN WHO WAS HEALED. Mark 5:25-34.
Here was a woman who was unclean according to Leviticus 15. She knew she needed help from God because doctors had done nothing but take her money. She was able to get past legalism and religious prejudice and make her faith work to affect a healing. Jesus calls her ”daughter” in verse 34–a title He never used of any other woman.

A CANAANITE WOMAN WHOSE CHILD WAS HEALED. Matthew 15:21-28.
This was the only time Jesus went outside of Palestine. Like the Samaritan woman of John 4 she was persistent and got past nationalism and religious prejudice even though the disciples tried to send her away (verse 23). This woman wouldn’t give up, and neither should we. She was satisfied with “crumbs” because she knew what was really important.

THE WOMAN WHO KNEW FORGIVENESS. Luke 7:36-50
She knew where to go to get spiritual help. She was prepared to reach out and honor God (verse 37). She sought forgiveness according to God’s plan. She stood behind Jesus showing respect. She wept showing repentance, and she showed humility by kissing his feet. She showed honor by anointing with oil.

Do you know a woman who has been an inspiration to you? I hope we all do. I suspect that in a majority of cases it is (or was) a mother or a wife who has lived out her faith in a way that brings honor to God and love to her family and friends. Let us praise God for the incredible women of faith who have blessed us!!
–John N. Clayton © 2018