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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
My first master’s degree was in psychometry, which is the study of tests and measurements. I worked under Dr. David Segel who was a pioneer in that field. One of the interesting things I learned in my studies was that IQ and intelligence are two different things. Many people use the terms interchangeably, but IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is a measure of your ability to perform on a certain kind of test. My mentally challenged son Tim scores very poorly on a Stanford Benet IQ test and very well on a Wechsler Bellevue IQ test. The Stanford Benet test measures an individual’s ability to manipulate and control shapes and spaces. The Wechsler Bellevue is a verbal test. The two tests measure different things, and Tim’s scores were wildly different depending on the type of test.
IQ and intelligence should not be confused. Webster’s dictionary defines intelligence as “the ability to learn and understand,” which has nothing to do with any test. IQ is radically affected by access to education, healthcare, food, living conditions, and the kind of test used. The average IQ in Kenya in 1948 was 72, and today the average is 97. A 25 point gain is not an indication of a change in intelligence, but rather a change in the ability of the people to better answer the questions on the chosen test.
It isn’t possible to compare the intelligence of humans on the basis of race or to compare humans with animals. Some animals do very well on some IQ tests. Koko, the gorilla that we have mentioned in previous issues of our journal, scores a 95 on some IQ tests according to articles in several popular magazines. Crows have high intelligence in solving certain types of problems. A food morsel floating on water in the bottom of a graduate frustrates children under eight years old because the can’t figure out how to get to it. A crow, however, will add pebbles to the graduate until the food floats up to a place where the crow can reach it. Who has the most intelligence?
Human uniqueness is not in our intelligence. It is our spiritual nature that sets us apart and allows us to do things such as art, music, worship, etc. Mentally challenged humans do these things, but intelligent animals do not. Animals may be intelligent and even score high on some IQ tests, but they do not have the capacity to feel guilt, to be sympathetic, or to create. IQ and intelligence aside, humans are unique because of our spiritual nature. We are created in the image of God, and that uniqueness is embodied in what the Bible calls “the soul.”
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from Popular Science, Spring 2018.
How would you like to have your brain uploaded before you die so that your consciousness could be preserved? That is the goal of a brain uploading company called Nectome.
The company wants to deliver a “100-percent-fatal” service to terminally ill patients. They are developing a process that fills the patient’s arteries with embalming fluids. The result is that the patient will die, but the brain will be preserved. Their process is supposed to preserve the links between the neurons in full detail. Then Nectome will view those links with an electron scanning microscope. Their goal is to preserve those links to revive the consciousness of the deceased person. The company hired lawyers to work out the legality of this process under California’s physician-assisted suicide law.
Nectome was founded by graduates of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received funding from a famous Silicon Valley startup incubator. The brain preservation project involved a collaboration with MIT and received a grant of almost a million dollars from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). They also received a prize of $80,000 from The Brain Preservation Foundation for preserving a pig’s brain using their process. MIT severed ties with Nectome just a few days ago after previously publishing a favorable article in the MIT Technology Review on March 13.
After the article in MIT Technology Review, several leading neuroscientists criticized the idea of brain uploading after preserving a brain from a live person. Nectome has removed a statement about being able to “back up” people’s minds from their website. They are now saying that they have no plans to do this in “the foreseeable future.” Robert McIntyre, the co-founder of Nectome, recently said, “…we don’t mean to imply that electron microscope image data is the only thing we would need to reconstruct consciousness or even memories.”
We have said for a long time that there is more to humans than just the physical body or the neurons in our brains. There is a spiritual aspect that cannot be preserved by any scientific means. By its very nature, it cannot even be adequately studied by any scientific means. We are created in the image of God with a soul that can live forever. Brain uploading, if it ever works, can never preserve the essence of who we are. Only God can do that. We must place our hope in Him, not in a company no matter how prestigious or well-funded it might be.
–Roland Earnst © 2018
Yesterday we discussed an article by atheist Michael Shermer in which he stated that as atheism replaces belief in God “we should continue working on grounding our morals and values on viable secular sources such as reason and science.” (Scientific American, April 2018, page 77). At the same time Shermer’s article came out, we received a report on prison suicide rates.
NewLife Behavior Ministries issued a report of an increase in suicides in Texas prisons. The data came from the University of Texas Medical Branch saying that attempted suicides in Texas prisons jumped from 65 to 150 in the past four years. Statistics on suicides are very complicated, but every study we have seen has shown a huge increase in attempted suicides. The increase applies to all segments of the population, not just prison suicide rates but the general public as well.
The secular sources for morals and values that Shermer recommends would include people like atheists Peter Singer and Richard Dawkins. They advocate euthanasia for the “unfit” in society including Down Syndrome, mentally ill, and mentally deficient people. Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He advocates for infanticide to eliminate defective children and for animal rights. In his book Practical Ethics, he concedes that the question of why we should act morally “cannot be given an answer that will provide everyone with overwhelming reasons for acting morally.”
The biblical perspective is that all humans have value because they are created in the image of God. That is radically different from the secular view that we are just animals with no more value than any other animal. Suicide is directly connected to what we understand a human to be. The Christian view is that there is no such thing as “worthless human trash” or “unfit people.”
–John N. Clayton © 2018