Nuclear Fusion to Power the Future

Nuclear Fusion to Power the Future

People today are concerned about “green energy.” The government is attempting to move the economy away from fossil fuels to protect the environment and reduce climate change. However, all of the alternative power sources have limitations. What we need is nuclear fusion to power the future.

Presently, the favored alternatives to fossil fuels are wind and solar, both of which have drawbacks. They include the expense of installing and maintaining them, plus the fact that sunshine and wind are only sometimes available. In addition, there are few locations where water power is feasible, and building dams on rivers can cause other issues. Nuclear fission is probably the most efficient method of generating electric power without putting carbon in the atmosphere. However, past catastrophes cause people to fear that option. Plus, nuclear fission creates waste that will be radioactive for years, and we have no place to store it.

On the other hand, nuclear fusion can release massive amounts of power. After all, that’s what powers the Sun and other stars. With nuclear fusion, there is no radioactive waste and no carbon to create greenhouse gases. The byproduct produced is helium, a useful resource in short supply.

Nuclear fusion to power the future sounds like the answer to all of our problems, so why aren’t we switching to it now? The problem is that science hasn’t found a practical way to do it. However, in December 2022, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California produced nuclear fusion in a lab. The tiny reaction was nowhere near what the Sun does, and it lasted only trillionths of a second. But it was a start. Thirty private fusion companies worldwide are using the Livermore breakthrough as a pattern to promise clean energy that would outpace wind or solar, or anything else we now have. The Fusion Industry Association suggests they could generate fusion electricity sometime in the 2030s.

Is nuclear fusion to power the future just a pipe dream, or could it really happen? God has given us everything we need for an advanced civilization. Intelligent planning of Earth’s history provided the fossil fuels needed to bring us into the modern age. Einstein’s equation e=mc2 revealed the enormous power contained within each atom. By releasing some of that power, we have generated electricity by nuclear fission. By applying the intelligence God gave us, we can go a step further and release even more power through nuclear fusion. That could get us away from depending on energy sources that are unreliable or pollute the atmosphere.

The truth is that tiny atoms are held together by incredible power, and releasing that power can solve our energy needs. The power that holds every atom together had to have a source—the One who created everything and holds everything together. “[Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible… And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17 ESV).

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Reference: “Homemade Suns” by Virginia Heffernan in Wired magazine, March 1, 2023

Waste of Food and Resources

Waste of Food and Resources

One of the great tragedies of American culture today is the incredible waste of food and resources. People in many places around the world are surviving on less than 1000 calories per day, and starvation is killing vast numbers. Over a third of the food produced in the United States is never eaten. On average, Americans throw away a pound of food per person daily. The Environmental Protection Agency says the water and energy wasted in the United States in a year would supply more than 50 million homes.

The problem is not just the waste of food and resources but also how we use the land to produce food. The University of Oxford and Global Change Data Lab tell us that 50% of the world’s habitable land and 70% of freshwater goes to growing food and raising livestock. So when we throw away food, we also waste land and water resources. Three-fourths of the global ocean and freshwater pollution comes from agriculture. Greenhouse gas emissions from one year of food waste in the United States alone are equivalent to the emissions from 42 coal-fired power plants. 

God has provided us with all the resources we need to feed the world’s population, but corporate greed, selfishness, ignorance, and a lack of concern for others cause the problem of world hunger. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus described judgment based on how we conduct ourselves in meeting the needs of others. The first thing Jesus mentions is that providing food for others is a responsibility of His followers (verses 35 and 42). One way we can do that is by avoiding the waste of food and resources God has given us and becoming leaders in the war against hunger. By living in obedience to Christ, we witness the reality of God to the world.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: The Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter for February 2023 has several tips for reducing food waste, including “the truth about date stamps” on food that cause people to throw away food that could be eaten.

Meeting Human Needs

Meeting Human Needs or Loving Money

Yesterday the mail brought an appeal from the 100th organization asking us for money for a cause somewhere in the world. Some are organizations dealing with politics, and others are trying to protect animal life or solve environmental issues. Seventy-four were organizations meeting human needs, including blindness, disease, poverty, birth defects, mental illness, and victims of war. Many organizations meeting human needs have budgets well under a million dollars. They get their money from people like me, who are not wealthy but give what we can. Yet, because there are so many of us, these organizations continue to accomplish their work.

A news item that arrived yesterday was a list of the dollar value of contracts between major league baseball players and their teams. Aaron Judge topped the list with a 360 million-dollar contract. The total for the top three players reached a billion dollars. The top fifteen major league baseball players signed for over sixty million dollars each. We could find similar data for NFL football players or NBA basketball players. The wealth of politicians, the amount paid to movie stars, and the salaries of CEOs in the business world are staggering for those of us who get by on less annual income than some of these people make in an hour.

So how much do the world’s wealthiest people give to organizations meeting human needs? Of course, there are a few cases where the rich support good causes. But considering the lifestyles of most of the rich, we understand why Jesus told His followers, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-24 CSB).

The Bible tells about rich people who made a positive difference, but overall the message is that the love of money crowds out everything else. “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10 CSB).

The track record of the very rich is not good. Suicide, alcohol and drug addiction, broken marriages, lost children, and the lack of genuine companionship abound. Meanwhile, the flow of misery from undeveloped countries is accelerating, and the followers of Christ are shipping the food, drilling the water wells, and providing medical help to meet human needs. Our thanks to all who follow the teachings of Jesus and give sacrificially to meet the needs of others.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: USA Today in South Bend Tribune for 3/12/23.

Broken Heart Syndrome

Broken Heart Syndrome
Broken Heart Syndrome from Wikipedia

The medical name is takotsubo cardiomyopathy, but a more straightforward name is “broken heart syndrome.” Extreme stress or emotions can cause it. That includes the loss of a dear loved one. A “broken heart” can temporarily weaken your physical heart muscle. Research has shown a person has a 41% increase in the risk of dying in the first six months after losing a spouse.

Extreme emotional stress increases the release of the hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine while causing a reduction in the feel-good hormones of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. The result can be broken heart syndrome with depression, poor sleep, fatigue, anxiety, high blood pressure, and physical pain.

I have often heard broken heart syndrome used in connection with Jesus as he agonized in prayer before the crucifixion. After all, while Jesus was fully God, he was also fully man. He was “tempted in all things just as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). But what about the disciples? They had spent three years with Him. He was their closest friend as well as their teacher-rabbi. They had begun to recognize that He was the Messiah who had come to restore God’s kingdom. Imagine the shock they experienced when they saw him crucified like a common criminal. They must have considered the three years they spent with Jesus all for nothing, and their faith in God must have been shaken.

Broken heart syndrome literally changes the structure of your heart, even though we know that the physical organ is not the center of our emotions. So you could say that those disciples were brokenhearted emotionally and physically. They fled and hid and wept and pondered. They were in despair.

However, in a few days, they became bold proclaimers of Christ. They had a new courage that they never had before. They were not afraid of the Roman authorities or the Jewish leaders. There is only one possible explanation. They saw, heard, touched, and even ate with the resurrected Christ.

The disciples were in agony for two days, but on the third day, their broken hearts were restored to “brave hearts.” They never stopped proclaiming Christ’s resurrection, even though their lives were tragically shortened because of their message. There is no way to explain their courage except that they knew first-hand that it was true.

— Roland Earnst © 2023


Holy Week Traditions and Bible Instructions

Holy Week Traditions and Bible Instructions
Jesus entered Jerusalem as crowds waved palm branches.

Many Christian denominations have established special Holy Week traditions connected to the Easter message of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. However, palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Teaching Tuesday, Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday are traditions not commanded in the Bible.

Palm Sunday is the day that begins the week. In biblical times, palms were a symbol of triumph and victory. John 12:12-13 tells us that people waved them in front of Jesus as He entered Jerusalem on the Sunday before His crucifixion. What a king would ride on indicated much about his status and purpose. A donkey was an animal of peace, and a horse was an animal of war. Jesus came on a donkey showing the focus of His earthly ministry. Interestingly, this was prophesied some 500 years before Christ’s birth (Zechariah 9:9).

Romans 14:5-8 reminds us that even though some people consider one day or week more sacred than another, that should not be a source of division or conflict. Instead, the Bible tells us to remember Christ’s sacrifice to free us from sin and guilt and His resurrection conquering death. The teachings of Jesus are very different from any other religious system on the planet, and that difference is what Christ calls us to focus on.

In John 13:34, Christ calls us to obey a “new commandment” – to love one another. The Greek word is “agape,” referring to a unique form of love that tells us to consider all humans as having immeasurable worth. In John 13:3-10 Jesus calls His followers to have an attitude of service, and He sets the example by washing His disciples’ feet.

Holy Week traditions are well intended, but we must not allow them to distract us from hearing and following the actual teachings Christ gave. Our culture tends to focus on Easter eggs, new clothing, and sumptuous meals while neglecting Christ’s instructions for living. Christ opposed legalism and the failure to love and serve. Every day, we must celebrate what Christ’s sacrifice has done for us. We need to live out “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father,” visiting “the fatherless and widows in their affliction,” and “keeping ourselves unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Biblical Instruction for Good Mental Health

Biblical Instruction for Good Mental Health - Jesus Sermon on the Mount
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

Yesterday we looked at Joseph in the Old Testament and how his approach to life gave him good mental health and made his life purposeful and productive. In the New Testament, we see even better and more direct biblical instruction for good mental health.

The classic New Testament example is the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Everything Jesus teaches in those three chapters is a recipe for good mental health. For example, telling people to avoid anger and harsh language (Matthew 5:21-22) is essential biblical instruction for good mental health. Avoiding sensual materials and associations is a proven way to prevent sexual misconduct (verses 27-28). Avoiding oaths and promises that you may be unable to fulfill is also essential (verses 33-37).

In Matthew 5:38-48, Jesus talks about resolving human conflict. How many of us have been upset by those we disagree with, allowing that to lead to bad mental health? Revenge, hate, and retaliation can eat at our mental stability in destructive ways. In verse 44, Jesus uses the word “agapao” for how we should regard even our enemies. That word is translated as “love” in the Bible, but it means considering the other person of incredible worth. Then chapter six begins with a strong teaching about the importance of forgiveness.

One of the essential parts of the teachings of Christ is His approach to things, wealth, and possessions. Starting with Matthew 6:19 and continuing through verse 34, Jesus talks about how our lives cannot be consumed with getting rich or having material things. So why do billionaires have a poor mental health track record? Paul made a great statement about good mental health in Philippians 4:11-13 when he said, “…I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be rich or poor, how to be full or hungry, and how to suffer need.”

Jesus continues his discussion in Matthew 7 by talking about judging and the importance of not being critical of others. One of the significant mental benefits of authentic Christianity is its capacity to remove guilt from our minds. Baptism is a wonderful tool to leave our sins behind and live a new life. Romans 6-8 gives essential biblical instruction for good mental health by teaching us how to become free of the guilt that will destroy us mentally and spiritually.

The real tragedy is that many of us have had guilt and other mentally destructive teachings crammed down our throats. Jesus wants us to have good mental health and tells us how to achieve it. We need to listen to Jesus and study the life formula He gives us in His Word.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Christ’s Teachings Are Key to Good Mental Health

Christ’s Teachings Are Key to Good Mental Health - Not Gun Violence

Every day we hear a new report about someone killing a number of people in a way that raises the question of whether the killer is mentally ill. We can’t know what goes on in the head of someone who pulls out an assault rifle and starts killing a bunch of strangers. The fact is that even innocent children have been the victims of someone who had no logical motive for shooting them. However, Christ’s teachings are key to good mental health.

Mental illness has always been an issue for humans, but the increase we have seen in recent years has not just been because of the greater availability of guns. It has also been catalyzed by poor mental health in our culture. The rejection of God and the denigration of Christianity are factors in that mental health crisis.

Read Matthew 5-7 and ask yourself why Jesus told His followers to do the things He taught them. In the first 12 verses of Matthew 5, known as “the beatitudes,” Christ’s teachings are key to good mental health. If you choose to comfort, exhibit meekness, strive for purity, show mercy, and be a peacemaker, God will bless you with stability and good mental health.

In verses 21-25, Jesus talks about relationships and the importance of not carrying grudges and long-term conflicts. Next, in verses 27-32, Christ deals with sexual issues and the importance of not looking for sex in a context that violates God’s plan for marriage. Finally, in verses 38-48, He talks about handling conflict and avoiding acts of revenge and retribution.

In Matthew 6, Christ deals with materialism and the importance of trusting God to care for our basic needs. A person who follows all that Jesus taught will be on the way to good mental health. The most common cause of mental illness is a failure to live as God has told us to live. Of course, there are other causes of mental illness, such as disease, injuries, and environmental factors, but even those causes would be reduced or eliminated if we would live as Christ told us to live.

There are multiple causes for the violence, including gun violence, plaguing America today. Hypocrisy on the part of those who claim to be Christians is part of the problem, but it doesn’t dilute the value of what Jesus taught. The fact that Christ’s teachings are key to good mental health is another evidence of the validity of Christianity and the inspiration of the Bible.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

LGBTQ Hate Crimes Have No Place in Christianity

LGBTQ Hate Crimes Have No Place in Christianity

Our hearts go out to the families of those killed and those injured in recent shootings. In November 2022, there were six mass killing incidents in the United States. Violence seems to be increasing against people attending LGBTQ clubs, venues, and drag events. Some blame this violence on Christians, claiming that biblical teachings against homosexuality and alternative lifestyles cause senseless violence. The truth is that the teachings of Jesus Christ adamantly oppose violence against anyone. It is a biblical mandate that Christians oppose sin, but it is also Christ’s command that we love the sinner. LGBTQ hate crimes have no place in Christianity.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7), Jesus explained how Christians should deal with opposition.
In Matthew 5:38, Jesus reminds His listeners that people in the past had said, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” In the violent world of primitive people, that way of thinking was common. Unfortunately, that principle is followed by many people today. By contrast, Jesus said, “But I say to you, don’t resist the man who wants to hurt you…” (verse 39). In verses 43-44, He expands that command by saying, “It used to be said to be kind to your friend and hate your enemy. But what I tell you is love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.”

Skeptics will respond to this by referring to Romans 1:18–2:16, which identifies those who reject God’s plan for human morality. Romans 1:24 tells us, “God abandoned them to impurity, letting them follow the cravings of their hearts, so they degrade their own bodies with one another.” Later verses describe all kinds of aberrant behavior by those who deliberately choose lifestyles of violence and opposition to God.

The first point we need to make about these verses is that they do not describe most LGBTQ practitioners in America today. The more important point is that if you keep reading further in Romans 2, you find it telling Christians to leave the situation to God. It is not the job of Christians to be the judge, jury, and executioner. Leave the judging to God. LGBTQ hate crimes have no place in Christianity

The reason God opposes LGBTQ behavior is that it is a destructive lifestyle. We don’t know all the causes of homosexual behavior, but they are clearly not the same for everyone. Statistics show that such behavior leads to negative numbers for stability, disease, and life expectancy. However, those affect the individual and are not a direct threat to others. I have gay friends who are the kindest and most creative people I know, and Jesus tells His followers to love all people.

Nevertheless, Jesus must weep with us at the horrible violence that has been part of American life in recent years. It makes no sense to direct violence toward people who have done nothing that would suggest they are a threat to anyone except possibly themselves. LGBTQ hate crimes have no place in Christianity.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: USA Today Network in South Bend Tribune for 11/22/22, pages 1A and 3A.

Living in Fear in Today’s World

Living in Fear in Today’s World

According to the Boston Globe, 80% of college students are living in fear. The article says that activists and administrators have created an “Us vs. Them” mentality. This applies to race, pronoun usage, and political views creating “intense, persistent and excessive worry and fear about everyday situations.” For example, the article says that even “picnic” is now deemed racist and can get a student branded a bigot or transphobe.

In the history of America, one of the rights we all have is the right to express an opinion. An adage says, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.” But, unfortunately, that is no longer applicable to life in America.

People could say that in the past because most Americans believed in the Christian concept of God and that all people are created in God’s image. The biblical concept of love was “agapao,” which governed how people thought of even those with whom they disagreed. That word means “to consider of great value,” and Christ introduced the concept in His “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew chapters 5-7). Christ and the apostles taught that every human is infinitely and equally valuable (Galatians 3:28).

People today are living in fear because they have adopted “survival of the fittest” as their guide for dealing with one another. That means I can denigrate those I deem less fit and treat them as less valuable. All abuse of others is rooted in this belief system. Carried to extremes, it even applies to political differences. Recently a female member of congress suggested killing a political opponent to advance her concept of democracy. No wonder people are living in fear.

The Christian belief system eliminates living in fear. John writing his excellent dissertation on love in 1 John 4:7-21 says it beautifully: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear; because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. If a man says I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen can not love God whom he has not seen” (verses 18-20).

Living in an atheistic world is challenging, and fear reflects that. Therefore, Christian faith and morality are more important than ever, not just on an eternal level but even in our day-to-day lives.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Article in the Boston Globe newspaper and repeated in The Week (10/7/22 page 12)

Jesus Christ Challenges People to Think

Jesus Christ Challenges People to Think

People today often refuse to use evidence to make decisions on everything from personal relationships to politics. One of the unique things we find in the Bible is that Jesus Christ challenges people to think.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus uses the phrase “What do you think” five times (17:25, 18:12, 21:28, 22:17, 22:42). Jesus never called his listeners to blind acceptance or thoughtless adherence to authority. In biblical Christianity, faith is not an emotionally-based response. Despite that fact, modern Christian denominations have relied on blind acceptance and emotion instead of thoughtful reasoning.

A good part of this failure is just plain intellectual laziness. People emotionally follow the charismatic leadership of individuals because it is easier than thoughtfully examining the evidence. The result is that we have cults and abusive religious systems. Unlike other world religions, the Bible and Jesus challenge us to examine the evidence and act on it.

Jesus used miracles to convince people of His divine nature. The prophecies about Christ predicted that He would not attract followers by his physical appearance. Consider Isaiah 53:1-6 which is undeniably a messianic prophecy. That passage says, “He had no form or comeliness … there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief … we esteemed Him not.”

Jesus Christ challenges people to think, but as long as people refuse to use their minds and examine the evidence, skepticism and chaos will result. Throughout the Bible, we find encouragement to look at the evidence and know that God is real and that His Word should guide our lives. Read Psalms 19:1, Psalms 53, Psalms 139:14, Proverbs 8, Matthew 6:26-30, Acts 17:22-31, and Romans 1:18-20. Waiting for God to “zap” you with faith is an exercise in futility. Instead, God rewards those who seek to understand and never calls us to blind acceptance.

The “Does God Exist?” program never relies on the opinion or credentials of any human. Instead, we call on all people to come to faith by using their intelligence and what they can see in the world around them. Examine the evidence!

Our materials are free or at cost and provide a way to organize the evidence so that each person who is willing can “know there is a God through the things He has made” (Romans 1:20). That means looking at the physical world and the spiritual world and dealing with the evidence that is all around us. Still, in today’s world, Jesus Christ challenges people to think.

— John N. Clayton © 2022