Known Exoplanets Number 5009

Known Exoplanets Number 5009

As new space telescopes look out into the cosmos, astronomers discover more planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. NASA reports that known exoplanets number 5009. The process God used to create “heaven and earth” resulted in a lot of extra material in various forms throughout the cosmos. In 1999, astronomers discovered the first exoplanet, and since then, the number has kept growing.

At first glance, one might feel that since there are so many planets, some of them must be inhabited by sentient beings like ourselves. However, we find that is not the case when we examine the breakdown of the types of planets that astronomers have discovered. Even though known exoplanets number 5009, only 200 are worlds like Earth, made up of solid rock. The rest are gas planets like the Jovian planets Jupiter or Neptune, or they are huge solid planets with massive gravitational forces that would crush living beings. We should remind you that a world suitable for sentient life requires at least 47 other variables that we have listed in a chart you can see at THIS LINK.

When God “created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), His methods involved forging massive amounts of gases and very few solid materials. Known exoplanets number 5009 now, but the number is sure to increase. Studies continue to show that our solar system and planet are unique. God’s wisdom in creating Earth the way He did becomes more evident as we explore space and realize how many resources we have available on this planet.

The “heavens declare the glory of God and the sky shows His handiwork” (Palms 19:1). We see more of His power and wisdom as our technology produces better images of the cosmos and how it was created in the beginning.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: Science News April 23, 2022, and Time magazine for April11/April 18, 2022.

Birds Navigate Across Oceans Using Quantum Effects

Birds Navigate Across Oceans Using Quantum Effects - Bar-Tailed Godwit
Bar-Tailed Godwit

Over the years, we have spoken several times about the migration of birds as an example of God’s design in the creation. The Bar-tailed Godwit seems to be the champion of long-distance travel flying, traveling 7,450 miles (12,000 km) nonstop across the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to New Zealand. Many other bird species make similar long-distance journeys. The question we wonder about is how birds navigate across oceans thousands of miles with no landmarks. How do they know when to make the journey, and how do they manage the energy requirements of such a long flight.

Modern research has shown migrating birds have a compass that relies on quantum effects built into their eyes. These quantum effects use something called “radical pairs” that form photochemically to allow them to see the Earth’s magnetic field lines. Earth’s magnetic field is very weak, especially in equatorial areas. So any normal effect from the magnetic field would not have enough strength to contribute to navigation, but birds navigate across oceans and over the equator.

Retinal cells in the bird’s eye contain proteins called cryptochromes that contain a molecule called flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). Tryptophan amino acid stabilizes the FAD, so the molecules are electrically neutral. When a photon of blue light reaches the FAD, a quantum release of electrons makes a radical pair. The electron spin of the radical pair is so sensitive that the Earth’s magnetic field influences it. The bird’s brain detects the quantum changes allowing it to know its flight direction.

This is a simplified explanation of a very complex process by which birds navigate across oceans. Researchers Peter J. Hore and Henrik Mouritsen wrote, “When you next see a small songbird, pause for a moment to consider that it might recently have flown thousands of kilometers, navigating with great skill using a brain weighing no more than a gram. The fact that quantum spin dynamics may have played a crucial part in its journey only compounds the awe and wonder with which we should regard these extraordinary creatures.” We would add to that statement “…and the God who designed them, giving them this amazing ability.”

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “How Migrating Birds Use Quantum Effects to Navigate” Scientific American April 2022.

Much to Learn from the Animals

Much to Learn from the Animals - Bald Eagle

Animals have much to teach us. We have learned many things by studying animal anatomy and behavior and made numerous advances in medicine through animal studies. For example, principles of flight, the use of sonar, robotics, and improved adhesives have all been aided by studying animals. But one thing is for sure is that we still have much to learn from the animals.

Conversely, animals also learn from humans. That is especially true of mammals and birds, which can develop special relationships with humans. Dogs were domesticated from their wild ancestors thousands of years ago and have lived side-by-side with humans ever since. They learn from us, and they help us as we help them. Dogs assist people with vision problems and other illnesses. They provide valuable help to police and rescue workers.

You may have noticed that yawning can be contagious. When a person sees another person yawning, they tend to yawn also. Try this test. While your dog is watching, start yawning. Dogs often yawn after they see a human yawn, and they are more likely to yawn in response to their owner rather than a stranger.

God commanded us to have dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:28), and He gave mammals and birds the ability to relate to humans uniquely. If we pay attention, we have much to learn from the animals. In Job 12:7-10, Job said:

“But ask the animals, and they will instruct you;
ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you.
Or speak to the earth, and it will instruct you;
let the fish of the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?”


Job knew that the animals have much to tell us about the wisdom of God’s design for His creatures. Then in Job chapter 38:39 to 39:30, God uses descriptions of ten mammals and birds to show Job and his friends that they have a lot to learn. In Matthew 6:25-, Jesus told His followers that the birds can teach us a lesson about not worrying. In this time of chaos, war, and inflation, that’s a lesson we all need. Yes, we still have much to learn from the animals.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

Water Affects Earth’s Climate

Water Affects Earth’s Climate - Lofoten, Norway
Lofoten, Norway

One of the factors that put planet Earth in the so-called “Goldilocks Zone” of our solar system is that it is the correct distance from the Sun for liquid water to exist. Life is not possible without liquid water. Another factor we sometimes overlook is how water affects Earth’s climate.

We are approaching the end of winter with spring on our doorstep in the Northern Hemisphere. One of the familiar features of our cold winter months is ice and snow. Although we grow tired of the cold and the frozen water, the spring melting of snow and ice from mountains supplies essential water for many parts of the world. The changing seasons caused by the tilt of our planet on its axis and the way water affects Earth’s climate are factors of design allowing humans to live over most of the globe.

The Lofoten Islands in Norway are 105 miles (169 km) north of the Arctic Circle. The area is home to more than 24,000 people and has attracted millions of tourists because of its beauty. Even though it is only 1500 miles (2,420 km) from the North Pole, the area enjoys relatively mild temperatures. The warmest temperature ever recorded at the Skrova lighthouse on one of the islands was 86.7 degrees F (30.4 degrees C) in June 1972. The coldest was 4.8 degrees F (-15.1 degrees C) in February 1966. Skrova has what Norwegians call “tropical nights” when the temperature does not fall below 68 degrees F (20 degrees C).

On the other hand, the city of Yakutsk, Siberia, has a population of 336,200 people, and it holds the title of being the coldest city in the world. Some reports say the temperature has dropped to as low as -76 degrees F (-60 degrees C). The surprising thing is that Yakutsk is 280 miles (450 km) SOUTH of the Arctic Circle. That’s 385 miles south of Skrova in the Lofoten Islands. So what makes the difference?

Water largely explains the difference. The North Atlantic Current and the Norwegian Current bring warmer water to the Lofoten Islands. Also, mild low-pressure air from the Atlantic has an open path to blow northward in the winter. By contrast, Yakutsk is landlocked and located in a valley surrounded by mountains. As a result, the cold air settles into the low area and keeps Yakutsk in the freezer.

The highest and lowest temperatures on Earth tend to be in the interior of continents. This is because landmasses heat and cool much more quickly than large bodies of water. Also, landmasses covered by snow and ice reflect the warming radiation from the Sun back into space rather than warming the land.

As we have said before, water makes life possible in many ways. It is also true that water affects Earth’s climate in significant ways. Water shows design precision at the atomic and molecular levels to give it the qualities that life requires. Furthermore, water is abundant on this planet to supply our needs if we use it wisely. We think water is strong evidence of God’s design wisdom and care for His creation.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

The Burden of Alzheimer’s Disease

The Burden of Alzheimer’s Disease

One of the great scourges today is Alzheimer’s. At present, over six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. That is 1 in 9 people age 65 and older and 11.3% of the senior population. Since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 145%. The burden of Alzheimer’s disease affects many of us in various ways – financially, emotionally, and spiritually.

Medical science is still looking for the causes of Alzheimer’s. There is a genetic connection, and Alzheimer’s also seems to be a product of environmental factors. God does not cause it, and so far, it appears to be untreatable. One of the blessings of Alzheimer’s is that the afflicted person is not aware of what is happening to them. In most cases, they do not recognize family or friends or what has taken place, good or bad, in the past.

I have seen that when we apply Christian principles, people with Alzheimer’s respond positively. First Thessalonians 5: 14 tells us to “comfort the feebleminded, support the weak and be patient with all men.” Alzheimer’s patients respond to kindness and love. As Christians, we have the unique perspective of putting the past behind us and accepting people where they are – not where they were 25 years ago.

If your view of life is “survival of the fittest,” you will have very little empathy for someone living with Alzheimer’s. That person is no longer among the fittest and may be a burden. On the other hand, if your view is that all humans have value and God will bless us for serving those in need, the burden of Alzheimer’s disease becomes an opportunity.

Matthew 25:21-40 finds Jesus talking about the blessing of serving others. Verse 36 speaks of Christians reaching out to help someone who is sick or in prison. Alzheimer’s is a kind of prison and is certainly a sickness. The need for us to bring love, care, and relief applies as much to an Alzheimer’s patient as to anyone else.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Data from Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) 1-800-272-3900.

A Larger Dinosaur Has Been Found

A Larger Dinosaur

We are amazed by the enormous size of animals in the distant past. From a giant millipede to the Titanoboa and the Titanosaur, the size of ancient animals excites fossil hunters. Since 2017, Patagotitan has held the record for the largest dinosaur at 120 feet (36.5 m) long and weighing over 57 tons. However, paleontologists in Argentina recently found pieces of a larger dinosaur.

The size of this animal has several implications. First, we need to be reminded that, unlike mammals, reptiles never stop growing, so there is virtually no limit to their size. A more significant issue is having environments warm enough for such animals to live and enough plant material to sustain them, plus a high oxygen level.

The environment that allowed a larger dinosaur to survive would not have been hospitable to mammals. Reptiles can not only survive very hot conditions, but they require heat to sustain their bulk. A hot Earth with very wet conditions would also promote rapid plant growth. Accordingly, the plant fossils from the time of those animals indicate huge size and rapid growth.

The Bible makes clear that everything humans would need to live on Earth was produced before humans were created. Therefore, we have maintained that God was not a magician miraculously zapping things into existence. God could do the creation any way He wished, but He wisely chose to make the resources humans would need in such a way that we could find them.

God acted as an engineer, producing the coal, gas, oil, iron, salt, and other resources we would need by processes we can study and understand. The volume of fossil fuels stored up for our use is a staggering number. Present-day processes on Earth could never produce them, but the enormous animals and plants of the past created enough resources to take us into the nuclear/solar age.

The Bible tells us that God created planet Earth, not how or how long He took to do it.
Genesis 1:1 is not dated or timed. However, as we look at the record of the past, we see God’s wisdom and power and the magnitude of the creative process that allows us to exist.

Rather than trying to fit a larger dinosaur into Noah’s Ark, we need to take Genesis for what it says and not add denominational traditions. We must not use the economy of language in Genesis to justify our human religious theories.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Have Scientists Found the Biggest Dinosaur?” Discover magazine, January/February 2022, page 53.

Zebra Finch Memory Mapping Skills

Zebra Finch Memory Mapping Skills

Researchers at the University of California – Berkeley have been studying the ability of birds to use a language skill called “fast mapping.” Until now, only humans have shown this ability. However, scientists are discovering zebra finch memory mapping skills.

The researchers examined 20 birds to see what they could remember and how they used the retained information. The researchers found that the finches could identify their mates’ calls 100% of the time. Furthermore, they could identify the calls of every member of their flock for more than a month. They could even do this when they heard the calls of the other finches as few as five times. Even more interesting is that they demonstrated these skills even with changing calls.

It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to see how valuable this memory ability is. For example, birds that flock together need to be able to recognize every member of their flock. Scientists are using this information to study other animals.

Memory is not dependent on the size of the brain.
The zebra finch is a very small bird, and some large animals do not seem to have the memory ability that these finches demonstrate.

Human memory is a subject of intense study, with dementia and Alzheimer’s increasingly becoming a problem that affects us all. Understanding the brain’s design that allows memory storage is essential to improving our ability to store and recall information. Perhaps the zebra finch memory mapping skills can help us understand more of how God designed brains to work.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: National Wildlife magazine, October/November 2021, page 8.

Gender Change Problems

Gender Change Problems

Human rights advocates frequently demand social changes without understanding the consequences of the choices they promote. An example of that is the current transgender craze among teenagers. It’s relatively easy for teenagers to change their names, but the medical treatment of transgender people has become a significant challenge for all concerned. Unfortunately, politicians have advanced transgender legislation without understanding the implications. There are many areas of gender change problems.

Having surgery and taking hormones is a whole different issue compared to participation in sports or sharing bathrooms. But even beyond the physical gender change problems, the mental and psychological issues are also highly complex. Transgender youth are three to four times as likely as their peers to have depression or anxiety. Among 13,600 transgender and nonbinary youth surveyed in 2020, 52% had considered suicide in the previous year, and 21 % had attempted it.

Puberty blockers are a standard treatment of transgender young people. Those drugs suppress the natural release of estrogen and testosterone. Puberty blockers can limit the development of physical features such as breasts, and they delay bone development which can lead to weaker bones in adulthood. Since 80% of people who identify as transgender in early childhood do not continue to do so when they grow up, puberty blockers can have long-term consequences.

Taking estrogen causes transgender teenagers to have decreased muscle mass and changes in fat redistribution. It also causes the softening of the skin, the growth of breasts, and reduced growth of body hair. At the same time, it can cause a higher risk of breast cancer and seems to increase the risk of blood clots. In addition, transgender people taking testosterone experience suppressed menstruation, body fat redistribution, voice deepening, increased muscle mass, and facial and body hair growth. There also seems to be a greater risk of high cholesterol.

The causes of transgenderism are still being debated, and they seem to be very complex. Gender change problems are an issue that is not going away. We would suggest that the move away from nuclear families and the increased use of drugs are involved. When we discard God’s plan and design, the issues become very complicated. Playing God with human sexuality has always produced unfortunate results.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from Science News, August 28, 2021, pages 24 -28.

God’s Design of Fall

God’s Design of Fall

In the Northern Hemisphere, we have just entered the period we call autumn or fall. Summer has ended. Earth’s axis tilt and its path around the Sun cause the Sun to be directly overhead at the equator. We refer to this as the equinox, which is Latin for “equal nights.” Thus, at this time, we have approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. As a new season begins, we see God’s design of fall.

For those living in the northern hemisphere, this time brings amazing things to see among the plants and animals around us. Tree leaves turn from green to a cascade of colors. They don’t all turn at the same time because of their system design. Some measure the length of the day and start turning colors when the equinox occurs. Others depend on temperature to change colors. In addition, we see fruits and nuts come to full maturity at this time, providing food for animals and ensuring the future growth of new plants.

We see God’s design of fall as animals prepare for winter. With the temperature change, some animals migrate to warmer areas. This movement coincides with the abundance of fruits and nuts, allowing nutrition for the journey. Some animals, such as hummingbirds, leave well ahead of freezing temperatures. Other animals change their color in preparation for winter camouflage in the snow. Still others retreat into a place underground where the temperatures will not drop below freezing.

The question is, how do all these plants and animals know when to do that? It cannot be a conscious, planned adjustment by the animals to the local situation. Many of the changes happen even before the cold weather arrives. Certainly, plants don’t think about cold weather coming and their need to prepare for freezing conditions. Some of the changes seem to be designed to provide humans with a sensation of beauty. A sea of green becomes a splendor of color as the plants eliminate chlorophyll “A” (which gives them their green color) to reveal various colored chemicals in the leaves.

Fall is not just about beauty, but it also brings amazing and beneficial changes. Plants that survive the winter are able to free themselves of insects and bacteria that can damage them. Some animals prepare for winter by fattening up to go into hibernation. Bears give birth during this period. God’s design of fall is a functional system that speaks of God’s wisdom.

We can see God’s wisdom and design in a unique way at this time of year. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.” To those of us who listen, fall speaks of the purposes of God in His living things.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Overdose Deaths are Increasing

Overdose Deaths are Increasing

Deaths due to drug overdoses have skyrocketed. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that in 1970 there were fewer than 7,000 deaths in the United States due to drug overdoses. In 2019 there were 72,000, and in 2020 there were 93,000. Whether or not there is a problem is not the issue, but people question why overdose deaths are increasing?

Some suggest that it is because of the availability of painkillers, especially opioids. When I graduated from high school in 1955, many drugs were available, and I knew people who had died from overdoses. Even in those days, we learned how to get whatever drugs we wanted. There were those available on the street and others we could make ourselves. For example, I remember a cough syrup named “Hadacall” that we used to get high because it contained a higher alcohol content than the booze we could get. Harder stuff was available if you looked for it.

We suggest the fundamental reason why overdose deaths are increasing is the removal of Christian values from our culture. If you do not see a purpose for your life and things go wrong, what is the natural response? For the Christian, there is the promise of Romans 8:28 – “All things work together for good to those that love God and who are called according to His purpose.” Christians know that whatever happens to them has some kind of purpose or connection to a purpose. There is also the ultimate hope which is beyond this life. When you discard that, what is left?

We don’t always understand what good can come from tragedy in our lives
. But, as Christians, we know that if we hang on, we may eventually see a purpose or at least some ultimate good in our loss. Opioids and drugs provide an escape for unbelievers from whatever bad things have happened in their lives. Therefore, overdose deaths are increasing because they feel that life without purpose or hope is not worth living.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from Associated Press release by Mike Stobbe for July 15, 2021. In South Bend Tribune page 12A.