NASA Turns 60

NASA Turns 60
In 1957 when I was 19 years old and a junior at Indiana University, the Soviet Union placed Sputnik, the first artificial satellite into orbit around the Earth. The following year the United States established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration with the goal of staking America’s claim to the cosmos. NASA turns 60 this year with an incredible record of accomplishment.

There have been 166 manned missions, 116 satellites which study the Earth, 70 missions to the moon and planets, 27 telescopes/observatories placed in space, and 17 satellites studying solar wind and interplanetary science. We now have robots making incredible discoveries at every turn, and plans are in the works for the first humans to land on another planet.

As a physics major and later as a physics teacher I have been enthralled with NASA’s accomplishments. I have had students who graduated from my high school and went on to have key roles in NASA. As those students come back and share their experiences and what they have discovered, I have been encouraged. I am excited by the fact that most of them see their discoveries, as I do, as a way of learning what God has done and understanding some of the methods He has used.

What an exciting time to be alive, and what a blessing it is to learn and grow in our faith and our knowledge! The more we know of the creation, the closer we get to the Creator. As NASA turns 60, I look forward to what lies ahead.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from Time magazine, October 8, 2018, page 18-19.

Alone In the Milky Way

Alone In the Milky Way
Yesterday we mentioned an article by John Gribbin in Scientific American (September 2018, page 96 or online HERE.) The title of the article was “Are Humans Alone in the Milky Way?” Although Gribbin suggests that some form of life exists elsewhere in the galaxy, he insists there could be no sentient beings like ourselves. The reasons for concluding that we are alone in the Milky Way galaxy are these “amazing” and “implausible” “coincidences.”

SPECIAL TIMING. The elements that make up a terrestrial planet like Earth are produced from hydrogen and helium by thermonuclear fusion. We see supernova explosions producing the heavy metals that make up a terrestrial planet and life itself, but it takes time for this process to create the necessary elements. Most of the exoplanets we see have minimal amounts of the heavy elements because they are early in their stellar evolution. Even the sun itself is 71% hydrogen and 27% helium with only 2% metals. The timing of putting the materials together to make a terrestrial planet is critical.

LOCATION IN THE GALAXY. The location of a solar system in the galaxy makes a difference. The galactic habitable zone is the area where there is a freedom from the concentration of supernovae. Systems near the center of the galaxy have high levels of radiation in the form of X-rays and cosmic rays. There is a massive black hole in the center of our galaxy called Sagittarius A which produces massive amounts of radiation. Gamma-ray bursts occur in certain places in the galaxy. In our area of the galaxy, sterilizing radiation bursts do not happen.

Recent studies of the galactic habitable zone tell us that it extends from 23,000 to 30,000 light-years from the center or only about 7% of the galactic radius. This zone contains only about 5% of the stars, because stars tend to concentrate toward the core of the galaxy. Our Sun is close to the center of the galactic habitable zone providing rare long-term stability.

TYPE OF PLANET. So far astronomers have discovered about 50 “earth-like planets.” What that means is that they have found rocky planets in the habitable zone that are about the same size as Earth. Venus would qualify as an “Earth-like planet,” but it is an excellent example of how misleading that statement is. Venus has a thick crust with no sign of plate tectonics, no magnetic field, no way to recycle materials, and no stabilizing moon. Our Moon keeps the tilt of Earth’s axis at 23 ½ degrees providing a stable climate.

Realize that all of these factors are just to have a ball of rock in the right place at the right time with the right materials with which to make life. Now we would need to calculate the odds of getting the right chemicals together at the right time in the right place with the right catalyst to make the first living thing. Books have been written about how improbable those steps are. The writers are not religious fanatics, but scientists who are doing the research.

The Scientific American article, concludes that we are alone in the Milky Way:

“As we put everything together, what can we say? Is life likely to exist elsewhere in the galaxy? Almost certainly yes, given the speed with which it appeared on Earth. Is another technological civilization likely to exist today? Almost certainly no, given the chain of circumstances that led to our existence. These considerations suggest we are unique not just on our planet but in the whole Milky Way. And if our planet is so special, it becomes all the more important to preserve this unique world for ourselves, our descendants and the many creatures that call Earth home.”

We must make one additional point. If an intelligent Creator was involved in this process, the probability of a habitable Earth with life on it is 100%. Perhaps we are not really alone in the Milky Way because there is a God who cares about us. For those who might want to consider this option, we encourage you to watch program #6 of the video series available free on doesgodexist.tv.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Implausible Coincidences

Implausible Coincidences in the Milky Way
Our ministry has been in existence for 50 years this month. During that time we have presented a large number of evidences that the creation of Earth and life on Earth cannot be a product of chance. Our arguments have been statistical, starting with the basic rule that when you have many parameters, you can estimate the total probability by multiplying the odds of all the factors involved. That approach has not changed, but the number of parameters and the odds grows with new data and information. Implausible coincidences continue to compound.

In the past several years, astronomers have found thousands of planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way. Skeptics point out that the probability of one of those planets harboring sentient beings like ourselves gets better with each new discovery. Scientific American (September 2018, page 96) published a good review of some of the factors that are involved. The article plainly states this:

“Optimism about the possibilities of intelligent extraterrestrial life ignores what we know about how humans came to exist. We are here because of a long chain of implausible coincidences – many, many, many things had to go right to result on the situation in which we find ourselves. This chain is so implausible, in fact, that there is good reason to conclude that humans most likely are the only technological civilization in the galaxy.”

That is an interesting conclusion. The article goes on to list the variables that point to that conclusion:

SPECIAL TIMING
LOCATION IN THE GALAXY
TYPE OF PLANET

Tomorrow, we will examine those “coincidences.” The article concludes by describing the improbable nature of advanced human life. However, it credits evolution for the creation of that life while showing how “implausible” and “amazing” it is. We believe a supernatural Intelligence was involved which we call God.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
The Scientific American article is available online HERE.

Does God Exist?

Does God Exist
Perhaps the most important question you will ever ask is, “Does God exist?” The answer you give to that question determines your purpose and outlook on life.

When we look at our universe, our galaxy, and our planet rich with life, we are looking at things that were designed for a purpose. Design gives evidence of a Designer. Purpose gives evidence of a reason for our existence. To believe that everything in the universe came into existence and achieved its present state by chance requires more faith than believing in an intelligent Creator God.

Fifty years ago this month a former atheist, John N. Clayton began the DOES GOD EXIST? project. John is a professional science teacher who came to believe in God as a result of his study in science. The project has continued for half-a-century through lectureships, seminars, publications; and, most recently, websites.

Three years ago, we began a Facebook page which reaches people all over the world with a daily reminder of the amazing design and purpose in the world. In January of 2017, we began daily postings on this website DoesGodExist.tody? About a year ago we started sending weekly emails to those who request to be on our email list. The emails are called “The Best of the Week from DOES GOD EXIST?” They feature links to the previous week’s most popular posts on our Facebook page and this website. This gives people who may not have time to read our posts every day a chance to see what others think are the six best posts from the previous week.

DOES GOD EXIST? is a non-profit program that never asks for money, although we gladly accept donations. This project has continued through the faithful support of many people who believe that God does exist and that Jesus Christ came as God in human flesh to open the way to a relationship with our Creator. If you like our daily Facebook postings, there is just one thing we ask–click the “share” button to share our posts with your friends. If you like our daily posts on this website, tell others about them. We also have other websites and a quarterly printed publication.

We want to continue to remind people daily that there is meaning and purpose in life because we were created by a God who loves us and put us here for a purpose.
–Roland Earnst © 2018
For access to videos and other materials, click HERE.
For our children’s publications, click HERE.
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To donate, click HERE.

Design In Nature

Design In Nature
When a person says that the mindless forces of evolution can easily explain everything that appears to be design in nature, you have to wonder if that person understands the principles of statistics.

From a statistical standpoint the more parameters that exist, the less likely it is that a desired final result will occur. The odds of a single coin flipped into the air and landing on heads is one in two or 1/2. What are the odds of five flipped coins landing heads up? That would be 1/2 multiplied by itself five times. The answer is one in thirty-two or 1/32. If you throw fifty coins up at the same time, the chance of all fifty showing heads is so small as to be considered impossible. (Multiply 1/2 fifty times.)

In nature, we see situations where the odds would be equivalent to throwing a million (or more) coins up and having them all land on heads. There is no way that an open-minded, thinking person can begin to entertain the idea that blind chance can explain such events.

Books and movies on nature often use a phrase like “nature planned…” or “evolution engineered…” or “genetic forces created…” some natural phenomenon. If you truly believe that the forces that created and designed the universe with our planet and everything on it are “mindless, blind, mechanistic chance,” then you can’t attach words that indicate wisdom, purpose, design, engineering, or creativity.

The design in nature is hard to miss. It has to be rooted in the mind of a Designer. Some things are just beyond what mere chance can do.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

CLEVER Planets

CLEVER Planets Include Earth
We have often mentioned many of the conditions that must exist to make a planet habitable. The number is large and growing as science learns more about Earth’s special life-supporting features. Now NASA has awarded $7,700,000 to Rice University to conduct a five-year study to see what it takes to create a “recipe for a habitable planet.” The project has been named CLEVER Planets, an acronym for Cycles of Life-Essential Volatile Elements in Rocky Planets.

The award comes from NASA’s Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NexSS). The research team will include experts in astrophysics, atmosphere and climate science, geology, geochemistry, geophysics, and organic chemistry. The investigators are from Rice University, NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the University of California-Davis, UCLA, and the University of Colorado-Boulder. This will be the most in-depth study of what it takes to create a habitable planet.

The lead investigator of CLEVER Planets, Rajdeep Dasgupta of Rice, wrote: “A recipe for life as we know it requires essential elements like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur.” Of course, that is not all that is required to create a recipe for a life-supporting planet. There are also many other conditions including liquid water, the right temperature with stable conditions, a proper atmosphere, and shielding from dangerous radiation. Having an atmosphere requires a planet of the right size to have the right amount of gravity to sustain an atmosphere. To have liquid water and the right temperature requires that the planet must be the right distance from the right kind and size of star. The planet needs a magnetic field to shield from dangerous particles coming from the star. To have a magnetic field, there must be magnetic elements inside the planet. The list goes on and on.

We look forward to seeing the results of the CLEVER Planets study five years from now. The bottom line is that it is very, very difficult to get all of the right ingredients required to create the recipe for a habitable planet. Earth is an exceptional place in the universe.

It seems doubtful that we will find any other planet similar to Earth. But as we have said before, if there is any form of life anywhere else in the universe, that has nothing to do with the existence of God. We believe in a God who can do anything He chooses to do in keeping with His nature.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Hydrogen Wall and Creation

Hydrogen Wall and New Horizons
One of the interesting hints in the Genesis account is the suggestion that two creations were involved. A new scientific discovery of a hydrogen wall may also suggest that.

Genesis 1:1 uses the Hebrew word erets (earth) in describing the creation of the cosmos. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That would suggest the simple idea that God created everything including all of the galaxies and whatever else exists in interstellar space.

In verses 9 and 10 the same word (erets) is used in a more restricted way: “And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land earth…” This second creation is what the creation week describes with humans and their domesticated animals as the focus of that week.

As the New Horizons spacecraft was leaving the solar system, it encountered what appears to be a hydrogen wall at the edge of our solar neighborhood. As our Sun moves through the galaxy it produces a stream of charged particles called a solar wind. This “wind” collides with uncharged hydrogen atoms producing a wall of hydrogen. This bubble or wall is about 100 times further from the Sun than the Earth is. The wall indicates that our planet and its solar system are isolated as a unit from the rest of the cosmos.

This new data on a possible hydrogen wall reinforces the biblical picture of God’s action during the creation week as a very special action on a very special planet. God created the cosmos, but then He set Earth apart as a place for those creatures created in His image. That is the primary message of Genesis.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Reference: Science News, September 15, 2018, page 10, or click HERE.

Evolution Does Not Explain Creation

Evidence from Cosmology
The notion of God as the creator has escaped our world today. We have not understood that there was a beginning, that God caused the beginning, and that His imprint is on all we see around us. We have been told that evolution explains all these things, but in reality, evolution doesn’t address the question. Evolution does not explain creation.

Evolution assumes that time has been created. Evolution assumes that space has been created and that matter/energy has been created within space/time. Evolution assumes that forces we are just beginning to understand shaped the matter/energy in space/ time so that stable physical matter came into existence. It assumes that the properties of matter/energy caused it to become organized into galaxies, and stars, and solar systems.

Evolution further assumes that within one of those solar systems a planet was created within the Goldilocks zone where water could exist as a liquid. On that planet, carbon and oxygen and heavy metals were produced to allow tangible matter to exist for long periods of time. Then evolution assumes that within a limited time these materials came into existence in an environment and with a catalyst that could produce life.

Once all those assumptions have been made, evolution attempts to explain how that first life changed to eventually become us. In other words, evolution tries to explain how once the creation happened, things got to be as they are today. Evolution does not explain creation.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

This post was adapted from “First-Century Athens and the 21st-Century World” by John N. Clayton. We encourage you to read the complete article which appears in the third quarter 2018 DOES GOD EXIST? Journal. If you subscribe to the printed version, you should have received it in the mail. Otherwise, you can read it online at THIS LINK.

Growing Interest in Astrology

Growing Interest in Astrology
While more and more Americans are denying faith in God, belief in astrology, witchcraft, and sorcery is growing. Astrology academies and internet users of natal charts have produced thousands of podcasts, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, mobile apps, newsletters, and streaming videos. Data crunchers tell us that there are more than two million websites on astrology, and entrepreneurs are using astrological signs as a means of attracting business. There are sun-sign PJs, hotels with a zodiac theme, and offers for foods like a “cuppa zodiac coffee.” There is indeed a growing interest in astrology.

Richard Smoot speaking for the International Society for Astrological Research said, “So much is going on in people’s lives these days, so much pressure to act or react, and they simply want to sort things out.” Astrologers claim that people in crisis are drawn to astrology because they want guidance in matters of love, finance, and career. The astrology site Co-Star says “This generation is wrapping itself in the blanket of the zodiac to try and make sense of a world that seems to be coming apart at the seams.” The most highly rated astrological site in recent months has been “How to find the perfect dog based on your zodiac sign.” There is a growing interest in astrology among millennials who make up seventy-three percent of those visiting that site.

In the ancient world, astrologers and magicians were a major factor in helping people make decisions. In Exodus 7:11 Pharaoh used secret arts to duplicate what Moses did. God condemned the use of astrology, magic, and sorcery from the beginning. In Leviticus 20:6 we read, “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” Fortune telling was condemned in Micah 5:12 and in the New Testament every confrontation between the apostles and a sorcerer or magician reveals a rejection of those practices. (See Acts 8 and Acts 13:6.)

Is astrology a harmless game or joke, or is there a reason to reject the mystic arts? The first point we need to make is that there is no scientific support for any of these mystic arts. Studies of astrological claims indicate no support for any connection between the stars and what happens in people’s lives on Earth.

Magic is entertaining, but honest magicians will tell you that even their most amazing acts are sleight of hand and visual tricks. It is enjoyable to watch these talented performers, but we need to realize that they are not using supernatural abilities. Sorcery and witchcraft are dangerous and destructive activities and have a long history of tragedy. The bottom line is that all mystic arts draw people away from the real solutions to their problems.

In today’s world, when people reject the Bible and its teachings they are left with no help in making critical decisions. In that void, they seek out unhealthy and destructive substitutes. There may be a growing interest in astrology as a place for people to find answers in life, but it is as harmful and misleading as ever.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Reference: Saturday Evening Post, July/August 2018, page 16.

Is there Anything God Can’t Do?

Is there Anything God Can't Do?
This October will mark 50 years that I have been doing question/answer sessions in lectureships and answering written questions in correspondence courses and online. One of the favorite questions from skeptics and atheists has to do with what God can or cannot do. Is there anything God can’t do?

If you say that there is something God cannot do, you have a direct conflict with numerous passages in the Bible that indicate nothing is impossible for God. If you say there is nothing God can’t do, you get a response like, “Can God create a rock so big He can’t move it?” There are all kinds of fun responses to that question. Marshall Keeble once said, “Yep, and He can create a bulldozer big enough to do the job.” Marshall was being funny and not proposing a serious answer. Theologians have constructed all kinds of elaborate arguments to respond to the question such as saying God cannot lie etc. The problem, however, is in a fundamental error in understanding.

My favorite analogy offered seriously is to ask the skeptic to draw me a four-sided triangle. It should be evident that the question is flawed. A triangle by definition has three angles and is subtended by three sides. In a Euclidean universe, a four-sided triangle cannot exist. A rock, by definition according to Webster is a mass of stone. If a mass of stone gets too large, it assumes a different name – asteroid, continent, planet, etc. Since God created the cosmos including planetary-sized masses of rock, the question reflects the ignorance of the person who asked the question.

If there were such a thing as a four-sided triangle, God could create it, but we have to throw out the question because it makes no sense to us. The same is true of a stone so big God can’t move it. Is there Anything God Can’t Do? That question is a way of avoiding the truth of what God has done.

I have many people who write me and say, “I don’t want anything to do with the church.” The obvious weasel word here is “church.” Webster has the primary definition of church as a place of worship. The biblical concept of church is very different. It refers to those who are called out of the world – people not a building. Jesus told Peter that He would build His church on what Peter had confessed—that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. There was no building at that time, nor during the lifetime of the apostles. We don’t try to defend what human-created structures and organizations do. No serious person would reject the church the Bible describes if they really understood it.
–John N. Clayton © 2018