Activities and Science Experiments for Children

Activities and Science Experiments for Children

Several years ago, we produced some materials called “God Made It All Perfect,” suggesting various activities and science experiments for children at home or in a children’s class or worship hour. Jean Wiebe and Patty Parker wrote the material which focuses on seeing God’s wisdom and design in the natural world. We have it available free if you will pay the postage to mail it to you. If you are interested, email us at jncdge@aol.com or call 574-514-1400.

The Focus on the Family organization has produced some children’s activity materials with good scientific lessons that can be done at home. The series features “Dr. Fizzlebop” and is a part of the Focus on the Family Clubhouse program. In addition, the June/July issue of Focus on the Family (pages 38-45) has a series of experiments and explanations that just about any parent or grandparent can use with children. You can also use them in a VBS or children’s class.

Focus on the Family has released a book titled “Faith and Science With Dr. Fizzlebop.” You can find activities and science experiments for children in FAITH AND SCIENCE WITH DR. FIZZLEBOP. You can find more projects to do with your children in the Focus on the Family magazines CLUBHOUSE and CLUBHOUSE JR.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Virus-Carrying Animals and Pandemics

Virus-Carrying Animals - Whitetail Deer Fawn
Whitetail Deer Fawn

When you read the hygienic rules for the nation of Israel in the Bible, you might think they are restrictive and unnecessary. However, we now understand that some 60% of known infectious diseases in humans came from animals, and over 250 known diseases have come directly to humans from virus-carrying animals.

We also know that 850,000 viruses exist within the bodies of mammals and birds, and 10% of rodent species host pathogens that can infect people. Seventy-seven known viruses can come from primates to humans, and bats are well-equipped to carry viruses to humans. For example, the SARS-CoV-2 virus in bats probably initiated the COVID virus in humans.

We are seeing significant increases in diseases carried by animals
and spread by mosquitos, ticks, and a variety of parasites. The Lyme disease incidence rate has doubled in the past ten years, and scientists have identified two new tick-carried diseases. Dengue fever has increased 30-fold in recent years. In addition, researchers have identified white-tailed deer as carriers of the Omicron variant of the COVID virus.

God gave ancient Israel restrictions and rules of contact with animals that reduced the probability of transmitting diseases to humans from virus-carrying animals. Likewise, we need to reduce the use of animals as pets and educate hunters and farmers about how to care for animals we use for food. In addition, avoiding extensive contact with animals by leaving them in their natural habitat and not raising animals that may carry harmful viruses can help protect us from diseases.

Massive vaccination is never going to eradicate the agents of pandemics. However, careful understanding of the creation’s design and maintaining separation between humans and virus-carrying animals can make a huge difference.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Week for July 1, 2022 page 11.

Evolution Has Multiple Meanings

Evolution Has Multiple Meanings

Yesterday, I mentioned that I sometimes get people to think by saying that I believe in evolution. For some, the word only brings to mind the concept of “man from monkey.” However, evolution has multiple meanings. We looked at three of them yesterday, and none of the definitions say anything about the existence of God. So here are two more evolution concepts.

#4. MICROEVOLUTIONARY CHANGE. These are changes in a biological population over time, usually in response to environmental factors. We see this in viruses evolving to become resistant to drugs. Humans have created new breeds of dogs and cattle through microevolution. In the Bible, Jacob used microevolution in dealing with Laban’s flocks. (See Genesis 30:31-42.) Microevolution, change within a species, is the basis of modern agriculture.

#5. MACROEVOLUTION. This is a process of change from common descent. The key word is “process” and describes how, over time, it can lead to a new species. In microbiology, a microbe may get its DNA mixed up with the DNA of another microbe and produce a new species. Farmers in California can tell you about insects that evolved with the ability to cause damage to crops. Some plants have changed to the point where they are no longer fertile with the original plant from which they came. Fish have also speciated.

Is macroevolution a tool God uses to produce the massive numbers of new species in the world today? To suggest that macroevolution happens only by chance requires more faith than believing that God built a system allowing new plants and animals to exist on a changing Earth.

So, we see that evolution has multiple meanings. But, no matter what definition we use, it simply describes how God has operated and continues to operate. So, when I say that I believe in evolution, you must know what I mean by that. As we noted yesterday, everyone believes in some form of evolution, but that does not disprove God’s existence.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

The Gay Lifestyle and Monkeypox

The Gay Lifestyle and Monkeypox

Skeptics often say that the Bible is loaded with racial, homophobic, and judgmental condemnations, but these assertions are invalid. Jesus and the apostles were totally opposed to racial prejudice. Jesus demonstrated that in John 4 when he spoke with the Samaritan woman. Paul makes it clear in Galatians 3:26-29 that Christianity has no room for racial prejudice. The gay lifestyle is another issue.

You can’t read the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 -7 and not see that He taught against any violence or malice toward those who reject God and the biblical admonitions on how we should live. By the same token, you can’t read Romans 1:18-32 and not see a rejection of the destructive, immoral behaviors that people practiced. It is true that LGBTQ and gay lifestyle choices are harmful, and one of the consequences of those lifestyles is a vast number of diseases.

In the past, we have seen HIV transmitted from animals to humans
by animal/human sexual relationships and then spread by gay lifestyle sexual practices. Now we are witnessing monkeypox cases on the rise. This is a DNA virus related to smallpox discovered in monkeys in 1958, with the first known human case in 1970. Medical researchers are now seeing cases in the western world, including the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control, on May 23, 2022, revealed that most of the cases in the U.S. have been in men who identified themselves as gay or bisexual. In Spain, the cases have been linked to a Pride celebration and in Belgium to a fetish celebration.

The virus does not spread easily but can be spread by skin-to-skin sexual contact. People with the virus may only have lesions in their mouth and throat, which transmit the virus from person to person during sexual relationships. Although not actually an STD, monkeypox is connected to sexual relationships. This shows again that God’s plan for marriage and sexual relationships is the best way to avoid the virus.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Science News, June 18, 2022, pages 6 – 7.

Twigs Randomly Thrown Together?

Twigs Randomly Thrown Together? - Bird Nests

You may look at a bird’s nest and assume that it is just a pile of twigs randomly thrown together. However, physicist Hunter King of the University of Akron says birds use the twigs in a way that is “totally mystifying.”

Dr. King has done an interesting experiment with the design of bird nests. He took a piston and compressed 460 bamboo rods arranged inside a cylinder in a form similar to the construction of an ordinary bird nest. As the piston applied more force, the sticks slid against each other, rearranging the contact points. As a result, the rods acted as a group and became stiffer and more resistant to deforming.

The new contact points stiffened the “nest,” preventing the twigs from further flexing. King says the fact that birds seem to have a sense of how individual twigs will make a nest with the right characteristics is “something we don’t know the first thing about predicting.”

So a bird’s nest is more than twigs randomly thrown together. Birds construct them to protect what they value—eggs and chicks. From an engineering standpoint, this research will allow scientists to create new structures designed to protect things that humans value. From an apologetic perspective, this is one more example of the design built into the DNA of living things to allow them to survive in the natural world.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: Science News for June 18, 2022 page 5, and Physical Review Letters

The Salt Has Lost Its Savor

The Salt Has Lost Its Savor - Dead Sea Salt Formations
Dead Sea Salt Formations

An atheist recently attacked the credibility of the Bible by quoting Matthew 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its savor, how shall it be seasoned? It is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden underfoot.” The atheist complained that Jesus was incredibly ignorant because salt can’t lose its “savor” no matter what happens to it. Reading the whole verse and understanding something about salt makes this attack an excellent example of ignorance about science and faith.

Today we get salt from well over 90% pure salt deposits. Halite (sodium chloride) is the mineral name, and the city of Detroit, for example, is built over a salt deposit that is, in fact, some 99% pure halite. That is true in many other places, but not in the Dead Sea, where the salt came from in Jesus’ time. Dead Sea salt is a mixture of the minerals halite (table salt), gypsum (calcium sulfate used in drywall), and other minerals. The halite part of Dead Sea salt was used for seasoning food or preserving meat, but the gypsum was used for footpaths. This is what Jesus referred to when He said, “the salt has lost its savor,” and His listeners would have understood that.

The lesson here is that you can’t read the Bible in 2022 and understand what was written some 2000 years ago unless you investigate what life was like back then. It is essential to understand that the biblical account is not about Americans living in modern times. People have not changed spiritually, but society and customs have made enormous changes. Add to that the fact that the original biblical manuscripts were not written in English, and Bible translators may not understand the culture in which they were written. Even languages have changed over the years, which is a problem with the King James translation.

For non-scholars, it is essential to be critical of Bible critics and Bible translations. Was the version you use translated by people who knew the culture and conditions while avoiding their own biases? God has provided us with tools through honest scholars that help us find answers to complex Bible issues. Nevertheless, we still need to apply the principle, “Study to show yourselves workmen who do not need to be ashamed rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Whale and Krill Ecology in the Ocean

Whale and Krill Ecology in the Ocean
Antarctic Humpback Whale Feeding on Krill and a Closeup of the Tiny Creature

Now that people are harvesting krill from the ocean for human consumption, ecologists are concerned that we are competing with the whales that eat massive amounts of krill. For example, a blue whale will consume 35,000 pounds of krill in a day, and that would feed a lot of humans. This development requires a better understanding of whale and krill ecology and its effect on other ocean creatures.

Recent studies by Stanford University ecologists have shown that the oceans’ ecosystems are far more complex than we previously understood. For example, the whale consumption of krill is a significant part of the open ocean ecology. Krill contain large amounts of iron. When whales eat the krill, they defecate the iron back into the ocean, releasing it for other life forms.

Phytoplankton must have iron to survive, and they would die without the whales eating the krill. In turn, phytoplankton are critical to many other living things in the ocean, including the krill. For that reason, researchers concluded that more krill existed in the Antarctic Ocean before whaling killed 1.5 million baleen whales between 1910 and 1970. Whales are not just massive food consumers but also a significant factor in preserving life in the sea.

Feeding the human population requires an understanding that every creature has a role in the creation. As we understand whale and krill ecology, we see the delicate balance in the natural world. That evidence of God’s design work reminds us of the importance of biblically-based stewardship of the creation. That biblical perspective is vital to good science and applying science to solve human problems. It’s another example of the compatibility of science and faith. They are friends, not enemies, and must work together to benefit us all.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: National Wildlife magazine, June-July 2022, page 10 and Stanford.edu

What Does the Solstice Confirm?

What Does the Solstice Confirm?

At 5:14 a.m. EDT this morning (09:14 GMT), the slow northward migration of the Sun reached its peak. As a result, daylight hours are maximized, and the hours of darkness are minimized for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. For those south of the equator, the opposite is true. In the north, we call the June solstice our summer solstice, and in the south half of our planet, it’s known as the winter solstice. So what does the solstice confirm?

In truth, the Sun has not been migrating north since December 21. It just looks that way. At a precise time this morning, the Sun appears to begin its trek southward, and daylight will be a little shorter each day. In North America, we think of this as the first day of summer, but people in Scandanavian countries call it midsummer. In Sweden, Norway, Finland, and other countries many people celebrate June 24 as Midsummer’s Day.

People living north of the Arctic circle will experience the “midnight sun” today. However, south of the Antarctic circle, it will be 24 hours of darkness. This is because of the 23.5-degree tilt of Earth’s axis relative to its orbit around the Sun. That is why we have seasons and the explanation of today’s solstice. But what does the solstice confirm?

Earth’s tilt is no accident. God planned it that way for good reason. (See Genesis 1:14.) As we have explained before, the hot sunshine would constantly beat down on the equator without the Earth’s tilt, making it inhospitable for life and leaving the northern and southern latitudes too cold. The lack of seasonal change would negatively affect life in many ways.

So, what does the solstice confirm? It is one more confirmation of design. We often overlook the well-designed features of this planet that make advanced life possible. Considering even a few of them, we have to say it didn’t happen by chance. When we realize all of Earth’s precision design features, we must admit that the best explanation is an intelligent Designer.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

Happy the Elephant Is Denied Personhood

Happy the Elephant Is Denied Personhood
A zoo elephant and human children. There is a difference!

Atheists claim that humans are just animals, so animals should have the same rights as humans. On June 14, 2022, the New York Court of Appeals denied a claim by a Florida-based animal rights group called “The Nonhuman Rights Project.” The group had claimed that an elephant named “Happy” in the Bronx Zoo was in illegal custody and should be released because the elephant was equal to humans. After four years of litigation, Happy the elephant is denied personhood by the New York Court of Appeals.

There have been stories by animal protection groups of elephants displaying emotions that they interpret as typical human responses to the death of a family member. Other people have ascribed similar arguments for humanizing a pet dog or cat. We call this anthropomorphism, and we have dealt with it before.

If you deny that humans are created in the image of God, then any animal can be considered equal to humans. However, because we are in God’s image, humans have spiritual characteristics that animals don’t have. For example, we can express creativity in art and music, feel guilt and sympathy, have a complete self-concept, appreciate beauty, and worship God. Some people may ascribe human characteristics to a loved animal, suggesting that it can do one of these things, but they would not argue that the animal can do all of them.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wrote, “While no one disputes that elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion, Happy, as a nonhuman animal, does not have a legally cognizable right to be at liberty under New York law.” She said that the legislature would have to decide to grant nonhuman animals the same legal rights as humans.

The court’s decision was five to two, with the two jurists strongly dissenting. So, at least for now, Happy the elephant is denied personhood unless the legislature decides to change the law. Interestingly, the New York legislature denies personhood for a human baby up to the moment of birth.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: AOL News

Do We Have Enough Water?

Do We Have Enough Water?

Parade Magazine published a question to Marilyn Vos Savant in which the writer asked, “If you had a cubic mile of water in a tank, and you start pumping it at 1000 gallons per minute, how long would it take to empty the tank?” Her answer was it would take over 2,000 years. There are many places on Earth where we have more than a cubic mile of water. The essential question is, “Do we have enough water?” The answer is that if we used what God has given us wisely, we would not have a water problem.

If we have enough water, why is there a water shortage as lakes dry up in California and Arizona? Also, why are people facing water shortages in drought conditions worldwide? God has given us enough water, but we are not doing a good job of distributing it. We can take the minerals from seawater to make fresh water. The energy cost to do that is high, but technology has greatly reduced it from what it used to be.

We have pipelines that carry liquid fossil fuels to enormous distances. If you think that building a water pipeline from the ocean to a destination hundreds of miles away is too expensive, consider how much money humans spend on war and weapons to harm others. It is disappointing to hear and read skeptics blaming God for the suffering involved in water shortages when they result from human ignorance, greed, and politics.

Genesis 2:6 tells us that a mist from the ground watered the planet in the creation process. Verses 10-14 describe four rivers coming from a source that flowed out of Eden. The area of the world where those rivers flow is part of the Fertile Crescent, which has a history of producing vast volumes of grain to provide food for humans and animals.

Do we have enough water?
The answer is yes. Anywhere on Earth can be an Eden if we merely take care of our planet’s God-given water supplies.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Parade Magazine May 22-29, 2022