Shivering in the Cold

Shivering in the Cold
As I write this on January 21, my outdoor thermometer says that the temperature here in Michigan is -5 degrees Fahrenheit. I just graded a correspondence course from a young lady who lives in Tennessee. She asked, “How can the squirrels I see outside live when it is so cold here, and not even shiver?” It was 35 degrees Fahrenheit where she lives. Why don’t we see squirrels and other animals shivering in the cold?

Recently an atheist said that if God did exist, He wouldn’t make incredibly cold places like Alaska. In his mind, God is just too cruel to believe in. He would rather have the whole planet be like where he lives in central Florida.

There are so many problems with that view it would take much more space to discuss them all. The fact is that many animals are designed for the cold, right on down to making their bodies not feel it. The February/March 2019 issue of National Wildlife (page 8) has an interesting discussion about species of animals that have cold-sensing nerve cells that don’t feel temperatures below 68 degrees F. This allows an animal’s body temperature to drop for long periods so they can hibernate. They do not experience the cold that would keep them awake. Animals that don’t hibernate can survive and be active in temperatures as low as 35 degrees F without feeling the cold, and they can do so for up to nine months.

There are many benefits of animal hibernation both for them and for the ecosystems in which they live. God is sensitive to the problems produced by very cold conditions or even uncomfortable temperatures for humans. He has designed not only the conditions but also the physiological makeup of the living things that exist within those systems so they won’t be left shivering in the cold.
–John N. Clayton © 2019

Design Is an Illusion – Not

Design Is an Illusion – Not
If you read our posts and publications regularly, you probably know that we are continually talking about design in the universe, on our planet, and especially in living things. We think that it is impossible to look at life and say that we see no design. However, some people can see the same things and say design is an illusion. They are willing to accept on faith that everything came into existence out of nothing and evolved by pure accident with no intelligence involved.

One person who refuses to see design in nature is a very well-known evolutionary biologist. Richard Dawkins has written several best-selling books that are supposed to be on the subject of biology. However, they are actually books on theology. The high point (or low point) of his books on theology is The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin 2006). He travels the world giving lectures on theology, under the guise of biology.

Dawkins’ field of study is biology, not theology, so we take his pronouncements with a grain of salt. However, even Dawkins has to admit that his biological studies appear to show design. In his book The Blind Watchmaker he wrote, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” However, he then goes into theology by stating that design is an illusion and there is no designer. That means there is no ultimate purpose in life beyond day-to-day survival. In River Out of Eden Dawkins wrote, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good…”

No design, no purpose, no evil, and no good—that’s the way Dawkins describes the living things he has spent his life studying. Life, of course, includes human beings—you and I. If Dawkins is right, why should he study living things, or why should we? What is the purpose of using our purposeless lives to study purposeless things? Perhaps Dawkins has found his purpose in theology as he endeavors to convince everyone that there is no God.

As we think about this, we have to be amazed at how incredibly ironic the Dawkins delusion is. In the meantime, we will continue to admire the design we see in the world and pay homage to the Designer. Faced with the Dawkins challenge that design is an illusion, we choose to believe our eyes–and our common sense.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Justifying Animal Behavior in Humans

Bonobos - Justifying Animal Behavior in Humans
We have received several letters from people suggesting that sexual practices among animals show that humans are not unique in their moral choices but are merely acting out their animal heritage. Our supposed animal heritage can then be used for justifying animal behavior in humans.

We have read articles and news releases describing animal behavior including the pedophilia practices of bonobo apes, and recreational sex, rape, and homosexuality in monkeys. We have seen documentaries on the fact that many males in the animal kingdom kill the babies of their own species. The supposed reason for that is to push the mothers of those babies to become more quickly receptive to the sexual advances of the males.

It is a foolish argument to suggest that humans are just animals and that all human behavior is inherited and therefore we can’t condemn it. One PBS program recently said that the greatest threat to the babies of bears and lions was from the males of their own species. I am sure that very few atheists would maintain that human males should not be condemned for killing their offspring.

The other major point we would make is that sexual activity in animals is almost always a way of expressing dominance and control. The pedophilia practices of the bonobos produce extreme violence among the clan. Using sex to show dominance or to establish a pecking order among the group is a long way from the purpose of human homosexuality.

God created humans in His image. That means that dominance and control is not the only focus of our relationships. The “oneness” that God intended for sexual relationships (Genesis 2:24) is a long way from establishing who is going to control the group in which they live. The “agape” love which humans are capable of, goes far beyond sex. In John 17:24-26 Jesus spells out agape in terms of God’s love for His son. Animals are not capable of that kind of love.

When humans misuse sex or use sex only for physical pleasure, the result is always catastrophic. After Amnon raped Tamar (see 2 Samuel 13) he “hated her exceedingly.” That was the beginning of a long series of tragedies for the whole family. Justifying animal behavior in humans violates the uniqueness of humans and human relationships, just as it did for both Tamar and Amnon. Animal sexual activity does not produce what God intended in the marriage relationship.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Bible Manuscripts and National Geographic

Bible Manuscripts and National Geographic
Atheists often suggest that the Bible is a group of fake manuscripts with a traceable history of distortion and rewriting. Therefore, it can’t be taken seriously. Perhaps the main hero of biblical skeptics and critics is Bart Ehrman. In 2005 Ehrman released a book titled Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. In that book, he claims there are massive mistakes in Bible manuscripts. Ehrman, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, is an atheist who was previously an evangelical Christian.

In the December 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine, the lead article by Robert Draper is titled “The Bible Hunters.” It is a well-documented article about the history of searching for and finding early Bible manuscripts. It shows how those manuscripts agree with the Bible we have today and that more and more evidence supports the integrity of the Scriptures.

If you aren’t familiar with Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest complete copy of the New Testament, this article will help you learn about the interesting story of how it was discovered. The article details the finding of a nearly complete copy of the book of Isaiah, the Messianic prophet, from the Dead Sea Scrolls dating before the time of Christ. It also details a number of other ancient Bible manuscripts.

The article is honest and admits the deliberate altering of some documents. While it may make people aware of some of the problems of Biblical documents, the weight of the evidence revealed in the article is very supportive of Biblical accuracy. We can accept the Bible as God’s Word, and most of the difficulties are likely to be resolved with more study of the Bible manuscripts.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Relying On Ignorance

Relying on Ignorance of Grand Canyon Formation
We often hear from young people who have been taught something in a Bible class or sermon or a religious publication or video that they know cannot be true. Many creationists and creationist groups lack training in the fields in which they claim to be experts, and they are relying on ignorance of their hearers. When smart young people hear something they know is incorrect, it gives them a reason to reject the church and perhaps reject God’s existence.

A classic example of this is shown in explanations of the Grand Canyon. Many writers try to explain away the formation of the Grand Canyon by saying that the Flood of Noah did it. They say the Flood formed the Canyon in a short time just a few thousand years ago. They claim that the Flood laid down the sediments, and when the water swept off the land, it carved the Grand Canyon.

As an Earth Science teacher in the public schools in South Bend, Indiana, I taught young people about petrology — the study of rocks. Knowing how rocks were formed enabled scientists to find resources such as copper, oil, marble, iron, and certain gems. We can now synthesize some of these materials by copying the methods by which they were formed in the Earth’s past. Relying on ignorance would not allow us to find or synthesize these materials.

We know that the deposition of materials and subsequent erosion by the Flood did not form the Grand Canyon. The dominant rock in the Grand Canyon is limestone. Children taking Earth Science courses learn that limestone is a chemical precipitate. Quiet waters produce it over a long time. Most of us know about rock candy in which a solution of sugar crystallizes to create the candy. Limestone produced by a similar process, as is halite, dolomite, and gypsum. These are chemically precipitated rocks, never deposited in moving water.

A recent headline in a creationist journal reads, “Rapid Limestone Deposits Match the Flood.” A young person told me that she didn’t want to hear anything else from the Church because the statements in the journal were clearly not true. She doubted anything the Church said was true as a result. She also pointed out other problems. The Canyon is not just one rock type. It has alternating layers of different materials produced by different climates and processes. There are desert-produced sandstones, conglomerates which are produced by running streams, salt deposits produced by evaporation, and lavas that flowed across the top of the rock layers below them and were not injected as sills.

There is a huge burden on us to know what we are talking about. We must be as accurate as we can in understanding what the evidence shows. The general public is ignorant of most of these things and will not call an error to our attention. However, young people today are better educated in scientific facts, and we must not be relying on ignorance to expect our explanations to go unchallenged.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Being Rational About Creation

Being Rational About Creation
In response to our postings, we often receive messages like these: 1) “There is absolutely no proof that any god exists!” 2) “Belief in a god is not rational.” 3) “There is no evidence of any ‘Creator’ (whether it’s God or an Advanced Alien or Magic Unicorn).” We asked the people who posted each of these comments, “Are you absolutely sure that there is no evidence of any Creator?” Being rational requires comparing options to see which is most reasonable.

A basic fact is that anything that begins to exist has to have a cause. Science has proven that the universe had a beginning, therefore, what was the cause? According to science, the cosmic creation event (better known as the “big bang”) was the beginning of matter/energy and space/time. If whatever caused the universe created matter, then that Cause has to be non-material, and not under the restraints of the physical laws of the material universe. If the Cause of the universe created time, then that Cause must be outside of the time dimension in which we are bound.

Science, by its very nature, cannot investigate, prove, or disprove anything that lies outside of the dimensions of matter, energy, space, and time in which science operates and which it investigates. Modern science suggests that there are other dimensions beyond the three spatial dimensions and the one time dimension that we experience. If anyone says that scientific, empirical evidence is the only way to know reality, that person is making a faith statement, not a scientific statement.

All reasoning begins from certain faith commitments that we cannot reach by pure reason. Being rational requires being open to the available options. A person who believes that “God created the heavens and the earth” is acting on faith. So also is the person who says, “There is no evidence of a creator.” Which of these two ideas is more “rational?”

1) The universe began to exist without a cause.

2) A Cause/Creator outside of time and space and not restricted by the physical laws of matter/energy brought the universe into existence.

The truth has to be one of those two options.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Abraham Had Camels

Abraham Had Camels
It’s the case of the missing camels. One argument that biblical skeptics keep resurrecting is the claim that there were no camels in ancient Israel. In Genesis 24 Abraham’s servant took ten camels and went to find a wife for his son Isaac. The charge is that there were no camels in the Promised Land at that time so this account is in error. We want to know if it is true that Abraham had camels.

Camels are mentioned 22 times in Genesis and are mentioned again in Exodus 9:3, Leviticus 11:4, 1 Samuel 15:3, 1 Kings 10:2 and 2 Kings 8:9 as well as other passages. In modern times famed archaeologist William F. Albright claimed that there were no camels in the Holy Land until the 10th century B.C. National Geographic repeated that claim claim in 2014.

Dr. Mark Chavalas in the November/December 2018 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review makes it likely that Abraham had camels and the biblical account is not in error. He gives archaeological evidence that there were camels all around the Holy Land as early as the 4th millennium B.C. Here are five of the pieces of evidence Chavalas gives:

1) In the 4th millennium B.C., a bactrian camel (one with two humps) is portrayed in artwork in Eastern Iran.
2) In the 3rd millennium B.C., a dromedary (with one hump) appears on a plaque from modern day Iraq.
3) Camel skeletal remains from the 3rd millennium have been found in Iran.
4) Camel remains from 2400 B.C. were found in the Sumerian city of Shuruppak.
5) A Babylonian document from the 18th century B.C. contains the line “the milk of the camel is sweet.”

Abraham and his family came from Mesopotamia (Genesis 12) and moved to the land God promised to him. Migrating to this new land, Abraham, who was rich in livestock, would have brought his animals with him. (See Genesis 13:2.) So it seems evident that Abraham had camels. The attempts of skeptics to declare the Bible anachronistic is simply a case of letting prejudice override a reasonable search for evidence.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

How Could All Those Animals Fit in Noah’s Ark?

How Could All those Animals Fit in Noah's Ark?
Perhaps the most argued event in the Old Testament is the flood of Noah described in Genesis. For the past two days, we have been examining some of the questions people ask. Today we will look at the question, “How could all those animals fit in Noah’s ark?

The Bible gives the dimensions of the ark, and it indeed was huge, especially for that time. How do you get the 25 million or so species of animals on Earth today into that ship? The answer is that you couldn’t.

Genesis 6:20 lists the same groups that are described in Genesis 1. Those are (1) fowl, (2) cattle, (3) “creeping things,” and (4) fish. We pointed out in our lessons on evolution that the word “kind” in Hebrew is not the same as “species” in modern scientific terms. The word “kind” is the Hebrew word “min,” and the Bible tells us in both the Old and New Testaments that there are four kinds: the flesh of fish, the flesh of birds, the flesh of beasts, and the flesh of man. First Corinthians 15:39 identifies these four and Genesis 1 identifies them as well. The same groupings are used in Genesis 6 to describe what Noah took on the ark.

The Hebrew word “remes” is rendered as “creeping thing” in some translations of the Bible. “Sherets” is also translated creeping thing (see Leviticus 11). “Remes” was an animal the Jews could eat, but “sherets” was not. “Remes” clearly refers to goats and sheep – animals that could be eaten by the Jews. But “sherets” refers to things like snakes and lizards which they could not eat.

So how could all those animals fit in Noah’s ark? The point of all this is that Noah didn’t take two poodles, two cockapoos, two German shepherds, etc. He took two dog-like animals. Similarly, he took two bovines, not the dozens of varieties that exist today. There are over 100 varieties of chickens, but he took two of that group. In short, Noah’s ark would have had enough room, and the evolutionary change that has taken place since has given us the variety we have today.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
We have a discussion of the flood in our video series program # 27 available on our doesgodexist.TV website. You can also look up information on the flood by doing a word search on our doesgodexist.org website search engine.

Homeopathic Medicine Lawsuit

Homeopathic Medicine Inventor
Homeopathy is a medical system based on the belief that a substance that causes disease in a healthy person can cure a sick person if it is diluted enough. Homeopathic medicine was invented in the late 1700s by a German named Samuel Hahnemann (pictured).

Some religious groups embrace homeopathy or the related naturopathy believing that God created all life with the ability to heal itself. They frequently quote Genesis 9:1-3 as the starting point for the need for plants and minerals to sustain human health, because the meat now included in human diets would not meet the medical requirements. They also quote Acts 10:9-16 as part of the change that took place in the human diet that made it necessary for plants and minerals to provide supplements.

We would suggest that the hermeneutics of using those passages in that way is dubious. There is no doubt that nutrition is a part of good health, and supplements can be useful in maintaining health. But whether a plant or mineral could replace the effectiveness of penicillin or modern antibiotics is debatable. Some today are making claims about homeopathic medicine for curing disease with no scientific support. CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the United States with 9800 stores, and they promote homeopathy by placing homeopathic remedies on their shelves alongside scientifically-proven medications.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) on June 29, 2018, filed a lawsuit against CVS. They told the Superior Court of the District of Columbia that homeopathy is a pseudoscience and that CVS is in violation of the Consumer Protection Procedures Act. They are demanding that CVS provide “corrective advertising, marketing, labeling.” The suit says that CVS persists in deceiving its customers about the effectiveness of homeopathic products. “Homeopathics are shelved right alongside scientifically proven medicines, under the same signs for cold and flu, pain relief, sleep aids, and so-on.” An example given by the CFI is Arnicare Arthritis which I have seen in drug stores as providing relief for arthritis pain. Tests have shown that a placebo gave as much relief as Arnicare Arthritis.

Some religious groups in our area have stores that sell homeopathic medicine and make claims that are not backed up by scientific testing. Greed and a lack of integrity among promoters of homeopathic cures have caused a lot of pain and a few deaths among religious people who think homeopathy is a biblical injunction. Read all labels carefully and pay attention to data offered by medical organizations before trusting any drug or supposed medication.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Data from Skeptical Inquirer, November/December 2018, page 5-6.

Are We a Hologram?

Are We a Hologram?
This ministry has been functioning for 50 years, and one of the things we have seen is that atheist and skeptic arguments are cyclical. In the 1960s there was a push by skeptics to say that the physical world doesn’t exist at all and the universe is an illusion. So are we a hologram? Some scientists today seem to think so.

In the New York Times for May 10, 2018, science columnist Dennis Overbye wrote, “The news from some physicists like the late Stephen Hawking is that the universe might be a hologram, an illusion like the three-dimensional images on a bank card. Some cosmologists have argued that it is not inconsistent – at least mathematically – to imagine that the entire universe as we know it could just be a computer simulation as in The Matrix.”

Just because something is mathematically possible does not mean that it is true. You can prove that 1 = 2 if you make the right assumptions (in that case dividing something by zero). On a more practical level, there are certain things that holograms or illusions cannot do. For example, you can’t force an illusion to be taught to think. The whole notion of free will does not fit an illusion hypothesis. Our brains are not a simulation, and the things we do at a spiritual level are not within the reach of aliens.

If your view of the creation is that we are mindless pawns who have no purpose, then the hologram hypothesis may seem reasonable. Are we are a hologram controlled by aliens? For those of us who believe that we are spiritual beings with a purpose for our existence, this is just another silly, desperate attempt to get around being responsible for what we do.
–John N. Clayton