Why Poisonous Animals?

Why Poisonous Animals? Eastern Coral Snake
There are 2700 known species of snakes on this planet. Of all those, 412 species, or 15.2%, are poisonous. Five hundred thousand people are bitten every year, and 40,000 of them die. People are afflicted by poisonous lizards (two varieties), frogs, salamanders, and a variety of toxic insects. This brings up the question of why poisonous animals exist if a loving God made all things.

If you or someone you know has suffered an attack by one of these poisonous animals, you know that even when it is not deadly, it’s still a very unpleasant experience. The skeptic and even the non-skeptic is moved to ask why God would create a reptile or amphibian that could cause such terrible discomfort to humans. Why should an innocent child die because of picking up a pretty ribbon that turned out to be a coral snake?

If you have experienced an encounter, no canned explanation will make the pain and loss go away. But can we make any sense of why poisonous animals exist?

We must first begin by recognizing that God may not have created these animals as they are today. God did not create many animals (dog and cattle breeds for example) as they are today. They have changed over the years. It is possible that the same is true of poisonous animals, and their original ancestors may not have been deadly. However, the complexity of the poison systems in reptiles and amphibians seems to make this explanation a little imaginative, if not impossible. Even if true, it does not remove God’s awareness of the situation.

A better answer to this question of why poisonous animals exist lies in the wisdom and planning of God. The Bible says we can know God exists and see His wisdom by looking at the creation. (See Romans 1: 19-23; Psalms 19: 1.) The more we learn about the creation, the more we see God’s design.

One thing we have come to understand is the need for balance in ecosystems. We know that all living things serve a purpose in their natural setting. Animals and insects eat plants which keep the plants from crowding themselves out. Carnivorous animals keep the plant-eaters from wiping out their food supply. Because animals do not fear death as we do, the system is not as cruel and as callous as some would have us believe. In a balanced system, things generally function smoothly and efficiently.

One of the critical factors in maintaining balance is the survival of reasonable numbers of all species. Most reptiles and amphibians are soft-bodied, slow, and generally vulnerable. Camouflage protects some, but the poisonous glands of others are necessary to do the job. Not only does this protect that animal, but any animals that look similar. Poison also helps the animals catch their food. Rats and mice are the primary food source of many snakes, but without the venom, the snakes could never catch them. Very few snakes or poisonous animals of any kind will attack a human. Most bites occur when a person molests a poisonous animal. The obvious purpose of the poison is defense and obtaining food. Accidents do happen, but the poison was not given as a device to be used on humans.

Another important factor is that poisonous animals provide medicines that we cannot secure from any other source. Medicine from snake venom stops the agents which cause rheumatoid arthritis. There are many other examples of ways science has found to use the poisons from animals.

We can see that there are reasons why poisonous animals exist. Venomous animals do not prove that God didn’t thoughtfully and intelligently design the creation. We sometimes have to look a little more closely to see the ultimate wisdom of the Creator.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Practical Apologetics and the Church

Practical Apologetics and the Church
We recently presented a public lectureship in Chester, California. Some preachers who attended all lamented the number of young adults who no longer attended their congregations. We have also received emails from church leaders complaining about the loss of young people and worrying that their congregations are “graying” with most of the members being senior citizens. Fifty years ago DOES GOD EXIST? predicted this crisis with atheism winning the day in the media and on our college campuses. Unfortunately, the Church has done nothing to counteract this trend. We still have congregations where the leaders present no lessons of any kind on how we know God exists, how we know the Bible is His Word, and how we can answer the challenges of secular humanism, evolutionism, modernism, and materialism. The Church needs practical apologetics.

The apostle Peter wrote, “…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is within you…”(1 Peter 3:15). Because we have refused to do what Peter told us to do, our young people assume that we have no answer to the major challenges they face each day. Many of our preacher-training schools teach their students that they should believe, and if God says it that settles it. Neither Jesus, the apostles, nor the early Church practiced that mentality. Romans 1:18-25 explains the progress of modern atheism, and in Acts 17:16-34 Paul addressed the kind of challenges today’s Church faces.

Young people today need to know why we believe what we believe. Many of us are not prepared to answer the questions that kids have. While kids may stay “in church” while they are at home, their reason for staying, in their words which I regularly hear, “It’s a small price to pay for peace at home.” The Church seems to think that entertaining kids will answer their questions, but the truth is that we can not out-entertain Disney. When kids return from a trip to Gatlinburg or Six Flags, they have the same questions they had before. When kids leave home and no longer have to appease their parents, they no longer attend any congregation of the Church. The university or the armed services will not push them to attend. Even kids who attend a Christian college frequently do not attend any congregation of the Lord’s Church.

We urge adults to pray about how to bring practical apologetics into the thinking of their young people. There are many good books and studies out there, but there are also some really bad ones. Ninety-percent of all printed apologetic material in the United States is written by denominational speakers who are supporting their denomination’s doctrine (according to Ronald Numbers in his book The Creationists). This includes all of Ken Ham’s material as well as Henry Morris and the Institute for Creation Research.

In our printed journal and online, we have reviewed excellent material by Douglas Jacoby, John Oakes, and LaGaard Smith. We also have our own study material for all ages which can be secured free of charge. On doesgodexist.tv you can watch our video series, and we have a teacher’s guide available free upon request to go with this series. We also have a children’s series with guides. We are a ministry, not a business and we are here to present practical apologetics to help you build a dynamic, living faith in young people that will sustain them throughout life.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

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

Religion in Canada

Religion in Canada
The Angus Reid Institute is a highly respected polling agency in Canada. They have released a detailed study of religion in Canada which is titled “A Spectrum of Spirituality.” Their study divided the Canadian population into four categories:

Non Believers 19%
Privately Faithful 30%
Spiritually Uncertain 30%
Religiously Committed 21%

When the “Spiritually Uncertain” were asked “Do you believe that God or a higher power exists” 87% indicated doubt. The study observes some interesting points about morality and belief:

“When one is unsure of the existence of a supreme arbiter of truth, it becomes increasingly easier to abandon previously held values… Identifying with a specific religious organization usually means sharing a set of values with others of like belief. Removing the connection has facilitated an increasing number of Canadians to adopt or accept practices that they would have otherwise seen as immoral.”

Religion in Canada reflects the tragedy of the modern church in which the leadership assumes that everyone believes in God. When people ignore the evidence for God, they choose to live according to their own desires. We need to make a strong effort to show young people how we can know there is a God, and what a difference belief in God makes in our lives.

We invite you to build your own faith and to know why you believe what you believe. For our free correspondence course, go to doesgoedexist.org. You can watch our video series free of charge on doesgodexist.tv. Build your faith in God and His word. Know that a fulfilling life comes from following the rules and practices that Jesus gave us for successful living.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Ham-Nye Walking Debate

Ham-Nye Walking Debate
You are probably aware of Bill Nye and Ken Ham and their debate which took place in 2014. As if that debate wasn’t embarrassing enough (for both sides), Ham and Nye followed it in 2016 with a walking debate at Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter in Kentucky. The Ham-Nye walking debate was more of the two men talking past each other.

Bill Nye, you will recall, calls himself “the science guy.” Ken Ham, the producer of the Creationist Museum and Ark Encounter, is the CEO of Answers in Genesis. Nye takes a naturalist position on everything. While he avoids admitting to being an atheist, atheists hold him in high esteem, and he is heavily backed by atheist publications such as Skeptic, Skeptical Inquirer, and American Atheist. Ham takes an extreme young-earth position and promotes the ideas that dinosaurs lived with humans, that the flood explains all of geology, and that dispensationalism is the proper understanding of biblical history.

What happens in the “walking debate” is that Nye walks through the Ark Encounter exhibits challenging what Ham and AIG have put together as bad science. At the same time, Ham attempts to denigrate Nye’s scientific material with religious views of young-earth creationism. The Ham-Nye walking debate doesn’t resolve anything and only serves to bring the two sides farther apart.

The “Does God Exist? program maintains that science and faith are compatible and that science supports belief in God and the Bible as His word. Over the years we have pointed out that what the Bible actually says is not what either of these gentlemen is presenting. Nye is correct in showing some very bad science in Ham’s exhibits. Ham correctly points out Nye’s tendency to use unproven scientific guesses and assumptions to attack those who believe in God. It is evident that Ham knows little about science and Nye knows even less about the Bible.

Our courses, books, booklets, DVDs, and websites go into a more in-depth discussion of science and faith. If you want to hear two extremes that both oppose our position, you can watch the first debate or the second debate on YouTube.
–John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2018

Future of Faith in America

Future of Faith in America
If you read any survey of what Americans believe, you have to understand that faith in God and the validity of New Testament Christianity is in decline. We have pointed out before, that when pollsters ask people about their religious faith, almost one-fourth of all Americans respond with “none.” When we separate those numbers by age group, the picture is even more dismal with young adults largely rejecting Jesus as the son of God. We should be concerned about the future of faith in America.

The two primary sources of the decline in church membership are pluralism and the complete rejection of the Bible as God’s one authoritative guide. Most churches have not taught the evidence for God and the validity of the Bible. Most young people have not seen an example of Christian living in the lives of their parents or religious leaders. We can either sit back and watch congregations die with the older people of faith, or we can roll up our sleeves and do something.

This situation is not new. When the people of Jesus day saw that following Jesus required some commitment, most of them left. In John 6:35-69 people rejected Jesus as having come down from heaven. Later in the Temple, they wondered at the wisdom of Christ’s teaching. In John 7:16-18 Jesus told the people, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.” He then referred to the evidence seen in what people do: “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” We must find some method of answering people’s doubts about God and showing them that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). That is what the future of faith in America must be about.

We can no longer rely on inherited faith to build faith-filled adults. Young people being dragged to church three times a week is not going to do the job. There has been too much hypocrisy, bickering, and inconsistency in churches for young people to blindly accept what their parents and grandparents believed. We can no longer rely on talented speakers and youth leaders to emotionally stampede young people into becoming active, dynamic Christians. There are too many speakers with conflicting views for modern adults to respond to emotional pleas at worship services, youth rallies, camps, or lectureships.

The war for the minds of 21st-century adults is going to be won or lost on the battlefield of evidence. That was true in the days of Jesus and the church in the first century. We have a tremendous advantage over those who lived in the first century. Quantum mechanics has opened the door for us to understand how gravity, electric charge, and matter/energy were created. The complexity, wisdom, and design of the formation of electric charge and the wave nature of gravity show that the cause of these things must be outside the realm of the physical world. Quantum mechanics leads us to dimensions beyond our own, which is the concept the Bible has always given us about God.

In today’s world, we see the results of following systems other than the biblical pattern. When people follow other guidelines as to how to live their lives, the result is inevitably disastrous. When people who call themselves Christians fail to follow what Jesus taught, the result is also disastrous. If we study the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and compare it to all other ways of life, we see the truthfulness of Jesus statement, “By their fruit ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:16). The future of America depends on the future of faith in America.

Scientific knowledge of the world around us continues to amaze us. Rather than presenting God as a magician who zaps things into existence by tricks and illusions beyond our understanding, we must show people that what God does make sense and many of God’s methods are within our ability to understand. People have had enough of mystic explanations and magic tricks. If they are going to commit themselves to discipleship, it must be clear and logical both in purpose and in methodology.

The church has the capacity to present this message. Young people respond to evidence that doesn’t depend on tradition or blind, mystic faith. When 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks for the reason of the faith that is within you” it includes not just the ancient shepherd in the hills of Judea, but also the educated engineer living in 2018. Today, the fields are ripe unto harvest (John 4:35), but our outreach must change with changing needs. The future of faith in America depends on it.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Biblical History Gains New Support

Biblical History Gains New Support
Many skeptics of the Bible attempt to suggest that the biblical record of the Exodus, Moses, and Israel is fiction. They say that most of the Old Testament contains made-up stories with no historical support. However, with further discoveries, biblical history gains new support.

Michael Zellmann-Rohrer of the University of Oxford has recently translated a large papyrus document discovered in 1934 at the pyramid of Senusret I at Lisht in Lower Egypt. The text is written in Coptic, an Egyptian language that adapts the Greek alphabet. The document contains references to Abraham and Isaac from the Book of Genesis and quotations from a prayer by Seth, a son of Adam and Eve. This papyrus does not come from the time of the Exodus, but it shows strong connections to the biblical record in Egypt that endured to the time of Christ and beyond. (Reference: Archaeology July/August 2018, page 16.)

In our websites and publications, we have repeatedly given examples of evidence showing that what the Bible says is true. We also have a DVD series on biblical archaeology by Dr. Harvey Porter. We are currently working on new programs on archaeology and history for our “Does God Exist?” video series. They are taught by John Cooper and recorded in the Clayton Museum of Ancient History at York College in York, Nebraska. Those new programs will be available by the fall of 2018.

We have said many times that science and the Bible are friends, not enemies. That is also true of the science of archaeology. As we learn more from archaeology, biblical history gains new support.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Belief in God

Belief in God
This ministry has existed for 50 years with the fundamental purpose of showing those willing to look at the scientific evidence, that God does exist and that the Bible is His Word. Various religious people have frequently told us that what we are doing is useless because everyone really has a belief in God. Data that shows that 40% of Americans say “none” when asked about their religious affiliation. But the critics argue that even people with no church connection still have a belief in God.

One of the more reliable organizations that gathers demographic data on religious issues is the Pew Research Center. The June 2018 issue of Christianity Today published a report from Pew Research in which 4700 adults were asked if they “believe in God as described in the Bible.” Almost half, 44% of the respondents, said they did not. The obvious devil in the details is whether what they think the Bible describes is actually the way the Bible describes God. (If you think the Bible describes God shown in the picture above, you are mistaken. We have a video that deals with that point and you can watch it HERE.) It is evident that a growing population in this country have faith issues with belief in God as the essential starting point.

We maintain that there is a tremendous need to educate people on the evidence for God’s existence, and what the Bible actually says about God. We have a free correspondence course available on our doesgodexist.org website. There is absolutely no charge or obligation of any kind. The course is written at a college level and is graded by John Clayton, the director of the Does God Exist? Ministry. We also have other written courses available through the mail with postage paid envelopes provided. Join us in learning and growing.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Most Important Question

Most Important Question
In his classic book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis wrote, “When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most.” What is that most important question, and why does it matter?

Lewis, an Oxford professor and author of many books including The Chronicles of Narnia became an atheist because of the early death of his mother and the atrocities he saw as he served in World War I. He could not believe there was a God when he saw all of the evil in the world. But through the influence of Christian friends such as J. R. R. Tolkien (author of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings), he became a Christian believer.

C. S. Lewis gave up trying to persuade himself that “most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most.” What question is that? The question is whether God exists. That is the most important question because it leads to others. “Is there a reason why I am here?” “Is there an ultimate purpose in life?” “Is there any hope?” Answering the first question “no” logically leads to a “no” answer for the others. A “yes” answer to that first question leads to “yes” answers to the other questions.

The vast majority of all people who have ever lived have believed in some form of a higher power. If you don’t, then you have to ask yourself if you are actually one of the smartest people who have ever lived or one of the most confused. Why does the universe exist? Is life merely the product of blind, random forces with no design and no purpose? Could time and space, matter and energy, and the information-packed DNA of life have all come into existence without a cause?

Think about this question. Did matter come first and then accidentally arrange itself into a mind that asks these questions? We say that there is a rational basis for believing that Mind came before matter.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Existence of God Market Research

Existence of God Market Research
The existence of God is not a question that market research can answer. Most people believe there is a God, but unbelievers have become more vocal in recent years. Nobody can say with absolute certainty that there is no God unless they know everything there is to be known. Of course, nobody knows everything. The most brilliant genius who ever lived does not know everything. Science is discovering new things every day, but the more answers scientific research uncovers, the more questions it creates.

One of the major arguments against the existence of God says that a good God would not allow pain and suffering. If you use that argument, you are saying that you know that there is no possible reason for God to allow pain and suffering in this world. But a good, all-powerful, and all-knowing God could have a good reason for allowing bad things to happen in this temporary existence. Unless you know everything, you can’t say that there is no possible reason. (If you carefully examine the Bible, you will find that there is a reason.)

Finding evidence for or against the existence of God requires observing the universe, the solar system, planet Earth, and the complexities of life in all its forms. After looking at that evidence, you have to make a decision. Is it more probable that everything could have come into being out of nothing by pure, random accident? Or is it more probable that everything we see and even our own bodies, gives evidence of the wisdom of an intelligent designer?

If a person has already determined that God cannot exist, then no amount of proof will change that person’s mind. There are still people who believe that the Earth is flat in spite of indisputable evidence of a spherical planet. People believe what they want to believe in spite of the evidence. The rational person makes decisions based on the weight of the evidence.
–Roland Earnst © 2018