Antichrist: Who Is It?

Antichrist?
We continue to get mail from dispensationalists who have two grievances. First, they have a denominational conflict with anyone who doesn’t believe the Bible teaches that the Earth is 6000 years old. Secondly, they continually attach the name Antichrist to anyone whom they feel is leading us into a physical war with political forces of today.

We are reading an excellent book by F. Lagard Smith titled After Life. (We will review it in the fourth quarter issue of our printed journal.) Smith has the best and most concise explanation of the fallacy of Dispensationalism we have seen. The following is an excellent footnote on Antichrist on page 263 of his book:

“’Antichrist’ is the definitive word describing any evil person. In the New Testament, the word itself is mentioned only five times, all in four verses of John’s epistles (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). A quick review of those verses will show that no single person–past, present, or future–is referred to as the Antichrist. In speaking of the ‘antichrists,’ John is specifically addressing a doctrinal error in his own day in which some were denying the fleshly humanity of Christ. It was thus that they were anti-Christs–those who were against Christ. Who were the ‘many antichrists’ (plural)? ‘They went out from us (meaning they had been counted among the Christians).’ Who did John call liars? ‘It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist–he denies the Father and the Son.’ When will he come? ‘This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.’ John describes these first-century Gnostic-thinking former believers as ‘liars,’ ‘false prophets,’ ‘deceivers,’ and ‘antichrists.’ Call the beast in Revelation ‘the Beast,’ if you wish, but John’s Revelation knows nothing of a powerful ‘Antichrist’ who is supposedly coming during the Tribulation.”
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Free Speech and Christianity

Free Speech
During the past ten years, American universities have seen an incredible change in what is allowed on campus. Student groups and many faculty members are advocating that their campuses be what they call “safe spaces.” They define a safe space as an area “free of any speech that might be considered racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or offensive in any way.” Free speech is under attack since those calling for safe spaces get to define what speech falls under the category of offensive.

This is the very worst kind of censorship, and it makes any attempt at education or reconciliation impossible. It is interesting that a center of this kind of mentality is the University of California, Berkeley. Many of us remember the protests in the 1960s. At that time students complained that the university wouldn’t allow debate and discussion of controversial issues. Now at the same university students are demanding that no one should be allowed to speak who might say something the students (or faculty) disagree with. People learn best when someone challenges their beliefs because then they have to learn to defend what they believe.

Opponents have always attacked Christianity and refused to allow Christians to present the principles of Christ for debate. When you read about people responding to the message of Paul and Stephen you see people screaming to obliterate their message and fomenting violence to them physically. (See Acts 19:23-30 and 21:28-31) That violence even went to the point of making a pact not to eat until they killed Paul (Acts 23:21).

We have had threats of violence from people who object to the message of our websites. It is virtually impossible to make a thirty-minute speech or write an article that won’t offend someone today. We intend to present evidence and argue for the validity of Christianity no matter what the threats are. As Christians, we would ask if mandating silence is the way to foster understanding and tolerance. “You can kill me, but you can’t kill my message.”
Reference: “The Free Speech Wars,” The Week magazine, June 2, 2017, page 13.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Gravitational Glue

Carousel and Gravitational Glue
As scientists study the motions of things in space, a great mystery continues to grow. The fact that everything spins at very fast rates allows stability in the cosmos. Galaxies, which are island universes containing billions of stars, spin fast enough that they don’t collapse into their cores and yet they don’t fly apart. Scientists call the force that makes this possible “gravitational glue.”

If you were sitting on a carousel horse and spinning at ten rotations per second, there is no way you could hang on. You would be thrown off the carousel. Galaxies spin so fast they should fly apart, but they don’t. Attempts to explain the glue that holds them together have included exoplanets, galactic gas clouds, and black holes–all of which we can’t see. The problem is that they are all too weak to do the job.

Adding to the mystery, we see light bending as it travels through space and we call that “gravitational lensing.” There is not enough visible mass in the cosmos to bend the light as much as we observe. Massive filaments of gas connect groups of galaxies, and they are controlled by something invisible.

There are two proposals of subatomic particles that could be the cause of these mysteries. One is WIMPS, which we have discussed previously. WIMPS is an acronym for “Weakly Interacting Massive Particles.” These particles would have to be heavier than protons and neutrons. The other proposal is Axions. They would be “ghost particles” that have a low mass but are super-abundant. So far all attempts to detect either of these possible explanations have failed. To find the answer will require a very complicated detection system.

This is just one more example of why the creation of the cosmos cannot be explained by naturalistic chance. The complexity of such simple things as having a planet in a solar system within a galaxy defies any chance explanation. This complex system can better be explained by God designing from a dimension far beyond the four dimensions we see. Proverbs 8:22-32, authored by Wisdom, suggests the wisdom in the design of the universe.

The gravitational glue that holds everything together is just another wonderful creation of God that allows us to exist.
Data from: Discover Magazine July/August 2017, page76.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

TRAPPIST-1 Star System Revisited

TRAPPIST-1 Planet Lineup - NASA
TRAPPIST-1 Planet Lineup – NASA Illustration

We commented in a previous post about extra-solar planets (planets orbiting other stars), and whether those planets could have life on them. The media seem to convey the idea that there are hundreds of “earths” all containing life-forms similar to us. They suggest that if there are many Earth-like planets with life on them, then that indicates that Earth and the life on it came about by chance processes. In February, NASA called a special news conference to announce that they had found a star they call TRAPPIST-1 which had seven Earth-sized planets orbiting it in the “Goldilocks Zone.” The Goldilocks Zone is the area where water could exist in the liquid state. Many media sources were quick to announce that NASA had found seven planets that were “Earth twins” and almost surely would be inhabited.

Let us emphasize again that finding life in space is not an issue of whether God exists. If scientists find life in space, it will have been created by God and will have a purpose in existing. This particular find, however, is just another example of how quickly and irresponsibly the media will jump to promote an agenda that will sell. As more data has become available, it is becoming increasingly obvious that this seven-planet system is not an ideal place for life. In fact, any life form that happened to be there would be destroyed by the properties of the system.

TRAPPIST-1, the star that serves as the “sun,” is a very cool dwarf star. That means it gives off a very limited spectrum of light. The critical wavelengths required for photosynthesis and chemosynthesis are simply not present. The masses of these planets range from .4 to 1.4 times the mass of Earth. That means the smaller planets will almost surely not have an atmosphere since they are smaller than Mars. The length of time for the planets to orbit their star varies from 1.5 days to 20 days. That makes a very short year. They are all less than 6 million miles from their parent star. That means all activity on the star would likely be lethal to life-forms on the planets. For a comparison, Mercury, the planet closest to our Sun is separated from it by 36.8 million miles. Earth is 93 million miles from the Sun.

God may have prepared other Earth-like planets, and they may have even been equipped with life. The point is that it is easy to see our planet’s uniqueness, design, and careful planning. We haven’t yet found anyplace like it in other star systems.
Data from Astronomy, July 2017, page 8.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Racism Exhibit at Musee de l’Homme

Racism Must End
A new exhibit has opened at the Musee de l’Homme (French for “Museum of Man”) in Paris. The exhibit is titled “Us and Them” and attempts to explore the science of racism and prejudice. It’s an interactive exhibit that invites visitors to test their own prejudices. Visitors are asked to choose who they would sit next to in an airport lounge using different words to give the options. The exhibit presents the history of racism and the genetic, biological data showing there is no scientific justification for racism.

With the influx of refugees into Europe and immigration in the United States, this is an important issue. The exhibit is needed because all prejudice is the product of ignorance. The only system on planet Earth that is truly void of racial prejudice is Christianity. However, that is not what history shows. People have done horrible racial violence using the name of Christianity including the Ku Klux Klan, the Crusades, slavery, and the persecution of racial minorities in the United States throughout our history.

Racism contradicts the very heart of Christianity, but Christians have failed to live up to their own standards. Atheists continue to use this fact as a means of denigrating Christianity. I remember when I was a very young child and my father wakened me from sleep one night when we lived in Talladega, Alabama. He dragged me to the front window of our house which was on the campus of Talladega State Teacher’s College–an all-black college at that time. He pointed to a burning cross in our front yard. My father was one of two white professors at the school, and as he pointed to the cross, my atheist father said to me, “See, son, that is what Christians do.”

Jesus worked to break down hatred and prejudice of all kinds. In chapter four of John’s gospel, Jesus spent a great deal of time with a person who represented the classic example of racial prejudice. The person he spoke with was a Samaritan. Verse 9 is careful to point out that the prejudice against Samaritans was so intense that “no dealings were allowed with them.” In addition to that, the person was a woman. The Samaritan woman said, “How is it that you, a Jew, are asking me a woman…” In verse 27 the disciples “marveled that he talked with a woman.” There are many other incidents where Jesus broke down religious, sexual, and ethnic prejudice and addressed the needs of people–even if they were Romans or Gentiles.

The first century Church was made up of a mixture of people. In Galatians 3:28 Paul concludes a part of his message in which he condemns the recipients of his letter because they have “perverted the gospel of Christ” by allowing the prejudices and legalism of Judaism to re-enter the Church. His conclusion is that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Christians have missed a wonderful opportunity to be shining lights in the world when they have failed to accept the example and teaching of Jesus. Racism and prejudice have raised their ugly heads again and again. Let us not make the same mistake in the twenty-first century.
Reference: Science News, May 27, 2017, page 28.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Alcohol and Breast Cancer

Alcohol and Breast Cancer
For the past several years studies have suggested that drinking reduces the risk of cancer. The flavonoids in grape-derived drinks were said to boost the immune system. A new study connects alcohol and breast cancer risk.

The American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund have announced the analysis of 119 previous studies involving 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer. The study shows that even one small glass of wine or an eight-ounce beer a day causes a 5% greater risk of breast cancer for premenopausal women and a 9% increase for postmenopausal women. Alcohol triggers DNA mutations and raises estrogen levels which are linked to increased risk for breast cancer.

Alcohol is the most destructive recreational drug ever created by man. The damage it causes brings enormous pain and suffering not only to those who use alcohol but to innocent people who are victimized by its effect. Most of the things that cause pain to us individually and collectively are not from God, but rather from our abuse of the things God has given us.
Reference: The Washington Post, quoted in The Week, June 9, 2017, page 19.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Quantum Mechanics, Galileo, and Design

quantum mechanics
One of the great frontier areas of physics today is quantum mechanics. This area has to do with the very small. It deals with the construction of electric charge, mass, gravity, and how matter behaves in space/time. Things that happen in quantum mechanics sometimes seem to violate the fundamental laws of physics.

One of the major concepts of quantum mechanics is simultaneity. The New Physics Dictionary says “Computational scientists wonder at the thought that a quantum system could exist in a superposition of two different conditions or locations simultaneously–this possibility is, in fact, being realized in the exploding field of quantum computation.” In other words, in the quantum world, one thing can be in two places at the same time.

Common sense tells us that in our everyday experience a particle cannot be in two different widely-separated locations at the same time. That does not seem to apply to subatomic particles. What works in the world in which we live where time and space have specific boundaries, does not work in the subatomic world of quarks, neutrinos, mesons, and antimatter.

As scientists conduct more research, it has become obvious that most of the standard gravitational rules still apply in the quantum area. Scientists reporting on arXiv.org have announced that their studies show the equivalence principle applies to quantum particles just as it did when Galileo showed that gravity works the same on all objects no matter what their mass. A 50-ton boulder and a bowling ball dropped from the same elevation will hit the ground at the same time. When scientists conduct similar experiments with quantum particles, the same result takes place. They have also found that the conservation laws of energy are consistent in the quantum area.

The Mind that invented matter and formulated space/time used fixed principles and laws to design the charge and the mass. The result is a system that works to make life possible on this planet. Whether we look up or down, we find that a wonder-working hand has gone before.
Reference: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/key-einstein-principle-survives-quantum-test
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Physician-Assisted Suicide and the Christian

Contemplating Physician-Assisted Suicide
One of the new problems people face today is the question of what to do when you have a painful terminal illness. Improved medical treatments have allowed us to live longer with diseases that previously would have ended life. This has led to increased interest in physician-assisted suicide.

As I write this, I am dealing with my younger brother facing the end of life due to a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. The disease has changed him from an active, in control, retired military officer to a man confined to a wheelchair, in great pain, and unable to care for himself. He and I have talked about physician-assisted suicide a number of times. Each time we do, the discussion gets more difficult.

Christianity Today (April 2017, page 18) reported that Lifeway Research found that 38% of the American public believes that physician-assisted suicide is morally acceptable when facing a painful terminal illness. Their study shows that 42% agree that physicians should be allowed to assist terminally ill patients in ending their lives. Those numbers have been climbing, and they will continue to do so.

It is easy to give simplistic condemnations of those who choose to end their lives in this way. When we are in the situation, it becomes much more challenging. For the Christian, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). Do we have any right to end the body’s life? Is a body racked with pain and twisted with a horrible disease a fit place for God’s Spirit? What effect does ending one’s life have on the loved ones? Is there ever a time when a person cannot minister to others even as they battle a horrible disease? These are all hard questions to answer.

It is obvious that our society is moving toward the time when euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide will be widely available. That is already the case in the Netherlands, and several states have passed laws allowing it. While the atheist may feel that human life should be treated like all other kinds of life, the Christian has a higher view of human life. This makes the decision more difficult when the end of life comes, but it also mitigates many of the fears and concerns that death brings. Life isn’t easy, and the end of life can be the most difficult. We need to study and pray together and support one another in these end-of-life issues.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Dinosaur Mummy Found

Nodosaurus Dinosaur
Scientists have difficulty finding information about dinosaurs. Much of what we know about them has come from indirect information. I spent a great deal of time studying coprolite, which is petrified dinosaur droppings. By analyzing the solid wastes left by a dinosaur, we can tell what the animal ate. Sometimes we find plant materials–leaves, stems, seeds, etc. Sometimes it’s animal remains–teeth, bone fragments, and complete bones. It is extraordinarily rare to find a complete skeleton of a dinosaur, but now we have something even better.

Until recently we had never found an animal with skin in place and internal organs visible. In 2011 miners working in northern Alberta came across an amazing find that has given scientists their first complete mummy of a dinosaur. This dinosaur was a plant-eating nodosaurus, which means “knobbed lizard.” This animal is complete with its armor, spiky skin, and internal organs. Paleontologists have spent some 7,000 hours carefully extracting the creature. Caleb Brown, who is a researcher on the project, said, “We don’t just have a skeleton, we have a dinosaur as it would have been.”

Dinosaurs were the agents that prepared Earth for humans. Without that preparation, we would not be able to have our crops, our domesticated animals, and our advanced civilization. Dinos were key agents in preparing an ecosystem suitable for us. They lived in an environment very unlike what we have on Earth today. Having a find like this will greatly enhance our understanding of Earth’s history.

It is clear that God used natural processes to prepare the planet for us, and the dinosaurs played an important part in that process. Scientists will continue to study this dinosaur, and in the process, we will learn more about God’s wisdom in design.
–John N. Clayton © 2017
Reference: The Week. June 2, 2017, page 23,and National Geographic.

Outside of Time and Space

A view outside of time and space
As physicists and astronomers gather more data on the nature of the cosmos, the more they realize one important thing. They realize that the cosmos came into being by agencies outside of time and space.

Einstein’s famous concept of gravity and mass as depressions in the fabric of space/time assumes that the view is being made by an observer outside of space/time. There is a famous illustration which shows a bowling ball and a soccer ball sitting on a mattress. The bowling ball makes a bigger dent in the mattress than the soccer ball does. Its mass is the explanation of the deeper impression than the soccer ball. All of that can only be seen by an observer looking at the mattress from a position outside of the frame of reference of the mattress.

In the mathematics of quantum mechanics and string theory, the equations suggest more than the traditional four dimensions of X, Y, Z, and time. In string theory, the equations suggest eleven spacial dimensions. This is another interesting agreement between science and faith. God is described throughout the Bible as existing in a higher dimension than X, Y, Z, and time. In Acts 17: 23-28 Paul talks about “the unknown God” and portrays the real God as one “in whom we live and move and have our being.”

Science and the Bible agree that there are more dimensions than three spacial dimensions and time. All evidence says that the creation process involved an entity or entities in higher dimensions than X, Y, Z, and time. Time and space could only be created by an entity outside of time and space. The disagreement is whether that entity is personal or impersonal. The properties of a personal creator would involve purpose, beauty, design, intelligence, and order. The properties of an entity that is not personal would have no purpose, would be totally chance-driven, would show no design, and would have no reason for beauty.

A cosmos created by that which is in a higher dimension gives another strong evidence for the existence of God. We were created with a sense of and need for purpose, beauty, color, and design. Our very being reflects that creation in glowing terms. We are not androids or robots. We are creatures created in the image of the Creator who has a love for those beings that reflect His nature.
–John N. Clayton © 2017