Bogota, Colombia–Faith Challenges

Bogota, Colombia
Bolivar Plaza, Bogota, Colombia

As you read this, your author is in Bogota, Colombia, South America, presenting lectures at a university and in town meetings.

What has happened in Colombia is going on in many areas of South America. For years the Roman Catholic Church has dominated the country, and recent moral problems with some priests and Catholic leaders have disillusioned many Colombians. The result is that belief in God has dropped considerably and Colombia’s health minister has announced he is an atheist and is vowing to implement legal abortion.

Atheists are bringing in atheistic professor Richard Dawkins to challenge the Catholic Church to debate in Bogota in December of this year. The Catholic Church has accepted the challenge and an ordained priest of 50 years experience named Gerardo Remolina will oppose Dawkins. Remolina has written a book titled God and Religion, Illusion or Reality. He is the vice-chancellor of Bogota’s Catholic Javeriana Pontifical University and is the academic dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Tickets for the debate have already gone on sale.

The atheists are also sponsoring a national essay contest in which students are being asked to watch the BBC documentary entitled Beautiful Minds and then write a five-page essay on Dawkins’ godless belief system. The top ten students will then be invited to travel to London to visit the Natural History Museum, with a tour guided by Dawkins himself. You can read more about the Dawkins challenge on ColombiaReports.com.

During our trip we are presenting programs on the existence of God in Chia, a northern suburb of Bogota, Colombia, on June 30 and July 1.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Area 51, Aliens, and God

Area 51
About once a month, on an average, we get a letter or email from someone who wants to convince us that “God” is an alien who is in control of the Earth. The people who advocate this idea say that this alien is using religion to prepare us for some devious purpose. The purpose goes all the way from turning us into food for the aliens to being foot soldiers in a cosmic war. The usual claim is that the alien headquarters in Area 51, which is a military installation in Nevada. Area 51 and a restaurant/motel nearby known as the “Little Alien” (which has the heading “Earthlings Welcome” on the sign) have been referenced in numerous books, TV shows, and movies.

“Dreamland Resort” was an old code name for the military base. The area was a research facility for Lockheed Aircraft where they developed aircraft that could fly higher than the Soviet missiles could reach and fast enough to outrun any interceptor planes. In 1960 the U-2 spy plane piloted by Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union. That led to a new project titled “Project Oxcart” which produced the spy planes A-12, YF-12, and eventually the SR-71 Blackbird. Area 51 was also involved in the development of the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter which was kept a top secret until 1988 when a new plane called the A-22 Raptor was introduced. These planes could fly as high as 90,000 feet. Civilian aircraft cannot go higher than 40,000 feet. The testing and experiments on these aircraft gave visions from the Earth unlike anyone had seen before. To this day people are still reporting sightings of UFOs as military aircraft research continues. Remember that “UFO” (Unidentified Flying Object) simply means we have not identified what the sighting is. It does not mean an alien has abducted someone.

We have pointed out many times that life in space is not a biblical issue. The Bible does not tell us that Earth is the only place where God saw fit to create life. We have also labored to get people to understand that God is not a physical being nor is He limited by physical forces or environments. The Bible says that no one can look on God’s face and live for the simple reason that God is a Spirit and not flesh and blood. Living people cannot see a non-physical being. When people say that God is a physical being, they are creating their own badly-informed concept of God. God is not an “old man in the sky.”

For more on the nature of God, we encourage you to read “A Help in Understanding What God Is” on our doesgodexist.org website. Also, watch programs #8 and #9 in our video series on doesgodexist.tv.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

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

Science and Faith: Handing it Down

Science and Faith-Science Fair
The message we have presented for many years is that science and faith are friends, not enemies. It’s important to hand that message down to the next generation.

When I was a junior in high school, I was fortunate enough to win the local science fair in Bloomington, Indiana. My exhibit was a survey done of southern Indiana freshwater rivers and streams. The purpose was to determine if the biospheres of these smaller bodies of water were a valid commercial source of food for human consumption. This was long before Indiana fish farms existed. My study involved pH, chemical factors, and populations of freshwater life such as turtles and frogs. It was pretty simple and far less complex than the work of Frank Sandy who did a study of new methods of solving complex cubic equations.

The National Science Fair that year (1954) was held at Purdue University and sponsored by Westinghouse. In the May 27, 2017, issue of Science News, there is an article about Aaron Yeiser who won second place in the 2017 version of the National Science Fair called the “Regeneron Science Talent Search.” Aaron says he was “encouraged to pursue his science career because of his grandfather” and because his father and grandparents work in computer science, technology, and chemical engineering.

We attempt to show the world that science and faith are friends and that the teachings of Christ are the best possible way for a person to live. We believe it is important to pass that message and ministry on to our children and grandchildren. If they see us committed to something spiritual, and they understand our love for God and His creation, they too will want to pursue that calling.

Passing on our faith to our children is essential. Paul recognized that fact when he wrote to Timothy “I recall the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that it is in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Science and Theology

Science and Theology

There has been a growing trend in the academic community to suggest that science and theology are two separate disciplines that cannot support one another. The position of this ministry has always been that science and faith complement each other and should never be viewed as opponents. The dictionary defines science as “systematic knowledge.” It defines theology as “science dealing with God and His relationship to the universe.” (Webster’s American College Dictionary) Bad science and bad theology are very much the same–systematic knowledge replaced by human opinion.

In the physical world, science is based on a method that precludes human opinion. The scientific method involves testing a theory by experimentation to see if it can be falsified. We can even expand and enlarge our fundamental knowledge. Our understanding of gravity, for example, has undergone several changes since Newton’s day when the first knowledge was derived by the tests available to him. When Einstein gave us an expanded understanding of gravity, it was based on several tests which could be duplicated over and over. Now there is a possibility that Newton’s ideas will be expanded even more as better experiments enlarge our understanding.

Interestingly, Isaac Newton also did experiments in theology. In theology, his experiments did not verify his personal opinions, so they never became science. Like much of astronomy, quantum mechanics, and cosmology, experiments in theology have to be conducted by observation of things we can’t control. Science provides facts about the physical world and our role within it, and many of those facts have theological implications.

Do our understandings in theology change? Certainly! Just as our understanding of gravity has grown, so too our understanding of God has grown. As we experience life and see what has happened in human history and in our own lives, our understanding grows. Even our understanding of the Bible has grown as we learn more of what Jesus and the Apostles taught and how they lived. Knowing that the cosmos is not just the Earth and the solar system has expanded our understanding of God and His power and intelligence. It is bad theology to take the knowledge of 500 years ago and force our understandings of the Bible on that knowledge.

The twenty-first century is an exciting time to be alive. As our scientific knowledge continues to grow, so too our understanding of God is growing and expanding. Proverbs 8:1 and 22-30 shows how wisdom was involved in all of God’s creation. If we use our God-given intelligence and take His Word as truth, we can grow in our faith and in knowledge.
–John N. Clayton © 2017