Atheists Use “Satan Club” to Counter “Good News Clubs.”

Kids After School
Since 2001 there has been an effort to establish Christian after-school clubs in public schools. In 2001 the Supreme Court ruled that religious groups could use public schools buildings after hours as a part of their right to free speech. There are now over 3,560 of these clubs in operation mostly in elementary schools. Doug Mesner and Ann Merlan of the Satanic Temple are offering “after school Satan clubs” to oppose what they say is “the oppressive form of Christianity full of sin, guilt and ‘God’s wrath.’” The Satanic Temple says that Satan Clubs will actually “involve science lessons about evolution, some educational arts and crafts, and a healthy snack.” The term “Satan Club” is used as a “metaphorical construct to promote a non-superstitious world view,” and primarily to draw attention since “Reason Clubs” already exist.

The “Good News” clubs that we are familiar with do not teach children that Christianity is about “sin, guilt, and God’s wrath.” They do offer kids guidance on dealing with sexuality, substance abuse, wholesome recreation, and the need for good moral choices. Attendance is voluntary in these clubs, and parental permission is required. The collateral damage from all of this may be huge. The real issue here is that school officials are likely to close the public school facilities to all outside use, including non-religious clubs and service organizations. Having school facilities sit empty and unused when tax dollars are footing the bill seems to be poor management of resources. For more on this subject see The Week, August 19, 2016, page 17.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

A “Christian” Congress?

US Captial

The recent election is unpopular with lots of people for many different reasons. Atheists are unhappy because the percentage of elected officials who call themselves “Christian” is the highest it has been in many years. All but three members of the Senate call themselves “Christian” when asked their religious faith, and the same percentage applies to the House of Representatives. Atheists in their blogs are not very excited about that.

When prisons release the faith preferences of inmates, “Christian” dominates prisoner choices. In most prisons over 90% of the prisoners say they are Christians. The number of atheists is in the single digits. Atheists like to brag about that, but there is a simple explanation of why prisons have so many “Christians” and so few “atheists.” First of all, in most prisons the information cards the inmates fill out do not have “atheist” as a choice. They are forced to check a Christian denomination, Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim. The more important point is that prisoners are anxious to please the warden or powers that can facilitate their release, so they will check whatever they think will get them out sooner.

Politicians are prisoners of the dominant religion of the people voting for them. The fact that some politicians might not know the difference between 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians could be a clue as to how much influence their faith has on their votes on social issues. We’ll see if any Christian values show up in the next two to six years.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Should We Go to Mars?

Concept of Future Mars Outpost
Chances are you have seen the movie The Martian or the National Geographic TV series on Mars, with the hypothetical first colonization of the red planet. Politicians have jumped into the popular hysteria by making proposals about establishing human occupation of the planet. Some wealthy private companies are proposing to offer trips to Mars.

There is nothing in the Bible that would attempt to restrict humans from leaving Earth. By the same token, there is no encouragement to do so. What the general public does not seem to understand is that God incorporated an incredible number of design features into the Earth for us to be able to live here. We have discussed those features over and over in our printed publications, in our Dandy Designs series, and also on our Facebook page. When you don’t have those design features available, human life becomes very tentative.

NASA has recently discovered that astronauts who flew to the moon were four times more likely to die from heart disease than those who had even the minimal protection of the International Space Station. Astronauts are also showing signs of what has been nicknamed “Space Brain.” This involves dementia and cognitive impairment. The effect of weightlessness is still being studied, but the loss of bone and muscle mass is known to be a consequence of living without gravity. The cost of resolving all these issues is huge. Even though we will probably be able to overcome these problems in the distant future, we need to understand that God’s design of Earth is highly complex. We may want to make sure we use our resources to solve the hunger, homelessness, and ecological issues before we venture to other worlds. NASA data is available in The Week, December 23, 2016, page 27.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Is Hebrew the Oldest Alphabet?

Passover Text Hebrew
Skeptics have tried for a very long time to discredit the Bible by saying that there is no record of Hebrews ever being in captivity in Egypt. Dr. Douglas Petrovich who is a well-known archaeologist and epigrapher from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, has been studying Egyptian inscriptions and has found early Hebrew letters and words in those inscriptions. Scholars have long believed that there is a connection between ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and ancient alphabets. Dr. Petrovich thinks that Egyptian Hebrews took the complex hieroglyphic writing system and put it into 22 alphabetic letters to communicate with other Hebrews in Egypt. He presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research last November. Dr. Petrovich says he has translated 18 Hebrew inscriptions from three Egyptian sites. These inscriptions include references to Joseph and Moses. In the coming months, there will be a book by Dr. Petrovich detailing all of this, and we look forward to seeing it. We will be following up on this story when the book is published. If Dr. Petrovich is correct, this would be strong evidence for the Egyptian captivity. Data from Science News, December 24, 2016, and January 7, 2017, page 8. You can read the article online at: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/oldest-alphabet-identified-hebrew –John N. Clayton © 2017

“Whose Tools Are These?”

Capuchin Monkey
That is the title of an article in the January 2017 issue of Scientific American (pages 11-12) by Kate Wong. The article deals with the discovery that wild capuchin monkeys in Brazil’s Serra da Capivara National Park have been observed banging rocks together to break them and thus isolating conchoidal fractured chips and flakes which could then be used as cutting tools. When researchers study the flakes and chips, they find that they look very much like the flakes and chips found in caves and shelters where early humans are thought to have lived. However, part of the reason that humans were assumed to have been in those locations was the finding of tools similar to the capuchin monkey flakes.

There are some interesting points connected with all of this. One obvious point is that you cannot define what is human and what is not human by whether they fashioned tools or not, and that has been a method used by scientists studying this question. We have known that some birds and chimps use objects found in the wild to secure food. Chimps use sticks to get ants by pushing the sticks into an ant hill and eating the ants that cling to the sticks. Birds have been observed dropping objects on eggs to crack them open to eat the contents. Making a tool is another issue, but once again this does not seem to be a good indicator of whether or not a specimen was human.

The Bible describes humans as being created in God’s image. This doesn’t involve tool use at all but has to do with human capacity for creative activity, worship, and feeling guilt, sympathy, or self-sacrificing love. That definition is superior to any physical criteria, but it is hard to use in studying a fossil in most cases. –John N. Clayton © 2017

Lessons on Design from Frogs and Toads

Tungara Frog
One of the children’s books that we have in our children’s series is on Frogs and Toads. Re-reading that little book written at a child’s level motivated me to look into some of the unusual things about these amphibians. Of the 7,537 species of amphibians, 6,631 are frogs and toads. One thing some creationists have not considered is that if you interpret “kinds” in the Bible to refer to species, you have many problems explaining how you get 6,631 species of frogs on Noah’s ark. The point is that the Old Testament Hebrew word “min” (translated “kinds” in most translations of the Bible) is not the same as the English word “species.” “Kind” has a much broader meaning. We find the same concept of “kinds” in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 15:39 the writer tells us that there are four kinds of flesh, the flesh of men, of beasts, of fishes, and of birds. We would suggest that changes due to environmental pressures have caused frogs to speciate to enable them to adapt to their individual environments. Frogs living in trees don’t need the same equipment functioning in the same way as frogs in a pond, in a sand dune, or in a cold place. This factual evolution is seen in most animals, but very clearly in the frogs. We still have much to learn about this. Toads and frogs have an organ called a “Bidder’s organ.” The purpose of this organ is unknown. It is present in all toads in early development but only in the males in adulthood.

Some frog behaviors are amazing. The Tungara frog which is common in South and Central America is a good example. During the mating season, the female releases a protein which the male collects on his feet. When he has collected a sufficient amount, he begins kicking his feet vigorously producing a foam into which the eggs are placed to grow into tadpoles. Other frogs produce a similar foam, but by completely different methods. Studies are being done to see how the frog acquires this ability, but it is pretty obvious that it isn’t acquired in stages. The genome may tell us whether it is built into the frog’s DNA or whether it is a learned behavior, but it appears that it is genetic in nature. To program a code takes intelligence and purpose, and chance explanations are difficult to justify, even in such a simple organism as a frog. Data from Discover magazine, July/August 2016, page 74.                                –John N. Clayton © 2017

Welcome to Something New!

Since 1972 the Does God Exist? Ministry has had a journal that contained articles showing the compatibility of science and faith, examples of design, book reviews, and a discussion of current events that affect faith in God and the Bible as God’s Word. The journal started as a ditto mailed to 30 or so interested people and gradually evolved to a 32 page four color periodical mailed to over 10,000 people in print as well as in an audio format to the visually impaired. By the end of 2016, it was obvious that we had to make a change in the periodical. One problem was that news was coming so rapidly that the time between what happened and when we could discuss it was in months. The second problem involved cost factors in both printing and in mailing the periodical.

Many of our readers do not have access to or do not want to read the material online, so we intend to continue to mail it, but will do so quarterly, not bimonthly. For everyone else, we intend to supplement the quarterly issues with this website we call DOES GOD EXIST? Today. We hope you will find it more useful, more current, and more practical than just getting the quarterly printed copy. There will be some duplication, but there will be much here that will not be in our quarterly mailed version. As has been our policy, there is no charge for either of these, but any donation to this ministry is greatly appreciated.
–John N. Clayton © 2017