Dinosaur Pseudoscience

Dinosaur Pseudoscience
One of the greatest challenges that this ministry faces is the bad science and false claims that are generated by creationists associated with various denominational groups. One of the challenges relates to dinosaur pseudoscience. History professor Ronald Numbers has shown that over 90% of creationist materials presented in this country are produced by dispensational and millennial groups who start with their denominational doctrines and try to shoe-horn science into their belief system. (Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists, Harvard University Press, 2006.) We prefer to take the Bible literally.

Atheists and secular groups use the bad science involved to discredit the existence of God and the Bible as His word. The most basic problem presented by these creationist groups is that in spite of their claims, they do not take the Bible literally. By cherry-picking biblical statements, they attempt to make the Bible give a date to every event in the history of the Earth. They suggest that all 26-million different forms of life on the Earth today were present on the day of creation which they claim was roughly 6,000 years ago.

The fact is that the Hebrew words in Genesis were descriptions of animals that Moses knew and that his contemporaries had domesticated. Bacteria, viruses, platypuses, flightless birds, and countless sea creatures were not what Moses was referring to, and not what his readers would have understood him to be describing. For more on this go to doesgodexist.org and read the booklet titled God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word.

Perhaps the best example of creationist pseudoscience is their effort to explain the dinosaurs. We need to understand that none of the words used in Genesis 1 could reasonably be applied to dinosaurs. Creationists try to tell us there is scientific evidence that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time. They point to a painting by the Kuku Yalanji tribe of Queensland, Australia, which shows an animal that looks like a plesiosaur. It turns out that the tribesman actually copied a painting from a children’s book called The Giant Golden Book of Dinosaurs published in 1960.

Another example of this kind of bad science is the claim that a Japanese fishing boat named the Zuiyo-Maru snagged a carcass of a dead plesiosaur in 1977. It was badly decomposed, and research has since shown that it was the carcass of a basking shark.

To say that humans and dinosaurs lived together defies many scientific facts and brings ridicule on faith in God. Perhaps the most laughable suggestion is to insist that there were fire-breathing dinosaurs. We will deal with that bit of dinosaur pseudoscience tomorrow.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Babies and Pain–A New Study

Babies and Pain
One of the areas of medicine that seems to be neglected is pain management. That is true of all ages, but one of the least studied age groups for investigating the experience of pain is what infants experience before, during, and after birth. There are special challenges when studying babies and pain.

Pain assessment in babies is difficult because they don’t talk and it is difficult to know whether they are in pain or whether their crying is due to something else. The use of facial expressions or body jerking or wiggling is likely to be very misleading. The May 3 issue of Science Translational Medicine carried a report on the use of electroencephalography (or EEG). Doctors used a special device called a Cz electrode to pick up brain waves when the baby experienced a painful event such as having its heel lanced to draw blood. The electroencephalogram showed a neural spike immediately after having the poke to the heel.

Babies born prematurely between 34 and 36 weeks of gestation show the same kind of responses to pain. Not all babies have exactly the same response, but there is enough consistency to believe that the babies do in fact sense pain. The babies did not show the same response to loud noises, flashing lights, or non-painful touches.

This research suggests a number of things. Procedures done on babies that could cause pain in an adult seem to be very likely to cause pain in a baby. The use of painkillers and the effect of medical treatment on the brain of a small child needs to be more carefully studied. Medical studies of babies and pain must proceed with care.

The question of whether abortion causes pain in the baby must be considered. The answer seems to be that babies do sense pain and that is also true of premature babies. Women who are considering medical procedures on their babies and especially abortion need to know what the evidence shows.
Reference: Science News, June 10, 2017, page 8.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Galactic Collision Is Coming!

Andromeda Galaxy on Galactic Collision Course
Andromeda Galaxy

A skeptic remarked to me, “If a wise God created the universe, it would have been designed better. Our Milky Way galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy are on a galactic collision course. They are going to smash into each other and tear each other apart. That’s the end of life on Earth. You’re God must not be very smart.” What could I say? Yes, it’s true that astronomers have determined that there will be a galactic collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies resulting in the destruction of both. But there is more to the story.

Recently I read an article about scientists who are studying two black holes that appear to be orbiting each other 750 million light-years from Earth. The scientists are watching them to see what will happen when two black holes collide as they spin into each other. The reason for the scientists’ curiosity is they want to know what will happen when the black holes in the center of the Milky Way and Andromeda come together. (It seems that most galaxies have black holes in their center.) Of course, the center of the galaxies will not meet until long after the outer spirals have destroyed each other, and Earth as well. Still, the scientists want to know what will happen when black holes collide. Will they swallow each other and become a super-super-massive black hole? Will they disappear? Who knows?

The scientists have been watching those distant orbiting black holes for about 12 years now. How much longer will they have to wait to find the answer? They estimate that those black holes orbit each other every 24,000 years. How many orbits will it take for them to converge in a catastrophic explosion of energy? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. The bottom line is that it’s going to take a lot longer than 12 years, or even 12 hundred, or 12 thousand, or maybe even 12 million. The scientists working on the project will not be around to learn the answer.

Let’s get back to the expected Milky Way-Andromeda catastrophy. When will it happen? Oh, let’s say in a billion years or so. We have many more important things to worry about than the coming galactic train-wreck. So why was the skeptic saying that there can’t be an all-wise, loving, and powerful God because our two galaxies may be destroyed in a billion years? That’s a very weak excuse for not believing in God. The point is that God never intended for this universe and our planet to last forever. He even told us so. (See 2 Peter 3:10-12.) God had a specific plan in mind to give us a chance to learn to love and serve him and to grow toward becoming the people he called us to be. There is a much better universe coming. (You can read about it in Revelation 21.) There is no need to worry about a galactic collision. In the new universe: There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
–Roland Earnst © 2017

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

Why Birds Stand on One Leg

Why birds stand on one leg
Have you ever asked why birds stand on one leg? We live on a river that has a massive number of ducks in it. When the ducks are resting on the edge of the river, they generally stand on one leg. When guests visit us, they want to know why. Ducks are not the only birds that stand and even sleep on one leg. Geese and Flamingos do the same thing.

The answer to why birds stand on one leg seems to be a simple matter of the application of basic physics. For an object to be stable, its center of gravity has to be directly above the point of support. In my basic physics classes, we have some demonstrations of that principle. A spinning bicycle wheel will do strange things if its pivot point is not under the center of gravity. A top that is not symmetrical will invert when spun with its round side in touch with the table. There are toys that appear to be suspended in space, but in reality, their center of gravity is located at one end which makes it look odd when it is on the edge of a table.

When you stand on two legs, your center of gravity is somewhere between the legs. That may sound stable, but in reality, it isn’t. When you stand, you waver as your body senses that any movement you make throws you off balance. There is a constant muscular effort that counteracts this movement. Just standing for a long time can be fatiguing because a lot of energy is expended to counteract this wavering.

Recent studies with flamingos show that when they stand on one leg, the center of gravity falls directly over the point that touches the ground. Standing on one leg, the bird’s body is quiescent. When the bird is on two legs, there is more muscle movement and the center of pressure on the foot touching the ground changes. If you look carefully at a duck standing on one leg, you will see that it stands a little lopsided, so the mass is completely above the point of support. In addition to energy conservation, standing on one leg allows birds to withstand cold temperatures by keeping one leg close to the body. So thermoregulation is also involved in this odd-looking design.

So if you have ever asked why birds stand on one leg, remember this. Anytime we see something in nature that we don’t understand; it is almost 100% sure that there is a design feature involved. What the animal is doing may look strange, but it has at least one significant function. Truly we can “Know there is a God through the things He has made” (Romans 1:18-20).
Data from Science News, June 24, 2017, page 15.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Climate Change and Evidence

Climate Change
This ministry is all about evidence. Science is knowledge, and that means evidence. We can all make our own interpretation of the evidence, but the evidence remains factual and is real science. There are people on all sides of the issue of climate change voicing opinions as facts. Christians should be concerned about the well-being of our fellow humans, and we should not be exploiters and abusers of what God has created.

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he said to avoid “oppositions of science falsely so called”(1 Timothy 6:20). Any opposition to the Bible or to belief in God will be false science because it will be opinion and not science.

Since 1873, when record keeping began, the average temperature of the planet has been 57 degrees Fahrenheit. That is an average, so in some places like the poles, it was much colder and in places like the tropical deserts it was much hotter. The last decade in which the average global temperature was colder than 57 degrees was the 1970s. In the 40 years since that time, the average temperatures have been over 57 degrees. In 2016 the average was the highest ever recorded. That number was only 1.69 degrees higher, but that is a significant amount of change.

We can argue about the cause, whether we can do anything about it, and whether humans are responsible. All of that is opinion, and much of it is based on false science–people stating opinion as fact. The fossil record shows clearly that Earth has had periods that were much hotter than today and periods that were much colder. Climate change is an issue to be concerned about politically, economically, and socially. No matter what your opinion, remember to examine the facts and base your actions on the facts, not on false science.
Reference: Popular Science July/August 2017, page 9.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

“Born This Way”–Is It True?

Born This Way Sign
The theme of many gay pride parades has been “born this way,” and the question science has been wrestling with for at least 50 years is whether that is true. Is being “gay” not something that can be chosen or changed? Rebecca Jordan-Young, a sociomedical scientist, has written a book titled Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences. The book reviews hundreds of scientific studies on sex and the brain conducted over the last 13 years. Her conclusion is that biology matters, but it is not the whole story.

The Bible makes it clear that God created man and woman with purpose and with definite roles. Romans 1:24-27 indicates that it was humans who changed “the natural use into that which is against nature” (verse 26). People have misused just about everything God has given us.

Dr. Sari van Anders at the University of Michigan says, “The science of whether sexual orientation is biological is pretty sparse and full of disparate, mixed, and unreplicated findings.” The data shows that there is no “gay gene” that causes a person to be a homosexual. A combination of genetic characteristics, the hormone pollution in our environment, and the effects produced by experiences in early childhood are all part of our sexual orientation and how we act on it. We are not all born with the same genetic factors, we don’t all have the same libido, and we have not had the same experiences in our first twelve years of life. There is much more to it than just being “born this way.”

We would add that choosing to live a life that blesses others according to the teachings of Christ will lead us to use all God has given us in unselfish, constructive ways. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:7-9 that he would prefer that all men would have the ability to live single as he was living, but that is “better to marry than to burn with passion.” He referred to his own ability of celibacy as a “gift of God.” Using our gifts in selfish, destructive ways is strongly condemned by God. Using our gifts to bless others as Paul did is what we are all called to do.
Data from USA Today 6/20/17 B1&2
–John N. Clayton © 2017

A Quiet Neighborhood is a Good Neighborhood

Beyond the Quiet Neighborhood
At a June 7 meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Benjamin Hoscheit presented information gained from studying 120,000 galaxies. The study agreed with earlier findings that our Milky Way galaxy is located in the largest cosmic void that we can observe. When scientists look one billion light-years out into the universe, they find that the cosmic density becomes much greater. The conclusion they have reached is that the Milky Way is in a relatively open area of space about two billion light-years across. We live in a quiet neighborhood.

The computer image from the Millennium Simulation Project illustrates the dense filaments of dark matter stretching through space. Galaxies are mostly clumped along the filaments. The Milky Way resides in one of the voids between those strands. What are the implications of that? Galaxies tend to be in clusters, and our cluster is called the Local Group. A typical galaxy cluster will have 10,000 galaxies close together. (Close by cosmic standards.) The Local Group has only forty galaxies, and all of them are dwarf galaxies except the Milky Way and Andromeda which are medium-sized. If there were large galaxies close to us, their gravity could distort the spiral structure of the Milky Way making advanced life on Earth impossible.

The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy—the only kind of galaxy capable of supporting advanced life. Star formation drives the spiral motion. Star formation requires the infusion of gas and dust which the small galaxies provide. Clusters of galaxies reside inside superclusters. Our Local Group cluster is on the outer fringe of the Virgo supercluster. If it were near the center of Virgo, the massive clusters there would absorb the Local Group and make life impossible. Also, our solar system is located in the best position within our galaxy at about two-thirds of the distance from the center. In the center of the Milky Way (and most galaxies), there is a massive black hole that would swallow our solar system if we were anywhere near it. If we were farther out in the spiral, the solar system would be subject to massive instability, again making life impossible.

Of course, Earth is also located in the solar habitable zone where we are not too close or too far from the Sun. One final thing to note is that in this cosmic void and the position in our galaxy, we are at the optimum location for observing all of the things I mentioned. We have an excellent view of the universe. We are in more than a quiet neighborhood. We are in the “Goldilocks Zone” where everything is “just right.”

You could say that we got lucky and all of these things, and many others, are merely freak accidents. We believe that God had a reason for putting us where we are, and has given us a purpose for being here.
–Roland Earnst © 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

ACLU Attacks Christian Values

Protest ACLU Suit of Teachers for Praying
Protest ACLU Suit of Teachers for Praying

The stated purpose of the American Civil Liberties Union is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Founded in 1920, the ACLU was useful in racial conflicts and in situations where women were being abused. In recent years the leadership has veered off to become an atheist attack group. The ACLU has chosen almost exclusively to attack institutions and individuals attempting to have and promote moral values and individual rights compatible with Christian values.

In Missouri recently the ACLU settled with a school district that was attempting to put internet filtering software on their school computers to prevent children from accessing pornography. The school had to remove the filter. A major suit has been filed against Catholic hospital systems which do not want to participate in abortions.

Another situation involves Cynthia and Robert Gifford a couple who own a farm in New York called Liberty Ridge Farm. The Giffords host and coordinate weddings in their backyard. When they chose not to host a wedding they considered immoral; the ACLU sued them. The ACLU persuaded the New York State Division of Human Rights to fine the Giffords $10,000. It also ordered them and their employees to attend “re-education classes.”

The plaintiffs in these cases are defended by an organization called The Alliance Defending Freedom. There are many such cases listed on their website. If you are interested in this subject, you can find them at http://adflegal.org/.
–John N. Clayton © 2017