Wednesday, 23 April 2014

No Bad Design in the Human Eye, Expert Says

Image courtesy of Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).




Joel Kontinen

Richard Dawkins has used the inverted retina argument in an attempt to say that an intelligent creator could not have designed the human eye.

Poor design is a favourite argument but it is nevertheless a bad argument.

Recently, Creation Ministries International released a YouTube video clip that looks at it and finds it wanting:

This claim doesn't make sense, after all, octopus retinas are wired in the supposedly correct way but their sight is poor compared to ours.

Ophthalmologist Dr Peter Gurney has shown there are good reasons our eyes are wired the way they are. In particular, it allows our photoreceptors to be in close contact with two special tissues necessary for regenerating the photoreceptors and absorbing excess heat. But these tissues are both opaque, so if our retinas were wired the other way you'd be trying to look through two opaque surfaces, which means you'd see nothing
.”

The video also points out that eagles “have the same wiring as us and they are renowned for their eagle eyes.”








Monday, 21 April 2014

Have They Found the Fountains of the Great Deep Mentioned in Genesis?

Genesis mentioned it first: there are massive amounts of water beneath Earth's surface that made it necessary for Noah to build a huge ark.




Joel Kontinen


The book of Genesis speaks about the Fountains of the Great Deep that in Noah’s day contributed towards the global flood that destroyed the early Earth. (The NIV calls them the springs of the great deep.)

It now seems that a recent discovery confirms that there is in fact much water under us. A recent paper in Nature by Professor Graham Pearson and colleagues at the University of Alberta, Canada, found evidence of “massive amounts” of subterranean water.

What they actually found was ringwoodite, a mineral containing a “significant amount of water -- 1.5 per cent of its weight”:

The first terrestrial discovery of ringwoodite confirms the presence of massive amounts of water 400 to 700 kilometers beneath Earth's surface. Ringwoodite is a form of the mineral peridot, believed to exist in large quantities under high pressures in the transition zone. Ringwoodite has been found in meteorites but, until now, no terrestrial sample has ever been unearthed because scientists haven't been able to conduct fieldwork at extreme depths.”

Seen from a Genesis perspective, the discovery is interesting. Moses was not writing fiction when he mentioned the Fountains of the Great Deep that ushered in the global flood in Noah’s day.

Source:

Water-rich gem points to vast 'oceans' beneath Earth's surface, study suggests. Science Daily. March 12, 2014.



Saturday, 19 April 2014

New Exoplanet Kepler-186f Is Life Friendly?

Kepler-186f, Images courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech.






Joel Kontinen

Kepler-186f, a star orbiting a red dwarf star some 500 light years from us is the latest exoplanet that might just about have liquid water. And, in a Darwinian scenario, water almost always means that there might be life.

The planet is comfortably within the star’s habitable zone.

What is often overlooked is that Venus and Mars also orbit the Sun in the habitable zone, so any declaration of the certainty of alien life might be a bit premature, especially as red dwarfs – unlike our sun – are known to be somewhat unstable.

Writing in Answers magazine, astronomer Danny Faulkner states:

Red and orange stars produce dangerous magnetic activity. Since these stars are cooler than the sun, habitable planets must orbit more closely – and face greater harm. Another potential problem is insufficient radiation to support photosynthesis.”

New Scientist likewise acknowledges some of the difficulties:

Red dwarf stars are highly active, producing frequent flares and strong winds of radiation. And as Kepler-186f is slightly larger than Earth, if it has a similar internal structure, it would support a stronger magnetic field. That would spark interactions between any potential atmosphere and stellar radiation that could create frequent and spectacular auroras visible from large regions of the planet.”

However, spectacular auroras are not what life would first and foremost need. Many astronomers know that in contrast to Earth, exoplanets tend to be more or less weird, and some will admit that contrary to evolutionary expectations, alien life might not even exist.

Among the trillions of stars, there’s no place like home.

Sources:

Faulkner, Danny. 2014. Not just another star. Answers 9 (1): 66–67.

Grossman, Lisa. 2014, Smallest life-friendly exoplanet may be lit by auroras. New Scientist (17 April).





Thursday, 17 April 2014

Jesus: Real History, Real Resurrection and Tall Conspiracy Theories

The empty tomb testifies of Jesus’ resurrection. Image courtesy of Wikipedia (GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2).



Joel Kontinen


When Jesus’ tomb was empty and the early disciples went to tell others of the unexpected news,

some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. (Matthew 28: 11–15, NKJV.)

A soldier caught sleeping while he was supposed to do guard duty would have been executed, so the conspiracy theory was by no means credible.

It was a desperate attempt to explain away the obvious, i.e., that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead.

Moreover, if He had truly risen, He had to be God.

Throughout the centuries, sceptics have invented many excuses for not taking the eyewitness accounts in the gospels as real history.

But these attempts (for instance, Mistaken Identity, Swoon Theory, Body Moved, Visions, Annihilation) fail to account for the consequences of the resurrection.

Before the resurrection, the disciples were hiding behind locked doors. Visions or make-belief could not transform them into bold witnesses who “turned the world upside down”. Even sceptics like Paul and Jesus’ brother James joined their ranks.

Rejecting Jesus’ resurrection amounts to denying history.

Source:


Chaffey, Tim. 2014. Resurrection—No Doubt About It . Answers 9 (2). Answers in Genesis (March 11).






Tuesday, 15 April 2014

There's No Evidence for God, Sceptic Claims – But Stumbles with Facts

El Greco: Christ carrying His cross (1580). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen



Easter is a time that sceptics don’t like. It reminds them of one of the greatest miracles of all time. The Last Adam, God who had become a man, died for the sins of the first Adam and entire humankind.

Several centuries before His incarnation, the Old Testament prophets had predicted many fine details of His life, for instance, His mother’s virginity, His birthplace (Bethlehem), the manner of His death (crucifixion) and even burial (in a rich man’s tomb), accurately.

However, in a fact-free article, John Prytz ignores this evidence, claiming:

There's no evidence for the existence of God, yet there is massive amounts of evidence for the reality of the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and especially Santa Claus. But we know that the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and especially Santa Claus are fictitious or mythological and have no basis in reality.”

Mr. Prytz assumes that this proves that God does not exist. In effect, he seems to believe that the universe made itself from nothing for no reason. Denying history, he chooses to take an outdated Darwinian approach to religion (i.e., monotheism evolved from polytheism).

Fortunately, disbelief in God does not make Him non-existent. Easter reminds us that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and He lives.

Source

Prytz, John. 2014. In Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy And The Easter Bunny We Trust. Ezine Articles (April 4).



Sunday, 13 April 2014

Amazing Technology in Fruit Flies

Fruit flies (Drosophila hydei) are more than just pests.



Joel Kontinen

Some see fruit flies (Drosophila hydei) as pests that spread diseases and cause financial losses for farmers. Some others see them as poster boys for Darwinian evolution.

However, researchers have seen that the mutations they have caused have merely reduced the flies’ fitness. The effect has been diametrically opposite of what evolution would need. Mutants, i.e., damaged fruit flies, could never survive outside the laboratory.

But there is more to fruit flies. They are astonishingly clever dodgers. According to a recent article on the New Scientist website,

We all know how hard it can be to swat flies, but nobody knew how they pull off their incredible evasive manoeuvres. Now high-speed photography reveals that flies steer like helicopters, despite not having rotors

Researchers built a tiny winged robot to mimic the flies’ manoeuvres:

Using cameras operating at 7500 frames a second, plus a winged robot, Florien Moirés of the University of Washington in Seattle and his colleagues studied how flies respond to approaching threats. First they presented fruit flies (Drosophilae hidey) with an expanding dark circle on a screen, simulating a looming predator. The flies made rapid banked turns with just a few wingbeats


Once again, researchers are using biomimicry or copying an intelligent solution they see in nature. Inspired by the dragonfly’s skills they have built tiny flying robots, and they have copied the design found in gecko feet to build a tiny robot that could walk up on all kinds of surfaces.

Who, we might ask, initially designed these intelligent solutions?

God did.

Source:

Osborne, Samuel. 2014. Flies steer like mini-helicopters to avoid attackers. New Scientist (10 April).



Friday, 11 April 2014

Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible

Sargon II (right) is one of the Old Testament characters confirmed by archaeology. Image courtesy of Jastrow, Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

Sceptics tend to claim that the Bible is not based on real history. However, ancient inscriptions tell a very different story.

Just a few years ago, sceptics doubted the existence of King David, for instance. They cannot honestly do so any longer after the discovery of a 9th century B.C. inscription with the text House of David . It was found in Tel Dan in northern Galilee.

In addition to kings, archaeological remains also mention high priests, a scribe and even minor officials such as Nebo-sarsekim (Jeremiah 39:3).

The March/April issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) has an article entitled Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. Written by Lawrence Mykytiuk, an associate professor at Purdue University, the article discusses – and lists – only those characters whose existence has been confirmed by authentic inscriptions.

The article is somewhat misleading, as it only deals with Old Testament people. If it had included New Testament characters as well, the list would have been a lot longer.

Nevertheless, it emphasises that the Bible is based on real history. It describes the lives of real people, who lived at particular places at a particular time in history.

In other words, it is exactly that what we would expect. After all, God’s Word is truth. But it is more than that – it indicates the way to salvation.

Source:

Mykytiuk, Lawrence. 2014. Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review 40 (2): 42–50, 68.