Thursday, 8 December 2016

New Scientist: Thank Evolution for Fear


Inherited fear? Darwinians think so.



Joel Kontinen

Darwinists are fond of thanking evolution for all kinds of everything.
Often, their explanations are more or less bizarre – often more –, as in social living shrinks our brains.”

Clever attempt, but there’s no evidence.

Professor Philip Skell famously wrote that the Darwinian explanation tends to be “so supple that it can explain any behaviour.”

A recent article in New Scientist credited evolution for our sense of fear:

Evolution has given us an inbuilt fear factory. But by engaging a different way of thinking we can stop panicking and weigh up the real risks.”

The magazine makes a distinction between two kinds of approaches to fear that are known as system 1 and system 2 thinking:

System 1 is the product of evolved biases shaped over thousands of years.”

It quotes author Dan Gardner, who brings up the standard Darwinian explanation:

If you saw a shadow in the grass and it was a lion and you lived to tell the tale, you’d make sure to run the next time you saw a shadow in the grass.”

Way back in 2008, TIME magazine used slightly different words for the same thing: “Fear is … embedded by evolution in our lizard brain.”

There is no evidence that any of us ever had a lizard brain. A human being, like all other creatures, is designed as a whole.

What is more, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as Psalm 139: 14 puts it.

Source:

Adee, Sally. 2016. Super-you: Train your brain to beat the inbuilt fear factory. New Scientist (7 December).

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Wet Sahara: New Evidence for Noah’s Flood?


It doesn’t look wet any more. Image courtesy of GFDL, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).



Joel Kontinen

The greatest climate change of all time occurred some 4,500 years ago, when an enormous flood swept away the world that once was.

The cataclysm in Noah’s day was probably followed by the ice age.

While glaciers covered the areas we now know as Canada and northern Europe, it is reasonable to assume that even regions now covered by sand had a much moister climate.

A recent study suggests that this indeed was the case. While the date it gives is off by 2,000 years or so, the findings as such seem to corroborate the history written in Genesis. An article in Science Daily says:

As little as 6,000 years ago, the vast Sahara Desert was covered in grassland that received plenty of rainfall, but shifts in the world's weather patterns abruptly transformed the vegetated region into some of the driest land on Earth. A Texas A&M university researcher is trying to uncover the clues responsible for this enormous climate transformation -- and the findings could lead to better rainfall predictions worldwide.”

The researchers attempted to explain the current aridness of Sahara by invoking the Hadley circulation:

The Hadley circulation is a tropical atmospheric circulation that rises near the equator. It is linked to the subtropical trade winds, tropical rainbelts, and affects the position of severe storms, hurricanes, and the jet stream. Where it descends in the subtropics, it can create desert-like conditions.”

They don’t seem to know why the tropical rain belt could have moved so far towards the north.

It seems that geologists and other scientists can thank – or blame – Charles Lyell for this uncertainty. Lyell, who popularised uniformitarism, sought to free geology from Moses (i.e. the biblical flood).

While catastrophism has made a comeback, most researchers still detest the idea of a year-long global flood.

However, only a blind man would fail to see the mountains of evidence Noah’s Flood left all over the globe, in places like Antarctica, Bolivia, Norway , Greenland, Kenya and Australia.

And a wetter climate is not the only remainder of Noah’s Flood in Sahara; an enormous natural archway in Chad is yet another monument left by the huge global cataclysm.

Source:

Texas A&M University. 2016. 6,000 years ago the Sahara Desert was tropical, so what happened? Science Daily (30 November).



Monday, 5 December 2016

Lucy Was a Tree Climber, New Research Suggests


Lucy’s bones. The leg bones are still missing, so theories of how our assumed grandmother walked are not based on facts.




Joel Kontinen

Lucy’s upper limbs resembled those of modern chimps. This suggests that our assumed grandmother Australopithecus afarensis, as she is more formally known, spent a lot of her time in trees.

This is the take-away message from a recent study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Texas at Austin.

The research, based on CT scan images of Lucy’s bones, was published in the journal PLOS ONE. Science Daily summarizes the findings:

Analysis of the partial fossilized skeleton, the investigators say, shows that Lucy's upper limbs were heavily built, similar to champion tree-climbing chimpanzees, supporting the idea that she spent time climbing and used her arms to pull herself up.”

However, when it comes to Lucy’s feet, bias creeps in, as it tends to do in research on our assumed ancestors:

In addition, they say, the fact that her foot was better adapted for bipedal locomotion (upright walking) than grasping may mean that climbing placed additional emphasis on Lucy's ability to pull up with her arms and resulted in more heavily built upper limb bones.”

This assumption is based on evidence that is still missing. The foot bones have not been found. But the Laetoli footprints have prompted some evolutionists to assume that Lucy walked on two feet, just like us.

While the Laetoli footprints have been dated a mere “400,000 years” or so older than Lucy, there is a huge logical gap between her and the footprints.

They look exactly like human footprints. No tree dwelling ape could possibly have made them.

Moreover, Lucy’s bones were found in the Afar region in northern Ethiopia. Laetoli is in Tanzania. The distance separating them is roughly a thousand kilometres (600 miles), as Kenya happens to separate the two East African countries.

In other words, there is no reason to believe that Lucy’s kin made those marks.

But perhaps it’s best to let Science Daily continue:

Exactly how much time Lucy spent in the trees is difficult to determine, the research team says, but another recent study suggests Lucy died from a fall out of a tall tree. This new study adds to evidence that she may have nested in trees at night to avoid predators, the authors say. An eight-hour slumber would mean she spent one-third of her time up in the trees, and if she also occasionally foraged there, the total percentage of time spent above ground would be even greater.”

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: Lucy was a tree-dwelling ape.

Source:

Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2016. Human ancestor 'Lucy' was a tree climber, new evidence suggests. Science Daily (30 November).

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Alien Life Floating on Dwarf Stars - Science or Science Fiction?



Some brown dwarfs might not look very brown. Image courtesy of R. Hurt/NASA, public domain.



Joel Kontinen

Has the quest for alien life become an obsession for some astronomers?

It seems so. They have even found worlds that might not exist.

Like the late Carl Sagan, they seem to detest the notion that Earth could be unique.

Life flourishes in seemingly impossible conditions on our planet, so why would it not do so on other worlds as well?

This time they have set their hopes on brown dwarf stars. An article in Science says:

There’s an abundant new swath of cosmic real estate that life could call home—and the views would be spectacular. Floating out by themselves in the Milky Way galaxy are perhaps a billion cold brown dwarfs, objects many times as massive as Jupiter but not big enough to ignite as a star. According to a new study, layers of their upper atmospheres sit at temperatures and pressures resembling those on Earth, and could host microbes that surf on thermal updrafts.”

Naturalism and wishful thinking seem to go hand in hand:

The idea expands the concept of a habitable zone to include a vast population of worlds that had previously gone unconsidered. ‘You don’t necessarily need to have a terrestrial planet with a surface,’ says Jack Yates, a planetary scientist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, who led the study.”

The next step is a digression into science fiction: Inspired by Carl Sagan’s idea of an ecosystem in Jupiter’s atmosphere, they envision microbes floating around in hydrogen gas.

The article mentions that the idea is speculative. and that certainly is no understatement. No form of life can float around anywhere if it does not come into existence first.

And life, as we know, only comes from life.

Source:

Sokol, Joshua, 2016 Alien life could thrive in the clouds of failed stars. Science (2 December).


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Darwin Was Wrong: There’s No Tree of Life

This Victorian gentleman was wrong.



Joel Kontinen

Once upon a time, the tree of life was a major albeit somewhat controversial fact of evolution. Now it is no more.

Even secular researchers have pointed out that Darwin was wrong and that the tree has fallen down.

New Scientist had its Darwin was Wrong cover story in 2009 and since then studies have shown that he was indeed mistaken.

The latest instalment can be seen in the journal Science. Elizabeth Pennisi looks at hybrids and concludes that they spell disaster for Darwin’s tree:

In 2010 a comparison between a Neandertal genome and genomes from people today turned up evidence of ancient liaisons, a discovery that belied the common idea that animal species can't hybridize or, if they do, will produce infertile offspring—think mules."

But this was simply wrong:

"Such reproductive isolation is part of the classic definition of a species. This discovery brought credence to other work in plants, Darwin's finches in the Galápagos Islands, tropical butterflies, mosquitoes, and a few other animals showing that hybridization was not just common, but also important in shaping evolution. The techniques that revealed the Neandertal and Denisovan legacy in our own genome are now making it possible to peer into the genomic histories of many organisms to check for interbreeding. As more examples are discovered, researchers are questioning the definition of species and rethinking whether the tree of life is really a 'net' of life.”

The term 'species' is anything but an accurate description of a particular type of organism. The great number of hybrids such as ligers, zonkeys, wholpins, geeps, grolars and leopons, supports the view that the biblical concept ‘kind’ differs considerably from the biological term ‘species’, being more inclusive.

According to the biblical model, Neanderthals, Denisovans and modern humans form a single biblical ‘kind’.

Likewise, at best, the distinction between the various varieties of Darwin’s finches is vague.

Hybrids challenge the very concept of evolution. No new genetic information is added, but they merely share pre-existing information. Often, they display a loss of information.

Some microbes also defy Darwinian orthodoxy by using horizontal gene transfer (HGT) to share genetic traits.

Creationists have consistently assumed that the very idea of a tree was suspect. Way back in 2000, Dr. Pierre Jerlström had an article in the Journal of Creation entitled 'Is the evolutionary tree turning into a creationist orchard?'

Now it seems that they have been right all along and evolutionists have been wrong since Darwin’s day.

Sources:

Jerström, Pierre. 2000. Is the evolutionary tree turning into a creationist orchard? Journal of Creation 14(2), 11–13.

Pennisi, Elizabeth. 2016. Shaking up the Tree of Life. Science 354 (6314), 817 – 821.



Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Hercules Crab Defies Darwinian Story


Coconut crabs. Image courtesy of Brocken Inaglory Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

The coconut crab (Birgus latro) can weigh up to 4 kilograms. It has enormous claws with which it can pick up objects that are seven times heavier that it is.

Recently, scientists measured the strength of this crab. While humans have a grip strength of 300 newtons on average, a coconut crab weighing 2 kilograms almost reached 1800 newtons. Hence, the researchers suggested that a fully-grown coconut crab “could thus be expected to exert a crushing force of more than 3000 newtons,” New Scientist says.

While the Darwinian explanation for the crab’s Hercules-like grip invokes dietary demands, just how many crabs passed away before evolution’s blind watchmaker finally thought of a solution and gave the poor crab a chance to have a coconut for lunch?

The mantis shrimp is another Hercules: it beats airplane frames in strength.

Creatures like these challenge evolutionary explanations. They strongly suggest that teleology or goal-orientation was involved. This happens to be Darwinian heresy.

Design is so evident everywhere that it is actually difficult to to avoid goal-orientation even in evolutionary stories.

Source:

Klein, Alice. 2016. Coconut crab’s bone-crushing grip is 10 times stronger than ours. New Scientist (23 November ).

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Fidel Castro: Revolutionary Ideas Gone Wrong


Fidel Castro in 1978. Image courtesy of Marcelo Montecino, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).




Joel Kontinen

While Fidel Castro, who recently died at the age of 90, was an atheist, he obviously respected the teachings and deeds of Jesus Christ, even claiming that Jesus was a communist.

Why?

Jesus fed 5,000 men and asked a rich man to give his wealth to the poor.

When it comes to equality, communism shared some of the values of early Christianity, in principle, that is.

But Comrade Castro did not like all the teachings of the Bible. Jesus never taught that the Kingdom of God should be built by a sword (or an AK-47).

Castro's revolution led to wars in several Latin American and African countries, with millions of casualties and suffering for countless more people.

Sandinistas, Sendero Luminoso, FARC, and the anything but civil wars in Angola and Mozambique were all inspired by the Cuban revolutionary, and they brought death, suffering and misery to millions.

All attempts to build a secular paradise on Earth have failed miserably. While Castro might have succeeded in doing some good things (along with the bad), he definitely did not make the world a better place for most people within his sphere of influence.

In other words, Castro was a failed Messiah.

Only one Messiah ever succeeded.

And instead of taking others' lives, He chose to give His own, because the people He created had turned away from Him and He sought to bring them back.

It was the sin of the first humans that brought bad things into the world.

Jesus came to undo the damage. That is the real reason for the Christmas season.