Monday, 27 April 2015

New Darwinian Story Fails to Explain Language Evolution

A new Darwinian attempt at explaining the origin of language features marmosets. Image courtesy of Carmem A. Busko, Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

For Darwinists committed to explaining everything with natural /materialistic processes, the origin of an immaterial skill, such as language, is an enigma.

Hypotheses attempting to account for how speaking originated have without exception turned out to be failures. Since the days of Darwin, the very idea has been a “horrid doubt.”

Many researchers have admitted that they don’t have a clue as to how language could have evolved. It remains a mystery. Some have even suggested that humans may be programmed to learn language.

However, from time to time, Darwinian stories raise their heads. A recent example features marmoset communication. A brief ScienceShot article says:

Even though the marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) don’t have language, they do exchange calls. And the discovery that a young marmoset (as in the photo above) learns to wait for another marmoset to finish its call before uttering its own sound may help us better understand the origins of human language, say scientists online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. No primate, other than humans, is a vocal learner, with the ability to hear a sound and imitate it—a talent considered essential to speech. But the marmoset researchers say that primates still exchange calls in a manner reminiscent of having a conversation because they wait for another to finish calling before vocalizing—and that this ability is often overlooked in discussions about the evolution of language.”

Could this shed light on how the first humans learned to communicate through the spoken word? No. Language is an immaterial phenomenon. It cannot be explained by storytelling that relies solely on material processes.


Source:

Morell, Virginia. 2015. Marmoset 'conversations' may give clues to evolution of human language. ScienceShot (21 April).

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Turkish Christians Travel to Armenia to Ask Forgiveness for Genocide


The Cross unites people who once were hostile to each other.



Joel Kontinen

1915 saw the death throes of the Ottoman Empire. But before its demise, Turkish forces had caused the death of over a million Armenians, possible as many as 1.5 million.

Turkish authorities have vehemently disputed these figures and claimed that both Turks and Armenians suffered during World War I, which, of course, is technically correct.

Armenians have wanted revenge, and in the 1970s and 1980s some groups did exactly that by targeting and killing Turkish diplomats.

But now something very unexpected has happened: In early April, a group of over twenty Turkish Christians travelled to Yerevan, “to apologize for what our ancestors did, to ask for your forgiveness” as their spokesmen put it.

An Armenian TV news channel reported on the event. According to WorldWatch Monitor: “Gathered around the monument’s eternal flame, the more than twenty Turkish citizens spoke out simply, and repeatedly: ‘We plead with you, if you can, to forgive us and the crimes of our forefathers.’

Significantly, the Turks were joined by a number of local Armenian Christians who formed a huge circle, holding hands together around the memorial as they prayed aloud in Turkish and Armenian for their nations and peoples
.”

While many Christians might be satisfied with merely singing about “the wonder-working pow’r in the blood of the Lamb,” these Turks and Armenians actually put Jesus’ teaching into effect:

Asked what the reconciliation effort has really accomplished, one Turkish pastor said simply: “We want our fellow citizens, Turks and Armenians alike, to ask us: ‘What kind of God can bring two enemies together like this?’

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the Apostle Paul writes that the Gospel is the power of God. He taught us to follow the example of Jesus, who through His humility and obedience did far more good than all the armies that have ever marched on Earth or all the teachers who have taught about goodness.

Earlier this spring, a 10-year old Iraqi Christian girl also followed Jesus’ teachings, saying she had forgiven her persecutors – the ISIS forces that drove her into exile.

The Gospel teaches us that light always overcomes darkness, and love overcomes hatred.

The Good Lord is above all a God of love who was willing to forgive His tormentors.


Source:

Baker, Barbara G. 2015. Overcoming a century of pain. WorldWatch Monitor (24 April).




Thursday, 23 April 2015

Meteor Caused St. Paul’s Conversion, Sceptic Claims

The Chelyabinsk meteorite shower, February 15, 2013. Image courtesy of Aleksandr Ivanov, via Wikipedia.


Joel Kontinen

One of the surest signs of approaching Easter (or Christmas or some other Christian feast) is an attempt by sceptics to explain away a major biblical event.

Past stories have featured Jesus walking on an ice floe, the plagues in Egypt as natural catastrophes, Moses seeing hallucinations, the Jesus’ family tomb fiasco, and, of course, various attempts to account for the empty tomb without a resurrection.

The common denominator in all of these stories is that they are driven by a worldview that does not accept the supernatural dimension. Everything has to be explained by natural causes, regardless of how unbelievable or awkward the outcome becomes.

The latest episode features St. Paul and a falling meteor. According to New Scientist:

William Hartmann, co-founder of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, has a different explanation for what happened to Paul. He says the biblical descriptions of Paul's experience closely match accounts of the fireball meteor seen above Chelyabinsk, Russia , in 2013.

New Scientist has not always been friendly towards biblical Christianity, so we should perhaps not be to surprised at its latest attempt.

New Scientist goes on to say:

But the Bible is not just any ancient text. Paul's Damascene conversion and subsequent missionary journeys around the Mediterranean helped build Christianity into the religion it is today. If his conversion was indeed as Hartmann explains it, then a random space rock has played a major role in determining the course of history.”

The next passage says more about the disbelief – and worldview – of the article writer than about anything else:

That's not as strange as it sounds. A large asteroid impact helped kill off the dinosaurs, paving the way for mammals to dominate the Earth. So why couldn't a meteor influence the evolution of our beliefs?”

Actually, the soft tissue and radiocarbon (C-14) found in dinosaur bone suggests that the “terror lizards” survived the global flood and other catastrophes.

To its credit, the magazine does mention that some researchers doubt this explanation that seems to rely on the basically deistic assumption that God is incapable to stepping down into human history.

However, from beginning to end, the Bible describes God’s interaction with mankind. He takes part in human history. Moreover, as the Gospel of Matthew records, one of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, ‘God with us.’

Source:

Aron, Jacob. 2015. Falling meteor may have changed the course of Christianity. New Scientist 3018, 8–9.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Antibiotic Resistance Is Not Evidence of Evolution, New Research Suggests


Yanomami Woman & Child. Image courtesy of C. Macauley, via Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

In popular literature, antibiotic resistance is often touted as evidence for evolution. However, a paper published in the journal Nature in 2011 stated:

"These results show conclusively that antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon that predates the modern selective pressure of clinical antibiotic use.”

The following year (2012), research published in the Journal PLoS ONE reached the same conclusion.

New research supports this view. A Nature news article states:

An isolated American Indian group in the Venezuelan Amazon hosts the most-diverse constellation of microbes ever discovered in humans, researchers reported on 17 April in Science Advances. Surprisingly, the group's microbiome includes bacteria with genes that confer antibiotic resistance — even though its members, part of the Yanomami tribe, are not thought to have been exposed to the drugs.”

So, when it comes to antibiotic resistance, it might be wise for researchers to avoid using the E-word.

Source:

Deng, Boer. 2015. Bacteria bonanza found in remote Amazon village. Nature news (17 April).


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Beauty in Colours Defies Naturalistic Explanations


It is not always easy to deny that our planet can be a beautiful place.



Joel Kontinen

In a purely naturalistic /materialistic world, beauty is an enigma. It seems to serve no survival purpose. Why would natural selection prefer bright colours to dull ones?

But there’s more. The natural world looks as thought it was designed by a highly skilled artist who knew what he was doing. Indeed, Scripture says: “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV).

Scientists are beginning to understand that colours and beauty are intentional. In addition to providing aesthetical pleasure for us, they might even serve a more mundane purpose:

The beautiful color of a sunset might be more than just a pretty picture. It could be a signal to our bodies that it’s time to reset our internal clock, the biological ticktock that governs everything from sleep patterns to digestion. That’s the implication of a new study in mice that shows these small rodents use light’s changing color to set their own clocks, a finding that researchers expect will hold for humans, too.

Source:

Cesare, Chris. 2015. Colors help set body’s internal clock. Science (17 April).

Friday, 17 April 2015

Comet 67P Challenges Planet-Formation Theory



Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Image courtesy of ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM, CC BY-SA IGO 3.0.





Joel Kontinen

Researchers used to think that magnetic fields could tie bits and pieces of dust and rocks together, eventually forming planets.

However, new data sent by the European Space Agency’s Philae lander from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko show that the theory does not work in practice.

According to an article in New Scientist, “the comet has almost no discernible magnetic field.”

It seems that the basic problem in secular astronomical theories is that they do not work.

From quantum fluctuations to cosmic inflation and too rapid galaxy formation to inadequate moon formation theories, there are insurmountable problems in the views.

The solar system and the universe look as if they are fine-tuned. The obvious solution is that it was designed that way and no view relying on entirely naturalistic means can ever explain its origin.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is by far the most logical explanation for the genesis of the universe – including everything in our solar system.

Source:

Aron, Jacob. 2015. Philae's sensors show comet 67P has almost no magnetic field. New Scientist (14 April).





Wednesday, 15 April 2015

C. elegans: Tiny Worm Defies Evolution


Caenorhabditis elegans. Image courtesy of K.D. Schroeder, Wikimedia Commons (License: CC-BY-SA 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

Caenorhabditis elegans is a tiny worm, a mere millimetre long, but the way it develops is anything but simple.

This should probably be no surprise as creatures like fruit flies are amazing, and even bacteria are full of elegant molecular machines.

Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture has produced two YouTube videos about C. elegans. One of them features CSC Fellow Dr. Paul Nelson, who says that when in comes to the way the worm’s cell lineages become specified, “the case for design could not have been made more explicit.”

The development of C. elegans defies Darwinian explanations:

There must be some governing logic, some control system, that tells those lineages what they're going to do as they are specializing. And I think from the perspective of an undirected process like natural selection or evolution generally, it's very hard to see how you can build that without knowing where you were going.”








Videos courtesy of Discovery Institute.