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 Denying history, he chooses to take an outdated Darwinian approach to religion (i.e., monotheism evolved from polytheism).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.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Saturn's Moon Enceladus Shows Signs of Youth

Water-ice blasting from Enceladus. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/SSI.



Joel Kontinen

Jets of water-ice seem to be blasting from Saturn’s tiny moon Enceladus. This has created buzz in the extraterrestrial life community with hopes of finding at least microbial life on the moon that is only 500 kilometres (just over 300 miles) wide.

Data recently obtained by NASA's Cassini probe suggest that a large lake the size of Lake Superior might lurk on Enceladus.

What the life-searchers have not thought about critically is the signs of youth and the existence of so much water on a moon that they believe is 4.5 billion years old.

A moon that old should probably be very dead. But obviously, it isn’t.

Like many other moons, for instance Jupiter’s moons Europa and Io and Saturn’s moon Titan, Enceladus shows signs of youth, just what we would expect from the model based on Genesis.

Source:

Amos, Jonathan. 2014. Saturn's Enceladus moon hides 'great lake' of water. BBC news (3 April).


Monday, 7 April 2014

New Functions Suggested for “Junk DNA”

Arabidopsis, the star of the recent “junk DNA” study. Image courtesy of Wikipedia (GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2).




Joel Kontinen

Evolutionists used to dismiss non-coding DNA as junk. However, a recent article posted on EurekAlert suggests that there is more to it:

In many organisms, there is much more DNA in a cell than is needed to code for all the necessary proteins. This non-coding DNA was often referred to as ‘junk’ DNA because it seemed unnecessary. But in retrospect, we did not yet understand the function of these seemingly unnecessary DNA sequences.”

The article suggests that calling it junk was based on ignorance:

We now know that non-coding DNA can have important functions other than encoding proteins. Many non-coding sequences produce RNA molecules that regulate gene expression by turning them on and off. Others contain enhancer or inhibitory elements. Recent work by the international ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) Project (1, 2) suggested that a large percentage of non-coding DNA, which makes up an estimated 95% of the human genome, has a function in gene regulation. Thus, it is premature to say that ‘junk’ DNA does not have a function -- we just need to find out what it is!

In a recent study, Diane Burgess and Michael Freeling at the University of California, Berkeley looked at “conserved” non-coding DNA sequences (CNSs) in a variety of plants, such as rice, banana, and cacao. They “compared the genome (one copy of all the DNA in an organism) of the model plant Arabidopsis, a member of the mustard family, with the genome of columbine, a distantly related plant of the buttercup family.”

So what did they find?

Nearly all of the deep CNSs are associated with genes involved in basic and universal biological processes in flowering plants—processes such as development, response to hormones, and regulation of gene expression. They found that the majority of these CNSs are associated with genes involved in tissue and organ development, post-embryonic differentiation, flowering, and production of reproductive structures. Others are associated with hormone- and salt-responsive genes or with genes encoding transcription factors, which are regulatory proteins that control gene expression by turning other genes on and off.”

In other words, the plant genomes look increasingly like they have been designed very intelligently. There’s no room for blind Darwinian processes in this scenario.


Source:

New functions for 'junk' DNA? EurekAlert, 31 March 2014.




Saturday, 5 April 2014

Hybrid on Irish Farm: Goat + Sheep = Geep

These are just ordinary sheep, but a geep looks much like them.





Joel Kontinen


It looks like a sheep, but it already has tiny horns. The geep, as the animal is called, was born on a farm in Ireland two weeks ago.

Not sure what a geep is? Don’t worry. I didn’t know either, before I read a recent BBC article on the offspring of a buck goat and a ewe. This tiny geep is nimble and seems to be thriving.

Hybrid animals like geeps are obviously a mystery for Darwinian evolution, but they fit in well with the Genesis-based creation model. We’ve had creatures like ligers and a grizzly - polar bear hybrid, for instance.

Sheep and goats belong to the same Genesis kind, which is a much wider concept than the biological term species. Sheep and goats actually belong to the same biblical kind, just like dogs and wolves make up one kind.


Source:

Geep: Rare 'goat-sheep' born on Irish farm. BBC news 4 April 2014.




Thursday, 3 April 2014

Cosmic Inflation: When Is Evidence Evidence?

Evidence for this – or something else? Image courtesy of NASA/WMAP Science Team.



Joel Kontinen


The Big Bang model has been struggling for decades. In 1980 Alan Guth invented inflation as an attempt to solve the horizon problem caused by the almost uniform temperature of the different parts of the universe.

If, as Big Bang advocates believe, the universe is 13.8 billion years old, then this is a huge problem. One edge of the universe would be 27.6 billion light years away from the other edge and there would not be enough time for the temperature to become uniform.

Guth proposed that in its infancy the universe had a quick growth spurt in which it exceeded the speed of light. No one knows what caused it and what caused the universe to decelerate.

Reports of recent research claim that the Smoking Gun of the Big Bang has been found. According to a news in focus article in Nature:

Astronomers have peered back to nearly the dawn of time and found what seems to be the long-sought ‘smoking gun’ for the theory that the Universe underwent a spurt of wrenching, exponential growth called inflation during the first tiny fraction of a second of its existence.

Using a radio telescope at the South Pole, the US-led team has detected the first evidence of primordial gravitational waves, ripples in space that inflation generated 13.8 billion years ago when the Universe first started to expand
.”

The Nature article acknowledges that up to now “conclusive evidence for it [i.e., inflation] has been lacking.” It sees the discovery as a great breakthrough although the evidence could be interpreted in other ways as well.

However, this is not the first time that theory trumps evidence. Other astronomers are already calling for caution, as inflation is by no means the only possible explanation for what has been detected.

In a purely naturalistic /materialistic universe, there could be no cause for sudden inflation and no mechanism for slowing it down. In contrast, everything in the universe appears to be fine-tuned for life.

A much more plausible explanation begins with the words “In the beginning God created”.


Source:

Cowen, Ron. 2014. Telescope captures view of gravitational waves Nature 507 (7492): 281–283.