Friday, 24 November 2017

Darwinian Psychologists Deny Consciousness and Free Will – and Have to Resort to Storytelling

It’s hard to get free will and consciousness from rocks.




Joel Kontinen

If we believe that matter is the only thing that exists, we’re heading towards great trouble, as the immaterial realm is anything but imaginary.

Thus, consciousness and free will are hard dilemmas for evolutionists.

In 2014 Michael Graziano, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton, wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times in which he admitted that consciousness was a “ghostly thing” - seen from a Darwinian perspective, that is.

If this evolutionary conception of consciousness were applied coherently, it would mean the end of the idea of self.

However, recently two psychologists tried to navigate around this skerry. Writing in The Conversation, David A Oakley (Emeritus Professor of Psychology at University College London) and Peter Halligan (Hon Professor of Neuropsychology at Cardiff University) attempt to explain away both consciousness and free will:

It’s easy to assume that these contents of consciousness are somehow chosen, caused or controlled by our personal awareness – after all, thoughts don’t exist until until we think them. But in a new research paper in Frontiers of Psychology, we argue that this is a mistake.

We suggest that our personal awareness does not create, cause or choose our beliefs, feelings or perceptions. Instead, the contents of consciousness are generated ‘behind the scenes’ by fast, efficient, non-conscious systems in our brains. All this happens without any interference from our personal awareness, which sits passively in the passenger seat while these processes occur.

Put simply, we don’t consciously choose our thoughts or our feelings – we become aware of them
.”

This has repercussions for the idea of free will:

We argue that free will and personal responsibility are notions that have been constructed by society.”

This sounds like an excuse to avoid being accountable for our actions, and is very unbiblical notion.

Source:

Oakley, David A. and Peter Halligan. 2017. What if consciousness is not what drives the human mind? The Conversation (22 November).

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Rocket-Builder Wants to Prove from Space That the Earth is Flat

Not so flat. Public domain image included in the 1550 edition of De sphaera mundi (On the Sphere of the World). The book was originally published in 1230.



Joel Kontinen

A self-taught rocket builder is getting ready to be launched into space on November 25th. Mike Hughes has a mission that differs quite a bit from the average space flight: to prove that the Earth is flat.

He hopes to reach an altitude of 550 km (1,800 feet), soaring at a speed of 800 km (500 miles) an hour above the Mojave Desert in a rocket built from scrap metal.

Mr. Hughes thinks that the round earth is a Freemasonic conspiracy propagated by men like John Glenn and Neil Armstrong.

It is not easy to understand how a space flight could prove that the Earth is flat, as the evidence does not support this.

Several astronauts and Wernher von Braun (1912 –1977), the father of the US Apollo space programme, were or are Bible-believing Christians who certainly would not propagate falsehoods.

In contrast, it is often the sceptics who argue that the Bible teaches a flat Earth, although they can’t find any real proof for this.

Unfortunately, many people still believe that intellectual darkness prevailed in Europe during the Medieval Period (i.e., from roughly AD 500 to AD 1500).

They assume that even the few scholars who existed at the time thought that the earth was flat.

However, it would be very difficult to find any reputable medieval source that could corroborate this view. Most scholars who wrote on the shape of the earth said that our planet was round.

One of the earliest writers to do so was the English monk known as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede (673–735). In his book De temporum ratione (On the Reckoning of Time), he explicitly stated that the earth was round.

Iohannes de Sacrobosco (ca. 1195–1256) was a monk and an astronomer who wrote an entire book on the shape of the earth. Entitled De sphaera mundi (On the Sphere of the World), it was published in 1230. His argumentation sounds very modern:

THE EARTH A SPHERE. -- That the earth, too, is round is shown thus. The signs and stars do not rise and set the same for all men everywhere but rise and set sooner for those in the east than for those in the west; and of this there is no other cause than the bulge of the earth. Moreover, celestial phenomena evidence that they rise sooner for Orientals than for westerners. For one and the same eclipse of the moon which appears to us in the first hour of the night appears to Orientals about the third hour of the night, which proves that they had night and sunset before we did, of which setting the bulge of the earth is the cause.”

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) was probably the greatest theologian of the Middle Ages. In his Summa Theologica, he described the earth as being round like a ball. He pointed out that it was not shaped like a shield.

In addition to books, we can also see evidence for a spherical earth in the symbols that the rulers of the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire used. A coin minted during the reign of Emperor Theodeseus II (who ruled from AD 408 to AD 450) already shows the Globus Cruciger, which is Latin for “cross-bearing orb”. The cross symbolises the victory of Christ on the cross and the orb beneath it depicts the shape of the Earth.

The Globus Cruciger became a symbol of imperial power. For instance, a 7th century coin depicts Emperor Leontius holding this object.

A medieval painting shows Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor (1017–1056), being presented with this symbolic sphere. And a 13th century painting shows Emperor Fredrick I Barbarossa holding the Globus Cruciger in his hand.

It looks very round.

For many centuries, the Globus Cruciger was used as a symbol in the crown jewels of several European monarchies.

It thus seems that there is no historically sound basis for the belief that people in the Medieval Period thought that the earth was flat like a pancake.

But the Jews already knew that the earth was round in the 7th century B.C. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “He [God] sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers” (Isaiah 40:22, NIV).

Source:

Selk, Avi, 2017. This man is about to launch himself in his homemade rocket to prove the Earth is flat. The Washington Post (21 November).

Monday, 20 November 2017

Antarctica’s Petrified Forest Reminds Us of Noah’s Flood

Petrified trees can be seen on many continents. Here’s one on the Greek island of Lesvos.




Joel Kontinen

We would most probably not expect to find petrified trees in Antarctica, even though researchers had discovered pollen on the now frozen continent.

But now evolutionists have to resort to creative storytelling to account for a fossilised forest they found there.

An article on Live Science suggests:

From about 400 million to 14 million years ago, the southern continent was a very different, and much greener place. The climate was warmer, though the plants that survived at the low southern latitudes had to cope with winters of 24-hour-per-day darkness and summers during which the sun never set, just as today.”

They found “the oldest polar forest on record”. They believe that it’s 280 million years old. It is mostly composed of Glossopteris trees that resemble today’s Bald Cypress.

It’s hard to believe that the trees are as old as they assume:

The plants are so well-preserved in rock that some of the amino acid building blocks that made up the trees’ proteins can still be extracted, said [paleoecologist Erik] Gulbranson, who specializes in geochemistry techniques. Studying these chemical building blocks may help clarify how the trees handled the southern latitudes’ weird sunlight conditions, as well as the factors that allowed those plants to thrive but drove Glossopteris to its death, he said.”

Previously, researchers found a fossilized tropical forest in Norway and dinosaur fossils in Alaska.

The global flood of Noah’s day is the most logical explanation for these discoveries. It has left marks all over the world, including fossil graveyards and geological formations.

Source:

Pappas, Stephanie, 2017. 280-Million-Year-Old Fossil Forest Discovered in … Antarctica. Live Science (15 November).

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Capybara: The World’s Biggest Rodent Is Intelligently Designed for Swamp Life

A Yellow-headed caracara on a capybara. Image courtesy of Charlesjsharp, CC BY-SA 4.0.



Joel Kontinen

The animal kingdom is full of creatures that defy simplistic Darwinian explanations.

One of them is the world’s biggest rodent capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris). It is optimally designed for swamp life – with webbed feet, and ears and eyes high on the head so it can hear and see clearly while in water.

This South American rodent can weigh almost 80 kg (175 lbs) and have a body length of 100 – 130 centimetres (40 to 50 inches) without the very short tail, but it is no bully and prefers to eat grasses, aquatic plants, grains, melons, and squashes.

Some other creatures, such as the binturong (Arctictis binturong) or bearcat, star-nosed mole, spiny anteater, platypus and the warm-blooded fish opah (Lampris guttatus), also defy Darwinian thinking.


Source:

Capycarafacts. com

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Ross 128 b: Newly Discovered Exoplanet Might Not Be Habitable, Despite the Media’s Expectations


Ross 128 b. Image courtesy oF ESO / M. Kornmesser.




Joel Kontinen

When it comes to reporting on potentially habitable exoplanets, it is not difficult to see an interesting trend, i.e., a more honest approach to previous discoveries.

They are suddenly seen as less plausible candidates for life or they are simply forgotten.

The recent discovery of the planet Ross 128 b, which orbits a red dwarf star 20 times closer than Earth orbits the Sun 11 light years from us, follows this tendency.

Red dwarf stars are notorious for bombarding their planets with intense solar radiation that can be lethal.

Many planets orbiting them might be tidally locked, with the same side always facing the star.

However, astronomers think that of Ross 128 b might receive less solar radiation although they are not sure whether it orbits its star in the habitable zone.

It is roughly Earth-sized with a temperature assumed to be between -60 and +20°C.

It might well give a false hope for those who expect to find alien life in the universe. Hitherto, all candidates have turned out to be worlds that most probably cannot sustain life.

And then it’s still a giant leap from being potentially habitable to actually being habited. There’s no life without information, no information without design, and no design without a Designer.

As far as we know, there’s no place like our created home planet anywhere in the universe.

Source:

Rincon, Paul. 2017. Nearby planet is a target for life. BBC News. (15 November).

Monday, 13 November 2017

Fruit Fly Brains Inspire Search Engines of the Future


Image courtesy of André Karwath, CC BY-SA 2.5.



Joel Kontinen

Fruit flies have an amazing skills, including their sense of smell. They can distinguish between very subtle differences in odours.

Recently, Salk Institute assistant professor Saket Navlakha and colleagues reviewed the published literature on fruit flies and came up with some interesting details, reported by Science Daily:

When fruit flies first sense an odor, 50 neurons fire in a combination that's unique to that smell. But rather than hashing that information by reducing the number of hashes associated with the odor, as computer programs would, flies do the opposite -- they expand the dimension. The 50 initial neurons lead to 2,000 neurons, spreading out the input so that each smell has an even more distinct fingerprint among those 2,000 neurons. The brain then stores only the 5 percent of those 2,000 neurons with the top activity as the ‘hash’ for that odor.”

This strategy is surprisingly elegant and efficient:

The whole paradigm helps the brain notice similarities better than it would compared to reducing the dimension, Navlakha says.”

This discovery is very likely to inspire better search engines.

Biomimicry or copying intelligent solutions in living beings has become a lucrative research field. (See here, here, here and here for some other examples.)

Source:

Salk Institute. 2017. Fruit fly brains inform search engines of the future. Science Daily. (9 November).

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Origin of Life Research Invokes a Synthetic Enzyme – And Fails


The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Image courtesy of Jim Peaco, National Park Service, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

Origin of life is a messy research field. No one has ever come up with a plausible explanation of how non-life could have turned into life.

With naturalistic ideology running the show, explanations tend to be both speculative and impossible.

But they keep on trying. The latest attempt features a synthetic enzyme called diamidophosphate (DAP).

Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy and his colleagues at the Scripps Research Institute report on their research in the journal Nature Chemistry.

While they cannot be sure that DAP even existed at the time life supposedly popped out of the prebiotic stew, they assume that it might have.

An article posted in Live Science does no spare conditionals in reporting on the research: “may have existed”, “could have reacted”, “may have reacted” and “could have been leached out”, to name a few.

Krishnamurthy has no proof that DAP even existed four billion years ago. He synthesized the molecule in his lab as a way to solve one of the fundamental challenges to phosphorylating in wet, early Earth conditions. For most phosphorylation reactions to work, they need to remove a molecule of water in the process.

‘How do you remove water from a molecule when you are surrounded by a pool of water?’ asked Krishnamurthy. ‘That’s thermodynamically an uphill task.’

DAP gets around that problem by removing a molecule of ammonia instead of water.”

However, that will not give us life. This scenario is anything but plausible.

Krishnamurthy is working with geochemists to identify potential sources of DAP in the distant geological past. Phosphate-rich lava flows may have reacted with ammonia in the air to create DAP, or it could have been leached out of phosphate-containing minerals. Or maybe it even arrived on the back of a meteorite forged by a far-off star.”

You don’t have to be a prophet to say that their scenario will not work.

Source:

Roos, Dave. 2017. Chemists May Have Found the 'Missing Link' to the First Life on Earth. Live Science (10 November).