Saturday, 27 June 2009
Christ Pantocrator icon at Daphne, Greece. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
The media often bring before us a world that is far from perfect or even good. Recently, British MPs used state coffers as their personal piggy banks. In Myanmar or Burma the military junta rules the country with an iron grip. Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe keeps on destroying what is left of the livelihood of his impoverished countrymen. In Iran, the regime mishandles opposition supporters and shoots to death a teen-aged girl watching a protest march.
In the midst of all this the Bible speaks about a God who is Good. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to Titus in which he said, “When the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Tit. 3:4-5).
We have made the world a mess. God did not command Mugabe to impoverish his country or the Burmese military junta to transform their state into a large concentration camp. He did not inspire Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitism, either.
Evil is a consequence of the Fall described in Genesis. Sin spoilt a world that originally was very good.
Sin does not mean that all people are as bad as they can be but that no one has ever succeeded in being completely good –except a carpenter from Nazareth who had to pay a high price for his goodness.
But this carpenter from Nazareth was no ordinary man. ”No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46), the Jewish temple police said of him.
Jesus of Nazareth was also the Jesus of eternity who entered history as the manifestation of God’s love. He still works through those who have accepted Him into their lives.
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Our presuppositions have an effect on our view of Lucy, for instance.
Presuppositions have a profound effect on how we view the world around us. Popular science publications have caused many people to assume that ape men have once existed. The Bible, however, presents an entirely different view of history.
A few years ago Philip Bell, currently CEO of Creation Ministries International UK/Europe, used the following example to highlight the power of presuppositions:
If we have the information chain GODISNOWHERE, we might interpret it in two ways:
Either like this: GOD IS NOWHERE.
Or like this: GOD IS NOW HERE.
In both cases the data are the same but the latter interpretation has an extra blank space between the letters W and H.
Presuppositions can also have a profound effect on what we think about fossils. While a Darwinist, who rejects the idea of a Creator God, sees an ape man, a Bible-believing scientist sees an extinct ape, evidence for creation and the rich variety in the animal kingdom. (The word ‘kingdom’ used in a non-specific sense.)
Bell, Philip. 2006. Ape Men. Lecture at the Creation Without Compromise conference at Swanwick, UK (22 April 2006).
Saturday, 13 June 2009
Birds are dinosaurs? A new study throws doubt on an old assumption.
Natural history museums have often informed the public that birds are modern dinosaurs. However, a recent paper published in The Journal of Morphology suggests that the dino-bird link does not exist.
Devon Quick, a doctoral student at Oregon State University, and zoology professor John Ruben, also at OSU, examined how birds breath.
Commenting on their research, ScienceDaily reported:
It's been known for decades that the femur, or thigh bone in birds is largely fixed and makes birds into "knee runners," unlike virtually all other land animals, the OSU experts say. What was just discovered, however, is that it's this fixed position of bird bones and musculature that keeps their air-sac lung from collapsing when the bird inhales.
So a magpie has good reason for not walking like a gecko. What is more, it needs twenty times as much air as its cold-blooded reptilian cousin. Dinosaurs also walked in a way that differs from that of birds.
Professor Ruben also points out that birds have been found earlier in the fossil record than dinosaurs. "A velociraptor did not just sprout feathers at some point and fly off into the sunset," he says.
However, Quick and Ruben are not prepared to discard Darwinian evolution altogether. They believe dinosaurs and birds evolved independently from each other.
This conclusion is based more on worldview and a reluctance to discard the ruling paradigm in the biological sciences than on hard evidence. In many ways, Darwin’s double anniversary has weakened the case for evolution.
ScienceDaily. 2009. Discovery Raises New Doubts About Dinosaur-bird Links. (9 June)
Freedom of religion is a mere dream in the land of Chairman Mao’s successors. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Twenty years after the Tienanmen Square massacre, freedom of religion is still a mere dream in the People’s Republic of China. Christian attorney Gao Zhisheng, who has defended house church Christians, was arrested in early February. He has not been released although there is no legal reason to keep him behind bars.
Chinese authorities have not disclosed where Gao Zhisheng is being kept. He has repeatedly been tortured and imprisoned for defending Christians.
Western Christians have appealed to Chinese authorities to release Gao Zhisheng. However, Chinese officials have been reluctant to comply to international pressure.
You can read more about Gao Zhisheng here and also sign a petition demanding his release.
Sunday, 7 June 2009
T. H. Huxley’s view of man’s development. Archaeological discoveries do not support this story. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
According to the Darwinian view, advanced civilisations evolved rather recently. They were preceded by hundreds of thousands of years of primitive culture.
Archaeology does not support this old evolution-based story, however. The oldest discoveries reveal that humans have always been creative and inventive.
Old pottery fragments were recently found in Hunan province in China. Based on carbon-14 dating of charcoal and bones discovered at the site, the shards are estimated to be 18, 000 years old.
Physicist Elisabetta Boaretto of the Wiezmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel and archaeologist Xiaohong Wu of Peking University and their colleagues recently published a paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences outlining the discovery. They concluded that humans were able to make pottery much earlier than previously assumed.
A Venus figurine carved from mammoth ivory was recently found in Germany. Probably used as a pendant, the figure is estimated to be 35, 000 years old. The figure shows that at least some early Europeans were clever artists.
The Darwinian great story tells us that humans have a long common history with ape-like creatures. Archaeological discoveries do not support this view, however.
We should take a skeptical approach to carbon dates of tens of thousands of years. They are based on the assumption that Earth’s atmosphere has remained practically unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years.
According to Genesis, the global flood of Noah’s days changed our planet thoroughly. Torrential rain and volcanic eruptions broke Earth’s only continent and most of the plants were probably also destroyed. The C-14 content of the atmosphere was changed dramatically. In other words, many older C-14 dates are unreliable.
When we take this into account, we will notice that archaeological discoveries support the biblical view – and even timescale - of mankind’s past.
Nature. 2009. Prehistoric Pinup. Nature video. http://www.nature.com/nature/videoarchive/prehistoricpinup/
Watzman, Haim. 2009. Earliest evidence for pottery making found. Nature news 1 June http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090601/full/news.2009.534.html?s=news_rss
Saturday, 6 June 2009
Don’t tickle me. New ape study examines similarities between laughter in humans and apes.
Since the days of Charles Darwin, evolutionists have attempted to see human traits in animals and animal traits in humans. A new study published in the journal Current Biology observes this tradition of Darwinian storytelling faithfully.
A research team led by psychologist Marina Davila Ross of the University of Portsmouth, UK, tickled 21 young orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, as well as one siamang and three human babies. They examined the resulting laughter, using 11 acoustic variables.
Davila Ross and her colleagues concluded that the laughter of the gorillas and the bonobos resembled human laughter most.
It might still be difficult to bridge the gap between apes and humans with laughter. Apes prefer to use four legs for walking and they usually breath in synchrony with their walking. Humans are able to breath independently of their walking and are not known to crawl on all fours.
The difference in how humans and apes laugh might remain a ticklish issue. After all, laughter is not the only thing that separates us.
Professor Stuart Burgess of the University of Bristol, UK, has pointed out that whereas apes have about 26 facial muscles, humans have approximately 50. Moreover, with all their muscles apes can produce four expressions, none of which are especially pretty. In contrast, humans can produce 10 000 expressions. Some of them can be quite beautiful.
It might thus be difficult to make monkeys out of humans with any amount of laughter. Or humans out of apes.
Moreover, one should probably only choose small apes for laughter experiments. A King Kong sized gorilla might bite the researcher’s little finger, in spite of its being Darwin year.
Burgess, Stuart. 2006. The Design Argument. Lecture in the Creation Without Compromise conference in Swanwick, UK, 22 April 2006.
Laursen, Lucas. 2009. Human-ape links heard in laughter. Nature news 4 June.