Monday, 28 September 2009
Peter von Cornelius: Joseph interprets the dream of the Pharaoh. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Egyptian archaeologists say they have found evidence for the historicity of the Joseph described in the Book of Genesis. Recently, a research group led by Dr. Sa'id Muhammad Thabet took a closer look at the collections of the Egyptian Museum of Archaeology. They found 500 coins from the time of the Pharaohs.
Previously, archaeologists had assumed that these items were amulets. They had put them away in boxes. However, a more in-depth investigation revealed that they were coins.
Some historians were reluctant to believe that coins were used in Egypt during the era of the Pharaohs. They supposed that at the time people ”were unfamiliar with coins and conducted their trade through barter”, as a recently released report puts it. However, the new discovery suggests that they were mistaken.
In some of the coins, the name Joseph was written in hieroglyphics. It appears in two forms, one of which is Saba Sabani or Zaphenath-Paneah (Genesis 41:45), the Egyptian name that Pharaoh gave him.
The archaeologists also found a coin describing a cow. They associated this with Pharaoh’s dream of seven fat and seven gaunt cows. Having interpreted the dream, Joseph, a Hebrew slave, became the chief minister of Egypt in charge of the ruler’s food program.
Recently, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported on the find. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) published an English version of the text.
The coins are evidence of the historical reliability of the Old Testament. For a long time, skeptics have claimed that Joseph was not a real historical person. Perhaps they ought to take a more skeptical look at their skepticism.
During the past few years, scholars have found evidence for the historicity of several Old Testament characters, such as Nebo-Sarsekim, a Babylonian officer mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3, and Gedaliah, son of Pashhur , one of king Zedekiah’s ministers (Jeremiah 38:1).
Recent discoveries also support the reliability of Bible texts that mention David and Solomon .
Archeologists find 'Joseph-era' coins in Egypt. The Jerusalem Post (25 September 2009)
MEMRI – Middle East Media Research Institute. Leading Egyptian Daily 'Al-Ahram' Reports: Coins from Era of Biblical Joseph Found in Egypt. (24 September 2009) http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD256109
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Richard Dawkins is hardly known for his brilliant logic. His fresh book is no exception.
Richard Dawkins has written a new book, this time on evolution. He says that The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (Bantam Press/Simon & Schuster, 2009) is not an anti-religious book.
Having said that he goes on to write, "God, to repeat this point, which ought to be obvious, but isn't, never made a tiny wing in his eternal life."
Logic has never been Richard Dawkins’ forte. Philosopher Alvin Plantinga, for instance, has suggested that Dawkins’ arguments are exceedingly poor:
You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class.
Now even New Scientist, which usually has a high view of Richard Dawkins, suspects that he simply cannot control himself. It is difficult to keep boiling anger in check.
Born in Kenya in 1941, Dawkins had to attend his school’s morning prayers or assembly as it was called in those days. Perhaps his aversion to religion stems from the time spent listening to Scripture passages and singing hymns. He might just have clothed it in a scientific garb.
Dawkins’ age is beginning to be obvious in his text. He suggests that in the good old days people were smarter and he did not have to argue that evolution had happened. They just believed it. Now the task is much harder for poor ol’ Richard.
But perhaps Dawkins should stop to think whether the reluctance to believe in Darwinian evolution really stems from ignorance. It could well be that the recent scandals involving Archaeoraptor and the Ida fossil have made people more skeptical of Darwinism, making them see the attire that Emperor Charles is sporting.
Olson, Randy. 2009. Review: The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. New Scientist 2725 (14 September) http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327256.400-review-the-greatest-show-on-earth-by-richard-dawkins.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news
Plantinga, Alvin. 2007. The Dawkins Confusion. Naturalism 'ad absurdum'. Christianity Today. (1 March). http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2007/marapr/1.21.html.
Friday, 25 September 2009
David Bentley Hart, a professor of theology, discusses the religious views of Richard Dawkins and other militant atheists in his new book.
What do militant atheists remember of Christian history? They will mention the Inquisition, witch hunts, religious wars and the crusades, but will probably forget the rest. They seldom speak about the good that the followers of Jesus Christ have introduced to society, such as leper hospitals, orphanages and schools.
They haven’t even heard about equality and freedom that are the fruit of Christianity. In addition, they have created their own myth of the Galileo affair that has next to nothing to do with reality.
In his book Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Yale University Press, 2009) David Bentley Hart, a professor of theology, takes on militant atheists. Hart, an American Orthodox theologian and philosopher, shows that militant atheists have created their own version of Christianity that is easy to criticise.
In other words, it has little to do with biblical Christianity.
If we were to compare the fruits of Christianity with the products of the Enlightenment, we might soon notice which of them has brought more benefits for mankind. After all, atheists have Stalin and Pol Pot, so they cannot afford to throw the first stone.
According to professor Hart, the post-Christian world values freedom of choice to the extent that it has become more important than that what we choose. Individuals demand the right to decide on abortion, euthanasia and gene technology, for instance.
Their consequences are not always very encouraging.
Hart says that Christianity ”has been the single most creative cultural, ethical, aesthetic, social, political, or spiritual force in the history of the West.” Unlike atheism, Christianity offers us real hope.
As God says in the Book of Jeremiah, He promises to give ”a future and a hope” to those who trust in Him.
Another excellent book discussing the views of militant atheists is being re-issued. Basic Books is publishing Dr. David Berlinski’s The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions in paperback.
Kirkpatrick, Kate. 2009. Reframing Human History. Christianity Today (23 September) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/september/33.81.html
Sunday, 20 September 2009
In Argentina, the Andes give shelter to fascinating formations that makes one think of what the Israeli King Solomon said 3000 years ago: ”There is nothing new under the sun”. Recently, a research group led by María Eugenia Farías, an Argentinian microbiologist, found living stromatolites in a salt lake 3600 metres above sea level.
Stromatolites are rocky dome-shaped formations made by blue-green bacteria. Millions of lime-secreting micro-organisms have left – and are still leaving – signs of life in nature.
According to the Darwinian story, stromatolites ruled our planet
during the early history of Earth. The oldest stromatolite fossils have been dated at 3,45 billion years. They do not differ considerably from their relatives currently living on the Andes and elsewhere.
This is not the first time that living stromatolites have been discovered. Stromatolites flourish in harsh conditions. They disclose that some creatures resist change for long periods of time. Perhaps, like other living fossils they have forgotten that even during Charles Darwin’s bicentennial evolution is often defined as change.
Belluscio, Ann. 2009. High window on the past. Microbiologists find living stromatolites in the Andes. Nature news (17 September)
Oxford Dictionary of Science. 2006. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Thursday, 17 September 2009
Darwin’s Dilemma is a new film that takes a critical approach to the Darwinian explanation of the early stages of life.
Charles Darwin has lately made headlines in the media during the bicentennial of this Victorian gentleman. However, there has been no shortage of critical voices. In addition to books, journal articles and blog posts, films have also presented Darwin’s views, discoveries and errors.
For instance, Creation Ministries International produced the film The Voyage that Shook the World. It is now available as a DVD.
Recently, Illustra Media launched a new film that takes a critical approach to the Darwinian explanation of life. The Cambrian explosion was a dilemma for Charles Darwin since in practice it casts a deep cloud on the credibility of the stepwise progress of life on our planet. Fully-developed eyes, limbs and sensory organs seem to appear from nowhere without any intermediary stages.
Filmed on four continents, Darwin’s Dilemma takes an in-depth look at this mystery.
Illustra Media. 2009. News release.
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
Michelangelo: The Creation of Adam. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Recently, some atheists have pondered whether Michelangelo was nearer the truth than they are.
Recently, some atheists have surprised us. First, Bradley Monton defended intelligent design. Then Bruce Sheiman concluded that religion is good for people.
Children of atheist families can also surprise us. A few weeks ago, a Finnish pastor said that he heard the following at a birthday party during the summer. A young atheist kid asked, ”I wonder what God thinks of us, as we don’t believe in him?”
Not a bad question.
A Monarch butterfly. Image courtesy of Kenneth Dwain Harrelson, Wikipedia. Butterfly evolution is a mystery for Darwinists.
Butterfly evolution has been a mystery for Darwinists. How can an animal change into an entirely different form during its brief life? Now, Donald Williamson, a retired zoologist who worked at the University of Liverpool, UK, thinks he has found the solution.
According to Williamson, hundreds of millions of years ago an animal that does not live through a larva stage, for instance a grasshopper or cockroach, hybridised with a velvet worm. He suggests that butterflies are the descendants of this hybrid. They live through the stages of both ancestors.
This is typical Darwinian storytelling that has nothing to do with real observable science. It resembles Ernst Haeckel’s discredited ”Biogenetic Law” (“ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”).
Williamson’s colleagues take a very critical approach to his hypothesis. Georg Mayer, a specialist in velvet worm development and taxonomy at the University of Jena in Germany, says that caterpillars do not even resemble velvet worms. Genetics does not support Williamson’s view, either.
New Scientist concludes its article on butterfly evolution by stating that the evidence does not support Williamson’s theory. Actually, his view does not fulfil the scientific criteria for a theory so it would be more appropriate to call it a hypothesis.
Butterflies are evidence of very intelligent design. Their Creator has seen fit to let them live in two distinct forms during their brief life. Instead of chance, their life speaks of teleology. In other words, they have been programmed to change from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
Holmes, Bob. 2009. Did two species mix to make butterflies? New Scientist 2723 (26 August)
Saturday, 5 September 2009
New Scientist reports that Earth is just the right size for sustaining life. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
The discovery of huge exoplanets has given rise to the hope that they might harbour life. However, recently New Scientist suggested that this might well be wishful thinking.
Super earths or large rocky planets with a mass five to ten times that of Earth might simply be too huge to sustain life.
On 15 September, Vlada Stamenkovic of the German Aerospace Center (Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt) and colleagues will present a paper at the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, Germany, in which they will describe the results of their research on the basic prerequisites for sustaining life.
They discovered that rocky planets should approximately be the size of Earth in order to support plate tectonics and have a magnetic field.
According to Stamenkovic, plate tectonics will probably not work on too huge planets such as super earths. What is needed for supporting plate tectonics is a planet with a mass of approximately 0.5 to 2.5 times that of Earth. And a magnetic field is needed for shielding the planet from cosmic radiation.
This has led Stamenkovic to believe that Earth is special.
Not all astrobiologists will agree with him. Some still hope that life is lurking somewhere in outer space.
The research of Stamenkovic and colleagues nevertheless supports that what Bible-believing scientists have known for a long time: Earth is a privileged planet, designed for sustaining life. As the Apollo 8 astronauts put it in their 1968 Christmas message: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
Shiga, David. 2009. Earth-sized planets are just right for life. New Scientist 2724 (2 September). http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327243.600-earthsized-planets-are-just-right-for-life.html
Friday, 4 September 2009
Free Thinkers have assumed the role of Orwellian thought police. In George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four Big Brother keeps watch so that no one will think unauthorised thoughts.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has approached tourist boards in the UK, urging them to cease promoting the Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Somerset.
Early this year, the BHA sponsored a conspicuous bus campaign in London with ads doubting the existence of God. Now, when a zoo farm wants to promote the existence of God, the humanists, who would describe themselves as free thinkers, are assuming the basic Orwellian model of not tolerating any dissenting views.
The Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm opened to the public in 1999. It houses a hundred animals and attracts approximately 120, 000 visitors each year. Noah’s Ark does not hide its belief in a creator God.
However, Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm promotes a much longer time frame of earth history than traditional creationism but it seems that the very idea of doubting Darwinism causes problems for dissenters. Recently, Ben Stein himself was expelled from New York Times.
Miranda Stevenson, director of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, says, ''I find it extraordinary that an organisation that I thought promotes free thinking appears to want censorship.”
Perhaps free thinkers ought to change the name of their ideology.
Telegraph. 2009. Noah's Ark Zoo in creationist row. (27 August) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/6100222/Noahs-Ark-Zoo-in-creationist-row.html
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
Image courtesy of Ansgar Walk, Wikipedia.
Last week BBC News reported that polar bears are shrinking but it did not associate this with Darwinian evolution.
In a recent study, Cino Pertoldi, a biology professor at the University of Aarhus, and colleagues measured the skulls of 300 polar bears. They noticed that the skulls from the latter part of the 20th century were on average 2 - 9 per cent smaller than those from the early part. The researchers assume that this is due to a reduction in sea ice and an increase in pollutants such as fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine.
Darwinists often describe evolution as change before switching their definition in mid-sentence. Recently, when Time magazine reported on the shrinking sheep of Scotland, it reminded readers of the contribution of Darwinian evolution.
The absence of the usual evolution connection is surprising. Could the recent buzz over the Ida fossil have dampened the Darwinian zeal to interpret all change as evolution?
However, Pertoldi and colleagues do remind us of man-made global warming that has become a dogma that is promoted as vigorously as Darwinian evolution.
Gill, Victoria. 2009. 'Stress' is shrinking polar bears. BBC News (25 August) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/science/nature/8214673.stm