Friday, 26 March 2010

Templeton Awards Francisco Ayala

Creation according to Francisco Ayala. Image courtesy of José-Manuel Benito Álvarez, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

The Templeton Foundation uses a variety of avenues to promote dialogue between science and religion. Or at least it says it does. Established by the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, it annually awards a 1.6 million dollar prize to a “living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works”.

This year’s laureate Francisco Ayala is a biology professor known for his outspoken opposition to creationism and intelligent design. He regards God’s direct involvement in creation as blasphemy.

This might be Ayala’s way of explaining why bad things happen in the world. A former Dominician priest, he chooses to believe in unguided Darwinian evolution instead of anything that suggests God would have planned life as we know it.

There is a better way of explaining why there are imperfections in living beings. The book of Genesis describes the creation of a very good world. However, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s explicit commandment. What we see in living beings are the consequences of this fall.

A truly biblical worldview explains reality much better than Ayala’s version.


Bhattacharjee, Yudhijit. 2010. Latest Prize Bolsters Templeton's Shift to Mainstream. Science 327: 5973, 1565.

2010 Templeton Prize Laureate Francisco J. Ayala. (25 March).

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

When evolutionists debate the future of God

The debaters had no need for this scenario. Michelangelo: Creation of Adam. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Recently, two atheists and two new age advocates had a debate on the future of God. Michael Shermer and Sam Harris presented the atheist position while Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston defended the new age view.

In a rambling debate held at Caltech on March 14, the participants occasionally forgot what they were supposed to talk about. Shermer brought up his understanding of religions being primitive explanations of reality. He has no use for angels, demons or anything that cannot be explained by materialistic science. Echoing the idea introduced by Ludwig Feuerbach, he said, ”We created God”.

Chopra replied by affirming his trust in science and denied believing in ”primitive theology”. Harris used the event to criticise Christianity, and Houston promoted her views of the need to change the world through new age spirituality.

When one side rejects the existence of consciousness as being independent of our brains and the other side affirms new age spirituality, any debate is bound to be interesting – and this was no exception although the debaters did not always speak the same language.

The debate had nothing to do with traditional Christianity. The participants acknowledged their trust in evolution and Big Bang cosmology. However, both concepts are foreign to a truly biblical worldview in which the Creator God wants to have a personal relationship with man whom he created in His image.

Far from being primitive, Christianity is still a dynamic force that changes people all over the world. As the apostle Paul put it, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17)


Does God Have A Future?

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Hello? Anybody there?

Paul Davies discusses intelligent life in his new book. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Yesterday, as I was reading Nature, Chris McKay’s review of Paul Davies’ book The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence/ Are We Alone In The Universe? caught my eye.

In Eerie Silence Davies discusses the SETI project that has used radio telescopes to scan the skies for signs of extraterrestrial life. After 50 years of searching, they have found absolutely nothing. Not a single signal that would suggest intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe.

Davies discusses the possibility that intelligent life might be very rare outside the Earth.

However, Davies also ventures into the brave new world of science fiction, speculating that in the distant past aliens might have left a message in our DNA.

He thus acknowledges that DNA looks like it has been designed. Perhaps there is a more traditional solution to this dilemma. Might the answer be found in a book called Genesis?


McKay, Chris. 2010. Is Anybody Out There? (Review of Paul Davies’ book The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence/ Are We Alone In The Universe?) Nature 464: 7285, 34 (4 March).

It's been an unusual week

If you tried to access my blog during the past week, you were probably unable to do so. Blogger locked all my Google sites on Saturday, March 13th. The reason remains a mystery for me.

Yesterday they finally unlocked my blogs. I apologise for all inconvenience and hope you will continue reading my posts.

I have a backup site at so if you’re unable to access this blog, please try that instead.

Joel Kontinen

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The cathedral that God made

Joel Kontinen

Some songs have a clear creationist message. One of my favourites is My Cathedral, especially this version by the late country star Jim Reeves:

As the wise king Solomon wrote, “He has made everything beautiful in its time”. There are still things in this fallen world that remind us of the very good world of Genesis.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Popeye the Sailor Monkey?

Charles, we have a problem.

Joel Kontinen

The origin of South American monkeys is a big mystery for Darwinists. They believe that these monkeys originally evolved in Africa. Molecular and morphological studies suggest that the old world monkeys later found their way across the ocean to America.

The view is not entirely free from problems, however. According to conventional plate tectonics theory, Africa and South America separated about 100-120 million years ago and South America was an island roughly 3. 5 - 80 million years before our days.

Molecular studies nevertheless suggest that South American monkeys (Platyrrhini) diverged from African monkeys (Catarrhini) about 35 million years ago.

The monkeys must have found a way to cross the ocean. Darwinists thus believe that the plucky simians travelled on rafts.

And since no orthodox evolutionist will doubt the reliability of dating methods, the only viable explanation is that at least some old earth monkeys were fearless sailors.


Luskin, Casey. 2010. Sea Monkey Hypotheses Refute the NCSE’s Biogeography Objections to Explore Evolution. Evolution News and Views. (2 March.)

Saturday, 6 March 2010

The mother of all bats could probably echolocate like modern bats

Bats have hardly changed their habits. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Last week, Nature published a study on bats that challenges current views of the ability of the earliest bats to use echolocation. Previously, researchers had assumed that the oldest bat Onychonycteris finneyi, dated at “52 million years", was unable to echolocate.

Nina Veselka and her colleagues examined 26 modern bat species using microcomputed tomography and compared them to the mother of all bats. They concluded that even Onychonycteris finneyi could probably echolocate since ”its stylohal bones may have articulated with its tympanic bones”, i.e. its bones in the throat were probably connected to its bone in the ear region just like in modern bats.

Once again we notice that many species tend to have very conservative habits. They remain unchanged for surprisingly long aeons.


Veselka, Nina, David D. McErlain, David W. Holdsworth, Judith L. Eger, Rethy K. Chhem, Matthew J. Mason, Kirsty L. Brain, Paul A. Faure and M. Brock Fenton. 2010. A bony connection signals laryngeal echolocation in bats. Nature 463, 939-942. (18 February)

Could Adam’s sin have retroactive effects?

In his new book, William Dembski discusses whether sin could have an effect on creation before Adam’s Fall.

Joel Kontinen

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul explicitly writes that death came to the world because of man’s sin. For those who believe in an old earth this causes a problem since the fossil record suggests that many animals died long before Adam and Eve chose to disobey God.

William Dembski, who is known for his contributions to the ID movement, addresses this issue in his new book The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World. Dembski, a professor of philosophy, says that Christians are faced with a hard choice:

"They can go with a young earth, thereby maintaining theological orthodoxy but committing scientific heresy; or they can go with an old earth, thereby committing theological heresy but maintaining scientific orthodoxy."

Dembski’s solution is a creative compromise. He points out that the Greek New Testament has two words, kairos and chronos, that refer to time. He thinks that God’s idea of time differs greatly from ours. This, as such, is a logical conclusion. It is actually an old idea that goes back to the writings of Augustine of Hippo.

However, Dembski then builds a hypothesis on the basis of these words. He suggests that while human sin causes death, it can also have retroactive effects. Thus, animals could die because of Adam’s sin before the Fall.

Terry Mortenson has shown that Dembski’s hypothesis has serious theological problems. The New Testament often uses the words kairos and chronos in the same sense. Moreover, the Bible does not lend support to the view that God would punish anyone before they do wrong.

Dembski’s book is well-written and it addresses profound theological issues, making the reader think about the gravity of sin but it does not solve the problem of pain. I’d still follow Paul.


Dembski, William A. 2009. The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World. Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing.

Mortenson, Terry. 2009. Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science. A Young-Earth Creationist Response to William Dembski. Answers Research Journal 2, no. 1:151-167.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Intelligently designed

Joel Kontinen

In Charles Darwin’s day the watch was seen as evidence for intelligent design in nature. William Paley (1743-1805) taught that a watch needed a watchmaker. Later-day Darwinists, however, especially Richard Dawkins, would want to explain everything by resorting to natural processes.

Dawkins thinks that the watchmaker is first of all blind and second, he does not even exist.

The Cog is a two-minute video clip that suggests that building a Honda requires design and co-ordination. A Honda might be designed intelligently but it pales in complexity when compared to a cell.

The cell, with its countless simultaneous processes, certainly looks like it has been designed very intelligently.