Thursday, 30 September 2010

Moses and a strong wind: a new explanation of the Red Sea crossing

Moses by Jusepe de Ribero in 1638. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Climate scientist Carl Drews and colleagues recently published a paper in PLoS ONE, discussing how the Israelites under Moses could have crossed the Red Sea without getting their feet wet.

Exodus is an intriguing description of what God can do. Drews and colleagues tried to find a naturalistic explanation of how the Israelites, who had been enslaved by the Egyptians, were able to reach safety.

Exodus describes the method Jahweh used as follows:

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.”

Drews used computer simulations to find out how the waters could have parted. He concluded that if a powerful east wind blowing at slightly over 100 kilometres (over 60 miles) per hour blew for twelve hours, it could push the waters back so that Israel would be able to cross the sea.

Drews brings up the report of a British general who in 1882 witnessed a powerful easterly wind that pushed the waters apart. According to Drews, it could have opened a land bridge for a few hours.

Commenting on the study in USA Today, Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis, says: ”The parting of the Red Sea was a miracle. It was an extraordinary act of God. Yet, God used a force of nature — wind — to bring about this miracle. But there is no need to come up with a naturalistic explanation of a supernatural event."

In any case, God rules over nature. He could freely choose how He would lead His people to freedom. The Book of Isaiah, for instance, states:

” 'I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel's Creator, your King.' This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: 'Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!' ” (Isaiah 43: 15-19).

It is good to remember that God not only did great deeds in the past but that He also works in our time.


Rice, Doyle. 2010. Study seeks to explain the parting of the Red Sea. USA Today (20 September).

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Neandertals were cleverer and more innovative than we thought

Reconstruction of a Neandertal girl. Image courtesy of Christopher P.E. Zollikofer, Anthropological Institute, University of Zurich.

Joel Kontinen

Neandertals were innovative and developed their own culture, a new study conducted at the University of Colorado -Denver discloses. Researchers had previously assumed that Neandertals were primitive cave men who at best only copied the achievements of modern man.

Julien Riel-Salvatore, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado –Denver, has discovered that this view is completely erroneous.

Riel-Salvatore studied Neandertal sites in Italy for seven years and found signs of advanced culture that up to now had only been associated with modern man. According to ScienceDaily, ”Riel-Salvatore identified projectile points, ochre, bone tools, ornaments and possible evidence of fishing and small game hunting at Uluzzian archeological sites throughout southern Italy.”

Riel-Salvatore’s research will be published in the December issue of the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. ”We are more brothers than distant cousins," he says of the relationship of Neanderthals and modern humans.

At the time of the famous Scopes money trial in 1925, the best evidence for Darwinian evolution included Neandertals, Nebraska man and Piltdown man.

Now we know that the lone tooth of Nebraska man belonged to an extinct pig-like creature, that Piltdown man was a forgery and that Neandertals were fully human, just like us.


Neanderthals More Advanced Than Previously Thought: They Innovated, Adapted Like Modern Humans, Research Shows. ScienceDaily (22 September 2010).

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Alleged: New film on the 1925 Scopes ”monkey trial”

Joel Kontinen

Inherit the Wind (1960), the Hollywood version of the 1925 Scopes ”monkey trial”, succeeded in mixing up almost all details related to the historical court drama. It attempted to describe the debate between evolution and creation as a struggle of science against outdated religious views.

Inherit the Wind misrepresented the trial egregiously. Alleged, a new, soon to be released film, takes a more realistic approach to the case. Although it also includes a fictional romantic dimension, Alleged describes the story as it really happened without re-interpreting it from a Darwinian perspective.

Alleged is directed by Tommy Hines and written by Fred Foote. William Jennings Bryan (Fred Thompson) takes on John Scopes’ attorney Clarence Darrow (Brian Dennehy) in a memorable court drama.

Alleged for instance suggests that the case for Nebraska man, based on a single tooth, is flimsy, like everything else that in 1925 was used as evidence for Darwinian evolution.

You can read more about the background of the Scopes trial here.


Mostafavi, Beata. 2010. Trailer of 'Alleged' film gives sneak peek into movie about Scopes Monkey Trial; includes local cameo and scenes from Crossroads Village. Flint Journal (13 August).

Friday, 24 September 2010

Toy car in ”ancient” rock

Joel Kontinen

Most people assume that it takes millions of years to form rocks. However, a small rock found near Brisbane, Australia, contained a toy car. In other words, it could not be much older than ten years or so, as Dr. Tas Walker explains in this brief video clip:

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

When a revolver became a fossil

This fossil is obviously not millions of years old.

Joel Kontinen

Many people think that fossils are millions of years old. But what if a fossilised animal – or thing- is only a few hundred years old?

Fiscardo is a small village on the Greek island of Kefalonia (Κεφαλονιά) in the Ionian Sea. Usually tourist guides remind the traveller that the island is as old as the dinosaurs that they assume lived at least 65 million years ago. Few have even heard of an interesting item on display in the museum of Fiscardo. It happens to be a partially fossilised revolver made in the 19th century.

At times, fossils can be more intriguing than we suppose. I have seen a photograph of a fossilised hat, for instance. Furthermore, a few years ago a yellow toy car was found buried inside a stone assumed to be extremely old. Yet the plastic car could not have been older than 200 years.

Skeptics might argue that the Kefalonian revolver is not a real fossil since it never was made up of organic matter. Some years ago, atheists protested the significance of a fossil hat popularised by Ken Ham. It indicated that petrification does not need millions of years.

PS. In 2002, Creation magazine had an interesting article on the stone teddy bears of Yorkshire, UK.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Bibles are being burned – but this does not interest the mainstream media

Jesus’ way led to the cross. He also promised difficult times for His followers. El Greco: Jesus Carries the Cross (1580). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

When the pastor of a tiny American church says he will burn Qur’ans, the media all over the world are abuzz with the news. Pastor Terry Jones never even carried out his threat.

But when Bibles and burned and destroyed, the mainstream media keep silent. Today, The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter reported on the persecution of Christians in Laos. Village dwellers who practice traditional religions believe that the Bible is a dangerous book, the source of bad luck and misfortune.

Laos is not the only country in which Bibles are burnt and Christians persecuted. The Voice of the Martyrs reports on many other places where it is dangerous to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Will the mainstream media ever wake up to report on the persecutions that Christians are suffering from in many countries?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Jesus and Qur’an burning

An early painting of Jesus. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

The events of 11th September 2001 have been etched indelibly on the minds of most people in the western world. The terrorist attacks in New York spoke of the vulnerability of America and left behind a deep trauma.

Even today, there is much that reminds us of the attacks and the heroic struggle of the fire fighters and other New Yorkers against the flames.

Seen against this background, it is understandable that the suggestion of building a mosque near ground zero gives rise to resentment if not anger in many Americans.

However, burning Qur’ans might not be the best way to heal this trauma. Although the hijackers vowed in the name of Allah, the New Testament offers a very different solution. Jesus does not call the warmongers blessed.

It is the peacemakers whom He calls blessed.

Muslims have hardly respected the human rights of Christians in Islamic countries. Often, the followers of Jesus have had to pay a high price for their faith. But even this does not justify burning the book that Muslims regard as holy.

That book cannot help them find the living God.

Although the Qur’an describe the Muslim god as ”Most Gracious, Most Merciful”, Islam does not know a truly merciful God. Only Christianity knows the God who cared so much for the people He created that He lived a while among them and died for their sins.

As Christians we have some idea of what grace is. Thus, we can (at least try to) show mercy towards those who refuse to believe in the Son of God instead of trying to get even with them.

This does not mean that we should compromise on the truth.

It is good to remember that even Muslims are among those whose minds ” the god of this age has blinded … so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. ”(2 Cor. 4:4).

They do not need to be offended. What they need is the genuine gospel that can open their eyes to see the truth.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Marc Hauser and scientific misconduct: Is this an example of evolution-based morality?

Nature has covered Marc Hauser’s case in detail.

Joel Kontinen

Marc Hauser, an evolutionary psychologists at Harvard University, who has been under investigation for alleged scientific misconduct, has been found guilty.

A well-known scientist, Hauser's research has been published in prestigious journals such as Science and Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Hauser has researched primate cognition. Like other evolutionary psychologists, he has attempted to interpret human psychology on the basis of the psychology of our assumed animal ancestors.

Other researchers have been unable to verify the reliability of Hauser’s monkey experiments. The tests suggested that monkeys have cognitive skills that they apparently do not have.

Hauser’s case is somewhat ironic since he believes that moral conduct can be explained by evolution without appealing to religion. In his book Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong (HarperCollins, 2006) Hauser says that ”the Darwinian pulpit” is a better explanation of morals than the church and religion. He thinks that morals based on religion are dangerous.

The Harvard inquiry found Hauser guilty of eight instances of scientific misconduct.

A tree is known by its fruit. Right now, the fruit of evolution do not appear to be very succulent.


Ledford, Heidi. 2010. Harvard probe kept under wraps. Nature 466:7309, 908-909. (19 August).

Luskin, Casey. 2010. When Evolutionary Psychology Collides With Morality. Evolution News &Views (27 August).

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

James Lee: A gunman who based his worldview on Darwin and Malthus

Joel Kontinen

Ideas have consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences. Recently, the media told us about a gunman named James Lee who marched with his demands to the headquarters of Discovery Channel and took hostages.

Lee thought that humans are the root of all evil, parasites who are destroying the world: ” Children represent FUTURE catastrophic pollution whereas their parents are current pollution.” He demanded Discovery Channel to broadcast more programmes on evolution: ”Talk about Evolution. Talk about Malthus and Darwin until it sinks into the stupid people's brains until they get it!!!”

The police shot Lee before he could harm his hostages.

The media have been rather reticent on Lee’s evolution connection and emphasised his other extreme views. However, it would not be fair to protect Darwin at the expense of the truth.

In a recent blog post, David Klinghoffer says:

My purpose here, of course, isn't to suggest that Darwinism drives people mad or anything like that, but merely to point out, as I've done in the past, the strange attraction Darwinian theory exerts on some people who are crazy, or wicked, or both. This is a truth that's suppressed again and again, yet it remains true.”

Klinghoffer then lists a number of recent cases in which individuals who espoused the writings of Charles Darwin resorted to very desperate deeds. ”Witness the recent examples of Holocaust Memorial Museum shooter James von Brunn, Columbine High School shooter Eric Harris, Jokela High School shooter Pekka Eric Auvinen.” He also mentions some historical figures, such as Josef Mengele.

Might the reason for the recent incident lie in the hopeless ideology that Darwin wrote about?


Klinghoffer, David. 2010. James J. Lee, Hostage-taker and Darwinist. Evolution News & Views. (1 September).

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Stephen Hawking makes headlines with his views on non-theistic creation

Stephen Hawking. Image courtesy of NASA.

Joel Kontinen

"Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

Professor Stephen Hawking has been making headlines with his recent statements. He believes that thanks to natural laws, such as the law of gravity, ”the universe can and will create itself from nothing” and God was not needed in the creation business.

Hawking is obviously using the media to get attention for his soon-to-be-released book The Grand Design, co-written by US physicist Leonard Mlodinow.

Stephen Hawking brings up the existence of exoplanets or extrasolar planets as an argument against the supernatural creation of the universe. The idea is interesting since exoplanets basically falsify all known naturalistic theories of planet formation. Moreover, in many cases hot Jupiters orbit surprisingly near their sun. Some Earth-like planets orbit their sun nearer than Mercury our Sun.

The conditions on these worlds would be somewhat inhospitable. Exoplanets speak of the uniqueness of the planet we call Earth.

The idea of multiverses or multiple universes, though popular among some non-theists, is not based on sound science. There is no real evidence to support it.

A major problem in invoking the laws of physics in creation is that although they explain how things work, they do not say anything about how things were originally made.

The idea that everything could come from natural laws that after all do not take a physical form defies logic. In her recently published book The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power (Encounter Books, New York, 2010) British journalist Melanie Phillips suggests that the idea of the spontaneous formation of the universe amounts to magic.


Lopez, Kathryn Jean. 2010. Melanie Phillips on a World Gone Mad. National Review Online (20 May).

Statham, Dominic. 2010. A revealing insight into European and world politics. A review of The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power by Melanie Phillips. (31 August).

Stephen Hawking: God did not create Universe.
BBC news 2 September 2010.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Dishonest reporting: When the media made a Jew into a Palestinian

Joel Kontinen

The media have often failed to report Near East news honestly. Ten years ago, (30 September 2000) the New York Times and several other papers published a photo in which an Israeli policeman was depicted as about to strike a wounded and bleeding Palestinian boy with his baton at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The second intifada had just begun.

The caption turns the facts upside down. The ”Palestinian boy” in the photo was actually an American Jew, a student from Chicago. The Palestinians were chasing after him, trying to kill him. The ”cruel” policeman was protecting the Jewish boy who was running for his life.

Recently, Tuvia Grossman (the Jewish boy in the photo) met the policeman who saved his life.

Unfortunately, time and again, the western media misrepresent the events in the Near East. (Read more here and here.)