Sunday, 28 November 2010
Charles Darwin is not very popular in east Asia. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Skeptics often claim that creationism is an American invention that only in recent decades has made its way into Europe. However, a new survey made for Nature and Scientific American shows that surprisingly many people in China and Japan also doubt Darwin.
Conducted as an Internet survey, it asked readers of Scientific American about their views of evolution and the origin of the universe. SA is a typical popular science magazine that markets Darwinian evolution, so one would assume that its readers would take a very positive attitude to Darwinism.
The questions did not deal with the origin of man but on the ability of evolution and natural selection to explain the diversity we see in nature.
The results were to some extent a disappointment for the magazine. According to the survey, a surprisingly large percentage of readers in China (49%) and Japan (35%) doubt Darwinian evolution. This is strange since China is still a communist country (it does have a large Christian minority of probably over 100 million, though) and Shintoism and other Japanese traditional beliefs could well be compatible with Darwinism. Unlike many other faiths, Shintoism does not even have holy texts.
Probably only well-educated people in China and Japan read an American magazine (that however is translated into Chinese and Japanese) so that Darwinists cannot claim that the views of a few only ladies could have distorted the findings.
The real explanation might be very different: in high-tech countries many people know that a computer programme needs to be designed and that DNA resembles an intelligently designed code.
Cyranoski, David. 2010. A Global Survey of the Scientifically Literate Public Reveals a Pacific Divide on Key Issues in Science. Nature 467:7314, 388-389.
Somewhat younger algae. Image courtesy of Eric Guinther, Wikipedia.
Researchers assume they have found new living fossils. The algae living at a depth of over 200 metres (650 feet) in the waters of New Zealand belong to the genera Palmophyllum and Verdigellas.
Recently, professor Frederick Zechman of California State University at Fresno and colleagues published a study on the genetic makeup of these algae in the Journal of Phycology. The researchers concluded on the basis of the algae’s DNA that they are closely related to algae they assume are a billion years old.
Although there are no fossils of so old algae, professor Zechman suggests that they are living fossils.
Evolution is often defined as change over time but it seems to have forgotten to change many species. For instance, the Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae), squids, octopuses, tuataras, horseshoe crabs and dragonflies have resisted Darwinian change for aeons.
Deep-sea algae may be 'living fossils'. Physorg. com (19 November).
Walker, Matt. 2010. Ancient seaweed is living fossil. BBC News (18 November).
Saturday, 27 November 2010
Professor Philip Skell doubted this scenario. Image courtesy of José-Manuel Benito Álvarez, Wikipedia.
Philip S. Skell, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, died last Sunday at the age of 91.
Skell, a professor of chemistry, was famous for his work in carbene chemistry. Later he found out that Darwinian explanations were often completely unnecessary. Evolution was not the cornerstone of science that many had assumed.
He realised that the scientific community often discriminated against those who dared to doubt Darwinian evolution.
Together with hundreds of other critics of neo-Darwinian evolution, he signed the document A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.
In 2005 he criticised Darwinism in a famous article in The Scientist. He for instance said:
”Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive – except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed – except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.”
Professor Skell thought that Darwinian explanations were redundant.
Luskin, Casey. 2010. Giving Thanks for Dr. Philip Skell. (25 November).
Skell, Philip S. 2005. Why do we invoke Darwin? Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology. The Scientist 19(16):10 (29 August).
Jennie A. Brownscombe: The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth (1914). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Last Thursday, Americans celebrated Thanksgiving. The early settlers had a tradition of giving thanks to God for a good harvest and the last Thursday in November has during subsequent centuries been part and parcel of the American heritage.
Recently, LifeScience editors Jeremy Hsu, Stephanie Pappas, Wynne Parry and Jeanna Bryner suggested a way for altering this tradition. They recommend that we should thank science for all the good that it has given us.
Few people would deny that science has brought about many good things. The medical sciences have given us cures to many diseases, and microscopes and telescopes have enabled us to understand life both on the micro and the macro level. However, science has also brought us some bad things, such as pollution, atom bombs and land mines.
That what the LifeScience editors advice us to do reminds us of a tradition that skeptics have embraced in recent years, i.e. celebrating the birthday of a man instead of Jesus at Christmas.
These ”free thinkers” obviously failed to realise that they will actually celebrate the birthday of the best-known creation scientist of all times, a man who wrote about Bible prophecies and definitely believed in a recent supernatural creation.
Sir Isaac Newton wrote, for instance:
” This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. … The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.”
Newton praised the Almighty God for His wisdom. In contrast, skeptics hope to deny His existence and praise man’s achievements instead.
10 Science Discoveries to Be Thankful for. LiveScience 24 November 2010.
Thayer, H. S. 1953, Newton’s Philosophy of Nature: Selections From His Writings. New York: Library of Classics.
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Sir Isaac Newton's portrait by Godfrey Kneller (1702). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
What does a skeptic do when he doesn’t want to celebrate Jesus’ birthday but he still wants to get presents? He invents an alternative festival.
Michael Shermer and other American skeptics are busy marketing Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday that they will celebrate on 25th December.
Skeptics have a rather quaint logic: they reject Jesus and replace Him with Newton, who was a Bible-believing scientist and like Wernher von Braun, the father of the Apollo space programme, he was a biblical creationist.
Spread a little skeptic cheer this year! E-Skeptic 24 November 2010.
Sunday, 21 November 2010
A British married couple associates faith with gods, new age, evolution and aliens in their ”new” worldview. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
When people reject classical Christianity, they espouse ideas that are often rather irrational.
Glenn and Jill Harrison market an exotic ideology in which they mix Christianity, other religions, new age, spiritism and evolution into a thick soup.
Glenn Harrison says that his wife Jill is an avatara, who receives messages from beings they assume are archangels. Their doctrine is based on these messages.
A spirit being called Metatron has revealed that mankind’s goal is to ”further the evolution of the universe. The Creator learns from the development of the different species.”
This thinking is far from classical Christianity with its omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipotent (all-powerful) Creator God.
They think that the followers of all religions worship the same god. They believe that man’s problem is not sin but negative thoughts that we should get rid of.
This has nothing to do with Christianity. Jesus says He is the only way to God.
The Apostle Paul warned his readers of a false gospel:
”But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (Gal. 1:8).
At some point one begins to suspect that the Harrisons have read too much Dan Brown: They seem to believe that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, who had to flee persecution to France. There Mary gave birth to twins, Evangeline and Sarah.
In addition to Gnosticism and evolution, a good new age soup also needs a UFO connection. Accordingly, the Harrisons will tell us that aliens visit us regularly in order to save us from destruction.
The Harrisonian new age soup is nothing new. Of the fathers of evolution, Alfred Russel Wallace was a spiritist and some time later Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest, tried to build a quasi-Christian belief system based on evolution.
In our days, Deepak Chopra, who is known for his alternative medicine, and pastor Michael Dowd have creatively combined religion and evolution.
” The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” Solomon said in Proverbs.
But when one replaces the Lord with questionable human philosophies, one gets a bizarre new age soup.
Rationality and credibility remain outside the bowl.
A New Belief. com.
Saturday, 20 November 2010
Jesus’ way went to the cross. Nowadays many Christians are being persecuted for their faith. El Greco (1580): Christ Carrying His Cross. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Persecutions are nothing new to Christians. Jesus predicted them and according to early Christian tradition all the apostles except John were martyred for their faith.
Persecutions have not abated in all parts of the world. Especially North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, China, Pakistan, Iran, Eritrea and Vietnam mistreat Christians.
In many Muslim countries, conversion to Christianity is punishable by death. All too few people in the West know or are willing to speak about this glaring breach of human rights.
Next Sunday (November 21st) is an International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. There are surprisingly many persecuted Christians in the world, approximately 200 million.
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Researchers at the European Nuclear Research Centre (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, say they have succeeded in trapping antimatter for a sixth of a second. Although that does not sound like an aeon, in the world of captured anti-hydrogen atoms, it is a longish time.
The scarcity of antimatter is a problem for naturalistic views of cosmology.
”According to the current understanding of physics, the big bang should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter. However, the universe that we know could not have come about since matter and antimatter would have annihilated each other”, says Paula Eerola, professor of particle physics at the University of Helsinki, Finland.
The big bang has other serious problems as well, for instance the assumed inflation at the beginning that lacks any empirical evidence and defies the laws of physics to boot. In addition, early galaxies grew too fast for the big bang.
Astronomers have often had to prop up the big bang with auxiliary assumptions. In a sense, the big bang with its hard-to-believe additions resembles Hinduism - and can hardly be kept neat with the help of Occam’s razor.
Why is there something instead of nothing? is a question to which naturalistic origins models do not have an answer. The fine tuning of the cosmos has in any case prevented the universe from exploding into pieces at the very beginning.
Antimatter captured by CERN scientists in dramatic physics breakthrough. The Telegraph. 19 November 2010.
Tutkijat vangitsivat antimateriaa. Aamulehti. 19 November 2010, A18.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
Genesis says that there was plenty of water on Earth from the beginning. Image courtesy of NASA.
”Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” This is how Genesis describes the birth of our planet.
Astronomers who believe in the Nebular Hypothesis or some other natural explanation of how the solar system was formed have assumed that in the beginning Earth was too hot for liquid water.
The origin of the Earth’s oceans has been a mystery for astronomers. They have suggested that comets might be a plausible source of water. However, the water on comets differs considerably from the water we find on Earth. Asteroid impacts cannot solve the riddle, either, since their elements differ from those on Earth. For instance, they have more platinum than we have.
Nora de Leeuw, a chemist at University College London, and her colleagues made a computer simulation of Earth's birth process. They conclude that dust particles could be able to cling on to water at 630 degrees Celsius ( 1,166 degrees Fahrenheit). They thus suggest that there could have been liquid water on Earth from the very beginning.
Recently, they published their research results in the journal Chemical Communications.
Although the basic premise of Leeuw and her colleagues probably differs considerably from that what Moses wrote in Genesis, their research brings up serious weaknesses in naturalistic origin hypotheses and suggests that Moses knew what he was writing about when he said that there was water on earth at the very beginning:
” And God said, 'Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.' And it was so. God called the dry ground 'land,' and the gathered waters he called 'seas.' And God saw that it was good. ” (Genesis 1:9-10).
Shiga, David. 2010. Earth may have had water from day one. New Scientist 2785 (5 November).
A modern shrimp. Image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), via Wikipedia.
The shrimp has hardly changed in ”360 million years”. A 70 millimetre (2.75 inches) long fossil recently found in Oklahoma is thought to be the oldest shrimp in the world.
The fossil discovery, published last week in The Journal of Crustacean Biology, is exceptional in that the muscles of the shrimp have been preserved well.
The shrimp looks just like its modern relatives some people are fond of eating.
Evolution is often defined as change but shrimps have remained shrimps for aeons. Similarly, the fossil record shows us that damselflies have remained damselflies, that a squid remains a squid, a Coelacanth remains a Coelacanth, a horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) remains a horseshoe crab and a tuatara (Sphendon punctatus) remains a tuatara throughout the time when dinosaurs were assumed to be turning into birds and early mammals into men.
Living fossils clearly support the Genesis model of after its kind. The biblical kinds are known for stubbornly resisting change into other kinds. Even the assumed millions of years of earth history have been unable to bring about change that would have bridged the enormous gulf between the biblical kinds.
Minogue. Kristen. 2010. ScienceShot: World's Oldest Shrimp Is Still Strong.
ScienceNOW (11 November).
Saturday, 13 November 2010
Dr Livingstone, I Presume? Stanley and Livingstone met in November 1871. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Christianity is not only theory. For Scottish missionary doctor and explorer David Livingstone (1813 - 1873) faith also meant resisting iniquity.
Although the efforts of William Wilberforce, a Christian politician, had succeeded in putting an end to slave trade in the British Empire in 1833, Arabs still captured Africans and sold them as slaves. About five times as many slaves were killed, wounded or succumbed to diseases than were eventually shipped as slaves.
Dr. Livingstone regarded slavery as a glaring iniquity and he struggled to put an end to it.
This week marks the 139th anniversary of Stanley’s and Livingstone’s historical meeting.
Dr Livingstone, I Presume? Christianity. com.
BBC:Historic Figures/ David Livingstone.
Sunday, 7 November 2010
In a new video on the BioLogos Foundation homepage, Dr. Kathryn Applegate attempts to show that ”evolutionary science reveals God’s character”. It is quite a claim.
Darwinian evolution relies on a wasteful process in which death has been present from the very beginning. Even old-earth creationist William Dembski admits that in a truly Christian worldview death is a consequence of the Fall.
Like other theistic evolutionists, the scientists and theologians at BioLogos must basically re-write the Bible to make it conform to Darwinian evolution.
Dr. Francis Collins established the BioLogos Foundation to "contribute to the public voice that represents the harmony of science and faith". By “science” he means Darwinian evolution which by definition is an unguided process – but which in BioLogos’ parlance is actually guided.
Contributors to BioLogos include Karl Giberson, Pete Enns and John Polkinghorne, none of whom advocate an orthodox view of Christianity.
Theistic evolution abounds with theological problems that cannot be solved. It distorts the Bible and God’s character and plays fast and loose with biblical history. It has to deny important biblical events such as the global flood and re-interprets it as a local deluge.
BioLogos attempts to do the impossible – combine two mutually exclusive worldviews (theistic and atheistic).
Saturday, 6 November 2010
Cavemen were no simpletons. Cave paintings at the Museo Regionale Archeologico, Palermo. Image courtesy of Bernhard J. Scheuvens, Wikipedia.
Time and again, believers in the Darwinian story are amazed by discoveries that change their view of ancient man. Recently they discovered that ancient Papuans were more sophisticated than they had assumed. Then they found that Europeans ground flour much earlier than they had thought.
There is more to come. Recently, Vincent Mourre at the University of Toulouse-Le Mirail in France and colleagues studied 127 triangular and leaf-shaped rock points found in a cave in South Africa and published their research results this week in Science.
The points were probably used in spears or knives.
According to ScienceNOW, early men knew how to ”carve with remarkable finesse. A new study suggests that cave dwellers were using a delicate stone-carving technique called pressure flaking 75,000 years ago, 55,000 years before scientists thought the technique was invented.”
Evolutionists are known for inflating dates so we should take them with a pinch of salt.
What the research shows, however, is that the Book of Genesis had it right. It tells us that early man was no simpleton but a creative being made in the image of God.
Minogue, Kristen 2010. Stone Age Toolmakers Surprisingly Sophisticated. ScienceNOW (28 October).