Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Language Evolution is a Mystery, Evolutionists Admit


There’s a huge gap between human language and chimp communication. Image courtesy of Delphine Bruyere, Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

There’s no shortage of Darwinian just so stories that attempt to explain the origin and evolution of human language. However, in a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology a team of well-known researchers including Marc Hauser, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin acknowledge that they don’t have a clue as to how humans accrued the ability to use words and put them into sentences.

Hauser et al. write:

Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved. We show that, to date, (1) studies of nonhuman animals provide virtually no relevant parallels to human linguistic communication, and none to the underlying biological capacity; (2) the fossil and archaeological evidence does not inform our understanding of the computations and representations of our earliest ancestors, leaving details of origins and selective pressure unresolved; (3) our understanding of the genetics of language is so impoverished that there is little hope of connecting genes to linguistic processes any time soon; (4) all modeling attempts have made unfounded assumptions, and have provided no empirical tests, thus leaving any insights into language's origins unverifiable. Based on the current state of evidence, we submit that the most fundamental questions about the origins and evolution of our linguistic capacity remain as mysterious as ever, with considerable uncertainty about the discovery of either relevant or conclusive evidence that can adjudicate among the many open hypotheses.”

They contrast animal and human communication, saying:

Talking birds and signing apes rank among the most fantastic claims in the literature on language evolution, but examination of the evidence shows fundamental differences between child language acquisition and nonhuman species' use of language and language-like systems. For instance, dogs can respond to a few hundred words, but only after thousands of hours of training; children acquire words rapidly and spontaneously generalize their usage in a wide ranges of contexts (Kaminski et al., 2004; Pilley and Reid, 2011). Similarly, Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee that produced the only public corpus of data in all animal language studies, produced signs considerably below the expected degree of combinatorial diversity seen in two-year old children (Yang, 2013), and with no understanding of syntactic structure or semantic interpretation.”

They also discuss mutations in the FOXP2 gene that some have associated with language evolution and conclude that this is not a viable explanation.

Concluding their paper, they state: “These are all big IFs about the nature and possibility of future evidence. Until such evidence is brought forward, understanding of language evolution will remain one of the great mysteries of our species.”

Unlike animals, humans seem to be programmed to learn language. For those who take Genesis seriously, this would not be a big surprise, as Adam was able to communicate with God from day one.


Source:

Hauser, Marc, Charles Yang, Robert Berwick, Ian Tattersall, Michael J. Ryan, Jeffrey Watumull, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin. 2014. The mystery of language evolution. Frontiers in Psychology 5 (401).






Monday, 29 December 2014

DNA ja elämän synty: viesti ei synny sattumalta

Viesti edellyttää aina lähettäjää. Tämäkään kirjoitus ei ole syntynyt itsekseen vuosimiljoonien saatossa.





Joel Kontinen

Due to a technical hitch, I posted this article on DNA and the origin of life in Finnish in this blog. Please come back tomorrow, as I hope to continue posting in English here.


Evolutionistit käyttävät veronmaksajien rahoja surutta etsiessään viestejä älykkäästä elämästä ja elämän synnystä muualla universumissa. Jos he löytäisivät vaikka kuinka pienen viestin tahansa, he pomppisivat riemusta.

Etsintä ei ole tuottanut tulosta.

Viesti edellyttää aina lähettäjää. Edes metsästä löytynyt kaiverrus ei ole voinut syntyä sattumalta. Mielikuvitusolento ei myöskään ole voinut saada sitä aikaan. Viestin lähettäjä tuntee ainakin joitakin latinalaisten aakkosten kirjaimia ja melko yleismaailmallisen sydämeen liitetyn symboliikan.

Me ja muut elävät olennot olemme täynnä merkkejä suunnittelusta. Parhain esimerkki lienee DNA.

DNA sisältää elämän rakennusohjeet. Se on tihein mahdollinen tietopankki, jossa neljällä kirjaimella voidaan muodostaa kolmikirjaimisia sanoja.

Tietojärjestelmään kuuluu myös oikoluku ja automaattinen korjaus.

Microsoftin perustaja Bill Gates on todennut: ”DNA on kuin tietokoneohjelma, mutta paljon monimutkaisempi kuin mitä me pystymme tekemään.”

Monet myöntävät, että elämä ei voi syntyä sattumalta, ja jotkut ovat spekuloineet, että avaruusolentojen on täytynyt jättää oma puumerkkinsä maapallon elämään – DNA-koodin.

Tämä on silkkaa toiveajattelua. Naturalismin nimeen vannovat raamattuskeptikot ainoastaan työntävät ratkaisua kauemmaksi ulkoavaruuteen, koska myös avaruusolioiden on täytynyt syntyä jossain.

Meillä ei ole mitään todisteita siitä, että pienet vihreät pienet pystyisivät luomaan elämää – eikä edes siitä, että heitä on olemassa. He taitavat Mörri Möykyn ja apinaihmisten tavoin olla pelkkiä satuolentoja.









Sunday, 28 December 2014

Rosetta: The Origin of Earth’s Water Is Still an Enigma


Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Image courtesy of ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM, CC BY-SA IGO 3.0.





Joel Kontinen

The Rosetta spacecraft has busted a popular naturalistic theory (or should one say story?) of how Earth got its water.

According to a report published in Wired,

Countless comet impacts were thought to have delivered water to Earth not long after the planet formed 4.6 billion years ago. But new measurements from Rosetta, which is studying comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, reveal that the chemical signature of water in the comet is nothing like what's found in Earth's oceans.”

Measured by a mass spectrometer on board the Rosetta spacecraft, the deuterium/hydrogen ratio of the comet’s water is roughly three times bigger than the corresponding ratio on Earth.

This has prompted researchers to conclude that Earth’s waters cannot have come from comets.

Some scientists believe that Earth had liquid water from the very beginning. This would be in agreement with the creation account in Genesis.

Moreover, earlier this year, Canadian scientists found evidence of “massive amounts” of subterranean water on Earth.

Source:

Woo, Marcus. 2014. Rosetta gives first clues on origin of Earth's water. Wired (11 December).

Friday, 26 December 2014

Soft Tissue and Carbon-14 in Dino Fossils: Big Problem for Evolutionists


Image courtesy of the Institute for Creation Research.





Joel Kontinen

Soft tissue should not last millions of years. Neither should one expect to find radiocarbon (C-14) in bones assumed to be tens of millions of years old.

C-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years. In effect this means that a bone assumed to be over 100,00 years old should not have any measurable amounts of radiocarbon left.

But they do. Nevertheless, as naturalistic/materialistic dogma is infallible in the eyes of some if not most of the beholders, they cannot allow the facts to spoil a good theory.



Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Purpose of Christmas: The Incarnation of God


Image courtesy of Ligonier.org.


Joel Kontinen

There’s one thing that mankind has succeeded in. Just watch the news, and you’ll see what I mean. It is making this world far less than an optimal place to be in.

This syndrome hails from the beginning of human history. Known as the Fall, it marks man’s rebellion against his Maker. Its consequences are evident everywhere in the world.

However, God, who created us in His image, knew this sad state of affairs. He stepped into human history as a being just like us to provide the ultimate antidote to sin, disease and suffering.

The first Christmas brought good news of great joy for all people who are willing to accept God’s Christmas present, the best He could give – Himself.



Monday, 22 December 2014

Sheep-Sized Dinos Explain How Animals Survived the Flood


Image courtesy of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR).




Joel Kontinen

Some dinosaurs were huge. Others were small. But it seems that at least the bigger dinos had a rapid growth spurt (two years or something like that) during which they grew to be really huge.

Noah probably took young dinosaurs on board the ark. They would not be too huge and they would reach full maturity just after the Flood.

The ark was enormous, so there would be enough room for two individuals of every kind of animal on board.



Saturday, 20 December 2014

Why Christmas Is Dangerous




Joel Kontinen

While the Gospel of John is silent about the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, it goes back in time to the very beginning of the universe.

It also discloses why some people are afraid of the Lord Jesus. He is the true Light; as they love moral darkness and shun the light, they have reason to be afraid.

Thus, some will claim that the letters C-H-R-I-S-T in Christmas cause them anxiety.

However, in Spain buses will display the Feliz Navidad ('Merry Christmas') sign, and there is no dispute about whose birth it refers to. Christmas evening is Nochebuena ('good evening'). The good has to do with the birth of Christ. Almost every town, village, shopping centre and even hotel has its belen, featuring Jesus, Mary, Joseph and a host of other characters including shepherds, wise men, fishers and farmers.

Feliz navidad!

And remember: God’s perfect love casts away fear.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Power of the After Its Kind Principle



Joel Kontinen

Dry landscapes provide an interesting laboratory into the After Its Kind principle mentioned in Genesis.

When the weather is really dry for months or perhaps years on end, everything looks dead. However, rain does wonders to a bush that looked like it would never revive.

This happened recently on the Spanish island of Lobos in the Canary Isles. The very same kinds that had been dormant for ages were suddenly very green – like they were programmed to resume their life after a long slumber.

Each species and each kind seemed to know what kind of bush or flower it would become.
We live in a logical world. Darwinian mechanisms cannot explain reality.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Christmas: God Gave a Lamb to Take Away Our Sins



Joel Kontinen

Throughout the Bible, a lamb symbolizes purity and our need to atone for our trespasses.

However, that is something we cannot do. God, who knows everything, knew this and so He provided a means for our atonement.

Adam’s sin brought bad things to our world. Christmas marks the time when God sent His Lamb – the Lord Jesus Christ – to the world to eventually provide the ultimate sacrifice for sin.

Without the initial trespass in Eden there would be no need for Bethlehem that was the first step towards Calvary where the Lamb of God took away our sins.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Big Dino-Age Mammal “Rewrites Early Mammalian History"


The animal probably looked like a modern groundhog (pictured above). Image courtesy of April King, Wikipedia (GNU Free Documentation License).



Joel Kontinen

According to Darwinian dogma, big mammals were not supposed to live during the heyday of the dinosaurs. However, research has shown that this is false.

Recently, scientists “unearthed in Madagascar the fossil of a remarkable creature resembling a big groundhog that lived about 66 million years ago and, at about 20 pounds (9 kg), was enormous compared to most other mammals of the Mesozoic Era.”

The researchers dubbed the animal Vintana sertichi. The first part of the name means luck in the Malagasy language.

However, when it comes to orthodox Darwinism, the find was not such as stroke of luck as they would believe as it shows that once again, their theory was wrong.

Source:

Dunham, Will. 2014. Ancient critter from Madagascar rewrites early mammalian history. Reuters (5 November).



Saturday, 13 December 2014

A Huge Genetic Gap Separates Humans and Chimps

Image courtesy of the Institute for Creation Research.




Joel Kontinen

The genetic difference between humans and chimps has been evolving, if one could use that word. However, the change has gone in the wrong direction – i.e., the gulf separating us and them has become wider and wider.

Well, perhaps it might be more honest to say that the difference has not increased but now researchers have learnt of differences they were previously unwilling to acknowledge – at least partly for ideological reasons.

Museums used to put the difference at 1–2 per cent, then it became 5 – 6, then a whopping 23 and the latest figure is around 30 per cent.

The journal Nature acknowledged that the Y chromosomes of the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and humans are horrendously different from each other”.

We share 50 per cent of our genes with bananas without being half bananas, but that is an entirely different story.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Atheists’ Dilemma: The Existence of the Good


Image courtesy of Ligonier.org.


Joel Kontinen

In a Darwinian dog-eat-dog world, there should be no incentive for anyone to be good, as it really does not matter. Atoms just keep on bumping into each other in a callous universe.

But many of us know empirically that both good and evil do exist. The ultimate explanation for this is a cosmic battle between the forces of light and the armies of darkness described in the Bible.

Atheists might try to trap Christians by invoking the existence of evil. However, they can’t explain why there is so much good, even altruism, in the world.

The Bible tells us about God who loved us so much that He was willing to become poor for our sake, and to die for us to bring us into His everlasting kingdom – if only we choose to welcome Him.



Saturday, 6 December 2014

Evolutionary Logic Is Like Chasing Tails, Scientist Says


Image courtesy of John Storr, Wikipedia. Evolutionary logic is even more complicated, as in it the lion would chase its own tail.


Joel Kontinen


Zoologist Ann Gauger has for instance tested how enzymes are supposed to evolve, but she has noticed that they cannot.

In an article discussing enzyme evolution, doctor Gauger says: “If you start with the assumption that evolution is true, and view all evidence through those glasses, you won't even notice that your argument chases its tail.”

Looks like circular reasoning.

She says that since scientists agree that modern enzymes can't evolve genuinely new functions, they have to believe that things must have worked in different ways in the past. But that is an assumption that science cannot verify.

In other words, fact-free Darwinian storytelling does not merit being called science.


Source:

Ann Gauger 2014. Is Evolution True? Laying Out the Logic (December 5).


Friday, 5 December 2014

Evolution: A Tale of Two Trees of Life


Image courtesy of the Institute for Creation Research.




Joel Kontinen


Darwinian evolution suffers from a chronic lack of valid evidence for the theory. It postulates a tree of life but even evolutionists would agree that it does not exist.

Instead of resembling a tree, the fossil record looks more like a bush or an orchard – just like what believers in creation have said all along.


Mrs Jesus According to New Christmas Tale

Carlo Crivelli (circa 1435–circa 1495): Mary Magdalene. Image courtesy of Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).




Joel Kontinen

At Christmas and Easter time we usually almost always see headlines about amazing new Bible discoveries that attempt to re-write history.

This time, filmmaker and amateur archaeologist Simcha Jacobovici teamed up with York University religious studies Professor Barrie Wilson to disclose new "facts" about Mrs Jesus.

Jacobovici is known for his involvement in past controversies, such as the discovery of Jesus’ tomb nails, Jesus’ tomb and the family tomb of Jesus.

Readers of Dan Brown’s fiction would guess that the lady is Mary Magdalene. Jacobovici, who is not afraid of controversy (and obviously welcomes the attention and remuneration it brings), claims that she was "not just Mrs. Jesus. She's a co-deity, a co-Redeemer."

How did he come up with this bizarre view?

He found an ancient manuscript in the British Library. The text was written almost 500 years after the New Testament gospels. An article in Huffington Post has more details:

“The ‘The Lost Gospel’ is built around a new interpretation of an ancient text, ‘The Story of Joseph and Aseneth.’ Jacobovici and Wilson studied a 1,500-year-old Syriac-language version of the story in the London library.

Most religious scholars think the text explains why the Hebrew patriarch Joseph came to marry a gentile, but Wilson and Jacobovici say it is a coded tale that actually relates the story of Jesus, his wife and their children.


It is no surprise that most experts are not at all convinced.

Neither am I.


Source:

Lawless, Jill, 2014. Jesus Married Mary Magdalene And Had Kids, Controversial Researcher Simcha Jacobovici Claims. The Huffington Post (12 November).


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Turkish Minister Claims Muslims Busted Flat Earth Thinking

Not so flat. Image included in the 1550 edition of De sphaera mundi (On the Sphere of the World). The book was originally published in 1230. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen


Recently, Turkish politicians have come up with interesting views about the history of science. First, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that Muslims discovered the Americas in the 12th century. Then Science, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Işık revealed that Muslim scientists led by al-Khwarizmi discovered that the world was round – at a time when Europe had its darkest ages.

Or were they so dark after all?

Many people still believe that intellectual darkness prevailed in Europe during the Medieval Period (i.e., from roughly AD 500 to AD 1500). They assume that even the few scholars who existed at the time thought that the earth was flat.

However, it would be very difficult to find any reputable medieval source that could corroborate this view. Most scholars who wrote on the shape of the earth said that our planet was round.

One of the earliest writers to do so was the English monk known as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede (673–735). In his book De temporum ratione (On the Reckoning of Time), he explicitly stated that the earth was round.

Iohannes de Sacrobosco (ca. 1195–1256) was a monk and an astronomer who wrote an entire book on the shape of the earth. Entitled De sphaera mundi (On the Sphere of the World), it was published in 1230. His argumentation sounds very modern:

THE EARTH A SPHERE. -- That the earth, too, is round is shown thus. The signs and stars do not rise and set the same for all men everywhere but rise and set sooner for those in the east than for those in the west; and of this there is no other cause than the bulge of the earth. Moreover, celestial phenomena evidence that they rise sooner for Orientals than for westerners. For one and the same eclipse of the moon which appears to us in the first hour of the night appears to Orientals about the third hour of the night, which proves that they had night and sunset before we did, of which setting the bulge of the earth is the cause.”

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) was probably the greatest theologian of the Middle Ages. In his Summa Theologica, he described the earth as being round like a ball. He pointed out that it was not shaped like a shield.

In addition to books, we can also see evidence for a spherical earth in the symbols that the rulers of the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire used. A coin minted during the reign of Emperor Theodeseus II (who ruled from AD 408 to AD 450) already shows the Globus Cruciger, which is Latin for “cross-bearing orb”. The cross symbolises the victory of Christ on the cross and the orb beneath it depicts the shape of the Earth.

The Globus Cruciger became a symbol of imperial power. For instance, a 7th century coin depicts Emperor Leontius holding this object.

A medieval painting shows Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor (1017–1056), being presented with this symbolic sphere. And a 13th century painting shows Emperor Fredrick I Barbarossa holding the Globus Cruciger in his hand.

It looks very round.

For many centuries, the Globus Cruciger was used as a symbol in the crown jewels of several European monarchies.

It thus seems that there is no historically sound basis for the belief that people in the Medieval Period thought that the earth was flat like a pancake.

But the Jews already knew that the earth was round in the 7th century B.C. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “He [God] sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers” (Isaiah 40:22, NIV).



Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Anti-Slavery Day: Remembering William Wilberforce


Karl Anton Hickel’s portrait of William Wilberforce (1759–1833). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

For millions of people, regardless of whether they are child soldiers dragging their heavy rifles in the African bush, East European women forced into prostitution or little Asian kids drudging long hours in factories, slavery is an all-too-real part of their daily life.

The United Nations estimates that currently “21 million women, men and children are trapped in slavery all over the world.”

Slavery robs them of their human dignity.

Today, on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, it is good to remember that many of the pioneers in the struggle against enslaving other human beings were Christians.

Even some sceptics will acknowledge that it was the undaunted efforts of William Wilberforce (1759–1833), a Christian politician, that succeeded in putting an end to the slave trade in the British Empire in 1833.

Missionary doctor and explorer David Livingstone (1813 - 1873) fought against the slave trade that was rampant in Africa.

Following Jesus’ example, many Christians have sought to ease the plight of the oppressed and downtrodden. Seen from an evolutionary perspective, this is difficult to understand but it serves to show that the Christian gospel is a holistic phenomenon.

Source:

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Earth's Magnetic Field: Fine-Tuning Protects Us from Radiation


A cross section of the Van Allen radiation belts. Image courtesy of NASA.




Joel Kontinen

Life as we know it could not exist if Earth did not have a magnetic field which protects us from charged particles emanating from the Sun.

Earth’s magnetic field forms the Van Allen radiation belts. According to an article in New Scientist:

“Far above Earth, this high-energy radiation from space can damage satellite electronics and pose serious health risks to astronauts. The particles also constantly charge towards the planet's surface, but luckily an invisible shield of plasma bent into a doughnut shape by Earth's magnetic field … keeps radiation at bay.”

Luckily?

Recent research disclosed an interesting detail:

A phenomenon called ‘plasmaspheric hiss’ seems to be responsible: very low-frequency electromagnetic waves just inside the boundary of the plasma shield that sound like hissing static when played through a speaker.”

What the article did not include was an admission that Earth’s magnetic field was most probably much stronger in the past, which might explain the long life spans of early humans living before the global flood of Noah’s day.


Source:

Graham, Flora. 2014. Invisible hissing doughnut is Earth's radiation shield. New Scientist (27 November).

Friday, 28 November 2014

No Conflict Between True Science and the Bible, Prominent British Scientist Says

A model of the Envisat satellite. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Professor Burgess took part in designing a solar array for the satellite.




Joel Kontinen


Dr. Stuart Burgess, Professor of Engineering Design at Bristol University, writes in his foreword to the book Inside the Nye Ham Debate:

As a scientist I know that there is no conflict between true science and the Bible. I have carried out many experiments on biological systems and found them to contain solid evidence of purposeful design. In contrast, I have never seen experimental evidence that one could use to support evolution.

In his debate with Ken Ham, Bill Nye, who is not a scientist, claimed that belief in creation was detrimental to science. In contrast, Professor Burgess says:

“I totally disagree with Bill Nye that denying evolution hinders the development of technology. My belief in creation actually helps me develop technology because my high view of nature encourages me to copy the designs of nature. I believe my successful career has been partly due to my belief in biblical creation.”

Professor Burgess and his team have for instance designed a solar array for the Envisat satellite and a tiny flying robot that flies like a dragonfly.

They drew inspiration from the design they saw in nature.


Source:

Ham, Ken and Bodie Hodge. 2014. Inside the Nye Ham Debate. Green Forest, AR: Master Books.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Self-Assembling Solar Panels: Intelligent Solution in Nature

Dinos saw self-assembling solar panels.




Joel Kontinen

Our world is full of wonders. It looks like it has been designed for a purpose. In a New Scientist article, synthetic biologist Drew Endy says:

Look at trees. They grow self-assembling solar panels that recycle themselves. There's a pine tree in my front yard that's growing about a thousand pine cones. They're growing from what, exactly? Atmospheric carbon, trace things from the earth, water and photons.”

Plants do not waste. They have been in the recycling business since the dawn of time. Recently, researchers have looked for inspiration in the solutions they see in nature. Biomimicry has become a flourishing field of hi-tech engineering.

Intelligent solutions suggest that there is intelligence behind it all. From a Christian perspective that is exactly what we would expect to see.

You can read more about biomimicry here, here, here, here, here and here.

Source:

Heaven, Douglas. 2013. Meet the man writing a language to program life. New Scientist 2932 28-29.




Monday, 24 November 2014

Saturn Keeps Earth Habitable, Research Shows


Saturn. Image courtesy of NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute.





Joel Kontinen

Many exoplanets are weird and have highly eccentric orbits. In contrast, our solar system seems to be very different.

A recent study conducted by Elke Pilat-Lohinger of the University of Vienna, Austria, points out the role of the Saturn and Jupiter in keeping Earth friendly to life.

Using computer models, Dr. Pilat-Lohinger examined how “changing the orbits of these two giant planets might affect the Earth.”

Reporting on the research, New Scientist writes:

“Earth's orbit is so nearly circular that its distance from the sun only varies between 147 and 152 million kilometres, or around 2 per cent about the average. Moving Saturn's orbit just 10 percent closer in would disrupt that by creating a resonance – essentially a periodic tug – that would stretch out the Earth's orbit by tens of millions of kilometres. That would result in the Earth spending part of each year outside the habitable zone, the ring around the sun where temperatures are right for liquid water.

It seems that Saturn’s distance from Earth is not the only parameter that matters:

Tilting Saturn's orbit would also stretch out Earth's orbit. According to a simple model that did not include other inner planets, the greater the tilt, the more the elongation increased. Adding Venus and Mars to the model stabilised the orbits of all three planets, but the elongation nonetheless rose as Saturn's orbit got more tilted. Pilat-Lohinger says a 20-degree tilt would bring the innermost part of Earth's orbit closer to the sun than Venus.”

The research was published in the International Journal of Astrobiology.

Some time ago, Geoffrey W. Marcy, professor of astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley, acknowledged that our solar system is a rarity.

Source:


Hecht, Jeff. 2014. Saturn's calming nature keeps Earth friendly to life. New Scientist (21 November).




Saturday, 22 November 2014

All Scientists Have Unconscious Biases, Microbiologist Says

Sir Isaac Newton's portrait by Godfrey Kneller (1702). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.



Joel Kontinen

A recent article in the journal Nature on the merits of scientific fame included an interesting admission:

All scientists have unconscious biases,” Laura Piddock, a microbiologist at the University of Birmingham, UK, said.

Some people tend to think that wearing a white lab coat makes one sort of unbiased and infallible. This, of course, is by no means true. Scientists are real human beings with real hopes, aspirations and beliefs.

And biases.

Unfortunately, some scientists believe that nature is all that there is – that the supernatural sphere does not exist. For them science is not a search for the best explanation but it is a search for the best naturalistic explanation.

In contrast, the great pioneers of science, such as Sir Isaac Newton, were not biased in that way.

Science can be misused and elevated to the status of a religion.

Scientism is something that C. S. Lewis warned us about.

Source:

Woolston, Chris. 2014. Being a big name in science brings benefits. Nature (12 November).




Thursday, 20 November 2014

Fixity of Species Is a Darwinian Myth

Exposing a Darwinian fable. A zonkey or zedonk at Colchester Zoo in 2004. Image courtesy of Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).




Joel Kontinen


Anti-creationists like Bill Nye often assume that a belief in creation amounts to the fixity of species. Some time ago, synthetic biologist Drew Endy suggested:

With Darwin and the theory of evolution came a sea change in perspective. We moved from an idea of the natural world as something that doesn't change to something that does.”

There are very few, if any, creationists who believe in the fixity of species. What they believe is that living things change according to their kinds. For instance, cats change, but they will never evolve to become dogs.

The biblical concept kind does not correspond to the biological term species but is a wider concept.

Accordingly, while evolutionists were surprised to see a zonkey or a cross between a zebra and a donkey, this hybrid was to be expected in the Genesis-based model. The same applies to a liger (lion + tiger), a geep (goat + sheep) and a cross between a grizzly and a polar bear.

The change we see in these hybrids is not of the Darwinian variety. No new genetic information is added.

Source:


Heaven, Douglas. 2013. Meet the man writing a language to program life. New Scientist 2932, 28-29.



Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Humans Are a Privileged Species, New Documentary Suggests



A new documentary shows that humans are no accidents.





Joel Kontinen

Recently, sceptics like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson stressed the importance of acknowledging that we are basically nothing more than insignificant accidents that evolution never really had in mind.

In contrast, a new documentary featuring geneticist, Dr. Michael Denton, comes to a very different conclusion.

Produced by Discovery Institute, Privileged Speciesexplores growing evidence from physics, chemistry, biology, and related fields that our universe was designed for large multi-cellular beings like ourselves.”

The 33-minute document “investigates the special properties of carbon, water, and oxygen that make human life and the life of other organisms possible, and it explores some of the unique features of humans that make us a truly privileged species.”

Source:

Privileged species.com


Sunday, 16 November 2014

These Tusks Are Not for Killing: Sabre-Toothed Deer Is Still Found in Afghanistan


Moschus moschiferus is a related species. Image courtesy of Николай Усик /http://paradoxusik.livejournal.com.




Joel Kontinen

We usually associate sabre-toothed mammals with the Ice Age. However, a new study published in the journal Oryx suggests that the Kashmir musk deer Moschus cupreus still lives in Afghanistan. They lack antlers but the males grow tusks.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) researchers conducted a survey of Moschus cupreus’ habitat and concluded:

“This wildlife survey in the eastern forests of Afghanistan after decades of war indicates that the musk deer still persists there despite unregulated hunting, extensive deforestation, habitat degradation, and the absence of rule of law.”

Stephane Ostrowski and colleagues suggest that the Kashmir musk deer is endangered, however.

Tusks do not necessarily indicate ferocity. An ancient sabre-toothed animal found in Brazil preyed on plants.

Most people would associate sharp teeth with killing. However, not all animals with sharp teeth as a weapon. Pandas prey on bamboo and fruit bats drink nectar and eat tropical fruit.


Source:

Ostrowski, Stephane et al. 2014. Musk deer Moschus cupreus persist in the eastern forests of Afghanistan. Oryx, 1–6.




Friday, 14 November 2014

Dogs Are Better Learners Than Chimps


Man’s best fried is a better learner than a chimp.




Joel Kontinen

A recent study compared the skills of human infants and chimpanzees in an attempt to explain why we are much better at learning – and building culture – than chimps.

According to an article in Live Science, Edwin van Leeuwen, a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, and his colleagues “tested 23 German preschoolers and 14 chimpanzees, putting them both through almost identical experiments.”

They put three cups on a table. A reward – either a toy or food – was hidden under one of the cups. The children and the chimps were allowed to watch how the others fared in the test.

It was no surprise that the preschoolers did much better than the chimps. The apes seemed to be unable to learn from others but approached the test in a haphazard way.

”Chimps just aren't as motivated to learn from one another as humans are,” Live Science concludes.

Evolutionists used to believe – and some still do, despite the evidence – that chimps are almost humans.

Dogs are quite clever at finding such treats. Experiments have shown that they only need to take a look at the human experimenter to know where a potential treat is hidden.

This might be a big disappointment for ardent Darwinists, but in the real world dogs (as well as elephants and crows) are cleverer than apes.

While training might to some extent explain why dogs are clever, it is not to easy to say why a wild fox can be astoundingly intelligent and innovative.


Sources:

Hare, Brian, Josep Call and Michael Tomasello. 1998. Communication of Food Location Between Human and Dog (Canis Familiaris). Evolution of Communication 2 (1): 137 –159.

Pappas, Stephanie. 2014. Why Chimps Haven't Evolved Culture Like Humans. Live Science (November 12).






Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Consciousness is a Ghostly Thing In a Naturalistic World

Plants seem to have some kind of intelligence but it might be an exaggeration to say that they are conscious.




Joel Kontinen

Consciousness Is an immaterial phenomenon. For those who embrace a naturalistic /materialistic worldview it seems to be an enigma and they have tried to fill the Internet with explanations of how we can be conscious of anything.

In their evolution-based story, life has to appear from non-life (although we know that it can’t), so consciousness must also be a hard nut to crack.

Recently, Michael Graziano, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton, wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times:

How does the brain go beyond processing information to become subjectively aware of information? The answer is: It doesn’t. The brain has arrived at a conclusion that is not correct.”

However, we are much more than our brains. But Professor Graziano goes on to say:

When we introspect and seem to find that ghostly thing — awareness, consciousness, the way green looks or pain feels — our cognitive machinery is accessing internal models and those models are providing information that is wrong. The machinery is computing an elaborate story about a magical-seeming property. And there is no way for the brain to determine through introspection that the story is wrong, because introspection always accesses the same incorrect information.”

It appears that worldview determines what he thinks about consciousness. It is a “ghostly thing” and our brain is a machine.

Things are a bit more complicated in the real world that is not populated by ghosts. Our brain is a lot more than a cognitive machine: it is a marvel and it is an integral part of us.

We are the ones who are aware.

Source:

Graziano, Michael S. A. 2014. Are We Really Conscious? The New York Times (10 October).


Monday, 10 November 2014

Young Ice on Old Mercury: Dilemma for Long Ages

Mercury’s North Pole. Image courtesy of NASA.





Joel Kontinen

Finding water ice on Mercury, the solar system's innermost planet where temperatures can soar to over 430 degrees Celsius (800 degrees Fahrenheit), might be an enigma for long-agers. How could it possible survive there for millions of years?

Researchers first got to know about ice on Mercury some 20 years ago. In 2012, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft confirmed that there indeed was ice in “permanently shadowed craters” near the planet’s north pole.

Recently, researchers were able to study photos that MESSENGER sent. The images “suggest that the ice lurking within Mercury's polar craters was delivered recently, and may even be topped up by processes that continue today.”

This, of course, is an attempt to explain why there could be ice on the Sun’s next-door neighbour, a planet assumed to be billions of years old.

A more logical explanation is that Mercury is not that old at all. This view gets support from its weakening magnetic field, for instance.

There is no shortage of evidence for a young solar system. Saturn’s moons Titan, Mimas and Enceladus speak for a younger solar system, as do short-term comets.

Source:

Wall, Mike. 2014. First Photos of Water Ice on Mercury Captured by NASA Spacecraft. Space.com (October 15).


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Carl Sagan Day: Skeptics’ New Holy Day?


Skeptics are celebrating Carl Sagan Day. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL.




Joel Kontinen

It began with Darwin Day (February 12th). Then they invented Newtonmas. Now, they’re celebrating Carl Sagan Day on November 8th.

The “they” are sceptics, atheists and Darwinists. They are obviously trying to get likeminded folks to celebrate secular feasts instead of religious ones.

One might suspect that dislike (or perhaps even hatred) of Christianity is a major motive behind this trend.

While all the deceased gentlemen they are celebrating were scientists, the inclusion of Sir Isaac Newton is somewhat peculiar.

After all, he was no unbeliever.

Even sceptics will admit that Newton was one of the greatest scientists of all times. Yet he wrote more about the Bible than about science – and he believed in a literal Genesis and a young earth.

Newton wrote in Principia, Book III:

”This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. … This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called 'Lord God' Παντοκράτωρ [Pantokratōr cf. 2 Corinthians 6:18], or 'Universal Ruler'. … The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.

But Newton’s birthday happens to be on the 25th of December.


Source:

Saganday.com






Thursday, 6 November 2014

Quote Mining and the Orwellian Use of Language





Joel Kontinen

Evolutionists are fond of using language in a typically Orwellian manner. Take the expression quote mining, for instance. I have been accused of doing that more than once.

Recently, David Klinghoffer of Discovery institute posted an excellent definition of what they really mean:

‘Quote mining’ defined: When a scientist is accurately cited as saying something true but awkward for the Darwinian evolutionary cause.

How true.

Source:

Twitter


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wet Earth: Some Call It Lucky But Fine-Tuning Is a More Plausible Explanation


Water almost everywhere.




Joel Kontinen


Naturalistic explanations are not doing a good job of explaining why we live on a blue planet that differs from all other known worlds.

There seems to be no shortage of water in the universe, yet, as a recent article in New Scientist puts it, “The more we learn about how Earth acquired and retained its water, the more it seems the situation was incredibly fortuitous.”

The word fortuitous does not sound very scientific, but Earth seems to be very special place.

It is interesting that Isaiah 40:22 that speaks about the shape of our planet (a sphere) also suggests that God made it to be habitable.

In keeping with the timeframe shown in the book of Genesis, some other objects in our solar system also display signs of youth.



Source:

Zalasiewicz, Jan and Mark Williams. 2014. Weird wet worlds: Why Earth is lucky to have oceans. New Scientist 2993 (3 November).



Saturday, 1 November 2014

Evolution’s Fatal Flaws That Anti-Creationists Don’t Want to Hear About


Image courtesy of Creation Ministries International.





Joel Kontinen

Creation Ministries International (CMI) released a documentary on the fatal flaws of Darwinian evolution. According to CMI’s UK newsletter, “we believe evolution theory has no answer to these fatal flaws, once they’re properly explained and understood.”

It seems that evolutionists do not even want to hear about them. The trailer of Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels caused quite a stir in the evolution camp:

“Already there has been a lot of activity by skeptics of creation and opponents of CMI. Some weeks ago, Richard Dawkins posted our video on his own website and as a result we had 20,000 dislikes on the YouTube version of our trailer within just a few hours. During the late summer, skeptics also tagged our trailers as “not suitable” and managed to get them blocked by YouTube! CMI-USA had to lodge an appeal with YouTube in order to get them reinstated. No doubt the skeptics are very agitated by the potential of this doco film!”

Friday, 10 October 2014

Darwinism Doesn't Work, Resarchers in Nature Say

Sorry, Charlie, but the facts don't support your theory. Photograph: Julia Margaret Cameron (1868). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen


Popularisers of evolution have tended to claim that their teory is still robust and that there's no dispute in the scientific community about its credibility.

However, as the ranks of the dissenters are growing, even the pro-evolution journal Nature is beginning to indicate some doubts about orthodox Darwinism:

Charles Darwin conceived of evolution by natural selection without knowing that genes exist. Now mainstream evolutionary theory has come to focus almost exclusively on genetic inheritance and processes that change gene frequencies.

Yet new data pouring out of adjacent fields are starting to undermine this narrow stance. An alternative vision of evolution is beginning to crystallize, in which the processes by which organisms grow and develop are recognized as causes of evolution.”

In addition to the scientists who believe creation or intelligent design is a better interpretation of the data, it seems that mainline scoentists have also began to doubt the power of Darwinian processes:

Some of us first met to discuss these advances six years ago. In the time since, as members of an interdisciplinary team, we have worked intensively to develop a broader framework, termed the extended evolutionary synthesis (EES), and to flesh out its structure, assumptions and predictions. In essence, this synthesis maintains that important drivers of evolution, ones that cannot be reduced to genes, must be woven into the very fabric of evolutionary theory.

We believe that the EES will shed new light on how evolution works. We hold that organisms are constructed in development, not simply ‘programmed’ to develop by genes. Living things do not evolve to fit into pre-existing environments, but co-construct and coevolve with their environments, in the process changing the structure of ecosystems.”


This, of course, resembles that what creationists have been saying about adaptation.

The number of biologists calling for change in how evolution is conceptualized is growing rapidly. Strong support comes from allied disciplines, particularly developmental biology, but also genomics, epigenetics, ecology and social science. We contend that evolutionary biology needs revision if it is to benefit fully from these other disciplines. The data supporting our position gets stronger every day.

However, it seems that many are afraid to let the facts speak for themselves:

”Yet the mere mention of the EES often evokes an emotional, even hostile, reaction among evolutionary biologists. Too often, vital discussions descend into acrimony, with accusations of muddle or misrepresentation. Perhaps haunted by the spectre of intelligent design, evolutionary biologists wish to show a united front to those hostile to science. Some might fear that they will receive less funding and recognition if outsiders — such as physiologists or developmental biologists — flood into their field.”

As expected, Nature also gave orthodox Darwinians the chance to say that there's nothing wrong with Darwinism.

However, the facts are not on their side.

Source:

Laland, Kevin. 2014. Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? Nature 514 (7524), 161–164.