Sunday, 30 March 2014
With the Noah film making headlines, New Scientist attempts to solve what it calls the Noah's Ark problem. In the Genesis account, God directs Noah to preserve a male and female of every kind of land animal on a large seaworthy vessel that had plenty of room for them all.
However, the magazine gives an evolutionary spin on the account:
“GENETICS could help solve the Noah's Ark problem: faced with limited space, which species do you save? Focusing on the most evolutionarily unique and ancient species could allow us to save more branches of the tree of life, at the lowest cost and effort.
Now a genetic analysis has found the most unique birds and identified 113 locations that hold more than half the global avian evolutionary diversity. The findings will be used to focus conservation efforts where they will have the biggest impact.”
There are several problems with this thinking. It equates kinds with species, and it paints the entire scenario with an evolutionary brush.
It even neglects to inform the reader that the very idea of a Darwinian tree of life has fatal problems.
Coghlan, Andy. 2014. Tree of bird life could solve Noah's Ark problem. New Scientist 2962 (27 March).
Friday, 28 March 2014
With Darren Aronofsky’s Noah very much in the news, Biblical Archaeology Society joins the conversation by re-publishing an 11-year old article on Noah’s Flood written by Ronald Hendel.
Aronofsky’s Noah, featuring Russell Crowe as Noah and Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah, regards the Flood as a global cataclysm. The film has a number of extra-biblical elements, which tend to distort the Genesis account, putting too little emphasis on the Bible text.
The film’s environmental agenda is obvious. It does not depict Noah as a righteous man, and its description of Methuselah and some other characters borders on the bizarre.
What is more, it appears to add theistic evolution to Genesis.
In contrast, Genesis states unambiguously that God, the Sovereign Creatorof the universe, sent the Flood because of human sin and that exactly eight people and two animals of each kind survived it.
Hendel sticks even less closely to the biblical text than Aronofsky’s Noah. He calls the Genesis account “the legend of Noah’s Flood,” suggesting:
“Biblical scholars will tell you that the Flood Story in Genesis 6–9 derives most directly not from an actual event, but from earlier stories. The earlier stories are from ancient Mesopotamia, best known from the Gilgamesh Epic (Standard Babylonian version, c. 1100 B.C.E.) and the Atrahasis Epic (Old Babylonian, c. 1700 B.C.E.).”
I happen to be a Bible scholar who wrote my master’s thesis on Genesis but I do not subscribe to Hendel’s interpretation. He seems to rely too much on the dubious documentary theory that is mostly based on speculation instead of facts and sees Genesis as a later work.
The details in Genesis support the view that it was the original account and that like other flood legends, the Gilgamesh Epic is a distortion of it.
The ark in Genesis was a huge 150-metre (450 feet) long very seaworthy vessel that could have endured over 30 metre (90 feet) high waves. In contrast, the Gilgamesh ark was cube-formed. It would have capsized on the very first day of the Flood.
Hendel, Ronald S. 2003. The Search for Noah’s Flood. Scientists are looking in the wrong place. Biblical Archaeology Society.
Wednesday, 26 March 2014
During a recent trip to Australia, I often saw signs warning of fruit flies that carry diseases. However, flies are much more than that.
They are very clever fliers.
According to New Scientist, research conducted by Graham Taylor at the University of Oxford and colleagues “used X-rays produced by a particle accelerator at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland to peer at the muscles of a live blowfly, in order to study how it beats its wings.”
An accompanying video “focuses on the fly's thorax, highlights the muscles that help it fly.”
Researchers hope that by studying how the fly flies they could be able to build “tiny mechanical devices”.
Biomimicry can be defined as copying God’s design seen in nature. Blind Darwinian mechanisms could hardly come up with intelligent solutions worth investigating and copying.
Aron, Jacob. 2014. Surreal X-ray movie reveals how a fly beats its wings. New Scientist (25 March).
Monday, 24 March 2014
Evolutionists are fond of telling us that evolution means change over time. However, much more is needed to turn an amoeba into an astrophysicist than just slight changes once every million years or so.
And what is even worse, some animals and plants tend to resist change. A recent example is the cinnamon fern, featured in last week’s Science:
“Fossilization processes tend to destroy fine-cell structure but, exceptionally, Bomfleur et al. (p. 1376) have found examples of fossil ferns from the Jurassic in which subcellular structures, including organelles such as nuclei and chromosomes, are well-preserved. Comparative and quantative analyses show that these cells closely resemble the fossil nuclei of extant cinnamon ferns, Osmundastrum cinnamomea, which indicates that this group of ferns has remained virtually unchanged for 180 million years.”
Cytologically Informative Fossils. Science 343 (6177), 21 March 2014.
Saturday, 22 March 2014
“What the nose knows might as well be limitless, researchers suggest,” a recent Nature article states, commenting on the discovery that we may be able to detect one trillion odours.
Researchers “prepared scent mixtures with 10, 20 or 30 components selected from a collection of 128 odorous molecules. Then they asked 26 study participants to identify the mixture that smelled differently in a sample set where two of three scents were the same. When the two scents contained components that overlapped by more than about 51%, most participants struggled to discriminate between them. The authors then calculated the number of possible mixtures that overlap by less than 51% to arrive at their estimate of how many smells a human nose can detect: at least 1 trillion.”
While we cannot compete with dogs, our acuity of distinguishing between smells is amazing. With our roughly “400 types of scent receptors” we can “detect molecular components” of a particular odour.
As the psalmist wrote, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14, NKJV). It is a good reason for thanking the One who made us in His image.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to deny design in nature and in us.
Morrison, Jessica. 2014. Human nose can detect 1 trillion odours. Nature news. (20 March).
Thursday, 20 March 2014
Evolution would probably be very boring without Darwinian just so stories that like folktales attempt to explain everything we see around us.
A research highlights item in the journal Nature states:
“The adipose fin, which sits between the dorsal fin and the tail on many fishes, might have evolved separately in different fish lineages rather than once from a single ancestor. This suggests that the fin … has an adaptive purpose and can evolve into various forms, contrary to previous thinking.”
This conclusion is based on a reconstruction of “the evolutionary relationships of 232 fishes, looking at the presence or absence of adipose fins,” and it relies heavily on Darwinian assumptions.
According to similar logic, the eye must have evolved independently 40 times.
Worldviews seem to play a major role in these assumptions that tend to be relatively free of fact and full of fiction.
How the fish got its fins. Nature 507 (7491), 142. (13 March 2014).
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
It is a tiny fur ball and it looks cute. The spectral tarsier is a mere 9 centimetres (3.5 inches) tall nocturnal animal living in Sulawesi, Indonesia, but it can jump six metres (almost 20 feet).
Compared to its size, its eyeballs are huge (16 millimetres or 0.6 inches) in diameter. Like an owl, it can rotate its head 180 degrees. It communicates in ultrasound with other spectral tarsiers.
According to New Scientist, “they might be primitive on the primate family tree, but they are still pretty cool.”
The tarsier’s advanced features are evidence of intelligent design. Blind Darwinian processes are not able to create such sophistication.
Hooper, Rowan. 2014. Cute but deadly furball launches death attack. New Scientist (18 March).
Sunday, 16 March 2014
Dinosaurs were not supposed to thrive in the far north, beyond the Arctic Circle. However, a new study published in PLoS ONE reports on the discovery of several dino fossils in Alaska.
According to Nature news,
“High above the Arctic Circle, along an Alaskan river, palaeontologists have unearthed fossils of the first known tyrannosaur species at either pole. The new animal comes from so far north that it is named Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, after the Inupiat word for polar bear (nanuq).”
The researchers assume that the Arctic must have been warmer then than it is now, but they nonetheless think that the winters were cold. They believe “that relatives of Tyrannosaurus rex survived and even thrived in extreme polar environments, some 70 million years ago.”
Anthony Fiorillo, co-author of the recent PLoS ONE paper, is a palaeontologist at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas. He says:
“Both Troodon [another meat-eating dino found in the Arctic] and Nanuqsaurus would have had to cope with extreme seasonal swings. At the time they existed, Alaska was located at least as far north as today, although temperatures were warmer overall. The Arctic landscape would have experienced huge pulses of biological productivity every summer, followed by a bleak winter. Each species would have adapted in its own way to this changing environment.”
This is not the first time polar dinosaurs made news. Following discoveries of dino fossils in Alaska, in 2008 a Nova programme was entitled Arctic Dinosaurs.
Camel fossils have also been found in the Polar region.
The most logical explanation for the discovery of tropical and sub-tropical animals in the Arctic is the global flood of Noah’s day. It very probably washed the animals into an area where they did not usually live.
Moreover, it is very likely that the pre-Flood world was warmer than today’s world.
Witze, Alexandra. 2014. Diminutive dinosaur stalked the Arctic. Nature news (12 March).
Friday, 14 March 2014
We would probably not associate cavemen with moving pictures but that is exactly what an article in New Scientist does. Its title – Prehistoric cinema: A silver screen on the cave wall – already suggests that cave paintings are more sophisticated than we assumed.
It seems that seen in their original light, they provide quite a surprise:
“Catch them at dawn or dusk and you are in for a treat as the figures jump out at the viewer, rendered in 3D by the shadows of the etched grooves in the rock. The effect recalls the techniques used to create the illusion of depth in trompe l'oeil paintings,” says Frederick Baker, an archaeologist at the St Pölten University of Applied Sciences in Austria.
And just a few years ago we were taught that cavemen were simpletons. As more facts are discovered, Darwinian dogma is becoming less and less convincing.
Of course, the Genesis based model stated that humans were clever from the very beginning.
Brahic, Catherine. 2012. Prehistoric cinema: A silver screen on the cave wall. New Scientist 2896, 44–46.
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
It is not easy to understand why atheists are fond of claiming that their worldview is rational. It has to rely on naturalistic miracles that intervene at key points in the history of the cosmos and of life.
When Carl Sagan said, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be," he was not making a scientific statement but a philosophical one. One would actually have to be omniscient, i.e., have infinite knowledge in order to say that. And when the new Cosmos series makes the same statement, it is likewise philosophy that has nothing to do with science.
Natural laws cannot explain why matter emerged from nothing. It cannot tell us how and why life began from lifeless matter.
However, as Ken Ham stated in his recent debate with Bill Nye, there is a Book.
That Book was inspired by the One who knows everything and chose to tell us about the main milestones of creation in language we can understand – if we put away our blind faith in materialism and are willing to understand.
Monday, 10 March 2014
Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series included his belief in a purely materialistic universe: Time and again he claimed: “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be."
This, of course, is not a scientific claim but rather a philosophical one.
The new Cosmos series, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, repeats this same atheistic dogma.
We know that natural laws cannot bring the cosmos into existence. The universe looks designed, which is something Cosmos will not admit. Instead, it dwells on the persecution of the 16th century monk and philosopher Giordano Bruno.
However, Darwinists have turned out to be much more intolerant of dissenters than the Catholic Church is or was or ever will be.
Ben Stein’s film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed shows unambiguously who the real persecutors are in our days. They are the ones who do not want to allow any criticism of materialistic dogma that often masquerades as science.
Saturday, 8 March 2014
Do you know why unbelievers are so eager to find habitable worlds outside our own? They assume that this would somehow prove that Earth is not special and that it is thus not specially designed for life.
However, everything about our planet is special: its distance from the Sun, its composition, the size of its moon, the moon’s distance from Earth.
Unlike some purported ”Goldilocks planets”, everything is just right for life. It’s not too cold or too hot (at least on average). It is
perfectly made for life, as this brief video from Creation Ministries International points out.
Thursday, 6 March 2014
A recent article in The Scientist discusses the difficulty of getting life from non-life:
“Scientists believe that ribonucleic acid played a key role in the origin of life on Earth, but the versatile molecule isn’t the whole story.”
The problem is that life does not magically emerge from lifeless matter:
“ ‘The odds of suddenly having a self-replicating RNA pop out of a prebiotic soup are vanishingly low,’ says evolutionary biochemist Niles Lehman of Portland State University in Oregon.”
While the RNA world is an attractive hypothesis, “a long-standing weakness of the RNA-world hypothesis has been the inability to spontaneously generate the molecule’s component nucleotides from the basic ingredients presumed to be available on the prebiotic Earth.”
That’s precisely the problem. Life needs intelligence and lifeless matter is not intelligent. Life requires an intelligent source. Blind Darwinian mechanisms are unable to give rise to living beings.
Akst, Jef. 2014. RNA World 2.0. The Scientist (March 1).
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
How could evolutionists prove that birds have evolved from dinosaurs? Though the fossil evidence is murky and the emphasis tends to be on the philosophical dimension, one cannot blame them for not trying.
A recent paper in PLOS ONE by Bruno Grossi and colleagues attempts to take a fresh approach. They put artificial tails on chickens and observed how they walked.
Their evolutionary bias becomes obvious in their paper:
“Birds have inherited numerous locomotory traits from their dinosaur ancestors, including bipedalism, fully erect posture, and parasagittal hindlimb movement, which are not shared with the other extant group of archosaurs, the crocodilians. Therefore, it is appealing to think of birds as a model system to gain insights into aspects of non-avian dinosaur biology that are hard to study directly from fossil material, such as the relationship between limb morphology, posture, and locomotion.”
So, why did they do what they did?
“Living birds …maintain an unusually crouched hindlimb posture and locomotion powered by knee flexion, in contrast to the inferred primitive condition of non-avian theropods: more upright posture and limb movement powered by femur retraction. Such functional differences, which are associated with a gradual, anterior shift of the centre of mass in theropods along the bird line, make the use of extant birds to study non-avian theropod locomotion problematic.”
Thus, if real birds cannot provide evidence for their view, they can always use fake ones:
“Here we show that, by experimentally manipulating the location of the centre of mass in living birds, it is possible to recreate limb posture and kinematics inferred for extinct bipedal dinosaurs. Chickens raised wearing artificial tails, and consequently with more posteriorly located centre of mass, showed a more vertical orientation of the femur during standing and increased femoral displacement during locomotion. Our results support the hypothesis that gradual changes in the location of the centre of mass resulted in more crouched hindlimb postures and a shift from hip-driven to knee-driven limb movements through theropod evolution. This study suggests that, through careful experimental manipulations during the growth phase of ontogeny, extant birds can potentially be used to gain important insights into previously unexplored aspects of bipedal non-avian theropod locomotion.”
There was a time when science was a quest for the truth. However, when it is tainted with evolutionary thinking, it becomes a means for bolstering up naturalistic ideology.
Grossi, Bruno et al. 2014. Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens with Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion. PLOS ONE 9 (2) (February).
Sunday, 2 March 2014
Last year, on Australian TV, Richard Dawkins said:
“Of course it’s counter-intuitive that you can get something from nothing. Of course common sense doesn’t allow you to get something from nothing. That’s why it’s interesting. It’s got to be interesting in order to give rise to the universe at all. Something pretty mysterious had to give rise to the origin of the universe.”
It does sound a bit as though our old friend Richard Dawkins (of the “we scientists” renown ) believes in something akin to magic.
Q&A, ABC TV, www.abc.net.au/tv, 10 April 2013.