Saturday, 31 January 2015
Ever since Wall Street Journal published Eric Metaxas’ article on cosmic fine-tuning at Christmas, sceptics like Lawrence Krause have attempted to discredit him.
They disliked the title of his article (Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God), its subtitle (The odds of life existing on another planet grow ever longer. Intelligent design, anyone?), and its content.
Mr. Metaxas wrote:
“Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life -- every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart. Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth's surface. The odds against life in the universe are simply astonishing.”
It’s not at all difficult to agree with him. He goes on to say:
“Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing. What can account for it? Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident? At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces? Doesn't assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?”
However, some ardent sceptics will be sceptical of everything that they don’t endorse. Even if they have to evoke things like multiverses in an attempt to explain away that what is obvious.
“The odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all ‘just happened’ defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?”
Earth appears to be a very special planet, fine-tuned for life.
What is more, the Fibonacci sequence that appears almost everywhere in nature suggests that this fine-tuning extends all the way from galaxies to ammonite shells, dragonfly wings, the petals of a flower and compound eyes.
In the Fibonacci sequence the next number is the sum of the previous two numbers, for instance 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89 or
Fn = F n-1 + F n-2.
It results in astounding beauty.
Some would say that beauty and complexity just happen, but that amounts to begging the question.
As the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:20:
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (NIV)
Metaxas, Eric. 2014. Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God. Wall Street Journal (26 December).
Here’s a recent YouTube video on cosmic fine-tuning:
Thursday, 29 January 2015
Contrary to what researchers used to believe, jellyfish are “not just bags of jelly drifting passively in the oceans”. They “are incredibly advanced in their orientation abilities,” says Graeme Hays of Deakin University in Australia.
He was commenting on a paper he and lead author Sabrina Fossette and colleagues recently published in the journal Current Biology. (“Current-Oriented Swimming by Jellyfish and Its Role in Bloom Maintenance”).
“It's possible that the animals detect current shear across their body surface, or they may indirectly assess the direction of drift using other cues, such as the Earth's magnetic field or infrasound,” Fossette and Hays say.
According to Phys.org they “tracked the movements of the jellyfish with GPS loggers and used GPS-tracked floats to record the current flows. They also directly observed the swimming direction of large numbers of jellyfish at the surface of the ocean.”
Jellyfish are not the only animals capable of intelligent navigation. Recent research has also reported on the prowess of turtles, robins and bees.
For evolutionists, jellyfish are a big dilemma. Recent research has suggested that jellyfish-like creatures might have remained relatively unchanged for “600 million years” according to the standard evolutionary timescale.
But for those of us who doubt Darwinian evolution, jellyfish or stingers as they’re called in Australia remind us of both creation and the Fall.
These jellyfish aren't just drifters. Phys.org (Jan 22, 2015).
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
70 years ago (on January 27, 1945) the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, freeing 7,650 Jewish captives. However, for many millions, the day came far too late.
To mark this event, the BBC tweeted just two days before today’s International Holocaust Memorial Day:
“Our one big question this morning: Is the time coming to lay the Holocaust to rest? #BBCTBQ.”
It seems that anti-Semitism is by no means dead. The BBC is not entirely free of it, either.
While the liberal western press has a gross anti-Semitist tendency, the BBC could hardly have been more insensitive. Six million Jews lost their lives because the Nazis thought they were sub-human, inferior and less evolved than Aryans.
And many more were humiliated just because they were Jews.
Just recently, terrorists attacked a kosher supermarket in Paris, killing four Jews.
The answer to the big question is not blowing in the wind. It ought to be a definitive no – never.
Plosker, Simon. 2015. BBC’s Holocaust Tweet Shocker. Honest Reporting (27 January).
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Since the time of Charles Darwin, the evolution of language has been a hard nut for Darwinians to crack. Why, if all living beings share a common ancestor, only we can invent and use words whilst other species cannot?
Writing in Science, Michael Balter reports on a study in the journal Nature Communications that attempts to tackle this dilemma:
“If there’s one thing that distinguishes humans from other [sic] animals, it’s our ability to use language. But when and why did this trait evolve? A new study concludes that the art of conversation may have arisen early in human evolution, because it made it easier for our ancestors to teach each other how to make stone tools—a skill that was crucial for the spectacular success of our lineage.”
He acknowledges that for a long time the origin of language has been a source of controversy. As “words leave no traces in the archaeological record,” researchers have had to resort to indirect methods.
Recently, Thomas Morgan, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues attempted to solve the dilemma by having students prepare stone tools. They found that students who were allowed to speak with each other while making tools fared the best.
Their task was to make “artifacts called Oldowan tools, which include fairly simple stone flakes that were manufactured by early humans beginning about 2.5 million years ago.”
However, as each group was given five minutes to learn the method and another 25 minutes to make the tools, the experiment was anything but objective and it does not really address the issue of language evolution at all.
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.
Balter, Michael. 2015. Human language may have evolved to help our ancestors make tools. Science (13 January).
Friday, 23 January 2015
Reporting on research published in the journal Current Biology, a brief Science Shot text illustrating the discovery of a deep-sea shrimp says:
“In the deep sea, where light is dim and blue, animals with bigger eyes see better—but bigger eyes are more conspicuous to predators. In response, the small (10 mm to 17 mm), transparent crustacean Paraphronima gracilis has evolved a unique eye structure.”
Leaving aside the evo-speak and storytelling, this sounds like amazing design. The writer should perhaps have asked herself whether animals are capable of evolving anything at all. Most people would know that innovations only come through intelligence.
The researchers found that the shrimp had “compound eyes … each … composed of a single row of 12 distinct red retinas… The researchers hypothesize that each retina captures an image that is transmitted to the crustacean’s brain, which integrates the 12 images to increase brightness and contrast sensitivity, adapting to changing light levels.”
The wonders we see (or learn about) in the animal kingdom point to the Creator, whose handiwork is obvious and very visible in nature – for all who have eyes to see.
Callier, Viviane. 2015. Deep-sea shrimp’s eyes have 12 retinas. ScienceShot (15 January).
Wednesday, 21 January 2015
Changing the traditional definition of marriage (one man, one woman) can lead to unexpected cases. Like the one featuring a British woman who says has been married to two cats for ten years.
Barbarella Buchner even has a marriage certificate that looks official – although it isn’t – saying that on the 9th day of January in 2004 she and Spider and Ligosi (two tomcats) were united in holy matrimony online by Marry Your Pet.com.
One might at least ask how marriage to cats could be holy. After all, God instituted marriage as a lifelong union of a man and a woman. All other definitions are a travesty of the original.
Nevertheless, Ms. Buchner, who lives on the Spanish island of Lanzarote with her “husbands”, characterises her marriage as “pure, spiritual unconditional love on both sides.” She points out that it does not have to do with sex.
Although she has had “serious boyfriends”, she has never been married to a human being. “If a man ever approaches me, I just tell them straight off: ‘Sorry, I'm married to my cats,’ ” she says.
This kind of marriage brings to mind the words in Judges 21:25 “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (NIV).
Styles, Ruth. 2015. Woman who is celebrating a decade of marriage to her two pet CATS says she has never been happier (and has no plans to find a human husband). Daily Mail (6 January).
Monday, 19 January 2015
Robins and many other migrating songbirds return to the same place years after year. Salmon do it. Some butterflies do so also.
New research suggests that loggerhead turtles likewise return to their place of birth. A recent article in the journal Current Biology states:
“Ever since John James Audubon tied silver threads to the legs of young songbirds and observed their return the following year, evidence has accumulated that many animals return to their natal areas after migrating to distant locations. An extreme example exists in loggerhead sea turtles, which leave their natal beaches as hatchlings and traverse entire ocean basins before returning to nest, at regular intervals, on the same stretch of coastline where they hatched. How sea turtles accomplish natal homing has remained an enduring mystery of animal behavior.”
Research by Roger Brothers and Ken Lohman at the University of North Carolina suggest that loggerhead turtles (Carettacaretta) know how to use amazing technology. They say:
“Turtles derive long-distance navigational information from the Earth’s magnetic field by detecting the intensity and inclination angle (the angle at which field lines intersect Earth’s surface).”
What makes things difficult for Darwinian evolution is that different kinds of animals – birds, fish, butterflies and reptiles – are able to use a similar strategy, i.e., magnetic navigation. Some researchers believe we should add jellyfish to the list.
Evolutionists have to believe that this characteristic evolved at least four or five times.
But, then, convergent evolution is often Darwin-speak for “we don’t know how, but we assume evolution did it in some mysterious way.”
A more logical and plausible explanation is that turtles and birds and fish were made that way. Their Creator programmed them, giving them this incredible ability.
Brothers, Roger and Ken Lohman. 2015. Evidence for Geomagnetic Imprinting and Magnetic Navigation in the Natal Homing of Sea Turtles Current Biology 25, 1 – 2 (2 February).
Saturday, 17 January 2015
Millions walked for freedom of speech following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that took the lives of 19 people, four of them Jews who had nothing to do with the cartoons that Charlie Hebdo published.
However, on the other side of the Atlantic (i.e., the USA to be more precise), the storyline was very different. Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran published a book in which he made a case for the traditional view of marriage (one man, one woman) and the biblical teaching on sexuality.
Mayor Kasim Reed responded by suspending him for 30 days and then by firing him, accusing him of discriminitory views. In doing so, he is in effect banning Genesis.
In his book Who Told You That You Were Naked? Mr. Cochran writes that the works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19–21 include homosexuality.
This, obviously, is something the major does not like.
It seems that true Christians and biblical morality are increasingly been discriminated against and anything but Christian ethics are politically correct.
Where are the folks who’d take up Je suis Kelvin posters and start marching? After all, freedom of speech was supposed to be an important issue.
Shellnutt, Kate. 2015. Bible Citation Costs Atlanta Fire Chief His Job. Galatians 5 versus 1 Corinthians 14: Mayor critiques Kelvin Cochran's publishing of his religious views on homosexuality. Christianity Today (January 9).
Thursday, 15 January 2015
Scorpions are one of the "oldest" living fossils or animals that have resisted Darwinian orthodoxy and refused to evolve for aeons. Research recently published in the journal Biology Letters suggests they already resembled modern scorpions “430 million years” ago.
A report in Nature Communications stated:
“Scorpions are known as ‘living fossils’ and represent a unique type of arthropod because they maintain the primary anatomical features of their ancient arthropod ancestors.”
In other words, they have not changed.
Writing in New Scientist, Sandrine Ceurstemont says:
“The world's oldest scorpions are thought to have led an aquatic life, but surprisingly, recently unearthed fossils are now hinting at a penchant for land. The remains of a new species, Eramoscorpius brucensis … thought to have lived 430 million years ago, are revealing legs adapted for walking out of the waves.”
The abstract in Biology Letters reveals that the researchers were surprised. They did not expect a land animal this old:
“One of the oldest known fossil scorpions, a new species from the mid-Silurian Eramosa Formation (430 myr) of Ontario, Canada, exhibits several surprising features. The depositional environment and associated biota indicate a marine habitat; however, the leg morphology of this scorpion, which has a short tarsus in common with all Recent scorpions, suggests that a key adaptation for terrestrial locomotion, the ability to support its weight on a subterminal ‘foot’, appeared remarkably early in the scorpion fossil record.”
The more we get to know about fossils, the more surprised evolution-believing researchers will become, as the fossils don’t support change of the Darwinian variety.
What they do show is that animals change according to their kinds, as Genesis tells us.
Ceurstemont, Sandrine. 2015. Ancient sea scorpion shows off its land legs. New Scientist (14 January).
Genetics: ‘Living fossil’ provides insight into arthropod evolution. Nature Communications. October 16, 2013.
Waddington, Janet, David M. Rudkin and Jason A. Dunlop. 2015. A new mid-Silurian aquatic scorpion—one step closer to land? Biology Letters. (14 January).
Tuesday, 13 January 2015
Like some other advocates of a purely naturalistic /materialistic worldview, for instance, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking has not actually been averse to making statements that go way beyond his expertise.
A few years ago, he warned us of the threat posed by big bad aliens. He also claimed that the universe could create itself through the use of natural laws.
In the meanwhile he has also dabbled in foreign politics by boycotting a scientific conference held in Israel, the very opposite of the Je Suis Juif (I am a Jew) idea popularised after the recent attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris.
More recently, he once again warned us of a threat lurking to make an end of us. This time it has to do with artificial intelligence. He is especially worried about AI (artificial intelligence) that could “take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate.”
Prof. Hawking thinks that this would be a disaster, since in his view, “humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded.”
What he fails to notice is that computers, robots and “smart” devices can only do what they have been programmed to do. They do not – and cannot – think. They are not conscious creatures that could usurp man’s place in the order of things.
The real threat does not come from AI but from confusion, crime and terrorism, which spring from man’s refusal to abide by the laws set by the Lawmaker, who created everything in the universe, including Stephen Hawking.
We can put our trust in God instead of speculating about improbable, incredible and impossible threats that go against natural laws.
After all, life only comes from life. The same applies to consciousness and intelligence.
In contrast, robots can never be alive.
Cellan-Jones, Rory. 2014. Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind. BBC news (2 December).
Sunday, 11 January 2015
Neil deGrasse Tyson was not the only sceptic who took a swipe at Christianity the past Christmas. Newsweek did so too – in a very long article abounding with myth and errors.
Perhaps the words recorded in 2 Peter 3:15–16 illustrate what writer Kurt Eichenwald attempts to do with Scripture:
“Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (NKJV)
Mr. Eichenwald claims:
“No television preacher has ever read the Bible. Neither has any evangelical politician. Neither has the pope. Neither have I. And neither have you. At best, we’ve all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.”
What he doesn’t say is that the copyists were very careful with the text, especially the Hebrew scribes who copied the Old Testament. While the monks who copied the New Testament scriptures might not have been as fluent in the original languages, they would not dare to add their own ideas into the Bible.
Newsweek goes on to say:
“These manuscripts were originally written in Koiné, or ‘common’ Greek, and not all of the amateur copyists spoke the language or were even fully literate. Some copied the script without understanding the words. And Koiné was written in what is known as scriptio continua—meaning no spaces between words and no punctuation. So, a sentence like weshouldgoeatmom could be interpreted as ‘We should go eat, Mom,’ or ‘We should go eat Mom.’”
Eichenwald neglects to mention – or doesn’t know – that Greek nouns have case. Seen in this light, his example is odd, as it is often not too difficult to distinguish between the subject and the object, for instance.
He says that the Bible is “loaded with contradictions and translation errors and wasn’t written by witnesses.” This is false.
He harps on the assumed two contradictory creation accounts of Genesis 1 and 2. (See more here and here.)
Most scholars would agree that the Apostle Paul wrote 1st Corinthians some 24 years or so after Christ’s resurrection. The letter includes probably the earliest account of its eyewitnesses.
Paul writes: “He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living” (1 Cor 15: 6, NIV).
Eichenwald also claims that the King James Bible was not translated from the original languages (Hebrew and Greek). That would be news to most Bible scholars.
In conclusion, Eichenwald seems to have an agenda – to misrepresent biblical Christianity and to interpret it from a liberal perspective that assumes God could not protect His word from error.
It is an assumption that he cannot prove. In contrast, the Bible is meticulously reliable even in its tiny details.
This is something that we would expect, given its Divine authorship.
Eichenwald, Kurt, 2014. The Bible, So Misunderstood It’s a Sin. Newsweek (December 23).
Friday, 9 January 2015
There are many Ebener Scrooges among us. Like the character in Charles Dickens’ Christmas story, they seem to hate the time we usually associate with the birth of Christ.
Christmas is obviously a hard time for atheists as they tend to spend much time and energy in trying to fight against it.
This is understandable, because if – as Christians believe – Jesus, although He was the Son of God, was born in Bethlehem in human form, atheism has to be false. This means that the very idea of Christmas is dangerous for unbelievers.
Atheists are well aware of this. As Thomas H. Huxley (1825–1895), who was known as Darwin’s Bulldog, put it, “Christian theology must stand or fall with the historical trustworthiness of the Jewish Scriptures.”
I would suggest that this also applies to atheistic dogma. It is an either – or situation.
Michael Shermer has promoted the celebration of Newtonmas on December 25 as a replacement for Christmas. This is a bit odd given that Sir Isaac Newton was a Bible-believing Christian, but it shows what atheists are willing do, if it helps them to escape Christ.
Recently, Neil deGrasse Tyson of Cosmos fame illustrated this trend. On December 25, he first tweeted:
“QUESTION: This year, what do all the world's Muslims and Jews call December 25th? ANSWER: Thursday.”
He followed this up with:
“On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642.”
Finally, he actually used the word Christmas:
“Merry Christmas to all. A Pagan holiday (BC) becomes a Religious holiday (AD). Which then becomes a Shopping holiday (USA).”
While there’s a hint of truth in his tweet, his strategy speaks more of his ideology and the wish to avoid coming to grips with the truth.
It seems that all kinds of everything that remind atheists of Jesus Christ cause them to have a bad conscience. Thus, they will go to extreme lengths to avoid confronting historical facts that remind them of the Creator and Redeemer they want to avoid.
Wednesday, 7 January 2015
Water striders (Gerridae) can literally walk on water. They use their tiny micro-hairs to repel water and to stay afloat. And they have millions of them.
The most logical explanation for their ability is intelligent design. It would be difficult if not entirely impossible – and certainly not logical – to invoke Darwinian mechanisms (mutations and natural selection) in order to explain how water striders gradually learnt to live and thrive on water.
Like many other creatures, water striders show evidence of amazingly clever design.
As the Apostle Paul said, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20, NIV).
We can also see them in these little striders And in many other creatures that use evolution-defying design features.
Monday, 5 January 2015
A report recently published by ScienceDaily suggests once again that molecular clocks that are often used to date purported ancestors of today’s species are anything but accurate:
“Molecular clocks -- based on changes in genetic material -- indicate much younger ages for a wide variety of plants found as fossils in southern Argentina than do the solid, geologic dates of those fossils, according to geoscientists who surveyed recent paleobotanical discoveries in Patagonia.
The inaccuracy of the molecular clocks in this study raises new doubts about the accuracy of clock dates for many other organisms, from animals to human pathogens.”
Other research has indicated that radiometric methods are anything but accurate.
Radiometric dating methods and the molecular clock approach should in principle give identical dates or at least dates that are in the same ballpark.
In reality, they often vary so much that researchers are beginning to suspect that one of them has to be incorrect.
But which is it? Both approaches rely on the assumption that evolution of the Darwinian variety has occurred or that certain species have a common ancestor.
They are also based on the belief that our world is billions of years old. It is an assumption that cannot be measured directly as radiometric methods only give isotope rations that have to be interpreted.
Thus, the take-home message of this and related research is that both molecular clocks and dating methods give precise dates that, as nuclear physicist Dr. Jim Mason put it, can be “precisely wrong”.
Turn back the molecular clock, say Argentina's plant fossils. Science Daily December 2, 2014.
Saturday, 3 January 2015
Naturalistic explanations of how the cell evolved into such an efficient entity defy common sense. In a recent article in The Behemoth, biologist Ann Gauger outlines the problem:
“DNA is copied into RNA, then RNA is translated into protein. Consequently, proteins cannot exist without DNA. However, DNA cannot exist without proteins either.”
Needless to say, their relationship is anything but simple:
“To replicate DNA, one protein unwinds the DNA, creating a fork with two strands; another protein duplicates the right strand of the DNA, while yet another casts off loops from the left strand so it can be copied. Meanwhile, thirty or so other proteins keep watch over the DNA, proofreading, correcting, and ensuring very few errors -- about one mistake per billion nucleotides copied.
In short, it's a chicken and egg problem: which came first, proteins or DNA? ”
But there’s more:
“Even if that problem could be solved, another puzzle would remain: how the link between DNA, RNA, and protein came about. We know how it's done -- ribosomes -- but we have no idea how ribosomes came to be. Ribosomes are indispensable, efficient, self-correcting, decoding machines, and protein factories. They are made of many proteins woven together with RNA molecules into tangled knots that somehow work together to decode RNA. In fact, just deciphering into what shape those knots are tied won three scientists the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Born in the nucleus, ribosomes do their work in the cytoplasm. Messenger RNA (RNA copied from a protein-coding gene) finds a ribosome and begins feeding through like ticker tape. The ribosome reads the message and translates it into amino acids, stitching the amino acids together to make a protein.”
300 years ago King David penned the words ”I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14, NIV).
Recent discoveries in cell biology are beginning to show that the ancient Psalmist was right. Our cells are tiny but amazing. Dr. Gauger goes on to say:
“Though not as fast as transcription, the ribosome manages a respectable rate of 6 to 9 amino acids per second, a little faster than the best of our typists. But consider this: there are 20-plus amino acids for the ribosome to sort through in order to find the right one for each unit to be translated. Given that kind of search process, 6 to 9 amino acids per second puts the ticker tape on fast forward.
One last thing -- the ribosome is also self-correcting. As the protein advances, the ribosome double-checks its work, and if it notices a mistake, it backs up to correct the error, like I had to do as I typed this sentence.
Suffice it to say that the genetic code, and the fidelity of its replication, transcription, and translation, are obviously very important, considering all the error correction that goes on, and they are interdependent, highly optimized processes that are essential to life. At the very center of these processes is this mystery: which came first, the protein or the DNA? And how was the link between DNA and protein established? Some say RNA came first, but RNA is inherently unstable, easily degraded and limited in its chemical abilities. So the problem remains unsolved.”
It is no accident that Dr. Gauger’s article is called Mystery at the Heart of Life.
Materialists/naturalists would need many miracles to solve that enigma but their worldview does not have room for a miracle maker.
Gauger, Ann. 2014. Mystery at the Heart of Life. The Behemoth. (November 27).
Thursday, 1 January 2015
The Christmas season provides us with ample opportunities to remember the Incarnation of Christ, when the sovereign God stepped into human history as flesh and blood and for a while lived among us.
New year reminds us that Jesus lived in a particular era of history. While no one can be absolutely certain of His birthday or even the year He was born, AD 2015 tells us that something very remarkable happened that prompted early Roman Christians to start counting their years from His birth instead of the founding of Rome.
We don’t count our years from Muhammed’s Hijra or flight from Mecca to Medina or the establishment of the Nazi Third Reich, but from the birth of the Prince of Peace who came to give His life for all humankind.
Some may choose to hate the cross and every other thing that potentially reminds them of Jesus, but for those who believe, the gospel is the power of God that miraculously transforms individuals into new creatures.
All kinds of everything remind us of the One, whose signature is seen from the tiniest molecular machine in the cell to the largest galaxy observed by powerful telescopes.