Friday, 30 December 2016
The Saiga antelope might not win prizes in beauty contests. A native of the steppes of Kazakhstan, it has a nose that looks really bizarre.
But just like the Toucan’s beak or the penguin’s cold-proof feathers, it is there for a reason. When it’s hot, the nose acts like a cooler. And when it gets cold, it serves as a heater.
We can see designed features everywhere in nature, provided we’re not blinded by naturalistic thinking but keep our eyes open instead.(See examples here, here and here.)
BBC Earth. 2016. The bizarre beast with an air-conditioning nose. (30 November).
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
Big science does not like Brexit or Donald Trump. It attributes at least some of the dramatic changes that 2016 brought about to a loss of trust in experts and the proliferation of fake news items.
But one could hardly go to the lengths of extrapolation that New Scientist does in calling this the post-truth era.
After all, the post-truth era did not begin in 2016. It began ages ago, when scientists and thinkers began to speculate that God had nothing to do with the origin of the universe, of life and of humans.
The idea is spurious, as naturalistic processes cannot produce life. We now know that even the tiniest cell is far too complicated to have arisen spontaneously.
Life bears all the hallmarks of being designed intelligently.
Another disturbing lie has become so common that many do not recognize it as a falsehood.
It is known as 'occupied territory', and refers to East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
History will tell us that the Jews lived in that region over 3,000 years ago. The old part of Jerusalem was King David’s capital and his son Salomon built the first temple there soon afterwards.
The Arabs conquered (i.e. occupied) the land over 1,600 years after the first Jewish temple was built.
So, calling East Jerusalem and the West Bank occupied territory is fake news, unless, of course one admits that it is the Arabs who originally occupied land that had been Jewish for aeons.
The truth of the matter is that some Jews have decided to live in the area where Jews had lived before anyone had heard of the Palestinians.
Corner, Adam. 2016. Here’s how experts can rebuild trust in the post-truth era. New Scientist (20 December).
Monday, 26 December 2016
It might be difficult to avoid seeing Christmas lights at this time of year, especially in the Northern hemisphere.
But it seems that there are amazingly beautiful lights in the most unexpectant places, such as 1,500 metres below sea level.
And they are not man-made.
NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer vessel has mapped large stretches of ocean floors, and found great beauty in places where there are few if any human spectators.
Recently, they discovered glowing corals.
Previously they had photographed glowing jellyfish and an outlandish octopus.
The Bible tells us that God has made everything beautiful.
I would suggest that failing to notice all the beauty around us might be a sign of at least spiritual blindness.
Beauty in nature defies Darwinism. Both the very big things and the tiny ones testify of the Creator.
The Fall described in Genesis 3 did not put an end to great beauty: we even see it in ourselves and other people.
NOAA. 2016. NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer August 12, 2016.
Saturday, 24 December 2016
came as a baby in Bethlehem. Image courtesy of the Providence Lithograph Company. public domain.
Several Old Testament prophets foresaw major events in the life of Christ hundreds of years before they took place.
Micah prophesied Jesus’ birthplace:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” (Micah 5:2).
And Isaiah foresaw His virgin birth:
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
Christmas was not built on fables but on real history.
For atheists, the birth of Christ might be a difficult occasion, hence they invented the Christmas wars.
Some sceptics would like to celebrate Newtonmas instead, as Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday is on 25th December.
The idea is a bit absurd, as Newton believed in the historical accuracy of the Bible.
Scripture verses from the New King James Version (NKJV).
Thursday, 22 December 2016
Our big brain is a Darwinian enigma. As evolutionists believe that all creatures have a tiny common ancestor, their problem might be understandable though not logical.
And as they detest the idea of human exceptionalism, they often look at parallels in the animal kingdom.
Yes, they have found a fish that – proportionally, that is – has a very big brain.
Research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B looks at mormyrids, African electric fishes. They use “weak electric discharges to locate prey and to communicate with one another,” as Science Daily puts it.
One of them, Peters' elephant-nose fish (Gnathonemus petersii), has a rather large brain, which makes up 3 percent of its body size.
Ours is between 2 and 2.5 per cent, but the fish is a lot smaller than we are.
Large brains come with a cost. They need more oxygen and more energy than if they were smaller. This prompts evolutionists to assume that something exceptional has to happen before a creature can “evolve” a big brain:
Here’s their suggestion: “Really big brains can evolve only if constraints on energy intake are lifted.”
It seems that common descent is a creed that leads to sloppy thinking – even with big brains like ours.
The human brain is a wonderful organ.
Its amazingly complex interactions cannot be explained away by Darwinian just so stories.
Washington University in St. Louis. 2016. Why big brains are rare: Studies of electric fish support the idea that really big brains can evolve only if constraints on energy intake are lifted. Science Daily. (21 December).
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
The list of living fossils keeps on getting longer and longer.
BBC Earth just published an article and a short video of a West African bird that hasn’t changed in “44 million years.”
The Picathartes lives on the shore of the River Congo. The male and female build a mud nest together, sheltered from the rain by a big boulder.
And they behave just like birds that aren’t supposedly so old.
Living fossils suggest strongly that the millions of years the popular media are so fond of are pure fiction.
Walker, Matt. 2016. Bird survives for 44 million years. BBC Earth (17 December).
Sunday, 18 December 2016
Ours is a planet where flora and fauna abound almost everywhere – in extreme cold and heat, and in the deep seas.
Campbell Island in New Zealand is home to plants that should not exist.
Recently, BBC Earth had an article on its flowers that defy the cold, wet and windy conditions on the island.
While temperatures seldom rise above 10 degrees Celcius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), the sun seldom shines and gusts blow at 30 km/h (19 m.p.h.), some plants grow to become really huge:
“Amidst the fields of low shrubs and tussock grasses, giants stand tall. Some herbs rise up more than a metre, with leaves as large as a sheet of printer paper. Some species have hairy leaves, while flowers bloom in various colours from dark purple to pink to yellow-green. Scientists call these large herbs 'megaherbs'.”
Birds have intelligently designed features that help them to cope with freezing temperatures and hot weather.
We know that some begonias use a clever strategy to get more energy from the sun.
But what is news is that the Campbell Island flora also use an intelligent method to get more warmth from the sun.
They seem to make as much use of the rare sunny moments as possible. Botanist Lorna Little found that almost all “megaherb species had flowers and leaves that were between 4C and 10C warmer than air temperature.”
This shows that Earth was designed to be a habitable place, just like the Bible tells us.
Law, Yao-Hua. 2016. The sub-Antarctic islands are home to strange 'megaherbs' BBC Earth (16 December).
Friday, 16 December 2016
A letter published in Nature sees Ernst Haeckel as a trailblazing scientist who built a more comprehensive tree of life than Darwin had done.
Darwin’s initial version that he sketched in 1837 was very simple. Haeckel “painstakingly drew up a much more comprehensive tree.”
The letter presents a biased view of the zoologist who invented non-existing species as evidence for evolution and is now mostly remembered for his fraudulent embryo drawings.
He also inspired some leading Nazis.
“This [i.e. Haeckel’s tree] represented Earth's wealth of species in the context of evolution — a concept he dubbed phylogeny (General Morphology of Organisms; 1866).
The root of the tree symbolizes a common primordial ancestor from which all other forms emerged. Haeckel developed his tree over almost 1,000 pages, basing it on palaeontological, embryological and systemic data — a precursor to modern biology's phylogenetic trees.”
We now know that Haeckel’s tree – just like Darwin’s – was simply wrong.
Secular researches have begun to understand that a bush or a net is a far more better description of the development and diversity of life.
Creationists have said so for decades.
Hossfeld, Uwe and Georgy S. Levit. 2016. Phylogeny: 'Tree of life' took root 150 years ago. Nature 540, 38.
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
“There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact,” Mark Twain wrote over a century ago.
It seems that nothing much has changed since then. Scientists made up an entire species (Nebraska Man) on the basic of a single tooth.
Now they have invented a hominid on the basis of footprints found at Laetoli in Tanzania.
A news article in Nature adds some dramatic effects into the story:
“The sound was more like a squish than a thud, as the tall male australopith strode across the East African savannah. A volcanic eruption had left a patina of grey ash underfoot, while rainstorms that followed transformed the earth into wet cement. Squish, squish. Four smaller individuals walked not far behind. Squish, squish, squish. Later, ash rained down from the sky again, covering their tracks for 3.66 million years.”
Reported in a paper published in eLife, the tracks are near the very famous footprints that prompted evolutionists to speculate that Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) walked on two feet just like us.
However, there is no fossil evidence in support of this claim. We simply don’t know what Lucy’s feet looked like, as the foot bones are still missing.
The new “individual” is called Chewie, and he is assumed to be 165 cm (5 feet 5 inches) tall, making him two heads taller than Lucy.
How did they come up with this figure? The largest footprint is 27 cm (10.6 inches) long, with some smaller ones, prompting New Scientist to speculate that early humans had multiple wives.
And his discoverers are convinced that like Lucy, he is an Australopithecus.
I wouldn’t be so sure.
Anon. 2016. Meet Chewie, the biggest Australopithecus on record. Nature News (14 December).
Monday, 12 December 2016
Recent research has likened our cells to “miniature cities running at 100 per cent efficiency.”
These cities and everything in them – including the tiny molecular motors dynein and kinesin – are assembled very fast.
A new study looks at ribosomes, which are amazing macromolecular machines. They, too, are built quickly from parts.
An article in Science Daily states:
“Consisting of RNA and proteins that twist, fold and turn [they] are responsible for making all of the protein within a cell and could hold the key to deciphering a range of diseases. Despite the intricacies of ribosomes, cells are able to churn out 100,000 of them every hour.”
Obviously, the parts are programmed to come together, otherwise the result would be a chaos.
Recently researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and The Scripps Research Institute used an imaging technique called single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to look into the secrets of how ribosomes are being built:
“In single-particle cryo-EM, proteins (the "particles") are flash-frozen and imaged using streams of electrons, meaning the molecules don't need to be crystallized and can retain much of their native structure.”
The research focused on the 50s subunit (a major component of ribosomes) and found that it was made up of “at least 15 types of complexes …13 of which are actively assembling 50s subunits.”
It took the scientists a year to figure this out.
No wonder integrated complex systems in cells are called supercomplexes.
They are the hallmark of exceptionally intelligent design.
Salk Institute.2016. Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble. Science Daily (1 December).
Saturday, 10 December 2016
Parrots and some other birds can utter sounds that resemble words, but monkeys and apes cannot.
This is a big enigma for evolutionists who assume that chimps and other great apes are virtually our cousins, as they think our ancestors parted ways some “7 or 8 million years” ago.
A paper recently published in the journal Science Advances reported on how a macaque named Emiliano uttered a variety of sounds in a laboratory at Princeton University.
The researchers found that while Emiliano could at least in theory produce some vowel sounds, the monkey’s brain is not wired for speech.
This probably also applies to other monkeys and apes. Thus, a speaking orangutan would be an illusion.
Charles Darwin speculated that apes did not have a brain for language. It seems that he was right.
Humans are unique. Apes and monkeys were not made in the image of God, but we are.
Price, Michael. 2016. Why monkeys can’t talk—and what they would sound like if they could. Science (9 December).
Thursday, 8 December 2016
Darwinists are fond of thanking evolution for all kinds of everything.
Often, their explanations are more or less bizarre – often more –, as in “social living shrinks our brains.”
Clever attempt, but there’s no evidence.
Professor Philip Skell famously wrote that the Darwinian explanation tends to be “so supple that it can explain any behaviour.”
A recent article in New Scientist credited evolution for our sense of fear:
“Evolution has given us an inbuilt fear factory. But by engaging a different way of thinking we can stop panicking and weigh up the real risks.”
The magazine makes a distinction between two kinds of approaches to fear that are known as system 1 and system 2 thinking:
“System 1 is the product of evolved biases shaped over thousands of years.”
It quotes author Dan Gardner, who brings up the standard Darwinian explanation:
“If you saw a shadow in the grass and it was a lion and you lived to tell the tale, you’d make sure to run the next time you saw a shadow in the grass.”
Way back in 2008, TIME magazine used slightly different words for the same thing: “Fear is … embedded by evolution in our lizard brain.”
There is no evidence that any of us ever had a lizard brain. A human being, like all other creatures, is designed as a whole.
What is more, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as Psalm 139: 14 puts it.
Adee, Sally. 2016. Super-you: Train your brain to beat the inbuilt fear factory. New Scientist (7 December).
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
The greatest climate change of all time occurred some 4,500 years ago, when an enormous flood swept away the world that once was.
The cataclysm in Noah’s day was probably followed by the ice age.
While glaciers covered the areas we now know as Canada and northern Europe, it is reasonable to assume that even regions now covered by sand had a much moister climate.
A recent study suggests that this indeed was the case. While the date it gives is off by 2,000 years or so, the findings as such seem to corroborate the history written in Genesis. An article in Science Daily says:
“As little as 6,000 years ago, the vast Sahara Desert was covered in grassland that received plenty of rainfall, but shifts in the world's weather patterns abruptly transformed the vegetated region into some of the driest land on Earth. A Texas A&M university researcher is trying to uncover the clues responsible for this enormous climate transformation -- and the findings could lead to better rainfall predictions worldwide.”
The researchers attempted to explain the current aridness of Sahara by invoking the Hadley circulation:
“The Hadley circulation is a tropical atmospheric circulation that rises near the equator. It is linked to the subtropical trade winds, tropical rainbelts, and affects the position of severe storms, hurricanes, and the jet stream. Where it descends in the subtropics, it can create desert-like conditions.”
They don’t seem to know why the tropical rain belt could have moved so far towards the north.
It seems that geologists and other scientists can thank – or blame – Charles Lyell for this uncertainty. Lyell, who popularised uniformitarism, sought to free geology from Moses (i.e. the biblical flood).
While catastrophism has made a comeback, most researchers still detest the idea of a year-long global flood.
However, only a blind man would fail to see the mountains of evidence Noah’s Flood left all over the globe, in places like Antarctica, Bolivia, Norway , Greenland, Kenya and Australia.
And a wetter climate is not the only remainder of Noah’s Flood in Sahara; an enormous natural archway in Chad is yet another monument left by the huge global cataclysm.
Texas A&M University. 2016. 6,000 years ago the Sahara Desert was tropical, so what happened? Science Daily (30 November).
Monday, 5 December 2016
Lucy’s upper limbs resembled those of modern chimps. This suggests that our assumed grandmother Australopithecus afarensis, as she is more formally known, spent a lot of her time in trees.
This is the take-away message from a recent study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Texas at Austin.
The research, based on CT scan images of Lucy’s bones, was published in the journal PLOS ONE. Science Daily summarizes the findings:
“Analysis of the partial fossilized skeleton, the investigators say, shows that Lucy's upper limbs were heavily built, similar to champion tree-climbing chimpanzees, supporting the idea that she spent time climbing and used her arms to pull herself up.”
However, when it comes to Lucy’s feet, bias creeps in, as it tends to do in research on our assumed ancestors:
“In addition, they say, the fact that her foot was better adapted for bipedal locomotion (upright walking) than grasping may mean that climbing placed additional emphasis on Lucy's ability to pull up with her arms and resulted in more heavily built upper limb bones.”
This assumption is based on evidence that is still missing. The foot bones have not been found. But the Laetoli footprints have prompted some evolutionists to assume that Lucy walked on two feet, just like us.
While the Laetoli footprints have been dated a mere “400,000 years” or so older than Lucy, there is a huge logical gap between her and the footprints.
They look exactly like human footprints. No tree dwelling ape could possibly have made them.
Moreover, Lucy’s bones were found in the Afar region in northern Ethiopia. Laetoli is in Tanzania. The distance separating them is roughly a thousand kilometres (600 miles), as Kenya happens to separate the two East African countries.
In other words, there is no reason to believe that Lucy’s kin made those marks.
But perhaps it’s best to let Science Daily continue:
“Exactly how much time Lucy spent in the trees is difficult to determine, the research team says, but another recent study suggests Lucy died from a fall out of a tall tree. This new study adds to evidence that she may have nested in trees at night to avoid predators, the authors say. An eight-hour slumber would mean she spent one-third of her time up in the trees, and if she also occasionally foraged there, the total percentage of time spent above ground would be even greater.”
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: Lucy was a tree-dwelling ape.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2016. Human ancestor 'Lucy' was a tree climber, new evidence suggests. Science Daily (30 November).
Saturday, 3 December 2016
Has the quest for alien life become an obsession for some astronomers?
It seems so. They have even found worlds that might not exist.
Like the late Carl Sagan, they seem to detest the notion that Earth could be unique.
Life flourishes in seemingly impossible conditions on our planet, so why would it not do so on other worlds as well?
This time they have set their hopes on brown dwarf stars. An article in Science says:
“There’s an abundant new swath of cosmic real estate that life could call home—and the views would be spectacular. Floating out by themselves in the Milky Way galaxy are perhaps a billion cold brown dwarfs, objects many times as massive as Jupiter but not big enough to ignite as a star. According to a new study, layers of their upper atmospheres sit at temperatures and pressures resembling those on Earth, and could host microbes that surf on thermal updrafts.”
Naturalism and wishful thinking seem to go hand in hand:
“The idea expands the concept of a habitable zone to include a vast population of worlds that had previously gone unconsidered. ‘You don’t necessarily need to have a terrestrial planet with a surface,’ says Jack Yates, a planetary scientist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, who led the study.”
The next step is a digression into science fiction: Inspired by Carl Sagan’s idea of an ecosystem in Jupiter’s atmosphere, they envision microbes floating around in hydrogen gas.
The article mentions that the idea is speculative. and that certainly is no understatement. No form of life can float around anywhere if it does not come into existence first.
And life, as we know, only comes from life.
Sokol, Joshua, 2016 Alien life could thrive in the clouds of failed stars. Science (2 December).
Thursday, 1 December 2016
Once upon a time, the tree of life was a major albeit somewhat controversial fact of evolution. Now it is no more.
Even secular researchers have pointed out that Darwin was wrong and that the tree has fallen down.
New Scientist had its Darwin was Wrong cover story in 2009 and since then studies have shown that he was indeed mistaken.
The latest instalment can be seen in the journal Science. Elizabeth Pennisi looks at hybrids and concludes that they spell disaster for Darwin’s tree:
“In 2010 a comparison between a Neandertal genome and genomes from people today turned up evidence of ancient liaisons, a discovery that belied the common idea that animal species can't hybridize or, if they do, will produce infertile offspring—think mules."
But this was simply wrong:
"Such reproductive isolation is part of the classic definition of a species. This discovery brought credence to other work in plants, Darwin's finches in the Galápagos Islands, tropical butterflies, mosquitoes, and a few other animals showing that hybridization was not just common, but also important in shaping evolution. The techniques that revealed the Neandertal and Denisovan legacy in our own genome are now making it possible to peer into the genomic histories of many organisms to check for interbreeding. As more examples are discovered, researchers are questioning the definition of species and rethinking whether the tree of life is really a 'net' of life.”
The term 'species' is anything but an accurate description of a particular type of organism. The great number of hybrids such as ligers, zonkeys, wholpins, geeps, grolars and leopons, supports the view that the biblical concept ‘kind’ differs considerably from the biological term ‘species’, being more inclusive.
According to the biblical model, Neanderthals, Denisovans and modern humans form a single biblical ‘kind’.
Likewise, at best, the distinction between the various varieties of Darwin’s finches is vague.
Hybrids challenge the very concept of evolution. No new genetic information is added, but they merely share pre-existing information. Often, they display a loss of information.
Some microbes also defy Darwinian orthodoxy by using horizontal gene transfer (HGT) to share genetic traits.
Creationists have consistently assumed that the very idea of a tree was suspect. Way back in 2000, Dr. Pierre Jerlström had an article in the Journal of Creation entitled 'Is the evolutionary tree turning into a creationist orchard?'
Now it seems that they have been right all along and evolutionists have been wrong since Darwin’s day.
Jerström, Pierre. 2000. Is the evolutionary tree turning into a creationist orchard? Journal of Creation 14(2), 11–13.
Pennisi, Elizabeth. 2016. Shaking up the Tree of Life. Science 354 (6314), 817 – 821.