Friday, 23 June 2017

Humans May Have an Inbuilt GPS, Research Suggests

Image courtesy of Nachoman-au, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

New research published in the journal Nature Communications suggests that we may have an inbuilt GPS system that enables us to find our way.

Dutch researchers Jeroen Bos, Martin Vinck, Cyriel Pennartz and colleagues have “identified a new type of neuron which might play a vital role in humans' ability to navigate their environments.”

An article in Science Daily gives us the gist of what they found out:

The ability to make fine grained assessments of location is seated in the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped structure located in the temporal lobe. Research shows that the precise mechanism for navigation includes hippocampal place cells, which increase or decrease in electrical activity depending on one's location. However, when making their daily commute, people don't need very detailed representations of which houses they pass in which order. Instead, they can make due with more course information.”

They made rats navigate their way in a maze and looked at what parts of the brain they mainly used.

Jeroen Bos, the lead author of the paper, thinks they found a new type of neuron, which they dubbed the ‘neighbourhood cell.’

This neuron seems to enable the brain to specifically differentiate between distinct segments (‘neighbourhoods’) of the environment,” he says.

Our big brain is a Darwinian enigma that keeps on giving surprises to neuroscientists.

Its amazingly complex interactions cannot be explained away by Darwinian just so stories.

Source:

Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). 2017. New 'GPS' neuron discovered. Science Daily. (29 May).

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Did A Tasmanian Devil Have a Dino for Dinner?


Sarcophilus harrisii. Image courtesy of Mike Lehmann, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).





Joel Kontinen

The fossil record can be a nightmare for Darwinian evolution, as animals often appear fully formed in the wrong places, don’t evolve for aeons and any assumed intermediate forms (aka missing links) tend to be more or less suspicious.

Usually more, as in the case of Ida (Darwinius masillae).

Evolutionists used to believe that dino-era mammals were tiny, until a fossil discovery suggested that at least some of them actually ate dinosaurs.

These dino-eaters looked a lot like Tasmanian devils, although researchers were quick to give them a different name.

Repenomamus giganticus Image courtesy of Nobu Tamura, Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).


Source:

Hu, Yaoming et al. 2005. Large Mesozoic mammals fed on young dinosaurs. Nature 433, 149-152.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Dating the Gihon Spring Tower in Jerusalem Shows the Bible Got It Right

Image courtesy of David Roberts, Public Domain.



Joel Kontinen

The Gihon Spring was the main source of the water for the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem and is mentioned in the Bible.

Some archaeologists assumed that a stone tower built to guard the water system hailed from circa 1700 BC.

However, Elisabetta Boaretto and colleagues recently carbon dated the remains of charcoal, seeds and bones found in the sediments and found out that precious studies had overlooked half a metre of sediment, representing hundreds of years.

This means that the tower was erected a lot later, between 900 BC and 800 BC, during the time of King David’s descendants, just like the Old Testament tells us.

The previous date was based on pottery and other artefacts.

Just like we would expect, archaeology has confirmed that the Bible describes ancient history and culture accurately.

It recounts real events, real people and even real catastrophes, such as earthquakes.

Source:

Geggel, Laura. 2017. Ancient Jerusalem Tower Is (Much) Younger Than Thought. Live Science (16 June).

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Carboxysomes: Tiny Machines in Cyanobacteria Defy Darwin, Inspire Product Development

Image courtesy of Raul Gonzalez, Seth Axen, and Cheryl Kerfeld, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).






Joel Kontinen

Evolutionists would agree that cyanobacteria are one of the oldest organisms alive today. These tiny bacteria have hardly changed in “3 billion years” or so.

A news item published by the University of Liverpool, UK. states:

Cyanobacteria are a phylum of bacteria that produce oxygen and energy during photosynthesis, similar to green plants. They are among the most abundant organisms in oceans and fresh water. Unique internal ‘machines’ in cyanobacteria, called carboxysomes, allow the organisms to convert carbon dioxide to sugar and provide impacts on global biomass production and our environment.”

They are anything but simple.

Carboxysomes are so elegant and efficient that researchers would like to draw inspiration from how they work:

The self-assembly and modularity features of carboxysomes make them interesting systems for nanoscientists, synthetic biologists and bioengineers, who hope to find ways to design new nanomaterials and nano-bioreactors.”

Darwinian mechanisms cannot produce tiny machines that are far more effective than anything human researchers have come up with.

Source:

University of Liverpool. 2017. Nanotechnology reveals hidden depths of bacterial ‘machines’. (8 June).

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Instant Canyon Formed in 3 Days Reminds of the Effect of Noah’s Flood


Canyon Lake Gorge. Image courtesy of Larry D. Moore, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).




Joel Kontinen

How long does it take to form a canyon? It depends.

Charles Darwin thought it took millions of years, but he was wrong.

Remember Mount Saint Helens? In June 1980 a single lava flow formed over 7.5 metres (25 feet) of sediment in just three hours.

Zion Canyon was formed in a landslide in almost no time at all.

Da'an River in Taiwan carved a a 25-metre (82 feet) wide gorge in a few years.

Then there’s Canyon Lake Gorge in Texas, a 1.6-kilometre (1 mile) long canyon was formed in just three days in a single flood in 2002.

Just imagine what a year-long global flood with plenty of water could do.

Source:

Lamb, Michael P. and Mark A. Fonstad. 2010. Rapid formation of a modern bedrock canyon by a single flood event. Nature Geoscience 3, 477 – 481.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Extreme Plant Defies Hot Volcanic Environment


Campylopus pyriformis. Image courtesy of Hermann Schachner, public domain.





Joel Kontinen

When it comes to defying heat, the dwarf swan-neck moss (Campylopus pyriformis) is the plant kingdom’s extreme champion.

Introduced to us in a paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, it can thrive in a volcanic environment where the temperature rises to 72°C.

Some animals and plants can survive in almost impossible conditions.

But as far as we know, only on Earth.

This reminds us of both Creation and the Fall.

Source:

Ceurstemont, Sandrine. 2017. Extreme plants thrive at 72°C in New Zealand’s hot volcanic soil. New Scientist (9 June).

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Dino-Era Mushroom’s Fossilisation Inspires Darwinian Just-So Story

A somewhat younger mushroom, presumably. Image by an unknown artist, public domain.





Joel Kontinen

How do you preserve a mushroom for 115 million years? After all, they tend to disintegrate in just a few days.

Live Science attempts to give us an explanation: The poor mushroom fell into a river and was fossilised.

This is followed by more storytelling:

After the mushroom fell into the river, it floated into a salty lagoon and sank to the bottom, where fine sediments began to cover it. Over time, the mushroom mineralized, and its tissues were replaced with pyrite, a mineral also known as fool's gold. Later, the pyrite transformed into the mineral goethite.”

Discovered in Brazil's Crato Formation, the mushroom is a mere 5 centimetres (2 inches) tall. Named Gondwanagaricites magnificus, it is the oldest known mushroom fossil.

Fossilisation is a very tricky business. It has to happen extremely fast.

The Flood of Noah’s days would have provided excellent conditions for preserving creatures of all shapes and sizes.

Source:

Geggel, Laura. 2017. World's Oldest Fossilized Mushroom Sprouted 115 Million Years Ago. Live Science (7 June).

Friday, 9 June 2017

Noah’s Flood: There Is Still Enough Water Beneath Our Feet to Flood the Entire Planet


Blue planet.




Joel Kontinen

Sceptics should probably stop questioning the source of the water that covered our entire planet during Noah’s days.

In 2014, research suggested that enormous amounts of water are hidden right beneath our feet, trapped in a mineral called ringwoodite.

A new paper published in the journal Science Advances confirms this discovery and proposes that there is almost as much water 410 to 660 kilometres beneath us than there is in the oceans.

There’s much water beneath our feet. Image courtesy of Jasperox, Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).

And the water has been there for aeons: A recent study suggested that Earth makes its own water.

Modern science is finally catching up with Genesis: We now know that our extremely unique blue planet had water from the very beginning.

There’s watery evidence of Noah’s flood in many places, for instance under the Andes, in arid Northern Kenya and probably also in Greenland.

Source:

Coghlan, Andy. 2017. There’s as much water in Earth’s mantle as in all the oceans. New Scientist (7 June).


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Death of a Darwinian Icon: T. Rex Did Not Have Feathers, Fossil Evidence Suggests

No feathers.





Joel Kontinen

Some museums and textbooks (as well as Wikipedia, of course) have put feathers on T. rex although there is no fossil evidence that these huge reptiles ever sported them.

Recently, Dr Phil Bell (University of New England, Australia) and colleagues published a paper in the journal Biology Letters, examining skin impressions from a famous T. rex skeleton known as Wyrex.

They found no evidence of feathers.

In contrast, they found “scaly reptilian-like skin.”

However, belief in feathered dinosaurs will probably not become extinct in the very near future. Some experts have already come up with excuses for why this T. rex lacks the fluffiness they expected to see.

The Darwinian community has had to face serious problems in recent years with the discovery of Arctic dinosaurs, as well as soft tissue (that has almost become the norm) and radiocarbon (C-14) in dinosaur bone, which in effect falsifies belief in millions of years.

In addition, we have learnt that some dinosaur species never even existed.

Source:

Briggs, Helen. 2017. Study casts doubt on the idea of 'big fluffy T. rex' BBC News (7 June).

Monday, 5 June 2017

Dino-Era Tree’s Mystery: Reaching towards the Equator


Cook pines (Araucaria columnaris). Image courtesy of Fourrure, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).






Joel Kontinen

Researchers have recently learnt of, though not necessarily solved, new mysteries about trees. Who could have thought that they tend to sleep at night?

An older discovery is that they have self-assembling solar panels.

A recent paper published in the journal Ecology looks at a peculiar trait in Cook pines (Araucaria columnaris). On average, they tilt by 8.55 degrees, which happens to be twice as much as the Leaning Tower of Pisa does.

What is more, of the 256 Cook pines examined, all tilted towards the Equator.

They might do so to get more sunlight.

Like the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis), other Araucaria lived during the (assumed) heydays of the dinosaurs.

Researchers have found pollen grains of Araucaria araucana or the monkey puzzle tree below the ice cover in Antarctica, suggesting that Noah’s Flood left them there some 4,500 years ago.

Flowers also have some amazing traits. Blue leaves help them get more energy from the sun.

Source:

Malhotra, Richa. 2017. The strange Cook pine trees that always lean towards the equator. New Scientist (2 June).

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Wishful Thinking: Life on Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Image courtesy of NASA.





Joel Kontinen

If life can thrive on Earth’s ocean floors, feeding on the chemicals that gush from the rocks, why not on Europa too?” New Scientist asked recently.

The assumption behind this question is that given the chance, life will appear spontaneously almost anywhere.

However, there is no evidence for this and all origin of life hypotheses have turned out to be utter failures.

Life needs more than just water.

Europa obviously has a liquid ocean beneath its arid surface and naturalists are pinning their hopes on it.

But life needs design and design needs information. They are both non-material entities.

What makes the case even worse for their hopes is that Europa looks far too young to fit into a 4.5 billion- year- old solar system.

Source:

Battersby, Stephen. 2017. Send an ear: Listening for sounds of life in the solar system. New Scientist (31 May).

Thursday, 1 June 2017

High Time to Distrust Peer Review: Dog Sits on the Editorial Board of 7 Journals

A dog like this sits on the editorial board of seven medical journals. Image courtesy of Andrejco, public domain.





Joel Kontinen

Dr. Olivia Doll sits on the editorial board of seven medical journals.

Her CV says that she holds a degree from Subiaco College of Veterinary Science, where she currently works as senior lecturer and is an expert in canine massage. It also lists her past work at Shenton Park Institute for Canine Refuge Studies.

Dr. Olivia Doll happens to be a Staffordshire terrier named Ollie. The Shenton Park Institute is a code term for a dog shelter.

The five-year-old terrier is owned by Professor Mike Daube. He invented Dr. Doll’s credentials in an attempt to examine how carefully medical journals vet their reviewers.

Not very carefully, obviously.

None of the journals suspected anything fishy about this reviewer. She was even offered the position of associate editor of the Global Journal of Addiction and Rehabilitation Medicine.

Peer review and proper scientific conduct seem to be in a crisis. Journals have accepted bogus papers, and scientific misconduct thrives in the Darwinian world.

Source:

Ghose, Tia. 2017. Dog 'Scientist' Sits on Editorial Board of Medical Journals. Live Science (31 May).

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Some Animal Behaviour Hasn’t Changed in ”Hundreds of Millions of Years”


A snail eating sea lily poo. Image courtesy of NOAA, Okeanos Explorer.





Joel Kontinen

Evolutionists will acknowledge that animal behaviour tends to be very conservative, except in some cases when it isn’t.

Thus, they will insist that dinosaurs learnt to fly and fish stepped on dry land in search of tastier food, but these kinds of changes belong to the realm of fiction.

Recent discoveries made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) ship Okeanos Explorer and its remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer have introduced to us an amazingly beautiful undersea world.

In an article in New Scientist, deep-sea biologist Scott France noticed that the eating habits of marine snails do not differ from the snails of the Palaeozoic Era, even though it supposedly ended “252 million years ago.”

He said that it was like seeing a living fossil.

Evolution, we are told, is about change. Except when it isn’t.

And very often it isn’t.


Source:

Whyte, Chelsea. 2017. Prehistoric animal behaviour seen in latest deep-sea dives. New Scientist (30 May).

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Intelligent Design Spreads to Brazil and Turkey


Part of the Mackenzie Presbyterian University’s campus. Image courtesy of charlesblack, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 1.0).




Joel Kontinen


Design in nature has become so obvious that it can no longer be ignored.

Often, the solutions we see in animals and even plants are far more better than anything human engineers have invented.

This is good news for advocates of intelligent design (ID) for whom May has been a good month.

First, mathematician Granville Sewell (University of Texas at El Paso) and informatics expert Winston Ewert took part in a conference on evolution at Uskudar University in Istanbul.

Then, ID heavyweights Douglas Axe and Michael Behe were at Brazil’s Mackenzie Presbyterian University (Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie) in São Paulo to inaugurate a research centre on ID.

Sources:

Klinghoffer, David. 2017. Intelligent Design Shines in Brazil — More from Discovery Institute-Mackenzie Launch Evolution News (16 May).

Sewell, Granville. 2017. Intelligent Design Goes International — A Report from Istanbul. Evolution News (16 May).

Friday, 26 May 2017

Fishy Tail Tale, Courtesy of Live Science

Image courtesy of Terry Howard, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

When the title of a pro-evolution article starts with the words 'Tale of 2 Tails,' we would expect to be treated to an intriguing, yet speculative Darwinian story.

This is what recently happened at Live Science.

Marine creatures, we are told, do not swim in the same way. Whales evolved from mammals that lived on land. They move their tails up and down. Sharks, in contrast, are fish, so they move their tails from side to side.

This is how Kenneth Lacovara, a professor of paleontology and geology at Rowan University, explains the difference.

He says that this is the way their respective ancestors (Pakicetus for whales and Tiktaalik for fish) moved, and they obviously haven’t had the time to change their habits despite making transitions from land to water (whales) and water to land (fish ancestor) during the assumed tens of millions of years, and then the poor fish had to get wet again.

Tales like these might be entertaining, but they’re definitely not based on facts.

Source:

Geggel, Laura 2017. Tale of 2 Tails: Why Do Sharks and Whales Swim So Differently? Live Science (20 May).

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The ”Earliest” Animal Dickinsonia Grew in a More Complex Way Than Assumed

Image courtesy of Verisimilus, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.5).





Joel Kontinen

Darwinian evolution would predict that the earliest animals were small and at least relatively simple creatures.

However, the fossil record doesn’t always lend support to this view.

Evolutionists tend to believe that the Ediacaran-era sea creature Dickinsonia was the earliest animal.

A new paper on Dickinsonia fossils published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that it nevertheless “developed in a complex, highly regulated way using a similar genetic toolkit to today's animals” despite the assumption that it lived “550 million years” ago.

Ediacaran animals are problematic for evolution, as they appear from nowhere without any ancestors, and some of them might still live in our time.

Moreover, soft-bodied creatures should not last half a billion years.

The Cambrian Era is even more of an enigma for Darwinism. There is definitely a limit to how long soft tissues should last – and it is nowhere near 500 million years.


Source:

University of California - Riverside. 2017. Shedding light on Earth's first animals: Complex and highly regulated development of Dickinsonia, one of the oldest fossil animals, broadens our understanding of early evolution. Science Daily (17 May).


Monday, 22 May 2017

Wonders of Creation: Almost a Magic Forest Deep Below the Surface


An Anthomastus mushroom coral (centre) with some other animals. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Mountains in the Deep: Exploring the Central Pacific Basin.




Joel Kontinen

The wet world deep below the ocean surface is anything but dull.

Recent discoveries made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) ship Okeanos Explorer and its remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer has shown the incredible variety – and beauty – of deep sea animals and plants.

A recent dive discovered a mushroom coral that thrives at 2, 240 metres (7,350 feet) below the ocean surface in an environment that looks like a magic forest.

NOOA’s expeditions have shown us how incredibly beautiful deep sea life can be (see here, here, here, here and here).

They testify of the Creator, who made everything beautiful.

Source:

NOAA. 2017. NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: Dive 03: "Te Kawhiti o Maui Potiki” (2 May).

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Jumping Parrots Inspire Origin of Flight Storytelling

Pacific Parrotlets. Image courtesy of markaharper1, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).





Joel Kontinen

When it comes to watching what birds do, it’s a small step from operational science to a just so story about how dinosaurs learnt to fly.

Here’s the latest version, courtesy of the journal Science:

If you’ve ever watched a bird hop from branch to branch in search of food, you’ve caught a glimpse at how prehistoric flying dinosaurs foraged among forest trees.”

Here’s their "proof":

That’s what researchers are saying after they trained four Pacific parrotlets (Forpus coelestis)—small, pastel-colored parrots about 13 centimeters long—to jump and fly for millet seed rewards. The researchers designed a cage decked out with perches that doubled as sensors to measure the birds’ leg forces, and surrounded the cages with high-speed cameras to study the birds’ wing beats as they moved between branches.”

If the next branch was near, the parrot jumped. If it was a bit further, it jumped and flapped its wings.

Then, the researchers used this data to figure out how some extinct birds that they define as “birdlike dinosaurs” took to the air:

“Archaeopteryx and Microraptor —feathered dinosaurs that likely flew or glided between trees—would have had the most success at boosting the range of their long jumps by 20%. The larger and heavier feathered dinosaurs Protarchaeopteryx and Caudipteryx would not have been able to generate enough force from a wing beat to support their body weight or significantly increase their long jumps. The scientists surmise that Archaeopteryx developed an edge over other tree-foraging competitors by using their jumping and wing flapping to minimize energy expenditure while foraging for food in their trees. Thus, long jump Olympians of the Archaeopteryx world may have spurred the evolution of flight.”

The problem with this scenario is that it is pure Darwinian storytelling that sees birds evolving from dinosaurs.

Several studies suggest that birds and dinosaurs lived at the same time.

In addition, Archaeopteryx had the flight feathers of modern birds.

Source:

Cross, Ryan. 2017. Watch these tiny parrots reveal how dinosaurs may have learned to fly. Science (17 May).



Thursday, 18 May 2017

Frog’s Amazing Design Features Prompt Darwinian Storytelling


Kassina maculuata. These legs were made for jumping. Image courtesy of Dawson, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5).





Joel Kontinen

It is no secret that frogs are masters of jumping.

New Scientist claims that new research has shown that they “have a unique skeleton made for jumping that evolved over hundreds of millions of years, new research has shown.”

This is a mixture of fact and fiction.

The fact is that the frog’s skeleton “allows them to jump horizontally or vertically…

Precise control over their long hind legs allows the amphibians to achieve an ‘amazing’ range of jump angles, from near-horizontal to almost vertical
.”

The rest is Darwinian storytelling, an art form well mastered by pro-evolution writers.

New Scientist was commenting on research on the red-legged running frog (Kassina maculata), recently published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

NS uses words like amazing (twice) and astonishingly to describe the skills of this African frog and does not attempt to describe its assumed evolution.

The problem with evolution is that it relies on the wrong type of change.

Actually, frogs confirm the after its kind principle introduced in the Book of Genesis.

Source:

New Scientist staff and Press Association. 2017. Frog skeleton allows them to jump horizontally or vertically. (18 May).

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Ladybird’s Hi-Tech Folding Wings Inspire Solar Array Paddles and Foldable Wings


Transverse Ladybird (Coccinella transversalis). Image courtesy of JJ Harrison, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

Ladybirds might be tiny, but they’re not stupid or clumsy. After landing, they can pack their wings into almost no space at all.

Kazuya Saito (University of Tokyo) and colleagues used high-speed video to watch a ladybird fold its wings.

They found that prominent veins along the edge of the wings allow creases to form and fold the wings away in a complex, origami-like shape. A bend in the wing can drift down a vein as it gets folded, but the wing is ready to spring back to a rigid form when the elytra [i.e. wing cases] open,” New Scientist explains.

The insect does this very fast.

The wing frames do not have any joints. The NS article also suggests a biomimicry dimension. This “folding mechanism could help us build solar array paddles that unfold themselves in space, foldable wings for small vehicles, or even lead to better umbrellas.”

Biomimicry or copying intelligent solutions seen in nature has in recent years become a popular and lucrative research field.

Nature is a library from which industry can learn,” says David Hills, Director of Research and Technology (R&T) at Airbus.

From lotus leaves and mantis shrimps to the chameleon’s tongue and gecko’s feet, engineers are copying intelligent solutions they see in nature.

Amazing design implies an amazing Designer. The most logical explanation is that the Creator God designed them all.



Source:

Whyte, Chelsea. 2017. Ladybird’s transparent shell reveals how it folds its wings. New Scientist (15 May).

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Stephen Hawking and Other Astronomers at Loggerheads Over Cosmic Inflation

This scenario is a source of naturalistic contention. Image courtesy of Yinweichen, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

The Big Bang model has several serious problems. It does not work without cosmic inflation that New Scientist recently called a totally bonkers idea.

No one knows what caused it or why it slowed at the time it did.

It is a naturalistic dogma that should not be contested.

However, recently physicists Anna Ijjas, Paul J. Steinhardt and Abraham Loeb published an article in Scientific American in which they examined “the latest measurements from the European Space Agency relating to cosmic microwave background (CMB)” and suggested that the data did not support the inflation theory.

An article in Newsweek points out some fatal flaws in the theory:

– No one has found primordial gravitational waves, or ripples in spacetime created by the Big Bang.
– Inflation requires the existence of “inflationary energy,” for which there is no direct evidence.

Ijjas and colleagues think that the idea of a “big bounce”, i.e. periods of expansion and contraction, fits the data better.

However, Stephen Hawking and 32 other astronomers replied with an angry letter, stating that they believe that the Big Bang and its concomitant cosmic inflation is the more credible explanation for the origin of the cosmos.

There are other serious problems with the Big Bang as well: the mystery of quantum fluctuation, missing dark matter and the likewise elusive dark energy and antimatter.

In addition, the earliest galaxies formed too quickly.

He [God] made the stars also,” Genesis tells us. That is by far the best explanation for the existence of the universe.

Source:

Osborne, Hannah. 2017. Big Bang or Big Bounce? Stephen Hawking and Others Pen Angry Letter About How the Universe Began. Newsweek (12 May).

Friday, 12 May 2017

A Global Flood at the Wrong Time


Noah’s Flood was global.




Joel Kontinen

Secular scientists have tended to ignore Noah’s global flood, substituting it with a local inundation in either the Black Sea area or the Tigris-Euphrates region in Mesopotamia.

Now, however, a paper published in the journal Geology attempts to associate a major flood with the aftermath of an extreme ice age.

According to naturalistic thinking, the Sun was far less bright in its youth than it is now. The faint young Sun paradox was supposed to make Earth almost completely frozen, an epoch known as snowball Earth.

For some mysterious reasons, Earth did not freeze to death.

Now, researchers are proposing that the ice melted fast, forming a freshwater ocean 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) deep. They think that volcanic eruptions caused “a runaway greenhouse effect,” as New Scientist puts it.

Based on mathematical models, their global flood occurred over “600 million years” ago.

The real flood destroyed the entire primeval world some 4,500 years ago. Only eight people and representatives of all animal kinds survived the devastating flood.

Source:

Owens, Brian. 2017. Snowball Earth melting led to freshwater ocean 2 kilometres deep. New Scientist (10 May).


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Homo naledi Is “Startlingly Young” – Can’t Be a Missing Link


H. naledi. Image courtesy of John Hawks, Marina Elliott, Peter Schmid et al, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).





Joel Kontinen

All we know of the Missing Link is that he is missing,” G.K. Chesterton famously said roughly a century ago.

This is still true.

Evolutionists hoped that Homo naledi could be the link between Australopithecines (such as Lucy aka Au. afarensis and Au. Sediba) and humans, when the first paper on the fossils was published in 2015.

Professor Lee Berger, who with his colleagues discovered the remains, believed that H. naledi could be as old as “3 million years”, a convenient age for a transitional fossil.

However, the remains were recently dated, giving an age between “236,000 and 335,000 years,” yet they had very primitive features.

This is astonishingly young for a species that still displays primitive characteristics found in fossils about two million years old,” Chris Stringer told BBC news.

Three new papers published in the journal eLife report on the discovery of a second cave near the first, featuring relatively complete remains of H. naledi.

Their message does nothing to help evolution. What has been missing since Darwin’s days is still missing.

Sources:

Rincon, Paul. 2017. Amazing haul of ancient human finds unveiled. BBC news (9 May).

University of the Witwatersrand. 2017. Homo naledi's surprisingly young age opens up more questions on where we come from: Homonin [sic] discovered in 2015 by the Rising Star team in South Africa was alive between 335,000 and 236,000 years ago. Science Daily. (9 May).


Monday, 8 May 2017

New Secular Origin of Earth Hypothesis Fails

An artist's impression of a protoplanetary disk. Image courtesy of ESO/L. Calçada - ESO, Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0).





Joel Kontinen

Scientists who only invoke natural causes are having a hard time in trying to explain how Earth formed.

Researchers have often had to change their views, as they have not been supported by facts.

New Scientist acknowledges that most of these explanations “have troubling problems.” They rely on dust particles coming together, forming rocks and eventually planets.

The troubling part is that the four terrestrial planets of our solar system, i.e., Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, are mostly built of rock and iron, which don’t stick together very well.

Thus, a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters tries a different approach. It relies on a “hyperactive young sun.”

Based on the assumption that some young stars get brighter (and obviously also bigger) as they age, it proposes that something similar might also have happened here.

There is no empirical evidence for this, but some researchers think it helps explain why Mars is so small.

A much more logical approach would be to stick with what Genesis clearly tells us: God created the planets; they never evolved from dust and space rocks.

Moreover, we know that Earth is unique. It cannot have come about through purely naturalistic processes.

Sources:

Croswell, Ken. 2017. Earth may have been born in a huge flare-up of the young sun. New Scientist (8 May).

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Invisible Fish: Hatchetfish Uses Stealth Technology to Evade Predators

Image courtesy of Francesco Costa, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

Compared to the best what human engineers have achieved in stealth technology, the lowly hatchetfish is way ahead of them.

A research highlights item in Nature describes how it manages to pull it off:

Hiding from predators is tricky in the open ocean, particularly at depths where ambient light still penetrates. The hatchetfish (Argyropelecus spp.) has a bioluminescent belly that allows it to blend in with sunlight from above. Now Alison Sweeney and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia have discovered other optical tricks that the animal uses to make itself invisible.”

The researchers used transmission electron microscopy and optical modelling to look at the fish’s skin and made some interesting observations:

“[They] found that it is composed of two layers of cells. The top layer consists of rectangular stacks of cells that reflect the faint ambient light while scattering light beams from predators that use bioluminescence to spot their prey. A second layer of cells, grouped together into thick, elliptical tubes, redirects light beams downward.”

As expected, the study has a biomimicry dimension:

Studying these specialized structures could aid the development of stealth technology for open-ocean vessels, the authors say.”

Darwinian mechanisms could hardly produce stealth technology, which requires intelligence.

Engineers are busy copying the smart solutions they see in us and in creatures big and small.

No wonder biomimicry or copying intelligent solutions seen in creation has become a flourishing research field.

Source:

Nature. 2017. Research Highlights: Hatchetfish cloaking strategies unveiled (3 May).


Thursday, 4 May 2017

Cells As Teachers: More Evidence of Amazing Design in Us


Image courtesy of Volker Brinkmann. Neutrophil engulfing Bacillus anthracis. PLoS Pathogens 1 (3), November 2005. Creative Commons (CC BY 2.5).





Joel Kontinen

There’s a whole lotta shakin' goin' on in our cells every single nanosecond, although we might not notice it. Old cells die off, some are killed, and new ones step in to take their place.

In other words, we learnt to recycle aeons ago.

In 2017, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, for his work on the mechanisms of autophagy (αὐτόφαγος, autóphagos), a term that means self-eating.

We also have other ways of getting rid of old cells: apoptosis or programmed cell death, and phagocytosis.

A new paper takes a look at the mechanics of phagocytosis or the process of eating cells. Cells called macrophages or ‘big eaters’ (μακρος, makros ‘large’ and φαγειν. phagein ‘eat’) devour damaged cells.

An article in Science Daily gives the gist of what happens:

Phagocytosis is a biological mechanism whereby specialized cells ingest and degrade old, dead, or damaged cells to prevent tissue damage due to their accumulation. But phagocytosis appears to also have an educational role. Scientists at the Centro Nacional de Investigadores Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) report in the Journal of Experimental Medicine that phagocytosis not only eliminates useless cells, but also 'educates' macrophages, the immune cells that carry it out.”

It all sounds like intelligent design. The Darwinian blind watchmaker could hardly have envisioned such a move.

The article goes on to say:

Macrophages are immune cells that normally are distributed throughout all body tissues and work to rid the organism of any type of biological material that needs to be eliminated, from injurious material such as glass particles and viruses to proteins or larger complexes that appear, for example, during embryonic development. Macrophages are also important for eliminating dangerous cells, for example, cancer cells or lymphocytes that recognize self molecules and that could cause an autoimmune immune disorder, such as those found in patients with lupus of rheumatoid arthritis.”

The researchers noticed that there are different kinds of “phagocytosing macrophages” in different tissues.

And there’s more:

The act of ingesting expired cells educates the immune system in how to maintain tissues in a clean and healthy state, and that macrophages play a very important role in this process. The study identifies in detail the molecules that carry out important tasks in the phagocytic process in each tissue, from the gut to the liver and bone marrow. Surprisingly, the researchers found that each tissue has its own specific molecular toolkit for eliminating unwanted cells.”

There’s no shortage of wonders in our cells: they not only demolish but also build. For instance, they make 100,000 ribosomes every single hour.

Ribosomes are ingeniously designed” nanomachines.

Complexity does not just happen; it has to be designed.

Source:

Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares. 2017. Cell 'canibalism' [sic] educates our defenses. Science Daily (3 May).


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

New Scientist Admits: Liberals Are Biased And Deluded


Image courtesy of Becker1999, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).



Joel Kontinen

New Scientist has admitted that liberals are “just as deluded as everybody else.”

Reporting on several recent studies, NS concludes that liberals are anything but open-minded.

Research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests that like anybody else they were so “averse to listening to opposing viewpoints on hot-button issues, such as same-sex marriage [that]…they were willing to give up the chance to win money just to avoid the unpleasantness of hearing an opinion they disliked.”

The NS article uses expressions like 'the Regressive Left' and admits that American university culture is toxic and intolerant, thanks to "liberals".

NS also discloses that people who regard themselves as progressives and vote for Democrats, do not necessarily embrace science – even though they might march for it:

Consider Seattle, a city that voted 87 per cent for Hillary Clinton and is proudly one of the most progressive … in the US. A warm embrace of scientific reality doesn’t come with the territory: Seattle isn’t terribly fond of biotechnology, rejecting GMOs and even vaccines. Rwanda’s childhood polio vaccination rate is higher than Seattle’s. As for other vaccines, including MMR, only five US states have higher exemption rates than Washington State.”

We welcome the opportunity to agree with NS’ conclusions, as this doesn’t happen too often. (Here’s one noticeable exception.)

Recent weeks have provided us with empirical proof of how closed-minded liberals really are.

Bill Nye, for instance, would rather suck than explore the merits in alternatives to his godless worldview.

This is probably also true of men like Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins.

Source:

Berezow, Alex. 2017. Liberals are no strangers to confirmation bias after all. New Scientist (28 April).

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Lawrence Krauss Writes a Godless Bible of Sorts


The Messier 101 (M101) galaxy. Image courtesy of ESA/Hubble, Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).



Joel Kontinen

It is not often that the journal Nature uses the epithet 'fundamental science', but recently it did. This memorable occasion was ushered in by the publication of Lawrence M. Krauss’ book The Greatest Story Ever Told ... So Far (Simon & Schuster, 2017).

Krauss, a theoretical physicist who is known for his outspoken atheism, attempts to use the Bible’s outline to give his own view of the development of cosmology.

He divides his timeline into three parts, 'Genesis', 'Exodus' and 'Revelation'.

Genesis begins with Sir Isaac Newton’s discoveries. It seems that even Krauss cannot deny the contributions of Bible-believing scientists like Newton (1642–1727), Michael Faraday (1791–1867) and James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879).

Exodus follows next:

“ 'Genesis' ends in the mid-1930s, with the discovery of the neutrino and short-range weak force. It is silly for Krauss to analogize this period to the part of the Bible in which the Jews are enslaved in Egypt, but that's the flavour of this book.”

And then it’s time for Revelation, which, oddly enough, coincides with entering the Promised Land:

“'Revelation' comes with the development in the 1970s of the standard model of particle physics, which describes all known particles and three of the four known forces. Krauss dubs it ‘perhaps the greatest theoretical edifice yet created by human minds’. He calls what came next the attaining of the ‘Promised Land’ (mixing the biblical structure). Krauss also likens the discovery of the model to the allegory of the cave in Plato's Republic, in which humans are captivated by shadows and illusions, but philosophers can become aware of the 'forms' underlying existence. For Krauss, it is scientists who go ‘outside our cave of shadows to glimpse the otherwise hidden reality beneath the surface’.

But this golden age has more than its fair share of unsurmountable difficulties.

Nature’s reviewer Robert P. Crease does not think much of the book. He says it uses sloppy analogies. He ends by saying:

“Krauss clearly thinks that his story deserves to displace the classics of the humanities. His book reveals why it can't.”

Bill Nye famously played down the significance of humans by saying: “I suck.” Krauss has a similar message: We’re accidents.

If this is the best atheism can give humanity, then it is a very dismal option indeed.

Source:

Grease, Robert P. 2017. Physics: Revelations of fundamental science. Nature 544, 34. (6 April).


Friday, 28 April 2017

Star-Nosed Mole Defies Darwinian Expectations

Star-nosed mole. Image courtesy of US National Parks Service, Public domain.




Joel Kontinen

When a science publication describes an animal as weird, we can be sure that the creature does not match Darwinian expectations.

National Geographic recently introduced the star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) to its readers. The bizarre creature is totally blind, but it is amazingly quick:

The mole hunts by bopping its star against the soil as quickly as possible; it can touch 10 or 12 different places in a single second...

With each touch, 100,000 nerve fibers send information to the mole’s brain. That’s five times more touch sensors than in the human hand, all packed into a nose smaller than a fingertip
.”

While it lives below ground in perpetual darkness and feeds on earthworms, the mole can also swim and use its sensitive star to detect prey in water.

The NG article credits evolution for the creature’s skills, but it is certain that the blind watchmaker could not produce such a well-designed animal.

Some animals, for instance the duck-billed platypus, the spiny anteater, a singing fish, the now extinct pig-footed bandicoot (Chaeropus ecaudatus) and a warm-blooded fish, don’t fit the Darwinian mould.


Source:

Engelhaupt, Erika. 2017. Inside the Bizarre Life of the Star-Nosed Mole, World's Fastest Eater. National Geographic (23 April).

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Homo naledi Turns Out to Be Much Younger Than Expected


Homo naledi. Image courtesy of Lee Roger Berger research team, Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0).




Joel Kontinen

This has been an interesting week for the evolution of two assumed human ancestors.

First, the journal Science suggested that Australopithecus sediba should be tossed out of the human family tree. Then, National Geographic acknowledged that Homo naledi is “only” 200,000 – 300,000 years old, making it far too young to be a direct human ancestor.

Both discoveries were known to be very controversial.

In 2010 Lee Berger and his team discovered Australopithecus sediba that was once touted as a human ancestor but was later practically tossed aside by some other anthropologists.

Then, in 2015 Professor Berger and colleagues published a paper on what they claimed to be a new human species. Found in a cave in South Africa, their discovery consisted of 1,500 pieces of teeth and bones that were not dated, and some experts thought they might be too young to fit into our family tree.

One of the estimates put their age at 912,000 years BP (before present).

Now, in an interview published in National geographic, Berger suggested that H. naledi might be a lot younger.

For evolutionists, the curved ape-like fingers, small skull and other primitive features of H. naledi are an enigma. They believe that modern H. sapiens appeared some 200, 000 years ago, leaving practically no time for evolution.

Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London thinks that H. naledi might be “a relic species, retaining many primitive traits from a much earlier time.”

Prof. Berger has likened it to the Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae), the living fossil that was supposedly able to retain primitive features for 400 million years.

Others have compared it to the hobbit or H. floriensis that has been the source of heated debate since its discovery in 2003.

And least one thing is sure: there’s no end in sight for updates to our assumed family trees, and artists will hardly have to fear for their jobs until the day comes when Darwinian evolution will be tossed out as pseudoscience.

Source:

Barras, Colin. 2017. Homo naledi is only 250,000 years old – here’s why that matters. New Scientist (25 April).

Monday, 24 April 2017

Holocaust Remembrance Day: Time to Remember What Science Gone Wrong Can Do and What Some Heroic Dissenters Did

The Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. Image: Public Domain.





Joel Kontinen

Just two days after Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson and many others praised the wonders of consensus science, it’s time for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It is a stark reminder of how far science can go astray. Just over 70 years ago, eugenics was seen as a valid field of research, and Josef Mengele was conducting scientific experiments on Jews at Auschwitz.

Historians will tell us that the Holocaust was inspired by Darwinian evolution. German Nazis sought to help natural selection to get rid of the “unfit”.

Fortunately, among all the destruction, Oskar Schindler and other brave dissenters saved the lives of hundreds of Jews.

Sir Nicholas Winton shipped 669 Jewish children to Great Britain.

Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker, teamed with 20 others and smuggled 2,500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, some in ambulances and trams between October 1940 and April 1943 and placed them in Catholic homes.

Under the pretext of inspecting the ghetto's sanitary conditions during a typhoid outbreak, Mrs Sendler and her assistants went inside in search of children who could be smuggled out and given a chance of survival by living as Catholics,” the Daily Mail reported in 2008, when she died at age 98.

She risked her life in the brave operation and despite being caught in 1943 and tortured, she refused to betray any of her helpers – and outlived those who tried to stop her.

Source:

Dead at 98: Heroic Irena Sendler, who helped save 2,500 Jewish children from the Nazis. Daily Mail 12 May 2008.


Saturday, 22 April 2017

Does Mother Earth Day Inspire the March for Science?

Mother Earth has become a cultural icon.




Joel Kontinen

It used to be known as Earth Day. The United Nations has gone a step further and re-named it The International Mother Earth Day.

The green ideology behind this move could hardly have been more obvious.

Some would even say that the mushroom is our brother.

Some others want to give apes and rivers the same rights we have.

The post-Christian world wants its share of holy days, such as Darwin Day and Earth Day.

It is probably no coincidence that the March for Science takes place on 22nd April or (Mother) Earth Day.

To mark the day, we have a celebrity scientist (Neil deGrasse Tyson) warning of the dangers “science denial”.

If this sounds like the newspeak introduced by George Orwell, the most likely explanation is that it indeed is.

By this he means being sceptical of consensus science, i.e. Darwinian evolution and human-induced climate change.

It seems that most of the marchers are leaning left politically. Some of them are probably worried about the war on science, which, as we know, is another illustration of Orwellian newspeak.

We should not forget that while we have a mandate to care for Earth, we should certainly not worship it – that would be idolatry.

Sources:

International Mother Earth Day

Staedter,Tracy. 2017. Neil deGrasse Tyson Warns Science Denial Could 'Dismantle' Democracy. Live Science (20 April).


Thursday, 20 April 2017

LHS 1140b: Newly Discovered Super-Earth Might Not Be a Good Place for Life

LHS 1140b. Image courtesy of ESO/spaceengine.org.




Joel Kontinen

The naturalistic worldview can’t tolerate the possibility that we are unique or that our planet might be very special. It requires a universe that is teeming with alien life.

After all, if life evolved on Earth, it should have evolved elsewhere as well, the naturalist thinks.

Thus, from time to time we are bombarded with the news of the discovery of an Earth-like exoplanet that might harbour life.

The latest candidate is LHS 1140b. Described as a “rocky, temperate super-Earth,” it orbits a red dwarf every 25 days, some 40 light years from us.

Red dwarfs tend to be anything but calm, throwing our flares that would soon snuff out all emerging life, but astronomers assume that the star LHS 1140 is unusually calm.

They hope it has liquid water. However, we can’t be sure of that. It might well be wishful thinking.

NASA and other space agencies have made so many false alarms in the past, so it’s best to remain a bit sceptical.

New Scientist discusses five of the best candidates for alien life. None of them are very convincing.

The Trappist system turned out to be a big disappointment after the initial excitement died off, and the other recently discovered “Earth-like” planets – Proxima b, Kepler 186f and GJ 132b – have not fared well, either.

What we know is that Earth’s twin is still missing and will probably remain so, as life only comes from life. It cannot be produced by Darwinian mechanisms.

It has to be created. In the beginning God createdis still the best explanation for why there is life anywhere in the universe.

Source:

Crane, Leah. 2017. The five best exoplanets in the galaxy to check for alien life. New Scientist (19 April).

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Amber Discloses “99-Million-Year-Old” Symbiosis Between Beetles and Termites


An artist’s impression of an ancient niche. Image courtesy of Chenyang Cai et al, 2017. Early Evolution of Specialized Termitophily in Cretaceous Rove Beetles, Current Biology.




Joel Kontinen

Symbiosis is not a modern invention. A paper published in the journal Current Biology re-writes the known history of symbiosis between beetles and termites:

Tracking the relationship between ancient termites and symbionts like rove beetles has proved challenging; this new evidence indicates that rove beetles partnered with termites 80 million years sooner than previously thought,” Live Science reports.

The previous record-holding termitophiles were “19 million years” old.

Found in a mine in Burma (Myanmar), Cretotrichopsenius burmiticus are only 0.7 millimetres (0.03 inches) long and look like today’s rove beetles that live in symbiosis with termites.

This shows that there’s hardly anything new under the sun. Most insects trapped in amber look practically the same as today’s animals.

Beetles are living fossils that haven’t changed since the heydays of the dinosaurs.

New discoveries are pushing back the dates when animals lived. If this trend continues, we will sooner or later have all kinds of organisms living at the same time and Darwinian evolution will be in big trouble.

Source:

Weisberger, Mindy. 2017. Amber Tomb Trapped Ancient, Termite-Loving Beetles. Live Science (13 April).

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Live Science Tries to Explain the Ten Plagues of Egypt "Scientifically", and Fails



The Plague of Flies, c. 1896–1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot. Public Domain.




Joel Kontinen

Easter is the season when sceptics try to cast doubt on the reliability of the Bible.

One of their strategies is to explain away the miraculous in the Bible, but often their brave new theories lack substance.

Jesus’ death is their favourite, but they also have naturalistic versions of other events, such as Saint Paul’s conversion, which according to their view was caused by a meteor.

This time Live Science attempts to give a scientific explanation for each of the 10 plagues described in the Old Testament book of Exodus:

The 1st plague, blood, was probably caused by a red algae bloom colouring the Nile red.

The 2nd plague, frogs, is not so special as frogs tend to drop from the sky every now and then.

The 3rd plague, lice, might be associated with the bubonic plague.

The 4th plague, flies, might have been any wild animal, including some bigger ones, such as snakes, lions or bears.

The 5th plague, livestock disease, could have been caused by rinderpest.

The 6th plague, boils, could have been smallpox.

The 7th plague, hail, might have been caused by an eruption on the Greek island of Santorini.

The 8th plague, locusts, might be a consequence of the Santorini eruption.

However, according to some estimates the volcano on Santorini might have erupted 300 years before Moses' time.

The 9th plague, darkness, was could have been caused by a solar eclipse (which, however, never last for three days) or by ashes from the Santorini eruption.

The 10th plague, death of the firstborn, might have been caused by eating grain infected by the poisonous algae bloom.

But why would this only kill the firstborn, some of whom were still babies, and no one else?

For Live Science, the answer is not even blowin’ in the wind.

In 2010 the National Geographic Channel aired a programme that featured rather similar explanations.

It is probably needless to say that their solutions were not at all credible.

Source:

Live Science Staff. 2017. The Science of the 10 Plagues. Live Science (11 April).

Friday, 14 April 2017

Easter: The Resurrected Christ Lives in Spite of Conspiracy Theories and Fake News


Image: El Greco (1580): Jesus Carrying the Cross, Public domain.




Joel Kontinen

Easter seems to be a difficult time for unbelievers. While Christians celebrate the passion of Jesus Christ that brings salvation for all who believe in Him, atheists and other sceptics try to explain why they are unwilling to accept the testimony of hundreds of reliable witnesses who saw the Lord Jesus alive after the resurrection.

They have invented several conspiracy theories as an excuse for not believing a historical fact.

The Apostle Paul says that Jesus is the Last Adam.

The first Adam brought death into the world by eating from a tree.

The Last Adam overcame death by dying on a tree.

Just in time for Easter, Graham Lawton asks whether atheism is a religion. While he would not agree with my conclusion, atheism requires faith. It relies on a speculative and ever-changing narrative of how we got here.

In contrast, the Bible is based on true history. Jesus’ empty tomb confirms that He is truly risen.

Have a blessed Easter time!

Source:

Lawton, Graham. 2017. Faith of the faithless: Is atheism just another religion? New Scientist (11 April).