Friday, 8 June 2018

The Bible Explains the Origin of Agriculture Better than Secular Predictions Do


Image courtesy of The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), Public Domain.




Joel Kontinen

Genesis tells us that at the dawn of history Cain cultivated crops and brought them as an offering to God. Secularists, however, would reject this view of history and predict a different past for humanity.

But the facts are stacked against the naturalistic view. History and archaeology show that agriculture arose rapidly in at least a dozen or so places just a few thousand years ago.

Evolutionists need to explain why it took over 200,000 years from the emergence of modern man to the discovery of agriculture.

Here’s their best try: “Using a new methodological approach, researchers at Colorado State University and Washington University in St. Louis have uncovered evidence that underscores one long-debated theory: that agriculture arose out of moments of surplus, when environmental conditions were improving, and populations lived in greater densities,” a recent press release issued by University of Colorado suggests.

Actually, they haven’t found evidence for this. What the researchers did was predicting population densities, as they assumed that agriculture needed a fairly large population.

They should probably have taken a look at some archaeological discoveries, which suggest that hunter gatherers (for instance at Göbekli Tepe) and other stone age people were anything but simpletons. Their art rivalled that of Picasso, and their buildings are still a source of amazement.

Researchers have proposed that religious belief inspired the building of their civilisations.

The Bible’s account of history explains the origin of agriculture much better than secular predictions do.

Source:

University of Colorado. 2018. On the origins of agriculture, researchers uncover new clues. (4 June).

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

New Research Attempts to Explain the Evolution of the Human Brain

Image courtesy of Patrick J. Lynch, CC BY 2.5.



Joel Kontinen

Once again, the human brain is making headlines.

Its complexity continues to baffle scientists and it inspires engineers to build smarter computers.

As our big brain is a Darwinian enigma, evolutionists have to try to explain its genesis.

Two papers in the journal Cell report on the discovery of the gene family NOTCH2NL Science Daily explains:

The genes are found exclusively in humans, are heavily expressed in neural stem cells of the human cerebral cortex, and are located on a part of the genome implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders.

The discovery has inspired some typical Darwinian storytelling.

The researchers suspect that some three million years ago, these genes enabled the human brain to become three times as big as previously. And that is why we have the ability to “think, problem-solve, and develop culture.”

The basic problem in these studies is that they merely discovered what these genes do now. The part on their evolution is wholly superfluous and amounts to storytelling.

Source:

Cell Press. 2018. Meet NOTCH2NL, the human-specific genes that may have given us our big brains. Science Daily. (31 May).

Monday, 4 June 2018

New Evidence for the Crucifixion Found

This cross is on Magnetic Island, near Townsville, Queensland.



Joel Kontinen

The Gospels describe the crucifixion of Jesus in much detail. The Apostle Paul also states that it was the fulfilment of prophesy:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3, Berean Study Bible).

A new paper published in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences provides evidence for this Roman method of executing criminals.

Live Science explains:

A new study of the skeletal remains of the man, found near Venice in 2007, reveals a lesion and unhealed fracture on one of the heel bones that suggests his feet had been nailed to a cross…

The skeletal remains were found at Gavello, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Venice, during archaeological excavations in preparation for the laying of a pipeline, the researchers said in their study
.”

The article goes on to say:

“A depressed, unhealed fracture in the heel bone suggested a metal nail had been driven through it, from the inside to the outside of the right foot, either directly onto the wood of a cross or into a wooden footrest attached to a cross.

‘We found a particular lesion on the right calcaneus [heel bone] passing through the entire bone,’ lead study author Emanuela Gualdi, a medical anthropologist at the University of Ferrara, told Live Science in an email
.”

When the Bible describes historical matters, it always gets the facts, including the tiny details, right.

Secular ancient writers were unable to deny the historicity of Jesus.

Archaeology confirms that the Bible is history. The Bible tells us about real people and real events, such as the earthquake mentioned by the prophet Amos and the one that occurred during Jesus’ crucifixion.

We should not be surprised, as Jesus Himself says in John 17:17 that God’s Word is truth.

Source:

Metcalfe, Tom. 2018. How Jesus Died: Rare Evidence of Roman Crucifixion Found. Live Science (4 June).

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Physicist Alexander Berezin Believes in Aliens and Fears We Might Kill Them Off

Image courtesy of Pikawil, CC BY-SA 2.0.




Joel Kontinen

Looking at the night sky can inspire a variety of ideas. 3,000 years ago, King David saw the glory of God displayed in the starry sky:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1, NIV).

In contrast, physicist Enrico Fermi had a very different idea in mind. Roughly 70 years ago he came up with the question "Where is everybody?"

Known as the Fermi paradox, his puzzle has remained unsolved.

Some ET enthusiasts believe that there are billions of extraterrestrial worlds that might be home to intelligent life.

Now, Alexander Berezin, a theoretical physicist at the National Research University of Electronic Technology in Russia, has proposed a new answer to Fermi's paradox — but he doesn't think you're going to like it. Because, if Berezin's hypothesis is correct, it could mean a future for humanity that's ‘even worse than extinction’,” Live Science writes.

Quoting a paper Berezin wrote in the preprint journal arxiv.org, "What if the first life that reaches interstellar travel capability necessarily eradicates all competition to fuel its own expansion?"

Berezin thinks that in our aspiration to reach other worlds, we might unwittingly do a lot of damage, perhaps even annihilating all extraterrestrial worlds.

However, there is a big but in this scenario. We have no evidence that extraterrestrials even exist. They might well be a figment of Darwinian imagination combined with a big dose of science fiction.

All signals thought to hail from intelligent aliens have been false ones, including the famous wow signal and the sounds coming from the assumed megastructure near Tabby’s star that raised hopes in the SETI community.

What is more, aliens have never bothered to answer our messages, but this has not put an end to the hope that one fine day they might do so.

Source:

Specktor, Brandon. 2018. Aliens Are Real, But Humans Will Probably Kill Them All, New Paper Says Live Science (1 June).

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Radiocarbon Dating Might Give Too Old Dates, at Least in the Levant

Image: Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872), The Battle of Jericho, Public Domain.




Joel Kontinen

Radiocarbon dating is thought to be a highly reliable dating method, but a new paper published in the journal PNAS suggests that carbon dates may be off by several decades and, in some cases, a hundred years or so.

Other dating methods are even less reliable.

Manning et al. state:

“We observe a substantive and fluctuating offset in measured radiocarbon ages between plant material growing in the southern Levant versus the standard Northern Hemisphere radiocarbon calibration dataset derived from trees growing in central and northern Europe and North America. This likely relates to differences in growing seasons with a climate imprint.”

They go on to say:

This finding is significant for, and affects, any radiocarbon application in the southern Levant region and especially for high-resolution archaeological dating—the focus of much recent work and scholarly debate, especially surrounding the timeframe of the earlier Iron Age (earlier Biblical period). Our findings change the basis of this debate; our data point to lower (more recent) ages by variously a few years to several decades.”

The half-life of Carbon-14 is 5,730 years, so the study does not affect really old dates.

Evolutionists will not carbon date dinosaur bone, though they certainly should do so, as they’re known to contain C-14, thus falsifying the dogma of millions of years.

And they should date coal and diamonds as well.

Source:

Manning, Sturt W et al. 2018. Fluctuating radiocarbon offsets observed in the southern Levant and implications for archaeological chronology debates. PNAS (29 May).

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Alien Life Enthusiasts Want to Recruit Laypeople to Decode Alien Messages

Some want to send messages to aliens; others want to decipher messages sent by assumed aliens. Image courtesy of Arne Nordmann, CC BY-SA 3.0.





Joel Kontinen

Whereas the SETI folks would like to see evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, the METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) people go a step or two further. They want to decode messages sent by intelligent aliens.

Last week METI held a workshop in Los Angeles with the aim of finding out if “language — or at least certain essential elements of language — might be universal throughout the cosmos.”

Noam Chomsky promoted the view that all “terrestrial languages share a common underlying structure," and the METI folks think that this might also apply to the whole universe.

Sheri Wells-Jensen, a linguist at Bowling Green University in Ohio, wants to recruit laypeople to decipher potential messages sent by aliens.

For some reason, the SETI/METI people tend to assume that aliens are “far more advanced technologically than we are” and thus capable of sending intelligent messages from their home planet or spaceship tens of hundreds of light years away.

However, all signals thought to hail from intelligent aliens have been false ones, including the famous wow signal and the sounds coming from the assumed megastructure near Tabby’s star that raised hopes in the SETI community.

What is more, aliens have never bothered to answer our messages, but this has not put an end to the hope that one fine day they might do so.

However, there is no evidence that space aliens even exist.

Source:

Wall, Mike l. 2018. Intelligent Aliens Might Speak Our Language. And You Can Help Decode Their Messages. Live Science (27 May).

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Like to Eat Insects? Thank Our Assumed Ancestors for Your Gourmet Choices

Pangolin, Manis javanica. Image courtesy of Piekfrosch, CC BY-SA 3.0 .




Joel Kontinen

Why do some people like to eat insects? Reporting on a new paper published in the journal Science Advances, Phys.org proposes an answer.

It has to do with our (assumed) ancestors – “small, furry creatures that scurried around the feet of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago” – who were mostly insect eaters.

“The scientists inferred this because the genes for the enzymes that allowed these early ancestors of all mammals to digest insects are still hanging around in nearly all mammal genomes today.”

These enzymes are called chitinases. Scientists think that humans also have a chitinase gene as well as “remnants of three other chitinase genes in their genome, though none of them are functional.”

This does not signify common descent, however.

While the paper never even suggests that there might be a better and more logical explanation than a typical Darwinian just-so story, common design is a far more credible one.

Source:

University of California - Berkeley. 2018. What we inherited from our bug-eating ancestors. Phys.org (16 May).


Friday, 25 May 2018

The Human Brain Continues to Puzzle Evolutionists

Image courtesy of Patrick J. Lynch, CC BY 2.5.



Joel Kontinen

The human brain is a Darwinian enigma.

In 2008 Harvard professor Richard Lewontin admitted that scientists did not know anything about brain evolution.

That did not put an end to speculations, however. From just-so stories about our assumed lizard brain to more sophisticated – but not necessarily brainy – assumptions, evolutionists have brought up new hypotheses and resurrected some old ones.

Neuroscientists are willing to admit that the human brain is a wonderful organ, capable of surprisingly complex interactions,” as the journal Neuron put it in 2016.

Our large brain continues to puzzle scientists. A paper published in Nature attempts to explain how it came to be so big, six times as large as those of mammals of comparable size.

According to the abstract, “establishing causes for brain-size evolution remains difficult. Here we introduce a metabolic approach that enables causal assessment of social hypotheses for brain-size evolution. Our approach yields quantitative predictions for brain and body size from formalized social hypotheses given empirical estimates of the metabolic costs of the brain. Our model predicts the evolution of adult Homo sapiens-sized brains and bodies when individuals face a combination of 60% ecological, 30% cooperative and 10% between-group competitive challenges, and suggests that between-individual competition has been unimportant for driving human brain-size evolution.” (internal references omitted).

The authors go on to conclude: “Our model indicates that brain expansion in Homo was driven by ecological rather than social challenges, and was perhaps strongly promoted by culture.”

The problem with all evolution-inspired brain research is that it assumes that our brain evolved from chimpanzee-like brains.

But if the human brain never evolved from an ape-like brain, then all Darwinian explanations turn out to be mere storytelling masquerading as science.


Source:

González-Forero, Mauricio and Andy Gardner. 2018. Inference of ecological and social drivers of human brain-size evolution. Nature 557, 554–557.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Australian Wrens Co-Operate with Individuals of a Different Species

A splendid fairy-wren male (Malurus splendens). Image courtesy of Aviceda, CC BY-SA 3.0.



Joel Kontinen

Who hasn’t heard the expression 'Birds of a feather flock together'? However, sometimes birds form mixed flocks.

What is more, they often live their lives as though they belonged to the same species.

A paper published in the journal Behavioral Ecology looks at how two small Australian songbirds – variegated fairy-wrens and splendid fairy-wrens – “not only recognize individual birds from other species, but also form long-term partnerships that help them forage and defend their shared space as a group.”

These wrens have a lot in common. According to Science Daily,

Both species feed on insects, live in large family groups, and breed during the same time of year. They are also non-migratory, meaning they live in one area for their entire lives, occupying the same eucalyptus scrublands that provide plenty of bushes and trees for cover.

When these territories overlap, the two species interact with each other. They forage together, travel together, and seem to be aware of what the other species is doing. They also help each other defend their territory from rivals. Variegated fairy-wrens will defend their shared territory from both variegated and splendid outsiders; splendid fairy-wrens will do the same, while fending off unfamiliar birds from both species.


These tiny birds take a very un-Darwinian approach to life.

The paper obviously fails to mention that the term ‘species’ can occasionally be rather fuzzy.

A case in point is a Darwinian icon. Even at best, the differences between the various varieties of Darwin’s finches are vague, and the birds don’t comply with Darwinian expectations.

Moreover, 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.

The Australian fairy-wrens confirm the Genesis after its kind principle in that they most probably belong to the same 'min' or kind.


Source:

University of Chicago Medical Center. 2018. Birds from different species recognize each other and cooperate: Researchers show for the first time how birds from two different species recognize individuals and cooperate for mutual benefit. Science Daily. (21 May).

Monday, 21 May 2018

Intelligent Communication Between Cells: Exosomes and Ectosomes



Exosomes (above) are extracellular vesicles that communicate with ectosomes. Image courtesy of miguelferig, Public Domain.




Joel Kontinen

Exosomes and ectosomes are tiny extracellular vesicles that all cells produce. Exosomes measure 50–150 nm and ectosomes 100–500 nm.

Previously, researchers assumed that both vesicles were remnants of dead cells, but a recent paper published in the journal Current Biology shows that they were wrong.

Exosomes and ectosomes can travel relatively long distances, and exosomes can deliver cargoes that include non-coding RNAs and DNA sequences to other cells.

Scientists are just beginning to learn about their function, but they already know that these vesicles

navigate through extracellular fluid for varying times and distances. Subsequently, they interact with recognized target cells and undergo fusion with endocytic or plasma membranes, followed by integration of vesicle membranes into their fusion membranes and discharge of luminal cargoes into the cytosol, resulting in changes to cellular physiology. After fusion, exosome/ectosome components can be reassembled in new vesicles that are then recycled to other cells, activating effector networks.”

Looks like a considerable infusion of intelligence is needed to bring this about. But, then, practically everything in our cells requires intelligence.

In other words, nothing about molecular machines makes sense without intelligent design.”

We also have two tiny postmen in our cells, i.e. dynein and kinesin, that carry cargo to specific addresses within cells.

Our cells are miniature cities running at 100 percent efficiency, and they produce 100,000 nanomachines per hour.

Source:

Meldolesi, Jacopo. 2018. Exosomes and Ectosomes in Intercellular Communication. Current Biology 28, R435–R444 (23 April).

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Earliest Stars Got a Lot Older


Star formation? Image courtesy of NASA & ESA, Public domain.





Joel Kontinen

New research by Takuya Hashimoto at Osaka Sangyo University and colleagues suggest that the first stars formed “250 million years” after the big bang. This is some “150 million years” earlier than previously assumed.

This was supposed to be too early for star formation, as the Dark Age was thought to continue until some “400 million years” after the big bang.

The big bang has other problems as well, for instance missing antimatter, cosmic inflation, quantum fluctuation, missing dark matter and the likewise elusive dark energy.

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:

Crane, Leah. 2018. Some of the universe’s first stars have actually been seen. New Scientist (16 May).

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Superfast Water Plant: The Waterwheel Snaps Shut Ten Times Faster Than a Venus Flytrap

Aldrovanda vesiculosa. Image courtesy of Jan Wieneke, (CC BY-SA 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

Two plants – the Venus Flytrap and the waterwheel or Aldrovanda vesiculosa – use traps to catch prey. Evolutionists assume that this strategy evolved only once in plants, so they have to assume that one of them evolved from the other.

There is no fossil evidence for this, however.

What is more, the plants are very different and use a different mechanism.

Reporting on research on the waterwheel published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, the BBC quotes study co-author Anna Westermeier at the University of Freiburg as saying: "It's very, very small and it's very, very fast, and this puts you basically to the limits of optical resolution."

The waterwheel is an amazing plant. The BBC goes on to say:

At just 2-4mm, the traps are about a tenth the size of a Venus flytrap's, but they close in a remarkable 0.02 to 0.1 seconds.

The lobes or leaves of the waterwheel also do not change shape when they snap shut, but rather close like two halves of a mussel shell. The Venus flytrap flexes its leaves from flat to curved when enclosing its prey.


So, a tiny plant can cause a big problem for evolution. The waterwheel looks like it was designed to cope in a post-Fall world.

The Venus flytrap knows how to count, and it’s not the only smart plant.

Trees communicate with each other, and the eucalyptus uses a clever trick to keep cool.

Source:

Mary, Halton. 2018. Waterwheel: Ten times faster than a Venus flytrap. BBC News (9 May).

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Carbonate Concretions Formed in Months or Years Instead of Millions of Years, New Paper Suggests

Image courtesy of Karsten Sperling, CC-by-sa-2.0.




Joel Kontinen

Concretions are spherical rocks that often contain well-preserved fossils. A new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that they “formed very rapidly, at least three to four orders of magnitude faster than previously estimated timescales.

Science Daily quotes study co-author Koshi Yamamoto, who says:"Until now, the formation of spherical carbonate concretions was thought to take hundreds of thousands to millions of years … However, our results show that concretions grow at a very fast rate over several months to several years."

How about during Noah’s Flood that has also formed many other kinds of geological formations, such as giant boulders, natural archways and water-formed gaps in mountains?

Sources:

Nagoya University. 2018. Cracking open the formation of fossil concretions. Science Daily (2 May).

Yoshida, Hidekazu et al. 2018. Generalized conditions of spherical carbonate concretion formation around decaying organic matter in early diagenesis Scientific Reports 8:6308.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Beavers Clean Polluted Rivers


Image courtesy of Per Harald Olsen, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

Researchers at the University of Exeter, UK, have found that beavers are great environmentalists.

Professor Richard Brazier and colleagues state that since 2011 a single family of beavers in West Devon “have built 13 dams, slowing the flow of water and creating a series of deep ponds along the course of what was once a small stream.

The beavers have had “a significant impact … on reducing the flow of tonnes of soil and nutrients from nearby fields into a local river system.”

The study “showed the dams had trapped more than 100 tonnes of sediment, 70% of which was soil, which had eroded from 'intensively managed grassland' fields upstream. Further investigation revealed that this sediment contained high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, which are nutrients known to create problems for the wildlife in rivers and streams and which also need to be removed from human water supplies to meet drinking-quality standards.

Nature is not necessarily red in tooth and claw. Even in the post-Fall world, we can see glimpses of peace, co-operation and goodness that defy naïve Darwinian explanations.

Source:

University of Exeter. 2018. Beavers do dam good work cleaning water, research reveals. EurekAlert (9 May).

Saturday, 12 May 2018

“Junk” DNA Holds Our Genome Together


The fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) plays a key role in a recent study on non-coding DNA. Image courtesy of Sanjay Acharya, CC BY-SA 4.0.



Joel Kontinen

If you thought satellite DNA was junk, you might need to think again. Science Daily suggests that it “plays a crucial role in holding the genome together.”

Researchers are increasingly finding use for non-coding DNA.

Professor Yukiko Yamashita and colleagues published a paper in the journal eLife, disclosing their findings.

They suggest that pericentromeric satellite DNA, once dismissed as junk, “performs the vital function of ensuring that chromosomes bundle correctly inside the cell's nucleus, which is necessary for cell survival.”

The researchers noticed that if they cut off a protein called DI from the cells of fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), germ cells would die and the banana munchers would thus have no offspring.

This protein is known to bind to satellite DNA.

While Prof. Yamashita thinks that we can credit evolution for preserving pericentromeric satellite DNA, which “consists of a very simple, highly repetitive sequence of genetic code,” intelligent design is a far better explanation.

Several recent studies have found important functions for “genetic junk”. (See examples here, here and here.)

Source:

University of Michigan. 2018. Scientists discover a role for 'junk' DNA. Science Daily. (11 April).

Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Fractal-Like Structure of Human Bone Speaks of Intelligent Design

Collagen in bone looks like this, but there’s much more in our bones. Image courtesy of Sbertazzo, CC BY-SA 3.0.



Joel Kontinen

When French engineer Gustave Eiffel designed the tower that bears his name, he copied the structure of the human femur.

Last year (2017) Science reported on an invention called supersteel that is based on human bone.

The bone’s inner structure makes it both lightweight and hardy. For a similar reason pterosaurs were efficient fliers - and birds still are.

Recently, Science published a paper by Roland Kröger of the University of York and colleagues at Imperial College London. They used electron microscopes to look at the nanostructure of human bone.

The authors believe that the fractal-like structure of bone is one of the key reasons for its remarkable attributes,” Science Daily concludes.

Fractals are seen everywhere in nature. They suggest that there’s nothing haphazard in creation, but every detail is designed carefully.

The Science Daily article elaborates:

Besides the large number of nested structures in bone, a common feature of all of them is a slight curvature, providing twisted geometry. To name a few, the mineral crystals are curved, the protein strands (collagen) are braided, the mineralized collagen fibrils twist, and the entire bones themselves have a twist, such as those seen in the curving shape of a rib for example.”

This does not look like the work of the blind watchmaker that our old friend Richard Dawkins used to be so fond of.

Source:

University of York. 2018. Revealing the remarkable nanostructure of human bone. Science Daily. (3 May).


Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Molecular Machines Build Plant Cell Walls


Lignin makes trees grow upright.




Joel Kontinen

Plants are a lot more complicated than evolutionists are willing to admit. We can hardly chalk up their growth to Darwinian processes.

A paper published in Nature Plants discusses the molecular machinery that builds plant cell wall components.

Phys.org gives the gist of what goes on in plant cells:

Two proteins embedded on membranes within plant cells serve as a scaffold to organize three key enzymes that specifically channel carbon into the synthesis of a cell-wall polymer called lignin.

Lignin is essential to plants' ability to grow upright and represents a substantial carbon-storage component of plants. But because it surrounds the other cell-wall components—cellulose and hemicellulose—lignin protects these carbon-rich substances from the biochemical processes commonly used to convert them to fuels or other bio-products
.”

Building a plant gets quite complicated. While the three enzymes “are located near one another on a membrane known as the endoplasmic reticulum, they don't interact directly. Instead, two separate proteins interact with all three enzymes."

The endoplasmic reticulum is the “cell's interior ‘highway’ of membranes lined with the molecular machines that make proteins and transport those products within or out of cells.”

It should not be too difficult to see evidence of an intelligently designed system in all this. Molecular protein-making machines do not come about through trial and error. Designing them requires intelligence, as does the transportation business they’re involved in.

Human cells are even more amazing. They produce 100,000 nanomachines per hour and build miniature cities running at 100 percent efficiency.

Source:

Mcnulty Walsh, Karen. 2018. New details of molecular machinery that builds plant cell wall components. Phys.org (30 April).


Sunday, 6 May 2018

Helium Yes, Life No: Hot Exoplanet WASP-107b Is Bizarre and Certainly Not Habitable

An artist’s impression of WASP-107b. Image courtesy of ESA/ Hubble, CC BY 4.0.




Joel Kontinen

A new paper by Jessica Spake (a PhD student at the University of Exeter, UK) and colleagues published in Nature discloses the weirdness of WASP-107b, a hot Jupiter-sized exoplanet that has an atmosphere containing helium. It also has a comet-like tail.

Located in the constellation Virgo some 200 light years from us, WASP-107b orbits its star every 5,7 days. At 500º C (932º F), it is one of the hottest exoplanets.

While this bizarre world is as big as Jupiter, its mass is only one-eighth of Jupiter’s.

Many exoplanets tend to be weird, which suggests that Earth is most probably unique, created to sustain life.

Some foreign worlds, such as WASP-12b, are extremely hot. WASP-121b is so hot that it can cause iron to boil.

Our entire solar system seems to differ from all other star- planet systems.

Despite making big headlines, no exoplanet we know of is genuinely habitable.

Source:

Wenz, John. 2018. Colossal exoplanet has an enormous comet-like tail of helium. New Scientist (2 May).

Friday, 4 May 2018

Enormous Two-Storey House from King David’s Time Found in Israel

The remains of a huge building have been found in the Shephelah area (above). Image courtesy of Maglanis, CC BY-SA 3.0.



Joel Kontinen

Archaeologists have excavated a huge two-storey house in the Shephelah area in the Judean Hills, not far from Jerusalem.

“The archaeologists who excavated the house, at a site now called Tel Eton, in Israel, said in an article published online March 13 in the journal Radiocarbon that the date, design and size of the house indicates that a strong organized government existed at Tel Eton around 3,000 years ago. They added that this government may be the United Monarchy,” Live Science explains.

The United Monarchy refers to the reigns of David and Solomon before the kingdom split into two (Judah, the area in and around Jerusalem, and the northern kingdom known as Israel).

Excavated between 2006 and 2015, the two-story house is constructed partly of ashlar stones. The ground floor is about 2,500 square feet (230 square meters) in size, putting it among the largest 1 percent of buildings that existed in the region around 3,000 years ago, Avraham Faust, an archaeology professor at Bar-Ilan University who leads excavations at Tel Eton, told Live Science.

This is not the only archaeological evidence we have of King David. A few years ago, some sceptics still doubted his historicity. But then archaeologists found a 9th century B.C. inscription with the text House of David in Tel Dan in northern Galilee.

Some other recent discoveries, for instance excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, likewise confirm the existence of the United Monarchy.

We should not be surprised, as the Bible records history accurately. (See examples here, here and here.)

Source:

Jarus, Owen. 2018. Does This 3,000-Year-Old House Confirm King David's Lost Biblical Kingdom? Live Science (3 May).

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The Hercules Beetle Is a True Hercules

The Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules). Image courtesy of Furry yui, Public Domain.




Joel Kontinen

Found in South and Central America, the Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules) is the longest living beetle. Males can grow to 17.5 centimetres (7 inches), including the horn.

Noted for its strength, the Hercules beetle can carry enormous loads. A paper published in 1996 suggested that a much smaller rhinoceros beetle could manage a load that was a hundred times heavier than it, so it is logical to assume that a Hercules can lift and carry an even heavier load.

It can also fly.

Evolutionists believe that beetles are living fossils that have been around for at least “105 million years”.

The great diversity in all kinds of animals including beetles speaks of creation.

Sources:

BioLib.cz. 2017. Hercules Beetle, Dynastes hercules.

Kram, Rodger. 1996. Inexpensive Load Carrying by Rhinoceros Beetles. Journal of Experimental Biology 199, 609–612.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Animal Rights vs. Human Wrongs: Alfie Evans vs. Cecil the Lion

The hospital where Alfie Evans died. Image courtesy of Rodhullandemu, CC BY-SA 4.0.




Joel Kontinen

When an American dentist killed a lion in Zimbabwe in 2015, thousands of people saw it as the ultimate crime.

Now, three years later when a court ruling allowed a children’s hospital to withdraw life support for Alfie Evans, a 23-month old toddler from Merseyside, UK, the outcry was far less pronounced.

Alfie was admitted to hospital in December 2016. He had a degenerative brain condition and was the focus of a fierce court battle.

His parents asked the Pope to help transfer the boy to a children’s hospital in Rome for treatment, but the British High Court rejected the move, as doctors argued that continuing treatment was "not in Alfie's best interests."

Who knows? Doctors are humans and as such they make mistakes.

But what stands out in this unfortunate case is the attitude of the man in the street who is more willing to fight for the rights of animals like Cecil the Lion than resist the wrongs done to a British toddler.

Might Darwinian evolution throw a dark shadow on our priorities?

Source:

BBC news. 2018. Alfie Evans: Legal battle toddler dies. (28 April).

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Disbelief in God Leads to Bizarre Beliefs

G. K. Chesterton, by Ernest Herbert Mills, 1909. Public domain.




Joel Kontinen

Why are bizarre beliefs, such as the multiverse and a universe teeming with alien civilisations, rampant in our day?

British author G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) might have the answer:

When men stop believing in God they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything.

This quote is widely attributed to Chesterton, although it obviously does not appear verbatim in his works; it was first recorded as 'The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything' in Emile Cammaerts’ book The Laughing Prophet: The Seven Virtues and G.K. Chesterton (London: Methuen & Co., 1937].

Chesterton was especially critical of atheism and Darwinian evolution.

Bizarre beliefs tend to either ignore or try to explain away cosmic fine tuning that is evident everywhere, from the micro to the macro.

Source:

Knowles, Elizabeth. (ed). 2004. Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Darwinian Solution to Complex Life: Just Add Oxygen?

Some very old organisms are very complex – and they’re still with us. Image courtesy of Kelvin Song, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).



Joel Kontinen

Chinese researchers think that “a surge in oxygen” might have paved the way for the evolution of complex life a “billion years” earlier than previously thought.

Reporting on this view, New Scientist also suggests that Ediacaran creatures were blob-like.”

However, some Precambrian creatures were very complex, full of tiny nanomachines.

Oxygen is not a sufficient cause for producing complex life. What is needed is genetic information, which happens to be a thing Darwinian evolution cannot produce.


Source:

Klein, Alice. 2018. Oxygen may have helped complex life arise a billion years early. New Scientist (23 April).

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

More Designed Features in Trees: Pulse, Sort of

Trees have been in the news recently.




Joel Kontinen

Trees have made headlines in recent years. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, as they are full of self-assembling solar panels.

Some time ago we heard that trees sleep at night.

Then we got to know that trees communicate with other trees.

Soon afterwards a study found that at least one eucalyptus species “sweats” to keep cool during heatwaves.

The latest surprise has to do with something akin to a pulse: “We’ve discovered that most trees have regular periodic changes in shape, synchronised across the whole plant and shorter than a day-night cycle, which imply periodic changes in water pressure,New Scientist quotes Dr. András Zlinszky as saying.


Source:

Coghlan, Andy. 2018. Trees may have a ‘heartbeat’ that is so slow we never noticed it. New Scientist (20 April).

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Mother Earth Day 2018: Celebrating a Mother who is Not Our Mother

Many people would like to believe that Earth is their mother.




Joel Kontinen

While many people would deny that God is their Father, they are inclined to believe that Earth is their mother.

They have designated a day in her honour. Thus today many celebrate Earth Day, or, as the UN prefers to call it, the International Mother Earth Day.

Now, taking care of the environment is a laudable enterprise, but making a religion of it is certainly not.

There is a name for it: idolatry.

Man was created to worship someone bigger than himself. If he refuses to worship God, he will worship something or someone else.

It seems that the number of secular holy days has been increasing lately. In addition to Mother Earth Day, there’s Darwin Day and Carl Sagan Day, for instance.

Some would go so far as to call the mushroom their brother and demand human rights for things like glaciers and rivers.

Source:

Gibbens, Sarah. 2018. How the Environment Has Changed Since the First Earth Day. National Geographic (21 April).


Friday, 20 April 2018

Darwinist Tries in Vain to Resurrect the Bad Design Argument


No bad design. Desiree Linden won the 2018 Boston Marathon. Image courtesy of Gr5555, CC BY-SA 4.0.




Joel Kontinen

Atheistic evolutionists are fond of using theological arguments. While they don’t believe in God, they think they know how He would not have created.

They also think that they know what is bad design and what isn’t.

Richard Dawkins, for instance, has been very vocal with his view of the backward wired retina, which actually happens to be an illustration of very good design.

It seems that smart is the adjective the best describes our eyes.

Another failed Darwinian argument is that our genome is full of junk, of both DNA and RNA.

And the vestigial organ argument has fared even worse.

However, recently biologist Nathan Lents tried to resurrect some failed evolutionary arguments that he calls design glitches.

In addition to the above, he also mentioned our supposedly weak knees, which happens to be a bizarre claim, given that humans can run a marathon, provided they train sufficiently for it.

Sources:

Laufmann, Steve. 2018. Your “Botched Body”: Bad Design or Bad Logic? Evolution News & Science Today (18 April).

Lents, Nathan H. 2018. The Botch of the Human Body. Wall Street Journal (13 April).

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Cooling Lava Probably Formed Giant’s Causeway during Noah’s Flood

Image courtesy of Chmee2, CC BY 3.0.



Joel Kontinen

Giant’s Causeway is a rock structure in Northern Ireland that is composed of 40,000 basalt columns touching each other.

It has been the subject of both legends and naturalistic speculations.

New research published in the journal Nature Communications suggests the columns formed when magma rock cooled quickly some “50–60 million years ago.”

The explanation might well be correct, but the timing is off by a factor of 10,000.

The global flood that devastated the Earth during Noah’s day roughly 4,500 years ago is a more plausible time. The deluge was most probably accompanied by volcanic eruptions.

The Book of Genesis describes the true history of ancient times.

Source:

Dovey, Dana. 2018. 'Giant's causeway' mysterious Irish rock structure was formed by ancient volcanoes. Newsweek (16 April).

Monday, 16 April 2018

Clever Eucalyptus Sweats to Keep Cool


Some trees use a clever strategy to keep cool.




Joel Kontinen

Trees are much more sophisticated than we would expect. They communicate with each other and sleep at night.

They have their own wood wide web (www) through which they share information.

Flowering plants are almost as clever; they have their e-mail system through which they engage in shoot to root communication.

And a recent study suggests that at least one eucalyptus species “sweats” to keep cool during heatwaves.

Ecologist John Drake at the S.U.N.Y. College of Environmental Science and Forestry and colleagues reported on this unexpected behaviour in the journal Global Change Biology.

High temperatures are thought to reduce photosynthesis, but instead of overheating these trees thrived although the temperature rose to 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit).

We can’t thank dumb Darwinian mechanisms for these intelligent approaches.

Source:

Saplakoglu, Yasemin. 2018. Trees Sweat to Keep Cool. Scientific American (May 2018).

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Elon Musk Warns of an Immortal AI Dictator

As an idea, AI is not a recent invention. Image courtesy of Sybil Tawse, from Stories of Gods and Heroes (1920) by Thomas Bulfinch. Public Domain.




Joel Kontinen

Elon Musk used to team up with Stephen Hawking to warn of the dangers of artificial intelligence that might turn into a disaster for humans.

Not so long ago he said that AI was a bigger threat than North Korea.

Musk shares his fears in a new AI documentary called Do You Trust This Computer?

He is afraid that in contrast to human dictators – who will eventually die – it would be practically impossible to get rid of an AI dictator:

"At least when there's an evil dictator, that human is going to die,” Live Science quotes Musk as saying, "But for an AI there would be no death. It would live forever, and then you'd have an immortal dictator, from which we could never escape."

However, the second law of thermodynamics practically guarantees that nothing we make will last forever, but it will break down – sooner or later.

The only thing that remains is the Bible, the Word of God. And it definitely rules out an immortal AI dictator.

Source:

Specktor, Brandon. 2018. Elon Musk Worries That AI Research Will Create an 'Immortal Dictator'. Live Science (8 April).

Thursday, 12 April 2018

ISIS Dug Tunnels That Confirm Biblical History

Sennacherib. Image courtesy of Timo Roller, CC BY 3.0.



Joel Kontinen

In the Old Testament book of Genesis Joseph tells his brothers: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result.” (50:20, NASB).

It seems that something similar has happened in Iraq:

After ISIS fighters captured Mosul and some other areas in Iraq in 2014, they destroyed several valuable archaeological sites, but they also dug tunnels in the hope that they could find buried treasures or archaeologically valuable artifacts with which they could finance their operations.

They discovered an Assyrian palace in the biblical city of Nineveh and found ancient inscriptions that verify the historicity of several Assyrian kings mentioned in the Old Testament, such as Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal (also known as Osnapper).

Other inscriptions verify the historicity of the city of Calah mentioned in Genesis 10:11-12 and confirm the way the Assyrians methodology of resettled captive peoples (see Ezra 4:10).

Should we be surprised?

No, the Bible describes the lives of real people, who lived at particular places at a particular time in history.

Source:

Earls, Aaron. 2018. ISIS Accidentally Corroborates the Bible. Facts & Trends (19 March).

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Fractals in Nature Defy Darwinian Assumptions

Baobabs, like other trees, follow a sophisticated mathematical formula. Image courtesy of Fox-Talbot, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

In his book River Out of Eden, Richard Dawkins wrote: "The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good.”

But is this really so?

It is practically impossible to ignore the fine tuning that we see all around us, from the minuscule to the really huge.

It comes in many forms, for instance in Fibonacci numbers and fractals.

Polish mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot (1924–2010) coined the term fractal in 1975.

Geometric shapes known as Mandelbrot sets are everywhere in nature, and what is special about them is that many of them repeat themselves on a smaller scale, and then even smaller, often producing a soothing effect.

This does not look like the cold, callous Darwinian world. The real world is full of beauty, regardless of where we look.

Sources:

Dawkins, Richard. 1999.River Out of Eden. London: Phoenix.

Lisle, Jason. 2007. Fractals: Hidden Beauty Revealed in Mathematics. Answers 2 (1), 52–55.


Sunday, 8 April 2018

Tiny “Alien” Fish Is Evidence for Diversity in Creation

Lubricogobius exiguus. Image courtesy of Izuzuki, CC BY-SA 2.5.



Joel Kontinen

The yellow pygmy goby (Lubricogobius exiguus) is tiny. Measuring 2 centimetres and sporting almost hypnotic emerald eyes, it could well be an alien.

But it isn’t. It lives in the Pacific Ocean and is evidence for the wonderful diversity in God’s creation in which we often see great beauty – even below the surface.

Source:

Le Page, Michael. 2018. The hypnotic face and emerald eyes of the yellow pygmy goby. New Scientist (27 March).

Friday, 6 April 2018

Amazingly Strong Eggshells Defy Darwinian Explanations

It’s an elegantly designed temporary home. Image courtesy of KDS4444, CC BY-SA 4.0.





Joel Kontinen

Chicken eggs are elegantly designed temporary homes. They protect the inhabitants (if we can call them that) from harm and yet let them breath.

They also seem to be able to tell the birdling when it’s time to set out into the wider world.

Eggs have three main layers. A new study published in the journal Science Advances suggests that the eggshells’ nanostructure “appears to play a key role in the strength of the shell.”

As quoted in The Guardian, study co-author Professor Marc McKee (McGill University in Canada) says that eggshells, although thin, can be harder than some metals.

But when the time is right, the chick can crack the shell open.

The almost magical ingredient is a protein called osteopontin. The hardness of the shell depends on the distribution of osteopontin in the various layers of the eggshell.

Unfortunately, Professor McKee fails to give credit to whom credit is due:

When you think about it, we should be making materials that are inspired by nature and by biology because, boy, it is really hard to beat hundreds of millions of years of evolution in perfecting something.”

The problem with Darwinian mechanisms is that they are incapable of top-down planning that is seen everywhere in creation.

Source:

Davis, Nicola. 2018. Scientists solve eggshell mystery of how chicks hatch. The Guardian (30 March).

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Diatoms Are a Darwinian Dilemma


Image courtesy of Ernst Haeckel, from Kunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 71: Stephoidea, Public domain.




Joel Kontinen

Diatoms are an evolutionary mystery. Darwinians believe that these one-celled pretty creatures have populated the oceans and seas for at least “100 million” years.

They are willing to acknowledge that diatoms appear to be designed, but they chalk this design up to evolution.

These algae are effective, producing 20–30% of all oxygen through photosynthesis. And, as there are some 100,000 species of these industrious workers, we can enjoy all the oxygen we need.

In a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, eight researchers admit that they don’t know how diatoms could have evolved. The best they can come up with is convergent evolution, which is Darwin-speak for we haven’t a clue.

Source:

Aguirre, Luis Ever et al. 2018. Diatom frustules protect DNA from ultraviolet light. Scientific Reports 8:5138. (23 March).

Monday, 2 April 2018

T. rex, Turtle, Fish and Mammal in Same Fossil Graveyard

Once again: dinosaurs, fish and a mammal were found in the same fossil graveyard.




Joel Kontinen

The discovery of an “elementary school age” T. rex in Montana's famous Hell Creek formation is making waves in the Darwinian community.

What is not making as big waves is the manner in which the tiny dino and several other animals met their end.

David Burnham, a preparator of vertebrate paleontology at the Biodiversity Institute, told Live Science that they died in a "quick, cataclysmic event."

But instead of occurring 67 million years ago, the cataclysm most probably took place some 4,500 years ago during the year-long global flood described in Genesis.

It would otherwise be difficult – if not impossible – to explain why a turtle, fish, dinosaurs and a placental mammal would end up in the same fossil graveyard.

Source:

Geggel, Laura. 2018. This Elementary-School-Age T. Rex Is a '1 in 100 Million' Discovery. Live Science (30 March).

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Ancient Writers Were Unable to Deny the Historicity of Jesus

Jesus’ tomb is still empty. Image courtesy of Phillip Benshmuel, CC BY-SA 4.0.





Joel Kontinen

There is strong evidence for the historicity of Jesus. Of non-biblical 1st and 2nd century writers, Josephus (37–100), Tacitus (55–117), Suestonius (69–140), Plinius the Younger (ca. 61–113), Lukianos (125–190), Celsus and Mara bar Serapion either mention Him by name or refer to His crucifixion.

Even those who were antagonistic towards Christianity were unable to deny that He was a real historical person though they might have doubted His divinity.

Writing in Biblical Archaeology Review, Associate Professor Lawrence Mykytiuk discusses 1st and 2nd century non-biblical authors who wrote about or referred to Jesus or His followers. “As far as we know, no ancient person ever seriously argued that Jesus did not exist,” he concludes.

Quoting New Testament Professor Robert Van Voorst, he says,”No pagans and Jews who opposed Christianity denied Jesus’ historicity or even questioned it.”

Professor Van Voorst went on to say, “If anyone in the ancient world had a reason to dislike the Christian faith, it was the rabbis. To argue successfully that Jesus never existed but was a creation of early Christians would have been the most effective polemic against Christianity … [Yet] all Jewish sources treated Jesus as a fully historical person … The rabbis … used the real events of Jesus’ life against him.”

So, if someone comes up with a conspiracy theory that denies the historicity of Jesus or the resurrection, we know it is a fable.

The real Jesus lived on Earth for a little while, suffered for our sins, and rose from the dead.

The empty tomb reminds us that the Gospels recount real history.

Source:

Mykytiuk, Lawrence. 2015. Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review 41 (1), 44–51, 76.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Pluto’s Youthful Looks Continue to Puzzle Scientists

Pluto looks young. Image courtesy of NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.



Joel Kontinen

When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto in July 2015, scientists were expecting to see a dwarf planet that looked old and its largest moon Charon to be full of impact craters.

However, what they saw blew their socks off, as NASA researcher Cathy Olkin put it in a New Horizons press conference.

Pluto looked far too young to fit into a 4.6 billion year old universe, and so did Charon.

Subsequent images sent by New Horizons showed more evidence for youth.

Pluto is too small to generate heat and too far away from the Sun to benefit from solar energy, but it is geologically active.

Believers in deep time have had a hard time figuring out why Pluto looks youthful. The latest explanation features flowing nitrogen ice that could be “acting as its fountain of youth.”

Pluto is not the only dwarf planet that looks younger than expected.

Ceres is another great puzzle for long-agers.

Jupiter’s moons Io and Europa also look too young.

The obvious solution: They are.

Source:

Crane, Leah. 2018. Gooey nitrogen ice may make Pluto’s crater-free heart look young. New Scientist (27 March).

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Flat-Earther Makes It to Space (Sort of) and Back

Logo of the Flat Earth Society. Image courtesy of Blanko, CC BY-SA 4.0.





Joel Kontinen

After two failed attempts, self-made rocket builder Mike Hughes finally managed to take to the skies in his space vehicle.

He reached an altitude of 572 metres (1,875 feet) above the Mojave Desert in California before parachuting to the earth.

Mr. Hughes believes the earth is flat, and his motive in blasting to the skies was to prove that he was right.

That was something he was unable to do this time, so he hopes to build a more powerful rocked that would carry him to an altitude of 110 kilometres (68 miles).

He hopes to prove his thesis by taking high-altitude photographs.

However, NASA beat him by 50 years. The pictures the Apollo 8 astronauts took while orbiting the Moon show that the Earth is round.

The earthrise photos tell the same story.

The modern flat earth myth probably hails from Washington Irving’s (1783–1859) fictional biography of Christopher Columbus. Obviously, some seamen were afraid of falling over the earth’s edge.

However, there never was a time in Medieval Europe when most people believed our planet was flat.

Coins and symbols made in the Holy Roman Empire depicted a round earth, and so did Medieval scholars.

Source:

Bryner, Jeanna. 2018. Flat-Earther Blasts Himself into the Sky on Homemade Rocket (and He Survives). Live Science (25 March).

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Stonehenge, Pyramids and Sophisticated Devices Defy Darwinian Views of Ancient Man

Could there be a link between Stonehenge and ancient astronomy? Image courtesy of Andrew Dunn, CC BY-SA 2.0.





Joel Kontinen

Many people tend to think that ancient men could not have been as clever as we are. This is in keeping with the Darwinian idea that humans evolved very gradually from ape-like creatures and learning was a slow hit-or-miss affair. They were not expected to accomplish much intellectually.

However, the pyramids, Stonehenge and other ancient monuments and devices tell an entirely different kind of story.

In 2016 Science reported on the work of Mathieu Ossendrijver of Humboldt University in Berlin, who examined Babylonian clay tablets hailing from 350 BC to 50 BC.

Babylonian astronomers “also employed sophisticated geometric methods that foreshadow the development of calculus. Historians had thought such techniques did not emerge until more than 1400 years later, in 14th century Europe.”

Dr. Ossendrijver also published a report in Science entitled The Ancient Babylonian astronomers calculated Jupiter’s position from the area under a time-velocity graph.

The 2000-year old Antikythera Mechanism likewise challenges our views of ancient man. It is a multi-purpose calendar and computer. It could, among other things, be used to predict astronomical events such as solar eclipses and the timing of the Ancient Olympic Games.

A recent article in The Conversation examines the correlation of stars and ancient monuments and concludes that there might indeed be a link, but we cannot be sure of this.

Anyhow, even entirely oral cultures could have prodigious knowledge about constellations and stars.

In 2016 New Scientist wrote about Bill Yidumduma Harney, an Aboriginal Australian who could identify 3,000 stars in the night sky. How many astronomy professors could beat him in that game?


Sources:

Brown, Daniel. 2018. From the pyramids to Stonehenge – were prehistoric people astronomers? The Conversation (12 March).

Cowen, Ron. 2016. Math whizzes of ancient Babylon figured out forerunner of calculus. Science (28 January).