Sunday, 31 October 2010

Atheist claims religion cannot explain universal morality

Sam Harris believes that Darwinian evolution can explain morality. The man looking behind the big beard is C. Darwin. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Along with Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris is one of the most well-known militant atheists. Recently, Harris wrote an opinion piece in New Scientist in which he expressed his hope that the scientific study of morality would lead to sending religion to the scrap heap.

Harris’ view comes at an interesting time in the aftermath of the publicity surrounding Marc Hauser, the Harvard evolutionary psychologist who is the pioneer of evolution-based morality. Hauser is suspected of serious scientific misconduct. Yet, according to Hauser, ”the Darwinian pulpit” explains the universality of morality better than religion.

It did not prevent Hauser from producing questionable research results that his fellow-Darwinists strongly disapprove of, however.

Harris believes in the same source of morality as Hauser. He thinks that ”science”, by which he probably means an evolution-based worldview, can disclose why some things are acceptable and some other things are not.

Harris’ view is fraught with problems as Hauser’s evolution-based model has not worked very well in practice.

Logic would thus have us search for the origin of morality somewhere else. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans that all people, including non-Jews, know the moral law:

The requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness.” (Rom. 2:15).

According to Paul, morality stems from creation. God has created us to be moral beings.


Harris, Sam. 2010. Morality: 'We can send religion to the scrap heap' . New Scientist 2782 (20 October).

Luskin, Casey. 2010. When Evolutionary Psychology Collides With Morality. Evolution News and Views (27 August).

Friday, 29 October 2010

Heresies in science

Richard Dawkins hates heresies in science. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

This week two popular science publications, New Scientist and Scientific American, used the word heretic, which might say something about how mainstream science journalism views those who do not toe the official party line.

Neither of the magazines was referring to creationism or even intelligent design. The Scientific American article discussed climate change and the one in New Scientist focused on the laws of physics.

However, this interesting trend brings to mind that what Richard Dawkins said in the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed: ”As a scientist I am pretty hostile to a rival doctrine." Dawkins was championing Darwinian orthodoxy.

Way back in 1997 Stephen Jay Gould used the phrase Darwinian Fundamentalism in an essay in The New York Review of Books. Using language drawn from the Bible, he was referring to the over-reliance on natural selection in explaining evolution and named John Maynard Smith, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins as members of this orthodox Darwinian sect.

Scientists seem to be wary of heretics.


Brooks, Michael. 2010. Constant change: Are there no universal laws? (25 October).

Gould, Stephen Jay. 1997. Darwinian Fundamentalism. The New York Review of Books (12 June)

Lemonick, Michael D. 2010. Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues. (25 October).

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Intelligent communication in our cells

Joel Kontinen

Long before we had the first computer, our cells already used nanotechnology to communicate with their environment and with other cells.

Recently, Developmental Cell published a paper on how skin cells organise their inner structure in response to signals from their environment.

According to ScienceDaily, ” ’Cells react to changes in their environment very rapidly. To do this, cells need to have their signaling machinery at the right place at the right time’ says Sara Wickström, a researcher from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry.”

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute identified the mechanism that microtubules specialised in inter-cellular transportation use to move proteins to different places in response to information that they obtain from their environment and other cells.

This brief video animation produced by Creation Ministries International describes the function of microtubules.

Sounds like intelligent design.


Protein Highways Keep Tissues Organized. ScienceDaily.20 October 2010.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The dog as an inventor

Joel Kontinen

Darwinists tend to think that chimpanzees are almost human. However, in real life many animals, for instance elephants, crows and dolphins, easily beat chimpanzees in tasks that require intelligence.

One might probably even add the dog to the list:

Darwinian evolution would hardly have predicted this. While chimps lack creative skills, at least one dog does not seem to lack them.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Stone age people ground flour

Ancient people were not primitive. For instance, the stone age people in Gran Canaria made elaborate clay vessels.

Joel Kontinen

The more archaeologists get to know about stone age people, the more obvious it becomes that the Darwinian model of grunting, cave-dwelling hunters is wrong.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences just published a paper on grindstones found in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic. The tools are estimated to be 30, 000 years old. The researchers also found the remains of nutritious flour on the stones.

Nature News quotes Ofer Bar-Yosef, an archaeologist at Harvard University, as saying, "It's another nail in the coffin of the idea that hunter–gatherers didn't use plants for food."

Like many other discoveries (read more here, here and here) the new discoveries support the view of Genesis that man has tilled the ground from the dawn of human history.


Callaway, Ewen. 2010. Stone Age flour found across Europe. Nature News (18 October).

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The dangers of ultra liberalism

Joel Kontinen

What might happen if society were to discard Christian morals and began to make its decisions solely based on economic or other benefits? The idea is not very new. Utilitarianism, which draws inspiration from the views of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), attempts to distribute happiness evenly in society.

Bentham was no friend of Christianity. He believed that everyone - including homosexuals and animals – should have the same rights. In its extreme form, it might cause some individuals to believe that some kinds of animals are more important than people.

Many people are ready to defend the rights of animals, but how many are interested in the rights of unborn children and old, infirm people?

Practice has often revealed that theories have dire defects. If society were to emphasise the common good, some individuals would suffer. Melanie Phillips, a well-known British journalist, has written much on the dire consequences of discarding Judeo-Christian values. She believes it will lead to irrational behaviour.

The film Never Let Me Go, due to be released next January, might give us a glimpse of what could happen if the ideas of Utilitarianism were taken to an extreme and society were to decide to use some of its citizens as spare parts.

The film is based on the book Never Let Me Go (2005) written by the Japanese-British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. It is the sad story of Hailsham boarding school. The destiny of its pupils is to give their young lives for others.


Lopez, Kathryn Jean. 2010. Melanie Phillips on a World Gone Mad. National Review Online (20 May).

Stone age Papuans were not primitive

Ancient people were not primitive. For instance, the stone age people in Gran Canaria, Spain, made elaborate clay vases.

Joel Kontinen

The more archaeologists discover about the customs and cultures of ancient man, the more obvious it becomes that the findings do not correspond to the Darwinian concept of ape-like early men.

Recently, Glenn Summerhayes, an archaeologists at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and colleagues published a paper in Science on the ancient inhabitants of Papua New Guinea. They assume that the inhabitants of Ivane Valley, an area 2, 000 metres above sea level that is surrounded by high mountains, tilled the ground 49,000 years ago.

Summerhayes and his colleagues discovered ancient Papuan campsites that had been covered by volcanic ash. Professor Summerhayes assumes that the people hunted small animals, cleared plots in the forests and collected nuts. He also thinks that the Papuans brought yams into the mountains from the lowlands.

The research team also found stone tools in the area.

Although evolutionists almost always overestimate the age of ancient discoveries, these findings agree well with that what Genesis tells about early men. They had a relatively high culture almost at the dawn of human history. Cain already built a town and soon Adam’s descendants made musical instruments and bronze and iron tools.

The view that ancient man was primitive is a myth that lacks evidence.


Archaeologists shed new light on adaptability of modern humans’ ancestors. PhysOrg (30 September 2010).

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Who lost the first habitable planet?

Three years ago Gliese 581c made headlines. It was supposed to be an Earth-like planet. Image courtesy of ESO.

Joel Kontinen

Astronomers who were searching for a habitable planet rejoiced when at last they found Gliese 581g - a planet that seemed to orbit a red dwarf well within the habitable zone. A least one scientist advocated sending a manned probe to examine the planet that is just 20 light years from us.

The rejoicing turned out to be short-lived, however. On Monday astronomers at the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland announced that they were unable to detect any signs of Gliese 581g. The team, led by Francesco Pepe, checked the observations made of the planet with a 3.6 metre telescope in Chile.

Presenting their results at an International Astronomical Union symposium in Turin, Italy, they said that they did not find any evidence of Gliese 581g.

Steven Vogt, who initially announced the discovery of the planet, has not given up hope. He thinks that further research might yet show that Pepe and his team were mistaken.

This was not the first setback for those who hunt for a habitable planet. In 2007 Gliese 581c was for a while hailed as a habitable planet but it was soon discovered that it is hot like Venus.

Often researchers ”find” that what they are looking for. A century ago, Percival Lowell believed he saw evidence of life on Mars. He wrote in the journal Nature that ”Mars is habitable by organisms not essentially different from those with which we are acquainted.”


Courtland, Rachel. 2010. First life-friendly exoplanet may not exist. New Scientist (13 October).

100 Years Ago. Nature 463:7281, 617. (4 February. 2010).

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Chilean miner: ” God has never left us”

Joel Kontinen

The dramatic rescue of the 33 trapped miners in Chile has caused many of them and their relatives and friends to think about priorities and that what is important in life. Even before the miners were able to leave their prison in the San Jose mine, Jimmy Sanchez, at 19 the youngest of them, sent a message to the surface that read: ”There are actually 34 of us because God has never left us down here."

Although 69 days at 700 metres (over 2000 feet) below the surface is a long time, the miners and their families did not give up hope. The wife of trapped miner Ariel Ticona gave birth to a girl the parents decided to name Esperanza, Spanish for hope. In addition, the area where the rescue crew and the families of the trapped miners camped – and from were the miners were lifted to the surface in an escape capsule built by the Chilean navy, was called Camp Esperanza.

The miners and their families expected a miracle – and they got one. Many of them were Christians so they were able to find hope in the Bible’s promises.

The Bible speaks a lot about hope. The book of Jeremiah says: ”For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

The New Testament also tells us about the blessed hope of Christians. We are ”looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

You can watch a video clip of the meeting of the miners and their families on the BBC website.


Padgett, Tim. 2010. Chile's Mine Rescue: Media Circus and Religious Revival. Time (12 October).

Monday, 11 October 2010

Were geologists brainwashed to accept slow uniformitarian processes?

Some geologists have severely criticised Charles Lyell’s uniformitarian views. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Without the writings of Charles Lyell, the views of his friend Charles Darwin might never have become popular. However, geology has subsequently rejected strict uniformitarianism. The late British geologist Derek Ager, who was no friend of creation, wrote in 1993:

Just as politicians rewrite human history, so geologists rewrite earth history. For a century and a half the geological world has been dominated, one might even say brain-washed, by the gradualistic uniformitarianism of Charles Lyell. Any suggestion of 'catastrophic' events has been rejected as old-fashioned, unscientific and even laughable.”

Ager emphasised the significance of catastrophes in geology.

In 1980 the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens was an excellent illustration of rapid canyon formation. It only took a few hours to produce formations that look as though they are millions of years old.


Ager, Derek. 1993. The New Catastrophism: The importance of The Rare Event in Geological History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

John Cleese: ”We scientists”, ”God gene” and much more

Joel Kontinen

Richard Dawkins is fond of using the expression ”we scientists” although he has not had the time to do much science in the past few decades. He has obviously noticed that writing speculative quasi-religious books is an easier way of making a living.

In this brief video actor John Cleese discusses the wonderland of genes from a perspective that differs considerably from that of Dawkins. He does not neglect to mention the ”God gene”, the gene that makes people eat coconut ice cream after a fish dinner and some other interesting ”genes”.

Naturally, Cleese does not shy away from reminding his audience of the importance of the authority of scientists.

Cleese’s parody brings to mind that what Mark Twain wrote about the claims of science as well as the just-so-stories so prevalent in Darwinian mythology.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Stephen Hawking, skeptics and two-dimensional reality

Joel Kontinen

In 1884 the British author Edwin Abbott Abbott introduced the concept of a two- dimensional world with his novel Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. Flatland was a satire of the English society of the Victorian era.

The inhabitants of Flatland only know two dimensions, length and breadth. Professor A. E. Wilder-Smith (1915–1995) used this idea to illustrate people who deny the existence of the supernatural dimension.

Wilder-Smith had three earned science doctorates. His many books, especially The Natural Sciences Know Nothing of Evolution, probably caused some skeptics to suffer from a bout of hypertension.

Some years ago Creation magazine published an article that used the concept of Flatland to illustrate the difference between a naturalistic understanding of reality and the biblical view in which God intervenes in human affairs by entering our world.

According to the Bible, God is transcendent. He is beyond time and space. Stephen Hawking and other skeptics, who only believe in naturalistic causes, have to infer that physical laws created the entire universe since they are not sure whether there is anyone or anything beyond the cosmos. They are like the inhabitants of Flatland who only see that what is happening in the two dimensions of their tiny world.


Grigg, Russell. 1999. The gospel in time and space. Creation 21(2):50–53.

The UN appoints a space ambassador to welcome ETs to Earth

The UN wants to welcome ETs to the planet Earth. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Visitors hailing from outer space do not have to be at a loss as to whom they should approach first. The UN will give them a friendly welcome.

The UN has appointed Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist, to welcome extraterrestrial visitors to Earth. The organisation is not actually known for making quick decisions but the recent discovery of Gliese 581g, which is assumed to be an earth-like planet, might have nudged it to prepare for what some science fiction fans and other individuals believe is inevitable – the appearance of ETs on Earth.

The belief in extraterrestrial life has a Darwinian connection. Evolutionists believe that life must have evolved on myriads of planets all over the universe.


Ethirajh, Gopal. 2010. UN appoints Malaysian astrophysicist as ‘space ambassador” for ET contact. Asian Tribune (28 September).

Monday, 4 October 2010

When a fish walks…

A handfish walks (sort of), although it does not have legs. Image courtesy of Barry Bruce, CSIRO, Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).

Joel Kontinen

If this tiny fish had become extinct and Darwinists found its fossil, they might shout for joy.

However, this fish still lives at the bottom of the ocean and it is not a transitional form but a true handfish.

Creation magazine has published at least two articles on this Australian fish that belongs to the family Brachionichthyidae. Earlier this year, National Geographic also published a few photos of this intriguing marine creature that has not yet decided to walk ashore


Charles Lyell, the pioneer of Uniformitarism: the purpose of my book is to ”free science from Moses”

Sir Charles Lyell (1797 – 1875), who popularised Uniformitarism and was a friend of Charles Darwin, wanted to free geology from Moses. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

When Charles Darwin sailed around the world on the Beagle, he had Charles Lyell’s book Principles of Geology with him.

In 1830 Lyell sent a letter to his friend Poulett Scrope who reviewed his book, stating that his aim was ”to free the science from Moses”. By science he meant geology. In other words, he wanted to replace Moses, Genesis, creation and the flood with millions of years over a century before the first dating method had even been invented.

Terry Mortenson, who has a PhD in the history of geology, says that almost all pioneers of the old earth view were either atheists or deists (who believed in a God who created the universe but otherwise remained aloof from the world).

According to Dr. Mortenson, these pioneers were not objective seekers of the truth but they wanted to bring their own ideology into science.


Lyell, Katharine. 1881. Life, Letters and Journals of Sir Charles Lyell, Bart. Part 1. London: Murray.

Mortenson, Terry. 2004. The Great Turning Point: The Church’s Catastrophic Mistake on Geology – Before Darwin. Green Forest, AR: Master Books.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

New research: Hobbit was a modern human suffering from iodine deficiency

Did Frodo and Sam suffer from iodine deficiency?

Joel Kontinen

The debate on the status of the Hobbits or Flores Men has been quite lively in the past few years. (You can read more here, here and here.) According to fresh research, the Hobbit was not a distinct human species but a true H. sapiens suffering from iodine deficiency.

Found on the Indonesian island of Flores, the diminutive Hobbits were named after the heroes of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth story.

Recently, Charles Oxnard, an emeritus professor at the University of Western Australia, and colleagues published a paper in PloS ONE, comparing the bones of humans suffering from cretinism, chimpanzees and healthy humans to those of Hobbits or Homo floresiensis. The study suggests that Hobbits were H. sapiens whose small size probably resulted from cretinism caused by iodine deficiency.

In 2008 Professor Oxnard and colleagues examined the Hobbit skull. According to ScienceDaily they found out that it ”showed evidence of endemic dwarf cretinism resulting from congenital hypothyroidism and were [sic] not a new species of human.”

More recently, Oxnard and his colleagues tested their theory by examining the post-cranial skeleton of Hobbits. The study supported their view.

Earlier last month another research team also found evidence for the theory that Hobbits are fully human.

Robert Eckhardt, professor of developmental genetics and evolutionary morphology at Pennsylvania State University, and Maciej Henneberg, professor of anthropological and comparative anatomy at the University of Adelaide, examined the skull of the Hobbit known as LB1 that was found in the Liang Buan cave on Flores and published their findings in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Professor Eckhardt criticises the approach of some researchers who have classified the Hobbit as a distinct species on the basis of a single asymmetrical skull instead of seeing it as a deformed H. sapiens skull.

Eckhardt adds that although LB1’s braincase was badly asymmetric, this does not make Hobbit into a species distinct from H. sapiens.

According to professor Eckhardt, there still are people on the island of Flores who resemble Hobbits. The jaw and teeth of present-day Floresians hardly differ from those of Hobbits although they have a bigger and more symmetric skull.

Commenting on his research, professor Oxnard says: "Cretinism is caused by various environmental factors including iodine deficiency -- a deficiency which would have been present on Flores at the period to which the dwarfed Flores fossils are dated."

Professor Oxnard points out that cretinism is still quite common in Indonesia, including the island of Bali that is not far from Flores.

Seen from the creation perspective, the research results of these two Hobbit studies were expected. All people are the descendants of Adam. As the apostle Paul said, ”The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth … From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth.” (Acts 17:24, 26).


Researchers offer alternate theory for found skull's asymmetry. .(6 September 2010).

'Hobbit' Was an Iodine-Deficient Human, Not Another Species, New Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. (28 September. 2010).

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Scientific American: humans are still evolving

Evolutionists do not agree on whether humans are still evolving. Image courtesy of José-Manuel Benito Álvarez, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

At times, there are interesting twists and turns in the discussion on evolution. Two years ago Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, announced that human evolution was over.

Recently, however, Scientific American published an article that suggests that professor Jones might have been a bit hasty with his pronouncement. Just ask the Tibetans who have continued their evolution by adapting to living at a high altitude.

Tibetans have not ceased to be H. sapiens. According to the article they have managed to overcome altitude sickness and other problems resulting from a low level of oxygen with the help of evolution.

Scientific American might have forgotten to tell its readers that the changes wrought in the Tibetans do not have anything to do with Darwinian evolution but they reveal that humans were designed to adapt to various climates and circumstances.

This ability speaks of very intelligent design.


Pritchard, Jonathan K. 2010. How We Are Evolving. Scientific American (22 September)

Gliese 581g is an Earth-like exoplanet – or perhaps not

In 2007 Gliese 581c, the sister planet of the new ”Goldilocks planet” caused a disappointment to those who were hoping to find life in outer space. Image courtesy of ESO.

Joel Kontinen

The discovery of a potentially habitable planet has made lively headlines in the popular media. It might be good to remember that the sister planet of 581g caused a considerable amount of excitement in 2007. Later, however, researchers found out that the planet named Gliese 581c was probably as warm as Venus.

Steve Vogt of the University of California Santa Cruz, who was a member of the research group that discovered Gliese 581g, says, ”Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet." He was quoted as saying that he is 100 per cent sure of ”the chances of life” on the planet.

Gliese 581g orbits a red dwarf twenty light years from Earth. Red dwarfs are known to be unstable and Gliese 581g orbits it closer than Mercury our sun.

It is a world of extremes. One side of the tidally locked planet faces the sun perpetually, while the other is in darkness. The planet has a mass of 3 – 4 Earths and its temperature is expected to range from around + 71 degrees Celsius (160 degrees Fahrenheit) on the sunny side to -34 degrees Celsius ( - 29 degrees Fahrenheit) on the dark side. The habitable zone is assumed to lie in between these two extreme areas.

Jay Richards, who co-authored the book The Privileged Planet with Guillermo Gonzalez, takes a critical approach to this claim:

The planet in question is tidally locked, so the same face perpetually faces its star. So it won't have a pleasing climate. It's about three times more massive than Earth, and it's quite close to its star, which is an M dwarf. Such stars are probably not good hosts for habitable planets due to their high activity levels…

Venus and Mars are much more Earth-like that this or any other extrasolar planet we've yet been able to detect. For instance, they're around a star known to host a habitable planet, and they're both quite close in orbit to that habitable planet. And yet, neither is home to life of any sort

While Gliese 581g might orbit its sun within the Goldilocks or habitable zone, this does not necessarily mean that the planet is habitable. Plate tectonics and a big moon would also be necessary for life. Doctor Don DeYoung has shown that if the Earth did not have a sizeable Moon, there would be no tides, the oceans would be stagnant and marine life would die.

Recently, New Scientist disclosed that the birth of the Moon was one of the ”ten accidents that made us”.

According to Genesis, the Moon is not the result of a lucky accident but of a definite act of creation. In contrast, we do not know whether Gliese 581g has any kind of moon, so the joy of Vogt and colleagues might be a bit premature.


Alleyne, Richard. 2010. Gliese 581g: the most Earth like planet yet discovered. Telegraph. co. (29 September)

DeYoung, Don. 2006. Our Created Moon. Answers in Genesis DVD.

Richards, Jay. 2010. Science Reporters Should Quit Crying "Life!" (30 September).