Monday, 30 November 2015
New research suggests that the nerve cells in our brain are connected in anything but a random manner. Instead, they “store information as efficiently as books are stored in a well-organized library,” as a press release issued by the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft puts it.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics compare our brains’ wiring to a library, where books are more easily found when they “are sorted not only alphabetically by title, but also by genre and by author.”
Our brain does not look like it’s the product of blind Darwinian processes in which neurons can’t see what the neighbours are doing. In contrast, it suggests top-down planning in which there is little room for randomness.
“Random connections do not suffice to explain the observed layout of the brain,” the researchers concluded.
Neuroscientists tend to be baffled at how wonderful our brains are. It seems that they just cannot think of anything man-made that could match them.
Some suspect that our brains may be designed to help us to learn to think.
Meanwhile, from a purely naturalistic perspective, consciousness is a “ghosly thing.”
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. 2015. No cable spaghetti in the brain. (23 November).
Saturday, 28 November 2015
Previous research has shown that the mantis shrimp uses a fist-like club that beats airplane frames in strength.
A new study suggests that the small crustacean also employs another weird trick: it makes use of polarized light as a covert signal that predators can’t see.
Only other shrimps can detect this signal.
There are many other intelligent solutions in the animal kingdom that would be difficult if not impossible to explain by Darwinian processes that are supposed to be blind.
Polarized light as a secret signal. Nature 527, 278 (19 November 2015).
Thursday, 26 November 2015
Animal rights seem to count more than human wrongs in a world where belief in molecules-to-man evolution has caused a devaluation of our place among all other living beings.
The rise of the culture of death, as seen in abortion and euthanasia, serves to diminish human worth.
At the very same time, activists want to free animals from “cruel psychological experiments,” which they see as demeaning as torture and child abuse.
Recently, Science reported on how the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had sent letters to people living near the homes of
“U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins and NIH researcher Stephen Suomi, revealing their home addresses and phone numbers and urging their neighbors to call and visit them. The tactic is the latest attempt by the animal rights group to shut down monkey behavioral experiments at Suomi’s Poolesville, Maryland, laboratory.”
An activist said that the bad treatment of monkeys was comparable to “having a sexual predator in your neighborhood.”
While we should certainly not mistreat animals, activists seem to think that animals (like a lion called Cecil) are more important than humans.
Many, for instance, Peter Singer, would want to re-define animals as persons.
However, in doing so, they diminish human worth. At least part of their struggle is against biblical ethics that start with the unique place we have in the created order.
Only humans were created in God’s image. Only humans can sin, and Christ died for humans, not animals, on the cross, redeeming us from sin.
Grimm, David. 2015. Animal rights group targets NIH director’s home. Science (18 November).
Tuesday, 24 November 2015
The Arctic should be one of the last places where we’d expect to find traces of a tropical forest. However, that is exactly what a new paper published in the journal Geology shows.
An article on the discovery in LiveScience features some naturalistic speculations. Researchers think that the forest grew near the equator and then drifted north some “380 million years ago.”
The trees were mostly lycopsids that are still found in our days. Some grew to be 4 metres (13 feet) high.
It would not be too difficult to see this fossil forest as evidence for Noah’s Flood that devastated the early earth.
Dinosaur fossils found in the Arctic (read more here, here and here) also suggest that they were trapped by the Flood.
Massive fossil graveyards found on many continents, huge aquifers and mountain gaps also remind us of the Flood.
Weisberger, Mindy. 2015. Fossilized Tropical Forest Found — in Arctic Norway. Live Science (20 November).
Sunday, 22 November 2015
It’s not easy to see a chiton that looks like a rock on which it lives. But with its thousand tiny rock-hard eyes the mollusk is by no means blind.
Although its eyesight might not match that of an eagle, its tiny lenses – each merely a tenth of a millimetre across – lets the creature evade predators.
A report in New Scientist quotes Sönke Johnsen, an ecologist at Duke University, as saying:
“It’s a basic camera eye design. The difference is they’re embedded in rock and the lens itself is made out of rock.”
While Acanthopleura granulata might look simple, its exceptional eye design suggests that the Creator loves diversity.
You can read about some other intelligent solutions seen in the animal kingdom here, here and here.
Nowogrodzki, Anna. 2015. Mollusc sees the world through hundreds of eyes made out of rock. New Scientist (19 November).
Pennisi, Elizabeth. 2015. Video: Sea creature makes a thousand eyes from its shell. Science (19 November).
Friday, 20 November 2015
In January, Kepler-438 b was touted as the most Earth-like planet ever discovered. As it orbited its star within the habitable zone, it was seen as a potential home for alien life.
But now a press release issued by the University of Warwick suggests that the planet doesn’t even have an atmosphere:
“The most Earth-like planet could have been made uninhabitable by vast quantities of radiation, new research led by the University of Warwick has found.”
Kepler-438b orbits a red dwarf in the constellation Lyra some 470 light-years from us. Slightly bigger than Earth, it orbits its sun in 35.2 days.
It seems to be too close to a hot object:
“The atmosphere of the planet, Kepler-438b, is thought to have been stripped away as a result of radiation emitted from a superflaring Red Dwarf star, Kepler-438.
Regularly occurring every few hundred days, the superflares are approximately ten times more powerful than those ever recorded on the Sun and equivalent to the same energy as 100 billion megatons of TNT.”
The naturalistic worldview needs habitable exoplanets. It rejects the idea that Earth is special, and wants to see alien life wherever it is possible.
The search for life-friendly exoplanets has produced questionable “discoveries” as some of them, like Gliese 581d and Gliese 581g, might not even exist and some others might be a lot less friendly to life than once assumed.
It’s still safe to say that there’s no place like home in the universe.
University of Warwick. 2015. Most Earth-like planet uninhabitable due to radiation, new research suggests. (18 November).
Wednesday, 18 November 2015
Many animals make use of the Earth’s magnetic field in their migrations. Researchers knew this but they were not sure how butterflies, birds, turtles and wolves did it.
Actually, even fruit flies and worms are able to navigate in this way.
Now, a research team led by Can Xie at Peking University has “found a protein in fruit flies, butterflies and pigeons that they believe to be responsible for this magnetic sense.”
Examining the fruit fly genome, they found a protein called MagR that interacts with another protein, cryptochrome.
An article in New Scientist explains how these two proteins work together:
“They found that MagR and cryptochrome proteins formed a cylinder, with an inside filling of 20 MagR molecules surrounded by 10 cryptochromes.
The researchers then identified and isolated this protein complex from pigeons and monarch butterflies.
In the lab, the proteins snapped into alignment in response to a magnetic field. They were so strongly magnetic that they flew up and stuck to the researchers’ tools, which contained iron. So the team had to use custom tools made of plastic.”
Can blind Darwinian processes invent such a delicate method that would be of no use unless all the parts worked together from the beginning?
The logical answer is no. We know that marvels of engineering are the result of intelligence.
And intelligence requires a mind.
Many other amazing solutions seen in the animal kingdom rule out purely naturalistic explanations.
Nowogrodzki, Anna. 2015. Animal magnetic sense comes from protein that acts as a compass. New Scientist (16 November).
Monday, 16 November 2015
Brains were not supposed to fossilize. That was something every palaeontologist knew.
Even when Nature published a paper on a fossilized brain in 2012, many remained sceptical.
Now, however, Nicholas Strausfeld, one of the authors of the 2012 paper, has with his colleagues published a new study in the journal Current Biology.
An article in Phys.org says their discoveries “turn paleontology on its head,” as they provide evidence of fossilised arthropod brains assumed to be ”520 million years” old:
”The species, Fuxianhuia protensa is an extinct arthropod that roamed the seafloor about 520 million years ago. It would have looked something like a very simple shrimp. And each of the fossils - from the Chengjiang Shales, fossil-rich sites in Southwest China - revealed F. protensa's ancient brain looked a lot like a modern crustacean's, too.”
So, Cambrian brains looked much like modern brains.
In case you’ve forgotten, stasis is the very opposite of evolution. If animals don’t change in “520 million years,” then how much time do they need?
The soft brains of Fuxianhuia protensa show clearly that Darwinian evolution is in a very deep crisis.
University of Arizona, 2015. 520-million-year-old arthropod brains turn paleontology on its head Phys.org (9 November).
Saturday, 14 November 2015
We all knew that animals and plants are intelligent, but now evolutionists would want us to believe that algae were able to plan ahead.
According to Science Daily,
“A team of scientists led by Dr Pierre-Marc Delaux (John Innes Centre / University of Wisconsin, Madison) has solved a long-running mystery about the first stages of plant life on earth.”
So what did they find out?
They “analysed DNA and RNA of some of the earliest known land plants and green algae and found evidence that their shared algal ancestor living in the Earth's waters already possessed the set of genes, or symbiotic pathways, it needed to detect and interact with the beneficial AM fungi.”
The rest is fact-free storytelling:
“Dr Delaux said: 'At some point 450 million years ago, alga from the earth's waters splashed up on to barren land. Somehow it survived and took root, a watershed moment that kick-started the evolution of life on earth. Our discovery shows for the first time that the alga already knew how to survive on land while it was still in the water. Without the development of this pre-adapted capability in alga, the earth could be a very different place today.' ”
Actually, their discovery did not show it. Their interpretation is based on anything but a critical analysis of the data. In other words, they assume that they have discovered algae that are capable of thinking and planning ahead, because their worldview requires this to happen.
Otherwise, life would never have made it to land. Evolution would be dead.
What the researchers failed to keep in mind is that evolution was supposed to be blind. Just ask Richard Dawkins.
John Innes Centre. 2015. Ancient alga knew how to survive on land before it left water and evolved into the first plant. ScienceDaily (5 October).
Thursday, 12 November 2015
Last week a terrorist group associated with ISIS celebrated the destruction of a civilian airplane over Sinai. Most people would instinctively say that something is very much amiss with the ethics of the group.
Describing the killed passengers – some of whom were babies – as crusaders cannot be understood as an extenuating circumstance that would make the killing less blameworthy.
We know it is wrong because we all have an inner witness:
“Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.” (Romans 2:14–15, NIV.)
In contrast, we would expect a Darwinian world to be callous and indifferent to human suffering.
But the recent atrocities have prompted evolutionists to search for a plausible (naturalistic) explanation of why “an apparently normal young adult” would “drop out of college and turn up some time later in a video performing a cold-blooded execution in the name of jihad?” as New Scientist puts it.
“It’s a conundrum we have been forced to ponder ever since a group calling itself ISIS declared war on infidels. But 70 years ago we were asking something similar of guards in Nazi concentration camps – and, sadly, there have been plenty of opportunities to ponder the matter in between.”
NS asks a pertinent question but cannot come up with a plausible answer.
“What turns an ordinary person into a killer? The idea that a civilised human being might be capable of barbaric acts is so alien that we often blame our animal instincts – the older, 'primitive' areas of the brain taking over and subverting their more rational counterparts. But fresh thinking turns this long-standing explanation on its head.”
The answer is not blowing in the wind, nor can it be found in neuroscience. It can be read on the pages of the Bible. People do bad things because they live in a world tainted by sin, marred by the consequences of Adam’s Fall.
They know instinctively that it is wrong, but they do it nevertheless.
The only antidote is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He died on the cross to transform people. In God’s eyes, a sinner becomes a saint (also known as a redeemed sinner), when he or she accepts the Lord Jesus.
It is a miraculous transformation, from darkness to light, from death to life.
New Scientist. 2015. Syndrome E: Can neuroscience explain the executioners of ISIS? (11 November).
Tuesday, 10 November 2015
How does a cold world that is assumed to be billions of years old not look its age?
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has introduced us to a Pluto we never knew. Far from being a dead world, the dwarf planet has shown signs of vigour and youth.
The latest surprise is the assumed presence of two cryovolcanoes. An article in the journal Science introduces them in this way:
“Volcanoes built out of frozen ice that once oozed molten ice from the inside of the dwarf planet. The discovery points to an internal heat source that, at some point in Pluto’s past, drove the melting of interior reservoirs of volatile ices, such as nitrogen and methane, that then erupted at the surface. It also suggests that the cryovolcanoes were a way for Pluto to periodically rejuvenate surface supplies of these volatile ices, which sublimate into the thin atmosphere and are eventually lost to space.”
The description obviously includes some long-age assumptions, which tends to be the norm in reports like these.
How long would an internal heat source not only survive in a frozen region of space but also warm Pluto’s surface?
The logical answer is a lot less than 4.5 billion years.
Hand, Eric. 2015. Ice volcanoes spotted on Pluto, suggest internal heat source. Science (9 November).
Sunday, 8 November 2015
According to evolutionary dogma, dino-age mammals were tiny creatures that hardly resembled anything we see today.
But fossils tell a very different kind of story.
In 2014, a paper on the discovery of three Jurassic squirrels (or at least animals that looked a lot like today’s squirrels) was published in the journal Nature.
While some researchers might hesitate to call them squirrels, the media used that very name, either with or without quotation marks. According to Sci-News:
“A group of paleontologists led by Dr Jin Meng of American Museum of Natural History has discovered three squirrel-like mammals that lived in what is now China during Jurassic, about 160 million years ago.”
If animals are “squirrel-like,” might they not actually be squirrels? The title of the article – Three Jurassic Squirrel Species Discovered in China – does suggest this.
Sci-News goes on to say,
“The three new species, named Shenshou lui, Xianshou linglong, and Xianshou songae, are described from six nearly complete 160-million-year-old fossils.
These animals were successful tree-dwellers, weighing between 30 and 300 grams.”
The fossils were extremely well preserved. Despite some minor differences with today’s specimens, they support the view that squirrels have been squirrels since time immemorial.
Some leading evolutionists have previously acknowledged that tree squirrels are living fossils. They should have even more reason to do so after this discovery.
Living fossils show that change of the Darwinian variety is rare in the animal kingdom.
Animals produce offspring after their kinds but do not change into other kinds. In other words, an important biological principle introduced in the Book of Genesis describes reality much better than the Darwinian story.
Sci-News. 2014. Three Jurassic Squirrel Species Discovered in China. (11 September).
Friday, 6 November 2015
Earth and Mars don’t look like twins, although astronomically speaking they’re next-door neighbours. They both orbit the Sun in the goldilocks zone and should thus theoretically be able to sustain life.
While some researchers think that once upon a time Mars “sloshed with water," others are not so dogmatic, as it appears to be a dead planet.
Water does not necessarily equate life. Earth has plate tectonics and a big moon that keep it habitable.
The naturalistic worldview does not tolerate exceptions, however. It rejects the view that Earth is special and has to explain why it isn't.
Here’s what TIME suggests:
“The Red Planet could have been a garden world, but something went terribly wrong early in its history. A NASA spacecraft unravels the mystery.”
The title of the newsletter article is Here’s What Murdered Mars, which assumes that the red planet was once blue and green but then meteorites “blasted a lot of the atmosphere into space.”
Even more devastating were the massive solar storms, i.e. coronal mass ejections (CMEs), that “clobbered the planet” and robbed it of more of its gasses.
This scenario is based on the CME recently witnessed by NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft and reported in the journal Science.
Earth was bigger and could better withstand these incidents.
This thinking is based on speculation that in the beginning, conditions for life on Earth were no better than on Mars.
However, it seems obvious that ours has always been a privileged planet that was designed to sustain life.
And Mars was not murdered, as it was never alive.
Kluge, Jeffrey. 2015. Here’s What Murdered Mars. Time newsletter (5 November).
Wednesday, 4 November 2015
Last year, The Telegraph asked whether Richard Dawkins was the ultimate grumpy old man.
Recently, in an interview with CNN, he put to rest all doubts concerning this theory. Or should we, in a Dawkinsian manner, call it a fact.
The evidence is staring at us.
The objects of Dawkins’ ire were non-believers - Republican presidential candidates who were critical of Darwinian evolution:
“This fills me with despair. This is not something you believe in or not. I mean, this is a fact. It is a fact. It’s just as much of a fact as the Earth goes around the Sun. You can’t not believe it unless you’re ignorant.”
Dawkins went on to say that he didn’t think they were ignorant but were merely saying what their supporters expected them to say.
He was especially displeased with famed neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, who has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and over 60 honorary doctorates.
In contrast, Dawkins has hardly done any science in decades, and has repeatedly used outdated and misleading arguments in favour of evolution.
These include his views on the genetic code, the human eye and Ernest Haeckel’s embryo drawings.
Even the journal Nature has criticised Dawkins for spreading misinformation.
In the CNN interview, Dawkins once again repeated that evolution was “the bedrock of biology.” He said that Carson’s view is “a disgrace. But for a very senior eminent distinguished doctor as he is to say that is even worse. Because of course, evolution is and biology is the bedrock of medicine.”
Dawkins could not resist adding a bit of amateur theology: “It is a form of arrogance to say we know what God does. The only way to know anything is by looking at the evidence. In this particular case, the evidence is overwhelming… In the case of evolution, there is no doubt. It is a fact.”
The problem is that Dawkins is very selective in his use of facts. He disregards all that don’t support molecules-to-man evolution.
Vale, Paul. 2015. Richard Dawkins Vilifies 'Creationist' Presidential Candidates, Calls Dr Ben Carson A 'Disgrace'. The Huffington Post – UK (2 November).
Monday, 2 November 2015
Saturn’s moon Enceladus has been in the news rather frequently in the past few years (see, for instance here, here and here). Last week, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took some close-ups from this alien world that defies naturalistic expectations.
While researchers could see some ancient terrain, in “other areas, huge grooves and ridges and the absence of craters indicate recent geological activity.”
This seems to be a recurring trend. Planets and moons that were thought to be more or less dormant are displaying signs of relative youth.
It’s the very thing we would expect to see, if we take Genesis at face value.
Sokol, Joshua. 2015. First images of Enceladus’s icy breath from closest ever fly-by. New Scientist (30 October).