Wednesday, 29 April 2015
It is practically impossible to believe that some of the phenomena we see around us are the workmanship of a blind watchmaker.
Take a Romanesco broccoli, for instance. With its fractal form, logarithmic spiral, and the arrangement of its spirals on its head according to a Fibonacci sequence it defies naturalistic explanations.
As do things like pine cones, spiral galaxies and ammonite shells.
In spite of the bad things happening around us (executions, shipwrecks and earthquakes, to name a few) that are evidence of the Fall, there is no shortage of beauty in our world.
And the best explanation for it is that the Lord God made it all.
Monday, 27 April 2015
For Darwinists committed to explaining everything with natural /materialistic processes, the origin of an immaterial skill, such as language, is an enigma.
Hypotheses attempting to account for how speaking originated have without exception turned out to be failures. Since the days of Darwin, the very idea has been a “horrid doubt.”
Many researchers have admitted that they don’t have a clue as to how language could have evolved. It remains a mystery. Some have even suggested that humans may be programmed to learn language.
However, from time to time, Darwinian stories raise their heads. A recent example features marmoset communication. A brief ScienceShot article says:
“Even though the marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) don’t have language, they do exchange calls. And the discovery that a young marmoset (as in the photo above) learns to wait for another marmoset to finish its call before uttering its own sound may help us better understand the origins of human language, say scientists online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. No primate, other than humans, is a vocal learner, with the ability to hear a sound and imitate it—a talent considered essential to speech. But the marmoset researchers say that primates still exchange calls in a manner reminiscent of having a conversation because they wait for another to finish calling before vocalizing—and that this ability is often overlooked in discussions about the evolution of language.”
Could this shed light on how the first humans learned to communicate through the spoken word? No. Language is an immaterial phenomenon. It cannot be explained by storytelling that relies solely on material processes.
Morell, Virginia. 2015. Marmoset 'conversations' may give clues to evolution of human language. ScienceShot (21 April).
Saturday, 25 April 2015
1915 saw the death throes of the Ottoman Empire. But before its demise, Turkish forces had caused the death of over a million Armenians, possible as many as 1.5 million.
Turkish authorities have vehemently disputed these figures and claimed that both Turks and Armenians suffered during World War I, which, of course, is technically correct.
Armenians have wanted revenge, and in the 1970s and 1980s some groups did exactly that by targeting and killing Turkish diplomats.
But now something very unexpected has happened: In early April, a group of over twenty Turkish Christians travelled to Yerevan, “to apologize for what our ancestors did, to ask for your forgiveness” as their spokesmen put it.
An Armenian TV news channel reported on the event. According to WorldWatch Monitor: “Gathered around the monument’s eternal flame, the more than twenty Turkish citizens spoke out simply, and repeatedly: ‘We plead with you, if you can, to forgive us and the crimes of our forefathers.’
Significantly, the Turks were joined by a number of local Armenian Christians who formed a huge circle, holding hands together around the memorial as they prayed aloud in Turkish and Armenian for their nations and peoples.”
While many Christians might be satisfied with merely singing about “the wonder-working pow’r in the blood of the Lamb,” these Turks and Armenians actually put Jesus’ teaching into effect:
“Asked what the reconciliation effort has really accomplished, one Turkish pastor said simply: “We want our fellow citizens, Turks and Armenians alike, to ask us: ‘What kind of God can bring two enemies together like this?’ ”
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the Apostle Paul writes that the Gospel is the power of God. He taught us to follow the example of Jesus, who through His humility and obedience did far more good than all the armies that have ever marched on Earth or all the teachers who have taught about goodness.
Earlier this spring, a 10-year old Iraqi Christian girl also followed Jesus’ teachings, saying she had forgiven her persecutors – the ISIS forces that drove her into exile.
The Gospel teaches us that light always overcomes darkness, and love overcomes hatred.
The Good Lord is above all a God of love who was willing to forgive His tormentors.
Baker, Barbara G. 2015. Overcoming a century of pain. WorldWatch Monitor (24 April).
Thursday, 23 April 2015
One of the surest signs of approaching Easter (or Christmas or some other Christian feast) is an attempt by sceptics to explain away a major biblical event.
Past stories have featured Jesus walking on an ice floe, the plagues in Egypt as natural catastrophes, Moses seeing hallucinations, the Jesus’ family tomb fiasco, and, of course, various attempts to account for the empty tomb without a resurrection.
The common denominator in all of these stories is that they are driven by a worldview that does not accept the supernatural dimension. Everything has to be explained by natural causes, regardless of how unbelievable or awkward the outcome becomes.
The latest episode features St. Paul and a falling meteor. According to New Scientist:
“William Hartmann, co-founder of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, has a different explanation for what happened to Paul. He says the biblical descriptions of Paul's experience closely match accounts of the fireball meteor seen above Chelyabinsk, Russia , in 2013.”
New Scientist has not always been friendly towards biblical Christianity, so we should perhaps not be to surprised at its latest attempt.
New Scientist goes on to say:
“But the Bible is not just any ancient text. Paul's Damascene conversion and subsequent missionary journeys around the Mediterranean helped build Christianity into the religion it is today. If his conversion was indeed as Hartmann explains it, then a random space rock has played a major role in determining the course of history.”
The next passage says more about the disbelief – and worldview – of the article writer than about anything else:
“That's not as strange as it sounds. A large asteroid impact helped kill off the dinosaurs, paving the way for mammals to dominate the Earth. So why couldn't a meteor influence the evolution of our beliefs?”
Actually, the soft tissue and radiocarbon (C-14) found in dinosaur bone suggests that the “terror lizards” survived the global flood and other catastrophes.
To its credit, the magazine does mention that some researchers doubt this explanation that seems to rely on the basically deistic assumption that God is incapable to stepping down into human history.
However, from beginning to end, the Bible describes God’s interaction with mankind. He takes part in human history. Moreover, as the Gospel of Matthew records, one of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, ‘God with us.’
Aron, Jacob. 2015. Falling meteor may have changed the course of Christianity. New Scientist 3018, 8–9.
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
In popular literature, antibiotic resistance is often touted as evidence for evolution. However, a paper published in the journal Nature in 2011 stated:
"These results show conclusively that antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon that predates the modern selective pressure of clinical antibiotic use.”
The following year (2012), research published in the Journal PLoS ONE reached the same conclusion.
New research supports this view. A Nature news article states:
“An isolated American Indian group in the Venezuelan Amazon hosts the most-diverse constellation of microbes ever discovered in humans, researchers reported on 17 April in Science Advances. Surprisingly, the group's microbiome includes bacteria with genes that confer antibiotic resistance — even though its members, part of the Yanomami tribe, are not thought to have been exposed to the drugs.”
So, when it comes to antibiotic resistance, it might be wise for researchers to avoid using the E-word.
Deng, Boer. 2015. Bacteria bonanza found in remote Amazon village. Nature news (17 April).
Sunday, 19 April 2015
In a purely naturalistic /materialistic world, beauty is an enigma. It seems to serve no survival purpose. Why would natural selection prefer bright colours to dull ones?
But there’s more. The natural world looks as thought it was designed by a highly skilled artist who knew what he was doing. Indeed, Scripture says: “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV).
Scientists are beginning to understand that colours and beauty are intentional. In addition to providing aesthetical pleasure for us, they might even serve a more mundane purpose:
“The beautiful color of a sunset might be more than just a pretty picture. It could be a signal to our bodies that it’s time to reset our internal clock, the biological ticktock that governs everything from sleep patterns to digestion. That’s the implication of a new study in mice that shows these small rodents use light’s changing color to set their own clocks, a finding that researchers expect will hold for humans, too.”
Cesare, Chris. 2015. Colors help set body’s internal clock. Science (17 April).
Friday, 17 April 2015
Researchers used to think that magnetic fields could tie bits and pieces of dust and rocks together, eventually forming planets.
However, new data sent by the European Space Agency’s Philae lander from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko show that the theory does not work in practice.
According to an article in New Scientist, “the comet has almost no discernible magnetic field.”
It seems that the basic problem in secular astronomical theories is that they do not work.
From quantum fluctuations to cosmic inflation and too rapid galaxy formation to inadequate moon formation theories, there are insurmountable problems in the views.
The solar system and the universe look as if they are fine-tuned. The obvious solution is that it was designed that way and no view relying on entirely naturalistic means can ever explain its origin.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is by far the most logical explanation for the genesis of the universe – including everything in our solar system.
Aron, Jacob. 2015. Philae's sensors show comet 67P has almost no magnetic field. New Scientist (14 April).
Wednesday, 15 April 2015
Caenorhabditis elegans is a tiny worm, a mere millimetre long, but the way it develops is anything but simple.
This should probably be no surprise as creatures like fruit flies are amazing, and even bacteria are full of elegant molecular machines.
Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture has produced two YouTube videos about C. elegans. One of them features CSC Fellow Dr. Paul Nelson, who says that when in comes to the way the worm’s cell lineages become specified, “the case for design could not have been made more explicit.”
The development of C. elegans defies Darwinian explanations:
“There must be some governing logic, some control system, that tells those lineages what they're going to do as they are specializing. And I think from the perspective of an undirected process like natural selection or evolution generally, it's very hard to see how you can build that without knowing where you were going.”
Videos courtesy of Discovery Institute.
Monday, 13 April 2015
Fine-tuning is not only associated with the laws that govern the universe. It is also evident in living creatures. The latest discovery features a sea sponge.
According to a press release issued by Brown University:
“The Venus’ flower basket sea sponge has hair-like appendages that hold it in place on the sea floor. Research led by Brown University engineers shows that the internal structure of those fibers is fine-tuned for strength. The findings from this natural system could inform the engineering of load-bearing structural members.”
There’s no shortage of intelligent solutions in the animal kingdom. Like this one, many are so good that engineers are trying to copy the strategy that they use.
“Life may seem precarious for the sea sponge known as Venus’ flower basket. Tiny, hair-like appendages made essentially of glass are all that hold the creatures to their seafloor homes. But fear not for these creatures of the deep. Those tiny lifelines, called basalia spicules, are fine-tuned for strength, according to new research led by Brown University engineers.”
The press release describes this structure as remarkable:
“In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers show that the secret to spicules’ strength lies in their remarkable internal structure. The spicules, each only 50 microns in diameter, are made of a silica (glass) core surrounded by 10 to 50 concentric cylinders of glass, each separated by an ultra-thin layer of an organic material. The walls of each cylinder gradually decrease in thickness moving from the core toward the outside edge of the spicule.”
In explaining such fine-tuning, Darwinian just-so stories have no merit. All the evidence points to design.
And design suggests a Designer.
You can read more about amazing design in the animal and /or plant kingdom here, here, here, here, here and here.
Brown University. 2015. Sea sponge anchors are natural models of strength (6 April).
Saturday, 11 April 2015
The Biblical View of Genesis Is ”Incredibly Destructive,” Christianity Today Interview Claims. Really?
Heavitree Gap in Alice Springs, Australia, suggests the world is young.
Christianity Today (CT) has a series of articles about women apologists. Some of the stuff it presents is good, while some is not so good.
In an interview in the magazine, Melissa Cain Travis states:
“In the creation-evolution debate, for example, there are entire ministries devoted to trying to convince the church that there is only one view on creation that doesn’t involve compromising Scripture or the gospel. That’s incredibly destructive. Whatever views you take on the age of the earth or evolutionary change, those aren’t salvific issues. That’s not to say these aren’t important issues that should be discussed. But they should never be used divisively or characterized as a necessary part of being a Bible-believing Christian.”
She is right in saying that a biblical view of Genesis is an important issue. It sees death as a consequence of sin. If one believes in evolution and /or an explanation needing millions of years (such as the gap theory or progressive creation), one cannot logically subscribe to a purely biblical worldview.
If we are seen as divisive when we point out that Jesus and the New Testament writers believed in a young earth, that probably says more about those Christians – apologists or others – who do not embrace an entirely biblical worldview, than about us.
The reason for why we have ministries like the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Creation Ministries International (CMI) and Answers in Genesis (AiG) is because with few exceptions, the church has not given a clear message on creation and its significance for the gospel.
Unfortunately, CT has not always stood for a biblical understanding of creation.
As followers of Jesus, we should obviously believe as Jesus did – even about the age of the earth.
While the biblical and theological reasons are the most pertinent ones, we should not forget that the scientific evidence for a young earth seems to be increasing with every passing week.
Dilley, Andrea Palpant. 2015. The Apologist Mom. Christianity Today (9 April).
Thursday, 9 April 2015
The seahorse’s tail is an enigmatic organ. It is both flexible and rigid. With it, the tiny sea animal can do some of the things an elephant would do with its trunk.
A recent report in Science Daily states:
“These prehensile tails combine the seemingly contradictory characteristics of flexibility and rigidity, and knowing how seahorses accomplish this feat could help engineers create devices that are both flexible and strong.”
Although the report does not acknowledge it, the tail seems to be a design feature:
“Seahorses use their strong and flexible tails to anchor themselves to plants and other materials on coral reefs or the sea floor, allowing them to hide from predators.”
Once again, there is something better in the animal kingdom than what engineers have been able to create.
The science of copying intelligent solutions seen in nature is called biomimicry.
Intelligent solutions suggest that there is intelligence behind it all. From a Christian perspective that is exactly what we would expect to see.
You can read more about biomimicry here, here, here, here, here and here.
Secrets of the seahorse tail revealed. Science Daily, March 31, 2015.
Tuesday, 7 April 2015
Our bodies are remarkably good at healing themselves. Wounds begin to heal almost from the instant we get them. But just how does out body know how to heal itself?
Researchers at the University of Arizona have made a major breakthrough. An article in Science Daily states:
“A multidisciplinary research team has discovered how cells know to rush to a wound and heal it -- opening the door to new treatments for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The findings shed light on the mechanisms of cell migration, particularly in the wound-healing process. The results represent a major advancement for regenerative medicine, in which biomedical engineers and other researchers manipulate cells' form and function to create new tissues, and even organs, to repair, restore or replace those damaged by injury or disease.”
Our cells seem to know exactly what to do:
“The UA researchers discovered that when mechanical force disappears -- for example at a wound site where cells have been destroyed, leaving empty, cell-free space -- a protein molecule, known as DII4, coordinates nearby cells to migrate to a wound site and collectively cover it with new tissue. What's more, they found, this process causes identical cells to specialize into leader and follower cells. Researchers had previously assumed leader cells formed randomly.”
The report gives more details of the research conducted by Pak Kin Wong, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Arizona, and colleagues:
“Wong's team observed that when cells collectively migrate toward a wound, leader cells expressing a form of messenger RNA, or mRNA, genetic code specific to the DII4 protein emerge at the front of the pack, or migrating tip. The leader cells, in turn, send signals to follower cells, which do not express the genetic messenger. This elaborate autoregulatory system remains activated until new tissue has covered a wound.”
In other words, there seems to be intelligent communication between cells. Our bodies are full of supermolecules and other amazing features like quality control that cannot be explained by blind Darwinian mechanisms.
This discovery illustrates a great truth the ancient psalmist wrote about 3,000 years ago:
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Ps. 139:14, NIV).
Why do cells rush to heal a wound? Mysteries of wound healing unlocked. Science Daily, March 13, 2015.
Sunday, 5 April 2015
Blind cave crabs do not prove evolution.
Darwinists like Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson often claim that scientists do not question evolution.
However, the peer-reviewed literature gives a rather different account of the state of evolutionary biology. For instance, in 2013 the journal Experimental Physiology published a paper by Dennis Noble entitled Rocking the Foundations of Evolutionary Biology.
Noble, a Professor Emeritus of Oxford University, said:
“The 'Modern Synthesis' (Neo-Darwinism) is a mid-20th century gene-centric view of evolution, based on random mutations accumulating to produce gradual change through natural selection … [but] we now know that genetic change is far from random and often not gradual.
It is not only the standard 20th century views of molecular genetics that are in question. Evolutionary theory itself is already in a state of flux (Jablonka & Lamb, 2005; Noble, 2006, 2011; Beurton et al. 2008; Pigliucci & Muller, 2010; Gissis & Jablonka, 2011; Shapiro, 2011). In this article, I will show that all the central assumptions of the Modern Synthesis (often also called Neo-Darwinism) have been disproved.”
As far as I know, Professor Noble is not a creationist or an advocate of intelligent design, but his approach is nevertheless more honest than the run-of-the-mill Darwinian articles that tend to brush all difficulties under the carpet.
Noble, Denis. 2013. Physiology is rocking the foundations of evolutionary biology. Experimental Physiology 98.8 (2013), 1235–1243.
Friday, 3 April 2015
A recent editorial in New Scientist magazine begins with the words:
“FOR millions of people around the world, this weekend is a special occasion – a time to celebrate the central article of their religious faith, Jesus's resurrection and ascension to heaven.”
The writer missed a pertinent detail, i.e., Jesus’ ascension took place 40 days after His resurrection.
The article goes on to say:
“Not one of these people can really know what happened 2000-odd years ago in Jerusalem. And yet they believe their version of events is true.”
Now, here’s where the beliefs of the writer provide an interpretation of what might have or might not have happened.
It seems that Christmas and Easter are difficult times for unbelievers.
Perhaps they remind them of the truth that their naturalistic /materialistic worldview is not entirely logical.
We actually do have eyewitness accounts of the resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15 the Apostle Paul lists a number of people who saw the risen Christ with their own eyes.
It’s good to remember that Paul wrote within 20 years or so after the event that happened in real history
The NS article ignores this, however, and attempts to elevate the naturalistic interpretation of science above the Bible: “The scientific method is based on verifiable evidence, and is thus not a belief system.”
I would say that it is. One’s presuppositions do colour and even distort one’s conclusions. They might cause some people to deny historical events attested to by many eyewitnesses.
Don't believe in belief. New Scientist 3015 (1 April 2015).
Wednesday, 1 April 2015
It might not have seen daylight on April 1, but it is almost certainly the joke that has had more effect than any other.
It is the belief that everything comes from nothing, or that no Designer or Creator is needed.
To make it sound more plausible, it is often presented as a scientific theory.
However, we know that things or even natural laws don’t make themselves, regardless of what Stephen Hawking might believe. It seems that someone has been pulling our leg – and hard.
If they have to invoke a quantum fluctuation or “the law of the higgledy-piggledy” (as astronomer and philosopher John Herschel famously called natural selection), or spelling mistakes (a.k.a. mutations), we might suspect that something is very much amiss there.