Science - Creation/Evolution
Big Bang Christianity?
Can we fit the Big Bang into the Bible?
Cosmology is the most important subject in the world.
Why? Because it is the story of the world: its origin, structure, purpose, and destiny. Our cosmology forms the basis for our response to the most fundamental questions regarding our existence. Our cosmological beliefs shape our morality, religion, and culture. Our cosmology is closely linked to our worldview.
I contend then, that to make Christianity plausible, we must critique the current secular worldview and particularly its Big Bang cosmology. And then we must present Christianity as a comprehensive worldview with its own, Christ-centered, cosmology.
TRYING OUT A BIBLICAL BIG BANG?
Unfortunately, many Christian scientists and theologians accept Big Bang cosmology as gospel truth, established beyond any reasonable scientific doubt. They believe that, to make Christianity plausible to our society, Christians should embrace Big Bang Cosmology.
Far from seeing “Big Bang Cosmology” (BBC) as a threat to Christianity, prominent apologists such as William Craig and Stephen Meyer believe it provides compelling evidence of the biblical teaching of creatio ex nihilo, thus offering a useful step in proving the existence of a transcendent God. For example, Meyer concludes:
"Taken jointly, general relativity and the Big Bang theory provide a scientific description of what Christian theologians have long described in doctrinal terms as creatio ex nihilo – creation out of nothing (again, nothing physical). These theories place a heavy demand on any proposed causal explanation of the universe, since the cause of the beginning of the universe must transcend time, space, matter, and energy."1
Christian apologist Gregory Koukl goes even further,
"I know the Big Bang idea is controversial with some Christians, but I think that’s because they haven’t realized how well it fits the Story , which basically says the same thing."2
Of course, since BBC forms an integral part of the naturalist worldview, Christians must first “baptize” BBC. This involves insisting that the biblical God is the creator of the universe, that BBC merely describes how God created, that God can act miraculously at times, and so on. However, regarding the history of the physical universe, baptized BBC is factually identical to the naturalist version.
So, how well does BBC fit the Christian worldview? Are there really no clashes? Is there no theological price to pay? Let’s examine more closely how the Bible and BBC compare regarding the past, future, and present structure of the universe.
CONFLICTS REGARDING ORIGINS
1. Astronomical evolution
Big Bang Cosmology and Genesis certainly agree on a few things: the universe began a finite time ago, light was one of the first things created, and humans the last.
Yet, they differ hugely on the timescale (billions of years versus thousands of years) and the order of events (Sun, then Earth, then vegetation, versus Earth, then vegetation, then Sun). They differ also regarding the mode of creation. In BBC everything arises gradually through evolutionary processes, based solely on the operation of natural laws. According to the Bible, God acted directly at each step, bringing in something new. And this happened quickly: He spoke, and it was.
Further, they differ in that BBC assumes natural laws have never changed whereas, according to the Bible, rebellion against God subjected the entire creation, including astronomical objects, to distortion and decay, affecting even natural laws.
To harmonize the Bible with BBC one could simply re-interpret Genesis 1 (and Ex. 20:11; 31:17), treating the creation days as merely a literary device (e.g., the Framework Hypothesis) conveying theological rather than historical truth, and re-interpret those biblical texts speaking of the universal effect of sin (e.g., Isa. 65:17, 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1; Heb. 12:26-27).
This may seem like a small price to pay to harmonize the Bible with modern cosmology. Unfortunately, this introduces the hermeneutical principle that perceived scientific truths should control our reading of Scripture. Once that hermeneutic is granted legitimacy, it becomes difficult to restrain.
2. Geological evolution
ADAM CONTEMPLATING HIS ANCESTOR? The Big Bang brings with it ancestors for Adam who would have lived and died millions of years before he ever came to be.
One could stop here, adopting an old universe/young earth position. This, however, is rarely done. Having accepted mainstream astronomy, why not likewise accept mainstream geology? Both are based on the same naturalist presuppositions. If the naturalist picture of the history of stars and planets is deemed reliable, why not also the naturalist picture of the history of planet Earth?
Consequently, BBC-accepting Christians generally accept also mainstream geology as giving a reliable account of Earth history.
But now the cost is much higher. Mainstream geology claims fossil evidence for pain, suffering, predation, disease, earthquakes, and the like, millions of years before Man. Such natural evil could therefore not be due to Adam’s Fall, but must be part of God’s initial “very good” creation.
Much else in Genesis now becomes implausible. Thus William Craig considers Genesis 1-11 to be “mytho-history,” having “fantastic elements” that are “palpably false” if taken to be literally true, including the ideas that God created the world in six days, that there was a snake that could talk, that there were actual cherubim with a flaming sword, that Noah’s flood was global, that linguistic diversity can be traced back to the Tower of Babel, and that the earth is only thousands of years old.3
Ironically, Craig’s stress on God’s transcendence, needed for his cosmological argument, aids his mythologizing of Genesis:
"If Genesis 1–11 functions as mytho-history, then these chapters need not be read literally. The accounts of the origin and Fall of man are clearly metaphorical or figurative in nature, featuring as they do an anthropomorphic deity incompatible with the transcendent God of the creation account."4
The greatest problem, however, is mainstream geology’s placing the existence of humans, or human-look-alikes, more than a million years ago, as primitive cave-dwellers, lacking language skills. This is hard to square with the biblical account of Adam and his fall into sin. The biblical Adam does not fit plausibly within naturalist geology. Hence, the proper Christian approach is to rebuild geology, taking due account of biblical history.
3. Biological evolution
This brings us to the next logical step. Having accepted mainstream astronomy and geology, why not also mainstream biology? If mainstream science is right about the ages of things, why should it not also be right about the evolutionary origin of things?
Most Christian biologists are evolutionists. They consider the evidence for evolution overwhelming. So does theologian Bruce Waltke, who said,
“if the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult…some odd group that is not really interacting with the world...To deny scientific reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world. For us as Christians, this would serve as our spiritual death because we would not be loving God with all of our minds. It would also be our spiritual death in witness to the world because we would not be seen as credible..."5
Where does that leave Adam? Adam has been variously considered as a neo-lithic farmer, a tribal chief, a representative human, the first homo sapien, or a member of an even earlier hominid species. He is viewed as either fully created, physically evolved with a created soul, or fully evolved. Craig takes Adam and Eve to be two evolved members of Heidelberg Man, in whom God implanted rational souls at least 750,000 years ago.6
Given the difficulty of fitting the biblical Adam into mainstream science, many theologians now deny his actual existence. Theologian Peter Enns considers Adam to be merely a literary figure.<sup>7</sup> So does theologian John Schneider, who believes that humans were never morally upright, that death is not due to sin, and that Christ’s atonement was not a payment for human sin. Blaming evolution (and thus implicating God, who drives evolution) for making humans selfish and sinful, he ends up with a universalism where all humans are saved.8 Clearly, major theological matters are now at stake; this has become a salvation issue.
Few Christians may want to go that far. Yet once we start adapting the Bible to mainstream science the stopping point becomes arbitrary, as is reflected in the wide spectrum of views on origins among Christians.
THE BIG BANG AND HEAVEN
The Bible depicts Heaven as a physical place created directly by God, in time and space, and containing angels, God’s throne, Christ in His human flesh, the departed souls of saints, etc. Normally invisible to us, Heaven seems to be a three-dimensional subspace embedded in a larger-dimensional space containing also the celestial cosmos. It may well have its own natural laws. Yet Heaven is closely linked to Earth, where heavenly agents can cause physical effects.
This Heaven is hard to reconcile with modern cosmology, which assumes there is no space or time beyond our physical universe. It considers the celestial universe to be a closed system. It literally has no place for Heaven. It is hard to imagine Heaven originating from the Big Bang singularity, partaking of any expansion of space, or undergoing any sort of physical change.
Christians upholding Big Bang Cosmology rarely discuss Heaven or angels. When they do, they seem to think of Heaven as a vague spiritual abstraction. Thus, for example, William Craig believes that Heaven is a purely spiritual realm, beyond space-time, inhabited entirely by non-physical beings, so that even Christ presently has no physical body.9
THE BIG BANG AND THE FUTURE
The contrast between Big Bang Cosmology and Christianity is most stark regarding the future. Modern cosmology predicts the eventual extinction of all life in the universe, whether by freezing, frying, or the “big rip.” Further, modern biology asserts that dead is dead; there can be no resurrection of dead individuals.
Against such despair, the central hope of Christianity is the impending return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, and life everlasting in a renewed heaven and a renewed earth. These essentials of Christianity cannot be compromised by any Christian worthy of the name.
Hence, many Christian believers in Big Bang origins will reject Big Bang eschatology. For example, William Craig,10 as well as physicists-turned-theologians John Polkinghorne11 and Robert Russell,12 all profess that Christian hope for a personal, as well as a cosmic resurrection must be grounded upon God and His mercy rather than in science.
To justify their rejection of Big Bang eschatology, they all note that God’s sovereignty enables him to change natural laws or personally intervene whenever He wishes, invalidating scientific predictions based on uniformity assumptions. Therefore, they urge, we should trust the Bible about God’s future eschatological acts, rather than the predictions of mainstream science.
Such a Bible-first epistemology is commendable. Yet it is highly inconsistent with their belief, following mainstream science, that Gen. 1-11 is largely mythical, or “palpably false,” to use Craig’s words. If we can trust God’s word about the future, why not also about the past? If God’s radical actions in nature can nullify scientific extrapolations into the future, why not apply the same limits to scientific extrapolations into the past?
The cosmic reconciliation will involve much continuity, in that the Earth and heavenly bodies will not be destroyed but renewed. But also there will be also discontinuity, in that the renewed cosmos will likely not be subject to physical decay. Russell speculates that the natural laws may be modified, so that thermodynamics may be included only to the extent that it contributes to natural good, but not to natural evil.<sup>3</sup>
Russell’s proposal regarding future thermodynamics is remarkably similar to the modified thermodynamics suggested by some creationists as applying to the initial “very good” creation before its distortion due to sin. Indeed, the biblical eschatological terms of “renewal,” “redemption,” “reconciliation” all imply a restoration back to an original good state. It seems that the entire cosmos was adversely affected by sin, from which it will be cleansed and recreated into a new heaven and earth (e.g., Rom. 8:18-25, 2 Peter 3: 5-13).14
Finally, Russell does not question that this transition will take place very rapidly: after Christ’s return but before the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven. The apostle John's vision of the new heavens (Rev. 21:1-2) suggests that the cosmos will be instantly transformed so that renewed galaxies billions of light-years away will be immediately visible to an observer on the renewed Earth. Just like in the initial creation, where God spoke “and it was so.” If distant starlight is not a problem in the renewed cosmos, why should it be a problem in the original cosmos?
To sum up, Christians should be wary of embracing Big Bang cosmology. Although this in itself may involve only minor revision of the Bible, it introduces a science-driven hermeneutic. This opens the door to acceptance also of geological and biological evolution, leading to the loss of the biblical Adam, and raising numerous weighty theological problems.
It is hard to square modern cosmology with the existence of Heaven as a physical place in space and time that interacts with the visible cosmos. Most importantly, Christians must certainly break with Big Bang cosmology regarding its future predictions, which rule out a future restored cosmos and our bodily resurrection.
Therefore, since we must ultimately place our trust in God's written Word, and in the power and faithfulness of our Lord, regarding our future salvation, should we not likewise apply this same trust to other matters that God has revealed to us? Christians should develop their own comprehensive cosmology and worldview, rather than trying to placate worldly wisdom.
If, in the eyes of the world, Christianity is ultimately viewed as foolishness anyway, we may as well be consistent "fools."
Dr. John Byl blogs at Bylogos.blogspot.com where this first appeared. He is a Professor emeritus for Trinity Western University, and the author of “God and Cosmos: A Christian View of Time, Space, and the Universe” and “The Divine Challenge: On Matter, Mind, Math & Meaning.”
1 Stephen C. Meyer 1999. “The Return of the God Hypothesis”, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 11 (1-2):1-38, p. 8.
2 Gregory Koukl 2017. The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important That Happens in Between, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, p. 51
3 William Lane Craig 2021. In Quest of the Historical Adam. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, p. 101, 105.
5 Quoted in Morris III, H. 2010. “Creation by Evolution”. Acts & Facts. 39 (6): 4-5.
6 William Lane Craig, “The Historical Adam,” First Things 316 (October 2021): 47-48.
7 Peter Enns 2012. The Evolution of Adam. Brazos Press.
8 John R. Schneider, “Recent Genetic Science and Christian Theology on Human Origins: An ‘Aesthetic Supralapsarianism,’” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 62:3 (Sept 2010): 197.
9 https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer , #714 Zygotic Jesus (Jan.11, 2021), accessed Nov.3, 2022.
10 William Lane Craig, “The End of the World.” Available at: www. reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/science-theology/the-end-of-the-world/. Accessed March 6, 2023.
11 John Polkinghorne 2002. The God of Hope and the End of the World, Yale University Press: New Haven, CN.
12 Robert J. Russell 2008. Cosmology: From Alpha to Omega. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
13 Russell, op.cit. pp. 307-310.
14 See, for example, Cornelis Venema 2000. The Promise of the Future, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, ch.13.
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Science - Creation/Evolution
Dinosaurs and dead bodies
If Lenin’s body can't last, how could dinosaur tissue have lasted millions of years? ***** In a Russian laboratory, a team of highly trained Russian scientists is leaning over a dead body. The body is that of a man who has been dead for over 90 years, and these scientists are being paid $200,000 a year to keep this man looking alive. They are good at what they do, such that some people consider this body to be the best preserved corpse in the world. These are the earthly remains of the infamous Vladimir Lenin, socialist revolutionary and founder of the Soviet Union. It is estimated that he killed 3.7 million of his own people during his bloody reign of terror. He was an avowed atheist and declared that “there is nothing more abominable than religion,” and “all worship of a divinity is a necrophilia.” He was responsible for the mass killing of thousands of Christian in Russia. When Lenin died in January of 1924, the first embalming efforts began at a Moscow location that would later be termed the “Lenin lab.” It might seem like it should be an easy task to preserve a body for a long time, but it is actually very difficult. There were times when up to 200 scientists were employed at the Lenin lab, researching and testing the best ways to preserve Lenin’s body. They have partially succeeded. If you go to see the body of Lenin today, lying in his glass sarcophagus in Red Square you might think he looks in fairly good condition. The reality is that it has been a huge task to keep him looking like that. The sarcophagus is cooled to 61 degrees, with the humidity between 80 and 90 percent. Underneath his clothing there is a double-layered rubber suit that keep a thin layer of embalming fluid continually covering his body. The body gets re-embalmed once every other year, using a process that involves submerging the body in baths of glycerol solution, formaldehyde, potassium acetate, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, acetic acid solution and acetic sodium. Each session takes about 45 days. After the re-embalming Lenin is carted back to his sarcophagus, but each week he is visited by scientists who carefully examine his skin using precision, scientific instruments to detect any change in moisture, color and contour. Dehydration and time are the main enemies. If any fungus stains or mold spots are detected on Lenin’s face they are carefully treated with a mild bleach solution. A doctor who worked on the body from 1934 to 1952 said that with current preservation techniques, the body could last "many decades, even for 100 years.” It is now getting close to 100 years, but despite the best efforts of hundreds of scientists and over 90 years of research Lenin’s body is still deteriorating; the best of modern science has not been able to stop the downward march to dust. Artificial skin has been created to replace what is deteriorating, and his nose, face, and other parts of his body have been resculpted to restore their appearance. A moldable material made of paraffin, glycerin and carotene has been used to replace much of the skin fat to maintain the original shape of the body. It has been estimated that only 23% of Lenin’s original body tissue still remains. The rest has been replaced by artificial materials. So the famous body of Lenin is becoming more and more of a “wax” sculpture and less and less of a real body. Another well-preserved body Let us now leave Russia and visit another location, this time on the other side of the world. Once again a team of scientists is bending over the remains of a body. This time they are not in a high-tech laboratory. They have just finished removing these remains from the dirt. Once again it is a very old body, but this time all they have is the skeleton. It’s the bones of a T-rex dinosaur, and a paleontologist named Mary Schweitzer is about to take one of its bones back to her laboratory for careful study. It’s there that she places the bone in a solution of EDTA, to dissolve the bone matrix. To the astonishment of the scientific community, she discovered that there was still soft tissue inside – blood vessels, red blood cells, etc. At first some of the other scientists ridiculed her because they said, “These fossils are millions of years old and we know that biological material doesn’t last that long!” But she finally proved that it was the soft tissues of the dinosaur itself, and the majority of the scientific community accepted her discovery. As time went by more and more fossils from all over the world were tested and found to still contain soft tissues. If you saw some of the microscope pictures you might easily think you were looking at a piece of meat from the grocery store. The level of preservation is quite amazing! Even the microscopic structures of veins, red blood cells, osteocytes, and nerves have been preserved! Young earth or old flesh? Now the scientists had a problem. Most of them believed the dinosaurs had died out 65 million years ago, and previous experiments had shown that soft tissues should not last for millions of years. But they weren’t willing to let go of their belief that evolution happened over millions of years, so they started scrambling for answers to explain why the dinosaur bones still had soft tissue in them. Scientists who believed that the fossils formed in a worldwide flood about 4,400 years ago, like the Bible describes, didn’t have a problem with this discovery. Like so many other discoveries in recent science, it matched very well with their belief that the earth is only about 6,000 years and the fossils formed during the flood. This was exciting news for them, but not for the evolutionary scientists! Mary Schweitzer next did an experiment by soaking ostrich blood vessels in concentrated blood plasma for two years to see what would happen. She reported that after two years the blood vessels were still recognizable. She suspected that the iron in the blood acted somewhat like a preservative. So she put forth the theory that maybe the soft tissue in the dinosaur bones had been preserved for millions of years by iron in the blood of the dinosaurs. She compared it to the action of formaldehyde, except not as strong. The scientists who believed in Darwinian evolution immediately grabbed onto this explanation as the answer to their dilemma. They said that this experiment must explain how dinosaur soft tissue could last for millions of years. But does it really? Many of the bones Mary Schweitzer tested are dated by evolutionists at 145,000,000 to 199,000,000 years old. Can a 2-year experiment in a climate controlled laboratory be extrapolated to explain 145,000,000 years of preservation under harsh environmental conditions? Animals die all the time. We’ve all seen them dead beside the road. Does the iron in their blood act as a preservative to keep their tissues from decaying? Ninety years of research and the combined knowledge of up to 200 scientists has not been able to stop the decay of Lenin’s body. They are using the most advanced preservation techniques and the best embalming chemicals, including formaldehyde, but that is still not enough to stop the slow, but steady decline into dust. “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:19). It appears that iron molecules do have some preservative qualities that act in a similar way to formaldehyde, except that they are weaker than formaldehyde. And we can see that even formaldehyde itself, combined with other strong chemicals cannot preserve tissue indefinitely. A large portion of Lenin’s body is already gone after only ninety years. It is even surprising to find that fragments of soft tissue have been preserved in dinosaur bones for over 4,000 years since the flood buried these fossils. But it is quite inconceivable that iron molecules could preserve tissue for 145,000,000 years. In order to grasp the vast difference between the evolutionary time scale and the Bible time scale, let’s try converting them to seconds. If the 4,400 years since the flood was converted to 4,400 seconds or 1.2 hours, and the 145,000,000 years (the supposed age of the bones) was converted to 145,000,000 seconds or 4.5 years, we can see the huge difference between the two. What a little over an hour is to four and a half years, the evolutionary time scale is to the creation time scale. Evolutionary scientists believe these soft tissues are almost 33,000 times older than creation scientists do! Rejecting accountability doesn’t work Evolutionists are willing to believe something extraordinary rather than accept the thought that maybe God created the earth only 6,000 years ago and the Bible record of the flood is true and accurate. Why do they rule out God, even as they struggle to find other explanations? Well, if there is a God in heaven, then we are accountable to Him for what we do and how we live our lives. And they don’t like that. However, it also means that if we give our lives to Christ and ask his forgiveness for our sins, then we can have eternal life with Him in the earth made new! Lenin asserted that there is nothing more abominable than religion, yet his decaying body is unmistakable evidence that soft tissue contained in dinosaur bones cannot be millions of years old. We can imagine that if we had lived under his Red Terror in Russia, he would have said to us, “You Christians will spread your religion over my dead body!” Indeed! Check out the great 5-minute video below with more on dinosaur soft tissue. ...
Apologetics 101, Science - Creation/Evolution
Wrong questions lead to wrong answers
Why don’t brilliant scientists see evidence of God’s design in Nature? Because they deliberately limit the questions they are willing to ask. ***** The conflict between Biblical revelation and some aspects of modern science is a longstanding issue, and Christian young people can’t avoid being impacted by this dilemma. What should they believe? Should they accept that creation took place in six literal days, or should they seek some sort of accommodation of Scripture with the teachings of science? Many have anguished over this choice. The appeal of trying to accommodate to the popular scientific view – the appeal of bundling the Bible with the Big Bang – is clear. After all, don’t objective scientists know what they are talking about? So don’t we need to listen to what they are telling us they see? Christian vs. secular agendas In this context, what everyone must understand is that there are no objective scientists. Everyone has starting assumptions. The Christian naturally confesses that God exists, that He is omnipotent and omniscient and has communicated with us. Nature is God’s handiwork. Thus the Christian confesses that we see testimony to God’s work and character when we look at nature. For example we read in Psalms 19:1-3: The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Another famous passage about the testimony of nature is Job 12:7-9: But ask the beasts, and they will teach you, and the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you, or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you, and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? When we study biology, we see that God is the creator! The secular position contrasts sharply with the Christian view. Mainstream scientists maintain that natural explanations can be found for everything. No supernatural input will ever be evident. For example, an editorial in the journal Nature (March 12, 1981) remarked concerning the definition of science: “…one prejudice is allowable, even necessary – the preconception that theories can be constructed to account for all observable phenomena.” Thus the Christian expects to see God revealed in nature, while the secular person says God will never be revealed in nature. Different expectations prompt different questions How does a square melon get square? Newly sprouted watermelons are placed in plastic boxes, and as the melon grows it fills in the available space until this unique shape results. With different expectations come different questions – there is a big difference between what secular scientists and what some Christians will ask about natural systems. And their different questions will result in very different answers obtained. How does a square melon get square? Newly sprouted watermelons are placed in plastic boxes, and as the melon grows it fills in the available space until this unique shape results. For example, suppose somebody showed you a photograph of three unfamiliar objects, green in color and square in shape. If you were to ask that person “How did Nature form that?” the only possible response would be some sort of natural process. However, if you were instead to ask, “Did Nature form that?” then the person has the opportunity to investigate whether or not these square watermelons (which is what the objects turn out to be) had a simply natural origin. Only then could they discover that no, they did not. Similarly, if a scientist asks, “How did life come about spontaneously?” then the only possible answer is a natural process. If the same scientist were to ask “Could life come about spontaneously?” in this case he has the opportunity to examine what cells are like and what the biochemical processes in cells are like, and thereafter conclude that life could not have come about spontaneously. Thus the answers obtained from the study of nature depend upon what questions are asked. No results There is no issue that more clearly demonstrates the impact of what questions are asked of nature, than the discipline of origin of life studies. Specialist John H. McClendon’s summary of the situation was as follows: “Since we know that life did arise, we are obligated to find mechanisms to accumulate enough organic matter to start life.” Scientists may feel themselves obligated to find such a scenario, but they are having a difficult time finding one nonetheless. The difficulties of proposing and defending a reasonable scenario for the origin of life were further highlighted by Simon Conway Morris in 2003 in a chapter entitled “The Origin of Life: straining the soup of our credulity” from his book entitled Life’s Solution. Of these chemists who are not discouraged by the results of their experiments, he remarks: …chemists have devised reaction pathways that can produce reasonable quantities of ribose , but the sheer complexity of the process and the careful manipulation of the many steps during the reaction make one wonder about its applicability to the origin of life. Dr. Morris is telling us that the kind of chemical reactions that require fancy manipulation by a chemist do not occur spontaneously in nature (apart from in living cells). Scientists were still looking for support for the “RNA world” in 2014 when the following description of a possible process was printed in Nature: After ten rounds of selection and amplification of catalytic molecules; pruning of superfluous sequences; insertion of another randomized segment to create a new pool; and then another six rounds of selection and amplification, a D-ribozyme was isolated that could perform template-directed joining of L-substrates about a million times faster than the uncatalyzed reaction. One would have to be very gullible indeed to believe that any of this could happen spontaneously. Indeed the article referred to the process as “engineering” which presupposed that an intelligent agent (the chemist) carried out the process. An article in Nature five years previously had similarly highlighted the difficulties of the RNA world hypothesis, the most popular explanation today for how life could have originated in spontaneous fashion. Matthew W. Powner et al declared: At some stage in the origin of life, an informational polymer must have arisen by purely chemical means. According to one version of the “RNA world” hypothesis this polymer was RNA, but attempts to provide experimental support for this have failed (italics mine). The determination of the mainstream scientists to keep looking for a spontaneous solution to the origin of life, even when the results are totally contrary, has long been recognized. But they do not see this situation as a problem. Thus David Deamer remarked in a book review on origin of life theories: Harold argues that, notwithstanding the vast literature, progress has gone little beyond the findings of Soviet biochemist Alexander Oparin and British polymath J. B. S. Haldane more than 80 years ago, when they independently argued that Louis Pasteur’s dictum “All life from life” was wrong. Note that the “findings” of Oparin and Haldane that Pasteur was wrong, were not based on any evidence, (they still aren’t), but on a choice to believe that life can come from non-living chemicals. Their bias blinds The secular scientist approaches the study of nature with a specific agenda. Nature is to be interpreted only in terms of matter, energy, and natural processes, even if the results look ridiculous. A prominent geneticist, Richard Lewontin (b. 1929) actually stated this very clearly. In a famous review of a book by Carl Sagan, he wrote: Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science…. because we have an a priori commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. What Dr. Lewontin said, was that scientists bias their studies so that only natural explanations will ever be obtained. Similarly astronomer Robert Jastrow (1925-2008) equated such an approach as almost a religion for scientists: Scientists…. believe that every event that takes place in the world can be explained in a rational way as a consequence of some previous event. If there is a religion in science, this statement can be regarded as its main article of faith… Nothing to do with the truth It is certainly reasonable to ask how legitimate it is to restrict science to only naturalistic hypotheses. The answer you’ll get to that question depends upon whom you ask. Biologist Leonard Brand (b. 1941) replies that such restrictions are not legitimate. Our research only answers the questions we are willing to ask, naturalism allows only certain questions to be asked… Naturalism has a powerful biasing influence in science, in steering scientific thinking, and, in many cases, deciding what conclusions are to be reached. Others point out that secular scientists may restrict what explanations about nature qualify for the term “science” but they cannot at the same time claim, that what they are dealing with is truth. For example, philosophers of science Stephen C. Meyer (b. 1958) and Paul A. Nelson (b. 1958) point out: Restricting science to naturalistic hypotheses is not an innocuous methodological stratagem which nevertheless leaves science free to pursue the truth. God, after all, may not have been away on other business when life originated, or humankind came to be. These men declare that the secular assumption that God did not intervene directly in nature does not make it so. Similarly Calvin College (in Michigan) philosopher of science Del Ratzsch points out that: If nature is not a closed, naturalistic system – that is, if reality does not respect the naturalists’ edict – then science built around that edict cannot be credited a priori with getting at truth, being self-corrective or anything of the sort. What Dr. Ratzsch has pointed out is that wrong questions will always elicit wrong answers. Scientific explanations may change (and indeed they do) but the answers will never be any closer to the truth if the wrong questions are being asked in the first place. It is often said that science is “self-corrective” i.e. that errors are exposed and better explanations developed. However, the term “self-corrective” is meaningless when the studies are biased from the beginning. Conclusion Secular scientists, with their expectations of never seeing God in nature, have confined themselves to mechanistic explanations and interpretations. Such, of course, is the theory of evolution. As Dr. Ratzsch remarks: “… materialists have no viable choice but to view the world through evolutionary spectacles of some sort.” Similarly Dr. Brand tells us: “The evolutionary theory is based on the philosophy of naturalism, and does not consider any hypotheses that involve divine intervention in the history of the universe.” Influenced by their secular colleagues, many Christians choose a theistic evolution type of explanation for origins. For example, Clarence Menninga (b. 1928, science professor emeritus at Calvin College), wrote in The Banner: But it is presumptuous and arrogant for us to restrict God’s options by claiming that he could not have used natural processes to bring about certain complex structures and functions, even if we do not understand in scientific terms how that was done. Thus Dr. Menninga explains the appearance of living creatures in terms of an evolutionary process. He assumes that this is so, contrary to what the Bible says, even though he is unaware of a scientific explanation for the process. It is evident that if such scientists were to ask different questions, based on the expectation of seeing God’s work and character revealed in nature, they might not necessarily come to any evolutionary conclusions at all. In addition, the concept of long ages is a necessary ingredient in any evolutionary scenario. If there were no process of gradual change (evolution), if organisms were created directly, then there is no need for a long period of past time other than the few thousands of years for which we have historical records. This is an extract from Margaret Helder’s book "No Christian Silence on Science" which you can buy at the Creation Science Association of Alberta website...
Science - Creation/Evolution
Squirrel wonders (and the failure of evolution to explain them)
One of the most abundant wild mammals living in moderate latitudes is the common squirrel. Squirrels thrive in almost every habitat, from tropical rainforest to semiarid desert. They avoid only the cold polar regions and the driest deserts. Squirrels are also one of the very few mammals that thrive in cosmopolitan areas. Some wild squirrels have even become pets of a sort, or at least comfortable around people, if the human is patient and not aggressive towards the animal.1 As two of the leading squirrel authorities observed, “one can only marvel at how well adapted squirrels are to exploiting a forested environment” and, one could add, an urban environment as well.2 Their diversity is enormous and the squirrel family includes, not only tree and ground squirrels, but also flying squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, groundhogs and prairie dogs, all which deserve a separate paper. Many of the 273 squirrel species live in North America where they have very few enemies. This paper covers only tree squirrels, which nest and live in trees and have bushy tails to help them balance while running up and down trees. Ground squirrels live on the ground, have shorter, less bushy tails, and their fur is usually brown-gray with gray and white dots. Extremely well-designed Squirrels are very well designed for their terrestrial and arboreal life. Growing up in Michigan, I remember tree squirrels moving on the ground by a “hopping run” travel mode to scurry up a tree. Their sharp claws enable them to run down the tree about as fast as they can run up it. Their trademark is their slender bodies with very long, very bushy tails. The term “squirrel” derives from the bushy tail, which is one of their more-defining traits. Their large eyes give them excellent vision, allowing them to jump from one limb to another limb of the same tree, or even to other trees. They are one of the few mammals, aside from primates, that have color vision.2 Their excellent sense of touch uses the vibrissae (whisker-like hairs) on their strong flexible limbs as well as their heads. This system allows then to navigate telephone wires with ease, even while running on a wire almost as rapidly as they run on the ground. A talented tail Their tail is central to maintain balance on telephone wires high up the ground as well as in trees. Its function is similar to how a tightrope walker uses a pole to balance. They can also use their long tail, which is 40 percent of their body length, to protect their face and body from dogs, raptors, and other predators. The blood vessels in the tail serve as an efficient thermoregulation system, opening blood circulation to the tail to cool the squirrel, and closing it to retain heat. Raising their tail over their body affords them the ability to enjoy the cool shade it provides. It also serves as a warm blanket that greatly helps to keep them warm during cold winter nights. Lastly, their tail is critical in communicating to other squirrels and potential predators.3 Their diet Squirrels are herbivorous, subsisting on seeds and nuts, but some will eat insects and even very small vertebrates.2 They have large incisor teeth designed to crack open their diet of walnut, acorn, hickory and other nuts. Their constant gnawing helps them to keep their teeth razor sharp. Both tree and ground squirrels live in the same area year-round, including the cold winters. A motivation to write this paper is to understand how squirrels survive the ferocious winters where I live. Ground squirrels live on, or in the ground, and not in trees, and hibernate during the winter. Their heart rate and breathing rate slows down greatly and their body temperature falls below zero in preparation for hibernation. In contrast, gray tree squirrels rely on sheltered nests made from twigs and leaves, or dens in trees like woodpeckers, to sleep. In the winter they sleep in their nest or den and rely on fat reserves, and stored food to survive the long, cold winters.3 Also, in preparing for winter, they maximize their food consumption and body mass. They venture out during the morning and evening only if their food supply is low. They prepare for the winter by storing acorns and other nuts, berries, and tree bark in shallow holes near the trees where their nest is located. Squirrels use spatial memory to locate stored food, and often bury their food near landmarks to aid them in remembering where they stored it.4 Evidence for squirrel evolution Evolutionists believe that squirrels evolved about 36 million years ago from some hypothetical “more primitive rodent.”5 Previously, the earliest squirrel fossil evidence was found in western North America Darwin-dated to about 36 million years ago. A nearly complete skeleton was discovered in 1975 which “is surprisingly like that of a modern tree squirrel.”5 The skeleton of the find, determined to be a D. jeffersoni breed squirrel, was “…discovered in early Oligocene deposits of Wyoming, represents what may be the oldest fossil squirrel known… Except for minor differences in joint construction, the skeleton is strikingly similar to that of Sciurusniger, the living fox squirrel. It differs from extant ground squirrels in the more gracile proportions of its long bones and asymmetry of foot construction. This early member of the squirrel family was clearly an arboreal squirrel, with morphology, and presumably habits, very similar to those of extant Sciurinae.”6 The bones that were examined were judged to be “identical” to modern squirrels.6 The newest discovery after 1975 was a squirrel-like creature from China Darwin-dated over 200 million years old. The fossils were discovered by private collectors and amateur paleontologists in the fertile fossil province of Liaoning.7 The phylogeny of the fossils found “remains unsolved and has generated contentious views on the origin and earliest evolution of mammals.”8 As two of the leading experts of squirrels observed: “biologists consider tree squirrels to be living fossils because they remain virtually indistinguishable from European and North American specimens that lived more than 5 million years ago.”2 Squirrels are only one of hundreds of examples of living fossils.9 Many examples of variations within the genesis kind exist, such as documented by Michael Steele and John Koprowski,2 but I have been unable to locate any evidence for the evolution of squirrels from a non-squirrel. In short, the origins concern is not of variations within the genesis kind, but the evolution of the first squirrel from a non-squirrel. From what is known, the first squirrel was very close to identical to modern squirrels. And if a local squirrel is making off with seed from your bird feeder, just reflect that they are all wonderful creations! This is reprinted with permission from Creation Dialogue Volum 48, #2 and is by Jerry Bergman, the author of "Wonderful & Bizarre Life Forms in Creation." For more on the wonder of squirrels, check out Mark Rober's 20-minute video below. Though this is a secular presentation, it highlights God's genius in crafting these incredibly clever creatures. Parents, cautions for the video include a couple uses of "fricken" and a reference to a squirrel stuffie dressed up in a bikini as a "homewrecker." Endnotes 1 Rose, Nancy. 2014. The Secret Life of Squirrels. New York, NY: Little Brown. 2 Steele, Michael A., and John L. Koprowski. 2001. North American Tree Squirrels. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. 3 Cheevers, Carrie. 2020. How do squirrels prepare for winter? Spectrum News, November 11. https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/weather/2020/11/11/how-do-squirrels-prepare-for-winter- 4 Jacobs, Lucia, and Emily Liman, 1991. Grey squirrels remember the locations of buried nuts. Animal Behaviour. 41 (1): 103-110, January. 5 Thorington, Richard W., and Katie E. Ferrell. 2006. Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. 6 Emry, Robert, and Richard W. Thorington, Jr. 1982. Descriptive and comparative osteology of the oldest fossil squirrel. Protosciurus (Rodentia: Sciuridae). Washington, D.C. SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION PRESS, Number 47. 7 Choi, Charles Q. 2014. Ancient squirrel-like creatures push back mammal evolution. Live Science. https://www.livescience.com/47774-ancient-squirrels-push-back-mammal-evolution.html 8 Shundong, Bi, et al., 2014. Three new Jurassic euharamiyidan species reinforce early divergence of mammals. Nature. 514 (7524): 579-584, September 10; doi: 10.1038/nature13718. Epub. 9 Eldredge, Niles, and S.M. Stanley. 2012. Living Fossils. New York NY: Springer-Verlag. Other references Pope, Joyce. 1992. Living Fossils (Curious Creatures): Animals Unchanged by Time. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn Library. Emry, Robert, and Richard W. Thorington, Jr. 1984. The Tree Squirrel Sciurerus carolinensis as a living Fossil. In: Eldridge, Niles, and S.M. Stanley. Living Fossils. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag....
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
In the Beginning: Listening to Genesis 1 and 2
by Cornelis Van Dam 2021 / 371 pages Dr. C. Van Dam begins his latest book by explicitly laying out his presuppositions. He’s upfront about his non-negotiable assumptions and biases. As I review his book, it’s appropriate that I share mine too. I share his presuppositions about Scripture as the trustworthy Word of God, but I also bring a personal bias to the table. Back in the day, Van Dam was my Old Testament professor at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary. I had an affectionate nickname for him in view of his ability to put the smack-down on unbelieving or shoddy scholarship: “Wham-Bam-Van-Dam.” This was always said with the greatest admiration for Dr. Van Dam. As a seminary professor, he was nothing if not thorough and careful. Far more than a commentary This new book exhibits that same kind of comprehensive and precise approach to the two opening chapters of Scripture. Van Dam leaves no stone unturned. In the Beginning is an exhaustive treatment not only of the meaning of these two chapters, but also the various challenges that have been raised in Old Testament scholarship regarding them. What you’re looking at here is not just a commentary on Genesis 1-2, but far more. Over the last decade or so John Walton has become well-known for his views on the early chapters of Genesis. Walton argues that we often misunderstand Genesis 1-2 because we don’t take into account the ancient Near Eastern context of these chapters. Once we do that, says Walton, then we can see that Genesis 1-2 was never meant to be taken literally as history. The history can then be filled in with what science teaches us, including what science says about human origins. In chapter 2 of In the Beginning, Van Dam discusses Walton’s views at length and explains how and where they fail to do justice to the character of Scripture as the Word of God. In my view this is the most important chapter of the book. A sampling To whet your appetite further, let me share a selection of questions that Dr. Van Dam answers elsewhere in the book: Can new scientific data be regarded as general revelation given by God? What is the relationship of Scripture to science? Is Scripture a scientific textbook? Can geology give us a history of creation? Was Herman Dooyeweerd faithful to Scripture in his view of origins? How are we to evaluate Meredith Kline’s Framework Hypothesis? Did the ancient Israelites believe that heaven was a solid vault above us? Why is there no mention of evening and morning with the seventh day in Genesis 1? What does Scripture mean when it says that God created through his Son? Can the breath of life in Genesis 2:7 be equated with the Holy Spirit? Was there animal death before the fall into sin? Why did God create everything with an appearance of age? Was he being deceptive in so doing? Those are just a few of the questions answered. There are far more. What I appreciate about Van Dam’s answers is that he bases them on what Scripture says. He doesn’t want to go beyond Scripture and so he’ll sometimes say, “Scripture doesn’t say more than this – this is as far as we can go.” A point of disagreement If I would venture some respectful disagreement, it would be in the final chapter where the author briefly discusses whether there’s a need for new confessional formulations to address the challenges of evolution. In 2014-15, I was involved with an effort to add some clarification to article 14 of the Belgic Confession in the Canadian Reformed Church. That effort was ultimately unsuccessful. I don’t regret having made the effort, nor do I think it unnecessary to this day. Van Dam argues that Scripture is clear and our “confessions faithfully reflect that testimony.” However, that fails to account for those who have argued that the Three Forms of Unity provide the latitude needed to hold to forms of theistic macro-evolution. Their arguments have persuaded some. This wiggle-room ought to be addressed, especially if there is openness to theistic macro-evolution in your churches. Van Dam also posits that: “A difficulty with preparing a new formulation asserting the historicity of Genesis 1 and 2 is the temptation to go beyond what Scripture says, in other words, to provide specifics about that which Scripture gives no additional detail.” The proposal to add clarification to BC 14 was to state what Scripture states: that Adam was created from dust (Gen. 2:7) and Eve from Adam’s side (Gen. 2:21-22). As a consequence: “They were created as the first two humans and the biological ancestors of all other humans. There were no pre-Adamites, whether human or hominid.” If one thinks that this infringes upon the freedom of exegesis, then one is willing to grant the latitude for theistic evolutionary accounts of human (and other) origins. Conclusion That criticism notwithstanding, In the Beginning was a delight to read – personally it brought me back to many of the OT lectures I enjoyed from Dr. Van Dam in my seminary years. While enjoyable, it could be tough-going at times for some. It’s not highly technical, but in places Van Dam does go academic. It’s not a book you’d necessarily be giving out as gifts to those doing profession of faith. It would, however, be a great gift for someone doing post-secondary studies, whether in the sciences or in the humanities. And it’s definitely a recommended read for those who’ve completed such studies. Take a look at the Table of Contents and Introduction here. Dr. Bredenhof first posted this review to CreationWithoutCompromise.com, a blog “promoting the biblical understanding of origins” and it is reprinted here with his permission....
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Replacing Darwin Made Simple
by Nathaniel T. Jeanson 85 pages / 2019 How's this for an intriguing thesis for a creationist book: Darwin got it right. So what exactly is the...
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Foresight: How the chemistry of life reveals planning and purpose
Documentary, Movie Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Dismantled: a scientific deconstruction of the theory of evolution
Book excerpts, Book Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Archer fish: a wonder of creation
This article is the first chapter from Dr. Jerry Bergman’s new book "Wonderful and Bizarre Life Forms in Creation" which you can order at Create.ab.ca. ***** The archer fish (Toxotes jaculatrix, from ejaculator fish) – named for its expert archery skills – is one of the most amazing fish known to humans.1 When first researched by scientists in the 1920s, researchers “could hardly believe their eyes” at its shooting ability.2 The existence of the fish was actually first reported by explorers as early as 1764, but for years scholars could not accept the reports of this amazing fish.3 This seven-inch long fish is well-known for accurately knocking insect prey out of overhanging vegetation with a jet of water six times more powerful than its muscles. To achieve this feat, the archer positions itself in the water with its snout just breaking the water’s surface, and its eyes just below the surface. Then it aims its jet spray using superbly designed binocular vision to accurately determine its prey’s location. If one eye is damaged, their aiming skill is lost. Archer fish modulate their water jet’s velocity to create a single large water droplet that strikes their prey with enormous force. This design avoids the requirement for specially designed internal structures to store large amounts of energy. HOW ITS WATER GUN WORKS The water shot is produced by the fish compressing its hard-bony tongue against the roof of its mouth, forcing water out the gun-barrel-like groove in the archer fish’s mouth roof by rapidly snapping its gill covers shut.4 It accurately strikes its target usually on the first attempt at distances of up to 2 to 3 feet! To position itself to hit its target, the fish can swim up, down, and even backwards to enable its vision to line up with its prey. So complex is its design, that the mechanism the archer fish uses to produce its water jet has been researched for decades. Only in 2011 were scientists finally able to understand how it works.5 Alberto Vailati and his University of Milan colleagues provided the first scientific explanation for how archer fish are able to generate such powerful jets to capture their prey. To study the mechanics of the water jet, the authors used high-speed video recordings of archer fish knocking insects out of plants. Scientists now know that a large amplification of the fishes’ muscular power occurs outside of the fish to cause a powerful impact of the water jet against the prey. The archer fish generates this power externally using water dynamics rather than specialized internal organs. Some animals, such as chameleons and salamanders, store energy in their body’s collagen fibers and abruptly release their stored energy to project their tongues outward at high speeds. Previous research on archer fish has ruled out the use of these specialized organs as the source behind their powerful water jets. Excellent vision in its typical muddy water environment is also critical to hit its target. To achieve this vision, the archer’s eye retina is far more complex than that of most fish. The cones for daytime vision number only 8 or 9, but the archers’ rods for vision in muddy water, where they normally live, number a whopping 217. The archer fish can extinguish cigarettes with their water jet in total darkness! The archer fish must also solve the refraction problem, the bending of light rays that occurs as the light rays enter the water, causing objects to appear where they are not. It achieves this feat with remarkable accuracy.6 PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT As the young fish develop, they begin practicing on targets above the water in their natural habitat.7 The tiny fish first succeed in squirting their jet only a few inches high. As they mature, they learn to shoot a stream of water as far as fifteen feet! Adult archer fish normally shoot down their insect prey at a range of less than a meter. To strike its moving target, the fish must compensate for the insect’s speed and the changing angle between the fish and its target to determine the refracted level (how much the light is bent at the air-water boundary). They also must compensate for the effect of gravity on both the fish and the water stream.8 These variables require computing a set of calculations that must be done by human mathematicians using calculus. Research has also determined that archer fish learn to make these calculations by observing other skilled fish practice their art. All of this is achieved by a “primitive cerebrum” which researchers have discovered is not primitive at all!9 EVOLUTION FAILS TO EXPLAIN ARCHER FISH ORIGINS Evolution cannot explain archer fish because evolution postulates that it gradually evolved its remarkable ability, and must have done so because it significantly helped their survival. No other fish has this ability. Nor are any intermediates between the archer fish and all other fish known. Fish either possess the complete set of biological systems to shoot insects out of the air, or lack the entire set. Another major problem with an evolutionary explanation is that archer fish most often feed on insects it finds on, or just below, the water surface. It can even jump above the surface to take insects on the wing. It can also feed on insects that sink a few inches into the water.10 For this reason, it does not need to shoot insects out of the air to survive, and can survive quite well without ever doing so. In fact, most of its food is usually obtained without ever using its water gun. It appears its archery ability is exercised mostly for sport or variety! Archer fish expert, Professor Lüling, recognized this problem, writing: Toxotes depends largely on food it finds on or below the surface. It prefers insects that have fallen to the surface, but it will also take food that has sunk a few inches into the water. This raises an interesting question for evolutionary theory: Spouting, if it is so unimportant, can hardly have been a significant factor in the survival of the species or in selection and differentiation within the species.11 Consequently, natural section cannot account for their amazing ability. Nor can evolution account for the unique ability of this marvelous little fish! Although normally existing in the waters of Australia and Southeast Asia, because of their unusual skill they are popular attractions in aquariums throughout the world. This is Chapter 1 from Dr. Jerry Bergman’s “Wonderful and Bizarre Life Forms in Creation” Each of the 23 chapters examines a different animal or creature, so if you liked this, you can order the book at Create.ab.ca. REFERENCES 1 Smith, H. M. 1936. The archer fish. Natural History. 38(1): 2-11. 2 Pinney, R. 1977. The amazing archer fish. Scholastic Science World. 34(4): 3. 3 Lüling, K. H. 1963. The archer fish. Scientific American. 209(1): 100. 4 Pinney, R. 1977. The amazing archer fish. Scholastic Science World. 34(4): 2-3. 5 Vailati, A., L. Zinnato, R. Cerbino. 2012. How archer fish achieve a powerful impact: hydrodynamic instability of a pulsed jet in Toxotes jaculatrix. PLOS ONE. 7(10): e47867. 6 Myers, G. S. 1952. How the shooting apparatus of the archer fish was discovered. The Aquarium Journal. 23(10): 210-214. 7 Brodie, C. 2006. Watch and Learn: Bench warming pays off for the archer fish. American Scientist. 94(3): 218. 8 Brodie, ref. 7, p. 218. 9 Brodie, ref. 7, p. 218. 10 Schuster, S. et al. 2006. Animal cognition: how archer fish learn to down rapidly moving targets. Current Biology. 16: 378-383. 11 Lüling, ref. 3, p. 100....
Book excerpts, Book Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Giraffe: nature’s gentle giants
This is Chapter 7 from Dr. Jerry Bergman’s new book Wonderful and Bizarre Life Forms in Creation which you can order at Creation Science Association of Alberta. ***** Giraffes, the tallest living terrestrial animals on earth, are often called nature’s gentle giants due to their nonaggressive persona. Their most well-known trait is their long neck, longer than that of any living animal. Their 6-foot (1.8-meter) neck weighs about 600 pounds, more than the entire body of most animals. Their total height often reaches 20 feet and their weight 4,250 pounds. They are enormous animals. Their legs alone are taller than many humans, about 6 feet. They can run as fast as 35 miles per hour (mph) over short distances, or trot at 10 mph for longer distances. Giraffes are favorite animals in many cultures, both ancient and modern, and are often featured in books, paintings, and even cartoons. This is not only due to its long neck but also to its very distinctive coat patterns. It looks like the paint called “crackled” that shrinks as it dries, leaving distinct patterns of cracks spread throughout the animal’s body. For most young people, the giraffe is one of the most intriguing and exotic of all animals. It is so unusual, and in such contrast to other animals, that many people typically are more interested in it than many other fascinating creatures. In fact, the word “giraffe” is derived from the Arabic zerafa, a poetic variant of zarafa, meaning “lovely one” or “charming.”1 As one author noted, viewing a giraffe is one of humankind’s greatest visual experiences.2 The giraffe’s intelligent design The giraffe’s entire body – both its anatomy and physiology – is tightly intertwined as a single functional unit.3 The giraffe is an excellent example of intelligent design that demonstrates special creation. Its neck alone is a wonder of enormously complex design that requires all necessary parts to be in their proper places before its neck structure is functional. As Charles Darwin said, it is a beautiful animal with “an admirably coordinated structure” of many parts in its neck. Of interest, in The Origin of Species Darwin did not mention the giraffe’s neck as an example of evolution until the sixth edition, and then only in response to a critical review of his book by creationist St. George Mivart.4 In this work, it is clear that Darwin never regarded the giraffe’s long neck as central evidence of natural selection like biology textbooks that discuss evolution often imply today. Another major problem with the standard textbook story is that Darwin accepted Lamarckianism later in his life. Lamarckian theory of acquired characteristics explained giraffe neck evolution by arguing that constant stretching slowly elongated their necks, and they then passed on their beneficial longer neck trait to their offspring.5 Darwin resorted to the idea that evolution occurs by use and disuse of body parts because he was unable to come up with a plausible theory that explained the origin of genetic variety that Natural Selection could select.6 Darwin knew that without a viable source of genetic variety, no evolution can occur and his theory was dead. To produce a 6-foot-long neck from a short-necked animal (like evolution requires) necessitates hundreds or thousands of simultaneous, or nearly simultaneous, mutations – a set of events that has a probability of zero. It cannot just become longer, but requires a very different design than the less-than-one-foot neck that is common in most mammals. The late Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould said, “the long neck must be associated with modifications in nearly every part of the body – long legs to accentuate the effect, and a variety of supporting structures (bones, muscles, and ligaments) to hold up the neck.”7 The giraffe’s head and neck are held up by large powerful muscles strengthened by nuchal ligaments anchored by long dorsal spines on the anterior thoracic vertebrae. The giraffe’s neck vertebrae use an atlas-axis joint that allows the animal to tilt its head vertically and reach more branches with its tongue to obtain food. Giraffes require not only long necks to reach tall trees, but also long legs and even long faces and tongues (their tongues are over a foot long) to reach the high growing acacia leaves they favor. One major problem for Darwinists is how natural selection simultaneously altered necks, legs, tongues, prehensile lips, knee joints, muscles, and complex nervous system and blood-flow control systems to control the pressure necessary to pump blood from the heart up to the giraffe’s distant brain. The common explanation of the giraffe’s long neck is that it was not produced by gradual evolution but instead mistakes called mutations produced it.8 To eat grass or drink water, because they are the tallest animals in the world, giraffes must move their heads to a point seven feet below their heart and, when upright, to a point about eleven feet above it. When the giraffe puts its neck down to drink, one would expect blood to rush into its head. Then when he raised his head after drinking, the blood flowing away from its head should cause it to faint. But a system of ingeniously designed reservoirs and valves inside its arteries prevents this from occurring. Its strong heart beats 150 times per minute. A spongy tissue mass below the brain helps to regulate blood flowing to the brain to ensure that rapid pressure changes are blunted.9 When water is available, giraffes drink regularly from ponds and streams. But during a drought, they can survive very well without water for several weeks at a time because they can satisfactorily obtain their needs from plants.10 Giraffes are an Icon of Evolution One of the more common icons almost universally presented as proof of evolution is giraffe evolution. It is used in high school and college biology, anthropology, and evolution texts. Science “has made giraffes the very symbol of evolutionary progress.”11 So important was this icon that Francis Hitching titled his critique of Darwinism “The Neck of the Giraffe” (1983). A survey of all major high school biology textbooks found “every single one – no exceptions – begins its chapter on evolution by first discussing Lamarck’s theory of the inheritance of acquired characters,” then presenting Darwin’s theory of natural selection as the correct alternative to Lamarck’s theory.12 As a result, the “classic textbook illustration of our preferences for Darwinian evolution... an entrenched and ubiquitous example based on an assumed weight of historical tradition that simply does not exist.”13 Thus, this example teaches evolution by use of “a false theory,” and thus is a false icon.14 A typical explanation for the evolution of the giraffe’s long neck is that some giraffes, purely by chance, were born with fortuitously slightly longer necks, and that this conferred upon them a selective advantage enabling them to reach higher branches in times of famine and drought, which greatly improved their chances of surviving and leaving offspring similarly endowed with longer necks. Such a process repeated over many generations would inevitably lead to the long neck of the modern giraffe.15 The giraffe’s neck is used to illustrate how natural selection gives more variety within a population. In any group of giraffes, there always exists variation in neck length, as is true of any trait. Consequently, the theory postulates when their food supply is adequate, the animals do quite well, but when food is inadequate, giraffes with longer necks have an advantage. They can feed off the higher branches. If this feeding advantage permits longer-necked giraffes to survive and reproduce even slightly more effectively than shorter-necked ones, the trait will be favored by natural selection. The giraffes with longer necks will be more likely to transmit their genetic material to future generations than will giraffes with shorter necks.16 The problem with this theory is that it is not just a matter of stretching the neck. Rather, giraffes require an entirely new design. WHAT IS LAMARCKIANISM? Larmarckism or Larmarckianism is a theory of evolution named after Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. He believed that characteristics that an animal organism acquired during its lifetime could be passed on to its offspring. It’s the idea that if a man started working out and getting huge muscles, his offspring would have bigger than normal muscles too, even without working out. It is also the idea that if a giraffe managed to stretch out its neck by reaching for those leaves on those tallest branches, its offspring would be born with longer necks. Long neck essential for its lifestyle The giraffes’ long necks are critical in allowing these long-legged animals to rise from a lying position. They use their neck to shift their weight, allowing them to stand on their long legs. It is also critical in climbing and running, which involve snake-like, slithery movements that propels their entire body forward. The long, thin giraffe neck provides a great deal of surface area, which is also important for effective body cooling. For this reason giraffes – in contrast to many other large mammals that live in warm temperate areas – can remain in the hot sun for long periods of time. Darwinists give reasons why giraffes evolved their long necks which include for mating, for defense, for thermoregulation, to facilitate their fast-forward travel (up to 30 mph), or for one of many other reasons, but it is a poor icon for their theory. They propose that the giraffes’ long necks evolved for all of these reasons – or none of them. As Gould concludes, “The giraffe’s neck cannot provide a proof for any adaptive scenario, Darwinian or otherwise.”17 The giraffe’s neck is far more useful as an example of the many problems with Darwinism. Common claims of giraffe neck evolution fail The typical textbook story is that giraffes evolved long necks to reach the leaves located “at the tops of acacia trees, thereby winning access to a steady source of food available to no other mammal.”18 Some question why the trees did not evolve to become taller to prevent the giraffes from consuming their leaves. Although now an icon for Lamarck’s mechanism of evolution, Lamarck presented no evidence for this interpretation but rather only “a few lines of speculation.”19 His reference to giraffes in his classic work consists of only one paragraph based on zero data.20 Lamarck also wrongly claimed that the animal’s forelegs evolved to become longer than its hind legs, indicating that Lamarck was not familiar with the literature on this animal.21 Why giraffes are used to support Darwinism A major reason that the giraffe example is used to support evolution is because it is an easy illustration of Darwinism by artwork or photographs.22 Virtually all textbooks picture giraffes eating from acacia trees, incorrectly implying that its leaves are the main staple of their diet. So “appealing is this hypothesis that students of giraffe behavior and evolutionary biologists alike accept it.”23 Although the tall acacia tree leaves may be a preferred food source, giraffes will graze on many other tree and bush types. Plentiful foliage exists at the lower-levels of the tree, and giraffes also commonly consume grass and low bushes and many kinds of ground-growing plants.24 Female giraffes are, on average, about a meter shorter in height than males – and they survive quite well. If leaves at higher levels are a large unexploited niche, then why have not many other animals, such as antelopes, also evolved the same long neck as giraffes have?25 One could argue that giraffes with shorter necks could thrive better because most of the foliage in the part of Africa where they live is near the ground, and it would be a decided survival advantage to be closer to the more plentiful ground vegetation compared to the comparatively rarer acacia tree leaves.26 All young giraffes feed on grass and bushes until their neck has grown long enough to reach the trees, usually at 3 to 4 years of age. The females spend over half their time feeding with their necks horizontal, indicating that their neck’s length may actually be a handicap. The giraffe diet is extremely varied. Generally, they are browsers, feeding by plucking leaves with their 17-inch tongue. Or they will grab a tree branch, put it into their mouth, and pull off leaves by twisting their heads. The over 100 plant species in the giraffe’s diet include flowers, vines, herbs, along with an occasional weaver-bird nest. If there are chicks in the nest, the giraffe eats them too, gaining some extra minerals from their bones. Giraffes also get minerals by gnawing on the bones of animals killed and left by hyenas and other predators.27 Other problems with the Darwinist textbook story One common theory is that the long neck evolved to aid in mating. The chief adaptive reason for evolving long necks could be sexual success “with a much-vaunted browsing of leaves as a distinctly secondary consequence.”28 The longer neck enables males to perform their ritual dominant battles called “necking.”29 The intrasexual competition theory assumes that “necking” behavior evolved first, then the neck length evolved due to sexual selection. Other evolutionists suggest that giraffes’ long necks evolved to function as look-out towers to spot potential predators. This, coupled with giraffe’s excellent vision, enables them to spot a lion as much as a mile away. The problem with this theory is giraffe’s have virtually no enemies – lions are the only wild animal that usually attacks them, but only when desperate.30 A lion is little match for a 2,000 to 4,000-pound giraffe. A giraffe hoof can kill a lion with a single blow. The giraffes’ best defense is not their necks, but it is their long legs and heavy hooves that are deadly to enemies. They defend themselves primarily by kicking. This theory may explain their long legs, but not why they evolved long necks. The legs could have evolved first to allow them to run from carnivores, then the neck grew so that the giraffe could stretch down to eat grass and drink water. The problem with this scenario is long legs do not always give the giraffe an advantage to outrun predators. Many of the fastest animals have legs far shorter than a modern giraffe’s. Fossil evidence for giraffe evolution lacking Much controversy exists about giraffe evolution, partly because no empirical evidence of giraffe evolution exists. Without any evidentiary constraints, scientists are free to speculate. As a result, they have tried to link giraffes to a variety of often very dissimilar animals.31 About a dozen giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) types are recognized. They are plentiful in the fossil record, and their bones have not changed much, if at all, in shape or size since giraffes first appeared in the record. The extant fossil record evidence leads to the conclusion that giraffes have been unchanged, by evolutionary reckoning, for about two million years.32 Furthermore, the fossil evidence that does exist “provides no insight into how the long-necked modern species arose.”33 Except that they are greatly elongated, the seven giraffe cervical vertebrae and leg bones are about the same number and are very similar to those of virtually all mammals.34 If giraffe neck and leg elongation occurred in evolution, then this should be obvious in the fossil bones. Yet no fossils supporting their neck evolution have ever been discovered. Savage and Long conclude that the origin of all three of the mainpecorans (giraffes, deer, and cattle) lineages “remains obscure” due to the total absence of relevant fossil evidence.35 Although some estimate that there exist approximately 50 extinct giraffe species, all are known from fossils extending back to the Miocene, estimated by evolutionists to be 17 million years ago. In spite of considerable effort, none of these show evidence for giraffe evolution. After unearthing millions of fossil bones, paleontologists have not located evidence for giraffe neck elongation, or any transitional stages. As Danowitz documents “the giraffe neck has been adequately researched” which has confirmed that “osteological demonstration of the fossils and evolutionary transformation of the neck is lacking.”36 Summary In conclusion, we agree with Gould that the standard giraffe evolution story “in fact, is both fatuous and unsupported,” and the existence “of maximal mammalian height for browsing acacia leaves does not prove that the neck evolved for such a function.”37 Gould’s major concern about this case is, “If we choose a weak and foolish speculation as a primary textbook illustration (falsely assuming that the tale possesses a weight of history and a sanction in evidence), then we are in for trouble – as critics properly nail the particular weakness, and then assume that the whole theory must be in danger if supporters choose such a fatuous case as a primary illustration.”38 We critics have nailed, not only this major weakness in Darwinism, but also its many other weaknesses and outright incorrect conclusions. This is Chapter 7 from Dr. Jerry Bergman’s “Wonderful and Bizarre Life Forms in Creation” Each of the 23 chapters examines a different animal or creature, so if you liked this, you can order the book at the Creation Science Association of Alberta. References 1 Allin, M. 1998. Zarafa: A Giraffe’s True Story, From Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris. New York: Walker and Company, p. 5. 2 Burton, M. and R. Burton. 1969. Giraffe. The International Wildlife Encyclopedia, Volume 7. NY: Marshall Cavendish, p. 885. 3 Davis, P. and D. Kenyon. 1993. Of Pandas and People; The Central Question of Biological Origins. Dallas, TX: Haughton; Brantley, G. 1994. A Living Skyscraper. Discovery. 5: 26. April. 4 Spinage, C.A. 1968. The Book of the Giraffe. London: Collins. 5 See J. B. Lamarck’s English translation. 1914. Zoological Philosophy. Translated by Hugh Elliot. London, England: Macmillan, p. 122. 6 Gould, S. J. 1998. Leonardo’s Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History. NY: Harmony Books, p. 312. 7 Gould, ref. 6, p. 309. 8 Sherr, L. 1997. Tall Blondes, A Book About Giraffes. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, p. 40. 9 Hofland, L. 1996. Giraffes; animals that stand out in a crowd. Creation. 8 (4): 11-13.; Davis, P. and D. Kenyon, 1993. Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins. Dallas, TX: Haughton Pub. Co. 10 Peterson, D. 2013. Giraffe Reflections. Berkeley, CA: University of California; Dagg, A. 2014. Giraffe: Biology, Behaviour and Conservation. NY: Cambridge University Press. 11 Sherr, ref. 8, p. 40. 12 Gould, ref. 6, p. 302. 13 Gould, ref. 6, p. 302. 14 Gould, S. J. 1991. Bully for Brontosaurus. NY: Norton, p. 166. 15 Denton, M. 1986. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Bethesda, MD. Adler and Adler, pp. 42-43. Emphasis added. 16 Kottak, C. P. 2000. Anthropology: Exploration of Human Diversity. NY: McGraw-Hill, p. 166. 17 Gould, ref. 6, p. 317. Emphasis added. 18 Gould, ref. 6, p. 303. 19 Gould, ref. 14, p. 166. 20 Sherr, ref. 8, p. 41. 21 Gould, ref. 6, p. 306. 22 Hoagland, M., B. Dodson, J. Hauck. 2001. Exploring the Way Life Works: The Science of Biology. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett. 23 Simmons, R. E. and L. Scheepers. 1996. Winning by a neck: sexual selection in the evolution of giraffe. The American Naturalist. 148(5):771-786. p. 771. 24 Burton and Burton, ref. 2. 25 Gould, ref. 6. 26 Spinage, ref. 4. 27 Allen, T. 1997. Animals of Africa. Washington DC: Levin, p. 86. 28 Gould, ref. 6, pp. 317-318. 29 Sherr, ref. 8, p. 42. 30 Simmons and Scheepers, ref. 23. 31 Dagg, A. I. and J. Bristol Foster. 1976. The Giraffe: Its Biology, Behavior and Ecology. NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold. 32 Sherr, ref. 8, p. 42. 33 Gould, ref. 6, p. 315. 34 Gould, ref. 6, p. 309. 35 Savage, R. G. and M. R. Long. 1986. Mammal evolution. NY: Natural History Museum, p. 228. 36 Danowitz, M. et al. 2015. Fossil evidence and stages of elongation of the Giraffa camelopardalis neck. Royal Society Open Science 2: 150393. See also Danowitz, M., R. Domalski, N. Solounias. 2015. The cervical anatomy of Samotherium, an intermediate-necked giraffid. Royal Society Open Science. 2: 150521. 37 Gould, ref. 6, p. 318. 38 Gould, ref. 6, p. 314....
Movie Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution, Watch for free
Free film: Genesis Impact
Docudrama 68 minutes / 2020 RATING: 7/10 This is a very good...something. The topic matter is plain enough – human origins – but what's less clear is whether this is a documentary or drama. The beginning is standard documentary: apologist Ray Comfort, just off camera, interviewing college students about their views on evolution. But when the camera pulls back we discover these interviews are actually a smartphone's 3-D holographic projections being viewed by a teen boy sitting on the edge of his couch (presumably a decade or two into the future seeing as there's no app for that quite yet). When mom wanders by to put away groceries, he shares his doubts about whether God really did create in just six days. "What if they're right, and we're wrong?" he asks. "I mean, the scientific evidence for evolution is pretty overwhelming. What if God...used evolution?" To answer his questions, mom takes us through another scene change, shifting back 20 years to modern day when she was still in school, listening to an origins lecture at a Natural History museum. When the speaker concludes and most of the other students leave the auditorium, the young mom-to-be stays behind to question, and eventually debate, the scientist/lecturer. That's where we stay, along with a few student stragglers, listening to a well-reasoned critique of the lecturer's evolutionary presentation. While Genesis Impact hardly has a plot, it still has plenty of drama as evolution and creationist go head-to-head over the next hour. Genesis Impact shouldn't be evaluated as a drama though. The acting is fine – solid enough not to get in the way, and better than many a Christian drama – but the young lady is far too knowledgeable, and the evolutionist lecturer far too reasonable (readily conceding her every good point) to be realistic. Fortunately, the filmmakers' goal isn't realism. They wanted to present a challenging, highly educational lecture on a pivotal topic, and they wanted to deliver it in a really unique and entertaining manner. Mission accomplished! Caution While the topic matter is the sort you might want to share with an atheist friend, that this is a staged debate – an acted out debate – provides the "out" any skeptic would take to dismiss it entirely, arguing that a real evolutionist would have had better responses, or wouldn't have conceded so many points. So one caution would be that this isn't one to win over an unsympathetic or hostile audience. Conclusion What makes it valuable is that the creationist critique is a really good one. Evolutionary proofs aren't so overwhelming as it seems, with guesses built on assumptions, stacked atop beliefs. Secular science presents their conclusions as being unassailable, though sometimes the hype is as much the fault of the media as the scientists. Even when researchers couch their guesswork with phrases like "could be" and "might" and "probably" the media is likely to trumpet "Evidence of life has been found on Mars!" in 36-point front-page headlines. Still, the same sort of unwarranted certainty can be found in Natural History displays, and in university classrooms, so evolutionary arrogance isn't simply a mainstream media invention. Who should see Genesis Impact? It's best suited for Bible-believing Christians who are interested in, or troubled by, evolutionary accounts. It'll be an encouragement and could serve as a leap-off point for further study. The depth of the material discussed also means this is best suited for college-age and up. You can watch it for free below, and visit the film's website to dig deeper: GenesisApologetics.com/Impact. ...
Movie Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution, Watch for free
Secrets of the Cell with Michael Behe
When Darwin first published On the Origin of the Species, the science of his time saw the cell as an uncomplicated organism. That’s quite the contrast with what we’ve learned in the 150 years since: the deeper we delve into life on the smallest scale, the more we find there is yet to discover. Even the simplest cells are more intricate than the most complex automated factories. In the five short videos that follow, Dr. Michael Behe shares "secrets of the cell" to show us how evolution's random mutation and time simply can't account for the magnificent design we find even on the cellular level. And in each episode, he uses helpful analogies and computer animations to introduce key Intelligent Design concepts. Behe is one of the principal figures behind the Intelligent Design (ID) Movement, which argues that Nature gives evidence of being intelligently designed. Creationists would agree, but the two groups part ways on who gets the credit. ID proponents refuse to name their Intelligent Designer, leaving room in their tent for Muslims, Moonies, Christians, and even agnostics (some of whom might believe in thousands of years, and others who hold to millions of years). Meanwhile, creationists give glory specifically to God for how fearfully and wonderfully we have been made. Thus these ID videos, on their own, don't bring us to the Truth. However, they do a fantastic job of exposing the evolutionary lie. SEASON 1 Episode 1: Someone Must Have the Answer! (4 minutes) In the opening episode, Dr. Michael Behe introduces us to "the unseen world of organic micro-machines" contained inside the "most fundamental unit of life," the cell. He also shares how he first came to question the explanatory power of Darwin's Theory: "My own view of the cell took a turn years ago. I was in a lab at the National Institutes of Health doing postdoctoral research; I was discussing the origin of life with a fellow postdoc. As she and I thought about the cell, we wondered, how could its complex membrane, proteins, metabolism, genetic code, how could all that have formed by the accumulation of undirected changes? So we were both sort of stunned by the notion. But then we just laughed it off. We figured that even if we didn't know the answer, somebody must know..." But that isn't what he found. Episode 2: The Complexity of Life (5 minutes) One of the key evidences of Intelligent Design is how some biological "machines" could not have evolved via any sort of step-by-step process – they need all the steps already in place to function. This is what Behe calls "irreducible complexity" and he gives as one example, the flagellum – a type of "outboard motor" that some single-cell bacterium use to move about. " has a number of parts a driveshaft, a universal joint, a rotor, bushings, stator, even a clutch and braking system. The motor of the flagellum has been clocked at a hundred thousand revolutions per minute and...removing even one component of this elegant machine destroys its function..." So how could such an irreducibly complex machine have been "developed blindly, in stages"? Episode 3: The Power of Evolution (6 minutes) Behe begins with how bugs are amazing, and far more intricate than anything Man can engineer. In fact, there is a whole field of science called biomimetics, or biomimicry devoted to improving human designs by studying bug and animal mechanisms that are "both precise and purposeful." Did you know that one bug even comes complete with gears?!? Behe talks about mutation and natural selection, and because these are key elements of Darwin's Theory, Christians sometimes make the mistake of thinking we must oppose and deny their impact. But the way to figure out the truth isn't simply to hold to a position 180-degrees from that of mainstream science – evolutionists can't be trusted to be that reliably wrong. The key difference between evolution and creation is not in whether mutation and natural selection happen, but rather in what they can accomplish. Evolutionists say mutation and natural selection can, together, create wholly new species, accidentally. We argue that the changes possible are of a more minor sort, and the potential for them is largely built-in, or the changes come about as a result of mutations causing information loss, which would be better called devolution. Episode 4: Effects of Mutation (7 minutes) Richard Lenski's 30-year long E coli bacteria experiment is one of the most popular, and seemingly best examples of evolution observably happening. Mutations had helped the offspring grow faster, and grow bigger than their ancestors. But what sort of mutations were these? It turned out that they involved broken genes. Thus this was, once again, devolution and did nothing to explain the growth in complexity that would be needed to take us from the simple first molecules to the awesome creature that is Man. But how does breaking genes help a cell grow faster? Behe notes that just as jettisoning key car parts - maybe the doors, most of the seats, the hood, and cigarette lighter – might allow it to run further on a tank of gas, so, too, some broken genes can increase a cell's ability to reproduce in a given environment...but only at the expense of the complexity it might need to deal with other circumstances. As Behe puts it, such "...helpful mutations are not a DNA upgrade." Episode 5: The X Factor in Life (8 minutes) In this conclusion, Behe invites us – challenges us! – to follow where the evidence takes us. This is where Behe gives his most overt pitch for an Intelligent Designer, asking "Who is this Mind?" But he then doesn't answer his question. So we're left with his conclusion that there is a Mind behind it - an immensely intelligent, but still unnamed, Designer. SEASON 2 Episode 6: Bacteria: Superheroes of the Microbial World While the fifth episode was the original conclusion to the series, it started up again 2 years later, with a sixth, and plans for more. This time Dr. Behe highlights just how complex even a simple bacterium really is, doing naturally, what no scientists has been able to do via concerted effort, and computer-assisted design. There is, in fact, an astonishing factory – one that would "rival any modern-day fabrication plant" – at work in these small organisms. What's so fun here is the amazement evidenced by Behe in all that he shares. He's making an argument, one that'll put evolutionists in their place, but he's also enjoying himself peering closely at the wonders God has put on display on the microscopic scale. We should do likewise. Maybe the most interesting factoid this time around is, did you know that we have almost as many (generally helpful) bacteria residing on and in us as we have cells in our body? Roughly 40 Trillion, give or take a few trillion. But because they are so small, they cumulatively only weigh about 1/300th of an ounce. How's that for amazing? Episode 7: Blood clotting: the bodies emergency response team (16 minutes) In this episode, Dr. Behe highlights how the blood clotting system needs to work to save us from bleeding out due to minor cuts and scrapes. But it also has to work in delicate balance, because if it works too well, it could clot blood in the body, stopping the distribution of oxygen, or causing strokes. Behe also explores whether there are beneficial mutations. He notes that the answer is yes.... and no. Any advantages that do happen aren't the sort that would contribute to evolutionary progress. Conclusion For more Michael Behe, be sure to check out his full-length free documentary Revolutionary: Michael Behe and the Mystery of the Molecular Machines, which is both an account of the man, and also a history of the Intelligent Design Movement. The film, and our review, can be found here. You can also watch the first five episodes of the series above - the first "seasons" – re-edited into one half-hour-long video here....
Science - Creation/Evolution
Evolution as a gravedigger
Theistic evolution undermines God’s Truth, but it’s only continuing what Old Earth Creationism began *** Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland has...
Science - Creation/Evolution, Theology
The cost of an old earth: Is it worth it?
Until recently, most Christians believed that the Bible teaches us that the earth was only a few thousand years ago. This contradicts mainstream scien...
Science - Creation/Evolution
I believe in theistic evolution
I recently realized I believe in/affirm theistic evolution. Depending on your perspective, have I sold out or have I finally come to my senses? Ne...
Science - Creation/Evolution
Why I am a six-day evolutionist
We all know that fish is a good source of protein, but did you know that some are a good source of information? It’s true – I know that evolution is true and it’s all because a little fish told me. The Astyanax mexicanus is a cave-dwelling fish. The river-dwelling version of this species can see with the best of them, but this, the cave-dwelling cousin, has adapted to its lightless surroundings by losing its eyes. As a result, the two versions of this fish look quite distinct. However, they can still be interbred which shows that they are the same species. The evolution of the blind fish The history of this fish is easy to imagine. At one point some sighted fish made their way into dark caves where they were subsequently trapped. These caves had no light so their eyes served no useful purpose to them. Not only were their eyes useless, having eyes in this environment might actually have been harmful in one critical way: eyes are softer than the rest of a fish, so as these fish bumped around in the dark their eyes were susceptible to gouging and cuts from the rocky protrusions on the cavern walls. So imagine that a fish without eyes is born into this environment. In the outside world, this would be a disadvantage. But here, in the darkness, no eyes simply means it has no soft flesh to get gouged. This eyeless fish is, therefore, hardier and fitter than its sighted siblings. That makes it more likely that this blind fish will reproduce and pass on its blindness to the next generation. Over a number of generations this blind fish and its offspring must have competed with the sighted fish until only the blind fish – the fitter fish – remained. This is a clear example of survival of the fittest, of evolution in action, and it is quite convincing. It is why I am an evolutionist. Evolution’s two meanings But while I may be an evolutionist, I don’t deny that God created the world in six literal days, because, after all, that's what the Bible tells us. I’m an evolutionist, but I’m also a creationist. I was rather shocked when I first came to this realization. I had been raised a creationist and for a very long time I thought that meant I had to reject evolution in any and all forms. But it turns out that the word “evolution” can mean a number of different things, and some of those meanings do not conflict with the biblical account. There are two very common meanings to the word: Evolution is often used to describe the small changes that animal species may undergo over time. Perhaps a species of bird might, on average, start having larger beaks – scientists would readily call this evolution. This particular use of the word is sometimes referred to as microevolution. Animal species are adaptable (just think of how dogs have adapted in a variety of ways to meet different needs) so this use of the word isn’t particularly controversial. A second use of the word is where the battle actually commences. “Evolution” can be used as a descriptor for the theory that says man evolved from a single cell, which in turn emerged from the primordial soup eons ago. This molecule-to-man hypothesis is sometimes called macroevolution and it directly conflicts with the six-day creation account given in Genesis 1 and 2. Equivocation The reason this all matters is because evolutionists often use examples of microevolution to try to prove macroevolution, their molecules-to-man hypothesis. And similarly sometimes amateur creationists waste their time (and their credibility) arguing against microevolution because they think they have to be against all things evolutionary. The Astyanax mexicanus fish is a good example in both cases. Since this fish seems to have adapted to its dark cave environments by losing its eyes, evolutionists think it is compelling proof of their molecules-to-man theory. It is so compelling that this blind fish might bother some creationists. But creationists need not worry – the blind fish’s beneficial mutation doesn’t contradict creationism. We live in a fallen world, and that means children and offspring are sometimes born with handicaps via mutations. An eyeless fish is just another normal outcome of this fallen state. Most often these mutations will be harmful but in some rare circumstances, like the Astyanax mexicanus fish, the mutation may actually be beneficial. But it is important to note here that the loss of eyes is an example of devolution, rather than evolution. This fish has lost an ability it once had – the part of its genetic code responsible for making eyes has been short-circuited. The molecules-to-man theory of evolution says that complex life arose from simpler life, but this blind fish is an example of a complex animal becoming simpler and less developed. If this fish is evidence of anything, it is that we live in a broken world (Rom. 8:22). Conclusion In any debate it is vital to first define the terms. This is particularly important in the creation/evolution debate since it is by confusing the terms that evolutionists make their most compelling case. They can’t point to macroevolution in action so instead they use examples of microevolution. Then they act as if there is no difference between the two, calling both the same thing – evolution. Therefore creationists have to be careful that when they argue against evolution they haven’t made the mistake of arguing against microevolution. Arguing against microevolution is a losing proposition since we see animals undergoing small changes all around us. Evolution in this sense is an indisputable fact. But evolution on a larger scale – the whole molecules-to-man hypothesis – flies in the face of what God tells us in the Bible, and also what He shows us via the degeneration and decay we see going on in the world around us. So I am, and will remain, a six-day evolutionist....
Science - Creation/Evolution
"Inferior" design: a proof of evolution?
"Suboptimal" design in nature is supposed to be the result of, and evidence for, evolutionary trial and error ***** Everybody loves to hear about wonderful living creatures with their amazing talents. It is certainly uplifting to learn about Monarch butterfly's continent-spanning migration, and the toe pads of the gecko that allow it to walk upside down, and the amazing strength of spider silk. Christians enjoy discussing the wonderful designs that we see in nature. And among scientists, these creatures have their fans too. Indeed, there is an entire field in science called biomimicry where scientists try to learn from living creatures in order to produce practical designs for modern application. But not everyone is equally enthusiastic about the implications of these amazing talents. Prominent evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) in 1978 wrote: "...ideal design is a lousy argument for evolution, for it mimics the postulated action of an omnipotent creator." Dr. Gould thus said that everyone should ignore examples of wonderful design and concentrate on phenomena that are below par. He continued: "Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution – paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce." Gould was telling us that he knew how God should act if, that is, God really existed. God, according to Gould, would make everything perfect. And since we know that everything is not perfect in nature then, said Gould, this proves there is no God. This kind of argument, based on assumptions of how God should act, continues to be common in science today. There is thus a lot of interest among scientists, in suboptimal (less than perfect) design. Let us look at some examples to see what the implications are. THE PANDA'S THUMB The example Gould discussed in 1978 was the thumb of the Giant Panda. These animals, native to China, eat almost nothing but bamboo shoots. They use their hands to strip off the leaves, leaving the nice tender shoots on which to munch. Their flexible hands are unusual – they have a thumb of sorts, an extra structure produced from an enlarged wrist bone, with associated muscles and nerves. Gould declares that this extra finger is a "somewhat clumsy, but quite workable solution…. A contraption, not a lovely contrivance." Here he was declaring that the panda's thumb was of suboptimal or inferior design, which thus constituted proof that the source of the thumb was evolutionary trial and error rather than from a "divine artificer" (supernatural designer). A major argument employed by many evolutionists, even today, is to point to suboptimal (inferior) design and to declare that this proves that evolution was the source rather than God. However, what makes something "suboptimal" is an open question. Sometimes a phenomenon that appears less than ideal actually displays superior and unexpectedly sophisticated design. Gould might not like the panda's thumb, but there is no denying how wonderfully this thumb gets the job done. INFERIOR EARS? Another example: the inner ear of humans includes a spirally coiled structure called the cochlea. Lining its interior are very fancy hair cells which, by their motion, amplify the sound. The whole cochlea functions as a remarkably sensitive and finely tuned sound detector. However, at the same time, it also distorts the sound. Might these distortions be considered inferior design? A study in 2008 (Nature, Nov 13) demonstrated that the distortions actually contribute to clarity of sound. The distortions come from a particular structure connecting the top of the various hair cells. Mice without this connector in their cochlea became progressively deaf. Who knew distortions were so useful? STABLE vs. MANEUVERABLE A recent article published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (November 4-8) discussed another counter-intuitive (contrary to our expectations) situation. The study was conducted by engineers trying to build efficient robots. This is a large field of research. The designers want systems that are not only stable but maneuverable. The problem is that these are opposite objectives. In general, the more maneuverable a robot is, the less stable it is. If your robot tips over, clearly it is not going anywhere. Alternatively, the more stable a robot is, the less one can fine-tune what it does – the harder it is to make sudden changes of direction. Thus your robot may be able to proceed briskly straight ahead, but what if you need it to turn a corner or climb over an obstruction? Will it be able to turn, or will it instead tip over? Animals obviously have no such problems. That's why engineers have turned their attention to animal locomotion. They ask themselves, how do animals achieve the "impossible" combination of stability and maneuverability? How indeed do actual insects like cockroaches manage their excellent locomotion skills? Biologists may have already observed the solution without recognizing its significance. Why, many biologists have wondered, do animals move in directions that are different from their desired destination? Why, for example, do cockroaches and lizards tilt from side to side as they run forward? An engineer would most likely eliminate these motions, which seem to waste energy, as they do not obviously contribute to the forward motion. Lately, however, mechanical engineers have begun to research how unexpected, "inefficient" movements may benefit these animals. Insight into this mystery recently came from studies of a tiny fish from the Amazon basin. In order to avoid predators, this fish prefers to hide in various shelters such as tiny tubes. Scientists used slow-motion video to study fin movements of this fish as it finessed its way into its hiding places. At 100 frames per second, a strange situation became apparent. The fish was using one part of the lower body fin to push water forwards, and the other part to push it backwards. This was definitely against common sense since it was like two propellers fighting against each other. When scientists built a fishy robot, they found that the opposing forces actually improved the stability and maneuverability of their model. The assumption of the engineers that it is wasteful or useless to employ forces in directions other than the desired forward motion had now been proven wrong. Apparently, the same principle applies to the motion of many other creatures. The take-home lesson is that what, at first glance, appeared to be inferior design (opposing forces) actually turned out to be superior design! PENGUIN ROCKETS Another recent robotic study which shows promise is one inspired by the talents of emperor penguins. While these creatures look pretty inept on land, in the water they can accelerate from 0 to 7 meters/second in less than a second (a veritable rocket). One student at Caltech's Aeronautics Department set out to create new propulsion technologies with high maneuverability and improved hydrodynamic efficiency. The new mechanical design is based on the penguin's shoulder and wing system and features a spherical joint with various other technical features. Concerning the promise of the study, the student declared that the manner in which penguins swim is still poorly understood. Nevertheless, by accurately reproducing an actual penguin wing movement, he and his collaborators hope to shed light on the swimming mysteries of these underwater rockets (ScienceDaily.com November 14, 2013). THE FLY EYE There are many other examples of unrecognized excellence in design. For example, the compound eye of insects and other invertebrates is often considered to be less ideal than our own camera eyes. However, a recent study that modeled the compound eye found that it does offer some advantages over the camera style eye (Young Min Song et al. Nature. May 2, 2013). Specifically the compound eye provides for an exceptionally wide field of view, and secondly such an eye has a nearly infinite depth of focus. As an object recedes away from the eye, the object becomes smaller, but it still remains in focus. It is apparent that in the case of eye design, there is no such thing as inferior design. There is instead good design that is more applicable to certain applications than to others. GOD TELLS US TO EXPECT "INFERIOR" DESIGN Obviously however there are many situations in nature that are less than ideal. This is a fallen world and there are many cases where we see distressing phenomena. The secular argument that a good God would never mandate inferior design is simply not valid. God cursed nature as a result of man's sin, so we have no reason to expect wholesale perfection, and the former "very good" creation now displays many inferior design choices. For example in Job 39:13-17 we read: The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love? For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground, forgetting that a foot may crush them and that the wild beasts may trample them. She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear, because God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding. Clearly, the breeding behavior of the ostrich is suboptimal but nevertheless designed by God. Yet "when she rouses herself to flee, she laughs at the horse and his rider" (Job 39:18). The strong legs of this bird and her running prowess also come from God. These gifts are a strong contrast to the behavioral deficits of the ostrich. The evolutionists think they have proven that God did not work in nature. However, since their argument depends upon a discussion (however faulty) of the nature of God, this is a religious argument. Since they claim to have ruled out all religious arguments, then how can they use arguments concerning what God would or would not do – arguments touching on the character of God – to prove evolution? They need to make up their minds. If they want to explore the character of God and why He'd allow brokenness in the world, then let's open our Bibles. As for Christians, despite the fallen condition of the world, we can still enjoy and benefit from, and give thanks for, the many wonders of creation as coming from God's divine wisdom. This article first appeared in the January 2014 issue under the title " Upon further reflection..." Dr. Margaret Helder is the author of “No Christian Silence on Science.”...
Documentary, Movie Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution, Watch for free
Scarred Earth (The Grand Canyon)
This half-hour video is divided into two parts. The opening 15-minute are an investigation into how the Grand Canyon was, and was not formed. Presenter Eric Hovind notes that while evolutionary explanations don't fit well with the facts, the evidence does line up with the biblical account: that this massive scar on the planet Earth had to have been formed during the events of the worldwide Flood described in Genesis 6-8. While the first half of the film will be interesting to both Christians and open-minded non-Christians, the second half of the film is aimed at specifically the unbeliever. It is a Gospel presentation where Hovind, in interviews done with visitors to the Grand Canyon, explains how we are all sinful and in need of a savior. He then shares how God has provided that Savior in Jesus Christ, who takes our deserved punishment on Himself. This approach – taking a topic as a leap off point to sharing the Gospel – is inspired by the work of Ray Comfort, who has done something similar with abortion, homosexuality, and even bananas. For a more in-depth look at the Grand Canyon from a 6-day creationist perspective, see Chapter 18 "When and How Did the Grand Canyon Form?" (which can be read for free here) from The New Answers Book 3: Over 35 Questions on Creation/Evolution and the Bible. One important point the chapter makes that doesn't come out in this video is that while a creationist explanation lines up well with the evidence, and better than a millions-of-years-timescale, that doesn't mean creationists have it all figured out. And since we don't want to overstate our case, it's important to acknowledge we have our own unanswered questions. To watch the video without signing up to Eric Hovind's email list, simply hit the "No thanks" button. But if you liked his 3D film Genesis: Paradise Lost (which we review here) you may want to pass along your name and email. Grand Canyon Movie from Creation Today on Vimeo....
Apologetics 101, Science - Creation/Evolution
God is visible to any with eyes to see
Our universe, if just slightly different, would never have been able to support life. For example, a proton’s mass is 1,836 times greater than that of an electron, but it carries a positive charge that is exactly equal to that of the electron’s negative charge. How very strange that the two, so different in size, would yet be perfectly matched in charge! If they weren’t paired just so, then the vast array of elements could never have formed and life could never have existed. This is but one example of the fine-tuning that so troubles atheists that they’ve resorted to “what if” stories to explain it away. Yes, they acknowledge, the universe is too finely tuned to have come about just by chance…if we’d had only one role of the dice to get here. But wait, what if this wasn’t the only universe? What if there were billions and trillions and gazillions of universes out there somewhere? What if we could stack the odds in our favor by supposing as many universes as we might need? Then it wouldn’t seem so very improbable that at least one of these might be suited to life…right? However, there's a problem. As physicist Frank Tipler notes, there's as much evidence for these other universes as there is for the existence of leprechauns and unicorns. None at all. So on what basis do scientists propose this theory? Because they need it to be true – otherwise the odds are so obviously against them. And these same atheists will mock Christians because we speak of faith! The only case that can be made for this "multiverse" theory is that the alternative is too terrible for them to consider – that a Fine-Tuner brought the balance, order, and wonder to our universe. Atheists can be inventive, but God won’t leave them with any excuse. As Psalm 19 explains the heavens declare His glory. Want to explain away fine-tuning by postulating a multiverse? Well, then answer this: why would the Sun just happen to be roughly 400 times bigger than our moon and also 400 times further away? This precise pairing means that the moon and sun appear to be the same size in our sky. This allows us, during a solar eclipse, to study the Sun’s corona in a way that we just can’t any other time and wouldn’t ever be able to if the two celestial bodies weren’t sized just so. As the moon passes in front of the Sun only the corona is still visible – flaring fire crowning the moon in the dark daytime sky. Yes, dear atheist, we are not only in a universe impossibly finely tuned for life, but implausibly suited for us to study our own Sun. Why would that be? The multiverse doesn’t explain it. There is no reason that the one universe in which all the dice rolled just right for life would also be the same universe in which we’d be gifted with a moon that was sized exactly right to study our own Sun. Atheists have no explanation. But we do. We know our God created us as the very pinnacle of His creation (Psalm 8:3-9, Genesis 1:26-28) and that our purpose is to glorify Him. So it isn’t surprising to us that God would so arrange things that the precise sizing of the moon enables us to study our Sun – God is showing us His wonders! A version of this article was first published in the May 2016 edition of Reformed Perspective. A related article by Eric Metaxas, of Breakpoint Ministries, called "Observatory Earth" can be found here. Also, be sure to check out this great 6-minute clip below about more amazing interactions between our moon and the Earth. ...