Saturday, 3 December 2016
Has the quest for alien life become an obsession for some astronomers?
It seems so. They have even found worlds that might not exist.
Like the late Carl Sagan, they seem to detest the notion that Earth could be unique.
Life flourishes in seemingly impossible conditions on our planet, so why would it not do so on other worlds as well?
This time they have set their hopes on brown dwarf stars. An article in Science says:
“There’s an abundant new swath of cosmic real estate that life could call home—and the views would be spectacular. Floating out by themselves in the Milky Way galaxy are perhaps a billion cold brown dwarfs, objects many times as massive as Jupiter but not big enough to ignite as a star. According to a new study, layers of their upper atmospheres sit at temperatures and pressures resembling those on Earth, and could host microbes that surf on thermal updrafts.”
Naturalism and wishful thinking seem to go hand in hand:
“The idea expands the concept of a habitable zone to include a vast population of worlds that had previously gone unconsidered. ‘You don’t necessarily need to have a terrestrial planet with a surface,’ says Jack Yates, a planetary scientist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, who led the study.”
The next step is a digression into science fiction: Inspired by Carl Sagan’s idea of an ecosystem in Jupiter’s atmosphere, they envision microbes floating around in hydrogen gas.
The article mentions that the idea is speculative. and that certainly is no understatement. No form of life can float around anywhere if it does not come into existence first.
And life, as we know, only comes from life.
Sokol, Joshua, 2016 Alien life could thrive in the clouds of failed stars. Science (2 December).
Thursday, 1 December 2016
Once upon a time, the tree of life was a major albeit somewhat controversial fact of evolution. Now it is no more.
Even secular researchers have pointed out that Darwin was wrong and that the tree has fallen down.
New Scientist had its Darwin was Wrong cover story in 2009 and since then studies have shown that he was indeed mistaken.
The latest instalment can be seen in the journal Science. Elizabeth Pennisi looks at hybrids and concludes that they spell disaster for Darwin’s tree:
“In 2010 a comparison between a Neandertal genome and genomes from people today turned up evidence of ancient liaisons, a discovery that belied the common idea that animal species can't hybridize or, if they do, will produce infertile offspring—think mules."
But this was simply wrong:
"Such reproductive isolation is part of the classic definition of a species. This discovery brought credence to other work in plants, Darwin's finches in the Galápagos Islands, tropical butterflies, mosquitoes, and a few other animals showing that hybridization was not just common, but also important in shaping evolution. The techniques that revealed the Neandertal and Denisovan legacy in our own genome are now making it possible to peer into the genomic histories of many organisms to check for interbreeding. As more examples are discovered, researchers are questioning the definition of species and rethinking whether the tree of life is really a 'net' of life.”
The term 'species' is anything but an accurate description of a particular type of organism. The great number of hybrids such as ligers, zonkeys, wholpins, geeps, grolars and leopons, supports the view that the biblical concept ‘kind’ differs considerably from the biological term ‘species’, being more inclusive.
According to the biblical model, Neanderthals, Denisovans and modern humans form a single biblical ‘kind’.
Likewise, at best, the distinction between the various varieties of Darwin’s finches is vague.
Hybrids challenge the very concept of evolution. No new genetic information is added, but they merely share pre-existing information. Often, they display a loss of information.
Some microbes also defy Darwinian orthodoxy by using horizontal gene transfer (HGT) to share genetic traits.
Creationists have consistently assumed that the very idea of a tree was suspect. Way back in 2000, Dr. Pierre Jerlström had an article in the Journal of Creation entitled 'Is the evolutionary tree turning into a creationist orchard?'
Now it seems that they have been right all along and evolutionists have been wrong since Darwin’s day.
Jerström, Pierre. 2000. Is the evolutionary tree turning into a creationist orchard? Journal of Creation 14(2), 11–13.
Pennisi, Elizabeth. 2016. Shaking up the Tree of Life. Science 354 (6314), 817 – 821.
Tuesday, 29 November 2016
The coconut crab (Birgus latro) can weigh up to 4 kilograms. It has enormous claws with which it can pick up objects that are seven times heavier that it is.
Recently, scientists measured the strength of this crab. While humans have a grip strength of 300 newtons on average, a coconut crab weighing 2 kilograms almost reached 1800 newtons. Hence, the researchers suggested that a fully-grown coconut crab “could thus be expected to exert a crushing force of more than 3000 newtons,” New Scientist says.
While the Darwinian explanation for the crab’s Hercules-like grip invokes dietary demands, just how many crabs passed away before evolution’s blind watchmaker finally thought of a solution and gave the poor crab a chance to have a coconut for lunch?
The mantis shrimp is another Hercules: it beats airplane frames in strength.
Creatures like these challenge evolutionary explanations. They strongly suggest that teleology or goal-orientation was involved. This happens to be Darwinian heresy.
Design is so evident everywhere that it is actually difficult to to avoid goal-orientation even in evolutionary stories.
Klein, Alice. 2016. Coconut crab’s bone-crushing grip is 10 times stronger than ours. New Scientist (23 November ).
Sunday, 27 November 2016
While Fidel Castro, who recently died at the age of 90, was an atheist, he obviously respected the teachings and deeds of Jesus Christ, even claiming that Jesus was a communist.
Jesus fed 5,000 men and asked a rich man to give his wealth to the poor.
When it comes to equality, communism shared some of the values of early Christianity, in principle, that is.
But Comrade Castro did not like all the teachings of the Bible. Jesus never taught that the Kingdom of God should be built by a sword (or an AK-47).
Castro's revolution led to wars in several Latin American and African countries, with millions of casualties and suffering for countless more people.
Sandinistas, Sendero Luminoso, FARC, and the anything but civil wars in Angola and Mozambique were all inspired by the Cuban revolutionary, and they brought death, suffering and misery to millions.
All attempts to build a secular paradise on Earth have failed miserably. While Castro might have succeeded in doing some good things (along with the bad), he definitely did not make the world a better place for most people within his sphere of influence.
In other words, Castro was a failed Messiah.
Only one Messiah ever succeeded.
And instead of taking others' lives, He chose to give His own, because the people He created had turned away from Him and He sought to bring them back.
It was the sin of the first humans that brought bad things into the world.
Jesus came to undo the damage. That is the real reason for the Christmas season.
Friday, 25 November 2016
Recently, New Scientist (NS) outlined five dilemmas that believers in solely naturalistic processes have to face when they consider astronomy.
For want of a better word, it calls them coincidences. And they are all over the place.
In naturalistic thinking, we can thank a quantum fluctuation for all the fine tuning that is evident in the universe.
One of the dilemmas is the uniform temperature of the universe. It is almost astounding. NS gives the gist of the problem:
”THE temperature of the cosmic microwave background – the radiation bathing all of space – is remarkably uniform. It varies by less than 0.001 degrees from a chilly 2.725 kelvin.”
For naturalists, it is indeed a huge mystery:
”But while that might seem natural enough, this consistency is a real puzzle. For two widely separated areas of the cosmos to reach thermal equilibrium, heat needs enough time to travel from one to the other. Even if this happens at the speed of light, the universe is just too young for this to have happened.”
This has led to an explanation that is anything but scientific:
”Cosmologists try to explain this uniformity using the hypothesis known as inflation. It replaces the simple idea of a big bang with one in which there was also a moment of exponential expansion. This sudden, faster-than-light increase in the size of the universe allows it to have started off smaller than an atom, when it would have had plenty of time to equalise its temperature.”
Then comes the great admission:
“''On the face of it, inflation is a totally bonkers idea – it replaces a coincidence with a completely nonsensical vision of what the early universe was like, ' says Andrew Pontzen at University College London.”
When they leave out intelligent causes, the resulting hypotheses are bonkers and completely nonsensical.
But obviously, they cannot allow a Divine foot in the door, as professor Richard Lewontin famously put it.
Clark, Stuart. 2016. Space is all the same temperature. Coincidence? New Scientist. (26 October).
Wednesday, 23 November 2016
Doubters often question the historicity of Noah’s Flood although many geological features testify that it was a real catastrophic event.
These monuments formed by the Flood can be seen all over the world, for instance in Cape Verde, Norway and Australia.
New research published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters suggests that there is a lot more water below Earth’s surface than we previously thought.
In addition to aquifers and water trapped in ringwoodite, it seems that our planet also hides an enormous subterranean lake below the Andes.
Jon Blundy of the University of Bristol, UK, and his colleagues discovered “a massive reservoir of water”.
According to New Scientist, they “made the discovery while studying a huge ‘anomaly’ 15 kilometres beneath the currently dormant Uturuncu volcano in the Bolivian Andes. The anomaly, called the Altiplano-Puna magma body, slows down seismic waves and conducts electricity, unlike surrounding magma.”
To say that the researchers were surprised would probably be an understatement. Blundy and colleagues tested rocks excavated from the mountain and found that they contained 8 to 10 per cent water:
“The Altiplano-Puna magma body is known to be around half a million cubic kilometres in volume, so the researchers estimate it must contain a similar amount of water to some of the largest freshwater lakes on Earth. ‘It’s probably somewhere between Lake Superior and Lake Huron,’ says Blundy. ‘It’s a staggeringly large amount.’ ”
Lack of water is thus not a valid excuse for doubting the Flood.
The discovery also supports the view that there was subterranean water on Earth from the very beginning.
Just like Genesis says.
Coghlan, Andy. 2016. Huge lake discovered 15 kilometres under a volcano. New Scientist (4 November).
Monday, 21 November 2016
Political correctness is no friend of Christianity. The latest proof of this comes from the US city of Bloomington in Indiana that has renamed Good Friday as Spring Holiday.
It also changed the name of Columbus Day to Fall Holiday.
The pretext was to make these days more inclusive. Mayor John Hamilton said this would "better reflect cultural sensitivity in the workplace".
Liberal views prevail in the city of 84,067 where 58.6% of the electorate chose to give their vote to Hillary Clinton in the recent presidential election.
Good Friday is the most important day of the year for Christians, as it marks the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He died for the sins of the entire world, so very few things could possible be more inclusive.
However, as the Christmas wars and battles over crucifixes, religious statues and crosses have shown, many people seem to hate anything that reminds them of Christ or the Bible (including creation and Noah’s Ark and the Flood).
Nonetheless, the gospel of Jesus Christ is still the good news that gives hope to the hopeless, direction for those who are lost and new life to those who struggle and are desperate.
BBC News. 2016. Good Friday and Columbus Day renamed by 'inclusive' US city of Bloomington. (20 November).