Sunday, 31 August 2008
The letter of Jude also mentions Cain, who killed his brother Abel. Pictured here in the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum.
What did the New Testament writers teach about the age of mankind? The letter of Jude includes a fascinating verse that says, ” Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: ’See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones’ ”.
The genealogy in Genesis chapter 5 mentions Enoch who belonged to the seventh generation, counting from Adam. Those who believe that God used evolution or that there are gaps in the genealogy cannot find support for their views in the New Testament.
Not all scholars believe that Jude was the brother of James as he says in the opening verse of his letter since he used Jewish apocalyptic literature as sources. However, this does not make him unreliable. Even Paul used the writings of Greek poets as sources on two occasions (Acts 17: 28; Titus 1:12).
Jude and James were Jesus’ earthly brothers. Before the crucifixion and resurrection they did not believe that Jesus was God but already in the first chapter of Acts they were part of the group of disciples who met at Jerusalem to receive the power Jesus had promised them.
In addition to Enoch , the letter of Jude also mentions Cain, who killed his brother Abel.
Jesus and the writers of the New Testament believed that Genesis was history and that the characters mentioned in the first eleven chapters of the book were real people.
Jesus taught: ” at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female”(Mark 10:6). He regarded Abel, who belonged to the second generation, as a historical person (Luke 11:51) and the flood of Noah’s days as a real event (Matthew 24:37).
Paul wrote that sin came into the world through the trespass of one man – Adam (Romans 5:12-14). Sin brought death and suffering into the world but Jesus Christ overcame death on the cross.
Friday, 29 August 2008
Mercury. Image: NASA
In 1975 NASA’s Mariner 10 spacecraft flew past Mercury at a distance of 327 km (203 miles). It carried equipment that measured the planet’s magnetic field. Nine years later, physicist Russell D. Humphreys predicted that by 1990 Mercury’s magnetic field should be 1.8 per cent weaker than in 1975.
No spacecraft was sent to Mercury in 1990. Now NASA’s Messenger space probe flew past the solar system’s innermost planet. Preliminary data on the magnetic field were published in July in Science. The results indicate that Humphreys was right – Mercury’s magnetic field is indeed considerably weaker than it was in 1975, by roughly 4 per cent.
Humphrey’s based his calculations on the biblical estimation of the solar system’s age (ca. 6000 years). “My predicted four percent decrease in only 33 years would be very hard for evolutionary theories of planetary magnetic fields to explain”, writes Dr. Humphreys on the Creation Ministries International webpage.
“When NASA’s space program began many decades ago, nobody expected it to vindicate Scripture so strongly, ” Humphreys concludes.
Other evidence also point to a young solar system. For instance, the methanological cycle on Saturn’s moon Titan is relatively young. The rain on Titan is liquid methane. Recently researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland examined the images sent by the Huygens space probe. They found out that there is much less tholin, a substance made up of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, on Titan’s surface than predicted by a model in which the solar system’s age is estimated to be billions of years.
Another fascinating fact that speaks for a young solar system is the existence of short-term comets. Every time a comet passes the sun, it loses some of its mass and thus no short-term comet could last over 100, 000 years. Astronomers have speculated that a hypothetical stretch of space called the Oort Cloud that extends up to three light years from the sun houses millions of frozen comets. Every now and then these cold comets change to a shorter orbit that takes them closer to the sun. However, there is no observational evidence for the existence of this cloud. In other words, the Oort Cloud was invented because belief in an old solar system required it.
The weakening of Mercury’s magnetic field adds to this fascinating list of evidence for a young solar system.
Anderson, Brian.J. et al. 2008 The structure of Mercury’s magnetic field from MESSENGER’s first flyby, Science 341:82–85, 4 July 2008.
Ball, Philip. 2008. Titanic climate change in store. Nature News 6 February 2008. http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080206/full/news.2008.553.html
Humphreys, Russell D. 2007. Mercury’s Magnetic Field Is Young.
Sarfati, Jonathan. 2003. Comets: Portents of Doom or Indicators of Youth? Creation 25:3, 36-40, June 2003. http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/141.
Saturday, 23 August 2008
Elephants are good at mathematics. Image from Wikipedia.
An Asian Elephant named Ashya knows that three plus four is more than one plus five. Naoko Irie, a researcher at the University of Tokyo presented the findings of a recent elephant study at the International Society for Behavioral Ecology's annual meeting in Ithaca, New York.
As reported by NewScientist.com news service, the elephant knew that when four apples were added to a bucket with three apples, it held more fruit than a bucket in which five apples were added to one apple.
It was no coincidence. On average, elephants chose the bucket with the most fruit 74 per cent of the time.
Previous research has shown that several animals have the ability to count. In addition, with little coaching, parrots for instance are known to come up with the right solution to mathematical problems.
Elephants have rather big brains. Irie suspects that this trait, together with their “evolutionary kinship to other ‘smart’ animals” may account for their skill in mathematics.
Natural history museums and science magazines usually present chimpanzees as being cleverer than all other animals. This is due to evolutionary assumptions of humans and apes being closely related. In 1969 Science reported on a female chimpanzee named Washoe who understood over a hundred sign language “words”.
This began a boom that had the intention of proving that humans did not have a monopoly on language. In the late 1970s a chimpanzee who was named Nim Chimpsky learnt 125 signs. The name was an obvious parody of linguist Noam Chomsky, who thought that there was an enormous gap between the linguistic abilities of man and apes.
Apes were unable to learn much more words. However, a parrot known as Alex, who died in 2007, was able to use over 150 words. This was a big surprise for evolutionists. A bird with a small brain should not have beaten apes in language skills. Moreover, recent research indicates that magpies are able to recognise themselves in a mirror.
Elephants are known to be intelligent animals who have excellent memories and even mourn the dead. Now, together with the parrot Alex and magpies they are also calling into question the neo-Darwinian teaching of apes being special.
Elephants are better artists than apes. View video here.
Callaway, Ewen. 2008. Add elephants to the growing menagerie of animals that can count. NewScientist.com news service. (20 August). http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14569
Wynne, Clive. 2007. Aping Language. A skeptical analysis of the evidence for nonhuman primate language. E-Skeptic. (31 October). http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-10-31.html
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Two Stories of Death. Image from Answers in Genesis
(This post is a reply to feedback I received recently to my article New Scientist Uses Theological Arguments In Trying to Disprove the Bible. )
Neo-Darwinian evolution is basically an atheistic attempt to explain reality. Unfortunately modern science has ruled out God and only accepts naturalistic explanations. Although some Christians accept evolution, it is in conflict with the biblical model of creation.
Evolution is an attempt to elevate man’s views above God’s Word.
In the evolution model, death has been present from the very beginning. According to the Bible, God created a perfect world. The New Testament teaches that death came into the world through one man’s (Adam’s) sin (Romans 5:12-14). Evolutionists have to interpret the Fall figuratively, and that is something the New Testament writers did not do. Jesus did not die for figurative sins but real ones.
Genesis 1-11 does not use the primary poetical device of the ancient Hebrews, viz. parallelism. A straightforward reading of the text shows that it was understood as being history. Indeed, Jesus and St Paul understood Adam as a literal man, created at a particular time in history as fully human.
The Bible teaches special creation, not a Darwinian idea of descent with modification. Regardless of the often mentioned DNA difference of 1-2% (the American Museum of Natural History puts the difference at 1.2 % but recent research at about 5%) between chimpanzees and humans, there seems to be an enormous gap between humans and apes. Only man was created in the image of God.
Another great difference is the issue of time. Jesus and the New Testament writers believed in a creation that occurred thousands of years ago. Billions of years are evolutionary assumptions. See the recent evidence from diamonds.
It is thus either evolution or creation. St. Paul sums up the evidence for creation in Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Raffaello Sanzio: The School of Athens (ca. 1509). Image from Wikipedia.
New Scientist is a popular British science magazine that is not known to be friendly towards anything that smacks of intelligent design. A recent editorial says a lot about the presuppositions of the magazine’s writers. The concluding paragraph of the article states:
As Socrates knew, the really intelligent know the limits of their own ability, an idea we seem to be relearning. You might say supporters of intelligent design have it backwards: the more we observe the complex workings of our universe, the more we must conclude that no single intelligence could have created them.
So here we have an evolutionist (or a group of them) saying that the universe looks as though it was designed intelligently but it seems to be too complex for any “single intelligence”.
It looks like New Scientist has desperately been trying to climb the slopes of Mount Improbable but the way has turned out to be too rough. Anyhow, they have finally admitted that the workings of the universe are complex – as though they were designed.
Anon. 2008. Intelligence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. New Scientist (6 August)
Friday, 15 August 2008
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008). Image from Wikipedia
Russian novelist Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, who died recently at age 89, was known for his criticism of totalitarianism. After receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, he was exiled. In 1978, he gave an address at Harvard University. Solzhenitsyn stated, “ In early democracies, as in the American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God's creature.”
Solzhenitsyn echoed the view of another famous European author. G. K. Chesterton wrote in 1922: “The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal. There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man.” (Chapter 19, What I Saw In America).
The Bible says that we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). In the New Testament, Paul explicitly stated that all people are descended “from one man” (Acts 17:26). Writing to the Galatian churches, he explained, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Evolution is an altogether different story. Charles Darwin believed that some people were more evolved than others. Evolutionary ideas inspired Adolf Hitler and Karl Marx, for instance, both of whom had hopes of an earthly utopia that was not based on biblical teaching.
Solzhenitsyn, Alexandr. 1978. A World Split Apart. A speech delivered on 8 June 1978 on the occasion of Class Day Afternoon Exercises at Harvard University.
Chesterton, G. K. 1922. What I Saw In America. In Quotations of G. K. Chesterton. http://chesterton.org/acs/quotes.htm
Saturday, 9 August 2008
Jeremiah, the "Wailing Prophet", by Michelangelo. Image from Wikipedia.
The Old Testament book of Jeremiah mentions Gedaliah, son of Pashur, who served as a minister during king Zedekiah’s reign (597- 586 BC). Zedekiah was the last king of Judah before the Babylonian captivity.
Recently, a piece of clay bearing a seal impression with the name Gedalyahu ben Pashur (Gedaliah, son of Pashur) was found in Jerusalem. The bulla, as the seal impression is called, supports the historical reliability of the book of Jeremiah. Professor Eilat Mazar, who led the excavations at the southern side of the Temple Mount, reported the find to the Jerusalem Post.
Three years ago professor Mazar’s team found a seal impression with the name Jehucal son of Shelemiah (Yehukual ben Shelemyahu) in the same area. Jehucal was also a minister during the reign of king Zedekiah. The 38th chapter of Jeremiah states that these two men persuaded the king to put Jeremiah to death since he had predicted that the Babylonians would conquer Jerusalem.
However, Zedekiah had Jeremiah thrown into a cistern instead. The “wailing prophet” was eventually rescued.
Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in 587 BC when Nebuchadnezzar’s troops took the city, bringing an end to Judah’s independence.
Mazar’s excavation team has previously unearthed a part of the city wall built by Nehemiah during the post-captivity era.
In 2007, assyriologist Michael Jursa found a clay tablet in the British Museum that dated from the tenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (595 BC). The Assyrian tablet mentions that a chief officer called Nebo-Sarsekim brought gold to the temple. This is an interesting detail since Jeremiah 39:3 also speaks about an officer called Nebo-Sarsekim.
Once again archaeology supports the historical reliability of the Bible. Instead of being full of myths, the book of Jeremiah, like the entire Bible, describes real people who were part of real, verifiable history.
You can read more about the reliability of the Bible here.
Lefkovits, Etgar. 2008. Seal of King Zedekiah's minister uncovered in J'lem dig. Jerusalem Post. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/jpost/access/1525083811.html?dids=1525083811:1525083811&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Aug+1%2C+2008&author=ETGAR+LEFKOVITS&pub=Jerusalem+Post&edition=&startpage=7&desc=Seal+of+King+Zedekiah%27s+minister+uncovered+in+J%27lem+dig
Seal Impression Of Royal Advisor Recovered In Jerusalem.. Biblical Archaeology Org. News. http://www.bib-arch.org/news/dailynews.asp (1.8. 2008)
Sunday, 3 August 2008
The Antikythera Mechanism. Image from Wikipedia
When I took my first course in computer science I learnt that Charles Babbage (1791-1871) invented the mechanical computer. But now it seems that the Greeks already made sophisticated calculators over 2000 years ago.
In the first century BC a Roman ship sank near the Greek island of Antikythera. Its cargo lay hidden at the bottom of the sea for two millennia until in 1901 a sponge diver found the wreck. Among the statues that were discovered was also a mysterious device. Believed to date from ca. 100 BC, the Antikythera Mechanism, as it is called, is the most sophisticated scientific instrument of the ancient Greek world that has survived to our time.
The Antikythera Mechanism consists of at least 30 gear wheels and pointers. Previous research on the device disclosed that it was a mechanical computer for calculating the movements of the sun, moon and probably also some planets. It could be used for predicting eclipses, for instance.
A recent letter in the journal Nature by British mathematician Tony Freeth and colleagues brings to light more uses for the device. They studied the mechanism and its Greek inscriptions with microfocus X-ray computed tomography. They found out that the mechanics were also used as a four-year calender for the timing of the Olympic Games.
Freeth suggests that the device might have been made by a follower of Archimedes (ca. 287 BC – 212 BC).
The prevailing evolutionary view of man has often blinded scientists into thinking that ancient men had to be very primitive. Each generation tends to think that their forefathers were less advanced than themselves. However, recent findings have indicated that this is not necessarily true. The Neanderthals, for instance, were more civilised than we once supposed. The same is true of the Greeks. When it comes to technology, they were centuries ahead of their times.
Ball, Philip. 2008. Complex Clock Combines Calenders. Nature 454: 7204, 561 (31 July 2008).
Freeth, Tony; Jones, Alexander; Steele, John M. & Bitsakis, Yanis. 2008. Calendars with Olympiad display and eclipse prediction on the Antikythera Mechanism. Nature 454: 7204, 614-617 (31 July 2008).
Spinellis, Diomidis. 2008. Τhe Antikythera Mechanism: a Computer Science Perspective. Computer 41:5, 22–27.
Friday, 1 August 2008
Apollo 14 crew: Stuart A. Roosa (left), Alan B. Shepherd and Edgar D. Mitchell. Image courtesy of NASA.
In February 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell walked for 9.5 hours on the moon. Recently, in an interview on UK-based Kerrang Radio, he spoke about UFOs, aliens and a 60-year old US government cover-up conspiracy.
Edgar Mitchell surprised both his interviewer and his audience by admitting his belief in extra-terrestrials. He believes aliens have been visiting us for years. Their intention is peaceful since we might not be here if it were otherwise.
Mitchell thinks the 1947 Roswell incident involving an alleged UFO crash was covered up by the US government. However, he did not provide any evidence.
A reporter at Kerrang Radio asked NASA to comment on Mitchell’s views. NASA’s response was rather succint: “Dr Mitchell is a great American, but we do not share his opinions on this issue.”
Gary Bates, the author of Alien Intrusion (2004), believes there is a strong connection between UFOs and evolution. People who believe life evolved on earth tend to think that it had to evolve elsewhere in space also since we cannot be that special. Indeed, a belief in UFOs seems to fit in well with a believe in a new age type of deity. But both real science and biblical theology bring serious problems for a belief in UFOs and extra-terrestrials. ETs seem to have more to do with parapsychological phenomena than physical phenomena.
Kenneth Arnold reported seeing flying saucer-shaped flying objects over Mount Rainier in Washington on June 24, 1947. With this incident fresh in mind, the media was quick to come up with a conspiracy theory just two weeks later when they wrote about Roswell.
Bates suggests that the Roswell incident was an inflated account of a US spy balloon that crashed. In the early cold war years the US government was reluctant to disclose what kind of equipment its air force used to spy on their erstwhile allies the Russians.
So it was a cover up, after all. But not the kind that Edgar Mitchell believes.
Bates, Gary. 2004. Alien Intrusion. Green Forest, AR: Master Books.
Moon Astronaut Says We're Not Alone. Scientific American Video. HTTP://WWW.SCIAM.COM/VIDEO.CFM?ID=4247755A73B80E57BB1FCC316D98DE90