Binocular Memoirs.

Inspiring glass: The Nikon E II 10 x 35(left) and the 8 x 30(right).

Five years ago, I began to explore the wonderful world of binoculars. After doing solely telescopic work for 38 years, I felt I needed to find a way to combine my love of the great outdoors with my deep and abiding interest in phenomenalistic optics. And what better way to amalgamate these two interests than to use a fine glass to explore the natural world in all its glorious complexity.  I’ve had the pleasure of owning and using many fine instruments in this binocular golden age we live in. But in the end, two instruments have captured my imagination more than all the rest combined; my Nikon E IIs; a little 8 x 30 and its larger and more powerful sibling, the 10 x 35. But why these two?j

Well, for one thing, I prefer Porro prism binoculars to their roof prism counterparts. They have an elegant, classical simplicity that greatly appeals to me, delivering extraordinarily sharp, bright and high contrast images, with vivid three dimensionality in most lighting conditions.  They are precision optical instruments made to the highest optical and mechanical standards, with very light weight die cast magnesium alloy chassis, yet are very strong and durable. These are undoubtedly world class binoculars. The 8 x 30 weighs scarcely more than half a kilogram(575g), whereas the larger framed 10 x 35 tips the scales at just 50g more(625g).  If properly taken care of, they should easily outlive this author.

The EIIs have magnificent wide-angle eyepieces delivering impressively large true fields; 8.9 degrees for the little 8 x 30 and 7.2 degrees for the 10 x 35 instrument. Both instruments are a joy to use; with a silky smooth focus wheel, and an excellent, stable dioptre adjustment. Both handle superbly in field use, providing instantly gratifying vistas the moment you bring them to your eyes. Despite having smaller exit pupils than the commoner garden 42mm instruments, I’ve never experienced blackouts or the dreaded rolling back effect with these instruments; just simple, reliable performance time and time again. Indeed, these are unquestionably the easiest binoculars I have used to date.

Though neither instrument is waterproof, unlike most contemporary binoculars, it’s never been a dampener to my modus operandi. I’ve used these instruments in all weathers; brilliant sunshine, grey and dull overcast, chilly dark nights under the stars and even in light rain without ever experiencing significant issues. Through experimentation, I’ve found an easy and convenient way to keep them dry and fog proof, simply by storing them in Tupperware dry boxes laced with sachets of desiccant. This storage procedure has allowed me to use these instruments in much the same way as a regular nitrogen-charged waterproof binocular. They can be deployed in cold, humid conditions and I can bring them into the warm indoors without any fear of them fogging up inside.

Both instruments hang high on my chest to minimise any oscillatory motions encountered while travelling over all kinds of terrain, as well as reducing the chances of their optics being bumped out of alignment.

Ireland July 2023: Glassing the Great Shannon River

River Shannon: Limerick July 2023.

I brought the 8 x 30 on a short trip to my home city of Limerick, Ireland in July. It’s so small, inconspicuous and lightweight that it fits into an ordinary pocket, though I decided to carry it about in my rucksack. The great River Shannon, the longest river in the British Isles, flows through the city and the binocular provided excellent views of this magnificent water course. The day was warm and sunny, affording excellent visibility as I soaked up the views: the swirling waters, myriad babbling bubbles, the subtle undulations of the vital liquid over rocks and stones on its sojourn to the open sea. A variety of Seagull species of all ages were present, as were numerous Mute Swans and even the odd Cormorant. The photo above shows King John’s Castle across the river in the oldest part of the city – King’s Island – which dates back to the 13th century and named after King John, Lord of Ireland, and brother to Richard the Lionheart. Archaeologists have unearthed much earlier settlements though that date back to the 9th century AD when it was founded by the Vikings. I enjoyed glassing the old stone walls, made alive with the comings and goings of Swifts and Swallows screeching in the warm summer air.

While staying at my sister’s house in Dooradoyle, I had the immense good fortune to glass a group of boisterous Starlings at very close proximity. In the morning, they would land just a few metres away on the grass lawn, hoping to pick up seeds my sister had dispersed earlier on. I find Starlings to be endlessly fascinating birds. In the evenings, they were fond of hanging out on a mature bamboo tree at the far end of her garden. Indeed, I was amazed how comfortable they were in my presence, displaying their magnificent summer plumage – an arresting purplish green iridescence – the details of which were richly on display through the 8 x 30. This is how I remember these birds from the days of my youth, when they were very plentiful indeed. At home in Scotland, far away from the cities, Starlings are far more timid but still highly entertaining. Such cheeky birds, I’ve glassed up to a dozen members flying low at breakneck speed across the valley and all landing on the back of a single grazing sheep! I’ve yet to see a ‘murmuration’ in real life, but have high hopes of one day observing this wonder of the natural world. Maybe my luck will change later in the autumn.

Chough Watching in Pembrokeshire, Wales, late July 2023

Glassing the cliffs with the 10 x 35 on Marloes Sands Beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales , late July 2023.

Towards the end of July, I brought both the 8 x 30 and 10 x 35 on vacation to Pembrokeshire, Wales. Last year, during a boat trip to Ramsey Island, I was introduced to the rarest of the corvid species to grace the British Isles – the Chough. On that trip I took my Opticron SRGA 8 x 32 to make by first observations of this interesting bird, but as I reviewed my journal notes for that trip, I had wished I had a little more magnification to see these shy cliff birds better. I’m delighted to say that the 10 x 35 proved to be the perfect choice; lightweight, optically excellent and delivering that extra magnification to enable me to glass these creatures a little better. During a trip to Marloes Sands Beach, which overlooks great red sandstone cliffs dating back to the Silurian Period (c. 430 Myr), I spent a few minutes scanning the tops of the cliff and was soon rewarded by the appearance of several groups of crows gliding on the summer thermals. Despite their respectable distance from me, I was easily able to pick off a couple of Choughs, red billed and red legged against the cobalt blue sky, among the murder of crows frequenting this 1.5-kilometre stretch of cliff face. With a concentrated gaze, I was also able to distinguish them from other crows by their deeply fingered wing tips. Consulting my copy of the superbly illustrated British Birds, I note the Choughs are also doing well in Ireland, inhabiting the north, south and west coasts of the island in decent numbers.

I’ve been especially delighted with the 10 x 35 since I first acquired it back in the early summer. I’d describe the images it serves up as vibrant, ‘delicious’ even, Indeed, I rate it slightly ahead optically of its little brother, the 8 x 30. Even though they employ the same wide-angle eyepieces, I think they work that little bit better with the longer focal length of the 35mm objectives. There are slight differences between the coatings on these instruments too, which might also explain some of the differences.  Whatever it is, the 10 x 35 is an amazing instrument to hold in one’ hands and look through. Like I described in my review of this instrument, it’s like having the field of view of a typical 8x glass with 25 per cent greater magnification. I have very fond memories of walking this beautiful beach, glassing the waves and the surf crashing onto the golden sands before me. The 10 x 35 handles glare extremely well. I’ve been extremely impressed by how well it performs while glassing strongly backlit scenes. It’s also a surprisingly good performer in dull light conditions, at dawn or at or after sunset, when many binoculars show their weaknesses including glare, which manifests as the eye pupil opens up and engages with any light leaks in the vicinity of the exit pupil. No such problems encountered in the 10 x 35. It goes on delivering long after the sun falls out of the sky.    

Seeing Up Close

Spot the Grasshopper?

One of the other surprising features of the EII Porros, apart from their slightly larger than advertised fields of view, is their close focusing distance. While the official specs state that the 8 x 30 and 10x 35 focus of 3m and 5m, respectively, my measurements have yielded much closer values; 1.96m for the 8x 30 and 2.96m for the larger 10 x 35. In retrospect, this is hardly surprising as Nikon tend to be quite conservative in their estimates of these parameters. And while it has been widely reported that focusing this close up is uncomfortable with these small, compact Porros, I’ve not had any issues with either glass. The trick is to reduce the interpapillary distance down to their minimum values by pushing the barrels together, in much the same way as you cross your eyes when an object is placed just in front of your face. The sub-2m close focus of the 8 x 30 puts it on par with the majority of roof prism binoculars, allowing it to serve as a long-range microscope. Indeed, just before I took the above image of the grasshopper leaving Marloes Sands Beach, I had glassed it first using the 8 x 30 using this very technique. This good close focus has also allowed me to obtain some excellent images of the less timorous bird species, such as Robins and Chaffinches which often allow you to get as near as 2.5m.

Speaking of roof prism models, I’ve often been asked in email enquiries how well it stacks up to higher-end roof prism binoculars. My response has been to say that Porros and roof prism binoculars produce qualitatively different viewing experiences, but a few weeks ago I hooked up with a resident of our village who has enjoyed a classic Leica Trinovid BN 8x 32 to glass the waters of the Carron Dam just a few miles south of my home. On this occasion I happened to have my 8 x 30 with me and he was kind enough to allow me to do some quick A/B comparisons between the two instruments on an unseasonably warm early September day with mostly overcast skies. My impressions were that they were very close. Indeed, I can’t remember an instrument that came as close to the E II in terms of colour tone, sharpness and contrast than this old Leica glass. The only significant differences we could note were the EII’s larger field of view and greater stereoscopic impressions on objects set in the middle distance. That said, I could see why he loved the Leica BN 8 x 32 so much: it’s built like a tank and has wonderful ergonomics. Indeed, I think these older Leicas look even more stylish than their current crop of instruments.

Of course, a picture paints a thousand words. Here is some recent footage made through the E II 8x 30 captured by YouTuber BlackForestRecon, from a beautiful alpine vantage. The reader will note that the E II he imaged with is an early 2000s model and so will not have as good antireflection coatings than more recent models. I  hope you’ll agree that the images look superb!

Exploring the Endrick Valley

The Endrick Valley in high summer with the Campsie Fells in the background.

As well as walking, I also enjoy taking rides on my mountain bike outside the village to explore the Endrick Valley, especially when the light is good and strong. The Nikon binoculars are easy to carry in a padded case with a good neck strap, and as soon as I arrive at a suitable vantage point, I dismount the bike, fetch my binocular and drink up the views. The wide-angle eyepieces in the Nikon EIIs are ideally suited for studying landscapes like this beautiful place on the backroad to the nearby village of Balfron, with fields that seem to go on forever and verdant hills on either side towering majestically above the valley floor. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a glimpse of a Red Kite or Sparrow Hawk surveying the fields below for prey. Places like this are ideal for watching migrating geese moving in graceful formation for miles across the valley, but also to watch large groups of Starlings return from their feeding grounds down in the fields to their roosting spots in nearby woods and high up on cliff edges.

Scotland is blessed by regular rainfall that keeps the fields and hills vibrant and colourful. Often a few days of rain are followed by settled weather with blue skies and excellent visibility affording ideal conditions to enjoy binocular views to the full. The evening I took the above picture was just a day after the summer solstice after 8pm in the evening. Indeed, during high summer, the skies this far north never get truly dark, and twilight rules the wee small hours. If the sky remains clear, I’ll bring my binocular along for a walk up the castle drive after local midnight to study the ghostly wisps of noctilucent clouds located high in the stratosphere, where its constituent ice crystals are illuminated from the Sun just below the horizon.

Noctilucent clouds over Srtonend, Stirlingshire, 1.30 am, June 16 2023.

Many folk mistake these clouds for auroral displays since they too are seen hugging the northern horizon. But unlike the aurora borealis, noctilucent clouds can be studied using binoculars, with the 10x glass being my instrument of choice to garner that little bit extra detail.  Sometimes the views can be downright enchanting. Delicate gossamer streams of light, like some kind of giant, luminous spider web, fill the field of view with a backdrop of the deep, purple twilight..Noctilucent clouds are best observed between the end of May and the end of July, after which they vanish with the arrival of dark skies once again. They are part of the magic of living at such high northerly latitudes.

Among the Thistles

A field ripe with thistles, Early September 2023.

The first week in September brought lovely warm weather to our shores, creating a brief Indian Summer of sorts. I took advantage of the amenable warm spell with its wonderful light to venture along to the old village football field on the afternoon of Sunday September 3, which can be accessed via a short walk through the woods. This time of year, the prickly purple thistle flowers had transformed into a sea of white seeds, with a texture more like cotton than anything else. As I made my way along the path in the middle of the field, I soon honed in on the tinkling trills of Goldfinches. A gentle breeze was blowing, carrying off some of the seeds into the air, but as I began to glass the field with my little 8 x 30, I soon uncovered a group of Siskins and Goldfinches, tiny birds perched on the tops of the thistles dancing on the breeze in gentle autumn sunlight.

I stood in sheer amazement as I observed how beautifully dextrous these 17g wonders of God’s creation were, so effortlessly maintaining their balance on the thistle heads, gorging on the seeds all the while.  Being rather timorous, I could not get too close to the action though, and I soon pined for my 10 x 35 glass which would have brought me that little bit closer to the action.  However, the next day was almost a carbon copy of Sunday, so I took the opportunity to return to the field with my 10x glass. I was not disappointed. Soon I was glassing an even larger group of Goldfinches, the majority of which were juveniles, based on their paler facial colours, helping themselves to the nutritious thistle embryos. The views through the 10 x 35 were quite simply breath taking! Keeping as still as I could, I was able to glass some individuals as close as 8m away, the glass producing exquisitely fine details of their plumage. And sure enough, there were some Siskins in among them too. I watched them for about 15 minutes before they moved on in unison to the next thistle bed further along the field. When I returned home, I consulted by newly acquired guidebook of British Birds only to discover on page 496 that Goldfinches and Siskins do indeed hang out together. I remembered the many entries in my journal where I’d recorded these birds together earlier in the Spring, when I’d often catch them feasting on Dandelion seeds at the sides of the roads. Just charming!

Birds of a feather really do flock together!

The Night I Watched the Moon Speed Through the Heavens

Moon Watching September 29 2023.

The night of September 29 2023 was particularly memorable. A bright Harvest Moon was in the sky, but strong westerly winds brought frequent rain showers in from the Atlantic, with some brief dry spells. I have come to love such nights; drawn outside by the energy of the air and the prospect of seeing one of nature’s most beautiful light shows. Grabbing my 10 x 35, the ideal tool for watching our natural satellite owing to its powerful magnification and relatively enormous field of view, I watched as the rain clouds raced past its silvery face, creating wonderful displays of light and colour.  As the clouds approached the Moon, atmospheric refraction coloured them in beautiful pastels of yellow, pink and red. But the winds were so strong that night that it created the distinct impression that the Moon was racing through space at breakneck speed! I had watched the full Moon many times before on such atmospheric evenings, but on this vigil a wonderful shift in perspective switched reality for illusion; but oh what a thrilling illusion it turned out to be!

Not Just for Dry Days

Don’t let let rain dampen your enthusiasm.

The Nikon EIIs are often described as ‘fair weather binoculars’ owing to their lack of waterproofing. But that has not deterred me from using them in adverse conditions. In general, I don’t like glassing in the rain, as the visibility becomes very poor, especially at distance, but the Scottish weather is so changeable that inevitably you’ll find yourself exposed to the odd downpour. Last winter, I discovered a way to dry the interior of these instruments simply by storing them in a dry, airtight Tupperware box filled with about 200g of desiccant which renders them functionally fog proof. But I have used them in light rain many times too, and simply don’t worry about them. They’re effectively splash proof as they are. When I return home, I simply dry them off with a cotton towel before returning them to their dry box. On days where I’m out for several hours at a time in unsettled weather, I carry a lightweight case to protect the instruments from the worse of the rain.

Case Closed.

Thus far, I’ve not encountered any problems with moisture. Indeed, I downright refuse to let their lack of sealing deter me from using them. Many resourceful outdoor enthusiasts used instruments like these for many decades before waterproofing became fashionable. I’m happy to carry on that tradition!

Jay Watching

The Eurasian Jay.

As a beginning birder, it’s always a thrill to encounter new birds on one or more of my local
patches. Living just outside Culcreuch Castle Estate, Stirlingshire, I’m fortunate enough to have extensive woodland on my doorstep, where I’ve logged many an interesting bird, but it’s only recently that I’ve discovered a rather elusive resident to these woods; the colourful and clever Eurasian Jay(Garrulus glandarius). The woodlands on the estate are a mixture of conifer and deciduous species, especially oak trees, some of which are many centuries old. On my walks, either alone or with my wife, my first encounter with Jays came in the form of loud, rasping screeches emanating from patches of woodland just off the road. At first, I thought these sounds were rather like Magpies, but having studied the latter in greater detail, I realised that I was dealing with an entirely different creature. For several months, I recorded their sounds to get an idea of their distribution, and gradually learned that they inhabit a large swathe of wooded terrain extending over a few miles around the estate. Throughout the spring and summer of 2021, I never once caught sight of one, and had to contend myself with hearing their distinctive calls.
A British Bird of Paradise

But my luck changed during the afternoon of November 29 2021. On this grey, overcast day, I was testing a new 10 x 42 binocular while strolling through the old football field about half a mile from my home. The field is straddled by wooded terrain on either side, but at this time of year the lack of foliage allows me to penetrate these areas better with binoculars. I was suddenly alerted to some loud calls issuing from trees about 30 yards in the distance. And when I turned to fix my eyes on the spot, I was met with sudden flashes of colour – electric blue, white and salmon pink moving among the trees. Bringing the glass to my face, I was amazed to see a stunningly beautiful bird; an adult Eurasian Jay in all its glory. Slightly smaller than a Wood Pigeon, it had a raised crest on its head, a coal black ‘moustache’ and pink belly. Its wings were arrayed with black, white and blue feathers with a long, handsome black tail. A few moments later, it took to the air, flying the full breadth of the field, when I estimated its wingspan to be about half a metre, landing in some trees surrounded by thick bushes, before disappearing out of sight. I remember thinking how fortunate I was to have a 10x glass with me at the time, as it afforded that little bit more image scale to allow me to see it in greater detail.


Over the weeks leading up to Christmas 2021, I read up about these fascinating birds. The first surprise came when I learned that, unlike so many other birds where the males are more highly coloured than their female counterparts, both sexes of the Jay – and juveniles too for that matter – present with similar colouration. And though their average lifespan is about four years, some Jays have been known to live to the ripe old age of 17! The Anglo-Argentine ornithologist, W.H. Hudson, writing in Victorian times, once referred to Jays as being,” not altogether unworthy of being called the British Bird of Paradise.” As my curiosity about these birds grew, I began to think that Hudson’s astute description of this bird was not too far off the mark.

In the opening weeks of January 2022, I was lucky enough to enjoy a few more sightings of
these curious birds. More often than not, I’d hear them far more often than I’d see them, but on the afternoon of January 15, I was glassing through some brushwood under trees and caught sight of one, hopping about silently in search of food; quite possibly buried acorns. Unlike the ubiquitous Blackbird or Robin, which move through the leaflitter randomly dislodging leaves or twigs in search of worms or other insects, this Jay cleared a large, roughly circular area of litter before using its beak to dig into the topsoil. This was not the behaviour of a happy-go-lucky forager; I got the distinct impression this bird knew there was something worth digging for at that spot.

Just a couple of days later, at the entrance to the football field, I got my best sighting yet of this fascinating bird. It was a bright, sunny afternoon with excellent visibility. Instantly alerted to its distinctive calls, I looked up into a tall conifer tree and spotted one flitting from branch to branch. It became very vocal, so much so that it was irritating a whole raft of other birds that were also resting in the tree. An unhinged Nuthatch clearly had enough of the kafuffle, flying off, as if in protest. As I brought my binocular to my eyes, I could see the Jay was staring right back at me with its gorgeous yellow eyes and upraised head crest. A few moments later, it too flew off, across the field.

Mimicking a Buzzard?

On the chilly and partially overcast morning of January 20, another visit to the old football field yielded a sighting of not one but two foraging Jays! Once again, they were completely silent, even as a vocalising Buzzard hovered high overhead, hopping about on the ground picking and digging. From the beginning of my birdwatching forays, I frequented this spot because I would almost always see Buzzards here. But on the afternoon of January 22, as I walked by the River Endrick, which runs adjacent to the field, I sighted a single Jay, some 40 yards distant, perched on a tree stump surrounded by Rhododendron bushes. It was preening itself and sharpening its beak, but there was something else; I could hear the sound of a Buzzard coming from the same general direction as the Jay. I scanned the skies round about, hoping to pick up its movements, but to no avail. Puzzled, I centred my gaze back on the Jay, and once again, I heard the sound of a Buzzard. Then it dawned on me, I had learned that these clever corvids mimic the sounds of other birds. Could I have witnessed such an event? Like many true birds of paradise, was this colourful Jay also displaying its powers of mimicry? Alas I couldn’t be sure, but it certainly was
intriguing!


An Enduring Fascination
My journals record only a few sightings during the summer months of 2022 and 2023, but in the autumn the Jays of Culcreuch Castle Estate have become very vocal and active again, as they flit from tree to tree in search of acorns. Some days I return from my walks without sighting or hearing a single bird, but on other days, I’ve been thrilled to hear their distinctive communication calls and sight several members of the group in the space of a few minutes. My personal ‘discovery’ of groups of Jays eking out a living at some of my local patches has been nothing short of thrilling! I look forward to watching and studying these fascinating “British Birds of Paradise” in the months and years to come.

Preparing for Winter

Objective covers for the 8 x 30. Neat huh?

Having used both the 8 x 30 an 10 x 35 extensively in the field, I’ve come to prefer the ergonomics of the larger 10 x 35 glass. It’s just that little bit easier to hold with its longer barrels that engage with the fingers on my hands that little bit better.

A while back I purchased some objective covers for the 8 x 30; simple rubberised units with the same leatherette texturing as seen on the chassis – what a stroke of luck! They fit remarkably well, as seen in the images presented here. Indeed, placing both instruments side by side, they look remarkably similar don’t you think?

Snug fit and deeply recessed objectives.

The objective covers also act as effective shades against rain, wind, extraneous light and very cold air, which might cause the objective lenses to fog up after exposing them for several hours. I fitted them onto the 8 x 30 this afternoon and tested their effectiveness at reducing glare- peripheral and veiling – when tested under less-than-optimal lighting conditions when most binoculars show weaknesses in this capacity.

The 10 x 35 and 8 x 30 side by side. But which one’s which?

I can report that these kinds of glare are further reduced using these neat little objective covers. What’s more, they are very lightweight so don’t significantly increase carrying load. I think they will increase my enjoyment of this little instrument throughout the winter months when dull overcast conditions will create more challenges.

Return of the Migrating Thrushes

A Redwing in a Rowan tree: October 31 2021.

During the afternoon of October 19, I was carrying the Oberwerk SE when I got my first view of migrating Redwings at one of my local patches, inside the grounds of Culcreuch Castle Estate. During my walk, I sighted a group of birds flitting from tree to tree in an open field. At first, I thought they were Starlings, but once I got a little closer I managed to glass a few individuals perched high in the treetops, the prominent cream stripe above their eyes and brick-red underparts betraying their presence. On the bright and sunny afternoon of October 21, I took along my 10 x 35 Nikon to the same spot to see if I could garner a closer look at these beautiful members of the Thush family. Once again, I scanned with my eyes looking for movements in the trees, as Redwings are quite timorous and tend to move to the tree tops if they sense danger. No sign of them on this afternoon, but I had the presence of mind to scan the field at ground level and it wasn’t long before I made my first(conscious) sighting of another relative of the Thush family – Fieldfares – in their dozens, foraging on the ground in search of food. Both Redwings and Fieldfares travel to the British Isles in autumn from northwestern Europe.  I was so glad I brought the 10x glass on this afternoon. It really does help you see these magnificent birds at greater distance without disturbing them too much.

Enjoying Autumn Colours

Like, seriously, who could paint like that?

Fall brings cold nights, early sunsets and damp or even frosty mornings,  but we can all recognise the tell-tale signs of that seasonal transition in the riot of colour from the dying leaves. 

There is something utterly magical and beautiful about these closing months of the year; the smells, the sounds, the long, invigorating walks through country paths laden with fallen leaves. The fields are still green, the bracken paints the hillsides a deep brown and the trees are arrayed in yellows, reds, oranges and golds, providing a breath-taking backdrop to clear autumn skies of cobalt blue.

Our God is a great artist!

These scenes create an irresistible urge for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike to seek inspiration from the great outdoors. This is a perfect time to enjoy the views through my 8 x 30 and 10 x 35 which deliver radiant colours to my retina especially during the late morning and early afternoon when the light is still good and strong. It’s only later in the afternoon where these small glasses show their limitations and it’s a good time to switch to an instrument that lets through more light: times when I switch to my 8 x 42 with its larger objectives and more expansive exit pupil. 

While Redwings and Fieldfares make great glassing targets this time of year, so too are the cute little Robins looking plump and handsome: a far cry from their dishevelled appearance earlier in the season. They’re everywhere: in the hedgerows, trees, and foraging in the leaf litter on the country roads. I never tire of glassing these beautiful small birds, especially when they suddenly appear within a few metres of you; all plucky and pretty with it. Their energy levels are prodigious too- no doubt attributed to their ferocious hearts beating some 1000 times per minute! 

Their eyes are big and dark: proportionally larger than humans in fact, which greatly endears them to so many people. And if you think Robins are most commonly seen this time of year, the truth is they are probably more commonly heard than seen. That’s because they continue to sing throughout the late autumn and winter when many small birds fall silent. Indeed, within minutes of me leaving the house I can hear their boisterous trilling all over the place. 

Murmurations

Murmurating Starlings.

I spoke earlier about glassing Starlings, both in Ireland and in Scotland. While I’ve seen large groups of these fascinating birds resting in trees or foraging in the fields round my home. My journals had catalogued many observations of small,  fast-moving groups of Starlings moving south across the valley in the evenings. But just before sunset on November 19,  while on a walk with my wife around Culcreuch Castle Estate, we followed a group of low-flying birds with our binoculars. But instead of just disappearing over the horizon,they joined a much larger group which began to move in unison with graceful swoops and swirls, contracting and expanding against a clear twilit sky. We continued to watch for several more seconds before this great communion of Starlings finally dipped below the horizon out of sight. This was the first murmuration we had personally encountered. And the very next evening, I encountered yet another one! 

No one knows why Starlings engage in these spectacular aerial displays. Some biologists have suggested ‘safety in numbers’  as an effective deterrent to birds of prey but there are many other species that roost in similar numbers and they don’t behave the same way. Doubtless it must also have something to so with their high intelligence. They’re excellent mimics. Indeed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was so taken by the copycat antics of one Starling that he is rumoured to have composed his ‘Musical Joke’ in honour of it! 

Recent research suggests that each individual bird can only communicate with seven other birds in their vicinity. And each of these heptads in turn communicate with neighbouring heptads in such a way that the flock can quickly move with astonishing synchronicity, like one giant organism. I like to think that Starlings engage in murmurations simply because they can. And they delight in it!

Regardless of whys and wherefores, it’s arguably one of Britain’s most awesome natural spectacles. Look out for them near sunset wherever you are! 

The Glories of the Winter Sky

9pm January 11 2024: looking south.

The days of mid-winter are woefully short this far north. The best of the light is to be had for just a few hours between 11am and 2pm and darkness falls by 4. With these very long nights, it should come as no surprise that I spend more time watching the heavens with my binoculars and telescopes than observing by day. Double stars and Jupiter occupy most of my telescope time but I also enjoy drinking up the views of the great showpieces of the winter sky. By midnight in mid December, Orion the celestial hunter is perfectly situated on the meridian with the splendours of Taurus higher up to its west, while off to the east, Gemini and  Cancer are becoming more prominent. Higher up in the sky, the sprawling constellations of Auriga, Perseus and Cassiopeia follow that majestic river of starlight characterising the Northern Milky Way.

10x is my preferred magnification for casual binocular stargazing. For serious observing, I’ll choose a traditional 10 x 50, but for tomfoolery stargazing with a handheld optic, my favourite instrument to grab is the Nikon EII 10 x 35 with its expansive 7.2 degree field. The small exit pupil of 3.5mm presented by this instrument reveal the stars as tiny pinpoints of light against a jet black background sky. Even in the twilit nights of our northern summer, the 10 x 35 darkens the background sky enough to make stargazing eminently viable. The same is true on bright Moonlit nights when the 10 x 35 struts its stuff. Indeed, since acquiring this instrument back in the late spring of 2023, it has utterly transformed and enriched my binocular stargazing adventures.

To be Continued……

De Fideli.

Lights in the Sky- Seeing Through The UFO Phenomenon.

At the end of June 2021, after months of hype all over the internet and a string of sensationalized reports by the main stream media, the Pentagon released a 9 page report1 on the subject of 144 Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs)or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena(UAP) documented in recent years by the US government. Millions of people all over the world anxiously awaited the findings from that report but were ultimately left disappointed and frustrated because the same report was completely inconclusive and never even mentioned the word ” extra-terrestrial” or ” alien.” Instead, the report merely stated that,

“Most of the UAP reported probably do represent physical objects, given that a majority of UAP were registered across multiple sensors, to include radar, infrared, electro-optical, weapon seekers and visual observation1.

But the Pentagon report was presaged by further hype fuelled by Harvard Astronomer, Avi Loeb, who released a sensational book, Extra-terrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life beyond Earth2, in February 2021, in which he claimed that an asteroid nicknamed Oumuamua, which passed through the outer solar system in a highly unusual orbit in late 2018, displayed signs of artificiality, both in terms of its of movements and physical properties. Since then, several natural explanations have been forwarded by scientists to explain the behaviour of Oumuamua, but predictably, those were largely ignored by the media. A few months earlier in December 2020, Haim Eshed, a retired army general and former head of Israel’s Defence Ministry’s space directorate, claimed in an interview that Earth has been contacted by a “galactic federation” of extraterrestrials,3 and that “they have been waiting until today for humanity to develop and reach a stage where we will understand, in general, what space and spaceships are.”

Then on July 26 2023, the US Air Force officer and former intelligence official David Grusch appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Authority, giving testimony on the government’s alleged coverup of evidence of Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs), relating to the congressional committee that the US government were in possession of physical alien spacecraft since the 1930s, with evidence that included not only large components of the spacecraft but “biologic material” as well.

Stories such as these form the basis of a multi-million-dollar industry in the form of books, documentaries, the internet and Hollywood Sci-Fi blockbusters, entertaining countless millions of curious individuals across the world. But why are some people captivated with UFOs and extra-terrestrials and on what basis do they believe in their existence? Furthermore, how should we, as Christians, respond to such events?

 Test everything; hold fast to what’s good4

That famous quote from St. Paul, writing to the Church in Thessalonica, provides a great place to start. The secular world has been fed a staple diet of evolutionary ‘science’ that powerfully affects the way many people think. The reasoning sounds both rational and straightforward, at first glance; life evolved on Earth and our planet is one of countless quadrillions scattered across the Universe. Life therefore must have taken hold on many worlds, and in many epochs, so it’s reasonable to expect that intelligent spacefaring aliens exist.  Unfortunately, though, the latest science is casting severe doubts on this worldview.

For one thing, there are now serious doubts that evolution, as described by biologists, really happened. The origin of life is a profound mystery and given the astonishing complexity of even the simplest living cells, there is effectively zero chance that it happened by accident5. Indeed, it is arguably true that understanding how the first living cells came into being represents the greatest scientific problem of all time. Added to this, the explosive origin of most of the advanced animal body plans in existence today which emerged within a geological ‘blink of an eye’ in an event called the Cambrian Explosion, has still not been explained to any degree of satisfaction by evolutionary biologists.  Furthermore, the fossil record, which scientists have now unearthed in great detail, doesn’t show any evolutionary progression over the 3.8 billion years or so since its inception. Instead, it reveals many extirpation events followed by equally rapid speciation episodes, in contrast to the expected gradualism of Darwinian evolution. Simply put, we can be reasonably confident that if a scientific theory approaches the truth, the uncertainties become smaller over time. The problem with the evolutionary paradigm is the opposite – the error bars are increasing… and rapidly.

Coupled to this is the growing realization that most of the planets orbiting other stars, both within our galaxy and in myriad other galaxies scattered across the cosmos, are now considered very unlikely to harbour habitable worlds. For example, as much as 80 or 90 per cent of all the stars that exist are cool red and brown dwarfs that would require their habitable planets to be located far too close to their surfaces to be warm enough to allow liquid water to exist. Yet the same stars are highly unstable, firing off dangerous high energy flares and ferocious stellar winds that would damage fragile living systems5. What’s more, when you factor in all the other requirements for a viable biosphere, Earth stands out like a proverbial sore thumb as being very special indeed!

We therefore suffer somewhat from what scientists call observational bias;  because we see our planet teeming over with life, we naturally assume the same thing happened on countless other worlds.  But, as the distinguished organic chemist, James Tour, quipped.

 “Life should not exist. This much we know from chemistry. In contrast to the ubiquity of life on Earth, the lifelessness of other planets makes far better chemical sense5.”

In addition to these problems, there are real issues trying to explain how physical beings could traverse the vast distances of interstellar space, as well as surviving the enormous forces they would encounter in manoeuvring in the spectacular ways they do in recorded video footage. Indeed, there is a real possibility that these recordings are part of some greater, overarching deception.

Biblical Guidance

If there is life out there, and intelligent life in particular, it must have been placed there by God. Yet the Biblical narrative gives us other clues about whether space-faring ETs exist or not.  The secular world view posits that humans emerged from other lifeforms accidently, but the Bible makes it clear that the Earth was first prepared before humankind was placed here. Living things made Earth habitable for humans and continue to provide a life-support system for human flourishing. Would God create worlds packed with life without placing sentient beings on them? That’s a good question, but I suspect not.

Similar conclusions are reached by the Christian astronomer and young earth creationist, Danny Faulkner(PhD Astronomy Indiana University), in his book, UFOs & ETs; a Biblical and Cultural Exploration of Aliens.6 Faulkner squarely lays the blame with the brainwashing of the general public in accepting evolutionary thought:

“We must realize that nearly all discussion about such matters has been within an evolutionary framework. That worldview assumes the plurality of worlds-that life has arisen on many other planets in the universe, and that life on at least some of those planets is intelligent. Hence, in the evolutionary worldview one might expect that extra-terrestrial aliens will visit Earth from time to time. However, Christians ought not to adopt an evolutionary worldview. Instead, we ought to base what we think about on the Bible, not the ideas of men. Evolution is clearly contrary to Scripture, and so life only exists where God created it. While the Bible does not explicitly state that God created life only on Earth, the clear implication from Scripture is that God made life only on Earth and that man is the centre of God’s attention. Therefore, within a Biblical worldview, one would reject the plurality of worlds idea and would not expect extra-terrestrial aliens to have visited Earth(or even to exist)6.”

Furthermore, we read in the passages of Scripture that Jesus died “once for all7.”  If there are other civilizations out there, did Jesus die for them too? Some theologians have suggested that these beings might have not fallen, as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden, and so were in no need of a Saviour. But we read that the entire creation is groaning8 and that God has reserved this current Universe for a fiery destruction9. If those putative civilisations exit elsewhere in the Universe, they too will perish and that would make God a monster, which is clearly a theological non sequitur!

 Occult Connections

But there appears to be a more sinister façade to UFOs(or UAPs) and ETs. Many in-depth studies conducted over many decades have shown a strong connection between these phenomena and the occult, and which often involve narratives that serve to undermine Christianity in particular. In their now classic work, Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men: A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and Extraterrestrials9, astronomer Hugh Ross, theologian, Kenneth Samples, and political scientist, Mark Clark, showcase many studies linking the obsession of the New Age movement with extra-terrestrials and flying saucers. They conclude that, while most of these sightings can be discounted by natural phenomena, hoaxes or human-made technological devices, a small number of residual cases cannot be explained away and display properties that suggest that they are real but non-physical in nature, that is, these events are demonic in nature and represent deceptions by fallen angels who can move inter-dimensionally, at one moment looking real and the next, vanishing into thin air. In this capacity, The UFO phenomenon could well be part of an End Times deception.

To my mind, our culture’s fascination with spacefaring aliens merely represents a post-modern form of pagan idolatry, a convenient distraction from the things we ought to think about. Unwilling to accept the reality of an omniscient Creator, they resort to imagining beings far in advance of our own as new gods who will solve all of humanity’s problems. Yet, as I’ve explained earlier, this is little more than fanciful thinking that has no basis in scientific reality. In short, we simply don’t expect such agencies to exist! I suspect that, in the end, the only aliens we’ll ever meet are our human neighbours. So, as Jesus taught us, we ought to love our neighbours as ourselves!

  1. https://www.dni.gov/files/ODNI/documents/assessments/Prelimary-Assessment-UAP-20210625.pdf
  2. Loeb, A., Extra-terrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life beyond Earth, Houghton Miffin Harcourt, 2021.
  3. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/weird-news/former-israeli-space-security-chief-says-extraterrestrials-exist-trump-knows-n1250333
  4. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
  5. English, N., Origin Stories, Why Life is Beginning to Seem Very Special Indeed, Salvo #50
  6. Faulkner, D., UFOs & ETs; a Biblical and Cultural Exploration of Aliens, 2015, Answers in Genesis Press.
  7. Romans 8:28
  8. Romans 6:10
  9. 2 Peter 3: 7
  10. Ross, H, Samples, K., and Clark, M., Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men: A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and Extra-terrestrials, Nav Press, 2002.

Dr Neil English has a wide academic background in biochemistry, physics, astronomy and classical studies. He’s the author of seven books in amateur and professional astronomy. His new work, Choosing and Using Binoculars: a Guide for Stargazers, Birders and Outdoor Enthusiasts, hits the shelves later this year.

De Fideli.

Further Adventures with my Nikon E Porro Prism Binoculars.

The author’s refurbished Nikon E 10 x 35(top) and his Nikon E II 8 x 30(bottom).

A Work Commenced December 6 2022

Without a doubt, one of the great highlights of my year was being introduced to the Nikon E series of Japanese-made Porro prism binoculars. Collectively these instruments have utterly transformed my opinion on the relative merits of roof over Porro prism designs, to such an extent that I’ve come out strongly in favour of the latter for daytime and night time use(using a 10 x 50 model). In this blog, I wish to discuss these fine optical instruments and what I’ve been learning about them in field use. It has also led me to carry out an investigation as to how well they perform in cold winter weather use, which will be ongoing.

First of all, I have been overjoyed by the images both these binoculars have served up in a variety of lighting conditions. The Nikon E II 8 x 30, in particular, remains my firm favourite, where it never ceases to inspire in every conceivable way. Its older cousin, a newly restored mid-1990s vintage Nikon E 10 x 35 has also impressed me as a longer range, wide-angle instrument in a lightweight, portable package.

The Move to Shorter Neck Straps

Shortening the neck strap of the 8 x 30 significantly reduces the ‘hang problem.’

One common gripe among some Nikon E II 8 x 30 users is its ‘hang problem.’ Though I never saw much of an issue with this personally, I hit on a neat solution when I swapped out the high-quality neck strap attending the E II with the 10 x 35 strap, which was significantly shorter. What did that do? Well, by resting the instrument higher on my chest, it caused the little 8 x 30 ocular lenses to orient themselves with a much smaller angle to the vertical, with the result that it now sits much more upright on my chest.

Indeed, I’ve also shortened the neck strap on the 10 x 35 so that it too sits higher on my chest, reducing the amplitude of oscillatory motion significantly. This measure will reduce shock impact in the long term, especially when negotiating walls and fences on my walks through the Scottish countryside, reducing the risk of accidental knocks and bumps and so minimising the possibility of the optics becoming misaligned over time.

The Effects of Partially Folding Down the Rubber Eyecups on the 10 x 35 

One afternoon, while glassing the landscape with my 10 x 35, I realised something was off. Specifically, unlike the 8 x 30, which showed me the beautiful field stops of the binocular with its amazing 8.8 degree field, I realised I wasn’t seeing the same on the 10 x 35. But that was easily solved by partially folding down the rubber eyecups(see the first image presented above) on the instrument, which finally enabled my eyes to engage with the full 6.6 degree field the instrument serves up. Now the field stops are beautifully apparent, and as a result I’ve come to more greatly appreciate just how wonderful it is to view the world at 10x in an expansive 6.6 degree field. Let’s face it, even with the march of time, having such a large field at 10x is still rather special. And while its newer incarnation – the venerable E II 10 x 35 – sports one of the widest fields for a 10x glass currently available(7.0 angular degrees), the field of view on the Nikon E only represents a very modest 12.5 per cent  truncation; not enough to justify acquiring the E II 10 x 35 in my opinion. The view through the Nikon E 10 x 35 is highly immersive, feeling wider than it really is owing to the excellent off-axis performance of the instrument.

The other improvement I’ve noted by partially turning down the eye cups on the 10 x 35 is significantly better glare suppression. I learned this while using a few roof prism models, most especially the Vortex Diamondback HD series, when I noted that moving the eyecup down one notch greatly improved their control over glare. The 10 x 35 now yields comparable performance to the E II 8 x 30 in this regard, which has excellent glare suppression properties.

Ongoing Cold Weather Experiments with the Nikon Porros

Test everything, Hold fast to what is good

1 Thessalonians 5:21

My exchanges on Birdforum on the alleged weakness of the Nikon E Porros in regard to not being waterproof or fog proof, left me puzzled. I asked what I felt was a completely legitimate question:

“What did folk do before the advent of full waterproofing and nitrogen gas purging?”

Were there no birders before Steiner introduced the first fog proof binocular back in 1973?

The response I got was rather telling. Only a single person(Brock) eventually gave an answer of sorts, which indicated to me that not a great deal of thought was put into this issue. Instead I got rather glib responses like, “folk moved with the times and just bought waterproof instruments.”

That wasn’t good enough for me. Several generations of birders got on just fine before such an issue was “solved.”I perceived an altogether timorous culture of individuals who simply bought into the ‘roof prism solution.’

So how did they do it? And more importantly, what could I do about it?

 I wanted to find workable solutions.

And this led me to initiate an investigation into how effective simple, interventive measures could make to keeping such instruments fog free, both internally and externally, while glassing in cold and damp conditions.

My first approach was to construct proper storage containers for my non-waterproof Nikons. Theses comprised of simple Tupperware plastic containers filled with silica gel desiccant that were both air and water tight. You can see one such arrangement in the photograph below:

My 8 x 30 in its Tupperware ‘Sarcophagus.’

My plan was to simply leave the empty Sarcophagus in a cool, dry, unheated outhouse before venturing out into the cold and humid air. Such an outhouse would be at most just a couple of degrees higher than the outside air. I would wear gloves to minimise the transfer of heat from my hands to the Magnesium alloy chassis of the binoculars. And immediately after my return from my glassing excursions, I would then place the instruments inside their containers before bringing them into a cool back lobby. Then, after a spell there, I would return them to room temperature.

Taking advantage of a cold snap, which would endure for at least a few weeks from the beginning of December 2022, I began daily experiments, taking some notes on ambient temperature, wind speed and humidity, as well as the duration of my walks. The reader will note that I did not use any anti-fogging agent during the course of these experiments. My results are published below:

Date: December 4, 8 x 30

Temperature: +4C

Wind: 11mph NE

Humidity: 70%

Time outside: 11:30-12:35 GMT

Result: Recovering from a head cold, some perspiration from my head caused the ocular lenses to fog up once externally. It dispersed within seconds. Otherwise, no problems. No internal or external fogging.

Date: December 5,  10 x 35

Temperature: +4C

Time Outside: 12:25-13:35

Wind: 8mph N

Humidity: 70%

Result: No internal or external fogging observed.

Date: December 6 , 10 x 35

Temperature: +3C

Humidity: 65%

Wind: 5mph N

Time Outside: 12:45-14:10

Result: No external or internal fogging observed.

Date: December 7, 8 x 30

Time: 11:05 – 1230

Temperature: +2C

Humidity: 84%

Wind: 6mph NW

Result: No internal or external fogging observed

Date: December 8, 8 x 30

Time: 11:15-12:30

Temperature: -1C

Humidity: 73%

Wind: 6mph N

Result: Some occasional fogging on right ocular lens, quickly dispersed. No fogging internally or externally observed when placed back in container.

Date: December 9, 10 x 35

Time: 12:30 – 13:40

Temperature: 0C

Humidity: 78%

Wind: 6mph NW

Result: No internal or external fogging observed.

Date: December 10, 8 x 30

Time: 12:45-14:10

Temperature:: +2C

Humidity: 81%

Wind: 6mph N

Result: No internal or external fogging observed.

Date: December 11, 10 x 35

Time: 12:55-14:05

Temperature: 0C

Humidity: 70%

Wind: 8mph NW

Result: No internal or external fogging observed.

Date: December 12, 8 x 30:

Time: 11:55-13:10

Temperature: -3C

Humidity: 88 %

Wind: None

Result: Right ocular fogged up a few times but dispersed rapidly, otherwise no internal or external fogging observed.

Date: December 13, 10 x 35

Time: 11:55-13:10

Temperature: -4C

Humidity: 94%

Wind: None

Result: A couple of instances of fogging to ocular lenses, quickly dispersed, but otherwise no internal or external fogging observed.

Date: December 14, 8 x 30

Time: 1200:13:10

Temperature: -2C

Humidity: 82%

Wind: 11mph NW

Result: No internal or external fogging observed

Date: December 15, 10 x 35

Time: 12:05-13:15

Temperature: -1C

Humidity: 94%

Wind: 3mph NW

Result: No internal or external fogging observed.

Date: December 16, 8 x 30

Time: 13:45-14:45

Temperature: +3C

Humidity: 83%

Wind: 9mph SSW

Result: Exposed to sleet and light rain, visibility poor. Chassis covered with some precipitation and droplets also deposited on ocular lenses. Instrument & strap was dried externally with cotton towel and a lens cleaning cloth used to rub away precipitation on ocular lenses before returning it to its Tupperware container. No internal or external fogging observed.

Date: December 18, 10 x 35

Time: 10:55-12:10

Temperature: +2C

Humidity: 85%

Wind: 8mph ENE

Result: No internal or external fogging observed.

Date: December 19, 10 x 35

Time: 12:15- 13: 25

Temperature: +12C

Humidity: 91%

Wind: 16mph S

Results: No gloves worn, some intermittent light rain encountered greatly reducing visibility. Water on chassis and strap removed with a cotton towel. No fogging observed externally or internally.

Date: December 20, 8 x 30

Time: 13:10-1415

Temperature: +7C

Humidity: 72%

Wind: 16mph SW

Result: No gloves worn, encountered one brief rain shower on the road. Instrument dried with cotton towel before being returned to Tupperware container. No internal or external fogging observed.

Conclusions: This two-week +-long study, conducted over a long cold spell, as well as some drizzly days show that these non-waterproof Porro prism binoculars fare just fine, so long as some simple interventive measures are set in place like wearing gloves when the temperatures are low, and returning the instruments slowly to ambient temperature once returned to their desiccant filled Tupperware containers. Some fogging of the ocular lenses tends to occur on colder days with reduced wind, but that’s exactly the same for waterproof roof prism binoculars, as my parallel experiences attest to(data not shown).

The results contradict those who claim that Porro prism binoculars are only fair weather glasses. To you I say:

Lazy, Scaremongering Killjoys!

You’re not credible!

This is yet another manifestation of our current “Big Jessie” culture, where “safetyism” is taken to extremes.

Don’t be a snowflake, and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t use them in winter conditions for ordinary activities, including walks in the outdoors up to at least 90 minutes duration. 

These results will be apprised in my up-and-coming book.

Some Highlights from my Winter Glassing

I’ve been really spoiled by the views these two high-class Porros have generated during the painfully short days of a Scottish Winter. To make the most of the light, it pays to get out in the late morning or early afternoon, as after about 2pm local time, the Sun sinks below the hills greatly diminishing the quality of light available in the valley. Still, the low altitude of the mid-Winter Sun illumines the Fintry Hills to the east of my home in unique ways. Hunting Buzzards are quite common sights this time of year. Often, I see them being harassed by crows which create fascinating aerial displays. The snow-capped summits reveal captivating details and when it thaws and melts, I’ve been mesmerized by the cascades of water tumbling back down into the valley. I’ve enjoyed watching Jacob’s sheep foraging on the land near my home, with their thick winter fleece contrasted against the blinding white of snow-covered fields. On other days, I’ve been lucky enough to glass small groups of Redwings wintering here. And while out for a saunter on the Castle drive, I’ve been lucky enough to watch battalions of Chaffinch, Bullfinch and even the odd Stonechat foraging in the leaflitter at the side of the road. I’ve also been delighted by watching the acrobatic displays of Red Squirrels negotiating the conifer trees around Culcreuch Castle Estate. They’re certainly making a comeback around these parts!

One of the great virtues of both the 8 x 30 and 10 x 35 is their instant optical gratification. Despite their smaller exit pupils, they never induce blackouts unlike many wide-angle roof prism binoculars I’ve tested. They also serve up uniquely immersive views, with their wonderful wide-angle optics, as well as the unmistakable impression of being embedded in the image. I’ve come to appreciate the 10 x 35 in recent weeks. Its stereoscopic qualities really stand out when viewing targets in the middle distance. I’ve been captivated by the River Endrick, watching the water undulate as it flows over rocks beneath it. Scanning the hills with the 10 x 35 is also immensely enjoyable, with tall conifer trees swaying in the foreground against the soaring crags in the background. You really get a much more heightened sense of spatial awareness while viewing through the 10x glass over the lower powered 8x instrument. I find I can hand hold the lightweight 10 x 35 more steadily than a typical 10 x 42 roof prism instrument. Maybe it’s the way my hands engage with the chassis or maybe it’s attributed to its greater proximity to my centre of gravity.  I don’t know exactly. But what I can tell you is that the 10 x 35 Nikon E affords a unique viewing experience possibly only matched by its newer incarnation – the venerable Nikon E II 10 x 35. You really have to look through it to fully appreciate its enchanting qualities!

The 10 x 35 also delivers its charms on the night sky in spades. There is nothing quite like it actually. The smaller exit pupil darkens the sky background allowing the refulgent beauty of the Winter stars to really stand out. I’ve been enjoying views of the Pleaides and the Hyades with this glass; the 10x magnification and wide, engaging field of view working together to create unforgettable viewing experiences, especially now when they transit the meridian before local midnight. The Sword Handle of Orion is also a favourite target with this instrument as it’s so comfortable to view just above the leafless trees to my south. And after it culminates, I’ve very much enjoyed observing brilliant Sirius – The Rainbow Star – not far from the southern horizon coruscating wildly in gorgeous pastels of red, green, blue, purple and white as the light differentially refracts as it passes through turbulent Winter air. That’s just one of the advantages of having the brightest star in the celestial realm so low down in my local skies. Finally, in the wee small hours of the morning, with no Moon in the sky, those wondrously dark winter skies here in rural central Scotland have shown me some of the most beautiful and compelling handheld views of Praesepe and the Beehive Cluster in Cancer with the 10 x 35. It’s almost as if this binocular were tailor made to contemplate such things!

Now that the Winter Solstice has finally arrived, daylight will get longer as the Sun begins its preordained sojourn north again. Roll on the Spring and the long days of Summer!

Post Scriptum: December 26 2022

I’d like to report the results of two more experiments.

It occurred to me that a small binocular like the E II 8 x 30 being stored in a water and airtight Tupperware container with desiccant at room temperature will allow efficient diffusion of gases. The container has 20 sachets each containing 10g of activated silica gel. That ought to create a strong concentration gradient for the net diffusion of a small molecule like water vapour (molecular weight 18 which is considerably smaller than the average molecular weight of air) out of the inside of the binocular. Such a long-term storage strategy ought to thoroughly dehydrate the air in the interior of the instrument. And if that were true, I reasoned, it wouldn’t matter if I treated the binocular like any waterproof, nitrogen-gas-filled roof prism instrument. It should not fog up internally under any conditions so long as I kept to this storage routine.

I can now disclose the result of two further experiments. At five to midnight on Christmas day, I ventured outside with the EII 8 x 30. Temperature +2C, 75% humidity. The sky was clear and I enjoyed 45 minutes of stargazing wearing only light gloves. But instead of returning the instrument to the Tupperware container at the same temperature as the ambient outside air, I just brought it straight inside the house(temperature +20C) like I do with my water and fogproof roofs. The chassis quickly became covered in water as the cold metal encountered the warm inside air. The outer lenses fogged up, as I expected, but after a few minutes, I could see that the interior of the binocular did not fog up. Once it was dried down and left to further air dry, the inside remained crystal clear; no internal fogging observed! I then returned the instrument to its Tupperware container.

In a further experiment conducted on Boxing Day, I ventured out for a two hour glassing session. Temperature +3, 85 per cent humidity. This time I did not wear gloves (I did miss them however as the magnesium alloy chassis really gets cold fast). Time 12:00-14:00. Once again, I brought the instrument straight into my living room(temperature +21C) and watched what happened: once again, the chassis rapidly became drenched with condensed water, and the outer lenses fogged up. But after some of the water evaporated away, I could see that the inside of the instrument was crystal clear, with no signs of fogging. Once all the water had dispersed from the outer lenses, the instrument showed no fogging internally!

Conclusion: Storing the Nikon E II 8x 30 in this desiccant laden Tupperware container prevents internal fogging. Because the air is dry inside the instrument it should not fog up in any realistic situation I will encounter. No need to acclimatise the Tupperware container either. I can use it in much the same way as a modern roof prism binocular.

Yeeeehaaaw!

De Fideli.

Spectrum.

Take a Closer Look.

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.                                                   

                                                                                                            John 8:31-32

 

 

In this blog, I’ll be exploring subjects of general interest/concern, as our societies become increasingly wicked, depraved and deceived.

 

The Dark Side of Transgender Medicine

 

How the Media Manipulates Truth

 

Cogito Ergo Sum

 

The Secular Case Against Homosexuality

 

Our Fragile Home

 

The Anti-Social Network

 

A Form of Child Abuse

 

Cool stuff you never hear in Church

 

The Rise of Homeschooling

 

James Clerk Maxwell: a Great Life Lived

 

Reasonable Faith: An Interview with Professor Alvin Plantinga

 

Doubting Dodgy Science

 

Evaluating World Views

 

Depraved Minds

 

The Beauty of the Creation

 

The Preciousness of Free Speech

 

Walking your Way to Good Health

 

Did the Eye Really Evolve?

 

Unholy Alliance: when Dodgy Science Merges with Theology

 

The Truth about UFOs

 

The Rise of Neo-Paganism

 

From Spiritual Shipwreck to Salvation

 

The Rise in Euthanasia Killings

 

The Greatest Story Ever Told

 

Holocaust Survivor

 

Coming Soon to a Town Near You: The Rise of Bestiality

 

The Death of Naturalism

 

From Gaypo to Paedo

 

When Scientists Lose the Plot

 

The Sixth Mass Extinction Event in Our Midst

 

‘Depth Charging’ the Values of the Ancient World

 

The Truth about the Fossil Record

 

AI

 

The Language Instinct

 

Not the Same God

 

Greening the Deserts

 

Moving the Herds

 

Evolutionary Atheist gets his Facts Wrong…..Again

 

Distinguished MIT Nuclear Physicist Refutes Scientism

 

Pursuing Truth

 

The Dangers of Yoga

 

Pseudoastronomy

 

Get thee right up thyself! : The New Transhumanist Religion

 

The Biblical Origin of Human Rights and why it’s a Problem for Atheists

 

A Closer Look at the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

 

Winds of Change: Prestigious Science Journal Concedes Design

 

A Distinguished Chemist Speaks the Truth

 

The Scourge of Pornography

 

Eye

 

Bart Ehrman Debunked

 

An Evil Generation Seeks After a Sign

 

Decimation of Global Insect Populations

 

The Spiritual Suicide of a Once Christian Nation

 

Mass Animal Deaths Worldwide

 

Not Going Anywhere

 

UN Report: World’s Food Supply under ‘Severe Threat’ from Loss of Biodiversity

 

False gods of the New Age

 

From Abortion to Infanticide in the “Land of the Free”

 

Sports Personalities Speak Out Over Transgender Athletes

 

Magonus Sucatus Patricius

 

Celebrating a Killing

 

Human “Out of Africa” Theory Debunked

 

The Other Side of the Rainbow

 

Vintage James Tour: How to Cook Up a Proto-Turkey

 

Big Brother Watching

 

Follow the Evidence: The Problem of Orphan Genes

 

Follow the Evidence: The Genius of Birds

 

The Butterfly Enigma

 

Man’s Best Friend

 

Darwinian Evolution On Trial Among Biologists

 

New Fossil Finds Thwart Human Evolutionary Predictions

 

Global Persecution of Christians

 

 Ratio Christi

 

Questions About the Qur’an

 

Engaging with Islam

 

Calling Evil Good

 

Parousia

 

Tall Tales From Yale: Giving up Darwin.

 

More on the Proto-Turkey:  Dr. Tour Responds to Cheap Shots from the Pond Scum Merchants

 

Good Riddance: Despicable British TV Show Axed after Death of Participant

 

There’s Heehaw Out There…ken.

 

The Fastest Growing Insanity the World has Ever Seen

 

Pharmakeia

 

Darwinism & Racism: Natural Bed Fellows

 

The Modern Root of Anti-Semitism

 

Jesus & Archaeology

 

A Victory for Common Sense: Transgender Weightlifter Stripped of his Medals

 

The US Equality Act: A Plea for Caution

 

Reunited: Music & the Human Spirit

 

Gladys Wilson

 

1st Century Christian Insight: The Didache

 

The Clothes Maketh the Man

 

Why Some Books were Left Out of the Bible

 

Why the Human Mind is not Material

 

What God Thinks of Scientific Atheism

 

For the Love of the Creator

 

An Essential Component of a Modern Education

 

Peace Cross

 

Earth: “Presidential Suite” of the Universe

 

How to Really Stand Out in a Crowd

 

Straight from a NASA Scientist: Jewel Planet

 

The Singularity

 

No Life Without Super Intelligence

 

Darwinism as a Cargo Cult

 

Body Plan Development Raises New Headaches for Evolutionists

 

Membrane Biochemistry Stymies Evolutionary Origin of Complex Cells

 

Science Speaks: Common Abortafacients Harmful to Both Mother & Child

 

Biblical Ignoramus Twists the Words of Christ

 

Apologia Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

 

Attention Parents: American Psycho Association Promoting Polyamory to Pre-Teens as ‘Ethical.’

 

The Only Rainbow God Recognises

 

Calling Time Out on Evolutionists’ Failure to Explain The Cambrian Explosion

 

7 Reasons to Reject Replacement Theology

 

Psychiatric Diagnoses are ‘Scientifically Meaningless’ Study Shows

 

Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God

 

Universalism Debunked

 

The Prosperity Gospel Debunked

 

New Science Reveals First Cellular Life to be “Amazingly Complex”

 

New Law Firms Being Established to Counter the Rise in Christian Persecution

 

Playing the Numbers 32:23 Game

 

Multiple Lines of Scientific Evidence Converge on 3rd Century BC Age of the Famous Isaiah 53 Scroll.

 

Meet the Gestapo

 

Exposed: Theologians Deceived by Darwinian Ideology

 

New Insights into the Shroud of Turin

 

What we Know and Do Not Know About the Human Genome

 

Debunking Da Vinci Code Tosh

 

Sorry: No Such Thing as “Gay” Penguins

 

Genetic Entropy

 

Dunderheid Alexa

 

The Extinction of Reason

 

A Biblical Perspective on Diet

 

Revelation: Number of Transgender People Seeking Sex Reversals Skyrockets

 

Psychologist Debunks Pseudoscientific Explanations for Human Love & Compassion

 

The Dismantling of the Feminine

 

Disturbing Trends in the Roman Catholic Church

 

N = 402

 

The Nazareth Inscription

 

A Christian Response to Halloween

 

Seeking Methuselah

 

Beware the Enneagram

 

No Safe Spaces!

 

Pale Blue Dot

 

Encyclopedia Galactica

 

Phillip E. Johnson: A Tribute

 

The Darwinian Response to Human Life: Let the Baby Die!

 

The Best Explanation for Beauty

 

What is Feminism?

 

Insects & Light Pollution

 

Candy-Ass Christianity

 

Antiobiotic Resistance in a Post-Darwinian World

 

Adam & Eve: Redux

 

Joyce Meyer

 

Michael Behe Says No to Theistic Evolution

 

New Atheism: An Autopsy

 

Serenading an Old Girl.

 

“Progressive” Christianity as a Political Cult.

 

The Church of Satan, Sweden

 

A Rational, Christian Response to Humanism

 

More Depravity: the Sexualisation of Children

 

Shameful Humanity:  Murder of the Unborn Now the Biggest Worldwide Killer.

 

Origin Stories

 

Privileged Planet

 

Brokeness

 

Sorry Sam Smith, You’re Still a ‘He.’

 

Nature Genetics: How ‘Evolutionary Thinking’ led Biologists Astray about Pseudogenes.

 

A Kingdom Divided Against Itself: Why Evolutionary Psychology is Bunk

 

Of Melting Glaciers and Darwinism

 

First US President Addresses 47th March For Life, as theSecular Media Duck for Cover

 

Wolves Among the Sheepfolds

 

The New Science of Separate, Distinct Creations

 

That Sacred Space

 

Faith of the Fatherless

 

More Tales of Darwinian Thuggery

 

Keeping your Children Strong in the Faith

 

Former Editor of Nature Waves Bye Bye to the RNA World

 

At Scientific American: Physicist Pours Cold Water on Scientism

 

A Biblical Perspective on Alcohol Consumption

 

High Priest of a Pseudoscience Rears His Ugly Head Again

 

Another Step into the Human Immorality Sewer: Normalizing Throuples & Sologamy

 

Symptom of a Depraved Society: Scientists Now Fighting to Affirm a Basic Fact of Life: Sex is Binary

 

Speaking the Truth in Love: Where the LGBTQ Community is Ultimately Headed

 

The Power of Biblical Prophecy: The Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem

 

Origin of Life Debate: James Tour versus Lee Cronin.

 

7 Rock Solid Scientific Arguments for the God of the Bible

 

SETI@Home Shuts Down

 

An Existential Crisis in Neuroscience

 

AI Hype and the End of Moore’s Law

 

Discerning Fact from Spin/Fiction in Cosmos 3.0

 

Polly’s No Statistician!

 

Why All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men Cannot Put Humpty Together.

 

COVID-19

 

The James 5:16 Phenomenon; the Healing Power of Prayer

 

Heart of Darkness: Organ Harvesting of Chinese Prisoners

 

Confessions of a (yet another) Darwinian Sceptic

 

Selflessness

 

Darwinism as a Mentally Retarding Virus

 

Who is the God of the Bible?

 

Legendary Biologist Claims Atheism has Nothing to do with Science

 

Why Nature Should Never be Worshipped

 

What ‘Evolutionary Theory’ is Really Good at Explaining: Cancer.

 

Avoiding the Most Deadly Virus of All

 

The Prince of Peace Versus the Prophet of Islam

 

Coronavirus Outbreak Spurs Record Bible Sales

 

More Tales of Woe for Darwinian Junk Science: No Such Thing as Pseudogenes

 

Earth Fine-Tuned for Space Exploration

 

Pious Frauds

 

The CCP Virus

 

By the Rivers of Babylon

 

Abiogenesis & the Tooth Fairy

 

A Whale of an Evolution Tale

 

New UN Report: COVID-19 will Produce Famines of ‘Biblical Proportions’

 

American Schism

 

An Interview with Dr. Frank Turek

 

The S-Blob

 

Neanderthal DNA & the Leviticus 18:23 Question

 

Debunking Scientific Materialism through Mathematics

 

Incompetent Experts & Bad Government

 

Intelligent Design Now Thriving in Europe

 

Cosmic Fine-Tuning: an Interview with Christian Cosmologist, Dr. Luke Barnes.

 

Ivy League Philosopher Dismisses Evolutionary Psychology as  Pseudoscience

 

Preterism Debunked

 

Ravi Zacharias(1946-2020) RIP

 

Ten Things you Need to Know about Scientism

 

Why Humans have Souls

 

Freeman Dyson: God is a Mathematician

 

J.K. Rowling Takes a Stand Against Militant LGBT Activists

 

Humans Together

 

Talking about Racism

 

Lest We Forget: William Wilberforce

 

Update on the Long Term Evolution Experiment(LTEE): Sickening News for Evolutionists

 

An Interview with Mathematician William Dembski

 

Fatherless America

 

A Technical Look at Fine-Tuning in Biological Systems

 

David Pawson(1930-2020) Remembered

 

The Colour of Christian Art

 

Date Setters

 

Punctuated Equilibrium Debunked by Researchers

 

Harari’s Fictions

 

For the Attention of Greta Thunberg

 

Why We Should Cancel Darwin

 

No Ordinary Star

 

Darwin, Africa & Genocide 

 

What Everyone Should Know About the BLM Movement

 

The Principles that Made America Great:

Part I

Part II

 

The Artifact Hypothesis Debunked

 

Why the Multiverse is Bunk

 

Why Christians Should Support Israel’s Claim to the West Bank

 

Earth’s Deep Water Cycle Fine-Tuned for Life

 

When Darwinism is Applied to Politics

 

Science Update on COVID-19

 

COVID-19: The Economic Fallout

 

Whale Evolution Further Debunked Part 1

Part 2

 

New ENCODE Results Unveil Still MORE FUNCTIONS in So-Called Junk DNA.

 

Concerning Energy

 

The Politicisation of Hydroxy Chloroquine

 

The Wonders of the Human Mind Part 1

Part II

Part III

 

God Among Sages

 

Trapped by Language: Why Biologists Can’t Avoid Teleological Verbiage

 

A Little Lower than the Angels

 

Heretic Pope Affirms Transgender Depravity

 

Latest on Orphan Genes Affirms Creationism

 

For Math Challenged Woketards: Two Plus Two Really Equals Four

 

A Critical Review of Josh Swamidass’ Book, The Genealogical Adam and Eve

 

Angels & Demons

 

Worrying Developments in the American Workplace

 

The Decadence of Gender Ideology

 

Electric Mud

 

 Strictly Come Dancing Turns Gaypo

 

The Philadelphia Statement

 

Graceland Vandalised by BLM Thugs

 

Update on Recent Desperate Attempts to Find a Naturalistic Origin of Life

 

More Bad News for Pond Scum Merchants: No Sign of ETI in New Mega-Survey

 

Netflix Promotes Paedophilia

 

Cultural Marxism

 

A Lost Generation

 

World Class Palaeontologist Debunks Ancestors to Cambrian Animals

 

Empire of the Beast

 

Religion of Green

 

How Christians Should Respond to Environmental Issues

 

Breakthrough: Intelligent Design Theory Now Being Published in Mainstream Science Journals

 

Woke Pope

 

The Great Barrington Declaration

 

The Astonishing Hypothesis

 

Facebook n’ That

 

Auschwitz Rising

 

Jesus was No Socialist!

 

Facebook Removes Ex-Gay Testimonies

 

Responding to Richard Dawkins & The Old Testament

 

The Perils of Favouritism & the New “Woke” Gospel

 

British NHS Defends Giving Sex Change Hormones to 10 Year-Olds

 

American Pastors Organising to Fight Back Against “Tyrannical” Democrat Shutdowns

 

The Rule of Six

 

The Left’s Communist Manifesto for America

 

The Origin of the Lockdown Mentality

 

The Developing Beast System : Apostate Pope Attends One World Religion Event

 

Victory for Common Sense: UK Equalities Minister Blasts BLM & Critical Race Theory

 

Update on Masks

 

No Phosphine Found In the Venus’ Atmosphere Follow-Up Study Shows

and

A New Call for the Retraction of the Original Paper After Another Analysis of the Data

and

Another Negative Report

and

Yet Another Rebuttal

 

First Eukaryotic Cells were Already Complex

 

When Scientists Make Truth Claims Outside Science

 

Warning to Masktards: A Distinguished Neurologist Speaks

 

Davos Great Reset

 

Did China Fund The Phony Joe Biden Campaign?

 

The Great American Coup

 

Democrat-Run Oregon Decriminalises Crystal Meth, Heroin and Cocaine Use, as its  Cities Burn.

 

Why Origin of Life Researchers Must Embrace Intelligent Design

 

Should Christians Ever Employ Civil Disobedience?

 

Are Bacteria Really Evolving?

 

Catholics Discuss their Apostate Pope

 

Marxism Appropriated to the 2020 US Election

 

Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed Develops Moderna Vaccine with 95% Efficacy

 

Veteran Military Chaplin Fired from US Air Force for Holding Biblical Views on Sexual Morality

 

Schooling Masktards: Multiple Studies Show Masks are Ineffective and Possibly Harmful

 

An Amusing Take on the Utah “Monolith”

 

From the USA: A Major Victory Over LGBTQ Tyranny

 

Sidney Powell’s Kraken

 

Treasure Trove of Rock Paintings Dating Back 12,500 Years Discovered in Remote parts of Colombian Rain Forests

 

Sick Morality: As Countless Unborn Humans Are Murdered, Activists Push for “Personhood” Rights for Elephants

 

Galapagos Finch “Evolution” Debunked

 

After Weighing the Evidence, Medic Ditches Theistic Evolution for Intelligence

 

Some Effects of Transgenderism

 

Leaked: Biden Administration Urged to Persecute American Conservative Christians

 

Advanced Computer Models on Earth’s Long-term Habitability Continue to Affirm its Extreme Rarity/ Uniqueness

 

Raven Intelligence Raises More Problems for Evolutionists

 

I’ll Own What I Choose to Own and my Happiness is none of your Damn Business……Comrade!

 

Another Defeat for Darwinian Junk Science: the Thymus is Not a Vestigial Organ

 

Argentinian Socialist Government  Legalises Abortion

 

Morons in da House

 

Requiem for the American Republic

 

A Catholic Priest Comments on the Consequences of the 2020 US Election

 

Warring Against the Beast

 

Darwinian Time Trees Don’t Work, New Analysis Suggests

 

Battle for the Soul: Surviving a Chinese Communist Re-Education Camp

 

The New American State Religion- Wokeness

 

Conservatives: You Gotta Get Your Kids out of Illinois Public Schools

 

New Geochemical Research Findings Affirm the Genesis Creation Account

 

An Interview with Dr. John Sanford

 

Illinois Christian High School Student Faces Disciplinary Hearing after Refusing to Take a Class on Deviant Sexual Behaviour

 

Did the American People Really Vote this Guy in?

 

The Curious Case of Ivermectin

 

Mormons

 

Burn it Down!

 

New Zealand: where Capitalism Triumphed over Socialism

 

Hitting Woke Big Tech & the Fake News Media where it Hurts

 

More Bull from the Masktard King

 

The Devout Catholic

 

Yet Another Putative Human Evolutionary Ancestor Debunked 

 

Marxist Pope Francis Pushes Great Reset

 

Revisionist View of Homosexuality Debunked

 

Poisoning of the Youth: A look at Amerika’s New, Ultra-Woke School Curriculum

 

From Newsweek: Transgender Man Warns Others About the Dire Health Consequences of Her Actions

 

The Wonders of Honey

 

Curbing Wokeness & Cancel Culture: UK to Introduce Legislation which will Fine Universities that Limit Free Speech

 

It Happened on Your Watch: How the Rise of Evil is Destroying American Cities

 

 

Great Reset Creep’s Plan to Destroy the American Agricultural Industry

 

Lessons for the USA: Venezuela’s Experiment with Socialism Falters as it Embraces Privatisation

 

New Insights into ‘Super’ Earths Suggest they’re Uninhabitable

 

Insane Biden Administration Destroying Girl’s Sports

 

Amazon Quietly Removes Book Criticizing Transgender Ideology

 

WokaCola

 

Just Like You!

 

Dozens of House Democrats Requesting Biden to Relinquish Sole Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons

 

What the Equality Act Means for Ordinary US Citizens

 

Great Reset Creeps Suffer a Propaganda Crash

 

Why Darwinian Junk Science Remains Popular with the Pagan Masses

 

Levity

 

Another Evolutionary Icon Bites the Dust: Beta Globin Pseudogene Shows Functionality

 

Are Electric Vehicles Really the Future?

 

Prehistoric Cave Art & The Imago Dei

 

Vatican Clarifies its Position on Same Sex Relationships – Declares them “Sinful”

 

Where Cancel Culture Naturally Leads

 

Self-Evident Truths

 

New York Columbia University’s Woke Graduation

 

Long-term Study from 10,000 Generations of Yeast Cells Reveals Devolution not Evolution

 

What the Green New Deal is Really All About

 

Avi Loeb’s Oumuamua Alien Hypothesis Debunked

 

What Everyone Needs to Know About the Proposed Vaccine Passports

 

America: Land of the Insane

 

Son of the Devout Catholic

 

Mars & Nestle Join the Woke Brigade

 

Attention Parents: What the Sexually Depraved are Now Teaching Your Children 

 

What Next? Incest?

 

Ten Reasons why Birds are Not Living Dinosaurs

 

An Open Letter to John Kerry

 

Covidian Masktard Evolution

 

Debunking More Pseudoscience: New MIT Study Shows Social Distancing Rules Are Completely Pointless

 

From a Leading UK Journalist: Biden is Smashing America’s Moral Compass

 

You What? Even the Spineless CNN Calls out Biden as a Masktard

 

Obama Administration Scientist Admits “Climate Emergency” is Bunk

 

Richard Dawkins’ Desperate Claims about the Origin of the Bacterial Flagellum Now Disproven

 

Fighting the Marxists: US States Begin to Ban the Teaching of Critical Race Theory in Schools 

 

Sickos: Have a Very Happy Woke Birthing Person Day!

 

Woke British Universities Could Face Fines for Suppressing Free Speech/De-platforming Guest Speakers

 

Journey out of Mormonism

 

Fighting Back: Concerned Ohio Parents Take a Stand Against the Teaching of Marxist Critical Race Theory in Public Schools

 

Marxist Ideologies Infiltrating the US Military

 

Darwin’s Tree of Life Finally Gets the Chop

 

Imago Dei

 

Covid 19: What We Now Know

 

Evidence for the Biblical Exodus

 

Gaps Everywhere in the History of Life!

 

For the Memory of Shang Di

 

From Prager: How to Re-Take A Nation from the Marxist ‘Democrats’

 

The Transgender Contagion Corrupting the Youth of the World

 

Nickelodeon Ratings Crash Amid LGBTQ Push

 

News from Canada: Campaign for Sexual Immorality Extended From a Month to a Season

 

Who did Allah Love in Eternity?

 

Critical Race Theory: A Crash Course

 

Pushing Back: Australian Parliament Bans the Teaching of Critical Race Theory in the School Curriculum

 

Long Awaited Pentagon UFO Report: A Big Fat Nothing Burger

 

Landmark Study on Heme Biosynthesis and Storage Raises Major Headaches for Evolutionists- Spectacularly Confirms Intelligent Design

 

Culture Wars: France Tells US  ” Keep your Wicked Wokeism to Yourself!”

 

O’ Biden Regime Spying on Prominent Conservative TV Personality

 

Welcome to the New Cult of ‘Safetyism’ 

 

Wokecabulary

 

Allan Sandage: An Astronomer’s Journey to Faith

 

Climate Models: Worse than Nothing?

 

Trump Goes After the Big Tech Bottom Feeders

 

From Trans to Frankenstein

 

More Bad News for Evolutionists: Landmark Study Shows Endogenous Retroviral (ERVs) Play an Essential Role in the Immune System

 

US Military Goes Woke

 

While America Leans Ever Closer to Communism, Cuban People Take to the Streets to Condemn it

 

What the Darwinist and Transgender Lobby Share in Common

 

 Sex Mania-Induced Societal Psychosis

 

What Next? Climate Lockdowns?

 

Inspired by Crystal Meth?

 

Inflation

 

Trump Discusses  Arizona Audit Findings and the Biden Regime’s Disastrous Record in Government

 

About Kamala

 

The Covid-19 Files: The Curious Case of Sweden

 

An ID Prediction Concerning CRISPR Gene Editing

 

7 Lies your Kids Pick Up in the Secular World and How to Correct Them

 

The Link Between the Political Left and Paedophilia

 

Evolution of Daphnia Debunked

 

COVID-19 Survivors Display Stronger, Better Immunity to the Virus than Vaccinated Individuals

 

Massive Increases in Home-Schooling Across USA

 

British Bull Corporation(BBC) Goes Woke

 

Mark Zuckerberg Launches Church of Beelzebub

 

Why Biblical Justice Trumps Social Justice

 

The Wonderful World of Diatoms

 

Distinguished Scientist Breaks Down the Climate Change Hoax

 

Forgive Them Lord, for They know Not What They Do: Brainwashed Gen Z Sleepwalk Their Way into Socialism

 

The Ministry of Truth Comes to Life

 

Antipodean Darkness: Australia Bans Peaceful Protests Against Abortion

 

Agenda 2030

 

What to Make of the 6th IPCC Report

 

Antipodean Control Freaks

 

Manning UP

 

Hungary: a Beacon of Christian Freedom 

 

The Taliban and their Worldview

 

Stop the Mandate

 

The Rise of Systems Biology

 

New Peer Reviewed Study Suggests the Sun and not Human-Derived Carbon Dioxide is Driving Climate Change

 

The Masktards Who Live by Lies

 

Why Atheists Can’t Think Straight

 

Arthropods Amaze Engineers!

 

Normalising Sexual Deviancy in Scottish Schools

 

Peppered Moth Evolution Debunked

 

Deflating the Multiverse & the New Atheists

 

The Mystery of Life Lies Beyond Science

 

From The Times of London: US 2020 Presidential Election was Rigged

 

Vindicating Michael Behe: More Evidence for Devolution and Not Evolution: Yeast Splicosome was More Complex in the Past than Today

 

Why Pronouns Matter……but not in a Woke Way

 

UK Athletic Equality Group Deems Trans Sports Unsafe And Unfair

 

Francis Collins & His Moral Failings

 

How the Maggots at Facebook Helped The O’ Biden Marxist Regime Over the Line

 

Leading Mainstream Science Journal Now Waving Bye Bye to Junk DNA

 

Wikipedia Slides Down the Leftist Sewer

 

More Facts for the Brainwashed Masktardii

 

Did Humans Evolve from Ape-like Ancestors? The Evidence is Surprisingly Weak!

 

Marxist Kalifornia’s Attack on Smart Kids

 

William Lane Craig: Heretic

 

Green Murder

 

A Critical Review of Yuval Harari’s Sapiens

 

Why We Should All be Sceptical of Human Evolution

 

It’s Official: Roads are Racist!

 

The Fables Told by Evolutionary Psychologists

 

A Visit to the Museum of Lies

 

Masktards on Planes

 

From Norway: Santa Turns Gaypo

 

Vicar of the New World Order

 

Conversion Therapy

 

Tales from an Ozzy Covid Quarantine Camp

 

The Depravity of Gen Z

 

Go to Work on an Egg

 

The Benefits of Traditional Marriage

 

Ethnos Against Ethnos at a Denver Elementary School

 

Reflections on the Launch of the James Webb Space Telescope

 

Deception: NASA Hires ‘Theologians’ to Study Humanity’s Reaction to ET

 

More Tales of Woe for Brainwashed Darwinistas: The Bacterial Flagellum Could Not Have Evolved

 

When Wokeness Comes Back to Bite the Hand that Feeds

 

Problems with Common Ancestry 

 

Why Evolutionary Explanations of Adam & Eve Fail

 

Why Climate Change Alarmists Embrace Authoritarianism

 

Cambrian Explosion Occurred in Just 410,000 Years New Study Reveals

 

Jordan Peterson Resigns His Chair in Protest of the Wicked & Woke University of Toronto.

 

Wicked Scottish Government Pushing to Criminalise Biblical Views on Marriage and Sexuality

 

The Roman See

 

A Message for Young Americans

 

More Education for the Masktardii

 

Told You So: Lockdowns Accomplished Nothing

 

Biology of Second Reich Censored by the Evolutardii

 

Collapse of the Communist News Network(CNN)

 

Kalifornian Junkies

 

Homology

 

What You Need to Know About January 6

 

The Paedophile Files

 

Buddhism Debunked

 

Klaus Schwab: a Closer Look

 

Kalifornian Child Murderers

 

The Wicked US Democratic Party’s Attack on Christians

 

The Illusion of Evidence-Based Medicine

 

Christian Transhumanism Debunked

 

The New Woke Religion

 

Ditching Disney

 

Schooling Darwinistas: Species Pairs & The Waiting Time Problem

 

The O’ Biden Regime’s Ministry of Truth 

 

US Public & Private School Pushing Sexual Perversion

 

2000 Mules: How the US 2020 Presidential Election was Stolen

 

Church of Scotland Now the Church of Sodom

 

Top Ten Dystopian Ideas Discussed by the Invertebrates at the WEF

 

Perilous Times Ahead for Australian Christians & Conservatives

 

Curse Amulet

 

What the Early Church Taught about Abortion

 

New York Slimes Embraces Inflation as a Marxist Virtue

 

The Long Road To ‘Positive’ Paedophilia Part 1

Part 2

 

Sentient AI Debunked

 

Surviving the Month of Sodom

 

Woke Ozzie Politician Loses the Plot

 

Keeping Up with the Paedophile Agenda

 

Woke Capitalism & ESG

 

Debunking the Green Credentials of EVs

 

Legalising Psychedelic Drugs in Kalifornia

 

Tim Kelller’s Woke Gospel

 

Transgender Teen Speaks Out About How She Destroyed Her Body

 

Achtung: How the Left Plan to Seize Control of US Local Election Offices

 

Crisis in the US Military-The Root Causes

 

The Dangers of Universal Basic Income

 

The Desperation of Panspermia Adherents

 

Joe Bama’s Monkey Pox Czar

 

Mainstream Newspaper Highlights the Many Problems of Darwinian Junk Science

 

Go Woke, Go Broke

 

Mammoth Support for Devolution

 

The Federal Bureau of Intimidation(FBI)

 

Converging on a Creator

 

Shameful CDC Finally Come Clean on Natural Immunity

 

Chicago Public Schools Promoting Looting & Burning as a Means of Achieving ‘Equity’

 

The Cult of Greta Thunberg Falls Apart

 

LGBs Turning on the Ts

 

What the Great Reset Really Entails

 

The Wonder of Water

 

Scotland’s Child Sex Guru

 

Nobel Prize Winning Developmental Biologist calls Transgenderism “Nonsense”

 

Zoophilia

 

Return of the Dark Ages

 

Technocrats & Misanthropes

 

JWST Affirms a Cosmic Beginning

 

NASA Goes Woke

 

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

 

Update on Jabtards & Masktards

 

Depraved Heart: What the Scottish National Perverts (SNP) Want Taught in Scottish Primary and Secondary Schools

 

Yum Yum in My Tum

 

What a Top Chemist and Mathematician Think About Darwinian Junk Science

 

Attacking the Big Bang

 

The New Eco-Terrorists

 

Comparing the US Democrat Party to the CCP

 

Counting the Cost of the Lockdowns on our Young People

 

UK Universities Urged to Go Woke on Mathematics Teaching

 

Sounding the Alarm on ESG

 

COP 27: Epic Failure

 

Human Male Fertility Showing Rapid Decline Globally

 

Why the Notion of “Abrahamic Religions” is an Ecumenical Farce

 

Another Amusing Takedown of “Professor Dave”

 

Life After Death Redux

 

9 Exciting Careers for Gender Studies Graduates

 

 New Climate Change Cult Issue their ’10 Commandments’

 

War Against Humanity: Evil Dutch Government Shuts Down 3,000 Farms

 

Not By Chance: Researchers Uncover a Remarkable Ensemble of  Co-ordinated Genetic Changes that Resulted in Human Exceptionalism

 

From the Masktard Files : How Ruling Elites Lied about Masks and Mask Mandates

 

Schooling a Charlatan on:

The Fossil Record

The Waiting Time Problem

UK Woke Watch.

                                   

                    An essay first published in Salvo Magazine Vol 59

As America goes, so goes the rest of the world. There’s a great deal of truth to that saying, especially now that we live in an era of 24-7 news, where ideas and movements spread faster than the Covid-19 virus. The rise of Black Lives Matter and Antifa, cultural Marxism and the Woke Revolution has politicized many institutions across the United States and has now reached all the way across the Western world, where it is now influencing liberal democracies like Australia, New Zealand, the nations which comprise the European Union, and here in the UK.

Wokeness is political correctness gone mad. It’s a new secular religion with ‘social justice’ being its new god, and ‘cancel culture’ its military wing. Its despotic power seeks to make western institutions jettison conservative mores and lose faith in their own ideals. The defining characteristics of wokeness are arrogance, ignorance and irrationality in equal measure.

Not long after we saw the horrific pictures on our TV screens of statues being torn down across the USA throughout the summer of 2020, violent protesters in the city of Bristol, UK, toppled a statue of Edward Colston, a prominent 17th century slave trader and dumped it into Bristol Harbor. UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, quickly condemned their actions in a tweet;

“People have a right to protest peacefully & while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police. These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery – and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve. Those responsible will be held to account1.”

The events in Bristol triggered the removal of several other statues across the UK including, Robert Milligan, Thomas Guy and Sir Robert Clayton2. Not content with removing the memory of slave traders from our streets, the same mob defaced a statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, Westminster, which had to be boarded up by police2.

                                                   Snowflakes

Our hallowed educational institutions have also become fertile breeding grounds for the woke movement. At Oriel College Oxford, an angry mob called for the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, insisting that he was a white supremacist, colonialist and racist. Although Oriel College did agree to remove the statue, the decision was reversed owing to the financial cost of undertaking such a measure4.

But Oxford University represents the tip of the iceberg. Today, some 90 per cent of British Universities have actively banned or cancelled guest speakers because their ‘controversial’ views offend them5. Over the last several years it has become such a problem that the UK government had to enforce new laws prohibiting this vicious cancel culture, with fines of up to £500,000 should they continue to de-platform people6.

Yet the woke movement has penetrated many more of our national institutions in the UK, including the National Trust, the Church of England, the Police, the BBC and the British Army. In the wake of the George Floyd tragedy, the National Trust sped up the publication of a 2018-commissioned study linking many of the grand houses under its wing to slavery and colonialism7. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with learning about our colonial past, but when the National Trust insisted that all volunteers must undergo ‘unconscious bias training,7 it led to some resignations in protest. They also pushed the wearing of LGBTQ+ rainbow badges and lanyards on its employees to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain, removing those individuals from interacting with the public who conscientiously objected to wearing them7.

The Church of England seems equally keen to preach the woke gospel. During the Black Lives Matter riots in the USA, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, commissioned a new Church of England guidance8 suggesting that artefacts linked to slavery and colonialism could be removed from churches simply because some people might find them ‘disturbing.’

In August 2021, the UK Police Force unveiled a new fleet of cars adorned with the LGBTQ+ rainbow to ‘fight social injustice.’ The move was received with almost universal scorn, with some commentators calling them ‘Clown Cars’ that will only encourage more criminals onto the streets. Perhaps the most scathing rebuttal came from Harry Miller, a former police officer and founder of the campaign group, Fair Cop. Speaking to the Telegraph, Miller said, “We don’t see the Met with special cars for knife crime, even though the number of stabbings in London is appalling. The problem is that the second you see a rainbow car, you know that it is a police force that has made its mind up about some very contentious issues. You no longer see a police car or a police officer who is there to support everyone, from all political persuasions, without fear or favor. They have literally tied their colours to the mast and painted their cars with their political leanings. They are painting rainbows on their cars when we have figures showing that only seven per cent of violent crime ends in a prosecution. They have moved from policing crime to policing thoughts and speech, because it is easier9.”

The BBC, that long-trusted bastion of journalistic excellence has also gone woke. The corporation produced a video called “Understanding Sexual and Gender identities10,” in which they claimed there were 100 different genders! Thankfully, after a storm of protest, they removed the video from their platform. Now the BBC are conducting a gender census to see which of their employees identify as male, female or non-binary to better address ‘gender-related pay gaps.’ Furthermore, they recently tweeted that they will not tolerate any dissent on transgender issues and are willing to inform the police concerning the most egregious ‘offenders.11‘ Not surprisingly, that also sparked a large public backlash, with people complaining that the corporation was just wasting taxpayers’ money.

Finally, in one of the sickest moves yet enacted on British soil, the thoroughly immoral leftist, devolved nationalist Scottish Government is introducing new legislation allowing children as young as four to undergo gender transition, without parental consent, as well as mandating schools to include transgender literature on the curriculum12. Although the move was almost universally described as ‘risible’ and ‘shocking,’ even by the mainstream press, there is no effective political opposition to the nationalists’ woke agenda to stop them in their tracks.

                                          Rebels Without a Clue

So, just like the USA, Britain faces the same war on wokeness that is tearing society apart at the seams. Seen in a Christian light, God has given them over to a Romans 1 ‘reprobate mind.’ But there are welcome signs that the Brits are fighting back, by launching anti-woke TV channels like GB News, and a small number of determined and influential journalists who refuse to be silenced by the woke mob. Furthermore, the British government has summarily dismissed and banned the teaching of Marxist concepts such as critical race theory, intersectionality and white privilege in UK schools, deeming these ideologies harmful to a multi-cultural British society13. You can hit the BBC where it hurts them simply by switching off. Personally, I wouldn’t trust them even with the weather. But a lot of resistance to this immoral movement is also being fostered in sound parental guidance, as well as through the exercising of the general public’s democratic right to air its concerns to local politicians. Though it’s probably too late to turn the tide, let’s hope more brave individuals will join the dissenting ranks to stave off the worst instances of ‘wokery’ in the UK!

 

Neil English has put down roots in Scotland and is the author of seven books on amateur and professional astronomy. His 650-page magnum opus, Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy, explores the history of telescopic astronomy from a Christian perspective.

 

                                                  References

  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52954305
  2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-52977088
  3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52949014
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-57189928
  5. https://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/nine-10-uk-universities-free-speech-restrict-rankings-joseph-rowntree-cardiff-ediburgh-newcastle-oxford-a7577381.html
  6. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9569835/University-principal-faces-calls-QUIT-allowing-intolerant-cancel-culture.html
  7. https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/05/27/the-woke-drift-of-the-national-trust/
  8. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9565545/Church-artefacts-likely-removed-following-contested-heritage-guidance.html
  9. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/08/22/police-pin-hopes-rainbow-cars-drive-hate-crime/
  10. https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1390071/bbc-news-defund-twitter-gender-identity-video-transgenderism-public-broadcaster-ont
  11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWSUqxCDYJw
  12. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9888899/Scotland-let-pupils-aged-FOUR-change-gender.html
  13. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/20/teaching-white-privilege-is-a-fact-breaks-the-law-minister-says

 

De Fideli.

Earth Story.

Chosen Planet

An Essay Originally Published in Salvo Magazine Volume 51

Updated periodically as new science emerges

 

 

For this is what the Lord says—

he who created the heavens,

 he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth,

 he founded it; he did not create it to be empty,

 but formed it to be inhabited— he says:

“I am the Lord, and there is no other.

                                                                                                             Isaiah 45: 18

Just a few short decades ago, the Earth was considered to be an ordinary planet, orbiting an ordinary star, lost in a vast galaxy of other stars, amid myriad other galaxies populating the Cosmos. Mindless processes produced the first living organisms, we were told, which slowly evolved over the eons to produce creatures like us1. This secular myth was accepted hook line and sinker by the uneducated masses after its promotion by God-denying ‘high priests’, including the late Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins, and mindlessly parroted by a generation of science journalists unwilling to dig any deeper. Yet, with the exponential rise of human knowledge, this worldview is being radically over-turned by an avalanche of new science, that paints an entirely different picture of our world: one in which its exceptional properties for supporting a long-lived biosphere for the express benefit of humanity in particular, is coming to the fore; where life itself ‘terraformed’ the Earth under Divine instruction.

An Anomalous Solar System

Many lines of evidence show that the Earth is old; 4.543 billion years with an uncertainty of just one per cent. But the circumstances under which our planetary system was shaped were very unusual. Formed from the gravitational collapse of a vast cloud of gas and dust, the proto-solar system condensed into a relatively thin disk with the neonatal Sun at its center. The inventory of elements endowed to the solar system might have turned out to be much like any other were it not for the presence of at least two relatively close-by supernova events2 which helped eject it from a nursery of other stars, but which also enriched the primordial solar system with relatively large quantities of heat-generating radioactive elements such as aluminum 26, thorium and uranium3. The aluminum 26, with its short half-life of 730,000 years, provided enough thermal energy to remove excess levels of volatiles including water, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide which would have scuppered the future emergence of living creatures on our world. In contrast, the very dense and long-lived radioactive elements like uranium and thorium sank to the center of the primordial earth, where their prodigious heat has kept the planet in a geologically active state over billions of years.

The most recent research on star formation shows that the Sun is far from being an average star4. Indeed that distinction goes to stars with masses roughly 50 per cent less massive than the Sun, with luminosities only 5 per cent as bright and surface temperatures of 3600K4, comprising some 80 per cent of all the stars in the Universe. Many more are smaller L dwarfs that are unable to fuse hydrogen in their cores, or larger stars than the Sun that have much shorter lifespans. In the words of the  University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank;

Please stop calling our Sun an “average star. It is philosophically dubious and astronomically incorrect.4 ”

The Moon-forming event, which is thought to have occurred about 100 million years after the neonatal Earth formed5, in a highly improbable, oblique collision with a Mars-sized object, helped remove still more volatiles from the primordial Earth, allowing it to eventually form relatively shallow oceans where the continental land-masses could eventually emerge from the sea floor.  The debris from this cataclysmic event formed a relatively large Moon in close proximity to the Earth, helping to stabilize its orbital inclination and over time, to slow down the rotation rate of our planet from just 5 hours shortly after the Moon’s formation, to its present leisurely rotation period of 24 hours.

For the first few hundred million years after its formation, the Earth would have looked black and golden from the vantage of outer space, from the vast amounts of solidified magna cooling on its surface as well as the prodigious levels of volcanic activity spewing out hot lava from the planet’s interior. Frequent collision events with smaller space debris like asteroids would also have exacerbated these hellish conditions, but eventually the prodigious levels of water vapor outgassed from its interior would have transformed our lava dominated planet into a blue water world still devoid of continental landmasses.5 But just as soon as the Earth cooled down enough to enable liquid water to flow on its surface, life appeared.

Life Terraforms the Planet

The standard evolutionary story is that life began as simple organisms and gradually progressed to more complex forms with the slow march of time, but the best scientific evidence now suggests that this life was already complex and biochemically sophisticated. This is based on isotopic evidence6,7 from the analysis of ratios of carbon and sulfur isotopes in sedimentary rocks laid down over 3.5 billion years ago. Since these biochemical processes have an absolute requirement for highly complex protein enzymes to have been present, it completely eludes an evolutionary explanation. Then why did our Creator choose to begin Earth’s life story with microbes? The answer has less to do with evolution than it has with chemical sophistication. The simple answer is that microbes are, by some considerable margin, the hardiest creatures ever to have lived on our planet.

Microbes are the die-hards of the living world, being capable of surviving in very hot and cold temperatures, high and low pH environments, and can even thrive in a cocktail of toxic chemicals and radioactive environments. Once the planet cooled enough to allow the first microbes to survive, they were set to work removing a plethora of poisonous substances from the primordial Earth. In these early times, the Earth’s surface would have had large amounts of so-called vital poisons, substances that are required in small amounts for more complex life to thrive, but in higher concentrations, can prove lethal; substances like iron, copper, zinc, molybdenum, arsenic, boron, selenium and iodine, to name but a few. In their soluble forms such vital poisons would have stunted any new life forms coming on the scene but in chemically transforming these elements8 into insoluble ores and minerals, microbes not only  removed such vital poisons from the Earth’s water environments but also formed large deposits of the valuable minerals that are now mined for their use in high technology devices. This also makes sense from a creation point of view, as more complex organisms are far more sensitive to these toxins than microbes are. One other benefit that life brought to the Earth is that it greatly enriched the planet’s mineral and gemstone tally. According to Dr. Robert Hazen, a world-leading mineralogist, Earth has the greatest diversity of mineral species of any body in the Solar System.5 Over 4,600 mineral species have been identified on Earth. In contrast, Mars probably has about 500 and Venus about 1,000 at the most. What’s more, Hazen discovered that life processes formed about two-thirds of Earth’s mineral species5.

Recent oxygen isotope evidence shows that ongoing plate tectonic activity produced nearly all the continental landmasses by about 2.5 billion years ago.9 The fact that just 29 per cent of the planet’s surface area is covered by dry land appears to be highly fine-tuned. Greater land surface areas would induce too little precipitation in the interior of those ancient continents, preventing life from gaining a hold in these places. On the other hand, land areas significantly less than 29 per cent would not be able to re-cycle enough valuable nutrients between the land, the sea and the atmosphere to maintain a healthy biosphere.

The earliest lifeforms extracted energy from these minerals without the need for molecular oxygen, but the introduction of photosynthetic microbes radically transformed the early biosphere, paving the way for the introduction of advanced lifeforms. One way to get a handle on how early oxygenic photosynthesis occurred on Earth is to study so-called Banded Iron Formations (BIFs)comprised of iron rich clays containing magnetite and hematite. The early oceans had high concentrations of soluble iron, but when it reacts with oxygen, it forms an insoluble rust-like substance that serves as iron ore today.

Such studies reveal that BIFs were first laid down about 3.0 billion years ago, continuing up to about 1.8 billion years ago.10 This coincides with the microfossil record of life, which shows that oxygen-dependent complex cellular life (the so-called Eukaryotes) made its first appearance around 2 billion years ago.11The rise in atmospheric oxygen also created the ozone layer, which protected future life on land from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. The emergence of oxygen-generating photosynthesis had other effects that are not immediately obvious. When the Sun was born, it was about 30 per cent less luminous than it is today, but as it aged, its luminosity increased with the result that the amount of thermal energy received by the planet also increased. Photosynthetic organisms removed great amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and generating oxygen which reacted rapidly with another greenhouse gas, methane. In so doing, photosynthetic organisms served to counteract the tendency of the aging Sun to overheat the planet.12 The remains of these and other unicellular creatures settled to the bottom of the oceans where they formed vast sediments that were compressed over time to produce natural gas and oil reserves so important to human civilization today.

After a long cooling phase coinciding with the formation of the supercontinent, Rhodinia5, signs of the first large(macroscopic) multicellular lifeforms appeared about 600 million years ago in an event known to palaeontologists as the Avalon Explosion, where scientists have uncovered the first evidence of simple animal lifeforms. It is unclear however whether these bizarre creatures were animals or plants but what is clear is that in the space of a short 410,000 year period starting around 541 million years ago, 80 per cent of all existing animal forms appeared in the fossil record, with no credible evolutionary antecedents3,22. Paleontologists studying the so-called Cambrian Explosion have found no transitional forms in layers immediately pre-dating this period in Earth history. Moreover, the land was being prepared for the arrival of vascular plants by fungi who began breaking down rocks into soil as early as about 1000 million years ago14.  It is difficult to conceive how any blind process like Darwinian evolution could produce such stunning biological complexity and diversity in such a short space of time without any foresight.

In recent times, a greater appreciation of the interplay between life and plate tectonics has been appreciated. Without plate tectonics, our planet wouldn’t have a climate stable enough to support life over billions of years of time. That’s because plate tectonics takes center stage as a planetary thermostat in a process called the “carbonate-silicate” cycle.13 Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolves in rainwater to form carbonic acid, which dissolves silicate rocks. The by-products of this erosion, or “weathering,” are conveyed to the oceans where they are ingested by organisms—such as tiny planktonic foraminifera—and incorporated into limestone (calcium carbonate) shells. When those creatures die, they fall to the bottom of the ocean and pile up as sediments, creating new raw materials used by humanity. The introduction of life on planet Earth also increases the amount of water subducted into the mantle, where it functions as a kind of lubricant, facilitating motions between plates. It also lowers the melting point in the mantle, which leads to more volcanism and therefore more continent building. So, without life speeding up the weathering at the surface as well as the sedimentation rate on the sea floor, the fraction of the surface covered by continents would be far smaller.

Plate tectonics has other, hitherto unforeseen consequences for the maintenance of the Earth’s strong magnetic field.  By accelerating the transfer of heat to the surface, plate tectonics induces convection in the liquid iron outer core of our planet. What’s more, it’s the dynamic outer core that generates our planet’s magnetic field, which protects Earth’s atmosphere and oceans from excessive erosion and desiccation from the solar wind as well as all surface life from dangerous cosmic rays.

The fossil record attests to several mass extinction events that occurred over the long history of our planet.14 Research has shown that these devastating events are followed by equally spectacular mass speciation events, uncannily similar to the scenarios described in Psalm 104. According to Christian astronomer, Dr. Hugh Ross, these events proved crucial for maximizing both the quantity and longevity of Earth’s life.15 By ensuring that the right quantities and kinds of life are present at the right times, our Creator employed these organisms to remove the just-right quantities of greenhouse gases from Earth’s atmosphere so as to compensate for the Sun’s increasing brightness. According to Ross, one would expect God to intervene periodically to remove life no longer appropriate for compensating for a brightening Sun and then replace it with life that is more efficient at doing so. Finally, in the last few hundred million years, vast deposits of coal and oil were produced from the remains of plant life that flourished on land during the Carboniferous and Permian (360 to 250 million years ago) periods, which was necessary for the launch of the industrial revolution.

Jewel Planet

Seen in the light of these new scientific discoveries, it is apparent that the Earth is a highly fine-tuned planet that has sustained a very stable environment over 4 billion years for the flourishing of life. And that same life transformed our world beyond recognition to make it ideal for humans to thrive in. This consensus is now being expressed by other scientists, who have noted Earth’s amazing properties. Influential books like Donald Brownlee and Peter Ward’s Rare Earth18: why complex life is are in the Universe, David Waltham’s Lucky Planet19, John Gribbin’s Alone in the Universe20 as well as Privileged Planet21by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, all seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Far from being a humdrum planet orbiting an ordinary star, the Earth was designed by a mind vastly more advanced than our own. And I give God all the glory!

 

Neil English is the author of several books in amateur astronomy. His latest historical work, Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy, is published by Springer-Nature.

 

 

 

 

References

  1. Sagan, C. Cosmos, MacDonald Futura Publishers, London, 1981.
  2. Eric Gaidos et al., “26Al and the Formation of the Solar System from a Molecular Cloud Contaminated by Wolf-Rayet Winds,” Astrophysical Journal 696 (May 10, 2009): 1854–63.
  3. Ross, H., Elemental Evidence of Earth’s Divine Design; https://reasons.org/explore/publications/nrtb-e-zine/read/nrtb-e-zine/2010/03/01/elemental-evidence-of-earth-s-divine-design
  4. Frank, A., What is the “Avergae Star” like? Hint: It’s not like our Sun: https://bigthink.com/13-8/average-star/
  1. Hazen, R. The Story of Earth, Penguin, 2012.
  2. Allen P. Nutman et al., “≥3700 Ma Pre-Metamorphic Dolomite Formed by Microbial Mediation in the Isua Supracrustal Belt (W. Greenland): Simple Evidence for Early Life?” Precambrian Research 183, no. 4 (December 15, 2010): 725–37.
  3. Yanan Shen et al, “Isotopic Evidence for Microbial Sulphate Reduction in the Early Archaean Era,” Nature 410 (March 1, 2001): 77–81.
  4. Gadd, G.M., Metals, minerals and microbes: geomicrobiology and bioremediation https://mic.microbiologyresearch.org/content/journal/micro/10.1099/mic.0.037143-0;jsessionid=CfnAVoIxE-Nxln81QM-D2S0N.x-sgm-live-02
  5. N. Bindeman et al., “Rapid Emergence of Subaerial Landmasses and Onset of Modern Hydrologic Cycle 2.5 Billion Years Ago,” Nature 557 (May 23, 2018): 545–48, https://doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0131-1.
  6. James, H.L. (1983). Distribution of banded iron-formation in space and time. Developments in Precambrian Geology, 6, 471–490.
  7. Simonetta Gribaldo et al., “The Origin of Eukaryotes and Their Relationship with the Archaea: Are We at a Phylogenomic Impasse?” Nature Reviews Microbiology 8 (2010): 743–52.
  8. Ross, H. Improbable Planet, Baker Books, 2016.
  9. Ross, H., Cambrian Explosion Becomes More Explosive:                                   https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/cambrian-explosion-becomes-more-explosive
  10. https://theconversation.com/complex-life-may-only-exist-because-of-millions-of-years-of-groundwork-by-ancient-fungi-117526
  11. Walker, J.C.G., Hays, P.B., & Kasting, J.F. A negative feedback mechanism for the long-term stabilization of Earth’s surface temperature. Journal of Geophysical Research 86, 9776-9782 (1981).
  12. Melott & Bambach, “Do Periodicities in Extinction—With Possible Astronomical Connections—Survive a Revision of the Geological Timescale?” Astrophysical Journal 773 (August 10, 2013).
  13. Ross, H. Mass Extinction Periodicity Design; https://www.reasons.org/explore/publications/nrtb-e-zine/read/nrtb-e-zine/2013/12/01/mass-extinction-periodicity-design
  14. Brownlee, D. & Ward, P., Rare Earth, Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe, Springer, 2000
  15. Waltham, D., Lucky Planet, Icon Books, 2015
  16. J., Alone in the Universe; Why our Planet is Unique, John Wiley, 2011.
  17. Gonzalez, G. & Richards, J, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery, Regnery Publishing, 2004.
  18. Ross, H., Cambrian Explosion Becomes More Explosive: https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/cambrian-explosion-becomes-more-explosive

 

 

                                                                                                                       

De Fideli.

The Wonder that is Israel.

Raising of the Ink Flag, marking the end of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Image credit Wiki Commons.

Originally Posted April 24 2019.

Updated May 23 2021

On that day I raised My hand in an oath to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, ‘flowing with milk and honey,’ the glory of all lands.

Ezekiel 20:6

Any unbiased reading of the Bible will soon reveal that the Creator of the Universe has had a long and enduring relationship with the Jews. This people group were the first humans to forge a relationship with God, where He made Himself known to them and guided their founding of a nation in a relatively tiny strip of land on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The Biblical narrative accurately portrays much of the history of the ancient Jewish nation and modern archaeological research is unveiling more and more details that affirm the historicity of their story, despite militant opposition from secular academics, who have been proven wrong time and time again.

Mlp of Israel and Judah in the 9th century BC. Image credit: Wiki Commons.

Originally the land promised to the Jews by God actually stretched from the Nile to the Euphrates:

In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,  And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Genesis 15:18-21

God explicitly states the extent to which the Jews could legitimately call their land in the Second Book of Moses, called Exodus:

I will set your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates River; for I will hand over the inhabitants of the land to you, and you will drive them out from you.

Exodus 23:31

We also read the same thing in the opening passages of Joshua:

Cross the Jordan River. Lead these people into the land that I am ready to hand over to them .I am handing over to you every place you set foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert  in the south to Lebanon in the north. It will extend all the way to the great River Euphrates in the east (including all Syria) and all the way to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 

Joshua 1:2-4

Because of their unfaithfulness to their God, the former glory of the kingdom established by David and his son, Solomon, was gradually but inexorably wrenched from them because of their reluctance to follow Torah, as well as their eagerness to seek out and worship the false gods of the surrounding nations and the inter-marriage of their nobles with the nobility of foreign cultures(and against God’s wishes). As a result, ancient Israel and Judah suffered many waves of conquests by foreign imperial powers including Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Byzantium and the various waves of Islamic invasions over the centuries and millennia. Israel ceased to be a free nation about 2,600 years ago being occupied by foreign powers throughout much of this time.

The Mereneptah Stele, dating to the 13th century BC, has the earliest known reference to Israel as a nation inscribed on it. Image credit: Wiki Commons.

For much of its history, the Jewish people have suffered terrible persecutions under various powers, culminating with the attempt of the evil Nazi regime to exterminate them from the face of the Earth. Still, despite these perils, they have bucked all the odds to maintain their culture and religion; indeed they are the only truly ancient people that exist through modern times. After World War II, the United Nations created a homeland for the remaining Jews, which culminated in the declaration of independence of the modern state of Israel on May 14 1948. The declaration was immediately condemned by all the surrounding Arab nations and was immediately attacked, leading to the Arab-Israeli War (1948-9). No superpowers came to the aid of the young nation but miraculously, the Israeli’s won. Less than twenty years later, Israel was once again attacked by a coalition of Arab nations including Syria, Jordan and Egypt in June 1967. Though attacked on three different fronts and greatly outnumbered in terms of troops, tanks and aircraft, the conflict lasted just six days, with Israel, miraculously, emerging victorious. Thus, Israel had to work hard from the outset to establish its borders, rapidly developing an excellent military machine that staved off aggressive behaviour by its surrounding enemies, and which remains so to this day.

In the 73 years since its founding days, the story of Israel has been one of astonishing prosperity, so much so that many Bible believing Christians accept it as a clear and unambiguous miracle in our times. Furthermore, it is clear that while the majority of contemporary Jews do not accept Jesus as their Messiah, the Lord would not make a complete end of them, but established them again for the sake of a minority who have(or will) come to accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Furthermore, the Bible foretells that this tiny little nation will play an important role in converting many unbelievers to the true God during the Great Tribulation period, otherwise known as the time of Jacob’s Trouble.

Most denominational Christians however, have been taught the false doctrine of replacement theology, which assumes that the modern Church has taken the place of Israel, and as a result, know very little about how Israel will play a central role in God’s ultimate plan for the salvation of many people. This was essentially my thinking for most of my life, as I continued in my walk with the Catholic Church, being largely ignorant of Biblical knowledge. We had no Bible in our home(my neighbours had none either), and no Sunday Schools when I was growing up. Indeed, I saved up some pocket money to buy a children’s Bible in my youth and only purchased my first ‘real’ Bible:- an old King James Version:- as a graduate student during my time at the University of Dundee in the mid-1990s. But this is equally true of many Protestant denominations, which teach nothing at all concerning the true role of Israel in God’s redemptive plan for humankind. Only when I began to read the Bible for myself, as a non-denominational Christian, that I rejected the notion of replacement theology.

With the Lord, there is the Church and then there’s Israel; they are not one and the same.

With Israel, it’s personal.

Consider the particular interest our Lord has expressed in the land of Israel;

For the land you are going in to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you came. There you planted your seed and watered it by foot, like a vegetable garden.  But the land you are crossing over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, drinking from the rain of the heavens it drinks in water.  It is a land that Adonai your God cares for—the eyes of Adonai your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year up to the end of the year.

Deuteronomy 11:10-12

The prophet Ezekiel writes:

Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord God: Not for your sa ke do I act, house of Israel, but for the sake of my holy name, which you desecrated among the nations to which you came.

Ezekiel 36:22

So what’s it all about then? In a phrase, the execution of Absolute power!

Israel is God’s land; He gave it to the Jews.

The prophet Jeremiah writes:

Thus says the Lord, “If My covenant for day and night stand not, and the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established, then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.’”

Jeremiah 33: 25-26

In other words, the Lord would sooner abolish the laws of nature than renege on His promises to Israel.

In Ezekiel 37, God states explicitly that His covenant with Israel is for all time:

I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.

Ezekiel 37:26

So let’s take a closer look at the remarkable rise of Israel in the modern psyche. As a nation state, Israel is tiny,  with a land area of just 21,000 square kilometres, smaller than Wales(or the US state of New Jersey)  and ranking about 150th out of the 200 or so nations on Earth. It’s population is currently 9.76 million, of which 75 per cent identify as Jew. But with antisemitism on the rise worldwide it is estimated that as much as half the entire global population of Jews will be living in Israel by 2030.  The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Israel is $564 billion, but Its per capita annual income is even more impressive, at $58,2700 per annum, making its citizens the 13th richest nation in the world. Indeed, according to the Economist, Israel was ranked the 4th most successful economy in the world as of 2022. Israel is also home to more millionaires per capita than any other country in the world, with over 7,200 millionaires with collective assets of approximately $45 billion. What’s more, Israel’s economic wealth far exceeds that of all the surrounding (Muslim and non-democratic) nations. The life expectancy of the average Israeli is 83.5 years, where it polls as the 10th longest among the other nations of the world. Israel’s age demographic though is astonishing and contrary to every other developed nation currently in existence. 25 per cent of the population are under the age of 14 and 40 per cent are aged 25 years and younger. Only 11 per cent of the Israeli population is aged 65 years and older!

This very youthful population is also highly educated; 45 per cent of Israeli’s hold a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent; higher per capita than any other nation on Earth. Their official language is Hebrew, for centuries considered an all but dead language, but thanks to the efforts of Jewish linguists, is now widely spoken and thriving. Curiously, though Israel is one of the most technologically advanced nations currently in existence, her citizens are taught little or nothing about Darwinian evolution in public schools, which dovetails with the ideology’s current fall from grace as a proper science of origins. And yet, Israel is a shining light in the emerging biotechnological and agricultural industries, both of which require an excellent knowledge of the life sciences.

Because of more or less incessant terrorist threats from foreign regimes, Israel has one of the best trained professional armies in the world. The so-called Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) has about 150,000 full-time members and over 400,000 reserves. All Israeli citizens over the age of 18 are obliged to undergo two years and eight months of military service for men and two years for women, although many seek exemptions on religious, psychological and physical grounds. This rise in military power also comports with the Biblical narrative, which describes the desolate land of Israel being revived from a “valley of dry bones”(see Ezekiel 37):

So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Ezekiel 37:10

Despite more than half of the land being desert and only 20 per cent being arable, Israel is a world leader in irrigation technology. In addition, it’s de-salination technology is now being exported to other nations (the US state of California, for example, is now steeply committed to using these technologies). The north of the country receives a plentiful supply of rain but the south is much more arid, with the result that water transport and use is carefully regulated. The statistics are impressive; agriculture’s share of total water use fell from more than 70% in 1980 to 57% by 2005, and is projected to drop to just 52% by 2025, according to a recent report. Many nations around the world have benefitted greatly from Israel’s lead in this regard. Indeed this small nation has become the fruit basket of Europe and the Middle East, growing and exporting over 40 different types of fruit. Indeed, 95 per cent of all Israel’s food is homegrown, supplemented by imports of meat, grains, coffee, cocoa and sugar. Israel also produces most of the flowers sold in Europe(especially during the winter months), with an industry estimated to be worth $60 million. These flowers are almost exclusively grown on 214 hectares of land.

A Lemon grove in the Galilee. Image credit: David Shankbone.

Just as the Bible informs us, Israel has truly become “a land of milk and honey.” Specially bred, disease-resistant cows produce the highest amounts of milk per animal in the world, with an average of 10,208 kilograms of dairy in 2009, according to data published in 2011 by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, outperforming cows in the US (9,331 kg  per cow), Japan (7,497), the European Union (6,139) and Australia (5,601). Honey production in Israel is prodigious, with more than 100,000 apiaries scattered across the country and exported to many other nations around the world. And despite the alarming decline in bee numbers in almost every other country, Israel’s bee populations have not endured such decimation, thanks to the implementation of a number of ingenious management strategies. Indeed, the Israeli department of agriculture estimate that the value of their bees as vehicles of pollination is worth more than 30 times the value of the honey they produce! In 1948, only about 400,000 acres of land in Israel could be tilled. Today it stands at over a million acres, with productivity increasing by a factor of 16 per unit of water used. And instead of growing strains of wheat that are waist high, as is the case in most other nations, Israeli farmers cultivate new varieties that only grow to knee height and so require far less water to bring them to maturity.

In the spheres of technology, Israel ranks as the 8th most powerful nation in the world. Outside of Silicon Valley, California, Silicon Wadi on the coastal plains just outside Tel Aviv  has the highest number(over 3,000 as of 2019) of IT start-up companies in the world. The first anti-virus software was formulated here, as was the first voicemail technology, and all manner of memory sticks that we use in our everyday lives. Motorola, Microsoft, Celebrite and Intel all have major investments here. The oil industry is booming at an unprecedented rate in Israel with valuable, high-grade crude oil and natural gas reserves found in the Negev, the Golan Heights and most recently off shore in the Leviathan and Tamar fields. Analysts suggest that the energy reserves in these newly discovered sites could power the nation for another 300 years! What’s more, it is expected that Israel will become a major supplier of petrochemicals to the European nations by building under-sea pipelines across the Mediterranean.

In recent years, geologists have assessed Israel’s mineral wealth. In particular the rapidly evaporating Dead Sea has an estimated $5 trillion of minerals salts including, calcium, sodium, magnesium and potassium chlorides, bromides and iodides, phosphates and other resources. Even the mud dredged up from the Dead Sea floor has important medicinal properties that many people will pay for. Moreover, an extremely rare mineral, Carmeltazite, hitherto thought to form only in outer space was recently found in Israel, which, owing to its rarity, is potentially more valuable than diamond.

By most anyone’s standards, the story of the re-birth of Israel is a remarkable phenomenon. Look how much they have achieved in only one human generation! But all of this was foretold in the prophecies of Ezekiel, most likely dated to 7th century BC:

Thus says the Lord God, “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by. They will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the Lord, have spoken and will do it.”

Ezekiel 36:33-36

And yet, the Biblical narrative also suggests that this new-found prosperity will attract the eyes of power-hungry nations surrounding it, like a proverbial moth to a brightly lit lamp:

After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them. You will go up, you will come like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your troops, and many peoples with you.”

‘Thus says the Lord God, “It will come about on that day, that thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil plan, and you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates, to capture spoil and to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places which are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the centre of the world.’ Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all its villages will say to you, ‘Have you come to capture spoil? Have you assembled your company to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil?’”’

Ezekiel 38:8-13

The Bible also asserts that Israel is the centre of the world as God sees things:

Thus says the Lord God, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the centre of the nations, with lands around her.

Ezekiel 5:5

And when we look at Israel’s geographic location, it indeed lies at the hub of three continents; Africa, Europe and Asia.

The Bible also confidently predicts that Israel will always attract trouble makers and that eventually all the nations will be gathered against her under the auspices of the Anti-Christ:

It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.

Zechariah 12:3

The Book of Jeremiah also makes it clear that when the Jews come back in the land after being scattered among the nations, they will do so without the ark of the covenant:

Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,” says the Lord, “that they will say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore.

Jeremiah 3:16

And what do we see today? Israel back in the land without the ark! This was quite simply unthinkable at the time it was written, since it was indispensable to their worship.

What is more, the ancient nation of Israel was divided up into two kingdoms- the northern territory of Israel, and the southern territory of Judah, in the reign of king Jeroboam I,  and remained so. But the prophet Jeremiah informs us that when the people come back in the land in the latter days, there would no longer be such an administrative division:

In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance.

Jeremiah 3:18

What is the ‘northern land’ referred to in this verse of Scripture?

It could well be Russia, as some 1.2 million Israeli citizens originated there.

Isn’t the Bible remarkable for its accuracy? Surely, we are living in the times of fulfilled prophecy!

Already, we can see this gradual build-up (a Biblical “hook in the jaw”) with the hatred expressed by the politicians of many countries toward Israel as well as pervasive antisemitism(an irrational hatred of the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which is both trans-generational and global in reach). Sadly, one of Israel’s greatest enemies is the United Nations(UN)(Indeed, in light of its abject moral failures – a consequence of abandoning the Biblical God and the overwhelming archaeological evidence for the Jewish right to the land uncovered in recent years – it ought to be renamed the United Nothing). For example, Syria bombs its civilians with chlorine gas, China tortures dissidents, Venezuela restricts access to food, and Burma is engaged in the ethnic cleansing of its Muslim minority. Yet despite these atrocities, the UN Human Rights Council trains the bulk of its diatribe on, you’ve guessed it, Israel!

At the time of writing, 31 UN members don’t recognise the state of Israel. Additionally, the nations of Bolivia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Qatar and Venezuela have suspended ties to Israel. Most of these nations do not want the state of Israel to exist. There are also several countries, most notably Egypt, that recognise the state but almost always vote against it. That is how far-reaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become!

The UN has chosen to oppose Israel at nearly every turn because of the influence and encouragement of all of these member states. On the UN security council, Israel has the support of the U.S’s power of veto and is therefore safe from most harmful resolutions, but in the general assembly the anti-Israel countries almost always win out. The most recent example of this was the decision to condemn the United States for recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital even though they have every right to claim it as their own. That resolution overwhelmingly passed. But if the UN were nicer to Israel, every Muslim majority country in the world (except Albania and a few others) would withdraw from the organisation and thus would lose all of its influence over the Muslim world. There would be no more peacekeepers in Syria and Iraq, no nuclear weapons inspectors in Iran, etc. To my mind, the UN has strategically chosen to alienate Israel, over dozens of others. As a result, most Israelis are rightly suspicious of the UN to the extent that it’s somewhat of a mystery why they haven’t yet severed all ties with the organisation.

The so-called ‘Palestinian conflict stems from the claim that Palestinians are a valid ethnic group of people who occupied the land along with the Jews. But this claim is a complete lie, as anyone who has studied classical history can attest. Not once is the term ‘Palestine’ referred to in the Bible. Indeed, it actually derives from about 135 AD, when the Roman Emperor Hadrian (reigning from 117-138 AD), who in the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, laid waste Jerusalem and ostracised the Jews from the city, re-naming it, Aelia Capitolina after himself(Publius Aelius Hadrianus). Moreover, Hadrian re-named the province, Syria Palaestina, in a derogatory reference to Israel’s ancient and wicked enemies, the Philistines( originating from Greek stock).

Yet it is important to remember that both the UN and the state of Israel were both founded on very similar principles: the exercise of democracy, liberty, national self-determination, as well as freedom from persecution and the respect for basic human rights. But the simple truth is that the vast majority of countries that oppose Israel respect none of these principles, as their actions so clearly demonstrate. Moreover, most of them don’t even care for an independent Palestine either. They just view Israel as a convenient scapegoat. It is tragically ironic that the UN, an organisation that has done so much good for the world, is siding with tyrannical regimes rather than a nation that clearly shares its own values!

This is especially prescient in light of what was witnessed by the world when Israel was condemned by most of the international community who accused them of genocide in the 11-day long war with the terrorist organisation, Hamas, which took place in May 2021. Despite the fact that Hamas initiated the conflict by firing rockets – a few thousand in all – into Israel from the Gaza Strip. The corrupt mainstream media fanned the flames of antisemitism by siding with the Palestinian terrorists, resulting in mass protests and wicked violence against Jews all over the world. Some of the participants in these protests included Biblically illiterate(read clueless), ‘nominal’ Christians. Furthermore, such events are prophesised to escalate as we get closer and closer to the triumphant return of Christ to the Earth.

Sunset on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem. Image credit; Andrew Shiva.

The Bible also tells us that the people of Israel will not be uprooted again:

I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
 I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.

Amos 9: 14-15

All of those prophecies have now been fulfilled.

Israel, a vibrant, liberal democracy, is here to stay no matter what evil intentions the goat nations plot against her. This is in spite of the majority of their people’s stubborn unbelief in the true Messiah they had rejected 2,000 years ago. That said, the Messianic Jewish population (who accept Yeshua as their Lord and Saviour) has increased ten-fold to ~30,000 in just a decade! Truth be told, Israel is actually one of the most secular nations on Earth, with Tel Aviv having risen to notoriety in recent years as the gay capital of Europe/Middle East. The Bible addresses the spiritual blindness of Israel in both the Old and New Testaments;

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,

“He has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
    and understand with their heart, and turn,
    and I would heal them.”

Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.

                                                                                                                John 12:36-41

Jesus Christ ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and the Bible tells us that He will once again set foot on it at His second coming, where He will fight against those nations wishing to destroy Israel:

Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

Zechariah 14:3-4

So, we’re living in exciting times; times that most unbelievers are completely oblivious to; but that too was foretold. Israel is indeed the timepiece for understanding the climactic events in world history.

So keep watching Israel, the Biblical ‘fig tree’ and pray for the peace of Jerusalem(Psalm 122:6), as we are instructed to.

Neil English is the author of a large historical work; Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy.

De Fideli.

A Form of Child Abuse.

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
                                                                                                                  Matthew 18:6

The immortal words of Jesus Christ attest to His great love and care for children. He warned us about the grave dangers of indoctrinating young minds to the ways of the world. Yet, our educational institutions, all the way from kindergarten through University, place a maximum emphasis on teaching children that all of the grandeur of the natural world can be explained by known natural laws and actively discourage children from entertaining thought processes that appeal to the supernatural or the divine. But these findings fly in the face of recent research conducted by psychologists that reveal something altogether different:- that young children, irrespective of whether they are brought up by parents in a religious or a secular home, are strongly disposed to thinking that many natural phenomena have been intentionally created by non-human agents or a deity of sorts and, furthermore, ascribe purpose to natural objects. Sadly, by the time children reach adolescent ages, much of this design intuition is suppressed by educational and/or cultural conditioning as they fully engage with our secular societies, teachers and parental influences(1)

Beginning in the late 1920s, the Swiss child psychologist, Jean Piaget, came to some very surprising conclusions about young minds. In particular, he showed that, contrary to popular belief, children are not merely less sophisticated thinkers than adults, they are capable of thinking in radically different ways to adults. In particular, Piaget described children as ‘artificialists,’ who drew their subjective intentional experience to conclude that all things were created by people or intelligent agencies for a purpose(2). As such, Piaget concluded, children are broadly inclined to view natural phenomena, whether living or non-living, in teleological terms. For example, clouds are for ‘raining’ and lions are for ‘keeping in a zoo.’ Furthermore, when Piaget asked children how natural objects originated, they frequently identified ‘God’ as the cause. And not only that, they perceived this God as anthropomorphic, having an overarching authority of its own, like some kind of ‘super parent’ and could even formulate a mental representation of such an agency despite its intangibility to the senses(2).

Intuitive Theists
Piaget’s assertion that young children were incapable of distinguishing between human and non-human causes proved controversial though, and subsequent studies have shown that he was wrong on some of these issues. Young children can, in fact, identify some natural causes. Yet he was correct in saying that children start out with the intuition that the natural world was made for a purpose. Back in 2004, University of Boston child psychologist, Deborah Kelemen, provided strong evidence that young children (4-7 years of age) are “intuitive theists” who are “disposed to view natural phenomena as resulting from non-human design(3).”

Further work conducted by Kathleen Corriveau, also based at Boston University, conducted a study of 66 kindergarten children aged between 5 and 6 years, from religious and non-religious backgrounds(4). In the study, the children were presented with 3 different narratives; religious, historical and fantastical. Across the board, children thought the historical narratives were true. When it came to the religious narratives though, children brought up in religious homes were more likely to accept it as true than their counterparts raised in secular homes. The most striking difference Corriveau et al found came from the presentation of the fantastical narrative, where 87 per cent of the secular kids rejected as false, as compared to only 40 per cent of kids raised in religious homes(4). That said, Corriveau concluded that “religious children have a broader conception of what can actually happen.” What is more, she added, “exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction.”

What I found most striking is how these child psychologists reacted to their own findings. For example, Kelemen suggested an ‘interventive’ learning program in a storybook format (where have we heard that before?!) to ‘help’ them develop greater ‘scientific literacy’ at an early stage(3). For Kelemen at least, the correct way to think is to uncritically believe in unguided evolution, where the encouragement of religious streams of thought are portrayed negatively, specifically as a form of indoctrination.

Born Believers
Building on these findings of the University of Boston psychologists, Justin L. Barrett, based at the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at the University of Oxford concluded in his recent book, Born Believers, that “children tend to believe that the world has order and purpose and that there is a supernatural element to the origin of this order(5).” Indeed, Barrett further added that, “a child’s playing field is tilted towards religious beliefs.” Furthermore, he raises a very provocative question- what if the indoctrination, as implied by Kelemen, involves teaching children not to believe in God? What if there are tangible benefits to not only nurturing but further developing the ‘intuitive theists’ within every child? In this capacity, Barrett further suggests that religious thinking enriches the imagination and is absolutely vital for contemplating reality itself. After all, even the most ardent materialist would be hard pushed to deny that every now and then, the unusual or even the ‘fantastical’ can and even does happen. Tacit examples include peer-reviewed, clinically documented medical miracles that defy any rational explanation(6). Furthermore, Roger Trigg, a collaborator with Barnett at the University of Oxford’s Ian Ramsey Centre added these comments to Barnett’s findings;

“This project suggests that religion is not just something for a peculiar few to do on Sundays instead of playing golf. We have gathered a body of evidence that suggests that religion is a common fact of human nature across different societies. This suggests that attempts to suppress religion are likely to be short-lived, as human thought seems to be rooted to religious concepts such as the existence of supernatural agents or gods, and the possibility of an afterlife or pre-life(7).”

Clash of Worldviews
These research findings made by psychologists are at direct odds with sentiments popularly expressed by atheists. For example, Richard Dawkins, who has adopted a hard-line stance on raising children with religion stated that we should be instilling in children a healthy degree of scepticism, teaching them that “‘it’s too statistically improbable for a prince to turn into a frog.” The irony has not gone unnoticed on me though, given the stupendous odds of life emerging from lifeless molecules and evolving into higher organisms. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the three dimensional structure of the DNA double helix, also waded into the same argument when he reminded biologists that they “must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved(8).”

Molecular biologist Douglas Axe at Biola University, in his excellent book, Undeniable; How Biology Confirms our Intuition that Life is Designed, wholeheartedly agrees that children are born believers in a designing intelligence at the heart of living systems but extends it further to include cognitive science. He writes:

“The children whose simple view of life has proved superior to the view endorsed by the Royal Society and the National Academy also have a simple view of consciousness. Their view begins to take shape in infancy, with games like peekaboo where small hands over small eyes form a screen that momentarily isolates the inside world from the outside world…..Through countless learning moments like this, children build a connection between their inside world and the outside world, a connection far more profound than anything technology has given us(9).”

For Axe, the overwhelming richness displayed to us by the outside world is thoroughly complemented by an equally rich inner experience, “almost as if the two were made to go together(9)” So what materialists like Dawkins and Crick are actually saying is that we should completely ignore what is, in reality, intuitively obvious. Axe continues:

“In our childhood, if not since, our design intuition assured us that life could only be the handiwork of God, or someone like him. As universal as this intuition is, though, it is almost universally opposed by the technical experts on life. None of us have been able to erase the intuition but many of us struggle to defend it against this professional opposition – or even to know whether it ought to be defended(9).”

What does all of this smack of? We are, in effect, being asked to believe our lying eyes. At least that’s the way Frank Turek, a leading Christian apologist, sees it. In his book, Stealing from God: Why Athiests Need God to Make their Case, Turek brings his readers’ attention to the mind-boggling complexity of the living cell, replete as they are with molecular machines far in advance of anything humans can currently build. He writes;

“Our brains are the instruments through which we have thoughts, but the thoughts themselves are immaterial products of your immaterial mind. And it is our minds that make us rational, conscious agents, with the ability to make choices(10).” So what does all this mean? According to Turek, “it means that you shouldn’t abandon your common sense intuitions for the nonsense ideology of materialism(10).”

Scientific Language to the Rescue
But Turek also alerts us to another aspect of the design intuition that even secular scientists, unconsciously or not, engage in. And it pertains to the language used to describe the incredible molecular machines operating at the nanoscale in living systems. These are such engineering marvels “that biologists can’t help but describe their parts with engineering names. There are molecular motors, switches, shuttles, tweezers, propellers, stators, bushings, rotors, driveshafts etc. And together they operate with unrivalled precision and efficiency(10).”

What Turek is driving at here is that, regardless of whether the scientists accept or reject design as a real phenomenon in nature, their language compels them to describe it as such. This important point went largely unnoticed until relatively recently, but some scientists have begun to sound the alarm bells. Professor Randolph M. Nesse based at the Center for Evolution and Medicine at Arizona State University had these words to say regarding the state of emotion research;

“….progress in emotions research has been slowed by tacit creationism. By tacit creationism I mean viewing organisms as if they are products of design, without attributing the design to a deity. Few scientists attribute the characteristics of organisms to a supernatural power, but many nonetheless view organisms as if they were designed machine(s(11).”

Nesse urges his readers to be more reflective about couching the language of emotion research in terms of Darwinian materialism, but seems unaware that this ideology is now being ditched by leading life scientists because it simply doesn’t work and has had its day in the sun(12). Seen in this light, Nesse’s arguments seem counterintuitive at worst and self-defeating at best. After all, if the language of design best describes the workings of the human mind or any other living system for that matter, and if it’s perfectly intelligible when couched in those terms, it seems downright silly to me to make active steps to changing it! Worst still for Nesse, by describing living systems in terms of designed artefacts, scientists have opened up a brave new world of biological research called biomimetics, which, as its name implies, seeks to model new engineering structures by mimicking the genius designs at the heart of living things. What’s more, it’s already achieved spectacular success. For example, by studying the antics of swarming honeybees, engineers arrived at novel solutions to designing telecommunications networks, and in studying the complex aerodynamic motions of dragonflies, produced remarkable refinements in drone design.

In a fascinating article by the Blyth Institute(13), author Annie Crawford argues that since teleological(that is, design and purpose in nature) language is so deeply embedded in centuries of biological enquiry, it simply cannot be abstracted away without either partial or complete loss of intelligibility to the audience it is intended to be presented to. Crawford goes further still:

“It is disingenuous,” she writes, “to continue pretending that teleology is or can be divorced from biology. Indeed, it is the teleological character of life which makes it a unique phenomenon requiring a unique discipline of study distinct from physics or chemistry(13).”

In summary then, the design intuition appears to be hardwired into the human psyche, and while it is actively suppressed in our secular educational systems from kindergarten through University, it cannot be entirely eradicated. St. Paul expressed these conclusions with astonishing accuracy in his letter to the Romans:

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 people are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

What is more, human language reinforces this intuition, irrespective of whether or not we believe in creation or not. The more we learn about the world around us, the more it screams of design. And far from being a hindrance, the design intuition has proven to be spectacularly successful in cutting edge scientific and engineering research.

If it ain’t broke, why even begin to fix it?

References & Bibliography
1. Wells, J., A Child’s Intuition of Purpose in Nature is No Accident; https://evolutionnews.org/2018/06/a-childs-intuition-of-purpose-in-nature-is-no-accident/
2. Piaget, J. The Child’s Conception of the World, Joan and Andrew Tomlinson, trans. (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1929), 253.
3. Kelemen, D., “Are Children ‘Intuitive Theists’?” Psychological Science 15 (2004), 295–301.
4. Coriveau, K. et al, Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds, Cognitive Science, 39(2):353-82, 2015; https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cogs.12138
5. Barrett, J.L, The Science of Children’s Religious Belief, Simon & Schuster, 2012.
6. Strobel, L., Does Science Support Miracles? New Study Documents a Blind Woman’s Healing, The Stream May 16 2020; https://stream.org/does-science-support-miracles-new-study-documents-a-blind-womans-healing/
7. Humans ‘predisposed’ to believe in gods and the afterlife, Science Daily, July 4 2011, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714103828.htm
8. Crick, F., What Mad Pursuit, (Basic Books, 1988), 138.
9. Axe, D. Undeniable; How Biology Confirms Our Intuition that Life is Designed, Haper One, 2016
10. Turek, F, Stealing from God; Why Atheists Need God to Make their Case; Navpress, 2014
11. Nesse, R.M. Tacit Creationism in Emotion Research; http://emotionresearcher.com/tacit-creationism-in-emotion-research/
12. Behe, M. Citrate Spiral Death: https://evolutionnews.org/2020/06/citrate-death-spiral/
13. Crawford, A. Metaphor and Meaning in the Teleological Language of Biology, https://journals.blythinstitute.org/ojs/index.php/cbi/article/view/55/75

Dr. Neil English is the author of seven books in amateur and professional astronomy. His latest work, Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy, shows how, over the centuries, the majority of astronomers held to a strong Christian faith throughout their careers.

 

De Fideli.

 

Caveat Emptor!

 

August 30 2019

As you may gather, I’ve taken a keen, active interest in testing out binoculars with an aim to providing my readers with good quality products that won’t break the bank. As part of that process, I needed a few entry-level models to compare and contrast them with other products purporting to provide better optical quality. In one transaction, I purchased an Eyeskey labelled 8 x 32 roof prism binocular on August 5 2019 from eBay. It was brand new and set me back £37.79, taking about two weeks to ship directly from China to my home in Scotland.

Here is a photo of what I received:

The Eyeskey Package.

Here is a close-up photo of the Eyeskey binocular; the reader will note the texturing of the armoring and distinctive tripod adaptor cover

The Eyeskey 8 x 32 roof prism binocular.

Here is what it looks like from the ocular end:

Note the plain 8 x 32 & Bak4 Prism labelling on the focus wheel.

And here is a photo of the tethered rubber objective lens covers as well as the thumb indentations on the underside of the binocular:

Note the tethered rubber objective covers and thumb indentations on the Eyeskey.

After inspecting the Eyeskey binocular and its accessories, I recalled another binocular, marketed by a company called Avalonoptics.co.uk, which I had come across in a previous internet search.

Here is Avalon’s 8 x 32 Mini HD binoculars( all images taken from their website):

Avalon 8×32 Mini HD Binoculars BLACK

Here is an image of the entire package:

Here is an image of the writing on the focusing wheel:

Note the thumb indentations on the under side of the barrels on the Avalon:

And here is an image of the tethered objective covers on the Avalon:

 

Next, I took a look at the specifications of both models.

You can view the Avalon specs here

And here are the Eyskey specs( source eBay):

8561-8X32_01

Both claim to be fully multicoated, are nitogen filled and fog proof, but there is no mention of a phase coating on either model.

There is a few differences in the quoted specifications. The advertised field of view is 6.78 degrees for the Eyeskey and 6.9 degrees for the Avalon model; quite close. Eye relief is quoted as 18mm for the Eyeskey and 15mm for the Avalon, but these figures can often be incorrect or at least misleading(as I will explain in another up-and-coming binocular review). The Eyeskey has an advertised weight of 18.3 oz = 519 grams, whereas the Avalon has a quoted weight of 416 grams.

Weight can also be misleading though, as it can vary according to whether you include the lens covers and strap etc.

The boxes look pretty similar with just different logos on them, same goes for the neck strap and generic instruction sheet.

Now for the price comparison:

Eyeskey 8 x 32: £37.79

Avalon 8 x 32 Mini HD: £119(recently discounted 20% from £149)

Finally, have a look at this youtube presentation of the said Avalon Mini HD binocular here.

Is the Eyskey 8 x 32 model worth the £37.79?

I suppose for what you get it’s a bargain.

But what about the Avalon?

I’ll leave that up to you to decide!

Caveat Emptor!

 

Update: September 16 2020

I have been monitoring a website that sells Avalon binoculars and noted a number of irregularities that continue to concern me. If you click on this link, you’ll see a model called the Avalon Titan ED 10 x 42. If you scroll through the marketing blurb and the specifications of the binocular, its main feature is ED glass. But there is no mention of phase coatings, type of multi-coating, or dielectric coatings, the material out of which the chassis is constructed etc which I would expect given the very high price of the binocular; a whopping £1099 UK! You will also note that the packaging looks very similar to the Eyeskey model featured above, with a generic (one page) instruction sheet. To say the least, I would have expected far more technical information about such an expensive binocular, especially when it retails for more than top branded models from Zeiss and Leica, for example.

I dispatched an email to the said company a week ago, where I asked why the Titan model(weighing a whopping 1.3 kilos) was so much more expensive than their other models given the very sparse information provided on the website. I received no response. I sent another email to the company yesterday and it too has fallen on deaf ears!

 

The company has also produced a number of dodgy youtube videos  and have even used a ‘mathematical ecologist’ ( ooooh) to flog their gear.

The same website sells Zeiss Terra ED binoculars at greatly marked up prices. For example, the Terra ED pocket ( 8x 25) glass is on sale for £489 UK in comparison to nearly all other retailers( ~£250).

Needless to say I am deeply suspicious of this company and would continue to caution customers to tread carefully in order to avoid disappointment.

 

 

Neil English debunks many telescopic myths in his new historical work, Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy.

 

De Fideli.