Cleaning Newtonian Mirrors.

I’ve noticed that one issue that seems to give folk concern about investing in a good Newtonian pertains to having to clean the optics every now and again. I’ve never really understood this mindset though. Having had my closed-tube 8-inch Newtonian for about 18 months now, and having clocked up a few hundred hours of observations with it, I felt it was time to give the mirrors a cleaning. Here’s how I do it:

The mirrors are removed from the tube.

Two fairly grimy mirrors

Two fairly grimey mirrors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First I make sure that all the loose dust and debris has been blown off using an air brush. Next, I run some cold tap water into a sink and add a drop or two of washing up liquid. The water we use here is very soft; indeed we are graced with some of the softest water in the British Isles, which also makes drinking tea especially pleasant! If your local water source is hard, I’d definitely recommend using de-ionised/distilled water.

Starting with the secondary mirror, I dip my fingers into the water and apply some of it onto the mirror surface with my finger tips, gently cleaning it using vertical strokes. Did you know that your finger tips are softer than any man-made cloth and are thus ideal for cleaning delicate surfaces like telescope mirrors?

Finger-tip cleaning of the mirror.

Finger-tip cleaning of the mirror.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, the mirror reflective surface is rinsed under some cold, running tap water.

Rinse the secondary with some cold tap water.

Rinse the secondary with some cold tap water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The procedure is repeated for the primary mirror;

Gentle massaging of the mirror using the finger tips.

Gentle massaging of the mirror using the finger tips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rinsing the primary mirror using cold tap water

Rinsing the primary mirror using cold tap water.

The mirrors are then supported on their sides to allow them to drain excess water, and then left to dry in a warm, kitchen environment. Stubborn water droplets nucleating on the mirrors are removed using some absorbent tissue.

Washed and drying out in the kitchen.

Washed and drying out in the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the mirrors are placed back in the telescope tube, making sure not to over-tighten the screws which hold the primary in place inside its cell. All that remains then is to accurately align the optical train, as described previously.

There we are! Not so difficult after all; and all done in about 40 minutes! The soft water doesn’t show up any significant spots after cleaning unlike hard water sources and now the optics are as clean as the day they were produced.

With a busy season of optical testing and planetary observing ahead, I know that my 8-inch will be operating as well as it possibly can. And that’s surely good to know!

Gosh!

I feel a nice, hot cuppa is in order!

De Fideli.

The Sceptical Astronomer Part III: Evolution in the Spotlight.

Here I wish to continue the work presented in Part I and Part II of this topic

 

Do you accept the theory of biological evolution? If so, why? Do you have the necessary cognitive tools to assess the theory?  Are you equipped with the latest knowledge that enables you to critically appraise the theory in light of new research findings?

Here, I present a variety of evidentiary points, testimonies, discussions and philosophic discourses that raise legitimate arguments against the theory of evolution, as promulgated by biologists.

 

But you have chosen to measure, count, and weigh everything you do.

Wisdom 11:20

Amazing Mitochondria

A simplified schematic of mitochondrial protein translocation. Image credit: Francisco J Iborra , Hiroshi Kimura & Peter R. Cook.

A simplified schematic of mitochondrial protein translocation. Image credit: Francisco J Iborra , Hiroshi Kimura & Peter R. Cook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we saw in part II, mitochondria are a type of organelle found in complex cells that play a pivotal role in generating the lion’s share of the chemical energy needed for its sustenance. And as we also learned, mitochondria contain their very own DNA, which maintain 13 actively expressed genes that play the most important roles in deriving this energy from chemical substrates. Superficially, mitochondria resemble a type of bacterium called the α-proteobacteria, which has led evolutionary biologists to propose that they arose through a mechanism involving one cell ‘eating’ another cell, but instead of digesting it down to its molecular building blocks, it somehow survived inside the cell and learned to co-exist with the host cell. Over time, evolutionary biologists suggest, many of the genes that encode proteins that perform their tasks in the mitochondrion were transferred to the nucleus.

But this has raised all sorts of questions including why mitochondria reproduce in step with the rest of the cell and how lateral gene transfer occurred through the nuclear pore when it was designed for the passage of RNA and small proteins into the cytoplasm but not DNA?

Now the puzzle grows ever deeper and this time it pertains to the unique protein complexes that direct proteins synthesised in the cytoplasm into the various parts of the mitochondrion. The vast majority of proteins destined for the mitochondria are encoded in the nucleus and synthesized in the cytoplasm. These proteins are tagged by an N-terminal signal sequence, which we can think of as a kind of ‘zip code’. Following transport through the cytoplasm from the nucleus, the signal sequence is recognized by a receptor protein in the Translocase of the Outer Membrane (TOM) complex. The signal sequence and adjacent portions of the protein chain are inserted in the TOM complex, after which time they begin to interact with a Translocase of the Inner Membrane (TIM) complex, which are transiently linked at sites of close contact between the two membranes. The signal sequence is then translocated into the matrix in a process that requires an electrochemical proton gradient across the inner membrane. Mitochondrial Hsp70 protein then binds to regions of the protein chain and maintains it in an unfolded state as it moves into the matrix. Further enzymes are required to process the imported proteins so that they can carry out their duties either in the lumen of the mitochondrion, or inside/on its membrane.

Understanding how this highly coordinated biochemical system evolved has raised headaches for evolutionists. In his 2014 book, In Search of Cell History: The Evolution of Life’s Building Blocks, Franklin Harold, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Colorado State University, states that, “The origin of the machinery for protein import is more complicated and is subject to much debate………..Most of the transferred genes continue to support mitochondrial functions, having somehow acquired the targeting sequences that allow their protein products to be recognized by TOM and TIM and imported into the organelle.”

The molecular machines needed to carry out this extraordinarily complicated process appears to be yet another example of a so-called irreducibly complex system, that would simply fall to pieces if any of the component protein molecules failed to be present in the right place and at the right time. How did the proteins encoded by the nuclear genes acquire the correct zip codes to get ‘posted’ to the mitochondria, unless it was designed? This should give any reasonable person doubt that such a system could come into being piecemeal, via an evolutionary process. More details here.

Punk Eek

Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created.

Psalm 148:5

The longer the explanation the bigger the lie, so reads one ancient Chinese proverb. I find myself agreeing with this old adage, especially in relation to a new theory of evolution proposed by the late Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldredge and reproduced ad nauseam in our school and college textbooks. Acknowledging the lack of fossil evidence for Darwinian gradualism, they noted that new forms of life appear suddenly after long periods of stasis.  And that stasis itself was data, they noted. They proposed that the individual is not the unit of evolutionary change but the species as a whole. Gould and Eldredge proposed a mechanism called ‘allopatric speciation’ to attempt to explain away the abrupt appearance of the fossil record. In this scheme of events, a sub-population becomes geographically isolated by some kind of environmental change, such as the building of a mountain range or the shifting of a river’s course. The isolated population then evolves new traits from the ‘father’ species. When pressed about how such changes occur so rapidly, they could only offer the standard Darwinian narrative; descent with modification. Acknowledging the long periods of stasis followed by rapid speciation, they called their theory ‘Punctuated Equilibrium’ or ‘Punk Eek’ for short.

As a keen student of evolutionary biology, I have always found this theory to be mere ‘hand waving’, as it seemed to ‘explain away’ the missing fossils without providing a clear mechanism for those changes. Words, words and more words!

And that’s not good enough!

But it gets worst still for Punk Eek, for it has been discredited by a number of studies in the real world. Back in 2001, scientists from the University of Oregon showed that environmental fragmentation – a necessary prerequisite for punk eek to work – was overwhelmingly more likely to drive a species to extinction than anything else.

In yet another study of collared lizards in the Missouri Ozarks carried out in 2001 by a team of scientists from Washington University, they showed the same thing: perturbation of the environment leads to extinction rather than speciation.

Gould and Eldredge’s theory is, by their own admission, a descriptive theory of large-scale patterns over geological time, not a theory of genetic process. But if genetic process could not accomplish large-scale patterns, their theory becomes mute. A raft of more recent studies discussed in Part II of this blog show that if such rapid speciation were to occur it would necessarily involve mutations to the genes that play a role in the development of body plans and all such studies show that tampering with them leads to disastrous results.

The simplest and best explanation is that God both creates and destroys species in waves that improve their efficiency, and in order to cultivate an optimum environment for the emergence of the human species, the crown of His creation.

Further Reading: Meyer, S.C, Darwin’s Doubt, Chapter 7 (2013).

 

What Evolutionists Predicted and Got Wrong

Wee Pinochio

Wee Pinocchio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?

Psalm 94:9

 

The distinguished philosopher of science, Karl Popper (1902-94), in his great work, The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge, famously said of scientific inquiry:

“In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”

Over the years, many of the predictions made by evolutionists have turned out to be false;

These include:

(1) The DNA code is not unique.
(2) Mutations are random to an organism’s needs, not adaptive.
(3) Proteins evolve.
(4) The molecular clock keeps ‘evolutionary’ time.
(5) Similar species share similar genes.
(6) The species should form an evolutionary tree.
(7) Complex structures derive from simpler structures.
(8) Structures don’t form before there is a need for them.
(9) Functionally unconstrained DNA is not conserved.
(10) Natura non saltum facit !
What we have seen over the years however, is that whenever evolution is falsified, the theory itself evolves and its remaining adherents protect it from falsification.
And that’s not good science now is it!
For more things that evolutionists theorised, but were subsequently proved false, see this link.

Scientists Create Irreducibly Complex Bacterial Cells

Wee bugs.

Wee bugs. Image credit: Wiki Commons

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Matthew 6:28-29

Continuing a story reported in Part I of this blog, the American molecular biologist, J. Craig Venter, heading a team of scientists managed to chemically synthesise the entire (1079 kilobases) genome of the bacteria Mycoplasma mycoides, containing over 900 genes. In a very significant development, published in the March 25 2016 of Science, Venter’s group managed to reduce this genome size by almost half, creating a new, viable organism containing just 473 genes! Many of the genes in this ‘minimalist’ genome encode known proteins which pay pivotal roles in maintaining the cell cycle (it reproduces every 180 minutes under ideal laboratory conditions), but a further 149 of these genes have unknown function, probably related to maintaining an adequate fitness level in the organism.

But this raises a series of interesting questions: if a minimum of 473 genes are required to maintain life functions, it is quite clearly irreducibly complex, rather like stripping a car down to its minimalist form. Anything less and it just doesn’t work properly. And extending the car analogy, do you really think even a minimalist design could come about all by itself? Why don’t we see them popping spontaneously into existence in the junk yards of the earth? What is more, where did the cell come from in the first place? Where did the information contained in its genome derive from? Certainly not a blind, stochastic process envisaged by evolutionists!

What is clear is that the science underlying the inference to design in nature stands on solid ground. The truth will always win out, of course, though it may tarry in doing so. But what we can say with certainty is that the tide has well and truly turned on Darwin’s 19th century creation myth. Whether you’re talking about a car or a ‘minimalist cell’, it just won’t happen without a designer.

Time to jump ship perhaps?

Changing Culture

People power, ken.

People power, ken. Image credit: Wiki Commons.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

One of the main obstacles to the growing number of scientists who don’t accept the evolutionary paradigm as true science, is the traditional Marxist-like rhetoric of Neo-Darwinian adherents, who are unwilling to listen to those who have found serious scientific objections to their theories.

Thankfully, things are definitely looking up. In a new US national survey, Americans overwhelmingly supported the right of students, teachers, and scientists to discuss dissenting scientific views on evolutionary biology.

That’s such good news don’t you think?

We can only expect an avalanche of more dissent in the coming years!

The Nazi-Evolution Connection

Romani children in Auschwitz, victims of medical experiments. Image credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Romani children in Auschwitz, victims of medical experiments. Image credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

Darwinian evolution theory not only presents erroneous science, but in the wrong hands, it has been used to justify human depravity on a grand scale. Dr. Richard Weikart, Professor of History at California State University, has dedicated a considerable amount of his professional career studying the ideologies that helped shape the rise of the Third Reich. His influential book, From Darwin to Hitler (2004) takes a comprehensive look at how Nazi ethics gradually changed the social, economic and political landscape from the traditional Judeo-Christian worldview into a system based on evolutionary dogma. Weikart provides solid evidence that Darwinism altered conceptions of human nature to such an extent that it completely devalued human life, and which ultimately contributed to eugenics and the justification of ‘scientific’ racism that became widespread in Germany, the United States, and Europe during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Intriguingly, one of the key individuals who shaped the new Nazi worldview was Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), the same biologist who faked drawings of animal embryos in order to demonstrate the ‘truth of evolution.’ As a result of the acceptance of these ideologies, abortions became widespread, the mentally ill, the deformed, the blind from birth, people with learning difficulties, as well as those with genetic diseases, were mercilessly taken from their families and sterilised/exterminated under special orders from Der Führer.

Make no mistake about it; the pseudoscience of evolution and its associated ideologies are the antithesis of the Judeo-Christian worldview, which it actively seeks to destroy. And that is why, ultimately, evolutionary theories are doomed to fail.

For more information on this important topic, please take the time to consider this insightful talk by Dr. Weikart.

Defending the Biblical Account of Human Origins

Louis Leakey examining skulls from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Image credit: Wiki Commons.

Louis Leakey examining skulls from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Image credit: Wiki Commons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

Over the last few decades many paleoanthropologists have been promulgating the view that humans evolved from other less advanced hominin species and in a way that contradicts the traditional Biblical account of human origins. And yet, all the while, the emerging scientific evidence actually comports with the accounts in the First Book of Moses – Genesis. In this talk, Dr. Fazale Rana shows how molecular anthropological evidence points to a single human pair – Adam and Eve arising at the same time (within the margins of error of the available data). This data is at odds with the evolutionary scenario which predicts multi-regional origins. See here for more details.

For still more information about this interesting topic look here.

Can the Fossil Record Establish Anything for Certain?

Recrystallized scleractinian coral (aragonite to calcite) from the Jurassic of southern Israel. Image credit: Wiki Commons.

Recrystallized scleractinian coral (aragonite to calcite) from the Jurassic of southern Israel. Image credit: Wiki Commons.

But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?

Job 28:12

As we have seen in previous blogs, the fossil record is woefully incomplete and looks nothing like the tree of life predicted by Darwinian theory. But of the fossils we do possess, is there really anything concrete that can be established from them?  In this article by William Dembski and Jonathan Wells, we discover the ad hoc way in which evolutionists cherry pick fossils to suit their own agenda and asks whether common descent can really be deduced from the data they do include.

OLD SETI-NEW SETI

Wee Alien fae space. Image credit: 20th Century Fox.

Wee Alien fae space. Image credit: 20th Century Fox.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am the Lord your God…You shall have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20:2-3

The folks at the SETI Institute seem to be getting rather desperate these days. After more than half a century of searching the galaxy for signs of ET, no one has phoned home. But because evolution is true, they just have to be there…..of course.

That’s why they’ve come up with a brand new stratagem……drum roll…….Project Hephaistos, named after the ancient Greek god of blacksmiths, who forged the magnificent weapons of legendary Olympian gods.

These aliens will be so advanced that they can cause stars and even whole galaxies to disappear……just like that! By looking through old sky surveys and comparing them with new ones, the researchers hope to uncover the mind-boggling magic of mega-advanced alien civilizations!

OOOOOOOOH…………..

And all the while they ignore the awesome engineering that goes into the simplest life forms on Earth!

I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you!

More on Project Asbestos, er, em, Hephaistos here.

Quis est meus proximus?

Resources for the Curious/ Undecided

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
James 1:2-3

As you may be aware, this blog has been going on for a few years now. During this time, I believe I have provided a wealth of scientific reasons to doubt the Darwinian evolutionary paradigm. I hope you will agree that it has no real explanatory power and fails to account for the record of nature, as revealed by ongoing scientific investigation.

This is where I would like to wind this blog up, but I would warmly encourage those who are undecided or the curious to regularly visit two websites which are far better resourced than I to keep track of the debate.

  1. Reasons to Believe
  2.  Evolution News

Links to these sites can be found on my home page.

There is also this rather devastating survey of origin of life research/ prebiotic chemistry by Professor James Tour, arguably the top ranking chemist in the world today.

 

Thank you for following me on my journey.

De Fideli.

 

 

The Sceptical Astronomer Part II: Evolution in the Spotlight.

Here I wish to continue the work presented in Part I of this topic.

 

Do you accept the theory of biological evolution? If so, why? Do you have the necessary cognitive tools to assess the theory?  Are you equipped with the latest knowledge that enables you to critically appraise the theory in light of new research findings?

Here, I present a variety of evidentiary points, testimonies, discussions and philosophic discourses that raise legitimate arguments against the theory of evolution, as promulgated by biologists.

 

Are Endogenous Retroviruses Really Evidence of the Evolutionary Paradigm?

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…

Romans 1:20

Retroviruses are entities that inject their genetic material into the cells of their hosts, where it is translated into messenger RNA, and then transcribed into new viral proteins that assemble into new viral particles before breaking out of the cells they find themselves in. In other words, they hijack the biochemical machinery of the host cell in order to replicate themselves. Many retroviral species (such as HIV), after arranging for the synthesis of a complementary copy of DNA, have this genetic material integrated into the DNA of their hosts, where, presumably, it remains dormant for an indefinite period before being triggered by some environmental cue to initiate a pathogenic sequence of events.  Over time, some of these so-called endogenous retroviral sequences (ERVs)  were thought to lose biological function and would, unwittingly, be passed down to new generations enabling molecular biologists to construct phylogenetic trees based on common descent.

By studying the genomes of non-human primates and fossilised hominin DNA, some scientists have claimed  that because similar, allegedly non-functional ERVs were found at identical loci within the genomes of humans and some extant primates, it offered ‘incontrovertible evidence’ for common descent. But as we have gained new knowledge about these sequences we find that this neo-Darwinian standpoint doesn’t quite stack up. For one thing, many retroviruses do not generally infect gametes and so can’t be passed through the germ line. Secondly, the sites of ERV incorporation are now known to be non-random and so might be expected to be inserted at similar locations within the genomes of similarly designed creatures. What is more, the ERVs were widely assumed to be ‘junk DNA’ by evolutionists, but, yet again, that assertion has proven to be false. ERVs have crucial roles to play in the immune system (with their insertion loci being strongly linked to how they function) and there is yet much we do not understand about them.

Where once ERVs were smugly offered up as solid evidence of the evolutionary paradigm in action, advancing knowledge has cast a long shadow of doubt on this. Indeed, as the writer of this article argues, they better fit a common design scheme of events than anything else.

You can get more up-to-date information about ERVs here.

World-leading Chemist Doubts Macroevolution.

Professor James M. Tour is an internationally respected chemist, based at Rice University, Texas. He is widely acknowledged as a pioneer in brave new fields including nanotechnology and molecular electronics. Dr. Tour clearly understands what Darwinian evolution entails, but in this essay he explains why macroevolution – the notion that one animal or plant ‘kind’ can gradually change into another ‘kind’ – has not been demonstrated.

Evolutionary Ideologies Stunting Real Scientific Progress.

The pseudoscience of evolution remains unsupported by hard facts that would convince any level-headed sceptic but, worst still, its ideologies actually stunt any meaningful scientific progress. It’s a bit like saying, “aperture doesn’t rule in telescopic astronomy.” Can you imagine just how destructive that would be if astronomers really believed that? We’d still be in the dark ages looking through pea shooters! In the link provided here, the distinguished plant geneticist, Dr. John C. Sanford (who has published more than 70 peer-reviewed papers) explains why scientists who express scepticism about the evolutionary paradigm run the risk of being ostracised by their peers. But, as you will discover from listening to his talk, there are more serious reasons why evolutionary ideology prevents true scientific progress to be made: without constructive dialogue and intellectual freedom, we have nothing.

The False Narrative of Evolutionary Adaptation.

Were you or I to design a self replicating machine, it would be beneficial to program it in such a way that it can adapt to changing environments, and, in so doing, maximise its chances of long-term survival. Such biological qualities would be the hallmark of exquisite design by an intelligent agent. And yet the simplest viruses carried along on the air, or the multitudinous ‘animalcules’ that teem in a drop of pond water display such an ability, as do all higher forms of life.  And yet evolutionists expect us to believe these traits to be ’emergent properties’ of blind, stochastic processes. These thorny issues are discussed further in this short essay by Yale University virologist, Dr. Anjeanette Roberts, who argues that the simplest and best explanation for adaptation is masterful design.

Origins of Life: a Closer Look.

Of all the unanswered questions in science, it is arguably the origin of life and the search for life elsewhere in the Universe that are drawing the largest pools of private funding. Both endeavours have used up a great deal of tax payers’ dollars, so much so that they are now almost exclusively paid for by wealthy benefactors who are rather desperate to find answers (Matthew 19:24), if only to try to justify their own world views. In a recent analysis, this author explored the question of whether even the simplest steps toward the formation of life could occur naturalistically, finding instead that any such scheme of events requires an intelligent agency and therefore could not have arisen by purely Darwinian means. By extension, this must also be true anywhere else in the Universe. See here for more details.

On Evolution & Having a Moral Compass.

If all life on Earth came into being by an evolutionary process, there ought to be no compelling reason to have a strong moral compass. Our efforts to express compassion, through acts of kindness and empathy could as well be seen as interfering with the natural order, where only the fittest should and can survive. Indeed, one could rationally argue that such behaviour would be more of a hindrance than a help to surviving and passing on one’s genes.The Bible uniquely explains where these virtues come from because only the Bible emphatically claims that we are made in the image of God – the upwelling of all goodness. This short essay explores these ideas more fully.

Is Theistic Evolution a Cop Out?

He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.

Proverbs 18:17

Some Christians believe that God could have employed an evolutionary process to bring about life on Earth, and humans in particular. In this scheme of events, God is seen as ‘interfering’ here and there with the Darwinian scheme of events, in order to overcome what otherwise would be impossible odds from a purely naturalistic perspective. On the face of it, it appears as though such Christians are attempting to maintain some kind of ‘scientific credibility’ simply because it’s ‘fashionable’ or ‘respectable’ to do so. But is this theologically acceptable?

I believe the Bible can inform us on such matters.

Thus saith the Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth;

Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.

                                                                          Jeremiah 33:25-6

Clearly, the Lord would no sooner change the laws of nature than abandon the ‘seed of Jacob and David.”

Thus, God’s laws (ordinances) are fixed, anchored if you like, to his personality.

So to tweak is to cheat, so to speak.

Theistic evolution, for many basic reasons, just doesn’t jibe with many Christian theologians and a growing number of physical scientists are suspicious of it.

World Leading Neuroscientist and US Presidential Candidate Refutes the Evolutionary Paradigm.

Dr. Ben Carson, a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and Republican candidate for the up-and-coming 2016 US Presidential Elections, speaks candidly about Creation Vs Evolution, highlighting some of the insuperable problems the evolutionary paradigm presents to a man of reason and faith.

Basic Math and Probability Continue to Confound Evolutionists.

At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

Matthew 11:25

When it boils down to it, basic probability arguments continue to confound evolutionists who stubbornly wallow in their ignorance. In this link, physicist, Stephen Myer, and molecular biologist, Doug Axe, address the staggering complexity at the heart of every cell. In particular, they consider a typical protein comprised of 150 amino acid sub-units. The order of these amino acids  (known to biochemists as its primary sequence) dictates how it will fold into the complex, three-dimensional conformation that allows it to carry out its particular catalytic duty (structure dictates function). Their published (peer reviewed) laboratory-based experiments show that one would have to search though 10^77 sequences to get just one functional protein! These data show that unless the precise genetic information is provided first, such a protein wouldn’t have a ghost of chance of achieving it randomly i.e. in a (necessarily) stochastic Darwinian scenario.

For more on biological information, take a look at this interesting link.

LIfe at the Molecular Level Displays the Unmistakable Attributes of Design

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Psalm 139:14

In the October 2015 Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) Conference, biochemist, Dr. Fazale Rana, himself an expert on origin of life research, explains how the evolutionary paradigm fails miserably to account for the origin and wondrous complexity of living systems but instead reflects the unmistakable hallmarks of masterful design. You can view his talk here.

Eminent Mathematician Denies Darwin.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

                                Romans 1:20

Many learned men outside of the biological sciences are sceptical of the evolutionary paradigm.

Dr. John Lennox, distinguished Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, publicly refutes the theory of evolution here.

Why Evolution Cannot Produce New Species

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

                                                                                                                     Genesis 1:25

Unless their size be minute and their numbers legion, Darwinian mechanisms have no creative power over living things, and even then there is never a change in kind, just as our Lord declared to men long ago. To see why, see this short clip.

How Advances in Synthetic Biology Unwittingly Undermine the Evolutionary Paradigm.

Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

                                                                                                                  Ecclesiastes 8:17

Molecular biologists have made significant advances in designing self replicating proto-cells which, they claim, reinforces the evolutionary paradigm. A closer look at how they create these proto-cells shows that they could never come into existence in nature, but depend on the presence of intelligent agency at every step in their development. Full details here.

Debunking the Religion of Carl Sagan.

Carl Edward Sagan ( 1934-1996)

Carl Edward Sagan ( 1934-1996)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

                                                                                                                          John 1:3

It’s been over three decades since the inception of Carl Sagan’s highly acclaimed television series, based on his best-selling book, Cosmos. In one of those episodes, Dr. Sagan presents an animated version of how he thought evolution could proceed from simple chemicals into advanced lifeforms. You can view this clip here.

Some points to note:

  1. There is zero evidence for a primordial soup.
  2. Chemists have yet to identify any credible sequence of reactions that could generate homochiral molecules on the primordial Earth.
  3. The first cellular lifeforms to appear 3.8 billion years ago were very likely complex.
  4. The first complex animals to emerge during the Ediacaran and Cambrian epochs required larger genomes, specifying a great deal more information. Not only has the origin of that novel genetic inventory not been elucidated, but evolutionists have not explained how such a dramatic turning for life on Earth could have occurred in such a rapid (in geological terms) timescale.
  5. Science has not yielded the transitional forms discussed in the video.

In short, this presentation is fallacious in almost every way, a fairy tale creation myth conjured up by men who refused to recognise their Lord.

A Bible Teacher Speaks Openly about Evolution and its Problems.

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

Hebrews 13:9

Internationally respected Bible teacher, David Pawson, talks frankly about the evolutionary paradigm, and the adverse effects it had on Darwin himself and his family.

A Physician Debunks the Evolutionary Paradigm Relating to the so-called ‘Bad Design’ of the Human Eye.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Collosians 2:8

Their hearts darkened, die hard evolutionists have attempted to show that the human eye is ‘badly designed’ and therefore is better explained by a blind, stochastic Darwinian scheme of events. But is that really the case? In matters such as these, it is always best to lean on the expertise of physicians, who have dedicated their careers to understanding the eye from an anatomical, physiological and histological perspective. In this link, physician, Dr. Eddy M. del Rio, casts his highly trained eye over this subject, concluding that by far the best explanation for their coming into being is exquisite design by a masterful engineer.

Leading Biochemist Speaks Frankly about the Intellectual Dishonesty of Darwinian Evolution.

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

John 6:33

The distinguished biochemist, Dr. Michael Denton, speaks honestly and openly about the problems associated with the evolutionary paradigm. And while Dr. Denton holds out for a more complete theory that can supersede our current and wholly inadequate scientific ideas about our biosphere, no such theory has emerged. At the end of the interview, Denton (an avowed agnostic) claims that a creationist account leaves too much of an intellectual vacuum, while at the same time alluding that nature reveals purpose and design at every conceivable level. Furthermore, while Denton holds out for a naturalistic explanation, he’s own non-Darwinian evolutionary theories cannot occur within a naturalistic framework.

You can’t have it both ways Dr. Denton!

The laws that govern nature cannot and did not bring life into being!

Human beings create complex objects every passing day without violating natural law; how much more so can the living God?

This interesting interview can be viewed here.

A Modern Day Persecution: What Happens to Scientists who Don’t Accept the Evolutionary Paradigm?

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10

Despite the growing dissent to evolutionary atheism, it is still the case that many scientists who express doubts about the evolutionary paradigm have lost their jobs and/or have never received tenure. In this video link Dr. Gerry Bergman, a former Professor of Human Biology, talks about how he personally experienced persecution for his disbelief in evolutionary theories by being fired from his professorial chair at Bowling Green State University in 1978. I hope you’ll agree that this is a tragic and unacceptable form of intellectual bullying.

Bless you Dr. Bergman, you have God on your side!

A Science of Fakes & Fads

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

2 Thessalonians 2:11

The allegory of Darwinian evolution is one of hoaxes, smoke & mirrors and endless back-tracking. In the following two essays, you’ll learn about some of the subtil twists and turns cultivated by evolutionists over the years, as well as learning more about the junk DNA debacle.

Whence Cometh Brain Power?

For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.

Isaiah 45:18

As we have seen previously, the origin of complex animal life remains an intractable problem for evolutionists. From out of nowhere, the first multi-cellular creatures emerged 575 million years ago in the Avalon explosion and by 545 million years ago, the Cambrian produced about 80 per cent of the complex animal phyla – replete with perfectly formed eyes and skeletons – that grace the Earth ’til this day. Back in 2008 neuroscientist, Nicholas Strausfeld, based at the University of Arizona, described the fossilised nervous system of a shrimp-like creature in Cambrian shale with a brain made from three parts, like that of extant animals. This presented a new problem for evolutionary biologists seeking to explain how it originated when there were no antecedents to call upon. Sceptics dismissed this as an anomaly, claiming that brain structures could not be preserved for half a billion years, but two new studies have not only shown how such tissue can be fossilised, but seven new fossils have revealed this same, three-part brain structure; a basic pattern displayed in all complex animals and humans too. As this article explains, evolutionists can provide no naturalistic explanation for the sudden appearance of animals with perfectly formed anatomies, which now includes brains as well.

Doubtless, there is a rational explanation for all of this though, it just ain’t naturalistic, that’s all.

Time and time again, the Holy Bible informs us that the Lord created all living things as they are, for His pleasure, and for our subjugation. It really is that simple, yet nothing but hubris continues to blind evolutionists, determined to keep running away from the only God, the living God.

Lingua Franca

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel. Source wiki common/

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel. Source wiki common.

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

Genesis 11:1-9

Language is one of the defining features of humanity. Whether deaf, blind, mute, or graced with the full panoply of apparatus, all humans have the capacity for symbolic thought that appears to be unique to our kind. Yet, after centuries of vigorous scholarly study, no consensus on the origin of these languages has been forthcoming. One reasonable approach adopted by researchers is to assume that language has evolved over the millennia, as it does now, and by studying simple words like “I”, “ye”, “fire”, “hand”, “man” etc, and how fast they change in the various languages of the nations, it is possible, at least in principle, to determine when they first emerged and whether they originated from a single source.

This very approach was employed by British evolutionary biologist Mark Pagels, based at the University of Reading. Astonishingly, in a paper published in the May 6 2013 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Pagels was able to show that all European and Asian peoples may have had a common language as recently as 15,000 years ago. In the same paper, Dr. Pagels openly concedes that other insights garnered from archaeology, paleoanthropology, genetics etc, would need to be brought to bear to trace the origin of language further back in time.  In a more recent paper, dated August 26, 2014, and written by leading linguistic experts including, Noam Chowsky, Johan J. Bolhuis and Ian Tattersall, the authors admit that explaining the origin of language from a Darwinian standpoint is fraught with difficulty.

Calling upon a half dozen scientific disciplines, the authors argue that language is not one and the same as having the ability to communicate. For instance, the animals we share this world with can and do communicate, but that is not to say that they possess language. Nor is language to be confused with speech. Language, they assert, is a cognitive process that has its origin in neural activity, which in turn dictates vocalisation. Furthermore, language is still possible even when humans lack the capacity for vocalisation. For instance, the mute communicate by signing, but not through vocal speech. And yet, they have the same language capacity as people who have normal powers of speech because the neural apparatus required for language is already in place, buried deep inside their brains.

Because language is inextricably linked to symbolic thought, the authors reasonably suggest that it can be traced back to between 150,000 to 80,000 years ago – the time window during which anatomically ‘modern’ humans emerged on the scene. This is also strongly correlated with technological advances that are not evident in other hominins such as the Neanderthals, which failed to show any significant technological advance from the time of their origination some 250,000 years ago, until their extinction some 40,000 years ago, and thus, by implication, did not possess complex language. Using various evolutionary models, the authors conclude that: “the language faculty is an extremely recent acquisition in our lineage, and it was acquired not in the context of slow gradual modification of pre-existing systems under natural selection but in a single, rapid, emergent event that built upon those prior systems but was not predicted by them…”

The long and the short of these studies is that human language cannot be explained in a Darwinian context. And yet, the account in Genesis 11 is wholly consistent with humanity originating in one place and at one time in history, as well the sudden appearance of the  languages, and that they were instigated by God to stem the rise of a one world government system, where evil and corruption would suppress spiritual growth.

 

Mass Extinction Events Leave no Room for Evolutionary Advancement

Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.
Psalm 104:29-30

The Cretaceous-Paloegene Event which removed 75 per cent of all plants and animal species on Earth beginning 66 million years ago, was followed by rapid speciation and the ushering in of the Cenzoic era, that still continues today. The event was characterised by a marked increase in global volcanic activity which included the Deccan super-volcanoes of India, as well as the Chicxulub asteroid impact event. Evolutionists had long hoped that these events would have drastically reduced rather than completely extirpated many of these species and that there was a sufficiently long time between them to explain this rapid speciation in a Darwinian context. Unfortunately, new research has dashed their hopes. As this article explains, these devastating events were not only more severe than previously entertained but they peaked at the same time (within 50,000 years of each other). Collectively, these data show that the Cretaceous-Paloegene mass extinction event was not only sudden but also thorough in its devastation. As a result, the subsequent mass speciation that occurred after these events could not have come about by an evolutionary process but it is wholly compatible with an act of creative will. The Lord wiped away these ecosystems because they were no longer efficient enough at removing carbon dioxide from the air (1700 ppm before the event and just 500ppm thereafter) and so, with an ever brightening Sun, might have resulted in a run-away greenhouse event that would make future life, and especially human life, impossible.

How caring and thoughtful is our heavenly Father, who sustains your every breath!

Give ear to Him this day!

Alien & Crystal Worshippers:- A Sermon Against Evolution

My son, fear the LORD and the king: and associate not with them that are given to change:

Proverbs 24:21

In the same way that atheism can be shown to be an intellectually vacuous position, so too is belief in the theory of evolution. In this link, which records the words delivered in an actual sermon by a Roman Catholic priest,  you can learn of more theological reasons to reject the evolutionary paradigm outright.

More on crystal worship here.

On Making Predictions

For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?
Deuteronomy 4:32

Human beings, uniquely created in the image and likeness of God, when provided with a critical mass of evidence, instinctively know when a world view is conceptually wrong. One of the fundamental problems with the evolutionary paradigm is that it fails time and time again to make predictions, either accurate or even approximate. This is not a ‘weakness’ that can be refined in the goodness of time. On the contrary, the more the theory is examined critically, the more inadequate it becomes as an explanation for the origin and diversification of life on Earth. In this article, you can explore the latest proclamations of evolutionists assessing their own theories! I hope you will agree it doesn’t paint the evolutionary paradigm in an exalted light.

SETI’s Double Standards

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They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
Deuteronomy 32:17

In the 1997 film, Contact, based on a novel by the late Carl Sagan, the central character, Dr. Ellie Arroway, discovers a radio signal despatched from the bright star, Vega. The message is simple; a series of pulses counting out all of the prime numbers between 1 and 100:- 2, 3, 5, 7,11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31 etc. Since there was no known natural source that could generate primes, Arroway correctly deduced that it was generated by an intelligent agent, even though she had no idea what kind of being it could possibly be. Instinctively, Dr. Arroway inferred ‘upwards’ towards the ultimate causation of the signal rather than ‘downwards’ to chance and necessity. The meaning (semiotics) of the signal would provide irrefutable evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence.

And yet, all the while, the grand synthesis of molecular biology has revealed the following:

1. Life requires a complex DNA data base of digital information.
2. The only source we know of such semiotic complexity is intelligence.
3.Theoretical computer science continues to indicate that unguided chance and necessity are incapable of producing semiotic complexity.

We receive a sequence of prime numbers and infer its intelligent origin.
We see unmistakable signs of master design in the cell and continue to believe that it arose by chance.
We have a contradiction here; a profoundly unscientific attitude, an unwillingness to follow the evidence where it clearly leads simply because the implications of doing so are not ‘palatable’.

Well, I’ve got news for you.
If you believe this, you are not being scientific.
There is no wisdom here, only folly!

On Discernment

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Ephesians 4:13-14

One of the towering intellectual giants of the 20th century, the Irish-born Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963), started his adult life as an avowed atheist, “angry”, as he put it, “with God not existing.” But during his time at Oxford, he was taken under the wing of J.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson, who instilled in him a renewed vigour to actively seek the truth, and which led him to becoming a Christian in 1931.
Although universally admired for his classic novels, including the Chronicles of Narnia, what is not widely appreciated is that he remained a keen student of Darwinian evolution and its philosophical implications throughout his life. And while he did accept the basic precepts of natural selection, acting to produce small variations within an organism, which he rightly acknowledged as ‘self-evident’, C.S. Lewis never accepted its broader implications, such as its claim to evince a change in kind. As explained in this video clip, Lewis became a staunch sceptic of the evolutionary paradigm, rejecting outright the notion that God could have used an evolutionary process to bring about the staggering complexity of the biological realm.

Were he alive today, I doubt Lewis would have changed his mind.

Head Teacher Bullied on Social Media for Declaring Evolution a Theory

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

John 15:18

Christina Wilkinson, a primary school Headteacher at St Andrew’s Church of England school in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, has been attacked on twitter for denying that evolution is a fact and just a theory. Cyber thug, Richard Dawkins, weighed in, calling her ‘ignorant’ and ‘stupid’ and that claiming so was ‘child abuse’.  See here for more details.

Mrs. Wilson is of course, quite correct. Evolution is an exceeding poor theory that has no place at the table of serious ideas in biology. The fact that Dawkins had to weigh in speaks volumes about their agenda of hatred, as well as the growing threat from educated creationists who are now using the best science to debunk what is, at its heart, an evil ideology.

Like I said before, why put your faith in a bunch of Marxist mutton heads who couldn’t solve a quadratic equation between them?

Having two intelligent boys going through primary school here in Scotland, I can assure you that when the time comes to debate the issue, they will be equipped with the best science to argue objectively with the most ardent evolutionist in the classroom.

God bless you Mrs. Wilson. As a Christian, it comes with the territory and is ‘sign of the times’. I pray that you will not lose your job.

The Trouble with Phosphorus

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:

Isaiah 1:18

Phosphorus plays a pivotal role in life chemistry. Coupled to oxygen, phosphate is necessary for the production of the universal energy currency of living systems – ATP – and forms a crucial back bone in information-rich polymers, such as DNA and RNA. Phosphorylation events also play crucial roles in signal transduction within the cell.  Prebiotic chemists have been searching for ways in which such phosphate could be coupled to biologically relevant precursors but have been plagued by fundamental problems. For one thing, alkaline earth metal ions, such as magnesium and calcium, are efficient chelators of phosphate and remove the vast majority of it in precipitation reactions. Undaunted, a team of researchers at the University of South Florida and the Georgia Institute of Technology began to investigate a special mineral found in meteorites called  schreibersite, which is comprised of iron and nickel phosphides, to determine whether it could generate phosphorylated nucleosides – the building blocks of the nucleic acids. The team reported that when the mineral was incubated under alkaline conditions and heated to between 150-175 degrees Fahrenheit, they achieved the phosphorylation of the three carbon sugar, glycerol, as well as some nucleosides. And while the researchers hailed this as an important step in chemical evolution, their results need to be seen in the cold light of day.

For one thing, the yields were extremely poor, typically less than a few per cent. Moreover, the reactions required exacting conditions, such as an alkaline pH and scrupulously clean apparatus; conditions which would not be anticipated on the primordial Earth. The mineral incubations were kept free from chemical contaminants, which would compete with the said reactions and likely reduce the already paltry yields further. What’s more, there is widespread scientific agreement that the early Earth oceans (before the continental land masses arose) were acidic, and not alkaline, as required for the aforementioned reactions. Finally, the phosphorylation events were not site specific as they are in bona fide biomolecules, but actually occurred at various sites, some of which are not relevant to biochemistry.

Understanding how the molecules of life came into being remains an intractable problem for research chemists and scuppers any realistic chances that a plausible chemical evolutionary scheme will ever be forthcoming. But they do say a lot about intelligent design, however. More details here.

On Making Distinctions

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Genesis 2:7

Many naturalists presume that Bible believing Christians align themselves with Young Earth Creationists (YECs); who embrace the idea that God made the heavens and the Earth in six literal days. YECs reject the evolutionary paradigm because they claim that the Universe is only about 6,000 years old, and so there was not enough time for evolution to take place. On the other hand, Old Earth Creationists (OECs) attest that the Universe and the Earth are old – 14 billion and 4.5 billions years, respectively – but do not necessarily accept the evolutionary paradigm. Those that do accept evolution entertain the idea that the Lord set in motion an evolutionary sequence of events that led to all the species of plant, animal and microbe we see on Earth today.

Where does the evidence lead? There now exists a wealth of data that show the Universe is ancient beyond ordinary human understanding. The cosmos had a definite beginning in space and time, just as Genesis 1:1 states. Only one holy book, the Bible, authentically makes such explicit claims. But while theistic evolutionists have tried to twist the Biblical narrative to make their position more appealing to a wider cross section of society, it is neither scientifically credible or consistent with the inspired words of Scripture.

In this link, Dr. Rick Philips argues persuasively and passionately that theistic evolution is unbiblical.

In this link, OEC Greg Koekl, founding member of Stand to Reason, further explains the distinctions between creationists.

In this link three scholars from the premiere science-faith thinktank, Reasons to Believe, explain why OECs can live comfortably without evolution.

Personally, while I am very sympathetic to the YEC cause, it really doesn’t matter whether the Earth is 5 billion or 6,000 years old; evolution fails miserably in both camps.

Evolutionary Pantheism in the Church?

For I am the Lord, I change not:
Malachi 3:6

Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)

Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) was a Jesuit priest, mystical philosopher and ET believer, who trained as a paleontologist and geologist. He was involved in the excavations that unearthed the famous Piltdown Man hoax as well as Peking Man, the fossils of which mysteriously disappeared.

Teilhard became obsessed with the evolutionary paradigm, believing that it was the be all and end all of existence. He even approved of eugenics as a way of ‘assisting evolution’. He coined the idea of the Omega Point, a kind of perfect state of being that we (and Christ himself!) kept evolving towards. Many of his ideas were completely contrary to the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church and, as a result, Teilhard was twice branded a heretic by the Roman See.

In his influential book, The Jesuits, Fr. Malachi Martin, described how the Jesuit Order embraced Teilhard’s ideas and had become “impregnated by his outlook.” The reader will note that the Jesuits have been described as the “cerebral cortex” of the Catholic Church.

Martin wrote that prior to the time of Teilhard:

Roman Catholics had always held that the emergence of Homo Sapiens was the direct act of separated creation by God, as outlined in the Garden of Eden account in the book of Genesis. For man, in Catholic doctrine, has a spiritual and immortal soul which could not “evolve” in any acceptable sense from material forms, even from “higher animals.” This is still the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. When Roman Catholic scholars who had accepted evolution as a fact tried to reconcile official doctrine with evolution, they assumed that God the Creator intervened at a certain moment in the evolutionary process and infused a spiritual and immortal soul into an already highly developed “higher animal.”

Pope Pius IX, the very same pontiff who declared ‘papal infallibility’ referred to Darwinian evolution as a “system which is repugnant at once to history, to the tradition of all peoples, to exact science, to observed facts, and even to Reason herself.”

Intriguingly though, Teilhard’s outrageous ideologies were actually praised by Pope Benedict XVI, and he was also noted for his contributions to theology in Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’.

See here for more details:

So, a man originally twice condemned as a heretic became the champion of the modern popes.
Why such revisionism? How can a theory that was once considered “repugnant” and an enemy of “reason” now be deemed acceptable?

I don’t understand!

Thankfully, some of the faithful are now becoming aware of Teilhard’s attempt to introduce his occultist brand of pantheism into the Roman Catholic Church by the back door. For more on Teilhard, evolution and Roman Catholicism see the following links:

Teilhard de Chardin: Poet or Fraud?

Teilhard and Evolution

Pope Francis and Teilhard

How Embryology Shows that Macroevolution is a Hoax.

Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb;
Isaiah 44:2

Evolutionary biologists have long sought to show that they can evince macro-evolutionary changes to organisms early in their embryological development, but as Dr Paul Nelson (PhD. Philosophy of Biology, University of Chicago), who has studied the academic literature very carefully shows, they have failed to demonstrate that this is the case. This is even acknowledged by experts in the field. Indeed, as you will see in this link, the earlier mutations occur, the more likely a creature fails to develop altogether. If you accept macro-evolution then you are privy to a lie. Are you prepared to live with that? Details here.

More on the Whale Evolution Deception.

And God created great whales.
Genesis 1:21

The allegory of the whale has been widely cited as the best ‘evidence’ of the ‘reality’ of evolution in action. But is it really? In this video link, we see that the ‘transitional forms’ used by proponents of evolution are in fact logical constructs fabricated by them. In this link, you’ll see that much of the so-called transitional forms are figments of the imagination of paleontologists, who have read too much into what the fossil evidence actually shows. See here for the full details.

What To Do with a Failed Theory in our Schools & Universities?
The pride of your heart has deceived you, you that dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that says in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
Obadiah 1:3

Let us tread fertile ground once again. Suppose you found a cellphone and after examining it in close detail, claimed that it came into being through blind, undirected processes. You would be laughed at, of course, as the idea is patently absurd. And yet this is precisely the same predicament we find ourselves in with evolutionary biology. If the central tenets of Darwinian evolution have all but collapsed around us, then why persist in teaching the theory in our schools and universities? In this debate, Stephen Myer, a scientist and philosopher, engages with Michael Shermer, a journalist and Editor in Chief of Sceptic Magazine. In this exchange, you will note that Shermer ducks all the major points raised by Myer and the folks who called into the show.

UV Light Stops Chemical Evolution in its Tracks

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And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 1:5

For many years, origin of life researchers have assumed ultraviolet light was one of the main energy sources used to drive prebiotic chemical reactions on the primordial Earth. Some 3.9 billion years ago, our world was devoid of a molecular oxygen-rich atmosphere and hence could not have formed an ozone layer. Because ultraviolet light has higher energy than visible light rays, prebiotic chemists have been using mercury lamps or either Fluorine or Argon-Fluorine lasers to simulate the UV flux incident upon the primordial Earth but new research casts fresh doubt on the efficacy of these UV sources to create any plausible prebiotic synthetic scheme.

In particular, a team of researchers based at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, pointed out that these UV sources emit at particular wavelengths and not over a broader range covering a continuum from 10nm to 400nm, which typifies the real UV output from the Sun. What is more, the researchers showed that some well-established synthetic schemes leading to the pyrimidines, cytosine and uracil (important components of RNA), which were found to be favoured at specific UV wavelengths, had much reduced yields when a broader range of UV wavelengths were adopted. Indeed, under these conditions, it was substantially the biologically irrelevant by- products that were produced.

This new research carried out by secular scientists in the field has thrown yet another proverbial spanner in the works for prebiotic chemists. Chemical evolution just isn’t tennis now is it? See here for full details.

A Failed World View

But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:

Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.

Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?

Job 12:7-9

Evolution-Jokes-01sm

Distinguished cell biologist, Dr. Stuart Newman, explains why Darwinian evolution is not up to task of explaining the splendour of the biological realm.

Distinguished immunologist, Dr. Donald L. Ewer, talks candidly about the inadequacy of Darwinian evolution in explaining the complexity of the vertebrate immune system.

An interesting talk concerning of the tree of life as promulgated by evolutionists.

 

Evo-Devo & the Creation of Monsters

The Hox genes of Drosophila melanogaster.

The Hox genes of Drosophila melanogaster.

 

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.

Psalm 50:10-11

 

Molecular biologists have uncovered genes that control the formation of body parts during embryonic development. Some of the most important of these are known as Hox genes.

Humans and all other mammals have 39 Hox genes. Individual Hox genes control the function of other types of genes, and the same Hox gene can control different sets of genes in different parts of the body. Once thought to act like molecular switches, Hox genes play an important role in the development of many different anatomical features, including limbs and fins, the spine, the digestive system, and the reproductive tract in diverse species of both invertebrate and vertebrate animals.

One of the most remarkable findings in this field was the discovery that in organisms as distinct as Drosophila – the common fruit fly – and in humans, the same defective Hox gene results in abnormal development of the eye. This is despite the fact that the eyes of the various animal phyla are completely different on a structural level! What is even more remarkable is that in animals displaying bilateral symmetry – including insects and vertebrates – their Hox genes are expressed in the same order as they are linearly arranged on the chromosome. Thus, Hox genes located at one end of the chromosome are expressed at the head of the embryo, whilst those located at the anterior part of the chromosome are expressed toward the tail end (illustrated above). No one knows how this remarkable symmetry came to be, but from an evolutionary standpoint it defies credibility and yet it is absolutely true!

Evolutionary developmental (whence ‘evo-devo’) biologists thought they were on to something big when they discovered Hox genes; if they could generate mutations in these  genes they could bring about macro-evolutionary change, by inducing large scale changes in morphology. This idea was brought to the fore by University of Indiana biologist, Jeffrey Schwartz.

Alas, the experimental evidence does not support this bold conjecture. Two biologists, William McGinnis and Michael Kuziora, based at the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University, have observed that most Hox gene mutations in fruit flies cause fatal birth defects. In other cases, the resultant Hox mutant phenotype, while remaining viable in the short term, are invariably too unfit to reproduce. And when they tamper with the Hox genes to produce an extra set of wings, Drosophila is rendered incapable of flight.

What is more, it has been discovered that Hox genes in all animal phyla are only expressed when the embryo reaches the 6,000 cell stage, i.e. after the basic geometric form of the organism has been established.  The Hox genes are necessary for proper regional and localised development within the organism.

Tampering with Hox genes produces no new kinds, only monsters.

Has the case for macro-evolution been demonstrated? No.

The Miracle of Mitochondria

The mitochondrial electron transport chain.

The mitochondrial electron transport chain.

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 1:31

All complex animals, plants and fungi show remarkable cellular complexity. In particular, there exist a number of discrete structures called organelles, which perform specialised biochemical tasks inside their cells. These include mitochondria, which function to generate 95 per cent of the chemical energy for the cell, and chloroplasts, which in plant cells, function to harness the energy of sunlight to fix carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide and synthesise sugars. Cells showing this division of labour are called eukaryotes. Simpler cells, such as those of bacteria, do not exhibit this degree of internal structuring and are called prokaryotes.

Mitochondria have sizes typical of small, free living bacteria. What is more, these organelles were found to have their own DNA. Evolutionary biologist, Lynn Margulis (1938-2011), proposed that eukaryotic cells came into being after a prokaryotic cell ‘ate’ (via a process known as endocytosis) other prokaryotic cells, which evolved over long periods of time events, and reproduced in step with the host cell in some sort of symbiosis (mutual advantage), by chance, before coming under the control of the primitive eukaryotic cell, which developed chromosome structures, a nuclear membrane and so on and so forth. Over time, portions of the mitochondrial and chloroplast genome happened to be translocated to the nucleus, leaving behind a small vestige of their original genetic inventory ie. the mitochondrial DNA we see today. It is also noteworthy that other organelles, such as mitosomes and hydrogenosomes, do not harbour genetic material.

But a closer look at this scenario raises a number of questions. For one thing, how could the enveloped cells reproduce in a synchronised way? How did lateral gene transfer occur through the nuclear pore when it was designed for the passage of mRNA and small proteins into the cytoplasm but not DNA?

What’s more, even if DNA were passed between the engulfed cell and the host cell, the host would respond by degrading the foreign DNA, because it would interpret it as a virus.These problems have been ignored or glossed over by proponents of the evolutionary paradigm.

The question of why mitochondria harbour DNA may be better explained by design rather than an evolutionary process. Intriguingly, new research lends support to the former hypothesis. In particular, a collaborative effort between a team of US and British scientists used a novel computer algorithm to analyse a great number of mitochondrial genomes across many phyla. Their results reveal the following:

Many mitochondrial genes code for hydrophobic proteins that embed in mitochondrial membranes. If these were expressed in the cytoplasm of the cell, they would wind up in the membranes of other organelles, wreaking havoc with the cell’s biochemical machinery.

Quite a number of mitochondrial genes code for proteins involved in the electron transport chain. Their translocation to the nucleus would greatly reduce the efficiency with which these polypeptides can be replaced once they become faulty or denatured.

The content of Guanine and Cytosine (G and C, respectively) is especially high in mitochondrial genes. A high GC content confers greater stability to these bases, allowing them to better survive against the degradative effects of  reactive oxygen species, such as superoxide anion and hydrogen peroxide (by products of the aerobic respiration).

So, it seems like there are very good reasons why mitochondria have maintained their genomes. It is very unlikely that such a scheme of events could come about by a blind evolutionary process, but it comports perfectly well with exquisite design by a mind far more advanced than human beings. See here for more details.

The Problem of Orphan Genes.

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 17:21

Orphan (literally ORfans, “open reading frames of unknown origin” )genes were first discovered when the yeast genome-sequencing project began in 1996. Orphan genes are defined as genes that lack detectable similarity to genes in other species and thus show no clear signs of common descent (i.e. homology). Orphan genes are distinguished from others in that they are lineage-specific, and have no known history of shared duplication or rearrangement outside of their particular species, or clade. Recent studies suggest that between 10 and 30 per cent of all the genes sequenced in the genomes of a large number of multicellular organisms are orphan. Couple this to the fact that most complex animals have ~10^4 genes and upwards.

Indeed, according to one recent paper “only a small set of genes seems to be universal across kingdoms, whereas the phylogenetic distribution of all other genes is restricted at different levels.”

When they were first discovered, many evolutionary biologists assumed that as more genomes were sequenced and added to the data base, homologues of these orphans would gradually show up. But quite the opposite is true. Like many other problems in molecular biology, orphan genes were completely unexpected by evolutionists whose mantra is “ descent  with modification.” And while some evolutionists have attempted to “explain away” their origin, there is no credible scientific evidence to explain why these unique genes exist. To me, the explanation for orphan genes is simpler; the Lord put them there to express the uniqueness of each species, a distinctive act of special creation, as if to say, “Wherever you look, here I Am!”

More on orphan genes here.

 

Origin of Life; Truly a No Go!

I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

Isaiah 45:5

A new scientific heavyweight, Professor James Tour, gives his verdict on origin of life research.

Icy interloper: Comet 17P Holmes. Image credit: Wiki Commons.

Icy interloper: Comet 17P Holmes. Image credit: Wiki Commons.

 

It Came from Outer Space-Not!

For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.

Proverbs 8:35

For many years, astrobiologists have surmised that the inventory of organic molecules needed to kick start chemical evolution on the primordial Earth could have been delivered by comets and asteroids. Comets in particular have been shown to be rich in volatile substances such as methanol (a poisonous substance more commonly known as wood alcohol) and ammonia ice, which might fragment and combine in a variety of ways to create biologically relevant molecules, such as amino acids and simple sugars. Recently a team of French scientists created artificial comet ice by introducing water vapour, methanol and ammonia  into a specially prepared vacuum chamber and freezing it to -200C. Next, they used an ultraviolet lamp to irradiate the ice and then analysed the chemicals it generated. The team reported the synthesis of some biologically relevant chemicals such as ribose, an important 5-carbon sugar required for the synthesis of information rich molecules such as RNA. The researchers claimed that this was an important milestone in unravelling a plausible prebiotic source for this sugar but a closer look at their experimental procedure reveals a raft of problems.

For one thing, the researchers employed pristine materials under highly controlled laboratory conditions, carefully excluding chemicals that would throw a proverbial spanner in the works. The UV lamp delivered specific wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation which seemed to allow a small amount of ribose to be synthesised, but if conducted in the vacuum of space, a broad continuum of UV wavelengths would have been incident on the comet ices and many of these wavelengths destroy rather than create anything of biological relevance. This is supported by extensive spectroscopic observations of cometary vapours, which have not identified ribose (or any other biologically relevant sugar), making it very unlikely to have been derived in this way.

Furthermore, while the researchers invoked a chemical mechanism known as the formose reaction, the reality is that the yields of ribose were only about 1 per cent among a plethora of other reaction side products with no biological relevance. Ribose is chemically unstable too, and would most likely react with other chemicals to make the pathway unviable. And even if such molecules could survive the severe heat shock that would attend entry into the Earth’s primordial atmosphere, they would be hopelessly diluted in the planet’s early oceans.

In summary, this research is yet another demonstration of intelligent design more than anything else. It is exceedingly unlikely to generate any plausible prebiotic chemical inventory under true environmental conditions – either in space or on Earth. And without chemical evolution there can be no Darwinian evolution.

See here for more details.

An Interview with Dr. Anthony Latham

I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

Isaiah 42:8

My compatriot, Dr. Anthony Latham, who now lives and works as a G.P. on the beautiful Outer Hebrides of Scotland, dedicated years of his life researching the evidence for and against the evolutionary paradigm. His very well received book, The Naked Emperor: Darwinism Exposed, focuses on the central tenets of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, revealing its complete inadequacy in explaining the origin and development of life on Earth. In this interesting interview, Dr. Latham speaks candidly about his researches and scepticism concerning evolutionary ideologies.

Playing the Waiting Game

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Psalm 19:7

The engine of evolutionary change requires the creation of new protein functions, but this invariably entails making a series of coordinated mutational alterations to the gene which encodes it. On the face of it, the intuitive response is that it would prove exceedingly improbable, increasing exponentially with the number of coordinated mutations required to manifest such an outcome, and in much the same way as the odds of acquiring one, two, three, four, five or six of the right numbers needed to win the lottery.

Professor of bochemistry, Michael Behe, based at Lehigh Univesity in Pennsylvania, and University of Pittsburgh physicist David Snook, addressed this very question in a ground breaking 2004 paper entitled “Simulating Evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues.” Using the principles of population genetics, they found that if generating a new gene required multiple coordinated mutations, then the waiting time would grow exponentially with each additional necessary mutational change. In particular, they studied how population sizes influenced the outcome, finding, not surprisingly that while larger populations reduced waiting times, smaller populations dramatically increased them. Specifically, their results showed that to evince just two coordinated mutations required a million generations but only if that population exceeded 1 trillion; a population size much greater than practically all individual animal species that have lived at any given time. Conversely, they showed that if the population size were only 1 million, it would take 10 billion generations to produce that change.

Curiously, in more recent research (2008) that attempted to refute their work, two Cornell University evolutionary biologists, Rick Durrett and Deena Schmidt, using a similar approach, calculated how long it would take to generate two coordinated mutations in the hominin line, separating the great apes from humans. Though their calculations reduced the time required to bring about such a change compared to that arrived at by Behe and Snook, it was still of the order of hundreds of millions of years! Indeed, the authors concluded that two or more coordinated mutations were “very unlikely  to occur on a reasonable timescale.”

That said, the reader will note that humans and chimps are thought to have diverged from a common ancestor just six million years ago!

Collectively, these results raise serious doubts about any evolutionary changes in animals with long lifespans (of the order of years) and small population sizes, particularly mammals, humans and their presumed ancestors. Clearly, neo-Darwinian mechanisms do not have the capacity to generate even two coordinated mutations in the time available for human evolution and so, cannot explain how humans arose.

Cooption: a non-Option

a dehydrogenase The three dimensional structure of the enzyme from the bacteria Colwellia psychrerythraea. Image credit: Matt Howard.

The three dimensional structure of a dehyrogenase enzyme from the bacteria Colwellia psychrerythraea. Image credit: Matt Howard.

The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.

Proverbs 19:3

Faced with the problems highlighted by Behe and Snook, some neo-Darwinists have proposed another way for proteins to evolve. Known as ‘cooption,’ this is the process by which a structure or system with an original function adds or changes to a new function. A gene encoding protein A might have duplicated and mutated to encode a slightly different protein which performed some advantageous function, enough to confer some advantage to the organism. Eventually, as mutations continued to generate new proteins that were close enough in sequence and structure that just one or two additional changes would be enough to convert it into protein B.

To ascertain whether this could conceivably happen over a time scale postulated by evolutionary theories, a team of scientists led by Doug Axe and Ann Gauger, based at the Biologic Institute in Seattle, devised an ingenious experiment to test the cooption hypothesis. Examining a raft of protein sequences from a data base, they identified two proteins that had a very similar amino acid sequence and three dimensional structure. The first of these enzymes is known as KbL2 which catalyses the degradation of the amino acid, threonine, and the other, known as BioF2, needed in the biosynthesis of the vitamin biotin.

If they could demonstrate that just a few coordinated mutations could bring about the transformation of KbL2 to BioF2, then this would indeed lend support to the cooption evolutionary hypothesis. But if this required multiple coordinated mutations, then it would indicate that any Darwinian mechanism could not bring about such a change in a reasonable amount of time. In a seminal paper published in 2010 entitled, “The Evolutionary Accessibility of New Enzyme Functions: A Case Study from the Biotin Pathway,” their results were clear and unambiguous; Axe and Gauger showed that they could not induce a cooptional effect with two, three, four, five or even six coordinated mutations. The implication, as the earlier work of Behe and Snook showed, is that this mechanism could not operate on timescales that would make the evolutionary scenario viable. Indeed, in their own words, Axe and Gauger concluded that “evolutionary innovations requiring that many changes….would be extraordinarily rare, becoming probable only on timescales much longer than the age of life on earth.”

An Enduring Mystery: Homology

For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

Hebrews 3:4

It has been noted for many centuries now that there are many anatomical similarities among the animals within a well-defined taxonomic group. A good example of homology is the pentadactyl (five-fingered) pattern of bones from the wing of a bat say, or the flipper of a dolphin, the leg of a horse or a human. Darwin believed that these homologies provided strong evidence for common descent, while his great contemporary, Sir Richard Owen, took it as evidence of common design, derived from a basic or archetypal plan set in place by the Creator.

If the Darwinian paradigm were correct, one should see strong evidence that the same genes give rise to these homologous organs across the various animals in a taxonomic group. Yet, as genetic evidence built up, it was clear that this is far from the truth. Indeed, it has been shown that regulatory genes which are homologous are often dedicated to organs that are not homologous. For example, the notch gene in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster plays important role in the formation of bristles and wings – structures that are clearly not homologous.

Indeed, as more and research was carried out on homology, the majority of cases showed the very opposite of what the Darwinian model predicted; that non-homologous genes encode factors that regulate supposedly ‘homologous’ structures. This puzzling situation was addressed by the American palaeontologist, Neil Shubin:

“It is clear from the fossil record that chordates and arthropods diverged at least by the Cambrian. The appendages of these two groups are not homologous because phylogenetically intermediate taxa (particularly basal chordates), do not possess comparable structures. The most surprising discovery of recent molecular studies, however is that much of the genetic machinery that pattern the appendages of arthropods, vertebrates and other phyla is similar.”

Thus, we can see that there is considerable confusion as to what the precise genetic basis is for homologies. If all life evolved from a common ancestor one should expect complete (or almost so) coherence. And yet it is simply not there.

One should also expect to see homology in the embryological development of animals such as reptiles, fish, amphibians and mammals. But this is not revealed by closer scrutiny. For example, the alimentary canal of the shark is formed from the roof of its gut cavity, and yet is derived from the floor of the same structure in lampreys. And in frogs, it originates from both the roof and the floor, while in mammals, the alimentary canal forms from a layer considerably lower down in the blastoderm.

In addition, the homologous fore-limbs develop from different trunk segments across different groups of animals. The same is true when one examines the amniotic membranes of birds and reptiles, which form in a completely different way to that of mammals.

Geneticist and evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900–1975) once wrote that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” But what we see in the case of genetics and embryology applied to the phenomenon of homology makes no sense at all.

The Mystery of Convergence

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

Matthew 6:22

One of the enduring mysteries of life is the case of convergence. The eye, for example, has appeared many times across many animal phyla. Broadly speaking, the eye takes two main forms, the compound eye, seen in arthropods, and the camera-like eye (like those of humans and cats say), which has emerged at least seven times in the animal world and, as we have seen, often without any structural antecedents in the fossil record (the Cambrian animals serving as an excellent example). Even evolutionists will concede that this striking recurrence of optical form could not conceivably have emerged from a common ancestor, before the putative divergence of these taxa. But why should there be convergence? The standard response is that it demonstrates how natural selection will arrive at the same or similar solution for organisms experiencing similar environmental cues. But certain types of annelid worms, jellyfish and several species of snail also have camera-like eyes, and so it is difficult to accept how their habitats have anything to do with the matter. To my mind, it’s simply a play on words and that simply isn’t good enough from a scientific perspective. How pray tell, would a jellyfish experience the same selection pressure as an air-breathing mammal or a soil dwelling worm?  If the evolutionary paradigm were even half credible, one ought to expect examples of convergence to be terribly rare (if ever); yet they’re everywhere in nature lol!

Convergences are inexplicable in a Darwinian context, but they make perfect sense within a creation framework, with each convergence displaying purpose and design.

More on the thorny issue of convergence here.

For the Birds

Wee birdie. Image credit: J.J. Harrison.

Wee birdie. Image credit: J.J. Harrison.

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

Genesis 1:20

 

We have seen how the Cambrian explosion was a creation event that led to the emergence of the majority of animal body plans in a geological instant, and which is totally inexplicable from a Darwinian standpoint. But it would be wrong to think that this was the only such ‘Big Bang’ in biology, especially when one considers the origin of birds. The hoopla began in 1871, when some quarry workmen at Pappenheim, Bavaria, uncovered a well preserved fossil of a creature with outstretched wings. This specimen was later named Archaeopteryx, one of six similar fossils uncovered from the now famous Upper Sonhofen Lithographic Limestone.

Archaeopteryx, which dates to around 147 million years ago, has features that are common to both reptiles and dinosaurs but not modern birds. For example, it displays a long, bony tail, teeth on both jaws and three distinct clawed fingers. In addition, and unlike modern birds, the sternum of Archaeopteryx is not keeled. Paleontologists have long cited this creature as evidence for the evolutionary paradigm, but it’s worth taking a closer look.

How did such a bird evolve feathers and wings; highly complex organs in a gradual process? Birds, unlike reptiles, are warm blooded. Their bones have been hollowed out to reduce weight, and their skulls must be rendered light and thin. Their hearts must be made more efficient to deliver adequate levels of oxygen to their flight muscles, necessitating a four chambered design. They would have to sprout specialised muscles to power their wings.The lungs of birds had to be enlarged and structurally altered, so as to optimise the exchange of gases. These alterations also required coordinated changes in brain structure so as to navigate while in the air.

And all of these changes have to happen together.

The fossil record doesn’t help, as there are no credible intermediates between dinosaurs and birds. Yes, palaeontologists have found some feathered creatures such as Sinosauropteryx, which had a skeletal system similar to a meat-eating dinosaur and feather-like down to insulate its body, but invariably these feathers were clearly not designed for flight! Other fossils such as Protarchaeopteryx robusta and Caudipteryx zoui, have been claimed to be ‘the immediate ancestors of the first birds.’ Yet these were subsequently dated at 120 to 136 million years. That places them younger than Archaeopteryx, a true bird!

Understanding how birds evolve essentially involves two schools of thought; arboreal and ground up. In the arboreal scenario, evolutionists envisage that tree-dwelling creatures evolved anatomical changes to help them jump from tree to tree, followed by ‘gliding’ and then fully-fledged flight. Ground up scenarios imagine a dinosaur developing shaggy scales that helped it flap along the surface better in search of flying insects or some such. Flapping flight also requires highly controlled muscle movements to get airborne, which in turn requires that the brain has to be re-programmed for these movements. Ultimately, this requires new genetic information that a non-flying creature lacks. It’s not hard to see the holes in all of this.

To take the guesswork out of paleontology, scientists turned to molecular genetics. The morphological changes that produce flying creatures ought to be reflected in the DNA of birds and, furthermore, one ought to able to reconstruct a phylogenetic tree that clearly shows the ‘descent with modification’ so necessary for the evolutionary paradigm to be credible. Alas, a massive and fairly recent study has unearthed quite the opposite; all birds emerged on the scene in an explosive event – dubbed the neoavian explosion – covering less than 10 million years. Moreover, the study found that the major inter-order groups diverged in an even more rapid explosion merely 1 to 3 million years in duration!

In an accompanying commentary to this study, the researchers stated the following:

When the researchers tried to build the new avian family tree, “we were shocked to find we couldn’t get a solid answer,” Jarvis recalls. As the consortium developed more sophisticated bioinformatics tools to analyze the genome data, they discovered that protein-coding genes by themselves were not the most reliable for building good trees. The non-coding regions within or between genes, called introns, gave better answers. And although the group had access to supercomputers, they still had to come up with a way to allocate the analysis to the machines’ many microprocessors. “It took 3 years to iron out the kinks,” Gilbert says.”

Let’s take a moment to consider their tactics. The data didn’t fit a treelike pattern. They then looked for ‘better answers’ that would square more easily with their world view. They weren’t going to reject common ancestry! Rather, they appealed to ad hoc explanations whenever necessary to explain why the data doesn’t fit a tree. Convergent (discussed above) evolution is just one of the mechanisms they invoked.

The power of words eh!

The expectation of these scientists was that molecular genetics would undergird morphological features but this is not what they found. It’s all just speculation and nothing that would convince a steely headed rationalist.

Here’s yet another commentary on an earlier (2008) study and why evolutionary theory really is for the birds.

Waking up to the Evolution Lie

Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;

Isaiah 44:24-25

Dr. Kevin Anderson, formerly Professor of Microbiology at Mississippi State University, explains why classic evolutionary ideology is now in terminal decline.

Mathematician, philosopher and theologian, William Dembski, explains why new advances in information theory are exposing Darwinian evolution as a pseudoscience.

A Jewish Rabbi, Elyahu Kin, speaks candidly about the fallacies of evolutionary ideology, as well as the aberrant psychology of evolutionists.

Evolution and its Consequences

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Matthew 23:24

 

Evolution is a secular religion, derived from pagan origins.

Evolution attracts and encourages atheists.

Evolution erodes belief in God’s sovereignty and omniscience.

Evolution could not have foreseen the emergence of humanity.

Evolution erodes the belief that God created Man to be good.

Evolution denies timeless standards of truth.

Evolution makes a mockery of Man’s need for redemption.

Evolution erodes the biblical idea that God gave us evidence of his handiwork.

Evolution teaches that humans are just smart animals.

Evolution has corrupted the minds of countless millions of Christians and Jews over the last two centuries.

Theistic evolutionists think evolution is ‘beautiful’.

Evolution; I spit in your hideous face!

Continued in Part III.

De Fideli.

Planetary Telescopes.

The author's plnetary telescope; a 8 inch f/6 Newtonian reffector.

The author’s planetary telescope; a 8 inch f/6 Newtonian Reflector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have:

Deuteronomy 25:15

Comments on planetary telescopes by established authorities** in the field over the last 130 years.

As a really efficient tool for systematic work on planets, telescopes of about 8 inch aperture cannot be surpassed. It is useless waiting for the two or three serene nights in a year when the whole diameter of a big instrument is available to really good effect. Amateurs urgently require the appliances most efficient under ordinary conditions and they will find a larger aperture of little avail until it is much reduced by a system of gagging and robbed of that very advantage which is extolled so much; namely grasp of light. The 18.5 inch equatorial of the Dearborn Observatory cost £3700, the great Washington refractor £9000, the great Melbourne Cassegrainean (reflector) of 4 feet aperture cost £14,600, and at first it would appear preposterous that a good 8.5 inch With or Calver mirror, that can be purchased for some £30 will effectively rival these expensive and elaborate instruments. Many people would consider that in any crucial tests the smaller instrument would be utterly snuffed out: but such an idea is entirely erroneous. What the minor telescope lacks in point of light it gains in definition. When the seeing is good in a large aperture, it is superlative in a small one. When unusually high powers can be employed on the former, far higher ones proportionally can be used with the latter. We naturally expect that very fine telescopes, upon which so much labour and expense have been lavished, should reveal far more detail than in moderate apertures, but when we come to analyze the results it is obvious such an anticipation is far from being realized.

From W.F. Denning’s, The Defining Powers of Telescopes, Anno Domini 1885.

The planet looks as if cut out of paper and pasted on [the] background of sky. It is perfectly hard and sharp with no softening of edges. The outline and general definition are much superior to that of a refracting telescope.

E.E. Barnard comparing the views of Saturn seen with the newly erected 60-inch reflector atop Mount Wilson, with the 36-inch Lick Refractor, Anno Domini 1908

Source: Sheehan, W. The Immortal Fire Within: The Life and Work of Edward Emerson Barnard, Cambridge University Press, pp 398. Anno Domini 2007.

Although something worth recording may be seen even with a 3-inch, the intending student of Jupiter should have available a telescope of not less than 6 inches aperture. With such an instrument a great deal of first-class systematic work can be accomplished and only the smallest of the really important markings will be beyond its reach; indeed, until only a year or two before his death Stanley Williams made all his invaluable observations with a 6-inch reflector. An 8-inch is probably adequate for all purposes; a 12-inch certainly is. The bulk of the author’s work has been done with a 12-inch reflector; and although it would not be true to say that he has never yearned for something larger when definition was superb, the gain would have been mainly aesthetic and he has never felt that anything important was being missed owing to the inadequacy of his equipment.

Peek, B.M., The Planet Jupiter:The Observer’s Handbook, Faber, pp 36-37, Anno Domini 1981.

If the aperture exceeds about 12 inches , the atmosphere will seldom allow the full aperture to be used……..Direct comparisons of performance on different occasions have revealed an 8-in refractor showing more than a 36-in reflector; an 11-in refractor surpassing a 12-in reflector; canali invisible in the Greenwich 28-in stopped down to 20 ins, but visible in an 8-inch by T.E.R. Philips; apertures less than 20 ins showing more than the Yerkes 40-in stopped to 30 ins.

From Mars by J.B Sidgwick, Observational Astronomy for Amateurs, (pp 118) Anno Domini 1971.

One of the greatest Jupiter observers, Stanley Williams, used only a 6-inch reflector, but most serious students of the planet now would look for at least an 8-inch, although a good 5-inch OG can reveal surprising detail. This is not the place to debate the relative performance of refractors and reflectors, but good resolution, high contrast and faithful colour rendition are essential. A good long focal ratio Newtonian , a Maksutov, or an apochromatic refractor is probably the best but, as in every field, the quality of the observer is the most important factor, and good results can be obtained with any reasonable instrument.

Moseley T., from the chapter on Jupiter in The Observational Amateur Astronomer, (Moore, P. ed), Springer, pp95, Anno Domini 1995.

To recapitulate: Mars is not an easy target. Because the disc is generally small, it is essential to use a fairly high power telescope if it is hoped to see anything except for the most prominent features. Of course a small telescope such as a 7.6cm refractor or a 15cm reflector will show something under good conditions, but for more detailed work a larger aperture is needed. A 20cm telescope is about the minimum for a reflector; I would not personally be happy with anything below 20cm, though opinions differ, and no doubt observers more keen sighted than I am will disagree.

Moore, P., from the chapter on Mars in The Observational Amateur Astronomer, (Moore, P. ed), Springer, pp78, Anno Domini 1995.

A 3-inch refractor with a magnification of around 50x will show the planet and its ring system, but an aperture of no less than 6-inches is needed for observations to be of value; ideally one should aim for an aperture of at least this size – the larger the better. It has been claimed that the best magnification for planetary observation is about equal to the diameter of the object glass or mirror in millimetres. To see the fine details of Saturn’s belts and ring structure, a magnification of 150x to 300x is necessary, and therefore, according to the above rule, telescopes of 150mm or more are clearly required.

Heath, A.W., from a chapter on Saturn in:The Observational Amateur Astronomer, (Moore, P. ed), Springer, pp113, Anno Domini 1995.

Seeing varies from 0.5 arc seconds on an excellent night at a world class observatory site to 10 arc seconds on the worst nights. On nights of poor visibility, it’s hardly worth observing the Moon with anything but the lowest powers, since turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere will make the lunar surface appear to roll and shimmer, rendering any fine detail impossible to discern. For most of us, viewing rarely allows us to resolve lunar detail finer than 1 arc second, regardless of the size of the telescope used, and more often than not a 150mm telescope will show as much detail as a 300mm telescope, which has a light gathering area 4 times as great. It is only on nights of really good visibility that the benefits of the resolving power of large telescopes can be experienced. Unfortunately, such conditions occur all to infrequently for most amateur astronomers.

Grego, P., The Moon and How to Observe It, Springer, pp244, Anno Domini 2005.

As a choice for planetary observations then, there is a lot to be said for the Newtonian reflector in the 6- to 10-inch aperture range.

F.W. Price, The Planet Observer’s Guide (2nd Edition), Cambridge University Press, pp 41. Anno Domini 2000

 

It allowed visual scrutiny with very high magnifications, each time it was necessary.

Adouin Dollfus (2002) in a comment pertaining to the efficacy of the Great Meudon Refractor.

A high quality Newtonian reflector is a very powerful instrument, fully capable of superb performance in viewing the planets, when the optics are kept clean and properly aligned. They have been among the favorite instruments of serious planetary observers for many decades.

Bengton, J.L., Saturn and How to Observe It, Springer, pp57, Anno Domini 2005.

As good as my 6-inch f/9 is, the 8-inch f/6 I built soon after is crushingly superior in virtually every way — including planetary performance. This is something to keep in mind if you’re considering a long-focus Newtonian. A long f-ratio helps, but aperture is much more important. Would an 8-inch f/9 be better than my f/6? Probably. But mounting and using a scope with a tube more than 6 feet long is would be a challenge. And when the aperture gets much bigger, it’s easy to keep the secondary size small without resorting to extremely long focal lengths.

From an article entitled,The Big Red One, Sky&Telescope Associate Editor and veteran ATMer, Gary Seronik, commenting on the superiority of a 8-inch f/6 reflector over an optically superlative 6-inch f/9 reflector ‘Planet Killer,’ Anno Domini 2009.

I was once loaned a 4.5 inch refractor by the British Astronomical Association back in the 1990s; it was an excellent instrument, but the optical tube was longer than me! These days refractors come with much shorter tubes, but at considerable cost and apertures of 5 in., or more, however the cost of smaller refractors have come down in recent years. Although they look splendid, remember it is aperture(size of the telescope) that is the most important. Ideally you should get the largest telescope you can for your money.

Abel, P.G, Visual Lunar and Planetary Astronomy, Springer, pp 13, Anno Domini 2013.

All in all, if you can afford it, and if you have the room to house it in some sort of observatory, I would say go for a Newtonian reflector of 10 inches -14 inches aperture and as large a focal ratio as you can reasonably accommodate…..My second choice would be a 5 inch refractor…..having a focal ratio of f/12……or an ED apochromat ( f/8).

North, G., Observing the Moon, Cambridge University Press, pp 52, Anno Domini 2014

When Mars was closest to the Earth in August 2003, the Macclesfield Astronomical Society held a star party at Jodrell Bank Observatory with quite a number of telescopes set up to observe it. As the evening progressed a consensus arose that two scopes were giving particularly good images; my FS102 4-inch Takahashi Fluorite refractor (at around £3500, or $5000, with its mount) and an 8-inch Newtonian on a simple Dobsonian mount newly bought for just £200($300). I personally preferred the view through the f/6 Newtonian but others thought that the FS102 gave a slightly better image, so we will call it a draw. It is worth discussing why these performed so well and, just as importantly, why perhaps the others did not.

From A Prologue of Two Scopes: Morison, I. An Amateur’s Guide to Observing and Imaging the Heavens, Cambridge University Press, xiii, Anno Domini 2014.

** The author chose these individuals based on both published and unpublished observations of planets available from historical archives and/or books, and having (ostensibly) sustained these observations over many years.

                                   Relevant Physical Principles

 

Resolution:

A telescope of diameter D cuts off a wavefront and blurs a point source to an image size, I,  given by I = lambda/D (radians). This can be converted to arc seconds by multiplying this result by 206265 giving I = (lambda x 206265)”/D.

Making both units of diameter and wavelength (arbitrarily set to 5.50 x 10^-9 m)  the same we obtain:

I = 0.116/D

This is similar to the more familiar Dawes formula (expressed in inches given by 4.56/D)

Thus resolution scales linearly with aperture e.g. a telescope with a diameter of 20cm will have an angular resolution twice that of a 10cm instrument.

Contrast Transfer:

Optical engineer, William Zmek, in the July 1993 issue of Sky&Telescope magazine, analysed the effects of a central obstruction on contrast transfer, arriving at this simple rule:

Contrast Transfer of an Obstructed Telescope = Full Aperture – Aperture of Obstruction.

Consider this author’s chosen planetary telescope, a 203 mm Newtonian with a secondary minor axis of 44mm (22% linearly), the resulting contrast transfer will be the equivalent of a 203-44 = 159mm unobstructed aperture, the effects of the spider vanes being essentially negligible (~1-2 %).

This result has been amply borne out by the author’s extensive field testing.See here for details.

Larger apertures also allow the observer to enjoy a larger exit pupil, which is of paramount importance in studying low contrast details at magnifications typically employed in planetary studies. See this link to see how a consideration of the size of the exit pupil can radically change the direction of a discussion about two very different telescopes.

Light Gathering Power:

Image brightness is proportional to the number of photons collected, which in turn scales as the area of the optical surface. Thus a 20cm telescope collects four times more light than a 10cm, all other things being equal. Refractors, having no central obstruction and multi-coatings applied to the glass surfaces have the greater light transmission. Reflective surfaces exhibit proportionally less transmission to the eye due to less efficient reflection off optical surfaces. In the same article highlighted above, the author described the acquisition of ultra-high reflective coatings (and greatly reduced light scatter) to both mirrors (97 per cent). Thus the overall transmission is (0.97)^2 =0.94 and subtracting the obstructing area of the secondary reduces the overall light gathering power to ~0.9. Compared with an almost perfectly light transmitting refractor object glass, this represents a 10% reduction in light, a value that even a seasoned observer would be hard pressed to see. Thus, the author’s 20cm Newtonian has a broadly equivalent light transmission to an unobstructed refractor of equal aperture.

Atmospheric Turbulence, Seeing Error & Viewing Altitude

The astronomical seeing conditions at a given site can be well described by the so-called Fried parameter r0. We need not wade into the mathematical details to understand the basic ideas behind this model. In this scheme of events the air consists of moving cells which form due to small-scale fluctuations in both the density and temperature above the observer, resulting in the blurring and/or moving of the image. The larger these cells are (which is a measure of r0) the greater the aperture that can be profitably employed. For telescopes with diameters smaller than r0, the resolution is determined primarily by the size of the Airy pattern (which scales as 1/D) and thus is inversely proportional to the telescope diameter. For telescopes with diameters larger than r0, the image resolution appears to be determined primarily by a quantity known as seeing error and scales as (D)^5/6. So, for example, a doubling of aperture results in a 1.78x i.e. (2D)^5/6 increase in seeing error. Interestingly, while the seeing error does scale with aperture, the rate of increase is not nearly as rapid as one might anticipate. This implies that large apertures can work at or near optimally, though maybe not as frequently as smaller apertures.

Reference here.

The best estimates of r0 for typical observing sites used by the amateur astronomers seems to be in the range of 5–20cm (2-8 inches) and generally larger in the better sites at high altitude, where bigger telescopes are pressed into service. Intriguingly, r0 also appears to scale somewhat with wavelength, being as high as 40cm at 900nm(near infrared).

Reference here.

Seeing is also dependent on the altitude of the planet owing to the variation in air mass through which it is viewed. If one observes a planet at the zenith, one looks through 1 air mass. At 30 degrees altitude, the air mass through which the observer views is fully doubled and at 10 degrees altitude it shoots up to 5.6 air masses!

Reference: Morison, I., An Amateur’s Guide to Observing and Imaging the Heavens, Cambridge University Press (2014), pp 22.

In general, a long-held tradition recommends waiting for the planet to rise above 30 degrees altitude to begin to exploit the potential of any given telescope, large or small.

Taken together, these physical parameters can be used to adequately explain all of the aforementioned comments made by celebrated planetary observers over the decades and centuries.

Discussion:

Unbiased testimonies provide a bedrock upon which sound conclusions can be formulated. It is self evident that aperture plays a crucial role in seeing fine detail and it is reassuring that basic optical principles reaffirm this.

The list of British observers quoted above; Denning, North, Moore, Abel, Grego, Heath and Sidgwick etc, highlight the efficacy of moderate but not large apertures in divining fine detail on planets. The consensus appears to be that apertures of between 6 and 10 inches are most efficacious in this regard. This may be explained in terms of the size of the atmospheric cells that move over British skies, which allow telescopes in this aperture range to be exploited. My own discussions with many experienced planetary observers abiding in Britain affirm the truth of this; British skies seem to favour these moderate apertures. It is important to note that this conclusion has little to do with planetary imaging, which often employs significantly larger apertures to excellent effect.

The testimony of Gary Seronik shows that an optimised 6-inch f/9 Newtonian – which presumably would provide views rivaling a 6-inch apochromatic refractor, was comfortably outperfomed by an 8-inch f/6 Newtonian, again confirming the superiority of a little more aperture.

The testimony of E.E Barnard at Mount Wilson and Adouin Dollfus at Meudon shows that larger apertures can be used to much greater effect if seeing conditions allow. Both Meudon and Mount Wilson have enabled telescopes of 30 and 60-inches to be used visually, indicating that the atmosphere can be particularly good there and for long enough periods to permit a meaningful program of visual study.

There evidently exists regions on Earth where the seeing is poor (small r0) for prolonged periods of time, explaining why amateurs in these regions stick to smaller apertures. This in part explains the popularity of small refractor culture.

The most intriguing testimony is offered by Professor Ian Morison, also based in the UK, which, on the face of it, seems to lend more credence to small refractor culture. The reader will recall that during the August 2003 Martian opposition, a large number of amateurs, fielding various telescopes, were present at Macclesfield, England. Morison claimed that two telescopes were doing particularly well; a Takahashi FS102 Fluorite refractor and a mass produced 8″ f/6 Dobsonian and that there was no clear consensus on which was delivering the better views. Having owned several econo- and premium 4 inch apochromatic refractors (and even a gorgeous 4-inch f15 classical refractor), this author (also based in the UK) has become intimately familiar with their performance. And while they all provided good views of the planets, they come nowhere near the performance of the author’s 8-inch f/6 Newtonian, which, despite its very modest cost, proved ‘crushingly’ superior to the former.

So, Morison’s testimony presents an apparent contradiction, which must have a rational explanation.

Further investigation revealed that during the August 2003 Martian opposition, the maximum altitude of the Red Planet was just 23 degrees at meridian passage as observed from London (51 degrees North latitude).

Reference here

Since Macclesfield (53 degrees North latitude) is further north than London, the maximum altitude of Mars would only have been 21 degrees and thus was significantly below the minimum altitude recommended – 30 degrees – for planetary study. Thus, it is not at all surprising that Morison et al reached the conclusions they did.The Newtonian being more sensitive to the vagaries of the atmosphere would not have been performing optimally at that low altitude, while the smaller refractor was performing much as it always does. In addition, this author observed Mars during the same August 2003 opposition using a 20cm f/10 Schmidt Cassegrain. At 56 degrees North, the planet was only 18 degrees above the horizon at meridian passage. Needless to say, the images of Mars were nothing to write home about.

Interestingly, this author reached the same conclusion whilst comparing visual drawings of Jupiter conducted with a Celestron 8″ f/6 Dobsonian during the mid-1990s with those delivered by a 5-inch refractor in much more recent apparitions. It was subsequently discovered that Jupiter was low in the sky in Aquarius at this time, while the 5-inch refractor enjoyed views of the Giant Planet situated much higher in the sky. Last year’s Jovian apparition revealed the clear superiority of the 8-inch f/6 Newtonian over the 5-inch under these more favourable conditions.

Thus there is no contradiction; aperture rules when conditions are reasonable to good. Anomalies only arise under sub-optimal conditions – persistent bad seeing, low altitude viewing etc – or if one telescope has not fully acclimated when the other has etc, hardly a fair test.

This author has brought the reader’s attention to the efficacy of a modified 8-inch Newtonian on all types of objects; deep sky, planets, lunar and double stars. These testimonies provide further evidence that such an aperture – 20cm – is probably optimal for British skies and many other environs besides.

De Fideli

Taking Back Visual Astronomy II: Resolving Binary Stars with Newtonian Reflectors

Octavius the Progressive.

Octavius the Progressive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 De omnibus dubitandum

The Newtonian reflector has a long and distinguished history among dedicated observational astronomers. With the advent of generous aperture, silver-on-glass mirrors in the late 19th century, many more amateurs could enter the field and make valuable contributions to the study of the Moon and planets. What’s more, their comparatively enormous light gathering power compared with traditional refractors made it possible to see new morphological details of hitherto elusive deep sky objects, thereby aiding in their classification.

The traditional instrument of choice in double star astronomy has been the classical refractor. With their long, native focal lengths and excellent thermal stability, they are especially adept at separating point sources at very high magnifications, at or near the theoretical limit imposed by their aperture. Refractors don’t scale well though and become impractically cumbersome and expensive in apertures above 6 inches (and if you really want to do sub arc second work you’ll need something larger anyway). I have demonstrated in earlier work that more economical telescope designs – the Maksutov Cassegrain in particular- can be excellent double star instruments. Having used a large, 17cm f/16 Maksutov continuously for a year, this author debunked a long standing assumption about these telescopes that prevented many from exploring their considerable charms. Specifically, some prominent amateurs, perhaps in some desperation to justify the purchase of much more expensive refractors, cultivated the idea that large Maksutovs (and, by implication, other catadioptrics) would not acclimate. This assertion was found to be largely unsubstantiated, after extensive field testing showed that these instruments can and do work well, even in winter.

In more recent times, this author has begun to explore anew the many attributes of the Newtonian reflector. As described in an earlier review lasting about six months, a closed-tube 8” f/6 Newtonian reflector was found to cool quickly (typically 40 minutes for a temperature differential of 20C) – significantly faster than even a 5 inch refractor. What is more, no cooling fan was deemed necessary and the telescope offered up excellent, high resolution images of planets like Jupiter. What was most surprising however, was its ability to split tricky double stars when contemporary wisdom said otherwise. This led to further investigation by examining the historical literature in order to establish whether Newtonians were ever used for double star astronomy and, if so, how efficacious they were in this capacity.

Having explored the life and work of the Reverend T.W. Webb (1806-1885), it came to my attention that the celebrated 19th century observer had indeed used a large 9.25 inch f/8 silver-on-glass reflector made by George With to resolve very tight pairs at or close to the limit imposed by its aperture. As a follow up, double star observer, John Nanson, alerted me to the work of an obscure British 19th century observer – Kenneth J. Tarrant – who employed a 10.25 inch Calver reflector (probably a f/7 or f/8 relative aperture) during the 1880s and 1890s to not only observe double stars, but to measure them also!

I would invite you to examine the documents presented here, noting the dates and seasons when the measures were made, thereby providing information on the frequency and likely conditions (like English summer temperature swings) under which observations were conducted – as well as the measures themselves, some of which show that the mirror was indeed capable of resolving pairs at or near the theoretical resolution of the telescope. I canvassed the opinion of the double star expert, Bob Argyle, based at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, for his take on Tarrant’s data. Specifically, I asked Argyle whether there was anything in the Victorian amateur’s data that would stretch credulity, calling his attention to Tarrant’s measures of 25 Canum Venaticorum.

“As far as I can see, looking at Tarrant’s results, these are what I would expect from a good Calver telescope – in fact he did not seem to stretch the telescope very often. Specifically 25 CVn looks very plausible – the current WDS mags are 5.0 and 7.0 so it’s somewhat brighter than the values Tarrant gives (and currently at 1″.7).”
Tarrant’s measures demonstrate three things;

1. The British climate allowed him to frequently work to very high standards, which included sub arc second pairs.
2. The Calver reflector must have produced images stable enough for mensurative purposes.
3. Tight pairs with very significant brightness differences (up to two or three stellar magnitude differences) were also resolved.

Not much else is known about Tarrant however. “I don’t know of any other references to Tarrant’s work, “ said Arygle, “but he seemed to hold the BAA Double Star Section together before WWI finished it, and probably deserves a paper from one of the historical groups.”

In more recent times, a number of other observers using Newtonian reflectors have come to the fore. This author has already brought to your attention some of the ongoing work of Christopher Taylor, who employs an open-tubed 12.5 inch F/7 Calver reflector to watch a number of sub-arc second pairs moving rapidly in only a few years. You can see a few images of his telescope here. In addition, I am mindful of the work of the French double star observer, Jean-Francois Courtot, who has resolved pairs down to 0.66” using his homemade, 8-inch Newtonian since 1993.

It would also be worthwhile considering the portfolio of the well known astronomical artist, Jeremy Perez, who has sketched many double stars using both a 6″ f/8 and a 8″ f/6 Newtonian reflector, as well as the observations of Mircea Pteancu, who has used a 8″ f/6 reflector to successfully resolve sub-arc second pairs.

Thus, not only is there a historical precedent for the use of the Newtonian reflector in doing the kind of work traditionally associated with the classical refractor, but the notion that the former instruments would only be capable of such work in tropical or temperate climates is not supported by the evidence.

That said, not all Newtonians are equally well favoured to carry out such work!

To see why, we need to explore aspects of the physics of the Newtonian telescope.

Modern parabolic mirrors of decent quality are (or should be) essentially devoid of spherical aberration. The main optical defects in the Newtonian are due to other Seidel aberrations, particularly coma and astigmatism. Let C represent coma and A represent astigmatism.

Mathematically, the angular expansion (theta) of the image due to coma is given;

C = 3theta/(16F^2) where F is the focal ratio (relative aperture) of the telescope.

Astigmatism is given by:

A = ( D/2f) tan^2(theta), where f is the focal length of the telescope.

Since D/f = 1/F and if we consider small angles, where tan (theta) expressed in degrees ~ theta radians, the formula for astigmatism simplifies to;

A = (theta)^2/2F.

We can see from the formula for both C and A that coma (C) scales proportionately with theta while A scales as (theta)^2, so that for very small angles ( << 1 radian) it follows that coma will always overwhelm astigmatism in any properly executed mirror.

Let us now set the resolution of the telescope to the Dawes limit (in arc seconds) given by 4.56”/D
To convert this formula to radians, we need to do some more arithmetic.

1 degree = 60 x 60 = 3600”

Also 1 angular degree = 1/57.3 radians =0.017 radians

Thus if 0.017 radians = 3600” then 4.56” = (0,017/3600) x 4.56 radians = 2.21 x 10^-5 radians

So the Dawes formula expressed in radians is:

(2.21 x 10^-5)/ D where D is in inches.

For critical work at maximum resolution we may equate the expressions for coma and astigmatism with the Dawes limit;

Thus,

A + C = (2.21 x 10^-5)/D

But since A << C for any small angles (which is appropriate here), we may simplify this to just:

C = (2.21 x 10^-5)/D

Thus, since we have C = 3theta/(16F^2)

We get: (2.21 X 10^-5)/D = 3 theta/(16F^2).

Cross multiplying and rearranging, we obtain:

Theta = (16F^2 x 2.21 x 10^-5)/3D

Simplifying gives theta (in radians) = (1.18 x 10^-4 x F^2)/D

For convenience, we can now convert this formula to arc minutes;

1 arc minute = 1/60 degree = (1/60) /57.3 = 2.9 x 10^-4 radians

So, 1.18 x 10^-4 = (1.18 x 10^-4)/ 2.9 x 10 ^-4 = 0.407

Thus our final result is that

Theta (arc minutes) = (0.407F^2)/D.

We are now in a position to analyse what happens when we use various different numbers for the focal ratio (F). The formula predicts that for a constant aperture D, the maximum available field (theta) over which the image contains no appreciable aberrations scales as F^2.

This means that the faster the F ratio, the smaller the true field over which aberrations are minimized.

For example, a 8 inch f/6 mirror would have an optically corrected radius of (0.406 x 6^2)/8 = 1.83 arc minutes or 3.66 arc minutes in angular diameter. Doing the same math for F=5 and F=4 yields diameters of 2.54 and 1.62 arc minutes, respectively.

To see how this impacts work at the eyepiece, consider my own telescope, a 8” f/6 Newtonian. In order to get adequate image scale for sub-arc second pairs, I like to use a magnification of 548x (3.5mm Baader zoom and 1.6x Barlow). Since my eyepiece has an apparent field of 72 degrees, the true field available at this magnification will be 7.88 arc minutes [ that is (72/548) x 60]. Thus, the percentage (linear) of the field that gives perfect definition will be (3.66/7.88) x 100 ~ 50 per cent. When we get to an F/5 system, the percentage falls to just 30 per cent, and at F/4, a pesky 20 per cent!

One can see that at F/5 or faster, positioning the image of the double stars will become problematical, but that’s not the end of the story!

As anyone familiar with the operation of a Newtonian will tell you, the lower the F ratio, the harder it is to collimate the optics accurately. Indeed, the sensitivity to mis-collimation (a quantity called primary mirror axial error) in millimetres is given by the 0.022 x F^3. It follows that the wiggle room for a F/6 Newtonian will be a comfortable 4.8mm but just 2.8mm at F/5 and only 1.4mm at F/4!

What does all this mean?

In a nutshell, the faster the F ratio of the primary mirror, the smaller the true field at any given magnification that is truly free of aberrations and the greater the likelihood of mis-collimation. I was being kind when I described the result linearly; but when you recognise the relevant field area (which scales with r^2), you suddenly realise you’re in deep water. X marks the spot! LOLl

These are the principle reasons why an F/5  or faster Newtonian will be less likely to resolve to the Dawes limit. F/6 is about good enough – thank goodness for small mercies! – and anything slower is a bonus!***

This also agrees with my own experience, having never satisfactorily resolved sub arc second pairs with an F/5 or F/4 Newtonian. It also agrees with the aforementioned historical curiosities!

Look again at Tarrant’s measures of 25 CVn conducted in the summer of 1885.

Octavius; a ‘scope to believe in!

***Note added in proof: The above calculations do not preclude the possibility that a precisely aligned, fast Newtonians (f/5 or slower) can’t do this type of work  but rather serve to illustrate that the difficulty of achieving these high resolution results becomes more difficult as the F ratio falls. Investing more money in precision focusers and more exotic collimating devices can increase the odds of success, as could the possibility of introducing optical accoutrements like coma correctors (now being made by various manufacturers) into the optical train.

References

Bell, L The Telescope, Dover (1971)

R.W. Argyle (Ed.) Observing and Measuring Visual Double Stars, Springer (2012).

Results so far: In the last six months or so, I have had the privilege of using this fine SkyWatcher 8-inch f/6 Newtonian reflector. As explained in an earlier review, I modified the instrument by purchasing a smaller secondary mirror (22 per cent by diameter) made by Orion Optics, Newcastle Under Lyme, England. I could have reduced this further but I wanted the telescope to be an excellent all-rounder rather than just a one trick pony. Both the primary and the new secondary were treated to enhanced Hilux coatings, which significantly increased its light grasp, reduced scattered light around images and has a longevity that is guaranteed for at least 25 years. Such an instrument provides breath-taking views of the Moon and planets and serves up a 2.25 degree true field for stunning deep sky vistas.

Even before I had these modifications done, I was very impressed by its ability to resolve some tricky doubles and triple systems. On the best nights, stars present as tiny Airy disks, round as buttons, even at very high powers ( > 500x). The spherical correction of the mirror is excellent and displays no on-axis astigmatism, which is a definite show stopper for this kind of work. My best images yet came just a few nights ago, where on the mild evening of Friday, June 26 at 22:20 UT, I beheld the most striking image of Epsilon Bootis (340x) I have seen in just about any telescope! The components – a soft yellow primary and a royal blue secondary – were magnificently rendered with acres of dark sky separating them. The same was true when I examined Delta and Mu Cygni, as well as Pi Aquilae (1.5″); text book perfect renderings if ever I have seen them!

At twenty minutes past midnight on the morning of June 9 last, I managed to glimpse the elusive companion to Lambda Cygni (my best yet at this location, 0.9” and 1.6 stellar magnitude differential), convincing me that I could go still further.

My methodology is fairly straightforward and is based on the recommendations of Christopher Taylor, who I mentioned earlier.

• The telescope is checked for accurate alignment using an inexpensive laser collimator before the commencement of each vigil and backed up by careful star testing.

• Only stars above a certain minimum altitude are examined, not less than 35 degrees

• I use a Baader Neodymium Moon and Sky Glow filter, which darkens the twilit sky at my location, reduces glare from very bright stars, and retains a neutral colour balance.

• After charging the telescope with the appropriate optical power, the stellar image is swung to the east of the field and left to drift slowly into the centre, where it is critically examined by my eye. The above is repeated again and again until I am satisfied that what I am seeing is not a diffraction artifact or some such.

• The time, date and conditions, magnification etc are always recorded. And if at first you don’t succeed……. try try again Lol!

In my correspondence with Bob Argyle, he was kind enough to suggest two stellar systems which are especially ripe for study with the 8-inch speculum; 78 UMa, now conveniently located near the bright star Alioth in the Plough Handle (components have magnitudes 5.02 and 7.88, with a current separation of ~0.8”) and Tau Cygni (magnitudes 3.38 and 6.57 with an angular separation of 0.9”).

I will begin with 78 UMa, as it should be fairly easy to find near Alioth in the twilight.  I shall leave Tau Cygni to later in the season.

I will report back on my progress in due course.

If you have a similar ‘scope at home, why not give it a try too?

If these stars are not suitably located for you, seek out others of similar difficulty by looking up the WDS catalog.

This project will certainly tax your powers of observation.

It would be great to hear about your experiences!

 July 1, 2015

NB: Taylor used a ‘routine’ magnification of 825x with his 12.5 inch f/7 Calver to achieve separations of 0.35 -0.40″ pairs. May attempt slightly higher powers on my own (smaller, 8 inch) telescope, perhaps 600x plus?

Nae luck as yet. A heat wave has settled in over the UK. While southern Britain basks in sunshine, conditions have remained stubbornly sultry with lots of cloud hampering any attempts to track down UMa 78.

Attempted a brief vigil late in the evening of Friday, June 26. Although my ‘easier’ test systems mentioned above all looked excellent, cloud prevented me from locating  my target near Alioth. I did however ‘uncover’ a delightful new binary system about half a finder field away from Alioth; STF 1662 ( RA  12h 36 min, Dec: 56 34, magnitudes 7.83 an 9.75, separation 19.3″).

Just received word that my article on modifying the SkyWatcher Skyliner 200P will be featured in the August 2015 issue of Astronomy Now………hallelujah!

July 2, 2015

Time 22:50h UT

Ambient: Clear, good transparency, 14C, slight SW wind, strong twilight, seeing not so hot (Ant III-IV), midge flies legion.

Four ‘warm up’ systems  observed @ 340x

Epsilon 1&2 Lyrae: well resolved.

Epsilon Bootis: resolved with some distortion.

Delta Cygni: Companion seen periodically, but with some considerable distortion.

Pi Aql: Resolved fairly well but only occasionally.

A 1.5″ night. Little point in continuing. Packed up early.

 July 4, 2015

Happy Holidays to all my viewers in the United States!

Moi?

Semper eadem.

Weather still rather unsettled, very humid with lots of heavy down pours, so little else to report from my own observations.

Investigo: I love data and admire diligence. Though I don’t know him from Adam, the American amateur astronomer, Mr. Tom Bryant, gave me both in bucket loads!

Mr. Bryant has been very busy testing the performance of his C8 on hundreds of double stars from all across the heavens.

You can see the fruits of his considerable labours here.

Go on; have a good, long look at that huge list. Dates (all year round!!!), times, instruments, are recorded, and, crucially, the location of those observations.

Input! Input! Input!

Lol!

And I see he’s constantly updating (see the latest dates listed).

Way to go!

He’s done remarkably well on many sub-arc second pairs don’t you think?

0.7″ doesn’t seem too much of a stretch for him and he’s elongated pairs down to 0.5″!

Here’s a recent review of a modern C8.

This instrument has a central obstruction of ~ 35 per cent and takes a while to acclimate…. apparently.

Here’s  the climate data for Bethesda, MD, which is quite near Silver Spring, MD, where Mr. Byrant uses his C8 inside his cosy, wee observatory, Little Tycho.

Typing in the months, one by one, we see diurnal swings of about 10C throughout the year, and which is a little larger than those encountered at my location.

My 8″ f/6 Newtonian, with a 22 per cent central obstruction, ought to do just as well – if not better – would you not think?

Only the seeing and my laziness can limit its performance.

Surely?

 July 5, 2015

Some thoughts on a lazy, Sunday afternoon:

The diligence of Tom Bryant and Carlos has delivered treasures to them. Work pays.

God endowed King Solomon with wisdom because he desired it ahead of wealth and power.Still, because of his faith, the Lord gave Solomon all three, and in great abundance.

Yet, he was better at dispensing that wisdom to others than applying it to himself.

In the proverbs of that ancient King, we learn of the traps laziness sets for us;

No matter how much a lazy person may want something, he will never get it. A hard worker will get everything he wants. 

Proverbs 13:4

A lazy person is as bad as someone who is destructive.

Proverbs 18: 9

Why don’t lazy people ever get out of the house? What are they afraid of? Lions?

Proverbs: 26:13

Nuff said, eh?

20:30 UT

At last, another opportunity will likely present itself later this evening to visit 78 UMa.

With a bit of luck, I’ll have more to report back on soon enough.

But let’s not confuse ourselves. There is one telescope forum in particular that harbours a few lazy liars I’m in the processing of flushing out.

Folk who masquerade as being ‘experienced’ but ostensibly reveal very little of that quality. Nor do they show any real insight except that which they borrow from others.

They neither understand their observing environment, nor the kinds of instruments that would best work there. e.g. using a large, fast reflector to split low-altitude double stars in a desert?!

How dumb is that? Lol!

But this is just ignorance, and I’m willing to overlook that.
That said, there’s a more insidious side to all this, which I am not willing to overlook.

Lies, lies, porky pies.

You see, some individuals spend their time cultivating untruths about what can and can’t be done with certain telescopes, without ever testing these claims in a scientific way.

Worst still, they persist in maintaining these myths, despite the mounting counter-evidence presented to them.

I suppose it’s a form of blindness.

Why shouldn’t a Newtonian deliver the readies?

If you know, tell me; I’m all ears!.

iustitia! iustitia! iustitia!

July 6, 2015

00:20h BST.

Ambient: Mostly clear, tranquil, cool (10C), twilit.

Seeing: II-III

A better night tonight. Seeing fairly good.

All warm up systems beautifully resolved at 340x

0.9″ companion to Lambda Cygni well glimpsed at 548x during moments of better seeing

78 UMa: diffraction pattern examined on and off for 20 minutes at 548x. Higher powers found to be unhelpful. Companion unseen.

Heavy dew this evening.

Good, productive night, all in all.

22:25UT

Teeming down with rain tonight.

Thus far, it’s not the kind of Summer we enjoyed last year.

Still, when are two ever the same? lol

Moi?

Semper eadem.

It occurred to me that I’ve already achieved what I set out to demonstrate; that a decently executed Newtonian can be used to explore the dynamic realm of sub-arc second binary star astronomy; I mean, I’ve already bagged (a few times now) a 0.9″ with a sizable brightness differential (1.7), so anything beyond that just reaffirms my premise.

But I don’t think I’m being overly ambitious to work for something better. Do you?

I will continue to work with 78UMa until the skies get darker.

July 8, 2015

00:30h BST

Test everything; hold fast to what is good.

                                                                   1 Thessalonians 5:21

Ambient; mostly cloudy, 13.5C, a few patchy sucker holes opening and closing. Breezy (7mph westerlies).

Seeing: II, certainly a notch up on last night.

Only three test stars examined tonight; all images at 340x were clean and crisp but shaky in the wind.

Spent a few minutes on and off examining 78UMa at 340x and 544x. Complex diffraction image, no elongation observed at 544x, so the companion must be ‘disembodied’ from the primary (Airy disk round as a button). Wind and cloud making detailed observations very difficult. Companion unseen.

I have noticed, going back through my notes, and again tonight, that on windier evenings, the images through the Newtonian can look especially fine. I have thought about why this might be. Perhaps the breeze circulates the air inside the tube more efficiently and might be ‘brushing off’ any boundary layer that might be on the mirror?

I think there is something in this.

Mother Nature lending a helping hand, just as she must have done with other observers using their specula over the decades and centuries.

Thank goodness for the wind!

09:50h BST

Last night was most interesting. Not much in the way of systems observed but the quality of the images in the modest wind was duly noted.

It was such a simple revelation to me that I cannot help but think it is universally true.

My previous observing records with refractors and a large Maksutov have shown that good to excellent seeing can accompany windy weather. I look back fondly at the wonderful skies of last Summer, where I got superb results with a 17cm Maksutov. I note especially my observations made on the evening of July 16, 2014, where the Maksutov cleanly resolved Lambda Cygni  during a windy (9mph) spell.

In the case of the Newtonian, I think windy conditions can have additional benefits in improving image quality, independent of the seeing.

Open air observing with Newtonians appears to be a good thing and I shall continue with this custom.

Might a fan be beneficial?

Maybees aye, maybees naw.

Would I consider installing one?

No.Ohxi.

I get enough breezy evenings in a year to continue as I am.

Besides, I am willing to bet that the foolishness of the wind is smarter than the ingenuity of any man-made fan.

A curious aside: Our Victorian friend, Kenneth J. Tarrant, observed 25 CVn with his Calver reflector on the 189th day of the year. Curiously this was July 8, 1885 – almost exactly 130 years ago today!

LoL!

I found some old British archives for the general weather for that month here.

I note that in this meteorological document, for the dates July 7-11, there were ‘favorable South-westerly winds in most places’.

Might  Mr. Tarrant have enjoyed a few breezy evenings when he made these measures?

I wonder!

July 9, 2015

00:20h BST

Ambient: Clear, cloudless sky, very beautiful twilight, no ground wind, unseasonably cold (6.5C), seeing III-IV. Cool Arctic air flow tonight; bright stars scintillating strongly.

Test systems all resolved, but the more difficult ones not so cleanly. U78Ma examined at 340x an 544x but too turbulent to study.

Vigil aborted.

11:20h BST

I have been thinking about the wind again and how best to use it. When Mr. Tarrant observed 25 CVn, his telescope would have pointed westward, towards Canes Venatici, and if there were a southwesterly breeze during the time he observed the system, some part of it would have blown over his Calver primary mirror.

This immediately presented a simple activity that I could use profitably during breezy evenings. When first placed outside, I could remove the cap that covers the front of the instrument and point the telescope directly into the prevailing winds. That way, the air would be blown over the mirror and it would help expel any ‘stagnant’ air inside the tube.

When observing an object in a part of the sky away from the natural direction of the wind for any prolonged period of time, I could swing the instrument back into the natural air flow  periodically, for a minute or two perhaps, before resuming my work.

I did some searching this morning to ascertain if anyone had recommended this procedure, either in printed texts or online. To my astonishment, I came up with nothing.

Maybe you know better?

In addition, I have been looking at images of those silver-on-glass reflectors of old (existing before the era of the electric fan) and noticed that many of the tubes have little hinged  ‘windows’ at the side, near the primary mirror, so as to assist (presumably) the circulation of air in the optical train. I may consider something along these lines myself; perhaps drilling a coupe of small holes on opposite sides of the tube and fitting a fine wire gauze over them to enable air to flow through but not particulates.

I can make the wind work harder for me.

Something to think about anyways.

To my chagrin, more unsettled weather is forecast for the weekend ahead.

Mair anon..

July 13, 2015

23:45h BST

Ambient: almost entirely clear, tranquil skies, seeing excellent (I-II), 10C, humidity high.

Success!

Started on Delta Cygni (340x) and was rewarded with a beautiful calm image! Companion resolved from its primary by a veritable country mile.

Pi Aql: Very cleanly resolved (340x) even at less than optimal altitude.

78UMa: Companion seen fairly well, roughly due east of the primary and inside first Fraunhofer diffraction ring. Glimpsed at 22:50h but better seen at 23:30h.  Checked the WDS data on the system Der Admiral sent me the other week. Its estimated position angle of ~118 degrees agrees fairly well with my observation.

No’ bad ken.

Where next Columbus? LOL

Anyone following me?

Vigil ended owing to heavy dew.

July 14, 2015

Bastille Day, New Horizons hurtles past Pluto, ken.

20:00h

Consummatum est.

No more to prove. No more work to be done. No one left to fight.

A 8 inch f/6 reflector can indeed be used to resolve sub arc second pairs. You don’t need an expensive telescope to do it.

A little preparation and the determination to succeed is all that is required.

And one good night.

I contacted Bruce MacEvoy, who I had the pleasure of meeting in California a few years back. He will be editing a brand new edition of the Cambridge Double Star Atlas. Bruce followed my work with the Maksutov and, more recently, the Newtonian reflector. After congratulating him on his new role, I reminded him that he had a responsibility not to cultivate untruths about the types of telescopes that can and cannot do high resolution double star work. He assured me that the atlas will not endorse the fallacy that one type of telescope is superior to others.

Satis.

Nota Bene: November 29, 2015: Dave Cotterell, based in Ontario, Canada, posted a string of high resolution images of double stars – some quite tricky for any telescope – using his 12.5″ f/6.5 Newtonian, thereby providing more evidence that these instruments can and do make excellent double star ‘scopes. In addition, he has reported his visual results here, using the same instrument, showing that he was able to cleanly resolve pairs down to 0.5″ or  0.6″. Well done Dave!

De Fideli

 

The Sceptical Astronomer: Evolution in the Spotlight.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

                                                                                                               2 Timothy 4: 3-4

Do you accept the theory of biological evolution? If so, why? Do you have the necessary cognitive tools to assess the theory?  Are you equipped with the latest knowledge that enables you to critically appraise the theory in light of new research findings?

Here, I present a variety of evidentiary points, testimonies, discussions and philosophic discourses that raise legitimate arguments against the theory of evolution, as promulgated by biologists.

Part I: Origins

And God said let there be soup….Not!

All theories, no matter how credible they may appear, must be based on robust origins. Yet the very foundations upon which the ‘warm little pond’ theory has been built are shaky.  There is actually no evidence that something manifestly alive can self assemble from pre-existing non living matter. Naturalists often point to a ‘creation myth’ in which pre-biotic chemicals existing in an organic ‘soup’ that lasted for a billion years, spontaneously assembled into the first cells….. just like that. Recent research however has shown this to be patently not the case. There was no primordial soup and no time (from a geological perspective) for the origin of life to get started. Furthermore, the first cells would have required homochiral molecules, displaying either right handed (for sugars) and left handed (for amino acids) enantiometric properties and in their pure form. However, no one has come up with a plausible physicochemical mechanism to explain the origin of homochirality.

Evolution cannot be considered a serious science unless it is based on solid foundations, which it clearly doesn’t have.

So why do you persist in believing it?

Have a listen to this talk presented by the distinguished chemist, Professor John Walton, Fellow of the Royal Society, currently based at the University of St. Andrews; Could life have started through chance chemical reactions on the primordial Earth?

Part II: Numbers

Biologists have long known that the number of genetic mutations that are deleterious to an organism vastly outnumber those that are beneficial. That ratio appears to be species dependent and can range from 10,000:1 to about 10,000,000:1. If natural selection were the prime driving force in speciation, one would expect it to move a gene pool towards the acquisition of more and more beneficial mutations over time (because they confer a survival advantage, right?). Yet, because the mutation rate of most genomes is very high, logic dictates that it would drive a species to extinction well before enough beneficial mutations were accrued to bring about any meaningful phenotypic change. Furthermore, the greater the complexity of the animal, the faster it ought to degenerate. In regard to speciation, despite showing abundant evidence for micro-evolutionary changes in viruses and bacteria, scientists have failed to observe the emergence –in real time – of a single, new bacterial species in over 150 years of diligent study.

This simple appeal to numbers, in my mind, seriously challenges any kind of evolutionary paradigm; theistic or otherwise.

My cats and I shouldnae be here!

Yet, nonetheless here we are!

And what is the nature of life’s sustaining principle?

Eye.

Part III: Life’s Minimal Complexity…..More Numbers.

The earliest forms of life to appear on Earth, the Bacteria and Archea, have been studied more by scientists than any of the other domains of life. Free living species consist of about 1500 genes and seem to require all of them to eke out an existence in their respective environments. Yet scientists have uncovered parasitic species that harbour about a third of the free-living gene quota; about 450 to 500 gene products. The smaller number reflects the parasitic nature of the organism which presumably only requires a minimum number of genes in order to sustain its existence within its host. But that raises an interesting question. What is the minimum number of gene sets that can enable these microbes to survive? Recent theoretical work conducted by a team of researchers at the National Institute of Health has yielded a lower minimum of ~ 256 genes. Curiously, molecular biologists conducting gene knock out experiments on Bacillus subtilis, reveal that between 254 and 450 genes are required to sustain life in its bare minimal form i.e. they can only be kept alive by supplying them with additional minerals and nutrients. Further independent work performed on other bacterial species reveals the same thing; a few hundred genes are needed to maintain the essence of life.
But what does this mean for origin of life researchers? These genes must spontaneously exist in the same place at the same time, together with all the protein enzymes needed to replicate their minimalistic genomes within a semi-permeable membrane. When all the calculations are done, they find the probability of such an event occurring to be of the order of one chance in 10^99,999,999,916. Such a number implies that neither enough matter or enough time in the universe exists for even the simplest bacterium to emerge via undirected, naturalistic means.

And yet, we are told they evolved!

Really?

Non credo quia absurdum est!

Further Reading: Rana, F. & Ross, H, (2014), Origins of Life, RTB Press.

Part IV: Complex Enzymes Evolving Earlier than Expected…… Much Earlier!

All life on Earth requires nitrogen in a chemically active form to synthesize the proteins and a plethora of other biomolecules necessary to drive life processes.  Although nearly four fifths of the Earth’s atmosphere is made up of molecular nitrogen, it is almost inert (owing to the very strong triple bond forged between the N atoms). This means that living organisms cannot utilize this form of nitrogen without reducing it to a more chemically reactive form – ammonia. Nitrogen fixing bacteria possess a highly complex enzyme – nitrogenase – which mediates this vital metabolic role but previous phylogenetic studies of the enzyme suggested that it could not have existed much before 2 billion years ago.

Nitrogenase reaction.PNGA simplified schematic of nitrogenase biochemistry.

New revelations are unveiling something much more interesting. A group of researchers based at the University of Washington has uncovered isotopic signatures in rocks dating back to 3.2 billion years which imply that biochemical nitrogen fixation was already established by this early time – the Archean. While the data cannot be readily reconciled with a molecular evolution model, it is entirely anticipated in a testable creation model. The latter predicts that the first forms of life were biochemically complex and thus could not have evolved. There is a groundswell of new scientific data pointing in this direction.

 Part V: Corbies

 

The wee corbie.

The wee corbie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who provides for the raven its prey,

When its young ones cry to God,

And wander about for lack of food?

                                                                   Job 38:41

The wee corbies that nest in the conifer trees ‘round my hoose are awfully clever. Noah( Genesis 8:7) and Elijah ( I Kings 17:4) used them as couriers back in the day.

Indeed, recent studies show that they have greater mental powers than any of the great apes. You wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side o’ them either; they recognise faces and teach others in their community to single you oot.

The cleverness o’ corbies has left evolutionary biologists in a guddle.

They cannae explain it and didnae anticipate it.

The corbie’s intellect is strong evidence that humans could not have descended from another primate species (even if they share 90 per cent of their DNA wi’ humans while bananas share 50 per cent). Or shall we posit that Homo sapiens sapiens descended fae the Corvidae?

Don’t be an ape. Open your eyes while you still have time.

Eye.

Part VI: The Evolution of  Microbial Drug Resistance

The phenomenon of antibiotic resistance has long been used by biology educators to illustrate the veracity of the evolutionary paradigm. We’re all familiar with the basic idea; a population of microbes initially 100 per cent sensitive to an anti-microbial drug produces a single mutant bacterium that can either detoxify the drug or find a way to expel it from the interior of the cell. This resistance to the antibiotic confers a selective advantage on the mutant cell, allowing it to replicate unhindered and so, as time progresses, the mutant organism becomes the predominant phenotype, so that strain eventually becomes resistant to that particular agent.

Then we have so-called Multidrug Resistance, where organisms are assumed to have ‘evolved’ the genetic ability to prevent not one, but several antibiotics to work, thus creating the ‘highly evolved’ Superbugs (MRSA and the like). This chain of events is widely used as a very potent argument for ‘evolution in action’. Indeed, this same argument has been used by some proponents for ‘Evolution Only Education’ to suggest that those who don’t believe in the theory -from a purely rational perspective -are somehow acting in an immoral way.

The truth however, as you’ll see from this podcast, is that bacteria never evolved anything new. The researchers discovered that the majority of bacteria living in waters isolated from the rest of world for several million years (and thus, by implication, had no prior exposure to these antimicrobial drugs) were already multi-drug resistant. They simply acquired these characteristics from their environment and thus did not evolve. They did not change in their fundamental nature, just as the Bible states in Genesis I.

So, the question I’d like to ask you is this: Is it moral to withhold the whole truth from beginning biology students about the so-called ‘evolution of multi-drug resistance?

Quid est veritas?

More on the human hand in the scourge of antibiotic resistance here

Part VII: Probability

In a very interesting research paper published in 1983, physicist Brandon Carter calculated the probability for a species as technically advanced as human beings to have developed from a microbial species in ten billion years or less. The odds are 10^-24,000,000. This result completely rules out the possibility of any extraterrestrial intelligence arising anywhere in the Universe but also the impossibility of human life arising from any naturalistic means.

Somebody ought to tell the folks at SETI about this paper, as well as origin of life researchers.

Source: Carter, Brandon, “The Anthropic Principle and its implications for Biological Evolution”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, A 310, pp- 347-60. (1983).

Part VIII: Brave New Worlds

books

You cannae win.

 

You cannae break even.

 

You cannae stay oot o’ the game.

Aye, the classical laws o’ thermodynamics!

The inadequacy of the evolutionary paradigm has prompted some prominent scientists to ‘look beyond Darwin’, as it were, to discover other ways in which complex systems can come into being without the intervention of a supernatural agent. The Nobel laureate, chemist Ilya Prigogine, in his book, Order out of Chaos, explores how chaotic systems ‘evolve’ into more ordered structures within a naturalistic framework. To be honest though, all Dr. Prigogine has managed to demonstrate is a kind of pattern formation – fractal systems and the like- such as those seen in snowflakes, spiral galaxies and rose petals – systems that cannot even remotely approach the level of complexity, information storage capacity or specified purpose of even the simplest living systems.

Others have gone in other directions, invoking new laws of nature to explain how living systems could arise from non living susbstrates. Biologist Stuart Kaufmann, of the Santa Fe Institute, California, has proposed what he calls a 4th law of thermodynamics in his book, At Home in the Universe, to explain the origin of self sustaining, self organising systems such as living things. The only trouble with such a law is that it would violate the second law o’ thermodynamics, but he’s still searching….. apparently.

Part IX: Transitional forms and all that

One of the ‘strongest’ arguments used by biologists to bolster the evolutionary paradigm is the existence of so-called transitional forms which are often cited to explain the evolutionary progression of a species. Arguably the best attested examples of these ‘missing links’ are illustrated by the fishapods and the whale. But as this podcast clearly demonstrates, these examples make heehaw sense. As you’ll discover after watching this podcast, three major problems attend the putative evolutionary ascent of these (or any other) creatures.

They often appear at the same time in the fossil record

They appear in the wrong order to that anticipated by Darwinian theory.

There ought to be far more examples of transitional forms in the fossil record to make the theory viable.

There is simply insufficient hard evidence to convince a sceptic that macro-evolution is real.

Are you going to stand there and defend a theory that doesn’t make sense?

Don’t be a dunderheid!

How can you even refer to the theory of evolution as ‘rational’?

A zoologist debunks whale evolution here

Part X: Speedy Evolution

Anyone wishing to evaluate the evolutionary paradigm in the cold light of day, must contemplate the explosive events in the history of life on Earth. Arguably the most profound and (still) deeply mystifying of these events is the Cambrian Explosion, which occurred about 540 million years ago, when in the space of a very short time (no more than 2 million years and possibly a lot less than this), most of the known complex animal phyla sprang into existence. The best palaeontologists can say is that it demonstrates super rapid evolution without providing any clarification of how this (dramatic) speeding up of the evolutionary rate was supposed to occur. 

We don’t need any more flowery books talking about it and making its authors wealthy, we want credible scientific explanations!

Part XI: Junk DNA, Bad Designs and all the rest of it

Biologists have long known that only 5 to 30 percent of DNA found in complex creatures codes for functional proteins – the workhorse molecules of the cell. Indeed, only 3 per cent of human DNA encodes proteins. The rest came to be known as ‘junk DNA’ and biologists cited this as powerful evidence for the evolutionary paradigm. Afterall, random molecular events would be expected to gradually turn functional DNA into useless artefacts.

For three decades, they rested on their laurels. But in the mid-1990’s, a team of physicists (yes physicists) made an important breakthrough that left the biologists scratching their heads.  They noticed that the quantity of junk DNA correlated strongly with the degree of complexity of the organism. In 1994, the physicists brought computing power to the table, showing that the junk DNA carries the same complex patterns of communication found in human speech. Indeed, subsequent work revealed that our junk DNA encodes far more information about our linguistic nuances than the protein-coding DNA. Today, it is becoming widely recognised that none of the junk DNA is devoid of function and indeed seems to be directing many higher order coding activities.

These revelations have proven to be highly embarrassing for the High Priests of the Evolutionary Paradigm and can no longer be used to support their world views.

Likewise, traditional arguments of ‘bad designs’ reveal a deep-seated ignorance on the part of those who cling to evolutionary ideas. Traditional examples, such as the human appendix, tonsils and the ‘ residual’ human tail bone, the back-to-front wiring of the human eye and the presumed awkwardness of the Panda’s thumb have been shown to be ill thought out, when further research has clearly established important functions for these organs and appendages and why they are the way they are.

Without my tailbone, I wouldnae be able tae stand for long in me gairden ken wi’ my telescopes, nor could I have been the promising long distance runner I was in my teenage years.

Evolutionists ought to think twice in future about spouting off about bad designs. Time always reveals the foolishness of their proclamations.

For more on Junk DNA see here.

For more on Bad Designs see here.

More on Junk DNA & human linguistics;

Mantegna, R.N. et al, “Linguistic features of Non-Coding DNA Sequences”, Physical Review Letters, 73, pp 3169-72 (1994).

Part XII: Stamp Collecting

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 1: 28

If a soulish creature finds itself on the edge of a sheer cliff, without wings, it intuitively knows it’s in danger. Humans understand that this fear arises as a consequence of the law of gravity, a force which operates throughout the universe, deciding the fate of galaxies, stars and the planets they spawn.

There is nothing in the evolutionary paradigm that can explain my ability to type 100 words per minute on my laptop either; why, despite as yet, no spacecraft data, I can use the inverse square law to vividly imagine how bright the noonday Sun would be on my upturned face were I able to stand on the surface of Eris.

It is our cognitive capacities, –entirely unanticipated by Darwinian evolutionthat turn out to be our saving grace. Humans conceived of the Big Bang before we had any hard evidence for it. And in another Big Bang, humans arrived on Earth, consuming its resources and building the global high technology society we find ourselves in today.

Part XIII: Spiritual Blindness

Romans 1 tells us how intelligent, well meaning individuals will become spiritually blind, unwilling to accept the truth even though the evidence is heavily stacked against them.  In this link, you will uncover yet another reasoned argument against the theory of evolution by an ordinary bloke who has done some homework and there is much that is meritorious in it.

Isn’t it about time you started to wise up?

Part XIV: The Nervous Multitudes of the Cambrian Seas.

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life….

Genesis: 1:20

Every day the case for biological evolution weakens. And the Cambrian animals continue to provide the ‘smoking gun’. In this article, the author discusses the amazing discovery of animals already possessing complex nervous systems when the evolutionists would expect otherwise.

Scrathin’ my heid.

Part XV: Getting Round Life’s Early – Very Early – Origin

Despite strong isotopic evidence favoring the early origin and global reach of life, some scientists have tried to duck the issue by trying to find ways round the conundrum,  recognizing that any realistic evolutionary model needs way more time to create complex cellular lifeforms. But you can’t have your cake and eat it!

Here is a rebuttal of that back-tracking.

Life on earth appears to have arisen spontaneously in the early history of our planet, challenging Neo-Darwinian evolution.

 

Part XVI: A Purpose Led Life

What are the implications for holding true to the prevailing, naturalistic interpretation of the allegory of life on Earth via Darwinian evolution? There is no God and no heaven, no basis for right and wrong, no purpose and no ultimate meaning to life. It is a world utterly bereft of hope.
That’s such a dull way to look at things don’t you think?

Which clever clogs dreamt all that up?
Dinnae fash yersel!
You see, that’s just not the way the world really is.

Part XVII: Experiments

A team of evolutionary biologists based at the University of Michigan have been carrying out a long term experiment on the bacterium E. coliTwelve different  E. coli populations  were grown under highly artificial laboratory conditions in order to establish whether such breeding conditions could bring about a repeated micro-evolutionary outcome. The answer after twenty years of continued growth corresponding to 40,000 generations was no. After 45,000 generations just one micro-evolutionary change was documented. But that change did not manifest something new; indeed it only re-activated a pre-existing gene.

Extrapolated to our kind, 45,000 generations would represent a million years of ‘human evolution’.

Other long term evolution experiments on yeast, fungi and fruit flies show how limited natural processes seem to be in their capacity to generate significant changes in existing lifeforms. The Biblical account – the only book of scripture that gets the science right – informs us that divine intervention played a critical role in directing life on Earth over the aeons and provides a much more plausible explanation to a rational mind. For six days God created and on the seventh, He rested.

Put your trust in the God of the Bible. Open your heart to Him today!

Part XVIII: Genetic Entropy

Plant geneticist, Dr. John Sanford, a former secular scientist turned Christian, has promulgated the concept of genetic entropy, which posits that genomes, like all other complex structures, are subject to the law of decay causing organisms to decrease in fitness and not the other way round as Darwinian models predict.
Such a model neatly explains the ages of the Patriarchs of the Old Testament, who lived far longer lives than we do and why they declined in longevity as the post-flood era progressed.

In this article, the author discusses the alarming increase in autism in the world and how it might well be the best evidence yet that humans either didn’t or can’t evolve.

See what you think?

Part XIX: Extra-terrestrial Life: Frank Drake, one of the founding fathers of the radio Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), once described how he and the late Carl Sagan went up to the great radio telescope at Green Bank, West Virginia, to listen for signals from alien civilizations. Sagan was cock sure that they would uncover something ‘within an hour’. But instead of finding ETI, Sagan nodded off and eventually got so bored that he gestured to Drake to quit and go home.
Half a century later, advances in technology have improved the power of detection by 14 orders of magnitude, yet still there are no signs of alien intelligence. You see, Drake’s ‘faith’ lies entirely with the evolutionary process operating throughout the cosmos, but as I have demonstrated previously, there is no solid evidence that what happened on Earth could ever happen anywhere else. An appeal to probability alone suggests that it was a singular event, once in a 13.8 billion year old blue moon.

Even if alien biospheres exist, the latest research shows they’re more likely to go extinct.

I suspect the only aliens you’re ever going to meet are the ones already living next door to you.

Part XX:Hominids

Recoginse yourself? Really?

Know thyself?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paleoanthropologists have uncovered a variety of human-like creatures that exhibited bipedalism and tool use over the last few million years. These hominids are widely cited as evidence that humans evolved from more primitive ancestors. But a closer look at the data shows that the tools employed by these hominids did not improve appreciably over hundreds of thousands or even millions of years and are nothing like the sophisticated tools that were suddenly introduced by modern humans. Moreover, DNA analyses of later hominids (the Neanderthals and Denisovans, for example) show that they were genetically distinct from contemporary humans. What is more, there is zero solid evidence (but a lot of wishful thinking) that any of these hominids were capable of symbolic thought – an attribute unique to human beings.

Were you able to look deep into the eyes of a Neanderthal you would not see a spirit.

They did not possess Imago Dei.

So why did God create hominids?

To warn the animals of the impending arrival of a super-predator.

Where is the evidence?

Here is data on large mammal (>40 kilograms) extinction rates during the Late Pleistocene(126-10,000 years ago).

Continent                               Extinction Rate (%)

Australia                                         94

South America                               79

North America                                73

Europe                                           30

Sub-Saharan Africa                         5

Source: African Exodus,The Origins of Modern Humanity ( 1997) Stringer C. & McKie, R., (New York: Henry Holt)

Notice that in regions such as Europe and Sub Saharan Africa, where hominids appeared ‘early’ and in various ‘stages’ of sophistication in the fossil record, extinction rates of large bodied mammals remained very low. In contrast, where hominids were suddenly introduced i.e. Australia, South America and North America, large bodied animals suffered catastrophic extinction rates because they were not ‘habituated’ for long enough to adjust to the increased sophistication of predation.

More on hominids versus humans here.

Can Chimps Cook?

A PhD. zoologist, Dr. Marc Surtees, debunks human evolution here.

Part XXI: Growing International Dissent Among Scientists

One might think that an individual who expresses scepticism about Darwinian evolution is some kind of uneducated crackpot or religious fanatic, but the plain truth is that more and more scientists from all around the world are publicly willing to express their doubts, irrespective of the consequences. Did you spot the Nobel Laureates in there? It is my contention that the theory of evolution as promulgated by biologists is in crisis and needs to be urgently addressed. Take a long, hard look at the list of signatories (and their academic credentials) in the link provided above. If you fit the criteria and have developed similar doubts then add your name to the list?

You can get started here.

Part XXII: Debates & Testimonia:

One of the regnant priests of naturalistic evolution, Professor Richard Dawkins, has publicly claimed that one should never debate with a creationist. But to my way of thinking, that’s a cop out and worse still, a gross admission of weakness.The truth is that Dr. Dawkins won’t debate a scientifically competent creationist because he knows he would lose the argument on multiple levels.

Thankfully, some of Dawkins’ disciples have ignored that advice and gone head to head with other scientists who hold a completely different world view. In the coming weeks, I shall present a series of links to such debates as well as presenting testimonia from a variety of academics within the field.

Link A: Ruse versus Rana

In this debate, American biochemist Dr. Fazale Rana, vice president of Reason’s to Believe, debates British evolutionary biologist, Dr. Michael Ruse, on campus at the University of California on issues regarding the origin of life and Darwinian evolution.

Link B: Two Oxford Professors: Lennox versus Atkins:

Dr. John Lennox, Old Earth Creationist and Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University  debates atheist Dr. Peter Atkins, Professor of Chemistry, also of Oxford University, on that big question here.

Link C: Lennox versus Dawkins:

Dr. Lennox debates atheist biologist Richard Dawkins here.

Link D: Professor Richard Lumsden: Evolutionary Biologist turned Christian

The late Dr. Richard Lumsden, distinguished Professor of Parasitology at the University of Tulane, New Orleans, USA, gives his damning verdict on the pseudoscience of Darwinian evolution here.

Link E: Dr. David Berlinski, Mathematician & Philosopher

A scathing critique of Darwinian evolution if ever I’ve heard one.

Link F: Problems with Theistic Evolution

Some Christians have tried to harmonize evolutionary ideas with their belief in God. They argue that God used the evolutionary process to ‘guide’ life on Earth over the aeons. But God expects us to think critically, to put everything to the test.

Darwinian evolution fails the litmus test because it is not rational.

See why here.

Here are more discussions on theistic evolution and its intractable problems.

Link F: Whence Biological Information?

Scientist and philosopher,Dr. Stephen Meyer is a distinguished thinker within the Intelligent Design (ID) movement. Here he discusses the origin of life and the information all living things are endowed with.

Link G: Can we know our Designer?

Because God is rational, He created us to be rational in His own image.

A rational being can see clearly whether or not something is the product of a mind, irrespective of what a blinkered evolutionist may claim.

But can we glean something of the nature of the designer from the things that are designed?

Yes indeed! Have a read of this link to explore this idea further.

Part XXIII: The Human Body; Designed or Evolved?

In recent years more and more physicians and life scientists  are recognizing the astounding elegance of the human body and how it defies any evolutionary explanation. Here are just a few for interest;

Body Beautiful

Curvaceous Females

A Beautiful Mind

Wondrous Reflexes

Human G Suits

A Mind Boggling Circulatory System

Designed Image Stabilisation

An Engineered Pelvis

Body Designed to Minimise Dangers from Falling.

The Human Hand: Coupled to our indefatigable spirit, our hands allow us to do marvellous things. With our long, slender fingers and opposable thumbs, humans can create incredibly complex tools and deadly weapons. They enable us to write words, paint pictures and create logical constructs that distinguish us in kind and degree from the animals. Predictably, evolutionary adherents have tried hard to show that the human hand evolved over long periods of time, but now paleo-anthropologists are in a bit of a pickle. Since chimps – our so-called ‘nearest living relative’ do not have hands like ours, it was long thought that the anatomical changes in our hands evolved after the ‘branching’ off of the human and chimp lineages.  But new research conducted by researchers based at the George Washington and Stony Brook universities reveal a completely different picture; the hands of extant and fossil primates, including hominins, are actually quite diverse and that there appears to be nothing especially distinguished about ours. This raises more doubts about the standard concept that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. See this article for more information.

Part XXIV: More Speedy Evolution

The Triassic-Jurassic mass Extinction Event (TJEE), occurring some 201 +/- 2 million years ago, is the second greatest mass extinction event preserved in the fossil record. It removed more than 95 percent of terrestrial megaflora species, as well as all the animal species dependent upon these plants. Despite this devastating epoch in earth history, it led to another exceptionally rapid radiation of large bodied theropod dinosaur species in its aftermath, with new research suggesting that they appeared in a time span of the order of 10,000 years! And within 100,000 years, dinosaur families had reached a new stable maximum in extremely hostile conditions. Yet again, there is no Darwinian explanation for this but the data beautifully fits a biblical creation model.

Part XXV: The Tree of Life and the Fossil Record
Imagine you came across 100 random frames of an old movie consisting of 100,000 frames. Could you determine the plot of the film? You might be able to get a handful of frames to fit your pre-conceived idea but the rest seem to be telling a completely different story. Would it be reasonable to claim that your pre-conceived ideas of the movie were correct in light of that handful of frames you ‘pieced’ together?

That is rather like the current state of affairs in evolutionary biology.

Here are some influential quotes from a number of researchers in that field:

Henry Gee from his book, In Search of Deep Time- Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life, (1999) , pp 116-117, says:

To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story – amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific.”

Prominent cell and developmental biologist, Stuart Newmann,  based at New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY had this to say regarding the status quo:

The Darwinian mechanism that’s used to explain all evolutionary change will be relegated, I believe, to being one of several mechanisms – maybe not even the most important when it comes to understanding macro-evolution, the evolution of the major transitions in body”

Concerning the fossil record, biologist Malcolm S. Gordon in his book, Biology and Philosophy (1999) , pp 340 states:

“There is no way of knowing to what extent, if at all, those specific organisms were relevant to later developments, or what their relationships might have been.”

Regarding Darwin’s tree of life, evolutionary biologist, Dr. Eric Bapteste said in a 2009 interview for New Scientist:

“We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality.”

Later in the same article, fellow evolutionary biologist, Dr. Michael Rose (University of California) says,

“The tree of life is being politely buried, we all know that. What’s less accepted is that our whole view of biology needs to change.”
                                                       New Scientist, January 24, 2009, pp- 37-39.

We are still in the dark about the origin of most major  groups of organisms. They appear in the fossil record as Athena did from the head of Zeus – full-blown and raring to go, in contradiction to Darwin’s depiction of evolution as resulting from the gradual accumulation of countless infinitesimally minute variations…..

Schwartz,J., Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes an the Emergence of Species, pp 3, (Wiley, 1999).

If the experts are not sure; why should you feel secure in your evolutionary ‘heritage’?

Part XXVI: Vestigial Organs? No Such Thing!

Evolutionary biologists have long looked to so-called vestigial structures as ‘evidence’ of the evolutionary paradigm at work. But as we learn more about the Book of Nature, we find that no such structure exists; there is specified purpose in everything that is created. Just like the human appendix was found to have important roles in the immune system, so now the intriguing story of the Whale Pelvis is unraveling.

Evolutionary biologists would learn a great deal more if they became Baraminologists!

Part XXVII: The Seeing Eye

The eyes are like a lamp for the body. If your eyes are sound, your whole body will be full of light.

                          Matthew 6:22

We have already covered some of the astounding features of the human body that show unmistakable signs of design. But your eyes are orders of magnitude more complex than the best robotic eyes humankind has ever constructed. The eye provides excellent evidence of design rather than (excuse the pun) a blind evolutionary theory stabbing in the dark. To help you see the light, have a look at this article and its associated links.

More on the design of the human eye here.

Part XXVIII: Did God Create Using Evolutionary Processes?

The account of Genesis 1-3 and also Psalm 104 clearly indicates that God did not resort to producing creatures gradually, as the evolutionary paradigm insists, because there would not be enough time to do so. Furthermore, I would have to call God a liar but that would contradict scripture (Numbers 23:19). Indeed the evolutionary position makes absolutely no sense, as the Earth would have required a complex biosphere from the beginning in order to maintain life throughout the ages. Psalm 104 in particular informs us that God renews the face of the Earth, driving species to extinction and replacing them with organisms better equipped to deal with a steadily brightening Sun. In this link and the associated podcast at the end of the article, you can explore these ideas more fully.

Part XXIX: Origins with a New Twist

Now that Darwin’s famous book,On the Origins of Species, is in the public domain, some have quickly taken to write their own foreword to the classic text. Ray Comfort, well known for, but not universally respected for, his militant style of evangelism, took the time to illuminate Darwin’s worldview in view of the 21st century Christian faith. Comfort makes some good points that we ought to remember. You can read this and the 150th Anniversary Edition of Origin’s here.

Part XXX: Language & Darwin

Language is a characteristic unique to modern humans. Yet despite a great deal of effort to frame the origin of language in an intelligible Darwinian framework, it has not yielded the evidence it ought to. The latest research suggests that since all humans possess the  same ability to utilize language in conveying thoughts, emotions and abstract ideas, it is unlikely to have evolved gradually as it ought to have in a Darwinian fashion. Indeed, the distinguished authors of this work (Noam Chomski & Ian Tattersall et al) conclude thus:

By this reckoning, the language faculty is an extremely recent acquisition in our lineage, and it was acquired not in the context of slow gradual modification of preexisting systems under natural selection but in a single, rapid, emergent event that built upon those prior systems but was not predicted by them…The relatively sudden origin of language poses difficulties that may be called ‘Darwin’s problem’.’

Yet again, evolutionary process fail the litmus test, but language and its origin can be neatly framed within a biblical creation model.

More on human language here.

Part XXXI: New Evidence from Molecular Biology and Genetics

But you, Daniel, keep these words secret and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will roam about, and knowledge will increase.
                                                                                                  Daniel 12:4

New research continues to cast doubt on the concept of human evolution. In this subsection, we shall explore the latest findings from the discipline of molecular biology to cast a sceptical eye over Darwin’s Victorian creation myth.

Exhibit A: the HAR 1 gene in the animal kingdom and its peculiar behaviour in the human brain.

Exhibit B: Are we more than our DNA? – an interesting talk by David Harrison, currently Professor of Pathology at the University of Edinburgh.

Exhibit C: Microbiologist Rich Deem casts his critical eye over the genetics of humans and their putative ancestral hominins. Is the genetic evidence really there to support human evolution? I don’t think so!

Exhibit D: Population geneticist, Professor Maciej Giertych provides evidence against evolution here.

Exhibit F: Do genetic mutations support a Naturalistic or Creation based worldview? Molecular biologist and visiting Fellow at the Rivendell Institute, Yale University, Dr. Anjeanette  Roberts, argues that maintaining a purely naturalistic outlook could actually be damaging to scientific progress. See here for details.

Exhibit G: Despite vigorous attempts to show otherwise, vascular plants show little or no capacity to evolve. Plant geneticists have used the ordering of genes (synteny) along a chromosome to build ‘evolutionary trees’ between various plant species, but a team of French researchers showed this reasoning to be untenable, debunking a key prediction of the evolutionary paradigm. See here for details.

Exhibit H: In June 2012, Dartmouth University molecular biologist, Kevin Peterson, had a paper published in Nature, where he presented sequence comparisons of microRNA strands (which play vital roles in gene expression) across a wide variety of mammal groups. His results shocked the scientific community because they tore apart traditional ideas about the so-called animal  ‘family tree’.  As Peterson laments in this article, “I’ve looked at thousands of microRNA genes and I can’t find a single example that would support the traditional tree.” According to his own analysis microRNAs yielded, “a radically different diagram for mammals; one that aligns humans more closely with elephants than with rodents.” In the end, Peterson concludes,” the microRNAS are totally unambiguous….. and give a totally different tree from what everyone wants.”

A follow up commentary in Nature from July 28 2014 concludes thus; “A simple tool to decode how animals have evolved over hundreds of millions of years would certainly be nice — but it is looking unlikely that one exists.”

Exhibit I:The Bible and the Jewish Torah authoritatively claim (and borrowed much later in the Qur’an [Sura 2: 30-39] ) that Adam and Eve were the first human beings, uniquely created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1: 26-30), ancestral parents to us all, and that this first couple lived together in the Garden of Eden. The scientific community ridiculed this position for a very long time until new evidence deriving from human mitochrondrial DNA (which is passed down the maternal line) and Y chromosome (passed down the male line) analysis showed that this idea appears to be essentially correct.

All women can be traced to a mitochrondrial ‘Eve’ and all men to a Y chromosomal ‘Adam’. What is more, according to a new study published in Nature in August 2013, ancestral ‘Adam’ and’ Eve’ could well have co-existed, just as the Bible had showed us all along.

For  pre-emptive apologetic commentaries on this fascinating study, see here and here.

Exhibit J: Are organelles evidence for evolution or creation?

Deep inside the cells of eukaryotic organisms (such as humans, frogs and yeast) are found curious structures called organelles such as chloroplasts, which carry out photosynthesis in green plants, and mitochondria, the structures where the vast majority of our cellular energy is furnished. The size and structure of both the chloroplast and the mitochondrion resemble those of simpler, free living cells such as cyanobacteria and ricketsiales, respectively. These organelles possess their own DNA, coding  for anything between 30 and 100 genes. The evolutionary paradigm has it that these were once free living organisms that were internalised inside larger cells, but instead of being used as a food source, they ‘learned’ to co-exist with the larger cell, and gradually, over billions of years, most of their genes were transferred to the genome of the larger, host cell. Evolutionists point to the fact that other organelles have lost all of their genes and so it’s only a matter of time before the same fate will befall mitochondria and chloroplasts, but new research has cast doubt on this idea by finding that the genes encoded by mitochondria and chloroplasts have good reason to stay where they are. An evolutionary quirk or good design sense? You be the judge of that. See here for more details.

Exhibit K: Engineers look to the genius of Nature for Inspiration

By reverse engineering biological organs,  new research continues the make a powerful case for design at the heart of living things. In this article, the distinguished biochemist, Professor Russell W. Carlson, shows how the tail of the seahorse shows the unmistakable hallmarks of intelligent and elegant design in a way that could not be expected by some blind, bumbling process like evolution.

Part XXXII: Seeing the ‘Big’ Picture

As I have intimated throughout this link, belief in Darwinian evolution is not scientific and thus, cannot be considered rational. Such irrational ideas have pagan origins.This extends to the wider Universe. We eagerly expect a cosmos brimming over with life yet fail to see the miracle of life around us! Evolution is insidious, obnoxious, an insult to reason, a corruption of the mind; a denier of the spirit. Here’s a fine synopsis by Dr. William Worraker (BSc Physics, PhD Engineering Mathematics) of the real picture, the ‘Big Picture’.

Part XXXIII: Philosophic Objections to Evolution through History

Ever since Darwin first published his influential books on evolution, it has impelled learned men and women to question its relevance to Christianity, and, more broadly, its legitimacy as a true science. And while some Christian scholars were able to reach some degree of accommodation with evolutionary ideology, many others couldn’t. It is interesting that there have been Christians and non-Christians alike, in every generation since, that have expressed their doubts on whether a purely blind, evolutionary process could possibly be true; a significant historical observation, I think!

For them, it didn’t just feel wrong, it didn’t compute either. In this series, we shall explore some of those objections through history.

Oculus Historiae 1: The American theologian, Charles Hodge (1797-1878), concluded that if one were to embrace Darwinian ideas, one would necessarily have to deny God’s existence. See here.

Oculus Historiae 2: The pre-Darwinian English philosopher and theologian, William Paley (1743-1805) developed a splendid argument from design; if one were to come across and examine a watch  set upon a heath, he argued, one would rightly conclude that it was designed. Influential atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins, claimed in his book, The Blind Watchmaker, that “biology is the study of things that give the appearance of having being designed.”

Paley used common sense reasoning to come to his conclusion, yet Dawkins requires you to abandon it!

You can explore Paley’s magnificent work, Natural Theology (1802), here.

Oculus Historiae 3: Sir Richard Owen was arguably one of the finest naturalists of the Victorian era. Darwin himself openly acknowledged his greater academic prestige. Owen is the man who gave us the name ‘Dinosaur”, which translates as ‘fearfully great lizard’. Unlike Darwin though, who viewed homological organs in terms of common descent, Owen argued the same homologous structures are better explained in terms of an ‘archetype’. To elaborate, shared biological features from the molecular level right the way up to whole organ structures could just as well (if not better) be viewed as evidence for common design, not common descent. More on Owen’s archetypes here.

Oculus Historiae 4: Louis Pasteur (1822-95) was, without doubt, the greatest scientist of the 19th century. His seminal work in microbiology made him Mankind’s greatest benefactor, with millions of lives having been saved through his efforts to develop cures for many diseases that have plagued our kind down through the millennia. Pasteur was also the scientist who demonstrated that life can only be derived from pre-existing life. Despite his towering scientific presence, Pasteur was also a life-long Christian, never seeing any conflict between science and his belief in the Biblical God. He also rejected mainstream evolutionary arguments. You can read a good essay about him here. [Note: the views expressed on Catholicism and Young Earth Creationism by the authors of this essay are not necessarily shared by myself.]

Oculus Historiae 5:

As soon as the earth in the course of time had achieved the necessary capability for the formation and maintenance of organic life, plants and animals of the lowest sorts first appeared….. [it] developed more and more abundantly; the oldest forms disappeared in part, to make space for new, more perfect ones.

                                                                                Gregor Mendel

mail.google.com

The Austrian Augustinian friar and biologist, Gregor Mendel (1822-84)  carried out a set of famous experiments with pea plants, which established the basic laws of genetics we understand today, and was the first to coin the term ‘gene’, although he was unaware of its exact chemical nature. Evolutionists have tried to claim Mendel as one of their own but if one studies the scholarly literature, it is clear that although Mendel was intimately familiar with Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, he rejected the notion that the various groups of animals and plants came about through ‘decent with modification’. In retrospect, his experiments showed that traits were not ‘blended together’ but recur, ‘undiluted’ as it were,  in later generations. Mendel was a progressive creationist, understanding that this provided a much better fitting of the facts than Darwinian evolution could ever hope to do. For more on Mendel’s opposition to the evolutionary paradigm see here.

Oculus Historiae 6: The ‘Other’ Darwin

I now uphold the doctrine that not man alone, but the whole World of Life, in almost all its varied manifestations, leads us to the same conclusion—that to afford any rational explanation of its phenomena, we require to postulate the continuous action and guidance of higher intelligences; and further, that these have probably been working towards a single end, the development of intellectual, moral, and spiritual beings…

Thus wrote the celebrated Welsh naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace (1823-1913), who proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection before Darwin. Unlike his more famous contemporary though, Wallace came to accept that intelligent agencies must have directed all life on Earth from its inception. Wallace’s ideas resonate well with the explosion of new information available today that categorically rejects – on purely rational grounds – myopic, reductionist arguments for the history of life on Earth.

Oculus Historiae 7: The Catholic Church’s ‘evolving’ acceptance of the evolutionary paradigm.

Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.

                                                                                          Luke 23:34

The Roman See has, up until fairly recently, maintained a fairly ambivalent view of Darwinian ideologies. But as the twentieth century progressed, and as supposedly ‘stronger’ evidence for evolution was emerging, some intellectuals within its ranks sought to harmonise the evolutionary process with a kind of ‘systematic theology’. Prominent among these was the influential work of the French, paleontologist, philosopher and Catholic priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), who produced many treatise that attempted to reconcile the record of nature with the historic, Christian faith. For Teilhard, evolution was “the natural landscape,” where the “history of salvation” was situated.

It is undeniably true that in recent years, the higher echelons of the Catholic Church have been ‘pushing’ the ‘reality’ of Darwinian evolution among its billion-strong flock. In one very alarming development, and in an attempt to sanction evolutionary ideas in the wider  Universe, Catholic clerical astronomers announced to the world it was “OK to believe in Aliens”.

Remarkably though, in line with these developments, there have been ‘gentle’ voices of dissent within the Catholic Church that have raised alarm bells about the direction the ‘consensus’  is gravitating towards. You can see some of those views here and here.

In this clip, Pope Francis endorses the evolutionary paradigm, stating that, “God is not a Magician but allows life to develop in accordance with internal laws that he gave to each one so that they could reach their fulfillment.”

What laws might those be?

Darwinian laws?

That’s an oxymoron.

Who is the Holy Father trying to kid?

Who advises this man?

Non credo quia absurdum est!

In light of the new explosion of knowledge at our disposal, I strongly urge Catholics to reject outright the evolutionary paradigm, based both on rational and Scriptural grounds.

Oculus Historiae 8: A Philosophic response to an Arch-Evolutionist

The late Dr. Dallas Willard (1935-2013), Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, left behind a wealth of discourses on  a wide variety of philosophic questions. In this essay, Willard uses his forensic training in logic to unpick the central tenets of Richard Dawkin’s book, The Blind Watchmaker.

Oculus Historiae 9: Darwin’s Doubt

In 1993, the American analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga (born 1932) developed an extremely persuasive argument which hinges on a simple presupposition: if our minds were shaped by an evolutionary process then we have no reason to trust our reasoning and understanding of the world. Materialistic evolution is purported to be an adaptive mechanism that controls the development of life and guarantees the survivability of that life. In particular, the neuro-physiological processes that make up a species produce behaviour that results in a species more suited for survival. In this evolutionary scenario, these same neuro-physiological processes also produce beliefs. But while natural selection rewards adaptive behaviour, it does not care whether beliefs are true. Plantinga argues that a naturalistic process like evolution cannot be guaranteed to produce true beliefs, and he quotes several evolutionists who confirm this view. He concludes that naturalistic evolution is a self-defeating explanation in that it cannot guarantee the reliability of the reasoning processes that lead to it.  In his own words,

Evolutionary naturalism can’t sensibly be accepted. The high priests of evolutionary naturalism loudly proclaim that Christian and even theistic belief is bankrupt and foolish. The fact, however, is that the shoe is on the other foot. It is evolutionary naturalism, not Christian belief, that can’t rationally be accepted.

Neat huh?

Oculus Historiae 10: On Being Brave

In more recent years, more and more scientists are willing to come forth and admit there are insurmountable problems with the wholesale embracing of the evolutionary paradigm.

The late Professor Arthur E. Wilder Smith, holder of three doctoral degrees, comes clean about evolution here.

Dr Denis Noble, distinguished professor of physiology at the University of Oxford, debunks Darwinian evolution here.

Oculus Historiae 11: Evolution Undermining the Historic Christian Faith

Whatever you believe about evolution, it is, at its base, completely incompatible with the the Judeo-Christian world view. And whatever theistic evolutionists may sincerely believe, they are deluding themselves. Evolution devalues the sanctity of human life and dishonours our loving Creator.  In this essay, a group of pastors have come together to explain why accepting the evolutionary paradigm is dangerous and evil.

I believe it’s not possible to be a Christian and to believe in evolution. To see why, have a look at this link.

***The distinguished American nuclear engineer, Dr. Michael G. Houts, revealed his thoughts on Darwinian evolution in this 2007 essay for the Apologetics Press. Dr. Houts argues that biological evolution is a pseudoscience and highlights the dangers evolutionary ideologies have on people, particularly Christians. Crucially, Houts argues – quite correctly in my opinion – that evolutionary atheism is not a rational position to hold.

You can read Part II of Dr. Houts’ essay here.

Part XXXIV: How Questions for Evolutionists

How did life appear so early and so rapidly on Earth?

How did life on Earth arise without any prebiotic soup?

How did life ‘find’ apparently non-existent chemical pathways?

How was the problem of homochirality overcome?

How did biological information arise de novo?

How were life’s essential boundaries formed?

How did life achieve its minimal complexity?

How did life fill even the harshest of niches in such a short time?

Part XXXV: Why Questions for Evolutionists

Why does the universe on every scale we examine show unmistakable signs of fine tuning for life in particular, and human life especially?

Why did the first life appear on Earth at the earliest possible moment permitted by physics?

Why are the Earth’s continents and its oceans optimised for advanced life?

Why are so called ‘transitional forms’ most abundant among species with the lowest probability of long-term survival and least abundant among species which exhibit the highest probability of survival?

Why does the build-up of mineral resources and biodeposits on our planet over 3.8 billion years consistently anticipate the needs of human technological civilization far in the future?

Why does the quantity and diversity of life forms on Earth precisely compensate for a steadily brightening Sun over the aeons?

Why are the laws of physics – the ‘bondage to decay’ if you will – displayed in such a way so as to minimize the spread of evil?

Why do so many animal and plant species exhibit altruistic behaviour?

Why does the fossil record show the sudden appearance of new life forms capable of multiple partner symbiosis?

Why does life from elsewhere in the cosmos make no sense?

Why do humans universally know ‘right’ from ‘wrong’?

Why do humans alone express a sense of  hope, purpose and destiny?

Part XXXVI: Darwin & Destiny

You cannae win.

 

You cannae break even.

 

You cannae stay oot o’ the game.

 

You did not evolve!

If you didn’t evolve then where did you come from and where are you going?

Once you free yourself from the shackles of Darwin’s Victorian creation myth, you become a new person. You see the world in a completely different way. Transformed from within, you fear no one but the person who created you. And that is the beginning of wisdom.

How could you not know that the elect will judge the angels? (1 Corinthians 6:3)

You are worth more than the world.

You what mate?

You heard!

Can you begin to imagine how empowered you really are!

Use that power responsibly.

Here’s a NEW and updated summary of why Darwin got it wrong.

For more evidence and testimonials on the same subject see Part II here

De Fideli

Origins of Life: A Closer Look Part II

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

 

 

Continuing a critical analysis of Professor Jack Szostak’s Origin of Life scenario proposed here.

See Part I for comments on earlier sections of the video

The goal: to critically appraise each of the steps Dr. Szostak presents in light of the latest research findings that show that any such scheme of events is physio-chemically untenable from a purely naturalistic perspective.

Video Clock Time 10-30 mins

Dr.Szostak’s RNA chains contain homochiral ribose (D ribose) though he has not disclosed how this D ribose originated. This is a crucially important point that the reader must gain an appreciation of. This will be discussed on this page.

No D ribose, no nucleotides, and no oligonucleotide chains.

                                                            Imago

Dr. Szostak completely avoids another intractable problem for his chemical synthesis scenario; that of the homochirality of sugars and amino acids. As shall be outlined in the next section, this is a very exciting and fast moving arena of research (owing to the pressing nature of the underlying problem), but as I shall demonstrate, it is still a mystery.

One of the key molecular features of life is that its major polymers are built up from chiral molecules. Chiral molecules exhibit handedness. All celllular life on Earth utilises left handed amino acids ( L amino acids) and right handed sugars ( D sugars). The L and D forms of the same molecules are called enantiomers and can be distinguished by how they rotate the plane of plane-polarised light in aqueous solution (either to the left or right) Because amino acids and sugars in all life on Earth exclusively incorporate L and D enantiomers, respectively, they are said to be homochiral.

The problem begins when scientists set out to explore synthetic means of producing molecules such as ribose, which almost invariably produce a 50:50 mixture of both enantiomers. Such a condition is said to be racemic.

To maintain biochemical viability, the ribose must be 100 percent in the D enantiomeric form; mixtures will soon grind any synthetic scheme to a halt.

Reference: Biochemistry Voet, D. & Voet J.D, (2011) Wiley pp 74-75.

Looking for solutions: what the latest research (as of 2015) has revealed

Scientists have been searching for many decades for a solution to the homochirality problem. One source was shown to occur via the production of 100 per cent circularly polarised light derived from the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars. This light selectively destroys one enantiomer over the other, with the result that one chiral form is selected for. The problem with this astrophysical source is that it only generates 20% enantiomeric enrichment, not enough to allow life processes to proceed or to explain the homochirlality problem.

Reference: Hazen, R.M., Life’s Rocky Start, Scientific American (April 2001)  77-85.

Molecules are not the only entities that exhibit mirror images of each other. In physics, the parity principle states that physical processes that display symmetry about a central plane operate as mirror images. According to this principle, nature shows no preference for either left- or right-handedness. In the 1950s however, physicists discovered an exception to this rule, referring to this interesting idea as a parity breaking. Chinese physicists demonstrated that the electro-weak force displays a slight preference for left-handed  amino acid enantiomers . When a radioactive nucleus undergoes decay, it emits polarised light with a slight left-handed bias. Some physicists have suggested that this parity breaking could have led to homochirality. But since the energy difference between enantiomers is only of the order of 10 J Mol^-1 it would have no appreciable effect on chemical reactions, a situation endorsed by leading astrobiologists.

Reference: Rikken, G. L. J. A. Rikken & Raupach, E., Enantioselective Magnetochiral Photochemistry, Nature, 405 ( 2000), 932-35.

The inconvenient truth about homochirality in biochemical systems has led some more zealous scientists to uncover chemical means to surmount the problem. The most promising of these will be discussed here.

One way to create some chiral excess is a process called oligomerisation. Biological polymers are built up of subunits called monomers. By chemically linking up these monomers a polymer is created. An oligomer is an intermediate state between a monomer and a polymer, usually having several tens of monomer units. Some laboratory studies have shown that oligomerisation reactions are inhibited  when a racemic mixture of monomers is incorporated into the reaction.Specifically, if the researchers add the opposite enantiomer of a nucleotide during the oligomerisation of RNA nucleotides, the addition inhibits the reaction. This, some researchers have suggested, provides a way of producing homochiral polymers.

Reference:Joyce et al, RNA Evolution, pp 217-24.

The main problem with this model resides with the probability of assembling sufficiently long RNA oligomers for it to allow the process to occur in a realistic prebiotic setting. To get anything viable, at least 50 subunits must be routinely produced and preferably much longer chains. As a result, most researchers in the field now consider the probability of this mechanism favouring homochirality to be too remote to be a viable option. Others have suggested that enantiomers with the same handedness could react preferentially to form the oligomer chain. However, no such selectivity  has thus far been observed in laboratory experiments.

Theoretical work first conducted in the 1950s by the chemist F.C. Frank showed another way forward; Asymmetric Autocatalysis.

A chemical reaction in which one or more products serve as a catalyst is called autocatalysis. In this process, the enantiometric products selectively exert  their catalytic activity driving the production of one or more compounds of the same molecular handedness. In exact racemic mixtures, asymmetric autocatalysis would lead to no chiral excess. In reality however, chemical reactions are never an exact 50:50 mixture. Statistical fluctuations cause nearly imperceptible imbalances of enantiomers. This slight excess, created by statistical fluctuations- can be amplified. One demonstration of this mechanism is called the Soai Process, after the Japanese chemist, Kenso Soai, how first  elucidated it in the 1990s.

Reference:Blackmond, D.G,  Asymmetric Autocatalysis and its Implications for the Origins of Homochirality, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS),101, (April 2004) 5732-36.

The Soai process involves the alkylation of pyrimidyl aldehydes by dialylzincs. The product of this reaction is a pyrimidyl alcohol that can exist in left- or right-handed enantiomers. Soai discovered that the alcohol products catalyses this transformation. As the pyrimidyl alcohol products are produced, statistical fluctuations cause these compounds to display a slight excess of one of the enantiomers over the other. This minor imbalance sets up asymmetric autocatalysis i.e. the more abundant enantiomer selectively catalyses the production of its corresponding chiral counterpart Over time, chiral excesses on the order of nearly 99 per cent can be achieved.

Soai’s discovery may sound like a plausible breakthrough to creating homochirality but significant problems remain. For one thing, the Soai reaction has no relevance in biological systems as none of the reactants and products have been documented in bona fide biological systems.In addition to this, this reaction is the only real-life example of asymmetric autocatalysis discovered to date.

Further theoretical studies of asymmetric autocatalysis reveal that the chiral excess produced by this reaction is short-lived; because it rapidly decays from near 99 per cent chiral enrichment back to the racemic condition (50 per cent) caused by the activity of the other enantiomer, which also acts as an autocatalyst, competing with its mirror image. Curiously, this does not occur in the Soai reaction because the enantiomer that achieves an excess not only acts catalytically but also acts as its own anticatalyst. The oddity of the Soai process is more a reflection of the scientist’s genius in recognising the underlying mechanism  and pursuing it experimentally and not a general chemical principle.

Other chemists and astrobiologists have looked for other autocatalytic mechanisms that are relevant to studies of prebiotic chemistry. In particular, chemist Sandra Pizzarello and Arthur Weber have shown that the amino acids alanine and isovaline (which show slight chiral enrichment in the Murchison meteorite) can catalyse the formose reaction leading to ribose.

Specifically, when amino acids that catalyse the formose reaction harbour a chiral  exess, the sugar products generated also display a chiral excess. In other words, the amino acids are able to transfer this chiral excess  to the sugar products. Researchers observed that when the amino acid catalysts were enantiomerically pure, the sugar products displayed a chiral enrichment of up to 10 per cent. Yet, as the enantiomeric purity of the amino acid declined, the chiral excess of the sugar products also decreased. Of particular note is that when the enantiomeric imbalance of the amino acid catalyst reached 10 per cent, the chiral excess in the sugar products became imperceptible.

Further research by the same scientists showed chiral enrichment when homochiral dipeptides were used as catalysts.

Reference: Pizzarello, S., Weber, A.L., Prebiotic Amino Acids as Asymmetric Catalysts, Science 303 ( February 20, 2004), 1151.

A dipeptide consists of two amino acids that have undergone a condensation reaction, linked by a peptide bond. Curiously, the dipeptide catalysts yielded an 80 per cent chiral enrichment, raising hopes that this could have been the breakthrough origin of life researchers were looking for. But, yet again, there are problems with this scheme of events. As shown in Part I, it is not at all clear where such homochiral dipeptides might have originated from. Carbonaceous chondrites have been suggested as a possible source. In addition, relatively high concentrations of these dipeptide catalysts were required in laboratory experiments to generate this chiral enrichment, so much so that stretches credulity that the concentrations required were ever attained on the primordial Earth. But there are more sonorous reasons why either asymmetric or symmetric autocatalysis could ever have been a viable option; which derives from the properties of chiral molecules themselves.

Firstly, the dipeptide catalyts require extremely exacting pH and temperature regulation if they are to act out their roles. In other words, this phenomenon only works within very narrow temperature and pH regimes, something very unlikely to occur on the primordial Earth. A chemical process that does not have geological relevance creates a further problem for chemical evolutionary models for the origin of homochirality. Worst still, the examples explored above which generate homochiral excess are transitory at best. The reasons are due to the fact that enantiomers establish a dynamic equilibrium with each other that cause them to flip flop between enantiomeric states; a process called racemisation. This process causes enantiomerically pure compounds to transform over time back to their racemic form through structural inversion. Laboratory studies estimate that a set of homochiral amino acids would become completely racemic in one thousand years at 50 C and in one million years at O C under dry conditions, but much faster under aqueous conditions.

References:

Bada, J., Origins of Homochirality, Nature 374, (April 13, 1995), 594

Irion, R., Did Twisty Starlight Set Stage for Life, Science, 281 (July 31, 1998), 627.

The consequences of racemisation are troubling for chemical evolutionary scenarios, because even if homochiral excess could be achieved, it could not be realistically maintained  on the primitive Earth. The important point to remember here is that all such studies ignore, or fail to account for, the transitory nature of achieving chiral excess. This means that because the researchers have to stop and start their experiments as soon as they achieve some enrichment, they unconsciously cultivate a false sense of success.This is intelligent design through and through!

                                              A Closer Look at Hydrothermal Vents

Dr Szostak has emphasised prebiotic molecule synthesis at hydrothemal vents. The origin of these ideas come from a team of Japanese researchers who had searched for ways that homochirality could be produced at such sites. In their simulation studies, designed to mimic hydrothermal vents, these investigators noticed that both left-handed and right-handed versions of the amino acid alanine undergo racemisation from a pure state at 230 C in a matter of 30 to 40 minutes. To their surprise however, the left handed enantiomer is racemised to a slightly lesser extent than the right-handed counterpart. This effect was concentration dependent however, occurring when there was only unrealistically high concentrations of alanine present.

Reference:

Atsushi Nemoto et al, Enantiomeric Excess of Amino Acids in Hydrothermal Vents, Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 35 (April 2005), 167-74.

                                                       PNAs and that…...

These studies prompted the late Stanley Miller to formerly acknowledge the intractability of the problem of homochirality’s origin. As a consequence, he proposed that the first replicating molecules were achiral peptide nucleic acids (PNA).

Reference:

Nelson, K.E., et al, Peptide Nucleic Acids Rather Than RNA May Have Been the First Genetic Material,  PNAS, 97 (April 11, 2000): 3368-71.

Miller was drawn to these models because he knew no meaningful progress could be made using sugar- or dipeptide-based catalysts, as discussed above. PNA chemistry is simpler, because neither does it contain sugar or phosphates and because they can form base pairs as well as helical structures. The nucleobases of PNA are joined together through a molecule of acetic acid and a chiral amino acid of non biological origin; 2-aminoethyl glycine (AEG). For a PNA origin-of-life scenario to be viable, a plentiful source of acetic acid, nucleobases and AEG had to identified. To date, only acetic acid synthesis has been achieved and AEG has not been detected either terrestrially or extraterrestrially.

Miller’s PNA molecules  have other problems however; they are stable; too stable.They bond very strongly to any daughter molecules they may have replicated but could only do so very slowly, too slowly to be relevant to realistic origin-of-life scenarios.

                                                             Mineral Surfaces

Another possibility for the origin of homochirality is via mineral surfaces, discussed by Dr. Szostak in his video. Some mineral surfaces can indeed generate chiral excess, which has given rise to some optimism in the prebiotic chemistry community.

Reference:

Hazen, R., et al, Selective Absorption of L-and D-Amino Acids On Calcite: Implications For Biochemical Homochirality, PNAS 98 (May 1, 2001) 5487-90.

This proposal involves clays and mineral surfaces with highly specific chemical and spatial orientations – like quartz and calcite – that can selectively absorb either left- or right-handed enantiomeric substrates. Curiously, it was discovered that when these surfaces were exposed to dilute solutions of amino acids, they will differentially become absorbed onto these surfaces creating a chiral excess.

Reference: Ibid

But let’s take a closer look at this process. For one thing the mineral surfaces must be ultra clean. The actual laboratory protocol for creating these surfaces involves successive washings in this order; deionised water, ultra-pure methanol, methylene chloride, more ultra-pure methanol and finally another soaking in deionised water. No contamination can be tolerated to even get the process started.

This in and of itself raises serious doubts as to the validity of using clay surfaces as loci for the naturalistic generation of chiral excess, as no real life site could be expected to offer such ultra clean surfaces. What is more, such crystal structures actually occur in two forms – opposite in their chiral specificity. This would produce only very small and geographically dispersed opportunities for any absorption to take place, preventing the build up of high enough concentrations of prebiotically relevant reservoirs of such molecules.

References:

Hazen, R., et al, Selective Absorption of L-and D-Amino Acids On Calcite: Implications For Biochemical Homochirality, PNAS 98 (May 1, 2001) 5487-90.

Thomas, J.A & Rana. F, The Influence of Environmental Conditions , Lipid Composition, and Phase Behavior on the Origin of Cell Membranes, Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, 37( June 2007): 267-85

                                    Crystallisaton-induced Homochirality Studies

One more mechanism of achieving chiral excess has been recently explored; crystallisation. The great French chemist and microbiologist, Louis Pasteur was one of the earliest investigators of homochirality, when he was able to distinguish between L tartaric acid and D tartaric acid using a microscope. This chiral preference occurs with other substances too and leads to the formation of enantiomerically pure crystalline forms. This curious phenomenon has encouraged researchers to investigate whether this differential ‘sifting’ of prebiotic molecules on the primitive Earth could have led to homochirality.

When evaporated to dryness in the presence of a porous material, the amino acids, aspartate and glutamate will form crystals that are enantiomerically pure. But this is the exception rather than the rule because, under, normal circumstances the crystals usually form racemic arrays. However, in the presence of some porous materials, they can form supersaturated solutions during evaporation, and, as a result, produce chirally pure crystals.

Researchers led by Ronald Breslow (whose names also makes an appearance in Szostak’s presentation) of Columbia University suggested that it was in fact the material that was left behind in the solution during the crystallisation  event that was the source of the homochirality and went on to show this was indeed the case for the amino acid phenylalanine. While the crystal contained a racemic mixture of the amino acid, the aqueous phase became enriched with the enantiomer that initially showed a slight statistical excess. Furthermore, Breslow and colleagues showed that a chiral excess of about 1 per cent can be amplified to about 90 per cent after just two successive rounds of crystallisation. They envision a scenario on the early Earth, where carbonaceous chondrites might have seeded the oceans with amino acids. Tides would then wash these amino acids onto ancient beaches and, after evaporation, crystals would form and a slight chiral excess of the other enantiomer. This, they claim, would have slowly caused the build up of one enantiomer over the other, leading the way to homochirality.

Reference:Science Daily, Meteorites Delivered the Seeds of Earth’s Left-Hand Life, Experts Argue, (April 7 2008).

But this reasoning is flawed. Dr. Fazale Rana, in his recent book on the matter, Creating Life in the Lab, presented the reason why; amino acids tend to stay single in aqueous solutions and not form higher order structures like peptides. This is thermodynamically the most stable state for them in this environment. The Columbia University researchers have tried to counter this argument by suggesting that condensation reactions would begin during the drying out phase in this scheme of events.. But as Dr. Rana has pointed out, these amino acids would be a racemic mixture with little or no chiral excess. Thus, the mechanism proposed as the origin of homochirality would in fact inhibit the process! In addition to this, any dipeptide exposed to the fierce UV flux from the Sun (remember there was no ozone layer) would quickly degrade them. One need only look at how biotechnology companies recommend they be stored to verify this (personal communication). See here and here for examples.

Reference:

Rana, F., Creating Life in the Lab, (2011) Baker Books.

Summary:This section discussed at length the concept of homochirality, the handedness of life’s sugars and amino acids. Szostak’s RNA chains were all produced with pre-primed nucleotides, replete with ready made D-ribose. The work illustrated shows that producing D ribose under credible prebiotic conditions (and indeed the L amino acids) has not been satisfactorily achieved and that any process that attains significant chiral excess is actually the result of careful  adjustment of the experimental conditions and artificial selection of specified outcomes; again the manifestation of intelligent design. As we have seen, the inherent tendency for an enantiomeric excess to rapidly return to its thermodynamically most stable state, that is, racemic, would severely curtail or completely halt any realistic abiogenic scheme. The probability of achieving true homochirality via naturalistic mechanisms is very highly unlikely, if indeed well nigh impossible.

I leave you with a quote from Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel’s book: Life Itself

An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.

Video Clock Time: 30-54 minutes

On Vesicles:

One of the basic properties of living cells is their ability to maintain a chemical environment distinct from the space surrounding it. Life exists in the world and despite of the world, but is not of the world. This is achieved by creating a membrane which separates internal chemistry from external chemistry. Researchers have known for many years that under laboratory conditions certain kinds of molecules – what Dr. Szostak calls amphiphiles – made from fatty acids and phospholipids, which can form spherical structures called vesicles. An amphiphile is a molecule which has has both hydrophobic and hydrophilic natures. We are all familiar with the old adage; oil and water don’t mix. That’s because oil does not have chemical groups that can stably interact with water, blending with it, to create a solution. They are said to be hydrophobic because their chemistry does not permit them to dissolve in water. Molecules that have the right chemical groups to stably interact with water are said to be hydrophilic. Sugars are good examples of hydrophilic molecules. An amphiphile, as its name implies, has both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties, allowing them to form unstable suspensions in water, usually in the form of single-layered micelles. Phospholipids – the components of real cells – and fatty acids (discussed by Szostak) possess such amphiphilic properties. When shaken up in an aqueous environment, they arrange themselves in such a way that their hydrophobic ends huddle together, like oil, and their hydrophilic end points outwards to form stronger interactions with water. The most stable (read lowest energy) arrangements are spherical structures – the vesicles that Szostak describes in his video.

Superficially, these vesicles look like cells and have served as a starting point to create the protocells he describes. As Dr Szostak explains, these membrane-bound vesicles can segregate materials located inside them from their surrounding environment.

As well as providing a physical barrier from the outside world, membranes harbour proteins that act as channels and transporters of molecules both into and out of the cell . They also act as sensors of the environment, as well as energy transducers. Synthetic biologists such as Dr. Szostak have to figure out not only how to form vesicles but also enable them with a means of transporting substances across their boundaries. One way forward is to try to manipulate the chemical structure of these amphiphiles in such a way that they can incorporate proteins both inside and on the membrane in order to serve as pores, environmental sensors and energy transducers.

As most any high school student of biology will tell you, reproduction is one of the basic characteristics of all living cells and this ability fundamentally resides in its DNA, which is replicated and then partitioned into two daughter nuclei before the cell fissures. Scientists must thus find ways to encapsulate DNA (or in this case RNA) molecules within the vesicle. When supplied with the right mix of chemicals, the encapsulated genetic material can then be used to synthesise proteins, which in turn could at least set the stage for the replication of the ‘protocell.’ The trick is to find a way to get the vesicle to divide in two, and in such a way that ensures that each new daughter vesicle has a copy of the genetic material.

So the process can best be seen as a series of steps which include;
1. The membrane has to be assembled.
2. Development of an energy transducing capability by the boundary membrane.
3. Genetic material must be encapsulated into the vesicle.
4. Pore proteins must be added that can funnel material into and out of the vesicle.
5. Generation of membrane bound systems that allow complex molecules to grow.
6. Generation of catalysts to speed up any given chemical process within the vesicle e.g DNA/ RNA replication.
7. Introduction of information-rich molecules that can direct the synthesis of other molecules of benefit to the developing chemical environment within the vesicle
8. Development of mechanisms that cause the boundary membrane to subdivide into smaller systems that can demonstrate ‘growth’.
9. Development of a means to pass information containing molecules into the daughter vesicles.

As you imagine, this is an incredibly complex process, effortlessly achieved by even the simplest living cells, but the list serves to illustrate one approach to the creation of artificial life; the so-called ‘ground up’ approach. This is the approach adopted by Szostak and his team.

Starting in the 1990s, he and his colleagues have exerted great effort into getting vesicles to grow and divide, getting genetic material to replicate and evolve within these vesicles and the creation of artificial proteins by either synthesising them under laboratory conditions or utilising pre-existing proteins that have been genetically engineered. Szostak coordinates several teams of scientists who bring as many of these steps together to create states that indeed show some of the characteristics that we would recognise as ‘alive’.

Like all scientists, Szostak builds his work on the shoulder of others who have pioneered methods to produce vesicles from purified phospholipids, trap molecules of interest within them and then incorporate purified proteins into the vesicle walls. Synthetic biologists like Szostak strive to capitalise on the vesicle forming properties of amphiphiles in order to construct protocells. The first such experiments began with the pioneering work of membrane biophysicist Pier Luigi Luisi, who encapsulated ribosomes (the molecular machines which carry out protein synthesis and other chemical components within phospholipid vesicles and, in so doing, managed to create an artificial protein – polyphenylalanine – within the vesicle.

Reference:

Oberholzer, T., Nierhuas, K.H. & Luisi, P.L., Protein Expression in Liposomes, BBRC, 261, (August 1999) 238-41

This work was followed up by other researchers who investigated ways of designing protocells consisting of vesicles made from simpler amphiphiles such as fatty acids, because they were considered more versatile than phospholipids (which are actually found in real cell membranes). Luisi and his collaborator Dr. David Deamer (cited on Szostak’s slides). By the early 2000s, Deamer‘s group showed that fatty acids can indeed assemble into bilayers ( just like real cell membranes) but under highly specific conditions, of concentration, pH, temperature and salt concentration. Furthermore, all of these conditions vary considerably between fatty acid species.

Reference:

Hanczyc, M.M., Fujikawa, S.M.,Szostak, J., Experimental Models of Primitive Cellular Compartments, Science 302 (October 2003): 618-22.

Luisi’s team showed that certain kinds of these vesicles can ‘grow’ if supplied with more fatty acids. This causes the vesicles to enlarge, become unstable, before dividing into two daughter vesicles. The same researchers have used fatty acid vesicles to encapsulate interesting enzymes such as polynucleotide phosphorylase, which uses adenosine diphosphate (ADP) as a substrate to build the DNA analog called polyadenylic acid.

Reference:

Thomas, J.A & Rana. F, The Influence of Environmental Conditions , Lipid Composition, and Phase Behavior on the Origin of Cell Membranes, Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, 37( June 2007): 267-85

This was widely cited in the origin-of-life community as a sort of ‘proof of concept’ that genetic material could indeed replicate inside vesicles and hence a demonstration of the first step towards the generation of self-replicating protocells.

Szostak’s group built on all these successes to attempt to create more life-like protocells. Specifically, they allowed fatty acids to interact with mineral surfaces (discussed above) and showed that this improves the efficiency of vesicle formation.

Reference:

Ibid

But vesicles constructed from fatty acid substrates have marginal long-term stability. What is more, real cell membranes are not symmetrically arranged but are assymetric, providing much greater compexity than anything utlised by Szostak’s team. See here for a commentray on membrane biochemistry. Yet again, without the maintenance of exacting conditions of pH, temperature, salinity, etc, these vesicles would fall apart. Indeed, no method has been demonstrated that can maintain stable, long-lasting vesicles. Such stability is a necessary pre-condition to the creation of artificial life.

Szostak’s team has explored ways to get vesicles to grow and divide like real cells. By the addition of fresh fatty acids to the medium and studying their behaviour, his team has developed a deeper understanding of how this process works.
Reference:

Chen, I.A., Szostak, J., A Kinetic Study of the Growth of Fatty Acid Vesicles, Biophysical Journal 87, (August 1 2004) 988-98.

While Luisi’s team produced vesicle fissuring, they do so unstably. Szostak’s team have addressed this issue by developing ways to sustain vesicle division after a period of growth. This is achieved by pushing the expanded vesicles through pores (extrusion). In so doing, Dr. Szostak has shown that the process can be repeated indefinitely to create multiple ‘generations’ of protocells.

Reference: Hanczyc, M.M.& Szostak, J., Replicating Vesicles as Models of Primitive cell Growth and Division, Current Opinion in Chemical Biology 8 (December 2004) 600-64

When Szostak et al encapsulated RNA molecules inside such vesicles, they actually promote growth because they produce osmotic pressure on the vesicle walls, increasing membrane stress, which in turn allows fresh fatty acids to become incorporated into the bilayer membrane. He further showed that the RNA molecules are retained inside the vesicle after filter extrusion. Researchers have also encapsulated clay minerals inside vesicles, along with RNA, and demonstrated that the clay is also retained by the vesicles during the growth and division process.

Reference:

Ibid

The next phase in this ‘bottom up’ approach is to provide an energy source for more sophisticated protocell activities. Cells use pH gradients as a way to harvest energy. Indeed this is the fundamental way in which all real cells synthesise the universal energy currency of life: adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

To this end, some researchers have incorporated special molecules which can absorb light into phospholipid membranes to create such pH gradients. Then by adding the pre-existing enzyme complex F0F1 ATP synthase (a remarkable molecular machine in its own right!), they were able to use these pH gradients to synthesise ATP.

Reference:Steinberg,-Yfrach, G. et al, Light-Driven Production of ATP  Catalysed by F0F1 ATP Synthase in Artificial Photosynthetic Membrane, Nature 392 ( April 2, 1998) 479-82.

Szostak’s team has simplified this process. Specifically, they found that the growth of vesicles made from fatty acids naturally generates pH gradients. So, the growth and division of vesicles can provide an energy source.

Reference:Chen, I.A, Szostak, J, Membrane Growth can Generate a Trans-membrane pH Gradient in Fatty Acid Vesicles, PNAS 101( May 25, 2004) 7965-70.

The fatty acid vesicles created by Szostak’s team delivered another advantage over their phospholipid based counterparts; they were more permeable, allowing easier transport of molecules both into and out of the vesicle. Activated (pre-made) nucleotides, which serve as the building blocks for DNA and RNA, were able to move into the vesicles more easily. This led the team to develop systems that could incorporate these activated nucleotides and, using a pre-encapsulated strand of DNA, demonstrated replication capabilities. In addition, his laboratories began experimenting with different types of amphiphiles (including unsaturated fatty acids, alcohols and monoglycerides), mixing them up to try to optimise their stability between the freezing and boiling point of water.

Reference: Mansy, S. & Szostak, J. Thermostability of Model Protocell Membranes,  PNAS 105 (September 9, 2008) 13351-55.

These are important advances, because they have steadily improved the robustness of their protocells and allow scientists to chemically replicate genetic material within the interior of the vesicle.Szostak’s group at Harvard hope to learn how to coordinate the replication of the genetic material encapsulated within these vesicles with the process of vesicle fission. By engineering more and more properties into these vesicles, Szostak and his collaborators hope to create systems tailor made to carry out specific functions.Their ultimate goal is to create synthetic cells that can carry out novel biochemical processes in order to make new biomedical advances and novel pharmaceuticals that will greatly enrich biotechnology. Some foresee that, at the current rate of advancement, these will be a reality as early as a decade from now.

Summary

What Professor Szostak and his colleagues have achieved is truly remarkable! By divesting many millions of dollars from public and private donors, recruiting a very large team of the finest biochemists and molecular biologists, and  utilising the most advanced equipment ever assembled, real progress can be made and his success is bound to continue over the coming years. But, as I have indicated previously, this progress has not come about through Darwinian means, far from it! What Szostak’s work has demonstrated is that by deliberate effort and the harnessing of extraordinary human ingenuity, the era of synthetic biology is well and truly upon us. Their work empirically shows that even the simplest life-form ( which are orders of magnitude more complex than the ‘protocells’ discussed) cannot arise without the involvement of an intelligent agent.

Fatty acids do not  form bilayered membranes when added to ordinary water. On the contrary, their work shows that it is possible to coax stable vesicles to form only by making conscious choices about the kinds of fatty acids (in Szostak’s case the monounsaturated variety) and other amphiphiles that constitute them. If the wrong choice is made, the vesicles cannot even form. What is more, vesicle formation and stability depend critically on fine-tuning the optimal concentration of the amphiphiles in an aqueous environment carefully controlled for pH (buffers), salinity and temperature. Those clays and minerals must be scrupulously clean. The melting point of the fatty acids employed in the vesicles must also be considered. In a real life laboratory environment, the vesicles must, in some cases, be repeatedly frozen and thawed and, as highlighted above, their physical extrusion through pores must be carried out. Even then, vesicles of only the desired size are selected to optimise the process. Creating the vesicles from scratch requires advanced knowledge of the chemical properties of the amphiphiles making them up. After all, the mantra of the biochemist is ‘structure dictates function.’ Furthermore, Szostak’s progress depends upon the prior work of thousands of intelligent minds across the human world, and from many generations.

Sic transit gloria mundi!

This analysis shows that it is unreasonable to expect life to have arisen without an intelligent agency.

I believe this agency to be a personal being, infinitely good, infinitely powerful and infinitely well funded; the God uniquely revealed in the Bible.

                                                           Imago Dei

I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty

Maker of Heaven and Earth.

Of all that is seen and unseen.

Through Him all things were made.

For us men and for our salvation, He came down from Heaven.

By the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate with the virgin Mary and was made man.

For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

He suffered death and was buried.

On the third day, He rose again, in accordance with the Scriptures, and is seated at the right-hand of power.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

And His Kingdom shall have no end.

Neil English holds a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Dundee and has carried out post doctoral work in the field of Cytochrome P450 mediated fatty acid hydroxylation and associated gene expression.

De Fideli

 

 

The Generosity of the Sun

Totality.

Totality.

 An essay dedicated to the Faithless Generation.

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. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools..

                                                                                                          Romans 1:20-23

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous

                                                                      Albert Einstein (from The World As I See It)

When the Moon formed, it was much closer to the Earth, and has been steadily retreating as the energy of its orbital motion has gone into stirring up tides….. Just now the Moon is about 400 times smaller than the Sun, but the Sun is 400 times farther away than the Moon, so that they look the same size on the sky. At the present moment of cosmic time, during an eclipse, the disc of the Moon almost exactly covers the disc of the Sun. In the past the Moon would have looked much bigger and would have completely obscured the Sun during eclipses; in the future, the Moon will look much smaller from Earth and a ring of sunlight will be visible even during an eclipse. Nobody has been able to think of a reason why intelligent beings capable of noticing this oddity should have evolved on Earth just at the time that the coincidence was there to be noticed. It worries me, but most people seem to accept it as just one of those things.

                                                                   John Gribbin (from Alone in the Universe)

The noted science writer and astrophysicist, Dr. John Gribbin, raises an interesting point at the end of the excerpt from his 2011 book, Alone in the Universe, quoted above. He describes the coincidence of a total solar eclipse and the emergence of a global human technical civilization as something that ‘worries’ him. I can well understand that position given the inadequacy of the blind forces of Darwinian evolution to explain why these events are coincident in cosmic time. But that’s only an issue if one assumes biological evolution to be watertight. A more rational, and dare I say, compelling answer to Gribbin’s conundrum is that these events are not mere coincidences but were pre-ordained to occur in a unique window of cosmic history to reveal the attributes of an all powerful Creator; a personal God who, like a great king, wishes to demonstrate His omnipotence to an unbelieving population.

Such a world view, which is currently counter to the prevailing secular corpus of scientific thought, would be strengthened if other attributes of the Sun were found to be odd, peculiar or even unique. Intriguingly, great advances in our knowledge of the Sun over the past 30 years has yielded a solid body of evidence pointing to the possible uniqueness of our Sun, the yellow star that has presided over the extraordinary allegory of events that culminated with a global human technical civilization in the present epoch.

                                                Peculiar formation history

Diligent research over the past century has revealed that stars are not born in isolation but are hatched in their thousands inside enormous clumps of gas and dust. Our Sun was formed from the fragmentation of one such cloud under the auspices of magnetic and gravitational forces that led to the contraction of one cloud fragment, culminating with the ignition of the nuclear fires at the centre of the proto-Sun and the formation of a disc of gas and dust in the plane of the solar equator that would form the elegant planetary system we live in today. Yet the Sun was formed with an unusual assortment of heavy elements that originated in not one but two distinct kinds of supernova events that must have occurred in close proximity to our neonatal solar system to enrich it with those elements. What is more, our solar system was formed during the epoch  when the interstellar medium was maximally enriched with the long-lived radionuclides thorium-232 ( half life 14.1Gyr), uranium-235 (half life 0.704 Gyr) and uranium-238 (half life 4.468 Gyr); elements that provided Earth with the thermal energy to maintain plate tectonics on our planet over geologic time. Without large quantities of these elements, the Earth would have been just another lifeless planet.

But forming the right kind of star and the right kind of planets was still not enough though. Had the Sun and its retinue of planetary bodies remained entangled in the star cluster of its birth for very long, gravitational interactions with nearby stars would have wreaked havoc with our orderly solar system. Moreover, had the Sun formed as part of a binary or multiple star system – as have as many as 70 per cent of sun-like stars in the Galaxy – it would have been game over for a life bearing planet like the Earth, as it would not have able to maintain a stable circular orbit about the Sun over the entire duration of its history. For the Sun and its family of planets to proceed to the next stage of development, it had to be ejected from the cluster of its birth to live in safe isolation from the rest of its stellar siblings.

                                              Peculiar physical properties

In the early 19th century, the German optician, Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787-1826), founded the science of stellar spectroscopy. By attaching a diffraction grating to his achromatic refractor (both of his own design) he was able to demonstrate that stars like Sirius differed significantly from the Sun.

Joseph von Fraunhofer demsonstrating the spectroscope.

Joseph von Fraunhofer demsonstrating the spectroscope.

Today, we follow in the great optician’s footsteps, employing diffraction gratings to obtain high resolution spectra of a multitude of stars, allowing astronomers to perform a so-called differential element analysis on a large stellar population.These and other techniques have revealed a curious truth about our star, the Sun. While it is easy to find twins of almost any other star, an exact solar twin has yet to be found. And though quite a few stars can be matched to the Sun with respect to its basic parameters like mass, age and luminosity (G2V spectral class), the Sun stands out like a sore thumb with respect to these solar analogues, showing a 20 per cent depletion in certain refractory (non-volatile) elements such as calcium, aluminium, magnesium and silicon; the elements that wound up inside the rocky terrestrial planets of our solar system.

 The Sun, though widely reported to be an ‘ordinary star’ is actually more massive than 95 per cent of all other stars in the Galaxy. The vast majority of stars, the teeming multitudes of red and brown dwarves, are too cool to hold planets at a safe distance from their fiery surfaces in order that liquid water could be profitably maintained on their surfaces over the aeons. Such stars would need to spawn planets very close in – typically an order of magnitude closer than Mercury is to our Sun – causing them to become tidally locked. This means that they would keep the same face to their parent stars in much the same way our Moon does while orbiting the Earth. This scenario would render life incredibly difficult on such planets. After all, the permanently illuminated hemisphere would be incinerated while the other would be in a perpetual frigid darkness. Lower mass stars, by their nature, emit less ultraviolet (UV) radiation too – a plus you might think – until you learn of how important UV radiation is for generating and sustaining the ozone layer. And no ozone layer would make life very difficult indeed on the landmasses of any putative world orbiting these low mass stars.

But there are yet other perils that attend stars with lower masses than the Sun. In the summer months, I use my 3 inch classical refractor to project an image of the Sun on a piece of white cardboard or by using a full-aperture solar filter. More often than not, I can make out small sunspots – regions of intense magnetic activity that correspond to cooler regions of the solar photosphere – that make an otherwise bland solar disc all the more interesting to observe. Sunspots though, are also strongly correlated with flare activity and it is not an inconsiderable fact that stars even a little lower in mass than the Sun have significantly higher activity in this regard. Ongoing solar research suggests that during sunspot maximum (which follows a roughly 11 year cycle) our Sun already has the ability to inflict potentially serious damage to living cells, as well as hampering human telecommunication  systems, so that any significantly greater activity would prove disastrous for life on Earth in general and human civilization in particular.

Sol, as it appeared at appeared on the sunny afternoon of May 7, 2013.

Sol, as it appeared through the author’s 3-inch Fraunhofer refractor  on the sunny afternoon of May 7, 2013.

The tiny fraction of stars in the Galaxy larger than the Sun have very short lifetimes (scaling with mass as M^-2), insufficiently long to allow even microbial life (if it exists at all) to start the process of heavy metal concentration – which include the so-called ‘vital poisons,’ as well as the heavy metal deposits needed to sustain a high-technology society – in their planet’s crust.

                                                           Peculiar stability

How does flare activity correlate with stellar age? It turns out that solar flaring has continued to decline over time, reaching a minimum in the present epoch, roughly half way through the life of our star and dovetailing nicely with the emergence of humanity in the solar system. What’s more, sensitive measurements reveal that our star varies less in luminosity (typically by less than 0.1 per cent) than any known star.

                                                       Peculiar kinematics

In 2008, a team of astronomers led by Charles Lineweaver based at the Australian National University, conducted a study on a large body of stars taken from the Hipparcos archive and discovered that the Sun has a more circular orbit than 93 per cent of other stars in the distribution. Safely tucked away between spiral arms near the co-rotation axis of our Galaxy (a peculiarly stable place to be!), some 27,000 light years from its centre, we live on a planet spared the deadly effects of short wave radiation that have surely sterilised the down town regions of the Milky Way. Out here, in Galactic suburbia, we move around the centre of the Galaxy once every 0.25Gyr, enjoying transparent, dark skies that allow us to look all the way back in time to the earliest epochs in cosmic history, so enabling humans to elucidate the physical events that shaped the unfolding cosmos in which we find ourselves in.

Stars not only move within the plane of the Milky Way’s thin disc but oscillate up and down as they orbit the Galactic centre. Many years of kinematic studies conducted by astronomers show that its amplitude of oscillation is smaller than many stars in the solar neighbourhood which makes the solar system less susceptible to gravitational perturbations that could potentially destabilise established planetary orbits. Indeed, according to the stellar astronomer, Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, the Sun’s kinematic attributes are more reminiscent of a young star than one that is 4.57 billion years old!

                                                            Not forever!

As I have attempted to outline thus far, it seems patently clear that the Sun is a very unusual star enjoying a rather unusually stable phase in its life. Over billions of years since its birth, the Sun has grown steadily brighter and life on Earth, particularly the green plants, have worked to compensate for the Sun’s increasing luminosity by removing more of the greenhouse gases (particularly carbon dioxide and water vapour) from the Earth’s atmosphere. But the unchanging laws of physics that govern the Sun’s evolution are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. This means that the Sun is going to continue to brighten and heat the Earth’s surface. But the levels (currently 392ppm) of carbon dioxide needed to conduct photosynthesis are already close to the minimum necessary (~150ppm) to sustain vigorous plant growth. Clearly, the current situation cannot be maintained indefinitely. Likewise, as it continues to evolve (and stars really do evolve because there is a robust physical theory underpinning that process), flare activity will increase to a point where large animal life cannot be sustained. Clearly therefore, we are living in the best of times.

                                               Just one of those things….

Sol Invictus!

Sol Invictus!

 

 

I suppose one could always shrug one’s shoulders and say something like, “that’s a strange coincidence,” or “it’s mere chance.” But, these answers are not very satisfying to a curious intellect; an intellect hard wired to spot patterns. Cast your mind back once more to the exquisite geometry of a total solar eclipse. A few million years ago, the Moon’s apparent diameter was larger than the Sun’s and the non-human primates – Homo Erectus or some such – that inhabited the Earth at that time, lacked the sophistication – both mentally and spiritually – to appreciate the event. In a few million years hence, the Moon will be smaller than the Sun’s face and the Earth will be unfit for human habitation. Only at a time sandwiched neatly between these epochs did creatures with the necessary cognitive capacities emerge on the scene to understand the significance of this alignment, allowing them to deduce both the geometry and scale of the solar system. Even the mind-boggling logic of Einstein’s theory of general relativity was confirmed during a solar eclipse.

Do you really think these solar peculiarities are just coincidences? How many coincidences and peculiarities does one need to convince one of a greater, underlying truth about the Sun and our relationship with it? And where does Darwinian evolution – the ‘blind watchmaker’ – fit into all of this?

Thank goodness for small mercies!

If you’d like to hear more amazing coincidences about the Universe we inhabit, you might be interested in my new book, Grab ‘n’ Go Astronomy, due out this Summer.

 

De fideli

This essay was inspired by the continuing work of Dr. Hugh Ross, Founder & President of Reasons to Believe and colleagues; truly a candle shining in an ever growing sea of darkness.

Some References for Further Study.

Barrow J.D. & Tippler, F.J. (1988), The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Cambridge University Press.

Ross, H. (2008), Why the Universe is the Way it is, Baker Books.

Ward, P.D, & Brownlee, D, (2000) Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe, Copernicus.

Gribbin, J, (2011), Alone in the Universe, Wiley.

Philips, A.C. (2001), The Physics of Stars, Wiley.

Want to explore More? Follow me on Facetube & Twatter.

 

Pause for Thought: Mars, Barnard and his Byrne.

Young Edward

Edward Emerson Barnard (1857-1923) needs no introduction in the world of amateur astronomy. Emerging from abject poverty, his natural curiosity, regal humility and diligence for his work, set him on a path that would lead to his becoming arguably the greatest visual observer of all time. In this short presentation, the author recounts Barnard’s earliest forays into telescopic astronomy, and in particular, the acquisition of his ‘pet’; a 5-inch achromatic refractor by the relatively obscure New York optician, John Byrne. His devotion to that instrument established his reputation as a gifted telescopist.

While Mars mania was quickly turning the world’s pre-eminent planetologists into imbeciles, this young man, endowed with wisdom far beyond his years, eschewed the unbridled imaginations of his contemporaries, and quietly watched the Red Planet with his ‘large telescope’.

De Fideli.