In this blog, I’ll be exploring subjects of general interest/concern to me and wider society:
In this blog, I’ll be exploring subjects of general interest/concern to me and wider society:
It is undoubtedly true that by far the most prevalent reason why so many amateurs have dissed Newtonian reflectors in the past boils down to poorly collimated ‘scopes which lead to less than inspiring images. The amateur who pays close attention to accurate collimation will however discover the solid virtues of these marvellous telescopes and will soon forget the bad experiences of the past.
I’ve noticed a trend over the last few decades, where more and more amateurs have become lazy and impatient. They want instant gratification. This is one of the main reasons why many have turned to hassle-free instruments such as small refractors and Maksutov Cassegrains. It’s an entirely understandable trend, but in other ways it is lamentable. One of the downsides of this trend is that amateurs have become less concerned with learning practical optics, deferring instead to higher tech ways of obtaining optimal results in the field. One such technology is the laser collimator; a very useful device that has made accurate collimation far less of a chore than it was just a few decades ago. But while many have defaulted to using such tools as labour-saving devices, they have, at best, become less familiar, or at worst, all but forgotten the traditional tools used in the alignment of telescope optics; tools such as the collimation cap and the Cheshire eyepiece, and in so doing have less and less understanding of how their telescopes actually work.
The desire for super-accurate collimation has undoutedly been fuelled by the advent of faster optical systems; often supporting sub-f/5 primaries. Once, the traditional Newtonian was almost invariably made with higher f ratios:- F/7 to f/10 and beyond, and requiring very little in the way of maintenance. This is abundantly evidenced by the scant attention astronomy authors of the past gave to such pursuits. In contrast, modern Newtonians are usually f/6 or faster, necessitating much greater attention to accurate optical collimation if excellent results are to be consistently attained during field use.
In my chosen passtime of double star observing, I have acknowledged the need for accurate collimation. Such work often requires very high magnifications; up to and in excess of 50x per inch of aperture, to prize apart close double stars, some of which are below 1 arc second in angular separation. At such high powers, sub-standard collimation results in distorted images of stellar Airy disks, and that’s something that I’m not willing to put up with. In this capacity, I have tested a number of collimaton techniques using a few different laser collimating devices but have also spent quite a lot of time comparing such methods to more traditional techniques involviing the tried and trusted collimation cap and Cheshire eyepiece.
To begin with, it is important to stress that the methods covered in this blog can be achieved easily with a little practice, and I will gladly defer to recognised authorities in the art of Newtonian collimation, such as the late Nils Olif Carlin and Gary Seronik, who have done much to dispel the potentially stressful aspects of telescope collimation. Nothing I will reveal here goes beyond or challenges anything they have already said. My goal is to reassure amateurs that one can happily live without lasers, especially if your Netwonians are of the f/5 or f/6 variety.
Many of the entry-level laser collimators often manifest some issues; partcularly if they are not collimated prior to use. Thankfully, the inexpensive SkyWatcher Next Generation that I have used for a few years did come reasonably well collimated, but others have not been so fortunate. One easy way to see if your laser collimator needs collimating is to place it in the focuser of the telescope and rotate it, examining the behaviour of the beam on the primary. If the beam does not stay in place, but traces out a large annulus, you will have issues and will need to properly collimate the laser. This is not particularly difficult to do and many resources are available on line to help you grapple with this problem. See here and here, for examples.
Of course, you can pay extra for better made laser collimators that are precisely collimated at the factory. Units that have received very good feedback from customers include systems manufactured by Hotech, AstroSystems and Howie Glatter. Some of these are quite expensive in relative terms but many amateurs are willing to shell out for them because they deliver consistently good results. My own journey took me in a different direction though. Instead of investing in a top-class laser collimator, I re-discovered the virtues of traditional techniques involving the collimation cap and Cheshire eyepiece.
My personal motivation to return to traditional, low-tech tools was stoked more from a desire to understand Newtonian telescopes more than anything else. Any ole eejit can use a laser collimator but it deprives you of attaining a deep understanding of how Newtonians operate. In addition, I have frequently found myself dismantling whole ‘scopes in order to get at the mirrors to give them a good clean and this meant I had to learn how to put them back together from scratch. The simpe collimation cap has been found to be an indispensable tool in this regard, allowing one to rapidly centre the secondary mirror in the shadow of the primary.
Using just this tool, I’ve been able to set up all my Newtonians rapidly to achieve good results from the get go, at both low amd medium powers more or less routinely.
For the highest power applications more accuracy is required and I have personally found that a quality Cheshire eyepiece to be more than sufficient to accurately align the optics in just a few minutes. Not all Cheshires are created equal though; some are less accurate than others. For my own use, I have settled on a beautifully machined product marketed by First Light Optics here in the UK ( be sure to check out the reviews while you’re at it). For the modest cost of £37, I have acquired a precision tool to take the hassle out of fine adjustment. The unit features a long sight tube with precisely fitted cross hairs that are accurately aligned with the peep hole. It needs no batteries and comes with no instructions but with a little practice, it works brilliantly!
Because all of my Newtonians are of the closed-tube variety, they are robust enough to only require very slight tweaks to the collimation. I would estimate that 80 per cent of the time, it is only the primary mirror that requires adjusting in field use. I have found this overview by AstroBaby to be very useful in regard to using the Cheshire and would recommend it to others.
The Cheshire eyepiece is a joy to use when collimating my 130mm f/5. Because the tube is short, I can access both the primary and secondary Bob’s Knobs screws to whip the whole system into alignment faster than with my laser. With my longer instruments; partcularly my 8″ f/6 and 12″ f/5, collimation using the Cheshire is decidely more challenging as they both have longer tubes. That said, by familiarising one’s self with the directions of motion executed with the three knobs on the primary, one can very quickly achieve precise collimation. One useful tip is to number the knobs individually so that you can dispense with the guesswork of which knob to reach for to get the requisite adjustment. At dusk, with the telescopes sitting pretty in their lazy suzan cradles, and with the Chesire eyepiece in place in the focuser, I swing the instrument back and forth to alternately view the position of the primary in the eyepiece and the knob(s) I need to turn. Doing this, I get perfect results in just a few minutes; a little longer than can be achieved with a laser, admittedly, but not long enough to render the process exhausting or boring. It’s time well spent.
The proof the pudding, of course, is in the eating, and in this capacity, I have found the Cheshire to achieve very accurate results each time, every time. Indeed, it has made my laser collimator blush on more than a few occasions, where high power star tests and images of close double stars reveal that the laser was out a little, requiring a collimation tweak under the stars. Indeed, the Chesire is so accurate that it has become my reference method to assess the efficacy of all the laser collimators I’ve had the pleasure of testing.
While I fully acknowledge the utility of good laser collimators, I get much more of a kick out of seeing, with my own eyes, how all the optical components of the Newtonian fall into place using the Cheshire. Furthermore, the fact that it requires no batteries (and so no issues with the unit failing in the field for lack of power, as has happened to me on more than a few occasions), deeply appeals to my longing for low-tech simplicity in all things astronomical. The fact that the aforementioned amateurs also recommend the Cheshire as an accurate tool for collimating a Newtonian makes it all the more appealing.
Having said all this, the utility of a Cheshire eyepiece lessens as the f ratio of your telescope gets smaller, so much so that for f/4 ‘scopes ar faster, the laser technique will, almost certainly, yield more accurate results. But that’s OK. We are blessed in this day and age with many good tools that can make Newtonian optics shine!
Note added in proof: August 14 2018
If you do decide that you don’t like using a good Chesire eyepiece for precise collimation of your Newtonian reflectors, then I would highly recommend the Hotech SCA laser collimator. It’s an ingenious device (but costs significantly more than a regular laser collimator), but in this case you really do get what you pay for. I have tested the device on all three of my Newtonians and it gives accurate and reproducible results that agree perfectly with the Chesire. It yields perfect star tests at appropriately high powers (I’d recommend a magnification roughly equal to the diameter of your mirror in millimetres for such field tests) both in focus and defocused. I’d go for it if you can afford it. You will still need the collimation cap to centre the secondary before use however. See here and here for more details.
Neil English is author of Choosing and Using a Dobsonian Telescope.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
The winds of change are sweeping through the corridors of biological science. With many more scientists now willing to concede that living things could not have originated without an intelligent agency and did not evolve in a naturalistic sense, some are beginning to revisit an ancient idea; that the seeds of life came here from the stars. We know this today as panspermia.
Panspermia is not a new idea. It appears to have been dreamt up in almost every culture, from ancient civilisations through to the modern era. Like evolution, panspermia is of an entirely pagan origination. The Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (500−428 BC) was one of the earliest documented thinkers who entertained the notion that the ‘seeds’ (in Greek, spermata) of life travel throughout the cosmos. It took on a more scientific formulation with the thoughts of the Swedish physical chemist, Svante Arrhenius, in the early years of the 20th century and was re−visited in more recent times by a collaboration between the British cosmologist, Sir Fred Hoyle, and the Indian mathematician, Chandra Wickramasinghe, who curiously elaborated on his ideas to include “the possibility of high intelligence in the Universe and of many increasing levels of intelligence converging toward a God as an ideal limit.”
Perhaps the boldest efforts to bring scientific credibility to directed panspermia was made by prebiotic chemist, Leslie Orgel and the English physicist, Sir Francis Crick, in an interesting paper appearing in 1973. According to origin of life researcher, Robert Shapiro, Crick became interested in directed panspermia as a tongue in cheek response to the sheer implausibility of life emerging naturally on Earth. Since then however, the possibility of finding a naturalistic origin for life has become much more remote.
As Drs Hugh Ross and Fazale Rana clearly explain in their excellent book, Origins of Life; Evolutionary and Biblical Models Face Off, outside of living organisms and their decay products, scientists find no ribose, lysine, arginine, or tryptophan —molecules critical for assembling proteins, RNA, and DNA—either on Earth or anywhere else in the Universe. What is more, no conceivable naturalistic scenario is able to generate the large, stable ensembles of homochiral (D)ribose and homochiral (L)amino acids that all naturalistic origin-of-life models require, affirming why no such natural sources have ever been found. Many of life’s critical building block molecules cannot last outside of organismal space and their decay products for more than just a few days, hours, or minutes (for example, RNA rapidly degrades as any biochemist will tell you). Furthermore, early Earth’s abundance of uranium and thorium (by their radiometric decay) would have split enough of Earth’s surface water into hydrogen and oxygen to shut down the chemical pathways to a naturalistic origin of life. As world renowned synthetic organic chemist, James Tour, of Rice University, USA, has poignantly stated:
Life should not exist. This much we know from chemistry. In contrast to the ubiquity of life on earth, the lifelessness of other planets makes far better chemical sense.
The fossil record does not reveal any credible sense of evolutionary progression. Thanks to the first rate sleuthing by Dr. Stephen Meyer, a geophysicist and philosopher of biology (PhD Cambridge University) demonstrated in his best selling book: Darwin’s Doubt, The Explosive Origin of Animal Life, the exceptional speed with which animal body plans emerged with no antecedents, casts severe doubt on any NeoDarwinian scenario being implicated in their emergence. Nor is there any compelling reasons to believe in an evolutionary tree of life, as the work of Dr. Paul Nelson of the Discovery Institute, Seattle, USA, has so clearly shown in this interesting presentation.
In the field of paleoanthropology, the public have been subjected to evolutionary propaganda ad nauseam, and yet despite it all, there is no solid evidence that modern humans evolved from lesser creatures. In recent years, some in the field have changed tactic by attacking human exceptionalism, making dubious claims that creatures such as Neanderthals and Homo Erectus displayed symbolic behaviour, but many of these claims have now been debunked by careful re−analysis of the available data and often by fellow scientists within their own fields.
Great scientific revisions like these scare naturalistic scientists half to death; life cannot emerge naturally, nor has it evolved in a Darwinian sense. Unwilling to accept that a deity was responsible for the origin and diversification of life over 4 billion years, they are now showing signs of ducking these issues and as a consequence, are re entertaining the only possible alternative: directed panspermia by a more highly evolved intelligence (ETI) which emerged elsewhere in the Universe.
But how credible is this scenario? Well, the first question that must be answered is where did that extraterrestrial intelligence come from? Well, it could not have arisen naturalistically for the reasons cited earlier. And the chances of finding a truly habitable planet with all the characteristics Earth possesses even in a cosmos with 10 billion trillion planets is unimaginably remote; just one chance in 10172. Could living things survive in deep space, perhaps by being protected inside a case of ice or refractory mineral? Over relatively short distances and small timescales, it is conceivable for life to hitch a ride to another planet. Take the case of Mars and the Earth. Over the aeons, both the Earth and Mars have been pummelled by meteoric debris arising from other locations within the solar system. We have identified Mars rocks on Earth and Mars also will have been peppered with terrestrial material. In this way it is scientifically possible that primitive life derived from the Earth might have taken hold on Mars and might even have survived to this day deep underground. But that’s not what directed panspermia is really about though (the ‘pan’ part of panspermia implies a truly universal mechanism) and it would be scientifically naive to jump to the conclusion that any such life had originated on that body.
The chances of life surviving over longer timescales in outer space is also pessimistically low. Free living microbes would be destroyed by deadly X Ray, UV and gamma radiation permeating both planetary and interstellar space. In 2001, Gerda Horneck et al revealed the results of an experiment conducted on board the Russian FOTON satellite, which showed that the highly radiation resistant Bacillus subtilis were all wiped out in just 15 days! Spores of microbial cells hiding inside a dust grain from one solar system to another will likely be propelled by radiation pressure. The irony is that in order for such a dust grain to be propelled by radiation pressure it would require a source of very high irradiance, and since these sources will feature broadband radiation, e.g. X rays and other highly damagaing electromagnetic radiation, it would destroy any such spores in a relatively short time.
What are the chances of a rock derived from another planetary system being delivered to the Earth? An interesting question, no doubt, but it has been calculated. Jay Melosh, a planetary scientist based at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Arizona showed in 2001 that the expected frequency would be of the order of 10^−16 per year. Simply put, there is one chance in a million of just one interstellar rock being captured by the Earth over the entire history of the solar system!
The notion that an advanced spacefaring ETI seeded life on Earth is gaining momentum in recent days. Conceding that the genetic information simply couldn’t have been derived from any known Darwinian mechanism to create new biological diversity, serious scientists are now entertaining directed panspermia by advanced ETI. But in order to do that they would have to surmount a number of problems. In the first instance, they would have to transport the relevent biological material over interstellar distances. That would mean avoiding all sorts of hazards including novae, supernovae, sterilising radiation from giant stars and flares from dwarf stars, not to mention avoiding radiation from galactic spiral arms and the galactic bulge. But there is also the problem of speed. There are very good physical reasons that the maximum velocity such spacefaring ETIs could move through space at is just a few per cent of the speed of light in order to mitigate against the catastrophic effects of a collision with space debris. Even the impact of a dust−sized grain with a spacecraft travelling at that speed would likely end in disaster. And because these speed limits greatly increase travel time, all of the above problems become multiplicative.
Believing Impossible Things
We live in an age of mass deception; there is so much misinformation out there that almost anything goes. It’s difficult to see the woods from the trees, but if you conduct your research diligently and thoroughly you will arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As a conservative Christian, I am guided by the light and truth of the Bible. The secular world wants you to belief that you came from primordial slime and that you somehow evolved through various blob stages and then into a primitive animal, and from there into a higher animal form and so on and so forth. Life has no purpose and no ultimate meaning. Humans are just rational animals, distinguished only in degree from other animals. Morals are relative. The cosmos is teeming over with lifeforms and one species has no greater intrinsic value than any other. Evolution is its driving force.
The Bible, on the other hand, teaches us that God created all life on Earth as an expression of His glory. It teaches us that “we are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), as the best available modern science continues to affirm. The origin of human exceptionalism is grounded in the first book of Moses, called Genesis, where it declares that God made Mankind in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). God created humanity from the dirt of the ground of the Earth but says nothing about the stuff from the stars. Intriguingly, the Bible gives very scant attention to the heavens. And lo, when we look to the stars, we do not see that grand evolutionary procession of endless beings, with endless forms. The cosmos is silent, hostile to life where ever we look.
The Bible warns us about deceptions of all kinds but it also instructs us to “test everything” and to “hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It encourages us to seek the truth for the same will set you free (John 8:32). Given the grand scientific deception that evolutionary ideology cultivates, just how free are you?
Which world view paints paints a more accurate description of reality: the one promulgated by methodological naturalism or that which is presented in the Biblical narratives? I would suggest to you that it is the latter that presents the truth. And as the days go by, and as we learn more and more about this wondrous Universe in which we find ourselves, that truth grows ever stronger. That’s why I urge others not to abandon the faith held by our forebears. The Bible has much to say on these issues. Indeed, it anticipated them:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.
1 Timothy 4:1-2
So don’t be deceived. Forget panspermia in all its delusional flavours. Embrace the truth gladly and don’t be sidetracked by every story that tickles your ears. For that is the worthless faith of a Biblical ‘fool’.
Further theological discussions on ETI and extraterrestrial Life by Dr. John Barnett:
Ross, H. & Rana, F., Origins of Life; Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off, RTB Press, 2014.
Updates on the various chapters from this book available here.
Ross, H. Improbable Planet, How Earth Became Humanity’s Home, Baker Books, 2017.
Some resources challenging the false doctrine of theistic evolution (especially recommended for Roman Catholics, Anglicans etc):
Moreland, J.P., Grudem, W., Shaw, C, & Meyer, S.. (eds.), Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique, Crossway Books, 2017.
Chaberek, M.(Fr.),Catholicism and Evolution, Angelico Press, 2015.
Chaberek, M.( Fr.) Aquinas and Evolution, The Chartwell Press, 2017.
Allfree, M., & Davies, M, The Deception of Theistic Evolution, lulu.com, 2017.
Neil English is a keen stargazer and loves debunking deceptions. His latest book; Tales from the Golden Age will look at the life and work of hundreds of amateur and professional astronomers across four centuries of history. Available in late 2018.
Date: Wednesday March 28 2018
Seeing: III, bright gibbous Moon, small amounts of cloud cover in an otherwise clear sky.
It is often claimed that refractors give more aesthetically pleasing images of celestial objects than reflectors. But how true is this statement? Last night, I learned yet another instructive lesson that shatters this myth once and for all.
Earlier in the evening, I fielded my 8″ f/6 Newtonian against a very good 90mm f/5.5 ED apochromat. The target was Theta Aurigae, then sinking into the western sky and so past its best position for observing. Seeing was only average. Both telescopes had been fielded about 90 minutes earlier with the optics capped, so both were completely acclimated. I charged the apochromat with a 2.4mm Vixen HR eyepiece yielding 208x. The 8 inch Newtonian was charged with a 6mm Baader orthoscopic ocular delivering 200x.
Examining the system in the 8 inch reflector showed the primary star as a slightly swollen Airy disk but the faint companion was clearly visible. In contrast, the view through the 90mm refractor showed a less disturbed primary but the secondary(for the most part) couldn’t be seen!
Question: How can an image be deemed more aesthetically pleasing when a prime target (the secondary) in that said image can plainly be seen in one instrument and not in the other?
Date: Thursday March 29 2018
Time: 00:05 UT
Seeing; II/III, slight improvement from earlier, otherwise very similar.
Later the same night, I fielded my 130mm F/5 Newtonian along side the 90mm refractor and turned my attention to a spring favourite; Epsilon Bootis, now rising higher in the eastern sky.
This time, I charged the refractor with a 2.0mm Vixen HR eyepiece yielding 250x. The Newtonian was fitted with a Parks Gold 7.5mm eyepiece coupled to a Meade 3x Barlow lens giving a power of 260x. Examining the system, I was quite shocked by the difference between the images; the refractor did show a dull, greenish companion but it was entangled in the diffraction gunk from the orange primary. What’s more, the entire system was surrounded by chromatic fog owing to the imperfect colour correction of the refractor (an FPL 51 doublet). In contrast, the 130mm f/5 Newtonian image was far superior in every way; the Airy disks were smaller, tighter and more cleanly separated, and with zero chromatic fog to be seen. The Newtonian image remained just as stable as in the refractor image throughout the observation! The components also displayed their pure colours (as only a reflector can yield); the primary orange and the secondary, blue. In a phrase, the differences between the images was like night and day!
Conclusions: The 130mm Newtonian provided a much more aesthetically pleasing image than the refractor, which was compromised by its smaller aperture and less than perfect colour correction. As a small portable telescope, the Newtonian is far more powerful and is capable of delivering images that are simply in a different league to the refractor.
ED 90 Refractor: Proxime accessit.
130mm f/5 Newtonian(Plotina): Victrix/Pulcherrima!
Postscriptum: As always, I would encourage others to test these claims. Truth matters.
Neil English is author of Grab ‘n’ Go Astronomy.
Dedicated to Billy Graham (1918–2018).
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
In many ways, bibles are a lot like telescopes; both have the potential to transform your perspective. Some folk struggle to find even one. Others collect many different kinds. Some bibles are small and ultraportable, while others are large and unwieldy. Some copies of Holy Scripture are beautiful and ornate, lavished with fine art, and painstakingly assembled from the choicest natural materials. Still others are plain Jane, simple, with no frills; just the text, and maybe a concordance. Some folk parade their bible as if it were a measure of how well one walks with Christ. But many, not seeking to be ostentatious, quietly and modestly read their bibles in complete privacy. Some like to look at their bibles and never really look through them. Some learn a great deal from their bibles, others, little or nothing.
There has never been a better time to read the bible, for it is the only collection of books that makes sense of our earthly predicament and provides a coherent and just solution. The world is changing too fast and too much, and I fear that many have no real idea of where our kind is destined to end up. But by studying the biblical narrative, we can get a clear picture of where the world is headed for and what its fate will be. The bible shapes your worldview like no other body of literature, and keeps you moored in a view of morality that is absolute, and which cannot be changed by the fickle and ephemeral nature of human culture.
Today, many excellent translations in hundreds of languages are now available online or in traditional form. But are some translations better than others? Let’s look at the kinds of English bible translations that are now available.
‘Word for Word’ or ‘Thought for Thought’?
As any linguist will tell you, the process of translation is a task that cannot, by definition, satisfy all of the people all of the time. This is particularly true of the bible, where the original manuscripts were written in Hebrew, Aramaic and so called Koine (read common man’s) Greek. Thus, any translation involves a fair degree of discernment in choosing the right words to express, as precisely as possible, the original meaning conveyed in these texts. That has led modern biblical translation scholarship to adopt two basic philosophies; ‘word for word’ and ‘thought for thought.’ The former variety strive to exchange the words written in these ancient texts with modern words that, as far as possible, adhere to the original wording found in the most ancient texts. The latter adopt an entirely different, but no less important approach, taking the ancient texts and imparting a modern rendering that captures the essential thoughts conveyed by the original authors. Examples of good ‘word for word’ translations in the English language include the English Standard Version(ESV), the Modern English Version (MEV), the King James Version (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV) and the New American Standard Bible(NASB). Examples of popular ‘thought for thought’ translations include the New International Version (NIV), the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), the New Living Translation (NLT) and the Good News Bible(GNB).
Still other translations seek to reach a particular subset of society. For example, so−called Messianic Bibles, such as the fairly new Tree of Life Version (TLV), was compiled by Messianic Jewish scholars with the express intention to impart a distinctive Jewish voice to the Scriptures, removing words like ‘Lord’ and ‘Jesus’ and replacing them with their Hebrew equivalents, ‘Adonai’ and ‘Yeshua,’ respectively. Not a bad idea! Finally, there are very loose paraphrases of the bible, where the author’s intent is to summarise whole paragraphs of biblical text with a wording that departs quite a bit from the originals, and for the purposes of conveying the key ideas therein. Examples of these include the Message Bible (by Eugene Peterson) and the older but still highly popular Living Bible (by the late Kenneth Taylor). I use the latter to read extended passages of the biblcal narrative to my sons; a duty I take very seriously.
An aside: Did you have your children Christened? If so, you made an oath that you would bring them up in the Christian faith. Do they know the Lord’s Prayer? How about John 3:16? Do they know anything of the Gospels? Can they recite something from the Psalms?
Finally, there are corruptions of the biblical text that should be avoided at all cost. Examples include the New World Translation (NWT), used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which has monkeyed with the divinity of Christ, portraying Him not as God but merely a powerful angel, and the Book of Mormon, used by the Church of Latter Day Saints, which concocts an entirely fabricated narrative that mimics the bible (they’re bible wanabees). Another is the tongue−in−cheek Queen James Bible, which has removed all references to the abominable practice of homosexuality.
Choosing a bible can be a daunting task for a beginner, especially when one is confronted with the proliferation of translations. Having read and enjoyed many bible versions, I have found all of them to be useful and enriching. The ‘thought for thought’ versions are very easy to assimilate but at the cost of veering away from the technical precision of the ‘word for word’ varieties. In the end, I have found it helpful to enjoy a good example of both; the NKJV (for accuracy) and the NLT (for readability). We’re all different though, and get different things from different translations.. And that’s OK too.
Features to Look for in a Good Bible
All that having been said, there is another aspect of bible culture that is of some importance and this pertains to how well made the copies are. In short, a bible that is to be used regularly must ideally be well made and last many years if it is to be of maximal value. So, here I wish to offer some thoughts on my own experiences with a variety of bibles, and what features I tend to look for when shopping for a good, durable bible.
I have found hardback versions of the Holy Bible to be the least durable. They are generally quite poorly bound and tend to fall apart quickly with continued use. If you use a hardback version, chances are you’ll be taping it up before long. Much better are the soft covered bibles, which come as simple paperbacks, imitation leather (usually polyurethane or ‘trutone’) and bona fide leather bound incarnations. I avoid bibles that are heavily glued and not Smyth−sewn.
Soft covers also open out flat on a table or in your hand, largely avoiding the tendency for the pages to flip over accidentally or haphazardly. The font size can also be an issue. If the font is too small, it will be difficult to read, even with eyeglasses. If it is too large, the bible will have to be bigger and heavier than is desired. That said, there are many thinline versions now available in 8 point or larger font, and which can be carried around easily in a rucksack or handbag. The font should be clear and distinct, ideally with good line matching, so as to minimise the effects of text ghosting. Ideally, the bible will have a decent number of cross references, so that you can quickly find quotations taken from other parts of the bible that have a bearing on the part of Scripture being studied. A comprehensive concordance (normally placed at the back of the bible) and a few relevant maps of the biblical world is also a godsend. Some folk like to have wide margins, so as to make notes. Others simply want the text, pure and simple.
In this digital age in which we live there are many excellent online resources to help you study the bible. Bible Gateway and Bible Hub.com provide the entire text of the bible in many different versions, only a few of which I have mentioned in this blog. Perhaps the most comprehensive online resource is the NEW English Translation (NET) bible, which is a novel translation compiled by a team of biblical scholars accessing the best currently available Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew, together with over 58,000 translators’ notes. The NET bible is also available in conventional form. I should also mention Biblia.com which seems to offer a similar service to the NET bible. One can also buy Kindle versions of most any bible translation for use on your electronic devices.
My Personal Favourite Bible
While I certainly enjoy and cherish many English translations of the bible, I wanted to share with you some of the qualities I looked for in my own personal quest for a bible for study and use in my daily devotionals. I narrowed the translations down to two; the ESV or the NKJV. And while I can recommend both wholeheartedly, I gravitated toward the latter, owing to its literary ‘cadence’ and its devotion to the tradition of the original King James Version (though the author does not endorse so−called King James ‘onlyism’). I felt the ESV had developed too much of a ‘cult’ following and I’ve always been one to go my own way, championing the ‘underdog,’ as it were.
Having read the NKJV through a few times, I have never come across a typographical error in this version, unlike others I’ve encountered. For example, while reading the book of Jeremiah in the otherwise excellent Tree of Life Version(TLV) of the Bible, I encountered a clear error in this translation (see the TLV Jeremiah 34:14), which (for me) was slightly annoying. The same bible also has printing errors in the short book of Obadiah. Errors are more likely to occur when small teams of biblical scholars are involved and the TLV had a smaller scholarship base than many of the more established English translations. I hope the committee responsible for the TLV can sort out these errors in due course. The NKJV has been around since 1982 (Thomas Nelson publishers) and so any bugs in this version have long been sorted out. Indeed, I was just a boy when the NKJV first hit the shelves; and yet, in the rapidly changing world in which we live, the NKJV is now considered somewhat of a classic lol.
It is also noteworthy to mention that the older Thomas Nelson rendition of the NKJV also featured asterisks alongside passges from the Old and New Testaments, indicating where prophecies were either fulfilled or had yet to be fulfilled. But these are eisegenic interpretations (reading into the text) and I liked the way the new Holman publication removed them so that the reader could interpret them in his or her own way.
I wanted a Smyth−sewn binding for my bible as these are very strong and durable, but also because they open flat without much effort. I also considered buying a copy bound in high quality leather (like with my NIV 2011), but yet again I have found the modern polyurethane (trutone) covers to be just as good. What’s more, unlike leather, they don’t need to be nourished from time to time with conditioning agents in order to keep them in tip top condition. In addition, leather, being organic, is biodegradable, so will decay with time; something the synthetic polymers won’t do to the same degree(so long as you don’t sit it out in the hot sun, day in day out lol).
I wanted a bible with only the text, neither with introductions or other distractions from the text itself. And while I used to take copious notes during my earlier bible studies, these days I just enjoy the bare text without margins.
I wanted a fairly large font, so I could read it without using my glasses, even in fairly dim light.The quality of the paper had to be good too, but not so good that I would be afraid to soil it. The Holman has a single ribbon page marker, and while I would have preferred two, I can live with having only one. The text is printed in American English but that was never an issue for me. It had to be reasonably well line matched and I wanted the words of the Messiah in red lettering. All these requirements led me to a very useful version, published by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Unlike the cheap, bonded leather of the older Nelson version (the newer Nelson NKJV are better made though) of the NKJV, the Holman iteration has a beautiful but not overly showy trutone cover. Finally, I didn’t want to spend too much on yet another bible. The Holman was priced very economically and was well worth the modest price I paid for it. I hope to be able to use it well into my old age.
So, in summary, there are many beautiful bibles available today; something to suit everyone’s taste, and for all occasions. My hope is that this short article will inspire others to begin a new study of the bible and to keep the words of our Creator alive and well in our hearts.
Postscript: Thomas Nelson have now brought out a brand-new Deluxe Reader’s Bible which is beautifully made and very reasonably priced. You can see a review of it here.
For this is what the Lord says—
he who created the heavens,
he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty,
but formed it to be inhabited—
“I am the Lord,
and there is no other.
“Life should not exist. This much we know from chemistry. In contrast to the ubiquity of life on earth, the lifelessness of other planets makes far better chemical sense.” So wrote Jim Tour, W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Materials Science and Nano Engineering at Rice University in a recent publication. Tour has been rated as one of the top ten chemists in the world at the moment and is very likely to become a Nobel Laureate for his ground–breaking work in synthetic organic chemistry.
All the while, when one reads popular news articles on the question of life on other planets the standard response is, “there must certainly exist life on other worlds…the odds stacked against it are astronomical.” Of course, when one examines the credentials of the folk making these claims, one invariably discovers that they have little advanced science training (and that goes for the editors of pretty much all extant astronomy magazines, whether conventional or on the internet). In other cases, we have astronomers making bold claims about life on other worlds but they too raise issues in my mind (they’re not generally trained in the molecular life sciences for one thing). What is more, they wish to promote their own world view; that the Copernican Principle (explained below) applies to all things, life included, and more often than not, to sensationalise a topic that has been known to sell a book or two in the past. In addition, just stating that life may be common in the Universe is sure to boost their chances of securing additional research funding too.
How are we to arrive at the truth of these opposing views? For me, I would always default to the true experts in the field, and in this particular case, this means siding with the folks who actually know what is entailed from a chemical standpoint. In another highly informative essay, Professor Tour continues;
“Life requires carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins. What is the chemistry behind their origin? Biologists seem to think that there are well-understood prebiotic molecular mechanisms for their synthesis. They have been grossly misinformed. And no wonder: few biologists have ever synthesized a complex molecule ab initio. If they need a molecule, they purchase molecular synthesis kits, which are, of course, designed by synthetic chemists, and which feature simplistic protocols.
Polysaccharides? Their origin?
The synthetic chemists do not have a pathway.
The biologists do not have a clue.”
Did you read that? Tour claims the biologists don’t have a clue! He’s correct, of course, since few biologists have a working understanding of advanced chemistry (or physics for that matter) and yet there is never a mention of Dr. Tour’s cautionary take on whether or not life is to be expected on other planets in any popularised narratives on the topic of extra–terrestrial life. They simply don’t want to know!
What the public invariably gets is naturalistic propaganda and not a true education.
Tour’s timely communications dovetail very nicely with other calls for restraint from within the Christian community. Drs. Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, of Reasons to Believe, produced a ground–breaking work, “Origins of Life: Evolutionary and Biblical Models Faceoff, in which they pointed out the biggest criticism of the validity of prebiotic chemistry to chemical evolution was the scientists’ own data! Put simply, in perusing the materials & methods section of their peer reviewed scientific papers, they were able to show that pretty much every step the chemists make in creating a biologically relevant molecule was itself the product of intelligent design; the reactants were bought in in highly purified states, protected in highly specific environments (buffers and solvents), with particular pH values and optimal temperature regimes, the products carefully selected by stopping and starting reactions and isolating potential inhibitors to these reactions. Interestingly, the leading authorities in prebiotic chemistry have acknowledged these claims as valid. And yet, if you were to pick up the latest issue of a monthly astronomy magazine or online space science article, there is never any mention of these important criticisms. The public, once again, are left none the wiser. You see, one has to find stuff like this.
All this leads to a rather shocking conclusion; it is scientifically naïve to expect life to exist on other planets without the intervention of an intelligent agency being involved.
Questioning Evolutionary Assumptions
The general public are used to having Darwinian evolution shoved down their throat, as if it were a science as towering and self–confident as chemistry or physics. But very few of the general public understand that, of all the sciences, it is Darwinian evolution that generates perhaps the greatest number of sceptics. While some scientists have rejected evolutionary theory having studied it to an advanced level, most critics of Darwinism come from outside the field; not surprisingly from physical scientists, engineers and the like. They point out that the origins of life are not at all understood and that the fossil record is woefully incomplete and has more to do with guesswork than anything else. A growing armada of scientists now accept that Darwinian evolution is not fit for purpose in this age of rapid scientific progress. And these doubts weigh heavily on the debate of whether or not life is common in the Universe. But there’s more.
Over the last quarter of a century, whole teams of scientists have pushed back the date to the likely origin of life to just a few hundred million years or less, from the formation of the Earth. What is more, studies on microfossils discovered within the Earth’s most ancient rocks, as well as state of the art chemical analyses of the various biomarkers within these structures show that as soon as life took hold on Earth, it was already biochemically sophisticated and extraordinarily diverse. While some journalists have used these emerging facts as ‘evidence’ that the origin of life must be easy from a naturalistic point of view, they refuse to consider another, and far more pressing point: the fact that life very likely began complex; both structurally and biochemically, it could not have evolved in the sense conveyed by contemporary evolutionists. But, yet again, there is no mention of these important developments in the popular literature. One magazine editor I approached about this issue sent me this clip as “evidence for evolution.” After enjoying a good giggle, this author duly responded by asserting that this was not science at all but pure fiction! So, what’s going on?
Sweeping under the Carpet
One could pretend that contemporary biological science might be likened to the status of physics in the late nineteenth century, but it’s actually a lot worse than that. There’s a distinct chance that we will never discover the secret of life. You see, living things are mind bogglingly complex. Nobody understands them! What is clear is that the Darwinian status quo cannot continue to exist for much longer. A new paradigm is clearly required to advance the biological sciences. Many scientists now consider information to be at the centre of this potentially revolutionary era in biology.
Challenging the Copernican Principle
The Copernican principle, stated simply, is that the Earth and its constituents does not hold any privileged position in the grand scheme of things and that everything we observe will have its analogues on other worlds. Back in 2000 though, palaeontologist, Peter Ward, and astronomer, Donald Brownlee, published a highly influential book, Rare Earth; why Complex Life may be Uncommon in the Universe, in which they set forth compelling evidence that although microbial life might be common, complex multicellular life ought to be far rarer than anyone had anticipated. Since then however, other excellent books have emerged including John Gribbin’s Alone in the Universe; Why our Planet is Unique (2011) and more recently still, Hugh Ross’ technically excellent tome, Improbable Planet (2016), in which they make the case that the Earth has many features that appear uniquely suited to supporting complex lifeforms. And to top it all, Professor Brian Cox, in his BBC production: Human Universe, also explains why humans are likely the only advanced lifeforms in the entire cosmos. And yet, despite the soundness of their arguments, it is rare (if at all) that the mainstream media will ever present this picture, simply because they run the risk of possibly alienating their readers. Instead, they peddle the same old mantra of life being common in the Universe. But what does the emerging scientific picture attest to?
To date, several thousand exoplanets (worlds orbiting other stars) have been characterised and while some have earth–sized planets, it is quite a leap of faith to conclude that they are habitable. Most commonly, the reporters make the point that the planet in question lies in that narrow annulus around its parent star, where liquid water could potentially be stable (the so–called habitable zone). But this is a far cry from making a planet habitable. And yet all the while, performing a google search of an article on exoplanets within their habitable zones invariably brings up images of fictional worlds graced with blue water oceans, white clouds and conveniently placed continents; figments of someone’s overactive imagination no doubt. Ross’ work in particular has also identified not one habitable zone, where liquid water could remain stable for long periods, but several other conditions that must be present if complex animal life is to be maintained over periods of several billion years.
Collectively, these new habitable zones include;
Water habitable zone
Ultraviolet habitable zone
Photosynthetic habitable zone
Ozone habitable zone
Planetary rotation rate habitable zone
Planetary obliquity habitable zone
Tidal habitable zone
Astrosphere habitable zone
All of these must overlap for a planet to sustain complex life over billions of years. Thus, seen in this light, it is highly probable that an Earth–like world is either extraordinarily rare or even unique, even in a cosmos containing quadrillions of planets. But you’d never hear that from the purveyors of methodological naturalism. In addition, a recent study suggests that the cosmos is poor in the vital element, phosphorus, making life on other planets that much more unlikely.
Stagnating Real Science
Taken together, these simple points paint an entirely different picture of what we should expect in searching for life on other worlds. Late in 2018, NASA will launch their giant infrared space telescope, the greatly anticipated James Webb, which will have the technology to chemically characterise the atmospheres of many exoplanets discovered to date. Will they find the signatures of life? Personally, I’m sceptical, given the truth about what we have thus far discovered about life on our own planet. But in the meantime, it would be fruitful for science writers reporting on such matters to present a more balanced case, both for and against such claims. Maybe then, they’ll be a bit more cautious about entertaining such fantastic objects as Dyson Spheres (KIC 8462852) and visiting inter–stellar spacecraft (Oumuamua). The industry owes that to its readers.
An Aside: A Christian Perspective on Extra—terrestrial Intelligence
As both a Christian and a scientist, I have thought deeply about such questions and have reached some working conclusions to help me grapple with these thought provoking concepts. As a scientist, I am sceptical of the evolutionary paradigm (though some Christians appear to accept it) as it has little in the way of explanatory power. Furthermore, I believe it to be an evil ideology that seeks to turn people away from the true God. The fact that we have not detected signs of advanced alien lifeforms despite having searched the heavens for over a half a century affirms my belief that Darwinian evolution is bogus; life must come from a mind and must be created for some specified purpose. But there is also a number of theological reasons why I think life is either extraordinarily rare or unique to Earth. This view has been shaped by a prolonged study of the Bible. It may surprise the reader that the vast majority of people who profess to be Christians have not read the Bible through, from cover to cover, even once, and so may not have developed the nuanced argument quite like the one I wish to present here.
The first point I’d like to make is that the Biblical God appeared in human form in the character of Jesus of Nazareth.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The New Testament states in multiple places that Jesus “died once for all” (see Romans 6:10 for an example). This suggests that Jesus came to redeem sinful humans and not other creatures. Humans are the only creatures that God came to redeem.
The next point is that the Bible makes it crystal clear that the only deity we will see in heaven is Christ;
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Thirdly, the Bible seems very clear about where the Lord, the Creator of the Universe, will establish His throne; in Jerusalem, before He brings this Universe to an end;
At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart.
Fourthly, the Bible informs us that the Universe will be consumed in fire:
But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
2 Peter 3:7
So, it would be unjust of God to destroy other putative lifeforms elsewhere in the Universe for mankind’s rebellion. And since God is completely just and holy, He would not cause other parts of His creation to suffer needlessly. That would make Him a monster.
Finally, the Bible speaks of Christ as a “bridegroom” and His church a “bride”;
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
Here we have a fidelity issue. Time and time again through the pages of Scripture, the Lord condemns infidelity and encourages faithfulness to one wife or husband. Thus, if the church is to be considered as the ‘bride of Christ’, then the ‘bridegroom’ ought to be faithful and not seek or acquire ‘other brides’ elsewhere in the cosmos. After all, God is not a polygamist! Shouldn’t loyalty be reciprocal, working both ways?
For these and other reasons, the uniqueness of humankind as imagers of God (see Genesis 1:27) makes it very difficult to envision other creatures on par or superior to humans in the physical Universe (though it does not rule out the possibility that he created lesser creatures). We are either the crown of His creation or we are not (see Hebrews 2:7). That’s not to say that God did not create other forms of sentient beings; consider the Angelic realm, for example.
Seen in this way, the alarming degree to wish people will go to wish their sovereignty away deeply concerns me. It strikes me as an elaborate, postmodern manifestation of paganism; a grandiose scientistic delusion. I worry that God will disown them, just as they have disowned Him. Naturalistic science serves to undermine mankind’s significance by turning him into a ‘highly evolved animal’, distinguished only in degree from the rest of the animal kingdom. I believe this to be demonstrably false and envision the next decade or so as continuing to affirm our uniqueness in this vast cosmos in which we ‘serendipitously’ find ourselves in.
Return to the Lord and serve Him with all your heart, soul, mind and spirit before it’s too late.
Dr. Neil English, who was trained in both the biological and physical sciences, is author of several books on amateur astronomy and space science. His new book; Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy, will be published later this year.
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.
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?
Next, the mirror reflective surface is rinsed under some cold, running tap water.
The procedure is repeated for the primary mirror;
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.
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!
I feel a nice, hot cuppa is in order!
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.
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.
Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created.
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
He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?
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;
Scientists Create Irreducibly Complex Bacterial Cells
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.
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?
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.
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
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
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
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.
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?
But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
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
I am the Lord your God…You shall have no other gods before me.
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!
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
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Many learned men outside of the biological sciences are sceptical of the evolutionary paradigm.
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.
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.
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.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?
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
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.
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!
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;
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
How Embryology Shows that Macroevolution is a Hoax.
Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb;
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.
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?
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
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
It Came from Outer Space-Not!
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.
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.
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.
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
The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.
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.
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.
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
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.
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;
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.
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’.
Continued in Part III.
But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have:
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.