Friday, August 26, 2011

Science versus Religion - Does Genesis conflict Science?

MANY people claim that science disproves the Bible’s account of creation. But the real contradiction is between science and, not the Bible, but the opinions of so-called Christian Fundamentalists. Some of these groups falsely assert that according to the Bible, all physical creation was produced in six 24-hour days some 10,000 years ago.

The Bible, however, does not support such a conclusion. If it did, then many scientific discoveries over the past hundred years would indeed discredit the Bible. A careful study of the Bible text reveals no conflict with established scientific facts. For that reason, Jehovah’s Witnesses disagree with “Christian” Fundamentalists and many creationists. The following shows what the Bible really teaches.

When Was “the Beginning”?

The Genesis account opens with the simple, powerful statement: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Bible scholars agree that this verse describes an action separate from the creative days recounted from verse 3 onward. The implication is profound. According to the Bible’s opening statement, the universe, including our planet Earth, was in existence for an indefinite time before the creative days began.

Geologists estimate that the earth is approximately 4 billion years old, and astronomers calculate that the universe may be as much as 15 billion years old. Do these findings—or their potential future refinements—contradict Genesis 1:1? No. The Bible does not specify the actual age of “the heavens and the earth.” Science does not disprove the Biblical text.

How Long Were the Creative Days?

What about the length of the creative days? Were they literally 24 hours long? Some claim that because Moses—the writer of Genesis—later referred to the day that followed the six creative days as a model for the weekly Sabbath, each of the creative days must be literally 24 hours long. (Exodus 20:11) Does the wording of Genesis support this conclusion?

No, it does not. The fact is that the Hebrew word translated “day” can mean various lengths of time, not just a 24-hour period. For example, when summarizing God’s creative work, Moses refers to all six creative days as one day. (Genesis 2:4) In addition, on the first creative day, “God began calling the light Day, but the darkness he called Night.” (Genesis 1:5) Here, only a portion of a 24-hour period is defined by the term “day.” Certainly, there is no basis in Scripture for arbitrarily stating that each creative day was 24 hours long.

How long, then, were the creative days? The wording of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 indicates that considerable lengths of time were involved.

Creations Appear Gradually

Moses wrote his account in Hebrew, and he wrote it from the perspective of a person standing on the surface of the earth. These two facts, combined with the knowledge that the universe existed before the beginning of the creative periods, or “days,” help to defuse much of the controversy surrounding the creation account. How so?

A careful consideration of the Genesis account reveals that events starting during one “day” continued into one or more of the following days. For example, before the first creative “day” started, light from the already existing sun was somehow prevented from reaching the earth’s surface, possibly by thick clouds. (Job 38:9) During the first “day,” this barrier began to clear, allowing diffused light to penetrate the atmosphere.*

On the second “day,” the atmosphere evidently continued to clear, creating a space between the thick clouds above and the ocean below. On the fourth “day,” the atmosphere had gradually cleared to such an extent that the sun and the moon were made to appear “in the expanse of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:14-16) In other words, from the perspective of a person on earth, the sun and moon began to be discernible. These events happened gradually.

The Genesis account also relates that as the atmosphere continued to clear, flying creatures—including insects and membrane-winged creatures—started to appear on the fifth “day.” However, the Bible indicates that during the sixth “day,” God was still in the process of “forming from the ground every wild beast of the field and every flying creature of the heavens.”—Genesis 2:19.

Clearly, the Bible’s language makes room for the possibility of some major events during each “day,” or creative period, to have occurred gradually rather than instantly, perhaps some of them even lasting into the following creative “days.”

According to Their Kinds

Does this progressive appearance of plants and animals imply that God used evolution to produce the vast diversity of living things? No. The record clearly states that God created all the basic “kinds” of plant and animal life. (Genesis 1:11, 12, 20-25) Were these original “kinds” of plants and animals programmed with the ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions? What defines the boundary of a “kind”? The Bible does not say. However, it does state that living creatures “swarmed forth according to their kinds.” (Genesis 1:21) This statement implies that there is a limit to the amount of variation that can occur within a “kind.” Both the fossil record and modern research support the idea that the fundamental categories of plants and animals have changed little over vast periods of time.

Contrary to the claims of some Fundamentalists, Genesis does not teach that the universe, including the earth and all living things on it, was created in a short period of time in the relatively recent past. Rather, the description in Genesis of the creation of the universe and the appearance of life on earth harmonizes with many recent scientific discoveries.

Because of their philosophical beliefs, many scientists reject the Bible’s declaration that God created all things. Interestingly, however, in the ancient Bible book of Genesis, Moses wrote that the universe had a beginning and that life appeared in stages, progressively, over periods of time. How could Moses gain access to such scientifically accurate information some 3,500 years ago? There is one logical explanation. The One with the power and wisdom to create the heavens and the earth could certainly give Moses such advanced knowledge. This gives weight to the Bible’s claim that it is “inspired of God.”—2 Timothy 3:16.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Salmon's Efficient Swimming Style

In order to breed, many salmon species swim upstream, facing turbulent waters along the way. How are they able to endure a grueling journey without succumbing to exhaustion? Instead of being overwhelmed by the rough water, these fish actually take advantage of it. How?

Consider: Salmon do not plow through chaotic water. Instead, when swimming upstream, they conserve energy by using vortices, or miniature whirlpools, that form where the water flow is disturbed by rocks, branches, or other objects. As the vortices form on alternating sides of an object, the fish curve their bodies from side to side and glide between the pockets of turbulence. (See diagram.)

Some schools of fish
use the vortices created by the
fish swimming in front of
them, effectively riding in their
wake. The fish can even take
advantage of the turbulence
created by their own bodies!

Researchers hope to borrow from the salmon’s
efficient swimming style to harvest energy
from slow-moving water. Traditional hydropower
equipment usually generates electricity
in water flowing at a rate of about five knots
(5.8 miles per hour [9.3 km/h]) or faster. Now
a prototype using vortex-induced vibrations can
generate electricity from water creeping along
at only two knots. The technology, however, is
nowhere near the level of sophistication found
in such fish as salmon. Professor Michael Bernitsas
of the University of Michigan, U.S.A., admits:
“We are not as smart as fish at this point.”

What do you think? Did the
salmon’s ability to harness energy
from water turbulence come
about by chance? Or was it designed?
This seems promising, since most of
the earth’s water currents move slower than
three knots.

[As appeared in the magazine Awake!, December 2010]

The Eye of the Peacock Mantis Shrip

The peacock mantis shrimp, found on
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is equipped
with the most complex eyesight in the animal
kingdom. “It really is exceptional,”
says Dr. Nicholas Roberts, “outperforming
anything we humans have so far been
able to create.”

Consider: The peacock mantis shrimp
can perceive polarized light and process it
in ways that humans cannot do. Polarized
light waves may travel along a straight
line or rotate in a corkscrew motion. Unlike
other creatures, this mantis shrimp
not only sees polarized light in both its
straight-line and corkscrew forms but is
also able to convert the light from the one
form to the other. This gives the shrimp
enhanced vision.

DVD players work in a similar way. To
process information, the DVD player must
convert polarized light aimed at a disc
into a corkscrew motion and then change
it back into a straight-line format. But the
peacock mantis shrimp goes a step further.

While a standard DVD player only
converts red light—or in higher-resolution
players, blue light—the shrimp’s eye can
convert light in all colors of the visible

Researchers believe that using the peacock
mantis shrimp’s eye as a model,
engineers could develop a DVD player
that plays discs with far more information
than today’s DVDs. “What’s particularly
exciting is how beautifully simple it is,”
says Roberts. “It works much, much better
than any attempts that we’ve made to
construct a device.”

What do you think? Is the remarkable
eye of the peacock mantis shrimp a product
of chance? Or was it designed?

[As appeared in the magazine Awake!, November 2010]

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What probability says about Evolution

I missed some months posting a nice article on this site. So far, what I have posted are some amazing facts from our own planet that shows and intelligent design that dismisses the idea of evolution to take place. These are all factual and no evolutionist whatsoever could disprove. But now, let me share this excerpt from a book that tackles the subject of “creation or evolution” from the viewpoint of physics and mathematics.

Firstly, if there is no Creator, then life must have started spontaneously be chance. For life to have come about, somehow the right chemicals would have come together in right quantities, under the right temperature and pressure and other controlling factors, and all would have to be maintained for the correct length of time. Furthermore, for life to have begun and been sustained on earth, these chance events would have had to be repeated thousand of times. But how likely is it for even one such event to take place?

Evolutionists admit that the probability of the right atoms and molecules falling into place to form just one simple protein molecule is 1 in 10113, of 1 followed by 113 zeros. That number is larger than the estimated total number of atoms in the universe! Mathematicians dismiss as never taking place anything that has a probability of occurring of less than 1 in 1050. But far more than one simple molecule is need for life. Some 2,000 different proteins are needed just for one cell to maintain its activity, and the chance that all of them to occur in random are 1 in 1040,000! “If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training into the conviction that life originated [spontaneously] on the Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court,” says astronomer Fred Hoyle.*

On the other hand, by studying the physical world, from the minute subatomic particles to the vast galaxies, scientists have discovered that all known natural phenomena appear to follow certain basic laws. In other words, they have discovered logic and order in everything that is taking place in the universe, and they have been able to express their logic and order in simple mathematical terms. “Few scientists can fail to be impressed by the almost unreasonable simplicity and elegance of these laws,” writes a professor of physics, Paul Davies, in the magazine New Scientist.

A most intriguing fact about these laws, however, is that in them there are certain factors whose values must be fixed precisely for the universe, as we know it, to exist. Among these fundamental constants are the unit of electric charge on the proton, the masses of certain fundamental particles, and Newton’s universal constant of gravitation, commonly denoted by the letter G. on this, Professor Davies continues: “Every minute variations in the values of some of them would drastically alter the appearance of the universe. For example, Freeman Dyson pointed out that if the force between nucleons (protons and neutrons) were only a few per cent stronger, the Universe would be devoid of hydrogen. Stars, like the Sun, not to mention water, could not exist. Life, at least as we know it, would be impossible. Brandon Carter has shown that very much smaller changes in G would turn all starts into blue giants or red dwarfs, with equally dire consequences for life.” Thus, Davies concludes: “In this case it is conceivable that there might be only one possible Universe. If that is so, it is remarkable thought that our own existence as conscious beings is an inescapable consequence of logic.” – Italics added.

What can we deduce from all of this? First of all, if the universe is governed by laws, then there must be an intelligent lawmaker who formulated or established the laws. Furthermore, since the laws governing the operation of the universe appear to be made in anticipation of life and conditions favorable to its sustenance, purpose is clearly involved. Design and purpose – these are not characteristics of blind chance; they are precisely what an intelligent of Creator would manifest. And that is just what the Bible indicated when it declares: “What may be known about God is manifest among them, for God made it manifest to them. For invisible quantities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made; even his eternal power and Godship.” – Romans 1:19, 20; Isaiah 45:18; Jeremiah 10:12

* Evolution from Space, p. 24
- Adapted

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Beautiful Moth

ONE pleasant evening a moth flew into a plush restaurant. As it fluttered by her table, a lady dining there frantically shooed the moth away as if she were being attacked by a disease-laden mosquito! The moth proceeded to another table, finally alighting on a man's lapel. This man and his wife had an entirely different reaction—they admired the moth, reflecting on the beauty and harmlessness of this delicate creature.

"Moths are about as harmless as a creature can get," explains John Himmelman, cofounder of the Connecticut Butterfly Association. "They have no biting mouth parts, and some adults, such as the well-known luna moth, don't eat at all. They don't carry rabies or any other diseases, they don't sting . . . In fact, most people don't realize that butterflies are actually day-flying moths."

Everyone admires butterflies, but few stop to admire the beauty and variety of moths. 'Beauty?' you may say, skeptically. Some think of the moth as merely a lackluster cousin of the beautiful butterfly, yet both are given the same scientific classification—Lepidoptera, meaning "scaly wings." The wide variety observable among these lovely creatures is astounding. The Encyclopedia of Insects states that there are 150,000 to 200,000 known species of Lepidoptera. But of these, only 10 percent are butterflies—the rest are moths!

Like many other people, I hardly thought of moths except when putting away my winter clothes and placing mothballs around them in an attempt to repel the clothes moth. I did not know that as adults, moths do not eat fabric at all—they only do so while in the larval stage as caterpillars.*

What changed my outlook toward moths? Some time ago my husband and I paid a visit to some friends of ours named Bob and Ronda. Bob knew quite a bit about moths. He showed me a small box containing what I at first thought was a beautiful butterfly. He explained that it was a cecropia, or robin moth, one of the largest moths in North America. It can attain a wingspan of up to six inches [15 cm] and has a life cycle of one year. How amazed I was to learn that its life as an adult lasts a mere 7 to 14 days! A close examination of the lovely cecropia gave me a whole new perspective on moths.

Bob pointed to some small specks on the bottom of his box. "These specks are eggs," Bob explained, "and I hope to raise them to adulthood." Raise a moth? I was intrigued by the idea. It turned out, though, that executing this plan was not so easy. For two weeks Bob tried unsuccessfully to hatch the eggs. He then decided to mist them with water. Within a week after the misting, 26 of the 29 eggs hatched in one day. Bob then placed the fragile larvae, each about the size of a mosquito, into a smooth casserole dish to keep them from crawling out.

The first meal the emerging larvae ate was their own egg cases. After that, Bob had to provide food, which proved to be a bit of a challenge. After doing some research, he tried feeding them maple leaves. The larvae crawled onto the leaves but did not eat them. However, when Bob offered cherry and birch leaves, they readily consumed them.

When the tiny larvae had grown into caterpillars, Bob transferred them to a terrarium with a screened top. The terrarium provided the proper balance of moisture for the caterpillars and the leaves. It also served to contain the caterpillars, since they developed a wanderlust as soon as they were able to crawl.

Providing food for 26 hungry caterpillars turned out to be more work than expected. Each time that Bob packed the terrarium with leaves, the caterpillars devoured the entire supply within two days. At this point he enlisted the help of his sister and two young friends, a boy and a girl, to share in watching and feeding the growing brood.

The caterpillars' consumption of large quantities of food is vital, not only for growth during their larva stage but also for nourishment when they become adults. You see, the adult cecropia moth does not have functional mouth parts, and it does not eat at all! For sustenance during its brief adult life, it depends entirely on the food it ingested during its larval stage.

Getting New Skins

As the caterpillars grew, they shed their skins, or molted, several times. The stages of a caterpillar's life between molts are called instars.

A cecropia caterpillar's skin does not grow, so when the caterpillar becomes so large that its skin is stretched to the limit, it is time for it to molt. Bob could tell when this was about to happen because the caterpillars stopped eating. After spinning silken pads and attaching themselves to them, the caterpillars remained still for several days while they developed a new skin. When the new skin was ready, the caterpillars simply walked out of their old skins, leaving them attached to the silk pad. Seeing the caterpillars in their last instar, I was amazed at how big they had grown. They were nearly five inches [12 cm] long and larger in diameter than my index finger.

Spinning a Cocoon

After the last instar, each caterpillar spun a cocoon—a large mass of grayish threads affixed to a stick. Cecropias make cocoons of two types. One is a large, loose, baggy structure with a rounded bottom and a tapered neck. The other type is smaller and denser and is oblong in design with a tapered neck and bottom. Both types contain a tightly-wound inner cocoon. Cecropia cocoons are generally reddish-brown, brown, drab green, or gray. Compared with the cocoons of other North American species, the cocoons of cecropia moths are enormous—up to four inches [10 cm] long and two inches [5-6 cm] wide. And these amazing structures are able to protect their inhabitants in temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit [-34° Celsius].

After the caterpillars settled into their cocoons, there was nothing for us to do but wait patiently. The unveiling took place the following spring, about one year after Bob had first received the adult moth. Bob placed the sticks holding the cocoons in a piece of plastic foam to keep them standing upright. Soon, all the cecropias but one emerged from their cocoons, making the patience and hard work worthwhile.

Increased Appreciation for Moths

Witnessing the remarkable life cycle of the cecropia has caused me to pay more attention to moths fluttering around lights and resting on buildings. My experience also prompted me to find out more about these fascinating creatures. For example, I learned that moths and butterflies are impressive fliers, certain varieties migrating considerable distances. The tiny diamondback moth has a wingspan of only one inch, [2.5 cm] but it periodically flies between Europe and Britain via the turbulent North Sea. And sphinx moths, or hawkmoths, hover over flowers the way hummingbirds do.

Some time after witnessing the life cycle of the cecropia, I saw one resting on a bush under a light. I knew that because the scales on a moth's wings are extremely delicate, you should never pick it up by its wings. However, if you place your outstretched hand in front of a moth, it may walk onto your finger. When I tried this, the lovely creature rewarded me by resting on my middle finger. Eventually, it took to flight over the treetops. As it flew away, I thought of how much it looked like a butterfly. The next time you think you see a butterfly, take a second look. It may very well be a beautiful, harmless moth.—Contributed.

*Some moth larvae also cause considerable crop damage.