Do miracles really occur?

[SPOILER ALERT: if you haven’t seen the movie Miracles from Heaven and don’t know the story but want to see it, this article will spoil the ending, so you might not want to read it yet.]

Some people don’t believe in miracles, because they don’t believe in a supernatural God.

However, only the first dictionary definition of “miracle” refers to divine intervention; it offers a more secular alternate definition that describes miracles merely as any extremely unusual event or accomplishment. Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. “Mark Twain”) wrote:

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.

And what is the truth? Quid est veritas?

As the author of three novels and three nonfiction books and articles, let me assure you that writing non-ficton is considerably easier than creating the plot of a novel from scratch.

The fictional story must appear to be plausible enough to the reader that he or she becomes willing to suspend his or her disbelief. The same isn’t the case for stories purported to be true — they simply require verifiable evidence to support any claims being made in the account.

Take the plot of the movie Miracles from Heaven, for example.

The main story simply sounds ludicrous —  a young girl suffering terribly from a rare, incurable stomach disease falls thirty feet inside a rotted tree, landing on her head.

But the fall that should have killed young Anna Beam allegedly cured her. Though her neck should have been broken, and her skull smashed in pieces, not only does she survive with only minor injuries, landing on her head appears to have somehow caused her devastating, potentially fatal disease known as pseudo-obstruction motility disorder to go into remission.

Anna’s doctor suggested that the fall had somehow jump-started her immune system so that her lower intestines began to function normally…a child surviving on pain medication and feeding tubes resumed a normal life of playing soccer and eating pizza.

The medical term for Anna’s miracle cure is spontaneous remission, which simply means a diagnosed and confirmed affliction was cured due to unknown causes, without treatment or surgery.

Anna’s story sounds utterly preposterous, right? The problem is that documentation and other evidence exists. Photographs are shown during the credits of the people in real life who had been portrayed by the actors in the movie.

Anna Beam is an actual person.

Most of the facts asserted in her incredible story can be rather easily verified — for example, there are hospital and other medical records documenting her illness, the filmed news reports of her fall, etc. But not all of Anna’s story is supported by evidence and documentation.

She also claims that when she fell, she died and left her body. Anna says that Jesus told her that she must return to Earth, and that her body would be healed.

The only evidence supporting that specific claim is the fact that her body has been healed of its horrible affliction — she makes no other assertions of any corroborated veridical information learned during her alleged NDE.

So, do miracles really occur? By the second definition, absolutely. But what about the first?

The film plays up the mother’s loss of faith when Anna becomes sick. She stops going to church. Her faith is shaken. And in truth, many people must be asking themselves, why would God let a young child like Anna suffer such horrible pain, to go through such a horrible ordeal?

Is it because God wanted a great movie made about Him in Hollywood, or was the reason much more subtle? Is there even a reason at all?

The movie doesn’t explicitly say, but it seems to give us a hint. While in the hospital, Anna befriended a young girl dying from bone cancer. Her father became upset when Anna gave his daughter her necklace, a small crucifix. He subsequently found out that Anna had shared her faith with his daughter through facing her own mortality, and it upset him.

Though he was portrayed as agitated during the hospital scenes, at the end of the movie when Anna’s mother shares her testimony in church and someone in the crowd questions whether Anna had really been near death from her illness, the now grieving father of the cancer victim announces he has traveled from Massachusetts to Texas at his own expense, to corroborate her story. He claimed that Anna’s faith had given his daughter hope, and the courage to meet her imminent death.

Did Hollywood make up that last bit? How much of Anna’s story is true?

What if all of it is true?

The enigma of Abraham and Isaac

In my opinion, there is only so much one can learn from simply reading the Bible alone. To get real value out of the Bible, you have to participate in a Bible study.

Otherwise, it’s too easy to cheat. For example, for years I simply ignored verses or whole chapters in the Bible that didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t want to think about a God who wanted blood rituals or human sacrifices.

In fact, I tended to avoid the Old Testament, preferring the personification of God as being the loving, kind, and forgiving Jesus, not the apparently cruel and  vacillating Yahweh of the Old Testament. Once upon a time, I was kicked out of one Bible study group after saying that Yahweh and Jesus almost seemed to be two different Gods.

But later, in a different, much smaller group that studied the book of Genesis painstakingly line by line, I was forced to confront a chapter than had always bothered me. Bible study inspired me to turn the story into a chapter in my first published book.

In Divine Evolution there is a chapter called “Misunderstanding God”, which begins by quoting the first verse of Bob Dylan’s masterpiece Highway 61 Revisited, which reinterprets the story from Genesis 22:

Ah, God said to Abraham, Kill me a son
Abe say "Man, you must be puttin' me on."
God say, "No." Abe say, "What?"
God say, "You can do what you want, Abe, but 
The next time you see me comin' you'd better run.
Well Abe say, "Where you want this killin' done?"
God says, "Out on Highway 61."

The song gives Dylan’s colorful interpretation of the story of Abraham and Isaac — but the central fact remains unchanged. It was a great honor that the future Nobel Prize winner in Literature would so graciously grant me permission to quote him in my book for the nominal fee of $100 — well worth the price, in my opinion. Mick Jagger and Keith Richard charged me $5 more to quote a verse from one of their songs, and I won’t complain about that, either.

Loosely translated, the song describes what Genesis 22 says. No one can deny the obvious, which is that God ordered Abraham to go to the land of Moriah and offer his only son Isaac, as a human sacrifice. Now, why would Yahweh, assuming He exists and is a benevolent creator, make such a deplorable demand?

As literally told, the story seems horrific. Yahweh appears to be capricious and unimaginably cruel. And Abraham acts somewhat doltish. Why doesn’t Abraham protest, or even question whether or not God really wants Isaac to be killed and burned as an offering?

Keep in mind that later, in the book of Judges, Gideon asks for multiple signs with dew and fleece to confirm that he’s actually received God’s command. But with far more at stake Abraham is told to kill his son in a murder ritual, and he gets up early the next morning, without a word of protest, determined to follow those incomprehensible instructions from Yahweh without hesitation.

Why? It seems that at least these five possibilities exist, and maybe more.

  1. The story is false.  God, Abraham and Isaac could be fictional characters. We may safely assume that the incident never occurred.
  2. The story isn’t meant to be read literally, but is allegorical.
  3. The story is true, but nonsensical. God is both creator and destroyer.
  4. The story is (sort of) true and accurate. Abraham was delusional, and had murderous intent toward his own son. Only through divine intervention was a tragedy averted.
  5. The story is true, accurate, and extraordinarily concise. Only by reading previous chapters, and making a few logical assumptions, can we have the story make sense and be true.

Atheists and secular readers usually gravitate toward the first alternative as the most plausible and consider the last option as least likely.

Option #1 is the simplest, and therefore the easiest explanation to believe on face value. Did the author believe the story was true or know the story was false because he was making it up? As the published author of three novels as well as three nonfiction books, I can attest to the fact that writing nonfiction is much easier. Research is not hard. Making up a plausible story from one’s imagination is much more difficult. The third and fourth options are both problematic because they acknowledge the existence of a creator, but offer no explanatory value. Neither the story itself nor the subject make any sense.

And Christians ought to be troubled by all five of these options, shouldn’t they?

Not in my opinion. According to my theory (that originated in Bible study) the fifth and final option is the reasonable answer, and therefore is probably correct.

Of course that would mean the story is essentially true and accurate, but extremely concise because the author doesn’t want to say things that paint Abraham, the father of Israel. in a negative light.

The key to this interpretation lies in what isn’t there — any sort of justification or detailed explanation of why God would test Abraham this way.

After all, isn’t this the same Yahweh who abhors the worshipers of Baal for their child sacrifices?  Is it safe to assume Yahweh only loathes child sacrifices to other gods? Interestingly, the Bible prefaces its description of the incident found in Genesis Chapter 22 with these words: “Some time later God tested Abraham.”

Some time later than what? Herein lies the beauty of Bible study, chapter by chapter, line by line.

Read the last section of Genesis 21.  It tells the seemingly banal story of a treaty made between Abraham and Abimelech the Philistine, at the well called Beersheba. The account includes one rather odd detail. Abraham accuses some of Abimelech’s people of stealing a well he claims to have dug, and demands return of the well as part of the treaty. Abimelech denies any knowledge of the issue. Then for no apparent reason, to placate Abimilech and sweeten the deal (while swearing that he was being truthful) Abraham sets aside seven ewe lambs to give Abimilech as part of the deal.

Did Abraham rightfully own the well?  If so, why would he offer to pay for a well that he already owned?

It’s also very interesting to note what the author of Genesis 21 says about Abimilech’s reaction to the last minute inclusion of the well into the treaty — he was afraid of Abraham’s God, so he didn’t argue the facts. With the application of deductive reasoning, it seems that Abraham may not have only been the patriarch of the Hebrew tribes, he may have also been the father of tough negotiations and driving the hard bargain.  Genesis 21:33 doesn’t elaborate. It simply reads, “Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the eternal God.”

A plethora of questions spring into mind, such as….why were these two stories included in the Bible? What is the significance of the treaty with Abimelech?  Why mention the added detail of the disputed well? Could this be the reason God decided to test Abraham? 

And what the heck is a tamarisk tree?

Tamarisk tree, but not Abraham

My theory, which is sheer speculation based not on what’s in the Bible, but what isn’t there, nevertheless seems to provide the only rational explanation that might tie these two accounts together and “justify” the near sacrifice of Isaac.

If we ever do agree that my theory to explain the enigma of Abraham and Isaac is reasonable, there will be plenty of other stories need that need to be studied in order to gain some measure of understanding. The Bible is a mysterious book that describes a mysterious creator God. It is an indispensable tool in our search for truth, and answer to the existential questions.

Why were we created?  Is there a reason we exist? Does humanity serve some unknown purpose?  

Inquiring minds want to know…

The B/Z reaction, and the problem with peer review

Alan Turing

In 1951, the brilliant British scientist Alan Turing published a paper proposing a theory in chemistry called morphogenesis, which explains how cells are grouped together within an organism.

According to Turing, oscillating chemical reactions predictable by mathematical formula are partially responsible for organizing cells to form organs, bone, and tissue. Of course, Turing’s greatest claim to fame was his role as the leader of the team that remarkably broke the Enigma code during World War II, the secret German code once considered unbreakable, as depicted in the excellent film The Imitation Game.

Unfortunately, Turing committed suicide only three years after his paper on morphogenesis was published, after his prosecution for the “crime” of being homosexual. Alan Turing didn’t live to see the publication of evidence that would have validated his theory almost immediately.

Boris Belousov

Only a few years after Turing’s paper on morphogenesis was published, chemist Boris Belousov mixed potassium bromate with citric acid, discovering that the blended mixture changed colors as the fluids oscillated and chemicals reacted, which seems to prove Turing’s theory. And as these videos illustrate, the phenomenon is actually very easy to replicate by experiment.

However, when Belousov attempted to have his research published in 1951, the leading scientific journals flatly rejected his work, based on the assumption that the experiment results were “impossible.”

Only a single paragraph from Belousov’s analysis was finally published four years later, in 1955. Alan Turing was already dead. And so was the career of Boris Belousov,  so disgusted the editors of the leading journals had flatly rejected his work without even trying to replicate the results that he stopped performing scientific research.

Anatol Zhabotinsky

The reason his discovery is also named after Anatol Zhabotinsky is because the latter discovered Belousov’s research and performed a very similar experiment, successfully publishing the results of his work in 1968.

Zhabotinsky used a slightly different chemical solution than Belousov, substituting melonic acid for citric acid to increase the visibility of the reactions.

Because of the role he played in the discovery of the B/Z reaction, Zhabotinsky has been called the father of nonlinear chemical dynamics. But does that make Boris Belousov the grandfather?

A horribly flawed peer review process utterly failed Boris Belousov. The editors of science journals successfully asserted themselves as the arbiters of what may be considered acceptable science, and their power remains largely unchecked even today.

In reality, the contemporaries of Boris Belousov were not his peers. Fortunately (for the advancement of science, at least) Anatol Zhabotinsky was Belousov’s intellectual equal, and a true scientist who appreciated the power of discovery via experiment.

Rather than simply assuming that some process or claim  is “impossible,” perhaps we should seriously consider at minimum a cursory investigation of the alleged evidence. Quid est veritas?

Opinions may change over time, but truth never changes.

Peer review is a horribly flawed system, but unfortunately, it remains the best system we have.

Echolocating night-hunting aerial interceptors

ew_bookcoverThe book Evolutionary Wars contains a section bearing the title above. In layman’s terms, it describes the method by which bats hunt insects at night.

Author Levy writes,

The most difficult task for nocturnal airborne predators is to detect, locate, intercept and successfully engage a moving target.  To achieve success, the predator must acquire an almost continuous stream of information giving instantaneous data about the target’s size, velocity, direction and altitude. (pg. 188)

The complexity of the work involved for mere survival of the bat is astounding.  Flying is only one complex function. By its description echolocating is several — essentially using its “naturally” occurring sonar capability to navigate and hunt without being able to physically “see” it’s prey.

As part of a lengthy technical description of how bats eat insects, Levy says,

If the echo returns at a lower pitch, the target is moving away; if the echo is at a higher pitch, the target is approaching. Each ear picks up the echo at a slightly different intensity and time.  In this way, the bat’s minuscule on board computer, it’s 10 milligram brain automatically triangulates and gives in-flight directions for the intercept.

illustration by Paul Mirocha

illustration by Paul Mirocha

Charles Levy implies a slight in his opinion of this remarkable creature when he  describes the bat’s brain by weight.  Admittedly, only ten milligrams for a brain is only a tiny fraction of the weight of the brain an average human carries around in their head, is around three pounds.

On the other hand, I’ve learned there are some birds that seem to be a bit smarter than some people I know — maybe that’s why the expression “bird brain” has been frequently used as an insult because of the human’s advantage in brain size. But we don’t use most of our brains. And we often describe animals as “dumb”, but consider the fact that a bat can naturally accomplish a number of things which a human cannot, without help.

Sure, humans can fly, but not without airplanes or wingsuits. We can mimic the bat’s ability to echo locate by using sonar and radar equipment built by intelligent humans, but we can’t safely navigate by air, land, or water without being able to see where we are going or special devices specifically developed to assist us in those tasks.

By comparison, the bat’s brain seems to be perfectly designed for it’s body. After all, if a bat had a three pound brain, it wouldn’t be able to fly.

Do bats serve a purpose?  Of course they do.  Many different types of bats eat insects. Keeping the insect population under control seems to be a valuable function to provide the overall environment, especially since Rachel Carson’s inflammatory book started the movement that led to the ban on DDT.

Any birth defects allegedly prevented by the ban on DDT are easily negated by the estimated sixty million needless deaths due to malaria and other insect-born diseases estimated to have occurred since the ban on DDT was instituted by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1972.

DDT has been proved to be much safer than Carson’s book Silent Spring claimed. To prove how safe the pesticide actually is, some scientists have actually drunk supposedly lethal amounts of DDT on camera, with no ill effect. As reported in Ecoworld’s website by chemist Edward Wheeler, DDT is very safe and effective. However, for too many people, real truth doesn’t matter anymore.

Yet for those same people (and especially the eco-warriors), once they have made up their mind that something is bad for the environment, it becomes immutable. No matter how powerful or convincing that contradictory evidence may be, they can no longer be convinced of the truth.

Once they have become convinced that DDT is harmful and dangerous, neither logic, reason, or scientific evidence can convince them otherwise.

Those same people might also believe that carbon dating tests conducted in the late 1980s had proved the Shroud of Turin was a medieval forgery, and they will flatly reject compelling new evidence that established the 1988 tests used a contaminated sample – dismissing the new evidence without even looking at it.

Radical environmentalists would rather believe that the companies that produce the chemical pesticide are inherently evil, and they would rather poison people than help save them. Because of radical environmentalists, it’s no longer politically correct (or legal) to use DDT, and babies in south Florida are being born with horrible birth defects due to the Zika virus instead.

Although it’s also true that bats can carry rabies, the percentage of bats with rabies is quite small, which means the risk of getting rabies from a bat is a lot less than the risk of getting malaria or worse virus from a mosquito bite. So we need bats, because we need fewer mosquitoes.

We must love, cherish and protect our echolocating night-hunting aerial interceptors, because until common sense and solid scientific evidence convince the radical environmentalists that our best weapons against disease already exist, bats are about our best defense against mosquito-born diseases.

rachel-carson-and-silent-spring-radiogreenearth-488Though she probably only meant well, Rachel Carson is allegedly responsible for more deaths than Hitler, Stalin, and the Black Plague combined.

Sixty million people.

The road to Hell really must be paved with “good” intentions…and marked for traffic by “bad” science.

Eye of the beholder

images-2Eye of the beholder

Familiar with the expression “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”?

Various forms of the phrase date all the way back to Greece in the 3rd century B.C.

However, Margaret Wolfe Hungerford is generally credited with the first use of that exact phrase in her book Molly Bawn, originally published in 1878. The cliche simply means that different things will appeal to different people.

The eye is a collection of tissue that forms an organ and provides visual feedback from our physical world. The ability to see an adversary who is fighting blind is almost always gives an unsurmountable edge to the fighter with unimpaired vision.

Some biologists, notably Jerry Coyne, describe the eye as an imperfect creation or an organ that is easy to create. Coyne wrote,

The human eye, though eminently functional, is imperfect – certainly not the sort of eye an engineer would create from scratch. Its imperfection arises precisely because our eye evolved using whatever components were at hand, or produced by mutation. Since our retina evolved from an everted part of the brain, for example, the nerves and blood vessels that attach to our photoreceptor cells are on the inside rather than the outside of the eye, running over the surface of the retina. Leakage of these blood vessels can occlude vision, a problem that would not occur if the vessels fed the retina from behind. Likewise, to get the nerve impulses from the photocells to the brain, the different nerves must join together and dive back through the eye, forming the optic nerve. This hole in the retina creates a blind spot in the eye, a flaw that again would be avoidable with a priori design. The whole system is like a car in which all the wires to the dashboard hang inside the driver’s compartment instead of being tucked safely out of sight.

All of this bluster is to say how much better the Jerry Coyne eye would be as an improvement over the eye made by God. No engineer has produced an functionally operational equivalent eye, much less a superior version. There is no Jerry Coyne manufactured eye, or any artificial device that can replace a human eye and restores vision.

Science can do wonders with the existing organic material, but once the sight is gone, as of this date it cannot be restored. Yet Coyne claims science can make a better eye. So where is it?geordilaforge

Prosthetic devices may look real, but they do not restore vision. Unfortunately, those stylish Geordi Le Forge shades with the oil filter lenses don’t really exist – except as a prop from a television show. Apparently, the writers of Star Trek: the Next Generation seemed to realize the foolishness of suggesting artificial eyes would be superior to the ones we have, or else the entire crew would have worn the same apparatus.

Coyne isn’t the first biologist to foolishly claim the eye would be easy to make one or improve. In his summary statement at the Wistar conference , Dr. Waddington made the remarkably silly statement, “I think it is relatively simple to make an eye.” (pg 97)

Astonishingly, Ernst Mayr agreed with him, and the remaining participants were apparently too dumbfounded by the suggestion to respond. Mayr said,

Somebody quoted Darwin yesterday and, as with the Bible, you can quote him for one thing or another. In one place he said that it completely horrified him to think of the eye and how to explain it, and at another place he said once you assume that any kind of protein has the ability to react to light, once you admit that, then it is no problem whatsoever to construct an eye.

No problem at all to make an eye? Easy peasy? Respectfully, Drs. Waddington and Mayr, then why hasn’t science made one?

Dr. Trevor Woodhams and company at the local Woodhams Eye Clinic in Dunwoody do remarkable work using LASIK surgery to correct vision, but they are working with existing organic material. Corneas may be transplanted, but not entire eyes. Doctors do not perform artificial eye replacement with “bionic” eyes — that technology only exists in science fiction novels, movies, and television shows.

The latest and greatest medical miracles seem to be organs grown from stem cell tissue in a lab. Although the cultivated heart does not yet beat, it still qualifies as a significant scientific achievement. But if and when it does begin to beat, it cannot be considered an improvement over what God created. It is merely a replica, not a superior creation.

Perhaps they next can cultivate an eye. But it isn’t the same thing as making an eye from scratch, better than the real thing.

We cannot make a better heart, a better brain or a better eye. Our best efforts mimic God’s creation but never surpass it.

In his poem “Ode to a Grecian Urn”, Keats famously wrote, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty — that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

To recognize beauty for what it is, we must first be able to see it.

Microtubules of the brain

microtuble

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The bulk of the original content of this article was published at Examiner.com when I wrote as the Atlanta Creationism Examiner. Unlike previous articles from that source which were only re-formatted and lightly edited, new material has been added that has developed since the article was first published.]

Microtubules of the brain

How does our brain really work?  Are brain cells special?  How do brain cells store memories? Computers are modeled after the human brain, and like humans, they have both short-term and long-term memory.

For short-term memory, computer allocates space in a storage cache to “remember” information…for example, a calculator application accepts input from a user and must remember the numerical values entered, the operand (in order to know whether to add, subtract, multiply, divide, etc.) and then must store the result of the operation to be displayed as feedback. However, when the application ends or the computer is turned off, the short-term memory is wiped out. Lost forever.

As far as long-term memory is concerned for computers, a storage device is required, and the information is literally written to a computer chip, hard drive, flash drive, or some other permanent medium. If you store your data “in the cloud” it only means you’re using storage provided by someone else, which might be convenient, but not very secure. Literally, somewhere there must be a physical device which stores your information to be recalled and reused at a later date.

So with that in mind, how does a human brain record long-term memories?

If we simply assume, for the sake of argument, that short-term memories are merely chemical reactions in our physical brain cells (because that’s probably how a neuroscientist would describe them, but that isn’t the point of this article), it doesn’t answer the question of how we remember past events from thirty, forty, or more years ago. Where, and how, are those memories stored?2430001_z_memek16cau

One of the most interesting and brilliant movies I’ve ever watched was called Memento.

A brief summary of the plot: due to a severe blow to the head, the protagonist’s brain was injured to the point where he could no longer form new long-term memories. Any distraction that disrupted his attention span would cause the hero to forget where he was, what he’d been doing, and why he was there, but he was determined to hunt down (and kill) his wife’s murderer. Because his brain no longer worked normally but the protagonist remained very intelligent, he solved his long-term memory problem by tattooing clues to the identity of the the killer on his own body, so he couldn’t forget them.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. Director Christopher Nolan has made a number of excellent movies, but in my opinion, this is his very best work.

And here is the problem: I have no tattoos. How did my brain record and then recall the details of this movie so vividly, when at least a decade has passed since I last watched it? Exactly where, in my brain cells, do my memories live?

Anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff worked with Sir Roger Penrose while serving as associate director of Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson to develop a theory of consciousness. They have asserted that the mind is not simply a by-product of the biological activity of the human brain but something more.

Hameroff’s research focused on microscopic structures in brain and nerve cells called microtubules. Their claim to have discovered quantum vibrations in the microtubule structures in our brains have been published as a result of their work toward a theory of consciousness.

Dr. Hameroff said in an interview:

“The inside of the brain and nerve cells are comprised of girders or cylindrical structures called microtubules that self assemble to form the shape of a cell. They are the nervous system of a cell and process information internally to organize what happens within each cell and also how cells interact with other cells. These microtubules are actually very well designed as computational devices.”

Not only has our brain been compared to an organic computer, Dr. Hameroff has characterized each microtubule as a quantum micro-processor as he asks this pointed question: is DNA really a quantum computer? This prompts me to ask another interesting question of my own: like creation without a creator, can intricate and extraordinarily complex design really exist without a designer?

Primary source: The Day I Died, a BBC documentary.

 

Compounded improbabilities

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the final article originally published at Examiner.com in the series on the theory of evolution, on a favorite topic of mine: is it possible to quantify the luck that would be necessary to explain our existence, without invoking a supernatural Creator of all things? The secular approach to eliminating God from creation can take at least two different, diametrically opposed forms. The goal of both is to eliminate a problem called fine-tuning of this universe, described in this article.

First, there is the multiverse hypothesis, which improves the probability of “this” (successful) universe by speculating an unknown number of unsuccessful universes were also created at the Big Bang anomaly. The other option is that it may be argued that the creation of the universe was actually deterministic (Grand Unified Theory, or GUT) assuming that this universe had no choice except to exist, and to enable complex life to exist.]

Compounded improbabilities

martin_reesCosmologist Sir Martin Rees has declared that “just six numbers” dictate the nature of our universe. For clarity and ease of discussion, these six values shall be referred to as “cosmic factors” for the remainder of this article.

Apparently to avoid giving a divine Creator any credit, Rees said,

These six numbers constitute a ‘recipe’ for a universe. Moreover, the outcome is sensitive to their values: if any one of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life. Is this tuning just a brute fact, a coincidence? Or is it the providence of a benign Creator? I take the view that it is neither. An infinity of other universes may well exist where the numbers are different.

It’s the old “multiple universe” trick, as Maxwell Smart would say. But, as with any theory, there are problems. According to Rees, the six cosmic factors are:

  1. omega (value=1) to represent the amount of matter in the universe.
  2. Epsilon (value=0.007) represents the degree to which atomic nuclei are bound together.
  3. “D” is the number of dimensions (value=3).
  4. “N” is the strength of electrical forces that bind atoms, divided by the force of gravity:(value=1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).
  5. “Q” is a number that represents two fine-tuned fundamental energies (value=1/100,000).
  6. Lambda (value=0.7) represents a measurement of anti-gravity in the universe.

Also according to Rees, the slightest change in value in any of the cosmic factors would result in a universe that would not support life. One less zero for the value of “N”, for example, would mean this universe failed. His proposed alternative to supernatural creation for resolving the statistical improbability of our “Goldilocks” universe is an infinite number of “universes”, also known as the “multiverse.”

A simple formula (using the right values, of course) should produce the cumulative improbability of the combined cosmic factors, expressed as a single value:

Probability(Universe) = Probability(Omega) * Probability(Epsilon) * Probability(N) * Probability(D) * Probability(Q) * Probability(Lambda)

Even if the probability value of variation in each universal factor were as low as one percent, the total improbability of the Big Bang producing our perfect universe are considerably lower because of the compounded risk of variation in any one of the six — not unlike the odds against winning a lottery [the following example is for illustrative purposes only, not actual values]:

.01 * .01 * .01 * .01 * .01 * .01 = 0.000000000001 chance of total success

Thus for life to exist, we must “win” more than one lottery.

The likelihood of variation in any cosmic factor is probably much greater than one in a hundred. Therefore, we may reasonably conclude that odds against the origin of our universe were ridiculously low. But even if my simplistic example were accurate, an undirected origin of life would be even more improbable because the improbable universe was first required.

The odds against the origin of life increase exponentially — the improbabilities do not merely aggregate; they are compounded because the existence of life as we know it is actually predicated on the existence of the universe that supports it. According to (co-discoverer of DNA) Francis Crick, the random assembly of six billion pieces of information found in the double helix should have taken several billion years to form, leaving practically no time for evolution theory to work its magic.

Francis Crick wrote,

An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going. (Life Itself, pg 88)

Naturally, I aspire to be an honest man. Crick proposed a hypothesis called directed panspermia to solve the time problem without invoking a divine Creator, effectively moving the problem from earth into outer space.

Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Ilya Prigogine claimed,

The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident is zero.

Even if Prigogine was wrong and the statistical probability of undirected life was an incredibly small number but slightly greater than zero, it would be further reduced when compounded by the improbability of our anthropic universe. To properly evaluate “the Big Scheme” of things, life cannot be separated from the environment that supports it.

We must also ask: even if our universe could have “accidentally” happened through a fluke related to quantum mechanics, why did entropy fail to break down the chemical compounds before they had time to complete assembly of the first form of life?

Speciation theory allegedly describes the undirected mutations that occur through the mechanism of sexual reproduction.

After countless generations, two compatible, paired organisms diversify solely through the mechanisms of sexual reproduction and turn into organisms as unlike as oak trees, sperm whales and humans — all from the same single, original cell called LUCA.

This concept is difficult to quantify into any numerical probability.

For sake of argument, let’s say it’s a fifty/fifty probability — essentially a coin flip, whether a vampire bat could have evolved into existence without intelligent direction. Please consider the complex ability by which they are able to fly by night to hunt: echo location navigation.  And take into consideration the fact that a flying mammal and an aquatic mammal possess this same capability and ask yourself why we should assume these two wildly disparate creatures in most respects should share a common ancestor.  Simply throw away the concept of irreducible complexity, at least for a moment, in order to consider the whole problem.

Even in that scenario, that flip of the coin (which gave us dolphins, whales, and vampire bats) had to happen after two unimaginably unlikely events happened in the right order. The improbabilities of the anthropic universe and abiogenesis being created by nothing adversely affect the odds of speciation happening by random chance, further compounding its improbability factor.

No matter how hard you try, the numbers just don’t logically add up.

 

Supernatural evidence

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is (I think) the fifth installment in the series originally published several years ago, during my tenure as the Atlanta Creationism Examiner. Minor editing and re-formatting  to accommodate the differences between the old and new platform have been done on every article, but the original content has otherwise remained unchanged. ]

superman-3d-artSupernatural evidence

We have examined the few real “facts” of evolution. Then we reviewed the conjecture about evolution expressed in the theories of Charles Darwin.

Then I suggested an alternative to Darwin’s theory of natural selection (evolution theory) which I have called Iterative Creation (IC).

And of course, we talked about DNA as a unique and dynamically generated source code for the creation of a new living organism.

The remaining question left unasked thus far: is evolution theory clearly superior to IC?  Are the theories equally unprovable, or does IC actually hold some advantage over evolution theory?

The only way evolution theory can be considered superior to IC is by resorting to scientism. By asserting that evidence somehow “belongs” to science would imply IC can’t use the same evidence, presumably because a different standard for scientific method is applied to each theory. At the heart of any scientific argument against any form of creation lies the postulate that a supernatural God is simply impossible to believe.

This is a very important point.

God is derisively referred to “an invisible man in the sky” by my atheist friends, as a legend or fairy tale. Tales of NDEs and other supernatural accounts are all lumped together and collectively treated like hearsay anecdotes told by Aunt Martha, flatly dismissed as impossible. Ghost stories and psychic predictions are all believed myths and frauds. No exceptions. Interestingly, scientists claim to be able to “predict” the past by examining old bones and guessing they’ll find something in the fossil record to support their prediction.

On the other hand, when someone otherwise believed rational declares to have experienced the inexplicable, their story is discarded as unreliable or unscientific. Keep in mind, the only proof for evolution is allegedly found by super scientist-detectives that don’t trust their own eyes, but trust the sheer genius of their own intellect to devise some clever explanation for what they cannot see and cannot be observed because it allegedly happens over such a long period of time. Think more “Sherlock Holmes” than “Dick Tracy.”

Yet their evidence is not as convincing as some would lead us to believe. Furthermore, no two tales of supernatural experience are created equal.

Some are purely anecdote in nature. For that very reason, the three examples I shall present for the reader’s consideration will not include my personal anecdotes of ghost experiences.  While many of these personal experiences were witnessed by at least one other person (who now holds a PhD), there are even better examples to share.

Nevertheless, there IS evidence of allegedly supernatural phenomena that CAN be investigated according to the scientific method.

The first example of compelling evidence of supernatural activity was first told in my article recounting the apparently miraculous tilma of Juan Diego.guadalupe1

The following information about the tilma should be easily verified or investigated:

  • Two fibers from the image were examined by the director of the Chemistry department at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Heidelberg.  He concluded “no coloring agent of any kind [existed] in the fibers.”
  • Scientists using a microscope examined the image and declared no visible brush strokes were present.
  • Using an ophthalmoscope, Dr. Rafael Lavoignet examined the eyes in the image and announced in the cornea, a human figure could be seen that had been imposed with the correct optical imagery produced by a “normal” eye.  The date the image was created has been established as 1531.  The nature of corneal eye reflections were not scientifically verified until 300 years passed.  The image Dr. Lavoignet found has been identified as Juan Diego.
  • In 1962, an optometrist and his wife magnified a photograph of the image 25 times and announced they had discovered two more faces reflected in Mary’s eyes: those of Bishop Ramirez and translator Juan Gonzalez, also identified from period portrait paintings of the men.
  • Professor Philip Callahan examined the image using infrared technology in 1979.  The professor, an expert in the field of infrared radiation and an accomplished painter, wrote about the image on the tilma, “it’s color rendering and the preservation of its brightness over the centuries are inexplicable.  There is no sizing and no protective over-varnish present on the image.  Without sizing the tilma should have rotted centuries ago, and without protective varnishing the picture should have been ruined long ago by prolonged exposure to candle smoke and other pollutants.  Under high magnification, the image shows no detectable sign of fading or cracking—an inexplicable occurrence after 470 years of existence.”
  • The normal life span of such a garment is twenty years.  We should be able to observe its decay unless clever replication is periodically performed and substitution done in continuous practice over 500 years.
  • Must Dr. Lavoignet, Professor Callahan and the other medical professionals involved be wearing their white lab coats before their results pass scrutiny by the scientific community?

These men put their personal reputations on the line by making declarations that logically make no sense. Quite frankly, their claims defy all scientific explanation. What makes evidence scientific?  Are not opinions obtained from multiple independent medical professionals worth anything?

goldflwr3For our second example, let’s revisit my recent post about Astral travel.

If the facts are accurate and true as reported, then this information demands some form of scientific rebuttal or explanation.

To categorically reject this information as false without an investigation implies serious charges that call into question the integrity of law enforcement officials who were directly involved in a murder investigation, without evidence or justification other than personal bias.

A brief summary of the facts about the psychic who allegedly stopped a serial killer were:

  • She gave law enforcement an accurate and detailed physical description of the killer.
  • Correctly identified the killer’s means of entry into the Phillipe house – the chair on the A/C unit.
  • Correctly provided the name of the killer’s girlfriend and her place of work.
  • Correctly predicted the killer’s gambling problems contributed to motive.
  • She incredibly predicted somehow of the exact wording of the “River Rat” description the old woman would give after his next future attack.

If the information in the program was not true, then it would mean:

  • Police Chief Bill Landry participated in a hoax in a case involving a serial killer.
  • (Psychic Rose) Kopp was actually an accomplice of the killer.
  • The victim who wrote “River Rat” on the notepad must have collaborated with her assailant and Kopp.
  • Kopp must have visited Louisiana in the past in spite of no evidence to indicate she’d ever been there.

Granted, the source of this information was a television program called Psychic Investigators, shown on the Biography Channel. The police chief was not providing sworn testimony in a court of law.

On the other hand, the facts of the case should be easily verifiable through additional research, court transcripts, interviews and sworn affidavits. If the psychic involved could somehow be proved a fraud, perhaps a convicted serial killer might gain his release from Death Row.

For my third and final example of supernatural evidence, let’s reconsider my favorite NDE account, the one of Pam Reynolds. It occurred while she had full medical instrumentation monitoring her vital signs while every drop of blood was drained from her head, with absolutely no detectible neurological activity. Yet she overheard a conversation between her doctors and accurately conveyed what had been said while they were slicing open her leg to tap her femoral artery in order to drain all the blood from her body.

Her neurosurgeon Dr. Spetzler said, “I don’t have an explanation for what happened [to Pam].  I don’t know how it’s possible to happen considering the physiological condition the patient is in.  At the same time, I’ve seen so many things I can’t explain that I can’t be so arrogant as to be able to say there’s no way it could happen.”

These are the words of Pam’s attending physician during surgery.  He does not appear to consider the possibility that Pam’s story was untrue or a hallucination. Dr. Spetzler only asserts that he cannot explain what happened during her surgery. Because Pam seemed absolutely thrilled by her experience, it seems hard to believe Dr. Spetzler feared a suit for medical malpractice with the claim the surgery had been performed while she suffered anesthesia awareness.

By no means are these three the only examples of supernatural accounts with compelling documentation and evidence to support their veracity.  They are three examples that should be easily verified or debunked with further investigation. Evidence of another realm of supernatural knowledge and activity clearly exists.

It’s not incumbent upon me to prove these accounts are true.  I already believe in a supernatural God. It is my contention that each of them must be false to support any contention that a supernatural God is impossible to believe. That hardly seems fair — my work is done, but the those in disbelief of the supernatural still have theirs cut out for them. But Death is unfair, or very fair, depending on your perspective.  Whoever said life had to be fair?

You don’t have to believe any of these stories are true. However, to successfully remain an atheist, you must believe all of them are not, and cannot, be true.

Astral travel

obeAstral travel

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is another favorite piece from my days as the Atlanta Creationism Examiner. Had to put it together rather quickly this morning because a link to it was embedded in the next article in the ongoing series on evolution.]

Astral travel (or astral projection) is supposedly the ability for a person to enter into a trance so deep they are able to travel great distances without their physical body. Sounds impossible to believe, doesn’t it?

This writer has to admit to a fair amount of skepticism about this ability, having never experienced it personally.  Does that mean the ability doesn’t exist, or does it only mean that this one particular individual has not personally experienced it?

What evidence (if any) exists to support such an outlandish claim?

Psychic Rose Kopp lives in Honolulu, Hawaii. She claims to have an ability to leave her body and visit remote locations, which she does occasionally to assist the police in solving a crime. After a grisly murder was committed in Gonzales, Louisiana, a childhood friend of Police Chief Bill Landry suggested that he ask Kopp for help obtaining information about the robbery and murder of elderly Lillian Phillipe, the third in a series of similar crimes.

The serial killer left no fingerprints or DNA, making the police very frustrated with the lack of progress in the case. Kopp agreed to help. She asked Landry to send a picture of the victim and one personal item the victim had touched. Three more homicides were committed in Landry’s jurisdiction before Kopp received the package from Landry.  The killer was increasing the pace of his murders.

Kopp describes astral travel as a shamanic journey that she embarks upon by entering a trance induced by repetitive chanting accompanying a rhythmic drumbeat.  According to Kopp, she left her body during a trance and in her mind she flew over Diamond Head, across the Pacific, California, Texas, and finally arrived in Gonzales, Louisiana, at the crime scene of the Lillian Phillipe murder. There she claims that she was able to “see” the killer and tell Landry he was a white male, about five foot nine and powerfully built.  She told Landry the killer had entered the house through the roof that he reached by placing a wrought iron chair on top of the air conditioner.

Landry’s investigation shockingly confirmed the details Kopp gave from “visiting” Phillipe’s house. The chair was still there. Because those three additional murders had occurred between the time Kopp’s help was requested and her receipt of the related items from Landry connected to the victim Phillipe, in desperation the police chief asked Kopp to remotely use her psychic abilities to visit Louisiana a second time, hoping to obtain additional information about the killer.

On Kopp’s second “astral” visit, she claimed the killer’s car contained betting slips indicative of a gambling problem.  The FBI profile of the killer had predicted that excessive gambling debts would be the motive for the robberies. Kopp also said the killer’s girlfriend worked in a diner and relayed that her name sounded like “Cindy” or “Candy”.  She saw a vision of a severed cow’s head immediately after seeing the vision of the girlfriend at work.  The jarring image almost startled her out of her trance. These images made absolutely no sense to Kopp.

But as a lifelong resident of Ascension Parish, Chief Landry knew the history of the area well and they made perfect sense to him.  He knew an old slaughterhouse had closed that was near a diner.  The old slaughterhouse had used a cow’s head like she described to advertise the business. Asked by Chief Landry if she could add anything to the killer’s description, Kopp mysteriously said she saw an old woman’s hand write “River Rat” on a notepad.

The very next time the killer struck, he shot an elderly woman in the face and her husband in the chest.  Both victims barely survived.  The wife was asked if she could describe her assailant.  Because of her facial injury she was unable to speak.  She took a notepad and wrote the words “River Rat” on it.

How could this be possible? How could Rose Kopp have accurately predicted the exact same words a future victim would write before the crime occurred?

An informant’s tip led the police to suspect a man named Daniel Blank, a self-employed mechanic with a waitress girlfriend named Cindy and a known gambling problem.  Blank matched the physical description given by Rose Kopp almost perfectly.  He was arrested and convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death.

If the information provided in the program Psychic Investigators on the Biography Channel was true, Rose Kopp amazingly provided the police with the following information:

  • Gave them an accurate and detailed physical description of the killer.
  • Correctly identified the killer’s means of entry into the Phillipe house – the chair on the A/C unit.
  • Correctly provided the name of the killer’s girlfriend and her place of work.
  • Correctly noted the killer’s gambling problems.
  • She incredibly knew somehow of the “River Rat” description the old woman would give after his next attack left a witness.

If the information in the program was not true, then it must mean that:

  • Police Chief Bill Landry participated in a hoax in a case involving a serial killer, seriously jeopardizing the ability to bring justice to the murderer.
  • Kopp was actually an accomplice of the serial killer.
  • The victim who wrote “River Rat” on the notepad must have collaborated with both her assailant and Rose Kopp.
  • Rose Kopp must have visited Louisiana and the specific locations in question at some point in the past, in spite of no evidence to indicate she’d ever been there.

Critically analyzing this information seems the prudent course of action. However, healthy skepticism should not lead one to automatically conclude Kopp and Landry’s stories are simply impossible to believe, because there is investigable and verifiable claims being made in this account.

How could anyone who believes in the foundational premises of evolution — that something could come from nothing and inanimate matter could become alive without a miracle — summarily dismiss information such as this without any real consideration or further investigation? If out-of-body experiences can actually happen, isn’t that a precursor of the near death experience or actually becoming a ghost?  We know that a large percentage of the world’s population believes they have had a NDE experience themselves. If it is truly possible, does astral travel offer some semblance of proof that our spirit and physical body can be separated?

Is it the spirit itself evidence that we were created in God’s image?

[Author’s update: Daniel Blank remains on Death Row in Louisiana, awaiting execution for the murders reported in this story.]

Iterative creation

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Fourth installment in the series of articles originally published as the Atlanta Creationism Examiner about existential questions and the theory of evolution.]

DivineEvolutionCover_eBook_finalIterative creation

A new Facebook friend sent me a link to an article by a scientist advocating his version of Divine Evolution, another reason I now think iterative creation might have been a better name for my own personal philosophical beliefs.

Stuart Kauffman wrote in the Edmonton Journal,

I believe that we no longer need a Creator God, we need God’s creativity.

In other words, Kauffman believes in a form of theistic evolution ala Francis Collins, where we have a creator God who doesn’t really do anything but get the ball of evolution rolling, more deist than theist.

Creation theory is concerned about the origin of things. If there is reason to believe that a supernatural entity of extraordinary intellect caused our universe to happen, why not believe that same Creator is directly responsible for the origin of life? Why would God put in all the work to set up the universe for life but lose interest before creating it?  What exactly are we saying here? Do “we” believe that God suffers from some sort of Attention Deficit Disorder, or what?

The so-called facts of evolution and the scientific evidence used to support my hypothesis of iterative creation are one and the same.

The conjecture about evolution is where the theories significantly differ. Iterative creation begins with a bang. Actually, it begins with the Big Bang. The Big Bang Theory makes sense, mostly because scientific evidence like redshift and CMB support it. It only leaves us with one real question: from where did the matter come?

Matter “exploded” with such great ferocity that the expansion of the universe began over 14 billion years ago continues to this day. How long was this dense, hot clump of pre-matter just sitting around before it decided to create the universe? It’s interesting to note the Bible reports in the first chapter of Genesis that God spoke and said, “Let there be light.” The Bible is claiming that God created matter to create our universe — simply by speaking.

I’ll be the first person to admit, that sounds pretty hard to believe — pun intended. But science tells us that plants turn into people once enough time passes, without any sort of help.  Is that really easier to believe than an invisible God?  Additional information offering very compelling support for belief in a supernatural God is readily available and has been reported upon previously, but my argument to support belief in a supernatural creator is best left for the next article, titled Supernatural evidence.

Science tells us light equals energy.  Energy equals matter. The Bible is essentially telling us that the first thing God created was matter. That makes perfect sense. You can’t make anything without raw materials. This universe, ideal for producing abundant life on Earth, is unbelievably improbable. Physicist Sir Martin Rees could tell you all about Just Six Numbers. He and most other cosmologists agree these cosmological values show how remarkably improbable it is that our universe originated by sheer luck or random chance.

In an article for American Thinker titled “Does science refute God?”, Vasko Kohlmayer presented the cosmological or First Cause argument favoring belief in a creator God. The Kalam Cosmological Argument goes as follows:

Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

The universe began to exist.

Therefore, the universe must have a cause.

This universe is required before we can get to the origin of matter.

The only answer Richard Dawkins seems to have mustered in response to the First Cause argument uses circular logic; he insists if God created the universe, then somebody must have created God. His argument completely ignores any concept of eternity. More recently he’s also entertained the notion Lawrence Krauss asserts, that an invisible creator God is preposterous, but quantum mechanics shows us that a universe from nothing created by invisible particles is easily believable.

Once matter, stars, and planets exist, complex chemical elements become stardust that sprinkles over the Earth. These chemical elements are essential to form life. Who knew Joni Mitchell was right?  She wrote the lyrics, We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon. She’s obviously a very smart woman.  And her song begins: Well I came upon a child of God

Stars are like cosmic volcanoes, spewing essential chemicals absolutely necessary for life into the universe.  These chemical elements bond to form molecules, which in turn combine to form nucleotides.

Following specific rules of recombination for nucleotides, “Lego” like building blocks assemble genes sequenced together into a unique single DNA strand of six billion coded instructions, all residing within a single living cell.  That does not happen by accident or random chance, my friend.

Richard Dawkins first advocated his theory of replicators in his book The Selfish Gene. It’s a simple theory: replicators are “anything in the universe of which copies are made.”

Iterative creation asserts that replicators do not really exist, because nature does not produce carbon copies of anything.  This information is easily observed using the tools of modern science. Every living organism is unique, conforming to a specific genetic blueprint.

Replication makes exact copies.  However, very human has unique DNA. Every human has unique fingerprints.  Each finger has a unique print.

Unique DNA is not limited to humans. According to science, any dog on the planet may be identified by DNA found in his poop.

DNA is really amazingly organized information, if you think about it. dna-structure-and-bases

We have learned through analysis of DNA culled from various organisms that each distinct morphological type has a unique pattern, and within that pattern each individual has a unique algorithm that differentiates that creature from every other known creature on Earth.

Evolution theory is only assumed true (and we recently learned that making flawed assumptions often leads to erroneous conclusions) because we know a very few “facts” and extrapolate beyond the limits of imagination simply because of the perception there isn’t viable alternative in the form of competing theory. That’s only because iterative creation hasn’t been seriously considered by anyone (but me) to date. Creationism in general is treated synonymously with Young Earth Creation (YEC), which cannot be true if the scientific tests we know as radio carbon dating are accurate for the first 50,000 years. Iterative creationism is not constrained by time.

Furthermore, the fossil record contains every indication that modern life is quite different from earlier and more ancient life forms. Unless the Bible references to “leviathan” and “behemoth” are references to dinosaurs, it’s reasonable to assume the Bible omitted mention of dinosaurs because its writers were unaware of its existence. As far as we know, mankind wasn’t around when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

But is it reasonable to assume humans descended from dinosaurs through a number of intermediate stages when the only means of produced a new generation was sexual reproduction?

The argument about the Bible and YEC is irrelevant to iterative creation. The value of Noah isn’t when it happened or whether the flood actually occurred according to the geological record, but the important fact to realize is that the Bible is reporting an incident of mass extinction.

Creation theory is often mocked by atheists because God is perceived as magic.  Its critics are quick to point out perceived errors and contradictions in the Bible and point out that the six days of creation are demonstrably untrue. Assuming radio carbon dating is anywhere close to accurate. I’m prepared to assume the margin of error is not plus or minus several billion years. Yet in evolution theory, time itself is magic.

Please consider this simple, elegant alternative to YEC (Young Earth Creationism) and Darwinian evolution: after creating the universe by speaking in the Big Bang anomaly, God formed the first living organism, solving the problem of abiogenesis (we have no idea how it happened.) The breath of life from a supernatural Creator caused inanimate matter to become animated. It’s much more logical to believe the origin of life happened on purpose than by accident. Iterative Creation also solves the “insufficient time” problem for DNA to form, eliminating the need for silly hypotheses like panspermia to move the problem of life off the Earth to give DNA more time to evolve. Simple life came first in order for the building blocks to come in proper sequence. Plants had to precede animals because animals need plants for food, to produce oxygen, shade, etc.  Interestingly, the order in which life emerged in the Bible according to Genesis Chapter 1 essentially matches the fossil record.

God made a blueprint, sexually paired the creature with male and female, and continued creating. Iterative creation hypothesis differs from biblical teaching in that life is not believed to be “perfect” from the onset as created by a perfect Creator, but more like a divine experiment. Each day of creation was not delineated by the revolution of the Earth on its axis, but punctuated by a period of extinction. Therefore, by human standards, our “experiment” and God’s “day of rest” may have only started between 6,000 – 10,000 years ago, but the Earth may have formed much earlier.

Why say “may” instead of “was?” Because I don’t know with absolute certainty when the Earth was created. I know that a consensus of scientists agree that the planet is around 4 billion years old, but I also realize that these are experts who believe they know certain things, not unlike how I believe that I know God exists.

southernprose_cover_CAFGThe creator God artiste periodically cleaned the palette of creation and formed new life.  The biblical account implies perfection of God is reflected in the finished product of creation. Dinosaurs were simply models, or prototypes, if you will.  Why do we assume each animal form is a “one and done” proposition?

A perfect creator is not required to create perfectly. Six mass extinctions create problems for evolutionary biologists – a lot of chlorine gets periodically poured into the gene pool.

Evolutionists proposed a theory called punctuated equilibrium or explosive evolution to explain the rather obvious periodic episodes of eradication and renewal.

The problem with punctuated equilibrium is that the theory strongly implies innate intellect is somehow programmed into our DNA. When asked directly how species came to rapidly diversify and repopulate the Earth with new organisms in what scientists term “the Cambrian explosion”, evolution expert Dr. Michael Ruse suggested that the remaining organisms somehow recognized environmental niches existed and evolved to fill them. With all due respect for Dr. Ruse, that sounded remarkably flippant, and not unlike the ridiculous plot in one of my favorite Monty Python skits.

I wish I’d been ready to propose my hypothesis of iterative creation as an alternative at the time.

The overall weakness of secular evolution is that obvious interdependencies must be denied so that theory can be separated from hypothesis and conjecture. Therefore evolution theory is unconcerned with abiogenesis.

Conversely, iterative creation acknowledges that the Big Bang, abiogenesis, speciation and natural selection must be explicable in order for life to exist.

My theory asserts this occurs when God creates a base pair of “species” (a term abused and bastardized by scientism advocates to muddy the waters). God didn’t have to individually create polar bear, grizzly bear, sun bear, etc.  He only needed to create the genetic blueprint for bear in male and female form. Afterward nature could take its course.

God created the dinosaurs. Then God apparently decided he didn’t like them and essentially wiped them off the face of the Earth.  Given the awesome power required to perform a supernatural act of creation (or destruction), I’d have to say it’s God’s prerogative. It seems logical to assume, after five major extinctions followed by emergence of almost exclusively new life forms, that some sort of divine plan is being executed to perfection.

It’s perfectly natural to believe God, the very creator of Nature, would use natural means to perform supernatural feats.  In fact, a future article will offer natural explanations for the ten plagues of Egypt.  God may work in mysterious ways — why not use natural methods?

Does it make sense that God might use evolution to shape new life from existing DNA? I suppose God does not have to actively create new creatures because he created a purposeful vehicle called sexual reproduction to accomplish His work without intervention.

Even variations within a morphological form occur; we call them ring species. Perhaps even mutations beyond what should be considered a species are possible. If the term species actually still meant something, we might be able to tell. Only God can say how he created life. Humans simply don’t live long enough to witness a mass extinction and the emergence of new life. The only thing we really know is that life exists.

Life is remarkable, diverse, wondrous, and incredibly resilient.

Apparently by design.