This online institute is designed to give a brief analysis and discussion of all scientific disciplines through the lens of a biblical world view. +++ SDG +++

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Biology wing Lessons # 18 - # 28

            Welcome to the biology wing of the institute.  These lessons #18 through #28 will give you an amazing tour through much of what Biological evidence has to say about the validity of Scripture

Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #18
"The History of Biology"
So here we are in the biology lab with our lab coats on and our Bunsen burners blazing. We are going to talk about biology and in order to do this, I will need to speak with scientific jargon. I am not a professional scientist, but I do love science and have been a student of science since introduced to it in grammar school.  So please have patience as I get into my scientific geek mode.  And if I cause more questions than I answer, please feel free to send your questions in and I will do my best to answer them or we can seek the answers together.    

We are going to talk about biology in the coming months and how it proclaims the Creator.  But first I would like to briefly discuss the type of science biology is.  It is one of the historical sciences along with archaeology (which we spent most of last year discussing), geology, paleontology, astronomy, cosmology, philology, and history.  We will explore some of those other “ologies” in later issues. The aim of these sciences is to describe phenomena of the past and reconstruct their causes.  They therefore differ from experimental science based on repeatable empirical evidence.  Much of biology functions in the empirical area as well, but biology is primarily a historical science.  This type of science has three main elements: description of a phenomenon; developing a general theory about its cause; and applying this theory to specific observable facts.

On that list above was paleontology: the study of prehistoric life.  Paleontology is very interesting and valuable when it speaks of things that have taken place in the past 6000 years.  When we think of paleontology we often think fossils.  However the study of ancient life spends most of its time and effort on the identity, origin, environment, and evolution of life and because of this, expends most of its energy on “millions of years” and eras like Cenozoic, Mesozoic, Paleozoic, Precambrian or Proterozoic.  The issues of time and the fossil record are issues that I will address in future articles.  I feel it very important for anyone who studies any of these sciences to be well educated in the theories and hypotheses and all of the accepted rules for collecting and categorizing specimens for this field of study which should be followed.  I will also point out that speaking of evolution and millions of years as fact is a position of faith that I choose not to hold.  Whatever else I have to say about paleontology is either covered in other sciences, or is, in my humble estimation, fictitious speculation about a nonexistent ancient past that is, as I said, a position of faith.  The evidence can also be evaluated through a biblical worldview that holds to a divine 6-day creation that took place a little over 6000 years ago.  This too is a position of faith but we, unlike those who hold to scientism, acknowledge our bias.

Now that I have said all I plan to say about paleontology, let’s jump to biology.  The concept of biology as a single coherent field arose in the early 1800's when the term biology in its modern sense starts to appear in numerous scientific publications.  The word was coined in 1800 by Karl Friedrich Burdachthe.  The biological sciences emerged from traditions of medicine and natural history.  We could go as far back as 50 AD when Pliny the Elder published his 37 volume "Historia Naturalis."  We could also point to the work of many early philosophers like Alcmaeon of Croton who in 520 BC distinguished veins from arteries and discovered the optic nerve, or to ancient Egyptian medicine which included dentistry, and to the works of Aristotle of the Greeks, and Galen in the ancient Greco-Roman world.  This ancient work was further developed in the Middle Ages by Muslim physicians and scholars such as Avicenna 980-1037 AD.

So what is modern day biology? Simply put, it is the study of life.  From the smallest microbe to the largest whale, life is a miraculous thing. In order to study life we must define what is living and what is not.
Life can respond; life is organized; it works, grows, reproduces, responds to stimuli and adapts. These characteristics form the basis of the study of biology.  The study of the miracle of life, in both plant and animal forms, reveal an astounding amount of genetic information that point not to a common ancestor, but to a common Creator.  As we discuss biology, we will need to touch on the topics of cosmology (the origin of life), time and dating methods, mathematics and chemistry, as well as genetics, botany, zoology, and anthropology. your test tubes.  I realize this may be a bit more than you bargained for. Don’t worry, I will try to keep the jargon to a minimum and will do my best to explain it when I use it.  Have a blessed 2011 and we will see you next month as we examine cosmology, chemistry and thermodynamics in our discussion about biology.

Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #19
" The Tools of Biology"

Welcome back to the lab; put on your lab coat; take a seat and get comfortable.  We are going to talk about biology and to do this we need to examine and define cosmogony (the study of origins), math & logic, thermodynamics and chemistry.  This is just like if we were studying automobiles, we would be addressing auto parts, methods of propulsion, tools and transportation.

So let’s start with cosmogony, as defined by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  “Cosmology is the study of the structure and changes in the present universe, while the scientific field of cosmogony is concerned with the origin of the universe. Observations about our present universe may not only allow predictions to be made about the future, but they also provide clues to events that happened long ago when...the cosmos began. So—the work of cosmologists and cosmogonists overlaps.”  And because of this, I often incorrectly say cosmology when I mean cosmogony…..what fun!  When studying origins (which includes biology), we have an eye witness account in Genesis.  However we can also examine all the observable evidence and see how it proclaims its creator.

Psalm 139 verse 14 tells us that we are “Fearfully and wonderfully made.” When we examine God’s creation and see how vastly and irreducibly complex life is, it becomes illogical and irrational to believe that something so complex could exist by accident and without purpose.  Here are some examples:

Mathematics & Logic: We will discuss logic in more detail when we address the topic of philosophy.  Something cannot be both true and false at the same time and the field of mathematics is bound by the rules of logic.  Mathematics gives us a way to measure and understand how everything in the universe functions.  This order allows us to develop fields such as chemistry, physics, geometry, and algebra—fields that are imperative in understanding and defining life.  This is a simple basic example of how the benevolent Creator has organized His creation in a way that is logical and understandable so that we can explore and learn from it to see just how amazing He is.  It also allows us to live in a universe with some predictable norms, giving us time to enjoy His great creation as well.  We can also use mathematics to estimate the statistical impossibility that life might spontaneously generate from non-life, resulting in a number so infinitesimally small, that to believe it, is an act of faith.

Chemistry: We all remember the periodic table of elements from high school chemistry which gives us all the base elements of creation.  This science explains mathematically how matter changes and explains how different elements on the periodic table interact with each other.  Chemistry explains the composition, behavior, structure, and properties of all matter, as well as the changes it undergoes during chemical reactions.  It is because of this science that we can understand with great complexity how living things function.  Here is one simple example of a layman’s description (me) of how a white blood cell works within our immune system.  First the body produces them in our bone marrow. Then these cells actually kind of roll along the walls of our veins, waiting for a chemical signal from the vein wall to tell it to stop where it is needed to fight infection.  When it gets this signal the cell latches on to the vein wall and completely reconfigures itself to pass through the vein wall and go to the infected area and absorb the infectious material.  It then returns to the blood stream to be disposed of through our kidneys and our bladder or leaves through the wound.  I know this is basic high school science, but this is one of thousands of complex systems that function automatically, in perfect harmony within our bodies and everything about how it works can be explained with complex chemical reactions.  How something so complex could function so well, giving bodies the ability to heal themselves, is miraculous.  To believe this to be the result of millions of years of accidents, happenstance and mutations would be so hard to believe it would take an act of faith.  And here is another twist: since there was no death, disease or infection before sin, if we had white blood cells before sin came into the world, they had a different function all together. That is something to ponder as we contemplate on how fearfully and wonderfully we are made.

Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #20
Meaning & Logic
Welcome back to the lab; put on your lab coat; take a seat and get comfortable.  We are going to talk about biology and to do this, we will start with thermodynamics today, and if we have some time, we will take some time, to address the topic of time.

What is thermodynamics and what does it have to do with biology?  Well, all living things convert matter into energy to survive and the concept of thermodynamics is about that very process.  The science of energy conversion involving heat and other forms of energy is typically used in the study of machines.  However, studies on the relations and interactions between variables, such as temperaturevolume, and pressure, can also be used when discussing how living things convert matter (food) into energy.

The principle of thermodynamics that is most intriguing for this discussion is its second law.  To understand this law, we must first define entropy which is in essence the observed universal process of decay, or the idea that, over time, things break down.  So the Second Law of Thermodynamics declares that isolated systems will eventually achieve equilibrium, or break down to their base elements until there is not enough heat or energy to continue the process.  This explains what we observe in all of nature: simply stated—the process of transitioning matter to energy and vice versa causes a loss of heat energy.  Over time these heat transfers become decreasingly efficient to the point that they theoretically come to a complete stop.  I say theoretically because while we have a measurement for absolute zero, 0°K on the Kelvin scale, −273.15°C or −459.67°F, we have not yet been able to observe that temperature, although I hear we have come very close. 

What has any of this got to do with biology? Well, on the surface it appears that life runs counter to this law that over time things break down.  But on closer examination, this is not the case.  Even at the point of conception, we all have genetic clocks within our DNA called telomerase that limit how long we can continue to reproduce healthy cells. Telomerase and ultraviolet rays are the two main causes of human aging.  So while all life has a period of growth and regeneration—still, over time, every living thing dies.  This is important for three reasons.
1. Gen 3:19b ... “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” All life on earth must obey this law of thermodynamics because it is part of the curse that sin brought into the world.
2. Gen 6:3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” There is debate over the meaning of this text, but I am among those who hold that human life was limited to 120 years by God after the flood some 4300 years ago, and if we examine the genealogies from Noah—in only 8 to 12 generations, human life spans are at or below 120 years. 
3. Molecules-to-man evolution holds to a position that over time simple life develops into complex life.  This is not observed anywhere in the biological or fossil record.  There is not one scientific example of a "transitional specie" because none exist.  If you research transitional species you will find long lists of related species but each falls within a created kind.  My bias allows me to see this as evidence of a common Creator who put within each created kind amazing diversity that is often triggered by genetic adaptation to the environment.  For example all dogs are descendants of one proto dog kind and genetic evidence bears this out.  Our evolutionary friends have no nice for them. ;-)

I have often shared with many of you that I am a young earth creationist, and as such, believe the universe to be just a little over 6010 years old give or take a few years or even a century of two based on the possibility of cumulative genealogical overlap.  Because of this, I assert that the idea of tens of thousands of years is incorrect, however, I can legitimately debate with like-minded creationists who hold to slightly older ages in the tens of thousands of years range.

However, I feel the position that the world is 4.7 billion years old and that the universe is over 13 billion years old or that millions of years is even a possibility, is a position of faith with little or no basis in observable or verifiable empirical data.  It seems I have run out of time to talk about time, so I will have to give time to the topic of time next month.  We will talk about dating methods next month: C14, radiometric, and isochron dating methods.                                
Have a blessed day and take time to enjoy the beauty of God’s amazingly complex biological creation.

Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #21
Time #1
Welcome back to the lab; put on your lab coat; take a seat and get comfortable.  We are going to talk about biology again today and we will do this as always from the prospective of a biblical Christian worldview.  Last time we did not have time, to take the time, to address the topic of time.  As a matter of fact, we will probably not have enough time to fully treat the topic of time this time, but we will take all the time it takes!

So for those of you who "believe" the world to be approximately 4.7 billion years old and that the universe is over 13 billion years old or that millions of years are even a possibility—I would say that this is a position of faith in human deductive powers based on observable or verifiable empirical data.  As most of us defer to the experts in their respective fields, it would seem to make sense to defer to them in this area as well. However the experts in most scientific disciplines are not in lockstep agreement on this topic, as many in the education community would have you believe.  So let’s open-mindedly examine some simple empirical data and examine some basic assumptions to determine for ourselves how currently accepted dating methods can support relatively young earth concepts that are in full harmony with scripture’s historical narrative. While at the same time, it calls into question the commonly held old-earth concepts based on those same methods and taught as fact.

We will have to take a short detour from the topic of biology and touch on a number of disciplines to give time a thorough treatment here.  Carbon 14, radiometric, and isochron dating methods are all relatively new in the world of science, all of them having been invented and refined only in the past century. 

While I will treat each of these dating methods and some others individually, I would first like to address the topic of dating method assumptions.  There are three clear "assumptions." These are:
#1: A known initial quantity of whatever is being measured, in order to apply the formulas that turn the decay of one substance into any other substance, making that a reliable clock to measure time. These assumptions are made based on sound scientific computations, but they are still "assumptions" based on computations—not known observable fact.
#2: A constant rate of decay which assumes that what we have been able to observe and measure over the past decades and in a few cases over a century can be projected through time to get back to the assumed known initial quantity. So now we have one assumption on top of another.
#3: A closed system and this is the weakest of the three.  It assumes that over time no event of any kind has influenced the constant rate of decay.  We can observe in known world history great catastrophes, some that can be shown to affect elements within some of these dating methods.  This would include occurrences such as exposure to extreme temperatures or the introduction or even commingling of other elements into the tested sample. This then puts a third assumption on a stack of assumptions that call into question the dependability of these methods.  I do not argue that these are bad methods of determining the age of things. I simply argue that the numeric assumed values call into question the validity of the conclusions.  So to say that trust in those doing the calculations based on these assumptions is not a position of faith is intellectually dishonest.

Why is the issue of time so important? You can make a direct correlation between the realizations in the scientific community that studies life, "Biology" in the late 1800 to early 1900's.  As they began to understand the complexity of life, they saw that many evolutionary change assumptions, especially those that transitioned from one species to another, could not have happened in thousands of years.  So they needed greater amount of time and those sympathetic to their plight in the fields of chemistry and geology were all too happy to use the assumptions of greater periods of time when approaching their calculations.  In short, evolution needs millions of years to be even remotely plausible, so that in the last 100 years the estimated age of the earth has slowly climbed from some untold millions to its current estimated age of over 4.7 billion years.  It seems the assumptions listed above would not work on the age of the earth because in the time span of less than 100 years the earth has aged over 3 billion.
Have a great Summer and don't age to quickly in the sun!  More on time next time.    

Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #22
Time #2
Welcome back to the lab; Time, time and more time, we will continue our short detour from the topic of biology and touch on chemistry and geology to give time a thorough treatment here.  We will examine some radiometric dating methods like the Carbon 14, and Isochron.  We will also examine some others like Dendrochronology (tree rings) and some methods that give much younger dates for the age of the earth.

So lets examine Carbon 14 Dating (14C), also referred to as radiocarbon, this method claims to be a reliable for determining the age of fossils up to 60,000 years.  Carbon-14 is primarily used to date once-living things (organic material).  It can also be used to put time constraints on some inorganic material such as diamonds.  Because of the rapid rate of decay of 14C, it can only give dates in the thousands-of-year range. 

            There are three different naturally occurring varieties (isotopes) of carbon: 12C, 13C, and 14C.  Carbon-14 is used for dating because it is unstable (radioactive), while 12C and 13C are stable. Because it is Radioactive 14C will decay (emit radiation) over time and become a different element, nitrogen-14 14N.  Carbon-14 is constantly being added to the atmosphere by cosmic rays from outer space, which contain high levels of energy.  These rays bombard the earth’s upper atmosphere and collide with atoms in the atmosphere and can cause them to come apart. Neutrons that come from these fragmented atoms collide with 14N atoms (the atmosphere is made mostly of nitrogen and oxygen) and convert them into 14C atoms.  Once 14C is produced, it combines with oxygen in the atmosphere to form carbon dioxide (CO2). Because CO2 gets incorporated into plants, this means the food we eat contains 14C , this is how living things get 14C in them.

            Living things stop taking in 14C when they die and their radioactive 14C  decays into 14N.  The amount of 14C in a dead organism gets less and less over time while the stable 12C remains the same. Therefore, part of the dating process involves measuring the amount of 14C, Scientists use a device called an “Accelerator Mass Spectrometer” (AMS) to determine the ratio of 14C to 12C, giving the test a currently accepted accuracy rate of about 80,000 years. The half-life of 14C is 5,730 years (based on currently observed rates of decay) For example, a jar starting with all 14C atoms at time zero will contain half 14C atoms and half 14N atoms at the end of 5,730 years (one half-life).

            A core assumption in this dating method invented by Dr. Willard Libby has to do with the ratio of 14C to 12C.  It is assumed that the ratio of 14C to 12C in the atmosphere has always been the same as it is today (1 to 1 trillion). However the amount of 14C being produced in the atmosphere must equal the amount being removed to be in a steady state (also called “equilibrium”). If this is not true, the ratio of 14C to 12C is not a constant, which would make knowing the starting amount of 14C in a specimen difficult if not impossible to accurately determine.  As I mentioned last month assumptions are extremely important. If the starting assumption is false, all the calculations based on that assumption might be correct but still give a wrong conclusion.  In Dr. Libby’s original work, he noted that the atmosphere did not appear to be in equilibrium. This was a troubling idea for him since he believed the world was billions of years old and more than enough time had passed to achieve equilibrium. Dr. Libby’s calculations showed that if the earth started with no 14C in the atmosphere, it would take about 30,000 years to build up to a steady state (equilibrium).  Dr. Libby chose to ignore this discrepancy (nonequilibrium state), and he attributed it to experimental error. However, the discrepancy has turned out to be very real and confirmed to exist today by much better instruments. The ratio of 14C /12C is not constant.  The Specific Production Rate (SPR) of C-14 is known to be 18.8 atoms per gram of total carbon per minute. The Specific Decay Rate (SDR) is known to be only 16.1 disintegrations per gram per minute. What this means is If it takes about 30,000 years to reach equilibrium and 14C is still out of equilibrium, then the earth is not yet 30,000 years old.

            Another interesting note  14C  is found in diamonds and coal samples that are supposedly millions and billions of years old.  How can something with a half life of only 5730 years be found in things that are "supposedly" that old?  I would submit that they are much younger than commonly believed. 

     A team of scientist called the  RATE group (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth). put together some good research on this topic. they started in 1997 and worked for eight years investigating the age of the earth, and challenging many commonly held old earth assumptions. 

That is enough about Carbon 14,  If you want to read more on the subject I suggest you visit the Answers in Genesis website that was the primary source for much of this article.  Next month a little on Isochron dating methods which has much in common with C14 just assumptions of much greater age.  We may also start on Dendrochronology or some other methods that give much younger age of the earth.

Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #23
Time #3
Welcome back to the lab. Time, time and more time—we will continue our short detour from the topic of biology and touch on chemistry and geology for the next couple of lessons relating to time.  There are a large number of dating methods and they produce greatly varying dates.  We will discuss one more radiometric dating method and then move on to some dating methods that provide much younger earth results before concluding our detour on time. 
To perform radiometric dating, a rock is crushed to a fine powder and the minerals are separated.  Each mineral has different ratios between its parent and daughter concentrations. This topic is much too complicated to be dealt with in a single lesson, not to mention it carries great potential for painful boredom.  I will therefore try to condense this into one lesson that describes the concepts without becoming too scientific and complicated.  Isochron dating is a common radiometric dating technique applied to date natural events like the crystallization of minerals as they cool, changes in rocks by metamorphism, or what are essentially naturally occurring shock events like meteor strikes. Minerals present in these events contain various radioactive elements which decay and the resulting daughter elements can then be used to deduce the age of the mineral through an isochron. So what is an isochron? In the mathematical theory of dynamic systems, an isochron is a set of initial conditions for the system that all lead to the same long-term behavior.  Translation:  a mathematical method of determining the initial condition of something based on its current composition.  This is interesting because as we mentioned last month, assumptions are the thorn in the side of all dating methods.  So the appeal of isochron dating is that it does not presuppose the initial amount of the daughter element in the decay sequence.  This method is used to determine the initial amount.  If I seem to be talking in circles it is because old earth dating methods must talk in circles to achieve their goal using naturalistic explanations that illogically exclude the possibility of the supernatural. 

Isochron dating began when scientists recognized difficulties with the assumptions of radiometric dating, especially how much of the daughter products might have been present when the mineral first formed. Isochron dating was developed in an attempt to solve that problem, but in so doing created different assumptions and problems of its own.  Isochron dating is primarily used in determining the age of igneous rocks, metamorphic rocks and even shock events like asteroid impacts.  Some of the more commonly used parent/daughter isotope pairs used for isochron dating are rubidium/strontiumsamarium/neodymium, and uranium/lead.  Translation: the parent isotope over time decays into the daughter isotope (for example—uranium decays into lead).

            All isochron dating assumes that the source of the rock or rocks contained unknown amounts of both radiogenic and non-radiogenic isotopes of the daughter element, along with some amount of the parent nuclide. Thus, at the moment of crystallization, the ratio of the concentration of the radiogenic isotope of the daughter element to that of the non-radiogenic isotope is some value independent of the concentration of the parent. As time goes on, some amount of the parent decays into the radiogenic isotope of the daughter, increasing the ratio of the concentration of the radiogenic isotope to that of the daughter.  No matter how many times you read this paragraph, it will still be hard to see how scientists do not see this as a mathematical estimate of the initial amount of specific elements in the rock that is being tested; read “assumption”!   

Not to mention that in this method, outside contamination can form good-looking isochron data and uniformitarian geologists know it. The real way a "true" isochron is distinguished from a false isochron is by how well it agrees with how old the fossils in that layer are considered to be; read "circular logic".  Isochron dating is also unreliable because it assumes that the samples are congenic, assuming that they form at the same time from a reasonably homogeneous common pool. This assumption is also invalid. In particular, mixing two sources with different isotopic compositions gives meaningless but apparently valid isochron plots.  One more real problem with this dating method is disconcordant dates.  In most cases when you test different chemicals in the same rock, you get great variations in the dates on the order of millions and billions of years.  If the methods were dependable should they not all come up with similar dates?

Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #24
Time #4
Welcome back to the lab.  Time, time and more time!  We will complete our short detour from the topic of biology and touch on a few more dating methods.  I think we have sufficiently demonstrated that assumptions within dating methods lead to conclusions that support an old or young world view depending on which assumptions you employ.  Let’s finish this timely discussion by examining some dating methods that lead to the conclusion of a young earth. These are all dismissed by old-earthers as junk science, but read and decide for yourself.  The assumptions are clearly biased but the methods are just as scientific as old earth claims about radioactive decay and the more recently invented genetic marker clocks.

            There are a number of dating methods that suggest a young earth.  (Yes, they too have assumptions.)
Common young-earth "dating methods" give upper limits to the age of the Earth that are much lower than the more commonly accepted ages of millions and billions of years.  The upper limits of these methods are usually in thousands of years.  Here are some of the more commonly used dating methods employed by young-earth scientists: Dendrochronology; Accumulation of helium in the atmosphere; Decay of the Earth's magnetic field;
Accumulation of meteoritic dust on the Moon; Disintegration of comets; Accumulation of metals into the oceans; Population of the earth; and Io—the still-volcanic moon of Jupiter.  This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are over 70 young earth dating methods, but I will try to briefly explain the few I can squeeze into this article.

Dendrochronology: Tree rings can be of great assistance in determining when a piece of wood was cut down and put to use because of observable patterns in the rings that correspond with weather patterns.  The bristlecone pine is the oldest living thing on the earth. Native to the mountains of California and Nevada, the oldest tree has been dated at 4,600 years old.  By correlating the rings with dead wood found near the trees and beams from local buildings, a chronology of 11,300 rings has been suggested. However, this does not necessarily correlate to years because multiple rings can grow in one year.  This is one of many dendro-chronological examples.  The 4,600 year age of the oldest tree, named Methuselah, corresponds to the date of the Flood calculated by Ussher (the early church bishop, not the rap star) and others. Is it just a coincidence or did this tree begin growing shortly after the Flood?

Decaying magnetic field of the earth: We know that the earth's magnetic field has been decaying since the time it was first measured in 1835. Given the most plausible model of magnetism being generated by circulating electric currents that are decaying within the earth, and projecting these numbers backwards, we discover that 10,000 years ago, the earth would have a field as strong as a magnetic star which utilizes thermonuclear processes to maintain a field of that strength.

Population of the earth: Today the population grows at 2% per year. If we set the population growth rate at just 0.5% per year, then total population reduces to zero at about 4500 years ago. Strangely close to the time of the Flood again, Hmmmm? If the first humans lived over a million years ago, then at this 0.5% growth rate, we would have 10 to the two thousand, one hundredth power, (that is a ten with 2100 zeros following it) people right now. If the present population was a result of over a million years of human history, then several trillion people must have lived and died since the emergence of our species. Where are all the bones? And where is the evidence of Ancient civilizations?  Written history and archaeological evidence of ancient civilizations dates back to several thousand years. Beyond that, all traces of civilization disappear. This is not consistent with a species which is supposed to be at least hundreds of thousands of years old.

            There are many other dating methods I did not even mention that produced young earth conclusions. If you would like to study this further, I suggest the following websites; Answers in Genesis, (, Institute for Creation Research (, and on this topic you will also find a good summary in an article at   Next month—back to biology.

Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #25
            Welcome back to the lab; I have already spent way too much time talking about time so lets get back to Biology.  Since the beginning of the year we have briefly examined the history of biology, how mathematics and chemistry are an integral part of understanding the study of life. We also took a little side path through the dating methodology; old earth assumptions & methods and young earth assumptions & methods along with some of their flaws, and limitations of dating methods.

            I would like to touch on the topic of Botany this month. On the third day God created all plant life (Genesis 1:11).  In this text the words literally translate Grass, Herb, & Tree, you may think this a week description of the vast variety of plant life on earth.  However when you consider that the first two terms in Hebrew really imply the fresh sprouting plant, in the beginning almost all plant life looks like little green shoots coming out of the soil. Not to mention if you with the exception of waterborne plant life, you could fit all known plant life into the categories of, low lying grasses, middle sized herbs & bushes, and all sizes of fruit and seed bearing trees.  What about those water born plants? well most of them anchor in soil and those that don't only thrive in still waters that are rich in minerals from the surrounding soil.  What about fungus? well I like sautéed mushrooms as much as the next guy but consider this.  If there was no death in God's original creation that may have applied to plant life as well, if there is no decaying dead plant life (biomass) for fungus to grow was there mushrooms in the pre-sin earth? it is possible that there weren't, maybe mushrooms and all forms of fungi came in with the curse, thorns, blood sucking insects and all things that grow only on decay because there was possibly no decay.  These suppositions can not be proven or disproven I am just carrying some of these thought to their logical extreme.

            The molecules to man evolutionary world view holds that plants evolved just like all life. an over simplified explanation is that it started with the simplest microscopic one celled algae progressing to nonvascular and finally vascular plant life. On the surface this small and simple to large and complex approach makes sense to us, however when we look at the complexity of even the simplest life form we discover quiet another reality.  Wile the vascular qualities of plants and trees is clearly a complex mechanisms, Most mature trees drink about 50 gallons of water a day.  It is also true that the complex genetic mechanisms if micro plant organisms are equally and in some cases more complex that those of larger plant life. so size does not necessarily dictate complexity.

            We have already addressed the issue of time with regard to a biblical world view verses an evolutionary worldview.  However another point that need to be addressed when discussing life is its homogeneous nature.  What does this mean? well All life is composed of similar or identical parts or elements.  We make comparisons and find that all life shares many similar characteristics and while we can compare many, organs, tissues, exoskeletons, endoskeletons, hair, scales, or feathers.  The easy place to make comparisons is in the realm of genetic material, because all life has this for of information to tell elements and the chemistry what to do for the organism to live.  50 to 60 percent of our DNA is identical to that of a Banana, we share a 90 percent similarity with all mammals, and there is only a 2 percent difference between humans and chimpanzees, And all human beings are 99.9% genetically identical. When you consider that the fullness of human diversity is wrapped up in less that .01% of our genetic make up.  This shows you how far apart genetically 2 percent really is when comparing humans and chimps. Depending on your world view you can draw one of two conclusion from this information.

            1. The evolutionary worldview; there is no real purpose or meaning to any of this it all follows basic naturalistic laws that just exist, so you can see in the homogeneous nature of all life that we all over time evolved form a common ancestor in a primordial soup some exact number of millions of years.

            2. The Biblical worldview; there is real purpose or meaning in all if this and it follows basic laws that God put in place, so you can see in the homogeneous nature of all life that we all have a common creator who loves and cares for His creation.
Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #26
Kinds vs Specie
            Welcome back to the lab. The subject matter at hand is biology and today I would like to venture into the branch of biology called zoology.  We have discussed the building blocks of life and the laws that concern how they function. We briefly visited the botany lab in a discussion on plant life. We also took a little side path through the dating methodology: old earth assumptions & methods, young earth assumptions & methods, and some of the flaws and limitations of these dating methods.

            After discussing the life God created on the third day, it seems only logical to address the life he created on the fifth day (swimmers and flyers), and the sixth day (every thing else). We will reserve Homo Sapiens for a separate discussion on anthropology.  Zoology is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, classificationhabits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct.  While the ancient category of natural history is where zoology has its roots, this field of study as we know it today developed in the early 1700's.  As part of the biological classification system, animalia is one of what are now six categories or kingdoms of life. When we discuss biblical kinds, it is a little bit different than the broad spectrum of biological classifications from kingdom down to species.  Biblical kinds would fall somewhere between Genus and Subfamily, the kinds of which there are currently thousands of categories.  This becomes an important point of discussion in connection with the biblical narrative because there are currently over 8.7 million identified species on earth, with estimates that there are quite possibly as many as 100 million species on earth, but they have just not all been discovered yet.  This large number is pointed to as evidence that Noah could never have fit all those species on the ark.

            However, a simple rational analysis of the animal kinds created on the 5th and 6th day will logically show that Noah could have easily fit (with room to spare) the required living genetic material in fertile pairs sent to him by God.  First, let’s eliminate the obvious non-passengers—the swimmers including fish, sea mammals, some flightless birds, and a number of other things that can live in very wet conditions for extended periods of time. Next, we can reduce the remaining animal population to about 2000 kinds of land animals using taxonomy and syngameon relationships.  Taxonomy: the science which deals with the study of identifying, grouping, and naming organisms according to their established natural relationships, placing them within the biological classification system. After they have been put into these similar groupings, the number of groups is further reduced by determining their syngameon group. Syngameon: a grouping determined by  identifying genetically related organisms that may or may not be morphologically similar, and that may even belong to different genera, but they are interfertile.  For example, most species of dogs are interfertile. We also see this in horses, turtles, and many types of birds. Even though you can use these two simple tools to reduce the number to 2000, to give the benefit of the doubt in all questionable cases, you could expand the grouping to 16,000 animals on the ark and still have room left over because so many of the species groups would be so small, weighing less than 10 grams. Only about 250 animals would have been over that weight.  A full feasibility study was done on Noah's Ark regarding this subject by John Woodmorappe and published by the Institute for Creation Research in El Cajon, California.

            The biblical narrative is very dependable on the diverse nature of the animal kingdom.  God filled His creation with teaming, swarming, vibrant life in the water, the air, and all over and in the ground.  Everywhere you turn, He reminds you how much He loves you by supplying for your every physical and emotional need through His animal kingdom. He gave you fish and all water life for you to enjoy in the sea, or a river, in a lake or a tank or even on your plate. He supplied you with birds to soar through His beautiful blue skies, to greet you in the mornings with delightful songs, and to give you another reason to wash your car.  He provided a myriad of wild and domesticated animals to inhabit His vast wilderness and provide for our nutritional needs, supply us with materials for comfortable clothing, and to comfort us with companionship in warm fuzzy pets that soothe our hearts.  Enjoy the wonder of His creation today.             

Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #27
            Welcome back to the lab. The subject matter at hand is biology and we have discussed many aspects of this field of study but we have not ventured into the amazing field of genetics.  This is such a large topic that I will cover it in a cursory fashion, encouraging you to do some research yourself on this body of data that begs the question: where did all this information come from? So let's jump into the primordial soup, shall we?

            Genetics deals with the amazing instruction manual inside every living cell that is packed with gigabytes of information telling proteins how to construct, reproduce and maintain themselves in every living thing.  This is an amazing amount of information that has an almost indescribable level of complexity.  If you believe (as I do) that an omnipotent Being designed all this, in essence "miracle-d" it into existence to satisfy His own creative nature, and that this unbelievable level of complex and delicately balanced information which functions in a way that makes the most sophisticated symphonic composition or the most impressive engineering feat in human history seem as the scribbling of a child with a fat crayon, then only through faith will it make perfect sense to you.  

            However the bulk of the scientific community today looks at this and sees a purposeless result of eons of time combined with impossible odds and natural selection. The scientific field of Genetics is the study of genesheredity, and variation in living organisms.  Genetics deals with the molecular structure and function of genes, examining patterns of inheritance from parent to offspring, gene distribution, variation and change in populations. Given that genes are universal to living organisms, genetics can be applied to the study of all living systems: viruses, bacteria, plants, animals and humans.

            The science of genetics began with the work of Gregor Mendel in the mid-19th century.  The science as we understand it today speaks of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and how this microscopic double helix fashions proteins into life.  This was first discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick.  They presented this finding in a scientific paper in April of 1953 describing the structure of the DNA-helix. In this paper they said, "This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest." This is probably one of science's most famous understatements.  Nine years later, in 1962, they shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Maurice Wilkins, for solving one of biology's biggest riddles. Half a century later, important new implications of this great discovery are still coming to light, not the least of which is where did all of this complex information come from?

            Every single aspect of every living thing is dictated by this instruction manual, and within each species is an amazing adaptive mechanism contained in that genetic code that enables it to adapt to its environment. (read micro evolution) The genetic information does not change—it is just that certain attributes are turned on or off to suit the environment. It is amazing how the descendants of primordial ooze can do such adaptive intelligent things, but even more amazing is that it is commonly held that this is a product of chance.  It seems to me to be an act of blind faith, to believe this all to be pointless happenstance.  This process can clearly be seen in the human race with its wide diversity of appearance (contained in less that .001% of our DNA) which can be attributed to multiple generations living in the same regions over long periods of time (thousands of years) giving us lighter skin and straighter hair in colder darker regions and darker skin and curlier hair in hotter, brighter regions.  The Human Gnome project took 13 years to map the composition of human DNA, identifying approximately 20,000-25,000 genes, determined by the sequences of 3 billion chemical base pairs.  While this large project identified all the parts, we are still largely ignorant of the function of over 97% of this genetic material.  This used to be called Junk DNA, because we do not know what it does so we assumed it had no function.  However, there is increasing evidence that there is no junk DNA at all.  In recent years, it has been found to have various roles. This means that this so-called "non-coding DNA" influences the behavior of the genes, the "coding DNA," in important ways.

            We are just about done with our tour of the biology wing of the institute.  I think we will wrap things up in the next month or two with a brief discussion on the topic of natural selection and some thoughts on the subject of anthropology. See you then.  Have a blessed day.

Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #28
Closing thoughts on Biology
            Welcome back to the lab. The subject matter at hand is biology and we have been studying this topic for most of the year.  I would like to touch on a couple more things on this subject and wrap up our study in this field of science.  There are two thorns in the side of those in the macro-evolution camp: one is "Natural Selection" also known as "Survival of the Fittest" and the other is the pesky discovery of T-Rex red blood cells. Yes, you read correctly—we will get to the particulars of Dr. Mary Schweitzer's find after talking about natural selection.

            Natural Selection on the surface seems to be a harmless mechanism built into the evolution-leaning mindset which claims the following: "Over time" all living things mutate into stronger, better, faster, smarter living things and because of this, the more fit new life forms will "over time" out think and out maneuver their less capable ancestors.  This will "over long periods of time" lead to stronger, better, faster, smarter living things.  If a person holds that Natural Selection is evolution’s tool for the improvement of all living things, they will find themselves running into two logical hard road blocks. One is scientific and the other is philosophical.
            First the scientific problem is that genetic mutations are always, always the result of a loss of genetic information or a malfunction in that information and this always, always makes the organism less viable.  Do some mutations cause beneficial side affects? Like sickle cell anemia and malaria, yes. However it is still an anemic condition and has more bad side affects than good ones.  This means that all mutations, all mutations make an organism on the losing side of a "survival of the fittest" scenario. Therefore the mechanism does not work to advance evolution, even though it is still taught as fact in all of our schools today.  Interesting side note, if you Google "beneficial mutation" you will find example after example of genetic adaptation which is not mutation at all but genetic material doing what God designed it to do, allowing organisms to adapt to their environment as discussed in last months article.  So if anything, natural selection is an argument against macro-evolution because "over time" it decreases the available amount of genetic material, causing less complexity and more harmful mutations.  In essence—leading to devolution. 

            The philosophical problem of holding this position is that all superior living things should rightly take hold of and manage, for their own benefit, all of the resources in any given ecosystem.  You must then champion the cause of selfishness and condemn as misguided all unselfish acts.  This means that natural selection culls out the weak, while favoring the strong.  We can see this occurring in the animal kingdom, even though we do see occasional acts of kindness with one animal raising as their own the infants of another species  But for the most part, dog eat dog, strong devouring the weak, that is what a survival of the fittest position must logically hold to.  This leads to an inconsistency between humanity and this philosophy. The acts of people like Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Tse-tung, Mussolini, and any other acts of genocide can be justified under this philosophy as a culling out the weak.  Abuse of the environment could also be justified under this philosophy.  Selfless acts of kindness and mercy would be condemned as a violation of the precepts of this philosophy, not just because it is seen as a waste of valuable resources on the weak, but acts of kindness would also be seen as slowing  progress toward the strongest, best and smartest any species has the potential to develop into. It is this mindset that led to eugenics, racism, and the holocaust in the late 1800's and early to mid 1900's and is still with us today in the murder mills of Planned Parenthood.

            T-Rex blood cells: So let’s conclude our study of biology with the discovery of soft connective tissue and red blood cells in "68 million" year-old T-Rex bones. Dr. Mary H Schweitzer, a paleontologist at North Carolina State University, first published her findings in 1993. They discovered red blood cells in dinosaur fossils and later discovered soft tissue remains in a Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen.  Dr. Schweitzer is the first researcher to identify and isolate soft tissues in fossil bone.  Recent discoveries have been found in other fossils as well.  Since Dr. Schweitzer's discovery, the scientific community has come up with many failed attempts to explain how this soft tissue could exist in "68 million" year-old fossils.  The problem for them is that simple chemistry prohibits any soft tissue (no matter how it is preserved) from lasting more than tens of thousands of years.  In most cases even under the best preservative conditions, in thousands of years the tissue would break down to its base elements and no longer have any identifiable structure.  Instead of questioning the age of the find, the current position of the scientific community is that they do not yet understand how this material could have been preserved for so long, but they are sure that science will eventually discover the process.  Sounds like faith!

            This concludes our tour of the biology wing of the Institute. We will transition from the biology wing to the geology wing after making a quick stop in the Anthropology lab next month, See you then.  Have a blessed day.

In Christ,
Pastor Portier
Saint Paul Lutheran Church
1610 Pullen Road, Sevierville TN,
Phone: 865-365-8551
Service times: Sun 8:30 & 11:00, Wed 7 PM

No comments:

Post a Comment