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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Earliest Eyes Look Like Modern Ones

Posted by jlwile on July 22, 2011

A krill, with a magnified view of its eye. (Click for krill picture credit. Eye credit is at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Krilleyekils.jpg)

A recent article1 in the journal Nature reports on fossil eyes that were discovered in early Cambrian rock. Before I discuss the fossils themselves, I have to make it clear that these eyes are not like the eyes you and I have. You and I have simple eyes. This doesn’t mean they aren’t complex. It just means that each of our eyes has only one lens. In addition to people, many animals have simple eyes.

The fossils discussed in the article were of compound eyes, like the one shown in the picture above. Unlike simple eyes, compound eyes have many, many lenses. Each little “section” you see in the magnified view of the eye is a separate lens. Each lens focuses the light onto its own, separate light-sensitive tissue. For this reason, a compound eye can be thought of as a lot of tiny individual eyes, each of which is called an ommatidium (plural is ommatidia).

Now why would an animal want a compound eye? Well, it allows the animal to have a much wider view. Some insect compounds eyes, for example, allow the insect to see nearly everything around it – not only what is in front of it, but also what is above, below, and behind it.2 In addition, since the visual information is being processed by lots of little units rather than one big unit, a compound eye is much more efficient at developing images, making it sensitive to very fast motion.3 This allows the insect to travel at high speeds without running into things, and it allows the insect to see even the slightest motion from both predators and prey. These advantages do come at a cost, however. The visual acuity and resolution of a compound eye is not as good as that of a simple eye.4

The article reports on seven compound eye fossils that were found in Cambrian rock. According to scientifically-irresponsible dating techniques, these rocks are supposedly 515 million years old. Nevertheless, the fossil eyes are incredibly advanced.

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Strike Another “Vestigial” Organ

Posted by jlwile on July 20, 2011


(Public Domain Image)

Evolutionists think there is a lot of junk in nature. Of course, that’s what you expect if you think a process that depends on random mutations acted on by natural selection is what produced all the life we see today. If you think that the world and life on it were created by God, however, you wouldn’t expect to see much junk. If you believe in the Christian God, you do expect some junk, because the Bible tells us that creation is in “slavery to corruption” as a result of the Fall of man (Romans 8:21). Thus, there has been some corruption from the supremely-designed state in which nature started. As a result, there should be some junk in nature, just not much.

One specific kind of junk that has been predicted by evolutionists over and over again is vestigial organs. These are organs that supposedly had a function in an evolutionary ancestor but have no important function in a current organism. For example, it was long thought that the primary cilium that appears on nearly every cell in the human body was vestigial. It was supposed to be a remnant of the evolutionary stage when our ancestors were free-swimming, single-celled creatures. Of course, we now know that the primary cilium serves several incredibly important functions.

More famously, it was long taught that the human appendix was vestigial. Supposedly it was a remnant of the evolutionary stage when our ancestors ate a much more vegetarian diet. Of course, we now know that this is false as well. Instead, the appendix has been shown to have an incredibly important function in people. Evolutionist Jerry Coyne made a huge blunder in his book, Why Evolution is True, because he claimed that the fine hair a human fetus grows all over its body (called “lanugo”) is vestigial. However, it has been long known that lanugo serves an incredibly important function.

As you would expect, modern science has just struck down another vestigial organ. This time, it is found in salmon, trout, and many other fishes*.

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The Genesis of Science

Posted by jlwile on July 19, 2011

During the 2010 Global Atheist Convention, P.Z. Myers (my favorite atheist) said:

Science and religion are incompatible in the same sense that the serious pursuit of knowledge about reality is incompatible with [expletive]…. Religion makes smart people do stupid things, and scientists do not like stupid.

Obviously, Dr. Myers hasn’t studied much of the history of science, since it shows quite the opposite. Indeed, history shows that modern science is a product of Christianity.

Dr. James Hannam recently wrote a book entitled, The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, and he makes a very strong case that modern science is specifically a product of medieval Christian thought. As I mentioned in a previous post, Dr. James Hannam is a graduate of both Oxford and Cambridge. He earned his physics degree from Oxford, and then he went to Cambridge to earn a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science. Thus, he is very qualified to write on this subject. He states his thesis in his introduction:

This book will show how much of the science and technology that we now take for granted has medieval origins. (p. xiii)

The book then goes on to give a wealth of evidence to support that thesis.

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A Chemistry Poem by Bailey Gillespie

Posted by jlwile on July 16, 2011

A student (Bailey Gillespie) sent this to me many years ago, and in a web search, I stumbled across it again today. I thought others might enjoy it as well:

I’m reading a book by Jay Wile
That feels ’bout as thick as a mile
It’s a chemistry course,
And reliable source,
I sure am enjoying his style.

The characteristics we see
Of chemicals in chemistry
Are works of God’s hand,
And part of His plan,
For the earth to function for me.

The way atoms all seem to dance
In molecules inside of plants
Is one of the ways,
God meant to amaze,
That couldn’t have happened by chance.

Experiment with metals like chrome
Experiment with mixtures like foam
Please try to have fun,
Clean up when you’re done,
I hope you don’t blow up your home!

Everyone Wants A Piece of C.S. Lewis

Posted by jlwile on July 15, 2011

C.S. Lewis is one of the greatest Christian apologists of the twentieth century. From the ripe old age of 15, he considered himself an atheist, even though he was raised in a Christian home. However, the works of George MacDonald and arguments with his friend J. R. R. Tolkien were central to his becoming a theist at the age of 31 and then a Christian at the age of 33. Because he was converted from atheism to Christianity, he has been called “the apostle to the skeptics.”1

To give you an idea of how important his works have been to Christianity, one of his books (Mere Christianity) was voted best book of the twentieth century by Christianity Today in April of 2000. It’s not surprising, then, that people want to imply that he agrees with their point of view. After all, if one of the greatest apologists of the twentieth century agrees with you, that’s got to mean something, right?

Unfortunately, this often leads to people mischaracterizing C.S Lewis’s views. Since he wrote an enormous amount of material, it is easy to twist his words to make it sound like he believed a great many things. I have read quite a lot of his work, not so much because I am a fan of his writing, but because he is such an important voice in modern Christianity. Because of this, I get a bit offended when quotes from his work are taken out of context in order to imply that he believed something he clearly didn’t believe. I have run across two instances of this recently, from two distinctly different groups, and it bothered me both times.

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I Thought This Was Cool

Posted by jlwile on July 13, 2011

I am working on an elementary science series right now, and I am up the point where I am looking for images to use in the first book of the series. While looking for images that were constructed using infrared light, I came across this one and thought it was really cool (click for credit):

The image is what an infrared camera sees when it looks at a snake wrapped around a person’s arm.

Remember, human eyes are not sensitive to infrared light. However, you can make cameras that see only infrared light. Generally, these cameras show you the amount of infrared light they are seeing by using a color scheme. In the picture above, for example, blue colors mean the camera is receiving a small amount of infrared light, red colors indicate a medium amount of infrared light, and yellow colors indicate a lot of infrared light.

The person’s arm “lights up” in yellow, because he or she is warm-blooded and is therefore warmer than the surroundings. Because of this, energy must flow from the person to the surroundings, and it does so mostly in the form of infrared light. As a result, the person’s arm emits a lot of infrared light. The snake, however, is not much warmer than its surroundings, because it is not warm-blooded. So it doesn’t lose much energy to the surroundings. As a result, it doesn’t emit much infrared light.

Using an infrared-sensitive camera to make such images is called thermography, and it can be used for various purposes, including seeing people in the dark.

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Imagine That: Richard Dawkins is Wrong About Anti-Evolutionists

Posted by jlwile on July 11, 2011

Dr. James Hannam is a graduate of both Oxford and Cambridge. He earned his physics degree from Oxford, and then he went to Cambridge to earn a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science. So when it comes to science, Dr. Hannam is clearly no slouch. As I mentioned in my previous post, he has written an excellent book entitled The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution. I plan to write a review of it, but that won’t happen today, because while I was doing a bit of research into Dr. Hannam, I ran across an article he wrote about a year ago. I found the article incredibly interesting, so I thought I would write about that first.

Dr. Hannam is a theistic evolutionist. Unlike many young-earth creationists, I don’t have a problem with theistic evolution. I certainly don’t think you have to give up a belief in the authority of Scripture to be a theistic evolutionist, and I don’t consider theistic evolutionists to be “compromisers.” Some of the most devout, God-honoring people I know are theistic evolutionists, and they have a very high view of Scripture. I would not be surprised if Dr. Hannam is one of those people.

The article I ran across is entitled “Debating a Young-Earth Creationist,” and it details a radio encounter between Dr. Hannam and a young-earth creationist (YEC) named Bob Enyart. Dr. Hannam specifically says that he doesn’t run into many YECs in his circles, so he was happy to have a chance to dialogue with Mr. Enyart. His report on the dialogue brought up a couple of interesting points.

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More Evidence That The Church Has Never Been United on Genesis

Posted by jlwile on July 7, 2011

As I have pointed out previously, the oft-repeated claim that the church has always been united in its interpretation of the creation account is demonstrably false. It sounds reasonable to think that the church always read the creation account as historical narrative with 24-hour days, but then evolution or some other aspect of modern science “forced” theologians to reinterpret the creation account. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Even as early as 225 AD, Origen wrote:1

For who that has understanding will suppose that the first and second and third day existed without a sun and moon and stars and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? . . . I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance and not literally.

So even in very early church, some influential people were interpreting at least parts of the creation account figuratively. It turns out that as church history progressed, a figurative interpretation of Genesis never lost its momentum.

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Homeschooling in Australia

Posted by jlwile on July 5, 2011

The iconic Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia.

My international homeschooling tour ended in Australia, where I met some of the nicest people in the world. I was actually a bit worried about getting into the country, because when I left South Korea, most of Australia’s domestic flights were grounded due to an ash cloud from a Chilean volcano. My connecting flight out of Guangzhou, China was delayed for two hours, but in the end, it was able to land in Sydney.

Even though I arrived late, I still had a long layover in Sydney, so a wonderful family came to rescue me from the airport and show me some of the sights. That’s how I was able to take the picture shown above. The Sydney Opera House sits in the Sydney harbor, which is really quite beautiful. We certainly don’t have anything like it in Indiana! The highlight of my Sydney tour, however, was lunch, where I got to have kangaroo pizza. Yes, you read that right! Since my first trip to Australia back in 2005, kangaroo has been my favorite meat. Put it on a pizza, and now you have my two favorite foods! It really was wonderful.

Of course, the purpose of my trip was not food. It was to speak to homeschoolers in Canberra, Adelaide, and Melbourne. So after lunch, I went back to the airport, where all the domestic flights were back in the air again.

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