Creation Science in the Dominican Republic

The beach outside of Bani in the Dominican Republic.

The beach outside of Bani in the Dominican Republic.

On Thursday of last week, I left Indiana for the Dominican Republic to give lectures about the science of creation to schools, churches, and universities. This lovely country is an explicitly Christian nation. Its motto is “Dios, Patria, Libertad” (God, Fatherland, Liberty), and the country’s flag has both the Bible and a cross at its center. The Bible is supposed to be open to John 8:32, “y conocerán la verdad, y la verdad los hará libres” (and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free). Because it takes its Christian roots seriously, students are allowed to learn about Christianity, even in public schools.

In fact, the first talk I gave was at a public school in Santo Domingo. In that talk, I discussed mutualistic symbiosis, which is a situation in which two or more organisms of different species work together so that each receives a benefit. I have blogged extensively about this amazing aspect of nature (see here, here, here, here, and here, for example), because I find it fascinating. In order to illustrate the process, I showed several videos of mutualistic symbiotic relationships in nature.

After I showed the videos and discussed how each relationship works, I discussed how evolution tries to account for these amazing relationships. Most evolutionists think that mutualistic symbiotic relationships started out as parasitic relationships, with one organism exploiting the other one. However, as time went on, the organisms co-evolved and began cooperating with one another. I then talked about a recent study that shows this explanation isn’t consistent with the data.

I told the students that I think these relationships give us a glimpse of what creation was like before the Fall. Creation was built on relationships, with organisms helping one another to survive. However, when sin entered the world, all creation was corrupted to some extent (Romans 8:22). As a result, many of those relationships were corrupted, and what we see now is only a glimpse of what creation used to be like.

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These Three Scientists Don’t Believe in Catastrophic Climate Change or a Flat Earth

From left to right: Nobel laureate Dr. Ivar Giaever, Mathematician Dr. Caleb Rossiter, and Theoretical Physicist Dr. Steven E. Koonin.

From left to right: Nobel laureate Dr. Ivar Giaever, Mathematician Dr. Caleb Rossiter, and Theoretical Physicist Dr. Steven E. Koonin.

In a speech at Georgetown University, President Obama said that he has no patience for people who deny that human-produced global warming is a real problem. He added:

We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-Earth society…Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.

About a year ago, I pointed out that the president of the Flat Earth Society actually agrees with President Obama on global warming. However, some serious scientists strongly disagree with the both the president of the Flat Earth Society and the President of the United States. In fact, one Nobel-Prize-winning scientist says that President Obama is “dead wrong” when it comes to climate change.

Who is this Nobel laureate? His name is Dr. Ivar Giaever, and I have written about him before. He is professor emeritus at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a professor-at-large at the University of Oslo, and the Chief Technology Officer at Applied Biophysics. At a recent gathering of Nobel laureates, he gave a talk entitled, “Global Warming Revisited.” Among the notable things he said was:

I say this to Obama: Excuse me, Mr. President, but you’re wrong. Dead wrong…When you have a theory and the theory does not agree with the experiment then you have to cut out the theory.

What could explain Dr. Giaever’s opposition to the Presidents of the United States and the Flat Earth Society? Is he one of those right-wing radicals who refuses to look at the facts? Probably not. After all, in 2008 he signed a letter endorsing Obama for president. Interestingly enough, the electronic version of the letter that appears on Obama/Biden stationary has his name scrubbed from it. Dr. Giaever disagrees with the Presidents of the United States and the Flat Earth Society because he looked at the data with an unbiased eye, and when he did, he saw that the theory was not supported by the data.

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This Study Indicates that Most Babies Should NOT Avoid Peanuts

This picture shows a person getting a skin-prick test to measure his or her allergic reactions.

This picture shows a person getting a skin-prick test to measure his or her allergic reactions.

The prevalence of peanut allergies has grown significantly in recent years. In the U.S., for example, only 0.4% of children were reported to have a peanut allergy in 1997. By 2008, the percentage had more than tripled to 1.4%.1 As a result, people have become more aware of peanut allergies, and some businesses have made accomodations for people who have them. Delta airlines, for example, says:

When you notify us that you have a peanut allergy, we’ll refrain from serving peanuts and peanut products onboard your flight. We’ll also advise cabin service to board additional non-peanut snacks, which will allow our flight attendants to serve these snack items to everyone within this area. Gate agents will be notified in case you’d like to pre-board and cleanse the immediate seating area. Unfortunately we still can’t guarantee that the flight will be completely peanut-free. Note that some snack products on board may be processed in plants which also process peanut products.

This is important, since some cases of peanut allergies have resulted in tragic deaths (see here, here, and here, for example).

Naturally, many parents would like to know if there is anything they can do to prevent their children from developing peanut allergies. In the year 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that the best thing to do was to avoid peanut products for any child who showed any risk of allergy. However, the Academy reversed itself in 2008, saying there was no evidence that peanut avoidance reduced the risk of a child developing a peanut allergy later in life.2

A study released earlier this year now tells us that the evidence points in exactly the opposite direction: If you want to prevent peanut allergies in your children, you should consider exposing them to small amounts of peanut products when they are very young.3

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More Reasons To Doubt Iron as a Preservative for Dinosaur Tissue

This is reconstruction of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.  (click for credit)

This is reconstruction of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. (click for credit)

In 2005, Dr. Mary Schweitzer stunned the scientific community by finding what appeared to be soft tissue in a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil that is supposed to be 68 million years old.1 Since then, many such discoveries have been made (see here, here, here, here, and here), and a recent study indicates that soft tissue is probably quite common in dinosaur fossils. It is obviously hard to understand how soft tissue could remain in a fossil for millions of years, so those who are forced to believe that these fossils are millions of years old have tried to figure out some chemical mechanism that would prevent the decay of tissue for such an incredibly long time.

Two years ago, Dr. Schweitzer herself proposed such a mechanism.2 After studying the soft tissue from both the Tyrannosaurus rex and a Brachylophosaurus canadensis fossil, she and her team noticed that the structures which appeared to be blood vessels had iron particles imbedded in them. They proposed that iron and oxygen could work together to prevent soft tissue decay, and they even did a two-year experiment with ostrich blood vessels to support their hypothesis. I wrote about that paper after I read it, and in my analysis I listed three reasons I was skeptical of their proposed mechanism. Two chemists who know much more about this kind of chemistry than me have written a detailed paper in the latest issue of Creation Science Research Quarterly, and in my opinion, they make it clear that Schweitzer’s proposed mechanism simply isn’t consistent with the data she collected.3

Dr. John M. DeMassa has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Masters of Divinity from Liberty University. His full-time job is designing antioxidants, but he is also a part-time preacher. He teamed up with Dr. Edward Boudreaux, who has a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from Tulane. He spent most of his career as a professor of chemistry at the University of New Orleans but has since retired. They teamed up to analyze the chemistry required for Schweitzer’s proposed mechanism to work. In the end, they conclude that the mechanism would have destroyed some of the chemicals that Schweitzer’s team found in their samples.

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Discovering Design with Chemistry

The cover for Discovering Design with Chemistry.

The cover for Discovering Design with Chemistry.

I am sure that some of my readers are sick and tired of hearing about my new high school course, Discovering Design with Chemistry. I ask those readers for patience, because it is time to announce that the book has been released by the publisher! If you are in need of a rigorous, homeschool-friendly, high school chemistry course, you can preview it here. I have to point out that the course is ready for purchase a full week ahead of schedule, which is a testament to my publisher’s commitment to home educators and private Christian schools. It’s not easy to produce a high-quality text in less than a year, but Berean Builders was able to do just that.

This new chemistry course is completely different from the previous one I wrote, Exploring Creation with Chemistry, 2nd Edition. It covers the standard college-prep chemistry topics in a different order, but more importantly, it emphasizes aspects of those topics in a way that makes them more relevant to this decade. For example, when discussing Dalton’s Atomic Theory, I point out that he used his theory to predict something about the masses of two elements that can react to form completely different compounds. That prediction was later confirmed, and we now call it “The Law of Multiple Proportions.” I point out that a theory can’t be considered scientific unless it can make such predictions. I then discuss this in the context of creation science. I talk about how the scientific theory of creation has been used to make many successful predictions, including the fact that there is very little “junk DNA” in the human genome.

The most important difference between the courses, however, is the experimental component. When I wrote the older course, I had the students perform the best experiments they could with reasonably-priced equipment. Since that book was written, however, the cost of certain chemistry equipment, such as precise mass scales, has gone down significantly. As a result, what is available at a reasonable price today is quite different from what was available back when the old course was written. Because of this, the experiments are significantly better in this new course.

For example, there are certain chemicals that tend to incorporate water into their solid phase. We call them hydrates. Consider the picture below:

The anhydrous (left) and hydrated form (right) of cobalt (II) chloride.  (click for credit)

The anhydrous (left) and hydrated form (right) of cobalt (II) chloride. (click for credit)

You might think these are two different compounds, but they are not. Both jars contain cobalt (II) chloride. The reason they look different is because the solid on the left has no water in it. As a result, we call it the anhydrous form of cobalt (II) chloride. The solid on the right has water in it, so we call it the hydrated form of cobalt (II) chloride. Both solids perform exactly the same chemistry. The only difference between them is the presence of water.

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Is Soft Tissue Common in Dinosaur Bones?

Structures that appear to be red blood cells (left) and collagen fibers (right) found in the claw of an unknown dinosaur. (Image from paper being discussed).

Structures that appear to be red blood cells (left) and collagen fibers (right) found in the claw of an unknown dinosaur. (Image from paper being discussed). For scale, the white bars are 1 micrometer (left) and 5 micrometers (right).

In early June, an extraordinary paper was published in the journal Nature Communications. The paper is free to read, so I encourage you to take a look at it. The authors of the paper begin by offering a summary of the various discoveries of soft tissue in dinosaur bones. They then make this important point:

Models proposed to account for such preservation indicate that it should be the exception rather than the rule. In particular, it has long been accepted that protein molecules decay in relatively short periods of time and cannot be preserved for longer than 4 million years. Therefore, even in cases where organic material is preserved, it is generally accepted that only parts of original proteins are preserved and that the full tertiary or quaternary structure has been lost.

If you aren’t familiar with the terms, “tertiary” and “quaternary” structure refer to details that determine the three-dimensional shape of a protein, which is very important for its chemical function. Essentially, the authors of the paper are saying that the individual chemicals (called amino acids) that make up the protein might still be around after 4 million years or so, but the protein will be highly degraded.

So, the authors say that according to the prevailing wisdom right now, soft tissue preservation in dinosaur bones (which are supposed to be much, much older than 4 million years) should be very rare. They decided to test this idea, and not surprisingly, they found that it was wrong. How did they test it? They looked at eight dinosaur fossils found in Cretaceous rock, which is supposed to be between 145 million and 65 million years old. The authors suggest that the fossils are 75 million years old. The important point, however, is that these bones were definitely not well-preserved. As one of the authors said in a news report:

They’re very scrappy, individual broken bones. I can’t even tell you what dinosaur they come from.

What they found in these “scrappy” bones is surprising, at least if you think they are 75 million years old.

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Earth 2.0? We Have No Idea!

U.S. News and World Report recently published an article entitled “Another Earth? Take a Look at Kepler 452-b.” The headline was followed by this picture and caption:

Newly-discovered planet Kepler-452b is in the habitable zone of a solar system 1,400 light years away, NASA announced Thursday.

Newly-discovered planet Kepler-452b is in the habitable zone of a solar system 1,400 light years away, NASA announced Thursday.

Now when you read that headline, look at the picture, and read the caption, what do you think? It seems to me that most people would think that the picture is an image of Kepler-452b. Unfortunately, it is not. Here the beginning of NASA’s caption for the same image:

This artist’s concept depicts one possible appearance of the planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone of star that is similar to our sun.

Rather than being an image of Kepler-452b, then, this is just an artist’s conception of what the planet might look like. Unfortunately, there is no indication of that in the U.S. News and World Report article. In fact, if you read the entire article, it gets worse. You get the impression that this newly-discovered planet is pretty much just like earth. Such thinking has led some people to call it “Earth 2.0″ (see here, here, here, and here).

There’s only one problem with all this hype. It just isn’t true.

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I’m Back!

You might have noticed a deafening silence coming from this obscure stop on the Information Superhighway. It has been more than a month since my previous blog post, which is nearly unheard of for me. I might go a week to two without blogging, but rarely a month! In fact, one of my readers was concerned enough to text me and ask if everything was okay. Yes, everything is fine. I was really, really busy last month finishing up my new book Discovering Design with Chemistry. Things are still on track for it to be released on August 17th, so that’s good. After I got done submitting the final pages of my book to the publisher, my wife and I then left the country for two weeks to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, which was actually last year. We had a wonderful time and just got back into the country.

With all that said, I thought I would break the silence with something a bit different – a question to my readers. Since many of you are interested in science, I wonder if you remember back in March of 2014 when it was announced that evidence for inflation, a a necessary fudge factor in the Big Bang Model, had been discovered. Researchers on the BICEP2 experiment supposedly found a polarization pattern in the cosmic microwave background that should have happened as a result of the inflationary process. It was greeted with great media fanfare. For example, Scientific American (which should be more scientific) had an article entitled, “Gravitational Waves from Big Bang Detected.” In it, the author said:

Physicists have found a long-predicted twist in light from the big bang that represents the first image of ripples in the universe called gravitational waves, researchers announced today. The finding is direct proof of the theory of inflation, the idea that the universe expanded extremely quickly in the first fraction of a nanosecond after it was born.

So, according to Scientific American, the BICEP2 experiment proved inflation! said the data were the “Smoking Gun” of inflation, and the New York Times agreed.

Of course, there were other news outlets that were more responsible, including the fact that the results were tentative and not yet peer reviewed. Nevertheless, the overall coverage made it seem like the research team had confirmed that cosmic inflation really occurred.

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The 2015 California Homeschool Conference: Wisdom from Jacob and Kristine Barnett

This is from the cover of a book written by Kristine Barnett.  It tells how she raised her autistic son, Jacob, to be an amazing young man.

This is from the cover of a book written by Kristine Barnett. It tells how she raised her autistic son, Jacob, to be an amazing young man.

I spent this past weekend in Ontario, California, speaking at the California Homeschool Convention, which is part of the Great Homeschool Conventions series. There are a lot of wonderful things I could say about the Great Homeschool Conventions, but the thing I most appreciate is the eclectic mix of speakers they invite. You see all the “standard” speakers from the homeschooling circuit, such as Jim Weiss, Andrew Pudewa, and Heidi St. John, but you also see speakers that aren’t typically a part of a homeschool convention. This year, for example, they had Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher as a speaker. I interviewed her before the first convention, and I later reported on her talk at the convention, which was nothing short of incredible.

The other interesting speakers they had this year were mother/son team Kristine and Jacob Barnett. I didn’t get a chance to hear them at the other conventions, but since this was my last opportunity, I made a point to go to their talk. I am so glad I did! If you have not heard about them, Jacob was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old. His mother (Kristine) initially followed all the experts’ advice, which ended up meaning hours of therapy for Jacob every day. Eventually, however, she decided that all this therapy was robbing Jacob of his childhood. As a result, she stopped all the therapy and simply played with him. She blew dandelion puffs in his face, listened to music with him, and helped him search for patterns in the clouds.

She found that this was helping him much more than therapy, so she started encouraging other mothers of autistic children to do the same. In fact, she was so sure that this kind of nurturing was the best “therapy” autistic children could get, she began working with other autistic children. Her goal was simple: just enable them to do what they really wanted to do. She would get them what they needed, and she would simply help them do whatever it was that interested them. For some, this meant making robots. For others, it meant creating amazing paintings. For another, it meant chasing storms and trying to analyze them. In her own words:

I was not teaching them. I was letting them.

I don’t know much of anything about child development, especially when it comes to children with special needs. Thus, I have no idea how effective her strategy would be for most autistic children. However, she says that it was very effective for those that she helped. I can tell you for certain that it was effective for her son, Jacob, because his talk was one of the best I have heard in a long time.

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The 2015 Homeschool Iowa Conference

A portion of the crowd at the 2015 Homeschool Iowa Conference.

A portion of the crowd at the 2015 Homeschool Iowa Conference.

I spent this past weekend speaking at the Homeschool Iowa Conference. I had never been to this particular homeschool conference before, and I am so glad I got to go this year. The attendance was excellent, the conference ran smoothly, and the organizers treated the speakers incredibly well. My publisher’s booth was right across from Heidi St. John’s booth, and for the first time in quite a while, I got to spend some time talking with her and her husband, who has the world’s best first name (Jay). They are both wonderful servants of God, and spending time with them is a real blessing.

I gave six talks at the conference: Homeschooling: The Solution to our Education Problem, ‘Teaching’ Science at Home, Building a Biblical Worldview, Ecohysteria, Creation Versus Evolution, and What I Learned by Homeschooling. They were very well attended, and I got some excellent questions afterwards. I also spent a lot of time taking with individuals, including several very impressive homeschooled students.

One particularly impressive student was a junior in high school. After one of my talks, she asked me to sign a couple of her books. I noticed that one of them was my advanced chemistry course, which is essentially AP-level chemistry. I told her that I was impressed she was taking advanced chemistry, and she told me that she had already taken my biology, chemistry, and physics courses as well as a Human Anatomy and Physiology course. Once she finished advanced chemistry, she planned to take advanced physics. This means that by the time she graduates, she will have covered the equivalent of three AP-level science courses in high school! I told her how impressive that is, since many high school students don’t even take one AP-level science course. She was quite humble, however, brushing aside my praise and simply telling me that she really enjoys studying science.

Another student and his family spoke to me about their experience with the third edition of Exploring Creation with Chemistry. As you might know, I don’t recommend that edition to anyone because of its many scientific errors and its habit of requiring students to know things they have not yet been taught. The student told me that he had started with the third edition of the the course, not knowing that I wasn’t the author. As he tried to cover the material, he got more and more confused. Eventually, he realized that my name wasn’t on the book, so he got online and found a used second edition of the course (which was authored by me). When he used that edition, he understood and enjoyed the material. I told him I was very sorry that he had to do that and, unfortunately, there are probably many students who have found themselves in a similar position.

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