Yet Another Example of “Old” Fossils that Look Young!

This is a model of what a eurypterid might have looked like (Click for credit)
Scorpions are part of phylum Arthropoda, which contains all animals that do not have backbones but do have an outer coating of “armor,” which scientists call an exoskeleton. This exoskeleton is a complex structure that is formed primarily with proteins and a molecule called chitin (pronounced KY tin). While the scorpions we know today live on land, the fossil record holds remains of some very scorpion-like animals that most likely lived in water. They are called eurypterids, or sea scorpions.

As far as we know, sea scorpions are now extinct, but you can find their fossils in rocks near the bottom of the geological column. Using scientifically irresponsible dating techniques, paleontologists think that the oldest sea scorpion fossils are well over 400 million years old.1 Evolutionists think that those sea scorpions eventually found their way out of the water and invaded land, evolving into modern-day scorpions.

So why am I telling you this? Well, a new report published in Geology tells us about a surprising discovery made by scientists who were studying a sea scorpion fossil they say is 417 million years old and a land scorpion fossil they say is 310 million years old. This discovery casts a lot of doubt on those outlandish ages.

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Birds Use Quantum Mechanics to Navigate?

A European robin like the ones used in the study
(Click for credit)
In a previous post, I mentioned that some Christians don’t like the idea of quantum mechanics. In fact, some take great pains to fight against it, considering it a threat to a Christian worldview. Whether or not you like a theory, however, has little to do with its validity. Only the data are important, and when it comes to the data, there is overwhelming support for the validity of quantum mechanics. As a result, it’s hard to fight against it. In fact, a recent study suggests that rather than fight against it, we should marvel at how God has used it to accomplish some truly incredible things.

The study focused on how European robins sense the earth’s magnetic field. Lots of animals have been shown to be sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field, and they use it to help them navigate. In some cases, such as that of the rainbow trout, it has been shown that the animal does this with magnetite particles in a certain tissue. Those particles move in response to the earth’s magnetic field, allowing the animal to use them to orient itself.1

Migratory birds and homing pigeons have also been shown to be sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field. Magnetite has even been found in the upper beaks of such birds, which lends support to the idea that they sense the earth’s magnetic field in a way that is similar to that of the rainbow trout.2 Oddly enough, however the magnetic sensitivity of these birds is affected by light. Yellow and red light, for example, disrupt the birds’ ability to sense the earth’s magnetic field.3 This is more than a little odd, since the motion of magnetite in a magnetic field should not be affected by light.

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Richard A. Muller on Global Temperatures

The video above is an excerpt from a much longer lecture, which you can find here. I find it interesting because the man giving the lecture is Dr. Richard A. Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. What makes this video so interesting is that Dr. Muller believes that global warming is real. In a paper published in Technology Review back in 2003, he said:

Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate

Thus, he is a “true believer” in global warming. He actually goes on to talk about what he would LOVE to believe, and then he shudders at the idea that as a scientist, he has a desire to believe in anything. He wants his views to be completely data-driven.

Of course, this lies at the heart of his problem, because as he so clearly shows in the video above, the data that have been used to promote global warming are severely flawed. They have been manipulated. Indeed, he says that he cannot even believe the surface temperature data that show a slight increase in global temperature, because the same scientists who botched the famous “hockey stick” graph are the ones who did the analysis of surface temperature data to produce that graph.

As a result, Dr. Muller is doing his own statistical analysis of the surface temperature data to see for himself whether or not surface temperatures are increasing. His analysis will be reported here. I personally think that satellite data are more important in the analysis of global warming, and they still show no significant warming trend. Nevertheless, it should be interesting to see what Dr. Muller reports on his analysis of surface temperatures.

***UPDATE*** The LA Times has run a story indicating that based on 2% of the data being analyzed, Muller says his surface temperature data agree with the surface temperature data linked above. If the agreement remains after the other 98% has been analyzed, this will give us significantly more confidence that surface temperatures are actually warming. (Thanks to Singring for linking this article in a comment!)

The Southeast Homeschool Convention

The Southeast Homeschool Convention is now over, and I am back home. It was an excellent convention, as I have come to expect from the organization that arranged it. There were well over 2,000 families in attendance, and the talks I gave were incredibly well attended. I signed lots of students’ books (something I truly love to do) and met all sorts of impressive homeschooled students and homeschooling parents. I also posed for lots of pictures with students, which is something else I love to do.

I wanted to address two questions I got at this conference: one dealing with homeschooling at the high school level, and one dealing with theology.

During my talk ‘Teaching’ High School at Home, a parent asked about AP and/or CLEP tests – the tests that are often used by students to get college credits without actually taking college courses. The parent wanted to know if it is a good idea to take such tests, and if so, does it matter whether one uses AP or CLEP? The first thing I told the parent is that AP or CLEP exams are always a good idea, if you can afford the fee ($87 for the AP and $122 for the CLEP). If the student does poorly, which is rare among homeschooled students, you can simply not report the results to anyone. However, if the student does well, it strengthens your high school transcript. If you can list “Chemistry” on the student’s transcript and note that the student got a “4” on the AP (the second highest grade possible), it will go a long way towards convincing the evaluator that the student had an excellent chemistry course.

Now you need to realize that AP and CLEP tests are college-level tests, so your high school course in the subject needs to be very rigorous if the student is to have any hope of passing. I wouldn’t waste my money on an AP or CLEP test unless the student had a serious course in the subject. This brings me to the difference between the AP and the CLEP: Both test whether or not you know a subject at the college level, but the CLEP is an easier test. Thus, it is easier to get a good grade on the CLEP than it is to get a good grade on the AP. Why not just take the CLEP, then? Because since the CLEP is easier, it is not highly regarded by some colleges. There are many colleges that will give a student credit for a good score on the AP, but they won’t give the student credit for a good score on the CLEP. Thus, if you want to use the CLEP to get some college credit without taking the college classes, you need to make sure the college you are interested in accepts the CLEP.

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Dr. Enns Offers Me a New Biblical Insight

An Overview of the Bible

Now that the Southeast Homeschool Convention is over, I am headed back home. Before I start my trip, however, I want to briefly share a new Biblical insight I received from Dr. Peter Enns. I went to his talk entitled, “What Is the Bible, Anyway (and what do we do with it)?” Dr. Enns started his talk with several different ways that Christians tend to read the Bible. For example, he said that many Christians read the Bible as an “owner’s manual” for life. They look for specific “rules” in the Bible that apply to specific situations in their lives. While there is validity to that view, it tends to concentrate on the details you find in the Bible, missing the Bible’s big picture. He went through several other ways that Christians tend to read the Bible, and while they all have validity, they all suffer from the same weakness – they miss the big picture of the Bible.

I have to admit that I have always concentrated on the details of the Bible. I think it has to do with my scientific training. I tend to focus on the details, as that is where I tend to find the data I need as a scientist. As a result, I never had the big picture of the Bible in mind. Dr. Enns provided it for me.

He said that if you really think about the Bible from beginning to end, it is split into four basic sections, listed in the diagram above. The Bible starts with creation and the curse. God created a magnificent world that was “very good.” It was not perfect, but it was very good. Then the Fall happened, which brought on the curse. The rest of the Old Testament contains the details of the nation of Israel, whose entire purpose was to bring us Jesus, Who would be able to bring us back to God. Most of the New Testament deals with Jesus, His work, and how we are to follow Him. The last two chapters of the New Testament (Revelation 21-22) tell us about the new heaven and new earth, which include a new Eden. In other words, by the end of the story, we are back where we started – we are back in Eden. He said if you think about the Bible this way, you find:

The Bible is God’s grand story, and the main point of that story is to tell us the lengths to which He will go in order to bring us back to him.

What a wonderful way to think about the Bible’s big picture. Thank you, Dr. Enns!

Dr. Peter Enns on the “Dark Side” of the Old Testament

Dr. Peter Enns
I am currently at the Southeast Homeschool convention in Greenville, South Carolina. It is a wonderful experience. The conference is very well attended, and I have spoken to many, many homeschoolers over the past day and a half. The most amazing thing for me is speaking to the homeschooled students who have come to the convention. It is incredible to see what God is doing in their lives. Some of the most impressive people I have met in my entire life are homeschooled students!

As I noted in my previous post, I was excited to see that Dr. Peter Enns is a speaker at this convention. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend his first talk, as it conflicted with a talk that I was giving. However, I was able to attend his second talk, and I was very glad that I did. While I had read some of his work (most notably Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament), I had never seen him in person. It will probably come to a surprise to some of the commenters on my previous post that he did not have horns growing out of his head or any sign of a red tail (as far as I could see). Instead, he came across as an incredibly humble man of God who has a genuine love for the Word.

The title of his talk was “The Dark Side of the Old Testament and What We Must Learn from it.” He said that an alternative title was, “Struggling with your faith (and what God is teaching you through it).” It was a down-to-earth, encouraging talk about those times in your Christian life when your faith is tested.

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An Opportunity for Critical Thinking!

The Southeast Homeschool Convention begins tomorrow, and I have six talks to give. I am excited to go, because the convention is organized by the same group that did the Midsouth Homeschool Convention two weeks ago, and it was a great success. My excitement partially gave way to disappointment, however, when I read Ken Ham’s blog entry from yesterday. Mr. Ham is a speaker at the same convention, but he is obviously upset at the fact that someone who disagrees with him will be speaking at the same venue.

He starts off his blog this way:

Sadly, one of the speakers also listed to give presentations does not believe in a historical Adam or historical Fall (he will also be promoting his “Bible” curriculum for homeschoolers). In fact, what he teaches about Genesis is not just compromising Genesis with evolution, it is outright liberal theology that totally undermines the authority of the Word of God. It is an attack on the Word—on Christ.

Then he gets really nasty. He claims that the speaker, Dr. Peter Enns, doesn’t have a Biblical view of the inspiration of Scripture and that his approach to Genesis and Romans will shock people.

Since Mr. Ham has decided to rip into a well-educated scholar with a publication list that includes such important journals as the Westminster Theological Journal and the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, I thought it only right for another young-earth creationist (yours truly) to offer a different view.

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A quick update on the Japanese Nuclear Reactors

My previous post gave several details regarding the problems that are plaguing the Japanese nuclear power plants right now. I wanted to add one bit of information that I learned this morning.

It turns out that the Japanese nuclear reactors did have diesel generators as a backup system. So when the earthquake took out the nation’s power grid, the cooling systems were running fine off their diesel generators. If that were the end of the story, there would not be any serious nuclear-power-plant problems now. Unfortunately, when the tsunami hit later on, the saltwater infiltrated the generators, making them nonfunctional. That’s when the plants had to switch to battery power.

So it turns out that it took a “one-two” punch to put the Japanese nuclear power plants where they are now. The earthquake by itself wouldn’t have been a problem for the power plants. It was the earthquake followed by the tsunami that did them in.

The Nuclear Power Plants In Japan

I have gotten questions via E-MAIL, Facebook, and phone regarding what is going on at the nuclear power plants in Japan, so I thought I would post my thoughts here. I am not privy to any special information regarding the disaster in Japan. I am getting my news from the same sources that anyone else can use. However, as a nuclear chemist, I can easily spot the flaws in many of the news reports and commentaries related to the Japanese nuclear power plants.

Before I discuss my take on what is happening in Japan, let’s get one thing straight:

A nuclear power plant CANNOT experience a nuclear explosion!

In order to produce a nuclear explosion, you must have a runaway nuclear chain reaction. To have such a runaway nuclear chain reaction, you must have a very specific amount of nuclear fuel in a very specific geometry. A nuclear power plant (by design) does not have the right amount of fuel in the right geometry. So even if all the safety measures completely stop working, there is no chance that the nuclear reactor will turn into a nuclear bomb. Basic physics says this is not possible.

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Intelligent Design in Science?

A stone tool, somewhat similar to those discussed in the article (click for credit)
I am not sure how this ever made it past the reviewers, but an article in the January 28, 2011 issue of the journal Science discussed research from an intelligent design standpoint. The article reports on research done by Hans-Peter Uerpmann and his colleagues. They were excavating a rock shelter at the end of a long limestone mountain near Al-Madam, Sharjah Emirate (of the UAE), and they found stones that were shaped rather differently than most of the other stones in that same area. Most of them were tapered at one end and curved at the other, and there were specific surfaces that seemed perfectly suited for fingers to hold onto the stones.1 The research is considered important, because if the results stand up to scrutiny, they upset current ideas regarding the migration of human beings out of Africa.

It is hard to keep track of the evolutionary model of the origin of human beings, because it changes abruptly every time new data cannot be forced into compliance. Nevertheless, the evolutionary view currently accepted by the majority of evolutionists is that modern human beings evolved in Africa and then started migrating from there about 50,000-75,000 years ago. Dr. Uerpmann’s research team, however, found these stones in the Arabian peninsula, and based on scientifically irresponsible dating techniques, they claim the stones are 125,000 years old.

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