A Scientist Turns From Atheism to the Truth

Dr. Sy Garte, scientist and former atheist
Dr. Sy Garte holds an earned Ph.D. in biochemistry from the City University of New York and a B.S. in chemistry from the City College of New York. He is an accomplished scientist, with over 200 publications in the peer-reviewed literature. Throughout his career, he held several very important positions, including Division Director of Physiological and Pathological Sciences at the Center for Scientific Review, which is responsible for thousands of grants that provide hundreds of millions of dollars to support important medical research. I didn’t know anything about him until one of my readers sent me an article he wrote in Christianity Today. I was immediately hooked by its title:

I Assumed Science Had All the Answers. Then I Started Asking Inconvenient Questions.

Essentially, Dr. Garte was raised a communist and an atheist. As a result, he relied on science to provide answers to all his questions. However, as he got older, he started asking questions to which science has no real answers. He then met some scientifically-minded Christians who led him to church. That led him to read the Bible, which he says he knew was false, even though he had never read it. Not surprisingly, he was surprised by what he read. Eventually, an Evangelical preacher on the radio led him to his Savior.

Because I am a scientist, I know a lot of people who think like Dr. Garte once did. Some of them believe science has all the answers because they were indoctrinated to believe it and simply won’t consider how absurd such an idea is. Others believe it because science has produced a lot of wonders that make our lives healthier, easier, and more enjoyable. Others believe it simply because they think it’s “cool” to say inane things like, “I believe in science.” I have many Facebook “friends” who fall into that last category. However, like Dr. Garte, anyone who understands science and thinks deeply about it will end up agreeing with Dr. Erwin Schrödinger, the man who gave us our modern view of the atom:1

…the scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but is ghastly silent about all that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously.

Obviously, Dr. Garte came to agree with Dr. Schrödinger, and he has now turned to the Source of real Truth, which is wonderful!

Dr. Garte has a blog that discusses science from a theological and philosophical point of view. Based on what I have read, there are a lot of things about which we disagree. However, I applaud what he is doing, and I agree 100% with how he summarized what he has learned since becoming a Christian:

I learned about the power of the Bible as a guide from God to the central questions of our existence. I learned that the true purpose of science is to describe how things are, not to engage in misplaced speculation about why the world is the way it is. I learned that modern atheist taunts about the purposelessness and meaninglessness of the universe and our own existence are not only false but destructive. Most importantly, I learned that nothing I have learned came through my own merit, but only from the grace of our Lord, whose love and mercy are beyond understanding.


1. Erwin Schrödinger, Nature and the Greeks and Science and Humanism (Cambridge University Press, 2014) p. 95.
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Dr. Fauci, Americans Believe Science, but They Don’t Believe Many Scientists (For Very Good Reasons).

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (click for credit)
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force was recently on the US Department of Health and Human Services’ podcast, which is called “The Learning Curve.” It exists so people can hear from experts in the department, learning what those experts are doing and what they think you should know. Obviously, Dr. Fauci was on to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some of what he said on the podcast was valuable, he made one statement that shows he is completely out of touch with most people in the United States:

One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority…

Now, of course, you can always find people who don’t believe science for a variety of reasons. In my experience, however, they are few and far between. The majority of people in the United States hold science in very high regard. For example, Scientific American recently conducted a poll that found 90% of the people they surveyed wanted science to have a significant influence on society. An additional 7% wanted science to have some influence, which leaves a mere 3% that wanted science to have no influence at all. This is consistent with what I see around the nation. Most people believe science, some are skeptical, and very few think it has no value.

If people in the United States believe science, why does Dr. Fauci think they don’t? Because he is confusing science with scientists. As a scientist myself, let me put this very bluntly: In general, you can trust science. However, you cannot trust many scientists. Why do I say this? The Scientific American article linked above gives one reason: Many scientists have values that conflict with the majority of people in the United States, and those values affect how they interpret the science they know. For example, when a scientist doesn’t recognize that this world is a product of design, he or she will be led to all sorts of false conclusions. When the scientist communicates those false conclusions as if they are absolute fact, many reasonable people end up distrusting him or her.

But the Scientific American article linked above misses the more important reason people don’t trust scientists. It’s because scientists regularly make statements that they claim are absolutely true, but eventually, those statements are shown to be false. I highlighted a recent example a year ago. Visitors to Glacier National Park were told that computer models indicated the glaciers they are admiring will be gone by 2020. Well, it’s 2020, and the glaciers are still at the park. So what did the scientists do? Did they admit to their mistake? No. They quietly removed the signs, hoping the mistake would go unnoticed. In this day and age, however, such things rarely do.

The nonsense about the glaciers isn’t an isolated example. Time and time again, scientists make pronouncements and even take action based on ideas that they claim are absolutely true, but end up being utterly false. It was thought for a long time that the human appendix was a useless remnant of evolution. This silly notion was believed by surgeons, so many would remove the appendix from a patient having abdominal surgery, even if the appendix was entirely healthy. We now know that the appendix is an important lymphatic organ, and people without an appendix are more likely to have difficulty recovering from certain intestinal diseases. Tonsils are another example. It was once common practice to remove inflamed tonsils rather than treat the inflammation with medicine, because tonsils were supposed to be a leftover vestige of evolution. People who were unfortunate enough to be treated by someone who believed such nonsense (me, for example) are much more likely to suffer from respiratory, allergic, and infectious diseases. The fact that scientists routinely make definitive statements which are later shown to be wrong is so well-known that it is the subject of comedy routines.

In the end, scientists have themselves to blame when it comes to people not believing their pronouncements. They have betrayed the public trust too many times, because they have forgotten that by its very nature, science is tentative. Thus, it cannot be used to make grand pronouncements of absolute truth. Scientists have to realize that they are not priests. They are people who have expertise, but that expertise is based on a method of inquiry which routinely produces false conclusions. Rather than making grand pronouncements about the “truth,” they should show people the evidence and explain how they interpret the evidence. If they don’t communicate science that way, the public has no choice but to distrust them.

Homeschooling: Protecting Freedom, Protecting Children

On Monday, the Cato Institute hosted a panel discussion about homeschooling. It was prompted by an uninformed article that was published in the Arizona Law Review. The author of that article, Professor Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard University, was one of the four panelists. The others who joined her were Neal McCluskey and Kerry McDonald from the Cato Institute and Professor Milton Gaither from Messiah College. I encourage you to watch the entire discussion by clicking on the image above, but I cannot resist adding my own “color commentary.”

I watched the discussion live, and I appreciated the fact that all the panelists were collegial. While they all had different ideas regarding homeschooling, there were no personal attacks or insults. That can’t be said about the text comments that were being added by some of the people who were watching. According to the software, 1,100 people were watching once the introductions were over, and 2,009 were watching by the very end, which was just over an hour and a half later.

The main issue that all the panelists addressed was how much government intervention should exist when it comes to home education. Here are the ways I would summarize each panelist’s position as expressed in the discussion: Professor Bartholet thinks that parents must demonstrate that they will be effective educators and provide a safe environment before they should be allowed to homeschool. Kerry McDonald said that there really shouldn’t be any government intervention, since the government has shown that it cannot educate children well or keep them safe. Neal McCluskey said that there should be limited intervention, confined to making sure children are not being abused or neglected. However, he emphasized that this should be done through the existing criminal processes, which assume innocence until guilt is proven. Professor Gaither didn’t really offer an opinion, but said that he has been horrified by some of the news accounts of abuse done by homeschooling parents. He also gave a history of homeschooling that was a bit biased, but relatively accurate.

Continue reading “Homeschooling: Protecting Freedom, Protecting Children”

A Life Dedicated to Love

Ellen Irene Parran, who passed into her Savior’s arms on May 27, 2020. She was 91.
I meet a lot of different people. Some of them are fans, and they offer me high praise. Some of them are definitely not fans, and they offer me insults. Some of them share common interests with me, and they support me in those interests. Many of them are brothers and sisters in Christ, and they offer me love. I am sure that the vast majority of those brothers and sisters are sincere in their offer, but every once in a while, I meet a brother or sister who actually demonstrates the love of Christ to me. One of those sisters was Ellen Irene Parran. While she is now gone from this world, it will continue to be a better place because of her effect on it.

I met Sister Parran (who quickly became Mother Parran to me) because I spoke at the Creation Evidence Expo, which was organized by her son-in-law, Pastor Fredrick Boyd, Jr. of Zion Unity Baptist Church. I am sure I was introduced to her earlier, but my first memory of her was something that happened at a dinner she had prepared for the speakers. The ribs she made were the best I had ever eaten, and I went over to her and told her that. She smiled and told me that she was happy I liked them, and I turned around to go back to where I was sitting. However, she gently grabbed my shoulders, turned me around, looked me straight in my eyes, and said:

I love you Dr. Jay. Don’t you ever forget that.

It’s easy for someone to say those words, and it’s easy for me to hear them and quickly forget them. However, looking deep into Mother Parran’s eyes, it was clear that she really meant what she said. And, more importantly, she lived out those words. Whenever I saw her, whether it was because of the Expo or because I was just visiting, she would make sure that all my needs (physical, emotional, and spiritual) were being met. When my wife was diagnosed with cancer, she regularly sent me encouraging messages, assuring me that she was praying for us. In short, she lived out those words from the time she said them until the time she died.

Of course, her love was not just lavished on me. It was given to anyone who would receive it, regardless of color, creed, or nationality. I remember one time a bunch of us were sitting around a table, and during a break in the conversation, she said:

This is what the Kingdom of God looks like.

At first I didn’t understand the context, but as I looked around the table, I figured out what she meant. There were men and women with several different skin colors from several different countries, and we were all united because of our love of Jesus.

I attended her funeral on Saturday, which was called her “Homegoing Celebration,” and those words immediately came back to my mind. The church contained people with different skin colors from different countries, but we were all united by the love that she gave us, which was a result of her love for Jesus. Indeed, the sanctuary of the church that morning was an example of what God’s kingdom looks like.

As those very different people spoke about how she had changed their lives, I could not help but think 1 Corinthians 13:13:

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Because of the way she loved others, Mother Parran is one of the greatest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. She is gone, and I will miss her, but the power of her love has already changed the world for the better, and it will continue to do so through the people who were fortunate enough to experience it.

Yet Another Mistake Made in Climate Models

Computer models are the main source of hysteria when it comes to global warming.
(Image a montage from two sources: pixabay.com and stockunlimited.com)

When you read or listen to the news, you are faced with dire predictions about global warming, aka “climate change.” For example, ABC news states:

Global warming will be twice as severe as previous estimates indicate, according to a new study published this month in the Journal of Climate, a publication of the American Meteorological Society. The research, conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), predicts a 90% probability that worldwide surface temperatures will rise more than 9 degrees (F) by 2100, compared to a previous 2003 MIT study that forecast a rise of just over 4 degrees.

Of course, a 9 degree Fahrenheit increase in global temperature will produce catastrophic results. How did the researchers come to the startling conclusion that there is a 90% chance it will happen? They used a computer model that attempts to simulate global climate under different scenarios. The problem, of course, is that the prediction is only as good as the model.

The obvious question, then, is how good are the models? The unfortunate answer is, “Not good at all.” As Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science Dr. John Christy has stated:

On average the models warm the global atmosphere at a rate three times that of the real world. Using the scientific method we would conclude that the models do not accurately represent at least some of the important processes that impact the climate because they were unable to “predict” what has occurred. In other words, these models failed at the simple test of telling us “what” has already happened, and thus would not be in a position to give us a confident answer to “what” may happen in the future and “why.”

Why are the models so bad? Because we don’t really understand climate science well enough to model it. A recent paper by Professor of Atmospheric Science Da Yang and his graduate student, Seth Seidel, provides a crystal clear example of what I mean. The paper’s abstract begins this way:

Moist air is lighter than dry air at the same temperature, pressure, and volume because the molecular weight of water is less than that of dry air. We call this the vapor buoyancy effect. Although this effect is well documented, its impact on Earth’s climate has been overlooked.

Because of its lower molecular weight, water vapor is less dense than air at the same temperature, so air with a lot of water vapor floats in dry air at the same temperature and pressure. As the paper says, this is well documented. However, no one thought to see how that might affect the earth’s climate. Well, these two scientists decided to do just that, and based on their calculations, it actually cools the atmosphere.

Here’s a simplified explanation for why: In the tropics, we find regions of wet air and regions of dry air. At the same elevation, the regions must have roughly the same density. Otherwise, the less dense region would rise. Thus, if I have a stable region of wet air next to a stable region of dry air, the dry air must be warmer, so it has the same density as the wet air. Thus, at any given elevation, the dry regions will be the warmer regions. Well, water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas, so wet air doesn’t allow as much energy to escape from the earth as dry air. Since the dry air is warmer, there is more energy in it. That means the energy is more concentrated in the air that will allow more of it to escape. This, of course, results in the earth getting rid of more energy, which causes it to cool.

Now here’s the interesting part: the author’s calculations show that this effect becomes magnified the higher the ocean temperature. In other words, if the tropical oceans warm up, this effect will end up producing even more cooling. This is an example of a negative feedback system, where a change produces an effect that resists the change. The earth’s climate is full of negative feedback systems (see here, here, here, and here, for example). This is exactly what you expect for a well-designed system, and the earth is a very well-designed system.

In their paper, the authors state that the climate models from which dire warnings are generated have the ability to simulate this effect, but they don’t. They suggest that climate models should be adjusted to take the effect into account. Of course, I agree. Whenever we learn more about climate dynamics, the models should be updated. However, my point is much more basic: This is a well documented, well understood aspect of the atmosphere, but until now, no one has thought to see its effect on the earth’s climate. After investigation, it is found to produce negative feedback, which makes earth’s climate more resistant to change. If this well documented, well understood aspect of the earth’s atmosphere has not been properly taken into account in the climate models that are forecasting doom and gloom, how in the world can we put any faith in them?

My Review of Exploring Creation With Biology, 3rd Edition

The third edition of Exploring Creation With Biology.
The company that initially published my science textbooks has been slowly coming out with new editions, which is necessary. Science constantly changes, which means the textbooks must change as well. So far, I strongly recommend two of their new editions: The Human Body, 2nd Edition and Exploring Creation With Marine Biology, 2nd Edition. Another new edition, Exploring Creation With General Science, 3rd Edition, was not good enough for me to recommend, but I also don’t recommend against using it. Two other new editions, Exploring Creation with Chemistry, 3rd Edition and Exploring Creation With Physical Science, 3rd Edition, have so many flaws that I strongly recommend against using them. This edition belongs in a completely different category: I can recommend it for students in a classroom setting or in a homeschool co-op that has a leader who knows biology well. However, I strongly recommend against it for homeschooled students working independently.

The main reason is simple: there is way too much material in the book. Like a traditional classroom text, this book aims a firehose of facts at the students and turns it on at full pressure! There are infographics packed with facts throughout the text, modules in excess of 40 pages of content, and a single experiment that combines three experiments from the second edition of the course. Simply put, this book is too much for a typical high school student. As a result, the student needs a teacher to separate the essential material from the non-essential material. In addition, because the book packs in so much information, it cannot spend adequate space explaining things. Thus, a teacher must be there to explain the things that the book does not.

Unlike the same author’s physical science book, however, this one is not full of scientific errors. There are only three serious errors, the worst of which is this statement:

When I took high school biology in 1977, the Time magazine headline read ‘How to Survive the Coming Ice Age’ because scientists believed we were in the midst of a global cooling event.

Time never ran a magazine with that title anywhere in it. The author probably saw the Photoshopped image of Time’s April 9, 2007 cover in which the date was changed and the actual headline, “Global Warming Survival Guide,” was replaced with the false headline she mentions. While it is true that there were several scientists who feared we were heading into a global cooling event in the mid-70s, the scientific discussion was not covered much in the popular media. It was mostly confined to the scientific literature.

There are some minor errors in the book as well, such as saying that Linnaeus separated organisms into seven taxons. In fact, he used only five. The other two were added later. However, those errors are not bad and will not affect the student’s future education in any serious way.

There are some parts that will really confuse students. Not only are some topics inadequately explained, many of the figures are so small that you can’t see what you need to see. For example, in one experiment the student is supposed to use a biological key for several pictured organisms, including grape and corn plants. However, in order to use the key, they need to see the veins on the leaves, and the pictures are too small for that. The author also uses terms that I cannot find an explanation for (like epigenetics). In addition, there are times where something is presented but not explained until later. For example, one figure has the equation ATP makes ADP + P without explaining what ADP and P are until several pages later. The index is also sparse and is missing crucial formatting in certain places.

There are many things I didn’t like about the text, including the fact that like the author’s physical science course, the student text is softcover. However, those things don’t necessarily make it a bad text. They just make it a text that I don’t like. The complete review is below, including the three serious science errors I found, the 10 minor science/history errors I found, the 16 parts that I think will be confusing to students, the three things I liked, and the 15 things I didn’t like.

My Complete Review of Exploring Creation With Biology, 3rd Edition

My Review of Exploring Creation With Physical Science, 3rd Edition

The third edition of Exploring Creation With Physical Science
The company that initially published my science textbooks has been slowly coming out with new editions, which is necessary. Science constantly changes, which means the textbooks must change as well. So far, I strongly recommend two of their new editions: The Human Body, 2nd Edition and Exploring Creation With Marine Biology, 2nd Edition. Another new edition, Exploring Creation With General Science, 3rd Edition, was not good enough for me to recommend, but I also don’t recommend against using it. Another new edition, Exploring Creation with Chemistry, 3rd Edition, has so many flaws that I strongly recommend against using it. Unfortunately, I must include Exploring Creation With Physical Science, 3rd Edition in the same category. I strongly recommend against using it.

In my view, there are many, many problems with this book, but let me start with the most obvious: The student text is softcover. In my mind, this is a big step backwards. Most homeschooling families want the student text to be hardcover, because they want several children to use it over a period of many years. Softcover books do not hold up well in that kind of scenario. Of course, other companies offer their student texts in softcover, such as this one. However, the price is much lower. For Exploring Creation with Physical Science, 3rd Edition, the softcover student text sells for the same price as a hardcover student text. That simply makes no sense.

Of course, the real problem with the course isn’t the makeup of the book; it’s the content. For example, the book contradicts itself when it comes to temperature. Initially, it says that temperature is a measure of heat. That’s not true. Later on, it says that temperature is a measure of the energy of random motion in the molecules of a substance. That is correct. However, the book also says that different colors of light have different temperatures. That’s impossible, of course, since light is not composed of molecules.

This kind of self-contradiction is not limited to light. When discussing motion, the author spends quite a bit of time distinguishing between scalar quantities (which have no information regarding direction) and vector quantities (which include information about direction). She then properly identifies speed as a scalar quantity (it says how fast you are moving), while velocity is a vector quantity (it says how fast and in what direction you are moving). She then properly identifies acceleration as a vector quantity. However, she goes on to show graphs of speed versus time and states that the slope of a speed versus time graph is the acceleration. That’s contradictory. If acceleration is a vector quantity, it cannot be calculated from a graph that has only scalar quantities in it!

The author also tries to give historical context for some of the subjects that are being discussed. Unfortunately, much of the history is often seriously in error. The author claims that the works of Aristotle were lost as the Western world started using Latin instead of Greek, and they weren’t “rediscovered” until the Renaissance. Nothing could be further from the truth! John Philoponus (490-570) specifically discussed Aristotle’s work and argued against some of his ideas, as did Thomas Bradwardine (c. 1300-1349) and many others. Most importantly, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) took great pains to integrate Aristotle’s work into Christian theology, spawning an entire scholastic philosophy called “Aristotelian Thomism.” All of that happened when the author thinks the works of Aristotle were “lost.”

In addition, this book is supposed to be for homeschooled students, but there are so many confusing discussions that I don’t see how someone learning independently could be successful. For example, the author uses units that do not cancel in equations as early as page 56 and expects the students to be able to do so. She has explained how to cancel units, but not what to do when they don’t cancel. She doesn’t explain that until page 195. As another example, she has students determine the chemical formulas for ionic compounds, which requires looking at the periodic table and determining the charge that an ion will have in that compound. She tells the student how to determine the charge of positive ions, but she doesn’t tell them how to determine the charge of negative ions. Nevertheless, the student must be able to do that to solve the problems that she expects them to solve.

If you want to read the full review, you can do so below. It catalogs the 13 serious scientific and historical errors I found as well as 20 less serious errors. None of these errors are typos or misspellings. They are all conceptual errors or factual errors. The full review also includes the 14 confusing discussions I noticed, 12 things I didn’t like but aren’t errors, and three things I just didn’t understand. It also discusses how much of this book overlaps with the book the publisher says the students should use the year before, Exploring Creation With General Science, 3rd Edition.

My Complete Review of Exploring Creation With Physical Science, 3rd Edition