Autism – Closing In On the Causes

Autism is a poorly-understood condition characterized by problems with social interaction and communication. It is clearly a complex neurological issue, and its symptoms range from quite mild to very severe. As a result, neurologists tend to use the term “autism spectrum disorders” (ASDs), as they suspect autism is made up of a group of disorders with similar features.

I have a good friend with Asperger Syndrome, which is an autism spectrum disorder. While he seems mostly like any other person, he has some obsessive, repetitive rituals, and he sometimes experiences great difficulty in communicating with people, especially those who are unfamiliar with his personality. On the other side of the spectrum, a couple I know fairly well has a son with severe autism. It is difficult for them to communicate with him. It is as if he lives in his own little world. Additionally, he often experiences “meltdowns” in which he slams himself against the ground or the wall and screams at the top of his lungs. His behavior is not the result of “bad parenting.” It is the result of a serious neurological disorder.

What is frustrating for both health-care providers and parents is that so far, medical science has little to offer in terms of explaining what causes autism. In addition, while there are behavioral therapies that have helped many people with ASDs, it is difficult to prescribe a specific therapy for a specific individual. This, of course, leaves doctors and parents rather frustrated.

While there is a lot we don’t know about ASDs, there are things we do know. We know that they are on the rise. Even though there are many different ways to define ASDs, which leads to many different specific numbers, a good overview can be found here. Based on their numbers for the U.S. and outlying areas, for example, ASDs among people age 6-22 have increased 18-fold since 1992!

What are the causes of ASDs? The answer is that we don’t know. However, medical scientists are at least closing in on them.

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Entropy and Evolution, Part 2

In my previous post, I discussed the proper way to apply the Second Law of Thermodynamics to a simple process: the freezing of water in a bucket. Now I want to apply the Second Law of Thermodynamics to the process of evolution. This is a difficult thing to do, because currently, there is no accepted mechanism for the process of evolution. Evolution might occur according to the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis; it might occur via punctuated equilibrium; it might occur according to the evo-devo view; it might occur as a result of facilitated variation; it might occur by some as yet undiscovered mechanism; or it might occur as a result of a combination of all or some of these mechanisms.

Even though there is no agreed-upon mechanism for evolution, some general statements can be made about the supposed process, and that should be enough to allow us to roughly apply the Second Law of Thermodynamics to it. In general, evolution says that organisms increase in complexity over time. A single-celled organism, for example, eventually developed the ability (through some as yet unknown process) to cooperate with other cells, which eventually led to a multicelled organism. Clearly, a multicelled organism is more complex than a single-celled organism, so via that unknown process, “simpler” single-celled organisms gave rise to “more complex” multicelled organisms. These multicelled organisms began to develop (once again, through some as yet unknown process) more “advanced” features, so that eventually a large diversity of life formed.

The longer evolution had to work through its unknown process, the more complex living creatures became. Thus, while it took some time for the evolutionary process to create relatively “simple” multicelled creatures, it took more time for evolution to produce complex invertebrates, and it took more time for evolution to produce vertebrates. The more “advanced” the vertebrate, the longer it took for evolution to produce it.

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Entropy and Evolution, Part 1

I was reading Dr. Hunter’s blog yesterday, and he had a post about entropy and evolution. In that post, he cited an article that comes to the right conclusion on the issue, but for the wrong reason. In fact, I am surprised that it passed peer review, since it promotes a very bad misconception regarding the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Because both creationists and evolutionists do a very poor job of applying the Second Law of Thermodynamics to the concept of origins, I thought I would try to explain the proper way to interpret the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In the next post, I will then apply the Second Law to the concept of evolution.

Before I get started, however, let me tell you the overall conclusion. The Second Law of Thermodynamics DOES NOT forbid the process of evolution. I know there are many creationists out there who claim that it does, but they are simply wrong. In addition, I know there are a lot of evolutionists out there who claim that it doesn’t, but they do so for reasons that are often wrong. So let’s talk about the Second law of Thermodynamics and how to properly apply it to many situations, including the process of evolution.

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Laminin Shaminin

If you haven’t seen it, there is a video on Godtube, Youtube, and probably any other tube out there. It is of some preacher named Louie Giglio. He claims to have spoken to a “molecular biologist” from a “local university” who told him about the protein called laminin. This supposed molecular biologist told him that laminin is a cell adhesion molecule that “holds the body together.” Then, he shows his audience a “scientific illustration” of what laminin looks like. Here is basically what he shows the audience:

He goes on to say that this is confirmation of Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” So…because the “scientific illustration” of laminin looks like a cross, God is using science to remind us that Christ holds all things together. Just in case the “scientific illustration” doesn’t convince you, he shows you an electron microscope image of laminin. He shows this:

Now I have to admit that someone who knows little about protein chemistry could easily be taken in by such tripe. Thus, even though this video upsets me, I am not upset with the people who send me this video. Neither am I upset with Louie Giglio for talking about this in his sermon without really understanding it. Preachers talk about things they don’t understand all the time, including the Bible. Thus, it doesn’t surprise me that a preacher would talk about protein chemistry even though he doesn’t understand it. What bothers me is that Louie Giglio claims he got this information from a molecular biologist.

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Vaccines: One of the Greatest Medical Advances God has Allowed us to Discover

Many well-meaning individuals really think that vaccines are bad for you. These people are predisposed to distrust the government (as am I), and they have been (incorrectly) taught that the government is manipulating the scientific data to make vaccines seem more effective or safer than they actually are. Of course, anyone who understands how scientific research is done and the processes by which it gets published knows that such nonsense isn’t true. However, most people are mystified by the scientific process, so these kinds of “conspiracy theories” sound believable.

In an attempt to help people from being misled about vaccines, I have decided to gather together what I consider the most relevant information related to the scientific research regarding vaccines. If you are interesting in learning the REAL FACTS regarding vaccines, you will read through what is posted here. Please understand, however, that you must have the courage to actually face the facts. If you have been deceived by the lies of the anti-vaccination movement, you might be upset by what you read. I do pray that you have the fortitude to proceed, however, as your children’s lives might depend on it. Make no mistake, the facts are crystal clear: children and adults die or are permanently injured because of the lies of the anti-vaccination movement. If you care about your children and your loved ones, you will carefully investigate this issue.

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