Yet Another Global Warming Alarmist Prediction Has Been Falsified

One species of coccolithophore (click for credit)
One species of coccolithophore
(click for credit)
The best way to evaluate a scientific hypothesis is to use it to make predictions, which can then be compared to observations. The more the predictions line up with the observations, the more scientific merit the hypothesis has. Based on this commonly-used evaluation, the hypothesis that increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will result in catastrophic climate change has virtually no scientific merit whatsoever. As I have discussed previously (see here, here, here, here, and here), the predictions made by global warming alarmists have been demonstrated to be wrong time and time again. Recently, I ran across another study that adds to this growing list of falsified predictions.

The picture shown above is of an ocean-dwelling microscopic organism known as a coccolithophore. It makes its own food via photosynthesis, and it also makes the “plates” that you see covering it. It makes them by absorbing bicarbonate (HCO3) and calcium from ocean and making calcium carbonate (CaCO3). When coccolithophores die, their calcium carbonate plates sink to the bottom of the ocean, making deposits of chalk.

Now it turns out that this process of making plates out of calcium carbonate is influenced by the acidity of the water. The more acidic the water, the harder it is for coccolithophores (and all organisms that do the same chemistry) to make calcium carbonate. Well, increasing levels of carbon dioxide leads to increasing acidity (technically, lowering alkalinity) of ocean water, since carbon dioxide can react with water to form carbonic acid. It is therefore assumed that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will harm coccolithophores. As one book on biodiversity puts it:1

Higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, by making oceans more acidic, could reduce coccolithophore populations (by interfering with their skeletal formation), thereby reducing a major CO2 sink and leading to still higher levels of atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

Fortunately, actual scientific observations demonstrate precisely the opposite.

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Mathematics and Science

This is one way to visualize the meaning of the irrational number "pi."  If a wheel has a diameter of 1, it will travel a distance of pi when it makes one complete revolution. (click for credit)
This is one way to visualize the meaning of the irrational number “pi.” If a wheel has a diameter of 1, it will travel a distance of pi when it makes one complete revolution. (click for credit)

Was mathematics discovered or invented? That might seem like an odd question, but it is an important one. I haven’t seen any official poll on the matter, but I suspect that most mathematicians, philosophers, and scientists would say that it must have been invented. After all, math is a tool. We use it for accounting, parceling out land, etc. Surely people invented this tool and then improved on it over time. If that’s really true, however, there is a deep mystery that is awfully hard to explain. Nobel laureate Dr. Eugene Wigner (a theoretical physicist and mathematician) put it this way:

The first point is that the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and that there is no rational explanation for it.

Think about it. We didn’t invent the natural world. We simply study it. If we invented mathematics, why does it play such an integral role in our understanding of the natural world?

In my opinion, there is no mystery as to why mathematics is so useful in the natural sciences. That’s because I don’t think we invented it; I think we discovered it. Indeed, I think it is the language of creation. As Galileo wrote:

[The universe] cannot be read until we have learnt the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word.

I was reminded of Galileo’s wise words when I read a short paper by two professors from my alma mater, the University of Rochester.

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New Study Indicates Chimp DNA is 88% Similar to Human DNA

A chromosome-by-chromosome comparison of human and chimp DNA.  The bars show the percent match on the chimpanzee chromosome to the corresponding portion of human DNA. (figure from the study being discussed)
A chromosome-by-chromosome comparison of human and chimp DNA. The bars show the percent match on the chimpanzee chromosome to the corresponding portion of human DNA. (figure from the study being discussed)

NOTE: Based on comments below by Glenn (who is mentioned in the article) and Aceofspades25, there are questions regarding the analysis used in Dr. Tomkins’s study, upon which this article is based. Until Dr. Tomkins addresses these questions, it is best to be skeptical of his 88% similarity figure.

More than two years ago, Dr. Jeffrey P. Tomkins, a former director of the Clemson University Genomics Institute, performed a detailed, chromosome-by-chromosome comparison of human and chimpanzee DNA using a widely-recognized computer program known as BLAST. His analysis indicated that, on average, human and chimpanzee DNA are only about 70% similar. This is far, far, below the 95-99% numbers that are commonly cited by evolutionists, so once I read the study, I wrote a summary of it. Well, Dr. Tomkins has done a new study, and it invalidates the one he did two years ago.

The new study was done because last year, a computer programmer of financial trading algorithms (Glenn Williamson) discovered a bug in the BLAST algorithm that Tomkins used. This bug caused the program to ignore certain matches that should have been identified, which led to an artificially low similarity between the two genomes. As any responsible scientist would do, Dr. Tomkins took this issue seriously and did a detailed analysis of several different versions of the BLAST program. His analysis showed that most of the newer versions of the program were bugged, including the one used in his study two years ago.

As a result, Dr. Tomkins redid his study, using the one version of BLAST that did not contain the bug. His results are shown above. As you can see, every chromosome in the chimpanzee genome, with the exception of the Y chromosome, matched a corresponding region of the human genome by somewhere between 85% and 90%. The overall similarity between the human and chimpanzee genomes was 88%. While this is still far lower than the 95%, 98%, or 99% similarity touted by many evolutionists, it is much higher than the 70% found in his previous study.

To make sure that these new results aren’t an artifact of some other unknown issue in the BLAST computer program, Dr. Tomkins also did his analysis with two other programs: nucmer and LASTZ. The nucmer program’s results agreed with the unbugged BLAST results: on average the human and chimpanzee genomes are 88% similar. The LASTZ program produced a lower average similarity (73%), which indicates that perhaps LASTZ has a bug or is not optimized for such comparisons, since its results are very close to the results Dr. Tomkins got with the bugged version of BLAST.

I think this is the most comprehensive comparison of human and chimpanzee DNA that has been done, so I am inclined to take the results (88% similarity between human and chimpanzee DNA) as the best number we have to date. Of course, I said something similar about Dr. Tomkins’s previous study (which turned out to be wrong), so take that statement with a grain of salt! [later addition:It might not be the best number we have to date. See note at the top of the article.]

Homo naledi: Human Relative? Probably Not.

A composite skeleton of Homo naledi, surrounded by other fossils from the same find (click for the full picture and credit)
A composite skeleton of Homo naledi, surrounded by other fossils from the same find
(click for the full picture and for credit)

PLEASE NOTE: Based on subsequent analysis, I have changed my mind on this fossil. Please find my new thoughts here.

Social media has been abuzz with reports of a newly-discovered ancient relative of people. Named Homo naledi, this “new species” is supposed to shed light on the supposed evolution of human beings. One news report said the discovery “…may alter ideas about the human family tree.” Of course, we’ve heard that before. It seems that every major discovery related to the supposed evolution of humans is said to radically change our view of how humans came to be. While this discovery is very, very interesting, I seriously doubt that is has anything to do with people.

One of the things that makes this find so interesting is where the bones were found. They were found in a cave more than 80 meters from its entrance. Even more intriguing, the chamber in which the fossils were found was accessible only through a narrow chute. The chute was so narrow that most paleontologists couldn’t fit through it. Indeed, in order to excavate the fossils, the lead investigator (Lee Berger) had to put out an advertisement on social media. It called for “…tiny and small specialised cavers and spelunkers with excellent archaeological, palaeontological and excavation skills.” There were 57 people who answered the ad, and six women were chosen from that group. They excavated the bones, while the other members of the expedition watched on video.

In the end, the paleontologists think they found fragmentary remains of at least 15 individuals. The picture above shows a partial composite skeleton that was made from these different individuals. In one of the two scientific papers written about the find1, they say that this composite skeleton represents the remains of a new species. Why? Because it contains a lot of traits associated with the genus Australopithecus, which is supposed to be an early ancestor of human beings. However, it also contains traits that are more like those of modern humans. Because of this mix of “primitive” and “modern” traits, it is thought to be a new species in the supposed evolutionary history of people.

While there is certainly a mixture of traits found in these fossils, I seriously doubt that they belong in the genus Homo (the genus that contains human beings), and I seriously doubt they are related to us in any way.

Continue reading “Homo naledi: Human Relative? Probably Not.”

The Dominican Republic Also Shows Bill Nye Was Wrong

Standing room only at one of the Dominican Republic schools.
Standing room only at one of the Dominican Republic schools.

I finished my speaking tour in the Dominican Republic, and it was quite an experience! I gave talks about creation in public schools, private schools, churches, and a university. The people were incredibly warm and inviting, and even though I could not communicate with most of them unless I had an interpreter, our mutual love for the Savior transcended words.

While I still cannot speak or understand Spanish, I did get a bit better at recognizing certain Spanish words. For example, in one church service, I looked up at the screen that contained the words to the next song (in Spanish, of course). The title of the song wasn’t on the screen, and the music had not started playing. Nevertheless, I recognized the song and said, “How Great Thou Art – one of my favorites!” My interpreter turned to me and asked, “How do you know that?” I told him that I recognized enough of the words to realize what the hymn must be. He seemed impressed.

While I was in Santo Domingo, I visited the main campus of Universidad Nacional Evangélica, a Christian university. I met with the president of the university and one of the professors. They indicated that they were committed to making sure their students learned about the scientific evidence for creation and against evolution. They scheduled me to speak to their students the next day, but unfortunately, there was a power outage, so they had to cancel the talk.

I was on a tight schedule, so I had to leave Santo Domingo before they could reschedule my talk. However, the same university has a campus in Santiago, where I was headed. That campus was happy to schedule me to speak, so I ended up getting to speak to students at the Universidad Nacional Evangélica, just not the ones who go to the Santo Domingo campus.

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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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Intact Proteins Found in Fossils That Are Supposedly 8-18 Million Years Old

This is a picture of an Ecphora fossil.  (click for credit)
This is a picture of an Ecphora fossil. (click for credit)

Since 2005, there have been several discoveries of soft tissue in fossils that are supposedly millions of years old (see here, here, here, here, here, and here). From a young-earth perspective, this is interesting, because it is hard to understand how soft tissue could be preserved for millions and millions of years. Dr. Mary Schweitzer has attempted to provide a mechanism for such preservation, but it isn’t applicable in the real world. If nothing else, I can safely say that finding such tissue was surprising to those who believe the fossils are millions of years old, but it wasn’t surprising to those of us who think the fossils are only thousands of years old.

Recently, I ran across a very interesting study that adds to the list of surprises for those who think that some fossils are millions of years old. The authors were analyzing the fossilized shells of an extinct group of marine mollusks from the genus Ecphora. Unlike many mollusk groups, the fossilized shells of the Ecphora are colored reddish-brown. The authors decided to find out what produces this colorization, so they soaked the fossils in weak acid to remove the minerals. What remained were thin sheets of organic residue that had all the characteristics one would expect if they were made of proteins.

When the authors examined the sheets chemically, they found all the hallmarks of proteins. For example, they put the sheets through hydrolysis, a process that living organisms use to break proteins down into their component chemicals, which are amino acids. When the sheets were hydrolyzed, they broke down into amino acids, exactly as you would expect a sheet of proteins to do. They also measured the percent carbon in the sheets as well as the ratio of carbon to nitrogen. In the end, they concluded:1

…the organic matter elemental and isotopic compositions are very similar to those from modern marine invertebrates. We conclude, therefore, that essentially intact shell-binding proteins have been preserved for up to 18 Ma.

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More Examples of Organisms Changing the Products of Their Genes!

This is an example of the squid that was studied in the experiment that is being discussed.  (click for credit)
This is an example of the squid that was studied in the experiment being discussed.
(click for credit)

Almost three years ago, I posted an article about an octopus that actually changes the products of its genes so it is better suited to its environment. I had never heard of such a thing before, and it seemed fantastic to me. After all, when I was at university, I was taught the central dogma of molecular biology:

DNA —-> RNA —–> Protein

In other words, DNA carries a set of “recipes” that tell your cells how to make the proteins they need to make. That recipe is copied by another molecule, RNA, and the copy is transported out of the nucleus of the cell to a ribosome, where the copy is then translated into a protein. At that time in history, biologists thought that there was one gene for every protein.

As scientists learned more about the marvelous design of DNA, they found that the idea of one gene producing one protein was far too simplistic. In plants and animals (and many microscopic organisms as well), the genes are interrupted by stretches of DNA called introns. At first, geneticists lumped introns into the category of junk DNA, an evolution-inspired idea that couldn’t be more incorrect (see here, here, here, and here, for example). However, molecular biologists eventually found out that the introns are an integral part of a multi-layered data storage system that allows a single gene to code for up to tens of thousands of different proteins through a process called alternative splicing.

Essentially, the introns divide a gene into several “modules of information.” The cell can chop up the RNA copy and splice those modules together in different ways. Each different way the modules are spliced produces a different protein. Once alternative splicing was figured out, the idea of one gene producing one protein was discarded. One gene can, in fact, produce lots and lots of different proteins. However, even in alternative splicing, the information contained in the DNA is preserved. Each individual module of information codes for a specific part of a protein, and if you look at that specific part of the protein, it is made exactly the way that module of information says it should be made.

Well, the octopus study I wrote about nearly three years ago shows that’s not always true. Some organisms can edit their RNA to make a final protein that is actually different from what the modules of information in the gene actually specify!

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Dawkins Demonstrated to be Wrong….Again

This is the center panel from a stain-glassed window entitled, 'Education.'  Found in Yale University's Linsly-Chittenden Hall, it shows religion and science working together to educate people.
This is the center panel from a stain-glassed window entitled, ‘Education.’ Found in Yale University’s Linsly-Chittenden Hall, it shows religion and science working together to educate people.
(click for credit)

In 1989, Dr. Richard Dawkins wrote the following in a book review for the New York Times:

It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).

He has since added to that remark, writing:

By far the largest of the four categories is ‘ignorant’

Like much of what Dr. Dawkins writes, however, the actual evidence says something completely different.

Consider, for example, a new study that has been published in the journal American Sociological Review. The authors, Dr. Timothy O’Brien and Dr. Shiri Noy, examined people’s views on religion and science, correlating them with their actual knowledge of science. They found lots of interesting things, but I want to focus on just two of them.

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UndeNYEably Uninformed

This is the cover of Nye's error-filled book.
The cover of Nye’s error-filled book.
Bill Nye calls himself “The Science Guy,” but he sometimes acts in ways that can only be described as anti-science. For example, in a video he stated that creationism shouldn’t be taught to children. This, of course, is blatantly anti-science, because scientific progress is built on the competition of ideas. If you say that an idea shouldn’t be considered because you don’t like it, you are working against science, not for it. In addition, he narrated a video about global warming that contained a faked experiment! Faking experiments is definitely not pro-science! Nevertheless, Nye obviously loves science, which leads me to wonder why he sometimes acts against it.

After reading Nye’s book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, I think I understand. He simply doesn’t inform himself on scientific issues. As a result, he really doesn’t understand science and doesn’t understand why some of his actions are so anti-science. Consider, for example, what he writes about kids who are taught creationism:

Not only that, these kids will never feel the joy of discovery that science brings. (p.10)

This, of course, is demonstrably false. Had Nye bothered to inform himself about kids who are taught creationism, he would find that they often do better in science than their peers who were not taught creationism. In addition, he would have learned that many kids who were taught creationism are now studying science at the university level or are already professional scientists. I have several students, for example, who say that the reason they decided to become scientists was because of my creationist textbooks (see here and here, for example)!

Of course, the fact that Nye is utterly uninformed about creationism leads to all sorts of problems with his book, which I have detailed in the PDF document at the end of this review. What really surprised me, however, is that his book shows that he hasn’t really informed himself about the science related to evolution, either. As a result, much of what he says in the book is utterly false.

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