Articles » Biochemistry
Where Did Purpose and Planning Come From?
While we may be aware of wonderful living creatures, we seldom reflect on the blessings of the material world. But the apostle Paul, way back in New Testament times in Lystra, assured his pagan audience that God provides favourable natural conditions to draw attention to himself. While God uses material blessings to draw attention to himself, some people wonder whether evolution can be included under the umbrella of God’s providential design. Since evolution is by definition a process that involves only matter and energy, then the evolutionary process can never involve foresight or design which are non-material. When we look at life however, we see features which demonstrate intelligent purpose and planning, thereby pointing to the work of God. Read the rest of this entry »
Learning Lots All Year
Do you like to watch your favourite team show off their talents? Are you happy when they win? Sometimes it’s fun to be a spectator. All you have to do is cheer. Let’s be spectators in temperature races featuring that special competitor, the yeast cell.
Yeast is a tiny mold made up of a single cell. Yeast has the remarkable ability to turn sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. If there are more yeast cells, naturally, sugar is turned into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas at a faster rate. The happier the yeast is kept, the faster it grows and the more product it produces. Let’s see if temperature has any effect on how happy the yeast is and thus on how fast it grows and how much product it produces. Read the rest of this entry »
Insect Talents are Special
Biologists tell us that the ability to detect and identify odours is perhaps the most important sense that animals need to survive. By means of odour detection, insects locate food, avoid toxins and predators, and communicate with others of their own species. Their sense of smell is located mainly in their antennae.
One insect that is particularly talented in many respects, is none other than the famous fruit fly. For example, these red-eyed beauties exhibit extremely good abilities to find rotting fruit. Because fruit flies are easy to culture, biologists first studied odour detecting talents in these creatures. The study was expected to be interesting but scarcely earth-shattering. But guess what! Drosophila (fruit fly) was the tip of the iceberg to reveal that insects exhibit odour detecting abilities that are highly unusual and a major problem for evolutionary expectations. Since then similar studies have been conducted on moths, beetles, other flies, cockroaches and social insects. Read the rest of this entry »
Book Review – Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species
Landmark Work: What’s Wrong with ‘Survival of the Fittest’
An exciting new book was published in the fall of 2017. The author, Nathaniel Jeanson, is a specialist in molecular biology and bioinformatics with a Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from Harvard University. With such fancy credentials, one might expect his new book to be very difficult and full of technical mumbo-jumbo! Well, Dr. Jeanson does present some very interesting information, but he does undertake to make the discussion accessible to interested readers. Excellent illustrations (some in colour) really help. Nevertheless for reading this book a good background in high school biology at least would be a big help. Read the rest of this entry »Order Online
The 2017 award of the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine to three Americans, Michael Rosbash, Jeffrey Hall and Michael Young, has served to stimulate our interest in a phenomenon that is actually well-known. We all know why people get hungry about the same time of day, or wake up about the same time, or suffer from jet-lag. It is because of biological clocks. So what was so special about the work of these three scientists? The story actually goes back to 1729! Read the rest of this entry »
Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley’s Faith Journey
A recent list of the 100 most important “scientific discoveries that changed the world” lists Rick Smalley’s discovery of Buckyballs (English, 2014, p. 13). But who was this man? Richard (Rick) Smalley (June 6, 1943-October 28, 2005) was Professor of Chemistry, Physics, and Astronomy at Rice University. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 (along with Sir Harry Kroto and Robert Curl) for the discovery and research on a new allotrope (form) of carbon. He called this unique soccerball-shaped molecule buckminsterfullerene, nicknamed buckyballs. Soon a more comprehensive category called fullerenes was proposed to include nanotubes. Read the rest of this entry »
The Living Cell: Frankly Created
We hear all the time about how complicated living cells are. It makes us think that such entities were designed to work as they do. People who support the idea that all things came about by natural processes, however, do not want to think that there is a mind behind what we see in all living creatures from microbes up to the largest, most complicated organisms. These latter people want to show how the living cell developed spontaneously, without any direction. So they want to demonstrate that there were early cells which were much much simpler than what we see today, cells that could have appeared through natural processes. These scientists want to demonstrate that the barriers to spontaneous development are not too high. Read the rest of this entry »
Eye-Deal Example of Design
The ability of fireflies to glow in the dark, delights those who have seen these insects in action. It really seems like a special talent. However a recent issue of National Geographic (March 2015) declared about bioluminescence: “Evolving to make light seems to be relatively easy — it has happened independently in at least 40 different lineages.” (p. 84) Just because we find a special talent in a number of very different creatures, does not mean that the talent was easily developed by chance. National Geographic is not aware that this unusual ability is much more reasonably explained as the choice of God, the creator. There are many examples where we can see the problem for evolution of special talents in very different creatures. And the camera eye is an ideal example. Read the rest of this entry »
Quality Programs for Free
There are some useful and visually attractive programs available on YouTube. For example, Privileged Species (previously reviewed in Dialogue) at 32 minutes, has already recorded 33,300 views. However for better quality display, a DVD is required which CSAA sells for $15.00 each.
Several years ago CSAA distributed free copies of the DVD Programming of Life which runs 44 minutes and is produced by LaBarge Media (with Don Johnson). We distributed this to high school and university students, teachers, and pastors. This program examines mathematical issues concerning the living cell. In this context, information is a critical feature of living cells. The kind of information required (proscriptive) involves instructions. From that discussion we proceed to protein manufacturing which is illustrated with beautiful graphics. We then learn the essential features of a computer and how the cell demonstrates these capacities. Read the rest of this entry »
Upside Down Source of Fancy Photosynthesis
During the 1960s and 1970s, improved strains of wheat and rice resulted in a doubling of crop yields. Despite predictions of disaster from some environmentalists, the world continued to feed quickly growing human populations. This green revolution, kick-started by the research of American plant scientist Norman Borlaug and Indian rice geneticist M. S. Swaminathan, provided much higher yielding crops. However for optimum growth, these crops require the widespread application of nitrogen fertilizers and other chemicals. As a byproduct of this practice, a significant amount of fertilizer ends up in natural waterways. As a result, scientists now consider the application of such chemicals as “so last century!” (Nature October 30, 2014 p. S52). The hunt is now on for crops that do not require chemical inputs and yet produce high yields. Read the rest of this entry »
Dr. Paul Nelson Opened Our Minds
Dr. Paul Nelson is a prominent spokesperson for the creation and intelligent design communities. It was in that capacity that he introduced enthusiastic participants at the 2013 Creation Weekend in Edmonton, to new arguments and exciting information. Read the rest of this entry »
One More Use for DNA
Over the last decade, everything has become digital. We don’t capture images on film anymore, but in digital files. We don’t send letters, we send email messages. We don’t buy books, we download documents to an e-reader. Every organization has a website. Information is at our fingertips, but the whole system is extremely fragile.
The problems with our digital storage technologies are twofold. The data don’t last once they have been laid down and must be transferred to keep them fresh, while the technology for storage and reading keeps changing. An amusing example of this is NASA, which in the early 2000s, found that it was unable to access data from the space program of the 1960s and 1970s. So there they were, scouring internet auction sites to find second hand eight-inch floppy drives which could read their priceless data. Similar events of loss or near loss happen all the time. In 2009 when Yahoo! closed their GeoCities server, a huge amount of data was lost, perhaps “the most amount of history in the shortest amount of time, certainly on purpose, in living memory.” Nobody seemed to notice, but if these had been paper documents which were lost from a library, the outcry would have been anguished indeed. The take home lesson is that as a digital society, we need better systems to store and read data. In view of this, some scientists have turned their attention not to a new system, but to a tried and true system, much better than modern devices. Enter DNA to the discussion. Read the rest of this entry »
ENCODE Project – Discarding ‘Junk DNA’ for Good!
You have to wonder how a big science project in biology, which involved 32 laboratories from 10 countries and 440 scientists, and which cost $130 million, could be controversial with many other mainstream biologists. The lead articles were published in the journal Nature on September 6, 2012. What could be controversial about that? Well it transpires that many scientists, who were not involved, did not like the initial thinking on which the project was based, how the research was carried out, and how the conclusions were drawn. What certain mainstream scientists particularly did not like was that so many intelligent design and creation scientists were so pleased. Read the rest of this entry »
Totally Unexpected Dinosaur Discoveries
It is interesting how dinosaur artifacts continue to amaze us. For example, in 1961, petroleum geologist R. L. Liscomb discovered a large bone bed on the banks of the Colville River in Alaska, not far from the Arctic Ocean. Since the bones were not perminieralized (fossilized), he assumed they were recent bison bones. He deposited some in a museum and for twenty years nobody gave the bones another thought. Then somebody noticed that these were Edmontosaurus bones (duckbill dinosaur). In 1985 palaeontologist William A. Clemens reported abundant dinosaur bones at the Liscomb site and in 1987 associate Kyle L. Davies described the condition of the dinosaur bones: “The quality of preservation is remarkable. The bones are stained a dark red brown but otherwise display little permineralization, crushing or distortion.” (J. Paleontology 61 #1 p. 198). Could such bones really be millions of years old as many scientists now supposed?
Why Ugly Bats are Beautiful!
If bats were prettier to look at, we might appreciate their amazing talents more. The fact is that bats exhibit some astonishing design features which our engineers and technologists really envy. Traditionally scientists have grouped bats according to their food preferences. There are the fruit bats with good eyesight, the insect consuming, echolocating bats and the vampire or blood consuming bats. Further research has revealed how amazingly these animals are designed for their life styles. Such studies have also revealed that the old fashioned ways of categorizing the creatures according to lifestyle and physical appearance do not really work. This has had some serious implications for ideas concerning whether Darwinian evolution could ever work or not. Read the rest of this entry »