Evillution, Intelligent Design, The Science of it All

Faith or Science and-or BOTH

Faith or Science and-or BOTH

Like the monolith in the 1968 movie ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’, many people today regard science as a shining, monolithic spire of truth rising above the landscape of human ignorance and superstition. Because of that, I often talk with people who fully apply all their critical thinking skills, and their full Internet-searching abilities, to see if they can discover a weak link in evidence for the truth of Christian beliefs. However, they have a complete, unquestioning faith in science. That makes for one of the great scientific mysteries of the ages. Moreover, they come to this ‘faith’ by reading and repeating what the establishment says they should believe and this is done typically by publishing a series of narrowly focused technical papers based on their own experimental research which generally does little to advance the subject matter. And what is worse, they are not explaining the preexisting evidence in a new or more coherent way.

As a software developer who has spent the last 20 years of my career working within the medical, physical therapy, insurance and oil and gas industries, I consider myself knowledgeable in various aspects of science and the deductive scientific method. I have become increasingly appalled and even shocked at what passes for science in a wide variety of disciplines. It has become a mix of good science, bad science, creative story-telling, science fiction (the multiverse), scientism (atheism dressed up as science), citation-bias, huge media announcements followed by quiet retractions, massaging the data, exaggeration for funding purposes, and outright fraud all rolled up together. In some disciplines, the problem has become so rampant that the “good science” part is drowning in a mess of everything else. I will cover each of the above problems in another article.

One must first understand what constitutes good science if you are going to criticize it. Good science, requires very little faith and should be trusted as far as we can trust anything that human beings try to do well.

The heart of good science is the scientific method. I have criticized Wikipedia on my blogs many times (it is very liberal and left-leaning). On this subject, though it has a good description of the scientific method. First, on the basis of a question, observation, or known laws of physics, draft a possible answer, explanation or “hypothesis.” Next, advance a falsifiable prediction on the basis of the hypothesis. Then, experimentally test the prediction. If the prediction is falsified, modify or abandon the hypothesis. If it is verified, the hypothesis is strengthened and lives to see another day.

Modify or abandon the hypothesis seems to be a major problem in academia today. It is part of the ‘political correctness’ running rampant today in society and in ‘higher education’. Nobody is wrong anymore, and certainly do not wish to admit that they were wrong, or had a wrong idea, or spent time researching something that was not productive and goodness gracious wasted money from a governmental grant.

Avoid a double standard in how you apply your critical thinking skills; scientific claims are not above question. When you see a scientific claim, see if there is actually experimental verification of a falsifiable prediction. You might be surprised at how often a falsifiable prediction is not tested or even mentioned. Look for the use of creative stories, or words like “suggests” or “may have” to make up for a lack of substance. Investigate whether evidence that does not support the hypothesis or prediction is being ignored.

Above all, have a clear understanding of the scientific method and consider how well each claim adhered to that method. Coming up, I will look at the specific types of problems listed in the second paragraph, with examples, of corruption in 21st-century science that are in contrast to good science and the scientific method.

Why am I doing this? I will be showing, eventually, that we can come to conclusions about our past and our future using a variety of scientific methods using both inductive and abductive (a form of logical inference which goes from an observation to a theory which accounts for the observation, ideally seeking to find the simplest and most likely explanation) reasoning.

Intelligent Design, The Science of it All

Cactus spines to solve next underwater oil spill

Biomimetics, the abstraction of good design from nature[i], is again providing a useful solution, one of hundreds that have been developed as the result of a need and the insight of a variety of interdisciplinary scientists to solve those needs. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 created massively damaging ecological events, with oil spreading for many thousands of miles. The majority of the clean-up operation typically focused on collecting the oil near the surface of the water, and very little could be done at the time to find an effective way of capturing submerged oil droplets, which are normally missed in the cleanup operations.

The cactus species, Opuntia microdasys is one of several hundred varieties of “prickly pear” cacti.

cactuspricklypearpad

The type we have has a longer thorn and just a few of the white hairs. We let the little pads grow and cut them when about 6 inches long scrape off the thorns and make “nopales” which are good at breakfast with huevos. The small pads are great roasted over a mesquite fire also.

Then we let them bud out into the “pears and when they turn red pick them to make jelly.

pirckly_20pear_20cactus_1_

However, this is not what we are discussing here. The Opuntia microdasys has a very unique property, which we will discuss so that you may understand how scientists are using its natural protection from the harsh arid surroundings. It was discovered that the cactus efficiently collects water droplets from fog using a “unique system composed of well-distributed clusters of conical spines and trichomes on the cactus stem”.[ii]

This occurs because the cactus spines have an interesting effect on the water droplets. When micron-sized spherically shaped water droplets in the air land on them, the spine’s conical shape distorts them, forcing them into a clam-like shape instead. However, water droplets are inclined to be spherical, and exert a strong inward pressure to try to remain so.[iii] (Be sure to read the footnote so you will understand what follows). The battle between these two forces pushes the droplets from the tip of the spine[iv] toward the cactus plant at the base of the spine, where the spine’s surface is less curved and the radius is larger.[v] The cactus’s trichomes[vi] at the base of the spine then immediately absorb the droplets of water.

cactus69

Cactus spines have many different functions, such as offering protection, shade, and slowing down air currents around the epidermis to lessen water loss. The discovery of this new function, added to the CAM physiology, waxy skin, succulent tissue, and specialized root system, are a wonderful example of design that had to be present and functional to allow the cactus to live in such harsh ecosystems as the Chihuahua Desert. Some people will claim that it took billions and billions and billions of years to have slowly changed and morphed and “evolved.” And during this time, the ecosystem wasn’t as harsh as it is now so that these things could develop- but why would they need to develop if it wasn’t so harsh?

Inspired by the research on the newly discovered function of the cactus spines, the design was mimicked and applied to collecting oil droplets in water. While oil normally floats on water, oil spills also produce some denser micron-sized droplets as the oil breaks down, which do not float on the surface. The current range of cleanup technologies used on oil spills such as mechanical skimmers or membrane filters mainly remove oil from the surface but miss those denser droplets that have sunken further down.

To tackle the problem, a team of scientists in Beijing (it figures, does not it not an American scientist but a foreign one) identified that “micron-sized oil droplets in water and micron-sized water droplets in air are similar, so we can move the cactus-inspired system underwater”.[vii] This was done by creating arrays of conical copper and silicone polymer-based[viii] needles to replicate the cactus spines. “The ability to deposit oil is based on the intrinsic oleophilicity (meaning that the materials have a strong affinity for oils rather than water) of these materials under water, and the canonical structure induces the directional motion of the collected oil droplets.”[ix]

The arrays were then submerged into a mixture of silicone oil and water that was blasted with ultrasonic sound waves to generate the micron-sized oil droplets. The team then observed that underwater oil droplets collect on and flow along the needles in a similar way that the water collects on and moves along the cactus spines. Testing different array set-ups, the team found that an array with hexagonal grids of the silicone polymer needles proved to be the most effective, due to a higher density of needles, separating up to 99% of the oil from the water.

Very few cactus fossil specimens have ever been found.[x] After billions and billions and billions of years of development, there is not hardly any fossilized cactus, not spiny pads, no backbones or skeletons, no nothing to suggest that they have been around. You would think that some would have been dislodged during a flash flood and that they would have been stuck in the sand and found later by archeologists. For the evolutionist, “the timing of cactus origins and diversification has remained enigmatic”.[xi] From a biblical perspective we know both the origin of the cactus spine and that of the fossils. Cactus spines are a reminder of the entrance of sin into the perfect world that God had created for man, and the subsequent Curse on creation detailed in Genesis 3. “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it’, cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:17–19).

[i] Biomimetics or biomimicry is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. Living organisms have well-adapted structures and materials. Biomimetics has given rise to new technologies inspired by biological solutions at macro and nanoscales. Humans have looked at nature for answers to problems throughout our existence.

[ii] Ju, J. et al., A multi-structural and multi-functional integrated fog collection system in cactus, Nat. Commun. 3:1247, 2012 | doi: 10.1038/ncomms2253.

[iii] The cohesive forces among liquid molecules are responsible for the phenomenon of surface tension. In the bulk of the liquid, each molecule is pulled equally in every direction by neighboring liquid molecules, resulting in a net force of zero. The molecules at the surface do not have the same molecules on all sides of them and therefore are pulled inwards. This creates some internal pressure and forces liquid surfaces to contract to the minimal area. Surface tension is responsible for the shape of liquid droplets. Although easily deformed, droplets of water tend to be pulled into a spherical shape by the imbalance in cohesive forces of the surface layer. In the absence of other forces, including gravity, drops of virtually all liquids would be approximately spherical.

[iv] Or the barb that it lands on

[v] The gradient of surface-free energy and gradient of Laplace pressure are believed to be the primary driving forces behind these phenomena. The water droplet always moves towards the base of the spine regardless of the angle of the spine.

[vi] Trichomes are fine outgrowths or appendages on plants, algae, lichens, and certain protists. They are of diverse structure and function. Examples are hairs, glandular hairs, scales, and papillae. A covering of any kind of hair on a plant is an indumentum, and the surface bearing them is said to be pubescent

[vii] Li, K. et al., Structured cone arrays for continuous and effective collection of micron-sized oil droplets from water, Nat. Commun. 4:2276, 2013 | doi: 10.1038/ncomms3276

[viii] The silicon-based organic polymer was Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)

[ix] Li, et al. ref. vii, p. 5.

[x] Chaney, R., A fossil cactus from the Eocene of Utah, American J. Botany 31(8):507–528, 1944.

[xi] Arakaki, M. et al., Contemporaneous and recent radiations of the world’s major succulent plant lineages, PNAS 108(20):8379–8384, 2011.

Intelligent Design

Omne vivum ex vivo

(All life comes from life).

Being an analog human in a digital world

When Watson and Crick discovered the structure and information-bearing properties of DNA, they solved one mystery, the secret of how the cell stores and transmits hereditary information. However, they uncovered another mystery that remains with us to this day. This is the DNA enigma— the mystery of the origin of the information needed to build the first living organism. The growing awareness of the reality of information within living things seems to make the comprehension of life easier.

We live in a technological culture, we buy information; we sell it; and we send across the world through wires. We devise machines to store and retrieve it. We pay programmers and writers to create it, and enact laws to protect the “intellectual property” of those who do. We not only value information, but we regard it as a real entity, on par with matter and energy.

Living systems also contain information and depend on it for their existence, which makes it possible for us to understand the function of biological organisms by reference to our own familiar technology. Biologists have also come to understand the usefulness of information for the operation of living systems. After the early 1960s, advances in the field of molecular biology made clear that the digital information in DNA was only part of a complex information-processing system, an advanced form of nanotechnology that mirrors and exceeds our own in its complexity, storage density, and logic of design.

Over the last fifty years, biology has advanced as scientists have come to understand more about how information in the cell is stored, transferred, edited, and used to construct sophisticated machines and circuits made of proteins. The importance of information to the study of life is perhaps nowhere more obvious than in the emerging fields of genomics and bioinformatics. Over the last decade, scientists involved in these disciplines have begun to map— character by character— the complete sequence of the genetic instructions stored on the human genome and those of many other species.

With the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2000, the emerging field of bioinformatics entered a new era. Francis Collins, scientific director of the project, described the genome as a “book,” a repository of “instructions,” and the “book of life.”[i] The Human Genome Project, perhaps more than any discovery since the elucidation of the structure of DNA in 1953, has heightened public awareness of the importance of information to living things. If Watson and Crick’s discovery showed that DNA stores a genetic text, Francis Collins and his team took a huge step toward deciphering its message. Biology has irrevocably entered an information age.

DNA

The reality of information within living things makes life seem more mysterious. For one thing, it is difficult to understand exactly what information is. The elusive character of information— whether biological or otherwise— has made it difficult to define by reference to standard scientific categories. As evolutionary biologist George Williams notes, “You can speak of galaxies and particles of dust in the same terms because they both have mass and charge and length and width. [But] you can’t do that with information and matter.”[ii] A blank magnetic tape, for example, weighs just as much as one “loaded” with new software— or with the entire sequence of the human genome. Though these tapes differ in information content (and value), they do not do so because of differences in their material composition or mass. As Williams concludes, “Information doesn’t have mass or charge or length in millimeters. Likewise matter doesn’t have bytes…. This dearth of shared descriptors makes matter and information two separate domains.” [iii]

Whatever information is— a single thought or the arrangement of matter that brings about that thought— one thing is clear. Humans recognize as information something (ideas or data) that originates from thought— from conscious or intelligent verifiable activity. A message received by one as an email from another person first arose as an idea in the mind of the other. The software stored and sold on a compact disc or downloaded from the Internet resulted from the specific design of a software engineer. The great works of literature began first as ideas in the minds of writers— Tolstoy, Shakespeare, James Joyce, Homer or Mark Twain. What we understand as information reflects the prior activity of conscious and intelligent persons. What should we make of the presence of information in living organisms?

The Human Genome Project, among many other developments in modern biology, has pressed this question to the forefront of public awareness. We now know that we do not just create information in our own technology; we also find it in our biology— and, indeed, in the cells of every living organism on earth. How did this information arise? In addition, what does the presence of information in even the simplest living cell imply about life and its origin? Who or what “wrote” the book of life.[iv]

The information age in biology officially began in the mid-1950s with the elucidation of the chemical structure and information-bearing properties of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)— the molecule of heredity. Beginning in 1953 with their now famous communication to the British scientific journal Nature, James Watson and Francis Crick identified DNA as the molecular repository of genetic information.[v] Further developments in the field of molecular biology confirmed this idea and showed that the precisely sequenced bases attached to the helical backbone of DNA store the information for building proteins— the sophisticated enzymes and processes that provide the energy, the waste disposal, basically the “life” of the cells in all living things.

Though the discovery of the information-bearing properties of DNA dates back over a half century, the recognition of the full significance of this discovery has been slow in coming. Many scientists have found it difficult to relinquish an exclusive reliance upon the more traditional scientific categories of matter and energy. As George Williams (himself an evolutionary biologist) notes, “Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains: that of information and that of matter…. The gene is a package of information, not an object. The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene. But the DNA molecule is the medium, it’s not the message.”[vi] Yet this recognition begs deeper questions. What does it mean when we find information in natural objects— living cells— that we did not ourselves design or create? As the information theorist, Hubert Yockey observes, the “genetic code is constructed to confront and solve the problems of communication and recording by the same principles found… in modern communication and computer codes.” Yockey notes that “the technology of information theory and coding theory has been in place in biology” from the time that life first originated on earth.[vii] What should we make of this fact? How did the information in life first arise?

Our commonsense reasoning might lead us to conclude that the information necessary to the first life, like the information in human technology or literature, arose from a designing intelligence. However, modern evolutionary biology rejects this idea. Many evolutionary biologists admit, of course, that living organisms “appear to have been carefully and artfully designed,” as Richard Lewontin puts it.[viii] As Richard Dawkins states, “Biology is the study of complex things that appear to have been designed for a purpose.”[ix] Nevertheless, Lewontin and Dawkins, like evolutionary biologists generally, insist that the appearance of design in life is illusory. Life, they say, looks designed, but was not designed by an actual intelligent or purposive agent. Thereby denying the old adage, “If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it ain’t no chicken[x].”

Evolutionary biologists have a theory that can apparently explain, or explain away, the appearance of design without invoking an actual designer. According to classical Darwinism, and now modern neo-Darwinism, the mechanism of natural selection acting on random variations (or mutations) can mimic the effects of intelligence, even though the mechanism is, of course, entirely blind, impersonal, and undirected.[xi]  “Reason,” wrote Darwin “ought to conquer…conquer… imagination”[xii]— namely, our incredulity about the possibility of such happenings and our impression that living things appear to have been designed. According to Darwin, if given enough time, nature’s selective power might act on any variation perfecting any structure or function far beyond what any human could accomplish. Thus, the complex systems in life that we reflexively attribute to intelligence have wholly natural causes.

Darwinian biologists not only affirm that natural selection can produce “design without a designer,” they also assert that it is “creative without being conscious.”[xiii]

As humans, we build houses, high-rise buildings and the roadways to travel between them. We create means to defy gravity and circle the globe on regular flights. Bees make complex hives and communicate to each other the whereabouts of pollen. Ants dig multi-chambered, multistoried nests and build trails from the nest to sustainable food sources. Even orthodox evolutionary biologists admit the overwhelming impression of design in modern organisms. To quote Francis Crick again, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”[xiv]

Perhaps more curiously, modern biologists can scarcely describe living organisms without resorting to language that seems to imply the very thing they explicitly deny: intentional and purposive design. As philosopher of science Michael Ruse notes, biologists ask about the “purpose of this” or “the function of that” and discuss whether “this did or did not exist in order to.” He concludes, “The world of the evolutionist is drenched in the anthropomorphism of intention.” And yet “paradoxically, even the severest critics” of such intentional language slip into it “for the sake of convenience.”[xv] Metaphors reign where mystery resides.

The vocabulary of modern molecular and cell biology includes apparently accurate descriptive terms that nevertheless seem laden with a “meta-physics of intention”: “genetic code,” “genetic information,” “transcription,” “translation,” “editing enzymes,” “signal-transduction circuitry,” “feedback loop,” and “information-processing system.” As Richard Dawkins notes, “Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular-biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer-engineering journal.”[xvi]

EncodingInformationAsDNA

Most of us know roughly what DNA is and what it does. However, could it be that we do not know anything about where it came from or how it was first formed? In our every expanding knowledge and experience, information arises from an intelligent source, and since the information in DNA is “mathematically identical” to the information in a written language or computer code, the suggestion is that the presence of information in DNA pointed to an intelligent cause. if it was the case that evolutionary theory could not explain the origin of the first life because it could not explain the origin of the genetic information in DNA, then something that we take for granted was quite possibly a serious conundrum for evolutionary biologists.

 

We will continue with the differentiation of “origins science” and “operational science.”

 

[i] Elizabeth Pennisi, “Finally, the Book of Life.”

[ii] Interview with Williams, in Brockman, ed., The Third Culture, 42– 43.

[iii] Interview with Williams, in Brockman, ed., The Third Culture, 42– 43.

[iv] Dolly Parton Letter 2010 Album ‘To Heaven: Songs Of Faith & Inspiration’ “Book of Life”

[v] Watson and Crick, “A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid.”

[vi] Williams, Natural Selection, 11.

[vii] Yockey, “Origin of Life on Earth,” 105.

[viii] Lewontin, “Adaptation.”

[ix] Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 1.

[x] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_test

[xi] Mayr, “Darwin: Intellectual Revolutionary.” The effort to explain biological organisms naturalistically was reinforced by a trend in science to provide fully naturalistic accounts for other phenomena such as the precise configuration of the planets in the solar system (Pierre Laplace) and the origin of geological features (Charles Lyell and James Hutton). It was also reinforced (and in large part made possible) by an emerging positivistic tradition in science that increasingly sought to exclude appeals to supernatural or intelligent causes from science by definition (see Gillespie, “Natural History, Natural Theology, and Social Order”). See also Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 481– 82.

[xii] Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 188.

[xiii] Ayala, “Darwin’s Greatest Discovery,” in Ruse and Dembski, eds., Debating Design, 58. As the late Harvard evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr explained, “The real core of Darwinism… is the theory of natural selection. This theory is so important for the Darwinian because it permits the explanation of adaptation, the ‘design’ of the natural theologian, by natural means, instead of by divine intervention” (Foreword, in Ruse, ed., Darwinism Defended).

[xiv] Crick, What Mad Pursuit, 138.

[xv] Ruse, “Teleology in Biology.”

[xvi] Dawkins, River Out of Eden, 17.

The Science of it All

Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy

Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica

Many atheists and non-believers think that we are smarter today than humans were thousands of years ago. They insist that the human brain is also evolving as the world turns. I have engaged in many discussions where I insist that it is our knowledge that has expanded not our faculties for discerning that knowledge. From a biblical perspective, Adam was as intelligent after Creation and the Fall as we are today. He just did not have as much knowledge to absorb as we do today.

Non-believers have tried various ‘truths’ to try to prove their belief. They have argued that the size of the brain of ‘early man’ was barely bigger than some of the so-called ‘ape-like ancestors’ of man. However, we have several homunculi, midgets and dwarfs whose brains are half the size of a baboon, but are doctors and various scientists researching the genetic defects they suffer from.   Then they tried to insist it was the percentage of the folding of the various lobes of the brain that indicated relative intelligence. However, subsequent brain dissections of famously intelligent individuals versus the ‘average Joe’ has shown that to be a none productive clue.

It was in 1687 that Sir Isaac Newton, English mathematician, physicist and astronomer, published his monumental work Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. In this work, Newton presented his famous three laws of motion: force-free motion is uniform; accelerated motion is proportional to the impressed force; and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. From these, together with the law of universal gravitation, the whole science of matter in motion is derived.

newton_laws

Sir Isaac Newton is regarded by many scholars and historians as the greatest scientist who ever lived. Yet he also firmly believed that the Bible was God’s Word. He wrote much on biblical subjects, and even wrote a book defending Archbishop Ussher’s chronology of the world (Ussher set the date of Creation as 4004 BC). Newton believed in a literal six-day creation, and that the worldwide flood of Noah’s time accounted for most geological phenomena. He also firmly believed in Christ as his Savior.

In thinking on the publication of Newton’s Principia, it would be well to reflect on this great scientist’s view of Scripture:

“I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever.”

At that time the ideas of the ancient Greek scholars still dominated what was taught in science, and recent scientific discoveries were largely ignored. This greatly annoyed Isaac Newton who firmly believed that ideas in science should be tested and only accepted if their usefulness could be demonstrated. He was committed to the experimental method of science.

Isaac graduated in 1665, shortly before an outbreak of Black Death swept through London. All universities were closed while the plague raged. During this time, Isaac returned to his family’s farm, now run by his young half-brother. He continued his study and research, working on the binomial theorem, light, telescopes, calculus and theology. After supposedly seeing an apple fall in the garden, he investigated gravity, but was unable to solve the puzzle until some years later[1].

Newton applied his binomial theorem to infinite series and from there developed calculus, a revolutionary new form of mathematics. For the first time it was possible to accurately calculate the area inside a shape with curved sides, and to calculate the rate of change of one physical quantity with respect to another.

When Cambridge University reopened in 1667, Isaac Newton returned to do a Masters Degree, while teaching and doing research.

Newton used prisms to show that sunlight was made up of all the colors of the rainbow. This proved that the ancient Greeks’ ideas about light were wrong. In Newton’s time, astronomy was severely hampered because lenses in telescopes broke some of the light into unwanted colors, causing a somewhat unclear view. Although not the first to consider using a curved mirror instead of a lens, Newton was the first to successfully construct a telescope using this principle—a principle still used today in many telescopes.

newton_optiks

In 1672, Newton became a member of the Royal Society—a group of scientists committed to the experimental method. He presented one of his new telescopes to the Royal Society along with his findings on light. The Royal Society set up a committee led by physicist Robert Hooke to evaluate Newton’s findings. Hooke was a scientist employed by the Royal Society to evaluate new inventions. However, Hooke had his own ideas on light and was slow to accept the truth of Newton’s findings. While it was sometimes said that Newton was too sensitive to critical evaluation of his work, he was merely concerned that the time spent justifying past findings was preventing him from making new discoveries.

Newton lived at a time when politics, religion and education were not separated. King Charles II commanded that everyone who taught at places such as Trinity College, must themselves be ordained as Church of England ministers. This included people such as Newton who taught only mathematics and science, not theology.

Although a devout Christian, Newton was not in full agreement with all the doctrines of the Church of England. Thus, his conscience would not allow him to accept ordination.[2] He was also strongly opposed to political involvement in both religious matters and education. The only way for Newton to keep his job was for the king to make an exception in his case. Others who had previously asked for this had been refused. He was granted an exception.

Newton reasoned that since the same God created the heavens as well as the earth, the same laws should apply throughout. In 1684, Newton again began to consider gravity. He developed his theory of universal gravitation, which used what is known as the inverse square law. He developed his three laws of motion (movement) and proved mathematically that the same laws did, in fact, apply both to the heavens and the earth. His faith had focused his thoughts in the right direction.

When Newton was investigating the movement of the planets, he quite clearly saw the hand of God at work. He wrote: ‘This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. … This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called “Lord God” Παντοκράτωρ [Pantokratōr cf. 2 Corinthians 6:18], or “Universal Ruler”. … The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.’[3]

‘Opposition to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors.’[4]

For the next few years, Newton pursued his other great love—studying the Bible. The books he wrote included Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms and Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel.

In 1696, the government appointed Newton to the post of Warden of the Mint. He supervised the replacement of England’s old and damaged coins with those which were new and more durable, and even helped break up a counterfeiting ring.

In 1701, Newton began another short term as parliamentarian. Two years later he was elected president of the Royal Society. His re-election to that position every year for the rest of his life showed the high esteem in which he was held by fellow scientists. Now that he had returned to science, Newton published his earlier work on light. His book, Optiks, contained both his own findings and suggestions for further research. His country officially recognized his work in 1705 when he became the first person to receive a knighthood for scientific achievement.

Newton died in 1727, at the age of 84. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.


 

[1] he well-known story that Newton hit upon the idea of universal gravitation after observing an apple fall to the ground in his garden is not known for certain to be true. The anti-religious French philosopher and skeptic Voltaire first circulated the story after reputedly hearing it from Newton’s grandniece.

[2] Some have accused him of Arianism, but this is rejected by Pfizenmaier, T.C., Was Isaac Newton an Arian? Journal of the History of Ideas 68(1):57–80, 1997. A very detailed defense of Newton’s Trinitarianism is Van Alan Herd, The theology of Sir Isaac Newton, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Oklahoma, 2008. This documents much evidence, including Newton’s words refuting tritheism and affirming Triniarian monotheism: “That to say there is but one God, ye father of all things, excludes not the son & Holy ghost from the Godhead becaus they are virtually conteined & implied in the father. … To apply ye name of God to ye Son or holy ghost as distinct persons from the father makes them not divers Gods from ye Father. … Soe there is divinity in ye father, divinity in ye Son, & divinity in ye holy ghost, & yet they are not thre forces but one force.”

[3] Principia, Book III; cited in; Newton’s Philosophy of Nature: Selections from his writings, p. 42, ed. H.S. Thayer, Hafner Library of Classics, NY, 1953

[4] A Short Scheme of the True Religion, manuscript quoted in Memoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, p. 347, by Sir David Brewster, Edinburgh, 1855

Glossary

A valuable lesson in life from a heavy set Afro-American or when a weekend isn’t a weekend.

Of course back in 1972, Afro-American wasn’t a common word. Her name was Ruby and she hated to be called black or a Negro. She wanted us to know she was a ‘Negress.’ She weighed at least 350 lbs an she was always going to go on a diet after the next holiday- whatever it was. She was the lady in charge of J-10 at the Arizona State Hospital. The Juniper building had 5 wings on both the east and west side with the cafeteria in the middle. The west side was for the geriatric patients and the east wing – the farthest to the edge of the hospital grounds was for the “mentally retarded.” J-10 was for the worst of the worst patients (and staff) who did not quite fit in with everyone else on the grounds. I had not had a shave or a haircut since June of 1968 and was assigned to J-10 where Ruby was my shift supervisor. Nine years later I was promoted to being in charge of the entire unit and fired her fat b***k arse.

That is not what we are here to talk about. A different way of thinking about the calendar is what we need to discuss. I had worked there for about three years and had gotten married and my wife and I wanted to go to California for a pop festival so I wanted a weekend off and applied for it. At that time, I asked Ruby when I would be eligible to have weekends off on a regular basis since all I had known since I started working there was Wednesday and Thursday as days off.   She got very snide with me and told me I was “damn lucky” (I wasn’t her favorite staff member) to have my days off together. Somewhat confused I asked her what she meant. She waddled over to the calendar on the wall and pointed out and said “See, Wednesday and Thursday are your days off- together.” I protested and said, but you have the weekends off and she again gesticulated at the calendar and said, “Ain’t so bright for a white boy are you. Lookie here, I have Sunday – the first day of the week off and Saturday the last day of the week off. Now get your ass out of the office and go take care of your patients.”

 

And that was when I realized, that most things in life are a function of how you decide to look at it and I became a contrarian determined from then on to question everything.

So back to our point, what is the basis for the calendar that we have. Is it Biblical and are there other calendars that more accurately reflect the time that we pass on this earth? The Chinese calendar and the Islamic calendar seem strange to those of us who have been brought up in the West. To most of us, there is something strange with New Year coming at the end of January (or a few days before, or a couple of weeks after); or the month of Ramadan falling earlier and earlier each year.

The moon proceeds through its phases in a cycle of about 29.5 days (called the ‘synodic’ month), so having months alternating between 29 and 30 days keeps closely in step with the moon. A new moon signals a new month and a full moon the middle of the month. This idea is not foreign to our western culture. The Shorter Oxford dictionary notes that the word ‘month’ is derived from the word ‘moon’. The primary definition of month is “a measure of time corresponding to the period of revolution of the moon”. Therefore, the idea of a lunar month is logical. On the Islamic calendar a sequence of 12 of these lunar months, make up a year.

The Chinese calendar is more complicated. It is often referred to as a lunar calendar, but is actually a luni-solar calendar. It has months which are tied in with the phases of the moon as does the Islamic calendar, but additionally it keeps the year in step with the seasons in the long term by having some years with 13 months. That seems strange to us because we have grown up with 12 months in a year?

Is there no certain rule by which calendars ought to be formulated? Some absolute standard that will enable us to say that some calendar features are unacceptable? In fact, we do. The Bible sets out God’s provisions:

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. (Genesis 1:14-19).

So God’s word tells us that He provided the astronomical cycles for us to determine time periods (seasons). The day-night cycle, caused by the earth’s rotation defines the day for us; the phases of the moon give us the month; and the motion of the stars, moving full circle over about 365 days sets the year for us. There is no requirement here for there to be 12 months in a year.

That calendar we are all familiar with was adopted by the early church and has become the standard world-wide buy it is deficient. In fact, just as the Islamic calendar is defective because it has a year arbitrarily made up of 12 lunar months, so the Roman calendar is defective because it has a month, which is just an arbitrary division of the year into 12 segments.

The Hebrew calendar used by the Jewish people for many centuries is still in use today. Like the Chinese calendar, it has months generally alternating between 29 and 30 days, to keep in step with the lunar month, and also keeps in step with the solar year in the long term. It has a fixed cycle containing seven 13-month years in every 19 years.

It is tempting to wonder if originally there were exactly 12 lunar months in a solar year. Perhaps, in the way God set things up in His perfect creation, there were exactly 30 days in a lunar month and exactly 360 days in a solar year. Various people groups could then have a valid cultural memory, handed down from the time before different languages arose at the tower of Babel and people were dispersed.

There are some indications of this mathematically perfect scheme:

  • The symbol we use for a degree (an elevated circle) apparently came from the Babylonian mathematicians and is intended to represent the sun. With 360 days in a year, the sun would move exactly one degree per day (Observed by a motion of the stars in one night).
  • In Hebrew terminology, a month with only 29 days is called ‘defective’. Normally a month has 30 days.
  • The chronology of the global flood in Genesis chapters 6 to 9 seems to allow for 370 days, but the starting and ending dates indicate clearly it was a year plus 10 days (Genesis 7:11-13 says the “fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened” on 17th day of the second month when Noah was 600 years old, while Genesis 8:13-16 says Noah and his family came out of the ark on the 27th day of the second month in Noah’s 601st year).

However, the idea is hard to substantiate when the physics are considered. The earth could have increased its speed of rotation to get an extra five-and-a-bit days in a year (for example, through catastrophic plate tectonic movements[1] (A detailed discussion is in a future article) decreasing the moment of inertia of the earth at the time of the Flood), and the moon could have moved closer to the earth to get an increased number of lunar months in a year, although no particular mechanism has been identified as of yet.

We have seen that the day, the month and the year had their origins in astronomical periods, which God instituted for that purpose. But the week is different. It is not based on any observable astronomical period. The origin of the seven-day week is set out in Genesis when God completed His creation, setting a pattern for His creatures (Genesis 2:2-3 and Exodus 20:11).

It is fair to ask what is the origin of the names we use for the days of the week? It does not take long to make an internet search to discover the days of the week are identified with seven pagan gods associated with the five major planets plus the sun and moon. This planetary week was popularized by the Romans, and spread at the same time as did the rapid growth of Christianity.[2]  ‘Planet’ in the original sense meant ‘wanderer’, as opposed to fixed star, and these ‘wanderers’ across the sky were seen to be different from the stars. Names of Germanic gods eventually replaced the names of Roman gods as the basis for our English week day names (see Table 1).

The early Christian church numbered the days of the week, following Jewish practice, to avoid using the names of heathen deities. (I’ll meet you at the restaurant at 3:00 pm on day 3 of next week.) Interestingly, the Greek Orthodox Church still follows this practice, except that the first day of the week is called the ‘Lord’s day’.

TABLE 1
Weekday Teutonic God Roman God/Planet Latin name 
Sunday Sun Dies Solis
Monday Moon Dies Lunae
Tuesday Tiw Mars Dies Martis
Wednesday Woden Mercury Dies Mercurii
Thursday Thor Jupiter (Jove) Dies Iouis
Friday Frigg Venus Dies Veneris
Saturday Saturn Dies Saturni

But why are the days in the given order? Is the order arbitrary, or is there some rational explanation for it? The oldest answer appears to be in the writings of Dio Cassius.[3]  He gives two alternatives of how the established arrangement of the weekdays may be obtained from the ‘correct’ order of the planets, which he gives as starting with Saturn and ending with the moon.

His first (and rather unconvincing) explanation involves the musical principle of the tetrachord—a series of four musical notes—to skip to the fourth deity each time. His second explanation runs as follows: In astrology, every hour has its presiding deity who exerts his influence in that hour. Each hour of the week is assigned to one of the seven deities, and the deity who controls the first hour of each day is the regent of that day and gives his name to it.

In Table 2 I have set down Dio Cassius’ complete scheme, based on the assumption of a 10-hour day. It will be clear from this how the accepted order of the day’s results from the ‘correct’ order of the deities associated with the planets.

TABLE 2
HR. Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
1 Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus
2 Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury
3 Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon
4 Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn
5 Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter
6 Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars
7 Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun
8 Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus
9 Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury
10 Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon

Dio Cassius actually explains the scheme in terms of a 24-hour division of the day (it will be found that 24 hours give the same result, but not, say, 12 hours). If the Egyptians were using a 10-hour day in the first century BC, as some historians suggest, they could still have devised the scheme, as Dio Cassius claims. Where or when the 24-hour day originated is not known.[4]

The above explanation seems to put Saturday as the first day of the week. However, there is evidence that the Jewish Sabbath was identified with Saturn’s day in the first century BC. Dio Cassius tells of the Roman attack on the temple in Jerusalem, a success on Saturn’s day because the defenders would not fight on that day.[5] There is a suggestion in the writings of the Roman poet Tibullus (who died in 18 BC) that the Jewish people were thought to be Saturn worshippers.[6]

It seems, then, that the Jewish week and the planetary week have separate origins. We assume the planetary week began about the first century BC. It is clear from Dio Cassius’ writing that there is a vast difference between the two. In the planetary week, every day was dedicated to a god, and they were all much the same. But with the Jewish week, one day was singled out and dedicated specially to the living God (something which Dio Cassius could not comprehend).

We can say that from the time the planetary week came in contact with the Jewish week, Saturday has been identified with the Sabbath, and Sunday is therefore the first day of the week. In this connection, it is somewhat disconcerting to see calendars these days with Monday as the first day of the week.

calendar

Business people set up Microsoft© OutLook ™ with Monday the first day of the week, which would be Biblically accurate if Sunday was to be the last day of the week. In some business that I have worked at, this is the way that the Outlook calendar was delivered to the desktop, because we did all of our work from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.

The early Christian church saw great importance in the first day of the week; the day on which Jesus Christ rose from the dead, the day on which He ascended to heaven, and the day on which the Holy Spirit was poured out and the Church born. That would have been on Sunday, with Saturday being the day of rest, which gives us the group known as Seventh Day Adventists.

The planetary weekday names were later accepted by the Roman branch of the church, and hence ‘Christianized’. Jerome[7] says of Psalm 118:24, ‘Why is it called the Lord’s day? Because on it He ascended victoriously to His Father. But if the Gentiles called it the Sun’s day, we gladly admit it. For in this day the light of the world rose, on this day the sun of righteousness rose.’[8]

Note also the historical evidence for different types of weeks before the development of the planetary week:

  • Sabbatical week. Kept by the people of Israel.
  • Roman week. Consisted of seven or eight days. Approximately 1/4 of the month. It provided convenient spacing for market days, called ‘nundinae’.[9]
  • Babylonian-Assyrian week. Rest days fell on fixed days of the month: seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first and twenty-eighth. This week operated in the seventh century BC.[10]
  • Egyptian week. Consisted of 10 days, that is 1/3 of the month.[11] This week is said to date from very early in Egyptian history. It is doubtful though whether we should call a 10-day period a week.

Some historians suggest a development of the Jewish week from the Babylonian week in about 600 BC,[12] but without clear historical evidence. Other historians, who would seem to be more thorough, conclude differently: “The week of seven days was thus completely independent of the month [in contrast to the Babylonian and Assyrian week].”[13]

Having exhausted the extra-biblical historical evidence of a week, we can turn to the most reliable source of history we have—history concerning God’s dealing with man, and His chosen people.

If we accept the biblical account, we find the Jewish people keeping the Sabbath well before historical references to the Roman or Babylonian weeks. At the very commencement of Israel as a nation, we find God revealing the sabbatical week to His people. Even before the giving of the Law, when God provided the manna miraculously, He gave it in such a way as to teach His people about the sabbatical week. On the sixth day, there would be sufficient manna for two days, so the people did not need to gather any on the Sabbath—when none would be provided. If they gathered more than they needed on other days, it would spoil. But not on the sixth day (Exodus 16). A miraculous provision indeed! This, like the Sabbath day itself, was to emphasize man’s utter dependence on his Creator.

When Moses received the Law at Mount Sinai, the first thing God revealed to him was the Ten Commandments, which of course included the command about the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11). And the last thing God said to him before he came down the mountain with the tablets, was to keep the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-17). Keeping the Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between God and the nation of Israel—a testimony to an unbelieving world that this people was sanctified by God (Exodus 31:13).

But the week had its origin well before this—more than 2500 years before Moses’ day, at the very beginning of time. When God created the heavens and the earth, He created it all in six days, and then rested on the seventh. In both Exodus chapters 20 and 31, we find God giving the reason for the week as the pattern He set in creation (Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17). He took seven days in creation specifically to set a precedent for man, who is the pinnacle of His creation and indeed the very reason for the whole creation. (Something that atheists have not the ability to imagine or understand, but they claim to understand multiple thousands of parallel universes).

Genesis chapter 1 could not be much more specific about the fact that God took six actual days to complete the Creation. The writer of Genesis did not say they were 24-hour days and this provides Atheists and others to say these could have been thousands to millions of years long. However, for day and night to fall, you would have to have a rotation of the earth which, of course, is 24 hours long. This construct and absurdity of discussion will be in another article.

Where else could the week come from? It is not related to any astronomical observations, as are the day, the month and the year. It exists because God specified it. He clearly tells us it reflects what He did in the Creation week. Who is able to contradict Him? We were not there. No historian was there. Nor was Adam, the first man, until the sixth day of the Creation week. This makes it impossible to argue with the historical facts that God Himself gives us.

All the pointers are there in Genesis—in God’s perfect creation—for humans to order their lives starting with a 24-hour day. God gave us a pattern for working six days and resting on the seventh.

He gave us the stars by which we can even navigate our way around the earth. And He made an orderly universe so that by using the intelligence that comes from the Creator, we can observe, for example, that the earth revolves around the sun once a year. And that the earth also rotates on its axis every 24 hours.[14] And, using that knowledge of astronomy, the ancients were able to work out the earth’s position in the universe.

Days, months, years and seasons have always been central to our existence and a calendar a vital tool to keep track of events in our lives. So when you next flick through a calendar—even our flawed one—it should remind you of God’s creative genius and that it was He who set time and our world in motion in six, literal, 24-hour days, about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.


[1] Baumgardner, J., Catastrophic plate tectonics: the geophysical context of the Genesis Flood, creation.com/cpt-flood.

[2] Colson, F.H., The Week, Greenwood Press, Westport, p. 92, 1974.

[3] Cassius, D., Roman History, (Book 37), translated by E. Cary, (Vol. 3), Heinemann, London, Chapters 18 and 19, 1974.

[4] It might be pointed out in passing also that a 24-hour day is dependent on the spin of the earth on its own axis independent of the sun, and even at the poles today we may note that a 24-hour day does not require the sun to set.

[5] Ref. 2, (Book 37), chap. 16.

[6] Ref. 1, pp. 16, 17 (“I often alleged auguries and evil omens, or that I held the day of Saturn sacred.”—Tibullus).

[7] Jerome’s translation of Scripture took over 40 years. He translated the Gospels and the Old Testament, but not Acts, the New Testament epistles, or Revelation. His translations of the Gospels were revisions of the old Latin versions. He began revising the old Latin of the Old Testament in a similar fashion, but eventually decided to start over and make fresh translations straight from the Hebrew.

[8] Ref. 1, p. 94. Note that this may not have been written by Jerome.

[9] Ref. 1, pp. 2,3

[10] Richmond, B., Time Measurement and Calendar Construction, E.J. Brill, Leiden, pp. 39, 40, 42, 1956.

[11] O’Neill, W.M., Time and the Calendars, Sydney University Press, Sdyney, p. 66, 1975.

[12] Ref. 7, p. 74

[13] Negev, A., Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land, Weidenfeld Nicolson, London, p. 316, 1972 (Under the entry ‘Time’)

[14] DeYoung, D. B., Astronomy and the bible.