Saturday, 28 February 2015

THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG? CREATION OR EVOLUTION?


If we read the biblical account it starts with the chicken,  And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. Genesis 1:20-23
Every bird reproduced after its own kind, which is still true today.  Only same kinds can interbreed.
When God creates, the matter doesn’t need any further explanation or dialogue, it simply ends there.  God created the chicken [and birds, fish and reptiles] with the innate ability to reproduce through egg-bearing or laying.  God designed and created a finished, closed system of reproduction with all necessary components in place.  

It almost seems a copout to  simply leave it there, but there it is. In math we know, indisputably, that two plus two equals four.  It's a simple statement of fact.  So it is with Creation... God created.  It's a simple statement of fact that needs no further embellishment.  How He created no one knows.  He just did.
From an evolutionary perspective the question of the chicken or egg coming first is very much more complicated.  As I scoured the internet I found many articles and commentaries with their varied opinions, but, I could not find one, single article on how the first egg came to be.
The dilemma for evolutionists is that egg-laying is a very complicated and closed process.

1. First, you need a male and female chicken with functioning reproductive systems; the female chicken to produce the unfertilized ‘egg’ and the male chicken with the sperm necessary to fertilize the ‘egg’.  This means that before the first egg ever appeared on the scene someone, or something must have considered the end result - the egg.  Once the rooster deposits sperm in the hen, she keeps it in a little internal pouch. As a new egg passes by, still without a shell, it is fertilized by that sperm. This now fertilized ‘egg’ is the entity that will eventually be encapsulated in the outer shell.

2. Next you need an egg producing system.  A system that will envelope the fertilized egg, a single cell, in the yolk and sequentially wrapping the yolk in a membrane.  This is followed by the creation of the albumen, the ‘egg white’ that surrounds the yolk.   In turn the albumen is enveloped in a second membrane which is then enveloped by the shell, a mineralization and calcification process.  The chalazae are the two opaque strands of egg white that keep the yolk suspended in the middle of the egg.  Astoundingly, this whole process takes approximately 24-hours.  The chicken lays the egg.  

3. The complexity doesn’t stop there.  The whole system needs to carry the highly complex DNA, not only encoded with all the information for the chicken to grow but also carry the process information, the blueprint, for the cycle to carry on infinitely from generation to generation.

4. During the course of the next 20-days an even more impressive process takes place as the young chicken is formed.  Of course, the process includes a temperature control system (the brooding chicken), ventilation (porosity of the shell and membrane), etc.

5. Take any single element out of the process and you don’t have an egg or the life-cycle it produces.  The entire system must be in place from the very beginning for the very first egg to be produced.  This limitation is known as irreducible complexity.
Evolutionists have long taken issue with the idea of irreducible complexity.  In his 2008 book Only A Theory, biologist Kenneth R. Miller challenges the claim that a mousetrap is irreducibly complex. Miller observes that various subsets of the five components can be devised to form cooperative units, ones that have different functions from the mousetrap and so, in biological terms, could form functional spandrels before being adapted to the new function of catching mice. In an example taken from his high school experience, Miller recalls that one of his classmates

...struck upon the brilliant idea of using an old, broken mousetrap as a spitball catapult, and it worked brilliantly....It had worked perfectly as something other than a mousetrap....my rowdy friend had pulled a couple of parts --probably the hold-down bar and catch-- off the trap to make it easier to conceal and more effective as a catapult...[leaving] the base, the spring, and the hammer. Not much of a mousetrap, but a helluva spitball launcher....I realized why [Behe's] mousetrap analogy had bothered me. It was wrong. The mousetrap is not irreducibly complex after all.
Other systems identified by Miller that include mousetrap components include the following:
  • use the spitball launcher as a tie clip (same three-part system with different function)
  • remove the spring from the spitball launcher/tie clip to create a two-part key chain (base + hammer)
  • glue the spitball launcher/tie clip to a sheet of wood to create a clipboard (launcher + glue + wood)
  • remove the hold-down bar for use as a toothpick (single element system)
The point of the reduction is that - in biology - most or all of the components were already at hand, by the time it became necessary to build a mousetrap. As such it required far fewer steps to develop a mousetrap than to design all the components from scratch.
Thus the development of the mousetrap, said to consist of five different parts which had no function on their own, has been reduced to one step: the assembly from parts that are already present, performing other functions.
The Intelligent Design argument focusses on the functionality to catch mice. It skips over the case that many, if not all, parts are already available in their own right, at the time that the need for a mousetrap arises.  From Wikipedia.
The Achilles Heel’s of Keneth Millers argument, that the irreducibly complex mousetrap had been reduced to a "single step", are eleven-fold: 
  1. The mousetrap needs a purpose to exist (to catch mice);
  2. The mousetrap needs a design or blueprint [a very specific arrangement of all the parts] in order to function (see illustration above);
  3. The mousetrap, to be a mousetrap, still requires all five components (eight if you include the three fasteners - you can't make it without them);
  4. All five components must be readily available;
  5. All five components must themselves be of a specific design, dimension, suitable material, etc. E.g. The spring is made from heat-treated, specially formulated steel, of a specific diameter, wound around a form with ends  for creating a fulcrum, and trimmed to an exact length to mate with the other parts;
  6. The mousetrap needs a process (sequence) for assembly of the parts;
  7. Someone, or something, is needed to assemble the parts;
  8. Someone, or something, needs to follow the assembly instructions as all the parts have to be assembled in a specific order, starting with the base;
  9. You need a bait to attract the mouse;
  10. Someone is needed to set the trap and, finally,
  11. A mouse is needed to activate the trap, in order for the trap to carry out its function.
For Miller to argue that the individual components can be reutilized for other purposes, or other gadgets can be assembled from the parts, is simply a red herring of the worst kind.

Besides which, chickens, eggs and life are exceedingly more complicated that a mousetrap.

David Harrison © 2014

Friday, 27 February 2015

TEN THINGS ATHEISTS GET WRONG


1. Things don’t need to be scientifically proven or testable for us to know that they exist, e.g. beauty, joy, grief, etc.  Why should the spiritual realm be any different?

2. Anything that is experiential or relational is unique to the individual, as are all relationships.  Please don’t tell me it’s impossible to know God or that I am deluded.

3. God and gods2 are not the same thing.  Truth is singular in this instance. 

4. Unicorns do exist.  The narwhal is an obvious example.  Single horned oryx and elands are not uncommon although the single horn is the result of genetic defect.  The one-horned goat portrayed in Daniel 8:5 is figurative and, as often referenced in the Bible, the horn represents strength and power.

5. To say, “I don’t know and you don’t either” is simple arrogance.

6. All the atheists in the world combined know less about God than a single born-again Christian.  An atheist’s ignorance of God proves nothing – only their ignorance.  

7. In a court of law the first-hand testimony of three or four people is generally accepted; in which case the first-hand testimony of billions of born-again Christians should be more than adequate to acknowledge that is possible to have a personal, two-way relationship with God.

8. Anyone who claims to be an atheist (or agnostic) simply hasn’t taken up God’s offer.  God knows from experience that miracles are not necessarily going to convince anyone, so He decided there is a better way, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13.  A Christian knows this promise to be true.

9. Believing there is a God and relationally knowing God are two different things.

10. Faith is not blind.  Blind faith and atheists are blind1.  God says in Jeremiah 5:21 “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear:…” or to put it in the vernacular credited to John Heywood, “There is none so blind as those who will not see.”  For a Christian faith is experienced it two different ways; first the knowledge of the unseen (the faith that God exists even though I can’t [literally] see or tangibly touch Him) and second, the faith that God is absolutely faithful and trustworthy regardless of any circumstance he or she might find themselves in.  The latter is the faith that ‘grows’ as we experience the faithfulness of God day-by-day.


1To say that atheists are ‘blind’ is not intended as an offensive criticism, rather, a statement of fact.  When it comes to denial of the existence of God, the apostle Paul teaches us, “Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away…”  This veil, as solid, opaque and impenetrable as any castle door, is constructed entirely of pride and is reinforced with a portcullis made of thick iron bars of willful ignorance.  Yet the wonder of it all is that this veil, this seemingly impenetrable door, can be demolished by a simple change of heart.  How do I know this to be fact?  I used to be an atheist on the other side of the door.

2Christians and Moslems both believe there is a God, but do they believe in the same God?  No.  Two people can say, “I believe there is a president of the United States.”  Both would be stating a simple truth.  If one says, “I believe Hilary Clinton is President” and the other says, “I believe Barak Obama is President” only one of these two statements can be true.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

TFSA’s vs. THE RICH AND POOR


It seems that everyone in the media is flapping their arms about a Broadbent Institute report that says the proposed doubling of TFSA [Tax Free Savings Accounts] is a terrible thing.  Exactly what one would expect to hear from a socialist think-tank.
From a biblical perspective Jesus talked more about money than any other subject.  Here are a few of the things He had to say:
On being extravagant: “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.”  Mark 14:6-8
On our attitude to the poor: “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.”  Mark 14:6-8
On making wise investments (at the very least): “Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.” Matthew 25:27.  The greater point in this parable was that you don’t get rich without taking some risks.
As I read many of the readers’ comments it is apparent that many have no idea of how the world actually turns, how taxes get paid, or how and why monies (wealth) needs to be invested.

Here are my Top-10 Thoughts on the comments I have been reading:
1. We need the very wealthy.  Typically, these are the masters of invention and innovation and builders of business.  These are the individuals whose businesses provide employment to a large portion (I did not say majority) of the masses.  Their companies produce profits, which provide dividends for your RRSP’s and, yes, even your Canada Pension Plan.  They are the big philanthropists - imagine where many of our benevolent institutions would be without them.

2. The wealthy for the most part are entitled to be wealthy.  If they make a better widget and sell a whole lot more of them so why should they be penalized?  They don’t owe me (or the Government) anything extra for being smart business people or shrewd investors.

3. The wealthy, the smart ones anyway, invest their wealth in other companies.  An individual who simply keeps his millions or billions in a chequing account somewhere are not going to stay wealthy for very long.  I say, follow their example.  Invest.  See Matthew 25.

4. Some of the commentators noted that the majority cannot afford to contribute monies into a TFSA.  The median family income in Ontario (according to Stats Canada) is $74,890. We make it our choice to max out our TFSA's. Which 'majority' are they talking about?

5. We choose to live a modest lifestyle now so that are able to save for a comfortable retirement. It is choice, rather than ability, that dictates who will save and how much.  Read God’s advice in the Book of Proverbs.

6. The world (or the Government) doesn’t owe me anything other than the ability to work hard and be productive.  I expect exactly the same of the Government as they invest my taxes.

7. I am disheartened by the number of independent contractors and businesses who will offer us a ‘deal for cash’.  It ends up being a double whammy for the Government; they lose the HST I should have paid and the income tax the contractor should have paid.  I can only imagine how much our taxes might be reduced if everyone paid their fair share and the Government(s) got rid of waste and increased their productivity simultaneously.  All the talk about lost Government revenues by doubling TFSA allowances is but a pin-prick by comparison.

8. TFSA’s aren’t limited to meagre bank-rate interest.  In the past year we have seen annualized growth of 7% and this in a relatively low-risk investment.

9. In the same manner that it pays to save – it pays to tithe (give to the work of building up God’s Kingdom).  I save a full third of my taxes on the donated amount, it makes me feel good to see my monies bring a smile to a child’s face and then, the icing on the cake, God says He will bless me for doing so!

10. Finally, to quote Jesus on making wise investments, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”