Friday, December 6, 2013

Courage for the Gaps


In my previous two posts I talked about some of the ways we look at nature, whether it seems simple or complex, and how we can consider everything Created by God.  In “Salt and Earth” I discussed how simple things are well designed.  In “GAPS” I showed how low probability, complex things should be considered designed.  In other words, we believe design instead of proving it.

But there is still knowledge to be gained by realizing that the complexity of biology is not answered by the physical laws as we know them right now.  For example, random chemical reactions do not explain the genetic codes within our DNA.  That can alert us to God’s intervention and perhaps help others to notice it too.

People worry that believers foil scientific inquiry.  But Christians recognize an atom as an atom and understand electromagnetic radiation as well as unbelievers.  In fact, it was a brilliant Christian, James Clerk Maxwell, who wrote the equations to explain electromagnetism in the first place.  There is nothing to keep Christians from researching diseases and genetics except the appropriate ethical considerations.

What Christians shouldn’t accept are vague stories of molecular evolution not backed by facts.  It’s just as logical to think the totally materialistic evolution story won’t ever sufficiently explain biological complexity as to think it will.

That’s because the complexity of biological life goes against the physical laws such as thermodynamics.  Though some would claim the order in living cells comes from the sun’s energy, it does not come directly from that any more than cars are directly made by electric current through wires.  A lot has to happen in between.

Some are afraid that if we say “God directly made the cell” someone will come along and prove that a natural force suffices. There may be those who are afraid they will be mocked as ignorant, but I think many are concerned about letting God down if we are wrong. I don’t think He will be displeased if we indeed believe He intervened supernaturally within His Creation to create life.  He knows we hold to faith as well as reason, and this conclusion works for both.

I pray all of you may have a blessed Christmas and very happy New Year. If you have time, please hear and contemplate this Christmas song, Manger Throne, by Third Day with Derri Daugherty and Julie Miller.
 

Friday, November 1, 2013

GAPS


Last year I wrote a post about a hypothesis of mine.  I went back and re-wrote the post about 4 or 5 times and still wasn’t satisfied.  So I will start over and try to explain it here in better form. 

The name of my hypothesis:  Gain Application Probability Supposition (GAPS).

If you have a fair coin and toss it, you have an equal chance for it to land heads or tails.  If you are in a situation where you toss a coin for a type of prize, such as for choice of starting position at the beginning of a football game, the result comes with a certain gain or loss.  When you win and associate the outcome with gain, you have Gain Application Probability (GAP).

If you are going to toss a coin one time and I tell you I will give you a prize, say $100, if you get heads, you will perceive the difference in the outcome even though heads and tails are of equal chance. (This example isn’t gambling because you don't lose your own money if you don’t win the prize.)

If I give you a prize for one toss of a dice if it comes out as a 5 and no other number, you will feel a difference if the 5 comes up.  But before you tossed, you only had one chance in six to get that prize, whereas with the coin it was one in two.

If I say I will give you $100 if you draw an Ace of Diamonds off the top of a regular, fairly shuffled deck of cards, you know that your chances of the prize are getting smaller (1 in 52) from the coin and dice tosses.  Which situation would you choose to take the chance for the prize?

Some regard the probabilities in dealt card hands no different if you have a good hand or bad.  But if you have cards that can win in a game (if played well), you may win a pot of money.  So I would call the good hand a gain.

Then there are situations based on probability where you lose. If your football team loses the toss, you have a Loss Application Probability, or LAP.  And there are many probability outcomes that don’t affect us much one way or the other, such when we toss coins just to see what comes up.  I call these Neutral Application Probabilities (NAP).

And, I suppose, zero times GAP is ZAP.

Now say I offered to let you choose between two possibilities.  I will give you a prize of $1,000 if you pick the Ace of Diamonds off the top of a fairly shuffled deck of cards or $100 if you get heads from a fairly tossed coin.  You might think about that for a while. With the cards the prize is bigger, but the chance of winning is smaller. According to my theory, the GAP increases when the gain of an event is larger and the probability is smaller.

Scientists have discovered (Axe, BIO-Complexity, 2010) that the proportion of biologically functional proteins is extremely tiny.  Proteins are the molecules (made of atoms) which do the work in all living cells, from single-celled bacteria to trillions-celled humans.  Proteins consist of smaller molecules called “amino acids” which as sub-units attach to each other to make long strings.  The twenty different kinds of biological amino acids have to line up in close to exact sequence so they can form into folds.  They have cross-connections that hold the protein together and the resulting shape and position of charges can perform specialized activities.  There is little leeway in the combinations.  Think if you had a list of business deliveries with addresses and phone numbers.  How many random changes to that list would make it impossible to complete all the deliveries in the required time?

The average protein consists of about 300 amino acids, but often has many more. There can be over 1000 in one specific protein.  In evolution theory (neo-Darwinism), random mutations of the DNA molecule during reproduction are supposed to provide the changes in proteins, since it is from DNA code that they are made.  Even natural selection (survival of the fittest), which is the other part of neo-Darwinism, depends on these DNA changes to provide the improved proteins so the organism has something to give it an advantage for reproduction and thereby be selected for the next generation.  Therefore we can say that totally materialistic evolution is theorized to happen entirely by chance.  For a smaller than average-sized protein, it has been experimentally found that about one in 10^77 of the amino acid combinations is fully functional, which is a 1 with 77 zeroes after it (10 to the power of 77).  Compare this to the number of atoms in our galaxy: 10^65.  Though this probability is so minuscule, the gain for us is great.  Without functional proteins, we would not have life at all.  And humans have thousands and thousands of proteins. 

In my experience, people have trouble comprehending really big or small numbers.  My husband worked out a probability problem for me a while ago.  He used an example with one million monkeys with one million typewriters with the target sentence: “It was a dark and stormy night.”  They would be typing continuously (24/7/365), 60 words per minute, with 5 letters per word.  The probability for each unit was 1 in 28 (26 letters, a space and a period).  He didn’t worry about a capital for the first letter.  How much time do you think the monkeys would need to type out that exact sentence by chance?  On average, it takes them about 7 thousand trillion trillion trillion years.

A trillion (10^12) is a thousand times a billion (10^9) and the number above is trillions of times more than a trillion.  Yet we have been told by experts that 3 billion years are long enough to form humans by random movement of molecules, starting with small organisms which changed in kind through reproduction.  Though our Earth contains a great number of atoms to work with, there are still limits.  It would take a very long time indeed for random combinations to form the specialized molecules necessary for life and the ever-increasing complexity of evolution. 

By now you may have realized that my hypothesis “GAPS” is a play on the common criticism concerning Creationists.  Many say Christians don’t really want to think about science, but resort to “God of the Gaps.”  In other words, if Creationists can’t figure something out we say, “God did it.”  It is true that we believe God made life.  Then when we learn the emerging facts about biology, our reason combines with our faith.  We use judgment to conclude that the presence and diversity of living beings is not by chance but by God’s direct formation in some way. 

In our culture, many people think science either does or will explain everything. Critics often insist that if we say God made Creation then we must give exact details of how He did it, preferably in a scientific formula. But they are putting the demands in their own terms.  The supernatural realm is different from this one, and God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are higher than we can imagine above our thoughts (cf. Isaiah 55:8-10 NABRE).
 
As for the GAP of biological life, it is immeasurable because the gain is priceless.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Salt and Earth


From the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has urged us to give up materialistic ways and go out into the streets to the poor, both to evangelize and help them.  In his way of living and in many of his sayings, he promotes simplicity.

The Pope has also approved Vatican websites and tweets on Twitter.  He therefore assumes that those who are following his daily routine and pronouncements come equipped with computers and smart phones.

This is not to criticize, since I think it is wonderful he communicates with his flock.  But there is a little bit of irony here.  With daily scientific advances, the world is becoming more complicated.  It’s fairly widely believed that the best way to help people out of poverty is education.  Though one might live in a smaller house and drive an older car, to be educated is to live with complexity.

In the Intelligent Design (ID) movement, advocates are trying to determine how to detect design in biology.  One of their basic concepts is to equate design with complexity.  They take the example of computer programming and state that the only way this programming has come about is by intelligence.  They go on to theorize that the resemblance of DNA to programming points to the conclusion that DNA was designed by intelligence.

In order to prove their point, they use computer programming examples.  They compare simple strings of repetitive letters or numbers, such as 1010101010, with simpler computer instructions to create them (repeat “10” 5 times), as opposed to a long line of random-looking letters, such as YXOL248JMN (print “YXOL248JMN”).  They go on to say that the complexity is not enough to prove design—it must also be specified, which fits patterns or is predicted ahead of time.  But part of this specified complexity is complexity itself, so the concept is worth examining.

There are lots of critics to ID and I don’t want to get into all the in’s and out’s of this argument.  But I’d like to use an example of simple repetitive units as something they might therefore regard as un-designed: that is salt.

Solid salt, called NaCl for sodium chloride, is a repeat of sodium and chlorine atoms in a 3-D lattice.  Therefore salt seems made of  simple repetitive units that on the whole can be considered un-designed.  But these units are necessary for life. Without the sodium and chloride ions, there could be no cell function.  Among other things, these electrically charged ions are pumped in and out constantly with other nutrients (digestion), they keep the cell from popping or collapsing (osmosis), they help the nerves to fire (membrane electrical potentials).  Does salt become complex because it is involved in biology?

Salt is easily dissolved, it is easily distributed when solid and makes food taste good.  Most of us are able to get what we need through our food and the shaker on our kitchen table.  I think it is marvelously designed.

To use computer programming to compare simplicity and complexity is a little strained.  The presence of repeating numbers or letters on a screen still takes a computer, a programmer and syntax.  Finding patterns in the repeating symbols might even take more time and effort than to type the random string.  Whether the specific command is a little shorter or longer is almost mute.

This is another reason why faith undergirds knowledge.  We can have visions of proof of biology, but what about minerals and planets?  If we didn’t have these, we wouldn’t have life either.  All of it is designed, and all of it is unimaginably, for us, complex.

Christ said to us, “You are the salt of the Earth.  But if salt loses its flavor, with what can it be seasoned?” (Matthew 5:13, NABRE).  If we forget God in the midst of our theories, we lose the main truth.  This is both simple and complex, perhaps a paradox.  The uneducated can believe in God and know where things came from as well as those who are considered our most erudite.

Later, St. Paul also used salt in an analogy: “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you know how you should respond to each one.” (Colossians 4:5,6). 

Salt is marvelous, simple yet complex.  It makes you think, doesn’t it?

Friday, September 6, 2013

No Matter What They Say


There have to be people out there who are beginning to realize that biological life is too complex to have come about by random physics and chemistry, no matter what evolutionists say. Many critics of the Intelligent Design Movement (ID) insist the ID advocates are Creationists who are trying to hide their real identity.  The IDists say they are simply scientists who are evaluating the telltale signs of design in biology.  The critics ask who the designer is and the IDists say the Designer has intelligence but “could be anyone” or “could be anything.” They give a characteristic of their theoretical designer, but not an identity.

But I’m happy to answer Who the Designer is.

I believe that God made Creation and He has revealed Himself through the Bible.  He has also made Himself known through nature itself.  There are Scripture verses often quoted by those who link science with religion.  One of them goes:   Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made (Romans 1:20,NABRE).

Design does not have to be proven in the scientific way in order for people to see and appreciate it. The far more puzzling question is why people aren’t seeing it. How can they even pretend these biological systems are not designed?

Perhaps it is because they are told they are not designed. But more and more information is coming out that contradicts what evolutionists and most scientists are saying.  At some point we have to judge for ourselves, just as a jury has to evaluate whether someone is being truthful or lying about a certain event. Juries evaluate motives, and we are called upon in the case of evolution theory to analyze agendas.  Though many deny it, biological evolution is tied to questions of value of life. 

Besides being Creator, God interacts with people personally. But you may have no idea how to connect with Him.  I’d like you to be aware of these 5 ways to develop spirituality.  Start with any and try to work up to all of them.
  1. Worship, preferably within a Christian Church.
  2. Read the Bible, starting with the New Testament (Book of Matthew, and be sure to read Book of John).
  3. Pray, even if you don’t know what you are doing.  God does and will hear you. 
  4. Make quiet time for yourself at regular intervals. 
  5. Speak to members of the Christian community about your thoughts and questions.  If you are not comfortable in the first conversation, please try again.

Maintain this effort even if you don’t detect any change at first. Persistence pays. If you have resisted belief in God, it may be difficult.  But I hope as you read the Bible and do the other spiritual exercises you will sense a difference in your thoughts and your life.

I believe God exists and that biological life and the world around us are evidence of such.  It can be most fulfilling to learn more, in different ways, of both the Creation and the Creator.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My husband had surgeries in August and the beginning of Sept. to help in his fight against the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.  By God's grace, he is recovering well from the surgery. 

I want to thank our church family at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Muskegon for their emotional and spiritual support and the wonderful staff at Mercy Health St. Mary’s and Hauenstein Neurosciences in Grand Rapids.  You are all very, very special.  Often people are asked why they stay in the Catholic Church with all the bad going on in it.  Many reply that there are good works they would not want to abandon.  You are all proof of the good.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Division and Change


Austrian Fr. Helmut Schüller is a representative of many priests in the Catholic Church.  He is currently on a US speaking tour.  He is organizing priests and laypersons to make a grass-roots change.  His group thinks all Catholics should have greater participation in the running of the Church and that married men and women should be able to become ordained.

Several bishops have disallowed Fr. Schüller to speak under their jurisdictions.  Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia apparently thinks his appearance at a local college on July 19 was dangerous to Church unity.  Does Archbishop Chaput actually think that the current Church is united?  Perhaps he doesn’t count all the people who have left it in recent years or those crying for change.

When the Pew Religious Forum did an extensive survey in 2008 of Religious Affiliation in the US, it found that Catholic Church has the most losses percentagewise of any denomination.  In the past few decades here, around 25,000,000 people have left. As the survey says, if it were not for the Latino influx into our country, the losses would be much higher.  The bishops may hope for Latinos to change the order of things here, but these people are also leaving. There may have been an enthusiastic World Youth Day in Brazil, but in another Pew Forum study, the statistics show people are declining in Catholic affiliation there, especially the young.

Ever since Pope Francis has been elected, he has talked about change.  He wants Catholics to “get outside themselves,” to dialogue with others and to care for the poor.  I have linked to a specific article here which gives the flavor of what he has been saying. If you follow this Vatican News website which gives daily updates on his homilies and other activities, you will see the themes often.

The people who leave the Catholic Church go to various ends.  Some join Pentecostal churches, some mainline Protestant, some lose their faith altogether. Even within the Church a wide range of opinion is seen, from liberal to conservative. So is there any hope for unity at all?

The Catholic Church has been through all kinds of tough times.  Past popes were involved in wars and belonged to corrupt political families.  During Inquisitions, heretics were burned at the stake.  The child sexual abuse travesty has apparently been around for a long time but not as widely known as it lately has been (and we hope that this coming to the surface will lead to permanent cleansing). Women are totally excluded from leadership.  People ask why members stay. 

I do not want to minimize our responsibility to try to solve our problems. Fortunately, things do change and we hopefully try to evangelize heretics instead of burning them at the stake. In my blog I have had many articles concerning the inequality I feel is imposed upon Catholic women. Though some Catholic women are not insulted by the traditional way of men-only clergy, in this day and age many women are indignant about the differences. Though some people hold there are reasons for distinctions between genders, this theology has obviously been put forward by an all-male Magisterium. Would a group which included women in the decision come to the same conclusion?

However, getting back to the point, I along with other Church members have priorities.  I saw a comment on the Internet where they were discussing grievous wrongs of the Church. The person said he can answer why he stays with two words: the Eucharist. 

In a word it is the Word for Whom we stay.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2, NABRE.) When we receive the true body and blood of Christ at each mass, the encounter is awesome. Most Protestants and a large number of Catholics think that the bread and wine are simply symbols, so I suppose I should speak for myself.  One way I will try to put it is that even though I accept, as Christ promised, that He is with us always, there seems like an added or maybe clearer dimension in this sacrament. It reminds me of a Scripture verse from the King James Bible: "Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end" (Isaiah 9:7, KJV). It's like when you think you've had a peak experience with the Lord, it can get even better. Those of us who experience this mystery want to invite others to come to Him too.

People are sinful and sometimes very badly sinful.  But you don’t get away from evil by leaving the Church.  It’s all over the place.  We come to the Lord because He is our protector.  He is our Savior, and we surely need one.  Through the ages, no matter how bad it got, people realized this.  Though they may have disagreed with their leaders and each other, this is the focal point from which they carried on. This is the power that is greater than evil.

Many Catholics agree with Fr. Helmut Schüller in his first priority: to ensure that there are enough priests to provide the precious gift of the Eucharist for all who desire it (along with time for those priests to adequately serve their parishes).  Christ told Peter, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17.) It is good that Pope Francis cares about the poor--I'm glad he does. But he must especially care for the Catholic flock.

Another commenter I read in a different discussion about disagreements among Catholics declared, tongue in cheek, he will change the name of his blog to “I alone am the True Church.”  I think we all feel this way at one time or another.  But we pray for the grace to move forward, and that we may all do our best so that Christ’s body and blood can be given each week to all who believe it is real.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cambrian Explosion Explodes

The latest in the regular literary output from the Intelligent Design (ID) people has made its debut. Steven Meyer has written Darwin’s Doubt, and he acknowledges help from fellow Discovery Institute members. These guys are pretty sharp when it comes to biology.

Even if you are a regular follower of ID theory and read the Discovery Institute blog, “Evolution News and Views,” the new book gives worthwhile perspective on the breadth and depth of scientific research about evolution or the lack thereof. It focuses on the so-called “Cambrian Explosion.” This describes a geological layer of rock where many animal forms have been discovered without any build-up toward their full formation in the rock layers beneath. These findings defy the tree-like description of gradual change that Charles Darwin said would be found if he were correct about evolution. He believed the Earth started with a “simple” cell-like organism which through generations of time slowly developed into various species and forms which we know now. Meyer shows how the fossil records are not what Charles Darwin predicted.

In 2010, Meyer wrote Signature in the Cell, which is about the origin of life. So with these two volumes you have extensive descriptions of biology and the consolidation of many facts related to the evolution debate. I think Meyer is very readable and should be understandable even to beginners. These two volumes are worth the money for anyone interested in these subjects. That is because the coverage of the issues is so extensive that the two books sufficiently teach about the history up to the very latest of science concerning life origins and evolution, both for the ID and neo-Darwinian perspectives. The books are worthy enough to be read down to the last word, and they should be valuable reference books too. However, whether or not we accept that biological life was designed, Meyer thinks we may never know all the details of how it came about.

As I’ve said before, I’ve moved from this particular point of view (ID) to Direct Biological Creationism. I’m open-minded about the age of the Earth, but ID holds that it is billions of years old. The proponents also do not want to combine the science with religion, which I think is a mistake. When faith is first, true science falls into place, even when we don’t have all the answers. Research can go on to new heights, but we will also respect life in a new light. This should not be a problem in our country because America was formed in order to give people religious freedom. The problem is with the people who interpret the Constitution in the wrong way. I’m not saying you should read Scripture in public school, because I don’t want literature from all religions read in school. But there must certainly be ways to work out the freedom to say, within the confines of a public school building, that you believe God made biological cells.

To paraphrase Ephesians 4 of the Bible, when a person becomes Christian he or she sheds the old self and becomes new. When this happens, faith, not science, is first. You do not have to be a believer to be an Intelligent Design advocate. But when you become a believer, faith is the first priority even in reason, and all logic follows in line.

Monday, July 1, 2013

We Want Change

I will be putting in a new post on First Friday as I've done for a few months now.  That's the day many Catholics follow the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as I've noted elsewhere.  Today I just want to say a few words about two images I put together and display here. They represent a wooden nickel, with one side saying "Peter was Married!" and the other side saying "We Want Change!" (Bible verses concerning Peter's marriage: Matthew 8:14-15, 1 Corinthians 9:5, NABRE.)

I am interested in evangelization and it doesn't behoove a church to have infighting when they want to attract others to join them.  However, it is no secret that the Catholic Church has had a lot of problems lately between scandals and incompetency.  Most of us, I hope, realize that we have got to clean up our own act if we are going to help others toward Christ.  Of course, we admit we are sinners, but one of the points of becoming Christians is to put off the old self and become renewed in spirit (Ephesians 4, NABRE).

I like Pope Francis quite a bit and have read almost everything that he has said that's been posted on the Vatican News website.  He talks about reforming the Church and I sincerely hope he does.  But things move so slowly we think we will never get where we have to be.  We must try to release our frustration in ways that are not permanently harmful.  I had seen that some Catholics were giving wooden nickels to the Church instead of cash or checks to show their frustration with the leadership and using the real money they withheld to donate directly to worthy charities.  I forget what was written on the nickels, but I made up my own in pictures to show my wish for the collection plates until at the very least married men are allowed to be priests. Though this isn't directly related to the problems mentioned above, it would turn things in general to the direction of change for the better.
 
To be up front, I admit I haven't done it myself yet. But I did look up a few stores to see if they have wooden discs.  Many can't understand why Catholics still give with all the bad things happening, but the Catholic leadership does many good things like care for the poor and sick and teach children.  There is government help for some of the work, but much comes from donations.  I'd sure like to figure out a way to get money to the right place without it being diverted to the people who have gone so badly wrong.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus


Today is the first Friday of June, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I had posted the devotion for the Sacred Heart here. If you would like a detailed description of the meaning and history of the Sacred Heart Devotion, you can go here to the New Advent website.  It holds a 1913 version of the Catholic Encyclopedia which is still beneficial for historical information, is in the public domain and accessible free online.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus started about 1000 years ago.  It was associated with the piercing of Christ’s side on the cross, and the wounding of His heart was considered as representing God’s love.

Sagrado Corazón de Jesús I
by Rjcastillo
Then in the 1600’s, a nun named Margaret Mary Alacoque reported visions in which she saw and heard Jesus Christ. He talked of His love for mankind and encouraged the renewal of the devotion to His Sacred Heart. She took the request to the superior of a Jesuit house, Father de la Colombière.  Through his efforts the devotion grew in popularity and eventually popes got involved in approving and promoting it.

Margaret Mary was a Visitandine, from an order established by Saint Francis De Sales.  It was originally intended that the members of this order would visit the poor.  But due to local circumstances, they became an enclosed cloister.  Eventually, they moved in the direction of education and exist as such today. 

The founder, St. Francis, is a doctor of the church and considered the patron saint of writers.  I include this information because a prayer said along with the devotion supplicates for those who disdain the Christian faith, seeking that they may be converted to the Truth.  The New Evangelization depends greatly on education and communication as well as prayer.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Shifting Paradigms

An interesting article has come out in “Nature” journal.  It basically says scientists don’t understand molecular evolution, which means they don’t understand evolution period.  The author, Philip Ball, marks the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA (our cellular source of genes) by Watson and Crick.  Ball in turn quotes another biologist, Patrick Phillips, who said, "[P]rojects such as ENCODE are showing scientists that they don't really understand how genotypes map into phenotypes, or how exactly evolutionary forces shape any given genome." The genotype is the makeup of the gene and the phenotype is the physical structure of the individual organism. 

It’s intriguing that Nature would produce such an article, since they are the ones who published the ENCODE Project research findings.  A summary of the findings can be seen on the NIH website press release here.  Basically ENCODE found that at least 80% of DNA is functional, which totally eliminates chance as the fundamental cause of life and speciation.  This research has falsified Darwinian evolution, but many scientists still won’t admit it.  To deny that only chance was involved, they’ve claimed natural selection has moved life and evolution along.  However, that was based on nature being able to select individuals with genes which formed by chance into something useful.  And that depended on a DNA molecule that was mostly "junk," supposedly giving room for the chance formation of useful genes to be selected. ENCODE has eliminated the "junk" hypothesis.

The high functionality of DNA defies the “billions of years” modifier used in the past to explain materialistic evolution.  Billions of years is a drop in the bucket for the millions of regulatory switches found by the ENCODE research.  There is just no way these could have randomly gathered and been able to function in the fine-tuned world of the biological organism.  Anyone familiar with probabilities will know the truth of that.  It is time for a change in our paradigm.

In my blog, I’ve been trying to show that human beings can’t be here from simple chance of nature.  I know there is still a long way for some of you to go in your understanding, but I hope you are starting to see how true it is that we are made by a Genius Whom we know as God.  The next step for those who are just starting to accept that neo-Darwinian theory is defunct is to determine Who this God is.

My approach is in contrast to what the advocates of Intelligent Design Theory (ID) say about biological design being separate from religion.  They seem to think that is a valid approach and are not the only ones who make distinct categories.  The biologist Stephen Jay Gould felt they were different spheres.  But Creationists have long combined the two, and their concept is independent of the age of the Earth.  In other words, a Creationist does not have to believe in 6 literal 24-hour days of creation to believe that God made people and/or species directly. And when Christians believe that biological life was made by a Designer, there should be no question to them of Who that is.  That is the Triune God of the Bible: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

ID advocates insist that they are not secretly promoting religion, describing the designer only as intelligent.  They define a quality of the designer but not the identity.  But once we see the complexity of biology it is natural to ask the “Who” as well as the “How.”  This is where the ID people ignore a portion of the population as much as materialistic scientists do. Creationists see all questions as valid, even if some of the answers will always be beyond our understanding.

So I ask those of you who are starting to see the validity of what Creationists have said all along to keep on your journey.  When I was searching for answers to spiritual questions, I prayed for the Truth.  Even if you don’t know Who God may be, He will hear you.  I prayed in this way and found Christianity.  I now believe this religion to be True and am joyful to have discovered fulfillment such that I never could have previously imagined. 

It’s not that unusual to fear new territory and yet when we allow ourselves to experience it we often find the opposite from what we expect.  Seekers may think Christianity is limiting, but it is expanding.  They may think it will confine them if they embrace it, but it frees them.  But like a foreign country, you can’t really know what Christianity is like until you go there.

Friday, April 5, 2013

First Friday

As I said before, I have found myself too busy at this time to plan for a weekly post, but will try to enter one at least once a month. I attend church on First Fridays of the month when the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is repeated. I thought that putting the actual devotion in my post would be a good way to start this attempted schedule.

Here is the Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The reader’s part is in regular text, and the response of the group is in italics. Due to not wanting to take a lot of time figuring out formatting, I have them on separate lines without indentation. Several prayers, said by all, follow.

LITANY OF THE SACRED HEART

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mother,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the Word of God,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of Infinite Majesty,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Sacred Temple of God,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Tabernacle of the Most High,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, House of God and Gate of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, burning furnace of charity,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, In whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells the fulness of Divinity,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, In whom the Father was well pleased,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fulness we have all received,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, enriching all who invoke Thee,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, loaded down with opprobrium,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our offences,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, obedient unto death,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim of sin,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in Thee,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all the saints,
have mercy on us.
Jesus meek and humble of heart,
Make our hearts like unto thine.

LET US PRAY

Almighty and Eternal God, look upon the Heart of Thy dearly beloved Son, and upon the praise and satisfaction He offers Thee in behalf of sinners, and being appeased, grant pardon to those who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end, Amen.

CONSECRATION OF THE HUMAN RACE TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS

Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us, humbly prostrate before your altar. We are Yours and Yours we wish to be; but, to be more surely united with You, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Your most Sacred Heart. Many indeed have never known You; many too, despising Your precepts, have rejected You. Have mercy on them all merciful Jesus, and draw them to Your Sacred Heart. Be King O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken You, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned You; grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger. Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd. Grant, O Lord, to Your church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the Earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: “Praise to the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation! To it be glory and honor forever!” Amen.

PRAYER TO ST. MICHAEL

St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

John 3:16 Иоанна 3:16


Библия

От Иоанна 3

16 Ибо так возлюбил Бог мир, что отдал Сына Своего Единородного, дабы всякий верующий в Него, не погиб, но имел жизнь вечную.

Bible, New International Version  

From John 3

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

References from BibleGateway.com .


Friday, March 15, 2013

Pope Francis and Prayers

We pray for our new Pope Francis, that he may receive strength, wisdom, courage and all gifts from the Lord he will need for good leadership.

It was wonderful to see the first pope from the Americas, from Latin America, and from the Southern Hemisphere. He is the first Jesuit and the first pope named Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi. He has lived a simple, humble life and is compassionate toward the poor. It is an inspiring start.

Catholics have had many surprises in the last few weeks, and it is very refreshing. Though people talked of having a pope from Latin America, it was easy to think it would never happen. I thank the College of Cardinals and especially the Lord for this change. It inspires us to hope for a better environment within the Church so we may go forth and evangelize more effectively.

We pray, Lord, that we may worship in a way that is pleasing to You. We pray You bring us ever more toward your Truth and Light and help us proclaim it to others.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fifth Anniversary

It’s my fifth year anniversary on my blog. It’s hard to believe in both ways: sometimes it feels like forever that I’ve been doing this, and sometimes like I started just a few months ago. I thank anyone for reading any of my posts. I’d also like to thank Google Blogger for supplying the server access.

When I first started, I didn’t want to put a counter on my blog. I didn’t want to know if no one was visiting, or if millions were. I figured I’d be too discouraged with the first possibility and too nervous about the second. Now Google Blogger has added an automatic counter and stats section that can be viewed by the authors. I can’t help but notice I’m a lot closer to the former situation than the latter. I know I haven’t been consistent in my posts, and that is unfortunately probably going to continue. What I’m thankful for is that blogging gives me an outlet to write when I do have the time.

Also, my husband has blogged on Google for several years about our local history, and has had many visits. His health has not been very good lately, so he hasn’t entered posts for a few months. We are hoping we can get medical help for his situation. In any case, I’m very thankful to the people who have responded to his “Muskegonmemories.”

I have once again found that I am too busy with my blog to work on my book, so I’m planning on a change of posting schedule. I had read on a book marketing blog that it is good for an author to have a blog and post regularly. I have been posting once a week lately, but I research and re-write the posts to the point where I’m not getting anything else done. I guess I will never be accused of being an over-achiever. I can only do so many things at a time, and my resume will never approach that of many professionals.

Anyway, I always try to attend Sacred Heart of Jesus devotions on First Fridays at a local Catholic Church. Since that is a memorable schedule for me, I thought I’d try to do at least a monthly post on that day. I know that won't encourage many followers, but anyone who wants to check back once a month is welcome. Also, my blog helps me to keep working on non-fiction as well as fiction.

The last few months I’ve really enjoyed adding to womanatwell and if you haven’t been here before, you may be interested in going down the column to my recent entries.  Or you can always go to my archives--there are five years of them! Maybe some day if my book is published (or not) I’ll return to writing more posts.

See you on First Fridays!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Benedict XVI

At the homily of Benedict XVI for the inauguration of his pontificate, the then Pope said among other things:
We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. (April 24, 2005).
When Benedict left his office on Thursday, February 28, 2013, he flew by helicopter from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo. He was followed by cameras and the scenery was beautiful, over the homes and ruins of Rome and in the nearby countryside. Once inside his temporary residence, he emerged through a doorway over a crowd of people to say a final goodbye:
Thank you, thank you from my heart. I am happy to be here with you surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your friendship that warms me. You know that today is different from others. As of eight pm I will no longer be the Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman Church. I am a pilgrim who is beginning the last part of his pilgrimage on earth. But with all my interior strength, with all my heart, with all my love I will work for the good of the Church and all humanity. (Vatican Radio)
These first and final statements are tied with the appreciation of Creation. To know we are made by God is to commence the relationship with appropriate awe and wonder. Then we learn more and more of the Lord who is not only genius but love. Though our lives on this plane last only so long, there is no end to the delight the Creator can supply.

Despite the severe troubles we may experience individually and collectively, the greatness of the Lord and his Creation come through. The problems drag us down, but the glory of the Lord lifts us up. We know He is able to overcome. We know He has the victory.

Benedict, Pope Emeritus now prays for the Church and the next pope. May all Catholics join with him in humble supplication for truly wise leadership.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Muscle and More

Though I have often come back to the topics of biology and Special Creation here, I don’t intend to have a teaching blog about cell biology or genetics. Websites dedicated to teaching various disciplines abound on the Internet, not to mention school courses that are available. I have wanted to be another voice speaking about the design of biology and how I believe God created us. But I would rather write generally about this topic than specifically for the most part, and also address other concerns.

The posts I have made about biology are mostly for adults, although I believe children could appreciate them. It is adults who determine what is taught to children, and I want parents to think about how biology and evolution are presented in the schools. But some of the other themes I have written about are disturbing. I guess we are used to encountering bad interspersed with the good in our lives, but my blog wouldn’t succeed that way as a consistent lesson in Creationism. So I want to give you some references for other websites which do teach it, so you can continue to learn specifically about this subject.

I just found a Catholic Creationist site for the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation. It looks like there is plenty there to read, including this summary of theistic evolution.

Though Answers in Genesis is a Young Earth Creationist website, it gives insight as to how the Earth shows evidence of Divine Creation. It can be a reference point for many of your questions, since it is well organized and addresses geology and cosmology as well as biology. You may be surprised how much information is available that opposes the mainstream science “party line.”

Another website where you can appreciate biology is Creation Wiki. The portal to biology would be a good place to start. A good subject to then look up would be Cell Biology. They have links you can follow to other subjects.  Creation Wiki doesn’t have as many entries as some other encyclopedias, so you may have to look further for more detail. But that should be true for any research you do. Different references can be complimentary and the more you search and read, the more you learn.

There is a website called creation.com which is an international ministry for the promotion of Creationism. They are involved in an interesting campaign called “Question Evolution.” I hope they will make inroads against the enforced teaching of totally materialistic, naturalistic evolution.

I also found a site with some interesting videos of biology, DNAtube . Unfortunately, as with many scientific biology sites, you have to step around evolutionist talk.

It’s kind of amazing how much biologists and other scientists protest Creationism. If Darwinian evolution is as much a fact as they say, it should be easily apparent. However, the opposite is more like it. Fabulous designs are everywhere, and it is an exercise in futility to try to explain cell biology as random globs of molecules.

Though others may want to suppress Creationists and have tried to do so in many ways, we still have the freedom to observe and describe biology as it really is. I wish you happy hunting and learning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

All the above said, I’d still like to show you another wonderful biological design. In a recent post I talked about the tiny bio-machines that produce energy for our body. The small molecule that carries this energy to other chemical reactions is called adenosine triphosphate (ah-DEN-oh-seen try-FAHS-fate). The commonly used nickname is ATP. The mechanism for muscle contraction is one of the many uses for ATP. Our muscles have muscle cells with muscle proteins inside. These have technical names, which you can learn if you are inclined. But you don’t have to know their labels to see the way they operate. An explanation of muscle is at the Wikipedia website here and the link to the picture is here.



Two types of proteins form strands that interact to pull and release so the muscle can move. One of these strands has a lever at the end which can flip when ATP combines with it. When the energy from ATP is released, the remaining part is called ADP (adenosine diphosphate). The “tri-” and “di-” before the phosphate indicate a section of the molecule was removed when energy was given off. ADP has to be eventually turned back into ATP by the mechanism given in the other post.

Here is a video of the process from DNAtube:



Amazing to think of all this going on whenever we move our muscles.

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Addendum: I have made some changes to my “Related Links” in the right column. I am sorry for any inconvenience, since a past reference to a link there may now be obsolete. I put the links on the right for convenience for some common biological terms and a few other miscellaneous sites.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A New Day

What a difference a week makes. Pope Benedict XVI resigned. He had said all along he doesn’t think someone who is unable to do the job should stay, and I am glad for that. In these days of advanced technology, people often live longer but don’t necessarily retain competence. I don’t know if traditionalists would agree, but I hope they appreciate this is better than having years of waiting for another leader.

Some may dread change, but others look forward to it with cautious hope. Though some Catholics seem willing to ignore the child sex abuse crisis in the Church, may I remind them that we need to protect the vulnerable as well as hold up the faith. It should be possible to do both. No matter how one may dislike media, they have reported much that was true. In fact, it has been victims, their lawyers and the media who have informed us of secret policies of the Church. These have included hiding the identity of predator priests and passing them on to unsuspecting parishes and communities.

How can people accept child sexual abuse and endangerment from leaders of our Church? Catholic leaders should collectively know about evil and how important it is to overcome. Many Catholics don’t even believe in hell anymore. Does this kind of behavior deserve heaven? Christ died for our sins, but one of the first calls of His ministry was to repent (cf. Matthew 4:17 NABRE). When we sincerely are sorry, we also must try to do better!

It is not hard to suppose that the Christian Church is a favored target for evil. How better to turn people away from the Lord than to drag Christians into sinfulness? If you have read some of my posts, you know I’m interested in science. These days many scientists, including social scientists, don’t believe in the spiritual categories of good and evil. According to them, we have just evolved, there is no God. But from what I’ve read, some of the same people still define bad behavior in general terms of “hurting others.” This isn’t terribly logical, since one can’t define bad behavior without using the concepts of good and evil. How does their definition make it evil? If there is no good or evil, then hurting people is a neutral activity. Actually, in Darwinian terms, hurting others probably increases one’s own chance for survival.

It is a real shame that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI both got caught up in duplicity concerning sex abuse. It is a shame because they both also seemed to understand the Truth of Jesus Christ and His salvation for those who believe, and the importance of evangelization. Though many Catholic theologians might tell us otherwise, this is critical for Christians to know. The tendency now is to believe that anyone can get to heaven, a theology called “Universalism,” which is a side-effect of wishful thinking on the part of certain “intellectuals.” Ralph Martin has written a book about this problem, Will Many be Saved?  Martin goes into the details about two theologians who promoted this worldview and how their influence affected the faith of many.  He says they ignored a vital part of the Vatican II document concerning those who have never heard of Christ (Lumen Gentium, entire Section 16). Missions are still as important as ever, but now even many Christians are missing the point.

It is very easy to despair of change when the leadership seems so uninterested in what the followers think. Yet if we read Cyprian Davis’ book, The History of Black Catholics in the United States , we can be inspired by African American persistence in the face of demeaning prejudice by US Catholic clergy. Actually, the hierarchy in Rome was on the side of helping the descendants of slaves who pleaded their case to them. There was still much resistance, but eventually things changed for the better. However, the Protestants had already made great progress and many African Americans had joined them by the time the Catholics here saw the light.

In a way, we can be glad the hidden sins of our leadership are being exposed because that is the first step in fixing the problem. But the leaders are still without satisfactory solutions and we need to get this straightened out. No more secrets! No more ignoring bishops who have hidden sexual predators or have known about it!

But if leaders follow through as they should, do you know what that will do? It will create even more shortages than we already have with only celibate male priests and bishops. After all these sex scandals, I don’t want to hear about the beauty of celibate male priesthood or how priests don't have time for families. Celibacy may be a wonderful way of life for some, but celibacy is not necessary in order to serve the church. One example from the fourth century is St. Hilary of Poitiers who was made bishop. Even though he was married with a child, he had the time to fight a great heresy, Arianism. Admittedly, he was exiled and did a lot of studying and writing then. Perhaps we can look at that as a sabbatical.  But he also continued the battle and wrote hymns when restored to his office.

I feel sometimes like the leadership of the Catholic Church would rather provide obstacles to the Lord for the faithful than give us a helping hand. We need a forthright, just Church for our spiritual health and in order to evangelize. I sincerely hope the leaders humbly ask the Lord to protect all Christians from evil and pray that He teach us and help us to do our part for the good.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Present Day

On January 21, 2013, files from the Los Angeles Catholic Diocese were released to the public proving that Cardinal Roger Mahony and another bishop protected priests who sexually abused children. More files have been and will be available to the public in the next few weeks. The current leader, Archbishop Jose Gomez, posted a letter by which he relieved Mahony of certain duties he was still performing though he is now considered retired.

A Vatican spokesperson declined to answer several media inquiries about the matter. As quoted by John Allen, a Catholic news reporter, the Vatican needs time to “better understand the situation .”

This revelation of records happened only because the Los Angeles Diocese was sued and made to reveal them. Mahony’s lawyers have been fighting for years to keep them hidden.

I would be happy to think there is an attempt by Archbishop Gomez to bring about accountability for Catholic bishops. But we have gone through this in Boston 11 years ago. The most egregious enabler of predator priests there, Bernard Law, was not even allowed to resign by Pope John Paul II until a group of Boston priests signed their names to a letter insisting on it. Then the pope assigned Law to a cushy job in Rome as the head of a church there.

Fr. Thomas Doyle, a priest who has been working on the crisis for many years, wrote a short history of the Church’s ongoing battle with the problem of sexual deviation by priests. It is worth reading. The problem has apparently been known for centuries. One of the most troubling aspects is the “Secret of the Holy Office” in section 21b. It threatens anyone who does not keep the abuse secret with excommunication. Though the Los Angeles bishops and priests in question were doing their fowl deeds in the 1980’s, the Church was to this day still trying to hide it. The crisis continues in other places as well.

The scandal in the Catholic Church concerning sexual abuse against children by priests was addressed by George Weigel in The Courage to be Catholic . The book came out immediately after the 2002 revelations of widespread abuse in the US. Though staunchly orthodox, Weigel was surprisingly open about the horror of the predator priest situation and the potential damage it would bring to the Church.

Weigel says in the book that the crisis is the lack of fidelity because of laxity after Vatican II and rebellion to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical against contraception, Humanae Vitae. Though he briefly acknowledged problems in the past, Weigel claims it is worse now because after Vatican II, priests were not taught that they are supposed to be changed when they are ordained. The theology of the Church is that priests become “in persona Christi,” Latin for the idea that when priests are ordained, they are permanently changed somehow either into the person of Christ or an extension of Him. This point has been made in Church teachings such as the 1935 Pius XI encyclical, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii (section 12), where the priest is said to be “another Christ,” and “a continuation of Christ.” And, of course, bishops are themselves ordained.

As I understand the thinking behind this, the priest becomes thus in order to properly present Christ’s body at the mass. And as an extension of Christ, who was a man, the priest must also be a man. This is also supposed to carry through the priest’s entire ministry. This encyclical mentions that he might lapse into “errors and disgraces” through human frailty.

But Christ is fully human yet he did not sin. There is a disconnect here already. Pius XI said that there are special divine graces to help the ordained priest “if only he will faithfully comply.” Unfortunately, that is a big “if.” It seems we have to depend upon the will of individual priests. Desire for goodness is not completely taught in school—it is an inner movement of the soul of the person. Mahony said that he wasn’t taught in his graduate courses that sexual abuse of children hurt them. Yet as a bishop he knew the police would be after the priests if he reported the abuse. Wouldn’t that give him a hint? How can the Vatican not understand this situation? If we can’t expect Christ-like behavior from all priests and bishops, do we need to re-think “in the person of Christ” theology?

According to Weigel, priests didn’t really know they were representing Christ because they weren’t taught right in seminary. Personally, I’ve never heard of a Catholic who doesn’t know that one of the main reasons women can’t be priests is because the men become “in persona Christi” at ordination. I can’t imagine priests don’t know about it, Vatican II or not. For Bishops, he says they don’t believe what they are taught. So priests aren’t taught and bishops don’t believe what they are taught? Though Weigel may have been correct about a number of things in the book, I think his solution does not adequately take into account the reality of the situation.

Like Weigel, Pope John Paul II said the problem is a lack of fidelity of the bishops. I assume the pope considered himself faithful. John Paul was about as conservative as Catholics get. And yet John Paul became a big part of this whole problem when he placed Bernard Law in a church at Rome and left him on various councils. This was extremely hurtful to many Catholics, especially since Law never seemed very sorry unless I missed something. No matter what John Paul said, his actions spoke louder. And his actions said bishops can do just about anything without having to pay.

Also, John Paul ignored for a long time the accusers of Marcial Maciel, the deceased priest who was the founder of the Legion of Christ. Maciel molested seminarians and had children with several women. Before Maciel was finally exiled by Benedict XVI in 2006, John Paul and George Weigel had both defended the priest. That’s because Maciel was one of the so-called “faithful.” In other words, he was a supposedly conservative Catholic who was expected to know that priests are changed at ordination "in persona Christi," the exact solution that Weigel claims will end this problem. Maciel went to seminary before Vatican II, as did many, many others who have sinned in this way.

I suspect that the reason many priests don’t believe they are “another Christ” is because of their own sins even after ordination. It puts a heavy load on them to be perfect. Though some seem to handle it by trying their best, there are those even at the top who surely haven’t acted in the person of Christ.

Catholics have done a lot of good in the world such as teaching, healing and helping the poor. But it is distressing when any of us behave badly. The ages have seen this before. Popes and bishops have done terrible things, including owning slaves and defending slavery, living in debauchery, having people killed and even heresy. It is no wonder those outside the religion have negative opinions of us, to put it mildly.

Christians who are baptized are supposed to change from their sinful nature. In the Bible, St. Paul said:
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians, 5:17, NABRE).
Unfortunately, Christians have proven that we are not perfect, including priests and bishops.

Even St. Paul, the very one who said we change in Christ, had trouble:
For what I am doing I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:15, NASB)
Sin and evil are very much present in our day. It is not wrong, and in fact is our only hope, to keep the faith. As I read more about the predator priest problem, I see some bishops and priests have tried to solve it. But other bishops have behaved in a horrible way, moving the abusing priests around and hiding their identities from parishes and communities. The work is far from done and we all need the real Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, to show us the way.

As I watch in disappointment at the behavior of many bishops and the Pope concerning the child sexual abuse problem, I pray that the Church be cleansed. I also pray for Christians to be straightened, sanctified and unified so we may be pleasing to our Lord.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Beneath the Surface

I am adding another post to my blog about the subject of biology. This is not to confuse you but to hope you appreciate the vastly complicated interactions that must take place in order for life to occur and proceed. Evolutionists talk about fossils and bones, but beneath the surface of individual bacteria, plants and animals is a vast interacting world which must function in order to get life going and continuing.  I have a few pictures below to give you an idea of these activities.

Did the organized biochemistry of life happen by totally materialistic, naturalistic means through chance? On one hand, the current theory, called “neo-Darwinism” claims that natural selection, known as “survival of fittest,” is not by chance, but comes about by competition of those who reproduce. But on the other hand according to the same neo-Darwinism, any superiority of individuals depends on random mutation of their genes. They can't get away from the fact that materialistic evolution is ultimately based on chance.

Neo-Darwinism is not better and is actually less logical than the belief that God made species directly. I wonder sometimes what evolutionists are thinking. In fact, I’ve got to believe there are many scientists out there who are not saying much publicly but must seriously doubt whether totally materialistic, naturalistic evolution can be true.

That is why I am taking the time to show you some of the facts. Though I’m not an expert in cell biology, I have a background in biology (I graduated from two universities with a BS in animal science and a VMD in veterinary medicine). I have spent a lot of time reading scientific research on genetics, biochemistry and cell biology.

My last post was about the complexity of the cell’s energy-making system. But, it was actually only a part of that system. Another part is needed to process food we eat in order to get pieces of it to feed into this system. In humans, the process is known by a few names, one being the citrate cycle .

Chemical interactions between molecules are the underpinning of biological function. The molecules are made of atoms, with which most of us are familiar. The air we breathe is made of various atoms, including oxygen. These combinations of atoms are often described with terms we don’t recognize unless we study them, but we can still understand some concepts without knowing all the names of the molecules. There are more and more databases of information about biology and other disciplines available. Scientists add to this data from their discoveries and use it for further research. A lot of the information is accessible by Internet, which is a wonderful service to scientists and anyone else who wants to learn.

One of these databases is called Kegg, for Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes. I had a picture of part of the energy system from Kegg in my last post. Here I will show an overview map (picture 1) of the biochemical activities of cells which they have put in their database. (You don’t have to go to the website since I have a picture here of what you would find, but if you want to go, you can click on the "overview map" link.  You can also click on the picture here to get a larger view.) The paths contain biochemical reactions for various species.  For example, it describes how the body processes things like fats and proteins that we eat. These chemicals must have precise coordination of molecules for fitting together and producing the desired outcome in each species.

The map does not nearly cover all the biochemcial reactions that exist. In fact, the current estimate for the number of species on Earth is over 11 million. The National Institutes of Health did a 2008 study on the single-cell organisms of bacteria and what are called archaea (are-KEY-ah). They found that “remarkable biochemical diversity is a hallmark of bacterial and archaeal biology.” So you can be sure there is much out there that is not yet on this map. These are the chemical data that the people who do the map know about and have inserted.

The citrate cycle is a small portion of biological metabolism. In the overall map, the cycle is named inside the small round blue line in about the middle near the bottom. If you go to the Kegg site and click on the “citrate cycle” name, it will bring you to a chart of the chemical reactions that happen in the cycle. I have a picture of the human citrate cycle here (picture 2). The green boxes are links to further information about the human biochemical reactions. They show facts about the proteins called enzymes (EN-zimes) that work to change molecules within the cycle so they produce the necessary segments for energy production.

Don’t be concerned if these terms sound foreign to you. I’d just like you to get an idea of what goes on in our bodies. One of the green boxes shows the number 4.2.1.3. This is a protein enzyme called aconitate hydratase (ah-CON-ih-tate HI-drah-tase). If you click the box at the Kegg website, you get information, with more links, about aconitate hydratase.  The rectangular box here is what you would see (pic. 3).

The box contains a picture of the protein. I want to show you a similar, larger picture from another database of the aconitate hydratase protein as they use it in models. The last picture here (picture 4) is from Swiss Model Repository, which is a database that shows the 3 dimensional models of proteins. The swirls and arrows show the types of folds that the amino acids make in order to form the protein so it does a specific job. This protein is made up of 780 amino acids which must be in a particular order (if you are interested in more details of the protein, you can get them at yet another database, Uniprot ). At the bottom of the third picture, there is a list of amino acids that make up the enzyme that we are talking about. (For information on amino acids, go here.)  For purposes of saving space, I did not add the bottom section of the box, which lists the specific order of the DNA of the protein's gene.

If you have gotten this far, I appreciate that you have been interested enough to read about the complexity of cell biology. It is important because of what I’ve been talking about concerning the question of neo-Darwinian evolution and whether it actually happened. Though you may hear some scientists or their spokespersons say evolution is a fact, the possibility and reality of it is something you have to decide for yourself.