Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Matter/Energy Connection

 Whenever issues of Divine Creation of the universe are raised, some participants in the discussion transition to a discussion of the age of the universe: Is the age of our universe only 6 to 10 thousand years? or did the universe originate in a spectacular creation event known as the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago? Our stance has been that scientists over the last century have accumulated powerful and virtually incontrovertible evidence for the latter position. This evidence includes proof that the universe has expanded from an infinitely small volume at its origin. We infer this truth according to what we observe about the behavior of light, including red-shift phenomena, the presence of certain types of elements in our present universe, and many other observed characteristics. This evidence is highly congruent with the observed sequence of physical events in the past and present.

The Creation Event describes the origin of time, space, matter, and energy. Before this powerful Creation Event there existed no space, time, matter, and energy. There was no universe as we know it. This is an important metaphysical and theological issue, far beyond the scope of our discussion. Perhaps it is also beyond the scope of our understanding. The time/space connection is an important linkage, as is the linkage of matter/energy. God is the Creator of time/space/matter/energy. Albert Einstein and many other theoretical physicists wrestled with these concepts.


We will not venture into explicit meanings of the famous formula E=mc2: energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. Einstein’s understandings of relativity are fully grasped by only a very few human souls. His proposals have transformed science. At the very least, laypeople subjectively grasp the interrelationships of matter (mass) and energy: God has provided humanity with nearly limitless energy inherent in matter itself. 


God’s creative processes were manifest from early milliseconds of the Big Bang event. Scientists describe a quark-gluon plasma experienced during that early era. Shortly after the initial creation event the cosmos experienced “nucleosynthesis:” nuclei of hydrogen and helium atoms formed consisting of protons and neutrons. After about 20 minutes, nucleosynthesis ceased. Hydrogen, helium, and a few other elements eventually formed about 380,000 years later when the universe had cooled sufficiently to hold electrons in place around the nuclei. Some young earth creationists object to this explanatory scenario. Our Creator, nonetheless, operates outside of, or even within human time frames. Ongoing creation events authored by our timeless God are equally as miraculous as sudden transcendent creation events. For reference:


https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2021/02/ongoing-creation.html


To reinforce our concept of “ongoing creation” we reference historians of cosmology who date the appearance of stars at 100-200 million years after the Big Bang event. Multiple galaxies of stars appeared later, during the first billion years of universe history. Therefore, the matter/energy relationship was established early in the timeline of our 13.8 billion year old universe. 


The statement “Matter and energy form the basis of all objective phenomena” has been used in many profound science discussions. Over the history of cosmic development there have been numerous examples of the matter/energy relationship. For example, a process called the proton-proton chain produces helium from the fusion of two hydrogen nuclei into a helium nucleus. Enormous energy is released. This brief, incomplete description of a physical process explains why our solar companion is a life-sustainer. Solar energy produces many subsequent energy transformations driving multiple processes which sustain life on our planet.


Einstein’s theories posited that matter and energy were different parts of the same thing. Most people are aware that the horrific 1945 atomic blasts which helped conclude World War II released enormous energy from reactions within a small amount of radioactive matter. That explosion destroyed surrounding objects and caused additional harm by releasing lethal ionizing radiation.  


Consider the enormous energy released by the Sun. Our solar companion is really a nuclear furnace. The Sun primarily releases great amounts of visible light and infrared radiation which converts to heat if absorbed. Humans release infrared radiation by virtue of moving electrons in every atom of your body. (Every object in our universe releases infrared constantly—the lower their temperature, the lower the amount of infrared released and vice versa.)


Energy is simply defined as the ability to do work. There are many types of energy. A discussion of the different energy types is a topic for future blog posts. We might say that “Energy makes the world go ‘round”—a take-off on the popular lyrical/musical expression “Love makes the world go ‘round.” 


The Creator of All Things could have produced a universe where energy sources were independent of matter. There would be no matter/energy connection. We may have difficulty imagining such a universe! In His infinite love and wisdom, God produced an ideal linkage for the ultimate good of all living things, especially beings created “In His Image.”




 


 


    




                


     


Thursday, July 1, 2021

Official UAP Statement (6/25/2021)

 After reporting on the UAP (formerly UFO) phenomenon at length in ten previous posts from 11/16/19 to 1/30/2020 and one pre-summary review post on 6/9/2021, we present a follow-up. After the release of the official government statement released 6/25/2021 from the “Office of the Director of National Intelligence” entitled “Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,” we remind our readers of our previous position that UAPs are likely manifestations of the IDH—the Interdimensional Hypothesis (other “realities” or dimensions that co-exist alongside our own). The complete 9-page government document is available on websites.

Discussions and pronouncements on modern UAPs have been ongoing for almost 75 years. Historically, however, many strange sightings of aerial phenomena have persisted for hundreds of years. No doubt visual descriptions have been clouded by time or misperceived. With up-to-date detection technology, our knowledge has been substantially enhanced. It is undeniable that sightings have proliferated the last few decades. More and more officials have recently pronounced the UAP phenomenon to be real, not the product of human imagination or misperception.


Armed with the knowledge that government officials are no longer bent on denial, analysts speculated with several statements uttered a few days prior to the official release of the “preliminary assessment.” In each case the analysts said the report would retain the description “UNIDENTIFIED.” Military personnel cannot explain the mystery of UAPs scientifically. They do not possess knowledge of who pilots them, what their purpose is, how they are propelled as they move in a random manner at incredible speeds, how they stop suddenly, and many other mysteries surrounding their behavior. The laws of physics by which Earth residents have operated do not apply to UAPs. Government personnel and the lay public have not achieved the answers they sought. This is incredibly frustrating for residents desiring straightforward cause and effect explanations. In short, there are no official answers to expectant questions about UAPs, notwithstanding the public ferment.


The “Preliminary Assessment…” nevertheless attempts to answer common questions. Government officials still cannot offer firm conclusions about the nature and intent of UAPs. They say UAPs “Probably DO represent physical objects.” This information is based on multiple sensors—radar, infrared, electro-optical, weapon seekers, and last but not least, visual observation. Officials describe their highly unusual behavior as caused by (1) airborne clutter (swarms of birds, balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles), (2) natural atmospheric phenomena (ice crystals, thermal fluctuations), (3) USG or US industry developmental programs, (4) foreign adversary systems, or (5) OTHER (the catchall phrase). The last category allows for factors about which we do not yet know. It is interesting that categories 1-4 have been addressed and eliminated as possible causes, but category 5 still remains a mystery. The US public anticipated answers under the category 5 umbrella.


The report deals with 144 events observed from 2004 to 2021. Officials continue to analyze these events. 80 events were observed with multiple sensors. 21 of the 144 events demonstrated advanced (or perhaps unfamiliar or unknown) technology. Some situations interrupted pre-planned training or military activity. Naval personnel claimed there were eleven “near misses.” Flight safety and national security were jeopardized, according to the military observers.


We quote two authoritative sources on whom we have depended. Both authors are respected for their conservative, scriptural viewpoints. One source is Dr. Hugh Ross, president of Reasons to Believe. In 2002 Ross, Kenneth Samples, and Mark Clark  authored Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and Extraterrestrials, published by NavPress. The somewhat humorous title belies the serious, scholarly, and theological nature of the volume’s contents. The second authoritative source is a book by Dr. John Ankerberg and Mark Weldon, The Facts on UFOs, 2011, published by ATRI. 


Dr. Ankerberg states in The Facts on UFOs, “After 20 years the extent and depth of our research now constitutes for us a conclusion that has become a virtual certainty: that UFOs constitute a spiritistic (demonic) phenomenon. We believe that such a conclusion may affect us all.” Again, In a Google Wikipedia article entitled “Interdimensional Hypothesis,” Dr. Ankerberg and John Weldon, “…advocate IDH because it fits the explanation of UFOs as a spiritistic phenomenon.”


Dr. Ross writes at length on dimensions beyond the familiar ones in which we have existed. The UAPs (UFOs) described in the above-mentioned “Preliminary Assessment” are not subject exclusively to our dimensions of space and time. Many residents were looking forward to the UAP report to explain the phenomena according to their traditional experience with dimensionality and physical laws. But Ross also declares in his volume, “The authors of this book are fully convinced that both science and scripture point to the supradimensional beings known as demons as the malevolent sources of the (UAP) phenomena.”


From the Bible we learn of two distinctive spiritual types of created beings—humans, and angels. A majority of the latter have remained obedient to God. But a sizable minority rebelled against God. These still exist as evil spirits, or demons. We offer the reality of UAPs as a sort of “proof.” Theologically, this mystery may be revealed by the Creator at the End of Time. Familiar dimensionality of time, space, and matter governs activities of the human population while some spirit beings have access to and are capable of operating within unfamiliar dimensions beyond ours. 


Given the stark contrast between good angels (ministering spirits) and fallen (evil or malevolent) angels, some residual—unexplained—aerial phenomena may be categorized as supradimensional AND evil. These spiritual beings do NOT call attention to the goodness and love of the righteous Creator described in Holy Scripture. Instead, they often work against the righteous Creator.


One reason why government experts and laypeople alike have not suggested the possibility of UAPs as demon manifestations may owe to avoidance by the secular world to connect science with ANY spiritual or theological explanations. For the goal of acquiring truth concerning UAPs, this avoidance does not serve us well. Hugh Ross closes Chapter 11 of the above volume with a powerful statement: “One reason why research scientists and others may be reluctant to say specifically that demons exist with respect to residual UFOs is because such an answer points too directly to a Christian interpretation of the problem. However, the only defense to be found against the evil, deception, and supernatural powers manifested in residual UFOs is in Christianity and the Bible.”  



 


  


    


        



  








  

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Recognition and Communication of Creation Gifts

 How does humanity recognize and communicate its fascination with creation—the universe and everything in it? There are abundant means to perceive, recapture, and communicate its wonders. Many Scripture references to the wonders of creation cite vision. We are encouraged to visually observe the beauty of creation. The Bible also refers metaphorically to other sensory experiences: the voice of the Lord (Ps. 29:3), taste (Ps. 34:8), and touch (Matt. 14:36). We recapture and celebrate creation’s wonders with many forms of visual depiction—for example, photography, sketching, painting, and sculpting utilizing various media. Calling attention to multiple features of our creation environment brings focus to the reality of the Creator of All Things.  

A unique product of a US government bureau, the US Mint, visually calls attention to many wonders of creation on our “coin of the realm.” Below we will review the subject matter of 112 different designs on US quarters produced sequentially by the US Mint from 1999 to 2021. Every calendar year featured five new designs. It was an inexpensive bonanza for coin collectors! The designs fascinate admirers of plant life and animal life, as well as students of geography, geology, history, and science in general. But first, a little historical background…


Early in the US Civil War in 1861, a movement to recognize God on our national coinage was motivated by wartime religious sentiment. Finally, a motto was approved and placed initially on the two-cent coin in 1864: “In God We Trust” appeared sporadically on US coinage from 1864 to 1938. Since then it has appeared on all denominations of coins. Congress approved the phrase as our national motto in 1956. Beginning 1966 this motto has also appeared on all specimens of US paper money.


Between 1999 and 2009 fifty states and six territories were recognized on coin designs submitted by committees from each state. The coins were known as “statehood” and “territory” quarters. Following that series, from 2010 to 2021 each of the fifty states and six territories were able to recognize a “site of natural or historic significance.” Coins in this series were called “America the Beautiful” quarters. All told 112 different designs were produced during the two coin programs. In total, almost 35 billion statehood quarters have been issued. America the Beautiful quarters have been minted to the tune of 18.5 billion.


Each of the billions of coins of all denominations minted from 1938 to the present has the inscription “In God We Trust.” Although the United States is not a theocracy, the national motto bespeaks respect our founding fathers possessed for God the Creator. If our coin of the realm and paper currency all bear this motto, we may take heart in this age of declining spiritual values, praying that we would return to a more traditional appreciation of faith in the reality of a divine Creator.


Almost 50 plants, including trees, grains, and flowers appear on the two series of quarters. Twenty bird species are highlighted, almost all of them different. About fifteen animals appear, including bear, elk, deer, mountain goats, dall sheep, bison, cattle, bats, tree frogs, and fish. In the world of the non-living, startling geological features appear several dozen times. In the area of geography, we counted fifteen state outlines in the statehood series. For those interested in national history, transportation, music, aviation, or infrastructure there are a number of depictions. Curiously, one may notice the almost total absence of insects, save for one regal fritillary butterfly on the “Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve” Kansas quarter of 2020.


The series communicates multiple reasons to exult in the beauty of creation. It provides support for a positive perception of our dynamic planet and in particular, the blessings God has bestowed upon the United States of America. The New Living Translation of I Timothy 6:17 reminds us our trust should be in God, “….who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.”


Talented United States Mint metallurgists, engravers and technologists have helped us to celebrate creation and to enjoy the natural world which surrounds us. Whether deliberately or not, our secular officials have called attention to the beauty of divine creation originating in the mind of God. 



             






          



  





        




 











 


 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Tell-All?

 Current prominent publicity is circulating concerning the upcoming unclassified government release of information on UAPs during the month of June 2021. The subject has at times dominated public conversation for decades. The event is an official government release of information on what were dubbed “flying saucers” in 1947. There is scarcely a person alive who has not heard about UFOs (unidentified flying objects). Today they are more commonly known as UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomena). 

Most people have offered their opinions concerning the reality or unreality of UAPs—What are they? How do they work? Who pilots them, humans or extraterrestrials? Did they originate on this world or on other worlds? Are they a threat to humanity? Most important, are they real, or are they figments of human imagination and faulty perception? Currently, many other questions have been raised. Answers to these questions variously provide certainty, uncertainty, amusement, indifference, fear, doubt, frivolity, and a variety of other reactions. For several years the story has increasingly become the subject of media commentary. Previously our national government attempted to suppress its importance.


A government task force in December 2020 was authorized to present findings to Congress, then to the public within six months to answer what the US government knows about UAPs. Our government authorities have hedged, avoided, and diverted public attention for years on UAP phenomena. Now they are scheduled to present documented evidence collected by military personnel. Senator Marco Rubio, vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee (SIC) has instructed the task force to reveal government knowledge of the unidentified objects increasingly observed the last few years.


Senator Rubio’s comments duplicate many other statements from military personnel and politicians. He states “We cannot allow the stigma of UFOs to keep us from seriously investigating this.” The term “stigma” is fascinating in this context. It implies our government suffers disgrace and embarrassment related to our lack of knowledge. The core meaning of science relates to knowledge. Our military scientists, however, do not currently possess knowledge of answers to questions posed above. 


One undergirding pillar of modern science is our ability to observe carefully. Our ability to observe has been substantially enhanced in recent decades, but our ability to explain UAPs has not been enhanced. Modern technology has established that UAPs have physical capabilities far beyond anything currently known. They manifest no obvious propulsion or braking system, but are capable of incredible acceleration including sudden starts, stops, and changes in direction able to produce G-forces fatal to humans. They are generally soundless and often travel at incredible hypersonic speeds. Their flight characteristics cannot be explained by our current knowledge of physics. The modern mantra “follow the science” becomes meaningless with respect to the observed behavior of UAPs. The discipline of science has not provided true knowledge concerning UAPs. It is no wonder that scientists suffer the stigma of ignorance. In this existential sphere, scientists do not have explanations we have come to expect. Most scientists negate the possibility of alien extraterrestrial beings. Secret U.S. military technology is virtually ruled out along with foreign military technology, but some still speculate on these possibilities. Science journalists and politicians privy to some of the task force information recently warned us “unidentified” aerial phenomena may remain unidentified, even after the task force mandate for public disclosure has been fulfilled. 


Most professional scientists maintain science does not investigate theological realities. This includes a study of God, the Creator of All Things, as a provable scientific reality. By extension, we may conclude the spirit world of demons is also not a provable scientific reality. Many volumes have been produced concerning the mystery of theodicy—the reality of evil. Much as we abhor this reality, we are forced to acknowledge the reality of evil. The coexistence of evil and righteousness in the world of God’s Creation is a mystery we may not understand until the Creator Himself reveals it. Christians have free will—freedom—either to choose and obey righteousness, or to choose and obey evil.


In the mundane context of UAPs, however, the categorization of UAPs as a manifestation of demonology may be accurate. We encourage readers to investigate the meaning and mystery of theodicy. Evil manifests itself in many spheres: physical, moral, and metaphysical.


Plentiful scientific commentary concerning the current phenomena does not mention the possibility that UAPs are manifestations of the world of the spirit—specifically, the world of the evil spirit. Science professionals apparently do not permit mention of demons as scientific reality in the same way they do not professionally countenance the scientific reality of God, the Creator. Apparent evidence of God, however, is permitted by believers in scripture but the evidence does not rise to the standard of secular scientific “proof.” (See Romans 1:18-20.) But neither would evidence of demonology driving the UAP phenomena rise to the level of scientific proof. Perhaps this explains why this possibility is not posed to the public.


Science professionals prefer to explain UAPs according to conventional scientific laws and experience with conventional causes and effects. If however, these objects are a product of the spirit world, scientists may experience frustration. UAPs have been pronounced “real,” but scientists, military personnel, and the public have not yet accessed the sort of reality they desperately seek.  


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In our series of ten posts from 11/16/19 to 1/30/20 we covered many aspects of the UAP phenomenon in some depth. Multiple authors have covered the topic in great depth from many different vantage points. We invite you to access our posts by clicking the initial link and continue clicking NEWER POSTS to read all ten posts:  


https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2019/11/of-this-world.html


                      

Thursday, May 27, 2021

God's Sustainment of Matter and Life

 When the universe was created, the Bible tells us that God created the heavens and the earth. Much information inheres in that statement. At first, the God-created universe was composed of physical, non-living matter for a period of time. Later, when physical conditions permitted, God created living things from the dust of the ground. This exemplifies dualism, a feature of many situations of life on this planet. In this case we contrast non-living and living.

Human experience is composed of many examples of dualism: night and day, winter and summer, good and evil, mind and body, science and non-science, non-living and living. Sometimes the dualistic elements are opposite, sometimes they are contrasting, and sometimes they are complementary. Many other adjectives could describe our multiple dualistic life experiences.


Let’s consider the dualism of the non-living creation and the living creation. The physical non-living creation is a marvel, even without life. Were we to observe the physical creation prior to the divine creation of life, we would express wonder at its beauty and orderliness. Even on billions of lifeless planets in our Milky Way Galaxy, and trillions more in galaxies outside our home galaxy, physical matter is governed by an orderly set of characteristics called physical constants. Several dozen physical constants have been described. Physical reality would be chaotic if these physical constants did not operate. The matter in our universe would consist of a sea of particle-less, disordered matter. In short, the universe would consist of physical chaos.

 

What are physical constants? Scientists describe several dozen fundamental, invariant quantities by which our universe operates. Science texts describe physical constants as fundamental, invariant quantities in nature. This esoteric definition may become clearer by giving a few examples with which most people identify: The speed of light is 186,282 mi/sec and never varies. The mass of protons, neutrons, and electrons and the strength of their electrical charges is known precisely. These quantities never vary. The gravitational constant derives from the product of the masses of two bodies and the inverse square of the distance between them. In non-technical terms laymen commonly refer to a “law of gravity” which results from the gravitational constant, a well-known physical constant. Many other more esoteric examples may be cited.


Many years ago an uncle inquired of me, “Who formulated the Laws of Nature?” He was not a scientist, but as a student of nature, he was acutely aware of a Creator who authored multiple coherent and consistent laws. If he were still living he may endorse a layman’s description of physical constants. In previous posts we illustrated these constants with athletic references to “Rules of the Game.”


http://jasscience.blogspot.com/2009/05/rules-of-game.html

http://jasscience.blogspot.com/2009/05/physical-constants.html


Astrophysicist and science writer Ethan Siegal states, in Forbes Magazine, “When we think about our Universe at a fundamental level, we think about all the particles in it and all the forces and interactions that occur between them. If you can describe those forces, interactions, and particle properties you have everything you need to reproduce our Universe, or at least a universe virtually indistinguishable from our own in its entirety.” In the same article Siegal describes several puzzles that may require additional constants. This signals that our scientific knowledge is incomplete—an exciting prospect for ongoing research in science.


Many wonderful scientific discoveries are yet in store for humanity. We propose each discovery strengthens our belief in the reality of the omniscient Creator of All Things. Our lament is that many scientists feel empowered by their scientific knowledge rather than the omnipotence of the Creator Himself. 


We introduced our current post by discussing physical constants in the non-living world. Physical constants, of course, also operate in the living world even more powerfully. Living things exist in the physical world which is governed by the many physical constants and scientific laws derived from them. Hundreds of fine-tuning parameters describing our universe have physical constants as their foundation. The popular Anthropic Principle finds support in our modern understanding of coherent physical constants and fine-tuning of our cosmos.


Living things have an enlarged design feature—a code of information which produces complex life. The sequence is DNA>RNA>and finally proteins to build the living organism. Physical constants still govern construction of the matter of living things. In many past posts we have described the DNA molecule as a code—the unequivocal product of an intelligent mind. In this case, the DNA code originated in the mind of the Creator.


John 1:3: Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (NIV)   




 


    









  

Friday, May 14, 2021

Eagle Symbolism

 Eagles are highly popular and inspirational. Historically, these animals have been highlighted in art and sculpture by cultures and nations for centuries. Characteristics of eagles are well known—powerful, intelligent, and superior. In 1782 one famous eagle species, the bald eagle, was selected as the national symbol of the United States. In the same year the bird appeared on the Great Seal of the United States and has been portrayed frequently on US coins and currency.  

The Bible contains at least 28 references to eagles. One of the most famous is found in Isaiah 40:31: “…..but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Several chapters later, the prophet Isaiah quotes God who says through the writings of the prophet, “…..I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:10 NIV). Eagles call to mind divine characteristics, but the Creator is superior to the apexes of His creation works, including majestic eagles!


Many eagle species inhabited Bible lands. It is uncertain which species of eagle was referenced in Scripture. It is more certain that all eagle species share similar traits setting them apart from other avian species. There are 60 species of eagles in the world, most of them inhabiting Eurasia and Africa. Outside those areas, there are only 14 eagle species in other regions of the world. Of the 60 eagle species there are several well-known groups including the sea eagles, also called fish eagles. Bald eagles belong to this group because their diet consists of 70-90% fish, although they are opportunistic and consume other foods as well. These eagles live near rivers, lakes and tidewaters where their main food, fish, is accessible. Since bald eagles are indigenous only to North America, residents of the U. S. no doubt think of the this species first when they think of eagles. The only other eagle species commonly found in the U. S. is the golden eagle which consumes mainly small mammals. It is distributed more widely around the world but bald eagles are solely a North American bird.


Bald eagles manifest a diverse and fascinating suite of characteristics. They are most admired for their intelligence, strength and manifold skills in hunting, flying, and nest building to mention only a few. Each living creature is endowed with a set of abilities setting them apart from other creatures. It is incumbent upon humanity to respect the ecological roles assigned to each species. Most U. S. residents are aware that the bald eagle population diminished substantially during the 20th century. Bald eagles were ravaged by several factors including habitat loss, indirect poisoning by lead shot left in the environment by hunters, and indirect poisoning by the insecticide DDT remaining in the environment, later working into the diet of eagles via consumption of fish. Eagles ingested DDT chemical residues in their food, causing thinning and breakage of their eggshells during incubation. Strict regulation of the insecticide has solved the problem since 1972. Rebecca Heisman, writing in an American Bird Conservancy Publication states, “In the United States, there may be no greater avian icon — or impressive wildlife story — than the Bald Eagle.” In 1963 there were only 417 nesting pairs. Today the number has increased to 70,000, a scientific success story!


Several personal experiences with eagles come to mind. I did not observe a bald eagle until approximately 1995. These animals were still on the endangered list, not to be officially removed from the list until 2007. My wife and I moved to Dubuque, IA in 2000. Friends notified us of a startling phenomenon in progress at Lock and Dam #11 on the Mississippi River, only about two miles from our residence. Dozens of bald eagles were catching and feeding on fish in the ice free water at the base of the dam in late December. The weather was brutally cold but we managed to produce video pictures of the skilled birds fishing and flying to trees on the shoreline with prey in their claws. In Alaska in 2007 we observed many eagles in trees on a shoreline. Their dark bodies topped with white heads presented a startling spectacle. In Alaska bald eagles were never endangered. Bald eagles develop mature adult white heads after several years. Due to our proximity to the Mississippi River, the birds fly over our extreme northwestern Illinois neighborhood skies with reasonable frequency.


A restaurant on the Iowa River in Iowa City, IA enables views of bald eagles cruising over and fishing on the river. This occurs in mid-city. One more example of bald eagles’ people-friendliness has occurred at the home of our son just a few miles from Iowa City. A mere two blocks from their home a bald eagle pair resides with their large nest constructed of sticks in a tall pine tree. My grandchildren are excited by these avian residents who decided to share a human neighborhood location for raising their family. Several times we have observed these birds incubating eggs on their nest through scopes and field glasses. All neighborhood residents seem intent on leaving the eagle family undisturbed. The natural phenomenon is exciting and instructive for the residents.


“Spaceship Earth” teems with life. Each species of life is functionally adapted to its environment. Bioscientists have reported accurate, detailed physical descriptions of each animal, their body systems, and their unique abilities. The more we study, the more we discover the beauty of all life forms along with fascination for their capabilities. We exult in the creative skill of the God of Creation.  


    


   


  

    


 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Mankind's Planet Earth Perspective

 Psalm 8 goes beyond devotional significance into the realm of ancient science: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?…..O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the Earth” (vs 3,4,9 NIV). The Scripture quotations above contain references to (1) observation, (when I consider), a necessary scientific skill, (2) intelligent design, (the work of God’s fingers) (3) divine orderliness, (“set(ting) in place” of the moon and stars), and finally, (4) devotional worship (how majestic is your name,) an outgrowth of David’s recognition of God’s mindfulness of mankind and His care for them.   

This psalm is well known in terms of profound theological and scientific significance. It was penned by King David long before the formalization of scientific method. The passage highlights observational skills and suggests an intelligent cause and effect relationship between the existence of heavenly bodies and the Creator’s role in forming them. The physical knowledge we possess of sequential events forming planets, the moon, and the stars, including our life-giving solar companion, focus our understanding on complex cosmic processes which seem unlikely to develop or exist purely by chance or accident.


The concept of intelligent design mentioned in the above two paragraphs may be a sticking point among secular scientists. Here is a link to our previous post (10/1/10) suggesting why human intuition paired with induction are valid indicators of intelligent design:


https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2010/06/intuition-and-induction.html


The deepest devotional thoughts of King David are apparent in Psalm 8. It was written about ten centuries before Christ, long before the concept of a spherical Earth was established in human awareness. Actual human photographic and visual evidence of Planet Earth’s circular profile did not occur until about 90 years ago, a startling truth in view of many other telescopic visualizations of astronomical bodies hundreds of years before. Even in the 1930s there was only an incomplete profile of the terrestrial sphere. Humans were intellectually aware of Earth’s curvature long before they were able to see it either visually or photographically. This speaks to the startling fact that the oldest residents alive in our day were unable to perceive the complete Earth sphere.


Commanders of balloon flights in 1931, 1933, and 1935 ascended to about 10, 12, and 14 miles above Earth’s surface. There is debate whether the subtle curvature of our planet was discernIble. Some have proposed the curvature of Earth may not be visible even at 120,000 ft.—almost 23 mi. In 1946 a photograph was taken at 65 mi. by a captured WWII V2 rocket. The curvature was clearly observable but we were not close to visualizing the entire planet at once.


The first complete Earth globe photograph was taken by the Russian satellite Molniya on May 30, 1966. Many other photographs taken by the USA were composites of multiple different surface pictures. The Russian communication satellite’s ability to produce such a picture was due to its very distant highly elliptical orbit.


The Apollo 8 Moon exploration program enabled scientists to produce our country’s first inspiring complete Earth photograph on December 24, 1968. It was entitled “Earthrise,” although the Earth never rises above a stationary angle of elevation. This is because the Moon is “tidally locked” to the Earth—one side of the Moon always faces Earth. However, the Earth appears to rise and set if observed by astronauts in orbit around the Moon!


Returning to King David’s exuberant Psalm 8 worship experience, we describe a mysterious phenomenon reported by modern astronauts—the “overview effect.” We quote a Wikipedia article which utilizes many sources: “The overview effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space. It is the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, ‘hanging in the void,’ shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere…..” We link our previous post on the “Overview Effect:”


https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2014/12/overview-effect.html?m=0


We cite two other popular instances of the human view of Planet Earth from outer space. The “Blue Marble” is a photograph of Earth as seen by the crew of Apollo 17 in December 1972. It has become one of the most famous photographs of all time. The Earth was nearly fully illuminated with the sun shining from behind the astronauts.


The “Pale Blue Dot” is a photograph of Earth taken about 4 billion miles from the sun, farther than the orbit of Neptune. It is a barely perceptible tiny dot in the photograph. It was produced by the Voyager I spacecraft in 1990 just before technicians switched off its cameras while the craft was in the process of exiting our Solar System. The picture was suggested by Carl Sagan who argued for one last “family” portrait of the Solar System. In Carl Sagan’s 1994 book “Pale Blue Dot” he wrote, “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.” He went further, describing Earth as “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” It may be the ultimate “overview effect” photograph. 


We offer a partial timeline of astronomy discoveries:  (1) spherical planets (other than Earth) and stars—observed ever since humans inhabited Earth  (2) intellectual (non-visual) understanding of Earth as a sphere—500 BC  (3) photographic and eyesight visualization of only a fraction of Earth’s curvature—1931-1966  (4) First visual and photographic proof of the complete Earth sphere—1966  (5) High quality complete visualization of the Earth globe—1968 to present  (6) Extremely distant Pale Blue Dot Earth photographs—1990.


King David’s deepest spiritual emotions were expressed in Psalm 8. The Israelite King had experienced only discovery (1) in the timeline catalog offered above. How much more spiritual awe and wonder should we experience in the 21st century? Could we describe the experience as a spiritually heightened overview effect?   






 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Our Home on Spaceship Earth

 In our contemporary time frame we possess abundant knowledge of our home on “Spaceship Earth.” The term derives from a photograph taken by the astronaut crew of Apollo 8 orbiting Earth’s Moon on December 24, 1968. Of many photographs, this rendition has been dubbed “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.” 

Spaceship Earth is a sphere. The concept of human habitation on a sphere rather than a flat surface has been known to man for only about 2500 years. It is unlikely any authors of Old Testament scripture were aware of these Classical Greek discoveries beginning about 500 years BC. Many skeptics have claimed that authors of Old Testament Scripture proposed the Earth was flat. 


Almost all Old Testament books were composed before the advent of the Classical Greeks. Greek scholars in the 500 years prior to Christ’s advent brilliantly proposed and defended many spherical Earth beliefs. Included were Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, Aristotle, Aristarchus, and Eratosthenes.


All of the Greek scholars were unable to visually observe the Earth as a sphere, but their intellectual achievements were noteworthy. They observed various phenomena such as the shape of Earth’s shadow on an eclipsed moon, apparent differences in height of visible stars above the horizon as we travel north or south, and the differing angle of incidence of the sun’s rays on the same date in cities widely separated. The myth that the informed public believed in a flat Earth rather than a spherical one has not been true since the start of the Classical Greek period. With few exceptions, even Dark and Middle Ages residents did not hold flat Earth beliefs.


Skeptics of Scripture point to Old Testament books which seem to indicate inaccurate scientific beliefs. One example is found in texts such as Psalm 104:5 “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” Many similar passages have been offered to show that the Bible contains errant science. Almost all of the Old Testament was written before the Classical Greeks offered their scientific and intellectual insights. Keep in mind that OT writers stressed their God-centered perspectives and devotional focus. Even though Greek intellectuals of a later era produced startling scientific insights concerning physical reality, the writers of Scripture should not be diminished for lacking modern scientific insights. Their writings were observational, practical, and often metaphorical. We may appreciate their conceptual model for what it was, not according to our current model of advanced scientific knowledge.


Citing supposed inaccuracies or absence of modern scientific knowledge in order to promote belief in the errancy of Scripture is a serious mistake. Beyond the discovery of planetary sphericity, we pose another serious conceptual deficiency of the Greeks which persisted for almost 2000 years—the belief in geocentrism rather than heliocentrism. This is defined as the belief that the sun revolves around planet Earth rather than Earth revolving around the sun. This belief resulted from an observational error—a false trust in what appears to be rather than what actually is. The confusion results from the difficult task of distinguishing the real from the apparent. This error makes the study of observational astronomy challenging, yet interesting for astronomy students of our current day.


The history of establishment of the spherical Earth concept together with the knowledge of Solar System heliocentrism presents an interesting study at many levels of detail. How do these topics impact our contemporary culture? Proponents of scientific naturalism are not impressed by evidence of intelligently designed features in our natural world. If we link evidence of a spherical Earth with evidence of heliocentrism, some naturalists and some theists may respond with indifference. But these two characteristics are just the introduction in the catalogue of multiple intelligently designed features of our Solar System.


The Discovery Institute based in Seattle is a famous scientific think tank. They have dozens of scholars who promote the concept of intelligent design in the natural world. In their Center for Science and Culture they publish a well-known list of fine-tuning parameters. Jay Richards has described the “most celebrated and widely accepted examples of fine tuning for the existence of life.” He enlarges by explaining “such features include the initial conditions and ‘brute facts’ of the universe as a whole, the laws of nature or the numerical constants present in those laws (such as planets’ distance from its host star). The basic idea is that these features must fall within a very narrow range of possible values for chemical-based life to be possible.” Hugh Ross, president of Reasons to Believe, has long published an extensive and nearly identical list of fine-tuning parameters in his publications. Readers are encouraged to explore a vast wealth of knowledge pointing to multiple examples of fine-tuning—the actions of a Divine Creator.


Spaceship Earth is a spherical planet in a system of planets orbiting our magnificent companion in the Solar System. That companion is the SUN, around which all planets, including Earth revolve.


Psalm 33:6; ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.” (ESV)

 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Weather and Climate on a Spherical Earth

 Modern residents focus on current weather and contemporary climate trends. Most weather and climate reporters understandably highlight recent events and predict events in the near future. They devote less attention to ancient weather and climate phenomena, preferring to comment “in the moment.” How did weather and climate “in the moment” evolve to its lofty importance? The simple response: Weather and climate relate to the behavior of water in its various states, the atmosphere, and the flow of heat energy to power Earth’s dynamic physical weather/climate system.


Who originated our physical weather/climate system? We propose it was the Judeo-Christian God of Creation. The initial creation event of Genesis 1:1—the ex nihilo creation of the universe “from nothing”—triggered a multitude of wondrous existential events.


In our present day we have access to scientific evidence of past and present (ongoing) creation events. Since the initial creation event, dating to 13.8 billion years ago, the universe has experienced many captivating physical transitions. Millions of years after transitional events take place, scientists are able to infer what happened in the distant past. We refer to the formation of spherical planets long after the initial creation event. There are many hypotheses for how planets formed. For example, a NASA publication has published photographic evidence that “golf ball-size clumps of space dust formed the building blocks of our terrestrial planets.” This phenomenon is inferred by examining some meteorites which manifest a process called “pebble accretion.” Scientists acknowledge they are not sure of the exact nature of the process of planet formation.  


(Our Science/Faith posts of February 2021 discussed divine creation events which occurred long after the initial Big Bang creation event. Our 2/5/21 post referred to ‘leftovers’ of the initial creation event. Our 2/19/21 post reinforced the concept that creation events still occur.)


God’s creative activity was powerfully manifest when He created spherical planets to revolve around a central star. Our timeless God could have created a fully functional universe in a single instant. Moreover, he could have designed a system where the entire human population resides on a flat surface. Instead, He produced a physical Solar System consisting of the Sun and the gas and ice giant planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. A short time later, much smaller spherical inner planets—Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars became part of the Solar System. They are rocky planets with metallic cores. Earth is unique in its habitability. Insofar as we know, there is no other location in the universe suitable for human habitation.


A spherical, axis-tilted, rotating planet revolving around a stationary central star results in unequal heating of the surface of Planet Earth for several reasons. The low latitude equatorial regions of our spherical Earth receive more heat than mid-latitude regions and much more heat than high latitude polar regions. This is a result of the varying angle at which the sun’s rays strike. Our rotating Earth causes the angle of the sun’s rays to change constantly. In addition, the Earth’s axis tilt causes changes in the sun’s angle from season to season. Latitude, time of day, seasonal variation, and axis tilt all relate to the flow of heat energy on our spherical planet. Solar energy drives Earth’s weather and climate.


The interlocking relationships of water, atmosphere, and heat energy on our spherical planet produce a weather/climate system which sustains human life. Details of the fine-tuned system are the province of expert scientists who study the life-sustaining interaction of these three factors. Our universe is fine-tuned for the existence of human life. Our timeless Creator is the author of this fine-tuning. 


“For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the Earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited): ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other.’” (Isaiah 45:18 ESV)