Sunday, December 31, 2023

Solstices and Equinoxes

 At the Christmas and New Year holiday season Earth residents celebrate significant astronomical milestones.

Annual calendars reference seasons and lesser known events such as solstices and equinoxes. We become aware of environmental phenomena such as seasonal changes resulting in changing temperatures. Each year about December 22, Northern Hemisphere residents experience the winter solstice. Events such as solstices and equinoxes, important topics in the study of astronomy, occur twice per year.  

The winter solstice locates the season of the longest daily period of darkness and the shortest daily period of daylight during the calendar year. At about 40º N latitude, longest darkness translates to approximately fifteen hours of darkness and nine hours of daylight. The solstice also roughly locates the dates on which earliest sunset times pair with latest sunrise times.

We are aware of long and short daylight as well as early sunsets and late sunrises depending on our latitude. On a summer visit to Anchorage, Alaska, we visited stores open for business at 10:30 PM. Farther north we could have experienced “the land of the midnight sun.” Variations in day/night lengths and sunrise/sunset times depend on latitude and the time of year. In the northern hemisphere we experience the winter solstice in December. Our southern hemisphere friends experience their summer solstice in December, because their seasons are reversed.          

Some may not be familiar with the effect of changing angles of sunlight striking the earth’s surface from season to season. Summer’s direct rays provide more heat than winter’s indirect rays. In winter, the same amount of heat energy is spread over a larger area. Diluted heat energy results in lower temperatures. All of these effects contribute to seasonal temperature variation. These temperature phenomena provide topics of conversation for friends and neighbors.

Meteorology and astronomy are innately related. Those sciences provide plentiful opportunities for studying and understanding cause and effect relationships. Astronomy is considered an earth science because what occurs in space affects events on earth. There are fascinating interconnections between the different sciences. For example, the solstices mentioned above are astronomical phenomena, but they significantly relate to weather and climate.  

Teachers of astronomy use a number of devices to clarify astronomical concepts. One device was a celestial sphere consisting of a transparent plastic globe. Inside was a small earth globe students could manually rotate. On the plastic sphere prominent stars and constellations of the sky were imprinted. Students were able to visualize that they were located on the small earth globe inside the large sphere. In real life, earth residents gaze at the night sky and imagine individual stars and groupings of stars called constellations located on an imaginary sphere surrounding our planet. In reality, all celestial objects are located at various distances from our planet—some close, some light years away.

The celestial sphere model helps us understand some of the most important astronomical concepts. On our classroom celestial sphere model there were two great circles. One great circle was the “celestial equator” formed by extending the plane of the earth’s equator out to the plastic sphere. Another great circle was formed by extending the plane of the earth’s orbit out to the celestial sphere. (We cannot visualize the plane of the earth’s orbit from our plastic celestial globe model. But we can see where the plane of earth’s orbit crosses the model’s celestial equator.) The two great circles cross each other twice at an angle of 23.5º because earth’s axis of rotation is tilted 23.5º from the plane of the earth’s equator.

On our celestial sphere model, astronomers have plotted celestial coordinates of two great circles—the celestial equator and the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the great circle formed by the path traced by the position of the sun throughout the year. We link a post from 10/18/2011 which explains the concept of the great circle in our skies called the ecliptic:  The term “zodiac” helps us understand the concept of the ecliptic.

The ecliptic locates an infinite number of sun positions. It also locates several solar positions EXACTLY ON, at the HIGHEST POINT, and at the LOWEST POINT in relation to the celestial equator. When the sun is located exactly ON the celestial equator we experience an equinox—equal night and day. When the winter solstice occurs, the sun apparently stands still for a few days at its lowest point above the horizon, neither rising nor falling. The sun is close to the horizon and at many latitudes the temperature is COLD. Six months later when the summer solstice occurs, the sun again stands still for a few days at it highest location above the horizon. The sun is highest in the sky and the temperature is WARM.

If the axis of the earth were not tilted there would be no equinoxes, no solstices, and no seasons. We close our discussion of solstices and equinoxes with a link to our 2017 post—Earth Without Seasons. There is much to learn about God’s master plan to provide for the physical welfare of teeming billions of Earth residents. God provides for not only man’s spiritual welfare but also man’s physical welfare.






Friday, December 15, 2023

Ubiquitous Bioelectricity

 We close our discussions of bioelectricity by referencing several recent blog posts. In we mentioned the positive and negative charges present in all chemical elements which comprise ordinary matter. These electrical charges are present in all matter and in all of our physical body systems.

Our body systems communicate with each other by the neural binary code which could not function apart from electrical charges. Even before our body systems communicate with each other, their architecture must be in place so the various systems are integrated. 

In our sports-immersed culture we draw several analogies, especially in the realm of professional leagues. Team owners compete with other owners to employ the most skilled players. The players comprise the team’s architecture. Strategies sometimes involve electronic radio signaling in addition to visual and auditory signaling. Football coaches have electronic radio communication systems in place with their quarterbacks; baseball managers have radio communication systems in place with their catchers who contact the pitcher by radio on miniature receivers. It is not enough to have a good team roster—players must also communicate effectively. We link a commentary from a blog posted in 2017: 

Bioelectricity is a product of the genius of the Divine Creator. If we believe the physical features in our environment were designed by God In the Beginning, we do not attribute characteristics of matter such as the electrical nature of atoms and molecules to a naturalistic accident.

Most non-scientists may not investigate the characteristics of matter in much detail. For example, they may be satisfied that matter is composed of atoms consisting of protons, neutrons, and electrons: Protons have a positive electrical charge; electrons possess a negative electrical charge. But there is more to the story. Exotic particles make up atomic particles. Some exotic particles are “force carriers.” Scientists discover many characteristics of matter at the quantum level—the scale of the VERY small.

We began our discussions of bioelectricity with two posts on forces. The Creator has permitted humanity to understand physical forces caused by bioelectricity. God created these phenomena as they relate to the miracle of human life and human consciousness.

Before we dismiss the topic of bioelectricity, we reprint two quotes of special interest to particle physicists—scientists who discover the many elementary particles which compose matter. The following quotes originate from an article in Simple Science:

“The Standard Model has a defined number of key particles: elementary and composite. Elementary particles are quarks, leptons, and bosons. These particles then join together to produce the more well-known particles, such as the neutron and the proton. Such particles are known as composite particles, as they are composed of two or more of these elementary particles.” (The same article describes an electron): “A lepton is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. The best known of all leptons is the electron.”

Without ubiquitous electrical charges in our bodies life would not exist. In the field of developmental biology Quanta Magazine states, “Researchers are building a case that long before the nervous system works, the brain sends crucial bioelectric signals to guide the growth of embryonic tissues.” Other researchers are intent on discovering a bioelectrical component of human consciousness. So far, this quest has not been successful. We believe human consciousness is a transcendent gift of the Creator of All Things. 


Monday, November 27, 2023

Bodily Bioelectricity

 Most bioscientists would acknowledge, perhaps humorously, that our bodies are “electrical machines.” A study of the the digital information transmitted by the billions of neurons inhabiting our central and peripheral nervous systems may inspire young people to choose bioscience as a career. 

Young people have been raised in the so-called “digital age.” Previous generations may not have been aware that a “digital age” for our society was on their horizon. Let’s investigate the origin of our modern “digital age.” Then we may be able to relate some of our findings to the remarkable “electrical machines”—our bodies.  

Claude Shannon (1916-2001) is a scientist less well known than Albert Einstein or James Clerk Maxwell. He was a brilliant electrical engineer, mathematician,  computer scientist, and cryptographer. He is responsible for an astonishing societal revolution, the digital revolution, which launched the information age, generally acknowledged to have begun in about 1970. The digital revolution transformed our lives in multiple ways. In the 21st century it is almost impossible to exist without being aware of the ongoing digital revolution, aka the digital age. Shannon’s seminal paper was titled, “A Mathematical Theory of Communications.” Computers evolved from digital technology. A sequence of simple binary digits, called bytes—either 0’s or 1’s—is the fundamental informational code. Computing steps involve input, processing, storage, output, and communication. 

Without the body’s electricity our lives would be profoundly different. In reality, we would not exist without a digital code consisting of digital pulses of electrical current within our bodies.

For your review, our last post is linked below:

The Creator of the human body conceived of billions of neurons communicating by a storm of electrical impulses. The digital electrical impulses enable human audition, vision, as well as pressure, balance, olfaction (smell), and gustation (taste) awareness. Our body’s nervous system discriminates among countless smells, tastes, sounds, visual images, and forces. Various brain regions interpret the meaning of multiple digital codes. We are not only able to perceive many different sounds, but also identify the type of musical instrument producing the sound—its pitch, timbre, and loudness. The human visual apparatus is capable of sensing color, shape, and brightness. Explanations for human sensory capability is woefully inadequate. Bioscientists are far more able to offer accurate descriptions than meaningful explanations. Thousands of volumes describe human senses in intricate detail. The foregoing paragraph describes the input stage of information as merely a sequence of binary digits! Our bodies’ sensory system decodes the meaning of a sequence of simple binary digits in order to achieve a meaningful, conscious visual or auditory experience.

How do we account for the operation of our nervous system and its digital processing capability? Bioscience authorities cite evolutionary mechanisms as “explanations” as if the mere mention of the term evolution is self-explanatory. An extensive review of the literature often leaves the reader with far more questions than answers. Most scientists prefer naturalistic explanations for events in our bodies. Many bodily sensory phenomena are nearly impossible to explain. For example, neurophysiologist Christof Koch, President of the Allen Institute of Brain Science, proposes: “The details of the human brain may be way beyond human capacity and capability to understand…”

The digital code is a language enabling the transmission of information via billions of neurons in the human body. All languages are devised by a mind. The human body is fearfully and wonderfully made by the God of Creation (Ps. 139:14-15.) Perry Marshal, author of books on communications technology and evolution, proposed the atheist’s riddle: “Show me a language that does not come from a mind.” The digital code is a language, as are all codes. The digital code by which our bodies’ neural networks communicate originates in the divine mind of God, the Creator.


Our blog deals with the interaction of science and Christianity. In our view, the facts of science strengthen and reinforce, but do not prove, belief in the Creator of All Things—the God of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. The scientific discoveries relating to the human body’s sensory system are difficult to attribute to a purely naturalistic explanation. 





Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Neuroscience and Bioelectricity

 We have described the reality of digital electrical signals by which our central and peripheral nervous systems communicate with each other. All human body cells possess electrical properties. If this were not true, our bodies would not function. The eleven major body systems would be unable to communicate with each other and regulate conditions in the body. Billions of neurons possess action potentials by which electrical charges are sent to other neurons.

What are action potentials? They are small “spike-like” events—nerve impulses consisting of electrical signals which transmit digital information. These electric impulses are either ‘on’ or ‘off.’ That is why the information is considered digital.

“Action potentials are of great importance to the functioning of the brain since they propagate information in the nervous system to the central nervous system and propagate commands initiated in the central nervous system to the periphery.” (Neuroscience Online, McGovern Medical School.)

Bio-electricity is a flow of electrically charged ions, not a flow of electrons. Ions are formed when an atom gains or loses one or more electrons. A familiar example is the formation of common table salt. An atom of sodium gives an electron to an atom of chlorine. The sodium atom becomes a positive ion and chlorine becomes a negative ion. Proteins provide ion channels through which charged ions move across the cell membrane, carrying their charges with them. This movement may accurately be termed an electric current.

We link several posts from Aug./Sept. 2014 in which we referred to electrical signals flowing through neurons. These posts may be easier to understand than the information presented in the above paragraphs:

How could a storm of digital electrical pulses be converted to a coherent visible image by the human brain and impart conscious awareness of thousands of different shapes and colors in our field of vision? Our field of vision is usually not an experience in still photography. Mostly, our eyes process a plethora of movement moment by moment. Our normal vision consists of uncounted thousands of data points—all in living color!

Charles Darwin confessed that it was “absurd” to propose that the human eye evolved through spontaneous mutation and natural selection. But he never abandoned his  firm belief in evolution. Neither do the majority of 21st century professional biologists reject the evolutionary paradigm. According to Wikipedia, between 770 thousand and 1.7 million neuron fibers from retinal ganglion cell axons send digital electronic signals from the retina to the brain through the optic nerve. The human brain imparts meaning to the digital data. The foregoing sentence  is an example of description, but the statement is short on explanation.

We long for meaningful explanations of human eye/brain function. Scientists are more adept at offering descriptions; less adept at offering explanations. This does not indicate there are no explanations for certain phenomena in the world of our experience. In the world of the scientist, however, many are fascinated by the process of discovery. 

The miracle of human vision does not yield to easy explanations. In personal research dealing with human vision, we frequently encounter statements such as “…scientists don’t fully understand how our brains do it” or “…(retinal) neurons that encode objects respond in complicated ways.” 

Our blog posts credit the power of the Ultimate Designer/Creator. He is the Author of the laws of nature. But He is also the God of Creation.   


Thursday, October 19, 2023

Body Systems Analysis

Of all eleven human body systems, the nervous system is known as the control and communicating system for all other body systems. The study of biology consists of eleven major systems, integrated to produce a highly functional human body. We list eleven recognized systems: (1) circulatory, (2) digestive, (3) endocrine, (4) integumentary (skin), (5) lymphatic, (6) muscular, (7) nervous, (8) reproductive, (9) respiratory, (10) skeletal, and (11) urinary (excretory).

Our past post—Systems Integration, linked belowdiscusses both human body systems and other physical systems surrounding us. Our current post serves as an introduction to a more detailed treatment of only one body system—the nervous system.

The systems of the human body are finely tuned to function effectively not only individually, but as an integrated unit. At any one moment, the expression “feeling well” describes the optimal functionality of all body systems working together. Many people tend to focus on temporary malfunctions of even one body system. For instance, the common cold is an infection in the respiratory system; a skin rash is a problem with the integumentary system; an upset stomach is a disturbance in the digestive system; a UTI results from germs attacking the urinary system; muscle soreness is a dysfunction of the muscular system; an upset stomach is an imbalance in the digestive system.

We wonder why humans do not suffer continual discomfort when so many body systems potentially could go awry. The simple answer is that Our Creator has designed body systems to cope with minor (and sometimes major) physical symptoms produced by stress and disease. But God also gifted humanity with ability to treat stress and disease and maintain health with prudent diet and personal habits as well as modern medical interventions such as therapy and surgery. In our times, Our Creator has bestowed technological, agricultural and medical gifts to humanity in order to support a burgeoning human population of over eight billion.

In our opening paragraph, we highlighted the human nervous system which integrates all other body systems. We enlarge upon this concept with a discussion of the nervous system and its two main divisions—the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system is composed primarily of the brain and spinal column. It is difficult to avoid awareness of our peripheral nervous system. Our muscular system, our circulatory system, our skin (integumentary system), and our skeleton are a few examples.

Integrally related to the nervous system is one of the four fundamental forces as defined by physical scientists. It is the electromagnetic force. How is the nervous system related to the electromagnetic force? 

For reference, we link

Billions of nervous system cells called neurons use electricity to transmit information and regulate the human body. The body’s ‘electricity’ is used for communication and control of the eleven integrated human body systems. There is an electrical dimension to all matter.

Neurons are among the most fascinating body cells. A typical neuron is composed of a cell body possessing many characteristics of other human body cells. In addition, neurons have dendrites protruding from the cell body. They resemble tree branches or roots. The branching dendrites sense chemical or physical conditions in our bodies, as well as light, sound, heat, odor, and taste in our environment. The dendrites transmit messages in the form of digital electrical signals to the cell body and into the axon, a long, thin appendage of the cell body. Digital electrical signals reinforce other digital signals from other neurons. Ultimately, the digital signals arrive at the human brain, part of central nervous system.

In review, the peripheral nervous system primarily senses conditions in our environment and sends this information to the central nervous system. Many brain centers receive the digital information and ‘figure out’ its meaning. Conscious humans respond appropriately.  Scientists have identified many brain locations where complex physical phenomena are integrated. The nervous system integrates ten other body systems, each of which possesses its own intricate beauty.

In Psalm 139:14 King David, in the pre-scientific age, composed a prescient passage of scripture. Prescient relates to knowing in advance. In our modern day we have discovered details of all human body systems.            

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 (NIV).





Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Chemical Elements: Coherently Created

 We begin this post with a short and incomplete chemistry primer. When readers recapture memories from their secondary school chemistry courses, one of their first memories relates to the definition of an element. Chemical elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, iron, or gold are naturally occurring chemical elements in our physical universe. They cannot be broken down or separated into simpler substances. Water is not an element because it can be separated into the elements hydrogen and oxygen. Therefore, water is a chemical compound.

 Another early memory from our initial course in chemistry concerns atoms— tiny, basic units of elements. We could not describe elements without stating that elements are composed of atoms. We understand that atoms are incredibly tiny. There may be three trillion atoms in a minuscule speck of dust. 

Elements and atoms which compose elements possess a “coherent order.” This phrase is meaningful in our English language. It means systematic or logical and often refers to operation of a device serving a specific purpose. Each component of an element serves a purpose such as behaviors of atoms in any chemical reaction.

How many different substances exist on our planet? Almost 100 elements exist in nature, but many substances are compounds—chemical combinations of elements. New substances are formed when elements or compounds chemically combine. Other substances are mixtures in which the components are not chemically combined. The substances are merely mixed together in the same container. Raisin Bran serves as an example; raisins are mixed with bran flakes, but no new substances are formed.         

Six hundred thousand inorganic compounds and 16 million organic compounds are known to exist. Organic compounds are chemical combinations of elements carbon and hydrogen included as components of their molecules. (When compounds are formed an element’s electrons are shared with or donated to another element to produce a chemical combination.) Carbon is the main element in organic compounds and is essential for life on Earth. Without carbon, life as we know it could not exist. 

Chemical compounds exist because elements have been created in a “coherent order.” This allows the production of millions of compounds. Elements are assigned an atomic number. Here are the atomic numbers of a few important elements: Hydrogen-1, Carbon-6, Nitrogen-7, oxygen-8, aluminum-13, iron-26, gold-79. The     atomic number not only identifies the element, but also tells how many protons are possessed by that element. Oxygen has eight protons and eight neutrons. Elements generally have a similar number of neutrons and protons—sometimes a few more neutrons.

No additional elements exist in nature other than those already discovered and described. Neutrons, particles with no electrical charge, contribute binding energy to prevent positively charged protons in the atomic nucleus from chaotically flying off into space. (Like electrical charges repel.) The strong nuclear force is an intelligently designed feature provided by the Creator of forces.


We could not close our short chemistry primer without reminding readers about atomic number and atomic mass. We referenced atomic number in the above paragraphs. Atomic mass tells us the total number of an element’s protons plus the number of the element’s neutrons. Oxygen has an atomic mass of 16, roughly calculated by adding the number of protons (8) to the number of neutrons (8) in the nucleus of an oxygen atom. 

During my personal career as teacher of physical science and earth science, I found it easy to connect the wonders of our curricular science subject matter to my belief in the existence of God, the Creator of All Things. A good example is the subject of chemical elements from today’s blog topic. I cannot, rationally, believe that the coherent order of the periodic table, as it relates to the reality of the Creator’s actions, points to anything other than the existence of a rational, coherent MIND and a Divine Creator who created our present world. In other words, I subscribe to the creativity of God, the Creator of All Things. We need an observant and analytical mind to discover the truths relating to the Creator.