There is much concern today about global warming, but many factors determine the climate in any particular location on Earth. Of course, we know that the closer we get to the equator, the warmer the temperatures are. Conversely, as we get closer to the poles, we find colder temperatures. But that isn’t always true, and one factor is what some people call “the global conveyor belt.” We are talking about how ocean currents affect the climate.
Ocean currents temper some areas which would be excessively hot to make the climate much more comfortable. Ocean currents affect the climate in some regions by stabilizing it to prevent extreme temperature swings. Many areas benefit from ocean currents which bring warmer temperatures.
An extreme example of an area warmed by ocean currents is Lofoten, an archipelago of islands in Norway. Lofoten is located north of the Arctic Circle at more than 68 degrees north latitude. The Sun remains below the horizon for more than a month in the winter and above the horizon for more than a month in the summer. The rest of the year, it never rises high in the sky. However, Lofoten is the most northern place on Earth where the daily mean temperature remains above freezing all year. The reason for that is the effect of ocean currents. The Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current carry warmer water from areas farther south to temper the climate of Lofoten. In fact, Lofoten has the largest upward temperature anomaly in relation to its latitude of any location in the world.
The causes of the ocean currents are numerous, including waves, wind, Coriolis effect, water density differences due to temperature and salinity, shoreline configurations, melting polar ice, and the ocean floor’s contours. This global conveyor belt of ocean currents affects the climate making Earth more hospitable. It is only one of many engineering marvels that have created this amazing, beautiful, habitable world. Some say that the world is all an accidental product of natural forces. We say that those forces are evidence of a Master Designer.
Many teachings of Christianity offer solutions to the problems we face in the 21st century. Skeptics claim that the Bible is an ancient book of myths with no relevance to life in the modern era. That is not true! The practical value of Christ’s teaching on forgiveness speaks to divine inspiration and validates the Christian life.
One area that relates to depression and mental illness is how we forgive people who have wronged us. The evolutionary explanation tells us to live by the survival of the fittest, and getting even is a key to survival. In reality, that doesn’t work, but Christ’s teaching on forgiveness does.
Trying to demonstrate your superiority by getting even contaminates all human relationships. I have seen unbelieving friends and family members spend much of their lives trying to get even with someone who wronged them. People are often estranged from siblings, parents, or children because they follow an unchristian approach to perceived wrongs.
Christ taught a different approach. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus told his followers, “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you, but if you do not forgive those who sin against you, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.” This is in such contrast to human nature that in Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked Christ how many times he must forgive a brother. Peter thought he was generous by suggesting a limit of seven times. Jesus responded by saying seventy times seven. He didn’t mean 490 times. He was saying that forgiveness of a brother, friend, or even an enemy is unlimited.
The practical value of Christ’s teaching on forgiveness is proven by the fact that failing to forgive will eat you alive, mentally and emotionally. Most of us have no problem forgiving the mistakes of a small child an unlimited number of times. We need to have that same spirit in dealing with family members and others. If you are a Christian and someone has wronged you, don’t carry a grudge and build a wall between you and that person.
Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Our capacity to forgive is one of the most critical demonstrators of that love. If you are not a Christian, I suggest that there is help from God in feeling forgiveness, leading to better mental health and freedom from depression. The practical value of Christ’s teaching on forgiveness demonstrates that it is not based on human wisdom.
Today is the thirty-fourth anniversary of a significant astronomical event. It’s the anniversary of a star explosion. On February 23, 1987, astronomers and other observers on Earth witnessed the explosion of a star with a mass about twenty times that of our Sun. They called it supernova SN 1987A.
The explosion was bright enough to see with the naked eye. While Earth observers saw it in 1987, the explosion happened long before that. Since the star was located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy 160,000 light-years from Earth, we witnessed an event that occurred 160,000 years in the past.
There have been other supernovas, but SN 1987A was the brightest supernova observed since the telescope’s invention. It was also the brightest since Chinese astronomers observed a star exploding in A.D. 1054. For the past thirty-four years, astronomers have studied the ring of fire as it expands outward from that explosion. The picture showing the remnant of the explosion is a composite image from 2014. It combines visible light from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and x-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
Studying the creation process also shows us the incredible precision required to make the universe possible and create life on this planet. On this thirty-fourth anniversary of a star explosion, we are reminded of the words of an ancient psalm, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalms 19:1).
One of the characteristics unique to humans is the creation of art. Some people have made desperate attempts to prove that gorillas, chimps, and elephants create art. When you look at their “art,” you realize that it is merely swashes of color enabled by the researchers working with the animals. Is art just something that evolved, or could Adam create art?
Archaeologists and other scientists have found that ancient humans created art. That very ancient art is not simple swashes of color but complex pictures. Paintings found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi seem to portray a fight between a group of pigs. This discovery is significant because evolutionists have always maintained that humans did not create art until Ice Age Europe. They insisted that humans had not evolved to the point of being able to express historical events in pictures until that time.
Archaeologists have found an even older example of artwork in the Ramie region of Israel, and it consists of symbols cut into a bone fragment. Symbols tell of beliefs beyond survival and express thoughts beyond the mundane affairs of life. People used symbolic expressions from the very beginning of human history. These examples tell us that humans were created with the capacity to express themselves in art.
So the answer to the question, “could Adam create art” would be “yes.” The unique capacities of humans were built into Adam because he was created in the image of God. The human spiritual makeup expressed itself in art from the earliest days of human existence.
Genesis 4:19-26 tells about the first descendants of Adam and Eve. Jubal “was the father of all who play the harp and flute.” Those verses also tell us that Tubal-Cain was the first artisan in brass and iron. These descriptions were all before the birth of Seth. That means Adam and Eve were still around as musical instruments and artisans in metal were doing their creative works.
In their desperate attempt to find an inhabited planet, some media people have jumped to the conclusion that any planet close to 8000 miles (13,000 km) in diameter will be inhabited. One of the candidates orbiting a star in our galaxy is called K2-141b, and it is reasonably close to us in size and location, a little under 200 light-years away. However, K2-141b is not another Earth.
Astronomers have discovered that its atmosphere has all the elemental components of rocks. That has to mean that the surface temperature of the planet is hot enough to vaporize rocks. That would be more than 5400 degrees Fahrenheit (3,000 C). K2-141b is not another Earth.
At this time, when people are concerned about global warming, we must consider how many factors on Earth and the surrounding area give use the proper temperature for life to exist. Without the variables that keep our planet cool, we could not have a surface temperature of less than 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 C). The size, temperature, and activity of the Sun have to be just right. The amount of ocean surface that reflects solar heat back into space is crucial. The factors that restrict greenhouse gases, the relatively low value of volcanic activity, the lack of exothermic chemical reactions, the reflectivity of clouds, and many other factors all influence our temperature.
Even though K2-141b is not another Earth, there may be other planets with conditions that permit surface temperatures between 0 and 100 degrees Celsius, allowing liquid water. But evidence shows that such planets are rare, and their design would be from the same source as our planet. If God has created life elsewhere on a planet that will allow life to exist over the long haul, it will be another demonstration of incredible wisdom and design. Our planet is exceptional, and taking care of it should be a high priority for all of us.
How many bird species can you identify? There are over 10,000 known species of birds in the world, and I am sure you could not identify them all. But God can. More than that, He sees each one individually (Matthew 10:29). That staggers my mind. Sometimes I can’t keep up with counting birds at my backyard bird feeders.
We often feature birds in our daily Facebook postings, and many times we have talked about birds on this website. (For example, HERE, HERE, and HERE.) Birds are fascinating, beautiful, and intelligent creatures. Birds, like mammals, can be trained to do things and respond to humans in various ways. We see that as a purposeful design by our Creator to allow us to bond with these animals.
Watching birds fly through the air and listening to their beautiful songs are fascinating and enjoyable activities. Since the beginning, humans have longed for the ability to fly and see the world from our feathered friends’ perspective. Sometimes, people have been careless in causing harm or even extinction to bird species. When we see the many ways birds benefit life on Earth, we must recognize that we should be good stewards of what God has given us.
An annual worldwide event known as The Great Backyard Bird Count is now in progress. It’s a science project that you can get involved in no matter who you are or where you live. This year, from February 12-15 people worldwide will be counting birds in their vicinity. By doing that, they are helping to compile a database of birds. All you have to do is take at least one period of 15 minutes or more and make a list of all the birds you see in your backyard, in a local park, outside your apartment window, or anywhere else that’s convenient. Just record your location, start and end times, and the number and types of birds you see.
Of course, you can spend more than 15 minutes, or you can do it on each of the four days, or even multiple times per day. As in past years, the statistics from bird watchers worldwide will be tabulated by scientists to get a better picture of the world bird population and health. To help you identify birds, you can consult websites such as WhatBird.com and AllAboutBirds.org, which are free to use.
Counting birds is a science project that anyone can do. To learn the details of how you can get involved in this worldwide project, sign up for free at www.birdcount.org. We think that learning more about God’s creation helps us see our Creator’s wisdom and love. (Matthew 6:26)
There are many teachings of Christianity that offer solutions to the problems we all face in the 21st century. The claims of skeptics that the Bible is an ancient book of myths that have no relevance to life in the modern era is false. The practical value of Christ’s teaching speak to its inspiration by God and validate the Christian life. No area of life shows this more clearly than financial management and debt.
In the days of Christ, many people had difficulty managing their money. The common people would get themselves in debt to a money lender–sometimes just to buy the necessities of life. Many of Christ’s parables address the issues of getting into debt and settling debts. One option for debtors in those days was to sell themselves into slavery to the person who loaned them the money. The Old Testament law said that the maximum length of servitude was seven years. There were even special times when all debts were forgiven.
People still have trouble with financial management and debt. In today’s world, instead of a person lending the money it is a credit card company. Many people become slaves to them. One option today is to declare bankruptcy. It is interesting that bad credit can be resolved in the same time period as the old Jewish law–seven years.
The teachings of Christ and the early Church revolved around avoiding servitude. The key phrase in the teachings of Christianity is “being content.” In Luke 3:14, Christ told soldiers to “be content with your wages.” Hebrews 13:5-6 tells Christians “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said ‘Never will I leave you, nor will I forsake you.’ So we can say with confidence the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid of what man can do to me.” Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, stated this principle clearly in Matthew 6:19-34. That passage warns against “laying up treasures on Earth.” It points out that we can’t always change our station in life, but that Christ’s followers should trust God for our needs.
In 1 Timothy 6:8-9, Paul tells Christians to be content if they have food and clothing and that “foolish and harmful desires …plunge men into ruin and destruction.” How much grief, mental anguish, and frustration has credit card debt brought on people today? Later in that passage Paul talks about the uncertainty of wealth (verses 17-21). In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul says, “I have learned to be content.” For Christians, the Church is the security blanket to provide basic support, and Matthew 25:34-46 tells Christians how to find what really brings contentment.
The Bible’s wisdom is a great testimony to its divine origin, and gives practical lessons for financial management and debt. Wealthy Christians are told not to be arrogant or to put their hope in wealth. The Bible tells all Christians to put their hope in God, whether they are rich or poor so they can “take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:19).
Most people know that birds have excellent vision.Eagles can spot a mouse from high overhead. How can they have such sharp vision? Science has revealed the hidden design in a bird’s eye.
The secret of a bird’s eyes was detected first, not in an eagle, but in the eye of a chicken. Color cones are cells in the retina located in the back of the eye. The cones capture the image that the lens focuses on the retina. Human eyes have cones of three different colors: red, blue, and green. Examining the retinas of chickens’ eyes, scientists found that they have five different colors of cones. But it isn’t the number of different color cones that is the most amazing feature.
Much more interesting is the arrangement of the cones. The cones for each color are different sizes. Imagine taking many circles in five different sizes and colors and arranging them on a surface, trying to fit the maximum number of circles into the area. If they were all the same size, you might put them into a grid, but since the circles are in five different sizes, packing the maximum number into the area becomes much more difficult. In packing cone cells onto a retina, more cones will give a higher resolution (sharper) image.
The arrangement of cones in the chicken retina seemed to be haphazard until scientists studied them more closely. What they found was something they call “hyperuniformity.” It’s a mathematically elegant concept that appears to be disordered but is actually optimized with a hidden order. You might call it “disordered hyperuniformity.” It’s the hidden design in a bird’s eye.
What appears disordered is the best possible arrangement to evenly distribute the maximum number of unevenly-sized cones over the retinal surface. Scientists are applying this to many other areas. Hyperuniformity could improve cameras and scanning equipment. It could also improve such diverse processes as mixing concrete, making glass, or any application where you need to distribute solid particles evenly.
How did the cells in the chicken’s eyes get arranged so perfectly? Was the hidden design in a bird’s eye an accident, or is this another example of the work of an intelligent Designer?
For all living things to evolve from a single common ancestor, an incredible number of beneficial changes must occur. The problem is that biological barriers to evolution get in the way.
Although Darwinism looks for genetic mutations to fashion new and beneficial genetic changes, the vast majority of mutations are harmful. Since fruit flies have a short reproductive cycle, scientists have worked with enormous numbers of fruit fly generations, trying to demonstrate evolution. They have produced mutated fruit flies with four wings rather than two. However, the extra wings are a useless encumbrance to the fruit flies because there are no muscles to move them. Additionally, they are still fruit flies, not even houseflies or horseflies.
Darwin saw that the beaks of finches changed over time. However, those beak variations were not anything new; they had always been there. Changes in the habitat caused the birds with beneficial beak sizes and shapes to reproduce in larger numbers. When the climate or other conditions changed again, the predominant beaks changed again. The beak adaptations were not permanent changes, and the birds were still finches.
Mutations do not add new data to the DNA, and for a mutation to be passed on to the next generation, it must occur in the reproductive cells. A genetic change in body cells can’t be passed on to future generations any more than a woman who has had an appendectomy will give birth to a child with no appendix. Mutations in bacteria are well known and can cause them to become immune to the effects of antibiotics. But again, those are just hereditary fluctuations around a median point. They do not become new creatures.
Hundreds or even thousands of years of plant and animal breeding by humans has shown that intelligent breeding can produce remarkable changes and improvements. But new dog breeds are still dogs, and new rose varieties are still roses. If biological barriers to evolution limit intelligent humans to making improved changes within certain limited boundaries, could purely random chance mutations create the wide variety of life-forms in the world today? Billions of years are not enough time to do the impossible.
It’s a program code written in four biological compounds that we identify with the initials A, G, T, and C. It’s three billion letters long. If you printed it on standard sheets of paper in 12-point font size and stacked those sheets, the stack would be as high as the Washington Monument (555 feet or 169 meters). What is the program? It’s your DNA code that gives the blueprint for your body.
If you spent ten hours per day seven days a week reading one letter per second, it would take you just under 75 years to read the entire program. In other words, it would require your lifetime to read the code that describes your physical blueprint. However, instead of being printed on paper, those four letters are paired in two-letter sets like the rungs of a 3-D spiral ladder. Then they are folded neatly into the nucleus of every cell of your body. Small changes in the coding of those letters could change the color of your hair or your eyes. It could change your body shape or size. It could determine if you have a physical or mental illness.
Your DNA code is comparable to that of every other person on Earth, but it is unique to you alone in many details. That’s why detectives use DNA forensic tests to determine the identity of a person who has committed a crime. Similarities in DNA can indicate who we are related to or where our ancestors originated.
Since the Human Genome Project completed the sequencing of human DNA in 2003, we have learned that our DNA is in many ways similar to that of other animals and insects, and even plants. Despite the similarities, there are significant differences that are not physical. Only humans have creativity, an appreciation for beauty, and a desire to worship. We believe that’s because God gave humans a special gift when He created us in His spiritual image, with a soul, not just a body.
We also believe that the enormous complexity of your DNA codecould not have happened by chance. We suggest that the code that lays out the design of all living things was written by the same God who created humans in His image.