Retiring Early – Good Idea or Not

Retiring Early – Good Idea or Not
Some people dream of retiring early and spending the rest of their lives in pleasure-filled relaxation. That may not be a good idea.

Relaxing for a few days is a good thing, but studies show that when we stop doing anything constructive and challenging, both our mental and physical health decline. The Washington Post reported that studies “have shown a strong correlation between early retirement age and diminished cognitive function.”

Not only can too much leisure be bad for our physical and mental health, it even has an adverse effect on our happiness. Humans were designed to be productive and creative. Without physical stimulation, our bones and muscles become weak. Without mental stimulation, our brains lose their sharpness. The saying, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” contains a lot of truth.

All this doesn’t mean that we have to keep working at an occupation for our entire lives. Retiring early can open the door to new opportunities of service. For those who retire from a paying job, volunteering for some service which is mentally, and even physically challenging can be rewarding in many ways. It can keep us physically stronger and more mentally alert. It can give us enjoyment and even help us to live longer. It can also be rewarding for those we are able to serve.

God created us to work. Even in the paradise of the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve work to do. (See Genesis 2:15.) If you want to live a long, healthy, and happy life, find a way to be productively stimulated while serving others. It’s what God designed us to do.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Life Chemical Factory on Enceladus?

Life Chemical Factory on Enceladus
The picture shows Saturn’s moon Enceladus with Saturn in the background and part of a ring visible. Scientists are talking about a life chemical factory on Enceladus. One of the interesting questions about the origin of life is the question of how the chemicals needed to produce life came into existence.

Many believers in God answer that question just saying “God created them” and leaving it at that. For many of us with interest in science, that question expands to trying to understand HOW God created those chemicals. Saying that He spoke them into existence may be theologically acceptable, but the evidence shows that God used processes that we can understand.

Enceladus is essentially a vast ocean of water surrounded by a massive layer of ice. Scientists believe that powerful hydrothermal vents mix up the material found in the moon’s porous core with the salt water that makes up its vast ocean. This material is then ejected out into space in the form of enormous plumes of water vapor and ice granules you can see in the picture taken by the Cassini spacecraft. The sight is quite spectacular, and it was into one of these plumes that NASA’s scientists were able to send Cassini to examine their composition.

What the scientists learned is that the plumes contain organic materials. These are materials that are part of the building blocks of life. Therefore, this moon seems to be a factory that builds several of the ingredients needed to produce life.

Think of how factories produce cars. Factories at different locations all over the country build the parts. The parts come together in one place where highly skilled and creative engineers assemble them into a working automobile. In the same way, we can see a possible life chemical factory on Enceladus.

The more we explore space, the more we understand why these “factories” exist and how they have been used by “the great Engineer” to produce life on Earth.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
For more information from a different perspective go to Space.com

Oxygen Atom Design and Water

Oxygen Atom Design and Water
In our post for yesterday (July 7, 2018) we dealt with oxygen as a designed feature promoting life by allowing us to breathe. Another interesting design feature relates to the oxygen atom design and water. The oxygen molecule’s design allows water to have the properties that it has.

The oxygen atom has eight electrons in orbitals based on their energy with the electrons paired so that their magnetic polarities are balanced. Each electron is essentially a little magnet with a north and a south pole. When the electrons are together in a pair, one electron’s north pole matches up with the second electron’s south pole. In oxygen, the first two electrons are in what is called the S orbital. The next energy level out is also an S orbital with two electrons. The third energy level out from the nucleus is the P orbital. This orbital can hold six electrons, but oxygen has only four electrons left. Two of the electrons are paired, but the remaining two are unpaired. They orbit in a pattern at right angles to one another. These orbits are not spherical but in the shape of a dumbbell.

What is the importance of oxygen atom design and water? A water molecule consists of two hydrogen atoms attached to the oxygen atom in such a way that they pair up with the two unpaired electrons. That means the water molecule is polar in nature with the hydrogen atoms on one end of the molecule and the oxygen atom on the other. The bond angle of the hydrogen atoms would be 90 degrees except for the fact that they repel each other. The repulsion forces the angle out to 105 degrees. This design allows water to have its unique properties which allow life to exist on Earth.

When water freezes, the molecules spread out due to the polar nature of the water molecule. Because of that, ice is lighter than liquid water so lakes freeze on top instead of on the bottom. If lakes froze from the bottom up, life in the water would not be possible. Also because of the polar nature of the water molecule, water dissolves things like salt.

The unique properties of water are due to the design of the oxygen molecule. As a high school chemistry teacher I always enjoy teaching about the oxygen atom design and water. Students are enthralled at the design built into such a simple thing as an oxygen molecule. Almost every time I teach this unit I have some kid say something like, “Wow! Who thought this up?” But this is not the product of a human engineer. An Engineer far wiser than any human created the design of oxygen and built a world that can support life.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
The illustrations are from John N. Clayton’s book The Source: Eternal Design or Infinite Accident? The book goes into much more detail and is available HERE.

Lemming Suicide Myth

Lemming Suicide Myth
Lemmings are small rodents with long, soft, colorful fur and short tails that live in the Arctic tundra. They reproduce rapidly, and their population varies dramatically, usually over a four-year cycle. Scientists have studied the variation in lemming populations for many years, but they don’t entirely understand it. However, the lemming suicide myth is not an explanation.

Contrary to popular stories, lemmings do not commit mass suicide by jumping off cliffs into the sea to drown. False lemming legends are not new. In the sixteenth century, because of their rapid population increases, a story was started that they fall out of the sky when it rains. That idea was proven to be false.

The story of the mass suicide has been depicted in songs, movies, video games, stories, and a 1985 Apple TV commercial until most people accept it as true. The worst case of deception was in the 1958 Disney movie “White Wilderness.” The film won an Academy Award for best documentary, but it spread false information with a staged lemming suicide jump. It was later revealed that the lemmings were forced off the cliff by the camera crew.

When their population density becomes too high, lemmings migrate to find food. Since they can swim, they sometimes migrate across bodies of water. Occasionally some may drown in the crossing, but it’s not mass suicide. In 1980, Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” comic showed a group of lemmings jumping into the water. The last lemming in line was wearing a life preserver. Following the principle of natural selection, that lemming would have been the one to survive and reproduce. We would presume that its offspring would inherit the caution and be smart enough not to follow the crowd. Then we would assume that lemmings would evolve into creatures who would no longer take the plunge. It’s a matter of survival of the fittest, or perhaps the smartest.

The lemming suicide myth is persistent, but false, like the myth that we use only ten percent of our brains. The bottom line is, God didn’t create lemmings to be suicidal. He also didn’t create humans to be gullible.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Wreck of the SS Cedarville

Wreck of the SS Cedarville
Between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan, there is a stretch of water known as the Straits of Mackinac. (Pronounced mack-in-awe) This narrow channel connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Nearby is a museum which tells the story of shipwrecks in the Straits. One of those was the wreck of the SS Cedarville in the early morning of May 7, 1965.

The Cedarville was carrying a heavy load of limestone and traveling through the straits in dense fog. In spite of low visibility Captain Martin Joppich kept the ship moving at top speed. He even ordered the wheelsman to cut corners off the official shipping channel to save time. Radar detected two oncoming vessels. One of them was identified as the Norwegian freighter Topdalsfjord. Captain Joppich ordered the crew to reduce speed and steer starboard to pass the Topdalsfjord on the port side. In doing that, the Cedarville steered directly into the path of the Topdalsfjord. The Norwegian ship sliced a large hole into the side of the Cedarville.

Captain Joppich ordered the crew to stop the engines and drop anchor. The crew prepared the lifeboats, but no order was given to abandon ship. The ship was starting to list to port, so the crew began to fill the starboard ballast tanks. The captain then ordered the crew to raise anchor and steer the ship to shallow water six miles (10 km) away. By the time they had gone just over two miles (3.3 km), the ship rolled over and sank.

Of the 35 crew members, ten of them died in the wreck of the SS Cedarville. What mistakes did the captain make? The Cedarville was going too fast for foggy conditions. The ship steered the wrong way into the path of another vessel. The crew was not given orders to abandon ship. There was another area of shallow water only two miles (3.2 km) away that they might have reached before sinking. All of these things were caused by the captain making bad decisions.

A plaque at the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum says, “To some degree, all wrecks in the Straits of Mackinac were avoidable. Someone exercised bad judgment or performed their duties incorrectly. In many instances, several people made many small errors, each individually, but momentous when combined with others. As a result, ships went down while passengers and crewmembers died.” The wreck of the SS Cedarville is only one example.

The plaque says the real cause of wrecks is people. How often do people cause wrecks and destruction to their own lives or the lives of others and then blame God for the pain? Does God allow us to make bad choices? Yes, but when we make those bad choices, we should put the blame where it belongs, and not on God.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

The Not So Common, Common Pigeon

Common Pigeon
You may think that pigeons are more of a nuisance than anything else. Many of us have had to scrub pigeon droppings off of statues or home decorations. The sheer number of pigeons that we see in our cities can make us take these birds for granted. Discover magazine for August 2018 published a dossier of the unique features of the common pigeon, also known as the rock pigeon or rock dove. These features show it is incredibly well-designed to survive in almost any environment on Earth. Here are some interesting characteristics:

Pigeons are one of only three kinds of birds that have an enlarged crop which is an extension of the esophagus. They use this crop to store food which they eventually give to their young.

Most birds drink by taking in water and then putting their heads back to allow the water to run into their stomach. Pigeons have a unique beak that acts like a straw enabling them to suck up the water.

Wing muscle makes up about 60% of a pigeon’s body weight making pigeons excellent flyers. They can cover 500 miles a day and can reach speeds of 50 mph.

Pigeons can navigate in ways that are still poorly understood by scientists. Experiments have shown they can use sound, magnetic fields, landmarks, the Sun, and even smell. Like the Arctic Tern, the common pigeon seems to possess multiple navigational tools.

Pigeons have a concept of self and can recognize themselves in a reflection. There are only six other animals that can do that.

Pigeons are more capable than babies and toddlers in recognizing the letters of the alphabet.

Pigeons use “fright molt” which is the ability to shed feathers when attacked.

Humans have used pigeons for food, for carrying messages, and for psychological testing. In fact, the famous psychologist B.F. Skinner taught pigeons how to play ping pong. Our most abundant birds like pigeons and crows were designed to do remarkable things. God frequently advises us to learn from His creation–including all life forms. (For example, Proverbs 6:5, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.”) We can also learn from the common pigeon which is not so ordinary after all.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Does Your GPS Work?

Does Your GPS Work?
Does Your GPS work? If so, you can give credit to Albert Einstein. In 1905 Einstein published the Special Theory of Relativity which said that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. This presented a problem because gravity acts between objects instantly and thus it seems to be faster than the speed of light. It was a problem that needed a solution.

Ten years later, in 1915 Einstein revealed his General Theory of Relativity which resolved the problem. The explanation was that the Sun and planets cause space to curve around them and this warped shape of space influences the motion of other objects passing by them. That’s why the Moon orbits the Earth, and it’s why Earth and the other planets orbit the Sun.

This warping of space also bends light beams that pass through space. In 1919 British astrophysicist Arthur Eddington confirmed that Einstein was correct. Eddington observed the bending of light from distant stars as the light passed by the Sun during a total solar eclipse.

The understanding of how gravity bends space and light beams has given us methods of making measurements in space and detecting planets orbiting other stars. Einstein also said that time is warped by gravity causing time to move more slowly near massive bodies like the Earth. The effect of gravity on time allows Global Positioning Satellites to determine the exact position of the GPS receiver you use in your car.

Does your GPS work? If it does, it works because brilliant minds have discovered many of the amazing details of God’s creation. We have been able to apply the things we have learned, but science has only scratched the surface of understanding the work of the Creator.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Color Vision Gender Differences

Color Vision Gender Differences
There are many differences between men and women, but you realize that there are color vision gender differences?

Light is electromagnetic radiation that stimulates our eyes. There are only specific frequencies of the electromagnetic frequency spectrum that we can see. Frequencies below the range of visible light are called infrared. We can sometimes feel infrared radiation as heat, but we can’t see it, although some animals can. Frequencies higher than visible light are ultraviolet which we can’t see, but it affects our skin and can cause sunburn. Some animals can see infrared light.

Within the visible spectrum of light that humans can see, different bands of frequencies affect our eyes differently. Most of us have receptors in our eyes for the wavelengths which we call red, green, and blue. When light stimulates those receptors, they send a signal to our brain which combines the signals to allow us to see many variations in colors.

People with colorblindness (mostly men) have one of those color receptor categories missing. The missing color may be either red or green. Why are men colorblind more often than women? The genes that encode the red and green receptors are located in the X-chromosome. Men have one X- and one Y-chromosome. Women have two X chromosomes. That means that if a man has a defective X-chromosome, he is out of luck. A woman would need to have two defective X-chromosomes to be colorblind.

It’s interesting that the chromosome pair that creates the sex differences also explains the color vision gender differences. God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” and He took something out of the man to create a woman. Then He put them together to complete each other. In many ways, men and women really do need each other to be complete.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Electrons Are Essential for Life

Electrons Are Essential in the Elements of Life
Everyone knows that electrons allow us to have computers and other electrical devices, but you may not realize how many ways electrons are essential. The mass, charge, magnetic properties, and spin of electrons are all designed to make life possible. It is amazing that something far too small for us to see is so important.

The changing momentum of electrons creates light which is essential for life. Electrons are also the fundamental cause of all that happens in chemistry. Atoms bond with other atoms to make molecules by exchanging or by sharing electrons. The complex organic molecules in your body, including DNA, are held together by electrons. The properties of every element in the universe are determined by how its electrons are arranged around the nucleus.

The oxygen atom with eight electrons joins with two single-electron hydrogen atoms to form water. The arrangement of the electrons in the oxygen atom causes the oxygen/hydrogen union to form in a way that gives water its unusual properties. The arrangement of electrons and the way the atoms bond causes water to dissolve salts, freeze from the top down, form crystals when freezing, and have surface tension. Without these unique properties of water, life would not be possible on Earth.

The arrangement of the six electrons in the carbon atom allows it to form enormous numbers of carbon compounds in various patterns. Because carbon can build so many organic compounds, our carbon-based life can exist. Without the particular arrangement of electrons in oxygen and carbon, life would not be possible.

Add to carbon and oxygen more than 90 other elements and their electron arrangements, and you can see that the probability of all of this happening by chance is not reasonable. We can be sure that a Master Designer created this complex system in which electrons are essential.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Beauty in Structural Color

Beauty in Structural Color on a Peacock
Some of the most beautiful colors you will see are found in birds and butterflies. We usually think of color as coming from pigments or dyes which reflect specific colors of light. However, the most intense and beautiful colors in the feathers of birds and the wings of butterflies don’t come from pigments. These animals display beauty in structural color.

Microscopic structures create structural color within the bird’s feathers or the butterfly’s wings which interfere with the frequencies of visible light. For example, the pigment in a peacock’s feathers is brown, but when you look at a peacock, you see blue, green, and turquoise in unusual patterns. Structural color can create color effects more intense than pigments, and structural color doesn’t fade like pigments. Structural color can even create an effect called iridescence in which colors change depending on the viewing angle. You can see this effect when you look at a CD or DVD.

What is the purpose of the colors in birds? The purpose may be for camouflage, to attract mates, or to indicate dominance. But in many cases, the colors seem to give no advantage. The beautiful colors merely exist for the beauty. When there is no evolutionary advantage for the colors, how did they get there? We humans appreciate beauty and enjoy looking at the beautiful colors. Could it be that colorful birds and butterflies were created by a Designer who is an artist who loves beauty, and who created us in His image. Could it be possible that God created the beauty in structural color for us to enjoy?
–Roland Earnst © 2018