People have a fascination with wood, and we admire the beauty of wooden tables and furniture. Our love for wood is not just aesthetic because wood is also very practical for many uses. However, some people were concerned about bacteria on wooden toys and especially food contamination by bacteria on wooden cutting boards. For that reason, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommended using plastic cutting boards rather than wooden ones.
The USDA said that it seemed to be common sense that non-porous surfaces like plastic would be less likely to hold bacteria and would be easier to keep clean and germ-free. For years, they advised against wooden cutting boards. However, they had to admit that they had no scientific studies to support that recommendation. It was just common sense.
Microbiologists at the University of Wisconsin in Madison tried to find decontamination techniques to make wood as safe as plastic. They found that if they inoculated wooden boards with either salmonella, listeria, or E.coli (all food poisoning agents), 99% of the bacteria were gone after 12 hours at room temperature. However, when they treated a plastic surface in the same way, the bacteria count increased after 12 hours. The bottom line is that, when left overnight, the bacteria on plastic multiplied, but the bacteria on wooden cutting boards died.
The researchers concluded that “wooden cutting boards are not a hazard to human health, but plastic cutting boards may be.” They proved that wood has anti-bacterial properties that plastic polymers don’t have. The researchers tested maple, birch, beech, black cherry, basswood, butternut, and American black walnut with the same results. Also, they found that bacteria on wooden cutting boards died whether the wood was new or old.
There are two things we can learn from this experiment. First, the USDA officials said they based their recommendation of acrylic or other non-porous materials on common sense and not scientific data. They had not done any research. When the scientific data came in, it showed that common sense was wrong. This is an excellent example of why we should “follow the science.” Secondly, for thousands of years, people had cut meat and prepared foods on surfaces made of the natural wood that God gave us. This experiment shows that the Designer of wood knew what He was doing.
One of the most interesting stories in the history of science is ether and the nature of light. Scientists devised the theory of ether to explain the actions of light.
For many years, scientists thought of light as a wave. The reason was that light did wave-like things. It could experience interference when two out-of-phase light waves canceled each other. Light could refract and diffract, which are things waves can do.
The problem was that light also did things that only particles could do. For example, light could knock electrons out of certain materials causing what is known as the photoelectric effect. That means that light has mass. Waves don’t have mass. The problem became more complex when considering how light from the Sun reaches the Earth. Waves can’t go through a vacuum, and yet light gets here from the Sun.
To resolve this issue, scientists proposed that space was not a vacuum but was full of something called ether. They thought ether must be the substance that was being waved so light could travel through it. In 1887, two scientists, Albert Michelson and Edward Morely, built a device that could measure the speed of light. Their actual purpose was to measure the movement of the ether by measuring the speed of light as Earth moved relative to the Sun. Their result showed that the speed of light was the same regardless of Earth’s position or motion. This created more questions about ether and the nature of light.
It was up to Albert Einstein to answer those questions. In simple terms, he explained that light is a substance that moves independently of the observer. The speed of light is a universal constant. Today we know that light has both wave and particle properties and always travels at a constant speed. High school students can duplicate the measuring techniques and see the dual nature of light in the laboratory. Welcome to the wonderful world of relativity.
Ether and the nature of light were no longer so mysterious. Ether did not exist, and it was not necessary. The speed of light is part of virtually every physics equation. It allows us to understand the atomic bomb, measure distances in space, and understand time and the age of the creation. It provides the foundation of quantum theory and even shows up in equations describing thermodynamics and chemistry interactions. Light is two-dimensional, having no thickness in the direction it moves. When light is stopped by a barrier, its energy turns into heat, so the object stopping the light does not gain mass.
Discovering the nature of light is a story of how science works. We can propose a theory and test it with experiments. In that way, we can come to understand things we observe in nature. What science once considered to be factual (like ether) may turn out to be incorrect. The speed of light is a constant in a world that is in continuous change. God’s creation is more strange and wonderful than any of us realize or can imagine.
It is becoming more and more difficult for the naysayers to deny that we are facing climate change. Some areas are experiencing too much rain, while others are facing catastrophic drought. It is hard to miss the changes in ocean temperatures and how that is affecting ocean life. People have offered all kinds of solutions to stop or reverse what is going on in the world’s climate, but the solutions are expensive and unproven. Perhaps we need to turn to God’s solution for climate change.
Science News published an extensive series of reports under the title “Can Trees Save the World.” The subject matter is broken into three major topics: (1) The Promise and Pitfall of Trees (2) First, Protect Today’s Forests (3) The Forested Farms of the Future. The articles point out the many things trees do to provide climates in which humans can survive.
For example, trees capture and sequester carbon, break up the soil, and inject nutrients into all kinds of soils. Trees provide food for a wide variety of life forms, including humans. Those food sources include fruit, fungus, and plant materials. The report gives an encouraging message of how trees can change the climate situation that threatens humans today,
It is worth noting that according to the Genesis account, the first form of life God created was plants (Genesis 1:11). This was before He established the Sun and Moon as controllers of “signs and for seasons and for days and for years.” The sequence of plants in these verses is “deshe” (grasses), “eseb” (herbs – gymnosperms), and finally “ets peri zera” (tree yielding fruit whose seed is in itself).
Scientific evidence shows that plants were major factors in producing a climate that would allow humans to exist. It seems that correcting our climate problems should involve repeating what God used initially to prepare the planet for human life. We need to turn to God’s solution for climate change.
As we said yesterday, science cannot detect 68.3% of the energy in the cosmos, but we know it is there because of its effect on the galaxies. Also, today’s scientists cannot detect 26.8% of the mass in the universe, but they know it is there because of gravity. They call it “dark matter.” To make their theories work, scientists now say that there must be a bizarre form of matter that does not affect or interact with light, visible or invisible, in any way. They call this hypothetical particle which cannot be seen or detected, “the axion.” The axion would explain dark matter, but the big question is how can we detect it?
As science attempts to understand the nature of the world we live in, it becomes evident that the creation is not just the physical world that our senses can detect. Seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling, and tasting are wonderful, but they are just physical manifestations of something far more significant.
For Christians, this is not the mystery that it might be to an atheist. Hebrews 11:3 says it well: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” My physics studies have convinced me that the world we can see is just a snippet of the total creation.
We are beginning to understand that there are many dimensions beyond what our senses perceive. Even when we extend our senses with machines, we still cannot detect the axion. The wonder of creation simply brings us back to the Psalmist’s song: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalms 19:1). The cry of wisdom in Proverbs 8:22-23 reminds us of our limitations: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way before His works of old I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or before the Earth existed.”
Remember that “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3). Science is a friend of faith, and God has given us a limited view of what He has done. The full scope of creation is beyond our comprehension, but science helps fill in some gaps in our understanding. Perhaps someday science will find the axion.
One of the fascinating problems scientists face as they investigate the creation is the antimatter dilemma. Einstein’s famous equation e=mc2 tells us that energy and mass are directly related. We know that mass can be turned into energy, which is the basis of the atomic bomb and nuclear power generation.
Complex experiments have allowed scientists to turn energy into mass, producing two kinds of matter. One kind of matter is the ordinary kind that we all know about – negative electrons, positive protons, and neutrons with no charge. The other kind of matter is the opposite of ordinary matter. The nucleus of this antimatter has negatively charged protons and electrons with a positive charge, called positrons. When antimatter comes in contact with ordinary matter, they destroy each other and revert to the energy from which they came.
Antimatter atoms do exist, and scientists can produce them in the laboratory. They must be stored in magnetic fields because they would destroy any container made of ordinary matter. If the universe was created by turning energy into matter, there should be equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the cosmos. The antimatter dilemma is how did our kind of matter get isolated so that we can exist?
We can’t tell if the stars we see are made of matter or antimatter. That is because the light coming from them is not matter, so antistar radiation and normal star radiation would look the same. The process that propels nuclear reactions in stars produces gamma rays. The gamma rays that the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is detecting are not what normal stars would produce. For that reason, astrophysicists believe they are seeing emissions from antimatter stars.
The Bible tells us that God is energy (light – 1 John 1:5). Because of that, God could create the universe by simply taking some energy and turning it into matter. Suggesting that the creation process was not guided by intelligence means some unknown force solved the antimatter dilemma by separating matter and antimatter at the point of creation. Of course, that does not explain the origin of energy. Researchers say that finding evidence for antimatter stars “would be a major blow for the standard cosmological model.”
“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” is a very simple statement, but the presence of antimatter tells us that what God did is incredibly complex. This is real creation and speaks once again of God’s wisdom and power.
This ministry is designed to show that science and the Bible are friends and not enemies. Because of human-devised theologies and a poor understanding of science, some people claim that the Bible and scientific evidence are at odds. The fact is that all valid scientific evidence agrees 100% with what the Bible actually says in the original language. We say that science supports faith in God.
The word “science” means knowledge. Science arrives at knowledge by a methodology that involves making a theory about a question and then designing experiments to determine whether that theory is true. The media, and even some in the scientific establishment, will make a proposal, accept it as fact and not allow it to be tested. The result is that people attribute things to science, of which true science is not guilty.
A scientific discipline that has drawn much attention in Christian circles is geology. This has developed because of the invention of a theology that draws attention to physical theories and ignores the spiritual. This theological approach is called dispensationalism, and it has a restrictive way of interpreting the events in the Old Testament. It regards Jesus as a military figure who will return to engage in a physical war with human political entities on Earth, such as Russia and China. Jesus spent a large amount of time attempting to lead people away from this kind of thinking. He told them, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
So how can we say science supports faith in God? Proverbs 8 finds personified wisdom speaking about God’s actions. Verses 22-29 tell us that God established clouds (verse 28), brought forth the mountains (verse 25), and made the fields (verse 26). It does not tell us how He did it. Scientific studies have found that water, dust (condensation nuclei), and cool temperatures make a cloud. Geologic studies show plate tectonics and volcanism are processes that God used to make the mountains. Geology also tells us that fields are carefully crafted from sand, organic material, and various minerals that growing plants need. In Job chapters 38 to 41, God challenged Job to explain many things he could see around him. Today, science supports faith in God by helping us understand the wisdom required for God to do many of those things.
Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the Earth. Creating a planet on which living things can survive and a place where humans can grow and prosper requires massive complexity. The passage is not dated or timed, nor does it tell us how God did the creating. Geology has helped us understand how God formed the minerals required for life. Science helps us understand the processes that formed the various soils on which life depends. We know about nutrients and the processes needed to create them, most of which are included in that brief verse of Genesis 1:1. The fact that science has learned how God formed these resources allows us to locate them. Our search for oil, coal, phosphate, sulfur, iron, and other minerals has been successful because we know how God created those vital substances.
The Bible tells us that God created time and that one day to Him is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day (2 Peter 3:8). Quantum mechanics is now helping us understand the nature of time as a created entity that has not always existed. We must not allow our thinking to restrict God’s actions to what we mortal humans can do or understand. Isaiah 55:8-9 finds God pointing out that His thoughts and methods are superior to ours. Science supports faith in God because He has left a trail of evidence that we are slowly learning to understand.
On the morning of May 26, 2021, the Moon will turn red in what some people refer to as a “blood moon.” Is this a fulfillment of Acts 2:20-21? Certainly not. It is merely another lunar eclipse.
Unfortunately, most of us in the United States will see little or none of it. In the western part of the country, the penumbral stage will begin as the Moon sets in the west. The umbral, or complete, stage will only be visible along a slice of the Pacific coast, in western Alaska, and all of Hawaii. It will also be visible across the International Dateline into parts of Asia and Australia.
There are several lessons this event can teach us. The first one is theological and has to do with how we read the Bible. To correctly understand this Bible passage, you have to look at who said it, to whom, why, and how the people it was addressed to would have understood it. Acts 2:14-40 is Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost. Peter spoke to the Jews who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate an event peculiar to the Jews, and he quoted Joel 2:28-32. The Jews understood “the last days” to refer to the Messiah’s coming as prophesied in Isaiah. Everyone understood the Moon turning to blood was a symbol of the great change that was coming.
So how do we know that the “moon will turn to blood” on May 26? God constructed the universe with such design and intelligence that we can tell when the Moon will enter the umbra of a lunar eclipse, and we can know that to the second. We also know that the Sun’s light shining through Earth’s atmosphere colors the Moon red while refracting the blue light away. What we see reflected from the Moon is that red light. This event has no spiritual significance. The last total lunar eclipse took place on January 21, 2019. Unlike the return of Christ, we can accurately predict when another lunar eclipse will be.
We see God’s wisdom and design in the precision of the creation and the remarkable position of the Moon and Earth allowing Earth’s shadow to fall on the Moon. As they have in the past, some people will try to use another lunar eclipse for religious purposes, but our plea is to count this as one more evidence that science and faith are symbiotic. The only religious significance of the things we see in the sky is to remind us of God’s power and design.
We received the following article on COVID-19 vaccines and design from Phillip Eichman. He is one of our readers who has a doctorate in biology and writes for us from time to time.
The politics and debate surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines have obscured the intrinsic beauty of the cellular mechanism that makes these vaccines possible. Earlier vaccines that many of us received, such as smallpox and polio vaccines, contained a weakened or inactivated virus. The COVID-19 vaccines contain only a tiny piece of viral genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA).
The amount of research and development that went into these vaccines is amazing. Scientists first determined the genome of the virus, then isolated the genes and produced a functional piece of viral mRNA. When injected into your shoulder, this viral mRNA directs the production of a viral protein that your immune system recognizes as foreign, ultimately resulting in immunity to the virus. When I took a molecular biology course as an undergraduate in the early 1970s, something like these vaccines might have seemed more like science fiction than basic science.
Clearly, the fact that these mRNA vaccines have been developed and appear to function as expected shows us that living things are not merely a random bunch of parts thrown together. Rather, they are exceedingly complex, finely tuned machines that result from intelligent planning and design. COVID-19 vaccines and design provide further evidence that the universe did not just happen.
Japanese scientists have released a study of autotomy and decapitation in sea slugs. Researchers found that two species of sea slugs have the amazing ability to separate their heads from their bodies. The sea slug’s head continues to move while it regenerates a heart and other organs.
Autotomy is not a new phenomenon in the animal world. Many of us have seen lizards drop their tails to avoid predators. The tail continues to move to distract the predator while the lizard escapes. But this is the first instance where an animal drops its entire body. Both lizards and the sea slugs can use autotomy as many times as is needed. Japanese scientists have seen specimens regrow their bodies several times.
The slug’s head gets its energy to survive from photosynthesis taking place in cells it has acquired from its algae diet. The researchers believe the sea slug releases its body to get rid of parasites. The scientific community is interested in how this could be applied to replacing human body parts.
The complexity of what appears to be a simple animal is astounding. It’s a good demonstration that God has created animals with unique properties and abilities. Autotomy and decapitation reminds us that there are many things we observe in the natural world that we may use to solve some of the problems humans face.
One of the most interesting demonstrations of design in the natural world is the way some animals build structures that provide for the needs of other animals. The work of these animal engineers creates new ecosystems for survival.
The classic North American example is the beaver, which goes to great lengths to provide a whole ecosystem that benefits other life forms. One might question whether a dam is necessary for a beaver to eat plant material and raise babies. Dam building requires the beaver to spend massive amounts, and the dam is easily destroyed. A large number of other life forms depend on beaver dams and the ponds that form behind them.
Science News (February 13, 2021) published a similar example found in Australia. Life forms in northwestern Australia have to survive in a challenging environment with little water and extreme heat. How do all those animals survive in the harsh conditions?
The answer to that question is large monitor lizards. Two species of monitor lizards dig holes that are up to 13 feet (4 m) deep with numerous side channels. The monitor lizard lays its eggs at the bottom of the long, spiral-shaped tunnel. After the monitor lizard abandons the nest, other animals use the side channels to escape the extreme environment above ground. Arthropods, toads, snakes, lizards are included in 28 different vertebrate species using the abandoned monitor lizard lairs. Researchers have found up to 750 creatures in a single monitor’s pit and side channels.
Like the beaver, monitor lizards provide an environment that allows life in a place where survival is difficult. In the natural world, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. That is not true when animal engineers are needed to allow a diversity of life in a challenging environment. The more we learn of God’s creation, the more examples we find of intelligence and design, which frequently involve animal engineers.