Category Archives: Intelligent Design

Apologetics, 1 Peter 3: 15

Christian apologetics has become a pretty hot area in the last few years. Seems to me that Christians are starting to get serious about their faith, especially Christian men. The Lutheran Hour Men’s Network that I was part of starting a few years ago and very  ably led by a layman Geoff Abendschoen, became very involved in group studies of Christian apologetics.

The word apologetics, apologist, not someone who’s worried about past failings. You’re not saying you’re sorry about something. It is from the Greek word ἀπολογία apologia. To defend: “Christian apologetics (Greek: ἀπολογία, “verbal defence, speech in defence”) is a branch of Christian theology that aims to present historical, reasoned, and evidential bases for Christianity, defending it against objections.” (Wikipedia In his epistle Peter writes ”

1 Peter 3: 15; “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

Peter uses the word  ἀπολογία in his epistle. We have to have a good reason why we believe what we believe. We have to be able to understand it well enough in order to articulate it to someone who is either a non-Christian (and they are a lot more common today, I was one). Or to defend against those who are actively antagonistic towards the Christian faith. I will stipulate that it usually doesn’t work against those who are antagonistic. Frankly they are very set in their belief, they are not interested in changing their beliefs and if anything, have chosen to oppose your Christian belief. They are not interested in other points of view and really never make critical examinations or understanding of their own points of view. I know Christians are often accused of that mind set, but I’ve seen it a lot more in secularists. They really don’t have a good understanding of theology, of philosophy, of science, etc, and they really don’t care. “It’s all about what I can see, touch, quantify and everything else is fantasy…” Something to that effect. Well, there’s a whole lot in the world that we know is there, but we really can’t explain it. Try explaining electricity or gravity to start with.

When I was in seminary (Concordia Seminary, St Louis, Mo, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod), apologetics was actively discouraged. I certainly understand why, being a Christian is based in faith, the faith that God gives us to believe. We don’t need to have a hard and fast reason. God gives us the faith we need, one of the “solas”, Sola Fide, by faith alone. God gives it to us and we aren’t going to talk someone else into faith through apologetics.

Yes, I get it, and we should never expect that analysis of history, philosophy, theology etc, will make us Christians, it won’t, only the Holy Spirit will. However, we still have Peter’s urging and there are still people out there weak in their faith and knowledgeable clergy and lay people have a responsibility to articulate their faith. Interestingly, the LC-MS’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), has published a report buttressing the need for apologetics. The CTCR’s concern is particularly in the area of “scientism”, this is a belief system that has arisen in the last few decades where “believers”, the “faithful”, trust entirely in whatever they can quantify in science. Needless to say this is a stand that is very tenuous. Science certainly doesn’t have the answer to everything, in fact, many times, scientific answers aggravate a situation. Look at medical science, it has made incredible strides, but, first, we are all going to die. Second, remember the last time you heard a television ad for a medication? Wanna stay healthy? Stay away from taking medications. The world is in desperate need of hope and promise and Jesus gave that 2,000 years ago and based on His resurrection, I know what my ultimate reality will be, the New World of the resurrection.

As I said apologetics was kind of discouraged when I was in seminary (for the record that was actually this century, I graduated in 2010). The CTCR, came out with its report in 2015 saying:

“There is something of a renaissance of apologetics both inside and outside the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), and this is a great opportunity to forge alliances between theologians, scientists, philosophers, and professional apologists in our church for the sake of defending the faith. While the Word of God has its own authority independent of reason, scientific apologetics can play an important role in creating the intellectual and cultural space that allows the Gospel a fair hearing. To be sure, reason cannot produce faith. But it can clear away misconceptions and refute erroneous worldviews that lead people to reject the Christian claim out of hand. Christian scientists and philosophers can help here by marshaling evidence that this is a created world and that human beings are a special part of it. This task has become more important because of the rise of the New Atheism, which seeks to use materialistic science to discredit revealed religion.”

“This report will provide guidance and encouragement to a number of constituencies who seek to combat scientism (italics mine) and recover the sense of science as a vocation which glorifies God and provides beneficial services to the neighbor. These constituencies include:

  1. Students, teachers and investigators in the sciences;
  2. Pastors and other church workers who minister to those involved in the sciences n regular congregations and in campus ministry.
  3. Administrators and teachers at Christian high schools and universities who would like input to help them think through the hard task of integrating the Christian faith with science education;
  4. Non-scientific Christian laity whose faith is being attacked as an unscientific relic of the past.

(In Christ All Things Hold Together The Intersection of Science and Christian Theology A Report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod February 2015 p 12)

It kind of stuns me to talk to a lay-person who is telling me how Christians are just talking myths and it’s all about science, and the person obviously has no understanding of genuine science. Most genuine scientists today will agree that there has to have been some kind of Intelligent Design of the universe, down to the very basics of the universe. Take the cell, DNA. There is no way that either could have come about accidentally. Anyone who tells you otherwise is making it up. In fact most genuine scientists will stipulate that DNA is an incredibly sophisticated code. If there’s a code, then there has to be a Coder. The same can be said in terms of our environment on earth, our position in the solar system, even the galaxy. Yet people who have no idea of any of these concepts will look me in the faith and tell me Christianity is just myth. Jesus is the most studied man in the entire history of mankind, there is no doubt that He lived and no reason to discard what the Bible says He did. If you did that you would have to reject the entire all of antiquity. Jesus has been studied more than anyone, if you can’t accept His life and what He did, you can’t accept anything prior to modern history (14th century, give or take). Frankly I just don’t have enough faith to be an atheist, or believe in Scientism, (sounds a little too close to Scientology for me).

God created an incredible universe, the only way that creation could have come about is by a Creator. To believe in anything else is to either be in complete denial, or simply ignorant of the facts. We have way too many people today who create their own reality and deny, well, reality! Our society today has become not just less intellectual, but if anything anti-intellectual, mostly brought about by those who presume to be intellectual and are simply not. The lack of critical thinking in today’s society is stunning. Deny Christianity? Sure, and for no good reason. Believe what you see on the Internet or CNN? Sure, because that’s based on science. I had a person tell me once that Einstein proved that everything is relative, his theory of relativity. There’s a lot of people reading this right now who will say “sure, that’s right”. His theory of relativity was about how light travels, how time slows down the closer we travel to the speed of light. Nothing about how your belief system is just as valid as another. Sorry, as I said, I can’t have scientific knowledge and believe that there’s no Creator. That’s a psychotic mindset.

Based on this, we Christians do need to become much more sophisticated in all the basic subjects. We need to be much more critical in our thinking and ready to assert that. We are in the midst of an ignorant and lazy society that expects us to believe non-sense and reject Christ. That’s ridiculous and we have a duty, 1 Peter 3:15 to defend the faith, present it to those around us, especially those who are weak in the faith and might fall from salvation believing the world’s ignorance.

Intelligent Design vs statistical probability.

Oh, I took statistics in college and no I did not distinguish myself. Nonetheless, I did get the concepts, I may not really understand how to construct a “bell curve” or know how to figure out how many sigmas I need to go to the left or right of the top of the “bell curve”. I do understand that when all factors are calculated and the outcome is the actual statistical probability of an event happening or not happening (called “standard deviation”, ohhhh I remembered that!) . I know how to drive a 41′ boat. I don’t necessarily need to know all the intricacies of putting that boat together.

For too many people who have never had to take any statistical analysis, didn’t even go to college, they will still look you in the eye and insist it’s all about evolution. OK, here’s the cut to the chase; it just can’t be, it’s scientifically impossible. More so, the way our environment from the smallest cell to the hugest galaxy show every sign of being designed it could not have been an accident! Which means it didn’t happen by accident, it had to have been made that way. Any who tries to tell you, from your average high school science teacher, to the neighbor who has a degree in English literature to the guy who barely graduated high school tells you it’s all about evolution, they don’t know what they’re talking about and if they had any knowledge of statistical probability they would know it’s impossible.

I do realize there are a lot of people with a whole lot of letters beside their name who insist on evolution. Why people who claim to be scientists and yet reject scientific reality? These are people who are “scientism fundamentalists”, they can’t allow for a “creator”, everything had to have come together accidentally, some type of “natural selection/interaction”. Despite the fact that what they postulate couldn’t happen statistically, biologically, chemically, just couldn’t and yet these fundamentalists who pose as scientists in our high schools, colleges, industry & research, continue to proselytize in favor of fundamentalism. I can’t remember who said it, but I just don’t have the faith to be an atheist. Atheists, scienticismists, all believe that things came together accidentally and in a way that promotes very sophisticated eco-systems and very sophisticated life, you and me. Many, maybe most scientists today are not locked in this narrow-minded faith system and do look at the facts and concede that the universe is too perfectly designed to happen by accident. The president of our synod, Rev Dr Matthew Harrison, wrote this: “..The most shocking thing is the repeated discovery of order – ordered genetic information in biology and complex order in the universe. It was famously asserted that the probability of life coming about randomly would be about the same odds as a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and assembling a 747, fully fueled and read for takeoff. Atheism requires too much faith for me.” (Lutheran Witness March 2017 p 1) Really a 747 would be a tinker-toy compared to the vast complexity of our universe. Yet those in scientism insist on living in their world of denial: “There can’t be a god, because we wouldn’t be in command, a greater power would hold us responsible for what we do, we can’t have that. We’re god and that’s the way it should be.” Yea, I’ve met these people living in a world of fantasy and denial, just so they can have their way and don’t have to be responsible for a higher problem. Worse yet they insist on dragging others down with them in their fundamentalist zeal.

Competition keeps you focused

Yea, competition is, in our politically correct little La-La Land, a bad word. But since most of the politically correct don’t really have a proper appreciation of gender differences, they want to live a quiet mediocre little life, really can’t adapt or accept differences (despite their rhetoric) we feel we have to accommodate the mediocre and unmotivated among us.

We really don’t frankly, they should be ignored, because they just don’t know what they’ve talking about and just don’t care. Their responses are usually emotional outbursts, although they condemn that in other people. They’re usually little bullies, physically, only if they can get away with it or emotionally. They will resort to petulant adolescent outbursts, instead of reason and resolution, despite what they think they’re not very smart, and they can’t understand why someone would respond emotionally. It’s their way or no way. Yea, I know, being a little harsh. The fact that there are those out there who are weak, passive or whiney is not an excuse to stomp on them either. Quietly correct them and move on. They will fuss at you as you’re leaving and will try the usual passive/aggressive undermining, but be assured no one really takes them seriously. For the rest of us who want to move on and actually do something in our lives we are the stronger and have to live that out when dealing with the, frankly, weaker and unmotivateable. Ya, I know that’s not a word, but it is descriptive.

The impetus for this rant is an article in Mens Health (May 2015 pp 130-134) The writer (couldn’t find his name) writes about personal rivals. Ya, that can get ugly sometimes, but the fact is that if you’re doing anything with your life, you will have rivals: “If you don’t think you have a rival, that could be your first problem. There is truth in one Holly wood agent’s assertion that ‘you’re no one in this town unless someone wants you dead.'” Ya, again a little harsh, but if you’re not worthy of someone else’s, let’s say dislike, you are just part of the mediocre crowd. Again, competition is not an excuse for playing dirty, lying, cheating, etc. It’s a way to motivate and strengthen.

For those of us who are Christians, we see rivals all through the Bible. God’s people simply had to stand up to their rivals in order for us to move along according to God’s will. The early Christians had the Jewish establishment and the Romans to compete against. They could have passively rolled over to them, but they knew what was right and took a strong, principled stand and so should we as Christian men in our daily life.

The author of the article points out: “Our recurring competitive bouts against known rivals ratchet up anxiety, excitement and also performance. Oddly, considering that rivals date back at least to Cain and Abel, the science of rivalry is relatively new,…” Yes, that was not a healthy rivalry and did not serve to improve anyone. Frankly it’s a better example of the nastiness of the mediocre and uninspired then it is of the positive affects of rivalry.

The writer refers to a positive example of how rivalry motivates us: “…NYU’s Gavin Kilduff, PhD studied the running community in State College, Pennsylvania he found that going up against a rival could cut 25 seconds off a competitive runners 5K time.” It may not seem like much, but I would love to be able to improve that much in a 5K, that’s a huge improvement.

“In one experiment, Uris Gneezy, PhD, an expert in behavioral economics at UC San Diego, gave people the choice to earn money at either a piece rate or a competitive basis for solving puzzles. Men (but not women) preferred to compete – going  against rivals dramatically increased their output.” There are numerous examples of the impetus of competition has created something better, and has done something difficult a lot faster. In 1961 when President John Kennedy challenged the United States to put a man on the moon before 1970, there weren’t many people around who were going to put money on that, yet because of the competition with the Soviet Union, eight years later the goal was accomplished with a few months to spare.

The writer points to Paul McCartney and John Lennon, yea, maybe not buddies, but smart enough to compete against each other and produce music that is still mainstream 40 years later.

Can women compete? Yes, of course and they do and there are many who do it in an inspiring way. God bless ’em. But again for those of the “don’t try to confuse me with the facts”, the mediocre, lazy and frankly just plain lame, competition is part of men’s makeup.

“When you’re the champ in any kind of competition, testosterone levels often quickly rise in your blood stream, says Matthew Fuxjager PhD, an assistant professor of biology at Wake Forest University.”

“Experts hypothesize that a rise in testosterone feeds your noggin’s reward system. And an influx of T may equal more receptors in brain structures that feed competitiveness and social aggression.”

For those in public education that simply can’t understand, identify with and are incapable of properly channeling this in boys, they really need to accept the facts and get out of the way, stop stifling this in boys. So many in today’s society think that they somehow get ahead by dragging someone else down, especially when they do it from ignorance and laziness. That’s not acceptable. Those who go out and accept the challenge are to be encouraged over those who prefer their laziness and passivity. In fact the writer concludes by saying that this chemical affect on a man has the affect of growing and building and helping to make life better for all of us, versus the mediocre la-la-ness. “Additional T receptors are probably still hanging around in your head long after your victory, Fuxjager says. The effect? You’ll be more likely to aggressively repeat the steps that led to your last win.”

I know this effect. Twenty-nine years in the Coast Guard competing against Mother Nature. Despite what the La-La’s think Mother Nature is an unforgivable competitor, she won’t hesitate to kill you if you make a mistake. When we went out and pulled someone out and got them to safety and help it was definitely a rush. For those who think drugs, booze, twinkies or just plain laziness is happiness, they will never know that rush. But I can tell you from personal experience, the next time I was called out, I had more knowledge, better prepared, bolder in accepting the challenge, and more motivated to pursue success. I’ll bet the person I rescued was probably pretty happy about that. For the mediocre and unmotivated they will never know that fulfillment and sit around and whine about it.

God equipped men to stand to the challenge, to be pushed to strive harder, God gave us rivals to push us and challenge us, to do things that will improve lives for other people too. It is not an excuse for men to stomp on others, to take what’s not theirs. But we should strive to serve God, our family, our community to the best of our ability and God gave us the make-up to do that and we should. God did not put us on the earth to be mediocre, passive, lazy. Read the Bible, I don’t see anyone in their that could be described positively in those ways. If someone pushes or inspires you to be a hero use that and always remember that it’s to the glory of God, His leading, His encouraging and in His service.

Pain in life, in sports, as a Christian

This is going to be some practical advice on fitness, competition, and also kind of a metaphor of life the way God made us. The subject matter is pain.

Now I will stipulate out of the box that I have probably had many more opportunities to build a tolerance for pain, in many respects, but in this context physical pain. In 29 years in the Coast Guard I was in many situations where either I was hypothermic or hyperthermic, too cold or too hot respectively. I always prefer too hot. Had bouts with motion sickness. Had many bouts with extreme fatigue. Did endure a lot of challenges of strength and physical punishment.

I also like to participate in sports. I played, a very little football. Not because I didn’t like it, I was a lousy player. I played a little basketball. You may doubt it, but basketball was probably much more physical. I had a guy come down right on the top of my head with his elbow. I’ve been elbowed straight in the face, sprained ankles a few times, and various hits. I’ve come closer to being knocked out on a basketball court, then football. I also like kick- boxing. I have built a high tolerance of pain because I went out and endured a lot of pain. In a lot of instances I had to. In more instances I wanted to be stronger and endure more so that I could serve better in what I do. The more strength and endurance I had, the more I could help those in my crew and the more I could help those who needed assistance.

One other caveat. I am not saying that you should not deal with legitimate pain. There is pain that you will experience as the result of a workout and it really feels good, it’s healthy pain. Whenever I go more than fifty miles on my bike I can feel that pain right in my seat, often for a few days. It’s not doing permanent damage, it’s also a “pleasant” reminder that I pushed a little harder and made myself a little stronger. That is a good thing. You do feel better for it.

I can hear you say “that’s nice, but I don’t like pain”. Ya, you will find it strange, but I have found that the exhilaration of taking a shot that you hadn’t before and realizing you’re still fine and a little stronger for it is a rush. Ya, I have bad eating habits myself, and I could stand to lose at least another 15 pounds. But for those of you who are reaching for your next twinkie and can’t begin to grasp the idea of enduring pain, you need to get a grip. Yes, there is bad pain, and for those of you who spend most of life sitting around playing video games or watching television you need to go to a doctor and make sure you can do more physical activity. But, I know this is really ground-breaking, if you put away the junk food, put away the screen(s), figure out what would be best for you to do, and do it. You will feel better. God made your body in order to feel good when you do the right things, and feel bad when you abuse it. You can say that it makes you feel good to sit in front of a screen and chain swill twinkies. But inevitably I will hear the same person say that they don’t feel well, physically, mentally and socially. We all have issues, but in terms of making them worse, sitting around and abusing your body with inactivity and bad food is going to make you feel worse. Eating well and pushing yourself will leave you feeling better, you will still have issues, but those issues won’t be so all consuming as I’ve seen it with people who just pursue bad habits and life style. I wish that our government would make the same campaigns against diabetes that it does about smoking. Diabetes is far more of a critical issue, I know a lot of people with diabetes, don’t know one with lung cancer. The biggest health issue in this country is by far diabetes, and we are raising our children to be diabetic in their 30’s. This is health crisis that is completely out of control and it’s all due to lousy diet and lack of physical conditioning. Wow talk about controllable elements!

God made our bodies in order to grow stronger, to endure pain and to also through chemical means endure that pain, to make it almost an addiction. There are many who would claim to be “addicted” to exercise. I know that I don’t feel very well if I don’t exercise on a regular, if not daily basis. Part of that “addiction” is a hormone that God has given human beings the ability to create called “endorphins”. Endorphins are an opiate, I’ve seen it described as three times more powerful than morphine. The trick though is that endorphins, along with other “feel good” body chemicals, are released through exercise and proper body maintenance. Sitting around will give you a dose of “dopamine”, but it will act more to cloud your brain and make you feel more lethargic, than to make you feel good!

Having said all this, there are ways to “increase your pain tolerance” and you should, we have a responsibility to ourselves, each other and to God who gave us a strong, healthy body, at least initially, to make ourselves stronger. Otherwise we become a burden and make things tougher for those around us.

In terms of sports, I saw this article in “Triathlete Magazine” (Mackenzie Havey March 2015 p 54). One reason we don’t push a little harder is that we don’t want to feel pain. The article says: “Published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers had a group of cyclists perform sprint interval tests on bikes, giving them either 1.5 grams of acetaminophen (pain reliever, aka generic Tylenol) or a placebo prior to exercise. They then monitored their power output and heart rate during each sprint, finding that when they took acetaminophen, the participants had a significantly greater mean power output.”

“…They concluded that their findings ‘supported the notion that exercise is regulated by pain perception and increased pain tolerance can improve exercise capacity.'”

Yes, I know, horrors, the idea that you actually have to suffer a little. Come on in day-to-day life you have to “suffer” in order to achieve something. Work 8 hours (let’s hope you’re really ‘working’, I’ve seen enough of the “working man” who whines about how he works and I see way too many people chatting and lolly-gagging versus working). “Suffer” 8 hours and get paid so you can live some kind of life. Hopefully you endure the fussing of children in order to try and raise them to be responsible adults. So the idea that you have to push a little to make yourself healthier shouldn’t be a surprise or a daunting chore.

Let me explain to you how the body works. The muscles in your body and incidentally that includes your heart and what you need to make your lungs function, need to grow. If you don’t do what’s necessary to make them grow, they become weaker. Hence cardio/pulmonary problems arise when you don’t strengthen them. In general, exercise breaks apart your muscle. Sounds scary, but unless you tear the muscle up a little, it can’t repair itself into something stronger. Forcing your heart to work at a higher rate (the average person has a heart rate of about 75 beats per minute. I have workouts that get my heart rate up to 175 beats per minute). If you are not conditioned for it, do not try to raise your heart beat that high. But even getting it into the 110s, makes your heart work harder and strengthens it. To do that you have to endure pain, but done right, it’s good pain. “…higher pain tolerance and increased performance go hand in hand. Luckily, with a bit of hard work, you can naturally boost that tolerance – and thereby performance – without running to the medicine cabinet.” Goes on to say that consistent training enables you to achieve a higher pain tolerance.

You do need recovery, if you keep breaking the muscles down, they won’t have a chance to repair and build more: “If you are focused on suffering all the time, you get tired and have no reserve, which lowers pain threshold.” And I’m here to tell you the time after that workout feels oh so nice. If you’ve been cold (I just finished doing a 13 mile bike ride in 40 degree weather), you feel nice and toasty and you have a very calm mindset. This is because your body was designed by God to kick in hormones to help you with pain. As I referred to one hormone that kicks in is called “dopamine” It tends to calm your body after significant exercise. During exercise your body kicks in “endorphins”. Endorphins gives your body a narcotic effect, they are an opiate. But an opiate that is designed by God to naturally relieve pain and to give you more strength during stress along with adrenaline to give you more energy and to withstand more stress. By the way, for you vegetarians, these are all the result of amino acids, which comes from protein. The most effective protein humans can eat are fish, chicken, eggs, beef. So this goofy idea that just eating vegetables is good for you? Overall? No, not really. But again it’s an issue of conditioning. If you’re conditioning your heart to be stronger it can deal with a little cholesterol. And a lot of these phoney cholesterol studies never really took into account some people’s natural tendency to have higher cholesterol.

Finally these all help to increase the flow of Serotonin, aided by our favorite turkey dinner chemical tryptophan, which both calm and help you to sleep, but both of these are also the body’s reaction to the chemicals that are released in order to strengthen and increase reaction. God made us to be incredibly resilient and to also help us to grow and be stronger. “But I’m too old”, yea? No! Our bodies can benefit from exercise well into old age. Heck I’ve heard enough stories of guys who realized in their mid-50s they couldn’t keep doing what they were doing and started to work out and they’re now doing Ironman Triathlons. So it can be done and is being done on a regular basis by regular Joe’s and Jane’s.

Again do not start a workout routine until you’ve been checked by a physician. There are conditions that physical activity will worsen. I would strongly suggest you pay a trainer too. I’ve been doing aerobic and strength workouts on a regular basis since I was in my teens, 40 years. But for someone starting even in their twenties, you can only go so far so fast, your body needs to build up to a certain level. Having said that the longer you wait, the longer it will take you to get to a healthy level.

We can far exceed what we think we can tolerate. Our mind usually has a much lower sense of what we can tolerate and your mental state will cause you to take your foot off the pedal when you really do have more in the tank. “…known as the Central Governor theory, says that it’s not our bodies but our brains that shut us down in an effort to either avoid harm or simply an aversion to pain…”(“Ask Bicycling” Bicycling Magazine June 2015 p 34) “…The power of suggestion is strong regardless of the message. In a 2007 study subjects experienced a 15 percent increase in pain tolerance with just the suggestion that they received morphine (they really got saline). The same concept supports the idea that we can fool ourselves into going faster. A 2012 study found that when cyclists raced a 4km time trial against a virtual competitor (that in fact was riding 1.7 percent quicker than their previous best all-out effort)m they still “won the race”. This means if you can overcome your mental reservations, ignore your brain, quit talking yourself out of things, that you can go stronger and longer than you think you can. Heck if I could improve performances 1.7 percent every time I worked out I’d be thrilled to death. A professional athlete who could do that would spiral into a whole other level of accomplishment.

In today’s world we talk ourselves into the idea that we should be happy and pain free, that is just not realistic and is actually unhealthy in so many ways: mentally, physically, aging, spiritually. God did not make us to be mediocre and settle for less. Granted we can’t all be Lance Armstrong or Michael Jordan etc, but we can and should be a heckuva lot better than we are. God made us to be that way by giving us such an amazing complex and strong body. Let’s quit this idea that we should be sitting around eating whatever we want and do a little more in our life. You will be better for it, your family will be, your neighborhood, your city, your church, heck can you imagine a whole society of people who have worked to their level of physical health? Our so-called “health care crisis” would evaporate instantly, our world would be so much happier and God made us to be that way. But, as usual, we give God a patronizing wave, ignore His will and take the easy way out.


Real Sciencetists who were also very real Christians

Great Scientists (left to right): Kirby, Pasteur, Newton, Carver, Maxwell, Kepler, Boyle, Bell
The greatest scientists—the ones most responsible for great discoveries—were creationists.
These include Kepler, Newton, Boyle, Bell, Kirby, Maxwell, Pasteur and Carver, among many others. Their numerous discoveries include physical astronomy, calculus, chemistry, electrodynamics, vaccination, and immunization.

They believed that, as scientists, they were “thinking God’s thoughts after Him,” learning to understand and control the laws and processes of nature for God’s glory and man’s good. They believed and practiced science in the same way that modern creationist scientists do.

Johann Kepler
Isaac Newton

Robert Boyle
Charles Bell

William Kirby
James Clerk Maxwell

Louis Pasteur
George Washington Carver

These men believed in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, as well as in the deity and saving work of Jesus Christ. They believed that God had supernaturally created all things, each with its own complex structure for its own unique purpose. More…

Free Creation News Publication Interested in more information about creation, evolution, and intelligent design? Want to know the latest take on scientific discoveries and how they affect our understanding of the Bible? Does science help us interpret the Bible or should the Bible remain the interpreter of science?

Keep up with these and other issues in ICR’s [Institute for Creation Research] monthly Acts & Facts magazine, a free, full-color periodical that deals with science from a biblical perspective. Included with your subscription is the devotional Days of Praise.
Johann Kepler
Physical Astronomy and Celestrial Mechanics
Johann Kepler is best known for discovering the three mathematical laws of planetary motion, dubbed “Kepler’s Laws,” that established the discipline of celestial mechanics. He revolutionized scientific thought by applying physics (then considered a branch of natural philosophy) to astronomy (then seen as a branch of mathematics).

Kepler defended Nicolaus Copernicus’ theory of heliocentrism and sought to reconcile it with Scripture. His Protestant beliefs won him little favor with the Catholic church, and the Lutheran church shunned him for his Calvinist sympathies. He was forced to relocate more than once to avoid persecution, as well as to escape political dangers from ongoing wars.

But Kepler stayed true to his faith, and his scientific discoveries earned him acclaim, legitimized the discoveries of his contemporary Galileo, and influenced generations of scientists that followed him.

“…and thou my soul, praise the Lord thy Creator, as long as I shall be: for out of Him and through Him and in Him are all things….To Him be praise, honour, and glory, world without end. Amen.”—J. Kepler, Harmonies of the World, 137.

These men believed in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, as well as in the deity and saving work of Jesus Christ. They believed that God had supernaturally created all things, each with its own complex structure for its own unique purpose. More…

Free Creation News Publication Interested in more information about creation, evolution, and intelligent design? Want to know the latest take on scientific discoveries and how they affect our understanding of the Bible? Does science help us interpret the Bible or should the Bible remain the interpreter of science?

Isaac Newton
Calculus and Dynamics
As a young scientist and mathematician, Sir Isaac Newton invented the generalized binomial theorem and began developing the mathematical theory that would later become calculus.

While working as a Cambridge professor, Newton’s work in optics earned him recognition by the Royal Society. And his 1687 work, The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, is considered today the single greatest work in the history of science. In it he described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, derived from Kepler’s Laws.

His work at the Royal Mint earned him knighthood in 1705, and he was elected to the French Académie des Sciences, as well as serving as President of the Royal Society in 1703. But he was also a serious student of the Bible and published several theological works. After he died in 1727, he was interred in Westminster Abbey.

“Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”—I. Newton

Robert Boyle
Chemistry and Gas Dynamics
Robert Boyle conducted scientific research into air pressure, mechanics, and chemistry—which he believed should no longer be a subordinate study of alchemy and medicine. He criticized traditional alchemists and laid the foundation for the atomic theory of matter in The Sceptical Chymist, the cornerstone work for modern chemistry. During his travels, he visited Florence, Italy, and studied with the aging Galileo Galilei. He co-founded the prestigious Royal Society in 1663.

He was also a serious student of the Bible, learning the languages of Hebrew, Cyriac, and Chaldee so that he could read the text firsthand. He promoted Christianity in the East by financially supporting missionaries and Bible translation. Upon his death in 1691, he endowed a series of lectures in his will designed to defend Christianity. The “Boyle Lectures” are held annually to this day in London, a legacy of this remarkable man of God.

“The last service that, I hope…is to induce men to pay their admiration, their praises, and their thanks, directly to God himself; who is the true and only creator of the sun, moon, earth, and those other creatures, that men call the works of nature.”—R. Boyle, 1725, The Philosophical Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle Esq: Abridged, Methodized, and Disposed Under the General Heads of Physics, Statics, Pneumatics, Natural History, Chymistry, and Medicine, 149.

Charles Bell
Anatomy and Surgery
Charles Bell had particular interest in the nervous system, and he published Idea of a New Anatomy of the Brain in 1811, now considered the “Magna Carta of neurology.” Several discoveries are named for him, including Bell’s Nerve, Bell’s Palsy/Paralysis, Bell’s Phenomenon, and Bell’s Spasm.

His scientific endeavors convinced him of the existence and necessity of the Creator. Studying the human body, he realized how dependent people are on involuntary physical processes, and he saw close-minded reliance on reason as not only ignorant, but “worse than ingratitude.”

He was familiar with uniformitarianism, which influenced the development of Darwinism, and Bell thought science should be allowed to follow the evidence—even if it leads to a supernatural origin.

“When man thus perceives, that in respect to all these vital operations he is more helpless than the infant, and that his boasted reason can neither give them order nor protection, is not his insensibility to the Giver of these secret endowments worse than ingratitude?”—C. Bell, 1852, The Fourth Bridgewater Treatise on the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Creation: The Hand; Its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evincing Design, 14

William Kirby
William Kirby and fellow British entomologist William Spence authored the four-volume An Introduction to Entomology: or Elements of the Natural History of Insects, considered the foundational work in the field of entomology.

With Spence, Kirby helped found the Entomological Society of London in 1833, to which he was appointed Honorary President for life. His vision of an Ipswitch natural history museum was realized in 1847, and he served as its president until his death in 1850.

“In no part of creation are the POWER, WISDOM, and GOODNESS of its beneficent and almighty Author more signally conspicuous than in the various animals that inhabit and enliven our globe.”—W. Kirby, 1835, The Seventh Bridgewater Treatise on the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Creation: The History, Habits and Instinct of Animals, Vol. 1, i.

James Clerk Maxwell
Electrodynamics and Statistical Thermodynamics
James Clerk Maxwell worked extensively with translating electromagnetic equations and the principles of color combinations. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1861 and published multiple papers on electromagnetism, heat, and physics.

Maxwell is held in high regard to this day in the scientific community, but few know or acknowledge his strong Christian roots or his faith in the authority of God’s Word. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species (1859) was published during Maxwell’s lifetime. Maxwell wasn’t convinced evolution was a viable theory, and he wasn’t afraid to speak on the matter.

“The consciousness of the presence of God is the only guarantee of true self-knowledge. Everything else is mere fiction, fancy portraiture—done to please one’s friends or self, or to exhibit one’s moral discrimination at the expense of character.”—J. C. Maxwell, 1858, A letter to the Rev. L. Campbell.
Robert Boyle
Louis Pasteur
Microbiology, Bacteriology, Biogenesis Law, Pasteurization, Vaccination And Immunization
Little was known about preventative medicine in the days of Louis Pasteur. Today, we owe all the discoveries in the fields of microbiology and immunology to his work. He shares the title of “father of germ theory and bacteriology” with German physician Robert Koch. He was a devout Catholic and was famously “regarded as conforming with the biblical account of the creation.”

At the time, Darwin’s theory of abiogenesis (or the idea that life was generated from non-life) reigned, but Pasteur’s systematic and exhaustive experiments disproved it, opening the way for germ theory. He had a rigorous approach to experimentation and wouldn’t make any claims until he had re-tested his hypothesis several times.

Two of his main contributions to science and medicine are the anthrax and rabies vaccines. His work set the foundation for some of the most important advances in our modern world. Pasteur was an experimentalist of the highest order, and his science was undoubtedly fueled by his faith.

“I see everywhere the inevitable expression of the Infinite in the world; through it the supernatural is at the bottom of every heart.”—L. Pasteur

George Washington Carver
Modern Agriculture
George Washington Carver revolutionized agricultural science with his cultivation of soil-enriching crops, such as peanuts and soybeans, to revive earth that had been depleted of nutrients from cotton farming. He discovered over 100 uses for the sweet potato and 300 uses for the peanut. He was offered many honors and substantial wealth from patents, but he chose not to patent his discoveries because it would take too much time and benefit too few.

Frugal in finance and humble in character, Carver was undoubtedly a deeply devoted Christian. He attributed inspiration of his work to God, and his studies of nature convinced him of the existence and benevolence of the Creator.

“If I know the answer, you can have it for the price of a postage stamp. The Lord charges nothing for knowledge, and I will charge you the same.”—G. W. Carver

Christianity is a well-rounded belief system, it understands that man is natural and spiritual. Scientism is very narrow and limited.

I couldn’t find a way to reblog the following, it’s from a young lady who appears to want to be anonymous, so I will respect that and will at least post the link to where the following came from:

This is a subject I have other material that I am going to be blogging on, this is information I never saw before, in regards to scientists who are sincere Trinitarian Christian believers. The world would have us believe that science and Christian faith are diametrically opposed. That there is the natural and the supernatural and never the twain shall meet. That of course is nonsense, let’s just start with the fact that creation came into being as a result of the supernatural (that is God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit). To deny that is simply irrational and deny the reality around us. The faith system called scientism (believes that everything is about natural law and there is no other law, everything is subject to scientific examination and if it’s not amenable to that, well it doesn’t exist.) That folks is irrational, and this from people who are claiming to be very rational????

Science exists because God created it. For millennium scientists studied nature with the supposition that what they were studying was put there by God. Well-rounded, intelligent people understand that people certainly need to be knowledgeable about the science of the world, it is part of God’s creation. At the same time understanding that man is far more than just the material, there is a spiritual side to man that is unique and how God made us. To deny that is not some kind of intellectual superiority! It’s living in a fantasy world of denial and a gross disregard of the facts.

Squid’s Tea

Exploring Photography, Poetry, God’s Word, and the Little Things In Life


Alright, first post naming Christian scientists.

Robert Grosseteste: 1175-1253
Father of the Scientific Method.  (Pretty important, no?)

Roger Bacon: (got to love that name) 1214-1292
Loved to study nature through the use of empirical methods. He’s often included in a brief list of observers who used the modern scientific method for observations and was often considered a radical by religious authorities of his time because he would question everything.  Source:

Thomas Bradwardine: 1290-1349
Reformer who examined Aristotle’s ideas critically.

I do want to say one thing… If the universe was created by an all powerful being who was a master designer, we would expect to see order, similar design between species, laws that don’t change, and complex systems.  I doubt that anyone will disagree with me on the fact that that is what we see through our microscopes!  But if the universe really did evolve from nothing, then why bother with science?  The laws that we hold so firmly (i.e. 1st and 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) will just change in the next couple hundred years, right?  If there is no stability to this world, then things cannot be tested over and over again, because things will have changed.  That’s not scientific!  Just a thought.


Christians Can Be Scientists?

In his recent debate against Ken Ham, Bill Nye (the Science Guy) cautioned parents not to teach their children creationism because we need scientists, engineers, doctors, etc. in the future.    I think he needs to learn who even paved the way for where the scientific community is right now… Christian scientists!  They all got into science for the sake of studying God’s creation!  So, to educate him, (sorry, couldn’t help throwing that in) I am going to do a series of posts on Christian scientists throughout the centuries.  I’m going to try to cover one time period per day for about 4-5 days I think.  Keep posted (no pun intended) for the first post!


Scientism vs Christian faith, they’re both faith systems

I’m rebloggin the following, you can find it on “Faith and Science News”

Wall Street Journal: Coyne’s Atheist Tract Is a “Splendid Specimen of Scientism”

David Klinghoffer June 1, 2015 3:34 PM | Permalink


I wouldn’t advise any book author to take a negative review too much to heart. However a really singeing one like science writer John Horgan’s takedown of Jerry Coyne’s atheist tract, Faith vs. Fact, must hurt.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal (“Preaching to the Converted“), Horgan agrees with evolutionary biologist Coyne about some things that might have made you expect a more positive response:

I share his enthusiasm for science — as a source of both truth and power over the world — and his concern about religion’s ill effects. I opened his book hoping to find arguments that I could borrow for my writing and teaching.

But no. In summary, “[Coyne’s] shrill, self-righteous diatribe is more likely to hurt his cause than help it.” This part struck me as germane to our concerns here:

Mr. Coyne’s loathing of creationism… leads him to exaggerate what science can tell us about our cosmic origins. Mr. Coyne asserts that “we are starting to see how the universe could arise from ‘nothing,’ and that our own universe might be only one of many universes that differ in their physical laws.” Actually, cosmologists are more baffled than ever at why there is something rather than nothing.

The popularity of multiverse theories — a hypothetical corollary of several highly speculative physics theories — merely shows how desperate scientists are for answers. Multiverse enthusiasts seem to think that the existence of an infinite number of universes will make ours appear less mysterious. The problem is, none of these other universes can be observed, which is why skeptics liken multiverse theories to untestable religious beliefs.

Mr. Coyne repeatedly reminds us that science, unlike religion, promotes self-criticism, but he is remarkably lacking in this virtue himself. He rejects complaints that some modern scientists are guilty of “scientism,” which I would define as excessive trust — faith! — in science. Calling scientism “a grab bag of disparate accusations that are mostly inaccurate or overblown,” Mr. Coyne insists that the term “be dropped.”

Actually, “Faith vs. Fact” serves as a splendid specimen of scientism. Mr. Coyne disparages not only religion but also other human ways of engaging with reality. The arts, he argues, “cannot ascertain truth or knowledge,” and the humanities do so only to the extent that they emulate the sciences. This sort of arrogance and certitude is the essence of scientism.

I was curious to see if Coyne, an active blogger if nothing else over at Why Evolution Is True, would comment on Horgan’s review. Nope. But he’s posted some really nice pictures of birds instead.

Image: “Hubble Peers into the Most Crowded Place in the Milky Way,” via NASA/ European Space Agency.

Intelligent Design the complexity of the cell and how God designed it

More and more, credible scientists, those who are looking for truth and not pursuing an agenda, are coming to terms with the understanding that so much of what they observe from the cell to the universe is fitted together so precisely that it could only be done by a all powerful Creator and Designer, what we Christians would call God.

More and more science is seeing “intelligent Design” as unavoidable. Just the intricate design of the cell, of which the human body consists of millions, could simply not have happened by accident.

The problem is, that the fundamentalists, the biased priests of the faith of “Evolution”, “Darwinism”, live in a state of constant denial. Don’t try to confuse me with  the facts of actual science, my faith dictates that there is no God. Part of that is the result of being hurt, suffering trauma and striking back at God. Another reason is that they have a particular life style, and like a 15 year old adolescent, tenaciously clinging to their sin instead of submitting to a loving, forgiving Father, they simply deny God and try to sell everyone that they should live however they want in order to “be happy”, “be fulfilled”. You know “don’t judge me” whine. Well we’ve certainly seen the results in society, slavery to sin of substance abuse, sexual addiction, worshipping money, things, lifestyles and just refusing to realize the destructive results.

I could certainly go on, I doubt anyone out there would argue with me on that, but I thought I would straight reblog from an actual scientist. Dr Howard Glicksman MD is a Medical Doctor in private practice in Florida. I have taken his blogs off the Discovery Institute in which he writes about the cell. I have also included the link to the “Discovery Institute” which consists of writings from objective scientists on many issues.

How the Body Works: Intelligent Design in Action

Howard Glicksman February 26, 2015 5:00 AM | Permalink

Editor’s note: Engineers and physicians have a special place in the community of thinkers and scholars who have elaborated the argument for intelligent design. Perhaps that’s because, more than evolutionary biologists, they are familiar in very practical ways with the challenges of designing or maintaining a functioning complex system on the order of a jet airplane, or the human body. With that in mind, Evolution News & Views is delighted to introduce a new series, “The Designed Body,” and to welcome Howard Glicksman MD as a contributor. A graduate of the University of Toronto (1978), he presently practices palliative medicine for a hospice organization. Here, Dr. Glicksman explains the rationale behind the series.

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to hold your breath, or how your body automatically matches your breathing with your level of activity? Whether you’re running to catch a bus, talking to friends, or just sleeping on the sofa, your body seems to know just how fast and hard you should breathe.

Or have you wondered why even if you go hours or days without eating, your body automatically makes sure it has enough glucose in your blood so you can keep doing what you want to do?

To understand such things you must first know how the laws of nature affect the body and how it must work against them to stay alive.

Everything in the world is made up of matter. All matter consists of many different types of atoms chemically bonded to form different types of molecules. All matter mustfollow the rules of physics and chemistry. Just like our planet where two-thirds is covered by water and one-third by land, our body is roughly two-thirds water and one-third other matter. But, unlike most of the earth, our “water and dust” is organized for life. The body is made up of trillions of cells each of which contains trillions and trillions of atoms and molecules. Since our cells are made up of atoms and molecules, this means that they too must obey the laws of nature.

We each experience these natural forces every day: inertia, friction, momentum, gravity, and heat transfer, to name a few. Experience teaches that, due to the laws of nature, our body has definite physical and chemical limitations. Jump down from a high ledge and you’re likely to break your leg because of the force of gravity and the fact that your leg is made of bone, not rubber. Put your hand into a fire and you’re likely to burn your fingers due to the transfer of heat energy and the fact that your body is mostly made of flesh, not asbestos. Breathing in enough air to match your level of activity, and making sure there’s enough glucose in your blood to provide enough energy to all of your cells, are just two of the ways your body must follow the rules to win in the game of life.

But, like in any game, to follow the rules means that you must first take control. If you’re playing baseball you can’t hit the ball just anywhere or run the bases any which way. By taking control you must try to keep the ball in fair territory and run the bases correctly. So too, your body must be able to take control of many different chemicals and functions.

However, whether the context is baseball or the battle for survival, experience tells us that just following the rules and taking control don’t automatically mean that you’ll win. At the end of the baseball game, if your opponent has scored more runs than you have, then you’ve lost. So too, if the body doesn’t have just the right level of oxygen, or glucose, or water, or salt, or calcium, or red blood cells, or white blood cells, or blood pressure, or temperature, then it can’t stand up to the laws of nature. It loses the game of life, and dies. In other words, real numbers have real consequences.

Death is an inevitable consequence of life and the mechanisms that result in its taking place should be fully understood and incorporated into any theory of how life came about.

If you really want to understand how life came into existence you must first understand how easily it can become non-existent. Just as a mechanic knows that there are many different ways a car can “die,” so too every physician knows that there are many different pathways to death. Theories about life that only describe where the different parts may have come from, or even how they may have come together to perform a specific function, as difficult as that may be, are not good enough. For medical science knows that when the body has allowed the rules of physics and chemistry to take over, having lost control and not being able to maintain the right level of any one chemical or vital function, then the consequence is death.

Some people believe that life came into being by chance and the laws of nature alone. Darwin was an excellent observer of nature but he had no idea how life actually works at the cellular or molecular levels. All clinical experience teaches that trying to explain how human life came into being just by looking at ancient bones, without considering their complicated cellular structure and physiology along with their vital importance in heart, nerve, gland, muscle, and clotting function, is like trying to explain how airplanes came into being just by looking at the fuselage, the wings, the tail section, and the engines without considering, among other things, modern metallurgy, jet propulsion, aerodynamics, and electronics.

In this series, I plan to show how the body works and how the only plausible explanation for its ability to combat the laws of nature and survive in the world are the many physiological innovations that must have come about through intelligent design.

Contrary to what evolutionary biologists would have us believe, medical experience shows that when left to their own devices, chance and the laws of nature cause disability and death, not functional ability and life. Looking at one important chemical and physiological parameter of body function at a time, I propose to explain its vital significance and how the body goes about controlling it to stay alive.

Finally, using clinical experience, I will discuss what happens when things go wrong and organ malfunction takes place.

It is my hope that what I have to say will empower you to defend yourself from what I think is the greatest intellectual and spiritual error in human history: the idea that human life has come about by chance and the laws of nature alone.

Image by yftahp (אני יצרתי) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Each Cell in Your Body Is a Walled City Besieged by Enemies

Howard Glicksman March 2, 2015 3:53 AM | Permalink

Editor’s note: Engineers and physicians have a special place in the community of thinkers and scholars who have elaborated the argument for intelligent design. Perhaps that’s because, more than evolutionary biologists, they are familiar in very practical ways with the challenges of designing or maintaining a functioning complex system on the order of a jet airplane, or the human body. With that in mind, Evolution News & Views is delighted to present this new series, “The Designed Body,” and to welcome Howard Glicksman MD as a contributor. A graduate of the University of Toronto (1978), he presently practices palliative medicine for a hospice organization. Find Dr. Glicksman’s introduction to the series here.

Just as a brick is the basic building block of a wall, the human cell is the basic functioning unit of the human body. Our body has about a hundred trillion of them. And just as with a brick wall, the requirement that it not collapse means being sturdy enough to stand up to the forces of nature, our cells likewise need to stand up to nature. For this reason, and others, the two hundred different types of cells in the body have common features that allow them to follow the rules to live, grow, and work properly.

In Darwin’s day, a cell was considered to be just a bag of chemicals containing within it various structures of unknown function. During the last century it has been shown that the cell is a huge software-driven micro-sized city containing many different nano-sized buildings with programmed pico-sized machines that are able to use energy to build the structures and perform the functions necessary for life. Here is a brief summary of some of the aspects of the human cell which must first be understood to appreciate why it must take control to survive in the world.

A very thin wall, called the plasma membrane, surrounds the cell. The plasma membrane defines the limits of the cell and separates it from other cells and from the outside world. It serves to keep what is needed inside the cell and what is not needed outside the cell. The important chemicals and vital structures of the cell would not be very useful if they were not kept in one place.

The main substance of the cell, which fills up the space within the plasma membrane, is a fluid called the cytosol. The cytosol consists of water with different chemicals dissolved within it. The amount of water inside the cell is its volume and the total number of chemical particles dissolved within each unit volume of water is its concentration. The cytosol is said to be more concentrated when there are more chemical particles per unit volume of water and less concentrated when there are fewer chemical particles per unit volume of water. Also, for a given number of chemical particles in the cytosol, an increase in volume results in a decrease in concentration and a decrease in volume results in an increase in concentration.

Each cell not only consists of water, but is also surrounded by water. The water inside the cell has a high concentration of potassium and protein and a low concentration of sodium. The water outside the cell has a high concentration of sodium and a low concentration of potassium and protein. In other words, the chemical make-up of the water inside the cell is exactly the opposite of the water outside. The plasma membrane serves to separate the two different solutions from each other.

Since the water in the cell takes up space, it applies a certain amount of pressure against the plasma membrane. Think of a bicycle tire. The more it is pumped up, the more air pressure is applied against the tire wall. Since the plasma membrane is made up of matter with a specific structure, like the bicycle tire, it too has physical limits when it comes to remaining intact and functional under pressure.

Suspended within the cell are structures, called organelles, and important proteins which together perform functions that allow for life. These include the nucleus, which contains the genetic information the cell needs to live and reproduce, the mitochondria, where the energy for cell function is obtained, the rough endoplasmic reticulum and the golgi apparatus, which are the factories that produce proteins, the lysosomes, which are the recycling plants where used cellular material is broken down, and the microtubules and microfilaments, which are the supportive cytoskeleton that allows the cell to alter its shape in response to changes in its environment.

Now consider what some of the laws of nature demand for the cell to survive in the world. Real numbers have real consequences. If the cell can’t take control to follow the rules, then life will quickly turn into death.

Whether it’s a mountain, a molehill, or a molecule, all material objects have mass and so energy is needed to change them. Therefore, to produce, move, or control anything requires that the cell have enough energy. Like a light bulb short on electricity or a car short on gas, without enough energy the cell is as good as dead.

The chemical content in the cell must be kept relatively constant for it to live and work properly. This means that the fluid inside the cell must maintain its high level of potassium and protein and its low level of sodium. If the chemical content of the cell isn’t in the right range, then the cell dies a quick death.

Finally, as noted above, the plasma membrane surrounding the cell has definite physical limitations and is therefore sensitive to changes in pressure. Think of blowing up a balloon. There is only so much air pressure the wall of the balloon can handle before it explodes. So too the volume of the cell must be kept within certain limits. If the water pressure against the plasma membrane rises too high, then, as with a balloon, cell death will take place, literally by explosion.

Note, too, that the cell is not self-sufficient. To survive it needs to constantly receive new supplies of chemicals, like glucose, for energy. It must also constantly rid itself of toxic chemicals, like carbon dioxide from the breakdown of glucose. However, to survive, the cell faces a major dilemma. In letting these chemicals pass through its plasma membrane, the cell is exposed to the chemical content of the water just outside its doorstep. And remember, the chemical content of the water outside is totally different from that of the water inside the cell. The cell, remember, must control its chemical content and volume to stay alive.

Think of a walled city besieged by enemies. The residents of the city are slowly running out of food and water and are in desperate need of new supplies to stay alive. They must somehow be able to open the gates wide enough to bring in what they need without at the same time being overrun by the enemy.

In allowing these chemicals to pass through its plasma membrane the cell comes up against a dilemma, a result of the laws of nature that govern chemical and fluid movement. In letting down its guard to allow some chemicals to come in and go out, the cell runs the risk of losing control of its chemical content and volume. If that happens, the cell will perish.

Which laws of nature are involved in the cell’s dilemma and, if not resisted by some ingenious design, how do they bring about the catastrophe that is cell death? Come back next time and we’ll find out.

Image: Turkish Siege of Vienna, Vienna Museum, Tyssil (own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.


Diffusion and Osmosis: Twin Perils in the Life of the Cell

Howard Glicksman March 6, 2015 3:19 AM | Permalink

Editor’s note: Engineers and physicians have a special place in the community of thinkers and scholars who have elaborated the argument for intelligent design. Perhaps that’s because, more than evolutionary biologists, they are familiar in very practical ways with the challenges of designing or maintaining a functioning complex system on the order of a jet airplane, or the human body. With that in mind, Evolution News & Views is delighted to present this new series, “The Designed Body,” and to welcome Howard Glicksman MD as a contributor. A graduate of the University of Toronto (1978), he presently practices palliative medicine for a hospice organization. Find Dr. Glicksman’s introduction to the series here.

Earlier we looked at what the human cell consists of and what it requires to live. Our cells need energy to perform their vital functions, including the ability to control their chemical content and volume. The cell faces a dilemma: it must let certain chemicals pass through its plasma membrane, while at the same time ridding itself of what is harmful. This dynamic exposes the cell to the laws of nature which if not resisted could drastically alter its chemical content and total volume, resulting in death. We turn now to the two main natural forces, diffusion and osmosis, that constantly threaten cell life.

Diffusion refers to the natural law that chemical particles in solution always remain in motion and spread out evenly in their medium. Therefore, when a solute (like salt) is dissolved in a solvent (like water) it forms a mixture that is homogeneous. This means that the salt particles in solution are equidistant from each other, and the chemical make-up of the salt water is the same everywhere. The salt water at the top of the container is chemically identical to the salt water in the middle and the salt water in the middle of the container is identical to the salt water at the bottom.

Moreover, when two solutions with different concentrations of salt are separated by a membrane that is permeable, meaning that it allows both the salt (solute) and the water (solvent) to pass through, diffusion naturally makes the salt from the solution with a higher concentration move into the one with a lower concentration.

This movement, called “diffusing down its concentration gradient,” is like moving down the slope of a hill, from a higher to a lower elevation. Except in this case, the movement of salt from the solution with a higher concentration to a lower concentration is taking place by the power of diffusion rather than the force of gravity. The final result of this movement of salt between the two solutions is they end up having the same concentration, the actual numerical value being somewhere between the original two.

The biological significance to the cell is that the fluid inside of it has a high concentration of potassium and a low concentration of sodium while the fluid outside has a low concentration of potassium and a high concentration of sodium. The plasma membrane of the cell that separates these two fluids is permeable to potassium, sodium, and water. So, if left unchecked, by following the rules, the power of diffusion would make potassium move down its concentration gradient, from the fluid inside the cell to the outside, and sodium move down its concentration gradient, from the fluid outside the cell to the inside.

If there were no mechanism in place to resist this natural movement, by diffusion, of potassium out of the cell and sodium into the cell, then life as we know it would not exist. As noted already, one of the main things the cell has to do to survive is take control and maintain its chemical content. However, diffusion is not the only natural force the cell has to contend with to stay alive. The other one, which affects the cell’s ability to control its volume, is osmosis.

Osmosis takes place when two solutions of different concentration are separated by a semi-permeable membrane in which the solvent can pass through but not the solute. For salt water this would mean that the salt cannot pass through the membrane but water can. Osmosis would naturally make water move from the solution with less concentration of salt to the one with more. This is exactly the opposite of what happens in the diffusion of chemicals, like sodium and potassium, across a permeable membrane.

Since the salt cannot pass through the membrane, but water can, the water moves across in the opposite direction instead so the concentration on both sides will be the same, somewhere between the original two. However, since the semi-permeable membrane only lets water pass through, a change in volume also takes place on both sides. Due to the power of osmosis, the volume of the solution that had a higher concentration of salt, rises, while the volume of the solution that had a lower concentration of salt, falls.

The biological significance of osmosis to the cell is that the fluid inside the cell has a much higher concentration of protein than the fluid outside the cell. Although the plasma membrane is permeable to solutions of sodium and potassium, it is only semi-permeable to ones with protein, i.e., it lets water pass through but not protein. This takes place because sodium and potassium are very small ions that can slip through most biological membranes, but most proteins are very large molecules that can’t. This is important for survival. The cell makes many different proteins that perform vital functions, and if they were able to easily pass through the plasma membrane and leave the cell by diffusion, then the cell wouldn’t be able to work properly and would die.

However, the fact that protein can’t cross the membrane, but water can, makes the cell susceptible to the power of osmosis. As the potassium and sodium ions naturally move, by diffusion, in opposite directions across the plasma membrane, the much higher protein content inside the cell (which can’t leave it) follows the rules and makes water enter the cell by osmosis. If too much water enters the cell, causing its volume to rise and too much pressure to be applied against the plasma membrane, the cell can die by explosion, just like a balloon. As we once again see, one of the main things the cell needs to do to survive is take control and maintain its volume.

Cell death under these circumstances verifies that real numbers have real consequences. When the cell follows the rules, like diffusion and osmosis, it runs the risk of losing control and dying. So by what innovative mechanism do our cells combat the natural forces of diffusion and osmosis? That question must wait till next week.

Image by Adam Jones Adam63 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.


Pumping for Life: What the Sodium-Potassium Pump Accomplishes

Howard Glicksman March 10, 2015 3:04 AM | Permalink

Editor’s note: Engineers and physicians have a special place among the thinkers and scholars who have elaborated the argument for intelligent design. Perhaps that’s because, more than evolutionary biologists, they are familiar in very practical ways with the challenges of designing or maintaining a functioning complex system on the order of a jet airplane, or the human body. With that in mind, Evolution News & Views is delighted to present this series, “The Designed Body.” Dr. Howard Glicksman practices palliative medicine for a hospice organization.

In this series we’ve seen what makes up the human cell and what it needs to do to survive, given the laws of nature. One of the main things the cell must do is control its chemical content and volume. If not combated by some sort of innovation, the natural forces of diffusion and osmosis have the potential to quickly bring about cell death. This is due to the fact that the chemical make-up of the fluid inside the cell is exactly the opposite of the fluid outside the cell, and the cell must let the chemicals it needs to live (like glucose) come in and the toxic ones it produces (like carbon dioxide) go out through the plasma membrane. In having a plasma membrane that is permeable to certain chemicals, but not to others (like most proteins), the cell must follow the rules — entailing that it is affected by the natural forces of diffusion and osmosis.

Diffusion has the potential to drastically alter the cell’s chemical content by naturally causing potassium leave the cell through its plasma membrane while causing sodium to enter. And while diffusion is trying to make potassium and sodium equalize within the fluid inside and outside the cell, osmosis has the potential to drastically alter the cell’s volume by naturally making water enter the cell at the same time because its large amount of protein can’t cross the plasma membrane. Together, the effects of diffusion and osmosis can give the cell a one-two punch, quickly resulting in death. What kind of mechanism could possibly do the job of controlling not only the cell’s chemical content but its volume too?

Consider what you would have to do if you were sitting in a boat that constantly had water leaking into it. Of course, you would have to constantly remove that water, otherwise the boat will sink. But, what if your only option is to keep the boat in the water and you can’t be there to do the work of bailing all the time? Could you place a machine in the boat to do the work for you? That is, a pump. This is precisely the type of micro-machine the cell uses to take control of its chemical content and volume. In fact, the cell has a few million of these sodium-potassium pumps within its plasma membrane.

The sodium-potassium pump acts by pushing sodium out of the cell and pulling potassium back in. Even though the laws of nature make sodium go into, and potassium go out of, the cell as they diffuse down their respective concentration gradients, the millions of sodium-potassium pumps in the plasma membrane immediately reverse most of this movement. In fact for every three ions of sodium that are pumped out of the cell, two ions of potassium are pumped back in.

This is how the cell reverses the natural tendency for the fluid inside and outside to have equal concentrations of sodium and potassium. In so doing, it maintains its chemical content. However, the action of the sodium-potassium pump not only preserves the cell’s chemical content, it also controls its volume by preventing water from entering as. Here is how.

Remember, as chemicals like sodium and potassium move across the permeable plasma membrane and diffuse down their concentration gradient, water rushes into the cell due to the large amount of impermeable protein pulling it in by osmosis. In other words, in biology, a solute exerts an osmotic pull on water across a membrane based on its inability to leave that solution. Again, since protein can’t leave the fluid in the cell, because it can’t go through the plasma membrane, it’s able to apply an osmotic pull on the water outside the cell and bring it inside. Since sodium and potassium freely pass across the plasma membrane, they should not be able to apply an osmotic pull on water in either direction. Or can they?

With the sodium-potassium pumps in the plasma membrane of the cell pushing most of the sodium back out of the cell and bringing most of the potassium back in, although they are still permeable, they now effectively act as if they were impermeable. By forcing sodium and potassium to stay where they are, the sodium-potassium pumps give them the power to move water toward them by osmosis. As noted above, in biology, a solute exerts an osmotic pull on water across a membrane based on its inability to leave that solution. With the sodium-potassium pumps forcing sodium to stay outside the cell and keeping potassium inside, they have effectively made them unable to leave their solution. In doing so, the sodium-potassium pumps have also made sodium and potassium osmotically active chemicals, just like the protein inside the cell.

This means that, not only does protein have a tendency to pull water into the cell from the fluid outside, but so does potassium as well. In addition, since the sodium-potassium pumps push sodium out of the cell, not letting it stay on the other side of the plasma membrane, it also enables sodium to pull water from inside the cell back outside. The osmotic pull of sodium from outside the cell is in the opposite direction to the osmotic pull exerted by the protein and potassium inside it. In fact, the cell is very sensitive to water movement in either direction across its plasma membrane, which directly affects its volume. To take control of its volume the cell always tries to make sure that the osmotic pull of water from the fluid outside the cell evenly matches the pull to bring water back in. It does this by making certain that the concentration of total chemical particles in the cytosol is the same as in the fluid outside the cell. When this is achieved, the fluids are said to be isotonic.

This is what the sodium-potassium pump accomplishes. But there is a price to be paid by the body for thus battling the forces of nature. The job of the sodium-potassium pump is like having to walk against a strong driving wind. The effort, needed for survival, requires tremendous energy. At rest, between one-quarter to one-half of the total energy needs of the body are taken up by the millions of sodium-potassium pumps in each of its trillions of cells. This goes to show that real numbers have real consequences. If the cell doesn’t have enough energy to power its millions of sodium-potassium pumps, it is as good as dead. But where does the cell get the energy it needs? Before you can begin to understand the answer to this question, you must first learn about enzymes and how they work in the body. We’ll look at them next time.

Image by staff. “Blausen gallery 2014”. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.



Enzymes and Their Dynamic Role in the Cell

Howard Glicksman March 17, 2015 3:35 AM | Permalink

Editor’s note: Engineers and physicians have a special place among the thinkers and scholars who have elaborated the argument for intelligent design. Perhaps that’s because, more than evolutionary biologists, they are familiar in very practical ways with the challenges of designing or maintaining a functioning complex system on the order of a jet airplane, or the human body. With that in mind, Evolution News & Views is delighted to present this series, “The Designed Body.” Dr. Howard Glicksman practices palliative medicine for a hospice organization.

In this series so far, we’ve looked at what makes up the human cell and what it needs to do to stay alive. We learned that, because they constantly threaten to alter the cell’s chemical content and volume, the natural powers of diffusion and osmosis must somehow be combated. The cell has come up with an innovation to do exactly that. It has millions ofsodium-potassium pumps in its plasma membrane that constantly push sodium back out of the cell and bring potassium inside. While thus maintaining its chemical content, the cell is also able to control its volume by preventing water from entering by osmosis. To accomplish this task and all of its other vital functions, the cell must have enough energy.

It’s important to understand that every biochemical process in the body requires enzymes to work properly. So, before you can learn about how the cell gets the energy it needs to live, grow and work properly, you must first learn about enzymes.

Enzymes are special molecules (mostly proteins) that are made in the cell and help other molecules undergo chemical reactions when they come in contact with each other. When these reactions occur, energy is either released or used up, and different molecules are produced. Molecules are made up of atoms joined together by chemical bonds. There are very small molecules, like molecular oxygen (O2), which comprise two oxygen atoms joined together, and water (H2O), which is made up of two hydrogen atoms joined to one oxygen atom. There are also slightly larger molecules, like glucose (C6H12O6), a sugar that is made up of six atoms of carbon and oxygen joined to twelve atoms of hydrogen. And there are very large molecules, like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, many of which are made up of hundreds or even thousands of atoms joined together.

When molecules meet up with each other they sometimes react. A reaction between molecules simply means that chemical bonds between atoms are created or destroyed. This usually causes some of the atoms in the reacting molecules to change places with each other to form different molecules. Some enzymes help destroy chemical bonds in larger molecules, to form smaller molecules. Other enzymes help create chemical bonds between smaller molecules, to make larger ones.

In this process energy may be released or used up. At the end of the reaction the enzymes are not altered, so they can continue to promote more reactions. Also, the total number of atoms present in the molecules that are produced at the end of the reaction is the same as there were in the molecules that reacted in the first place. In other words, in a chemical reaction no new atoms are created or destroyed, just the bonds between them. This often results in the release or use of energy, and the atoms involved changing partners to form different molecules.

The laws of nature determine how fast specific molecules will react with each other. But the addition of an enzyme makes this reaction take place much faster. By speeding things up enzymes help to produce many more new molecules, usually on the order of thousands or millions of times more, than what would otherwise happen in the same time frame. This is why enzymes are called catalysts. In fact, if our body were left to only the natural laws of chemistry, the thousands of reactions we need to help keep us alive would not take place fast enough and we would die.

There are thousands of different enzymes in the body. Each has a specific effect on a specific molecule. It is the precise shape and chemical nature of the enzyme that determines which molecules it works on and what type of reaction it catalyzes.

The first part of the chemical name of an enzyme usually indicates the molecule or class of molecules for which it speeds up reactions. The last part of its name usually ends in “ase”. For example, lactase is the enzyme that helps to break down lactose, the sugar in milk. A protease is a class of enzymes that helps to break down proteins that are made up of two or more amino acids bonded together.

The body often uses several specific enzymes in a specific order or pathway, like in a chain reaction. The first molecule undergoes a reaction catalyzed by the first enzyme, and one of the products of that reaction becomes the second molecule in the pathway. The second molecule, in turn, undergoes a reaction catalyzed by the second enzyme, and one of the products of that reaction becomes the third molecule in the pathway.

The third molecule undergoes a reaction catalyzed by the third enzyme, and one of the products becomes the fourth molecule in the pathway, and so on. This process continues until the required molecule is produced. If any one of the enzymes in the pathway were to be missing or not working properly, then not enough of the final product would be produced and life could hang in the balance.

It is important to understand that since enzymes themselves are made up of hundreds or thousands of atoms chemically bonded together, the laws of nature can affect their chemical stability and capacity to work properly. Things like temperature and hydrogen ion concentration can affect the chemical structure of enzymes. When any of these parameters falls out of the normal range, the enzymes in our body start to malfunction and so does our body. Serious deviations can even result in death. That is why our body must be able to control these and other vital parameters to allow us to survive within the laws of nature.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what enzymes are, why they’re important for life, and how they work, we can move to see how the cell uses enzymes to get the energy it needs to survive.

Image by Jkaeelwes (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.