Textbook Improvements

Below is a brief summary of what the “Our Origins” presentation contains. However, the full amount of information  – power-point presentations, explanations, study versions, and related material – is available via the  file-sharing program known as Dropbox. If you have downloaded this program from the Net, then you should be able to access the material by using the following URL address:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/swtnlbemkgh10d0/xrNoB2MTGD

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ORIGINS OF THE NATURAL WORLD: UPDATES AND IMPROVEMENTS TO TEXTBOOK PRESENTATION

Origin of Life:

According to the Laws of Science, the natural world tends to scatter and disorganize. This means that living organisms are not able to grow out of simpler, non-living substances.

1st Law of Thermodynamics (also known as the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy): “In any process, energy can be changed from one form to another (including heat and work), but it is never created or destroyed.”

2nd Law of Thermodynamics: “Although the total amount of energy remains the same, there is always a tendency for it to become less available for useful work.” Or as famed scientist Isaac Asimov put it, “The universe is constantly getting more disorderly.” (And, of course, the fact that the universe is running down implies that it must have been “wound up” sometime in the past.)

No one has ever found a single exception to the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics. Of particular importance, the 2nd Law dispels the idea that matter organizes itself from disorder and chaos into order and complexity. Thus, in order for life and our environment to form at all, there must be an outside agency existing beyond the natural world. That super-natural agency we may refer to as God the Creator, or Intelligent Designer. 

You have probably heard of the Theory of Evolution put forth by Charles Darwin in 1859. In it he proposed that life arose from non-living substances and that living organisms could evolve from primitive forms into more advanced species. This theory was advanced at a time when no one knew what a cell really was. It was assumed to be nothing more than a blob of jelly. Since then however, scientists have learned that even the simplest living cell is an incredibly complex machine.

Like a machine, the cell must have all its parts assembled in order for it to work at all. If your car was missing the left front wheel, for example, it would not work. The cell is similar. There can be no such thing as a halfway stage of formation. This is known as the principle of “irreducible complexity”. Any organism is like a complex machine and it cannot “reduce”, or lose any of its parts. All the parts have to be in place simultaneously in order for it to work. It cannot build itself bit by bit (as evolution theory proposes). Like a car that must be assembled before it is functional, so all living organisms were “assembled” in the beginning by the Creator.

You could go into an auto parts store and buy every single part needed to construct a car, but without an assembler, no car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cell is just as complex as a car. Without an Assembler the building blocks of amino acids could not even form proteins, DNA, etc., much less produce a living cell.

Origin of Man:

There is much speculation that mankind evolved from the lower animals, apes and monkeys. As we have already learned, this would not go along with the scientific principles that govern the natural world (that it tends toward disorganization and less complexity).

But then we may ask, have not scientists discovered ancient fossil remains of ape-men or “missing links”? This is a good question, and to answer, let us take a closer look at these discoveries.

      • Neanderthal Man (1856) – Once thought to be a primitive ancestor of man, scientists are beginning to realize that Neanderthal Man was fully human: brain size the same as ours, even larger; they buried their dead, used tools, had a complex social structure, employed language, and played musical instruments. The differences in anatomy are minor, no more than the differences we see between the different races of mankind nowadays.
      • Java Man (1891) – An ape-like skull was found near a human thigh bone. Later investigation showed the creature was a giant gibbon, and the thigh bone had nothing to do with the skull.
      • Piltdown Man  (1912) – Turned out to be a complete forgery. A very recent orangutan jaw had been stained to look old, with its teeth filed down to make them more human-looking, planted together with a human skull bone, also stained to create an appearance of age. (“Piltdown Man” managed to appear in textbooks for about 40 years until, finally, the hoax was discovered.)
      • Nebraska Man (1922) – Reconstruction based on a single tooth, which later excavations revealed belonged neither to ape nor man, but to a peccary, a close relative of the pig.
      • Australopithecines (1974) – Extensive computer analysis has shown these to be just another type of ape. Charles Oxnard, who conducted the tests, stated, “All of this should make us wonder about the usual presentation of human evolution in introductory textbooks, in encyclopedias and in popular publications.”
      • Ardipithecus Ramidus (1999) – Bones scattered over an area of about one mile. A single toe bone, supposed to prove the creature was part human, was found some ten miles from the other bones.
      • Australopithecus Sediba (2010) – Resembles very much other Australopithecines. It is just another genetic variation within the ape species.

Investigation of these supposed “missing links” reveals that the fossil evidence was forged in one case, and in the others it was misinterpreted: a human and ape bone found in close proximity were assumed to belong to the same creature; extinct breeds of apes were assumed to be ancestors to mankind. It happens sometimes in the world of science that scientists allow pre-conceived ideas to influence their evaluations of fossil evidence. Thorough investigation is the hallmark of true science; jumping to premature conclusions is not, and it is a temptation scientists are learning to guard against more and more nowadays.

Micro-Evolution:

In the natural world there exists a “barrier of sterility” between species. For example, a cat and a dog cannot breed together. Even closely related species will run up against this barrier. The horse and donkey, for example, may breed together and produce a mule, but male and female mules cannot reproduce; they are sterile. A mule can breed with a horse or donkey and produce another horse or donkey respectively. But otherwise, there is a barrier of sterility there that will not allow them to create a new fertile species of “mule”.

Now wouldn’t it be confusing if different species of animals could breed and produce fertile offspring? If a cat and dog were to mate, let us say, they would produce a cat-dog. Such cross-breeding would soon bring much confusion into the natural world. So, to prevent that, plants and animals were designed with this inbuilt barrier of sterility. By the same token, if a species could evolve into another species, there would again arise much confusion. There would be innumerable missing links and in-between species. As with the barrier of sterility, there is a similar “barrier” to prevent a species from evolving into another species. God designed the plant and animal kingdoms in that way, so that each species could only reproduce within the boundaries of its own species; and this helps to maintain order in the natural world.

Charles Darwin, in his later days, gradually became aware of the lack of real evidence for his speculations about macro-evolution and wrote: “As by this theory, innumerable transitional forms must have existed. Why do we not find them embedded in the crust of the earth? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of being, as we see them, well defined species?” (Origin of Species, chapter 6)

Although there is a limitation established that prevents different species from breeding together or changing into new species, nevertheless, there is allowance for plenty of variety and adaptability within each species – what is known as “micro-evolution”. Genetic variation has allowed, for example, the many different races of mankind to come into being, with so many different skin colors and body shapes. But all of the different races belong to the same genome of humanity. Or the many different breeds of dogs: the Chihuahua and the Great Dane, as different as they appear, both belong to the canine species; they cannot go beyond their basic gene structure.

Micro-evolution is what Charles Darwin observed and described in his book Origin of Species. And for that we must give him credit. But the idea that species could evolve into another species (macro-evolution), this is where he was mistaken. Nowadays, as scientists learn more about DNA structures, they are realizing that such major genome changes cannot happen through natural processes.

The Marvel of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) Structures

Like blueprints for a building, the substance of DNA acts as a code that maps out how our bodily structures will be develop as we grow from a tiny cell into a full grown human being. The complex blueprints used in building construction are carefully planned and designed by intelligent architectural designers and draftsmen; they don’t just come together by themselves or by accident. Likewise, the DNA in our bodily cells and genes were the result of the planning and craftsmanship of a Master Builder, our Creator.

Any manmade creation that transmits information  – whether it be Egyptian hieroglyphics, the words on a printed page, or a software program – when you trace it back to the source, you will always find it was intelligence that created it. One would not try to understand how a written document came into being merely by studying the chemistry of ink composition, or what materials paper is made of, or the mathematical probability of splattering ink forming into letters. We would acknowledge that there had to be an intelligent being who created the document, who put it together; it can’t do so by itself. Anything that transmits information, of course, requires the material medium but, most important, there must be an intelligence that exists beyond the material medium in order to bring it into being. The same is true for DNA structures which transfer information to our body cells: there had to be an Intelligent Designer behind them; they cannot be understood merely as a collection of molecules that by chance happened to put themselves together.

Understanding DNA: Each cell in your body has 3 billion(!) 4-character digital codes that convey information about how your cells should develop. Out of those 3 billion codes, a staggering number of 120,000,000 (mainly to do with intelligence) differ from those of apes. To change the ape genome into a human one requires 120,000,000 changes in the codes and this all must happen in the correct order.

To say that cell mutations (which are mostly harmful) could by a random process bring about such a change in the complex genetic machinery would be about the same as saying that tossing a grenade into a printing factory would succeed in producing the unabridged dictionary!

Origin of Earth’s Geological Structures:

Scientists observe the forces that operate in our present environment: erosion by water, wind, ice; earthquakes; volcanic action; tidal waves. From this they assume that the earth was shaped by a very gradual process of geological action. This model is applicable to a certain extent. However, there are evidences of catastrophic geological action that cannot be ignored. In particular, fossil graveyards, sedimentary rock formations, and geological structures like the Grand Canyon provide clear evidence of the cataclysmic action of a Great Flood. [To keep this short, I have not included any examples here, but these are very intriguing and are included in the power point presentation and accompanying CD.]

The sacred histories of ancient societies all over the world contain the legend of the Flood. In India we may easily learn about it in the Mahabharata (III.clxxxvi), Quran (Sura 11), Book of Genesis (chs. 7-8). At one time the Flood legend was the commonly understood history of mankind that the survivors of the Flood passed on to their children. And as their descendants migrated throughout the earth, this account of the ancient cataclysm spread far and wide into nations and territories all over the world.

The Flood altered the prehistoric environment and shaped it into the environment we have today. Unfortunately, modern scholarship has ignored this ancient geologic history in spite of the obvious and overwhelming scientific evidence of the Flood’s action in Earth’s rock and fossil formations. It is a shame that this fascinating and priceless ancient heritage is being withheld from our young people – a heritage that could affirm faith in the Creator and have a consequent positive effect on their philosophical, ethical orientation.

Origin of the Universe:

There are many theories about the origin of the universe. The currently popular one is the Big Bang Theory, which states correctly that the universe is not eternal but had a beginning. And this implies that there had to be a First Cause, a supernatural Creator who is eternal. The only problem with it is the idea that order can arise out of chaos. That a primeval explosion can bring about the synchronized perfection of the Universe doesn’t seem to fit with what we learned previously, that the natural world tends to go the other direction – from order into chaos. The universe operates according to precise laws and formulas, which points to the handiwork of an Intelligent Designer. As we learned about God’s design and order in the biological world, so too in the formation of the universe the Creator played an important role  – more anyway than what is implied in the Big Bang Theory. And this is something that students should understand.

No matter what theory one chooses to believe about the origin of the universe, there will always have to be a First Cause. There has to be a Supernatural Creator who brought matter and space into being. This is the crux of the matter: geologic history and human history had a definite starting point. But the tendency in modern science has been to make it sound as if there was no beginning, and the natural world just created itself. This, of course, eliminates the role of any supernatural Creator. So if our young people are taught to think that God had nothing to do with the creation of the natural world, then it will be easy to think that God has nothing to do with their personal lives. This kind of misconceoption will not benefit the new generation.

How should Science textbooks be changed?

        Students should know what evolution teaches – for the sake of being well informed. But they should understand that it is just a theory, which has certain weaknesses. Their knowledge should be brought up to date with what recent scientific investigation and discovery have learned about the origins of the natural world. In particular, they should be taught how the intricacy and orderliness of the natural world points to the reality of an Intelligent Designer or Creator. In geology the evidence of the effects of the Flood also should not be hidden from them. Scientifically, this is key to an intelligent understanding of Earth’s landforms and prehistoric environment.

        In our Science textbooks, the study of origins from the “creation” point of view should receive equal billing with the “evolution” point of view. At present there is a great imbalance. Textbooks give the impression that evolution theory is “scientific” while creation theory is treated as “superstitious”. Better it would be that students learn the scientific basis behind the creation viewpoint. Using the terms “Creator” or “Intelligent Designer” in our Science textbooks should not be viewed as an intrusion of religion or superstition into the domain of science and rationality. Far from being an intrusion, this will bring an important new dimension to their knowledge and will infuse the next generation with a more complete understanding of scientific realities and principles… and have the side benefit of pointing their moral-philosophical compasses in the right direction.

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