Resurrecting mammoths


From LiveScience: Extinct Woolly Mammoth’s DNA Mapped

Scientists for the first time have unraveled much of the genetic code of an extinct animal, the ice age’s woolly mammoth, and with it they are thawing Jurassic Park dreams.

Their groundbreaking achievement has them contemplating a once unimaginable future when certain prehistoric species might one day be resurrected.

“It could be done. The question is, just because we might be able to do it one day, should we do it?” asked Stephan Schuster, the Penn State University biochemistry professor and co-author of the new research. “I would be surprised to see if it would take more than 10 or 20 years to do it.”

I’d love to see a living woolly mammoth. Are there ethical issues I’m missing?

Image from Wikipedia: Woolly Mammoth

Grace and Peace

Crescent Earth

The first images of the Earth taken from the moon wasn’t the one taken by Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968; they were taken by unmanned lunar orbiters which were scouting out potential landing sites for the upcoming Apollo missions. This image was taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 in 1966, and has been recently reprocessed by NASA:


Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Grace and Peace

UK Darwin coin

February 12, 2009 will be the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin (as well as being the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln). The Royal Mint is producing a 2 pound circulating coin in commemoration of Darwin:


I expect to see lots of fireworks from all sides of the creation-evolution debate in February, some of it good, some of it goofy.

HT: World Coin News

Grace and Peace

The future ice age

Irregardless of what we do to the planet now, the long-term climate prospect for sometime a few thousand to a few tens of thousands of years in the future is cold: Earth may face freeze worse than Ice Age. This is nothing new to geologists, recognizing that Earth is presently in a short interglacial period (the Holocene Epoch), squeezed in between longer glacial deep-freezes. What may be new to many is the idea that it appears that each freeze is getting a little deeper.

If catastrophic global warming is occuring, it will hopefully go away in a few thousand years, sometime after we burn the last chunk of coal and oil shale. Then it could get really cold. Our few centuries of fossil fuel short-sightedness will just be a blip in history.

Our response: Be frugal, and don’t worry about an Ice Age. It isn’t going to happen for a while.

Grace and Peace

Another extrasolar planet image

Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is another image of planets orbiting another star, this time taken with infrared radiation:


These three planets are orbiting the star HR 8799.

terrestrialplanetfinderNASA has an ambitious plan to search for Earth-sized, or even Earth-like planets. The hope is to be able to directly image Earth-sized planets (the above image shows Jupiter-sized worlds) and to be able to analyze the light reflected from these bodies. This should tell us if the atmospheres of these Earth-sized planets contain oxygen, water, and ozone, which would indicate the existence of photosynthesis.

“Such a discovery would at last provide convincing evidence that we are not alone.”

Only if one considers the bacterial slime to be enough to say “we are not alone.”

NASA/JPL site: Planet Quest Overview


Grace and Peace

Ten arguments for God’s existence

Theologically, I know that I believe in God because, by his grace, he has drawn me to himself.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. (John 6:44).

I find apologetics (the rational defense of the faith), however, to be exceedingly useful, including the philosphical arguments for God’s existence. I usually think of the big 4 — the cosmological, ontological, teleological, and moral arguments for the existence of God (I’ll define those below).

According to William Lane Craig, In his book Reasonable Faith, there are three important reasons for the church to study and teach apologetics:

  1. Shaping culture — Because we live in a largely post-Christian society, many don’t even consider Christianity to be an intellectually valid option. For many, Christianity won’t even be given a hearing until we can show that one doesn’t have to check their brain at the door, and that there are valid arguments for the existence of God and the person and work of Christ.
  2. Strengthening believers — Our young people, and the rest of us too, are bombarded with reasons to not believe, whether it be the unfounded confidence of those who attack the Scriptures (The DaVinci Code, The Jesus Tomb, the Jesus Seminar, etc…) or the moral decay that can draw us away from faith. The faithful need to be reminded that their faith is not hollow.
  3. Evangelizing unbelievers — This cannot be done without #1 and #2. Not all, or even most, unbelievers need apologetics. They need the gospel. But there is an influential minority who do need reasons to believe, and these are the future C.S. Lewises of the world.

Here are 10 Arguments for God’s Existence from Parchment and Pen:

  1. The cosmological argument — I have discussed this one before here and here. This addresses the question “why is there something rather than nothing?”
  2. The teleological argument — This is the argument from design. Modern popular examples of this kind of argument include intelligent design (ID) and fine-tuning arguments.
  3. The moral argument — There are some things, such as murder or rape, that are universally seen as morally wrong. Because there is moral law, there must be a source for that morality; a moral Lawgiver. This is an important part of the argument in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
  4. The sense of the divine — There is a universal sense that there is something beyond us, which has led to the religions of the world.
  5. The argument from aesthetic experience — There is a universal sense of beauty, even if we can’t always agree on the details. The source of this sense of aesthetics is God.
  6. The argument from the existence of arguments — There is no such thing as a rational argument if there is no ultimate foundation for rationality.
  7. The argument from the existence of free-will arguments — If the universe is all there is, then our every decision is merely the result of the arrangement of matter in our brains, which is dependent on what happened in the past all the way back to the big bang.
  8. The argument from the existence of evil — If there is no such thing as absolute moral standards, then there really is no such thing as evil. We see evil around us, so there must absolute moral standards. Therefore, God exists.
  9. The argument from miracles — Historical evidence points to the resurrection of Christ, which requires supernatural intervention. Fulfilled prophesies also point to the supernatural.
  10. Pascal’s wager — In the absence of absolute proof one way or the other, it is better to bet that God exists and be wrong, than to bet that God doesn’t exist and be wrong.

The author does not list the ontological argument; perhaps he just doesn’t like it. But it works for some people, so it probably ought to be included in the list.

Some comments:

  • I have given only extremely brief summaries of these arguments, so don’t reject any of them based on what I have written here.
  • Some of these are stronger than others. Pascal’s wager, for example, isn’t exactly an argument for God, but an appeal to trust in God even if the other arguments don’t convince you 100%.
  • I find the cosmological argument to be compelling, even all by itself.
  • Some of these could point to any kind of supernatural existence, others point more specifically to a personal, theistic God. None of them are going to point specifically to the living triune God of the Bible or to the person and work of Christ. That doesn’t make them useless, however.

Remain strong in the faith.

Grace and Peace

HT: Cranach