Some of our mass is missing. Or not.
Dr. Kevin Pimbblet has unveiled the hiding place of vast quantities of mass supposedly missing from the universe. The missing mass is not the dark matter needed to stabilize spiral galaxies. Neither is it antimatter presumed to exist as a consequence of the big bang. But big bang cosmologists consider its discovery “crucial to validate or invalidate [their] standard cosmological model [the big bang].”1
The matter is presumed to have been present 10 billion years ago because distant quasars are interpreted by evolutionary cosmologists to be windows into the past. Quasars are associated with more mass than is found in nearby (and presumably more recently formed) parts of the universe. The mass is believed missing because the big bang idea demands that the nearby universe should represent a more aged version of the distant universe—with the same amount of mass. A related paper about this temporal-matter-mismatch says, “An inventory of the nearby Universe has turned up only about half as much normal matter, an embarrassingly large shortfall.”2
About a year ago, hot gases were indirectly detected between galaxies. Hopes ran high that these gases would contain the misplaced matter.2 However, until now, no electromagnetic emissions were detectable in the gases. The current research detected X-ray emissions from some of these gaseous filaments. The emissions suggest the filaments contain matter. The researchers hope this method for detecting filaments will facilitate their more complete examination.
The yahoo.com article announcing this discovery is illustrated with a photo captioned “stars that are forming in a dwarf starburst galaxy.” Interesting choice of illustration, since star formation has nothing to do with this discovery.3 Furthermore, star formation has never been observed. Secular astronomers, observing many hot, blue stars in regions like this starburst, believe they are seeing stars form because they know hot, blue stars cannot last billions of years. Thus the starburst galaxy is evidence for a young universe.
What has been discovered is a way to directly detect intergalactic gases, confirming they contain mass. The fact that big bang cosmologists believe the discovery of the missing mass vital to their big bang model should not imply that finding some gaseous mass in the universe—even a lot of it—proves the big bang happened. Such thinking is an example of the logical fallacy known as “affirming the consequent.” In other words, if a theory predicts something, and that something is then found, the illogical mind takes that finding as proof that the theory is true. (Ptolemy believed planets orbited earth; his model predicted many observable phenomena, but it was wrong.)
Furthermore, we would say that no mass has been lost. The idea that more mass was present 10 billion years ago is based on a belief that light takes billions of years to travel from the most distant parts of the universe. The transit time required for distant starlight4 to reach the earth presents challenges to both creationist and big bang cosmology. A recently advanced solution to this problem is called the “The Anisotropic Synchrony Convention.”
We contend that the matter was never lost because a look at a distant quasar is not a look backward in time. And intergalactic gas containing low-density X-ray-emitting particles in no way damages the Creation model of cosmology.
Transgender clownfish, transgender people—what’s the difference?
None—according to the mandatory curriculum at California’s Redwood Heights Elementary School. Principal Sara Stone says, “Really, the message behind this curriculum is there are different ways to be boys. There are different ways to be girls.”
After teaching about “the crazy world of gender within the animal kingdom with lessons about single-sex Hawaiian geckos, fish that switch genders and boy snakes that act ‘girly,’” Gender Spectrum trainer Joel Baum tells fourth and fifth graders, “Evolution comes up with some pretty funny ways for animals to reproduce.”
Then he extrapolates from animals to people, teaching “some boys can act like girls; some girls can have boy body parts; and some biological boys feel like a girl inside their hearts. . . . There are not just two options.” Gender Spectrum bases its curriculum on the evolutionary notion that humans are animals.
Gender is determined by what genes are being expressed. There are many interesting ways those genes get regulated in the animal kingdom. Some creatures simply express whatever sex-determining gene they have. Some lizard5 hybrids are able to clone themselves, remaining forevermore female. In turtles, the temperature at which eggs incubate determines gender.
Others animals are hermaphrodites, possessing biological machinery for both genders. Some, like earthworms, function as both sexes simultaneously. Others, like clownfish, change genders. Clownfish are born male but have both male and female germ cells. Within a school of clownfish, one develops into a functioning female. When she dies, the dominant male in the group transforms into a female as the female germ cells he harbors become active. God designed these creative ways for some creatures to function and to meet the challenges of their environments.
But God did not design human beings that way. Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4)
When human beings suffer physical problems with gender identity, they are suffering from a medical condition as real as other physical infirmities (consequences of the Fall of Genesis 3). Human physical gender identity can be ambiguous or at variance with the “gender genes” a person possesses due to conditions interfering with correct expression of the genome.6
Human beings are designed to live a life identified as a particular gender without the prerogative to alter it at will. To teach children to be kind and loving to all people is good. But to teach children that choosing to change gender is perfectly moral and right is wrong.
Making mice more useful with the Mouse Genome Project
Medical treatments are often tested in laboratory mice. However, promising ideas from mouse studies sometimes fail in human trials.
Most laboratory mice come from highly inbred strains, thus ensuring enough genetic similarity to make test results meaningful. The genomes of 162 strains of mice will now be available in the Mouse Online Phylogeny Viewer.
The viewer will enable scientists to examine “the genome of the mouse strains they are using or considering,” choosing those which should provide results “that can be more effectively extrapolated to the diverse human population,” said Dr. Pardo-Manuel de Villena. “As scientists use this resource to find ways to prevent and treat the genetic changes that cause cancer, heart disease, and a host of other ailments . . . lab experiments should be much easier to translate to humans.”
The article defines phylogeny as “connections among all groups of organisms as understood by ancestor/descendant relationships.” True enough for mice. But when applied to “all groups of organisms,” it assumes that genetic similarities between different kinds of organisms can only be explained by common ancestry.7 A common Designer who created all organisms with the same biochemistry to live in the same world would naturally build in genetic similarities.
When it comes to biomedical research, we can be thankful God designed us with the same biochemistry as laboratory animals. This project should help researchers boost the efficiency of their research in hopes of finding cures for many of the curses in this world.
Induced pluripotent stem cells: is the glass half-full or half-empty?
An unwanted immune response to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), reported in Nature,8 is being touted by LiveScience as near-utter failure for iPSCs.
Early stem cell research involved adult stem cells (ASC) and embryonic stem cells (ESC). But the 1995 Dickey-Wicker Amendment banned federal funding for research that destroys human embryos. (President Obama and NIH director Dr. Francis Collins9 wish to allow embryos already doomed to destruction to be experimented on with the government’s monetary blessing.)
The popularity of ESCs has hinged on their potential to transform into any sort of needed cell. But unlike ASCs harvested from the patient himself, ESCs tend to provoke immune rejections. ESCs also tend to produce cancers. ESC clinical trials have been disappointing. ASCs, on the other hand, have already provided safe, effective medical treatments.
The 2007 discovery that ASCs could be reprogrammed to an embryonic-like state suggested new possibilities for stem cell research. It has been hoped that these induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) could do all the things everyone hoped ESCs could do without destroying tiny human lives. As a bonus, if these iPSCs were harvested from the patient himself, they should not provoke immunologic rejection.
Dr. Yang Xu’s team tested the immune response of mice to ESCs and to iPSCs. Because ESCs tend to produce teratoma tumors in mice, the researchers knew that a mouse which did not develop a teratoma was having an undesirable immune response. (This appears a little backwards, but they’re testing for an immune reaction, not treating an illness. The test itself—an excellent way to test the immunogenicity of the stem cells—is a stark reminder that ESCs have a nasty habit of causing tumors!)
Unexpectedly, the mice did not reject the ESCs but did reject the iPSCs. The LiveScience writer uses emotionally charged language, saying the mice “violently rejected” the iPSCs but accepted the ESCs “with ease.” To paint a graphic picture, the mice which rejected iPSCs showed it by “violently” not getting tumors. The mice that accepted the ESCs did so by developing tumors “with ease.”
The LiveScience writer brands the test a failure for iPSCs. He makes his bias plain, stating “the intent of this conservative Christian-based law was to stop all research on human embryos — or more precisely, on a blastocyst, a collection of a few dozen undifferentiated cells — because a considerable percentage of Americans consider this human life with a soul.” He goes on to say, “Science, however, tells a different story, one in which humans evolved over the course millions of years [sic], with no clear distinction between the last ape ancestor and the first human with a soul.”7
Human beings are created in the image of God, distinctly different from animals. Therefore, we seek to protect unborn human beings.
LiveScience says, “From a scientific perspective, embryos bring the potential of life — whether that life is among the approximately 150 million babies born each year, or among the approximately 25 percent of all fertilized eggs lost in a natural miscarriage, or among the countless blastocysts thrown away daily at fertility clinics, or among the millions of patients who someday could be cured through stem cell research.” Thus the writer ignores the value of Dr. Xu’s findings, apparently to gain support for ESC funding, implying that since lots of embryos die on their own, killing them is no big deal.
Dr. Xu’s results do not doom iPSCs. First of all, there is more than one way to prepare iPSCs—Dr. Xu’s lab tried two ways and got varying results. No doubt more methods will be discovered. Furthermore, as Dr. Xu says, “Our immune response assay [the mouse-teratoma test] is a robust method for checking the immune tolerance, and therefore, the safety of iPSC that may be developed.”10 He adds, “This result doesn't suggest that iPSCs cannot be used clinically.” He believes only certain types of iPSCs will provoke immune rejection. In other words, Dr. Xu found out what didn’t work. And he developed a good test for stem cell safety.
Thomas Edison reportedly discovered 700 ways not to make a light bulb before finding one that worked. So let’s avoid dashing all hopes of iPSC’s potential just because we found out that they behave very much like the ESCs they are supposed to imitate.
Psychologists recently studied the impact of negative gossip. Volunteers were shown photos along with positive and negative comments. Then, peering at those faces alongside neutral photos in a binocular viewer, they tended to pay more attention to faces associated with slanderous remarks.
Because the study measured unconscious visual behavior, psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett comments, “Gossip doesn't just influence your opinions about people, it actually influences how you see them visually.” She adds, “Usually we assume that what you see influences what you feel, but here we have a case where what you feel about someone influences what you see visually.”11 She believes “this strategy may have evolved to protect us from liars and cheaters. If we see them for longer periods of time, then we can gather more information about their behavior.”
Some interpretations go even farther. Knox College psychologist Frank McAndrew, for instance, is excited about these results from an evolutionary perspective. He says, “For years, people like me have been saying that our intense interest in gossip is not really a character flaw. It's part of who we are. It's almost a biological event, and it exists for good evolutionary reasons. . . . If somebody is a competitor or somebody is higher than you in the food chain, you want dirt about them. You want negative information, because that's the stuff you can exploit to get ahead.”
God actually has quite a bit to say about gossip in the Bible. He associates talebearers with untrustworthy flatterers in Proverbs 20:19 and those who cannot be trusted to maintain confidences in Proverbs 11:13. He describes the impact of human eagerness for a juicy bit of dirt in Proverbs 26:22: “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.” He associates gossip with injustice, false witness, and hatred in Leviticus 19:16. And He points to the devastating conflicts gossip sparks when He says in Proverbs 26:20 “Where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.”
Thus, the evolutionary man-centered view looks upon gossip as a protection and personal weapon in a dog-eat-dog world. But gossip is often untrue. There should be no survival advantage associated with false information. God, on the other hand, sees the urge to gossip as sinfully tempting and universally destructive. He exhorts us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
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