Thursday, February 23, 2017

John Lennox is a No-nonsense Guy

John Lennox (standing) debating the late Christopher Hitchens, March 2009
John Lennox, mathematician and Christian apologist, is a no-nonsense guy. He tends to cut to the heart of a matter. To Stephen Hawking, he asks, "But how did gravity exist in the first place? Who put it there? And what was the creative force behind its birth?"

Lennox believes that the existence of a Creator is the only logical and reasonable explanation for existence of the universe. He has said, "For me, as a Christian believer, the beauty of the scientific laws only reinforces my faith in an intelligent, divine creative force at work.

In his book God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?, he writes, "Indeed, faith is a response to evidence, not a rejoicing in the absence of evidence.”

He wrote, "Faith is not a leap in the dark; it’s the exact opposite. It’s a commitment based on evidence… It is irrational to reduce all faith to blind faith and then subject it to ridicule. That provides a very anti-intellectual and convenient way of avoiding intelligent discussion.”

Dr. Lennox has defended the Christian faith in numerous debates. He has debated Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Victor Stenger, Michael Tooley, and Peter Singer.

At The Veritas Forum, Lennox discussed the limitations of science and critiqued the claim that science has buried God. Watch the video.

John Lennox earned an M.A. and PhD. degree at the University of Cambridge. He was awarded a D.Sc. degree in mathematics by the University of Cardiff for his research. Lennox also holds a D.Phil. degree from the University of Oxford, and an M.A. degree in bioethics from the University of Surrey.

Lennox is Professor of Mathematics (emeritus) at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford. He also is an Associate Fellow of the Said Business School, Oxford University, and teaches for the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme. Additionally, he is an Adjunct Lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, and at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, as well as a Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum.

He has published over seventy peer-reviewed articles on mathematics and co-authored two Oxford Mathematical Monographs and has worked as a translator of Russian mathematics.

John Lennox was born in Northern Ireland in 1943. His father operated a store in Armagh. He is married to Sally and the couple have three children and five grandchildren. Lennox enjoys learning languages. He speaks English, Russian, French, and German. Other hobbies include amateur astronomy and bird-watching.

Slide Presentations Due in April

You are to prepare either a Power Point presentation on an approved topic from the list below.
Earth's Two Highest Mountains
The Three Longest Rivers of the World 
The Tides 
The Great Barrier Reef of Australia 
The Mariana Trench
Hurricanes and Cyclones 
The Afar Rift
The Dead Sea
Plate Tectonics
Metalloids and Semiconductors 
Gem Stones of the Bible 
Monuments of the Biblical World
 Snowflakes (related to work of Wilson Bentley)
Wild Cats of Asia 
Archaic Technologies Related to Combat
Circles of Standing Stones
Pyramids of the Ancient World
Theories of Time 
Time Measuring Devices Throughout History


The presentation must have 20 slides.

Each slide must have an image.

You are limited to nine words on a slide.

You will present this to the class in April.

Here are tips for producing an excellent PPP.

Roger John Williams

Roger John Williams

Roger John Williams (1893-1988) was an American biochemist who spent his academic career at the University of Texas at Austin. He is known for concentrating and naming folic acid and for his roles in discovering pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, lipoic acid, and avidin. Other work in chemistry involved folinic acid, synthesis of vitamin B12, and pioneering work on inositol.

Roger Williams became well known for his popular works on nutrition. He was deeply concerned that many children, even in developed countries, receive poor nutrition and "are unaware that good nutrition could make a vast difference in their lives." (Dr. Roger J. Williams, The Wonderful World Within You, p. 51)

Williams was a prolific writer. He produced hundreds of scientific papers and a number of textbooks. He was especially interested in the genetic and metabolic uniqueness of the individual, and the possibility of treating health problems and alcoholism with diet. This is all the more remarkable when taking in account Roger's chronic eye problems. For most of his life he suffered from eyestrain caused by aniseikonia, a condition that was unknown until about 1930. In 1941 he began to wear special glasses to treat the condition. He was then 50 years old.

Williams was a well-rounded individual who enjoyed golf and trout-fishing. He spoke fondly of wading in clear mountain streams in Oregon, even if there were no fish to catch. He was an accomplished musician who played the violin and the piano.

Roger was born in India where his American parents served as pioneer missionaries. His parents were Robert Runnels Williams (1839 - 1916) and Alice Evelyn Mills Williams (1857 - 1921). When Roger was two years old, his family returned to the United States and Roger grew up on an 800-acre ranch in Greenwood County, Kansas (near Eureka), and later lived in Redlands, California.

The Rev and Mrs. Williams with their children in Redlands, California in 1915
From left to right: Robert, Henry, Paul, Alice [Linsley] and Roger

His father designed and supervised the building of the Baptist church and seminary in Ramapatnam, Tamil Nadu (Ramayapatnam, Andhra Pradesh) in India. It was built by his seminary students, most of whom had never seen a two-story building or an architectural plan. The photograph below was evidently pressed at some time against a book or document that partially imprinted itself onto the photo. The seminary building (shown below) is still in use today and is visible in Google Earth at coordinates 15.03827N, 80.03919E.

He attributed his early interest in chemistry to the influence of his brother Robert R. Williams, eight years his senior, also a distinguished chemist. Robert is known for the discovery and synthesis of thiamine (vitamin B1).

Roger received his bachelor's degree from the University of Redlands in 1914. He earned a teaching certificate from the University of California, Berkeley and worked as a science teacher for a year in Hollister, California. He taught chemistry, physics and general science. Roger later referred to this as “the hardest work I ever did.”

After a year of teaching, Roger began graduate work at the University of Chicago. He received his Ph.D. in 1919. While at the University of Chicago, Roger met Julius Stieglitz. Stieglitz further inspired Roger's interest in organic chemistry.

Williams taught at the University of Oregon from 1920 to 1932. There he began serious research as a chemist and discovered pantothenic acid. He taught at Oregon State College from 1932 to 1939. In 1939 he moved to the University of Texas at Austin. In 1940 he founded and became the founding director of the Biochemical Institute. With funding from Benjamin Clayton, the Institute later became known as the Clayton Foundation Biochemical Institute. Williams was the director of the Clayton Foundation from 1941 to 1963. 

In 1946, Roger Williams was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He also served as the president of the American Chemical Society in 1957.

Roger married Hazel Elizabeth Wood on August 1, 1916. The couple had three children: Roger J Williams, Janet Wilcox, and Arnold Williams. Hazel died in 1952.

Roger remarried Mabel Phyllis Hobson and became the stepfather to her son, John W. Hobson. Roger Williams died on February 20, 1988. Mabel died in 2004.

Roger John Williams is buried in Austin Memorial Park Cemetery in Travis County, Texas. Besides his professional accomplishments, Williams left a legacy through his family, his friendships, his students, his writings, and his Christian faith.

The Trappist-1 System

TRAPPIST-1 (2MASS J23062928-0502285) is an ultra-cool dwarf star located about 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Aquarius. With our present technology it would take about 700 years to travel there.

TRAPPIST-1 will provide scientists with data that will help them to better understand the formation of solar systems. Orbiting this star are seven rocky planets about the size of Earth. The exoplanets orbit in tight circles around their sun.

Astrophysicists believe that the levels of radiation may be low enough for organisms to exist in this system. They speculate that there might be water. However, it takes more than water for a planet to be habitable. The planet also needs a magnetic field strong enough to protect life from radiation and solar winds.

Amaury Triaud, of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge in England, told reporters on February 21, "We can expect that, within a few years, we will know a lot more about these planets, and with hope, if there is life there, [we will know] within a decade." 

The research team, led by Michaël Gillon of the University of Liège in Belgium, studied the star using the TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST), located at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. This is how TRAPPIST-1 received its name.

Watch this NASA video to learn more about TRAPPIST-1.

The Coldest Place on Planet Earth?

Vostok Station is a Russian research station in inland Princess Elizabeth Land, Antarctica. Vostok Station has an ice cap climate, with subzero cold year round. Research done there includes ice core drilling and magnetometry.

The station was founded in 1957 by the Soviet Union at the southern Pole of Cold, with the lowest reliably measured natural temperature on Earth of −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F; 184.0 K).

The Russian word Vostok means "east" and the station was named after Vostok, the lead ship of the First Russian Antarctic Expedition captained by Fabian von Bellingshausen.

It is impossible to confirm that Vostok Station is the coldest place on earth. However, it is true that this is where the coldest temperatures have been recorded.

The Binary Logic of the Biblical Worldview

Google Doodle "How George Boole invented Boolean logic"

Alice C. Linsley

The wisdom of the Law (Torah) is derived from observation of binary sets in nature. These sets are not a human invention. Rather, they present the reality of a Creator who has established hierarchies and fixed boundaries. 

A binary set refers to a universally observed pattern in nature where two entities are naturally linked and complementary. One of the entities in the set is recognized as greater in some observable way than its complement. Biblical theology hinges on this binary view of reality. The binary view is expressed in the biblical assertions that God is greater than man, and life is greater than death. Male-female and sun-moon are binary sets in the Bible.

Today we consider the hierarchy of life-death.

In Deuteronomy 30:18,19, God sets before the Israelites a choice between life and a blessed state or death and a cursed state. The Creator calls heaven and earth as witnesses and urges the people to choose life. A clear distinction is made between life and death, as in Eden a clear distinction was made between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However, the tempter seeks to blur the distinction so that our minds become confused.

A practice that blurred the distinction between life and death was the boiling of a baby goat in its mother's milk. This is forbidden in Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21.This is not merely a dietary restriction to keep a kosher kitchen. The young creature is to be sustained by the mother's milk.

Binary sets attest to the fact that there are fixed patterns in Nature. The east-west axis of the solar arc is an example. The person of faith believes these patterns to be fixed by the Creator. They stand as a witness to the Creator's existence, divine nature, and eternal power. The Apostle Paul speaks of this in Romans 1:19, 20: "For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tracing the Roots of Our Biblical Faith

The phonemes found in modern languages have their point of origin in the same place in Africa that genetics identifies as the birthplace of humans.

All the practices and beliefs of the ancient Hebrews have their origin in Africa. This includes circumcision, the male priesthood, animal sacrifice, divine protection through the blood, the veneration (not worship) of ancestors, and belief in a supreme Creator assisted by lesser divine powers, like angels.

The Biblical worldview and religious practices of the ancient Hebrew (Habiru) reflect those of the common ancestors of the Hebrew, the Khoisan, the San, the Ngunis and the Bantu. All emerge from the same Mt-DNA genetic root, Haplogroup L. 

L is the DNA macro-haplogroup that is at the root of the human phylogenetic tree. It traces humans from the so-called Mitochondrial Eve (not the same as Biblical Eve). Mitochondrial Eve lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago.

Abraham's ancestors listed in Genesis 4, 5, 10 and 11 are in Haplogroup R1b, which emerged out of macro-haplogroup L.

The highest density of R1b in Africa is in
Noah's homeland in the region of Lake Chad.

So how old is the Biblical worldview? It is the oldest worldview. This is supported genetics, linguistics and archaeology.

Here is an important principle in cultural anthropology: The more widespread the culture trait the older it is.

One of the oldest known practices is red ocher burials. Red ochre or hematite was mined in the Lebombo Mountains of southern Africa many thousands of years ago. It represents blood covering or divine protection. (The study of blood is called hematology.)

H.B.S. Cooke’s team discovered the 70,000 year grave of a small boy, buried with a seashell pendant and covered in red ochre in the Lebombo Mountains of southern Africa. This is the location of the oldest known mining operations in which thousands of mining tools have been found in tunnel mines. The custom of red ochre burial in the archaic world was widespread and therefore, it is recognized as an extremely old custom. Consider these archaeological discoveries:

A man buried 45,000 years ago at La Chapelle-aux-Saints in southern France, was packed in red ochre. 

“The Red Lady of Paviland” in Wales was buried in red ochre about 20,000 years ago. Her skeletal remains and burial artifacts are encrusted with the red ore.

P.L. Kirk reports that prehistoric Australian aboriginal burials reveal pink staining of the soil around the skeleton, indicating that red ochre had been sprinkled over the body. The remains of an adult male found at Lake Mungo in southeastern Australia were copiously sprinkled with red ochre. The Aborigines have priest who are called "red ochre men."

The ‘Fox Lady’ of Doini Vestonice, Czechoslovakia (near Russia) who was burial 23,000 years ago, was also covered in red ochre.

A 20,000 year old burial site in Bavaria reveals a thirty-year-old man entirely surrounded by a pile of mammoth tusks and nearly submerged in a mass of red ochre.

In the La Braña-Arintero cave in the Cantabrian Mountains of Spain, 7000 year old skeletons were discovered in 2006. The bodies were covered with red ochre.

Two flexed burials were found in Mehrgarh, Pakistan with a covering of red ochre on the bodies. These date from about 5000 BC.

Native Americans used red ochre for ceremonies and burials.