Why we are here:

Our signature Bible passage, the prologue to John's Gospel, tells us that Jesus (the Logos) is God and Creator and that He came in the flesh (sarx) to redeem His fallen, sin-cursed creation—and especially those He chose to believe in Him.

Here in Bios & Logos we have some fun examining small corners of the creation to show how great a Creator Jesus is—and our need for Him as Redeemer. Soli Deo Gloria.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Grays, browns and a splash of green

Click on the photos to enlarge them
A walk in the woods yesterday revealed mostly grays and browns, as would be expected in mid-February. But the ground ivy (or Gill-over-the-ground or Creeping Charlie) was showing off its first leaves. Charlie says, “Who cares if it’s 32 degrees out here—I want to photosynthesize!” Some photographic trickery reveals the intricacy of the leaf’s vascular system and even individual cells, if you look closely.

Meanwhile, the saprophytic fungi can’t, or care not to photosynthesize, preferring to dine from a fallen tree, their hyphae secreting enzymes to digest their meal extramurally. Recycling is their business.

Last year’s grasses, sere and broken, in sun and shadow, exhibit a palette of ecru, coffee, ochre, umber—you name the brown—it’s there.

The walk, the close observation, the photographing, the reflection, all make me think of
Edwin Way Teale, the writer who stirred my fascination with nature in my boyhood days. Wish I could find my copy of Circle of the Seasons. Maybe it’s off to Amazon.com in search of a replacement.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two cuddly babies born on the same day--what contrasting differences their lives have made!

The illustration is presented courtesy of Creation-Evolution Headlines. On this important day of double commemoration, the best thing I can do is to refer you to that site. Spend some time reading the article here. Click on the links to Steve Austin's ICR article and video. They present an excellent example of how the reading and placing credence in two different books can lead two people along two different paths in their thinking--each with huge society-altering consequences.

Society-altering consequences, you say?
Darwin: "scientific" support of racism.
Lincoln: significant step in correcting the problem of racism.

In Darwin's case, the book was Lyell's Principles of Geology. In Lincoln's case, surely Holy Scripture played a large part in his presuppositions and decision making. Much of Lyell's work has since been discounted; God's Word never will be.

And don't be a stranger to Creation-Evolution Headlines. I have it among my links over to your right. It is a constant source of insightful analysis and debunking of evolutionary literature.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So harsh!

If you are new here, be sure to scroll down and read the last post, or this one will make no sense.

One of the customers (as one of my favorite columnists calls his readers) commented in an email that my anti-alcohol polemic was harsh, over the top and indefensible. Any fool, he proclaimed, knows that red wine has great health benefits and that moderate drinkers have fewer heart attacks and strokes.

Well, there may be some truth to those claims, but I’ll risk going without those perks, thank you. The Lord has taken care of me without my partaking since probably 1968, except for the time that I was invited to take communion in a church that used alcoholic wine for the purpose, and perhaps a courtesy lip touch of champagne at a wedding reception.

But let me tell you a little more about that lowly fungus that produces the stuff. After I tell you, you’re less likely to call it lowly. With a name like Saccharomyces cerevisiae, one dare not call it lowly.

Yeast is a Eukaryote. A what? That’s what I said—a Eukaryote, an organism with “advanced” cell structure with a nucleus—as opposed to cells like bacteria, which are supposed to be simpler, but aren’t. I’ve said it a thousand times here and everywhere—there is no such thing as a simple living organism or cell thereof!

All living cells have PhDs in biochemical engineering. They know how to make hundreds or thousands of very complex molecules that very smart human chemists struggle to reproduce in multi-million-dollar, government-funded laboratories—if they can do it at all. Hundreds of precisely constructed protein molecules for their structure and function, fats and oils, carbohydrates and vitamins are all engineered under instructions from their DNA. Their membranes exercise precise control over what enters and leaves.

All the operations of a cell, including yeast cells, require energy, which is obtained by “burning” sugar in a precisely-controlled, multi-stepped process. When operating most efficiently, with oxygen used in the final step, cellular respiration produces two simple waste produces, carbon dioxide and water. But when deprived of oxygen, the process stops short, producing carbon dioxide and a still rather large molecular waste produce, our old acquaintance ethyl alcohol.

Yes, ethyl alcohol is a waste product, which in my anti-booze zeal I have been known to call fungus urine. Well, it isn’t really urine because it isn’t a nitrogenous waste, but using the term tends to get peoples’ attention.

Of course, yeast produces ethanol only when cruel humans confine it in a low oxygen fermentation vessel or lump of bread dough, forcing it to self-intoxicate and die in its own waste. If given plenty of oxygen, it carries on respiration just like the rest of us and lives a long, happy life. And, as part of its own defense against invading germs, it produces an extremely useful molecule in its cell walls—a molecule that has recently been isolated and has been found very useful as an immune system strengthener. It’s called
3-6 Beta-glucan, (pictured above). Taken as a supplement, it is thought to strengthen all those hard-working white blood cells that fight off invading germs.

Another marvel of biochemistry is a molecule engineered by grape plants and incorporated into the skin of their fruit. It’s the compound that gives red wine its supposed health benefits. It’s called
Resveratrol, (See above). It has had some publicity lately on 60 Minutes. Watch it here. One pill of the product pictured on the bottle equals the Resveratrol content of 165 glasses of red wine—and won’t even make you dizzy. So if we’re of a mind to, we can get the benefits without the poison. Yes, poison. (There he goes again, being so harsh.)

God has given us all things to enjoy richly (I Tim 6:17). He has engineered in every sort of creature thousands of special chemical compounds having properties that can add to our pleasure, health and longevity in His sin-cursed creation. He has allowed medicine men ranging from “primitive” shamans to PhDs to discover and refine a cornucopia of these substances and put them to use for our benefit. So I say, why not use those special molecules that the Creator has provided—and let the waste products be what they are—waste.

Now, having left that bottle of Beta-glucan on my desk for a couple of days while writing this post—and having forgotten to take any—I feel a sniffle coming on. So it’s off to the kitchen for one of those small capsules and a good belt of Welch’s (non-fermented) grape juice. Not at all harsh.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Winter nature blogging perilous to writer and reader

These winter months are dangerous for nature bloggers—and for their readers. In my case I get lazy about taking hikes and slogging through slush in search of photographic subjects. The danger lies in the fact that, in the absence of colorful subjects to image, my thoughts veer toward the political and its biblical implications as well as other negative thoughts about fallen human nature (with which we are all born) and its consequences that we witness every day. I went negative in the last post—and it will get worse, I suspect.

If you’ve stuck with me this far you’ve got to be wondering where I’m heading. Those with any sort of biology/biochemistry background may have gotten a clue from the illustrations.

The fancied-up diagram that looks somewhat like a Shmoo (only older Al Capp fans will understand) illustrates the tremendous complexity of a living organism (a fungus) that we usually think of as simple—if we think of it at all. It’s common baker’s yeast,
Saccharomyces cerevisiae . The other stick figures are structural formulas for the first and last stages in one of yeast’s metabolic processes—alcoholic fermentation. It’s the process that under anaerobic conditions partially “burns” sugar (glucose) and produces ethanol—ethyl alcohol.

Ethanol is good stuff. It’s a useful solvent and fuel. We’ve probably got some mixed with the gasoline in our tanks right now. And of course, because the other waste product of fermentation is carbon dioxide gas, it’s what makes bread dough rise. What happens to the yeast in the process may be a clue to where this little blogotribe (a neologism?) is heading. Yes, the yeast poisons itself to death by producing the alcohol.

Yes, you guessed it: ethanol is poisonous, only slightly less so than Methanol (wood alcohol). Methanol will kill you in minutes—ethanol takes years, unless, under its influence, you hit a tree first—or someone else under its influence hits you. It destroys the brain; it destroys the liver; it destroys marriages; it destroys families; it destroys lives.

Gracious! What set this guy off? Well, I’m always “off” when it comes to talking about booze. Forty-one years of public school teaching gave me a lot of experience with the negative effects of the stuff—on my fantastic students and their families. I have spent a lot of time shedding tears and praying about them through the years.

Now wait a minute, you old prude! Who are you judging? Not judging anybody—I’m judging the stuff—and the society that has kids growing up immersed in it. A fish doesn’t know it’s wet, does it? And booze is so much a part of our society (if you can call it society any more) that our children probably think it’s normal. It’s not!

OK, at Bios & Logos we’re supposed to back up the Bios with the Logos. What is your biblical defense for this bloviation? Well, let’s give it a go.

Alcohol was probably involved when society was speeding to corruption in a hand basket in
Genesis 6; But the first recorded incident of abuse involved Noah. Right off the boat he planted a vineyard, processed the grapes, got plastered and embarrassed himself; and the whole family. The effects were felt for generations afterward.

Warnings against use or at least abuse are scattered through the Old Testament, but Proverbs provides some gems. Check out
20:1; and 21:17; But.31:3-7; is the real kicker. Do you want to be a “king” or one who is “perishing”? The sad truth is that most are perishing. God’s common grace provides some momentary forgetfulness of their woes, for He knows they have nothing but everlasting woe in their future. Strong (non-alcoholic) medicine!

In the New Testament, Paul tells us “not to get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Holy Spirit”. Don’t want to be debauched, do you?

Well, what about Paul’s
advice to Timothy?; Now, with a good W. C. Fields voice, say “for medicinal purposes”.

Now that I have added way too much yeast to this blog post and have over-filled your bread maker, I’ll end it with a picture of a Shmoo, for you youngsters out there. After all, he does look a little like the yeasty Pillsbury Dough Boy.