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, August 11, 2010

Some mimics leave a bad taste--when story tellers dishonor their Creator.

You know the story: a harmless species “evolves” to resemble a harmful species and therefore is less likely to be eaten. It’s called Batesian mimicry, named for an English naturalist who spent too much time in the Amazon.

The mimicking of the Monarch by the Viceroy has been used as the standard example for probably a hundred years. The story goes that the Monarch tastes bad because its caterpillars eat milkweed leaves containing nasty cardiac glycoside compounds. These toxins are carried over as the larvae pupate and then metamorphose into the adults. So monarch butterflies taste awful. Supposedly, Viceroys taste good because their caterpillars feed on willow leaves.

The standard story is that the Viceroy (the one with the black stripe across its wing) “evolved” (by random mutations and natural selection, of course) to resemble the Monarch and thus escapes predation because birds associate the orange and black coloration with bad taste.

Then, as happens with so many (especially evolutionary) just-so stories, someone did one too many experiments and falsified the tale. Abdomens (wings omitted to remove the color clues) of both Monarchs and Viceroys were offered to birds—and the birds gagged on both. Turned out that Viceroys taste as awful as Monarchs!

Oh, so it’s not Batesian mimicry after all—let’s call it Muellerian mimicry, in which two harmful species both “evolve” warning colors to discourage predators.

So tell all the stories you want to, and change them to fit some real evidence. The fact is that these two rather unrelated butterflies—with very different looking caterpillars, which feed on different plants—didn’t “evolve” in the first place, nor did any other butterflies or insects or any other life forms. Molecules-to-man Darwinian evolution is an out-dated 19th century just-so story that is being dismantled by real 21st century science almost on a daily basis.

Let’s enjoy God’s creatures for what they really are: evidence of His intricate handiwork—and convicters of those who refuse to see them as such but who choose to worship the creature instead of the Creator who made them (Romans 1:18-25).

Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Feathers are not frayed scales -- period -- end of story!

It has almost become the ruling paradigm that reptiles (dinosaurs, that is) evolved into birds -- in fact that birds are really merely highly evolved dinosaurs, flitting about and singing sweet dinosaur songs.

There are about a zillion reasons why this is a fantasy; and one, illustrated by our photos, is the difference between scales (here shown on a representative reptile -- couldn't seem to find a dinosaur to photograph) and bird feathers (here illustrated by the flank of a cooperative Canada Goose and a somewhat less cooperative Chickadee). I invite you to click on the photos (especially the bird photos) to see at least the superficial details of what makes feathers so special.

The story goes that scales somehow evolved into feathers -- that somehow scales became frayed and became feathers. This story is ridiculous at every level. The vast difference in complexity between the two types of structure should prove the obvious. While scales are formed as mere skin folds (which the snake in the photograph will periodically shed as one piece), feathers originate from follicles whose complexity is difficult to imagine -- with the ability to generate feathers whose complexity is even more difficult to imagine.

And what about those "feathered" dinosaurs dug up in China? They have generated as much controversity among ardent evolutionists as they have between evolutionists and creationists -- and not a small number of out-and-out fraudulent claims.

Of course, the scales vs. feathers difference between reptiles and birds is but one of the multitudinous reasons that the two life forms are of different created kinds. Believing otherwise is a matter of pure darwinian faith and has little to do with real scientific evidence.

If you've been drinking the darwinian Koolaid, it's time to switch from that unhealthful sugar water and start taking big gulps from God's inerrant communication to man -- starting from Genesis 1. Good reading!

Of course, listening to this 15-minute clip might be of value as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCiVaiv0HN0 

Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, July 12, 2010

No such thing as a good-for-nothing

Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese Knotweed) is one unpopular plant. It grows so fast that we, as kids, used to sit and think that we could actually see it growing before our eyes. It's an alien and it's invasive, so when it grows and spreads into huge stands (of huge plants), it crowds out smaller native species. And it's nearly impossible to eradicate, once it gets a foothold. So there is nothing much to like -- we might legitimately call it a "good-for-nothing."

The photos above show the leaves of P. cuspidatum and its unique, not too unattractive fruit. But what on Earth is that bottle of a popular dietary supplement doing here? What is the connection between Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant and anti-aging compound usually assocated with red wine, and a nasty invasive weed?

The truth is that the knotweed plants have the talent for producing and concentrating resveratrol, primarily in their roots, at a concentration hundreds of times greater than any grape can possibly do. Hence, P. cuspidatum has become the primary commercial source of the supplement. It is certainly easy to grow year-round. Grape vines are seasonal and require lots of tender loving care. So the choice is an easy one.

Conclusion: there is really no such thing as a "good-for-nothing" plant. God has given us all things richly to enjoy." We just have to go looking for the good that exists even in the nastiest and most unpopular among us.

Of course, use, enjoy and misuse are all operative words here. Sinful man can always find ways to misuse even the most useful gifts of God. Maybe even grapes. Enough said--don't get me started on that subject.

Now I'll go pop a couple of Resveratrol capsules--maybe I can save my telomeres yet. (Certainly a subject for another blog post.)

Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, July 09, 2010

Of Amberwings and F-22 Fighters

I sat by water's edge for an hour or more, trying, mostly in vain, to photograph Eastern Amberwing dragonflies in flight. They are tiny; they are fast, so even the camera's auto-focus usually failed to catch them accurately. And even shooting six frames per second produced only an occasional moderately clear image. Our one lucky shot, however, caught a surprising feature--the retractable landing gear! With the front pair of legs tucked under the chin and the other two pairs pressed tightly against the "fuselage," this odonate exhibits all the precision engineering of an F-22 Raptor!

Of course, when the Amberwing extends its legs and lands, photography becomes less tricky; and even more of the design features--the radar dome-like head, with 360 degree-vision compound eyes--and especially those crystal-clear amber wings, with their precise pattern of supporting veins!

Billions of dollars were spent engineering and building the F-22 fighter. Only 187 have or will be built. God designed and built the Eastern Amberwing with a snap of His mighty finger--and millions of copies are made, using engineering and manufacturing programs that man can never come close to duplicating.

We should be amazed at His incredible skill and wisdom and at our relative lack thereof.

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, July 08, 2010

No Gestalt -- No Rorschach

I suppose you expect me to tell you to stare at the above and find people, animals or psychological insights. Or perhaps that a switch will flip and you will see an old hag instead of a pretty young lass -- or that you should concentrate intently and eventually you will see Jesus.

None of the above -- although I think I see a fez-wearing, left-facing, large-nosed fellow at the bottom -- and a dog, barking at something below, on the left -- and how about the beret-sporting gent in white, blowing smoke from his nose -- or maybe the whole thing resesembles a map of the Eastern Hemisphere after a thousand years of global warming.

Think anything you want -- it's a free country -- and the fantastically designed, God-given but sin-cursed human mind has almost limitless powers of imagination -- and ability to be tricked.

But our photograph is actually of a perfectly natural outdoor scene -- as evidenced by the mosquito flying off to the northwest -- the severely insect-chewed leaves of the Swamp White Oak. The chewed-up-ness is evidence that Quercus bicolor is a native species, gnawed by native insects. If it were an alien tree, its leaves would probably be in better shape, even in July. It's just another example of one species adapting to another, this time in a food chain relationship.

I am always yapping about imperfect things being evidence of God's curse on the ground (Genesis 3:17-18), but perhaps our chewed up leaves aren't such an example. After all, plants were the food of animals and humans before the entrance of sin. So you insects, eat your fill without guilt.

Soli Gloria Deo

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Three Tummyaches

Duckweed, goose feather or the bug on the feather--which should cause the darwinist the biggest case of indigestion? Answer: all three should be equally as nausiating to the devotee of random mutation and mindless natural selection as mechanisms by which these organisms have originated.

Botanists may call the duckweed a simplified version of a flowering plant, with only one leaf and some dangling roots. But any flowering plant, with its photosynthetic mechanisms, deserves the Darwin Abominable Mystery Award.

Feathers are not frayed reptile scales! While scales are mere epidermal folds, feathers originate from incredibly complex follicles--even more intricate than human hair follicles.

And as for the bug--Nobel Prize Astronomer Fred Hoyle once said than insects are so incredibly complex and weird that they couldn't have originated on Planet Earth--they must have arrived as spores from space.

Don't be duped by the popular literature, or even by "serious" scientific literature, that insists on clinging to increasingly stale, out-dated theories. In fact, doing a little digging into some time-proven literature, such as Genesis 1 and 2, might be profitable for learning about the true origins of life--and everything. But don't forget to go on to Genesis 3, because if you don't understand what happened there, you don't really understand anything about today's beautiful but sin-cursed world.

Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Right Flower/Bee Match

Yesterday, we saw a carpenter bee straddling a milkweed blossom and draining nectar from deep within the flower. No problem for the bee or flower, except for the fact that the energy-rich nectar was produced by the plant precisely for the purpose of attracting pollinators. The bee, however, is taking the nectar without necessarily picking up any of the golden pollen bodies (pollinia) because its feet are avoiding the slots in which they are lying in wait.

Today we see the insect for which the milkweed blossom is intricately designed--the honeybee. The bee perched on the leaf edge has visited several flowers and is literally weighed down with glistening pollinia. She will eventually continue her nectar gathering and will most likely deposit at least some of the pollen on the stigmas of the visited flowers, thus assuring the fertilization of the ovules deep within. In a few weeks, a pod containing hundreds of seeds will develop--and the reproductive cycle will have been completed.

Evolutionists would call the adaptations of bee and flower "co-evolution". But even devout darwinists are beginning to doubt that random mutations and natural selection are capable of producing such intricate mechanisms, let alone producing flowering plants and insects in the first place.

There are untold thousands of plant/insect relationships throughout the biosphere, many even trickier than those shown here. Information theory and probability theory argue powerfully against their existence without the designing power of mind--the mind of the Creator of all things, the God of the Bible, whose Son not only created all things but sustains all of His creation and redeems His elect people from their sin. He is Lord of All. (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17)

Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, July 05, 2010

Getting Down to Bees-ness

Since I have been particularly sporadic in my posts this year, I thought that something a little more spontaneous might correct the situation. Let's try some periodic photos with short blurbs, rather than the longer essays you are used to seeing.

No matter what the subjects of the photos may be--and they will certainly be small examples of God's creative handiwork, as our theme has always been--we should keep two passages of scripture in mind as we stare at the color, form and detail of each photographic subject: Colossians 1:16-17; and Romans 1:18-20. In essence, they say, (1) Jesus made them and holds them together; and (2) We had better recognize Who made them or we are in big trouble. "Under the wrath of God" is a terrible place to be.

So let's get down to business--or bees-ness--with the above photo of a carpenter bee extracting nectar from a milkweed blossom. Both bee and blossom exhibit intelligent design beyond our wildest imagination. Any thought that either could have "evolved" by random mutations and natural selection is an insult to the God Who created them.

Of course, there is a touch of Romans 8:19-22 seen in the photo as well. The carpenter bee is cheating on the flower by stealing nectar without necessarily carrying out the pollination duties for which the flower was designed. Tune in tomorrow to see a better flower-to-pollinator match.

Have you bothered to look up those passages? If not, why not pause to do it now, so you can make some sense of this little blurb. You can look them up in the Searchable Bible link on the right side.

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Have you considered spores lately?

Have you been contemplating the subject of spores these days? Not likely, unless you’re a total botany nut like me. But most likely you have been experiencing—even suffering—the effects of spores during this spring season. Let me explain (be patient—this may take a while).

The photos above, mostly shot within the past month, all have to do with spores of one sort or another…

But sir, you haven’t even given us a definition of the word! What kind of teacher are you?!

OK, a spore is a unicellular (usually microscopic), monoploid reproductive structure which will germinate and grow into a plant if given suitable conditions.

That was not helpful, sir. You’ve only further confused us.

Very well, allow me to at least define some of those terms:

Microscopic: teensy weensy
Unicellular: comprised of one cell
Monoploid (AKA haploid): containing one set of chromosomes
Reproductive: makes a baby something
Germinate: sprout
Grow: get bigger
Plant: a multicellular usually photosynthetic organism
Suitable: nice

Sir, we sense a bit of sarcasm and condescension in some of your definitions.

So be it. Let’s go on. Perhaps describing some of the photos will help. The top two photos show some moss sporophytes.

What’s a sporophyte?

A plant that reproduces by means of spores. And I wish you wouldn’t interrupt so often. You’re beginning to sound like Neil Cavuto!

OK, sir. But we’re only seeking clarification—just trying to get edjacated!

That’s ed-u-cated! Those sporophytes, consisting of a stalk and a spore capsule, produce microscopic spores by the process of meiosis


Look it up for yourself!!

The spores get sprinkled out, using a magnificently designed mechanism involving changes in humidity and those little teeth you see in one of the photos…

But sir…

Yes, Neil?

Magnificently designed? But sir, I thought all good biologists believed in mindless chance mutations and natural selection to produce complexity.

NOT! They’re designed! Anyway, some of the sprinkled spores land on nice moist soil and germinate into gametophytes…and before you rudely interrupt, a gametophyte is a monoploid plant that reproduces sexually by the union of gametes—and don’t tell me you’re not old enough to know what that means! The green moss plants that we usually associate with mosses are the gametophytes. I won’t go into the sexual process here, but it involves antheridia, archegonia, mitosis and the morning dew.

Sir, you are deliberately avoiding an obviously controversial but important subject!

Perhaps I’m merely teasing the next lecture. Today, we are dealing with spores. To continue, the fertilized eggs grow into the sporophytes you see in the photos. It’s all about what we call “alternation of generations.”

The third photo shows the fertile (spore-bearing) frond of a fern. Same story: the spores will be sprinkled out, land on moist soil and grow into gametophytes, which are really small, so we seldom see them—but that’s another story.

But sir…

I’ll ignore that interruption.

But sir, we want to know about the fourth photo—those flowers—what do they have to do with spores? We thought flowering plants reproduced by means of seeds, not spores.

Excellent thought (for a change). The flowers actually are groups of sporangia (spore-bearing organs). We just call them by different names, just to confuse. In fact, flowers produce two kinds of spores: microspores (small ones) and megaspores (big ones). It’s called heterospory. We call the microspores pollen grains (which contain sperms) and we call the megaspores ovules (which contain eggs). And we call the processes of how they get together pollination and fertilization—another tease for the next lecture.

Pardon another rude interruption, sir, but at the start of your bloviation you said that we were experiencing and even suffering the effects of spores during this spring season…oh, we see it now—that yellow stuff all over our cars is pollen—microspores! And the fact that half of us are blowing our noses and popping allergy pills—now we get it!

I am amazed! But don’t blame the pretty chokecherry blossoms in the photo for your problems—because they’re entomophilous! It’s the anemophilous pollen that yellows your cars and causes hay fever.

Now really, sir…


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dead Leaves

It’s nearing the end of January, so I suppose you are wondering why you’re seeing a bunch of dead leaves in this usually seasonally topical blog. The simple reason is that I use this photo as my Windows wallpaper on my computer and it keeps reminding me of its presence and (to me at least) attractiveness, every day.

You can learn a lot by looking at dead leaves. For instance, you can tell what kind of forest community (what kind of trees are growing together) the leaves are a part of. In this case, it’s primarily a community of oaks, beeches and birches. From that information, you should be able to tell something about the forest’s climate and geology, as well as the chemistry of its soil. A veteran Bergen County hiker might be able even to identify the woods where the photo was snapped.

Beyond the ecology, it’s the structure of the leaves themselves that draws me in. Dead as they are, they maintain their intricately engineered structure after the abscission process has nudged them from their parent trees. Fortified with cellulose and lignin, the outer form, especially of the oaks, may endure for months or even years before offering up its structure to dehydration, oxidation and fungal decay, the biosphere’s slow but efficient recycling machine.

A few months earlier, our fallen leaves had been vibrant solar-powered food factories, sucking up Carbon Dioxide and puffing out Oxygen in the process of producing carbo-hydrates, proteins, fats and an amazing cornucopia of other complex organic compounds ranging from pigments to toxic alkaloids. The cell layers of each leaf are engineered for controlled light absorption and gas exchange, while the organelles within each cell are working their magic in biochemical pathways that boggle the minds of biology students and should, when considered without naturalistic bias, cause nightmares for evolutionists. One glance at even a simplified depiction of the Calvin Cycle (oh, that’s what that funny diagram is) should tip any objective mind toward Intelligent Design and away from mindless evolution. (By the way, that biochemical pathway is named after Melvin, not John, as much of a fan of the latter I may be.)

Another glance at our forest floor detritus has me contemplating subjects more profound, such as the condition of the organized church and our individual Christian lives, about externals versus internals and such. I know that’s a stretch, but that’s how the SAITUAHFTC Principle* works (or should work) in this blog.

There is no doubt that the old denominational churches, as well as so-called non-denominational churches, are in big trouble. They have strayed from biblical orthodoxy in countless ways, ordaining women and homosexuals, centering on entertainment, showmanship and seeker-friendly worship—and often straying from the very foundations of the Gospel. Even the conservative churches, while maintaining strict adherence to reformation doctrine, seem sometimes to be spiritually dead, their outward structure hiding inward dryness and decay. The charismatic groups, while claiming to be “filled with the Spirit,” often exhibit bizarre emotionalism, mostly devoid of doctrinal content, stretching the limits of biblical “decent and orderly” behavior in their worship.

So what’s new? The problem with the churches is that they are filled with a bunch of weird, miscreant oddballs called—sinners, saved by grace. And such has it been from the start. The first century churches were a handful for their leaders, always straying into either legalism or permissiveness of gross immorality, protognosticism and other false philosophies. Most of the New Testament epistles were written, at least in part, as correctives of such misbehavior and errant thought. And only two of the letters sent by Apostle John to local congregations included no condemnation from Jesus. The church at Sardis, in particular, was a really “dead leaf” bunch. And the Lord threatened to push the Laodicean leaf off the tree (spew them out of His mouth).

Then there is the rest of church history—one heresy after another having to be fought over and corrected; the construction of a monstrous, legalistic hierarchical organizational structure, gross immorality in leadership, even selling tickets out of Purgatory—so bad that God had to bring the Reformation to bring His Church back to its roots.

One of the tenets of the Reformation is “semper reformanda”—always reforming. That doesn’t mean always changing, as seems to be the habit of the modern church, but rather, constantly re-examining, detecting and correcting our constant tendency to drift from the truth.

But thank God that the dead leaf analogy that started this harangue is only partially and temporarily consistent with truth! Yes, dead leaf churches and congregations have always had to be pushed off the tree—for the survival of the tree. Dead leaves are not only useless, they can—through the accumulation of snow in winter—cause damage to the branches and the entire tree. It is the massive tree—roots, trunk and branches—His Church—that He promised would survive through thick and thin, until He returns.

In another sense, we, as individual believers, are His leaves. Are we clinging to our Branch? No! The Branch is clinging to us—with His almighty strength! He will never let us go! But we too must constantly be practicing semper reformanda, detecting signs of dryness, returning to His Word for nourishment and strength, as we endure the vagaries of life in the forest of His fallen creation. The mere thought of becoming mere skeletons of cellulose and lignin should literally put the fear of God in us.

Yes, dead leaves can get us thinking!

*SAITUAHFTC: Start anywhere in the universe and head for the Cross.
Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A Webby Declaration

The pictured Barn Spider has long ago headed back to the barn for the winter, but I’ve dragged him out photographically because he is such a great example of practically everything. Sooner or later, we’ll probably use him to illustrate several aspects of the intelligent design of his anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. But this time, we will wander far from the biological barn and into the theological woodshed.

As Sir Walter (Scott, that is) said, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Our spider’s web seems a bit tangled, primarily because this nosy photographer got too intimate with a macro lens. But right now, I’ll get nosy with a subject of theological controversy brought about by the publication of a document called
The Manhattan Declaration. (Click on the link and then on the “The Declaration” tab to read the entire document.)

The document is signed by a long list of conservative religious leaders and more than three hundred thousand others who are rightly troubled with the state of American society. It says, essentially, to paraphrase
Howard Beale, “We’re as mad as heaven and we’re not going to take this anymore!” And we’re willing to go to jail as a last resort, if civil disobedience is the only possible response.

The three principles being defended in the Declaration are (1) the sanctity of human life, (2) the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and (3) the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

So where is the web? Where are the tangles? Anyone with even a semblance of a biblical worldview or even a basic human sense of moral values should agree with the Declaration’s premise that we shouldn’t kill babies or old people or people with disabilities; that the “traditional” view of marriage is the only sane one; and that the U. S. Constitution should ensure our right to free speech and public expression of religious views.

The problem, in the view of several conservative Christian theologians, lies with the following statement:
“It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty.”

Proclaim the Gospel? Which gospel? The three groups represented proclaim three different and antithetical gospels!

One of the representative sects of Christendom proclaims a gospel that is, when closely examined, a monstrosity of legalism, ritualism, idolatry and ultimately, blasphemy. It presents a savior who doesn’t really save. Another group practices a religion based almost entirely on its ritualistic liturgy but is mostly unintelligible to outsiders.

Only evangelical Christianity, and then only in its pure Reformation variety, proclaims the true biblical plan of salvation: salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone—thus giving all glory to God alone. In short, it has a Savior who really saves His people from their sins (Matt 1:21).

So the authors of the Declaration dare not proclaim “the Gospel” within their document. They are stuck in the tangles of a theological spider web. While their intensions are good from a moralistic viewpoint, their unwarranted ecumenism thwarts their ability to fight the real battle being waged in this fallen world—the spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of fallen humanity. Or at least, their ecumenical entanglement has them somewhat unequally yoked (2 Cor 6:14).

Moral and societal woes are ultimately spiritual problems. We can take potshots at them and gain some superficial, temporary victories, but only God’s sovereign grace, capturing and transforming sinful human hearts, will win the war.

I’ll leave the links to The Manhattan Declaration here for the time being because it has much to offer. But ultimately it, like our pictured arachnid, might have to go back to the barn. I am still praying about its ultimate disposition.

As one of my favorite theologians says, “The Gospel is ours to proclaim, not to edit.”

Soli Deo Gloria