Monday, April 30, 2007

The debate over creation and evolution, once most conspicuous in America, is fast going global #1

In the beginning: The debate over creation and evolution, once most conspicuous in America, is fast going global, The Economist, April 19, 2007 ...

[Left: Atlas of Creation, Harun Yahya]

THE "Atlas of Creation" runs to 770 pages and is lavishly illustrated with photographs of fossils and living animals, interlaced with quotations from the Koran. Its author claims to prove not only the falsehood of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, but the links between "Darwinism" and such diverse evils as communism, fascism and terrorism. In recent weeks the "Atlas de la Création" has been arriving unsolicited and free of charge at schools and universities across French-speaking Europe. The book is available free as a download of a PDF file, but even zipped it `weighs' over 30 Mb. I have no plans to download and read it, so I am not here endorsing the book, or the views of its author Harun Yahya (aka. Adnan Oktar).

It is the latest sign of a revolt against the theories of Darwin, on which virtually the whole of modern biology is based, that is gathering momentum in many parts of the world. Darwinists make these claims, but they rarely say what those "theories of Darwin" are and substantiate how "virtually the whole of modern biology is based" on them.

This is another example of how Darwinists rely on fallacies to support their theory, in this case the fallacy of Argument from Authority, i.e. "virtually the whole of modern biology is based" "on the theories of Darwin," therefore they must be true.

And this is despite their official position that, "Students should never be told that `many scientists' think this or that" because "Science is not decided by vote, but by evidence" (my emphasis):

"The Framework's [Science Framework for California public schools, California State Board of Education, 1990] most constructive recommendation is that teachers and textbook writers should avoid terminology that implies that scientific judgments are a matter of subjective preference or vote-counting.
Students should never be told that `many scientists' think this or that. Science is not decided by vote, but by evidence. Nor should students be told that `scientists believe.' Science is not a matter of belief; rather, it is a matter of evidence that can be subjected to the tests of observation and objective reasoning.... Show students that nothing in science is decided just because someone important says it is so (authority) or because that is the way it has always been done (tradition).
The Framework immediately contradicts that message, however, by defining `evolution' only vaguely, as `change through time.' A vaguely defined concept cannot be tested by observation and objective reasoning. The Framework then urges us to believe in this vague concept because so many scientists do: `It is an accepted scientific explanation and therefore no more controversial in scientific circles than the theories of gravitation and electron flow.' An appeal to authority is unavoidable, because Darwinist educators cannot afford to reveal that their theory rests squarely on what the Policy Statement calls philosophical beliefs that are not subject to scientific test and refutation." (Johnson, P.E., "Darwin on Trial," [1991], InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, Second Edition, 1993, pp.145-146)

But as Phillip E. Johnson noted above, "An appeal to authority is unavoidable" for Darwinists because "their theory rests squarely on ... philosophical beliefs that are not subject to scientific test and refutation" (my emphasis).

The fact is that if God has supernaturally intervened at strategic points in life'a history (as the Bible claims He has in human history-see for example `tagline' quote below), "influencing key moments in evolutionary history (especially, of course, human evolutionary history)," as Richard Dawkins put it, or causing "miraculous additions at ... stage[s] of descent," as Charles Darwin put it:

"Darwin ... wrote in a letter to Sir Charles Lyell, the leading geologist of his day: `If I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish...I would give nothing for the theory of Natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent.' [Darwin, C.R., Letter to C. Lyell, October 11, 1859, in Darwin F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," [1898], Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, pp.6-7]. This is no petty matter. In Darwin's view, the whole point of the theory of evolution by natural selection was that it provided a non-miraculous account of the existence of complex adaptations. For what it is worth, it is also the whole point of this book. For Darwin, any evolution that had to be helped over the jumps by God was not evolution at all. ... At first sight there is an important distinction to be made between what might be called 'instantaneous creation' and 'guided evolution'. Modern theologians of any sophistication have given up believing in instantaneous creation. ... many theologians ... smuggle God in by the back door: they allow him some sort of supervisory role over the course that evolution has taken, either influencing key moments in evolutionary history (especially, of course, human evolutionary history), or even meddling more comprehensively in the day-to-day events that add up to evolutionary change. ... In short, divine creation, whether instantaneous or in the form of guided evolution, joins the list of other theories we have considered in this chapter." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design," W.W Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986, pp.248-249, 316-317. Emphasis original)

then both "modern biology" and "the theories of Darwin" would be wrong, to the extent that they deny that supernatural intervention by God in life's history!

Then, on Dawkins' (and Darwin's) own admission, what "modern biology" textbooks and journals would have been describing all these years "was not evolution at all" but rather "divine creation" (my emphasis)!

To be continued (time permitting) in part #2.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).

Exodus 31:18. When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

T. rex analysis supports dino-bird link, etc

First an earlier article, that no doubt others have blogged on, as I work down through my backlog of unread science news articles.

[Above: Tyrannosaurus rex femur from Montana's Hell Creek formation, MSNBC]

T. rex analysis supports dino-bird link, MSNBC, Alan Boyle, April 12, 2007 ... For the first time, researchers have read what they say is the biological signature of a tyrannosaur - a signature that confirms the increasingly accepted view that modern birds are the descendants of dinosaurs.

The signature doesn't come from studying the shape of the 68 million-year-old dinosaur's fossilized bones, but from analyzing the organic material found inside those bones. It's not DNA [but] ... collagen proteins that were isolated using techniques on the very edge of what's possible today. Those techniques, detailed in Friday's issue of the journal Science, could open up "a new window into an entirely new approach" for paleontology ... Mary Schweitzer, a paleontologist at North Carolina State University ... and her colleagues emphasized that the protein analysis was just the first step in what could become a worldwide effort to categorize extinct species according to their molecular makeup.

Famed paleontologist Jack Horner, another member of the research team, said he would embark on a world-girdling series of expeditions this summer to see if further samples could be found. ... The tale of the T. rex began with Horner, back in 2003: He and his team found the tyrannosaur's massive leg bone beneath 1,000 cubic yards of rock at the Hell Creek fossil site in Montana, but had trouble fitting the bone inside their helicopter for the airlift back to the lab. When they broke the bone into pieces for transport, they were amazed to find that some of the dinosaur's soft tissues appeared to be preserved within. Previously, paleontologists had thought all the tissues of a fossil turned to minerals over the course of millions of years.

After analyzing the tissues under a microscope, Schweitzer reported in 2005 that they looked similar to the cells and blood vessels found in ostrich bones. But at that time, "we could not directly address what that material was made of," she said ... Schweitzer suspected that some of the material was preserved collagen protein - which is the main organic constituent of bone, left behind when the minerals are removed. She said the material looked like collagen, and it reacted like collagen when chicken antibodies were applied to a sample.

But to confirm her suspicions, Schweitzer turned to John Asara, a specialist in mass spectrometry at Harvard Medical School .... Mass spectrometry is a technique for identifying minute quantities of a substance by measuring its atomic properties, molecule by molecule. ... After removing the minerals and impurities from the bone samples that Schweitzer provided, Asara had less than a billionth of a gram of protein to work with. Nevertheless, he and his colleagues were able to decode seven strings of protein molecules. Those sequences were compared with a large database of collagen data - including sequences that Asara and his team isolated from a modern ostrich and from mastodon bone fragments that were 160,000 to 400,000 years old. ... The researchers took pains to make sure that they had the right sequences to compare, going so far as to create and analyze synthetic proteins that were modeled on the natural proteins in order to check their results. ...

Asara's team had only those seven T. rex protein sequences to work with, and it turned out all of them matched up with modern-day sequences. "Out of seven total sequences, we had three that matched chicken uniquely," Asara told reporters. "We had another that matched frog uniquely, one that matched newt uniquely, and a couple that matched multiple sequences." The bottom line was that the T. rex's biological signature was most like a bird's, at least based on the first fragmentary data. "It looks like chicken may be the closest among all species that are present in today's databases for proteins and genomes," Asara said. ... The researchers said they were heartened to see that different sequences matched the unique signatures of more than one species. That "pretty much convinced us this was very unlikely to be due to contamination," Asara said. ...

The close link to birds was also reassuring, said Thomas Holtz, a paleontologist at the University of Maryland at College Park who was not involved in the research but was familiar with the findings. "It would be totally astonishing if it were any result but that," he [said]. ... Horner told journalists that the findings already have strengthened the dinosaur-bird connection: "It's the first way we can test the hypothesis of relationships. ... This is a test, and we have failed to falsify that dinosaurs and birds are related. It changes our hypothesis to a theory now." ...

The successful test could lead to changes in the way fossil-hunters do their work. Schweitzer and her colleagues speculated that the tissue within the Hell Creek leg bone was so well preserved because the fossil was created in sandstone, where water and chemicals that might have destroyed the proteins could leach away more easily. Also, Horner's team did not apply preservatives to the broken bone that might have destroyed the proteins.

"The big issue here is that these are special fossils," Phil Andrews, an expert on protein analysis at the University of Michigan ... [said]. "These Hell Creek fossils are exceptionally well preserved, and that's what makes this possible." Horner's expedition, involving more than 100 people on nine field crews, would be aimed at finding other fossils that fit the specifications for biological samples. "We're going worldwide looking for exquisite preservation ... looking for specific specimens that are deep in sediments," he ... said ...

See also ABC/Reuters, CBS, FOX News, Livescience, NCSU press release, New Scientist, NewsWise, New York Times, Scientific American , USA Today & Yahoo.

This is further evidence that birds and dinosaurs shared a common ancestor (which I accept), but it is not necessarily evidence that birds are descended from dinosaurs (they could both be descended from earlier non-dinosaur reptiles). For example, they also found proteins "that matched frog [and] newt uniquely" but no one is suggesting that birds descended from frogs or newts, but that they all shared a common ancestor.

Nor is it evidence for evolution since common ancestry is not the same as evolution.

The only way it would "have strengthened the dinosaur-bird connection" would be they had tested (or will in the future) ancient non-dinosaur reptile (eg. archosaur) proteins and found no match to bird proteins. Or if the proteins shared by T-rex and birds are not shared with living represenatives of ancient reptiles, such as crocodiles. Indeed that point was made in a Nature News article which is now no longer free (but still available free online here):

"This is in keeping with the dominant view that birds and dinosaurs are closely related. But the researchers hasten to point out that this does not mean that T. rex's closest modern relative is the chicken - just that the chicken is the closest relative for which collagen sequence is available in public databases. Crocodile and alligator collagen sequences, for example, were not available for comparison."

While this a noteworthy (and newsworthy) achievement, with the exception of a test of non-dinosaur reptile fossil proteins above, I doubt that recovering fragments of ancient protein will add significantly to what systematists can already deduce about ancestral relationships from fossils, comparative anatomy and molecular comparisons. As Holtz said above, "It would be totally astonishing if it were any result but that." And as paleontologist and leading birds-from-dinosaurs proponent Mark Norell said, "I think it's a really great experiment ... But is this going to change the way we look at dinosaurs? Well, probably not."

Cosmologically Speaking, Diamonds May Actually Be Forever, ScienceDaily , April 26, 2007 ... If you've ever wondered about the ultimate fate of the universe, Lawrence Krauss and Robert Scherrer have some good news - sort of. ...

[Right: Measurements of supernovae showed the Universe is expanding at an increasing rate, NASA]

In a paper published in the journal Physical Review D, the two physicists show that matter as we know it will remain as the universe expands at an ever-increasing clip.

That is, the current status quo between matter and its alter ego, radiation, will continue as the newly discovered force of dark energy pushes the universe apart. "Diamonds may actually be forever," quips Krauss ... "The discovery of dark energy has changed everything, but it has changed the view of the future more than the past. It is among the worst of all possible futures for life," says Krauss, who has spent the last few years exploring its implications. In an eternally expanding universe there is at least a chance that life could endure forever, but not in a universe dominated by vacuum energy, Krauss and ... collaborator Glenn Starkman have concluded.

As the universe expands, the most distant objects recede at the highest velocity. ... When their recessional velocity reaches light speed, they disappear because they are traveling away faster than the light that they emit. According to Krauss and Starkman, the process of disappearance has already begun: There are objects that were visible when the universe was half its present age that are invisible now. However, the process won't become really noticeable until the universe is about 100 billion years old. By ten trillion years, nothing but our local cluster of galaxies will be visible.

From the perspective of future civilizations, this process puts a finite limit on the amount of information and energy that will be available to maintain life. Assuming that consciousness is a physical phenomenon, this implies that life itself cannot be eternal, Krauss and Starkman argue.

So if one wants "life ... eternal," the Universe cannot provide it. But Jesus can:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16)!

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).

Exodus 24:12-18. 12The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction." 13Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14He said to the elders, "Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them." 15When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. 17To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The God disunion: there is a place for faith in science, insists Winston

The God disunion: there is a place for faith in science, insists Winston, The Guardian, James Randerson, April 25, 2007 ...

[Left: Lord Winston: Lecture The Science Delusion, University of Dundee]

His nickname is Darwin's Rottweiler and he earned it - and a reputation that spans the globe - with his pugnacious defence of the theory of evolution. But Professor Richard Dawkins' strident views, and the way with which they are delivered, came under surprise attack yesterday from an equally eminent scientist, though one better known for his more avuncular style. Lord Winston condemned Prof Dawkins for what he called his "patronising" and "insulting" attitude to religious faith, and argued that he and others like him were in danger of damaging the public's trust in science. He particularly objected to Prof Dawkins' latest book, The God Delusion, which is an outright attack on religion. "I find the title of 'The God Delusion' rather insulting," said Lord Winston, "I have a huge respect for Richard Dawkins but I think it is very patronising to call a serious book about other peoples' views of the universe and everything a delusion. I don't think that is helpful and I think it portrays science in a bad light."

Lord Winston, an IVF pioneer well known as the presenter of science documentaries ... will argue for a more conciliatory approach to religion in a public lecture at the University of Dundee tonight. Entitled The Science Delusion, it is part of the university's Greatest Minds lecture series. "The reason I've called it the Science Delusion is because I think there is a body of scientific opinion from my scientific colleagues who seem to believe that science is the absolute truth and that religious and spiritual values are to be discounted," said Lord Winston. "Some people, both scientists and religious people, deal with uncertainty by being certain. That is dangerous in the fundamentalists and it is dangerous in the fundamentalist scientists."

Lord Winston, who is a practising Jew, said the tone adopted by Prof Dawkins and others was counterproductive. "Unfortunately the neo-Darwinists, and I don't just mean Dawkins, I mean [the philosopher] Daniel Dennett in particular and [neuroscientist] Steven Pinker are extremely arrogant. I think scientific arrogance really does give a great degree of distrust. I think people begin to think that scientists like to believe that they can run the universe. He added: "I have a huge admiration for Richard Dawkins. But I'm not sure that his way of approaching his view of the universe is wise. Dawkins is not an arrogant man, but I think he does portray certainty in a way that sometimes sounds arrogant".

Prof Dawkins declined to comment on Lord Winston's criticisms until he had seen the full text of the lecture. However, Prof Dennett at Tufts University in the US, said, the dangers of religion had been "swept under the rug" for centuries and needed to be exposed. "[I] think it is time to risk offence and not mince words. Let's find out just how good, or bad, religion actually is," he said. The philosopher AC Grayling at Birkbeck College, London, dismissed Lord Winston's arguments as "tiresome guff". "Belief in supernatural entities in the universe ... is false, and in the light of increasing scientific knowledge about nature has definitely come to be delusional," he said. ... [Lord Winston's criticism of hardline atheist Darwinists like Dawkins, Pinker and Dennett is welcome, and indeed is correct "that he and others like him were in danger of damaging the public's trust in science" (since the vast majority of the public are theists).

However if he was a consistent "practising Jew," Prof. Winston would accept that there is a God and He has supernaturally intervened in human history, including appearing to "Moses ... Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel" (see `tagline' quote).

This is the dilemma that theists like Winston have in modern science, which is overwhelming dominated by atheist/agnostics. If they affirm that God is real and has in fact intervened supernaturally in human history, then they are also affirming that the twin metaphysical pillars of modern science: materialism (i.e. "that the only thing that can truly be said to exist is matter") and naturalism (i.e. "nature is all there is, and all things supernatural ... do not exist") are false.

As for Prof. Grayling's claim that "Belief in supernatural entities ... is false, and ... delusional," it cuts both ways. If there is in fact a God and He did in fact appear to "Moses ... Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel" (not to mention all the other supernatural interventions of God in human history documented in the Bible), then it is Prof. Grayling and his scientific materialistic-naturalistic ilk who are "delusional"! And since Christianity is true, it is Prof. Grayling, along with all those who deny that fact, who are, to that extent,"delusional"!]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).

Exodus 24:1, 9-10. 1Then he said to Moses, "Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, ... 9Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. 11But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Astronomers find first habitable Earth-like planet?

Astronomers find first habitable Earth-like planet, EurekAlert!, 24-Apr-2007, Henri Boffin, European Southern Observatory (ESO) ...

[Above: Artist's impression of red dwarf star Gliese 581's planetary system, EurekAlert!]

Astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, an exoplanet with a radius only 50% larger than the Earth and capable of having liquid water. Using the ESO 3.6-m telescope, a team of Swiss, French and Portuguese scientists discovered a super-Earth about 5 times the mass of the Earth that orbits a red dwarf, already known to harbour a Neptune-mass planet. The astronomers have also strong evidence for the presence of a third planet with a mass about 8 Earth masses. This exoplanet - as astronomers call planets around a star other than the Sun - is the smallest ever found up to now [1] and it completes a full orbit in 13 days. It is 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is from the Sun. However, given that its host star, the red dwarf Gliese 581 [2], is smaller and colder than the Sun - and thus less luminous -the planet nevertheless lies in the habitable zone, the region around a star where water could be liquid! "We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid," explains Stéphane Udry, from the Geneva Observatory (Switzerland) and lead-author of the paper reporting the result. "Moreover, its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth's radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky - like our Earth - or covered with oceans," he adds. "Liquid water is critical to life as we know it," avows Xavier Delfosse, a member of the team from Grenoble University (France). "Because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of the future space missions dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial life. On the treasure map of the Universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X. The host star, Gliese 581, is among the 100 closest stars to us, located only 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra ("the Scales").

[Right: Loca­tion of red dwarf star Gliese 581 in the constellation Libra, Bits of News]

It has a mass of only one third the mass of the Sun. Such red dwarfs are intrinsically at least 50 times fainter than the Sun ..." [This presumably is the original misleading press release that most, if not all, the news stories are based on, e.g. ABC, BBC, Bits of News, Christian Science Monitor, CNews, National Post, New Scientist, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 & 2, Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Independent & USA Today.

While this is a great technical achievement to detect such a small planet, "5 times the mass of the Earth," at such a vast distance, "20.5 light-years away," the press release (and therefore the articles), omits to mention that:

1) A planet "5 times the mass of the Earth" is not "Earth-like." As mentioned in my posts of 22-Feb-06 & 14-Mar-06, even for "planets only a few times heavier than Earth ... the extra gravity ... would crush these [crustal] minerals into ... semi- conductors or metals" resulting in "enhanced heat flow from the planet's core to the surface, which means more volcanoes and more `planetquakes'" (Vergano, D., "Finding 'Super Earth' is a 'Goldilocks' errand," USA Today, February 19, 2006).

2) A "red dwarf" is "far less luminous than our sun, and any planets orbiting them would have to be very close to stay warm enough to allow the existence of liquid water on the surface":

"It is often said that the sun is a typical star, but this is entirely untrue. The mere fact that 95% of all stars are less massive than the sun makes our planetary system quite rare. Less massive stars are important because they are much more common than more massive ones. For stars less massive than the sun, the habitable zones are located farther inward. The most common stars in our galaxy are classified, as M stars; they have only 10% of the mass of the sun. Such stars are far less luminous than our sun, and any planets orbiting them would have to be very close to stay warm enough to allow the existence of liquid water on the surface. However, there is danger in orbiting too close to any celestial body. As planets get closer to a star (or moons to a planet), the gravitational tidal effects from the star induce synchronous rotation, wherein the planet spins on its axis only once each time it orbits the star. Thus the same side of the planet always faces the star. (Such tidal locking keeps one side of the Moon facing Earth at all times.) This synchronous rotation leads to extreme cold on the dark side of a planet and freezes out the atmosphere. It is possible that with a very thick atmosphere, and with little day/night variation, a planet might escape this fate, but unless their atmospheres are exceedingly rich in CO2, planets close to low-mass stars are not likely to be habitable because of atmospheric freeze-out." (Ward, P.D. & Brownlee, D.C., "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe," Copernicus/Springer-Verlag: New York NY, 2000, pp.23-24)

as is the case with this planet Gliese 581c which "is 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is from the Sun." But then "As planets get closer to a star ... the gravitational tidal effects from the star induce synchronous rotation, wherein the planet spins on its axis only once each time it orbits the star. Thus the same side of the planet always faces the star. ... This synchronous rotation leads to extreme cold on the dark side of a planet and freezes out the atmosphere" (my emphasis).

3) "M dwarf stars" which Gliese 581 is, "exhibit flares" which "can increase the relative X-ray radiation by a factor of one hundred to one thousand compared with strong flares on the on the Sun" (my emphasis):

"M dwarf stars pose additional problems for life. Like the Sun, they exhibit flares. Some are stronger than solar flares, and because M dwarf stars are far less luminous, a flare's intensity compared with the star is that much greater. A strong flare on an M dwarf star can increase the relative X-ray radiation by a factor of one hundred to one thousand compared with strong flares on the Sun; the resulting increase in the ultraviolet radiation reaching the planet's surface would also be more intense .Not only would such flares threaten surface life, they would probably strip away a planet's atmosphere more quickly as well. The large starspots associated with flares would cause the star's brightness to vary on longer timescales (by about 10 to 40 percent), mimicking an eccentric planetary orbit. Starspots and flares decline steadily as a star ages. So while the passage of time would mitigate these problems, at any age an M dwarf host star will be a less constant source of energy than a star like the Sun." (Gonzalez, G. & Richards, J.W., "The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed For Discovery," Regnery: Washington DC, 2004, p.134)

which Wikipedia corroborates the above as among the "several factors which may make life difficult on planets around a red dwarf star":

Red dwarf ... Habitability Planetary (Wikipedia) habitability of red dwarf star systems is subject to some debate. In spite of their great numbers and long lifespans, there are several factors which may make life difficult on planets around a red dwarf star. First, planets in the habitable zone of a red dwarf would be so close to the parent star that they likely would be tidally locked. This would mean that one side would be in perpetual daylight and the other in eternal night. This could create enormous temperature variations from one side of the planet to the other, making it difficult for life to evolve. On the other hand, recent theories propose that either a thick atmosphere or planetary ocean could potentially circulate heat around the planet. Another potential problem is that red dwarfs emit most of their radiation as infrared light, while on earth plants use energy mostly in the visible spectrum. But, perhaps the most serious problem may be stellar variability. Red dwarfs are often covered in starspots, reducing stellar output by as much as 40% for months at a time. At other times, some red dwarfs, called flare stars, can emit gigantic flares, doubling their brightness in minutes. This variability may also make it difficult for life to survive near a red dwarf star.

4) Even if astronomers do eventually detect an exoplanet that appears truly Earth-like, i.e. truly Earth-size, is truly an Earth-like distance from its star; which is a single star that is truly a Sun-like G-main sequence star; in a truly near-circular orbit; in a truly Earth-like solar system; at "20.5 light-years away" (i.e. 20 x 63,240 AU = ~1,264,800 times the distance of the Earth from the Sun) yet being "among the 100 closest stars to us," realistically they are never going to know (see "Interstellar travel ...: Interstellar distances," Wikipedia) if it is really is Earth-like.

That is because, "there is more to finding another Earth than detecting a planet the same size and same distance from its star" since if astronomers discovered Venus at that distance they would hail it as the ultimate Earth-like exoplanet, yet close up "Venus has ... hellish conditions ... where 800-degree [Fahrenheit] winds are lashed by sulfuric acid rain":

"But it may not be so easy, suggests University of Minnesota physicist Renata Wentzcovitch and colleagues in the current Science magazine. ... The larger point is there is more to finding another Earth than detecting a planet the same size and same distance from its star, she says. Venus and Earth are very similar, she notes, but have significant differences in their interior chemistry. Venus has a more viscous interior that lead to a planet-sized earthquake hundreds of millions of years ago, she says, and that likely also explains the hellish conditions there, where 800-degree winds are lashed by sulfuric acid rain." (Vergano D., "Finding 'Super Earth' is a 'Goldilocks' errand," USA Today, February 19, 2006).

Quite frankly if these astronomers know all the above (and if they don't then they would be incompetent- which I assume they are not), then according to the late Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman's standards of good science, they are lacking "scientific integrity" and "honesty" in seeking to "fool the layman when ... talking as a scientist," by not giving "all of the information to help others to judge the value of" their "contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction" that they favour:

"But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school-we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty -a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid-not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, And how they worked-to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated. Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. you must do the best you can-if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong-to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. ... In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another .... And it's this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in cargo cult science. ... But this long history of learning how to not fool ourselves-of having utter scientific integrity-is, I'm sorry to say, something that we haven't specifically included in any particular course that I know of. We just hope you've caught on by osmosis. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself-and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you've not fooled yourself, it's easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that. I would like to add something that's not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you're talking as a scientist. ... I'm talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you're maybe wrong, that you ought to have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen. One example of the principle is this: If you've made up your mind to test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should always decide to publish it whichever way it comes out. If we only publish results of a certain kind, we can make the argument look good. We must publish both kinds of results." (Feynman, R.P., "Cargo Cult Science," in "`Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman!': Adventures of a Curious Character," [1985], Unwin Paperbacks: London, Reprinted, 1990, pp.341-343).

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).

Exodus 23:25-33. 25Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span. 27"I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land. 31"I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you. 32Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Chimps More Evolved Than Humans, etc

I am again going to try to reduce my huge backlog of unread science news articles by posting every day brief excerpts of interesting article(s) with my brief comments in [bold and in square brackets]:

Chimps More Evolved Than Humans, Livescience, Jeanna Bryner, 17 April 2007 ...

[Left: "Human-chimp Gene Study Upsets Long-held View," ScienceDaily]

Since the human-chimp split about 6 million years ago, chimpanzee genes can be said to have evolved more than human genes, a new study suggests. The results, detailed online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contradict the conventional wisdom that humans are the result of a high degree of genetic selection, evidenced by our relatively large brains, cognitive abilities and bi-pedalism. Jianzhi Zhang of the University of Michigan and his colleagues analyzed strings of DNA from nearly 14,000 protein-coding genes shared by chimps and humans. They looked for differences gene by gene and whether they caused changes in the generated proteins. [Another example of the Darwinist delusion that "more genetic changes" = "more evolved" and therefore humans' "large brains, cognitive abilities and bi-pedalism" count for nothing! The fundamental problems here are Darwinists' 1) denial of design, so there can be no qualitative but only quantitative changes in the Darwinist worldview; and 2) their fallacy of equivocation on the word "evolution" such that any change, whether forwards, backwards, sideways or oscillating is "evolved"! See also ABC, New Scientist, & ScienceDaily. ]

'Junk' DNA Now Looks Like Powerful Regulator, Scientists Find, Science Daily, April 24, 2007 - Large swaths of garbled human DNA once dismissed as junk appear to contain some valuable sections, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California-Santa Cruz. The scientists propose that this redeemed DNA plays a role in controlling when genes turn on and off. Gill Bejerano, PhD, assistant professor of developmental biology and of computer science at Stanford, found more than 10,000 nearly identical genetic snippets dotting the human chromosomes. Many of those snippets were located in gene-free chromosomal expanses once described by geneticists as "gene deserts." These sections are, in fact, so clogged with useful DNA bits - including the ones Bejerano and his colleagues describe - that they've been renamed "regulatory jungles." "It's funny how quickly the field is now evolving," Bejerano said. [As I have said before, when I started debating with Darwinists in 1994, they used to use what they derisively called `junk DNA' as an argument against design, and IDists like me used to argue that just because we didn't know its function, does not mean that it has no function. So now that `junk DNA' not only has a function, but has a very important function, i.e. "plays a role in controlling when genes turn on and off," that should be an argument for design and against Darwinism!]

Researchers probe fossilized rain forest, USA Today, April 24, 2007, David Mercer ...

[Right: One of the fossils, a pteridosperm, an extinct seed-producing fern-like plant, Livescience]

Standing on the wind-swept flatlands of southern Vermilion County, you might think you'd have to drive the 180 miles to Chicago's Field Museum to find the nearest fossilized tree trunk from the Pennsylvania Age, 300 million years ago. Nah, just drill straight down. That's where coal miners working south and west of Georgetown have unearthed, chunk by fossilized chunk, what has revealed itself over the past few years to be the remains of a fossilized rain forest. It covers about 15 square miles, all more than 200 feet below ground, and probably is the largest intact rain forest from that period ever studied, according to Scott Elrick of the Illinois State Geological Survey. It's that scale that makes what lies just above the Riola and Vermilion Grove mines significant, he said. "We never encountered one whole forest preserved in one shot like this," Elrick said Monday. "The fossils just didn't stop." [Yet another problem for / refutation of Young Earth Creationism. See also Livescience.]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).

Exodus 23:20-23. 20"See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. 22If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. 23My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Re: Mivart and Pusey


As is my policy, I am posting my reply to your private message

[Above: St. Peter Baptizing the Roman Centurion Cornelius, by Francesco Trevisani, 1709, Wikipedia]

on a creation (including Christianity), evolution or intelligent design topic, to my blog CreationEvolutionDesign , after removing your personal information.

----- Original Message -----
From: AN
To: 'Stephen E. Jones'
Sent: Sunday, April 22, 2007 4:12 AM
Subject: Mivart and Pusey

>When are you going to publish the third part of "Dr. Pusey was mistaken in imagining that I wrote the 'Origin ' with any relation whatever to Theology' (Darwin)"? What about Mivart critiques to Darwin's natural selection theory? Have you given up?

Thanks for reminding me. First, as for "Mivart critiques to Darwin's natural selection theory," you are presumably referring to my post of 22-Feb-06 "Mivart's `On the Genesis of Species'" (1871), where I said that I "will ... try to include a Mivart quote at the foot of each post ... ." But the last such Mivart `tagline' quote I posted was on 07-Apr-06: "Discovered: the missing link that solves a mystery of evolution."

And at the end of a post of 30-Aug-06: "Asimov on photosynthesis," I stated, "I have decided to quote a different verse from the Bible on creation as my `tagline' for each post," which I have done so ever since. I also reiterated that on 11-Nov-06, at the end of my FAQ post: "What I believe about Creation, Evolution and Design," and explained, "These quotes may form the basis of a chapter, "Creation in the Bible" in a future book I may write, "Progressive Creation."

And no I haven't "given up." My problem is just lack of time, what with: 1) spending more time on my morning `quiet time' study on "The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ"; 2) walking ~7 kms a day (about an hour and a half) to reduce my weight down from ~87 kgs to ~70 kgs these last ~11 months, and aiming for ~64-66 kgs; 3) ~3-4 hours a day writing my book "Problems of Evolution;" and 4)trying to keep up with reading a never-ending stream of science news articles and saving the more important ones.

Also, my wife and I have become `addicted' over the past year or so, to playing "Settlers of Catan" (highly recommended) with our daughter and her husband one night a week.

In addition to the "Pusey" post of 26-Mar-07 above, I have a number of uncompleted parts of multi-part posts that I hope to get to eventually, including continuations of the following:

15-Feb-07: `The claims of chemical evolution are unreal ... that ... codes, transcription and translation ... and more, appeared in probiotic waters' (Keosian)

17-Feb-07: `the strange skeletal support of the lobe-finned fishes looks as if it had been evolved ... to support a crawling vertebrate' (Broom)

11-Mar-07: `Our confidence in the fact of evolution rests upon copious data that fall, roughly, into three great classes' (Gould) #1

20-Mar-07: Re: Carnivorous plants as "Behe's mousetrap" #1

and an as yet unposted response to a private message: "Evolution and Original Sin by Robin Collins-what seems to be his position on scripture? Your own ideas about Original Sin?" based on his chapter in the book, "Perspectives on an Evolving Creation" (2003).

>Just a bit curious - why this `spiritual' emphasis on your last posts?

I presume you are referring to my "Re: Thoughts on your web page - Jesus' return #1", #2 and #3? My answer is simple, I am a Christian who happens to think that Christianity is true (i.e. irrespective of whether it is believed or not) and I was responding to a question I was asked in a message about my web page, "The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ," and was obeying the Apostle Peter's exhortation to: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15).

Since you brought up the subject of "this `spiritual' emphasis" in my posts, here is a quote of one of the Apostle Peter's sermons in ~40AD, i.e. only ~10 years after Jesus' crucifixion in ~30 AD, that I re-discovered the other day:

Acts 10:34-43. 34Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached- 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39"We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen-by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

Note the public facts that Peter refers to prefacing them with "You know", i.e. what he says is common knowledge that: 1) "Jesus of Nazareth .... went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil" thus showing that "God was with him"; 2) Peter and the other disciples were personally "witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem"; 3) Jesus was "killed" but "God raised him from the dead on the third day"; 4) and "caused him to be seen"; 5) Peter and the disciples even "ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead"; and 6) "All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (my emphasis).

These are eye-witness facts that are otherwise inexplicable (try to imagine a monotheistic Jew claiming that someone he had kept close company with, day in day out, was "Lord of all", i.e. Yahweh, let alone someone who had been publicly executed as a common criminal by crucifixion) unless they are true.

That is, "Jesus Christ" really is, "Lord of all" and "the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead," irrespective of whether or not it is believed, since it will be believed, either willingly or unwillingly, by everyone (Philippians 2:10) when Jesus returns!

>Cheers from ...,

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).

PS: As part of my quoting Bible verses on creation, I am also documenting those many verses where God supernaturally intervenes in the physical world, i.e. not including dreams, visions or words. For example (see below), "The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai." Clearly if God has repeatedly supernaturally intervened in the physical world at strategic points in human history, then there is no reason why He may not have similarly repeatedly supernaturally intervened in the physical world at strategic points in natural history.

Exodus 19:9,16-21. 9The LORD said to Moses, "I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you." Then Moses told the LORD what the people had said. ... 16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, 19and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. 20The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21and the LORD said to him, "Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish.

Re: free e-book "50 Nobelists who believe in God"


[Left: Free e-book, "50 Nobel Laureates and Other Great Scientists Who Believe in God," Tihomir Dimitrov]

----- Original Message -----
From: Tihomir Dimitrov
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2007 5:48 PM
Subject: the free e-book "50 Nobelists who believe in God"

>Hi Stephen,
>The free e-book "50 NOBEL LAUREATES AND OTHER GREAT SCIENTISTS WHO BELIEVE IN GOD" is published on my site at
>You may use as many quotes as you want, whenever you want.

Thanks. I am replying cc. my blog CreationEvolutionDesign because I assume you would like the free publicity for your ebook.


----- Original Message -----
From: Tihomir Dimitrov
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2007 5:20 AM
Subject: a suggestion/request

>Hello Stephen,
>The anthology of quotations "50 NOBEL LAUREATES AND OTHER GREAT SCIENTISTS WHO BELIEVE IN GOD" is published on my site at
>If you would like to add a link to my site temporarily (e.g. on your page "Other quotes sites"), it would be greatly appreciated.

I have added "50 Nobel Laureates and Other Great Scientists Who Believe in God: Free ebook by Tihomir Dimitrov" to my web page: Creation/Evolution Quotes: Other quotes sites.

>Best to you,
>Tihomir Dimitrov

Thanks. Best wishes to you too.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).

Exodus 17:1-7. 1The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?" 3But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?" 4Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me." 5The LORD answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Re: Thoughts on your web page - Jesus' return #3


Continued from part #2.

[Above: Jesus curses a fig tree (Mark 11:14), The Brick Testament]

----- Original Message -----
From: AN
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2007 6:47 AM
Subject: Thoughts on your web page - Jesus' return

>In response to his disciples' question in Matthew 24, Jesus gives us the parable of the fig tree. The fig tree of course typifies ISRAEL! Jeremiah 24 and Hosea 9:10 help us to understand the parable of the fig tree and also Jesus' cursing of the barren fig tree in Matt 21. I understand that fig trees acquire fruit first and leaves afterwards - the fig tree in Matt 21 was therefore boasting that it had fruit.

Agreed, that the parable of the fig tree (Mk 11:12-14,20-21 = Mt 21:18-20) signifies Israel (Hos 9:10, Mic 7:1-2; Jer 24:1-10; Lk 13:6-9). But that does not directly pertain to the Second Coming of Christ, so I have not included that in my study on "The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ."

I do however have under "Signs of Second Coming" an uncompleted sub-section:

Acceptance by Israel "Repent, then, and turn to God ... that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you-even Jesus" (Ac 3:19-20); Mt 23:39; Ac 1:6-7; Lk 13:35; Rom 11:25-26.

>Touching on the Genesis account of creation. I had been prepared to accept that creation took up to 6,000 years on the day for a year principle. Not knowing how to answer the Ex Nihlo evening and morning comment, I've tended back towards the literal six days of creation view, I think that a previous creation is quite possible and that the earth and sun etc existed long before creation. Any thoughts?

This sounds like the Gap Theory. If so, it has major problems as follows:

"Gap Theory. The gap or reconstruction theory is a scheme to reconcile the long geologic ages in the earth's history with the Genesis creation account. It basically advocates that the first two verses of Genesis I describe a condition that lasted an indeterminate length of time and preceded the six days of creation in Gen. 1:3ff. There was creation (1:1), followed by a catastrophe (1:2), in turn followed by a re-creation (1:3ff.). All the needed geologic ages in earth's pre-Adamic history may be found either between 1:1 and 1:2 or during 1:2. Early expressions of the view can be traced to Episcopius (d. 1643), a theologian who taught at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, and to the scientist J. G. Rosenmuller (d. 1815). In nineteenth century England it was espoused by the theologian Thomas Chalmers, geologist William Buckland, biblical scholar John Pye Smith, and church historian J. H. Kurtz. In the United States the view was widely disseminated by G. H. Pember, Harry Rimmer, and the first edition of the Scofield Reference Bible (1909). For many today the day-age theory has replaced the gap theory as the best explanation of the geologic ages and Genesis 1. Others have adopted flood-catastrophism. Criticism of the gap theory has arisen from various circles, and summaries may be found in the works of Allis ["God Spake by Moses," 1951], Ramm ["The Christian View of Science and Scripture," 1954], and Young ["Christianity and the Age of the Earth," 1998] cited below. In essence the criticism involves (1) the improbability that only one verse (Gen. 1:1) deals with the original creation while so many sentences are devoted to a secondary or re-creation process; (2) the lack of solid exegetical evidence to support the rendering of the Hebrew verb `was' [Heb. waw] in Gen. 1:2 as `became'; (3) the sense of `without form' and `void' [Heb. tohu and bohu] meaning nothing more than `empty,' `uninhabited' [Isa 45:18; Jer 4:23]; (4) elaborate theories of angelology and demonology derived from Isa. 14 and Ezek. 28 and inserted in Gen. 1:2 being unjustified; and (5) such a theory turning the entire field of geology over to the geologists since the Bible [then] yields no reference to earth's earliest formation." (Johnson, A.E., "Gap Theory," in Elwell, W.A., ed., "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology," [1984], Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1990, Seventh Printing, p.439. Emphasis original).

As for "Not knowing how to answer the Ex Nihilo evening and morning comment," i.e. the first six days (but not the seventh) of Genesis 1, ending with "And there was evening, and there was morning" (Gen 1:5,8,13,19,23,31), you may be interested that Cyrus I. Scofield the main populariser of the gap theory through this note in his Scofield Reference Bible:

"[Gen 1:]2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. ...(1:2) Two main interpretations have been advanced to explain the expression `without form and void' (Heb. tohu and bohu). The first, which may be called the Original Chaos interpretation, regards these words as a description of an original formless matter in the first stage of the creation of the universe. The second, which may be called the Divine judgment interpretation, sees in these words a description of the earth only, and that in a condition subsequent to its creation, not as it was originally (see Isa.45:18, note; cp. also notes at Isa. 14:12; Ezek. 28:12)." (Scofield, C.I., ed., "The New Scofield Reference Bible: Authorized King James Version," [1909], Oxford University Press: New York NY, Revised, 1967, p.1. Emphasis original)

in another note on the very next page, conceded of "The use of `evening' and `morning'" that "the frequent parabolic use of natural phenomena may warrant the conclusion that it simply means that each creative day was a period of time marked off by a beginning and ending":

"([Gen ]1:5) The use of `evening' and `morning' may be held to limit `day' to the solar day; but the frequent parabolic use of natural phenomena may warrant the conclusion that it simply means that each creative day was a period of time marked off by a beginning and ending (cp. Ps. 90:6). In any event the sun did not become a measure of time before the fourth day, as seen in vv. 14-18." (Scofield, Ibid., p.2)

Also, as the late evangelical theologian Bernard Ramm pointed out, "If one takes a metaphorical interpretation of the word yom ["day"], then mutatis mutandis the expression evening and morning, must be metaphorical":

"The expression `evening and morning' is capable of several interpretations. Some take it to mean a period of rest and a period of creation. Others take it as a graphic means of describing a cosmic day. If one takes a metaphorical interpretation of the word yom, then mutatis mutandis the expression evening and morning, must be metaphorical. They do not mean that there is a day of a million years of light followed by a million years of darkness. The expression refers to something in the process of creation. No objection to the theory can be made on the basis of forcing a literal meaning into the expression `evening and morning.'" (Ramm, B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," [1954], Paternoster: London, Reprinted, 1960, p.146).

For my interpretative approach to "the Genesis account of creation," see under "Genesis 1" of my FAQ post "What I believe about Creation, Evolution and Design" where I state that "Of the various main interpretative approaches to Genesis 1 ... I consider the ... Literary Framework interpretation to be the best fit of the data of the text itself and the evidence from nature":

"Genesis 1. Of the various main interpretative approaches to Genesis 1, including: Literalist, Gap theory, Day-age, Proclaimed days, Revealed days and Literary Framework; I consider the latter Literary Framewor- interpretation to be the best fit of the data of the text itself and the evidence from nature (general revelation). See my post of 31-Aug-06 for more details."

In the post of 31-Aug-06 that I refer to, I quoted perhaps the world's leading conservative evangelical theologian, J.I. Packer, that of the "four opinions, basically, about the seven days," "the so-called framework view, sometimes called the literary hypothesis ... is the only viable one. ... Because ... light appears on the first day while God only makes the sun and the moon and the stars on the fourth day" and "That fact alone ... shows that what we have here is not anything that can be called science, but rather an imaginative pattern of order replacing chaos" (my emphasis):

"There are four opinions, basically, about the seven days. The first is the literalist hypothesis which maintains that what we are reading about is twenty-four-hour days by our clocks; what we are being told in Genesis 1 is that the whole world came to be formed within what we would recognize as a working week. The hypothesis assumes that what we have in Genesis is descriptive prose, of newspaper type. The second view is that each of the days of the creation is an allegorical figure. What each of the references to the evening and the morning represent is a geological epoch, a very, very long period of time, hundreds of thousands of years at least. There has been much effort in this century by those who have understood the days this way to try and show that the order of things in Genesis 1 corresponds to the best scientific account that can be given of how specific items emerged and took their place in the order of the world. A witty Roman Catholic writer described this method of understanding as an attempt to raise Moses' credit by giving him a B.Sc. Those who take this 'concordist' view, as it is called, assume that part of the purpose of Genesis 1 was to give us scientific information about the stages by which things came to be. Third is what is called the revelation day theory, which takes the six evenings and mornings as signifying that creation was revealed in a story with six instalments, each instalment being given to the inspired writer on a separate day. After the first instalment had been given, the writer said there was evening and there was morning. That is a way of saying that God gave him the next bit of the story the next day. Fourth there is the so-called framework view, sometimes called the literary hypothesis. This view says that the six days, evening and morning, are part of what we may call a prose poem, that is a total pictorial presentation of the fact of creation in the form of a story of a week's work. Without going into the details of argument about these different views, let me tell you straightaway that in my judgement this fourth view is the only viable one. Why? Because in this account light appears on the first day while God only makes the sun and the moon and the stars on the fourth day. That fact alone, it seems to me, shows that what we have here is not anything that can be called science, but rather an imaginative pattern of order replacing chaos ..." (Packer, J.I., "Honouring the Written Word of God: The Collected Shorter Writings of James I. Packer," Vol. 3, Paternoster Press: Carlisle UK, 1999, p.179)

>Kind regards from AN

>PS: A few thoughts that you might find interesting:
>Will Jesus be mistaken for the Antichrist when he returns?

No. For starters, when Jesus returns there will be no Antichrist, because "Jesus will ... destroy" him "by the splendor of his coming" (my emphasis):

"And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming." (2Th 2:8).

As Leon Morris commented, "terrible though the lawless one" (Antichrist) "will be, he cannot stand before the Lord for a moment. There will not even be a contest ... For the Lord even to show himself is to destroy the enemy":

"[2Th 2:]8. And then (tote) indicates that these further events will follow more or less immediately after the removal of the restraining power. The lawless one is, of course, identical with 'the man of lawlessness', and now for the third time he is said to be revealed, which puts a certain emphasis on the supernatural aspect of his appearing. Paul's primary aim is not to gratify curiosity about this being and he gives no details of his activity; he goes straight from his appearance to his destruction. Throughout this whole section there is the underlying note of God's unchallenged sovereignty; thus the revelation of the lawless one is naturally followed by his destruction (described in words reminiscent of Is. 11:4). .... The breath of his mouth (here only in the New Testament; Cf. Ps. 33:6) shows that, terrible though the lawless one will be, he cannot stand before the Lord for a moment. There will not even be a contest - the breath (or 'the word', Calvin) of God is sufficient (cf. Rev. 19:21). There is a parallel thought: and destroy by the splendour of his coming. For the Lord even to show himself is to destroy the enemy. Destroy translates katargesei... which has the basic meaning 'to make idle' and thus 'to render null and void'. It does not mean that the lawless one will be annihilated, but that he will be made completely powerless." (Morris, L.L., "The Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians: An Introduction and Commentary," Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, [1956], Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester UK, Second Edition, 1984, p.132. Emphasis original)


Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).

Exodus 16:21-34. 21Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much-two omers for each person-and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23He said to them, "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.' " 24So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25"Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any." 27Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out." 30So the people rested on the seventh day. 31The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. 32Moses said, "This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt.' " 33So Moses said to Aaron, "Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD to be kept for the generations to come." 34As the LORD commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna in front of the Testimony, that it might be kept.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Re: Thoughts on your web page - Jesus' return #2


Continuing from part #1.

[Above: The World as known to the Hebrews. This map locates Gog and Magog in the southern Caucasus, Wikipedia]

----- Original Message -----
From: AN
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2007 6:47 AM
Subject: Thoughts on your web page - Jesus' return


Your mention of "Ezekiel 38" (see part #1), reminded me to add a new sub-section under "Signs of Second Coming" on the battle of Armageddon:

"Battle of Armageddon "Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon." (Rev 16:16; "When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth-Gog and Magog-to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Rev 20:7-10; Eze 38:1-23; 39:1-29; Jdg 5:19; 2Ki 23:29-30; Zec 12:11.

However, I agree with those comentators who see Gog and Magog (Eze 38:2; Rev 20:8) as not literal but rather "symboliz[ing] ... the forces of evil which are intent on destroying the people of God":

"The invasion of the armies of Gog ([Ezekiel]38:1-16) 2. Gog has been variously identified with Gyges, king of Lydia, who is called Gugu in the records of Ashurbanipal, and with the place-name, Gagaia, referred to in the Tell el-Amarna letters as a land of barbarians. From Ras Shamra writings there has been found a god, Gaga, and this identification too has been suggested (Enuma elish, III: line 2). Others have seen in Gog a historical figure like Alexander the Great. The most likely suggestion is the first, but the origin of the name is less significant than what it symbolizes, namely the personified head of the forces of evil which are intent on destroying the people of God. The name Magog is unknown in the Old Testament apart from the single reference in Genesis 10:2 (=1 Ch. 1:5), where he is a son of Japheth and the founder of a nation. In Revelation 20:8 Magog is a person associated with Gog, but in Ezekiel the word is almost certainly meant to represent the country where Gog lived (so RV, RSV)." (Taylor, J.B., "Ezekiel: An Introduction and Commentary," Tyndale Press: London, 1969, p.244. Emphasis original)

and "the battle of Har-Magedon" as "symbolism" for "the final attack of antichristian forces upon the Church":

"The Final Conflict ... ([Rev] 20:7-10): The meaning, then, is this: the era during which the Church as a mighty missionary organization shall be able to spread the gospel everywhere is not going to last for ever; not even until the moment of Christ's second coming. Observe what is happening in certain countries even today. Are certain regions of this earth already entering Satan's little season?' In other words, we have here in Revelation 20:7-10 a description of the same battle-not 'war'-which was described in Revelation 16:12ff. and in Revelation 19:19. In all three cases we read in the original, the battle. Thus 16:14: 'to gather them together for the battle of the great day of God, the Almighty'. Again, Revelation 19:19: 'gathered together to make the battle against him....' Similarly, here in 20:8: 'to gather them together to the battle'. In other words, these are not three different battles. We have here one and the same battle. It is the battle of Har-Magedon in all three cases. It is the final attack of antichristian forces upon the Church. The 'new' thing which Revelation 20 reveals is what happens to Satan as a result of this battle. This final onslaught is directed against 'the beloved city', also called 'the camp of the saints'. Thus the Church of God is described here under the double symbolism of a city and a camp. 'And fire came down out of heaven and devoured them.' Notice the sudden character of this judgment upon Gog and Magog. It is as sudden and unexpected as the lightning which strikes from heaven (cf. 2 Thes. 2:8). Thus, suddenly, will Christ appear and discomfit His enemies! This is His one and only coming in judgment. Satan had deceived the wicked world. He had deceived the wicked into thinking that a real and absolute victory over the Church was possible and that God could be defeated!" (Hendriksen W., "More than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation," [1940], Tyndale Press: London, 1966, reprint, pp.194-195).

because "No place of this name is known, and the term is surely symbolic":

"[Rev 16:]16. John reverts to the activities of the dirty spirits. They gathered the kings (and, of course, their followers) to a place called Armageddon. No place of this name is known, and the term is surely symbolic. But its meaning is uncertain. John tells us that it is a Hebrew word, and the two most favoured suggestions are that it means 'mountain of Megiddo' (har megiddo) or `the city of Megiddo' (ir megiddo). The former seems closer to the Hebrew, but unfortunately no mountain appears to be called 'the mountain of Megiddo'. Many stirring feats took place in the vicinity, but they seem to be connected rather with the plain of Esdraelon than with any particular mountain or with Megiddo. In fact Megiddo is mentioned but rarely in connection with battles (Jdg. 5:19; 2 Ki. 23:29; 2 Ch. 35:22). There are Old Testament passages that look for the ultimate battle near mountains (Ezk. 39:1ff., perhaps Dn. 11:45), but none that we can identify with the present expression. It is possible that 'mountain' should not be taken literally, but understood of the great mound on which the city stood, in which case the two suggestions come to much the same thing. Since great battles have been fought nearby, the city may stand in John's mind for decisive conflict (Beasley-Murray, 'a symbol for the last resistance of anti-god forces prior to the kingdom of Christ'). In that case it will stand as a symbol for the final overthrow of all the forces of evil by Almighty God. It is not unlikely that the deliverance under Deborah is regarded as setting the pattern. Then Sisera had 900 chariots of iron (Jdg. 4:13), but in Israel there was scarcely a shield or spear among 40,000 (Jdg. 5:8). Israel's position was completely hopeless. But when the battle was joined, 'the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and army' (Jdg. 4:15). So will it be at the last day. However strong the forces of evil may appear, and however hopeless the position of those of good, God will win the victory. He will resoundingly overthrow the evil." (Morris, L.L., "The Book of Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary," The Tyndale New Testament commentaries, [1969], Inter-Varsity Press Leicester: UK, Second Edition, 1987, Reprinted, 2004, pp.193-194. Emphasis original)

since "Megiddo" is a "little town ... in the plain of Esdraelon in Israel, and it has no mountain" therefore "it is doubtful that any single locality is in mind at all. The name stands for an event. ... it will have been a symbol for the last resistance of anti-god forces prior to the kingdom of Christ" :

"[Rev 16:]16. The name for the place of assembly of the kings of the world, Armageddon, presents an even more perplexing puzzle than 666. It is a Greek transliteration for the Hebrew Har-Meggido, the mountain of Megiddo. This little town is in the plain of Esdraelon in Israel, and it has no mountain. The nearest mountain is Carmel in the north, though some think in terms of the range of hills in southern Galilee. Carmel would be an attractive identification, since it witnessed Elijah's contest with the prophets of Baal, when the Lord gave a signal revelation of his presence and power, and the false prophets were put to the sword. Unfortunately there is no indication in ancient literature that Carmel was ever referred to as Har-Megiddo. Numerous attempts have been made to explain the name by derivations from allied forms. One most widely favoured viewed Har-Megiddo as a corruption of the Hebrew Har-Mo'ed = mountain of assembly. This term appears in Isaiah 14:13 to denote a mythical mountain of the gods which the king of Babylon in his pride determined in his heart to ascend, but in vain. It is suggested that this mountain became viewed as the demonic counterpart to the heavenly mount Zion, on which the city of God stands (Heb. 12:22ff ; cf. Rev. 21:10), and so a fitting symbol for the gathering of the rebellious hosts of earth against the God of heaven. The notion is interesting, but no one has satisfactorily explained why Har Mo'ed should become corrupted to Har-Megiddo, and so the speculation must be viewed as dubious. Whatever the origin of the term, we are not to think in terms of a geographical locality in Israel (the Holy Land does not really feature in John's prophecy). Indeed it is doubtful that any single locality is in mind at all. The name stands for an event. Like the number 666, it will have had a history in the apocalyptic tradition, lost to us but known to the prophet, and for him it will have been a symbol for the last resistance of anti-god forces prior to the kingdom of Christ." (Beasley-Murray, G.R., "The Book of Revelation," [1974], New Century Bible Commentary, Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, Revised Edition, 1978, Reprinted, 1983, pp.245-246. Emphasis original).

Having said that, I do not rule out that there may be a concrete realisation of this symbol in a threatened attack on Israel (which may have largely converted to Christianity or Messianic Judaism-see part #3 on one of the signs of Jesus' coming being "Acceptance by Israel") through "Syria" by "the bitter enemy of the Jews" whose "territory extended beyond the Tigris":

"The final conflict ([Rev] 20:7-10) When the thousand years are finished, Satan is released from his prison. Then it becomes very clear that the final and most terrible persecution, by means of which antichristian forces are going to oppress the Church, is instigated, in a most direct manner, by Satan himself. The devil musters Gog and Magog for a final attack upon 'the camp of the saints, the beloved city'. The expression 'Gog and Magog' is borrowed from the book of Ezekiel [Eze 38:2], where the term undoubtedly indicates the power of the Seleucids especially as it was revealed in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, the bitter enemy of the Jews. The centre of his kingdom was located in Northern Syria. Seleucus established his residence there in the city of Antioch on the Orontes. To the east his territory extended beyond the Tigris. To the north the domain over which the Seleucids ruled included Meshech and Tubal, districts in Asia Minor. Accordingly, Gog was the prince of Magog, that is, Syria. Therefore the oppression of God's people by 'Gog and Magog', refers, in Ezekiel, to the terrible persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of Syria. The book of Revelation uses this period of affliction and woe as a symbol of the final attack of Satan and his hordes upon the Church." (Hendriksen, Ibid, p.193).

Or (and I hope this does not happen but I must admit it has a chilling plusibility) something like Scott Adams' scenario in his fictional "The Religion War" (2004), where Israel is actually be overrun and wiped out in a "Second Holocaust, an unfathomable and black moment in history, dwarfing the First Holocaust in both scope and savagery":

"HOW ISRAEL FELL ... The Israel Strategy involved convincing the Palestinians to accept a disingenuous peace in return for international promises of massive reconstruction aid. They would wait, letting prosperity accomplish what terrorist attacks could not. Al-Zee was the first Muslim leader to realize that the only way they could lose the fight with Israel was to continue fighting. Peace meant inevitable victory; it just required patience. Al-Zee's reputation allowed him to preach patience to an impatient people. His credibility was unapproachable. So they made peace, and they waited. Demographics favored the Muslims, who were having children at three times the rate of the Jewish population, thanks to financial inducements arranged by al-Zee. By 2035, it was clear that Muslims were heading toward a voting majority in Israel. The Israeli government hoped to solve the problem by restricting voting rights for non Jews. This was exactly what al-Zee had foreseen. Israel was filled with, and surrounded by, a massive population of angry young men who preferred death to the apartheid and humiliation they were being asked to accept. After years of lying low, al-Zee focused the anger of the majority, who were by then universally armed, and working and living amongst the Jewish minority. The overrun lasted less than two days. It was mostly hand-to-hand fighting with knives, small arms, and homemade explosives. The military was helpless because the violence was everywhere at the same time, in every block, every street, every housing development. Human waves of martyrs stormed military bases. Over a million Muslims died that day, eventually exhausting the ammunition of the Israeli army and the armed Jewish civilians. With their superior numbers, the element of surprise, and a willingness to die as martyrs, a1-Zee's citizen Jihadists prevailed. The Jewish Israeli men stayed and fought to the last, along with most of the fighting age women. The older women and children were allowed to escape on foot, streaming out of the cities and towns and eventually ending up in refugee camps. To the rest of the world it became known as the Second Holocaust, an unfathomable and black moment in history, dwarfing the First Holocaust in both scope and savagery. It happened so quickly that the world didn't know how to respond. By the end of the second day there were so few Jews left in Israel that military intervention seemed useless. Countries condemned the atrocities in the strongest words, but they were only words. Some countries threatened embargoes but needed the oil and so found reasons to back off. A feeling of shame and helplessness gripped the Judeo-Christian world, plunging it into a collective mental depression, and making it ripe for the rise of a man like General Horatio Cruz." (Adams, S., "The Religion War," Andrews McMeel Publishing: Kansas City MO, 2004, pp.105-107. Emphasis original).

as a precursor to Antichrist's orchestration of "the final attack of Satan and his hordes upon the Church" (see Hendriksen above, Adams does not say this).

But whatever happens to the earthly Jerusalem (and again I hope nothing happens to it, or to Israel), I agree with the late Christian theologian George Beasley-Murray (1916-2000) that "The city which John has in mind is `the holy city Jerusalem', which comes down from God out of heaven ... the centre of the kingdom of Christ. ... The assault on the city, therefore, represents an attack on the manifestation of the divine rule in the world, comparable to the attack on the Church in the present age" (my emphasis):

"[Rev 20:]7, 8. After the thousand years Satan is loosed from his prison ... to deceive the nations ... Gog and Magog, and assemble them for battle. The motif is ancient. Ezekiel tells of an invasion from the north of `Gog of the land of Magog', where Gog is the prince and Magog the name of a people (Ezek. 38:1; cf. 39:6). As early as the Tell el-Amarna tablets Gog was used as a name for the nations of the north. Ezekiel sees in the attack on Israel by Gog the fulfilment of earlier prophecies (38:17). He depicts this as an invasion of the Holy Land and attack on Jerusalem after the Jews return from their exile among the nations and dwell in the peace of the messianic age under the new David (see especially 38:8). Gog comes at the head of many peoples `like a cloud', but the Lord will create confusion amongst the invaders, so that every man's sword is against his brother. Ezekiel declares in the name of the Lord, `I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples that are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and brimstone' (38:22). As Ezekiel sees in Gog's invasion the fulfilment of earlier prophecies of Gentile attacks on Israel, so John sees in the hosts of Gog and Magog a symbol of the evil in the world of nations which resist the rule of God. For him, therefore, the attack of Gog comes not from one corner of the earth-the north-but from all four corners. ... Wherever the theme of Ezekiel 38-9 is taken up in Jewish apocalyptic writers ... it is the nations generally which combine in assault on Israel, and it is likely that John had a similarly undefined company in view. ... 9. The hordes of Gog and Magog surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. The language befits Jerusalem, viewed however first as the focal point of the pilgrim people on the march through the desert to the promised land, and then as the city which God loves (cf. Ps. 87). But Jerusalem in the Revelation is equated with Sodom and Egypt, `where their Lord was crucified' (11:8). The city which John has in mind is `the holy city Jerusalem', which comes down from God out of heaven (21:10). Its mention at this point indicates that John sees the beloved city as descended from God out of heaven in the messianic age and so views it as the centre of the kingdom of Christ. The brevity of the description of that kingdom in verses 4-6 is at least partly due to John's intention to describe its nature in the vision of 21:9ff. The assault on the city, therefore, represents an attack on the manifestation of the divine rule in the world, comparable to the attack on the Church in the present age." (Beasley-Murray, Ibid., pp.297-298. Emphasis original)

And as the late New Testament scholar Leon Morris (1914-2006) pointed out, "the hosts of evil" are depicted "as taking up a threatening position over against the servants of God" and "We are prepared for a great battle. But none comes" because "since 19:19-21" Rev 20:7-10 "goes on immediately to the annihilation of the wicked" because "the power of God as so overwhelming that there cannot be even the appearance of a battle when he wills to destroy evil" (my emphasis):

"[Rev 20:]8. Upon his release Satan will resume his deceitful activities, but on a larger scale. Like the 'unclean spirits like frogs' he will gather the nations for the final battle (16:13-16). The expression Gog and Magog seems to mean all people. Gog is mentioned in the Bible only in a genealogy (1 Ch. 5:4), in a prophecy (Ezk. 38 - 39). and here. Magog is found similarly in genealogies (Gn. 10:2; 1 Ch. 1:5), the Ezekiel passage, and here. Magog appears to be the land from which Gog came (Ezk. 38:2, though in LXX Magog seems to be a prince). In later Judaism Gog and Magog were thought of as two leaders. In apocalyptic writings, for example, they often symbolize the forces of evil. For John the combination is another way of referring to the hosts of the wicked. He has in mind the last great attack of evil on the things of God. Satan will gather all his armies. He will assemble the greatest possible number to oppose God (in number they are like the sand on the seashore). This is the decisive moment, the final battle (cf. 17:14; 19:19). 9. John changes to the past tense, they marched, but it is the same sequence. The breadth of the earth is a curious expression in this connection. It probably means that their armies were very large. They encircled 'the camp of the saints' (NIV, God's people) and 'the beloved city'. Both expressions appear to mean the people of God. The `camp' sees them as 'soldiers of God', and there might also be an allusion to the encampments of God's people during their wilderness wanderings. 'The beloved city' should surely be understood over against 'the great city'. This latter we have seen to mean people in organized community, organized against God. The former will then signify spiritual people, willingly under the dominion of God. John is picturing the hosts of evil as taking up a threatening position over against the servants of God. We are prepared for a great battle. But none comes. Exactly as in 19:19-21, John goes on immediately to the annihilation of the wicked. This time it is done by fire which came down from heaven (cf. Ezk. 38:22). Consistently John thinks of the power of God as so overwhelming that there cannot be even the appearance of a battle when he wills to destroy evil." (Morris, Ibid., pp.232-233. Emphasis original)

That is, it is "When the world, under the leadership of Satan ... is gathered against the Church for the final battle, and the need is greatest; when God's children, oppressed on every side, cry for help; then suddenly, dramatically, Christ will appear to deliver His people" (my emphasis):

"The sixth bowl ([Rev ]16:12-16) produces Har-Magedon. ... or Armageddon ... Har-Magedon is the symbol of every battle in which, when the need is greatest and believers are oppressed, the Lord suddenly reveals His power in the interest of His distressed people and defeats the enemy. ... But the real, the great, the final Har-Magedon coincides with the time of Satan's little season (see Rev. 11:7-11). When the world, under the leadership of Satan, antichristian government and antichristian religion-the dragon, the beast and the false prophet-is gathered against the Church for the final battle, and the need is greatest; when God's children, oppressed on every side, cry for help; then suddenly, dramatically, Christ will appear to deliver His people. That final tribulation and that appearance of Christ on clouds of glory to deliver His people, that is Har-Magedon. It is for this reason that Har-Magedon is the sixth bowl. The seventh is the judgment day. As we have indicated, this sixth bowl, as well as the preceding ones, is evident again and again in history. Yet, like the other bowls, it reaches its final and most complete realization just before and in connection with the last day. John sees that the sixth bowl is emptied upon the Euphrates river. This river represents Assyria, Babylonia, the wicked world. When the river is said to dry up, the road is prepared so that all the antichristian powers can make the attack upon the Church. The apostle sees proceeding out of the mouth of the dragon (Satan) and out of the mouth of the beast (antichristian government) and out of the mouth of the false prophet (antichristian religion) three unclean spirits. These spirits or demons are compared to frogs in order to indicate their abominable, loathsome and repulsive character. They represent satanic, hellish ideas, plans, projects, methods and enterprises, hell-born and introduced by hell into the sphere of thought and action. Thus, when the kings of the earth gather to battle against believers, this battle or persecution is inspired by hell itself. Here very little is said about this final battle. But we must remember that this same conflict of Har-Magedon is described in Revelation 11:7ff. ... and especially in Revelation 19:11ff.; 20:7ff. Now, at this moment of tribulation and anguish, of oppression and persecution, Christ suddenly appears (verse 15). He comes as a thief, suddenly, unexpectedly (cf. Mt. 24:29ff.; Jdg. 5:4; Hab. 3:13; 2 Thes. 2:8ff.)." (Hendriksen, Ibid., pp.162-164. Emphasis original).

That is, there won't be an actual battle of Armageddon, just a threatened one!

[Continued in part #3]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).

Exodus 16:9-20. 9Then Moses told Aaron, "Say to the entire Israelite community, 'Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.' " 10While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud. 11The LORD said to Moses, 12"I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.' " 13That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. 16This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.' " 17The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed. 19Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." 20However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.