All posts in Johnsons from the Front

The Mind Boggling Speed of the Human Brain

 

In 1992 Gerald D. Fischbach wrote1:

‘the most complex structure in the known universe, complex enough to coordinate the fingers of a concert pianist or to create a three-dimensional landscape from light that falls on a two directional retina’ … ‘the current version [of the brain] is the result of millions of years of evolution. It is difficult to understand the brain because, unlike a computer, it was not built with specific purposes or principles of design in mind. Natural selection, the engine of evolution, is responsible.’ [Emphasis added]

20 years later, on August 2, 2013, Tereza Pultarova wrote an article in Engineering and Technology Magazine2:

Japanese K Supercomputer - credit RIKENLargest neural network simulates 1 per cent of brain

A network consisting of 1.73 billion nerve cells connected by 10.4 trillion synapses has been created using the power of a Japanese supercomputer.

Despite being the biggest neuronal simulation to date, the process requiring 82,944 processors only represented about 1 per cent of the neuronal network of a human brain.

The supercomputer completed in 40 minutes the equivalent amount of activity that is observed to take place in the living brain within one second.

The teams from the Okinawa Institute of Technology Graduate University (OIST), Japan, and the Research Centre in Julich, Germany, ran the advanced simulation software NEST on the Japanese K supercomputer, capable of processing 8 petaflops3 of information per second.

Overall, the experiment needed memory equivalent to that of 250,000 PCs.” [Emphasis added]

 

I wonder if today, based on information we know now, Mr. Fischbach can seriously say that the human brain was not built with design in mind … even our very complex brains cannot engineer a computerized brain that even comes close to the mindboggling speed of our brains. The evidence points to a brain that was engineered by a designer, not to a brain that could have happened by random chances and accidents (‘Natural selection’), even given ‘millions of years’ of so-called-time.

 

1   Gerald D. Fischbach, ‘Mind and Brain’, Scientific American [Vol. 267, No. 3] September 1992, pg. 24.

2    http://eandt.theiet.org/news/2013/aug/nest-neural-network.cfm

3   Petaflop: (computing) measurement of computer speed: one quadrillion (10^15) floating point operations per second.

 

Lanny Johnson

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

Which Came First, The Chicken Or The Egg

 

This below question was asked of me last week at a camp. I recalled a poem I had read from A Closer Look At The Evidence1 :

Which came firstWhich Came First, The Chicken Or The Egg

 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

This question we must pose

The answer rests upon God’s Word

And what the evidence shows.

 

Evolution says it was the egg;

Pure chance brought us the bird.

The Bible says God made the bird

In Genesis One of His Word.

 

These views we know can’t both be true,

No matter what men say.

So we must lay out all the facts,

And let them point the way.

 

If we look closely at what’s found

In fossils, stars, and cells,

They point out there’s a Master Mind

And He designed them well.

 

Of course, mankind just laughs at this.

They won’t admit it’s true.

They know that if there is a God,

Accounts to Him are due.

 

As Christians, here’s where we can’t fail

To know God’s world and Word.

Our reasons for belief in Him

By no means are absurd.

 

The Bible says to seek out truth;

Foundations must be strong.

So when men say they have the facts,

We’ll know what’s right from wrong.

 

Let’s read God’s Word, apply our minds,

And seek Him with all your heart.

God said He’ll teach us wondrous things

And truth to us impart.

 

So when we’re asked to clarify

That eggs weren’t first and why,

We’ll know God’s Script, point to the facts,

And have a sound reply.

 

If we can spur man to rethink

His views on evolution,

Perhaps He’ll see the facts show God

As the correct solution.

 

 

 

1 A Closer Look At The Evidence by Richard L. & Christina E. Kleiss, pg. 6.  Available at http://www.searchforthetruth.net/books … can be ordered as a hardcopy or downloaded for free as a pdf.

 

Lanny Johnson

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

Comfort in the Gospel

  Comfort in the Gospel

In all our seminars, Vacation Bible Schools (VBS), and Bible camps, I always share the gospel message in one way or another. At camps and VBS I usually have time to do a skit using three men and my wife to visually demonstrate why Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

Part of that presentation involves Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” This verse tells us that it is not by anything we can do ourselves that sin is removed from our lives … it is all about what Jesus did for us on the cross.

We have seen many children over the years respond to the gospel message after this presentation. Just last week I was reminded that God’s grace not only impacts our lives with the gift of salvation, but His grace also gives us great comfort.

After finishing a salvation message at a VBS last week, I stopped to talk to a woman seated in the auditorium. Even though this particular VBS was a children’s program, instead of a family program that we normally do, this lady had attended every teaching session that week. She shared that she had been having a very rough week, with a lot of conflict and difficulties within her family.

She said that when she came that day, she was at the brink of her endurance, but the gospel message had given her a renewed hope and comfort. She was reminded how much Jesus really cared for and loved her, that He was willing to die for her sins. It was that love that gave her great comfort and a renewed strength to face her troubles.

When was the last time you pondered the cross and gave thanks for your salvation and gained comfort in it?

 

Lanny Johnson

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

Copying to Prevent ‘Copying’

 

Blue Morpho Butterfly wing - reflected lightHow do you prevent counterfeiters from copying money, drugs, designer clothes and accessories, etc.? Some engineers are turning to the amazing wing of the South American Blue Morpho butterfly for a solution.

The Blue Morpho’s brilliant wing color isn’t due to pigment. Instead of pigments, the butterfly’s wings have complicated scales with very tiny holes that reflect different colors or wavelengths, producing iridescent, shining blue and greens.

The Nanotech Security Corp., in Vancouver, Canada, has copied the design of the Blue Morpho butterfly.  Using a new technology called nano*-optics, they have developed a method to produce nano-holes in silicon or quartz. The process takes from a few hours to a couple of days to produce a master pattern (image), after which a second process grows the image on nickel. From there it can be embossed to any material.1

Blue Morpho Butterfly wing - microribs“The entire image could be large enough to be seen from a distance, and, if embossed on high-priced items like designer handbags, would make it easy to spot the phonies,” said Doug Blakeway, Nanotech’s CEO.2

Because the image would be very difficult to reverse engineer, and expensive because of the equipment needed, it has been stated that the process is ‘unlikely’ to be counterfeited. Hmmm – that has been said about many types of security … time will tell.

This type of work is yet another example of biomimicry – adapting God’s creations for advanced human technologies.

 

*Based on the scale of nanometers – one nanometer is hundreds of times smaller than even the tiniest bacterial cell.

1 Butterflies Inspire Anti-Counterfeit Technology, Inside Science, Joel N. Shurkin, 6/19/13

2Ibid.

 

Lanny Johnson

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

In One Sentence

 

Campground teachingAfter a 3 hour drive through a hot desert and up a narrow winding mountain road, we arrived at a campground in the Manti-LaSalle National Forest, near Moab, Utah. We were to meet a youth group that was from the Salt Lake City area. We circled around the campground looking for the group, but were unable to find them, so we stopped at the campground host station to see if they had checked in yet.

The host was a very friendly man, who informed us that, yes the group was there, but they were on a hike at that time. He was very helpful, even walking us over to show us their camping spots.

On the short walk, we told him that we were there to teach the youth group. Interested, he asked, “In one sentence, tell me what you will be teaching?”

My wife Marilyn responded, “We are here to teach that God made everything and that it did not happen by evolution.”

His response … “Guess I’m going to have to have a little more information than one sentence!”

As I talked with him a short while, I discovered he was a retired 8th grade school teacher (having taught evolution for many years) now traveling around the country “in search of truth.” I told him that I had also at one time been in search of truth and had found that truth was not in evolution. As a scientist (geologist), I had found major problems with evolution that I could not resolve. What I had discovered was evidence of a Creator.

It was at that point the he quickly interjected that he had other campground duties, and so began a departure. As he left, I invited him to join us that evening as we shared some of those evidences with the youth group. He said it sounded interesting and he would try.

Curious DoeSurprisingly, he did show up that evening for a very short time, far enough away that he could hear some of my talk, but not close enough for interaction. Amusingly, right at the edge of our group was a doe that seemed to be very curious about what I was teaching. It was there far longer than the gentleman!

When the program was over we had to pick up the equipment and take shelter because of rain and wind, and later head back down the mountain, so we were not able to talk to the man again. I am pretty sure he did not hear enough to convince him of a Creator. However, even though it might have been tiny, a seed was planted. Hopefully, that seed of truth might grow in him and he will discover the truth … the truth of Jesus Christ. Over 23 years ago, I was also a staunch evolutionist. A seed was planted and it did grow! Today I am a follower of Jesus, so if it can happen to me, then it can happen to this gentleman as well.

 

Lanny Johnson

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

Why?

  Map

One might ask us “Why?”

WHY would you drive 2 hours and 113 miles through a desert in the heat of the afternoon – throw your bags in a motel room, grab a quick bite to eat – and continue on for another 21 miles (1 hour) up a rough, although paved, pot-hole filled, narrow, steep mountain road, dodging the grazing and meandering cattle all the way – and then carrying on 6 more miles on a wash-boarded, teeth rattling, gravel, dusty road?

WHY would you set your equipment up under a small open canopy, in the wind and rain, to only have time to teach a handful of youth for 1 brief hour before their teeth began to chatter because of the cold?

WHY would you then tear your equipment down and load it up in the minivan – then head back down the mountain in the dark (almost 2 hour trek this time), dodging pot-holes and headlight frozen cattle in the middle of the road – arrive back at your very noisy economy motel about 10:30 at night to spend a restless night on a strange uncomfortable bed?

WHY would you get up early the next morning, load up the minivan with your luggage, and have a very inadequate ‘Continental Breakfast’ – drive 2 hours back through the quickly heating up desert – arrive at home to unload all the equipment and reload it all into a travel trailer and pick-up truck?

WHY would you then grab a quick bite to eat, then jump in the truck and head out for another 2 hour drive (71 miles) pulling the trailer behind – upon arrival at a church, to get the trailer parked and all our equipment unloaded into the church in the sweltering heat of the afternoon – to then spend 3 hours setting up equipment (crafts, puppet stage, computers, sound equipment, etc.) and books in preparation for teaching Vacation Bible School that begins the next morning and continues throughout the next week?

WHY are you willing to spend your afternoons in a sweltering trailer that the air conditioning cannot keep up with because of inadequate electrical voltage – or put up with the sounds of noise and traffic at night as you try to sleep while parked on a city street?

An easy answer to the WHY questions – “WHY NOT?” God has instilled a passion in all of us at Alpha Omega Institute to share the truth of Creation and the joy of Salvation. So we are willing (oh, we do sometimes grumble) to put up with a lot of different, sometimes uncomfortable and stressful situations to be able to share those truths.

“…Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.”  Colossians 4:17

 

Lanny Johnson

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

The Confounding Mouse Trap

 

Everywhere I look I see design in nature. At one time, I removed God from the equation and assumed that all design had happened through the processes of evolution. I began to believe (without much thought behind it) what I was taught … that small changes over huge periods of time produced the wonders of nature. My main argument with my ‘Jesus freak friends’ was “Given enough time, anything is possible.”

But is this true? Just one of the many problems with evolution is the interdependence of different functions of any organism. On a molecular level this precept has been called irreducible complexity1 - for most biological features to operate there is a minimum number of parts or steps which must be present.

Mouse TrapMichael Behe explained irreducible complexity with the analogy of a simple mouse trap. The mouse trap has only five basic parts – the base, the hammer, the catch, the spring, and the hold-down lever. Yet if any of these parts is missing the trap will never function properly. Even if you had the needed 5 parts, you could put them in a paper bag and shake and dump them out for billions of years, yet you would never come up with a working mouse trap. For the mouse trap to work, each part needs to be performing the right job and be in the right position. The same is true for the clotting of blood and all of life on both a molecular and a macro scale.

Bruce A. Malone explains about irreducible complexity and the chameleon tongue: “Evolution proposes two explanations for complex structures such as the chameleon tongue. “Phyletic gradualism” assumes small changes add up over time. “Punctuated Equilibrium” assumes structures stay the same for a long time (equilibrium) but then change rapidly without leaving any fossil record of the change (punctuation). Skeptics try to avoid the creation implications of irreducible complexity by showing that the individual parts of a machine could have other functions – thereby implying that the new function could develop in some step-by-step manner (either slow or fast). For example, in the mouse trap analogy: the base, spring, and hammer could be used as a crude tie clip; however, this does not explain how a tie clip could develop into a critter-killing machine. Nor does it explain how the other parts could be added one step at a time, with each step along the way producing a useful, functioning machine. If any intermediate “tie clip/mouse trap” link were not useful, natural selection would eliminate it from further development. So is the chameleon’s tongue best explained by an intelligent designer or by time and chance alone? Which possibility is really easier to believe?”2

When I really began to think about it and look at the evidence, God was the answer! The time and chance of evolution just doesn’t answer what we actually observe.

1Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Michael Behe, Free Press, 1998.

2Censored science, the Suppressed Evidence, Bruce A. Malone, www.searchforthetruth.net

 

Lanny Johnson

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

Box-Like Aerodynamic Car

The Bionic Car

When I first saw a picture of the Mercedes-Benz bionic concept vehicle, I had to laugh. In my view, it was quite comical, as far as cars go. All humor aside though, the boxy, rectangular body of the Bionic Car is a very efficient design.

As it turns out, the engineers at Mercedes-Benz were looking for a new aerodynamic design in a car. They found their inspiration in the tropical boxfish (Ostracion Cubicus) that lives in warm ocean waters. Although the rather large body of the boxfish appears to be cumbersome, it is able to swim very fast because of its low coefficient of drag and rigid exoskeleton.

The BoxfishBy modeling their concept car from the overall shape of the boxfish, the engineers designed a vehicle that had one of the lowest co-efficient of drag ever tested.

The 2005 model of the Bionic Car was able to reach a top speed of 118 miles per hour, while getting an astounding 70 miles per gallon fuel economy. Not only does the aerodynamic shape give the car a highly efficient fuel performance, its rectangular frame adds stability.

Once again, through biomimicry, engineers have examined God’s creation and applied what they have learned to make efficient products we can use.

 

Lanny Johnson

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

Rejecting the Current Concept of Macro-Evolution

  world view

This is the last excerpt of a series I have been sharing on my blog taken from, “Truth and Science – Is Real Science At Risk?,” an article by Dr. Arv Edgeworth*.

“There are 3 basic scientific reasons I reject the current concept of macro-evolution, although I acknowledge that micro-evolution takes place on a regular basis: 

  1. The laws of science are in disagreement with it.

            The first and second laws of thermodynamics

            The law of biogenesis

            The law of cause and effect

            The law of inertia 

 

  1. The two mechanisms actually work against it. Rather than helping a life form change into something else, scientifically, natural selection seems more likely to help it remain the same.  Mutations are harmful and cause a net loss of information over time.

 

  1. I believe there is a better answer for the fossil record that fits the evidence better. Catastrophism, like the scientists in the mid-1800s believed.  I believe hydrologic sorting should be given more consideration.

Would considering this possibility completely revolutionize science as we now know it?

 The Real Reason?

I hope this isn’t the case: but could there be a philosophical reason why many accept the current concept of macro-evolution?  Is it possible that some may just embrace it because they fear what they consider to be the only alternative, and psychologically have a certain amount of fear concerning the future?  Would it make a difference if there were no fear of death or possible future judgment of any kind?  There really doesn’t have to be.  Sometimes that can have a subconscious effect on us and we don’t even realize it.  What if we could eliminate that fear from the equation?

Worldviews are sometimes like wearing a pair of sunglasses….  We forget we have them on, and sometimes we tend to react in a negative manner if someone else tries to remove them.  In a perfect world, the interpretation of scientific evidence would never be affected by our pre-conceived biases.  I’m not sure that is realistically possible today.  We all have a worldview, and we tend to view everything in light of that, even though we may deny, to ourselves at least, that we have the philosophical sunglasses on.”

Thank you Dr. ARV Edgeworth for the very valid questions and conclusions in your article!

 

* www.truthandscience.net - website of Dr. Arv Edgeworth

 

Lanny Johnson

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

The Origin of Life, Mutations and Natural Selection

 

Has Science and the Scientific Method been misused? That was a question asked in my blog Elusive Transitional Forms. The following is another excerpt taken from “Truth and Science – Is Real Science At Risk?”, an article by Dr. Arv Edgeworth*.  Ponder the questions he poses at the end and consider – are these viable questions that should be asked, and if they are being asked today or have been asked in the past?

 

The Origin of Life

From Goo to YouHave you noticed lately the tendency in science books to no longer consider Biogenesis a Law of Science? Has any new evidence or experimentation given reason to question this as a law of science? No. Could it be because it is just in conflict with abiogenesis?  Is it possible that some educators just don’t want abiogenesis to be in opposition to a known Law of Science, so they attempt to downgrade Biogenesis from a “Law” status?  Is that what is happening? If it is, will that have a negative effect on the scientific process?

Are these reasonable questions that should be asked?

1.  “Isn’t Biogenesis a law of science?” (Life only comes from other life)

2.  “Is the hypothesis of abiogenesis (life from non-life) scientific?” (Has it ever been observed?)

3.  “If chemical evolution isn’t happening today, how do we know it happened in the past?”

 

Personally, whether it is the beginning of the universe, or the beginning of life, I think we should discuss “origins” in another venue, not the science classroom.  Why even have it in the textbooks?

 

Mutations and Natural Selection

Mutations are random chance happenings. They are not supposed to be directional.  One beneficial mutation is supposed to be extremely rare, and almost unheard of. But a series of these occurring that took an irritation on the skin of an early life form through a totally non-directed process until humans have two eyes, that depend upon about 40 individual subsystems, that all have to be connected to a brain, to allow us to see; is an occurrence that would seem to be mathematically impossible to say the least. Before this would occur, shouldn’t there be such an accumulation of non-beneficial mutations that the life form would already be extinct? 

Are these reasonable questions that should be asked?

1.  “Aren’t mutations almost always harmful?”

2.  “Don’t mutations usually cause a net loss of information over time?”

3.  “Wouldn’t mutations usually be the least likely to survive?”

 

Should scientists be looking for another possibility?  Are some perhaps allowing their philosophical worldview to affect their science perspective? Or is there another reason?

 

Once again, good questions to ponder.

 

*www.truthandscience.net - website of Dr. Arv Edgeworth.

 

Lanny Johnson

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.