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The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The following excerpt is taken from an article by Dr. Gary Parker (January 1, 1994) on the web site "Answers In Genesis"

https://answersingenesis.org/origin-of-life/the-origin-of-life-dna-and-protein/. 

 
The two basic parts of the tumbled pebble and the arrowhead we considered are hard and soft rock. Two basic parts of every living system are DNA and protein.
DNA is the famous molecule of heredity. It has been on the cover of Time magazine, and we often hear news stories about it. This is the molecule that gets passed down from one generation to the next. Each of us starts off as a tiny little ball about the size of a period on a printed page. In that tiny ball, there are over six feet (2m) of DNA all coiled up. All of our characteristics (height, skin color, etc.) are “spelled out” in that DNA.
What are proteins? Proteins are the molecules of structure and function. Hair is mostly protein; skin cells are packed full of proteins; the enzymes that break down food and build it up are proteins; the filaments that slide together to make muscles work are proteins.
So, DNA and protein are two basic “parts” of every living system. When you get down to a virus, that’s all you find—DNA and protein. (In some viruses, RNA substitutes for DNA.) The DNA molecules code for the protein molecules that make us what we are. That same principle applies to all life forms: viruses, plants, animals, as well as human beings.
Figure 2
Figure 2-A. DNA is built like a string of pearls, whose links (specifically the bases G, C, A, and T) act like alphabet letters that “spell out” hereditary instructions.
Figure 2-B. Proteins are chains of amino acids. Each chain coils into a special shape that has some special function: muscle contraction, digestion, oxygen transport, holding skin together, etc.
My students study all of the details,2 but DNA and protein molecules are really quite simple in their basic structure. If you can picture a string of pearls, you can picture DNA: it is a chain of repeating units. Fig. 2-A is a diagram of a DNA molecule. The parts that look like railroad box cars are sugar and phosphate groups, and the parts that stick out from each box car in the chain are groups called bases.
Proteins are built in about the same way. Proteins are also chains of repeated units. As shown in Fig. 2-B, the links in protein chains are called amino acids. In all living things, inherited chains of DNA bases are used to line up chains of amino acids. These amino-acid chains are the protein molecules responsible for structure and function. For example, chains of several hundred DNA bases tell the cell how to make a protein called hemoglobin, and that protein functions as the oxygen carrier in red blood cells. In short form, DNA→protein→trait, and that relationship is the physical basis of all life on earth.
Now, what about that relationship between DNA and protein? How did it get started? Evolutionists picture a time long ago when the earth might have been quite different. They imagine that fragments of DNA and fragments of protein are produced. These molecules are supposed to “do what comes naturally” over vast periods of time. What’s going to happen? Will time, chance, and chemical reactions between DNA and protein automatically produce life?
At first you might think so. After all, nothing is more natural than a reaction between acids and bases. Perhaps you’ve used soda (a base) to clean acid from a battery. The fizz is an acid-base reaction. So is using “Tums” to neutralize stomach acid. Nothing is more common than reactions between acids and bases. If you just wait long enough, acid-base reactions will get DNA and protein working together, and life will appear—right? Wrong! Just the opposite.
Please continue reading at "Answers In Genesis"

What About Christmas?

Friday, December 19, 2014

 

by Ron Boatwright   

How did December 25th come to be celebrated?  Christmas originated as a pagan religious holiday.  Ancient Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia which was a week long period of lawlessness celebrated December 17th-25th.  The ancient Greek writer and historian, Lucian, describes the festival Saturnalia holiday observance as the time when pagans honored their god, Saturn.  Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week.  At the festival’s conclusion on December 25th the innocent victim was brutally murdered.  In addition to the human sacrifice there was widespread intoxication, gambling, and sexual indulgence, with people going from house to house naked while singing (a precursor of modern caroling).   

In the fourth century AD, “so-called Christianity” imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to lure the pagan masses to accept Christianity and promising them they could continue to celebrate Saturnalia as Christians.  So man takes this disgusting pagan holiday and makes it the supposed birthday of Christ.  The problem is there is nothing Christian about Saturnalia.  The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, and singing naked in the streets.  Some holiday!   

We do rejoice that Christ was born of a virgin just as God promised in Isaiah 7:14.  But we rejoice even more “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).  The word “Christmas” is not in the Bible.  The Bible has absolutely nothing to say about December 25th as the birthday of Christ.   

December 25th is the least likely day of the year for Christ to have been born.  We read in Luke 2:8 of the angel of the Lord appearing to the “shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night”.  Shepherds would not be keeping watch over their flocks in the fields at night in Palestine in December and January because it is usually cold and rainy.  With the shepherds tending their flocks at night in the field indicates Jesus was born during the warmer seasons.  If God wanted us to know the date of Christ’s birth, He would have told us in the Bible.  God has not authorized us to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday.   

For most of the religious world, Christmas has been set aside by man as a “holy day” to celebrate the birth of Christ.  Theatrical and dramatic performances entertain large crowds of people attending Christmas church services, but they don’t come back any other time of the year.  People want to celebrate Christmas as Christ being a babe in a manger and when Christmas is over they want to put Him in a box until next year and live their lives the rest of the year as they please.  Many people celebrate Christmas with drunken parties, just as the pagans celebrated Saturnalia.  Christmas is about pleasing men and not God.  What do you think God thinks of all of this?   In Galatians 4:10-11 Paul is condemning the Christians at Galatia for observing religious days without God's authorization.  "You observe days and months and seasons and years.  I am afraid of you, lest I have labored for you in vain."  

For man to set up and observe a religious holiday would be adding to the word of God.  We are severely warned not to add to what God has said.  “If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him, the plagues written in this book”, (Revelation 22:18).  Man will lose his soul in Hell by adding to what God has said.  We are commanded, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).  To do something in the name of the Lord Jesus is to do it by His authority.  Where in the Bible has the Lord authorized us to celebrate Christmas, December 25th or any other day as His birthday?   

Since we do not have the authority from the Lord, the Christian should not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday.  A Christian can celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday just as we celebrate Labor Day, Memorial Day, or Independence Day, but without any religious significance.  We can give gifts, send holiday greetings, decorate, etc., but we have not been authorized to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday.

We Must Put Away Lying

Friday, December 12, 2014

 

By Ron Boatwright

One of the more common sins that is going to cause many people to be lost is the sin of lying.  Because of this Ephesians 4:25 says, "Therefore, put away lying, let each one speak truth with his neighbor."  If we tell a lie it is a little lie, but if someone else tells a lie it is a big lie.  There are no little lies or big lies, but as far as God is concerned, a lie is a lie.  Proverbs 6:16-19 says, "These six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue…a false witness who speaks lies."

The Bible tells us of "God who cannot lie" (Titus 1:2).  God despises a lie.  In John 8:44 Jesus says, "You are of your father the Devil…there is no truth in him.  When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it."  When we tell a lie we are like the Devil, but if we always tell the truth we are more like God.

In Acts chapter 5, Ananias and his wife Sapphira had conspired to lie.  In Acts 5:3-5 we read, "But Peter said, Ananias why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?… Why have you conceived this thing in your heart?… Then Aninias hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last."  Three hours later his wife Sapphira came in and also told the same lie.  Then we read in verse 10, "Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last."  God struck them dead because they each told a lie.  This shows us how God feels about lying.

Revelation 21:8 says along with murderers, the sexually immoral, and the abominable, that "All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."   This says that all liars, not some but all liars are going to be lost.  So we must put away all lying.

 

How Can I Believe In Miracles In an Enlightened Age?

Friday, December 05, 2014

 

by Bo Kirkwood, M.D.

For centuries, Western civilization accepted Christianity which, of course, included a belief in the miracles described in the Bible. With the advent of the enlightenment, which originated in 17th century Europe, intellectuals and philosophers such as John Locke, David Hume, and Voltaire began questioning the historicity of the Bible relying on reason and rational thought instead of "superstition" as a basis for their philosophy. Included in this philosophy was the so-called scientific method in which postulates or theories could be proven or falsified by experimentation.

The enlightenment was represented in America during the 18th century by such men as Thomas Payne, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson and was the philosophical basis of our country's quest for freedom. Jefferson, a naturalist and primary author of the Declaration of Independence, so disbelieved in the miracles that he physically removed them from his personal Bible.

Through the 19th century, the enlightenment continued to have a significant impact culminating in what has been referred to as one of the greatest works of man, Darwin's On the Origin of Species in which the theory of evolution was espoused. Published in 1859, this book has radically changed the way man has viewed himself and his universe.

The enlightenment continues to exert significant influence on science, culture, and politics in today's world. Many, if not most, no longer accept the authority of the Bible nor do they accept the miracles contained therein. Lawrence Krauss, a part of the New Atheist Movement, whose stated purpose is to rid the world of religion, has said, "You've got to confront silly beliefs by telling them they are silly. If you're trying to convince people, pointing out what they believe is nonsense is a better way to bring them around."

The question proposed is: How can I believe in miracles in an enlightened age? To believe in miracles requires first, a belief in God, then a belief that God communicated to man through the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and inspired men, and that the Bible is inerrant and historically accurate.

A belief in God is manifested in His creation. Romans 1:20, states, "For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes, his eternal power, and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so they are without excuse." The evidence of a creator is overwhelming. Scientists admit the universe had a beginning, a beginning they call "The Big Bang," which by its very nature implies a cause and only something or someone not bound by the "the laws of the universe" could have transcended them. Our universe, which is fine tuned to 10 to the 37th power, would require someone to abandon reason and logic to deny a creator. 

It is only logical that a creator would choose to communicate to his ultimate creation, man, in some form or another. The Bible itself is a testament to its inspiration and uniqueness. None of the other "so-called sacred books" give an account of the actual creation of the space-time continuum with every other system of cosmology starting with eternal matter or energy in some form from which the other entities were supposedly derived. Furthermore, the Bible is unique in its continuity, circulation, translation, and even its survival. If there is any further doubt regarding the Bible's inspiration, look to the prophecies. The prophecies of the Bible are specific towards individuals, nations, times, places, and peoples. No other "inspired book" can compare to it. Yes, the Bible could only come from a divine creator and though evidences cannot "prove" it is the word of God, any intelligent person searching for the truth can read it and be convicted it could not possibly be just the work of man.

Once a person accepts a creator and the inspiration of the Bible, both of which do not require one to give up reason and logic, a belief in miracles becomes inevitable and Christianity a factual faith. Clark Pinnock has written, "The facts backing the Christian claim are not a special kind of religious fact. They are the cognitive, informational fact upon which all historical, legal, and ordinary decisions are based." Miracles are those things that defy the natural laws and natural processes observed in our world; they represent things that are not just statistically improbable, but rather, physically impossible. Miracles serve a very specific purpose in the Bible, that is to confirm the messenger and the message, and were observed by eyewitnesses (Mark 16:20). In John 21:24, the apostle writes, "This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, and wrote these things, and we know that this witness is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written." Luke further points out in the beginning of his Gospel that his disciples "were eyewitnesses and servants of the word." Speaking of the resurrection of Jesus, Luke writes in Acts 1:3, "To these he also presented himself alive, after his suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God." Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that Christ "was seen of above five hundred brethren at once...".

Being a Christian is logical and based upon the interpretation of the facts and does not require one to be superstitious or defy reason. Naturalism is a philosophy and is no more scientific than creationism, neither of which is amenable to the scientific method. To those with an open mind, there is much more evidence for a divine creator than not, and many very influential and important scientists believe in the miracles of the Bible. Astrophysicist Danny Faulkner, Hugh Ross, Jason Lisle, and many others are part of this group. John Ashton's wonderful book, "In six days" lists fifty scientists with doctorate degrees who believe in creation and the miracles of the Bible. Even Francis Collins, the former head of the Human Genome Project, believes in the historicity of the New Testament and its miracles.

Yes, a person can believe in miracles in this enlightened age and I certainly am proud to count myself as one. Like the apostle Paul, "I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation." This certainly does not negate the importance of faith, for without it, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). But my faith is not a blind faith. My faith came by hearing (Rom. 10:17) and that faith is based on eyewitness testimonies (2 Pet. 1:16; 1 John 1:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:6). My faith is incumbent on the miracles of the Bible and, in fact, if the greatest miracle of all, the resurrection of Christ, did not occur, we are all as Paul says, "Men most to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:17).

Contrary to post-modernist views, there is an absolute truth, and that truth is Jesus Christ, and in no one else can salvation be found (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). From my point of view, it takes much more faith to believe in naturalism and evolution than it does miracles and Christianity!

This article appeared in the October 2014 issue of Truth Magazine, available in electronic or print form at www.truthmagazine.com.

Why I Believe in God

Sunday, November 30, 2014

 

by Allen Dvorak

 

Television screenwriter Doris Egan wrote, "Rational arguments don't usually work on religious people. Otherwise, there wouldn't be religious people." The point being made is that religious people must be irrational. Atheists are often not bashful about suggesting that believing in God is about as rational as the childhood belief that monsters live under the bed.

 

My belief in God is not the result of wishful thinking or a desperate need to find purpose in my life. I don't believe in God because of some fear that there is nothing after death. I believe in God because I accept the testimony of the Bible. The very first verse of the Bible affirms the existence of God - "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen, 1:1). Of course, testimony is only as valuable as the reliability or credibility of the witness. Although there is evidence that the Bible was written by individuals who were divinely guided, atheists and skeptics tend to consider belief in the trustworthiness of the Bible to be as irrational as belief in God.

 

I also believe in God because I can see evidence of His existence and nature in the physical world around me. God has left His "fingerprints" on the creation.

 

Over time, religious philosophers have constructed various rational arguments to support the existence of God. One of these classical proofs is the Cosmological Argument (also known as the argument from first cause). The cosmos, the universe, is an effect that resulted from an adequate cause. That cause is God. Another "proof is the  Anthropological Argument which suggests that man is a moral creature with a sense of right and wrong and thus must have been created by a Being who is likewise moral.

 

Of all the classical proofs, however, I believe the most powerful by far is the Teleological Argument (most commonly known in its refined form as "Intelligent Design"). This argument asserts that if there is design in the universe, there must be a designer. The complex design seen in the natural world cannot be adequately explained by "time and chance."

 

In Romans, the apostle Paul wrote that the Gentiles were “without excuse” for their conduct because “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Rom 1:19).

 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made..." (Rom 1:19-20). The idea that man can look at "the things that have been made" and perceive from them these "invisible attributes" of God is the basic thesis of the Intelligent Design argument.

 

I believe the Intelligent Design argument is a particularly powerful argument for several reasons. First, the argument is easy to understand; the logic behind the argument is apparent and readily accepted by the average person. Who would argue that a bunch of metal "Parts," thrown into a large container and shaken for however long, will randomly assemble themselves into a modern car with all of its complex systems? Most people are quick to accept the idea that "design demands a designer'"

 

Second, the evidence of complexity and intelligent design in our universe is everywhere! It is readily available to the scientist and well documented for the "layman." Every discipline among the physical sciences provides evidence that can be used to make this argument.

 

Third, the argument from Intelligent Design is one that just keeps on giving! The recognized evidence is accumulating at an astronomical pace. For example, through the advances of technology we are able to see smaller and smaller things and thus we now have detailed understanding about processes in the human body that were "invisible" to men just a few generations ago. The more we learn about our world, the stronger the argument becomes. As atheistic scientists unravel the complexity and design of nature, they are providing us with convincing evidence to combat the general theory of evolution!

 

Finally, the evidence used in the Intelligent Design argument requires less "interpretation" than the supposed evidence for the general theory of evolution found in geology, comparative anatomy, etc. Nevertheless, recognizing the power of the Intelligent Design argument, atheistic scientists are fighting tooth and nail against it, suggesting, for instance, that the natural world only "appears" to have intelligent design!

 

If one wishes to give an example of intelligent design in nature, there are so many that it is difficult to decide which to use! Consider the "obvious" design and complexity of the genetic material known as DNA. DNA is a complex sequence of amino acids that form the genetic code of cells, basically an information code used in their reproduction. A single cell may occupy an area of less than one-thousandth of an inch and yet the DNA of just that single cell contains coded information equivalent in content to a complete set of encyclopedias (see Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino,

Unshakable Foundations, 136-1367)!

 

Furthermore, DNA cannot be reduced to a simpler, functioning object, meaning that it must have all of its parts in order to function properly. It is thus a particularly effective example of intelligent design because it could not be developed over time through natural selection or chance (see Dr. Michael Behe, Darwin's Black Box, for an excellent discussion of the implication of irreducibly complex organisms or systems).

 

Although our physical bodies are just one example of design and complexity after another, the human eye is one of the most convincing examples of intelligent design. It is much more complex and versatile than any camera of human invention. By means of over 100 million differentiated photoreceptor cells, the retina at the back of the eyeball senses light and translates its information into chemical signals that are transmitted via the optic nerve to the brain. That would be amazing enough, but the information to the brain is transmitted "upside-down" and the visual centers of the brain invert the images as they are put together. To add even more complexity, each eye sends its information to the opposite hemisphere of the brain and only half of the total information for a complete "picture." The two hemispheres of the brain then put together the two halves of the complete image in a seamless fashion, doing all of this faster than the blink of an eye (pun intended)!

 

The complexity of the human eye caused one individual to comment, "To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest sense." That person was Charles Darwin, the man who popularized an early form of the general theory of evolution (The Origin of Species, 170). Darwin's statement was, unfortunately, not evidence of his conversion from the foolishness of his error; he went on to argue that the eye had, in fact, been produced by natural selection through an evolutionary process!

 

The argument from Intelligent Design doesn’t identify the designer; it merely affirms one. The Scriptures, however, inform us that God is the Designer and Creator of the world around me.

 

I don't close my eyes when I pray so that I can shut out reality and enter into that "imaginary world" where God exists and hears my prayer. I pray to God because my eyes have been opened to His power and wisdom!

 

This article appeared in the October 2014 issue of Truth Magazine, available in electronic or print form at www.truthmagazine.com

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