“Is Dark Matter Another Attack on God?”

I was reading an article about experiments with dark matter in a very deep underground lab in South Dakota. What is dark matter and is this another secular atheist way to circumvent God?

The simple answer is that dark matter is material in space that cannot be directly detected with telescopes because it does not emit any type of radiation. Ordinary dark matter is made up of cold gas, stars with so little mass that they never ignite nuclear fusion, small rocks, etc. Even though astronomers cannot directly see dark matter, they can detect its presence through its effects, e.g. impact on movement of galaxies. (See the excerpt from an article by Dr. David Rogstad below for more information on this.) In attempting to measure the amount of dark matter required to create the observed effects, astronomers have developed a theory that there are two types of dark matter: ordinary dark matter and exotic dark matter. Exotic dark matter only weakly interacts with light and ordinary matter, so it is different than the material we normally deal with on earth. I would guess the experiments you were reading about were dealing with the study of exotic dark matter.

Based on this definition, the existence of dark matter does not directly bear on the existence of God. I have not seen any arguments from atheists that point to dark matter as supporting evidence for their claims. Given that dark matter in space can only be detected through very sophisticated, expensive methods, I would not expect the Bible to talk about it directly, and it does not. Of course, the Bible makes it clear that “For by Him [Jesus Christ] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible” (Col. 1:16). No matter how you define dark matter, it is covered by this verse.

Going a little deeper, it is true that some (but not all) of the ways used to estimate the amount of dark matter in the universe assume that the universe has been expanding for billions of years. Some Christian scientists, such as those at Reasons to Believe, who promote a Biblical creation model based on a 13.7 billion-year-old universe, point out that the existence of dark matter in just the right quantities is further evidence that our earth is fine tuned for life to such a degree that it could only be through the work of a transcendent, all powerful, intelligent creator. RTB has a number of articles on dark matter which you can see at www.reasons.org/search/node/?keys=%22dark+Matter%22.

If you are interested in understanding the different Christian perspectives on the origins of the universe, check out our Faith and Science section at www.probe.org; in particular you may be interested in “Christian Views of Science and Earth History” at www.probe.org/christian-views-of-science-and-earth-history

I hope this answer is helpful for you.

God bless,
Steve Cable

Excerpt from Dr. David Rogstad on history of dark matter: “Based on his observation that clusters of galaxies do not have enough matter to remain gravitationally bound, Fritz Zwicky proposed (in 1933) the existence of dark matter to provide the needed gravity. Since then, there has been a growing body of supporting evidence, including flat rotation curves in large spiral galaxies, larger-than-expected velocity dispersion in elliptical galaxies, and certain measured characteristics of the cosmic microwave background, all of which require the presence of dark matter for their explanation.” [www.reasons.org/filling-gap]

© 2009 Probe Ministries


Dr. Ray Bohlin Engages in Embryonic Stem Cell Debate

Dr. Ray Bohlin was recently (3/11/09) a guest on a radio talk show concerning President Obama’s Executive Order expanding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. This was on station KPFT in Houston, a “Progressive” (liberal) radio station. The other guest was Dr. P.Z. Myers, in his own words “a godless liberal,” a biologist at the University of Minnesota at Morris. He hosts what is called the most popular science blog in the nation, Pharyngula. The host of the program, Geoff Berg, could probably also be described in the same way. The hour-long show is archived here. You might be interested to listen to Dr. Bohlin explain his viewpoint in a sometimes hostile environment.

Articles you may find helpful:

Human Embryonic Stem Cells Go to Human Trials [Heather Zeiger]

The Continuing Controversy over Stem Cells [Dr. Ray Bohlin]

Stem Cell Wars [Kerby Anderson Commentary]

Stem Cells and the Controversy Over Therapeutic Cloning [Dr. Ray Bohlin]

Stem Cell Commentary [Dr. Ray Bohlin]

Cloning and Genetics: The Brave New World Closes In [Dr. Ray Bohlin]


Darwin Day

February 12, 2009 is being promoted internationally as Darwin Day. Aside from being Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday it is also Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. It’s not too difficult a guess to say that the emphasis on Darwin is due in large part to the continuing success of groups around the world arguing that Darwinism is not all that it has been made out to be.

In America 40% of the general public still does not accept that a purely naturalistic process is responsible for all we see in the living world. This drives the community of evolutionary biologists and all humanist and atheist groups positively bonkers. They all but blame the decreasing enrollments in science programs in this country on this continuing reticence to accept Darwin.

Some see the need, therefore, to increase education on all things Darwin on the occasion of Darwin’s anniversary and all the contributions of the man and the idea. We will hear how Darwin revolutionized biology. The often repeated quote of Theodosius Dobzhansky, a mid-20th century evolutionist, that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” will be repeated ad nauseum.

There is no doubt that Darwin made impressive contributions about the ubiquitous nature of small scale changes in biological populations over time. Not all things Darwin are to be considered suspect. But separating the good from the bad can be a daunting challenge at times.

The recent documentary film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, received howls of protest at the accusation that Darwinism made a contribution to the Nazis’ eugenics program and ideas of racial purity. Never mind that these connections have been considered historical facts for decades. Richard Weikart’s excellent book, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism, makes the case in great detail from the German literature of the early decades of the twentieth century. But casting aspersions on Darwin in a very public setting just isn’t tolerated. People might get the wrong idea, you see, that Darwin is anything less than THE saint of modern biology.

You should also pay no attention to the fact that when the great Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, finished his soldiering in the Civil War, he became a convinced Darwinist after all the suffering he witnessed and participated in. This led to his rethinking about law in general. He soon realized that since all things biological change over time, so should the law that we govern ourselves by. Holmes was the original activist judge, making law instead of interpreting law. He firmly believed that law was a product of evolving cultures and traditions.{1}

The innovator in moral philosophy of education John Dewey was decidedly Darwinian. The originator of the still popular Values Clarification moral approach believed that moral values evolve just like biological features, and students must be free therefore to arrive at their own values. We simply can’t know if our values are better or preferable than another’s. When given a choice, most parents prefer their children be taught a clear system of right and wrong but most teachers prefer to teach a values clarification approach.{2}

If we’re going to be bombarded with Darwiniana this month and for the rest of the year (since 2009 is also the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species) let’s appeal for some balance. Since even Abraham Lincoln is being reevaluated as perhaps not the great President many have idolized him to be, why not Darwin?

Check out Probe’s numerous articles on the various problems with Darwinian practice and thinking. Also stop by the Discovery Institute’s website at www.discovery.org/csc to keep up with the latest news through articles, podcasts, and news briefs.

Let’s teach more Darwin for sure. But let’s try to tell the whole story and not just the laundered propaganda of the evolutionary elite.

Notes

1. Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 228-229, 237.
2. Ibid., 238-242.

© Copyright 2009 Probe Ministries


“Shouldn’t the Statistical Improbability of Evolution Convince Open-Minded Evolutionists?”

Dear Dr. Bohlin,

Thank you for your excellent article “The Five Crises in Evolutionary Development” which I just completed reading. Very, very well done.

Here is a comment/question for you: The statistical improbability (impossibility) of macroevolution, whether Darwinian or sudden leaps, is so overwhelming that no other evidence should really be needed to discredit the theory. However, I’ve never seen the type of discussion of the statistical/probability aspect that I’d like to see. My feeling is if the statistical aspect were carefully developed and presented it would be sufficient to convince any reasonably open-minded evolutionist (an oxymoron?).

Thanks again for your excellent article. If you know of any good statistical analyses of the probability of evolution please tell me where to look.

I’m glad you found the article helpful.

Regarding probability, most biologists don’t really fully comprehend the argument from probability. To them, evolution happened, therefore the statistical studies must be missing something to come up with such impossible odds. Their eyes tend to glaze over with the many numbers and conditions. In my graduate work at the University of North Texas in the late 70s, the one probability and statistics course we all took was largely seen as necessary evil and we all probably remember being told that statistics can be easily misused and you can prove anything with statistics. So while they all need some probability and statistics to get their population genetics articles published, they largely distrust the figures of others. Therefore anything trying to use probability to debunk evolution must be suspect.

A good book covering the general argument from probability against evolution can be found in Lee Spetner’s Not By Chance. You can probably still find it at Amazon or at the ID website at www.arn.org.

Respectfully,

Ray Bohlin, PhD

© 2008 Probe Ministries


“Cloning Could Help So Many People”

I am intrigued by the possibilities of cloning. Is human cloning possible? Could we use it on nearly extinct animals? What would be the risks of cloning, and if it were a success what might be the outcome?

I am interested in this because I think that cloning should be allowed to go ahead because it could one day help a lot of people. I would like to know as much information as you have on genetic cloning, so that I can gain an understanding of it and how it works. We would also have the ability to feed the starving children in Africa and other third world countries.

I am intrigued by the possibilities of cloning. Is human cloning possible? Could we use it on nearly extinct animals?

Human cloning is not possible at this time. Cloning to preserve endangered species is counter-productive since cloning produces genetically identical organisms. Endangered species usually suffer from a lack of genetic diversity. Cloning only makes the problem worse.

What would be the risks of cloning, and if it were a success what might be the outcome?

Cloning produces a nearly identical genetic copy of the original by taking the nucleus of a cell from an organism and placing inside an egg cell of the same species. The egg needs to “reprogram” the original cell’s DNA to perform embryonic functions. The risks currently are that this process is not always complete and the organism dies at various stages of development, or it is born deficient in some way. Some scientists believe that all clones are genetically handicapped in some way but some are able to survive, but marginally.

I am interested in this because I think that cloning should be allowed to go ahead because it could one day help a lot of people.

We don’t really know yet what cloning could do for anybody. At the moment there are only hopes and wild dreams.

I would like to know as much information as you have on genetic cloning, so that I can gain an understanding of it and how it works.

I have several articles on our website. Check there first: http://www.probe.org/faith-and-science/bioethics/

If we were to be able to clone cows it would mean that we would not have a loss of meat production.

Cloning cows is more expensive than normal reproduction. Currently only bulls are cloned to make more copies of good genetic stock for normal animal husbandry purposes.

We would also have the ability to feed the starving children in Africa and other third world countries.

Unfortunately, cloning will not answer this problem.

I hope you find this helpful.

Respectfully,

Ray Bohlin, Ph.D.

© 2008 Probe Ministries


Only Science Addresses Reality?

Dr. Ray Bohlin comments on the hubris of Drs. Coyne and Cobb in their op-ed in Nature, in which they claim that only science addresses reality. Religion, they say, must be silenced. This alarming sentiment has already met reality in California.

Would it surprise you to hear that churches may eventually be prohibited from teaching any ideas contrary to Darwinian evolution? “No way!” you say. “The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech! The first amendment guarantees that Congress can pass no law restricting or promoting any religious exercise!”

Well, yes the Constitution does that, but be patient with me and I’ll show why the answer to the opening question could be “yes.”

In the current issue of Nature, probably the most prestigious science journal in the world, a letter to the editor appeared in the August 28, 2008 issue on page 1049. Two well-known evolutionary biologists, University of Chicago’s Jerry Coyne and University of Manchester’s Matthew Cobb wrote the letter to complain about a previous editorial expressing hope that the Templeton Foundation, which funds research into the relationship between science and religion, might bring about some helpful resolutions.

Coyne and Cobb couldn’t disagree more:

We were perplexed by your Editorial on the work of the Templeton Foundation…. Surely science is about material explanations of the world—explanations that can inspire those spooky feelings of awe, wonder and reverence in the hyper-evolved human brain.

Religion, on the other hand, is about humans thinking that awe, wonder and reverence are the clue to understanding a God-built Universe…. There is a fundamental conflict here, one that can never be reconciled until all religions cease making claims about the nature of reality (emphasis added).

The scientific study of religion is indeed full of big questions that need to be addressed, such as why belief in religion is negatively correlated with an acceptance of evolution. One could consider psychological studies of why humans are superstitious and believe impossible things….

You suggest that science may bring about “advances in theological thinking.” In reality, the only contribution that science can make to the ideas of religion is atheism (emphasis added).

Coyne and Cobb clearly state that religion has no authority to make claims about reality. If science is allowed to persist in this audacious distortion of religion and science, then any kind of teaching that is critical of any aspect of naturalistic evolution would be considered a negative influence on society as a whole. Religion is seen as crossing its constitutionally protected borders.

Biology teachers constantly complain now that what they teach about evolution is contradicted by the churches their students attend. This is obviously quite frustrating. If science is the only branch of knowledge that is allowed to make claims about reality, then religious teachings should not be allowed to interfere.

You may still be thinking that I’m taking this too far. Consider though that the California state university system already refuses to give credit for high school science courses that include anything beyond naturalistic evolution. Many Christian private school graduates in California are finding that their science courses are not accepted at state universities. Essentially that means you don’t get in unless you can make those credits up by taking junior college science courses that meet the evolution-only standard.

State governments may easily decide that they need to help these religious school graduates out by requiring that these religious schools not be allowed to teach religious material that contradicts state-mandated standards. It’s a violation of the separation of church and state, after all!

If you ever questioned the importance of the evolution/Intelligent Design controversy, I hope you see the point now. Unless we can convince a sufficient minority in the science community that science is limited and the subject of origins is one of those limitations, we may not be able to legally teach students anything about creation or Intelligent Design.

While Coyne and Cobb certainly don’t represent all scientists, they are not alone! Trust me. I watched a video recently of Jerry Coyne making a presentation at a scientific meeting where he basically made the very same claim. NO one objected. He was applauded enthusiastically. Watch it for yourself here. While the whole lecture is worth watching, the last eight minutes when he presents a slide with just the word “Religion” is the key segment.

Coyne and others are trying to establish what Nancy Pearcey called the fact/value split in her book Total Truth. To Coyne science is based on fact. Only material explanations are allowed in science since religion is based on personal values and have nothing to do with facts. Therefore if you try to inject your personal values (Creation, Intelligent Design) into the world of facts (science) this is a violation of the rules of science. It’s not allowed.

According to Jerry Coyne speaking in the video, the only way to increase the acceptance of evolution is to reduce or eliminate the influence of religion. The two are incompatible! Coyne is unable to see that he also has a worldview, materialism, which influences how he interprets the data of science. He erroneously believes he is being objective about his interpretation.

This is a cultural battle as well as a scientific battle. For more information and resources from Probe to help you educate yourself and others about evolution and Intelligent Design see browse our articles at www.probe.org. If we don’t “tear down strongholds” like this, we may find ourselves behind impenetrable, silent walls.

© 2008 Probe Ministries


“Can I Get HIV From Washing Machines?”

Hello Mr. Ray,

I would like to get some advice from you regarding HIV transmission.

Because of the nature of my job, I have to always travel from one place to another. During this I have to stay in the hotel for many days. For washing my clothes, I often use the washing machines which are kept in the hotel for washing clothes. These machines are used by many people for washing clothes. Do I need to take any special care when using these machines for washing my clothes, as these machines are used by several people; some of them might be infected with the disease or the clothes which are brought for washing might be contaminated with body fluids of the infected person.

Please advise.

There is no danger to you in using these washing machines. Infection with HIV requires direct contact with body fluids contaminated with the virus. HIV is actually a very fragile virus outside the body so even if someone were to have washed clothes containing blood or semen from an infected individual in the machine you are about to use, the virus will have been disabled long before by exposure to air, drying and the chemicals in the detergent. Infection also requires exposure to a large number of virus particles. So even if, by the remotest of chance, some virus particles survived all this (and the heat of the dryer), there simply would not be enough of them to cause infection by the time you put your clothes on or even handled them in the laundry facility.

I am confident that you have nothing to be afraid of.

Respectfully,

Ray Bohlin, Ph.D.
Probe Ministries


“What Does the Bible Say About Masturbation?”

Dr. Bohlin:

I have just read your article on “Sexual Purity” & found it to be an excellent resource. You have really hit this subject on the head.

Can you please address the following question?

I am a Christian male, age 36. My girlfriend, maybe soon to be fiance is also a Christian. We do not cohabit, nor do we have sexual relations, albeit we are not virgins.

The secular world would have us believe that masturbation is a healthy practice. Research has shown that men think about sex more often than women. Obviously men and women are wired differently.

I catch myself entertaining sexual thoughts and I feel a tremendous amount of guilt. What does the Bible say about masturbation & entertaining sexual thoughts? I know that we can commit fornication in our hearts by our lustful thoughts & desires.

You raise a difficult and even controversial topic. Christians have disagreed on the issue of masturbation. Some allow it and some do not. Here is my take. The Bible is clear that any sexual activity outside of marriage is sin. The biblical term “fornication” (sexual immorality) simply refers to any sexual activity outside of marriage. Jesus also clearly indicated, as you mentioned, that we can commit adultery in our hearts without any physical activity involved. Part of our sanctification process is to be transformed from being self-centered to being other-centered. With this background, consider these realities. Masturbation is sexual activity outside of marriage. Most if not all masturbation is accompanied by sexual thoughts to accentuate the experience. Masturbation is essentially self-centered, seeking to fulfill one’s own needs by oneself. There is no specific Biblical admonition to refrain from masturbation. However, based on the review above, it is difficult to find any justification for it either.

This is not to say, of course, that avoidance of masturbation in young men is easy. We praise God for His finished work on the cross that allows for forgiveness of past, present, and future sin, even besetting sins.

Respectfully,

Dr. Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries


“Is Masturbation OK When My Wife and I Are Apart?”

lonely man

This is an embarrassing question but here goes…….

I am a soldier in the US Army and a born again Christian. Many times the army sends us away from home for long periods and we are separated from our families. I have read your responses to others concerning masturbation but my dilemma is this. I have done this but I do not use porn and I am thinking of my wife when I do it. My wife and I have a very healthy sexual relationship and when together we enjoy each other just as the Bible allows!!! Do you stand firm on your direction for those of us who are married and do this?? I have prayed and have not felt the same conviction as I have on other issues I have taken to the Lord. I know this doesn’t mean that okays it but that is usually the way he answers my issues.

Thanks for writing and your encouragement. You bring up a very important issue, masturbation within marriage.

Since you have read my other responses let me remind you of something I said within one of those responses.

“Masturbation is essentially self-centered, seeking to fulfill one’s own needs by oneself. ”

I’m afraid this still holds in your case. I fully recognize that the long separations are difficult. But by relieving your sexual tension on your own (even though you use your wife in your mental image) you are robbing your wife of her proper role and responsibility in your sexual relationship. For example, it is well recognized that the longer the time interval between sexual experiences, the greater the enjoyment and the more powerful the experience when finally consummated. By masturbating during separation you ultimately dampen the reunion for both you and your wife. Ask yourself, biblically, who should be the sole recipient of your sexual energies? I think you would answer that it should be your wife alone.

Masturbation also creates conflicting signals for your mind and body. A high frequency of masturbation creates a pattern in your mind and body on how it is best satisfied. And this will be apart from your wife. You may also fantasize situations with your wife that she may be unable to fulfill in person. This can also create a situation where your actual experiences together may not be able to measure up to what you have created in your mind. This can easily erect a barrier in your mind for when you are together.

Also this is still a sexual experience outside of marriage as God intended, which is fornication.

I challenge you to refrain from masturbation during your next separation with a willing attitude of submission and purity and see if it doesn’t make a significant and “very positive” difference in the intensity of your reunion.

Respectfully,

Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries


“Is Masturbation A Sin?”

This has plagued me for a long time. Is masturbation a sin, and if so how serious is it? I have been doing good for a while but I am starting to slip again. I need help. If you could get back to me I would be thankful and I am ashamed of this.

You raise an issue that affects more young men (and a growing number of women) than you probably realize. When young men are unmarried their sexual drive seeks satisfaction, so you are certainly not alone in this struggle. Most Christians will agree that masturbation is sin for two very important reasons.

First, God has defined sex for within marriage only. The numerous Old Testament prohibitions on fornication or sexual immorality refer to any sexual experience outside of marriage. This would included self-inflicted sexual pleasure.

Second, most masturbation takes place with pornography to look at either actually or in your mind through fantasy. Since Jesus condemned not only the act of adultery but lusting in our mind, this is clearly included.

You must also keep in mind the addictive nature of nearly all sexual sin including pornography. It eventually becomes a form of idolatry. We worship our sensual pleasure over Jesus.

Jesus’ response to Peter’s question as to how many times he must forgive (70 x 7) is meant to assure us of God’s infinite capacity to forgive even habitual sin. Masturbation can only be conquered in the power of the Holy Spirit. If you follow Philippians 4:8 when tempted, you will find that the thoughts vanish or they remain only at your desire. It must become a question of Lordship: Jesus or you. The masturbation becomes only a symptom of a deeper need for intimacy with Christ. Habitual sin does not lead to questions of salvation but of Lordship.

I encourage you to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and everything else will follow. This is not to say it will be easy or quick. True discipleship is costly and our personal secret kingdoms must be rooted out one by one. But Jesus said I will never leave you nor forsake you. He meant it.

Also, may I suggest two websites for help with sexual addiction and pornography addiction? The first is Setting Captives Free at www.settingcaptivesfree.com, and the second is Blazing Grace at www.blazinggrace.org.

Dr. Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries