Archive for April, 2010

So I’m really busy during my last week of school and haven’t had time to write. However, for some reason, I wrote this on a comment on a different blog, because I found it extremely interesting. I’ve been writing a report on Mt. St. Helens that I have to present tomorrow, and while this isn’t in the report, I did find it interesting.

There was an area with a radius of 60 miles where absolutely nothing was heard. Scientific-y stuff made simple(keep in mind that sound waves travel faster in warmer air and tend to be refracted toward cooler temperatures), the sound waves bent upward toward cooler air at high altitudes, hit about fifteen miles where air temperatures began to rise because of the sun, and were refracted back toward the ground, about the shape of a flattened doughnut. The sound continued to bounce back and forth, so there were alternating zones of loud and quiet at increasing distances from the volcano. Awesome, huh?

Random science fact of the day: check. ^_^


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DNA: Design or Chance?

Sorry it has taken me so long to write. I’m finally finding time to post and catch up on letter and book writing. I know I also said two or three posts ago that I would be keeping my science posts smaller. And while I meant that…I may end up making them longer than I mean to, simply because it’s hard to break off in the middle of something. So today I wish to speak on DNA and the information it contains.

First of all, it may be necessary that you understand how DNA is synthesized. I could write that out, but then this post would be huge. So if you get lost, I would recommend just finding a simple explanation, because you don’t need a complicated one to understand this post. Moving on.

DNA has been described as being even more complicated than a computer’s coding. While it has only four letters, it is so detailed in how it must be arranged to accomplish anything. If you want something to accomplish a certain task, the DNA must be arranged in the correct order. And if you want this thing to do something else, new information, or DNA must be added. For instance, if you want your computer to run a new kind of program, you have to download something to the hard drive; aka, feed it information. The computer needs instructions on how to do what you want it to do.

But where did this information come from, the instructions necessary to build these proteins to make DNA? A lot of people will talk about the ‘prebiotic soup’ – chemicals that existed on the primitive Earth prior to life. However, even if the right chemicals were present to create a living cell, instructions for the specific configurations would be needed to form the structures necessary for specific functions.

So let’s sum up a DNA molecule briefly. DNA has vour bases: adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine. This is where DNA stores info. These bases instruct the cell on how to build different sequences of amino acis, which when arranged differently will create different proteins.

A protein is a linear arrangement of amino acids. Because of the force exerted between amino acids, the proteins fold into very specific 3D shapes. These shapes are irregular, and can only change so much in order to fit into a catalyst site to catalyze a reaction or form structural molecules, linkers, or parts of molecular machines (if you didn’t understand that, just understand that they can only take on certain shapes to work). The 3D shape that allows proteins to perform a function was derived from a 1D sequence of amino acids. If you rearrange any of the acids, you’d set up a completely different combination of force interactions and the protein would fold differently. So the correct order is necessary to fold into a shape of a functional protein.

DNA is much like a library that houses instructions to build proteins, the building blocks for larger components and structures. The organism accesses the info it needs so it can build these components. To build one single protein, you typically need 1200-2000 bases.

But how did the DNA get there? Bill Gates said that “DNA is like a software program, only much more complex than anything we’ve ever devised.” Scientists use a scientific principle of reasoning known as uniformitarianism. This concept is the idea that our present knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships should guide our reconstruction of what caused something to arise in the past. For example, if you find ripple marks preserved from the ancient past in sedimentary rock strata, and you see the same kind of ripple marks being formed in lake beds as water evaporates, you can infer using uniformitarian reasoning that these ripples on the strata were formed in a similar process.

So the simplest cell we study or evidence in fossil record requires information stored in DNA or some other info carrier. And we know from experience that info is habitually associated with conscious activity. Using uniformitarian logic, we can reconstruct the cause of the ancient info in the first cell as being the product of intelligence.

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Swearing: Okay?

Before I go into this post, I’d like to make clear that a) I don’t condemn people that swear, and b) I don’t believe swearing is ‘worse’ than any other sin. James 2:10 says, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”  So we are told that when we commit one sin, we have ‘broken the law’, meaning that we have sinned and messed up, period. Not “I messed up less than he did”.  All have sinned and require forgivness.

I chose to do a post on this because I’ve noticed that people in my youth group will sometimes swear, or admit to swearing outside of church. When they ask me what I think about swearing or ask if it bothers me, I tell them that I don’t like it and think it’s wrong, and they counter that they don’t think the Bible condemns swearing. What amuses me is that they then say that curse words are used in the Bible. So I wanted to see if I could find these verses and see what the Bible has to say about language.

So let’s look at some of these supposed swear words. First off, damn. Damn has a very literal meaning. To damn somebody is to, for lack of better translation, doom them. Nations may be damned, or certain people, meaning doomed to hell. And now we come to another word: hell. Hell is a literal place, not a swear word. Nor is it ever used as one. Hell is a place of eternal suffering, separation from God. Not a way to express anger. Ass is a donkey, folks, not an idiot. It is also never used as a swear word. Piss is also used in the Bible, but also in its literal sense. It is never used in an offensive or crude way. Bastard is also used properly, ie for an illegitimate son, not as a derogatory term for somebody. Words such as the f-word or s-word are not found in the Bible, though a friend of mine told me they were. It is also a sin to use God’s name in a way not reverent. Exodus 20:7 says “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” God’s name is holy; don’t abuse it.

As for verses that speak of using improper language, the one most obvious would be Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” I’ve never heard a swear word that builds somebody up. But we also see in this verse that it’s not just a sin to swear, but use any words or phrases that are unkind and would hurt somebody. So saying ‘freaking, shoot, or crap’ are really just as bad as swear words. Also, calling somebody stupid or saying a girl is ugly is a sin. The only difference is that in our language we count these words and phrases as less vulgar than some other things that could be said. But really, they are just as much a sin.  When we say such things, we hurt not only others but also ourselves.

Matthew 5:22 – “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Raca meaning literally ‘empty head’, in our language, idiot or moron). While saying these things won’t send you to Hell, you will be held accountable for them at judgement. Matthew 12:36-37 – “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

Matthew 15:18-19 – “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” What comes out of our mouth reflects who we are inside. Not what goes in, but what we let come out.  When we swear or say mean things, we are losing control of ourselves. James 3:4-5a: “Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.” Our tongues are powerful. We are to learn to control them. The Bible speaks of it so many times. Most of James 3 is devoted to talking about controlling the tongue. We have to keep a reign on what we say so that we can build each other up, and strengthen each other and give encouragement. Not tear down and offend.

Provers 10:31 says, “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut out.” We are supposed to be like Christ, and our actions and words should show who we stand for. We are supposed to be different from the rest of the world, in it but not of it. James 3:10 says, “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” He continues, saying, “Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” While cursing here isn’t used as swearing, per se, it does mean unwholesome and degrading talk. We can’t have both. We can’t say swearing is okay and be following the correct path. That sin needs to go. Just like so many others.

So is swearing a sin? Most definitely. We need to be more uplifting and show people the love that Christ has shown us. We need to be an example and tame our tongues so that only edifying talk comes from our mouths.

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