Could the Genesis Flood Have Happened the Way It Was Written?

By Stephen Chua

When I was growing up, I came across a stack of comics at my grandma’s place and was immediately drawn to the cover artwork. One series, The Crusaders by Jack Chick of Chick Publications fame, was my initiation into apologetics.

I still recall vividly one edition titled The Ark. The visual impact of people clinging desperately to rocks on mountaintops against the backdrop of waves and wind has stuck with me all these years. Much later I wondered: “Could something of such extraordinary proportions truly have happened the way it was described in Genesis 7?”

Today, as a geologist I have been thinking about what would be needed to produce Noah’s flood. In this short article I will consider three requirements:

 

  • First, there must be sufficient water to inundate the land so that “… all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered” ( 7:19).
  • Second, there must be geological mechanisms and conditions to distribute that water at an extraordinary rate, i.e., “The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth” ( 7:18).
  • Third, there should be natural barriers preventing escape or topography that hinders movement while amplifying the effect of rising waters, so that “… every living thing that moved on land perished” ( 7:21).

 

RTB’s position, based on biblical and scientific evidence, is that the flood of Noah was universal (affecting all humans) but not global. This view posits that humanity prior to the flood had settled within the boundaries of Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf Oasis (Gen. 1–9), and only spread to other geographical regions after the flood (post Gen. 10). Annihilation of sinful man thus involved only flooding the known world—kosmos tote—at that time (2 Pet. 3:6) in a localized setting. (See Navigating Genesis1 chapters 13–18 for a more detailed explanation and how RTB’s model differs from a global flood model.)

Local scale notwithstanding, God’s use of the power of nature to destroy all humanity in a matter of months is nothing short of spectacular and, in the minds of skeptics, unbelievable. However, by carefully inspecting each individual description through a geoscientific lens, I present a plausible model that could account for Noah’s flood.

 

Volume of Water

The first key question is “where did so much water come from?” Intuitively, one looks at the oceans, the most significant source of water. The total amount of water in oceans and seas shares a dynamic relationship with ice sheets. That is, more solid landlocked ice translates to less liquid water in oceans and seas, and vice versa. This feature means the ice mass fluctuates over time through ice melt. The main driver of ice sheet melt is solar insolation (exposure to sunlight), which on long timescales is influenced largely by the behavior of Earth’s orbit and rotation, which in turn drives the melting and freezing of water on Earth. The dominant sea-level signal over the last 800,000 years is the 100,000-year ice cycle (figure 1). The cycle shows that sea-level change during glacial (ice age) and interglacial cycles reached ranges of up to 120 meters in elevation 2 (indicated as relative sea level [RSL], the height of the ocean or sea relative to land at a particular location).

Figure 1: Sea- level variability across the last five ~100,000-year glacial-interglacial cycles based on records from the Red Sea. Grey dots represent foraminifera (tiny sea creatures) abundance and green symbols are coral and speleothem (limestone features in caves) sea-level markers. Adapted from E. J. Rohling et al., “Antarctic Temperature and Global Sea Level Closely Coupled over the Past Five Glacial Cycles”Nature Geoscience 2, no. 7 (June 21, 2009): 500-4, doi:10.1038/ngeo557. 

On a slower, broader scale, sea level across the world is not “level.” Levels can vary by location and time, and are driven by (1) changes in land ice volume and (2) Earth’s landmass and its gravity field’s response to this climate-driven ice-water mass redistribution. This process is known as glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA). The response of the earth’s surface and mantle due to fluctuations in ice-water loading, depending on how near or far from the polar ice sheets, can cause sea-level variability on the order of tens of meters at a given time (Figure 2), adding on to the previous variability of 120 meters of global water volume.

Figure 2: GIA-predicted deviation from global eustatic sea level (sea level as measured from the center of the earth to the sea surface) at 21,000 years ago (Last Glacial Maximum or Ice Age). Areas near the polar ice sheets (red) exhibit much higher RSL than far-field areas (blue). Letters represent sea level study sites used in the paper. Adapted from Glenn A. Milne and Jerry X. Mitrovica, “Searching for Eustasy in Deglacial Sea-Level Histories,” Quaternary Science Reviews, no. 25–26 (December 2008).

 

Rate of Water Level Change

Having accounted for the volume of water required, what about the extraordinary rate of water level change needed to produce a catastrophic flood? For this, we need to look at drivers of extreme land level changes—tectonics accompanied by suitable topography, which can produce the conditions for catastrophic annihilation of life within a short period of time.

It is logical to assume that the flood should have occurred relatively near the river systems specified in Genesis 1–2. Figure 3 shows parts of Africa, the Levant (eastern Mediterranean), and the Middle East which represent a maximum range for civilization during Noah’s time. This region contains a network of major tectonic faults that can alter land heights. In the case of a fault rupture, land elevations can shift rapidly within minutes. Furthermore, subduction zones (saw-toothed lines) are prime areas for tsunami generation if these plates, when closely coupled, rupture under water. For example, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, which reached heights of up to 48 meters, was generated by a magnitude 9.3 earthquake caused by rupture along the Sunda Megathrust.3

Figure 3: Generalized major plate boundaries and fault lines. Red lines represent plates moving away from each other (spreading boundaries); solid black lines represent plates sliding past each other (transform faults). Black lines with sawteeth represent where one plate dives beneath another in direction of sawteeth (convergent boundaries). Hatched red lines are broad belts of deformation. Red dots are mantle upwelling hotspots. Adapted from USGS, “Imaging Israel’s Dead Sea Fault to Understand How Continents Stretch and Rift,” July 31, 2018.

 

Topography

Sea level change is not the only factor affecting the elevation of flood waters. Land level change will also lead to higher relative sea level without an increase in water volume. Coincidentally (or not), the region where the African, Arabian, and Eurasian plates meet has the most significant below sea level depressions in the world, reaching lows of up to 400 meters below sea level.4 Such a low-lying plain of shallow gradient could have natural topographic barriers (called “sills” or ridges) to separate marine and fresh water, creating a viable location for early civilization to flourish. Such isolation basins and lakes created by natural barriers have been postulated to be potential locations for Noah’s flood (e.g., the Black Sea Hypothesis5). Overtopping and collapse of the sill, either through tectonic or climatic activity (e.g., a hurricane), would prove catastrophic for civilization inhabiting the low-lying basin.

 

Scientific Plausibility for the Flood

From a geoscience perspective this short list of the conditions required to produce Noah’s flood seems reasonable. There was clearly enough water which, when coupled with rapid land level change and suitable topography, could conceivably cause a flood of “biblical proportions.” While these mechanisms may not have been responsible for Noah’s flood, they at least demonstrate that the occurrence of this catastrophic localized flood does not require breaking the laws of science that God himself set in place (Jer. 33:25).

 

Endnotes
  1. Hugh Ross, Navigating Genesis: A Scientist’s Journey through Genesis 1–11 (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2014).
  2. J. Rohling et al., “Antarctic Temperature and Global Sea Level Closely Coupled over the Past Five Glacial Cycles,” Nature Geoscience 2, no. 7 (June 21, 2009): 500–4, https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo557.
  3. Byung Ho Choi et al., “Distribution of Runup Heights of the December 26, 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean,” Geophysical Research Letters 33, no. 13 (July 1, 2006), https://doi.org/10.1029/2006gl025867.
  4. David K. Lynch, “Land Below Sea Level,” com, accessed May 27, 2020, https://geology.com/below-sea-level/.
  5. William B. F. Ryan et al., “An Abrupt Drowning of the Black Sea Shelf,” Marine Geology 138, no. 1–2 (April 1997): 119–26, https://doi.org/10.1016/s0025-3227(97)00007-8.
  6. Glenn A. Milne, “Searching for Eustasy in Deglacial Sea-Level Histories,” Quaternary Science Reviews 27, no. 25–26 (2008): 2292–302, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.08.018.
  7. “Imaging Israel’s Dead Sea Fault to Understand How Continents Stretch and Rift,” USGS, July 31, 2018, https://www.usgs.gov/center-news/imaging-israel-s-dead-sea-fault-understand-how-continents-stretch-and-rift.

About Reasons to Believe

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Cambrian Creatures’ Diverse Complex Eyes Reinforce Creation Narrative

BY HUGH ROSS – JANUARY 25, 2021MORESHARE15

Does evolution or creation better explain the rapid emergence of complex animals? If there’s one event in Earth’s fossil record history that garners more spirited discussion than any other, it would be the Cambrian explosion.

The Cambrian explosion refers to the sudden simultaneous appearance of a broad diversity of the first skeletal animals. These animals manifested, for the first time in Earth’s history, bilateral symmetry, hard body parts, digestive tracts, circulatory systems, and complex internal and external organs. They arrived not just in one or two phyla (basic body plans). Between 50 to 80% of all animal phyla known to exist in Earth’s history appeared within a few million years or less—a geological instant—after the beginning of the Cambrian geological period 543 million years ago. Now, thanks to a new fossil discovery by paleontologists John Paterson, Gregory Edgecombe, and Diego García-Bellido,1 it is evident that the Cambrian explosion is more complex and explosive than previously thought.

One of the phyla that appeared in the Cambrian explosion is Arthropoda, which persists to this day in the form of insects, arachnids (spiders, scorpions, ticks, etc.), myriapods (centipedes and millipedes), and crustaceans. An order within Arthropoda, Radiodonta, existed only during the Cambrian period and included the earliest known large predators. They possessed claws, jaws with rows of teeth, prominent eyes, gills for respiration, and limbs for swimming (see figure 1).

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Figure 1: Radiodont examples. Body sizes ranged from 2 centimeters to 2 meters. Image credit: Junnn11, Creative Commons Attribution.

The most famous species member of Radiodonta is Anomalocaris aff. canadensis (the reddish creature in the top right corner of figure 1). Fossils of this creature are

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Figure 2: Fossils of the claws of Anomalocaris aff. canadensis. Image credit: Hugh Ross.

abundant in the Burgess Shale fossil beds in British Columbia, the first discovered evidence of the Cambrian explosion. A few years ago, Reasons to Believe (RTB) took about 40 ministry supporters on an expedition conference to the Burgess Shale fossil beds. Figure 2 shows photos I took of fossils of A. aff. canadensis claws.

Other Burgess Shale–type fossil beds have since been discovered. The most notable one is located in Emu Bay on Kangaroo Island, South Australia (see figure 3).

blog__inline--cambrian-creatures-diverse-3
Figure 3: Location of Emu Bay (arrow) on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Map credit: Department of Health, Australian Government.

The Emu Bay Shale has yielded many A. aff. canadensis fossils. These remains reveal well-preserved details of the compound eyes of the species. What Paterson, Edgecombe, and García-Bellido discovered among the Emu Bay shale are new fossils of the compound eyes of another Anomalocaris species, ‘Anomalocaris’ briggsi.

What surprised the three paleontologists was how distinct the compound eyes of each species appeared to beThe two compound eyes of A. aff. canadensis appear on top of two stalks (see figure 1) and each eye measures a little more than 4 centimeters across. Each compound eye consists of 24,000 lenses (see figure 4). The eyes of A. aff. canadensis are optimally designed for hunting prey in well-lit waters.

blog__inline--cambrian-creatures-diverse-4
Figure 4: Fossil of part of the compound eye of Anomalocaris aff. canadensis. The white bar at lower left= 5 millimeters. Image credit: Paterson, Edgecombe, and García-Bellido, Science Advances 6, id. eabc6721.

By comparison, the compound eyes of ‘A.’ briggsi are not on stalks. Each eye measures 7–9 millimeters across and consists of 13,000 lenses (see figure 5). The eyes of ‘A.’ briggsi are optimally designed for detecting plankton in dimly lit waters.

blog__inline--cambrian-creatures-diverse-5
Figure 5: Fossil of parts of the compound eye of ‘Anomalocaris’ briggsi. The white bar at lower left = 5 millimeters. Image credit: Paterson, Edgecombe, and García-Bellido, Science Advances 6, id. eabc6721.

Paleontologists have known for several decades that every basic eye design present among animals today was present among the Cambrian explosion animals. This new find establishes that within a basic eye design, Cambrian explosion animals display both diversity and specialization. Paterson, Edgecombe, and García-Bellido’s discovery provides more evidence for biologist Andrew Parker’s 2011 statement on the Cambrian explosion:

At no other time in Earth’s history has there been such a profusion, such an exuberance, and such an overwhelming diversity in so short time, within one million years.2

RTB scholars maintain that such diversity and specialization speak of a Creator’s purposeful design. Moreover, this discovery and the Cambrian event demonstrate more forcibly what evolutionary biologists Kevin Peterson, Michael Dietrich, and Mark McPeek wrote in a review paper on the Cambrian explosion in 2009:

Elucidating the materialistic basis of the Cambrian explosion has become more elusive, not less, the more we know about the event itself.3

Featured Image: Emu Bay Shale Formation
Credit: David Simpson

Endnotes

  1. John R. Paterson, Gregory D. Edgecombe, and Diego C. García-Bellido, “Disparate Compound Eyes of Cambrian Radiodonts Reveal Their Developmental Growth Mode and Diverse Visual Ecology,” Science Advances 6, no. 49 (December 2, 2020): id. eabc6721, doi:10.1126/sciadv.abc6721.
  2. Andrew R. Parker, “On the Origin of Optics,” Optics and Laser Technology 43, no. 2 (March 2011): 323, doi:10.1016/j.optlastec.2008.12.020.
  3. Kevin J. Peterson, Michael R. Dietrich, and Mark A. McPeek, “MicroRNAs and Metazoan Macroevolution: Insights into Canalization, Complexity, and the Cambrian Explosion,” BioEssays 31, no. 7 (July 2009): 737, doi:10.1002/bies.200900033.

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In part 1, we reviewed the Genesis 6 description of the Nephilim. Now we consider the Nephilim as portrayed in Numbers 13. These two accounts identify the extraordinary wickedness of the Nephilim, and suggest the reason these “men of renown” from Genesis 6 are nameless.

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SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS (SIG) WHO ARE STEALING OUR PERSONAL FREEDOMS

Trump is not playing when he implies that he won’t allow a transfer of power if he loses. Trump is setting up a ways to refuse transfer of power. What a snake who desires to be our dictator. If a person says that he is going for more power, then believe him.

The snake organization (SIG) who monitor private citizens and is compiling passive dossiers and active dossiers on every person on the planet. These special interest Groups (SIG) has been working to create a hyper-communistic government whereas the government virtually owns the minds of each citizen. They shall have the capability to mentally enslave any private citizen by implementing the active dossier of the targeted private citizen.

Isaiah 14:29; “Do not rejoice, all you Philistines, that the rod that struck you is broken; from the root of that snake will spring up a viper, its fruit will be a darting, venomous serpent.”

JEREMIAH 8:17; “See, I will send venomous snakes among you, vipers that cannot be charmed, and they will bite you,” declares the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 10:11; “If a snake bites before it is charmed, the charmer receives no fee.”

Romans 3:13;
“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

Matthew 23:33;
“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”

Matthew 12:34; “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Ephesians 6:12; “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Proverbs 12:5;
The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

Proverbs 6:14;
“who plots evil with deceit in his heart— he always stirs up conflict.” Trump is a king snake.

Psalms 120:2;
“Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.” Please vote Trump out of office, private citizens.

The SIG organization who not only collect sensitive, private knowledge about private citizens also engage in distributing certain information which targets a private citizen with the purpose of intimidating and molding the person’s mind. As these number of persons increase at the lower base of the economic scale the more powerful this SIG snake organization become. It is easy to influence the celebrities and the rich because they have a lot to loss. The political power is with the large number of persons of the middle class and down. This number is increasing rapidly.

The snake organization has lowered respect for the individual in order to pass their propaganda and evil assaults up on the civil rights of an individual. This has caused mass killings, workplace shootings, and school shootings. We are losing our free society to people working diligently to establish hypercommunism; whereas, the super government owns the virtual minds of the citizens. Many things that happens in the life of a person is by design and not by coincidence; we have low probable undesired incidences happening at more of a frequency. They can destroy a person’s life.

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Christianity’s Central Focus: Incarnation or Atonement?

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – OCTOBER 27, 2020MORESHARE

Christmas or Good Friday? Which of these days on the historic Christian calendar holds greater importance for Christians? Should the central focus of Christianity be on the incarnation (Jesus Christ as God coming in the flesh) or on the atonement (Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for human sin)?

I had a theological exchange recently on Facebook with a pastor over this question of incarnation or atonement. The pastor took a quote from the conclusion of my book God among Sages and critiqued it based on his contention that the atonement takes priority over the incarnation. Here’s my quote followed by our exchange:

When we compare Jesus Christ to all the other world religion leaders, he seems to be exactly what a reasonable person would expect God to be like if he were to make an appearance among us. In a biblical context, Jesus seems to be exactly what the gracious, loving, and just God of Israel would be like if he were to walk among us.1

Pastor’s Comment (I’ll paraphrase for the sake of brevity):

When you say that he [Jesus Christ] is “what a reasonable person would expect God to be like,” someone else might see a failed leader of a movement who was nailed to a cross and died. Martin Luther would have referred to someone holding this view as a “theologian of glory” as distinguished from a “theologian of the cross.” The latter sees God “in suffering and the cross.” Luther concluded that true theology and recognition of God are in the crucified Christ and he refers to Isaiah 45:15 to support the notion of God’s hiddenness: “Truly you are a God who has been hiding yourself, the God and Savior of Israel.”

My Response:

I have a chapter on Luther in my book Classic Christian Thinkers where I discuss his idea of “a theology of the cross.” I think it is powerful truth and a type of theodicy to the challenge of pain, suffering, and evil. But other equally great Christian theologians like Athanasius and Anselm have affirmed that we should see God through the broader vehicle of the incarnation (John 1:1, 14). So in Jesus’s life and ministry we also encounter him as the great healer, the wise teacher, the fulfiller of prophecy, and the divine Son of God/Son of Man, and ultimately the risen Lord of glory. So I think Luther had a unique and helpful theological perspective but it can be overstated. We should also factor in the emphasis of Athanasius and Anselm.

Pastor’s Response:

I see Jesus’s life and work as God incarnate from the standpoint of the cross, which includes the resurrection of the crucified one. During his ministry, Jesus was acclaimed by some as a prophet, a teacher, and the Messiah of Israel. But I don’t think anyone, including his disciples, on seeing Jesus during that time thought, “There’s YHWH.” In some respect, he remained hidden. It’s the event of the cross that brought about such recognition. John Chrysostom said that he knew Christ as king because he saw him crucified.

My Response:

Jesus is prophet, priest, and king. The transfiguration and his prerogatives of deity (forgiving sin, raising the dead, judging humanity, hearing and answering prayer, accepting worship) show his deity. Thomas calls him Lord and God and the Jewish religious leaders accuse him of blasphemy. I don’t think we can ignore the Eastern fathers’ broader view of the incarnation. We’re saved by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Additionally, Athanasius said: “Jesus, whom I know as my redeemer, cannot be less than God.”

Pastor’s Response:

I certainly have no disagreement with that statement of Athanasius. What prompted my initial comment was not any objection to the idea that Jesus is God incarnate, but to your statement that a “reasonable person” would have no difficulty in believing that a person dying a humiliating death on a cross is God. Is the word of the cross not a scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks? My point is not that Christianity is “unreasonable.” Different people can all think rationally and yet reach different conclusions about something if they started with different initial presuppositions.

My Response:

Jesus’s life and ministry give all the reasonable indications that he is indeed the Son of God. However, there is sometimes a difference between what is reasonable and what a person decides to believe. (I provide the full context of the quoted statement in my book.) Also, to refute the heresy of Arianism requires a robust view of God in the flesh so Athanasius emphasized the incarnation generally rather than focusing on the crucifixion or atonement.

A Final Thought

Let’s return to our initial question, Christmas or Good Friday? Should the central focus of Christianity be on the incarnation (Jesus Christ as God coming in the flesh) or on the atonement (Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for human sin)?

Well, the obvious answer is that both are critically important. We don’t want to engage in a theological false dichotomy. My view is that because Jesus Christ is God and man he can represent and reconcile God and man. So Christmas lays the foundation for Good Friday because the incarnation lays the foundation for the atonement.

I hope you enjoyed the spirited but respectful theological interaction. These kinds of discussions are not merely academic exercises. The question of who Jesus is and what he has done is of utmost importance and it carries implications for all of us.

Reflections: Your Turn

Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

For a discussion of the incarnation and the atonement, see Kenneth Richard Samples, Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), chapters 9 and 11.

Endnotes
  1. Kenneth Richard Samples, God among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2017),230.

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Standing against the Tide

Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Shermer, Victor J. Stenger. What do all these people have in common? They are all convinced that the God of the Bible does not exist and have each made strong, public cases in defense of that position. John Lennox, emeritus professor of mathematics at Oxford, had the opportunity to debate each of them, arguing for the truth of Christianity. The new movie, Against the Tide, articulates Lennox’s case and the subtitle, Finding God in an Age of Science, gives a hint as to what the “tide” refers to.

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Moon’s Early Magnetic Field Made Human Existence Possible

BY HUGH ROSS – NOVEMBER 16, 2020MORESHARE

Is it significant that Earth and the Moon shared a magnetic field about 4 billion years ago? Research shows that it is. Scientists have learned that a coupled magnetosphere (shared magnetic field) between Earth and the Moon helped shield our planet from the young Sun’s radiation that would have been catastrophic for life.

Textbooks used to describe the Moon as having no magnetic field now and never having had one of any consequence. However, the magnetometer delivered to the Moon by the Apollo 12 astronauts in 1969, revealed that the Moon does have a magnetic field, albeit a thousand times weaker than Earth’s present magnetic field. This lunar magnetic field is a leftover magnetic memory of the earliest lunar eras preserved in the Moon’s surface rocks. Laboratory analysis of lunar rocks brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts revealed that the Moon must have possessed a substantial magnetic field during the several hundred million years after its formation.

Below I provide scientific details about a previous analysis and a new discovery in the next two sections. If they seem too technical, feel free to skim and begin again at “Implications.”

Moon’s Early Magnetic and Dynamic History Laboratory analysis of the lunar rocks established that, 4.25–3.50 billion years ago, the Moon’s maximum magnetic field strength ranged from 20–100 microtesla (0.2–1.0 gauss). 1 From 3.50 to 3.20 billion years ago, the Moon’s maximum magnetic field strength dropped to about 5 microtesla (0.05 gauss). These measurements compare with Earth’s present maximum magnetic field strength of 65 microtesla (0.65 gauss).

For both Earth and the Moon the magnetic field strength varies according to where one is located on the surface. Earth’s present surface magnetic field strength ranges from 23 microtesla (0.23 gauss) in Paraguay to 65 microtesla (0.65 gauss) between Tasmania and Antarctica.

Previous to 3 billion years ago, the Moon was much closer to Earth. The Earth-Moon separation was only about 21 Earth radii (133,800 kilometers or 83,100 miles) 3.9 billion years ago and only about 18 Earth radii (114,700 kilometers or 71,300 miles) 4.0 billion years ago.2 (The present Earth-Moon separation is 384,400 kilometers or 239,000 miles.)

For the Moon to possess a strong magnetic field, there would need to be strong, enduring convection currents circulating in its liquid iron core. Internal heat remaining from the Moon formation event kept the Moon’s iron core liquid previous to 3.5 billion years ago. Scientists are convinced that the formation event was brought about by the collision-merger of Theia, a planet 11–15% of Earth’s present mass, with the proto-Earth.3 The Moon’s proximity to Earth previous to 3.5 billion years ago provided the required convection currents. Earth’s gravity on the Moon’s side nearest Earth would have been significantly stronger than Earth’s gravity on the Moon’s far side. The difference in the gravitational strengths caused the Moon to experience a substantial wobble. (A much smaller wobble persists to this day.) This wobbling stirred up the liquid iron in the lunar core, which produced the convection currents that generated the Moon’s strong magnetic field.

Previous to 3.5 billion years ago, the Moon exerted a substantially stronger gravitational pull on Earth’s near side than it did on Earth’s far side. The difference in gravitational pulls generated convection currents in Earth’s liquid iron core. Today, the lunar contribution to convection in Earth’s liquid iron core is several hundred times weaker. It has been replaced by convection driven by the transformation of Earth’s core from entirely liquid to an inner solid and an outer liquid core.

Neither Earth nor the Moon would have possessed a strong, enduring magnetic field previous to 3.5 billion years ago if it were not for their close proximity to one another. This proximity at that time also made possible the coupling of their magnetospheres with profound implications for life on Earth.

Earth-Moon System’s Magnetosphere History Now, a team of four planetary astronomers led by James Green has shed light on this early coupling of magnetic fields. The team used the known lunar magnetic field strengths and lunar distances from Earth previous to 3 billion years ago along with the known solar wind intensities at the time to determine the magnetospheres for both the Earth and Moon and how the two magnetospheres were coupled.4 Figures 1–4 show what they achieved.

Figure 1: Coupled Magnetospheres (showing magnetic field lines) for the Earth-Moon System 4 Billion Years Ago When the Moon Is between the Sun and Earth and the Magnetic Dipoles Are Aligned. Body sizes and separations are to scale. Image credit: adapted from James Green et al., eabc0865. 

Figure 2: Coupled Magnetospheres for the Earth-Moon System 4 Billion Years Ago When Earth Is between the Sun and the Moon and the Magnetic Dipoles Are Aligned. Image credit: adapted from James Green et al., eabc0865.

Figure 3: Coupled Magnetospheres for the Earth-Moon System 4 Billion Years Ago When the Moon Is between the Sun and Earth and the Magnetic Dipoles Are Antialigned. Image credit: adapted from James Green et al., eabc0865.

Figure 4: Coupled Magnetospheres for the Earth-Moon System 4 Billion Years Ago When Earth Is between the Sun and the Moon and the Magnetic Dipoles Are Antialigned. Image credit: adapted from James Green et al., eabc0865.

Implications of Earth-Moon System’s Coupled Magnetosphere History
Green’s team showed that regardless of the orientations of Earth’s and Moon’s magnets, the coupled magnetosphere of the Earth-Moon system previous to 4 billion years ago was sufficiently strong and stable to prevent the intense solar wind from sputtering away or seriously degrading either Earth’s atmosphere or its hydrosphere. It also was strong and stable enough to protect the microbes on Earth’s surface at that time from deadly solar radiation.

Then 3.2 billion years ago, the Moon’s magnetic field became too weak and the Moon too distant from Earth for the Moon’s magnetic field to provide any significant magnetospheric protection for Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, and life. However, by this time it was no longer necessary. The Sun’s flaring activity and intensity of x-ray and gamma-ray emission had decreased to levels where Earth’s magnetosphere, by itself, would be sufficient to protect Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, and life (see figure 5).

Figure 5: Sun’s Flaring Activity Level throughout Its History
The y-axis is logarithmic. The Sun’s flaring activity level was more than 100,000 times greater shortly after its formation than it is now. The Sun’s intensity of x-ray and gamma-ray emission is strongly correlated with the its flaring activity level. The blue dotted line indicates the present time.
Diagram credit: Hugh Ross 

I have written previously that our Moon is like no other known moon.5 A small rocky planet as close to its host star as Earth is to the Sun being orbited closely by a single enormous Moon requires the most extraordinarily fine-tuned collision event known to astronomers.

A planet 11–15% Earth’s present mass of a just-right composition and internal structure must merge with the proto-Earth at a just-right time in the solar system’s history in a just-right manner (just-right velocity, just-right merge angle, just-right rotation direction and rate, etc.) for a moon like our Moon to form. The required fine-tuned designs are so mind-boggling that one lunar-formation modeler, Tim Elliott, wrote in Nature that it was causing him and his colleagues “philosophical disquiet.”6 Now more layers of fine-tuned designs must be added—the early strong magnetic fields of both Earth and the Moon resulting from their proximity to one another and the coupled magnetosphere history of the Earth-Moon system.

Green and his colleagues close their paper by explaining that they have uncovered yet another habitability requirement. For a planet other than Earth to host anything more than a few microbial species for more than a brief time period it must host a moon virtually identical to ours. Such a planet-moon system must possess both a coupled dynamical history and a coupled magnetosphere history virtually identical to the Earth-Moon system. I would add that such a planet-moon system must orbit a star virtually identical to the Sun since stars more massive or less massive than the Sun pose an even greater risk to the planet’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, and life.7

The four planetary astronomers do not comment any further, but as an astronomer I would also observe the additional habitability requirements they uncovered demand such exceptional fine-tuning as to rule out any reasonable naturalistic explanation for how any planet in the universe could become a home for long-term life or for any conceivable multicellular life. The only reasonable explanation for such a planet and Earth-Moon system is that it is the product of a super-intelligent, supernatural Being who created a home where humans can exist, thrive, and enter into a personal relationship with the cosmic Creator.

Featured image: Moon and Earth
Image credit: Chinese National Space Administration, Xinhuanet

Endnotes

  1. Saied Mighani et al., “The End of the Lunar Dynamo,” Science Advances 6, no.1 (January 1, 2020): id. eaax0883, doi:10.1126/sciadv.aax0883.
  2. V. N. Zharkov, “On the History of the Lunar Orbit,” Solar System Research 34, no. 1 ( January 2000): 1.
  3. Hugh Ross, “Lunar Coincidences Lead to ‘Philosophical Disquiet,'” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog) March 3, 2014, https://reasons.org/explore/publications/tnrtb/read/tnrtb/2014/03/03/increasing-lunar-coincidences-lead-to-philosophical-disquiet; Hugh Ross, Improbable Planet (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2016), 48–60, https://shop.reasons.org/category/format/books/improbable-planet.
  4. James Green et al., “When the Moon Had a Magnetosphere,” Science Advances 6, no. 42 (October 14, 2020): id. eabc0865, doi:10.1126/sciadv.abc0865.
  5. Ross, “Lunar Coincidences”; Hugh Ross, “Update on Our Miraculous Moon,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog) August 31, 2020, https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2020/08/31/update-on-our-miraculous-moon; Hugh Ross, “Why the Moon Lost Its Magnetism and Earth Did Not,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog) January 27, 2020, https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2020/01/27/why-the-moon-lost-its-magnetism-and-earth-did-not; Ross, Improbable Planet, 48–60.
  6. Tim Elliott, “A Chip Off the Old Block,” in “Shadows Cast on the Moon’s Origin,” Nature 504 (December 5, 2013): 90, doi:10.1038/504090a.
  7. Hugh Ross, Weathering Climate Change (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2020), 117–26, https://shop.reasons.org/category/format/books/weathering-climate-change-a-fresh-approach.

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Hugh Ross

THE AUTHORHugh Ross

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Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach p… Read more about Hugh Ross.

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What Book Changed Your Life?

Have you ever read a book that was so dynamic that it changed the direction of your life? For most Christians that book would certainly be the Bible. According to historic Christianity, Scripture is the uniquely inspired Word of God. Thus, the Bible is the greatest of all great books.

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Playing in Forests Benefits Children

As parents know, taking young children to the forest for camping, hiking, and recreation is a great way to relax and create family memories. The mental benefits of such excursions help offset the stresses of city life. New research shows that the benefits to children may be more extensive than we realize. Playing in forests appears to confer health gains and enhanced learning.

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How Christianity Best Explains Human Equality

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that many jobs we might have taken for granted, such as supermarket cashiers or online delivery drivers, are both essential and of great value to the well-functioning of society. This observation reminds us that a person’s inherent value is not based on their salary or job title. It also highlights a deep intuition that all humans are equal, regardless of differences in talents and abilities. As a society we believe the best versions of our political and social institutions should recognize this equality, and so we favor democracy and the protection of fundamental rights. We oppose racism and sexism because they demean and treat other humans as less than. All humans are equal and their gender or the color of their skin does not affect their value.

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Biomedical Solutions to COVID-19 Highlight Human Immune System Design

BY FRANCISCO DELGADO – SEPTEMBER 25, 2020MORESHARE

By Francisco Delgado

As the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) continues to wreak havoc throughout the world, scientists have been working diligently to come up with a solution to this daunting pandemic. Hopes remain high for a vaccine, but a safe and effective one may not come soon enough to prevent more people from being infected.

In the meantime, researchers are looking furiously for alternative forms of treatment that can help those who have already been infected. We know so far that steroids and a new antiviral medication called Remdesivir can provide some relief by acting directly on the virus and preventing replication, but better medications are needed, and soon.

We can also find solutions by learning how the immune system protects us against viral infections. Novel biomedical solutions involve B cells: Convalescent plasma therapy and monoclonal antibodies. By mimicking the immune system’s operation, biomedical researchers are making significant progress toward this end, highlighting the elegant and sophisticated design of the immune system.

B Cells

When a virus or another microorganism enters the body, it is initially captured by sentinel cells in our immune system. These cells break the microorganism into many fragments and “present” these fragments to special cells called B cells. The B cells that “recognize” the fragments will be recruited in the fight against the microorganism. The cells will replicate themselves in high numbers and become factories that produce proteins called antibodies whose goal is to neutralize the microorganism and protect the body from further harm. The population of B cells is a clone of the original one that recognized the fragments presented by the sentinel cells and the antibodies are highly specific in targeting the particular infecting microorganism.

Convalescent Plasma Therapy

When a person is in the recovery stage from a viral infection, these B cells produce a significant amount of specific antibodies against the virus circulating in their blood. This principle is the basis for convalescent plasma therapy, in which the blood from a person who has recovered from a viral infection is harvested and the plasma or liquid portion of the blood that contains these antibodies is separated. This plasma is then transfused to a sick person with the hope that it contains enough antibodies to fight the virus and let the person recover more rapidly.

Even though the principles for convalescent plasma therapy are straightforward, the plasma may not have enough neutralizing antibodies to help the sick person who is receiving it. If this is the case, the benefit may be minimal. One of the solutions for this problem is to “pool” many donors and prepare a mixture of plasma from different donors in the hope that one may have enough neutralizing antibodies to fight the infection. Another solution is to screen the plasma for those neutralizing antibodies and use the plasma units that have a high number of antibodies against a pathogen.

Monoclonal Antibodies

In a second research effort, scientists have sought to take the guesswork out of the process of harvesting convalescent plasma by employing a new technique in the medical field called monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies try to mimic the way in which the B cells protect us against viral infections. These antibodies are proteins designed to attach to specific three-dimensional molecules. That interaction can result in the modification of a cell function or, in the case of infectious diseases, block a pathogen from entering a cell.

The use of monoclonal antibodies is relatively new. The first monoclonal antibody was licensed in 1986.1 Today there are over 75 FDA-licensed monoclonal antibodies that researchers use to treat cancer, chronic inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and to aid in transplantation. However, only a handful of them are available for the treatment of infectious diseases. One of the most recent successful such applications involved treatment of Ebola virus.2

There are several ways to manufacture monoclonal antibodies, but all are complex and expensive. Some of them use human tissue and some use transgenic mice.3 Once biomedical researchers obtain the desired antibody (or mixture of antibodies), it proceeds through clinical trials to evaluate its efficacy as a treatment for a disease. The process to produce an effective monoclonal antibody is long and can take months to years. Nevertheless, this solution has materialized by studying the human immune system in exquisite detail.

The COVID-19 Challenge

Coronaviruses have a very distinct protein on their surface that resembles a crown. It is this protein (SPIKE protein) that gives the virus its name (corona = crown). The interaction of this protein with the ACE2 protein on the surface of a human cell allows the virus to invade the cell and start its replication cycle. During the first months of the pandemic, researchers studied the SPIKE protein in great depth and they have now developed monoclonal antibodies against this protein.4 As of today, a few companies have moved to the testing phase for some of these antibodies in clinical trials. However, results may not be available until late 2020. Nevertheless, some people believe that researchers will produce monoclonal antibodies before we have a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.5

The Case for Design

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a massive hunt for solutions that can help decrease the virus’s global impact. The amount of resources and the number of people involved in the development of novel therapies is astounding.

It is remarkable to think that with all the accumulated knowledge in the world and with a massive amount of resources behind this research, it will take us many months to accomplish what the immune system can do in just a few days. The complexity and efficiency with which our bodies run this process speak loudly about the exquisite design of our immune system. As the psalmist writes, we truly are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Endnotes
  1. Justin K. H. Liu, “The History of Monoclonal Antibody Development—Progress, Remaining Challenges and Future Innovations,” Annals of Medicine and Surgery 3, no. 4 (December 2014): 113–16, .
  2. Sabue Mulangu et al., “A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Ebola Virus Disease Therapeutics,” New England Journal of Medicine 381 (December 12, 2019): 2293–2303,
    doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1910993.
  3. Laura M. Walker and Dennis R. Burton, “Passive Immunotherapy of Viral Infections: ‘Super Antibodies’ Enter the Fray,” Nature Reviews Immunology 18 (January 30, 2018): 297–308,
    doi:10.1038/nri.2017.148.
  4. Xiaolong Tian et al., “Potent Binding of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Spike Protein by a SARS Coronavirus-Specific Human Monoclonal Antibody,” Emerging Microbes and Infections, vol. 9 no. 1 (February 17, 2020): 382–85,
    doi:10.1080/22221751.2020.1729069.
  5. Jon Cohen, “Antibodies May Curb Pandemic before Vaccines,” Science 369, no. 6505 (August 14, 2020): 752–53, doi:10.1126/science.369.6505.752.

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Francisco Delgado

THE AUTHORFrancisco Delgado

BIOFrancisco Delgado was born in Mexico. He did his premedical studies at the University of Arizona and received his medical degree with honors from Universidad La Salle in Mexico City. After comple… Read more about Francisco Delgado.

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Are Religious Experiences Evidence for God?

Have you ever had a deep spiritual encounter? One that changed your life?

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Mantle Bottom Pancakes Benefit Surface Life

The biggest island in the United States also is the fastest growing. Thanks to a steadily rising hot plume from the lower mantle, Hawaii Island’s land area grows by an average of a little more than 40 acres per year. Though geophysicists have known about hot mantle plumes for several decades, only in the past few weeks have they gained an understanding of the source and mechanisms that produce hot plumes.

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More Treasures in Earth’s Attic

Did Earth hide some of its treasure on the Moon?

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John 3:20-21
New International VersionEveryone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.Read at Bible GatewayRead all of John 3
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The 3 Transcendentals: Truth, Goodness, & Beauty

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – FEBRUARY 2, 2021MORESHARE

What is real? What is right? What is lovely? Human beings ask these kinds of questions because we long for at least three things: truth, goodness, and beauty.

Prominent philosophers through the centuries have called these three cosmic values transcendentals. A transcendental refers to something that exists beyond the time-space-matter world. It is a universal reality that extends beyond our everyday sensory experiences and is thus considered nonphysical, immaterial, conceptual, or even spiritual. In philosophy, the transcendental relates to and seeks to describe the nature of reality or being. Therefore, one may think of these values as timeless universals and attributes of being.

In this introductory article I’ll briefly describe how the three transcendentals of truth, goodness, and beauty were viewed in the classical world. Then I’ll show how Christian civilization accommodated them as truths of general revelation and grounded them in the nature of the triune God.

Classical Civilization’s View of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty The classical world (or classical antiquity) consisted largely of the Greco-Roman society that was centered around the Mediterranean Sea and existed at its peak for roughly a millennium—from about 500 BC to 500 AD. The great cultures of Greece and Rome flourished and deeply influenced Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. The grand cities of this period included Athens, Rome, and even Jerusalem. Some of the dominant philosophies of this era included Platonism, Aristotelianism, and Stoicism.

For the famous Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle, the world had genuine meaning and purpose. The cosmic values of truth (that which defines reality), goodness (that which fulfills its purpose), and beauty (that which is lovely) were objective in nature and knowable by the noble seeker. Since human beings had the internal capacities of logos (reason), ethos (morality), and pathos (emotion), these internal capacities corresponded to the cosmic values and brought forth human fulfillment:

  • Logos corresponds to truth
  • Ethos corresponds to goodness
  • Pathos corresponds to beauty

Scholar Stephen R. Turley describes the classical view that human capacities match with and are fulfilled by these cosmic values:

Truth, goodness, and beauty are cosmic values that communicate divine meaning to the intellectual, moral, and aesthetic capacities of the human soul, which brings a balance in the soul, which, in turn, harmonizes the human person with divine meaning and purpose of the cosmos, which was considered the prerequisite to human flourishing.1

Christian Civilization’s View of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

By the fifth century AD paganism had been largely converted to Christianity. Thus Christian civilization would dominate the Western world and parts of the East for largely a millennium (about 500 to 1500). Christian philosophers and theologians appropriated the truth of these cosmic values as truths of general revelation but grounded them in the nature of the triune God. God doesn’t have truth, goodness, and beauty; rather, God is truth, goodness, and beauty. We can state it this way:

All truth is God’s truth.
All goodness is God’s goodness.
All beauty is God’s beauty.

When God created, he imbued the cosmos with truth, goodness, and beauty. Philosopher Peter Kreeft says: “Everything that exists is in some way true, good, and beautiful.”2And humans via the imago Dei (image of God) are able to know the truth, desire the good, and love the beautiful. The fall of humankind into sin disordered man’s natural capacities but through the redemption found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ humans are brought back into a right relationship with God and with these revealed values.

According to historic Christianity, humans (as creatures) have been made to know and worship the triune God. And our present longing for truth, goodness, and beauty exists because these values reflect the ultimate source, which is the maximally perfect God. When we pursue truth, goodness, and beauty in this life and in this world we are tracking the majesty of the Lord.

In future articles I will write about the theological, philosophical, and apologetics implications of the transcendentals of truth, goodness, and beauty.

Reflections: Your Turn

How have the transcendentals of truth, goodness, and beauty impacted your life? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

Endnotes

  1. I transcribed this quote from Steve Turley’s interview with Janet Mefferd: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4001416/Blog%20Photos/steveturley_151020_Sample.mp3.
  2. Peter Kreeft on Goodness, Truth, Beauty, and Boredom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH2X-bQdgxQ.

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New Telescope Observations Provide Cosmic Creation Confirmations

Astronomers’ quest to understand features of the early universe and how it originated includes making “maps” of leftover radiation from the cosmic creation event.

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Who Are the “Men of Renown” in Genesis 6? (Part 2)

In part 1, we reviewed the Genesis 6 description of the Nephilim. Now we consider the Nephilim as portrayed in Numbers 13. These two accounts identify the extraordinary wickedness of the Nephilim, and suggest the reason these “men of renown” from Genesis 6 are nameless.

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Neighboring Faiths: A Review of Winfried Corduan’s Timeless Book

Fifty years ago, if I wanted to carry on a serious dialogue and apologetic debate with Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, and Muslim scholars I probably needed to go overseas.

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Will Elon Musk’s Neuralink Make It Possible to Control Electronic Devices with Our Minds?

BY FAZALE RANA – JANUARY 27, 2021MORESHARE11

He needs little by way of introduction. By some accounts, he is the second richest man in the world. And through his companies Tesla and SpaceX, this entrepreneur’s vision is to change humanity’s future.

Elon Musk thinks that rocket technology will allow us to one day colonize Mars and beyond. The industrial designer also thinks that gasoline-powered automobiles will soon be likened to the steam engine, a relic of past technology, as renewable sources of energy power motorized vehicles.

Musk’s motivation to pursue future-shaping technologies is fueled by a hopeful optimism. In a speech to the National Governors Association in 2017, the innovator said, “The thing that drives me is that I want to be able to think about the future and feel good about that.”

In 2016, Musk helped found Neuralink, a company with the express goal of building a neural implant that can sync with the human brain, affording us the ability to control computers, electronic devices, and machines using only our thoughts. Neuralink’s neural implants are among the latest developments in brain-computer interface (BCI) technology.

Like many others working with BCIs, Musk and his colleagues at Neuralink have a humanitarian motivation for advancing this technology. They hope that their neural implants will soon make their way into clinical settings, providing the means to treat various debilitating diseases and injuries. They also see neural implants as representing the next generation of technological advances that provide more seamless interface between the human user and all the different electronic devices that are part of our lives. Who knows, if Neuralink is successful, maybe one day we will be able to use their implants to stream music directly into our brains.

The Threat of AI
But for Musk, there is a much greater imperative for developing BCI technologies than easing human suffering or developing futuristic technology. He is concerned that if we don’t, humanity’s existence will be in jeopardy. Musk believes that by 2025, AI (artificial intelligence) will surpass human intellectual capacity. When this happens, Musk fears that we will become like pets to the very AI systems we invented, running the risk of becoming subjects to AI overlords. In short, Musk sees AI as the greatest existential threat to humanity.

For Musk, the only way to stave off the threat from AI is to develop neural implants that augment our brain’s capacity for cognition and the storage and retrieval of information and memories. Interfacing our brains with computer hardware and software will give us superhuman intellectual capacities. It would even allow our brains to use machine-learning algorithms that will meld our minds with AI technology.

Ironically, in contrast to the optimism that fuels the work of SpaceX and Tesla, for Musk it is a pessimism about a potential future shaped by AI technology that ultimately undergirds Neuralink’s mission. Because of his vision for Neuralink’s technology, Musk has become a leading advocate for the transhumanist agenda—the idea that we should use science and technology to augment human beings beyond our natural biological limits.

It almost goes without saying that Neuralink’s pursuit generates a mixture of excitement and angst in all of us. As a Christian, it prompts me to ask a number of questions about advances in BCI technology.

  • Should we use this remarkable technology for biomedical purposes?
  • Should we use neural implants to create a more seamless interface between humans and electronic devices?
  • Should we use BCIs to enhance our cognitive capacity?
  • Should we embrace the future envisioned by Elon Musk?
  • Can technology save us from existential threats?
  • Can technology rescue each of us as individuals from our impending death?

But before I address these concerns, I think it would be helpful to discuss BCI technology in general, and, specifically, the design of Neuralink’s neural implants.

Brain-Computer Interfaces
BCIs are electronic devices that provide an interface between the electrical activities of the user’s brain and computer and machine hardware and software. Users learn to control computer software and hardware with BCIs, directing the activity of the devices with their thoughts. Through the use of sophisticated algorithms, BCIs help extract the user’s intent from the electrical activity in their brain, establishing a collaboration between the user and the BCI.

Invasive BCIs are the most advanced form of the technology. To install these devices, biomedical researchers implant BCIs directly into the brain. This approach allows biomedical researchers to stimulate and record the average electrical activity of thousands of neurons in specific regions of the brain. Unfortunately, this capability comes with a cost. The process of inserting electrodes into the brain can damage tissue, leading to scar formation. Electrodes implanted in the brain can also trigger an immune response. And, over time, glial cells in the brain migrate to the electrodes coating them. When this happens, it leads to loss of function.

However, Neuralink’s developing neural implants may overcome many of these problems.1

The Neuralink BCI
The key to Neuralink’s technology lies in the microelectrodes they have developed. Their microelectrodes appear to be safer, longer lasting, and more biocompatible than the electrodes currently used in BCIs. The current electrodes tend to be rigid and possess a fixed geometry. Because of their rigidity, when these electrodes are implanted in the brain they often cause damage, triggering an immune reaction and causing scarring in the brain. Their rigidity and fixed geometry also constrain their access to neuronal populations, reducing the resolution of BCIs.

Neuralink’s microelectrodes consist of a flexible gold filament coated with a biocompatible polyimide polymer. Neuralink technologists have used these microelectrodes to construct a multielectrode probe that consists of an array of either 48 or 96 threads, with each thread consisting of 32 individual microelectrodes.

The thin electrodes cause minimal brain tissue displacement when inserted into the brain. Their flexibility makes their insertion into the brain easier and less traumatic to the brain tissue.

To ensure high precision insertion of their microelectrode probes into the brain, Neuralink has also developed a microsurgical robot capable of inserting 6 threads per minute, allowing each thread to be inserted into the brain with exacting microscopic precision. This process permits the BCI to be implanted into specific brain regions, while avoiding vasculature (blood vessels). This precision process minimizes bleeding in the brain from damaged blood vessels.

The design of the Neuralink implant makes it possible to construct a BCI with 3,072 individual channels (for a 96-thread microelectrode array) that can digitize and amplify the electrical activity of neurons in specific brain regions. The full bandwidth of data is streamed using a single USB cable that can wirelessly transmit data to and from the brain using bluetooth technology.

In short, the Neuralink BCI dramatically improves upon existing BCI technology by: (1) causing less damage to the brain during implantation, (2) enhancing the working life of the BCI (from weeks and months to years), (3) increasing the resolution of the BCI, allowing the recording of the electrical activity of smaller neuron populations, and (4) offering the user greater mobility and comfort by eliminating cables that would “stick out” of their head.

Many experts believe that Neuralink’s BCI technology is a significant step forward and will move BCI technology that much closer to wide scale clinical use. As a Christian it is hard not to be excited about Neuralink’s BCI technology. These devices provide reasonable hope that in the near future the pain and suffering associated with neuromuscular disease, brain and spinal cord injuries, loss of limbs, etc. will be greatly alleviated.

Yet, the same experts question if Neuralink can achieve its grand vision for neural implants. It is one thing to generate simple movements by decoding brain activity. But it is another thing altogether to extract complex mental states from the electrical activity of neurons firing in different regions of the brain.

Neuralink’s Vision: Hope or Hype?
The chief complaint of Neuralink’s critics stems from their observation that Elon Musk and the Neuralink team seem to place an inordinate amount of attention on bioengineering and fail to give enough attention to neuroscience.

These skeptics point out that an engineering approach to neural implants incorrectly views the brain as nothing more than hardware, and our thoughts, emotions, and memories as data. And, while these analogies can be helpful, critics assert, it is important to remember that the brain isn’t hardware and memory isn’t a video playing in our minds. Science journalist Adam Rogers warns that “Neuralink might be headed to a metaphor-based failure.”2

As a case in point: no one knows what the neural substrate (foundation) for thoughts actually is. This understanding is critical for more advanced applications of neural implants. It is quite possible that when people think, the electrical activity of neurons is merely an epiphenomenon. Many neuroscientists think that neuronal activity is only an indication that the person is thinking. It cannot tell us what they are thinking, feeling, or remembering.

Likewise, when it comes to memory—though scientists are beginning to understand the biochemical processes and neurophysiology connected with memory formation, storage, and retrieval—we have no clue how these processes translate into actual memories.

Compounding these concerns is the nagging problem that we don’t know what consciousness is, how it is generated, or even if it is immaterial.

Until neuroscientists solve these problems, critics assert, Neuralink has little hope of success in accomplishing their grand design.

Still, having noted these concerns, it is possible that users could be trained to issue much more complex commands to computer systems with their thoughts, even if scientists and engineers lack basic understanding about the neurological basis for thoughts and memories. As it is now, users have to be trained to use current BCI technology to control computer software and prosthetic limbs. It is also possible that the use of sophisticated machine-learning software and AI algorithms could be coupled with BCI technology to enable neural implants to decode complex mental states. In effect, this tact appears to be the one that Musk and his Neuralink collaborators are taking with their engineering-first approach.

BCIs: A Source of Hope? A Source of Salvation?
Whether or not Elon Musk and Neuralink can deliver on their vision for neural implants, the fact remains that they have produced some pretty impressive technology. This accomplishment inspires hope in many people that one day soon we will be able to routinely use BCI technology for human enhancement purposes. Perhaps Neuralink’s brain implants will allow us, one day, to integrate brains with computer systems and, in doing so, enhance our mental capabilities beyond our natural biological limits. Perhaps in the near future we will be able to seamlessly download information to our brains or upload and retrieve information, along with our thoughts and memories, to the cloud or to share information and our ideas and emotions with other BCI users. BCI technology may even make it possible for each of us to control electronic devices in remote locations throughout the world, any place that the internet can reach. Maybe one day we will even be able to link our minds together with the minds of others to work as a collective.

And, the thinking goes, if these types of enhancements can be achieved, then maybe it will soon be possible for us to upload our conscience into a machine framework, attaining a type of digital immortality.

In other words, for a growing number of people, science and technology may become the means of our “salvation”—allowing us to overcome our biological limitations, going one step further by even conquering death. Humans may achieve a type of immortality—even if it is a digital one.

These are the kinds of goals that fuel the transhumanism movement.

Using science and technology to mitigate pain and suffering and to drive human progress is nothing new. (And it is something that Christians can stand behind.) But transhumanists desire more. They maintain that humanity has a moral obligation to use advances in biotechnology and bioengineering to take control of our own evolution with the ultimate objective of creating new and improved versions of human beings and, as a result, ushering in a posthuman future.

In effect, transhumanists desire to create a utopia of our own design through science and technology. Though clothed in the language of science and technology—make no mistake—a strong religious undercurrent buoys transhumanism. In this regard, for those practicing the religion of techno faith, transhumanism serves as the source of hope, purpose, and density for each individual and humanity at large.

Provocatively, while many transhumanists see our inherent biological flaws and limitations as the ultimate existential threat humans face, Musk views the AI technology that we will soon develop as the greatest danger that we face as a species. And yet, in a type of tautological irony, Musk’s proposed solution to this technological threat involves the use of technology to modify humans so that we can compete with the AI systems we will inevitably design. Remarkably, Musk wants us to use AI technology to power the neural implants with the express purpose of enhancing our cognitive abilities so that we remain safe from the threat of AI systems.

But can the transhumanist agenda deliver on its promises?

Can Elon Musk achieve his objective?

I am skeptical for a number of reasons that my coauthor Kenneth Samples and I detail in our book Humans 2.0One of these reasons is called the salvation paradox.

The Salvation Paradox
By pursuing Musk’s version of the transhumanist vision (with the hope that we will save ourselves from extinction by integrating our biology with computer systems fueled by AI technology), we may well usher in our own demise—the very thing that Musk seeks to avoid.

Like Musk, many transhumanists seek to save humanity by creating a posthuman world. But, in effect, if successful what we will wind up saving won’t be us. Philosopher Patrick Hopkins provides sobering analysis:

Suppose technology has changed me so much that I am no longer a member of the human species, no longer limited by any species-defining human cognitive characteristics. I have changed so much that the existence I now experience is incomprehensible to my former, limited, human self. As much as that language may sound wonderful, exciting, and liberating at first, thinking about it more in depth reveals that such a technological process offers far less to me than hoped…The end result will be some kind of successor entity to me, but it will not be me.3

So, for no other reason than the salvation paradox, the transhumanist agenda provides people with a false hope at best. In this sense, Musk’s version of transhumanism is a dangerous idea. In fact, transhumanism may well be one of the most dangerous ideas ever confronting humanity. For, if this agenda is accomplished in the way many transhumanists envision, it will likely accelerate our extinction. As theologian Brent Waters so aptly points out, “It [transhumanism] is counterfeit…because the cost of victory is the elimination of the very creatures that need to be saved. One has to destroy humankind to save human beings.”4

In short, Neuralink’s technology offers exciting biomedical applications that will mitigate much human pain and suffering. It might even open up the prospects of offering us more seamless interfacing with electronic devices. Both are worthwhile undertakings. But make no mistake, technology can never save us. It can never grant us eternal life. It should never be the source of our hope, purpose, and destiny.

Resources

Endnotes
  1. Elon Musk and Neuralink, “Integrated Brain-Machine Interface Platform with Thousands of Channels,” BioRxiv (August 2, 2020), doi:10.1101/703801.
  2. Adam Rogers, “Neuralink Is Impressive Tech, Wrapped in Musk Hype,” Wired, September 4, 2020, https://www.wired.com/story/neuralink-is-impressive-tech-wrapped-in-musk-hype/.
  3. Patrick D. Hopkins, “A Salvation Paradox for Transhumanism: Saving You versus Saving You,” in H± Transhumanism and Its Critics, ed. by Gregory R. Hansell and William Grassie (Philadelphia, PA: Metanexus Institute, 2011), 77–78.
  4. Brent Waters, “Whose Salvation? Which Eschatology?” in Transhumanism and Transcendence: Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enhancement, ed. by Ronald Cole-Turner (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011), 173.

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Fazale Rana

THE AUTHORFazale Rana

BIO

I watched helplessly as my father died a Muslim. Though he and I would argue about my conversion, I was unable to convince him of the truth of the Christian faith.

I became a Christian as a … Read more about Fazale Rana.

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New Telescope Observations Provide Cosmic Creation Confirmations

Astronomers’ quest to understand features of the early universe and how it originated includes making “maps” of leftover radiation from the cosmic creation event.

Continue Reading »

Who Are the “Men of Renown” in Genesis 6? (Part 2)

In part 1, we reviewed the Genesis 6 description of the Nephilim. Now we consider the Nephilim as portrayed in Numbers 13. These two accounts identify the extraordinary wickedness of the Nephilim, and suggest the reason these “men of renown” from Genesis 6 are nameless.

Continue Reading »

Neighboring Faiths: A Review of Winfried Corduan’s Timeless Book

Fifty years ago, if I wanted to carry on a serious dialogue and apologetic debate with Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, and Muslim scholars I probably needed to go overseas.

Continue Reading »https://player.vimeo.com/video/104664126

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The Incredible Ultramicro Building Blocks of Creation

BY GUEST WRITER – JANUARY 25, 2021MORESHARE12

By Don C. Olson

Who in America is not familiar with Legos? Lego is perhaps one of the most recognizable brands in the world. It was recently estimated that 400 million children and adults worldwide play with Lego pieces each year.1 Is the human fascination with such building blocks analogous to what science reveals about the universe’s creation?

One might think Legos are an American product, but the Lego company is actually Danish. Lego is a word created by contracting two Danish words, “leg godt,” that mean “play well.” My sons grew up with Legos and since their grandparents lived in Denmark, their Lego collection probably exceeded that of most families in America. The colorful, sturdy, simple yet versatile interlocking design of Lego pieces, as well as maintenance of exacting quality control in their manufacture, led to their international success. They are made with such high precision that a brick from today will snugly interlock with a brick from the 1960s. With just a few different bricks, an unlimited number of different objects can be constructed (e.g., six bricks of 2 × 4 studs can be combined in 915,103,765 ways2).So far, 400 billion of the iconic bricks have been produced and used to construct hundreds of millions of different objects as well as entire model towns.

Building Blocks of the Universe

But what about constructing a universe? Well, not quite—but what the physical universe has in common with Lego creations is that it is made up from only a handful of components called fundamental particles. A set of these created in the early universe includes the proton, neutron, and electron. Incredible quality control in their creation was essential to make the universe work. These fundamental particles were used, in turn, to build atoms. The lightest atom, or chemical element, hydrogen, has one proton in its nucleus with one electron orbiting it. Add a proton and neutron to the nucleus and an additional electron and we have helium. Adding additional protons, neutrons, and electrons forms the rest of the periodic table. Most of the chemical elements are forged in stars via nuclear reactions starting from hydrogen. The different elements have a huge range of useful properties. Also, different atoms can combine in chemical reactions to form an enormous variety of molecules with a vast diversity of properties. The key to this ability is the electron. Atoms form bonds with each other by sharing electrons—without electrons, there would be no chemistry. Most of the chemical compounds are found in planets, comets, asteroids, space rocks, and dust which we now know are pervasive throughout the universe and in life-forms found on Earth. Without these atoms and molecules, there would be no planets, no life, no advanced technological society. Without protons, neutrons, and electrons, there would be no atoms.

Quality Control in the Heavens

To build the universe the creation of protons, neutrons, and electrons had to meet five requirements. First, all three had to be created at the very beginning of the universe. Second, they had to be created in a flash of time. Third, there had to be an enormous number of them to build the one billion trillion stars estimated to be in the universe. Fourth, they had to have an incredible lifetime and robustness given that the universe is currently 13.8 billion years old. Fifth, they had to be crafted with incredible precision.

Current scientific understanding of the universe shows that all of these conditions were met. With regard to the first three requirements, according to the big bang model, essentially all of the protons and electrons that exist today were created, incredibly, within the first second of the bang (see the “Hadron epoch”). Scientists estimate that greater than 1080 (1 followed by 80 zeros) protons and electrons were created in this brief period of time. The number of neutrons has a more complex history. Initially, the n/p ratio was close to 1:1, but it rapidly shifted in the first second to 1:6 due to reactions with other subatomic particles. In addition, vast numbers of neutrons were later produced by nucleosynthesis reactions in stars.

Regarding the fourth requirement, the fact that we still have a vast universe crafted from these particles means they both have a lifetime at least greater than the age of the universe, 13.8 billion years. In fact, it’s astonishingly greater. Although no proton decay has ever been observed in experimental studies, one study3 put a minimum limit on its half-life of 1.67×1034 years (that’s 167 followed by 34 zeros).Physicists have also failed to observe even a single decaying electron. The results of one study put an estimate of the lifetime of an electron at greater than 1028 years4.

However, the half-life of a free neutron has been measured and is around 14 minutes. Whoops! Did creation mess up? Hardly. The vast majority of neutrons in the universe are not free. They are strongly bonded to protons by the nuclear strong force in atomic nuclei. In that state, their lifetime is essentially that of protons. In the beginning, the number of protons created was adequate to bind all of the neutrons needed to assemble all of the stable elements in the periodic table in sufficient abundance for building planets and sustaining complex life on earth. Thus, the lifetimes of the three particles are far beyond the estimated lifetime of the universe.

Finally, let’s look at the precision of properties of the particles. The precision of properties must be extremely high, otherwise the properties of atoms would vary as well as their chemistry, leading to an unstable universe. Certainly, life would be impossible if the chemistry of life varied unpredictably. Actually, the size and precision of the proton has been measured.5 The proton radius was been found to be 0.833 x 10-17 cm with a precision of 0.010 x 10-17 cm. The precision of radii of protons is likely even greater since this is the precision of the measurement. By comparison with human engineering, high quality ball bearings with a diameter of 0.020 cm can be machined with a precision in diameter of 8 x 10-6 cm. Thus, protons were created with a size precision at least 100 billion times better than modern technology can machine ball bearings. Furthermore, protons don’t wear out like ball bearings do, even after 13.8 billion years.

A Builder beyond Compare

This stunning feat of production, with incredible quality control of immense numbers of ultra-tiny particles from which the universe was built, is something out of this world. Nothing less than a transcendent supreme Creator and Engineer can account for this marvel.

Endnotes
  1. Svend Thaning, “The Math Professor Plays with Lego Bricks,” University of Copenhagen, The Faculty of Science and Life Sciences, December 10, 2013, science.ku.dk/presse/nyhedsarkiv/2013/leger-med-lego-klodser/.
  2. “Lego,” Wikipedia, last modified January 3, 2021, wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego.
  3. Borut Bajc et al., “Threshold Corrections to Dimension-Six Proton Decay Operators in Non-Minimal SUSY SU(5) GUTs,” Nuclear Physics B 910 (September 2016): 1, doi:10.1016/j.nuclphysb.2016.06.017.
  4. Agostini et al., “Test of Electric Charge Conservation with Borexino,”, Phys Review Letters 115 (December 2015): 231802, doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.231802.
  5. Bezginov et al., “A Measurement of the Atomic Hydrogen Lamb Shift and the Proton Charge Radius,” Science 365, no. 6457 (September 2019): 1007–12, doi:10.1126/science.aau7807.

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Guest Writer

THE AUTHORGuest Writer

BIO

Reasons to Believe is committed to bringing you sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries to support confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal… Read more about Guest Writer.

STILL CURIOUS? LEARN MORE…

New Telescope Observations Provide Cosmic Creation Confirmations

Astronomers’ quest to understand features of the early universe and how it originated includes making “maps” of leftover radiation from the cosmic creation event.

Continue Reading »

Who Are the “Men of Renown” in Genesis 6? (Part 2)

In part 1, we reviewed the Genesis 6 description of the Nephilim. Now we consider the Nephilim as portrayed in Numbers 13. These two accounts identify the extraordinary wickedness of the Nephilim, and suggest the reason these “men of renown” from Genesis 6 are nameless.

Continue Reading »

Neighboring Faiths: A Review of Winfried Corduan’s Timeless Book

Fifty years ago, if I wanted to carry on a serious dialogue and apologetic debate with Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, and Muslim scholars I probably needed to go overseas.

Continue Reading »https://player.vimeo.com/video/104664126

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The Minds Confrontation

 By Will Myers

There are two things that are so obvious until we don’t often acknowledge them. Our constant exposure to the creation and our self-awareness. They are intrinsic to our expectations.

The exposure of the mind to creation can be mathematically represented liken unto UspaceVspace=Q; with Uspace being the perfect righteousness of God (God’s perfect book of nature), and Vspace being the nexus of all things. The Q represent the resultants of UspaceVspace dynamics; the “IS” of all things that are made; the coming into being and going out of being of all things that exist. God IS.  Romans 1:20; “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Our life is usually thought of as our being; our spirit. Most theologians and life scientists believe that the spirit is our life and the soul being our mind, will, and emotions. The material (Matter) part of our being is our body, the flesh. In our conscientious, we hear voices from our flesh, soul, and spirit. With those inputs, our will makes all of the decisions for our life, giving the temporary states of our life from our confrontations that we have experienced. These experiences are giving sight through the veil into Truth. Our confrontations are developing a reality from the Truth of God Who is our Lord Jesus. In all things, we are conditioned to see the Truth that is in the Lord Jesus. Ephesians 5:20; “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”

The search for fulfillment in life leads us down many paths, and we are faced with many confrontations. So far, not finding fulfillment in life is winning. More people are unhappy than happy with their lives. 

Another confrontation is the battle for our minds; the snake organization of special interest groups (SIG) who collect private and sensitive information and distribute this information to the demise of the targeted individual. At the same time, targeting any selected private citizen and placing adversity into targeted person’s life. SIG is usually the cause of much of the unhappiness in our lives. Eventually, SIG is going to target everyone. The state of affairs would then be hypercommunism; whereas, the special interest groups (SIG) would have our minds virtually mapped on a computer aided by sophisticated surveillance of the targeted individual. Your sensitive information would then be distributed in order to mold you into SIG’s desires. 

In conclusion, one must treat others as you would like to be treated. In the biblical book of Luke 6:31; “ Do to others as you would have them do to you.” give affirmation. This greatly impedes the works of SIG and helps to preserve our free society and democracy. If one seek God in the name of Christ Jesus, then God shall preserve and medicate your mind with His glory.

Matthew 6:33; “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  

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