Category Archives: News

The production of carbon from lighter elements is fine-tuned to an amazing degree

Fine-tuning of the strong nuclear force and the fine structure constant
Fine-tuning of the strong nuclear force and the fine structure constant

If there is one thing that science fiction is good for, it’s for popularizing the phrase “carbon-based life”. Everyone has heard that carbon is essential for life. But do you know why carbon is so important? And did you know that the reaction that produced the carbon in our universe is actually fine-tuned, and therefore evidence for a Creator and Designer of the universe?

Hugh Ross has a new article up in Salvo magazine, which I found thanks to a post at Uncommon Descent.

Now he starts off with a discussion of how the mass density of the universe needed to be fine-tuned in order to produce elements heavier than hydrogen from the (only) hydrogen that was present at the creation event. I’ve talked about that reaction previously, but I won’t repeat that here. Nucleosynthesis is one of the most important chemical reactions in science, and something every Christian should know and understand well enough to explain it.

You can’t make complex embodied intelligent creatures such as ourselves out of only hydrogen and helium, but you can’t make a life permitting universe without some hydrogen and helium. For one thing, you can’t have liquid water without some hydrogen.

But the element carbon is the center hub of all of the molecules inside of us that allow for the storage and processing of information necessary for life.  And it turns out that the reaction that creates carbon from elements lighter than carbon is fine-tuned to an amazing degree.

Excerpt:

But cosmic mass density is not the only thing that must have been exquisitely fine-tuned for the universe to contain any carbon. The nuclear resonance (or energy) levels for helium, beryllium, carbon, and oxygen also had to be exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon to exist. Here’s how that happens.

Stars fuse carbon and oxygen from helium through a series of reactions known as the triple-alpha process, in which three helium nuclei are combined to make one carbon nucleus. In the first step in this process, two helium nuclei (with 2 protons each) fuse together to make beryllium (which has 4 protons). Next, a helium nucleus fuses with a beryllium nucleus to make carbon (which has 6 protons). Then, some carbon nuclei fuse with helium nuclei to make oxygen (which has 8 protons).

The only reason that the triple-alpha process produces any carbon or oxygen at all is because in the first step, the ground state energy level (i.e., the state of an atom when all of its electrons are at their lowest energy levels) of the beryllium-8 nucleus (containing 4 protons and 4 neutrons) almost exactly equals the ground state energy level of two helium-4 nuclei (2 protons and 2 neutrons each). In the second step, the ground state energy level of a beryllium-8 nucleus plus a helium-4 nucleus almost exactly equals the energy level of an excited state of a carbon-12 nucleus (6 protons and 6 neutrons). In the third step, the ground state energy level of a carbon-12 nucleus at 7.65 million electron volts is just slightly larger than the ground state energy level of an oxygen-16 nucleus (8 protons and 8 neutrons) at 7.12 million electron volts.1

If it were not for the near equivalences or resonances of the nuclear energy levels of two helium nuclei relative to a beryllium nucleus, and of a beryllium nucleus plus a helium nucleus relative to a carbon nucleus, the universe would contain very little or no carbon and very little or no elements heavier than carbon. Life would be impossible.

Furthermore, unless the difference in the nuclear energy levels between a carbon nucleus and an oxygen nucleus were precisely 0.53 million electron volts, the universe would contain either a lot of carbon and no oxygen or a lot of oxygen and no carbon. Either way, physical life would be impossible in the universe.

In the early 1950s, astronomer Fred Hoyle and physicist Willy Fowler were the first to understand how critical the relative nuclear energy levels of helium, beryllium, carbon, and oxygen were for making life possible in the universe. Commenting on the highly fine-tuned nature of these nuclear energy levels, Hoyle wrote in an article he published in Engineering & Science,

A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion beyond question.2

The article continues to explain that there is an additional problem of carbon fine-tuning related to habitability.

The carbon formation problem is one of the best examples of fine-tuning, and as you can see, it’s even admitted by atheists. It’s not the easiest one to explain (because resonance levels are not familiar in every day life), but it’s worth knowing about all three of the fine-tuning topics in the post.

Keep in mind that the more science has made progress, the more fine-tuning problems we have discovered. The trend is very bad if you are a naturalist. But very good if you are a theist. Evidence matters, and scientific evidence is the best kind of evidence.

Pro-life journalist gets police protection after receiving death threats and rape threats

Abortion Rights March
Abortion Rights March

Most pro-lifers tend to focus more on persuading a woman not to kill a child she’s already conceived. My view on abortion debating goes even further: I think that we should be persuading women not to have irresponsible sex in the first place. DC McAllister tweeted out something that I agree with, and now she’s getting death threats and rape threats. This is why I have an alias.

PJ Media explains:

Last week, PJ Media contributor and Fox News guest Denise McAllister sent out a powerful tweet denouncing the abortion movement. Little did she know, days later she would be in hiding, scared for her life. When she went public about receiving death and rape threats, pro-abortion Twitter users championed the threats against her.

“At the root of [abortion] hysteria is women’s unhinged desire for irresponsible sex. Sex is their god. Abortion is their sacrament,” McAllister tweeted. “It’s abhorrent as women have flung themselves from the heights of being the world’s civilizing force to the muck and mire of dehumanizing depravity.”

Now, I do think it’s important to be able to make a defense for the humanity of the unborn using reason and evidence. But I like what she tweeted here. We have to also make a case that a woman should view sex outside of marriage as a mistake. A mistake that is unlikely to work out in the long run.

Anyway, you can imagine what pro-abortionists did next… these are people who think you can kill unborn babies, after all. Not the best at moral virtue. Because “don’t kill the babies” is pretty much the most obvious moral rule there is.

More:

McAllister told PJ Media that she received death and rape threats, over multiple forms of private communication.

“They are threats outside of Twitter, stating they know where I live,” McAllister said. “Threats of rape and strangling. I spoke to the police. I am on home watch.”

“My children are very frightened,” she added.

On Sunday, she went public about the threats. “I am facing legit death & rape threats because I have dared to call out women who are hysterical about abortion and to challenge them to be responsible and not to elevate sex to the point that they’re willing to kill human life to avoid their responsibilities. How sick is that?” McAllister tweeted.

Some people responded with sympathy … to the person making the death and rape threats!

“People don’t react well to your extremism,” a user named Monika D. responded.

I took a look at her Twitter feed to see how things were going, and she had gone into hiding with her family, because of the rape threats, strangling threats, and death threats. Then, after she got police protection, she returned to social media. Police protection is not given unless the threat is credible.

Anyway, here’s what I want to say about this. I understand that women who have abortions are stressed and not in their right minds. But what about pro-abortion activists? When you meet someone who is pro-abortion, you’re talking to someone who is cannot answer the simplest moral questions correctly. There just is not factual, science-based case against the full humanity of the unborn. The justifications given for taking the life of an unborn child simply aren’t capable of making the act morally permissible.

Abortion is this generation’s slavery. It’s the exploitation of one class of weaker individuals by a class of stronger individuals, for the selfish gain of the stronger individuals. It really is nothing more than “I want to have sex with that hot guy, to boost my self-esteem”, followed by “I want to kill my baby so I can go on living for myself”. The point is that just like slavery, abortion is rationally indefensible to anyone capable of even basic moral reasoning. Everyone who is pro-abortion today would have own slaves. Everyone who is pro-life today would have been an abolitionist.

So, we shouldn’t expect people on the pro-abortion side of the aisle to be very concerned about doing what’s moral when it conflicts with their self-interest.

So, how far does this inability to think about right and wrong go?

Consider a few stories from the past summer:

Look. When you’re willing to kill an unborn child, simply because the child is the wrong race, or because the child is the wrong sex, because of how it impacts you, then anything is possible. Morality simply isn’t a concern for you. If you’re willing to do the worst thing, then you’re willing to do anything.

These are not good people, and it shows.

CDC reports: STD rates hit all-time high for the fourth straight year

Preliminary CDC numbers for STDs in 2017
Preliminary CDC numbers for STDs in 2017

I’ve been blogging about skyrocketing rates of sexually-transmitted-diseases for the last few years, and particularly how it impacts high risk groups, e.g. – men who have sex with men. The attitude that the culture is taking towards this is to not make any moral judgments, but someone is going to have to pay for all the health care that is required to “fix” this problem.

Fox News reports on the latest numbers:

Sexually-transmitted diseases continue to hit all-time highs in the U.S. with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting a 10 percent spike for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2017. The federal health agency said in a report released Tuesday that the numbers, which include nearly 2.3 million new cases of the aforementioned diseases, reflect a “steep, sustained increase” in STDs since 2013.

“We’re sliding backward,” Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, said. “It is evident the systems that identify, treat and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to near-breaking point.”

The data, which was presented at the 2018 STD Prevention Conference, found a 67 percent increase in gonorrhea diagnoses, which officials sounded alarm over due to the growing threat of untreatable strains.

The CDC gives us the numbers well enough, but like all government agencies, their attitude is not to tell the selfish adults to behave morally. They blame “stigma and discrimination” for the rise in STDs, and recommend more government as the solution. I.e. – they think that people who disapprove of sex outside of marriage are to blame for the skyrocketing rates of STDs. If we all stopped making the irresponsible, reckless people feel bad with our ignorant moral judgments, then the STD problem would immediately be solved.

Anyway, here is an article that talks about untreatable strains of gonorrhea in particular:

Scientists have found a “superbug” strain of gonorrhea in Japan that is resistant to all recommended antibiotics and say it could transform a once easily treatable infection into a global public health threat.

The new strain of the sexually transmitted disease — called H041 — cannot be killed by any currently recommended treatments for gonorrhea, leaving doctors with no other option than to try medicines so far untested against the disease.

[…]Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection and if left untreated can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women.

British scientists said last year that there was a real risk of gonorrhea becoming a superbug — a bacteria that has mutated and become resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics — after increasing reports of gonorrhea drug resistance emerged in Hong Kong, China, Australia and other parts of Asia.

Now, I know it’s tempting (for some people who like tolerance) to say that we should let people do whatever they want to do, and not judge them. After all, we can just take some money from the wealthy in order to solve these problems without making anyone feel bad. I hear this a lot from the the “don’t judge” crowd. But this time, it looks like no amount of money is going to solve this problem, and maybe the judgers were right to warn.

Syphilis is also a problem in certain high risk groups:

The sometimes-deadly disease syphilis is exploding in the United States, with most of the increase since 1995 among men who have sex with men (MSM), according to a new report from the Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control (CDC).

As recently as 2000, researchers believed the total elimination of syphilis was within reach. The recent dramatic increases in infections, coupled with the observation that syphilis closely tracks with other diseases like AIDS, have the medical and scientific community deeply concerned. The CDC report considers “the increase in syphilis among MSM is a major public health concern.”

According to the report, “During 2005-2013, the number of primary and secondary syphilis cases reported each year in the United States nearly doubled, from 8,724 to 16,663; the annual rate increased from 2.9 to 5.3 cases per 100,000 population.”

The report also says that “men contributed an increasing proportion of cases, accounting for 91.1% of all primary and secondary syphilis cases in 2013.” Most of the increases came from men who have sex with men, which were responsible for 77% of cases in 2009 but 83.9% in 2012, what the report calls “the vast majority of male… syphilis cases.”

HIV is also a problem for this same group:

A fact sheet released at the end of June by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that HIV rates, already at epidemic proportions, are continuing to climb steadily among men who have sex with men (MSM).

“Gay and bisexual men remain at the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” says Jonathan Mermin, the director of the CDC’s division of HIV/AIDS prevention.

The CDC notes that while homosexual men make up only a very small percentage of the male population (4%), MSM account for over three-quarters of all new HIV infections, and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of all new infections in 2010 (29,800).

“Men who have sex with men remain the group most heavily affected by HIV in the United States,” the fact sheet states.

We do have certain segments of the population who think that normal sexuality means having sex with dozens, hundreds and even thousands of partners. Just on the grounds of “they’re hot”. And naturally, these people are at higher risk for STDs.

Gosnell movie set to open in October 2018 in 100 theaters

Empty benches where the mainstream media was supposed to be during the trial
Empty benches where the mainstream media ought to be during the Gosnell trial

At the time of the Gosnell story, I remember that there was a nationwide, wall-to-wall media blackout. Every single mainstream media source was colluding with the others not to report on the story. It was impossible to get news for weeks, until finally the mainstream media’s pro-abortion, pro-infanticide bias became the story, and they had to start reporting on the trial.

For example, Life News reported that it took ABC News 56 days to begin covering the story, and they only did it because pro-lifers marched on their headquarters:

Fifty six days after the grisly trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell began, ABC broke its self-imposed blackout and finally offered coverage.

World News anchor Diane Sawyer belatedly told viewers that Gosnell was convicted on three counts of first degree murder against newborn babies, as well as on a slew of other charges. Terry Moran explained, “For two months, jurors heard often shocking, grisly testimony.” He described the details as a “house of horrors.” A house of horrors that ABC took 56 days to notice.

As the Media Research Center has aggressively documented, ABC went from March 18, 2013 (the trial’s start) through Monday afternoon with no coverage. Yet during the same time, the network devoted a staggering 187 minutes (or 70 segments) to other shocking criminal cases, such as Jodi Arias and Amanda Knox.

CNS News did a comparison between the Gosnell murder trial and the coverage of the gay NBA player:

In the eight days since NBA player Jason Collins announced he was gay, the news media have covered the story in 2,381 places. But in the first eight days of the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell and his “House of Horrors” abortion business, the media covered the story in 115 places, meaning that Collins’ “gay” news received more than 1,970.4% more news coverage.

Given the media blackout, I wanted to blog about the new movie about the Gosnell murders. Although the Gosnell movie was filmed in 2015, it’s only being released next month. It turns out that the same sort of people who covered up for Gosnell in the mainstream media also got the release of the movie delayed.

A National Review story by the director explains what the movie is about and why its release was delayed.

Excerpt:

The film has a gritty “just the facts, ma’am” style, is well acted, with powerful, moving performances by Dean Cain, Sarah Jane Morris, and Michael Beach, among many others, and moves like a bullet train. So why has it taken three years to be released?

I realize, looking back, that I was quite naïve about how this film would be received. I truly believed that if we did it the right way, even the so-called Hollywood Left would appreciate our fairness in telling the story, see its value, and, furthermore, share our goals in getting this important story before the public.

Sadly, I was wrong. As I said, this town runs on fear — the fear not only of failure but, more insidiously, of being shunned because of your political opinions. […]More than once, I was asked questions like “Are you crazy?” or “Are you sure you want to do this?”

[…]Fear is destructive and dangerous. Fear is what allowed Gosnell to commit multiple murders. The powers-that-be were afraid to allow inspections of his clinic, even after multiple complaints, for fear of being called racist or “anti-woman.”

I was looking for some background on the two people behind the Gosnell movie, and I found an article by Terrell Clemmons over on the Salvo magazine web site. It turns out that the filmmakers were neutral on abortion before they looked into investigation of the Gosnell abortion clinic.

Excerpt:

Phelim McAleer was in Pennsylvania in early 2013 doing a series of screenings of his film FrackNation. As he often did when travelling, he checked the local paper for interesting court cases underway, and a case concerning a doctor in Philadelphia caught his attention. And so it happened that on one of his days off, he walked into the courtroom where abortionist Kermit Gosnell was standing trial for a slew of charges including (but not limited to) murder, infanticide, and multiple violations of state abortion law.

Phelim had seen a lot in his twenty-five years in journalism (he started his career in a part of Northern Ireland known as “Bandit Country”), but the evidence he saw that day in Room 304 of the Philadelphia Justice Center surpassed anything he’d previously encountered. The photos displayed up on a big screen—pictures of well-formed babies, some of whose necks had been snipped with scissors after live birth—were more horrific than anything he’d ever seen. All of this was shocking in itself, but what was even more astounding to him as a journalist was that the press gallery behind him was completely empty. There were no national journalists covering this case. Not one. How could this be?

He returned home to Los Angeles and told his journalist partner and wife, Ann McElhinney, that he had found the next project they would work on. At first, Ann wanted nothing to do with it. This subject was foreign territory for them, way outside their wheelhouse. Besides, both she and Phelim had always considered themselves neutral on abortion. Why venture into such a hornet’s nest?

Phelim ordered the court transcripts anyway, and Ann read them. Afterward, she agreed, Yes, they would make this film. It was more than an assent or a shared inclination. It was a conviction. Here was information of significant public interest, and it was shameful that no one was putting it out. A film about this had to be made; therefore, they would make it.

The film will open in 100 theaters, and when I looked, I saw that it was actually going to be a drive for me to get to the closest one.

It’s not surprising to me that the atheists in the mainstream media would seek to suppress the Gosnell story by not covering it. When you jettison objective morality from your worldview, you tend to fall back on a definition of morality that is more like “peer approval”. The mainstream media probably just thinks, if fewer people know the truth about this story, then they’ll still think I’m a good person for being pro-abortion. They lied and covered-up because their personal sense of moral goodness was at stake.

Brown University suppresses new study showing transgenderism is not genetic

What's the best explanation of this data? Genetics or cultural pressure?
What’s the best explanation of this transgenderism data? Genetics or cultural pressure?

Are people on the secular left interested in conforming their beliefs to what scientists discover about the universe? Do they greet the progress of science with an open heart and an open mind? Well, we already know that secular leftists are hostile to what science has shown about the origin of the universe, and the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life. But what about moral issues like transgenderism?

Consider this study, which was reported by Science Daily:

This month, a Brown University researcher published the first study to empirically describe teens and young adults who did not have symptoms of gender dysphoria during childhood but who were observed by their parents to rapidly develop gender dysphoria symptoms over days, weeks or months during or after puberty.

[…]The study was published on Aug. 16 in PLOS ONE.

Littman surveyed more than 250 parents of children who suddenly developed gender dysphoria symptoms during or after puberty.

The pattern of clusters of teens in friend groups becoming transgender-identified, the group dynamics of these friend groups and the types of advice viewed online led her to the hypothesis that friends and online sources could spread certain beliefs. Examples include the belief that non-specific symptoms such as feeling uncomfortable in their own skins or feeling like they don’t fit in — which could be a part of normal puberty or associated with trauma — should be perceived as gender dysphoria; the belief that the only path to happiness is transition; and the belief that anyone who disagrees with the teen is transphobic and should be cut out of their life.

“Of the parents who provided information about their child’s friendship group, about a third responded that more than half of the kids in the friendship group became transgender-identified,” Littman said. “A group with 50 percent of its members becoming transgender-identified represents a rate that is more 70 times the expected prevalence for young adults.”

Additionally, 62 percent of parents reported their teen or young adult had one or more diagnoses of a psychiatric disorder or neurodevelopmental disability before the onset of gender dysphoria. Forty-eight percent reported that their child had experienced a traumatic or stressful event prior to the onset of their gender dysphoria, including being bullied, sexually assaulted or having their parents get divorced.

This suggests that the drive to transition expressed by these teens and young adults could be a harmful coping mechanism like drugs, alcohol or cutting, Littman said. With harmful coping mechanisms, certain behaviors are used to avoid feeling negative emotions in the short term, but they do not solve the underlying problems and they often cause additional problems, she noted.

Well, this seems like a OK study, and, as a Christian, my gut response to scientific data is to agree with it, and adjust my beliefs accordingly. I am a little concerned that her data is coming from self-selected individuals who are self-reporting, but it can be hard to find transgender test subjects.

This article at The Federalist had a few examples to illustrate the conclusion of the study:

The study includes other eye-opening information, such as case studies of several children’s stories.

  • “A 14-year-old natal female and three of her natal female friends were taking group lessons together with a very popular coach. The coach came out as transgender, and, within one year, all four students announced they were also transgender.”

  • “A 14-year-old natal female and three of her natal female friends are part of a larger friend group that spends much of their time talking about gender and sexuality. The three natal female friends all announced they were trans boys and chose similar masculine names. After spending time with these three friends, the 14-year-old natal female announced that she was also a trans boy.”

I thought this quote from that article was interesting as well, given the culture’s obsession with “bullying”, which is a nebulous term that can mean actual bullying, or mere disagreement.

The study also may indicate that school “anti-bullying” programs typically created by LGBT activist organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign may help accelerate children identifying as transgender by pushing peers and authority figures to profusely express their support. It also may suggest that Marxist-style identity politics that brand heterosexuality as oppressive increase gender dysphoria.

Coming out as transgender means instant fame and popularity, because you’re a victim, and everyone has to be nice to you… or else:

“Great increase in popularity among the student body at large. Being trans is a gold star in the eyes of other teens,” wrote one parent on the study response form. Another wrote, “not so much ‘popularity’ increasing as ‘status’ … also she became untouchable in terms of bullying in school as teachers who ignored homophobic bullying …are now all at pains to be hot on the heels of any trans bullying.”

Very interesting. But the secular left had a completely different reaction to the study.

The Daily Wire reports:

In any case, this Brown University study could not stand — any effort to actually research the environmental component of transgenderism is met with raucous calls for censorship. And Brown immediately caved. The University pulled down a news article about the study. Realistically, Brown and the journal in which the original comment was published, PLOS ONE, turned against the study because it offended politically correct sensibilities about transgenderism.

Here’s what the spokeswoman for Brown University had to say about pulling the study:

Independent of the University’s removal of the article because of concerns about research methodology, the School of Public Health has heard from Brown community members expressing concerns that the conclusions of the study could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community.

[…]There is an added obligation for vigilance in research design and analysis any time there are implications for the health of the communities at the center of research and study.

So much for the spirit of free inquiry and academic debate on the Brown University campus. The progress of science has been overridden by the hysterical reactions of the secular left.

The future is Canada

In Canada – a country that does not have free speech protected by law – it’s actually a criminal offense to make transgender people feel bad by disagreeing with them.

A Canadian human rights lawyer explained what the law is in Canada:

Brown, who appeared with Peterson before the Senate last May to argue against Bill C-16, said a “small cadre of trans activists” have “made a successful revolution” by instantiating a social construct into law.

Denying gender theory under Bill C-16 could result in jail or bankruptcy, he said.

A human rights tribunal can levy fines, or assign a “public interest remedy,” such as sensitivity training, and non-compliance would be considered contempt of court, said Brown.

[…]He advised people watch the case of Barry Neufeld, a British Columbia school trustee facing a human rights complaint for “transphobia” for criticizing the province’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI 123) curriculum.

If you want to know what’s coming to America in ten years, just look north to Canada. Right now, we are having gay activists sue Christian business owners who refuse to take part in same-sex weddings. Canada was doing that in the late 90s and 2000s. Now Canada is arresting people, bankrupting them, and putting them in jail, for using the wrong pronouns when referring to transgender people. That shows you where the secular left in America would like to take our country. Are you comfortable with having your free speech limited like this?