Category Archives: For the Benefit of Mankind

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Close mind

Some people are so—

And I don’t know what the right answer is for each person: fearful, angry, arrogant, prideful, selfish, wrathful, whatever—

that as long as there is some infinitesimal escape, some nano-fractional percentage that allows them escape the material certainty of a higher power…

They will grab it and cower behind it.

These people commit to a profoundly irrational conspiracy-within-themselves to avoid, at all costs, the Father.

They have that right.

And their choice, strangled as it is, will be honored.

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When Did Modern Human Brains—and the Image of God—Appear?

When I was a kid, I enjoyed reading Ripley’s Believe It or Not! I couldn’t get enough of the bizarre facts described in the pages of this comic.

I was especially drawn to the panels depicting people who had oddly shaped heads. I found it fascinating to learn about people whose skulls were purposely forced into unnatural shapes by a practice known as intentional cranial deformation.

For the most part, this practice is a thing of the past. It is rarely performed today (though there are still a few people groups who carry out this procedure). But for much of human history, cultures all over the world have artificially deformed people’s crania (often for reasons yet to be fully understood). They accomplished this feat by binding the heads of infants, which distorts the normal growth of the skull. Through this practice, the shape of the human head can be readily altered to be abnormally flat, elongated, rounded, or conical.

For physical anthropologists, the normal shape of the modern human skull is just as bizarre as the conical-shaped skulls found among the remains of the Nazca culture of Peru. Compared to other hominins (such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus), modern humans have oddly shaped skulls. The skull shape of the hominins was elongated along the anterior-posterior axis. But the skull shape of modern humans is globular, with bulging and enlarged parietal and cerebral areas. The modern human skull also has another distinctive feature: the face is retracted and relatively small.

Anthropologists believe that the difference in skull shape (and hence, brain shape) has profound significance and helps explain the advanced cognitive abilities of modern humans. The parietal lobe of the brain is responsible for:

  • Perception of stimuli
  • Sensorimotor transformation (which plays a role in planning)
  • Visuospatial integration (which provides hand-eye coordination needed for throwing spears and making art)
  • Imagery
  • Self-awareness
  • Working and long-term memory

Human beings seem to uniquely possess these capabilities. They make us exceptional compared to other hominins. Thus, for paleoanthropologists, two key questions are: when and how did the globular human skull appear?

Recently, a team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, addressed these questions. And their answers add evidence for human exceptionalism while unwittingly providing support for the RTB human origins model.1

The Appearance of the Modern Human Brain

To characterize the mode and tempo for the origin of the unusual morphology (shape) of the modern human skull, the German researchers generated and analyzed the CT scans of 20 fossil specimens representing three windows of time: (1) 300,000 to 200,000 years ago; (2) 130,000 to 100,000 years ago; and (3) 35,000 to 10,000 years ago. They also included 89 cranially diverse skulls from present-day modern humans, 8 Neanderthal skulls, and 8 from Homo erectus in their analysis.

The first group consisted of three specimens: (1) Jebel Irhoud 1 (dating to 315,000 years in age); (2) Jebel Irhoud 2 (also dating to 315,000 years in age); and (3) Omo Kibish (dating to 195,000 years in age). The specimens that comprise this group are variously referred to as near anatomically modern humans or archaic Homo sapiens.

The second group consisted of four specimens: (1) LH 18 (dating to 120,000 years in age); (2) Skhul (dating to 115,000 years in age); (3) Qafzeh 6; and (4) Qafzeh 9 (both dating to about 115,000 years in age. This group consists of specimens typically considered to be anatomically modern humans. The third group consisted of thirteen specimens that are all considered to be anatomically and behaviorally modern humans.

Researchers discovered that the group one specimens had facial features like that of modern humans. They also had brain sizes that were similar to Neanderthals and modern humans. But their endocranial shape was unlike that of modern humans and appeared to be intermediate between H. erectus and Neanderthals.

On the other hand, the specimens from group two displayed endocranial shapes that clustered with the group three specimens and the present-day samples. In short, modern human skull morphology (and brain shape) appeared between 130,000 to 100,000 years ago.

Confluence of Evidence Locates Humanity’s Origin

This result aligns with several recent archaeological finds that place the origin of symbolism in the same window of time represented by the group two specimens. (See the Resources section for articles detailing some of these finds.) Symbolism—the capacity to represent the world and abstract ideas with symbols—appears to be an ability that is unique to modern humans and is most likely a manifestation of the modern human brain shape, specifically an enlarged parietal lobe.

Likewise, this result coheres with the most recent dates for mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam around 120,000 to 150,000 years ago. (Again, see the Resources section for articles detailing some of these finds.) In other words, the confluence of evidence (anatomical, behavioral, and genetic) pinpoints the origin of modern humans (us) between 150,000 to 100,000 years ago, with the appearance of modern human anatomy coinciding with the appearance of modern human behavior.

What Does This Finding Mean for the RTB Human Origins Model?

To be clear, the researchers carrying out this work interpret their results within the confines of the evolutionary framework. Therefore, they conclude that the globular skulls—characteristic of modern humans—evolved recently, only after the modern human facial structure had already appeared in archaic Homo sapiens around 300,000 years ago. They also conclude that the globular skull of modern humans had fully emerged by the time humans began to migrate around the world (around 40,000 to 50,000 years ago).

Yet, the fossil evidence doesn’t show the gradual emergence of skull globularity. Instead, modern human specimens form a distinct cluster isolated from the distinct clusters formed by H. erectus, Neanderthals, and archaic H. sapiens. There are no intermediate globular specimens between archaic and modern humans, as would be expected if this trait evolved. Alternatively, the distinct clusters are exactly as expected if modern humans were created.

It appears that the globularity of our skull distinguishes modern humans from H. erectus, Neanderthals, and archaic Homo sapiens (near anatomically modern humans). This globularity of the modern human skull has implications for when modern human behavior and advanced cognitive abilities emerged.

For this reason, I see this work as offering support for the RTB human origins creation model (and, consequently, the biblical account of human origins and the biblical conception of human nature). RTB’s model (1) views human beings as cognitively superior and distinct from other hominins, and (2) posits that human beings uniquely possess a quality called the image of God that I believe manifests as human exceptionalism.

This work supports both predictions by highlighting the uniqueness and exceptional qualities of modern humans compared to H. erectus, Neanderthals, and archaic H. sapiens, calling specific attention to our unusual skull and brain morphology. As noted, anthropologists believe that this unusual brain morphology supports our advanced cognitive capabilities—abilities that I believe reflect the image of God. Because archaic H. sapiens, Neanderthals, and H. erectus did not possess this brain morphology, it makes it unlikely that these creatures had the sophisticated cognitive capacity displayed by modern humans.

In light of RTB’s model, it is gratifying to learn that the origin of anatomically modern humans coincides with the origin of modern human behavior.

Believe it or not, our oddly shaped head is part of the scientific case that can be made for the image of God.

Original article: When Did Modern Human Brains—and the Image of God—Appear?

Discovery of Missing Atomic Matter Boosts Cosmic Creation Model

During my graduate school days at the University of Toronto I had the privilege of taking a short course from Princeton University astronomer and cosmologist Jeremiah Ostriker. In that course Ostriker spoke about the missing mass of the universe. The mass he was referring to was not the dark matter (aka cold dark matter; exotic dark matter) that is comprised of particles that do not interact or that interact very weakly with photons. Rather, he was concerned about atomic matter, matter comprised of protons, neutrons, and electrons that has the property of interacting strongly with photons. Detection of such matter carries significant implications for the reliability of big bang models for the beginning of the universe.

Electrons contribute a trivial amount to the total mass of the universe’s atomic matter. Hence, astronomers refer to the missing atomic matter problem as the “missing baryons” problem, where baryons refer to both protons and neutrons (essentially, all matter that we experience in everyday life).

Back in the 1970s the missing baryons was a big problem because the big bang creation model predicted that there should be many more baryons in the universe—nearly ten times as many—as what astronomers at that time had inventoried. This dilemma led to lingering doubts about the validity of the biblically predicted big bang model1 for the universe.

In the 1970s Ostriker stated that many of these missing baryons likely lurked in the hot diffuse gas in the otherwise empty voids between galaxies. He also pointed out that these baryons would be extremely difficult to detect.

Absorption Spectra Detection of the Missing Baryons

In 1999 Ostriker and his Princeton colleague Renyue Cen published computer simulations they had run on gas movements in and between galaxies.2 They concluded that hot gas accumulates along filaments between galaxies. These filaments, they calculated, likely contained the missing baryons of the universe. They determined that this hot gas would be detectable in the absorption spectra (see figure 1) of quasars at X-ray wavelengths by the new generation of X-ray telescopes that were planned or scheduled for launch into Earth orbit.

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Figure 1: Absorption Spectrum for Hydrogen. Hydrogen gas between the light source and the observer absorbs light at the spectral lines of hydrogen. The absorption lines from right to left are Hα, Hβ, Hγ, and HδImage credit: Hugh Ross

The gas between us and a bright quasar or galaxy will absorb some of the light of the quasar or galaxy if that gas is not too hot. Typically, astronomers determine the mass of the gas by measuring the absorption spectra of the two most abundant elements comprising intergalactic gas, namely, hydrogen and helium. (Hydrogen and helium make up 98–99 percent of the baryons in intergalactic gas.) This option, however, is out. The intergalactic gas is so extremely hot that it completely strips away all the electrons normally attached to hydrogen and helium nuclei. The resulting plasma of free electrons and hydrogen and helium nuclei do not absorb any light.

After hydrogen and helium, oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe (see figure 2).3 Oxygen atoms have eight electrons compared to two for helium and one for hydrogen. It takes a lot more heat to strip away all electrons of oxygen than it does for helium or hydrogen. Ostriker and Cen calculated that the heat of intergalactic gas would be able to strip away only five, six, or seven of oxygen’s eight electrons. Therefore, the remaining electrons would produce an absorption spectrum that would permit a determination of the mass of the intergalactic mass.

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Figure 2: Relative Mass Fractions of the Elements in the Universe. Hydrogen and helium comprise more than 98 percent of the universe’s element abundance. Image credit: Hugh Ross

Not until this year did astronomers gain the necessary instrumentation and observing time to detect (more than marginally) the oxygen absorption spectra of hot intergalactic gas. A team of 21 astronomers led by Fabrizio Nicastro performed a very long duration observation on the brightest known X-ray blazer, IES 1553+1334, with the X-ray multi-mirror Newton telescope(see figure 3).5 They detected the absorption spectrum of OVII, oxygen atoms with six of their eight electrons stripped away by the hot intergalactic gas. Thanks to their long observing time, Nicastro’s team achieved a high enough signal-to-noise ratio in their absorption spectra measurements to conclude that they had found all of the missing baryons.

The conclusion by Nicastro’s team, however, was based on a single object. The possibility remained that the density of the hot intergalactic medium might vary slightly from location to location. To be certain that they had found all the missing baryons, astronomers needed confirmation based on at least one other bright extragalactic source and preferably accomplished with a different X-ray telescope.

In a recent submission to the Astrophysical Journal, a team of six astronomers led by Sanskriti Das reported that they had achieved OVII absorption line measurements on the spiral galaxy NGC 3221 (see figure 4) using the Suzaku X-ray telescope (see figure 5).6 Though the signal-to-noise ratio of their measurements was not as good as that realized by Nicastro’s team, the Das team’s measurements were consistent with the conclusion that they found all the missing baryons.

Sunyaev-Zel’dovitch Effect on Detection of the Missing Baryons

At the same time that Nicastro’s and Das’s teams of astronomers were finding the universe’s missing baryons through the X-ray absorption spectra method, two other teams of astronomers found the missing baryons using a completely different method. They looked for subtle distortions in the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation, the radiation left over from the cosmic creation event.

As the radiation from the very early history of the universe streams across the cosmos, it can be slightly distorted by the regions of gas that it passes through. The electrons in the hot intergalactic gas will interact with photons from the cosmic microwave background radiation in a manner that imparts a little extra energy to those photons. Thus, astronomers should be able to see subtle distortions in their maps of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

The Planck spacecraft yielded the most detailed map of the cosmic microwave background radiation (see figure 6). However, for even this most detailed map, the distortions from the electrons in the hot intergalactic gas were too subtle to see.

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Figure 6: Planck Spacecraft Map of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. The colors indicate tiny temperature fluctuations, with red regions warmer and blue regions colder by about 0.0002 degrees. Image credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration

While the Planck spacecraft was not able to detect the effect of intergalactic hot gas existing between any single pair of galaxies, astronomers found a way to enhance the signal by stacking images of different galaxy pairs on top of one another. First, they searched published galaxy catalogs and selected pairs of galaxies that were massive enough and the appropriate distance apart from one another that the astronomers expected there would be a dense web of hot intergalactic gas between them. Second, they went to the Planck map of the cosmic microwave background radiation and precisely identified the location for each galaxy pair. Third, they used digital scissors to clip the region for each galaxy pair from the Planck map. Fourth, they stacked all the clipped regions on top of one another so that all the pairs of galaxies were aligned in the same exact position. Fifth, they subtracted out the light from all the gas associated with the galaxy pairs from the stacked images, leaving just the signal from the intervening intergalactic gas. What had not been possible to detect based on a single pair of galaxies became visible when integrated over many, many pairs of galaxies.

In another research effort, a team of four astronomers led by University of Edinburgh’s Anna de Graaff stacked Planck map image pieces of a million pairs of galaxies on top of one another.7 The remaining signal after the subtraction of the signal from all the gas associated with the one million galaxy pairs was strong enough to enable de Graaff’s team to determine the mass of the hot intergalactic gas. That mass added up to the missing baryons.

Finally, an independent team of nine astronomers led by University of British Columbia’s Hideki Tanimura used 260,000 pairs of luminous red galaxies taken from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 12 and stacked their Planck map image pieces on top of one another.8Their measured mass of the hot intergalactic gas also added up to the missing baryons.

All together, astronomers have four independently achieved measurements of the mass of the hot intergalactic medium based on two completely distinct methods and using different telescopes and different databases of galaxies and quasars. That all four measurements add up to the missing baryons gives astronomers confidence that they really have found the missing baryons of the universe. The missing baryons problem of big bang cosmology has now been solved. Hence, the scientific case for the validity of the biblically predicted big bang creation model is more firmly established than ever before.9 Thus, we can all be assured that the God of the Bible personally created and designed the universe for the express benefit of human beings.

Original article: Discovery of Missing Atomic Matter Boosts Cosmic Creation Model

The Pit Dwellers

There are people — and you know who they are: totalitarians, theocrats, socialists, statists, corporatists, communists, Marxists… the usual Babylonian rot — who believe not only in the superiority of the state…

and not only the sovereignty of the state…

but the supremacy of the state.

I ask you: how long does it take a statist to realize that the very supremacy of the state he or she craves, can no longer risk having its officials elected by the “ignorant little people” it wishes to lord over?

Thus, all statists eventually remove the right to vote from the “common herd” they dominate. And so are the People enslaved — again.

And whatever so-called “free elections” are held are mere shams, mockeries. You know: political puppet shows.

Free and fair markets, separations of powers, Constitutional fealty, term limits, inalienable rights, open and uninhibited elections are the only mechanisms Man has any knowledge of, other that open war, to prevent the ascendancy of those mad souls who better deserve to be thrown into a pit.

Chapter III – Of the Consequence or Trayne of Imaginations

By Consequence, or Trayne of Thoughts, I understand that succession of one Thought to another, which is called (to distinguish it from Discourse in words) Mentall Discourse.

When a man thinketh on any thing whatsoever, His next Thought after, is not altogether so casuall as it seems to be. Not every Thought to every Thought succeeds indifferently. But as wee have no Imagination, whereof we have not formerly had Sense, in whole, or in parts; so we have no Transition from one Imagination to another, whereof we never had the like before in our Senses. The reason whereof is this. All Fancies are Motions within us, reliques of those made in the Sense: And those motions that immediately succeeded one another in the sense, continue also together after Sense: In so much as the former comming again to take place, and be praedominant, the later followeth, by coherence of the matter moved, is such manner, as water upon a plain Table is drawn which way any one part of it is guided by the finger. But because in sense, to one and the same thing perceived, sometimes one thing, sometimes another succeedeth, it comes to passe in time, that in the Imagining of any thing, there is no certainty what we shall Imagine next; Onely this is certain, it shall be something that succeeded the same before, at one time or another.

Trayne Of Thoughts Unguided

This Trayne of Thoughts, or Mentall Discourse, is of two sorts. The first is Unguided, Without Designee, and inconstant; Wherein there is no Passionate Thought, to govern and direct those that follow, to it self, as the end and scope of some desire, or other passion: In which case the thoughts are said to wander, and seem impertinent one to another, as in a Dream. Such are Commonly the thoughts of men, that are not onely without company, but also without care of any thing; though even then their Thoughts are as busie as at other times, but without harmony; as the sound which a Lute out of tune would yeeld to any man; or in tune, to one that could not play. And yet in this wild ranging of the mind, a man may oft-times perceive the way of it, and the dependance of one thought upon another. For in a Discourse of our present civill warre, what could seem more impertinent, than to ask (as one did) what was the value of a Roman Penny? Yet the Cohaerence to me was manifest enough. For the Thought of the warre, introduced the Thought of the delivering up the King to his Enemies; The Thought of that, brought in the Thought of the delivering up of Christ; and that again the Thought of the 30 pence, which was the price of that treason: and thence easily followed that malicious question; and all this in a moment of time; for Thought is quick.

Trayne Of Thoughts Regulated

The second is more constant; as being Regulated by some desire, and designee. For the impression made by such things as wee desire, or feare, is strong, and permanent, or, (if it cease for a time,) of quick return: so strong it is sometimes, as to hinder and break our sleep. From Desire, ariseth the Thought of some means we have seen produce the like of that which we ayme at; and from the thought of that, the thought of means to that mean; and so continually, till we come to some beginning within our own power. And because the End, by the greatnesse of the impression, comes often to mind, in case our thoughts begin to wander, they are quickly again reduced into the way: which observed by one of the seven wise men, made him give men this praecept, which is now worne out, Respice Finem; that is to say, in all your actions, look often upon what you would have, as the thing that directs all your thoughts in the way to attain it.

Remembrance

The Trayn of regulated Thoughts is of two kinds; One, when of an effect imagined, wee seek the causes, or means that produce it: and this is common to Man and Beast. The other is, when imagining any thing whatsoever, wee seek all the possible effects, that can by it be produced; that is to say, we imagine what we can do with it, when wee have it. Of which I have not at any time seen any signe, but in man onely; for this is a curiosity hardly incident to the nature of any living creature that has no other Passion but sensuall, such as are hunger, thirst, lust, and anger. In summe, the Discourse of the Mind, when it is governed by designee, is nothing but Seeking, or the faculty of Invention, which the Latines call Sagacitas, and Solertia; a hunting out of the causes, of some effect, present or past; or of the effects, of some present or past cause, sometimes a man seeks what he hath lost; and from that place, and time, wherein hee misses it, his mind runs back, from place to place, and time to time, to find where, and when he had it; that is to say, to find some certain, and limited time and place, in which to begin a method of seeking. Again, from thence, his thoughts run over the same places and times, to find what action, or other occasion might make him lose it. This we call Remembrance, or Calling to mind: the Latines call it Reminiscentia, as it were a Re-Conning of our former actions.

Sometimes a man knows a place determinate, within the compasse whereof his is to seek; and then his thoughts run over all the parts thereof, in the same manner, as one would sweep a room, to find a jewell; or as a Spaniel ranges the field, till he find a sent; or as a man should run over the alphabet, to start a rime.

Prudence

Sometime a man desires to know the event of an action; and then he thinketh of some like action past, and the events thereof one after another; supposing like events will follow like actions. As he that foresees what wil become of a Criminal, re-cons what he has seen follow on the like Crime before; having this order of thoughts, The Crime, the Officer, the Prison, the Judge, and the Gallowes. Which kind of thoughts, is called Foresight, and Prudence, or Providence; and sometimes Wisdome; though such conjecture, through the difficulty of observing all circumstances, be very fallacious. But this is certain; by how much one man has more experience of things past, than another; by so much also he is more Prudent, and his expectations the seldomer faile him. The Present onely has a being in Nature; things Past have a being in the Memory onely, but things To Come have no being at all; the Future being but a fiction of the mind, applying the sequels of actions Past, to the actions that are Present; which with most certainty is done by him that has most Experience; but not with certainty enough. And though it be called Prudence, when the Event answereth our Expectation; yet in its own nature, it is but Presumption. For the foresight of things to come, which is Providence, belongs onely to him by whose will they are to come. From him onely, and supernaturally, proceeds Prophecy. The best Prophet naturally is the best guesser; and the best guesser, he that is most versed and studied in the matters he guesses at: for he hath most Signes to guesse by.

Signes

A Signe, is the Event Antecedent, of the Consequent; and contrarily, the Consequent of the Antecedent, when the like Consequences have been observed, before: And the oftner they have been observed, the lesse uncertain is the Signe. And therefore he that has most experience in any kind of businesse, has most Signes, whereby to guesse at the Future time, and consequently is the most prudent: And so much more prudent than he that is new in that kind of business, as not to be equalled by any advantage of naturall and extemporary wit: though perhaps many young men think the contrary.

Neverthelesse it is not Prudence that distinguisheth man from beast. There be beasts, that at a year old observe more, and pursue that which is for their good, more prudently, than a child can do at ten.

Conjecture Of The Time Past

As Prudence is a Praesumtion of the Future, contracted from the Experience of time Past; So there is a Praesumtion of things Past taken from other things (not future but) past also. For he that hath seen by what courses and degrees, a flourishing State hath first come into civill warre, and then to ruine; upon the sights of the ruines of any other State, will guesse, the like warre, and the like courses have been there also. But his conjecture, has the same incertainty almost with the conjecture of the Future; both being grounded onely upon Experience.

There is no other act of mans mind, that I can remember, naturally planted in him, so, as to need no other thing, to the exercise of it, but to be born a man, and live with the use of his five Senses. Those other Faculties, of which I shall speak by and by, and which seem proper to man onely, are acquired, and encreased by study and industry; and of most men learned by instruction, and discipline; and proceed all from the invention of Words, and Speech. For besides Sense, and Thoughts, and the Trayne of thoughts, the mind of man has no other motion; though by the help of Speech, and Method, the same Facultyes may be improved to such a height, as to distinguish men from all other living Creatures.

Whatsoever we imagine, is Finite. Therefore there is no Idea, or conception of anything we call Infinite. No man can have in his mind an Image of infinite magnitude; nor conceive the ends, and bounds of the thing named; having no Conception of the thing, but of our own inability. And therefore the Name of GOD is used, not to make us conceive him; (for he is Incomprehensible; and his greatnesse, and power are unconceivable;) but that we may honour him. Also because whatsoever (as I said before,) we conceive, has been perceived first by sense, either all at once, or by parts; a man can have no thought, representing any thing, not subject to sense. No man therefore can conceive any thing, but he must conceive it in some place; and indued with some determinate magnitude; and which may be divided into parts; nor that any thing is all in this place, and all in another place at the same time; nor that two, or more things can be in one, and the same place at once: for none of these things ever have, or can be incident to Sense; but are absurd speeches, taken upon credit (without any signification at all,) from deceived Philosophers, and deceived, or deceiving Schoolemen.

From Gutenberg: Leviathan – Chapter III