Discovery Institute recently released a stunning animation (different from the one above) of the mechanics of ATP synthase, a biomechanical power generator found almost ubiquitously across life. The video above offers another glimpse of the engineering prowess of this amazing molecular machine.
There exists three main types of membrane-embedded ATPases: F-type, V-type and P-type. I will discuss here the F-type ATPases (also called ATP synthase). V-type ATPases facilitate the acidification of intracellular organelles, and use the energy from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) hydrolysis to pump protons into cells and organelles (Beyenbach and Wieczorek, 2006). P-type ATPases are involved in the pumping of cations, also using the energy of ATP hydrolysis (Bublitz et al., 2011; Kuhlbrandt, 2004). The F-type ATPase discussed here is unique inasmuch as it, rather than hydrolysing ATP, actively synthesizes it using the energy from the flow of protons down an electrochemical gradient. There are also A-type ATPases which are found in archaea and perform a similar function to F-type ATPases (Bickel-Sandkötter et al., 1998).
The journey from atheism to theism is different for each person who makes it. My journey began with science, then made a turn onto the path of ethics and morality. Webster’s Dictionary defines ethics as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.” Webster’s defines morality as “a moral discourse, statement, or lesson, a doctrine or system of moral conduct.” Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary defines morality as “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior, the degree to which something is right and good, the moral goodness or badness of something.”
As an atheist I would have argued that I was an ethical person. For example, I believed strongly in journalistic ethics and in ethical behavior as it impacted news coverage and the First Amendment. But what was the source of my ethics and ethical behavior? Did that source of ethics affect my personal life? No. I bent personal ethics to suit my selfish interests. What was the source of that behavior? same source? different source? no source?
The video above features a short excerpt from a debate between well-known atheist philosopher A.C. Grayling (famous for conveniently “forgetting” having debated William Lane Craig) and Christian philosopher Peter S. Williams. Their subject: the fine-tuning of the universe’s initial conditions to support complex life, bearing on the case for intelligent design. Williams articulates the argument from specified complexity, using the analogy of an ATM bank machine. A bank pin number is a very specific combination of four digits (some banks allow more), and there is a total of ten digits (0-9) on an ATM keypad. There is thus only one four-digit combination out of a total of 10,000 (10^4) combinatorial possibilities that will allow the money to be retrieved from the machine. Since ATM machines typically allow only three attempts before denying access to one’s bank account, it is vastly more probable than not that the machine will not be cracked by chance. This is analogous to the kind of specified complexity that is of interest to ID theorists.
This is Part 1 in a 3 part series on evolutionary theories of cognition. This part discusses C.S. Lewis’ Argument from Reason. Part 2 will examine Alvin Plantinga’s Argument from Proper Function and part 3 will cover Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism.
No matter how contentious an intellectual debate may appear, both parties agree on at least one thing. They both assume that rationality, if properly used, leads to true conclusions. The laws of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle, for example, accurately describe reality.1 If human perceptions about these basic truths were incorrect, then it would be impossible to reason to any conclusion.
Theists argue that this necessary presupposition is incompatible with a naturalistic worldview. If naturalism is true then rationality is not reliable, undercutting all beliefs including acceptance of naturalism itself. Arguments of this genre are coined “arguments from reason.”
One of my recent word studies in the NT texts involves the distinction of the greek “pneuma” (spirit), “sark” (flesh), and “psyche” (mind/soul).
The Hebrews as well as the 1st century Christian Jews had accepted these distinctions when defining the separate characteristics of the human being, which they believed was composed of these three elements.
As apologists, we rely very much on the “psyche” or the mind, in providing reasons for our faith. And as a consequence, we become very reliant on our reasoning and our ability to think and without our knowing, has largely affected the way we conduct ourselves as well as in making critical decisions, which should involve prayer. After all, we have submitted ourselves to the Eternal King who hears our prayers. Continue reading →
One of the most famous (and supposedly devastating) criticisms of Anselm’s ontological argument comes from Immanuel Kant. It is virtually undisputed by those who mention the argument. One hears this criticism even on the Internet. In nearly every instance in which I have encountered this objection, an explanation is never provided. What is this criticism, and what does it mean?
Kant claimed that “existence is not a predicate.” To illustrate what this means, consider an apple (or a horse, or a pencil, or any other object). One may describe it as “red,” and “sweet,” and any number of things. All of these are in the predicate position in a sentence. They translate into properties of the object like being red or being sweet. Kant held that in order for something to count as a property, it had to tell us something about the object that added to its description. Kant’s argument is that two apples will be identical where they have all of the same properties, even if we stipulate that one of them exists. If that is correct, then existence is not a property after all. But if existence is not a property, then Anselm cannot be correct when he says it is greater for God to exist in reality than merely in the intellect (since the difference between the two would be only in existence). So, is Kant right? Continue reading →
The video above shows the process by which bacterial cells reproduce themselves. Looks simple, doesn’t it? It’s only a colony of cells elongating before splitting in two. Don’t be fooled — appearances can be deceiving. As is so common throughout biology, the apparent simplicity at the macro level masks remarkable complexity at the micro or molecular level.
In eukaryotes, cell division occurs by either meiosis (sex cells) or mitosis (somatic cells). Bacteria, however, undergo neither of those processes (they are asexual and contain no membrane-enclosed organelles or nuclei). Bacterial cell division occurs by a process known as binary fission. Rod-shaped bacteria (e.g. Escherichia coli or Salmonella typhimurium) elongate to twice their original length. This is followed by invagination of the cell membrane, and the formation of a septal ring in the middle (Vicente et al., 2006; Weiss, 2004). The elongated bacterial cell splits down the middle, forming two daughter cells. Some bacteria exhibit variations on this mechanism. For example, inCaulobacter, no septum is formed (Poindexter and Hagenzieker, 1981) and its division is asymmetrical(Judd et al., 2003).
How do we know God exists? In the past when I was asked this question I used to automatically jump to an argument for God. I would sit down and try to explain it in detail to the individual. I have now decided to take a different approach and back up: I ask the person “How should we approach the existence of God?” or “ What method should we use?” Now, I know that when you ask a Christian, Jewish person, Muslim, or Mormon how they know what they believe is true, they might just say, “I have faith.” This should cause us to stop and ask if that is an adequate answer. It probably won’t go very far in a skeptical and pluralistic culture. So in this post I want to discuss some of the various ways we can approach the existence of God. I am well aware that there are other methods as well.