A Journey of Faith and Science

Toward the end of my graduate studies in organic chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, the conflict that sometimes arises between science and faith presented itself forcibly to me. The closest friend that I had in a group of about 25 people was a brilliant post-doctoral fellow from Georgia, and we decided to take a day trip to the San Diego Zoo to get away from the pressures of the University. At the end of the day as we were headed north to Orange County, he began to speak about the okapi, a giraffe-like animal with stripes on its hind legs reminiscent of a zebra, that we had seen at the zoo.
My friend was speculating on the evolution of this unique animal and its giraffe “cousin”, and he detected a certain reticence from me. He immediately drew the correct conclusion, and questioned with great surprise, “You don’t believe in evolution, do you?” To say that he was surprised would probably be an understatement. More like flabbergasted. We had been friends for more than two years at that point, and I had apparently hidden my insanity well. How could any rational and intelligent person NOT believe in evolution? From this point there was a tension between us, until he left UCI to take a job in the pharmaceutical industry. We have not spoken in more than 10 years, though I have tried to call his cell phone a few times over the years. I believe, though I am not certain, that this episode informed his decision not to maintain our friendship. My friend’s shocked response to my faith in Creation speaks volumes regarding the perception of Darwinian evolution as undeniable and established fact, as opposed to a theory that can be legitimately challenged. A denial of Darwinian orthodoxy is often viewed by its advocates in much the same light as a denial of orthodoxy by any other religious person.

In the intervening years, science and faith have continued to play an important role in my life and I now teach medicinal chemistry and pharmacology at the Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy. As opportunity presents itself, I try to explain to my students the ways in which complex and interdependent biochemical transformations, such as DNA synthesis, defy an evolutionary stepwise origin and demand a Creator. I also try to explain to them why it matters that a Christian should believe that God is the Creator of life, as opposed to creation by the purposeless mutation/adaptation model espoused by the neo-Darwinian synthesis of evolution. And I try to show them how understanding their job as pharmacists allows them to minister to their patients, and in their own way to heal as Jesus would were He in their place.

My research is focused on aggressive and difficult-to-treat cancers, and I hope that these studies might eventually lead to therapies that can improve cancer patients’ lives. I’ve found that though the conflict between faith and science may occasionally strain friendships, and has strained several of mine over the years, there is no logical tension between the two. It is entirely possible to be a Bible-believing (yes, even those early chapters in Genesis), Jesus-loving Christian and a believer and practitioner of science.

The Bible describes us as “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). It says that we are the product of careful thought and preparation, and created in the image of a God that loves us (Genesis 1 and 2). These same things are true of the world around us, the study of which we call “science.” My favorite author, Ellen White, says that “All truths, whether in nature or Revelation, agree.” (Signs of the Times, 1884, #11). The honest pursuit of truth should never cause Christians to fear that their faith will be shaken or lost. We may not be able to understand everything that is found in nature, but the reality is that no one does. But the truth can only be found in the One who calls Himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). In my experience, science rightly understood leads us closer to the Author of all knowledge and provides for a greater appreciation for the work of His hands.

Understanding the world in which we live through the study of science in its various forms is a gift that God offers to His children. Reading the Scriptures to learn where this world came from, why we are here and where we are going is another gift the Lord has generously provided. The love of God for His children is revealed in both science and Revelation, and the blessing of God rests upon all those that seek Him through all of the means that He has provided. “Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Kristopher E. Boyle, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry
Loma Linda University

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A review of the nature documentary “The Riot and the Dance”

This movie premiered in US movie theaters on March 19, 2018, followed by a nationwide theatrical encore on April 19th. It is not yet available on DVD. More information and additional resources about the documentary can be found at http://riotandthedance.com and https://www.facebook.com/riotandthedance/

A flyer advertising the release of the movie

Most nature documentaries include some language that refers to an underlying naturalistic understanding of origins. They convey the idea that the deeply textured behaviors and interactions of the biological world emerged from impersonal physical necessities and a really long chain of purposeless chance events. However, the recently released nature documentary “The Riot and the Dance” breaks this common pattern in a refreshing way. Instead of suppressing the undeniable richness of meaning in nature, this film embraces with beautiful consistency a simple premise from its very start: God is the Maker of all there is and we resonate with other living beings because we all are the expression of His design and creativity. This bold choice sets this movie apart from classic nature documentaries and provides the foundation for the exploration of different habitats and their inhabitants. In speaking of other creatures, biologist Gordon Wilson, the narrating voice of the film, invites us to “see them truly as gifts, as miracles.” With reference to the redwood forests of the Pacific NW of the US, he remarks: “God has been using starlight to craft wooden towers older than the modern world. If He spared 2,000 years to shape something, can we spare the time to give it a glance?” In a moment of rare lyrical intensity, Wilson comments on a close up shot of a wild puma saying: “Look a puma in the face: really look. Know that its symmetry and grace was invented from nothing. Who can do such a thing? Only your Father.” What a joy to hear this kind of language punctuating quality videography of different aspects of the creation.

Openly embracing a theistic explanation for the origin of our world and the life that thrives in it has three direct consequences, clearly demonstrated in the movie: 1) First, it encourages wonder in the observer, because living creatures are received as works of art rather than machinery assembled by evolutionary engineering. This way of doing biology is not scared of poetry, and seeks to transcend the mere observation of the constitutive components of reality to spring into an act of celebration; 2) Second, it establishes a strong sense of responsibility founded on the traditional Christian understanding of creation, where humans are called to be keepers of this world. In Wilson’s words, “God has given us dominion and we have to take that charge very seriously.” The movie models an excellent example of how this responsibility requires mindful participation and continuous interrogation and can be fulfilled with playfulness and innocence rather than greed or disinterest; 3) Thirdly, it forces us to acknowledge the existence of tension and dissonance in the natural order when compared to the divine ideal revealed in the Scriptures. Nature is not only the source of thrilling wonder but also of perplexing realities not easily accounted for. This ambiguity is exactly what the title of the film, “The Riot and the Dance,” intends to convey. Something in the creation is not as it should be and we are puzzled by it, although we cannot mistake its evil nature.

The narrative trajectory of the movie starts with a brief opening section where Wilson introduces himself, and continues with a journey of exploration of different habitats and animals, covering local (US) and exotic (Sri Lanka) examples. A concluding section focuses on snakes, a common icon of natural evil, and after the closing credits there is an extensive appendix of interviews with Wilson and the film director (Wilson’s nephew), Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, author Eric Metaxas, and Christian hip hop artist Propaganda. The major themes addressed throughout the movie are exploration and enjoyment of nature, environmental stewardship, and natural evil. I really liked that the nature sequences in the film are interjected by brief segments where Wilson speaks directly to the camera to introduce the discussion of those themes. However, some of the transitions between different habitats felt a bit disconnected, not always contributing to the construction of a compelling overarching story. The quality of the images and the spectrum of animal behaviors portrayed was very good. For me, some of the most impressive shots were close-ups of the scales of several reptiles caught by Wilson, showing beautiful coloration patterns. The high resolution shots zooming in on the geometric arrangement of the scales covering the skin of these animals certainly made me think of them as incredible living masterpieces. The closing interviews segment of the documentary helped to understand some of the history behind the making of the film, but was very different in style and made the movie perhaps too long. This did not leave the same flavor in our palate that had been constructed in the beautiful movie proper.

When it comes to the deeper reflections elicited by the film, I can think of two aspects that I would like to discuss more with Wilson to understand further his wisdom and perspective. The first is the possibility that heightened appreciation for the creation could translate into a sort of “nature worship.” If evolution has no place for intelligent design in nature, at the opposite side of the spectrum is a world where every minute detail is assigned incomparable value. Could this result in a posture towards the creation that is almost afraid of interaction and engagement for fear of disrupting a divinely ordained balance? To be fair, Wilson does not fall into this trap and projects a well-centered understanding of human rulership that is gentle and passionate, but not at all passive.

Director Andy Wilson explains in the final interview how he wanted to avoid the approach of other documentaries that “treat the animals as if they are sacred: the animals must not be touched, the animals take precedence over mankind.” However, in a scene where Wilson is crossing a river, we see him let a land leech crawl up his leg and draw a good sip of blood while he comments “Behold, God and I provide.” At times, I wonder if rather than turning back to God for all we observe in this world we should be impressed by how bad things have gone and read among the lines of nature the story of a cosmic conflict, elements of which we need to call out for what they are: not good. And again, Wilson seems to capture this tension by oscillating between the poles of wonder and appreciation but also statements affirming that “this is not how the world was meant to be, this is the result of the fall. It is more riot than it is dance.” However, he also appears to embrace the world as it is: “How much of this world does God love? How much has He given to us? The answer is the same: all of it. Every prickle and every pebble, every storm and every breeze, every insect and every lizard.” There is something tragic in the scene where a crested serpent eagle engages in an extenuating fight to kill a land monitor, but geckos preying on termites are apparently ok: God “makes them desperately want what He has already arranged to give them. Feast little lizards.” Maybe this tension is indeed where we should situate ourselves as Christian scientists in reading the message of the world around us.

The second aspect, connected to the first, is the stated desire to bring into the fold of this movie the narration of “Christian evolutionists.” Director Andy Wilson offers that “all of us should be able to look at the world and love what God gave us. Part of the goal of the film was not to have a debate movie where Christians fought with each other, but a film to celebrate what we all agree God gave us and then have some intermural debate about how He gave that to us.” But are animal death and predation part of “what we all agree God gave us?” If God uses natural selection to play His music, one would look at the hardships of animal life in a reverent rather than contrite and troubled way. But Wilson does promote throughout the movie the concept of the fall and the curse, and not only a spiritual one, but one that materially affected the biological world. He goes as far as to explicitly connect all the biological suffering to the results of our human choice: “Predator-prey, parasite-host, all these things are the result of the fall. The creation needs redemption.” “When man fell, so did the world, now death is something that we all share.” “Everything here is groaning against death because of our fall.” Therefore, it would be interesting to see how he sees that this approach can square with the perspective of a “Christian evolutionist.”

I was very grateful for and resonated with the perspective adopted in this movie. It is encouraging to see that new quality documentaries are being produced that embrace a language and a worldview in which many of us breathe and move. This film also provides a great opportunity to invite a skeptic friend to engage with a different way of looking at nature, that is genuine, honest, and joyous. I am looking forward to the release of the next episode of “The Riot and the Dance,” which will feature aquatic creatures!

Ronny Nalin, PhD
Associate Scientist
Geoscience Research Institute

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DNA and Design

Imagine walking down the beach and coming across the words “Romeo loves Juliet” written in the sand. Most of us have experienced something like this and would not be surprised, but most people would be surprised to find the entire text of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet written in sand. Why is this? The obvious reason is that sand is the wrong material for large writing projects. Sand grains move about easily and text written in it is quickly obliterated (Figure 1). Before the first act was completely written in sand, the beginning may be gone if the wind is blowing or waves wash over it.


Figure 1: Sand on a beach can be a romantic but not highly efficient information storage system.

On the other hand, it is not surprising to find Romeo and Juliet written out on paper. Because it is compact and lasts for many years, paper is an excellent material for storing information. We could write information on other materials – over the course of history, humans have employed everything from rocks to parchment made from sheep skins as information storage media – but cheap abundant long-lasting paper has proven to be one of the best media ever invented for storing information.

DNA – The stable genetic information storage medium

Inside cells, we find an information storage medium that, like paper, appears to be just the right medium for the information it stores; we call it Deoxyribonucleic Acid or DNA. One reason DNA is an excellent storage medium for genetic data is its amazing chemical stability. DNA can last for thousands of years after an organism has died, and this has allowed us to read the DNA of long extinct organisms ranging from our Neanderthal relatives[1] to woolly mammoths.[2] Chemical stability is essential to the function of DNA. If it were unstable, the information that it encodes would be quickly degraded, like information written in sand.

DNA – An efficient storage medium

Our own DNA illustrates another essential attribute of DNA. The human genome comprises all our DNA packaged into the 23 human chromosomes, two copies of which are found in most cells,[3] as well as DNA within mitochondria. DNA stores information far more efficiently than printed words on paper. For example, human mitochondrial DNA is only about 5.6 μm long–about one hundredth the diameter of a typical period at the end of a sentence–but printed out as letters on paper, its DNA sequence takes up about 6 pages. Similarly, the entire human genome is about a meter long but requires around a million pages to print out! Clearly a million pages will not fit inside a cell, but all that information will fit inside the tiny nucleus of a cell if it is encoded in DNA. The ability of DNA to store information in a tiny space makes it the most efficient known information storage medium in terms of information density.

DNA – An accurately copied medium

The double helical structure of DNA also contributes in an amazing way to its function as an information storage medium. When most cells divide, it is necessary to make a complete copy of the DNA in the “mother” cell so that each “daughter” cell gets one complete copy of the mother cell’s DNA. Information is encoded in DNA using sequences of chemicals called nucleotide bases. These bases are analogous to the letters we use to spell out information and a complete copy of the human genome contains about 3 billion of them. When human cells divide, the challenge is to accurately copy 6 billion bases because each mother cell contains two copies of the human genome.

Humans start out as a single fertilized egg cell, which divides until a person reaches the adult number of cells, which is around 37 trillion.[4] As adults, our cells continue to divide and grow as we lose old cells, so millions of cells in our bodies divide every day and thus millions of copies of the 6 billion bases in each cell’s DNA must be accurately made. While the number of DNA replications and the 3 billion base length of the human genome may seem impressive, this is not exceptional. Many other organisms, ranging from maize to some salamanders, have significantly larger genomes. The largest animal genome reported is for the marbled lungfish, Protopterus aethiopicus, with 139 billion bases in its genome, but organisms with even larger genomes are known.[5]

When James Watson and Francis Crick published their seminal 1953 paper[6] revealing the double helical structure of DNA to the world, they immediately noted that the structure suggests a mechanism for accurate DNA replication:

It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.

dna helix

Figure 2: The structure of the DNA double helix. Image courtesy of Zephyris (CC BY-SA 3.0).

The pairing Watson and Crick are referring to involves the chemical base “letters” of the DNA alphabet already mentioned. These flat molecules are attached to the two strands of the double helix. As the two strands of the double helix wind around each other, the bases point into the center and interact with one another in very specific ways. One class of bases, the purine bases Adenine (A) and Guanine (G), is relatively large; while the other class, the pyrimidine bases Thymine (T) and Cytosine (C), are smaller. In addition, charges on the surface of these bases are distributed differently. Because of this and the geometry of DNA with the bases pointing toward each other, Adenine (A) on one strand of the double helix always pairs up with Thymine (T) on the opposite strand and vice versa. The same is true for Guanine (G) and Cytosine (C). Thus, if you have an A on one strand of the double helix, you can know that there is a T on the opposite strand, and if you have a C on one strand, you can know that there is G on the opposite strand.

If the double helix is unzipped to make individual strands of DNA, each strand contains a negative copy of the opposite strand. When DNA is replicated, the DNA double helix is unzipped and each strand serves as the template for making an exact copy of the other strand. Obviously there is complex cellular machinery that makes this happen, but if one strand has the sequence AGTCCGC, then the opposite strand can be reconstructed exactly from it as TCAGGCG.[7] Thus it is that the structure of DNA contributes to the amazing way it can be replicated with almost inconceivable speed and accuracy.

The origin of DNA as the genetic material of organisms

The more we learn about DNA, the better suited it appears to its role as an information storage medium inside cells. We have talked about three ideal characteristics that it exhibits: 1) It is chemically stable and thus does not rapidly degrade the information stored in it, 2) DNA is amazingly information dense, storing massive quantities of information in an incredibly small volume; 3) The structure of DNA contributes to its ability to be accurately copied at amazing speed, which is necessary when cells are dividing to make new cells. There are other characteristics that DNA exhibits that make it ideal, but discussing them gets progressively more technical and these three are sufficient to illustrate the point. There may be some other materials that could do some of what DNA does, but none are known that fulfill all the requirements of a genetic material as well as DNA does.

This raises the question of how organisms ended up using DNA rather than some inferior molecule to store genetic information. For the open-minded there are at least two possibilities, either DNA was chosen as the genetic material by someone who knew what they were doing, or DNA was chosen as the genetic material by something that didn’t know what it was doing. The latter position is the materialistic belief of Darwinism. How might this have worked? Given the amazing fit between the properties of DNA and its function, and the diverse molecules made by organisms, it is hard to imagine nature arrived at this solution on its first attempt. Something had to be the initial genetic material and then various other solutions to the need for a genetic material were tried until natural selection settled on the essentially ideal solution of DNA.

There is a significant problem with this Darwinian scenario. Darwin pointed out that for his mechanism to work, it must proceed by “by numerous, successive, slight modifications.”[8] However, changing genetic materials, even with relatively small changes to the chemicals involved, is not possibly a slight modification from the perspective of the organism. An analogy might be trying to swap out the hard disk of a computer for paper, or information chiseled into rock. Information is stored in the form of different magnetic states on hard drives, the equipment to retrieve that information must match the medium it is stored in. Thus, the heads that read changes in magnetic state on a hard disk are incapable of reading ink on paper or letters carved into stone. The same is true of the equipment used by cells to read information from the genetic material of cells. Today we can study the machinery found inside cells and see that we can’t substitute a different kind of molecule for DNA. Molecules like polysaccharides, triglycerides or proteins – all of which are naturally made inside cells – are not particularly good information storage media, but even if they were, they are not read by the machinery that reads DNA.

We can also see that devices capable of reading different media are a complex engineering challenge, but creating a device flexible enough to read multiple media is orders of magnitude more difficult. This is why when the transition was made from optical drives to USB drives no attempt was made to create systems that read both; they are read by different devices inside computers. To go with the materialistic scenario involving multiple genetic materials, one needs mechanisms for reading the stored information in different media that somehow anticipate the need to read it before it is being used. In reality, switching genetic materials, even switching between fairly closely related chemicals, requires a coordinated change in several molecular machines inside cells, something that seems quite remarkable in any system, let alone a system that is unguided in any way.

The alternative theory, that DNA was chosen as the genetic material by someone who knew what they were doing, can be compared with our normal experience. One of the first things engineers look at when presented with an engineering problem is the materials available and a decision is made about which materials will best serve the purposes of the problem they seek to address. For example, when designing a car engine, an engineer needs to use materials that can withstand the heat and mechanical strain inside the engine. Water is not the right material for an engine block, neither is wood or concrete; certain metals work very well for this purpose, so these metals are the materials most commonly used. Engineers know the specifications of the project being worked on and the specifications of the materials available. They then match the material exhibiting the necessary specifications with the project at hand. This observation fits well with our understanding of DNA as the genetic material; it is well explained within the paradigm of a wise Designer who chose an ideal material for the purpose of storing genetic information within the organisms He created. Satisfied with this choice, and many others, He could thus pronounce at the completion of His creation that it was “very good.”[9]

There is clearly an argument to be made for design in living things based on the choice of DNA as the genetic material, but what about the information encoded in DNA? Christians believe God created living things and is the ultimate source of information in genomes. In contrast, the most common alternative theory of origins–materialistic Darwinism–attributes genomic information to chance mutations and natural laws, particularly natural selection. Let’s look at two attributes of genomes that shed light on their origin and ultimately the origin of life.

Is much of the information coded in DNA actually junk?

Our understanding of genomes was held back by the rush to declare most of many genomes “junk.”[10] Susumu Ohno, who coined the term “junk DNA,” elegantly expressed this Darwinian viewpoint:

“[T]he earth is strewn with fossil remains of extinct species; is it a wonder that our genome too is filled with the remains of extinct genes?”[11]

Much DNA does not code for proteins, and many biologists initially assumed that these non-coding DNA sequences therefore lacked function.  The logic boiled down to, “if we don’t know what it does, it must do nothing.”  However, much data now demonstrate that this logic leads to a false conclusion: non-coding DNA often exhibits important functions. This understanding has revolutionized how biologists view genomes. Instead of vast deserts with occasional oases of functional information, genomes now seem more like rainforests of information with a dazzling array of genes, control mechanisms and logic circuits.

Genes are smarter than we thought

According to the “one gene, one enzyme” model proposed by Beadle and Tatum (for which they won a Nobel Prize), each gene codes for a single protein; but now everything has changed. Current estimates indicate that humans have less than 25,000 genes, but produce more than 100,000 proteins;[12] thus at least some genes must be capable of producing multiple proteins.


Figure 3: NMR structure of the homeodomain of Pitx2 in complex with a TAATCC DNA binding site. PDB ID: 2LKX [Chaney, B.A., Clark-Baldwin, K., Dave, V., Ma, J., Rance, M. (2005). Solution structure of the K50 class homeodomain PITX2 bound to DNA and implications for mutations that cause Rieger syndrome. Biochemistry 44: 7497-7511.] Rendered using NGL viewer [AS Rose and PW Hildebrand. NGL Viewer: a web application for molecular visualization. Nucl Acids Res (1 July 2015) 43 (W1): W576-W579 first published online April 29, 2015. doi:10.1093/nar/gkv402].

How is this achieved? Let’s illustrate with the human Paired-like homeodomain transcription factor 2 gene (also called Pituitary Homeobox 2 and abbreviated Pitx2), which shows how RNA processing creates several different proteins from one gene. The PITX2 protein (Figure 3) plays a role in development of the head and eyes, among other things.[13] Pitx2 includes six segments called exons that code for parts of the protein. These are separated by five introns. When the DNA coding this gene is copied to RNA for use by the cell’s protein manufacturing machinery, it can be processed in different ways to code for different proteins. By joining exons 1, 2, 5 and 6, mRNA for a version of PITX2 called “Isoform A”, or PITX2A is made. Joining exons 1,2,3,5 and 6 makes mRNA for PITX2B and exons 4, 5 and 6 form the mRNA for PITX2C. Other mechanisms make even more forms of PITX2.[14] Cells need to make the right “version” of PITX2 in the right place at the right time if the organism they are part of is to develop normally.

How does the cell “know” when to make one form of a protein but not others? This brings us back to some of what was once dismissed as “junk” DNA and indicates why genomes are now understood to be far more dynamic than initially imagined. The complex systems controlling exon splicing appear to involve sequences occupying at least one third of the human genome,[15] far exceeding the 3 % of the human genome thought to be functional a few years ago. The picture of DNA that is emerging shows it does in fact store vast quantities of information, much of which was missed by the first scientists to study it. Much more is probably yet to be discovered.


There is beauty, complexity, elegance and efficiency in the choice of DNA as the medium for storing genetic information, and the information itself is amazing. Some of what we know about genomes fits well with the thesis of common ancestry and Darwinian evolution, but when taken as a whole, the evidence is more consistent with the Biblical worldview in which a Designer, God, accounts for the choice of DNA as the genetic material, the enormous quantities of information stored in it and the elegant arrangement of that information in genomes.

When the Creator God wrote the 10 Commandments,[16] He did so in the durable medium of stone; but when He wrote the sins of the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees, He wrote in dust, where His words would be quickly obliterated.[17] The God of the Bible demonstrated His ability to choose appropriate media in which to record information, it should not be surprising to find that in living things He chose a medium as well suited to the task of recording genetic information as DNA, or that the information stored in DNA is elegant and amazing. Every person, every creature, every plant–indeed every living organism–is an exquisite repository of genetic information encoded in DNA, information far more exquisite and deeply meaningful than anything written by William Shakespeare or any other human author. Christians have good reason to believe that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”[18] and that God, who created us along with all other things, is worthy of our worship.


[1] Green RE, Krause J, Briggs AW, et al. 2010. A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome. Science 328(5979):710-722. DOI: 10.1126/science.1188021

[2] Miller W, Drautz DI, Ratan A, et al. 2008. Sequencing the nuclear genome of the extinct woolly mammoth. Nature 456:387-390. doi:10.1038/nature07446

[3] We get a complete set of human chromosomes from each parent; 23 from our mother and 23 from our father for a total of 46. Most human cells carry all 46 chromosomes in their nucleus.

[4] Bianconi E, Piovesan A, Facchin F, Beraudi A, Casadei R, Frabetti F, Vitale L, Pelleri MC, Tassani S, Piva F, Perez-Amodio S, Strippoli P, Canaider S. 2013. An estimation of the number of cells in the human body. Annals of Human Biology. 40(6):463-71. doi: 10.3109/03014460.2013.807878.

[5] Pellicer J, Fay MF, Leitch AJ. 2010. The largest eukaryotic genome of them all? Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 164(1):10–15. DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8339.2010.01072.x

[6] Watson JD, Crick FHC. 1953. A structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid. Nature 171:737-738.

[7] Note that because of the conventions usually used by molecular biologists, these sequences would not be written exactly like this.

[8] Darwin, C. R. 1859. On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray. 1st edition, 1st issue. P 189.

[9] Genesis 1:31

[10] Makalowski, W. 2003. Not junk after all. Science 300:5623.

[11] Ohno S. 1972. So much “junk” DNA in our genome. Brookhaven symposia in biology. P. 366-70 in Evolution of genetic systems (H. H. Smith, ed.). Gordon and Breach, New York.

[12] Clamp, M., B. Fry, M. Kamal, X. Xie, J. Cuff, M. F. Lin, M. Kellis, K. Lindblad-Toh, and E. S. Lander. 2007. Distinguishing protein-coding and noncoding genes in the human genome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104:19428–19433.

[13] Gage PJ, Suh H, Camper SA. 1999. The bicoid-related Pitx gene family in development. Mammalian Genome 10:197-200.

[14] Lamba, P., T. A. Hjalt, and D. J. Bernard. 2008. Novel forms of Paired-like homeodomain transcription factor 2 (PITX2): Generation by alternative translation initiation and mRNA splicing. BMC Molecular Biology 9:31.

[15] Zhang, C., W.-H. Li, A. R. Krainer, and M. Q. Zhang. 2008. RNA landscape of evolution for optimal exon and intron discrimination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105:5797–5802.

[16] Exodus 31:18, Deuteronomy 9:10

[17] John 8:7,8

[18] Psalm 139:14

Timothy G. Standish, PhD
Senior Scientist, Geoscience Research Institute

A former version of this article was published in German on the magazine Info Vero

Posted in Biology, Chemistry, Design, Evolutionary Theory, Molecular, Origin of Life | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Archaeopteryx: Bird or Reptile? Or Not?

(Fig. 1) The recently discovered Archaeopteryx fossil. Photo courtesy of PeerJ and the authors. Creative Commons

Archaeopteryx is arguably the most famous fossil ever discovered. It has a mixture of bird-like and reptile-like traits, and was first reported only two years after Charles Darwin published his book, The Origin of Species. Since then, another eleven Archaeopteryx specimens have been recovered from the limestones near Solnhofen, Germany. The most recent specimen was discovered in 2010 (Fig. 1), and a thorough description and comparison with other specimens was published[1] in January, 2018. One conclusion of this study is an affirmation of a previous study[2] which concluded that one of the specimens, known as the Haarlem specimen, differs from the others sufficiently to be placed in its own genus, Ostromia. Another point of note is that the various specimens of Archaeopteryx vary considerably, especially in the limb bones and dentition.

Exactly what is Archaeopteryx? Is it a bird or a reptile? For some, the presence of feathers makes it a bird, since birds are the only living group with feathers. However, living birds also have beaks and short tails, while Archaeopteryx has toothed jaws  (Fig. 2) and a long bony tail like reptiles (Fig. 1).

The skull and mandibles of the most recently discovered specimen of Archaeopteryx (see Fig. 1), showing dentition (to the left of the picture). Scale bar is 1 cm long. Photo courtesy of PeerJ and the authors. Creative Commons

The problem of classifying Archaeopteryx can also be seen in the scientific literature. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,[3] Archaeopteryx is a “genus of feathered dinosaur that was once thought to be the oldest known fossil bird.” Another source[4] states “It has long been accepted that Archaeopteryx was a transitional form between birds and reptiles, and that it is the earliest known bird.” So why are there different opinions and why does it matter?

There are different opinions about the classification of Archaeopteryx because it does not fit with either birds or reptiles as we know them today. It is like a mosaic, with a mixture of traits not found in any living species. In recent years, several other fossils have been found with features that are a mosaic of avian and reptilian traits, so that Archaeopteryx is no longer as unique as was formerly thought. If one uses the definitions of “bird” and “reptile” based on living species, one would conclude that Archaeopteryx is neither a bird nor a reptile, but belongs in a category of its own. But this answer has not been generally regarded as satisfactory.

Classification of Archaeopteryx matters to evolutionists because evolutionary theory demands common ancestry via a series of evolutionary transitions, and Archaeopteryx seems to be the best available candidate for a reptilian ancestor of birds. Discovery of several other fossils with a mosaic of avian and reptilian traits complicates the issue, so that Archaeopteryx can be considered a feathered dinosaur without abandoning the idea that dinosaurs were ancestors of birds. This is at least part of the reason why the classification of Archaeopteryx is important to evolutionists. But why should it be important to creationists?

Creationists are interested in how Archaeopteryx is classified because they are interested in the creation, and because evolutionists present this fossil as a putative example of an evolutionary transition. How might a creationist interpret this enigmatic fossil? Some creationists have concluded[5] that Archaeopteryx is a bird, but this is not the only answer a creationist might give. There are at least two other answers a creationist might give to the question “Is Archaeopteryx a bird or a reptile?” The first possible answer is “No,” while the second possible answer might be “Yes,” – it is both.

The first answer, “No,” implies that Archaeopteryx is neither a “bird” nor a “reptile” but a different kind of animal. To understand this better, consider what a creationist means by “bird.” Is “bird” a single, natural category containing only one kind of created animal, or is it a collective, artificial category used to refer to a large number of separately created animals that happen to have similar body designs that include feathers, beaks, and short tails, among other things? We use the term “bird” to refer to animals as different as ostriches, hummingbirds, ducks, owls and sparrows. Are these all one created kind of animal, or do they represent several similar but separately created types? Creationists would surely favor the second alternative: “bird” is an artificial collective term referring to many separately created types of animals with a similar design. There is no need to try to force Archaeopteryx into a preexisting category – it could just as well be considered a separate type of animal and given its own category name.

The second possible answer to the above question, “Yes” implies that Archaeopteryx is both a bird and a reptile. This might imply that Archaeopteryx could be an example of the “corruption” of all animals mentioned in Genesis 6:1-13. God is quoted in this text as stating that the corruption of nature was one of the reasons for destruction of the world by a flood. Perhaps the “corruption” of nature included the combining features from different parts of the creation into unnatural species, of which Archaeopteryx may have been an example.

Archaeopteryx and its interpretation raise some interesting philosophical questions for creationists. Is it necessary that all fossils fit into existing categories based on living species? Are categories based on living species natural categories or are they artificial categories for a group of separately created species? Are all species more-or-less exactly as they were created, or has the creation been subject to considerable change and corruption? Regardless of which alternative is preferred, creation theory provides a robust framework for explaining the general lack of fossils that could be considered evolutionary transitions, and also provides potential explanations for the few such fossils that have been found, including Archaeopteryx.

[1] Rauhut et al. (2018) The oldest Archaeopteryx (Theropoda: Avialiae); a new specimen from the Kimmeridgian/Tithonian boundary of Schamhaupten, Bavaria. PeerJ 6:e4191; DOI 10.7717/peerj.4191

[2] Foth, C and OWM Rauhut, Re-evaluation of the Haarlem Archaeopteryx and the radiation of maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs. BMC Evolutionary Biology (2017)17:336; https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-017-1076-7

[3] https://www.britannica.com/animal/Archaeopteryx downloaded 20 Feb 2018.

[4] http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/birds/archaeopteryx.html  downloaded 20 Feb 2018.

[5] https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2018/02/05/missing-link-dinosaur-just-bird/  downloaded 20 Feb 2018.

by Jim Gibson, PhD
Director of the Geoscience Research Institute

Posted in Biology, Evolutionary Theory, Fossils | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gravitational Waves and General Relativity: Top Science News in 2017

Einstein’s general theory of relativity was published in 1915. It again made headlines in 2017 with two major reports about gravitational waves that further confirmed the theory’s last remaining major prediction. On October 3, the detection of gravitational waves from coalescing black holes was awarded a Nobel Prize. On October 16, the observation of correlated gravitational and electromagnetic (light) waves from the merger of two neutron stars was announced.

Artist’s concept of two black holes on their way to becoming one (Image credit: NASA)


Gravitational waves are distortions in space-time that radiate like light waves from a lamp, sound waves from a speaker, or water waves from a stone dropped in a pool. The distortions are caused by some of the most cataclysmic processes in the Universe, such as colliding black holes, coalescing neutron stars, and collapsing stellar cores that result in supernovae. In the 1970s, indirect evidence for gravitational waves came from measuring the orbital period of binary neutron stars. In 1979, the U.S. National Science Foundation funded research for more direct detection of gravitational waves. As a result, the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) that can detect space-time oscillations that are thousands of times smaller than the nucleus of an atom. The kilometer-size detectors are located in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington. Additional information about gravitational waves and their detection can be found in:

The first direct detection of gravitational waves occurred on September 14, 2015, when LIGO physically sensed distortions in space-time that lasted a fraction of a second. The passing gravitational waves were generated by two colliding black holes 1.3 billion light-years away. Since then, three other detections of black hole mergers were made on December 26, 2015, January 4, 2017, and August 14, 2017. The last observation was made by the two LIGO detectors as well as by a third detector in Italy called Virgo. The 2017 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to three physicists “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.” Over forty years ago, Kip Thorne at CalTech and Rainer Weiss at MIT outlined details of the necessary interferometers. Since 1994, Barry Barish of CalTech has helped lead out in constructing the LIGO facilities and establishing the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Additional news about this discovery and the resulting Nobel Prize can be found at:

On August 17, 2017, gravitational waves from the merger of two neutron stars 130 million light-years away were observed for almost two minutes. The directional information from the two LIGO detectors and the Virgo detector made possible the correlation of these gravitational waves with electromagnetic light waves from a galaxy in the constellation Hydra. The seconds-long gamma ray burst of electromagnetic waves was detected by the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. Because a neutron star is extremely dense, with a mass similar to that of our Sun but a diameter of only a few miles, a gamma ray burst can contain as much energy as the Sun emits in a trillion years. Dozens of other telescopes tracked the “afterglow” of the explosive neutron star merger at x-ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared, and radio (electromagnetic light) wavelengths. The results were announced on October 16 and published in a paper with more than a thousand authors, including a Seventh-day Adventist physicist at Andrews University.

The announcement included several major news headlines: Both gravitational waves and electromagnetic (light) signals were detected from the same source. The speed of gravitational waves is the same as the speed of light, as predicted by general relativity. Since all gravitational wave signals from neutron star mergers would have the same intrinsic “loudness”, such signals can eventually be used to estimate the distance to merger-containing galaxies, and thus the Hubble constant and the expansion rate of the Universe. The kilonova neutron star merger rapidly produced elements heavier than iron for a total mass equivalent to 10,000 Earth masses. Additional news about the detection and implications of the merging neutron stars can be found in:

General relativity theory that predicts and explains gravitational waves describes the non-intuitive laws governing extreme conditions in the Universe at large sizes, energies, and gravitational fields. These extreme conditions result in what appear to humans as cataclysmic events in space and contortions in time. For those interested in the relation of religion to science, they suggest a God who governs the universe in ways that may be beyond our easy comprehension and who has a thousand ways to do things of which we know nothing.

by Ben Clausen, PhD
Senior Scientist
Geoscience Research Institute

Posted in Cosmology, Physics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I Care for the Creation

The creation of God was designed to exist in goodness and harmony. To keep this harmony, God entrusts human beings with the duty to take care of the earth. The message of Scripture encourages us to foster ethical behavior towards the creation, centered on caring and stewarding, for at least seven main reasons:

  1. Creation: An Organic Unit

The original creation testifies in its beauty, complexity and biodiversity of the supreme intelligence and creativity of God. On the one hand, nature was created as a self-sufficient entity able to exist substantially well without humans. On the other, human individuals are entirely dependent on nature for their own survival.

This order presupposes that human beings are not the only ones who possess inherent value on earth. Humans are part of a very complex ecosystem in which every part contributes to the equilibrium of the whole. The entire system is envisaged to favor the full realization of life. Every kind of plant or animal, every cell, every atom, is a phenomenon of creativity, wisdom and genius (Psalm 104: 18-24) displayed by God, the Divine Engineer and supreme Artist of this cosmos. Thus, nature is not only our environment but also our partner. The beings that co-exist with humanity are not simple resources. As living creatures made by God, they are worth to be preserved and loved for what they are and for the sake of higher good (Psalm 104:18-24).

  1. The Ministry of Stewardship Entrusted to Humanity

The text of Genesis does not give free hand to humanity for the management of nature; instead, it orders the conservation of its resources (Genesis 2:15). Human beings received the responsibility, since the beginning, to keep the equilibrium of nature and to cultivate the delicate relation of solidarity between God’s created beings and their environment.

The fact that the care of the earth was promptly entrusted to the first human couple (Genesis 1:28, 2:25) suggests that the environment must never be entirely left to itself, but that human beings have a responsibility in the management of nature.

  1. The Earth Belongs to God.

Although nature was designed to sustain life, and therefore intended for the benefit of human beings as well, the environment does not belong to humans. The Bible affirms that God has ownership over the earth. Consequently, human beings have the moral duty of living responsible lifestyles that do not degrade the environment and promote the perpetuation of life (Genesis 1: 29-30). This entails respect for any kind of life, vegetal or animal (Hosea 2:18, Proverbs 12:10) and responsible management of natural resources (Deuteronomy 20: 11), with the permanent duty of protecting the environment (Revelation 11:18, 7:3).

  1. Biblical Laws on Environment

The Pentateuch establishes a whole series of laws of environmental value with the intention of helping to honor and preserve the received inheritance.

To avoid the exhaustion of cultivated lands, the Mosaic law prescribes one year of rest every seven working years, and tells that the earth deprived of its rest of fallow, “takes revenge” (Leviticus 26.14-35).

Numerous laws are apparently orientated to the maintenance of public hygiene and intended to prevent the most immediate forms of contamination, such as the health norms of “recycling” excrements and garbage, that is to say of “waste at risk” (Deuteronomy 23:13-15).

Among the precepts on the conservation of life we are surprised by the one which concerns the protection of fauna, notably the preservation of adult birds to ensure the perpetuation of their species (Deuteronomy 22:6-7).

Other laws favoring the respect for environment include dispositions restraining the cutting down of trees even in times of war (Deuteronomy 20:19-20). We could also mention the prescriptions against sexual unions between different species, laws against hybridization (Deuteronomy 22:9; Leviticus 19:19), and also laws promoting precaution in lighting fires (Exodus 22.6).

  1. Sabbath: Memorial of Creation

Among all biblical prescriptions with an environmental impact, the most interesting is probably the one that concerns the Sabbath rest.

The original concept of “work” (melakhah), used in the fourth commandment, refers principally to the relationship between humans and the earth. Therefore, the biblical request of suspension of labor during the Sabbath encompasses the systematic re-establishment of harmony between humans and the earth.

This command, without counting its spiritual beneficial effects, has the important secondary effect of leaving nature at rest every seven days by reducing the consumption of energy and its related pollution. The Sabbath day message affirms not only that human beings need a weekly day of rest, but that the earth also needs a respite and an opportunity to recover from the strain imposed by human labor.

  1. The Hope in the Promise of the New Earth and Heavens.

When the prophets announce the final restoration of humankind and its environment (Isaiah 40:4; 42:16, 41:18-19; 43:19; 48:21; 49:10; 54:13-17; 55:13), salvation is extended to all categories of living beings in the renewed world (Isaiah 11:6-11).

This salvation, at the moment, is only a hope. The earth suffers and is waiting eagerly for its adoption and redemption (Romans 8:18-23). However, if God’s plan is to bring a new creation to fruition and make everything new (Revelation 21:1 – 22:5) why should humans care to act responsibly in managing the present world?

On this issue, the Bible is clear: to have access to the new promised world, it is necessary to respect here and now the present creation and its Creator (Revelation 14:6-7). In the last book of the Bible, one of the most serious condemnation is pronounced against “those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18). If the best manner of honoring an artist is to safeguard its work, the best manner of honoring the Creator is to protect His creatures and creation. The respect for the Creator includes respect towards His work. It is a logical conclusion to think that God reserves life to those who love life.

  1. Jesus and His Teachings on Nature

In the gospels, Jesus often leads his interlocutors to observe nature as a sign of his message of life: the fig which burgeons (Mark 13:28); the growing seed (Mark 4:3-9; 26-29; Matthew 13:24-30); the sparrows which are sold in the market (Matthew 10:29); the flash of lightning which shines in the night (Matthew 24:27); the splendor of dusk (Luke 12:55).

The very fact that Jesus uses nature to bring insights for our everyday life affirms that God’s creation is a witness of God’s will. In this environment, human beings can find divinely intended messages and applications. Therefore, to destroy God’s creation means not to be able to listen to His teachings, and therefore be cut off from an important source of communication.

In conclusion, the teachings from Scripture inspire me to adopt an ethical behavior towards creation. The care for the environment in which I live is not just a duty I should fulfill; it becomes the expression of my personal faith towards my Creator.

by Davide Sciarabba
Assistant Professor of Religion
Andrews University

Posted in Biblical and Theological Perspectives, Environment | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Bible, The Creation and The Reformation

This reflection is posted in occasion of Creation Sabbath, recurring on 28 October 2017. For more information about this event, visit creationsabbath.net
If you like this blog post and would like to use it as a sermon, you can download a sermon version here and the accompanying Powerpoint here

On October 31, 2017, Protestant Christendom will celebrate one of the greatest events in Christian history. October 31 will mark 500 years since Martin Luther strode through the crisp autumn air of Wittenberg’s streets, making his way toward the Castle Church. Clutched in his hand were nails, a hammer and a revolutionary document. Arriving at the Church’s large wooden doors, Luther nailed up the document we now call, “The Ninety-Five Theses.”

Without the ideas expressed in Luther’s 95-Theses, we would not be celebrating Creation Sabbath this week. I want to draw your attention to just two of the 95-Theses. In the 27th thesis, Luther quotes a catch phrase used by those selling papal indulgences:

“[A]s soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.”
“daß die Seele (aus dem Fegefeuer) emporfliege, sobald das Geld im Kasten klingt.”

The 95-Theses were a response to the sale of Papal indulgences that were being sold to finance the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Customers were assured that these indulgences had the power to liberate souls from purgatory, sending them straight to Heaven.

To counter this evil scam, Luther appealed to something that had become far removed from the life of the average Christian—God’s Word. There is nothing at all in the Bible about paying for indulgences, salvation is by God’s grace, a free gift!

Returning the source of authority in Christianity from the Pope to the Bible led to a restoration of the doctrines central to biblical Christianity. The Bible in the hands of believers lead by the Holy Spirit powered the Protestant Reformation and it is the power of God’s Word that sustains the Church today. Protestant Christians embrace Luther’s famous Latin dictum “Sola Scriptura.” It is God’s Word alone that has authority, not tradition, not what we think, not what some “expert” thinks. The Bible and the Bible alone forms the foundation of Protestant Christian beliefs, understanding of the world and hope for the future.

The second thesis we will look at is Luther’s 62nd:

“The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.”
“Der wahre Schatz der Kirche ist das allerheiligste Evangelium von der Herrlichkeit und Gnade Gottes.”

What is this “true treasure of the Church” that Luther talked about? It is something that is explicitly denied by many in the world in which we live. The claim is made that humans are exclusively the product of our environment and genetics. If we do evil things, it is not our fault, it is just the way we are. Our lusts, our inclinations, our desires and ultimately our actions are beyond our control, so we cannot be judged in any way for them because we cannot change ourselves.

But Jesus Christ, our Creator, rejected this way of thinking:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:34-36 NKJV

We may not be able to change ourselves, but our Creator, if we let Him, can change us! It is worth considering the context of this text. Those who were confronting Jesus claimed to be heirs of Abraham and never slaves to anyone. This was after Jesus had told them that “the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32 NKJV).

The Jews of that time were filled with pride and blinded to their pitiful sinful state. Jesus, “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6 NKJV) stood before them offering them true liberation, something totally transforming. He could do that because “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3 NKJV). Human beings are not products of a cold uncaring universe, subject to whatever chance way we happened to turn out. Humans, and all of nature, are creations of the God who “is love” (1 John 4:8 NKJV).

God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth came down and was with us, and He is with us now, in every heart that is open to Him. Our Father, Our Creator has not abandoned us, He has adopted us! Just as Adam was His son, through Jesus Christ and unspeakable grace, we are a new creation, born again as His children. No wonder the Apostle John exclaimed:

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” John 3:1 KJV

How can we explain this? Isn’t the Gospel incomprehensibly good? Because God is our Creator, of course He can and will make us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). This logic of salvation cannot be improved upon and is fundamental to the Christian understanding of human nature, the world and all of reality. No wonder Martin Luther was so firm and clear as he championed of the biblical creation as it is recorded in Scripture. To abandon the reality of creation is to abandon reality itself, including the reality of salvation. Luther would tolerate none of that. Because he understood the infinite value and Truth of Scripture, he wrote:

“When Moses writes that God created heaven and earth and whatever is in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days, and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days were one day. But, if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are. For you are to deal with Scripture in such a way that you bear in mind that God Himself says what is written. But since God is speaking, it is not fitting for you wantonly to turn His word in the direction you wish to go.”
(What Luther Says. A Practical In-Home Anthology for the Active Christian. Compiled by Ewald M. Plass. St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia 1959. p 1523.)

Luther was probably more concerned about people who wished to claim that the creation occurred in a single instant rather than over six days, as the Bible records. Today there are those who wish to deny the creation all together, or stretch it out of eons of suffering death and struggle for survival.

What is wrong with the Biblical account? Nothing, it is true, it makes sense and ultimately is central to the Gospel. Our Creator has already demonstrated that He can create us, and the creation of our Earthly father, Adam, was not the result of any works of his own. Adam’s creation was and our creation is an act of pure grace on God’s part. How evil it would be to twist the creation into a Darwinian struggle for survival in which, through the works of our dead ancestors, we have come to the glorious state we enjoy today! What kind of gospel would it be that offers us a perfect body, mind and soul through a million future deaths as we evolve to perfection? Where is the grace in that?

Ultimately, the creation was a fundamental pillar of the Reformation because it is a fundamental theme of Scripture and fundamental to the Gospel. No wonder the first article of Martin Luther’s short and long catechisms is:

“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”
(Martin Luther. The Large Catechism. Translated by F. Bente and W.H.T. Dau. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921. pp. 565-773)

All Bible-believing Christians believe in and worship our Creator. Because the creation is true and necessary, the creation makes sense of reality and is at the center of the Gospel. The Gospel is that, just like the creation of our father Adam, our new creation, our adoption as sons of our Heavenly Father, is an act of pure and astonishing grace. In short: no creation, no grace and no Gospel. Thank God the creation is what actually happened and the Gospel is a beautiful reality!

by Timothy G. Standish, PhD
Senior Scientist
Geoscience Research Institute

Posted in Biblical and Theological Perspectives, Philosophical and Historical Perspectives, Reviews and Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments