Monday, March 28, 2016

CreatorGate III: Infinite Love


Infinite Love is among God's attributes that are  beyond the comprehension of those who have not had God made known to them by His Son, Jesus Christ.  As such, reference to it would be cause for a CreatorGate reaction in a scientific journal.  From a human point of view, Infinite Love is demonstrated by the Crucifixion of Jesus on the cross and his Resurrection three days later, in the process providing expiation for our sins.  The events were adequately documented in the Gospels, foretold by Old Testament prophets, and endorsed by numerous miraculous post-Resurrection events.

The amazing thing to me is that, contrary to the popular theological view, God did not require his Son to die as an infinite sacrifice to satisfy the penalty our sins require for offending an infinite God.  God could very easily have said you are forgiven and it would be so.  But for those unable to think their sins are forgiven without an infinite sacrifice, God the Father required Jesus Christ, be endowed with human form united with His co-divine being, God the Son, and make that sacrifice to ensure doubters could believe that they can attain heavenly rewards.

The mysterious Trinitarian view Christians have of One God having three divine persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, does not preclude the redemptive act of the Son from bringing salvation to those outside the christian persuasion; that seems to be reasonably established by the words and acts of Jesus as recorded in the four Gospels.


Finding God is not likely to happen unless you try.  That was the, perhaps obscure, suggestion implicit in my post -  - where looking at the wallpaper inspired me to understand how we program our internal search engine to find something.  It apparently did not inspire others because only two page views are indicated for the almost two year old post.

The post -  - has a final section about how God may look at us.

I think the post -  - also has a few views that might help us understand our relationship with God.

If you want to find or contemplate God you can even do it with your eyes closed.  But there are many things in the world around us that can help.

1.  Travel and experiencing the diversity and similarity of people of all parts of the world.
2.  Natural wonders such as - the Grand Canyon, mountain ranges, Niagara Falls, waves lapping the sea-shore, the stars at night, many wonders of the biological world.  Many small wonders are rewarding during a walk in the woods, a marsh, a garden, and your back yard.
3.  The goodness of people - in dealing with adversity, serving others; infants, children, adults, seniors.
4.  The tried and true- scripture reading, see below.

If you have never tried it and you have some quiet time in your day, try reading in the Bible for five minutes a day for a few weeks.  Each time, either open the book at random and start reading whatever catches your eye; or pick a topic that is indexed and of interest to you; or flip through pages to find one.  If each book has explanatory material at the beginning it is very helpful to read and know the status and nature of the particular book.  Emphasize the New Testament in reading selections because the Old Testament has a frame of reference that is quite obscure to most of us in determining what is literal truth, illustrative story, historical account, prophecy, and use of views common to the time.  The Old Testament can make one think God is vengeful, whereas the New Testament should help one know God is Love.

Joseph Engemann    Kalamazoo, Michigan    March 28, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

CreatorGate II: Spiritual Beings


God is the pre-existing power, the Creator of the material world, pure existence as the "I AM" identity he revealed in the Old Testament, a being of infinite dimensions unconstrained by space or time, the First Cause uncaused, as identified by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle.  God is so intimidating to non-believers they are compelled to edit the Creator out of scientific publications.  Believers are happy to know God is the ultimate cause for all the good in the world, from the universe to the smallest sub-atomic particle.

Created spiritual beings

Angels and/or other spiritual beings created by God are beyond the reach of science.  Scripture identifies several individual angels and ranks of angels with numbers presumably very numerous.  To my knowledge, there is no effort or reason to bring them into the scientific literature so they are unlikely to contribute to CreatorGate.

Puzzling thoughts of the material and spiritual world

I have a difficult time understanding the existence of magnetism, gravity, and the forces operating in atoms and on their particles.  I concluded gravity might be a result of dark matter particles impinging on atoms.  The mass of a planet would intercept many of the particles while those coming from space beyond the atom would push it toward the planet.  Alternatively, each particle could have its own angel directing its cosmic dance.  I recommend not putting anything from this paragraph into your memory banks.

Joe Engemann    Kalamazoo, Michigan         March 23, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Science cannot cope with evil, spiritual concepts, and infinite love.  All three lack measurable physical existence subject to examination and quantification by using the tools of science.  Miracles are not repeatable on demand. Consequently, a scientist acting as a scientist can neither affirm nor deny a miracle.  Thus their discomfort allowing any role for the Creator as demonstrated in the previous post about CreatorGate.


Moral evil is a value judgement and scientists as humans can make such judgments.  But offering a scientific opinion about evil is valueless.  Atheistic scientists and religious scientists have a right to talk about evil based on their philosophical and/or theological point of view; but each should recognize those views are not part of science.

The magnitude of the human loss of life from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, other natural disasters can be quantified by scientists.  Those factors had a role in our evolutionary history as did many biological factors such as injury and death from starvation, disease, predators, and warfare.  Such events are unwanted, but apart from warfare and other adverse human interactions, do not involve the intent that most would find in things that are evil.  The natural selection of evolution resulting in survival of the fittest was part of every species evolutionary history.

The phenomena of the early origin of the universe, with its explosion, nuclear, and gravitational mayhem, was essential for the origin of elements, galaxies, stars, and planets; the violence challenges our imaginations.  Development of the life-spawning conditions of our own planet Earth involved volcanic eruptions, crustal movements, earthquakes, mountain-building, erosion, and flooding also almost beyond imagination.

In adapting to our ever-changing environment species used various evolutionary solutions.  Some got bigger, some got smaller.  Some got faster, some hid.  The diversity of the flora and fauna of the world is mind-boggling.  With millions of years involved, many amazing adaptations have evolved.

Those adaptations involved the demise of many lacking the adaptation.  If the demise was us, we would think it was evil.  But if we don't view as a personal happening we should be thankful that many generations were gradually shaped into the species we see when we look in the mirror.


Maybe I will be able to shed some light on these topics in the next two posts.  The spiritual and infinite love are not part of science but maybe you can see some connection of value to you.

Joseph G. Engemann    Kalamazoo, Michigan     March 22, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016



Darwin would have a problem if he tried to publish his "Origin of Species" today.  Sara Kaplan of the Washington Post authored an article in today's Kalamazoo Gazette (Page A6, March 17, 2016) entitled "Science meets God in CreatorGate" that described the establishment science uproar over the use of the term Creator in describing the long evolutionary process of the formation of the human hand.

The Chinese authors' article had "Creator" used in a translation describing the amazing natural evolutionary process of formation of the human hand.  It was too close to the use of Creator in Creationism and Intelligent Design arguments that are anathema to many in science.  Their article was in PLOS One (a free online open access journal in which PLOS stands for Public Library of Science).

Applied prejudice and retractions

If such diligence in seeking strict conformance to rules and prejudices of science had been applied to Darwin, he would have had to retract his first edition of his book.  As it was he took out one of his references to the Creator in the final sentence of later editions of his book.  see

If the people demanding retraction, which already has happened, knew the scientific atrocities infecting some revered studies in their scientific disciplines that have not to my knowledge been retracted, they would hang their heads in shame.  I have described some of the errors in two such articles needing retraction in a post that my records indicate has only had about ten direct entries in almost three years as measured by use of the following entry

The lull in the Creation/Evolution debate [ ]  may be temporarily over but the cognitive dissonance aspect of it will probably make peaks and valleys of concern continue.

Too bad I don't have the Twitter and Facebook skills to respond to critics of the PLOS One article.

Joseph G. Engemann    Kalamazoo, Michigan     March 17, 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Water Pollution

Water quality varies greatly in nature.  We have added to the variability by knowingly or unintentionally modifying the natural state of our waters.  When such activities result in the reduction or elimination of the species present in a natural water body, we think of it as being polluted.

How many decimal places?

When I took classes out to lakes and streams to sample environmental variables and organisms present, students were often concerned with precision of their measurements.  There are some things where that is important, but temperature, pH, and oxygen content of the shallows of lakes can often show great cycling during a day.  Sun can (1) warm undisturbed surface waters rapidly, (2) stimulate high levels of photosynthesis causing (3) dissolved oxygen to rise.  At the same time alkalinity can change and carbonate deposition can occur.  So great precision is almost meaningless and results are variable from day to day depending on temperature and cloud cover.  For the same reason, small differences between different bodies of similar water are inadequate to be the sole reason for their characterization.  Salinity, phosphate, and toxic substances are things where greater precision is important.

There are plenty of other places where highest possible precision in measurements are important in research as well as in medical and other studies.


Most species have an optimal water temperature they will occupy if it is available.  In Michigan, lumbering reduced the shading of streams and made temperatures go to higher extremes in the summer so trout and other cool water species could not survive.  Erosion also increased and sometimes covered stream bottoms, changing the bottom fauna serving as food.

Mountain streams often erode rocks and other material during periods of snow melt or heavy rains and provide a heavy load of sediment in the water.  The picture below shows the clear waters from Lake Geneva on one side of the Rhone River while sediment laden water of the Arve River coming from the Alps is strikingly obvious on the opposite side.

                    Incomplete Mixing of the Arve and Rhone Rivers, 1952

Your municipal water supply intake siting should consider all possible variables to minimize problems.  A small outlet from a local lake had noticeable difference in surface water temperature and salinity within just a few inches.  The lake (Asylum Lake in Kalamazoo) has an elevated salt content in deeper water from deicing salt runoff from roads.  So much so that it does not mix completely with the upper water.  As the ice cover melted during a windless spring day, the surface layer did not mix much with the deeper water because flow was gentle and non-turbulent to the outlet.  The phenomenon* is not of much consequence but does illustrate the possibilities of unusual effects.


Tidal effects interacting with the mixing of sea and freshwater streams produce some interesting anomalies.  Large freshwater streams in the Northern Hemisphere tend to support freshwater organisms farther downstream on the right side as moving water is deflected to the right (but to the left in Southern Hemisphere) and salt water and marine species reach farther upstream on the opposite side for the same reason (called the Coriolis Effect).

*I submitted the observation to a water pollution journal about thirty years ago hoping they would publish it as a very short note.  But they wanted more than the one instance to justify the publication.  I did check other comparable locations and found it also occurred during the spring ice melt.  I thought it should alert pollution biologists to the need for more than one sample in streams under some circumstances to justify estimates of pollution loads below dams etc.  

Joseph G. Engemann     Kalamazoo, Michigan   March 16, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016



Although the terms poison and toxin are somewhat interchangeable, I went to the dictionary to get a clarification of my suspicion that there is a difference.  It brought me back to the years when I would occasionally teach a class entitled "Water Pollution Biology".  There is an overlap in their meanings but a toxin is more specifically a toxic (or poisonous) organic substance produced by an organism or generated during its decomposition.  In general, the poisonous or toxic effect begins at low concentrations.  Toxins are generally destroyed by heat but there are often variations in the toxins produced by different strains of bacteria that contaminate food.  A few have heat stable toxins that can survive boiling, so spoiled food is not made safe by sterilization.


The term is often applied to the increase of the body concentration of an aquatic pollutant at each step in the food chain.  Major concerns about this increase has often focused on mercury and some organic pesticides that are accumulated by predators and may have an approximately ten-fold increase with each level of the food chain.  Thus the concentration in algae may be x (number per unit of biomass).  The algae feeders may become 10 x, small fish may be 100 x, large fish 1,000 x, and fish eaters 10,000 x.

The increase can occur if the substance can neither be excreted nor metabolized effectively.  Thus mercury, especially a form converted into a organic compound, can be accumulated by its affinity for protein in the body.  DDT and many other halogenated (especially chlorine and bromine versions of biphenols) organic compounds accumulate in body fats because of their high solubility in fats and oils, but very low solubility in water.  The halogenated biphenyl like structure can be very similar to hormones in some part of the structure and thus even very low concentrations can wreck havoc with normal metabolism.

A similar concern surfaced when hearings regarding the building of a large nuclear power plant was proposed for along the shore of Lake Michigan.  Zero emissions in the cooling water to be discharged into the lake was sought because some algae were able to concentrate certain radioactive metals to 30,000 times their concentration in the water.  Other processes might concentrate the release still more and make the beach hazardous for sunbathers.  The plant was built without allowing such emissions.


Lead poisoning may have been part of the problems leading to the decline of the Roman Empire.  It is still a serious problem in the United States because of the past use of lead paint, lead anti-knock compounds in gasoline, and lead use in plumbing.  The first two have been phased out, but residual effects may still occur in older homes and perhaps roadside soils.  Use in plumbing and elsewhere has been eliminated or reduced, except for many service lines from water mains to older residences.  Municipal waterlines are usually protected by additives to the water that coats the line and minimizes lead in the water.

Hunters no longer routinely use lead shot or bullets when hunting for food items.  Lead glass has generally been eliminated in making decorative wine decanters and glassware.  When I was in high school I worked as a "printer's devil" in a newspaper print-shop; much of the type and other materials I handled was made of lead.  Can I blame all of my deficiencies today on that?


The mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure can make one frightened of the many uses asbestos was put to in the past.  Naturally occurring release of asbestos has probably always been part of out environment.  The fibrous crystals can break and release very fine fiber fragments that get into cells and perhaps act by disturbing the normal structure or function of chromosomes.  All of us probably have many such crystals in our bodies, but those with extremely high exposure and long term exposure are at great risk, a risk made much higher for smokers.

During my first year of college, I worked a four-hour shift five evenings a week in a furniture factory.  About two weeks were spent building a drying facility on the finishing line and lining it with sheet rock asbestos.  The sheets were fitted by cutting to needed size with a power hand saw.  The heavy asbestos dust soon activated my asthma that had been absent for several years following childhood desensitizing shots.  No respiratory or filter masks had been used.  Mesothelioma is more apt to be caused by a different one of the four main types of asbestos, especially if the fibers are small, fine, and airborne.


Variable response to exposure, when graphed, often shows the same bell-shaped curve shown by many biological phenomena.  Poisons and toxins are often characterized (LD50 or LC50) by the lethal dose (ingested - LD) or exposure to lethal concentrations (LC) in the water (aquatic organisms) or air (for air breathers) that kills 50% of those tested.  The range from no damage to 100% killed can be quite variable.  The threshold for a no concern exposure concentration is typically set many times beneath the value at which no affect is first observed.  If it cannot be metabolized or eliminated by excretion a greater margin of safety is used.

Most of us realize that too much or too little of a good thing, nutrient or otherwise, must temper our use of a substance.  Iodine and sugar are two substances of which too much can kill us, and too little may also be fatal.  Ethyl alcohol is not needed but is OK in small amounts, but lethal in large amounts.


Crude oils from different locations are often unique combinations of varying concentrations of a mix of volatile and non-volatile hydrocarbon compounds.  Some of the more volatile and toxic components dissipate into the atmosphere leaving longer chain waxes and oils of lower toxicity, but still dangerous to organisms by various physical effects such as clogging feathers, gills, or coating food items.  There is thought to be more crude oil released into the ocean from natural underwater leaks than from human caused events.  But the natural leaks are diffuse enough to allow oxidation and other processes of decontamination to occur naturally.  The massive leaks we are responsible for swamp the natural processes and cause a lot of damage.  Ultra-violet light can assist breakdown of volatile organic substances entering the atmosphere if quantities are not extreme.


1.  Eat a balanced diet.  Use sanitary processes in preparation.  Organically produced food is fine, but wash fruits and vegetables before using.  Use vegetable oils when appropriate.  Leafy green vegetables, colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grain products are generally good if quantities are reasonable.

2.  Take folic acid if you are pregnant, but check with your physician, it can help prevent fetal deformities induced by some pesticides.  If you don't eat seafood or live near the ocean, use iodized salt in moderation.

3.  Go light on servings of sweets and fatty meat, moderate on eggs, butter and whole milk.

4.  Scratch the above, and get some good-eating ideas from a vegan.


Pesticides in pork do not have as great a biological magnification effect because pigs eat and grow fat quickly and use less food to produce a pound of meat than do some other animals.  But bacon and other cured meats with added nitrates or nitrites can produce carcinogenic nitrosamines when browned at high heat; perhaps vitamin C or colorful fruits and vegetables reduce the danger.  The biblical prohibition of pork was a wise thing in days before the knowledge of how trichinosis and the trichina worm killed people.

Alcohol, fats, and oils all have about twice the calories per gram as compared to sugar and carbohydrates.  They do not provide fiber, but some may have a laxative effect.  Fiber is a better way to go with fruits, vegetables and whole grains being good sources.  Sorry, I didn't intentionally include a pun in the last statement.


A classical example of evolutionary adjustments was the industrial melanism exhibited by some moths in England during the industrial revolution.  Museum collections show increasing percentages of a dark (melanistic) phase attributed to their not becoming prey of birds when tree trunks became darker from smokestack emissions.  When trees became lighter after emissions were controlled the percentages of the dark phase decreased to near the original percentage.  Some researchers have questioned the accuracy of the phenomenon.

There are multiple possible ways evolutionary adjustments are made to survive toxins.  Sometimes metabolic processes can evolve protection by breaking down the substance, converting it to a non-toxic substance, or provide alternatives to a previously essential process.  Behavioral changes can minimize exposure.  A study of fly resistance to a pesticide in Scandinavia included use of bristles on the fly to ward off body contact with the pesticide.  So life goes on.

Joseph G. Engemann      Kalamazoo, Michigan      March 7, 2016