Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Kidneys - Our Beautiful Little Miracles

[one human kidney]

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located near the middle of the back, just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. The kidneys are sophisticated reprocessing machines. Every day, a person’s kidneys process all of the body's blood about 20 times. About 2 quarts of waste products and extra water are sifted out of blood each day. This becomes urine, which flows to the bladder through tubes called ureters. The bladder stores urine until releasing it through urination.

Wastes in the blood come from the normal breakdown of active tissues, such as muscles, and from food. The body uses food for energy and self-repairs. After the body has taken what it needs from food, wastes are sent to the blood. If the kidneys did not remove them, these wastes would build up in the blood and damage the body.

The actual removal of wastes occurs in tiny units inside the kidneys called nephrons. Each kidney has about a million nephrons. In the nephron, a glomerulus—which is a tiny blood vessel, or capillary—intertwines with a tiny urine-collecting tube called a tubule. The glomerulus acts as a filtering unit, or sieve, and keeps normal proteins and cells in the bloodstream, allowing extra fluid and wastes to pass through. A complicated chemical exchange takes place, as waste materials and water leave the blood and enter the urinary system.

At first, the tubules receive a combination of waste materials and chemicals the body can still use. The kidneys measure out chemicals like sodium, phosphorus, and potassium and release them back to the blood to return to the body. In this way, the kidneys regulate the body’s level of these substances. The right balance is necessary for life.

Total or nearly total and permanent kidney failure is called End-stage Renal Disease. If a person’s kidneys stop working completely, the body fills with extra water and waste products. This condition is called uremia. Hands or feet may swell. A person will feel tired and weak because the body needs clean blood to function properly.

Untreated uremia may lead to seizures or coma and will ultimately result in death.

There is a machine which engineers have invented to replace, to a limited extent, the kidneys. This machine is called a dialysis machine. It's about the size of a small cabinet. The patient must be attached to it for several hour sessions several times per week. People relying on dialysis generally survive five to ten years.

The Talmud mandates the following prayer following urination or defecation:

When he comes out from an outhouse says: 'Blessed is He who has formed man in wisdom and created in him many orifices and many cavities. It is fully known before the throne of Thy glory that if one of them should be [improperly] opened or one of them closed it would be impossible for a man to stand before Thee'. How does the blessing conclude? 'Who healest all flesh and doest wonderfully'.

Let's say that this blessing with the greatest intensity and enthusiasm. We should really cry tears of joy after each urination. Without kidneys, each one weighing about one third of a pound, life would be quite bleak at best.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Portrait of a Professor

[Amy Bishop assistant professor of biology at the University of Alabama in Huntsville]

According to news reports, Professor Bishop was charged yesterday morning with capital murder. At a faculty meeting on Friday afternoon, she allegedly drew a gun and shot to death three other professors. Apparently, she was angry because the university was about to terminate her.

This is exactly the type of person whom atheists trust regarding the truth of evolution, whether they, the atheists, understand it or not. After all, how could such geniuses be mistaken?

I've noticed that one of the Jewish skeptic blogs is doing a weekly "news roundup" featuring anything negative they can scrape up regarding Orthodox Jews. I wonder if anyone is doing the same for biology professors? It might make interesting reading.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Universe Proves There is a God

[Galaxy Triplet ARP 274 from the Hubble Space Telescope 04/03/2009]

The existence of our universe irrefutably demonstrates the existence of an incorporeal and incredibly powerful Creator.

Nothing physical can come into existence from nothing spontaneously; all objects are merely rearrangements of preexisting substances, but are never really new.

The universe cannot be infinitely old. The universe is constantly changing and change cannot continue forever. After however many billions or trillions of years the stars would have to burn out; everything would have to wear out, wind down and disintegrate. Just as a burning fire must have been lit at some point in the past or a working clock must have been started at some time so too at some point in the past the universe was created and set in motion by a tremendously powerful, eternal and incorporeal Creator, who exists forever, unbound by time and space.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Natural Laws Prove There is a God

[our Goldilocks Big Bang: neither too hot nor too cold, but "just right"]

One of the most remarkable things about the universe is that life is able to exist in it at all. In order for living things of any type to exist, there must be stars and planets. However in order for stars and planets to exist, the universe must possess a long list of natural properties.

Cosmologist Martin Rees in his book “Our Cosmic Habitat” (Princeton University Press, 2001, page 162) compares our universe having, by chance, all the properties needed for life to exist to the case of a prisoner standing in front of a firing squad of 50 marksmen and all of them taking aim, firing and all missing. He would naturally wonder why this happened.

We don’t know of any scientific reason why the universe must possess any of these properties, let alone all of them, so why does it?

The obvious answer is that God made the universe for the sake of man, so of course He made it hospitable for life. Just like a builder builds a home with a roof, ceiling, insulation, a kitchen, wiring, plumbing, windows, heating, air conditioning, etc. everything designed perfectly for the future occupants, so God built our world with all the properties needed to make life possible.

For those who refuse to believe in God, the only alternative is to believe that the observable universe is in fact merely one bubble within a vastly larger multiverse which includes many bubbles, each of which has different properties and some of which, just by chance, are capable of supporting life. What I dislike about that answer is that it seems more reasonable to say that things are what they appear to be unless proven otherwise. The universe appears to be designed and therefore it was designed.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Are We Robots?

A basic implication of atheism is that man has no soul and therefore no free will. After all, logically how could a soul evolve from microbes?

The atheistic perspective seems to be that man is a robot, no different basically than an electronic robot, which works automatically, based on a computer program (in this case, DNA) and environmental input.

The only thing unusual about the human robot is that it has self-awareness. I don’t think that the computer on my desk is aware of itself, however the human robot is aware of itself. Also, the human robot for some strange reason imagines that it is not behaving based on a pre-written program; rather it imagines that it is spontaneously, from moment to moment, deciding what to do. This, however, is a fantasy. According to atheists, everything which happens is predetermined by other causes; there is no causeless effect.

This would seemingly make the entire issue of morality irrelevant. Good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral is only relevant in regards to a being that can choose freely between different options. Regardless of what a robot does, it is not immoral because it does not choose anything. Perhaps the builder or programmer is immoral, however it makes no sense to put a robot in prison. And according to atheists, in the case of man, there is no intelligent builder. The mindless process of evolution created us. Hitler had to do what he did just like a volcano has to explode when it does. No matter what crime a person commits he can explain “my genes and environment made me do it”. Morality, like free will, is a fantasy.

A little while ago I exchanged email with Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker on this issue:

Question: If someone has committed a crime, is there any rational reason for him to feel guilt?
His answer: Guilt prompts one to repair harm caused to a person and not to repeat it, so if he has any ties to people and a community, then yes.

Question: Can he not console himself with the thought that he had no choice and he was under the control of his brain chemistry, environment, childhood experiences, etc.?
Answer: No, because his brain chemistry, environment, and so on can also lead him to inhibit the urge to commit a crime.

I’m not sure I fully understand him, however Professor Pinker's busy schedule doesn’t allow him to elaborate.

Professor Pinker argues in “The Blank Slate” chapter 10 that the criminal justice system should continue to function as usual, not for the reason that people usually understand, to bring criminals to justice, but rather to serve as a deterrent to other potential criminals. In other words, if a human robot goes haywire and damages other robots, we should kidnap him and lock him in a cage, not because he is evil, but because doing so will influence other human robots to behave more peacefully.

The fact is, that if we are merely dealing with poorly programmed robots that need to be controlled, the most obvious method would be eugenics. It is probably not that difficult to predict in advance which people have a higher likelihood of producing criminal children and simply sterilize them. This might prevent the vast majority of all crime while also controlling over population – two birds with one stone. This makes much more sense than to wait for a human robot to malfunction and do damage and then lock it up hoping that this will somehow influence other robots. Dell, for example, recalled all computers which had a defective battery, not only ones that actually caught on fire. Professor Pinker (The Blind Slate page 153) rejects eugenics because “The costs of freedom to the individuals and in possible abuse by authorities are unacceptable.” Why would it be more unacceptable than our present criminal justice system, which leaves many criminals free, some innocent people behind bars and many neighborhoods dangerous? I think we don’t accept eugenics because we believe that the criminal is responsible for his freely chosen behavior and he must be punished and the government has no right to sterilize people.

I think this demonstrates how atheism is fundamentally, deeply anti-humanistic. Once we remove “the ghost from the machine”, man’s soul, the divine spark, the image of God, whatever you want to call it, man is reduced to being not merely an ape, but to being an iPhone with limbs. This helps us understand why many atheists live alone and have few friends. Their lack of respect for others makes it difficult for them to form families and communities.

Seemingly, this denial of a spiritual component within man would deny the validity of egalitarianism, which is the basis of liberal democracy, and it would promote elitism. People’s inherent value should logically depend on their material attributes such as intellect, strength, beauty, wealth, etc. since only the material actually exists and has value.

In my humble opinion, the atheistic denial of free will is one of the clearest indications that atheism is illogical nonsense. I think we all know that we are not living in a real life version of The Stepford Wives.