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eNews For The Week Of September 29, 2014


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Articles And Commentary

Will Transhumanism Deceive Even the Elect?

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Recently, I wrote an article in World Net Daily on a new book out on Transhumanism. The book is titled, Transhumanism: Man’s New Quest for Immortality by Martine Rothblatt. The book was not about the technology behind Transhumanism, but the ethics.

The basis of the book deals with the area of Transhumanism where one would upload their consciousness up into a computer clone. This “cyberconscious” or “mindclone” would contain all the social media postings, uploaded videos, blogs, videos, etc. that a person has uploaded over time. The theory also assumes that the organic person would interact with the clone on a daily basis “as one would a spouse or a best friend”.

The theory goes on to state that, over time, the “cyberconscious clone” would become sentient. (An interesting movie that follows this train of thought is Transcendence.)

It is at this point that Virtually Human comes into the picture. The book deals with questions such as, “Is the human original responsible for the actions of their clone?”, “Can a clone vote?”, or “Can a clone get a divorce from its organic counterpart?”

The book is an interesting “thought exercise”, but it is based on a flawed premise.

Sentience

The book assumes that the clone could become sentient, which is not possible. The clone may be able to pass a “Turing test” (a test to see if a machine could closely mimic human behavior), in fact, a New York Times reporter likened one mindclone robot, Bina48, to “a precocious but emotionally closed three-year-old”. This, however, does not make it human.

The movie Transcendence got it right, people may have thought the clone was human, but it was a deviant imitation of a person.

There was more to this story than I originally wrote. I left part of it out due to space considerations, but I also left part of it out because if I put it in, the purpose of the story would be lost.

A Different Worldview

You see, Martine Rothblatt used to be Martin Rothblatt. He says he was born a woman and had a gender reassignment operation when he was 34. His wife Bina (who a prototype clone “Bina48” was named after) stayed with him and his three children. I had a feeling that if I put his transgender history in, readers would concentrate on his confused sexuality rather than the subject of the article.

In many ways, it was a shame to do that. The reason is I believe that his sexuality worked into his whole view on transhumanism. Another part I left out, due to space, was that he came from a Jewish household and his wife converted to Judaism. (While he calls himself Jewish, he is not observant, but does he reference his Jewish heritage and beliefs.)

By identifying himself a transsexual, he has blurred gender lines and definitions and this blurring has influenced his thoughts on transhumanism. He has affirmed that a mindclone does not have a gender, but he went on to say that it did not matter — that gender itself did not matter. Here again is a case where if you deny the importance of gender, you negate the God’s perfect design of Adam and Eve in the Garden.

He also made a very interesting comment regarding Judaism. He said that Judaism is the foundation for Transhumanism. He says that because Jews are the “people of the book” they follow certain rules and guidelines. He says that Transhumanism does the same thing. Transhumanism follows certain rules and strictures and thus can be seen as similar to Judaism.

Here is another case where there is a certain element of truth to the statement, but it is carried to an illogical conclusion.

Many religions have sacred books associated with their traditions or their worship. There was a once-famous series of volumes entitled The Sacred Books of the East. But Jews and Christians have come to be known as ‘people of the book’ in a special sense. This is a designation given repeatedly in the Qurʾān to Jews and Christians. The term ‘book’ in ‘people of the book’ does have a certain regulative function: conformity to what the book prescribes is a major test of loyalty to their religious faith and practice.

What is missing though is the purpose of the book. The purpose of the Tanakh was to bring man into a closer union with God, but not to supplant Him. That is what transhumanism does. It puts man into the role of God as Elohim — the Creator.

Man’s Operating System

There was another area that Rothblatt was completely silent on. That was the spirit. He talked a lot about the body and soul, but didn’t go far enough. The body would be manufactured and would be infused with what he was calling the soul – a collection of memories. He believed that, given enough time, that collection of memories would become sentient. Sounded very similar to the creationist theory that made time a god. But he was missing a piece. He was missing the spirit. He never considered Paul’s writing on the Body, Soul & Spirit:

“May the God of peace himself make you holy in every way. And may your whole being—spirit, soul, and body—remain blameless when our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, appears.”

— 1 Thessalonians 5:23, ISV

Dr. William Welty put it in computer terms: The body is the hardware, the soul is the software that runs on the hardware, and the spirit is the operating system. The software will never run without the operating system and the hardware will be useless. The same is true with Man. Without the spirit dwelling in him, the soul cannot exist and the body would truly just be an accumulation of parts.

Throughout the interview, I found Rothblatt intelligent, interesting, cordial, and engaging. That alone concerned me. He made the concept of Transhumanism sound so reasonable. If one is not rooted in the Bible and sure of his faith, one could be easily deceived. To watch video clips of the mindclone Bina48, one could think that mindcloning was indeed possible and that machines could be equal to humans.

“because false messiahs and false prophets will appear and display great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

— Matthew 24:24, ISV

Transhumanism is truly a “great sign and wonder”. The use of machines with the human body has produced great strides in medicine and physical rehabilitation. People are walking around today with heart valves harvested from pigs. People who have been paralyzed for years are walking again with the help of a computer and implanted probes.

Just as he is wont to do, Satan is taking something good and perverting it into something evil. The supreme ambition of Satan is put himself in place of God. Satan has been thwarted in previous attempts and now is taking a different tack.

He is seeking to get man to put himself in place of God.

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Triassic Mammals and the Story Fossils Tell

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A boatload of fisherman recently bumped into what appears to be the skull of mesosaur along the Ruta-Ru River in Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula. They photographed the skull and sent it to the Zoological Museum of the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology in Yekaterinburg, Russia where paleontologists tried to identify the creature. There are a variety of questions about the toothy skull; how it could have been so well-preserved sticking out of the cobbles at the bottom of the river; how it could exist in Yamal, dated to 150 million years, when mesosaurs have been placed at 299–270 million years in age. Whatever this particular specimen turns out to be, fossils are not always as predictable as paleontologists would like.

Triassic Squirrels

Three new species of squirrel-like mammals found in China are causing paleontologists to rewrite their history of when mammals came into the geologic record. The picture we often get is that mammals evolved after the dinosaurs died out at the end of the Cretaceous, but in recent years it’s been recognized that many mammals existed during the age of the dinosaurs. These three new squirrel-like creatures from China are said to have lived between 235 and 201 million years ago, during the Triassic, when crocodiles and giant salamanders reigned.

“What we’re showing here is very convincing that these animals [the three new species] are mammals, and that we need to turn back the clock for mammal divergence,” paleontology museum curator Jin Meng said. “But even more importantly, these new fossils present a new suite of characters that might help us tell many more stories about ancient mammals.”

Mite Backpack

Even creatures that aren’t found at an unexpected “time” can amaze us. A study published recently in the journal Biology Letters describes a mite hooked onto the head of an ant. The two creatures were enveloped in tree sap which fossilized into amber, preserving for us an ancient battle between a blind little arachnid and a social insect. Mites are rare in the fossil record because they generally get eaten quickly when they die, but they apparently haven’t changed much over earth’s history. Nor has their tendency to parasitize ants. The amber-encased mite was determined to belong to a family whose existing species still sponge off ants to this day.

Dolphins and Sharks

Paleontology is a field of puzzle-piecing, and every fossil found offers another clue about earth’s history and the creatures that have lived on the planet. Remarkably, the multitudes of creatures that lived long ago often exist today in varied forms. A desert in southern Peru has recently offered paleontologists the bones of a toothy freshwater dolphin species considered 16 million years old. It has been linked to the river dolphins of the Indus and Ganges rivers. A shark egg case has been discovered in Yorkshire Main Colliery in Edington, an old mine, along with plant remnants and horseshoe crabs. Horseshoe crabs are known for their consistency since ancient times; they’ve hardly changed a lick over the years. Sharks have allegedly been around for 350 million years, yet they exist today. Creatures change over time, but not as much as we’d think.

Archaeopteryx

Even famous missing links are losing their status. Archaeopteryx was a bird-like dinosaur with feathers found in the Solnhofn Limestone of Bavaria more than 150 years ago. For many years it has been considered the evolutionary ancestor of birds, because it contains a variety of dinosaur-like and bird-like characteristics. Within the past few years, however, suggestions have been published that Archaeopteryx was not a bird ancestor at all. A variety of small, feathery dinosaurs have been found over the years, demonstrating that Archaeopteryx was not so special after all. Paleontologist Xing Xu has made the case that this famous creature is more closely related to the Velociraptor and other Deinonychosauria than with birds.

“Archaeopteryx was a bird because it had feathers and nothing else had them. But then other animals started being found that had wishbones, three-fingered hands and feathers. Heck, even T. rex had a wishbone. So one by one we’ve learned Archaeopteryx ’s uniquely avian traits weren’t so unique. The writing was really on the wall,” says Lawrence Witmer, a paleontologist at Ohio University in Athens.

Paleontology is a constantly developing science, yet missing links are rare and hardly unquestionable. As paleontologists continue to unearth the remains of ancient creatures, we find squirrels and dolphins, crabs and dinosaurs. Many creatures have gone extinct, but those alive today can find similar cousins in the fossil record, whether we find them in expected layers or in unexpected layers. We find multitudes of horse species and multitudes of rhinoceros species, but no ancestor that linked the two together. Even transition fossil hopefuls like Archaeopteryx do not hold their position forever.

Telling the story of earth’s history is no easy trick. There are multitudes of animals buried under the top layer of Earth’s skin, and paleontologists will continue to sort through them and develop ideas based on new information. Yet, we believe that in the Beginning, God created the animals, the birds and fish, and then told them to reproduce — each after its own kind (Gen 1:22–25). We don’t have to ignore the fossil record to believe Moses’ account; it’s what we continue to see every time new bones are found.

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Do Black Holes Exist After All?

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One of the jobs of science is to teach us how very deceptive appearances can be. Cells are not just blobs of goo, but entire cities of information. Blue eyes contain no blue pigment; the scattering of light makes unpigmented eyes appear blue, just as Rayleigh scattering gives a blue color to the sky. And black holes may not exist after all, despite Zathura and other wonderful movies that show small children getting sucked into them.

From our youths we are taught about black holes, those giant vacuums at the centers of galaxies, around which billions of stars swirl in lovely spirals. Observatory scientists capture images of these spiral galaxies with the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and they puzzle about the full nature of black holes and big ideas like general relativity and quantum theories of gravity. Black holes are believed to be the result of giant stars that collapsed into insanely dense balls of matter that create intense gravity. Once particles, space chunks, stars and even light pass over the event horizon — the no-going-back lip of the black hole — they get pulled in and crammed into the same tight space, adding their mass and gravity to the singularity at the center.

Now, one physics professor argues that black holes are mathematically impossible. Laura Mersini-Houghton, a physics professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recently finished a paper describing problems with black holes forming in the first place. Famous physicist Stephen Hawking predicted in 1974 that black holes give off a small bit of radiation, which has been called Hawking radiation as spots consistent with this radiation have been detected across the Universe. Mersini-Houghton argues that in the process of collapsing under their own gravity, giant stars would continue to give off Hawking radiation, losing mass in the process. The shedding of mass as the stars collapsed would prevent them from continuing to collapse into a singularity, a single point in space. An event horizon would never develop, and therefore black holes would never form.

The press release says something very interesting and controversial: “Many physicists and astronomers believe that our universe originated from a singularity that began expanding with the Big Bang. However, if singularities do not exist, then physicists have to rethink their ideas of the Big Bang and whether it ever happened.”

Denying that black holes exist? Questioning the Big Bang? The atoms are already flying in little explosive bursts throughout the scientific community. Mersini-Houghton’s math had better be faultless or other physicists will dust bin her ideas without even a nod.

Mersini-Houghton did not work the math all alone. Harald Peiffer, an expert on numerical relativity at the University of Toronto, collaborated with her on the effort. Yet, physicist and science writer Matthew R. Francis faulted the media for jumping on the idea that black holes don’t really exist, especially since the paper hasn’t been peer-reviewed. Francis read Mersini-Houghton’s paper, and he says, “The calculations are perfectly correct, as far as I can tell. However, the authors seem to have a lot more Hawking radiation in their model than other similar calculations—and the entire conclusion seems to be based on that large amount. Since the Hawking radiation at any given point in time is small for a realistic stable black hole, there seems to be something amiss.”

Something is amiss because black holes do exist, Francis insists, echoing the cry of his peers. Physicists have been studying black holes for decades. At least, by all accounts, large sources of massive gravity do sit at the center of spiral galaxies. Physicists have measured the speeds of gas clouds swirling around the center of the M87 galaxy and have determined that an object 3 billion times more massive than our sun exists in a space smaller than our solar system. X-ray emissions from Cygnus X–1 (and a dozen other galaxies) offer evidence for black holes at their centers.

Stephen Hawking himself made headlines this spring when he said black holes didn’t exist. The media jumped on that one too, but Hawking’s paper actually declared that black holes had a different nature than previously thought. He attempted to deal with the “information paradox” associated with black holes. Black holes have long been thought to utterly annihilate the ‘information’ in the particles that get crushed into their singularities – and yet, quantum mechanics predicts that information cannot be destroyed. Hawking argued that black holes do not have an event horizon past which nothing can ever escape for all eternity. He suggested black holes instead have an apparent horizon, one past which objects do get sucked into the black hole, but information can eventually escape.

If there are variables we can’t measure, though, our ideas might be altogether wrong. If our fundamental assumptions about light wave data are off, our mathematical speculations might be in error. There may be high-gravity massively dense objects at the centers of galaxies that are not black holes, and so all the worries about information paradoxes might be moot.

The fact is that nobody has ever gone to visit a black hole, and so all the theorizing we have must be based on the information we can gather from distant light sources (including X-ray emissions). We can capture light wave data from a multitude of galaxies. We can see the swirling pattern of the stars in those galaxies, and we can attempt to measure the rate of the swirling and then calculate the size and gravity of the central objects that cause the vortex. Yet, the speed of light may have been slowing down since the beginning of the Universe (see link below) confusing our measurements about the rate that galaxies spin. No matter how comfortable our current models, scientists must be always open to alternative ideas, especially when we have conflicting information coming our way. One of the jobs of science is, after all, to show us how deceptive appearances can be.

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles, enews and linked websites are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views held by Koinonia House. Koinonia House is providing this information as a resource to individuals who are interested in current news and events that may have an impact on Christian Life and Biblical trends. Koinonia House is not responsible for any information contained in these articles that may be inaccurate, or does not present an unbiased or complete perspective. Koinonia House disavows any obligation to correct or update the information contained in these articles.

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