Let me count the ways: more evidence of higher intelligence

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Numbers are all around us.  We can’t see them, but they are there.  Not only are they there; we depend upon them.

Think about it.  Numbers determine what time of day it is.  They tell us when we need to wake up for work, and when we can leave each day.  They tell us the distance we will have to travel in order to get to work, or to get anywhere.  Numbers tell us how fast we are going when we drive down the interstate or traverse a mall parking lot.  Numbers tell us where we can find the History Channel, and at what time Vikings will be on.  We gauge how many children we have, how much money we make, how much savings we have, how old we are, and how long we have been married with numbers.  Many people even battle numbers every time they step on the weight scales.

In truth, there is scarcely a single aspect of life that does not involve numbers.

There is certainly a major metaphysical issue to resolve here.  Chiefly, we must ask ourselves why abstract objects—objects that are neither physically nor concretely detectable—correspond with essentially everything in our physical, concretely-detectable world.  But that is for another time.  For now, I would like to evaluate just how important particular numbers are, and what they might be able to tell us about the construction of our world.  Have you ever considered the numbers three and seven?

Let’s start with seven.  There are seven continents on planet Earth.  There are seven Wonders of the Modern World, seven Wonders of the Ancient World, seven Natural Wonders of the World, and other debated lists of seven “wonders”.  There are seven days in a week.  Clearly, the most famous religious text in all of history—the Bible—discusses its share of sevens.  Seven shows up in such things as the days of the creation narrative, the days that the Israelites marched around the city of Jericho, the three-fold series of seven visions (seals, bowls of wrath, and trumpets) in the book of Revelation, Jesus’ seven “signs and discourses” in the Gospel of John, and many, many others.

In more modern times, we can see that there are seven numbers that comprise a phone number.  There are two primary reasons for this.  The first is that seven digits was a logical step from the previous four-digit number sequence because it allowed a much greater range of combinations as more and more people began to use a telephone.  Eventually seven wasn’t enough, and so a three-digit area code was added to front of each phone number.  Imagine that: three plus seven.  But there is a more intriguing reason why seven is a suitable figure for something like a telephone number.  It turns out that countless studies have shown that the longest sequence of numbers that most of us can recall at the spur of the moment is seven.  When psychologist George Miller made this discovery 1956, he dubbed this limit the “magical number seven”.  This corresponds with the reality that the brain’s short-term memory can hold about seven chunks of information.  Magic it is, George.  The number seven is built into the way our brains function.

While the number seven is quite notable within the history of our planet, the number three has been considerably more prevalent.  In ancient architecture, the Pyramids at Giza are perhaps the most well-known of the building projects in all of history, and there are three of them.  These pyramids align with Orion’s Belt, which is made up of three major stars within the constellation.  Both the Hopi Mesas and the pyramid complex in Teotihuacán also align with Orion’s Belt.  Bear in mind that the Hopi Mesas are found in Arizona and that Teotihuacán is located in Mexico.  This means that ancient civilizations from Egypt, North America, and South America shared both a fascination with the number three and an advanced understanding of astronomy.  Pyramids are of course triangular in shape, so they have three sides.

The number three also shows up in some of the world’s most prominent religions.  In Mahāyāna Buddhism, there are three great beings that collectively govern the universe— Amitābha, Avalokiteśvara, and Mahāsthāmaprāpta.  If we look to the Hindu faith, we also see a very obvious connection to the number three.  The three chief deities—collectively known as the “Trimurti”, or the three forms of God—are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.  Interestingly, Shiva is often depicted as carrying a trident (a three-pronged spear) that is roughly supposed to represent his three essential powers of will, action and knowledge.  The Bible is no stranger to the number three, certainly.  Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a great fish.  The apostle Peter denied Jesus three times, and was later questioned by Jesus three times in accordance with the denials.  Jesus was in the tomb for parts of three days.  Most notably, there are three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit— that collectively comprise the Christian God, or the Trinity.  Many cultures customarily give people three names, which you may note about yourself and those around you.  There are three major branches of science: the natural, formal, and social sciences.  There are even three branches of the United States federal government.  This is just a tiny sampling of all the threes and sevens one could find when they survey the globe and human history.

Clearly, specific numbers (like seven and three) have special significance for human beings, and they always have.  But how could we explain this phenomenon?

In an effort to make sense of this peculiar situation, we must first understand the full breadth of the issue.  It wasn’t simply one group in history who held to the importance of specific numbers, nor were the significance of these numbers bound to only a few localities.  Far from it.  The vast majority of the civilized world operates on a seven-day schedule, regardless of the time-zone or continent.  The ancient Egyptians were thousands of miles from the Hopi, but both shared an infatuation with employing the use of threes in their architecture.  Buddhism originated thousands of miles from the birthplace of the Judeo-Christian tradition, yet they were both insistent that their divine progenitors existed in the nature of three persons or entities.  The writings that form the Bible were written over a period of at least one thousand years, spanning a myriad of writing locations, and are the product of many dozens of unique authors.  Yet—as you might imagine—the obsession with the numbers seven and three (twelve and forty are also quite prevalent) is ubiquitous throughout the Bible’s pages.  Prophets from the 8th century B.C. (like Jonah) and fishermen living in the first century A.D. (like Peter), and all manner of people in between, shared a connection with the aforementioned numbers.

To go back for a moment, it is also important to ask how various pyramid sets of three happened to align with Orion’s Belt to begin with; no rational person doubts that this phenomenon suggests a truly mystifying understanding of both architecture and astronomy in the ancient world.  Throwing that issue into the mix, we are left with a real head-scratcher.  Cultures from vastly different eras and locations, who had different levels of technology and astronomical understanding, and who possessed different religious perspectives, all seemed to converge on a nearly universal agreement about the significance of the numbers three and seven.  Shoot, people who live across the street from one another can scarcely agree on issues of religion, politics, or any other matter of importance!

One possible explanation for this could be that some of the earliest cultures developed fascinations with these numbers and essentially influenced those who would follow them.  But that is rather easy to dismiss.  The spatial and temporal separations between these cultures won’t allow that possibility.  A worldwide connection simply isn’t going to arise from one regional belief, at least not one that can be seen in cultures that temporally paralleled one another.  As in the case of Christianity, it would take a great deal of time to spread across the seven continents.  Perhaps, then, we could suggest some sort of cosmic coincidence?  No, because the inverse situation would apply and the incredible connection between these separated cultures concerning the number three (for example) would negate any possibility of raw chance or happenstance.  There would be a better chance of finding the ark of covenant in the city of Atlantis, with Jimmy Hoffa buried inside.  It would appear that this phenomenon cannot be accounted for by pure chance, or even by a subjective, group-think belief that rubbed off on the rest of the world.  So what is left?

As Giorgio Tsoukalos of Ancient Aliens is often caricatured as suggesting, “I’m not saying it was aliens . . . but it was aliens.”  Now, part of what I want to do on the Angel-Aliens site is to begin to truly define what we mean by terms like “extraterrestrials” or “aliens”, but for the purposes of this blog I am not concerned with definitively defining these terms.  We must fight the urge to freak-out about the word “alien”, for at least a moment.  Let’s look at this on a very basic level.  If by the word “alien” we simply mean “a being of higher power and intelligence that is not confined to planet Earth”, then we should all be able to admit that “aliens” are indeed a possibility for the global and historical connection we see in the numbers three and seven.  More than that, aliens may be the only satisfying explanation.

What else could explain the fact that very primitive cultures that were often separated by thousands of miles developed an obsession with the numbers three and seven?  What else would explain the fact that humanity has emphasized these numbers since history began to be recorded, up to the present day?  What else could explain the fact that the number seven seems to be hardwired into our mental makeup?  What could better explain the interstellar relationships seen in the alignment of primitive, man-made pyramids and constellations in distant space?

Does it not stand to reason that an objective observer is needed in all of this?  Isn’t it at least reasonably possible that a being/s who has greater knowledge of the cosmos, and an ability to communicate with human beings who lived (or live) both in vastly different locations and at vastly different times, relayed the importance of the numbers seven and three to us?  If we are being completely honest, we would all have to agree that such a notion is not only reasonable, but is actually probable.  But here we are again—we have to be willing to be honest, and follow the facts wherever they may lead.

Who knows: maybe this being/s even programmed these numbers (and others) into the very fabric of the cosmos.

But that issue is better left for another inquiry . . . and another blog.

References

Coppens, Phillip. The Ancient Alien Question: A New Inquiry Into the Existence, Evidence, and Influence of Ancient Visitors. Pompton Plains, NJ: New Page Books, 2012.

Schenkman, Lauren. “In the Brain, Seven Is A Magic Number”. ABC News.  6 Dec. 2009. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/brain-memory-magic-number/story?id=9189664

“Why We Use 7 Digits and Other Fun Phone Facts”. Allconnect. 2 May, 2016 https://www.allconnect.com/blog/why-we-use-7-digits-and-other-fun-facts/

A Crick word about the origin of life

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In my first blog on the angel-alien website, I would like to begin with something basic.  I do not mean “basic” to be understood as intellectually simple or unimportant.  Believe me; this topic is anything but simple or unimportant.  Instead, I intend the word “basic” to be equated with something more like the term “foundational.”  I would like to start with something that far too many well-intentioned people have never truly pondered, and something that those who hold to a slavishly materialistic worldview are (and always have been) either too disinterested or too afraid to explore.  Let’s start with life, and how it originated on this planet.

While Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution has been the dominant explanation for how life diversified on planet Earth since the latter part of the 19th century—and has been rather errantly dominant, in my opinion—the issue of abiogenesis (how life ever arose from non-life in first place) has had no equivalently “concrete” explanation.  That may be an understatement; science doesn’t have a clue how inorganic materials could have given rise to organic creatures.  Don’t allow the academic elite to tell you otherwise.  They have theories, yes, but no naturalistic explanation has emerged from the pack as a suitable match for the problem.

And what precisely is the problem?  Besides the inescapable impossibility of getting living matter from non-living matter, one of the major issues is the sheer complexity of life.  We see this wherever we look, particularly when we examine ourselves.  Researchers Ron Milo and Ron Sender—of the Weizmann Institute of Science—have proposed that the typical male body is made up of some thirty trillion cells.  Many scientists have actually hypothesized that there could be trillions more than that.  It is not simply the number that is baffling, either, but the complexity found within each one of those thirty trillion cells. With our ever-increasing understanding of the nature of the cell, we see that even the simplest units of life are anything but simple.  When asked on Ben Stein’s documentary, Expelled, what he would compare a human cell with—in comparison to the “simple” cell that Charles Darwin understood—esteemed philosopher David Berlinski simply replied, “a galaxy.”  Various others have suggested that an individual cell contains more information than the engineering on display within entire cities.  Harold P. Klein, the “father of Exobiology”, summarized the complexity involved in even basic life perfectly:  “The simplest bacterium is so damn complicated . . . that it is almost impossible to imagine how it happened.”

Yes, life is that complicated.  It is that complex.

If the cell is such an amazingly intricate masterpiece, it should go without saying that everything comprised of mass collections of cells is all the more astonishing and naturalistically difficult to explain.  The nature of DNA has been another area where we are continuously baffled.  Speaking of Francis Crick’s (discussed momentarily) “Sequence Hypothesis”, philosopher of science Stephen Meyer observed the following:

 “. . . it was the idea that along the spine of the DNA molecule there were four chemicals that functioned just like alphabetic characters in a written language or digital characters in a machine code. The DNA molecule is literally encoding information into alphabetic or digital form. And that’s a hugely significant discovery, because what we know from experience is that information always comes from an intelligence, whether we’re talking about hieroglyphic inscription or a paragraph in a book or a headline in a newspaper. If we trace information back to its source, we always come to a mind, not a material process. So the discovery that DNA codes information in a digital form points decisively back to a prior intelligence.”

In case one has an issue with the fact that I mentioned Stephen Meyer—who is currently the chief proponent of the Intelligent Design movement—other fields of scientific inquiry have lead us to precisely the same realizations about the information contained within DNA.  Bioengineer George Church and geneticist Sri Kosuri were able to store roughly 700 terabytes of data in a single gram of DNA.  The experiment was performed at Harvard’s Wyss Institute.  The reality that DNA contains a type of informational code, and that the best explanation for this informational code is that it has been written by some type of intelligent being/s, is a reality that crosses many realms of science.  It now seems to be an inescapable conclusion.

The more we understand about the nature of the cell and human DNA, the less “natural” it all looks.  Science has not explained how life originated on Earth, and it may not even be capable of accounting for the incredible complexity of life with any purely naturalistic hypothesis.

At some point, the typical variety of materialistic explanations—explanations that do not allow the possibility of something like a metaphysical “god” or a deity—had to give way to rather unconventional ones.

Enter the theories of panspermia.  Broadly speaking, the term “panspermia” refers to the idea that the basic compounds responsible for life originated elsewhere in the universe, and somehow ended up on earth and developed from there.  Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist Francis Crick (with chemist Leslie Orgel) hypothesized that the difficulties in explaining both the origin of life and its incredible complexity may be best explained by intelligent beings from somewhere else in the cosmos.  In simpler terms, extraterrestrials are responsible for life on earth. This view was called “directed panspermia”, denoting that intelligent beings had “directed” this process on earth.  Yes, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist theorized that aliens seeded life on earth.

One of the primary reasons for Crick’s hypothesis was the nature of the aforementioned complexity of DNA.  Having co-discovered the nature of the DNA molecule with Dr. James Watson, Crick knew as well as anyone what type of incredible engineering was involved within it.  Specifically, the DNA molecule overwhelmingly appears to have been intelligently engineered.  Bear in mind that Crick was not some Jesuit priest or worldwide Christian evangelist; he was a man cut entirely from the cloth of secular science.  I suspect this is the only reason that his suggestion that a higher intelligence was responsible for the biological world was permitted to begin with, much less the reason why it is still around today.

But that’s just it—the scientific theory that life on Earth actually began somewhere else in the cosmos is not only still around, but it is more prevalent than ever.  This is one of the dirty little secrets that most within the evolutionary community simply do not want the world to know.  A 2004 article written by M.J. Burchell in the International Journal of Astrobiology discussed, among other things, the mathematical probabilities that life could have arrived here from other places (like Mars) in the universe.  A 2012 article in the Journal of Cosmology—titled “Transfer of Life-Bearing Meteorites from Earth to Other Planets”—discusses the various issues surrounding panspermia as well.  In fact, the entire May 2010 edition of the Journal of Cosmology  was comprised of articles dealing with the topic, “Panspermia: Transfer of Life Between Stars, Galaxies & Planets.”  Books have been written as well; Chandra Wickramasinghe’s 2014 work The Search for Our Cosmic Ancestry being one of the more recent examples.

I could go on, but the point should be clear: the notion that life arrived on Earth from somewhere else in the universe is not a fringe idea, but has been advanced by highly-trained, intelligent scientists around the globe.

Who could miss the irony of it all?  Those who are, as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, slavishly materialistic have no problem labeling aliens as the cause of life on earth but shriek in terror at the forbidden “G” word (I mean God, of course).  Putting that aside for the time being, this entire discussion produces some interesting prospects.  Did extraterrestrials from another planet seed life on earth and engineer our progress, as ancient astronaut theorists suggest?  Is a metaphysical being like Yahweh responsible for the creation and proliferation of the human race, as literally hundreds of millions of Jews and Christians profess?  These are very important questions.  These are in fact the key questions couched within the angel-alien discussion.  Future investigations into the theory of directed panspermia may in fact be able to help us discover the true nature of our maker/s.

But for the moment, it is important to stop and take stock of these developments.  The essential point here is that those from the “ancient astronaut” background and those of us who believe in a creator God can do two things with regards to this issue: we can first extend our hands to one another in a gesture of unification, and we can also turn and do the same with many from within the scientific community.  If people from these various backgrounds—backgrounds that are often found to be in serious conflict with one another—can actually agree about one of the most foundational and important aspects of our existence, then perhaps there is genuine hope that other bridges can be built in the future.  Perhaps we can even work together in an effort to more fully understand the nature of the beings that are responsible for our species.

What could possibly be more important than that?

References

Anthony, Sebastian. “Harvard cracks DNA storage, crams 700 terabytes of data into a single gram”. Extreme Tech. 17 August, 2012.                               https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/134672-harvard-cracks-dna-storage-crams-700-terabytes-of-data-into-a-single-gram]

Biola Magazine, 2010.   http://magazine.biola.edu/article/10-summer/can-dna-prove-the-existence-of-an-intelligent-desi/

Burchell, M.J. “Panspermia today”. International Journal of Astrobiology. 24 December 2004. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-astrobiology/article/panspermia-today/6BD35AABC8832E4990AAA704B867489F

Hara,Tetsuya, Kajiura, Daigo Takagi, Kazuma. “Transfer of Life-Bearing Meteorites from Earth to Other Planets”. Journal of Cosmology.  8 Apr 2012.  https://arxiv.org/abs/1204.1719

Journal of Cosmology. May, 2010. http://journalofcosmology.com/Contents7.html

“Panspermia: Transfer of Life Between Stars, Galaxies & Planets”.  Journal of Cosmology. http://journalofcosmology.com/Contents7.html

Sender, R., Fuchs, S. & Milo, R. Preprint on bioRxiv http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/036103 (2015).“Can DNA Prove the Existence of an Intelligent Designer?”

Purpose of Angels-Aliens

This is the post excerpt.

It is truly astonishing how many strange things have happened on planet Earth. As I say in God Made the Aliens:

“The universe we inhabit is full of mystery, and there are many questions for which we will probably never have satisfying answers. More incredible things have happened on our own tiny planet than we will ever know about, much less be able to fully comprehend.”

This site involves all of those things we struggle to comprehend. From what happens at death, to biblical giants, to evidence for God, and most things in between, I cover it all. The goal is truth: plain and simple.

Will you join me in following the truth, wherever it may lead?