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Feedback archiveFeedback 2012

At a loss to answer objections?

Published: 27 March 2012(GMT+10)

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Many times we can find ourselves at a loss when trying to answer objections when ‘on the front lines’ of evangelism. That is precisely why CMI exists—to equip Christians with those answers. Shaun F. from Australia writes, and Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s responses are interspersed:

Dear CMI, I couldn’t respond to some arguments my friend brought up (below) on various different topics. I’d appreciate it if you could help me out.

Dear Mr F.

Thank you for asking. You certainly came to the right place, because our website has about 8,500 articles on it, with a good search button and Q&A pages. That’s why, in the spirit of “teaching a man to fish” rather than “giving him a fish”, I’ll help you look for the information (of course, in Australia there is a danger that if you teach someone to fish, then he’ll sit on a boat all day drinking beer ).

Thanks “Its perfectly possible that something could come out of nothing. Think about it. A miracle is defined as a temporary and specific suspension of the laws of physics. So if you wanted to create another universe within our universe today you’d obviously need to suspend those laws.

Search the word miracles in the search box, and the first article that comes up is Miracles and science, which states, “it is better to call miracles an addition to natural laws rather than a loophole within them”. I think the article should help a lot.

However, did said laws exist before the universe did? Arguably not, and if not then no miracle has occurred. The laws of causality do not seem to be utterly set in stone like the concept that a triangle must have 3-sides. Events on the subatomic scale appear to be beholden to chance all the time.

Not so: please see If God created the universe, then who created God? (I must admit that here, one would need to think to search for words like “quantum fluctuation”),

As for the idea of the ‘heat death’ of the universe, think about it. The universe can only be ‘heat dead’ if it is infinitely vast, which means it must be infinitely old. So when will this have occurred by? Oh wait, that would be never.

An infinitely old universe will have reached heat death.

Isn’t that a problem though? An infinitely old universe will have reached heat death (searching these two words would find articles like The future—some issues for ‘long-age’ Christians)

It’s really just not possible for an infinite amount of time to have passed is it? As for the evolution of the eye this is really quite simple. A single mutation in a cell allows it to sense light. The cell then multiplies until you have a patch of photo-receptive cells. This gives the organism an advantage in natural selection and the mutation is carried along in subsequent generations. Eventually the patch of cells begins to bend inwards until the ‘eye’ can focus light, giving us the modern eye.

Search the word eye, and the first article that appears is Did eyes evolve by Darwinian mechanisms?

The appendix is quite obviously a vestigial organ as well. Herbivorous animals aren’t actually able to digest cellulose, the most abundant biological compound on earth that dominates the biology of plants and is one of the three main kinds of polysaccharide (complex sugars) alongside starch and glycogen, as they lack the required enzymes (chemical catalysts). Humans, cows, sheep, we all lack there. But cows and sheep can eat grass can’t they? How? Well if you’ve ever wondered why cows have about five stomachs it’s because some are filled with colonies of certain bacteria that can produce the required enzymes. These live in a symbiotic relationship with the cows as the cow digests (and gets energy from) the waste products of the bacteria instead of the grass itself. What role did the appendix play? That’s right, it used to house said colonies of bacteria in the ancestors of humanity before we evolved to be omnivorous.

The appendix today still has an important function as a bacterial safe house (search for appendix, and you will find Appendix a bacterial ‘safe house’ and More musings on our ‘useless’ appendix).

Even if it has some other minor functions these are relatively unimportant (having your appendix removed certainly doesn’t kill you) and don’t negate it’s status as a vestigial organ.

Here, searching for vestigial leads to Do any vestigial organs exist in humans? and Vestigial Organs Questions and Answers.

But here is something you couldn’t have found out from our web because it is due in the next issue of Creation mag, so it’s only fair that I should provide it for you, showing that removing the appendix has its drawbacks, despite your opponent’s assertion:

More evidence of our useful appendix (not a ‘vestige’ of evolution)

Clostridium difficile is a deadly bacterium frequently encountered in hospitals where patients undergo prolonged treatment with antibiotics. Usually this bacterium does not compete well with the native bacteria of the gut. That’s because many cases of resistance are caused by a ‘scorched-earth’ policy of degrading a receptor the antibiotic needs to latch on to—in this case, enzymes needed to unwind and duplicate DNA. Thus in most cases, ‘super-germs’ are super-wimps (see creation.com/anthrax and creation.com/superbugs).

The only real way to know the age of something is to find an eyewitness account.

But when patients’ useful native bacteria are depleted, as is the case after several courses of antibiotics, the way is paved for C. difficile to multiply quickly and take over. It is in this period after treatment that patients are in the greatest danger of a recurrence of C. difficile.
Now researchers led by Dr James Grendell of Winthrop University-Hospital’s division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition have found that patients without an appendix were four times more likely to have a recurrence of the deadly pathogen than patients who still had their appendix. (I.e. 48% of cases vs 11% of cases respectively.)
In the last few years, researchers have shown that the appendix serves as a ‘safe house’ for beneficial bacteria in our gut. This allows them to be restored in the event of depletion (e.g. after a severe gut infection such as cholera)—see creation.com/appendix3.
[References] The appendix may protect you against Clostridium difficile recurrence, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 9:1072–1077, 2012.
Your appendix could save your life, blogs.scientificamerican.com, 2 January 2012.
Finally, if the world was really created just a few thousand years ago, exactly when? Where does the historical accuracy of this chart break down for instance”

That’s the thing: the only real way to know the age of something is to find an eyewitness account—see The earth: how old does it look? Scientific ‘dating’ methods all have assumptions—see How dating methods work.

Hope this is useful. Happy reading!

Regards
Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D.
Head scientist, CMI-USA (formerly Australia)

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A reader’s comment
Scott M., United States, 28 March 2012

Hi, toward the end of your article: are you implying that the human appendix was created with modern antibiotics in mind?

Jonathan Sarfati responds

No, only that it's an interesting benefit that stems from its role as a bacterial safe house.

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