I must say that I was thrilled to see the title for the ninth episode of The Cosmos. The reason for my excitement was that I knew that the ‘Electric Boy’ was none other than Bible believing creationist and celebrated genius, Michael Faraday. Our narrator, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, opens this segment by asking, “Can you see me? Can you hear me? How? I could be thousands of miles away. Yet, when you turn on whatever device is bringing my image and voice to you, I’m there instantaneously. How is that possible?”
Dr. Tyson continues, “To our ancestors, it would have seemed like sorcery. To them, the speed of communication was only as fast as the swiftest horse or sailing ships. Our messages travel invisibly at the speed of light. How did we attain such mythic powers? It all began in the mind of one person, a child of poverty of whom nothing was expected.” Now we see a view of the earth from space with communication satellites in view. “In fact, our narrator continues, if this man had not lived the world we know might not exist today.” And the credits begin to roll.
“Sooner or later, our narrator explains, someone would have likely figured out some of his discoveries. However, if Michael Faraday had not lived, we might be living as our ancestors did in the 17th century unaware of armies of invisible servants awaiting our commands. This is the story of how we made electrons do our bidding.” Dr. Tyson notes, “In a way, it begins with the greatest genius that ever lived, Isaac Newton.” Now I’m both excited and flabbergasted. I’m excited by the inclusion of two of the greatest scientists of all time being mentioned repeatedly throughout this series. Evidently, you cannot tell the story of modern science without including at least two devoted Bible believing creationists. I am stunned by the fact that today Dr. Tyson and other evolutionists ridicule anyone who, like Faraday and Newton, believed the Genesis account to be the truth with regard to the creation and early history of mankind.
We now find our narrator walking in a field next to an old building. He tells us that this is Woolsthorpe, Newton’s ancestral home. We are told that Newton, “who figured out the motions of the planets around the sun wanted to know why the planets acted that way. How do all the apples know how to fall?” We are also told that another genius was puzzled by another aspect of this mystery. Now the animators take us to a scene where a young Albert Einstein is sitting next to his father while his dad shows him the interaction between a compass and a magnet. Dr. Tyson tells us that young Albert was fascinated with the way the magnet could move the needle without touching it. Cut to a picture of the adult Albert Einstein telling us, “this demonstration made a lasting impression on me as a child; something deeply hidden had to be behind these things.”
It is here that we are introduced to a genius that Dr. Tyson says is of the same stature as Newton and Einstein. He tells us, “This man who solved the mystery that stumped Newton also laid the foundation for Einstein’s revolutionary insights and for the way we live now.” We see another shot of the earth from orbit and the animators continue the story. It’s 1791 in a squalid slum in the suburbs of London. A man is coughing and a woman is in labor on a bed. There are two small children huddled together on the floor and we hear the narrator tell us, “Michael Faraday was born.” Cut to a schoolroom with a sour and strict looking teacher walking between the desks. Dr. Tyson says, “He showed little promise at school.” Evidently, little Michael had a speech impediment that the school teacher misreads as insolence. She sends Michaels older brother out to the store so he can purchase a cane for the teacher to use on Michael. The next scene shows Michael’s mom with his elder brother with in tow. They open the door to the schoolhouse where they find Michael cowering in the corner. Our narrator says, “History does not record that Michael Faraday ever attended school again.”
Now Dr. Tyson tells us, “Faraday took his family’s fundamentalist Christian faith to heart. It would always remain a source of strength, comfort and humility for him.” Don’t think that Dr. Tyson really believes what he just said. The producer of this new and allegedly improved reboot of the Carl Sagan classic is vocal atheist, Seth MacFarlane. For those who are unfamiliar with Mr. MacFarlane, he is the wildly successful cartoonist who created Family Guy and a movie built around a potty-mouthed talking stuffed animal named Ted. While MacFarlane is an avowed atheist, he is seems to go out of his way to mock and ridicule Christianity. I distinctly remember Dr. Tyson paying lip service to the fact that Isaac Newton was a devout Christian in an earlier episode. While it seems that they feel they must at least mention the fact that both Newton and Faraday were men of faith, I could not help thinking that Dr. Tyson was being somewhat hypocritical reading those particular words in the script.
We pick up the story of young Faraday when he is thirteen and is sent to work at a book bindery. “By day, our narrator tells us, he bound the books and by night he read them. It was the beginning of a life long fascination with electricity.” Now we see Dr. Tyson walking down a present-day city street. He says, “At twenty one, Faraday yearned to escape to a larger world. His big break would come when a customer gave him a ticket to a sensational new kind of entertainment, science for the public.” We go back to animation as Dr. Tyson tells us, “It started right here at London’s Royal Institution of Great Britain. Humphry Davy was one of the leading scientists of his day. He discovered several chemical elements including calcium and sodium. He was also a consummate showman thrilling audiences with demonstrations of electricity.”
Faraday gets his big break
Animators now show us one of his demonstrations using a series of batteries in the cellar he throws a switch making the connection that causes a bright light to glow in their midst. Dr. Tyson narrates what the animators show us. “Faraday was too busy taking notes to applaud. He created a transcript of Davy’s lecture and bound it into a book.” Now Dr. Tyson holds that very book up to the camera saying, “Perhaps such a gift would bring him to the attention of the great man.” Now the animators show us a 21 year old Michael Faraday standing with book in hand in front of the Royal Institution. Dr. Tyson says, “Maybe his gesture could be the means of escape to a larger universe.”
Cut to an animated scene of Sir Humphry Davy performing an experiment. He is telling a colleague, “Ampère tells me that poor Dulong lost and eye and 3 fingers working with this.” Davy pours the substance onto another substance and the result is an explosion that nearly blinds Davy. Now we see Davy sitting at his desk with both eyes bandaged. This unfortunate accident caused Davy to remember young Faraday so he sends for him. He compliments Faraday on his good memory and tells him that he is in temporary need of a secretary. Faraday gladly accepts the position although, at this same time, Davy is telling him to stick to book binding because “science is a harsh mistress.” We are told that Faraday made himself indispensible to Davy. This temporary job became a permanent one as the Royal Institution was to become Faraday’s lifelong home.
“By day, he assisted Davy in the lab at night he retired to his little apartment where his beloved bride Sarah was waiting.” Now we see Humphry Davy and the chemist William Wallace experimenting with a mysterious phenomenon. Our narrator tells us, “One that would have potentially far-reaching implications.” It was the relationship between electricity and magnetism. Davy told Faraday to finish tidying up and then take a look at the magnet and electrical current they had set up. Dr. Tyson tells us “up till now, electricity was nothing more than a source of entertainment. It could cause flashes of light or turn a compass needle briefly, but it had no practical application.” Faraday immediately set about designing the experiment, devoting every moment of his spare time to the problem. If Faraday succeeded, he would be would be putting an undiscovered army of electrons at the command of human whim.”
Dr. Tyson asks, “How does a revolution begin? Sometimes it doesn’t take much, a piece of metal, a bowl of mercury, a bit of cork.” Now the animators show us Faraday calling up to his wife through a speaking tube so she can send his young nephew downstairs to observe what he was about to do. He tells his nephew, “Why don’t you do the honors Georgie,” and with that, Georgie presses the switch that completes the circuit and a wire begins moving in a circular motion in the middle of a bowl filled with mercury. We see Faraday become very excited as he begins to dance around the room with his nephew. Dr Tyson tells us, “This was the first electric motor converting electric current into continuous mechanical motion. Looks pretty feeble, right? But that turning spindle is the beginning of a revolution!” Now the animators show us a series of inventions, a fan, a sewing machine, an icebox, filling the screen with all sorts of updates for these inventions from a window unit air conditioner to a trolley car to a huge radio antenna.
We are told, “Try to imagine the businesses, industries, technologies, transformations of the way we live that have their beginnings in that ecstatic moment in Mr. Faraday’s laboratory. News of his invention spread quickly and suddenly Davy’s assistant was the toast of London.” Dr. Tyson continues, “Davy didn’t take it well. He had, after all, discovered all those elements, now people were saying his greatest discovery was Faraday.” We return to animation as our narrator tells us that Davy meant to silence Faraday by giving him the job of improving Great Britain’s glassworks. Davy tells Faraday, “These damn Bavarians are running circles around us.” Faraday protests telling Davy, “I know nothing of glassmaking” and Davy tells him, “then you will learn Faraday, we all know what a quick study you are.” Davy tells him to “analyze the composition of the glass and work backwards to see how they made it. It shouldn’t take you long,” but it took Faraday four years to learn that crafting perfect optical glass for telescopes was a craft as well as a science. The masters in Bavaria kept their secrets under lock and key and Faraday never did learn their secret. He did keep a single glass brick as a souvenir of this failure. Our narrator tells us, “Years later, it would change the course of his life, and ours.”
The death of Sir Humphry Davy finally brought an end to this foolish Bavarian glass project and Dr. Tyson tells us, “Faraday, a boy from the slums, succeeded him as the Director of the Laboratory. He initiated a series of Christmas lectures in the sciences for young people beginning in 1825 and continuing to this present day.” We now see examples of some of the lecturers from the past including Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins. Animation shows us Michael Faraday showing the wonders of electricity in one of the first Christmas lectures at the Royal Institution. Now we are told that Michael Faraday was not about personally profiting from his inventions or his own fame. Our narrator continues telling us that Michael Faraday only wrote the first sentence of an entry that would be many pages long. The animators show us Faraday performing an experiment in front of his colleagues that showed the conversion of motion into electricity via a magnate. Dr. Tyson tells us, “This is the first generator; from here electricity would become available on demand.”
Now we are back to animation and it’s 1840. Faraday is 50 years old when he is stricken with memory problems. His memory loss was coupled with bouts of depression. Dr. Tyson tells us, “He never really fully recovered, but his greatest achievements still lay ahead.” Now we are once again in the land of animation where Dr. Tyson tells us, “Faraday had immersed himself so deeply in electrical and magnetic experiments that he came to visualize the space around the magnet as filled with invisible lines of force. A magnet was not simply some magnetized bar of iron you could see, it was also the unseen something in the space around the bar. And that something he called a field, a magnetic field. Faraday believed in the unity of nature.”
The electric boy also believed, In the beginning God…
It is here that that Dr. Tyson gives us some insight into the worldview of Michael Faraday. When an avowed agnostic speaks to us about the unity of nature, he is doing what most evolutionists do. He is deifying nature. Rather than give the glory and honor to the God of nature, their materialistic worldview and secular mantra prevents them from making such statements. I know that Michael Faraday along with William Clerk Maxwell and Isaac Newton were all committed men of faith. They saw the universe as being the result of an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent Creator. Faraday’s faith in the Word of God informed him that the living Word of God, John 1:1-3, spoke the universe into existence in six literal 24-hour days, Gen. 1:31-2:1. It was nature’s God who was the true force that held everything in the cosmos together. He was the source of the unity that Michael Faraday believed had to be demonstrated in nature. All three men knew what the Apostle Paul said concerning the Messiah. He told them:
We are told that once Faraday had demonstrated the connections between electricity and magnetism, he wondered if a third force such as light might be involved. Dr. Tyson continues, “If he could show a connection between these three invisible phenomena, one of nature’s most intimate secrets would at last be revealed.”
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence, Col. 1:15-18
The animators are able to show us the re-creation of Faraday’s experiment that leads to the discovery of that third invisible force. Dr. Tyson tells us, “Faraday knew that light can travel as a wave. Waves of light gyrate randomly in all directions. But there’s a way to isolate a single wave of light, its called polarization. Faraday wanted to see if a single ray of light could be manipulated by the invisible magnetic field.” He ingeniously invented an eyepiece that Dr. Tyson said, “Acted like a picket fence to see the light. Light could only pass through it if it was somehow moved by a magnet.” We see an animation of Faraday placing a mirror on a table using it to reflect a light through a magnetic field towards his eyepiece. If he could see the light go around the picket fence in his eyepiece, it meant the magnetic field had somehow moved the light.
Dr. Tyson explains, “This is difficult to understand, but don’t feel bad. Scientists would not be able to explain this for another hundred years.” Now our narrator reviews the litany of substances that Faraday used to prove that a magnetic field could influence light, but none of them had any affect on the light. He tried all sorts of minerals, salts, crystals, acids, gases all without any success. Then we are told, “In desperation, he decided to try the glass brick (the one left over from the ill-fated Bavarian glass experiments). It did the trick.” We are told, “It was a dramatic breakthrough like seeing the cosmos for the very first time through a telescope. By showing that an electromagnetic force could manipulate light, Faraday had discovered a deeper unity of nature. He had opened the door for Einstein and all the physicists who came after him to glimpse the interplay of hidden primal forces of the universe. Even as he approached the summit of his genius, he was plagued by depression and doubts about his ability to retain even the simplest thoughts.”
At this time, we see the animators recreate a scene where Faraday is writing to a friend and telling him about his memory problem. This time, his wife Sarah must finish the letter leaving a postscript concerning Michael’s difficulties. It must have been time to pay homage to the “electric boy.” Remaining true to form, the producers could manage only humanistic praise for this man of faith. Dr. Tyson says, “As a young man, Faraday had risen from poverty in one of the most class conscious societies the world has ever known to become the most celebrated scientist of all time. By age 40, he had invented the electric motor, the transformer, the generator, machines that would change everything about the home, the farm, the factory. Now at 60, decades after the fertile periods of the greatest physicists, plagued by memory loss and melancholy, he fearlessly probed deeper into the mysterious invisible forces.”
“The world thought Michael Faraday was a has-been. Despite his depression, he remained as passionately curious as ever. Having discovered the unity of magnetism, electricity and light, Faraday needed to know how this trinity of natural forces worked together.” Now we are back to animation and Faraday is busy in his laboratory. This time he is using magnets and iron filings to figure out something that existed in the space between the filings and shapes they made. The patterns were the footprints of invisible fields of force that reached into the space around anything magnetic. Now, Faraday understood that a compass was responding to a force field that stretched from the North Pole.” He continued, “Earth itself is a giant magnet and like any other magnet, its lines of force extend far out into the space that surrounds it. They’re everywhere all around us. They’ve always been, but nobody ever noticed them before, nobody human that is.”
More evolutionary brainwashing
“Birds are the last living descendants of the dinosaurs.” Dr. Tyson says this with the confidence of a true believer. Once again, there is information that is left out of this declaration of dinosaur progeny. The earlier version of this ‘just so’ story told us that scales of the reptiles evolved into feathers, and so on and so forth. As is the case today, the evolutionary faithful promote this as if it were true, as if they actually saw these changes through personal observation or they derived it from evidence in the fossil record. Neither of these is true. Never mind that birds are uniquely designed for flight. Consider the following excerpt from Stanford University regarding the evolution of flight.
The evolution of flight has endowed birds with many physical features in addition to wings and feathers (Emphasis added). One of the requirements of heavier-than-air flying machines, birds included, is a structure that combines strength and light weight. One way this is accomplished in birds is by the fusion and elimination of some bones and the “pneumatization” (hollowing) of the remaining ones. Some of the vertebrae and some bones of the pelvic girdle of birds are fused into a single structure, as are some finger and leg bones -- all of which are separate in most vertebrates. And many tail, finger, and leg bones are missing altogether. Not only are some bones of birds, unlike ours, hollow, but many of the hollows are connected to the respiratory system. To keep the cylindrical walls of a bird's major wing bones from buckling, the bones have internal strut-like reinforcements.
The pneumatization of bird bones led to the belief that birds had skeletons that weighed proportionately less than those of mammals. Careful studies by H. D. Prange and his colleagues have shown this not to be the case. More demands are placed on a bird's skeleton than on that of a terrestrial mammal. The bird must be able to support itself either entirely by its forelimbs or entirely by its hindlimbs. It also requires a deep, solid breastbone (sternum) to which the wing muscles can be anchored. Thus, while some bones are much lighter than their mammalian counterparts, others, especially the leg bones, are heavier. Evolution has created (Emphasis added) in the avian skeleton a model of parsimony, lightening where possible, adding weight and strength where required. The results can be quite spectacular: the skeleton of a frigatebird with a seven-foot wingspan weighs less than the feathers covering it! [Ehrlich, Paul R., Dobkin, David S., & Wheye, Darryl (1988). Adaptations for Flight. Accessed 6.7.14. Stanford University.]
Consider the following example of one of the more well-known ‘just so’ stories of evolution.
The case would have been even grander if paleontologists could have found a more ancient creature endowed with more primitive feathers—something they searched for in vain for most of the next century and a half. In the meantime, other scientists sought to illuminate the origin of feathers by examining the scales of modern reptiles, the closest living relatives of birds. Both scales and feathers are flat. So perhaps the scales of the birds' ancestors had stretched out, generation after generation. Later their edges could have frayed and split, turning them into the first true feathers. (Emphasis added)
It made sense too that this change occurred as an adaptation for flight. Imagine the ancestors of birds as small, scaly, four-legged reptiles living in forest canopies, leaping from tree to tree. If their scales had grown longer, they would have provided more and more lift, which would have allowed the protobirds to glide a little farther, then a little farther still. Only later might their arms have evolved into wings they could push up and down, transforming them from gliders to true powered fliers. In short, the evolution of feathers would have happened along with the evolution of flight. [Zimmer, Carl (2011). Feather Evolution. National Geographic 2011. Accessed 6.7.14.]
The National Geographic article went on to explain that similarities in bone structure between the theropods and birds caused some evolutionists to change their reptile-to-bird story to a dinosaur-to-bird story. Once again, there are huge problems with the evolution of flight as well as the transition from scales to feathers. While feathers have been suggested as having evolved from reptilian scales, there are numerous objections to that idea, and more recent explanations have arisen from the paradigm of evolutionary developmental biology. [Prum, R.O., & Brush, A.H (March 2003). “Which Came First, the Feather or the Bird?” Scientific American 288 (3): 84–93. Accessed 6.7.14.]
The dinosaur-to-bird connection is the current popular theory with theropods replacing reptiles in this ‘just so’ story. Creationist Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D. in spectroscopy (Physical Chemistry) writes in an article entitled ‘Feathered’ dinos: no feathers after all!
From time to time, evolutionists produce a transitional-series-du-jour. One of the most prominent recent claims is that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, a supposedly carnivorous group that included T. Rex and Velociraptor. However, even a number of evolutionary paleo-ornithologists (fossil bird experts), such as Alan Feduccia, Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina, have been harshly critical of the dogmatic way in which the theory has been promoted. They partly blame this dogma for the notorious Archaeoraptor hoax of 1999–2000.
Another big problem is the hugely different avian lung design. The alleged first bird Archaeopteryx had the classic avian through-flow lungs, while the alleged feathered dino Sinosauropteryx had a clearly reptilian bellows lung. And it was younger than Archaeopteryx, according to the evolutionists’ own dating methods and contrary to evolutionary expectations. As Feduccia likes to quip, “You can’t be older than your grandfather.” While evolutionists claim that a trait might persist in a lineage well after a descendant lineage has evolved, the evidence they are claiming dates the version with a fully-formed avian lung prior to the other. When did the avian lung, then, evolve? And the main point was that evolution was alleged to be supported by the order of fossil succession, but clearly this is not so. [Sarfati, J. (2012). ‘Feathered’ dinos: no feathers after all! Journal of Creation 26(3):8–10. Accessed 6.9.14.]
The feather is both extremely light and structurally strong – an engineering marvel. [Pratt, D. (2014). Evolution and Design, Part II. (cited in Walter J. ReMine, 1993). The Biotic Message: Evolution versus message theory, Saint Paul, MN: St. Paul Science, p. 305. Accessed 6.9.14]
Fig. 4.9. A single pigeon feather may have several hundred thousand barbules and millions of hooklets (hamuli). [Pratt, D. (2014). Ibid.]
All explanations of feather evolution are highly speculative. More conjecture has been generated with the discovery of what are alleged to be protofeathers on theropod dinosaur fossils in Yixian formation in China. Consider the following excerpt from an article entitled, Evo-Devo of feathers and scales: building complex epithelial appendages.
On the basis of developmental studies of feathers and scales, we propose ten levels of complexity representing the gradual evolutionary transformation from most simple scales to an advanced asymmetric flight feather (Table 1). Can we find evidence of these in the fossil records? [Chuong, C.M., Chodankar, R., Randall B Widelitz, R.B., & Jiang. T.X. (2000). Evo-Devo of feathers and scales: building complex epithelial appendages. Commentary. Genetics & Development 2000, 10:449–456. Accessed 6.9.14.]
The ten-step model for the evolution of feathers is just another example of the wishful thinking of evolutionists. Just like the evolution of sight, flight, migration, echolocation and a host of other examples so called convergent evolutionary scenarios, we have this incredibly simplistic hypothesis being presented as evidence for scale-to-feather morphogenesis. Can information be generated that can change a scale into a feather? Can a hair follicle into a feather? This is how Chuong, et al. (2000) introduced the subject.
The feather is the most complex vertebrate integument appendage ever evolved. (Emphasis added.) How is a flat piece of epidermis transformed into a three level branched structure? Here we present ten complexity levels of integument appendages that correspond to developmental stages of chicken skin and feather precursors recently identified in dinosaur/primitive bird fossils. Cellular and molecular events that convert one complexity level to the next are discussed, including those converting avian foot scales to feathers. [Chuong, et al. (2000). Ibid.]
In an article entitled, The evolution of feathers: a major problem for Darwinism, Jerry Bergman, Ph.D. in measurement and evaluation and a Ph.D. in human biology writes the following with regard to feather evolution.
The most common theory of feather origins suggests that feathers evolved from reptile scales. Before this topic is discussed, a review of feather structure is required. The anatomy of feathers is radically different from that of skin or scales, and is most similar to hair (yet much more complex). Bishop notes that: ‘Feathers may look simple, but they’re really very complicated. Each one can have more than a million tiny parts.’ [Bishop, N., (1997). The Secrets of Animal Flight, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, p. 9.]. The complex anatomy of a feather varies, depending on the feather’s function. For example, the ‘complex morphology’ of the flight or contour feather includes a long shaft (usually hollow, always strong) and the web that flares out from the shaft in the form of roughly planar vanes on either side. [Bock, W.J., (2000). Explanatory history of the origin of feathers. American Zoology 40:478–485, 2000, p. 478.] The shaft consists of a hollow, stiff structure (often called a quill or vein) termed the rachis that serves as a solid-but-flexible support for branches called barbs. The rachis and barbs are analogous to a tree trunk and tree branches. [Terres, H. (1980). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.]
Dr. Bergman concludes:
Even though fossil impressions of feathers are abundant in the fossil record, and much has been written speculating on how scale-to-feather evolution could have occurred, not a shred of fossil or other evidence has ever been found to support the scale-to-feather evolution theory. [Parkes, K., (1996). Speculations on the origin of feathers, Living Bird 5:77–86, 1966; p. 77; Regal, P. (1975).]. The evolutionary origin of feathers, The Quarterly Review of Biology 50(1):35–66, 1975; pp. 35–36.] In the words of Prum, understanding ‘the evolutionary origin of feathers has been constrained by the lack of any known ancestral feather morphologies or structural antecedents.’ [Prum, R.O., (1999). Development and evolutionary origin of feathers, J. Experimental Zoology (Molecular, Developmental, Evolution) 285:291–306; p. 291.]
The evidence supports Klotz’s early conclusion that the ‘origin of feathers is still a real problem’ for Darwinism, and all contemporary theories of feather origin are hypothetical ideas that ‘can only be characterized as judicious speculation.’ [Klotz, J. (1970). Genes, Genesis and Evolution, St. Louis, MO: Concordia, p. 460.] In short, nothing has changed since Regal stated ‘although most textbooks include some sort of speculation on the evolutionary origin of feathers … [a] morass of contradictory theories and muddy thinking … occurs in … much of the literature on this subject.’ [Regal, P. (1975) Ibid. p. 35.]
Although much speculation and major disagreements exist on how feathers ‘could have’ evolved, all existing theories are ‘just-so stories’, unsupported by fossil or historical evidence. The profound evolutionary enigma of feathers noted by Darwin [Darwin, C. (1859). The Origin of Species, John Murray, London, 1859.] and Heilmann [Heilmann, G. (1926). The Evolution of Birds, Witherby, London, 1926.] remains, even today. The lack of evidence for feather evolution is not only a major problem for Darwinism, but the design and function of feathers provides evidence for both intelligent design and irreducible complexity. Flight and feathers are indeed a ‘miracle.’ [Cromer, R. (1968). The Miracle of Flight. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company.] Feather evolution is related to the question of bird evolution. [Bergman, Jerry (2003). “The evolution of feathers: a major problem for Darwinism.” Journal of Creation (formerly TJ) 17(1):33–41April 2003. Accessed 6.7.14.]
When you add to this, the unique design of avian circulatory system, urinary system, respiratory system, skeletal structure and other anatomical and physiological features specifically designed for flight, any attempts to explain the flight of birds through evolutionary mechanisms fails miserably.
Now you might say to me that science is always changing, learning new insights and addressing new discoveries. I would agree with you that there is nothing wrong with changing your conclusions based on new information or even new interpretations of prior research. One recent example of new data changing the current thought can be seen in the research of Mariko Takahashi of the University of Tokyo. His observations over seven years and 268 observed mating ‘throws a wrench in the long-held belief that male peacock feathers evolved in response to female mate choice’. [Takahashi, M., Hiroyuki Arita, H., Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, M. & Hasegawa, T. (2008). Peahens do not prefer peacocks with more elaborate trains. Animal Behaviour 75(4):1209–1219; Viegas, J. (2008). Female peacocks not impressed by male feathers, Discovery News, 28 March 2008.] The study found no evidence that peahens choose mates according to the quality of the peacocks’ tails is ‘at odds with Darwin’s theory of sexual selection.’
What is not kosher is the way each new insight is presented as fact. This is not empirical science, this is highly speculative, as the ever changing ‘just so’ stories indicate. As is the case of Darwin’s musings concerning the reason for the male peacocks elaborate plumage, scientists were completely wrong about their involvement in the sexual selection mating process. The history of science is littered with newly heralded discoveries that later turned out to be erroneous or worse, forgeries. But this is exactly what we are witnessing in this miniseries. Additionally, it is not helpful to place historical science on the same level as empirical science that is verifiable via the scientific method. To say that the Theory of Evolution is on the same level as the Theory of Gravity is utter nonsense.
Dr. Tyson has launched into the next ‘just so’ story of evolution. He says, “Pigeons and other birds are remarkably good at finding their way around. They can migrate thousands of miles without getting lost.” While he was sharing this bit of information, I thought about other lifeforms that can migrate.
I know that flight is considered an example of convergent evolution in insects, birds and bats, however, migration is characterized as a convergent ability and so is echolocation. Our narrator continues, “How (do birds migrate)? Partly by recognizing familiar landmarks, rivers, mountains, stars even certain smells can serve a signposts for migrating birds. But birds also have an inner compass, one that can actually sense the earth’s magnetic field. Their brains process magnetic data in much the same way ours processes visual data.” He continues, “By sensing the directions of the growth patterns in a field, birds know north from south. That’s how North American birds know which way to go when they head south for the winter. The field is stronger near the poles and weaker at the equator, a fact that birds use to figure out their latitude.” Now our narrator tells us, “Magnetic anomalies serve as landmarks for migrating birds.” True to the ‘just so’ aspects of evolutionary theory, no explanation is made concerning how this ability evolved.
- Whale that migrates the longest is the Gray Whale, which migrates
about 12,500 miles.
- Insect that migrates the longest is the desert locust, which travels
about 2,800 miles.
- Butterfly that migrates the longest is the Monarch, which migrates
up to 2,000 miles.
- Land animal that migrates the longest is the caribou, which travels
about 700 miles. [Ali, Shaf (2014). Animal Migration. List of Things, List of Everything. Wordpress.com. Accessed 6.5.14.]
There is a very real benefit to our planet’s magnetic field. Without it, there would be no life here at all. Dr. Tyson explains that the magnetic field protects us from lethal cosmic rays that would rip through our DNA. It also prevents the mutation rate from being a lot higher which would be very damaging to our biosphere. He continues, “Most of the cosmic shrapnel gets trapped in the Van Allen radiation belts. Two donut shaped zones of charged particles corralled by our magnetic shield.”
Dr. Tyson goes on to explain the science behind the Northern Lights a.k.a. the Aurora. He explains that this light show is caused by the earth’s magnetic field as it affects the charged particles from the sun or the solar wind. It’s like an electric current that our planet’s magnetic field channels towards the North and South Poles. When it hits our atmosphere, the oxygen and the nitrogen molecules glow like giant fluorescent light bulbs. We find ourselves with Dr. Tyson standing at the helm of his spaceship as it orbits the earth so we can see the Aurora streaming towards the polar regions of our planet.
He turns and says, “Where Faraday pursued his last and most profound discovery, the poverty of his childhood stymied him as it never did before. He needed help, and he found it from one who had come from another world.” Our narrator leaves us hanging while another commercial advertisement comes on the TV screen. When Dr. Tyson reappears he tells us, “Michael Faraday had solved the mystery that baffled Isaac Newton.” Now we see an animation of our solar system as Dr. Tyson says, “This is how the Sun told the planets how to move without touching them.” He clarifies by saying, “The sun does touch the planets with its gravitational field. And the earth’s gravitational field tells the apples how to fall.” And we see this demonstrated on the TV screen. Now the animators bring us back to an elderly Faraday in his laboratory looking up as a beam of sunlight passing towards him from the overhead window as he remarks, “All this is but a dream.”
This allows our narrator to explain, “Faraday’s contemporaries thought that he was dreaming. They admired his inventions and his genius for experimentation, but they regarded his invisible lines of force and his ideas about light and gravity as hand waving, meaning there was nothing solid to back up his theories. They needed to see his ideas expressed in the language of modern physics.”
Dr. Tyson lets us know, “This was the one area in which his childhood poverty and lack of formal education actually held him back. He couldn’t do the math.” I wondered about this statement, so I actually researched it from myself. There is a big difference between lacking formal education, and the story of Michael Faraday. He was not a poor mathematician at all. He was simply self-taught. We have already been told that he not only bound books for several years, he read them. The man who was responsible for proving the work of Faraday using mathematical equations did not have a low opinion of Faraday’s math skills. To the contrary, William Clerk Maxwell wrote that they show Faraday “to have been in reality a mathematician of a very high order – one from whom the mathematicians of the future may derive valuable and fertile methods.” [Wikipedia (2014). James Clerk Maxwell. (as cited in Maxwell 2003) The Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell Volume 11 page 360) Courier Dover.]
I suspect that Dr. Tyson is only giving voice to the elitist mindset that many highly educated secular people believe. In truth, the class distinctions that Dr. Tyson told us characterized the Britain of Faraday’s era is still alive and well today. The difference is this, rather than belittling those of lesser parentage, today’s secular elitists scoff at anyone who questions those who question Darwin’s Theory or the deep time it promotes. Many evolutionary scientists hold creationists in such contempt as to openly suggest that they should not be granted a Ph.D. unless they swear allegiance to the Theory of Evolution. Thankfully, many institutions of higher learning have resisted this concept of an evolutionary litmus test for prospective Ph.D. candidates. They support awarding the degree to those who have done the work. Sadly, many vocal atheists might not agree with disregarding a graduate student’s religious beliefs and focusing solely on the merit of their research. Some go so far as accusing them of lying in order to get the degree. [Moran, L. (2007). How Does an Intelligent Design Creationist Write a Ph.D. Thesis? Sandwalk: Strolling with a skeptical biochemist, Nov. 29, 2007. Accessed 6.8.14.; Meyers, P.Z. (2009). Creationists in denial. Pharyngula, March 11, 2009. Accessed 6.8.13.]
Dr, Tyson continues to explain, “Faraday hit a wall that he couldn’t overcome. And then the greatest theoretical physicist of the 19th century came along.” We are back in the world of animation as our narrator continues, “James Clerk Maxwell was born into a world of wealth and privilege, the only child of doting middle-aged parents. By his early 20’s, he’d made a name for himself as a mathematician. While other scientists had come to think of Faraday as old fashioned, a great figure of the past, but no part of the future of physics, James Clerk Maxwell knew better.” Maxwell began by reading everything Faraday had written on electricity and he became convinced that Faraday’s fields of force were real and he set out to give them a precise mathematical formulation.” Now we see an elderly Faraday sitting at his desk at London’s Royal Institute of Great Britain. A parcel is sitting in front of him and he unwraps and opens it to the title page. As he begins to read he smiles. The book was entitled, On Faraday’s Lines of Force by J. Clerk Maxwell.
We are back at the lecture hall at the Royal Institution where our narrator says, “An education in physics is just a short hand description that can be represented in space and time. For instance, the equation that shows the arc of a pendulum shows that it can never swing higher than its initial height.” As Dr. Tyson has done in a previous episode, he demonstrates his point by beginning the swing of a heavy metal ball on a chain by holding it right up to his face. As he lets go, the pendulum swings away and back to him, just short of making contact with his face. His point is demonstrated, as the ball will never really hit Dr. Tyson as long as only the initial gravitation force is a play. The genius of Maxwell was that as he “translated Faraday’s experimental observations of electromagnetic fields into equations he discovered an asymmetry.” Our narrator continues, “He tweaked one equation that turned Faraday’s static lines into waves that moved at the speed of light. It wouldn’t be long before we found a way to turn these waves (we see a microphone as the sound waves hit it, and the interior of the microphone is revealed where coiled electrical wires pick up the waves) into couriers for our messages.”
Now Dr. Tyson repeats what he asked in the beginning of this episode of The Cosmos. “Can you see me? Can you hear me? This is how” and now we see his image being picked up by the TV camera that relays the image and sound to a communications truck in the street. We see the TV waves moving from the mobile unit beaming it up to a communications satellite in earth’s orbit that relays it down to the other side of the world. He continues, “This technology has transformed human civilization from a patchwork of cities and towns and villages into an intercommunicating organism linking us together at light speed to each other” Now the communication satellite turns around so it can beam Dr. Tyson’s image and voice as our narrator tells us “the message can now go to the rest of the cosmos.”
This installment of the series ends with Michael Faraday saying, “Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature.” Once again, this man is quoted by the scriptwriters as being in awe of the wonders of the laws of nature. Faraday saw a unity in nature. I think Faraday would agree with Johannes Kepler who described scientific endeavors as “thinking God's thoughts after Him.” I know that the writers of The Cosmos miniseries cannot focus on the fact that Michael Faraday would have credited God’s grace for any of his discoveries. Neil DeGrasse Tyson and other vocal agnostic and atheist evolutionists love to set up a false dichotomy between science and religion. [Moyers interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Explain Why He Believes Reason and Faith are Irreconcilable. Published on Jan 22, 2014 on U Tube. Accessed 6.6.14.] As we have documented throughout the first nine episodes of The Cosmos, the scriptwriters have chosen to present religion in terms of paganism and to completely ignore the truth revealed in the Bible.
Dr. Tyson and the producer of this program, Seth MacFarlane, have shown themselves to be antagonistic to Christianity. Rather than end with a faith-based quote from Michael Faraday, the scriptwriters chose a quote that only hints at the source of Faraday’s true inspiration, I prefer to leave you with some other quotes from this humble man of God that are far more illustrative of what he truly believed.
Towards the end of his life
I am, I hope, very thankful that in the withdrawal of the powers and things of life, the good hope is left with me, which makes the contemplation of death a comfort — not a fear. Such peace is alone the gift of God, and as it is He who gives it, why should we be afraid? His unspeakable gift in His beloved Son is the ground of no doubtful hope, and there is the rest for those who (like you and me) are drawing near the latter end of our terms here below. I do not know, however why I should join you with me in years. I forget your age, but this I know (and feel as well) that next Sabbath day (the 22nd) I shall complete my 70th year. I can hardly think myself so old as I write to you — so much of cheerful spirit, ease and general health is left to me, and if my memory fails, why it causes that I forget troubles as well as pleasure and the end is, I am happy and content. [Letter to Auguste de la Rive (1861), as quoted in The Philosopher's Tree : A Selection of Michael Faraday's Writings (1999) edited by Peter Day, p. 199.]
The certainty of his faith
Speculations? I have none. I am resting on certainties. I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. [When asked about his speculations on life beyond death, as quoted in The Homiletic Review (April 1896), p. 442.]
Faraday’s last words
I shall be with Christ, and that is enough. [Last words, answering the question “Have you ever pondered by yourself what will be your occupation in the next world?” as quoted in The Speaker's QuoteBook (1997) edited by Roy B. Zuck, p. 108.]