Shocking Eel

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Have you always wanted an electric personality? People are attracted to others with energy, but somehow that hasn’t helped to make the electric eel more popular. Even so, God gave this animal what it needed to survive.

Electric eels are both electroreceptive and electrogenic in that they can detect electrical fields and generate them. An eel can hunt its prey undetected by measuring subtle changes in its own electrically generated field (electroreceptive). It then immobilizes the prey with a powerful electric shock (electrogenic).

Most of an eel’s body is made up of organs involved in making and storing the electrical charge. Using separate organs, it generates electricity from food by charging cells called electrocytes, in much the same way that muscles generate energy, and then stores it for later zapping of prey.

Just about everyone has the same questions about electric eels. How does the eel keep from electrocuting itself while it shocks its food?

Scientists aren’t exactly sure, but they have some theories. First, the eel’s brain is located far away from the electric-producing organs and is insulated with fatty tissue. The animal’s skin also seems to have insulating properties. Some scientists also think there might be an internal switching mechanism for the eel to turn off its own electricity during mating.

Are the complex electrical organs in this animal the result of random chance mutations? It’s hard for me to believe that mutations would have come about simultaneously to generate electricity, store it in a specialized organ and develop measures to protect the eel from shocking itself. For supposedly random mutations, that sounds pretty purposeful. When I look at the electric eel, I see a perfectly designed creature made by God, even if we don’t completely understand it.

What do you think? Is the electrical system of the eel evidence of design? Or did small mutations add up to one shocking creature?

 

 

Reference: Stratham, Dominic. “Stunning and Stealthy: the amazing electric eel.” Creation 36(1), 2014, p.29.

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Devotion

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15

Do you think there’s a difference between God in charge and God in control? Sometimes I find myself letting God be in control, but not in charge. Here’s what I mean. When I come across a situation I can’t do anything about—my son having surgery, my husband travelling, health problems—then I know it’s out of my hands and I give it up to God, like a good little Christian right?

Problem is, I give the hard stuff up to God, but for the rest of the stuff, I take over. I want to be in charge of everything else. Everything I think I can do down here on my own. I’ve even taught my son this way to handle his sports, “Do your very best, let God handle the rest.”

Not a bad philosophy, except when you forget, as I often do, that He’s in charge of it all.

Yes, all of it.

God is not around just to take over after we’ve done all we can, as if we have to exhaust our efforts before we need to bother Him. He wants to be involved in everything from what I have for breakfast to what I say to my five-year-old who plugged the toilet with flushable wipes again.

My heart knows He’s in charge, but my head takes over, ignoring this reality on a daily basis. To convince my head takes the constant effort of searching inside for His will. The more I look, the more I yield to Him.

Dear Lord, let me do my very best alongside You. Help me to remember You are in control and in charge of everything I do. May it all be for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Why Cry?

As a young girl, I was molested. It was certainly not the worst abuse I’ve ever heard of, but it was enough to tie me up in knots inside.

In college, I visited a counselor who told me to keep a daily journal of my feelings. Honestly, I told her that I couldn’t. I didn’t feel anything. Everything inside me was numb.

I knew I was supposed to have feelings. I just didn’t. I never cried, rarely felt happy and couldn’t drum up much anger, even about the abuse.

Although I hadn’t truly met God yet, I decided to pray. I prayed that I would feel some emotion, anything.

Nothing came. For many years.

When I gave myself to God, He started a restoration program in my heart and soul. The emotions came in a flood. Now I can cry at the drop of a hat, I can feel real joy and love and even anger (although I’ve long since forgiven the abuse).

But emotions can sometimes be overwhelming. Some days, I have to remind myself that this is what I prayed for. On those days, I cry like this:

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Did you know humans are the only creatures who cry for emotional reasons? Of course, many animals produce what is called basal tears (the kind that keep your eye from drying out) and reflex tears (the kind that clear out irritants like smoke), but none produce emotional tears.

Turns out, emotional tears are made up of different stuff than the others. One study collected and compared reflex tears with emotional tears. The reflex tears were almost completely made of water, but the emotional tears had chemicals such as prolactin, andrenocorticotropic hormones and leucine-enkephalon. Andrenocorticotropic hormones can indicate high stress levels and leucine-enkephalon is an endorphin that reduces pain and works to improve mood. Prolacatin is a hormone known to control breast milk production, which could explain why women cry more (4 times more) often than men since women naturally produce more of this chemical.

Many people have speculated as to the evolutionary reason for tears. Theories range from the aquatic ape hypothesis that says we evolved tears because we lived near the ocean, to the early communication hypothesis that claims tears communicated emotion before we evolved language.

Of course, I believe that God gave us tears for specific reasons. He knew that with our higher brain capacity we would experience emotion on a level that no animal could.

Tears are a gift from our creator—a kind of pressure release valve.

So, if you see me at the movie theater crying because of a sad scene or in church tearing up at a meaningful song, no need to worry about me. I’m just using one of God’s gifts and trying to remember … this is what I asked for.

What do you think? Do you feel better after a good cry? Or do you think it’s better just to push through the emotions without crying?

 

 

References:

Hoyt, Alia.  “How Crying Works”  02 July 2008.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/crying.htm&gt;  21 January 2015.

http://www.medicaldaily.com/why-do-humans-cry-scientist-says-tears-served-means-communication-evolution-language-244413

http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/why-we-cry-the-truth-about-tearing-up?page=3

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/naturally-selected/201305/why-only-humans-weep-the-science-behind-our-tears

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Devotion

The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. Bu the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Psalm 33:10-11

I sometimes have a problem with ambition. When I decided to be a geologist, I wanted to be the best rock hunter out there. As a stay at home mom, I attended conferences on how to be a better mom. Now that I’m a writer, I want to be as good as Ted Dekker (kind of like Stephen King for Christians—I know, a scary role model).

Apparently, this has been a lifelong issue because I can remember wanting to be the first woman president, Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park, an astronaut, and even Brittany Spears (yes, I’m dating myself).

God continues to deal with me on this issue, but we’re making progress because I truly desire a submissive heart. There’s nothing wrong with ambition in itself. The problem comes when I wear myself out leaping for that hoop I can never jump through. So God’s been teaching me something important in this area:

I need to think less of my ambition and more of my submission.

God can handle the jumping for me if I just get out of the way. And with Him as my springboard, that hoop doesn’t seem so far out of reach. But then again, maybe He’ll turn me around and point out the open door behind me.

Dear Lord, help me to submit to Your leading. Don’t let my ambition overrun my submission. Keep me right in Your perfect will each step of the way. In Jesus’ name, amen.

As Young as a Fossil?

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Most of us over forty would love to look younger than we are. Although being called a fossil certainly wouldn’t make me feel young, more and more studies are coming out with evidence that fossils are younger than we think. Dead creatures are being found that are still soft and still contain organic molecules, after supposedly millions of years have passed. These discoveries are hard to explain using a long-age view of earth’s history.

The most recent line of evidence for young fossils comes from worms. At Uppsala University in Sweden, researchers have found that the tube casings of the seabed worm Sabellidites cambriensis were still soft and flexible in rock which had been dated to 550 million years ago. The scientists say the organic compounds are original and the fossils show no evidence of mineralization. They further examined the worms and concluded the structure of the fossil worm tube is consistent with the tubes of modern seabed worms, like beard worms.

So, the worms are still soft and flexible and they look exactly like worms today, but we’re supposed to believe they are 550 million years old? Why? Because that’s how old they must be to get the long time scale needed for evolution to have happened.

Could even one million years go by without complete deterioration of these organic compounds? Much less 550 million years?

I find it hard to believe. How do the scientists themselves explain this supposedly incredible preservation?

They don’t. To them, it remains a mystery.

But if the rocks are much younger than millions of years, then there is no mystery. So, why not go with the simplest explanation?

At this point, you might be asking, why are researchers finding this stuff now and not thirty years ago?

The answer is two-fold: 1) researchers today have better equipment to test for these organic molecules, and 2) they are just now looking for them. To some extent, these discoveries could have been made thirty years ago, but scientists didn’t think this type of preservation was possible.

The sad truth is that you won’t find what you don’t seek.

What do you think? Is this unexplainable? How far would this kind of evidence go to convince you of the young age of fossils?

 

 

References: Catchpoole, David. “Seabed worm fossils still soft after 500 million years?” Creation 36(4), 2014, p. 22-23.

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Devotion

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

James 3:7-10

I am amazed at the power of words—and not just because I’m a wannabe writer. Language conveys ideas. When a thought gets stuck in my head, I use language to put it into yours–transferring my ideas to you.

Sounds simple right? But no other creature on this planet can transmit ideas in this way.

Certainly, animals communicate. If my dog wants to go outside, she scratches at the door and gives me the I’m-going-to-die-if-I-don’t-go-pee look. But could she explain to me how existentially freeing it is to pee in the outdoors? I think not.

God continues to impress on me every day that words are mighty. We may write or say something, then forget what we said or wrote, but many times those words are still out there. If they were spoken words, they likely still live on in the mind of the listener.

If they were written words, they may impact even more people. When someone tells me one of my devotions has touched them, I may not know which one, but I’m always in awe of God who uses those words in a specific time and place. He knows the journey those words will take before I’ve written one of them.

With great power like this comes great responsibility. For those who write, but also for all of us who speak into the lives of other people. As someone who was born without a brain-mouth filter, I’ve had to work on my speech more than any other part of my life. Usually, the only way for me to have a pure mouth is to have a pure heart, but it’s worth the effort. When we practice pure speech, we speak life into a dead world.

Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of language. The words we say or write are out there living inside the people who hear or read them. Let them be Your words, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

WWII Fighter Jet Buried in Ice

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In 1942, a squadron of American fighter jets (six P-38s and two B-17s) took off from a secret base in Greenland. They were headed to England to join the fight against Hitler, but on the way over the polar ice cap, they ran into a blizzard. The whole squadron was forced to turn back.

By the time they reached Greenland again, the planes were low on fuel and had to make desperate crash landings on the icy east coast. All of the pilots survived and were rescued by dog sled nine days later. The planes, however, were abandoned for more than 45 years.

In 1988, U.S. airplane dealer Patrick Epps convinced his friend, architect Richard Taylor, to join an expedition to retrieve the planes. Epps thought they’d have to brush off a bit of snow and the aircrafts would be like new.

How wrong he was.

After several failed attempts at locating the aircrafts, Epps and Taylor hired a geophysicist to search beneath the ice. The radar indicated massive shapes more than 250 feet down.

Using a heated coil mechanism to melt the ice, they discovered all the missing planes. The fighters were found in the same orientation as when they crashed, but three miles from their original location (due to glacial flow).

Epps and Taylor had it in their mind that glacial ice builds up slowly because that’s what a gradual, slow-process view of the earth would expect. That was certainly not the case here. In 45 years, a mere blip of geologic time, 250 feet of ice had accumulated.

Without the WWII airplanes stuck in it, scientists would have claimed that same ice took thousands of years to form. Who says your world view doesn’t make a difference in your work as a scientist?

 
Reference: http://creation.com/the-lost-squadron

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