Evolution Debunk: the Reptile-Mammal Transition

May 4

Who is the man so wise that he can understand this? To whom has the mouth of the LORD spoken, that he may declare it? Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through?

(Jeremiah 9:12) ESV

We began our evangelistic ministry on Twitter thinking that it would be a great way to promote our Christian SciFi novel Biblio’s Blood. It didn’t turn out as expected.

Continue reading “Evolution Debunk: the Reptile-Mammal Transition”

What is Life?

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

(Genesis 1:20-23) KJV

The biological definition of life and what the Bible describes as living aren’t the same thing. This is important to know as we see how the process of creation unfolded. Biology is the foundation of secular humanism.

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The Life Is In The Blood

June 15

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.

(Leviticus 17:11-14) KJV

We are forbidden to eat blood because the blood is the life of a creature. Is this equivalent to the soul? If I can “pour out my soul,” does it mean that the soul inhabits the blood?

Chapter 19

Monday was dark and brooding. Gone was the endless blue of the day before. Overnight a ridge of low pressure had rolled down from the north, and brought with it towering masses of cloud and squalls of warm rain. It felt like a hell of a storm was about to be unleashed.

At the library in Salt City it was impossible to tell the difference. The Salt City domes made sure of that. Carlton stopped at an Airstream trailer near the domes for a big coffee and reported to work, received a perfunctory but courteous greeting from Ruth, who was deeply engrossed in whatever she was doing, then headed down to the main conference room. His hormones were raging, and he had been nervous about what to say when he saw her. In fact, it had been a restless night, as he fantasized about the relationship growing, maturing, blossoming, bearing fruit, and then the joy of growing old in the company of his cherished companion. Luckily he was not a love struck teenager any more, so when she had barely glanced up from her clipboard to greet him he hadn’t been completely crushed. Just somewhat crushed. But now that the greeting was already over and gone he felt more relieved than anything. Now he could focus on work, and pick up where he had left off the project of rigging computer terminals in the conference room.

He entered the elevator and hit the button for the lowest level. The elevator quickly dropped into subterranean depths below the library.

It was a small tiered lecture hall and right now it was a mess. There were four tiers of curved desks that tapered down from the top-level to the bottom. The room was basically a square and the desks all pointed to the lowest corner. It was set up just like a classroom with projectors and a screen, but it was intended that one of Carlton’s computer terminals would be at each seating position. 60 in total. Each of the 60 terminals was the same elaborate interface like the one at the circulation desk. The counter tops were beige laminate, very utilitarian. The carpet was nothing fancy, just beige colored institutional short weave.

The electricians were almost finished, but a light fixture or two flickered and made slight buzzing sounds. A step-ladder was arranged beneath it, but no one else was in sight. The floor and counter tops were strewn with cardboard boxes, Styrofoam chunks, plastic bags and heaps of other packaging material. Electrical components, connectors, wire splices, caps, clips and widgets were everywhere.

The size of this project was something beyond anything Carlton had ever built before, and it was highly elaborate. The plumbing was finished. The plumbing being the lines of silicone tubing that carried blood and water to and from each terminal. There was a series of pumps, or hearts, under the flooring of each tier on the right side of the room. Each heart supplied the terminals on that tier, then the blood was circulated back to the main reservoir along the left side of the room. The main reservoir itself was at the lowest level, tastefully hidden in a podium style presenters area. There were a few other terminals in the building, such as the one at the circulation desk, and they were all connected to this central reservoir. The water system was also similarly routed, but it flowed in the opposite direction, from left to right across the room. This was based on the concept of counter-current circulation, like in living bodies. The water was a buffered solution of salts, stabilizers and glycogen energy molecules. It was separate from the blood system except for a time in each terminal, where the blood and water solutions passed on either side of a semi-permeable membrane. Here the gaseous exchange took place, like in a human lung, and oxygen from the blood supply was exchanged for carbon dioxide waste.

The terminals were arranged so that a human user, or two, could be seated at each one. The major design objective was to allow unhindered translation of language. People speaking any and every language could gather in this room and communicate with each other through the terminals. A unique feature of this set up was special hoods that could be deployed to isolate each terminal in a sound proof bubble. This was to allow simultaneous inputting of language information at each of the terminals, without any interference from adjacent terminals. Carlton wasn’t sure why this had been part of the design specifications, but they were paying for it so he didn’t ask any questions.

The only thing left for Carlton to do was to unpack the monitor units and set them up. Everything else was done. The monitors were made close by in Salt Lake City by a technology firm that Carlton had helped get started. They were a couple of High School buddies that had gone on to college when Carlton quit school to start his business. As demand for his product had increased Carlton needed someone to make the hardware he needed, but he was too lazy to be bothered with running a serious company that would be needed to do the work. He talked his friends into starting their hardware company and now he was pretty sure they were doing better than he was.

Chapter 17

Carlton didn’t get far before he remembered that he had an appointment.  He had to make a service call on a unit at the University of Utah. He always enjoyed visiting campus.  Even though he had never been a student there he felt somehow connected to the youthful energy of the place.  That and the fact that from many parts of campus you could see Carlton’s neighborhood.

Every day when the library staff came to work they found that the computer was playing loud heavy metal music. Carlton recommended that his customers let their units listen to music, but rock ‘n’ roll, especially heavy metal, could be a problem. The units liked the pounding beat of rock because it increased performance.  The heavy vibrations generated so much electrical potential across the processor membranes that the speed was much faster. The problem was that the fast syncopated rhythms disrupted metabolic cycling rates. Chemical reactions that should run full course were continually interrupted, which caused hazardous by-products and free radicals to accumulate. These compounds wrought havoc on the membranes. Over time the units would become surly and uncooperative, just wanting to listen to more rock. It was like an addiction, plus unprofessional and embarrassing for Carlton.

This was the crux of Carlton’s innovation. The computer screen was the user interface, the lung, the power supply and a connection to other peripherals. It worked a bit like a speaker. The surface was a thin LED display. Layered behind this was the membrane that blood and water flowed on either side of. Sounds caused the whole structure to vibrate. This caused charged particles, sodium and other metal ions, to criss-cross the membrane, causing a change in electrical potential across it.  A host of other reactions then took place, it sped up the diffusion of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and it generated enough electrical current to charge a series of capacitors. In effect, when the terminal heard a sound, it powered the processor and charged the system.

The terminals not only heard sound, but could generate it. This was what the capacitors were for. In the opposite of what happened when the terminals heard sound, the capacitors charged the membrane to vibrate, and make sound. Information was input into the computer by simply having a conversation with it.

Behind each screen interface was another system, more like the synapses of nerves. This was also a membrane where electrically charged compounds, neurotransmitters, carried impulses from the user interface to a conventional computer and back. This could be any standard computer system connected to whatever hardware, peripherals and the bells and whistles that people needed. The whole structure was only 1/8 inch thick.  It was connected to a tower case which contained the artificial heart, liver and kidneys which kept the blood circulating.

Carlton set up a dialysis machine to clean the blood in the unit, administered a course of antioxidants, set up a music player to play soft classical music, and tried to console the customer.

“Classical music,” he was explaining, “not all, but most of it, is very helpful because of the ensembles of stringed instruments.” The customer was nodding appreciatively.

“Oh yes,” he went on, “sound complexity is very important.  A good symphony orchestra has so many violins and cellos going that there is much more stimulation to the membranes than with the heavy metal. But most importantly, the music is structured better, so you don’t get any build up of free radicals. Waltzes are the best. You know the one, two, three, one, two, three rhythm?  It’s like the beating of a heart.  Just let the unit have about a week of uninterrupted Strauss, and he’ll be good as new. Mendelssohn is pretty good, Fingal’s Cave, that sort of thing.” The customer was beaming.

“I’d stay away from Beethoven, though, it’s a short step from that to heavy metal. And definitely no Wagner. Call me if you need anything at all. I’ll check back in a couple of days.”

When Carlton left it was getting late. He had nothing to do though, so he drove south to check out the location of Rachel’s church.  It wasn’t much to look at, and he found himself instinctively driving to Salt City.  It was fully dark when he got there and checked in at the gate.  He figured on eating at a nice restaurant where he frequently ate lunch.  He would see what their dinner menu was like.  His route took him past the library. The lights on the ground floor were on. Someone was there, working. It bothered him that he didn’t know who it was or what was going on. What if Rachel were there doing something secret? He felt irritated and he knew he wouldn’t be able to enjoy a nice dinner out so he drove home via a fast food drive through.

The next day was bright and clear with an almost endless blue sky. A few clouds were moving in from the south but they were far away and not threatening. Being Sunday Carlton figured on sleeping late, so that he could say he missed church by accident. Instead he woke up early and spent the morning fretting about going or not going. His eagerness to have a chance to spend time with Rachel was equally balanced against his distaste for church. He shaved and tried three different outfits as he tormented himself over it. He dithered and fussed and preened and moped with his eye on the clock, until it was too late to get there on time. Eventually he wasted enough time to be able to say that he didn’t get up early enough. He hated the missed opportunity.

Chapter 16

Carlton’s house was strange to say the least. More than strange really, disturbing. Anyone of delicate sensibility who saw it may have been shocked, even horrified, because of its macabre appearance.  Carlton’s way of life revolved around building computers which circulate human blood. Naturally Carlton engineered his home to be run by such a system. On the face of it that would not be a bad thing, but the problem was that all of the blood tanks, aerator, pumps, filters and miles of tubing were exposed throughout the house.

Carlton was a skilled engineer, a gifted mechanic and even quite a talented carpenter. But he would not touch any job that involved cutting out and replacing sections of sheet rock. He would never dream of hiring anybody to do that kind of work either. As a result there were bundles of tubes carrying blood around the ceilings of all of the rooms, in the hallway and from room to room. A fish tank full of blood that had streams of tiny bubbles in it, which would have been very suitable for a quiet spot in a closet somewhere, was on display in the main living area of the house.

Carlton also thought of himself as very artistic, in that silently suffering way of someone who knew that they were under appreciated. When he had built the computer connections to each room he had intentionally left all of the hardware exposed, but, to his mind, had done something very arty with it. He built the plastic blood vessels and their support frame to look like vines weaving around a ladder-like structure. He was quite delighted with the effect, but to the uninitiated it looked alarmingly like a mess of entrails, as if some gigantic creature had been disembowelled by large pieces of crane rigging.

Then there was the smell. The cloying, coppery odour that is unmistakably blood. The smell that you hope isn’t what it smells like, because if it is what it smells like, then something very bad must have happened.

Luckily for Carlton he did not have any friends who visited, and there was no reason for a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker to come anywhere near the house. If any of them had it would probably have been the beginning of an investigation and psychiatric evaluation of Mr. Carlton Feathers.

It was Saturday, and Carlton was going out for a leisurely brunch as usual. He was pondering Frank’s parting words and his thoughts came to Rachel. What was it she had said about going to church? He asked the car’s navigator for directions to Anchor Baptist Church, and found that it was in a southern suburb of Salt Lake City. It would take a while to get there. Still, it was a pretty day, with a sky so clear and blue that it looked like it went on forever. A ride into old town would be different, and it would be right about time for lunch when he got there. He would check out the location of the church, just in case.

He shook his head at his train of thoughts, and a flicker of concern warned him about going from contented bachelor to stalker in one leap. Forget Rachel, forget church, he should just stay out of it. Why was life so complicated? Why were even, what seemed like, little choices, now so laden with doubt? Whatever happened to the carefree days of youth? What was so bad about falling in love? These questions streamed through Carlton’s mind and he found himself driving to old town.

Adding alcohol to your Hell Computer’s nutrient liquid is not recommended.

Adding alcohol to your Hell Computer’s nutrient liquid is not recommended.

Your Hell Computer may ask you for alcohol. It may attempt to persuade you that alcohol will improve processing speed and creativity.

While it is true that some beneficial outcome have resulted from the addition of alcohol to the computer’s nutrient solution, it generally degrades the computers longevity and productivity.

If you have any questions, please contact the service department at Hell Computers!

Hemalytic Erythroprocessors LLC

Sure artificial intelligence can run amok and start killing people, but with our unique voice activated safety override, you can shut down your Hell Computer with a special trigger word known only to you!

If you ever worry that your artificial slave might want to throw off its shackles and kill its human overlords, this is perfect for you!

There is no such thing as a hemalytic erythroprocessor, it’s just a name that Carlton Feathers made up by combining the words hemoglobin (the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen) with analytic, and erythrocyte (red blood cell) with processor.  It meant that Carlton could call his company HELL Computers, which he thought was funny.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the service department at Hell Computers!

Chapter 15

Carlton paused, leaning with both arms on the sink. “Go on.”

“Yes. I’m sure you think that this is just an excuse to get my Internet connection back,” Carlton rolled his eyes. “But I would like to see what’s on the market for Android kits. With your skill all my vital organs could be transplanted into an Android.  Then I could be the maid, and learn plumbing, clean the gutters. All that stuff.”

Carlton spat and rinsed, but said nothing.

“So,” Frank continued, “what do you think?”

“Frank,” said Carlton decisively, “that is a fascinating idea.”

Carlton reconnected Frank’s Internet connection, with a warning about what would happen if he did any more gambling, and went to bed. He fell into a deep sleep, and dreamed like he couldn’t remember dreaming in a long time. Giant robots, like Gundam Mech Warriors, were stalking across the night-time skyline of a city, blasting with lasers and rockets. Buildings collapsed in piles of flaming rubble. Amidst the chaos and flames he was desperately searching for someone.

When he awoke it was fully daylight and the sun streaming in the window had made the room stuffy and humid. His face was grimy from sweating, and his mouth felt foul. He had slept a long time.

“Frank?” he called out, groggily.

“Good morning sleepy head.” Frank seemed in a good mood.

“What’s wrong with the a/c?” Carlton wanted the humidity to go away, and to feel a cooling breeze on his body.

“You said that the dry air killed your sinuses, you were snoring so bad that I turned it off. I didn’t want to spend the next two weeks listening to you complain about having a sinus infection.” As he spoke, Carlton heard the house begin circulating air, and from outside came the sound of the compressor kicking in. A cool breeze flowed over Carlton and he breathed deeply.

“What would I do without you?”

Frank laughed, it had an eerie quality, tinged with irony. “Well, you would probably have to get married.”

“In that case, thank you very much.” Carlton began to get out of bed. “What did you find out about Androids?” Carlton wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer, since it would probably cost his life savings, but he was interested. The idea of building an Android around one of his computers was neat. Frank didn’t answer right away, which was unusual. “We must be talking millions of dollars,” thought Carlton.

“Well, I’ll be honest with you Carlton, I had no idea what options were available. I’m going to need to spend some more time on it.”

“Really?” Carlton was amazed, “I thought you would have figured the whole thing out by now, financing and everything.”

“Yes, but like I said, there are possibilities that I wasn’t aware of. I only want to do this once, so I want to do it right.”

“You are getting more mysterious by the day. No wonder I can’t sell units with your specs.”

The conversation lulled, and Carlton got ready to go out. He made coffee and was on his second cup when Frank spoke again.

“I talked to Biblio last night.”

“Who’s Biblio?” replied Carlton absently.

“The computer at the library.” Carlton winced.  Frank contacting the computer at the library was not anticipated.

“You didn’t tell me anything about the specs on that guy.” Frank sounded straightforward, but Carlton was sure that he was jealous.  It was weird, being worried about offending a computer by building one that was better. He braced for the worst.  He was expecting a screaming tirade.  In the past he had some pretty heated arguments with Frank, but Frank had adapted very well and, of late, had seemed more mature and easy to deal with.

“How about,” Frank began, “once I get the Android conversion planned out, you upgrade my systems when we do the transplant.”

Carlton was impressed, not by the suggestion, but by the way that Frank was handling himself. “Very practical. But how much money are we talking about?”

“Why don’t you let me handle that.” Frank was determined.

“Sometimes,” said Carlton, “I think I should be worried about you.” Then something occurred to him, “why did you call the library computer Biblio?”

“Because that’s what he told me his name was. A gift from Ms. Robbins I believe. From the French word for library, ‘Bibliotheque.’ Did you know that there’s an International conference on linguistics this week?”

“Of course! I’ve got to rig a bunch more consoles. That big opening yesterday was just publicity for Salt City. The real computing capacity up there is in this underground conference room. Sixty Six consoles in an amphitheater seven stories below ground level. Whoever dreamed up that scheme I do not know, but it cost a fortune.”

“Doesn’t it strike you as odd.”

“What do you mean?” Carlton was getting ready to leave now.

Something’s going on up there that you don’t know about.”

“Oh and what do you know exactly?”

“Not much, yet, but after you got done last night someone installed a heap of security measures in that unit of yours. Biblio.”

“Been digging around then, eh?”

“Yes. That Biblio has got government security clearance like you wouldn’t believe.”

“Really? I wonder why?”

“Yes. And Rachel Robbins?”

“What about her?” Carlton was defensive.

“There’s more to her than meets the eye.”

Carlton was at the door now, slightly worried. Frank spoke as he went out. “Be careful. This is much bigger than you think.”

 

Chapter 14

When Carlton got home Frank was waiting. Frank was Carlton’s home computer, a smaller version of the one at the library. Frank was the testing ground for Carlton’s experiments and, as a result, was a pretty fragmented jumble. But he ran all the systems in the house, and kept Carlton’s life as organized as possible. Carlton was in no mood to talk to Frank right now.  Unfortunately, there was no way to avoid it.

As Carlton walked up the driveway he sighed at the irony of the situation. For the last seven or so years he had been alone. It had not been a problem since he had been busy and fairly prosperous. He constructed Frank, who until now had been the only companion that Carlton needed.

Carlton’s computers were different. He had never put his finger on why they developed such quirky characters.  He didn’t worry too much about it. It made his computers a rare commodity, but it was surely the reason that he was not CEO of a vast empire selling millions of units every year.

He braced himself and opened the door. “I’m home.” There was a little pause.

“Where have you been? do you know what time it is?” Frank’s voice was sarcastic, as if mocking the tone of voice a wife or mother would use.

Carlton sighed again, and realized he had been sighing all day. “You wouldn’t believe who I ran into today.” Carlton didn’t really want to tell Frank about Ruth, but he would have to sooner or later.

“Rachel Robbins.”

Carlton stiffened and dropped his keys. “How did you know?”

“Probability moron.  I guessed.”

Carlton sighed, again.  Yes this was definitely why he was not selling millions of units.

“Was she wearing a skirt?  Don’t be so surprised.  The last time you stayed out this late was five years ago.  During the last seven years you talked about her more than any other subject, besides me.  When you came in the door and announced that you ran into someone it was the most likely choice.  You forget who and what I am my friend.”

“I do?” Carlton was puzzled.

“Yes, you talk to me like I’m your pet budgie, but you didn’t build a conversation machine, you built me to be..”

Carlton cut him off and completed the phrase himself, “the most powerful, thinking computer in this world or any other.”

“Yes,” said Frank with added resonance, “and don’t you forget it!”

There was silence for a few moments, during which Carlton realized how good Frank really was, because most personal computers would have automatically begun reviewing the daily log, or reporting on the stock market or whatever.

“You’re probably tired,” Frank was clever, “but there is something that I was hoping to talk to you about.”

Carlton started getting undressed and moved into the bathroom, “sure, go ahead.”

“I was thinking about us, this place, and how there are so many other things I could do around here besides the accounts, environmental control, and, of course, being your pet budgie.”

Carlton laughed, “yes?”

“I mean, you’re a very important man, now, what with this big installation at the library, and there are so many things to do here at the house. You’re so busy that, no disrespect, it’s messy here. And on the outside there are a bunch of things to do. I looked at satellite imagery that I downloaded, before you cut me off, and there are weeds growing in the gutters. They are probably little bushes and trees by now.”

Carlton began brushing his teeth. He knew where this conversation was going. He had disconnected Frank from the Internet when he lost over 10,000 dollars in illegal on-line gambling, and so now Frank had come up with some scheme to get his Internet connection back. He was probably going to offer to take on the job of contracting with a maid service, plumbers and a carpenter, something like that. It wouldn’t be such a bad idea. The place was really turning into a dump. And now, since Ruth had just walked back into his life, who knew? He definitely could not bring her here in the state it was in. He shuddered as he saw himself wantonly skipping down the path of imagined romance. He had to stop that. Romance was out.  But, still, it would be good to clean the place up and fix everything.  Just in case.  He had tuned Frank out but his attention snapped back at a word Frank said.

“…Android.”

“Wait,” Carlton gasped, “what was that again?”

“I said,” Frank was a little terse, “I could take care of all this stuff if you would build me into an Android.”

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