Monday, June 7, 2021

Observations As I Study Biology

This is where my brain is right now. But hey, I've passed two CLEPs so far, so I'm making progress.

I can't say I've always loved science. I kind of hated it before we discovered Apologia, though I do remember enjoying my report on cuts and the presentation my sister and I did on the digestive system, complete with a hand drawn diagram named "Mary the Body Girl." Still, it was when we discovered Apologia that I decided I loved science. (The first Apologia book I did was the elementary astronomy course, and then I went into General Science and the rest of the high school books. Anatomy is HARD. But I still did it because it was my elective that I chose because I'd finished the required sciences, didn't want to go my senior year without science, and Apologia doesn't have a high school astronomy course. But I digress.) Science is awesome and super cool and extremely fascinating. And brushing up on biology for my CLEP, I'm rediscovering why I loved it so much in school.

So a couple of observations.

1. Writing style really matters, even in school books. Maybe especially in school books. I'm rereading my high school textbook and also using some online CLEP-specific resources to study. They're all covering the same basic information, but I have to say, Apologia is my favorite. It's the most engaging, you can tell Dr. Wile actually cares about what he's writing about, and I get the most out of it. Dry recitations of facts aren't enough. You have to actually engage your audience.

2. Worldview really does affect your interpretation. Obviously, Apologia is Creation-based science. These other materials most certainly are not. Thing is, they present the same data, the same processes, the same facts. Mitosis is mitosis, no matter if you're a creationist or a secular scientist. However. There are big differences in how things get interpreted. The thing that stands out most to me is how in the secular texts they keep saying how the common elements/structures/etc. between different types of living things are evidence for a common ancestor. Whereas I look at it and see evidence for a common Designer. Just like writers have unique quirks, certain tropes they tend to use, and so on, you would expect for life designed by one Creator to have the same building blocks. But these building blocks can create incredibly diverse organisms that truly are mind-blowing.

3. Biology really is mind boggling. Seriously. Even the "simplest" of lifeforms is INCREDIBLY complex. Heck, even the simplest protein is extremely complex and specific. Not only is it mind boggling to me how these atoms fit together to make molecules which work together to make cells which combine and reproduce and process food into energy to create larger organisms which can think and do all kind of things, it's mind boggling to me that people can really believe it happened by accident. If even one amino acid in a protein is wrong, life won't work right. And the odds of that simplest protein assembling accidently in that precise way is roughly the same as the probability of a poker player drawing a royal flush 19 times in a row. And that's only if we limit the available amino acids to the 17 in that protein. Basically, successfully navigating an asteroid field is child's play compared to the odds of life happening by accident. Makes me want to go reread Yellow & Pink. It really does take more faith to believe in evolution than creation.

4. There's an element to life that just can't be explained in scientific terms. See, as I read about molecular biology and biochemistry and cells and enzymes and everything, it all seems abstract and like it's missing something. Like you could put those pieces together, but it takes something else to make it truly alive. And as I'm typing this, I'm thinking back to the creation of the Middle Earth dwarves in The Silmarillion. Forgive me that I don't remember which of the Valar made them. I guess I'm not enough of a LOTR nerd. But this member of the Valar created dwarves which were really just puppets. They'd do stuff when he made them act, but they weren't truly alive until Illúvatar breathed life into them. There's a spiritual and supernatural aspect to life. God formed Adam, I'm sure creating and arranging all the atoms and molecules and cells and everything, and then He breathed life into him. Scientists will never be able to replicate that. And someday I will finish reading The Silmarillion.

5. This is why I love science fiction. As I read about biology (specifically things like cloning and viruses and GMOs), it gets the wheels of my imagination turning just like it used to when I was a teenager. I love biological experimentation oriented sci-fi, and things like cloning, biological experimentation, and eugenics fascinate me in a dystopian kind of way. Yes, I do have some vague plans for Acktorek books involving biological warfare/experimentation. I just...have to figure out the plots. Right now I've only got concepts. There's just so much scope for imagination in science, speculating on where things could go and contemplating the ethics of such developments. It so makes me want to write.

So these are the things that have been going through my head lately. Someday these things will come out in new science fiction novels, I'm sure. And in the meantime, science is awesome. Go read some Apologia (but make sure you get editions written by Dr. Wile).

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