Essay Contests

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The intent of our Creation Science High School and Undergraduate Essay Contests is to encourage awareness and interest in both the historical and observational evidences for creation by developing students’ understanding in an area of creation science research of their choosing. Papers will be grouped and judged according to their entry category: high school or college.

Papers will be grouped and judged according to their entry category: high school or college.

The writing prompts are intended to motivate responses and thought processes.

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Writing Prompts

The writing prompts are intended to motivate responses and thought processes.

  • Five questions are drawn from the areas of science, math, language, and education.
  • The three historical perspectives promote opportunities to focus on a historical event, person, or school of thought (and explain the impact on creation science).

For the topic of your paper, please choose one of the selected questions or historical perspectives.

– Selected Questions –

Question #1: Given the introductory information related to particle physics, students choosing this question will write about PET scans (i.e., positron emission tomography).

Disclaimer: Before reading the writing prompt for this question, we invite you to first read a short online article dated October 31, 2018, by physicist Vernon R. Cupps, PhD, called “Baryon Conservation and the Antimatter Mystery.” This article appears in the November 2018 issue of the science- and creation- magazine Acts & Facts, and, in our opinion, proves to be an extremely insightful resource for students interested in picking positron emission tomography (or PET scanning in medicine) for their essay topic. Here Dr. Cupps not only discusses the science and deeper theological issues surrounding the extraordinary imbalance between ordinary matter and anti-matter, but students will find that he also does this in a way that translates exceptionally well to the issue-at-hand, that is, explaining pair production and annihilation in PET scans in medicine.
Particle Physics
In the October 19, 2017 issue of the journal Nature (see article here), scientists revealed their latest findings from an ongoing experiment that attempts to explain why there is more matter than anti-matter in the universe (an asymmetry that favors our existence). The scientists used the Anti-proton Decelerator, part of the physics program associated with the Large Hadron Collider facilities of CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland, to collect data on matter and anti-matter interactions via the Baryon Antibaryon Symmetry Experiment (otherwise known by the acronym BASE). Results showed parity (or symmetry) with matter anti-matter interactions observed previously/elsewhere.
Data was arrived at by accelerating and firing protons (the matter) into a collection of anti-protons (the anti-matter) and then recording the resulting collisions — in an attempt to detect any theoretically remaining particles from the resulting proton anti-proton interactions. Notably, the associated interactions were aided by the positive electric charge carried by the proton and the negative electric charge carried by the anti-proton (i.e., opposite signs attract). Each collision produced an amazing amount of energy, but the particles annihilate each other (i.e., simply disappear). This phenomenon is referred to as an annihilation interaction.
TECHNICAL NOTE: Protons, together with neutrons, are subatomic particles found in the nuclei of atoms (and, collectively, they are referred to as nucleons). Each proton, as well as each neutron, falls into a general classification group called baryons. Under an even more generalized classification, protons and neutrons are part of the hadron family. Both protons and neutrons are considered large particles, and thus, we start to develop meaning for the term Large Hadron Collider, which is a type of synchrotron — a specifically designed particle accelerator. Furthermore, protons and neutrons, together with a third notable particle, the electron (the subatomic particles that orbit the nucleons), are considered ordinary particles, and importantly, these three particles constitute the building blocks of ordinary matter (as well as the backbone of the Standard Model of particle physics). Thus, when contrasted with ordinary matter, we define anti-matter as material composed of anti-particles (which are equal in mass but opposite in sign of the electric charge). For example, just as there is one proton and one electron in a hydrogen atom, there is one anti-proton and one anti-electron in an anti-hydrogen atom.
The results reported in Nature were based on a very precise and accurate measuring technique — the most sophisticated technique applied to date. On this point, we emphasize that these findings agree with the overall body of evidence concerning observational matter/anti-matter symmetry, evidence that is at odds with the fundamental imbalance weighted toward matter that we readily and rather easily experience around us, and this carries two important implications. First, the resultant matter/anti-matter symmetry clearly fails to answer why there is such an abundance of ordinary matter existing in the universe (and how and why we got here under the Big Bang theory of the cosmos). And second, garnered by the empirical evidence, the overall findings uphold the Standard Model of particle physics.
Positron Emission Tomography (or PET Scans in Medicine)
pet-schemaThe technique of PET imaging
Although we can quickly risk getting lost in the details of BASE, and rendering it as a mere “thought experiment” bordering on the abstract, a more pragmatic understanding of matter and anti-matter (as well as of annihilation interactions) is attainable. For this we look at medical physics, and specifically, medical imaging via positron emission tomography (PET). PET scan imaging is a beneficial medical technique routinely used, albeit selectively, to diagnose, stage, or rule out physiological abnormalities at the molecular level for many people/patients. In fact, we point out that PET imaging, as a technique, is only made possible by exploiting the anti-matter physics common to the electron (i.e., the electron’s anti-matter counterpart called the positron). Thus, we are of the opinion that a proper framework with which to construct our understanding of particle physics occurs through a well-developed appreciation for the technique employed in PET scanning. This refers chiefly to pair production as well as annihilation interactions.
annihilation-interactionSchematic of pair production and annihilation interaction

For the contest, two considerations are raised concerning anti-electrons (or positrons) and PET scan imaging:

    • Option 1: Please demonstrate a basic understanding of the Standard Model of particle physics by describing the process of PET scanning. (Note: pay close attention to the differences between annihilation interactions and pair production.)
    • Option 2: Not only discuss the Standard Model of particle physics as well as the process of PET scanning (including discussion on annihilation interactions and pair production), but please center your discussion on what the ramifications are for the prevalence of ordinary matter in the universe (via the so-called universal asymmetry that favors ordinary matter, as evidenced through an account of biblical creation).
Remark: Interested students should look over a clear and concise summary of the PET technique titled “How Does It Work? Positron Emission Tomography” from the June 2003 clinical review/science editorial by Abi Berger, appearing in the medical journal BMJ.

Question #2: This question deals with cosmology.

In the 2018 article called “A Case for Cosmological Redshifts,” astronomer Danny R. Faulkner reviewed at length three important discoveries in cosmology: the Hubble relation, the expansion of the universe, and the redshifts of quasars. Moreover, Dr. Faulkner explored the historical ramifications of these discoveries while emphasizing the development of a well-ordered cosmological model of the universe, especially regarding the construction of a correct biblical cosmology. As a result of the comprehensiveness and utility of the review, the article has become a valuable resource in the creation literature by helping many of us better understand the observational science that has taken place for close to a century now on the expanding, observable universe. This is something particularly important to those of us who are not astronomers.
Dr. Faulkner highlights three issues
Issue 1 – Is the universe expanding?
According to Dr. Faulkner, the most straightforward interpretation of the data is, “yes,” the universe is expanding. Let us consider the importance of the Hubble relation — named after Edwin Hubble from his 1929 paper “A Relation Between Distance and Radial Velocity Among Extra-Galactic Nebulae.” This relation was derived from original observations using the Hooker 100-inch telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California to plot a data set of 24 galaxies in terms of a galaxy’s redshift (expressed in velocity per second) compared to its distance (expressed in parsecs). It turns out that a linear relationship exists, such that the larger the galaxy’s redshift, the greater the galaxy’s distance is from the earth. And the very essence of this relation — i.e., the graph or plot of the data set — represents the original framework for showing an expanding universe.
Remark: Pragmatically, the Hubble relation confirmed a prediction based on general relativity — one of the most successfully tested theories of all time. In point of fact, prior to the publishing of Hubble’s paper, cosmologists had used the theory of general relativity to predict that the universe would be either expanding or contracting.
Issue 2 – Does the redshift of light from other galaxies indicate distance?
Similarly, the most straightforward interpretation is, “yes,” redshifts associated with other galaxies indicate distance. It must be mentioned that, observationally, this specific form of redshift occurs because of the stretching of space, and we say it is cosmological in nature. (For more information on cosmological redshifts, please see below.)
Issue 3 – Does the redshift of light from quasars also indicate distance?
From Dr. Faulkner’s review of evidence compiled over the last 50 years, this answer is a compelling “yes.” Here, too, the redshift is also cosmological in nature, which means it likewise occurs as a result of the stretching of space. (And once again, we refer you below for more information on cosmological redshifts.)
Difference between Doppler motion and cosmological redshifts
Doppler motion describes the shift of light out of the visual range and into either the bluer ultraviolet range (for light from objects that travel toward you) or the infrared range (for light from objects that travel away from you). More precisely stated, the wavelength of light from objects traveling toward you is compressed, and the wavelength of light from objects traveling away from you is stretched. Therefore, because everything in space is always moving (including our solar system), the light from any light-emitting object in the observable universe is the combined sum of its Doppler motion (either blueshifted or redshifted) and its cosmological redshift (due to the inherent stretching of space away from us).
Enter quasars
Quasars were initially discovered in the early 1960’s, but it took astronomers some time to figure out what they were seeing. In fact, the term quasar means “quasi-stellar object.” According to Dr. Faulkner, a quasar is a point in space that has more luminosity than that of an entire galaxy (trillions of stars). Though described as a “point in space,” quasars are roughly the size of our solar system compared to the enormous span of a galaxy, such as our very own Milky Way Galaxy or perhaps the “near-by” Andromeda Galaxy. One of the most popular quasars is known as 3C 273; however, a quasar called 3C 454.3 is one of the most luminous known objects in the universe. It is thought today that quasars are powered by super-massive black holes.
artistic-quasar1Artistic rendition of a quasar
em-spectrumQuasars emit across the entire electromagnetic spectrum
Notably, quasars emit across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from radiowaves to x-rays. In fact, they were first discovered through radiotelescopes. However, as already mentioned, the most distinguishing feature about quasars is their high luminosity (since their peak emission is in the near ultraviolet and optical ranges). It is also important to note that quasars have a large redshift that is cosmological in nature, and thus quasars are very distant objects. More importantly, this combination of high redshift and vast distance equates to a large look-back time (and we can consider look-back time as our window into the observable universe).
Today, quasars are recognized as early galaxies, and are described or noted as galaxies characterized with an active galactic nucleus (AGN). Interestingly, our understanding of galaxies is presently viewed as a continuum that ranges from the most active AGNs (such as quasars) to the so-called normal galaxies (such as the Andromeda Galaxy or the Milky Way).

For the contest:

    • Option 1: Because much of astronomy involves the collection of light, in your own words please describe the electromagnetic spectrum, the duality of light, the concept of spectroscopy, and the notion of redshift. Note that a useful web resource with which to learn more about light and spectroscopy is the Learning from Light Educational Home Page presented by William “Bill” P. Blair of John Hopkins University. And another good web resource, one that focuses entirely on the electromagnetic spectrum, is Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum developed by NASA. Finally, a brief outline comparing so-called normal galaxies to the most energetic active galactic nuclei (i.e., quasars) is also encouraged.
    • Option 2: Please research, compare, and contrast the proposed young earth cosmological models of the universe according to a biblical creation account (i.e., the history and development of the young earth creation cosmogony). Also, please research why the moon is slowly spiraling away from the earth, and then comment accordingly on how this presents a conundrum for evolutionists.

Question #3: This question deals with the fossil record, as well as geology.

This three-part question collectively addresses the structure and sophistication of trilobites (and the period known as the Cambrian explosion), the aftermath of the Mount St. Helens eruption, and the formation of stalactites and stalagmites.
    • First, students should discuss trilobites and give your opinion on whether or not these creatures were primitive or complex (and why). Also, please discuss what is meant by the term Cambrian explosion, and if this might be explained by a global flood.
    • Next, students should summarize the article, “Mount St. Helens and Catastrophism” by Steven A. Austin, PhD, who presented this material at the First International Conference on Creationism, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 4 – 9, 1986.
    • Finally, much debate has taken place between creationists and evolutionists concerning the amount of time required for the formation of stalactites and stalagmites, with evolutionary claims extending into the countless thousands of years. With this in mind, students should discuss the formation and growth of stalactites and stalagmites upon review of the 1932 article published in the Ohio Journal of Science, “An Unusual Occurrence of Stalactites and Stalagmites” by Karl Ver Steeg of the College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio. And, as part of your response, please make sure you describe the factors that influence stalactite and stalagmite growth rates. Please cite sources that support your argument.
      question-3-part-3
      stalactites-and-stalagmites-ohio-caverns
Figure: The top left image shows the face page to Karl Ver Steeg’s 1932 article “An Unusual Occurrence of Stalactites and Stalagmites.” The top right image is a companion picture from Ver Steeg’s article, in which we see stalactites made of calcium hydroxide, known by its chemical nomenclature as Ca(OH)2, that formed in ambient air conditions under a railroad bridge above Bever Street in Wooster, Ohio. The bottom center image is a recent snapshot of underground stalactites and stalagmites made of calcite, or CaCO3, presently seen at the Ohio Caverns in West Liberty, Ohio.
Remark: Students who lean heavily towards mathematics and the sciences may weight their papers accordingly, whereas students who prefer the exploration of English and history may also weight their papers accordingly. Regardless, responses should be balanced with considerations given to origins. Also, with respect to stalactites and stalagmites, a summary that highlights any differences between stalactites exposed to the elements (like those that were the topic of the 1932 article) and stalactites formed underground (like those found within the Ohio Caverns) is also encouraged, since such a comparison of contrasted settings may show intriguing results with respect to growth rates. (Hint: Ver Steeg’s article will help with such a comparison.)

Science deals with observations of present states and processes, and can only discuss the prehistoric past.

– Jeremy L. Walter, PhD, Mechanical Engineering

Question #4: This question touches on climatology and oceanography with respect to a biblical creation worldview.

This topic considers the relation of certain design elements, in effect today, for the heating and cooling of the planet. As such, students who choose this topic discuss patterns between climate and oceanic-derived storms, i.e., greenhouse heating and the hurricane as a heat engine, respectively. For details, please download: “On the Study of Climate and Oceanography.”

Question #5: This question deals with knowledge, research, and what science is.

In response to a question that ultimately dealt with mankind’s extra-biblical search for knowledge, C.S. Lewis (1970) wrote in God in the Dock:
If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents — the accidental byproduct of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts — i.e., of Materialism and Astronomy — are merely accidental byproducts, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset. (pp. 52-53)
Human knowledge is limited by ignorance (we don’t have all the facts), error (we misinterpret the facts), and bias (we distort the facts). However, the Bible tells us:
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23,24a, English Standard Version)
Given the right perspective, a search for scientific knowledge can be a noble endeavor, and at the same time, a monumental and almost precarious task. One historical example was the concerted efforts by those researchers who tackled the Human Genome Project (completed in 2003). And yet, if we look for a somewhat similar but drastically different example currently underway, we may consider the Physiome Project whereby various scientific, engineering, and mathematical disciplines are coming together in an effort to shed light on how each and every component in the human body works as an integrated whole. The aims of the Physiome Project are meant to be quite influential, as outcomes are projected to impact (in a positive way) the everyday roles of physicians, biochemists, chemists, and bioengineers. To this end, a popular example involves the field of cardiology, where efforts to better understand potentially fatal heart rhythms are ongoing.

For the contest:

However, if we pause for a moment, clear our heads, and consider what it means to search for scientific knowledge, we must ask ourselves just what exactly is science and research, and what is meant by the term scientific method?
Students who address this specific question must summarize the articles “Creation Conversation: The Turning Point” posted by the Institute for Creation Research and “Science or the Bible?” posted by Answers in Genesis.
Remark: You are encouraged to research additional sources. (Remember to please cite the sources for your argument.)

– Historical Perspectives –

Historical perspective #1: A topic that deals with mathematics and education.

Mathematics offers its simplest and most elegant use in the mere act of counting, but as a school of thought and field of study, we may define mathematics itself as the fundamental language of science. In this light, this topic touches upon the concept of truth defined through the medium of mathematics and the inherent, absolute truth we receive through Scripture.
Here the intent is two-fold for students choosing this topic:
    • To develop deeper insight into mathematics
    • To form — from a Christian perspective — a more well-rounded foundation for the study of mathematics, and correspondingly, its applications in science
Students must review and in their own words summarize the 2005 article “Reflections Upon the Relationship Between Mathematical and Biblical Truth” by Dale L. McIntyre, published in the Journal of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences.
We point out that in the introduction — see the opening statement of the article — Professor McIntyre quotes the title of a 1997 book written by historian George M. Marsden, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship. Notably, in this book Marsden makes a case for the Christian perspective (and the much needed role of the believing Christian) in education, culture, and society. In essence, Marsden quite effectively argues that Christian scholarship is really not such an outlandish notion, and in fact goes even further, claiming that such scholarship may indeed be beneficial.
For this reason, students should also include a subsection in their response that contributes their viewpoints and opinions concerning the impact of a Christian education on a biblical creation worldview.
In 2016 the Journal of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences changed from being an online journal to refereed conference proceedings.

Historical perspective #2: Students who choose this topic write a short biography on the life and work of the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-1783).

For students who pick this topic, please write a short biography on the life and work of the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (pronounced OY-lur or OY-ler). Please pay special attention to and include the following:
    • Euler’s theological views on God as Creator
    • The equality known as Euler’s identity: an intriguing example of Euler’s work
Remark: Students will find value in reviewing the 2006 article “The God-Fearing Life of Leonhard Euler” by Dale L. McIntyre, published in the Journal of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences.
In 2016 the Journal of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences changed from being an online journal to refereed conference proceedings.

Historical perspective #3: Students choosing this topic will write about the influence of the Greek language and the Roman roads on the timing and spreading of God’s Word.

Students who choose this topic should discuss the era of widespread adoption of the Greek language across the eastern Mediterranean (zeroing in on lands encompassing modern-day Israel).
Take note of the history of how Greek came to be used in this region: its significance, to what extent the language was spoken/written, and over what period of time it flourished.
    • Focus your response on the form Koine Greek, mentioning the Attic and Ionic dialects it was based on.
    • Briefly talk about the specificity and precision of Greek: highlight the five parts (or aspects) of Greek verb usage — person, number, tense, voice, and mood.
In addition, include your views on whether or not the Roman occupation of this region discouraged or encouraged the use of the Greek language (i.e., whether or not the Romans allowed Greek as a common language, also known as a trade language).
Students should discuss how this topic relates to the “timing” of God’s Word, and what significance, if any, the Roman roads may have had on the spreading of God’s Word from the Mediterranean Basin.
And, finally, with respect to origins, please read “Have We Misunderstood Genesis 1:1?” by Dr. Joshua D. Wilson and comment on what “in the beginning” means to you. (We note that here Dr. Wilson draws the reader’s attention to the influence of the Septuagint — the Greek Old Testament.)
Remark: The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Hebrew text), and is recognized as the oldest complete version of the Old Testament. In fact, completed by Jews fluent in Greek and Hebrew in the third century B.C., the Septuagint was considered an authoritative text for Jews well into (and beyond) the first century A.D., including Jesus Himself and the New Testament writers. Moreover, Dr. Wilson recently wrote a follow-up article on “beginnings,” published in Answers Research Journal, called “Linguistic Traits of Hebrew Realtor Nouns and Their Implications for Translating Genesis 1:1.”

Submission Guidelines for High School and College

Papers will be grouped and judged according to their entry category: high school or college.

  • Topics may be drawn from the aforementioned questions selected by the editorial team in the areas of science, math, language, or education.
  • The category of historical perspectives provides opportunities to focus on intriguing events, people, or schools of thought (and explain the impact on creation science).
  • In fairness for the varying topics, papers may range in length per students’ discretion from a minimum of 2000 words (i.e., 8 double-spaced pages) to an upper maximum of 4000 words (i.e., 16 double-spaced pages) in 12-point Times New Roman font.
  • Papers should be submitted as a single PDF file, including a cover page with title, name, school (or home school), supervising instructor (if applicable), email address, and permanent postal address.
  • Following the cover page, please use four major sections: the Title Page, Abstract (between 150 and 200 words), Main Body, and References.

The title page should include the title of the paper, the author’s name as well as the supervising instructor’s name (if applicable), and the school (or home school). Also, each page, beginning with the title page, should have a shortened “running title” left-aligned in the header, with page numbers on the right.

The abstract provides a short description of the main body, or findings, of the paper. This section should be titled “Abstract.”

The main body should begin with an introduction. The introduction should supply adequate background information, and it should end with one or two well-constructed sentences describing the subject matter that the paper will cover (i.e., the direction the paper will take).

The reference page should start at the top of a new page, and this section should be titled “References.” (Please refer to the next bullet point describing sources, and the desired citation and reference style for papers.)

  • Sources should be referenced and cited in APA style. If needed, please see the APA Formatting and Style Guide from Purdue Online Writing Lab for more information on APA citation and referencing.

Papers should draw from credible sources. Credible sources include but are not limited to books and textbooks, print or online periodicals or journals, as well as web-based columns, such as newsletters or magazines, that cite their material.

Please don’t plagiarize. Make every effort to properly cite and reference your sources.

  • Spell out books of the Bible. If a need to abbreviate should arise, please avoid two-letter abbreviations. For example, Isaiah should be abbreviated Isa., not Is. The only exception is the book of Psalms, which should be abbreviated Ps.
  • Please submit an electronic copy to the provided address.

writing.studiesoncreation.org@gmail.com

  • Individually-authored papers only please.

Submission Deadlines for High School and College

The deadline for submission is May 1, 2019.

Esteemed High School and College Papers Receive Informal Publication

Authors of the top two high school papers as well as the top two undergraduate papers will be offered the opportunity to work with our editorial team. This collaborative effort allows authors to grow familiar with the editorial steps related to publication, given the fact that their papers will be posted to our archive page (whereby papers are simply identified by the paper or article title, the author’s first name, and the city and state).


Miscellaneous:

Five broad-based areas of research are identified:

  1. Science (i.e., “observational/experimental science” and “historical science”)
  2. Mathematics and the application of mathematics in the sciences
  3. Language and linguistics
  4. Education and teaching techniques
  5. Historical perspectives

Areas of interest include but are not limited to the following:

Apologetics, archaeological measurements, archaeology, astronomy, biochemistry, chaos theory, climatology, cosmology, creation apologetics, earth science, entropy, experimental techniques, Fourier analysis, fractals, genealogy, geology, Global Flood, gravitational physics, greenhouse gases, harmonic analysis, heat equation, heliophysics, historical science, Ice Age, life science, lineage of Christ, linguistics, magnetic fields, medical physics, medical research, memory, meteorology, mutations, oceanography, ontological argument, paleontology, patterns, physiology, planetary motion, planetary science, quantum mottle, quantum physics, scientific method, Scripture exegesis, seismology, self-similarity, signal processing, speciation, thermodynamics, volcanology, wave equation, wisdom, Word of God.