Redwing Pond

Redwing Pond was named for its redwinged blackbirds, which loved the pondshore’s cattails.

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?  (Job 8:11)

Wetlands are defined by their mix of hydrophilic plants (such as “rush” and “flags” and cattails), wetland hydrology, and hydric soils.  And redwinged blackbirds love cattails.

Redwinged-Blackbird.TrekNature

See comment to posting (about pondside Wood Storks, foraging in Florida) in December of AD2016, for listing of Redwood Pond Institute / Cross Timbers Institute departments.


 

When in Scotland, Eat Well!

When In Scotland, Eat Well!

Nevertheless He [i.e., God] left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and He gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.  (Acts 14:17)

full-Scottish-breakfast.TripAdvisor

Good food is a proof of God’s providential care and power, as Acts 14:17 indicates.  [See my analysis, of this truth, in “Our Daily Bread:  How Food Proves God’s Providence”, ACTS & FACTS, 40(4):8-9 (April 2011), posted at  https://www.icr.org/article/our-daily-bread-how-food-proves-gods/ .]

So, here is my Scottish-memories limerick, to help me recall some wonderful food that I ate while in Scotland, including many “full Scottish breakfast” buffets (with hot black teas), plus gourmet later-in-the-day treasures like Norway Lobster (a/k/a “Langoustine”, Nephrops norvegicus  —  a marine crustacean resembling a mini-lobster, i.e., a crawfish that tastes somewhat like a prawn-sized shrimp), haggis (which looks like a large egg roll — and tastes like Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple), venison, Isle of Mull mussels, scones (with clotted cream),  sea scallops (e.g., “Queenies”), salmon, haddock (as part of “fish and chips”), haggis-&-cracked-black-pepper potato chips, Irn-Bru ice cream, and more!

Isle-of-Mull-scallops

Recalling Scottish Cuisine, in the Highlands & Hebrides

Scallops, haggis, fish and chips

Are well welcomed by my lips;

Norway lobster, steak of deer,

Scones and tea  give me cheer;

Scallops, haggis, fish and chips!

[writ by JJSJ while leaving Scotland, 21st July AD2019]

Norway-Lobster.DailyScandinavian

HAVE YOU THANKED GOD FOR MUSSELS LATELY?

HAVE YOU  THANKED  GOD  FOR  MUSSELS  LATELY?

James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD, MSGeog, CNHG

oysters-with-mussels.va-inst-o-mar-sci

Hooked Mussels attached to Oysters, Chesapeake Bay oyster-reef
(Chris Judy / Maryland Dep’t of Natural Resources photo)

And it shall come to pass, that everything that lives, which moves, wherever the rivers shall go, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall go there, for they shall be healed; and everything shall live where the river goes.   (Ezekiel 47:9)

Oysters are known to be estuarial ecosystem “heroes”, for a lot of reasons.  But don’t be surprised if other bivalves are helping, as we shall see below.

oyster-bar-chesapeake.univmd-alicejanelippson

OYSTER BAR in the Chesapeake Bay   (Univ. of Md. / Alice Jane Lippson)

Healthy rivers (and estuaries) are a good thing.  But sometimes a “hero” is needed, to clean up unhealthy rivers, or to “keep clean” rivers that will otherwise go bad.

Tough “clean-up” jobs, as well as “keep-it-clean” maintenance jobs, are often accomplished by unsung heroes. For example, the tough job of cleaning up water quality (and the job of maintaining water quality) in coastal wetlands requires some helpful muscles, such as those of the Chesapeake Bay’s mussels!  So, shouldn’t such helpful bivalves be given due credit, for what they do?

Mussels, once mostly ignored, are now being touted for their ability to clean streams much like oysters do for the Bay. Oysters are in many ways the restoration darlings of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort. Touted for multiple benefits — as edible, water-filtering moneymakers — oysters attract both enthusiasm and funding to promote their recovery.

But the popularity of oysters often overshadows the water-cleansing role of other filter feeders such as mussels. A growing group of mussel advocates think it’s high time that the bivalves share the spotlight as clean-water workhorses that can carry the message farther upstream.

 Projects to propagate mussels and restore them to waterways where they once thrived are cropping up in parts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania as researchers working on them in various states begin to join efforts. The goal is to return some of the diversity once found in these waterways — mussel by mussel — so they can filter, feed, clean and otherwise serve the local ecosystem.

[Quoting Whitney Pipkin, “Freshwater bivalves flexing their muscles as water filterers”, CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL, 28(7):1 (October 2018).]

mussels.encycl-britannica

MUSSELS   (Encyclopedia Britannica photo)

So, what service do mussels provide, such as the mussels (e.g., “Hooked Mussel“, a/k/a “Bent Mussel”:  Ischadium recurvum) which dwell in Chesapeake Bay watershed streams and estuarial wetlands?

Research in Chesapeake Bay shows that the mussels that typically colonize a restored oyster reef can more than double the reef’s overall filtration capacity. Filtering plankton helps improve water quality because these tiny drifting organisms thrive on the excess nitrogen and other nutrients that humans release into the Bay and its tributaries through farming, wastewater outflow, and the burning of fossil fuels. …

Restoring oysters — and their ability to filter large volumes of water — is widely seen as a key way to improve the health of Chesapeake Bay. New research makes this calculus even more appealing, showing that the mussels that typically colonize the nooks and crannies of a restored oyster reef can more than double its overall filtration capacity.

The study — by researchers at the University of Maryland, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science — appears as the cover story in the most recent issue of Restoration Ecology [i.e., Keryn B. Gedan, Lisa Kellogg, & Denise L. Breitburg, Accounting for Multiple Foundation Species in Oyster Reef Restoration Benefits, Restoration Ecology, 22(4):517 (May 2014), DOI: 10.1111/rec.12107 ]

“Many efforts to restore coastal habitat focus on planting just one species, such as oysters, mangroves, or seagrass,” says [University of Maryland]’s Keryn Gedan, the study’s lead author. “However, our research shows that the positive effects of diverse ecosystems can be much greater. In the case of oyster reefs, commonly associated species such as mussels may multiply the water quality benefits of restoration by filtering more and different portions of the plankton.”

“Estimates of the ecosystem services provided by a restoration project are used to justify, prioritize, and evaluate such projects,” adds [Virginia Institute of Marine Science] scientist Lisa Kellogg. “By quantifying the significant role that mussels can play in filtration within an oyster-reef habitat, our work shows that the ‘return on investment’ for oyster-reef restoration is potentially much higher than commonly thought.”

Filtering plankton helps improve water quality [and thus functions as what some ecologists call an “ecosystem engineer”, but really God is the providential-programmer Bioengineer, so the bivalves are more like programmed “tools” or “employees” of the divine Engineer  —  JJSJ comment] because these tiny drifting organisms thrive on the excess nitrogen and other nutrients that humans release into the Bay and its tributaries through farming, wastewater outflow, and the burning of fossil fuels.

“Filtering plankton from the water is the first step towards removing nutrients,” says Kellogg. “Although some will be returned to the water column, a significant portion will be removed from the system.” Removing plankton also has more direct benefits. Left unchecked, plankton can form dense blooms that shade other aquatic plants such as seagrass, and can lead to low-oxygen “dead zones” when they die, sink, and decay.

The research team, which also included SERC’s Denise Breitburg, based their findings on a combination of laboratory experiments and computer modeling. In the lab, they added phytoplankton of different size classes to tanks containing eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) or hooked mussels (Ischadium recurvum), then measured the animals’ filtration rates at different temperatures. They then incorporated these measured rates into a simple model and used that to simulate overall filtration for three different restoration scenarios in Harris Creek, Maryland, one of the East Coast’s largest oyster-reef restoration sites.

Kellogg’s main contribution to the paper was data on the relative abundance of oysters, mussels, and other organisms inhabiting restored oyster reefs collected during her time as a post-doctoral researcher at Maryland’s Horn Point Lab. These data, which showed that the biomass of mussels on a restored reef can equal or exceed that of the oysters, were used as baselines for the model projections.

The results of that modeling were clear. “On average,” says Gedan, “adding filtration by hooked mussels into our model increased the filtration capacity of the reef by more than two-fold.”

Hooked mussels were also twice as effective as oysters at filtering picoplankton,” says Breitburg.

Picoplankton are the smallest category of marine plankton, ranging from about 1.5 to 3 microns (a human red blood cell is about 5 microns across). Picoplankton are particularly abundant in Chesapeake Bay during summer, with an earlier study from the York River showing they can make up nearly 15% of phytoplankton “biomass” during the warmer months.

“Some have suggested that oyster reef restoration will be less effective than expected in controlling phytoplankton populations because of oysters’ inability to filter picoplankton,” says Kellogg. “Our discoveries with mussels lessen that concern.”

“The mussels’ ability to filter the picoplankton indicates that they fill a distinct ecological niche,” adds Gedan. “Accounting for both oyster and mussel filtration, large-scale restoration projects like those going on in Chesapeake Bay could significantly control phytoplankton, especially during the summer months, when animals filter the most.”

The bottom line, says Gedan, is that “estimates of the ecosystem services provided by just the oysters on an oyster reef may vastly underrepresent the reefs’ overall contribution. Because oyster reefs also contain many other filter-feeding species, they will likely benefit water quality much more than previous modeling efforts suggest.” Kellogg is now taking this line of research further, studying how another common oyster-reef inhabitant — an organism called a tunicate — might also contribute to gains in water quality. Tunicates, fleshy animals also known as sea squirts, filter plankton and other particles from the water similarly to oysters and mussels.

[Quoting Virginia Institute of Marine Science, “Study Puts Some Mussels into Chesapeake Bay Restoration”, 9-8-AD2014, at ScienceDaily.com posted at  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140908121538.htm .]

oysters-with-mussels.va-inst-o-mar-sci

Hooked Mussels attached to Oysters, Chesapeake Bay oyster-reef
(Chris Judy / Maryland Dep’t of Natural Resources photo)

Summarized in technical ecology lingo, the researchers abstract their findings on mussel filter-cleaning as follows:

Many coastal habitat restoration projects are focused on restoring the population of a single foundation species to recover an entire ecological community. Estimates of the ecosystem services provided by the restoration project are used to justify, prioritize, and evaluate such projects. However, estimates of ecosystem services provided by a single species may vastly under‐represent true provisioning, as we demonstrate here with an example of oyster reefs, often restored to improve estuarine water quality.

In the brackish Chesapeake Bay, the hooked mussel Ischadium recurvum can have greater abundance and biomass than the focal restoration species, the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica. We measured the temperature‐dependent phytoplankton clearance rates of both bivalves and their filtration efficiency on three size classes of phytoplankton to parameterize an annual model of oyster reef filtration, with and without hooked mussels, for monitored oyster reefs and restoration scenarios in the eastern Chesapeake Bay.

The inclusion of filtration by hooked mussels increased the filtration capacity of the habitat greater than 2fold. Hooked mussels were also twice as effective as oysters at filtering picoplankton (1.5–3 µm), indicating that they fill a distinct ecological niche by controlling phytoplankton in this size class, which makes up a significant proportion of the phytoplankton load in summer.

When mussel and oyster filtration are accounted for in this, albeit simplistic, model, restoration of oyster reefs in a tributary scale restoration is predicted to control 100% of phytoplankton during the summer months.

[Quoting Keryn B. Gedan, Lisa Kellogg, & Denise L. Breitburg, Accounting for Multiple Foundation Species in Oyster Reef Restoration Benefits, Restoration Ecology, 22(4):517 (May 2014), DOI: 10.1111/rec.12107 ]

Wow! Good for the Eastern Oysters, for their work in filter-cleaning Chesapeake Bay estuarial picoplankton, yet compliments also to the Hooked Mussels for their respective contributions to the clean-up work!  (This illustrates good teamwork!)

But it’s not just the brackish waters of Chesapeake Bay wetlands that host mussels. (Thus, there are other waters that benefit from mussel cleaning.)  In fact, mussels often thrive in riverine freshwater habitats other than those which limnologists would classify as “coastal wetlands”.

texasfreshwatermussel-lifecycle.tpwd

Texas Freshwater Mussel life cycle   (Texas Parks & Wildlife Dep’t image)

In Texas, for example, freshwater mussels are both plentiful and diverse, living in both lotic (running) and lentic (standing) bodies of water.

Freshwater mussels may inhabit a variety of water-body types including large and small rivers and streams, lakes, ponds, canals, and reservoirs. More stable habitats may have larger and more diverse populations than do smaller and less stable waters.  Some species tolerate a wide variety of conditions [e.g., various bottom types, currents, water depths, water pH and other chemistry factors, water clarity, amount of sunlight, turbidity, aquatic vegetation, percentage of dissolved oxygen saturation, water temperature, biotic community make-up, etc.], but others may be more specific.  Certain mussels may require moderate to swiftly flowing waters, and typically fail to survive in lakes or impoundments.

Headwater spring pools and streams in Texas Hill Country typically harbor few if any mussels largely because the cool, clear waters lack sufficient phytoplankton and other foods needed to support mussel populations. A few species like pondhorns (Uniomerus spp.) occur in temporary ponds and periodically-dry portions of intermittent streams by burrowing into the substrate during dewatering.

[Quoting Robert G. Howells, Raymond W. Neck, & Harold D. Murray, FRESHWATER MUSSELS OF TEXAS (Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Inland Fisheries Division, 1996), page 14.]

In Texas, for instance, freshwater mussels —  especially dozens of varieties of unionid mussels (freshwater-dwelling mollusk bivalves a/k/a “naiads”)  —  have flourished for centuries in the enormously biodiverse bayou-waters of Caddo Lake, Texas’ sole “natural lake” (which borders Louisiana).

However, freshwater mussels have also been studied in these major river systems of the Lone Star State:

Canadian River (only slim pickings in these Panhandle-traversing waters); Red River (serving as the Texas-Oklahoma border to Arkansas, swelling at the artificially expanded Lake Texoma, favoring mussel populations including unionids such as pondshell, pondhorn, and yellow sandshell, as well as some clams);

Sulphur River (a Red River tributary, once intensively fished for mussels);

Big Cypress Bayou (a tributary of Caddo Lake, once fished for mussel pearls);

Sabine River (flowing to Texas’ border with Louisiana, then into the Gulf of Mexico, once intensively fished for mussels);

Neches River, including its tributary Angelina River (flowing through Texas piney woodlands, with no recent major harvesting of mussels);

Trinity River, flowing into Trinity Bay (pollution has been a historic problem, killing off mussel populations, though some unionids are observed within Lake Lewisville, an artificially formed reservoir-tributary of the Trinity River drainage system);

San Jacinto River (flowing north of Houston, draining into Trinity Bay, hosting washboard and threeridge mussels – as evidence by mussels stranded in dewatered areas during droughts);

Brazos River (Texas’ longest river between the Red River and the Rio Grande, hosting unionids in its tributary Navasota River);

Colorado River (containing unionid mussels in several of its tributaries);

Lavaca River (no significant mussels observed);

Guadalupe River, with its primary tributary San Antonio River, plus other tributaries including Blanco River and San Marcos River (sporadically hosting washboards and other river mussels);

Nueces River (flowing into Nueces Bay, with muddier tributaries hosting some mussels); and the Rio Grande, including its tributary Pecos River (separating Texas from Mexico, and variously hosting some unionid mussels).

[For specific biogeography details, see Howells, Neck, & Murray, FRESHWATER MUSSELS OF TEXAS, pages 29-32.]

The water-filtering benefits of wetland mussels are worthy of appreciation; however, not every impact of mussels is advantageous, as is illustrated by the invasive (and pervasive) nuisance known as the non-unionid Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha).  The miniscule Zebra Mussel is not covered as a topic, here, except to notice that it has caused a lot of disturbing and non-miniscule impacts in many freshwater lakes of America and Europe, from one water-body to another, due to over-land transport as attachments to the hulls of recreational boats.  [Regarding Zebra Mussel nuisance impacts, see Winfried Lampert & Ulrich Sommer, LIMNOECOLOGY: THE ECOLOGY OF LAKES AND STREAMS, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2010), pages 123 & 224-225.]

Freshwater mussels come in all shapes and sizes, with nicknames that indicate their unique forms or textures, such as snuffbox, spectacle-case, pimple-back and pistol-grip. Most live in rivers or streams, some others in lakes and ponds, but all rely on a current of water to provide phytoplankton and bacteria that they filter-feed from the water. Some species can live to be more than 100 years old. They also have a complex life cycle that makes them difficult — but not impossible — to reproduce in hatcheries. Most need a fish to act as a host as they start their life: The larvae find shelter and grow in fish gills until they can navigate the waters on their own. Some mussels create lures to draw in their preferred host, and some clamp onto the fish with trap-like mouths. If the fish species preferred by a certain mussel disappears, the mussel does, too.

[Quoting Whitney Pipkin, “Freshwater bivalves flexing their muscles as water filterers”, CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL, 28(7):1,17 (October 2018).]

In order to analyze the benefits of coastal wetland mussels, such as those which are quietly filter-cleaning wetland waters within the Chesapeake Bay drainage watershed, someone needs to carefully study them.

But, since most of these mollusks are not commercially exploited, who will pay for the scientific research on these humble bivalves?

Other parts of the country, such as the Tennessee River system and Delaware Bay, have seen the fruit that comes from investing in mussel propagation and research. Meanwhile, mussels have often fallen below the radar of Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. That may be because freshwater mussels, unlike oysters or some saltwater mussels, don’t end up on human plates.

Research and restoration funding is harder to come by, even though three-quarters of freshwater mussel species are considered to be at some level of impairment. The money often comes in an off-and-on fashion from mitigation payments for environmental disasters and permit renewals, and partners in the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort community have not focused their resources on mussels. … Many of the mussel advocates who gathered along the James River in July first interacted with the mollusks outside of the Chesapeake Bay watershed — in the Clinch River, which rises in the southwest corner of Virginia and flows into Tennessee. The Clinch River is home to most of Virginia’s 81 mussel species, more than a third of which are endangered. The diversity of mussels found there has made the river a hotspot for research nationally. …

The Harrison Lake facility [i.e., the Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery, located along the James River south of Richmond, Virginia – an activity of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior], built in the 1930s to support recreational fisheries, now has the capacity to grow tens of millions of mussels. Over the last decade, the facility transitioned from a focus on migratory fish species such as American shad to also growing tiny glochidia, the name for larval-stage mussels, into young mollusks.

When Dominion’s Bremo Power Station renewed its water discharge permit, the hatchery got more than a half-million dollars from the deal after a threatened mussel was found to be impacted by its discharge. When DuPont had to pay $42 million to settle a case over mercury contamination of the South River, the hatchery got $4 million. The coal ash spill in the Dan River in 2014 brought in additional funds to help replenish mussel species that might have been lost.

[Quoting Whitney Pipkin, “Freshwater bivalves flexing their muscles as water filterers”, CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL, 28(7):1,17 (October 2018).]

harrisonlake-hatchery-sign.usfws

The Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery employs a staff of five – and their aquaculture efforts are producing results.

The hatchery team used to release tiny mussels into portions of the James watershed and hope for the best. Now, the staff has the technology to grow them “almost indefinitely” at the facility to a large enough size that they have much better survival rates in the wild. The center propagates the mussels by collecting female mussels that already have larvae in their gills, which the staff either extracts with a needle (to mimic a fish rubbing against it) or allows the mussel to release. Placed into tanks with their host fish, the larvae will attach to the fish before dropping off two to four weeks later to continue feeding and growing in a series of tanks. The lab is also working on in vitro fertilization for mussel species whose host fish is not known.

[Quoting Whitney Pipkin, “Freshwater bivalves flexing their muscles as water filterers”, CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL, 28(7):1,17 (October 2018).]

In order to track progress, regarding the future growth and activities of mussels released to “the wild”, the hatchery uses a monitoring system that is analogous to bird-banding  —  the hatchery laser-etches identifying code markings onto the shell of a mussel, before release.  Also, some rare mussels receive special tagging.

At the hatchery, in a squat building paid for by the Bremo mitigation funds, biological science technician Bryce Maynard demonstrated methods used to tag and track the progress of mussels grown here before being launched into wild waters. He flipped the switch on a laser engraver that can carve numbers into several rows of mussels at a time, leaving a burnt-hair smell in the air and marking thousands of mussels a day for future tracking. Among the hatchery mussels are rare species such as the James spinymussel, which was once abundant in the James River upstream of Richmond but disappeared from most of its range by the late 1980s. The hatchery-raised spinymussels are marked with tags sealed in place with dental cement. The tags can be located later with a beeping detector but are costlier than other tracking methods.

[Quoting Whitney Pipkin, “Freshwater bivalves flexing their muscles as water filterers”, CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL, 28(7):1,17 (October 2018).]

So what is the main benefit expected from these costly investment? Besides overall enhancing of the coastal wetland ecosystems, water filtering is expected, since that is what mussels are famous for.

Every mussel that finds its way into the watershed and survives could help filter about 10 liters of water per day, said Danielle Kreeger, senior science director at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, where she’s become an advocate for the potential of what she calls the #mightymussel.  “Pound for pound, freshwater mussels are not slouches,” she said  …  “To me, every mussel is precious, and we need to protect them.”  Kreeger, in the coming months, will be completing a review of studies on the ability of such bivalves to enhance water quality, which she hopes will shore up the amount of data available about mussels’ benefits.

[Quoting Whitney Pipkin, “Freshwater bivalves flexing their muscles as water filterers”, CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL, 28(7):1,17 (October 2018).]

To be clear, the Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery is not limited to hatching mussels for the Chesapeake Bay’s tributary waters.

In fact, the USF&W operation there is, as one would expect, focused largely on piscatorial aquaculture, i.e., hatching fish, especially American Shad, as well as some alewife, blueback herring, hickory shad, and striped bass. [See “Harrison Lake national Fish Hatchery”, https://www.fws.gov/harrisonlake/ summary by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.]

But for now, the take-away lesson is an appreciation for mussels: they are a lot more important than most of us think they are.

harrison-hatchery-fish-hosts-with-mussel-larvae.usfws

Harrison Lake Nat’l Fish Hatchery: fish hosts carrying mussel larvae    (B. Davis / USF&WS photo)

But why are they, as Dr. Kreeger says, “precious”? Because God created them  —  it was God Who gave Chesapeake Bay mussels, as well as Texas riverine mussels, their intrinsic value.  As God’s creatures they display His workmanship – God’s creative bioengineering is exhibited (“plainly seen”) in all animals, including humble mussels.

Accordingly, as some of the many (albeit small and usually unseen) creatures whom God chose to create (and to “fill” diverse wetland habitats), estuarial mussels deserve due credit, for doing what God has programmed them to do, including filter-cleaning wetland waters. (For more on how OYSTERS can help restore coastal wetland ecosystems, see https://bibleworldadventures.com/2017/07/07/concrete-proof-that-oysters-are-resourceful-homesteaders-fitted-to-fill-diverse-habitats/ . )

hooked-mussels-on-rock-substrate.chesapeakebayprogram

HOOKED MUSSELS on rock substrate  (Chesapeake Bay Program photo)

So, good for the mussels!  Good for the water supply!  And that’s all good for us!   —  and therefore, primarily, we should give glory unto God, because God is due credit for providentially making estuarial (and riverine) mussels what they are and do.

><> JJSJ  profjjsj@aol.com



Dr. James J. S. Johnson freely admits that his appreciation for mussels did not begin with learning about how they contribute to filter-cleaning estuarial waters, but rather from his eating lots of tasty blue mussels when visiting New England.   [An earlier version of this blogpost article appeared on Bibleworld Adventures blog, November 12th AD2018.]


 

 

In Real Life, It’s Survival of the Fitted

© Jay Fleming

IN  REAL  LIFE,  IT’S  SURVIVAL  OF  THE  FITTED

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Know ye that the LORD, He is God:  it is He Who hath made us, and not we ourselves;  we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.   Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise;  be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.  (Psalm 100:3-4)

JJSJ-with-Dungeness-CrabDarwinists cluck, with affection,

Darwin’s phrase, “natural selection”;

Science fiction’s sales pitch,

‘Tis a slick bait-and-switch;

It’s a fraud, by-passing detection.

 

Whene’er the real world we inspect,

We observe real cause and effect;

The “fittest” can’t survive

Till at first, they arrive;

Blind nature can never “select”.

 

If nature is deaf, dumb, and blind,

It won’t birth a lucky “design”;

Half-baked, mutants aren’t “fit”,

When they, gene-codes omit;

Such changes won’t make a new “kind”.

 

So whom have the Darwinists kidded?

And whom have such sophists outwitted?

Nature’s “favor” won’t wait

For a new, wannabe trait;

To survive, life must be God-fitted!


© AD2010 James J. S. Johnson


What’s the real “why” and “how” behind creation?  Check out Revelation 4:11.

Wise-men-still-seek-Jesus.silhouette

For some specific examples of “survival of the fitted”, see my creation science article “Survival of the Fitted: God’s Providential Programming”, ACTS & FACTS, 39(10):17-18 (October 2010), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/survival-fitted-gods-providential-programming   —  including Arctic Tern migrations, chicken egg hatching, mustelid embryology, Melipona bees pollinating vanilla bean flowers, etc.

In fact, the evolutionary phrase “natural selection” is a deceptively misleading bait-and-switch metaphor, as has been documented and clarified by Dr. Randy J. Guliuzza, “Darwin’s Sacred Imposter: The Illusion That Natural Selection Operates on Organisms”, ACTS & FACTS, 40(9):12-15 (September 2011), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/darwins-sacred-imposter-illusion-that/  .

See also, accord, an example of an evolutionist effectively admitting this awkward reality, saying:  “Evolutionary biologists routinely speak of natural selection as if it were an agent” but then again “Many evolutionary biologists, in fact, assure us that the idea of a selecting agent is ‘only a metaphor’—even as they themselves succumb to the compelling force of the metaphor…And so we are to believe that natural selection, which ‘is not an agent, except metaphorically’, manages to design artifacts; and the organism…is not, after all, a creative or originating agent itself. Its [the organism’s] agency has been transferred to an abstraction [natural selection] whose causal agency or ‘force’ is, amid intellectual confusion, both denied and universally implied by biologists. Natural selection becomes rather like an occult Power of the pre-scientific age…”  [  Quoting admissions by evolutionist Stephen L. Talbot, “Can Darwinian Evolutionary Theory Be Taken Seriously?”  —  posted on  natureinstitute.org  on May 17, 2016 accessed September 14, 2018 (emphasis in original), at    http://natureinstitute.org/txt/st/org/comm/ar/2016/teleology_30_TMP.htm   ]


white-ibises-birdbook-webel-backyard-ad2016The Rock Dove Blog is a humble attempt to honor God with a beginner blogsite, so your patience (hopefully) will be rewarded, in due time.  At present the sole author on this blog is Dr. James J. S. Johnson (a/k/a JJSJ), a fan of rock doves (a/k/a “pigeons”)  — as well as an appreciative worshiper of the God Who made them (and also the rest of creation, including us humans, for whose benefit the Lord Jesus Christ became mankind’s crucified-and-afterward-resurrected Kinsman-Redeemer.  Addicted to reading since childhood, JJSJ has earned (over time) several academic degrees (including natural science degrees) and government-issued post-doc certifications.  But the greatest truth is “Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so” — which is summarized in John 3:16.


 

Celebrating her 105th Birthday!

Celebrating her 105th Birthday!

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.  …  The days of our years are 70 years, and if by reason of strength they be 80 years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.  …  So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.   (Psalm 90:1, 10, 12)

Yesterday my mother-in-law celebrated her 105th birthday — WOW!  God has blessed her with years well beyond the foreseeable expectancies mentioned within Psalm 90.

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Here (with edits to cure typos) is the poem that I wrote and presented for the occasion:

LOOKING BACK ON A LONG JOURNEY

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Life was never a bowl of roses, Mom has seen her share of ills;

But life has balanced out for her, with family joys and thrills;

She’s lived a long, long time, and she’s experienced lots;

Eaten squirrel and catfish —  at church she taught the tots;

The sick she’s often fed with meals, she knows her pans and pots;

“Never quit” she role-models  —  she’s from the sturdy Scots.

Mom’s lived through many decades, sometimes tough and sometimes nice;

She raised 2 children years ago, in time she married twice.

Many folks are blessed by her – boys, girls, ladies, men;

Her grandkids number 5, now her great-grands number 10.

A busy-bee, she sold for Stanley, winning many trips,

Traveling by car and airplanes, twice inside cruise ships.*

God has blessed her many times, the Spanish Flu she did survive;

And when she reached the century mark – she was still alive . . . !

Today we celebrate Evelyn’s birth, . . . she’s now 105 ! ! !

[*NOTE Besides most of the USA’s “Lower 48” states, Alaska and Hawaii, Mom visited Austria, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Iceland (!), Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Mexico, Norway (land of some of her ancestors), Sweden, Scotland (land of many of her ancestors), Switzerland (land of other ancestors), etc.]   Some say Mom looks like the Queen of England in the picture below!

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As long as I have known her (>40 years), Mom has been proud of being a Baptist and a Texan.  Q:  “Mom, if you weren’t a Texan, what would you be?” A: “Ashamed.”  [Maybe I made that last part up, but she really is patriotic about being a lifelong Texan].  As a lifelong Baptist she has eaten a lot of fried chicken and also has abstained from drinking alcoholic beverages.  However, she recalls, sicknesses (when she was young) were often treated with blackberry wine that her mother made — and “it was good wine!”  Born one of 12 children, Mom was routinely the sickliest of the surviving children, yet she has outlived all of her siblings.  (The Piney Woods of East Texas are a good place for growing timber, farming, ranching, producing steel, and even for growing blackberries.)

For more on Mom’s family history (especially about God’s providence in how the Swiss Glattfelder lineage married into the Scottish Abernethy/Abernathy lineage), see my article “From Germany’s Rhine to the East Texas Pine:  How an Immigrating Line of High German-speaking Glattfelders Stretched to East Texas’ Piney Woods”, JOURNAL OF THE GERMAN-TEXAN HERITAGE SOCIETY, 28(3):246-254 (fall 2005).


 

 

God gave us the book of Genesis.

God Gave Us the Book of Genesis

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  (Genesis 1:1)

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God has given us the book of Genesis as miraculously revealed truth that is informationally accurate, authoritative, reliable, infallible, and relevant to understanding our origins; in other words, God has told us understandable truth about our origins in the book of Genesis. [Genesis chapter 1-11; John 5:44-47; etc.] 

Details in Scripture, including many “high definition” details embedded in Hebrew words and phrases, repeatedly demonstrate God’s communicative perspicuity, reliability, and genius. [Psalm 19; Psalm 119; Psalm 139; etc.]

In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ endorsed the books of Moses (which include Genesis) as authoritative, and indicated that we ourselves will be judged by how seriously we respect those Scriptures. [John 3:12; John 5:44-47]

The Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1 teaches us a lot about important facts about creation (which occurred “in the beginning” – not “in a beginning”)—Who, what, when, etc. [Genesis 1:1]

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God’s creative works include creating physical stuff form nothing, creating animal nephesh life from nothing, and human spirits (made uniquely in God’s image) from nothing, as well as His creative shaping of physical stuff into physical bodies of humans, animals, plants, and other object on Earth and in the heaven – as well as His redemptive work of regenerating sinners who trust in Christ for salvation.  [Genesis chapters 1 & 2; Psalm 102:18; 2nd Corinthians 5:17]

Creation Week consisted of God creatively working for 6 normal days [yôm in singular; yamîm in plural], followed by 1 normal day of rest (the Sabbath); therefore, the so-called “Day-Age” theory, “Gap” theory, and all other departures from the Genesis cosmogony (of 6 normal days) are errors. [Genesis chapter 1-11; John 5:44-47; etc.]  The Day-Age theory (which includes the “progressive creation” variant of that theory) is false.  Also, the Gap Theory is false. 

Theories that evade the historical narrative character of Genesis, such as those which mischaracterize Genesis as if it was “Hebrew poetry”, are false cosmogonies.

Why do many teach an origins story that departs from understanding Creation Week as 6 normal days, followed by 1 normal day of rest (the Sabbath)?   Sadly, this is done just to accommodate secular mythologies.

Yet chronological information provided within Genesis (e.g., Genesis chapter 5) establishes a recent creation history (within an absolute range of 6,000 to 7,000 years of age), regardless of whether genealogies in Genesis are “open” or closed”.  [ Genesis 1-11, analyzed in www.icr.org/article/4124 ]

Theories that impute personification to “nature” (e.g., Darwin’s notion of “natural selection”) clash with the creation account reported in Genesis, because Genesis excludes animistic powers to natural forces.  However, it was God Who did all the “selecting”, for each of us to be (pro)created!Psalm139.13-16-FamilyHistory-slide

Bottom line:   God gave us the Book of Genesis, so that we can know what really happened “in the beginning”, i.e., so we can truly know about origins — such as how all of the physical creation originated, how animal life originated, how human life originated, how human sin originated, how human death originated, how redemptive hope (in Christ, as the prophesied “Seed of Woman”) for humanity was originally promised, etc., etc., etc.

Are Family Lines Like Relay Races?

ARE FAMILY LINES LIKE RELAY RACES?

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

 This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.   (Psalm 102:18)

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A relay race requires a team united in their efforts to reach a destination within a certain timeframe. Each relay runner runs part of the race’s total distance.  Besides running, relay races may involve cross-country skiing, swimming, ice skating, or even race-car driving.  A relay race is a team sport – if the team doesn’t work well together, the unsurprising result is a failure to win.

Planning and preparation—including division of labor decisions and logistical support– are important for successfully competing in a relay race. Who will lead off?  Who will run the next “leg”? Who runs the “last leg” of the race? Transferring the baton can “make or break” a success.   Dropping the baton can ruin everything.

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Biogenetically speaking, our family lines are like relay races, except the “race” is much slower. Thankfully, our parents transferred the baton of life to us; we do the same to our children.  They must do the same for our grandchildren, and so on.  But what if our parents had “dropped” the baton, procreatively, when we needed them most—so they we would be conceived and born?

No one can “start” any “leg” of the multi-generational race unless and until God Himself procreatively makes that person. That requires literally thousands of years of God’s providential work—the details of which we never learn in this lifetime.  Yet God kindly chose to make each of us the exact individual each one of us is.  There is just one you.  That is how personal God is, as our Creator. Beyond that His Son has provided redemption for our sin.  That’s enough to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

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What a start in life we each have, physically:  planned by God, procreatively constructed—microscopically—in the womb, by God’s own artistic embroidery-like needlework (Psalm 139:15).  And that’s just our physical life!

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Now imagine how God gives each of us a unique personality—a thinking mind, our emotions, our ability to make choices—all of those singularly human traits that pertain to being created in God’s image.  And even before our physical bodies were formed, by the miraculous union of sperm and egg, the spiritual redemption that we each so desperately need (as Adam’s descendants) is already provided for, by Christ’s finished death and resurrection—as a gift which we receive simply by believing His good news about it.  What an amazing start!

But, as members of a specific family, we are members of a team that must all run.  So having a wonderful start is no place to quit.  It is our duty to run with endurance, our assigned “leg” of the race, as we blend our part of the race with that of our family “teammates”.  That includes focusing on Christ Himself—Who is our ultimate goal (Hebrews 12:1-2), pacing our race with endurance (that He provides), refusing to be distracted (by the world), and doing our best to help the next runner(s) to get off to a good start.

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How well have you appreciated those who “ran” before you, and who (biogenetically) passed a baton that became a necessary part of who—in God’s providence—you are today?   What work did God do to make sure that your father was born the boy he was?  What details of human history made it possible for your mother to be procreatively created as the girl she was?  What about your mother’s parents—what work did God do, in history, to make them who they were?  Why and how did they meet?  What about your paternal grandparents, have you thanked God for their lives?  What family history can you pass on to the next generation, and the next, so they can know what to thank God for?

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Does all of this stretch your mind?  — it should, but the next question is how can you honor God with your own family history? Can you think of something specific you can do, this week, about this?

><> JJSJ     profjjsj@aol.com