TESTING: Lab Rats, Guinea Pigs, and Nuclear Bombs!

TESTING:  Lab Rats, Guinea Pigs, and Nuclear Bombs!

Dr. James J. S. Johnson


Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. . . .

Therefore, let them who suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [ψυχας] unto Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.     (1st Peter 4:12-13 & 4:19)


It’s not just rodents (like rats and guinea pigs) that are tested in laboratories, humans are tested daily, sometimes in exotic contexts (like atomic bomb explosions), yet more often in more prosaic “ordinary” contexts. And, as Peter warns us in his first epistle (quoted above), we can all expect “fiery trials” in life, but there is a valuable purpose for those trying times of testing.


Lab Rats

What are “lab rats”?

Whenever rats are used for scientific experiments, in laboratories (or elsewhere) they are nicknamed “lab rats” – with some serving as the “control” group, to be compared with the “experimental” group who are subjected so some kind of experimental event or condition (similar to the controlled experiment devised by the prophet Daniel, in Babylon – see Daniel chapter 1).

Traditionally the rat most often employed, for such experiments, has been the albino variety of Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus), a/k/a the “Brown Rat”, which -strangely enough — played a role in ending the “Black Death” Plague which wreaked havoc (due to the Black Rat’s role as the plague’s transmitter) during the late Dark Ages and again during the early Reformation era.(1)


Of course, mice (which are similar to rats, both physically and behaviorally, in many ways) are also used as laboratory experiment animals.


Guinea Pigs

What are “guinea pigs”? The name is misleading—they are not pigs; they did not originate from Guinea.

Like rats and mice and voles, the “guinea pig” is a (relatively) small rodent, not at all belonging to the swine family (just as a “hot dog” is a food hopefully having no canine ingredients!).  Larger than mice, rats, or voles, the guinea pigs of today often weigh between 1½ and 2½ pounds (i.e., between 700 and 1200 grams), but otherwise resemble a plump furry rat. These rodents, in the wild, thrive in grassland habitats, such as the pampas of South America.


They are not known (so far) as burrow-builders, yet they have been observed to “borrow” the burrows built by other animals, or to take shelter in rock crevices that may be conveniently available.

Unlike small mammal stockpilers—such as the “haypile”-hoarding pika, who accumulate vegetation for winter food needs—guinea pigs acquire and eat grass (and other plant material) like hunter-gatherers, migrating (in “herds”) to find available food, in reaction to changing environmental conditions. For many, however, they are just cute little pets!

Cuy (guinea pigs) feast on greens in a home in Peru. Cuy is the animal and meat of a guinea pig in the Andean regions of South America and is a traditional food of Peruvian, Colombian, and Ecuadorian Andean people. Cuy (Scientific classification Cavia porcellus) are a domesticated species of rodent belonging to the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia. Guinea pigs do not exist naturally in the wild and were likely domesticated as early as 5000 BC from the wild species Cavia tschudii native to the Andes. European traders spread the pet to Europe in the 1500s. Use as a model organism in the 1800s and 1900s originated the epithet "guinea pig" for a test subject. These animals are not in the pig family, nor are they from Guinea.

           Guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) pets in Peru.                            Used often for laboratory test experiments since the AD1800s.

Nowadays, this rodent–also called a “cavy” (or “domestic guinea pig”)—usually grows no bigger than a rabbit, but in earlier times much larger versions once lived and died (and became fossilized).(2)

In technical literature these rodents are usually called cavies, but in slang they are routinely known as “guinea pigs”, often serving as pets or as experiment subjects.


One of the first serious studies of the guinea pig was done by Dr. Konrad Gessner, a Swiss young-earth creationist who provided an enormous foundation for the intertwined sciences of creation ecology and creation biology (and their sub-disciplines, creation zoölogy and creation botany), back in the mid-AD1500s (describing the guinea pig in AD1554).(3)

Dr. Gessner was the first bioscientist to document comprehensive observations of both the Guinea Pig and the Brown Rat (mentioned above).


Nuclear Bomb Testing

What was it like to monitor an atomic bomb, as it was tested?

Consider this eye-witness report from a scientist-monitor, by Captain James Chamblee Meredith, published by the National Association of Atomic Veterans.

As a Commissioned Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), I was assigned to the 1957 Atomic Tests in Nevada, designated “Plumbbob”, to provide off-site monitoring along with about 50 other PHS officers, one civil service scientist, and two U.S. Army veterinarians. The last surface atomic test in the United States took place in 1962. The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1963, and since then many nations have tested their nuclear weapons underground. Unfortunately, some nations have exploded them above the surface.

After each atomic explosion, about 15 other PHS officers, the civil service scientist and I were assigned to drive under the nuclear cloud as it moved eastward to test for radioactive fallout. The remaining officers were stationed in strategic communities in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and California to provide continuous monitoring of [nuclear] radiations and to keep the local citizens informed of atomic explosions and related activities. The two Army veterinarians observed animals in the four-state area potentially affected by the atomic tests. So that we would blend in with the public, none of us were in uniform.(4)

What was then called the Atomic Energy Commission oversaw the monitoring.(5)


The Atomic Test Site was located 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Except for those stationed in surrounding areas, all of the personnel involved in the tests were stationed at Camp Mercury. We lived in small trailers with two sets of bunk beds.

We could look out our window and see an Army encampment across the dry gulch where U.S. Army soldiers suffered in the heat living in pup tents. The soldiers were there to take their places in trenches along with U.S. Marines about a mile or two from “ground zero”. This was later determined to be a bad decision to use humans as “guinea pigs” in the test. The Department of Veteran Affairs has treated veterans of those tests for many years.

On days when an atomic shot was scheduled for the following morning, we would check the tower in the center of the camp at 6:00 p.m. to see whether the light was green [for “go”] or red [for “no go”]. If the light was red, we would head into Las Vegas to see live entertainment . . . . If the light was green at 6:00 p.m., we would eat supper and relax until 11:00 p.m. and check the tower again. If the light was red, we would sleep through the night. If the light was green, we would go to bed and get up at 1:00 p.m. [at night] and eat breakfast in the dining hall.

From the dining hall, we would load up into vans to go to the test site to be in place by 4:00 a.m. (Before the test series was started we had been given a tour in closed vehicles around the craters form earlier atomic tests. The craters appeared similar to a volcano crater, except that they were not black with lava but white with fused sand. The craters were about a half-mile in diameter and were ringed by structures made from different materials to determine how they stood up under [atomic] explosions.) When we arrived at the test site before the atomic shot, it would be completely dark. Most of the bombs were detonated about one minute before daybreak to allow testing for radiation without any sunlight. Sunlight consists of many of the same types of radiation as an atomic explosion—visible light, infrared light, ultraviolet light, etc., and they wanted to observe the initial explosion without sunlight. We would be standing in a bunker, which was essentially a mound of sand about 15 feet high and about a mile long, located about ten miles from ground zero. Our only protective clothing was a pair of dark goggles. An atomic blast is about 100 times brighter than the sun, so we could look directly into the sun with those goggles and it would appear only as a bright disc.

A voice would come over a loud speaker at intervals giving us warning of the approaching time for the explosion. Finally, the count-down would begin – ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero. Immediately there was a bright flash that was all that my eyes could bear even through the dark goggles. Within a couple of seconds, a bright white ball formed and expanded very quickly at ground zero and then started to rise quickly. At the point the sun would rise suddenly as it always does in the desert, and it appeared that the explosion had lit up the world.(4)


After the initial bright flash, we were allowed to remove our goggles. The white ball would expand rapidly and start turning bright yellow as it rose. The color turned quickly to orange and then to a fiery red as the ball arose. Finally as the cloud took the form of a gigantic mushroom, the whole column would turn white and keep expanding upward. The next sight seen at every test was a silver airplane circling the cloud and reflecting both the sunlight and the brightness of the cloud and then flying into the cloud.

Years late, I saw the pilot of that plane on television, and he said that it was a bumpy ride. After about a half hour, the cloud would begin drifting east. We would then go back to the camp and get into vehicles to start driving out across the desert to test for radioactive fallout. There would be two men per car or truck tracking the cloud, and we would stop periodically to check for different forms of radioactivity—gamma rays, beta particles and alpha particles—and call in our results to our headquarters by radio. We used something like what the public knows as Geiger Counters that used removable shields to block out all but one type of radiation at a time.

One time we made the mistake of calling in form a point on the side of the road in the barren desert when it was about 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade, except there was no shade. Commander Carter, assistant director of our mission said over the radio to stay there and call in readings every fifteen minutes. We were there about three hours in the dry heat, and I became dehydrated and developed a severe headache. When we finally got to a populated oasis, my partner went swimming in a public swimming pool surrounded by palm trees, while I lay on a bench and suffered. I got over it after drinking a lot of water and having a good night’s sleep. We would sometimes be gone for two or three days on these cloud-tracking trips.

In the meantime, our headquarters was plotting the radioactivity readings on maps as we called in.

One time, a bomb on a tower did not go off and Commander Carter picked me as the subject of a practical joke. When I got back to our headquarters, he said in front of the team, “Cham, we got a call from Control Central and they want a Public Health Service Officer to go up the tower with the technician and see why the bomb did not go off. You have been selected.” For a moment, I believed him and I know that I must have turned white. We all had a laugh.(5)


The Testing of Christ

But the testing of atomic bombs is insignificant compared to the stranger-than-fiction testing of the Lord Jesus Christ, God incarnate. And as He perfectly passed every such test the Lord Jesus gave us the formula for conquering any temptation—reverential dependence upon God and His will for our lives, as that is revealed by specific (and situation-relevant) Scriptures, applied to our attitudes and actions.


For every temptation Christ identified the relevant Scripture that solved that specific temptation/problem—and He applied it to that immediate situation. What a role-model for us!


Here-and-now Testing, for Rewards Hereafter

Some tests are exotic, like atomic bomb blasts, yet most of the tests we are familiar with are more of the “everyday” nature.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.   (1st Peter 1:6-7)

The testing of our faith, by the distracting temptations and challenging circumstances of daily living, is to be expected—it is part of God’s providential plan for our earthly lives.(7)

But it is for a good reason—a very valuable reason: God’s glory in Christ, to be displayed in and through our earthly lives.  And this is cause for joy!


And, as we suffering afflictions in life—and other painful forms of testing—we can take comfort in knowing something that Job did not originally know (because he could not then read the Old Testament book that bears his name): God is faithful and providentially caring (1st Corinthians 10:13), so He will make a way for our souls to succeed.

 ><>  JJSJ   profjjsj@aol.com




(1) See, accord, James J. S. Johnson, “Thank God for Norwegian Rats!”, Syttende Mai Lecture Series (Norwegian Society of Texas, Arlington, Texas, May 14, AD2016), page 15 of 21, at Footnote 15. Ironically, the behavior of Black Rats (Rattus rattus) in the wild, transmitting the (Black Death) Plague of Yersinia pestis, has been used as God’s instrumentality for teaching humans — and for testing them regarding theological truth! See 1st Samuel chapters 4—6, analyzed in James J. S. Johnson, “Evolutionary Naturalism vs. Biblical Providence” [Did Norwegian Rats Shut Down the Black Death?], Acts & Facts, 45(4):21 (April 2016), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/evolutionary-naturalism-vs-biblical/ .

(2) Brian Thomas, “One-Ton Guinea Pig”, Acts & Facts, 44(4):13 (April 2015), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/one-ton-guinea-pig/ .

(3) Dr. Gessner was a true Reformation scholar (in fact, a close friend of Heinrich Bullinger, one of the Reformation’s most influential Reformers) – complementing his medical practice and scientific research with professional service as Greek professor in Lausanne, before moving on to Zürich to serve as lecturer in physics, as well as pioneering the infant science of paleontology. See William A. Hoesch, “False Political Correctness in the Sixteenth Century”, Acts & Facts, volume 36 (January 2007 issue) (spelling his name as “Conrad Gesner”), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/fossil-political-correctness-sixteenth-century .

(4)  Capt. James Chamblee Meredith, “Atomic Explosions Remembered”, NAAV News (Members’ Publication of the National Association of Atomic Veterans, first Quarter 2016), pages 6-7.

(5)  Historical note: The Atomic Energy Commission was discontinued as a stand-alone agency (of the federal government), pursuant to The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, via transferring its regulatory activities to the new Nuclear Regulatory Commission, leaving its nuclear energy promotion activities to the Energy Research & Development Administration that was later absorbed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

(6)  The typical explosion, of such nuclear bombs, was the equivalent of 10,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT. See Meredith, “Atomic Explosions Remembered”, NAAV News (first Quarter, 2016) page 8.

(7)  Of course, God tests us (and judges us) on what we know (and should know), at a given point in time, based on our opportunities (then) to have acquired relevant information about what it true.  This is true for groups, such as government-directed groups who test nuclear blasts:  what did they then (during the Cold War) know? — and what were the foreseeable risks, then, that they needed to be defensively prepared for?  And, this is also true for the testing of individuals.  See, accord, James J. S. Johnson, “God’s Timing Makes Sense of Adversity”, Acts & Facts, 45(2):21 (February 2016), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/9143/  — and James J. S. Johnson, “The Truth Test”, Acts & Facts, 43(1):22 (January 2014), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/truth-test/ .  So we are tested in time — thankfully, because God has given us the Holy Bible (Jude 1:3-4; 2nd Peter 1:18-21; 2nd Timothy 3:15-17), our daily lives are “open Book exams”.




For the Love of Lutefisk! 

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Whether  therefore  ye  eat,  or  drink,  or  whatsoever  ye  do,

do  all  to  the  glory  of  God.   (1st Corinthians 10:31)

Whenever we eat anything, even something as exotic as LUTEFISK, we should do so to the glory of God, because the very act of eating is a proof of God’s Creatorship and care for our physical needs (Acts 14:17)


Norwegian-Americans are famous for treasuring their lutefisk, a strange concoction of codfish, dried hard and then softened by a process that includes being soaked in lye — and then thoroughly water-rinsed and boiled to remove the lye. To appreciate that Nordic cuisine culture idiosyncrasy, consider the following piece of rural church history.

On the morning of August 8, 2003, Holden Lutheran Church burned to the ground, taking a century of history with it. The building had stood for almost 95 years, and the congregation itself dated to 1895, when parishioners began worshipping in each other’s homes with a traveling minister. Norwegian settlers founded the church, located about 9 miles northeast of Isle in central Minnesota. The congregation was small, but it had a rich history—and a reputation of hosting the best lutefisk dinner in the area. …

After the fire, parishioners gathered to remove the debris and fill the huge hole left in the ground. “A local gravel man hauled over 100 truckloads of gravel to the site and didn’t even present us with a bill for the job,” church member Carol Bailey says. “His only request was for two tickets to our next lutefisk dinner!” … [While the rebuilding progressed, another venue was needed, to continue the lutefisk banquet tradition] … Nearby Faith Lutheran Church invited the Holden congregation to use its facilities for the annual lutefisk dinner in October, which attracted 450 people.

[Quoting from COUNTRY (August/September 2007) Magazine, edited by Robin Hoffman, page 43.]


That’s right — LUTEFISK!  Codfish, soaked in lye, then repeatedly rinsed in water, then boiled, then served with white sauce and/or butter, along with other banquet foods, in a church fellowship hall.  What a wonderful Norwegian Lutheran community tradition!


For a description of how the lutefisk banquet tradition is still maintained in by Norwegian-Texans, see “Bluebirds of Happiness, Plus Enjoying a Lutefisk Banquet”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2015/12/11/bluebirds-of-happiness-plus-enjoying-a-lutefisk-banquet/ —  a part of which informs us about the lutefisk cuisine arts.

LUTEFISK SUPPER  ‘The Lutefisk Supper is one of the most interesting events in Cranfills Gap [a town in Bosque County, Texas] and is centered round a dried fish imported from Norway.  The tradition began many years ago sponsored by the Ladies’ Aid [Society] of the St. Olaf Lutheran Church.  After several years of time-consuming preparations, organizing, cooking, and serving, the crowds attending the supper became so large that the ladies of the church felt they could no longer carry on this custom so it was discontinued.

In 1965, Oliver Hanson had an idea for a way to financially help the [Cranfills Gap] school’s athletic programs.  To do this, the Lions’ Booster Club of Cranfills Gap High School revived the tradition of serving the Lutefisk Supper.

This group took on the arduous task of preparing the fish.  The fish comes from Norway in 100-pound bales [i.e., stacks of dried codfish]. The weight of each dry fish is from one and a half to two pounds and has already been split in half.  Volunteers saw each dried fish into chunks [note: nowadays the hard-dried codfish is usually cut by a woodshop’s power jigsaw] about four inches long, and then skin the fish of its dry, parchment-like skin.  This is a slow and difficult job.  Next, the fish is soaked in a solution of lye [a strongly alkaline solution, usually dominated by potassium hydroxide] and water for 72 hours.  At the end of these three days, the [now softened] fish is taken out and rinsed and cleaned of any excess skin or any brown spots.  Most of the fins are removed.  Next, the fish is soaked in a solution of lime [limewater is an alkaline solution of calcium hydroxide] and water for a period of 72 hours.  The fish are taken out at the end of that time and carefully cleaned again.  After this cleansing, the fish are then soaked in clear water for 96 hours, changing the water every twelve hours [culminating ten days of various soakings of the no-longer-stiff stockfish!].  By this time the chunks have swelled to four and a half to five times the beginning size and are white.  At cooking time, the fish are placed into a cheesecloth bag, put into a pot of salted, boiling water and boiled about five to ten minutes.  The boiled fish is served with melted butter, white sauce, and boiled Irish potatoes.  Plenty of salt and pepper is a necessity!


Lutefisk serves to bring the [Bosque County] community together as an all out effort probably not seen anywhere else.  On the first Saturday of December almost every able-bodied person in the Gap community begins his or her assigned task[s]—some bake turkeys, some peel potatoes, some bake pies [one favorite being a combined cherry-and-apple pie!], others donate coffee, tea, or sugar.  The person in charge of organizing the dinner assigned duties and food preparation.  Tickets are usually sold in advance, but also at the door [of the Cranfills Gap High School gymnasium].  By 4:00 pm the guests begin to arrive.  The [high school] cafetorium will seat about 200 people at one time.  The food is served family style and high school girls are the waitresses.  The boys wash the dishes.  Through the years, each December as many as 900—1,000 guests have eaten a very delicious meal.

Janet Lunde-Landwehr of Hartland, takes a helping of lutefisk. She is wearing a bunad, a ceremonial dress worn in Norway to social functions. Her friends at right, Marion Sorenson of Oconomowoc, and husband Bob Sorenson and Chet Seffrood of Oconomowoc, look on with anticipation.

Lady  wearing  bunad,  ready  to  eat  lutefisk

If a diner is not so certain about lutefisk…[!] turkey, dressing, green beans, [cranberry sauce, in lieu of lingonberries] and pie complete the menu.  The cost of the fish has increased from $500 for a 100# bale to $2000 for an 80# box.  An adult ticket in 1965 cost $4.50, but today the ticket is $18.  In the fifty years the Booster Club has sponsored this traditional supper, $250,000 has been donated to the school towards various projects and improvements.

Betty Carlson Smith added more interest in this event when she began teaching elementary age kids several Norwegian [folk] dances.  These dances are performed in the gym for those waiting for their time to be served.  Betty has since retired but the dance tradition [in the gymnasium ‘waiting room’] continues.  For a very reasonable price there is good food, great service, friendly hospitality, and fun.”

Quoting from Darla Kinney, Charlene Tergerson, Rita Hanson, & Laverne Smith, CRANFILLS GAP, TEXAS:  LOKING BACK AND MOVING FORWARD, November 2015 edition (Cranfills Gap, Texas: Cranfills Gap Chamber of Commerce Historical Committee, 2015), page 56-58 .]


Now that’s an ethnic cuisine tradition worth preserving!   ><> JJSJ


Rosemaling  plate     (by  JJSJ)

Geography Matters, Illustrated by Pronghorns, Mountain Goats, and Old Testament Warfare

Geography Matters, Illustrated  by Pronghorns, Mountain Goats,   and  Old  Testament  Warfare

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

And the wild beasts of the field are mine.  (Psalm 50:11b).

The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats. (Psalm 104:18a)

pronghorn-coming-fast.closeup-turning mountain-goat.pair-high-up

Geography matters. Consequently, so does the ability to master the challenges of specific geography. When carnivores are hunting for food, which is worth more, to a fleeing herbivore, speed or agility?   It depends upon the geography involved. That is like asking: which was needed more, in Old Testament warfare, infantry or cavalry?

To answer these questions, consider the difference between infantry and cavalry, during Old Testament times, then compare that difference to the relative traits of two North American mammals, the pronghorn and the mountain goat.

File written by Adobe Photoshop? 5.0

Battle Chariot  (Old Testament times)


In his insightful summary of Bible battles, Stephen Leston provides a geography-related comparison of the ancient Hebrews’ infantry and cavalry:

Because Judah’s army had to defend their mountains, a contingent of foot soldiers was nonnegotiable. Elsewhere in Judah, valleys and plains demanded the use of chariots—the war vehicle of choice during this time in history [i.e., the time of the divided kingdoms in Israel, after Solomon’s reign and before the Babylonian Captivity].

[Quoting Stephen Leston, ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO BIBLE BATTLES (Barbour Books, 2014, at page 165, emphasis added.]


Think of it—chariots (during Old Testament times) were virtually worthless in the jagged and jumbled terrain of the Judean foothills. Imagine trying to drive a chariot up or down or across a mountainside mixed with bumpy rocks and boulders, loose gravel and felsenmeer, erratic cracks and crevices, gaping potholes and drop-offs! Militarily speaking, the irregular topography of mountain slopes requires infantry—foot soldiers—uniquely equipped for versatile mobility.

Yet the opposite was true (during Old Testament times) of the flat plains and valleys of Israel (Isaiah 22:7). Horse-drawn chariots can outrun and outmaneuver warriors on foot. In open fields, fast-wheeled mobility of chariots can out-charge infantry offensively, and can defensively evade any onrush of soldiers on foot.

In short, foot soldiers were essential for mountainous warfare, because infantry have all-terrain agility that horse-drawn chariots lack. Likewise, chariots are advantageous in the flat plains, because cavalry have superhuman speed that surpasses even the fastest of foot soldiers.

This same contrast is illustrated in the mammals of America’s West:  pronghorns race across the open prairies, to escape predators (like cougars or coyotes), while mountain goats prance up and down mountain slopes, evading carnivore predators, with physical agility that pronghorns lack.    In short, God loves variety in both animals and geography, so He has fitted different kinds of animals to fill different kinds of geographical niches.

God chose to fill the earth with different kinds of life. All over the world, we see His providence demonstrated in ecological systems. Different creatures live in a variety of habitats, interacting with one another and a mix of geophysical factors—like rain, rocks, soil, wind, and sunlight. … Different types of habitats all over the planet collectively host an ecological smörgåsbord of alternative habitat opportunities. … Marmots make a modest living above timberline in the windblown and mostly cold arctic or alpine tundra. Sponges use filter-feeding to acquire underwater food in coral reefs. … Salmon (and steelhead trout) begin life in freshwater streams, survive a shocking salinity change as they migrate to oceanic saltwater, and then brave a reverse version of salinity shock as they return to their native freshwater streams to reproduce.… Some ecological conditions might work for a world inhabited by just a few kinds of animals and/or plants, but God did not want a monotonous planet  —   so He designed an earth that could and would host a huge variety of lifeform kinds.

[Quoting James J. S. Johnson, “God Fitted Habitats for Biodiversity”, ACTS & FACTS, 42(3):10-12 (March 2013), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/god-fitted-habitats-for-biodiversity , emphasis added.] This point is easily illustrated by pronghorns and mountain goats, different herbivores that survive (and thrive) on the terrains of very different habitats.



Recently I asked a friend to recall the beauty of the prairies. Part of his reply included mention of pronghorns:

What I love about the prairie:

The wind — intermittent here in Alabama, a near-constant on the prairie, whether in Texas heat or North Dakota cold, but always refreshing. I don’t care how hot the air is so long as it isn’t stuffy.

The grass — wheat, alfalfa, small grain, or just grass — the way it blows in the wind and looks like the rising and falling of the ocean waves.

The corn — the opposite of wheat and small grains, the way it stands full inside the fence-lines and looks like the farm has truly been blessed by God’s bounty.

The pronghorns — the sight of a herd of pronghorns running through grassy prairies is truly magnificent.

The endless views — panoramas that extend as far as the eye can see, and make one feel truly free.

[Quoting Dr. John Eidsmoe, email of August 14th AD2016, emphasis added.] Notice what Dr. Eidsmoe portrays as the memorable behavior of prairie pronghorns: “running through grassy prairies”.  Pronghorns (Antilocapra americana)—often called the American “antelope”(1)—are famous for their cross-country running, “in plain view”.


Since the prairies are wide open spaces, with few places to hide from carnivorous predators (such as coyotes, wolves, or cougars), the speed of the pronghorn when fleeing, is a must for pronghorns to survive and thrive on the plains.

Pronghorns are the fleetest of North American mammals and can attain speeds of 60 miles (96 km) per hour. Their enlarged heart and windpipes virtually pour oxygen into their blood and muscles, allowing them to sustain speeds of 45 miles (72 km) per hour [long enough to discourage pursuing carnivore predators]. They can cross the length of a football field [of 300 feet] in 10 strides and 3.5 seconds [!].

[Quoting Mark Elbroch & Kurt Rinehart, PETERSON REFERENCE GUIDE TO BEHAVIOR OF NORTH AMERICAN ANIMALS (Houghton Mifflin, 2011), page 231.]

Another physical feature, that helps the pronghorn’s cross-country running ability, is its feet – its two toes are long, pointed, and cushioned, equipping the hooves to serve as shock absorbers, when the pronghorn flees chasing carnivores.


Pronghorn bodies are also well-equipped for life on mid-continent plains, as heartland prairies experience extremes of cold and hot, which temperature range is tolerated by the pronghorn physiology—retaining heat when it’s cold, and radiating heat when it’s hot:

Pronghorn are especially designed for life on the open plains. … Since their body hair is hollow and can be lifted or flattened at will, pronghorn are able to adjust to temperature extremes. Standing their hair erect allows air to cool their skin, whereas laying their hair down flat retains heat.

[Quoting John Hergenrather, Tom Vail, Mike Oard, & Dennis Bokovoy, YOUR GUIDE TO YELLOWSTONE AND GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARKS (Master Books, 2012), page 138. See also, accord, , “Pronghorn”, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF MAMMALS, volume II, K – Z (National Geographic, 1981; Philip B. Silcott, general editor), page 468.]

Whether grazing in well-watered grasses or semi-arid scrubland, pronghorns are committed to living in the open, in “plain view” (pardon the pun). Having no nest or den, they rest in the open grassland (or scrubland), making no attempt to escape heavy rainfall, even giving birth right out in the open, with only some tall grasses or shrubs for privacy! [Stan Tekiela, MAMMALS OF COLORADO FIELD GUIDE (Adventure Publications, 2007), page 303.]


Due to the pronghorn’s superior speed, pronghorns are rarely overtaken by cougars or wolves or other four-legged carnivores.(2)    Thus, the prairie cougar’s challenge, when stalking a herd of pronghorns, is comparable to a foot soldier trying to chase down horse-drawn chariots!

Mountain Goat in Rocky Mountain

Mountain Goat    (Rocky Mountains)


Unlike the speed-racing pronghorns, mountain goats (of the Rockies) are famous for their agile footwork, miraculously maintaining their balance, up and down and across rock-strewn terrains of precarious mountain slopes.

Mountain Goats in Danger in Mountain

It is this fancy footwork (integrated with the total agility of their narrow-profiled bodies) that enables the mountain goat to routinely elude hungry carnivores, such as mountain lions.

Consider, first, the agility of a mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus), the sure-hoofed bovid that habituates the heights of North America’s Rocky Mountains and Cascade Range.(3)

“For those of us who admit to some fear of heights, the Mountain Goat is an animal to be admired … This shaggy animal, its back hunched in a manner somewhat suggestive of a Bison, is a master at negotiating the steepest of precipices. Mountain Goats are truly alpine creatures. They commonly rest on high-elevation snowfields and find most of their food among the plants of alpine meadows. Their hooves are structured to [optimize] balance and grip; the outer hoof is strongly reinforced and the bottom is lined with rubbery material, making the whole structure rather like a good hiking boot. These animals nonchalantly cross dizzying ledges, sometimes even at a trot.”(4)

A female mountain goat with two babies on a rock mountain in Glacier National Park, Montana.

In fact, the high-altitude dexterity of the mountain goat is so phenomenal that it routinely spends most of its time on precipitous terrain steeper than a 40 degree angle, and sometimes at pitches steeper than 60 degrees[!], especially during winter. Furthermore, the leg bones of the mountain goat are engineered to maximize a functional mix of precision balancing (such as perching all four hooves on a small spot), front-forward pulling power, propulsion leverage and maneuverability (for running and jumping), and stability (due to a low center of gravity) against tipping over.(5)

“A mountain goat climbs with three-point suspension. … Lifting one limb at a time [it] frequently pauses to assess the situation, tests the footing, and if needed turns back and selects a different route. Slow, sure consistency allows life on rock steeper than the angle of repose. Because they are most likely the ones to find themselves in a tight spot, kids do most of the go-for-broke climbing. Although a kid might take four or five missteps per year, it salvages the situation almost every time.”(5)

Thus, the mountain goats are aptly designed for moving on rocky slopes. Mountain goats are instinctively careful, and they apply their characteristic agility, as they test their environment.

Agile Mountain Goat Jumping across River

But without the right physical traits for maintaining balance on rugged rocks—traits which God installed on Day 6 of Creation Week—mountain goats could not thrive, as they do, upon the harsh talus slopes and felsenmeer of their high-elevation habitat.

“The [mountain goat hoofprint] track’s squarish imprint is created by the hoof’s spreading tips. The sides of the toes consist of hard keratin, like that of a horse hoof. Each foot’s two wraparound toenails are used to catch and hold on to cracks and tiny knobs. … The front edge of the hoof tapers to a point, which digs into dirt or packed snow when [it] is going uphill. In contrast to a horse’s concave hoof, which causes the animal to walk on the rim of its toenail, a [mountain] goat’s hoof has a flexible central pad that protrudes beyond the nail. The pad’s rough texture provides [skid-resistant] friction on smooth rock or ice yet is pliant enough to impress itself into irregularities on a stone. Four hooves X 2 toes per hoof = 8 gripping soles per animal. As [mountain] goats descend a slope the toes spread widely, adjusting tension to fine-tune the grip. … This feature makes them more likely to catch onto something. It also divides the downward force of the weight on the hoof so that some of the animal’s total weight is directed sideways. Because there is less net force on each downward [pressure] line, the foot is less likely to slide. Think of it as the fanning out of downward forces over numerous points of friction.”(5)

In a word, BALANCE. God purposefully designed high-elevation mountain goats for balance, because living life among high alpine rocks is a high-risk lifestyle.

[Quoting James J. S. Johnson, “Balancing High Risks: Mountain Climbing and the First Amendment”, posted at https://bibleworldadventures.com/2016/06/10/balancing-high-risks-mountain-climbing-and-the-first-amendment/ .]

Mountain Goat Kids Juming ©TMLee

Mountain Goat   kids jumping   © T M Lee

So, when carnivores are hunting for food, which is worth more, to a fleeing herbivore, speed or agility?

If fleeing to precarious precipices of inaccessible rock-cliffs, agility is what is needed – and God gave that trait to the mountain goats of the Rockies.   However, if fleeing across the wide open flatland of the grassy plains, speed is what is needed –and God gave that trait to the prairie pronghorns.

Geography matters. That’s true in human warfare. And it’s also true in the beautifully diversified world of animal habitats, because God loves variety. Accordingly, God programmed His many and multifarious creatures with diversified traits to match – and to “fill” – His geographically diverse earth.   If we have eyes to see it, God’s glory is displayed all around us, even in Earth’s geography and in the creatures God has made to fill it.

><> JJSJ       profjjsj@verizon.net  /  profjjsj@aol.com

Mountain Goats on Rocky Hill


 (1) Pronghorns, although often called “antelope”, grow horns differently from both bovid antelope (“true” antelopes) and cervids (the deer family). Pronghorns are compared to (yet not the same as) bovid antelope, cervids, and goats. See Mark Elbroch & Kurt Rinehart, PETERSON REFERENCE GUIDE TO BEHAVIOR OF NORTH AMERICAN ANIMALS (Houghton Mifflin, 2011), pages 231-237. Elbroch & Rinehart observe: “Perhaps the most distinctive physical attribute of pronghorns, which places them [taxonomically] somewhere between cervids [i.e., deer] and bovids [i.e., bovine-like mammals], is their horns. Like bovids, their horns increase in size each year and are attached to the skull by bony, spikelike extensions projecting up from the head. Unlike bovids, and more like cervids (which shed their antlers annually), pronghorns shed their horn sheaths each year. The bony projection on the skull remains, but the tough sheath that forms the horn is pushed off by the growth of the new one beneath.” [Ibid., page 231.]   See also, accord, John Hergenrather, Tom Vail, Mike Oard, & Dennis Bokovoy, YOUR GUIDE TO YELLOWSTONE AND GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARKS (Master Books, 2012), page 138, saying: “Pronghorn, often mistakenly called antelope, have horns made of keratin like cattle, but shed their ‘prolonged’ horns like deer, placing them in a unique category between the cattle and deer kind”.

(2) In crisis circumstances, involving maternal protection, the hunted may turn into the hunter! To see photographs of a bold mother pronghorn, chasing a coyote away from her fawns, see  http://www.yellowstonen.com/Resources/25%20pronghorn%20chasing%20coyote%202.jpg? .

(3) The rope-like “backbone” ridge chain of North America’s West is called the Western Cordillera. Included in its geographic system are the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range, the primary high-elevation range of most North American mountain goats. See George Constanz, ICE, FIRE, AND NUTCRACKERS:  A ROCKY MOUNTAIN ECOLOGY (University of Utah Press, 2014), page 215.

(4) John Kricher, A FIELD GUIDE TO ROCKY MOUNTIAN AND SOUTHWEST FORESTS (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), pages 235-236.  As illustrated in Job 39:1, Israel’s mountain goat is named for how this bearded climber masters its rocky alpine habitat:  ya‘alê-sâla‘  literally means “ascenders of cliff-rock”.  See also Psalm 104:18a.

(5) Constanz, ROCKY MONTAIN ECOLOGY, pages 224-226, with quotes from pages 225-226.pronghorn-herd.open-prairie

Charading Crabs and Creationists

Charading Crabs and Creationists ~ by Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab

Last summer, in Baltimore, I enjoyed eating “Chesapeake Bay blue crab”—but was that what I actually ate? Why am I suspicious?

Blue crab, the Chesapeake Bay’s most iconic edible species, also appears to be its most impersonated. A report released April 1 [2015] … found that 38 percent of crab cakes labeled as local on menus in the region were made of an entirely different species of crab, predominantly one imported from the Indo-Pacific region. In Annapolis and Baltimore, nearly 50 percent of “Maryland” and “Chesapeake Bay” crab cakes were mislabeled.(1)

Before getting crabby about such false advertising (a type of bait-and-switch deception), such crustacean counterfeiting should be verified. How can portunid pretenses be proven?

“I’ve put a lot of seafood in my purse over the last few years,” said Dr. Kimberly Warner, author of the report(2) … [referring to] crab cake samples that she and other testers collected [and] shipped to a lab in Florida that determined whether the cakes contained blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, and, if not, which species were used instead. Warner said the fraud rate of 38 percent is a conservative estimate. … Mislabeling “is being done because it’s easier to sell a Maryland crab cake than one from the Philippines or Vietnam” [said Steve Vilnit, of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources].(1)

Dr. Warner lamented that bogus brachyurans are part of a treacherous trend of tricking tastebuds:

Maryland’s favorite seafood dish is not safe from a bait and switch. When diners are expecting the fresh, distinctive flavor of the Chesapeake blue crab, they may instead be served a completely different species, shipped from as far away as Indonesia. … This mislabeling rate is consistent with Oceana’s previous studies on fish and shrimp. In 2013, Oceana found that one-third of more than 1,200 fish samples were mislabeled according to [USDA] guidelines. We also found 30 percent of shrimp samples to be misrepresented to consumers in a similar study in 2014.(2)

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Meal?

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Meal?

Many restaurants, buffets, and sushi bars are swimming in similar seafood scams. Piscatorial masquerades include pollock playing cod, icefish as anchovies, tilapia as grouper, rockfish as red snapper. Customers, who eagerly eat what is falsely advertised as “albacore” (or “white tuna”), may experience a digestive insult: the look-alike meat of escolar fish (a/k/a “snake mackerel”) is wax-loaded and promptly produces a blasting vermillion diarrhea.

So, buyer, beware seafood mislabeling.

Creation or Evolution?

Creation or Evolution?

Yet there are worse bait-and-switch scams to warily watch out for, such as “creation apologetics” ministry mislabeling. Not all that is called “Biblical” origins science is genuinely true-to-Genesis.

Some unfaithful-to-Genesis organizations overtly disclose their “creation-by-evolution” doctrines. However, most do not  conspicuously admit it, when compromising the Bible’s record of origins.

But you can recognize real messages, of ministries or “experts”, by their compatibility with Genesis.

Does the advertised “creation” teaching follow the uniformitarian dogma (and eons of “deep time”) of deists Charles Lyell and James Hutton? Does it incorporate Monsignor Lemaître’s “big bang” theory? Does it promote (or defend) the “natural selection” genes-in-magic sophistry of Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley? Does it presuppose death before Adam, like Alexander Winchell (or William Dembski), within some kind of pre-Adamite “hominids-morphing-into- humans” scenario?

When scrutinizing the true ingredients—crab or shrimp or tunafish—in seafood cuisine, forensic genetics can detect the telltale DNA of the seafood actually sold. However, when scrutinizing whether an “apologetics expert” is truly a Biblical creationist, compare what those “experts” teach, specifically, with what the Scripture teaches (Acts 17:11).


(1)Whitney Pipkin, “Nearly 40% of Blue Crab Mislabeled in Chesapeake Area Eateries”, Chesapeake Bay Journal, 25(3):7 (May 2015).

(2)Kimberly Warner, Beth Lowell, et al., “Ocean Reveals Mislabeling of Iconic Chesapeake Blue Crab” (April 2015), 15 pages, posted at http://usa.oceana.org/sites/default/files/crab_testing_report_final_3.27.15.pdf .


Creation Science

Rocky the Squirrel, a Foretaste of Isaiah 11:1-10

Rocky the Squirrel, a Foretaste of Isaiah 11:1-10


James J. S. Johnson

1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch [NÊTSER] shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears: 4 But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth: with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. 10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, Who shall stand for an ensign of the people; to Him shall the Gentiles seek: and His rest shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:1-10)

Squirrels are one of the most beautiful rodents made by God. (Since my wife has the energy of a squirrel I am reminded of her whenever I see a squirrel, so I have a special love for squirrels.)


Years ago my mother-in-law’s neighbor, Bob, while at work, found a baby squirrel whose parents were missing (probably killed). The next-door neighbors (Bob and Mary) “adopted” the orphaned squirrel and named him “Rocky”. Mary would feed Rocky with a “baby bottle” that belonged to a child’s doll set, until he was old enough to eat other food. Mary would feed Rocky during the day, and soothe him with gentle words. Also, Mary would put Rocky in a doll bed, at night, covering him up with a small “blanket” — a daily custom that Rocky became used to. The little squirrel continued to grow, apparently assuming that Bob & Mary’s house was “home”, — Rocky really had the run of the house! When Mary would visit my mother-in-law she would often have her wee squirrel running up and down her shoulders, back, head, and arms — because Rocky considered Mary as “Mama”. (Even today I have a vague memory of Rocky happily sitting on someone’s head — but not for long!) If you were a friend of Bob and Mary, Rocky would trust you as a “friend”, — so Rocky would let you hold him in your hand, or cradle him as you sat or walked around, or feed him. Many weeks later Rocky was attracted to the huge sycamore tree that shadowed the land between my mother-in-law’s house and that of Bob & Mary. But at sunset Rocky would voluntarily return to Mary, to be covered up with his blanket in his little doll bed.

Rocky-Squirrel-jjsj.for-BaronBrown-blog 2.docx

In time, however, Rocky discovered the world of trees — which is the world God made for squirrels. Soon afterwards Rocky appears to have met a female squirrel, in the branches of that huge sycamore tree, and one day he chose not to return to Mary at sunset. Rocky had finally discovered his God-given instinct to “be fruitful, multiply, and fill [his arboreal part of] the earth”. When Mary would walk from her house, to my mother-in-law’s house, she could look up at the sycamore branches high above her head. Often one particular squirrel would stop his scampering, just long enough to look down at Mary, — as if he remembered who she was. Then he would go back to hopping and jumping in tree branches.

That was years ago (and my mother-in-law is now 102 years old*), and the years have flown by quickly. The Holy Bible assures us that the time will come, after the Lord Jesus returns to Earth, when even the wild animals will safely interact with humans, and will be friendly like pets, even to little children (Isaiah 11:1-10). Nowadays, the world is a rough place to live in, — even for squirrels like Rocky, — but some day, sooner or later, that will all change, gloriously. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

><> JJSJ

UPDATE:  Just 3 days shy of turning age 106, my mother-in-law went Home to her Savior.

The Wonder of Matthew: The Gospel of the Kingdom


Hello to everyone out there on planet Earth! With all the darkness and evil filling the planet I am happy and glad that you have turned to this blog!

I have just finished reading a commentary about the Book of Matthew. He was one of the original disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ! He was personally called by Jesus to follow Him. WHO ARE YOU AND I FOLLOWING? All of us are following someone: either God (Jesus) or the devil.

Not Bread Alone

Not Bread Alone

At least give God a hearing and listen to His Word! Start reading the Bible each and everyday of your life. Even one Bible verses is better than no Bible verse. Jesus said:

“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

A great preacher of yesteryear used to call this God’s magnum 44! Anybody know who said it?

Natural Sponge ©Pixabay

Natural Sponge ©Pixabay

Did you know that when Jesus was crucified, someone lifted up a sponge so that He could drink (sip) some vinegar?

“…one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.” Matthew 27:48

You know what is so cool: The Highest Being in the Universe, the Lord Jesus Christ meet one of the lowest animal creatures, the sponge! I have been to Tarpon Springs in Florida, one of the sponge capitals of the area.

“…they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear His cross.” Matthew 27:32

In Jesus’s darkest hours, people stood up to help! Simon helped to carry the cross. Someone gave Him vinegar to drink. The Roman soldier said that Jesus was truly the Son of God, when the religious leaders of the day refused to declare that truth. The Mary’s stayed by the foot of the cross, by the tomb, and went there on Resurrection morning. Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.His grace had cast out seven devils from her! If you are demon possessed, or controlled by any sin, go to Jesus without delay and ask Him for deliverance! Go to Him by faith and He will save you! Do not waste another minute of your life! Your soul is to precious to neglect. To Jesus go, and he will rescue you like He rescued Mary Magdalene!

Others were there to help Jesus in His hour of need. Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus went to get His body from Pilate! Pilate once asked Jesus: WHAT IS TRUTH? Don’t you want to find out what is true? Is the Bible true? Is the Quran true? Is there a Heaven and Hell? Is there life after death?

Easter Sunday - He is Risen ©WikiC

Easter Sunday – He is Risen ©WikiC


Like the people above that helped Jesus, anything we do for Christ is a very high honor indeed. A Bible tract passed out. An invitation to Church. A drink of cold water to a thirsty soul. A kind word or deed done in the name of Jesus! Friends find something to do for Jesus. Use your gifts and abilities and talents to honor the Lord Jesus Christ! May all who read these words accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal Saviour! We need the mercy, the grace, and the forgiveness of God! It is all found in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ! May we see each other in Heaven someday! Your friend and companion as we travel along our ADVENTURE on planet Earth! The Golden Eagle will fly in again very soon! It’s off to the clouds for me presently…

Is Christianity True?

Christ Dying On The Cross -(Google)

Christ Dying On The Cross -(Google)

Hi everybody! You have an immortal soul and will live forever and forever into the future. Have you ever thought about these things?

Consider the following:

1. Jesus, historically, DIED on a cross just outside of Jerusalem.

2. Jesus, historically, ROSE again from the dead. Obviously, God approved of Jesus Christ and His Death and Resurrection.

3. Jesus Christ , historically, CLAIMED to be God!

4. The above statements help us to see that Jesus Christ is the TRUTH, and Christianity, as a religion, is TRUE.


In the days ahead, we will discuss these very important truths!