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Archive for the ‘Why?!’ Category

It is very possible that you do not know what you fear most because you have not confronted that situation yet. There is also depth of fear and extent of fear, by which I mean absolutely horrifying as opposed to what you most guard against because it is constantly in your thoughts consciously or subconsciously. 

Evidently, I speak of the latter when I say what I most fear. I most fear being publicly humiliated for being incompetent and unprepared. I say evidently because occasionally I have dreams about just such things. I tend to have two kinds of dreams, those that may or may not seem significant, based on my emotional state after I awaken, but that I can’t remember any detail about, and those dreams that are very clear in every detail and seem to be communicating something profound to me or about me.

This morning was an occurrence of the latter. I am a science teacher. For some, what seems to me, a silly reason, I always have a few moments of first-year teacher nervousness about the first day of class (a tale tale indication of my greatest fear?). Now in terms of the school year, the dream I am about to relate to you is a mid-summer nights’ dream, making it all the more curious that it should happen, since school should be the last thing on my mind.

I was in a old school building that was very well remodeled. It was between classes of the last period of the day on the first day of class. I was required to rove to a different class this period, which when I have been required to do is the most bothersome thing to me, probably because it always involves some level of not being prepared for class when it begins. On the way there students in the bathroom were involved in some unknown rowdiness which my appearance and stern voice immediately dissipated. This further delayed my arrival to class. The students began filing out of the bathroom. I recognized most of them and many of them went into the classroom that I was entering. As we entered the tardy bell rang. The room was large with the classroom set-up at one end. Students were already in their desks. I knew all of the students, having had most of them the previous semester and others the year before. All of the students had attempted, out of a social habit that I have observed that makes them feel more comfortable, to sit in their previously assigned seats. Everything was in order except for one desk missing on the front row, so that a student assigned last year to that desk was sitting on the floor where the desk would have been. As I walked to the front of the room all faces turned toward me and the immediate thought came to me, “Why are these students here? I have had them all, most of them last semester, and they all passed (didn’t they?)?” I came to the desk, seeing that it was very neatly organized with every office supply gadget you could want and organizers for many colorful highlighters and markers. As I surveyed this wonder and the fact that there was not one piece of my papers, syllabus or otherwise, on the desk, the thought occurred to me, is this Earth and Environmental Science class that I have exclusively taught the last few years or the Chemistry class that I was told I might be teaching? If I ask the students which it is they will know that I am unprepared, not because I don’t know the subject, but because I have no materials to hand out and no lesson prepared. If it is Earth Science, I’ve done it so many times recently that I can totally wing it, but if it is Chemistry, as likely these “repeating” students imply, I’m clueless where to begin even though my head is filled with Chemistry facts. I stood overlooking the smiling faces in front of me, students who had likely taken Chemistry because they liked me as a teacher before, waiting for a spark of inspiration.

The dream ended by me awakening, lying flat on my back in the pleasant morning light and coolness, wondering what I would do next, and wondering why such dreams persist in my consciousness. Evidently, I fear being humiliated publicly for being incompetent and unprepared. Given that fact, should I share this dream?

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Wet?

I most dislike annoying little problems when I have previously tried to solve them to no avail. Or even worse when my ‘solution’ works for a while and then doesn’t. I bought a non-stick, copper infused, ceramic skillet (“Red Copper’ brand) about 6 months ago so that my wife and I could cook our breakfast without it sticking. For about 4 months it worked wonderfully. Undercook, overcook, oil, no oil, it didn’t seem to matter, it didn’t stick.

My wife makes homemade sausage and almond meal pancakes. So my daily procedure is to put a little oil in the pan, add crumbled sausage, break two eggs over it, scramble the yokes, and move away to put a pancake in the toaster and pack my lunch. Just before the egg is totally solid I turn the eye off and flip the egg-sausage fritter over, reaching over to push down the toaster button.

Why did it begin sticking when I try to flip it over? It didn’t for several months and now it has for several months. I set out to try to figure out this mystery. I must be doing something differently. That the change resided in me and not in the pan was clear to me from two additional pieces of information. My wife cooks her breakfast after I have left for work. She commented one day, “Why are you having trouble with the food sticking in the pan? Aren’t you using oil? Mine doesn’t stick.”

Secondly, I re-oiled the pan like I had when I first got it. You fill the bottom with oil, place it in the oven for 15 minutes at low heat, and pull it out to cool. I could see why this works, because it reminds me of oilite bushings. Wikipedia says, “Oilite is a porous bronze or iron alloy commonly impregnated with an oil lubricant and used in bearings.” When the bearing warms up during use, it will release a little oil that lubricates the bearing surface preventing overheating. It works wonderfully well and the bearing can be re-oiled by submerging it in hot oil. But that didn’t prevent the egg from sticking.

I tried more oil. The liquid egg only pushed it aside and stuck to the bottom.

I tried different kinds of oil: butter, olive oil, coconut oil. The smells were great but the sticking persisted.

I tried different temperatures which either left me twiddling my thumbs or the egg slightly burnt on one side.

Finally, I pretty much gave up, but the egg pushing the oil aside confused me a bit. Why didn’t the egg just roll over the top of the oil as it cooked? I realized that the real question that I was asking was, “Why does the oil not wet the surface of the pan but the egg does?”

For many of you the word “wet” seems totally out of place in this scenario. Afterall, waters wets, right? But what does it mean to wet a surface? I will give a formal definition in a moment, but the best one is illustrative. Water wets an unwaxed car but beads up on a well waxed car. Water is sticky. It adheres to things different than itself, that is wets surfaces, and it coheres to other water molecules, that is beads up. So how does it decide which one to do? If the adhering forces are stronger, then it wets the surface; if the cohering forces are stronger, then it beads up. Once again Wikipedia (Hey, I’m not into this, you can’t trust Wikipedia thing. Be a bit skeptical of it on religion or politics and realize it will probably be incomplete on many subjects, but as an overview it is a good, quick reference.): “Wetting is the ability of a liquid to maintain contact with a solid surface, resulting from intermolecular interactions when the two are brought together. The degree of wetting (wettability) is determined by a force balance between adhesive and cohesive forces.” All liquids can wet surfaces: water, oil, egg, lava, alcohol, gasoline, and so forth.

The various oils (butter, olive and coconut oils) were beading up on the pan. So, this very morning I tried a new strategy. I let the coconut oil heat until it began to bubble, then I threw in the sausage and egg. It didn’t stick, what a pleasant, small blessing! Perhaps I had become too efficient at making my breakfast in the morning, being so fast at putting in the oil, sausage, and egg, until I had reached the ‘sticking’ point of the procedure. One little, almost imperceptible change I made was putting in those three things instead of punctuating the oil heating with putting in the pancake and opening the almond butter jar.

It will be interesting to see if I have found the real solution. As researchers like to say, “further research is needed.” But I think that upon reflection this must be the solution. My wife always puts in some combination of peppers, onions, and mushrooms to momentarily saute before adding her beaten egg, and her breakfast never sticks. 

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Early in 2001 my father passed on to the next life after a slow decline resulting from many and various ailments. I believe that it was a grace that he passed without knowing of 9/11. He fought in WWII receiving a bullet and multiple pieces of shrapnel near the German border. Every 4th of July he would hang a copy of the Declaration of Independence and an American flag on the living room mantle. As the years went on he added more evidence of his love of America and its freedoms, things like a small Statue of Liberty. I used to think how much the world changed during his lifetime. Afterall, TV had not been invented when he was born in 1922. Polio was a major killer; the War to End All Wars was a fresh scar; the roaring twenties had not succumbed to the Great Depression. During my formative years airplanes, bridges, skyscrappers, atomic energy, and space travel were among the top of the list of items and ideas that he talked about and learned about and visited. How the space race had resulted in a handheld calculator was amazing to him. The world had changed so much in one lifetime.

Now we hear that the world was forever changed by 9/11. In one sense, of course it was! We collectively look over our shoulder as a nation, wondering when or if it will happen again. But did it really change the world? Hasn’t every generation had at least one event that so penetrated the minds and hearts of the populace such that each person knows where they were when it happened? If you are old enough, do you remember where you were when JFK was assassinated? For my father’s generation the event that riveted their attention was Pearl Harbor. News traveled much slower the further back you go but there were terrors and plagues and perplexities for centuries. In 79 A.D. when Pliny the Younger described the flaming bombs of Vesuvius sinking ships in the harbor off Herculaneum while Pompeii was covered in noxious gases and pyroclastic flows, the world must have seemed to be at an end.

Do I attempt to diminish the severity and pain of 9/11? Do I not see the ways in which it changed how we do freedom in our land? By no means. But the cause of terror and pain has not changed. Because of sin there is stark evil and natural disaster in the world as there has been since the Fall of Adam. These adversities should call us as a nation back to God. We deteriorate; our nation’s demise is at hand, yet we see 9/11 and Antietam and Hurricane Katrina and Pearl Harbor as totally disconnected from our spiritual condition and God’s call to repent. Evil exists in the world because there have been and are evil people in the world. We must confront the evil in ourselves so that our enemies have no excuse for their evil acts against us and we have no compunction about attacking it when it comes.

I remember where I was on 9/11, watching the screen in my classroom as the first building hit earlier was burning and as the subsequent one was hit and the towers collapsed and students came into my room who wanted someone to make sense out of the chaos. In those first moments during my planning period before that screen I prayed that God would have mercy upon us as a nation. In many respects He has and He is but we must cry for it and act in ways commensurate with receiving mercy now more than ever because we drone on in our mundane, garden variety evils as if 9/11 never happened. God have mercy on us!

The world has changed but not so much.

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         I enjoy viewing educational YouTube videos, particularly about Science. I recently watched several videos written and narrated by astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. He is extremely intelligent, articulate, and fast on his feet when replying to detractors. In our culture we listen to experts. They are informed and intelligent so we should listen to them, right? We should ask, “What is your source of truth?” Mr. Tyson claims that his only source of truth is empirical data, information acquired by observation or experimentation. In one of these videos he says1, “Does the Universe have a purpose? I’m not sure, but anyone who expresses a more definitive response to this question is claiming access to knowledge not based in empirical foundations.” He proceeds to claim that the perspective held by religions and some philosophies that the universe has purpose has failed to explain our universe. He then dismantles, or so he believers, all claims that we can know that the universe has purpose. I am among those who believe that the universe does have purpose, being created by God, and I freely admit and proclaim that this knowledge is not based on limited empirical evidence, though supported by it. Mr. Tyson’s logical fallacy, I submit, is to assume that his supposed empirical foundations are sufficient to explain the universe and why we cannot know the universe has a purpose. He overlooks his own presuppositions: we cannot know that God exists, that God in fact does not exist, and that Mr. Tyson operates purely on empirical data.

         Evidence that God exists is all around us as I have shown in past articles and which Scripture declares (Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:19-20). In this article I want to present evidence that those who claim that they operate purely on empirical data do not and cannot. In another MinutePhysics video2 Mr. Tyson is discussing the sequence of events that he and many other scientists believe characterized the universe after the Big Bang. In the midst of this storyline he admits that “under these extreme conditions in what is admittedly speculative physics…” Why is it speculative? It is so because there is no way of directly observing a time with those conditions or reconstructing those conditions because they defied the presently understood laws of Physics. This scenario is supposed to be what we know of the past and yet is based on fanciful conclusions based on faith and not observation. He is nearly two minutes into his seven minute history of the universe when he says, “continuing on with what is now laboratory confirmed physics” He then explains how particles decaying and colliding settle things down to the Physics we now observe. The statement is misleading (presumably not intentionally) because it assumes that what can happen in laboratory experiments and does happen periodically in nature is what did happen in mass to set the course of the universe long ago. Such “observations” are conclusions based on hypothetical scenarios, not inevitable results of data. Another example of this type of observation was the conclusion in March of 2014 that cosmic microwave background radiation had “proved” the inflationary expansion just after the Big Bang. But in June of the same year the researchers came to a different conclusion: “Now a careful reanalysis by scientists at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study, also in Princeton, has concluded that the BICEP2 B-mode pattern could be the result mostly or entirely of foreground effects without any contribution from gravitational waves.”3 So, the hypothesis concerning the moments after the Big Bang was wrong. The author of this quote explains that many scientists do not conclude that inflationary hypothesis was therefore disproved. Instead, these scientists say this hypothesis is sufficiently flexible to be “immune to experimental and observational tests.” What we are seeing is ‘empirical data’ without observation, which of course is not empirical at all. As Arthur Conan Doyle has Sherlock Holmes say, “ It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

 

1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pL5vzIMAhs “Does the Universe Have a Purpose?”

2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KYTJ8tBoZ8 “A Brief History of Everything”
3 http://www.nature.com/news/big-bang-blunder-bursts-the-multiverse-bubble-1.15346

4 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four, A Scandal in Bohemia

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In one sense we are a society full of skeptics and well we might be since we have many and conflicting sound bites and philosophies foisted upon us with very little solid truth. Some think that the solution to this dilemma is to operate fully on the relational side and not hassle with truth claims and others think the solution is to come up with your own truth. Neither of these approaches leads to truth, however, because one avoids it and the other is self-contradictory. So where is a person to go to ask hard questions? Civil public discussion is one good source. Not intended to be truth by majority rule but rather a gentle airing of views and questions, it is a good way to open up conversation about truth. Recently at our nearby community college such an open discussion was begun. Prem Isaac of Southern Evangelical Seminary presented a clear, engaging rendition of the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments for the existence of God. Several audience members challenged details of the arguments presented to Mr. Isaac and three of his colleagues on a Q&A panel. One person asked, “Why does the Law of Causality not apply to God?” The answer was given that “Who made God?” is a category mistake, that is to say, saying God is created means He is not God. If we retreat to infinite regression, namely that god was created and then who created god and who created that god and so on, then we have not really answered the question. But the cosmological argument logically presents an answer in that everything that has a beginning has a cause. Science and religion both posit that the Universe had a beginning, therefore, it has a first cause, and since that cause is not part of the effect, namely the Universe, that first cause must be wholly different from the effect. That First Cause is God. What if the Universe had no beginning? The question was couched in more complicated terms, “How about the quantum correction and the suggestion that the universe had no beginning?” The answer was proposed that many math problems produce imaginary numbers. Mere pure math solutions to problems have no real world antecedent. I think that it is reasonable to add that General Relativity and Quantum Theory have existed in tandem for 90+ years now. Both have significant experimental evidence for their validity and yet both contradict each other. Mostly this contradiction seems to be because they evaluate similar situations in different ways, but when they evaluate the same thing in the same way they still contradict each other. Obviously, one or both theories need to be revised to come into line with reality. So how do you use mutually contradictory theories to judge God’s existence, theories that are by their empirical nature limited in what they can evaluate? And this brings me to the last question asked at that meeting, “How scientifically do we account for six days?” My answer is we do not account for six literal days scientifically just as the Big Bang theorists do not actually account for the singularity scientifically. God has revealed that He created all that physically is in six days; we accept that. Then we show by scientific evidence that there is nothing in the world that contradicts that idea. The Big Bang theorist posits a singularity, described as a point, wherein space and time do not exist and all the laws of Physics cannot apply. Then he inserts an “inflationary period” after the Big Bang to get the universe up to speed, so to speak, which cannot be evaluated with physical rules because it obeys none we know, all so the universe can look something like what we now observe. The background radiation was supposed to have been the confirmation of the inflationary period, and even though the observers recently denied the validity of the results, it could never prove that period apart from the presuppositions of the theory. The theorist further injects continuous acceleration of the expansion of the universe without cause, that is, net force to accelerate it. In other words, Big Bang theorists rely on “blind faith” of which they accuse the Creationists. Creationists, however, rely on the Word of an All Powerful, Intelligent Designer, who has given much evidence of being reliable. Civil, public conversation must be polite but it can pull no punches if it is to be constructive and pursue what is true. If you see the truth of this statement, I invite you to enter into just such conversation with a Creationist.

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For those of you who understand, this is the season for poems, when the moments of musing through many days ooze out during hours of forced repose. Here is the most recent that hearkens back to Spring’s delights:

Life begin
  and again
When Spring sprung
  and birds sung
Blooms no lack
  eggs will crack
Life renewed
  beauty viewed
Why this show?
  ebb and flow?
Could it be
  God’s plan see?
Life from death
  Christ’s last breath
Rose again
  life begin

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The New Year started with quite a jolt
Not yet awakened to the day were we
When lesser mind from greater did molt
And confusion reigned as up went our plea
 
Fears and regrets won much of the day
Consequences realized and unforeseen
Extend forward in what we must pay
In tears and stress and oft puzzling scene
 
Week by week understanding more words
Paying bills on a month to month basis
Each day try words that curdle like curds
Prayer moments that connection retraces
 
God ordained all from start to finish
For His glory and our good He has planned
His provision and presence relish
From hard changes peaceful righteousness gained

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The first poem I wrote this past week is the last one I am posting because I had to reflect on its content abit. It could so easily be seen as insensitive, or premature, but I consider it neither. I think it is just honest in a constructive kind of way. We have questions; we should voice them and find answers rather than silently or violently remaining agnostic about what is real and true. I offer this poem as a balm to many hurting loved ones who are truly asking. The eleven year old girl who died of leukemia and provoked my mind to write it has God’s best as I understand because she accepted God’s solution:

A purpose in life to glorify God
To enjoy His gifts, obey His commands
Accept hardships and the correcting rod
Challenge potential and all life’s demands

What’s the way forward when we’ve lost such life?
Then come tears and doubts and questions abound
Mind and heart struggle with internal strife
About ultimate issues, life profound

How is God good when there is so much bad?
God’s not the author of evil and wrong
Man disobeys, consequences are sad
Overtaking the ‘innocent’ and strong

God provides a way to overcome death
To have peace with Him and eternal rest
Bought by His Son, finished at His last breath
Now and forever have life and God’s best

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“It is not amazing that God answers prayer; it is amazing we pray so little.”

‘How can you say it’s not amazing that God answers prayer?’ Don’t misunderstand the statement because I do believe it is amazing how He answers prayer. For in pulling off an answer to prayer God must at least redirect the course of God ordained natural forces or the intentions of wills predisposed to wrong. At most He must suspend the rules He has laid down for nature so that they begin running immediately in a new course or give tangible manifestation to spiritual reality. In any circumstance you can name where prayer is answered the supernatural impinges on the natural to bring about God’s purpose with full consideration and at least partial affirmation and completion of the request. All together how prayer is answered demonstrates God’s great power and unending knowledge. How that happens is amazing and wonderful. But that He would answer prayer is not. Answered prayer matches well His character of kindness, mercy, grace, personal involvement in His creation, and goodness. 

But why do we pray so little? Our skeptical, mocking society has largely silenced our praise to God for answered prayer. For one thing they nay say any testimony that challenges their naturalistic presuppositions. ‘That can’t happen; you can’t prove the supernatural.’ Of course you can’t if the only evidence you allow is natural or has a natural explanation. So we Christians back off from saying the truth under the pressure of skeptical mockery. Merely natural explanations, however,  fall short on too many accounts at explaining all that we observe. But our praise to God for answered prayer is silenced for a far more serious reason. Despite the abundant Scriptural evidence to God’s willingness, ability, and examples of answered prayer; the abundant historical evidence (George Mueller very notably); God’s good sustaining grace in our own lives, we pray far too little. We must not believe He will answer. He has many times for me in witnessing opportunities,  financial needs, serious health issues, relational difficulties, bewilderment and discouragement, weather, direction, help for missionaries and witnessing friends. Why do I pray so little? “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures…” (James 4:2-3) Perhaps a better question is… What is preventing me now? A big and glorious God answers big and God-glorifying prayers! Lord, work in my life so that I pray more and more intensely!

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When I was a child my father owned a National Geographic book about… well, I don’t exactly remember. However, I do remember the inside cover painting, one similar to the one below, though linear. It also based its unit of measure on the height of man, a markedly humanistic approach which at least has merit because it compares all else to something we know.  Notice that the exponents range from a mere -15 to 25 and yet this nearly emcompasses the entire known range of size in the universe (the universe is above 10^25 and elementary particles or strings (Do they have dimensions?) are below 10^-15).

Source: http://www.astrobio.nau.edu/~koerner/ast180/lectures/pic/cdrom/art_low-res/es01/figure-I-03.jpg

I loved numbers and making connections so this painting was the source of contemplation and imagination for many hours. I liked the idea of numbers and size relationships so much that one time while carrying English ivy that my father was trimming along the driveway, I asked him what the largest number was.  He replied that it was similar to an eight turned on its side. I didn’t figure out for years that this was the infinity symbol (∞). Sometime near the end of elementary school I decided to write my numbers as high as possible. Was I trying to write to infinity, or some highest number, or just a very big number? I have no idea, but frequently the young are too idealist to notice the possible failure rate of poorly laid plans. I also know that author John Piper says he believes we are drawn to bigness in its various forms because we are made in God’s image with an ability and afinity for seeing the beauty of God which we cannot clearly see at the moment. At any rate (or perhaps a specified rate within limits of one factor of ten) I had one of the old large rule writing tablets with dotted lines for teaching beginners to write their letters. I would write each number interval of 100 on a page. I don’t now know where I stopped but I do remember it was over 10,000.  Obviously these antedotes mean that I was (am?) silly, but they also partially introduce why I think “order of magnitude” thinking is important and partly explain how I know it is largely missing in education. When students crunch numbers on calculators they mindlessly accept what number it spits out not considering that perhaps they put in inappropriate numbers or incorrect key strokes. You may not immediately know what 1,549,000 times 361 equals but you should be able to know that 55,918,900,000 is not the answer by inspection because it is two orders of magnitude (100x) too large. You may not know a comparison between miles per hour and meters per second but if I tell you that a person walks at 1.5 meters per second you should be able to tell that any normal car is not likely to be traveling at 150 meters per second (unless transported to a war zone in a C-5A perhaps). If this rambling of childhood memories in any way spurs you on to consider at all or again powers of ten or orders of magnitude I have included a fun link that is useful for imparting the concept as well as firing the imagination. Enjoy it and share it with some young person who needs an introduction to magnitude so that their future answers might at least be in the ballpark.

 http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/java/scienceopticsu/powersof10/     (As I understand it I may not link this site for copyright reasons but you may go to the site by copying and pasting it into your address line. Enjoy!)

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As time passes I seem to have more, not less, on my mind than I can bring to the front burner and cook. I have so many incomplete questions and thoughts that sit on back burners and in warming alcoves that some will spoil before they ever get cooked.  Rather than a source of discouragement it reminds me that there are life times of ideas to explore in God’s person and works and I shan’t ever get bored  in this one. And it encourages me also that my mind is more active, albeit somewhat slower, than at earlier times, so that I am confident of God’s continued work in my heart and mind.

After college and some number of years of self study in “true science”, unbiased by evolutionism and naturalism (OK, highly and proudly biased by biblical thinking- what of it?), I had come to the conclusion that naturalistic thinking had only two difficult to confront evidences against 6-day Creationism. The first was radiometric dating which gave a clear cut way to measure time since the formation of rocks.  After years of study and a number of different evidences to the contrary, I feel confident in saying Creationists have overcome this difficulty. Polonium halos forming is less than three minutes in granite, the possibility of additive or subtractive contamination in parent and daughter isotopes, evidence for changing decay rates in carbon-14, and most significantly the absence of large amounts of helium from the alpha decay in the uranium series strongly suggesting the youth of the rocks (Don DeYoung’s Thousands . . .Not Billions (Master Books, Green Forest, Arkansas, 2005)) have given sufficient alternative evidence and explanation of this phenomena to render great age unneccesary.  The second difficulty I saw was distant starlight as inferred from redshift data. How could the universe be less than 10,000 years old if starlight had been coming from stars for millions and billions of years? The “appearance of age ” suggestion by some Creationists was never satifactory to me since it means practically that Christians could always retreat to a “miracle” to answer unanswerable questions. Now don’t get me wrong. I not only believe God has but does interfere with Nature for His purposes to accomplish great and actual, albeit rare, miracles. But if God is the God of order and reason then His Creation reveals Him and His work in reasonable and orderly ways, though incompletely without Scripture. And though I much prefer correct explanations, that is not the main point of giving a reasonable explanation, for we can no more know if our scientific explanation is right than can the Naturalist. Sorry, it is simply the limited nature of science. However, we now have a reasonable and convincing explanation for the “starlight problem”. And as such Naturalistic explanations are unneccesary. This fact does not mean that my faith was weak before and stronger now. God said it; that is all that matters, but since I was not created with fins or scales, I get tired swimming upstream in this Naturalistic culture. A little slowing of the downward current on occasion is pleasant . It turns out that the explanation is a matter of relativistic perspective. Einstein chose a convention (rule of thumb, reference frame, or perspective if you like) that was useful and convenient for his mathematical and scientific thought experiments but is not required. Einstein was concerned with observers at different locations. In order to retain this perspective he had to consider them going at the same velocity in the chosen frame of reference. If instead the location of the observers is forfeited so that they are at the same location then the velocity may vary. The result is a new definition of simultaneous that matches the Bible’s explanation for how starlight arrived at earth on the same Day Four that it was created. For considering the age of the universe, the author argues convincingly from evidence that Einstein’s convention is not the correct one. If you are neither faint of mathematical or logical thinking you may like to read it as well:   http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v3/n1/anisotropic-synchrony-convention    Even though I cannot revel in a complete understanding of every detail it adjusted my perspective by comparison to a new one and that is pleasant.

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Pain is a teacher unlike the rest
Mastery through continual test
Speaks loud and clear the nerves to molest
Difficult friend and unwelcomed guest

 

Told to rejoice through various trials
How so when all comfort it defiles
Raises high fears deep emotions riles
Makes a few steps seem as many miles

 

The answer comes through what is induced
Frivolous pursuits greatly reduced
Priorities from limits deduced
Perseverance and faith both loosed

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Eagle Cliffs

Eagle Cliffs

 

I guess I wanted to blog while I was away. Hikers, particularly “through hikers” (also called “end to enders”), journal their experiences and keep in contact with other hikers by writing in spiral bound notebooks left in each shelter, most usually in a ziplock bag.  I went backpacking 3 days and 2 nights in the Smoky Mountains National Park with 3 of my children and 2 of their friends.  I had so much on my mind that my children commented on my exceptional quietness.  A small amount of it came out at lunch time on the second day.  My daughter laughed at the thought of me wanting to (as an afterthought) and being able to digitally copy it.  You can read my thoughts by clicking on smokys-08-trail-journal-entry  

 

 

Pecks Corner Shelter

Pecks Corner Shelter

I decided not take tents which meant we had to stay in shelters.  This of course saved weight for us all and gave the young people the new experience of staying in a shelter. The first one, Laurel Gap Shelter still had the old design, dark with a chain link fence over the open side to keep out bears.

The Year of the Fir Cone

The Year of the Fir Cone

But Peck’s has the skylight and expanded front with picnic table and vulnerability to wildlife. Life is a balancing act.                              
I was once told that Balsam Firs only cone once every 7 years.  I do see them rarely.  I have a picture of me picking a cone from the top of a tree 14 years ago. The cones have a certain mystery to them since they come infrequently and the cones disentegrate (You’ve picked up pine, hemlock, and perhaps spruce cones but not whole fir cones unless it was a thrown green one.) My daughter commented that since she would be 21 years old this year she was born in the year of the fir cone.  Time is marked in assundry ways.

 

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Here is an oldie but a …. well you’ll have to decide about that.  It certainly isn’t an easy one to get nor was it easy to do.  I sometimes get hung up in my own devices poetically.  I’m sure the poetry suffers but it’s about the challenge.  Hopefully the message does not equally suffer though it may need to be gone over several times to see.  So, with that somewhat disparaging introduction, see if you can figure out what I was intending to talk about by clicking on Source and Reality

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A Need to Create

Why are we creative? Look around. Consider. To expand your musings read my poem by clicking on  A Need to Create .   Here is a scene that brings back memories for me and could elicit creativity in most anyone:

Missouri River Sunset

Missouri River Sunset

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No, the movie wasn’t like the book, and I think some of the original intent was lost by obscuring it in more introspective and mature themes. But taken as a story alone it had merit to rightly excite the imagination on some points. Perhaps some will read the book who would not have otherwise.

I can hardly believe that I have seen two movies in the movie house in less than one month. It is amazing on several fronts. I could comment on several aspects and themes within the movie but one theme and two scenes most caught my attention. Both scenes involve the subway station. The first one, escaping out of that gray world of immature fights and flirts, was the most visually striking of the two, but it was the later that forced the deeper message on me. In that instant just before passing between the tree trunks from Narnia to the railway tunnel in London, knowing what bliss and purpose you have, to understand what mundane and ridiculous existence you return to is so stark a contrast. Then to be a moment later clothed not in royal attire, feared and loved by all, but eyeing fellow travelers with suspicion and disdain at their sad attempts. But wait. This is a narrow view of the transition. You now have a newer, higher perspective on your mundane existence. You are a king, a queen, and a son of the Most High. You are looking into this difficult world with eyes of confidence in your calling, pity for those unknown by the Most High, hope for your future, and purpose in your every choice and action. For this reason the interpretation of Susan kissing the handsome Caspian and then being accosted by the schoolboy is only half correct. For whatever distractions C.S. Lewis has Susan falling to later on, she is fully enamored of Aslan when in Narnia. In the mundane, out of control world you serve the Most High, not thoughts of blissful relationships. As Lewis said in his sermon, “The Weight of Glory” concerning “beauty, the memory of our own past [of a blissful moment]”, “they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited…we remain conscious of a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy…For a few minutes we have had the illusion of belonging to that world.” But what does Lewis say attracts us to that world? “To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son-it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain.” He goes on to describe a second sense of glory, “to shine as the sun”. “We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words-to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.” And how does that effect our everyday? Lewis says, “A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside.” Ah, the retreating walls of the subway into Narnia, heaven. But no! Narnia in all the stories is not heaven. The new Narnia beyond the thatched, stable door in “The Last Battle” represents heaven. So what is Narnia and when am I going to answer my last question? Narnia is a higher plane we live on like the Promised Land (more on that another day), closer to the Savior, more attuned to our position and purpose. In the everyday existence, Lewis reminds, we must “remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare…There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit-immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.” We await total heaven but let us live in the higher plane of His presence looking in on the our everyday lives with new eyes of seriousness and relaxed confidence.

I urge you to read “The Weight of Glory” by C.S. Lewis. It is easily found online.

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Pastor D. was preaching an excellent sermon this morning on unity in the church. I heard most of it loud and clear with the abundant and well placed Scripture references. But I missed the last half of the introduction and the first point because of a thought process set in motion by his thought provoking illustration. “…..What makes a battering ram work so well? What if individual soldiers took knives and started cutting sticks off of the log……..What would happen if they went up to the gate one at a time and started beating on it.”

Well, aaaaaactually, thought I, though his analogy was intended to point to the need for unity against the common enemy of the church, the ram works because of momentum which is mass x velocity.  Now the battering ram has plenty of mass but not so much velocity.  If the individual soldiers could produce the velocity of say a tornado the small size of their sticks would not be a problem.  They might well punch holes in the gate.  At lunch I conveyed this lack of attention to the point of the illustration.  Leinadcaro lit up so I indulged the moment.  Somewhere along the line someone figured out that the battering ram works better slung from a frame by ropes or chains.  The frame being mounted on wheels is much easier to move but the real power comes from the increased speed of the swing due to the gravity pulling the ram down.  Leinad responds that angular momentum is involved.  Oh yes, the acceleration due to the gravity becomes the angular momentum of the swing.  If the ropes are longer (bigger frame) the moment of inertia is larger resulting in a larger angular momentum.  Metal ends were added to the ram’s head end at some point increasing the impulse force by decreasing the time of impact because the metal doesn’t compress like the wood (impulse = force x time).  If the metal has one or more sharp ends the pressure exerted increases the force exerted on the gate yet again.  Leinad immediately thought that a charge on the end of the ram would send the explosion through the gate even as modern bunker buster bombs and tank penetrating charges do now.  If not the recoil of the ram due to the charge might finish the job upon its return swing.             
The next point in the sermon was about sound doctrine and a subsequent one concerned freedom to have diversity within the unity of the body.  This reminded me of the Scripture, “He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as teachers…..”  The was a purpose for which He did that but some of us get distracted during the sermon by non-spiritual thoughts.  Oh, yeah, it was “for the work of the service”. Sometimes I wonder what service I’m supposed to render.

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Respect

Is respect a legitimate exercise and attitude or is it a power grab by one set of people over another? If it is legitimate when should it be exercised? Since all words are suspect in this day of reverse connotations (“He’s the ‘baddest’ dude I ever seen.”) and relativism (“It may mean that to you but not to me.”) a definition is always a good beginning point for any intelligent discussion. Respect as a noun means a feeling of high regard, honor, or esteem. Some would say all persons should be regarded the same either for egalitarian reasons or for supposed spiritual reasons (“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism” James 2:1, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”). Equal value as a citizen with rights before a government or as a believer before God does not negate structure to society or valuing what God values.
Here are what I believe to be three reasons we should respect any particular person:

1) Respect all persons because they are made in the image of God.

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27
As image bearers of God’s own nature we are afforded respect because our very existence gives glory to God.

2) Respect those who have positions of authority over you including age.
Examples include governors, senators, policemen, teachers, pastors, ruling elders, bosses, parents, husbands, and elders.

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God….” Romans 13:1 “You youger men, likewise, be subject to your elders” 1 Peter 5:5 “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.” Galations 6:6

Not only does Scripture support authority structures in society, the government, the church, and home, but there is no culture that has ever been without such lines of authority and generally in agreement as to who should be respected. The only other alternative is chaos and anarchy.

3) Respect those who have earned respect.

“The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, expecially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” 1Timothy 5:17 “Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior…” 2 Kings 5:1

Earned respect is the only reason some are willing to respect but truly it is third reason on the list. The first two above apply regardless of observation, inference, or feeling. They are due because the person is a person or in a position of authority. The third reason is nice and to be sought after but not necessary for respect.

All three reasons imply an ultimate one to be respected, the image behind all images, the ultimate authority- God. Because more people are not accepting authority or divinity, respect is not recognized. If there is no ultimate authority and no divinity and no one is to be respected then neither does the person disrespecting others have respect or the implied value that results.

So, for the good of us all and for God’s sake (His glory) show a little respect (or “quit dissin’ me”).

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What is noise? How does it affect us? What can we or should we do about it? What difference does it make? Is it an unavoidable result of modern technology or is the source older? The answers may unnerve (knowledge) and settle (application) you. Check it out by clicking on Noise

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A second situation that prompted these thoughts happened last week over a period of nearly a week. One of my nephews drew fire over a blog entry that he had made. The opening salvo regarded whether Christmas has pagan or Christian origins. After 40 comments the discussion was moved over to a forum where two of my nephews and a friend of theirs attempted to ferret out the beliefs of two bloggers who had much more to say than what the beginnings of Christmas were. In the end  (198 more entries) it came down to the two not accepting any of the New Testament writings but Jesus’ words, claiming that His death was not a substitutionary atonement for the sins of those who trust in Him. They wanted salvation by Jesus’ words and the Law, not the grace He provided on the cross. Would you know how to defend the Gospel against very Scripturally and historically informed people who deny Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth? Afterall, Jesus never directly said, “I am God” or “Trust my death on the cross to forgive your sins.” I Peter 3:14b-15 says, “Do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence”. My nephews did an excellent job of drawing out the nature of the belief system, defending the truth with many Scripture references, and appealing to the two bloggers to repent and trust Jesus. Perhaps you think the solution is to stay out of blog forums, but how will you answer that colleague at the work or that soccer mom or that classmate who has a twisted view of Scripture? Twisted views of Scripture are common these days. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” I want to urge any believer reading this entry to make 2008 a year of studying the Word. And pastors 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” Make exposition of the Word central and meaty. May all of us emphasize Bible study over book study, discussing the Word over discussing the weather, that we “may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10)

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