I have written an e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which is free to anyone. To download that book, in several formats, go here.
Creative Commons License
The posts in this blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. In other words, you can copy and use this material, as long as you aren't making money from it, and as long as you give me credit.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The borrowed axe head

2 Kings 6 begins thus: 1 Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there.” And he answered, “Go.” 3 Then one of them said, “Be pleased to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.” 4 So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed.” (ESV)

Two points in this sermon:
1) Axe heads, and hammer heads, can fly off the handle. I've seen it happen. They have to be firmly anchored, or the stress and strain of constantly being used to hit something will cause them to come loose. When they do come off, not only are they useless for pounding, or chopping, but the act of coming off is dangerous, especially if anyone is standing near the operation. It could easily injure or kill.

Important things, like our beliefs, and our love of family, need to be tied on firmly. The anchor strings need to be renewed constantly. If this isn't taken care of, we can lose them, and not only does that make them useless, but it can be dangerous to others who may be near us when it happens.

2) I suppose that, in this pre-industrial age culture, an axe head was a very valuable item. The Bible doesn't tell us if it was bronze, iron, or of some other material, but no matter. It was expensive. The young man didn't expect to just go to the owner and tell him that he'd go to Wal-Mart and buy him another.

The most important things I have -- my life, my family, my home, my salvation, even my interests -- are borrowed. I'm completely, or mostly, dependent on others for them, mostly God, but also friends, parents, family, co-workers, church, police, medical personnel, even politicians. I should never take these "possessions" for granted. If I lose them, I can't go to Wal-Mart and buy another. I may be held responsible for their loss, to a loving, but fair and just judge.

I found this passage through the ESV on-line daily Bible readings for the month of June.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

God and chance, continued

I'm supposed to be on hiatus, but this is too good not to pass on.

Quintessence of Dust has added to his comments on chance vs. the Intelligent Design movement. (Some IDers have claimed that God cannot work through "chance" events. Nonsense!)

He also refers to a note in First Things, by Stephen Barr, which considers what Thomas Aquinas thought about chance.

Both Barr and Quintessence of Dust quote Proverbs 16:33, which says, "The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord." (ESV)

I have previously written, here, about the one occurrence (or two, depending on how you count) of the word "random" in some versions of the Bible, and here, about chance.

Quintessence of Dust gives examples of chance processes in science, commonly understood that way, here.

Thanks for chancing by this blog, and reading.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

God and chance

I wasn't supposed to be posting, but found something too good to pass up on, and that should be passed on.

Uncommon Descent (which I haven't been reading) is an Intelligent Design blog, and someone posting there apparently said that anyone who argues that God may have used evolutionary processes in making living things to be the way they are is a "spineless appeaser." Stephen Matheson posted a response, which includes the following:
2. I'm astonished by the casual claim that "Darwinian evolution" is "out of God's control" because of the role of "chance." Leaving aside some pretty clear statements about chance and God's providence in Scripture, I find the statement to be either a tautology ("Darwinian evolution is out of God's control because Darwin/Dawkins said it was") or a pronouncement regarding God's sovereignty that is anathema to me as a Christian (and especially as a Reformed Christian). In grumpier moods, or after reading some of the more obnoxious comments on this blog, I would suggest that such talk approaches blasphemy, but in any case I would not count myself among Christians who talk that way about God's world and his work. It's one thing to say you don't buy the Darwinian explanation, or to say that you're confused about the working of God's purposes in the midst of seemingly random events; it's another to declare that there are processes that God can't "control."


Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sunspots 166

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

On bad mornings in the church nursery.

One of my favorite authors of fantastic literature, Elizabeth Moon, has written her congressman about high oil prices, and the actions of the Republicans on the subject for the last few decades. She is from Texas.

Firefox 3 is now available for download. Many experts recommend this browser as more customizable, and less vulnerable to various kinds of attacks, than Internet Explorer. I don't use IE myself, unless some download requires it.

Slate has an article on the history, and decline, of the semicolon.

Ken Schenck, New Testament Scholar, on church membership in New Testament times. Splendid.

We are going to do some traveling, seeing the grandsons, so I won't be posting much for a couple of weeks.

Image source (public domain)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Passing on political rumors can be a sin

I don't know which presidential candidate I'm going to vote for. I'm sure that neither Obama nor McCain are going to bring the promised land to the US, much less to the world.

Whatever their flaws, such as Obama's inexperience and McCain's ignorance of the economy, they deserve to be treated fairly in this election. Unfortunately, they haven't always been. There seems to be fairly general agreement among the press that they treated Hilary Clinton unfairly because she is a woman, and that may have contributed to her loss to Obama.

I can't do much about the press, but I can try to do something about another type of unfairness. I am all-too-often getting e-mails from (I hope) well-meaning people who pass on various lies about Mr. Obama. There are probably similar lies being circulated about McCain, but so far, I haven't received any. (Here's a Slate article about some of those lies, about Obama, and John Edwards.)

Here's a response, in advance, to some of these messages:
I checked some of the material you sent, and, according to, a widely recognized rumor-checking source, the statements in the e-mail you forwarded to me are mostly or entirely a fabrication. This is not the first time that it will happen, but it shouldn't. I recall the Internet circulated claim, before the 2000 election, that Al Gore didn't know John 3:16. Gore had been a lifelong Southern Baptist , and had written a book that was enough related to Christianity that Christianity Today interviewed Gore a couple of years before the election. I don't believe that interview is available on the Internet, but I read the article myself, in Christianity Today. There was also a false claim, in the same election year cycle, that John McCain had an illegitimate black child. This rumor was widely circulated in South Carolina, and apparently contributed to McCain's loss in the primary here that year -- he might have been the Republican candidate for President, rather than Bush, if he had won in SC.

Both candidates have their weaknesses, and neither of them is going to bring us the millennium on earth. Both of them deserve to be fairly heard. Whoever starts these rumors is guilty of a sin that the New Testament condemns in at least four places, namely slander. Whoever passes them on may be equally guilty. (Matthew 15:19, Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8, 2 Peter 2:1 ) I don't want to be guilty of slander by passing on such material.
I'm not sure I've got the courage to send this, rather than just deleting the e-mail. We'll see.
Thanks for reading!

August 3, 2012

I'll leave the above as is, but, if I were writing it today, I would have made some reference to Mr. Romney, and also mentioned Facebook as a common medium for passing on political slander and libel.

Thanks for reading! Pass it on. 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gene Wolfe on Tolkien

I have discovered a tribute written by Gene Wolfe, an honored fantasy author who is still writing. The tribute was written about Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The web page also includes poetry by C. S. Lewis, some other poetry, and brief correspondence between Wolfe and Tolkien.

Should be interesting to anyone with a taste for Wolfe, Tolkien, or Lewis. (In my case, all three.)

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What the Bible says about tattoos: 1 Corinthians 8

What the Bible says about tattoos
Someone in my Sunday School class asked me about Christians being tattooed. I did some research on the matter. I didn't know that there is at least one verse that uses the word, "tattoos." It turns out that the answers given below are related to the Sunday School lesson for June 22, 2008, in our church.

Here are my thoughts on the subject, for whatever they may be worth.

[The following section was revised, on July 9, 2017]
Let's look at Leviticus 19 (quoting from the World English Bible, public domain.)
18 “ ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am Yahweh.
19 “ ‘You shall keep my statutes.
“ ‘You shall not cross-breed different kinds of animals.
“ ‘You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed;
“ ‘Don’t wear a garment made of two kinds of material.
20 “ ‘If a man lies carnally with a woman who is a slave girl, pledged to be married to another man, and not ransomed or given her freedom; they shall be punished. They shall not be put to death, because she was not free. 21 He shall bring his trespass offering to Yahweh, to the door of the Tent of Meeting, even a ram for a trespass offering. 22 The priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before Yahweh for his sin which he has committed; and the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven him.
23 “ ‘When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden. For three years it shall be forbidden to you. It shall not be eaten. 24 But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, for giving praise to Yahweh. 25 In the fifth year you shall eat its fruit, that it may yield its increase to you. I am Yahweh your God.
26 “ ‘You shall not eat any meat with the blood still in it. You shall not use enchantments, nor practice sorcery.
27 “ ‘You shall not cut the hair on the sides of your head or clip off the edge of your beard.
28 “ ‘You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you. I am Yahweh.
29 “ ‘Don’t profane your daughter, to make her a prostitute; lest the land fall to prostitution, and the land become full of wickedness.
Anything in the Bible should be taken seriously, of course.

We can divide the commandments in the Old Testament (OT) into three types:
Cultural and Civic -- commandments for the OT Israelite culture, like commands on how to divide the land among the tribes.

Ceremonial -- commandments concerning the worship of the Israelites, like commands about feasts. Most of the OT commands are of this type.

Moral -- commandments for all cultures, at all times, like the commandment that husbands stay with their wives (Genesis 2:24, repeated by Jesus in Matthew 19:5). Moral commandments, though they may be stated first in the OT, are also found in the New Testament.

I would argue that Leviticus 19 is a mixture of laws that were affirmed by the New Testament, and those that weren't.

I agree that pimping one's daughter (or anyone else's) remains sinful. Jesus reinforced the commandment against adultery in Matthew 5.

But I've never heard a sermon against wearing mixed fabrics, based on verse 19b. And verses 23-25 seem clearly to have applied only during the time of the first occupation under Joshua. So Christians aren't bound by these, unless possibly by personal conviction. But verse 18b is reinforced by the New Testament, so still applies. 

We can't always tell which type of command was meant. They are not identified as such in the Bible. The church generally does not hold that the first two types of commandments are binding on Christians. At the Jerusalem conference, the leaders wrote as follows, when Jews felt that gentile Christians must obey the ceremonial law: Acts 15:28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29a that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Even some of the prohibitions in Acts 15:28-9 are not taken as binding by most Christians anymore. 1 Corinthians 8:8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. The Acts 15 statement was about the ceremonial law. It does not undo God's moral laws.

Note that verse 27 implies that having a beard was an expectation, among Jewish law. That verse is used, by some current Jewish groups, to prohibit having hair immediately in front of a man's ears cut, but to require that it be allowed to grow freely. (You may have seen Jewish men who follow this practice.)

So singling out tattoos, and saying that the Bible says they are wrong, but not growing a beard, cutting your hair, and using fabrics which are from a combination of sources, seems inconsistent. But these are not moral laws.

[The revision ends at this point.]
So what about tattoos? The context seems to indicate clearly that Leviticus 19:28 is ceremonial or cultural, not a moral command. Not only is not a moral commandment, but it is probably speaking particularly of a situation involving death of a loved one, and, likely, refers to practices of the heathen neighbors of the Israelites. So why do some Christians speak out against tattoos, saying that the Bible is categorically against them? One reason may be that they don't distinguish between the three types of commandments in the OT. But, if that's true, I bet they don't preach against clipping off the edges of a beard. It is easy to confuse our own prejudices with what God commands. I can remember when that happened with not wearing wedding rings, not wearing a tie, not having your hair cut or wearing pants if you are a woman, not having a beard, or not having long hair if you are a man. Opposition to these ways of presenting oneself is and was cultural, not moral. In our own congregation, attitudes on these matters have changed, which is just as well, because they aren't based on moral commandments.

No one ever went to hell just for wearing a tattoo. People go to hell because they don't believe in Christ as Savior and honor Him as Lord. Nonetheless, there are some principles that would seem to apply about tattoos, and to other choices about how we present our bodies.
1) Why are you doing this? If a tattoo is meant as a statement of rebellion against God, or our parents, or is a display of personal pride, then we shouldn't get it.

2) What is it showing? "Four-letter words," insults, anti-God statements or pictures are some of the things that should be avoided, of course.

3) How much does it cost? We need to use the money that God has given us wisely. This does not mean that we can never spend money on fixing ourselves up, or on things that we enjoy, but we should be careful, and have the right priorities.

4) Is it immodest? Is the purpose to arouse lust in others, or is it likely to do so?

5) Does it put your health at risk? There are some risks involved in getting a tattoo. See Consumer Reports for more information.

6) How will it affect other people? We can't live solely for other people, but we need to be careful that we
don't drive others away from Christ, or weaken other Christians. Some groups (motorcyclers, some African-Americans, some military personnel) might be drawn to Christ by some tattoos, whereas other groups might not.

7) Has God given you a personal conviction against this (or for it)? If so, you'd better abide by that conviction. (1 Corinthians 8 speaks about some of these things.) However, we should be careful not to expect others to live according to our personal convictions.

8) Have I promised not to do this? There are certain vows that go with joining our church -- which has no prohibition on being tattoed -- or other bodies, and promises should be kept, unless there is a more important moral principle in play that wasn't anticipated when you made the promise.

9) What's my attitude? (In this case, toward those who disagree with my opinion about something external, or who may be affected by what I might do.) My attitude must be one of love. Here's part of Mark 12, on the most important commandments: 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34a And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

I have no plans to get a tattoo myself, but being tattooed isn't necessarily wrong for Christians. Some day, I may have a pastor, or a descendant, with a tattoo. I may have one or both of these already!

Thanks for reading. If anyone can use this, they are welcome to do so. This is my post for June 22, but I am posting it early.

*  *  *  *  *
Added August 6, 2011: E Stephen Burnett has a fine post on another subject, but which covers much of the same ground, that is, what about practices that may offend some Christians, and what about practices that aren't explicitly Christian?

Thanks for reading!

Gene Wolfe on how to deal with myth

" 'A simple way would be to admit that myth is neither irresponsible fantasy, nor the object of weighty psychology, nor any other such thing. It is wholly other, and requires to be looked at with open eyes.' " p. 324 of Return to the Whorl: Volume Three of the Book of the Short Sun, by Gene Wolfe (New York: Tor Books, 2001) This is Horn (or Silk) the main character, reading from a randomly picked passage in the Chrasmologic writings, the sacred book of the religion of Viron. No context is given. Horn just reads this.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Congratulations to Doc Rivers and the Celtics

The Boston Celtics, coached by Glenn (Doc) Rivers, have won the National Basketball Association championship, destroying the Los Angeles Lakers in game six, by 41 points, at Boston last night. Rivers becomes only the fourth African-American to coach an NBA championship team.

The last championship won with an African-American coach was in 1986, with K. C. Jones as coach. Jones-coached teams won twice. as did Bill Russell's, in 1968-9. Both were with Celtics teams, and both played for the Celtics. Al Attles won as coach of the Warriors in 1975, and Lenny Wilkens with Seattle in 1979. The NBA's official list (which doesn't indicate racial background) is here. As of this writing, it hasn't been updated to include Rivers.

The Wikipedia article on K. C. Jones states that the 1986 Celtics were the last NBA championship team with a majority of Caucasian players.

Thanks for reading, and congratulations to the Celtics, and especially to Doc Rivers.

Sunspots 165

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

(or science) A Slate writer tries to become a morning person.

A report on an analysis of evolution in Escherichia coli, which says: ". . . if we replayed the tape of life, we would not get the same results each time. Each step in evolution is dependent on prior history — it is contingent — and since many of the steps are driven by chance yet unfiltered by selection, we cannot predict the direction of evolution." The original scientific paper is here.

Doctors should tell their patients (gently, of course) when there is no further medical help available, and they are going to die. When told, such patients are no more likely to be depressed than those not so told.

Wired reports that your addiction to the Internet may become a recognized psychological disorder. Yes, you, too, may be officially crazy.

Slate on differences between reading on-line and reading printed text .

A search page that helps you find a literary work when you don't know either the author or the title.

A review of Prince Caspian, the movie, saying, more or less, that the movie was not Christian enough, from the SF Site (which is a mainstream science fiction review site, not a religious one).

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gene Wolfe's Horn on not correcting mistakes

I should go back and line out my mistake, I suppose, but I hate lining things out -- it gives the page such an ugly appearance. Besides, to line out is to accept responsibility for the correctness of all that is let stand. To correct that or any other error would be to invite you to ask me (when you read this, as I hope you soon will) why I failed to correct some other. And I cannot correct all or even most of them without tearing the whole account to shreds and starting again. My new account, moreover, would be bound to be worse than this, since I could not prevent myself from attributing to myself knowledge an opinions I did not have at the time the events I recorded occurred. No, there really are such things as honest mistakes; this account is full of them, and I intend to leave it that way. (Gene Wolfe, Return to the Whorl: Volume Three of the Book of the Short Sun. New York: Tor, 2001p. 184)

This is Horn writing, with a quill pen, so that there is no wonder that he doesn't want to "line out" an inconsequential error. But it's also interesting philosophy. Horn is the supposed author of seven books by Wolfe, his books of the Long Sun, and of the Short Sun.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 16, 2008

How long to accept a theory perceived to be at odds with Christian belief

Some excerpts from Mindell, David P., The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006. Mindell compares the acceptance (or not) of evolutionary theory with that for two other scientific developments:

This chapter has traced the history of three initially unpopular discoveries. These are: the fact that the earth orbits the sun, the fact that many diseases arise naturally from microbial life forms, and the fact of common ancestry for all organisms. All three of these discoveries presented essential challenges to orthodox thinking and traditional institutions at the time of their formulation. Heliocentrism removed the earth from the center of the universe and contradicted the Bible. The germ theory of disease origins removed a category of direct punishment or reward from the diminishing arsenal of divine power, . . . , p. 48. The original scientific formulation for heliocentrism may be dated to about 1510, the time at which Copernicus' De revolutionibus was written, though it was not published until 1543. Acceptance among scientists may be placed roughly after the death of Galileo in 1642, and acceptance by the primary community resisting the idea may be estimated, in the extreme, as 1835, when Galileo's Dialogues was removed from the "Index of Prohibited Books," published by Catholic authorities. This gives an estimate of 325 years for acceptance by its most reluctant audience. (50) Mindell estimates that it took about 340 years for the acceptance of germ theory, which came with the work of Robert Koch.

By this reasonable though admittedly subjective accounting, acceptance for evolution has not taken any longer than for heliocentrism or germ theory. The ship of cultural change, though slow to change course on evolution, appears no slower in changing than for other discoveries of similarly high social impact. (51-2)

Mindell does not say that this proves that evolution will finally be comfortably accepted by all:

Is evolution different from other discoveries at odds with religious traditions? Arguably, yes, evolution is different in the immediacy of its perceived threat. It is perceived as a direct threat to the role of God in the material origins of humans. And explanation of human origins, whether for our species or for each individual, is about a personal as it gets. (305)

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

We are ambassadors: Henri J. M. Nouwen

Spiritually you do not belong to the world. And this is precisely why you are sent into the world. Your family and your friends, your colleagues and your competitors, and all the people you may meet on your journey through life are all searching for more than survival. Your presence among them as the one who is sent will allow them to catch a glimpse of the real life. (Henri J. M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved. New York: Crossroad, 2002, p. 132)

I thank one of my daughters for recommending Nouwen's brief book to my wife and me.

2 Corinthians 5:20a Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. (ESV)

What kind of ambassador am I?

Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sunspots 164

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Have a look at parts of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Nature News reports that trees have ways of regulating leaf temperature, and seem to prefer 70 degrees F/21 degrees C.

Nature News also reports that certain areas of the brain are associated with wanting to hang on to things we own.

I am not making this up! If you are concerned about wanting to contact your friends and loved ones after you have left the earth in the Rapture, there's a web service for you.

Wired reports that some domain names (.gov, for one) are almost all safe to surf, but some others are much less safe. The article suggests being very careful with purchasing pharmaceuticals from sites in some domains.

A paralyzed man has been able to manipulate a second life character with his brain waves (and appropriate apparatus).

(or something) Leonard Pitts, columnist, has a daughter who has recently graduated from high school. Anyone with a daughter (or maybe a son) should read this.

Bonnie on gender imbalance (or not) in churches. Splendid analysis.

Jan deals with the question of whether or not the Song of Songs is pornography, or erotic, or neither, and whether there's a difference between them.

Image source (public domain)

Monday, June 09, 2008

1,000 posts!

This is my 1,000th post.

Thanks, readers, however sporadic or faithful!

The hardest thing about blogging is having something to say that's worth reading.

Whoops! Wrong.

It's getting people to read what you have said. You have made both a lot easier, and I haven't always posted something worth reading, by a long shot.

If you have time on your hands, I suggest that you look at one or more of the 17 "Significant posts," just to the right of this. I consider such matters as what the church prayed for in the New Testament, what makes a novel Christian, the Narnia books, our fascination with photography, origins, the Bible and science, and things I'm thankful for.

The first post was nearly three and a half years ago.

Thanks to God for the ability and facilities needed to do this.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Saul knew he was wrong, but kept chasing David.

1 Samuel 24 has an amazing verse: "20 And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand." (ESV) This is Saul, then king, speaking to David. Saul was chasing David at this time, attempting to kill him. You might think that Saul, who obviously knew that he was in the wrong, would have stopped trying to chase David, but he didn't. In 1 Samuel 26, two chapters later, he is at it again.

How often have I done this?

I noticed this passage as a consequence of following the ESV on-line Bible reading for a day in May.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Genesis and the Big Bang, by Gerald L. Schroeder

At the suggestion of Tap, I recently read parts of Gerald L. Schroeder's Genesis and the Big Bang. (New York: Bantam, 1990). Other people have mentioned the book from time to time.

Schroeder is clearly intelligent, and a good writer. I found some parts of particular interest.

Schroeder is a working scientist, and therefore writes with some authority. He appears, throughout, to be attempting a reconciliation of the Bible with the findings of modern science, a laudable goal, indeed, as both of them are part of God's revelation to us.

One way that he tries to do this is by using relativistic time. Einstein did not see time as constant, but flexible, depending on the physical system. Schroeder points out that God is outside of time, and that observed time depends on the motion of the observer and the observed, and that the apparent duration of an event won't be the same for two observers who are moving relative to one another. All this (which he explains at some length, with diagrams) leads him to conclude that the six days of Genesis might be the same as the billions of years that modern scientists believe is the age of the universe.

That's an interesting conclusion. However, no matter how good his science, I have trouble believing that this will be acceptable to young-earth creationists. I have trouble accepting it, myself, because it seems too complex and convoluted to me. Also, there is another question. Does Genesis really describe the creation of the earth, the solar system, or the universe, or all three?

Thanks, Tap. I believe Schroeder's heart is in the right place, and he may even be correct about creation week -- God may have observed the same events as a single week, and we (speaking of a hypothetical observer -- there were no humans in existence at the beginning) as billions of years, or the reverse. But I think he's working too hard here.

Maybe my problem is that, like almost all of us, I really think of time as a universal, constant, flow, no matter what Einstein said.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sunspots 163

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Some photos from the Phoenix, newly landed on Mars.

Joseph Kimojino, a Masai park ranger from Kenya, posts wildlife photos from Africa.

You may think that there is general agreement as to what a species is. Not so. Carl Zimmer has posted the text of his article in June Scientific American.

The National Basketball Association has received an "A" rating for its diversity, because of the number of minorities and women in executive positions.

Richard Colling, a science professor at Olivet, has written a splendid post, entitled "Evolution and Faith: Communicating their Compatibility in Christian Higher Education."

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

G. K. Chesterton on the importance of fantasy for children

From G. K. Chesterton, "The Red Angel," essay XVII in Tremendous Trifles (Public domain, 1909. My source is Project Gutenberg. The book may be found here.):

I find that there really are human beings who think fairy tales bad for children. . . .

If you keep bogies and goblins away from children they would make them up for themselves. . . . One small child can imagine monsters too big and black to get into any picture, and give them names too unearthly and cacophonous to have occurred in the cries of any lunatic. The child, to begin with, commonly likes horrors, and he continues to indulge in them even when he does not like them.

. . . The timidity of the child or the savage is entirely reasonable; they are alarmed at this world, because this world is a very alarming place. They dislike being alone because it is verily and indeed an awful idea to be alone. Barbarians fear the unknown for the same reason that Agnostics worship it -- because it is a fact. Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey.

Thanks for reading. Read Chesterton.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Daniel on doing the right thing, only: Ravi Zacharias

A week ago, I heard Ravi Zacharias on the radio.

He had an interesting slant on Daniel's refusal to eat the fancy food provided by the king's staff.

Zacharias said something like this:
Many believers try to see how close they can come to the line between good and evil. Daniel was trying to see how far into the good area he could get from that line, while still being an effective ambassador for God.

May I do the same.

Thanks for reading!