Category Archives: Nature

The Evolution of Language

Language is one of the things that is truly evolutionary in life. While people debate the evolution of species, we know that words change. Sometimes words start out as two separate words. Eventually, they get a hyphen to connect them. Eventually, these words become so linked in people’s brains that the words are slammed together to form one new word.

Language started as an oral practice before people ever wrote it down on a tablet or piece of paper. There are some amazing things about language that linguists have not really figured out even to this today. How does your brain know where one word stops and another one begins when listening to someone speak a known language? Scientists are still baffled by this because there is no noticeable space, such as you find in written language.

As I have begun to study Hebrew at Union PSCE Seminary, I am learning so much about even my native tongue. I had either forgotten these things from childhood or had never stopped to realize them. I plan on writing a lot about words as I process through the things I learn in my Hebrew class.

Here’s just one example of the great insight that can be seen by studying the meaning of Hebrew words used in the Tanakh (Old Testament). For starters, Hebrew never uses “is” or “are” equivalents. The present tense verb is assumed unless otherwise stated by the language used. This means you can have a sentence without a verb if the verb in English would be “is” or “are”.

Hebrew by default considers the place of action to be the present. This has ramifications beyond just language. It means that every noun is understood by what it is doing not necessarily what it is as a person, place or thing. I am reminded that life is mean to be lived in the present. We can’t usually change the past. And we can’t do anything about the future except do the right thing in the present.

Language is fascinating because it reflects the story of the people who speak and write it. Stop to consider how your language has changed through the years. What does this say about society? What does this say about you?

Green is the New Thing

Wherever I turn, I hear people talking about green this and green that. No, I don’t mean the color. I am referring to eco-friendly, environmentalism. 

From Wal-Mart and its green purchasing initiative to my dad talking about his church putting in eco-friendly carpet, you would think the whole world has just gone crazy over saving the planet. Don’t get me wrong, I lead the recycling initiative at work, am looking for ways to cut my energy usage and love our National Parks. But I wonder if this is just another case of American “metooism.” Is this just another fad that will fade when An Inconvenient Truth can be found on the discount DVD rack for 99 cents?

Sustainability is a key principle in business now. The new idea is that green (ecological decisions) can save corporations lots of green ($$cost). I recently wrote an interview on the subject for the Pallet Enterprise (my day job). http://www.palletenterprise.com/articledatabase/view.asp?articleID=2454

What stuck out to me while working on the article is how difficult it can be to determine what is and what is not green. It all depends on your perspective and who is paying for the research.

I am all for cutting waste, reusing more stuff, reducing our impact on the planet, and being good stewards as God ordered Adam and Eve back at the beginning. At the same time, I am concerned about how people will use ecological propaganda to sell ideas and products to easily duped Americans. Thinking that you are doing something good for the planet is no excuse to blindly following the latest “green” campaign. Some of these efforts are worthwhile. Others are not.

Energy efficient light bulbs and cars make sense. “Saving forests” by using plastic products instead of wood products generally is not the best environmental decision.

Full disclosure – I do work with the forest products industry. But that doesn’t mean I am anti-environmental protection. Some of the best eco-warriors that I have ever met earn their living from the land in some way or another.

I believe trees are the answer as Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, said in his book Green Spirit (www.greenspirit.com). We need to use more wood products because that will make sure that more land is converted and used for forests. Otherwise, people might turn this land into new housing developments or strip malls. That is true deforestation.

Buying Off Eco Guilt

Do you feel guilty about your contribution to smog, ozone depletion, species extinction, water pollution and deforestation?

Good, you should. That’s the message that preservationists want you to believe. The good news is that some eco-entrepreneurs have developed Terrapass as a solution to your dilemma. 

You can find out more by visiting  http://www.terrapass.com/road/howworks.html

Oh, even better, hear what my friend Kevin Strait has to say about Terrapass. This is the first in what I hope are many recorded rants from Kevin on a variety of topics. His humor and insight are worth downloading. Kevin comments on the cartoons that explain just how Terrapass works.

Kevin’s Terrapass Rant

Is An Inconvenient Truth Really True?

Ok, I’m a global warming skeptic. I think we would all agree that smog and pollution is a bad thing. But is your car really killing the planet?

It’s really an issue of how much CO2 is too much. When does progress actually cause things to regress?

One of the reasons why I am a skeptic is that I write about environmental issues for a living and have seen green groups do and say things that just reek of too much self interest. I don’t believe that timber and chemical companies are the only entities with questionable motives at times.

A few years ago, I interviewed Dr. Patrick Moore. He is a forestry ecologist and one of the original founders of Greenpeace. Dr. Moore has turned over a new leaf and has actually began promoting the use of trees as a better environmental solution to things like plastic. You can find out more about him from www.greenspirit.com.

Dr. Moore was one of the most truly fascinating people that I have ever had the chance to interview. I will never forget his honesty about his journey at Greenpeace. I asked him when did he decide to leave? He said, “I knew that we were in trouble when we got a pension fund. We stopped being about the mission and started doing things to foster our existence as an organization.” He said the lifelong politicos hijacked the organization.

Dr. Moore was tired of always being against stuff and wanted to be for something. He felt that Greenpeace had been successful because governments and corporations were willing to come to the negotiation table. There is a time when you have to put down your hammer and pick up a pen.

I asked him about global warming. He said the following:

“The people who are saying there is no longer any need for debate are the ones who would stifle debate. They think they’re right. The fact is that there is huge discussion about global warming. There are a lot of climatologists who do not accept that humans are the definite cause of the climate change. Most of them admit that humans could be part of it or maybe some or most of it, but we don’t know that. Then there are the people who say there is a consensus among scientists that we know for sure that humans are causing this climate change and we know for sure that it will be bad.

“Those are the two different questions of course; whether or not we are causing it on the one hand and on the other hand whether or not it will be all bad. I personally believe that we don’t know if we are causing it all. But even if we assume that we are causing it, some positive impacts will result. As usual, when there’s change there are going to be winners and losers. If you focus on the losers, like a lot of people seem to be doing, then certain island states will have the water level rise, and there may be drought in other places. But there may also be deserts blooming somewhere. There may be increased fishery productivity and a whole bunch of positive things, such as, longer growing seasons, shorter winters, reduced energy requirements, and forests growing in areas that are now just tundra.

“There are all kinds of possibly positive impacts from climate change. The activist groups and a lot of political people seem to think there’s an advantage for them to be accentuating the negatives, the climate catastrophes and the climate apocalypses. They talk about global warming plunging Europe into the dark ages when, in fact, we’re in a cold period right now compared to most of the earth’s history. During much of the earth’s history there was no ice at either pole. Then there was a time hundreds of millions of years ago when it froze nearly to the equator due to a real cold period. And for the last two million years we’ve been in the Pleistocene period, otherwise known as the Ice Age.”

Now, it appears that a number of scientists have come forward to question the science behind Al Gore documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Even some supporters, feel that Gore presents an over the edge depiction, basically the worst case scenario.

Among the critics is Robert Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University, Queensland. Carter wrote, “Nowhere does Mr Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet,” Dr Carter wrote. “Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change.”

So here’s where I stand. I will work to do things to be a good steward and reduce my use of energy as much as possible. We can all probably cut our carbon footprint somewhat and not go back to the Stone Age. This is just about being a good steward. And that’s something that God has called mankind to do since the days of Adam and Eve.

But I refuse to jump on the sky is falling bandwagon. And I will remain skeptical. Why? Well, I have been burned too much in the past by experts. And we all tend to see what we want to see and overlook things that are inconvenient to our truth.

Blind Faith

“Behind every question of faith or practice is a presupposition – a premise. If you start with an incorrect premise, you may end up with a logically sound argument, but you will have a conclusion that simply isn’t true.” – Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission

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Making decisions based on a certain set of presumptions is common even in science. Some people think that all science is exact. But science revolves around theories. These assumptions are either proven to be true or false. And there are many instances where we can’t really prove theories either way due to human limitations in time and space. And in those cases, we have to make the best scientific guess possible. Much of established science today is still at the theory stage. This includes sacred cows, such as evolution and global warming.

I am thinking about global warming due to former vice president Al Gore’s movie called An Inconvenient Truth. This movie and most journalists present global warming as a proven ecological crisis. And while many respected scientists point to global warming as a pending ecological nightmare. There are others that doubt if the situation is as bad as many “experts” make it out to be.

I am not sure what to really think about global warming. I am all for being responsible with the planet. But I don’t want to sign on with the preservationist agenda because I have seen them be wrong many times in the past. The way that many journalists act as if there is not a legitimate scientific debate on the real danger linked to the issue seems dishonest and wreckless.

Consider what Dr. Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace and respected ecologist, said when I asked him about global warming.

What is your view on the science behind global warming? Is it really as big of a problem as many experts make it out to be?

Moore: The people who are saying there is no longer any need for debate are the ones who would stifle debate. They think they’re right. The fact is that there is huge discussion about global warming. There are a lot of climatologists who do not accept that humans are the definite cause of the climate change. Most of them admit that humans could be part of it or maybe some or most of it, but we don’t know that. Then there are the people who say there is a consensus among scientists that we know for sure that humans are causing this climate change and we know for sure that it will be bad.

    Those are the two different questions of course; whether or not we are causing it on the one hand and on the other hand whether or not it will be all bad. I personally believe that we don’t know if we are causing it all. But even if we assume that we are causing it, some positive impacts will result. As usual, when there’s change there are going to be winners and losers. If you focus on the losers, like a lot of people seem to be doing, then certain island states will have the water level rise, and there may be drought in other places. But there may also be deserts blooming somewhere. There may be increased fishery productivity and a whole bunch of positive things, such as, longer growing seasons, shorter winters, reduced energy requirements, and forests growing in areas that are now just tundra.

    There are all kinds of possibly positive impacts from climate change. The activist groups and a lot of political people seem to think there’s an advantage for them to be accentuating the negatives, the climate catastrophes and the climate apocalypses. They talk about global warming plunging Europe into the dark ages when, in fact, we’re in a cold period right now compared to most of the earth’s history. During much of the earth’s history there was no ice at either pole. Then there was a time hundreds of millions of years ago when it froze nearly to the equator due to a real cold period. And for the last two million years we’ve been in the Pleistocene period, otherwise known as the “Ice Age.”

Healing Dead Waters

Ezekiel 47:7-12 (NLT)
He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank. When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows. Fishermen will stand along the shores of the Dead Sea. All the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim, the shores will be covered with nets drying in the sun. Fish of every kind will fill the Dead Sea, just as they fill the Mediterranean. But the marshes and swamps will not be purified they will still be salty. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.”

While in Israel, Ron Cantor, told the team about a prophecy in the Old Testament concerning the Dead Sea. Yesterday, the Spirit led me to the passage detailing the miracle. In the future, healing waters will flow from the temple area in Jerusalem. These waters will flow east and will bring life to wherever it touches. Dry, dead places will suddenly spring to life with new vegetation and aquatic life. The waters will eventually reach the
Dead Sea and bring it back to life. Fish will abound in the once dead body of water.

This prophecy takes on new meaning when you recently floated in the Dead Sea. The water has such a high salt content that no fish can live in it. Imagine the power of the miracle. It shows the ability of God to turn even the deadest body of water on earth into a place where life can flourish.

God is in the business of healing dead waters. He restores things to how they should be. Nothing is too hard for God to accomplish. This prophecy shows the power in living water. Now all we have to do is receive from God – the author and finisher of our faith.

A Thinking Man of Faith

Why does reason and science have to be at odds with faith? Partially this is by design. Faith is believing what we cannot see. Science is about what we can measure, observe and explain. I believe that most science relies on a bit of faith even though most scientists would strongly object to my assertion.

Science seeks to explain many things that are virtually beyond our known experience. Much of science is based on theories that cannot be proven. Many scientific discovers raise more questions than provide answers.

I have recently been thinking about the similarities and differences between faith and science after watching a PBS documentary on the existence of God. The film contrasts the views of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. Both men were atheists at least for some portion of their lives. Lewis became a reluctant convert. Eventually, he wrote some of the greatest apologetic writings in modern times.

Freud tried to unlock the unconscious thoughts and dreams. He linked many things in life with desires that developed at a young age. He tried to explain everything within the realm of the mind and natural processes. Yet, as I listened to what Freud believed, I noticed it filled with faith. His faith just didn’t happen to be in God. He placed his faith in reason and hypothesis based on his own experiences and dreams.

I like what one of the panelists had to say about developing our own view of God. J. Douglas Holladay said, “We are all betting on something. We have incomplete information to place that bet. In light of what we think is the most reasonable bet, we are putting our life down on it…That is as much certainty as we are going to get. Everything is a bet, and the bet gets validated over time.”

I agree with his comment except for the fact that life is not about the end only. It is also about the journey to get there. This is especially true for the Christian. How we live our life here and now impacts our reality in eternity.