Category Archives: Science

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

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.”

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.

In the Beginning…

Earlier in the year I read a scientific article, which clearly stated what many scientists are afraid to admit – science does not have all the answers. Sometimes all men can do is come up with good questions and postulate theories.

Sometimes we just don’t know why things are the way they are. This truth always gives scientists and researches work to do, yet it also causes a problem for people who demand answers. Sometimes there just aren’t any.

The article appeared in Discover magazine and focused on the Big Bang theory. It offered new explanations for what might have caused the creation of the universe.

In the article, the magazine admitted that scientists are just as confused as everyone else about the origins of the universe. Michael D. Lemonick wrote, “The theory has yet to yield a satisfactory answer to a key question: What made the Big Bang go bang?”

The Biblical account in Genesis seems just as plausible as a bunch of gas causing a massive explosion. The idea that a supreme God created everything from nothing is much easier to explain than what traditional science has offered mankind.

Most scientists start from the view point that there is no God. This approach doesn’t seem very scientific since they automatically eliminate a very strong possible explanation. They have built-in bias even though they may try to deny it.

The latest theories mentioned in the article suggest that something from another dimension caused the origin of the cosmos as we know it. Lemonick wrote, “What triggered the Big Bang? According to a new theory, our universe crashed into a another three-dimensional world hidden in higher dimensions…Maverick cosmologists contend that what we think of as the moment of creation was simply part of an infinite cycle of titanic collisions between our universe and a parallel world.”

Cosmologists may be able to explain the expansion of the universe. But they can’t explain where the initial building blocks for creation came from. This remains the grandest mystery of modern science. Crediting a divine being (God) with creation makes just as much sense as any other theory except the fact that modern scientists would have to then admit in the existence of God.

Scientists may continue to postulate about gases and parallel universes I will keep on believing that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Spaces

As scientists break matter down into the smallest measurable parts, they have made some astounding discoveries. Much of what makes up the things in the universe is ‘empty’ space. Some scientists believe the space is not empty at all. They think it could contain limitless energy. Others believe the space can be manipulated. Still, others believe it is simply empty.

Just because we can’t see something even with the best microscopes, does that mean that there is nothing there? Is there a realm beyond the view of the eye? This mystery appears to reveal the grand design of God. The things we see are made up mostly of what we can’t see. And as best as we can tell, there is a lot of empty space in matter.

While worshipping God the other day, the Spirit impressed upon me that God had designed the empty space in matter as a sign to what He desires to do in man. We are mostly empty space because He wants to fill us with His presence and proclaim His glory through us. The invisible nature of whatever fills the empty spaces is a picture of the spirit realm, which is a higher form of life than physical things.

This caused me to stop and think how much of my life is really filled up with God. If God designed man to have a bunch of holes just like Swiss cheese that might explain why many people feel so empty. As people try to plug the holes with anything other than God, they continue to feel empty. The more things that people try, the more desperate and miserable they become. I have definitely felt this way in the past and still face this challenge in my life everyday. The key seems to be let God plug the holes in your life with whatever He so desires. The Creator definitely knows how to best finish the masterpiece.

Consider the spaces in your life. Where does your time go? Do have a second to breathe between activities? When was the last time you stopped to involve God in your daily life? The only way to know what needs to be in the spaces in your life is to stop and let God show you.