Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2010

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!)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

     In eighteen concise verses of II Peter 3 the Holy Spirit by the apostle Peter gives the believer significant motivation for godly living and insight into God’s works. The historical scope of the verses is nothing less than ‘beginning to end’. 

     God, based on His authority and the worthiness of His person, could simply command man what to do with no further information or motivation.  But knowing our frailty and sinfulness He gives us every conceivable reason and motivation to enable us to please Him:            1)     Christ died for us.   2)  The Holy Spirit indwells us.   3)  He has     given many evidences of who He is through his teaching, miracles, and providence.   4)  He has given us promises.

We are privileged and responsible for what we do with these great helps. The passage I am considering refers to each of these motivations.

     v.1-3: Why is Peter going to write about the huge events of God’s workings?  First of all, Peter wants to remind these hard pressed believers of the teachings of God through the prophets and apostles.  They are all God’s teachings, what Peter later calls Scriptures (3:16, literally, “The Writings”). The apostles communicated that part of God’s teachings are commanded by Jesus, the One Who is Lord and Savior.  Even as he does later with Paul’s writings specifically, Peter here is declaring the apostles’ teachings to be equal with the prophets and clearly God’s teachings.  And is there a difference because Jesus commanded it? In time and voice (that of our Lord, Savior, Elder Brother, Friend, Gloried Son of the Father), yes, but in content, not really.  When Jesus speaks you feel at once as though you have heard this somewhere before and as though He is repeating Himself.  And of course He is as any frequent reader of the Old Testament will know. Peter’s letter is the second reminder he is giving, the first one fortifying them by way of attention to godly living against persecution and suffering. The second part of Peter’s purpose is the specific subject of His reminder, which is somewhat different in approach from I Peter. Chapter 2 spent much time revealing the false teachers within the Body who disturb the faith of many. The “mockers” (v.3) may be one and the same with the “false teachers” (2:1), as many commentators assume, but I rather think these represent a second threat, external scoffers rather than internal deceivers. Rather than gaining advantage by tickling ears (II Timothy 4:3) they combat sound teaching by supposed empirical evidence to the contrary.  “They all are not of us.” (I John 2:19) It is as true today as it was then. The content of the mocking now, as I hope to show, is amazingly similar though increasingly sophisticated. The underlying purpose of the mockers is the same then as now.  As Alduous Huxley so honestly confided, “The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do,… For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.” He agrees with Peter that his purpose was to follow his own lusts.

          v.4-7: The mockers’ question concerning unfulfilled promise is not very intimidating by itself, but couched in the plausibility of empirical data’s absence, supposed historical evidence, and the implied principle of unchanging progress of phenomena with time, what answer might the beleaguered believers broach? And now we have a name for this ‘unalterable’ principle that reveals why history records no empirical data on promises fulfilled- uniformitarianism.  We are told that Nature is the “whole show” (“Miracles” by C. S. Lewis) and within that show the pace of processes (chemical and physical weathering for example) observed now is the pace at which they have always proceeded. That is, “all continues as it was” (v.4). In reality, if this is true, then God is not active in His creation and therefore didn’t create this “show” anyway. Therefore, the mockers today as well as then mean something else by “beginning of creation” than we do, for we are not Deists. Evidence that they believe something else about what creation means follows immediately in their willful ignorance of God’s creative process.

           Peter confronts the fallacy of the mockers’ argument not on the basis of unsound logic but on the basis of a willfully incorrect starting point.  Wrong conclusions are inevitable from wrong presuppositions regardless of how sound the logic. In fact the more sure the logic the more sure the wrong conclusions from the wrong beginning. So Peter sets the record straight by way of four unmistakable works of God, singularities if you will. A singularity is defined in various ways depending on the discipline of study. In math it means a point at which a function is not defined. In physics a gravitational singularity is a point in space where density is infinite and volume is zero (commonly called a black hole). In mechanics (physics again) and technology it is an event, position, or configuration after which subsequent behavior cannot be predicted. The event or place changes what would have happened in a way that cannot be immediately predicted.  Peter is talking about four such events that have and will change the consequences for nature and its creatures in ways only God knows.

           The first of these is the Creation (v. 4-5) whereby God made the rules of the game. Next was the Flood (v. 6) which destroyed the equilibrium by overturning all the pieces on the game board.  In the future comes the Day of the Lord (v. 7,10-12) with the return of the Game Designer and meting out of judgment, game over. Lastly arrives the New Heaven and New Earth (v. 13) which awards those selected as the winners- a new game with new rules. The game metaphor focuses on the reason why these singularities changed what happened afterwards.

     God has and will intervene in His Creation to fulfill His purposes.  The mockers may deny it or ignore it or explain it away but their blindness is willful and their deceit is shallow in light of the evidence.

           Peter reviews details of the 4 events some of which teach us brand new facts. The Creation comes about, as do the rest, by God speaking them into existence (Psalm 33:6). In the case of heaven He spoke it out of nothing (“ex nihilo” as the creationists like to say). The earth at this point it seems was a part of the heavens in the form of water. As it says, “the earth was formless and void” (Genesis 1:2), as fluids are apt to be, taking the shape of a container, if they have one. The solid earth or land was formed by bringing it up out of the water (Psalm 136:6) in which it now sits and is fully saturated, and it was also shaped by the water through erosion and deposition no doubt as the dry land was appearing (Genesis 1:6-10). The heavens, that is the atmosphere, were formed between two layers of water, and the Psalmist declares “Praise Him…waters that are above the heavens” (148:4). Evidently God formed the heavens, including all that came from nothing and subsequently the earth from water. God is the “Maker of all” who “stretched out the heavens” and “made the earth by His power” (Jeremiah 10:12,16).

     Peter rushes right on through the next big event, the Flood of Noah’s day. He is doing considerable clumping by saying “at that time” for an event that was 1600+ years later.  But it was all ancient history and the point seems to be that the agent God used for creating, water, could just as well be used for destruction, flooding. We know of course based on God’s promise and the symbol of the rainbow that God is not going to repeat this type of destruction, but that does not prevent or slow Him down from His purpose. His Word is just as powerful to destroy by fire as by flood, and He is not slack (II Peter 2:5). “Present” denotes that this heavens and earth are neither in its origin pristine form nor the “new” form to be later created. God has not forgotten nor has He been rendered unable. Rather it is reserved and kept for fire. The appointed destruction and judgment are determined for the ungodly, so mockers beware.

           v. 8-10: Verse 8 is frequently misused by the skeptic to mean that since God overlooks lengths of time then the days of Genesis 1 could just as well be ages of time in which great geologic and biologic changes took place by slow naturalistic processes. But the context of Psalm 90:4 from which this thought comes indicates the timelessness of God as compared to the short life span of man, not His inability to tell time. For God clearly gave Moses the record of numbered days in the Creation Week and evening and morning delineating literal 24 hour days. And because God is timeless, He can be patient and exact about the timing of fulfilling His purposes, which is not slowness. He gives a legitimate invitation to all “for whoever will call on the name of the LORD will be saved” (Romans 10:13), and yet only those He calls will be saved (Acts 13:48).

           He is patient now and many are being called to Him (3:15) but things will change suddenly and unexpectedly like a thief breaking and entering while you are asleep. The day of the Lord is usually referred to as a period of time in which judgment falls as in verse seven, but the suddenness and finality of this event speaks of one actual day or moment in time. The references to fire (v.7), pass away with a roar and intense heat and burned up (v.10), and burning and elements melting with intense heat (v.12) seem to the modern mind to so obviously  refer to thermonuclear annihilation of all matter. But how could Peter, who at best would have an Aristotelian view (earth, air, fire, water) of matter and more likely had none (untrained, Acts 4:13), give such an accurate description of matter’s demise? The prophet need not fully understand what God is giving him to describe. The Psalmist could not have understood the type of crucifixion Christ would undergo when he described it in such clear detail in Psalm 22. Ideas about God’s nature like the Trinity that we read in Scripture are still not understood. But there it is. In Christ “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17), but when He withdraws His hand it will cease to hold together and every fundamental force will cease its function as the physical world comes unglued and is no more. In the case of believers “this perishable must put on imperishable” (I Corinthians 15:53).

           Verses 11-18: God will then create a new heaven and new earth that are not perishable where believers in their new imperishable state of righteousness will see God and dwell with Him forever. All that the first heaven and earth failed to be because of Adam’s sin the new ones will be without the threat of being tarnished by sin. Peter has said that the Creation will be destroyed three different times, making clear his point that the mockers are totally wrong. This leads to the point of application for the believers. Peter is so intent on presenting the solution that he gives most of the answer in the question, “What sort of people ought you to be?” I see 4 applications in the final verses:

1) True awe brings about holy conduct, anticipation of glory, and working with His plan  (v.11-12)

2) The conduct will be characterized by a diligence for holiness permeated with peace (v.14)

3) This awareness will produce a guard against error (v.17)

4) and a life characterized by growing in grace and knowledge of Christ (v.18)

Verse 16 seems to be included by Peter as a last shot at those who disbelieve what God has said.  And in so doing he excludes modern positions about Paul’s epistles not being equal with the rest of Scripture.  Mockers, false teachers, whoever else is untaught and unstable distort what the “Writings” of the Prophets and Paul have to say. And since Scripture is spiritually discerned who would expect them to do otherwise, but Peter has pre-warned you, so that you may be on guard and grow.

Read Full Post »

Hawk’s Bill Panorama

I never get tired of mountain vistas, even if they are ones I’ve seen many times before. Today the snow and the atmosphere were exceptional.

Hawk's Bill Mountain

We had to stand off abit since the gravel road comes downhill, was snow covered, and I only have 2 wheel drive. That’s OK. We hiked in about a mile to the trailhead and then another 1+ to the top- quite pleasant.  The hiking was pleasant and temperature just below freezing

Catch the Drift?

 which is perfect when it’s sunny and the actvity level is high. The boys were acting crazy, running and wrestling and being random. I realized that they were literally running circles around me and I still couldn’t keep up. Did I used to do that? Have I slowed so much? Of course, yes, but I’m thankful to be able to get out at all. This is vacation for me, seeing the beauty of God’s Creation and putting forth effort to do it. Now for the views. The view of both guys is looking about 15 degrees west of north. The mountain just right of center is Roan and the very white one to the right is Hump Mtn.

View North from Hawk's Bill

The cliff they stand on has two levels, about 50 feet of drop to a ledge below which is a 200+ feet drop.  The effect from a certain perspective suggests the open beak of a hawk, and thus the name.

Hump Mtn., Carter County, TN

Hump Mtn. is one of my favorite places. I’ve been on top of it in every conceivable condition over 25 times. I really don’t get bored of being in the mountains and would be in many others if time and money allowed. 

Linville Gorge

The picture of Linville Gorge is due south from Hawk’s Bill. From left to right the mtns. are Table Rock, the Chimneys, and Shortoff (the flat-topped, blunt ended one).

  I put this one in for    perspective. This is a good sized gorge with cliffs along its entire length of 100-400 feet. When you get to the bottom of the cliffs through various steep draws you are not halfway to the bottom.  

Grandfather Mtn.

I used to think that I could see the contour of a bearded old man lying in bed that was the grandfather. That’s OK if you can’t see it because that’s not how it got its name anyway. There is a rock, called profile rock where a “face” appears.

Upper Linville Gorge

 

Babel Tower is just to the right of this section. The tower has cliffs on all sides and the river so surrounds it that you can see upstream and down while looking in the same direction. There are some good swimming holes down there (see earlier blog) but it looks abit frozen over today. We saw some bear hunters coming out in their trucks. There is no road into the gorge but they get close and hike down one of the many steep trails in.

Downtown Charlotte, NC

I hope it shows up on the blog. It is faint, but hey, Chalotte is also 80 miles away line of sight. Look on the horizon just above center. I wish I had taken several other pictures because

Snow Art and Black Mtn.

our compass readings for several sites were right on when I checked at home. Besides downtown Charlotte we also saw Pilot Mtn. which is about 85 miles away. The picture at right shows Black Mtn., the ridge that Mt. Mitchell is on.

The Guys on an Outing

We didn’t get tired of looking and the boys jumping around and acting crazy, but we did have to walk back. It was time to go. You store up the memories for the more mundane days and for fodder to be creative, but most of all to be thankful.

The Mad Icycle Murderer

 

Serious Drift

Ice Chicken?

Read Full Post »

I’m happy that snow is white. In fact I don’t believe there is anything whiter. Paint store white, white white, ultrawhite don’t compare and everything else looks dingy.

Ibex sp.? (anyone know?)

“‘Come now, and let us reason together’, says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow…'” (Isaiah 1:18)

“Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.” Psalm 51:7

The wet Christmas snow comes down in the wind

The roadway with its sand and salt and slush is nasty but the snow reminds me that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

The White-headed elders guard town hall

Forgiven and reminded by snow and happy for its stilling and brightening effects I agree with the purpose of this messenger as with the one in the proverb: “Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his master.” (Proverbs 25:13)

White Christmas

White Christmas is rare in these parts but not so rare and fine as the time when the Glorious One comes Whose “head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and HIs eyes were like a flame of fire…” (Revelation 1:14). This whiteness will have been dimmed; this joy trivialized, but as it reminds me of my freedom from sin and the sight the pure in heart will one day see, I enjoy it all the more.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

A prayer more than a poem really, but the heart fixed on Jesus
finds reality in it.

 

Looking for better, a longing within,
God is the answer, the place to begin.
Oh, to be like Him, to gaze on His face,
Full joy and longing, to live by that grace.
 
But how the flesh pulls, it tugs on my heart,
Promises good times, it looks like it’s smart.
But, oh, it deceives, it robs you of joy,
Go ahead do it, no harm is the ploy.
 
The Spirit is strong, depend on His voice,
Listen, it’s quiet, His way the right choice.
Overcome the flesh, world, and the devil,
Peace and rest are found, vanquishing evil.
 
God’s Word is a sword, the truth in my hand,
It cuts to my sin, can heal all this land.
When with ears to hear, my cup is filled up,
The lost see Jesus, God is lifted up.

Read Full Post »